Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If you check the site, you'll see that I'm gone.

Lurkers, sneaks, and Bruno Leicht's threats of reporting me to the FBI and RIAA have made me realize that this has not been fun for a long while already, and that he is seriously mentally ill.

He has already reported me to the German police and Blogger, so I know that he is crazy enough and vicious enough to do it. He has created 3 blogs with his craziness against me, and is now impersonating Scoredaddy, me, moha, alternateathos, simon666 and Worldbflat and others and spamming Youtube with RIAA threats.:

He says he loves music - he just doesn't want YOU to hear it. He is also shocked when he is called a troll. God help him.

So, thank him for closing CIA when you see him next.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Erroll Garner - The Original Misty & Mambo Moves Garner

This is the complete 27 July 1954 marathon session.
"The Original Misty" has the trio cuts, while "Mambo Moves Garner" has the quartet tracks.

The Original Misty:
There are only so many songs that rank in the first chapter of the American songbook alongside Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust," and a handful of beloved Irving Berlin and George Gershwin tunes. Erroll Garner's "Misty," however, is one of them. ... One of the most recognized and interpreted standards in the jazz repertoire, "Misty" is Erroll Garner's signature composition, and THE ORIGINAL MISTY CD marks the first digital appearance of the tune's initial recording. As legend has it, Garner composed the song in his head as he was flying to the recording session (July 27, 1954); then, once he arrived, he sat down and recorded it in one take.

Given the thousands of interpretations of "Misty" that followed and will continue to follow, hearing this original version is a historical and musical thrill. The song is also a showcase for Garner's lush lyricism and fluid phrasing. The rest of the album is equally engaging, with Garner taking on several standards including Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" and George Gershwin's "Oh, Lady Be Good." From the same session as "Misty," these songs were also recorded in one take, and feature Garner's famous blend of ragtime exuberance, advanced technical prowess, and pop-song accessibility.

Mambo Moves Garner:
In this album, for the first time, Erroll Garner recorded in the Latin idiom. Garner's affinity for Latin modes continued throughout his lifetime. Many of his subsequent recordings and compositions reflect this, and in 1965, he added a permanent conga player (Jose Mangual) to his regular ensemble. Mambo Moves Erroll Garner is unique among the substantial body of Garner recordings.

PS: I hope these haven't been posted before. Strangly, the "search" option is not working here anymore...

How Can I Keep From Singing, Vol. 1- Early American Religious Music And Song: Classic Recordings from the 1920s and 30s

Another of Yazoo Records' wonderful themed compilations, How Can I Keep From Singing is a collection of sacred music from the 1920s and 1930s. It provides an indispensable series of portraits that sheds light on how people from the period celebrated their religion in song. Beyond historical significance, every performance here is an enjoyable listening experience, and there are many highlights. Jay Bird Coleman delivers a fantastic harmonica duet with Ollis Martin on "I'm Gonna Cross the River of Jordan." Their performance is raw and seems to lie outside of the confines of the church, much closer to the earth. The music seems to jump out of the recording. "He's Got Better Things for You" by the Memphis Sanctified Singers is equally exciting and is sung so beautifully that it could win the church new converts. "He's got the holy ghost and the fire," the singer advertises. This is religious music, but she isn't above making the song a showcase for her unique style as she growls her way through the chorus. On "Woke Up This Morning," Roosevelt Graves & Brother create a joyful syncopation with two voices, guitar, and some basic percussion. Typically, Yazoo gives no thought to musical or racial segregation. Thus, the heavily stylized voice of Rev. H.B. Jackson is backed by the authentic gospel sounds of Rev. E.D. Campbell & Congregation. Uncle Dave Macon (a white, vaudeville-influenced performer), who delivers a humorous, spoken introduction on "Walking in Sunlight," is followed by the unique tradition of sacred harp singing on a performance by the Middle Georgia Singing Convention. Slim Ducket & Pig Norwood's wonderful, subdued reading of "I Want to Go Where Jesus Is," which seems to bear the mark of a blues (secular) performer, is up against Rev. J.O. Hanes. The group's "The Great Transaction's Done," with its inclusion of a sermon, attempts to recreate the environment of a church meeting on record. By making faith the only requirement, Yazoo has brought together a range of performers, styles, and voices to gather and congregate, resulting in a blend that's all too rare. ~ Nathan Bush

A powerful and deeply moving overview of Early American religious music and song from both the white and black communities. Highlighted here are the fascinating panorama of American religious music styles from archaic fundamentalist modal hymns, to gospel quartets, to Pentecostal bands, to songsters accompanying themselves on guitars, banjoes, and fiddles, to snippets of church services including some preaching, and much, much more. These albums provide an expansive overview of early American religious music.

1. My Heart Keeps Singing - Burch, Elder & Congregation
2. Woke Up This Morning - Roosevelt Graves
3. Standing On The Promises - Tennessee mountaineers
4. I Can Tell The World About This - Laura Henton
5. Walking In Sunlight - Fruit Jar Drinkers
6. This Song Of Love - Middle Georgia Singing Convention
7. It Won't Be Long Until I'm In My Grave - Norman Woodleiff
8. I'm Gonna Cross The River Of Jordan - Jaybird Coleman
9. My Loved Ones Are Waiting - Carolina Ladies Quartette
10. True Friendship - Various Artists
11. Weeping Pilgrim - Allison's Sacred Harp Singers
12. Sleep On Mother Sleep On - Lonnie McIntorsh
13. My Christian Friends In Bonds Of Love - Elder Golden Harris
14. He's Got Better Things For You - Memphis Sanctified Singers
15. God Leads His Dear Children Along - Rev. Joseph Callendar
16. Coronation - Daniels-Deason Sacred Harp Singers
17. I Want To Go Where Jesus Is - Pig Norwood
18. Great Transaction's Done - Rev. J.O Hanes and Choir
19. Everytime I Feel The Spirit - Rev. H.B. Jackson
20. Come Let Us Eat Together - Rev. E.D. Campbell and Congregation
21. Bringing In The Sheaves - Mountain Singers Male Quartette
22. Will David Play His Harp For Me - Rev. and Mrs. Edward Boone
23. Who'll Join This Union - Nazarene Congregational Church Choir Of Brooklyn

George Shearing - Grand Piano

George Shearing recorded frequently while on Concord but this was his first full-length session of unaccompanied solos for the label. Most
of the ten selections are interpreted as ballads (Shearing takes an effective vocal on his original "Imitations") but he does cook a bit
on "Nobody Else but Me" and "Easy to Love." However the emphasis is on slow thoughtful tempos and introspective improvising. Scott Yanow

Second in the trilogy of Concord solo Shearing albums (the others being the similarly dry titles "Piano" and "More Grand Piano"), this album presents some lovely examples of his affection for tasteful jazz with classical overtones. "It Never Entered My Mind" is so close to a Satie "Gymnopedie" you might be fooled by a blindfold listening test if you didn't know the tune. "Mack the Knife" gets a grim, sparse reading that is the exact opposite of Bobby Darin's hit version. "How Insensitive" blatantly exposes the shared harmonic structures of the Jobim tune and a Chopin prelude. And in "Imitations", Shearing even sings... he should certainly keep his day job, but his wavering crooning and the searching lyrics are a good match. As on the other solo Concord Shearing albums, my only reservation is with the up-tempo numbers, which seem out of place and lack originality. Hardly a reason to pass up this wonderful CD, though. SVF

1 When a Woman Loves a Man 4:31
2 It Never Entered My Mind 4:48
3 Mack the Knife 4:44
4 Nobody Else But Me 3:31
5 Imitations 2:43
6 Taking a Chance on Love 2:39
7 If I Had You 4:50
8 How Insensitive 3:16
9 Easy to Love 3:50
10 While We're Young 5:03
Recorded May, 1985 at Coast Recorders, San Francisco, CA

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cecil Payne - Scotch And Milk

" ... The rhythm section is anchored by Mabern, who is one of the great post-bop pianists. Eric Alexander is a Mabern pupil and has absorbed much of the pianist's vast knowledge of the idiom, creating solos that bespeak historical awareness as well as formidable technique.

Cecil himself continues to plough his own thoughtful furrow. The skirling bebop reel that begins 'Scotch And Milk' is an indication of how receptive he is to ideas from outside the bebop mainstream, but his strength remains the driving swing of 'Et Vous Too, Cecil?' on the same album." ~ Penguin Guide

When Cecil Payne turned 70 in 1992, the baritone saxophonist was showing no signs of slowing down. Payne was 73 when he recorded Scotch and Milk, a fine hard bop date employing trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, tenor saxmen Lin Halliday and Eric Alexander, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist John Ore, and drummer Joe Farnsworth. Payne's chops are in top shape on this 1996 date, and the veteran saxman plays with a lot of passion on such exuberant originals as "Wilhemenia" (a Sonny Rollins-type jazz/calypso number), "Que Pasaning," and "Cit Sac" (which finds Payne switching to the flute). The only tune on the CD that Payne didn't write is the standard "If I Should Lose You," which serves as a nice example of his soulful ballad playing. Nothing groundbreaking takes places on Scotch and Milk; most of the material could have been recorded for Blue Note in the 1950s or 1960s instead of 1996. Scotch and Milk is a perfect example of a veteran improviser excelling by sticking with what he does best. ~ Alex Henderson

Cecil Payne (baritone sax, flute)
Harold Mabern (piano)
Marcus Belgrave (trumpet)
Eric Alexander (tenor sax)
Lin Halliday (tenor sax)
John Ore (bass)
Joe Farnsworth (drums)

1. Scotch And Milk
2. Wilhelmenia
3. I'm Goin' In
4. If I Should Lose You
5. Que Pasaning
6. Cit Sac
7. Lady Nia
8. Et Vous Too, Cecil?

Louis Armstrong - And The Singers Vol. 3

Reviewed by Seegs

Between 1924 and 1930, Louis Armstrong backed a wide range of singers on more than 90 recordings. They included the incomparable Bessie Smith, the powerful Sippie Wallace, and Bertha “Chippie” Hill. But in Visions of Jazz Gary Giddins remarks, “Armstrong was never more ingenious than when backing the worst…” *

“Louis Armstrong and the Singers,” volume 3 certainly contains a mixture of the best and the worst. Sippie Wallace and Chippie Hill are here with 6 tracks each, but so is Hociel Thomas (Sippie Wallace’s niece), Blanche Calloway (Cab’s sister) and someone called “Baby Mack” about whom I could find no information whatsoever. Other musicians include Johnny Dodds and Hersal Thomas (Hociel’s brother, a promising blues pianist who died at 17 from food poisoning). Richard M. Jones, who wrote many of these fairly indistinguishable blues numbers, plays piano on the tracks recorded by Chippie Hill, Blanche Calloway, and Baby Mack. Jones was an important early jazz figure and impresario. The Red Hot Jazz Archive ( tells us, “Richard Myknee Jones was from a musical family in New Orleans and played a variety of instruments before making the piano his main instrument. He played in Armand Piron's Olympia Orchestra and led his own band called The Four Hot Hounds which included Sugar Johnny Smith and occasionally King Oliver. During World War One he played with Papa Celestin. He left New Orleans in 1919 and moved to Chicago where he set up the Chicago branch of Clarence Williams publishing company and music store. He played in bands in Chicago during the 1920s, but his main gig was as manager of Okeh records race records division. He led his own studio band called Richard M. Jones' Jazz Wizards and accompanied a great number of singers and bands on piano. He continued to be active in music until his death both as a musician and talent scout. Jones is best remembered today as the composer of such Jazz standards as "Trouble In Mind" and "Riverside Blues".

Yet make no mistake: these recordings are all about Armstrong. The producers have not attempted to clean up the old shellac sides, so some of the tracks are extremely rough. Yet Armstrong’s trumpet shines through the extraneous noise with that instantly recognizable bell-clear and ringing tone. During this period, when Louis Armstrong was single-handedly transforming jazz, his sense of swing, his impeccable phrasing, and his unmatched trumpet technique demonstrate his greatness over and over again even in these most modest musical environments.

It took a Bessie Smith, a Sippie Wallace, or Chippie Hill to weather the storm of Armstrong’s art and survive still standing. The other singers, well, take pity on them and listen to Louis. Listen to every note because he never blew a bad one.

*What! You haven’t read Visions of Jazz? Turn in your official jazz fan membership card at once!

Chippie Hill
1. Low Land Blues
2. Kid Man Blues

Blanche Calloway
3. Lazy Woman Blues
4. Lonesome Lovesick Blues

Hociel Thomas
5. Gambler’s Dream
6. Sunshine Baby
7. Adam and Eve Had The Blues
8. Put It Where I Can Get It
9. Washwoman Blues
10. I’ve Stopped My Man

Chippie Hill
11. Lonesome, All Alone, and Blue
12. Trouble in Mind
13. Georgia Man

Baby Mack
14. You’ve Got to Go Home on Time
15. What Kind ‘O Man Is That?

Hociel Thomas
16. Deep Water Blues
17. G’wan, I Told You
18. Listen to Ma
19. Lonesome Hours

Sippie Wallace
20. A Jealous Woman Like Me
21. Special Delivery Blues
22. Jack ‘O Diamond Blues
23. The Mail Train Blues
24. I Feel Good
25. A Man for Every Day in the Week

Recorded November 29, 1925 – March 3, 1926 for Okeh Records

Terence Blanchard (1991)

After a stint with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers and several years co-leading a group with Donald Harrison, Terence Blanchard went solo with this self-titled debut album for Columbia. Still readily available but now out-of-print, this might be a good time to pick it up if you don't already have it.

During the four years since he last led a record date, trumpeter Terence Blanchard had broken up his quintet with altoist Donald Harrison, worked with Spike Lee on Mo' Better Blues and rebuilt his trumpet technique, emerging as a truly outstanding player. For this excellent "comeback" album, Blanchard uses a sympathetic rhythm section (pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Rodney Whitaker and either Jeff Watts or Troy Davis on drums) and welcomes guest tenors Branford Marsalis and Sam Newsome to three songs apiece. On the varied program, Blanchard opens and closes the set with a hymn ("Motherless Child" and "Amazing Grace"), performs four originals and comes up with personal interpretations of three standards ("Goodbye," "Au Privave" and "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You"). By the time this recording came out in 1992, Terence Blanchard was ready to take his place as one of the trumpet giants of the 1990's. - Scott Yanow

Terence Blanchard (trumpet)
Branford Marsalis, Sam Newsome (tenor sax)
Bruce Barth (piano)
Rodney Whitaker (bass)
Jeff Watts, Troy Davis (drums)
  1. Motherless Child
  2. Wandering Wonder
  3. Tomorrow's Just a Luxury
  4. Goodbye
  5. Au Privave
  6. Sing Soweto
  7. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
  8. Azania
  9. Amazing Grace

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Coleman Hawkins - Supreme

There's no need to be sentimental about Hawkins' later recordings; it's not as if his life was a tragic spiral, the way Young's or Holiday's was, and if his playing was audibly impaired in his final years he was doing his best not to reveal it. Supreme, a live session released for the first time, finds him in Baltimore, still playing chorus after chorus on 'Lover Come Back To Me' to open with. If this 'Body And Soul' has only a halting majesty about it, the phrasing broken into pieces, majesty there still is. Harris comps with the utmost sensitivity and, by the time of the playful treatment of 'Ow' at the close, it sounds as though the players have enjoyed it. ~ Penguin Guide

This 1966 live recording is from the end of Hawkins' career, and was to be his penultimate record. While this recording cannot compare to Hawkins' previous work, strong moments between the members of the rhythm section (Barry Harris on piano, Gene Taylor on bass, and Roy Brooks on drums) makes this an exciting listen. Moreover, despite Hawkins' own sub-par performance, the audience applauds enthusiastically after every chorus he plays, spurning him on to greater heights until, by the album's closer, he performs nearly up to snuff.

On the final tune, "Ow," Hawkins trades phrases with Harris displaying a rich and eloquent musical vocabulary. Harris himself plays a particularly inspired solo on the Quincy Jones ballad "Quintessence" and Hawkins' version of "Body & Soul," while not as authoritative as many of his earlier versions, is nonetheless passionate and yearning. For fans of "the Bean," this album, if nothing else, is of great historical interest.

Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Barry Harris (piano)
Gene Taylor (bass)
Roy Brooks (drums)

1. Lover Come Back To Me
2. Body And Soul
3. In Walked Bud
4. Quintessence
5. Fine And Dandy
6. Ow!

Baltimore: September 25, 1966

BN LP 5013 | Miles Davis - Young Man With A Horn

BN LP 5013 | Miles Davis - Young Man With A Horn

I always wondered how Alfred Lion managed to get Miles Davis - in Richard Cook's biography of it explained - Miles was having a desperate year, he was without a regular band and in the grips of chronic heroin addiction.
Against his later session the following year or his Prestige output, this session is not his greatest - but he must enjoyed it enough to want to return two times (leader session + as guest on BLP 1595 for Cannonball Adderley).
I enjoy still his tone and intonation.
You will have heard the tracks on either the 1500 series re-release, along with the alternate takes or the CD re-issue and in the fuller context, these tracks are perhaps better set.

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

Louis Armstrong's All Stars - Basin Street Blues

This live recording opens with Louis Armstrong's spoken introduction of the song title. The immediate roar of approval from the audience is a good illustration of how, by the mid-1950s, so many reveled in Louis and his All Stars, and how the band had brought this music to a wide public and made something of a cultural icon of "Basin Street Blues," one of the songs that presents the essence and spirit of original New Orleans jazz. As Barney Bigard, the great clarinetist who formerly played with the All Stars and Ellington, said: "…it was just that the time was right. That band was to be the main group that brought jazz to the people, all over America and all over the world." And: "The band bridged the gap between show business and art."

It did indeed. With Louis Armstrong as the musical master of ceremonies and maestro of the trumpet, they brought this art to the audience in a most engaging way. "Engaging" is meant literally, as Armstrong's personal magic, love of the music, and unique connection with his audience brought them into active involvement with the experience of making this music (and thus, was an updated version of the original New Orleans jazz setting as a collective activity). One can hear this in the audience response; beyond the rousing applause at Satch's announcement of the tune title and the storm of applause at the end, the audience is part of the action when Armstrong, after singing "…in New Orleans, the land of dreams," goes into a scat line with flair (no doubt accompanied by some delicious mugging) with the audience's delighted response completing that part of the performance.

Musically, Armstrong is in fine form, playing with excellent tone, style and verve. Trummy Young adds his usual superb trombone work, as does Billy Kyle on piano; and adding to the rousing spirit of this refined New Orleans jazz, we are also treated to two bang-up drum solos by Barrett Deems. One negative here is the thin, shrill tone of Edmund Hall's clarinet. He swings like crazy, but the tone is hard on the ears. (For ultimate examples of good clarinet tone, check out Barney Bigard on "Mood Indigo" or "Black and Tan Fantasy", or Sidney Bechet on "Blue Horizon".) ~ Dean Alger

Louis Armstrong (trumpet)
Trummy Young (trombone)
Ed Hall (clarinet)
Billy Kyle (piano)
Dale Jones (bass)
Barrett Deems (drums)
Velma Middleton (vocal)

1. When It's Sleepy Time Down South
2. (Back Home Again In) Indiana
3. Gypsy
4. Basin Street Blues
5. Tiger Rag
6. Struttin' With Some Barbecue
7. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?
8. On the Sunny Side Of The Street
9. Black and Blue
10. When The Saints Go Marching In
11. You Can Depend On Me
12. Baby, It's Cold Outside
13. Mahogany Hall Stomp

Track Of The Day

Denny Zeitlin - At Maybeck

Although Denny Zeitlin, MD is probably a fine psychiatrist, it is the jazz world's loss that he is not a full-time musician. This live solo performance is one of his greatest triumphs, starting with his infectious opener, "Blues on the Side," which is far too complex to be compared to typical blues. He tackles John Coltrane's "Lazy Bird" at a furious tempo worthy of its composer. Zeitlin's refreshingly deliberate approach to "'Round Midnight" best captures its dark undertones. The pianist's lyrical side is also evident. "Sophisticated Lady" captures the essence of Duke Ellington's landmark work, while "Just Passing By" is a subtle original that conjures images of a brisk stroll at the beginning of autumn. Zeitlin then shifts into high gear for an intense medley of "What Is This Thing Called Love" and "Fifth House" to close with a flourish. ~ Ken Dryden

Denny Zeitlin (piano)

1. Blues On The Side
2. Girl Next Door
3. My Man's Gone Now
4. Lazy Bird
5. 'Round Midnight
6. Love For Sale
7. And Then I Wondered If You Knew
8. Country Fair
9. Sophisticated Lady
10. End Of A Love Affair
11. Just Passing By
12. What Is This Thing Called Love?/Fifth House

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Max Roach - Archie Shepp: Force

This is the UNI 28.976 double vinyl released in 1976, which never made it to CD (did it?).

This extraordinary record is also posted in a well-known blog, but I bring you my own rip, in FLAC with cover and back cover scans.

Again, as in my previous post of Suite for Swingers, by George Adams, I could find only one "official", ultralaconic review:

"Duets with Archie Shepp (sax). Extended pieces from two virtuosos. Quintessential". ~ Michael G. Nastos

Archie Shepp (sx)
Max Roach (dr)

"Sweet Mao"
FACE A (1.) La Preparation
FACE B (2.) La Marche
FACE C (3.) Le Commencement


Recorded in Paris, 1976.

Sam Rivers - Configuration

On Configurations, Sam Rivers, that redoubtable New York wind player, has found his ultimate band. Tony Hymas, European iconoclast pianist, co-founder of that great fusion band The Lonely Bears, and frequent collaborator with English sax genius Tony Coe, here acquits himself with aplomb in the presence of a very high-powered band. Paul Rogers, veteran free-jazz bassist, fits in perfectly. The ringer is French drummer Jacques Thollot, a name new to me, but one who seemlessly meshes into this rarified context.

This disc holds a few surprises. For example, it starts out with Rivers' most melodic and engaging composition, "Beatrice," a gorgeous ballad that sets a very high standard for the proceedings--and probably throws off a lot of potential happy listeners. On the next cut, Configuration morphs into more typical Rivers free-expressionistic jazz with "Cheshire Hotel," a composition by the monster European free jazz guitarist, Noel Akchote. Some listeners, beguiled by the sheer beauty and melodicism of "Beatrice," might throw in the towel on "Cheshire Hotel"--an understandable but wrong-headed move.

Listen, you need to stick with Rivers, trust the man who gave you "Beatrice" as a kind of free pass, as it were, into his world of outre jazz. "Etchings," featuring Rives on flute (he is certainly one of the very best jazz flautists), will convince you. "Configuration," the title cut and center piece of this remarkable outing, features Akchote, Hymas, and Rogers at their most outre--and most engaging--at least to these ears. Starting out with some very atmospheric acoustic guitar and upper-register piano stylings, the tune changes character and shape as Rivers comes in on tenor sax. Demonstrating a most enduring and engaging sonoroty on his instrument, Rivers knocks off a brilliant yet thoroughly accessible free-jazz solo, punctuated by cutting-edge guitar stylings from Akchote and impossibly hip drumming courtesy of Thollot. Make no mistake, this is an all-out sonic assualt, although of the highest order, and the timid will likely be permanently scared off. But stick with it, and you'll be treated to one of the most amazing free-jazz improv passages featuring Akchote and Rivers (on flute!) available anwhere on jazz. If this music doesn't get to you, you must be comotose!

"Jennifer" returns to the ravishing balladic gorgeousness of "Beatrice," this time, thanks to the compositional prowess of Tony Hymas. In between this cut and the last four, which continue the balladic beauty of "Beatrice" and "Jennifer," reside three rather prickly numbers: "Zing," "Sketches," and "Rififi." For the veteran Rivers' afficionado, these will present little difficulty. But for the weekend-warrior jazzer, for whom Joe Lovano presents a real challenge, these will probably be the last straw.

So be forewarned: This is some of the greatest free-jazz available out there, but it comes wrapped in impossibly enticing balladic trappings. Those should do little to put off the hard-core free-jazz fan, but they may well sink this disc for the more conventionally oriented listener. My advice to all: stick with Rivers, through thick and thin. You will be amply rewarded. ~ Jan P. Dennis

Sam Rivers (tenor and soprano sax, flute)
Tony Hymas (piano)
Noël Akchoté (guitar)
Paul Rogers (bass)
Jacques Thollot (drums)

1. Beatrice
2. Cheshire Hotel
3. Etchings
4. Configuration
5. Jennifer
6. Zing
7. Sketches
8. Rififi
9. Gleam
10. Ripples
11. Moonbeams
12. Nightfall

Mal Waldron - Maturity 4: White Road Black Rain

Another volumen of our beloved musician’s ultimate work, now with the breathtaking voice of Jeanne Lee.

You'll find deep, dark, wonderful music inside. Wisdom after life. Wisdom before death.

Mal Waldron (piano)
Jeanne Lee (vocals)
Toru Tenda (flute)

1. Japanese Lullaby
2. White Road
3. Black Rain
4. Sometime I Feel like a Motherless Child

Aug. 6, 1995 (2. & 3.) at ZENSHO-JI/Hiroshima
Aug. 21, 1995 (1. & 4.) at studio F/Gifu

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jane Bunnett - The Water Is Wide

Sounds a bit like Lacy, says Scotty Y? He might have mentioned that she spent a year studying with him. This is also notably NOT an Afro-Cuban (which she does exceedingly well) side, but more in the bop - or post-bop, or TransDanubian retrodixie or whatever it may be characterised as - school. The latterday master Don Pullen appears, and this Cramer guy ain't bad either. Canada; go figure.

