Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ryan Kisor - Power Source

Power Source is something of a departure for Ryan Kisor, as it features a piano-less quartet fronted by the leader and tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, with James Genus on bass and Gene Jackson on drums. The harmonically sparse format gives the set a more modern edge, although there's still loads of tradition in these seven tracks. After getting warmed up with Kisor's fast, polyphonic title cut, the quartet tackles two Chris Potter originals ("Salome's Dance," "Pelog"), two Mingus charts ("Duke Ellington's Sound of Love," "Boogie Stop Shuffle"), and Jimmy Heath's beautiful waltz "New Picture" before signing off with Ornette Coleman's classic "Bird Food." (Potter, incidentally, recorded both "Salome's Dance" and "Boogie Stop Shuffle" on his 1994 release, Pure.) Kisor's trumpet work is superb, his rapport with Potter highly developed. While he has consistently displayed great promise from a remarkably early age, Power Source represents his biggest "growth spurt" thus far. He shouldn't be underestimated. -- David R. Adler, All Music Guide

1 Power Source Kisor 6:21
2 Salome's Dance Potter 12:00
3 Duke Ellington's Sound of Love Mingus 8:31
4 New Picture Heath 7:30
5 Boogie Stop Shuffle Mingus 6:15
6 Pelog Potter 6:07
7 Bird Food Coleman 7:38

Ryan Kisor Trumpet
Chris Potter Sax (Tenor)
James Genus Bass
Gene Jackson Drums

Recorded June 11, 1999
2001 Criss Cross (Netherlands) 1196

Papo Vazquez - Breakout

Papo Vazquez - Breakout
Steve Berrios Percussion, Drums, Vocals
Milton Cardona Percussion, Conga, Vocals,
Lincoln Goines Bass
Andy González Bass, Vocals
Edgardo Miranda Guitar, Vocals, Cuatro
Mario Rivera Sax (Tenor), Vocals
Carlos "Patato" Valdes Vocals
Papo Vazquez Percussion, Trombone, Vocals
Larry Willis Piano

While his heart lies in what is commonly known as Latin jazz, Papo Vazquez's solos on trombone are squarely within the tradition of hard bop. Part of this can be attributed to Papo's early studies with Slide Hampton and his exposure to J.J. Johnson and the young John Coltrane. The influences show, and while Papo might not have mastered the advanced techniques of some of his colleagues, his own brand of tough blowing is well suited to the kind of Latin sounds that he prefers. Lest anyone think that he cannot hold his own in a straight jazz setting, the Van Heusen-Mercer standard, "I Thought About You" and Neil Hefti's "Girl Talk" are added to the mix. Papo is joined in the front line by tenor saxophonist Mario Rivera, and by a strong rhythm section featuring Steve Berrios and Milton Cardona. The excellent solos should satisfy hard core jazz fans, while the vocals, heavy emphasis on percussion, danceable tunes, and Latin flavor do not compromise roots.
— Steven Loewy AMG

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kenny Barron Quintet April 10, 2004 Köln, Germany

Source: Radio
Sound: A

Kenny Barron- p
Eddie Henderson- tp,flh
Vincent Herring- as
Charles Fambrough- b
Ben Riley- dr

1. Phantoms 16.43
2. Lullabye 15.28
3. Song For Abdullah 11.07
4. Blue Monk (T.Monk) 12.07

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wynonie Harris - 1950-1952 (Chronological 1289)

I'm not sure of how the Chronological folk devolved into their R&B line - although I think it pretty excellent - but this, and the previous edition of the Wynonie Harris seem to fit better there than with these Chronologicals. Although that may be just hindsight talking; we've often discussed the fact that the distinction seems tenuous. Johnny Otis stands as a good example of being firmly placed in both "camps". It's kind of like how Van Gelder did Blue Note sessions on, say Mondays, Prestige on, whatever, Tuesdays. The same musicians, the same studio, the same engineer - just different days of the week and yet people think they are very different animals. In any case here is some hootin' and hollerin'.

Wynonie Harris specialized in driving jump blues numbers that celebrated the party side of urban life, and his tales of whiskey-soaked nights and relentless hangovers reached its peak during his long stay at King Records. This collection covers his last years at the label, and while a couple of his biggest hits are here, like the cranked-up version of Hank Penny's country classic "Bloodshot Eyes" and the engaging novelty number about trying to outsmart the IRS, "Good Morning Judge," Harris by this time was on the sundown side of his zenith, and even though he would seem like an artist ready-made for the emerging rock & roll craze, he never really made the transition. The song "All Night Long" included here is actually by Detroit group the Royals (who later morphed into Hank Ballard & the Midnighters), with Harris doing a guest vocal on the bridge. "All Night Long," in an interesting bit of music trivia, was the flip side to the original version of "Every Beat of My Heart," which Gladys Knight & the Pips turned into a huge hit nearly a decade later. ~ Steve Leggett

Wynonie Harris (vocal)
Milt Buckner (piano)
Joe Wilder (trumpet)
Hank Ballard (vocal)
Tyree Glenn (trombone)
John Hardee (tenor sax)

1. Rock Mr. Blues
2. Stormy Night Blues
3. Good Morning Judge
4. Be Mine My Love
5. Mr. Blues Is Comin' To Town
6. I Want To Love You Baby
7. Put It Back
8. Oh Babe!
9. Teardrops From My Eyes
10. A Love Untrue
11. Triflin' Woman
12. Man, Have I Got Troubles
13. Cofessin' The Blues
14. Tremblin'
15. Just Like Two Drops Of Water
16. I'll Never Give Up
17. Bloodshot Eyes
18. Here Comes The Night
19. Lovin' Machine
20. My Playful Baby's Gone
21. Lucious Woman
22. All Night Long
23. Keep On Churnin'
24. Married Woman - Stay Married
25. Rot-Gut

Two-Tenors Winner of Our Time: Dave Liebman & Ellery Eskelin

"On first inspection, teaming up saxophonists David Liebman and Ellery Eskelin might seem to have the potential for an acute dose of musical schizophrenia. But closer consideration reveals that there is indeed a meeting point. Eskelin may have a reputation as a free player, but he's equally concerned with bringing more traditional aspects into his wildly exploratory work. Liebman, on the other hand, may come from a stronger background in the mainstream jazz tradition, though he is by no means a straight-ahead player, and he's certainly no stranger to the greater extremes offered by free improvisation." John Kelman, All About Jazz


David Liebman and Ellery Eskelin have complementary styles on tenor. Both can play in the freest of settings but are also strong hard bop improvisers when that is what the music calls for. On Different But the Same, they contribute five originals, explore three selections based on the chord changes of "What Is This Thing Called Love," and dig into pieces by Tadd Dameron and Wayne Shorter. Their explorations of standards are particularly invigorating as is the interaction between the two tenors. Bassist Tony Marino and drummer Jim Black are both very active players, particularly on the originals which are very much musical democracies. There is enough variety in structures and moods along with consistently high-quality playing to hold one's interest throughout, and there is no shortage of passion. Recommended.

1 Tie Those Laces Liebman 6:45
2 Gnid Dameron 7:23
3 You Call It Eskelin 7:47
4 Different But Same Liebman 6:46
5 What Is This Thing: Subconscious-Lee/Hot House/What Is This Thing ... Dameron, Konitz, Porter 5:43
6 How Do I Know? Eskelin 6:03
7 Vonetta Shorter 7:41
8 The Gun Wars Liebman 10:10

David Liebman tenor saxophone
Ellery Eskelin tenor saxophone
Tony Marino bass
Jim Black drums

Recorded May 30, 2004
2005 Hatology 615


When saxophonists David Liebman and Ellery Eskelin got together to make Different But The Same (Hatology, 2003), it seemed a strange partnership—Liebman, the Jedi master of structure and changes, and Eskelin, best known for gutsy free improv. But the album title proved to have been well chosen, and the two players showed that a lot more united than divided them, acknowledging each other's core disciplines and creating something alive and beautiful in the space between them. The sparks fly again on Renewal. The taproot of this synergy can be traced back to 1983, when Eskelin relocated from Baltimore to New York and began studying with Liebman. Liebman's study programs are legendarily challenging, demanding of their participants rigorous conceptual application and also, which is particularly relevant here, encouraging the broadest knowledge of the jazz tradition and its treasure chest of compositions. At some point, Liebman is almost certain to have told Eskelin, as he tells other students, that he had to master the conventions before he could successfully abandon them. On Forms (Hatology, 1990) and later albums, with their insightful recalibrations of standard material, Eskelin showed that he'd been listening.

Form plays as big a part in Renewal as in-the-moment intuition. Most of the tracks are around seven to ten minutes long, allowing Liebman and Eskelin time to develop their themes, counterpoints and variations as well as to improvise on them. As before, the saxophonists are in the fast company of bassist TONY MARINO and drummer JIM BLACK. Liebman and Eskelin each contribute two pieces, Eric Dolphy's "Out There" is performed twice, there's a short group improvisation, and, for the first time, Marino and Black write one tune each.

Black's swashbuckling 7/4 driver "Cha" gets the album off to a forceful start, and is followed by Eskelin's thoughtfully composed, multi-sectioned "The Decider." The title sounds like something hard bop trumpeter Lee Morgan ought to have written and the music itself has his edgy drive. It also carries echoes of Billy Strayhorn's delicious saxophone voicings in the Duke Ellington band. Marino's 10-bar blues "Palpable Clock" rings the legacy bell too, sounding like something bassist Charles Mingus might have brought to the same intense 1960 session as "Original Faubus Fables."

Other highlights include Liebman's lovely ballad "Renewal" (more shades of Strayhorn) and his newly written "Dimi And The Blue Men." Apparently inspired by a recent trip to Mauritania, "Dimi" includes a theme which has faint echoes of the late Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure's "desert blues," but the underlying vibe, with its spacey bells and percussion, sounds every bit as Balinese as it does sub-Saharan. In a reversal of expectations which also occurs elsewhere on the album, it is Liebman who takes the tune to its outer harmonic edges while Eskelin, acting as a concurrent reference point, stays closer to the topline.

This is music which resoundingly succeeds in achieving Liebman's mission statement of creating a disc in which straightahead and free jazz "intersect with immediacy and urgency." A blast from start to finish.

1 Cha Black 7:53
2 The Decider Eskelin 9:14
3 Out There [Take 2] Dolphy 5:10
4 Renewal Liebman 6:57
5 Palpable Clock Marino 5:06
6 Dimi and the Blue Man Liebman 10:14
7 IC Eskelin 8:57
8 Free Ballad Black, Eskelin, Liebman ... 2:07
9 Out There [Take 1] Dolphy 6:44

David Liebman tenor saxophone
Ellery Eskelin tenor saxophone
Tony Marino bass
Jim Black drums

Dave Liebman is on the left channel, Ellery Eskelin is on the right channel
Recorded June 27, 2007
2008 hatOLOGY 654


1. The Decider 11:22
2. That Classy Touch 14:26
3. In The Meantime 14:04
4. The Fourth Wall 14:21
5. Unknown 11:43

David Liebman tenor and soprano saxophone
Ellery Eskelin tenor saxophone
Tony Marino bass
Jim Black drums

Live from 40th German Jazzfestival, HR Sendesaal, Frankfurt am Main/Germany, 30th October 2009
sOURCE: DVB-S@320, 48kHz > raw data > ProjextX > mp3DirectCut > mp2

Monday, December 28, 2009

James Reese Europe's 369th U.S. Infantry "Hell Fighters" Band - The Complete Recordings

Some short while ago I mentioned that I had Europe's bio sitting here unread; this accompanied a post of the Paragon Orchestra playing Europe tunes. Well, I finally got hold of the real thing (no slight intended to the Paragons) and it is a treat. The notes are great, and the music illuminating. The bio, however, remains unread. maybe it'll end up as a contest prize. Speaking of books, there is a quote from Floyd Levin's book in comments. I have read that one, and can easily recommend it.

It seems to me that some enterprising enthusiast might do some interesting work on the presence of the jazz scene - the very early jazz scene - in the Hispanic world. Between the Puerto Rican musicians Europe drew upon, Panama's Luis Russell ... anybody have any thoughts on that?

Shortly after the IAJRC label came out with a CD reissuing all of the music recorded by James Reese Europe's unusual band during their four 1919 sessions, Memphis Archives put out a CD with the exact same material. The difference between the sets is that while IAJRC put out the material in strict chronological order, Memphis Archives instead chose to simulate a Europe concert. The liner notes of course differ greatly on these two competing sets, and the edge is given to Memphis Archives for Tim Gracyk's very extensive essay. The transitional music mostly hints at jazz but does not contain much improvisation. Europe's brand of dance music occupied its own category, including some Noble Sissle vocals, marching music, rags, waltzes, novelties and future jazz standards, and either of his sets (recorded just a short time before his murder) are recommended. Now if only Europe's eight groundbreaking titles of 1913-1914 would be reissued. ~ The Dixieland Man

1. That Moaning Trombone
2. Memphis Blues
3. On Patrol In No Man's Land
4. How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?
5. All Of No Man's Land Is Ours
6. My Choc'late Soldier Sammy Boy
7. Dixie Is Dixie Once More
8. Plantation Echoes
9. St. Louis Blues
10. Jazz Baby
11. Ja Da
12. The Darktown Strutters' Ball
13. Missouri Blues
14. Jazzola
15. Russian Rag
16. That's Got 'Em
17. Clarinet Marmalade
18. When The Bees Make Honey
19. Mirandy
20. The Dancing Deacon
21. Arabian Nights
22. Indianola
23. Hesitating Blues
24. Broadway Hit Medley

Ryan Kisor - The Sidewinder

Ryan Kisor - The Sidewinder
Sam Yahel - organ
Peter Bernstein - guitar
Willie Jones III - drums

No review of this to be found anywhere. I'll call it as a fitting 'tribute album', with excellent work by all. Straight-ahead jazz impeccably executed.
1. Candy 2. Panic Attack 3. Ceora
4. Sidewinder 5. Battle Cry 6. Speedball
7. Dream 8. Like Someone in Love 9. Mr. Kenyata

Sunday, December 27, 2009

BN LP 5035 | Sal Salvador Quintet

Well, we have now reached the half-way mark (35 of 70)!

I have to admit that beyond this release, I'd never really followed up on Sal Salvador's playing - so was not sure about what to say as a background, however, I found this from Classic Jazz Guitar and it was a 'near' revelation to me,

"Guitarist Sal Salvador's (1928 - 1999) career paralleled those of Johnny Smith, Chuck Wayne, Jimmy Raney and Mundell Lowe. In fact, from his earliest days in New York, Sal Salvador was in an elite group of guitarists that came up in the 1940's. Before he was known as a featured soloist in his own right, he appeared as part of the rhythm section on an early Mundell Lowe recording, became friends with and was mentored by Johnny Smith and jammed with his room mates Jimmy Raney and Tal Farlow. And, although some of them might be better known outside of jazz guitar circles, Sal Salvador was their equal in every way.

Sal Salvador started out professionally in the 1940's. He worked for a number of years on the road perfecting his playing and then moved into the studios. He was on the staff of Columbia Records and at the Radio City Music Hall in the late 1940's and early 1950's. In the early 1950's he joined Stan Kenton's Band where he was a featured soloist. After two years with Kenton he formed his own quartet making some recordings under his own name for the first time in 1954 and 1955. In 1958 he was featured at the Newport Jazz Festival.."

"In recordings from early in his career he already exhibited an exceptional comping and rhythm guitar which was utilized by Mundell Lowe on his 1954 recording The Mundell Lowe Quintet. At the same time, his single note solo playing had reached a very advanced level. The recording from the same period The Sal Salvador Quintet demonstrated the single note playing style that would become the hallmark of this guitarists' outstanding career. And throughout his career he played successfully in a wide variety of venues from the small group to the big band, to the duet, always bringing something new to these settings."

For specific tracklistings, have a look at the excellent Jazz Discography Project

Count Basie - Volume 2: 1930-1932 (Masters Of Jazz)

"This ... CD picks up during the series of recording sessionsorganised at Kansas City's Lincoln Hall over a five-day period at the end of October 1930. On 29th October and the following two days, the artistic and technical personnel brought in specially from New York managed to put nine further titles in the can, all of them presented here.

On 15th April 1931, while in New York taking care of engagements at the Lafayette Theater and the Savoy Ballroom, the same line-up took a few hours off to record two compositions from the catalogue of a music publisher, a personal commision Moten certainly wasn't going to refuse. As ever, Jimmy Rushing was on hand to look after the vocals."

So begin, pretty much, the liner notes for this excellent Masters Of Jazz survey of Count Basie. It should be noted that this - and the previous - volumes are more properly a survey of the Moten outfit; but Basie was so central (as were Durham and Buster Moten) to the direction the band was taking that it is a wise decision to look at Basie's carreer from a point well before he was "Count" Basie. Even the Chronological series begins at, I believe, 1936. Yet another example to prove that the MOJ series makes itself the definitive one for the artists it chose to examine. At least, I think so.

Count Basie (piano)
Bennie Moten (arranger)
Buster Moten (piano)
Harlan Leonard (clarinet, soprano and alto sax)
Eddie Durham (valve trombone)

1. Liza Lee (master take)
2. Liza Lee
3. Get Goin' (Get Ready To Love)
4. Professor Hot Stuff
5. When I'm Alone
6. New Moten Stomp
7. As Long As I Love You
8. Somebody Stole My Gal
9. Now That I Need You
10. Bouncin' Around
11. Ya Got Love
12. I Wanna Be Around My Baby All The Time
13. Toby
14. Moten Swing
15. Blue Room
16. Imagination
17. New Orleans
18. Only Girl I Ever Loved
19. Milenberg Joys
20. Lafayette
21. Prince Of Wails
22. Two Times

Billie Holiday - Volume 1: 1933-1936 (Masters Of Jazz)

Here we are as the curtain rises on the singing career of Miss Eleanora Fagan/Billie Holiday. In the year or two prior to these first sessions, she had been singing in small joints like the Gray Dawn, a club out in Queens. She was heard several times performing at various spots in Harlem by the young John Hammond. Also with him on occasion was another of his 'discoveries' and future brother-in-law, Benny Goodman. Goodman only occasionally had to be clobbered over the head to recognize talent; this time he was more percipient than at others; he used a nine-piece combo that had been assembled for an Ethel Waters date to back up Lady for what would be here first commercially issued recording - it appears here, naturally, as the first track.

There is a better synopsis of events to be found in the always excellent liner notes accompanying this masters Of Jazz issue. The sessions are the two Goodman backed tunes, and the rest by the masterful Teddy Wilson. Take it from zero, Dudearonymous and me; if you see any of these Masters Of Jazz CDs, grab 'em. Grab 'em twice.

Billie Holiday (vocal)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Jack Teagarden (trombone)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Charlie Teagarden (trumpet)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Benny Goodman (clarinet)
Grachan Moncur II (bass)
John Kirby (bass)
Cozy Cole (drums)
Gene Krupa (drums)

1. Your Mother´s Son In Law
2. Riffin' The Scotch
3. I Wished On The Moon
4. What A Little Moonlight Can Do
5. Miss Brown To You
6. A Sunbonnet Blue And A Yellow Straw Hat
7. What A Night, What A Moon, What A Girl
8. I´m Painting The Town Red
9. It´s Too Hot For Words
10. Twenty-Four Hours A Day
11. Yankee Doodle Never Went To Town
12. Eeny Meeny Miney No
13. If You Were Mine
14. These 'n' That 'n' Those
15. You Let Me Down
16. Spreadin Rhythm Around
17. Life Begins When You're In Love
18. It´s Like Reaching For The Moon
19. These Foolish Things
20. I Cried For You
21. Guess Who

Track Of The Day

from Verses to Jazz - Wallace Roney


Trumpeter Wallace Roney's debut as a leader at the age of 26 occurred when he was a member of Tony Williams' Quintet. In fact, Williams is the drummer on this quintet set which also features tenor saxophonist Gary Thomas, pianist Mulgrew Miller and bassist Charnett Moffett. The group performs originals by Roney, Williams and two by Cindy Blackman, plus the standard "Blue in Green." The music is essentially advanced hard bop, with Roney as usual often sounding a bit tonewise like his hero Miles Davis.

1 Float Blackman 5:43
2 Verses Roney 9:37
3 Blue in Green Davis, Evans 5:39
4 Topaz Blackman 5:37
5 Lawra Williams 6:36
6 Slaves Roney 12:18

Wallace Roney trumpet
Gary Thomas tenor saxophone
Mulgrew Miller piano
Charnett Moffett bass
Tony Williams drums

1992 Muse MCD-5335


There is no irony to be found in the title Wallace Roney chose for his 14th studio album. The title is a statement. This album is most assuredly jazz, despite the presence of turntablists (DJ Axum appears for the second straight album, joined by Val Jeanty), occasional tangents into electronic downtempo, and 21-year-old bassist Rashaan Carter's teaming with drummer Eric Allen to lay down some of the thickest grooves this side of hip-hop. The bass doesn't walk all that much (which isn't to say that Carter's debut is anything short of outstanding) and you won't find much swing-era swinging or obsessions with '60s bop. That's a good thing. Jazz is 21st century jazz by a weathered, seasoned, and credentialed 20-year vet. Unlike many contemporary musicians, Roney (the same trumpeter faultily plagued by Miles Davis-clone assassinations) is not stuck in the past. Instead, he makes music that is an ode to the past, music one wouldn't mistake as straight-ahead jazz, although it does stare and venture straight ahead. On "Stand," Roney's reprise of the Sly Stone classic, Jeanty scratches in the chant "break the rules." Jazz, however, sounds less like rebellion and more like invention. For the past three LPs — Jazz, Prototype (2004), and Mystikal (2005) — Roney and his trusted companions (pianist and wife Geri Allen, saxophonist and brother Antoine Roney) have collaborated to produce music the opposite of static. There is nothing static about tunes like Carter's urban and brooding "Fela's Shrine" that begins with a world vibe and morphs into street-corner jazz and Roney's "Revolution: Resolution," which travels through esoteric (in jazz terms) techno to the song's bellicose theme. These are jazz songs that couldn't have been created until now, contemporary in a fundamental (but not commercial) way. The older, purist crowd may either scoff or trivialize this album, which is actually expected. Jazz points to the new direction of jazz, and not everyone has to or will follow.

1 Vater Time Roney 8:51
2 Children of the Light Roney 5:21
3 Inflorescent Carter 6:29
4 Fela's Shrine Allen, Roney 5:00
5 Nia Roney 9:17
6 Revolution: Resolution Roney 5:28
7 Her Story Roney 5:46
8 Stand Stone 11:00
9 Un Poco Loco Powell 7:48

Wallace Roney trumpet
Antoine Roney saxophones, clarinet
Geri Allen piano
Robert Irving III fender rhodes
Val Galder Jeanty turntables
Rashaan Carter bass
Eric Allen drums

Recorded March 12-13, 2007
2007 High Note 757174

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Robert Wilkins - The Original Rolling Stone

Yazoo's Original Rolling Stone is a wonderful disc containing 14 of the 17 sides Robert Wilkins recorded before the war. Wilkins was one of the great country-blues artists, and these songs -- including "Rollin' Stone," "That's No Way to Get Along," "Jailhouse Blues" and "I'll Go with Her" -- became legendary, not only because the songs were terrific (which they are) but also because the performances are intense and haunting. Original Rolling Stone features these songs in the best fidelity possible, along with some fairly good liner notes, making this the best package of his most influential recordings. ~ Thom Owens

Among the most unsung of Delta blues greats is Robert Wilkins. A Mississippian who staked his claim to American musical history out of Memphis, Wilkins's plaintive voice and innovative songwriting produced a breadth of material unmatched by all but a few recorded bluesmen. This essential collection represents sessions from 1928 through 1935, when Wilkins enjoyed his greatest popularity, giving the world such finery as "I Do Blues," "Rollin' Stone (Parts 1 and 2)," "Jailhouse Blues," and "I'll Go with Her." His poignantly confessional "That's No Way to Get Along" from 1929 was recreated some 35 years later by the Reverend Robert Wilkins as "Prodigal Son," and covered by the Rolling Stones on Beggars Banquet. Another unusual number is the scandalous "Old Jim Canan's," the subject of which is a notorious Memphis barrelhouse run by bootlegger Jim Kinane, where blues-loving patrons were "drinkin' whiskey and sniffin' cocaine" until the cops came in 1916. ~ Alan Greenberg

1. I'll Go With Her
2. Rollin' Stone (Part 1)
3. Get Away Blues
4. Alabama Blues
5. I Do Blues
6. Long Train Blues
7. That's No Way To Get Along
8. Fallin' Down Blues
9. Jailhouse Blues
10. Losin' Out Blues
11. Rollin' Stone (Part 2)
12. Old Jim Canan's
13. Nashville Stonewall
14. Police Sergeant Blues

Peter Green Live Mix 1968-70

Concert recordings of Peter with Fleetwood Mac
featuring his soloing on mostly bluesy tracks.

Django Reinhardt - 1937 (Chronological 748)

ArwulfX2 is, as usual, correct; this is a great place to jump in to Django. Where was Django the day after he recorded 'Parfum'? With Coleman Hawkins and his All Star Band (Benny Carter et al) - that can be found on Chrono 613 - and just generally hiiting one of the high points of his playing.

Django Reinhardt's legacy of great jazz records is so vast that some may feel intimidated by the sheer volume of material. Where to begin? What's the best? Did he ever make "bad" recordings? All of these questions quickly dissipate when the music itself starts to roll. Most of Django's music is delightful, which explains his continued popularity many years after his untimely death. It just so happens that this volume in the Reinhardt chronology is an excellent place to dive in. The year 1937 was a great one for jazz, both in the U.S. and in Europe, where this music was flourishing in a collective atmosphere of ethnic diversity not unlike that which had fueled its birth and development in the social cauldrons of Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis, Kansas City and New York. The Parisian jazz scene positively thrived during the 1930s, with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France quickly establishing itself as the definitive Continental swing unit. By April of 1937 this group had been making records together for more than two years. Their style had fully jelled into an exacting formula suitable for interpreting jazz standards and pop songs with impeccable ease. Within a few days 20 outstanding performances were waxed, and every single side is astonishing in its freshness and lyrical invention. In addition to defining the sound of the Quintet in its prime, this volume includes two unaccompanied guitar solos -- the stunningly virtuosic "Parfum" is one of Django's all-time greatest recorded achievements -- and a pair of guitar/alto saxophone duets featuring the great Andre Ekyan. ~ arwulf arwulf

Django Reinhardt (guitar)
Stéphane Grappelli (violin)
Pierre Ferret (guitar)
André Ekyan (alto sax)
Marcel Bianchi (guitar)

1. Exactly Like You
2. Charleston
3. You're Driving Me Crazy
4. Tears
5. Solitude
6. Hot Lips
7. Ain't Misbehavin'
8. Rose Room
9. Body And Soul
10. When Day Is Done
11. Runnin' Wild
12. Chicago
13. Liebestraum N°3
14. Miss Annabelle Lee
15. A Little Love, A Little Kiss
16. Mystery Pacific
17. In A Sentimental Mood
18. The Sheik Of Araby
19. Improvisation
20. Parfum
21. Pennies From Heaven
22. Tiger Rag

Friday, December 25, 2009

Lenny Bruce - Live At The Curran Theater

I am, as many of you are, a lifelong Lenny Bruce fan. I was aware of him even when I was a kid; it's strange to think of that now. I've posted several of his things over the years, but this performance, which I think is his finest available recording in many ways, hasn't been here before.

Once Lenny Bruce had amassed legal troubles, he turned a corner, going from standup performer doing funny, if acerbic, routines (which is more than being simply a comedian) to being a free-improvising social commentator. Here is the first CD reissue of Bruce's 1961 show at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. It's a direct rerelease of the three-LP set issued a decade after the show, a half-decade after Bruce's overdose, and it's a fantastic experience. Bruce sounds breathlessly overrun as the show starts, trying to distill his San Francisco bust into something cohesive. Of course, Bruce's technique includes turning away from the microphone, interrupting himself, fracturing his own narrative, and drawing his verbal loops ever wider. Bruce is able over these two-plus hours of narrative to cover a wealth of topics, from his Philadelphia bust and the court system's persecution of his performances to a wealth of historical figures. His style at the Curran remains difficult to absorb, full of solipsism, elliptical thought, recreated conversations with interlinear commentary, and more. Wondering whither the roots of performance narrative à la Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, and David Sedaris? Here they are. ~ Andrew Bartlett

CD 1
1. In Which The Artist Discusses Critics, Definitions, His San Francisco Bust, Courts, Juries, Cops, His Philadelphia Bust, Corruption, Obscenity, And Defines Jewish And Goyishe

2. In Which The Artist Discusses "The Lie", His Courtroom Fantasy, George Shearing And Guide Dogs For The Blind, Tropic Of Cancer, Cops And Bad Toilet Training, And Describes The Philadelphia Hotel Room

3. In Which The Artist Describes His Ride To Jail In Philadelphia, Jails In General, And The Philadelphia Lower Courts

CD 2
1. In Which The Artist Fantasizes About The Shirley Beck Letters And Discusses Blue Suits, Bobby Kennedy, Russians, Integration, Juries, And Humor

2. In Which The Artist Recounts His Fantasy With The Judge, Discusses Las Vegas, The Paradox Of Obscenity, Tits And Ass, Nuns, Paul Robeson, And Adolph Eichman

3. In Which The Artist Continues With The Eichmann Theme, The Thomas Merton Poem, Christ And Moses, Legalization Of Pot, Hillbillies, And Ends With Judy Garland's Farewell

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fleetwood Mac - Then Play On

Clapton? Beck? Page? Peter Green spanked 'em all.

