Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stan Tracey - Under Milk Wood

"Does anyone here realise how good he is?" ~ Sonny Rollins

Under Milk Wood remains one of the most distinctive records of it's era, a setting of Dylan Thomas which uses spare, unadorned jazz material to somehow evoke the eccentric light of the original play. A pioneering work which is a rare instance of jazz accomodating an outside inspiration in a way that honours the qualities of each side of the equation. Its leanness is a Tracey characteristic which has sometimes been dissipated by his big-scale orchestrations. Wellin's somewhat legendary solo on 'Starless And Bible Black' remains compelling, but it shouldn't overpower the impact of the rest of a record which should be listened to in its entirety. ~ Penguin Guide

This 1965 recording is perhaps the most highly regarded jazz album ever made by British artists. Since its first release by Columbia it has been reissued numerous times on various labels, growing in stature and critical acclaim on each occasion. The suite of eight pieces was inspired by characters and turns of phrase in Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas's "play for voices", which Tracey knew well. Each piece has a strong, memorable theme and robust harmonies, but the enduring appeal of the whole work lies as much in its tones and textures. Tracey's percussive, full-chorded piano makes a wonderful foil for the tenor saxophone of Bobby Wellins, whose slightly lost, slightly foggy sound dominates the slower pieces, especially the sublime, floating "Starless And Bible Black". There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in jazz. This new edition has been sensitively remastered by Clark Tracey and Tristan Powell to retain the warmth of the original 35-year-old recording. A genuine classic restored. ~ Dave Gelly


Stan Tracey (piano)
Bobby Wellins (tenor sax)
Jeff Clyne (bass)
Jackie Dougan (drums)

1. Cockle Row
2. Starless And Bible Black
3. I Lost My Step In Nantucket
4. No Good Boyooyo
5. Penpals
6. Llareggub
7. Under Milk Wood
8. A.M. Mayhem

Lansdowne Studios, London: May 8th 1965

Denny Zeitlin - Mosaic Select 34

“Hey play that again … Yeah! He sounds like a piano player! … and he can play it; you know what’s happening with this one. Yeah, he was on a Bobby Timmons kick. He knows what’s happening.” - Thelonious Monk, Downbeat Blindfold Test

Remarkably, whether he's playing an impressionistic ballad, a hard bop classic or a free original, Denny Zeitlin sounds like no other. He has the technique and harmonic knowledge to execute anything his fertile imagination conjures up. His music resonates with joy and honesty.

Denny Zeitlin's first album, Cathexis, recorded in 1964 with Cecil McBee and Freddie Waits was an instant critical and commercial success with Zeitlin hailed as a new and original voice of the piano. Later in 1964, Denny assembled another amazing trio with Charlie Haden and Jerry Granelli and released the album Carnival. Zeitgeist was recorded over 1966 and '67 and documented the end of the trio with Haden and Granelli and the beginning of one with Joe Halpin and Oliver Johnson, two brilliant musicians who died young.

These three magnificent studio albums have been gathered into one Mosaic Select with 12 previously unissued tunes from the sessions. Denny flew to New York to select the unissued material and remix all the music from the original 3- and 4-track tapes with Mark Wilder. The sonic results are a dramatic improvement over the original LPs.

Miles Davis - Jazz At The Plaza, Vol. 1 (1958)

One year ago I posted volume 2 with Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Jimmy Rushing, but I don't recall volume 1 ever being here. There are many other recordings of these tunes but there are way too few recordings of this particular sextet.

From a live 1958 session at the Persian Room of New York’s swanky Plaza Hotel, this reissue reminds us that Miles Davis’ sextet was one of the greatest in jazz. Originally issued in 1973, the LP contained liner note errors regarding time and place of performance as well as one incorrect song title and one incorrect personnel listing. Those errors have been corrected. The CD repackaging includes both the original liner notes and updated comments from Bob Blumenthal.

Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane provided impressive solo work at the session. Davis led his ensemble through some of the best improvisation jazz has ever seen. It makes you wonder. Which band was better: the earlier Miles Davis Quintet or his sextet? Which year do we hold most dear: 1957 or 1958?

”My Funny Valentine” slows the tempo some and makes room for sensitive soloing, particularly from Evans. Davis improvises a muted solo that had to come from his gut. Quite unlike Chet Baker, Davis would exude from-the-soul emotion and deliver a fresh interpretation every time. The songs average ten minutes, allowing plenty of solo time from this all-star edition of the Miles Davis Sextet. Every reminiscing trip through the Davis archives is a pleasant one. - Jim Santella

Miles Davis (trumpet)
Cannonball Adderley (alto sax)
John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Bill Evans (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)
  1. If I Were a Bell
  2. Oleo
  3. My Funny Valentine
  4. Straight No Chaser
Recorded September 9, 1958

John Carter - Castles Of Ghana

A work of genius both in conception and execution, Carter doesn't even have an entry in the Penguin guide. Are all of his works out of print? Is this possible? 37 versions of Kind Of Blue, and this is out of print? Somebody call Wynton Marsalis and tell him to get off his ass.


The second of clarinetist John Carter's five-part depiction of the history of African Americans deals with the capture of many Africans for shipment as slaves to the New World. Carter's octet on this date features such fine players as bass clarinetist Marty Ehrlich, cornetist Bobby Bradford, trombonist Benny Powell and trumpeter Baikida Carroll, and the music is as dramatic as the episodes it portrays. ~ Scott Yanow


John Carter (clarinet)
Bobby Bradford (cornet)
Baikida Carroll (trumpet)
Marty Ehrlich (bass clarinet, gong)
Terry Jenoure (violin)
Richard Davis (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)

1. Castles Of Ghana
2. Evening Prayer
3. Conversations
4. The Fallen Prince
5. Theme Of Desperation
6. Capture
7. Postlude

Duke Ellington - The Blanton-Webster Band

"Warm Valley" and "The Flaming Sword" are placed together as Ellington slyly planned it.

" ...a two-year period which many hold as Ellington's greatest on record, and it's certainly the summation of his work within the confines of the 78-r.p.m. disc." ~ Penguin Guide

Duke Ellington made sublime music before 1940 and after 1942, but somehow it always comes down to those three crucial years in between when you want to talk magic. During that time, all the pieces came together. By 1940, the already crack band had been joined by three (not two, as the title would have you believe) remarkable musicians, who prodded Ellington's own creative imagination to new peaks: tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, pioneering bassist Jimmy Blanton and arranger-composer Billy Strayhorn.

Suddenly it was like production-line genius: the band began turning out more masterpieces per month than other bands produced in whole careers. Skimming the surface alone is frightening: "Take the 'A' Train," "Cotton Tail," "Harlem Air Shaft," "In a Mellotone," "Ko-Ko," "Chelsea Bridge," "All Too Soon." There's much more, and all of it crackles with originality and contemporary vitality.

What's most exhilarating is to hear Ellington molding indigenous sounds – jazz, blues, pop – with whatever outside influences he needed (European impressionism, Afro-Latin rhythms) to extend and reshape them into his own distinct language. There's a thrilling sense of unlimited boundaries with this band. Ellington may be the acknowledged auteur, but one of the pleasures of his work has always been in separating the parts from the whole. This collection can be enjoyed as a masterwork of composition and leadership or as a series of individual triumphs from the greatest team of jazz players (Johnny Hodges and Cootie Williams, et al.) ever assembled. In drawing together all that preceded him, Ellington pointed the way to all that followed. If you care about American music in any form, this is an essential record. ~ Steve Futterman


This attractive three-CD set contains the master takes of all 66 selections recorded by Duke Ellington's Orchestra during what many historians consider its peak period. Left out are the many alternate takes, last released by European labels, and the Duke Ellington-Jimmy Blanton duets, which are available on a different CD. Included are dozens of classics, including "Ko-Ko," "Concerto for Cootie," "Cottontail," "Harlem Air Shaft," "All Too Soon," "In a Mellotone," "Warm Valley," "Take the 'A' Train," "Jumpin' Punkins," "I Got It Bad," "Jump for Joy," "Rocks in My Bed," "Chelsea Bridge," "Perdido," "The C Jam Blues," and "Johnny Come Lately," among many others. The arrangements and originals of Ellington and Billy Strayhorn are full of surprises, and even the lesser-known pieces are generally gems. With such soloists as trumpeter Cootie Williams, cornetists Rex Stewart and Ray Nance, trombonists Tricky Sam Nanton and Lawrence Brown, clarinetist Barney Bigard, altoist Johnny Hodges, tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, baritonist Harry Carney, bassist Jimmy Blanton, and the leader/pianist (plus singers Ivie Anderson and Herb Jeffries), Ellington led quite a remarkable unit. This music is essential for all jazz collections. ~ Scott Yanow


Duke Ellington (piano)
Johnny Hodges (soprano and alto sax, clarinet)
Ray Nance (trumpet, violin)
Rex Stewart (cornet)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Billy Strayhorn (piano)
Juan Tizol (valve trombone)
Cootie Williams (trumpet)
Lawrence Brown (trombone)
Jimmy Blanton (bass)
Sonny Greer (drums)
Others

Friday, February 27, 2009

Billie Holiday - Vol. 10: 1940-1941 (Masters Of Jazz)

Lady backed by Benny Carter and his All Star Orchestra - not band, orchestra - four tracks comprised of two songs and the continued appearance of the fine Georgie Auld; a radio broadcast with an unknown rhythm section. But the players who are identified are monsters; Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young hold down the tenor section, ably supported by Teddy Wilson among others. And an Eddie Heywood led group again featuring Lester Young. Although Lady and Pres had a deep and intuitive relationship, something happened around this time that caused them to become estranged: they appeared on a couple of rare occasions after this, but they were remote. This is the last work they did together as close friends, apparently.



1-4
Billie Holiday (vocal)
Benny Carter (clarinet, alto sax)
Georgie Auld (tenor sax)
Bill Coleman (trumpet), Benny Morton (trombone)
Sonny White (piano)
Ulysses Livingstone (guitar)
Wilson Myers (bass)
Yank Porter (drums)
East 58th Street, Liederkranz Hall, New York: October 15, 1940


5
Billie Holiday (vocal)
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Hot Lips Page (trumpet)
Charlie Barnet (soprano sax)
Others unidentified
WNEW Studio, 565 Fifth Ave., New York: December, 19, 1940.


6-18
Billie Holiday (vocal)
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Shad Collins (trumpet)
Leslie Johnakins (alto sax)
Eddie Barefield (alto sax)
Eddie Heywood (piano)
John Collins (guitar)
Ted Sturgis (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
799 Seventh Avenue, New York: March 21, 1941

1. St Louis Blues (take 1)
2. St Louis Blues (take 2)
3. Loveless Love (take 1)
4. Loveless Love (take 2)
5. The Man I Love
6. Let's Do It (take 1)
7. Let's Do It (take 2)
8. Let's Do It (take 3)
9. Georgia On My Mind (take 1)
10. Georgia On My Mind (take 2)
11. Georgia On My Mind (take 3)
12. Romance In The Dark (take 1)
13. Romance In The Dark (take 2)
14. Romance In The Dark (take 3)
15. Romance In The Dark (take 4)
16. All Of Me (take 1)
17. All Of Me (take 2)
18. All Of Me (take 3)

Oscar Alemán - Swing Guitar Masterpieces 1937-1957

Oscar Alemán is one of the great unknown talents in jazz history. A brilliant guitarist who sounded very close to Django Reinhardt at times, Alemán was overshadowed in Europe by Reinhardt in the 1930s and spent much of the rest of his career in his native Argentina, remaining well known only in that country. This 1998 double CD from Dave Grisman's Acoustic Disc label has highlights from Alemán's career, including the eight selections he recorded during his three European sessions of 1938-1939, plus music from 1941-1947 and 1951-1954. Although the settings varied (including a sextet with violinist Svend Asmussen, a nonet, and two unaccompanied guitar solos), Alemán's basic swing style stayed the same, retaining its enthusiasm and creativity and remaining unaffected by bop. Sticking throughout to acoustic guitar and taking an occasional good-time vocal, Alemán is heard in peak form. He deserves to be much better known. A definitive two-fer from a major talent. ~ Scott Yanow

Oscar Alemán, one of the finest jazz guitarists of the 1930s, is a difficult player to evaluate because he sounded like a near-exact duplicate of Django Reinhardt. Since Django was a year younger, some have speculated that he developed his style from Alemán, although the opposite is just as likely. Alemán began playing guitar as a teenager in Argentina and in the late '20s, he moved to Europe, Spain at first. By 1931, he was living in Paris and during 1933-1935, he was a regular member of Freddy Taylor's Swing Men From Harlem. Alemán appeared on records with trumpeter Bill Coleman and clarinetist Danny Polo and was the leader on eight selections from 1938-1939. He moved back to Argentina in 1941 and, although he recorded as late as 1974, few outside of his native country have ever heard of him. Strangely enough, Oscar Alemán does not seem to have ever visited the United States and none of his many recordings of swing tunes in his post-Europe years (except for a few titles put out by the collectors TOM label) have ever been released domestically. ~ Scott Yanow



Vince Guaraldi - Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus (20bit K2)

Among the early '60s wave of American jazzmen entranced by Brazilian music, none proved more ebullient than pianist Vince Guaraldi, whose homage to a 1959 film retelling the Orpheus myth as an underclass Rio de Janeiro romance proved a sleeper hit. With Guaraldi's fleet, always rhythmic piano driving these concise trio settings, Black Orpheus remains a seductive delight, probing the then-exotic push and pull of samba with glee, but leaving ample room for more contemplative ballads that remain deeply affecting more than three decades after the album's release. Luis Bonfa's and Antonio Carlos Jobim's music was the seed for the project, yielding a percolating "Samba de Orpheus" and the haunting ballad, "Manha de Carnaval," but the album's best-known performance remains Guaraldi's own wistful and swinging "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." A surprise single hit in 1965, the song would later receive a more expansive pop cover, but it's Guaraldi's original that remains the superior performance--a wordless romantic reverie that speaks volumes in Guaraldi's tender verses, muscular choruses, and romping bridge. ~ Sam Sutherland

Brilliant jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi embraces the equally brilliant music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Henry Mancini, along with his own compositions, highlighted by his haunting classic "Caste Your Fate to the Wind." Every performance by the trio is exquisite. Monte Budwig on bass and Colin Bailey on drums perfectly complement Guaraldi's delicate touch on the keys. Almost heaven. ~ Tim Griggs


Vince Guaraldi (piano)
Monty Budwig (bass)
Colin Bailey (drums)

1. Samba De Orpheus
2. Manha De Carnaval
3. O Nosso Amor
4. Felicidade
5. Cast Your Fate To The Wind
6. Moon River
7. Alma-Ville
8. Since I Fell For You

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Billie Holiday - Vol. 9: 1937 (Masters Of Jazz)

We join Lady in medias res, which is necessary because these exceedingly excellent Masters Of Jazz only show up occasionally. The good news is that I just got about nine of them; this and three more are ripped, 3 are waiting the scans (which is becoming onerous - these are excellent in no small measure because of the comprehensive booklets that come with them), and five others are sitting in the wings.

The twenty tracks here are comprised of twelve tunes, all performances of Billie Holiday and Her Orchestra, with especially fine performances from Roy Eldridge. Also present is the - in the words of the liner notes - "excellent guitarist Lawrence Lucie", who is still with us. We send him thanks and praise.


Billie Holiday (vocals)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Georgie Auld (tenor sax)
Don Byas (tenor sax)
Don Redman (alto sax)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Others

1. Ghost Of Yesterday
2. Body And Soul
3. What Is This Going To Get Us?
4. Falling In Love Again (master take)
5. Falling In Love Again
6. I'm Pulling Through
7. Tell Me More And More
8. Laughing At Life (master take)
9. Laughing At Life
10. Time On My Hands
11. I'm All For You (master take)
12. I'm All For You
13. I Hear Music (master take)
14. I Hear Music
15. It's The Same Old Story (master take)
16. It's The Same Old Story
17. It's The Same Old Story
18. Practice Makes Perfect
19. Practice Makes Perfect
20. Practice Makes Perfect

Herbie Mann - Herbie Mann Plays

Flutist Herbie Mann's first recording as a leader (seven selections from 1954 originally on a 10" LP plus four others cut in 1956) has been reissued on CD with three alternate takes added on. Even back in 1954, Mann (who doubles here on flute and alto flute) had his own sound. The music (featuring either Benny Weeks or Joe Puma on guitar in a piano-less quartet) is essentially straight-ahead bop and finds Mann playing quite melodically and with swing. This set is a good example of Herbie Mann's early style before he started exploring various types of world musics. ~ Scott Yanow








Herbie Mann (flute)
Joe Puma (guitar)
Whitey Mitchell (bass)
Keith Hodgson (bass)
Lee Rockey (drums)
Herb Wasserman (drums)

1. Chicken Little
2. Cuban Love Song
3. The Things We Did Last Summer
4. Deep Night
5. Between the Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
6. After Work
7. Moon Dreams
8. A Spring Morning
9. Scuffles
10. The Purple Grotto
11. My Little Suede Shoes
12. A Spring Morning
13. The Purple Grotto
14. Chicken Little

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Herbie Nichols - Herbie Nichols Trio (TOCJ)

The Deluxophonic Japantastic TOCJ version. In MonoSonic RetroSound©

"...anyone who plays or even contemplates playing a song of Herbie's is making this planet a better place. This music teaches many things, but most importantly the sanctity of our minds and imaginations - the Third World that lives in each of us." ~ Roswell Rudd

One of jazz's most tragically overlooked geniuses, Herbie Nichols was a highly original piano stylist and a composer of tremendous imagination and eclecticism. He wasn't known widely enough to exert much influence in either department, but his music eventually attracted a rabid cult following, though not quite the wide exposure it deserved.

Nichols was born January 3, 1919, in New York and began playing piano at age nine, later studying at C.C.N.Y. After serving in World War II, Nichols played with a number of different groups and was in on the ground floor of the bebop scene. However, to pay the bills he later focused on Dixieland ensembles; his own music -- a blend of Dixieland, swing, West Indian folk, Monk-like angularity, European classical harmonies via Satie and Bartók, and unorthodox structures -- was simply too unclassifiable and complex to make much sense to jazz audiences of the time. Mary Lou Williams was the first to record a Nichols composition -- "Stennell," retitled "Opus Z," in 1951; yet aside from the song he wrote for Billie Holiday, "Lady Sings the Blues," none of Nichols' work got enough attention to really catch on.