This intriguing set has more than its share of variety. Jane Bunnett pays tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk with some speechlike flute on "Serenade to a Cuckoo," recalls Steve Lacy a bit with her soprano on two Thelonious Monk pieces ("Pannonica" and "Brake's Sake") and her originals (along with those of trumpeter Larry Cramer) range from advanced bop to fairly free improvising. Vocalists Sheila Jordan (wonderful on "You Must Believe in Spring") and Jeanne Lee have individual features and are both major parts of the ancient hymn "The Water Is Wide" while the rhythm section (pianist Don Pullen, bassist Kieran Overs and drummer Billy Hart) consistently displays flexibility and creative reactions to the directions of the lead voices. ~ Scott Yanow

Jane Bunnett (soprano sax, flute)
Don Pullen (piano)
Larry Cramer (trumpet)
Kieran Overs (bass)
Billy Hart (drums)
Sheila Jordan (vocal)
Jeanne Lee (vocal)

1. Elements Of Freedom
2. Time Again
3. Real Truth
4. Serenade To A Cuckoo
5. You Must Believe In Spring
6. Influence Peddling
7. Pannonica
8. Brake's Sake
9. Burning Tear
10. Lucky Strike
11. Water Is Wide
12. Rockin' In Rhythm

Sidney Bechet - The Complete Sidney Bechet - Volume 5+

This is the last of three posts from this series of the Complete Sidney Bechet. There are actually only ten songs on the first CD with Bechet on them. The rest of the CD and a half is filled out by some Mezz Mezzrow led sessions from 1938, and a Frankie Newton led session from early 1939. The notes point out that these were sessions produced by Hugues Panassie for his French "Swing" label. The four songs from these sessions with Bechet present (under Tommy Ladnier's leadership) are on the first post. To me, the songs on this post from those sessions are equally delightful.

The notes give some interesting insight into these famous sessions, and are even critical of the presence of Mezzrow. The author does recount a story told by Mezzrow in his autobiography, though, about the November 21st session which produced the songs Revolutionary Blues, Comin' On with the Come On and Careless Love. Sessions back then were always four songs so it was always a wonder to me why only three were recorded. In fact, Careless Love, the third song, was not even issued originally, and neither Tommy Ladnier nor James P. Johnson were present on the second take. A curious discrographical anomaly, to say the least. As Mezzrow tells it, apparently Sidney de Paris was playing "too modern" on Comin' On with the Come On which made Ladnier and Johnson so furious that they left. That is why there is one take of Careless Love with the whole band, a second take with the band sans Ladnier and Johnson, and no fourth song. Priceless! Although, come to think of it, I have never really thought of Sidney de Paris as modern in any sense of the word. I guess I will have to cogitate on that one for a while. Couldn't find any reviews from paid professionals so this will have to suffice.

If I could, though, while realizing that this is not the Request section of the site, it is my hope that if someone has it that they share their copy of the Bechet Blue Note sides with alternate takes. I think it would help finish the Bechet story for those of us who following along so far.

Sidney Bechet (clarinet, soprano sax)
Mezz Mezzrow (clarinet)
Tommy Ladnier (trumpet)
Sidney de Paris (trumpet)
Vic Dickenson (trombone)
James P. Johnson (piano)
Teddy Bunn (guitar)
Zutty Singleton (drums)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ray Bryant - All Mine....And Yours

This is for our brother Chuchuni; we keep missing each other, but this should keep the vibe alive. I learned about Ray Bryant from him. This is a Japanese issue with notes by someone who is rising fast in my estimation: Kiyoshi Koyama.

A Philadelphia man, Bryant is a major and often undersung player of bebop piano, with blues and gospel subtexts never far away. A frequent leader and record-maker for 40-plus years. ~ Penguin Guide

Coming from a musical family gave Bryant an advantage - his mother played piano and his sister sang in a gospel choir. He started on bass, but passed it to his older brother Tom, in order to play piano. The Bryant Brothers became the house band for Philadelphia's Blue Note Club, where they played with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. It was these contacts that led to recordings in the mid-50s with Davis, Sonny Rollins and as an accompanist to Carmen McRae. He led a trio at New York's Village Vanguard in 1959. He formed his original trio in 1959 and was signed to Columbia Records by John Hammond. His debut album for that label was a considerable success and the same year (1960) he had a surprise hit with the infectious and memorable "Little Susie", named after his daughter, and "Cubano Chant" and "Slow Freight". The single was released as a two-part disc; part one being the one that got radio play. He followed with the highly commercial "Madison Time", a celebration of the dance craze. he moved to the soul and R&B label Sue in 1963, his music had always been strongly driven by blues and gospel. By the early 70s he was once again in the minds of the jazz critics when he made a strong performance at the 1972 Montreaux Jazz Festival. He now works more in Europe where he is much more appreciated.

Initially inspired by the style of Teddy Wilson, Bryant's gospel inflections give his playing a modern, rootsy edge. For a number of years much of his work was unavailable; fortunately, with the advent of the compact disc, Bryant's highly underrated work was made available again. He continues to perform and record prolifically as both a soloist and leader of a trio.

Ray Bryant (piano)
Rufus Reid (bass)
Winard Harper (drums)

1. Walrus Walk
2. Darlin' Marilyn
3. Adalia
4. Reflection
5. I Don't Care
6. Nuts and Bolts
7. Pawn Ticket
8. Big Buddy

Marion Brown - Why Not

Issued in 1968, Why Not? is Marion Brown's second outing for the ESP label as a leader. The saxophonist also guested on a Burton Greene date earlier that same year. Featuring pianist Stanley Cowell, Coltrane alumnus Rashied Ali (Coltrane had been dead less than a year at this time), and bassist Norris Sirone Jones, Brown reveals his great strengths as a composer and bandleader, which are matched by his abilities as a soloist. The opener, "La Sorella," features a gorgeous opening solo by Cowell. Using large and intricate chorded modal phrases, Cowell creates a virtual chromatic field for the rest of the rhythm section -- Jones, in particular, responds in kind with scintillating three-string figures that add a deeper series of conical figures for ballast. Brown enters just behind Ali in full cry on the alto. Using a Coltrane-esque song figure to respond to Cowell's stunningly beautiful foundation, Brown blows lean but long lines before a long solo by Jones cuts them all quiet. When the band enters, they are in prelude form, with spun-out piano lines ever in anticipation and Brown calling something out of the ether that never quite materializes, which is fine because on "Fortunata" it does: a ballad that develops into something wholly other without changing tempo. This is jazz as expressionism; it doesn't need to be "free" because it has been untethered from the opening bars. Brown's solo here lilts on the branches of Cowell's arresting, nearly Debussian chromatic figures that extend harmonic ranges almost without end. By the time the band gets to the title track, a free workout in a dizzying tempo, the listener is grounded enough in Brown's composed lyricism so as not to be surprised at all when the fury of the tempo is elongated by the temperance in tension the band creates. Finally, on "Homecoming," where the ballad begins to show its face once more, each member steps in to underline and deconstruct it by using contrapuntal lyricism as a contrast. Even Ali, one of the great powerhouse drummers, dances rather than sprints around the band, even in his lengthy solo. This is a phenomenal album, a place where Marion Brown got to reveal early on why he was such a formidable force: He understood the inherent importance of musical traditions and he also understood how imperative it was to them and to jazz to extend them in a manner that left their roots clearly visible. ~ Thom Jurek

Marion Brown (alto sax)
Stanley Cowell (piano)
Norris Sirone Jones (bass)
Rashied Ali (drums)

1. La Sorrella
2. Fortunato
3. Why Not
4. Homecoming

The Classics Sampler

Reviewed by Morris

I have not bought a various artist CD in quite some time. For a person with a decent sized collection and limited resources, they just do not typically make economic sense. Why purchase a CD where you have a lot of the songs already, especially when there are plenty of CDs out there where you do not have any of the songs? Where various artist CDs typically do make sense is when you are not familiar with a certain genre and you are wanting a sampler of some of the best of that type of music so that you can determine whether you want more.

At first glance, that seems to be the purpose behind this particular CD. Simply titled the Classics Sampler, one immediately gets the impression that this CD is meant to be offered as a promotional CD in order that people may listen and hopefully purchase something they liked on the CD. The CD was issued in conjunction with with the company's fifth year of existence and 300th CD issued. I won't go into the history of the Classics label much, but some great information on the label can be found on Alpax's Dizzy Gillesipe post from May 28th, 2007. (It is interesting that when I did research for this review I discovered that Gilles Petard, the owner/operator of Classics, was also the president of Motown France. You can see several interviews done of him regarding Michael Jackson's recent passing. Most articles I found refer to him as a soul music collector and not a jazz collector. He also owns and runs a label called Body and Soul which issues soul/r&b. Who knew?)

Still, when I listened to it for the first time, I realized that it was something more than just a sampler haphazardly put together to try and promote record sales, much like some of those mixed artist LPs that mixed CD which your friend made you to share with you some music he had been listening to that he thought you might enjoy as well. Nowhere on the CD does it say that Petard hand-picked the songs, but one does not have to stretch their imagination much to think that he did. There is some wonderful music on this CD, and none of it really falls under the category of songs that have been "overplayed". Think of it as a collection of bands that you know but songs that maybe you have not heard in a while: Waller's Viper's Drag; Basie's The Jitters; Ellington's Jolly Wog; Henderson's I'm Coming Virginia; etc.

I suggest you listen to it like I did. I put it on without picking up the track list so that I would not know who the band was or, more importantly, what song was coming next. The two songs that I found myself enjoying the most was Boogie Woogie Stomp by Albert Ammons and Old Joe's Hittin' the Jug by Stuff Smith.

In one article I read, the writer said that in an interview with Petard he had said that his preferred method of listening to music was playing 78s. The reason he gave was that you had to put thought into what song you wanted to listen to next. As a long-time 78 collector, I can truly appreciate this perspective. This CD should be retitled "An Evening with Gilles Petard". As you listen to this, you can picture him putting each 78 on the turntable in succession, all the while thinking of which song he wanted to listen to next. Unlike other Classics CDs where the purpose of the CD is to put the songs of a single artist in historical perspective, this CD accentuates the individual songs by placing them next to other songs that are only similar because they share some of the same instruments. It serves to create a most enjoyable listen.

1. John Kirby - Undecided
2. Duke Ellington - Digga Digga Do
3. Lionel Hampton - Fiddle-Dee-Dee
4. Teddy Wilson - Don't Blame Me
5. Eddie Condon - The Eel
6. Cab Calloway - The Jumpin' Jive
7. Django Reinhardt - Minor Swing
8. Fats Waller - Viper's Drag
9. Ethel Waters - Am I Blue
10. Tiny Parham - Fat Man Blues
11. Red Allen - You Might Get Better. But You'll Never Get Well
12. Duke Ellington - Jolly Wog
13. Albert Ammons - Boogie Woogie Stomp
14. Count Basie - The Jitters
15. Stuff Smith - Old Joe's Hittin' The Jug
16. Fletcher Henderson - I'm Coming Virginia
17. Sidney Bechet - Blackstick
18. Jimmie Noone - Here Comes The Hot Tamale Man
19. Clarence Williams - Wild Cat Blues
20. Johnny Dodds - (Dixieland Jug Blowers) Memphis Shake

The Joe Roccisano Orchestra - The Shape I'm In (1992)

The first time I heard Joe Roccisano was back in the late sixties on the Don Ellis album Electric Bath. He played alto in the sax section and had a soprano solo on "Turkish Bath". Since that time Roccisano's name would pop up now and then as a player or arranger with various groups but it wasn't until around 1978 that he would form his own band. Fourteen years later he recorded his first album as a leader but would release only two more before a heart attack took him in 1997 at the age of 58.

For his debut CD, Roccisano did all the arrangements and composed all but two selections, Robbie Robertson's title tune and "Blue Lou" by Donald Fagen. Featured soloists besides the leader are Tom Harrell, Jim Pugh, Lou Marini, Ken Hitchcock, Tim Ries and Bill Charlap.

"I've been a Roccisano fan for over twenty years; chances are that you've only recently been exposed to his music - possibly with this recording. Be advised that this is not pipe-and-slippers music, but rather a tingling-nerve-ends kind of experience that will benefit from a certain amount of listener awareness. Joe's unique melodic and harmonic sense, imaginative orchestration, fresh textures and, yes some evidence of The Tradition all come together with the brilliant band personnel to provide us with a program that will hold our interest for years to come." - Bill Holman

Joe Roccisano, Lou Marini, Tim Ries, Ken Hitchcock, Jack Stuckey (reeds)
Bob Millikan, Bud Burridge, Tom Harrell (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Jim Pugh, Matt Finders, Paul Faulise (trombone)
Bill Charlap (piano)
John Basile (guitar)
Scott Lee, Paul Adamy (bass)
Terry Clarke (drums)
  1. Borderland
  2. Morning Glorys' Story
  3. Prism
  4. The Shape I'm In
  5. Don't Stop Now
  6. Blue Lou
  7. A New Beginning
  8. Synthesis
  9. Isabel
  10. Piece of the Pie
  11. Earth Day
Recorded August 1992

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bobby Hutcherson - Mosaic Select 26

Reviewed by ScriptSimon

If I’m brutally honest (and though I hate to admit it and don’t really have a valid explanation as to why), vibes and flute have always been my least two favourite instruments within the context of jazz. Maybe it’s ‘cause they can veer close to wishy-washiness with too much ease – but then again, there’s Kenny G, so that’s true of any instrument I guess. For whatever reason, I’ve never found myself able to warm much to Hampton or the MJQ, much as I admire them for what they achieved and recognise their importance in the history of the music. The fault is clearly with me, not them, as many of you reading this will be aghast at the very prospect of a jazz collection with no MJQ records (I do have some Hampton!).

Anyway, when Rab asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing this Bobby Hutcherson Mosaic Select collection, which spans five albums from 1974-1977, I immediately accepted. Despite my vibular trepidation, Hutcherson is someone that I have always found fascinating – to these ears he never played vibes like they were vibes, approaching them more like a pianist, reedsman or drummer. Needless to say, this 3-disc set didn’t disappoint.

The first disc here begins with the album Cirrus from ’74 (the cover of which has an extreme close-up of Bobby grinning at us in what was evidently his favourite ‘70s hat – nice) and closes out with the majority of ‘75’s Inner Glow . I know little to nothing about Hutcherson biographically, coming at him with only a little knowledge of his more celebrated ‘60s Blue Notes (Oblique, Dialogue etc.), so I was literally approaching these discs ears-first. What is immediately apparent from the start of Rosewood is the dichotomy that makes Hutcherson intriguing: this is mid-70s music, and though the arrangement of instruments and recording techniques scream that to us, the music never settles on a distinct decade. It is aware of its past, but stretching to the future - restless, jittery, never sentimental - even on the lovely, funereal slouch of Even Later. There’s a space-age-ness about the music that hasn’t dated somehow – Hutcherson’s solos here sound positively alien the first time they burst out of the ensemble and into your ears.

As we move through the recordings, it’s easy to see why the Mosaic collection is a good idea; the music on the first disc certainly sounds all of a piece, even though only drummer Larry Hancock and the tenor of Harold Land (both of whom can be described here as muscular but modal) are retained for the later session, Oscar Brashear replacing Woody Shaw on the trumpet stool and percussionist Kenneth Nash laying out altogether. Ultimately this means that Inner Glow is a mellower affair than Cirrus , on which the intensity builds from piece to piece – and we get the impression that maybe this mellowness will take a greater hold as we move through the later ‘70s sessions. Which turns out to be true and also not true.

At times this music is reminiscent of Herbie Hancock’s albums of the era, but rather than moving further towards straight-ahead funk, these records are truer fusion – there’s a mellowness for sure, but there’s spades of intensity, building in a circular motion. By this I mean that while the music is never pedestrian, it also never takes the path we might expect, winding up the tension rather than rocking out, forming a holding pattern from which the soloists can unleash their creative whips at us in the darkness. ‘Holding pattern’ is perhaps just another means of expressing Waiting, the third record represented here – and perhaps the centrepiece of this boxset as a whole comes midway through this third of the five sessions. Don’t Be Afraid (To Fall In Love Again) is gorgeous; the closest the set comes to straight-up r&b, yet still still circular as it turns its rock’n’roll riff into a repetitive and highly infectious vamp that beautifully goes nowhere, over which Hutcherson and Manny Boyd’s soprano soar gloriously for chorus after chorus. The piece seems almost themeless but, as is so often the case, the theme is so oblique as to be almost invisible. It’s almost a statement of intent, a microcosm of what’s being explored here from tune to tune.

As we move into the final sessions, there is the slightest dip in inspiration, it seems: The View From The Inside does contain some concessions to that “funkay” ‘70s sound, and perhaps features the weakest pieces here - as Bobby keeps his ‘Mr. Loverman’ jacket on just a little too long - but Knucklebean puts us right back into more experimental territory and the over-arching concept of the set holds true. Some repetition in ideas or riffs actually serves to strengthen rather than weaken the set as a whole, as the stretch of sessions suddenly seems almost deliberately conceptual – as if Hutcherson had this idea, this sound in his head that he just had to work through - building themes and exploring methods of the capture and release of tension. In this context, The View From The Inside seems perfectly placed as the calm before the fiery outbursts of Knucklebean. The 3 discs taken consecutively are surprisingly satisfying.

Perhaps the most satisfying element is that, across several sessions spanning four years, there’s a unity of sound and intention here, despite the varying lineups (Freddie Hubbard and George Cables are two of the names added to the final, briefest session, that produced Knucklebean), that is the best example I can think of to express Hutcherson’s brilliance as an understated session leader – the players vary, but all the sessions are truly Hutcherson sessions. Additionally, every player fills their space completely – no-one is a fifth wheel; every member of the ensemble understands what is required of them and what the leader’s intentions are - in fact I might go so far as to say that a true Hutcherson record is an ensemble record – which is perhaps why he never attained the same popular status as a Hancock, or Hubbard, or Morgan (much as I love the work of those guys), though on the evidence of these less-well-known sessions, he very much deserved it.

Joe Albany with Warne Marsh - The Right Combination

There's a photo of them in Garretson's living room in Amy Jo Albany's (excellent) book; it didn't click until now.

"This informal, impromptu session by tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, pianist Joe Albany and bassist Bob Whitlock took place in the Long Beach, California home of engineer Ralph Garretson during the fall of 1957. Their relaxed interplay on Clifford Brown's "Daahoud" and six standards is spellbinding."

Although he was a pioneer of the bebop era and made a few isolated sides with Georgie Auld and Lester Young in 1945-1946, pianist Joe Albany can be heard on extremely few recordings before 1971. This CD reissue, which was actually a rehearsal, was Albany's only recorded date as a leader before the 1970s. The set of trios with tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh and bassist Bob Whitlock consists of seven jazz standards and, although not flawless, is of generally high quality. Marsh and Albany worked together quite well (their conceptions were similar), and these versions of such songs as Clifford Brown's "Daahoud," "Body and Soul," and "All the Things You Are" are quite rewarding. From the historical standpoint, this release is essential. ~ Scott Yanow

Joe Albany (piano)
Warne Marsh (tenor sax)
Bobby Whitlock (bass)

1. Daahoud
2. Angel Eyes
3. I Love You
4. Body And Soul
5. It's You Or No One
6. All The Things You Are
7. Nearness Of You

David Shire - The Conversation

"He'd kill us if he had the chance." This line, the most memorable from one of the very best films of the early 1970's, highlights the Francis Ford Coppola thriller starring Gene Hackman and a young Harrison Ford. The Conversation is a film for which sound editing was paramount, because the plot of Coppola's story revolves around a private investigator (Hackman) whose life is completely consumed by the controlled environment of his eavesdropping technologies. The story and its characters are gut-wrenching in their sorrow, malice, and determination, and the film has a whopper of twist at the end that left audiences feeling as though they'd been had. Technologically, the elements of sound are the most complex feature of the film, with much of its overall production period spent in the post-shooting process of using the newest electronics to manipulate the sounds which Hackman's character is heard recording on his equipment. Composer David Shire, a brother-in-law of Coppola, was approached to score the film at a time in his career when he was looking for a big break. When first learning of the opportunity to score The Conversation, Shire was sure that the Coppola film would afford him a big budget with which to write for a large orchestra, and his career would subsequently take off. When he instead discovered that Coppola wanted the entire score to be performed by one instrument, Shire was shocked. Little did he know, however, that The Conversation was indeed destined be the career breakthrough he was looking for after all. The score is studied even today as an example of minimalistic scoring at its very finest. The purpose of the score was simply to extend the persona of Hackman's character, Harry Caul, and it succeeds very well at this task.

That main character is a painfully lonely man, paid for eavesdropping in a large city environment, and because of this occupation and setting, Caul has (along with his own sax performances) visions of his own life in an alternatively jazzy sort of world. To accompany Caul's emotional journey, Shire's score consists largely of one instrument: the piano. Shire's own piano performances are, in many ways, the heart of the film, and in the final cut, they are an elegant way of allowing all the complex layers of sounds from Caul's work to take the spotlight. The title theme is a simple, but flighty piano piece with just a hint of jazzy rhythm that is, in its construction, a very enjoyable piece. But since the film has such a dark underbelly, that theme turns sour as the story transforms into a manipulative tale of counterintelligence and Caul is exploited to the point of madness. To address this side, this score was one of the earlier experiments in synthesized elements being used to augment or distort a traditional performance. For the scenes of fright, as Caul becomes nervous for the lives of those upon whom he is spying (along with the belief that he is to be their agent of doom), Shire's music was altered by Walter Murch, the film's editor, to utilize experimental electronic grinding and distortion techniques, weaving in and out of mono and stereo presentations. Since the centerpiece of the spy-like recordings in the story occurs in a crowded park, sounds of street bands and other audio artifacts were mixed brilliantly with the lonely themes for Caul, sitting far above it all. Understandably, these solitary piano solos don't work quite as well on album.

Because of Coppola's somewhat unpredictable method of approving the music, some of the temporary mono recordings by Shire before the film was even shot were used in the final cut of the film. And with the street sounds integrated with the score so well, they could not be easily separated for an album release. In its latter half, the score also contains a significant amount of low key pounding and other droning on the piano, representing the frantic pace at which the jazzy mystique is lost. Only in the final cue does Shire's piano provide an echo of the Caul character's sanity that existed in the first six or so major cues. The 2001 debut album for The Conversation was the second in the eventually lengthy series of "Special Collection" releases from Intrada Records. It had been a frequently requested score on CD for many years. Its incredible use in the film proves that minimalism can indeed work to perfection, and because the film is studied by students across the globe, the score was naturally in demand. To listen to the album in its entirety, though, is difficult, because without knowing the immediate context of the visuals on screen, the lesser-thematic sequences of Shire's performances are indistinguishable from the distorting sound effects. Ironically, the best cue on the album is one that was never used in the film. Shire recorded his title theme with a small ensemble to give it a fuller personality, and that final track on the album is not surprisingly the highlight. You simply must have an appreciation for this film to be able to enjoy this score, and even if you are an enormous fan it, only ten minutes or so of the score is all that is required on album. Nevertheless, it is still an important work, not only in its relation to the fine production as a whole, but also in that it led to countless other assignments for its obviously talented composer. Filmtracks

David Shire (solo piano)

Jazz Ensemble:
Don Menza (tenor sax)
Jack Nimitz (baritone sax)
Conte Candoli (trumpet)
Pete Jolly (piano)
Ray Brown (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)

01. Theme from The Conversation 3:30
02. The End of the Day 1:36
03. No More Questions/Phoning the Director 2:16
04. Blues for Harry (Combo) 2:38
05. To the Office/The Elevator 2:37
06. Whatever Was Arranged 2:06
07. The Confessional 2:18
08. Amy's Theme 2:48
09. Dream Sequence 2:32
10. Plumbing Problem 2:51
11. Harry Carried 2:44
12. The Girl in the Limo 2:23
13. Finale and End Credits 3:52
14. Theme from The Conversation (Ensemble) 2:27

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cecil Taylor

This post is from one year ago today - links'r'still kickin'.

Cecil Taylor - Love For Sale

I've always enjoyed this one, and find it strange that it's somewhat neglected.

"This may be the straightest record Cecil Taylor ever recorded, but it is far from uninspiring. Despite its hopelessly gauche cover -- one can only presume Taylor had no say-so in the choice of artwork used -- Taylor's approach to three Cole Porter tunes with a trio and three of his own with a quintet is a lively combination, and one which, in lieu of his later work, reveals the construction of his system of improvisation better than his later records do when he is playing from the middle of it. Accompanied by Dennis Charles on drums and Buell Neidlinger on bass, Taylor dives deep into Porter's "I Love Paris," a shifty little pop song. Taylor goes head to head with Neidlinger in a contrapuntal statement of the melody -- illustrated by chord changes which are extrapolated from the melodic sequence -- against harmony before actually flowing into the main theme of the tune for a moment before kicking the rhythm section loose and treating the tune percussively, almost as if it were a series of rhythm changes instead of harmonic ones. On the title track it's much the same, except Taylor's tenderness shines through in his lilting right hand in the middle as he trades fours with Charles. There's a wonderful cut-time tempo here, and Taylor starts building scales harmonically in his solo only to answer them with the melody and original harmony. With his own three tunes, with trumpeter Ted Curson and saxophonist Bill Barron added to the fray, Taylor takes more chances. On "Little Lees (Louise)," he scores in an elaborate melody that is played without dissonance by the horn section as he and Neidlinger play entirely in counterpoint. But here, too, there is a sublime lyricism at work; there are no extra notes or chords, and everything falls in line with the chromatic architecture Taylor composes with. "Maities Trophie" is Taylor ringing in a blues jam à la Ellington -- or at least his version of Ellington. The solos by Curson and Barron are tight, narrative, and bordering on swing, but all that's taken care of by Taylor's solo. Love for Sale is a delightful anomaly in Cecil Taylor's long career." ~ Thom Jurek

Cecil Taylor (piano)
Bill Barron (tenor sax)
Ted Curson (trumpet)
Buell Neidlinger (bass)
Dennis Charles (drums)

1. Get Out of Town
2. I Love Paris
3. Love For Sale
4. Little Lees (Louise)
5. Maties Trophies (Motystrophe)
6. Carol / Three Points

Recorded at Nola Studios, New York, New York on April 15, 1959

Cecil Taylor - The Eighth

Half man and half force of nature, pianist Cecil Taylor has made his music a mass of opposites and contradictions. Simultaneously exhausting and liberating, primeval and space age, visceral and intellectually rigorous, it's like nothing that went before it and precious little that came afterward.

