Saturday, January 31, 2009

Duke Ellington - The Treasury Shows Vol. 5

This two-CD set, like others in the Treasury Show series, compiles several programs aired during 1945. With a mix of hits from the vast Ellington songbook, pop songs, a few obscurities, and even a few war bond promos read somewhat nervously by Duke Ellington himself, these live sets might not exactly be programmed like a typical band set during that timeframe, but the music is enjoyable. Johnny Hodges, the star alto saxophonist, shines in "Mood to be Wooed," while the brisk "Blues on the Double" showcases new trumpeter Cat Anderson scorching the stratosphere complemented by Al Sears' lively tenor sax. Harry Carney is featured on bass clarinet in the little known "Walking With My Honey," while Ray Nance jives his way through the vocals to "Riff Staccato." There are a number of vocal features for the likes of Joya Sherrill, Kay Davis, Marie Ellington, and Al Hibbler. But it is hard to top the swinging finale of the second disc, a rousing "C Jam Blues." These well-recorded transcriptions provided excellent source material for this recommended compilation. ~ Ken Dryden

Duke Ellington (piano)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Cat Anderson (trumpet)
Ray Nance (trumpet, violin)
Rex Stewart (trumpet)
Billy Strayhorn (piano)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Al Hibbler (vocal)

European Guitar

John Lewis and Sacha Distel - Afternoon In Paris

It was in Paris that John Lewis co-led this 1956 date with Sacha Distel, a French guitarist who never became well-known in the U.S. but commanded a lot of respect in French jazz circles. The same can be said about the other French players employed on Afternoon in Paris -- neither tenor saxophonist Barney Wilen nor bassist Pierre Michelot were huge names in the U.S., although both were well-known in European jazz circles. With Lewis on piano, Distel on guitar, Wilen on tenor, Michelot or Percy Heath on bass, and Kenny Clarke or Connie Kay on drums, the part-American, part-French group of improvisers provides an above-average bop album that ranges from "Willow Weep for Me," "All The Things You Are," and "I Cover the Waterfront" to Milt Jackson's "Bags' Groove" and Lewis' title song. The big-toned Wilen was only 19 when Afternoon in Paris was recorded, but as his lyrical yet hard-swinging solos demonstrate, he matured quickly as a saxman. It should be noted that all of the Americans on this album had been members of the Modern Jazz Quartet; the only MJQ member who isn't on board is vibist Jackson. Originally released by Atlantic, Afternoon in Paris was finally reissued on CD in 1999 after being out of print for many years. ~ Alex Henderson

John Lewis (piano)
Sacha Distel (guitar)
Barney Wilen (tenor sax)
Percy Heath (bass)
Pierre Michelot (bass)
Connie Kay (drums)
Kenny Clarke (drums)

1. I Cover The Waterfront
2. Dear Old Stockholm
3. Afternoon In Paris
4. All The Things You Are
5. Bags' Groove
6. Willow Weep For Me

Caspar Brötzmann Massaker - Koksofen

Among the many things that can be said about Caspar Brötzmann's power trio Massaker, one is that it sounds like no other band on the planet. From the first dirty, warped guitar strum, listeners know whose world they have ventured into. There are times when he appears to have taken a page from Japanese guitarist Keiji Haino's band Fushitsusha in terms of a certain loose and expansive quality, but Brötzmann's sound revolves much more around a throbbing, almost tribal rhythmic sense, a conception echoed in his cover drawings with their allusions to the cave paintings at Altamira. The opening track here, "Hymne," is one of his most powerful and successful, from the initial scratchings and feedback whorls to the irresistible grooves riding beneath his hyper-fuzzed and bathed-in-overtones guitar. The subsequent tracks follow the same general form, with length enough to allow both frequent shifts in approach (often beginning in a slow haze and then suddenly focusing) and ample time for Brötzmann's dark ruminations. As on previous albums, the music is largely instrumental; whatever vocals here are delivered in a slurred, guttural fashion that blends in seamlessly with the accompaniment. The title track translates into "Coke Oven" and the piece spends the entirety of its 16 minutes in a stark and chilling representation of an acrid, claustrophobic industrial cavern, suffused with harsh poundings and reverberations. This one composition alone puts most "industrial" bands to shame. Recommended. ~ Brian Olewnick

Caspar Brötzmann (guitar)
Eduardo Delgado Lopez (bass)
Danny Arnold Lommen (drums)

1. Hymne
2. Wiege
3. Kerkersong
4. Schlaf
5. Koksofen

George Cables - Phantom of the City (1985) [LP > FLAC]

So what attributes does an album need to have to be considered for a CD reissue? Well known artist? Major label? Good reviews? His other two releases for Contemporary are available on CD but not this one. I'm not sure what's missing here, but this is another LP that hasn't found its way into the digital age. I don't mind too much because the value of my LP keeps going up, but this is music that others should have access to as well.

A sampling of the critical response to Phantom of the City:

"George Cables has been one of the most effective team players in jazz. . . and he's a leader of sensitivity and substance. No ghost with his clean, crisp writing and churning styles, Cables flashes forth with a trio date of brilliance and élan." - Down Beat

"Cables is a two-fisted pianist. . . [and he] plays his melodies with a flourish, almost a swagger. . . . There are no weak moments on either side and. . . these cuts really swing." - Cadence

"A hard-charging yet lyrical collection that is as understated as it exciting. . . . The ideas flow from Cables to his sidemen with a marvelous ease and grace." - Will Smith, Omaha World-Herald

"He has a dancing, energetic piano style; he brings an expansive openness to his harmonies, a gritty grace to his most rapid passages. . . . [Phantom of the City is] lively, engaging, and Cables' most mature music yet." - Neil Tesser, USA Today

"A carefully organized record that showcases his versatility, crisp technique and warm feeling in a variety of moods." - Bruce Nixon, Dallas Times-Herald

"Cables' piano continues to be an important force in post-bop mainstream jazz." - Chris Colombi, Cleveland Plain Dealer

For this trio set with bassist John Heard and drummer Tony Williams, pianist George Cables is in excellent form on two standards, four of his originals and the little-known "Waltz for Monday." Cables has long been a talented player in what could be called the "modern mainstream": not breaking down any new boundaries but developing his own style in the flexible boundaries of hard bop. This album is an excellent example of his talents. - Scott Yanow

George Cables (piano)
John Heard (bass)
Tony Williams (drums)
  1. Phantom of the City
  2. Old Folks
  3. But He Knows
  4. Dark Side/Light Side
  5. Waltz for Monday
  6. Blue Nights
  7. You Stepped Out of a Dream
Recorded May 14-15, 1985

Jim Hall - Subsequently

Yet another great album 'discontinued by the manufacturer'. Here, it is continued!

Review by Ken Dryden
Jim Hall's third CD for Musicmasters is the usual excellent mix of well-crafted originals and thoughtfully-arranged standards that one has come to expect from the veteran guitarist. It also marks the addition of young keyboardist Larry Goldings and the recording debut of a promising young Danish tenor saxophonist Rasmus Lee. The leader's "Subsequently" is an immediately infectious song that kicks off the release, while "Pancho" is a captivating bossa nova with a few twists thrown in, and "Waiting to Dance" is a brisk waltz that has a few detours into post-bop. Hall's also covers his wife's tasty composition "The Answer Is Yes" once again. Standard fare includes a gracefully swinging "I'm in the Mood for Love" and a foot-tapping "More Than You Know"; harmonica player Toots Thielemans is a special guest on his own upbeat "Waltz for Sonny." With the demise of Musicmasters, this highly recommended CD could soon turn into a hard to find collectable, so it merits immediate an immediate search.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cal Massey - Blues To Coltrane

Cal Massey came up in discussion at another site, and he is another musician well worth re-visiting, if not for his performance then certainly for his compositions.

This is the only recording by the luckless, quasi-legendary trumpeter-composer Cal Massey, whose elliptical, often anonymous career can be a challenge to piece together. Some close followers of the music are aware of the late musician, at least by name, because of "These Are Soulful Days," a composition programmed by trumpeter Lee Morgan (Lee-Way, Blue Note, 1960) and subsequently recorded by pianist Benny Green and organists Don Patterson and Joey DeFrancesco. For others, the name registers because of pianist Stanley Cowell's composition "Cal Massey," one of the tracks on saxophonist Clifford Jordan's scintillating and indispensable Glass Bead Games.

The present recording appears to have been made in 1961 for Nat Hentoff's Candid Records, when Massey was 32. It was immediately lost and forgotten, then rediscovered and released for the first time, posthumously, in 1987. As for Massey, he died of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 43, the night after he had seen the preview performance of Lady Day: A Musical Tragedy, to which he had contributed several songs.

Listening to this new edition is an experience of great ambivalence. The music is as original as it is conventional and accessible. It's as well played as it is occasionally somewhat ragged and amateurish in its construction and execution. Jimmy Garrison's bass on "Blues to Coltrane" gets the proceedings off to a strong, reassuring start, but his resonant sound subsequently gets lost in the audio mix until a second unaccompanied walking bass solo later in the program. Massey's trumpet at times reveals a minimalist quality reminiscent of Miles Davis' seminal Walkin' session (Prestige 1954). Julius Watkins' French horn proves a gratuitous solo instrument, limiting the already brief playing time of the leader. Patti Bown, despite her impressive credits, is on this occasion a "dabbling" pianist (on an out-of-tune piano at that), her feathery touch making it difficult to appreciate her contributions or even to distinguish her comping from her soloing.

The revelation on the date is a tenor player by the name of Hugh Brodie, who sounds closer to John Coltrane than any number of players who have provoked the comparison. In fact, on "These Are Soulful Days," it's likely many listeners would guess Coltrane in a blindfolded heartbeat—he's that close to the legendary tenor giant in terms of his technique, harmonic-melodic conceptions and, above all, intense, gripping sound.

Blues to Coltrane will strike many as a dismissible album, though it's very likely a touchstone to the music and life of Cal Massey—undeniably sad yet intermittently satisfying—delicate, frail, vulnerable yet possessing unmistakable honesty and self-candor (twice during his solos he quotes "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen," and he can be heard scolding himself when he misses a note).

If nothing else, the recording helps keep alive the name "Cal Massey," even if the man himself remains a shadowy and inscrutable figure, forever inviting questions that seem to go to the heart of the jazz life itself. ~ Samuel Chell

Cal Massey (trumpet)
Julius Watkins (French horn)
Hugh Brodie (tenor sax)
Patti Bown (piano)
Jimmy Garrison (bass)
G.T. Hogan (drums)

1. Blues to Coltrane
2. What's Wrong?
3. Bakai
4. These Are Soulful Days
5. Father and Son

Nola Penthouse Studios, New York: January 13, 1961

Dewey Redman - The Ear of the Behearer (Impulse, 1973, Vinyl, FLAC)

This one is by request.

Some of the music is quite adventurous and free, while other tracks include some freebop, a struttin' blues ("Boody"), and quieter ballads. Redman, a distinctive tenor saxophonist, actually plays alto on five of the first six selections; he is less memorable (although no less exploratory) on the smaller horn. Redman is joined on most cuts by trumpeter Ted Daniel, throughout the Behearer date by cellist Jane Robertson, and on the full set by bassist Sirone and drummer Eddie Moore; violinist Leroy Jenkins and percussionist Danny Johnson also make guest appearances. Intriguing music. [Scott Yanow]

Steve Lacy Quartet - Revenue

In this album's liner notes, Lacy explains that his quartet began as a streamlined version of his sextet, designed to play venues that can't afford the larger band. It certainly became much more than that; it might be posited that the quartet is the more conventionally jazz-like of the two bands. With vocalist/cellist Irene Aebi and pianist Bobby Few added, Lacy's tunes take on a bit more classical, "new music" air. The quartet, however, is a more rough-and-ready outfit, with the interplay between Lacy and fellow saxophonist Steve Potts taking on more importance. The two play extraordinarily well together. Lacy is a much more suave player than Potts, whose work has a sort of awkward, ungainly air, but whose playing is as devoid of contrivance as any improviser one could name. Bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel is a fine, hard-swinging, unfussy player with a clean technique, and drummer John Betsch is the tasteful, energetic, well-rounded percussionist Lacy's music requires. The band is refined in the best sense -- the tunes are intricate, the execution clean -- yet capable of generating great force. Intensity is a given, even in the quietest, most introspective sections. Much was made in the early '90s (when this record was made) of the jazz tradition. This music is a fine example of what happens when a visionary musician makes something extending and expanding upon the tradition his life's work. An excellent disc. ~ Chris Kelsey

Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Steve Potts (soprano and alto sax)
Jean-Jacques Avenel (bass)
John Betsch (drums)

1. The Rent
2. Revenue
3. This Is It
4. The Uh Uh Uh
5. Esteem
6. I Do Not Believe
7. Gospel

Don Pullen - Kele Mou Bana

This CD features pianist Don Pullen's "African-Brazilian Connection." Always a very percussive player, Pullen gets to romp with two percussionists on this date while altoist Carlos Ward flies over the top and bassist Nilson Matta keeps the foundation solid. The repertoire is comprised of originals and, even in its freer moments, the rhythms keep the music quite accessible. ~ Scott Yanow

Digging deep, Pullen made a spirit journey, as he had done years earlier with Beaver Harris on A Well Kept Secret (Shemp, 1984). He began to explore the musical territory from Africa to Brazil and back. His new band, African-Brasilian Connection, began to tear up the sound waves again. Kele Mou Bana (Blue Note, 1991) brought together Senegalese master Mor Thiam with Brazilians Nilson Matta and Guilherme Franco, and Panamanian Carlos Ward. It seemed that the music was taking a swirling path to encompass the heart of jazz and blues—the African and Afro-Brazilian roots... once again, a visit to the "Goree" of history.

The music embraced voices and chants. The circle was both widening and closing in, with the music echoing cerebrally and in every heartbeat.

This quintet of two Brazilians, an African, and two progressive North Americans, forges almost a new kind of world jazz: avant-worldbeat. Ward, who played both with Cecil Taylor and Abdullah Ibrahim, brings an intensity and freedom that stamps these proceedings with a kind of manic joie de vivre, soaring and swooping with controlled abandon. Pullen, who over his long and productive jazz life perfected a wild and idiosyncratic chromaticism, gooses these proceedings to dizzying heights with his pianistic antics. All is anchored by the earthy percussions of Thiam and Franco and the astounding dexterity of bassist Matta. The result is a dynamic rhythmic foundation that undergirds Pullen's and Ford's flights of fancy with amazingly fluidity.

Don Pullen (piano)
Carlos Ward (alto sax)
Guilherme Franco (percussion)
Nilson Matta (bass)
Mor Thiam (percussion)
Keith Pullen (vocal)
Tameka Pullen (vocal)

1. Capoeira
2. Listen To The People (Bonnie's Bossanova)
3. Kele Mou Bana
4. L.V.M./Directo Ad Assunto
5. Yebino Spring
6. Doo-Wop Daze
7. Cimili/Drum Talk

Wilbur Harden

I don't know what occurs here more often; the claim that some musician ( of which we have 4 versions of each album they ever produced) is said to be "underrated", or that some very adequate musician who produced two or three dates and then died or was otherwise lost is an unheralded genius. Dupree Bolton, Wilbur Harden, (insert your favorite here), and countless others. People live in hope that some undiscovered Bolton (for example) date will re-surface and we will listen to it in it's lo-fi glory. Meanwhile, do-right cats like Clark Terry produced a mountain of stuff, but he lacks the tragic romance to make him as interesting. Noticeable, too, how it's often the trumpet players who are nuts. Lucky Thompson doesn't count; he wasn't crazy, just monumently bad tempered and arrogant.

In any case, here is a review of some of Wilbur Harden's work, a musician with what the Penguin Guide called an "elegant" style. I choose him because his discography is scanty but excellent, and he was the first trumpet player I was exposed to at any length, largely due to these Savoy sessions which are absolutely brilliant and regarding which I have written pretty often. Harden is said to play flugelhorn, but, as the notes to the Savoy Sessions mention, he might have been playing the more unusual rotary valve trumpet.

The two albums pictured are offered, and some other previously posted sessions will be in comments. I was saved some work because Jean Lafite's Curtis Fuller post is still active.

Wilbur Harden and John Coltrane - The Complete Savoy Sessions

Tanganyika Strut is probably my favorite jazz recording of all time.

Wilbur Harden is a mystery man in jazz history, for he appeared on some important recording sessions (most notably with John Coltrane) and then, after 1960, pretty well disappeared. He played RB with Roy Brown (1950) and Ivory Joe Hunter, and then served in the Navy. Harden emerged in 1957, recording with Yusef Lateef, and led four record dates for Savoy in 1958; three were with Coltrane (who became the leader on reissues), and one in a quartet with Tommy Flanagan. In 1960, Wilbur Harden (who was one of the first trumpeters to regularly double on flugelhorn) recorded one title with Curtis Fuller, but then ill health forced him to retire at the age of 35.

Wilbur Harden was an enigma, a promising trumpet and flügelhorn player who never lived up to his potential. When these sessions were originally issued in 1958, they were released under his name; Coltrane was paid only the nominal session fee of $41.25. So it was in the late 1950s for the man who was soon to become the undisputed chieftain of the tenor sax. But Trane was just one of the many hired guns assembled by Harden to augment him on this set of mostly original compositions. Joining him here on the sessions--issued here in their entirety for the first time--are also, at one time or another, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Howard Williams on piano, Tommy Flanagan on piano, Ali Jackson on bass, Louis Haynes on drums, Arthur Taylor also on drums, and Doug Watkins on bass. The musicians stampede through the sessions with finesse and vigor and nary a hint of chafe. This is classic, '50s postbop in all its frothing glory. Coltrane's work, in particular, is exemplary; this was just prior to the time he achieved supernova status, and one can sense the near-mythic vibes building, not only in the swooping breadth of his soloing on "Wells Fargo--(Take 1)" but on the complex wrangling in "E.F.F.P.H" as well. The other true luminary is Tommy Flanagan, whose Monk-derived work is a gift throughout. Actually, Flanagan bookends the sessions, having been temporarily replaced by Howard Williams in the midst of the recordings; because the tracks are programmed in the exact order they were recorded, a good lump of Williams is spread over both discs. As for Harden, despite the promise he showed as both a bandleader and soloist, he died in obscurity. He never rendered much else, but these sides did show amazing promise. Their reissue is an invaluable addition to the legacy of jazz. ~ Joe S. Harrington

Wilbur Harden (trumpet, flugelhorn, rotary valve trumpet)
John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Howard Williams (piano)
Doug Watkins (bass)
Ali Jackson (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)
Arthur Taylor (drums)

CD 1
1. Wells Fargo - (take 1)
2. Wells Fargo - (take 2, master)
3. West 42nd Street
4. E.F.F.P.H.
5. Snuffy
6. Rhodamagnetics - (take 1)
7. Rhodamagnetics - (take 2, master)
8. Count Down - (take 1)
9. Count Down - (take 2, master)
10. Anedac

CD 2
1. B.J. - (take 1)
2. B.J. - (take 2)
3. B.J. - (take 3, master)
4. Once In A While
5. Dial Africa - (take 1)
6. Dial Africa - (take 2, master)
7. Oomba
8. Gold Coast
9. Tanganyika Strut

Yusef Lateef - Prayer To The East

Lateef is excellent as usual, but one of the bonuses here is Wilbur Harden , who flashed on the scene and then disappeared. I'll post Harden's work with Coltrane this weekend. Another Coltrane connection (there are several here) is the bass player Ernie Farrow - he's Alice Coltrane's brother. Another connection; Farrow worked with Terry Gibbs, who featured a young Alice in her first recording date. It was while with Gibbs that she, I believe, met John.

Note the presence of Ozzie Cadena as "author" of several of these titles. "Anedac" is also a title from the Harden date: I guess Ozzie wasn't adverse to a little profit from others work. Someone had to support the kids before they joined Black Flag.

A half-a-century following its original release, Prayer to the East by Yusef Lateef remains a seemingly blessed moment of creative interaction between American modern jazz and the music of the so-called Arab East, the latter evoked in essences ranging from snippets of traditional musical scales to picture postcards of Tunisian nightlife. The second half of the '50s was a busy period for Lateef, at that time under contract to the Savoy imprint. This album as well as three others were all cut in October of 1957, establishing as much documentation as could ever be needed of a transition from a player in the swing context of bandleaders such as Lucky Millinder and Hot Lips Page to a bold adventurer. Extended improvisations and the introduction of unusual instruments were important parts of this development and these recordings, yet the impression should not be one of austerity. Lateef's use of the flute turned out to be commercial, one of many instances of this particular axe finding more favor among the listening public than it tends to within the ranks of musicians themselves. Lateef and comrades may have been going for deep listening, still it is worth pointing out that an admirer of sides such as Prayer to the East pointed out how much fun him and his buddies used to have listening to this music while playing pool. The lengthy "Night in Tunisia" is nothing but a great moment in small modern jazz combo recordings, allowing Lateef's budding interest to bloom in an intriguing light. Flugelhornist Wilbur Harden was also a collaborator of John Coltrane's in the same period. The brassman dodges imitations of the song's composer, high-note trumpet maestro Dizzy Gillespie, instead hovering in his mid-register, revealing a joke in a turn of phrase as if he was being spied on. The album's title track comes from drummer Oliver Jackson, so tightly affiliated with swinging syncopation that his nickname was "Bops Junior." Later drummers working in Lateef's combos such as Frank Gant and of course Elvin Jones would introduce more polyrhythms, percolating a brew that by the end of the '50s had much less of the aroma of a mainstream cup of jazz. Some listeners may find, however, that a player such as Jackson creates more excitement, more workable dynamics, the tension of a stylistic clash that is inevitably hinted at rather than shouted. "Lover Man" may have been an overdone number in the jazz combo repertory even by 1957; the subsequent years would only redeem this particular performance were it more substantial. A formidable Lateef original and Les Baxter's "Love Dance" are the two concluding numbers, each in the six-minute range without a wasted moment in either case. The leader's improvisations are perfect, full of interesting choices of register, a man in motion who somehow masks his true dimensions. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

Yusef Lateef (flute, tenor sax)
Wilbur Harden (flugelhorn)
Hugh Lawson (piano)
Ernie Farrow (bass)
Oliver Jackson (drums)

1. A Night In Tunisia
2. Endura
3. Prayer To The East
4. Love Dance
5. Lover Man

Friday Fusion

Gary Hobbs - Low Flight Through Valhalla (1995)

Gary Hobbs is a gifted drummer whose music knows no boundaries. While fulfilling a boyhood dream of joining the Stan Kenton Orchestra in 1975, he was also listening heavily to the music of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, Miles Davis, Weather Report and others. His vast array of influences inspired a very eclectic debut in Low Flight Through Valhalla, his first album as a leader. Along with unique arrangements of "Stardust" and "Pent Up House", there are original compositions by Hobbs, Kim Richmond, Randy Porter, Pete Christlieb and Clay Jenkins.

Clay Jenkins (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Kim Richmond (alto sax, ewi)
Pete Epstein (alto, soprano sax)
Randy Porter (piano)
George Mitchell (synth)
Al Criado (bass)
Gary Hobbs (drums)

  1. Low Flight Through Valhalla
  2. Gathering
  3. Franz
  4. Stardust
  5. Ning Yoo
  6. Trouble Shooter
  7. Pent Up House
  8. Rings

Art Pepper - Laurie's Choice

A Fresh Sound release of a 1992 compilation originally on Laserlight/Delta. Review by Scott Yanow:

Although it has come out on a budget label, these four performances (taken from concert appearances in 1978, 1980 and 1981) had never previously been released before. With support from either George Cables or Milcho Leviev on piano, David Williams or Bob Magnusson on bass and drummer Carl Burnett, the great altoist Art Pepper is in excellent form on an emotional "Kobe Blues," an intense version of "Patricia" and hard-swinging renditions of "Allen's Alley" and his own "Straight Life."

The Fresh Sound release has an additional track, A Song for Richard, "from an unknown year and location" according to the album notes.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Contributions 8

Do not post links here that are not uploaded by you, or that you "found" at another site, forum, or whatever.

E-mail each other to exchange "unoriginal" links.

Worth checking out....

Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray - Citizens Bop

A compilation of old running buddies Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray; one session with both in attendance and the other two Gray dates. The Gray dates - like most of his relatively small recorded legacy - appear and re-appear on various releases, these being here on the recent Complete Sunset and New Jazz sessions. These are the Eddie Laguna Sunset dates. As a side note, I have never heard a Sunset date produced by Laguna that wasn't very good.

This is also notable in Gordon's discography as being his last date, excepting perhaps an obscure Lowell Fulson session, before drug use and it's consequences removed him from the recording scene for several years. Three studio dates at the end of 1955 were all that he made before becoming active again in 1960. Even so, there was only one date in '60, two in '61 ... you get the picture.

Wardell Gray (tenor sax)
Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Gerald Wiggins (piano, organ)
Red Callender (bass)
Chuck Thompson (drums)
Gladys Bentley (vocal)
Hollywood: June 9, 1952

Wardell Gray (tenor sax)
Dodo Marmarosa (piano)
Red Callender (bass)
Chuck Thompson (drums)
Hollywood: November 23, 1946

Wardell Gray (tenor sax)
Erroll Garner (piano)
Red Callender (bass)
Jackie Mills (drums)
Hollywood: April 29, 1947

1. The Rubaiyat
2. My Kinda Love
3. Citizens Bop
4. One for Prez
5. Jingle Jangle Jump
6. Dell's Bells
7. I Hear You Knockin'
8. The Man I Love
9. Easy Swing
10. Man With a Horn
11. Blue Lou
12. The Rubaiyat (alt. take)

Frank Morgan - Mood Indigo (1989)

It's been a little over a year since Frank Morgan passed away. After recording his first album as a leader in 1955 followed by a 30 year layoff, he staged one of the biggest comebacks in the history of the music, recording almost twenty albums between 1985 and 2007. After eight recordings for Contemporary, Mood Indigo was his first of four CDs released by Antilles. The final track on the CD is 35 seconds of Morgan speaking and expressing his gratitude. It begins with "I'd first like to thank you, the listener, for saving my life." Mood Indigo might be a little on the subdued side, but it is music played from the heart.

