Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Art Farmer - Ambrosia

Later in his career Art Farmer was capable of getting pretty lush in his presentations, - although he was also capable of things like his great Central Avenue Reunion or On The Road - and sometimes even to the point of being soporific. Still, he is Art Farmer and that's as close as you can get to a guarantee of consistently excellent performance. This is sonically first class as well, being one of those Japanese Denon issues. His sidemen too, in addition to a Japanese string section, are as good as you could hope for.

To put it simply, I must have over 20 Art Farmer CDs, and I don't regret ever having bought a single one. Check this out; the price is right. And it's Art Farmer.

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Hank Jones (piano)
Eddie Gomez (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)

1. The Windmills Of Your Mind
2. Once Upon A Summertime
3. Watch What Happens
4. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?
5. You Must Believe In Spring
6. The Years Of My Youth
7. The Summer Knows
8. I Will Wait For You

Louie Bellson/Mills Blue Rhythm Band - Big Bands! [LP > FLAC]

The origins of the Blue Rhythm Band go back to the late twenties when it was led by drummer Willie Lynch. In 1930 Louis Armstrong used them for recording as the Coconut Grove Orchestra and that same year it was taken over by music publisher Irving Mills. Then in 1932 Baron Lee became the front man as the band was now known as the Mills Blue Rhythm Band. Lucky Millinder moved into Lee's spot in 1934, remaining until the band's demise in 1937. Among the band's formidable sidemen were Red Allen, Charlie Shavers, Harry Edison, J.C. Higginbotham, John Kirby, Tab Smith, Buster Bailey and Billy Kyle.

Ten years later Mills decided to revive the Blue Rhythm Band under the leadership of arranger Van Alexander, who had written charts for Chick Webb and was prominent in the Hollywood studios when these sessions were done. The featured soloists on the first session are Charlie Shavers and Lucky Thompson with Eddie Rosa handling the clarinet solos. Jimmy Rowles has a spot on Jam and that's a young Stan Getz doing the alto sax solo on Blues.

Charlie Shavers, Chuck Peterson, Frank Beach (trumpet)
Si Zentner, Sid Harris, Chuck Maxon, Juan Tizol (trombone)
Clint Neagley (alto sax) Eddie Rosa (alto sax, clarinet)
Lucky Thompson (tenor sax) Stan Getz (alto, tenor sax) Butch Stone (baritone sax)
Jimmy Rowles (piano) Tony Rizzi (guitar) Arnold Fishkin (bass) Don Lamond (drums)
Recorded May 20, 1947

1. Blue Rhythm Jam
2. Blue Rhythm Blues
3. Blue Rhythm Swing
4. Blue Rhythm Bebop

The second session features Willie Smith on alto sax, Herbie Haymer on tenor, Juan Tizol on valve trombone, Eddie Rosa again on clarinet, and Barney Kessel on guitar. The trumpet solos are split between Ray Linn and Jimmy Zito.

Ray Linn, Jimmy Zito (trumpet) Juan Tizol (valve trombone)
Willie Smith (alto sax) Eddie Rosa (alto sax, clarinet)
Herbie Haymer (tenor sax) Butch Stone (baritone sax)
Walter Welscher (piano) Charles Garble (vibes)
Barney Kessel (guitar) Arnold Fishkin (bass) Irv Cottler (drums)
Recorded November 15, 1947

5. Blue Rhythm Ramble
6. Blue Rhythm Bounce
7. Blue Rhythm Serenade
8. Blue Rhythm Chant

Side B of the LP is a showcase for a Louie Bellson band put together for a Mills Music date by Leonard Feather on the West Coast in 1964. Its purpose was to represent different bands from the Swing Era on four of the numbers while the fifth tune, "Tambori Suite", was in a more modern vein. Soloists on this session include Harry Edison and Freddie Hill on trumpet, Juan Tizol on valve trombone, Med Flory on alto sax, Buddy Collette on clarinet, Harold Land and Babe Russin on tenor sax, Gerald Wiggins on piano, and Herb Ellis on guitar.

John Audino, Freddie Hill, Jimmy Zito, Harry Edison (trumpet)
Nick Di Maio, Mike Bourne, Juan Tizol (trombone)
Med Flory (alto sax) Buddy Collette (alto sax, clarinet)
Harold Land, Babe Russin (tenor sax) Teddy Lee (baritone sax)
Gerald Wiggins (piano) Herb Ellis (guitar)
Morty Corb (bass) Louie Bellson (drums)
Recorded August 27, 1964

9. Tambori Suite
10. Blue Lou
11. Sweet Tooth
12. Moonlight Fiesta
13. Wrappin' It Up

I'm only halfway through this and I can still say this is one of the best jazz memoirs I've ever read. Dude went to Tilden, t'boot.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Barry Harris - Bull's Eye!

In the notes to the recent Sonny Stitt post: "When it came to pianists, the first words out of Sonny's mouth would invariably be, 'I like Barry Harris'."

In the liner notes that he wrote for Bull's Eye in 1968, Mark Gardner quotes pianist Walter Bishop as calling Barry Harris "one of the very last of the bebop purists that we have on the piano." Bishop knew what he was talking about; back in 1968, many acoustic pianists were choosing modal post-bop or avant-garde jazz over bop -- and some were taking up electric keyboards and starting to explore a fascinating new jazz-rock-funk amalgam that came to be called fusion. But Harris, who was 38 when he recorded Bull's Eye, was still a hardcore bebopper along the lines of Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. On this 1968 session, the Detroit native offers no acknowledgment of '60s trends in jazz piano -- he doesn't acknowledge McCoy Tyner's modal post-bop any more than he acknowledges Cecil Taylor's free jazz. And that's just as well, because Harris is great at what he does. Unlike Tyner, Taylor, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, or Andrew Hill, Harris was always a follower rather than a leader. But again, he's great at what he does, and on Bull's Eye, Harris excels whether he is embracing Monk's "Off Minor" or providing original tunes that range from the exhilarating title song to the Latin-tinged "Barengo." By 1968 standards, Bull's Eye is hardly groundbreaking; Harris' solos sound like they could have been recorded ten or 20 years earlier. But in terms of quality and skillful musicianship, he doesn't let his followers down. Nor do Harris' sidemen, who include trumpeter Kenny Dorham, saxman Charles McPherson (who is heard on tenor instead of his usual alto), baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Billy Higgins. Die-hard bop enthusiasts can't go wrong with Bull's Eye, which Fantasy reissued on CD in 2002 under its Original Jazz Classics (OJC) imprint. ~ Alex Henderson

Barry Harris (piano)
Charles McPherson (tenor sax)
Pepper Adams (baritone sax)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)

1. Bull's Eye
2. Clockwise
3. Off Monk
4. Barengo
5. Off Minor
6. Oh So Basal

Lee Morgan - Leeway (TOCJ)

One of the least known of Morgan albums even among his fans, this was a relatively late reissue. This is suprising given how good it is. Morgan sounds relaxed and soulful on four long tracks, ably supported by Jackie McLean, who contributes 'Midtown Blues'. There are also two Cal Massey numbers, further testimony to his once-high standing; of these, 'Nakatini Suite' at the end of the set is probably too rarified for this context and company, though the other, 'These Are Soulful Days', is inch-perfect and brings out the best in Morgan. ~ Penguin Guide

In the 1960's hard-bop sweepstakes, one of Freddie Hubbard's true rivals was Lee Morgan. The late Morgan was known for his brassy, searing style, but he could be tender and lyrical as well. Recorded in 1960 (significantly before Morgan's success with The Sidewinder), Lee-Way is in many ways one of the most quintessential hard bop discs ever recorded. The band is incredible, practically an edition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers: Blakey on drums, Bobby Timmons's earthy piano, Jackie McLean's acidic, fluid alto saxophone, and Miles Davis's bassist Paul Chambers. This is primo, driving hard bop, with slight overtones of the era's soul-jazz sound.

Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Jackie McClean (alto sax)
Bobby Timmons (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Art Blakey (drums)

1. These Are Soulful Days
2. The Lion And The Wolff
3. Midtown Blues
4. Nakatini Suite

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on April 28, 1960

DAVID ALLYN: In The Blue of Evening (LP-Rip/1966)

To my delight, my previous post of David Allyn's first album (DAVID ALLYN SINGS JEROME KERN) was greeted with enthusiasm and encouragement. I am pleased that the artistry of Allyn is appreciated and I would much enjoy the opportunity to lead a collaborative effort to bring the singer's work greater exposure.

Here is IN THE BLUE OF EVENING, another LP with arrangements by the great Johnny Mandel with orchestra featuring celebrated soloists such as Bud Shank, Frank Rosolino, Herb Ellis, Mel Lewis, Jimmy Rowles, Conte Candolli and other bright lights of the Hollywood studio scene during the late 50's and 60's. Scoredaddy

There is a body of male singers who have never received recognition commensurate with their talents. Among these under-valued artists are Ernie Andrews, Johnny Hartman, Arthur Prysock, and David Allyn. Of the seven LPs Allyn cut from 1946 to 1981, none of them have been re-released as a CD. This is a major indictment of those record company officials who make decisions on reissues. In the Blue of Evening, which was recorded circa 1966 in Los Angeles, has ten tracks (nine standards and an original) well orchestrated by Johnny Mandel and supported by an outstanding set of sidemen. It is influenced by Bing Crosby and sounds a tad like a lower-voiced Dick Haymes. Allyn sang with orchestras with two very different styles, Jack Teagarden's and Boyd Raeburn's, before going out as a single.

On In the Blue of Evening, Allyn is supported by three musical formats. The first is a full orchestra with strings, French horn, and harp; the second orchestra has the strings and harp replaced by Conte Candoli's trumpet and Frank Rosolino's trombone; and the third is a quintet spearheaded by master pianist Jimmy Rowles. Each of the instrumental groupings offers a different coloring to Allyn's delivery, ranging from lush and romantic to swinging and upbeat. There's plenty of outstanding support from the sidemen. Bud Shank's flute flutters on That Ole Devil Called Love. Larry Bunker's vibes are consistently featured in the small group settings and, although not listed as such, it sounds as if he is playing a xylophone on "Remind Me." Whoever has come into ownership of the master tapes from the Discovery label should seriously consider reissuing the Allyn sides on CDs. Those who appreciate good singing have been deprived of this and other Allyn sessions for far too long. Dave Nathan

1. In The Blue of Evening
2. Remind Me
3. It's A Pity To Say Goodnight
4. It All Comes Back To Me Now
5. That Ol' Devil Called Love
6. All Through The Day
7. Dream A Little Dream Of Me
8. Cocktails For Two
9. Down with Love
10. And Now Goodbye

Orchestra arranged & conducted by Johnny Mandel
Recorded in Hollywood, CA in 1966

Bill Evans with Claus Ogermann - Symbiosis (1974)

Symbiosis is a beautiful and vastly overlooked album in Evans’ prolific canon, yet one that needs to be seriously reckoned with. Ogerman, who had worked with Bill on two previous albums in 1963 and in 1965 (Bill Evans With Symphony Orchestra) , composed an adventurous and often hauntingly gorgeous work in two parts.

In the third section of the first movement, working over a slow and gentle jazzy swing, Bill plays long and fast- moving lines on electric piano that catch your ear with their shimmering beauty and complexity. Ogerman writes lush but never maudlin strings (and a few flutes) here in dense, often whole-tone and poly-chordal fashion underneath -- creating a perfect cushion for the pianist’s swirling right-hand lines. The Rhodes fits in well here, as it does sparingly in and out through Symbiosis’ framework. It is often used as punctuation at the end of a written ensemble phrase, or as an ensemble texture. Evans’ choices as to when to use the Rhodes or the Steinway are wise indeed, and not without great sensitivity, integrating seamlessly within the composition. Claus Ogerman as composer-arranger succeeds marvelously here with a work of great harmonic expression and rhythmic interest that showcases Evans’ lyrical expression and his obviously inherent classical strengths, yet within a composition that represents much of what jazz is about. (Ogerman would later do the same for tenor sax virtuoso Michael Brecker for his Cityscape album.)

If we consider the aural comparisons to the other albums Bill did with orchestral accompaniment, it is far and away the most superior achievement, and may represent his best use of the electric keyboard in context. “Symbiosis” is far too important to be neglected as often as it has when jazz writers discuss Bill Evans albums. As biographer Keith Shadwick noted: “Evans brings to the work the consummate artistry and sensitivity that occurs when he is stretched and stimulated. His rubato playing in the opening and second movement sometimes alone, sometimes in unison with the strings, is both moving and immensely accomplished in a way that few jazz or classical pianists could have countenanced. Jan Stevens

Bill Evans was working in familiar territory on most of his 1970s recordings, playing standards and his own compositions with his trio. But many of his fans looked back with fondness at his works from the 1950s when he had been challenged by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, George Russell, Cannonball Adderley, Charles Mingus and other great musical minds in settings not of Evans's own choosing. Symbiosis, a long orchestral composition by Claus Ogerman from 1974, is a throwback to that earlier period. Evans has his familiar friends, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morrell, in tow, but the music is adventurous and a radical departure from what the pianist normally played in concert.

The result is one of the neglected masterpieces of the decade, and a high point in Evans's discography. Ogerman contributes one of the most interesting extended works in the jazz repertoire, and Evans plays at top form. Yet for all its virtues, Symbiosis quickly disappeared from the record stores after its initial release, and it has been years since I have seen a copy anywhere. But thanks to the world of Internet shopping and digital downloads it is now accessible again—and is a must-have for jazz fans who are not familiar with this stellar work. Ted Gioia

Piano [Steinway & Fender-rhodes] - Bill Evans
Composed By, Arranged By, Conductor - Claus Ogerman
Concertmaster - David Nadien
Bass - Eddie Gomez
Bassoon - Wally Kane
Clarinet, Clarinet [Bass] - Danny Bank , Ron Janelly
Congas - Ralph McDonald
Contrabassoon - Donald MacCourt
Drums - Marty Morell
Flute - Bill Slapin , Don Hammond , Hubert Laws
French Horn - Al Richmond , Brooks Tillotson , Earl Chapin , James Buffington , Pete Gordon (2) , Ray Alonge
Oboe - George Marge , Phil Bodner
Percussion - Dave Carey , Doug Allen , George Devens
Saxophone [Alto] - Harvey Estrin , Jerry Dodgion , Phil Woods , Walt Levinsky
Trombone [Bass] - Paul Faulise , Tommy Mitchell
Trombone [Tenor] - Urbie Green
Trumpet - Bernie Glow , Johnny Frosk , Marky Markowitz , Marvin Stamm , Mel Davis , Victor Paz
Tuba - Don Butterfield

1st Movement (Moderato, Various Tempi) - 24:58
1 (a) 7:58
2 (b) 5:17
3 (c) 11:43
2nd Movement (Largo- Andante - Maestoso - Largo) - 15:55
4 (a) 9:11
5 (b) 6:44

Recorded on February 11, 12 and 14th 1974 at Columbia Recording Studios, New York City

SALSA: Ray Barretto - Rhythm of Life (and more)

When I get in the latin mood, Ray's salsa albums always satisfy. Jazz to be sure: interesting changes, horns in tune, singers who hit the notes, and rhythm stupendo...

Biography by Richard S. Ginell
While Ray Barretto's congas have graced more recording sessions than virtually any other conguero of his time, he has also led some refreshingly progressive Latin jazz bands over the decades. His records often have a more tense, more adventurously eclectic edge than those of most conventional salsa groups, unafraid to use electronics and novel instrumental or structural combinations, driven hard by his rocksteady, endlessly flexible percussion work. This no doubt reflects Barretto's wide range of musical interests and also the fact that he came to Latin music from jazz, rather than the usual vice versa route for Latin-descended musicians...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sonny Stitt - The Last Sessions Volumes 1 and 2

This was Sonny's last studio session, and it's a characteristically solid outing by Sonny, with just slightly diminished tone quality and breath support (most of the solos are quite short). Sonny, perhaps the most complete, the most "perfect" saxophonist in the history of jazz, has his way with, if not his final say on, each of the tune selections. "As Time Goes By" might be taken as a touchstone to Sonny Stitt, the consummate musician: he keeps the melody primary while using the space between notes, much like Art Tatum, to create separate, dazzling counter-melodies.

It's good to hear the contrasting piano styles of Junior Mance and Walter Davis Jr. along with the addition of Bill Hardman on three tracks. George Duvivier, as usual, plays with a robust tone and impeccable note choices, but after a while the bass begins to stick out like a primary rather than supportive voice. It's difficult to say whether the problem is entirely due to the mixing (at times I get the impression he sees himself as a solo rhythm section). In any case, the audio is more satisfying when the bass is rolled back and Jimmy Cobb's often disappearing ride cymbal is given a treble boost.