As revolutionary a stylist as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane combined, Taylor has, like those two saxophonists, overcome initial incomprehension to take his rightful place as an acknowledged titan of contemporary music. But his total rejection of traditional structures and sonorities, and his refusal to countenance such a frailty as listener fatigue, has meant that his following has remained a small, albeit devoted one.

This 24-bit reissue of Taylor's brilliant 1981 live album, The Eighth, shows why. ”Calling It The 8th” is a 59-minute double-fisted, elbows-on-the-keyboard, off-the-gauge hurricane of passion, counter-rhythm and chromaticism. Its ten-minute reprise, “Calling It The 9th,” achieves the same level of overwhelming intensity. But if you can surrender yourself to the onslaught and stay the course, you'll emerge invigorated and uplifted, bloody but stronger. It's a prize worth fighting for.

Taylor's sound is so gigantic and sui generis that it's hard to pin down in words. He's frequently cited Bud Powell and Duke Ellington as primary inspirations, yet their influence is far from explicit. He shares Powell's dense intensity, but not his overriding darkness. He matches Ellington's genius for structure, but on an in-the-moment canvas. Taylor's approach is arguably closer to Little Richard's—but with a Zeus-like keyboard technique and a headful of off-planet hallucinogens.

Like Ellington, however, Taylor values longevity in his band members. Alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons had been playing with Taylor for twenty years at the time of this recording (and would continue to do so until his death five years later), and the interaction between the two is so attuned it's practically subliminal. Their four ten-minute passages of dual-core improvisation are the high peaks of the performance. Bassist William Parker and drummer Rashid Bakr are foregrounded less often, but do more than keep up.

Taylor makes just two concessions, if they can be called that, one to listeners, the other to form. “The 8th” is digitally divided, during brief moments when the band cool down to regroup for a further assault, into three sections, each lasting about 19 minutes—bite-sized portions by Taylor's standards. “The 9th” closes with two minutes of almost conventional, pretty melodicism.

Apart from that, you're on your own. Next time the force is with you, you could try sticking the headphones on and going for it.

Cecil Taylor (piano)
Jimmy Lyons (alto sax)
William Parker (bass)
Rashid Bakr (drums)

1. Calling It The 8th - Part 1
2. Calling It The 8th - Part 2
3. Calling It The 8th - Part 3
4. Calling It The 9th

Jimmy Deuchar - The Anglo/American/Scottish Connection

I was listening to an album recently that had Jimmy Gourley and Jimmy Deuchar on it (they didn't play together) and it struck me that two Scottish musicians made quite a name for themselves. Turns out that Gourley is from, I think, Indiana; but Deuchar is as Scots as they come. "Jazz critic Alun Morgan has suggested (in the Gramophone Good Jazz CD Guide) that, along with Yugoslav Dusko Goykovich and Swede Rolf Ericson, Jimmy was one of only three European jazz trumpeters who were up to the standard of leading Americans in the early days of modern jazz." Check Comments for a link to a recent Gourley post.

This is an updated reissue of Deuchar's only leader work, The Scottish Connection. Originally recorded in 1979 this is an updated version that has charts of his added on for this release.

"One of Britain's better bebop trumpeters, Jimmy Deuchar played in London's Club Eleven while in the Royal Air Force, then joined the Johnny Dankworth Seven in 1950. He later played with Geraldo and Oscar Rabin and Ronnie Scott's sextet in Paris in 1951. There were recording sessions with Jack Parnell and Scott in the early '50s, followed by stints and/or tours with Tony Crombie, Lionel Hampton and Scott. Deuchar moved to Germany in the late '50s, and played from 1957 to 1959 with Kurt Edelhagen's band. He returned to Scott's group for a couple of years, then played in Tubby Hayes' quartet, The Clarke-Boland Big Band and Edelhagen's band. Deuchar worked mainly as an arranger during the '60s and '70s, making one album as a leader in 1979." ~ Ron Wynn

Jimmy Deuchar (flugelhorn)
Dave Cliff (guitar)
Gary Cox (tenor sax)
Frank Griffith (tenor sax)
Colin Steele (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Jay Craig (baritone sax)
John Patrick (piano)
Bob Martin (alto sax)
Dave Lynane (bass)
Dave Chamberlain (bass)

1. Points North
2. Moonlight On The Dichty
3. Wailing Of The Willow
4. The Scots Connection
5. Fling
6. A Child Is Born
7. Twelve -Ten -Twelve
8. K And J
9. Five For Jimmy
10. Long Ago And Far Away
11. Here We Are
12. Daydream
13. Israel

REL Studios, Edinburgh: April 24, 1979 and Landsdowne Studio, London: February 3, 2003

Jimmy Forrest - Night Train (1951-1953)

It's unfortunate that Jimmy Forrest is often only known for his recording of "Night Train". He was a great all-round tenor and when I heard him with the Count Basie band in the late seventies he was the best soloist in the band. After that he formed a quintet with Al Grey which he co-led until his death in 1980.

Jimmy Forrest had a tremendous hit in 1951 with "Night Train," a simple blues riff he lifted from Duke Ellington's "Happy Go Lucky Local." Although the tenorman was not able to duplicate that song's appeal with any other recording, he was a popular performer in the R&B circuit throughout the 1950s. Virtually all of his records from the era (originally made for the United label) are on this CD reissue, including five selections not previously released. The tough-toned Forrest was not really a screamer or a honker, and the 17 numbers on the set should be of interest both to early R&B and jazz collectors. Recorded in Chicago, Forrest fronts a rhythm section that includes either Charles Fox or Bunky Parker on piano and sometimes trumpeter Chauncey Locke or trombonist Bert Dabney. The music is very enjoyable and highly recommended. - Scott Yanow

Jimmy Forrest (tenor sax)
Chauncey Locke (trumpet)
Bart Dabney (trombone)
Bunky Parker, Charles Fox (piano)
Johnny Mixon, Herschel Harris (bass)
Oscar Oldham (drums)
Percy James, Bob Reagen (conga, bongos)
  1. Night Train
  2. Calling Dr. Jazz
  3. Sophisticated Lady
  4. Swingin' and Rockin'
  5. Bolo Blues
  6. Mister Goodbeat
  7. Flight 3-D
  8. Hey Mrs. Jones
  9. My Buddy
  10. Song of the Wanderer
  11. Blue Groove
  12. Big Dip
  13. Begin the Beguine
  14. There Will Never Be Another You
  15. Coach 13
  16. Dig Those Feet
  17. Mrs. Jones' Daughter
Recorded between November 1951 and September 1953

Charles Gayle - Daily Bread

Consecration is awaiting a guest reviewer - any takers?

" ... Daily Bread is another great one. This time, Gayle's doubling lends context and breadth, and when all four men are playing strings (on 'Our Sins' and 'Offering To Christ') the results turn string-quartet music inside out. 'Earthly Things' and 'Shout Merrily' are terrific group performances as well as signature Gayle." ~ Penguin Guide

Charles Gayle, who is deeply religious, is a very passionate musician. His emotional ideas on the tenor require a large variety of sounds which he has developed, from growls to squeals, purrs to screams. One could call him an extension of Albert Ayler except that Gayle usually does not utilize folkish melodies as Ayler did and he has a distinctive sound of his own. As with Ayler, though, Gayle pours a great deal of feeling into each solo. This quartet CD is a bit unusual in that Gayle (who is also heard on bass clarinet) plays piano on two songs, bassist William Parker mostly performs on cello (switching to piano on three other pieces) and two numbers feature Gayle on viola and drummer Michael Wumberly switching to violin; "Our Sins" actually has a violin-viola-cello-bass quartet! Bassist Wilber Morris is also in this very simulating and intuitive group. Charles Gayle takes some heartfelt solos on piano and fiddles up a storm on viola, but it is his very intense tenor solos that (as one would expect) leave the biggest impression. To use a cliché, this powerful recording is not for the faint-hearted! ~ Scott Yanow

Charles Gayle (piano, bass clarinet, tenor sax, viola)
William Parker (cello, piano)
Wilber Morris (bass)
Michael Wimberly (violin, drums)

1. This Cup
2. Our Sins
3. Inner Joy
4. Drink
5. Earthly Things
6. Watch
7. Rest A While
8. Offering To Christ
9. Shout Merrily

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Doc Watson - The Essential Doc Watson

Another CD release of an album which I wore to death when it was LP. This will be familiar to - and loved by - many of us. 'Shady Grove' has been playing in my head at one level or another ever since I first heard it.

It's a measure of how succinct Doc Watson's interpretations of traditional music are that this 26-song collection is one of the few Vanguard double-LP compilations to make it onto CD completely intact, with no songs eliminated, and it still clocks in at under 70 minutes. It's also one of the better sounding of the Welk Music Group's mid-'80s CD reissues from the Vanguard catalog, and one only wishes that the label could have included a set of liner notes about the performer. The first half of this disc (and the first LP of the original double album) is made up of studio recordings that feature Watson working solo, in a small-group setting, and also accompanied by a full band of top Nashville session musicians, including Grady Martin, Tommy Jackson, and Buddy Spicher; tracks 13-26 were recorded live at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964 and 1965, and feature a relaxed, outgoing Watson accompanied by no more than a pair of musicians. As for the music itself, it's about as wide and varied a body as one could wish for -- from Watson's very stylized versions of "Tom Dooley," "Shady Grove," and "Rising Sun Blues" (his rendition of "House of the Rising Sun") to gospel numbers, all of it beguiling in its musicianship as well as its content. Watson's singing and playing are sweeter on the studio sides, but the live tracks show him in a relaxed, outgoing mood. Although it's not as thorough an account of his musicianship as the four-CD Vanguard Years compilation, this disc does give any neophyte a good look at what he's about, and the music is excellent on its own terms. ~ Bruce Eder

The performances throughout are top-notch. Watson's flawlessly fluid guitar work is a wonder (most notably on instrumentals like "Beaumont Rag"), and he sounds as at ease singing a cappella ("Down in the Valley to Pray") as he does backed by additional musicians ("The Train That Carried My Girl from Town"). The program includes traditional songs ("Tom Dooley" and "Little Omie Wise"), as well as tunes by Jimmy Rodgers ("I Was a Stranger") and Dock Boggs ("Country Blues"), with Watson bringing each song to life with his incisive, sincere renditions. As a one-stop, economical introduction to this folk legend, The Essential Doc Watson is hard to beat.

Doc Watson (guitar, banjo)
Merle Watson (guitar)
Eric Weissberg (bass)
Gaither Carlton (fiddle)
Russ Savacus (bass)

1. Tom Dooley
2. Alberta
3. Froggie Went A-Courtin'
4. Beaumont Rag
5. St. James Hospital
6. Muskrat
7. Down In the Valley To Pray
8. Blue Railroad Train
9. Rising Sun Blues
10. Shady Grove
11. My Rough and Rowdy Ways
12. The Train That Carried My Girl From Town
13. Black Mountain Rag
14. I Was A Stranger
15. Blueridge Mountain Blues
16. Country Blues
17. Groundhog
18. Little Orphan Girl
19. Blackberry Blossom
20. Going Down This Road Feeling Bad
21. Rambling Hobo
22. Little Omie Wise
23. Handsome Molly
24. Whitehouse Blues
25. I Want To Love Him More
26. Way Downtown

Steve Lacy - Vespers

I've actually seen Ricky Ford as a sideman with Mingus and was impressed, but the two or three CDs I have of his always seem to be missing something. I don't thing I've ever posted them here; so the last comment in the Penguin Guide review made me laugh. Well, not laugh exactly ... more of a chortle, I suppose. This and the previously posted Revenue are reviewed together in the PG.

" Betsch's arrival on board gave the Lacy group a less raw, slightly more delicate rhythmic feel. ... Potts more than ever brings in ideas of his own and a range of contributions that might be likened to Don Cherry's in the classic Ornette quartet. ...

Vespers is focused on Blaga Dimitrova's lyrics for Aebi; the songs are softly melancholy farewells and remembrances of departed friends and idols: Miles Davis, Corrado Costa, the artists Arshile Gorky and Keith Haring, clarinettist John Carter, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus aand Stan Getz. This is perhaps the most personal music we've heard from Lacy, and it is all the more affecting in coming from a man normally so reticent about inward states. Aebi is magnificent, as is Ricky Ford, who now notoriously plays better on other people's records than on his own." ~ Penguin Guide

For this unusual set, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy's sextet (with Steve Potts on alto and soprano, pianist Bobby Few, bassist Jean Jacques Avenel, drummer John Betsch, and vocalist Irene Aebi) is joined by the great tenor Ricky Ford (heard throughout in exciting form) and Tom Varner on French horn. The Lacy originals, which often feature Aebi singing poems, include tributes to Miles Davis, John Carter, Charles Mingus, and Stan Getz, among others. The music, as usual, sounds like nothing played by those performers, but does feature lots of interesting tone colors and harmonies and consistently stimulating solos, particularly from Ford and Potter. Well worth exploring. ~ Scott Yanow

Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Ricky Ford (tenor sax)
Bobby Few (piano)
Steve Potts (soprano and alto sax)
Tom Varner (French horn)
Jean-Jacques Avenel (bass)
John Betsch (drums)
Irene Aebi (sounds)

1. Multidimensional
2. If We Come Close
3. Grass
4. Wait For Tomorrow
5. Across
6. I Do Not Believe
7. Vespers

BN LP 5012 | Howard McGhee's All Stars - The McGhee-Navarro Sextet

BN LP 5012 | Howard McGhee's All Stars - The McGhee-Navarro Sextet

Another record with 2 different sessions, one of those is the great Navarro 1948 session, where McGhee joined in. You heard part of that on the BN 5004 release. I really enjoy Howard McGhee and Navarro for different qualities, so getting both of together again is a treat. Not to mention the allstar cast of Kenny Drew, Max roach, etal.

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

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Louis Armstrong - And The Singers Vol. 4

After going through the racks at one of my favorite stores, the manager - who has hipped me to a few choice things - pulled four King Jazz CDs of Louis Armstrong stuff. Normally, I figure I have most of the Pops that is, in the words of the Immortal Bard Scott Yanow, essential. But these were King Jazz titles, and they are always worth getting, if only for the sometimes great notes by Capasso and Protti: they can be a hoot.

His research had led him to a similar 6 CD set put out by a label named Affinity, but a (very) little digging on my part leads me to believe that this King Jazz set was the origin. And there are some wonderful things here; on this Volume 4 there are some obscure dates with Sippie Wallace, Victoria Spivey, Butterbeans and Susie, and even the unlikely yet legendary session with Louis Armstrong and Jimmie Rodgers, who is widely held as being the "the man who started it all" in Country music.

"During 1924-26 (and to a lesser extent 1927-30), Louis Armstrong appeared as a sideman on a series of sessions by a variety of blues-oriented singers ... Armstrong's cornet (and, by 1928, trumpet) is heard backing and occasionally taking solos on record dates led by singers Ma Rainey, Virginia Liston, Eva Taylor, Alberta Hunter, Margaret Johnson, Sippie Wallace, Maggie Jones, Clara Smith, Bessie Smith, Trixie Smith, Billy Jones, Grant and Wilson, Perry Bradford, Chippie Hill, Blanche Calloway, Hociel Thomas, Baby Mack, Nolan Welsh, Butterbeans and Susie, Lillie Delk Christian, Seger Ellis, Victoria Spivey and even the country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers ("Blue Yodel No. 9"). The Bessie Smith recordings are the most powerful but there are other memorable selections including those with the remarkably nasal Lillie Delk Christian (Armstrong even joins in and scats during "Too Busy"), Eva Taylor (during "Mandy Make up Your Mind" soprano-great Sidney Bechet switches to the remarkable sarrusophone), Eva Taylor (Armstrong's solo on "Cake Walking Babies from Home" was one of his first great ones), Chippie Hill (the original version of "Trouble in Mind") and Ma Rainey (the earliest recording of "See See Rider") ..." ~ Scott Yanow

Read Capasso and Protti's notes regarding the Lillie Delk Christian dates: classic. The other three volumes will be posted if we can get guest reviewers for them.

Louis Armstrong (cornet)
Earl Hines (piano)
Richard M. Jones (piano)
Jimmie Rodgers (vocal)
Kid Ory (trombone)
Johnny Dodds (clarinet)

Nolan Welsh
1. The Bridwell Blues
2. St. Peter Blues

Butterbeans and Susie
3. He Likes It Slow

Bertha "Chippie" Hill
4. Pleadin' For The Blues
5. Pratt City Blues
6. Mess, Katie, Mess
7. Lovesick Blues
8. Lonesome Weary Blues

Sippie Wallace
9. Dead Drunk Blues
10. Have You Ever Been Down?
11. Lazy Man Blues
12. The Flood Blues

Lillie Delk Christian
13. You're A Real Sweetheart
14. Too Busy!
15. Was It A Dream?
16. Last Night I Dreamed You Kissed Me
17. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
18. Baby!
19. Sweethearts On Parade
20. I Must Have That Man!

Victoria Spivey
21. Funny Feathers
22. How Do You Do It That Way?

Jimmie Rodgers
23. Standin' on the Corner [Blue Yodel No. 9]

Ravi Shankar - Live At Monterey

This is one of the first two albums I ever asked for when I was a kid; Revolver being the other. I grew up poor, so this was a big deal, and something of a gamble. Turns out I really enjoyed it (well, I would have to, no?). I enjoyed it enough that I later bought the Menuhin/Shankar LP, which now that I think about it, I will have to look for in one of my peccable forays.

Researching this album, I saw numerous comments from those who are "knowledgeable" about North Indian music citing various ways in which Shankar was not the prime exponent of the form. Fuck those tight-assed airheads - who else does the world think of when they think of Indian music? And if you name another, you'll also admit that it was because of Shankar's (and George Harrison's) efforts.

One fun thing I also noticed: One guy was going on about how he could discern the influence of Shankar on John Coltrane, the drones, modes, and so on. I would have thought that his naming his son Ravi might have peeped his hand. Anyway, an old favorite. I hope you dig it.

Ravi Shankar (sitar)
Alla Rakha (tabla)
Kamala (tamboura)

1. Raga Bhimpalasi
2. Tabla Solo In Ektal
3. Dhun (Dadra And Fast Teental)

Fred Hersch - Passion Flower (1995)

Fred Hersch Plays the Music of Billy Strayhorn

For this well-rounded tribute to the great Billy Strayhorn (a nearly invisible genius during his lifetime), pianist Fred Hersch performs a dozen of Strayhorn's compositions, mixing together well-known tunes with such obscurities as "Lament for an Orchid," "Ballad for Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus-Eaters," and "Pretty Girl." Hersch takes three numbers as unaccompanied solos (including a beautiful version of "Lotus Blossom"), four trio performances with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey, a duet with singer Andy Bey ("Something to Live For"), three selections in which the trio is joined by a string section, and a piano duet with Nurit Tiles on "Tonk." Although the emphasis is on ballads and great respect is shown for Strayhorn's melodies, Fred Hersch varies the tempos, uses some advanced harmonies, and lets his own musical personality shine through. Highly recommended. - Scott Yanow

Fred Hersch (piano, arranger)
Drew Gress (bass)
Tom Rainey (drums)
Nuret Tilles (piano on 10)
Andy Bey (vocals on 6)
string orchestra on 2, 7, 12
  1. Lotus Blossom
  2. Day Dream
  3. U.M.M.G.
  4. Pretty Girl (The Star- Crossed Lovers)
  5. Rain Check
  6. Something to Live For
  7. Lament for an Orchid (Absinthe)
  8. Elf (Isfahan)
  9. Ballad for Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus-Eaters
  10. Tonk
  11. Passion Flower
  12. Lush Life

Bobby Hutcherson - In The Vanguard

This begins a mini- Hutch series: I just got a nice Japanaroonie Toshiba Happenings, and will be sending out the Mosaic Select to a guest reviewer very shortly. Hutcherson is a perennial favorite around here.

The reissue of Bobby Hutcherson's live Village Vanguard session from December 5-6, 1986 isn't the first. It's such a fine album that it's been issued quite a few times and has garnered high ratings. ... (and includes) Bob Blumenthal's original liner notes in which he lists several from the long list of jazz artists who've recorded live sessions at The Village Vanguard. Hutcherson's hard bop session features a lot of "blowing" by the leader on both marimba and vibes. His rhythm section on this date supports him well and provides an experienced conversation. Speaking of conversations, Fred Jung's interview with Hutcherson provides valuable insight into this session leader who got his start by laying bricks one summer in L.A. to save the money for his first set of vibes.

Moving freely between vibraphone and marimba throughout the session, Hutcherson fills the traditional front line role by himself. The rhythm section is a thrill from start to finish, but leaves most of the soloing to the leader. Barron shines on "I Wanna Stand Over There," a hard-driving hard bop vehicle. The quartet oozes rich harmony on the long slow ballad "Young And Foolish," while "Some Day My Prince Will Come" waltzes excitedly with all-around high spirit. Recommended, Hutcherson's session features a seasoned rhythm section along with his full-speed-ahead front line "blowing." ~ Jim Santella

Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson was once associated with the avant-garde to a certain extent but by the 1970s it was clear he had found his voice in the modern mainstream of jazz. This live set from the Village Vanguard features him on both vibes and marimbas with stellar sidemen: pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Al Foster. Their repertoire (in addition to Hutcherson's "I Wanna Stand over There") is comprised of five standards and the results are high-quality modern bebop. The communication between the players is quite impressive. ~ Scott Yanow

Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone, marimba)
Kenny Barron (piano)
Buster Williams (bass)
Al Foster (drums)

1. Little Niles
2. Estaté
3. Well, You Needn't
4. Young And Foolish
5. Someday My Prince Will Come
6. Witchcraft
7. I Wanna Stand Over There

Toshiko Akiyoshi - At Maybeck

Way, way back when friends and I would swap, steal, buy LP's from each other there was an album called Toshiko At The Top Of The Gate that became a running joke. It made the rounds, being thrown in to swaps, given as a birthday present, sneaked into someone's collection. It was like the legendary circular fruitcake. None of us ever bothered to listen to it, and now I notice that Kenny Dorham - who lived down the street from me at the time - was on it. Later I read that Toshiko was known and liked by Bud Powell - who also lived and died down the street - and in the fullness of time I came to learn that I was callow; and that she was not the joke.

I came across several Maybeck's this week, but I can never remember which have already appeared here - I'm fairly certain this one has, come to think of it - and a number of the performers are unknown to, or too loung-y for, me. So they remained in the bins. The Maybeck series is a great one, though; even I know that.

It figured that Toshiko Akiyoshi would come up with one of the more individual solo albums in the Maybeck series (of which this is Vol. 36). Like most of her colleagues, she comes from out of the bop school, yet her playing here doesn't sound much like anyone else's. She has her own distinct ideas and she is especially compelling when her hands fly off in multiple directions. In Akiyoshi's "The Village," her left hand plays a difficult revolving pattern independent of the right; "Con Alma" is a fascinating contrapuntal tour de force; "Come Sunday" has wide chord voicings that may be unique to this series, and "Old Devil Moon" has a touch of Latin jazz in her powerful bass-clef accompaniment. She defies jazz fashion a bit by taking on "It Was a Very Good Year" -- a folk song before Sinatra got a hold of it -- though its modal harmonies nearly defeat her attempt to turn it into a showpiece. The microphones at Maybeck also catch her Jarrett-like scatting all too clearly, but that's only a minor distraction. ~ Richard S. Ginell

Toshiko Akiyoshi (piano)

1. Village
2. Come Sunday
3. Con Alma
4. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
5. It Was A Very Good Year
6. Things We Did Last Summer
7. Old Devil Moon
8. Sophisticated Lady
9. Quadrille, Anyone?
10. Tempus Fugit

Duke Pearson - Bags Groove

Duke Pearson is a beautiful player who always brought something original to his too few sessions. The word under-rated is too often used, but if anybody was, it was Duke. This is a re-issue of a very scarce LP entitled Angel Eyes; this release omits the original title tune and added three alternates. Angel Eyes was one of two sessions for Jazzline, but they weren't released by them - this trio session was sold to Polydor and Pearson received nothing for it. This Black Lion issue is scarce enough in its own right. Duke Pearson in a trio, New York 1961. What could be better?