"This ballad-oriented set features veteran altoist Frank Morgan on four duets with pianist George Cables, interacting with either Cables or Ronnie Mathews on piano, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Al Foster on the other selections, and welcoming trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to "Bessie's Blues" and "Up Jumped Spring." Every Morgan recording is well worth picking up (the altoist has been very consistent in the studio), but this one purposely has less mood variation than most and is often a bit melancholy." - Scott Yanow

Frank Morgan (alto sax)
George Cables, Ronnie Mathews (piano)
Buster Williams (bass)
Al Foster (drums)
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet)
  1. Lullaby
  2. This Love of Mine
  3. In a Sentimental Mood
  4. Bessie's Blues
  5. A Moment Alone
  6. Mood Indigo
  7. Up Jumped Spring
  8. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
  9. We Three Blues
  10. 'Round Midnight
  11. Lullaby
  12. Gratitude
Recorded in NYC, June 26-27, 1989


Open to free-form discussion, tech stuff, whatever... music related, please

Requests II

Art Pepper - Not A Through Street: Live In Yamagata '78 (Flac)

Art Pepper concluded a very successful tour of Japan with a concert in Yamagata that was recorded and released on two Storyville CDs. The first CD has just 38 minutes of music, but the quality is quite high. Pepper (with pianist Milcho Leviev, bassist Bob Magnusson and drummer Carl Burnett) performs lengthy versions of two originals ("Ophelia," "My Laurie") and "Besame Mucho"; the latter was a request from his Japanese friends that was very well received and became a permanent part of his repertoire. The recording quality is excellent and Pepper is in explorative and somewhat inspired form. -- Scott Yanow

The second of two CDs taken from the final night of Art Pepper's 1978 Japanese tour features the great altoist (along with pianist Milcho Leviev, bassist Bob Magnusson and drummer Carl Burnett) exploring two of his originals ("The Trip," and "Red Car"), a lyrical version of Michel Legrand's "The Summer Knows" and an intense rendition of "Caravan." None of the Storyville sets have been reissued elsewhere, and each adds to the remarkable legacy of Art Pepper whose second career (covering 1975-82) was arguably even greater than his first. -- Scott Yanow

Art Pepper (alto sax)
Milcho Leviev (piano)
Bob Mugnusson (bass)
Carl Burnett (drums)

1. Ophelia
2. Besame Mucho
3. My Laurie
4. Caravan
5. The Trip
6. The Summer Knows
7. Red Car

"YBC TV Hall", Yamagata, Japan, March 14, 1978

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Billie Holiday - Vol. 4: 1937 (Masters Of Jazz)

For contractual reasons, Billie Holiday couldn't record with the Basie band, even though she was the vocalist at their live performances (at a salary of $14 a day). But, with the piano seat taken by Teddy Wilson or Claude Thornhill, the Basie band was the supporting crew for many of Billie's recordings at this period, where she was able to supplement her income. As usual with this series, the notes and discographical information is excellent.

This French compilation features 25 tracks from 1947, a most productive year for Lady Day. Kicking off with nine tracks with Teddy Wilson's orchestra (with two versions each of "Mean to Me" and "I'll Get By"), the set also features nine with Holiday fronting her own band (with two versions each of "Without Your Love" and "Me, Myself, and I"), two tracks with Count Basie, and four more with Wilson, including a great version of "Nice Work if You Can Get It." The transfers of the original discs are decent, although a bit fusty in spots, and the liner notes are in both French and English. ~ Cub Koda

Billie Holiday (vocal)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Herschel Evans (tenor sax)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Count Basie (piano)
Claude Thornhill (piano)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Buck Clayton (trumpet)
Vido Musso (clarinet, tenor sax)
Edmond Hall (clarinet)
Jo Jones (drums)
Cozy Cole (drums)

The Clarinet Summit - Southern Bells

In 1984, clarinetists John Carter, Alvin Batiste, Jimmy Hamilton and David Murray (on bass clarinet) performed a concert that was recorded and released by India Navigation. Three years later, they regrouped for a studio session. Three selections are slightly "traditional" ("I Want to Talk About You," a Hamilton-Carter duet on "Perdido" and a brief "Don't Get Around Much Anymore"), but the bulk of this set is taken up with more advanced improvising, including Batiste's lengthy "Fluffy's Blues" and Murray's free improv "Mbizo." Intriguing music (Jimmy Hamilton really stretches himself); recommended to avant-garde listeners rather than Duke Ellington fans. ~ Scott Yanow

John Carter (b-flat clarinet)
Alvin Batiste (b-flat clarinet)
David Murray (bass clarinet
Jimmy Hamilton (b-flat clarinet)

1. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
2. Fluffy's Blues
3. I Want To Talk About You
4. Beat Box
5. Southern Bells
6. Perdido
7. M'Bizo

J.J. Johnson - Tangence (1994)

In 1994 J.J. Johnson traveled to England to fulfill a dream by making a record with Robert Farnon, one of his arranger heroes. You don't see productions like this with jazz musicians very often . One big reason is that it's just too damned expensive! Copyists, rehearsals and studio time for a 50-piece orchestra do not come cheap. Yanow's reference in his review to muzak is naive and unfair. Just listen to "The Meaning of the Blues" or "Lament", which won the 1995 Grammy for best instrumental arrangement. Tangence is not just another "with strings" album. This is a full orchestra - brass, woodwinds, strings and rhythm. Put on the headphones, sit back and close your eyes. You can "get lost" in this music.

Trombonist J.J. Johnson is joined by a string orchestra arranged by Robert Farnon for most of the performances on this CD. Farnon's sweeping scores can sometimes come closer to movie music and muzak than jazz but the high quality of the songs and a few surprising departures make this CD recommended. Wynton Marsalis has three guest appearances (including a spirited unaccompanied duet with Johnson on the old Jimmy Lunceford hit "For Dancers Only"), Johnson takes his blues "Opus De Focus" as a duet with bassist Chris Laurence and the trombonist is in particularly fine form on such numbers as "The Meaning of the Blues," "Dinner for One, Please, James," "The Very Thought of You" and his own "Lament." - Scott Yanow

J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Robert Farnon (arranger)
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet on 3, 5, 10)
  1. People Time
  2. The Meaning of the Blues
  3. For Dancers Only
  4. Dinner for One, Please, James
  5. Two's Company
  6. Lament
  7. Opus De Focus
  8. The Very Thought of You
  9. Amazing Grace
  10. Malagueña
  11. End of a Love Affair
  12. Malaga Moon
Recorded in Wembley, England, July 13-15, 1994

Leonard Bernstein - Bernstein Conducts Copland

These are, of course, Aaron Copland's landmark works and are the pieces he is most remembered for. Bernstein recorded what many believe to be the definitive renditions of these compositions, although there are many, many other fine ones out there. Scoredaddy

Happy is the composer who has an advocate as passionate and talented as Leonard Bernstein. These Copland performances have been the preferred versions since they were first issued--better even than the composer's own, later recordings. Originally they were spread over two discs, but thanks to the extended playing time of the compact disc, you can now get all three great Copland ballets together, along with the ever popular Fanfare for the Common Man. Bernstein brings to this music the right sharpness of rhythm but also a typically open-hearted warmth. He coaxes a virtuoso response from the New York Philharmonic, which knows this music as well (or better) than anyone. Self- recommending. David Hurwitz

Fanfare for the Common Man (1942)
1. Molto deliberato (2:00)

Recorded at Philharmonic Hall, New York City, NY USA on February 16, 1966

Appalachian Spring - Suite (1943-1944)
2. Very Slowly (2:43)
3. Allegro (2:42
4. Moderato (3:52)
5. Fast (3:35)
6. Subito Allegro (3:44)
7. As At First (Slowly) (1:15)
8. Doppio movimento (6:45)

Recorded at Manhattan Center, New York City, NY USA on October 9, 1961

Rodeo – Four Dance Episodes (1942)
9. Buckaroo Holiday - Allegro con spirito (7:00)
10 Corral Nocturne - Moderato (4:02)
11. Saturday Night Waltz - Introduction - Slow Waltz (4:11)
12. Hoe-Down - Allegro (3:06)

Recorded at Manhattan Center, New York City, NY USA on May 2, 1960

Billy The Kid – Suite (1938)
13. Introduction. The Open Prairie (3:15)
14. Street In A Frontier Town (3:22)
15. Mexican Dance And Finale (2:01)
16. Prairie Night (Card Game At Night) (4:22)
17. Gun Battle (1:49)
18. Celebration (After Billy's Capture) (2:22)
19. Billy's Death (1:19)
20. The Open Prairie Again (1:47)

Recorded at the St. George Hotel, Brooklyn, NY USA on October 20, 1960

On all: New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein

Arthur Blythe - Exhale

A nice connection with jazz roots can be seen in the use of tuba here. Tuba was the original bass instrument in early jazz - people like Joe Tarto had several types they would use, but the upright bass as we know it became the bottom instrument of choice. But that's why you see the designation "string bass" on so many early 78's, and in the Chronological discographies; they were making a distinction from the "wind bass" - or tuba.

"...Blythe ... is very much in his pomp and sails through these cuts with impressive intensity and admirable control. There isn't a bad track on the album, but it feels like more of the same, when we're looking to Arthur to push the envelope just a little bit again." ~ Penguin Guide

Making his initial impression on the musical public as one of the bad boys of jazz, Arthur Blythe has aged with the subtlety and taste of a fine wine. Blythe has the unique ability to be stylistically on the 'inside' and the 'outside' simultaneously, moving spontaneously between the two as the need for personal expression dictates. His logical, well-constructed improvisations show that one can be a forward-looking player without neglecting melody, rhythm, tone and thematic development. Surrounded by his colleagues of choice these days -- keyboard giant John Hicks, rhythm-man Cecil Brooks III and the irrepressible Bob Stewart on tuba -- Arthur and company create highly original music, whether it be in Arthur's imaginative original works ("7/4 Thang", "Phase Two") or while digging into the familiar ("Just Friends", "Straighten Up and Fly Right"). But creativity and innovations aside, the music Arthur plays is great jazz, and you can't ask for more than that.

Arthur Blythe (alto sax)
John Hicks (piano, Hammond B-3 organ)
Bob Stewart (tuba)
Cecil Brooks III (drums)

1. Cousin Mary
2. Come Sunday
3. Exhaust Suite: Nonette
4. Exhaust Suite: Surrender
5. Exhaust Suite: LC
6. Exhaust Suite: Phase Two
7. Night Train
8. 7/4 Thang
9. Equinox
10. Just Friends
11. CJ
12. All Blues
13. Straighten Up And Fly Right
14. Exhale

Recorded at Tedesco Recording Studios, Paramus, New Jersey on October 14, 2002

Mal Waldron - The Call

There's a common notion that everything released on ECM has a particular "sound" that the label's detractors describe as cold, technical, bland and even muzak-orientated. Maybe limited exposure to recent releases by the likes of Keith Jarrett or Jan Garbarek would reinforce that view. But you can't generalise on nigh-on 800 releases in more than 30 years, especially when there are diamonds such as this little wonder among the earlier records.

Mal Waldron, famous as a Billie Holiday accompanist and Eric Dolphy sideman in the late 50's, made only two albums for ECM. The first, 'Free At Last' in 1969, was the label's first release, a tentative fling with free jazz that in reality stayed closer to convention than invention. The second, reviewed here, was a whole different kettle of piranhas. Again chosen to launch a new label - this time ECM's adventurous JAPO imprint - 'The Call' saw Waldron behind a Fender Rhodes (or similar) instead of his usual acoustic piano, forming an epic one-time-only quartet with Eberhard Weber on self-styled electric bass (one of his earliest recorded appearances), Fred Braceful on drums, and - significantly - sometime Embryo organist Jimmy Jackson. And what an almighty noise they made over two side-long tracks recorded one day in 1971.

The title track begins with an almost Booker T bluesy riff initiated by Jackson, then Weber, then Braceful. Waldron enters with four widely-fingered chords that seem to both compliment and argue with the opening riff before, just as the whole thing starts to become recognisable, everyone appears to fly off into their own stratosphere. The sound is hard to define: although these are mostly "jazz" musicians (inverted commas intentional), the vibe is more akin to European space rock than anything else. But fusion of the Weather Report or Return To Forever ilk this most certainly ain't. The simultaneous soloing, with Jackson particularly impressive, continues for a good ten minutes but always holds the interest because of the sheer fun these guys seem to be having making this unholy racket. Then, things calm a little, and everyone gets an individual spotlight. Weber's solo especially stands out as a triumph of inspiration and subtlety, making you wish he'd strayed more often into rock territory than his somewhat elitist chosen field. Finally, two minutes from the end (and after a drum solo that miraculously avoids tedium) that opening riff returns and the side ends. And I feel, well, just satisfied, and ever so slightly high.

Side Two is entitled 'Thoughts', and is basically a slightly slower, more ethereal variation on its predecessor, blessed with a glorious opening and closing tune that alternates between optimism and anxiety. If anything, the interaction and solo showcases are even more inspired here, even if there's less visceral excitement in the music. Again, Weber shines. Indeed, it is to Waldron's credit that, fine though his own contributions to his "compositions" are, he knows exactly when to let go and let his companions show their soul. And soul, real joyous soul, is what infuses this almost wholly improvised, yet never inaccessible, record.

Sadly, this terrific combination never recorded again, although Waldron played with Jackson on Embryo's 'Steig Aus' album in 1972, the highlight of which was an all-out Krautrock version of the title track of the album discussed here. Good though that was, the original is the best. Even more regretably, 'The Call' has, in common with most of the JAPO catalogue, yet to hit CD. However, good quality used vinyl copies show up from time to time in places like Ultima Thule in Leicester or Ray's Jazz Shop in London. If you come across the album, in its (very un-ECM) torn-wallpaper designed sleeve, give it a go. It straddles the chasm between rock and jazz without a hint of fusion blandness.

Mal Waldron (piano)
Jimmy Jackson (organ)
Eberhard Weber (bass)
Fred Braceful (drums, percussion)

1. The Call
2. Thoughts

Stommeln, West Germany: February 1, 1971

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hidehiko Matsumoto - The First by Sleepy (1977) [LP > FLAC]

Hidehiko "Sleepy" Matsumoto was a "first generation" jazz musician and a legend of sorts in Japan. His career started with the post-WWII boom and after his popularity soared through the fifties he began performing with many of the American jazz greats including Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. On a trip to the US in 1963 he performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra and sat in with Dizzy Gillespie's quintet. The latter performance was recorded and released on a CD called Dizzy for President which was posted here some time ago. Sleepy's early influences were Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins and later, John Coltrane. His first recordings as a leader were in 1965 and he would record frequently until his passing in 2000.

The title of this 1977 LP is derived from this being Sleepy's first direct-to-disc session. He plays tenor sax on all but "Tuesday Samba" which shows off his "Rahsaanian" flute work. You can really hear the Rollins influence on "St. Thomas" and Coltrane's on the unaccompanied "Someone to Watch Over Me". Released in Japan by Toshiba Records and available in the US only as an import, I don't believe there has ever been a CD reissue so this one usually goes for big bucks (I picked it up last month for $1.00 : )=

Hidehiko "Sleepy" Matsumoto (tenor sax, flute)
Norio Kotani (piano)
Yasuhisa Akutsu (bass)
Takaaki Nishikawa (drums)
  1. My Funny Valentine
  2. Tuesday Samba
  3. Satin Doll
  4. St. Thomas
  5. Take Five
  6. Someone to Watch Over Me
Recorded at Toshiba EMI Studio, September 21 & 25, 1977

Monday, January 26, 2009

Babs Gonzales - Weird Lullaby

One of the most distinctive characters in a field of oddballs, Gonzales sure could pick them. His bands and friendships included some of the major players of his time, and he gave plenty of young 'uns their start, most noticeably here Mr. Sonny Rollins. His autobiography is one of the best of it's kind you'll ever read. The cat was one of a kind.

Virtually all of singer Babs Gonzales' most important recordings are on this colorful CD. A pioneering bop-oriented scat singer who predated vocalese masters Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, and Jon Hendricks, Gonzales sang with enthusiasm and an emphasis on vowels. Babs is featured on eight numbers with his Three Bips and a Bop (pianist-composer Tadd Dameron is in the supporting cast), including the original version of Gonzales' greatest hit, "Oop-Pop-A-Da." Other sessions are as noteworthy for their unique personnel as for Babs' singing, which includes tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins (in his recording debut), trombonists Bennie Green and J.J. Johnson, French horn master Julius Watkins, altoist Art Pepper, pianist Wynton Kelly, drummer Roy Haynes, Don Redman (on soprano), flutist Albert Soccaras, and violinist Ray Nance. The final four numbers (from 1956 and 1958) find Gonzales backed on two songs apiece by the Jimmy Smith Trio and the Bennie Green Quintet (with pianist Sonny Clark). Highlights overall include "Weird Lullaby," "Babs' Dream," "Professor Bop," "Prelude to a Nightmare," "The Continental," "St. Louis Blues," and "'Round Midnight." Essential for bop collectors. ~ Scott Yanow

Babs Gonzales (vocals)
Sonny Clark (piano)
Tadd Dameron (piano)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Ray Nance (violin)
Art Pepper (alto sax)
J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Sonny Rollins (tenor sax)
Julius Watkins (French horn)
Jimmy Smith (organ)
Don Redman (soprano sax)
Thornel Schwartz (guitar)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)

1. Lop-Pow
2. Oop-Pop-A-Da
3. Stompin' at the Savoy
4. Pay Dem Dues
5. Runnin' Around
6. Bab's Dream
7. Dob Bla Bli
8. Weird Lullaby
9. Capitolizing
10. Professor Bop
11. Continental
12. Prelude to a Nightmare
13. Real Crazy
14. Then You'll Be Boppin' Too
15. When Lovers They Lose
16. St. Louis Blues
17. 'Round About Midnight
18. You Need Connections
19. Encore [45 Take]
20. Encore [LP Take]

Phil Woods & The Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra - Unheard Herd (2004)

At one of the memorable West Coast jazz festivals organized by Ken Poston, altoist Phil Woods was teamed with a specially assembled big band to perform the "Unheard Herd," selections played but not recorded by Woody Herman's Second Herd. Actually though, of the eight numbers that were performed, only three fit into that category, since four of the songs were recorded by Herman and "My Old Flame" is a feature for Woods with the rhythm section. No matter, for Woods plays brilliantly throughout, the band put together by trumpeter Ron Stout is excellent, and the many soloists, which include trumpeter Carl Saunders, Stout, the full sax section, trombonists Scott Whitfield and Andy Martin, and pianist Ross Tompkins, add a great deal to the music. There is plenty of good spirit both in the playing and the storytelling by Stout and Woods. Phil Woods' four-minute monologue is full of funny stories, including some involving Al Cohn and Gene Quill. Highly recommended. - Scott Yanow

Actually, Mr. Yanow, the title comes not from the unreleased selections, but from a nickname for the Second Herd, also known as The Four Brothers Band, which only had a few studio sessions due to the 1948 recording ban and thus much of its library was "unheard". The life span of that particular band was roughly from October of '47 to December of '49 so there were quite a few charts that only appeared on live albums released years later.

Of the previously released charts, "Keen and Peachy" was one of only a dozen or so that were hastily recorded at the end of '47 before the ban went into effect and "More Moon" was done in May of '49. "The Great Lie", arranged by Neal Hefti, was first recorded in 1949 but wasn't released until 20 years later. On the unreleased side, "Man, Don't Be Ridiculous" was arranged by Shorty Rogers as a feature for Serge Chaloff but was never commercially recorded, as was Gerry Mulligan's 1948 arrangement of "Yardbird Suite". "We the People Bop" was written for Herman's small group, The Woodchoppers, and "Boomsie" was first done by a small group led by Chubby Jackson and later recorded by the big band as "That's Right". "My Old Flame" is a duo with Woods and pianist Ross Tompkins.

Phil Woods (alto sax)
Carl Saunders, Mike McGuffey, Frank Szabo, Bob Summers, Ron Stout (trumpet)
Andy Martin, Scott Whitfield, Bryant Byers (trombone)
Kim Richmond, Bill Trujillo, Keith Bishop, Jerry Pinter, Bob Carr (reeds)
Ross Tompkins (piano)
Joel Hamilton (bass)
Dave Tull (drums)
  1. Keen and Peachy
  2. The Great Lie
  3. Man, Don't Be Ridiculous
  4. Yardbird Suite
  5. My Old Flame
  6. We the People Bop
  7. Comments by Phil Woods
  8. More Moon
  9. Comments by Ron Stout
  10. Boomsie
Recorded live in Los Angeles, May 29, 2004

J. J. Johnson - J. J. Johnson's Jazz Quintets

By coincidence (?) I was uploading this when Ric left a comment at Morris' contribution about Bud's time with JJ. This stuff is not on the corresponding Bud Powell Chronological, by the way.

Early work from most of the players: this was Sonny Rollins 3rd studio session. His first session was, of course, with Babs Gonzales, and Johnson was present then too. These Savoy dates must have been something; on one day earlier that year, for example, Doc Pomus came into the studio just after Allan Eager was finished.

One can fault this CD for having brief playing time (a dozen selections totaling less than 33 minutes) and for not including the alternate takes, but the music is beyond criticism. When trombonist J.J. Johnson burst on the scene in the mid-'40s, his speed, fluency and quick ideas put him at the top of his field, where he remained for over a half century. This 1992 CD has the trombonist's first three sessions as a leader, music that qualifies as classic bebop. Johnson is matched with either altoist Cecil Payne, baritonist Leo Parker or tenor great Sonny Rollins (on one of his first dates) in quintets that also include Bud Powell, Hank Jones or John Lewis on piano; Leonard Gaskin, Al Lucas or Gene Ramey on bass; and Max Roach or Shadow Wilson on drums. Other than the ballads "Don't Blame Me" and "Yesterdays," the repertoire is comprised of originals (including Rollins' "Audobon") containing lots of tricky lines, concise but heated solos, and virtuosic playing. Until a more complete reissue takes its place, bop fans not owning the music (plus the alternates) on earlier LPs will definitely find this CD valuable. ~ Scott Yanow

J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Bud Powell (piano)
Cecil Payne (baritone sax)
Leonard Gaskin (bass)
Max Roach (drums)
New York: June 26, 1946

5-6, 11-12
J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Hank Jones (piano)
Leo Parker (baritone sax)
Al Lucas (bass)
Shadow Wilson (drums)
New York: December 24, 1947

J.J. Johnson (trombone)
John Lewis (piano)
Sonny Rollins (tenor sax)
Gene Ramey (bass)
Shadow Wilson (drums)
New York: May 11, 1949

1. Jay Bird
2. Coppin' The Bop
3. Jay Jay
4. Mad Be Bop
5. Boneology
6. Down Vernon's Alley
7. Audubon
8. Don't Blame Me
9. Goof Square
10. Bee Jay
11. Yesterdays
12. Riffette

Charles Mingus - Pre-Bird

See? Sometimes we do re-upload things by request.

One of the great beauties of this man, Mingus, is how rooted in and respectful of he was of the jazz tradition; it may be the only thing he ever was respectful of. This work , recorded in 1960, consists of previously unrecorded pieces by Mingus written in the forties - before the ubiquitous influence of his former bandmate, Charlie Parker: hence Pre-Bird. As you might expect from Mingus, the influence of Ellington, rightly, is evident. There are Ellington covers, ( well, Strayhorn) and "... music that sounds like the Duke's influence filtered through Igor Stravinsky and Charles Ives ("Half-Mast Inhibition," "Eclipse")."

Coming between the work of his annus mirabilis, 1959, and the wonderful Antibes set ( recorded some 6 weeks later,) this is Mingus at the peak of his abilities. The band? Not bad. It's nice to see John LaPorta and Clark Terry here, and interesting to see Joe Farrell before he got weird(er).

"...there are six originals by the leader, together with one by Billy Strayhorn, "Take the A Train" with an interpolation of "Exactly Like You" by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, and one by Bob Russell and Duke Ellington " Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me" with an Interpolation of " I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart" by Duke Ellington, Irving Mills,J. Redmond and H. Remo. Both the Ellington tracks are performed with a verve, panache, indeed, joy, that I'm sure the master himself would approved. Mr Booker Ervin is a highlight on the first, playing with such swagger and power, it IS a joy to hear. The latter begins with a characteristic bass opening by Mr Mingus that propels the number along at quite a pace. Again Mr Ervin features. Interestingly, two great pianists,Paul Bley and Roland Hanna alternating, are featured on five, including these tracks. Some of their pianistic punctuations are quite stunning. But it is in the originals that Mingus is perversely most Duke like. For example, "Bemoanable Lady" sounds more Duke than Duke, and strangely, the solo by the great Mr Eric Dolphy, takes on Mr Hodges and adds to it in inventiveness and passion. One track, "Half-Mast Inhibition" is conducted by Gunther Schuller. "

Charles Mingus (bass)
Eric Dolphy (alto sax, bass clarinet, flute)
Ted Curson (trumpet)
Clark Terry (trumpet)
Eddie Bert (trombone)
Slide Hampton (trombone)
Jimmy Knepper (trombone)
John LaPorta (alto sax, clarinet)
Bill Barron (tenor sax)
Joe Farrell (tenor sax)
Booker Ervin (tenor sax)
Yusef Lateef (ts, fl)
Paul Bley (piano)
Yusef Lateef (tenor sax, flute)
Roland Hanna (piano)
Dannie Richmond (drums)
Max Roach (percussion)
Gunther Schuller (cond)

1. Take The 'A' Train
2. Prayer For Passive Resistance
3. Eclipse
4. Mingus Fingus No. 2
5. Weird Nightmare
6. Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
7. Bemoanable Lady
8. Half-Mast Inhibition

Recorded at Plaza Sound, New York, New York on May 24-25, 1960

John Williams Trio - 1954-1955 Complete Master Takes FLAC

This one was originally posted at C&D.

When Rab posted Stan Getz's "At The Shrine" in OAB, he included this phrase: 'The piano player, John Williams, also seems like someone to find out more about'. Well, really it's very difficult to find information about this man. 99% of the web pages corresponds to the movie-music composer John Williams.
No biography in AMG, neither in Wikipedia. Born John Thomas Williams on January 28, 1929 in Windsor, Vermont, nowadays lives in Vero Beach, Florida, and plays occasionally with some friends just for fun. His piano style sounds the influence of Horace Silver, but more stylish as well as structured. He's an admirer of Hank Jones because of the flying flow of his phrasing.
This CD includes the two recordings Williams made in EmArcy as leader: "John Williams" and "John Williams Trio". He was an accompanist in many recordings, and was part of the The Stan Getz Quintet in two periods. His piano can be heard on "Cannonball" by Julian Cannonball Adderley, "Interpretations By The Stan Getz Quintet", "The Artistry of Stan Getz", "The Cool Sounds" and "At the Shrine" by Stan Getz, "At The Cinema!" by Buddy Collette And His Swinging Shepherds, "Introducing Jimmy Cleveland And His All Stars" by Jimmy Cleveland, "De Arango" by Billy De Arango, "Plays Alto, Tenor And Baritone" and "The Modern Art of Jazz" by Zoot Sims, "The Bob Brookmeyer Quartet" by Bob Brookmeyer, "The Sax Section" by Al Cohn, as well as with the Art Mardigan Sextet among others.