He signed with Blue Note and recorded three brilliant piano trio albums from 1955-1956, adding another one for Bethlehem in late 1957. Nichols languished in obscurity after those sessions, though; sadly, just when he was beginning to find a following among several of the new thing's adventurous, up-and-coming stars, he was stricken with leukemia and died on April 12, 1963. In the years that followed, Nichols became a favorite composer in avant-garde circles, with tributes to his sorely neglected legacy coming from artists like Misha Mengelberg and Roswell Rudd. He also inspired a repertory group, called the Herbie Nichols Project, and most of his recordings were reissued on CD. ~ Steve Huey


Herbie Nichols (piano)
Al McKibbon (bass)
Teddy Kotick (bass)
Max Roach (drums)

1. The Gig
2. House Party Starting
3. Chit-Chatting
4. Lady Sings the Blues
5. Terpsichore
6. Spinning Song
7. Query
8. Wildflower
9. Hangover Triangle
10. Mine

VIDEO: Shostakovich Quartets

A very nice performance of the Shostakovich Quartets Nos. 2, 4, and 7 by Le Quatuor Debussy, at Grenoble, France, in 2006. Links available for the video or the three audio tracks in LAME vbr0.
Le Quatuor Debussy - Grenoble 2006
Christophe Collette - violin
Anne Ménier - violin
Vincent Deprecq - alto
Alain Brunier - violincelle

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gene Harris and the Phiip Morris Superband - Live at Town Hall, NYC (1989)

One look at the personnel and I'm sure you will agree that this was indeed a "Superband". Among the many highlights, as well as those noted in the following review, are Ray Brown's bowed bass solo on the "Porgy and Bess Medley", whose tone and intonation in the upper register made me at first think this was done on cello, and Gary Smulyan's stop-time chorus on "Old Man River". Smulyan shows that he's in the same league as Pepper Adams, Nick Brignola and Ronnie Cuber.

This CD documents one of the first concerts by Gene Harris' star-studded big band, an orchestra heard at the beginning of an 80-day world tour. Unlike his earlier big band Basie tribute album, Harris is not the only musician to get significant solo space on this set although, due to the overflowing lineup, not enough is heard from everyone. The straightforward arrangements (by John Clayton, Frank Wess, Torrie Zito, Bob Pronk and Lex Jasper) balance swingers with ballads. Among the more memorable tracks are Harry "Sweets" Edison's feature (both muted and open) on "Sleepy Time Down South," a pair of fine vocals apiece by Ernie Andrews and Ernestine Anderson, the roaring "Old Man River" and Harris' interpretation of Erroll Garner's ballad "Creme de Menthe." Toss in short solos from the likes of Ralph Moore, James Morrison (on trombone), Frank Wess, Michael Mossman and baritonist Gary Smulyan and the result is a satisfying, swinging and fairly fresh big band date. - Scott Yanow

Joe Mosello, Michael Philip Mossman, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Johnny Coles (trumpet)
Urbie Green, James Morrison, Eddie Bert, Paul Faulise (trombone)
Jerry Dodgion, Frank Wess, James Moody, Ralph Moore, Gary Smulyan (reeds)
Gene Harris (piano)
Herb Ellis (guitar)
Ray Brown (bass)
Jeff Hamilton (drums)
Ernie Andrews, Ernestine Anderson (vocals)
  1. The Surrey With the Fringe on Top
  2. Creme de Menthe
  3. When It's Sleepy Time Down South
  4. Love Is Here to Stay
  5. I'm Just a Lucky So and So
  6. Serious Grease
  7. Like a Lover
  8. Old Man River
  9. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans
  10. Porgy and Bess Medley: Strawberry Woman/I Loves You Porgy/It Ain't Necessarily So
  11. You're My Everything
  12. There Is No Greater Love
  13. Things Ain't What They Used to Be
Recorded September 23, 1989

Monday, February 23, 2009

Michael Gregory Jackson - Clarity

Clarity is one of the most interesting titles in guitarist Michael Gregory Jackson's sparse catalog. Jackson had initially played in alto saxophonist Oliver Lake's band in the early seventies and hung around the loft scene initiated at Sam River's Studio Rivbea in New York. On his first date as a leader, he employs Lake and trumpeter Leo Smith who both double on an assortment of instruments, along with tenor saxophonist David Murray on one of his earliest dates. Jackson's relatively conventional electric and acoustic guitar style works in tandem with electric mandolin, bamboo flute, timpani marimba, percussion, and vocals (on the title cut only.) Clarity utilizes space and percussion similar to like-minded AACM (or, for that matter, BAG) dates of the time. With the combined participants and ESP banner, you would expect this to be an intense avant-garde summit meeting, but it rarely reaches that level of intensity, with the exception of Clarity(4) instigated by the presence of Murray's Ayler-like screeches. ~ Al Campbell

Formerly known as Michael Gregory Jackson, Jackson was an ambitious guitarist who was recording with some of the more experimental, ambitious modern jazz players in the late '70s and early '80s. As an acoustic and electric stylist, he was interested not only in comping behind singers and doing conventional single-line solos, but in sounds, rhythms, and textures. Then he shifted gears and began doing fusion and R&B. ~ Ron Wynn

Michael Gregory Jackson (guitar, flute, mandolin, percussion)
Oliver Lake (flute, soprano and alto sax)
Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet, flugelhorn, soprano trumpet)
David Murray (tenor sax)

1. Clarity
2. A View of This Life
3. Oliver Lake
4. Prelueoionti
5. Ballad
6. Clarity 4
7. Ab Bb 1-7-3
8. Iomi

Lee Konitz-Oleo' sonet 1975 LP rip

Another favourite ..aren't they all?, AMG gives this short shrift.. i love it and think its great.
ive always enjoyed Dick Katz's playing .. theres nothing rote about his or any of the playing here.. harmonically Katz surprises.

AMG sites this as being available on cd .. but there is no evidence that it has been reissued.. im not certain but i think they have that wrong! ive searched and found nothing.
Review by Scott Yanow
"The strong interplay between Lee Konitz (who doubles here on alto and soprano), pianist Dick Katz and bassist Wilbur Little is the main reason to search for this Sonet LP. Together they perform eight standards including "I Want a Little Girl," "Oleo," "St. Thomas" and "There Is No Greater Love." In general the improvisations are quite relaxed and thoughtful and, although the results are not all that essential (since there are a lot of Lee Konitz recordings currently available), the altoist's fans will find much to enjoy during these fine performances.'

enjoy!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Steve Lacy - The Forest And The Zoo

According to the liner notes of this new edition, Steve Lacy walked into the ESP-Disk offices in New York in 1966 and offered to sell Bernard Stollman a tape of a concert he had recorded with his quartet during a concert in Argentina (where they had been stranded). That band was truly an international one: Lacy and Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava made up the front line, and the rhythm section included South African expats Johnny Dyani on bass and drummer Louis Moholo -- who had both been members of the Blue Notes and the Brotherhood of Breath with Chris McGregor. Engineer Ken Robertson brought the tape back to Stollman in 1992, claiming the entire album had been recorded out of phase. This makes sense given the lags on the original. The remastered and reissued CD version issued in 2008 claims to have fixed that problem. It hardly matters. The musical interaction that takes place over 40 minutes here is compelling, fraught with openness and the willingness to explore the margins. Unlike a lot of the other "new thing" recordings made at the time, the focus here is unusually rich, expressive, colorful, and easy on the ears -- though it may not have been at the time. Lacy, who came up playing in Dixieland groups before he heard Thelonious Monk, had been increasingly influenced by the music of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and Albert Ayler. His own exploration of his chosen instrument, the soprano saxophone, is all evident here in the manner in which he is considering new tonal, textural, and color possibilities as a soloist and as a functioning member of an ensemble. This is white-hot musical invention -- it meanders, swoops, soars, digs in its heels, and above all offers a staggering kind of communication between four players who took nothing for granted and knew that everything was up for grabs. Even at this early stage of Lacy and company's investigation of free and improvised music, there is a healthy melodicism, rich counterpoint exchanges between Lacy and Rava, and a wildly expansive rhythmic palette employed by Dyani and Moholo. This is not normally considered an essential part of Lacy's very large catalog, but in the 21st century it does deserve to be heartily and critically reexamined. The cover painting by the late artist Bob Thompson makes the set worth owning simply for its beauty. ~ Mme. Thom Jurek

Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Enrico Rava (trumpet)
Johnny Dyani (bass)
Louis Moholo (drums)

1. Forest
2. Zoo

Buenos Aires: October 8, 1966

Helen Humes - 1945-1947 (Chronological 1036)

This second installment in the excellent Classics Helen Humes chronology covers the exciting material she recorded for the Philo (soon to become Aladdin), Black & White, and Mercury labels, first with her All-Stars in Los Angeles during 1945-1946 and then with Buck Clayton's band in New York in 1946 and 1947. Alternating between ballads, blues, and boogie-woogie, the singer exudes a wonderful passionate glow that sometimes borders on the sensual. The front lines of her West Coast bands were richly staffed with excellent players in trumpeter Snooky Young and saxophonists Willie Smith, Tom Archia, Corky Corcoran, Maxwell Davis, Wild Bill Moore, and -- fresh out of the Army -- Lester Young! Dig his beautiful solo on "Pleasing Man Blues." Note also the presence of some of the top rhythm section men in the Los Angeles area at that time: guitarists Allan Reuss, Dave Barbour, and Irving Ashby; bassist Red Callender; drummers Chico Hamilton and Henry Tucker Green; and pianists Arnold Ross, Eddie Beal, and the great Meade "Lux" Lewis, who adds a little mustard to the singer's sequel to her earlier hit record, "Be-Baba-Leba." Over on the East Coast, the Buck Clayton-led ensembles had equally strong support in tenor saxophonist John Hardee (his velvety introduction to "Blue and Sentimental" is nothing less than a tribute to Herschel Evans), pianists Ram Ramirez and Teddy Wilson, and the winning Kansas City combination of bassist Walter Page and drummer Jo Jones. Is this the best of Helen Humes? Pretty close to it; she's in the prime of her early maturity and the musicians are uniformly excellent. ~ arwulf arwulf


Helen Humes (vocals)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Buck Clayton (trumpet)
John Hardee (tenor sax)
Snooky Young (trumpet)
Mundell Lowe (guitar)
Meade Lux Lewis (piano)
Red Callender (bass)
Denzil Best (drums)
Chico Hamilton (drums)
Others


1. Voo-It
2. Did You Ever Love A Man
3. Central Avenue Boogie
4. Please Let Me Forget
5. He Don't Love Me Anymore
6. Pleasing Man Blues
7. It's Better To Give Than To Receive
8. See See Rider
9. Be Ba Ba Le Ba Boogie
10. Married Man Blues
11. Be-Bop Bounce
12. If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)
13. I Don't Know His Name
14. Drive Me Daddy
15. Jet Propelled Papa
16. Blue And Sentimental
17. I Just Refuse To Sing The Blues
18. They Raided The Joint
19. Mad About You
20. Jumpin' On Sugar Hill
21. Flippity Flop Flop
22. Today I Sing the Blues

Pierce, Chaloff, Mariano-Boston bust out (1948-51) LP rip



















A great little snapshot of the late 40's modern jazz scene in Boston .
I've been listening to this quite a bit after having recently checked out some great live material(released under Chaloffs name) of the same vintage with some of the same players.
The material on this lp was mastered from worn acetates ..so there is surface noise.
this is ripped from the LP Hep 013 , not the reissued expanded cd reviewed by Yanow below.

"Boston had a strong but greatly under publicized bop scene in the late '40s. This Hep CD, which adds a previously unreleased session plus one extra cut to the original LP, features pianist/arranger Nat Pierce, altoist Charlie Mariano and trombonist Sonny Truitt both in big bands and combos. The other personnel is mostly pretty obscure although baritone great Serge Chaloff is showcased on two numbers and there are three fairly straight vocals by Teddi King. The rare studio recordings range in influences from Dizzy Gillespie to Claude Thornhill and the Miles Davis Nonet; highly recommended for bop collectors. "

click on the back cover image for details.
the groups are
Ray Borden's big band
The Charlie Mariano sextet
the Nat Pierce Orchestra
and last but not least two great tracks by the S.Chaloff-R.Burns -septet

Kenny Dorham - Blues In Bebop

For an "underrated" player, every note, it seems, that KD ever played has been released in a dozen formats, and almost all his work is in print. This is an excellent and less than familiar compilation in the fine Savoy Jazz Originals series: others that have been previously posted here are the Art Pepper Discovery Sessions, the Cannonball Spirit Of '55, the Wilbur Harden and the Bill Barron; all excellent. These are also released by the Denon configuration of Savoy, so the sound is consistently fine.

I don't know what Yanow is thinking, sometimes. "one wonders who the disc is aimed at, particularly since Dorham's most significant work was made a little later on for Blue Note."
Well, the Savoy company can hardly be expected to release those. That is, I suspect, also the reason we haven't seen a Dorham Chronological series.


Kenny Dorham was a solid and forward-thinking modernist when he emerged in the mid-to-late 1940s. The trumpeter was overshadowed throughout his career by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard, and became the epitome of the word "underrated." Dorham never recorded as a leader for Savoy other than co-leading the Be Bop Boys with altoist Sonny Stitt, so this single CD is just a sampling of his sideman appearances. Definitely not for completists since all but the Bebop Boys date issued here are incomplete, one wonders who the disc is aimed at, particularly since Dorham's most significant work was made a little later on for Blue Note. The trumpeter is heard with the Billy Eckstine Orchestra playing "The Jitney Man"; performing eight numbers (plus two alternate takes) with the Be Bop Boys (a quintet also including altoist Stitt and pianist Bud Powell); on three songs with a band headed by vibraphonist Milt Jackson and including the pioneer jazz French horn player Julius Watkins; on three tunes from a February 12, 1949 broadcast by the Charlie Parker Quintet (and available in much more complete form elsewhere); and on four of the selections from a 1956 album by baritonist Cecil Payne. The bop and hard bop music heard throughout this CD is consistently enjoyable, but the reissue is a bit of a frivolity. The Be Bop Boys date should have been coupled with some other unrelated all-star sessions instead, with the other Dorham sideman dates being reissued in full in more logical sets. ~ Scott Yanow


Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Bud Powell (piano)
Charlie Parker (alto sax)
Sonny Stitt (alto sax)
Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Billy Mitchell (tenor sax)
Al Haig (piano)
Milt Jackson (piano, vibes)
Duke Jordan (piano)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Max Roach (drums)
Others

1. The Jitney Man
2. Bebop In Pastel
3. Fool's Fancy
4. Bombay
5. Ray's Idea
6. Serenade To A Square
7. Good Kick
8. Seven Up
9. Blues In Bebop
10. Bebop In Pastel (take 2)
11. Bebop In Pastel (take 4)
12. Conglomeration
13. Bruz
14. Roll 'Em, Bags
15. Scrapple From The Apple
16. Barbados
17. Be Bop
18. Saucer Eyes
19. Man of Moods
20. Bringing Up Father
21. Groovin' High

Saturday, February 21, 2009

John Coltrane - Coltrane Time

This is actually a Cecil Taylor date which has appeared here before under it's original title, Hard Driving Jazz. It was a United Artists release, and was also a Taylor/Tom Wilson collaboration. Wilson, who is the same one you'll know from Dylan and Zappa, started a small label named Transition while he was a student at Harvard, and one of his first artists was Cecil Taylor. Blue Note later bought the catalog and has been releasing, for example, Jazz Advance ever since.

As with just about everything Coltrane appeared on as a journeyman session player, this is re-released under his name. But considering that 1958 was a year of one classic Coltrane performance after another, this is welcome no matter who the nominal leader may be. Kenny Dorham too?

"This session with Coltrane and Dorham has, rather surprisingly, been rare on CD. Though it is hardly an epochal encounter, with both Taylor and Coltrane basically playing hard bop in a temperate context, it's an intriguing listen." ~ Penguin Guide

This is a most unusual CD due to the inclusion of Cecil Taylor on piano. Although Taylor and John Coltrane got along well, trumpeter Kenny Dorham (who is also on this quintet date) hated the avant-garde pianist's playing and was clearly bothered by Taylor's dissonant comping behind his solos. With bassist Chuck Israels and drummer Louis Hayes doing their best to ignore the discord, the group manages to perform two blues and two standards with Dorham playing strictly bop, Taylor coming up with fairly free abstractions and Coltrane sounding somewhere in between. The results are unintentionally fascinating. ~ Scott Yanow

John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Cecil Taylor (piano)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Chuck Israels (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)

1. Shifting Down
2. Just Friends
3. Like Someone In Love
4. Double Clutching

New York: October 13, 1958

Arnett Cobb - The Wild Man from Texas (1947-1952)

Arnett Cobb was part of a long line of hard blowing "texas tenors" that included Herschel Evans, Illinois Jacquet, Budd Johnson, Booker Ervin, David "Fathead" Newman, Don Wilkerson, King Curtis and others. While with Milt Larkin's band, Cobb was offered a job with Lionel Hampton's big band in 1942 he turned him down and the nod went to another member of Larkin's band who was playing alto - Illinois Jacquet, who switched to tenor for the gig. Later that year Jacquet left to join Cab Calloway and Cobb took his spot. Playing in Hampton's band made him a star and after five years he left to form his own group in 1947.

This compilation from Proper presents Arnett Cobb during the time he left Lionel Hampton in 1947 through 1952. Cobb could honk and squeal with the best of them but he was much more than that. Most of the music on this CD is what made Cobb popular, blues based swing with a hint of R&B, but he also shows that he was a great ballad player on "I'm in the Mood for Love" and "Someone to Watch Over Me".

