The cover of Juke Joint Jazz’s album Live At The Arts Block features a watercolor painting by Barbara Levine titled “Musical Landscape.” Which is fitting, as the recording’s nine tracks form a sort of tour across the jazz landscape that came to define the American musical art form in the 1950s and 1960s, and include standards by Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Herbie Hancock.
Recorded at the Greenfield club (to where they return Friday at 8 p.m.) over two nights in the spring and summer of 2013, Live At The Arts Block contains tracks ranging in length from a little over six minutes to a little over nine minutes, allowing each member of the quintet—pianist Perry Friedman, guitarist Michael Levine, bassist Jon Oltman, saxophonist David Kisala, and drummer Chris Hamlen—plenty of space and time for improvisation.
“Mahna De Carnival/Orpheus” begins with a short piano intro before the band engages in Luis Bonfa’s Brazilian melody that Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz turned into a jazz standard. But halfway through the eight-minute track, Friedman follows Levine’s solo with a syncopated break of repeated piano chords, eventually giving way to an extended drum solo by Hamlen.
Other highlights include the ballad “My One And Only Love”—famously recorded by John Coltrane with vocalist Johnny Hartman in the 1960s, and revised by Sting for the 1995 movie Leaving Las Vegas—as well as the album’s final track, Hancock’s funky blues tune “Watermelon Man.”
(Originally appeared in the Valley Advocate.)