01. I'll take the Lo Road (J.Williams) 3:08
02. Out of this world (Arlen-Mercer) 3:28
03. Railroad Jack (P.Sunkel) 2:57
04. For heaven's sake (Mayer-Bretton-Edwards) 3:07
05. Wiliams Tell (J.Williams) 3:10
06. Be careful, it's my heart (I.Berlin) 3:26
07. Blue Minor (J.Williams) 2:18
08. Somewhere in the night (Gordon-Myrow) 2:42
09. Baubles, Bangles and Beads (Forrest-Wright) 3:13
10. Good morning, heartache (I.Higginbotham) 3:40
11. Someday my Prince will come (CHurchill-Morey) 4:48
12. Manteca (Pozo-Gillespie) 3:40
13. How strange (Kahn-Stothart-Brent) 2:57
14. Flamingo (Grouya-Anderson) 3:42
15. A sleeping bee (Arlen-Capote) 3:11
16. The girl next door (Martin-Blane) 3:00
17. Shiloh (J.Williams) 3:02
18. Good morning blues (Basie-Durham-Rushing) 4:18
19. Okeefenokee holiday (J.Williams) 4:10
20. Like someone in love (Burke-Van Heusen) 3:02

Personnel and dates:

Tracks 1-8: John Williams (p), Billy Anthony (b), Frank Isola (d).
New York City, July & August, 1954

Tracks 9-12: John Williams (p), Billy Anthony (b), Jack Edie (d).
New York City, June 15, 1955

Tracks 13: John Williams (p), Chuck Andrus (b), Frank Isola (d).
New York City, June 24, 1955

Tracks 14-20: John Williams (p), Ernie Farrow (b), Frank Isola (d).
New York City, October 11, 1955

These trio recordings, made in 1954 and 1955, are the only ones pianist John Williams made as a leader in his entire career. Influenced by Horace Silver, Bud Powell and Hank Jones, Williams is most remembered for his very fine recordings with the Stan Getz Quintet. However, and despite his talent, today he remains a pianist relatively unknown for many people; but those who had the chance to have him as accompanist and all those who enjoyed his stabbing and leanly imaginative playing as a soloist, surely have not forgotten it.
Fresh Sound Records

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Albert Ayler - Something Different! (First Recordings 1 and 2)

All the recordings made at this session were intended for private distribution only. Ayler later approved the 1969 public release of the first four tunes. Respecting Ayler's wishes, Bengt Nordstrom, the producer of this session, intended to keep the remainder of the recordings in the can permanently . However, in the summer of 1989, DIW Records issued Volume 2.

"You know, that first record I made, on Sonet? I had been playing music like that a long time ago... A Swedish guy, he gave me the break to make a record. I said, `Maybe I shouldn't make it.' He said, `Come on, it won't hurt you,' and then I made that record...Spacing sound, just trying to work with sound, spacing that sound, you know? And that was even more different than the rhythm, playing the actual rhythm at that time,but I developed a rhythmic type of free-form which was very important. I developed a space type of rhythmic music that was, um, it really added another, um, uh, uh, what could I say?" ~ Albert Ayler

The players at this session had been Albert's working band for eight months prior to this date, on those rare occasions when he was able to present his own musical ideas publicly . It is odd then, that their interaction with Ayler on these recordings is so poor. On the other hand, it is easy to forget just how radical this music was for 1962, especially in Sweden. There were only a handful of players anywhere in the world at the time who could have kept up with Albert Ayler's conception of form and fury of improvisational invention.

What was it that these three men did, in an almost empty auditorium, in front of 25 invited guests, that was so different? The songs are "standards," tunes known to most jazz musicians and often played. John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Sonny Rollins, most prominently amongst others, had made the piano-less group fairly commonplace. It is the way that Ayler plays these songs that is revolutionary, not the selection of songs or the style of the accompaniment.

Of the four songs from this session issued in the United States, three are songs associated strongly with certain players. "I'll Remember April," though a popular song, especially for bop and cool players because of its interesting chord progression, is linked with pianist Bud Powell. "Rollins' Tune" is, of course, a composition (actually titled "No Moe") by Sonny Rollins, and "Tune Up" is by Miles Davis, though much more frequently performed by other groups. Like "I'll Remember April," "Tune Up" is a song noted for its chord progression, and the harmonies of both songs have been used by admiring musicians with their own composed melodies. All three songs were also played at very rapid tempos, in order to challenge and exhibit the players' ability to navigate the complex chord changes at high speed, a common bebop performance practice.

Albert Ayler (tenor sax)
Torbjorn Hultcrantz
Sune Spångberg (drums)

1. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise
2. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
3. Moanin'
4. Good Bait
5. I'll Remember April
6. Rollins' Tune
7. Tune Up!
8. Free

October 25, 1962, Main Hall of the Academy of Music, Stockholm

Mel Powell, Joe Sullivan & Mary Lou Williams - Two Cats & a Mouse (1944-1948)

Rare and little-known recordings by cats Mel Powell and Joe Sullivan for Capitol label in 1944-1948, plus gems by the mouse Mary Lou Williams recorded in 1944 and 1946.

Mel Powell (piano on 1-12)
Joe Sullivan (solo piano on 13-20)
Mary Lou Williams (piano on 21-26)
Others Including:
Bumps Myers (tenor sax) Red Callender (bass) Lee Young (drums) Lou McGarity (trombone) Frankie Newton (trumpet) Vic Dickenson (trombone) Edmond Hall (clarinet) Don Byas (tenor sax) Marjorie Hyams (vibes) Mary Osborne (guitar)

  1. Hallelujah
  2. Anything Goes
  3. There's a Small Hotel
  4. You Go to My Head
  5. When a Woman Loves a Man
  6. If Dreams Come True
  7. Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
  8. You Better Not Mess With Me
  9. Cuban Pete
  10. Cookin' One Up
  11. That Old Black Magic
  12. Muskrat Ramble
  13. Squeeze Me
  14. I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good
  15. Memories of You
  16. Deep Purple
  17. The Moon Is Low
  18. Reflections
  19. It's the Talk of the Town
  20. My Silent Love
  21. Hesitation Boogie
  22. Blue Skies
  23. Little Joe from Chicago
  24. Roll 'Em
  25. Gjon Mili Jam Session
  26. Boogie Mysterioso

Mal Waldron-left alone live (west 54th st lp 8010 ) 1980

Its Been a while since i posted anything here, i have been feeling somewhat burnt out of late, and have decided i need a break from active blogging for a month or two at the very least.
I take leave on a high point .. here's one that doesn't appear to even be referenced in Mal's online bio(at least not at a cursory glance)

One of the many records he made in japan that got no or very limited release in the west, at face value it probably doesn't seem all that appealing, compared to his peak records.
its a definite grower, that admittedly has taken me years to come to terms with.. i like it a lot! and hope you will too.
The band members particular Isao suzuki will be familiar to fans of Japanese jazz.. they are certainly more than merely competent.
Half the tracks are performed in a trio configuration without saxophonist Kosuke Mine, those are particularly good, thoughts being one of my own personal favourites..and this is one of its best interpretations.
take care ALL... and thanks for all The great vibes and music.

Left Alone live-1980
side 1
1) left alone, 2) straight no chaser
side 2
3)right on, 4) thoughts

Waldron with....
Isao Suzuki-db
Yoshiyuki Nakamura-dr
Kosuke Mine-alto sax

Thanks to my old mate Iain the lurker ..for introducing me to this record.

Eliane Elias - Cross Currents

Eliane Elias' first album was posted here last August, so I thought I'd follow that up with another from this young and beautiful Brazilian.

Cross Currents
Review by Scott Yanow
Pianist Eliane Elias' second of two Denon CDs recorded before she hooked up with Blue Note is a lesser-known but worthy session. Elias is mostly featured in a trio with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette performing originals, a pair of Charles Mingus compositions ("Peggy's Blue Skylight" and "East Coastin'"), "Beautiful Love," "When You Wish Upon a Star" and Bud Powell's "Hallucinations." Elias was quickly developing into a strong modern mainstream pianist. The concluding number ("Coming and Going") was written by her grandmother in 1927 at age 12 and features Elias with Gomez, drummer Peter Erskine, guitarist Barry Finnerty, percussionist Cafe and nine singers (including a few family members). Well worth searching for.

Look no further!

A great gift from Morris

A really beautiful and, yes, important contribution from Morris.

Morris tells us; "Bud Powell is my favorite jazz pianist and while these cuts are not as important as some of his other work, they still evidence the genius that he was. I think it is unfair for Yanow to summarily dismiss the later years on this set. I Didn't Know What Time It Was is Bud at his best."

The Complete Bud Powell on Verve

Bud Powell was a jazz genius, arguably the most creative and influential pianist the music has ever known. But like such legendary figures as Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and Billie Holiday, he was a profoundly troubled genius. Those troubles began at the age of 21 with head injuries inflicted in a police beating in 1945, and his life became a litany of arrests, hospital stays, shock treatment, over-medication, and self-medication, until he finally left America for France in 1959.

This five-CD set compiles Powell's sessions for Norman Granz's Clef and Verve labels between 1949 and 1956. Like other recent Verve "completes" (Parker, Young, Holiday), it's a "warts and all" documentary of Powell's times in the recording studio, complete with false starts and unissued performances. A listener experiences both the grandeur of Powell's creativity and occasionally the sheer pathos of his inability to function at the keyboard--whether triggered by a bad day, an inadequate sideman, or unfamiliar repertoire.

Disc one, with five trio and solo sessions from 1949 to 1951, presents works of unalloyed genius, with Powell defining the limits of bop piano in technique, intensity, and invention. There are treatments of some of his finest compositions, including solo versions of "Parisian Thoroughfare" and "Hallucinations." At the opposite end of Powell's personal spectrum, there's the 1955 trio session that begins Disc Three, in which he is clearly struggling to play at all. Other performances fall in between, from one in which Powell makes 10 attempts at "Star Eyes" to a concluding 1956 trio session in which he somehow summons his original technique and fire for a collection of bop tunes.

This is an extraordinary document, including both great music and painful drama. It's also a handsome and well-researched package. The five CDs are bound into a book that includes overviews by pianist Barry Harris and interviews with some of the musicians closest to Powell, like Max Roach, Jackie McLean, and Johnny Griffin. - Stuart Boomer

This five-CD deluxe set contains an impressive 150-page booklet and reissues every scrap of music that the innovative pianist Bud Powell recorded for Verve. The first disc has the best music, four truly outstanding sessions from 1949-51. The other performances (trio sides from 1954-56) are much more erratic, particularly the alternate takes, with gems followed by completely lost solos. Bop fans will want this set but more general collectors are advised to pick up the Blue Notes first. - Scott Yanow

Bud Powell (piano)
George Duviver, Curly Russell, Ray Brown, Lloyd Trotman, Percy Heath (bass)
Art Taylor, Osie Johnson, Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke, Max Roach, Buddy Rich (drums)

Alan Shorter - Tes Esat

Unfortunately, Alan Shorter didn't get the chance to lead very many sessions. The limited commercial potential of his music -- coupled with a rather unhealthy lifestyle -- limited him to only a couple of titles under his own name and a dozen or so as a sideman. Like perhaps Eric Dolphy or Albert Ayler, though, the dates upon which he only played a supporting role still heavily bear his stylistic stamp. On this, the last of his leader dates, Shorter's compositions employ relatively vague stutter-step heads and then quickly dive right into free improvisation without looking back. What follows is free jazz along the lines of many BYG or ESP releases from the same era. On the album's opener, "Disposition (In Two Parts)," tenor saxophonist Gary Windo in particular lets loose what has to be one of the most "out" solos in recorded music history, hitting tones in the upper register seldom heard on the tenor (or any sax for that matter). Under the pressure of such an extreme embouchure, one gets the feeling that his reed could simply give up and snap across the room at any moment, and that kind of unbridled intensity just might be what makes this record as enjoyable as it is for those with an open ear for the avant-garde. Countering these wilder passages are a number of more personal sections as well, which help break up the lunacy heard especially on side one. Bassist Johnny Dyani, for example, spends much of the second side in conversation with drummer Rene Augustus, and even takes a lengthy piano solo during "Disposition." Both horns sit out for much of this side, providing only sporadic ensemble backing and, consequently, a bit more room for the listener to breathe. While it's not exactly "in like a lion and out like a lamb," the pacing of this record perhaps resembles that of Dave Burrell's Echo, in that once you've endured the storm on side one, the flip is a breeze. ~ Brandon Burke

Alan Shorter (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Gary Windo (tenor sax)
Johnny Dyani (bass, flute, piano)
Rene Augustus (drums, bells)

1. Disposition
2. Beast of Bash
3. One Million Squared

Horace's Hip Dance Meets Horace's Hip Dance

Horace Silver - The Jody Grind

Following the subtly modern bent of much of The Cape Verdean Blues, Horace Silver recommitted himself to his trademark "funky jazz" sound on The Jody Grind. Yet he also consciously chose to keep a superbly advanced front line, with players like trumpeter Woody Shaw (retained from the Cape Verdean session), altoist/flutist James Spaulding, and tenor saxophonist Tyrone Washington. Thus, of all Silver's groove-centered records, The Jody Grind winds up as possibly the most challenging. It's also one of the most under appreciated; Silver's piano playing is at its rhythmic best throughout, brimming over with confidence and good cheer, and evoking memories of the classic feel of his early-'60s quintet. His compositions have a similarly bright overtone, which was becoming increasingly rare in mid-'60s jazz as the fury of the avant-garde and the Civil Rights upheaval began to seep into jazz's wider consciousness. The title cut is a playful, overlooked classic on the funky side of hard bop; Silver kicks it with a tasty groove, giving the rest of the musicians plenty to play off of. The whole group absolutely burns through "Grease Piece," a terrific hard swinger full of smoking solo statements from just about everyone on down to drum whiz Roger Humphries. Really, the whole album is packed with great grooves and tight solos, epitomizing the best virtues of Silver's music. The Jody Grind is one of the best Horace Silver records, highly recommended.

Horace Silver (piano)
Woody Shaw (trumpet)
James Spaulding (alto sax, flute)
Tyrone Washington (tenor saxophone)
Larry Ridley (bass)
Roger Humphries (drums)

1. The Jody Grind
2. Mary Lou
3. Mexican Hip Dance
4. Blue Silver
5. Grease Piece
6. Dimples

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: November 2 and 23, 1966

Horace Tapscott - Live At Lobero Vol. 1

A fine trio date done while Tapscott was also in full swing with the Arkestra.

A surprisingly strong trio session from Horace Tapscott -- recorded in Santa Barbara in 1981, with a group that features Sonship on percussion and the great Roberto Miranda on bass! Miranda's tone is round and warm, and brings out some of the most soulful sides of Tapscott's playing -- even when he's getting a bit free on the keys, which he does on the album's longer tracks. The album features a great 21 minute reading of Tapscott's perennial favorite "The Dark Tree" -- done with a great throbbing bassline -- plus the tracks "Raisha's New Hip Dance" and "Sketches Of Drunken Mary". CD also features the bonus track "Inception" -- a full 29 minutes worth of extra music! ~ Dusty! Groove!

Horace Tapscott (piano)
Roberto Miranda (bass)
Sonship (percussion)

1. Inception
2. Sketches Of Drunken Mary
3. Raisha's New Hip Dance
4. Dark Tree

Santa Barbara, California: November 12, 1981

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Max Bennett - Max Bennett Plays (K2 HD)

The follow-up recording for Max Bennett as a leader includes some sessions that were left off from his debut effort, and includes others from Los Angeles with a different band from the same year of 1955. Vocalist Helen Carr is included on two songs, trombonist Frank Rosolino, pianist Claude Williamson, and drummer Stan Levey contribute on the majority of the cuts, and alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano plays a larger role than on the previous date. This is a diverse effort in terms of instrumentation, a larger emphasis on standards, but retains more of a jam session feel. Two quartet leftovers from the first LP feature Carl Fontana playing strong and long during "Taking a Chance on Love" and "Sweet Sue," where he riffs on the melody. Pianist Dave McKenna is back in a boppish mood, stroking and stoking the coals for the fast "Blues" with Fontana in late, and the trio version of "S'posin'," with Bennett taking the lead. Alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano is featured up front in a way he was not heard on Bennett's first album. His post-Charlie Parker sound is vibrant and exciting during the strong and fleet "Rubberneck" which includes ex-Stan Kenton-ites as pianist Williamson and composer/trombonist Rosolino. This band also does Rosolino's "Just Max" as a feature for the bassist, they jump all over "Jeepers Creepers," and collectively wail on the super duper bop take of "Sweet Georgia Brown." This band is at a fever pitch not heard on the previous date, due to the driving swing of drummer Stan Levey, the excitable Williamson, and the fiery Mariano and Rosolino. Helen Carr, yet another alum of the Kenton bands, was not a well-known vocalist in the general scheme of things, but did release three of her own albums on the Bethlehem label in the mid-'50s. She has a sound that crosses through the thin vibrato of Billie Holiday, the nimble bite of Anita O'Day, and the silky smoothness of Helen Merrill. She's a slight bit flat, but pushes through "They Say" and shines during the ballad "Do You Know Why?" alongside Mariano's effervescent alto. At a time when both Mariano and Rosolino were at the peak of their powers, the tracks they are on would be well worth any jazz student's time and analysis. In the years to follow, Bennett would become a first call studio session electric bass guitarist for films, television, and with Tom Scott's L.A. Express. Both Max Bennett and Max Bennett Plays comprise substantial reminders of what a force the bass player was on the Southern California mainstream jazz scene. Both volumes come highly recommended, but one wonders why they couldn't have been packaged as a companion double-CD set. Timewise, they would fit, and the two recordings truly belong together. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Max Bennett (bass)
Frank Rosolino (trombone)
Charlie Mariano (alto sax)
Claude Williamson (piano)
Stan Levey (drums)
Helen Carr (vocal)
Los Angeles, January 27, 1955

Max Bennett (bass)
Carl Fontana (trombone)
Dave McKenna (piano)
Mel Lewis (drums)
New York, December 14, 1955

1. Rubberneck
2. Just Max
3. They Say
4. Taking A Chance On Love
5. Sweet Sue
6. Jeepers Creepers
7. T.K.
8. I'll Never Smile Again
9. Do You Know Why
10. Blues
11. S'posin'
12. Sweet Georgia Brown

Matt Catingub - I'm Getting Cement All Over Ewe (1990)

Matt Catingub is a man who wears many hats: Composer, arranger, saxophonist, pianist and singer. He is also the son of singer Mavis Rivers, who sings with the band on "Dearly Beloved", Change Partners", "Funny" and "I Got Rhythm". The title tune is indeed based on the chord progression to "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" and "Even More Blues..." is named after an earlier composition of his that he called "Blues and the Abscessed Tooth". My favorite track on the album is "Donna Lieb" which is a tribute to arranger Dick Lieb. At first you think this is just another take on "Donna Lee" but it's actually the head played over the chord changes to "Stella by Starlight". Some pretty tricky writing.

For Catingub's fourth album as a leader, his concept was simple: " look back to when big bands went into the studio, used only the minimum amount of microphones, and just swung their asses off."

Matt Catingub (alto sax, piano, arranger, vocals)
John Thomas, Buddy Childers, Ron King, Wayne Bergeron, Steve Huffsteter (trumpet)
Nick Lane, Andy Martin, Charlie Morillas, Ira Nepus, Luis Bonilla, Rich Bullock (trombone)
Chris Stewart, Steve Rosenblum, Mark Roland, Albert Alva, Bill Green (saxophone)
Jim Hershman (guitar)
Dave Stone (bass)
Kevin Winard (drums)
Roger Burn (mallets)
Mike Faue (percussion)
Mavis Rivers (vocals)
  1. I'm Getting Cement All Over Ewe
  2. Even More Blues, But My Abscessed Tooth Is Fine Now,...Thanks
  3. Miss Ella
  4. Dearly Beloved
  5. Change Partners
  6. Sciatica Stomp
  7. Funny
  8. Prelude 'n Blues
  9. I Got Rhythm
  10. Simple Pleasures
  11. Donna Lieb
Recorded December 22-23, 1990

Tete Montoliu - 1995 En el San Juan

This 1995 concert represents one of Tete Montoliu's last recordings prior to his death in 1997. What's unusual about this CD is that it is not a solo or trio date, but one with a sextet, which includes drummer Winard Harper, trumpeter Philip Harper, flügelhornist Danny Harper, tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley, and bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa. The blind pianist is in terrific form, particularly in "Muntaner 83 A," his thinly disguised reworking of the standard "On Green Dolphin Street," and his blues-drenched "T'estimo Tant," which showcases Riley. Though the remaining tracks aren't at all familiar, they also bring out the best in the band. The tour de force of the evening is easily the uptempo bop cooker "Blues del San Juan Evangelista" (yet another song derived from the changes to "I Got Rhythm"), in which Danny Harper resembles the attack of Clark Terry. Recorded for the Melopea label, this release may be somewhat challenging to acquire. ~ Ken Dryden, All Music Guide

1. Balada de Pedro (Iturralde) 8:07
2. Muntaner 83A (Montoliu) 8:58
3. T´estimo tant (Montoliu) 10:07
4. Waltz for Tete (Iturralde) 5:12
5. Monserrat (Montoliu) 5:32
6. Balada de la mañana (Domínguez) 7:11
7. Pont Aeri-Acuarela (Montoliu) 5:58
8. Blues del San Juan (Montoliu) 10:18

Recorded live at Colegio Mayor San Juan Evangelista (Madrid), on June 19, 1995

Tete Montoliú, Piano
Winard Harper, Drums
Philip Harper, Trumpet
Danny Harper, Flugelhorn
Stephen Riley, Sax (Tenor)
Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Bass

Elliot Lawrence Band - Plays Gerry Mulligan Arrangements

Elliot Lawrence, who led a swing-oriented big band after the swing era had already passed its prime, primarily worked in the studios in the 1950s. This reissue from the Original Jazz Classics series (which has not yet surfaced on CD) was one of Lawrence's few jazz dates of the decade. Utilizing a dozen Gerry Mulligan charts (seven of the songs were also composed by Mulligan) and an all-star crew of young modernists (including trumpeter Nick Travis, trombonist Eddie Bert, altoist Hal McKusick, and Al Cohn on tenor), the results are quite pleasing. Although Mulligan himself does not play, his presence is very much felt on songs such as "The Rocker," "Bweebida Bwobbida," "Strike Up the Band," and "Apple Core." Other highlights include tributes to Zoot Sims ("The Swinging Door") and Lester Young ("Mr. President"). ~ Scott Yanow

Elliot Lawrence (piano)
Al Cohn (tenor sax)
Hal McKusick (alto sax)
Eddie Bert (trombone)
Bernie Glow (trumpet)
Don Lamond (drums)

1. The Rocker
2. Bye Bye Blackbird
3. Happy Hooligan
4. My Silent Love
5. Bweebida Bwobbida
6. Mullinium
7. Strike Up The Band
8. Apple Core
9. Elegy For Two Clarinets
10. The Swinging Door
11. But Not For Me
12. Mr. President

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jorge Ben Jor ao Vivo no Rio (1991)

This is a contribution to the Funky Friday: 112 minutes of Jorge Ben and Banda do Zé Pretinho, which will put everyone to shake his ass.

Jorge Ben is a unique figure in Brazilian Pop Music. He was raised between the traditional samba players and the young guys in Tijuca (a district of Rio de Janeiro) which started the Jovem Guarda movement (pop-rock music). When his first LP was released (Samba Esquema Novo, 1961), his playing already was a very particular one. One song of that recording (Mas que nada) became a world success with Sérgio Mendes & Brazil '66. Some years later, Jorge Ben changed the acoustic for the eletric guitar, and his "samba-rock" became funkier and funkier. He is a original composer, with simple lyrics but an extraordinary rhythm sense. This double CD is a good sample of his music and those who like the more danceable music will love. But is a great disc also for those who don't dance, by the quality of his songs.
Banda do Zé pretinho is:
Jorge Ben Jor - Vocal, guitar, percussion
Eduardo Helbourn - Drums, percussion, vocal
Ed Ferro - bass, vocals
Lori Cesar - Keyboards, vocal
Yose Africano - Percussion, vocal
Cássio Poletto - Violin
Sérgio Trombone - Slide trombone
bidinho e Paulinho - Trumpets
Zé Carlos - Sax

CD 1 - tracks
1- Salve simpatia / A banda do Zé pretinho
2- Santa Clara clareou / Zazueira
3- Oé oé faz o carro de boi na estrada
4- Selassié / Chove chuva
5- Que maravilha
6- País tropical / Spiro Giro
7- A minha teimosia um arma pra te conquistar / O namorado da viúva
8- W/Brasil / Chama o síndico
10- Homem do espaço
11- Charles Anjo 45 / Caramba...Galileu da Galiléia / Cadê Tereza / Miudinho

CD 2 - tracks
1- Ela mora na Pavuna
2- Oba lá vem ela / Amante amado / Pelos verdes mares / Nena Naná
3- Zagueiro / Umbabaraumba (ponta de lança africano)
4- Os alquimistas estão chegando os alquimistas
5- Menina sarará da pele preta / Mas que nada
6- Filho Maravilha
7- Mulher brasileira / Domenica domingava num domingo linda toda de branco / Katarina Katarina / Para ouvir no rádio (Luciana)
8- Berenice / O telefone tocou novamente / Denise Rei / Que pena / O dia em que o sol declarou seu amor pela terra
9- Ive Brussel
10- Mama Africa
11- Taj mahal - A banda do Zé Pretinho

Friday Fusion

Victor Feldman - Secret of the Andes (1982) [LP > FLAC]

As far as fusion albums go this one is pretty lightweight, more on the commercial side of the camp. Call it jazz/rock/fusion with large doses of R&B, Latin, African and South American spice. But Victor Feldman was always a class act and the recording quality of this direct-to-disc session is superb. Contrary to my usual listening choices, I find myself often putting this on the turntable for the pleasure of the sound quality more than the music. There have been a couple of reissues, most recently on a JVC CD called Audiophile which compiles Secret of the Andes with an earlier release, Soft Shoulder. However, not being sure what they used as a source, I'm sticking with the Nautilus SuperDisc for now.