Arnett Cobb (tenor sax)
Dave Page, Willie Moore, Ed Lewis (trumpet)
Al King, Booty Wood, Dick Harris (trombone)
Willard Brown, Charlie Ferguson (tenor, baritone sax)
Charlie Fowlkes, Johnny Griffin (baritone sax)
George Rhodes (piano)
Walter Buchanan, Gene Wright (bass)
George Jones, Butch Ballard, Al Walker (drums)
Milt Larkin (vocals on 11, 14, 15)
  1. Walkin' With Sid
  2. Still Flying
  3. Cobb's Idea
  4. Top Flight
  5. When I Grow Too Old to Dream
  6. Cobb's Boogie
  7. Cobb's Corner
  8. Dutch Kitchen Bounce
  9. Go, Red, Go
  10. Pay It No Mind
  11. Chick She Ain't Nowhere
  12. Arnett Blows for 1300
  13. Running With Ray
  14. Flower Garden Blues
  15. Big League Blues
  16. Smooth Sailing
  17. Walkin' Home
  18. I'm in the Mood for Love
  19. Whispering
  20. Open House
  21. Li'l Sonny
  22. The Shy One
  23. Jumpin' the Blues
  24. Someone to Watch Over Me

Walter Davis - Davis Cup (TOCJ)

Japanophonic DoubleSonic with Groovy-Beat© technology.

Walter Davis, Jr.'s debut record as a leader for Blue Note is a terrific hard bop session, a driving collection of six original tunes that emphasize the strengths not only of the pianist himself, but also his supporting band: trumpeter Donald Byrd, alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Art Taylor. Apart from the lovely ballad "Sweetness," Davis Cup moves along at a brisk pace, with the rhythm section urging the soloists to new heights. Byrd has rarely sounded better, and on this date McLean provides ample evidence that he was moving beyond the conventions of hard bop and developing his own unique style. Davis, of course, does more than acquit himself -- he contributes an engaging, energetic performance that keeps the music grounded. His compositions are just as captivating, whether it's the swinging "Rhumba Nhumba" or the darkly invigorating "Minor Mind." It all adds up to a wonderful straight-ahead hard bop date, one that's so good it's a wonder that Davis didn't receive another chance to lead a session until 1979. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Jazz pianist Walter Davis Jr. is one of those solid, dependable accompanists--for Art Blakey, Jackie McLean, Max Roach, and others--whose worth sometimes gets taken for granted. Davis Cup, Davis's debut as a leader, was originally released in 1959 and remains a hard-bop fan's delight. Davis's style is a nigh on perfect synthesis of the mercurial bebop of Bud Powell and the thoughtful cool of Thelonious Monk. With a group that's quintessentially Blue Note (Jackie McLean, pre-funk Donald Byrd, Art Taylor, and Sam Jones) and a program of earnestly swinging originals, Davis's cup surely runneth over in the best possible way.

A perfect session in the hard-as-iron frontline style that was Blue Note's stock in trade during the late 50s. Take 3 fantastic young players: Davis, Jackie McLean, and Donald Byrd; Give them a tight soulful rhythm backing: Sam Jones and Art Taylor; and you've got the formula for one heck of a nice little record. Davis rarely gets the chance to shine in the frontline -- and it's a treat to hear him leading a full group instead of a trio, especially because the horns of Byrd and McLean drive him into nice little moments that break past his usual style. Titles include "'S Make It", "Rhumba Nhumba", "Minor Mind", and "Millie's Delight"


Walter Davis, Jr. (piano)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Sam Jones (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. 'S Make It
2. Loodle-Lot
3. Sweetness
4. Rhumba Nhumba
5. Minor Mind
6. Millie's Delight

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: August 2, 1959

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ray Anderson - What Because (1989)

Thanks to Rab for the introductions to Ray Anderson and Mark Dresser. According to Amazon, most of Ray Anderson's listed output has been "discontinued by the manufacturer." What a shame. But most is still available new or used from that site and elsewhere. It's been awhile since I've had this much musical fun.

If you don't like Ray Anderson, then you probably just don't like trombone players in general, for there's not a more engaging trombonist in jazz -- certainly not one who communicates greater love for life. He invests so much genuine good humor and enthusiasm in every note he plays. And that's to say nothing of his extraordinary chops and imagination, and his wonderful compositional ability. Anderson's got the total package. He plays "in" every bit as strongly as he does "out"; for Anderson, there seems to be no separation between the two. This album, with guitarist Allan Jaffe, pianist John Hicks, bassist Mark Dresser, and drummer Pheeroan akLaff, is quintessential Anderson, from the funky, goofy intelligence of "Alligatory Crocodile," to the theremin-like expressivity of his playing on the ballad "Let's Fall in Love," and the noirish formal complexities of "Off Peak." It's a marvelous album, one that, when all the musical politics get sorted out (who knows when that will be), should take its place as one of the very finest works of the last decade. ~ Chris Kelsey


1. Alligatory Crocodile
2. Let's Fall In Love
3. The Warm Up
4. Intro.
5. I'm Just A Lucky So-And-So
6. What Because
7. Off Peak
8. Raven-a-ning
9. Waltz For Phoebe

Django Bates - Autumn Fires (and Green Shoots) (1994)



English pianist Django Bates has a crazy sense of humor, the ability to use dissonance and noise as a logical part of his music, and a fresh approach to group playing. On this CD, a solo piano outing, he is more subtle than on his group albums and the music takes a little while to cut loose. Bates plays with great reverence on "Solitude," tears conventionally into "Giant Steps," and does a close imitation of Keith Jarrett on "Hollyhock." However, Bates' unusual take on the world eventually comes to the surface on the overcrowded "Rat King" and a wonderfully titled piece called "The Loneliness of Being Right." He often displays a classical technique that is bent a bit to his purposes and, although his previous JMT group recording (Summer Fruits) is
recommended first, this solo set rewards repeated listenings. Scott Yanow

Tracks:
1- Autumn leaves (autumn fires)
2- Sweetie
3- Jetty
4- Ralf's trip
5- Is there anyone up there?
6- Hollyhocks
7- Solitude
8- The loneliness of being right
9- Rat king
10- Dufy
11- Giant steps
12- Calm farm (for Paddy)
13- Infinity in a twinkling

Frode Gjerstad and Lasse Marhaug - Red Edge


“In music it's possible that two worlds collapse. It does not happen that often, but in this case when Frode Gjerstad and Lasse Marhaug met, jazz and noise got connected. Lasse Marhaug is one of Norway's most known artists from the experimental scene, whereas Frode Gjerstad has played free jazz for over 40 years. The reslt of this uncommon collaboration is high peeping free-improv sax outbursts on top of electronic noise layers. A mixture that is quite inaccessible for many people. Things get calmer after an extreme hectic opening, leaving some place for atmosphere. Even some smooth moments can be enjoyed, though never entirely relaxing, due to the improv characteristic and the frequency of the sound. An interesting and original output, tough difficult to digest.” ~ Phosphor Magazine

Frode Gjerstad (alto sax)
Lasse Marhaug (electronics)

1. A Dry Well
2. Red Edge
3. Falling Down
4. The First Rule

The Kenny Drew Trio (20Bit K2)

Kenny Drew brings a pure bop angularity to this 1956 session, with driving single-note lines that clamber over one another to get at a new rhythmic detail, along with splashing chords that find the joy in the blues. He's joined by a rhythm section that virtually defined the mid-1950s ethos: bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones, Miles Davis regulars and a frequent tandem on sessions of the day. Chambers provides his own significant solo input as well as superb bass lines, while Jones adds untold vitality here, furiously knitting a polyrhythmic backdrop that seems to collide and expand on Drew's lines at every point of contact. No pianist could ask for more (though some might ask for less), and it's apparent why Jones was a favorite of pianists from Bill Evans to Elmo Hope. Drew's boppish, Powell-inspired playing shines on Ellington's "Caravan," while he's close to the essence of Monk on "Ruby, My Dear." It's a classic session by a pianist whose long European residence meant that he was unjustly neglected at home. --Stuart Broomer

Kenny Drew (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)

1. Caravan
2. Come Rain Or Come Shine
3. Ruby, My Dear
4. Weird-O
5. Taking A Chance On Love
6. When You Wish Upon A Star
7. Blues For Nica
8. It's Only A Paper Moon

New York, September 20 and 26, 1956

Lonnie Smith - Live at Club Mozambique (1970)

Recorded on May 21, 1970, at Detroit's Club Mozambique, this was shelved and remained unreleased until it was retrieved for CD issue in 1995. It's odd that Blue Note decided to sit on it for so long, because it ranks as one of Lonnie's better sets. The band, featuring George Benson on guitar, is relaxed and funky without being in your face about it, and unlike much soul-jazz of the time, most of the material is original, Smith having penned six of the eight numbers. Although the riffs often owe a lot to James Brown, this is definitely at least as much jazz as soul, with Lonnie taking a rare vocal turn on "Peace of Mind." - Richie Unterberger

While most of the album is on the funky side, "Expressions" and "Seven Steps to Heaven" are uptempo straight-ahead jazz.





Dave Hubbard (tenor sax)
Ronnie Cuber (baritone sax)
Lonnie Smith (organ)
George Benson (guitar)
Joe Dukes (drums)
Gary Jones (congas)
Clifford Mack (tambourine)
  1. I Can't Stand It
  2. Expressions
  3. Scream
  4. Play It Back
  5. Love Bowl
  6. Peace of Mind
  7. I Want to Thank You
  8. Seven Steps to Heaven

The Clifton Chenier Band - Cajun Swamp Music Live FLAC




Zydeco (French: "les haricots", English: "snap beans") is a form of American roots or folk music, that evolved from the jure during the late 1800s call and response vocal music of the black and multiracial French-speaking Creoles of south and southwest Louisiana.
Usually fast-tempo, and dominated by the button or piano accordion and a form of a washboard known as a rub-board or frottoir, zydeco music was originally created at house dances where the blacks and free people of color of south Louisiana would gather for socializing.
As the Creoles further established their communities and worshiped separately as well, the music moved to the Catholic church community center and then later to the rural dance halls and nightclubs. As a result, the music integrated waltzes, shuffles, two-steps, blues, rock and roll, and most dance music forms of the era.
Wikipedia



By the time this album came out, Chenier & His Red Hot Louisiana Band were beginning to receive the kind of widespread acclaim they so much deserved. They had already built a firm reputation on the heels of several fine Arhoolie-released records and countless hours on the road. Now, Cajun Swamp Music Live finds Chenier and company taking their juicy act beyond the Gulf Coast circuit to the main stage at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Taped in the late '70s, the 18 choice cuts feature the band repaying the adoration of a charged crowed with a non-stop run of inspired performances. Mixing in his standard variety of zydeco and blues-fueled vocals and instrumentals, Chenier wows the Swiss patrons with both his fine accordion workouts and wry in-between-song banter (he alternates between English and Cajun French for the mostly French-speaking audience). Also including top-drawer contributions from his band — including brother Cleveland Chenier on rubboard, Robert Pet on drums, and Paul Senegal on guitar — Cajun Swamp Music Live is an album all Chenier fans will definitely want to pick up.
Stephen Cook




01 Tu Es Si Jolie 4:28
02 No Salt in Your Snapbeans (Les Haricots Ne Sont Pas Sales) 4:57
03 You're Just Fussing Too Much 5:22
04 Pinetop's Boogie Woogie 4:01
05 Marcher Plancher 3:32
06 Here Little Girl 3:39
07 Release Me 4:14
08 Jambalaya 3:51
09 I'm a Hog for You 5:43
10 Louisiana Two-Step 4:12
11 When You Going to Sing for Me? 4:47
12 Who Who Who? 3:25
13 You Promised Me Love 4:55
14 Black Girl 2:52
15 Money 3:15
16 Hush, Hush 4:05
17 Calinda 3:29
18 Duo (Encore) 3:52





Clifton Chenier Accordion, Vocals
Cleveland Chenier Rubboard
Robert Peter Drums
Joe Brouchet Bass
Paul Senegal Guitar

Bud Shank - 1962-65 Bossa Nova Years



This double CD includes the complete albums "Bud Shank & Clare Fischer - Bossa Nova Jazz Samba" and "Bud Shank - Bud Shank and his Brazilian Friends", plus 8 from the 10 songs from the album "Bud Shank, Clare Fischer & Joe Pass - Brasamba!" and 2 songs from "Sergio Mendes Trio - Brasil '65"


Sax and flute man Bud Shank was every bit as involved in the blossoming of Bossa Nova during the early 1960s as was Stan Getz. Released in 2000, Ubatuqui's 28 track retrospective "Bossa Nova Years" draws upon four albums recorded and released between 1962 and 1965. Most of the material comes from the Pacific Jazz/World Pacific catalogue, and was originally released on the LPs "Bossa Nova Jazz Samba", "Brasamba! Bossa Nova" and "Bud Shank and his Brazilian Friends". A couple of tunes were pulled from the Capitol Sergio Mendes album "Brasil ‘65", a project that was greatly enhanced by the presence of Bud Shank, a cool character whose laid back sensibilities made him a natural for Bossa Nova. This music may serve as the perfect soundtrack for cruising, carousing, lounging, swimming, sunbathing, smoking, playing cribbage, drinking exotic chilled beverages and pigging out on fresh fruit and spicy entrees. Or you might want to just lay there and groove to it.
Arwulf Arwulf, AMG


CD1
01 If I Should Lose You 2:57
02 Illusao 3:21
03 Sausalito 3:49
04 Otem a Note 4:02
05 Pensativa 3:28
06 Silk Stop 2:38
07 Sambinha 3:37
08 Caminho de Casa 3:19
09 Serenidade 2:19
10 Joao 3:53
11 Aquarius 2:24
12 Samba Da Borboleta 3:32
13 Samba Do Aviao 3:02
14 Gostoso 3:53


CD2
01 Um Abraco No Bonfa 3:12
02 Autumn Leaves 4:00
03 Minha Saudade 3:02
04 Elizete 4:13
05 Misty 2:38
06 Tristesa Em Mim 3:16
07 Que Mais? 3:56
08 It Was Night 3:08
09 Samba Guapo 4:20
10 Ela E Carioca 3:25
11 Sambou...Sambou 3:10
12 Wistful Samba 4:15
13 O' Barquinho 3:22
14 Once I Loved 4:07

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Henry Threadgill



Henry Threadgill - Where's Your Cup?

Even though Henry Threadgill is often considered "difficult to listen to," most blindfolded listeners would probably find themselves identifying any randomly selected 20-second segment of Where's Your Cup as something a little more mainstream. It wouldn't be unreasonable, for example, to hear Brandon Ross on "The Flew" and ask "Might this be a snot-raunchy John McLaughlin electric guitar solo?" with a good bit of confidence. Someone else may smile smugly and say, "I don't suppose this is from the soundtrack of an especially eerie David Lynch film, perhaps Blue Velvet, or an old episode of Twin Peaks maybe?" when Threadgill's alto sax groove kicks off "100 Year Old Game." Such is the elusiveness of Threadgill's a-bit-of-everything approach to modern jazz, a style-collage sound he achieves here with a lot of help from his band, Make a Move. A majority of the tracks here are over eight minutes long, with a lot of room for soloists to stretch out. Ross can sound like two slabs of grinding sheet metal on one song, and softly strum a flamenco-tinged acoustic guitar behind Threadgill's flute on the next. Alternating between accordion and harmonium, Tony Cedras recalls everything from a Sunday hymn to your local seventh-inning stretch organ grinder. But give the credit of assembling these varied and sundry elements into a consistent product to Threadgill. Where's My Cup (sic) has its highly organized moments as well, which possess the same spaced-out mysteriousness as all the clamoring jam-out uproar. ~ John Uhl

The only rules that new jazz saxophonist and composer Henry Threadgill plays by are his own. So if he wants a band to include an accordion and harmonium, a guitarist who alternates between raucous rock and delicate classical styles, and an electric five-string bass, that's precisely what he gets with Henry Threadgill & Make a Move. Thanks to the sureness of his imaginative writing, Threadgill makes the outre sound of Where's Your Cup? practically inevitable. ~ Steve Futterman


Henry Threadgill (flute, alto sax)
Tony Cedras (accordion, harmonium)
Brandon Ross (guitar)
J.T. Lewis (drums)

1. 100 Year Old Game
2. Laughing Club
3. Where's Your Cup?
4. And This
5. Feels Like It
6. The Flew
7. Go To Far


Henry Threadgill - Spirit Of Nuff...Nuff

Threadgill's Very Very Circus appears to be the culmination of a cycle in his work. Spirit Of Nuff...Nuff (his titles are nothing if not enigmatic) deploys the band in a way that recalls '60s experiments with structures and free improvisation, but with far more discipline. Threadgill's writing has been quite muted in emotional timbre; 'Unrealistic Love', in which Threadgill's solo is announced by a long guitar passage, is typical. The arrangements on 'First Church Of This' (on which he plays flute) and 'Driving You Slow And Crazy' (which opens with a fractured chorale from the brasses) are consistently inventive, but it's increasingly clear that Threadgill, like Anthony Braxton, has now almost reached the limits of what he can do with more or less conventional instrumentation. It will be interesting to see whether he is able to develop a new instrumental idiom or whether he will choose - or be forced - to remain within the conventions. ~ Penguin Guide

After trailblazing stints with the avant-garde jazz trio Air in the '70s and his seven-piece sextet in the '80s, Henry Threadgill changes direction once again with a two tuba, two guitar, trombone, and drums outfit he calls Very Very Circus. Threadgill's layered, idiosyncratic compositions still abound, but as one would expect from a front line like this, the sound is darker and more dense than on prior releases. The new approach is especially evident in the thick mix of reverb-riddled guitar notes, rumbling tuba phrases, and march rhythms heard on numbers like "Drivin' You Slow and Crazy," "Bee Dee Aff," and "Unrealistic Love." Threadgill does lighten the tone, though, by including the Calypso-inspired number "Hope a Hope A" and intricately buoyant themes like "Exacto" and "In the Ring." Standout contributions include Masujaa's mercurial guitar solo on "Unrealistic Love," Threadgill's haunting flute work on "First Church of This," and drummer Gene Lake's supple and tight rhythmic support throughout. Another excellent title from one of jazz's most progressive and original artists. ~ Stephen Cook


Henry Threadgill (flute, alto sax)
Edwin Rodriguez (tuba)
Curtis Fowlkes (trombone)
Masujaa (guitar)
Marcus Rojas (tuba)
Brandon Ross (guitar)
Gene Lake (drums)


1. Hope A Hope A
2. Unrealistic Love
3. Drivin' You Slow And Crazy
4. Bee Dee Aff
5. First Church Of This
6. Exacto
7. In The Ring

Ahmad Jamal - In Search Of...Momentum (2002)

A guy who Miles Davis called his favorite piano player, Ahmad Jamal has always earned respect among other musicians and critics for his consistent and innovative five-decade career, but the general public has never celebrated him. Why is anybody's guess, except that he's never been one for self-promotion; he's always been too busy making music to talk about it much. This trio date, featuring the greatest soul-jazz drummer of all time -- Idris Muhammad -- and bassist James Cammack, is one of the most fiery and inspired of Jamal's career. Kicking it off with "In Search Of," Jamal's more percussive style is in evidence, kicking it with ninths and even elevenths in shifting time signatures in a modern version of something that unites McCoy Tyner's Coltrane period with the barrelhouse. Jamal's trademark dissonances are juxtaposed against his whimsical lyric side in "Should I," a tune he has played live for decades. His right-hand legato phrasing and a near Monk-ish sense of harmony highlight his cascading arpeggios and enormous chord voicings. And harmony is the central motif of this album. Jamal's sense of melodic and harmonic development is under-recognized, even as he has used both Ellington and Oscar Peterson for starting points and built upon them via Monk's engagement with rhythm and "wrong" notes. His chords are unique among jazz pianists in that they can be incorporated wholesale as part of a rhythmic attack or in single- or double-note clusters to swing the tune into its lyric.

