Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brotherhood Of Breath - Travelling Somewhere

Travelling Somewhere consists of a concert recorded by Radio Bremen (Germany) on January 19, 1973, one week before the Chris McGregor & the Brotherhood of Breath show in Switzerland that would be released on Ogun in 1974 as Live at Willisau. The pianist's modern big band was in top shape, with a lineup that blended original Blue Notes players (Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, and Louis Moholo) with the best avant-garde jazz talents in London at the time (Harry Beckett, Mark Charig, Nick Evans, Harry Miller, Evan Parker, Gary Windo, Malcolm Griffiths, and Mike Osborne). Total: three trumpets, two trombones, four saxophones, piano, bass, and drums. Each musician is a creative force by himself. Together they played an overwhelming maelstrom of free jazz. The keyword here is untamed. Yes, they follow compositions, but their liberty is wide and wild. Just listen to Pukwana's "The Bride"; a melody has been written, but it is being played from all angles. Sound quality is very good, the only irritating factor being McGregor's piano, which sounds awful, out of tune, honky tonky, and deep in the mix. But the pianist's role was not central to this outfit and the glorious horns cover the instrument's flaws. "MRA" starts surprisingly sloppy (was everyone ready?), but things coalesce quickly and from this point on the energy level remains high. These players were having fun, as can be heard on "Travelling Somewhere," "Kongi's Theme," and the two aforementioned Pukwana tunes. It's a shame "Do It" had to be faded out -- the end of the CD was reached and there was not enough music left to justify a two-CD set. Of course, newcomers should begin with one of the group's three original albums (at least to hear McGregor right), but this archive CD is a welcome addition to the group's very short discography. ~ François Couture

Chris McGregor (piano)
Mongezi Feza (trumpet)
Dudu Pukwana (alto sax)
Evan Parker (tenor sax)
Malcolm Griffiths (trombone)
Nick Evans (trombone)
Harry Beckett (trumpet)
Marc Charig (trumpet)
Gary Windo (tenor sax)
Louis Moholo (drums)

1. MRA
2. Restless
3. Ismite Is Might
4. Kongi's Theme
5. Wood Fire
6. Bride
7. Travelling Somewhere
8. Think of Something
9. Do It

The Blue Notes - The Ogun Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Percy Mayfield - Poet Of The Blues

Percy Mayfield is in a class of his own, I think, and never seems to be mentioned when the greats are up for discussion. 'Please Send Me Someone To Love' is a little masterpiece that is hard to fuck up; the Animals did a really good version on their reunion album in the '70s - a fine little work on its own, for that matter. Looks like this could be a role for Jamie Foxx if Hollywood ever makes a movie about talent. Just saying. The Specialty label is always worth checking out if the price is right; the sound is great, the notes better than most, and their A&R was excellent. Who would've thought that the drummer on Mayfield's biggest hit was Lester Young's brother?

The insightful songwriting skills of this West Coaster were matched by his wry, plaintive vocal delivery (Mayfield was usually his own best interpreter). The 25 sides here date from his hit-laden 1950-1954 stay at Art Rupe's Specialty logo and include his universal lament "Please Send Me Someone to Love," and the resolutely downbeat "Strange Things Happening" and "Lost Love," and an ironic "The River's Invitation." Saxman Maxwell Davis led the horn-powered combos providing sympathetic support behind Mayfield. ~ Bill Dahl

Just one listen and one still marvels at how anyone could write such perceptive, well-observed lyrics for commercial '50s R&B or blues. While perhaps not melodically or harmonically all that adventurous, Percy Mayfield's highly crafted efforts sound much like the daily diary of a pensive, lonely man, living alone in a single room somewhere. "Please Send Me Someone To Love" (a hit for the Moonglows) is probably his greatest song, but "Lost Mind," "The Hunt Is On," and "Bachelor Blues" aren't far behind. Just on the edge of despair, they are saved by their honesty and literary craft from moving into the spooky nihilism of Johnny Ace or the decadent sensuality of Little Jimmy Scott.

Percy Mayfield (vocals, piano)
Gerald Wiggins (piano)
Jack McVea (tenor sax)
Ulysses Livingston (guitar)
Red Callender (bass)
Lee Young (drums)

1. Please Send Me Someone To Love
2. Prayin' For Your Return
3. Strange Things Happening
4. Life Is Suicide
5. What A Fool I Was
6. Lost Love (Baby, Please)
7. Nightless Lover
8. Advice (For Men Only)
9. Cry Baby
10. Lost Mind
11. I Dare You, Baby
12. Hopeless
13. The Hunt Is On
14. The River's Invitation
15. The Big Question
16. Wasted Dream
17. Louisiana
18. The Bachelor Blues
19. Get Way Back
20. Memory Pain
21. Loose Lips
22. You Don't Exist No More
23. Nightmare
24. Baby, You're Rich
25. My Heart Is Cryin'

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Public Image LTD - That What Is Not

Former Sex Pistol vocalist John Lydon once again unleashed his Public Image Ltd. project, this time with a more basic, unrelenting rock & roll attack than ever before. The audio assault of guitarist John McGeoch and bassist Allan Dias perfectly complements Lydon's frenzied, strangled bleating throughout. As usual, Lydon succeeds in being all of satirical and fatalistic, confrontational and self-deprecating. The album's opening words set the tone: "What does it mean/What does anything mean." It's spat out as a statement rather than a question. "Covered" unpredictably tosses sampled vocals, bluesy harmonica, and Tower of Power horns into the mix. That What Is Not can be a difficult PiL to swallow, but the heady side-effects make the effort worthwhile. ~ Roch Parisien

John Lydon (vocal)
John McGeoch (guitar)
Allan Dias (bass, keyboards)
Gregg Arreguin (guitar)
Jimmie Wood (harmonica)
Curt Bisquera (percussion)
Tower of Power (badass motherfuckin' horns)

1. Acid Drops
2. Luck's Up
3. Cruel
4. God
5. Covered
6. Love Hope
7. Unfairground
8. Think Tank
9. Emperor
10. Good Things

Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell - Red And Black In Willisau

Redman's strong Middle Eastern influence is perhaps most evident on the duets with Blackwell, where the musette introduces a subtle microtonal dimension which builds on Dewey's vocalized approach on single-reed horns. Blackwell's chops are so finely attuned in context like this that it is hard at moments to imagine that there are two musical personalities at work. It is also hard, though, to avoid the impression that this is a sheared and foreshortened Ornette session. ~ Penguin Guide

Tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman and drummer Ed Blackwell had first met up in the late '60s in Ornette Coleman's band and later on as half of Old And New Dreams. This set of live duets from the Willisau '80 Jazz Festival succeeds due to Redman's huge sound, Blackwell's colorful rhythms, and the close interplay between the two. Redman's musette playing on "We Hope" is an acquired taste, but otherwise, his tenor playing is heard in top form on his originals, particularly "Communication" and "Willisee," which clock in at just over 14 minutes apiece. Although some listeners will miss the usual chordal instruments (and particularly the bass), this combination works. ~ Scott Yanow

Dewey Redman (musette, tenor sax)
Ed Blackwell (drums)

1. Willisee
2. We Hope
3. F I
4. Communication
5. S 126 T

Carol Sloane & Clark Terry - The Songs Ella & Louis Sang (1997)

"It was Louis who impressed me with the importance of singing... if only to rest your chops." - Clark Terry

I think Scoredaddy will like this one. For my tastes, I'll pick up just about anything with Clark Terry on it.

This release both is and, in a sense, isn't a tribute to the mighty and lovable Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. As far as the repertoire goes, of course, these songs were associated with Ella and Louis in their separate and joint projects. But Carol Sloane and Clark Terry are definitely not imitators of anybody; it is their inimitable styles, mannerisms, lyrical bents, and distinctive senses of humor that make this disc happen. Terry's slippery trumpet slides and bounces over the notes in a completely different manner than Armstrong, and he displays just as much personality in doing so. You also hear much more of Terry's actual singing than usual (as opposed to his mumbles act on "Stompin' at the Savoy"), breezy and full of jive. Carol Sloane is closer to Shirley Horn in soft-focused tone than she is to Ella, and she makes a fine dusky-voiced foil for Terry's talking horn obligatos. With only the backing of a piano trio, this is as relaxed and ingratiating a set in its own way as the first Ella/Louis albums on Verve were, evoking the atmosphere, if not the actual sound, of a 1950s Norman Granz production. - Richard S. Ginell

Singer Carol Sloane started singing professionally when she was 14 and at 18 she toured Germany in a musical comedy. She was with the Les and Larry Elgart orchestra during 1958-1960 and, after appearing at a jazz festival in 1960, she was heard by Jon Hendricks who later sent for her to sub for Annie Ross with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. Sloane made a big impression at the 1961 Newport Jazz Festival and soon cut two records for Columbia. Unfortunately, her career never got going and, except for a live set from 1964 released on Honey Dew, Sloane would not record again until 1977, working as a secretary in North Carolina and singing just now and then locally.??However, in the mid-'70s she became more active again, caught on in Japan (where she began to record frequently), and her career finally got on more solid footing. Sloane's releases for Audiophile, Choice, Progressive, Contemporary, and later Concord feature a mature bop-based singer with a sound of her own.

Carol Sloane (vocals)
Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals)
Bill Charlap (piano)
Marcus McLaurine (bass)
Dennis Mackrel (drums)
  1. I Won't Dance
  2. Tenderly
  3. Don't Be That Way
  4. Can't We Be Friends
  5. Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You
  6. Autumn in New York
  7. Let's Do It
  8. Stars Fell on Alabama
  9. Moonlight in Vermont
  10. Blueberry Hill
  11. Stompin' at the Savoy
  12. When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Recorded May 7-9, 1997

Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy - Twilight Dreams

Here's a little Frank Lacy for our friend Danny. I remember really enjoying the first Bowie Braass Fantasy title I heard; I Only Have Eyes For You. It was nice to hear what later was endlessly described as "sly humor" and "poking fun", but when thats all you do, or mainly do, it gets old. 'Thriller'? Really? Scotty almost has it right this time: still, it's a necessary side trip in the development of jazz, I suppose. And I like this album more than I dislike it, if that makes sense. Whadda you think?

Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, which is comprised of four trumpets, two trombones, French horn, tuba and drums, has rarely lived up to its potential on records. Bowie has enjoyed having the band take pop tunes ("Personality" and "Night Time Is the Right Time" on this album) and distort (and sometimes satirize) them but one imagines that this approach works better in concert than on record. There are some strong moments on this hard-to-find LP (such as Bowie's trumpet-drums duet with the late Phillip Wilson on "Duke's Fantasy") but this is a hit-and-miss affair. ~ Scott Yanow

Lester Bowie (trumpet)
Steve Turre (trombone)
Frank Lacy (trombone)
Malachi Thompson (trumpet)
Vincent Chancey (French horn)
Stanton Davis, Jr. (trumpet)
Rasul Siddik (trumpet)
Bob Stewart (tuba)
Phillip Wilson (drums)

1. I Am With You
2. Personality
3. Duke's Fantasy
4. Thriller
5. Night Time (Is the Right Time)
6. Vibe Waltz
7. Twilight Dreams

Friday, January 29, 2010

Vic Dickenson - Trombone Cholly

Originally released in 1995, Vic Dickenson's tribute to Bessie Smith is one of the classics of jazz and, like so many others, now out of print. Vocal tributes to Bessie Smith are doomed to pale in comparison to the powerful original article. But Dickenson's sinewy and supple trombone is a near perfect stand in for a voice. Like a snake slithering through tall grass, Dickenson weaves his way through some of Smith's most well-known blues. Accompanied by Frank Wess on tenor, Joe Newman on trompet and a fine rhythm section that inlcudes Milt Hinton's big bass, this is music for every jazz lover.

Pepper Adams - California Cookin'

This album was recorded during the 15th Annual OCC Jazz Festival hold In Costa Mesa, CA. The quintet was the opening act for the Bill Berry L.A. Big Band, with all members of the quintet also giving clinics and judging the College/High School Bands, which were competing during the daytime.

It is worth noting that Pepper's original ‘Valse Celtique’ had their premier performance at this Festival. He was to record the tune at a later date, featuring Kenny Wheeler and Frank Foster on 2 different sessions. Pepper usually worked with pick-up groups during the later stages of his career, although he was a poll winning performer on the baritone, Pepper never achieved the prominence that Gerry Mulligan reached. Although both had their own original sound, with Pepper having the harder tone, despite his always being #2 in the polls, he was, to many, the number one baritone player, always exciting and creating original music.

This is also the first time that Pepper had worked with Victor Feldman. Ted Curson had worked with Pepper in Europe during the seventies; both Magnusson and Burnett had worked with Pepper during one of his earlier California appearances .... During the brief rehearsal time prior to the concert, Victor found some slight mistakes in Pepper's originals, which he corrected, much to Pepper's chagrin; otherwise Pepper was determined to avoid a jam session sound as an opening act. The opening number [‘Valse Celtique’] used the full quintet; ‘Summertime’ followed as a feature for Ted Curson; Victor Feldman then offers a trio version of his original - ‘Last Resort;’ Pepper is up next for his ballad feature, ‘Now In Our Lives; the full quintet returns for the theme, Sonny Rollins original ‘Oleo.’”

Pepper Adams (baritone sax)
Ted Curson (trumpet)
Victor Feldman (piano)
Bob Magnusson (bass)
Carl Burnett (drums)

1. Valse Celtique
2. Summertime
3. Last Resort
4. Now In Our Lives
5. Oleo

George Wein Presents... Zoot Sims & Bob Brookmeyer Quintet

These fine sessions demonstrate not only the considerable solo jazz capacities of Zoot Sims and Bob Brookmeyer, but also the stimulation they enjoyed in each other’s musical company, which inspired skillful, bracing and deceptively casual interplay. In blowing of the highest caliber. Brookmeyer’s thoughtful, swinging subtlety is a just complement to Zoot’sbig-boned, fully-fleshed horn. The rhythm sections are flexible and swinging. Hank Jones solos with his usual refreshing combination of clear, flowing articulation, swinging taste, and structural sense.
These two sessions remain among the most relaxed and informal small combo sessions produced by George Wein’s Storyville Records.
Liner notes of the CD edition

This Fresh Sound CD includes 2 LPs recorded by Sims and Brookmeyer between January and February, 1956: Tonite's Music Today (Storyville SLP 907) and Whooeeee! (Storyville SLP 914), and produced by George Wein.

George Wein Biography (All About Jazz)

Born: October 3, 1925
George Wein is the man who is arguably the father of the jazz festivals movement. Though he is known first and foremost for his long career as a jazz producer and impresario, George Wein is also a jazz musician. Though his far-flung activities have not afforded him a full-fledged career as a performer and recording artist, he has long been an active pianist in a swing/proto-bebop mode, making tours with his own all star bands. But it is as festival pioneer, producer, and all-around impresario that George Wein has made his principle mark. His company, Festival Productions Inc., has produced jazz festivals and concerts around the globe.
Wein first studied music with the noted Margaret Chaloff in Boston, later falling under the tutelage of Teddy Wilson at Julliard. Besides prepping as a pianist, George Wein had other ideas. He opened his first jazz club, Storyville, in Boston in 1950. One night he was approached by some wealthy residents of the resort town of Newport, R.I., who had eyes to fill what they saw as a cultural void during the summer months in their adopted community. Wein was keenly interested in the possibilities and was engaged as the producer of the first Newport Jazz Festival, established in 1954. The idea of staging a major jazz event with multiple acts on consecutive days had never quite coalesced the way the Newport Jazz Festival did it, and Wein was off and running.
Places as unlikely as small town Indiana eventually sought Wein's skills at putting together these festivals, and overseas opportunities beckoned as well. Later the Newport Jazz Festival gave birth to the Newport Folk Festival, and Wein had established a cottage industry. He also produced jazz concerts at major events including the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. In 1960, Wein established Festival Productions Inc. and went on to produce the Ohio Valley Jazz Festival in Cincinnati, the Boston Globe Jazz Festival, the Hampton Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice, France, and the Playboy Jazz Festival, first in Chicago later in L.A. where it continues.
In 1971, unruly crowds and the subsequent police action forced Wein to temporarily abandon Newport, R.I. and move his festival to New York. There he pioneered the concept of corporate underwriting of jazz festivals, first with the Kool Jazz Festival series, more recently with his JVC Jazz Festival series. As a record producer he helmed the George Wein Collection of recordings for the Concord label in 1983. His festival production enterprise has topped out at nearly 30 events, in the U.S., Europe and Japan.
Among George Wein's honors are two separate White House anniversary celebrations of his Newport Jazz Festival, during the Carter and Clinton administrations. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards and the DownBeat Lifetime Achievement Award.
Though he sold his Festival Productions company, he remains active, George Wein also serves on the executive boards of Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theatre Foundation and Carnegie Hall. In addition to carrying on this work, he is an author, whose autobiography Myself Among Others was recognized by the Jazz Journalists Association as 2004's best book about jazz, and continues to perform as a pianist, touring the United States, Europe and Japan with his group, the Newport All-Stars.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Red Norvo - Red Norvo's Fabulous Jam Session (TOCJ)

The super-session with the young Gillespie and Parker from 1945 is a significant moment in the development of bebop and the music that came after it. Though as ragged as any jam session, it is full of life and energy. ~ Penguin Guide

This is a famous recording session that deserves the very complete treatment it receives on this CD ... . On June 6, 1945, vibraphonist Red Norvo and an all-star swing rhythm section (comprised of pianist Teddy Wilson, bassist Slam Stewart and either Specs Powell or J.C. Heard on drums) joined jump tenor Flip Phillips and the two great bop innovators, altoist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. This mixture of swing and bop stylists recorded four songs ("Hallelujah," "Get Happy," "Slam Slam Blues" and "Congo Blues"), and those recordings and eight alternate takes are included on this exciting album. The performances point out the evolutionary (as opposed to revolutionary) nature of bop from swing, but also its differences. It is fascinating to hear and rewards repeated listenings. ~ Scott Yanow

Red Norvo (vibes)
Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Charlie Parker (alto sax)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Flip Phillips (tenor sax)
Slam Stewart (bass)
Specs Powell (drums)
J.C. Heard (drums)

1. Hallelujah (T8-A)
2. Hallelujah (T8-B)
3. Hallelujah (T8-F)
4. Get Happy (T9-B)
5. Get Happy (T9-D)
6. Slam Slam Blues (T10-A)
7. Slam Slam Blues (T10-B)
8. Congo Blues (false start) (T11-AA)
9. Congo Blues (false start) (T11-BB)
10. Congo Blues (T11-A)
11. Congo Blues (T11-A)
12. Congo Blues (T11-C)

Various Artists - Knock Out Blues: Early R&B Vol. II 1940-1952

The evolution of rhythm and blues developed a rich variety of sounds through its regional influences. It can be regarded as a melding of urban and rural blues styles, but it was also under the sway of the Texas and Kansas City style swing bands, the New Orleans piano style pioneered by Champion Jack Dupree and Professor Longhair, as well as the smooth vocal styling of Californians such as Charles Brown. For this CD volume we have chosen a number of obscure artists that recorded extensively for independent labels, called the "indies".
The disc kicks off with a tough little combo formed around pianist/drummer Melvin "Daddy" Merritt who recorded with Jack Dupree, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. The incredible tenor sax on the session is played probably by Al King, who made fine recordings in the jump blues genre under his own name.
Bandleader Franz Jackson waxed the storming "Boogie Woogie Camp Meeting" for Decca in 1940, featuring the rocking and rolling Kenny Kersey on piano and this little gem shows how rhythm and blues had its roots in the golden age of the swing bands. Jackson emerged from orchestras like Jimmie Noone, Fletcher Henderson, Earl Hines and Cootie Williams. Franz Jackson (named after Franz Schubert by his mother, as he told me) is still musically active today.
Charles Brown's classic "Drifting Blues"(a very influential record) must clearly have inspired guitarist/singer Ulysses James on his own "Poor Boy".
The Three Bits of Rhythm offered a large variety of styles, as it was expected by an audience at that time of a club combo: syrupy ballads, jive songs, blues and of course boogie woogies. In the late 1940s the group was led by bassist Ted Rudolph, who doubled on vibraharp. This slick little band consisted of versatile musicians - as one can hear - they must have often switched instruments during their sessions.
Unfortunately, no information is available on the other artists on this disc. May the music speak for itself. Have fun!
Frank Saturn, February 1994 (liner notes)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bix Beiderbecke - 1927-1930 (Chronological 788)

Perhaps one of our German friends can tell us what - if anything - 'Beiderbecke' means. I was always curious about that.

