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Oliver Nelson and Quartango

Available now from Canada’s Justin Time Records are albums from two of the label’s Montreal-based veterans – the brilliant pianist, organist, composer and arranger, Oliver Jones, and the virtuosic tango-inspired quartet, Quartango. A previously unreleased live recording by Jones is unmasked after 22 years and is aptly titled, Live in Baden, Switzerland, while Quartango’s El Fuego, marks 25 years as a group.



A national treasure in Canada, Montreal’s own Oliver Jones has amassed an impressive discography over the past three decades on Justin Time Records. His latest, Jones’ 22nd release for the label, is a recently uncovered gem from 22 years ago. Recorded in the Spring of 1990 at the Kurtheater on the occasion of “Piano Night,” Live in Baden, Switzerland documents the great Canadian pianist’s indelible chemistry with American bassist Reggie Johnson and Oscar Peterson’s former drummer Ed Thigpen, a longtime resident of Copenhagen, Denmark, who passed away in 2010. Together they run through a wide-ranging program of jazz standards (Freddie Hubbard’s buoyant waltz-time number “Up Jumped Spring,” Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to Freedom” and a bristling swing through the Rodgers and Hart number “Falling in Love with Love”), beautiful ballads (Johnny Mandel’s “Emily” and Thelonious Monk’s dark-hued “‘Round Midnight”) and Jones originals like his chops-busting swinger “Snuggles,” jaunty “Blues for Helen” and ultra-slow downhome blues, “Something for Chuck.” There’s also a spirited stroll through the gospel staple “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” which turns from hymn to hand-clapping romp and features a remarkably melodic drum solo by the great Thigpen, and a virtuosic solo piano Gershwin medley that runs the gamut from “Rhapsody in Blue” to tunes from Porgy & Bess to a blazing rendition of the eternal jamming vehicle, “I Got Rhythm.”

In 1983, Jones released his first Justin Time recording, Live at Biddle’s, a trio recording with bassist Charlie Biddle and drummer Bernard Primeau. He followed up in 1984 with the solo piano album The Many Moods of Oliver Jones, which included liner notes by his mentor, Oscar Peterson. In 1986, Jones won a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) for Lights of Burgundy and in 1989 he won the Félix Award for his album Just Friends. He taught music at McGill University in Montreal in 1989 and the following year his tour of Nigeria was the subject of a 1990 National Film Board of Canada documentary, Oliver Jones in Africa. He has toured internationally since then and makes regular appearances at the Montreal Jazz Festival. In 2005, his album with Ranee Lee, Just You, Just Me, was released to critical and popular acclaim. His most recent studio recording is the 2011 holiday album, A Celebration in Time, which paired the 77-year-old pianist with singer Ranee Lee, the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir under the direction of Trevor W. Payne and featuring the Daphnée Louis Singers from Haiti.

Justin Time’s other new release, El Fuego (originally released in Canada in 2009), marks the 25th Anniversary of the acclaimed Montreal-based group Quartango. Comprised of four classically trained musicians who are exploring their shared passion for Argentinian tango music, Quartango has been described as the next step in Tango Nuevo after Astor Piazzolla. El Fuego also represents the last appearance on record by Quartango pianist and principal composer-arranger Richard Hunt, who passed away on December 8, 2011. With a signature sound characterized by Denis Plante’s bandoneon, René Gosselin’s deep-toned double bass, Stéphane Allard’s singing violin and Hunt’s elegant piano work, the Juno-nominated group forges an alluring chemistry on El Fuego. Highlights include the stirring and percussive opener, “Nueve de Julio,” the alluring tango nueva number “Malena,” the hauntingly beautiful ballad “Noche En El Rosedal,” the romantic “Fall” and the dramatic “Dance of An Angel.” Plante, the group’s newest member, also delivers a passionate solo bandoneon showcase on “La Cachila” while Gosselin’s virtuosic arco work is prominently featured on the Piazzolla piece “Lunfardo.” They close the collection on a nostalgic note with a cover of the 1927 tango-cancion number “Adios Muchachos,” composed by Argentinian Julio Cesar Sanders and later translated into English as “I Get Ideas” (a 1951 hit for Louis Armstrong and later recorded by the likes of Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby, Desi Arnaz and Rosemary Clooney).

With a repertoire ranging from classic tangos and tango Nuevo to ragtime, jazz and Celtic jigs, Quartango has charmed audiences across Canada and from Tokyo to Taipei, Paris, Ankara and New York. They stole the show at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops in 1996, and received enthusiastic accolades for their performances at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival. The group’s appearances with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the National Arts Centre Orchestra were a hit with critics and audiences alike. “The Montreal group heated things up with a concert that was nothing short of brilliant. It was dramatic. It was elegant. It was everything tango music should be,” wrote Kelly-Anne Reiss for The Regina Leader-Post. Hailed by critics for breathing new life into a genre that has a tendency to become mired in nostalgia or bridled by a rigid purism, Quartango continues to push the envelope on El Fuego, their sixth outing on Justin Time Records.

Oliver Jones · Live in Baden, Switzerland
Justin Time Records · Release Date: February 14, 2012

Quartango · El Fuego
Justin Time Records · Release Date: February 14, 2012

For more information on Oliver Jones, Quartango and Justin Time Records visit: justin-time.com

..:: SOURCE: DL Media ::..