"Genius" is a miunderstood, overused term. In music there have been only a few geniuses--visionaries who have tapped into the original, vital stream that we might consider musical consciousness itself--Bach, Mozart, Bird. Like Shakespeare, their gift was to be linked directly to the divine, spiritual source that elevates humans to the God-like and enables the rest of us to sense our human potential. Sonny Stitt was not one of the geniuses, not one of the innovators. Rather, he took the language of Charlie Parker, perfected it, codified it, and created a syntax and rhetoric that the rest of us could understand and even employ.

Today, 20 years after his death, Sonny's music keeps resurfacing, showing up in unexpected places, providing an exemplary textbook for every aspiring musician and remaining perhaps the best instrumental example of the enduring melodies of the the Great American Songbook. ~ Samuel Chell

Sonny Stitt (alto and tenor sax)
Bill Hardman (trumpet)
Junior Mance (piano)
Walter Davis (piano)
George Duvivier (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)

1. Steamroller
2. I'll Be Seeing You
3. Out of Nowhere
4. Sweet Georgia Brown
5. Keepin' It
6. This Is Always
7. Makin' It
8. Angel Eyes

9. At Last
10. Bouncin' With Bud
11. As Time Goes By
12. Swiftly
13. Sugar
14. Jumpin' The Blues

JAC Recording Studio and Nola Recording Studio, New York: June 8-9, 1982

Wingy Manone And His Orchestra - 1927-1934 (Chronological 774)

Last week when Rapidupload was on the fritz, I "posted" a couple of things that have been here for years already; and I'm always surprised - and a little dismayed - that people, some of them old-timers to the site, never knew they were here. There's a lot of stuff in the older posts, and most of them have the links. They were apparently posted before lurkers turned me into the prick so many of you know. This was originally posted in December '07.

A publicity photo of Wingy Manone shows him apparently poised in the act of doing the dance called a buck-and-wing, but that's not where the moniker came from. When Joe Manone was ten years old he lost his right arm in a trolley accident. In time he came to be called "Wingy," and wore a wooden limb with a glove over the end of it, securing his cornet between the wooden fingers and working its valves with his left hand. Wingy's bands swung hard. He developed a warm, gruff voice and almost invariably displayed a wild sense of humor. What Classics 774 delivers is a step-by-step synopsis of Manone's earliest work, including quite a bit of previously hard to find material. The four titles from 1927 were recorded in Wingy's home town of New Orleans. Earl Warner's twerpy vocal on the first selection illustrates exactly why listeners should be thankful for Wingy's decision to develop himself as a singer. Up in Chicago a year and a half later, Wingy fell in with a set of rough-and-tumble blokes who earnestly cooked each number to the bone. Next stop: the Gennett recording studio in Richmond, IN, where Manone led two sessions under the inspiring banner of Barbecue Joe & His Hot Dogs during the late summer and early autumn of 1930. Every single one of these sides is solid and catchy, especially the Hot Dogs' revival of Papa Charlie Jackson's "Shake That Thing." Most notably, "Tar Paper Stomp," also known as "Wingy's Stomp," is the earliest known recording involving a bouncy lick that would show up in Fletcher Henderson's book as "Hot and Anxious" and eventually earn a lot of money for Glenn Miller as "In the Mood." Here on Wingy's plate it comes across honest and natural as hash browns and scrambled eggs with a little bit of hot sauce. There is a discernible change in Wingy's voice over the span of just a few years. In 1928 he's earnest enough but doesn't attract a whole lot of attention. By 1930 he's sounding tougher. But the Wingy of 1934 calls out in a voice of magnetic, husky friendliness that would distinguish him for the rest of his days. Wingy's consistent front line of cornet (or trumpet after 1930), clarinet, and tenor sax was only occasionally beefed up with a trombone or extra trumpets. Three of the five tenors represented here languish in obscurity; Bud Freeman and Eddie Miller are familiar names, but who on earth was George Snurpus? This is exactly why early jazz studies are so adventuresome. You never know who is going to appear before your startled ears. Any hankering for famous and proven presences will be more than satisfied by the session of August 15, 1934. Wingy, Dicky Wells, Artie Shaw, and Bud Freeman are supported by Kaiser Marshall, John Kirby, guitarist Frank Victor, and your choice of pianists Teddy Wilson or Jelly Roll Morton. If that don't get it, nothing will. ~ arwulf arwulf

Wingy Manone (cornet, vocal)
Artie Shaw (clarinet)
Bud Freeman (tenor sax)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Jelly Roll Morton (piano)
Art Hodes (piano)
Frank Teschmacher (clarinet)
John Kirby (bass)
Harry Goodman (bass)
Gene Krupa (drums)

1. Sadness Will Be Gladness
2. Cat's Head
3. Up The Country Blues
4. Ringside Stomp
5. Downright Disgusted
6. Fare Thee Well
7. Trying To Stop My Crying
8. Isn't There A Little Love?
9. Shake That Thing
10. Tar Paper Stomp (Wingy' Stomp)
11. Up The Country Blues
12. Tin Roof Blues
13. Weary Blues
14. Big Butter And Egg Man
15. No Calling Card
16. Strange Blues
17. Send Me
18. Walking The Streets (Until My Baby Comes Home)
19. Easy Like
20. In The Slot
21. Never Had No Livin'
22. I'm Alone Without You

Ron McCroby - The Other Whistler [LP > FLAC] (1984)

Ron McCroby was a master of the rarely practiced art of jazz whistling, blessed with amazingly sure intonation and technical control that allowed him to mimic bebop players' lines with a clarity that made it sound as though he were playing a piccolo. In fact, McCroby delighted in describing his "instrument" as a "puccolo" (a conflation of piccolo and pucker).

McCroby was a bit of a novelty in the early eighties but had some time in the spotlight with an appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival and two albums for Concord Records, neither of which has been reissued on CD. The Other Whistler was his second album and has some fine moments on "Cherokee", "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and a fun version of "Mayberry B.F.D."

Ron McCroby (puccolo, clarinet on 8)
Bill Mays (piano)
Steve La Spina (bass)
Akira Tana (drums)
  1. Four Brothers
  2. Song from M*A*S*H*
  3. Cherokee
  4. My Foolish Heart
  5. Blue Rondo a la Turk
  6. I Remember Clifford
  7. Mayberry R.F.D.
  8. Take Five
Recorded June 1984

VIDEO: Woodstock Jazz Festival

Creative Music Studio - The Woodstock Jazz Festival - "Early eighties, Woodstock, New York"

Howard Johnson, Marilyn Crispell, Baikida Carrol, Julius Hemphill, Attilio Zanchi, Ed Blackwell, Karl Berger, Aiyb Dieng, Nana Vasconceles, Collin Walcott, Pat Metheny, Dewey Redman, Jack DeJohnette, Miroslav Vitous, Anthony Braxton, Lee Konitz, Chick Corea

Bill Evans - Trio With Symphony Orchestra

Throughout his career, pianist-composer Bill Evans successfully melded Bud Powell's fiery bop-paced technique with the lyricism and harmonic language of the French impressionists Ravel and Debussy. So it was only natural that he would record a session that combines the jazz and classical traditions.

Released in 1965, this date features Evans's trio with drummer Larry Bunker, who, three decades later, guest-starred on Diana Krall's When I Look in Your Eyes, and the sensitive bassist Chuck Israels. They're augmented by the azure-tinged arrangements by the famed conductor Claus Ogerman, who worked his magic with artists from Antonio Carlos Jobim to Frank Sinatra. The result of this union is a swinging and seamless interplay in which improvisation becomes spontaneous composition, and vice versa. The linearity and logic of Evans's lines erase centuries of musical distance from the works of Bach, Chopin, Granados, Fauré, and Scriabin, with the trio's trademark telepathy expressed in 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures and light Latin tinges. Evans's haunting compositions, "My Bells" and "Time Remembered," imbued by Ogerman's ethereal strings, are the jewels of this delightful recording, whose brilliance has increased with time. ~ Eugene Holley Jr.

Mid-'60s sessions matching the Bill Evans trio with a large orchestra arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman. The strings provide a nice backdrop, but are otherwise inconsequential. Evans and bassist Chuck Israel are outstanding, with Evans' piano treatments of both classical and jazz material exceptional. Drummer Larry Bunker holds things together as the lone percussive element. ~ Ron Wynn

Bill Evans (piano)
Chuck Israels (bass)
Grady Tate (drums)
Larry Bunker (drums)
Claus Ogerman (arranger, conductor)

1. Granadas (Granados)
2. Valse (Bach)
3. Prelude (Scriabin)
4. Time Remembered (Evans)
5. Pavane (Based On A Theme By Gabriel Faure)
6. Concerto For Orchestra And Jazz: 2. Elegia (Ogerman)
7. My Bells (Evans)
8. Blue Interlude (Chopin)

Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs: October 18 and December 16, 1965

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Clifford Brown - Brownie: The Complete EmArcy Recordings Of Clifford Brown CDs 5-7

Rapidupload is working again, so ... 3 and a half to go.

This is the mother lode, 10 full discs of the great hard-bop trumpeter Clifford Brown recorded at the peak of his powers for Emarcy Records in 1954-56 leading up to his tragic death in a car crash at the age of 25. Start with his first quintet recordings with drummer Max Roach, pianist Richie Powell (Bud's younger brother), bassist George Morrow, and underrated tenor saxophonist Harold Land, including the great readings of "I Get a Kick Out of You" and the Brown originals "Daahoud" and "Joy Spring." Then it's on to the Clifford Brown All-Stars including Roach and saxophonists Herb Geller and Joe Main, then the huge All Star Live Jam Session with Geller, Land, trumpeters Clark Terry and Maynard Ferguson, and vocalist Dinah Washington. The vocal work continues with Brown's seminal albums with Sarah Vaughan and Helen Merrill, and the sensitivity Brown shows there comes full flower with his Clifford Brown with Strings, a rare example of a jazz-with-strings album that actually works, thanks to his beautiful phrasing on "Stardust" and others. Then it's back to the classic Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet, with Sonny Rollins eventually replacing Land in what's considered one of the all-time-great jazz ensembles. Brownie isn't a perfect package: It includes a ton of bonus tracks--that's a good thing, but the integrity of the original albums is lost. For example, disc 3 consists of three takes of "Coronado," 43 minutes in all. And of course while this 10-disc set is a great collection, any Brown lover still needs to pick up Sonny Rollins Plus Four and at least some of his Blue Note work--A Night at Birdland or, for gourmands, the perfect bookend to this set, the four-disc Complete Blue Note & Pacific Jazz Recordings. ~ David Horiuchi

Although undoubtedly an expensive acquisition, this ten-CD set is perfectly done and contains dozens of gems. The remarkable but short-lived trumpeter Clifford Brown has the second half of his career fully documented (other than his final performance) and he is showcased in a wide variety of settings. The bulk of the numbers are of Brownie's quintet with co-leader and drummer Max Roach, either Harold Land or Sonny Rollins on tenor, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow (including some previously unheard alternate takes), but there is also much more. Brown stars at several jam sessions (including a meeting with fellow trumpeters Clark Terry and Maynard Ferguson), accompanies such singers as Dinah Washington, Helen Merrill, and Sarah Vaughan, and is backed by strings on one date. Everything is here, including classic versions of "Parisian Thoroughfare," "Joy Spring," "Daahoud," "Coronado," a ridiculously fast "Move," "Portrait of Jenny," "Cherokee," "Sandu," "I'll Remember April," and "What Is This Thing Called Love?" Get this set while it stays in print. ~ Scott Yanow

Clifford Brown (trumpet)
Harold Land (tenor sax)
Paul Quinichette (tenor sax)
Walter Benton (tenor sax)
Dinah Washington (vocals)
Helen Merrill (vocals)
Sarah Vaughan (vocals)
Barry Galbraith (guitar)
Oscar Peterson (cello, bass instrument)
Herb Geller, Joe Maini (alto sax)
Clark Terry (trumpet)
Maynard Ferguson (trumpet)
Kenny Drew (piano)
Richie Powell (piano)
Curtis Counce (bass)
Max Roach (drums)
Osie Johnson (drums)
Roy Haynes (drums)

Lee Morgan - The Sixth Sense (TOCJ)

Those new RVG issues are crap.

Gleckit Loon sent me a quote by Steve Hoffman that rings true;

"The Rudy Van Gelder sound recipe? That's easy. Take three or four expensive German mics with a blistering top end boost, put them real close to the instruments, add some extra distortion from a cheap overloading mic preamp through an Army surplus radio console, put some crappy plate reverb on it, and record. Then, immediately (and for no good reason), redub the master onto a Magnatone tape deck at +6, compressing the crap out of it while adding 5 db at 5000 cycles to everything. That's the Van Gelder Sound to me".

And he was talking about the original mixes before these new made-for-mp3-ears RVGs came out. And I know of at least one flannel eared jackass who "collects" these merely because they are "RVG"s. Where will it all end?

This rare Lee Morgan Blue Note date from 1968 is one of the few discs by the legendary trumpeter that didn't see a large following when it was originally released. Unlike the colossal The Sidewinder, this session is subtler in its approach to ... Full Descriptionthe funky sounds that Morgan had ushered into existence a few years earlier. Still, the masterful playing of stars like Morgan, Jackie McLean, Cedar Walton, and Billy Higgins, coupled with some exceptionally creative tunes, make this a worthwhile jewel in the Lee Morgan treasure chest. Also significant is the rare appearance of tenor man Frank Mitchell, who had appeared briefly with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

Morgan and company set the groove early with the bossa nova-tinged title track. Higgins swings hard on Morgan's "Short Count," which gives the trumpeter and his guests plenty of breathing room for some healthy solos. The jazzy rock shadings of "Psychedelic" are no doubt a reflection of the coming trend that would hit full swing in the '70s. Also included here are three tracks from an unreleased session that feature pianist Harold Mabern in place of Walton. Other highlight cuts include the bouncing "Afreaka" and Morgan's intricate "Anti Climax."

For this lesser-known Lee Morgan LP, the trumpeter was starting to stretch beyond hard bop into more modal areas while retaining his easily recognizable sound. None of Morgan's originals (which are performed along with pianist Cedar Walton's "Afreaka" and Cal Massey's "The Cry of My People") caught on, but the music is creatively performed by the trumpeter, altoist Jackie McLean (who was always a perfect musical partner), the obscure tenor Frank Mitchell, Walton, bassist Victor Sproles, and drummer Billy Higgins. ~ Scott Yanow

Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Frank Mitchell (tenor sax)
Cedar Walton (piano)
Harold Mabern (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)

1. The Sixth Sense
2. Short Count
3. Psychedelic
4. Afreaka
5. Anti Climax
6. The Cry Of My People

Van Gelder Studios, Englewood, New Jersey: November 10, 1967 and September 13, 1968

Claus Ogermann & The London Symphony Orchestra with Gidon Kremer (1980)

German arranger/conductor/composer Claus Ogerman (born 1930 in Ratibor, Prussia - which was then a German state - now part of Poland) has been widely-admired for five decades for his large orchestra arrangements of often brooding unison strings. His many strings often blossom into a sumptuous harmony highlighted by soloing flutes. He is best known for his brilliant and unparalleled arrangements of Brazillian music on a series of Antonio Carlos Jobim albums nearly the polar opposite of his traditional European classical music training. Ogerman also arranged Jobim's compositions on the acclaimed 1967 album "Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim". Many lament that Sinatra failed to use Ogerman again (while searching for arrangers for the rest of his career) when one hears his outstanding arrangements behind Sinatra singing the American popular song classics "I Concentrate on You" and "Baubles, Bangles and Beads".

In the 1950's, Ogerman worked in Germany as an arranger-pianist with Kurt Edelhagen and with Max Greger. In 1959, he moved to New York City to begin an arranging career as light classical music interest started to rapidly decline. Despite being immediately saddled with lesser arranging assignments in a fast-changing American music business, he firmly established himself in the recording studios with his versatile skills such that his work is still heard in commercials, elevators and recordings of all types. In 1963 he joined Creed Taylor's Verve/MGM Records, working on recordings by Jobim, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, Kai Winding and Cal Tjader. Taylor sold Verve Records and brought Ogerman over to arrange Jobim's Wave on his new CTI label. Ogerman later worked on albums by Oscar Peterson, Nelson Riddle (his favorite orchestrator) and others at the German MPS label. His other collaborations include work with Benny Goodman, Joao Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, Joao Donato, Betty Carter, Leslie Gore and Michael Franks. Ogerman arranged best selling albums for Connie Francis and The Drifters. He has written jazz charts for Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard, and Stanley Turrentine, among others. He has composed for many German films as well. He greatly regrets missing Glenn Gould's request to play on the arrangements he did for Barbara Streisand's "Classical Barbra" album.

In 1976, Jobim gave Ogerman the back side of his "Urubu" LP to exclusively feature his strings while Bill Evans similarly allowed Ogerman great latitude on his albums. Ogerman's piano-playing, which included early work with Chet Baker, can be heard to great affect on Jobim's best album "Terra Brasilis" (1980), featuring his masterful reworking of his arrangements from Jobim's 1960's American albums, highlighted by "Double Rainbow".