This Peter Green-led edition of the Mac isn't just an important transition between their initial blues-based incarnation and the mega-pop band they became, it's also their most vital, exciting version. The addition of Danny Kirwan as second guitarist and songwriter foreshadows not only the soft-rock terrain of "Bare Trees" and "Kiln House" with Christine Perfect-McVie, but also predicts Rumours. That only pertains to roughly half of the also excellent material here, though; the rest is quintessential Green. The immortal "Oh Well," with its hard-edged, thickly layered guitars and chamber-like sections, is perhaps the band's most enduring progressive composition. "Rattlesnake Shake" is another familiar number, a down-and-dirty, even-paced funk, with clean, wall-of-sound guitars. Choogling drums and Green's fiery improvisations power "Searching for Madge," perhaps Mac's most inspired work save "Green Manalishi," and leads into an unlikely symphonic interlude and the similar, lighter boogie "Fighting for Madge." A hot Afro-Cuban rhythm with beautiful guitars from Kirwan and Green on "Coming Your Way" not only defines the Mac's sound, but the rock aesthetic of the day. Of the songs with Kirwan's stamp on them, "Closing My Eyes" is a mysterious waltz love song; haunting guitars approach surf music on the instrumental "My Dream"; while "Although the Sun Is Shining" is the ultimate pre-Rumours number someone should revisit. Blues roots still crop up on the spatial, loose, Hendrix-tinged "Underway," the folky blues tale of a lesbian affair on "Like Crying," and the final outcry of the ever-poignant "Show Biz Blues," with Green moaning "do you really give a damn for me?" Then Play On is a reminder of how pervasive and powerful Green's influence was on Mac's originality and individual stance beyond his involvement. Still highly recommended and a must-buy after all these years, it remains their magnum opus. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Led by singer-guitarist Peter Green, the first version of Fleetwood Mac was one of England's premier bands and possibly the greatest white blues band ever to emerge from the '60s blues revival. 1969's Then Play On is their best album and Green's pinnacle achievement. Heavily influenced by Otis Rush, Green had an unusually lyrical style for a blues musician, able to draw on flamenco, folk, even classical guitar--all of which make an appearance in the ambitious instrumental coda to his major opus, "Oh Well." Despite the inclusion of superior modern blues songs like "Rattlesnake Shake" and "Show-Biz Blues," Then Play On is notable for its instrumentals. Standout cuts range from the dream-like voyages "My Dream" and "Underway" to virtuosic three-guitar jams like "Searching For Madge" and "Fighting For Madge," both of which feature Green's inspired guitar work.

Peter Green (vocals, guitar)
Jeremy Spencer (vocals, guitar)
Danny Kirwin (vocals, guitar)
John McVie (bass)
Mick Fleetwood (drums)

1. Coming Your Way
2. Closing My Eyes
3. Showbiz Blues
4. My Dream
5. Underway
6. Oh Well
7. Although The Sun Is Shining
8. Rattlesnake Shake
9. Searching For Madge
10. Fighting For Madge
11. When You Say
12. Like Crying Like Dying
13. Before The Beginning

Milt Jackson - Meet Milt Jackson

This collection is valuable for its three tracks from Jackson's January 1956 collaborations with Lucky Thompson: a snappy, elegant "They Can't Take That Away From Me"; the proto hard bop of Jackson's "Soul Ville"; and a short workout on the ballad standard "Flamingo." Thompson's sound and technical mastery put him in the pantheon of Webster, Hawkins, Byas, and Lester Young. Jackson brims with bright ideas at every turn. The rhythm section of Wade Legge (piano), Wendell Marshall (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums) are -- no surprises here -- a classy, supporting cast. The balance of the tracks Jackson recorded with Thompson in 1956 are also superb. They can be found spread over Jackson's Roll 'Em Bags, Jackson's Ville, and The Jazz Skyline. The remaining tracks on Meet Milt Jackson burn with a dimmer light. The four tracks from a 1949 date have some good playing from Jackson and from Billy Mitchell on tenor sax, but pale next to the three lead-off numbers. There's also one inconsequential selection from a 1954 date with Jackson crooning a ballad while saxophonists Frank Morgan and Walter Benton noodle in the background. The remaining performance, Kenny Clarke's "Telefunken Blues," is a solid Basie-style blues from a 1955 session with Jackson, and Clarke, in the company of several Basie bandmembers of the day. ~ Jim Todd

Milt Jackson (vibes, piano)
Lucky Thompson (tenor sax)
Billy Mitchell (tenor sax)
Frank Morgan (alto sax)
Julius Watkins (French horn)
Gerald Wiggins (piano)
Walter Benton (tenor sax)
Wade Legge (piano)
Percy Heath (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)
Kenny Clarke (drums)

1. They Can't Take That Away From Me
2. Soulful
3. Flamingo
4. Telefunken Blues
5. I've Lost Your Love
6. Hearing Bells
7. Junior
8. Bluesology
9. Bubu

Lucky Thompson - Tea Time

Pretty much the last things Thompson recorded before his descent into obscurity and homelessness. These are sessions he did for the Groove Merchant label - there was one date, comprised of three tracks performed at Cook County Jail with the same personnel as tracks 6-8 that occured between these two sessions - and, as noted, are the final recorded legacy of this player who was one of the most promising of West Coast players of his generation, made before (as the liner notes so sadly put it) " ...Thompson chose early retirement to the hectic pace of jazz touring." This album can also be found under the title "Homecomin'".

Lucky Thompson (soprano and tenor sax)
Cedar Walton (keyboards)
Larry Ridley (bass)
Sam Jones (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)
Louis Hayes (drums)

1. Home Come'n
2. Tea Time
3. Soul Lullaby
4. Then Soul Walked In
5. Fillet of Soul
6. Monsoon
7. Sun Out
8. Yesterday's Child

Cecil Taylor - Pleistozaen Mit Wasser

While Thomhmhasso Giurecchio seems to be disappointed by this release (I suspect a lack of pastelate intervals to be the problem) the Penguin Guide rates this highly and mentions it as one of the highlights of the series; a series about which they further say; " ...this stands as one of the major jazz recording projects and, were the original boxed set still available ... we would have no hesitation in awarding it a crown."

Here we go. Two of the wizards of free improvisation -- hell, a pair of the weirdest and most wonderful guys ever to play music -- team up for an evening in Berlin in 1988. Most notable about this set is that Derek Bailey plays half of it on acoustic guitar and half of it on electric guitar, and what didn't happen. Things start softly enough, with Bailey looking for a language to engage Taylor. That language consists of slowly plinked and plucked strings that Taylor responds to not with his piano, but with a low, guttural groan and his poetry droning into the face of the guitar. The way he reads and half speaks/half sings toward Bailey is almost absentminded. Bailey's playing is wonderful, pretty in places, furious and flagrant in others. Harmonic notions come fully formed from his fingers and Taylor is silent (it might have looked different in person), but here it's just dead space. After 13 minutes or so, Bailey takes control of the tomfoolery and just goes for it. It will be nearly a half hour into the performance before Taylor goes near the piano, at which point Bailey plugs in electric. But that's about all. His playing is stellar, he moves through mode after mode of changing timbre, nuance, and harmonic shifts and shapes -- and Taylor contents himself to play the role of his accompanist. There isn't any heat (at least not the kind one would expect from such a meeting); there isn't the kind of explosive aggression one would expect from Taylor and so formidable a partner. In the end, the set never goes anywhere really, becoming a meandering mass of ideas that don't connect to each other or to anything else. What a disappointment. In fact, this set should have been called "Glass of Water on the Table Sitting Still." ~ Thom Jurek

Cecil Taylor (piano)
Derek Bailey (guitar)

1. First Part: (Acoustic Guitar)
2. Second Part: (Electric Guitar)

Berlin: July 9, 1988

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Max Roach Quintet - Long As You're Living

I usually avoid anything with Stanley Turrentine - I really don't like him at all, but I do like his brother Tommy in equal measure. And I like Max Roach, and I like Julian Priester, and I am unfamiliar with Bobby Boswell: but even so, I still am going to like him better than Stanley T. This is a powerful and relatively unknown little group, and Max had Booker Little coming in just around the corner.

The most obscure group that drummer Max Roach led actually recorded four albums in 1960; a quintet with tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine (then a complete unknown), his brother Tommy on trumpet, trombonist Julian Priester and bassist Bobby Boswell. Strange that this Enja release is the only one of their recordings thus far to appear on CD. Although the playing of The Turrentines is not at the same innovative level as Roach's prior group with Booker Little and George Coleman, they come up with consistently fresh statements during the well-rounded set and the tenorman was already instantly recognizable. Highlights include a couple of Roach drum features, two Kenny Dorham compositions ("Lotus Blossom," "The Villa") and "Night in Tunisia." ~ Scott Yanow

Max Roach's post-Clifford Brown ensembles became more experimental down the road, but this 1960 band, with the brothers Tommy and Stanley Turrentine, and Julian Priester, was short-lived, very satisfying, and one of the most memorable combos the drummer led. Continuing to concentrate on hard bop themes, the band is hardly quiet as the title would suggest. It perhaps could be said that this band was a sleeper in not being as recognized as the superior collective talent would indicate. Perhaps the obscure bassist Bob Boswell has something to do with it, or that the front line would find their niches in jazz well past their membership in this fine combo. Of course Roach's drumming is far beyond reproach, but it is his choice of material and their composers that have to strike even the most literate jazz head as quite daring.

Max Roach (drums)
Tommy Turrentine (trumpet)
Julian Priester (trombone)
Stanley Turrentine (tenor sax)
Bobby Boswell (bass)

1. Lotus Blossom
2. Drum Conversation
3. The Villa
4. Long As You're Living
5. Night In Tunisia
6. Prelude
7. Drum Talk

Fruit Hall, Kaiserslautern: February 5th, 1960

Bud Freeman - 1945-1953 Tenor Sax And Orchestra

I like these Membrane records, recovering old LPs difficult to find. This time are two very different LP from Bud Freeman: "Tenor Sax And Orchestra" and "Bud Freeman", recorded in 1945 and 1953, respectively.

When Bud Freeman first matured, his was the only strong alternative approach on the tenor to the harder-toned style of Coleman Hawkins and he was an inspiration for Lester Young. Freeman, one of the top tenors of the 1930s, was also one of the few saxophonists (along with the slightly later Eddie Miller) to be accepted in the Dixieland world and his oddly angular but consistently swinging solos were an asset to a countless number of hot sessions. Freeman, excited (as were the other members of the Austin High School Gang in Chicago) by the music of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, took up the C-melody sax in 1923, switching to tenor two years later. It took him time to develop his playing, which was still pretty primitive in 1927 when he made his recording debut with the McKenzie-Condon Chicagoans. Freeman moved to New York later that year and worked with Red Nichols'' Five Pennies, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Ben Pollack, Joe Venuti, Gene Kardos and others. He was starred on Eddie Condon''s memorable 1933 recording "The Eel." After stints with Joe Haymes and Ray Noble, Freeman was a star with Tommy Dorsey''s Orchestra and Clambake Seven (1936-38) before having a short unhappy stint with Benny Goodman (1938). He led his short-lived but legendary Summe Cum Laude Orchestra (1939-40) which was actually an octet, spent two years in the military and then from 1945 on alternated between being a bandleader and working with Eddie Condon''s freewheeling Chicago jazz groups. Freeman travelled the world, made scores of fine recordings and stuck to the same basic style that he had developed by the mid-''30s (untouched by a brief period spent studying with Lennie Tristano). Bud Freeman was with the World''s Greatest Jazz Band (1968-71), lived in London in the late ''70s and ended up back where he started, in Chicago. He was active into his 80s and a strong sampling of his recordings are currently available on CD. ~ Scott Yanow

There are two rare LPs in 10 inch format among the many records recorded by Freeman with famous Chicago musicians - the titles from these two albums have been compiled on this CD. Eight tracks were recorded for the one LP in December 1953 as part of the series "Classics In Jazz", and Freeman was able to present his typical sound in a brilliant setting. Dick Cary was on piano, George Barnes on guitar, Jack Lesberg played bass and Don Lamond played drums. Cary was a multi-talented musician - he arranged for Benny Goodman, played piano with Louis Armstrong's All-Stars in 1947 and 1948, and trumpet with Tony Parenti, before returning to piano while working with Jimmy Dorsey. He also worked a great deal with Muggsy Spanier, Eddie Condon and Max Kaminsky, even playing alto horn with Bobby Hackett. George Barnes, a swinging mainstream guitarist, demostrated just what he had learned from Charlie Christian in several neat single note solos on electrically-amplified guitar.
It is interesting to compare these swinging recordings made in 1953, tracks like Three Little Words and Sweet Georgia Brown, with the tracks recorded at various sessions in 1945 and released on the second 10 inch LP under the plain title of "Bud Freeman - Tenor Sax And Orchestra". The recordings show that Freeman bosted an inimitable style earlier on in his carrer, but the sound is still clearly different. This is not only due to the fact that the recordings had been made eight years before but was, of course, mainly due to the different line-up of the orchestra.
Freeman hired an experienced trumpeter for the sessions held between August and November 1945 - Yank Lawson, who had already played with Bob Crosby, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman and who later formed a famous band with bassit Bob Haggart. Haggart was also a mamber of the Freeman orchestra and formed a strong rhythmic backbone with pianist Gene Schoeder and drummer Ray McKinley for the line-up's soloits. Schoeder joined forces with Eddie Condon towards the end of 1945, playing on the club's opening night and staying with Condon for some seventeen years. Clarinettist Edmond Hall, trombonist Lou McGarity and guitarist Carmen Mastren also belonged to the band's stars.
Peter Bölke

VIDEO: Cecilia Bartoli Sings the Harder Stuff

Cecilia Bartoli - L'art des castrats
a film by Olivier Simonnet
Recorded at the Palais Royal de Caserta
Il Giardino Armonico - Giovanni Antonini
September 2009

A double CD was also made of this astonishing music, see details in comments. If you don't know Cecilia Bartoli: "Bartoli is considered a coloratura mezzo-soprano (Koloratur-Mezzosopran) with an unusual timbre. She is one of the most popular (and one of the top-selling) opera singers of recent years.[1] Bartoli is much liked by the concert-going public for her lively, vivacious on-stage persona, while her lyric voice and investigations of other Baroque-era music have given her considerable recognition even among the non-opera-going public." And if you don't think you like opera, this is the place to start.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ben Webster And Joe Zawinul - Soulmates

Several reviews comment on what an unusual pairing this was, but more unusual perhaps - and the probable reason for the configuration - is that Webster and Zawinul were roommates for a time. This is additionally of interest because it was Zawinul's first date as a leader and Frog's last session in America.

"Soulmates offers a strange pairing with the young Joe Zawinul, with Jones sitting in on four tracks, althoughWebster was happy with any pianist who stood his ground. Highlights include a poignant reflection on Billie Holiday's 'Trav'lin' Light' and the title blues." ~ Penguin Guide

What initially seems like an unlikely pairing for this session delivers on its unique pedigree with performances that do full justice to tenor legend Ben Webster and to the then up and coming pianist Joe Zawinul. Recorded in 1963 while the pianist was a member of the Cannonball Adderley Sextet, the session came about as a result of Webster's and Zawinul's sharing a New York apartment for several months. It's actually billed as Zawinul's first session as leader and Webster's last in the U.S. before his move to Europe. The tunes generally keep to mid-tempos, a pace that affords Webster the opportunity to wield the gentler side of his legendary sound. His rich, nuanced tone and magnificent phrasing are superbly in evidence. Listeners only familiar with Zawinul's soul-jazz side with Adderley and later his pioneering synthesizer work with Weather Report may be surprised at his eloquent playing here in a classic style right out of Tommy Flanagan or Red Garland. The presence of Thad Jones -- a legend in his own right -- on cornet for four tacks is a bonus. With a rhythm section rounded out by the slightly lesser legends of drummer Philly Joe Jones and bassist Sam Jones, alternating with Richard Davis, there isn't one false step on this set. It may tend to the mellower side of things, but that simply means there's more opportunity to luxuriate in Webster's peerless sound. ~ Jim Todd

Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Joe Zawinul (piano)
Thad Jones (cornet)
Sam Jones (bass)
Richard Davis (bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)

1. Too Late Now
2. Soulmates
3. Come Sunday
4. The Governor
5. Frog Legs
6. Trav'lin' Light
7. Like Someone In Love
8. Evol Deklaw Ni

Charlie Watts - Charlie Watts/Jim Keltner Project

This particular release features a second CD with re-mixes based on the original release. This is not Watts performing in the styles of the named drummers (who would want that, anyway?) but more a set of themes for various styles based on entirely subjective choices. Quite good, although I could be very satisfied if the re-mixes weren't included. That said, there may well be those who prefer them. Its a big motherfuckin' world, after all.

Those fans with more than a passing knowledge of the Rolling Stones will be aware of drummer Charlie Watts' longtime interest in traditional jazz. Some might even be aware that Watts has assembled and fronted a British big band, and has also led a solid jazz quintet with several CDs to its credit. Still, it comes as something of a surprise initially that Watts would produce what appears to be a solo drum CD, with song titles named after various jazz master drummers -- "Max Roach," "Art Blakey," "Shelley Manne," and so on. Superficially, this might suggest an ego trip for Watts wherein he sets out to demonstrate his dazzling technique and versatility, but Watts' characteristic modesty would never allow him to attempt such a thing. Instead, what he has done -- with the assistance of drummer, producer, and idea man Keltner -- is to distill some sort of personal essence of each of the nine drummers featured on this CD, and then put together what amounts to a series of musical portraits. So, for example, the Art Blakey piece is very African and tribal, with plenty of tom-toms, emphasizing that aspect of Blakey's playing. And Airto's piece, of course, uses a samba rhythm, supplementary congas, and a bandolean for added ethnic flavor. Other interpretations are a little less obvious, and perhaps more subjective. Kenny Clarke's piece, for example (Clarke being the elegant longtime drummer with the Modern Jazz Quartet), uses violins, oud, and tar, and has a decidedly Middle Eastern cast -- even though Clarke has no obvious connections with the Middle East. The Billy Higgins and Max Roach selections make creative use of samples and have a techno element, although the Roach piece also includes some very good traditional jazz piano as well. And the Tony Williams selection is a somber dirge, and less an interpretation of Williams' nimble percussive style than a moving memorial to his unexpected death. Throughout, Watts weighs in with his customary tasteful, rock-solid beats, and Keltner (along with other musical guests) sees to it that the program is diverse and entertaining. This is an unusual "one-off" project, but it is a highly successful one. ~ Bill Tilland

The Charlie Watts-Jim Keltner Project contains some undeniably bewitching grooves, all of which reflect a 21st-century intersection of world beat, techno, and jazz. But here's the usual question: Is this meeting of great drummers really a jazz album? Sure, the tunes are named as dedications to a Mt Rushmore-sized litany of jazz drummers. But the tunes don't portray the individual drummers' styles. Rather, they evoke a feeling or mood--like a world tour played on acoustic and electronic percussion with a dance-club vibe prevalent throughout. Elements of swing, trad jazz (Watts's elemental Baby Dodds-like pulse on the spatial dirge "Tony Williams"), and bebop (the appearance of an uptempo piano trio in the Afro-techno aural collage known as "Max Roach") occur throughout. Overall, though, this is less a jazz set than a percussion ensemble's take on the global village, with "Kenny Clarke" sounding an eastern vibe and "Billy Higgins" portraying a blues beat as it might sound in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, via Bombay. The concluding "Elvin Suite" is the most satisfying, and not coincidentally the most acoustic in character, with a Coltrane-ish tempo, McCoy Tyner-like piano filigrees, stylized swing brushes, and an enchanting South African-style vocal chorus with blues shout-outs. Watts, Keltner, and their label dub this "techno-world beat exotica," and it certainly shows traces of all. ~ Chip Stern

Charlie Watts (drums)
Jim Keltner (percussion)
Kenny Aronoff (percussion)
Keith Richards (guitar)
Mick Jagger (keyboards)
Blondie Chaplin (vocals)

CD 1
1. Shelley Manne
2. Art Blakey
3. Kenny Clarke
4. Tony Williams
5. Roy Haynes
6. Max Roach
7. Airto
8. Billy Higgins
9. Elvin Suite

CD 2
1. Elvin Suite (Coldcut Remix For Helen Dawn)
2. Airto (Restless Soul 2gether 4ever Mix)
3. Airto (Restless Soul Moonshine Mix)
4. Airto (Modaji Contemporary Mix)
5. Max Roach (J Flava 2000 Mix)
6. Airto (Eat Static featuring Will White and Stuart Zender Remix)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mal Waldron - Mal, Dance And Soul

I'm not sure of the subsequent history of this inaugural recording for the Tutu label - it was formed by Horst Weber, who also founded Enja. This Japanese issue is nominally an Enja release. Perhaps one of our discographically talented friends can run it down for us. It is, also, number 188 in the Plosin list. I wonder how many of that list have appeared here?

"One mark of a jazz genius is his ability to continue to grow as a musician as he ages. This is certainly true of, for example, Pharoah Sanders, who is playing more beautifully than ever--and putting himself in increasingly challenging musical settings. It was also true of Stan Getz, who made three of his finest records at the very end of his career when he was dying of lung cancer.

It is no less true of that great and somewhat underregarded jazz pianist, Mal Waldron. Of course, it helps to find brilliant young bandmates, players perfectly attuned to one's esthetic, yet skilled and mature enough to push an artist along new pathways. His association with drummer John Betch and bassist Ed Schuller resulted in--to these ears, at least--his finest recordings. These players, each with a profound understanding of and love for the blues, connect with each other in a way that seems almost mystical, unearthly. Check out their interplay on, esp., "A Bow to the Classics." This represents for me one of the very high points of group interaction in all of jazz. And it just keeps happening over and over, as, for example, on the next number, the delightful waltz, "Little One." They imbue this music with such ebullience that it never fails to send my spirits soaring. No wonder Waldron himself declared these players to be his all-time favorite bandmates. Their up tempo numbers are no less amazing, swinging with incredible high-energy drive. I esp. like their inspired reading of the Waldron original "Blood and Guts." Schuller, the son of a famous classical musician father, takes a simply brilliant bass solo, followed by Betsch in absolutely top form on drums.

But--amazingly--there's an even more significant connection that emerges during the course of this disc: The serendipitous coming together of Mal Waldron and tenor saxophonist Jim Pepper. Meant to be a one-off meeting, it lead to a long and fruitful association between the two players as well as the truly remarkable disc, The Art of the Duo, ... The depth and immediacy of this meeting of musical minds encapsulates what's best about jazz--that people from such diverse cultural backgrounds (Pepper, a full-blooded Lakota Indian, Waldron, an African-American) could come together for the first time and instantly sound like they've been playing together for decades. Like the title of their first encounter, they are instant "Soul Mates."

Sadly, such fine music as this barely registers on the cultural radar screen, Indeed, given the vagaries and vicissitudes of the jazz world, we should be thankful that it exists at all. And we should be especially thankful for the vision and dedication of Tutu label founders Horst Weber and Peter Wiessmueller to allow this glorious music to see the light of in the first place, and to continue to keep it available with such meager demand." ~ Jan P. Dennis

Mal Waldron (piano)
Jim Pepper (tenor sax)
Ed Schuller (bass)
John Betsch (drums)

1. Dancing On The Flames
2. Bow To The Classics
3. Little One
4. From A Little Acorns
5. Soul Mates
6. Blood And Guts
7. Solar
8. Blue Monk
9. Golden Golson

Recorded at Trixi Studio, Munich: November 25th, 1987

Archie Shepp - Soul Song

I don't know if Scotty actually listened to this. Yes, Shepp can be inconsistent but he is always worth checking out. And at this price you can't go wrong. The Penguin Guide notes that " ... [s]uccessive recordings of 'Mama Rose' are a useful guage of Shepp's progress." From where and to where they don't mention - but here's yet another version.

This is one of Archie Shepp's more erratic sets. On the 15 1/2 minute "Mama Rose," athe great tenor (who is joined by pianist Ken Werner, bassist Santi Debriano and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith) unfortunately plays his out-of-tune soprano and takes an eccentric vocal. Additionally, Werner's brief "Soul Song" tends to wander without much direction. Much better is the 18 1/2 minute "Geechee," a lengthy workout for Shepp's emotional tenor, but due to this release's weak first half, it can be safely passed by. ~ Scott Yanow

Archie Shepp (vocals, soprano and tenor sax)
Kenny Werner (piano)
Santi Debriano (bass)
Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums)

1. Mama Rose
2. Soul Song
3. Geechee
4. My Romance

Studio N, Cologne: December 1, 1982

Django Reinhardt - 1944-1946 (Chronological 945)

Thanks to a certain high ranking Nazi official whose penchant for jazz music caused him to violate the aggressively racist policies of his own government, Django Reinhardt was able to perform his music throughout most of the Occupation without being deported, involuntarily sterilized, or exterminated along with many of his fellow Gypsies. Nevertheless, weary of an imposed police state and shaken by Allied "precision" bombardment of Paris, Reinhardt and his second wife Naguine attempted to flee to Switzerland by way of Thonon-les-Bains at Lac Leman in 1943. Apprehended and jailed at Thonon, they were set free by the same fortuitous fluke in the Nazi establishment. Given the disruptive nature of these harrowing circumstances, it is not surprising that the only recordings known to have been made with Reinhardt in attendance during the year 1944 are three sides cut on November 3, almost exactly six months after the birth of Babik Reinhardt. Performed by a big band led by tenor saxophonist Noel Chiboust, they constitute the first three selections on the thirteenth volume in Django Reinhardt's portion of the Classics Chronological Series. Recorded in January 1945, tracks four through seven are attributed to the Jazz Club Mystery Hot Band, a mostly American group consisting of Reinhardt, trumpeter Bernie Privin, tenor saxophonist Peanuts Hucko, pianist Mel Powell, bassist Joe Schulman, and drummer Ray McKinley. The Classics chronology skips over a number of recordings that Reinhardt made during 1945, including an unaccompanied guitar solo and performances by several groups of varying size. A handful of titles, played by the U.S. Air Transport Command Band under the direction of Sgt. Jack Platt, do appear as tracks 8-11. The producers of this collection chose to "cut to the chase" by delving into the first months of 1946 when Reinhardt recorded with two distinctively different Hot Club Quintettes. On January 31 and February 1 he was reunited with violinist Stéphane Grappelli in London (tracks 12-19), and on May 15 he cut four sides with a reconfigured Quintette without a violinist and greatly modernized by the innovative technique of clarinetist/alto saxophonist Hubert Rostaing (tracks 20-23). Reinhardt's postwar career (1945-1953) was characterized by what seems in retrospect to have been a puzzling gradual wane in popularity. This appears to have set in at once, for his response to a paucity of regular work during the spring of 1946 led Reinhardt to invest in a set of brushes, paints, and other materials necessary for quiet reflection as he began expanding his improvisational energies to include light as well as sound as his personal system of poetics evolved from the audible to the visual. This is a useful if incomplete sampling of Reinhardt's late wartime and immediate postwar recordings. For a more complete chronology of Reinhardt's entire surviving musical legacy, consult the exhaustively thorough Integrale series, available in 20 double-disc volumes from Fremeaux & Associes. ~ arwulf arwulf

Django Reinhardt (guitar)
Mel Powell (piano)
Bernie Privin (trumpet)
Stéphane Grappelli (violin)
Peanuts Hucko (tenor sax)
Hubert Rostaing (clarinet, alto sax)
Ray McKinley (drums)
Buncha French guys

1. Welcome, Pt. 2
2. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
3. Artillerie Lourde
4. How High The Moon
5. If Dreams Come True
6. Hallelujah
7. Stompin' At The Savoy
8. Djangology
9. Swing Guitars
10. Manoir De Mes Rêves
11. Are You In The Mood?
12. Coquette
13. Django's Tiger
14. Embraceable You
15. Echoes Of France (La Marseillaise)
16. Love's Melody
17. Belleville
18. Nuages
19. Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)
20. Swingtime in Springtime
21. Yours And Mine
22. On The Sunny Side Of The Street
23. I Won't Dance

Lowell Davidson

Lowell Davidson - Lowell Davidson Trio

A very interesting guy, he studied with Madame Chaloff.

