Since it’s finally starting to feel like fall, here are five discs to keep you warm against the chill:THE VANGUARD JAZZ ORCHESTRA
“Forever Lasting: Live in Tokyo”
(Planet Arts Recordings)
Initially, I felt this follow-up to the Grammy-winning “Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard” was a great two-disc set that could have been an incredible single-disc release. Recorded in Tokyo three months before the tsunami changed everything, every track has the cracking musicianship and old-school-meets-new-century energy that epitomizes the VJO. However, some animals are “more equal” than others: Tenorman (and last-minute stand-in) Walt Weiskopf scorches the sun on the Bob Brookmeyer juggernaut “Nasty Dance”; Herbie Hancock’s “One Finger Snap” is jet-propelled by Scott Wendholt’s muscle-car trumpet and Luis Bonilla’s take-no-prisoners trombone; and Jim McNeely’s whirling “Extra Credit” is one of three ripping originals by the VJO’s composer-in-residence. But as “sound” as my one-disc theory was, second and third go-rounds through “Forever” made a simple question (“Okay, smart ass, what do you cut?”) impossible to answer: Do you lose Dick Oatts finding every bit of romance in Cole Porter’s “I Love You”? Thad Jones’ bop-cum-blues “Central Park North,” with Wendholt, sop-sax player Billy Drews and horn wizard Terrell Stafford taking turns blowing the front row away? Even a fairly straight-forward rendition of “All of Me” is filled with Big Apple sass. Given that the set’s 13 tracks came from an original selection of 38, I finally had to admit Douglas Purviance and Tom Bellino got it as “down to the bone” as possible. I never denied I wasn’t brilliant, but I’ll happily admit “Forever Lasting” is thoroughly amazing just the way it is.