Pianist Duke Pearson sounds a lot like Bud Powell in spots during this trio outing with bassist Thomas Howard and drummer Lex Humphries (particularly on "I'm an Old Cowhand") but shows more individuality in his writing. His most famous song "Jeannine" is heard in one of its earliest versions and Pearson's other two originals "Say You're Mine" and "Le Carrousel" are both somewhat memorable. For the CD reissue of Duke Pearson's third trio session in two years, the original six-song program is augmented by three previously unreleased alternate takes. Recomended for straightahead jazz collectors. ~ Scott Yanow

Duke Pearson (piano)
Thomas Howard (bass)
Lex Humphries (drums)

1. I'm An Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande) (take 5)
2. Say You're Mine (take 4)
3. Carrousel (take 3)
4. Exodus (take 1)
5. Bags' Groove (take 1)
6. Jeannine (take 1)
7. I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande) (take 3)
8. Say You're Mine (take 3)
9. Carrousel (take 2)

Fats Navarro - The Fabulous Fats Navarro Vol. 1 (TOCJ)

These sessions are one of the peaks of the bebop movement and one of the essential modern-jazz records. Navarro's tone and solo approach were honed in big-band settings and he has the remarkable ability to maintain a graceful poise even when playing loudly and at speed. ~ Penguin Guide

Primarily comprised of recordings made with pianist Tadd Dameron, The Fabulous Fats Navarro, Vol. 1 spotlights the fluid and inventive bebop trumpeter on nine master takes and several alternate versions. (The impressive bonus cuts will not only excite completists, but should please the casual fan as well.) From the two Dameron-led dates in 1947 and 1948, we have classic Navarro performances like "The Chase," "Our Delight," "The Squirrel," and "Lady Bird." Navarro's stellar solos here (both muted and not) are complimented by equally impressive statements from alto saxophonist Ernie Henry and tenor saxophonists Wardell Gray and Charlie Rouse. And while drummers Shadow Wilson and Kenny Clarke provide fine rhythmic support throughout, conga player Chino Pozo (cousin of Chano Pozo) provides some nice additional texture on a few numbers. Also included on this disc are excellent tracks from a 1948 date with trumpeter Howard McGhee. Covering McGhee and Navarro originals like "Boperation" and "Double Talk," this session features more stellar solo work from Henry as well as some fine contributions by vibraphonist Milt Jackson (who actually plays piano on most of the cuts). And rounding out things are a few alternate takes from a date with pianist Bud Powell, including worthwhile versions of "Wail" and "Bouncing With Bud." This is an essential title for jazz enthusiasts, but one that seems to go in and out of print quite often. Luckily, all the tracks on both volumes of The Fabulous Fats Navarro, plus some additional Dameron cuts, can be heard on Blue Note's Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron: The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings. ~ Stephen Cook

Fats Navarro (trumpet)
Bud Powell (piano)
Tadd Dameron (piano)
Sonny Rollins (tenor sax)
Charlie Rouse (tenor sax)
Ernie Henry (alto sax)
Milt Jackson (piano, vibraphone)
Curly Russell (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Roy Haynes (drums)

1. Our Delight (alt master)
2. Our Delight
3. The Squirrel (alt master)
4. The Squirrel
5. Chase (alt master)
6. Chase
7. Wail (alt master)
8. Bouncing With Bud
9. Double Talk
10. Dameronia (alt master)
11. Dameronia

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ma Rainey - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Appointed "Mother of the Blues" during her '20s heyday, singer Ma Rainey was one of the best of the many classic female blues singers of the period. An inspiration to the "Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith, Rainey was a Georgia native who was discovered in Chicago during the early '20s. While not the possessor of a voice as powerful as Smith's, Rainey still cut a slew of strong sides featuring a fine blend of country blues intensity and jazz-band sophistication. This excellent Yazoo collection captures Rainey in her prime from 1924-1928. Backed by large combos and minimal guitar and piano tandems, Rainey shines on such highlights as "Booze and Blues," "Shave 'Em Dry," and "Lucky Rock Blues." Topped off with stellar contributions by blues and jazz luminaries like Don Redman, Coleman Hawkins, Kid Ory, and Georgia Tom Dorsey, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom makes for an excellent introduction to blues singer's small but potent catalog. ~ Stephen Cook

The classic blues belter had been singing for two decades before she ever put her voice on record, and it shows on these recordings from the mid- to late '20s. The archetypal blues shouter, Rainey had a voice whose depth and strength is startling and sometimes alarming, even on these scratchy old recordings--one can only imagine what she must have sounded like in real life. Her backup musicians include such notables as pianist Fletcher Henderson, trombonist Charlie Green, guitarist Tampa Red, and trombonist Kid Ory, all performing fairly straightforward 12-bar blues. It's not the material here that's notable, so much as Rainey's voice, a voice that has informed the work of female blues singers ever since. ~ Genevieve Williams

Ma Rainey (vocal)
Coleman Hawkins (bass sax)
Fletcher Henderson (piano)
Don Redman (clarinet)
Georgia Tom Dorsey (piano)
Buster Bailey (clarinet)
Claude Hopkins (piano)
Kid Ory (trombone)
Tommy Ladnier (cornet)

1. Oh Papa Blues
2. Black Eye Blues (Take 1)
3. "Ma" Rainey's Black Bottom
4. Booze And Blues
5. Blues Oh Blues
6. Sleep Talking Blues (Take 1)
7. Lucky Rock Blues
8. Georgia Cake Walk
9. Don't Fish In My Sea
10. Stack O' Lee Blues
11. Shave 'Em Dry Blues
12. Yonder Come The Blues (Take 1)
13. Screech Owl Blues
14. Farewell Daddy Blues

Art Farmer and Fritz Pauer - Azure

Although the personnel listing mistakenly lists pianist Fritz Pauer as playing bass, this mellow release features his duets with flugelhornist Art Farmer. Pauer has been Farmer's regular pianist overseas since the flugelhornist moved to Europe in 1968. Together they perform three of Pauer's moody originals, an Austrian folk song and tunes by Al Cohn, Mal Waldron ("Soul Eyes"), Duke Ellington, Benny Golson and Tadd Dameron ("If You Could See Me Now") with the emphasis on ballads. A peaceful and mostly introspective release. ~ Scott Yanow

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Fritz Pauer (piano)

1. If You Could See Me Now
2. Nighttime
3. Yesterday's Thoughts
4. Blue Windows
5. Azure
6. Sound Within An Empty Room
7. Soul Eyes
8. Danielle
9. Song Of Praise

Mal Waldron - Maturity 2: He's my Father

A new volume of this beloved musician's ultimate work.

You'll find deep, dark, wonderful music inside. Wisdom after life. Wisdom before death.

Mal Waldron (piano)
Mala Waldron (piano & vocals)

1. My Funny Valentine
2. Clouds
3. Castle in the Sky
4. Cat and Mouse
5. A Night in Tunisia
6. He's my Father

Aug. 21, 1995 at studio F/Gifu

Cecil Payne - Patterns Of Jazz

Recorded on two days in May 1956, a week later Jordan, Payne, and Taylor would be in Sweden, and KD would be playing at the Cafe Bohemia - the same session that was released as 'Round About Midnight At The Cafe Bohemia.

This 1956 set partners baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne with the superb rhythm section of pianist Duke Jordan, drummer Art Taylor, and bassist Tommy Potter. Their performances of originals, standards, and a pair of Randy Weston compositions are unpretentious bop artistry of a high caliber. Jordan and Potter played together in Charlie Parker's quintet of the late '40s and are well-equipped to meet the demands of bebop. The pianist's economical, swinging style falls somewhere between Count Basie's and Thelonious Monk's. Like them, Jordan is supremely skilled at saying a lot with a little. His open approach leaves plenty of space for the unassuming virtuosity of Potter and Taylor. Potter, in particular, merits close attention. He is a master of the walking bass, spilling out a relentless four to the bar with the precision of a Swiss timepiece and the obsession of one whose calling is, above all, to swing and to swing righteously. Payne's conception is the opposite of the big-throated, baritone sax roar of his Savoy labelmate Pepper Adams. Rather, his light tone calls to mind Lester Young's tenor sax, a parallel that is most apparent on Payne's extended solo on his ballad treatment of "How Deep Is the Ocean." On four of the eight tracks on this 1991 CD reissue the quartet is joined by trumpeter Kenny Dorham, who is in excellent form, adding a high-energy second voice to the frontline and a fearless chorus on the quintet's version of Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High." For listeners who have yet to become acquainted with Cecil Payne, this classic mid-'50s Savoy recording would make a good introduction. ~ Jim Todd

Cecil Payne (baritone sax)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Duke Jordan (piano)
Tommy Potter (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. This Time The Dream's On Me
2. How Deep Is The Ocean?
3. Chessman's Delight
4. Arnetta
5. Saucer Eyes
6. Man Of Moods
7. Bringing Up Father
8. Groovin' High

New York: May 19 and 22, 1956

Reggie Workman - Summit Conference

These are crackling records, made by top-flight players. The Summit Conference group has a wish-list quality and delivers from the very start. Rivers and Priester are in boilingly good form, and the younger akLaff keeps the pace up. Slight quibbles about Hill's audibility; he isn't a delicate player and it worried us that he didn't seem to be coming through. Though the bulk of the session is up-tempo, often in fractured metres, there's still room for a heart-on-sleeve ballad, Rivers's 'Solace" introduced by trombone, piano and sax (in that order) before the composer goes up a gear and delivers his most magisterial solo for years. Priester's 'Breath' is pitched in a distant, sharp-ridden key that would have most players twithing; this group brings it on exactly on the button and without a hesitant moment ~ Penguin Guide

For this inspired 1994 date, veteran bassist Reggie Workman assembled four fellow avant-garde luminaries: pianist Andrew Hill, saxophonist Sam Rivers, trombonist Julian Priester, and drummer Pheeroan akLaff. By the usual standards of these highly adventurous players, the record is relatively accessible, but it does makes for challenging listening. The quintet opens with "Encounter," a busy and bold selection by the late John Carter. Overall, only Workman's "Summit Conference" and Priester's "Breath" feature sustained periods of cacophony, yet even these freer pieces are built around a defined melody and structure. Sonelius Smith's "Conversation" and Rivers' "Solace" bump along with Latin rhythms; Priester shines on both tracks. The trombonist is also the dominant voice on Rivers' fast-swinging "Meteor." Rivers plays soprano sax on Workman's "Estelle's Theme" and flute on Hill's "Gone," the latter a duet with Hill that closes the session on an austere yet calming note. ~ David R. Adler

Reggie Workman (bass)
Andrew Hill (piano)
Sam Rivers (flute, soprano and tenor sax)
Julian Priester (trombone)
Pheeroan akLaff (drums)

1. Encounter
2. Estelle's Theme
3. Conversation
4. Meteor
5. Solace
6. Summit Conference
7. Breath
8. Gone

New York: December 5-6, 1993

Cannonball Adderley - 1974 Pyramid

If the previous post is the alpha of Cannonball Adderley, this one is nearly the omega. Not only in time, also in style. A good beginning for a funky Friday.

Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final studio album, PYRAMID, is a remarkable farewell. The 1974 release, recorded with a septet lineup featuring cornet player Nat Adderley and clavinet player George Duke--both of whom would go on to lead their own combos later in the decade--features Adderley's alto and soprano saxes in a funky brand of fusion. The music never succumbs to the lumbering excesses the fusion style was beginning to become known for by this time. In fact, much of the charm of PYRAMID is due to its unusual brevity. The entire eight-track album is over in 23-and-a-half minutes. Considering that other fusion players were releasing single compositions that ran twice as long, PYRAMID is almost like a punk album! The centerpiece is the three-part "Suite Cannon," a complex yet swinging affair full of Adderley's typical grace and fire.

01. Phases (H. Galper) 6:01
02. My Lady Blue (H. Galper) 4:45
03. Book-Ends (D. Axelrod) 5:36
04. Pyramid (J. Adderley) 3:41
05. Suite Cannon Part 1: The King And I (J. Adderley) 3:13
06. Suite Cannon Part 2: Time In (J. Adderley) 4:33
07. Suite Cannon Part 3: For Melvin Lastie (J. Adderley) 2:34
08. Oh Bess, Oh Where's My Bess (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin, D. Heyward) 3:38

Julian "Cannonball" Adderley (soprano & alto saxophones)
Nat Adderley (cornet)
Hal Galper (electric piano)
Walter Booker (acoustic bass)
Roy McCurdy (drums)

Jimmy Jones (piano) on track 8
George Duke (acoustic & electric clavinets, ARP synthesizer)
Phil Upchurch (guitar)

Cannonball Adderley - 1955 Spontaneous Combustion

This valuable set features altoist Cannonball Adderley's first recordings, cut just days after the unknown had greatly impressed musicians when he sat in with Oscar Pettiford's group at the Cafe Bohemia. He is quite impressive throughout, holding his own in an all-star octet led by drummer Kenny Clarke with trumpeter Donald Byrd, brother Nat on cornet, Jerome Richardson on reeds, and pianist Horace Silver. The second half of the set is the first of many quintet dates he led with Nat. This near-classic music is highlighted by "Bohemia After Dark," Nat's feature on "We'll Be Together Again," "A Little Taste," and the title cut.
Scott Yanow

01 Bohemia After Dark (Oscar Pettiford) 6:07
02 Chasm (Cannonball Adderley, Nat Adderley) 4:18
03 Willow Weep for Me (Ann Ronell) 6:18
04 Hear Me Talkin' To Ya (Cannonball Adderley, Nat Adderley) 9:06
05 With Apologies to Oscar (Cannonball Adderley, Nat Adderley) 5:43
06 Will Be Together Again (C. Fisher, F. Laine) 6:55
07 Spontaneous Combustion .(Cannonball Adderley) 10:04
08 Still Talkin' to Ya (Cannonball Adderley) 8:50
09 A Little Taste (Cannonball Adderley) 5:06
10 Caribbean Suite (Cannonball Adderley) 7:00

Donald Bird - trumpet (1-5)
Nat Adderley - cornet (1,2,4-10)
Cannonbal Adderley - alto sax
Jerome Richardson - tenor sax, flute (1-5)
Horace Silver - piano (1-5)
Hank Jones - piano (6-10)
Paul Chambers - bass
Kenny Clarke - drums

Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on June 26 (1- 5), July 14 (7- 10) and July 26 (6), 1955

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Seegs brings us ...

SEEGS, SEEGS, and only SEEGS is the onlie begetter of this fly series, and subsequently SEEGS, SEEGS, and only SEEGS brings us;

The Best Pianists You Never Heard…Maybe : Part 8: Harold Danko

Mirth Song

Harold Danko Sampler

Harold Danko has worked long and hard to build an enviable musical resume, compile a significant body of recordings, and grow continuously with new ideas and inventions. When it’s all added up, he has certainly earned that most prestigious jazz title— UNDERRATED: “An UNDERRATED but consistently creative modern jazz pianist, Harold Danko has been an asset to many sessions through the years. He graduated from Youngstown State University and played in big bands led by Chet Baker, Woody Herman, and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, plus the combos of Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz and with his own groups. Danko, who has been on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the New School, often teamed up with tenor saxophonist Rich Perry in the 1990s. He has recorded as a leader for Inner City, Dreamstreet, Sunnyside, and SteepleChase. “ (Scott Yanow)

From the short bio, you can see that Danko’s experience spans jazz from big band swing to advanced modern. He is versatile and adaptive, yet when he’s a leader, his style is recognizably his own. On the CD “Mirth Song,” one of the few Danko titles that’s not still in print, he’s is heard in a duet with the great Rufus Reid. No standards here, unless you consider “In Walked Bud” and Charlie Parker’s “Red Cross” to be standards. This is music you don’t often hear from the likes of Wayne Shorter, Jackie McLean, and Harold Danko. The sampler includes one selection from each of 7 different Harold Danko CDs, giving you an opportunity to hear him playing solo, in a trio setting, and with a quintet and sextet. All these CDs are worth acquiring for your collection. In addition, “Shorter by Two,” a duo piano recording featuring Harold Danko and Kirk Lightsey, has been posted previously. Links in comments.

Mirth Song

Harold Danko piano
Rufus Reid bass

1. In Walked Bud
2. Yes, You
3. Omega
4. Elegy
5. Red Cross
6. Lero Lero
7. Penelope
8. Pastoral Landing
9. Mirth Song

A Harold Danko Sampler

1. Sayeeda’s Flute Song from After the Rain (solo piano improvisation on John Coltrane
2. Smoke House from Fantasy Exit
3. My Monday Date from Hinesight (the music of Earl Hines)
4. Ticket to Obscurity from New Autumn
5. Evol Delklaw Ni from Oatts and Perry (with, of course, Dick Oatts and Rich Perry)
6. The Prophet from Prestigious: a Tribute to Eric Dolphy
7. Time Remembered from Time Remembered (some Bill Evans for the health of the soul)

Don Byas - On Blue Star

There are four Byas Chronos in the archives, and only a few of these titles seem to be duplicated. This is an eMarcy release of the Blue Star material, which appears to be owned by Barclay. The didscographical material in the liner notes is obscure about the last session, placing it sometime in March of '52, although Bruynihoweveritsspelledncxncx confidently places it on April 10th of that year. The Chrono that covers some of this material - 1952 - is one I don't yet have. Regarding the Blue Star material, arwulfX2 says; " ... 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. "

Regarding the '47 material: " ... After a series of top sessions for Savoy and Commodore, Byas left for Europe with Don Redman's band in 1946, never to return, save for the rare trip. Some his first ex-pat sides -- cut while living in Paris -- are heard here on this Classics collection of 1947 material. Featuring fellow Redman alumni Billy Taylor on piano, Tyree Glenn on trombone, and Peanuts Holland on trumpet, not to mention a host of top Parisian players, ... 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. "

You get the idea; it's Don Byas, some of which you may not have heard, all of which you should. Look up the Chronos also, it looks like all the links are working.

Don Byas (tenor sax)
Billy Taylor (piano)
Peanuts Holland (trumpet)
Tyree Glenn (trombone)
Art Simmons (piano)
Jean-Jacques Tilche (guitar)
Pierre Michelot (bass)
Claude Marty (drums)

1. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
2. Mad Monk
3. Billie's Bounce
4. I Surrender Dear
5. Red Cross
6. Dynamo A
7. Summertime
8. Stardust
9. Old Man River
10. Night And Day
11. The Man I Love
12. Georgia On My Mind
13. Easy To Love
14. Over The Rainbow
15. Where Or When
16. En Ce Temps-La
17. Somebody Loves Me
18. Riviera Blues ( Blues A La Don)
19. Laura
20. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
21. Old Folks At Home
22. Don't Blame Me
23. I Cover The Waterfront

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

George Adams - Suite for Swingers

This is the HORO HZ 03 LP, issued in 1976.

The only “official” review I could find on this excellent, hard to find vinyl that unfortunately never made it to CD, is the following:

“These extended compositions, with Don Pullen, feature one of the great jazz quartets of the last two decades. All of their albums are worthwhile”. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Rest assured these words, though discreetly celebratory, don't come even close to giving a slight idea of the intense beauty of the music performed here.

George Adams (ts, voc)
Don Pullen (p)
David Friesen (b)
Dannie Richmond (dr)
Afonso Vieira (perc)

1. Suite For Swingers
2. Blues By The River
3. Melodic Rapsody

Recorded July 28, 1976

Count Basie Meets Oscar Peterson - The Timekeepers (1978)

It could be argued that no two pianists could be more unalike than Count Basie, the master of understatement, and Oscar Peterson, the avatar of speed, power, and embellishment. The contrast in their approaches is part of what made their collaborations riveting. But the fact is that Basie, who held great power in reserve, could let it rip (and stride) when the mood struck him. And Peterson is capable of judiciously applying all that horsepower to achieve the most delicate effects. Both kinds of role reversals occur here. as the album title indicates, the great common denominator between the two is the observance and interpretation of time, not only in the sense of overall swing but of placement of notes and phrases. Their unaccompanied duet in the first choruses of "Rent Party" provides an emphatic demonstration.

Count Basie, Oscar Peterson (piano)
John Heard (bass)
Louie Bellson (drums)
  1. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)
  2. Soft Winds
  3. Rent Party
  4. Indiana
  5. Hey, Raymond
  6. After You've Gone
  7. That's the One
Recorded February 21-22, 1978

Billie Holiday - Rare Live Recordings 1934-1959

From one year ago taday.

The production values (notes, booklets, etc.) on this leave a lot to be desired, but the material is very fine. You might want to check some of the info against this:

48 years after her passing, Billie Holiday was honored with a five-CD set of Rare Live Recordings that includes film soundtracks, concert and club performances, radio and television broadcasts, rehearsal tapes, and even a private home recording where Lady Day sings "My Yiddishe Mama" and "God Bless the Child" to a child! If you think you know this singer, tap into this collection and see how much more there was to her than at first meets the ear. The more or less chronological presentation maps her personal and artistic transformation between the years 1934 and 1959. Out of approximately 60 titles, seven are rendered no less than four times apiece, and three -- "Them There Eyes," "God Bless the Child" and "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" -- appear in five different versions. For this reason, those who seek a nice all-purpose, easy-to-use sampler of her career should probably consult her studio recordings first. ESP's Rare Live Recordings set is for people who have been smitten for life and cannot possibly get enough Billie Holiday. The intertwined discography, biographical chronology, and extensive liner notes spread out over two booklets, are at once informative, insightful and (unfortunately) sprinkled with typographic, editorial, and even factual errors. The worst of these is a glaringly incorrect statement in reference to the CBS Sound of Jazz television broadcast of December 8, 1957, whereby the producer makes the statement that "...this would also prove to be one of the last performances for baritone saxophonist Harry Carney." The reference was actually to tenor saxophonist Lester Young, who would die almost exactly four months before the passing of Lady Day in 1959. (Carney, of course, lived for another 17 years as the bass clef backbone of the Duke Ellington Orchestra.) Furthermore, the amazing rehearsal tapes are only partially represented here; they were reissued in their entirety on CD in 2006 as Songs & Conversations: The Lost Billie Holiday Session (SRI 510021). Why ESP-Disk omitted several tracks from this soul-baring workshop (taped in bassist Artie Bernstein's living room with a rather outspoken Jimmy Rowles at the piano) is puzzling and maybe even frustrating. But let's not allow these flaws to detract too much from the magnificence of this extended tribute to a great artist. ESP-Disk, one of the world's great independent record labels, is to be commended for having Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell in the same catalog with Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Marion Brown, Frank Wright, Pharoah Sanders, Patty Waters, Pearls Before Swine and Yma Sumac. Given the relatively easy availability of Lady Day's Vocalion/Columbia, Decca, and Verve studio recordings, this fascinating anthology of her uncommon works can and will act as a richly rewarding appendix to the more familiar portions of her legacy. ~ arwulf arwulf

Coleman Hawkins - At Ease With Coleman Hawkins

First posted here two years ago today. Archives are fun!

" In this crazy run-around world where we never really have time to stop and appreciate all the good things in our lives, it is pretty hard to make time for Coleman Hawkins. But that is precisely why it is so important to do so. They really never invented a saxophone player better than him, and very few musicians have ever gotten closer to what jazz is supposed to be.

At Ease with Coleman Hawkins, originally released in 1960, is like a 42-minute journey into Zen simplicity, with a touch of sexy swagger on the side. Many people today have forgotten just how good the Bean was at this stage of his career. But just because none of the work here is as revolutionary as his work in the 1920s, '30s or '40s doesn't mean these songs aren't full of beauty and invention. His work here on “Then I'll Be Tired of You” starts off kind of sleepy, all loopy Dean Martin phrases, and then gets slightly more beboppy as things go on, until he sounds like Sonny Rollins or someone like that. (Funny quotation work in this solo too!) And there's no mistaking his majesty on the ancient chestnut “At Dawning” or his predatory stroll through the just-as-ancient “Poor Butterfly.”

But At Ease is not just all pretty notes and assurance. Hawkins was smart to have bopper Tommy Flanagan as his pianist here—you can hear the two push each other on the opener, “For You, For Me, Forevermore,” generations teaching each other how to cook. Flanagan's beautiful intro on “Mighty Like a Rose” ends up presaging his pretty solo two minutes later. And the rhythm section stars throughout. Osie Johnson's drumming is always amazing, but Wendell Marshall deserves special marks for his bassline at the start of “I'll Get By.”

This recording isn't fiery or out there, but it's about as solid as one can be, and it proves (for about the millionth time) the mastery of Coleman Hawkins. So what's not to love?" - Matt Cibula

Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Osie Johnson (drums)

1. For You, For Me, Forevermore
2. While We're Young
3. Then I'll Be Tired Of You
4. Mighty Like A Rose
5. At Dawning
6. Trouble Is A Man
7. Poor Butterfly
8. I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Arthur Taylor - Taylor's Tenors (1959)

Legendary drummer Art Taylor played on a multitude of classic jazz sessions, but only managed to release a few dates as a leader before he passed away in 1995. His second, Taylor's Tenors, from mid-1959, features two straight-ahead tenor saxophonists, Charlie Rouse and Frank Foster, engaging in an insightful yet swinging hard bop conversation. Rouse would shortly become Thelonious Monk's tenor of choice, while Foster continued his tenure with Count Basie's band for another five years. These six hard bop pieces include two by Monk, Jackie McLean's "Fidel," and originals each from Rouse, pianist Walter Davis, and Taylor. (Al Campbell)

1. Rhythm-A-Ning
2. Little Chico
3. Cape Millie
4. Straight, No Chaser
5. Fidel
6. Dacor

Arthur Taylor (drums); Charlie Rouse & Frank Foster (tenor saxophones); Walter Davis (piano); Sam Jones (bass).

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 3, 1959.

Johnny Smith - Kaleidoscope (POCJ)

This is the Japanese POCJ-2595 issue and I was just listening to it on computer speakers and it sounds great. Although some sources seem to write his work off after the '50s , this 1967 session will reveal a master player - Tal Farlow was also obscure around this period. Smith, it seems, elected to keep a low profile. I remember an article he wrote for Guitar Player many years ago, and the whole thing was on the proper way to string a guitar. He was a thorough cat, no doubt. In case you're wondering, the first track was his original; he wasn't doing a Ventures cover. Nice to see the great Don Lamond also.

Guitarist Johnny Smith will always be best remembered for his 1952 hit recording of "Moonlight in Vermont," a mellow ballad that also features Stan Getz. Smith, whose chordal-oriented style is self-taught, originally played trumpet, violin, and viola before switching to guitar. A studio musician from 1947 on, Smith's impressive technique and quiet sound made him in great demand even before "Moonlight" and, although he never had another hit, he was a popular attraction throughout the 1950s. After moving to Colorado in the 1960s he opened a music store, taught, and maintained a lower profile, occasionally recording in New York. ~ Scott Yanow

Johnny Smith (guitar)
Hank Jones (piano)
George Duvivier (bass)
Don Lamond (drums)

1. Walk, Don't Run
2. Old Folks
3. Days Of Wine And Roses
4. Girl With The Flaxen Hair
5. My Foolish Heart
6. By Myself
7. I'm Old Fashioned
8. Sweet Lorraine
9. Choro Da Saudade
10. Dreamsville

New York: November 27-30 and December 13, 1967

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra - Shout Me Out (2000)

In 1986, John Clayton, Jeff Clayton and Jeff Hamilton came together to form the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. "When Jeff Hamilton and I were with Monty Alexander, one of the things that we did in our spare time was listening to some of the great big band records. We were absolutely in love with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band. We thought it'd be cool if someday we were involved with a big band. After leaving Monty Alexander, Jeff went with Woody Herman, I went with Basie, I moved to Holland, he moved to L.A. and played with the L.A. Four, and then I moved back to the States. When we got back together, we still thought that having a big band would be a great idea. My brother, who had lived in Los Angeles the whole time, knew all of the best players in the city and how compatible they were personality-wise, so he basically put the band together."