As a rhythm section, Muhammad and Cammack are perfectly suited to Jamal because the seemingly teetering shifts in time and pulse are never taken for granted and never merely followed, but executed according to the pianist's penchant for making his compositions swing in a songlike manner. A wonderful surprise here is the vocal of soul singer O.C. Smith on the Jamal/Aziza Miller tune "Whispering." Smith is best known as the singer of the soul hit "Little Green Apples," but his talent is far more diverse than that. Here are traces of Big Joe Williams, Lou Rawls, and Charles Brown caressed by the trio's shimmering accompaniment. His performance is flawless. While Jamal's compositions are the album's high points, there are no dead-dog tracks here at all: A reading of the Frank Loesser nugget "I've Never Been in Love Before" reflects in the trio's playing the vocal stylings of both Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald. Also, Monty Alexander's "You Can See" is reinvented by the Jamal trio and comes off as a splashy, singing number suited for the stage as much as a jazz band. Jamal's ostinato and glissandi theatricality are dramatic but never showy. He punches the melodic invention in his solos and keeps the rhythm section moving, but never overshadows the body of the tune. This is a beautiful offering by one of the true jazz masters of our time. At 72, Jamal is even more of a pianistic enigma than he was as a young man. Highly recommended. - Thom Jurek

Ahmad Jamal (piano)
James Cammack (bass)
Idris Muhammad (drums)
O.C. Smith (vocal on 4)
  1. In Search Of
  2. Should I
  3. Excerpts from I'll Take the 20
  4. Whisperings
  5. Island Fever
  6. I've Never Been in Love Before
  7. Where Are You
  8. Where Are You Now
  9. You Can See
  10. I'll Always Be With You
Recorded August 22-28, 2002

VIDEO: Lettre à Michel Petrucciani

The NON STOP with Michel Petrucciani I posted here was quite popular, so here's a followup. This one is a film by Frank Cassenti made in 1983, so as you can see from the photo, it's about Michel as a youngster, his early days getting into the jazz scene. Unfortunately for you Yanks, the dialogue is in French, but there is plenty of music here too, and appearances with some major jazz musicians, so take a look even if your French is no better than your Greek.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Erik Satie - Airs de Jeux

Erik Satie and Claude Debussy had a complex, mysterious friendship and extraordinary admiration for one another. There are extraordinary parallels in their music; compare the former's Gymnopédies to the latter's Etude No.1, for example. Tony Hymas, an accomplished pianist in both the classical and jazz genres, explores the music of these two "giants of the miniature" on the first disc of this set. Disc two contains Satie's 3 Sarabandes and 6 Gnossiennes, in very inward-looking interpretations by avant-garde jazz pianist Ulrich Gumpert. Disc three features musical meditations and tributes to Satie by seven British musicians known for their genre-bending artistry: Alan Hacker, Steve Beresford, Robert Cornford, David Holland, Phil Wachsmann, Tony Coe, and Lol Coxhill.



Ulrich Gumpert (piano)
Tony Hymas (piano)
Lol Coxhill (saxophone)
Alan Hacker (clarinet)
Steve Beresford (piano)
Robert Cornford (saxophone)
David Holland (piano)
Philipp Wachsmann (violin)
Tony Coe (clarinet)
Ronnie Goodman (percussion)
James Craig (cello)
Saboten (guitar, bass, drums)


CD 1
Sept tableaux phoniques Erik Satie – Collectif
(Réédition)

1- Alan Hacker : Trois « bonbons » de York pour Eric Satie
2- Steve Beresford : Budapest subway
3- Robert Cornford : Welcome
4- David Holland : Moving things from A to B
5- David Holland : Faltz waltz
6- Philip Wachsmann : For memoires of an amnesiac
7- Tony Coe : Allair mets
8- Lol Coxhill : Faction de Satie

CD 2
Ulrich Gumpert : Erik Satie, Sarabandes et Gnossiennes
(Inédit en CD)

1- Première sarabande
2- Deuxième sarabande
3- Troisième sarabande
4- Première gnossienne
5- Deuxième gnossienne
6- Troisième gnossienne
7- Quatrième gnossienne
8- Cinquième gnossienne
9- Sixième gnossienne

CD 3
Tony Hymas : Erik Satie - Claude Debussy, Correspondances
(Inédit)

1- Première gymnopédie (1888)
2- Rêverie (1890)
3- Cinquième gnossienne (1889)
4- Deuxième arabesque (1891)
5- Quatrième gnossienne (1891)
6- Clair de lune (1891)
7- Deux pièces froides – Trois airs à faire fuir (1897)
8- Deux pièces froides – Trois danses de travers (1897)
9- Jardins sous la pluie (1903)
10-16- Trois morceaux en forme de poire (1903)
17- La plus que lente (1910)
18- Chapitres tournés en tous sens 1 – Celle qui parle trop (1913)
19- Chapitres tournés en tous sens 2 – Le porteur de grosses pierres (1913)
20- Chapitres tournés en tous sens 3 – Regret des enfermés - Jonas et Latude (1913)
21- Première étude (1915)
22- Avant-dernières pensées – Idylle (1915)
23- Pièce pour le vêtement du blessé (1915)
24- Elégie (A la mémoire de Claude Debussy) (1920)
25- Troisième gymnopédie (1888)


SF Jazz Collective - SF Jazz Collective 2

I've been meaning to post this (very fine) follow up to the first SFJazz work - when I looked it up I saw that Bacoso had posted the first volume before me, so apologies to him for that. And while I'm on the subject, likewise apologies to alpax, whom I have done the same thing (unwittingly, because I am nothing if not unwitted) several times.


SF Jazz Collective wowed critics and jazz fans alike with their debut offering on Nonesuch. Pared from a triple disc offered on their website to a single CD, it was the first to showcase the group's M.O.: to pick one jazz composer per season, focus on reinterpreting that work for octet, and showcase for the writing of individual members -- one song by each -- and record it all. Their debut, SF Jazz Collective, focused on the tunes of Ornette Coleman and was stellar in every way. The Collective went through some personnel changes in their second season: bassist Robert Hurst was replaced by Matt Penman, drummer Brian Blade by Eric Harland, and trombonist Josh Roseman by Isaac Smith. Returning are pianist Renee Rosnes, saxophonists Miguel Zenón and Joshua Redman (the group's artistic director), trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and the legendary vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. Gil Goldstein returns as arranger and consultant. The liner notes by Bob Blumenthal underscore Goldstein's contribution as a silent ninth member of the group who helps in reshaping the work to fit a larger group setting. In 2005, the focus was on the work of John Coltrane, and like its predecessor, has been trimmed from a double disc -- the original features seven Trane works as opposed to the four included here -- to a single disc. The eight individual compositions -- all present on the double-disc set -- have been honed to four, with pieces by Payton, Redman, Zenón, and Harland. Coltrane's "Moment's Notice," from Blue Trane kicks the recording off. This is a daunting piece for many improvisers in that it sets a new bar for harmonic invention on the fly. Goldstein adds new material to the beginning that introduces even more quickly the juxtaposition of rhythm and melody that gives way to the theme of the tune. Redman's solo stands out, as does Payton's. Next up is the classic, "Naima," from Giant Steps. Perhaps Coltrane's best-known ballad, it stands in sharp opposition to his later style of playin. Bobby Hutcherson gets the nod here and does an utterly beautiful job in the solo, articulating the piece's open chords, quiet dignity, and its understated sentiment. The other two Coltrane tunes are the modal masterpiece "Africa," from the Africa Brass sessions, and the steaming "Crescent," from the album of the same name. Hutcherson and Redman clearly stand out from the pack on the former, while Payton, Smith, and Zenón do on the latter. Redman's "Half Full" features a gorgeous solo by Rosnes as well as a nice flute bit for Zenón. Payton's "Scrambled Eggs" is a furious blower for the trumpet player who engages every member of the group before he closes it breezily. Goldstein's charts are magnificent and full of quizzical moments, and meaty, challenging blowing interplay. In sum, SF Jazz Collective, Vol. 2 offers every bit of the satisfaction that its predecessor does, and despite the changes in personnel, this is a group that truly plays together as a collective, setting them apart from a good number of other ensembles made up of soloists. ~ Madame de Pompajurek


Bobby Hutcherson (marimba, vibraphone)
Renee Rosnes (piano)
Joshua Redman (soprano and tenor sax)
Nicholas Payton (trumpet)
Miguel Zenón (flute, alto sax)
Isaac Smith (trombone)
Matt Penman (bass)
Eric Harland (drums)


1. Moment's Notice
2. Naima
3. Scrambled Eggs
4. Half Full
5. 2 and 2
6. Crescent
7. Africa
8. Development


Sonny Clark - Blues Mambo

Spoiler alert; you may already have this. In a recording career that didn't even last a decade, this was the only studio date Clark did for a label other than Blue Note. While I was in the store trying to remember if this was his session for the Time label (it is) I figured "Better to have a duplicate Sonny Clark than to miss something new." Such is life.

Apparently the copyright for some of these Time sessions (which include some fine releases by Kenny Dorham, Booker Little and others) is open because there are at least four other companies that have released this material. To put this release in context; earlier that year these three backed Stanley Turrentine in his leader date for Time records. The year before, Clark performed four of the tunes here on his Blue Note My Conception album, which was one of only four studio dates from that year: for that matter, 1960 only saw him on two other dates apart from this one.

"... His life was unfortunately quite brief, but Sonny Clark never recorded an unworthy record. This one is well worth picking up." ~ Scott Yanow


Sonny Clark (piano)
George Duvivier (bass)
Max Roach (drums)

1. Minor Meeting
2. Nica
3. Sonny's Crip
4. Blues Mambo
5. Blues Blue
6. Junka
7. My Conception
8. Sonia

New York: March 23, 1960

Katia Labéque - Little Girl Blue (1995)

In contrast to Fantasia Cubana, where Chucho Valdés improvises on classical compositions, we have classical pianist Katia Labéque performing jazz and standards in duets with jazz pianists. Labéque does not improvise but performs arrangements and solo transcriptions.

While Katia Labeque usually can be found shaking up classical houses with her sister Marielle in piano duets, here she finds new partners from the jazz world, tackling a series of transcriptions and partial transcriptions combined with improvisations from her guests. She doesn't fool around, either; she chooses to combine forces with bona fide stars like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Joe Zawinul, and younger technical dynamos like Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Michel Camilo, and Joey DeFrancesco -- all of whom are classically trained to some extent. One could argue whether or not this music feels like jazz; very little of it has a pulse, even less swings, and -- being transcriptions -- spontaneity is a sometime thing. But a more pertinent point is whether or not this succeeds on its own terms as music. The lengthy duet with Hancock on "My Funny Valentine" -- a stitched-together mosaic from several sources -- comes alive when Hancock injects some jazz feeling into his improvisational passages. There are three tracks with Rubalcaba, one with Camilo, and a duet with Marielle on a Camilo composition, but these only catch fire when the Latin pianists latch onto some chordal vamps from their homelands. The one iconoclast in this collection is the crusty Zawinul, who lays down his own exciting synthesized piano ostinatos in "Volcano for Hire" and actually gets some propulsive swing going; unlike the others, he also did his own mix in his New York home studio. While many of these experiments might make refreshing additions to the concert hall repertoire of classical pianists, to be honest, the best ones are those where the jazzers don't seem intimidated by the world-class technique of Labeque. - Richard Ginell

Katia Labéque (piano, solo on 6)
Duets with:
Chick Corea (1, 9)
Herbie Hancock (2)
Marielle Labéque (3)
Gonzalo Rubalcaba (4, 5, 7)
Joe Zawinul (8)
Joey DeFrancesco (10)
Michel Camilo (11)
  1. We Will Meet Again
  2. My Funny Valentine
  3. On Fire
  4. Besame Mucho
  5. Prologo Comienzo
  6. Little Girl Blue
  7. Quizas Quizas Quizas
  8. Volcano for Hire
  9. Turn Out the Stars
  10. Summertime
  11. La Comparsa

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Andrew Hill - Change

The 1966 edition of the Andrew Hill Quartet included saxophonist Sam Rivers, bassist Walter Booker, and drummer J.C. Moses. This group recorded what was to be the first of Andrew Hill's four "free" sessions for Blue Note. The other three were all recorded in 1967 and were solo piano sessions. Two of those dates along with an Artist House LP were released on the Mosaic Select Andrew Hill box. Hill's classic, brilliant, and still-outside date Dance with Death from 1968, featuring Joe Farrell, Charles Tolliver, Victor Sproles, and Billy Higgins, was not issued until 1980 and made its first compact disc appearance in 2004. Change has an interesting story in that it wasn't released at the time of recording and remained in the can until 1975, when it was issued under Sam Rivers' name as part of a Blue Note double as part of a two-LP set called Involution. The other disc was a Rivers-led date (from 1967) with a different band that hit CD shelves in 1998 under the title Dimensions and Extensions. Change as it was recorded and edited -- and even given a catalog number (84233) -- is supplemented here with two bonus tracks from the date. All this music was previously released on CD in limited edition (and now sold out) as The Complete Blue Note Andrew Hill Sessions (1963-66). This band plays outside, but this is not "free jazz" in the original sense of the term. In fact, it is music that is composed, with lots of room for improvisation, and one need go no further than the 11-minute opening cut, "Violence," where Hill's chords lie behind a bristling opening solo by Rivers. Hill takes the solo from Rivers, quoting from stride piano blues and Thelonious Monk, and then enters into a spiky duet with the saxophonist before a bass solo and Hill entering on harpsichord. Rivers brings the head back in and moves it to the margins again. This fiery interplay is a long example of what lies in wait for those who've never encountered this music before. It is Hill at his most intense and focused, with an eager group of players who were all excellent listeners. In contrast, "Pain," the album's second track, feels like anything but, with a swinging, Monk-like theme before Sproles takes over with a bass solo that keeps the theme in clear view. Rivers isn't present here at all; it's a trio number that strides and lopes with a killer piano solo by Hill. The saxophonist doesn't re-enter the picture until the middle of the next cut, "Illusion," with a Latin-tinged rhythmic motif and wonderful playing by Moses. When Rivers does enter, his melodic strut -- courtesy of the composer -- feels like a beautiful nod to Ornette. And so it goes with one delight after another -- including a gorgeous trio ballad called "Lust" that brought the original album to a close. This is one of the most out and out structured "free" dates of the entire 1960s. It's a shame this ensemble didn't get to record together more, because by album's end it feels like they're just getting started. Hill never got to see this date come out on its own on disc. He passed away a month and a half before. ~ Thom Jurek


Andrew Hill (piano)
Sam Rivers (tenor sax)
Walter Booker (bass)
J.C. Moses (drums)

1. Violence
2. Pain
3. Illusion
4. Hope
5. Lust
6. Desire
7. Violence (alt)
8. Desire (alt)

Van Gelder Studios, New Jersey: March 7, 1966

Chuco Valdés - Fantasia Cubana: Variations on Classical Themes (2002)

Chucho Valdés is an acknowledged master of assorted Afro-Cuban musical idioms. The Cuban-born pianist has been recording for nearly 40 years in a wide variety of settings, as both sideman and leader. Valdés is a large man (he stands 6 feet 4 inches), and his keyboard skills can include correspondingly broad chordings, played with powerful finesse. He calls Fantasia Cubana the realization of a lifelong dream. Piano lessons as a boy brought him an enduring love of classical music. Now, with a lifetime of musical explorations under his belt, he returns to that first love with confidence, exuberance, and delightful invention. This is a suite of solo piano pieces, in which his strong rhythmic grounding reveals some rather hidden characteristics in the resilient works of three masters (Chopin, Debussy, and Ravel). Valdés also celebrates his admiration for Ernesto Lecuona, the concert pianist and composer who founded the Havana Symphony, with three contrasting versions of "La Comparsa." - David Greenberger

As one of Cuba's greatest Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz pianists and long an important bandleader, Jesús Chucho Valdés has earned international renown and a devoted audience of jazz fans. However, the imaginative composer and virtuosic improviser does not waiver from his ability to interpret acknowledged classics. Fantasia Cubana: Variations on Classical Themes demonstrates this attribute and reveals Chucho Valdés in peak form. He pays homage to Ernesto Lecuona, the concert pianist and founder of the Havana Symphony who is generally recognized as the most important Cuban musician of the first half of the 20th century. The recording includes 14 compositions with three completely different takes of "Three Faces of Lecuona: La Comparsa." Valdés, who performs in a solo setting on this recording, also plays a set of colorful, gentle originals, including "Sunrise," the title track, "La Campesina," and a very percussive "Wakamba." His mastery of polyrhythms is remarkable and his wonderful variations on classical themes uplift the music to how the original composers might enjoy them or change them to reflect the impact of the 21st century. These songs are also a powerful tribute to the enormous influence of Zenaida Romeu (who taught him classical piano) and his North American jazz pianist influences, McCoy Tyner and Oscar Peterson. - Paula Edelstein

Chucho Valdés (solo piano)
  1. Chopin: Prelude in E minor
  2. Three Faces of Lecuona: La Comparsa No. 1
  3. Three Faces of Lecuona: La Comparsa No. 2
  4. Three Faces of Lecuona: La Comparsa No. 3
  5. Wakamba
  6. Debussy: Reverie & Arabesque
  7. Chopin: Waltz in A minor
  8. Sunrise
  9. My Reverie
  10. Fantasia Cubana
  11. Ravel: Pavane for a Dead Princess
  12. Tumbao
  13. La Campesina
  14. Impromptu

Jaki Byard - To Them-To Us

Jaki Byard was captured alone in a Milan studio for this delightful session. As usual, he displays his formidable technique with an ever-present twinkle of humor. Everything from early jazz ("Tin Roof Blues") to classic renditions of Ellington masterpieces (an introspective "Solitude" and a rollicking "Caravan") to the surprisingly enjoyable arrangement of the usually saccharine Chuck Mangione hit "Land of Make Believe" is worth repeated hearings. Another surprise is his hilarious but solid reworking of another pop smash, "Ode to Billie Joe." Several strong Byard originals round out this highly recommended CD. ~ Ken Dryden






1. To Them-To Us
2. BL + WH = 88
3. Tin Roof Blues
4. Land Of Make Believe
5. Solitude
6. Caravan
7. Ode To Billy Joe
8. Send One Your Love
9. Excerpts From Trumpet Concerto

Johnny Coles - Little Johnny C


Although this Blue Note session (reissued on CD in 1996) is led by trumpeter Johnny Coles, pianist Duke Pearson (who contributed the arrangements and five of the six compositions) really functioned as leader. The typically impressive Blue Note lineup (which includes Leo Wright on alto and flute, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and either Walter Perkins or Pete LaRoca on drums, in addition to Coles and Pearson) handles the obscure material with creative invention. Most memorable are the catchy title cut and the somber ballad "So Sweet My Little Girl." Cole's brittle trumpet is the lead voice throughout, although the young Joe Henderson was already instantly recognizable. Scott Yanow


Johnny Coles (trumpet)
Leo Wright (flute, alto sax)
Joe Henderson (tenor sax)
Duke Pearson (piano)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Pete La Roca (drums)
Walter Perkins (drums)

1. Little Johnny C
2. Hobo Joe
3. Jano
4. My Secret Passion
5. Heavy Legs
6. So Sweet My Little Girl (RVG 24-Bit Remastering)


Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, July 18 and August 9, 1963

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lucky Thompson - Happy Days

Most of the Thompson limks are dead, but Ubu did a very nice and comprehensive Lucky Thompson post not long ago; I commend you to his able hands.