After many Grammy nominations over the years, Ogerman won the 1979 Grammy for Best Arrangement on an Instrumental Recording - George Benson's "Soulful Strut" Living Inside Your Love. He also solidified the jazz guitarist's pop vocal career with his arrangments on Benson's hugely selling album "Breezin'". George Benson's producer Tommy LiPuma the then helped him take highlights from his ballet `Some Times' to create his song-suite album `Gate Of Dreams' featuring his own orchestra, George Benson, David Sanborn, Michael Brecker and others. LiPuma later also produced Ogerman's excellent album "Cityscape". After producing the Benson and Ogerman albums for Warner Brothers, LiPuma took Ogerman to Dave Grusin's GRP label to produce the 1991 album "Claus Ogerman featuring Michael Brecker".

Unlike many arrangers who became better known when touring and appearing on television with big-name singers, Ogerman's intricate, large orchestra arrangements could usually only be afforded in the recording studio. Until the 1970's, Ogerman's large-scale orchestrations were almost always reduced to backing other artists of widely-varying talents and types of music at a time when only hit-composing arrangers (with more marketing-friendly names) could cost-effectively record their own albums in a country lacking subsidized light music orchestras and productions. Ogerman even hinted that the vast majority of his 1960's and 1970's work was quite unsatisfying.

Since the 1970's, Claus has devoted himself almost exclusively to serious compositions. His commissions and projects include a ballet score for the American Ballet Theatre (Some Times), a work for jazz piano and orchestra (Symbiosis) for Bill Evans, a work for saxophone and orchestra (Cityscape, which includes Symphonic Dances) for Michael Brecker, a song cycle (Tagore-Lieder) after poems by Rabindranath Tagore that was recorded by Met soprano Judith Blegen and mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender, Concerto Lirico and Sarabande-Fantasie for violin and orchestra that was recorded by Aaron Rosand, 10 Songs for Chorus A-Capella After Poems by Georg Heym that was recorded by the Cologne Radio Chorus, a work for violin and orchestra (Preludio and Chant recorded by world-renowned violinist Gideon Kremer), and many more.

September 2001: After 20 years away from jazz and popular music, Diana Krall coaxes Claus to arrange and conduct the London Symphony Orchestra on her best-selling album "The Look of Love". Now enjoy seeing Claus conduct on Diana's DVD "Live in Paris". Ogerman's major influences remain Max Reger and Alexander Scriabin. He steadfastly maintains that he is not primarily concerned with "modernism" - his goal is to evoke emotional response in the listener. Alan Watts

1. Preludio and Chant (16:07)
Feauturing Gidon Kremer, Violin

2. Elegia (6:02)

Symphonic Dances
3. a. Introduction – Andante (8:01)
4. b. Molto Tranquillo (6:42)
5. c. Maestoso-giocoso-tranquillo (6:30)

London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Claus Ogermann

Musica per due pianoforte
6. First Movement (in the form of an etude) (4:48)
7. Second movement (13:36)
Begona Uriarte & Karl-Hermann Mrongovius (pianos)

Recorded June 1980 at CTS Studios, London UK

Bembeya Jazz National - The Syliphone Years

When the West African nation of Guinea achieved independence in 1958, the new government hastened to encourage local art forms. Within a few years, each region had its own orchestra and Bembeya Jazz (named for a river flowing through their South-Western home province) was considered the best of all. Fronted by Aboubacar Demba Camara¹s visceral yet sensitively phrased vocals, the sinuous, glistening guitar of Sékou "Diamond Fingers" Diabaté and a full-blooded brass section, the band became a national institution and the first Guinean ensemble to perform outside Africa. These 26 tracks were originally released as 45 RPM singles and on LPs from the Syliphon label and if the sound quality varies, the music has held up remarkably well. Bembeya's nonpareil synthesis of slow-simmering Latin rhythms with otherworldly Islamic traditions constitutes a priceless legacy that simply must be heard. Fans of 1960s Congolese music and Senegal's Orchestre Baobab will adore them. ~ Christina Roden

In the aftermath of the Guinean Independence in 1958 and the encouragement of cultural pride, numerous bands sprang up throughout the African country. The most popular was Bembeya Jazz National, formed by vocalist Aboubacar Dembar Camara in 1961. Specializing in modern arrangements of Manding classic tunes, Bembeya Jazz National won the first two national Biennale festivals in 1962 and 1964 and was crowned National Orchestra in 1966.

Initially a seven-piece group, featuring a Latin-flavored horn section of saxophone, trumpet, and clarinet, Bembeya Jazz National reached its apex with the addition of electric guitarist Sekou "Diamond Fingers" Diabate and lead singer Sekouba Mabino Diabate (no relation). Although prohibited from touring outside Guinea until the mid-'80s, Bembeya Jazz National continued to build a cult-like following in its home country.

Bembeya Jazz National's most ambitious album, Regard Sur Le Passe, released in 1968, was a musical tribute to the memory of Samory Toure, who founded the Mande kingdom in 1870. A live album, 10 Ans De Succes, was recorded during a 1971 concert.

A set-back for the band came in 1973 when Camara was killed in an auto accident on his way to a concert in Dakar. Although they remained together for another eight years, Bembeya Jazz National was unable to duplicate the success of their earliest years. The group disbanded in 1991 with Sekou Diabate and Sekouba Bambino Diabate going on to successful solo careers. ~ Craig Harris

CD 1
1. République Guinée
2. Sabor de Guajira
3. Armée Guinéenne
4. Guantanamera-seyni
5. Dembaty Galant
6. Air Guinée
7. Guinée Hety Horémoun
8. Montuno de la Sierra
9. Waraba
10. Dagna
11. Doni Don
12. Camara Mousso
13. Super Tentemba
14. Mami Wati
15. Alalake

CD 2
1. Beyla
2. Fatoumata
3. Moussogbe
4. Sou
5. N'Gamokorô
6. Ballake
7. Mussofing
8. Dya Dya
9. Sina Mousso
10. N'Temenna
11. Telephone
12. Petit Sékou

JAZZ SOUNDIE: John Guarnieri Quartet Plus

And what's the "plus"? Quite risqué for the time. Check it out.

Scott Yanow bio:
One of the most talented pianists of the 1940s, Johnny Guarnieri had the ability to closely imitate Fats Waller, Count Basie, and even Art Tatum. Not too surprisingly, he was in great demand during his prime years. Guarnieri started classical piano lessons when he was ten and soon switched to jazz. In 1939, he joined Benny Goodman's orchestra, recording frequently with both the big band and B.G.'s sextet. In 1940, Guarnieri became a member of Artie Shaw's orchestra and gained fame playing harpsichord on Shaw's popular Gramercy Five recordings. After further associations with Goodman (1941) and Shaw (1941-1942), he was with Tommy Dorsey (1942-1943) and then freelanced. Among Guarnieri's many recordings during this era were important dates with Lester Young ("Sometimes I'm Happy"), Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Rex Stewart, Don Byas, and Louis Armstrong ("Jack-Armstrong Blues"). He also recorded frequently as a leader during 1944-1947, including one date on which Lester Young was his sideman. Guarnieri joined the staff of NBC in the late '40s, appeared in the Coleman Hawkins/Roy Eldridge television pilot After Hours (1961), moved to California in the '60s where he often played solo piano, and a few times in the 1970s toured Europe. Guarnieri's later records often found him playfully performing stride in 5/4 time. He recorded as a leader through the years for such labels as Savoy, Majestic, Coral (1956), Golden Crest, Camden, Dot, Black & Blue, Dobre, and Taz-Jazz (1976 and 1978).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Henry Threadgill - Too Much Sugar For A Dime

Although the Penguin guide describes this as "a mad, glorious romp which explores some very dark timbres and tonalities and yet remains witty, fresh and consistently exciting.", they don't do so recently because this is criminally out of print. Not only do the "avant" players tend feature tuba as the bass instrument - a position it held in the earliest jazz bands - other instrumentation seems to find a natural place, without seeming contrived; witness the oud again.

Imagine writing for an instrumentation of two electric guitars, two tubas, French horn, drums and Henry Threadgill's alto. Threadgill was up to the challenge and his four avant-garde originals utilize the odd combination of tones to great advantage. Two additional songs feature Threadgill, just one tuba, drums, a few exotic instruments and three strings to create some particularly unusual music. It's for the open-eared listener only. ~ Scott Yanow

Henry Threadgill (alto sax)
Simon Shaheen (violin, oud)
Leroy Jenkins (violin)
Mark Taylor (French horn)
Edwin Rodriguez (tuba)
Masujaa (guitar)

1. Little Pocket Size Demons
2. In Touch
3. Paper Toilet
4. Better Wrapped/Better Unrapped
5. Too Much Sugar
6. Try Some Ammonia

Washington Phillips - The Complete Recorded Works

East Texan Washington Phillips was one of the founding fathers of American gospel music. Although he recorded only eighteen tunes (sixteen of which have survived) in five sessions in Dallas between 1927 and 1929, Phillips helped to lay the foundation that resulted in such spiritually-oriented performers as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Dixie Hummingbirds and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama.

A travelling preacher, Phillips accompanied his soulful vocals on what was believed to be a dolceola, a zither-like instrument with a small keyboard invented by Ohio piano tuner David P. Boyd in the 1890s. Only around a hundred of this odd instrument were ever made, leading to the question of how a route preacher in East Texas ended up with one. Recent studies suggest that Phillips may have actually played a modified fretless zither on his recordings rather than a true dolceola, and in fact, he may have been playing two such instruments at the same time, one with the left hand and one with his right.

Other elements of Phillips' life also remain a mystery. It was long thought that Phillips was committed to a state mental institution in Austin, Texas less than a year after his last 78 was recorded, and that he spent the final years of his life confined there until his death in 1939 of tuberculosis at the age of 47. There is some compelling new evidence, however, that this was a different George Washington Phillips, and that the gospel musician actually settled in Simsboro, Texas after his recording sessions, living there until 1954, when he died from injuries sustained in a fall at the age of 74. Whichever version is accurate, Phillips never recorded again and his 16 surviving recordings from the late '20s remain one of the most distinctive in all of early blues and gospel. ~ Craig Harris and Steve Leggett

In the pre-Depression heyday of "race" records, sacred songs and sermons were as widely recorded (and popular) as blues and jazz. Like such "guitar evangelists" as fellow-Texan Blind Willie Johnson, Phillips's evangelism borrowed from blues and mingled topical commentary in a way which makes his 16 recordings from 1927-29 still compelling. Interdenominational hairsplitting ("Denomination Blues"), lecherous deacons and lax parents are among the targets of Phillips's gentle scorn; like the best of his contemporaries, he mixed biblical background ("Paul and Silas in Jail") with daily life foreground ("You Can't Stop a Tattler") in the manner of a skilled preacher. Phillips's sermon-songs are accompanied by dolceola, a keyboard hammered dulcimer that sounds like a celestial ice cream truck. If Johnson sounds like Yahweh's wrath unsheathed, Phillips is a Sunday school picnic on heaven's lawn. His music is a unique and delightful rivulet off the blues-gospel Nile. ~ Mark Humphrey

1. I Am Born to Preach the Gospel
2. Church Needs Good Deacons
3. I Had a Good Father and Mother
4. Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There
5. Mother's Last Word to Her Daughter
6. Paul and Silas in Jail
7. Denomination Blues, Pt. 1
8. Denomination Blues, Pt. 2
9. Lift Him Up That's All
10. Jesus Is My Friend
11. Mother's Last Word to Her Son
12. What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?
13. I've Got the Key to the Kingdom
14. Train Your Child
15. You Can't Stop a Tattler, Pt. 1
16. You Can't Stop a Tattler, Pt. 2

Ian Shaw and Cedar Walton - In A New York Minute

I guess I may as well post this other vocal CD seeing as how the Pat Moran is here. I ripped and scanned this a couple of weeks ago, but it doesn't set me on fire, and Rapidshare has been a real nuisance regarding uploading, so .... That (the Rapidshare situation) is now corrected, so ...

Though they receive equal billing, Ian Shaw and Cedar Walton are not equal partners here in the way that Cassandra Wilson and Jacky Terrasson were on Rendezvous. There are no instrumentals without Shaw, no Walton originals; the listing seems more a nod to the veteran jazzman's seniority and talent. Other than an extended solo on "Last Night When We Were Young", Walton functions here as an accompanist (along with saxophonist Iain Bellamy and bassist David Williams). That said, Shaw is an interesting vocalist. One easily hears his influences--Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, and in a swinging bass and vocal arrangement of "I Thought About You", Sarah Vaughan. Shaw's influences, though, are filtered through a gauze of British soul. It is especially evident in blues tunes like "Standing in the Dark" and "No One Ever Tells You", in which Shaw occasionally evokes the young Steve Winwood back when the latter sounded frighteningly like Ray Charles. But more often Shaw's vocal timbre evokes the power and passion of fellow Welshman Tom Jones. This is by no means a criticism--Jones has a terrific voice and tons of soul. Shaw, meanwhile, exhibits none of Jones's Vegas mannerisms or dubious choices of material. Still, with all his jazz-singer intentions and credentials, In a New York Minute contains enough examples of modern R&B vocal histrionics to make one wonder whether Ian Shaw is a soul singer performing jazz or an interesting new hybrid. Time will tell. ~ Michael Ross

1. In A New York Minute
2. Standing In The Dark
3. wouldn't It Be Lovely
4. I Thought About You
5. Furry Sings The Blues
6. Grandma's Hands
7. Alfie
8. All Or Nothing At All
9. Shake Down The Stars
10. No One Ever Tells You
11. Last Night When We Were Young
12. That's Life

Coleman Hawkins - 1962 On Broadway

A generous 76-minute CD, Coleman Hawkins On Broadway contains 1962 recordings originally heard on three LPs: Good Old Broadway, Coleman Hawkins Plays Make Someone Happy From Do Re Mi and The Coleman Hawkins Quartet Plays The Jazz Version Of No Strings. All of the songs Hawk interprets were from Broadway plays, and everything boasts the sparkling Tommy Flanagan on piano, Major Holley on bass and Eddie Locke on drums. Fast-tempo aggression isn't a priority here—instead, the seminal tenor saxman brings a relaxed confidence to standards like "The Sweetest Sounds," "Make Someone Happy" and "Get Out Of Town." Comfortable tempos are the rule, and in fact, much of this CD can function quite well as nocturnal mood music—but mood music of a consistently high quality. And as usual, Hawk's big, breathy tone is something to savor. Alex Henderson

This 1962 album features music from two previously released Hawkins LPs, GOOD OLD BROADWAY and MAKE SOMEONE HAPPY, plus two selections from a third record, THE JAZZ VERSION OF NO STRINGS. Hawkins' musical concept sounds relatively modern on this effort from later in his career.
Made up mostly of show tunes, ON BROADWAY is generally subdued and understated. Critics have often labeled Hawkins as mainstream jazz, however, the relaxed feel of these sessions gives the music a decidedly cool sound. Also, contrary to the argument that Hawkins' output for Prestige Records was somewhat lackluster, these Broadway classics are given warm and moving readings. Highlights include "Wouldn't it be Loverly" from MY FAIR LADY, and the attractive "Cry Like the Wind" from the musical DO, RE, MI. Hawk's own woody and mellifluous tone along with pianist Tommy Flanagan's delicate accompaniment makes this CD really sparkle. CDUniverse

01. I Talk To The Trees (Loewe, Lerner) 4:17
02. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Kern, Harbach) 4:36
03. Wanting You (Romberg, Hammerstein) 2:23
04. Strange Music (Grieg, Wright, Forrest) 6:15
05. The Man That Got Away (Arlen, Gershwin) 4:04
06. Get Out Of Town (Porter) 4:09
07. Here I'll Stay (Weill, Lerner) 4:06
08. A Fellow Needs A Girl (Rodgers, Hammerstein) 4:46
09. Loads Of Love (Rodgers) 4:11
10. The Sweetest Sounds (Rodgers) 4:18
11. Wouldn't It Be Loverly? (Loewe, Lerner) 7:45
12. Cry Like The Wind (Comden, Green, Styne) 4:29
13. Climb Every Mountain (Rodgers, Hammerstein) 4:31
14. Make Someone Happy (Comden, Green, Styne) 3:03
15. Out Of My Dreams (Rodgers, Hammerstein) 4:49
16. Have I Told You Lately? (Rome) 3:22
17. I Believe In You (Loesser) 4:42

1-8 originally released as Good Old Broadway
9-10 originally on The Coleman Hawkins Quartet Plays The Jazz Version Of No Strings
11-17 originally released as Coleman Hawkins Plays Make Someone Happy From Do Re Mi

Coleman Hawkins (tenor saxophone)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Major Holley (bass)
Eddie Locke (drums)

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on January 2, March 30 and August 16, 1962.