"This recording is the only one made by Lowell Davidson that is commercially available..... He was extremely brilliant, his sincerity and commitment to creativity was profound. The rhetoric he used to describe his music was very rarefied and reflected his background in church music and science (and perhaps hallucinogens). He talked about the upper partials of a tone, his desire to manipulate them and their effect on the biochemisty of the brain. Lowell felt that if you could expand the consciousness of people with music it would have a molecular effect and cause their brain matter to evolve. He also described hallucinations he had as if they were real and seemed fearless about peering into the darkest parts of his own thoughts." ~ Joe Morris

Pianist Lowell Davidson was a man of many parts. A biochemist, he found his muse in music and a strong one it was. He not only played the piano, he also played drums with the New York Art Quintet. He was into avant-garde and free jazz forays that he raised to a new level through his manipulation of notes. The last is evidenced in the marvelous imagery that rises on this, his only record. Lowell had Gary Peacock on bass and Milford Graves on percussion, a rare pairing that gives insight to his vision. They work well in the free flowing and changing dimensions he sets up, ready for his every whim, alert to his agile shifts.

Davidson could make the piano speak in many different ways. His mainstay was improvisation, and he let his right hand find founts of inspiration and invention in beautifully flitting notes as well as deep emphasis. Davidson did not let space dominate the intervals. He let it in judiciously. And when he did, Peacock and Graves moved in.

There are five tunes on the CD, but "Strong Tears" and "Stately 1" show how Davidson could ramp up improvisation and let melody set the path for him.

Davidson sets up a repeated vamp on "Strong Tears" as Graves thuds with bass kicks and lets the rhythm hit a lighter flex with his rim shots on the cymbals. Davidson ups the pace and the depth and as intensity storms in, he darts about before cutting loose and hammering home a welter of well conceived notes. But it is not all boil and fury. Peacock takes over, drawing in the propulsion and getting Davidson and Graves to soak in the calm. It's well-crafted, with the groundwork paved with rich imagination.

The delicate melody of "Stately 1" is gently unfolded by Davidson. Graves is a tad too busy on percussion, but he does not detract from the effect. Davidson gives the melody more momentum before he fragments it. From then on the trio rides the open range executing ideas at the turn of a beat. When they have satiated themselves, and the listener, they return to acknowledge the melody. Davidson has used his take-off point with affecting dexterity.

ESP says that they hope to acquire tapes of Davidson performing in Boston. Meanwhile this recording serves well to define the extraordinary talent that was Lowell Davidson. ~ Jerry D'Souza

Lowell Davidson (piano)
Gary Peacock (bass)
Milford Graves (percussion, drums)

1. "L"
2. Stately
3. Dunce
4. Ad Hoc
5. Strong Tears

Recorded on July 27, 1965

Morris Voigt Plsek - The Graphic Scores Of Lowell Davidson

First things first: this is not jazz. Pianist/composer Lowell Davidson recorded one CD during his lifetime, on the legendary New York label ESP-Disk, and he worked with Ornette Coleman in the '60s, but he eventually abandoned even the most avant-garde precincts of jazz, developing a highly individual musical idiom with the help of some likeminded (and open-minded) collaborators in his Boston home. Three of those latter-day kindred spirits -- guitarist Joe Morris, bassist John Voigt, and trombonist Tom Plsek -- delve into the stacks of previously unrecorded Davidson compositions, many of which employ abstract graphic notation rather than traditional notes on staves, on this CD. The results are stark, non-traditionally melodic, yet at times utterly captivating. Voigt never creates a 4/4, swinging groove, but his plucking does suggest form rather than mere exploration of the instrument's possibilities as a sound source. Morris adopts several modes of attack, from Derek Bailey-esque scrapes and pings to an almost Django Reinhardt-like fast picking style, and on certain tracks he seems to be bowing the strings. Plsek may be the player who goes farthest out, sputtering and dribbling smeared notes from the bell of his horn like a cross between Albert Mangelsdorff and trumpeter Bill Dixon. The absence of a rhythm instrument gives this music a chamber-ish feel, so it could potentially appeal just as much to fans of Elliott Carter as to longtime Morris (or Jimmy Giuffre) listeners. Never mind the historical significance of Davidson and these scores, which would have likely remained lost had it not been for his former student/collaborators' wish to preserve his legacy (Riti is Morris' label); MVP LSD comes highly, highly recommended on grounds of pure beauty. ~ Phil Freeman

In the 1960s, Lowell Skinner Davidson (1941-1990) was active in two very different milieus: studying biochemistry at Harvard and playing with Ornette Coleman in the New York free jazz scene. Davidson made only one LP, Lowell Davidson Trio (ESP, 1965), but left behind a great deal of unrecorded material. Much of this was notated as graphic scores on 3×5 index cards. These serve as the jumping off point for a full length recording by Joe Morris, John Voigt, and Tom Plsek.

All three worked with Davidson, making this a recording that is closer to authoritative than many potential interpretations of his diminutive, but densely packed, scores. The music is imparted both the rhythmic fluidity of swing, but the trio also acknowledges the influence of the avant-garde New York School (John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, and Christian Wolff), and their penchant for graphic score realizations. Thus, Voigt alternates swinging walking bass-lines with angular melodies, multiphonics, and harmonics. Plsek undertakes free jazz solos, but also explores the noise spectrum of blats and wails. Morris’ post-tonal comping style fits right in here, supplying a bridge between jazz and concert music genres. He also frequently adopts a vigorous, snapping attack, adding percussive affects to the proceedings.

While it is unfortunate that Lowell Skinner Davidson didn’t have the opportunity to more prolifically record, all three of this CD’s performers are dedicated custodians of his musical legacy. Based on the evidence here, one hopes his scores will become more widely available for study and performance.

Joe Morris (guitar)
Tom Plsek (trombone)
John Voigt (bass)

1. Blue Sky And Blotches
2. Particles
3. Separate Blue X's
4. Gold Drop #2
5. Orange Cards
6. Index Card #3
7. Index Card #1
8. Index Card #2
9. Double Sheet
10. Gold Triptych
11. Gold Drop #1

Sunday, December 20, 2009

BN LP 5034 | Horace Silver Trio, Volume 2 (Art Blakey - Sabu, Spotlight on Drums)

Following on from the quote on Wynton Kelly, from Richard Cook's excellent book on Blue Note;
"In the end, Kelly made only two sessions for Blue Note, and Lion squeezed three 78's and a single ten-inch LP out of them. Yet they clearly hint at what was soon to emerge in Horace Silver's recordings, and, a decade later, those of the Three Sounds, all of which would be crucial to Blue Note's business."

For specific tracklistings, have a look at the excellent Jazz Discography Project

Clifford Thornton - Freedom & Unity

One of the standard bearers of the Black Nationalist branch of the New Thing, trumpeter/valve trombonist Clifford Thornton's musical profile nearly vanished in the years before he died in Switzerland in the mid-1980s.
Perhaps it was caused by his late 1960s detour into academe at Wesleyan University, plus his stint in the 1970s as an educational counselor at the African American Institute. Maybe it was because Thornton, who was once barred from entering France as a suspected Black Panther, and who plays a composition entitled "Free Huey" on this CD, found this his commitments were out of fashion in the conservative jazz world. Certainly he and other radicals like trumpeter Cal Massey were usually shoved into the background by the pronouncements of his more articulate and news-generating associate, Archie Shepp.

Or the clues might come on this session, recorded five days after John Coltrane's funeral in 1967, but not released until 1969 on Thornton's own label. While the sounds he and his regular quintet produced were good, they weren't on the same level as the masterworks of Coltrane, Ornette Coleman or even Shepp. This is cast in boldest relief when Trane's bassist Jimmy Garrison and future musical explorer Joe McPhee -- on trumpet -- make their appearance on three tracks. Suddenly you can hear the music ratcheting up to a much higher plane.

Not that this CD isn't a satisfying New Thing session, that can be enjoyed by any followers of the genre and other open-minded folks. It's just that even in the context of 1967, the trombonist and his sidemen showed themselves as followers rather than trailblazers.

Alto saxophonist Sonny King, for instance, who wrote three of the tunes here, is very much in thrall to Coleman in more than his solo work. Each of his pieces has a head that echoes, without copying, Coleman's writing for his first, highly influential quartet. Each of his tunes also has a straightforward bass line -- played by Don Moore who had been in the New York Contemporary 5 with Shepp and Bill Dixon -- which defines them as unvarnished freebop, not more experimental fare. Drummer Harold (Nunding) Avent powerfully smashes away on many tracks, but he's more-or-less aping the attack of Elvin Jones in Coltrane's influential quartet. Plus the vibes and horns voicings on "Uhuru" sounds like the sort of arrangement Shepp used for similar groups.

Throughout, however, with a touch of multiphonics and more grit than usually appears in the offerings of practitioners of that bastard 'bone, Thornton is the only soloist in his regular combo who appears to be trying to transcend his influences.

This same timidity creeps into the drummer's two tunes, even with the band swelled by Edward Avent's cornet and second bassist Tyrone Crabb, who was in McPhee's combo of the time. Avent's military-style horn appears to be playing either "Reveille" or "Taps" on both tunes, perhaps appropriate for "The Wake" -- a threnody honoring Coltrane's passing perhaps? -- but less so on "Free Huey". Sudden cacophonous horn improvisations add a fill-up to the pieces at times, but when on the first, the two basses begin playing in unison it merely brings to mind how that was done on Trane's OLÉ session rather than anything else. Audio faults also appear during the quiet bass solos, and since part of the CD was dubbed from rare LPs some surface noise is amplified as well.

Although McPhee was in his twenties at the time, he and the more experienced Garrison appear with fully formed personalities on the three tracks on which they're featured. Some of his double-timed, flamenco-style strumming characterizes the bassist's work here. Meanwhile, goosed by McPhee's upper register trumpet blasts the two versions of "O.C.T." -- the second of which is two minutes longer than noted in the CD booklet -- suggest the multifaceted talents that would be amply revealed -- and noticed -- during the next couple of decades. The trumpeter's high-register squeaks even spur Thornton into creating a memorable gravelly solo on "O.C.T. (alternate take)."

If you're interested in hearing a young improviser at the beginning of his career, exemplary soloing from a now-departed veteran bassist, plus the practically amber-preserved sound of indisputably 1960s New Thingers, then this CD will be for you. But don't expect to discover any fresh musical revelations. -- Ken Waxman

Clifford Thornton (valve trombone)
Edward Avent (cornet)
Joe McPhee (trumpet)
Sonny King (alto saxophone)
Karl Berger (vibes)
Don Moore, Tyrone Crabb (bass)
Jimmy Garrison (bass)
Harold "Nunding" Avent (drums)

1. Free Huey
2. 15th Floor
3. Miss Oula
4. Kevin (The Theme)
5. Exosphere
6. Uhuru
7. O.C.T.+ 8. The Wake
9. Babe's Dilemma
10. O.C.T. (alternate take)

Lee Morgan - Leeway (1960)

When Lee Morgan recorded Leeway, in 1960, he was still a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and he brought his pals to play with him, including Art Blakey himself. He would only make anotherto Blue Note in 1963 (the famous Sidewinder). In the meantime, he was fighting against heroin addiction. I looked for it in Penguin Guide and didn't find a line. In allmusic there's this short review:

Review by Scott Yanow

This date was one of trumpeter Lee Morgan's more obscure Blue Note sessions, but fortunately, it has been reissued on CD. Matched with altoist Jackie McLean, pianist Bobby Timmons, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Blakey, Morgan interprets two of Cal Massey's compositions, McLean's "Midtown Blues" and his own blues "The Lion and the Wolf." The music is essentially hard bop with a strong dose of soul; the very distinctive styles of the principals are the main reasons to acquire this enjoyable music.

Tracks -

1- These are soulful days (C. Massey)

2- The lion and the wolff (L. Morgan)

3- Midtown blues (J. McLean)

4- Nakatini suite (C. Massey)


Lee Morgan - Trumpet

Jackie McLean - Alto sax

Bobby Timmons - Piano

Paul Chambers - Bass

Art Blakey - Drums

Archie Shepp - Phat Jam In Milano

It had been quite some time in between releases for Archie Shepp, and this 2009 issue adds to his reputation as a musician who has always been known for mixing progressive modern jazz with spoken word. This live performance in Milano, Italy, at the Teatro Manzoni during the Festival Apertivo teams Shepp with a formidable band alongside fellow creative alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, drummer Hamid Drake, solid improvising bassist Joe Fonda, and rapper/poet Napoleon Maddox. The mutual respect between all of these artists is clear and present, as the group weaves in the outspoken music of the saxophonists with bold invention and pointed statements about current society and politics via Napoleon's wordplay. It's an engaging set of music that comes expected from the participants, but is consistently surprising in its depth and substance about recent events. If you remember Shepp's great story of "Mama Rose" from years past, "Revolution" will strike a similar chord as he talks about his grandma; slavery; a time with no instruments aside from bodies; and a trip from Philadelphia to San Francisco to Baghdad, looking for the sun amidst war. Maddox is quite the lithe linguist, speaking about "doing what you got to do" on the funky rap "Dig," and railing against the foibles of the George W. Bush administration's "illegal business controlling America" during the lengthy "Ill Biz." Lake and Shepp together push the harmonic envelope like few other sax tandems on the modal Latin jazz piece "Casket," while a third saxophonist, Cochemea Gastelum, joins in on occasion. For most listeners, a highly modified version of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" will seem an odd inclusion, but the band pulls it off. The original plodding drum beat of John Bonham is replaced by a much faster funky rhythm as the horns chip and bark while the frantic, manic rapping of Maddox refers to letting life pass by too fast, enjoying the natural and spiritual, and saying "I live because I was once dead." As these players have certainly expressed their share of freedom through music, so they do once again with an upbeat fervor, timely themes, and the animated Maddox raising the level of this hybrid art form to new contemporary heights. In many ways, it's a triumphant return for the unflappable and ever evolving Archie Shepp. --by Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide

1 Dig Fonda, Maddox, Shepp 5:38
2 Ill Biz Daly, Maddox 11:04
3 Kashmir Bonham, Maddox, Page, Plant 11:36
4 The Life We Chose Albano, Maddox, Savgolini ... 6:18
5 Revolution Shepp 13:26
6 Casket Anderson, Maddox, Walker 9:08
7 Ill Biz [Radio Edit] Daly, Maddox 3:38

Archie Shepp (voice, saxohone)
Napoleon Maddox (vap, beatbox)
Oliver Lake (saxophone)
Joe Fonda (double bass)
Hamid Drake (drums)
Cochemea Gastelum (saxophone)

Live in Milano for the festival Aperitivo in Concerto at Teatro Manzoni.
2009 Dawn of Freedom 901

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jazz The World Forgot Volume 1

Scotty throws the baby out with the bathwater - again. I think the notes are pretty damn good - if you want extended personnel lists (which would be nice, admittedly) you can always check Bruyxncxnccnxnxncnx. I think thats how you spell it. While enjoying the Ross Dee-Luxe Syncopaters I was interested to note that Cootie Williams (who got Bud Powell goin') started with them. Unless it was a different Cootie Williams; in which case, never mind.

This groundbreaking series brings together some of the greatest performances of early jazz, illustrating that before jazz became a listener's music of improvised solos it was the rhythm-driven dance music of America, the rock and roll of its day. This album shows the incredible variety of the 1920s jazz by bringing together diverse, often obscure masterpieces by legendary small groups and large bands from both city and country. Highlighted is the rich regional flavor of early American jazz with showpieces by territory bands such as Ross De Luxe Syncopaters, Taylor's Dixie Serenaders, and Roy Johnson's Happy Pals along with classics by the pioneer New Orleans band of Louis Dumaine, Sam Morgan and much more. This is an entertaining and illuminating exploration of early jazz which traces its roots back to marching bands, ragtime and vaudeville.

The vintage music on this first of two CDs put out in 1996 by Yazoo is consistently enjoyable and heated. Unfortunately, the rather random selection of 23 selections by 23 bands, although full of hot obscurities, does not include complete sessions, is not programmed in chronological order, and (most inexcusably) does not give the personnel or exact dates. So what should have been an essential acquisition ends up being a worthwhile sampler that will force serious collectors to consult their discographies. But musically, there are quite a few memorable moments. Included on this CD are one selection apiece by Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight, Roy Johnson's Happy Pals, Mamie Smith, Sam Morgan, the Pickett-Parham Apollo Syncopators, Paul Tremaine's Aristocrats (the classic "Four-Four Rhythm"), Charlie Johnson, Bennie Moten, the Ross De Luxe Syncopators, Frenchy's String Band, Taylor's Dixie Serenaders, Jelly Roll Morton, Ben Tobier's California Cyclones, Fowler's Favorites, Oliver Naylor, George McClennon's Jazz Devils, Floyd Mills' Marylanders, Maynard Baird, King Oliver, Gowan's Rhapsody Makers, Sammie Lewis' Bamville Syncopators, the Hotentots and Frankie Franko. ~ Scott Yanow

1. To-Wa-Bac-A-Wa - Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight
2. Happy Pal Stomp - Roy Johnson's Happy Pals
3. Goin' Crazy With The Blues - Mamie Smith
4. Over In The Gloryland - Sam Morgan's Jazz Band
5. Mojo Strut - Pickett-Parham Apollo Syncopators
7. The Boy In The Boat - Charlie Johnson And His Paradise Band
8. She's Sweeter Than Sugar - Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra
9. Florida Rhythm - Ross De Luxe Syncopaters
10. Texas And Pacific Blues - Frenchy's String Band
11. Everybody Loves My Baby - Taylor's Dixie Serenaders
12. Kansas City Stomps - Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers
13. Hot And Heavy - Ben Tobier And His California Cyclones
14. Percolatin' Blues - Fowler's Favorites
15. Slowin' Down Blues - Oliver Naylor's Orchestra
16. While You're Sneaking Out - George McClennon's Jazz Devils
18. Postage Stomp - Maynard Baird And His Orchestra
19. Mabel's Dream - King Oliver's Jazz Band
20. I'll Fly to Hawaii - Gowan's Rhapsody Makers
21. Arkansas Shout - Sammie Lewis With His Bamville Syncopators
22. Lot's O'Mama - The Hotentots
23. Sombody Stole My Gal - Frankie Franko And His Louisianians

George Lewis - Homage To Charles Parker

This is one of the Penguin Guide Crown albums. They call it " ... an essential modern record".

They also state that " ...Lewis is technologically astute, but also profoundly subversive ..."

This tribute to bop icon Charlie Parker is not a program of his famous tunes but a representation of his spirit that still exists. Through means of improvised music with a variety of significant signposts, George Lewis offers two 18-minute texture pieces that display a haunting quality by combining natural elements and electronically generated waves of sound, passion, and a little fury. Moog synthesizer programmer Richard Teitelbaum provides the landscape, pianist Anthony Davis the skyscapes, and Douglas Ewart on alto sax and bass clarinet provides the Bird-like characteristics. Lewis, on trombone and electronics, directs the ensemble from within this quiet storm's eye. "Blues" starts with tonal fragmented phrases in no time with trombone, bass clarinet, and piano circling Teitelbaum's occasional synthesized insertions. The inquisitive nature of the counterpointed horns is strikingly bold and pervasive, as if Parker was cueing various icons of blues legends like Leadbelly, Howlin' Wolf, and T-Bone Walker to speak up for themselves. Long-held tones in the midsection lead to Teitelbaum's spacey, blue, Sun Ra-like touches. The title cut starts with reverent, spiritual, hovering washes from cymbals and soft synths, and a languid alto solo from Ewart signifies the ghost of Bird has arrived. Davis plays some absolutely gorgeous piano, like delicate beacons of light cutting through fog, while an organ-sounding synth urges a more sweeping piano solo. Lewis, on a poignant trombone, waxes lyrical and poetic, aware of the transfiguration of bop while addressing its contemporary, contemplative needs. Pretty stunning music. As heavy and stylistically different as this music is, the point is clear and well-taken. Lewis and his group make a statement unique in creative jazz and unto itself. This is an important recording in many ways, and a magnum opus for the leader. ~ Michael G. Nastos

George Lewis (tenor trombone)
Douglas Ewart (alto sax, bass clarinet, cymbals)
Anthony Davis (piano)
Richard Teitelbaum (synthesizers)

1. Blues
2. Homage To Charles Parker


Well, the contest was squashed very early because someone wrote to say they could figure out the tracks by using an autotag thing. Or something. It stunned me to think that there might be some unscrupulous people on the internet. In government or the clergy , perhaps, but the internet?

Anyway, maybe if I have more time to figure out how to do it we'll try again. Meanwhile, here's a great example of what could have been a winning entry. I don't mention the entrants name, because I haven't asked him/her if it was OK.

All albums have appeared at this site. Answers in comments.

Louis Armstrong - 1934-1936 (Chronological 509)

Pops is absolutely exuberant - not expoobident, but exuberant - on this very early entry of the Chronological series.

" ... the sheer sound of Armstrong, whether singing or playing trumpet, is exhilarating and there are merits in these sessions which have often been overlooked. Decca's studio sound is often very handsome and they caught a silvery quality in Armstrong's tone which is not often apparent on his other records. He was playing with a particularly steely finesse at this point, far from the bubbling genius of a decade earlier but not yet the benign maestro of a decade hence. There is also his singing: whatever the lyric, Pops gives it his full measure.

The [1934-1936] Classics disc includes a memorable session made in Paris with a local band including the very fine pianist, Herman Chittison, with a terrific 'St Louis Blues'; from there, Armstrong is backed mostly by a Luis Russell band, and it performs very creditably, with some members stepping forward for occasional solos. ~ Penguin Guide

This valuable CD includes Armstrong's often riotous Paris session from 1934 ("St. Louis Blues" and "Tiger Rag" almost get out of control) and then Satch's first 17 Decca recordings, smooth renditions of pop tunes that he turns into classic jazz. It duplicates and exceeds Decca's Rhythm Saved the World. ~ Scott Yanow

Louis Armstrong (trumpet)
Herman Chittison (piano)
Bunny Berigan (trumpet)
Luis Russell (piano)
Dave Barbour (guitar)
Jimmy Archey (trombone)
Pops Foster (bass)
Paul Barbarin (drums)

1. St. Louis Blues
2. Tiger Rag
3. Will You, Won't You Be My Baby?
4. On the Sunny Side Of The Street, Pt. I & II
5. St. Louis Blues
6. Song Of The Vipers
7. I'm In The Mood For Love
8. You Are My Lucky Star
9. Cucaracha
10. Got A Bran' New Suit
11. I've Got My Fingers Crossed
12. Ol' Man Mose
13. I'm Shooting High
14. (Was I to Blame For) Falling In Love With You?
15. Red Sails In The Sunset
16. On Treasure Island
17. Thanks A Million
18. Shoe Shine Boy
19. Solitude
20. I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music
21. Music Goes 'Round And Around
22. Rhythm Saved The World
23. I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket

Friday, December 18, 2009

Track Of The Day

Tete Montoliu - Momentos inolvidables de una vida

Tete’s father played the oboe and the French horn for el Liceo de Barcelona (Barcelona’s opera). According to a conversation he had with Flamenco singer Enrique Morente very shortly before his death, Tete’s father – a most serious man when it came to music, otherwise - was a die-hard Wagnerian, who would start singing in German when he had a few too many. May be that’s why he got on so well with Dexter Gordon (in his Steeple Chase era), who had a unique approach of rehearsal that would consist of a meal, coffee and whisky, lots of whisky. And talk, both big and small. Lots of talking.
His mother was the one who got him into jazz. In the 30’s she probably was one of the very few persons in Barcelona collecting Fats Waller, Earl Hines and Ellington records.

The record at hand may not be the best introduction for those who never heard Tete Montoliu before (I can only recommend the superb live at San Juan Evangelista, 1995, for instance), but it is very interesting for Tete fans (maybe Zero?) for two reasons. First, because it is out of print. Second, because it fills in some gaps : the records where he is featured either as the main artist or a sideman and which are easier to find are the 60’s and 70’s Steeple Chase sessions. And then you have all the 90’s catalogue which is easy enough to find (even if some late 80’s / early 90’s stuff is already OOP). But the tracks featured here include not only Fresh Sound stuff, but mainly and mostly 10 tracks from Ensayo records sessions and 3 from Discophon. I have never seen one of these Ensayo or Discophon records myself, and they are just as good as any Montoliu. It’s Tete, all the way – very precise and articulate in his solos, percussive or gentle, depending on the mood. A Powell disciple who became an Evans enthusiast, logically enough. Articulation, neat phrasing, precision… Check his version of You’ve Changed on cd 1 for an illustration. Also of note, the bolero on cd 2 called Historia de un amor. Tete played boleros throughout his life, but this one was one of the very first Tete tracks I ever heard late one night, on the radio. Tete, a real Catalonist, would have loved this posthumous comp: all the tracks selected were recorded in Barcelona.

The remaster is fine, and the trilingual booklet (Spanish, Catalonian, English) is OK (may be a bit short on texts to my taste). And hell, with the likes of Ben Webster, JR Montrose and Lucky Thompson featured on a handful of tracks, the selection goes from duos to quartets and medium-sized combo for the afore-mentioned bolero. A special mention for his duos with Mundell Lowe. Kndnsk was telling me a few days ago in a private chat that he really enjoyed these two duo albums with Lowe. A good choice.

Thanks to Rab for being the instigator of this post.

1. I Can´t Get Started
2. How Long Has This Been Going On
3. You´ve Changed
4. Tenderly
5. You´re My Everything
6. Everything Happens To Me
7. Blues For Myself
8. Body And Soul
9. Sabor A Mi
10.Old Folks
11.My Romance
12.El Cant Del Ocells

1. A Child Is Born
2. We´ll Be Together Again
3. I´ve Got It Bad
4. Historia De Un Amor
5. Saps
6. Flamingo
7. Lament
8. You Know I Care
9. Perfidia /No Me Platiques /Besame Mucho
11.The Man I Love
12.When I Fall In Love

Manny Albam - 1957-58 Jazz Greats Of Our Time. Complete Recordings

Born in Samana, The Dominican Republic, on the 24th of June of 1922, Emmanuel Albam grew up in New York, where he studied clarinet at Syuvysent High School. However, he debuted professionally on the alto sax with the quintet of the legendary trumpeter Don Joseph (1940), before adopting the baritone sax when hired by Bob Chester for his orchestra and 1941. After spending time with the groups of Muggsey Spanier, Georgie Auld, Charlie Spivak, and Boyd Raeburn, and with a forced hiatus due to the fulfilment of his military service (1945-46), he formed part of the formations [sic] of Sam Donahue, Charlie Barnet (for whom he wrote his first arrangements), Jerry Wald, Charlie Ventura, and others. In 1950, he abandoned instrumental interpretation in order to devote himself to writing in both the area of composing and arranging.
During the next two decades, he developed a reputation as one of the most intelligent and original arrangers, thanks to his efforts for disparate groups such as those of Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, or Buddy Rich; for different leaders such as Terry Gibbs, Hal McKusick, Gerry Mulligan, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Al Cohn and Stan Getz, Phil Woods, Bob Brookmeyer or J.J. Johnson; and for various singers such as Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, of Dakota Stanton. At the same time, he frequently worked for TV ( "Four Clowns", "Around the World of Mike Todd", The Glory Trail") and on advertising campaigns (commericals for Coca Cola, Gillette, Chevrolet, among others).
In 1957, his jazz version "West Side Story" caught the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who asked him to write something for the New York Philharmonic. He never responded to this particular request, although Bernstein's interest motivated him to write chamber music and works for "pops" orchestras such as the ones of the Boston, Dallad and Philadelphia.
In 1964, he began his teaching activities. He directed summer workshops at the Eastman School of Music, he taught classes at Glassboro State College, and he was a founeding member of the Jazz Composers Workshop and professor of composing at the Manhattan School of Music.
During the last years of is life he worked on more ambitious compositions in which he combined the typical elements of his jazz orchestra works with contemporary music techniques, such as, for example, "Concerto for jazz alto saxophone and orchestra", recorded by Bud Shank and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1985). Among his last works, some of the records which stand out the most are "Hank Jones with the Meridian String Quartet" (1990), "Celebrating Sinatra" (Joe Lovano, 1996) and "If You COuld See Us Now!" (by Nancy Morano with the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra, 1999). Mann Albam died in Croton-On-Hudson, New York, on the 2nd 0f October 2001.