The Japanese issue Real Jazz Me Blues, posted not very long ago, is - to my mind - the set to have if you have only one Beiderbecke CD. Luckily, you don't have to settle for just one.

This is the second volume in the all-too-brief Classics Bix Beiderbecke chronology. It presents all 13 Okeh Records cut by Beiderbecke & His Gang between October 5, 1927 and September 21, 1928, followed by Beiderbecke's very last recordings, made between May 21 and September 15, 1930 for the Victor, Vocalion and Brunswick labels. He is heard leading his own band and sitting in with Hoagy Carmichael's orchestra as well as Irving Mills & His Hotsy Totsy Gang. Three years into his brief recording career, Beiderbecke was already beginning to feel confined by the artistic limitations of the entertainment industry. In his excellent and insightful novel-length tribute "Remembering Bix," Ralph Berton recalled his final encounter with Beiderbecke, which took place during the autumn of 1927 shortly before Bix began working for Paul Whiteman. Berton describes their conversation as they listened to the recently waxed Bix & His Gang sides. Although Berton rightfully perceived that some of these were among the hottest and best of Beiderbecke's recordings, Bix was not entirely happy with the results, and even threatened to destroy the master of "Goose Pimples" which was soon issued as Okeh 8544. During this performance he momentarily intruded upon the opening of Frank Signorelli's piano solo, became frustrated and tossed off what he later called a "phony Charleston lick," then responded to gesticulations made by an engineer urging him to finish up before they ran out of room on the disc by letting loose with a couple of very atypical high notes, sharp and fortissimo. Beiderbecke was horrified, incredulous and ultimately contemptuous when the session's producers went ahead and issued what is demonstrably a botched take. Yet in retrospect the excitement of hot jazz transforms even these obvious flaws into personable idiosyncrasies. All 13 sides are anchored with beefy bass saxophones, handled expertly by Adrian Rollini or ably by Min Leibrook. Like the turning of a page, the '30s began for Beiderbecke with a series of collaborations hinting at potential developments that either blossomed or withered away. With names like Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Bud Freeman, Gene Krupa, Hoagy Carmichael and violinist Joe Venuti (who can be heard bawdily intoning the words "Barnacle Bill the Shit-head" in a raspy voice), this home stretch of the Beiderbecke discography reads like a "most likely to succeed" roster. Yet three gifted participants would soon be taken out 'way ahead of schedule; guitarist Eddie Lang was soon to die from complications following a tonsillectomy, Ellington's ex-trumpeter Bubber Miley was already in the process of drinking himself into an early grave, and Bix Beiderbecke's days were numbered. On August 6, 1931 he succumbed to alcoholism and pneumonia at the age of 28. The music on this compilation is an essential portion of his legacy. ~ arwulf arwulf

Bix Beiderbecke (cornet)
Eddie Lang (guitar)
Joe Venuti (violin)
Benny Goodman (clarinet, alto sax)
Bud Freeman (tenor sax)
Hoagy Carmichael (vocal)
Adrian Rollini (baritone sax)
Tommy Dorsey (trombone)
Bubber Miley (trumpet)
Jimmy Dorsey (alto sax)
Gene Krupa (drums)

1. At The Jazz Band Ball
2. Royal Garden Blues
3. Jazz Me Blues
4. Goose Pimples
5. Sorry
6. Since My Best Girl Turned Me Down
7. Somebody Stole My Gal
8. Thou Swell
9. Ol' Man River
10. Wa-Da-Da (Ev'rybody's Doin' It Now)
11. Rythm King
12. Louisiana
13. Margie
14. Rockin' Chair
15. Barnacle Bill The Sailor
16. Loved One
17. Deep Harlem
18. Strut, Miss Lizzie
19. Deep Down South
20. I Don't Mind Walking In The Rain (When I'm Walking In The Rain With You)
21. I'll Be A Friend 'With Pleasure'
22. Georgia (On My Mind)
23. One Night In Havana
24. Bessie Couldn't Help It

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lonnie Johnson - Complete 1937 To June 1947 Recordings, Volume 3: 14 December 1944 to 2 June 1947

Among the most obscure recordings from Lonnie Johnson's career, the 23 selections on this CD were cut after the recording strike of 1942-1944 ended and just prior to the blues singer/guitarist joining the King label. Johnson is heard in trios (usually including pianist Blind Davis) plus on two numbers on which he backs the singing of Karl Jones. The music is (as was true throughout his career) consistently enjoyable with strong musicianship and a gentler side of the blues than was usually performed by Johnson's country blues counterparts. Well worth exploring. ~ Scott Yanow

Lonnie Johnson (guitar)
Blind John Davis (piano)
Bob Shoffner (trumpet)
Ransom Knowling (bass)
Karl D. Jones (vocal)
Red Nelson (vocal)

Someday Baby
My Love Is Down
Watch Shorty
Trouble In Mind
My Last Love
Keep What You Got
Solid Blues
I'm In Love With You
Drifting Along Blues
How Could You Be So Mean
Why I Love You
Tell Me Why
Rocks In My Bed
Blues For Everybody
In Love Again
Blues In My Soul
How Could You?
Love Is The Answer
Don't Blame Her
Your Last Time Out
You Know I Do
Blues For Lonnie

Steve Turre - In the Spur of the Moment (1999)

Trombonists in general are under-appreciated and none more so than Steve Turre. Blessed with a tone that reminds one of Bennie Green and his idol, J.J. Johnson, Turre is also a master of the plunger mute and that rarely heard instrument, the conch shell. He has as varied a background as anyone in jazz today with a long list of credits as a sideman, including Ray Charles, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Art Blakey, Chico Hamilton, Woody Shaw, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Dexter Gordon, Pancho Sanchez, Tito Puente, the Mingus Big Band, and Lester Bowie. As a leader, he has released 14 CDs between 1987 and 2008.

This particular disc is a good starting place if you are unfamiliar with this artist. In three separate sessions, Turre plays varying styles with three different rhythm sections led by three pianists reflecting each style. The first four selections are subtitled The Blues in Jazz with Ray Charles on piano, Peter Washington on bass, and brother Peter Turre on drums. However, the only real traditional blues is "Ray's Collard Greens" with "Duke Rays" based on Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" and the others being well known standards.

The second set, Modern and Modal, has three pieces featuring Stephen Scott on piano, Buster Williams on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. "Something for John" is based on Coltrane's "Lazy Bird" with Stephen Scott's "In the Spur of the Moment" being the sole modal selection.

The feel of the album takes a hard turn with the last three selections, labeled Afro-Cuban Sounds. Turre is joined by the always impressive playing of Chucho Valdés on piano with Andy Gonzalez on bass, and Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez on drums and various percussion. A string quartet is added for Chucho's beautiful composition "Claudia" and Turre's "Descarga Ahora" is the most energized piece on the CD.

A masterful musician surrounded by three well thought-out rhythm sections, this is a glowing example of Steve Turre's talents.

Steve Turre (trombone, conch shells)
Ray Charles, Stephen Scott, Chucho Valdés (piano)
Peter Washington, Buster Williams, Andy Gonzalez (bass)
Peter Turre, Jack DeJohnette, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez (drums)
  1. Ray's Collard Greens
  2. Misty
  3. Duke Rays
  4. The Way You Look Tonight
  5. Ellington Medley: Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me/Five O'Clock Drag
  6. Something for John
  7. In the Spur of the Moment
  8. Sueños de La Habana
  9. Claudia
  10. Descarga Ahora
Recorded August 14, October 5 & 8, 1999

Enrico Pieranunzi Plays Domenico Scarlatti

The idea of "jazzing up the classics" is an old one, dating back to the rag and stride pianists of the early 20th century. At one time there must have been quite a bit of shock value when a pianist played a hot version of Chopin or Tchaikovsky, but not any more. Today it comes across as just another gimmick—and a tired one at that.

For that reason, you might be forgiven for dismissing pianist Enrico Pieranunzi's interpretations of Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) before even giving them a listen. But you would be making a mistake. Pieranunzi is not a gimmicky player, and his best work has a profound rightness about it, an uncontrived immersion into musical essences and an almost tactile yet elusive sensuality. He brings these qualities to bear on his reworkings of Scarlatti, which both respect the integrity of the original compositions while finding in them a platform for contemporary improvisation. This is not an small feat. Pieranunzi works a subtle transformation, and if you are not listening carefully you will miss that many gradual shifts in texture and tone that shape his interpretations.

An even series of on-the-beat left hand notes evolves into a walking bassline. Eighteenth century harmony is hammered into twentieth century harmony through a series of granular level adaptations. Syncopations emerge from the counterpoint. The end result is penetrating modern jazz, but Pieranunzi arrives there as slowly and patiently as a sunset working its effects over the horizon. Few CDs these days sound so untouched by the expected and conventional—the wonder is that our pianist makes this happen with a composition that is 250 years old. Ted Gioia

Enrico Pieranunzi (piano)

1 Sonata K. 531 (Scarlatti) /Improvisation on Sonata K. 531 (Pieranunzi) 6:09
2 Sonata K. 159 (Scarlatti) /Improvisation on Sonata K. 159 (Pieranunzi) 2:40
3 Sonata K. 18 3:41
4 Improvisation on Sonata K. 208 (Pieranunzi)/Sonata K. 208 (Scarlatti) 5:39
5 Sonata K. 377 (Scarlatti)/Improvisation on Sonata K. 377 (Pieranunzi) 5:28
6 Sonata K. 492 (Scarlatti)/Improvisation on Sonata K. 492 (Pieranunzi) 6:03
7 Sonata K. 9 (Scarlatti)/Improvisation on Sonata K. 9 (Pieranunzi) 5:39
8 Sonata K. 51 3:21
9 Sonata K. 260 4:03
10 Improvisation on Sonata K. 545 (Pieranunzi)/Sonata K. 545 (Scarlatti) 3:57
11 Improvisation on Sonata K. 3 1:38
12 Sonata K. 3 2:13
13 Sonata K. 239 3:00
14 Sonata K. 69 (Scarlatti) /Improvisation on Sonata K. 69 (Pieranunzi) 6:37

Recorded: Ludwigsburg, Germany December 8-9, 2007

Chick Corea Trio - 1985-July-5 FM

Chick Corea Trio

Montreal Jazz Festival
Theatre St. Denis
Montreal, Quebec

5 July 1985
11 pm

Chick Corea - piano
Miroslav Vitous - bass
Roy Haynes - drums

CD1 43:27
01. Intro  02:09
02. Bessie's Blues (John Coltrane) 18:32
03. Summer Night (Harry Warren & Al Dubin) 9:15
04. I Hear A Rhapsody (George Fragos, Jack Baker & Dick Gasparre) 9:26
05. Mirovisions (Miroslav Vitous) 14:04

CD2 44:13
06. Title (solo piano) 10:36
07. Title (solo bass) 9:30
08. Title (solo drums) 11:42
09. Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma, Johnny Mercer & Jacques Prevert) 12:23

FM>?>Trade CD>EAC>FLAC>Vuze>Dimeadozen >

Goody's additional lineage:
dBpoweramp (WAV) > Cool Edit Pro (Pitch Bender +55 cents, split first track, other tracking, noise removal) > Trader's Little Helper (FLAC Level 8, ffp)

Quality: A

    The three unidentified pieces are improvisations. In the Trio Music context, the drum solo has been issued as "Hittin' It" (Roy Haynes) and the bass solo as "Transformation" (Miroslav Vitous). In this particular version Vitous includes a reference to "Alice In Wonderland" (Sammy Fain, Bob Hilliard). The piano solo has been issued as "Mock Up" (Chick Corea). This version includes a reference to "Some Time Ago" (Chick Corea, Neville Potter).

Roberto Miranda - With Groanings Too Deep for Words

"With Groanings Too Deep for Words." Roberto Miranda, bass player, composer, and faculty member in the Jazz Studies Program at UCLA, recently released a new CD on Miguel Music. It features Kenny Burrell on guitar, with Bobby Bradford on cornet, Charles Owens on woodwinds, Billy Childs on piano, Don Littleton on percussion, and the great Billy Higgins on drums (in one of his last recording appearances). While playing his CD at the Archive on November 19, 2002, Mr. Miranda answered questions from listeners and shared his thoughts about the recording experience. More information about the CD, including excerpts from the disc, can be heard at

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dexter Gordon - Bouncin' With Dex

Pa' mi hermano, Chuchuni.

Dexter Gordon thrived on the attention of European jazz fans while living there during the 1960s and early '70s, while he also had a wealth of opportunities to record for labels on the continent. This 1975 session for Steeplechase, one of a dozen he made as a leader for the label in the mid-'70s, finds him in top form, accompanied by pianist Tete Montoliu, along with frequent collaborators Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen on bass and drummer Billy Higgins. Gordon's big tone carries the brisk treatment of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce," though he inserts a few humorous quotes into his solo as well. Two versions of the standard "Easy Living" are played at a loping tempo in a heartfelt manner, though the master is a tad better in its execution. The familiar bop vehicle "Four" (usually credited to Miles Davis, though this CD acknowledges Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson as its more likely composer) explodes in a furious performance. Gordon wrote the Latin-flavored "Catalonian Nights" especially for Montoliu, while the tenorist's "Benji's Bounce" is a lively, thinly disguised reworking of Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-a-Ning" (which is itself based on the changes to "I Got Rhythm"). ~ Ken Dryden

Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Tete Montoliu (piano)
Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)

1. Billie's Bounce
2. Easy Living
3. Benji's Bounce
4. Catalonian Nights
5. Four
6. Easy Living (take 1)

Dexter Gordon - King Neptune

The touchstone 'Body And Soul' is beautifully enunciated on King Neptune and the band gels in the ensemble passages with little of the slightly mechanistic pulse that afflicted the earlier Cheescake session. ~ Penguin Guide

Dexter Gordon and his European quartet (pianist Tete Montoliu, bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and drummer Alex Riel) played a three-month engagement at Copenhagen's Montmartre Club during the summer of 1964. The group had an hour-long radio broadcast every other Thursday night, and the results have been released by SteepleChase on six CDs. Cheesecake was the first, and its follow-up, King Neptune, features the quartet and the great tenor stretching out on "Satin Doll," "Body and Soul," "I Want to Blow Now" (which Gordon briefly sings), and the otherwise unknown title cut, a Gordon original that was never recorded elsewhere. All of the releases in this valuable Dexter in Radioland series are recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Tete Montoliu (piano)
Benny Nielsen (bass)
Alex Riel (drums)

1. Introduction
2. King Neptune
3. Satin Doll
4. Body And Soul
5. I Want To Blow Now

Sunday, January 24, 2010

BN LP 5039 | A Night At Birdland With Art Blakey Quintet, Volume 3

From the liner notes;

"BLP 5039 offers Lou in ballad mood with a fine solo on the old British standard If I Had You plus two familiar themes by Charlie Parker Confirmation and Now's The Time. The latter, a 12-bar blues, was written some time before the highly successful Hucklebuck."

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

Sonny Stitt - Stitt's Bits: The Bebop Recordings 1949-1952

Reviewed (excellently) by Morris.

I would like to start this review by thanking Rab for the opportunity to review this 3CD set. My exposure to post-war (WWII that is) jazz is rather limited. So when I asked to do the review to this, I fully expected to get a reply back telling me that I need to stick to reviewing stuff from the 20’s and 30’s. Imagine my surprise when he gave me the green light to do this one. Thanks.

In doing some research for this review, I came across the same commentary over and over again. Not the same actual commentary, but each commenter on the work of Sonny Stitt seems to take the same general approach: first, they make the statement that Stitt is unfairly compared to Charlie Parker and is, thus, underrated in his own right; and, second, they begin to make the case for how Stitt was not influenced by Parker nearly to the extent jazz historians have made it seem. I am certainly not in a position to either debunk or support such assertions. The other thing I will not do is say that every note on this CD was exceptional or interesting. I don’t know that anyone can listen to three whole CDs by any artist and make such a bold statement. What I can say is that I found this to be a wonderful introduction to Sonny Stitt. It presents Stitt in several settings and, if nothing else, shows how he could play the role of chameleon: bop, jump blues, small group, tenor battles – it is all here.

I can sum up my favorite parts of the set in two categories: the first is the two sessions that Stitt did with Bud Powell, and the second is the quartet sides. Of the sessions on this set, the songs he did with Powell in 1949-1950 are the ones I was most familiar. What was different for me, though, is the ability to place them in the context of Stitt’s other work. This is something I had always been able to do with Powell but not with Stitt. Both Stitt and Powell are at their best, in my opinion. The eight or so songs from these sessions provide the listener some great music and really beg the question as to why the two did not work more together. Even beyond the music itself, sets that provide a chronological context for the recorded works of an important artist, such as this one, provide the listener with an invaluable service.

The second thing that I really enjoyed from this set were the small group sides. This, of course, is a purely a matter of personal taste, but as far as jazz where the saxophone is the lead instrument, I generally tend to appreciate ballads over the faster numbers and this is done best by Stitt on the quartet sessions. As would be Stitt’s reputation after his stint with Prestige (with not everyone meaning it in a good way), he had a way with a standard, especially in the small group setting. Of special note is a quartet session from June, 1950 that provides great versions of There Will Never Be Another You, Count Every Star and Nice Work If You Can Get It. A later quartet date in December, 1950 provides a remarkable rendering of Imagination. His work on these is both aesthetically pleasing but also engagingly complex – a rare combination for someone to pull off. For instance, on Imagination he is able to deliver a beautiful song, but part of the beauty is in the complexity of his phrasing.

As far as I was concerned, I did not enjoy the septet sides he did with Gene Ammons nearly as much as I had hoped. Many of these sides were billed on the 78 release as “Gene Ammons vs. Sonny Sitt.” I realize that such pairing was a popular marketing tool at the time, but saxophone “battles” in my opinion are a lot like break dancing was in the 80’s - senseless. To me, players were better served just taking the same rhythm section (which they often did as it seems that there were only three or four people capable of playing bass and drums during that period) and playing the same songs and see whose were better. Maybe a more sophisticated ear can appreciate the sax duels, but for someone who was listening to this for the first time, it was difficult to distinguish the two saxes and I think wondering who was soloing almost detracted from the enjoyment for me. Further, if you are not a fan of jazz vocalists of the late 40’s/early 50’s, this set will do nothing to convince you otherwise. It includes two sides with a Billy Eckstine-doppelganger named Teddy Williams. Still, it is interesting to hear him provide a more rhythm and blues backing to Williams on Dumb Woman Blues. I also found a band-sung Let It Be to be enjoyable with the band consisting of Stitt, Gene Ammons, Bennie Green and others.

The difference between the terms “icon” and “underrated” in music is a fragile one. Often it is a matter of opportunities and opportunities missed. Even with my limited knowledge, I cannot help but think that Stitt suffered from the latter. Had he wound up on Blue Note or some equally prestigious label in the mid-to-late fifties, and received the historic adulation that comes with that, maybe he would be in the pantheon of bop artists who made that successful transition into the hard bop world, like Monk, Miles, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins. Still, Stitt could probably only blame himself for the missed opportunities. The author of the notes recounts an audition Stitt had with Alfred Lion where Lion summarily dismissed Stitt’s playing as lackluster and informal. Stories such as that provide Stitt’s critics with more ammunition that they deserve.

The great sage, arwulf arwulf, tells a great story of a chance meeting between Stitt and Charlie Parker inside of the Gypsy Tea Room at 18th and Vine in Kansas City. Backed only by a pianist, the two men jousted for a while with their saxophones before Bird stopped and said, "You sound too much like me." "Well," replied Stitt, "you sound too much like me!"