Although it was a bit illogical to form a new big band in the late 1980s, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra was a success from the start. One of its main strengths is that it has three co-leaders. "In the beginning my brother was responsible for getting the musicians, I was responsible for writing music that would get them to keep on coming back since they hated to rehearse, and Jeff Hamilton was responsible for finances which meant that Jeff Hamilton didn't have anything to do for a long long time! Since then things have changed.

To be a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, musicians not only have to be technically skilled and excellent jazz players but they need other qualities. "Musicians have to really want to be a part of our band and what we do. They have to show us through their devotion and dedication that they are not blowing smoke in our face. We don't want people to just want to have a gig. We want musicians who love what we do and want to be in this family. With us it is truly about the music and the camaraderie. It is family."

Thus far the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra has recorded six CDs: "Groove Shop" (Capri), "Heart And Soul" (Capri), "Absolutely" (Lake Street), "Explosive with Milt Jackson" (Qwest), "Shout Me Out" (Fable) and the most recent "Live At MCG" (MCG Jazz). The band had its own sound from the start and has continued to evolve. "I think what we are doing now is more sophisticated than what we were doing at the beginning. The element of swing is always going to be there and we do not want to deny it but we are also looking for other colors and other feelings."

John Clayton (arranger, arco bass)
Jeff Clayton (alto sax, flute, oboe)
Jeff Hamilton (drums)
Bijon Watson, Snooky Young, Oscar Brashear, Clay Jenkins, Bobby Rodriguez (trumpet)
Ira Nepus, George Bohanon, Isaac Smith, Maurice Spears (trombone)
Keith Fiddmont, Rickey Woodard, Charles Owens, Lee Callet (reeds)
Bill Cunliffe (piano) Christoph Luty (bass) Jim Hershman (guitar)
  1. Shout Me Out
  2. Max
  3. Plunger Mute Syndrome
  4. Yellow Flowers After
  5. Grizzly
  6. Day by Day
  7. Nice to Meet You
  8. One for Horace Tapscott
  9. Barbara's Rose
  10. I Want a Little Girl
  11. How Insensitive
Recorded May 3-4, 2000

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gigi Gryce Quintet - Saying Somethin' ! (1960)

Altoist Gigi Gryce's last regular group before moving to Africa and largely retiring from music was the quintet featured on this CD, two other Prestige/New Jazz sessions and an album for Trip. Gryce's alto matched well with Richard Williams's impressive trumpet and, with fine support from pianist Richard Wyands, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Mickey Roker, the two horns explore mostly blues-based originals by Gryce, Curtis Fuller and Hank Jones. There is more variety than expected and the contrast between Gryce's lyricism and the extroverted nature of Williams's solos make this set fairly memorable. (Scott Yanow)

1.- Back Breaker
2.- Leila's Blues
3.- Blues In The Jungle
4.- Down Home
5.- Let Me Know
6.- Jones Bones

Gigi Gryce (alto saxophone); Richard Williams (trumpet); Richard Wyands (piano); Reggie Workman (bass); Mickey Roker (drums)

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 11, 196o.

Contributions 11

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

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

If you would like to be a guest reviewer, get in touch with me. I will send links to an uploaded but unposted album: you can listen and write a brief (or extensive. Or extensively brief) review to appear on the front page. Payment? Honestly, you slay me sometimes.
Also, although English is primarily used here, we welcome your reviews and comments in any language you prefer.

Duke Ellington - 1947 (Chronological 1086)

Posted here one year ago today. This is from before when evv and aelia ruined it.

The Ellington band was in transition when these sides were cut in 1947. The big-band scene was slowly winding down after World War II, but the group had just signed with Columbia, an assurance of better distribution. But the band was also being handed some pretty weird material -- commercial fare like "Kitty," "Cowboy Rhumba" (with Woody Herman guesting on vocals), and "Antidisestablishmentarianism." There's some great music here, but file this volume under "for completists only." ~ Cub Koda

The notes make the interesting point that Oscar Pettiford was advocating to get some Boppers involved with the Orchestra and that Ellington wouldn't entertain the idea. The notes also point out that Pettiford is the only regular band member that Ellington did not mention in his memoirs. Oscar was a Rudie, apparently.

Duke Ellington (piano)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Ray Nance (trumpet, violin)
Tyree Glenn (trombone, vibraphone)
Billy Strayhorn (piano)
Al Hibbler (vocals)
Woody Herman (vocals)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Sonny Greer (drums)

1. Put Yourself In My Place
2. Cowboy Rhumba
3. The Wildest Gal In Town
4. I Fell And Broke My Heart
5. Antidisestablishmentarianismist
6. Don't Be So Mean To Baby
7. It's Mad, Mad, Mad!
8. You Gotta Crawl Before You Walk
9. Change My Ways
10. Kitty
11. Brown Penny
12. Change My Ways
13. Boogie Bop Blues
14. Sultry Serenade
15. Stomp, Look And Listen
16. Air Conditioned Jungle
17. Three Cent Stomp
18. Progressive Gavotte
19. He Makes Me Believe He's Mine
20. Take Love Easy
21. I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
22. How High The Moon
23. Singin' In The Rain

Bill Coleman - 1952-1953 (Chronological 1381)

I was just thinking what a pleasant photo this was of Coleman when I saw arwulfX2's opening sentence. He's a treasure that guy. And this is a thoroughly enjoyable CD.

In addition to the friendliest photograph of Bill Coleman ever published, this fourth installment in the Classics Coleman chronology presents material performed live in Paris, France. The first 11 tracks were recorded on October 18, 1952, with Coleman as MC in front of a wildly appreciative audience at the Salle Pleyel, 252 Rue de Faubourg St-Honore. The opening number is an extended duet on "Out of Nowhere" played by pianist Randy Downes and bassist Alvin "Buddy" Banks. A brief crowd-pleasing take of "The Sheik" consists mostly of Zutty Singleton beating the hell out of a cymbal. Guy Lafitte is heard on clarinet and tenor sax (very nicely handled on "Ghost of a Chance") and Dicky Wells blows his trombone with either laconic eccentricity or a boisterous if somewhat dog-eared abandon. Coleman, as always, sounds like a trumpeter who was inspired by Louis Armstrong and gradually developed his own sound without ever deviating very far from the Armstrong influence. "Knuckle Head," composed by Coleman and Wells, is a solid example of what in 1945 was often referred to as "rebop." Coleman uses a mute most beautifully on Duke Ellington's "Solitude" and Lafitte demonstrates a Barney Bigard-like approach to the clarinet. "Perdido" heavily features bassist Buddy Banks. The author of the liner notes assumed that Wells was loaded and needed to be "rescued" by Coleman. This is debatable; on the excellent "Red Top" the trombonist sounds like he's fully in command of himself. Given the tastes of the average Parisian jazz head in 1952, it is not surprising that this band ended its gig with a singalong version of "When the Saints Go Marching In." Lafitte's very modern tenor solo on this historical New Orleans street stomp perfectly addresses the European fascination with the entire history of jazz. The rest of the material issued here was recorded at the Cluny Palace in the Cluny de Luxe Hotel on October 23, 1953, with trombonist Bill Tamper, veteran reedman Benny Waters, and a tight rhythm section propelled by percussionist Wallace Bishop. Coleman exercises his vocal chords on the last three tracks. Benny Waters takes one of the toughest solos of his career on Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's rocking "Old Maid Blues," a facetious tune addressed to a 35-year-old woman. ~ arwulf arwulf

Bill Coleman (trumpet)
Benny Waters (alto and soprano sax, clarinet)
Dicky Wells (trombone)
Guy Lafitte (clarinet, tenor sax)
Zutty Singleton (drums)

1. Out Of Nowhere
2. Sheik
3. Royal Garden Blues
4. One O'Clock Jump
5. Ghost of a Chance
6. Knucklehead
7. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
8. In My Solitude
9. Red Top
10. Perdido
11. When the Saints Go Marching In
12. Royal Garden Blues
13. Mood Indigo
14. Lover
15. I Surrender, Dear
16. Old Maid Blues
17. St. Louis Blues

Track Of The Day

Track of the day is just a selection from something I was listening to that particular day.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chico Freeman & Mal Waldron - Up And Down (1989)

"...Waldron controls pace and phrase through placement and volume of dissonant chords and contrary motion...he gently supports [vocalist] Ghiglioni's whispery scat effort and ballad reading, and applies a heavy-rocking waltz to Freeman's soprano..."(Down Beat)

"...Remarkably smooth is this encounter between the rough and ready Chicagoan tenor-player and that archdeacon of anti-Monk..." JazzTimes

1.- Battleground
2.- Hiromi
3.- Tyrolean Waltz
4.- Aftermath
5.- My One and Only Love
6.- Up and Down

Chico Freeman (soprano & tenor saxophones); Mal Waldron (piano); Tiziana Ghiglioni (vocals); Ricky Knauer (bass).

Recorded at Barigozzi Studio, Milan, Italy on July 26 & 27, 1989.

Hoagy Carmichael - Mr. Music Master

I didn't find any review of this record. In a few words, this is a compilation from Naxos Jazz Legends, from 1993, picking recordings made betwen 1927-1947, and with Hoagy and different ensembles, from trios to orchestras. I would rather prefer that some of Mr. Hoagy's own songs, like "Skylark" amd "The nearness of you" were included instead other forgetable songs by other composers, but it's interesting hear the way he does with some of his classics like "Georgia on my mind", "Stardust" and others.
1- The old music master
2- Walkin' the dog
3- Georgia on my mind
4- Am I blue?
5- Thanksgivin'
6- Sing it way down low

7- Hong Kong blues
8- A man could be a wonderful thing
9- Casanova cricket
10- Old man Harlem
11- Billy-A-Dick
12- Doctor, lawyer, indian, chief
13- I can't get started
14- Talking is a woman
15- Memphis in June
16- Don't forget to say "no", baby
17- Ol' buttermilk sky
18- Riverboat shuffle
19- Rockin' chair
20- Huggin' and chalkin'
21- Stardust

Art Farmer - Interaction and Sing Me Softly Of The Blues

This compilation from Collectables restores to circulation two strong Atlantic dates from Art Farmer's immediate post-Jazztet period. One session features Farmer's quartet playing standards with swinging subtlety; the other draws on original writing and has a classic, hard bop feel. Interaction, from 1963, is a vehicle for the intertwining improvisations of guitarist Jim Hall and Farmer, on flügelhorn, who weaves through and around Hall's sublimely understated lines with disarming ease, elegance, and sensitivity. Their approach draws to mind the great duet outings Hall made with pianist Bill Evans (Undercurrent and Intermodulation). Bassist Steve Swallow, at this time still strictly an acoustic player, and drummer Walter Perkins are also given lots of the spotlight in a intimate mix that highlights the quartet's telepathic interplay. The only misgiving is some occasional distortion in Hall's and Swallow's parts. Sing Me Softly of the Blues, the more extroverted of these two dates, is a 1965 session, again with Swallow, along with pianist Steve Kuhn and drummer Pete La Roca. Kuhn frequently plays with go-for-broke intensity, his sheer exuberance more than making up for occasional technical lapses. His keyboard-pounding passion is heard to best advantage on the group's version of Carla Bley's "Ad Infinitum." La Roca, in the mold of the best hard bop drummers, plays with drive, intensity, and an ability to nuance and guide the pulse of a tune. Farmer is masterful throughout, transcending the flügelhorn's inherent mellowness with a tart, crisp, clean articulation that moves with seemingly, effortless grace through legato passages and more sharply punctuated sections. This compilation can be readily recommended to Farmer's fans and to listeners with an interest in any of the players involved. ~ Jim Todd

Kuhn displaces Hall, and though one immediately misses the deftness and subtlety of the master guitarist, the pianist is far from an unworthy substitute. Basically ballad-directed, with Farmer keeping to the flugelhorn, the playing is immaculate and slow-burning as only Farmer's records can be - although the fast closing blues, 'One For Majid', is played with fine energy. ~ Penguin Guide

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Jim Hall (guitar)
Steve Swallow (bass)
Walter Perkins (drums)

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Steve Kuhn (piano)
Steve Swallow (bass)
Pete La Roca (drums)

1. Days of Wine And Roses
2. By Myself
3. My Little Suede Shoes
4. Embraceable You
5. Loads Of Love
6. Sometime Ago

7. Sing Me Softly Of The Blues
8. Ad Infinitum
9. Petite Belle
10. Tears
11. I Waited for You
12. One for Majid

John Coltrane - Lush Life (VIDJ)

Another VIDJ Japanophonic release. Up until last January visitors to Englewood Hospital might have heard a small combo playing in the lobby. Earl May was the bass player, and a very well loved man. He was often accompanied by Roni Ben-Hur, who has released something of a tribute album. This post will bring all the lurkers out - watch and see.

Lush Life (1958) is among John Coltrane's best endeavors on the Prestige label. One reason can easily be attributed to the interesting personnel and the subsequent lack of a keyboard player for the August 16, 1957 session that yielded the majority of the material. Coltrane (tenor sax) had to essentially lead the compact trio of himself, Earl May (bass), and Art Taylor (drums). The intimate setting is perfect for ballads such as the opener "Like Someone in Love." Coltrane doesn't have to supplement the frequent redundancy inherent in pianists, so he has plenty of room to express himself through simple and ornate passages. Unifying the slippery syncopation and slightly Eastern feel of "I Love You" is the tenor's prevalent capacity for flawless, if not downright inspired on-the-spot "head" arrangements that emerge singular and clear, never sounding preconceived. Even at an accelerated pace, the rhythm section ably prods the backbeat without interfering. A careful comparison will reveal that "Trane's Slo Blues" is actually a fairly evident derivation (or possibly a different take) of "Slowtrane." But don't let the title fool you as the mid-tempo blues is undergirded by a lightheartedness. May provides a platform for Coltrane's even keeled runs before the tenor drops out, allowing both May and then Taylor a chance to shine. The fun cat-and-mouse-like antics continue as Taylor can be heard encouraging the tenor player to raise the stakes and the tempo -- which he does to great effect.

The practically quarter-hour reading of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" is not only the focal point of this album, it is rightfully considered as one of Coltrane's unqualified masterworks. The performance hails from January 10, 1958 as Coltrane sits in with Red Garland (piano), Donald Byrd (trumpet), Paul Chambers (bass), and Louis Hayes (drums). Coltrane handles the tune's delicate complexities with infinite style and finesse. Garland similarly sparkles at the 88s, while Byrd's solo offers a bit of a tonal alternative. It should be noted that the reading here does not include a vocal from Johnny Hartman. That version can be found on the ever imaginatively monikered John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (1963). ~ Lindsay Planer

John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Red Garland (piano)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Earl May (bass)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)
Art Taylor (drums)
Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)

1. Like Someone In Love
2. I Love You
3. Trane's Slow Blues
4. Lush Life
5. I Hear A Rhapsody

BN LP 5011 | Milt Jackson - Wizard Of The Vibes

BN LP 5011 | Milt Jackson - Wizard Of The Vibes

This 10" is made up from 2 sessions, one of which was actually Monk as leader. Again re-issued on the 1500 series and again on CD. Monk could certainly stretch his bandmates, so it's a pleasure to hear Milt rise to the challenge.

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

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Benny Carter - Songbook Volume II

This provided me with a momentary quandary when I came across the 2 volumes of this set. On the one hand, I hardly want two CDs of jazz vocalists; on the other hand, it's Benny Carter. Quandary resolved in 2.3 seconds. And the playing - Carter and Vaché particularly - is excellent, and I didn't even mind the vocals on every tune. I never heard of a couple of these chirpers, and am largely unfamiliar with most of the ones whose names I know, but this Diana Krall lassie wasn't too bad. Who'd've guessed? Volume 1 to follow if there's enough interest. Apropos of nothing; these Music Master CDs don't look all that great, but the sound is better than good and the notes are extensive.

The 1997 release of this CD helped Benny Carter celebrate his 90th birthday, featuring 14 of his original ballads by a dozen guests, in addition to a warm tribute to his wife of many years, "When Hilma Smiles," sung by Carter himself in a friendly, unpretentious manner. His smooth alto sax hasn't lost anything over the decades, and the top-notch cornet of Warren Vaché is also a nice touch. The highlights among the guest vocalists' contributions include Nancy Marano's emotional version of "He Doesn't Need Me Now" and Wesla Whitfield's sassy take of "I'm the Caring Kind." ~ Ken Dryden

Benny Carter (alto sax)
Warren Vaché (cornet)
Chris Neville (piano)
Steve LaSpina (bass)
Roy McCurdy (drums)
Sherman Ferguson (drums)

1. My Mind Is Still On You - Joe Williams
2. Echo of My Dream - Diana Krall
3. Rock Me to Sleep - Ruth Brown
4. Stop Me (Before I Fall in Love Again) - Billy Stritch
5. He Doesn't Need Me Now - Nancy Marano
6. Doozy - Jon Hendricks
7. Nevermore - Billy Stritch
8. Malibu - Lainie Kazan
9. Blue Moonlight - Marlena Shaw
10. Evening Star - Kenny Rankin
11. Slow Carousel - Nancy Marano
12. Whisper to One - Barbara Lea
13. I'm the Caring Kind - Wesla Whitfield
14. When Hilma Smiles - Benny Carter

Ken McIntyre with Eric Dolphy - Looking Ahead (VICJ)

I figured I was finished buying Eric Dolphy - at least the Prestige stuff - when I got the box set (posted at some point in the last year). But when these Japanosonic issues come along I do not say no. This is a VICJ, which is the Victor label's equivalent of the Toshiba TOCJ.

It remains McIntyre's misfortune to be remembered chiefly for his brief association with Eric Dolphy and to have been almost entirely overlooked for his work since, except in Scandinavia, where his stock remains high, partly due to the sponsorship of the Steeplchase label, who kept him from obscurity in the '70s. ... With the like-minded Eric Dolphy in tow, McIntyre made a more promising excursion on the well-named Looking Ahead, which is one of the most progressive recordings of it's time, though Bishop, Jones and Taylor are still obviously thinking in the older idiom. Dolphy is, of course, superb, if still raw, and McIntyre almost inevitably plays second fiddle, but the younger man has his own things to say and he makes significant contributions to 'Lautir', 'Geo's Tune', and 'Dianna', not quite putting Dolphy in the shade but certainly making him wait in the shadows for a moment or two. The two saxophonists shared a joyous quality that was not much in evidence in the jazz of the time and there is an infectious exuberence to their side-by-side playing. ~ Penguin Guide

It was quite fitting that Ken McIntyre had an opportunity to record in a quintet with Eric Dolphy, for his multi-instrumental approach was similar to Dolphy's, although he always had a very different sound. On this CD reissue, McIntyre plays alto on four tunes and flute on two others (his work on bassoon, oboe, and bass clarinet would come slightly later), while Dolphy mostly plays alto but doubles on flute on one number and switches to bass clarinet for "Dianna." With pianist Walter Bishop, Jr., bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Art Taylor offering concise solos and swinging support, McIntyre somehow almost holds his own with Dolphy on a variety of originals and George Gershwin's "They All Laughed." A very interesting date. ~ Scott Yanow

Ken McIntyre (flute, alto sax)
Eric Dolphy (flute, alto sax, bass clarinet)
Walter Bishop, Jr. (piano)
Sam Jones (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. Lautir
2. Curtsy
3. Geo's Tune
4. They All Laughed
5. Head Shakin'
6. Dianna

Illinois Jacquet - The Comeback

As I stood in the store, holding this in my hand, I wondered; " This looks interesting, yes, but is it essential? I shall take a chance." ... Dohhhhh!

This is a particularly interesting if not essential set by tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet. While Jacquet is in superior form (and does a suprisingly effective imitation of Ella Fitzgerald singing on the humorous "I Wanna Blow Now") and drummer Tony Crombie is fine in support, the most dominant member of the trio is organist Milt Buckner. His "accompaniment" of Jacquet is often roaring and thunderous, sounding like two big bands at once. The trio, which also explores "The King" (Jacquet's feature in the 1940s with Count Basie), "Easy Living," "C Jam Blues," Jacquet's "The Comeback" and "Take the 'A' Train," is a bit out-of-balance and it is a pity that Buckner could not have played a bit of piano or at least let up a little. ~ Scott Yanow

Illinois Jacquet (tenor sax)
Milt Buckner (organ)
Tony Crombie (drums)

1. King
2. Easy Living
3. C Jam Blues
4. Come Back
5. Take The "A" Train
6. I Wanna Blow Now

Christopher Hollyday - On Course (1990)

One of the "Young Lions" of the late '80s, altoist Christopher Hollyday created a big stir when he appeared on the scene, but maintained a surprisingly low profile after the early '90s. He started playing alto when he was nine, developed quickly, and was playing in clubs when he was 14, the year when he recorded his first album on his own Jazzbeat label. Back then, he was heavily influenced by Charlie Parker, but a few years later Hollyday almost sounded like a clone of Jackie McLean. In 1988, he took a group into the Village Vanguard, and the following year he toured with Maynard Ferguson's big band. During 1989-1992, Hollyday recorded four CDs for Novus, and was starting to develop his own voice when he was dropped from the label.

This 1990 session sounds like a Blue Note date circa 1966 featuring Jackie McLean. At the age of 20, altoist Christopher Hollyday deserved credit for picking a different role model than anyone else in his generation but his advanced originals, creative choice of notes and high energy are consistently overshadowed by his derivative sound. Hollyday does experiment a bit wth the instrumentation, taking "Impromptu," "In a Love Affair" and "Spontaneous" as duets with respectively bassist John Lockwood, pianist Larry Goldings and drummer Ron Savage. The young rhythm section is excellent and the compositions (all but a melodic one-chorus version of "Memories of You" and Goldings' blues-with-a-bridge "Hit and Run" are the altoist's) are strong but Christopher Hollyday at this point did not have an original voice or message of his own. - Scott Yanow

Hollyday went back to school in 1992 to get his teaching certificate. I believe he now teaches high school band in the San Diego area.

Christopher Hollyday (alto sax)
Larry Goldings (piano)
John Lockwood (bass)
Ron Savage (drums)
  1. No Second Quarter
  2. Lady Street
  3. Memories of You
  4. Hit and Run
  5. West Side Winds
  6. Skeptical Spektical
  7. Impromptu
  8. In a Love Affair
  9. Spontaneous
  10. The 6th World
Recorded January 16-17, 1990

Martin brings us...

Martin brings us what will, there can be no doubt, prove to be one of the most popular sets seen at this blog: the five volumes of Mal Waldron's Maturity series. "You'll find deep, dark, wonderful music inside. Wisdom after life. Wisdom before death." Couldn't say it better myself.

Martin has sent all five volumes, and we will begin with volume 5: Elusiveness Of Mt. Fuji

Mal Waldron - Maturity 5: Elusiveness of Mt. Fuji

Mal Waldron (piano)

1 - Remember
2 - The Seagulls of Kristiansund
3 - My Old Flame
4 - In the Wee Small Hours
5 - My Romance
6 - Elusiveness Of Mt. Fuji
7 - My Foolish Heart
8 - As Time Goes By
9 - I Should Care
10 - The Seagulls Of Kristiansund
11 - Remember

July 4, 1996 at Ongaku No Mori Hall/Risonare

Son House - Father of the Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Sessions

First posted one year ago today.

After being rediscovered by the folk-blues community in the early '60s, Son House rose to the occasion and recorded this magnificent set of performances. Allowed to stretch out past the shorter running time of the original 78s, House turns in wonderful, steaming performances of some of his best-known material. On some tracks, House is supplemented by folk-blues researcher/musician Alan Wilson, who would later become a member of the blues-rock group Canned Heat and here plays some nice second guitar and harmonica on several cuts. This two-disc set features alternate takes, some unissued material and some studio chatter from producer John Hammond, Sr. that ocassionally hints at the chaotic nature inherent to some of these '60s "rediscovery" sessions. While not as overpowering as his earlier work (what could be?), all of these sides are so power packed with sheer emotional involvement from House, they're an indispensable part of his canonade.~ Cub Koda

According to legend, it was Son House's blistering bottleneck guitar that prompted Robert Johnson to pick up a six string. House's potent early recordings from 1930 and 1941 to 1942 showcased his raw, emotionally powerful style, but never received the acclaim of Johnson's. When he was rediscovered during the '60s blues revivalist movement, House's voice still possessed wall-shaking intensity and his idiosyncratic slide guitar still had bite. These 21 recordings (including five alternate takes) offer superior fidelity and significant room for House to stretch out. The first disc features his classic "Preachin' Blues," a stirring a capella "Grinning in Your Face," and a nine-minute "Levee Camp Moan," with Canned Heat's Al Wilson on harp. Disc two (outtakes and alternates) includes an odd homage to President Kennedy and a riveting version of the spiritual "Motherless Children." ~ Marc Greilsamer

CD 1
1. Death Letter Blues
2. Pearline
3. Louise McGhee
4. John The Revelator
5. Empire State Express
6. Preachin' Blues
7. Grinnin' In Your Face
8. Sundown
9. Levee Camp Moan

CD 2
1. Death Letter Blues
2. Levee Camp Moan
3. Grinnin' In Your Face
4. John The Revelator
5. Preachin' Blues
6. President Kennedy
7. A Down The Staff
8. Motherless Children
9. Yonder Comes My Mother
10. Shake It And Break It
11. Pony Blues
12. Downhearted Blue

Friday, July 10, 2009

Randy Weston - The Spirits Of Our Ancestors

A couple of months ago I went to a symposium that was entitled Celebrating Jazz In Brooklyn, and it was capped off with an intimate performance by Weston's trio - Alex Blake and Neil Clarke were the others; almost all the pieces he performed were from this album. As I recall, he mentioned that 'African Cookbook' was written for his former bandmate Booker Ervin, and I remember reading that Melba Liston was in Dizzy's band at one time. During a panel discussion at the symposium, Kenyatta Beasley mentioned one of the 'dirty little secrets' that was part of the jazz scene; the "keeping" (yes, quaint, I know) of young performers by older, monied fans. They shut that discussion down quickly, but it had me wondering about the common and accepted practice of rape that female members of these big bands had to endure. Liston fleetingly refers to it in Central Avenue Sounds, and it still chills me to think of how off-handedly she dealt with the subject.