For the uninitiated, a direct-to-disc recording session puts more pressure on the musicians than conventional recordings ever can. Instead of recording directly onto different tracks of a master tape, which can be later 'sweetened', the music is performed 'live' and passes through the recording console to a cutting lathe which etches the signal onto a master lacquer. It's a little like opening night on Broadway. One 'flub' and the entire side has to begin over again. The process also limits the number of discs that can be stamped. But bypassing tape machines and magnetic tape as the direct-mastered technique does, also rewards the participants and listeners with a special sonic quality not usually attainable on conventional, mass-produced albums. Tape noise and its attendant problems disappear. Distortion is at a minimum, while dynamic range and frequency response expand dramatically. Stereo separation is also enhanced. Coupled with a high quality pressing, an almost incomparable 'presence' and listening experience results.

Victor Feldman (keyboards, percussion)
Hubert Laws (flute, alto flute, piccolo)
Lee Ritenour (guitar)
Abraham Laboriel (bass)
Harvey Mason, Alex Acuña (drums, percussion)
Milt Holland, Trevor Feldman (percussion)
  1. Secret of the Andes
  2. Chasin' the Sunrise
  3. Let Me Count the Ways
  4. Stick Together
  5. Valentino
  6. Let's Go Dancin'
  7. Down in Cancun
Recorded in Glendale, California, February 26, 1982

World Saxophone Quartet - Four Now (1995)

The WSQ, which has performed as a unit since '76, has generated a mountain of excellent recordings on the Black Saint and Elektra labels. In late '95, the same year that founding member Julius Hemphill died, the quartet recorded its first Justin Time record with John Purcell taking Hemphill's place. As a result of Purcell joining the group, the other members were freed to play other instruments outside the earlier paradigm of two altos, a tenor, and a baritone sax.

Four Now also distinguishes itself by the addition of three African drummer/vocalists who first appeared on the '91 Nonesuch album Metamorphosis. In contrast to this earlier album, the group explores more rhythmic freedom on Four Now, juxtaposing the cross-continental interplay of drum improvisation and horn improvisation. The results of this American-African cultural fusion are dramatically successful. Compositions by both the horn players and the drummers achieve a delicate balance between arrangement and improvisation, as is the WSQ trademark. "Dakar Darkness," an adventurous piece by David Murray, manages to integrate poetry text read by Oliver Lake into the freedom of the mix without losing the group's overall coherence. - Nils Jacobson

Oliver Lake (alto sax)
John Purcell (saxello, flute, alto flute, english horn)
David Murray (tenor sax, bass clarinet)
Hamiet Bluiett (baritone sax, contra-alto clarinet)
Chief Bey, Mor Thiam, Mar Gueye (african drums, vocals)
  1. Dou Dou N'Daiye Rose
  2. Dakar Darkness
  3. Suga
  4. Colors
  5. For Now
  6. What a Dream
  7. Sangara
Recorded in NYC, October 3-4, 1995

Thursday, January 22, 2009

David Murray - Saxmen

Initially an inheritor of an abstract/expressionist improvising style originated in the '60s by such saxophonists as Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, David Murray eventually evolved into something of a mainstream tenorist, playing standards with conventional rhythm sections. However, Murray's readings of the old chestnuts are vastly different from interpretations by bebop saxophonists of his generation. Murray's sound is deep, dark, and furry with a wide vibrato -- reminiscent of such swing-era tenorists as Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. And his approach to chord changes is unique. Although it's apparent that he's well-versed in harmony, Murray seldom adheres faithfully to the structure of a tune. He's adapted the expressive techniques of his former free jazz self (slurred glissandi, indefinite pitches, ambiguous rhythms, and altissimo flights) to his straight-ahead playing, with good results. He'll plow right through a composition like "Round Midnight," hitting just enough roots, thirds, fifths, and sevenths to define the given harmonies, then filling every other available space with non-chord tones that may or may not resolve properly. In other words, he plays the wrong notes, in the same way that Eric Dolphy played the wrong notes. Like Dolphy, Murray makes it work by dint of an unwavering conviction. The sheer audacity of his concept, the passionate fury of his attack, and the spontaneity of his lines - in other words, the manifest success of his aesthetic - make questions of right and wrong irrelevant.

David Murray (tenor sax)
John Hicks (piano)
Ray Drummond (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)

1. Lester Leaps In
2. St. Thomas
3. Billie's Bounce
4. Bright Mississippi
5. Broadway
6. Central Park West

Billie Holiday - 1937-1939 (Chronological 592)

I just picked up 10 (!) Masters Of Jazz Billie Holiday's, so hang around if this isn't enough Lady Day for you.

The two-year period of Billie Holiday's career captured on this collection was a time of growth and change for her. In 1937 she performed as a soloist with Count Basie's band, but left the group after becoming involved with guitarist Freddie Green, a married man. In 1938 she teamed up with Artie Shaw's band, but left after touring with the group through the racist South. It was the last established group that Billie would join before going solo for good.
These 24 songs show Holiday at the peak of her powers, her voice is strong and supple, her phrasing impeccable. Though she's billed as singing with "her orchestra," the accompaniment here still feels intimate, generally consisting of six or seven musicians (including such greats as Teddy Wilson, Buck Clayton, and Lester Young). She sings elegantly and effortlessly on such familiar love songs as "You Go to My Head" and "The Very Thought of You," and wrenches poignancy out of the dark blues of "Trav'lin' All Alone" and the wistful "I Can't Get Started." Her voice sounds especially divine on the enchanting "Dream of Life."

While this Classics disc of Billie Holiday's 1937-1939 sides beats out Columbia's Quintessential titles for sound quality, it does pale a bit as far as top-notch material goes. That said, the 24 tracks here still boast fine performances, like "Trav'lin' All Alone," "You Go to My Head," and "I Can't Get Started." And the likes of Teddy Wilson, Lester Young, Buck Clayton, and Dicky Wells provide stellar backing. So, with the knowledge that this is part of a chronological run through Holiday's catalog -- bad songs and all -- one can still enjoy the disc with its more than merely adequate store of memorable cuts. ~ Stephen Cook

Billie Holiday (vocals)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Claude Thornhill (piano)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Buck Clayton (trumpet)
Buster Bailey (clarinet)
John Kirby (bass)
Cozy Cole (drums)

1. Trav'lin' All Alone
2. He's Funny That Way
3. Now They Call It Swing
4. On The Sentimental Side
5. Back In Your Own Backyard
6. When A Woman Loves A Man
7. You Go To My Head
8. The Moon Looks Down And Laughs
9. If I Were You
10. Forget If You Can
11. Havin' Myself A Time
12. Says My Heart
13. I Wish I Had You
14. I'm Gonna Lock My Heart (And Throw Away the Key)
15. Any Old Time
16. The Very Thought Of You
17. I Can't Get Started
18. I've Got a Date With A Dream
19. You Can't Be Mine (And Someone Else's Too)
20. That's All I Ask Of You
21. Dream Of Life
22. You're Too Lovely To Last
23. Under A Blue Jungle Moon
24. Everything Happens For The Best

Arthur Blythe - In the Tradition (1978) [LP > FLAC]

Continuing my quest to digitize all the vinyl I have that hasn't been reissued on CD, I ran across this one and was surprised that it hasn't yet found its way to the reissue market. In fact, only three of Arthur Blythe's Columbia recordings have made it to CD - Lenox Avenue Breakdown, Illusions and Basic Blythe. In my opinion, In the Tradition, his second for the label, is one of his best and shouldn't be left out.

"Arthur Blythe and his colleagues have done it. They've mastered their trade and its tradition, reinterpreting it with energy, invention, love, and enough irreverence to keep the tradition properly dangerous." - Gary Giddins

Sometimes the easiest way to get "in" to someone's music is to see how they handle standards. Altoist Arthur Blythe, who -- although he has been associated somewhat with the avant-garde -- does not fit easily into any category, is heard on this 1978 studio session exploring four veteran songs plus two of his originals. The instrumentation of his quartet is conventional but the musicianship is exceptionally high (pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Fred Hopkins, and drummer Steve McCall), and it is quite interesting to hear how they stretch such songs as "In a Sentimental Mood," "Jitterbug Waltz," and "Caravan," making them sound fresh and original. - Scott Yanow

Arthur Blythe (alto sax)
Stanley Cowell (piano)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Steve McCall (drums)
  1. Jitterbug Waltz
  2. In a Sentimental Mood
  3. Break Tune
  4. Caravan
  5. Hip Dripper
  6. Naima
Recorded in New York, October 1978

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dick Johnson and the Dave McKenna Rhythm Section - Spider's Blues (1980) [LP > FLAC]

Quite a different duo album than the recently posted Bobby Shew and Bill Mays session, with its roots in the bebop-swing traditiion. This Concord LP hasn't been reissued on CD and its hard to even find a blurb of it on the web. But it's a magnificent showcase for the talents of Dick Johnson and the recently deceased Dave McKenna.

Multi-reedman Dick Johnson and pianist Dave McKenna first recorded together on Johnson's first album as a leader back in the late fifties. Not as well known as McKenna, Johnson is a veteran of a number of swing big bands and led the Artie Shaw ghost band for 20 years beginning in 1983. He's equally adept at clarinet, alto sax, soprano sax and flute and has enough technique to keep up with the rollicking Dave McKenna, who is the rhythm section (with his drive, who needs bass and drums?). A good mix of standards, bop tunes and an original blues, Dick Johnson plays clarinet on two selections, alto sax on three, soprano on one and flute on two. And McKenna? He's all over the place, only coming up for air during a couple of choruses that Johnson plays unaccompanied.

Dick Johnson (clarinet, alto sax, soprano sax, flute)
Dave McKenna (piano, piano, piano, piano)
  1. Carioca
  2. Lazy Afternoon
  3. Confirmation
  4. A Gypsy Air
  5. Lush Life
  6. Shawnuff
  7. Jitterbug Waltz
  8. Spider's Blues
Recorded in San Francisco, April 1980

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bill Evans Orchestra - Brandeis Jazz Festival

The 1957 Brandeis Jazz Festival featured the work of 6 of the finest composers from the jazz and 20th Century Classical avant-garde. George Russell, Charles Mingus and Jimmy Giuffre represented the jazz contingency. These outstanding concerts featured the finest musicians of the day performing some extremely difficult and highly rewarding charts that tested theirs mettle as both improvisers and sight readers. Among the brightest stars of the concerts was pianist Bill Evans, whose considerable talents were tested in a variety of styles to great results. His excellent performances here gained him a reputation as a top-notch pianist which would directly lead to an invitation to join Miles Davis' legendary sextet. The 3 rare bonus tracks of Bill Evans with Don Elliott at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival showcase the pianist's fluid versatility in an unusual quartet setting featuring Elliot alternating between the mellophone and vibraphone.

This oddly packaged CD compilation issued by the European label Gambit is a bit misleading, as it combines titles that appeared on several different releases, though none of the performances actually come from a concert. Most of the material is representative of third stream experiments popular for a time in the late '50s and early '60s, with Bill Evans in the role as a hired hand rather than leader, the role that falls either to conductors Gunther Schuller or George Russell, with most of the tracks originating from a Columbia LP titled Modern Jazz Concert and having reappeared in various incarnations with other selections in earlier reissues. Russell's impressive modern big band scoring of his "All About Rosie" is easily one of the highlights, with terrific ensembles and solos. Charles Mingus' "Revelations" is rather ominous, often suggesting the influence of Igor Stravinsky. The last three tracks are from an unrelated live Newport Jazz Festival Verve recording by mellophonist Don Elliott, who leads a quartet with Bill Evans, bassist Ernie Furtado, and drummer Al Beldini through merely average arrangements of three standards. The piecemeal gathering of these very dissimilar sessions for two different labels is troublesome, though the difficulty in acquiring this music make this edition a viable option for collectors. ~ Ken Dryden

Bill Evans (piano)
Art Farmer (trumpet)
Jimmy Knepper (trombone)
John LaPorta (alto sax)
Hal McKusick (tenor sax)
Teddy Charles (vibes)
Charles Mingus (cass, vocal)

1. All About Rosie (Part 1 and Part 2)
2. Suspensions
3. Transformation
4. On Green Mountain
5. All Set
6. Revelations
7. Dancing in the Dark
8. I Love You
9. 'S Wonderful

Bobby Shew & Bill Mays - Telepathy (1978) [LP > FLAC]

With jazz, as any improvised music, some of the best recorded moments are unplanned, happening as if by accident. Such was the case with Bobby Shew's first album as a leader when a planned quintet session went awry. Usually when this occurs, the musicians just pack up and go home. Shew and Mays had other ideas.

As Shew states in the liner notes: "With a last minute cancellation of a quintet recording session by two members with major conflicts, I had a sudden urge to utilize the booked studio time by experimenting in duo form with Bill Mays, with whom I'd experienced a tremendous musical rapport and sensitivity. When Bill agreed, we merely brought with us assorted sheet music and song books and a short list of some particular ideas for tunes we each might like to try. We began by selecting a tune, a key, and then rolled the tape. No further discussion occurred as to form, tempo, length of tune, etc. I wanted this experience to be as spontaneous as possible at that moment in time. In almost every case, only one take was done on each tune. No decisions were made as to a desired result. Telepathy I and II are totally spontaneous compositions."

There are no CD reissues of this JazzHounds LP and if you've never heard these artists before, they deserve a listen. Also, I can't recommend ClickRepair enough for cleaning up LPs without loss of sound quality. This kind of recording, a duet with lots of empty space, is what the software really excels at.

Bobby Shew (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Bill Mays (piano)
  1. It Might as Well Be Spring
  2. Poor Butterfly
  3. Yesterdays
  4. Telepathy I
  5. The Gentle Rain
  6. You've Changed
  7. Indian Summer
  8. Telepathy II
Recorded in Hollywood, March 4th and April 16th, 1978

Miles Davis - In A Silent Way (Japanese 24bit)

Listening to Miles Davis' originally released version of In a Silent Way in light of the complete sessions released by Sony in 2001 (Columbia Legacy 65362) reveals just how strategic and dramatic a studio construction it was. If one listens to Joe Zawinul's original version of "In a Silent Way," it comes across as almost a folk song with a very pronounced melody. The version Miles Davis and Teo Macero assembled from the recording session in July of 1968 is anything but. There is no melody, not even a melodic frame. There are only vamps and solos, grooves layered on top of other grooves spiraling toward space but ending in silence. But even these don't begin until almost ten minutes into the piece. It's Miles and McLaughlin, sparely breathing and wending their way through a series of seemingly disconnected phrases until the groove monster kicks in. The solos are extended, digging deep into the heart of the ethereal groove, which was dark, smoky, and ashen. McLaughlin and Hancock are particularly brilliant, but Corea's solo on the Fender Rhodes is one of his most articulate and spiraling on the instrument ever. The A-side of the album, "Shhh/Peaceful," is even more so. With Tony Williams shimmering away on the cymbals in double time, Miles comes out slippery and slowly, playing over the top of the vamp, playing ostinato and moving off into more mysterious territory a moment at a time. With Zawinul's organ in the background offering the occasional swell of darkness and dimension, Miles could continue indefinitely. But McLaughlin is hovering, easing in, moving up against the organ and the trills by Hancock and Corea; Wayne Shorter hesitantly winds in and out of the mix on his soprano, filling space until it's his turn to solo. But John McLaughlin, playing solos and fills throughout (the piece is like one long dreamy solo for the guitarist), is what gives it its open quality, like a piece of music with no borders as he turns in and through the commingling keyboards as Holland paces everything along. When the first round of solos ends, Zawinul and McLaughlin and Williams usher it back in with painterly decoration and illumination from Corea and Hancock. Miles picks up on another riff created by Corea and slips in to bring back the ostinato "theme" of the work. He plays glissando right near the very end, which is the only place where the band swells and the tune moves above a whisper before Zawinul's organ fades it into silence. This disc holds up, and perhaps is even stronger because of the issue of the complete sessions. It is, along with Jack Johnson and Bitches Brew, a signature Miles Davis session from the electric era. ~ Thom Jurek

Miles Davis's famous mid-1960s quintet, featuring saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock, was intact until just a few weeks before his new, electric ensemble recorded In a Silent Way. Legendary as a kind of line in the sand challenging jazz fans during the ascendance of electric, psychedelic rock, In a Silent Way hinted at the repetitive polyrhythms Davis would employ throughout the early 1970s. It also partook generously of electric piano and bass and rekindled the tonal palette that Davis had explored famously with Kind of Blue. But In a Silent Way remains a clearly electric jazz record, part ambient color exploration, part rock-inflected energy and vibe, and part outright maverick creativity. Davis takes many long, breathy solos, and they glisten in a burnished blue against his new group's strange admixture of musical moods. ~ Andrew Bartlett

Miles Davis (trumpet)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
John McLaughlin (guitar)
Joe Zawinul (organ)
Chick Corea (piano)
Wayne Shorter (soprano sax)
Dave Holland (bass)
Tony Williams (drums)

1. Shhh/Peaceful
2. In A Silent Way
a) In A Silent Way
b) It's About That Time
c) In A Silent Way

Monday, January 19, 2009

Woody Herman - Live in '45, Vol. 2: Northwest Passage

In contributions, Ljubatrif gave us Live in '44, Vol. 1 which documents the transition from "The Band That Plays the Blues" to the First Herd. Live in '45, Vol. 2 completes the Jass Records set with radio broadcasts from 1945 when the First Herd was in its early prime. The first broadcast, covering tracks 1-7, is from Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook Ballroom in New Jersey with a recording date of February 18th. The following day, the Herman band would cut its first sides for Columbia. The remaining tracks are recorded from several broadcasts at the Cafe Rouge in New York between July 21st and August 22nd.

All the great soloists are here, including Pete Candoli, Sonny Berman, Bill Harris, Flip Phillips and Marjorie Hyams. Along with some vocals of popular tunes of the day by Woody and Frances Wayne, there are instrumentals that the band would record with Columbia, such as "Apple Honey", "Northwest Passage" (two versions), "Bijou", and "Goosey Gander". But perhaps of most interest are the pieces that were never commercially recorded - "Red Top", "Chubby's Blues", "Katusha" and "Don't Worry 'Bout That Mule".

Tracks 1-7
Meadowbrook Ballroom, February 18th

Woody Herman (clarinet, alto sax, vocals)
Pete Candoli, Ray Wetzel, Sonny Berman, Charlie Frankhouser, Carl Warwick (trumpet)
Bill Harris, Ralph Pfeffner, Ed Kiefer (trombone)
Sam Marowitz, John LaPorta, Flip Phillips, Pete Mondello, Skippy Desair (reeds)
Ralph Burns (piano)
Marjorie Hyams (vibes)
Billy Bauer (guitar)
Chubby Jackson (bass)
Dave Tough (drums)
Frances Wayne (vocals)

Tracks 8-23
Cafe Rouge, July 21-28, August 22nd

Ray Linn, Neal Hefti and Conte Candoli replace Wetzel, Frankhouser and Warwick
Tony Aless replaces Burns
Marjorie Hyams out
  1. Blue Flame (Theme and opening announcements)
  2. Red Top
  3. Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night in the Week)
  4. Chubby's Blues
  5. Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe
  6. I Didn't Know About You
  7. Northwest Passage #1
  8. A Kiss Goodnight
  9. Goosey Gander
  10. I Don't Care Who Knows It
  11. There, I've Said It Again
  12. Northwest Passage #2
  13. Katusha
  14. And There You Are
  15. Bijou
  16. June Comes Around Every Year
  17. Apple Honey
  18. Don't Worry 'Bout That Mule
  19. Good, Good, Good
  20. There's No You
  21. Out of This World
  22. Black Orchid
  23. Blue Flame (End Theme)

Wardell Gray - Complete Sunset And New Jazz Masters

I'm not a big fan of these Spanish re-issue companies - the packaging always looks as though it was done in someone's basement, but these Jazz Factory releases are the best of the lot, in my experience.

Now, the amount of Wardell Gray material is finite and re-packaged constantly. You'll probably have these from the Chrono's and other posts - in the case of the November 23, '36 date the alternates have appeared on the previously posted One For Prez - but as zero often notes, it's nice to have 'em in one package sometimes. If you want to save a download, however, the above date is also on the soon to be posted Black Lion release Citizens Bop. You Dex fans might prefer waiting for that.

This import from Jazz Factory (the vintage jazz imprint from Spain's Disconforme label) offers 20 sides of saxophonist Wardell Gray at his bebop best. Best known as a mate of Dexter Gordon's, these recordings showcase Gray as a bandleader, composer, and soloist of rare ability who never let the swing disappear form his expression of the bop Muse's dictates. On these sessions he is accompanied by a stunning array of the era's sidemen, including pianists Dodo Marmarosa, Al Haig, and Erroll Garner, bassists Red Callendar, Tommy Potter, and Clyde Lombardi, as well as drummers such as Roy Haynes, Charles Perry, and Jack West. Most notable are the 78s Gray cut with Marmarosa and Callendar , three of which he composed: "Dell's Bells," "One for Prez," and "Easy Swing." The lone cover of George and Ira Gershwin's "The Man I Love," is the definitive bop read of the tune. Also stellar are reads of Jimmy Raney's "Five Star," and Al Haig's "In a Pinch," but virtually every performance here is flawless. Sound is better than adequate, but liner notes are perfunctory at best, though complete session info is included. Nonetheless, for the price, this one is tough to beat. ~ Thom Jurek

For the first time, all the master takes recorded under his own name on the later forties for various small labels of the era, including the masterful performance of the classic The Man I Love.

Wardell Gray (tenor sax)
Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Erroll Garner (piano)
Al Haig (piano)
Jimmy Raney (guitar)
Dodo Marmarosa (piano)
Eddie Bert (trombone)
Red Callender (bass)
Harold "Doc" West (drums)

1. Dell's Bells
2. One For Prez
3. The Man I Love
4. Easy Swing
5. The Great Lie
6. Blue Lou
7. Light Gray
8. Stoned
9. Matter And Mind
10. The Toupe
11. Shawn
12. Five Star
13. Sugar Hill Bop
14. It's The Talk Of The Town
15. In A Pinch
16. Twisted
17. Southside
18. Easy Living
19. Sweet Lorraine
20. The Chase

Grant Green - Carryin' On

Reissued on CD as part of Blue Note's Rare Groove series, Carryin' On was Grant Green's first album for Blue Note since 1965, an absence of four years during which he recorded just two albums for other labels. Green's return was accompanied by a seismic shift in direction -- Carryin' On was an album of commercially accessible jazz-funk with a heavy R&B influence, plus miles and miles of Fender Rhodes electric piano. It would typify Green's approach over the next few years, which later made him a hero among acid-jazz aficionados, even though it was the last thing purists wanted to hear from him. Those audiences will certainly be split over Carryin' On, whose entire first half is devoted to R&B covers -- the Meters' "Ease Back"; Little Anthony & the Imperials' doo wop standard "Hurt So Bad"; and a tense, barely recognizable version of James Brown's "I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing." The hottest soloing comes on Green's original "Upshot," and closer "Cease the Bombing" -- though it has no lyrics -- has all the hallmarks of a starry-eyed save-the-world anthem, yet was later covered by Pucho & the Latin Soul Brothers. The presence of Brown-inspired funky drummer Idris Muhammad virtually guarantees a load of sample-ready breakbeats, and Green and the rest of the mostly anonymous sextet work a simmering groove over his propulsive rhythms. Green's playing features more chordal work than usual, but gets very bluesy when he does grab the spotlight. While it won't win over fans of Green's older work, Carryin' On is a solid addition to any acid-jazz/funk/rare-groove library, as are most of Green's albums from this period. ~ Steve Huey

Grant Green (guitar)
Claude Bartee (tenor sax)
Willie Bivens (vibes)
Clarence Palmer (electric piano)
Earl Neal Creque (electric piano)
Jimmy Lewis (bass)
Idris Muhammad (drums)

1. Ease Back
2. Hurt So Bad
3. I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door I'll Get It Myself)
4. Upshot
5. Cease the Bombing

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: October 3, 1969


A 'musical film' from 1947 by Josh Binney featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra. The story line here is a bit thin, there are a couple of mild domestic disputes, no car chases, few special effects, and only one brief gun-fight. So some may want to debtate my calling this a 'feature film'! There is, however, some great stunt-man (and woman) action near the end of the film;> and when you see the length of Cab's baton (the thin white pointy thing conductors often use) and the dangerous way he waves it about, you'll be glad the film wasn't made in the 1950's in 3-D.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Willie "The Lion" Smith & Don Ewell - Stride Piano Duets: Live in Toronto, 1966

"You know Don Ewell? He's from Baltimore too. Plays just like the old-time stars, but better. He's the greatest piano player I ever heard." - Eubie Blake

"What a master musician the Lion was! Did you hear him jump in here! He threw changes at me. Lion is a tricky old guy. He makes sure that I am on the ball. Make sure the kid is with it! ...Playing with Lion was an exhilarating experience. It was very instructive to work with him as he often worked in the sharp keys, as pianists often did at the turn of the century." - Don Ewell

When Willie "The Lion" Smith and Don Ewell got together for this four hands/two piano club date, people must have know that sparks were gonna fly -- and they do! The two recorded in a Toronto studio a few months prior to laying down these previously unreleased tracks at the Golden Nugget, a joint on Yonge Street that had been closed some time after this engagement. You'll have to listen closely to hear the difference between the more demonstrative Smith and the effortless Ewell, but make no mistake, they are perfect foils for each other. More often than not, it is Smith who is serving up the sliders and curveballs towards Ewell, and Ewell is returning them right back in a similar fashion. Smith is verbal in his exhortation, cues, and quips, while Ewell simply plays and plays. The freewheeling and easy stride of "Relaxin'" gets the two in a good mood, with Smith wordlessly singing the melody briefly, and exclaiming "yeah, I hear ya," urging Ewell's flourishes onward. The Lion cries out "hey, Ellington" before a respectful "Blue Skies," then the two fly furiously on the stunningly virtuosic "I Found a New Baby." The bouncy show time feel of "Linger Awhile" leads to "Shine" as the two go to town, and Smith sings about how his "hair is curly" and his "teeth are pearly." Steady stride à la Fats Waller takes place on "You're Driving Me Crazy" with a more distinct division of labor, while quick or start-stop gear shifts and accelerated non-stop pace drives "Just You, Just Me," and the two extrapolate a bit during "Squeeze Me." Much is made of the demonstrative left hands of these two masters, and it is most evident on the deliberate, old-timey "Charleston," the rambling "If I Could Be with You" sung by Smith at the end, and the playful solo for Smith on "Here Comes the Band," which is amazing on many levels. The two close with a real chestnut, Euday Bowman's bubbly "Twelfth Street Rag." This highly recommended recording is one to savor for decades upon end, and a lasting document in the careers of two of the greatest vintage jazz pianists the world has ever known. - Michael G. Nastos

Willie "The Lion" Smith (piano, vocals on 10, 11)
Don Ewell (piano, except on 7)
  1. Relaxin'
  2. Blue Skies
  3. I Found a New Baby
  4. Tea for Two
  5. Charleston
  6. You're Driving Me Crazy
  7. Here Comes the Band
  8. Sweet Georgia Brown
  9. Georgia on My Mind
  10. Linger Awhile/Shine
  11. If I Could Be With You
  12. Just You, Just Me
  13. Squeeze Me
  14. Twelfth Street Rag
Recorded at the Golden Nugget, Toronto 1966

Horace Silver - Further Explorations (TOCJ)

"...Silver's consistency is unarguable: each album (from this period) yields one or two themes that haunt the mind, each usually has a particularly pretty ballad, and they all lay back on a deep pile of solid riffs and workmanlike solos." ~ Penguin Guide

For a brief time, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan and trumpeter Art Farmer were the frontline of the Horace Silver Quintet. This 1997 CD reissue finds the group (which also includes bassist Teddy Kotick and drummer Louis Hayes) performing five of Silver's lesser-known originals and the standard "Ill Wind." The lyrical Farmer and the up-and-coming Jordan have plenty of fine solos, as does the influential Silver, whose funky, witty style stood apart from the prevailing Bud Powell influence of the era. Although none of the newer songs caught on as standards, this set (which has plenty of mood and groove variation) holds together very well and still sounds fresh 40 years later. ~ Scott Yanow

Horace Silver (piano)
Art Farmer (trumpet)
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
Teddy Kotick (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)

1. The Outlaw
2. Melancholy Mood
3. Pyramid
4. Moon Rays
5. Safari
6. Ill Wind

Van Gelder Studio, New Jersey: January 13, 1958

Saturday, January 17, 2009

George Adams and Don Pullen - Don't Lose Control

If Scotty was forbidden to use the word 'essential' would he have much to say? Why isn't he discussing big George's hot, fruity tone?