Despite never maintaining his own regular orchestra, he made a series of important recordings under his name that began in 1956 with "The Jazz Workshop" and "The Drum Suite", and continued with milestones such as: "The Jazz Greats of Our Time" (2 volumes, 1957), "The Blues is Everybody's Business", the already mentiones "West Side Story" (1957), "Sophisticated Lady", "Jazz New York", "{Steve's Songs" (1961), "Jazz Goes to the Movies" (1962), "Brass on Fire" (1966), among others. The style of Manny Albam's orchestrations can be characterised by their search for the balance between improvisation and composition. To achieve this, he put for the use of the soloist his writing which was simple, functional, and often provocative. Essentially, it was based on respect for tradition. As he himself said: "I cannot divorce myself from tradition, for it's where we all come from, and it should be a base from which we operate in jazz. If writing is to be jazz writing, it should fuse the elements particular to its own tradition - the beat, improvisation within a disciplinary frame, and its own unique feeling . . .Jazz is, and always has been a player's art. When the jazz composer-arranger realizes this, adjusts his writing perspective accordingly, giving due consideration and space to the soloist, only then can jazz composition become the community of expression it is at its best . . . I feel that an inter-relation, inter-dependence between writing and blowing in jazz composition is imperative."
Another observable characteristic of Albam's work - including his most commercial work and his "scores" for TV and the cinema - is his "swing-era background", which permitted him to ascribe to the principal current that was developed in American jazz during the fifties, that consisted of the implementation of a style based on the Kansas City of Count Basie, corrected and revised by means of the Be Bop contribution of Charlie Parker. The themes which we are presenting in this double CD make up a magnificent example of all of this. Their arrangements indistinctly use the writing ofr both blockas and sections, that consist of choral passages in which the distinct sections of the orchestra communicate with and oppose each other. In order to achieve this, Albam is surroudned by a bunch of jazz musicians that, in addition to being excellent instrumentalists, are good readers, good interpreters, and good improvisers. The first CD is a collection of the two volumes recorded in 1957 under the generic title of "The Jazz Greats of Our Time". One was recorded in New York (tracks 1 to 7) with important jazz personalities from the East Coast. The other was recorded in Los Angeles (tracks 8 to 14) with equally important jazz musicians from the West Coast. The second CD rounds out the previous one with two titles ("Am I Blue" and "Home Brew") recorded at the same sessions that took place for the two LPs, "The Jazz Greats of Our Time", but which were originally edited for a historic album titled "Jazz Cornucopia". In addition it includes the themes interpreted by the Jazz Greats of Manny Albam in a memorable concert organized by the magazine Down Beat in the Town Hall in New York and recorded by Rudy Van Gelder. As Dom Cerulli wrote in the liner notes of the 2 LPs that bore witness to this event, "Where were you at 8:10 p.m. on May 16, 1958? . . . [that] was one of those just barely comfortable mid-Spring days which gave to an evening that made the lugging out of a topcoat worthwhile". Albam's orchestra (a typical East Coast formation that arrived at the concert hall one hour before the show in order to rehearse the scores specially prepared for the occassion) interpreted four pieces at that concert, of which two (the ones that closed out the night) deserve special attention: the two parts of a swinging structure of blues by which the soloists link together their improvisations. The first part, with its eleven and a half minutes of duration, concludes with an encore by all the orchestra amidst the public's enthusiasm, while during the second part, that lasts for more than eight minutes, some of the soloists that performed earlier in the night with other groups join the formation: Georgie Auld (tenor sax), Hal McKusick (bass clarinet) and Paul Horn (alto sax). During this blues two curious things happen. One of them occurs during the first part of the blues, where three contrabassists played, Milt Hinton (the orchestra's official one) in the beginning, Don Bagley afterwards followed by both of them, passing the instrument from one to the other successively, and Knobby Totah taking their place at some intervals. The other curiosity is that during the second part f the blues Dick Katz and Steve Allen interpreted a piano solo with four hand, the first one playing the low notes of the keyboard and the second one the high notes, "in a remarkable bit of adlibbing".

This complete edition of the recordings made both in the studio and live by the Jazz Greats of Our Time serves as a homage to the enthusiasm and inspiration Manny Albam displayed throughout the sixty years of his professional career. As Bob Brookmeyer put it: "He was the dearest man that could be and an irreplaceable friend and mentor".

John Flanagan

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Johnny Dodds - 1928-1940 (Chronological 635)

I'm going just a little out of sequence here; Chrono has issued 4 Johnny Dodds volumes; two have already appeared, and the 1927-1928 will be the final. Unless I can get hold of the Neatworks Alternative for our great Mr. Dodds.

Damn, this guy was good.

By 1928 and '29 jazz was beginning to mature and recording technology was growing up along with it. Even taking into account his remarkable accomplishments on phonograph records from 1923 through early 1928, the exciting material gathered together on this disc represents -- without question -- some of the very best jazz ever recorded by New Orleans/Chicago clarinet archetype Johnny Dodds. On the first 11 selections, Natty Dominique blows one tough little cornet, and Bill Johnson's bull fiddle comes across more clearly and dramatically than ever before. Throughout the 1920s, many bands relied on the tuba to provide the bassline on their recordings. Bolstered by the Victor Record company's superior equipment, Johnson's pulsing, visceral viol carries everyone along on a tonal current of unforgettable intensity. Anybody interested in trombonist Honore Dutrey should listen closely as this has got to be some of his best work on record. There's nothing quite like hearing Baby Dodds using the washboard as a neat, precise percussion tool. All the same it's refreshing when he switches to the drum kit and Lil Hardin Armstrong presides at the ivories. "Heah Me Talkin'" is a triumph, "Goober Dance" is pleasantly weird, and "Indigo Stomp" a wonderful ritual for piano, clarinet and bass fiddle. At that same session Johnny's group backed blueswoman Sippie Wallace on one song. This would be the only time Sippie and Johnny would collaborate in the studio. "I'm a Mighty Tight Woman" is a remarkable document, one of the strongest performances that this singer ever put across. The Paramount Pickers and Beale Street Washboard Band sessions are a delight, the sort of music you can go back and revisit regularly. The crowning glory of this collection is the inclusion of eight Decca recordings from 1938 and '40 that constitute the phonographic last will and testament of Johnny Dodds. Hearing his noble clarinet resounding in the same company as Charlie Shavers, John Kirby, Lonnie Johnson, Teddy Bunn, and the mighty Richard M. Jones brings out all of the best qualities in each musician. With O'Neill Spencer singing, drumming and rubbing on a washboard, we're faced with fully half of the John Kirby Sextet, a decidedly modern contingent mingling perfectly with players whose experience reached back towards the very beginnings of recorded jazz. ~ arwulf arwulf

Johnny Dodds (clarinet)
Lil Hardin Armstrong (piano)
Tiny Parham (piano)
Lonnie Johnson (guitar)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Honore Dutrey (trombone)
Natty Dominique (cornet)
John Kirby (bass)
Baby Dodds (drums)

1. Bucktown Stomp
2. Weary City
3. Bull Fiddle Blues
4. Blue Washboard Stomp
5. Pencil Papa
6. Sweet Lorraine
7. My Little Isabel
8. Pencil Papa
9. Heah Me Talkin'
10. Goober Dance
11. Too Tight
12. Indigo Stomp
13. I'm a Mighty Tight Woman
14. Steal Away
15. Salty Dog
16. Forty and Tight
17. Piggly Wiggly
18. Wild Man Blues
19. Melancholy
20. 29th and Dearborn
21. Blues Galore
22. Stack O' Lee Blues
23. Shake Your Can
24. Red Onion Blues
25. Gravier Street Blues

Nurse With Wound - Soliloquy For Lilith

Another of those odd occurences - upkerry posts the Zeitkratzer, and as it happens this Nurse With Wound title arrived yesterday. I haven't even had a chance to hear the whole thing. Check the Dean review in comments for the Reed connection.

Where did this come from? An ambient album from Nurse with Wound in 1988 was an invigorating shock to the system. Soliloquy for Lilith was a complete turnaround from the kosmiche/noise that Steven Stapleton and crew had been coming up with. Six tracks, each roughly 20 minutes, one track per side of a triple-vinyl box set, each piece subtly different from the others, all with a quiet power to completely dominate the environment of wherever it is played. The mystery of the album lay in its unique sound source -- Stapleton merely looped a collection of effects pedals together and then found that by gesturing in the air around them, as if playing a Theremin, he could manipulate the tone generated by the electricity itself. What a wonderful discovery, and put to complete use here, as the possibilities in the setup are fully exploited over the course of two hours. Slow pulses in the lower register, similar to what Alan Lamb came up with in his high-tension wire recordings, complete with annular buzzes and high-end controlled feedback. It isn't far-fetched to see the roots of this album in the drone experiments of La Monte Young's Theatre of Eternal Music, or Tangerine Dream's epic Zeit. Occupying a completely separate corner of the massive Nurse with Wound catalog, Soliloquy stands outside of genre, and in the right frame of mind, outside of time. An absolute classic. ~ James Mason

The album was recorded by Steven Stapleton and his wife Diana Rogerson in May 1988. The only sound source was a number of effects units which he had set up to operate in a feedback loop - there was no original input signal being processed, simply the feedback hum generated by plugging the original chain of pedals back into itself. However, when Stapleton went near the pedals he found the sound changed in accordance with his proximity to the various pedals and units. Stapleton told author David Keenan (in the book England's Hidden Reverse) that he had created the album by gently moving his fingers above the various units to create the slow, subtle changes in the sound. As this shouldn't happen, Stapleton has put the album down to an electrical fault of some sort in the studio. This was acknowledged on a later reissue with the credit "our thanks to Electricity for making this recording possible". He remains proud of the album, describing it to Keenan as "fucking brilliant". The album title refers to Stapleton and Rogerson's daughter Lilith who was born that year. Lilith would go on to contribute both artwork and vocals to releases by NWW and Current 93.

Despite being a 3LP set in an embossed box, the album was one of the most successful NWW releases; Stapleton advised Keenan that the sales of the album funded his and his family's move to Cooloorta in County Clare, Ireland in 1989. Originally issued on the short-lived Idle Hole label (founded by Stapleton and Rogerson with a government Enterprise Allowance Scheme grant), a small overrun of the third disc was issued separately as Soliloquy For Lilith Parts 5 & 6 [2]. The album was reissued as a double CD on United Dairies via World Serpent in 1993 and then again in 2003, this time as a 3 disc set mirroring the box packaging of the original with the third disc containing two remixes of the original material by Stapleton and Colin Potter. When World Serpent Distribution went out of business in 2004, the 3CD set was reissued by United Jnana (a hook-up between Stapleton's United Dairies and Mark Logan's Jnana Records), this present edition being identical in all but catalogue number from its predecessor.

CD 1
1. Untitled
2. Untitled
3. Untitled

CD 2
1. I
2. II
3. III

CD 3
1. VII

Zeitkratzer - Metal Machine Music (Asphodel)

It's interesting to say the least to note how much this recreation of Lou Reed's 1975 feedback opus Metal Machine Music, by German avant garde chamber orchestra Zeitkratzer, comes full circle.

Firstly, the music itself is perhaps the ultimate destination of a man whose aural journey was influenced so strongly by his one-time Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale, himself a former pupil of feedback pioneer La Monte Young. Reed's early post-Cale work included Loaded, the most poppy and accessible of the Velvets albums and the commercially successful solo album Transformer, also loaded with catchy hits including Walk On The Wild Side and Perfect Day.

But the grass is always greener on the other side, and by 1975, Reed was edging back towards the furrow Cale had dug, eschewing commercial success for abrasive exploration of a style that was still way ahead of its time. Metal Machine Music was not only a commercial failure that left critics and fans alike bemused, but it was even accused of being a deliberate attack by Reed on his record company RCA, an effort to escape his contract. In short, it bombed. So badly, in fact, that it was withdrawn after just three weeks.

Now, with three decades of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Suicide, Godspeed! You Black Emperor and dozens of other sonic soundscape maestros behind us no-one can still credibly accuse Metal Machine Music of being 50 minutes of racket. This style of sound is so ingrained in the musical landscape of the 21st century that it is more respected, more considered a form of contemporary classical, more likely to be heard in orchestral venues such as the Royal Festival Hall or the South Bank Centre, than any of that silly pop nonsense.

Metal Machine Music's carefully crafted feedback is up there with Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, and the only people who don't 'get' it now are the same ones who think David Shepherd is a better artist than Pablo Picasso.

Okay, so it's seminal. But the real question has to be - is it any good? The answer is yes. Yes because it's historically important. Yes because it influenced so much else that came after it, also yes because it's very, very enjoyable to listen to. You just have to get the context right.

Take a dimly lit or even dark room. Take an evening after a particularly grating day at work when you feel rundown, emotionally battered, more than slightly frazzled. Take a mood in which you need to destress but in which if you heard so much as a whisper of dolphin music you'd haul the shiny little bastard out of its tank and batter it to death. This is the perfect time to listen to Metal Machine Music.

Close your eyes, lie back, breathe evenly and feel the coiled tension in your muscles. Let your ears drift to the sounds of the equally stressed, equally coiled strings of a demented guitar. Drift along with its squalls and squeals and before you know it you'll hear not only the coarseness of the feedback but also the gentler moments in amongst it: the beat of a solitary drum or the stray lament of a saxophone. And it's beautiful.

That Zeitkratzer (which means 'time scraper' in German) could even conceive of transcribing Reed's original album in the first place almost defies belief. That they could take the score from there to a position where they could play it live is sheer genius. That the Berlin Opera House was willing to let them put on the show, on March 17, 2002, was a perfect vindication of a work that has stood the test of time and will continue to do so long after all of us are gone. If you buy it in this format, you can even watch the performance live on DVD, too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Scott LaFaro - Pieces Of Jade

Considering the legendary bassist Scott LaFaro released no albums as a leader and was known strictly as a sideman, that this recording exists is nothing less than a miracle, and an event in the annals of jazz. It consists of a brief program featuring five selections with the equally brilliant pianist Don Friedman and drummer Pete La Roca, a long rehearsal tape of "My Foolish Heart" with the Bill Evans Trio circa 1966, a 1966 interview about LaFaro with Evans, and a solo piano piece from Friedman done in 1985. So while only half of the disc faithfully features LaFaro's deep and honest bass playing, it is more than worthwhile to finally hear. Of the tracks with Friedman, LaFaro's bass is clearly heard, up in the production mix, and holds its own as a distinctive voice, his solid, resonant quarter notes pounding out these rhythms like few ever have. But it is Friedman, a brilliant jazz musician in his own right, who shines mightily on this date, and in many ways trumps Evans in terms of chops, invention, and bop energy. His fingers are flying on "I Hear a Rhapsody," buoyed by the swing of LaFaro, while conversely able to fluidly flow through non-stressed lines on "Green Dolphin Street," where his extrapolated lines combine innovation with subtlety. There are two takes of the Friedman original "Sacre Bléu," as the pianist delves deep into pure melody with slightly off-minor shadings and chiming piano chords, followed by classic LaFaro bass solos.

A version of "Woody'n You" is another furiously sped-up bop with nary a dropped note, while La Roca steams ahead, pushes the group, and challenges LaFaro and Friedman like he and few other bop-based drummers can. The solo piano piece "Memories for Scotty" is an elegant elegy or requiem for the longtime deceased bassist in hushed tones, presenting reverent remembrances and the attitude that he is sorely missed. The Bill Evans Trio take of "My Foolish Heart" is included strictly for historical purposes, a curiosity that at almost 23 minutes is tedious, and not well recorded. George Klabin's interview with Evans from 1966 is illuminating, as the pianist talks extensively about meeting LaFaro (and playing "strange" music with Chet Baker), immediately observing he was "overplaying" his instrument, feeling he was a "large" person when physically he was not, and remembering that his talent was bubbling over before he learned the virtue of restraint. Considering this is released some 50 years after LaFaro's death in a car accident at age 25, and that his career lasted a mere seven years, any nitpicking about this issue should be dismissed. It's a rare window into the soul of Scott LaFaro apart from his great sessions with Evans, and a complement to the book written by his sister Helene LaFaro Fernandez, Jade Visions. ~ Michael G. Nastos

In the six years that he was active in the music industry, Scott LaFaro had a more notable career than many other bassists have in a much larger lifetime. He was a member of the Bill Evans Trio, one of the greatest piano trios of all time, and participated in Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz (Atlantic, 1960), a session he really had no business being a part of. Most importantly, however, he developed an entirely new mode of expression for the bass, so much so that anyone who picks up the instrument must contend with his style of playing.

Because there is so little of his work out there, these unreleased recordings are quite a treat. However, this is not a lost LaFaro-led session, but an album cobbled together from various sessions in which he took part. The first five are rehearsal tapes featuring Don Friedman on piano and Pete LaRoca on drums. While they are clearly a bit tentative from finding their footing as they work together, they still turn in a compelling recording that could have been put on Contemporary without much trouble. LaFaro gets ample solo time, and one can clearly hear echoes of just about every modern bassist on the scene in his nimble fingers and supple melodic sense.

There is also a 22-minute rehearsal track with Evans that, surprisingly, is not as revelatory as the Friedman tracks. They work through "My Foolish Heart," or rather one particular section of it, exploring every nook and cranny. Though a wonderful insight into the workings of two seasoned musicians, it's not something that's likely to inspire repeated listening. A 1966 interview with Evans, speaking about the bassist, is also a welcome addition, but, again, not something for those who just want to hear some guys wail. Rounding out the CD is a solo track from Friedman, "Memories for Scotty," a beautiful tribute to the late bassist whose career ended much too soon and who received most of his acclaim posthumously.

So where does all this leave us? It's definitely an interesting curiosity and one likely to appeal to those who want some insight into the workings of LaFaro and, to a lesser extent, Evans. This is probably all the LaFaro stuff that nobody has ever heard, and thus warrants release even if it's not a smooth listen. This isn't the seven-course meal that the Village Vanguard sessions are, but it sure is a nice cocktail. ~ David Rickert

Scott LaFaro (bass)
Don Friedman (piano)
Pete La Roca (drums)

1. I Hear A Rhapsody
2. Sacre Bléu (take 1)
3. Green Dolphin Street
4. Sacre Bléu (take 2)
5. Woody 'n You
6. My Foolish Heart (Rehearsal tape with Bill Evans)
7. Interview with Bill Evans by George Klabin 1966
8. Memories For Scotty

Ryan Kisor - Kisor

This RK album hasn't been reviewed anywhere I can find, but surely merits a positive word, at least. On the negative, it has always been way too expensive, but at Amazon I see that many of RK's albums will be re-issued starting early next year, hopefully at reasonable prices. Meanwhile, another bio:

Ryan Kisor was born April 12th, 1973 in Sioux City, Iowa. He began playing in a local dance band by the age of ten, began classical lessons at 12, met and was inspired by Clark Terry at 15 (while attending the latter's summer jazz camp) and played with various high school all-star bands. In November of 1990 he won the Thelonius Monk Institute's trumpet competition at the age of just 17, beating out the likes of Nicholas Payton and Marcus Printup. After graduating from high school in 1991, he went to the Manhattan School of Music and later studied with Lew Soloff among others. He has recorded fairly extensively both as a leader and sideman and with small and large groups. Among the highlights; the Mingus Big Band (which still plays every thursday night at "The Fez" under Time Cafe in NYC's east village), the Michel Camilo Big Band (which although only existed for the purpose of recording the album, "One More Once," was arguably one of the best latin big bands recorded in recent memory), the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Gerry Mulligan, Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Horace Silver, and Walter Blanding. Kisor just celebrated his 30th birthday, so the best is likely yet to come. —from the RK website

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tommy Flanagan - Alone Too Long

It seems hard to believe that this 1977 studio session was Tommy Flanagan's first entirely solo piano date, which was recorded by Nippon Columbia and first appeared as a Denon CD in the U.S. The veteran musician makes the most of the opportunity, with his impeccably beautiful sound carrying the day through a wide-ranging program, from rather elegant takes of Bud Powell's "Parisian Thoroughfare" and Dave Brubeck's "In You Own Sweet Way" to breathtaking arrangements of standards such as "Here's That Rainy Day" and "The Very Thought of You." Flanagan's three originals, the soft exquisite ballad "Like a Butterfly," the late-night and bluesy "Ultima Thule," and the aptly titled "Dignified Appearance," all deserve to be better known. Most recently available from the Musical Heritage Society, this CD is well worth acquiring. ~ Ken Dryden

Known for his flawless and tasteful playing, Tommy Flanagan received long overdue recognition for his talents in the 1980s. He played clarinet when he was six and switched to piano five years later. Flanagan was an important part of the fertile Detroit jazz scene (other than 1951-1953 when he was in the Army) until he moved to New York in 1956. He was used for many recordings after his arrival during that era; cut sessions as a leader for New Jazz, Prestige, Savoy, and Moodsville; and worked regularly with Oscar Pettiford, J.J. Johnson (1956-1958), Harry "Sweets" Edison (1959-1960), and Coleman Hawkins (1961). Flanagan was Ella Fitzgerald's regular accompanist during 1963-1965 and 1968-1978, which resulted in him being underrated as a soloist. However, starting in 1975, he began leading a series of superior record sessions and since leaving Fitzgerald, Flanagan has been in demand as the head of his own trio, consistently admired for his swinging and creative bop-based style. Among the many labels he has recorded for since 1975 are Pablo, Enja, Denon, Galaxy, Progressive, Uptown, Timeless, and several European and Japanese companies. For Blue Note, he cut Sunset and Mockingbird in 1998, followed a year later by Samba for Felix. Despite a heart condition, Flanagan continued performing until the end of his life, performing two-week stints at the Village Vanguard twice a year, recording and touring. He died on November 16, 2001, in Manhattan from an arterial aneurysm. ~ Scott Yanow

Tommy Flanagan - (piano)

1. Parisian Thoroughfare
2. In Your Own Sweet Way
3. Like a Butterfly
4. Here's That Rainy Day
5. Alone Too Long
6. Maybe September
7. Strollin'
8. Billie Holiday Medley/Glad to Be Unhappy/No More/That Ole Devil Calle
9. Bean and Boys/In Walked Bud
10. Ultima Thule
11. Very Thought of You
12. Dignified Appearance

Don Cherry - Blue Lake

Over a couple of weeks in 1971, Cherry recorded two live double LPs for the BYG Actuel label, using two different groups ... (this) group is closer to a jazz aesthetic, but still, as on 'Eagle Eye', makes use of ethnic material and procedures. 'Dollar And Okay's Tunes' is a wonderful example of group improvisation. Dyani's sweeping, thunderous bass and Cherry's singing to himself while at the piano lend the set curious echoes of all sorts of modern jazz precedents but its a unique sound all the same and wonderful to have (this recording) back in the library in appropriate form. ~ Penguin Guide

Don Cherry is one of music's great adventurers. Always ready to stretch himself, he has seemed more concerned with growing as an artist and expanding his horizons than with getting a big paycheck. This live set, Blue Lake, is a worthy introduction to his solo work. The first part of the set begins with Cherry on a Native American flute. His simple song is as moving and spare as a New Mexico mesa. Next, he and his band move into their interpretation of some Dollar Brand tunes. First, they lay the melodies out straight and give the audience a window into this neglected composer's mind. Then it's time for their ferocious, free-wheeling, Ornette Colemanesque take on the same tunes. The last brace of tunes finds Cherry mostly singing á la Sam Rivers. Like Rivers' voicings, one forgets that this is a man, and hears only another instrument. Just when the tension rises to almost unbearable levels, Cherry breaks loose with some forceful, controlled soloing. The tone is muscular, and the ideas as sure and stringent as bitter salt. Cherry's journey as a musician has been that of a consummate artist. His remarkable career deserves stricter attention from fans and critics alike. Hopefully, the reissue of this set will start the ball rolling. ~ Rob Ferrier

Don Cherry (cornet, voice, piano)
Johnny Dyani (bass)
Okay Temiz (percussion)

1. Blue Lake
2. Dollar And Okay's Tunes, Part 1 & 2
3. East, Part 1 & 2

Paris: April 22, 1971

Billie Holiday - 1939-1940 (Chronological 601)

This volume of the Classics Chronological series places Billie Holiday's music in historical context to an unusual degree, as her recordings for the Columbia and Commodore labels have until now been reissued separately because of copyright and catalog ownership. The songs parceled together here were recorded at a crossroads in Holiday's career. The setting for the first -- in what would constitute great changes in her life and music -- was Barney Josephson's Café Society Downtown. Located at 2 Sheridan Square, this was Manhattan's first fully integrated nightclub. Its clientele included a number of politically progressive intellectuals and social activists. When she first appeared at the club on December 30, 1938, Billie Holiday was known as a spunky vocalist who presented lively renditions of pop and jazz standards in what was considered an unusual yet accessible style. It was in the year 1939 that Lady Day gradually began to create a subtler if at times more provocative persona. Part of this equation was profoundly political, and the singer's activism is most stunningly present in "Strange Fruit," a powerfully disturbing setting of a poem by Lewis Allen describing in careful detail the appearance of a lynching victim. The specter of a black body hanging from a poplar tree was and still is a powerful image that can and should haunt the listener long after the song has ended. The fact that Holiday chose to incorporate this piece into her live performances puts her in a much different category from her preexisting cabaret image of a cheerful young jazz vocalist. It is a fact that after she began presenting "Strange Fruit" to the public -- and singing at benefits for politically progressive causes -- Billie Holiday became an object of FBI surveillance. John Hammond, generally regarded as the man who discovered Holiday and helped develop her career, is known to have disliked "Strange Fruit" and was behind Columbia's refusal to record this controversial song. Fortunately for posterity, Billie, backed by an ensemble drawn from the house band at Café Society, was able to wax four of her all-time best records -- including "Strange Fruit" -- on April 20, 1939, for Milt Gabler's innovative Commodore label. On the other hand, even when heard without the benefit of these historical insights, the music included in this part of the chronology is simply some of the best jazz of its day, rendered by some of the greatest players on the scene. An overview of the trumpeters, for example, includes Frankie Newton, Hot Lips Page, Charlie Shavers, Buck Clayton, Roy Eldridge, and Harry "Sweets" Edison. Billie's first collaborations with a tenor sax player were with Kenneth Hollon during the early '30s. Hollon was on hand at Café Society and can be heard on the first three sessions presented here. Tab Smith sounds particularly fine on soprano sax during "Long Gone Blues." The band backing Billie on December 13, 1939, was essentially Count Basie's Orchestra with Joe Sullivan sitting in at the piano. And the most precious element of all is the presence of Lester Young. The combined personalities of Pres and Lady Day transformed every song into a collective ritual filled with magic and poetic grace. ~ arwulf arwulf

Billie Holiday (vocals)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet)
Hot Lips Page (trumpet)
Lawrence Lucie (guitar)
Tab Smith (alto sax)

1. Why Did I Always Depend On You?
2. Long Gone Blues
3. Strange Fruit
4. Yesterdays
5. Fine And Mellow
6. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
7. Some Other Spring
8. Our Love Is Different
9. Them There Eyes
10. Swing, Brother, Swing
11. Night And Day
12. Man I Love
13. You're Just A No Account
14. You're A Lucky Guy
15. Ghost Of Yesterday
16. Body And Soul
17. What Is This Going To Get Us?
18. Falling In Love Again
19. I'm Pulling Through
20. Tell Me More
21. Laughing At Life
22. Time On My Hands

Early Christmas present for Chuchuni

At first glance this might seem out of place on a jazz showcase like CIA, but it's not. We'll discuss the similarities between jazz music and Romanian Gypsy music on my next post from this series, in the meanwhile let this sink in. I'll also tell you how I discovered this music by going through the garbage in my grandfather's backyard.

The story behind this particular LP turns out to be very interesting, so I'll include this review by Deanne Sole, which is nominated for the Thom-Jurek-Award®: "a kind of extended, aural coitus interruptus"...

"Born in the countryside and working in a port town on the coast of the Black Sea, Romanian wedding violinist Ion Petre Stoican wanted to break into the Bucharest market, which was dominated by a coterie of influential lautarifamilies. He'd tried working there once before but it was hard to build a reputation for yourself when you were just another musician in from the provinces.

Luck came unexpectedly when he noticed a man behaving in a suspicious way and handed him over to the police. The man turned out to be a foreign spy. By way of a reward, Stoican was given the chance to record an album with the state-operated label, Electrecord. "The most important Gypsy musicians from the Bucharest Lautari scene" (to quote the CD case) became his backing band, and the album had the effect that he must have hoped for: he made his reputation in Bucharest and played there until the end of the '80s. He died not long after the fall of Ceauşescu in 1989.

This reissue of the original 1977 LP is dominated by dances, particularly the socially indispensable hora. In other words, this is the kind of music he would have used to impress people who might hire him for their festivities. His most enticing hora is the one that opens the album, "Hora Lui Sile," which starts with a brisk, ascending ripple of notes that rises like pathway up a mountain and then stops at the top of the rise and stands there trembling and grinning. "Ah ha ha!" the ripple says. "I can see something good coming along just after I've finished making this quivering noise but you won't know what it is until I show it to you. Wait —" and then the ripple runs down the other side of the mountain, dances to and fro for a while and finally flings itself out of the way to show you Ion Petre Stoican himself, who joins in the dance with restrained vigour.