Sonny Stitt (alto, tenor and baritone sax)
Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Bud Powell (piano)
John Lewis (piano)
J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Duke Jordan (piano)
Earl May (bass)
Art Blakey (drums)
Max Roach (drums)

Don Preston - Works

Keyboardist/composer Don Preston, who is probably best known for his work with Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, is deeply rooted in contemporary classical music—Preston has scored more than twenty feature films and fourteen plays.

Works is a ten track retrospective of Preston's classically influenced works, spanning from 1965 to the present. The disc is a fascinating glance into the uncompromising musical mind of an overlooked American musical icon.

The opening track "Of No Consequence" is a well-crafted, dense work for chamber orchestra. "Found," from 1965, is a mainly improvised piece, scored for piano, flute, bass, percussion and voice. The sparse blending of female voice with fragmented flute passages and heavy-handed piano flourishes is delightfully eerie. "Was Black," commissioned by a performance artist friend of Preston's, is a dark-toned electronic piece containing hints of Krzysztof Penderecki's "Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima."

Preston has been lauded for his innovative involvement with the synthesizer and much of the music found on Works is indeed telling of the composer's electronic leanings. Such an over-reliance on synthetic sound, however, tends to spoil the emotional capacity of pieces like "The Winds of Change" and "Homage to FZ." The former, full of beautifully developed themes, poorly emulates a trio of piano, violin and cello. The latter, a jagged fanfare dedicated to Zappa, is scored for three trumpets, French horn, trombone and tuba, but unfortunately performed by Preston in a studio using samples and automated sounds.

Preston's uncompromising vision is clearest when electronics are blended with live instrumentation ("Primeval #7," "The Bride Stripped Bare" and "Of No Consequence"). Also noteworthy is the frenzied, fittingly brief solo piano piece "Ode to Tinguely." ~ John Barron

1. Of No Consequence
2. Opus 5
3. Was Black
4. Found
5. The Winds Of Change
6. Primeval #7
7. Opening Titles
8. Ode To Tinguely
9. The Bride Stripped Bare
10. Homage To FZ

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gerald Wilson's Orchestra Of The 80's - Love You Madly

Another of those LA musicians, like Buddy Collette who appears here, that always kept studying and pushing professional and arranging boundaries, Gerald Wilson made a good living scoring for the industry. This album is a pleasant discovery (no pun intended) that I picked up because of some of the sidemen. Who wouldn't be interested in hearing Harold Land with Shuggie Otis, Harold Land Jr , Milcho Leviev, Anthony Ortega, Oscar Brashear, Jerome Richardson, Gerald Wiggins ... you get the idea. Dig Snookie Young's presence - he is also on the Wilson Chrono from '45-'46 that was posted some time ago.

Often big band recordings leave me uninterested because they are solely examples of the arrangers ability (a type of recording loved by many but not by me) and don't make use of the remarkable musicians in the lineup. And early into this CD I was thinking this would be another of those, but then ... but then, these bad boys started killin' it. Do yourself a favor and check this sleeper out.

"Arranger-bandleader Gerald Wilson's first recording in 12 years resulted in the first of his four albums for Albert Marx's Discovery/Trend labels. Wilson's arranging style was essentially the same as it had been in the 1960s and his large big band featured many alumni plus some other younger L.A.-based jazzmen. Lomelin (the title cut is dedicated to a bullfighter) has six newly-written Wilson originals including tributes to his son, Zubin Mehta ("Blues for Zubin") and Marx ("You Know"). The music is straight-ahead with plenty of solo space for such players as pianist Mike Wofford, trumpeter Oscar Brashear, guitarist Shuggie Otis and the tenors of Ernie Watts, Harold Land, and Jerome Richardson." ~ Scott Yanow

Gerald Wilson's band had not made an album for 12 years when Albert Marx asked him back to record for his new label, Discovery. By then, Wilson had had his own radio program and was teaching jazz history at universities in California. His orchestra of the 1980s was filled with old and new faces and was as good as any ensemble he'd fronted. "Lomelin" continued in the tradition of "Viva Tirado" and "El Viti," other Wilson portraits of great bullfighters he has admired. Wilson's art had deepened since his '60s recordings: varied tempos and additional reeds make this a powerful concert work blending Mexican and jazz threads. Oscar Brashear delivers an emotional solo at the beginning and the end, with additional solos by Land (sax) and Wofford. The maestro was back where he belonged. ~ Jeff Sultanof

Gerald Wilson (leader)
Oscar Brashear (trumpet)
Harold Land (tenor sax),
Mike Wofford (acoustic piano)
Snooky Young (trumpet)
Bobby Bryant (trumpet), Thurman Green, Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Garnett Brown (trombone)
Buddy Collette (reeds)
Jerome Richardson (reeds)
Anthony Ortega (alto sax)
Ernie Watts (tenor sax)
Jack Nimitz (baritone sax)
Harold C. Land (electric piano)
John B. Williams (bass)
Paul Humphrey (drums)

1. Love You Madly
2. Getaway
3. Sophisticated Lady
4. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
5. Lomelin
6. Ay-Ee-En
7. See You Later
8. You Know
9. Triple Chase
10. Blues For Zubin

Django Reinhardt - 1934-1935 (Chronological 703)

Today is what would be Django's 100th birthday. So here's a look at the beginning of one of the comets of jazz. Also present is Hildegarde - whom Liberace was pleased to call "the most famous supper-club performer who ever lived". Quaint, is it not?

This first installment in Classics' multi-volume Reinhardt series is a fine place to start your Django collection. Recorded between 1934-1935, the 23 tracks include many of first sides from the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, which Reinhardt formed with frequent cohort and violinist Stephane Grappelli. Cut for the French Ultraphone label, the material includes such top-notch QHCF sides as "I Saw Stars," "I'm Confessin'," and "Dinah." There's also a few numbers Reinhardt cut with the Michel Warlop Orchestra before teaming up with QHCF. And while JSP's Reinhardt discs often beat out many of the Classics titles for sound quality, this early offering ranks as one that stands up just fine. ~ Stephen Cook

Django Reinhardt (guitar)

1. Presentation Stomp
2. Blue Interlude
3. Tiger Rag
4. After You've Gone
5. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)
6. I Saw Stars
7. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)
8. From Now On
9. I Saw Stars
10. Black Panther Stomp
11. Okay, Toots
12. When My Ship Comes In
13. My Carolina Hideaway
14. Dinah
15. Tiger Rag
16. Oh, Lady Be Good
17. I Saw Stars
18. Hands Across The Table
19. We Were So Young
20. From You
21. Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup
22. Miss Otis Regrets
23. Waltzing With A Dream

Lester Young - 1956 In Washington D.C., vol. 5

Some time ago, in 2008, the first four volumes in this series were published at CIA. In the liner notes of the forth volume, the producer Norman Grantz wrote: " .... Lester went to Washington and worked a week at Olivia Davis's Patio Lounge, where, fortunately, he was recorded. Three albums have been released from that material and this, volume 4, is the last of it. And, like the previous three volumes, is marvelous, vintage Lester". Obviously, the fourth was not the last.

While many critics have written off Lester Young's recordings from his last years leading up to his death in 1959, this previously unissued collection of material recorded at Olivia's Patio Lounge in Washington, D.C. in December, 1956 proves that he was still very much in command. Joined by a local rhythm section consisting of pianist Bill Potts, bassist Norman Williams and drummer Jim Lucht, the tenor saxophonist is still swinging mightily and in full control of his chops. There aren't really any surprises among the selections, which draw from Young's favorite standards and a few of his most requested compositions. Trombonist Earl Swope, a sideman with Woody Herman, is an added guest on the last four selections, providing an excellent foil for Young. Potts' foresight in recording this extended gig, in spite of Young's exclusive contract with Norman Granz's Verve label, was validated when Granz eventually issued the material on his Pablo label. But even though the fourth volume was supposedly the last (according to Granz's reproduced liner notes), evidently this final collection of material was uncovered after he sold Pablo to Fantasy and it saw the light of day for the first time in 1998.
Ken Dryden

01 D.B. Blues (K. Pleasure, L. Young, C. Beaks) 5:10
02 Three Little Words (B. Kalmar, H. Ruby) 4:42
03 Pennies from Heaven (J. Burke, A. Johnston) 4:32
04 When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) (J. Goodwin, F. Fisher, L. Shay) 3:43
05 Oh, Lady Be Good (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) 7:13
06 Up 'N' Adam (L. Young) 7:48
07 Jumpin' with Symphony Sid (L. Young) 7:25
08 Lullaby of Birdland (G. Shearing, G. D. Weiss) 1:31

Lester Young (Tenor Sax)
Earl Swope (Trombone on tracks 5-8)
Bill Potts (Piano)
Norman Williams (Bass)
Jim Lucht (Drums)

Recorded live at Olivia Davis' Patio Lounge, Washington D.C., on December 1956

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dizzy Gillespie - One Night in Washington (1955)

This was recorded two years after Charlie Parker played a gig with the same band (I believe that album was posted here some time ago). Bill Potts did the original recording, the same pianist who recorded all of those Lester Young gigs in D.C.

"Charlie Parker died Saturday evening, March 12, 1955. The news was not made public for forth-eight hours - too late for Dizzy and all others at this Washington event that Sunday to pay immediate homage to the musical genius. Ave atque vale."

Dizzy Gillespie was recruited as a special guest to perform on March 13, 1955, in concert with the Orchestra (a Washington, D.C., big band), a date that was recorded by Bill Potts and not initially released until 1983 by Elektra Musician. Although there was only a brief rehearsal of Gillespie with the band prior to their performance of the trumpeter's "The Afro Suite" (which includes "Manteca" plus a trio of pieces written in collaboration with Chico O'Farrill), they provide excellent support for this extended work, which features the composer extensively. Two pieces from the vast repertoire of Count Basie, "Hobnail Boogie" and "Wild Bill's Boogie," are enjoyable, though pianist Larry Eanet suffers from an inadequate microphone setup. Ed Dimond takes over the keyboard for an explosive Latin-flavored romp through "Caravan," though Gillespie obviously steals the show. The rather reserved small group rendition of "Tin Tin Deo" is curious but still of interest. The closer is bassist Tom McKay's swinging riff tune "Up 'N' Downs," which sounds like it could have easily been a part of Basie's songbook. One oddity about the concert is that Charlie Parker had died during the previous night, but this was not known to the musicians as his passing had not yet been announced. One of the more obscure recordings by Dizzy Gillespie, One Night in Washington. - AMG

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet, scat vocal)
Al Porcino, Ed Leddy, Marky Markowitz, Bob Carey, Chas Frankhauser, Bunny Aldhizer (trumpet)
Earl Swope, Rob Swope, Dick Leith (trombone)
Mike Goldberg (alto sax) Angelo Tompros, Jim Parker, Spencer Sinatra (tenor sax) Joel Davie (baritone sax)
Larry Eanet (piano) Mert Oliver (bass) Joe Timer (drums)
Ed Dimond (piano, percussion) Tom McKay (bass)
Buddy Rowell (timbales) George Caldwell, Bovino (congas) Jack Franklin (percussion)
  1. The Afro Suite
  2. Hobnail Boogie
  3. Wild Bill's Boogie
  4. Caravan
  5. Tin Tin Deo
  6. Up 'n' Downs
Recorded March 13, 1955

Marco Pereira - Danca dos Quatro Ventos

An outstanding recording of Brasilian guitar

Marco Pereira is an internationally renowned Brazilian composer, guitarist, and university professor. His compositional work and playing -- strongly influenced by Brazilian, Latin American, and jazz music -- have been awarded in important international contests such as Spain's Concurso Andrés Segóvia in Palma de Mallorca and Concurso Francisco Tárrega in Valencia. In 1993, he won the Sharp prize for Best Popular Music Arranger for his work on Gal Costa's Gal. In the next year, he received two Sharp prizes (Best Soloist and Best Instrumental Album) for his own album Bons Encontros (a duet with pianist Cristóvão Bastos). He has also performed and recorded with many top popular Brazilian singers/composers like Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Edu Lobo, Paulinho da Viola, Gilberto Gil, and Wagner Tiso.
Pereira studied with classical guitar master Isaías Sávio while still in São Paulo. Moving to France, he presented a master's thesis about Villa-Lobos' music to the department of Musicology of the Université Musicale Internationale de Paris/Sorbonne. In the next five years while living in France, Pereira performed in Germany, the United States, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Canada, and Spain. Back in Brazil, he organized courses on violão (classical guitar) and functional harmony at the University of Brasília, and recorded two albums (Violão Popular Brasileiro Contemporâneo and Círculo das Cordas) that yielded him an invitation to perform at the Town Hall (New York) in 1988. He performed in the Brasil em Caracas festival (Venezuela) in 1995 and 1996 (the latter year with Paulo Moura). Also in 1996, he performed with success in the XXème Carrefour Mondiale de la Guitare (Martinica) with Baden Powell and Vicente Amigo. In 2000, he toured the U.S. with Ralph Towner in the International Guitar Night series. ~ Alvaro Neder, All Music Guide

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paul Gonsalves - Ellingtonia Moods & Blues

Paul Gonsalves was considered some kind of new genius of the tenor saxophone after he blew an astounding 27 choruses with Duke Ellington's Orchestra on the Duke's "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. As part of RCA's reissue series to celebrate Ellington's 100th birthday, Ellingtonia Moods & Blues brings back a 1960 date featuring Gonsalves and other Ellington soloists. Although nominally credited to Gonsalves, this, in fact, is a co-chaired date with Johnny Hodges. Hodges shares the composing, arranging and -- as always -- swinging soloing. Add the fine trumpet work of Ray Nance and the swinging trombone work of Booty Wood -- both contributing just the right blend to offset the two saxophonists -- and this makes for one potent date. The rhythm section is solid and supportive, with great playing from Jimmy Jones on piano, Al Hall on bass, and Oliver Jackson on drums. Gonsalves plays his usual breathy tenor, full of warmth and depth, caressing his notes in much the same time-honored manner as Hodges, making their solos on the Duke's "Daydream" a study in both similarities and contrasts. The set also features three seldom-heard Gonsalves tunes ("Chocataw" and "The Line-Up") and a Hodges tune ("D.A. Blues"), along with songs that Hodges co-wrote for the Ellington band, like "I'm Beginning to See the Light." This is jazz from the days when albums were recorded in one day, and that was a good thing. ~ Cub Koda

More than 30 years after his premature death, it's probably past time for a reassessment of Gonsalves' works. We were privileged to have a glimpse of the mouthpiece he used over the last few years of his life, a gnarled, snaggly thing, almost bitten through, testimony to a foreshortened lifetime of intense improvisation and an unflinching technique. Gonsalves stands in a direct line with earlier masters like Chu Berry and Don Byas, and with (once) young Turks like Frank Lowe and David Murray. It would be absurd to compare his influence with Coltrane's, but it's now clear that he was experimenting with tonalities remarkably similar to Coltrane's famous 'sheets of sound' long before Coltrane; it's also unarguably true that more people heard Gonsalves (albeit in his more straight-ahead role as an Ellington stalwart). His fabled 27 choruses on 'Diminuendo And Crescendo In Blue' at the Newport jazz Festival in 1956 can be considered the first important extended saxophone solo in modern jazz. ~ Penguin Guide

Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Ray Nance (trumpet)
Jimmy Jones (piano)
Booty Wood (trombone)
Al Hall (bass)
Oliver Jackson (drums)

1. It's Something That You Ought To Know
2. Chocataw
3. The Lineup
4. Way, Way Back
5. Daydreams
6. I'm Beginning to See The Light
7. D.A. Blues

Leroy Jenkins - Space Minds,New Worlds,Survival Of America

Recorded for a label that also issued Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beach, the awkwardly titled Space Minds, New Worlds, Survival of America represented Leroy Jenkins' first venture into a field where contemporary classical and jazz were beginning to merge, a more modern Third Stream. His quintet on the title suite includes Musica Elettronica Viva veteran Richard Teitelbaum on synthesizer, and also gives us one of trombonist George Lewis' first recorded forays into electronics. The piece uses extensive improvised passages, but both the written material and the rhythms employed are relatively distant from a jazz feel, though with Jenkins a strong blues affinity is never far beneath the surface. Much of it actually prefigures pianist Anthony Davis' work with his Episteme ensemble of a few years later, and one wonders if his experience with Jenkins was critical to his future development. The four subsequent tracks are acoustic, without Teitelbaum and with Lewis confined to trombone. They range through a similarly semi-classical landscape with a bit of jazzy emphasis on pieces like "Kick Back Stomp." But the true highlight of the session is the final song, "Through the Ages Jehovah," an utterly gorgeous melody that's reiterated by the violin and trombone over sumptuous accompaniment by Davis and Cyrille. It's one of those melodies that could go on forever; its brevity is its only fault. Space Minds... is a fine album, one of Jenkins' best outside of the Revolutionary Ensemble, and an excellent introduction to his world. ~ Brian Olewnick

Leroy Jenkins (violin)
George Lewis (trombone)
Richard Teitelbaum (synthesizers)
Anthony Davis (piano)
Andrew Cyrille (percussion)

1. Space Minds, New Worlds, Survival Of America
2. Dancing On A Melody
3. The Clowns
4. Kick Back Stomp
5. Through The Ages Of Jehovah

David Murray - Live At The Lower Manhattan Ocean Club Volumes 1 & 2

Nice raw material from Murray's shaggy early days. The set's a batch of quartet tracks -- with Lester Bowie, Fred Hopkins, and Phil Wilson joining Murray's tenor and soprano lead. Recorded at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club, and packaged with some nice notes on the scene by Stanley Crouch.

Originally issued on two LPs and reissued in 1991 on a single disc by India Navigation, this live recording captures David Murray in his early twenties, just beginning to make a name for himself on the New York scene. He's already playing with an all-star quartet of trumpeter Lester Bowie, bassist Fred Hopkins, and drummer Phillip Wilson, all of whom, unfortunately, have since passed away. At this stage in his career, there was far more of Albert Ayler's influence in his playing than Ben Webster's, which would subsequently become dominant. Here, the session is languid and loose, the quartet feeling comfortable with bluesy thematic material, taking their time to investigate and comment on it in their solos. Bowie, in fact, is often the strongest voice, playing less in the avant style he was known for with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and more clearly looking forward to his later bands like Brass Fantasy. Unlike later in his career, Murray tends to explore the lower ranges of his tenor rather than immediately vaulting into the higher register. On the other hand, he had yet to inject the gripping passion into his solos that would become almost routine later on. Additionally, the compositions performed here lack the deep melodicism and groove of many of his later works, allowing the band, stellar though it may be, a few too many opportunities for noodling around (particularly during the lengthy "For Walter Norris"). The disc is worth hearing for Murray aficionados interested in checking out some of his earliest works, but it doesn't compare to many of the albums he would issue in the ensuing ten or 15 years. ~ Brian Olewnick

David Murray (soprano and tenor sax)
Lester Bowie (trumpet)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Phillip Wilson (drums)

1. Nevada's Theme
2. Bechet's Bounce
3. Obe
4. Let The Music Take You
5. For Walter Norris
6. Santa Barbara And Crenshaw Folies

Lower Manhattan Ocean Club, New York: December 1977

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Some (translated) reviews

While tracking down some discographical information, I came across pages entirely in Japanese - and Google offers translations. Exquisite Corpse translations. Here's a few - please share your favorites in comments.

  • Wes Montgomery with a guitar, Sam Jones, and based on three people playing. A melancholy tone invites minerals.
  • Even sober people doing? But fun and happy but subdued. Like that.
  • Brilliance and brownies, who was in Miles Dandyism and combines. Still, Morgan, are you cool it too well.
  • Dorham is someone who spins yarn of glass trumpet.
  • What is me! not heard recently from other Naa properly. Basically I like to live.
  • The sound of Hendrix and stain confirmed. Moreover, the exquisite smoothness of sound, Rui pambyism. Say no.

I could go on all night. Maybe I will.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Don Byas - 1947-1951 (Chronological 1239)

Art Simmons and Bernard Peiffer, t'boot.

