MICHAEL DOHERTY’S MUSIC LOG
by Michael Doherty
The Jazz Professors: “Blues And Cubes” – On this album, the group is inspired by the work of Pablo Picasso, particularly during his blue period, as the title suggests. This release contains mostly original material, and opens with “Blue Lamp,” which was composed by saxophonist Jeff Rupert (Rupert also contributes the disc’s liner notes, by the way).
The piece has an easygoing vibe as it begins, featuring some nice work on tenor saxophone. Dan Miller’s trumpet then takes the track in a slightly different direction, and the rhythm is developed more. I really like Marty Morell’s work on drums here. This track also features a wonderful lead by Per Danielsson on piano. That’s followed by “Dora Maar,” which was composed by Danielsson. Dora Maar was a photographer who was depicted in several of Picasso’s paintings. There is a strong sense of movement as this track begins, in large part because of that cool rhythm, the way the piano is part of that force. And the saxophone takes off over that rhythm. There is a good deal of joy in the playing. And in the second half of the track, there is a good bass solo from Richard Drexler.
“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” a piece composed by Jeff Rupert, takes its name from a 1907 Picasso painting which shows five nude women, who seem to me to be leaning against a large upright mirror, perhaps even emerging from it in great flat shards. This track too seems propelled by its rhythm, and there is a certain excitement. I love the way that lead on piano flies. In the second half, guitarist Bobby Koelble delivers an excellent lead that likewise cooks and dances.
His guitar lead in the next tune, “Blue Steel,” is a major part of that track’s appeal. That is followed by the album’s first cover, a seriously enjoyable and exciting rendition of Charlie Parker’s “Segment.” Talk about movement, this one races along like a determined beast. I especially love Jeff Rupert’s work on saxophone here. Things then turn more romantic with “View Of Heaven,” composed by Per Danielsson. Then the group’s cover of “Promenade aux Champs- Élysées,” written by Sydney Bechet, is absolutely delightful, with that great French flavor. I have not visited Paris, but I imagine it is exactly like this music (don’t disappoint me, Paris). That’s followed by “Promenade In Blue,” a track that is several shades of cool, the tone set immediately by Jeff Rupert, who also composed this piece. Richard Drexler contributes “Picasso’s Blue Lobster,” another incredibly cool track that draws you in and maintains its hold on you. As you might guess, it features a good lead on bass. The album concludes with “The Iberian,” a lively track written by Jeff Rupert, who plays alto sax on it. This album was released on August 5, 2022.