Randy Weston grew up in Brooklyn in the Forties, picking up musical tips and encouragement from Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and other founding fathers of modern jazz, many of whom were customers at his father's luncheonette. He was already a uniquely gifted piano stylist – percussive, jabbing, with an underlying rhythmic undulation and a singular gift for tart harmonies and melodic elegance – when he began recording in the Fifties. His distinctive compositions, all written in the 3/4 and 6/8 rhythms that are much more common in African music than the 4/4 of jazz, rapidly became musicians' favorites, then jazz standards.

But opportunities to record his music with sufficient preparation and rehearsal were few. Rather than scuffle for gigs in New York, Weston headed for Africa in the early Sixties. He settled in Tangier, Morocco, venturing out for visits to black Africa and regular performances in Europe, along with periodic returns to the New York jazz scene.

Ever since Weston's first visits to Africa, his music has become more African at its deep-structure levels of rhythmic and tonal organization. But unlike many musicians who develop a fresh cultural orientation, Weston has also maintained a profound appreciation for jazz in all its historic and stylistic permutations. The Spirits of Our Ancestors, a long double CD without one wasted note, features soloists as generationally and stylistically diverse as classic bebop trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Idreess Sulieman, longtime Count Basie trombonist Benny Powell and avant-garde saxophone firebrands Pharoah Sanders, Dewey Redman and Billy Harper. Each man sings his own song in solos of consistently breathtaking invention and clarity. And in Weston's music, they find enough common ground to unleash a steamrolling ensemble momentum, playing like one of the great late Fifties/early Sixties Charlie Mingus bands.

With the help of Melba Liston, his arranger of choice for more than three decades, Weston has extended the complex scaffolding of rhythm lines fundamental to much African music all the way up through the piano keyboard and into the horn charts, as well as down through the percussion to the bottom of the drum kit. The music is profoundly African in structure and feel, and deep jazz to its core. It has the emotional force and powerful wisdom of Coltrane, Mingus or Ellington. Spirits is the kind of "jazz" record that, like Miles's Kind of Blue, connects with anyone who hears it. Listen up. ~ Robert Palmer

Weston has been exploring African music since the first decade of his career, and even lived on the continent for a time. He again works with longtime collaborator Melba Liston as his arranger (who also helped shape his Little Niles, Earth Blues, Volcano Blues and Khepera albums, among others). They've enlisted a stellar cast of players this time out, including Dizzy Gillespie, Dewey Redman, and Pharoah Sanders. There's a gorgeous, epic heft to much of the material--in particular, the 17-minute "African Cookbook," which is equal parts sweeping soundscape and vibrant journey. This two-disc set from 1992 followed Randy Weston's Portrait series on which he offered his interpretations of key musical figures in his background (Monk, Ellington). For this set he explores the deeper roots of the music, reaching back to its African traditions.

Randy Weston (piano)
Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
Pharoah Sanders (tenor sax, gaita)
Billy Harper (tenor sax)
Dewey Redman (tenor sax)
Benny Powell (trombone)
Yassir Chadly (vocals, percussion)
Talib Kibwe (alto sax, alto flute)
Alex Blake (bass)
Jamil Nasser (bass)
Idris Muhammad (drums)
Big Black (percussion)
Azzedin Weston (percussion)

CD 1
1. African Village Bedford-Stuyvesant 1
2. The Healers
3. African Cookbook
4. La Elaha-Ella Allah / Morad Allah
5. The Call

CD 2
1. African Village Bedford-Stuyvesant 2
2. The Seventh Queen
3. Blue Moses
4. African Sunrise
5. A Prayer For Us All

A couple of Baker records

The first one is dedicated to the songs of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, who used to work in Broadway musicals. Jazz and Broadway have always had a good relation, although the answer of critics and public sometimes was not very warm. This Lerner & Loewe is one of my favourites. Not only because of Baker, but the presence of Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams and Bill Evans is also an added value.
The second one is a re-issue of a colaboration with guitarrist Philip Catherine and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse, which originally appeared under the name of the three musics. This re-issue is titled "Estate" and includes, as bonus track, a live version of one the icons in Baker's career, "My Funny Valentine".

Chet Baker - 1959 Plays The Best Of Lerner & Loewe

This is one of the last Chet Baker (trumpet) long players recorded in the States prior to the artist relocating to Europe in the early '60s. Likewise, the eight-tune collection was the final effort issued during his brief association with the Riverside Records imprint. The project was undoubtedly spurred on by the overwhelming success of the Shelly Manne-led combo that interpreted titles taken from the score to My Fair Lady (1956). In addition to becoming an instant classic, Manne's LP was also among of the best-selling jazz platters of all time. While Baker and crew may have gained their inspiration from Manne, these readings are comparatively understated. That said, the timelessness of the melodies, coupled with the assembled backing aggregate, make Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner and Loewe (1959) a memorable concept album. Although Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe had produced a number of well-received and luminous entries, half of the material on this disc is derived from My Fair Lady (1956). "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" is given a languid torch song treatment that spirals around Baker's cool inconspicuous leads, featuring some equally sublime contributions from Zoot Simms (alto sax/tenor sax). This contrasts the resilient and free-spirited waltz on "I Could Have Danced All Night," which benefits from Herbie Mann's (flute) breezy counterpoint and solo. Bill Evans (piano) also lays down some tasty licks over top of the solid rhythm of Earl May (bass) and Clifford Jarvis (drums). "On the Street Where You Live" is a highlight, as the personnel take the time to stretch out and thoroughly examine with some key counterpoint between Baker's honey-toned horn and Pepper Adams' (baritone sax) husky and ample involvement. Of the non-My Fair Lady sides, "The Heather on the Hill" and a superior "Almost Like Being in Love" hail from Brigadoon (1947), while the scintillating and smoldering "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" comes from Gigi (1958). Not to be missed is "I Talk to the Trees," with an unhurried and evenly measured tempo that is coupled to Baker's austere, yet rich and purposeful lines.
Lindsay Planer

01. I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face (from My Fair Lady) 4:13
02. I Could Have Danced All Night (from My Fair Lady) 3:39
03. The Heather On The Hill (from Brigadoon) 5:03
04. On The Street Where You Live (from My Fair Lady) 8:35
05. Almost Like Being in Love (from Brigadoon) 4:50
06. Thank Heaven For Little Girls (from Gigi) 4:33
07. I Talk To The Trees (from Paint Your Wagon) 5:49
08. Show Me (from My Fair Lady) 6:29

All songs by Lerner & Loewe

Chet Baker (trumpet)
Zoot Sims (alto & tenor saxophones)
Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone)
Herbie Mann (flute)
Bill Evans, Bob Corwin (piano)
Earl May (bass)
Clifford Jarvis (drums)

Recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, New York, on July 21 & 22, 1959

Chet Baker - 1983 Estate

This release contains Chet Baker’s complete September 1983 studio date in Brussels - with a trio, featuring guitarist Philip Catherine and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse. There is also a bonus track by the same trio performing a live, 10-minute plus version of Baker’s celebrated ‘hit’, My Funny Valentine in Europe, in the Spring of 1985.

01 Crystal Bells (Mariano) 6:17
02 Strollin' (Silver) 7:25
03 Lament (Johnson) 7:37
04 Leaving (Beirach) 9:43
05 Cherokee (Noble) 6:49
06 Estate (Martino) 5:31
07 My Funny Valentine (Rodgers, Hart) 10:17 *

* Bonus Track

Chet Baker, Trumpet
Philip Catherine, Guitar
Jean-Louis Rassinfosse, Bass

Recorded in Brussels, Belgium on September, 1983
* Recorded in Europe, spring 1985

David Murray Quartet - Death Of A Sideman

I expect a couple of oohs and ahhs here, but, come on already, this has been here since two years ago today. The posts from one year ago today aren't too shabby either.

Though issued under David Murray's name, this might be more properly considered a Bobby Bradford album, as he wrote all of the material and plays cornet as a quintet member throughout. Designed as a series of reflections on the life of the kind of musician who toils away out of the limelight, doing a good workmanlike job and, eventually, dying without having received any recognition, the suite has something of an elegiac tone. "Have You Seen Sideman?," which opens and closes the album, contains a sad wistfulness, as though bemoaning chances not taken, avenues not pursued. Bradford, an early associate of Ornette Coleman, here teams up once again with Ornette's drummer of choice, Ed Blackwell, and the two have some spirited exchanges on pieces like "Woodshedetude." His work is calmly supple throughout, providing a valuable counterweight to Murray's stratospheric flights. A duo of the two horns, "Sidesteps," achieves the beauty of a quiet, deep conversation and is a highlight of this disc. The late rhythm team of Hopkins and Blackwell are a joy to hear, and when they are joined by Dave Burrell (who appears on less than half the cuts), things gel to a point where few horn players could possibly have a bad day playing along. Bradford's compositions are varied and loose, adhering to relatively traditional structures (in an Ornette sense, anyway) while allowing for stretching and expansiveness. The solos flow naturally out of the thematic material without the theme-solos-theme rigidity that often hampers this type of approach. Death of a Sideman is one of the stronger efforts in Murray's mature catalog, thanks in no small part to the presence and guiding hand of Bobby Bradford. Recommended.

David Murray (tenor sax, clarinet)
Bobby Bradford (cornet)
Dave Burrell (piano)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Ed Blackwell (drums)

1. Have You Seen Sideman
2. Woodshedetude
3. Waiting For Thelonious
4. Little Pain
5. Sidesteps
6. Gates Of Hell
7. Bosom Of Abraham
8. Have You Seen Sideman

Recorded October 18-19, 1991 at Power Station, NYC

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jay Clayton & Don Lanphere - The Jazz Alley Tapes (1988)

Documenting a live recording from Seattle's Jazz Alley, this disc brings together the intriguing duo of vocal experimentalist Jay Clayton and Don Lanphere whose saxophone is grounded in bop. As it turns out, the session is more than intriguing, it is an entertaining 70 minutes of exciting, unadulterated jazz by outstanding performers. Unlike many albums where the singer does a chorus and then the sax player comes for one, with the singer cleaning up, on this set Clayton uses her voice as an instrument playing in unison with Lanphere's saxophone, whether it be the tenor, alto or soprano. The album legitimately could have been subtitled "Sonatas for Voice and Saxophone," recognizing that there is also a sonata for voice and flute, that being "My Silent Love." Clayton has an extraordinary clear voice which allows you to hear and appreciate her lyrical interpretations; there's no mumbling here. Her pitch is perfect and her phrasing impeccable. Like most good jazz vocalists, she takes risks, but not just for the sake of doing so. They make sense within the context of the music and the arrangements. No song captures the performing philosophy more than the Hammerstein/Romberg operetta classic, "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" This tune is a favorite of many jazz singers apparently because the chord structure provides plenty of room for improvising. Here Clayton puts her scatting and wordless music technique on display, to excellent effect, working in concert with the rhythm section. Lanphere's tenor and Marc Seales' piano get serious solo time on this cut. "Softly" becomes a tour de force without resorting to frenetic, disquieting loud playing. On "I Remember Clifford," trumpet player Jay Thomas is appropriately awarded the lion's share solo space. Thomas, who has graced the albums of other Seattle-based singers like Katie King, is deserving of wider recognition. Marc Seales' pianism is not his only contribution; his composition "New Stories" becomes a vehicle for Lanphere's soprano sax. Lanphere's own "A.C.," based on the chord changes of Sonny Rollins' "Airegin," provides an appropriate coda for this session. Because this is a live performance without the time and artistic constraints usually associated with a studio recording, most of the tunes go on for more than 6 minutes. This allows Clayton, Lanphere and their cohorts plenty of time to explore all musical possibilities. - Dave Nathan

Jay Clayton (vocals)
Don Lanphere (tenor, soprano sax)
Jay Thomas (trumpet, alto sax, flute)
Jeff Hay (trombone)
Marc Seales (piano)
Chuck Deardorf (bass)
Dean Hodges (drums)
  1. You're a Weaver of Dreams
  2. The Nearness of You
  3. Softly as in a Morning Sunrise
  4. I Remember Clifford
  5. New Stories
  6. Love for Sale
  7. I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face
  8. My Silent Love
  9. Mr. P.C.
  10. A.C.
Recorded at Jazz Alley, Seattle, September 9-10, 1988

Duke Ellington - The Treasury Shows Vol. 6

The Duke Ellington Treasury Series, which was aired weekly during April-November 1945 and April-October 1946, was initially issued by the Merritt Record Society on LPs in the 1980s. Storyville, in its DETS series, has been not only bringing back all of the music in its two-fer series, but augmenting the broadcasts with other live Ellington performances from the era. All of these broadcasts are well-recorded and feature the underrated mid-'40s Ellington orchestra in prime form. One has to sit through a few bond promos during each program, which are delivered a bit heavy-handedly, but the valuable music makes it well worth it. At the time, the Ellington band had major soloists in trumpeters/cornetists Rex Stewart, Taft Jordan, Cat Anderson, and Ray Nance, trombonists Tricky Sam Nanton and Lawrence Brown, Al Sears on tenor, clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, altoist Johnny Hodges, and baritonist Harry Carney, not to mention the leader on piano and fine singers in Al Hibbler, Joya Sherrill, Kay Davis, and Ray Nance; there is certainly no shortage in talent! The repertoire in the series includes Ellington standards, a few tunes that Duke never otherwise recorded, and extended works, including on this two-fer "New World A-Comin'." Other highlights of this set (which has two Treasury Show broadcasts from June 1945 and an October 1945 set from the Zanzibar) include fine versions of "India," "Cotton Tail," "Let the Zoomers Drool," "Stompy Jones," and "Body & Soul." Duke Ellington fans will want all of the entries in this extensive series. ~ Scott Yanow

The approx. 40 tunes (1 hour & 20 min.) on this double-CD are radio broadcast performances from the Spring and Fall of 1945, made at theatres and military installations in the eastern and mid-western U.S., where Duke Ellington was not only out to please his audience, but also raise money for the war effort (WWII was still on) by selling bonds via the radio broadcasts.

The repertoire is mostly Ellington hits from the 40’s, plus some from the 30’s – all tailored to please the live audience (including the folks who wanted to dance) as well as the radio audience. The genre is solid Ellington swing, including some dance tunes. The many vocals included here (mainly by Joya Sherill) gave consolation to the audience during the war years. As is normally the case with Duke Ellington, even though one has heard the same tune many times, it is performed completely differently each time so that one never tires of hearing it.

This music shows Duke Ellington in his prime, and is an important addition to the collection of Ellington fans. Of the 40 tunes on this double-CD, Sunny Side of The Street, Cotton Tail, Harlem Air Shaft and Warm Valley are among the best. The sound quality has been enhanced greatly through re-mastering.

Duke Ellington (piano)
Cat Anderson (trumpet)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Harry Carney (baritone sax)
Ray Nance (trumpet, violin)
Rex Stewart (cornet)
Lawrence Brown (trombone)
Al Hibbler (vocals)
Joya Sherrill (vocals)

Eric Dolphy & Booker Little Remembered Live At Sweet Basil, Volumes 1 and 2

In memory of the great tandem of alto saxophonist/flutist/bass clarinetist Dolphy and trumpeter Little, Blanchard and Harrison team with the same rhythm section -- Mal Waldron on piano, Richard Davis on bass, Ed Blackwell on drums -- who backed those modern jazz pioneers, who played 25 years hence at the Five Spot (The Great Concert of Eric Dolphy on Prestige.) These sessions at Sweet Basil/NYC do great justice to that historic juncture while creating a little history of their own in the process. There are three lengthy selections. "The Prophet" is almost 22 minutes of the sheer joy and bluesy madness that so typified the Dolphy sound. The band captures a sourdough, bluesy swagger. Harrison's solo is less edgy but just as frantic as Dolphy's, while Blanchard is Blanchard, capturing the melodicism but not the bite of Little. Blackwell spontaneously doubles the time during the trumpeter's solo, settles it back, and then lets Waldron and Davis rest in a solid groove. "Aggression" is the highlight: a lightning fast, ribald-toned hard-bop line played perfectly. This is where Waldron's signature vamping comes to the forefront; his deep, blue-grey chords express his completely individual sound during the trio-only section. "Booker's Waltz" has Harrison switching to bass clarinet, with not quite the same childlike depth as Dolphy, and mixed a little thin. This is a beautiful, 3/4-paced song that ebbs and flows naturally, all members listening and responding in less dramatic ways. Despite eventual stylistic comparisons, which are truthfully minor, the intentions of this recording and its execution produce more than delightful results. It's a major coup for Blanchard and Harrison. Further proof is found on the companion disc Fire Dance. Recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Terence Blanchard (trumpet)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Donald Harrison (alto sax, bass clarinet)
Richard Davis (bass)
Eddie Blackwell (drums)

CD 1
1. The Prophet
2. Aggression
3. Booker's Waltz

Terence Blanchard and Donald Harrison continued their homage to the Eric Dolphy/Booker Little duo with a second set of performances recorded at Sweet Basil. They featured "Fire Waltz" and "Bee Vamp," two more tunes the duo immortalized during their Five Spot performances. Their versions are well intentioned, frequently exciting, and superbly played. But they are not transcendent for the simple reason that Harrison lacks Dolphy's fluency on either alto sax or bass clarinet, and Blanchard does not possess Little's command of the upper register or his embrouchure. That is not a knock; they certainly clicked with the rhythm section of pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Ed Blackwell, who did play on the originals. Both of these volumes are highly recommended, but if you have not heard the originals, do whatever it takes to get them. ~ Ron Wynn

CD 2
1. Number Eight
2. Fire Waltz
3. Bee Vamp

Recorded live at Sweet Basil, New York: October 3-4, 1986

Eric Dolphy & Booker Little - At The Five Spot, vol. 1 (RVG Remasters)

After having left the ensemble of Charles Mingus and upon working with John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy formed a short-lived but potent quintet with trumpeter Booker Little, who would pass away three months after this recording. Despite all of the obstacles and subsequent tragedy, this quintet became legendary over the years -- justifiably so -- and developed into a role model for all progressive jazz combos to come. The combined power of Dolphy and Little -- exploring overt but in retrospect not excessive dissonance and atonality -- made them a target for critics but admired among the burgeoning progressive post-bop scene. With the always stunning shadings of pianist Mal Waldron, the classical-cum-daring bass playing of Richard Davis, and the colorful drumming of alchemistic Ed Blackwell, there was no stopping this group. Live at the legendary Five Spot Café in New York City, this band set the Apple, and the entire jazz world on their collective ears. "Fire Waltz" demonstrates perfectly how the bonfire burns from inside the soul of these five brilliant provocateurs, as Dolphy's sour alto and Little's dour trumpet signify their new thing. Dolphy's solo is positively furious, while Blackwell nimbly switches up sounds within the steady 3/4 beat. "Bee Vamp" does not buzz so much as it roars in hard bop trim. A heavy tandem line breaks and separates in the horn parts like booster rockets. Blackwell is even more amazing, and Dolphy's ribald bass clarinet set standards that still influences players of the instrument. Where "The Prophet" is a puckery blues, it is also open armed with minor phrasings and stretched harmonics. This is where Waldron and Davis shine in their terra cotta facades of roughly hewn accompaniments to Dolphy and Little's bold flavored statements. A shorter alternate take of "Bee Vamp" is newly available, shorter by two-and-a-half minutes and with a clipped introductory melody. Most hail this first volume, and a second companion album from the same sessions, as music that changed the jazz world as much as Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane's innovative excursions of the same era. All forward thinking and challenged listeners need to own these epic club dates.

1.- Fire Waltz
2.- Bee Vamp
3.- The Prophet
4.- Bee Vamp (alternate take)

Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone & bass clarinet); Booker Little (trumpet); Mal Waldron (piano); Richard Davis (bass); Eddie Blackwell (drums).

Recorded at The Five Spot, NYC, on July 16, 1961.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hank Jones - The Hank Jones Quartet

In 1955, most jazz pianists were immersed in the school of Bud Powell. Jones is unique in that he developed his harmonic concept prior to Powell's ascendancy and the bebop revolution, but went on to fully assimilate the melodic vocabulary of bop. He has synthesized important elements from many great players into his own recognizable style ... Jones plays swinging bop lines on his original "We're All Together" and his blues head, "Odd Number," displays the Powell influence most clearly. Upon hearing the delicate touch and harmonic subtlety with which Jones plays ballads -- one can imagine that a young Bill Evans was quite familiar with this recording. Jones' mastery of block chords is particularly impressive.

Hank Jones (piano)
Bobby Jaspar (flute, tenor sax)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)

1. Moonlight Becomes You
2. Relaxin' At Camarillo
3. Minor Conception
4. Sunday In Savannah
5. Spontaneous Combustion

Recorded on August 21, 1956

Erroll Garner - Too Marvelous For Words (The Erroll Garner Collection vol. 3)

The third volume in a series of unissued recordings that Emarcy began issuing in th late 1980s over a decade after Erroll Garner's death comes from a previously unknown 1954 record date. Like all of his trio dates, the rhythm section, including bassist Wyatt Ruther and drummer Eugene Heard, strictly provides a supporting role for the pianist. This date is a bit different than many of Garner's releases, as it includes a piano novelty (Zez Confrey's "Kitten on the Keys"), a brisk take of the normally placid "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" and other pieces one wouldn't usually associate with him. More than a few of the old songs present on this session were recorded by the great Art Tatum, so it is possible that Garner was exposed to them through the virtuoso pianist's recordings, though Garner never deviates from his trademarked approach to the piano. Like other volumes in this series of collectable Garner CDs, this disc disappeared from print with a few years of its 1990 release, so it will be somewhat challenging to find ~ Ken Dryden.

One of the adjectives most often applied to him was "inimatable," but it was dead wrong. Erroll Garner's style was so distinctive that he became, in fact, imitable; arguably the most imitated pianist of them all, although nobody could really capture the total essence.
Erroll himself was the last to offer explanations of what made him run. He just wanted to make people happy, he would say. He succeeded.
He delighted even the musicians who worked with him, though he would he would terrify them at times by leaving them wondering, during one of those cryptic introductions, what tune he was about to play and in which key.
These 14 songs add up to 54 minutes of music, which would mean that they took two or three hours to record - possibly less. Erroll must have had women on his mind that day: here are Cecilia, Margie, Louise, Ramona, Sal, Dinah, and Peg. Most of the contents are tunes he had never recorded before; some were never recorded again.
Hoochie-coochie-coo, Erroll. ~ Leonard Feather (excerpts from the album's notes)

Gene Krupa & Buddy Rich - Krupa and Rich (1955)

Even if you don't like Krupa & Rich - there's Diz & Roy, Illinois & Flip, Thad & Joe, Frog & Wess - all at the top of their game. The last two selections are bonus tracks originally released on The Wailing Buddy Rich, also from 1955.

Although drummers Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich are pictured together on this CD's cover, they actually only play together on one selection, a lengthy "Bernie's Tune." The first five performances (with two songs apiece for Rich and Krupa) also feature solos from trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge, tenors Flip Phillips and Illinois Jacquet and pianist Oscar Peterson; Rich is reasonably restrained on his numbers but has his explosive moments. "Bernie's Tune" is far superior to the in-concert Rich/Krupa drum battles that were recorded at other times. The final two performances find Rich leading a different all-star group with consistently excellent solos from trumpeters Thad Jones and Joe Newman and tenors Ben Webster and Frank Wess. This swinging set (which contains formerly rare recordings) is easily recommended to fans of straightahead and bop-oriented jazz. - Scott Yanow

Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Illinois Jacquet, Flip Phillips (tenor sax)
Oscar Peterson (piano)
Herb Ellis (guitar)
Ray Brown (bass)
Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich (drums)

1. Buddy's Blues
2. Bernie's Tune
3. Gene's Blues
4. Sweethearts on Parade
5. I Never Knew

Recorded November 1, 1955

Thad Jones, Joe Newman (trumpet)
Ben Webster, Frank Wess (tenor sax)
Oscar Peterson (piano)
Freddie Green (guitar)
Ray Brown (bass)
Buddy Rich (drums)

6. Sunday
7. The Monster

Recorded May 16, 1955

Seegs brings us ...

Another installment in what has become one of the most popular features around here. I remind you again that these are entirely through the efforts of SEEGS.

The Best Pianists You Never Heard…Maybe: Part 7- Junko Onishi

Live at the Village Vanguard 1

Live at the Village Vanguard 2

Junko Onishi came into the jazz world armed with impressive classical technique, a fiery imagination, a fine sense of melody, and a strong rhythmic pulse. She was a Blue Note and EMI recording artist, played with Jackie McLean, Phil Woods, and Joe Lovano. She was well on her way to stardom.

And then Junko Onishi disappeared—utterly. Her last recording, “Fragile,” appeared in 1999. Not a sound has been heard from Junko Onishi in the 10 years since. She has no web site. She hasn’t appeared at a keyboard anywhere that I can find. I wrote to Blue Note asking about her, but received no reply. I wrote to Scott Yanow, who did her bio for AMG, but received no reply.

Finally, in an exchange of e-mails BabyBreeze mentioned he had heard that she simply left music to raise a family. It seems strange to me that someone with any degree of prominence at all could disappear so completely. I certainly hope she is happily raising her kids—and maybe thinking about playing again.