Coleman Hawkins & Roy Eldridge - 1959-60 Bean & Little Jazz

Two different ensembles in which trumpeter Roy Eldridge and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins join forces are presented on this 1994 collection, in both cases playing exemplary modern jazz . The pair loved working together and represent one of the best combinations of star soloists from this genre ever executed. All references between the last word in the previous sentence and the slang expression "killing" (for playing really well) are intended. The Jazz Hour imprint's program starts off on-stage at the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival with some truly epic improvisation in terms of both length and inspiration achieved. The first three tracks go on collectively for well over a half-an-hour -- a stark contradiction of Charles Mingus' Grammy award winning liner notes in which he claims the elder generation of jazz players would never play long solos. Hawkins simply had no elders in terms of jazz tenor saxophone soloists, yet he spends an amount of time equivalent to three Top 40 hits on his "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" solo, all the while making it seem like what he is doing is spreading apple butter on freshly baked bread.
Even the warm, inviting opening of this gig involves multi-chorus statements, the combo members individually entering the scene as if popular characters in a radio comedy. Typically for a Bean & Little Jazz project, the band is superb. Pianist Ray Bryant and his brother, bassist Tommy Bryant are on hand, meaning this particular group passes the acid test for a bluegrass "brother band," (i.e. the good kind). Eldridge might as well be playing bluegrass, as quickly as he sets interpretive matter regarding chords and scales in motion. The Bryant brothers have meanwhile set aside the apple butter in favor of big portions of barbecue sauce and they don't care if it gets on the front of their shirts. Drummer Oliver Jackson fills out the group, although from previous imagery it may seem like the other way around. This event took place not that long before Jackson played on some of Yusef Lateef's earliest experiments with ethnic music and modern jazz. Hawkins himself was keeping pace with musical developments, his relationship with Eldridge itself taken as a sign that the saxophonist could still run with a younger crowd. As for the trumpeter, he was more than ready, considering his early years had been spent in carnivals, blowing copies of Hawkins' popular solos into the ears of gawkers on their way to the freak and girlie shows.
Rhythm section players involved with these hornmen overlapped, interesting stylistic contrasts resulting along the way, maybe even more interesting than the carnival. The second group on this set is blessed with Jo Jones on the drum chair. Jones had backed Eldridge and Hawkins at a Newport Jazz Festival edition two years previously; at that point the drummer was also performing with the Count Basie big band. Factor in superb bebop and ballad pianist Tommy Flanagan and bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik for a quintet that toured in the early '60s under the auspices of the American State Department. Whether "Bean and Boys" were part of a cold war propaganda campaign is hardly the type of issue addressed when this group sets out on its "Rifftide." Flanagan and Malik, with whom Hawkins also played in combination with pianist Thelonious Monk, divide up rhythm section duties the way families at holidays wish a roast could be carved. These tracks are much more compact servings than the Newport material. Still Hawkins lingers, spending about 20 seconds more than the norm exposing his most famous solo of all, "Body and Soul." Eugene Chadbourne

1. Soft Winds (Goodman) 11:38
2. Sweet Sue - Just You (Harris/Young) 09:37
3. Joshua Fit the Battle of Jerico (trad./arr.Hawkins) 14:00
4. Just You, Just Me (Greer/Klages) 07:04
5. Rifftide (Hawkins) 05:53
6. The Man I Love (Gershwin) 02:42
7. Body and Soul (Green) 03:33
8. Bean and the Boys (Hawkins) 08:06

Coleman Hawkins Sax (Tenor)
Roy Eldridge Trumpet
Ray Bryant Piano
Tommy Bryant Bass
Oliver Jackson Drums

Recorded at Newport Jazz Festival, on July 3, 1959

Coleman Hawkins Sax (Tenor)
Roy Eldridge Trumpet
Tommy Flanagan Piano (5-8)
Ahmed Abdul-Malik Bass (5-8)
Jo Jones Drums (5-8)

Recorded ca. 1960

Pat Moran - The Pat Moran Quartet

I usually pick up Bethlehem releases when I come across them, but a recent exposure to Mel Torme shook me from my innocence: I still get the fantods when I think about it. This was unfamiliar but seeing an equal number of women and men was promising. As soon as the first track started I was thinking "This ain't for me", although there are many here who enjoy this kind of thing. Before the track was over, though, I was enjoying the pianist, and a little research showed uncredited background players to include Oscar Pettiford, Anthony Ortega, and Sam Most. My faith in Bethlehem is restored.

Pat Moran led an unusual quartet for a time in the 1950s, consisting of three instrumentalists (Moran on piano, bassist John Doling, and drummer John Whited) who also sang, plus a fourth vocalist, Beverly Kelly. They only made two records for Bethlehem (as well as adding backing vocals to Mel Tormé's Songs for Any Taste) before disbanding, but both of them are included in this two-CD set reissued in 1992. On disc one, which was originally issued as The Pat Moran Quartet, the group varies their routine, interspersing instrumentals with tightly arranged group vocals or Kelly as the sole singer, never failing to swing and showcasing the leader's strong chops on the keyboard. Though some of the group vocal arrangements seem like a throwback to groups of a decade earlier, the harmonies are always right on the mark and enjoyable. There are some surprises on the second half of this reissue. "It Never Entered My Mind" seems like an obvious candidate for their group vocals, but Moran tackles it as a dramatic piano solo instead. The quartet is augmented by six additional musicians on half of the numbers from disc two (all first issued as While at Birdland), though none of them are credited anywhere in the liner notes or on the CD tray card. Nat Pierce conducts the expanded band with bassist Oscar Pettiford, flutist Sam Most, trumpeter Burt Collins, trombonist Earl Swope, and alto saxophonists Anthony Ortega and Dick Meldonian. Some of these numbers are a bit uneven, though the lightly swinging take of "Just Squeeze Me" works well. Unavailable since Evidence quit its distribution of Bethlehem reissues, this set is well worth picking up. ~ Ken Dryden

Pat Moran (piano, vocal)
Bev Kelly (vocal)
John Doling (bass, vocal)
John Whited (drums, vocal)
Burt Collins (trumpet)
Earl Swope (trombone)
Sam Most (flute)
Dick Meldonian (alto sax)
Anthony Ortega (alto sax)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)

CD 1
1. This Can't Be Love
2. Foggy Day
3. What a Diff'rence A Day Makes
4. Have You Met Miss Jones?
5. I Should Care
6. Gone With The Wind
7. Somebody Loves Me
8. Best Things In Life Are Free
9. Sunday Kind Of Love
10. Medley: Spring Is Here/It Might As Well Be Spring
11. Two Sleepy People
12. Pick Yourself Up

CD 2
1. Thou Swell
2. Have You Met Miss Jones?
3. Lover Man
4. Jordu
5. It Never Entered My Mind
6. Come Rain Or Come Shine
7. I'll Be Around
8. Just Squeeze Me (But Don't Tease Me)
9. I Can't Get Started
10. Lullaby Of The Leaves
11. I'll Remember April
12. Mother Macree

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Boyd Raeburn - Rhythms by Raeburn (1945)

After the positive comments on the Raeburn posts and Scoredaddy's David Allyn LP, let's add some rare broadcast recordings to the mix.

The sessions on this LP are taken from remotes at the Rose Room of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco between June 19 and August 7, 1945 and released by Aircheck Records in 1977.

George Handy and Hal McKusick had left the band the previous year, apparently because they didn't like solos that were written for Al Cohn going to Johnny Bothwell, who had stars in his eyes. And it was Bothwell who had Al Cohn fired from the band and replaced with Frank Socolow. Sometime between the first two sessions on this disc, Bothwell had an on-stage flare-up with Lenny Green, the other alto, and left the band taking singer Claire Hogan, who had just replaced Margie Wood, with him. To replace Bothwell, Raeburn called Hal McKusick, who was living in L.A., and McKusick talked Boyd into also bringing back George Handy who was playing with McKusick at the time (Raeburn's current pianist had cut his hand and returned to New York). And Claire Hogan was replaced with Barbara Cox (billed as Barbara Jane), who was married to the band's male vocalist, David Allyn. The big band scene of the forties could be a real soap opera at times! (Has anything in the music biz changed?)

There are some incredibly progressive arrangements for the time on these live broadcasts and I can just see the audience at the end of the songs with their mouths agape and wondering if they should clap.

Tommy Allison, Carl Berg, Alan Jeffreys, Dale Pierce (trumpet)
Johnny Mandel, Rodney Roberts, Jack Carmen (trombone)
Johnny Bothwell, Hal McKusick, Leonard Green (alto sax)
Frank Socolow, Stuart Anderson (tenor sax)
Hy Mandel (baritone sax)
Boyd Raeburn (bass sax)
Ike Carpenter ?, George Handy (piano)
Steve Jordan ? (guitar)
Joe Berisce (bass)
Irv Kluger (drums)
David Allyn, Margie Wood, Barbara Cox (vocals)
  1. Theme
  2. There Must Be a Way
  3. A Night in Tunisia
  4. He's Home for a Little While
  5. Boyd Meets Girl
  6. If I Loved You
  7. The Hep Boyd
  8. I'll Always Be in Love With You
  9. Theme
  10. Out of This World
  11. Bagdad
  12. Stranger in Town
  13. There's No You
  14. Who Started Love?
  15. How Deep Is the Ocean?
  16. Blue Moon

Jaki Byard

Jaki Byard - Here's Jaki

With 24-year-old, metro Detroit bassist Ron Carter and fellow Bostonian, veteran drummer Roy Haynes, pianist Byard has formed a partnership on this recording that effectively grasps modern jazz. This is no standard trio; they're a collective who romps through these seven selections with a surprise or more a minute. It's mainly due to Byard's refusal to sit still. Penning five of these not-so-easy pieces, Byard digs into a 5/4 modal calypso, rippling off minor incursions or stair-step delicate lines for the long jam "Cinco y Quatro." Part of an incomplete suite, "Mellow Septet" is an easy swinging blues much like "Freddie Freeloader," with Byard rambling in mid-section. He switches from Erroll Garner, elfish lines to a Fats Waller-type stride on "Garnerin' a Bit," replete with Carter's deep blue bass and Haynes' precision-stroked brushes. Of course, Byard loves to reharmonize and reinvent standards. "Giant Steps" is taken at half-tempo from the original, but the melody itself has twice as many notes, especially in the blizzard-like coda. A combo "Bess, You Is My Woman/It Ain't Necessarily So" starts with ruminating tom toms which introduce "Bess" as a sinister mistress, then depict her as an elegant sophisticate in ballad form. Haynes is knocked out by the woman, breaking out in bomb-like bursts twice during "So," and he is the fuse for a free-burning ending. Sometimes it seems as if these three are restrained, holding back the all-out power they possess. Shackles tossed aside, they can get it done like few other trios, and were they a working band during the next few decades, it would have been glorious to hear where they would take this format. "Here's Jaki" is a tip of the iceberg. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Jaki Byard (piano)
Ron Carter (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)

1. Cinco y Quatro
2. Mellow Septet
3. Garnerin' A Bit
4. Giant Steps
5. Bess, You Is My Woman/It Ain't Necessarily So
6. To My Wife
7. D.D.L.J.

Jaki Byard - Sunshine Of My Soul

" A strong-voiced trio that sounds like no other group. Izenson's unusual take on jazz bass is a key element, as is - inevitably - Elvin's patented polyrhythmic approach, but it's Byard who stars on this recently re-issued set, stamping his considerable authority on 'St Louis Blues' as well as on a number of thoughtful originals. The transfers are expertly done and the record adds another important date to the Byard discography. " ~ Penguin Guide

In 1967, Jaki Byard turned 45. At that age, some musicians are very set in their ways -- they have a niche, cater to it, and stick with whatever it is they do best. But Byard wasn't becoming complacent; the restless pianist was continuing to experiment and take chances, which is exactly what he does on Sunshine of My Soul. Recorded on Halloween 1967, this unpredictable post-bop/avant-garde effort finds Byard being influenced by a wide variety of pianists. One minute, his lyricism is acknowledging Erroll Garner and Dave Brubeck -- the next minute, he takes it outside and shows his appreciation of Cecil Taylor's free jazz. McCoy Tyner is an influence on original pieces like "Sunshine" and "Cast Away," while W.C. Handy's often-recorded "St. Louis Blues" (the only tune on the album that Byard didn't write) becomes an unlikely mixture of free jazz and stride -- sort of Taylor by way of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. Taylor's influence is especially strong on the very stream-of-consciousness "Trendsition Zildjian," which is among the most abstract pieces that Byard has recorded. And whoever might be influencing Byard at a particular moment -- Taylor, Brubeck, Tyner, Garner, Bud Powell, or someone else -- the Bostonian always sounds like himself. Of course, a musician who is that broad-minded and eclectic needs musicians who are capable of keeping up with him and, thankfully, Byard has that in drummer Elvin Jones and bassist David Izenzon (known for his work with Ornette Coleman in the 1960s). Neither of them have a problem keeping up with Byard on this superb Prestige date, which Fantasy reissued on CD in 2001 under its Original Jazz Classics imprint. ~ Alex Henderson

Jaki Byard (piano, guitar)
David Izenzon (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Sunshine
2. Cast Away
3. Chandra
4. St. Louis Blues
5. Diane's Melody
6. Trendsition Zildjian

Rabih Abou-Khalil - The Cactus Of Knowledge

Rabih Abou-Khalil is a perverse musician. He has taken the oud, a traditional Arabian lute, and crafted with its help a body of music for which it was never intended. He handles his instrument as if it were an acoustic jazz guitar and assembles, from album to album, a fresh gathering of unexpected players. The results are scrumptiously delicious.

Abou-Khalil is a prolific recording artist and not all of his albums offer similar heights of perverse pleasures. Mostly, Abou-Khalil offers a blend of traditional Arab soundscapes and post-bop grooves. His sound casts a splendid spell. Occasionally, though, Abou-Khalil will stretch his bent for strange fusions towards yet more unlikely juxtapositions. These are the times his music most enchants me.

Perhaps his most accomplished in this vein are Odd Times, a live concert evoking the marching band music of John Philip Sousa (with a rousing performance by Howard Levy on harmonica), and the superb Arabian Waltz, which paired Abou-Khalil's core band with the Balanescu String Quartet and created musical epics that seamlessly combined avant-garde neoclassical with jazz rhythms and the storytelling sweep of the maqam. For his twelfth release, The Cactus of Knowledge, Abou-Khalil has decided to revisit big band jazz with, among others, a host of brass players, including Eddie Allen and Dave Ballou on trumpet, Tom Varner on French horn, Dave Bargeron on euphonium, Michel Godard on tuba, Antonio Hart on alto sax and Ellery Eskelin on tenor sax. Also in on the fun are Gabriele Mirabassi on clarinet, Vincent Courtois on cello, Nabil Khaiat on frame drums and Jarrod Cagwin on drums.

Despite the explicit evocation of a past musical idiom, all the compositions here are Abou-Khalil's own. This time, the fusion is not as radically different from his habitual output as on Odd Times and Arabian Waltz, but it is nevertheless an album filled with an infectious love of music. The performances are exuberant and listeners are treated to a swinging time.

A particular highlight is "Ma Muse M'amuse," with Vincent Courtois' cello in prominent display. The piece moves from big band boisterousness to Arabian flavor of the maqam, peppered with Courtois' wistful evocations of Depression-era Americana and chaotic explosions of avant-garde improvisations. Impressively, showcasing Abou-Khalil's virtuoso skills at composition and arrangement, these disparate references unite to form an integrated musical whole.

The Cactus of Knowledge may not be one of Abou-Khalil's crowning efforts, but it's a fine album, another undeniable testament to the breadth of his musical interests. Like all of Abou-Khalil's music, it ignores and transgresses political, ethnic and geographical boundaries to celebrate a global music that embraces differences by letting them play together. ~ Claude Lalumière

Rabih Abou-Khalil (oud)
Antonio Hart (alto sax)
Ellery Eskelin (tenor sax)
Eddie Allen (trumpet)
Dave Ballou (trumpet)
Tom Varner (French horn)
Michel Godard (tuba)
Dave Bargeron (euphonium)
Michel Godard (tuba)

1. The Lewinsky March
2. Business As Usual
3. Fraises et Crème Fraiche
4. Go To Go Home
5. Oum Said
6. Maltese Chicken Farm
7. Ma Muse M'amuse
8. Pont Neuf

Red Rodney - Red Alert! (1990)

The music on Red Alert is like listening to two radically different CDs - sort of a Jekyll and Hyde effect. Half of the tunes are in the classic bop style that Rodney is noted for and the other half are 1990's pop-schlop-rap-pap throwaways. But it was worth the price for the six good tracks that are thankfully also the longest. Also of note is the fine playing of then 19-year old Chris Potter.