Flanagan was the ideal piano partner fot Thompson, a fluent melodist who doesn't lack for rhythmic drive and who constantly flirts with harmonic freedom. He's easily the more convincing of the two piano players on Happy Days, as upbeat and joyous a session as the name suggests, but with a softer and more poignant side as well. 'Long Ago And Far Away' and 'Dearly Beloved' are among the best things Thompson recorded; his own solos are crafted with intelligence and taste and he's never less than wholly responsive to those around him. ~ Penguin Guide

This CD has the full contents of two of Lucky Thompson's LPs. The earlier session, since it was originally released on the Prestige subsidiary Moodsville, emphasizes ballads, as Thompson interprets eight Jerome Kern melodies (none of the obvious ones) plus his own moody original "No More." One of the first "modern" jazz musicians to start doubling on soprano (actually predating John Coltrane), Lucky Thompson displays a light but forceful tone on both soprano and tenor; his versions of "Look for the Silver Lining," "Who" and "They Didn't Believe Me" are particularly memorable. The second date was a six-song tribute to a new singer of the period, Barbra Streisand. Other than "People" (this version is harmless enough) and Thompson's "Safari," the other tunes are veteran standards, including "Happy Days Are Here Again" and a rare medium-tempo rendition of "As Time Goes By." Overall, this CD is full of excellent music by the always underrated Lucky Thompson. ~ Scott Yanow


Lucky Thompson (soprano and tenor sax)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Hank Jones (piano)
George Tucker (bass)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Jack Melady (harp)
Dave Bailey (drums)
Walter Perkins (drums)


1. Long Ago (And Far Away)
2. Lovely To Look At
3. No More
4. Look For The Silver Lining
5. Who?
6. Dearly Beloved
7. Why Do I Love You?
8. Why Was I Born?
9. They Didn't Believe Me
10. Happy Days Are Here Again
11. Safari
12. Cry Me A River
13. You Don't Know What Love Is
14. People
15. As Time Goes By

Geoffrey Keezer - Sublime: Honoring the Music of Hank Jones (2002)

Another piano tribute album recorded the same year as Roland Hanna's Tributaries. Geoffrey Keezer became Art Blakey's last pianist at the age of 17 and pays his respects to Hank Jones in a series of duets along with two solo tracks. The performances are indeed sublime, as was Hank Jones.

Pianist Geoff Keezer pays homage to pianist Hank Jones on Sublime: Honoring the Music of Hank Jones. Focusing on original Jones compositions -- save for Claus Ogerman's "Favors," a Jones staple -- Keezer celebrates one of the jazz world's most underappreciated artists. Joining Keezer are pianists Kenny Barron, Chick Corea, Benny Green, and Mulgrew Miller for duets that allow each musician to bring his individual style to Jones' rarely recorded material. - Matt Collar

Geoffrey Keezer (solo piano 1, 7)
duets with:
Benny Green (2, 6)
Kenny Barron (3, 8)
Chick Corea (4, 10)
Mulgrew Miller (5, 9)
  1. Angel Face
  2. Hank's Blues
  3. Passing Time
  4. Time Warp
  5. Lullaby
  6. Things Are So Pretty in the Spring
  7. Sublime
  8. Favors
  9. Alpha
  10. Intimidation
Recorded August 11, 14, 2002

Roland Hanna - Tributaries: Reflections on Tommy Flanagan (2002)

Roland Hanna and Tommy Flanagan were both from Detroit with Flanagan being two years older. Tommy Flanagan died in November of 2001 and ironically, Roland Hanna would die one year later, almost to the day.

It is difficult to believe in listening to Tributaries: Reflections on Tommy Flanagan, a solo recital by Sir Roland Hanna, that the pianist passed away just five months later. Hanna's tribute to the recently deceased Flanagan is so full of life, creativity, and swing. On the opening "Sea Changes" (a Flanagan composition), Hanna strides joyfully. Other highlights include a medium-tempo "Body and Soul," "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," "I Concentrate on You," and "Robbins' Nest" although every selection on this set is well worth hearing. There can be little doubt after hearing this highly recommended CD that Hanna was very much in his playing prime up until the end of his productive life. - Scott Yanow

Roland Hanna (solo piano)
  1. Sea Changes
  2. A Child Is Born
  3. Body and Soul
  4. Soon
  5. Things Ain't What They Used to Be
  6. Never Let Me Go
  7. The Cup Bearers
  8. 'Tis
  9. I Concentrate on You
  10. Robbins' Nest
  11. Delarna
Recorded June 2002

Harry James - 1941-1942 (Chronological 1132)

"Since the Columbia label has never reissued all of James' recordings (just sticking to endlessly repackaging the same hits), this Classics series is quite valuable for swing collectors and Harry James fans."

On the seventh Classics CD reissuing all of Harry James' early recordings, the trumpeter and his orchestra are heard just before and two months after Pearl Harbor. James' ensemble was rapidly rising to the top of its field. During this period of time, Helen Forrest became James' female vocalist and on her second session with the band she recorded a big hit in "I Don't Want to Walk Without You." Forrest is also in excellent form on "But Not for Me," "I Remember You," and "Skylark." Dick Haymes also has a few spots; best is "You've Changed" and "You Don't Know What Love Is." But most enjoyable are such James instrumentals as "My Melancholy Baby," "B-19," "Strictly Instrumental," and "The Clipper." Since the Columbia label has never reissued all of James' recordings (just sticking to endlessly repackaging the same hits), this Classics series is quite valuable for swing collectors and Harry James fans. ~ Scott Yanow

An interesting period for James. As usual, there's a sprinkling of schmaltz, along with some genuinely effective, sweet performances and superior instrumentals. The sequential Classics approach means that one has to take the interestingly rough with the very smooth, but ... these discs have some fine sides. ~ Penguin Guide


Harry James (trumpet)
Helen Forrest (vocal)
Dick Haymes (vocal)
Others

1. Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen
2. Rancho Pillow
3. You've Changed
4. My Melancholy Baby
5. The Man With The Lollipop Song
6. The Devil Sat Down And Cried
7. He's 1-A In The Army And He's A-1 in My Heart
8. Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie
9. You Don't Know What Love Is
10. Make Love To Me
11. Day Dreaming
12. J.P. Dooley III
13. I Don't Want To Walk Without You
14. B-19
15. All My Love
16. The Mole
17. Blues In The Night
18. Strictly Instrumental
19. But Not For Me
20. I Remember You
21. Last Night I Said A Prayer
22. Skylark
23. The Clipper

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tal Farlow - The Tal Farlow Album

How many ways can you repackage something? How about as a collection of the cover artist's work? In full Japanophonic sound.

Tal Farlow, a young prodigal (sic) guitarist of the early 1950's, was originally heard with jazz greats Artie Shaw and Red Norvo. This recording, one of his first as a leader, features the legendary Oscar Pettiford on bass, along side Barry Galbraith and Joe Morello.

... Farlow's style was described as "a subtle swing powered by elegant restraint. His never-flagging beat blends with taste, delicacy, and intelligent technical control to form a harpsichord-like texture that is a fresh addition to jazz."

For guitarist Tal Farlow's second album as a leader (following a very obscure effort for Blue Note), he is joined by rhythm guitarist Barry Galbraith, bassist Oscar Pettiford and drummer Joe Morello on eight numbers ... Farlow is heard in his early prime. Thirty-two at the time, he was a brilliant technician who could play extremely fast, yet clean and with a light touch. His solos on the 11 standards (which include Pettiford's "Blues in the Closet," "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "You and the Night and the Music"), plus his own "Gibson Boy," are hard-swinging and creative, yet thoughtful. ~ Scott Yanow

Tal Farlow (guitar)
Barry Galbraith (guitar)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Joe Morello (drums)


1. Gibson Boy
2. With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair
3. My Old Flame
4. If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You
5. Ev'rything I've Got
6. You and the Night and the Music
7. Love Nest
8. Blues in the Closet

New York: June 2, 1954

Zoot Sims and Frank Rosolino - Vogue Sessions

Benny Goodman made a European tour in 1950 at the head of a sextet with star sidemen Zoot Sims and Roy Eldridge. Both were recorded at the time, separately, by Vogue. Brought to the studio to accompany Zoot was American pianist Gerry Wiggins, then accompanying Lena Horne at the Paris Lido night club. The rest of Goodman's rhythm section was replaced by the inventfve Franco-American duo of Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke.

Zoot Sims was 25 and had already had a varied career, the hfghlight being his 1947-49 stint Wfth
Woody Herman as one of the "Four Brothers". Under Lester Young's influence he developed a
style that was a happy blend of the easygoing and the fiery, characterised by a smooth, ethereal tone. The present selection highlights his tranquil, relaxed playing, sensitive and elegiac.

It also enables one to appreciate the richness of Zoot's inspiration for there are different takes of
the various numbers . There are three versions of Night And Day, the number entitled the Big Shot being simply an improvisation on the chord sequence of the Porterer classic, three versrons of Tenorly, a minor-key blues, two versions of the blues Slingin' Hasch, and two versions of I Understand.

Three years after the session, Zoot was back in Europe with Stan Kenton's band. He was again invited to record, alongside another Kenton star, trombonist Frank Rosolino, whose virtuosity caused a sensation at the time. A third Kentonite, bassist Don Ragley, was brought along with pianist Henri Renaud. guitarist Jimmy Gourley, and drummer Jean-Louis Viale.

So now you will discover - or re-discover - with pleasure and interest recordings whose reissue has been awaited for more than a quarter of a century.


1-13
Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Gerald Wiggins (piano)
Pierre Michelot (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Paris: June 16, 1950


14-19
Frank Rosolino (Trombone)
Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Jimmy Gourley (guitar)
Henri Renaud (piano)
Don Bagley (bass)
Jean-Louis Viale (drums)
Paris: November 18, 1953


1. Night And Day (Take 1)
2. Night And Day (Take 2)
3. Night And Day (Take 3)
4. Slingin' Hasch (Take 1)
5. Slingin' Hasch (Take 2)
6. Tenorly (Take 1)
7. Tenorly (Take 2)
8. Tenorly (Take 3)
9. Zoot And Zoot
10. I Understand (Take 1)
11. I Understand (Take 2)
12. Don't Worry About Me
13. Crystal
14. Toot's Suite
15. The Late Tiny Kahn
16. Call It Anything
17. Zoot's Suite
18. Once In A While
19. Great Drums

VIDEO: Non Stop - Travels with Michel Petrucciani


One of the best jazz documentaries I've seen, traveling with French jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani around the USA from Big Sur to the Big Apple. A 1995 film by Roger Willemsen, in English.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sonny Sharrock - Ask The Ages

Ask the Ages is Sonny Sharrock's masterpiece, and sadly it was also the last album he would record before his premature death in 1994. It's the most challenging jazz work he recorded as a leader, and it's the clearest expression of his roots as a jazz player, drawing heavily on Coltrane's modal post-bop and concepts of freedom. To that end, Sharrock reunites with Coltrane's old cohort, Pharoah Sanders, who featured Sharrock on his wild Tauhid and Izipho Zam LPs; what's more, Coltrane Quartet drummer Elvin Jones is on hand, as is young bassist Charnett Moffett. It's far and away the best, most adventurous, and most jazz-oriented backing group Sharrock recorded with during his comeback, and the results are breathtaking. The compositions are all Sharrock originals, and all six have utterly memorable themes that often recall the sweeping lyricism of Sanders' most spiritual '60s works. For his part, Sanders responds with some of his most ferocious playing in years, and Sharrock sounds vitally energized by the tenor's screeching passion. There isn't a wasted moment on the album, but particular highlights include the fiery, majestic opener, "Promises Kept," the searching ballad "Who Does She Hope to Be?," and the awe-inspiring blast-fest "Many Mansions," where Sharrock and Sanders both reach a blistering pinnacle. Listeners coming to Sharrock from rock & roll or his Space Ghost Coast to Coast soundtrack might find that Ask the Ages isn't the nonstop skronk-fest they expected; it's his overall musicality that's on display, but there's still plenty that will scare the bejeezus out of timid jazzbos. It's a tragedy that Sharrock didn't get much of a chance to expand on this achievement, but thankfully it exists in the first place. ~ Steve Huey


Sonny Sharrock (guitar)
Pharoah Sanders (tenor and soprano sax)
Charnett Moffett (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)


1. Promises Kept
2. Who Does She Hope To Be?
3. Little Rock
4. As We Used To Sing
5. Many Mansions
6. Once Upon A Time

Friday, February 13, 2009

Art Blakey - At The Jazz Corner Of The World Vol. 2 (TOCJ)

This extremely short-lived lineup of Messengers recorded only once together--in April 1959 at New York's Birdland ... which finds tenor Hank Mobley (one of the earliest Messengers) returning to the fold as a stopgap between recently departed Benny Golson and soon-to-join Wayne Shorter. The remainder of the quintet--Lee Morgan, pianist Bobby Timmons, and bassist Jymie Merritt--are all holdovers from the classic Moanin' lineup, which remains Blakey's funkiest. Mobley adds three compositions to a repertoire that includes Thelonious Monk's tricky "Justice," Ray Bryant's irresistibly groovy "Chicken an' Dumplins," and Randy Weston's easy-swaying "Hi-Fly." Morgan and Mobley are in typically fine form throughout this in-the-pocket set. ~ Marc Greilsamer


Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers of 1959 were hitting their full stride, as trumpeter Lee Morgan joined the fold with tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, the reliable pianist Bobby Timmons and steady bassist Jymie Merritt. Recorded live at New York's City's Birdland aka the "Jazz Corner of the World," this double-CD set reissued of two Blue Note LPs represents four 20-minute sets of this incredible band at their best, and in their element. Mixing up standards and favored originals from peer group composers, the band is, in the vernacular of the era, cooking. Introductions by the legendary M.C. Pee Wee Marquette precede the ultra-cool blues shuffle "Hipsippy Blues," as Morgan and Mobley sing beautifully through their horns in delightful unison. "Chicken an' Dumplins" is one of the hip, cool, chatty, and clipped melodies that will be memorable and hummable 'til jazz do us part. The theme "Art's Revelation" in a minor key has Jewish elements and a solid swing base where Blakey constantly switches up rhythms, but not the tempo. The fast hard bop theme "M & M" defines the genre and the era, while "Just Coolin'" is depicted as a foxtrot, but in hot, hard swinging trim. Several standards include a great read of Randy Weston's "Hi-Fly" with a pristine intro and Mobley's wonderful harmonic interpretation. Thelonious Monk's "Justice" (better known in later years as "Evidence") fully exploits the written pedal point stop-start theme, while the languid "Close Your Eyes" has modal piano and horn inserts further enhancing this sweet tune. You also get a short and stouter version of "The Theme," the former with Marquette's announcing. When Mobley left and Wayne Shorter joined this ensemble, they hit their peak of performance, but this band was as definitive a modern jazz ensemble as there ever was, and the immaculately chosen repertoire elevates this to one of the greatest live jazz session ever, and belongs on the shelf of all serious jazz listeners. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Art Blakey (drums)
Hank Mobley (tenor sax)
Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Bobby Timmons (piano)
Jymie Merritt (bass)

1. Chicken An' Dumplings
2. M & M
3. Hi-Fly
4. The Theme
5. Art's Revelation

The Clusone Trio




Clusone Trio - Rara Avis

"We all know how 20th century composers from Messiaen to Ellington to Dolphy cribbed melodies" from birds, says Kevin Whitehead in the liner notes to this collection of fourteen bird songs by the celebrated Clusone 3: Michael Moore (alto sax, clarinet, melodica), Ernst Reijseger (cello), and Han Bennink (drums). None of those three are represented on this broadly-ranging program, but it does include tunes by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Hoagy Carmichael alongside Peruvian folk music, Saint-Saens "Le Cygne," and duck calls by Steve Lacy and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Plus "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along," "Tico-Tico No Fuba," and more.