The great tenor-saxophonist Don Byas moved permanently to Europe in 1946 and was largely forgotten in the U.S. However he played steadily during his decades overseas and recorded fairly frequently, even if most of the records were quite obscure in the United States. This CD is full of rarities. Byas is heard in Spain with the commercial dance band of Bernard Hilda, playing with some more jazz-oriented combos of Spaniards, and back in France during 1949-51 where his sidemen include pianists Bernard Peiffer, Art Simmons, and trumpeter Guy Longnon. The music on these dates is advanced swing that looks towards bop. Byas really tears apart some of the chord changes when he's not caressing the melodies with his huge tone, playing some miraculous ideas on "Stardust." ~ Scott Yanow

Don Byas (tenor sax)
Art Simmons (piano)
Bernard Peiffer (piano)
Josep Ballester (guitar)
Lots of Spanish fellows

1. Quisiera Saber... (I Love You For Sentimental Reasons)
2. Infiniment
3. Siempre, Siempre
4. Sonar En Ti
5. Janine
6. Byas Jump (Walking Around)
7. Chicago Boogie
8. The Man I Love
9. To Each His Own
10. Riffin' And Jivin'
11. Manana Sera Tarde (I Can't Get Up The Nerve To Kiss You)
12. La Pena De Perder (Loser's Weepers)
13. All The Things You Are
14. All The Things You Are (Slower Version)
15. Yesterdays
16. Summertime
17. Talk Of The Town
18. Stardust
19. A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody
20. Old Man River
21. Flamingo
22. Just One Of Those Things
23. Mean To Me
24. Live And Love Tonite

LKJ in Dub | Volumes 1,2 & 3

Following on from Rab's post in December, it sparked my memory and I went digging into the boxes and pulled out Volumes 1 & 2 of LKJ in Dub - to my shame, I also found Volume 3 still in it's wrapper, unplayed.
I've been enjoying myself revisiting them.
Volume 1 was issued on Mango/Island Records and Volumes 2 & 3 are on Linton Kwesi Johnson's own label lkjrecords.

Teddy Wilson - Central Avenue Blues (The Complete All-Star Sextette & V-Disc Session)

The other day I stumbled on this CD. It is OOP now, I think "Vintage Jazz Classics" isn't into business any more. I also hope this wasn't presented here before.

Teddy Wilson was the definitive swing pianist, an influential stylist still best known for his association with Benny Goodman; however, Wilson had a long career after his years with Goodman. This CD mostly features him with his brilliant sextet of 1944-1945 which also includes trumpeter Charlie Shavers and vibraphonist Red Norvo playing concise versions of swing standards. Much of this music had previously been issued but never as complete as on this worthy set. Also here are three Wilson performances from a V-Disc session that features trumpeter Joe Thomas and clarinetist Edmund Hall and two other numbers in which the pianist is backed by a radio orchestra. ~ Scott Yanow

Track list:
1. How High the Moon, Pt. 1 (Hamilton, Lewis) 4:12
2. Russian Lullaby (Berlin) 4:33
3. Russian Lullaby (Berlin) 4:37
4. After You've Gone (Creamer, Layton) 2:45
5. How High the Moon, Pt. 2 (Hamilton, Lewis) 3:14
6. I Surrender, Dear (Barris, Clifford) 2:54
7. Stompin' at the Savoy (Goodman, Razaf, Sampson, Webb) 2:22
8. Whispering (Coburn, Fisher, Rose) 2:05
9. I Know That You Know (Caldwell, Youmans) 1:49
10. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You) (Daugherty, Neiburg, Reynolds) 2:47
11. Rose Room (Hickman, Williams, Williams) 2:15
12. Body and Soul (Eyton, Green, Heyman, Sour) 2:47
13. China Boy (Boutelje, Winfree) 2:09
14. Talk of the Town (Hynde, Livingston, Neiburg) 3:15
15. The Sheik of Araby (Smith, Snyder, Wheeler) 2:26
16. Dinah (Akst, Lewis, Young) 2:47
17. Undecided (Robin, Shavers) 2:23
18. Speculation (Norvo, Wilson) 3:05
19. Sweet Georgia Brown (Bernie, Casey, Pinkard) 2:28
20. Flying Home (Goodman, Hampton, Robin, Robin) 2:22
21. Central Avenue Blues (Wilson) 2:38
22. Begin the Beguine (Porter) 3:15
23. The Sheik of Araby (Smith, Snyder, Wheeler) 2:32
24. I Want to Be Happy (Caesar, Youmans) 1:36

Monday, January 18, 2010

Devorah Day - Light Of Day

It's not a big secret that I'm no fan of what are (pretentiously) known as vocalists, but I do appreciate those who use voice as an instrument . Witness my late-to-develop appreciation of Billie Holiday among select others. But this young woman definitely uses her voice in an instrumental way, and even more interestingly, she is a practitioner of what we around here call, under duress, free jazz. I'm still getting familiar with this album, and I don't yet know if it will enter the ranks of old favorites, but I'll tell you this; I'm definitely going to be in the audience when and if this woman makes a live appearance hereabouts.

"Trying to predict Day's moves is as hard as guarding Michael Jordan's drive to the basket. Just when you think you have her covered, she goes someplace you never dreamed. When she reached the top of her range, I wondered where she'd go next. She dropped three octaves and sang a bass note that made me jump out of my seat. I knew right away I wanted to work with her. She made me think of Eric Dolphy." ~ Marion Brown

Light of Day is an unusual CD, featuring a rare appearance by the great saxophonist Marion Brown. Although vocalist Devorah Day has been around the New York music scene for some years, this 1999 session is her first, and her voice is a revelation. In Brown's liner notes he refers to Day's vocal gymnastics, and the description is apt. Day's voice has tremendous range, from great delicacy to "a bass note that made me jump out of my seat," as Brown puts it. Day has a wide array of colors at her disposal, but her choices are always judicious, and as a result the songs never lose their melodic pull.

The music has a spare, soulful mood that intoxicates the listener. Its feeling is created in part by the unusual instrumentation: in addition to Day's vocals, there's Brown on alto sax, Booker T and Jorge Sylvester on both tenor and altos, and bassist David Colding. The lack of piano and drums combined with the horns' low tones creates a great deal of space, but although the music is slow and spacious it is never tentative. And it's a pleasure to hear Brown: after a long, illustrious career, his playing on this session taps the essence of his talent, his pure tones coming straight from the heart.

Light of Day draws from a variety of sources: Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi," Jorge Sylvester's "Lila," three originals by Day and the highlight, the standard "Lover Man." The song starts with Day singing several verses a capella; the listener is captivated by her emotional authenticity, and curious what she'll do next. The horn playing is deep and immediate, and overall it's a lovely update on a classic. Also notable is her fresh take on "Dindi," and the original "Freejam"; she's joined on the latter by Kid Lucky, a human beat box who adds a modern element that never detracts from the emotional consistency.

Abaton Book Company is a unique label that has an ear for the unusual combined with a deep commitment to its artists. It has a particular appreciation for female vocalists who stretch boundaries, so Day is a natural addition to the roster. The material came to the label via Bernard Stollman, founder of the legendary label ESP-Disk; Abaton brought in Elliott Sharp to do the remastering, adding a further layer of excellence. ~ Florence Wetzel

Devorah Day (vocal)
Marion Brown (alto sax)
Jorge Sylvester (alto and tenor sax)
Booker T (alto and tenor sax)
David Colding (bass)
Kid Lucky (vocal)

1. Lila
2. Come Closer
3. Our Bit Of Piddling
4. Lover Man
5. Dindi
6. FreeJam

Howard Alden - My Shining Hour (2001)

Howard Alden follows a line of jazz guitar players that include Carl Kress, Dick McDonough, George Van Eps and Bucky Pizzarelli.

With all of the recording activity by guitarist Howard Alden in the dozen or so years prior to the 2002 release of My Shining Hour, it is hard to believe that this is his first unaccompanied date. Alternating between electric and acoustic archtop seven-string guitars, Alden delivers one masterful performance after another. His brilliant technique is showcased in a dazzling take of "My Shining Hour" (which begins with a very subtle introduction), while his lyricism carries Duke Ellington's gorgeous ballad "All Too Soon." Alden, who taught actor Sean Penn to play jazz guitar for his role in Woody Allen's film Sweet and Lowdown, plays two miniatures written by Dick Hyman for its soundtrack; unfortunately, the intricate ballad "Unfaithful Woman" made only a fleeting appearance and the sparkling "E is for Emment" wasn't used at all, so Alden makes up for Allen's oversight. The inclusion of "I Wrote It for Jo," a piece by the late George Van Eps, shouldn't be any surprise to Alden's fans, who are well aware of Van Eps' pioneering work on the seven-string guitar, as well as recording four CDs with Alden. The guitarist also delves into the bossa nova classic "The Girl From Ipanema," Mal Waldron's bittersweet ballad "Soul Eyes," and Billy Strayhorn's very emotional "Blood Count" with a freshness that makes it sound as if one is hearing each piece for the first time. Howard Alden will have many shining hours ahead of him in the studio and on-stage, but this memorable CD should serve as an important landmark in his already very impressive career. - Ken Dryden

Howard Alden (solo guitar)
  1. My Shining Hour
  2. All Too Soon
  3. Sweet Substitute
  4. Unfaithful Woman
  5. E Is for Emment
  6. Blood Count
  7. I Wrote It for Jo
  8. Girl from Ipanema
  9. Isn't It a Pity?
  10. Gone With the Wind
  11. Soul Eyes
  12. Chega de Saudade
  13. Crazy She Calls Me

Al Haig & Stan Getz - 1949-50 Prezervation

These 12 songs were recorded in four different sessions. The only common element is the presence of Al Haig at the piano. It is presented as "Stan Getz with Al Haig", but really the title should have been "Al Haig with Stan Getz".
Originally, the sextet songs were published by label HL on 78 rpm format under Haig's name. Later, Prestige adquired the rights of the recordings and published them, in the 60s, under Getz name (very much famous at that time). Getz only appears in the first 8 songs. In two of the songs, you can hear Blossom Dearie and guitarrist Jimmy Raney singing.

01 Prezervation (Stan Getz) (2:40
02 Pinch Bottle (Al Haig) 3:00
03 Earless Engineering (Al Haig) 2:49
04 Be Still, TV (Jimmy Raney) 3:04
05 Short P, Not LP (Jimmy Raney) 3:16
06 Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael, Mitchell Parish) 2:39
07 Goodnight My Love (Mack Gordon, Harry Revel) 2:37
08 Intoit (Stan Getz) 3:19
09 Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away) (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin, G. Kahn) 2:34
10 Stars Fell on Alabama (Mitchell Parish, Frank Perkins) 3:30
11 Stairway to the Stars (M. Parish, F. Signorelli, M. Malneck) 3:26
12 Opus Caprice (Al Haig) 2:18

Al Haig (piano)
Stan Getz (tenor saxophone) (tracks 1-8)
Kai Winding (trombone) (tracks 2-5)
Jimmy Raney (guitar) (vocals on 4-5)
Tommy Potter (bass) (tracks 2-12)
Gene Ramey (bass) (track 1)
Roy Haynes (drums) (tracks 2-12)
Stan Levey (drums) (track 1)
Blossom Dearie (vocals on 4-5)
Junior Parker (vocals on 6-7)

Recorded in New York, between June 21, 1949 and February 27, 1950
track 1 on June 21, 1949
tracks 2-5 on July 28, 1949
tracks 6-8 on January 6, 1950
tracks 9-12 on February 27, 1950

Sunday, January 17, 2010

BN LP 5038 | A Night At Birdland With Art Blakey Quintet, Volume 2

From the liner notes;

"BLP 5037 brings a new version of Split Kick, which Horace Silver first wrote and recorded when he was with Stan Getz, as well as a combo version of his Quicksilver, which he made as a piano solo on [BLP] 5018. Once in a while features a lyrical flight of fancy by Brownie, who at this tempo engages in everything from long, flowing phrases to a flurry of 32nd notes. Listen for the unusual triplet-account in one passage of the accompaniment."

You can see from the listing at JazzDisco that there were at least 5 Sets, so getting only 9 tracks over 3 records does not really do it justice. I think that the 10" format was too restrictive for this live performance, BLP 1521 & 1522 (10 tracks between them) start to let you hear what you were missing, but the later CD re-issues really hit the spot (for me at least), perhaps not in the mix, but in the quantity - the RVG edition is a good example, it is remixed for pseudo stereo, smoothed and the higher frequency are pushed up in the mix - making it a much 'brighter ' presentation.

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

Flip Phillips - Swing Is The Thing

Amazingly enough, this is 85-year-old Flip Phillips' first major-label recording as a leader, as well as one of the few albums he's ever released as a leader. You'd have to say that the old man still has plenty of wind in him, because this is a blowing session from start to finish, especially on tracks like "The Mark of Zorro" (versions of which open and close the album), "Where or When," and "Flip the Whip," when Phillips is joined by one or both of two fellow tenor men, James Carter and Joe Lovano. The rest of the time, he sticks with a rhythm section consisting of Howard Alden, Benny Green, Christian McBride, and Kenny Washington, though Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tune" is a duet with bassist McBride and "This Is All I Ask" pairs him with guitarist Alden. Alden especially also gets plenty of solo time in on what are really group performances. But that takes nothing away from the spry leader, who can roar on such numbers as the title tune and whisper with a husky tone on slow burners like "For All We Know." His playing is an inspiration. ~ William Ruhlmann

The swing craze may have faded, but the authentic heart of the music will never die. In the hands of 85-year-old Flip Phillips, the spirit and sound of the original swing era are as alive and true as he. Whether on his own compositions like the flying intro/outro "The Mark of Zorro" or the rythmic and subdued central title track or on Rodgers and Hart’s "Where or When" or Duke’s "In a Mellow Tone," Phillips' sax is warm and friendly, making each song a story you want to listen to as much as you want to move to. Polishing Phillips' burnished brass are notable cohorts like Joe Lovano and James Carter. The rhythm section of Christian McBride and Kenny Washington make their multi-generational presence felt with little gap and appropraite subtlety. Guitarist/co-composer Howard Laden and pianist Benny Green chime in when appropriate and offer some impressive lead breaks as well.

Green’s opening snippet of "Baby Bumblebee," for example, cracks "Flip the Whip" to jovial life. From the building jitterbug snap of "Exactly Like Us" to the noir-y, breathy plod of "Susan’s Dream," this veteran of Goodman, Norvo, Herman and Granz keeps pace with his latest fellow performers, some of whom are over 50 years his junior, in an array of original sets and cherished covers. Even his occasional slurs and squeals seem the planned product of an experienced master more than the misgivings of age. Leading the way and keeping the star-studded conglomerate in a tight and snappy line, Phillips shows once again what has kept him swinging all these years. ~ All About Jazz

Flip Phillips (tenor sax)
James Carter (tenor sax)
Joe Lovano (tenor sax)
Benny Green (piano)
Howard Alden (guitar)
Christian McBride (bass)
Kenny Washington (drums)

1. The Mark Of Zorro
2. I Hadn't Anyone Till You
3. Everything I Have Is Yours
4. Where Or When
5. In A Mellow Tone
6. Exactly Like Us
7. Music Maestro Please
8. Swing Is The Thing
9. For All We Know
10. Flip The Whip
11. Susan's Dream
12. This Is All I Ask
13. Grand Rose
14. The Mark Of Zorro

New York: October 12-13, 1999

Marty Ehrlich's Traveller's Tales - Malinke's Dance

After a seven-year recording hiatus, Ehrlich's Travelers Tale quartet revives the spirit of that band with new material and a couple of older faves. Fellow saxophonist Tony Malaby, electric bass guitarist Jerome Harris, and drummer Bobby Previte are in the fold for these highlights of a four-day club date at the Knitting Factory/NYC. Except for the Julius Hemphill post-bop cartoonish, off-kilter harmonic line "Pigskin" with Harris's two-note bass and Bob Dylan's pop ballad alto feature for the leader "Tears of Rage," this is a program of Ehrlich's original, modern creative music. A boppish paeon to Ornette Coleman "Rhymes" kicks off the date, with the two saxes separate and equal. "Story" lines from the soprano (Ehrlich)/tenor (Malaby) front lines with an ostinato bass groove weave through the intricate title track for Malinke Elliott, spaced alto and soprano unison lines swim in funky or swinging marinade during a recapitulation of "North Star," while Ehrlich's signature pungent alto leads Malaby's agreeable tenor in the free, open terrain, traded extended lines of "Line on Love." Based on the changes of "I Remember You" is "Bright Remembered," a solo alto line building with bass, then drums popping and swinging on snare as Malaby decides to go for it as well. Ehrlich's most memorable writing is heard on "The Cry Of," as churning hand drums with ostinato bass in measures of repeated five's and four's extend an invitation to Ehrlich's flute and Malaby's tenor in a mysterious Middle Eastern feel, a rather calmed swirling dervish. The familiar but modified "Willy Whippoorwill" tacks on "Steals a Bow," merging from visceral funk to free bridge squawking, a 6/8 counterpoint section, 4/4 unison, and a reggae feel. Ehrlich continues to assert himself as a premier purveyor of current-day jazz, and this is another clear example of his high status in this modern age. Recommended. --Michael G. Santos, All Music Guide

1 Rhymes Ehrlich 8:41
2 The Cry of... Ehrlich 9:51
3 Malinke's Dance Ehrlich 8:19
4 Line on Love Ehrlich 7:41
5 Pigskin Hemphill 6:50
6 Tears of Rage Dylan, Manuel 8:10
7 North Star Ehrlich 4:20
8 Bright Remembered Ehrlich 9:19
9 Willy Whippoorwill Steals a Bow Ehrlich 5:51

Marty Ehrlich flute, soprano and alto saxophone
Jerome Harris bass
Tony Malaby soprano and tenor saxophone
Bobby Previte drums

Recorded December 9-12, 1999
2000 Omnitone 12003

Bennie Wallace - Big Jim's Tango (1982)

Here's an early Bennie Wallace recording that's now hard to find. In a trio format with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, Bennie cuts loose on 4 originals, including the marvelous "Big Jim Does the Tango for You," and Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." The passionate playing is given poignancy by Wallace's sharp-edged attack and Dave Hollands big bad bass lays down a rock solid foundation. Of course, the beat is sustained by Elvin Jones, to whose list of accolades I could add nothing new. While I'm not the biggest fan of saxophone trios, Big Jim is just a treat from beginning to end.

Patrick Williams - Elevation (2006)

Patrick Williams composed, arranged and conducted the music on this CD performed by the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra & Big Band with guest soloists Eddie Daniels and Tom Scott.

As the title suggests, "Tom & Eddie" features Tom Scott on tenor sax and Eddie Daniels on clarinet with the big band. Williams composed "A Concerto in Swing" in 2000 for Eddie Daniels' virtuostic clarinet backed by the big band - an 18-minute tour de force in three movements. "Romances" is the only piece with full symphony orchestra and the soloist is Tom Scott on alto sax.

For what it's worth, the album was nominated for two Grammys: "Tom & Eddie" for instrumental arrangement and "A Concerto in Swing" for instrumental composition.

Patrick Williams (composer, conductor)
Eddie Daniels (clarinet)
Tom Scott (tenor sax, alto sax)
The Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra & Big Band

  1. Tom & Eddie
  2. A Concerto in Swing
  3. Romances

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Billy ver Planck - Dancing Jazz

Oooooooooooooooooooooooh, I'm so disappointed!
I picked this up expecting - as anybody would - that it would be a CD from Mr. Liquid Fire himself: Luigi. Instead, it's a bunch of duffers like Hal McKusick, Eddie Costa, Donald Byrd. Come the Revolution ....