There are some excellent moments on this outing from the Red Rodney Quintet, but the overall results are a bit of a mixed bag. The band (trumpeter Rodney, Chris Potter on tenor, alto and soprano, pianist David Kikoski, bassist Chip Jackson and drummer Jimmy Madison) is excellent, swinging on some pieces, but several numbers utilize the synthesizers of Bob Belden, and there is a rap on "Moose the Mooche." It is a bit of a schizophrenic session, with the music attempting to cover all bases but probably not completely satisfying anyone. - Scott Yanow

Red Rodney (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Chris Potter (soprano, alto, tenor sax)
David Kikoski (piano)
Chip Jackson (bass)
Jimmy Madison (drums)
Bob Belden (synth, piano)
Charles "White Lightning" Telerant (rap on 12)
  1. In Case of Fire
  2. Sweet Soul
  3. Hope
  4. Island Girl
  5. Little Willie Leaps
  6. Helene
  7. One for Didi
  8. Droppin' Science
  9. Valhalla
  10. Tiffany
  11. Blue Times
  12. Moose the Mooch

David Allyn - Sings Jerome Kern: A Sure Thing (LP Rip/1957)

One of the most highly-regarded vocal LP’s never to be issued on CD is this superb work by a virtually unknown, yet excellent singer by the name of David Allyn. David Allyn is a vocalist who performed and recorded with Jack Teagarden's big band in the early '40s. He worked with Boyd Raeburn's orchestra during the mid-'40s, and also headed combo sessions with a group that included Lucky Thompson. Allyn later worked with Paul Smith, Johnny Mandel, Stan Kenton and Count Basie. Allyn worked in clubs during the '60s, but then his music career took a back seat to his work on behalf of drug addicts until the mid-'70s, when he returned on a duo album with pianist Barry Harris. He did other albums in the mid-'70s and early '80s in Los Angeles. His career started back near the time Frank Sinatra began. He was the boy vocalist with Jack Teagarden and Boyd Raeburn around the time Frank Sinatra was singing with Dorsey.

His 2005 autobiography, "There ain't no such word as can't," is highly recommended. In it, Allyn tells a very open and honest account of some of the problems he has encountered in the music business. He often was his own worst enemy and never was lucky enough to hook up with the kind of management that could have promoted his career to its full potential.Allyn was seriously wounded in Africa in World War II and this led to drug addiction fueled by his medication. Contrary to that version, some say that Allyn's drug problems were not related to his service and war injuries suffered in the North African campaign in 1943 but were related to the working environment and culture of singing for a band and being on the road for long stretches of time.
Allyn describes his band mates as being of two ilks, those who experimented with drugs and those who didn't. Alas, he did. He finally kicked the habit by doing hard time in first Sing Sing, and then Dennamora prisons in NY in the 1950s. Later, he writes, after doing time in Sing Sing Prison for drugs, he became a prominent drug counselor in New York and continued singing. “As far as I know, he's been straight for 40 years or more,” remarked Allyn.

Sinatra later got him work at the Sands Lounge. They had known each other as far back as their early struggling days. With the drug problems and other personal issues, his career never grew in proportion to his talent and musicianship. Many of those years, his singing took a back seat to his work on behalf of drug addicts. He guested on Steve Allen's TV Show and other programs including Johnny Carson in the 50's and 60's.

In the 1950's, '60's, 70's and early '80's, he made about seven LP's including an album of Jerome Kern songs, "A Sure Thing," arranged and conducted by Johnny Mandel. When he made that classic album, he was on parole and working in a gas station. I believe it was his first LP. It includes the definitive version of "The Folks Who Live on the Hill."

As far as I know, all of his albums are out of print, which is a shame. One of his albums was listed as being produced by Tony Curtis with liner notes by Sammy Davis Jr, and includes a wonderful "Penthouse Serenade." In the 60's he also sang with the Basie Band. Later in the late '90's, he was still working, sang with a big band in Spain. I've read that he still had great pipes. Amazing. He lives now in New Rochelle, New York.

Allyn is one of a special, select group of singers, an original. He cut some 78’s in his big band days before the long playing record. Since the birth of the LP however I believe Allyn has only cut some seven albums. They include:"A Sure Thing", David Allen sings Jerome Kern"Let's Face the Music and Dance""Yours Sincerely""I Only Have Eyes for You""This is my Lucky Day""In the Blue of Evening""Don't Look Back""Soft as Spring."

The first six albums have never been released on CD by the various companies that produced them though there was a Japanese reissue of "Don't Look Back". Only "Soft as Spring" has been released on CD by the company that produced it, Audiophile. The other six albums are quite simply “must-have” albums and I will never understand an industry that will reissue a Robert Mitchum sings Calypso album yet ignore the artistry of an Allyn.

One of Allyn's claims to fame is that he was recorded in six different decades, from the 1940s through the 1990’s though his recorded output is much smaller than most other singers covering that long a period of time. At different times in his life he resorted to other ways of making a living and as explained above, Allyn was a very successful drug counselor. Would that there was more recorded material by this special singer.

His first album, the Jerome Kern album, was on World Pacific, at that time a major jazz oriented label, arranged and conducted by Johnny Mandel. It was an artistic success, heavily reviewed and while not a chart buster, it was a commercial success as well, got good radio airplay, remaining in print for at least a decade. However, he was pumping gas at the time he made it and not much happened to advance his career as time wore on.

David Allyn Sings Jerome Kern, A Sure Thing was reissued by Discovery Records in 1984. It is from that issue that this LP rip was produced. I hope you enjoy this classic.

1. Sure Thing
2. Dearly Beloved
3. I'm Old Fashioned
4. Lovely To Look At
5. The Way You Look Tonight
6. The Folks Who Live On The Hill
7. Long Ago And Far Away
8. I've Told Every Little Star
9. All In Fun
10. In Love In Vain

Orchestra arranged & conducted by Johnny Mandel
Recorded in Hollywood, CA in 1957

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sabu Martinez - Jazz Espagnole

Perhaps the greatest album that percussionist Sabu Martinez ever issued is also one of the greatest Latin jazz albums in history. The wild thing is, it isn't really a Sabu date, despite his name listed as the bandleader on the LP. Jazz Espagnole was really Frankie Malangre's band. He was generous enough toward his bandmates to allow producer Al Santiago to allow them to record with Sabu (who had just come to New York from California and did not have his own band yet), who recorded the band's repertoire pretty much as a sideman on this 1960 date! In any case, what sets Jazz Espagnole apart from virtually every other Latin jazz date is that this music is neither a Latin jazz album in that Latin rhythms are superimposed over standard jazz arrangements or a jazz-Latin album whose arrangements are subservient to Latin rhythms. All 11 cuts are stomping, moving, steaming, and grooving sambas, descargas, Afros, boleros, cha chas, mambos, sons, etc. The jazz improvising that does take place is authentic, grooving harmonic interplay based on -- not against -- the rhythmic considerations and fugue figures. Led by the percussion section of Martinez, Louie Ramirez, and Ernie Newsum, trumpeter Martry Sheller, saxophonist Bobby Porcelli, pianist Arty Jenkins, and bassist Billy Salter tear through a selection that can deemed erroneously to be salsa, but is actually a magnificent Latin and jazz fusion of the highest order. Most notable tracks are "Delilah," "Otra Vez" with its 12/16 meter, "I Remember Carmen" with its burning alto solos, and "Nica's Dream" with its nocturnal, steamy rhythm built on a small bop figure from the Sonny Stitt book. This is the one. ~ Thom Jurek

Sabu Martinez (conga)
Marty Sheller (trumpet)
Artie Jenkins (piano)
Bobby Porcelli (alto sax)
Bill Salter (bass)
Louie Ramirez (percussion)

1. Intro
2. The Oracle
3. I Remember Carmen
4. Delilah
5. Breakin' It In
6. Flippin'
7. Otra Vez
8. Flamenco Ain't Bad
9. Woody 'N You
10. Enchantment
11. Nica's Dream
12. Coda

Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers (1975)

Haven't seen any Zoot for awhile and although I seem to remember this one being posted at some point in time, it's not showing up in the archives. Maybe at C&D?

Along with his album with Count Basie (Basie and Zoot) during the same period, this is one of Sims' most exciting recordings of his career. Greatly assisted by pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Grady Tate, he explores ten songs written by George and Ira Gershwin. Somehow the magic was definitely present and, whether it be stomps such as "The Man I Love," "Lady Be Good," and "I Got Rhythm" or warm ballads (including "I've Got a Crush on You" and "Embraceable You"), Zoot Sims is heard at the peak of his powers. A true gem. - Scott Yanow

Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Oscar Peterson (piano)
Joe Pass (guitar)
George Mraz (bass)
Grady Tate (drums)
  1. The Man I Love
  2. How Long Has This Been Going On
  3. Lady Be Good
  4. I've Got a Crush on You
  5. I Got Rhythm
  6. Embraceable You
  7. 'S Wonderful
  8. Someone to Watch Over Me
  9. Isn't It a Pity
  10. Summertime
  11. They Can't Take That Away from Me
Recorded June 6, 1975

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sabu - Palo Congo

Many fans of this album regard it as an Arsenio Rodriguez session; he is excellent throughout.

Sabu Martinez's debut as a leader mostly features percussionists (other than bassist Evaristo Baro), including the leader, Arsenio Rodriguez (who doubles on the tres), Cesar Travieso, Quique Travieso, and Ray "Mosquito" Romero. Martinez, Rodriguez, and Travieso also join Willie Capo and Sarah Baro in singing and chanting. Six of the eight songs are Martinez's originals, although the most memorable cut is the opening "El Cumbanchero," which has a catchy melody and a Martinez vocal that in tone sounds surprisingly like Cab Calloway in spots. Intriguing African-oriented music. ~ Scott Yanow

Sabu Martinez (vocals, bongos, congas)
Arsenio Rodriguez (vocals, guitar, congas)
Raul "Caesar" Travieso (vocals, congas)
Willie Capo, Sarah Bobo (vocals)
Evaristo Baro (bass)
Israel Moises (congas)
"Quique" Travieso (congas)
Ray "Mosquito" Romero (congas)

1. El Cumbanchero
2. Billumba-Palo Congo
3. Choferito-Plena
4. Asabache
5. Simba
6. Rhapsodia Del Maravilloso
7. Aggo Elegua
8. Tribilin Cantore

Manhattan Towers, New York: April 28, 1957

Johnny Griffin - The Kerry Dancers (VICJ)

In Japan-O-Phonic VibroSound©

The difference between VICJ and TOCJ? One is Victor, the other Toshiba. I haven't looked closely, but I would not be surprised if the same sound labs handled both. N.B. the term 'gringo' supposedly came from the Mexican troops hearing American soldiers singing 'Green Grow The Rushes' so often during their Revolution Lite©. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Griffin has always been interested in folk themes. Like Stan Getz, he favours the Scandinavian lullaby 'Hush-A-Bye', which figures here alongside some old British and Appalachian themes: 'The Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)', 'Green Grow The Rushes' and 'Black Is The Colour Of My True Love's Hair' as well as original themes like '25 1/2 Daze' and'Oh, Now I See'. He's in spanking form, wherever the material comes from, and some of his solos here rank with his very best for pace, logic and control. There's also warmth and humour in his playing, which is a nice relief from the headlong stuff that used to be demanded of him. ~ Penguin Guide

Many straight-ahead bop musicians would never consider recording traditional folk songs from the British Isles, but that's exactly what Johnny Griffin does on The Kerry Dancers and Other Swinging Folk -- and this Orrin Keepnews-produced album just happens to be one of his best releases of the 1960s. Joined by pianist Barry Harris, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Ben Riley, the big-toned Chicago tenor man turns his attention to four traditional folk melodies: "The Londonderry Air" (also known as "Danny Boy"), "Green Grow the Rushes" (a Scottish favorite), "The Kerry Dancers" (an Irish piece), and "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair" -- all of which work perfectly well in an acoustic jazz setting. Not everything on this album (which was recorded in late 1961 and early 1962) is a folk song from the British Isles; the other half of the album ranges from Griffin's moody "Oh, Now I See" to the John Coltrane-influenced "25 1/2 Daze." On Riverside's original LP version of this album, Griffin's bop interpretations of folk songs were confined to side one -- while the other material was placed on side two. But when Fantasy reissued this album on CD in 2001 on its Original Jazz Classics imprint, there was no interruption between the folk and non-folk material -- you no longer had to get up and turn the record over. And that's just as well, because Griffin brings a jazz mentality to everything on the album; he is as hard-swinging and improvisatory on "The Londonderry Air" as he is on "25 1/2 Daze" and "Oh, Now I See." The Kerry Dancers and Other Swinging Folk is among the many Griffin releases that the Chicagoan can be proud of. ~ Alex Henderson

Johnny Griffin (tenor sax)
Barry Harris (piano)
Ron Carter (bass)
Ben Riley (drums)

1. The Kerry Dancers
2. Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair
3. Green Grow The Rushes
4. The Londonberry Air
5. 25 1/2 Daze
6. Oh, Now I See
7. Hush-A-Bye
8. Ballad For Monsieur

Reeves Sound Studios, New York: December 21, 1961 and January 5 and 29, 1962

Boyd Raeburn - Boyd Meets Stravinsky

There was a big flirtation with melding jazz with "classical' music. Which is to say, America being a unquestioning Caucasian society at this time, the definition of high culture was assumed to be European. But from todays vantage point, some of this has been filtered through what people like Carl Stalling did with high culture: which is why the "Over The Rainbow" featured here reminds me more of Bugs Bunny than Yip Harburg. Fortunately, I have a long standing appreciation of the work of Messrs. Stalling, Harburg, and Bunny.

This is one of those looking through the wrong end of the telescope situations. I'll have to try to set aside my knowledge of what came after this kind of musical attempt to get an unbiased idea of what this was like. I owe that much to Messrs. Raeburn and Myself.

"As a listener who previously thought that "progressive jazz" applied only to the experimental sound of the Stan Kenton band of the 1940's, this album came as startling revelation. Compared to Boyd Raeburn's sometimes "outrageous" harmonic/orchestral innovations, the Kenton band sounds closer to Lawrence Welk. At the same time, the arrangements, however singular or surprising they might be, are accessible and attention-holding, at least to a musician's ears.

From the dyslexically-titled "Davatore Sally," a 1946 recording employing french horn, English horn, flute and harp, to the tunes once assumed to be "standards" ("I Only Have Eyes," "Over the Rainbow," "Body and Soul"), Boyd serves up surprises at a head-spinning rate (credit the compression required of the 78 rpm format for much of the rapid-fire inventiveness). Perhaps most fun of all are the vocals, since the primary challenge to the vocalist is maintaining his or her sanity, let alone any sense of melodic line, above the violent orchestral upheavals in the accompaniment. And finally, this is the first recording that has enabled me to understand why Dodo Marmarosa, one of jazz' most enigmatic and elusive figures, was once regarded as among the best pianists in the history of jazz.

Certainly not a "commercial" recording, neither is the music on this disc necessarily "far out." If anything, it's "inside" music for those sufficiently serious about the "play" of musical language to have fun with it." - Samuel "Wisconsin Devil" Chell

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Dodo Marmarosa (piano)
Trummy Young, Johnny Mandel (trombone)
Benny Harris (trumpet)
Serge Chaloff (baritone sax)
Al Cohn (tenor sax)
Hal McKusick (alto sax)
Shelly Manne (drums)
George Handy (arrangements)
Many others

1. Boyd Meets Stravinsky
2. Temptation
3. Dalvatore Sally
4. I Only Have Eyes For You
5. Over The Rainbow
6. Body And Soul
7. Interlude (Night In Tunisia)
8. Summertime
9. March Of The Boyds
10. Blue Prelude
11. Boyd's Nest
12. You've Got Me Crying Again
13. Hep Boyds
14. Rip Van Winkle

Boyd Raeburn - Experiments In Big Band Jazz (1945)

Although the Boyd Raeburn Orchestra appeared on earlier radio airchecks, transcriptions and a vocal date featuring Don Darcy, its Musicraft sides were its first real studio recordings. The 1945 edition of the big band was swing-oriented and sometimes showed the influence of Count Basie. Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie guests on "A Night in Tunisia" and "March of the Boyds" and the other key soloists include altoist Johnny Bothwell (a great lover of the sound of Johnny Hodges), tenor saxophonist Frankie Socolow, trumpeter Tommy Allison and (on "Boyd's Nest") trombonist Trummy Young. The arrangements (mostly by Eddie Finckel, George Williams and Johnny Mandel) are generally colorful, making this somewhat historic set of interest to swing and bop fans alike. - Scott Yanow

The Boyd Raeburn band was the first group to record Dizzy's "Night In Tunisia" in January of '45. Diz sold his arrangement to Raeburn for $50 and even sat in with the band for the recording! On the first eight selections the band included Benny Harris, Hal McKusick, Al Cohn, Serge Chaloff, Oscar Pettiford and Shelly Manne.

Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy Allison (trumpet)
Trummy Young (trombone)
Johnny Bothwell (alto sax)
Frank Socolow, Joe Megro (tenor sax)
Don Darcy, Marjorie Woods (vocals)
  1. Night in Tunisia
  2. March of the Boyds
  3. I Didn't Know About You
  4. Summertime
  5. A Prisoner of Love
  6. I Wanna Get Married
  7. I Promise You
  8. This Heart of Mine
  9. You've Got Me Crying Again
  10. Out of Nowhere
  11. Boyd's Nest
  12. Blue Prelude

VIDEO: Richard Galliano & Wynton Marsalis

An interesting concert from the 2008 Jazz in Marciac Festival here in France. With Walter Blanding on tenor, Dan Nimmer at the piano, Carlos Henriquez on bass and Ali Jackson on drums. The set was titled, "Billie Holiday Meets Edith Piaf".

Monday, March 23, 2009

Joe Henderson - Sextet & Quartet

Here's a boot by Joe Henderson - it was one of my first discs of his, if not the very first. A bit on the short side, but not bad at all!

1. In a Modal Way (35:00)
Jimmy Owens (t), Joe Henderson (ts), Gary Burton (vib), Cedar Walton (p), Larry Ridley (b), Roy Haynes (d)
Belgrade, November 6, 1973

2. O Amor em Paz (5:32)
Joe Henderson (ts), Kenny Barron (p), Ron Carter (b), Louis Hayes (d)
New York, 1967

Ella Fitzgerald - 1949 (Chronological 1153)

In her live performances of 1949, Ella Fitzgerald (who turned 33 that year) often showed the influence of bebop in her phrasing and improvising. However, her studio recordings for Decca (all 21 selections that she cut that year on are on this CD) are surprisingly absent of bebop, instead alternating ballads and bluish pieces with a few swing-oriented numbers. Fitzgerald sounds typically wonderful and cheerful, but the arrangements (for the orchestras of Sy Oliver, Goron Jenkins, and Sonny Burke) are often closer to middle-of-the-road pop music than to jazz. Fitzgerald sounds in fine form on such numbers as "Old Mother Hubbard," "Happy Talk," "Black Coffee," "In the Evening," and "I Hadn't Anyone Till You," imitating Louis Armstrong a bit on "Basin Street Blues." In addition, there are two numbers with Louis Jordan's Tympany Five (including "Baby It's Cold Outside") and two forgettable selections with the Mills Brothers. This CD is a real gap-filler (few of these selections are ever reissued), but not essential. ~ Scott Yanow

Ella Fitzgerald (vocal)
The Mills Brothers (vocals)
Louis Jordan (vocal, alto sax)
Bill Doggett (piano)
Billy Kyle (piano)

1. I Couldn't Stay Away From You
2. Old Mother Hubbard
3. Someone Like You
4. Happy Talk
5. I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair
6. Black Coffee
7. Lover's Gold
8. Baby, It's Cold Outside
9. Don't Cry, Cry Baby
10. Crying
11. New Shade Of Blues
12. In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down)
13. Talk Fast My Heart, Talk Fast
14. I'm Waitin' For The Junkman
15. Basin Street Blues
16. I Hadn't Anyone Till You
17. Dream A Little Longer
18. Foolish Tears
19. Man Wrote A Song
20. Fairy Tales
21. I Gotta Have My Baby Back

Ella Fitzgerald - On the Air: The Complete 1940 Broadcasts (Masters Of Jazz)

Chick Webb had died, at the age of 34, less than a year before, and Ella nominally led the band. By 1942 she would be out on her own, so these airchecks are a fine bit of documentation of what one of the top bands - top under-recorded bands - of the period sounded like. " There is excellent solo work from Taft Jordan, Sandy Williams and the unjustly neglected Ted McRae. The dancers and regulars at the Savoy and the Roseland certainly did not have much to complain about."

Now the notes have my hero Garvin Bushell playing with the band, but I just checked his memoirs and he claims to have left in '39. I tend to think the error is on Bushell's part, however.

Over two CDs, On the Air: The Complete 1940 Broadcasts captures a 21-year-old Ella Fitzgerald making waves with the Chick Webb Orchestra; included are ten previously unreleased tracks, making it a collector's delight. ~ Steve Huey

CD 1
1. Opening Theme: A-Tisket, A-Tasket
2. Traffic Jam
3. Lover Is Blue
4. Dodging the Dean
5. 'Tain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)
6. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)
7. Blue Lou
8. What's the Matter With Me?
9. I Want the Waiter (With the Water)
10. Let's Get Together
11. Opening Theme: A-Tisket, A-Tasket
12. Limehouse Blues
13. This Changing World
14. Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!
15. Diga Diga Doo
16. Thank Your Stars
17. Take It from the Top
18. Vagabond Dreams
19. Breakin' Down
20. Let's Get Together

CD 2
1. Opening Theme: A-Tisket, A-Tasket
2. Royal Garden Blues
3. Sing Song Swing
4. Sugar Blues
5. Make Believe
6. Sweet Sue, Just You
7. It's a Blue World
8. Is There Somebody Else?
9. One Moment Please
10. I Wanna Be a Rug Cutter
11. Opening Theme: A-Tisket, A-Tasket
12. I Got Rhythm
13. One Cigarette for Two
14. Chewin' Gum
15. Lover, Come Back to Me
16. Who Ya Hunchin'?
17. Starlit Hour
18. Sing Song Swing
19. Goin' and Gettin' It
20. Let's Get Together

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Anthony Braxton - 3 Compositions Of New Jazz

The dateline on Three Compositions Of New Jazz is significant. Braxton's first major statement - indeed, his recording debut as leader - came in the year of revolutions (or at least of revolutionary thinking throughout America and Europe) and openly declares itself as standing at the end of a played-out cultural tradition. Though he can expect to rake over the ashes of that tradition for some time, this is the critical historical moment which Braxton's music addresses. The disc contains three compositions of decreasing length, two by Braxton, one by Smith. As John Litweiler suggests in a useful biographical liner-note, the middle piece is the one in which the new language that Braxton, Smith and Abrams are articulating can most readily be accessed. The saxophonist still sounds hot and fierce, the disciple of Parker and Dolphy rather than of the cooler, whiter voices (Desmond, Marsh) he turned to in the '80s. All the same, these graduation exercises by the 1968 AACM show class. The loose, drummerless concept works well for all three, and the music, though still slightly raw, stands up well after 30-plus years. ~ Penguin Guide

The mid-'60s formation of Chicago's musician collective, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), proved a watershed event for jazz, providing a springboard for some of the next few decades' most influential performers, including the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Anthony Braxton. In many ways, Braxton's Three Compositions of New Jazz is that movement's manifesto. Seeking a new degree of abstraction and purity, Braxton opted to eschew drums or bass on these small group sessions, urging the musicians to concentrate on ensemble textures rather than tempo, forcing them to listen and interact without the support of steady, preconceived rhythms and melodies. The lineup, which includes pianist Muhal Richard Abrams on one side, and trumpeter Leo Smith and violinist Leroy Jenkins throughout, produces music that is at once organic and totally unlike the typical notion of a song or performance. Even Braxton's system of titling his work is radical: he assigns diagrams and numbers to each performance rather than a name. Braxton, who would become one of the most recorded composer/performers of the '70s and '80s, demonstrates a warmth of playing here that was often absent in his later albums. ~ Fred Goodman

Anthony Braxton (alto and soprano sax, clarinet, flute, accordian, other weird shit)
Muhal Richard Abrams (piano, cello, alto clarinet)
Leo Smith (trumpet, other w.s)
Leroy Jenkins (violin, viola, teabiscuit)

1. (840m) -Realize-44M-44M
2. N-M488-44M-Z *
3. Bell

Sound Studios, Chicago, Illinois: March 27 and April 4, 1968

Cecil Taylor - Jumpin' Punkins

" The 1961 recordings for Candid ... secure a final balance between Taylor's insistent unshackling of familiar organization and his interest in standard material." ~ Penguin Guide

Cecil Taylor was among the principal figures that knocked the jazz world on its collective ear in the late 1950s and early '60s. Along with the creative efforts of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Albert Ayler, Taylor tested, shocked, and ... Full Descriptionfinally revolutionized the jazz world with his spiky, percussive, unfettered approach to the piano and improvisation. With his sound informed by pre-bop eras of jazz (Monk, Ellington, even Dave Brubeck) as well as contemporary classical music, Taylor blazed new directions that influenced jazz--and beyond--for decades to come.

Jumpin' Punkins is a 1961 session previously available only in Japan, and captures Taylor with players that span the jazz spectrum. Where else can one hear Clark Terry, Steve Lacy, and Archie Shepp having a fine old time on classic gems like Duke Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" and the title tune? The feeling here is almost one of a jam session: loose-limbed, easy-going and tuneful--this is Taylor at his most accessible yet without a hint of compromise. "I Forgot" is the one Taylor original here, and it's a dark, harrowing "ballad" featuring some Ben Webster-ish playing from Shepp.

This single CD has some of the music formerly released on a limited-edition Cecil Taylor Mosaic box set. The two most intriguing performances are versions of Mercer Ellington's "Jumpin' Punkins" and "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" which feature the avant-garde pianist with trumpeter Clark Terry, trombonist Roswell Rudd, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, baritonist Charles Davis, tenor Archie Shepp, bassist Buell Neidlinger, and drummer Billy Higgins. Taylor's jarring comping behind the other soloists is quite interesting and somehow works. "O.P." and "I Forgot" feature Taylor with Neidlinger, drummer Dennis Charles, and (on the latter song) the young Archie Shepp. A good sampler of Cecil Taylor's marathon Candid sessions. ~ Scott Yanow

Cecil Taylor (piano)
Clark Terry (trumpet)
Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Archie Shepp (tenor sax)
Roswell Rudd (trombone)
Charles Davis (baritone sax)
Buell Neidlinger (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)
Denis Charles (drums)

1. Jumpin' Punkins (take 6)
2. O.P. (take 1)
3. I Forgot (take 1)
4. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (take 3)

Nola Penthouse Studios, New York: January 6 and 10, 1961

Sonny Boy Williamson - The Real Folk Blues and More Folk Blues

Because Rapidshare's rapiddoohickey ain't working, a number of these posts (Ayler, Machito, Prestige All Stars and others) you see today are re-postings of things that have been here for at least a year already. Check the older posts; you might be surprised at what's been upped here in the past. Like this 'un.

Goat, anyone?

The reviews aren't getting this right. I mean, they're saying plenty of facts, but they're not saying much about Sonny Boy. Maybe this is so familiar; maybe I've internalized these songs from many years of really diggin' him. I dunno. "She's a cute little girl. She's got such a wonderful mug." How do you beat that? And I'll be damned and argumentative if anybody tries to say that "Help Me" is not a perfectly realized song. How many of those do you ever come across? They're even rarer than a wonderful mug.

The biography of Sonny Boy Williamson is something of an enigma, even to ardent blues fans. Indeed, he isn't even the "real" Williamson; a shrewd businessman simply gave singer-mouth harpist Aleck "Rice" Miller the name after the 1948 murder of popular blues artist John Lee Williamson. Still, Miller/Williamson's remarkable career literally bridged Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton, both his music and life embodying a free-wheeling, hard-living lifestyle that became something of a rock and blues cliché. After considerable local radio success in the Delta, Miller/Williamson ended up at Chicago's Chess Records in the mid-1950s, where all but one of these two dozen tracks originated in the early '60s. But by the time Chess originally issued the first of these ill-timed collections (belatedly compiled to cash in on a waning '60s folk boom), Williamson was six months dead. Listen and it's not hard to hear why a generation or two of blues-smitten rockers held him especially dear, be it the Allmans (the original "One Way Out," with longtime partner Robert Lockwood Jr. supplying the familiar guitar licks) or Zeppelin (a lugubrious, boogied-up take of Willie Dixon's "Bring It On Home"). Punctuated by harp blasts that could turn from sharply staccato to lyrically wrenching, Williamson's leathery voice muses over his being "Too Young to Die" or "Too Old to Think" with the self-deprecating indifference that became a trademark. Though these tracks are the cream of his last years, they're more boozy celebration than elegy. --Jerry McCulley

Sonny Boy Williamson (vocals, harmonica)
Willie Dixon (vocals, bass)
Robert Lockwood, Jr. (guitar)
Luther Tucker (guitar)
Matt Murphy (guitar)
Eddie King (guitar)
Lafayette Leake (piano, organ)
Otis Spann (piano)

1. One Way Out
2. Too Young To Die
3. Trust My Baby
4. Checkin' Up On My Baby
5. Sad To Be Alone
6. Got To Move
7. Bring It On Home
8. Down Child
9. Peach Tree
10. Dissatisfied
11. That's All I Want
12. Too Old To Think
13. Help Me
14. Bye Bye Bird
15. Nine Below Zero
16. The Hunt
17. Stop Right Now
18. She's My Baby
19. The Goat
20. Decoration Day
21. Trying To Get Back On My Feet
22. My Younger Days
23. Close To Me
24. Somebody Help Me

Recorded between June 1960 and April 1964

Hank Mobley - Roll Call (TOCJ)

In Japanarific PolySound©

From the first moment when Art Blakey comes crashing in to establish a kinetic Latin groove on the eponymous opening song, Hank Mobley's Roll Call explodes with energy. The first horn heard here is actually Freddie Hubbard's trumpet, foreshadowing the prominent role that he would have in the sound of this album. The quintet all work together flawlessly here, but Hubbard particularly shines as he plays off of Mobley's fluid riffs and carries more than a few lines himself, sounding particularly athletic and effortless on the closing track, "The Breakdown." Mobley's performance throughout the recording is stylish without being restrained, and the strength of his songwriting shines on five of the album's six songs. A warm, laid-back, sweet version of "The More I See You" is also included, with a muted Hubbard sounding very much like Miles Davis. It is a nice complement to this collection of originals, which has often been overshadowed by Mobley's other late-'50s and early-'60s work but is definitely deserving of some attention of its own. ~ Stacia Proefrock

Hank Mobley (tenor sax)
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Art Blakey (drums)

1. Roll Call
2. My Groove Your Move
3. Take Your Pick
4. A Baptist Beat
5. The More I See You
6. The Breakdown

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: November 13, 1960

Saturday, March 21, 2009

David Murray - Tenors

As indicated by the title, David Murray sticks with the tenor saxophone on this date for the Japanese label DIW. Murray tackles five compositions written by Albert Ayler, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Billy Strayhorn, and John Coltrane with his usual combination of restrained intensity and innovation. Rounding out the quartet are pianist Dave Burrell, bassist Fred Hopkins, and drummer Ralph Peterson Jr., who provide a consistently fiery undertone without totally abandoning structure. Burrell's original "Over Time," a rag dedicated to the tradition of jazz saxophones and adapted from a theme by Punaluu Peter, is a highlight and fits in with the overall theme of the session. As with most of Murray's recordings for DIW, Tenors is worth picking up despite the inflated import price tag. ~ Al Campbell

David Murray (tenor sax)
Dave Burrell (piano)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Ralph Peterson, Jr. (drums)

1. Equinox
2. Ghosts
3. Over Time
4. Perfection
5. Chelsea Bridge
6. St. Thomas

Recorded January 1988 at A&R Recording, New York

David Murray - Big Band Conducted by Lawrence "Butch" Morris

The David Murray big band, which can be undisciplined and even a bit out of control, is never dull. This generally brilliant effort has quite a few highpoints. "Paul Gonsalves" recreates the tenor's famous 1956 Newport Jazz Festival solo and has some heated playing from the ensemble. While "Lester" does not really capture the style of Lester Young, "Ben" does bring back the spirit of Ben Webster. "Calling Steve McCall" is a heartfelt tribute to the late drummer (although the poetry does not need to be heard twice) and trombonist Craig Harris' singing on "Let the Music Take You" is so-so, but the colorful "David's Tune" and the eerie "Istanbul" are more memorable. This disc is easily recommended to listeners with open ears. Scott Yanow

"Although Murray excelled with his octet, he had always dreamed of leading a big band. While he only managed to pull together a jazz orchestra a few times, the result was a band with all the sturdiness of his octet that produced a more expansive sound, beginning with 1985's Live at Sweet Basil, Vol. 1 and the following year's Live at Sweet Basil, Vol. 2. Representative of his most successful endeavors as a big band leader included 1992's David Murray Big Band Conducted by Lawrence "Butch" Morris and 1995's South of the Border."

Lawrence "Butch" Morris (conductor)
James Spaulding (alto sax, flute)
John Purcell (alto sax)
Graham Haynes , Hugh Ragin , James Zollar , Rasul Siddik (trumpet)
Kahlil Henry (flute, piccolo)
Don Byron (baritone sax, clarinet)
Patience Higgins (soprano, tenor sax)
Frank Lacy (trombone)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Tani Tabbal (drums)

1 Paul Gonzalves
2 Lester
3 Ben
4 Calling Steve McCall
5 Love Joy
6 Istanbul
7 David's Tune
8 Let The Music Take You

Recorded March 5-6, 1991 at Clinton Recording, NYC

Albert Ayler - The Hilversum Session

A good example of what I was describing in comments yesterday. I saw this yesterday, and although I never thought I'd need to buy any more Ayler, the recent ocservation that he's not seen around here much, and the presence of Cherry, which I thought would be an interesting foil to Ayler, had me holding it and hmmming a thoughtful hmmmm. Of course, the swanky (although unseen at the time,) free poster swayed me. And how do I know my judgement was the correct one? Thom Jurek© approves!

