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Love Call

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Album Review

The back cover of Love Call, Joan Stiles' first album as a leader, lists her as a "pianist and arranger." Why was it necessary for Stiles to point out that she's an arranger? Because it's a major part of her musical identity — an identity that serves the native New Yorker well on Love Call, which was recorded in 1998 and boasts major names like Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn), Frank Wess (tenor sax), and Warren Vaché (trumpet), as well as trombonist Benny Powell, saxman Jerry Dodgion, and Joe Temperley (an excellent but underexposed baritone saxophonist who is also heard on bass clarinet). Different combinations of players are employed on different songs, but whoever Stiles is featuring on this bop-oriented CD, she brings a real bandleader/arranger mentality to the table. Stiles' arrangements are consistently tasteful, and her sidemen have no problem bringing them to life. If Love Call has any noticeable shortcoming, it is Stiles' tendency to be much too conservative in her choice of material — most of the time, she sticks to warhorses that have been beaten to death over the years. Describing "Surrey With the Fringe on Top," "When I Fall in Love," and "Almost Like Being in Love" as warhorses isn't saying that they aren't great songs, only that they're overdone — and instead of being so warhorse-minded, Stiles would do well to surprise us with more gems that haven't been recorded so often. She obviously has quite an ear for the rich and vast Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn songbook; instead of yet another version of "Take the A Train," how about surprising us with some of the Duke's lesser-known treasures? Ellington was an amazingly prolific composer, and he wrote countless gems that never became standards — gems that would work well for Stiles (such as "The Mystery Song" or "The Eighth Veil"). But despite the warhorse factor, Love Call is an enjoyably solid and promising debut from Stiles, who is well worth keeping an eye on.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

In New York City jazz circles, the bop-oriented Joan Stiles is not only known for her lyrical and melodic piano playing -- she is also known for her skills and talents as a bandleader, arranger, and producer. Stiles (who occasionally does some singing but is primarily an instrumentalist) isn't the sort of jazz artist who is only interested in going to jam sessions and showing listeners how fast she can soar through the chord changes of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" or Sonny Rollins' "Oleo"; she has...
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Love Call, Joan Stiles
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 29 March 2004

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