Arranger Billy Ver Planck on six of the seven selections on this Savoy CD reissue, contributed charts for a nonet that consists of altoist Phil Woods (the star soloist), tenorman Buzzy Brauner, baritonist Gene Allen, trombonist Frank Rehak, trumpeters Joe Wilder and Bernie Glow, Eddie Costa (doubling on vibes and piano), bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Bobby Donaldson. The music is swinging straightahead bop and Ver Planck's charts make the group sound twice as large; a medium-tempo rendition of "Embraceable You" is a highlight. On the remaining track, "Make Up Your Mind," the personnel of the nonet is almost completely different and the song features trumpeter Donald Byrd. The packaging of this reissue from Japanese Denon is shoddy (Ver Planck's name is misspelled nine times on the back cover and there are several other mistakes) but the formerly rare music is well worth picking up anyway. ~ Scott Yanow

Billy Ver Planck (arranger)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
Frank Rehak (trombone)
Hal McKusick (alto sax, bass clarinet)
Phil Woods (alto sax)
Bobby Jaspar (tenor sax, flute)
Eddie Costa (piano, vibes)
George Duvivier (bass)
Bobby Donaldson (drums)

1. Make up Your Mind
2. Summer Evening
3. On Top of Old Mountie
4. I'll Keep Loving You
5. Day by Day
6. Oh Gee Oh Me Oh Me
7. Embraceable You

Cab Calloway - Chronological - 1940

With such soloists as trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, Chu Berry on tenor and trombonist Tyree Glenn, along with a rhythm section that includes bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Cozy Cole, this was a particularly strong edition of the Cab Calloway Orchestra. There are six instrumentals among the 22 selections on this Classics CD (the ninth of 12 Calloway Complete sets) including Berry's famous version of "Ghost of a Chance" and a spot for Gillespie on "Bye Bye Blues," but nearly every performance has its interesting solos; most of the ones with short spots for Gillespie have rarely been reissued. Cab Calloway, who as usual is the main star, is in spirited form. The other highlights include "Hi-De-Ho Serenade," "Fifteen Minute Intermission," "Papa's in Bed with His Britches On" and "Are You Hep to the Jive?" It's recommended, as are all of the CD's in this important series.
Dizzy Gillespie, Chu Berry, Tyree Glenn, Keg Johnson, Jerry Blake, Hilton Jefferson, Milt Hinton, Cozy Cole.....
1. Paradiddle
2. Boog It
3. Calling All Bars
4. Do I Care, No No
5. The Lone Arranger
6. Feelin' Tip Top
7. Hard Times
8. Hi-De Ho Serenade
9. Who's Yehoodi?
10. Fifteen Minute Intermission
11. Rhapsody In Rhumba
12. Come On With The "Come On"
13. (I Don't Stand) A Ghost Of A Chance (With You)
14. Bye Bye Blues
15. Papa's In Bed With His Britches On
16. Silly Old Moon
17. Boo-Wah boo-Wah
18. Sunset
19. You Eta Cansa
20. Cupid's Nightmare
21. Levee Lullabye
22. Are You Hep To The Jive?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Eddie Condon - Town Hall Concerts, Vol. 2

Volume 8 is in the archives.

This two-CD set has four complete radio shows featuring Eddie Condon's all-star groups during their legendary series of Town Hall concerts. Despite having large ensembles of classic players, Condon was able to feature virtually everyone on every show, still leaving room for ensemble pieces and interplay between the unique musicians. In addition, the verbal commentary of Condon and announcer Fred Robbins is informative and witty (even if they picked on Pee Wee Russell a bit too much). Among the musicians heard on the well-recorded set (which like the other volumes in this extensive series is highly recommended to fans of Chicago jazz) include trumpeters Bobby Hackett, Hot Lips Page, Max Kaminsky, Jonah Jones and Billy Butterfield, trombonists Bill Harris and Benny Morton, clarinetists Pee Wee Russell, Joe Marsala and Edmond Hall, baritonist Ernie Caceres and pianists James P. Johnson, Willie "The Lion" Smith and Gene Schroeder. ~ Scott Yanow

Eddie Condon (Guitar)
Gene Krupa (Drums)
Hot Lips Page (Trumpet)
Willie "The Lion" Smith (Piano)
Bobby Hackett (Cornet)
Edmond Hall (Clarinet)
Pee Wee Russell (Clarinet)
Bill Harris (Trombone)
James P. Johnson (Piano)
Max Kaminsky (Trumpet)
Benny Morton (Trombone)

1. Concert No. 5/The Joint Is Jumpin' - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Harris, Johnson, Page, Hot Lips Page, Russell
2. Squeeze Me - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Harris, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
3. Willow Tree - Eddie Condon, James P. Johnson
4. Candied Sweets - Eddie Condon, James P. Johnson
5. I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby - Eddie Condon, James P. Johnson
6. Ain't Misbehavin' - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Harris, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
7. Honeysuckle Rose - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Harris, Page, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
8. If It Ain't Love - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Harris, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
9. Buy Bonds Blues: Ensemble Blues; Old Miss Blues - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Harris, Johnson, Page, Hot Lips Page, Russell
10. Concert No. 6/I Found a New Baby - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Haggart, Makinsky, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
11. What Is There to Say? - Eddie Condon, Willie "The Lion" Smith
12. St. Louis Blues - Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Smith
13. Chinatown, My Chinatown - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Haggart, Kaminsky, Hot Lips Page, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
14. Cherry - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Haggart, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
15. Jazz Me Blues - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Bob Haggart, Max Kaminsky, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
16. Keepin' Out of Mischief Now - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Haggart, Kaminsky, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
17. Ensemble Blues - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Kaminsky, Page, Hot Lips Page, , Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder
18. Concert No. 7/The Lady's in Love With You - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Gene Krupa, Morton, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Weiss
19. China Boy - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Kaminsky, Gene Krupa, Morton, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Weiss
20. Baby, Won't You Please Come Home? - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Jones, Jonah Jones, Gene Krupa, Morton, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Weiss
21. Clarinet Chase - Ernie Caceres, Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Kaminsky, Gene Krupa, Joe Marsala, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Weiss
22. Pennies from Heaven - Caceres, Eddie Condon, , Bobby Hackett, Kaminsky, Gene Krupa, Morton, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Weiss
23. Ensemble Blues: Carnegie Leap - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Jones, Kaminsky, Gene Krupa, Marsala, Morton, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Weiss
24. Concert No. 8/Struttin' With Some Barbecue - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Morton, Luis Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Williams
25. You Can Depend on Me - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Jones, Jonah Jones, Morton, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Williams
26. High Society - Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Edmond Hall, Morton, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Williams
27. Royal Garden Blues - Butterfield, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Edmond Hall, Morton, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Williams
28. Singin' the Blues (Till My Daddy Comes Home) - Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Morton, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Williams
29. Blues Ensemble - Butterfield, Caceres, Eddie Condon, Joe Grauso, Bobby Hackett, Hall, Jones, Morton, Russell, Schroeder, Gene Schroeder, Williams

Beryl Booker - 1953-1954 (Chronological 1442)

Volume two in the complete recordings of Beryl Booker as presented in the Classics Chronological Series documents the adventures of the Beryl Booker Trio with eight titles recorded for Discovery Records in Los Angeles on October 14, 1953, material from two Vogue sessions that took place in Paris during February 1954, and six selections recorded for Cadence in New York during the summer of 1954. Booker's approach to the piano recalls her contemporary Erroll Garner; like him, she was a brilliant autodidact who didn't read music. Garner and Booker exist in the same swing-to-bop-to-cool constellation with Herman Chittison, Johnny Guarnieri, Mary Lou Williams, Bud Powell, Dodo Marmarosa, Al Haig, and Ahmad Jamal. Teamed with bassist Bonnie Wetzel and drummer Elaine Leighton, Booker handled jazz and pop standards with dazzling dexterity, humor, warmth and soul. When she sang she sounded more than a little like Dinah Washington, for whom she served as accompanist at the beginning and the end of the decade; on "One for My Baby" the similarity is uncanny. Be sure and cop a listen on the two instrumental selections recorded at the second Parisian Vogue date with tenor saxophonist Don Byas. Thanks to the increasingly popular LP format, each Booker/Byas performance is a little under five minutes in duration, allowing for longer solos and a more relaxed mood than was usually possible under 78 rpm three-minute constraints. Users are warned that "Beryl Booker's Byased Blues" and "Makin' Whoopee" will immediately seep into your bones and groove you out before you realize what has happened. Those two tracks are worth double the price of admission all by themselves. ~ arwulf arwulf

Beryl Booker (piano)
Bonnie Wetzel (bass)
Elaine Leighton (drums)
Don Byas (tenor sax)

1. Thou Swell
2. Ebony
3. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
4. That Old Gang Of Mine
5. Symphony
6. Booker T.
7. Old Piano Plays The Blues
8. One For My Baby
9. Paris Medley: April In Paris/Paris In The Spring/The Last Time I Saw Pa
10. Cheek To Cheek
11. Makin' Whoopee
12. I Should Care
13. Beryl Booker's Byased Blues
14. Tenderly
15. Body And Soul
16. Night And Day
17. My Funny Valentine
18. My Ideal
19. I Don't Know Why

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ray Nance - Body And Soul

Originally on Solid State, this session was produced by Duke Pearson.

This is a very unusual date by Ray Nance, as he sticks exclusively to violin with an occasional vocal. Accompanied by either Jaki Byard or Roland Hanna on piano, the shifting supporting cast also includes guitarists Tiny Grimes and Tommy Lucas, and tenor saxophonist Brew Moore. Nance swings like mad through "Get Happy" with some hot licks from Grimes and Lucas, and delivers a poignant "Body and Soul" in a duet with Hanna. Some of the pop tunes from the 1960s fare less well, especially the rather monotonous "Sunny" and an uninspired arrangement of the gospel tune "Oh Happy Day." The two tracks from the Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn songbook are the album's highlights. "Guitar Amour" (which strangely omitted guitar in the many renditions of it by Ellington) has a gypsy flavor. But the masterpiece of this long unavailable LP is Nance's dirge-like duet with Hanna of "Take the 'A' Train" (which Nance had earlier performed at Strayhorn's memorial service); it is difficult not to be moved by this emotional arrangement, which contrasts starkly with typical recordings of it. ~ Ken Dryden

Ray Nance (vocals, violin)
Brew Moore (tenor sax)
Jaki Byard (piano)
Tommy Lucas (guitar)
Roland Hanna (piano, organ)
Tiny Grimes (guitar)
Carl Pruitt (bass)
Steve Little (drums)

1. Take The "A" Train
2. Get Happy
3. Sunny
4. Body And Soul
5. Mimi
6. Hard Day's Night
7. Oh Happy Day
8. Stardust
9. She's Funny That Way
10. Jolie Janice
11. Guitar Amour
12. Tranquility

Dave Burrell - After Love

I really like this.

First released on America Records in France, After Love very much repeats the formula of [Echo], in that the first piece is fierce and intense, while the second majors rather on atmospherics. The instrumentation is fascinating: there is a remarkable interplay between piano, strings, and Roscoe Mitchell's typically focused and provocative reeds. Moye and Gauthierdon't appear together, which is an advntage acoustically. The doubling of instruments was probably a bit too subtle for 1970 studio techniques and there are passages on the first and noisier part of the title-track wwhere the registration is muddied. Burrell's piano rarely comes through strongly. A more spacious arrangement suits the music well. 'My March' is probably more recognizable as a Burrell idea from the point of view of his later, rootsier work, and it's a significant pointer to the future here, even as the main item sounds timelocked. This is a valuable reissue from an important period in the American improvisation diaspora. ~ Penguin Guide

Pianist and composer Dave Burrell's After Love was the seventh release on the French America Records imprint, a label dedicated to recording the works of American expatriates in Europe. A vanguard label from the outset, it documented the work of players like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy, and many others. After Love is made up of the title track -- a long 30-minute-composition in two parts -- and "March." The band is a compelling and provocative one. While Roscoe Mitchell is featured on reeds, there are two bass players -- Ron Miller (who also plays mandolin) and Michel Gladieux. Alan Silva, normally a bassist, plays cello, (electric and acoustic) and violin. Don Moye and Bertrand Gauthier make separate appearances on drums. What is immediately striking is the lack of the piano's sonic presence on the session. It's here everywhere, but Burrell is going for something else on "After Love," and that is textural and harmonic interaction of the various stringed instruments as they encounter and dialogue with each other. The drums are almost a constant thrumming beat. Incessant, varying little in dynamic and not at all in tempo throughout part one's nearly 22 minutes. Mitchell interacts with the strings as does Burrell, but the key improvisational and chromatic interplay is elsewhere. It's a breathtaking piece. Part two is moodier, introduced by Burrell and Mitchell with Silva's bowed droning cello offering the point of engagement. This section crawls and creeps to a softly whispered conclusion. "My March" is almost a mirror image of the title track. Rhythm doesn't even enter into the piece until nearly halfway through its 22 minutes. The slow tonal unraveling of the first half gives way to a an easy march, adorned by nearly breezy flutes, popping basslines, and spacious piano interludes. This is a fine offering showcasing where elements of formal 20th century composition meet the new jazz head-on and become something else altogether. ~ Thom Jurek

Dave Burrell (piano)
Roscoe Mitchell (reeds)
Alan Silva (cello, violin)
Ron Miller (bass, mandolin)
Michel Gladieux (bass)
Bertrand Gauthier (drums)
Don Moye (drums)

1. After Love (Part 1 "Questions And Answers")
2. After Love
3. My March

Cab Calloway and the Missourians (1929-1930)

It is unfortunate that Cab Calloway gets top billing here with his name in larger font as I bought this one for the other band on it. It was actually Rab's Count Basie post a week or so ago that reminded me I had this. Like Basie did with Bennie Moten's band, Calloway essentially took over The Missourians. The Missourians were a great late twenties band that does not get the recognition it deserves, mostly because it had a short recording life under that name. They recorded just three sessions for Victor over the course of about eight months. Soon after the last session, Calloway took the band over and the rest, as they say, is history. Many of the Missourians remained with Calloway well into the forties. The CD encompasses all fourteen known takes made by the Missourians, all mastered by the late John R. T. Davies, which I know will be a draw for some.

This English import starts off with the dozen selections recorded by The Missourians (plus two alternate takes) during 1929-30. The excellent group is heard playing a variety of instrumentals, many of which are based on "Tiger Rag." The heated soloing by trumpeters R.Q. Dickerson and Lammar Wright, trombonist De Priest Wheeler and the reeds of Andrew Brown and Walter Thomas makes one surprised that this group was commercially unsuccessful. Cab Calloway permanently took over The Missourians in 1930 and his earliest ten recordings form the second half of this CD. The Calloway performances (which directly precede his hit "Minnie the Moocher") are highlighted by "St. Louis Blues," "Nobody's Sweetheart" and a classic rendition of "St. James Infirmary" and make one know from the start why he was considered one of the most popular and exciting performers of the 1930s. ~ Scott Yanow

R. Q. Dickerson (trumpet)
Lammar Wright (trumpet)
Reuben Reeves (trumpet)
De Priest Wheeler (trombone)
George Scott (clarinet, alto saxopohone)
William Blue (clarinet, alto saxophone)
Andrew Brown (calarient, tenor saxophone)
Earres Prince (piano)
Cab Calloway (vocals)

01 Market Street Stomp
02 Ozark Mountain Blues (take -1)
03 You'll Cry For Me, But I'll Be Gone (take -1)
04 Missouri Moan
05 Ozark Mountain Blues (take -2)
06 You'll Cry For Me, But I'll Be Gone (take -2)
07 I've Got Someone
08 "400" Hop
09 Vine Street Drag
10 Scotty Blues
11 Two Hundred Squabble
12 Swingin' Dem Cats
13 Stoppin' The Traffic
14 Prohibition Blues
15 Gotta Darn Good Reason Now (For Bein' Good)
16 St. Louis Blues
17 Sweet Jennie Lee
18 Happy Feet
19 Yaller
20 The Viper's Drag
21 Is That Religion
22 Some Of These Days
23 Nobody's Sweetheart
24 St. James Infirmary

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Loren Connors & Jim O'Rourke Two Nice Catholic Boys

Loren Connors & Jim O'Rourke
Two Nice Catholic Boys

It seems only natural that Loren Connors and Jim O’Rourke should collaborate together: both have had a large influence on the American underground over the last 15 years and beyond. O’Rourke particularly has crafted a reputation for musical adventurism, taking in afiliations with, amongst others, Sonic Youth, Wilco and Werner Herzog. Connors’s reputation is rather more subdued; with a long string of obscure records to his name, he treads the same path John Fahey pioneered, delving deeper into a dark, twisted version of American blues. Part Jandek outsider experimentalism, part Ben Chasney atmospherics, Connors has created his own distinctive personal lexicon of strange, beautiful guitar playing.
Indeed, their paths have crossed before, the two releasing a record under the pseudonym Hat Hut in 1999, with O’Rourke going on to reissue Connors’s In Pittsburgh LP, as well as producing Hoffman Estates, recorded by Connors with Alan Licht. Two Nice Catholic Boys consists of three raw cuts of live material from a 1997 tour the duo undertook. The name itself hints at the complex, multi-layered nature of said recordings, essentially three extended, intense jam sessions.
All the features you’d expect of each participant is present – ethereal, off-kilter noodling juxtaposed with furious, screeching walls of noise. If that sounds off-putting it shouldn’t be; each track is crammed with detail and texture, occasionally veering from placid to panicked in a matter of minutes. It’s both deadly serious and extremely playful, even occasionally quite moving - both ‘Maybe Paris’ and ‘Most Definitely Not Koln’ breaking through a prolonged sonic boom to end with the kind of contemplative, subtle guitar playing that has marked both O’Rourke and Connors out as pioneers of their particular genre.

Clark Terry - Shades of Blues (1994)

Clark Terry and Charles Fox grew up together in St. Louis, Marcus McLaurine was Clark's regular bassist, and Al Grey showed up for the session 'cause he lived right around the corner from the Brooklyn studio.

Clark Terry at 74 teams up with the veteran wa-wa trombone of Al Grey, pianist Charles Fox and bassist Marcus McLaurine to interpret 11 blues on this highly enjoyable release. Still very much in his musical prime, fluegelhornist Terry has one of the happiest sounds in jazz and he gives a surprising amount of variety to the otherwise similar material. Terry's humorous vocal on "Whispering the Blues," his quick tradeoffs between his two horns (the fluegelhorn and a muted trumpet) on "Cool Vibes" and his interplay with Al Grey make this an easily recommended CD. - Scott Yanow
Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals)
Al Grey (trombone)
Charles Fox (piano)
Marcus McLaurine (bass)

  1. Hip Hat Blues
  2. Sluggo
  3. Salty Mama
  4. The View from Glencove
  5. Whispering the Blues
  6. Cool Vibes
  7. Greazy Blues
  8. Funky Butt
  9. Parker's Mood
  10. Hooties Blues
  11. St. Louis Blues
Recorded May 13, 1994

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Duke Ellington - Harlem

Taken from a concert in Stockholm, Sweden, this well-recorded CD mostly features trumpeters Cootie Williams and Cat Anderson, tenor-saxophonist Paul Gonsalves and altoist Johnny Hodges as the main soloists in a set with Duke Ellington's orchestra. "The Opener," "Blow by Blow" and "The Prowling Cat" have rarely been recorded and even the more familiar pieces are given new life, highlighted by a definitive rendition of "Harlem." ~ Scott Yanow

Before the band hit the stage, the Duke must've said, "Let's blow these cats out of the concert hall!" Recorded live in March 1964 in Stockholm (and never previously released), the band attacks its repertoire with an almost manic abandon. Check out the opener, entitled "The Opener": Paul Gonsalves plays a solo that sounds like Ornette Coleman, while the band plays at a tempo that would exhaust most so-called "punk rock" bands! "Blow by Blow" is another wailer, and "Caravan" becomes an ominous almost-tango. The Duke reserves elegance and restraint ("Satin Doll"--lovely but powerful)--but not by much! Was he listening to rock and roll at the time, or just drinking a lot of coffee? We may never know--just get this album, if you're an Ellington fan, or a fan of hard-swinging modern big bands.