"...a working relationship that ... produced some of the fieriest small-group jazz of the '80s. Pullen was perhaps the dominant partner in terms of compsitional ideas, but it was big George's hot, fruity tone that dominated the groups. An essentially melodic player in the tradition of Sonny Rollins, Adams had listened to enough of the avant-garde to bring in aspects of Coltrane's harmonic revolution and of Albert Ayler's unfettered testifying." ~ Penguin Guide

Tenor saxophonist George Adams and pianist Don Pullen first joined forces in Charles Mingus' band of the 1970s and, upon the great bassist's death, they formed their own dynamic quartet, resulting in many recordings (mostly for European labels). Don't Lose Control, although their fourth record together, was the first to gain much recognition. On the five originals (all written by either Adams or Pullen), the two principals are in fine form with bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Dannie Richmond contributing stimulating support. Adams' raspy vocal on the title track is fun. This set is not quite as essential as some of the Adams-Pullen Quartet's later releases, but worth picking up. ~ Scott Yanow

George Adams (tenor sax, flute, vocal)
Don Pullen (piano)
Cameron Brown (bass)
Dannie Richmond (drums)

1. Autumn Song
2. Don't Lose Control
3. Remember?
4. Double Arc Jake
5. Places and Faces

Woody Herman - Live in Stereo: 1963 Summer Tour

Recorded at an undocumented concert in the summer of 1963, AMG and even Bruyninckx insist that a number of these tracks are the same recordings that appeared on Encore 1963, which was recorded at Basin Street West and released by Philips Records. But they are not - trust me.

Not a bad live recording for 1963 although a few of the solos are off-mike. Along with the standard tunes from the band's 1963 book, "Summertime" and "Mood Indigo" were never recorded in the studio and there's an unidentified track that even Nat Pierce couldn't remember the title of.

Bill Chase and Billy Hunt are featured on trumpet, Phil Wilson and Henry Southall on trombone, and it's always a thrill to hear Sal Nistico tear it up on "Sister Sadie".

Woody Herman (clarinet, alto sax)
Bill Chase, Gerry Lamy, Billy Hunt, Dave Gale, Paul Fontaine (trumpet)
Phil Wilson, Henry Southall, Bob Rudolph (trombone)
Sal Nistico, Bobby Jones or Carmen Leggio, Jack Stevens (tenor sax)
Frank Hittner or Marvin Holladay (baritone sax)
Nat Pierce (piano)
Chuck Andrus (bass)
Jake Hanna (drums
  1. Introduction/The Preacher
  2. Jazz Me Blues
  3. The Days of Wine and Roses
  4. Watermelon Man
  5. Four Brothers
  6. It's a Lonesome Old Town
  7. Sister Sadie
  8. Molasses
  9. Summertime
  10. Mood Indigo
  11. Unknown Title
  12. Sidewalks of Cuba
  13. Blues Groove (aka Cousins)

Friday, January 16, 2009

John Coltrane - Soultrane (20bit K2)

"Even now, some enthusiastic supporters mislocate the much-cited 'sheets of sound' period, assuming that the phrase refers to the teeming wails and seemingly endless solos of later years. In fact, it relates to the work Trane was doing through the extended public woodshed that was 1958. Soultrane, to be fair, is an excellent record. One can quickly hear how much further the saxophonist was able to push the harmonic language than he had been doing with the same group in August 1957. 'I Want To Talk About You' was to become another of Coltrane's favourite standards, and this is a hugely thoughtful and technically adroit reading, ranging without strain across two-and-a-half octaves." ~ Penguin Guide

In addition to being bandmates within Miles Davis' mid-'50s quintet, John Coltrane (tenor sax) and Red Garland (piano) head up a session featuring members from a concurrent version of the Red Garland Trio: Paul Chambers (bass) and Art Taylor (drums). This was the second date to feature the core of this band. A month earlier, several sides were cut that would end up on Coltrane's Lush Life album. Soultrane offers a sampling of performance styles and settings from Coltrane and crew. As with a majority of his Prestige sessions, there is a breakneck-tempo bop cover (in this case an absolute reworking of Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby"), a few smoldering ballads (such as "I Want to Talk About You" and "Theme for Ernie"), as well as a mid-tempo romp ("Good Bait"). Each of these sonic textures displays a different facet of not only the musical kinship between Coltrane and Garland but in the relationship that Coltrane has with the music. The bop-heavy solos that inform "Good Bait," as well as the "sheets of sound" technique that was named for the fury in Coltrane's solos on the rendition of "Russian Lullaby" found here, contain the same intensity as the more languid and considerate phrasings displayed particularly well on "I Want to Talk About You." As time will reveal, this sort of manic contrast would become a significant attribute of Coltrane's unpredictable performance style. Not indicative of the quality of this set is the observation that, because of the astounding Coltrane solo works that both precede and follow Soultrane -- most notably Lush Life and Blue Train -- the album has perhaps not been given the exclusive attention it so deserves. ~ Lindsay Planer

John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Red Garland (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Arthur Taylor (drums)

1. Good Bait
2. I Want To Talk About You
3. You Say You Care
4. Theme For Ernie
5. Russian Lullaby

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey: February 7, 1958

Friday Fusion

Don Sebesky - Giant Box (1973)

I know this can be found elsewhere, but probably not in flac.

This may have been Creed Taylor's most ambitious single project. As the cash was flowing in the wake of Deodato's massive "2001" hit, Taylor rounded up almost every headliner on CTI's roster, had house-arranger Don Sebesky write big-thinking charts for them, and gave Sebesky top billing and two LPs of space. Two decades later, the lineup reads almost like a gathering of the gods -- Freddie Hubbard, Randy Brecker, Hubert Laws, Paul Desmond, Joe Farrell, Grover Washington, Jr., Milt Jackson, George Benson, Bob James, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham, Airto Moreira, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, all on one album. Thankfully the musicmaking lives up to the billing. Everything that gave CTI its distinctive sound and identity is here -- the classical adaptations (Stravinsky's Firebird is merged shotgun-style with John McLaughlin's "Birds of Fire"), elaborate orchestrations and structuring, pop-tune covers, plenty of room for the star soloists to stretch out in a combo format. The stars all come out to shine; Desmond sounds especially inspired in a shimmering "Song to a Seagull" and Hubbard and Washington burn furiously on the appropriately-titled "Free as a Bird." And Sebesky was given a flyer to experiment; hence the wild extended swarms of freeform strings on "Firebird" and Laws' fancy Echoplexed winds on "Fly." The two original LPs were gathered in a classical-style box, complete with a booklet of photos and an interview with Sebesky, but the austere CBS CD reissue condenses everything onto a generic single disc. However less ostentatious, Giant Box still ranks as a sensational coup and a reminder of how potent CTI was at its peak. - Richard S. ginell

Featured Players:
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Paul Desmond (alto sax)
Joe Farrell (soprano sax)
Grover Washington, Jr. (alto, soprano sax)
Hubert Laws (flute)
Milt Jackson (vibes)
Bob James, Don Sebesky (piano, organ)
George Benson (guitar)
Ron Carter (bass)
Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham (drums)
Jackie Cain, Roy Kral, Don Sebesky (vocals)
  1. Semi-Tough
  2. Fly/Circles
  3. Song to a Seagull
  4. Free as a Bird
  5. Psalm 150
  6. Vocalise
  7. Firebird/Birds of Fire
Recorded at Van Gelder Studios, April 1973

Buddy DeFranco - 1954 Buddy DeFranco & The Oscar Peterson Quartet

The six selections on this CD are from a long-out-of-print LP featuring the brilliant clarinetist Buddy DeFranco with the Oscar Peterson Quartet (Peterson's trio plus drummer Louie Bellson). While the six selections are all standards, DeFranco and Peterson produce plenty of fireworks with the majority of the numbers being taken up-tempo. DeFranco sounds flawless on clarinet, making it sound so easy to play lightning-fast runs; few other clarinetists have ever come close.
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

1 Sweet And Lovely (Arnheim - Lemare - Tobias) 7:06
2 Fascinatin' Rhythm (Gershwin - Gershwin) 4:54
3 Love For Sale (Porter) 9:30
4 Easy To Love (Porter) 4:58
5 Pick Yourself Up (Kern - Fields) 11:26
6 They Can't Take That away From Me (Gershwin - Gershwin) 6:05

Recorded in Los Angeles on October 29, 1954

Buddy DeFranco (cl)
Oscar Peterson (p)
Herb Ellis (g)
Ray Brown (b)
Louie Bellson (d)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Billy Strayhorn - A Proper Introduction to Billy Strayhorn: Passion Flower

An extravagantly gifted composer, arranger and pianist -- some considered him a genius -- Billy Strayhorn toiled throughout most of his maturity in the gaudy shadow of his employer, collaborator and friend, Duke Ellington. Only in the last decade has Strayhorn's profile been lifted to a level approaching that of Ellington, where diligent searching of the Strayhorn archives (mainly by David Hajdu, author of the excellent Strayhorn bio Lush Life) revealed that Strayhorn's contribution to the Ellington legacy was far more extensive and complex than once thought.

Still, among musicians and jazz fans, Strayhorn is renowned for acknowledged classics like "Lotus Blossom," "Lush Life," "Rain Check," "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" and "Mid-Riff." While tailored for the Ellington idiom, Strayhorn's pieces often have their own bittersweet flavor, and his larger works have coherent, classically influenced designs quite apart from those of Ellington. A 1940-41 dispute with ASCAP that kept Ellington's compositions off the radio gave Strayhorn his big chance to contribute several tunes to the Ellington bandbook, among them "After All," "Chelsea Bridge," "Johnny Come Lately" and "Passion Flower."

This retrospective of the career of jazz pianist Billy Strayhorn features 21 remastered tracks and a booklet with rare photos, session information, and liner notes.

Billy Strayhorn (piano)
Duke Ellington (piano)
Nat King Cole (piano, vocals)
Charlie Rouse (tenor sax)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Cootie Williams (trumpet)
Cat Anderson (trumpet)
Betty Roche (vocals)
Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax)
Wardell Gray (tenor sax)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)

1. (I Want) Something To Live For
2. Grievin'
3. Day Dream
4. After All
5. Clementine
6. Passion Flower
7. Raincheck
8. Chelsea Bridge
9. Kissing Bug
10. Midriff
11. A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing
12. Flippant Flurry
13. Progressive Gavotte
14. Lotus Blossom
15. Lush Life
16. Snibor
17. The Eight Veil
18. Brown Betty
19. Johnny Come Lately
20. Take the "A" Train
21. Satin Doll

Joe Albany - Portrait of an Artist (1982) [LP > FLAC]

Looking at pianist Joe Albany's life in hindsight, it is miraculous that he lived to almost reach 64. Serious problems with drugs and alcohol resulted in a series of harrowing incidents and his domestic life would never be described as tranquil (his second wife committed suicide while his third almost died from a drug overdose). Albany's life was so erratic that he only recorded once during 1947-1971. However, Joe Albany's real importance is as one of the early bop pianists. After playing accordion as a child, he switched to piano in high school and in 1942 joined Leo Watson's group. He had short-term associations with Benny Carter, Georgie Auld, Boyd Raeburn, and most significantly Charlie Parker. Albany's live recordings with Parker and some brilliant studio sides with Lester Young in 1946 (the latter later reissued on Blue Note) were the high points of his career. Decades of struggle followed (which he frankly described in the excellent 1980 documentary Joe Albany...a Jazz Life), with Riverside's The Right Combination (a rehearsal session with tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh) being the only documentation from the lost years. Other than a short stint with Charles Mingus in the mid-'60s, it was not until 1972 that Albany started to have a comeback. He recorded a set with violinist Joe Venuti and was a leader on albums for Revelation, Horo, Inner City, SeaBreeze, and Interplay. The excellent 1982 Elektra/Musician set Portrait of an Artist was the final statement from the troubled but talented pianist.

This mostly ballad-oriented trio set with bassist George Duvivier and drummer Charlie Persip was pianist Joe Albany's final recording. Albany, whose career (especially on records) did not really get going until his final decade, is in generally good form on such tunes as "Autumn In New York," "They Say It's Wonderful" and "Confirmation." The album concludes with a brief interview that sums up some aspects of his episodic life. - Scott Yanow

Joe Albany (piano)
Al Gafa (guitar)
George Duvivier (bass)
Charli Persip (drums)
  1. Autumn in New York
  2. Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry
  3. For the Little Guy
  4. They Say It's Wonderful
  5. Too Late Now
  6. Confirmation
  7. Ruby, My Dear
  8. A Conversation with Joe Albany

Mal Waldron - What It Is

A solid set featuring Mingus alumni for the most part. Jordan and Richmond were, of course in the same Mingus band at the same time, I don't think Waldron and Jordan ever were. In the massive Waldron discography (Plosin lists 234 and notes; "I must have missed many records"), this comes a month after the Dreher sessions, and yet there were 3 other albums between. Waldron then took what must have been a long break, for him, between recordings - a month and a half until his next. Hey, I for one am glad he was so prolific, and was valued enough to be recorded so often.

Mal Waldron (piano)
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
Cecil McBee (bass)
Dannie Richmond (drums)

1. Charlie Parker's Last Supper
2. Hymn From The Inferno
3. What It Is

New York: November 15, 1981

Blossom Dearie - Et Tu Bruce (1984)

Blossom Dearie has returned to the piano at the Ballroom, 253 West 28th Street, to sing and play her third winter season of early evening programs starting at 6:30 Wednesdays through Saturdays. She comes, as usual, with a repertory of songs - funny songs, charming songs, wistful songs - that have become closely identified with her and with her very personal manner of delivery.

Her almost teeny-tiny voice continues to be a remarkably expressive instrument, capable of projecting moods ranging from the tender to the drily comic with only the slightest change of inflection. It is a range that goes from parodied sophistication into Dave Frishberg songs that she brought to light, ''I'm Hip'' and ''Peel Me a Grape,'' and the mind-numbing list of fading gossip-column names in ''My New Celebrity Is You,'' which she wrote with Johnny Mercer, to the gentle, warming imagery of another of her songs, ''Inside a Silent Tear.''

After a six-month absence from the Ballroom, Miss Dearie has come back with some notable new songs. ''Sad Song Lady'' and ''Are You Still in Love With Emily?'' have the subdued sense of heartbreak that trembles convincingly in Miss Dearie's delivery. But the high point of her newer material is her hilariously straight- faced delivery of some waspish advice to a transvestite friend in John Wallowitch's ''Bruce.'' This song takes its place with her classics and provides the title for her latest album, ''Et Tu, Bruce.'' John S. Wilson

1. Hey John
2. You Have Lived in Autumn
3. Alice in Wonderland
4. I Won't Dance
5. Riviera, The
6. Someone's Been Sending Me Flowers
7. Winchester in Apple Blossom Time
8. Bruce
9. Inside a Silent Team
10. Satin Doll

Recorded live in The Ballroom in New York, New York on April 27 & April 28, 1984

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Clifford Jordan & Ran Blake - Masters from Different Worlds (1989)

The billing here is misleading because Clifford Jordan appears on only four out of ten tracks, three of those on soprano instead of his usual tenor sax. This is the first release out of sessions that Ran Blake did for the Mapleshade label in 1989 with various combinations of musicians. Jordan was usually thought of as a mainstream player but he did have associations with Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy so he knew about playing out. That shows in his duets with Blake on "Something to Live For" and "Vanguard", his warm, romantic sound first making a wonderful foil to Blake's trademark hesitant dread, but slowly developing into ghostly shrieks and sinister melodies. Blake's penchant for dark, dreamlike moods colors the entire CD no matter who he plays with. Unlikely pop melodies like John Lennon's "Julia" and Burt Bachrach's "Wives and Lovers" are dismantled and reassembled as pale commentaries on themselves. "Julia" is a piano solo but "Wives and Lovers" adds Washington, DC's Windmill Saxophone Quartet and classical contralto Claudia Polley who help turn the piece into a dark carousel waltz. The Windmillers are also present on the liveliest track, "A Touch of Evil", pirouetting and howling an off-kilter mambo over Blake's menacing Latin theme. Trombonist Julian Priester joins Blake and Jordan for two trios on "Arline" and "Doug's Prelude", a Jordan-penned tribute to bassist Doug Watkins which add a bluesy Mingus-like sonority to the craggy piano. Best of all is a beautiful version of Blake's elegy for Thelonious Monk's deceased daughter "Short Life of Barbara Monk", by Blake, Priester, Polley and drummer Steve Williams. The composition is probably Blake's finest: haunting, childlike and softly eerie. Priester's defiantly lively trombone and Polley's wordless sighing illuminate the song's beauty while Blake's piano teeters obsessively and Williams adds just the right amount of turbulence. Clifford Jordan fans might feel a little cheated by this but for Blake devotees (like me) this is heaven, a rare chance to hear him play with a number of different musicians and showcase the drama of his music. - Jerome Wilson

Clifford Jordan would only release two recordings after this: Four, a quartet session, and Play What You Feel, where he fulfilled a life-long ambition to form his own big band.

Ran Blake (piano)
Clifford Jordan (tenor, soprano sax)
Julian Priester (trombone)
Steve Williams (drums)
Alfredo Mojica (congas)
Claudia Polley (voice)
Windmill Saxophone Quartet
  1. Something to Live For
  2. A Touch of Evil
  3. Arline
  4. Laura
  5. Short Life of Barbara Monk
  6. Vanguard
  7. Julia
  8. Wives and Lovers
  9. Doug's Prelude
  10. Mood Indigo
Recorded December 26-30, 1989

Charlie Rouse - Bossa Nova Bacchanal (TOCJ)

This 1962 date by tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse celebrates a grander and funkier scale of what Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd did earlier in 1962 with the bossa nova. Unlike Getz, Rouse didn't feel he needed to be a purist about it, and welcomed all sorts of Afro-Caribbean variations into his music. His choice of bandmates reflects that: a three piece percussion section with drummer Willie Bobo, conguero Carlos "Patato" Valdes, and Garvin Masseaux on chekere (a beaded percussion instrument that is played by being shaken). Add to this bassist Larry Gales, and a pair of guitarists, Kenny Burrell, and Chauncey Westbrook, along with Rouse, and it is an unusual and exotic sextet. Burrell and Masseaux were part of Ike Quebec's band on Soul Samba, but the two recordings couldn't be more different. For his part, Rouse's embrace of bossa nova, as well as other Latin and Caribbean music, is firmly rooted in jazz -- and not American jazz trying to be Brazilian. Rhythmically, Rouse, who is a hard bopper if there ever was one, takes the rhythmic and harmonic concepts of the samba, marries them to Afro-Caribbean folk styles, and burns it all through with the gloriously unapologetic swing of jazz. The standout selections here are a pair of Luiz Bonfá tunes, "Velhos Tempos," and his classic "Samba de Orfeu." On the former, both guitarists play unamplified guitars in rhythmic counterpoint as Rouse offers first the melody, and then an improvisation in the upper register of the horn, on the latter, nix the counterpoint and listen, as both guitarists shimmer through the changes, one playing just behind the beat for a reverb effect. The percussion interplay is startling in its complexity, but seamless and warm in its balance, resulting in a fine section solo in the middle of the cut that is infectious. Ultimately, this is one of Rouse's finest moments as a leader .... This Rouse title may not be an obvious choice for most jazz buyers, but it is worth seeking out and snapping up before its print run lapses. ~ Thom Jurek

Charlie Rouse (tenor sax)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Chauncey Westbrook (guitar)
Larry Gales (bass)
Willie Bobo (drums)
Garvin Masseaux (chekere)

1. Back To The Tropics
2. Aconteceu
3. Velhos Tempos
4. Samba De Orfeu
5. Un Dia
6. Meci Bon Dieu
7. In Martinique
8. One For Five

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: November 26, 1962

Duke Ellington - Jazz Violin Session

I have no use for Frank Sinatra as a person or performer, so it's perhaps proper to acknowledge some good he did: when Sinatra started his Reprise label, he signed Duke Ellington not only as an artist, but as an A&R man. Ellington contracted Bud Powell to do his "Bud Powell In Paris" album which was recorded in Paris that same month. Reprise never became a jazz label, but I think Duke's work around this time was especially interesting, and sonically excellent. Here Duke spares no expense - this album features both violin AND fiddle. There are some sublime moments to be found here, but a shocking lack of pastelate interval cracks; I'm sure Jurek would have noted them.

This small group session was recorded in 1963 for Atlantic, and originally issued in 1976, two years after Duke Ellington's death. It showcases a small group that features string players in the front line. Ray Nance, the Duke's own violinist, is here as is the legendary Stephane Grappelli and violist Svend Asmussen. The rest of the players include tenor man Paul Gonsalves, drummer Sam Woodyard, bassist Ernie Shepard, alto saxist Russell Procope, and trombonist Buster Cooper. Ellington plays piano no all but two tunes where Billy Strayhorn replaced him. The program is a collection of Ellington and Strayhorn standards from "Blues in C" and "Take the 'A' Train," to "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "Cotton Tail," and the wonderful "Limbo Jazz." The soloist and group interplay are gentle, swinging, and utterly and completely graceful and elegant. There is a lighthearted tenderness in this set that borders on sentimentality without ever going there. And the feeling is loose, relaxed, and full of warmth throughout. ~ Thom Jurek

Duke Ellington (piano
Billy Strayhorn (piano)
Stéphane Grappelli (violin)
Ray Nance (violin)
Svend Asmussen (viola)
Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax)
Russell Procope (alto sax)
Buster Cooper (trombone)
Ernie Shepard (bass)
Sam Woodyard (drums)

1. Take The A Train
2. In A Sentimental Mood
3. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
4. Day Dream
5. Cotton Tail
6. Pretty Little One
7. Tricky's Licks
8. Blues In C
9. String Along With Strings
10. Limbo Jazz
11. The Feeling Of Jazz

Barclay Studios, Paris: February 22, 1963

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

VIDEO: Richard Galliano at Nancy Jazz Pulsations 2008

CIA assets should be familiar with Richard Galliano, I believe there was something posted here awhile back by our agent-in-chief but I can't immediately turn it up. Anyway, this is a fine concert from Nancy, France, at the 2008 'Jazz Pulsations' festival. And of course that's Charlie Haden on bass, plus there is the great Gonzalo Rubalcaba at the piano and Clarence Penn on drums. Great stuff, I think you will agree! More details in the credits at the end of this 1-hour show.

Charlie Parker 10th Memorial Concert (1965)

Limelight Records was a subsidiary of Mercury that was started by Quincy Jones to feature a number of high profile jazz artists such as Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Roland Kirk, Gerry Mulligan, Les McCann, Chet Baker, Oscar Peterson and others. There were a total of 71 albums released with many, such as this one, never reissued on CD. Most of the LPs were released with gatefold covers and the inside had booklets attached that featured elaborate designs with liner notes and original artwork. A good source of info on these and all Mercury recordings can be found at

The cover scan says monaural but this is a rip of the stereo LP.

The Charlie Parker 10th Memorial Concert was recorded live at Carnegie Hall on March 27, 1965 and opens with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet playing "Um-Hmm! (Ode to Yard)", a Kenny Barron original, followed by "Groovin' High". Then there's a long jam on "Now's the Time" with Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, J.J. Johnson, Billy Taylor, Tommy Potter and Roy Haynes. Side two opens with an unaccompanied alto sax solo by Lee Konitz and then Dave Lambert, on what would be his final recording, has one of the best scat vocals I've heard from him on "Donna Lee". The final tune of the evening starts with Billy Taylor playing his own "Bird Watcher" and he is soon joined by Tommy Potter and Roy Haynes with a rare bass solo from Potter. There are solos by Kenny Dorham, Lee Konitz, J.J. Johnson and Dizzy Gillespie before the horns take it out with riffs from "Disorder at the Border".