Lucky for us, she left behind some terrific CDs and in this series I will post them all except the excellent recording, “Cruisin’,” which is available in lossless at Baby Breeze Music and “Fragile,” which I posted here on November 7, 2008. The links are still active:

(can be found in comments)

The Village Vanguard recordings received excellent notices: “This is a memorable set. When pianist Junko Onishi performs songs from the likes of Charles Mingus ("So Long Eric"), John Lewis ("Concorde"), and Ornette Coleman ("Congeniality"), she interprets each of the tunes as much as possible within the intent and style of its composer. "So Long Eric," although performed by her trio, gives one the impression at times that several horns are soloing together; in addition, polyrhythms are utilized part of the time, Ornette's "Congeniality" has a strong pulse but fairly free improvising, while "Concorde" sounds both distinguished and full of blues feeling, like John Lewis himself. Onishi's exploration of "Blue Skies" uplifts the warhorse through the use of colorful vamps and an altered melody, she takes the slow ballad "Darn That Dream" as a medium-tempo stomp, and her original, "How Long Has This Been Goin' On," is brooding but not downbeat and swings hard without losing its serious nature. There is not a weak selection in the bunch and the interplay between Onishi, bassist Reginald Veal, and drummer Herlin Riley is quite impressive.” (Scott Yanow)

Live at the Village Vanguard Volumes 1 & 2

Junko Onishi piano
Reginald Veal bass
Herlin Riley drums

Volume 1
1. So Long Eric
2. Blue Skies
3. Concorde
4. How Long Has this Been Going On
5. Darn that Dream
6. Congeniality

Volume 2
1. The House of Blue Lights
3. Never Let Me Go
3. Brilliant Corners
4. Ringo Oiwake
5. Tea for Two

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Charlie Parker - Young Bird: Volumes 1 & 2 - 1940-1944

Posted one year ago today.

An early, and hard to find, release from the excellent Masters of Jazz series. Here is Bird in his early days, and with the likes of Efferge Ware who taught him much about theory and harmony; with Bud Powell in Cootie Williams outfit, and even recordings of him playing along with Benny Goodman and Hazel Scott records.

The first two volumes of Young Bird, an outstanding multi-disc overview of the early career of alto saxophone genius Charlie "Bird" Parker, cover the war years 1940-44, when swing was the order of the day and big bands were at their peak. In fact, the earliest tracks here feature the unusual kick of hearing Parker's unmistakable tones--his musical voice seems to have sprung forth fully formed--in the middle of otherwise standard big band fare by Jay McShann and his Orchestra, including an assortment of big band standards. Most of the second disc covers tracks from Parker's earliest days as a leader, featuring several lineups of the Charlie Parker Trio. Parker is mostly exploring the blues here, but the Lester Young influence starts to take hold over the course of these tracks, and by the set's third version of "Body and Soul," Parker and cohorts are playing pure bop.

"...some remarkable performances by the young Charlie Parker with pianist Jay McShann's Orchestra. First Bird is heard at the age of 20 with an octet from McShann's big band playing six standards and a blues; his solos on "Lady Be Good" and particularly "Honeysuckle Rose" are classic. Then, after Parker's early version of "Cherokee" from 1942 with the house band at Monroe's Uptown House, one gets to hear what Bird really sounded like on a typical night with Jay McShann's big band. Parker's studio recordings with McShann's Orchestra were three-minute affairs that generally gave him a chorus at the most but, on this 1942 broadcast, Bird really stretches out on a few of the songs, particularly "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," and shows just how advanced a player he was at that early stage. " ~ Scott Yanow

Charlie Parker (alto and tenor sax)
Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Efferge Ware (guitar)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Little Phil Philips (drums)
Jay McShann & His Orchestra
Cootie Williams Sextet

CD 1
1. Honeysuckle Rose/Body And Soul
2. Walkin' And Swingin'
3. I've Found A New Baby
4. Body And Soul
5. Moten Swing
6. Coquette
7. Oh! Lady Be Good
8. Wichita Blues
9. Honeysuckle Rose
10. Swingmatism
11. Hootie Blues
12. Dexter Blues
13. One Woman's Man
14. St. Louis Mood
15. I'm Forever Blowing Bu...
16. Hootie Blues
17. Swingmatism
18. Cherokee

CD 2
1. Lonely Boy Blues
2. The Jumpin' Blues
3. Sepian Bounce
4. Cherokee
5. My Heart Tells Me
6. I've Found A New Baby
7. Body And Soul
8. Sweet Georgia Brown
9. Indiana
10. Unknown Title
11. Three Guesses
12. Boogie Woogie
13. Yardin' With Yard
14. Body And Soul
15. Embraceable You
16. China Boy
17. Avalon
18. You Talk A Little Trash

Monday, July 6, 2009

Donald Byrd - First Flight

Byrd's first actual recording was an obscure band when he was 15 years old; here he is at 23 in good company and the road rising ahead of him. Check the archives for his next appearances, all revolving around the Bohemia. One is listed under Cannonball, Summer of '55, another is the Oscar Pettiford Bethlehem, and the other George Wallington's At The Bohemia. Some discographies have the first two as being prior to this session: any thoughts, opinions, insights? Let the games begin.

This CD reissue contains trumpeter Donald Byrd's debut on records. Recorded in his native Detroit with such local players as tenor saxophonist Yusef Lateef, pianist Berry Harris and Bernard McKinney on euphonium, Byrd is heard at the age of 22 when he was very much influenced by Clifford Brown. Unlike Byrd, Lateef already had his own style at this early stage. The sextet mostly performs bop originals plus a blues, "Yusef" and "Torsion Level"; all of the music is straightahead and swinging. A fine beginning for the very interesting career of Donald Byrd. ~ Scott Yanow

The names and musical reputations of Donald Byrd and Yusef are well known where ever jazz is played. When this live concert was recorded, in Detroit at the New World Stage, August 23, 1955, their fame had not yet reached the heights they now enjoy. Donald Byrd may very well have been making his recorded debut at this concert. Although his style here is quite different and not as individually developed as his present one, it is full of exhuberance, swing, good taste, and very pure of sound. Byrd also emerged from the endless stream of talent that is Detroit, about the time this album was cut. Clifford Brown was the dominate trumpet voice at that time, and it is not difficult to hear Donald's fondness for that great musician.

Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Yusef Lateef (tenor sax)
Bernard McKinney (euphonium)
Barry Harris (piano)
Alvin Jackson (bass)
Frank Gant (drums)

1. Blues
2. Tortion Level
3. Woody 'N You
4. Dancing In The Dark
5. Parisian Thoroughfare
6. Yusef
7. Shaw 'Nuff

dollar brand -- african space program

so here he is, aka abdullah ibrahim, with the african space program. i have only started listening to the man in the last few years and i like him better and better and better. i was lucky enough to see him play a solo piano set last month and he impressed the hell out of me.
to be sure, i am not much of an avant garde or free jazz guy. most of the time i am overwhelmed and just can't find a groove which is upsetting to me because i too want to be among the cool guys like jurek who can discuss interval cracks and whatever all else. but the fact is most of the time it sounds noisy and self indulgent to me. even here i get lost sometimes and it is a bit much, but there is a lot that i like as well particularly the first side which doesn't get too crazy. in any case i definitely got a better grip on side two the second time i heard it and this lp deserves a listen even if i, or you, might prefer some of his other records. the sound quality is a little muddy, at first i thought it was my copy of the lp but i later confirmed at amg that it is the recording.

check into it if you'se like.

on enja records from a nov 7, 1973 session with cecil bridgewater tp, enrico rava tp, charles sullivan tp, kiani zawadi tb, sonny fortune fl, carlos ward fl, roland alexander harm, ts, john stubblefield ts, hamiet bluiett bs, cecil mcbee b, roy brooks perc.

Louie Bellson - London Scene (1980) [LP > FLAC]

Recorded at P.R.T. Studios in London, this Louie Bellson Big Band session features five originals composed by the leader with four of them arranged by Tommy Newsom and one by Don Menza. Menza also did the arrangement of Ellington's "Don't You Know I Care". "Blue" is Bobby Shew's tribute to his idol, Blue Mitchell, arranged by Gordon Brisker, and "Night Flight" is an original by Alan Downey.

There is ample solo space for Bobby Shew on both trumpet and flugelhorn, and pianist Frank Strazzeri. Other featured soloists include Arnie Lawrence and Andy Mackintosh on alto sax, and Joe Romano and Kenny Hitchcock on tenor sax.

Recorded in 1980 and released in 1981, this Concord LP has yet to be reissued on CD.

Bobby Shew, Brian O'Flaherty, Frank Szabo, Alan Downey, Neil Balm (trumpet)
Rick Chamberlain, Clint Sharman, Hale Rood, Don Mikkelsen (trombone)
Arnie Lawrence, Andy Mackintosh (alto sax)
Joe Romano, Kenny Hitchcock (tenor sax)
Bill Jones (baritone sax)
Frank Strazzeri (piano)
John Heard (bass)
Louie Bellson (drums)
  1. A Little Syncopation, Please
  2. Don't You Know I Care (Or Don't You Care to Know)
  3. Brush Me Off
  4. Green Light Blues
  5. The Music Makes You Move
  6. Blue
  7. Easy Time
  8. Night Flight

Junior Mance Trio - Junior's Blues

First posted two years ago. Also posted that day were Pedro Iturralde, Art Blakey, Clifford Jordan, Oliver Nelson ... check 'em out.

At age 33 for this one, Mance (piano), with Bob Cranshaw (bass) and Mickey Roker (drums), has all the jazz and blues bases covered, going back to boogie and stride, through swing and bop, with a couple of more modernistic numbers rounding out this complete overview of classic American soul-based black music. Mance evokes wonderfully patient, romantic notions on "Creole Love Call," with creamy, molasses-like melodicism stirred by Roker's expert brush work. "Yancey Special" has Mance digging in and getting down as Roker shuffles along. "In the Evening" is much more tinkling and upbeat here than Leroy Carr wrote it, whereas the hard-swinging "Jumpin' the Blues" is as much fun to hear as it must have been to play. At his most delicate on Ray Brown's "Gravy Waltz," Mance starts solo, staggering the melody, while a relaxed "Blue Monk" has Mance tossing in extra notes during the melody, Roker's intricate brush work personifying cool. Mance also wrote three originals for the date: "Down the Line" is a straight up-and-down 12-bar blues, replete with tinkles and head-nodding chords; "Rainy Mornin' Blues" evokes the falling precipitation's patterns in soulful tones; while "Cracklin'" is the most urgent swinger, with repeated chorus and gospel flavoring. In his liner notes, Dan Morgenstern depicts this music perfectly as "the basic spirit of jazz," and for the times that rings true. It's one of many consistently crafted works Mance would make over the years that mixed jazz and blues 50/50. Recommended. Michael G. Nastos

Junior Mance (piano)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Mickey Roker (drums)

1. Down The Line
2. Creole Love Call
3. Rainy Mornin' Blues
4. Yancey Special
5. Gravy Waltz
6. Cracklin'
7. In The Evening
8. Blue Monk
9. The Jumpin' Blues

Recorded Feb 14, 1963 at Plaza Sound Studios, NYC

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rev. Gary Davis - The Complete Early Recordings

One can't possibly own too much of the Reverend Gary Davis's music from any era, but he made so few recordings in the 1930s that the material is represented on several overlapping CDs. The Yazoo collection of his sides cut for the American Record Company is good as far as it goes -- which is a long way -- giving as complete a picture as one will ever find of Davis's output during that decade, with good sound and a superb set of sleeve notes on his life and work. It is not, unfortunately, as full an account of Davis's pre-'50s career as other discs that are available (especially from Document Records), and purchasers should be aware of one thing that they can be sure of concerning Davis -- they will want more of his music. ~ Bruce Eder

Reverend Gary Davis was one of the greatest guitar players of the 20th century, regardless of genre. His range of styles and repertoire encompassed the spectrum of black music from the early part of the century. His faultless and complex picking techniques gave his 'holy blues' an inimitable richness, complemented by his impassioned religious singing.

1. I Belong to the Band-Hallelujah!
2. Great Change In Me
3. Angel's Message To Me
4. I Saw The Light
5. Lord, Stand By Me
6. I Am The Light
7. O Lord, Search My Heart
8. Have More Faith in Jesus
9. You Got To Go Down
10. I Am The True Vine
11. Twelve Gates To The City
12. You Can Go Home
13. I'm Throwin' Up My Hands (Ain't Gonna Work Here No More)
14. Cross And Evil Woman Blues
15. I Cannot Bear My Burden By Myself
16. Meet Me At The Station

ali akbar khan -- ragas of india

been deep undercover for a while, but i haven't forgotten you cats. here is something to try and make up for the lapse.
all due respect to ravi and others, and granted the sarod is its own instrument, but ali akbar khan is the man. i can't imagine anyone around here won't like this stuff. he is accompanied by a tabla player named mahapurush misra who is no slouch.
come to find out as i read the liner notes that ragas are categorized by the time of day they are supposed to be played. i like that. i put a hint in the track name about this and i will mention it below. of course it all sounded good this afternoon as i ripped it. as i searched for a picture to use i just now found out that he passed away last month (4/14/22-6/18/09). foolishly, though he lived in my neck of the woods i never saw the man play. this is from a three album set put out by the classics record library/book of the month club in 1971.
hope you'se like it.

raga chandranandan 8pm-3am
raga goojjari todi morning
raga aheer bhairow predawn to sunrise
raga marwa: alap 40 minute raga part one
raga marwa: gat 40 minute raga part 2 a late evening and nighttime
raga bhairavi bhatiyar with ragmala between sunrise and noon

BN LP 5010 | Max Roach/James Moody/Art Blakey - New Sounds

Max Roach/James Moody/Art Blakey - New Sounds

This 10" is the first of a mini series inside the 5000 series, called "New Sounds" or "New Faces/New Sounds" - it's a bit of a mix using sessions recorded by Vogue in both Lausanne and Paris, with a US session. You can create a few themes from the 3 sessions; drummers Roach, Blakey and Terry or the popular Moody.
There was a CD reissue that used a variation for the cover, but did not include all the tracks - so now is your chance to hear the complete BN 5010.

Prince Albert (Parts 1 & 2)
The Thin Man
Just Moody
Bop Alley
For full listings, check out the excellent Jazz Discography

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sonny Red - Out Of The Blue

I was a bit surprised to see that I, apparently, hadn't posted this before. There's another of his in Ogg format from long ago, and a Savoy release with him and Art Pepper; they don't play together, but as is common with early Savoy LP releases they put a couple os sessions together. Three of Pepper - which can be found on the previously posted Discoveries and Complete Surfrider sets - and a nice Red session with Kelly again as well as Pepper Adams, Elvin Jones and such. The Savoy might be due for reposting, because the links are long dead.

Sonny Red always seems to excite more interest around here than his playing seems to merit. There was a post recently that featured him - live as I remember - and he was singularly uninspired, at least to my ears. This is one of his worthwhile sessions, by anybody's reckoning.

" Sonny Red, a fine altoist inspired by Charlie Parker and Jackie McLean, never really made it in jazz, and some of his recordings are rather uninspired. However, that does not hold true for his Blue Note album, which has been reissued on this 1996 CD along with five previously unissued selections. Red, who is joined by pianist Wynton Kelly, either Sam Jones or Paul Chambers on bass, and either Roy Brooks or Jimmy Cobb on drums, never sounded better on records. He performs mostly little-known standards (along with six of his originals) and displays a fair amount of originality and a great deal of potential that was never really fulfilled. Recommended." ~ Scott Yanow

Sonny Red (alto sax)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Sam Jones (bass)
Roy Brooks (drums)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)

1. Bluesville
2. Stay As Sweet As You Are
3. I've Been In Love Before
4. Nadia
5. Blues In The Pocket
6. Alone Too Long
7. Lope
8. Stairway To The Stars
9. Crystal
10. Lost April
11. You're Sensational
12. Blues For Kokee
13. You're Driving Me Crazy

Cab Calloway - Cab Calloway And Company

A better than usual Calloway presentation and the sound is excellent. The treat here is the "rare' Blanche Calloway items; although they can be found on the Chrono dedicated to her (just one and deleted long since). There is also a likewise Billy Banks floating around out there somewhere. The recent e-bay offer of all 960 Chronos was snapped up for a mere $6,600 - excluding the $900 shipping fee. I have a Masters of Jazz Cab Calloway (volume 2, 1930-1931) sitting here just waiting for a guest reviewer: any takers?

This is a very appealing double album from French RCA's Jazz Tribune series. The first 22 of the 34 selections (including four rare alternate takes) feature the Cab Calloway Orchestra of 1933-34, a vastly underrated early swing band which, in addition to its colorful leader/singer, features good soloists in trumpeter Lammar Wright, clarinetist Eddie Barefield and tenor-saxophonist Walter "Foots" Thomas. Highlights include "Harlem Hospitality," "The Lady with the Fan," "Harlem Camp Meeting," "Kickin' the Gong Around," "Margie" and two remakes of "Minnie the Moocher." In addition this two-fer (which has all of Calloway's recordings for Victor) contains four long-forgotten items from 1949 including a hilarious version of "I Beeped When I Shoulda Bopped" (in which Calloway satirizes not only bebop but his own style), six numbers from his older sister Blanche Calloway in 1931 (highlighted by "I Need Lovin'") and two obscure items from singer Billy Banks in 1932. This album, (which contains over 100 minutes of high-quality and entertaining music) is well worth searching for. ~ Scott Yanow

Cab Calloway (vocals)
Mary Lou Williams (piano)
Doc Cheatham (trumpet)
Jonah Jones (trumpet)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Blanche Calloway (vocals)
Tyree Glenn (trombone)
Milt Hinton (bass)
Cozy Cole (drums)

Duke Ellington - The Treasury Shows: Volume 3

This is from one year ago today - there were a number of nice piano posts on that day; you could look it up. I believe that we have gone to volume 5 with this series, which means I still have volume 6 to present. The series runs to 13, so if anyone wants to jump in - or review volume 6 - just holler.

The Ellington band in it's great '40s configuration. Especially nice, because Ellington did not make V-Discs for Army distribution because of his disapproval of the treatment of Black soldiers.

The third two-CD set of Duke Ellington Treasury Shows, which aired beginning in the closing months of World War II, features two complete consecutive weekly programs, including heavily scripted announcements by Bill Abernathy and the likewise, now somewhat amusing, bond pitches by Ellington himself (the politically correct of today will be shocked to hear him refer to the Japanese military forces as "Nips"). Each of the two discs is rounded out with air checks from late 1945 that originated from the Club Zanzibar in New York City. Like earlier releases in the series, the sound is very good, and one gets to hear Ellington tinkering with his band, auditioning new material and rearranging established compositions. There are several relatively rare performances played on just a relative handful of occasions other than these broadcasts. The lively swinger "Clementine," written by Billy Strayhorn, deserved a longer life span; it has snappy solos by alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges and some potent playing by trumpeters Ray Nance and Rex Stewart. The brisk "Blue Cellophane" make major demands of trombonist Lawrence Brown, while a lush arrangement of the standard "Yesterdays" features a vibrato-filled, almost operatic, vocal by Kay Davis. With literally hundreds of Duke Ellington CDs to choose from on the market at any one time, it is difficult for most collectors to afford, let alone find them all. But any serious fan of his work will find this historic set to be an essential addition to his or her collection. ~ Ken Dryden

The 1945 radio transcriptions on The Treasury Shows give us a glimpse at the music Ellington was playing and promoting that year. For commercial considerations were indeed important, which accounts for four vocalists being featured at a time when vocalists were eclipsing big bands as star attractions. So there are tunes here Duke had written with the hope of pop success like “Kissing Bug”, “Everything But You” and a song, sung here by Al Hibbler, that deserves to be rescued from oblivion by one of today’s classic pop singers, “Every Hour on the Hour”. These broadcasts also offer a chance to hear pieces that did not remain in the band’s active book, including “Mood to Be Wooed” (a creamy Johnny Hodges alto sax feature), “Way Low”, “Old King Dooji” and “Emancipation Celebration”. And don’t miss the Duke’s etymology of the word ‘hip’, as recounted in introducing “Unbooted Character”.

Duke Ellington (piano)
Billy Strayhorn (piano)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Rex Stewart (trumpet)
Harry Carney (clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone sax)
Lawrence Brown (trombone)
Kay Davis, Al Hibbler (vocals)
Cat Anderson (trumpet)
Ray Nance (trumpet, violin)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Al Sears (tenor sax)
Rex Stewart (trumpet), Lawrence Brown (trombone)
Joya Sherrill (vocals)
Sonny Greer (drums)

CD 1
1. Take The A Train
2. Blutopia
3. Bond Promo
4. Clementine
5. My Heart Sings
6. Sentimental Journey
7. I Got It Bad
8. Three Cent Stomp
9. Black And Tan Fantasy
10. Blue Skies
11. Broadcast Return
12. Passion Flower
13. Air Conditioned Jungle
14. Frantic Fantasy
15. I'm Beginning To See The Light
16. Main Stem
17. Everything But You
18. Carnegie Blues
19. Jump For Joy
20. Jumpin' Punkins
21. A Door Will Open
22. West Indian Dance
23. I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues
24. Jack The Bear

CD 2
1. Take The A Train
2. Carnegie Blues
3. Riff Staccato
4. Bond Promo
5. All At Once
6. Yesterdays
7. I Miss Your Kiss
8. Accentuate The Positive
9. Bond Promo
10. Blue Cellophane
11. Take The A Train
12. Take The A Train
13. Prelude To A Kiss
14. Caravan
15. Sophisticated Lady
16. I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues
17. I'm Begiining To See The Light
18. In A Mellotone
19. Harlem Air Shaft
20. I Don't Mind
21. Bond Promo
22. The Jeep Is Jumpin'
23. Take The A Train
24. Just A-Sitting And A-Rockin'
25. Clementine
26. The Wonder Of You
27. I'll Buy That Dream
28. ComeTo Baby, Do!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

A look at Rufus Harley is going to be as close as we get to a Fourth of July post here. In part because we don't care to engage in any discourse that will lend itself to the many and diverse discussions of politics and policies, which are necessarily differing and passion provoking. Instead we will celebrate a figure who can symbolize the many and diverse threads that comprise America's people and culture. While we may or may not love and support the government, we can still love and support the maddening and gratifying people that we share an identity with.

Now, Rufus Harley is too often held up as an oddity and the target of hip/ironic smirks and knowingness, but the man was a sincere and talented cat who studied with the same teacher that Coltrane did. It was hearing the pipers at the funeral of John Kennedy that led him to his main instrument: something in the sound moved him deeply, as it has many before and since. The bagpipes are a visceral instrument in more ways than one. So it was not merely as a gimmick that he made them his life study, although I'm sure the gimmick aspect may have helped in some cases. But ask Joel Dorn about Rufus; ask him if this was a novelty act fit only to appear on the Ed Sullivan show betweeen the spinning places and puppet mice from Italy. A link to a video of Dorn discussing Harley is in comments - and Dorn is not smirking one little bit. He speaks of his debt to Harley, and is a mensch for doing so.

Harley was known to give out little Liberty Bells and small Statue of Liberty figurines at his shows; and he wasn't a wealthy man who could disregard their cost - he was a sincere and giving person. And the notes, personnel and producers of this, as Nastos calls it, " cheaply constructed CD", did this as a labor of love and respect. They didn't put their money into it anticipating Platinum sales figures. If anything, they saw him as a legitimate and valid exemplar of Scots-American culture. As do I.

So, smirk if that's all you have in you; you won't be the first. But step back for a moment and look at a Black man in a kilt, playing - on the bagpipes - 'A Love Supreme' alongside 'Scotland The Brave' , and you'll see why America still has it in her to be a land for all peoples. Still has it in her to be America The Brave.

Rufus Harley - Brotherly Love

The bagpipes can be a unwieldly instrument, whether playing it or listening, so you have to give Harley some credit for giving it a go. He's unique in that he chooses to tackle not only modern jazz, but blues, children's themes, religious motifs and Scottish melodies. He's backed by a New Mexico based trio of guitarist Tony Cesarano, bassist Justin Bransford and drummer Peter Amahl. A larger issue here is the tuning, or lack thereof, between the various instruments, and it starts with Harley. For the pleasant opening cut "Scotland The Brave," a tick tock ballad, and an unidentified blues, Harley quoting "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," the combo clicks. Cesarano's guitar meshes nicely, swinging with fervor and dipping into some blue chords. "Stormy Weather" is in rough waters, the musicians seem to be in different rooms, the bagpipes disconnected with a tonal center. They attempt an urgent version of "A Love Supreme" that also falls disjointedly short, while "Jesus Loves Me" is a mid-tempo samba best re-arranged. Harley is at his most tuneful on curved soprano saxophone for the standard "Melancholy Baby" and the title track. The former has the trio right on key, guitar jumping into some fleet lines on his solo and Harley dipping a bit into the upper register, fluttering a bit, but never out. "Brotherly Love" is a nice ballad, Harley reverent in his resolve to create patterns of beauty. This is a cheaply constructed CD, with photocopied black and white art work and booklet. Production values are good, but the half the song titles are mis-identified or mixed up. This greatly detracts from its overall quality. Hopefully Harley will do a follow-up, with a skilled producer who can cut, paste and guide him to a more polished product. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Rufus Harley (bagpipes)
Tony Cesarano (guitar)
Justin Bransford (bass)
Peter Amahl (drums)

1. Brotherly Love
2. Auld Lang Syne
3. Scotland The Brave
4. Jesus Loves Me
5. Melancholy Baby
6. Stormy Weather
7. A Love Supreme

Track Of The Day

Dizzy Gillespie - Copenhagen Concert (1959)

This SteepleChase CD for the first time releases music from a Sept. 17, 1959 Copenhagen concert featuring trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and his Quintet of the period (which includes altoist Leo Wright, pianist Junior Mance, bassist Art Davis and drummer Teddy Stewart). Wright (who doubled on flute) was a perfectly suitable musical partner for Gillespie (staying with the group until 1962) and was always able to take assertive solos without trying to stealing the spotlight from the trumpeter. Diz is in good spirits throughout these two sets, singing a good-humored "Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo-Bee" and scatting furiously on "Lady Be Good." His trumpet chops are in excellent form and his solos are as complex as ever. Highlights include "My Man," "Wheatleigh Hall," "Night in Tunisia" and "Woody'n You." - Scott Yanow

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet, vocals)
Leo Wright (alto sax)
Junior Mance (piano)
Art Davis (bass)
Teddy Stewart (drums)
  1. I Found a Million Dollar Baby
  2. My Man
  3. Oh! Lady Be Good
  4. They Can't Take That Away from Me
  5. Wheatleigh Hall
  6. A Short One
  7. Introduction
  8. A Night in Tunisia
  9. Lorraine
  10. Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo-Bee
  11. There Is No Greater Love
  12. Woody'n You
Recorded September 17, 1959

Martial Solal - At Newport '63

George Wein invited Solal to lead off the festival and the American debut was a massive success. 'Suite Pour Une Frise' is a masterly piece, very different in temper to the standards which ('Nuages' and 'Boplicity' excepted) make up the rest of the set. Solal and Motian would be reunited some years later but here the drummer is in exceptional form, driving the line with great energy and constantly responsive to Solal's sudden changes in direction. The reissue has four previously unreleased cuts from elsewhere, including three takes of 'I Got Rhythm'. These don't appear on the Cloud Nine issue. ~ Penguin Guide

French jazz pianist Martial Solal's American recording debut took place at the 1963 Newport Jazz Festival, with his set recorded and initially released by RCA Victor, though it was deemed too short for release, so a few numbers recorded during his afternoon rehearsal were added to lengthen the album, with applause duplicated from other numbers. Joined by Bill Evans' former rhythm section, bassist Teddy Kotick and drummer Paul Motian (who also made up his trio during an extended gig at New York City's Hickory House prior to Newport), Solal blends Art Tatum-like runs with an inherent lyrical side in a decidedly advanced bop setting. In addition to his enjoyable arrangements of standards and timeless jazz compositions, his extended work "Suite Pour Une Frise" also merits praise. In spite of a CD reissue by Cloud 9 in 2004, this is still a rather difficult release to acquire. ~ Ken Dryden

Martial Solal (piano)
Teddy Kotick (bass)
Paul Motian (drums)

1. Poinciana (The Song Of The Tree) (take 2)
2. Clouds [Nuages]
3. Suite Pour Une Frise
4. Stella by Starlight
5. What Is Thing Called Love
6. 'Round Midnight (take 1)
7. Boplicity
8. All God's Chillun Got Rhythm (take 3)
9. Fine aAnd Dandy (take 4)
10. I Got Rhythm (take 1)
11. I Got Rhythm (take 2)
12. I Got Rhythm (take 3)


First posted a year ago today.