Duke Ellington (piano)
Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet, reeds)
Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges (reeds, sax)
Russell Procope (reeds, alto sax)
Paul Gonsalves (reeds, tenor sax)
Cootie Williams (trumpet)
Cat Anderson (trumpet)
Lawrence Brown (trombone)
Sam Woodyard (drums)

1. The Opener
2. Happy Reunion
3. Blow By Blow
4. Caravan
5. Tootie For Cootie
6. Satin Doll
7. Harlem
8. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
9. All Of Me
10. The Prowling Cat

Recorded live at the Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden: March 9, 1964

Frank Wright - Uhuru Na Umoja

Uhuru Na Umoja is a fiery 1970 date with Frank Wright leading a bassless quartet with Noah Howard on alto, Bobby Few on piano, and Art Taylor on drums. The tunes (or at least the heads) were composed by Howard: Ayler-esque, simple introductory melodies that quickly blast off to the stratosphere. Wright's gruff tenor contrasts nicely with Howard's sweeter tone, which is not really less intense, just less ferocious. Taylor is really impressive on his first foray into free music from his storied hard bop background, and Few's playing is nothing short of elegant even when the rest of the band is whipping up a storm. There are a number of really pretty moments alongside all the hard blowing (like the intro to "Oriental Mood"), and "Aurora Borealis" achieves that rare combination of freedom and intensity with lyrical, spiritual beauty that's found on so many great Impulse! titles. Fans of '60s-style "energy music" should really check this out. ~ Sean Westergaard

A solitary survival, only recently reissued, and even it sees Wright playing second string to Howard, who wrote all the material and often leads in the solos. There's a full-on attack from most of these cuts, reminiscent of Few's schoolfriend Albert Ayler, and only the reissue of some of Wright's more considered work will rehabilitate him. He died in Germany, relatively ignored. ~ Penguin Guide

Frank Wright (tenor sax)
Noah Howard (alto sax)
Bobby Few (piano)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. Oriental Mood
2. Aurora Borealis
3. Grooving
4. Being
5. Pluto

Monday, January 11, 2010

Teddy Wilson - Cole Porter Classics (1977)

A rather short and ho-hum review by Yanow but it would take only four words to convince me that this CD is worth getting: Teddy Wilson Solo Piano. Along with the Porter standards, there is one Teddy Wilson composition, "Too Darn Blue".

The tasteful and lightly swinging pianist Teddy Wilson performs 11 well-known Cole Porter standards on this solo set. This generally relaxed session contains no new revelations (Wilson had solidified his swing style 40 years earlier) but should please Teddy Wilson's fans; it is always enjoyable to hear him play unaccompanied. - Scott Yanow

Teddy Wilson (piano)

  1. Get Out of Town
  2. Just One of Those Things
  3. I Get a Kick Out of You
  4. I Love You
  5. It's All Right With Me
  6. Why Should I?
  7. Love for Sale
  8. Too Darn Blue
  9. I've Got You Under My Skin
  10. Easy to Love
  11. What Is This Thing Called Love
Recorded November 3, 1977

Yusef Lateef with the Corvini-Iodice Roma Jazz Ensemble

Stefano brings us news of this rare and fine recording:

As artistic director of Metastasio Jazz, a jazz concert series held in Prato every February since 1996 at the Teatro Metastasio (very near Florence, Italy), I produced in 2002 a concert inviting Yusef Lateef to join the best Italian big band, the Corvini-Iodice Roma Jazz Ensemble and playing his music. The concert was held on February 4, 2002 in Prato, Teatro Metastasio. Lateef asked to have a rough recording of the concert on a DAT, that I gave him at the end of the night. The day after Lateef and the big band went in Rome for a second and last date. Lateef was very happy and satisfied with the music and the hosting in Prato and Rome, but as usually happens we didn't stay in touch after that experience. But he wrote many times to Claudio Corvini and Pietro Iodice, the leaders of the band, expressing the desire to play again with them. But the wish never materialized.
To our surprise, about one year after we received copies of a CD of the concert produced by Lateef by his own label. The recording was the rough edit from the DAT tape, the printing of the photos, from the Prato concert, was very poor, and the text had some misprints, including "Tea Tao Metastasio" instead of "Teatro Metastasio"; and no date of recording was there. It was February 4, 2002.
The music here is really great. It was a thrilling night and the audience, who packed the theatre, went wild: I remember many youngsters waiting for Lateef outside of the theatre asking for signatures.
I believe that the CD had virtually poor or no distribution at all, and it's a pity, because Lateef held it in great esteem. By the way, few years after the Corvini-Iodice Roma Jazz Ensemble became the Parco della Musica Jazz Orchestra, the resident big band in the wonderful Parco della Musica in Rome, working with all the greats jazz composers and solist in the world. The Prato experience paved the way.
Stefano Zenni

Sunday, January 10, 2010

BN LP 5037 | A Night At Birdland With Art Blakey Quintet, Volume 1

From the liner notes;

"BLP 5037 brings a new version of Split Kick, which Horace Silver first wrote and recorded when he was with Stan Getz, as well as a combo version of his Quicksilver, which he made as a piano solo on [BLP] 5018. Once in a while features a lyrical flight of fancy by Brownie, who at this tempo engages in everything from long, flowing phrases to a flurry of 32nd notes. Listen for the unusual triplet-account in one passage of the accompaniment."

You can see from the listing at JazzDisco that there were at least 5 Sets, so getting only 9 tracks over 3 records does not really do it justice. I think that the 10" format was too restrictive for this live performance, BLP 1521 & 1522 (10 tracks between them) start to let you hear what you were missing, but the later CD re-issues really hit the spot (for me at least), perhaps not in the mix, but in the quantity - the RVG edition is a good example, it is remixed for pseudo stereo, smoothed and the higher frequency are pushed up in the mix - making it a much 'brighter ' presentation.

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

Harry Edison Quartet - The Complete "Sweets at the Haig" 1953 Recordings

This CD, for the first time, presents all the music know to have been recorded the night Harry Edison fronted a quartet at the Haig in Los Angeles. On original LP and CD re editions, Arnold Ross's four chorus piano solo on "Indiana" had been cut in half (the song was shortened from 5:44 to 4:49), "September in the Rain" had been shortened by the editing out of two choruses one by Ross, one by Edison (from 6:32 to 4:47), while "This foolish things" had lost the second half of a solo chorus of piano (from 7:23 to 6:12).
This Fresh Sound edition puts back all the choruses and we can enjoy now to the full Harry Edison in brilliant form backet by a superlative rhythm section.

01 September In The Rain (Warren, Dubin) 6:32
02 'S Wonderful (Gershwin, Gershwin) 3:54
03 Just You, Just Me (Greer, Klages) 3:51
04 (Back Home Again In) Indiana (Hanley, MacDonald) 5:44
05 Pennies From Heaven (Johnston, Burke) 6:18
06 These Foolish Things (Strachey, Link, Marvell) 7:23
07 Tea For Two (Youmans, Caesar) 6:58

Harry 'Sweets' Edison, trumpet
Arnold Ross, piano
Joe Comfort, bass
Alvin Stoller, drums

Recorded Live at The Haig, Los Angeles, on July 1, 1953 (originally issued on Pacific Jazz label)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Leadbelly - Volume 1: 1939-1940

In early 1939 Leadbelly was involved in a fight with another man whom he allegedly stabbed 16 times with a knife. The judge saw fit to give Leadbelly a sentence of 1 year (due to the fact that in between sentencing reports Leadbelly had apprehended a bank robber and held him until the police had arrived.)

To help meet Leadbelly's legal costs, Alan Lomax arranged a session with the fledgling Musicraft label. On April 1st 1939 Leadbelly stepped into the studio and recorded material for what was to become a 5 disc album titled "Negro Sinful Songs". Even though Leadbelly had recorded over 200 titles for the Library of Congress, he was virtually unknown to the record buying public. But with this album Leadbelly was to find his own attentive audience in the budding urban folk scene. Alot of the songs on this CD are taken from this session, which ran the gamut of styles from field hollers "Go Down Old Hannah", work songs "Looky Looky Yonder/Black Betty", a variant of the Chil Ballad No.95 "The Gallis Pole", Afro-American ballads "Frankie & Albert" and "Boll Weevil", reels "Poor Howard/Green Corn" - which includes Leadbelly tap dancing between the 2 tunes, the blues traditional "De Kalb Blues", the autobiographical "Bourgeois Blues" and "Fannin' Street". The first 2 tracks on the CD "Daddy I'm Coming Home To You" AND "Shorty George" are from an earlier session recorded by John Lomax in 1935. The rest of the tracks on the CD were recorded in New York city on 15th June 1940. These include the songster tracks "Pick A Bale Of Cotton", "Midnight Special" and the blues songs "Leaving Blues", T.B. Blues.

These releases were the first exposure the general record buying public had to Leadbelly catalogue of songs that have become recognised as American folk standards.

1. Daddy I'm Coming Back To You (take 3)
2. Shorty George (take 2)
3. Fannin Street
4. Frankie And Albert - (First Half)
5. Frankie And Albert - (Completion)
6. De Kalb Blues
7. Looky Looky Yonder / Black Betty / Yellow Women's Door Bells (On A Monday)
8. The Bourgeois Blues
9. Poor Howard / Green Corn
10. The Boll Weevil
11. The Gallis Pole
12. Ain't Goin' Down To The Well No Mo' / Go Down Old Hannah
13. Pick A Bale Of Cotton
14. Whoa Back, Buck
15. Midnight Special
16. Alabama Bound
17. Rock Island Line
18. Good Morning Blues
19. Leaving Blues
20. T.B. Blues
21. Red Cross Store Blues
22. Sail On, Little Girl, Sail On
23. Roberta
24. Alberta
25. I'm On My Last Go-Round

Laura Nyro - Angel In The Dark

Angel in the Dark is a lovely recording featuring the graceful vocals and finely crafted songs that everyone expects from Laura Nyro. These sessions were completed in the summer of 1995 and represent the last music Nyro recorded. The title cut and "Sweet Dream Fade" mine the same soul terrain as her late '60s recordings, featuring horns and underlined by heavy guitar riffs. These upbeat pieces perfectly integrate voice, arrangements, and lyrics to create an organic whole, and are two of the best cuts on the album. Slower, piano-based songs like "Triple Goddess Twilight," "He Was Too Good to Me," and "Serious Playground" are mixed in-between these songs. These pieces are quieter and introspective, with Nyro's voice more intimate. It is almost as though she was sitting at the piano, late at night, and singing to herself. There are also several covers including "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "Let It Be Me." The first of these is over five minutes and has been slowed down so much that it drags. In fact, she slows down all of the covers as if to convert them into heartfelt ballads. This works best on "Ooh Baby, Baby," partly because the arrangement is fuller and more dynamic. One other standout is the upbeat "Gardenia Talk," filled with lively percussion and a sensual vocal. Angel in the Dark is a fine coda, perfect for late-night listening, and a perfect companion to Nyro's other recordings. ~ Ronnie Lankford Jr.

This wonderful collection of Laura Nyro's final recordings before her death in 1997 can only strengthen the reputation of one of the true musical enigmas of the last 35 years. Recorded in 1994 and 1995, and split evenly between original compositions and several of her beloved jazz and R&B tunes Nyro sang as a teenager on the street corners of New York, Angel in the Dark perfectly blends the two into a seamless hymn to the heart. Whether swinging through swoony classics like "Walk on By" and "Ooh Baby Baby" or stunning new songs like "Angel in the Dark," "Sweet Dream Fade," and "Animal Grace," Nyro's languid, instantly recognizable voice eerily seems to have barely aged over several decades. Although slightly deeper than on her earlier recordings, her voice--the very epitome of soul--still chills and raptures absolutely unlike any other. It's just Laura and her piano on half of these tracks, while the others get a classy polish from such jazz and R&B notables as Bernard Purdie, Will Lee, John Tropea, and the Brecker Brothers. Laura Nyro always seemed somewhere outside of time and space, and Angel in the Dark is nothing short of a magnificent final kiss blown from the other side. ~ Carl Hanni

Laura Nyro (vocals, piano)
John Tropea (guitar)
Michael Brecker (tenor sax)
Randy Brecker (trumpet)
Will Lee (bass)
Bernard Purdie (drums)

1. Angel In The Dark
2. Triple Goddess Twilight
3. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
4. He Was Too Good For Me
5. Sweet Dream Fade
6. Serious Playground
7. Be Aware
8. Let It Be Me
9. Gardenia Talk
10. Ooh Baby Baby
11. Embraceable You
12. La La Means I Love You
13. Walk On By
14. Animal Grace
15. Don't Hurt Child
16. Coda

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Don Byas - 1952 (Chronological 1372)

There is minimal overlap (6 or 7 tunes) between this CD and the not-too-long-ago posted Byas on Blue Star. I think the bulk of those were on the '51-'52 volume. Dunno. The next unposted one is 1947-1951, which I'll get to someday. It's a doozy; has Art Simmons - who is still with us - as well.

The eighth volume in the complete recordings of Oklahoma native Carlos Wesley "Don" Byas consists of 23 recordings he made in Paris during the spring and summer of 1952. Nine wonderful sides recorded for the Blue Star label on April 10th of that year are classic Byas -- lots of lush ballads and an occasional kicker -- with excellent rhythm support by pianist Art Simmons, bassist Joe Benjamin, and drummer Bill Clark. The remaining tracks presented here were originally issued on the Vogue label. Six lovely melodies recorded on May 21st feature guitarist Marcel Bianchi and bassist Pierre Michelot, while eight tunes rendered on July 18th are enhanced by the addition of a vibraphone. Byas was both a master of romantic exposition and a formidable improviser at brisk tempos, comparable to Coleman Hawkins yet possessed of a spirit entirely his own. This material will be new to some of those who live outside of Europe, and for this reason the producers of the Classics Chronological Series are to be warmly commended for having brought out another excellent volume of vintage jazz music for all to hear. ~ arwulf arwulf

An exceptionally busy year for small-group recording with no fewer than 23 sides cut between mid-April and mid-July, with more to come in the next volume. The first date was a fairly straighforward standards gig for Blue Star with a team of ex-pat Americans living in Paris. Later in the spring, though, Byas teamed up with guitarist Marcel Bianchi and recorded an odd set of mostly French chansons ('I Hear A Rhapsody' was the exception) for Vogue. However unusual the material, the playing was absolutely first-rate and Byas turns in a couple of lovely solos. The final date covered here had him teamed with vibist 'Geo' Daly, who's a bit flashy and superficial but Don seems to like the room and the challenge and again plays well. ~ Penguin Guide

Don Byas (tenor sax)
Art Simmons (piano)
Pierre Michelot (bass)
Marcel Bianchi (guitar)

1. Somebody Loves Me
2. I Cover The Waterfront
3. Don't Blame Me
4. Old Folks At Home
5. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
6. Riviera Blues (Blues A La Don)
7. You Can Depend On Me
8. That Old Feeling
9. Laura
10. Wheel Of Fortune
11. Please, Mister Sun
12. Rose De Picardie
13. L'Enfant Et La Rose
14. I Hear A Rhapsody
15. Pleurs
16. Just A Gigolo
17. Can't Help Lovin' That Man
18. Nice Work If You Can Get It
19. I'm In The Mood For Love
20. Lover
21. Lazy River
22. On The Sunny Side Of The Street
23. My Blue Heaven

Bill Holman - Brilliant Corners: The Music of Thelonious Monk (1997)

Bill Holman's exploration of ten Thelonious Monk tunes is purposely a lot more Holman than Monk. Rather than trying to re-create the great pianist/composer's piano solos or small-group renditions of his songs, Holman picked out numbers that interested him and then avoided listening to Thelonious' versions. The one trait of Thelonious Monk's that is present throughout these dynamic big-band reinterpretations is the dominance of the themes, which are never far away; otherwise, the music is pure Bill Holman. The charts are sometimes (like Bob Brookmeyer's) influenced by modern classical music; the ensembles are often quite dense, with numerous different activities going on at once -- a well-planned traffic jam. Many soloists are heard from, including all five saxophonists (with Perkins on alto and soprano and tenor great Christlieb making the strongest impressions), trumpeters Bob Summers and Ron Stout, and trombonists Andy Martin and Bob Enevoldsen. The individual improvisations are generally backed by complex ensembles and end up very much a part of the arrangements. The overall results (which include such highlights as "Straight No Chaser," "Thelonious," "Friday the 13th," and "Brilliant Corners") end up giving listeners a very different look at the music of Thelonious Monk, and are on the whole a major milestone in the career of Bill Holman. - Scott Yanow

Bill Holman (leader, arranger)
Carl Saunders, Frank Szabo, Ron Stout, Bob Summers (trumpet)
Jack Redmond, Bob Enevoldsen, Andy Martin, Kenny Shroyer (trombone)
Lanny Morgan, Bill Perkins, Pete Christlieb, Ray Herrmann, Bob Efford (reeds)
Rich Eames (piano)
Dave Carpenter (bass)
Bob Leatherbarrow (drums)
  1. Straight, No Chaser
  2. Bemsha Swing
  3. Thelonious
  4. 'Round Midnight
  5. Bye Ya
  6. Misterioso
  7. Friday the 13th
  8. Rhythm-A-Ning
  9. Ruby, My Dear
  10. Brilliant Corners
Recorded February 11-12, 1997

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

His Name Is Alive - Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute to Marion Brown

Sweet Earth Flower: a tribute to Marion Brown is His Name Is Alive's meditative ode to the work of the under-sung free jazz saxophonist. Veterans of the American rock underground, His Name Is Alive has been exploring various musical tangents since the early 1990s, slowly moving closer and closer to a more improvisational, jazz-oriented base.

The brainchild of Michigan-based, multi-instrumentalist/producer Warren Defever, His Name Is Alive was initially signed to the illustrious British label 4AD, a relative rarity for an American band. Ethereal and spacious, the band's sound has grown gradually over the years, incorporating funk, soul, R&B, folk, garage rock and world music into their expansive sound.

Collaborating with members of the Afro-beat horn ensembles Antibalas and Nomo, His Name Is Alive blends atmospheric electronic textures with reverberant horns for a sensitive tribute. Shuffling along simmering rubato grooves and psychedelic soundscapes, the assembled forces congeal in a wholly organic fashion. Electronic piano washes refract over arco bass drones and shimmering percussion, while plangent horns drift in and out of the mix.

Drawing stylistic inspiration from Brown's introspective 1970s period lends a serene and exploratory feel to the session. His Name Is Alive brings a sense of respectful admiration to these pieces, honoring Brown's spirit while making its own subtle mark on the work. Only on Harold Budd's "Bismillahi 'Rrahmani 'Rrahim" does the band break out with a cathartic electric guitar feedback and multiphonic sax duo that reaches for the heavens.

An ideal introduction to jazz for the novice, Sweet Earth Flower is less turbulent than Brown's earlier and more readily available music, capturing the spirit of Brown's later oeuvre with considered restraint and focused determination. ~ Troy Collins

Warren Defever (guitar, piano)
Elliot Bergman (tenor sax, Rhodes)
Jamie Saltsman (bass)
Justin Walter (trumpet)
Jamie Easter (percussion)
Dan Piccolo (drums, percussion)
Michael Herbst (alto sax)
Erik Hal (Wurlitzer electric piano)
Olman Piedra (congas, cajon)

1. Sweet Earth Flying
2. Juba Lee Brown
3. Capricorn Moon (live)
4. November Cotton Flower
5. Bismillahi 'Rrahmani 'Rrahim
6. Geechee Recollections (live)
7. Geechee Recollections
8. Sweet Earth Flying II (live)

Frank Hutchison - Complete Recorded Works, Volume 1 (1926-1929)

Almost everything Frank Hutchison recorded can be found on this disc (the rest is collected on Old-Time Music From West Virginia). Because of this, Volume 1: 1926-1929 presents the most complete picture of the type of performer he was and the sort of material he performed. A singer, guitarist, and harmonica player, his repertoire included bottleneck showcases, fingerpicked rags, and old-time dance numbers. In Hutchison's time, such versatility was an advantage, improving chances for work and a longer recording life. Much of the material here was fairly conventional for the time. Typical of even the most successful performers, Hutchison wasn't afraid to rework a tune slightly and call it a new composition. "The West Virginia Rag" is just an instrumental version of "Coney Isle," while a similar backing is used again on "Old Rachel." His original take on the story of the Titanic, however, is the sort of thing that could occasionally place him above his contemporaries. "The Last Scene of the Titanic" is almost cinematic, managing to capture the optimism of both the crew ("How's your machinery?/All right!/How's your compass?/Still on New York!") and passengers. He continually returns to scenes of people dancing, breaking in and out of dance rhythms on guitar for effect. Hutchison's story leads up to the ship's wreck, choosing to leave out the tragedy that follows. Volume 1 is also notable for the inclusion of at least three classic folk-country-blues songs. "Worried Blues" is a fantastic slide guitar performance recorded at his very first session. Strangely, as the liner notes point out, after that first date, Okeh seemed just as satisfied having Hutchison record more forgettable material like "C&O Excursion" (a novelty song with Hutchison imitating train sounds on his harmonica) and "Long Way to Tipperary" (an innocuous dance piece). Also recorded that first day, however, was "Train That Carried the Girl From Town," one of his best compositions (later a staple for Doc Watson). The song would be paired with "Worried Blues" as a single for Okeh. There is also a rendition of the "Stackalee" legend. The story had been told by everyone from Furry Lewis to Mississippi John Hurt (and would continue to fascinate everyone from Neil Diamond to Nick Cave). Harry Smith would choose Hutchison's version for his Anthology of American Folk Music. Following the label's standard format, all the songs on Document's Volume 1 (1926-1929) are arranged in chronological order by recording date. Thankfully, while there is a small degree of song repetition, alternate takes of the same piece never run back to back. ~ Nathan Bush

01 Worried Blues
02 Train That Carried My Girl From Town
03 Stackalee
04 The Wild Horse
05 Long Way to Tipperary
06 The West Virginia Rag
07 C&O Excursion
08 Coney Isle
09 Old Rachel
10 Lightning Express
11 Stackalee
12 Logan County Blues
13 Worried Blues
14 The Train That Carried My Girl From Town
15 The Last Scene of the Titanic
16 All Night Long
17 Alabama Girl, Ain't You Coming Out Tonight?
18 Hell Bound Train
19 Wild Hogs in the Red Brush
20 The Burglar Man
21 Back In My Home Town
22 The Miner's Blues
23 Hutchison's Rag
24 The Boston Burglar

VIDEO: La Nuit des Mayas

La Nuit des Mayas

Musiques Symphoniques Sud-Americaines
Concert Enregistré au Théâtre du Châtelet
le 27 octobre 2009

Mezzo does it again with a wonderful concert which we viewed over the holidays - I'll be viewing it again soon and so should you. It will certainly be re-broadcast on MEZZO, and perhaps on ARTE as well since they co-sponsered the filming. Excellent performances by all. L'Orchestre de Paris directed by Kristjan Järvi, with soloists Yamandu Costa et Richard Galliano.