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
James Moody (alto, tenor sax)
Kenny Barron (piano)
Chris White (bass)
Rudy Collins (drums)
1. Um-Hmm! (Ode to Yard)
2. Groovin' High

Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
J.J. Johnson (as C.C. Siegel) (trombone)
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Billy Taylor (piano)
Tommy Potter (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)
3. Now's the Time

Lee Konitz (alto sax)
4. Blues for Bird

Dave Lambert (vocal)
Billy Taylor (piano)
Tommy Potter (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)
5. Donna Lee

Kenny Dorham, Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Lee Konitz (alto sax)
Billy Taylor (piano)
Tommy Potter (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)
6. Medley: Bird Watcher/Disorder at the Border

Recorded at Carnegie Hall, March 27, 1965

Art Farmer - Portrait Of Art Farmer

Though as unassumingly handled as everything in Farmer's discography, this one has been signposted as a classic. The rhythm section is beautifully balanced and offers exemplary support to the leader, whose playing summons elegance, fire and craftmanship in almost perfect accord, with his ballad playing particularly refined. Never as feted as any comparable session by Miles Davis, this is still jazz trumpet-playing on an exalted level and should be acknowledged as such. ~ Penguin Guide

Art Farmer helped to popularize the flugelhorn in post-bop jazz, but on 1958's Portrait Of Art Farmer he plays trumpet on all nine tracks. Farmer's breathy horn sound is supported here by sensitive and tight performances from pianist Hank Jones, bassist (and twin brother) Addison Farmer, and drummer Roy Haynes. Together they play gently swinging renditions of standards "The Very Thought of You," "Stablemates," and others.

The set also features three clever tunes penned by Farmer himself, including the up-tempo "And Now," which may be the album's highlight. In addition to Farmer's own inspired solo, this selection features the nimble piano work of Jones, and the crisp, meticulous drumming of Haynes. The last tune, a spirited take on Hammerstein & Kern's "Folks Who Live on the Hill," did not appear on the original LP, but was added to this Original Jazz Classics CD reissue.

Art Farmer (trumpet)
Hank Jones (piano)
Addison Farmer (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)

1. Back In The Cage
2. Stablemates
3. The Very Thought Of You
4. "And Now..."
5. Nita
6. By Myself
7. Too Late Now
8. Earth
9. Folks Who Live On The Hill

Recorded in New York: April 19 and May 1, 1958

Modern Jazz Quartet - Topsy, This One's For Basie (1985)

Despite the title of this CD, the music on this 1985 studio set from the Modern Jazz Quartet is not a program of Count Basie tunes (with the exception of "Topsy"), although Basie apparently liked the John Lewis composition "D and E." The other unrelated music is highlighted by an unaccompanied feature for vibraphonist Milt Jackson ("Nature Boy"), "Reunion Blues," and three more complex pieces from pianist John Lewis. Overall this CD gives listeners a fine example of the music of the Modern Jazz Quartet during the 1980s. Scott Yanow

The MJQ disbanded in 1974 after 20 years as the Modern Jazz Quartet and two previous ones as the Milt Jackson Quartet. It was one of the longest-lived small bands in the history of jazz . As almost all dissolved groups of enormous popularity do, it reunited for tours, concerts, and recordings. Topsy was the occasion for one of those reunions. It was also an opportunity to pay homage to Count Basie, whose piano style John Lewis absorbed as a component of his own playing and whose band's qualities inspired the MJQ's approach from the beginning. The great Basie band of the late Thirties and early Forties and the MJQ had in common the blues and the rare ability to swing with power and weightlessness. "D and E" is a perfect expression of that commonality, but by no means the only one in this splendid album. Concord Jazz website

John Lewis (piano)
Milt Jackson (vibraphone)
Percy Heath (bass)
Connie Kay (drums)

1 Reunion Blues (Jackson) 4:12
2 Nature Boy (Ahbez) 5:06
3 Topsy, Pt. 2 (Battle, Durham) 4:43
4 D and E (Lewis) 8:30
5 Valeria (Lewis) 6:49
6 Milano (Lewis) 5:54
7 Le Cannet (Lewis) 8:19

Recorded June 3-4, 1985 at RCA Recording Studios, New York City

Tal Farlow - Cookin On All Burners

On the fifth of six Concord albums (a surprising amount of activity considering that he only played locally in the New England area during most of 1957-1975), the brilliant bop-based guitarist Tal Farlow performs concise renditions (none over six and a half minutes in length) of nine standards with pianist James Williams, bassist Gary Mazzaroppi, and drummer Vinnie Johnson. Highlights of the excellent straight-ahead date include "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," "I've Got the World on a String," "Love Letters," and "Just Friends."
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

01 - You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To - Porter (3:29)
02 - If I Should Lose You - Robin, Rainger (5:00)
03 - I Wished on the Moon - Parker, Rainger (5:23)
04 - I've Got the World on a String - Arlen, Koehler (6:23)
05 - Love Letters - Young, Heyman (3:58)
06 - Why Shouldn't I? - Porter (3:09)
07 - Lullaby of the Leaves - Petkere, Young (5:40)
08 - Just Friends - Lewis, Klenner (3:49)
09 - I Thought About You - Van Heusen, Mercer (4:21)

Tal Farlow: Guitar
James Williams: Piano
Gary Mazzaroppi: Bass
Vinnie Johnson: Drums

Recorded at Soundmixers, New York, on August 1982

Frank Wess - 1954 Wess Point. The Commodore Recordings

Virtually everything recorded by tenor saxophonist Frank Wess is worth hearing—and that's saying something. Best known for his rock-solid playing along side Frank Foster in Count Basie's band from 1953 to 1964, Wess' solos always sound tough and tender, which is what makes them so compelling.
Wess also was among the first musicians to turn the flute into a swinging jazz instrument, and his writing for the Basie band and small groups were carefully crafted and hugely energetic.
After playing in the bands of Billy Eckstine (1946), Eddie Heywood (1946), Lucky Millinder (1947) and Bull Moose Jackson (1948-49), Wess studied the flute intensively with two classical music teachers. During this period he also played tenor on a handful of recordings backing other artists before joining Count Basie's band in August 1953.
Throughout the 1950s, Wess helped drive and shape the Basie band as a player and arranger. When Basie wasn't touring or recording, Wess recorded frequently as a leader and sideman in small groups. While Wess could swing with confidence on top of a band chart, he also could modify his style in small groups without compromising the yearning and poetry of his sound.
Perhaps the best of his non-Basie dates of the 1950s were made for Commodore Records in 1954. They were his first record dates as a leader, and the tracks show off Wess' proficiency on both tenor and flute. You also can hear his ambition to make a name for himself in the perfection of every number.
The first of his leadership dates for Commodore was recorded on May 8, 1954. Appearing as the Frank Wess Quintet, the group included Wess on tenor and flute, Henry Coker on trombone, Jimmy Jones on piano, Oscar Pettiford on bass and Osie Johnson on drums. For some reason Benny Powell replaced Coker on a three of the seven tracks recorded that day.
The next Wess-led Commodore session was recorded on August 12. This time Wess fronted the Frank Wess Sextet, featuring Wess on tenor and flute, Joe Wilder on trumpet, Henry Coker on trombone and the same rhythm section as the May date, with Urbie Green subbing for Coker on four tracks.
What makes these Commodore sessions so special are Wess' song writing skills, the compact arrangements and his blowing. All of the charts are tightly executed, which is a testament to Wess' insistence on intensive rehearsals prior to recording. A look at the matrix numbers show that most of the tracks were nailed in the first and second takes, with an occasional third, and the alternates are as good as the masters.
What's more, Wess' flute playing on these dates demonstrate that the orchestral instrument could swing if played with the right feel and authority. Writes Stanley Dance in The World of Count Basie (1980): "There can be no doubt that the [flute's] acceptance and popularity were very much due to [Wess'] presentation as a flute soloist in the Basie band."
Count Basie dates Frank Wess' first flute solo in the band to late December 1953. Said Basie in Good Morning Blues (1985):
"Frank was an excellent flute player, but he had been with us for a little while before I found that out. Don Redman hipped me to him. We were uptown playing a gig somewhere, and Don came by and asked me how Frank was doing, and he said, 'Has he played anything on the flute for you yet?' And I said, 'Well I didn't know about that.' And Don said, 'Why don't you try him?'
So one day at the Savoy we were doing a jam and I told Frank, 'Why don't you take a couple of choruses on your flute? Did you bring your flute?'
And he looked surprised. 'Do you really want me to?'
'Yeah,' I said. 'Take a couple and see what happens.'
So he went out there and played and broke it up, and as soon as I hear him, that was when I realized that we had a new thing to go back down into Birdland with [on New Year's Eve]. So that's how the flute thing started, because it seemed to me that it excited just about everybody that came down here...Frank Wess is the man who really brought the flute into the jazz scene beginning right down there in Birdland."
Wess recorded many albums throughout the 1950s for a wide range of labels. All are superb. But to me, the Commodore sessions remain standout examples of Wess' prowess as a composer, arranger, leader, tenor player and flutist.

Long available only as an Atlantic LP and then part of a Commodore CD box from Mosaic Records, Frank Wess' Commodore sessions (including work in 1954 under the leadership of Thad Jones) are available on Fresh Sounds as Frank Wess: The Commodore Recordings.
What's remarkable about these dates is that the music Wess recorded sounds two or three years ahead of its time. The date was 1954, but if you were blindfolded and asked to guess the year in which they were recorded, you'd probably say 1956 or 1957.
In addition to Wess' rich playing on ballads and peppery attacks on up-tempo numbers, pianist Jimmy Jones throws off stardust, providing Wess with a perfectly lovely background. The contrast between Jones' twinkling ideas and Wess' sharp lines make for an exciting combination.
Re-listening to the recordings (I own the LP), I couldn't help but notice that Wess' approach on both tenor and flute sounds more like that of a singer than an instrumentalist. Fascinating stuff.
Marc Myers (

01. Wess Point 2:12 Frank Wess
02. Some Other Spring 4:30 Wilson-Herzog
03. Mishawaka 4:47 Olsen
04. Flute Song 3:37 Wess-Feather
05. Basie Ain’t Here 1:58 Frank Wess
06. Basie Ain’t Here (alt. take) 3:19 Frank Wess
07. You’re My Thrill 2:38 Gorney-Clare
08. Frankosis 5:59 Johnson
09. Pretty Eyes 3:13 Reddie-Lunceford-Welsh
10. Wess Of The Moon 5:36 Johnson
11. I’ll Be Around 3:09 Wilder
12. Danny’s Delight 3:17 Frank Wess
13. Romance 3:17 Donaldson-Leslie
14. All My Life 3:21 Mitchell-Stept
15. Frankly The Blues 2:49 Frank Wess
16. Bitty Ditty* 4:53 Jones
17. Elusive* 5:14 Jones

*Bonus Tracks

FRANK WESS QUINTET (1-4): Henry Coker, trombone; Frank Wess, tenor sax & flute; Jimmy Jones, piano; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Osie Johnson, drums. New York, May 8, 1954
(5-8): Same, but Benny Powell, trombone, replaces Coker.

FRANK WESS SEXTET (9-11): Joe Wilder, trumpet; Henry Coker, trombone; Frank Wess, tenor sax & flute; Jimmy Jones, piano; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Osie Johnson, drums. New York, August 12, 1954
(12-15): Same, but Urbie Green, trombone, replaces Coker.

THAD JONES QUINTET (16-17): Thad Jones, trumpet; Frank Wess, tenor sax; Hank Jones, piano; Charles Mingus, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums. New York, August 11, 1954

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vienna Art Orchestra - Quiet Ways:Ballads

Biography by Chris Kelsey

In the jazz world, Vienna is about as far from New York's Lincoln Center as you can get. It follows that Mathias Rüegg's Vienna Art Orchestra has about as much in common with Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center big band as a Sacher torte has with a Hostess Cup Cake; while they share some ingredients, the Austrian product satisfies on a more profound level. By the turn of the century, the Lincoln Center paradigm defined the jazz big band as a finished concept — locked into the past, serving mostly as a repertory ensemble. The VAO, on the other hand, while hardly ignoring traditional jazz verities, lives in the present and looks to the future. Rather than relying on a narrowly interpreted version of jazz history, they make their own, combining elements of jazz (mainstream through avant-garde), classical (Erik Satie is a Rüegg favorite), and vernacular music with intelligence and not a little humor. Rüegg was born in Zurich, Switzerland. He discovered jazz in secondary school and he moved to Austria and attended the Musikhochschule in Graz in the early '70s. He moved to Vienna and worked as a solo pianist in a nightclub. Solo became a duo with the addition of saxophonist Wolfgang Puschnig. The ensemble grew further; eventually it was comprised of as many as 16 musicians, and the VAO was born. The band never adhered to conventional big band instrumentation. Rüegg regularly incorporates instruments such as marimba, bass clarinet, piccolo, tuba, and even alphorn into his arrangements and compositions. Neither does the band stick to a typical performance format; for example, they've worked with choirs and brass bands, for television and film. By 1980, the band had developed a reputation, receiving invitations to perform at festivals in Cologne and Zurich; that year, the band also signed their first recording contract with the Swiss hatART label. In 1984, they toured the U.S. and finished first in the Down Beat magazine critics' poll for Talent Deserving Wider Recognition. By the late '80s, they were firmly established as one of the world's finest large ensembles, a status they maintained into the next century. Rüegg was the band's sole writer for the first 15 years of its existence. In 1992, he began contracting work to other composers and arrangers, although the band continued to bear his indelible stamp
1- What's new (Haggart-Burke) - Feat. Hellen Merrill
2- (Somewhere) Over the rainbow (Arlen-Harburg) - Feat. Monika Trotz
3- Lush life (Strayhorn) - Feat. Linda Sharrock
4- The ballad of sad young man (Wolf-Landesman) - Feat. Anna Lauvergnac
5- Once upon a summertime (Barclay - Legrand - Mercer) Feat. Betty Carter
6- If you could see me now (Dameron-Sigman) - Feat. Sheila Jordan
7- You've changed (Carey-Fischer) Feat. Urszula Dudziak
8- One for my baby (Arlen-Mercer) Feat. M. Trotz and A. Lauvergnac
9- Innocence of clichés - Feat. Ivonne Moore

Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar (1906-2001)

This post is the result of nothing better to do on a cold, drizzly Sunday. Four CDs of 78 pluckers, pickers, strummers and tappers with a 148-page book containing player profiles, a discography of all tracks, a load of photos, solo transcription excerpts with analysis, and a section that surveys 25 prominent jazz and rock guitarists for their biggest influences. Even though this is the most comprehensive anthology of a single instrument I've seen, somewhere along the line it was decided to limit the set to four CDs so there are number of deserving players that didn't make the cut. Not counting some of the younger players, my list would include Billy Bauer, Cal Collins, Bucky Pizzarelli, Emily Remler, Ed Bickert, Atilla Zoller, Ted Dunbar, Joe Diorio, Ted Greene, Jimmy Bruno, Birelli Lagrene, Bill Connors, Steve Khan, Cornell Dupree, Hiram Bullock and Frank Gambale. I'm guessing that Melanchthon could come up with more than just a few that got left out.

The scans of the book (at 300dpi) take up about 450 MB and can be downloaded as separate pages or in a pdf book.

"This expansive four-disc anthology essentially covers the recorded history of the guitar in the 20th century, beginning with the ragtime banjo that set the table for the role of the guitar in a jazz setting in the early 1900s, and then touching all the bases clear through to the post-postmodern possibilities of the instrument in the 21st century. Don't let the subtitle throw you, though, because Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar interprets jazz guitar in the broadest of strokes, as it includes not only pantheon jazz players like Eddie Lang, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Les Paul, Wes Montgomery, and John McLaughlin but also provides an uncommon sweep by featuring Hawaiian stylists Roy Smeck and Sol Hoopii; Western swing aces Leon McAuliffe and Eldon Shamblin; country jazzman Hank Garland; rock virtuosos Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, and Jeff Beck; fusion funksters Larry Carlton, Al DiMeola, and Mike Stein; and hard to classify avant-garde players like Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock, James Blood Ulmer, and Marc Ribot. In all, 78 guitarists from some 33 labels are represented. Arranged roughly by date of recording from first to last (there are some deviations to trace the development of a particular style), it is easy to follow the track listing for Progressions in the well-organized 148-page book that accompanies the discs, and what emerges is a portrayal of the massive influence the guitar has had on every form of popular music in the past century. One could quibble about players who were left out, and things are slightly tilted toward electric players as the set progresses, although that is probably understandable, since getting the guitar plugged in is what made it work in large ensembles in the first place. It's hard to argue with a piano, but a case could be made (and this set assembles ample evidence) that the electric guitar was the defining popular musical instrument of the 20th century, and certainly the dominant ensemble instrument for the last half of it. Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar suggests that the possibilities for the guitar are far from exhausted as the musical time line begins to edge deeper into the 21st century. A beautiful set." - Steve Leggett

Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage

Not my favorite artist, if I'm going to listen to him at all it'll be this early stuff. What a great supporting crew.

Maiden Voyage has been tussled over more than once. Revisionists will argue that it is glib and superficial, not at all the masterpiece it has been claimed to be. We disagree and have no hesitation in placing it in our premier league. Particularly when, considered as a pair with Empyrean Isles, it represents a colossal achievement from a man still just 24 years old. Both are quiet records, likened by Joachim Berendt to Debussy's La Mer. Coleman plays with delicate understatement and Hancock never puts a foot wrong. No great surprise that the chemistry was so good for, with the obvious exception of Hubbard, this was Miles' group. ~ Penguin Guide

Less overtly adventurous than its predecessor, Empyrean Isles, Maiden Voyage nevertheless finds Herbie Hancock at a creative peak. In fact, it's arguably his finest record of the '60s, reaching a perfect balance between accessible, lyrical jazz and chance-taking hard bop. By this point, the pianist had been with Miles Davis for two years, and it's clear that Miles' subdued yet challenging modal experiments had been fully integrated by Hancock. Not only that, but through Davis, Hancock became part of the exceptional rhythm section of bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, who are both featured on Maiden Voyage, along with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and tenor saxophonist George Coleman. The quintet plays a selection of five Hancock originals, many of which are simply superb showcases for the group's provocative, unpredictable solos, tonal textures, and harmonies. While the quintet takes risks, the music is lovely and accessible, thanks to Hancock's understated, melodic compositions and the tasteful group interplay. All of the elements blend together to make Maiden Voyage a shimmering, beautiful album that captures Hancock at his finest as a leader, soloist, and composer. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Herbie Hancock (piano)
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)
George Coleman (tenor sax)
Ron Carter (bass)
Tony Williams (drums)

1. Maiden Voyage
2. The Eye Of The Hurricane
3. Little One
4. Survival Of The Fittest
5. Dolphin Dance

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: March 17, 1965

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Belize City Boil Up (Eccentric Soul 006)

Anybody know/remember Straker's records on Utica Avenue? - I spent plenty of time there when younger; and Church Avenue had it's share of smaller but equally fascinating little joints. You would walk out of Pumpkins after hearing Arthur Rhames, and listen to this stuff while sitting in Guyana Roti Shop around the corner. I could make an intelligent guess of a few places whose basement these were found in. Richie Haven's family lived down the street ... maybe ... nah. Boogaloo A La Chuck may be the coolest title I've seen here. Viva Brooklyn!

Samba Soul. Afro-beat. Reggae. What were once loose-fitting descriptions for American influenced homegrown R&B, are now but common parlance in the lexicon of genre classification. These regional movements all yielded monumental sonic innovations that returned to America with tidal force, eventually flooding the world with third world treasure. The music of Detroit and Memphis were quite possibly America's largest cultural export of the 1960s, spawning imitators with every radio wave that whispered "I've got sunshine..." or "Sittin' in the morning sun..." into the fertile ear of the uninitiated. For every Nigeria there were ten Ghana's, and every shiny Brazilian soulster had his counterpart in Peru, Argentina, and Columbia. Good news travels fast, and as the gospel of American soul hit the beaches of Trinidad, the Bahamas, and in this case, Belize, it was as though the Gods had not just spoken, but sung. A Cargo Cult is what happens when one culture begins worshipping the byproducts of another. Cult Cargo is the unexpected result of that devotion.

It is here in these sixty odd minutes that The Numero Group unveils a style of music completely unknown to the greater world before we dragged it from the beaches of Belize. The national dish of Belize is made with a diverse mixture of ingredients, pig's tail, potatoes, plantains, bananas, boiled eggs, yams, whole fish, thrown in a pot, and boiled to perfection. They call it a Boil Up. The music of this collection combines equal parts of R&B, calypso, disco, funk, reggae, bruckdown, soul, folk, and whatever else can be found back on the bottom shelf of the musical pantry. This too is called Boil Up, and it’s anything but leftovers.

Almost nothing was known of the records made in Belize between 1960 and 1980. A few bootleg compilations had lifted the Professionals break-laden cover of "Theme From The Godfather" while criminally ignoring their soul-cum-island-dancer "The Back Stabbers." The Soul Creations "Funky Jive" was a mid three figure single owned by few, though sought after by many before we turned up the remaining stock of that 45 in a dank basement under the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. That accidental discovery aside, Belize's CES label was a secret kept by time and a Belizean community that had moved away from phonograph records as soon as it was possible.

As is our habit here at Numero, we’ve taken special care in restoring these sixteen songs from their original analog sources. Paul Q Kolderie and Sean Slade at Camp Street (Radiohead, Pixies, Hole, Morphine), along with Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering worked side by side with us, scouring through more than thirty reels and thousands of feet of tape. Another hundred or so hours went into re-mastering, remixing and reevaluating, all in search of the perfect blend of passport stamped rhythms, second-deck cruise ship melodies, hotel pool calypso, soundtracks to movies not-yet-made, and anything else savory, or unsavory, enough to throw into the pot.

This is Boil Up. Serve it hot.

1. Disco Connection Lord Rhaburn
2. Can't Go Halfway Harmonettes
3. Guajida Jesus Acosta & The Professionals
4. The Same Old Me The Web
5. A Part Of Being With You Professionals
6. More Love Reggae Lord Rhaburn
7. The Back Stabbers Professionals
8. Rated G The Web
9. Shame Shame Shame Harmonettes
10. Funky Jive Part II Soul Creations
11. Don't Fight It Lord Rhaburn
12. Long Time Boy Nadia Cattouse
13. Boogaloo A La Chuck Lord Rhaburn
14. Theme From The Godfather Professionals
15. Things Are Going to Work Out Right The Web
16. Funky Jive Part I Soul Creations

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lee Morgan - Volume 3 (TOCJ)

Although trumpeter Lee Morgan (then only 18) was the nominal leader of this set, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson contributed all five of the compositions and the arrangements for the sextet (which also includes altoist Gigi Gryce, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Charlie Persip). Most notable among the songs is the original version of "I Remember Clifford"; Morgan was the perfect trumpeter to play the tribute to Clifford Brown, who had died in a car crash a year earlier. A fine hard bop date, Lee Morgan, Vol. 3 also features an alternate take of "Tip Toeing" to the original program. ~ Scott Yanow

This 1957 session from trumpeter Lee Morgan, which dates among his earliest recordings for Blue Note, is an excellent post-bop album. The compositions by Benny Golson (who also plays tenor on the date) are streamlined and accessible, yet are still complex and full of challenging ideas. Morgan shows off his nimble technique, and is ably assisted by Gigi Gryce on alto, Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Charlie Persip on drums. The CD reissue of this solid disc, complete with Rudy Van Gelder remastering, is very welcome.

Lee Morgan began carving out his musical legacy while still a teenager and never looked back. He emerged from Philadelphia in 1956 playing with such brilliance that he was dubbed "the new Clifford Brown." Dizzy Gillespie, on one of his tour stops in Philly, heard Lee play and immediately hired him for Gillespie’s own globe trotting band. Lee Morgan was never a mere copy or revivalist but a powerful creative force from the start with his own fresh musical ideas. Few 18-year olds in jazz history have started out at such a high level and maintained it throughout their career. On Vol. 3 from 1957, Morgan performs five compositions and arrangements by the great tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson including the original and definitive version of the heartbreaking "I Remember Clifford." Morgan's sound on trumpet was already brilliant, his ideas fresh and new, and his solos full of crackling fire and confidence. For all of his swagger and intensity, it is Morgan's passionate rendition of "I Remember Clifford" that remains in one's mind long after this superb album is finished. Vol. 3 is a superb musical document of the emergence of a true giant.

Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Gigi Gryce (alto sax, flute)
Benny Golson (tenor sax)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Charlie Persip (drums)

1. Hasaan's Dream
2. Domingo
3. I Remember Clifford
4. Mesabi Chant
5. Tip Toeing

Van Gelder Studio, New Jersey: March 24, 1957

Rab and Earl Hines - 1928-1932 (Chronological 545)

This initial installment in the historical chronology of recordings released under the name of Earl Hines contains no less than 13 finely rendered piano solos. Hines the pianist is caught in the act of tapping into everything that was in the air at the time: ragtime, blues, catchy airs and shout-style stride -- everything a bright young man would have picked up between Pittsburgh and Chicago, with Kansas City, New Orleans and New York coming up through the floorboards. Hines experimented unflinchingly with rhythmic variation, and was by far the most adventurous improviser in all of jazz piano before the rise of Art Tatum. "Caution Blues" is the venerable "Blues in Thirds" taken at a brisk clip. The ensemble sides, which were the very first to appear under Hines' own name, have elements in common with what was being recorded in 1929 by Louis Armstrong, Luis Russell, the nine- and eleven-piece editions of Fats Waller & His Buddies, and many other fine bands of the day. There are two rather insipid vocals by trombonist William Franklin, a fine dose of hefty scat singing from tuba-toting arranger Hayes Alvis, and three decidedly hip examples of Hines as hot and low-down vocalist. He scats with abandon during a smoky rendition of "Everybody Loves My Baby," talks like Don Redman on "Have You Ever Felt That Way?" and chortles wordlessly on "Sister Kate" after the manner of Louis Armstrong. Finishing off the disc with a taste of 1932, "Deep Forest," soon to be established as the Hines theme song, is a sort of piano concerto in miniature. Here is the perfect prologue to what this striking individual went on to accomplish over the next half-century. ~ arwulf arwulf

This CD presents Earl Hines's earliest recordings as a solo pianist and bandleader, from a period when he was defining the possibilities of the piano in jazz and engaging in some wonderful collaborations with Louis Armstrong. The first 12 tracks are all solo piano, and there's much of Armstrong's approach to the trumpet in Hines's playing, from the clarion single-note and octave lines of his right hand to the keen sense of architecture apparent in every solo. The pieces are marked by Hines's tremendous rhythmic energy and invention, almost every one filled with sudden shifts and turns in the pianist's bass parts that will trigger a new series of inventions in the right hand. The second version of "A Monday Date," one of Hines's most famous compositions, and "Fifty-Seven Varieties" are particularly noteworthy, with every chorus signaling a major change in direction. Hines was transforming the already traditional elements of blues and ragtime, adding ringing, bell-like high notes to "Chimes in Blues" and slyly dislodging rhythmic expectations in "Panther Rag." The band tracks feature the group that Hines led at Chicago's Grand Terrace beginning in 1928, with recording sessions from 1929 and 1932. A well-rehearsed, hard-swinging group, it was a fine foil for Hines's own brilliant piano, with other notable performances by cornetist George Mitchell and clarinetists Darnell Howard and Omer Simeon. ~ Stuart Broomer

Earl Hines (piano, vocal)
Omer Simeon (alto and baritone sax, clarinet)
George Mitchell (cornet)
Darnell Howard (clarinet)
Shirley Clay (cornet)
Hayes Alvis (bass, vocal)
Wallace Bishop (drums)

1. Blues In Thirds (Caution Blues)
2. Off Time Blues
3. Chicago High Life
4. A Monday Date
5. Stowaway
6. Chimes In Blues
7. Panther Rag
8. Just Too Soon
9. Caution Blues
10. A Monday Date
11. I Ain't Got Nobody
12. Fifty-Seven Varieties
13. Sweet Ella May
14. Everybody Loves My Bay
15. Good Little, Bad Little You
16. Good Little, Bad Little You
17. Have You Ever Felt That Way?
18. Beau-Koo Jack
19. Sister Kate
20. Chicago Rhythm
21. Glad Rag Roll
22. Grand Piano Blues
23. Blue Nights
24. Deep Forest

Lester Young - Volume 7 1945-1946 {MJCD 118}

Here is Volume 7 of the Masters Of Jazz series devoted to Lester Young. This volume begins with Young's first sides cut after his WWII episode. Three sessions are included here; the first includes Lester's enormous rendering of "These Foolish Things". Next is a session backing Helen Humes. And then we have the bulk of the "Down Beat Magazine Award Winners Concert" (aka "JATP") of 28 Jan. 1946 featuring Gillespie, Parker, et al... (Mel Powell is unbelievable here)...