Our ripple comes from Toni Iordache, a man described as a "cimbalom god" by the liner notes. If you took the violin out of the picture then Iordache would be making the most memorable noises on the album, with the yummy, corny, lazy interludes from Costel Vasilescu's trumpet running a close third. In some ways this isn't fair -- Iorcache was responsible for many of the arrangements, and it sounds as if he wasn't too shy to give his hammered dulcimer a leading role -- but in other ways it isn't. It's obvious, even from that simple opening ripple, that he was a musician whose playing had its own exciting character, impatient and succinct, and Sounds From a Bygone Age: Vol 1 is better off for his prominence.

Stoican himself is a good player but not always an exciting one. When I say that, keep in mind that the Romanian violinists I'm used to hearing are the Romani who were recorded more recently, in the post-Ceauşescu era. They have an outdoors go-nuts sound that Ion Petre Stoican was not aiming for. His dances sound like indoor dances, they're lively, with some exquisite twiddles and quirks, but essentially they're contained, they're country dances urbanised by streets and walls. When he sings, as he does on "Ia-Ţi Mireasă?, Ziua Bună" his voice quivers mournfully like a wet animal trembling in a bucket. (the notes identify this sound as "falsetto, which was en vogue in Bucharest at the time," but if this is falsetto then it's the deepest damn falsetto I've ever heard.)

But his musicianship still has the taut, sweet quality that makes Romanian folk violinists so compelling -- that sound that goes almost too far to bear, and would melt your insides if the musician didn't hold himself back out of consideration for you, the onlooker, in a kind of extended, aural coitus interruptus.

The next musician to benefit from Asphalt Tango's post-mortem rediscoveries will be the singer Romica Puceanu, with her lovely romantic voice, and I can only hope they keep going because the treatment they're giving these reissues is fabulous. I'm thrilled by the amount of love this label pours into albums that don't scream 'huge commercial profit'. I love the fact that they write "Romanian traditional music in original analog sound recorded in the 1970s" on the back of the case, following it with an exited exclamation mark as if the prospect of buying analog Romanians is just the thing that will tear the punters away from their R&B and Britney Spears. ("But mummy, I must have him! He's Romanian! And dead!")

One thing bothers me though, and it has nothing to do with the music. The government granted Stoican the opportunity to make his album because he caught a spy for them. The musician got his Bucharest gigs, but what happened to the spy?"

Ion Petre Stoican - Sounds From a Bygone Age, Vol. 1

Ion Petre Stoican - violin
Nicu Sapteluni - violin
Marian Grigore - violin
Matei Niculescu - violin
Mihai "Rita" Gheorghe - doublebass
Fane Negrila - doublebass
Ionica Minune - accordion
Viorel Fundament - accordion
Guta "Toi" Vasile - violin
Toni Iordache - cymbalom
Mieluta Bibescu - clarinet
Grigore Vasile - clarinet
Costel Vasilescu - trumpet
Nicu Manole - violin

Recorded in 1977 and 1966 in the Electrecord Studio, Bucharest, Romania

Sabir Mateen

Famed for his performances in the New York City subway system with the free jazz quartet Test, Sabir Mateen plays a passionate yet nuanced tenor as his main ax, but is equally comfortable on alto sax, clarinet, and flute. Mateen is capable of raw, all-out explosion, but frequently displays a wide dynamic range and a subtler side, and sometimes leans toward melodic free-bop. A native of Philadelphia, Mateen made his first recordings on the West Coast with pianist Horace Tapscott's Pan African People's Arkestra in 1980, and also played with Sun Ra, though he never officially joined Ra's band. In 1989, Mateen relocated to New York with prompting from the legendary drummer Sunny Murray, and spent the next few years paying his dues on the avant-garde scene.

In 1995, he recorded the duo album Getting Away With Murder with drummer Tom Bruno; a live performance in New York's Grand Central Station, it was released on Eremite. Mateen's recording activity steadily increased over the next few years. He joined Bruno's quartet Test, which also featured bassist Matt Heyner and saxophonist Daniel Carter, and was noted for its impromptu guerrilla concerts in New York subway stations. Mateen's other notable side engagements included work with the Raphe Malik Quartet and the One World Ensemble, and he also formed the trio Tenor Rising, Drums Expanding with Daniel Carter and drummer David Nuss, which began recording for Sound @ One in 1997. Also that year, Mateen led his own trio (with bassist John Voigt and drummer Lawrence Cook) on a session for Eremite, the well-received Divine Mad Love. The following year, he teamed with Sunny Murray for We Are Not at the Opera, a duo album on Eremite; additionally, a spate of Test recordings appeared over 1998-1999. Late 2000 brought more recordings in a duo format: Brothers Together, with the brilliant Hamid Drake on Eremite, and Sun Xing, with Ben Karetnick on JMZ. In early 2001, Mateen led a quintet also featuring Raphe Malik on the Bleu Regard release Secrets of When. ~ Steve Huey

Sabir Mateen Quartet - Other Places Other Spaces

Sabir Mateen is one of those highly active free jazz musicians who play in many bands (TEST, William Parker's Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, The Other Other Quartet, Earth People to name but a few). By comparison, he has released relatively little as a leader, and that's a pity. Apart from Mateen on tenor, alto, flute, clarinet and alto clarinet, the band further consists of Raymond A.King on piano, Jane Wang on bass and cello and Ravish Momin on drums, talking drums and percussion. Mateen has always been a free jazz man in heart and soul, enjoying the rhythms, enjoying the freedom, enjoying the expressiveness, enjoying the interplay, and going at it to the full. Mateen is great on this album, and so is the band, and they are at their best in the high energy full steam moments, when the four musicians push each other forward relentlessly. The slower tracks such as "For The Unborn One", or the more avant-garde tracks such as "Shades Of Khusenaton" I find a little less focused or less engaging. But all the rest is raw and intense, and especially on the longest tracks do all musicians, and especially Mateen get the space to unleash their musical power. And the last track "Journey Into The Deepness Of Positive Light" is surely one of the highlights of the album, showing both the power and the tenderness of the band. And all that straight from the heart. No embellishments. No pretense. No water added. Straight. The real deal. ~ free-jazz stef

Sabir Mateen (tenor and alto sax, flute, clarinet, alto clarinet)
Raymond A.King (piano)
Jane Wang (bass, cello)
Ravish Momin (drums, talking drums, percussion)

1. Other Places Other Spaces
2. For The Unborn One
3. You Reap What You Sew
4. Alan Shorter
5. Shades Of Khusenation
6. The Beginning Starts After The End Is Over
7. Feelings Meet
8. One With All
9. Journey Into The Deepness Of Positive Light

Sunny Murray and Sabir Mateen - We Are Not At The Opera

Whoa. Look Out. When you look at the cover you know the shit is gonna hit the fan when this old master of the vanguard drumming tradition hooks up with the "gentle giant" of the alto, the tenor, and the flute. Sabir Mateen may not be as well-known as Sunny Murray is, but he's every bit as effective and iconoclastic. The title of the album is funny; they aren't even in the same country that opera comes from — even though Murray lives near there. So what have you got? Drums, drums, drums, and more drums. When Murray plays you can feel, as Annette Peacock put it in an interview, that there are at least 12 children inhabiting one adult body. He is everywhere creating, each time he plays, notions of polyrhythm and textural tonality that haven't existed before the moment he rolled them off his sticks onto the kit. His ability to produce contrapuntal invention is so effortless and instinctual you can feel Mateen, who is no lightweight, struggle to keep up with the flow. There are four improvisations lasting just under an hour with their own titles, and those titles don't mean a damned thing. What matters is the flow, the back and forth creation of a tidal wave of sound. It is a blowing session, sure, but you knew that coming in. The most surprising thing is, given Mateen's own musically explosive personality, how wide the dynamic range of expression is on this set. There are near silences within the rush of activity, there are moments of sublime noisemaking, and tonal agonies produced only by the passionate awareness of the other's emotion. And Mateen tries to reign it all in; he attempts to keep some sort of post-bop modal framework on the whole thing. He's doomed to fail and knows it, but just the attempt is enough to keep Murray dancing, searching for those very polyrhythms that will knock him off the mat and make him play catch up in a new way. This is a playful disc, one of ideas and fierce counterpoint, but one rooted in the warmth of creative exchange.' ~Thom Jurek

Sunny Murray (drums )
Sabir Mateen (alto and tenor sax, flute)

1. Rejoicing New Dreams
2. Musically Correct
3. Clandestine, Giant
4. Too Many Drummers, Not Enough Time

Amherst, Massachusetts: June 27, 1998

VIDEO: The Fania All-Stars in Africa

Fania All-Stars in Africa 1974
Johnny Pacheco - Celia Cruz
Ray Barretto - Santos Colon
Larry Harlow - Pupi Lagarretta
Hector Lavoe - Nicky Marrero
Ismael Miranda - Ismael Quintana
Roberto Roena - Jorge Santana
Yomo Toro - Bobby Valentin
(and several others not credited)

Apologies that I couldn't give you a better picture from the program. It was done with hand-held cameras, mostly closeups of 2 or 3 musicians at a time, so it was a bit tricky to capture something representative of the show. The review will make up for that and have you looking for this show far and wide.

(from a review at Amazon)
In 1974 Celia Cruz & The Fania All Stars were invited to take part in a 3-day festival in celebration of black sports and entertainment in Kinshasa, Zaire. Their original performance on the first day caused such a hysterical response from the audience that they were invited back two days later for an encore performance. The concert was part of the famous Rumble in the Jungle title fight between the reigning champion George Foreman and the greatest, Muhammad Ali. Their phenomenal performance to an audience of 80,000 people at the Stadu du Hai was shot in 35mm on sic camaras by director Leon Gast (who won an Academy Award for When We Were Kings.) Featuring Johnny Pacheco, Cheo Felicano, Hector Lavoe and Roberto Roena.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cannonball Adderley - Things Are Getting Better

There is marvelous sparring with Milt Jackson on Things Are Getting Better and with Kelly, Heath and Blakey also in great form; and 'The Sidewalks Of New York' is an inspired revision which only Ellington's incomparable 1940 version can surpass. ~ Penguin Guide

This title provides ample evidence why Cannonball Adderley (alto sax) is considered one of the masters of his craft. Here he joins forces with Modern Jazz Quartet co-founder Milt Jackson (vibes) to create a variety of sonic atmospheres. They are backed by the all-star ensemble of Wynton Kelly (piano), Percy Heath (bass), and the one and only Art Blakey (drums). The moody "Blues Oriental" opens the set with Jackson immediately diving in with his trademark fluid runs and shimmering intonation. Adderley counters with a light and lively line that weaves between the rhythm section. The optimistic "Things Are Getting Better" is a good-natured romp as the co-leads trade and cajole each other into some downright rollicking exchanges. This directly contrasts with the sultry "Serves Me Right," which allows the combo members to demonstrate their collective musical malleability. The interaction between Adderley and Jackson sparkles as they entwine their respective playing with an uncanny singularity of spirit. The cover of Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" contains another spirited performance with some thoroughly engaging improvisation, especially during Adderley's voracious solos. "Sidewalks of New York" bops freely as Jackson unleashes some sublime licks against a hearty and equally boisterous sax. Adderley's "Sounds for Sid" demonstrates his uncanny ability to swing with a strong R&B vibe. With drop-dead timing and profound instrumental chops, this cut is undoubtedly one of the best from Adderley's earliest canon. The album concludes with a jumping reading of Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things." While Wynton Kelly has been uniformly solid, his interjections stand out here as he bridges and undergirds the two as they banter with flair and aplomb. When Things Are Getting Better was issued on CD, two bonus tracks supplemented the original seven-song running order. These consist of alternate takes of "Serves Me Right" and "Sidewalks of New York." In the case of the former, it can be reasonably argued that this outtake might emotively best the version initially chosen as the master. This disc can be recommended without hesitation to all manner of jazz enthusiast, as it quite literally offers something for every taste. ~ Lindsay Planer

Of course, alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley played with Miles Davis on several classic sessions, and his collaborations with Bill Evans on 1961's Know What I Mean and with Wes Montgomery on 1960's The Pollwinners are widely beloved. But this 1958 date, where Adderley and vibraphonist Milt "Bags" Jackson go head to head, may be the finest of Adderley's collaborative sessions.

Jackson, forever remembered as an integral member of the Modern Jazz Quartet, is the greatest vibes player in jazz history. He creates powerful solos with the distinctively mellow percussion instrument. Jackson's inimitable playing meshes beautifully with Adderley's hard-bop style, whether on such originals as "Groovin' High" or on standards like Cole Porter's "Just One of those Things." Any album featuring either of these players is worth hearing. An album showcasing both--with powerhouse drummer Art Blakey, bassist Percy Heath, and pianist Wynton Kelly, to boot--is an absolute must-own.

Cannonball Adderley (alto sax)
Milt Jackson (vibraphone)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Percy Heath (bass)
Art Blakey (drums)

1. Blues Oriental
2. Things Are Getting Better
3. Serves Me Right (take 5)
4. Serves Me Right (take 4)
5. Groovin' High
6. The Sidewalks Of New York (take 5)
7. The Sidewalks Of New York (take 4)
8. Sounds For Sid
9. Just One Of Those Things

Reeves Sound Studios, New York: October 28, 1958

Tom Kubis Big Band - Slightly Off the Ground (1989)

Tom Kubis' first recording as a leader is quite impressive. His arranging chops were already in their prime, his big band uses similar personnel to the one in existence more than a dozen years later, and he makes several standards (along with a few originals) sound fresh and lively. Jack Sheldon helps out on "Play It Again Sam" (during which he quickly sums up the entire plot of Casablanca), "Who Can I Turn To," "Which Craft?," and "Alexander's Big Time Band," while trombonist Bill Watrous takes warm and heated solos on "Slightly Off the Ground" and a relaxed "When You're Smiling." The band swings hard, Kubis sounds fine on tenor and soprano, and the ensemble has a recognizable identity. For Tom Kubis, this was an impressive start to a productive career. - Scott Yanow

Tom Kubis (tenor sax, soprano sax, arranger)
Jack Sheldon (trumpet, vocals)
Bill Watrous (trombone)
Matt Catingub (keyboards, alto sax)
George Graham, Wayne Bergeron, Dan McGurn, Stan Martin, Charlie Peterson (trumpet)
Charlie Moralis, Andy Martin, Alex Iles, Rich Bullock (trombone)
Dan Higgins, Greg Huckins, Gordon Goodwin, Bill Liston, Paul Baker (saxophone)
Mike Higgins (guitar)
Kevin Axt (bass)

  1. Purple Porpoise Parkway
  2. Exactly Like This
  3. Play It Again, Sam
  4. Who Can I Turn To
  5. Slightly Off the Ground
  6. Which Craft?
  7. Ain't It Wonderful
  8. Teach Me Tonight
  9. Samba Dees Godda Do It
  10. When You're Smiling
  11. Imagine What a Change Will Do
  12. Alexander's Big Time Band
Recorded January 28-29, 1989

Oscar Peterson - 1971 Great Connection

'Great Connection' is for me one of the truly great Peterson albums. This judgment results from a chain of criteria wich evaluate both the character of the music and the interpretation. 'Great Connection' is especially directed at those jazz buffs who look for, and demand, subtlety. Several of the numbers on the LP will convince them than the world of jazz is quite often still straight ahead. Oscar Peterson belongs to that group of incorruptables whom we have to be grateful to for the jazz renaissance which we see being born around us. It has never been held against him that he has always done his own thing in his own way, It has hurt him as little as it has injured other jazz celebrities - Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, just to name a few - who have of late become targets of ugly nit-picking by progressive nonentities. .............. let me say that 'Great Connection' is a top record for me in more than one way. Where even the best studio recordings seem to lack the spice of inspiration, this session appears to me to have been inspired to the nth degree. That's true for Oscar as well as for Louis (the two of them have more than once driven each othe to new heights) and true also for our premier man on bass, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen. The three respond perfectly to one another, and the listener reaps the profit.
From the original Liner Notes

01. Younger Than Springtime (Hammerstein, Rodgers) 5:21
02. Where Do We Go From Here (Robertson) 5:51
03. Smile (Chaplin) 3:55
04. Soft Winds (Goodman) 6:39
05. Just Squeeze Me (Ellington, Gaines) 7:25
06. On The Trail (Grofe) 5:47
07. Wheatland (Peterson) 7:12

Oscar Peterson (piano)
Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)

Recorded at MPS-Studio, Villingen (Germany), on October 1971

Ryan Kisor - The Usual Suspects

Ryan Kisor - The Usual Suspects

The youngest of the "young lion" trumpet phenoms, Ryan Kisor proves on this Fable Records release that he can certainly hold his own with his higher-profile peers (Hargrove, Payton, Roney, Marsalis). Backed by a trio of talented young cohorts (Peter Zak on piano, John Webber on bass, and Willie Jones III on drums), Kisor works through a nicely balanced set of originals, ballads, and post-bop burners. An intelligent and technically accomplished musician, Kisor mostly eschews instrumental fireworks here for a more mature, patient approach that emphasizes his warm, full-bodied tone. — Joel Roberts

Sunday, December 13, 2009

BN LP 5033 | Gil Mellé Quintet, Volume 2

For specific tracklistings, have a look at the excellent Jazz Discography Project

The Complete Columbia Recordings of Mildred Bailey (10 Disc Set)

Indisputably the most complete Mildred Bailey anthology ever released in one package, Mosaic's ten-CD box set contains most if not all of the recordings she made between October 1929 and March 1942. During that span of years (extending from the Wall Street Crash to the first few months of U.S. involvement in the Second World War) she worked with a dizzyingly diverse range of outstanding musicians, cutting her very first sides with guitarist Eddie Lang, then performing with a series of jazz-infused dance bands including Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra and those led by Frankie Trumbauer, the Dorsey Brothers, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Mildred's third husband Red Norvo. Even if she did handle bigoted Tin Pan Alley tunes like "Weekend of a Private Secretary," "Snowball," and "There's a Boy in Harlem," Mildred Bailey was quite at home collaborating with some of the best Afro-American musicians of her generation. These included a group led by bassist John Kirby, trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Buck Clayton, pianists Teddy Wilson and Mary Lou Williams, and saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Herschel Evans, Ben Webster, and Chu Berry. That list barely scratches the surface of the instrumental talent heard on this in-depth survey covering the most important years of Mildred Bailey's recording career.

The 214 tracks include more than 30 alternates; those who only want a sequentially presented overview of the master takes should try the Red Norvo and Mildred Bailey portions of the Classics Chronological Series. A versatile vocalist who could croon mellifluously or swing with intestinal fortitude, Mildred Bailey is remembered as one of the great influential jazz and pop vocalists of the 1930s. Released as a limited edition in the year 2000, Mosaic's massive box set was an unprecedented tribute to her artistry. Arwulf arwulf

The Blue Notes - The Ogun Collection

The real power of a box set of recordings lies in it potential to alter your understanding of the history that you think you already know, be it of a specific event like John Coltrane’s November 1961 stand at the Village Vanguard or a decades-long collaboration. Some box sets accomplish this through connecting dots previously thought to be unrelated. Others just grab you by the collar until it all sinks in. A 5-CD set that traces the odyssey of the Blue Notes from its early days as a sextet in South Africa until its last late-‘80s vestige as the trio of pianist Chris McGregor, drummer Louis Moholo and alto saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, The Ogun Collection is one of the few that does both.

Although the Blue Notes’ is one of the most compelling stories in jazz history, it has been universally reduced to well-worn bullet-points of exile and the losses of trumpeter Mongezi Feza and bassist Johnny Dyani. Apartheid is the one-word reason why the Blue Notes left South Africa; for a fuller understanding of its systematic yoking of the country, the litany of laws Tony McGregor cites in his reprinted notes for Legacy – Live in South Afrika 1964 is recommended. Not only did the musicians risk life and limb to perform publicly, but even those who attended concerts like this Durban farewell performance were in danger of brutal police treatment and jail. However, there’s a disconnect – the music itself. The Blue Notes’ music in 1964 was jazz in its purest social form, be it a loping, finger-popper like McGregor’s “Now” or a swoon-inducing ballad like Pukwana’s “B My Dear.” The audience cheers at the end of almost every chorus of Pukwana’s JATPy “Two for Sandi,” exhorting the band to amp up the swing; that evil ruled outside the venue makes their enthusiasm all the more resonant.

Legacy is also one of only two CDs featuring tenor saxophonist Nick Moyake, the first Blue Note around whom the twin themes of exile and loss meld. Moyake became so desperately homesick in their first months in Europe that he returned so South Africa in ‘65, only to die from a brain tumor within a year. The impact of his tenure with the group has therefore prompted little commentary; documentation of the Blue Notes in South Africa remains scant, with the bulk of the group’s discography recorded after the group’s ’67 arrival in London, when their performances became more expansive and the tone of their music took on a sharper edge. Still, Legacy persuasively documents how Moyake anchored the front line, his burly tenor sound complementing Feza’s lean trumpet and Pukwana’s searing alto. He was also a cogent soloist; with a rough-hewn, Coleman Hawkins-like sensibility, Moyake was gritty on burners like Pukwana’s “Dorkay House” and smoldering on “I Cover The Waterfront,” the set’s only standard. There is nothing on this recording or on Township Bop (Proper), which features a blazing Moyake chorus on a short reading of Ellington’s “Take The Coltrane,” to suggest that Moyake could not have stretched his playing like his colleagues had he lived. His potential was enormous.

Arguably, the most pivotal death in the Blue Notes’ history was Feza’s from pneumonia in late ’75, which by all accounts is attributable to medical negligence. Unfortunately, the only gap in the Ogun catalog of Blue Notes albums is Feza’s London years, although the trumpeter can be heard in excellent form on the jaunty Kwela-tinged “Tunji’s Song,” included on the label’s 1973 Brotherhood of Breath album, Live at Willisau. A solo brimming with darting lines and motives that are first tightly coiled and then released with bright lyricism, it is a précis of Feza’s brilliance, even if it not the type of intense, free jazz-informed playing that marked sessions like ‘69’s Very Urgent (Polydor) (a Blue Notes album except in name, it was issued under McGregor’s name, a source of controversy within the band). Feza’s death reunited the surviving members, who had continued to play in each other’s projects, but had all but ceased playing as the Blue Notes; within days of Feza’s death, they recorded nearly three hours of freely improvised music, which, edited for a double LP, was released as Blue Notes For Mongezi in ’76.

Even when it was cut in half, and presented in 19 to 23-minute portions, Blue Notes For Mongezi stormed far beyond the parameters of eulogy and Westernized ideals of ritual; each of the four movements was saturated with palpable rage and grief, even when the quartet was playing off a bright triplet-based bass figure or sun-splashed piano chords. Restored to their original length, each movement is now a marathon catharsis. The Blue Notes veer between chants and grooves, kwela and free jazz, and spirit-summoning rubato crescendos and existential screams. They bear witness, but they also turn nimbly on a dime; Pukwana even launches a sardonic “Yellow Rose of Texas.” However, their considerable, if occasional efforts to recapture the joy that had permeated their music – one that was even evident in their publicity photography during their stay in Switzerland – cannot lift the pall. Blue Notes for Mongezi is their “Guernica,” a panoramic depiction of their world torn asunder.

A year and a half later, Blue Notes In Concert was recorded at 100 Club. It is a comprehensive statement of their development in the decade since they had arrived in London. Compositions are linked through freely improvised introductions and interludes; their traditionally exclamatory tone in stating themes hovers near a fevered pitch; ant their use of older idioms is incorporated in a more kaleidoscopic sensibility than the straight-up celebration of swing heard on Legacy. While the sets’ emphasis on traditional material and older tunes like McGregor’s “Manje,” a slinky mid-tempo blues, may be coincidental, it nevertheless supports the album’s anthological weight. The music often reaches a full boil, but the ripped-scab existentialism of Blue Notes For Mongezi is supplanted by a tone that grafts ferocity onto conviviality. The latter is fueled by the crowd; even though their music had changed significantly since their ’64 Durban gig, ebullient audience response to the Blue Notes had remained constant. Conversant with how the Blue Notes used dramatic swells, rhythmic permutations, and moments of suspended animation, where the four musicians swirl about each other before heading off in a new direction, the audience audibly delights in the wild ride. In addition to being a showcase for their individual talents and their collective strengths, Blue Notes In Concert documents the community they created so far from home.

McGregor, Moholo and Pukwana would convene a decade later to record Blue Notes For Johnny. The approach to the project is markedly different than their memorial to Feza: With the exception of a ruminative, freely improvised duet between McGregor and Moholo, they largely revisited Dyani compositions and traditional melodies in a deliberate manner; Pukwana overdubs his alto on “Funk Dem Dudu,” providing an effective one-two punch; and, there’s unabashed nostalgia in their sanguine reading of “Ntyilo, Ntyilo” and their swing on Pukwana’s “Blues for Nick.” More importantly, the original album ends on a soaring, affirmative note with the pairing of “Ithi Gqi” and “Nkosi Sikelele L’Afrika,” the anthem of the African National Congress. These differences in method and tone can be at least partially attributed to the recording being made nearly ten months after Dyani’s death, instead of the mere days between Feza’s and the earlier recording. By then, McGregor had lived in France for several years and the Brotherhood had all but wound down; this also contributed to the atmosphere of reunion and resolution that permeates this culminating recording. ~ Bill Shoemaker

The Blue Notes were the original group, led by Chris McGregor, who fled their homeland when the pressure of being a racially mixed group in 1964 apartheid South Africa became too much to bear. They eventually landed in London in 1966. ... they collectively and individually invigorated and hugely shook up the jazz scene in the UK and it is not an exageration to say that without their influence, what we think of as 'Brit-jazz' would probably be a very different thing. The eventually basically morphed into the Brotherhood of Breath, where they finally were reasonably well documented, but the work of the Blue Notes has been hard to come by until now. This is everything recorded by or released by Ogun, the home of many of these musicians and related artists. This includes the following albums "Blue Notes Live in South Afrika 1964" (previously on CD, but out of print for many years) and "Blue Notes for Mongezi", Blue Notes for Johnny" and "Blue Notes in Concert" (all of these never before out on CD before + all with never released material added!)

Mongezi Feza (trumpet)
Dudu Pukwana (sax)
Chris McGregor (piano)
Johnny Dyani (bass)
Louis Moholo (drums)

Legacy: Live in South Africa 1964
CD 1
1. Now
2. Coming Home
3. I Cover the Waterfront
4. Two for Sandi
5. Vortex Special
6. B My Dear
7. Dorkay House

Blue Notes For Mongezi
CD 2
1. Blue Notes For Mongezi: First Movement
2. Blue Notes For Mongezi: Second Movement
CD 3
1. Blue Notes For Mongezi: Third Movement
2. Blue Notes For Mongezi: Fourth Movement

Blue Notes In Concert
CD 4
1. Iizwi - Msenge Mabelelo
2. Nqamakwe
3. Manje - Funky Boots
4. We Nduna
5. Kudala (Long Ago) - Funky Boots
6. Mama Ndoluse - Abalimanga

Blue Notes For Johnny
CD 5
1. Funk Dem Dudu/To Erico
2. Eyomzi
3. Ntyilo Ntyilo (The Love Bird)
4. Blues for Nick
5. Monks And Mbizo
6. Ithi-Gqi

Track Of The Day

Saturday, December 12, 2009

For Chuchuni

There used to be a really great DJ at WBAI named Will K. Wilkins that I would listen to driving to work. He would play socially conscious stuff that was really swinging. I learned about quite a few musicians from him. Willkins was one of the greats.

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Dread Beat An' Blood

The title pretty much says it all. This is a stunning debut and an indication of the great things that were to come. Johnson's debut is longer on spoken-word pieces than it is on poetry and music, but Dennis Bovell's influence can be felt in these eight tracks. Songs such as "It Dread Inna Inglan," which describes the death of George Lindo at the hands of racists, or "Five Nights of Bleeding," which recounts tales of British police's capricious use of violence against London's West Indian population, are moving and confrontational mini-masterpieces of anger and a man searching for justice in a country that seems all to willing too deny it to him and other Afro-Brits. A powerful and compelling record. ~ John Dougan

The debut album by Linton Kwesi Johnson hits with the force of a fist. A Jamaican-born British immigrant, Johnson worked as a poet and political activist before deciding to set his rhymes and convictions to deep roots music, effectively inventing the style known as "dub poetry." Dread Beat An' Blood directly addresses the racial and economic strife of Tory-ruled England in the late 1970s, particularly as it manifested in West Indian and other immigrant communities. With narratives that balance unflinching journalistic accounts of specific injustices ("It Dread Inna Inglan") with high-octane associative lyricism (the title track), Johnson embodies both the militant revolutionary and the visionary prophet.