The program:
Estancia - quatre danses - Alberto Ginastera
Suite pour guitare et orchestre - Mauricio Carrilho
El Negro del Blanco - Yamandu Costa
Aconcagua - Concerto pour bandoneon et orchestre - Astor Piazzolla
Aria - Richard Galliano
La noche de los Mayas - Silvestre Revueltas

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Herman Chittison - 1945-1950 (Chronological 1334)

Herman Chittison was a flashy pianist who developed his presentational abilities while entertaining patrons in nightclubs throughout Europe and North Africa. It is not surprising, then, that he worked up a repertoire of European classical melodies made over into lively, intricately woven jazz. On six rare sides originally issued on the Mary Howard Recordings record label, Chittison summons the shades of Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Paderewski, and Grieg. Everett Barksdale complements the piano most gracefully with his guitar, and Bill Pemberton proves to be an accomplished modern bassist. Chittison sounded a bit like Art Tatum. His fluid runs were deliberate and exacting enough to have fit well into the commercially oriented world of broadcasting. This pianist was in fact included in the cast of the weekly serial Crime Photographer on CBS, an arrangement that would lead to several recording sessions with Columbia records. Eight solos waxed on May 8, 1950 are attractive exercises in melody, sunny and sweet, drawing upon the muses of Harold Arlen, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Eubie Blake. The trio sessions from August of the same year are a bit more complicated, as the musicians expend a lot of energy on surface tension and mood manipulation. "The Continental" gets jacked up to an almost manic extent. "Ain't Misbehavin'" is solid enough, but most of these later trio recordings are inflated with a busy air of conspicuous intricacy. ~ arwulf arwulf

Herman Chittison (piano)
Everett Barksdale (guitar)
Abie Baker (bass)

1. Minute Waltz (Chopin)
2. June Barcarolle (Tchaikowsky)
3. Tristesse (Chopin)
4. Menuet (Paderewski)
5. Anitra's Dance (Grieg)
6. C Sharp Minor Waltz
7. Memories Of You
8. Let's Fall In Love
9. Dancing On The Ceiling
10. Isn't It Romantic?
11. September In The Rain
12. They Can't Take That Away From Me
13. Can't We Be Friends?
14. On The Sunny Side Of The Stree
15. Serenade
16. Just A Memory
17. The Continental
18. My Blue Heaven
19. Ain't Misbehavin'
20. On The Alamo
21. I've Had My Moments
22. Should I?

Craig Harris - F-Stops

A fascinating interconnected suite of themes and observations, realized by the best band Harris has had in a decade, if one leaves aside the more mainstream/crossover Tailgaters Tales. Using trombone and didjeridu, he conjures up dark roiling shapes that confirm his growing interest in John Coltrane's music. Bluiett is the ideal partner in this enterprise and Stubblefield, having done some similar things as a dep with the World Saxophone Quartet and on his own account, seems absolutely across the music. ~ Penguin Guide

The seven-part "F-Stops," which is the centerpiece of this CD, is named after the time exposure settings used in cameras. Other than the "2nd Flow," which has some odd vocalizing by Craig Harris and a meandering feature for his didgeridoo, the concise pieces hold one's interest and feature Harris, his quartet with keyboardist Darrell Grant and two occasional guest saxophonists in fine form. But it is the other selections, particularly "D.A.S.H.," "Burundi" (which keeps on shifting time signatures), the ballad "Generations" and the lengthy "Say Essay" that are most memorable. Harris takes some of his finest recorded solos ever throughout this project, making it obvious that he is a major trombonist. ~ Scott Yanow

Craig Harris (trombone)
Darrell Grant (piano)
Bill White (guitar)
Hamiet Bluiett (baritone sax)
John Stubblefield (tenor sax)
Calvin Jones (bass)
Tony Lewis (drums)

1. Say Essay
2. F-stops: 1st Flow
3. F-stops: 2nd Flow
4. F-stops: 3rd Flow
5. F-stops: 4th Flow
6. F-stops: 5th Flow
7. F-stops: 6th Flow
8. F- stops: 7th Flow
9. D.A.S.H.
11. High Life
12. Soft Shoe
13. Burundi

Charlie Ventura - 1949-1951 (Chronos 1309)

Scotty calls this one "not quite essential." I am not sure that I don't agree with him just for the fact that I am not sure that I would call any Charlie Ventura recording as "essential." Really, I am not sure what that means or how to define "essential" in a music context. Does it mean the music that one absolutely has to have for the betterment one's life? If so, how many records get to be essential in our life, or Scotty's life for that matter? I like Charlie Ventura, but I can't say anything that I have listened to this far would fit that definition, but neither would probably 99% of the rest of the music I listen to. Why couldn't arwulf arwulf have reviewed this one and we could have avoided this whole discourse completely?

I got this one mostly to fill a gap in my listening. I have thorougly enjoyed the previous Ventura Chronos which were posted previously (four in all!). I also enjoy the Mosaic set. This CD provides the remaining RCA Victor sides from the last Chronos posted and the beginning of the Clef small group stuff on the Mosaic box. While I do enjoy Ventura's take on Ellington, I have to say that I very much enjoy the small group stuff he did for Granz.

Most of the music on this CD from tenor saxophonist Charlie Ventura was formerly scarce. That is certainly true of his RCA recordings that feature his short-lived big band performing seven Duke Ellington compositions. While some of the solos are conventional, the arrangements of George Williams and particularly George Russell are certainly unusual in spots, quite impressionistic. In 1950 Ventura had another big band that also did not last. Its seven selections (five of which were previously unreleased) often utilize haunting vocals by the Honeydreamers and/or Lucy Reed, including "You've Got a Date With the Blues" and "Lonesome Darling." After that orchestra broke up, Ventura returned to playing with small groups. The final two dates on this CD were recorded for Norman Granz's Clef label; a quintet outing with trumpeter Conte Candoli that features boppish versions of six swing standards, and a quartet set with vocals from Betty Bennett, bassist Chubby Jackson, and the Blentones. Although not quite essential, this collection from Classics is valuable in making former rarities available.

Charlie Ventura - tenor/baritone/soprano saxophone
Manny Albam - baritone saxophone
Red Rodney - trumpet
Rolf Ericson - trumpet
Conte Candoli - trumpet
Benny Green - trombone
Ralph Burns - piano
Chubby Jackson - bass and vocals
Betty Bennett - vocals
George Russell - arranger

1 Take the "A" Train
2 Prelude to a Kiss
3 Solitude
4 Mood Indigo
5 It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
6 Sophisticated Lady
7 Caravan
8 You've Got a Date With the Blues
9 The Prettiest Girl in the Show
10 Dark Eyes
11 Lonesome Darling
12 It's Me Again
13 Tea for Two
14 The Very Thought of You
15 Avalon
16 I'm Confessin'
17 Bugle Call Rag
18 Rose Room
19 That Old Feeling
20 After You've Gone
21 There's No You
22 Perdido
23 Can't Get You Out of My Mind
24 Lover
25 Yesterdays

Jim Hershman and Eric Von Essen - Small Talk

One of the more interesting discoveries, for me, in the last few years was the work of Eric von Essen, who may be better represented with others performing his compositions than any actual recordings of Mr. von Essen's playing: both are formidable. Some of you will recall his appearance on Art Farmer's Central Avenue Reunion , where his bandmates were Farmer, Frank Morgan, Lou Levy and Albert Heath. As I say, the man was formidable.

His partner here is unfamiliar to me, yet this collection shows a fine example of what two traditionally trained musicians can do approaching work in an intelligent, structured way. Often we hear of 'free' players choosing their method as a reaction to the formulistic and cliched excesses of 'traditional' players (although a lot of unskilled fellows - maybe charlatans is too strong a word - slip in under their 'free' coattails); here's a couple of old-school-following guys who get it right.

"This new release from LBP focuses on the interaction and sonic possibilities of the classical guitar and acoustic bass in a jazz setting. Songs from the jazz repertoire have been highly arranged in a duo setting in order to create unique and memorable performances. Techniques such as arco and harmonics, as well as liberal reharmonizations, have been used throughout. The adventurous improvisation and extensive interaction between these two excellent musicians has produced a rich, exciting record, yet the integrity of the melody and the mood of each piece is never lost.

The music was recorded live with no isolation between the instruments. There were no overdubs or fixes, which has resulted in an organic, cohesive sound. The CD has been mastered and the order carefully selected by the artists. We hope that the listening experience is as satisfying as the creative process was. Enjoy the music!"

Eric von Essen (bass)
Jim Hershman (guitar)

1. The Days Of Wine And Roses
2. Love Letters
3. Darn That Dream
4. My Romance
5. Peri’s Scope
6. I Cover The Waterfront
7. The Shadow Of Your Smile
8. I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face
9. First
10. Blues For Herb

Joe Newman - 1956 Byers' Guide

Trumpeter Joe Newman and trombonist Billy Byers co-lead this 1956 sextet date, which also features Gene Quill, Lou Stein, Milt Hinton, and Osie Johnson. Byers wrote most of the music for the date and the solos remain very fresh. The performances are comparable to other musicians' better-known dates that have had the benefit of better promotion by their record labels and wider exposure through reissues. Byers' songs are not only upbeat but his sense of humor is obvious in pun-filled titles like "Byers' Guide" and "Gin and Catatonic"; don't worry, "Fingernails on the Windowpane" is not an example of early avant-garde jazz! If you are fortunate enough to come across this release in a used record store or website, buy it immediately or you may never see it again in your lifetime, as it is hardly a high-priority candidate for reissue.
Ken Dryden

01. Who's Cool? (B.Byers) 6:14
02. Byers' Guide (B.Byers) 3:52
03. Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe (Arlen-Harburg) 4:16
04. Fingernails On The Windowpane (B.Byers) 4:07
05. April's Delight (Judy Spencer) 6:33
06. Gin And Catatonic (B.Byers) 5:07
07. Dialogue In F (Judy Spencer) 4:14
08. Tribute To The West (B.Byers) 4:18
09. I Found A Million Dollar Baby (Warren-Rose-Dixon) 2:22
10. Which One Is Sali (B.Byers) 7::30

Joe Newman (trumpet)
Billy Byers (trombone)
Gene Quill (alto sax, clarinet)
Lou Stein (piano)
Milt Hinton (bass)
Osie Johnson (drums)

Recorded in New York City, 1956

Monday, January 4, 2010

John McLaughlin - Extrapolation

One of the Penguin Guide's Crown selections - this may be the only one given (that has 13/8 scrabbles) to a freshman effort.

" Extrapolation is one of the finest jazz records ever made in Europe. Ranging between gently meditative runs, as on 'Peace Piece', and furious 13/8 scrabbles, it combines all of McLaughlins virtues (accuracy, power, vision) on a single disc. It has transferred to CD reasonably well, though Odges and some of McLaughlins lower runs sound slightly artificial. The band was state-of-the-art for 1969. Oxley's drumming has the firmness of a rock beat, even when the count is extremely irregular, and Surman's playing is cast midway between folksy melodizing and complete abstraction. Tie to a chair any British jazz fan who came of age between 1967 and 1972, and a substantial number will confess that 'Binky's Beam' is their favourite track of all time. Essential and curiously timeless." ~ Penguin Guide

The reissue of this 1969 debut by the then- 26-year-old John McLaughlin is more than just a trip down memory lane. The music reflects experimental, free jazz trends that influenced jazz in the 1960s. But McLaughlin puts a unique virtuoso spin on this electric post-bop, delivering 10 original compositions that, while highly improvisational, still build on well conceived melodic motifs.

The British quartet's interplay is especially memorable on "Arjen's Bag" and "This Is for Us to Share," the latter featuring McLaughlin on both electric and acoustic guitars. A rubato feel adds charm to this lovely yet convoluted ballad's clever harmonic structure. The album ends with "Peace Piece," a subtle solo acoustic guitar tune that hints at the Indian modal music that McLaughlin would later explore with his group Shakti.

John McLaughlin (guitar)
John Surman (baritone and soprano sax)
Brian Odgers (bass)
Tony Oxley (drums)

1. Extrapolation
2. It's Funny
3. Arjen's Bag (Follow Your Heart)
4. Pete the Poet
5. This Is For Us To Share
6. Spectrum
7. Binky's Beam
8. Really To Know
9. Two For Two
10. Peace Piece

Archie Shepp - Fire Music

This particular early Archie Shepp recording has its strong moments, although it is a bit erratic. Four selections utilize an advanced sextet. Of these songs, "Hambone" has overly repetitive and rather monotonous riffing by the horns behind the soloists, and Shepp's bizarre exploration of "The Girl From Ipanema" gets tedious, but the episodic "Los Olvidaos" is quite colorful, and the tenorman sounds fine on a spacy rendition of "Prelude to a Kiss." "Malcolm, Malcolm-Semper Malcolm" has Shepp reading a brief poem for the fallen Malcolm X before he jams effectively on tenor in a trio with bassist David Izenzon and drummer J.C. Moses. Overall, this set, even with its faults, is recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp was an essential voice in the revolutionary jazz of the 1960s, creating a music that insistently linked art and social issues. He was also a musician who fused the past and present in jazz, leapfrogging over bebop to develop a sound that combined the expressive breathiness of Ben Webster with the new vocabulary of free jazz. Those qualities are much in evidence in these 1965 sessions. The principal band here is a sextet, and it brings a primal force to Shepp's charging, complex, multidimensional compositions. But within this potent brew, individual voices distinguish themselves. Altoist Marion Brown's lines always invoke the blues, while trumpeter Ted Curson, a veteran of Charles Mingus's bands, provides a sense of detached perspective. The riffing horns create a backdrop for some of Shepp's most volatile orations on "Hambone" and "Los Olvidados" as his tenor seems to shout, shriek, strut, and cajole with a life of its own. A live septet version of "Hambone" is even more turbulent than the studio take. The rest of the CD heads off in a variety of directions. Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss" is recast with some fresh dissonance. Taking his initial cues from Webster, Shepp goes on to turn the ballad into something very much his own, though still Ellingtonian in spirit. His arrangement of "Girl from Ipanema" adds unlikely fire to the Jobim tune, while "Malcolm," a poem inspired by the assassination of Malcolm X, has Shepp's voice and tenor accompanied by just bass and drums. While these diversions might now seem forced or melodramatic, Fire Music is a varied CD that retains much of its original power. ~ Stuart Broomer

Archie Shepp (tenor sax)
Marion Brown (alto sax)
Ted Curson (trumpet)
Joseph Orange (trombone)
David Izenzon (bass)
J.C. Moses (drums)

1. Hambone
2. Los Olvidados
3. Malcolm, Malcolm - Semper Malcolm
4. Prelude To A Kiss
5. The Girl From Ipanema

Sunday, January 3, 2010

BN LP 5036 | New Faces/New Sounds-Urbie Green Septet

So, here's another 'bluenote-one-timer', Urbie Green, 27 years old, on his way up and getting recognition;

From Cook's;
"After only six recording dates in 1951 and eight in 1952, there were fifteen in 1953...It was an experimental period as much as one of achievement."

"Lion's curiosity for new music was enthusiastic and wide-ranging. As Blue Note's business began to grow, he and Wolff realised that they had to have a regular turnover of new material if the label was going to keep its place in the newly expanding world of jazz microgroove records."

From wikipedia;

Urban Clifford "Urbie" Green (born August 8, 1926) is an American professional jazz trombonist who toured with Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, Jan Savitt, and Frankie Carle. He appears on over 250 recordings and has released more than two dozen albums as a soloist and is highly respected by his fellow trombonists. Green's trombone sound is especially noted for its warm, mellow tone, even in the higher registers where he is more fluent than most trombonists. His technique is considered flawless by many in the music industry.

In 1947, Green joined Gene Krupa's band and quickly moved up to Woody Hermans third "Thundering Herd" Big Band in 1950 to play with his brother, Jack.

In 1954 he was awarded the "New Star" Critics Award from Down Beat International.

Moving to New York City in 1953 and established himself as the premier trombonist in demand for the booming recording industry. He was voted "Most Valuable Player" several times by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Some have even proposed that he may be the most recorded musician of all time. He recorded with virtually all of the major jazz musicians of the 1950s and 1960s and led his own groups while also joining tours as a featured performer, including a three-month tour helming the Benny Goodman Orchestra and the unusual job of fronting the Tommy Dorsey orchestra after Dorsey's death in 1956. He collaborated with innovative producer Enoch Light for the Command and Project 3 labels, producing what are probably his most notable recordings, such as the two-volume sets "The Persuasive Trombone of Urbie Green" and "21 Trombones."

I posted this a good while back on the pre CIA, POM blog - so you 'old-timers' will already have this - this is basically a re-up (it does not have the hand of the viking, so may be more enjoyable of an evening).

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

Yamandu Costa Ao Vivo (2003)

A few days ago, a friend asked about Yamandu Costa. Yamandu is a Brazilian artist who plays acoustic guitar, mostly seven strings guitar. He was born in Rio Grande do Sul, on the border with Argentina, and until 15 years (he will be 30, this year) he only knew regional music, from South Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. In fact, his guitar teacher was born in Argentina. After 15, he had contact with the music of Gnattali and Jobim and expanded his interests. He is one of the best players nowadays in Brazil, in the line of Baden Powell and Raphael Rabello. One of these days, I saw, in another blog, a little discussion about the virtue of virtuosity. Well, I think that virtuosity is wellcome when it serves music, and boring when it becomes an end in itself. Yamandu is a virtuose which serves the music most of the time, but now and then he appears be saying :"Hear what I can do with my guitar!". Happily, these moments are becoming less and less as he is getting more mature as an artist. Yamandu Ao Vivo is the third CD he recorded and was released in 1993. The recordings were made in live presentations and he has the company of bass and drums and the selection of musics is rather ecletic. There are music from the south (Tareco, Taquito Militar), but also from the north-eastern Brazil (Disparada); Brazilian standards (Conversa de botequim) e more new songs (O bem e o mal) and hommages to some of his models (Baden Powell, Django Rheinhardt and Dilermando Reis). Django Rheinhardt everybody knows. Baden Powell is one of the greatest name Brazil ever produced as a guitar player (many would say the greatest) and Dilermando Reis was a Brazilian guitarist which lived in USA when Bossa Nova boomed. He recorded some records in that genre (with Bud Shank, for example) but in my opinion he lacked the knack, and played a predictable music. "Sampa", "Disparada", "Nuages", "Conversa de botequim" and "Brasiliana" are highlights in a consistently good record.
1- Valsa #1 (Baden Powell)
2- O bem e o mal (Dudu Falcão - Danilo Caymmi)
3- Vou deitar e rolar (Baden Powell - P.C. Pinheiro)
4- Tareco # 1 (R. Souza - Yamandú)
5- Sampa (Caetano veloso)
6- Taquito militar (M. Mores)
7- Disparada (Vandré-T. Barros)
8- Nuages (Rheinhardt)
9- Samba meu (Yamandu)
10- Uma valsa e dois amores (D. Reis)
11- Conversa de botequim (N. Rosa-Vadico)
12- Brasiliana # 13 (Gnattali)

Personnel -
Yamandú Costa - 7 strings acoustic guitar
Thiago do Espírito Santo - Bass
Edu Ribeiro - Drums

A Gift From Our Friend Tim

Tim has sent along the links for a collection he has made of jazz subjects; these are very fine and are - for a pleasant change - somewhat Eurocentric in their choice of subject matter. I'm looking forward to spending time in this gallery.