Everything on this disc is easily available elsewhere ("Complete Alladin Sessions" for tracks 1-7 and take your pick of the JATP compilations for the remaining sides). But it's an MOJ, and since Rab has the first six and has posted a few already here's Volume 7. ..

Billie Holiday - Last Recording

All Ron Wynn at AMG has to say is, "In many ways, a sad event. 1988 reissue of an album with Ray Ellis and his orchestra. It's poignant in a tragic way."

Well, ok, a tear-jerker for some, especially listen to 'Don't Worry 'Bout Me', but 'There'll Be Some Changes Made,' among other tracks, sure has the old stuff, if betraying just how fragile is life itself not only for Billie.

Jack Costanzo - Back from Havana (2000)

To cope with the chilly weather this weekend, try shaking your ass off with some high energy salsa from "Mr. Bongo."

Jack Costanzo is one of the most important pioneers in popularizing Afro-Cuban jazz, playing bongos with Stan Kenton in 1947 on many influential recordings and being a member of the highly visible Nat King Cole Trio from 1949-53. Costanzo, who also doubles on conga, recorded some of his own sessions in the 1950s, guested on many dates, worked in the studios, and eventually settled in San Diego. For his first recording as a leader in many years, Costanzo shows that his playing is still very much in its prime and that his enthusiasm has never declined. Many of the 15 performances on this disc are quite exuberant, with wild horn riffing, crowded ensembles, and stirring rhythms. While the opening number is called "," most of the other selections also sound very much like a spirited descarga (jam session) with the momentum never slowing down. Among the key soloists are trumpeters Gilbert Castellanos and Bill Caballero, Steve Feierabend on tenor, baritonist Bob Campbell, pianist Lynn Wilard and trombonist Bob Johnston, along with Costanzo himself. There is not a slow moment to be heard throughout this exciting set, which also includes short vocals, a coro, and producer Bobby Matos' occasional contributions to the percussion section. Get this one. - Scott Yanow

Gilbert Castellanos, Bill Caballero (trumpet)
Bob Johnston, April West (trombone)
Rene Arauz (alto sax)
Steve Feierabend (tenor sax)
Bob Campbell (baritone sax)
Lynn Willard, Robert Lanuza (piano)
Jorge Camberos (guitar)
Ignacio Arango (bass)
Mike Holguin (drums, timbales)
Jack Costanzo (bongos, congas)
Bobby Matos (percussion)
Marilu (vocals)
  2. La La La
  3. En La Noche
  4. Jive Samba
  5. Mantequilla
  6. Milestones
  7. Quimbara
  8. Naña Sere
  9. Airegin
  10. Montiki
  11. Te Quiero Te Quiero
  12. Trompeta y Bongo
  13. Jack's Back
  14. Work Song
  15. Going Home

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tony Williams - Spring

After taking the jazz world by storm at the age of seventeen under the leadership of Miles Davis, drum phenomenon Tony Williams made the leap to becoming a leader himself. Spring, his second release, is an astounding statement of the cutting-edge freedom and exploration that dominated the jazz scene of the middle to late '60s. What is particularly astonishing is Williams' startling maturity as an artist at such a young age. His groundbreaking creativity, power and remarkable composing skills are on full exhibition throughout this commanding session.

Williams' guests include Davis bandmates Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter as well as former employer, saxophonist Sam Rivers. The quintet, with bassist Gary Peacock, opens with the perplexing "Extras," which effectively sets the spirited tone of the session. The equally enthralling compositions "From Before" and "Tee" reach even greater heights of excitement as the group seems to release the bonds of any traditional format to explore the outer reaches of musical creativity. Most significantly, Williams' solo effort "Echo" is a shining testament to his reign as the leader of modern jazz drumming. Also included here is one of the drummer's most moving compositions, the simple waltz "Love Song."

Tony Williams (drums)
Sam Rivers (tenor sax)
Wayne Shorter (tenor sax)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
Gary Peacock (bass)

1. Extras
2. Echo
3. From Before
4. Love Song
5. Tee

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: August 12, 1965

Eric Dolphy - Other Aspects

Other Aspects is unlike any other title in Eric Dolphy's catalog. The startling 15-minute composition "Jim Crow," recorded in 1962 with an unidentified rhythm section and operatic singer, shows his embracing of 20th century classical composition. Strong Indian influence is heard on 1960's "Improvisations and Tukras," featuring Dolphy's flute mixed with tabla and tamboura. The final three pieces were also recorded in 1960: "Inner Flight 1 and 2" are solo flute pieces, while "Dolphy'n" is a collaboration with bassist Ron Carter featuring Dolphy on alto. This music remained in the private collection of Dolphy's friend Hale Smith until the recordings were handed over to Blue Note in 1985. While Other Aspects is fascinating, and in its own way essential, it should be one of the final discs obtained for your Dolphy library. ~ Al Campbell

Left with friends when he left to work with Mingus in Europe, " was only after a memorial concert in 1985 that they were unearthed and considered for release.... These are candid snapshots of a master musician caught at the point of creative take-off in his career." ~ Penguin Guide

Eric Dolphy (alto sax, bass clarinet, flute)
notes say unknown, jazzdisco says;
Bob James (piano)
Ron Brooks (bass)
Bob Pozar (drums)
David Schwartz (vocal)
University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: March 1 or 2, 1964
Jazzdisco claims New York, 1962

Eric Dolphy (alto sax, flute)
Ron Carter (bass)
Esoteric Sound Studios, New York: November, 1960

Eric Dolphy (flute)
Roger Mson (tamboura)
Gina Lalli (tabla)
Stereo Sound Studios, NYC, July 8, 1960

1. Jim Crow
2. Inner Flight I
3. Dolphy-N
4. Inner Flight II
5. Improvisations And Tukrasr Flight, #2

Coleman Hawkins and Chu Berry - Tenor Giants

I'm not a fan of most compilations, but this is a solid little release, and is valuable for comparing and contrasting the King and Crown Prince of tenor sax at that period. The Chu Berry material was covered in the Chrono I posted some time back, but this release has alternate tracks for some tunes that the Chrono did not.

This reissue illustrates Hawkins' influence during the swing era by focusing on his work for Commodore in 1940 and 1943 as well as fellow tenor great Chu Berry's recordings for the same label in 1938 and 1941. (Berry certainly wasn't the only tenor man Hawkins influenced; his big, rugged tone had a direct or indirect influence on everyone from Illinois Jacquet, Ben Webster, and Willis Jackson to Sonny Rollins and Booker Ervin). Though Hawkins' influence on Berry is undeniable, Berry was quite recognizable himself — and his individuality shines through on this CD. Berry swings aggressively on "Sittin' In" and "46 West 52" in 1938 and "Blowin' Up a Breeze" on August 28, 1941 (only two months before he died in a car crash), while his ballad-playing on "Stardust" and "Body and Soul" is gorgeous and unapologetically romantic. Some jazz historians feel that Berry could be overly sentimental on ballads, but to this journalist, his playing was a soulful, lyrical delight. (Besides, there's no law stating that jazz has to be 100% intellect 100% of the time). Meanwhile, the Hawkins material comes from all-star sessions that Leonard Feather produced or co-produced; the 1943 session boasts such heavyweights as trumpeter Cootie Williams and pianist Art Tatum, while the 1940 date, billed as "Coleman Hawkins and the Chocolate Dandies," and finds trumpeter Roy Eldridge and alto saxophonist/clarinetist Benny Carter joining Hawkins on the front line. Hawkins and Carter were both part of the original Chocolate Dandies sessions of 1929-1930, and their rapport was equally strong in 1940. From the forceful to the romantic, Tenor Giants paints an impressive picture of both Hawkins and Berry. ~ Alex Henderson

This reissue is deceptive at first--by the looks of it, one would assume it's one of those honking, tenor-sax duels of the "Jazz at the Philharmonic" variety (think Illinois Jacquet vs. Flip Phillips). However, tenor-sax greats Coleman Hawkins and Chu Berry, although they both recorded during the same era, never actually dueted--not here anyway. As an integral member of Cab Calloway's Big Band, Berry's sessions as a leader were few. However, in 1938 and again in '41, Milt Gabler, who owned Commodore records, supervised the young tenor man in a session like the ones he organized for Hawkins around the same time. What Tenor Giants, then, consists of is several recordings of Berry and Hawkins leading bands through small-band swing, sometimes using the same players (the great Roy Eldridge appears in both bands) but never appearing in tandem. Their styles on tenor are different--as can be heard on the first version of "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me," marked by the Hawk's softer and more well-rounded tone (Benny Carter's clarinet solo is also no slouch). Berry, in turn, had a more harmonically frenetic jab that would've probably caught on as much as Hawkins if the former hadn't died in 1941. They share a spirited prebop sensibility, with lots of mournful, bluesy textures and high-flying solos as Berry and his ensemble tackle standards of the day, from "Stardust" to a version of "Body and Soul" that starts out like a dirge. Berry really soars on his own "Blowin' Up a Breeze" (written in tandem with Hot Lips Page, who plays excellent trumpet), and the general spirit of harmonious interplay and good-time vibes is generally contagious throughout. ~ Joe S. Harrington

Chu Berry's performance of "Body and Soul" may well have influenced Hawkins' famous recording the following year.

1-6 The Chocolate Dandies
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Benny Carter (clarinet, alto sax, piano)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Bernard Addison (guitar)
John Kirby (bass)
Big Sid Catlett (drums)
Reeves Sound, New York: May 25, 1940

7-10 Leonard Feather All Stars
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Edmond Hall (clarinet)
Cootie Williams (trumpet)
Art Tatum (piano)
Al Casey (guitar)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Big Sid Catlett (drums)
WOR Studio, New York: December 4, 1943

Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Clyde Hart (piano)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Danny Barker (guitar)
Artie Shapiro (bass)
Big Sid Catlett (drums)
Brunswick Studio, New York: November 10, 1938

Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Clyde Hart (piano)
Hot Lips Page (trumpet)
Al Casey (guitar)
Al Morgan (bass)
Harry Jaeger (drums)
Reeves Sound, New York: August 28, 1941

Friday Fusion

Bob Mintzer - Camouflage (1986)

Big Band Fusion? Not really, although the influence of fusion concepts from the seventies are readily apparent on much of Mintzer's music and this CD is a good example of how he adapted these to the acoustic big band format.

Mintzer wrote all of the tunes, did the arrangements and is the main soloist on tenor sax and electric bass clarinet. We also get to hear from Randy Brecker and Marvin Stamm on trumpet, Peter Yellin on alto sax, Chris Seiter on trombone, Roger Rosenberg on baritone sax, and Don Grolnick on piano. Favorite tunes are "Mr. Fone Bone" which was used by Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth big band, and the straight-ahead "Camouflage" which is based on the harmonic structure of "Sweet Georgia Brown".

Laurie Frink, Marvin Stamm, Randy Brecker, Bob Millikan (trumpet)
Chris Seiter, Bob Smith, Keith O'Quinn, Dave Taylor (trombone)
Bob Mintzer, Peter Yellin, Bob Malach, Lawrence Feldman, Roger Rosenberg (reeds)
Don Grolnick (piano)
Zev Katz (bass)
Peter Erskine (drums)
Frankie Malabe (percussion)
  1. Techno Pop
  2. Mr. Fone Bone
  3. A Long Time Ago
  4. After Thought
  5. Camouflage
  6. One Man Band
  7. Truth
  8. Hip Hop
  9. In the Eighties
Recorded June 21-22, 1986

Tony Bennett - Tony Sings The Great Hits Of Today (LP/1969)

TONY SINGS THE GREAT HITS FROM TODAY was Columbia Records’ idea to “commercialize” Tony Bennett’s output and to remedy his then-waning sales. So, Bennett was forced to address popular songs of the late 60’s such as Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park,” Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour,” Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love,” and three Beatles songs including the timeless “Here, There, and Everywhere.” (“Michelle” was also attempted, but never released.) Some Bennett fans may have been disappointed with the song selection but, in retrospect, almost every song is now considered a 60’s classic and I really cannot criticize the choices.

The only track I have an issue with is Bennett’s interpretation of Paul McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby,” which features huge spoken-word sections with the singer reciting, not singing the lyrics, only breaking into song at the chorus. Some may compare this with William Shatner’s infamous "reading" of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

The arrangements were handled by the late Peter Matz, an excellent musician who worked with MANY singers including Dionne Warwick, Bing Crosby, Bernadette Peters, Liza Minelli, Ruth Brown, Carmen MacRae, Sarah Vaughn, Georgia Brown, and Barbra Streisand.

This LP rip was done by my friend PaoloS, who provided me with the links that can found in the ‘comments’ section. I have added a link to my artwork scans of the back/front covers and the LP labels. I also ripped this LP last year but, for some reason, never posted it here with my other Bennetts. Well, I listened to Paolo’s rip and found it considerably superior to my own! So, enjoy Paolo’s version of this out-of-print, never-issued-on-CD record. Scoredaddy

Tony Bennett (vocals)
Peter Matz (arrangements)
Dee Barton (arr. #6)

1. MacArthur Park - 03:22 (Jimmy Webb)
2. Something - 03:18 (George Harrison)
3. The Look Of Love - 02:49 (Burt Bacharach, Hal David)
4. Here, There And Everywhere - 02:44 (John Lennon, Paul McCartney)
5. Live For Life - 3:43 (Norman Gimbel, F. Lai)
6. Little Green Apples - 2:49 (Bobby Russell)
7. Eleanor Rigby - 03:40 (John Lennon, Paul McCartney)
8. My Cherie Amour 3:50 (Henry Cosby, S. Moy, Stevie Wonder)
9. Is That All There Is - 03:25 (Jerry Lieber, Mike Stoller)
10. Here - 3:36 (Gene Lees)
11. Sunrise, Sunset - 3:37 (Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick)

Recorded at Columbia 30th Street Studio, NYC on October 7-8, 1969 and in Hollywood, CA on November 17-18, 1969

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Anthology of Jazz Drumming Volume 1 1904-1928 {MJCD 804}

Another fantastic "Masters Of Jazz" disc. There were four of these issued (I currently have only this one). They are a companion to a book written by Georges Paczynski - never seen that one (and I've never seen the fourth volume either)...

Full scans here (48-page booklet), FLAC, CUE, ffps, EAC log, et al. - the usual. See comments section for personel information & track listing.

Smell the Glove!

Kai Winding & J.J. Johnson - Nuf Said (K + J.J.) (1955)

At times sounding indistinguishable soloing side by side, trombonists Kai Winding and J.J. Johnson gained unexpected fame from a series of collaborative efforts cut during the mid-'50s. Sandwiched between their initial Savoy outing and several Columbia releases (and a later reunion session for Impulse), 1955's Nuf Said features the soloists in a buoyant West Coast mood on several medium- to fast-tempo swingers. Winding and Johnson both turn in fluid, tonally rounded statements, while pianist Dick Katz, bassists Milt Hinton and Wendell Marshall, and drummer Al Harewood (using brushes most of the time) provide plush rhythmic support. In addition to impressively arranged covers like "Mad About the Boy" and "Out of This World," Johnson and Winding each contribute two attractive originals -­ Winding's "Gong Rock" gets special note not only for its then-exotic incorporation of gong sounds, but also for the title's evocation of a time-travel meeting between the trombonist and glam rocker T. Rex. Musical fantasy aside, this Bethlehem reissue by Avenue Jazz pads the original set with seven worthwhile alternate takes and tops things off with superb sound and helpful liner notes. And though some might find the music here a bit thin (a common criticism of the West Coast sound which, ironically, gets turned on its ear this time around since all the musicians involved are from the East Coast), the arrangements and playing are so engaging and of such high quality that categorization dilemmas disappear. A fine disc. - Stephen Cook

Kai Winding, J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Dick Katz (piano)
Wendell Marshall, Milt Hinton (bass)
Al Harewood (drums)
  1. Out of This World
  2. Thou Swell
  3. Lover
  4. Lope City
  5. Stolen Bass
  6. It's All Right With Me
  7. Mad About the Boy
  8. Yes Sir, That's My Baby
  9. That's How I Feel About You
  10. Gong Rock
  11. It's All Right With Me (alt. take 15)
  12. Lover (alt. take 13)
  13. Gong Rock (alt. take 1)
  14. Lope City (alt. take 2)
  15. It's All Right With Me (alt. take 2)
  16. Out of This World (alt. take 8)
  17. That's How I Feel About You (alt. take 7)
Recorded in NYC, January 26-27, 1955

Andrew Hill - Dance With Death

Andrew Hill's Dance of Death, recorded in 1968 with a stellar band, was not issued until 1980. IN the late 1960s, Blue Note was no longer the most adventurous of jazz labels. While certain titles managed to scrape through -- Eddie Gale's Ghetto Music did but only because Francis Wollf personally financed it -- many didn't. The label was firmly in the soul-jazz groove by then, and Hill's music, always on the edge, was deemed too outside for the label's roster. Musically, this is Hill at his most visionary. From hard- and post bop frames come modal and tonal inquiries of staggering complexity. Accompanied by trumpeter Charles Tolliver, saxophonist Joe Farrell, drummer Billy Higgins and bassist Victor Sproles, Hill engages, seemingly, all of his muses at once. Check out the sinister modal blues that is "Fish 'N' Rice" with its loping Eastern-tinged blues and loping horn lines around Hill's knotty fills in the head and choruses. In "Partitions" the steaming head is so rigorously tangled it's only the counterpoint of Hill's piano that makes an exit possible, with deep blues underpinnings and strident swinging soul. The title cut dances Afro-Cuban in the head, but Hill's piano is in a minor modal groove, with Higgins playing a textural, syncopated four-four as Sproles' punches on the two and four as the solos begin winding through the modes, bringing back the blues on tags. Dance of Death is a phenomenal record, one that wears its adventure and authority well. ~ Thom Jurek

Andrew Hill (piano)
Charles Tolliver (trumpet)
Joe Farrell (soprano and tenor sax)
Victor Sproles (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)

1. Yellow Violet
2. Partitions
3. Fish 'N Rice
4. Dance With Death
5. Love Nocturne
6. Black Sabbath
7. Dance With Death

Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: October 11, 1968

Blossom Dearie - Needlepoint Magic (1979)

Here is yet another rare Blossom Dearie recording from her Daffodil years. The disc features her typical repertoire with a couple of less common songs (for her) slipped in. The appearance of Bob Dorough is a delight. He’s an entertaining vocalist AND he wrote the lyrics for the famous and hilarious “I’m Hip” which Dearie sang for years and has been recorded many dozens of times. Enjoy this until my next Dearie post! Scoredaddy

The first live album from Daffodil. This album gathers typical repertoires of Dearie in the 70s. And this captures the humorous and intimate atmosphere of her live stage at the club, Reno Sweeney. She starts the stage with saying; " Good evening. Thank you very much. You are wondering why I am speaking into two microphones instead of one. Here I'll be singing into two because I'm doing a recording. Daffodil record, this will be vol.5. Is that exciting? Good." Very funny?

She sings mainly with her piano and occasionally with bass. So, it is as simple as Winchester in Apple Blossom Time (1977), but songs are much vivid here.

Bob Dorough, the composer of I'm Hip, appears in Baby, It's Cold Outside and Two Sleepy People. These duets are very humorous and lovely. They are highlights of this record.

Blossom Dearie (vocals, piano)
Bill Takus (bass)
Bob Dorough (vocals #5,11)

1. Ballad of the Shape of Things
2. Lush Life
3. When the World Was Young
4. I'm Hip
5. Baby, It's Cold Outside
6. I Like You, You're Nice
7. Sweet Surprise
8. I'm Shadowing You
9. Sweet Georgia Fame
10. Peel Me a Grape
11. Two Sleepy People

Recorded “live” at Reno Sweeney, New York City in 1979

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Joe Newman & Joe Wilder - Hangin' Out (1984)

The paths of trumpeters Joe Newman and Joe Wilder crossed on an occasional basis through the years. They were both born in 1922, both had stints with Count Basie's Orchestra (although Newman was there much longer), and both had a countless number of sideman appearances on records (although neither led an excess of recording dates). They came together to co-lead this set, a quintet outing with pianist Hank Jones, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith. As expected, the results are swinging, lyrical, melodic and well-balanced. Highlights include Newman's "The Midgets," "Secret Love" and the trumpeters' interpretation of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." - Scott Yanow

Although both Joes were on Basie's band in 1953, they first played together in the 1942 Lionel Hampton band. And while Newman continued to perform with Basie throughout the fifties, Wilder left the band to study classical trumpet at the Manhattan School of Music. With his expertise in both jazz and classical music, he became a regular in the New York studios for the next twenty years while Newman continued to perform and record, often with his own groups.

Hank Jones, by the way, was the pianist on Joe Wilder's first album as a leader in 1956, Wilder 'n' Wilder.

Joe Newman, Joe Wilder (trumpet)
Hank Jones (piano)
Rufus Reid (bass)
Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums)
  1. The Midgets
  2. Here's That Rainy Day
  3. Duet
  4. Battle Hymn of the Republic
  5. Secret Love
  6. You've Changed
  7. 'Lypso Mania
  8. He Was Too Good to Me
Recorded in NYC, May 1984

Benny Goodman - 1951-1952 (Chronological 1450)

While the Swing era was over essentially over by the early '50s, clarinet king and bandleader Benny Goodman was still very active with small groups and big bands. Times had changed and Goodman strove to keep up with them. In the late 1940s and early '50s, Goodman made forays into bebop and into mainstream pop, but his heart was still in straight-ahead, danceable swing. While Goodman wasn't the trendsetter he was in the 1930s, his clarinet was still sharp and sweet, and he still knew how to surround himself with the best musicians. While not recommended for the casual fan, 1951-1952 will be rewarding for both Goodman fanatics and fans of post-WWII big bands.

Volume 35 of the studio recordings of Benny Goodman begins with some nostalgic big band tracks. After a brief tour with a sextet, Goodman made a neat little session including a feature for singer Nancy Reed. In the summer of 1951 the clarinetist worked with both the Philadelphia and Denver Symphonies. "When Buddha Smiles" from September was first issued on an LP commissioned by Playboy Magazine. Rather unexpectedly, Hugh Hefner's journal included excellent articles on jazz. The two strings dates from late 1951 and March 1952 are both unusual and ambitious. The material may be well known but, in a way, Goodman's playing shows that his mind then was focused more on classical music than on jazz.

Benny Goodman (clarinet)
Johnny Smith (guitar)
Mundell Lowe (guitar)
Peanuts Hucko (tenor sax)
George Van Eps (guitar)
Paul Smith (piano)
Mel Powell (piano)
Terry Gibbs (vibraphone)
Eddie Safranski (bass)
Nick Fatool (drums)

1. Down South Camp Meetin'
2. Mean To Me
3. South Of The Border
4. Muskrat Ramble
5. Lulu's Back In Town
6. Stardust
7. Wrappin' It Up
8. King Porter Stomp
9. Farewell Blues
10. Toodle-Lee-Yoo-Doo
11. When Buddha Smiles
12. Sunrise Serenade
13. Moonglow
14. Georgia On My Mind
15. I Gotta Right to Sing The Blues
16. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
17. Goodbye
18. Embraceable You
19. Lover, Come Back To Me
20. If I Had You
21. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

Woody Shaw - Cassandranite

Originally titled In The Beginning, the music on this set was not released for the first time until 1983 (titled In The Beginning) and has since been reissued under the Cassandranite title on CD. Trumpeter Woody Shaw's debut as a leader (cut five years before his second session) has its strong moments. Shaw was not yet as distinctive as he would become, but on the set of group originals (best known is Joe Henderson's "Tetragon"), Shaw keeps up with his illustrious sidemen which include tenorman Henderson, either Larry Young or Herbie Hancock on piano (this was one of organist Young's very few sessions on that instrument), either Ron Carter or Paul Chambers on bass and drummer Joe Chambers. Excellent advanced hard bop music and particularly interesting from a historical standpoint. ~ Scott Yanow

Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Larry Young (piano)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
Joe Henderson (tenor sax)
George Cables (electric piano)
Harold Vick (flute, tenor sax)
Garnett Brown (trombone)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Cecil McBee (bass)
Ron Carter (bass)
Joe Chambers (drums)

1. Cassandranite
2. Obsequious
3. Baloo Baloo
4. Three Muses
5. Tetragon
6. Medina

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Charlie Parker - The Cole Porter Songbook

I dont know why, the way I used to upload files in RS isn't working anymore. I took me some days to learn by myself a new way, as the guys in RS weren't much helpful. I hope the links are okay.