Dread Beat's superb backing band weaves a dub-heavy web that is churning and ominous enough to suit the messages, and when the rhythms combine with Johnson's no-nonsense monotone, with its heavy cadences of British Jamaican patios, the effect is mesmerizing. Although many of the cuts cover issues that are time and site-specific ("Man Free" and "Five Nights of Bleeding" speak to the then-current political plight of individuals), the sheer intensity of Johnson's fervor makes the record timeless. Dread Beat is a statement that is impossible to ignore.

It's impossible to overestimate the impact that Dread Beat An' Blood had on the British scene. Its arrival had all the explosive power of a hydrogen bomb, detonating across the reggae, punk, and political scenes alike. By the time of its release in 1978, Linton Kwesi Johnson was already a major force within the West Indian community. A poet, with two books of collected poems to his credit, a respected journalist, and an ardent activist, Johnson had been involved in politics since his college days, and his words carried enormous power. Putting them to a musical backing only increased their potency, and brought them to a much wider audience. Johnson brought his journalistic eagle eye to Dread Beat, but viewed through a poetical prism, sharply etching real life situations with turns of phrases that deeply resonated, and imbuing them with his own impassioned political beliefs. The timing was also crucial, its release coming at a point of growing social conflict that was initially confined to immigrant areas, but was now spilling out of the punk scene and into the larger community's consciousness.

Linton Kwesi Johnson (percussion, vocal)
Vivian Weathers (bass, rhythm guitar)
Dennis Bovell (guitar, keyboards)
Jah Bunny (percussion, drums)
Winston Curniffe (percussion, drums)

1. Dread Beat An' Blood
2. Five Nights Of Bleeding
3. Doun De Road
4. Song Of Blood
5. It Dread Inna Inglan
6. Come Wi Goh Dung Deh
7. Man Free
8. All Wi Doin Is Defendin'

Mutabaruka - Check It!

Dub poetry always works best when its practitioners relax. The problem is that when the content is fiery and polemical, it takes a lot of discipline to stay relaxed in delivery. Just ask Linton Kwesi Johnson, whose artistic success has always been roughly proportional to his ability to describe atrocity with smooth understatement (for example, "Sonny's Lettah"). That's why Mutabaruka has made so few really great albums. It's not that he isn't smart and articulate, though his pronouncements do tend to be a bit on the safe and obvious side: "The system is a fraud," "Thousands die and we ask ourselves why," etc. The problem is that he undermines himself by delivering lines like those with the gravity of someone clueing us in to some kind of hidden knowledge (news flash: apartheid is bad, self-confidence is good). What saves him throughout is the rock-solid support of his all-star backing band. Linton Kwesi Johnson knows all about that, too. ~ Rick Anderson

Mutabaruka (vocal)
Earl "Chinna" Smith (guitar)
Augustus Pablo (melodica, keyboards)
Augustus Pablo (melodica)
Carlton Barrett (drums)

1. Intro
2. Check It
3. De System
4. Everytime A Ear De Soun'
5. Witeman Country
6. Whey Mi Belang?
7. Say
8. Angola Invasion
9. Hard Time Loving
10. Butta Pan Kulcha
11. Sit Dung Pon De Wall
12. Naw Give Up

Ryan Kisor - Battle Cry

Ryan Kisor - Battle Cry
Criss Cross Jazz 1145

Ryan Kisor and his cohorts make music on Battle Cry that embodies the spirit of improvising. Their dialogue is relaxed, seamless, free in the way that a band can only be when regular work makes everyone intimate with each other's sound. Brian Blade (Josh Redman's drummer for the last four years) sets unerringly correct tempos that ground the proceedings, while his organic, omnidirectional patterns keep everyone on their toes. Yahel push-pulls the harmony incisively, paints splashes of color, conceives ingenious horn-like phrases played with pianistic touch. Bernstein spins out one probing, cliche-free, swing-you-to-death solo after another while comping with impeccable taste.
Intended or not, the title works metaphorically on several levels. It comments on Kisor's joy at taming his intractable instrument to earn a hard-won virtuosity. It notes the improviser's struggle to remain focused on playing from the heart in a world increasingly given to concept albums and image marketing. Battle Cry is an early salvo, foreshadowing what undoubtedly will be lives of incessantly creative music-making by all its participants.


New York, February 22, 1998

Friday, December 11, 2009

A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and in his own house

Yes, you're seeing correctly. Two bids have brought the price of this Yanni CD up to 1¢.

Gigi Gryce - Nica's Tempo

Oh...if these sessions could have only been issued in separate long forms with the bands that are included. Nica's Tempo comprises six tracks with Gigi Gryce's groundbreaking big band, and another four ostensibly as a member of the Thelonious Monk quartet, all from 1955. Each band showcases the estimable compositional and arranging genius of Gryce, as well as his unique sound on the alto saxophone. In this CD format, the music serves a purpose in displaying Gryce's many talents, but ultimately leaves the listener wanting more. What the orchestra tracks offer in terms of an advanced concept paired with extraordinary musicianship is indisputably brilliant. The combination of Gryce with Monk is unparalleled in another way, the brief but fruitful joining of jazz masters that helped both of them grow, while attaining a symbiosis that Monk only reached briefly with Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and later in extensia with Charlie Rouse. Gryce is perfectly situated in his element, able to not only exploit the individualism of his bandmates, but play his slightly tart alto sax in a manner that very few have ever imagined. His shining charts emphasize lower octave tones by baritone saxes, trombones, French horns, tuba, the lone trumpet of Art Farmer, and no extra woodwinds. This larger band, averaging ten pieces, is influenced by Duke Ellington during the fully flowered ballad "In a Meditating Mood," or traditional Irish music on the short and sweet, perfectly layered, bluesy swinger "Kerry Dance." Dizzy Gillespie's complex bop visage is present for the nifty, sub-toned, dynamically controlled in mezzo piano, hard surfaced and simmering "Smoke Signal," with clever meter switchings from 4/4, 3/4, or 2/4, while Bill Barber's tuba lurks underneath. The opener "Speculation" reflects its title, with the composer Horace Silver's piano solo intro nicely drawn out, merging into warm simple horn charts with off-minor flourishes -- a great jazz composition -- especially engaging considering this is an emerging Silver at age 27. Ernestine Anderson's Sarah Vaughan styled dusky voice is featured in slight echoplex production on the all-time classic "Social Call" about a left behind lover still hoping for a reconnect, while her confessional balladic rendition of (You'll Always Be) "The One I Love" is as passionate as any romantic love song ever. The Monk quartet tracks are as precious as can be, with the dynamite rhythm section of Percy Heath and Art Blakey really on top of it. The pianist is happy to hand the spotlight to Gryce on selections made more famous later on by Herbie Nichols or the Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd bands. He's comfortably animated during "Shuffle Boil" cutting loose with flurries of notes, using staccato and staggered phrases for "Brake's Sake," and traverses the treacherous, slippery melody of "Gallop's Gallop" as if it had no degree of difficulty. Gryce's Nica's Tempo concludes in off-minor and obtuse angles as Monk liked it, with Heath and Blakey swinging expertly as only they could. These performances are nothing short of flawless, and though one might wish for additional tracks or outtakes, this album remains highly recommended with no reservation, and one for the ages. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Gigi Gryce (alto sax)
Art Farmer (trumpet)
Thelonious Monk (piano)
Horace Silver (piano)
Cecil Payne (baritone sax)
Julius Watkins (French horn)
Gunther Schuller (French horn)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Art Blakey (drums)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Ernestine Anderson (vocals)

1. Speculation
2. In A Meditating Mood
3. Social Call
4. Smoke Signal
5. You'll Always Be The One I Love
6. Kerry Dance
7. Shuffle Boil
8. Brake's Sake
9. Gallop's Gallop
10. Nica's Tempo

Track Of The Day

Ryan Kisor - On the One

Ryan Kisor - On the One

Long a favourite artist of mine. After an intro by a friend, I bought just about all of his albums over the years. Ryan's earlier albums are getting scarce, get them while they last. Here's a review to whet your appetite:

A big improvement over his first release, On the One features the young trumpeter Ryan Kisor blowing high-powered Art Blakey-type hard bop with a group of impressive up-and-coming musicians, including Mark Turner and David Sanchez on tenors; altoist Chris Potter; bassist Christian McBride; drummer Lewis Nash; and the "old" man of the group, the 38-year-old pianist Mulgrew Miller. Kisor at this point did not yet have a distinctive voice of his own, but he shows much potential for the future. —Scott Yanow

J.J. Johnson - 1946-1949 (Chronological 1176)

I don't know if the Penguin Guide is accurate in regards to JJ's "obscurity". I spoke with Steve Turre some months ago and he raved about him - he even performs 'Teapot' as part of his repertoire. Little known and pointless fact: Johnson also wrote a tune called 'Coffeepot'. Check out John Lewis' Monkisms on the aforementioned 'Teapot', and dig Cecil Payne on alto.

Coming up in the big bands led by Benny Carter and Count Basie, trombonist J.J. Johnson was among the first of the truly modern trombonists. For his first recording session as a leader, Johnson chose pianist Bud Powell, bassist Leonard Gaskin, drummer Max Roach, and the mighty Cecil Payne -- later famous as a baritone saxophonist -- blowing a really fine alto. Each of these Savoy sides bubbles with the fresh new energy of a vibrant, creative music reinventing itself. Johnson's next opportunity to lead occurred on December 24, 1947, with stellar bop baritone Leo Parker and a fine rhythm section in Hank Jones, Al Lucas, and Shadow Wilson. The sheer presence of so many great musical minds is thrilling as Sonny Rollins, John Lewis, and Gene Ramey show up at the third Savoy session on May 11, 1949. With the exception of six sides with Babs Gonzales earlier that year (as heard on Classics 1124, the 1947-1949 volume of the label's Gonzales chronology), these are the earliest recordings ever made by Sonny Rollins. Johnson's next two dates would result in eight sides for the New Jazz label, combining Rollins with Kenny Dorham and then in October of 1949 teaming up with alto saxophonist Sonny Stitt. This is exceptionally satisfying primal bop, with no unnecessary or superfluous chaff, an impressive beginning to an illustrious career. ~ arwulf arwulf

J.J. Johnson is one of the most important figures in modern jazz. Once voguish, the trombone, like the clarinet, largely fell from favour with younger players with the faster articulations of bebop. Johnson's unworthily low standing nowadays ... is largely due to a perceived absence of trombone players with whom to compare him. In fact, Johnson turned an occasionally unwieldy instrument into an agile and pure-toned bop voice; so good was his articulation that single-note runs in the higgher register often sounded like a trumpet. ~ Penguin Guide

J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Bud Powell (piano)
John Lewis (piano)
Sonny Rollins (tenor sax)
Sonny Stitt (tenor sax)
Hank Jones (piano)
Leo Parker (baritone sax)
Cecil Payne (alto sax)
Max Roach (drums)

1. Jay-Bird
2. Coppin' The Bop
3. Jay Jay
4. Mad Be-Bop
5. Boneology
6. Down Vernon's Alley
7. Yesterdays
8. Riffette
9. Audubon
10. Don't Blame Me
11. Goof Square
12. Bee Jay
13. Elysses
14. Opus V
15. Hilo
16. Fox Hunt
17. Afternoon In Paris
18. Elora
19. Teapot
20. Blue Mode

Thursday, December 10, 2009

John Abercrombie 17th July 1998 Pori Jazz Festival, Pori, Finland

John Abercrombie; guitar
Mark Feldman; violin
Adam Nussbaum; drums
Palle Danielsson; bass

Analogue FM broadcast.

1. Prelude (4.34)
2. BTG (11.55)
3. Long Ago and Far Away (7.14)
4. That's For Sure (9.54)
5. Him (Danielsson) (7.39)
6. Little Jump (Danielsson) (10.12)
7. Descending Grace (Abercrombie) (cut) (6.30)

In From The Storm (The Music of Jimi Hendrix)

"I'd like to take a six month break and go to a school of music. I want to learn, be a model student and study and think. I'm tired of trying to write stuff down and finding I can't. I want a big band. I don't mean three harps and fourteen violins, I mean a big band, full of competent musicians that I can conduct and write for." - Jimi Hendrix

"The performances featured on this compilation celebrate Jimi Hendrix's unique spirit and remarkable catalog in a symphonic context," writes annotator John McDermott of an album "featuring Sting, Carlos Santana, Brian May, John McLaughlin, Taj Mahal, Eric Schenkman, Steve Lukather, Paul Rodgers, Buddy Miles, Bootsy Collins, Tony Williams, Stanley Clarke, Robben Ford, Sass Jordan, Cozy Powell, Corey Glover, Hiram Bullock, Toots Thielemans, Bernie Worrell, Doug Pinnick, Dave Abbruzzese, Billy Cox, Noel Redding, and Steve Vai with the London Metropolitan Orchestra." The real force behind this Hendrix tribute album is producer/engineer Eddie Kramer, who engineered Hendrix's original albums. Unlike other tribute albums, in which a group of cover songs are collected from established artists, In from the Storm features performances by one-time ensembles put together specially by Kramer, usually featuring the London Metropolitan Orchestra. For the most part, Kramer attempts to copy the original arrangements and recordings, even to the point of re-creating the swirling, phased echo effects on the songs from Axis: Bold as Love. The guitarists subjugate their own styles, trying to impersonate Hendrix (even Carlos Santana), and so do the vocalists. The best tracks are the most imaginative ones, a purely orchestral version of "Little Wing" with Thielemans playing the melody on harmonica and a non-orchestral funk version of "Purple Haze" played by some of the original members of Bootsy's Rubber Band with Miles on vocals. Otherwise, there's little reason to listen to these versions as opposed to Hendrix's originals. - William Ruhlmann

Taj Mahal, Buddy Miles, Sass Jordan, Sting, Corey Glover, Paul Rodgers, Doug Pinnick, Brian May (vocals)
Robben Ford, Steve Lukather, Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin, Eric Schenkman, Steve Vai, Hiram Bullock, Brian May (guitar)
Mike Finnegan, Bernie Worrell (keyboards)
Toots Thielemans (harmonica) Dave Samuels (vibes)
Stanley Clarke, Sting, Billy Cox, Bob Daisley, Noel Redding, Bootsy Collins, Neil Murray (bass)
Tony Williams, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Abbruzzese, Tony Beard, Dennis Chambers, Cozy Powell (drums)
The London Metropolitan Orchestra
  1. ...And the Gods Made Love
  2. Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)
  3. Rainy Day, Dream Away
  4. The Wind Cries Mary
  5. Spanish Castle Magic
  6. Little Wing
  7. In from the Storm
  8. Drifting
  9. Bold as Love
  10. Burning of the Midnight Lamp
  11. Purple Haze
  12. One Rainy Wish
Recorded between August 1994 and June 1995

Merle Travis and Joe Maphis - Country Guitar Giants

Merle Travis will be familiar to many or most of you, but lesser known, perhaps, is the phenomenal Joe Maphis (see the Youtube link, but prepare to have your jaw drop).

This is a value packed (30 tunes!) collection that features winner after winner. The notes are also pretty fine - there are tributes to guys that influenced and taught Travis; Mose Rager and Ike Everly, father of Phil and Don. As Bacoso might say; All killer, no filler.

"One of the flashiest country guitarists of the 1950s and 1960s, Joe Maphis was known as The King of the Strings. He was able to play many stringed instruments with great facility. However, he specialized in dazzling guitar virtuosity. Working out of Bakersfield, California, he rose to prominence with his own hits such as "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)" as well as playing with acts like Johnny Burnette, Doyle Holly, The Collins Kids, Wanda Jackson, Rose Maddox and Ricky Nelson. His playing was an influence on such greats as Merle Travis, Jimmy Bryant and Chet Atkins. He was known for his use of a double-neck Mosrite guitar, specially built for him by Semie Moseley, which was a boon to Moseley's fledgling career as a guitar builder. He was a regular guest on the Jimmy Dean television show in the 1960s.

Joe's guitar hero was Mother Maybelle Carter, matriarch of the Carter Family. Her daughter June Carter Cash and husband Johnny Cash so admired Joe's guitar playing that Joe is buried in a Hendersonville, TN cemetery next to Maybelle, her husband, Ezra Carter (A.P.'s brother), and daughter, Anita Carter."

(I have Maphis' remarkable "Fire On The Strings" CD if anybody would like to do a guest review.)

In this landmark 1979 album, Joe Maphis, known as the “The Fastest Guitar Alive” and Merle Travis, legendary originator of “Travis Pickin,’” combine their considerable talents to prove why Country Guitar Giants is no overstatement. Between these “Kings of the Strings,” they have influenced almost every field of American popular music with their innovative flat-picking and awe-inspiring skill. “Joe and Ole’ Merle” attack the old Appalachian ballads, Tin Pan Alley numbers and country and pop songs that inspired them when they were young. Listening to “Wildwood Flower” and “Columbus Stockade Blues” you can hear the joy Travis and Maphis take in playing these great tunes together. Country Guitar Giants is a stunning collaboration between two larger than life guitar masters.

Merle Travis (guitar)
Joe Maphis (guitar)
Bill Linneman (bass)
Buddy Harmon (drums)

1. Free Little Bird
2. Mose Rager Blues
3. Alabama Jubilee
4. Hear Dem Bells
5. Eight More Miles To Louisville
6. Little Rosewood Casket
7. John Henry
8. Cannonball Rag
9. Beer Barrel Polka
10. My Adobe Hacienda
11. Lover
12. Snow Deer
13. Ike Everly's Rag
14. Sweet Bunch Of Daisies
15. Somebody Stole My Gal
16. San Antonio Rose
17. Li'l Liza Jane
18. Bury Me Beneath The Willow
19. High Noon
20. Down Among The Budded Roses
21. Freight Train
22. I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
23. Wildwood Flower
24. Back In The Saddle Again
25. Memphis Blues
26. Black Mountain Rag
27. Say 'Si Si'
28. Columbus Stockade Blues
29. Right Or Wrong - Smiles
30. I Saw The Light

Albuquerque, New Mexico: April 4-6, 1979

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Track Of The Day

Lost In The Stars: The Music Of Kurt Weill

Another of these amazing Willner productions - and , shoot, Kurt Weill? It don't get better.

Not to be confused with Sony's 1997 soundtrack release, September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill, which was inspired by this 1985 CD on A&M, and co-produced by visionary Hal Willner, Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill indeed contains the "eclectic updates of Kurt Weill's distinctive German theater music" with help from Sting, Marianne Faithfull, John Zorn, Lou Reed, Carla Bley, Tom Waits, Charlie Haden, and more. This deep and complex work contains a 12-page booklet chock-full of information condensed into tiny, tiny print. Did the onset of compact discs hold this elaborate project back? If it were released on vinyl à la Jesus Christ Superstar, would it have reached a wider audience? With such diverse artists as Peanut Butter Conspiracy keyboardist Ralph Shuckett, Van Dyke Parks, and Aaron Neville, it's literally a cast of thousands. Coming on the heels of new wave as techno and trance were taking more of a hold this extensive presentation may have been a bit too heady for audiences embracing the simplicity of power pop and punk. You expect Marianne Faithfull to hit a home run, and she does on "Ballad of the Soldier's Wife," with some help from Chris Spedding, while superstar Sting is at his underground finest performing a creepy "Mack the Knife," a place his original fans wanted him to stay. Surprisingly, it is Lou Reed who, along with Ms. Faithfull, walks away with the "Oscar" here. Reed's outside appearances on soundtracks and tribute projects is hit or miss, working best when he gets to put together "My Love Is Chemical" for the film White Nights or a "Little Sister" from the Get Crazy soundtrack, disappointing when "Soul Man" for the film of the same name goes nowhere. "September Song" by Lou Reed is such a standout that its almost five minutes get extended to seven plus, as it becomes the title track to the aforementioned film this CD project inspired. Henry Threadgill's controlled cacophony on "The Great Hall" is everything Brian Eno's Portsmouth Sinfonia aspired to be. Had Eno taken that ensemble in this direction, they may have had a chance. Todd Rundgren and Gary Windo sound like Trevor Horn let loose in the studio to have some '80s fun, while Aaron Neville, Mark Bingham, and Johnny Adams are the antithesis of this track that follows them. Sounds and ideas from over a century of music cascade across the 67 minutes and 34 seconds of this CD. Both breathtaking and pretentious, there is so much to discover and contemplate that at the end of the day, Lost in the Stars gets a thumbs up. Interesting to note that in 1998, Marianne Faithfull would release a disc, The Seven Deadly Sins, featuring her performing music by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. For that great artist, this type of material is a perfect fit. ~ Joe Viglione

Lester Bowie (trumpet)
Van Dyke Parks (conductor)
Henry Threadgill (conductor)
Phil Woods (alto sax)
Randy Brecker (trumpet)
Paul McCandless (oboe
Steve Swallow (bass)
Charlie Haden (bass)
Buell Neidlinger (bass)
Kenny Kirkland (piano)
Lou Reed (guitar)
Chris Spedding (guitar)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)
Marianne Faithfull (vocals)
Sting (vocals)
Bob Dorough (vocals)
Many others

1. Mahagonny Songspiel - Steve Weisberg, Steve Weisberg
2. Ballad Of Mac The Knife - Dominic Muldowney, Sting
3. Cannon Song - Fowler Brothers, Stan Ridgway
4. Ballad Of The Soldier's Wife - Marianne Faithfull, Chris Spedding
5. Johnny Johnson Medley - Van Dyke Parks
6. Great Hall - Henry Threadgill
7. Alabama Song - Richard Butler, Ralph Schuckett
8. Youkali Tango - Armadillo String Quartet
9. Der Kleine Leutnant des Lieben Gottes (The Little Lieutenant of the Loving God) - John Zorn
10. Johnny's Speech - Van Dyke Parks
11. September Song - Lou Reed
12. Lost in the Stars - Carla Bley, Phil Woods
13. What Keeps Mankind Alive? - Tom Waits
14. Klops Lied (Meatball Song) - Elliott Sharp
15. Surabaya Johnny - Dagmar Krause
16. Hurricane Introduction - Mark Bingham
17. Oh, Heavenly Salvation - Mark Bingham
18. Call from the Grave/Ballad In Which MacHeath Begs All Men For ... - Todd Rundgren
19. Speak Low - Charlie Haden
20. In No Man's Land - Van Dyke Parks

Sérgio Mendes & Bossa Rio - Você Ainda Não Ouviu Nada (1963)

Some years before finding his "musical formula", Sérgio Mendes headed a purely instrumental sextet. In 1963, they recorded "Você ainda não ouviu nada", which would become a "cult-record". Gathering young players which would soon be recognized as masters, the record was a blend of samba and jazz influences. The arrangements were made mainly by Sérgio Mendes itself and by Tom Jobim, but it was also here that Moacir Santos's Nanã and Coisa #2 were recorded by the first time, in this case with arrangements of Moacir itself. "Ela é carioca" gets a vibrant version. You hardly will find a better version of this song. Half of the tracks are by Jobim, but the other tracks stand well together. There are no fillers in this album, but to my personal taste the other highlights besides "Ela é carioca" are "Corcovado", "Nanã" and "Coisa Nº2". If you like Brazilian music and didn't heard this before, take my word: This is a Sérgio Mendes completely different from the ony you heard on Brasil'66 or Brasil' 77. And much better.


1- Ela é carioca (Jobim)

2- Neurótico (J.T.Meirelles)

3- Coisa Nº2 (Moacir Santos)

4- Desafinado (Jobim)

5- Corcovado (Jobim)

6- Garota de Ipanema (Jobim)

7- Primitivo (Mendes)

8- Noa Noa (Mendes)

9- Nanã (Moacir Santos)

10- O amor em paz (Jobim)


Sérgio Mendes (Piano)

Ed Maciel (Trombone)

Raul de Barros (Trombone)

Hector Costita (Tenor sax)

Tião Neto (Bass)

Edison Machado (Drums)

Brute Force - Brute Force

This seems like one of the things Numero might release, but it's from the Sepia Tone label that put out the Ornette This Is Our Music that appeared here a month ago. I've also seen two Alice Coltrane re-issues (meh), and I'm sure they have a few more out or planned. Props to them.

Brute Force was a soul-jazz band (slanted toward the soul end) that released a single self-titled album in 1970, produced by Herbie Mann. The band had a solid soul sound, which could head into slightly more out territory, as well. The band and Mann had a stroke of genius when they decided to recruit the band's childhood friend and Mann bandmate Sonny Sharrock (who had also played with Pharoah Sanders at that point) to add some extra spice to the sessions. The results are so righteous and groovy, you'll wonder where this album has been for the last 30 years. Imagine the Black Panthers recording Memphis Underground and you're somewhere in the ballpark. Strong vocals on about half the tunes, great horn playing, dirty electric piano, killer two-bass grooves, and Sharrock's ultra-aggressive soul playing make this album a solid winner. Sharrock fans will flip at this forgotten session, and DJs and crate-diggers everywhere would be well-served by picking this up. Right on, Brother! ~ Sean Westergaard

Sonny Sharrock (guitar)
Arthur Brooks (trumpet)
Teddy Daniel (trumpet)
Stan Strickland (tenor sax, flute)
Richard Daniel (electric piano)
Thomas Lee Williams (bass)
Russel I. Ingels (bass)
Sidney Smart (drums)
Robert A. Jones (drums)

1. Do It Right Now
2. Some Kind Of Approval
3. Deacon
4. Right Direction
5. Monster
6. Ye-Le-Wa
7. Doubt

Mat Maneri - Sustain

If you wanted to pick just one record to give a complete tyro some insight into where jazz was heading at the start of a new century and/or millenium, this would be a strong contender. The group is a near-perfect match for Maneri's distinctive approach and McPhee, who restricts himself to soprano saxophone on this occasion, rather than his usual multi-instrumentalism, is in towering form. Five of the nine tracks are headed 'Alone', with 'Origin', 'Construct', 'Unravel', 'Cleanse' and 'Mourn' as subtitles. Interspersed are generally longer and more obviously composed pieces, of which 'Nerve' and the title-track are the most substantial. Taborn's huge palette of sounds and McPhee's endless harmonic resource are woven into Maneri's now familiar viola-playing. The result is beguiling, fiercely intelligent and possibly the most coherent and impressive statement from the string man to date. ~ Penguin Guide

It is difficult to think of this as anything but pure joy, although in some ways it is less intense than other releases led by the remarkable violist Mat Maneri and it is stamped with a cerebral quality from the start. There is a surprisingly charming density, too, that comes through on most tracks, though as with most of his work, there are few if any melodic references but instead a focus on color and sound. Maneri carefully paces himself and the quintet so that every note counts, resulting in some of his most interesting work on disk. At times it might seem somewhat slow, even morose, but upon close listening a diversity and a depth are revealed that belie the noir episodes. Of course, it helps to have major talent such as bassist William Parker and multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, who is heard exclusively on soprano sax. Ultimately, what makes this so attractive is that the suite of tunes is somehow completely different than anything else that the violist has recorded before and it has the stamp of something important that transcends individual notes. Craig Taborn's stunning keyboards sound like an electric guitar at one moment and an electric piano the next. (His work on acoustic piano should raise more than a few eyebrows.) Most importantly, the pianist is immersed in an aesthetic of surprise, so that the rhythm trio of Taborn, Parker, and Gerald Cleaver not only meshes but opens windows of opportunities for Maneri and McPhee. Those familiar with Maneri's work will be delighted at the subtlety, restraint, and complexities; this is possibly his most accessible album to date and one that is filled with memorable moments. ~ Steven Loewy

Mat Maneri (violas)
Joe McPhee (soprano sax)
William Parker (bass)
Craig Taborn (keyboards)
Gerald Cleaver (drums)

1. Alone (Origin)
2. In Peace
3. Alone (Construct)
4. Sustain
5. Alone (Unravel)
6. Nerve
7. Alone (Cleanse)
8. Divine
9. Alone (Mourn)

Jack Teagarden & Bobby Hacket - 1955-1957 Complete Fifties Studio Recordings

Here you have two definitive traditional blowing sessions led by chief exponents of the Eddie Condon school of Chicago jazz. Originally issued as Coast Concert, this smart album of old-style standards played by cornetist Bobby Hackett's jazz band blends trombonists Abe Lincoln and Jack Teagarden in a front line spiked with the clarinet of Matty Matlock. The solid rhythm section is anchored by Phil Stephens, who handles both the upright bass and the tuba. This session, recorded in Los Angeles on October 18 and 19, 1955, fairly bristles with upbeat Dixieland struts and stomps. Mr. T executes a pair of superb vocals ("Basin Street Blues," "St. James Infirmary") and the horns savor a couple of cool ones ("New Orleans" and "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plans"). Hackett and Teagarden's co-led album, originally issued as Jazz Ultimate, was waxed at the Riverside Plaza Hotel in New York City on September 16 and 17, 1957. This band made exceptionally fine music owing to the participation of clarinetist Peanuts Hucko (who also sounds like Bud Freeman when he blows the tenor sax), Ernie Caceres on clarinet and baritone sax, and ace piano man Gene Schroeder. Two takes of a calm and ruminative "55th and Broadway" are particularly fine examples of a strongly steeped blues taken at a leisurely pace. The combination of styles and temperaments makes for an exceptionally fine album of old-fashioned jazz.
arwulf arwulf