As fascinating as the choice of melodies is the trio's approach to performing them. Every track, even the hoariest old chestnut, is given a fresh coat of paint, as all three musicians consciously incorporate birdlike melodies - and rhythms - into their interpretations. This is done conspicuously on tracks like Moore's original "Avocet," which is built upon twitters and flutters from both Moore and Reijseger. Lacy's "Duck" is also an exercise in melodic onomatopoeia. But it also crops up here and there on other tracks throughout the disc, as conventional swing rhythms rub elbows with rubato chirrups and peeps, breaking into, commenting upon, and augmenting the overall thrust of the tunes.

Bennink, who came up with the idea of this disc, shows his characteristic puckishness on tracks like "Tico Tico," "Yellow Bird," "El Condor Pasa," and "When the Red Red Robin." All of these and the rest of the numbers, however, are played with respect, albeit with an imaginativeness of interpretation that is continually attention-grabbing. Moore's condor passes with a wild flutter, and his Baltimore oriole is, if this is possible, even more anguished than the original. But he brings out the easy loveliness of "Nightingales Sang in Berkeley Square," "My Bird of Paradise" and "Le Cygne," and of the melodic statements of "The Buzzard Song." Bennink is, as always, a masterful colorist, and Reijseger has tremendous ingenuity (he even sounds like a guitar or banjo on the loose-limbed "Red Red Robin").

In lesser hands a selection of songs like this one might be merely gimmicky or sneeringly ironic. But these are three masterful musicians, and this is marvelously compelling music. Recommended." - Robert Spencer


Michael Moore (alto sax, clarinet, melodica)
Ernst Reijseger (cello)
Han Bennink (drums)

1. The Buzzard Song
2. Avocet
3. Yellow Bird
4. El Condor Pasa
5. Secretary Bird
6. When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbin' Along
7. Nightingales Sang in Berkeley Square
8. Baltimore Oriole
9. Skylark
10. Duck
11. O Pato
12. Le Cygne
13. Tico-Tico No Fuba
14. My Bird of Paradise

Recorded by Peter Pfister at Kulak, Berikon, Switzerland on December 13, 1997


The Clusone Trio - I Am An Indian

The trio of Michael Moore (on clarinet, alto and bass clarinet), cellist Ernst Reijseger and percussionist Han Bennink mixes together very explorative playing with a full knowledge of the tradition and a wacky sense of humor. For the often-eccentric series of live performances, the trio alternates group originals with works from Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Herbie Nichols, Dewey Redman, Bud Powell and Misha Mingelberg. This is one of the most accessible of all avant-garde groups due to the humor and there are many highlights to the enjoyable (if nutty) program. ~ Scott Yanow


Michael Moore (alto sax, bass clarinet, clarinet, melodica)
Ernst Reijseger (cello, voice)
Han Bennink (percussion, piano, harmonica)

1. Wigwam
2. Angelica
3. Tlinglit
4. I'm An Indian, Too
5. The Gig
6. I'm An Indian, Too
7. Qow
8. Bella Coola
9. Celia
10. Tsimshian
11. Sonoroso
12. Mijn Geheugen Is Een Zeef
13. The Song Is Ended
14. Salish

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Walt Dickerson



Walt Dickerson - To My Queen

Walt Dickerson has never enjoyed the kind of critical praise heaped on Bobby Hitcherson's head. While Hutcherson is inquestionably the more innovative player, with a direction that diverges sharply from the orthodoxy laid down in the late '40s and early '50s by Milt Jackson, Dickerson can be seen as the more interesting player, with a style that combines something of Jackson's piano-based approach with Lionel Hampton's exuberently percussive sound and an ear for the tunes that head off in unexpected directions like the wonderful 'Time' and 'Death And Taxes' on This Is.

To My Queen is his best record, not least for the pairing of Hill and Cyrille, and for the beautiful title-track, dedicated to the vibist's wife Elizabeth. A duet with Tucker on 'God Bless The Child' bespeaks a close understanding that is also evident on the title-piece. We resolutely refuse to be put off fine records by the absence of additional material, but this weighs in at just a fraction over half an hour. ~ Penguin Guide


Walt Dickerson (vibes)
Andrew Hill (piano)
George Tucker (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)

1. To My Queen
2. How Deep Is The Ocean
3. God Bless The Child

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: September 21, 1962


Walt Dickerson - Tell Us Only The Beautiful Things

Walt was a true original with a unique sound and distinctive approach to the vibraphone, taking forward the path laid out by Hampton right through to Milt Jackson and beyond. Dickerson made quite an impact when he first burst on to the then embryonic free jazz scene as evidenced by his being voted as New Star 1962 in the prestigious Down Beat critics poll. In spite of this however, wider jazz recognition never came, aided no doubt by long periods of seeming inactivity. After recording four albums for Prestige in the early sixties, the somewhat enigmatic Walt dropped out until 1975 when the ubiquitous Masahiko Yuh recorded this album in his hometown of Philadelphia with Wilbur Ware on bass and drummer Andrew Cyrille.


Walt Dickerson (vibraphone)
Wilbur Ware (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (percussion)

1. The Nexus
2. Tell Us Only The Beautiful Things

Recorded in July 21, 1975 at Virtue Recording Studios in Philadelphia

Dee Felice Trio - In Heat

Usually I pick up any Bethlehem title I come across, but after Mel Torme and Chris Connor I decided they weren't all essential. This looked interesting, though, and I vaguely remebered them from a James Brown Funky People release. This turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Couldn't find anything about them on the 'net or elsewhere. There's a nice You Tube clip with them performing with Brown. It's in comments.

An obscure title from Bethlehem, this features a group that had some experience performing as a unit and backing artists such as Helen Merril, Roy Eldridge, Mel Torme, Lou Rawls and others. They were signed by James Brown (who wrote the liner notes) and appeared on one of his Funky People releases, which is where many of us may be familiar with them.

This comes from late in the history of Bethlehem and the dating is somewhat obscure: one session is from Cincinnati i 1969 and the rest probably from 1968. At this point Bethlehem was producing very few sessions - less than ten a year - and was heavier on the R&B side; Wayne Cochran, Arthur Prysock and such. This is a surprisingly tight little session. Don't let the pop tunes current at the time mislead you - they handle them well; Sonny Criss did the same with similar material. Don't get me wrong, this isn't music you have to take your head apart to get into, but it is a solid bit of work from a solid little combo. There is other instrumentation, incidentally, than the trio listed. They are largely drawn from Brown's outfit, although only guitarist Kenny Poole - a Cincinnati native - is mentioned by name.


Frank Vincent (piano)
Lee Tucker (bass)
Dee Felice (drums)


1. Oh Happy Day
2. Wichita Lineman
3. The Crickets Sing
4. Summer In The City
5. There Was A Time
6. In Heat
7. Both Sides Now
8. All The Time
9. Uncle
10. Never

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thelonious Monk - Thelonious Himself

Thelonious Himself is a solo album, and one of his definitive statements up to this point. Alone at last, Monk's prevarications on his own pieces begin to sound definitive as each progresses: he unpicks them and lays them out again with almost scientific precision, but the immediacy of each interpretation is anything but detached. 'Functional' was probably never given a better reading than here, and his accompanying interpretations of standards are scarcely less compelling, melody and rhythm placed under new lights in each one. Capping it is the trio version of 'Monk's Mood' with Coltrane and Ware, and again, even with all the many versions of this tune which are extant, this one is unlike any other. ~ Penguin Guide

Thelonious Himself is a mostly solo set by pianist Thelonious Monk. Monk's hesitant stride and thoughtful yet very unpredictable flights are always a joy to hear. He performs a variety of swing standards (including "April in Paris" and "I'm Getting Sentimental over You"), his blues "Functional," and as a bonus track, there is an alternate take of "'Round Midnight" from the earlier date. The one non-solo track is "Monk's Mood," a ballad that finds Monk joined by tenor saxophonist John Coltrane and bassist Wilbur Ware. The overall results are not quite essential but they should greatly interest Thelonious Monk fans who do not have his huge Riverside box set. ~ Scott Yanow


Thelonious Monk (piano)
John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Wilbur Ware (bass)

1. April In Paris
2. I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You
3. Functional
4. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
5. I Should Care
6. 'Round Midnight
7. 'Round Midnight
8. All Alone
9. Monk's Mood

New York: April 12 and 16, 1957

Marion Brown - Porto Novo

Smith and Brown both studied ethnomusicology at Wesleyan during the seventies.

This was one of altoist Marion Brown's best recordings. Although a very adventurous improviser, Brown usually brought lyricism and a thoughtful (if unpredictable) approach to his music. Accompanied by bassist Maarten van Regteben Altena and drummer Han Bennink for this stimulating session (recorded in Holland), Brown stretches out on five of his compositions and is heard at the peak of his creative powers. ~ Scott Yanow

Alto saxophonist Marion Brown has always existed on the periphery of avant-garde jazz. His lithe soloing has by and large eschewed the edgy, colorful flare-ups that constantly cap Ornette Coleman's most brilliant runs. This trio session features Brown in ideal company, with then-youthful drummer Han Bennink and bassist Marteen Altena filling out the group. Together, the group trots the line between fluid motion and crisp execution, with Brown's alto making pungent jabs amidst Bennink's popping drumming and Altena's rubbery bass. Most impressively, Brown captures the continuity from Johnny Hodges' swing to the avant-garde's high energy in his catholic sound and in this trio's pouncing intensity. ~ Andrew Bartlett


1-5
Marion Brown (alto sax)
Maarten van Regteben Altena (bass)
Han Bennink (drums)

6-7
Marion Brown (alto sax)
Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet)


1. Similar Limits
2. Sound Structure
3. Improvisation
4. Qbic
5. Porto Novo
6. And Then They Danced
7. Rhythmus No. 1

Johnny Hodges - 1964-65 Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges

This excellent single CD has the complete contents of two Impulse LPs: Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges and Inspired Abandon, which was actually a Lawrence Brown album featuring Hodges. The two similar and equally rewarding swing-oriented albums find Hodges joined by a variety of top Ellington stars, including trumpeters Cat Anderson and Ray Nance, either Harold Ashby or Paul Gonsalves on tenor, and trombonist Brown, among others. The renditions of "310 Blues," "The Jeep Is Jumpin'," "Stompy Jones," and "Mood Indigo," in particular, sound quite fresh and inventive. Recommended.
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide


Johnny Hodges - Everybody Knows (A 61)




For this album, Johnny Hodges brought to the studio musicians with whom he was well accustomed to working. Made during a period when the Duke Ellington band was officially enjoying a brief vacation, the circumstances accounted for one or two changes in the normal personnel of the big band, viz: Ray Nance returned to his chair, replacing Cootie Williams; Britt Woodman took the place for Chuck Connors, who was out of town; Jimmy Jones, as is now almost the rule on such occasions, played piano instead of Duke; and Grady Tate sat in for Sam Woodyard, who had returned to the bosom of his family.
Stanley Dance

01. Everybody Knows (J. Hodges) 7:25
02. A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing (B. Strayhorn) 3:04
03. Papa Knows (J. Hodges) 6:52
04. 310 Blues (B. Strayhorn) 4:34
05. The Jeep Is Jumpin' (J. Hodges, D. Ellington) 2:45
06. Main Stem (D. Ellington) 3:28
07. Medley: I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart/Don't Get Around Much Anymore (I. Mills, D. Ellington, B. Russell, H. Nemo, J. Redmond) 4:44
08. Open Mike (Cat Anderson) 3:09

Recorded at Capitol Studios, New York, New York on February 6, 1964. Originally released on Impulse (61).

Tracks 1-3, 5:
Cat Anderson, Ray Nance (trumpet)
Lawrence Brown (trombone)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax)
Jimmy Jones (piano)
Ernie Shepard (bass)
Grady Tate (drums)

Tracks 4, 6-8:
Cat Anderson, Rolf Ericson, Herbie Jones (trumpet)
Ray Nance (trumpet, violin, vocals)
Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, Britt Woodman (trombone)
Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet, tenor sax)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Russell Procope (alto sax, clarinet)
Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax)
Harry Carney (baritone sax)
Jimmy Jones (piano)
Ernie Shepard (bass)
Grady Tate (drums)


Lawrence Brown - Inspired Abandon (A 89 )


Johnny Hodges sits in with trombonist Lawrence Brown and his all-star group that includes Harold Ashby on tenor, Ray Nance on cornet, Paul Gonsalves on tenor, and Cat Anderson on trumpet. As you'd expect, this set's got a strong swing vibe and a good Basie groove to it. Tracks are short, with good ensemble playing, and titles include "Ruint", "Sassy Cue", "Stompy Jones", and "Good Queen Bess".
Dusty Groove

09. Stompy Jones (D. Ellington) 4:00
10. Mood Indigo (I. Mills, B. Bigard, D. Ellington) 4:25
11. Good Queen Bess (J. Hodges) 3:07
12. Little Brother (J. Hodges, C. Hodges) 5:11
13. Two-Jeep's Blues (J. Hodges, D. Ellington) 5:43
14. Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me (D. Ellington, B. Russell) 2:34
15. Ruint (M. Ellington, J. Hodges) 3:21
16. Sassy Cue (J. Hodges, C. Hodges) 3:42

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on March 8, 1965

Lawrence Brown (trombone)
Russell Procope (alto saxophone, clarinet)
Johnny Hodges (alto saxophone)
Paul Gonsalves, Harold Ashby (tenor saxophone)
Cat Anderson, Ray Nance (trumpet)
Buster Cooper (trombone)
Jimmy Jones (piano)
Richard Davis (bass)
Gus Johnson (drums on tracks 09, 11 &13-16)
Johnny Hodges Jr. (drums on tracks 10 &12)

Coleman Hawkins - 1966 Supreme


A very open-ended performance from Coleman Hawkins -- recorded as part of the famous run of 60s performances at Baltimore's Left Bank Jazz Society -- and like most of those dates, a really stretched-out sort of session! The tracks are quite long, and offer up a lot of room for Hawk to solo -- playing with that raw, raspy tone that makes him instantly recognizable -- and working with a cool quartet that features Barry Harris on piano, Gene Taylor on bass, and Roy Brooks on drums. Titles include "Lover Come Back To Me", "In Walked Bud", "Body & Soul", "Quintessence", and "Fine & Dandy".
Dusty Groove


This 1966 live recording is from the end of Hawkins' career, and was to be his penultimate record. While this recording cannot compare to Hawkins' previous work, strong moments between the members of the rhythm section (Barry Harris on piano, Gene Taylor on bass, and Roy Brooks on drums) makes this an exciting listen. Moreover, despite Hawkins' own sub-par performance, the audience applauds enthusiastically after every chorus he plays, spurning him on to greater heights until, by the album's closer, he performs nearly up to snuff.
On the final tune, "Ow," Hawkins trades phrases with Harris displaying a rich and eloquent musical vocabulary. Harris himself plays a particularly inspired solo on the Quincy Jones ballad "Quintessence" and Hawkins' version of "Body & Soul," while not as authoritative as many of his earlier versions, is nonetheless passionate and yearning. For fans of "the Bean," this album, if nothing else, is of great historical interest.


1. Lover Come Back To Me 17:08 (Hammerstein, Romberg)
2. Body And Soul 10:10 (Eyton, Green, Heyman, Sour)
3. In Walked Bud 16:43 (Monk)
4. Quintessence 9:04 (Jones)
5. Fine And Dandy 10:30 (James, Swift)
6. Ow! 1:26 (Gillespie)

Coleman Hawkins tenor saxophone
Barry Harris piano
Gene Taylor bass
Roy Brooks drums

Recorded live at the Left Bank Jazz Society, Baltimore, Maryland in 1966.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don Ellis - How Time Passes

' I believe in making use of as wide a range of expressive techniques as possible,' said Ellis, who never lost sight of his own artistic credo, and made some of the most challenging music of recent times. Draw a line from Jimmy Giuffre to Maynard Ferguson, and somewhere around its imaginary mid-point you might find Don Ellis; he has been alternately praised and decried as a latter-day Kenton, but he actually belongs to a much older and more jazz-centred tradition. How Time Passes was made before the third stream finally ran dry. Half the album is devoted to 'Improvisational Suite #1' in which the soloists are asked to extemporize, not on chord progressions or standard melodies, but on a relatively orthodox 12-tone row, distributed among the instruments and out of which chords can be built.

The title-track is loosely inspired by Stockhausen's views on musical duration. The extraordinary accelerations and decelerations of tempo are initially almost laughable; but it's a highly significant piece, and Ellis' own solo (with Byard following less convincingly on his alto saxophone 'double') is superbly structured. ~ Penguin Guide

Trumpeter Don Ellis' initial recording as a leader (and first of four small group dates from the 1960-1962 period) found him stretching the boundaries of bop-based jazz and experimenting a bit with time and tempo. Teamed up with Jaki Byard (who doubles on piano and alto), bassist Ron Carter and drummer Charlie Persip, Ellis (whose sound was already pretty distinctive) performs four of his unusual originals (including the 22-minute "Improvisational Suite #1") plus Byard's "Waste." Although these musical experiments failed to be influential (Ellis himself went in a different direction a few years later), the unpredictable music is still quite interesting to hear. ~ Scott Yanow


Don Ellis (trumpet)
Jaki Byard (piano, alto sax)
Ron Carter (bass)
Charlie Persip (drums)

1. How Time Passes
2. Sallie
3. A Simplex One
4. Waste
5. Improvisational Suite #1

Artie Shaw - 1950 (Chronological 1397)

I am often told I am like Artie Shaw; yes, I am stunningly handsome, exceedingly wealthy, and have a trail of gorgeous women sobbing with heartbreak because I have discarded them. But, Shaw had a reputation for being something of a curmudgeon, whereas I am universally admired and respected with affectionate regard throughout blogland. Call me Cinderella without the trouble.

One of the good things about these chronological surveys is that you can follow the ebb and tide of a performers career - where they were commercial, where they tried different things. In the case of Artie Shaw, who went in and out of the business frequently ( he once quit the business to study mathematics), you can see some interesting developments.

At this point in his career, Shaw was coming out of another retirement after one of his more advanced combos split up. He formed a short-lived big band, which gained much critical praise in the '80s when their recordings were released on Music Masters, "...and included Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, and Don Fagerquist; their modern music was a commercial flop. "

There are a couple of Gramercy Five selections here, arrangements by Tadd Dameron and Roger Segure, boppers such as Teddy Kotick, some fine work with Mary Ann McCall, formerly of the Herman band (and briefly married to Al Cohn), and some real clunkers as well - the ones with Dick Haymes are stinkeroos. You get a wide range on this one.