Here we have the most recent Chronological release - and the very first Chronological release. Nice bookends, no?

Ella Fitzgerald - 1935-1937 (Chronological 500)

The first of six Ella Fitzgerald CDs in the European label Classics "complete" series has her earliest 25 recordings with two numbers ("My Melancholy Baby" and "All My Life") from a session with Teddy Wilson, three songs (including "Goodnight My Love") cut with Benny Goodman's big band, four tunes from her initial session as a leader and the remainder with Chick Webb's Orchestra which mainly acted as a backup band for the young singer. Even at the age of 17, Ella Fitzgerald had a beautiful voice and a strong sense of swing (although she would not seriously scat for another decade). "I'll Chase the Blues Away," "When I Get Low I Get High," "Sing Me a Swing Song" and "You'll Have to Swing It" are among the highpoints of this fine set. ~ Scott Yanow

Ella Fitzgerald (vocals)
Chick Webb (drums)
Benny Goodman (clarinet)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Mario Bauza (Trumpet)
Jess Stacy (piano)
Zeke Zarchy (trumpet)
Ziggy Elman (trumpet)
Louis Jordan (alto sax, vocal)
John Kirby (bass)
Gene Krupa (drums)

Ella Fitzgerald - 1954-1955 (Chronological 1457)

The 15th installment in the complete studio recordings of Ella Fitzgerald as reissued in the Classics Chronological Series contains 22 titles cut between March 30, 1954, and August 5, 1955, marking the tail end of her contractual obligations as a Decca recording artist. Ella's involvement with Decca extended a full 20 years back to her initial recording session with the Chick Webb Orchestra in June 1935; by January of 1956 she would be working with Norman Granz (who had already been recording her in live performance with his Jazz at the Philharmonic package), inaugurating one of the great longstanding singer/producer collaborations in the entire history of recorded jazz. Drawing upon material originally made available on the LPs Sweet and Hot, Songs in a Mellow Mood, The First Lady of Song, Lullabies of Birdland and Songs from "Pete Kelly's Blues" (a motion picture in which Ella appeared cast as a jazz singer), this patchwork compilation opens with three songs that close out one of the delightful sessions that she shared with pianist Ellis Larkins during the spring of 1954. The next two titles come from a date that was typical of Decca's approach to artists and repertoire, for here Ella and a sextet including tenor saxophonist Sam Taylor, pianist Hank Jones, and organist Bill Doggett were pitted against a standard issue '50s pop vocal choir. Other ensembles heard on this disc were conducted or supervised by Benny Carter, Sy Oliver, André Previn, Dick Hyman, and Toots Camarata. Altogether, it's a fine portrait of Ella Fitzgerald in one of her primes, and an effective appetizer for the next chapter in her musical biography. ~ arwulf arwulf

Ella Fitzgerald (vocals)
Benny Carter (director)
Andre Previn (director)
Sy Oliver (director)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Barry Galbraith (guitar)

Erroll Garner - Solitaire

On March 14, 1955, Erroll Garner sat down at the piano and played one interesting solo after another, resulting in two albums of music. Seven pieces (all but "That Old Feeling" are taken as ballads) were originally released as Solitaire; this CD reissue adds four additional selections that are taken at faster paces. Although not essential, this rhapsodic and occasionally wandering -- but always intriguing -- set should greatly interest fans. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Recorded in New York on March 14, 1955.
Tracks 1-7 originally released on "Solitaire" - Mercury MG 20063
Tracks 8-11 originally released on "Erroll!" - EmArcy MG 36069
Original recording produced by Bob Shad.

1. I'll Never Smile Again
2. Then You've Never Been Blue
3. It's the Talk of the Town
4. Solitaire
5. A Cottage For Sale
6. That Old Feeling
7. Over the Rainbow
8. Yesterdays
9. Who?
10. When a Gypsy Makes His Violin Cry
11. Salud Segovia

Larry Coryell - 1993 Fallen Angel

On Fallen Angel, Larry Coryell teams up with arranger Don Sebesky to produce a wide-ranging album full of sampled sounds and programmed tracks in an attempt to mix the old CTI sound of the '70s with the production techniques and rhythms of the '90s. "Inner City Blues" kicks things off with great promise, as Coryell jams over a pre-programmed rhythm track with background vocalists. On "(Angel on Sunset) Bumpin' on Sunset," he improvises along with a sampled Wes Montgomery, then turns Erroll Garner's classic "Misty" into a mid-tempo reggae jaunt through which he and pianist Mulgrew Miller travel lightly. The CTI connection is brought to the forefront with a remake of Deodato's "2001" hit called "Thus Spoke Z," on which the famous theme is implied but never stated. Other highlights include a funky, angular tribute called "Monk's Corner," Sebesky's attractive "I Remember Bill" and the solo "Westerly Wind." There are also two pleasant smooth jazz vocal pieces at the front of the album, the beautiful ballad, "Fallen," a duet between vocalists Klyde Jones and Jeanie Bryson, and the funky made-for-radio "Never Never," featuring saxophonist Richard Elliot and a vocal from Ms. Jones.
Fallen Angel was obviously an attempt to find Larry Coryell a place on the smooth jazz playlist, a task it didn't really accomplish. While it is not likely to appease those who bemoan the guitarist's failure to live up to his initial promise, it can be enjoyed if taken on its own terms.
Jim Newsom, All Music Guide

01 Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) 3:31 - James Nyx, Marvin Gaye
02 Fallen 3:45 - Lauren Wood
03 Never Never 3:34 - Don Sebesky, Klyde Jones
04 (Angel on Sunset) Bumpin' on Sunset 5:40 - Don Sebesky, Wes Montgomery
05 Stardust :55 - Hoagy Carmichael, Mitchell Parish
06 Misty 4:32 - Erroll Garner
07 I Remember Bill 3:07 - Don Sebesky
08 Pieta 5:53 - Rachmaninoff
09 Thus Spoke Z 4:49 - Richard Strauss
10 Stella by Starlight 4:31 - Ned Washington, Victor Young
11 Monk's Corner 6:26 - Don Sebesky, Larry Coryell
12 Westerly Wind 2:04 - Larry Coryell
13 The Moors 2:53 - Larry Coryell

Larry Coryell Guitar (Acoustic, Electric)
Mulgrew Miller Piano
Ted Rosenthal Piano
Don Sebesky Synthesizer
Jamie Lawrence Synthesizer
Ovation Adamas Guitar (Acoustic)
Richard Elliot Sax (Tenor)
Chris Hunter Sax (Alto)
Jeanie Bryson Vocals
Klyde Jones Vocals

Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studios, Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey on 1993

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ike Quebec - It Might As Well Be Spring

A generation older than the tenor saxophone young Turks who helped define Blue Note during its 1955-65 heyday, Ike Quebec's style was fully formed a decade before the innovations of Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson—and his legacy has been consistently overshadowed as a result. But while Quebec may not have been storming any barricades, his sumptuous, blues-drenched, swing-to-bop playing sounds as heartachingly beautiful today as it must have done all those years ago.

Born in 1918 and a dancer before he became a musician, Quebec came up through big bands like Cab Calloway's and countless off-radar neighbourhood bar jazz 'n' jump outfits. During his first spell with Blue Note in the mid-1940s, Quebec was the label's biggest jukebox star. He revisited the genre with relish, backed by organs and guitars, following his return to Blue Note in 1959.

Until his death in 1963, Quebec's style remained firmly in mid-40s swing-to-bop mode, with hefty admixtures of blues and R&B. It's probably no coincidence that two of the most enduring artists he introduced to Blue Note, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon and baritone saxophonist Leo Parker, were his near-contemporaries and stylistic fellow travellers. Gordon may have been a shade less blues and R&B-explicit, but Parker more than redressed the balance.

Quebec played everything like it was the blues, even the most Caucasian of ballads, like Rodgers & Hammerstein's slow-strolling title track on It Might As Well Be Spring. His tone crosses sandpaper with velvet, his lines are vocalised and plain speaking, and his sophisticated command of the changes is tempered by smears, bent notes, honks and squeals. "Lover Man" and "Willow Weep For Me" inhabit the same gorgeous territory.

"Ol' Man River," by contrast, can rarely have been performed with such furiously paced, rococo extravagance. It may have been a neo-spiritual once, but, like Quebec's own uptempo bop-blues "A Light Reprieve," it's red-eye jukebox jive here.

Recorded in December 1961, two weeks after Quebec's first 12" album, Heavy Soul was made with the same superb lineup, and only thirteen months before his death, It Might As Well Be Spring ... still rocks. ~ Chris May

Working with the same quartet that cut Heavy Soul -- organist Freddie Roach, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Al Harewood -- Ike Quebec recorded another winning hard bop album with It Might As Well Be Spring. In many ways, the record is a companion piece to Heavy Soul. Since the two albums were recorded so close together, it's not surprising that there a number of stylistic similarities, but there are subtle differences to savor. The main distinction between the two dates is that It Might As Well Be Spring is a relaxed, romantic date comprised of standards. It provides Quebec with ample opportunity to showcase his rich, lyrical ballad style, and he shines throughout the album. Similarly, Roach has a tasteful, understated technique, whether he's soloing or providing support for Quebec. The pair have a terrific, sympathetic interplay that makes It Might As Well Be Spring a joyous listen. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Ike Quebec (tenor sax)
Freddie Roach (organ)
Milt Hinton (upright bass)
Al Harewood (drums)

1. It Might As Well Be Spring
2. A Light Reprieve
3. Easy-Don't Hurt
4. Lover Man
5. Ol' Man River
6. Willow Weep For Me

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: December 9, 1961

Eric Dolphy - Far Cry (20bit K2)

In the early sixties, Eric Dolphy was one of the young rebels responsible for moving jazz forward in giant strides, advancements that led some to call his music "anti-jazz". Although not quite as deliberately bizarre as Out to Lunch, Far Cry is still exactly that: a far cry from what virtually everyone considered jazz to be. On this session Dolphy is joined by two like-minded weirdos in Little and Byard, as well as an able rhythm section in Carter and Haynes (who benefit the most from the 20-bit remastering). Everything that we've come to love about Dolphy is on display here, from the unorthodox instruments to the stuttering, belligerent solos that seem to go from New York to LA by way of Saturn. Although the first two tracks bear titles that pay tribute to Charlie Parker, Dolphy mainly keeps his Bird influences in his back pocket, instead exploring daring intervallic leaps and abstract phrasing (there's even an unaccompanied saxophone solo, something no one since Coleman Hawkins had really successfully explored). Like Dolphy, Little was another prodigy who died early in his career; his smoothly wandering lines provide a sharp contrast to Dolphy's prickly approach. Byard, of course, has an affection for all styles of piano playing and often welds them into the same passage, a technique he would really perfect in the company of Roland Kirk. At the time, this was forward thinking music that even today has a whiff of the avant-garde. However, some may prefer Dolphy's earlier work as a sideman; in more straightforward sessions like Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth or Chico Hamilton's Gongs East, Dolphy makes more of an impact, simply because his contributions are so startling compared to the other players. Far Cry, a bold attempt to challenge the status quo, shows how others had begun to catch up to the new thing. David Rickert

Eric Dolphy (alto sax, bass clarinet, flute)
Booker Little (trumpet)
Jaki Byard (piano)
Ron Carter (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)

1. Mrs. Parker Of K.C. (Bird's Mother)
2. Ode To Charlie Parker
3. Far Cry
4. Miss Ann
5. Left Alone
6. Tenderly
7. It's Magic
8. Serene

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ; December 21, 1960

Phil Woods - The Young Bloods

Phil Woods - The Young Bloods

There are those who claim that Phil Woods married Charlie Parker's widow so he could get Bird's horn. I find that to be an ignoble sentiment, but there's a song here dedicated to Chan from less than a year after Bird died. He was mackin' it early, no doubt.

" For this early hard bop date, altoist Phil Woods and trumpeter Donald Byrd were co-leaders. In fact, the music had at one point earlier on been released with Byrd getting first billing. Since the spirited altoist contributed four of the six tunes (including "House of Chan" and "In Walked George") and consistently takes solo honors, it is only right that the date has finally been reissued on CD under Woods' name. With pianist Al Haig (who did not record that extensively during this period), bassist Teddy Kotick and drummer Charlie Persip offering stimulating accompaniment, this is an easily recommended release (despite its brief LP length) for straight-ahead jazz collectors."

Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Phil Woods (alto sax)
Al Haig (piano)
Teddy Kotick (bass)
Charlie Persip (drums)

1. Dewey Square
2. Dupeltook
3. Once More
4. House of Chan
5. In Walked George
6. Lover Man

Recorded in Hackensack, NJ on November 2, 1956

From July 2nd

These are posts that were upped here one and two years ago. Also from the July 2nd past are Goykovich, Turrentine, Le Sony'r Ra, Vitous....

Gerry Mulligan - Jeru

While Gerry Mulligan was famous in the 1950s for leading pianoless quartets, he never had anything against pianists; in fact he often played piano himself. This 1962 quintet session finds Jeru utilizing the strong talents of pianist Tommy Flanagan along with bassist Ben Tucker, drummer Dave Bailey, and the congas of Alec Dorsey to play seven songs (all but "Get Out of Town" are somewhat obscure). Mulligan is in fine form and, even if the music on this LP is not all that essential, it is quite enjoyable. ~ Scott Yanow

This 1962 session finds Gerry Mulligan in a rather rare recording situation -- for the times. His piano-less quartets were remarkable and groundbreaking in the 1950s. On this date, Mulligan is accompanied by legendary pianist Tommy Flanagan, drummer Dave Bailey, bassist Ben Tucker, and conquero Alec Dorsey. He takes the band through seven tunes, only one of which, "Blue Boy," is his own. The music here is relaxed, warm, up and straight-ahead. Dorsey's conga is far from a distraction, and is tastefully woven into the fabric of the quintet. Many of the tunes here, such as Billy Taylor's "Capricious" that opens the set, are uncommon in the Mulligan repertoire, though the read of Cole Porter's "Get Out of Town," would be a near constant in his live sets for the rest of his life. Other notable tracks include the beautiful "Lonely Town" and the Alan Jay Lerner-Kurt Weill composition "Here I'll Stay," that features a fine solo by Flanagan. Jeru is certainly not one of Mulligan's classic recordings but it's a fine one, and this new remastered version by Legacy is a real improvement over the previous CD issue. ~ Thom "Yeah, with an H!" Jurek

Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Ben Tucker (bass)
Dave Bailey (drums)

1. Capricious
2. Here I'll Stay
3. Inside Impromptu
4. You've Come Home
5. Get Out Of Town
6. Blue Boy
7. Lonely Town

Recorded June 30, 1962, Nola Penthouse Studio, NY

Björk - Gling-Gló

Björk's elastic, somersaulting voice is right at home delivering these traditional Icelandic and jazz tunes. Happy songs performed by Björk with the Icelandic jazz group Gudmundar Ingólfssonar Trio really showcase her voice and reveal how her unique singing style shares some common ground with scatting. The trio consists of pianist Gudmundar Ingólfsson (who, contrary to popular rumor, is not Björk's father), Gudmundur Steingrímsson on drums, and Thórdur Högnason on bass. Björk performed with this trio a few times before they recorded Gling-Gló, and everyone must've had a good time, because the album captures the group moving through a mixture of jazz numbers and Icelandic songs with a free and easy feel. When Gling-Gló was first released in 1990 on the Smekkleysa (Bad Taste) label, it went platinum, becoming the label's best seller. The first 14 songs are from this original issue, while the last two tracks (and the only songs sung in English -- "Ruby Baby" and "I Can't Help Loving That Man") are drawn from a rehearsal recording made a year prior to the album. ~ Joslyn Layne

Recorded in 1990, while Bjork Gudmundsdottir was still a member of the Icelandic alt-rock band the Sugarcubes, Gling-Gló provided the eccentric vocalist with one of her first moments in the solo spotlight. Solidly backed by Trio Gudmundar Ingolfssonar, Bjork settles into a spare, upbeat set of bop-influenced jazz tunes, allowing her exuberant, dynamic voice to carry each melody. While the buoyant title track could easily serve as the theme song for a sophisticated children's TV show, the following number, "Luktar-Gvendur," settles into a classic lightly swaying jazz groove. The majority of tracks are performed in Icelandic, with Bjork's delivery so charming that listeners will barely notice the language difference. However, those pining for songs in English will be pleased by the disc's final tracks--"Ruby Baby" and "I Can't Help Loving That Man"--two gently swinging takes on standards that directly point to elements of Bjork's later work, most notably her gorgeous reading of "Like Someone in Love" on Debut and her brassy take on "It's Oh So Quiet" off of Post.

Björk (vocal, munnharpe)
Gudmundar Ingólfsson (piano, tambourine)
Thórdur Högnason (bass)
Gudmundur Steingrimsson (drums)

1. Gling Gló
2. Luktar-Gvendur
3. Kata Rokkar
4. Pabbi Minn
5. Brestir Og Brak
6. Astartofrar
7. Bella Simamaer
8. Litli Tonlistarmadurinn
9. Thad Sest Ekki Saetari Mey
10. Bilavisur
11. Tondeleyo
12. Eg Veit Ei Hvad Skal Segja
13. I Dansi Med Per
14. Bornin Vid Tjornina
15. Ruby Baby
16. I Can't Help Loving That Man

Oscar Peterson - 1970 Tristeza on Piano

One Canadian in the menu.

Are these two critics reviewing the same record?. Yes, obviously: There are 8 songs in the record and each one prefers 4 (but only one coincidence). So, with both reviews you have nearly the complete album.

Oscar Peterson's relationship with producer Hans Georg Bruner-Schwer was a fruitful endeavor, producing many exciting albums during the 1960s and early '70s. Throughout the session, Peterson alternates between jaw-dropping virtuosity and lyrical performances. With bassist Sam Jones and drummer Bobby Durham (oddly listed as Bob Durham), the pianist opens with a thunderous take of "Tristeza," following it with his delicate bossa nova "Nightingale." He romps through a brisk setting of "You Stepped Out of a Dream" (which features Jones' adept bass), though the most surprising track may be the lengthy workout of "Down Here on the Ground," the title song from the film Cool Hand Luke.
Ken Dryden, All Music Guide

At the beginning of this set Oscar Peterson so overwhelms the normally gentle "Tristeza" that it almost becomes a parody. Fortunately the remainder of the bossa nova-flavored CD reissue is more tasteful and, even if Peterson is overly hyper in spots, he is able to bring out the beauty of such songs as George Gershwin's "Porgy," Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Triste" and "Watch What Happens" in addition to stomping through the straightahead "You Stepped out of a Dream."
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

01 Tristeza (Lobo, Niltinho) 3:13
02 Nightingale (Peterson) 6:42
03 Porgy (Gershwin) 6:12
04 Triste (Jobim) 5:21
05 You Stepped Out of a Dream (Brown, Kahn) 3:31
06 Watch What Happens (Garcia, Legrand) 6:10
07 Down Here on the Ground (Garnett, Schiffrin) 8:46
08 Fly Me to the Moon (Bart, Howard, Cypres) 4:38

Oscar Peterson Piano
Sam Jones Bass
Bobby Durham Drums

Recorded at A + R Studio, New York on 1970

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jazz Loft Sessions

Hopefully this sampling of the fertile '70's New York loft jazz scene is just a teaser for a much needed boxed anthology. Snatching various performances from the highly influential, yet shamefully scarce five-part series, Wildflower Sessions (distributed by disco dynamo Casablanca), this magnificent retrospective gives full testimony that there was indeed a creative wellspring of jazz music that countered the post-Mr. Magic slush that typified the '70s.

Bridging the gap between the '60s high-voltage, New Thing and the '80s frenetic, Downtown Scene, the New York's loft jazz scene provided a bohemian boot-camp for young firespitters like David Murray, Julius Hemphill, Ken McIntyre, Hamiett Bluiett and Byard Lancaster as well as ad hoc laboratories for comparatively established artists like Randy Weston and Anthony Braxton. Recorded in Sam Rivers' makeshift soundlab, Studio Rivea, these sessions include Hamiett Blueitt's blustery, "Tranquil Beauty" and Byard Lancaster's enchanting reading of "Over The Rainbow." Guitarist Michael Jackson's "Clarity" with its brooding lines performed by Oliver Lake and Fred Hopkins, is this set's rare gem. Randy Weston's offers a delectable Monk-inspired, "Portrait of Frank Edward Weston" while Anthony Braxton transports the listeners to the outer edges of jazz spectrum with "73 degrees-S Kelvin."

There is a bold nakedness that separates these performances from conventional studio dates. Sometimes, the bareness reveals too much-David Murray's under-developed, "Shout Song" and Kalaparusha's ill-fated nod to funk on "Jays." But despite minor flaws, Jazz Loft Sessions is essential listening. ~ John Murph

Sam Rivers' New York City loft was the scene for a series of experimental jam sessions recorded over the space of seven evenings for this fascinating compilation. With a host of players taking part, including Hamiet Bluiett, Olu Dara, Byard Lancaster, Dave Burrell, Fred Hopkins, Randy Weston, Ken McIntyre and Anthony Braxton, to name only a few, these improvisations blend avant-garde with many different styles, some more successful than others at holding a listener's attention. Among the most successful tracks are "Tranquil Beauty," a curious blend of New Orleans jazz with free jazz, along with Weston's dramatic "Portrait of Frank Edward Weston." The one obvious disappointment is David Murray's "Shout Song" a squealing miniature that serves as proof why writer Stanley Crouch called himself a failed avant-garde jazz drummer. While not every track will appeal to everyone who purchases this CD, there is enough valuable music within it to make it a worthwhile investment. ~ Ken Dryden

Hamiet Bluiett (clarinet, baritone sax)
Anthony Braxton (clarinet, alto sax, contrabass sax)
David Murray (tenor sax)
Michael Gregory Jackson (guitar)
Oliver Lake (flute, soprano sax)
Randy Weston (piano)
Olu Dara (trumpet)
Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre (tenor sax)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Sunny Murray (drums)
Barry Altschul (drums)

1. Tranquil Beauty - Hamiet Bluiett
2. Jays - Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre
3. Over the Rainbow - Byard Lancaster
4. Black Robert - Dave Burrell
5. Clarity - Michael Gregory Jackson
6. Shout Song (For Cecil Taylor) - David Murray
7. Portrait of Frank Edward Weston - Randy Weston
8. Naomi - Ken McIntyre
9. Pensive - Julius Hemphill
10. 73°-S Kelvin - Anthony Braxton

Joe Albany - Now's The Time

More than a little influenced by the book I recently read by his daughter, I was unhesitating in picking this up when it offered itself. Discographically I don't exactly know what's going on; it is the same release as the one entitled Bird Lives, although this has an extra track (Vernon Duke's 'Autumn In New York'). The songs are all Parker tunes otherwise with the exception of a group jam and a Gershwin number. I also don't know much about this Interplay/Century label, but they've put out a few very interesting titles, including a couple by Horace Tapscott.

Joe Albany's next-to-last recording features the veteran bop pianist performing seven Charlie Parker compositions, his own "Charlie Parker Blues" and the standard "They Can't Take That Away From Me" in a superb trio that also includes bassist Art Davis and drummer Roy Haynes. This was the perfect setting for Albany and he comes up with fresh ideas on such familiar classics as "Yardbird Suite," "Little Suede Shoes" and "Confirmation." The CD is easily recommended to bop lovers. ~ Scott Yanow

Joe Albany (piano)
Art Davis (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)

1. Now's The Time
2. Yardbird Suite
3. Bluebird
4. Charlie Parker Blues
5. Autumn In New York
6. Little Suede Shoes
7. Billie's Bounce
8. Confirmation
9. Barbados
10. They Can't Take That Away From Me

RPM Sound Studio, New York: January 4, 1979