01 Struttin' With Some Barbecue (Lil Armstrong) 3:02
02 Muskrat Ramble (K. Ory, R. Gilbert) 3:02
03 New Orleans (H. Carmichael) 2:56
04 Basin Street Blues (S. Williams) 4:40
05 St. James Infirmary (J. Primrose) 4:32
06 That's a Plenty (T. Pollack) 4:30
07 I Want a Big Butter and Egg Man (L. Armstrong, B. Venables) 3:13
08 Fidgety Feet (N. LaRocca, L. Shields) 3:07
09 Royal Garden Blues (C. Williams) 4:54
10 I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan (H. Dietz, A. Schwartz) 3:22
11 (Back Home Again In) Indiana (B. MacDonald, J. F. Hanley) 2:58
12 It's Wonderful (M. Parish, S. Smith, R. Wells) 4:00
13 Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (H. Creamer, T. Layton) 3:32
14 'S Wonderful (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) 2:45
15 Baby, Won't You Please Come Home (C. Williams, C. Warfield) 3:06
16 I Found a New Baby (J. Palmer, S. Williams) 2:44
17 Mama's Gone, Goodbye (P. Bocage, A. Piron) 2:46
18 Oh Baby (O. Murphy) 2:30
19 Sunday (C. Cohn, B. Krueger, E. Miller, J. Styne) 2:29
20 Everybody Loves My Baby (J. Palmer, S. Williams) 2:28
21 55th and Broadway (B. Hackett, J. Teagarden) 3:40
22 (Back Home Again In) Indiana alt. tak. (B. MacDonald, J. F. Hanley) 2:59
23 55th and Broadway alt. tak. (B. Hackett, J. Teagarden) 4:39

Coast Concert
Recorded at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, on October 18-19, 1955 (tracks 1-10)

Jack Teagarden Trombone, Vocals
Bobby Hackett Cornet
Abe Lincoln Trombone
Matty Matlock Clarinet
Nappy Lamare Guitar
Don Owens Piano
Phil Stephens Bass, Tuba
Nick Fatool Drums

Jazz Ultimate!
Recorded at Plaza Hotel, New York, on September 16-17, 1957 (tracks 11-23)

Bobby Hackett Cornet
Jack Teagarden Trombone, Vocals
Peanuts Hucko Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Ernie Caceres Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone
Billy Bauer Guitar
Gene Schroeder Piano
Jack Lesberg Bass
Buzzy Drootin Drums

Nico Saquito y sus Guaracheros de Oriente - Alborada

by Senen Suarez
During the first years of the Forties decade, the radio station RHC Cadena Azul was like a beehive, with an incredible and continual coming and going of artists, musicians, journalists etc. Its proprietor, Amado Trinidad paid better than other stations, and it was for that reason there was such a large and uncontrollable influx of elements pertaining to the arts.
It was there where famous international artists were heard for the first time as well as numerous national artists becoming well-known. It was precisely in that large and spacious salon at Cadena Azul where we saw a well-dressed man of small stature holding a guitar, and moving himself with agility, at times helping someone concerning a guaracha and at another moment composing a melody; that person was none other than Antonio Fernandez Ortiz (Santiago de Cuba 1902-1982), known professionally as Nico Saquito. Fernandez at these moments was connected with the radio station Radio Cadenas Suaritos, where he helped out as musical advisor and much later found himself in a similar role at Cadena Azul.
During those months we appeared on RHC Cadena Azul with the trio "Caunabo", made up by Tony Tejera, Gerardo Pedroso and me, accompanying Rosario Durcal, the singer with the Cabalgata company. It was not a success../..continued in comments

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Teddy Wilson - Teddy And The Girls Vol. 3 1938-1939 (Masters Of Jazz)

Subtitled "Teddy & the Girls," this leg of the Teddy Wilson story differs markedly from the meticulously chronological approach usually employed by the Masters of Jazz label, in that it does not sequentially present every single recording he made as sideman or leader between March 23, 1938 through August 10, 1939; instead, it skips over instrumentals and famous Billie Holiday sides to maintain its focus upon two female vocalists who have often been left on the sidelines by the prevailing if deservedly heavy emphasis upon Wilson's many collaborations with Lady Day. Tracks one through eighteen feature the voice of Nan Wynn while the last five songs are sung by Thelma Carpenter. As always, each and every edition of the Teddy Wilson Orchestra included some of the world's very best jazz musicians. The roster on this album includes Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russell, Ben Webster, Gene Sedric, Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges, Rudy Powell, Al Casey, and J.C. Heard. These comparatively uncommon Teddy Wilson recordings are well worth investigating in their own light and supplementally in order to fill in the gaps that still persist in Wilson's extensive discography. If you enjoy this, be sure and investigate the two previous volumes in the miniseries "Teddy & the Girls" ~ arwulf arwulf

Teddy Wilson (piano)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Benny Carter (alto sax)
Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Bud Freeman (tenor sax)
Gene Sedric (tenor sax)
Pee Wee Russell (clarinet)
Bobby Hackett (cornet)
Herschel Evans (tenor sax)
Harry James (trumpet)
John Kirby (bass)
Cozy Cole (drums)
Thelma Carpenter (vocal)
Nan Wynn (vocal)
Billie Holiday (vocal)

1. Alone With You
2. Alone With You
3. Moments Like This
4. Moments Like This
5. I Can't Face The Music
6. I Can't Face The Music
7. If I Were You
8. If I Were You
9. You Go To My Head
10. I'll Dream Tonight
11. I'll Dream Tonight
12. Now It Can Be Told
13. Now It Can Be Told
14. Laugh And Call It Love
15. Laugh And Call It Love
16. On the Bumpy Road To Love
17. On the Bumpy Road To Love
18. A-Tisket, A-Tasket
19. Why Begin Again? (Pastel Blue)
20. Love Grows On The White Oak Tree
21. This Is the Moment
22. Stairway To The Stars
23. Back To Back

Hal Willner Presents Weird Nightmare: Meditations On Mingus

Producer Hal Willner had created a reputation as a fascinating instigator, organizing homages to composers as diverse as Nino Rota and Thelonious Monk wherein he conscripted the services of musicians from all over the stylistic map, allowing them to bring their unique interpretations and approaches to bear on the subjects. For his Charles Mingus project, his central idea was as inspired as it was loony: to incorporate the amazing instruments invented and designed by another equally maverick composer, Harry Partch, into reinterpretations of Mingus' work. By and large, it works, making Weird Nightmare a strange and wonderful one-off event. There's a central band at work based around bassist Greg Cohen and guitarist Bill Frisell, with guest stars, mostly from the rock world, including Robbie Robertson, Dr. John, Keith Richards, and Chuck D Highlights abound; when Partch's Marimba Eroica is struck during "Pithecanthropus Erectus," the floors of the listener's dwelling may buckle. Elvis Costello's reading of the title song is, well, eerily weird. One special high point is the version of "Gunslinging Bird" where text from Mingus' autobiographical Beneath the Underdog is angrily and righteously declaimed by Chuck D.; it's arguably as pure and forceful as anything he ever accomplished with Public Enemy and makes one wonder why he never pursued this seemingly rewarding path. There are several missteps as well, to be sure. Most egregiously, Keith Richards' sneering condescension on "Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me," as though he had better things to do, is embarrassing. But eventually, it's simply the gorgeous music of Charles Mingus that carries the day, showing itself more than capable of shouldering the ghost of Harry Partch and the wayward inclinations of its interpreters. Most of the pieces glow in these unusual treatments, and make Weird Nightmare a must for any serious Mingus fan. ~ Brian Olewnick

Henry Threadgill (flute)
Geri Allen (piano, chromelodeon)
Charlie Watts (drums)
Gary Lucas (guitar)
Vernon Reid (guitar)
Keith Richards (guitar)
Bill Frisell (guitar)
Robert Quine (guitar, keyboards)
Tony Trischka (banjo)
Don Byron (bass clarinet, marimba)
Marc Ribot (banjo, marimba)
Diamanda Galás (vocal)
Hubert Selby, Jr. (vocal)
Leonard Cohen (vocal)
Dr. John (vocal)
Robbie Robertson (vocal)
Henry Rollins (vocal)
Ray Davies (humming)
Don Alias (percussion)
Chuck D (vocal)
Bobby Keys (tenor sax)
Chuck Leavell (piano)

1. Canon (Part 1)
2. Meditations On Integration
3. Canon (Part 2)
4. Jump Monk
5. Weird Nightmare
6. Work Song
7. Self-Portrait In 3 Colors
8. Purple Heart
9. Tonight At Noon
10. Gunslinging Bird, or If Charlie Parker Were A Gunslinger, There'd Be A Whole Lot Of Dead Copycats
11. Weird Nightmare Interlude
12. Reincarnation Of A Lovebird/Haitian Fight Song Montage
13. Open Letter To Duke
14. The Shoes Of The Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers
15. Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me
16. Eclipse
17. Pithecanthropus Erectus
18. Freedom
19. Weird Nightmare (Reprise)

What's on eBay right now?

Roy Eldridge - 1951 (Chronological 1311)

Roy Eldridge visited Stockholm in January of 1951. The first two numbers recorded there were issued on Classics 1259 (1950-1951). These remaining Swedish selections cover a wide range of styles and moods. Eldridge's adaptation of Louis Jordan's "Saturday Night Fish Fry" was issued on two sides of a 78-rpm platter. His approach to "They Raided the Joint" is not quite as rowdy as that of Hot Lips Page. "The Heat's On" and "Estrad Swing" convey powerful currents of what at the time was modern, up-to-date jazz, comparable to what Coleman Hawkins was blowing. "No Rolling Blues" is a slow exercise in artful complaining, the subject being a dishonest woman. Two final Stockholm recordings, spruced up with Charles Norman's harpsichord, resemble the Artie Shaw Gramercy Five at their finest, when the tinkling keyboard was handled by Johnny Guarnieri. Back in Paris during March of 1951, Eldridge pooled his energies with tenor saxophonist Don Byas and a rhythm trio featuring Claude Bolling at the piano. This blowing session, resulting in three pressure cookers and a cool processional, was energized by the inspired drumming of Armand Molinetti. On the following day, Eldridge recorded a fine pair of duets with Claude Bolling as a tribute to Earl Hines and Louis Armstrong. "Wild Man Blues" evokes the original pairing, while "Fireworks" is based on the famous stomp by Armstrong's Hot Five. Back in New York six months later, Eldridge collaborated wonderfully with tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate on a mixed bag of selections recorded for the Mercury label. Tate pours himself into "Baby What's the Matter With You." "Sweet Lorraine" features the trumpet with lots of reverb, and "Yard Dog," initially waxed by Eldridge's big band in May of 1946, whips along at an almost alarmingly rapid pace, with Charlie Smith socking the drums and Buddy Tate booting away on his tenor. Considering the fact that "Jumbo the Elephant" is a novelty singalong, Eldridge's band manages to swing fairly hard with it. In December of 1951 Norman Granz recorded Eldridge backed by a large string ensemble. This was not at all unusual at the time, as Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday made many wonderful records using this sort of instrumentation. Roy Eldridge was such a soulful, pungent player that these orchestral settings come off as honest, reflective, and substantial. ~ arwulf arwulf

Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Don Byas (tenor sax)
Claude Bolling (piano)
Buddy Tate (tenor sax)
Teddy Brannon (piano)
Clyde Lombardi (guitar)

1. Saturday Night Fish Fry -Part 1
2. Saturday Night Fish Fry - Part 2
3. The Heat's On
4. No Rolling Blues
5. They Raided The Joint
6. Estrad Swing
7. Hoppin' John
8. Scottie
9. Oh ! Shut-Up
10. Hollywood Passtime
11. I'd Love Him So
12. Tres Chaud
13. Wild Man Blues
14. Fireworks
15. Baby What's The Matter With You
16. Yard Dog
17. Sweet Lorraine
18. Jumbo The Elephant
19. Basin Street Blues
20. I Remember Harlem
21. Easter Parade
22. I See Everybody's Baby

VIDEO: Kurt Elling - Belgrade JF 2009

Kurt Elling at the Belgrade Jazz Fest
November 1, 2009

Yet another great broadcast from the Euro-satellite channel MEZZO. This was the second half of the live transmission from Belgrade that included the Terence Blanchard Quintet. A little bio for you to arouse your interest:

One of the few male jazz singers from around the baby boom generation, Kurt Elling is an anomaly simply by profession. Given the depth and broad vision of his recordings and performance style, Elling is in a league of his own. Planning a career in the academic world, he discovered jazz and took to it naturally. Deeply influenced by singer and poet Mark Murphy, Elling began to develop his idiosyncratic scat style in the smaller clubs of Chicago (primarily at the Green Mill, sharing the stage with legends Von Freeman and Ed Peterson) and then throughout the Midwest. An Elling show can contain ranting beat poetry, dramatic and poignant readings of Rilke, and hard-swinging scat. After sending a demo to Blue Note, Elling signed to the label and issued Close Your Eyes in 1995. He began to get attention from the jazz press, not only for his talent and original style, but also for his choice in sidemen, which included Laurence Hobgood and Paul Wertico for a time. His ultra-hip persona prevailed on 1996's Messenger, which was tougher and leaner than its predecessor, and along with hard touring and a taste for the theatrical and outrageous, Elling won over not only critics but jazz audiences from coast to coast. Elling was married that same year and chose, depending on your point of view, either to revise his hipster image or broaden his traditional base with a collection of standard ballads and love songs entitled This Time It's Love. The album won numerous awards in magazines and was nominated for a Grammy. Endless touring and guest appearances resulted in Blue Note issuing Live in Chicago from three sets at the Green Mill, and 2001 resulted in Flirting with Twilight, his most ambitious and satisfying recording -- he opened the disc by singing a Charlie Haden bass solo. Man in the Air and Nightmoves followed in 2003 and 2007, respectively. In 2009, as part of Lincoln Center's American Songbook Series of concerts, Elling released the live album Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman. — Thom Jurek / AMG

Monday, December 7, 2009

Art Farmer - Brass Shout/Aztec Suite

How would Bobby Timmons feel about Moanin' by a large ensemble? Ask him; he's playing piano.

The two albums on this CD originally were recorded for United Artist in 1959, and both feature Art with large orchestras. "Brass Shout" is purposely top-heavy with brass players (trumpets, trombones, French horns, tuba), and in this instance at least, arranger Benny Golson has a strong affinity for the French horn: Julius Watkins takes a number of solos throughout the proceedings. Golson also presents two of his better, if lesser known, compositions, Five Spot After Dark (Art has an excellent muted solo here) and Minor Vamp, and these along with Horace Silver's Nica's Dream and Bobby Timmons's Moanin'' are the highlights of the album. Anyone who thinks Count Basie has a monopoly on the way April In Paris should be played will be in for a surprise with the version here.

"Aztec Suite" also has a big brass section, though there's a good saxophone section as well, with tenorman Zoot Sims taking the solos; he's especially fine on Woody 'N' You. Chico O'Farrill has the arranging honors, and his Latin preferences are in the fore. The title track is a 16-minute multi-faceted work whose exoticism sometimes detracts from its jazz concerns. The Latin rhythms dominate on Heat Wave and Drume Negrita. These two albums probably put bigger feathers in the caps of Golson and O'Farrill than in Farmer's, but they are interesting to hear and are perfect together on one CD.

Art Farmer (trumpet)
Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Ernie Royal (trumpet)
Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Bobby Timmons (piano)
Hank Jones (piano)
Addison Farmer (bass)
Percy Heath (bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Nica's Dream
2. Autumn Leaves
3. Moanin'
4. April In Paris
5. Five Spot After Dark
6. Stella By Starlight
7. Minor Vamp
8. Aztec Suite
9. Heat Wave
10. Delirio
11. Woody 'N' You
12. Drume Negrita
13. Alone Together

Larry Coryell & Eleventh House Live at Jazzworkshop Boston/MA, 1973-12-04

Larry Coryell & Eleventh House

Live at Jazzworkshop Boston/MA, 1973-12-04

Source: FM >Metal Audio Tape (in trade)>CDR Phillips 880>EAC Secure>Flac Frontend>Level 6
Sound: A-/B+ (listen to mp3 sample)

Larry Coryell: el-guitar
Randy Brecker: trumpet
Danny Trifan: el-bass
Mike Mandel: keyboards
Alphonse Mouzon: drums

1) DJ Introduction
2) Yin (Wolfgang Dauner)
3) Lolita
4) The Funky Waltz
5) untitled
6) Guitar solo
7) Joyride
8) Birdfinger

Total Time: 71.05 min


thanks to Kinebee for the reseed at DIME

wayne shorter quartet & imani winds jazz baltica musik- und kongresshalle luebeck, germany 03. july 2008

wayne shorter quartet & imani winds
jazz baltica
musik- und kongresshalle
luebeck, germany
03. july 2008

source: astra sat > nexus-s > hdd > nero wave editor > flac
(astra sat uses MPEG1 Layer 2/320 kbps)

wayne shorter - ts, ss
danilo pérez - p
john patitucci - b
brian blade - dr

valérie coleman - flute
torin spellman-diaz - oboe
mariam adam - clarinet
Monica Ellis - bassoon
jeff scott - french horn

01. liber tango 02-:15
02. pegasus 18:25
03. suite: 27:47
zero gavity
she moved through the fair

Sunday, December 6, 2009

BN LP 5032 | Clifford Brown - New Star On The Horizon

This is another one in the New Faces Series, although the title drifts from the usual.
This was recorded at Audio-Video Studios, which is also unusual for Blue Note - I checked in Cook's Blue Note, but cannot find any mention of why a different studio was used, Alfred Lion only used it one more time for a George Wallington session a year later.

Cook does say this "Quality Control, which was a preoccupation of Lion's, saw to it that there were very few duds among Blue Note's release schedule....Among the 1953 sessions, two led (or, in the case of the first one, co-led) by Clifford Brown stand out as exceptional..."

For specific tracklistings, have a look at the excellent Jazz Discography Project

Jazz The World Forgot: Volume 2

Scotty Y kind of misses the point of this kind of compilation - again. He must have a devil of boss; his inbox must be enormous. There are some fine little things here: check out "Goofus".

This groundbreaking series brings together some of the greatest performances of early jazz, illustrating that before jazz became a listener's music of improvised solos it was the rhythm-driven dance music of America, the rock and roll of its day. This album shows the incredible variety of the 1920s jazz by bringing together diverse, often obscure masterpieces by legendary small groups and large bands from both city and country. Highlighted is the rich regional flavor of early American jazz with showpieces by territory bands such as Ross De Luxe Syncopaters, Taylor's Dixie Serenaders, and Roy Johnson's Happy Pals along with classics by the pioneer New Orleans band of Louis Dumaine, Sam Morgan and much more. This is an entertaining and illuminating exploration of early jazz which traces its roots back to marching bands, ragtime and vaudeville.

The second of two CDs put out by Yazoo that has a variety of obscurities (plus a few better-known performances) from the 1920s, Jazz the World Forgot, Vol. 2 shares with the earlier volume the fault of not listing the full personnel and the exact recording dates. Musically, the program contains 23 selections from as many groups (this is not a release for completists) and covers a wide span of hot '20s jazz, with one number apiece from J. Neal Montgomery, Sam Morgan, the Whoopee Makers, Andy Preer & the Cotton Club Orchestra, George McClennon's Jazz Devils, Edna Winston, Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight, Clarence Williams (featuring Sidney Bechet on "Wild Cat Blues"), Dixon's Jazz Maniacs, the Ross De Luxe Syncopators, Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders, Bennie Moten, Bennett's Swamplanders, Phil Baxter, Thomas Morris & His Seven Hot Babies, Johnny DeDroit, Lou Weimer, Reb Spikes Majors & Minors, Charles Creath's Jazz-O-Maniacs, King Oliver, Slim Lamar, the Five Hot Chocolates and the New Orleans Owls. ~ Scott Yanow

1. Auburn Ave. Stomp J. Neal Montgomery And His Orchestra
2. Everybody's Talking About Sammy Sam Morgan's Jazz Band
3. Rush Inn Blues The Whoopee Makers
4. I Found a New Baby Andy Peer And The Cotton Club Orchestra
5. New Orleans Wiggle George McClennon's Jazz Devils
6. Pail In My Hand Edna Winston
7. Pretty Audrey Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight
8. Wild Cat Blues Clarence William's Blue Five
9. Crazy Quilt Dixon's Jazz Maniacs
10. Don't You Wanna Know? Ross De Luxe Syncopaters
11. The Ramble Paul Howard'S Quality Serenaders
12. Kater St. Rag Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra
13. Big Ben Bennett's Swamplanders
14. Ain't Got No Gal Now Phil Bazter And His Orchestra
15. The Mess Thomas Morris And His Seven Hot Babies
16. The Swing Johnny De Droit And His New Orelans Orchestra
17. Merry Widow's Got a Sweetie Now
18. My Mammy's Blues Reb Spikes Majors And Minors
19. Butter Fingers Blues Charles Creath's Jazz-O-Matics
20. Sobbin' Blues King Oliver's Jazz Band
21. Goofus Slim Lamar's Southerners
22. Alabama Shuffle Five Hot Chocolates
23. White Ghost Shivers The New Orleans Owls

Joe Henderson - Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (1991)

With the release of this CD, the executives at Verve and their marketing staff proved that yes, indeed, jazz can sell. The veteran tenor Joe Henderson has had a distinctive sound and style of his own ever since he first entered the jazz major leagues yet he has spent long periods in relative obscurity before reaching his current status as a jazz superstar. As for the music on his "comeback" disc, it does deserve all of the hype. Henderson performs ten of Billy Strayhorn's most enduring compositions in a variety of settings ranging from a full quintet with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and duets with pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson to an unaccompanied solo exploration of "Lush Life." This memorable outing succeeded both artistically and commercially and is highly recommended. - Scott Yanow

Billy Strayhorn was one of the greatest composers in jazz history. It's no wonder Duke Ellington, his longtime collaborator, considered Strayhorn to be his alter ego. The beauty of Strayhorn's music lies in the fact that his tunes need no embellishment, yet at the same time, they are great vehicles for improvisation. For the performer, his music requires sensitivity, but it also invites daring interpretations.

Both reverent and playful, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson strikes a perfect balance on Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis contributes tremendously to this album with blistering solos on "Johnny Come Lately" and "U.M.M.G. (Upper Manhattan Medical Group)." However, other musicians are featured throughout, as well--the three duo tracks, "Isfahan," "Lotus Blossom," and "Take the 'A' Train," illustrate the greatness of bassist Christian McBride, pianist Stephen Scott, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, respectively. Henderson himself displays tremendous improvisational prowess on all the tracks, particularly shining on his solo rendition of "Lush Life."

Joe Henderson (tenor sax)
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet)
Stephen Scott (piano)
Christian McBride (bass)
Gregory Hutchinson (drums)

1. Isfahan
2. Johnny Come Lately
3. Blood Count
4. Rain Check
5. Lotus Blossom
6. A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing
7. Take the 'A' Train
8. Drawing Room Blues
9. U.M.M.G. (Upper Manhattan Medical Group)
10. Lush Life

Recorded September 3, 6, 8, 1991

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mound City Blues Blowers - 1935-1936 (Chronological 895)

The Mound City Blue Blowers originally made history with a dozen high-quality novelty recordings during 1924-25 that featured the trio of Red McKenzie's comb, Dick Slevin's kazoo and banjoist Jack Bland; guitarist Eddie Lang solidified the rhythm on their later six numbers. However, other than McKenzie's participation, those dates had little to do with the 25 recordings on this Classics CD, the last issued under the Mound City Blue Blowers' name. In fact, other than taking four vocals on the first date, McKenzie makes only cameo appearances on kazoo during the remainder of the program, although he had clearly organized the bands. The six sessions feature overlapping personnel with some hot playing from either Bunny Berigan (on four of the dates) or Yank Lawson on trumpet and Eddie Miller or Forrest Crawford on tenor and clarinet. In addition to McKenzie, guitarist Nappy Lamare has eight vocals; there are also five from Billy Wilson, four from Spooky Dickenson and two by a vocal group. Only "High Society" and "Muskrat Ramble" are instrumentals, although there are strong solos on nearly every number. The music falls between Dixieland and small-group swing and is most notable for the playing of Berigan. Scott Yanow

Spooky Dickenson (vocal)
Bunny Berigan (trumpet)
Yank Lawson (trumpet)
Frank Signorelli (piano)
Nappy Lamare (guitar)
Dave Barbour (guitar)
Eddie Condon (guitar)
Carmen Mastren (guitar)
Roy Bauduc (drums)
Dave Tough (drums)

1. What's The Reason (I'm Not Pleasing You?)
2. She's A Latin From Manhattan
3. You've Been Takin' Lessons
4. Indiana
5. Red Sails In The Sunset
6. I'm Sittin' High On A Hill Top
7. On Treasure Island
8. Thanks A Million
9. Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
10. A Little Bit Independent
11. I'm Shooting High
12. I've Got My Fingers Crossed
13. High Society
14. Muskrat Ramble
15. The Broken Record
16. The Music Goes 'Round And Around
17. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself A Letter)
18. Mama Don't Allow It
19. (If I Had) Rhythm In My Nursery Rhymes
20. I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music
21. You Hit The Spot
22. Spreadin' Rhythm Around
23. Saddle Your Bliss To A Wild Mustang
24. Wah-Hoo!
25. I'm Gonna Clap My Hands

Recorded 1935-1936 in New York City

John Coltrane Quartet/Quintet Birdland WADO Broadcasts 1962-63

John Coltrane Quartet/Quintet
WADO Broadcasts 1962-63
Partially restored, tweaked, and improved by Prof. Goody and TheTooleMan, April 2008

Friday, December 4, 2009

Eddie Lang - Jazz Guitar Virtuoso

I got this when it came out, and it has always been one of my absolute favorite albums.

Eddie Lang did not lead many sessions during his short life, and the great majority are on this Yazoo collection. The most in-demand guitarist of 1925-1933, Lang's rare opportunities to head his own dates put the focus on his single-note lines and gave him a chance to be in the spotlight rather than making other players sound good. This album has two unaccompanied solos (including Rachmaninoff's Prelude), duets with pianists Frank Signorelli, Arthur Schutt, and Rube Bloom, and three of his famous collaborations with fellow guitarist Lonnie Johnson. However, the most memorable tracks are Lang's two exciting duets with guitarist Carl Kress: "Pickin' My Way" and an alternate take of "Feeling My Way." This is highly recommended music from the best jazz guitarist prior to the rise of Django Reinhardt. ~ Scott Yanow

Eddie Lang was the most famous jazz guitarist of the 20s. Always in demand for session work with notables such as Louis Armstrong and Joe Venuti, Lang's reputation grew quickly. By the time of his premature death he was the leader in the field of jazz guitar solos, a category he virtually created. A single Lang performance frequently presents a potpourri of flourishes drawn from diverse musical idioms. This album includes Eddie's Twister, Church Street Sobbin' Blues, Picking My Way, Blue Guitars and others.

Active throughout the 1920s and '30s until his tragic death following a botched tonsillectomy, Eddie Lang, the first bona fide jazz guitar virtuoso, had a background in a wide range of musical genres, as this brief best-of attests. Beginning with a fragment of a Bach prelude, he breezes through the hot jazz of "Pickin' My Way," the sentimental "April Kisses," the bluesy "Eddie's Twister," and the delicately romantic "A Little Love, a Little Kiss," both solo and accompanied by his fellow guitarist, the equally talented and legendary Lonnie Johnson.

