Brandi Disterheft & George Coleman | Surfboard
by Jeff Becker
Brandi Disterheft is a Canadian born New York-based bassist, vocalist, and composer. Her mother was a jazz B3 organist that opened for acts such as The Supremes and Carlos Jobim in the 1960’s. She trained Disterheft’s ears from the age of five when she began classical piano studies. Disterheft’s Aunt Angie Jaree, a GRAMMY WINNING session singer in LA (Claire Fischer, Sergio Mendez), encouraged Disterheft to focus on singing and developing her vocal quality. Disterheft won a JUNO (Canadian Grammy) for her “Debut” album. She landed the bass spot with the legendary Hank Jones. She recorded Pleased to Meet You and toured with the pianist, captivating international audiences at jazz festivals in Japan, Haiti, Canada, Europe, USA, and at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, and the Vienna Opera House. Other recordings and performances include collaborations with Anita O’ day, Benny Green, Cyrus Chestnut, Vincent Herring, and Renee Rosnes, to name a few. Disterheft is now releasing her fifth album, Surfboard, via Justin Time. She is joined by two iconic octogenarian masters — virtuoso tenor saxophonist George Coleman and the definitive Brazilian drummer Portinho — and world-class pianist Klaus Mueller.
Jobim’s “Surfboard” opens the album in a trio setting. Portnho’s drumming is stunning as Disterheft’s big bass sound fills the harmonic space for Mueller’s delicate piano playing. The block chords during the melody drive the energy. Mueller’s solo is passionate as Disterheft holds the pulse and harmony down as the energy pushes forward. That tension of pushing while the bass keeps the pulse down has been a part of many great trio’s sound from the past. This trio is buoyant, and the history of the jazz language can be heard in all three of the player’s approach to the music.
Coleman joins the trio for a superb performance of “Speak Low.” Coleman’s tone and muscularity on the tenor saxophone are always consistent, melodic, and full of melodic/harmonic surprises. The Latin feel combined with the swing sections gives the listener a chance to hear how Portnho and Disterhelft work together to create a feel. Coleman’s solo is a monster; his playing is impeccable as always.
Surfboard is fourteen tunes gleaned from the blues, mainstem jazz, and the Great Brazilian and American Songbooks. With different sounds of the trio, quartet, and Disterheft singing on some selections, the music has depth, variety, and familiarity. Disterheft has beautiful chemistry with both Coleman and Portnho. “I wanted to record us,” says Disterheft. “Porto has a way of uplifting the beat. It’s so funky, with such an infectious groove, and he has so much dynamic range. He has strict rules, but once you learn them, he wants you to break away. He’s always anticipating, turning around the phrases. It’s so much fun.” That all comes through on Surfboard.