Herbie Mann with the Bill Evans Trio - Nirvana

It is surprising that this obscure session featuring Herbie Mann with the Bill Evans Trio (making its first recordings following the sudden death of bassist Scott LaFaro just a short time after the trio's landmark gig at the Village Vanguard) only reappeared on LP during the initial wave of CD reissues during the 1980s, but it is available once again nearly 40 years after it was completed. Mann, who has changed his style numerous times throughout his long career, is heard exclusively in a straight-ahead and bop context on this pair of studio dates. Evans, who studied flute through his college years, rarely recorded with a flutist (Jeremy Steig joined him on a later record for Verve), though he was fond of the instrument; the capable Chuck Israels on bass and drummer Paul Motian round out the trio. The low-key "Willow Weep for Me" and impressionist composer Erik Satie's Gymnopedie bring out the lyricism of Mann's playing, though the trio's backing is very understated. Things open up a bit with a sparkling take of Cole Porter's "I Love You." Mann's two originals, "Nirvana" and "Cashmere," aren't quite as memorable; substituting one of Evans' compositions for either of them might have provided some additional spark. Fans of either Herbie Mann or Bill Evans will want to acquire this enjoyable CD. ~ Ken Dryden

This Bill Evans session followed close on the heels of the Scott LeFaro tragedy of summer 1961. Struggling to break in the new trio, confronting a spiraling drug habit, and depressed over the loss of his musical and spiritual partner, Evans, during this period, sounded weary, subdued, and somewhat vanquished.

Yet this long overlooked session should not be missed. Evans, though not playing at the peak of the recent studio and live (Village Vanguard) dates, seems to have transcended the tragedy and found new depths. His playing is lax, his piano sounds distorted, but the album's color and sensitivity is unmistakeable; and with the moral and musical support of flautist Herbie Mann, bassist Chuck Israel, and drummer Paul Motian, he had certainly produced a work that could stand comfortably among the rest

The composition choices reflect the mood of the session. Satie - a well known lover of the rain, of alcohol and of darker, more mystical landscapes of sound - seems an apt choice to underpin this pensive album; the title track, Nirvana, with its Buddhist soul-searching allusions, mirrors Evans' own search of the time.

Yes the recording quality is a bit scrappy, yes there are better Evan's albums out there, but the significance of this recording for fans is unmistakable. It is an important document of a particular moment in time - a moment of crisis, and of musical rebirth, and one that you will not be disappointed to share.

Herbie Mann (flute)
Bill Evans (piano)
Chuck Israel (bass)
Paul Motian (drums)

1. Nirvana
2. Gymnopedie
3. I Love You
4. Willow Weep For Me
5. Lover Man
6. Cashmere

VIDEO: Rafael Campallo - Puente de Triana

Rafael Campallo - Puente de Triana
Festival Arte Flamenco
Mont de Marsan - July 2009

Whatever preconceptions you may have about flamenco, leave them at the door and make sure you check out this video on ARTE or MEZZO.

Derrière ce jeune homme qui a laissé les clichés bien tranquillement au vestiaire se cache le nouveau grand du Flamenco. A l'occasion du festival "Arte Flamenco", il rend hommage au quartier sévillan de Triana, repère des artistes de la ville mais surtout longtemps fief des gitans et berceau du Flamenco.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Roscoe Holcomb - An Untamed Sense Of Control

One of our regular pals here was mentioning an interest in Country music, and he got me interested enough to start going through the (very) few things I have in that line. While I eschew Country music in general, I have a great interest in Bluegrass and even some of the early Country performers. I will never like Johnny Cash, however. I was even given a great selection to do a guest review on, and I am currently working on (and greatly enjoying) it.

"As documented by the Smithsonian Folkways reissue The High Lonesome Sound, Roscoe Holcomb, like contemporaries Dock Boggs and Bascom Lamar Lunsford, was the real thing, a raw, solitary musician who expressed the inexpressible, a yearning out of time and place, a sense of the wild, the unseen, the unknowable, perhaps even the unspeakable. The title of this second volume of Holcomb's recordings comes from Bob Dylan, who was describing what he heard in Holcomb's music. And he's right, he knew how to get that sound, how to seek and find the mercurial ghost inside whatever instrument he was playing, the banjo, a guitar with a jackknife, or from that graveyard, sorrowful voice of his. His was able to channel the wisdom and tragedy of the ages and allow for both possibility and despair, even in his a cappella numbers. His is the sound of Appalachian midnight, somewhere past bluegrass, folk, and country. These recordings were made not in 1959 like the material on the other volume, but later, between 1961-1973, when Holcomb was touring, though in declining health and spirits. And, while some the material is duplicated on this set, the versions are very different, and, if anything, this material is somehow spookier, deeper in the trenches of both sorrow and resignation. Some of these tunes were recorded in New York City and in concert in Cambridge, MA, and others on Holcomb's front porch in Daisy, KY. The settings hardly matter; this includes his versions of "Little Maggie," "Frankie and Johnny," the knife-guitar take of "Foggy Mountain Top" that is only rivaled by Maybelle Carter's, his 1961 version of Carter Stanley's "Man of Constant Sorrow" (which is the definitive version of the song done a cappella), and his read of "I Ain't Got No Sugar Baby Now" (which rivals Dock Boggs' earlier version). The truth in all of these songs is the way the blues, bluegrass, ancient folk traditions, and Holcomb's uncompromising and truly unusual sense of rhythm and phrasing collide and, rather than cancel each other out, bring one another to life. His blues songs, such as "Milk Cow Blues" and "Sitting on Top of This World," are fraught with edges and trail-offs that unsettle the listener, seeking a kind of completion that could only come from a singer who didn't hold the song as a living, breathing presence that haunts him. The bravado in the latter is offset by the irony that Holcomb's life had been an image in direct opposition to what the braggadocio in its lyrics offers. There is no grain in Holcomb's voice and banjo style; his voice is the grain, the American Grain in all its rough-hewn glory and grace and desolation. It is majestic in its reediness and singular in its power. This is an essential collection for anyone interested in American traditional music -- be it folk, blues, country, or bluegrass -- and is a primer for those who seek to discover what it was that all of those musics sought to express." ~ Thom Jurek

1. Swanno Mountain
2. Across The Rocky Mountain
3. Graveyard Blues
4. Single Girl
5. Little Maggie
6. Born And Raised In Covington
7. Barbara Allen Blues
8. Coal Creek
9. Rock Island Prison
10. I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow
11. Combs Hotel Burned Down
12. The Hills Of Mexico
13. Knife Guitar
14. Mississippi Heavy Water Blues
15. Coney Isle
16. Train That Carried My Girl From Town
17. Milk Cow Blues
18. Black Eye Susie
19. Darling Cory
20. I Ain't Got No Sugar Baby Now
21. Sitting On Top Of This World
22. Frankie And Johnnie
23. Foggy Mountain Top
24. Fair Miss In The Garden
25. Willow Garden
26. True Love

Friday, January 1, 2010

Alexander Von Schlippenbach - Pakistani Pomade

One of the truly legendary recordings from the early period of European free improvisation, and the opening statement from a band that – improbably – continues to exist, 1972’s Pakistani Pomade is essential music. This is yet another installment in Atavistic’s wondrous reissue program, and more specifically is one of their FMP Archive Editions (specializing in new editions of late 60s-70s recordings from the famous German free jazz/improv label). The three players heard here on their maiden recording voyage – pianist/leader Alexander von Schlippenbach, saxophonist Evan Parker, and percussionist Paul Lovens – met through the activities of the important Globe Unity Orchestra, a roving collective wherein all the future luminaries of European free music first began to associate in the late 1960s (Atavistic has issued some early recordings, and there are some beauties still available on FMP). But beginning with this session, they have gone on to stake out their own patch of the music; and with over 10 recordings (some of which are currently available, though hopefully Atavistic will get around to reissuing beauties like Anticlockwise and The Hidden Peak) and several decades of work together, this trio now seems like one of the central workshops for each player’s individual and group music.

Schlippenbach, for example, has really benefited from this continuous improvisational vehicle. Though he works in occasionally quite aggressive areas – making uses of clustered chords and very fast fractured runs of notes – it would be misleading to say he’s more than customarily influenced by American players like Cecil Taylor. The space and formal sense in his playing is probably more akin to pianists like Ran Blake or Paul Bley who, though they don’t actually come through in the sound of Schlippenbach’s playing, were probably formative influences on his approach to the music (along with his avowed love for bop players Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols). Listen to the opening dialogues with Lovens on "Sun-Luck Night-Rain" or to the killer title track for evidence. Parker’s relationship to jazz saxophone – his early inspiration in Rollins and late period Trane, from which he subsequently launched his playing into the harmonic and textural stratosphere – is fairly familiar. On this recording he combines the delightfully quirky pops and burbles for which he is renowned with a harsher, more shriek-filled voice that is less well-documented. It’s still defined by the same concerns – duration, tonal micro-management, overtones, and false fingerings – but represents a side of his playing that Parker has largely left behind. Lovens, a superbly gifted colorist, has the incredible talent for combining the sheer momentum of classic jazz rhythms with little to no overt reference to them, filling the tone field with thuds, scrapes, rustles, and thwacks that create their own rhythmic syntax. Listen to his superb duet with Parker, which opens "Butaki Sisters." "Ein Husten für Karl Valentin" and the multiple miniatures on this recording tend to be very sparse and pointillistic, showcasing the range these fellows had even early on. As if the reissue alone weren’t glorious enough, there are four "Pakistani Alternates" which comprise an extra 20 minutes of heady listening. Rawer and more edgy than their later recordings, Pakistani Pomade is still defined by the listening and generosity of these players. A must have recording. ~ Jason Bivins

Alexander Von Schlippenbach (piano)
Evan Parker (soprano and tenor sax)
Paul Lovens (drums)

1. Untitled
2. Butaki Sisters
3. A Little Yellow (Including Two Seconds Monk)
4. Ein Husten Für Karl Valentin
5. Pakistani Pomade
6. Von "G" Ab
7. Moonbeef
8. Klein Nulle, Evergreen
9. Pakistani Alternate #1
10. Pakistani Alternate #2
11. Pakistani Alternate #3
12. Pakistani Alternate #4

Jelly Roll Morton - The Complete Library Of Congress Recordings

For years Jelly Roll Morton was described by critics and historians as a frustrated egomaniac who ran around badmouthing other musicians after his own career faltered as a result of a stodgy inability to "change with the times." This caricature has finally begun to dissipate, and a much clearer picture of the man has emerged. Alan Lomax, Morton's biographer, archivist and interviewer, described the late '30s as "...a time in which the music that had been created first by black musicians was being taken away from them by the 'amusement industry'..." Lomax suggested that Morton was speaking not only for himself but also on behalf of jazz, a tradition which by 1938 had been plundered and used as flavoring in trivialized pop music. This puts Morton's words in perspective. As for his over-the-top criticisms of other musicians, that is hardly unusual and is something that many musicians still do on a daily basis. As for Lomax, he was an impassioned archivist who loved people and worked hard to document the glorious diversity of humanity. Each of his research projects yielded recordings that are precious and fascinating, but the Complete Library of Congress Recordings of Jelly Roll Morton are staggering in their depth and magnitude. Here is an intimate oral history of music and culture in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast with demonstrative musical accompaniment. Beautifully restored -- especially considering the fact that this material was originally etched onto aluminum platters -- the Morton interviews are able to seep into the mind of the listener with unprecedented clarity and precision, along with numerous instrumental piano solos. Sipping whiskey and narrating in what Alistair Cooke described as his "billiard ball baritone," Morton speaks of spirituals, blues, jazz, ragtime, opera, symphonies and overtures. He airs his own theories of harmony, melody, discords, rhythms, breaks and riffs, scat singing, swing and the value of jazz when played slowly so as to enhance its bouquet. He speaks of musical origins, antecedents and precedents, originality and piracy, of nocturnal entertainments, musical cutting contests and impromptu fisticuffs, 24-hour honkytonks and street parades. With all the descriptive power of a Zola novel Morton describes horses, fine food, alcohol, narcotics and body lice; cardsharps, pool sharks, prostitutes, pianists and hoodoos; race riots and funerals, gang violence and cold blooded murder. He tells stories of hitting the road and scuffling to get by, even selling bogus patent medicine door to door. He plays Miserere from Verdi's Il Trovatore, explains the use of tangos, waltzes and habanera rhythms, traces the quadrille origins of the "Tiger Rag," sings Mardi Gras Indian chants and describes the circumstances which led to his being called "Jelly Roll." Loosened by liquor and encouraged by Lomax, Morton even revives the smutty songs he used to perform in the sporting houses of Storyville. Morton's scatological lyrics to "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor" and his own cheerfully lewd "Winin' Boy Blues" are almost as bracing as his version of the ever-popular "Dirty Dozen," peppered with references to inter-species copulation. Even the epically proportioned "Murder Ballad" contains its share of overt sexual verbiage. Disc eight contains a series of interviews recorded in 1949 with New Orleans musicians Johnny St. Cyr, Alphonse Picou, Albert Glenny, Paul Dominguez, Jr. and Sidney Bechet's brother, the trombone-blowing dentist Dr. Leonard Bechet. Also included on this disc is an Adobe Acrobat PDF document packed with extra liner notes, word for word transcriptions of all lyrics and dialogue heard on this set, unrecorded interviews and research notes as well as rare documents from the Jelly Roll Morton archive. Mention should also be made of R. Crumb's portraits of Morton and Lomax -- the Morton likenesses might be Crumb's all-time greatest graphic achievement. The eight discs, a paperback edition of Lomax's excellent biography Mister Jelly Roll, and a wonderfully informative, insightful booklet are encased in a rather ungainly, piano-shaped package that seems precariously fragile. The words and music housed within, however, will now be able to circulate anew and endure in the body politic for many years to come. ~ arwulf arwulf

When folklorist Alan Lomax made these epic 1938 recordings of Jelly Roll Morton's reminiscences and piano playing, he was creating the first great oral documentation of early jazz. This material has never been issued with the care, sensitivity and completeness that it gets here, with the complete interviews and musical performances sequenced over seven CDs in the order in which they took place. Morton was almost as great a raconteur as he was a musician, and his accounts of New Orleans in the early years of the 20th century--from bordellos to riots to funeral parades--are vivid, bawdy, and sometimes hilarious. His accounts of the music and his performances, from "King Porter Stomp" to the lengthy "Murder Ballad," provide a brilliant window on the mechanics and progress of jazz in its earliest years. The sound restoration is excellent and the complete package--cover art by R. Crumb and a book with an essay by John Szwed and extensive photographs--befits a document of this significance. An eighth CD excerpts interviews Lomax conducted in 1949 with various New Orleans musicians (most notably Johnny St. Cyr) reminiscing about Morton and the early years of jazz. ~ Stuart Broomer

The stories and songs on these recordings are a document of the big bang of jazz music at the dawn of the 20th Century.

New Orleans composer, pianist and pool shark Jelly Roll Morton was one of the key figures in the creation of jazz. Alan Lomax was the visionary folklorist who created a legacy that illuminated roots music sounds from around the world. Together, in 1938 at the Library of Congress, they made these groundbreaking recordings - the first recorded oral history in jazz.

Jelly Roll's earthy and remarkably detailed stories of the milieu that surrounded the formation of jazz music are punctuated with his musical illustrations and stunning solo piano versions of his best-known compositions. The dandies, piano players, prostitutes, hustlers and musical legends that populated Jelly Roll's world are brought to life in this riveting narrative, an essential document of American culture.

A Document of the Big Bang of Jazz!

* The first complete and unexpurgated release of the 1938 Library of Congress recordings, on 7 compact discs, plus a bonus disc of interviews of Jelly Roll Morton's peers by Alan Lomax
* Remastered from the original acetate discs at the Library of Congress using Sony Direct Stream Digital technology, and restored using the Cedar Cambridge(TM) system.
* Includes Alan Lomax's acclaimed biography, Mister Jelly Roll, plus a new 80-page book with an appreciation by John Szwed and many rare photographs.
* Expanded liner notes and new comprehensive transcription, with Alan Lomax's hand-written annotations, included as an Adobe PDF document.

Allen Toussaint - The Bright Mississippi

The Bright Mississippi stands alone among Allen Toussaint albums. Technically, it is not his first jazz album, for in 2005 he released Going Places on the small CD Baby-distributed Captivating Recording Technologies, a label run by his son Reginald, but for most intents and purposes — and for most listeners — The Bright Mississippi might as well be his first foray into jazz, since it's the first to get a major-label production and release as it's a de facto sequel to Toussaint's successful, high-profile, 2006 duet album with Elvis Costello, The River in Reverse. Like that record, The Bright Mississippi is produced by Joe Henry, who has a knack for a sound that's clean yet soulful, one that lets the music breathe but still has heft to it. Henry teams Toussaint with a cast of heavy hitters — including clarinetist Don Byron, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, guitarist Marc Ribot and, on a track a piece, pianist Brad Mehldau and saxophonist Joshua Redman — to support the pianist on a run through jazz standards ranging from Duke Ellington and Django Reinhardt to Louis Armstrong and Thelonious Monk, whose 1963 classic provides the album its title. Everybody has a little bit where they shine, but this is thoroughly Toussaint's showcase, a place where he can ease back and string together New Orleans jazz and R&B in his own elegant fashion. And what impresses most about Bright Mississippi is that although straight-out jazz is uncommon in Toussaint's work, this neither feels unfamiliar or like a stretch. His signature runs and smooth grooves can be heard throughout the album, but the relaxed nature of the sessions makes it easier than ever to hear what an idiosyncratic, inventive instrumentalist he is, and that is a quality that's more evident upon repeated plays. Upon the first listen, The Bright Mississippi merely seems like a joyous good time, but subsequent spins focus attention on just how rich and multi-layered this wonderful music is.

1.Egyptian Fantasy Bechet, Reid 4:39
2.Dear Old Southland Bloch 6:19
3.St. James Infirmary Traditional 3:51
4.Singin' the Blues Conrad, Robinson 5:40
5.Winin' Boy Blues Mort, Morton 6:41
6.West End Blues Oliver, Oliver, Williams 3:51
7.Blue Drag Reinhardt 4:21
8.Just a Closer Walk with Thee Traditional 5:10
9.Bright Mississippi Monk 5:07
10.Day Dream Ellington, Strayhorn 5:27
11.Long, Long Journey Feather 4:50
12.Solitude DeLange, Ellington, Mills 5:31

Alan Toussaint piano and vocals #11
Don Byron clarinet
Nicholas Payton trumpet
Marc Ribot acoustic guitar
David Piltch upright bass
Jay Bellerose drums and percussion
special guests
Brad Mehldau piano #5
Joshua Redman tenor saxophone #10

Recorded March 19-22, 2008 at Avatar Studios, New York
2009 Nonesuch Records 480380