This is a compilation of Charlie Parker recordings made between 1950 and 1954, with different formations, released in 1991.
The review of AMG is only one line long and says: "Bird takes Porter's songs and extends them to glorious heights. A fine reissue (by Ron Wynn)."
The Penguin Guide states: "Parker was very drawn to Cole Porter's music and was contemplating another all-Porter session at the time of his death. The slightly dry, pure melodism gave him the perfect springboard for some of his most unfettered solos. A lovely record and an ideal purchase for Parker or Porter addicts."
And I say: A wonderful record. A winner.

1- Easy to love
2- Begin the beguine
3- Night and day
4- What is this thing called love
5- In the still of the night
6- I get a kick out of you
7- Just one of those things
8- My heart belongs to daddy
9- I've got you under my skin
10- Love for sale
11- I love Paris
12- What is this thing called love (CD bonus track)

Roland Kirk - We Free Kings

" This is the first major Kirk record, and the opening 'Three For The Festival', a raucous blues, is the best evidence there is on record of his importance, even greatness. Kirk's playing is all over the place. He appears out of nowhere and stops just where you least expect him to. On 'You Did It, You Did It', he creates rhythmic patterns which defeat even persip and moves across the chords with a bizarre crabwise motion. A wonderful record that every Kirk fan should have." ~ Penguin Guide

Only his third session as a leader, 1961's We Free Kings finds multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk (he added the Rahsaan in 1969) transplanted to New York from his native Midwest and signed to Mercury Records, where he'd remain for the next seven years. With this classic album, Kirk shook off detractors who dismissed him as a novelty (for his revival of the vaudeville trick of playing up to three reeds at once) and established himself as a paragon of modern jazz.

Beginning with a typically idiosyncratic reworking of Coltrane's "Blues for Alice," Kirk only occasionally steps into the free jazz style implied by the album's title, notably on the first recorded version of his legendary multi-horn showcase "Three for the Festival." Recorded in two different no-nonsense trio settings, We Free Kings showcases Kirk's astonishingly varied brilliance in a suitably stripped-down context.

3-6, 10
Roland Kirk (tenor sax, manzello, stritch, flute, cantilevered Swiss ocarina)
Richard Wyands (piano)
Art Davis (bass)
Charlie Persip (drums)

Roland Kirk (tenor sax, manzello, stritch, flute, valve cheeseflute)
Hank Jones (piano)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Charlie Persip (drums)

1. Three For the Festival
2. Moon Song
3. A Sack Full Of Soul
4. The Haunted Melody
5. Blues For Alice (alt)
6. Blues For Alice (master)
7. We Free Kings
8. You Did It, You Did It
9. Some Kind Of Love
10. My Delight

Nola's Penthouse Sound Studios, New York: August 16-17, 1961

Erroll Garner - The Complete Savoy & Dial Master Takes

Who doesn't love Erroll Garner? AMG lists his "moods" as Restrained, Stylish, Elegant, Sophisticated, Gentle, Cheerful, Freewheeling, Carefree, Playful, Dramatic, Refined/ Mannered, Reflective, Fun, Passionate, Laid-Back/ Mellow, Intimate, Romantic, Rollicking, Amiable/ Good-Natured, Whimsical and Exuberant. A one man band who couldn't read music, Erroll Garner would have celebrated his 88th birthday tomorrow.

Most of the selections on this 2-CD set have been reissued numerous times but this is a nice little package from Definitive Records that compiles all of Erroll Garner's trio, quartet and solo masters from Savoy and Dial. Forty one songs for Savoy in 1945 and 1949, ten for Dial in 1947.

One caveat: although personnel and dates are listed, the notes are very skimpy for such an important historical release.

Erroll Garner (piano)
Mike Bryant (guitar)
John Levy, John Simmons, Slam Stewart, Red Callender (bass)
George De Hart, Alvin Stoller, Jesse Price, Harold "Doc" West (drums)

Tracks are in comments.

VIDEO: Alexis Weissenberg - Classic Archive

A great master plays Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Bach, Brahms, in a most remarkable set of films. These were just broadcast here on the French satellite channel, Mezzo. Stravinsky's Petrouchka quite blew me away, having studied piano for long enough to know that few have ever had such a mastery of the instrument.
"Weissenberg was at the beginning of his substantial international career in these films, mostly made by French television in the 1960s. The one exception is a 1965 version of Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrouchka renowned in its time for attempting to mirror the music’s rhythms and moods. Directed by Åke Falck and filmed in a Stockholm studio, the camera is a creative partner with composer and pianist... Pianophiles will be interested in this record of a famed virtuoso at his peak." --Dan Davis

Art Pepper - The Complete Surfride Plus

Some of this was in the Art Pepper Discovery set from a while ago.

Pepper is in superior form throughout, with highlights including "Tickle Toe," "The Way You Look Tonight" and his earliest recordings of such originals as "Susie the Poodle," "Straight Life" and "Surf Ride." ... ~ Scott Yanow

Those familiar with Art Pepper's later and more heavily orchestrated works will be surprised by the sparseness of these early sessions, the first that Pepper ever cut as a leader. After serving in the armed forces between 1944 and 1946, Pepper got a job with Stan Kenton's band. This, and a 1951 Downbeat poll that placed him second only to Charlie Parker as Best Alto Sax Player, caught the attention of Albert Marx, who owned Discovery Records. During the following year-and-a-half, Pepper cut several sessions for the label, and it's those recordings that make up this CD. Although the personnel varied with each incarnation of the band, the basic makeup was the same: a small-piece unit, featuring sax, piano, bass, and drums, based roughly on the ideal founded by the classic bebop quartets and quintets in the early '40s. In fact, it's quite evident listening to these sessions that this was one of the last stands of bebop as bebop alone. Pepper has often been lumped with the "cool" stylings of the West Coast wave, and listening to his dulcet tones on the "Misty"-like "What's New (Alternate)," it's easy to sense the whole softening that jazz was going through at the time (after the frenetic acceleration of Bird, Bud, and Monk). Pepper's sax was a soft sob, punctuated by measured blows and a genuine remorse that was hard to hide. But at this point, his primary springboard was still the highly mathematical style of Bird, Bud, and Monk. In any event, he helped pave the way for the whole West Coast wing, including Jack Sheldon, Shelly Manne, Shorty Rogers, Barney Kessel, Gerry Mulligan, and Chet Baker. In the meantime, he came closer than almost anybody in evoking the majesty of Charlie Parker--perhaps the century's greatest musician--on tracks like the great "The Way You Look Tonight" (which is better than Coltrane's version). As these cuts were recorded in order, one gets the sense that Pepper's style was evolving quickly, as on "Cinnamon" and "What's New" where, as a soloist, he seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. --Joe S. Harrington

Art Pepper (alto sax)
Hampton Hawes (piano)
Joe Mondragon (bass)
Larry Bunker (drums)
Russ Freeman (piano)
Jack Montrose (tenor sax)
Claude Williamson (piano)
Monte Budwig (bass)
Paul Ballerina (drums)
Larry Bunker (drums)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dudek, Niebergall and Vesala - Open

Until 2002, reedist Gerd Dudek had never released a recording under his own name. That recording, 'Smatter, presented Dudek in an unexpectedly relaxed 1998 London studio setting. On the UMS reissue of Open, Dudek collaborates with bassist Buschi Niebergall and drummer Edvard Vesala for a six-song program presented at Berlin's 1977 Free Music Workshop. Each of the six pieces allows Dudek to display his facility on his chosen reeds—tenor and soprano saxophones and flute.

Touching off is his fluid soprano work on the record's opening track, "H.S.", as the loose atmosphere essentially takes shape thanks to Niebergall's spidery basswork and Vesala's open-ended pulse. Likewise, the closing piece, "Chain", presents feisty soprano flights alongside a roiling rhythmic reinforcement. Dudek displays his spiritual aims on "Mira", where his wiry flute tones lead to the session's highest highs, especially after he picks up his soprano for some concluding words. The almost twelve-minute title track, though, is the focal point for the display of Dudek's flute technique, especially when he vocalizes through the mouthpiece. Finally, Dudek's most biting lines emerge during the tenor sax excursions of "Kugel" and "Manchmal". His harmonically rich and edgy style fits in particularly well as the rhythm section stokes the fires. Overall, a strong summit meeting that provides further evidence of Dudek's improvisational strengths and why his name appears on so many important European Free Music releases.

Gerd Dudek (soprano and tenor sax, flute, shenai)
Buschi Niebergall (bass)
Edward Vesala (drums)

1. H.S.
2. Kugel
3. Mira
4. Manchmal
5. Open
6. Chain

Berlin: April 7-9, 1977

Harold Land - The Fox

The perpetual contenders for the undisputed title of "under-rated" are Harold de Vance Land and McKinley Howard Dorham. Rarely will you see a review of either of them that doesn't use the word. And it's bullshit, really; Kenny Dorham was a first call guy for the cream of his generation's jazz musicians, and Harold Land was with Brownie, f'crissakes. But in reading three reviews of this album, including the Penguin Guide, each used the word. They call this Elmo Hope's best recorded performance, for what it's worth.

And nowadays both are rated very highly; their works are continually in print. Neither could you call Elmo Hope or Dupree Bolton under-rated. Hope is rated very highly by players and fans alike, at least nowadays. And Dupree Bolton simply didn't leave enough of a recorded legacy to be anything but obscure. What he did leave - this, Katanga, a little more - is consistently excellent and innovative; but even if we newly discovered three times as much, it would still be less than his average counterpart produced in one year.

If anything, Frank Butler could stand a little revisiting. He is featured on many classic dates, but who thinks of him these days?

On the eponymous 1969 first album by the band Yes, there is a song titled "Harold Land"; I ask you, is that being under-rated?

This album - The Fox - , by the way, I would not hesitate to call essential

Harold Land (tenor sax)
Dupree Bolton (trumpet)
Elmo Hope (piano)
Herbie Lewis (bass)
Frank Butler (drums)

1. The Fox
2. Mirror-Mind Rose
3. One Second, Please
4. Sims A-Plenty
5. Little Chris
6. One Down

Los Angeles, California, August, 1959

Tony Bennett - This Is All I Ask (1963)

Here we have another Bennett collaboration with the great Ralph Burns, recorded over three sessions in April, 1963. Filled with the lesser-known gems that populate so many Bennett albums over the years, THIS IS ALL I ASK is a mixture of up-tempo tracks and ballads, following the model of Bennett’s typical 60’s output.

“Keep Smiling At Trouble” is an interesting case: this is NOT the more well known, slower version Bennett recorded four years later (also arranged by Ralph Burns) for the LP entitled FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE and also released as a single in 1967. This swinging take on an old Al Jolson song from the 1920’s is not quite as effective as Bennett’s 1967 recording, but kicks off this album in a nice groove that is brought down to earth by the next track, a wandering, searching Paul Weston melody with Sammy Cahn lyrics called “Autumn In Rome,” a pleasant but unspectacular song very well performed by the singer.

And, that’s the way the disc continues, varying the mood between ballads and swingers. Some of the highlights are Bennett’s learned reading of “This Is All I Ask” and a lovely “Young and Foolish,” very effective even if it does not compare at all to his masterful handling of the song on his classic duet with pianist Bill Evans. “Tricks” features some solo drum work by jazz star Chico Hamilton. Among the new songs, I am particularly partial to a Cy Coleman tune called “On The Other Side of the Tracks.”

I am pleased to present yet another long out-of-print and otherwise unavailable Tony Bennett album here at CIA. I have a few more coming over the next several weeks/months. This title was requested by Paolo S. Happy New year to all! Scoredaddy

Tony Bennett (vocals)
Ralph Burns (arrangements)

1. Keep Smiling At Trouble
2. Autumn In Rome
3. True Blue Lou
4. The Way That I Feel
5. This Is All I Ask
6. The Moment of Truth
7. Got Her Off My Hands
8. Sandy’s Smile
9. Long About Now
10. Young And Foolish
11. Tricks
12. On the Other Side of the Tracks

Recorded at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio, New York City on April 22, 24, & 26, 1963

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Jackie McLean - Vertigo

I got several requests for this all in one day - maybe it's an anniversary or something; anyway, it's one of the less posted McLean things.

Blue Note provides not one but two outstanding sessions with this reissue of Jackie McLean's stellar Vertigo. The first five tracks constitute a session from 1963 that featured veterans McLean, Donald Byrd, and Butch Warren with the new recruits Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams. Williams, who, astoundingly, was in his mid-teens at the time, makes his recording debut here, just a couple of months before joining Miles Davis' group for which he would become legendary. The second half is from a session the year before with Kenny Dorham in place of Byrd and Sonny Clark and Billy Higgins filling in the rhythm section.

With these two separate sessions, the listener is able to distinctly hear the contrasts between the hard-bop standard that had sustained McLean in the late '50s and the "New Thing" that would dominate the '60s. The straight-ahead swing that characterizes the '62 session is much more streamlined and crisp, while the influence of youngsters Hancock and Williams in '63 brings McLean closer toward the freer style that he would employ on the coming One Step Beyond and Destination Out. Highlights include the off-kilter "Dusty Foot," Hancock's bluesey "Yams," and the blistering "The Three Minors."

Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Sonny Clark (piano)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
Butch Warren (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)
Tony Williams (drums)

1. Marney
2. Dusty Foot
3. Vertigo
4. Cheers
5. Yams
6. The Three Minors
7. Blues In A Jiff
8. Blues For Jackie
9. Marilyn's Dilemma
10. Iddy Bitty
11. The Way I Feel

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: June 14, 1962 and February 11, 1963

Philly Joe Jones - Drums Around The World

Drums Around The World is a spirited, energetic album. The high point is probably "The Tribal Message," a piece Philly Joe Jones performs by himself. On this track, Jones develops his drum solo gradually, beginning first with spare rhythmic gestures. From here, he slowly builds in intensity, careful not to climax too quickly. The peak of the solo is marked by earsplitting cymbal crashes and grand, timpani-like tom-tom rolls.

The next track, "Cherokee" continues along the same vein. Here Jones's ferocious playing begins with a kind of "jungle" groove. This eventually gives way to the notoriously quick tempo of Ray Noble's composition. Blisteringly fast solos are offered here by trombonist Curtis Fuller, flutist Herbie Mann, trumpeter Lee Morgan, and others. Finally, legendary producer Orrin Keepnews adds a previously unheard rendition of the Benny Golson-penned "Stablemates" on this reissue. Apparently, this cut was lost or forgotten about for decades, and its inclusion satisfyingly completes this animated set of tunes.

Drummer Philly Joe Jones takes a lot of solo space (including an unaccompanied "The Tribal Message") throughout this CD reissue. He utilizes an all-star group with such soloists as trumpeter Lee Morgan and Blue Mitchell, trombonist Curtis Fuller, Herbie Mann on flute and piccolo, altoist Cannonball Adderley, Benny Golson on tenor, baritonist Sahib Shihab, pianist Wynton Kelly and either Sam Jones or Jimmy Garrison on bass. The music is supposed to showcase styles from around the world including Latin America and the Far East but in general those references are somewhat superficial (including "Cherokee") and come out sounding like hard bop. There is some strong playing but this set is primarily recommended to fans of Philly Joe Jones's drum solos. ~ Scott Yanow

Philly Joe Jones (drums)
Cannonball Adderley (alto sax)
Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Blue Mitchell (trumpet)
Sahib Shihab (baritone sax)
Benny Golson (tenor sax)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Herbie Mann (flute, piccolo)
Sam Jones (bass)
Jimmy Garrison (bass)

1. Blue Gwynn
2. Stablemates
3. Stablemates
4. Carioca (El Tambores)
5. The Tribal Message
6. Cherokee
7. Land Of The Blue Veils
8. Philly J. J.

Reeves Sound Studio, New York: May, 1959

Kenny Dorham - Whistle Stop (TOCJ)

This 1961 date is one of the genuinely classic Blue Note hard-bop sessions. Trumpeter Dorham is joined by tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, once his frontline partner in the original Jazz Messengers, the underrated pianist Kenny Drew, and one of the finest rhythm teams ever to play jazz, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones. The immediate distinguishing mark is Dorham's writing. Though only his "Blue Bossa" has become a jazz standard, he was a serious writer, not someone who merely dashed off casual heads. His tunes here have substance, like the sparkling blues "Buffalo" and the evocative, modal "Sunset" with its sudden piano punctuations under the theme. The title tune contrasts eerie dissonance with a snapping bop line, and "Sunrise in Mexico" orchestrates bass and piano into the theme. The concluding "Dorham's Epitaph," at little more than a minute, has an unadorned majesty. Dorham and Mobley shared a forceful lyricism and a rare camaraderie, and there are moments in "Sunrise" when Dorham's half-valves even suggest Mobley's round tenor sound. Jones makes a special contribution, adding a propulsive spark and a constant stream of detail. ~ Stuart Broomer

Kenny Dorham's best Blue Note date, and arguably the best of his career, is the exceptional Whistle Stop. Although he never received the same recognition as trumpeters like Miles Davis or Lee Morgan, Dorham was a stellar talent. This session crystallizes all of Dorham's skill as a soloist, leader, and composer, as all selections are originals. The trumpeter's frequent partner Joe Henderson is replaced here with the equally talented Hank Mobley along with pianist Kenny Drew and the legendary rhythm team of Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. These ingredients form a magical combination that defines the golden age of hard bop.

The group blows strong from the outset with the bluesy "Philly Twist," a tribute to and feature for the legendary drummer. Dorham reflects many influences in his writing and playing, from the hushed rhumba of "Sunset," to the bebop-flavored title track. His penchant for elaborate arrangements is evident in the programmatic "Sunrise in Mexico," easily the set's most intricate cut. Dorham's "talking" trumpet style shines throughout the date and is a fine counter to Mobley's swinging tenor wails. The final cut, "Dorham's Epitaph," is a brief vignette that offers a glimpse of the trumpeter's aspirations to even grander musical heights.

Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Hank Mobley (tenor sax)
Kenny Drew (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)

1. Philly Twist
2. Buffalo
3. Sunset
4. Whistle Stop
5. Sunrise In Mexico
6. Windmill
7. Dorham's Epitaph

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: January 15, 1961

Sonny Criss - Up, Up And Away (20bit K2)

Altoist Sonny Criss' Prestige recordings of the late 1960s generally included a current pop tune or two along with some stronger jazz pieces. This 1998 CD reissue is of particular interest because the intense altoist is teamed with guitarist Tal Farlow (who had recently come out of retirement before slipping back into obscurity for a few more years), pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lenny McBrowne. "Up, Up and Away" (the Fifth Dimension hit) has more challenging chord changes than one would think and, although "Sunny" is lightweight, Criss really digs in and uplifts it. In addition, the leader overflows "Willow Weep for Me" with soul, plays a strong solo on Horace Tapscott's "This Is for Benny" and displays his blues roots on "Paris Blues." However the highpoint is a burning rendition of "Scrapple from the Apple" that finds Criss and Farlow engaged in torrid trade-offs. So overall this CD is more rewarding than it might appear at first glance. ~ Scott Yanow

Like many jazz players of the time, Criss felt he had to respond to the challenge of pop. 'Up, Up And Away' was a gift for his soaring, risky, joyoustone, and the partnership with Farlow gives the material a taut, swinging excitement. ~ Penguin Guide

Sonny Criss (alto sax)
Tal Farlow (guitar)
Cedar Walton (piano)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Lenny McBrowne (drums)

1. Up Up And Away
2. Willow Weep For Me
3. This Is For Benny
4. Sunny
5. Scrapple From The Apple
6. Paris Blues

New York: August 18, 1967

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Charles Ives-symphony #4 (world premiere recording conducted by Stokowski 1965)

This is the legendary premiere recording of the Fourth from 1965. Stoki's version still holds up well, and the recording is perhaps not as different from later "critical edition" readings as you might expect. On the down side, there is a sense that some of the edges are being smoothed off, and Stokowski doesn't generate nearly as much mystery as MTT in the all-important final movement. Still, this recording has its charms. Although the performance may occasionally sound a bit tentative, there's definitely a "first-time-out" excitement that comes shining through. Even though this recording is out of print, it shouldn't be too hard to find a used copy of the original LP. Columbia (pre-Sony) also released the recording on compact disc, although it is also out of print. This one is worth tracking down.

From an online survey and comparison of different versions of ives 4th symphony.

Larry Young - Unity

Quite simply a masterpiece. Whipped along by Jones's ferocious drumming and Henderson's meaty tenor, even on a soft-pedal tune like 'Softly As In A Morning Sunrise'. Young contributes nothing as a writer, which doesn't in any way diminish the impact of his performance. Woody Shaw's 'The Moontrane' , 'Zoltan' and 'Beyond All Limits' are a measure of his unregarded significance as a composer; the first of the three is the perfect test of Young's absorbtion of Coltrane's ideas, as he develops a rather obvious (if precocious - Shaw wrote it when he was just eighteen) sequence of harmonics into something that represents a genuine extension of the great saxophonist, not just a bland repetition. This is a record that has proved hard to track down over the years. Of all our highest-rated albums, it has been one of the most elusive, despite the label and Young's relative eminence. It's inclusion in Blue Note's recent Rudy Van Gelder edition is testimony to two great men of music. ~ Penguin Guide

On his sophomore date as a leader, jazz organist Larry Young began to display some of the angular drive that made him a natural for the jazz-rock explosion to come barely four years later. While about as far from the groove jazz of Jimmy Smith as you could get, Young hadn't made the complete leap into freeform jazz-rock either. Here he finds himself in very distinguished company: drummer Elvin Jones, trumpeter Woody Shaw, and saxman Joe Henderson. Young was clearly taken by the explorations of saxophonists Coleman and Coltrane, as well as the tonal expressionism put in place by Sonny Rollins and the hard-edged modal music of Miles Davis and his young quintet. But the sound here is all Young: the rhythmic thrusting pulses shoved up against Henderson and Shaw as the framework for a melody that never actually emerges ("Zoltan" -- one of three Shaw tunes here), the skipping chords he uses to supplant the harmony in "Monk's Dream," and also the reiterating of front-line phrases a half step behind the beat to create an echo effect and leave a tonal trace on the soloists as they emerge into the tunes (Henderson's "If" and Shaw's "The Moontrane"). All of these are Young trademarks, displayed when he was still very young, yet enough of a wiseacre to try to drive a group of musicians as seasoned as this -- and he succeeded each and every time. As a soloist, Young is at his best on Shaw's "Beyond All Limits" and the classic nugget "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise." In his breaks, Young uses the middle register as a place of departure, staggering arpeggios against chords against harmonic inversions that swing plenty and still comes out at all angles. Unity proved that Young's debut, Into Somethin', was no fluke, and that he could play with the lions. And as an album, it holds up even better than some of the work by his sidemen here. ~ Thom Jurek

Larry Young (organ)
Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Joe Henderson (tenor sax)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Zoltan
2. Monk's Dream
3. If
4. The Moontrane
5. Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise
6. Beyond All Limits

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: November 10, 1965

Friday, January 2, 2009

Coleman Hawkins - Soul

Coleman Hawkins only enhanced his stature as a giant of jazz throughout his years with Prestige Records ('58-'62). The father of the modern saxophone, the inimitable Hawkins was able to change and adapt with the times like few of his contemporaries. Throughout his career, however, he always remained true to his roots in blues and swing while simultaneously charting new musical territories.

On Soul, we hear one of the saxophone legend's finest later recordings. Using a young rhythm section, including guitarist Kenny Burrell and pianist Ray Bryant, Hawkins and his band swing with great ease and buoyancy, with Hawkins' own playing especially melodic and sensitive. Highlights include the ballad, "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" and the uptempo burner "Sweetnin'," which features a superb guitar solo by Burrell. An album that displays the musical variety of which these jazzmen are capable, Soul is replete with both relaxed and energetic moments.

Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Ray Bryant (piano)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Osie Johnson (drums)

1. Soul Blues
2. I Hadn't Anyone Till You
3. Groovin'
4. Greensleeves
5. Sunday Mornin'
6. Until The Real Thing Comes Along
7. Sweetnin'

Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey: November 7, 1958

Moods In Jazz & Reflections In Jazz

On one of two albums led by baritonist Bob Gordon before his tragic death in a 1955 car crash, the cool-toned baritonist blends in well with trombonist Herbie Harper in a quintet that also includes a no-name rhythm section (pianist Maury Dell, bassist Don Prell and drummer George Redman). The emphasis is on slower tempos, in fact, two of the songs are titled "Slow Mood" (the Eddie Miller composition) and "Slow." This CD reissue of a Tampa set is worth picking up by fans of relaxed straightahead jazz. -Yanow

Also on the CD is a session led by Bob Enevoldsen which even has Marty Paich playing accordian on one track. Yeah, it's that good.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Willie Colón - The Hustler

Colón's greatest band, in the opinion of many; Hector Lavoe shows the synthesis of traditional form and modern sensibility that made him one of the greats in his field. Listen to "Que Lio" to see how his individual style bridged the classic with the innovative.

"Making his recording debut in 1967, for Al Santiago's Futura label, Colón became a victim of misfortune when the label folded. Colón was much more successful when he signed with Johnny Pacheco's Fania label. When his vocalist failed to make Colón's first session for the label, Pacheco suggested Hector Lavoe as a replacement. The collaboration proved fruitful when two singles from Colón's first two albums (El Malo, Guisando) -- "Jazzy" and "I Wish I Had a Watermelon" -- became hits. Lavoe remained a vital member of Colón's band until the mid-'70s... Lavoe and Colón formed a partnership that would go on to span 14 albums, nearly all of which are gems in the world of Latin music. "

The album has an amazing energy that really bridges a number of Latin scenes -- it's part descarga jamming, part Latin soul, and part traditional Latin -- put together with a no-nonsense approach that makes the whole thing come off like magic. A young Hector LaVoe is on lead vocals, but the real star here is the group -- who have a lean, mean, stripped-down sound that's really great! ~ Dusty Groove

Willie Colon (trombone)
Hector Lavoe (vocals)
Santi Gonzalez (bajo sexto)
Joe Santiago (trombone)
Markolino Dimond (piano)
Hector "Bucky" Andrade (congas)
Pablo Rosario (bongos)
Nicky Marrero (timbales)

1. The Hustler
2. Que Lío
3. Montero
4. Se Acaba Este Mundo
5. Guajirón
6. Eso Se Baila Así
7. Havana