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From Gershwin to Brazil

Higher Standards
Higher Standards
By the Lori Bell Trio

Beezwax Records: 2008

The Music of Djavan
The Music of Djavan
By Lori Bell

Resonance Records: 2008

These reviews first appeared in the January 8, 2009 issue of the North County Times.

San Diego-based jazz flautist Lori Bell released two albums in 2008 – a straight-ahead set with her trio, and a tribute to contemporary Brazilian composer Djavan with a specially assembled quintet/septet.

The "Higher Standards" set takes in everything from the Gershwins to Charlie Parker to Freddie Hubbard. Joined by guitarist Ron Satterfield and drummer Kevin Koch (Fattburger), Bell turns in a stellar session marked by superb playing. The arrangements are mainstream, but spare enough to provide Bell and Satterfield plenty of room to stretch out. And Koch provides a surprisingly robust foundation on the traps, fully immersed in jazz with none of the R& B underpinnings of Fattburger's music.

The Djavan set, on the other hand, never seems to really find its footing. The rhythm section occasionally darts off into a mild Brazilian Afro-beat, but inevitably reverts to a safe straight-ahead groove. Bell's gorgeous tone on flute, and her fluid segues from the main theme into her improvisational solos, remain as addictive as on the earlier set, but that sense of magic that so defines "HigherS tandards" is much more fleeting on the Djavan set.