Artie Shaw (clarinet)
Jimmy Raney (guitar)
Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Al Cohn (tenor sax)
Billy Taylor (piano)
Don Fagerquist (trumpet)
Frank Socolow (alto sax)
Chano Pozo (percussion)

1. There Must Be Somethin' Better Than Love
2. Nothin' From Nothin'
3. Love Walked In
4. So Easy
5. He's Gone Away
6. Foggy Foggy Dew
7. The Continental
8. I'll Remember April
9. Crumbum
10. The Shekomeko Shuffle
11. Count Every Star
12. If You Were Only Mine
13. I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles
14. You're Mine, You!
15. I Love The Guy
16. Just Say I Love Her
17. Don't Worry 'Bout Me
18. It's A Long Way To Tipperary
19. Show Me The Way To Go Home
20. Jingle Bells
21. Where Or When
22. White Christmas
23. Autumn Leaves
24. Serenade In Blue

VIDEO: Wynton Marsalis Quintet at the Marciac JF 2007

Actually, a sextet with Jared Grimes doing some fabulous rhythm-section tap dancing throughout.

Wynton Marsalis - t
Walter Blandings - ts

Dan Nimmer - p
Carlos Henriquez - b
Ali Jackson - d
Jared Grimes - tap

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mark Dresser - Invocation

Mark Dresser; I don't know how familiar you may be with this, but you owe it to yourself to see what one person can do with an instrument that is often thought to have a limited - albeit functional - range.

Invocation is something every die-hard fan of the upright bass should hear. The excellent techniques and talents of leading avant-garde jazz bassist Mark Dresser are here heard solo, although not necessarily live -- some tracks are overdubbed, and "Trains" includes recordings of (you guessed it) trains. These compositions are all very active, as opposed to minimal, and highlight cuts include Dresser's delivery of the Gerry Hemingway work, "Threnody for Charles Mingus," the title track, and "Polystop for Multiple Solo Bass," both written by Mark Dresser. And while this album may be less accessible than some of the grooves found on Michael Formanek's solo bass release, Am I Bothering You?, Invocation is certainly more varied than Dave Holland's Emerald Tears, and Dresser's performance will not fail to intrigue, astonish, and thoroughly impress those who listen. ~ Joslyn Layne


1. Trenchant
2. Threnody For Charles Mingus
3. Subtonium
4. Invocation
5. Trains
6. Threaded
7. Polystop For Multiple Solo Bass

Ferenc Fricsay Conducts Bartok

Every time I check, yet another important recording goes out of print. Here are some historically-important recordings from the early 1950's that should certainly remain available.

Biography of Ferenc Fricsay by Bruce Eder:

Ferenc Fricsay's career lasted barely 20 years, but during that time, he became one of the most acclaimed conductors of his generation and left behind a body of recordings that are still admired. Fricsay studied at the Budapest Academy of Music under both Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók, whose music he later championed. (continued in comments)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eric Satie - Socrate

Satie's 'Trois Gymnopedies' are so well known to the general public that even a twerp like Gary Numan has given their timeless melodies a mauling. Rather less popular is his long cantata 'Socrates'. This wonderful piece, at the same time serene and passionate and whose fragrant modal tunes and mechanical rhymes predate Glass and Reich by the best part of a century, forms the centrepiece of this collection of Satie's vocal music. Terrific. ~ Stuart Maconie in NME

Socrate is a work for voice and small orchestra (or piano) by Erik Satie. The text is composed of excerpts of Victor Cousin's translation of works by Plato, all of the chosen texts referring to Socrates.

The work was commissioned by Princess Edmond de Polignac in October 1916. The Princess had specified that female voices should be used: originally the idea had been that Satie would write incidental music to a performance where the Princess and/or some of her (female) friends would read aloud texts of the ancient Greek philosophers. As Satie, after all, was not so much in favour of melodrama-like settings, that idea was abandoned, and the text would be sung — be it in a more or less reciting way. However, the specification remained that only female voices could be used (for texts of dialogues that were supposed to have taken place between men). Satie, at the time, probably did not understand why the Princess was so attached to female voices: it was not until five years later that a first (and all in all minor) press scandal would reveal the Princess's lesbian nature.

Satie composed Socrate between January 1917 and the spring of 1918, with a revision of the orchestral score in October of that same year. During the first months he was working on the composition, he called it Vie de Socrate. In 1917 Satie was hampered by a lawsuit over an insulting postcard he had sent, which nearly resulted in prison time. The Princess diverted this danger by her financial intercession in the first months of 1918, after which Satie could work free of fear.

The three parts of the composition are:

1. Portrait de Socrate ("Portrait of Socrates"), text taken from Plato's Symposium
2. Les bords de l'Ilissus ("The banks of the Ilissus"), text taken from Plato's Phaedrus
3. Mort de Socrate ("Death of Socrates"), text taken from Plato's Phaedo

**Socrate**
Portrait de Socrate
Bords d'Illissus
Mort de Socrate

**Trois Melodies (1886)**
Les Anges
Elegie
Sylvie

**Trois Melodies (1916)**
Le Statue de Bronze
Dapheno
Le Chapelier

**Trois Autres Melodies**
Chanson
Chanson Medievale
Les Fleurs

**Quatres Petites Melodies**
Elegie
Danseuse
Chanson
Adieu

**Ludions**
Air du Rat
Spleen
Le Grenouille americaine
Air du Poete
Chanson du Chat

Dizzy Gillespie - Free Ride

Wakachickawakachickawakachicka, y'all.

Although Lalo Schifrin is justifiably praised for his soundtrack work, many jazz purists turn up their noses at his jazz dates, such as his '60s work with Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery. The things that make Schifrin an anathema to the diehards -- the huge orchestras, the pop and soul riffs, the general air of over the top theatricality -- are all over 1977's Free Ride, his reunion date with Dizzy Gillespie. (Schifrin had been Gillespie's arranger in the late '50s.) In fact, Free Ride is so painfully dated that it's transformed into cockeyed cool, just the sort of record ironic hipsters should listen to while they're reading the novelizations of '70s cop shows that they bought for a bundle off of eBay. Gillespie plays with his usual wit and panache, but most of the time, he sounds like a sideman on his own album; the real focus of Schifrin's arrangements is the funky wah-wah guitars and ARP synthesizer solos that take center stage on tracks like "Fire Dance" (which sounds exactly like it should be the theme for a Charlie's Angels spinoff) and the mellow disco of the closing "Last Stroke of Midnight." Occasionally, Gillespie gets to break out on his own album, with the lovely solo on "Love Poem for Donna" his particular standout. For what it is, Free Ride is really quite good (guests include Lee Ritenour and future star Ray Parker, Jr.), but it's very much a record of and for its time. ~ Stewart Mason


Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Lalo Schifrin (arranger, keyboards)
Oscar Brashear (trumpet)
Ray Parker, Jr. (guitar)
Lee Ritenour (guitar)
Wah Wah Watson (guitar)
Jerome Richardson (flute)
Paulinho Da Costa (percussion)
Wilton Felder (bass)
Others

1. Unicorn
2. Fire Dance
3. Incantation
4. Wrong Number
5. Free Ride
6. Ozone Madness
7. Love Poem For Donna
8. The Last Stroke Of Midnight


Hollywood: January 31 and February 1-2, 1977

Clifford Brown & Max Roach - Study In Brown (1955)

This CD reissue features the 1955 version of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, a group also including tenor-saxophonist Harold Land, pianist Richie Powell and bassist George Morrow. One of the premiere early hard bop units, this band had unlimited potential. Highlights of this set are "Cherokee" (during which trumpeter Brownie is brilliant), "Swingin"' and "Sandu." All of the group's recordings (which have been included in the Clifford Brown ten-CD box set) are well worth acquiring.

~ Scott Yanow







Clifford Brown (trumpet)
Max Roach (drums)
Harold Land (tenor saxophone)
George Morrow (bass)
Richie Powell (piano)

1. Cherokee
2. Jacqui
3. Swingin'
4. Lands End
5. George's Dilemma
6. Sandu
7. Gerkin For Perkin
8. If I Love Again
9. Take The A Train

The Modern Jazz Piano Album

During one of the changes of hands of the Savoy catalog, Clive Davis' new Arista label issued and re-issued some back dates, usually on vinyl since the CD was not yet the universal standard. Since that time, these LP re-issues have come to the CD format, largely because of yet another new owner, the Denon corporation. This is one of the better releases of some obscure gems that Savoy had sitting around. The 10" format made for a lot of half-a-CD releases; Blue Note's Connoisseur 10" series was one way of re-packaging, and Savoy's stringing together various (excellent) dates thematically is another. As with some of the Savoy LP to CD issues, the artwork is impossible to read transfers of the already small print on the LP cover - I included these as a pdf file to allow easier magnifying. Ain't I a doll? By the way, another 9 or 10 Bebop Boys tunes will be on a soon to be uploaded Kenny Dorham Savoy retrospective.

"Six of the top pianists of the bop and slightly postbop era are featured on this attractive two-LP set drawn from the Savoy vaults and put out by Arista in the late '70s. Bud Powell is featured on three songs (all alternate takes) with the Bebop Boys (a quintet with trumpeter Kenny Dorham and altoist Sonny Stitt), the innovative Lennie Tristano has five numbers with his 1947 trio, the long-neglected Herbie Nichols is heard on four obscure sides as is Dodo Marmarosa while George Wallington's trio (with bassist Curly Russell and Max Roach) stretches out on eight songs. The highly recommended (but out-of-print) two-fer concludes with three extended songs from a quintet led by drummer Kenny Clarke and featuring pianist Horace Silver, trumpeter Donald Byrd and altoist John LaPorta. Although the Clarke date has its weak moments, the music overall on this reissue is quite rewarding and often historic." ~ Scott Yanow

1-3
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Sonny Stitt (alto sax)
Bud Powell (piano)
Al Hall (bass)
Wallace Bishop (drums)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
New York: August 23, 1946

4-7
Lennie Tristano (piano)
Billy Bauer (guitar)
John Levy (bass)
New York: October 23, 1947

6-11
Herbie Nichols (piano)
Danny Parker(?) (guitar)
Chocolate Williams (bass, vocal)
Shadow Wilson (drums)
New York: March 6, 1952

12-15
Dodo Marmarosa (piano)
Curly Russell (bass)
Joe Wallace (drums)
Pittsburgh: July 21, 1950

16-19
George Wallington (piano)
Curly Russell (bass)
Max Roach (drums)
New York: November 21, 1951

20-22
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Horace Silver (piano)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
John LaPorta (alto sax)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Hackensack: January 30, 1956

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Coleman Hawkins - The Complete Keynote Recordings

One of the glories of box sets is the original set of LPs (21?) that comprised The Complete Keynote Collection (done by Kiyoshi Koyama who did the Clifford Brown just posted). The set has been released on CD in bits and pieces, and I have been looking for this for a long while. I paid a bundle for it, but I'll tell you now that it's worth every cent, and is one of the best things ever posted at this or the earlier sites. Previously posted were the Red Norvo, Lennie Tristano, and Benny Carter - this is the best yet, and I don't expect any others of the series to exceed this one. The discussion on Modernism can begin here.

Subtitled "The Complete Coleman Hawkins," the 61 songs on these four CDs represent Hawkins' complete output for Keynote Records recorded between January and December of 1944 with Teddy Wilson and Earl Hines as part of the Coleman Hawkins Quintet, the Cozy Cole All-Stars, Coleman Hawkins and His Sax Ensemble and the All-American Four, Charlie Shavers' All American Five, and George Wettling's New Yorkers -- Hawkins and Wettling's first contact went back close to 20 years, to the Roseland Ballroom. At the time, Hawkins had given up trying to make it as the leader of a big band, and had returned to playing with small groups in the clubs along New York's 52nd Street. A joint project of PolyGram and Nippon Phonogram of Japan, this set is loaded with previously unissued takes and tracks from Hawkins' Keynote library, which also features Roy "Little Jazz" Eldridge and Billy Taylor. From the opening bars of two different previously unissued takes of "I Only Have Eyes For You," the set shows its worth, presenting outtakes that are equal in value to any of their released counterparts -- Wilson and Hawkins perform superbly on all three versions, with markedly different performances on each, pretty much representing the way all of the outtakes here are fully justified. Each disc has more than its share of worthwhile rarities and previously unreleased cuts, and one leads into the next so well that it is difficult to take in just one of the these four discs at a time. From Disc Two onward, there is also more improvisation than one is accustomed to in jazz recordings if this era, owing to the fact that many of the sessions used the 12-inch master disc format, which allowed for just over five minutes' playing time, nearly 60% more than the usual three minutes-and-change, giving all of the players a chance to stretch out in ways closer to their usual stage and radio performances (though I wouldn't change the various three-minute versions of "Bean at the Met" on Disc One for any amount of money). The sound is generally superb, with an intimate, live-in-the-studio ambience and very little in the way of noise, considering the age of the recordings (no enhanced noise reduction of any kind has been used on this set). ~ Bruce Eder

Clifford Brown - Best Coast Jazz

Released in 1955 on long playing disc ( the shortest tune here is just over 17 minutes) these are the jams the musicians did in studio before cutting the shorter commercial releases - you can hear the shouts of the studio staff during particularly good phrases. The solos Brownie takes are longer than most of the tunes he recorded and released.

The music on this out-of-print Trip LP has been reissued on CD, most notably in a ten-CD set of Clifford Brown's EmArcy recordings. This particular album features an all-star group with trumpeter Brown, the altos of Herb Geller and Joe Maini, Walter Benton on tenor, pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Curtis Counce and drummer Max Roach. They perform two lengthy numbers, a medium-tempo blues "Coronado" and the ballad "You Go to My Head." "Coronado" is climaxed by an exciting tradeoff by the four horns that gets down to two beats apiece! "You Go to My Head" has fine solos all around but Brownie's closing statement cuts everyone. ~ Scott Yanow


Clifford Brown (trumpet)
Herb Geller (alto sax)
Joe Maini (alto sax)
Walter Benton (tenor sax)
Kenny Drew (piano)
Curtis Counce (bass)
Max Roach (drums)


1. Coronado
2. You Go To My Head

Capitol Studios, Los Angeles: August 11, 1954

Eric Dolphy - Stockholm Sessions (1961)

The music on this CD (the original LP program plus a second version of "Sorino") is taken from a radio aircheck and a TV special, both originating from Stockholm. The remarkable Eric Dolphy (switching between alto, bass clarinet, and flute) performed two of his originals plus "Don't Blame Me" with a sympathetic quartet on the aircheck while the television show (does this film still exist?) features him in a quintet with trumpeter Idrees Sulieman playing three more originals, Mal Waldron's "Alone," and his unaccompanied bass clarinet feature "God Bless the Child." This innovative music can serve as a strong introduction of Eric Dolphy's talents to bebop fans who have not yet grasped the avant-garde. ~ Scott Yanow






Eric Dolphy (flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone)
Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
Knud Jörgensen (piano)
Rune Öfwerman (piano)
Jimmy Woode (bass)
Sture Kallin (drums)

1. Loss
2. Sorino
3. Ann
4. God Bless The Child
5. Alone
6. Geewee
7. Don't Blame Me
8. Sorino (alternate take)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gary Burton Quintet - Dreams So Real

The music of Carla Bley. I was going to post this alongside Dizzy Gillespie's Free Ride, as examples of guilty pleasures. Then I realized I don't feel guilty listening to this at all. This is one of my first jazz purchases, first ECM purchases, and I think the cover and title are perfectly matched.

Having explored country, free jazz, blues and funk during his tenure with RCA and Atlantic, Burton was positively liberated by the spatial production values and experimental inclinations of German producer Manfred Eicher. This resulted in an eruption of influential recordings. Together they helped launch a new, more cerebral era of, for want of a better word, fusion.

Arguably the best of his many excellent ensembles, the quintet featured on DREAMS SO REAL is anchored by the rhythm section of bass guitarist Steve Swallow and drummer Bob Moses, veterans of Burton's '60s quartets on RCA. However, by the time of this recording, Moses had perfected a solid time sense and a diverse array of expressive timbres to go with his splashy, combustible polyrhythms. Swallow, meanwhile, had given up the bass violin in favor of the bass guitar, and throughout DREAMS SO REAL he demonstrates a refined touch and remarkable aptitude for cyclical harmonies quite unlike any other bass guitarist. The guitar team of Mick Goodrick and Pat Metheny is less omnipresent on DREAMS SO REAL than on previous quintet releases. Here the focus is on the expressive compositions of pianist Carla Bley, and on the leader's remarkable array of harmonic devices and melodic inflections. It's a perfect match: witness Burton's tolling, poignant reading of her "Jesus Maria," and the band's serene swing on the waltzing "Intermission Music."

As a composer, Bley is a superb melodist, with a sly harmonic logic and a caustic sense of humor. On the medley "Ictus/Syndrome/Wrong Key Donkey" she moves from Cecil Taylor-like outbursts, to a celebratory vamp figure, to Monkish swing. Monk rears his head again on "Doctor" where Burton essays joyous variations with a hint of blues, and he transcends the chilly precision of the vibes with bell-like grace on the gospelish southwestern dances of "Vox Humana."


Gary Burton (vibes)
Mick Goodrich (guitar)
Pat Metheny (guitar)
Steve Swallow (bass)
Bob Moses (drums)

1. Dreams So Real
2. Ictus/Syndrome
3. Jesus Maria
4. Vox Humana
5. Doctor
6. Intermission Music

Recorded at Studio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany in December 1975

Gary Burton Quintet With Eberhard Weber - Ring (1974)

More Friday Fusion.....

For me, Gary Burton's abilities are best expressed when he is interpreting the works of others. This is one of my favorite examples of him doing so that also falls within the broad parameters of fusion.