Eddie Lang (guitar)
Lonnie Johnson (guitar)
Carl Kress (guitar)
Frank Signorelli (piano)
Arthur Schutt (piano)

1. Prelude
2. Pickin' My Way
3. Rainbow Dreams
4. Blue Guitars
5. April Kisses
6. I'll Never Be The Same
7. Blue Room
8. Eddie's Twister
9. Midnight Call Blues
10. Perfect
11. A Little Love, A Little Kiss
12. Melody Man's Dream
13. Feeling My Way
14. Church Street Sobbin' Blues

Ramsey Lewis Trio - 1964 At the Bohemian Caverns

Astoundingly, Ramsey Lewis released a total of six albums in 1964 alone, which brought his total as a bandleader to 14 in eight years on the scene -- 15 if you include an early best-of. While it was not uncommon for a musician to release more than one album a year in those heady days, six was ambitious by anybody's standards. Live at the Bohemia Caverns (in Washington D.C.) was Lewis' second live date, and one that provided a blueprint for the later live dates that would put him near the top of the pop charts a year later with The In Crowd. The material on this set was very ambitious. Along with bassist Eldee Young and drummer Redd Holt, Lewis began the show with a long medley from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, comprising the tunes "Somewhere" (which bookends it), "Maria," and "Jet Song." It is a dramatic way to start an evening -- especially since the texture of the first tune in the medley features Young switching to arco playing on his double bass. But it's a charmer. You can tell an audience is in the building, but they are quiet and understandably moved. Lewis' discipline and classical training are on display here in spades and he is way up to the challenge, especially as he improvises on the changes before Holt kicks it with his cowbell on "Maria," introducing a full-blown, tough soul-jazz workout before it closes. The band kicks it with a bossa nova reading of "People (Who Need People)" as a way of bringing the more than likely stunned audience back to the reason they made it to the gig in the first place. It's gentle but it swings and it is full of subtle touches from the rhythm section, with Lewis moving in and out of blues and soul and back to a genteel hard bop. These two cuts make the first side, but the fireworks really start with the finger-popping reading of Chris Kenner's R&B classic "Something You've Got," which was popular at the time, and some female fans in the crowd begin singing the chorus and everybody else claps. The wild thing is that Young is alternately playing and bowing his bass -- way funky but cool. The only argument with Lewis' sets at this time was his nearly irritating method of following each uptempo workout with a ballad. He does that here with a very slow, elegant but sleepy reading of "Fly Me to the Moon." In contrast to the cooking that went on just a couple of moments ago, it could make one lose the vibe. Thankfully, the trio gets right back to it with a smoking, over the top version of Willie Dixon's blues standard "My Babe," which is a showcase for Young's soloing ability -- he carries the melody, as well as improvising on it, and with Holt's hi hat-snare shuffle in double-time, it pushes thing into the realm of the ecstatic. Lewis follows it with his only original, a roughshod piano blues jam called "The Caves," improvised no doubt for the date. Doesn't matter, it's a killer 12-bar with Ramsey pulling out his gospel and R&B chops to weave through his beautiful hard bop phrasing. The reworking of the country classic, "The Shelter of Your Arms" that closes this set is a knotty little workout with some great work by Holt, who precedes the beat just a bit, moving it through a series of wily changes in tempo and melody. Ramsey begins by using Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" in his solo and then decides to work the tune in against the original melody, and it brings the house down. This is a hip date with that one distraction, and like all of his Argo and Cadet live sides, should be chased down. [This set was finally issued on CD in America by Verve as part of its excellent Originals series. It sounds terrific and contains the original art -- no bonus tracks, but you don't need them.]
Thom Jurek

01 West Side Story Medley: Somewhere/Maria/Jet Song/Somewhere (Bernstein) 11:38
02 People (Styne) 5:36
03 Something You Got (Kenner) 3:38
04 Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words) (Howard) 6:33
05 My Babe (Dixon) 4:01
06 The Caves (Lewis) 3:20
07 The Shelter of Your Arms (Collie) 3:57

Ramsey Lewis Piano
Eldee Young Bass, Cello
Redd Holt Drums

Recorded live at The Bohemian Caverns, Washington, on June 4 to 6, 1964

Gravikords Whirlies And Pyrophones

Reichel, Rockmore and Partch have made appearances here before - here's more of the DIY crew.

A beautifully illustrated and fascinating book with CD (or vice-versa) presenting the imaginative inventions of 37 among several hundred homemade musical instrument builders/performers in new music around the world. The spectrum of inspirations is wide: complex, sophisticated electronic creations like Don Buchla's "Thunder" and "Lightning" devices to the bamboo saxophone of Jamaican "mento" musician Sugar Belly (William Walker), the Futurist noise orchestras of Luigi Russolo at the beginning of the century to Fred "Spaceman" Longs' junk metal sculptures. The CD has generous excerpts of the work of 18 of these creators, most of whom are composer-builder-performers. ~ "Blue" Gene Tyranny

Gravikords, Whirlies and Pyrophones is a book-and-CD package devoted to new and unheard-of musical instruments. The book, written by Bart Hopkin with an introduction by Tom Waits, is full of irresistible photographs and informative text; the CD is full of great music; every page and every track overflow with ideas and originality. Nineteen of the world’s most interesting and inventive musical instrument makers appear. For more on just what's included here, see the "artist bios" section and the track listing below. [NOTE: this is the abridged re-release of the earlier boxed set of the same title.This abridged version includes everything form the original CD plus one more track. The book, however, is in a smaller format, and while the book in the original version contained sections on all the artists on the CD plus many more, the book in this newer release covers the artists from the CD only.)

1. Excerpt From Le Bal - Hans Reichel
2. Excerpt From Pacific 3-2-1-Zero - Phil Dadson
3. Excerpt From Silence The Tongues Of Prophecy - Qubais Reed Ghazala
4. Luminescence - Jean-Claude Chapuis
5. Excerpt From In The Beginning: Etude II - Don Buchla, Robert Moog
6. Chant De L'Orgue A Feu - Michel Moglia
7. Excerpt From Claycussion - Ward Hartenstein
8. Excerpt From And On The Seventh Day, Petals Fell In Petaluma - Harry Partch
9. Shake Up Adina - Sugar Belly
10. Bamboo Is - Darrel De Vore
11. The Swan - Clara Rockmore
12. Terra Zona - Barry Hall, The Burnt Earth
13. Naiades - Jacque Dudon
14. Instru-Matics - Ken Butler
15. Entomological Effervescence - Tom Nunn
16. Kindred Spirits - Sarah Hopkins
17. Piccadilly - Robert Grawi
18. Aquaknots - Susan Rawcliffe
19. New York, New York - Wendy Mae Chambers

Track Of The Day

VIDEO: Terence Blanchard Quintet Live at Belgrade

Belgrade JF November 1, 2009
Terence Blanchard Quintet

The Euro-satellite channel MEZZO does it again with this performance, broadcast live from the Belgrade Jazz Festival last month. The camerawork and sound engineering were not up to par with some other shows done live by Mezzo, but are still quite good. Terence plays with a very capable crew of youngsters, and they get into some very far out stuff, well appreciated by the crowd. You will surely want to catch this broadcast when it is shown again.

Evgeny Kissin plays the Rach3

Rachmaninoff — Piano Concerto No.3
Evgeny Kissin — Seiji Ozawa
Boston Symphony Orchestra

This may remain the definitive performance of this most difficult concerto for some time to come. Read the booklet contents below and I'm sure you will be compelled to listen:

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of Sergei Rachmaninoff's famous Victor recording of his own Second Piano Concerto, RCA Victor Red Seal made the daring decision to re-record this work with the virtually unknown 16-year-old Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. The furor created by the release of that recording brought Kissin worldwide recognition, and paved the way to his now legendary Carnegie Hall recital debut (recorded complete on Red Seal) on September 30, 1990.
But making Kissin's recording of the Rachmaninoff Second Concerto had been a relatively simple matter. As he wasn't a celebrity, there were no extraordinary critical expectations to be met, and he was free of the pressures that the glare of publicity would have created. The project was realized in a closed studio in a quiet London suburb.
The present recording of Rachmaninoff's Third Piano concerto was quite another matter. During the five years between the two recordings, Kissin had appeared with the world's greatest conductors and orchestras, had played to unanimous acclaim in all the major music capitals of Europe, the USA and Japan, and had electrified an estimated one billion viewers on the international telecast of the 1992 Grammy Awards. It's an understatement to say that the press and the public were now taking particular note of Kissin's new recording activities. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Rachmaninoff, Kissin elected to record what is perhaps the most difficult piano concerto ever written—and to do so before a live audience. Kissin has a decided preference for live recordings: "With an audience present to ignite my passions and those of the conductor and orchestra, we are in the best situation to release the emotions of the music. The emotions of this concerto are particularly exposed—as they are in the Russian character in general—and so the audience plays an invaluable part in our interpretative process." The modest yet determined 21-year-old pianist had thus posed a considerable challenge for himself, and he drew capacity crowds and a coterie of the international press to Boston's magnificent Symphony Hall to witness the creation of the document now in your hands. With his preferred collaborators—the Boston Symphony and Seiji Ozawa—Kissin was to prove yet again that he was in every way equal to the formidable task he had set himself../..continued in comments.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Roy Smeck - Plays Hawaiian Guitar, Banjo, Ukelele And Guitar 1926-1949

The only problem with this album is the use of the word "play" in the title. Sure, with most musicians it can be called "playing" an instrument. With Roy Smeck, what he does on Hawaiian guitar or just plain old regular guitar is more like a consecration. His banjo work is more like a reordering of molecules. "Ukulele Bounce" sounds like a man playing a ukulele, and very well at that, but creates more of a historical impact as one realizes recordings from nearly a quarter of a century are represented on this collection. Colorful lettering by none other than R. Crumb just adds to the class of the whole affair. Smeck was a technical genius of stringed instruments and also an explorer. He created sounds behind the bridge and nut, and on the body of the instrument as well. Listeners might be used to these types of techniques from avant-garde music, but the real innovators in this type of playing were musicians such as Smeck. He used these techniques in the course of so-called "normal" music, but the fact that it is neither atonal nor really weird shouldn't make one think it isn't exciting or interesting to listen to. His early pieces were pretty straight from the Hawaiian style, Smeck tinkering energetically around the edges of what might be acceptable to the "aloha" crowd while establishing his mastery of the genre's traditions. Exposure to jazz players such as Eddie Lang apparently inspired him to sit the guitar up straight in his lap and attack it with a plectrum, which is the same way he took on the banjo. The results are imaginative and frequently wild, perfect musical miniatures with such a visual presence one might think they were landscape paintings. Some of the titles add to the fun: "Tough Pickin'," "Guitarese," "Slippery Fingers," and "Nifty Pickin'." Smeck plays wonderfully whether the track was recorded in the '20s, '30s, or '40s. That's no surprise, seeing how he was the fellow who described his ascension in the music industry thusly: "I didn't play any better for 1,250 dollars than for 150 dollars." Which goes to show that even he considered what he did "playing," no matter how miraculous it sounded. Nobody ever played any better than he did, either. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

Roy Smeck was one of the earliest nonclassical guitar virtuosos, and his expertise on Hawaiian guitar, banjo, and ukulele is well-documented on this CD. Influenced by such greats as Eddie Lang, Ikey Robinson, banjoist Harry Reser, and steel guitarist Sol Hoopii, Smeck carved out a big-time niche as a "string wizard" on the vaudeville circuit. Unable to sing very well, Smeck had to grab the audience's attention with a dazzling barrage of stage tricks and gimmicks. These tricky novelty numbers are featured here, while many of his more tasteful accompaniment records are absent. Smeck was clearly a master musician and a gifted entertainer; unfortunately, many of these tracks would no doubt be more impressive witnessed as a stage act. Still, this CD is highly recommended. ~ Terry Zwigoff

1. Twelfth Street Rag
2. Frettin' Blues
3. Shuffle Off To Buffalo
4. Limehouse Blues
5. Nifty Pickin'
6. Tough Pickin'
7. Slippery Fingers
8. Steel Guitar Rag
9. Tiger Rag
10. Guitarese
11. Farewell Blues
12. Ukelele Bounce
13. Bugle Call Rag
14. Laughing Rag

Harry Reser - Banjo Crackerjax 1922-1930

The music on this highly entertaining CD is much more of a group effort than the title would suggest. Make no mistake, Harry Reser was one of the great banjo virtuosos, although his style was totally of the strummed, plectrum variety without a trace of the mystic quality of Appalachian banjo or the fingerpicking stunts of bluegrass players. With the banjo's rapid sound decay and complete lack of fortitude in certain registers, a combo with plenty of harmonic punch, like a good piano player, is required to pull off the kind of ragtime, early swing, and novelty numbers that make up the repertoire here. Keys and chords are going by quickly here, and whereas the ideal choice of accompaniment for a bluegrass player might be a guitarist strumming an endless G chord, Reser needs his pianist to be all over the map to put an address behind his plinks and plunks. Some of the finest banjo playing here involves the beautiful tone he gets in the lower register, almost like the banjo equivalent of Coleman Hawkins on tenor sax if such a thing can be believed from a banjo, and intentionally out-of-tune slides on that make it sound like he is playing a rubber band. The entire CD might have a kind of cartoony effect on the listener between the manic banjo playing and eccentric, sometimes silly arrangements and tunes. There is no information provided about the other musicians, and only a morsel of credit provided for a few of the composers. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

Harry Reser (banjo, vocals)

1. Lollypops
2. Frosted Chocolate
3. Heebe Jeebes
4. The Cat And The Dog
5. Crackerjack
6. Flaperette
7. Kitten On The Keys
8. Easy Goin'
9. The Old Town Pump
10. Fair And Warmer
11. Pickin's
12. Crazy Jo'
13. Sugar Blues
14. Send Back My Honeyman

Track Of The Day

Matthew Gee - Jazz By Gee

Trombonist Matthew Gee was primarily a section player and a valuable sideman, but as this CD reissue shows, he could have been a significant soloist too. The two sessions (Gee's only as a leader) feature him in an unusual quintet with altoist Ernie Henry (the trombone-alto blend has a unique sound) and at the head of a septet also including trumpeter Kenny Dorham, tenorman Frank Foster and baritonist Cecil Payne. The music is quite bop-oriented and mixes together standards with three swinging Gee originals. An underrated and generally overlooked gem by a forgotten trombonist. ~ Scott Yanow

A fine bop trombonist, Matthew Gee appeared on many sessions in the 1950's but was fairly obscure during the latter part of his life. Gee started out playing trumpet, switched to baritone horn and settled on trombone when he was 11. He studied at Alabama State, worked with Coleman Hawkins, served in the Army and then played with Dizzy Gillespie on and off during 1946-49. Gee had stints with Joe Morris, the Gene Ammons-Sonny Stitt band, Count Basie (eight months in 1951), Illinois Jacquet, Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie (for a brief time in his 1957 big band). He was a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra (intermittently during 1959-63) and in later years played with small combos including those of Paul Quinichette and Brooks Kerr. Matthew Gee just led one record date (Jazz By Gee, a Riverside set that has been reissued on CD) and he co-led a 1963 Atlantic session (Soul Groove) with Johnny Griffin. Gee also recorded with Lou Donaldson, Illinois Jacquet and Ellington among others. His main influence was J.J. Johnson. ~ Scott Yanow

Matthew Gee (trombone)
Ernie Henry (alto sax)
Joe Knight (piano)
Wilbur Ware (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)
NYC, July 19, 1956

Matthew Gee (trombone)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Frank Foster (tenor sax)
Cecil Payne (baritone sax)
Joe Knight (piano)
John Simmons (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)
NYC, July 19, 1956

1. Out Of Nowhere
2. I'll Remember April
3. Joram
4. Sweet Georgia Brown
5. Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be)
6. Gee!
7. Kingston Lounge
8. The Boys From Brooklyn

Ian Carey 5tet - Sink/Swim

Check out his blog with some live free mp3s of the album:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coleman Hawkins - 1937-1939 (Chronological 613)

This edition of Classics' chronological account of Coleman Hawkins' 1937-1939 recordings takes in the tenor giant's last few years of a half-decade stay in Europe. By this time, Hawkins was well on his way to possessing the incredible command and ingenuity eventually essayed on his epochal 1939 recording of "Body and Soul." And while he saved his best for that landmark performance and other cuts that marked his return to the States, Hawkins certainly didn't just make due on the Continent. In addition to more tracks with Danish jazzers the Ramblers (their initial work with Hawkins is heard on the earlier 1934-1937 disc), the collection features the four legendary sides Hawkins made with the All-Star Jam Band, which included Django Reinhardt, Benny Carter (the other main jazz ex-pat of the time), and Stephane Grappelli, among other French players; if there are finer combo performances from this period than "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Sweet Georgia Brown," they number only a few. Hawkins further plies his ever-developing horn skills on several fine duo cuts with pianist Freddy Johnson, including the Hawk-penned "Lamentation" and a version of "Stardust." For listeners interested in acquiring just a single disc covering the saxophonist's European recordings, this generous volume is the one to get. ~ Stephen Cook

The last of Hawk's European recordings. The All Star Jam Band titles turn up here again, as well as a further session with The Ramblers, but otherwise the main interest is in ten titles with just Freddy Johnson (and Maurice van Cleef on the final six). 'Lamentation', 'Devotion' and 'Star Dust' are masterclasses in horn tedhnique, Hawkins exploring the registers and feeling through theharmonies with complete control. The sound id good, although the engineers aren't bothered about surface hiss. ~ Penguin Guide

Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Benny Carter (trumpet, alto sax)
Django Reinhardt (guitar)
Stéphane Grappelli (piano)
Freddy Johnson (piano)
Alix Combelle (clarinet, tenor sax)

1. I Wanna Go Back To Harlem
2. Consolation
3. Strange Fact
4. Original Dixieland One-Step
5. Smiles
6. Something Is Gonna Give Me Away
7. Honeysuckle Rose
8. Crazy Rhythm
9. Out Of Nowhere
10. Sweet Georgia Brown
11. Lamentation
12. Devotion
13. Stardust
14. Well, All Right Then
15. Blues Evermore
16. Dear Old Southland
17. Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
18. I Know That You Know
19. When Buddha Smiles
20. Swinging In The Groove
21. Darktown Strutters' Ball
22. My Melancholy Baby

Firebird V11 Phil Manznera

‘Firebird V11’ is an explosion of musical inventiveness, created by Phil Manzanera, one of the UK’s great musicians and guitarists, in collaboration with ex-Quiet Sun and This Heat’s avant garde drummer Charles Hayward, top Polish classical/jazz pianist Lezek Mozdzer and renowned bassist Yaron Stavi from Gilad Atzmon’s Orient House Ensemble and released on 10 November 2008 on his label Expression Records. This ambitious musical endeavour is inspired by the red and white Gibson Firebird V11 guitar, his signature guitar and one that Manzanera has had a 35 year musical partnership with.

The Firebird V11 album has its origins in a chance meeting at Gatwick Airport. Manzanera explains:
“I was standing in the security queue and the man in front of me turned round and said “hello Phil”, it was Charles Hayward, school friend, drummer on our 1975 Quiet Sun album..who I hadn’t seen for 20 years. We agreed that it would be great to work together on another music project. Around this time Gibson Guitars called me about a signature guitar ‘inspired by Phil Manzanera’ and of course it had to be my Firebird V11: I bought it in 1973 and it featured on Roxy Music’s second album cover, ‘For Your Pleasure.’

With Charles Hayward on drums, bassist Yaron Stavi was recruited to the project, with the final place in the quartet taken by Leszek Mozdzer, the celebrated Polish pianist. In addition to his own composition, Manzanera asked that the three musicians each contribute a piece of music, as was ex-Quiet Sun alumni Bill MacCormick, with one track, ‘Mexican Hat’ improvised in the studio. The seven track album was recorded in one week at Manzanera’s Gallery Studios in June 2007.

Firebird V11 continues in the tradition of Quiet Sun and the instrumental side of the 801 Live project. MacCormick and Haywards’ tracks were in fact written in 1970 for Quiet Sun’s ‘Mainstream’ album, but until now, were never recorded. The tracks are:
1. Fortunately I Had One with me W MacCormick
2. Cartagena Manzanera
3. FIREeBIRed Mozdzer
4. Mexican Hat Manzanera/Hayward/Mozdzer/Stavi
5. Firebird V11 Manzanera
6. A Few Minutes Stavi
7. After Magritte Hayward





Joe Morris - 1950-1953

The second volume in Classics Records' chronological survey of the recording career of trumpet player and bandleader Joe Morris opens with his biggest hit, "Anytime, Any Place, Anywhere," which topped the R&B charts in 1950, thanks in part to a fine vocal by Laurie Tate. Tate sings the first eight tunes here, actually, with Teddy Smith, Billy Mitchell, Jimmy Lewis, and even Morris himself taking turns at singing on other tracks on this collection, which brings together Morris' early '50s sides for Atlantic Records (plus the "Travelin' Man" single from Herald Records). Among the clear highlights are the instrumental "Ghost Train," the edgy, relentless stomp of "Watch Out I Told You," a fine vocal duet by Billy Mitchell and Teddy Smith on "If I Had Known," and the marvelous "Travelin' Man," which clearly prefigures rock & roll, a genre Morris would have thrived in had he lived long enough (he died in 1958). "Anytime, Any Place, Anywhere" is frequently anthologized, but as far as dedicated albums are concerned, the two volumes from Classics Records are all there is on CD, with this second volume getting the nod if you can only afford one. ~ Steve Leggett

Joe Morris (vocals, trumpet)

1. Anytime, Any Place, Anywhere
2. Stormy Weather
3. Come Back Daddy, Daddy
4. Rock Me Daddy
5. You're My Darling
6. I Hope You're Satisfied
7. Can't Stop My Crying
8. Don't Take Your Love Away
9. Ghost Train
10. Midnight Grinder
11. Jump Everybody Jump
12. Love Fever Blues
13. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
14. Pack Up All Your Rags
15. My Love, My Desire
16. Bald Head Woman
17. If I Had Known
18. Let's Have A Ball Tonight
19. Verna Lee
20. Watch Out I Told You
21. Someday You'll Be Sorry
22. Travelin' Man
23. No It Can't Be Done

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Andrew Cyrille and Anthony Braxton - Duo Palindrome 2002: Volume 1

Even before he started wearing baggy corduroys, sensible shoes, and sweaters with elbow patches, Anthony Braxton's image was one of the enigmatic intellectual. You had to expect his playing to be more geometric than gutbucket. In a meeting at Wesleyan University (where Braxton is on the faculty), however, he and Andrew Cyrille make music that turns that image on its ear. Perhaps the responsibility is Cyrille's, the most instinctively musical of the "New Thing" drummers, whose playing in any setting is subtle, orchestral, swinging and energetic. But if the question becomes who is really playing in who's yard, whether Braxton is moving a little closer to the mainstream, or whether Cyrille is flexing his avant garde muscles, over the course of this two-disc 100-minute concert the revealed answer is that they meet somewhere in the middle.

Only four of the fifteen improvisations here approach or exceed ten minutes, so the pieces are varied enough and brief enough not to wear out their welcome. And while Cyrille is virtuosic, Braxton, who plays every contra- and supra- version of every horn in the reed family, solos on alto, soprano, clarinet and what sounds like bass sax. On Braxton's own "Composition No. 311," he moves from soprano to bass while Cyrille maintains a fairly steady rhythm. On "Sound Relations," Cyrille claps, slaps, and plays his face (along with the drums) while Braxton blows short runs and fiddles with his mouthpiece. "Interlacing" is quiet, and the subsequent "Celestial Gravity" is quieter, offering gossamer cymbal shimmers and tiny squeaks. A little melody creeps into "Quickened Spirits," and on "Effluence," Cyrille's evocative malletry supports lovely clarinet soloing.

Intimately recorded to the point where you can hear Braxton draw breath, the most accessible and impressive tracks are from Cyrille's pen. "Water, Water, Water" has a jungle beat, "Excerpt from Navigator" features a military drumroll and Braxton's startling bass sax, and on "The Loop," Cyrille rests some beads on his hi-hat for added texture. These CDs are essential for fans of great modern drumming, sax-drum duos, or those who don't know where to start in the Braxton body of work. And on Cyrille's "Dr. Licks," Braxton even gives you a little gutbucket. ~ Jeff Stockton

Anthony Braxton (saxophones)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)

1. Duo Palidrome 2002
2. The Loop
3. Interlacing
4. Celestial Gravity
5. Quickened Spirits
6. Effluence
7. Composition No. 310
8. Ascendancy

Cal Tjader

Soul Sauce

Soul Sauce
is one of the highlights from Tjader's catalog with its appealing mixture of mambo, samba, bolero, and boogaloo styles. Tjader's core band -- long-time piano player Lonnie Hewitt, drummer Johnny Rae and percussionist's Willie Bobo and Armanda Peraza -- starts things off with a cooled down version of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo's latin jazz classic "Guachi Guaro (Soul Sauce)". With the help of guitarist Kenny Burrell, trumpeter Donald Byrd, and tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath they offer up a lively version of Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue." Sticking to his music's "Mambo Without a Migraine" reputation, though, Tjader's musicians keep things fairly calm, especially on Latinized ballads such as Billy May's "Somewhere In the Night" and on midtempo swingers like "Tanya." On Soul Sauce Tjader had perfected a middle ground between the brisk, collegiate mambo of his early Fantasy records and the mood-heavy sound of Asian themed albums like Breeze From the East. In the process, he dodged the "Latin lounge" label with an album full of smart arrangements, subtly provocative vibe solos, and intricate percussion backing. ~ Stephen Cook

Cal Tjader (vibraphone)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Lonnie Hewitt (piano)
Jimmy Heath (tenor sax)
Richard Davis (bass)
Armando Peraza (percussion)
Willie Bobo (percussion)
Grady Tate (drums)

1. Soul Sauce
2. Afro-Blue
3. Pantano
4. Somewhere In The Night
5. Maramoor Mambo
6. Tanya
7. Leyte
8. Spring Is Here
9. Joao
10. Soul Sauce
11. Monkey Beams
12. Ming
13. Mamblues

November 19, 20, and 23, 1964

Tjader Plays Tjazz

In a change of pace, for this recording vibraphonist Cal Tjader recorded cool-toned bop without a Latin rhythm section. Half of the ten songs (mostly jazz standards) feature Tjader switching to drums (his original instrument) in a quartet also including the obscure trombonist Bob Collins, guitarist Eddie Duran and bassist Al McKibbon. Tjader is back on vibes for the quintet selections with tenor saxophonist Brew Moore, pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Bobby White. He sounds right at home in both formats and the swinging quintet numbers in particular are a good reason to search for this valuable album. ~ Scott Yanow

Cal Tjader (vibraphone, drums)
Sonny Clark (piano)
Brew Moore (tenor sax)
Eddie Duran (guitar)
Bob Collins (trombone)
Gene Wright (bass)
Al McKibbon (bass)
Bobby White (drums)

1. Moten Swing
2. I've Never Been In Love Before
3. There Will Never Be Another You
4. How About You
5. Jeepers Creepers
6. A Minor Goof
7. My One And Only Love
8. Imagination
9. I'll Know
10. Brew's Blues

Hamiet Bluiett - Resolution

The most prominent baritone saxophonist of his generation, Bluiett combines a blunt, modestly inflected attack with a fleet, aggressive technique, and (maybe most importantly) a uniform hugeness of sound that extends from his horn's lowest reaches to far beyond what is usually its highest register. Probably no other baritonist has played so high, with so much control; Bluiett's range travels upward into an area usually reserved for the soprano or even sopranino. His technical mastery aside, Bluiett's solo voice is unlikely to be confused with any other. Enamored with the blues, brusque and awkwardly swinging — in his high-energy playing, Bluiett makes a virtue out of tactlessness; on ballads, he assumes a considerably more lush, romantic guise. Like his longtime collaborator, tenor saxophonist David Murray, Bluiett incorporates a great deal of conventional bebop into his free playing. In truth, Bluiett's music is not free jazz at all, but rather a plain-spoken extension of the mainstream tradition.

Bluiett was first taught music as a child by his aunt, a choral director. He began playing clarinet at the age of nine. He took up the flute and bari sax while attending Southern Illinois University. Bluiett left college before graduating. He joined the Navy, in which he served for several years. He moved to St. Louis in the mid-'60s, where he met and played with many of the musicians who would become the musicians' collective known as the Black Artists Group — Lester Bowie, Charles "Bobo" Shaw, Julius Hemphill, and Oliver Lake, among others. Bluiett moved to New York in 1969; there he joined Sam Rivers' large ensemble, and worked free-lance with a variety of musicians. In 1972, Bluiett's avant-garde garrulousness and his competency as a straight-ahead player gained him a place in one of Charles Mingus' last great bands, which also included pianist Don Pullen. Bluiett stayed with Mingus until 1975. In 1976, he recorded the material that would comprise his first two albums as a leader, Endangered Species and Birthright.

In December of '76, Bluiett played a one-shot concert in New Orleans with Murray, Lake, and Hemphill. That supposedly ad-hoc group continued to perform and record as the World Saxophone Quartet, which in the '80s became arguably the most popular free jazz band ever. The WSQ's early free-blowing style eventually transformed into a sophisticated and largely composed melange of bebop, Dixieland, funk, free, and various world musics, its characteristic style anchored and largely defined by Bluiett's enormous sound. Bluiett continued to record and tour with the WSQ through the '80s and '90s; he also led his own ensembles and recorded a number of strong, progressive-mainstream albums for Black Saint/Soul Note. By the mid-'90s, Bluiett was recording and supervising sessions for Mapleshade Records.

Hamiet Bluiett (baritone saxophone, clarinet, flute, bamboo flute)
Billy Hart (drums, percussion)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Don Moye (percussion)
Don Pullen (piano, organ)

1. Happy Spirit
2. Flux/A Bad M.F.
3. Head Drake
4. Before Yesterday
5. Spring's Joy
6. "Mahalia"... No Other One

Generation Sound Studios, NYC, November 1977