During the '70s and '80s, there was an impressive group of jazz musicians in the Cleveland area, some of whom have left town and become aesthetically if not always commercially successful on a larger musical stage. The best known is tenor man Joe Lovano. Others include guitarist Michael Bocian, bassist Abe Loboriel, and drummer Jamey Haddad. The great guitarist Bill De Arango, who worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Red Norvo, and Ben Webster in the '40s and had modernized his style considerably since then, worked with them. Sometimes, these guys would bring their musician friends from out of town to play with them (saxophonist Billy Drewes and pianist Kenny Werner would perform at the King's Pub on Mayfield, owned by Haddad's father). It's a shame a few of these fine sessions didn't get recorded.
You can get a taste of what those days were like on this CD by composer/pianist Tino Derado, a Croatian/German who grew up in Germany, but studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and now lives in New York. Haddad and Drewes, two of the King's Pub guys, are on Derado's latest release, and Derado himself, who's worked with Peter Erskine, Gary Burton, Andy Gonzales, and Dave Liebman, has a style somewhat reminiscent of Werner's. He draws equally from Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, and early McCoy Tyner.
Derado's a masterful lyrical composer and improviser, and several of his themes on this CD are pretty and distinctive. His writing's been marked by Brazilian sources and also has roots in the composing of members of Miles Davis's 1965-'67 quintet, which featured Hancock and Wayne Shorter. His playing often has a gentle, ruminative quality; he has a nice, light touch and swings effortlessly (see his lovely, impressionistic playing on "Gelsomino"). He also turns in sensitive accordion improvising here. Drewes, a great musician, really stands out here, and his style's so unique, it's hard to tell from where it's drawn. He's got a pretty, light, vibratoless tone, like what Stan Getz had in 1950, and probably has drawn on the work of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. His work's very fresh melodically; he's creating all of the time and doesn't fall back on stock licks. Derado has demonstrated his ability to play and write superbly in idioms that were current in the '70s, and now it's time he figures out where to go next.