Gary Burton (vibraharp)
Michael Goodrick (guitar)
Pat Metheny (guitar, electric 12-string guitar)
Steve Swallow (bass)
Bob Moses (percussion)
Eberhard Weber (bass)



1. Mevlevia (Mick Goodrick)
2. Unfinished Sympathy (Mike Gibbs)
3. Tunnel Of Love (Mike Gibbs )
4. Intrude (Mike Gibbs)
5. Silent Spring (Carla Bley)
6. The Colours Of Chloe (Eberhard Weber)

VIDEO: Bobby McFerrin at the Marciac JF 2008

Scat singing at its finest. But why the word "scat"?
From The New Grove's Dictionary of Jazz:
Scat singing. A technique of jazz Singing in which onomatopoeic or nonsense syllables are sung to improvised melodies. Some writers have traced scat singing back to the practice, common in West African musics, of translating percussion patterns into vocal lines by assigning syllables to characteristic rhythms. However, (continued in comments)

Erroll Garner and Billy Taylor - Separate Keyboards

The Taylor tracks were on the previously posted Chronological (Billy Taylor 1945-1949), and the first Garner track on the also posted Chronological (1949) - the session was 13 tunes and the other 12 can be found on the Chrono. The other five Garner tracks here can be found on the 1949-1950 Garner Chrono. This is a roundabout way of saying you may have these already.

For this CD (put out by the Japanese Denon label), there are six selections apiece from pianists Erroll Garner and Billy Taylor. The Garner titles (which are also available elsewhere) are rhapsodic ballads that are both melodic and whimsical. The Taylor sides include the four songs that he cut at his very first session as a leader (March 20, 1945) plus two cuts made with a quintet (comprised of tenor saxophonist Jon Hardee, organist Milt Page, bassist John Simmons and drummer Shadow Wilson) in 1949. Despite the brief playing time (just 36 minutes) and lazy packaging (which includes three major misspellings on the back cover), the music is enjoyable and worth picking up if it can be found at a budget price. ~ Scott Yanow


Erroll Garner (piano)
John Simmons (bass)
Leonard Gaskin (bass)
Alvin Stohler (drums)
Charlie Smith (drums)
Recorded in March and August 1949.


Billy Taylor (piano)
John Hardee (tenor sax)
Milt Page (organ)
Al Hall (bass)
John Simmons (bass)
Jimmy Clowford (drums)
Shadow Wilson (drums)
Recorded on March 20, 1945 and November 20, 1949


1. Cottage For Sale
2. Rosalie
3. Everything Happens To Me
4. Stairway To The Stars
5. September Song
6. All The Things You Are
7. Mad Monk
8. Solace
9. Night And Day
10. Alexander's Ragtime Band
11. Misty Morning Blues
12. The Bug

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Frank Foster and George Wallington - Frank Foster and George Wallington

One of the Connoisseur 10" series, which combines two of the old 10" disc releases of the '50s, before the advent of the longer playing discs: the albums are properlyHere Comes Frank Foster and George Wallington Showcase. These two were chosen, I imagine, because Frank Foster appears in both sessions: Klook does too.

Compiling two ultrarare 1954 sessions reissued on Blue Note's Connoisseur 10-inch Series, this disc includes Here Comes Frank Foster, the Count Basie-ite saxophonist's debut as a leader, and George Wallington Showcase, a solid septet date fronted by the Sicilian-born pianist that also includes Foster in its ranks. Foster's a bold bopper, very articulate, hard-toned, and swinging, and he's ably assisted by trombonist Benny Powell and a rhythm team that includes Modern Jazz Quartet bassist Percy Heath and drummer Kenny Clarke. (Tech note: phasing problems crop up on the cymbals on "Little Red" and "Blues for Benny," an unusual misstep for engineer Rudy van Gelder.) The Wallington sides are smoother. The pianist's "Christina" verges on lite-snoozy territory, with swank big-bandish arrangements by Quincy Jones--uncharacteristic for Blue Note, though Foster shines here, too. ~ John Corbett

This double reissue combines saxophonist Frank Foster's first U.S. recording and a session led by pianist George Wallington that took place one week later with Foster sitting in. Recorded for Blue Note in Hackensack, NJ, on May 5, 1954, Here Comes Frank Foster (also issued as New Faces, New Sounds) was only Foster's second album as a leader. His debut album was recorded one month earlier for the Vogue label in Paris, France. Here Comes Frank Foster fits neatly with other albums from the mid-'50s Blue Note catalog. Foster shares the spotlight with trombonist Benny Powell, and the rhythm section of Gildo Mahones, Percy Heath, and Kenny Clarke is superb. On tracks eight through 17, Foster is heard as a member of the George Wallington Showcase band, recorded for Blue Note on May 12, 1954. This solid little organization included James Moody's ace trumpeter Dave Burns, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, baritone saxophonist Danny Bank, bassist Oscar Pettiford, and, once again, drummer Kenny "Klook" Clarke. Arrangements were scored by Quincy Jones. This straight-ahead hard bop is tasty and stimulating. Use the four alternate takes for a chaser.

1-7
Frank Foster (tenor sax)
Benny Powell (trombone)
Gildo Mahones (piano)
Percy Heath (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Hackensack, New Jersey: May 5, 1954

8-17
George Wallington (piano)
Frank Foster (tenor sax)
Dave Burns (trumpet)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Danny Bank (baritone sax, flute)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Quincy Jones (arr)
Audio-Video Studios, New York: May 12, 1954

1. Little Red
2. How I Spent The Night
3. Blues For Benny
4. Out Of Nowhere
5. Gracias
6. The Heat's On
7. How I Spent The Night
8. Frankie And Johnny
9. Baby Grand
10. Christina
11. Summertime
12. Festival
13. Bumpkins
14. Frankie And Johnny
15. Summertime
16. Festival
17. Bumpkins

Jimmy Lyons and Andrew Cyrille - Burnt Offering

If Charlie Parker had a true heir - in the sense of someone interested in getting interest on the inheritance, rather than merely preserving the principal - it was Jimmy Lyons. Compared to his light-fingered onrush, most of the bop epigoni sound deeply conservative. He didn't have the greatest tone in the world, though it seems rather odd to describe a saxophonist's tone as 'reedy' as if that were an insult. Lyon's delivery was always light and remarkably without ego. ... Among the most fruitful encounters of Lyon's sadly under-documented career were his duos with Cyrille, a fellow-alumnus of the Cecil Taylor Academy. Cyrille is a one man orchestra, conjuring layered energies ... 'Exotique' ... is a wonderfully structured and emotionally committed performance ... superb examples of two masters in full flight." ~ Penguin Guide


Jimmy Lyons (alto sax)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)


1. Popp-A
2. Exotique
3. Burnt Offering

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Miles Davis - Walkin' (Japanese 1st Pressing)

This is an album that is easy to find on the internet, but this is, apparently, a scarce audiophile release; a rare Japanese 1st pressing from 1986.


The undeniable strength and conviction present in Miles Davis' performance on Walkin', underscores the urgency and passion with which he would rightfully reclaim his status as a primary architect of bop. Davis is supported by his all-stars, consisting of his primary rhythm unit: Horace Silver (piano), Percy Heath (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums). The sextet featured on the title track, as well as "Blue 'n' Boogie," adds the talents of J.J. Johnson (trombone) and Lucky Thompson (tenor sax). Davis' quintet includes the primary trio and Dave Schildkraut (alto sax). Perhaps not an instantly recognizable name, Schildkraut nonetheless made some notable contributions to Stan Kenton's Kenton Showcase EPs, concurrent with his work with Miles. Walkin' commences with the extended title track, which follows a standard 12-bar blues theme. While the solos from Johnson and Thomson are unique, Miles retains a palpable sense of extrication from the music -- as if the song was an extension of his solo instead of the other way around. The lethargic rhythms reiterate the subtle adornments of the horn section to the basic trio. In direct contrast to "Walkin'" is a full-tilt jumper, "Blue 'n' Boogie." The improvisation yields some truly memorable solos and exchanges between Davis and Johnson -- who can be heard clearly quoting from Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning." "Solar" maintains a healthy tempo while drawing the listener in to the delicate interplay where the solos often dictate the melody. Horace Silver's piano solo is Ellington-esque in it's subdued elegance. The final track, "Love Me or Leave Me," gives the most solid indication of the direction Miles' impending breakthrough would take. So swift and certain is each note of his solo, it reflects the accuracy of someone thinking several notes ahead of what he is playing. Walking (sic) is a thoroughly solid effort. ~ Lindsay Planer


This bop-era classic finds trumpeter Miles Davis (1926-91) leading two groups from two sessions in April 1954: a superb sextet and a compelling quintet. Both groups center on a blue-chip rhythm section consisting of pianist Horace Silver, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Kenny Clarke. But despite the rock solid foundation and substantial decoration these three provide, Walkin' is all about the horn players. Trombonist J.J. Johnson and tenor saxist Lucky Thompson (returning to music after the first of one of his absences) help Davis helm the sextet for Richard Carpenter's title song - a 12-bar blues that turned into a genuine jazz standard after its first reading here - and Dizzy Gillespie's "Blue 'N' Boogie." The quintet, featuring the Bird-like alto of the little known Dave Schildkraut, takes leave of the blues for some of Davis's craftiest playing — interestingly, hereafter, with his trumpet muted. Starting with "Solar," the group seems to be able to handle whatever trick Davis plays any quirk he pursues. This is most apparent on the lovely, but rather spiky version of "You Don't Know What Love Is" and the set's closer, the surprisingly sprite "Love Me Or Leave Me." Throughout, Davis sounds grand: comfortable, authoritative and well within his gamely element. His partners seem well teamed with him too, ready to walk - or run — to Davis's beat. Walkin' offers at least two jazz essentials ("Walkin'," "Solar") and it serves as an excellent place to begin — or continue — appreciating the trumpeter's bop significance, shortly before he contributed greatly elsewhere. ~ Douglas Payne


Miles Davis (trumpet)
Horace Silver (piano)
Lucky Thompson (tenor sax)
Dave Schildkraut (alto sax)
J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Percy Heath (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)

1. Walkin'
2. Blue 'N' Boogie
3. Solar
4. You Don't Know What Love Is
5. Love Me Or Leave Me

Monday, February 2, 2009

George Cables - Morning Song

Jurek gets disconcerted, apparently, when the intervals aren't pastelate.

Morning Song is a compelling portrait of pianist George Cables. Best known as a sideman for his work with everyone from Art Pepper and Woody Shaw to Dexter Gordon and Bobby Hutcherson, Cables has nonetheless amassed a sizable catalog as a leader. This date, issued on High Note in 2008, was recorded in 1980 at the famed Keystone Korner in San Francisco. Cables is featured in two different contexts here, and judging by the sound of the recording, it comes from two different gigs. Cables plays solo on six of the ten cuts here. They range from standards like "Who Can I Turn To," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," "As Time Goes By," and "I Remember Clifford," to a pair of tunes by Bobby Hutcherson: "Stroll" and "Little B's Poem." These performances are simply stellar, and in places breathtaking. Cables is one of the great rhythmic pianists out there who seamlessly weaves the long jazz piano tradition of players like Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson into the work of more percussive and strident improvisers like Jaki Byard and even Randy Weston. The Hutcherson titles are especially rewarding, as his own rhythmic attack and deep blues feeling are articulated through his command of the post-bop canon. On the four remaining selections, Eddie Henderson, bassist John Heard, and drummer Sherman Ferguson accompany Cables. And here's where the trouble lies: the music is more than sufficient throughout, but the sequencing feels like this was pieced together from a number of performances. The sound quality in places is dodgy -- particularly on the drums, which sound all hissy, with a load of mic sheen. An ensemble tune precedes three solo numbers, then come two more group performances, followed by two more solos and ending with an ensemble tune. Joe Fields of all people should know better. The flow of this CD is uneven, jaunty, and lacks continuity. While the performances are flawless throughout and the set swings like mad, the strangeness of the dynamics make it difficult to listen to all the way through. ~ Thom Jurek

George Cables (piano)
Eddie Henderson (trumpet)
John Heard (bass)
Sherman Ferguson (drums)


1. On Green Dolphin Street
2. Who Can I Turn To ?
3. Stroll
4. I Remember Clifford
5. Morning Song
6. Up Jumped Spring
7. Little B's Poem
8. As Time Goes By
9. Quiet Fire
10. Polka Dots And Moonbeams

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Joe McPhee - In Finland

On the surface, In Finland’s trio (McPhee, bassist Dominic Duval and pianist Matt Shipp) might give one pause for thought. While Shipp and McPhee played together previously on D.J. Spooky’s Optometry (it wasn’t a particularly riveting meeting), Duval had never recorded with Shipp. However, the three blend beautifully, clearly on the same wavelength. The bulk of “Never Before” dwells in free improvisation before McPhee starts toying with phrases from “My Funny Valentine”. The cues are picked up by Duval and Shipp and before long a stunning and lengthy dissection of the piece ensues. By the same token, on “Never Again” Duval starts his bass solo with phrases from “Straight, No Chaser” and Shipp and McPhee pick that up and the piece turns into a Monk medley. McPhee sticks to pocket trumpet and soprano sax on this date. Shipp’s harmonically dense pianistics combined with Duval’s rhythmically charged bass work provide the perfect foils for McPhee’s two ‘lightest’ instruments. But don’t confuse lightness for insubstantiality. McPhee can take a line, start it with an acrobat’s litheness, then build it to remarkable intensity. This is yet another exceptional date. Hope this trio wasn’t a one-shot thing. Robert Iannapollo


Joe McPhee (soprano sax, pocket trumpet)
Matthew Shipp (piano)
Dominic Duval (bass)


1 - Never Before
2 - Never Again
3 - In Finland

Maxine Sullivan - Moments Like This

A subtle and lightly swinging jazz singer, Maxine Sullivan's delivery was very likable, and she did justice to all of the lyrics she sang during her long career. After moving to New York, Sullivan sang during intermissions at the Onyx Club and was discovered by pianist Claude Thornhill. Thornhill recorded her with a sympathetic septet singing a couple of standards and two Scottish folk songs performed in swinging fashion — "Annie Laurie" and "Loch Lomond." The latter became a big hit and Sullivan's signature song for the rest of her career. Future sessions found her singing vintage folk tunes such as "I Dream Of Jeanie", "Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes" and "If I Had A Ribbon Bow". Even if lightning did not strike twice, she was now a popular attraction.


A subtle and lightly swinging jazz singer, Maxine Sullivan's delivery was very likable, and she did justice to all of the lyrics she sang during her long career. After moving to New York, Sullivan sang during intermissions at the Onyx Club and was discovered by pianist Claude Thornhill. Thornhill recorded her with a sympathetic septet singing a couple of standards and two Scottish folk songs performed in swinging fashion -- "Annie Laurie" and "Loch Lomond." The latter became a big hit and Sullivan's signature song for the rest of her career.

Future sessions found her singing vintage folk tunes such as "Darling Nellie Gray," "I Dream of Jeanie," "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes" and "If I Had a Ribbon Bow." Even if lightning did not strike twice, she was now a popular attraction. She appeared briefly in the movie Going Places opposite Louis Armstrong and in the Broadway show +Swingin' the Dream. From 1940-42, Sullivan often sang with her husband, bassist John Kirby's Sextet, a perfect outlet for her cool sound. She starred for two years on a radio series, Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm; she had a reasonably successful solo career, and then in the mid-'50s (similar to Alberta Hunter) became a trained nurse. In 1968, the singer began making a comeback, performing at festivals and even playing a little bit of valve trombone and flugelhorn. Now married to pianist Cliff Jackson, Sullivan (whose style and appealing voice were unchanged from earlier years) sometimes appeared with the World's Greatest Jazz Band, and she recorded frequently. During her later period, she often sang with mainstream jazz groups, including Scott Hamilton's. Quite fittingly, the last song that she ever recorded in concert was the same as her first record, "Loch Lomond." Maxine Sullivan's earliest recordings are available on a Classics CD. A Tono LP has some of her mid-period recordings, and from 1969 on, she recorded for Monmouth Evergreen (reissued on Audiophile), Fat Cat Jazz, Riff, Kenneth, Stash, Atlantic and Concord. ~ Scott Yanow


Maxine Sullivan (vocal)
Benny Carter (alto sax)
Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Don Byas (tenor sax)
Bud Freeman (tenor sax)
Buster Bailey (clarinet)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Shorty Rogers (trumpet)
Billy Kyle (piano)
Neal Hefti (trumpet)
Tony Scott (clarinet)
John Kirby (bass)
Buddy Rich (drums)
Others

Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa - Madrigali Libro II - VI - Quintetto Vocale Italiano

My post last spring of the Hilliard Ensemble singing the Sabbato Sancto is still seeing frequent downloads, so there must be some fans of Carlo Gesualdo out there. Here we have a hard-to-find recording from Italy, books 2-6 of the madrigals for 5 voices, in 5 CDs. For those who couldn't tell a madrigal from a motet, there is a most illuminating essay by Aldous Huxley in the package, which will fill you in on both the composer and the technicalities of this astounding music of the late 16th Century.

JATP All-Stars at the Opera House (1957) [LP > FLAC]

This obscure Verve LP (not yet reissued on CD) has an attractive cover with photos of the 15 remarkable all-stars who are featured on the live date. There are only three songs on the album, and they feature two different groups. The opening "The Slow Blues" is just OK, with rather perfunctory solos, but its follow-up, the "I Got Rhythm"-based "Merry Go Round," has some strong sparks. Heard from on these tunes are Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet and Flip Phillips on tenors, altoist Sonny Stitt, pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Herb Ellis, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jo Jones. Jacquet, who concludes "Merry Go Round," easily takes honors. The flip side of the album has a lengthy version of "Stuffy" (based on "Lady Be Good") with trumpeter Roy Eldridge (who starts his solo with some fireworks), Coleman Hawkins and Stan Getz on tenors, trombonist J.J. Johnson, pianist John Lewis, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Connie Kay. Eldridge and Getz largely steal the show. Overall, this is a worthwhile LP, although it does not quite reach the heights of the best JATP shows. - Scott Yanow

Ripped from the 1962 LP reissue.

Lester Young, Illinois Jaquet, Flip Phillips (tenor sax)
Sonny Stitt (alto sax)
Oscar Peterson (piano)
Herb Ellis (guitar)
Ray Brown (bass)
Jo Jones (drums)
Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, October 25, 1957

1. The Slow Blues
2. Merry-Go-Round

Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz (tenor sax)
John Lewis (piano)
Percy Heath (bass)
Connie Kay (drums)
Opera House, Chicago, October 19, 1957

3. Stuffy