The Hilversum session by Albert Ayler is one of those legendary recordings in free jazz. It was recorded in a Netherlands radio studio in front of a small invited audience, at the end of the Ayler Quartet's European tour on November 9, 1964. The band-Ayler, Don Cherry, Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray-had been playing Ayler's tunes for months and were uncanny in their ability to hear one another and improvise together at that point. It was also the last time the group would record together under Ayler's name as a quartet and then went out at a peak. The recording itself remained unissed until 1980 when it appeared on an LP on the long defunct Osmosis label. It made a brief appearance on CD on the Coppens imprint before the most recent edition-and likely its final home on the ESP-Disc label (who have also acquired the rights to the Holy Ghost: Rare And Unissued Recordings, 1962-70 box set originally released by Revenant. Most of the tunes were, and remain fairly common Ayler creations "Ghosts," was recorded numerous times in 1964, and "Spirits" first appeared on Witches And Devils but appeared on a record with the same title; both appeared on Spiritual Unity; (the tune "C.A.C," is actually the original title for the cut "the Wizard," also from Spiritual Unity). According to the liner notes, the closing number "No Name" was added as a coda to the infamous "Bells" issued in 1965, and in its relatively melodic beauty reveals another dimension to the fierce but inspiring improvisation by this quartet who would take Ayler's skeletal melodies and move them to the margins of musical language itself. "Infant Happiness" by Cherry, is the only piece not authored by Ayler. It I The saxophonist kicks it off before he is joined by the trumpeter near the end of bar four in a knotty but wonderfully nursery rhyme-like melody that is reminiscent of the music Cherry had played with his former and future boss Ornette Coleman. This set is a defining moment, not just historically, but musically. The intense listening and interplay that goes on here is inspiring. Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray may have played better elsewhere, but they never played with the kind of deep communication they enjoyed together as a rhythm section and other front line players than they do here. Ayler is no longer striving to find the outer limits of spiritual expression in his music;, it's all on display here, and Cherry, the inveterate and outrageously talented listener/musician is in full bloom here, untethered as a soloist, yet, like the other three, remain an inextricable part of a BAND. These cats play together with the kind of intuition and foresight only a seasoned group can; they understand the nuances of the language they are speaking and know how to offer those to the listener emotionally, musically, and even culturally. Finally, as for the sound of the recording, it has never been better. The remastering job is excellent, providing excellent fidelity and balance-not always true on the ESP-Disc offerings in the past. Included in the package are fine liner notes by Russ Musto, and a neat poster of Ayler. If someone would take the same care with Ayler's Lörrach, Paris 1966, recordings (owned by Hat in Switzerland) and reissue those in this fashion, we have have a definitive recorded portrait of the great saxophonist. This is a welcome issue. ~ Thom Jurek©

Albert Ayler (tenor sax)
Don Cherry (cornet)
Gary Peacock (bass)
Sunny Murray (drums)

1. Angels
2. C.A.C.
3. Ghosts
4. Infant Happiness
5. Spirits
6. No Name

The Prestige All Stars - Three Trumpets

"The difference between Prestige and Blue Note is two days of rehearsal time." The quote is said by Richard Cookto be well known , but he doesn't attribute it; it rings true. The high caliber of artists signed to Prestige at this time assured that just about any leaderless date featuring members of their stable could justly be called an All Star date. The roster included at various times Art Farmer, Bill Evans, Kenny Burrell, Idrees Sulieman, Hal McKusick, Tommy Flanagan, and Mal Waldron. And, of course, the recording facilities and staff were exactly the same as Blue Note; these Prestige dates are consistently excellent and this release on the OJC Limited Edition series is especially welcome.

I re-posted some of the other sessions, and Art Farmer's Two Trumpets can be found in the older posts.

Art Farmer (trumpet)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
Hod O'Brien (piano)
Addison Farmer (bass)
Ed Thigpen (drums)

1. Palm Court Alley
2. Who's Who?
3. Diffusion Of Beauty
4. Forty Quarters
5. You Gotta Dig It To Dig It

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey: January 26, 1957

Stan Kenton Plays Bob Graettinger - City of Glass (1947-1953)

This CD contains the music from two 10" LPs - City of Glass and This Modern World.

The tragically short-lived, self-destructive Bob Graettinger could have been a matinee idol had he cared; some people who saw him on a Los Angeles bus one day mistook him for Elvis Presley. Instead, he devoted his last years to writing the most complex, atonal, uncompromising, potentially alienating music that even the iconoclastic Stan Kenton band ever played. This Modern World is Graettinger's reaction to the cold, driven, alien planet on which he lived, a natural sequel to the more famous City of Glass yet even more difficult and inward in expression. Comprised of six movements ("A Horn, Some Saxophones," "A Cello," "A Thought," "A Trumpet," and "An Orchestra"), This Modern World moves even further away from jazz into abstract contemporary classical music; undoubtedly, Mingus must have heard this music but it's almost impossible to name anything from which it derives. A jazz pulse occasionally surfaces but more often instruments drift in atonal clusters past each other in differing meters or blast dissonant fanfares, creating a feeling of unease as they converse quizzically. In our time, British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage's Blood on the Floor has picked up the torch where Graettinger left it upon his death in 1957, but it took 40 years, and it makes Kenton's decision to sponsor Graettinger's work seem all the more gutsy and courageous. The individual movements on this 10" LP can now be found on the City of Glass CD, along with the rest of Graettinger's small output. - Richard Ginell

To call this music shocking would be an understatement. Bob Graettinger was one of the most radical arrangers around in the 1950s and it is doubtful whether any other jazz big-band leader other than Stan Kenton would have ever employed him. His two major works, "City of Glass" and "This Modern World," are heard in their entirety on this LP and these atonal compositions still sound extremely advanced. A large string section is employed on the former while the latter features Maynard Ferguson's screaming trumpet on two of the six movements. These performances are intense, very dense and quite scary. Recommended for open-eared listeners. - Scott Yanow

Bob Graettinger was arguably the most radical arranger to ever work in jazz. In fact, it is doubtful if any other big-band leader other than Stan Kenton (who always encouraged adventurous writers) would have used his very complex charts during this era. Graettinger's works, which were influenced by aspects of modern classical music (but were not at all derivative) are all included on this fascinating, if difficult, CD reissue. The four-part "City of Glass," the pieces that comprised This Modern World, and a variety of shorter works (including the remarkably dense "Thermopylae") make for some very stimulating listening. This is avant-garde music that still sounds futuristic in the 21st century. - Scott Yanow

Buddy Childers, Maynard Ferguson, Shorty Rogers, Conte Candoli, others (trumpet)
Eddie Bert, Bob Fitzpatrick, Bill Russo, Frank Rosolino, Bob Burgess, others (trombone)
Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Lee Konitz, Bob Cooper, Lennie Niehaus, Richie Kamuca, Bill Holman, Vinnie Dean, others (woodwinds)
Stan Kenton (piano)
Laurindo Almeida, Ralph Blaze, Sal Salvador (guitar)
Eddie Safranski, Joe Mondragon, Don Bagley (bass)
Shelly Manne, Don Lamond, Frank Capp, Stan Levey (drums)
June Christy (vocals on 2)
French Horns, Strings, Percussion, Kitchen Sink

1. Thermopylae
2. Everything Happens to Me
3. Incident in Jazz
4. House of Strings
5. A Horn

City of Glass
6. First Movement (Part 1): Entrance Into the City
7. First Movement (Part 2): The Structures
8. Second Movement: Dance Before the Mirror
9. Third Movement: Reflections

10. Modern Opus
11. A Cello
12. You Go to My Head
13. A Trumpet
14. An Orchestra
15. A Thought
16. Some Saxophones

The Prestige All Stars - After Hours

When I first saw this in the store, the cover was familiar, but the title wasn't. It turns out that it is a black-and-white version of Kenny Burrell's All Night Long. This has also been released as Frank Wess/Kenny Burrell - Steamin'. This reissue is entitled "Thad Jones/Kenny Burrell/Frank Wess - After Hours," but is more like a Mal Waldron date. Mal composed the four tunes, and is a major presence throughout. If the cover looks familiar, it's because its a black and white version of the cover used on Kenny Burrell's "All Night Long"

"Although Thad Jones' name appears first on this CD reissue, pianist Mal Waldron is actually the session's main force. Waldron contributed all four selections (all of which are worthwhile, even if none caught on) and is a key soloist with the sextet, which also includes trumpeter Jones, Frank Wess on tenor and flute, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor. Fine straight-ahead music, very much in the modern mainstream of 1957." Scott Yanow

Thad Jones (trumpet)
Frank Wess (flute)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. Steamin'
2. Blue Jelly
3. Count One
4. Empty Street

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, June 21, 1957

Machito - Kenya

Frank Raul Grillo, also known as Machito, was the leader of The Afro-Cubans, a fiery definitive Latin-jazz big band. Not only did they sport a topnotch percussion section, featuring Candido Camero, Jose Mangual, and Uba Nieto, but they worked the arrangements of Mario Bauza, the father of modern Afro-Hispanic jazz in the U.S. This outstanding album, recorded in 1957, the same year that Tito Puente cut his historic Top Percussion sessions and Israel "Cachao" Lopez laid down his influential descargas. Named in honor the African country, Kenya, with pianist Rene Hernandez and A.K. Salim contributing compositions and arrangements, swings with the ancestral anthems that fueled the best Afro-inspired dances. "Wild Jungle" is a roaring rumba capped by special guest Doc Cheatham's zesty trumpet solo. The title track is an elegant Palladium-style lullaby graced by tenor saxophonist Ray Santoz's Lester Young lilt, and the Florida-born Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's Charlie Parker-like alto-sax riffs fly on "Oyeme," with another American, trumpeter Joe Newman. On the bata-drum-driven blues "Congo Mulence," Adderley and Newman create inspired solos off of the clave, highlighting the wonderful Afro-American and Afro-Cuban musical language Machito spoke and swung so well. --Eugene Holley, Jr.

Machito (leader)
Mario Bauza (arr, alto sax, trumpet)
Cannonball Adderley (alto sax)
Joe Newman (trumpet)
Doc Cheatham (trumpet)
Candido Camero (congas)
Carlos "Patato" Valdes (congas)
Eddie Bert (trombone)
Bart Varsalona (trombone)

1. Wild Jungle
2. Congo Mulence
3. Kenya
4. Oyeme
5. Holiday
6. Cannonology
7. Frenzy
8. Blues A La Machito
9. Conversation
10. Tin Tin Deo
11. Minor Rama
12. Tururato

Eddie Bert

It's been a while that I shared something here, but to my own surprise, I found two ready discs that only need to uploaded... working on the first one now, the second will follow in a couple of days.

This is an absolutely fantastic disc, featuring Eddie Bert, one of the more special trombone voices around in the 50s. He (and Willie Dennis) is among the few that were playing modern jazz but had their own voices and weren't as much under the spell of J.J. Johnson as most of his contemporaries.

Here's some info:

Eddie Bert Quintet - Kaleidoscope

Eddie Bert played in Goodman's boppers from November 1948 to September 1949. By 1950 he had enough of travel and trials of the road, so Eddie decided to concentrate on making his living around New York City, where he was regularly on call for recordings with Ray McKinley, Les Elgart, Elliot Lawrence, and the Sauter-Finegan orchestra. All of which takes us to the time of the sessions here, when Eddie was under contract to Discovery Records until the label went into bankruptcy and was sold to Savoy in 1956.

Yet, back to the three Discovery sessions included in this compilation (1 to 13), all of them feature pianist Duke Jordan, another giant the public has taken much too long to appreciate. Jordan worked for Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker throughout much of the 1940's, and even before that he was in the right place at the right time when bop was born in clubs like Clarke Monroe's in Harlem in 1941. Bassist Clyde Lombardi is also heard throughout these sessions, a musician many of us associate largely with the late Lennie Tristano's first trio performances. Drummer Art Mardigan handles the sticks (who swung Woody Herman's Third Herd for years), and then we segue to Joe Morello—and Eddie Bert recalls this as Joe Morello's very first studio date.

Very few fans ever heard Joe Morello when he subbed for Stan Levey in Stan Kenton's 1953 powerhouse, but broadcasts survive to prove that Joe was there, and his section mate was guitarist Sal Salvador, whom you will hear on the first four tracks of this CD. Eddie Bert likes that trombone-guitar unison in the front line, and he used it again in a session with Joe Puma six months later. Bert also liked the alto saxophone sound of his Westchester County neighbor Vinnie Dean, who had boarded the band bus with Sal Salvador through most of 1952-53 as integral parts of Stan Kenton's most sublimely swinging ensemble.

The last five tracks of this album previously unreleased recordings where we hear Eddie surrounded by his usual musicians. Through the years Eddie often worked with his own jazz group, most of the time including his peers Vinnie Dean, Clyde Lombardi Duke Jordan, Art Mardigan, Eddie Shaughenessy and a variety of drummers. For some gigs he also used pianist Sal Mosca, who grew up, just like Eddie, in Mount Vernon. Mosca, who studied for eight years with Lenni Tristano, doesn’t have a long list of recordings under his name, yet he’s considered by his colleagues as the last living great improvisational pianist of their generation. Tristano wrote that “of all the great people in jazz since the 40s, Sal Mosca is one of the greatest.” We can hear all the expressive range of Sal’s imagination in tracks 14 to 17.

The album finishes the same way it starts, with an also unreleased long version of Kaleidoscope, tune that gives name to this compilation and was recorded live in Gobbler’s Inn, Point Pleasant, New Jersey in August, 1955.

1. Kaleidoscope (Eddie Bert) 2:59
2. Love Me Or Leave Me (W.Donaldson-G.Kahn) 2:52
3. Little Train (Eddie Bert) 2:44
4. Prelude To A Kiss (D.Ellington-I.Mills) 2:32
5. Conversation Piece (Eddie Bert) 2:35
6. Interwoven (Vinnie Dean) 3:09
7. Around Town (Eddie Bert) 3:00
8. Broadway T.Mcrae-W.Woode-B.Bird) 2:58
9. Melting Pot (Bill Holman) 3:27
10. Ripples (Eddie Bert) 2:45
11. Conversation (Eddie Bert) 3:09
12. He Ain’t Got Rhythm (Irving Berlin) 2:12
13. Cherokee (Ray Noble) 4:45
14. Fuguein’ Around* (Eddie Bert) 3:44
15. Ripples* (Eddie Bert) 3:44
16. Conversation* (Eddie Bert) 3:58
17. Blues At Sunrise* (Eddie Bert) 5:50
18. Kaleidoscope* (Eddie Bert) 17:33

Personnel and dates:

Tracks 2-5: Eddie Bert, trombone, Sal Salvador, guitar; Duke Jordan, piano; Clyde Lombardi, bass; Mel Zelnick, drums.
Hackensack, New Jersey, May 11, 1953

Tracks 1,6-8: Eddie Bert, trombone, Vinnie Dean, alto sax; Duke Jordan, piano; Clyde Lombardi, bass; Art Mardigan, drums.
New York City, August 20, 1954

Tracks 9-13: Eddie Bert, trombone, vocal #12; Vinnie Dean, alto sax; Duke Jordan, piano; Clyde Lombardi, bass; Joe Morello, drums.
New York City, November 3, 1954

Tracks 14-17: Eddie Bert, trombone, Vinnie Dean, alto sax; Sal Mosca, piano; Clyde Lombardi, bass; Ed Shaughnessy, drums.
New Rochelle, N.Y., August 5, 1959

Track 18: Eddie Bert, trombone, Duke Jordan, piano; Clyde Lombardi, bass; Osie Johnson, drums.
Live at Gobblers Inn, Point Pleasant, N.J., August 8, 1955

*Tracks 14-18 previously unissued.

The Prestige All Stars - Roots

Idrees Sulieman is the link between the two 1957 sessions which comprise this album (bassist Doug Watkins, who wrote the title blues, is also on both dates), which should serve to remind and/or enlighten people as to just how vital a trumpeter Idrees was on the New York scene at the time. From the Sixties he has lived in Europe where he was featured with the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band.

'Roots,' which occupies an entire side, also contains long workouts by Pepper Adams, the rarely-heard Frank Rehak, and Bill Evans before he joined Miles Davis. It is a typical Prestige studio jam of the period.

The spirituals, 'Down by the Riverside' and 'Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,' were arranged by Lonnie Levister, who will be remembered by some for his 'Slow Dance,' recorded by John Coltrane. Cecil Payne's baritone is utilized in both numbers as are Jimmy Cleveland's trombone and the piano of Tommy Flanagan. The material is treated with respect and natural improvisation.

Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
Frank Rehak (tb)
Pepper Adams (baritone sax)
Bill Evans (piano)
Doug Watkins (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, December 6, 1957

Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Cecil Payne (baritone sax)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Doug Watkins (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, October 25, 1957

1. Roots
2. Down by the Riverside
3. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

The Prestige All-Stars - Earthy

One of a number of leaderless dates that took place at the Prestige studios. These have been released at various times (All Day Long, Three Trumpets, 4 Altos, Interplay For 2 Trumpets And 2 Tenors, etc.), and feature consistently high performances from what truly are all-star assemblages. Coltrane was on a few, and this line-up has no slackers in it , either.

Dazzling stints by Kenny Burrell (g), Art Farmer (tpt), and Mal Waldron (p) on otherwise standard cuts. Limited Edition release. ~ Ron Wynn

Art Farmer (trumpet)
Hal McKusick (alto sax)
Al Cohn (tenor sax)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Teddy Kotick (bass)
Ed Thigpen (drums)

1. Earthy
2. What's Not
3. I Wouldn't
4. The Front Line
5. Dayee

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, January 25, 1957

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bud Powell - Bud! The Amazing Bud Powell Vol. 3 (TOCJ)

In Japanalicious Stereoreoreoreo.

I think the general agreement is that the new RVG reissues are a marketing scam, and that they only sound better if you listen to them in an iPod. I find myself shaking my head as I go through the store racks nowadays, seeing the same title in 4 or 5 versions, when new artists can't get signed or promoted.

" ... while there is nothing of quite the scarifying intensity of 'Glass Enclosure', the charge that he brings to 'Frantic Fancies', 'Bud On Bach', and 'Keepin' In The Groove' is astonishing." ~ Penguin Guide

Bud Powell's playing in the late '50s (just prior to his move to Paris) found the troubled pianist in erratic form, often struggling to make it through songs he had written. However, his three Blue Note recordings from the era (which include the slightly later Time Waits and The Scene Changes) feature Powell in surprisingly inspired form; all of the releases have since been reissued on a comprehensive CD set. Bud! (which is subtitled The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 3) has five trio performances with bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor (highlighted by "Bud on Bach" and "Some Soul") and three standards on which the group is joined by trombonist Curtis Fuller. This strong bop set is well worth getting. ~ Scott Yanow

Bud Powell (piano)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. Some Soul
2. Blue Pearl
3. Frantic Fancies
4. Bud On Bach
5. Keepin' In The Groove
6. Idaho
7. Don't Blame Me
8. Moose The Mooche

The Van Gelder Howff: August 3, 1957

Sarah Vaughan - 1944-1946 (Chronological 958)

This is a who's who of boppers and proto-boppers. If you look in older posts you'll find some stuff by Bill DeArango; he's really worth looking into.

This first installment in the complete chronological recordings of Sarah Vaughan is a gold mine of great jazz dating from turbulent and transitional times. It's also one of the very best Sarah Vaughan retrospectives ever made available to the public. Vaughan positively glows in front of every ensemble lucky enough to back her, as she performs in an almost bewildering series of outstanding recordings on the De Luxe, Continental, Guild, Crown, Gotham, H.R.S., and Musicraft labels. She appears as a 20-year-old featured with Billy Eckstine's Orchestra, then sitting in with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, with violinist Stuff Smith's Trio, and with the amazing John Kirby Sextet (here billed as his orchestra). She rubs shoulders with Trummy Young, Dicky Wells, Tony Scott, Ben Webster, Freddy Webster, Al Cohn, Serge Chaloff, Flip Phillips, Tadd Dameron, Bud Powell, Dexter Gordon, Gene Ammons, Leo Parker, Georgie Auld, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Sid Catlett, Max Roach, and pianist Jimmy Jones, destined to accompany Vaughan intermittently until 1958. The jazz talent assembled on this one disc is nothing short of formidable. Sarah Vaughan began her recording career in the eye of the hurricane of jazz in New York during the mid-'40s. This incredible compilation documents exactly how she went about it. ~ arwulf arwulf

Sarah Vaughan (vocals)
Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Charlie Parker (alto sax)
Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Serge Chaloff (baritone sax)
Bill DeArango (guitar)
Neal Hefti (trumpet)
Georgie Auld (soprano and tenor sax)
Tony Scott (clarinet)

1. I'll Wait And Pray
2. Signing Off
3. Interlude (Night In Tunisia)
4. No Smoke Blues
5. East Of The Sun
6. Lover Man
7. What More Can A Woman Do?
8. I'd Rather Have A Memory Than A Dream
9. Mean To Me
10. Time And Again
11. I'm Scared
12. You Go To My Head
13. I Could Make You Love Me
14. It Might As Well Be Spring
15. All Too Soon
16. We're Through
17. A Hundred Years From Today
18. If You Could See Me Now
19. I Can Make You Love Me
20. You're Not The Kind
21. My Kinda Love
22. You're Blase

Mark Isham - Castalia (1988)

More jazz-oriented music is featured on this ensemble recording including Isham's muted trumpet over a dense and percussive backdrop from longtime Isham sidemen David Torn, Peter Maunu and Patrick O'Hearn, plus Paul McCandless, Terry Bozzio, and Mick Karn. The sweeping strings and classical guitar on "My Wife with Champagne Shoulders" and the evocative "A Dream of Three Acrobats" are highlights. Scott Bultman

Castalia (1988) is an album by the American trumpeter/synthesist Mark Isham. The title refers to the mythical spring Castalia on Mount Parnassus in Greece. This album features a larger ensemble of musicians than Isham's previous albums. Artists who performed on this album include guitarists David Torn and Peter Maunu, bassist Patrick O'Hearn, drummer Terry Bozzio and vocalist Gayle Moran. O'Hearn, Bozzio and Maunu were all in Isham's early band Group 87. Torn's atmospheric guitar work and O'Hearn's bass playing make a major contribution to the unique style of this album. Most of the pieces are in a long format, often beginning with subtle ambient textures and bursting into more active compositions. The song "In the Warmth of Your Night" is only available on CD. The album's cover artwork features illustrations of the Lissajous apparatus. wikipedia

Mark Adler (Arranger)
Terry Buzzio (Drums)
Bill Douglass (Bass)
Mark Isham (Synthesizer, Trumpet, Keyboards)
Mick Karn (Electric Bass)
Peter Maunu (Electric Guitar)
Paul McCandless (Clarinet, English Horn, Saxophone)
Gayle Moran (Vocals)
Patrick O'Hearn (Electric Bass)
David Torn (Guitar)

1 Grand Parade
2 Tales From The Maiden
3 In The Warmth of Your Night
4 My Wife With Champagne Shoulders
5 Meeting With the Parabolist
6 Dream of Three Acrobats
7 Gracious Core

Recorded in 1988 at Earle-Tones Music and Producers Studios, Hollywood, CA USA

Amos Garrett - Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield

Amos Garrett has been around quite a while - I remember him from Geoff Muldaur albums. I remember reading that he would fret a note and then bend the strings on either side - never heard of anyone else who could do that. He's like Richard Thompson in that he tosses off these very fine solos just when you were lulled by the song. About Percy Mayfield what else can you say? Percy Mayfield was a master.

This is a very logical release. Amos Garrett is a veteran singer and guitarist who has a storytelling style that crosses over between the blues and folk music. Probably not as famous as he should be considering that Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis" and Anne Murray's "Snowbird" feature his guitar playing, Garrett has contributed to many other artists' recordings but fortunately has also recorded regularly as a leader for Stony Plain. He has a very attractive baritone voice and a fluent guitar style. Percy Mayfield was one of the great blues songwriters. He will always be immortal due to having penned "Please Send Me Someone to Love," but he also wrote many other worthy numbers. On Get Way Back, Garrett performs 11 of Mayfield's better songs (skipping "Please Send Me"), including "Stranger in My Own Hometown," "River's Invitation," and a song often sung by Mose Allison, "Lost Mind." Despite his own personal misfortunes and the darkness of many of these songs, Mayfield's music is open to a variety of interpretations and Garrett's versions have some witty and very human moments. Accompanied by a top-notch combo, Amos Garrett is in top form throughout this inspired outing. ~ Scott Yanow

1. My Jug And I
2. Pretty Eyed Baby
3. Stranger In My Own Hometown
4. Never Say Naw
5. The Country
6. To Claim It's Love
7. River's Invitation
8. Fading Love
9. Get Way Back
10. Ha Ha In The Daytime
11. Lost Mind

Bill Evans and Scott LaFaro At The Village Vanguard - 1961

This seems like a good time to post this; it's been sitting on a pile of things I eventually intended to get to. This CD is a release of privately owned acetate recordings that were apparently used, in some cases, to master the official releases, although these were not released by Riverside. This appears to be a direct transfer of the originals; you can hear some of the surface noise at the beginning of a few, but generally the sound is better than you'd expect. I admit to not having yet listened properly to this. The track listing included is erroneous, and the correct playlist is below.

"These recordings represent the high intro-active and inventive work of the illustrious Trio during this pinnacle of Evans' almost continual engagements at the Village Vanguard in the summer of 1961. These were recorded from original acetate dies from Bill Ohashi's private collection."

Bill Evans (piano)
Scott LaFaro (bass)
Paul Motian (drums)

1. Waltz for Debby
2. Waltz for Debby
3. My Romance
4. My Romance
5. Alice in Wonderland
6. How My Heart Sings

Bill Evans - Empathy (1962) + A Simple Matter Of Conviction (1965)

This 1989 reissue of Bill Evans' EMPATHY and A SIMPLE MATTER OF CONVICTION showcases the early years of this legendary pianist. EMPATHY was recorded in the summer of '62, just 13 months after Evans had lost his astonishing young bassist, Scott LaFaro, in a fatal automobile accident.
Evans' use of complex left-handed voicings, together with his artful sense of melody, make "Let's Go Back to the Waltz" (a tune that actually morphs into an uptempo 4/4 swing), and "Danny Boy," more than solid performances. In fact, "Danny Boy" is arguably one of Evans' finest moments on record. Backed by the little known but first-class bassist, Monty Budwig, and the great Shelly Manne on drums, EMPATHY emphasizes the adroitness of all three musicians. A SIMPLE MATTER OF CONVICTION was recorded some four years later, but it retains much of the same musical playfulness and humor found on EMPATHY. Here, Evans and Manne are joined by Eddie Gomez on bass for the first time. The 22 year-old bassist is in fine form on all nine tracks. Evans himself displays remarkable harmonic invention on colorful renditions of "Star Eyes" and "Stella by Starlight."
CD Universe

The jazz wisdom regarding Bill Evans's relationship to drummers is that only Philly Joe Jones could light a bona fide rhythmic fire beneath the often mellow, circuitous pianist. But here California-cool-identified rhythm ace Shelly Manne shows both intimate knowledge of Evans's modus operandi and a keen manner for destabilizing the picture enough to drive uncommonly hard-swinging trio interplay. This two-fer collects both dates Manne played with Evans--and bassists Monty Budwig (on Empathy in 1962) and longtime trio member Eddie Gomez (on A Simple Matter of Conviction in 1966)--and the pairing makes great sense. Not only did Manne push the trio to new places, but Evans yanked Manne into a kind of ultrasensitive spot, too, engaging the drums and ride cymbals so that they sound harmonic and melodic. The net result is hair-raising in its exactness and a pleasure to hear.
Andrew Bartlett


01 The Washington Twist (Berlin) 6:28
02 Danny Boy (Weatherly) 3:42
03 Let's Go Back to the Waltz (Berlin) 4:30
04 With a Song in My Heart (Hart, Rodgers) 9:12
05 Goodbye (Jenkins) 5:10
06 I Believe in You (Loesser) 5:48

Recorded in New York, on August 14, 1962

Bill Evans Piano
Monty Budwig Bass
Shelly Manne Drums

A Simple Matter of Conviction

07 A Simple Matter of Conviction (Evans) 3:18
08 Stella by Starlight (Washington, Young) 4:09
09 Orbit (Unless It's You) (Evans) 3:41
10 Laura (Mercer, Raksin) 4:17
11 My Melancholy Baby (Burnett, Norton) 5:14
12 I'm Getting Sentimental over You (Bassman, Washington) 4:11
13 Star Eyes (DePaul, Raye) 4:56
14 Only Child (Evans) 4:02
15 These Things Called Changes (Evans) 3:34

Recorded in New York, on October 4, 1966

Bill Evans Piano
Eddie Gómez Bass
Shelly Manne Drums

Bill Evans - The 1960 Birdland Session

The recordings on this CD precede the same trio's live performances at the Village Vanguard in 1961 by more than a year. Incomplete versions of these tracks have been previously issued on LP but appear here on CD in their entirety.

The legendary edition of the Bill Evans Trio featured impeccable drummer Paul Motian and ill-starred bassist Scott LaFaro; they made a handful of recordings for Riverside, but their only released live sessions came from their final engagement at the Village Vanguard in June, 1961. The release of these airchecks from four separate broadcasts is a welcome addition to their discography. There are three excellent takes of "Autumn Leaves," with the first kicked off by a long Scott LaFaro solo. Evans offers a stunning seven-minute "Nardis," which is possibly his earliest live recording of the piece that he would perform and record many more times. LaFaro delivers a compelling solo that only hints at the potential that was extinguished with his death in an auto crash following the famous 1961 Village Vanguard sessions. Even with the noise typically found in releases made from vintage radio broadcasts, this is a historic CD worth the extra effort to locate.
Ken Dryden

01 Autumn Leaves (Kosma, Mercer, Prevert) 4:56
02 Our Delight (Dameron) 6:38
03 Beautiful Love/Five (Theme) (Gillespie, King, VanAlstyne, Young) 5:24
04 Autumn Leaves (Kosma, Mercer, Prevert) 6:48
05 Come Rain or Come Shine/Five (Theme) (Arlen, Mercer) 5:08
06 Come Rain or Come Shine (Arlen, Mercer) 4:55
07 Nardis (Davis) 7:26
08 Blue in Green (Davis, Evans) 6:14
09 Autumn Leaves (Kosma, Mercer, Prevert) 7:09
10 All of You (Porter) 6:58
11 Come Rain or Come Shine (Arlen, Mercer) 4:39
12 Speak Low (Nash, Weill) 6:48

Tracks 1-3: March 12,1960
Tracks 4-5: March 19,1960
Tracks 6-9: April 30, 1960
Tracks 10-12: May 7, 1960

Bill Evans piano
Scott LaFaro bass
Paul Motian drums

Recorded Live at the Birdland Club, New York City, March 12 & 19 and April 30, 1960.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

George Russell

The African Game

George Russell's The African Game is a major statement, a highly eclectic, nine-part, 45-minute suite for augmented big band that attempts to depict no less than the evolution of the species from the beginning of time to the present from an African perspective. Well, yes, this theme has been taken on by many an ambitious artist in every field, but Russell's work is remarkably successful because it tries to embrace a massive world of sound in open, colorful, young-thinking terms, with degrees of timbral unity and emotion to keep the idioms from flying out of control. There are traditional big band sounds here, but one is more likely to encounter electronics, African drumming by the five-piece group Olu Bata, atonality, rock, funk, even the sound of electric pencil sharpeners. Ironically, the section with the strongest injections of funk is entitled "The Survival Game (Survival of the Fittest)" -- possibly a barbed comment on the mercenary realities of the music business -- and "The Mega-Minimalist Age (Style Over Substance: The Decline of the Spirit)" leaves no doubt as to Russell's jaundiced view of commercial pop culture. The recording was made with help of grants from the state of Massachusetts and the NEA at the work's American premiere in a Boston church, and the performance sounds crisp and well-rehearsed. Indeed, this release Russell's first on a U.S. label in 13 years, and was an early sign from the newly revived (as of 1985) Blue Note label that they intended to be a major force in the jazz business again after sporadic patches of activity and neglect. So they have been ever since, despite deleting this CD. ~ Richard S. Ginell

Mark Harvey, Roy Okutani, Chris Passin, Mike Peipman (tp) Peter Cirelli, Chip Kaner (tb) Jeff Marsanska (btb) Marshall Sealy (frh) Dave Mann, Janus Steprans (as, ss, fl) George Garzone (ts, ss) Gary Joynes (ts, ss, fl) Brad Jones (bars, bcl, fl) Bruce Barth, Mark Rossi (key) Mark White (g) Bob Nieske (b) Bill Urmson (el-b) Keith Copeland (d) Joe Galeota (cga -10,11) Dave Hagedorn (per) African percussion ensemble (per -1/9) George Russell (arr, cond, comp)

1. Event I: Organic Life on Earth Begins
2. Event II: The Paleolithic Game
3. Event III: Consciousness
4. Event IV: The Survival Game
5. Event V: The Human Sensing of Unity
6. Event VI: African Empires
7. Event VII: Cartesisan Man
8. Event VIII: The Mega-Minimalist Age
9. Event IX: The Future?

Emanuel Church, Boston, MA, June 18, 1983

George Russell - So What

These tracks were recorded at the same Boston church concert that yielded The African Game, and Russell's Living Time Orchestra responds with the same kick and enthusiasm, although the musicians' individual solo turns aren't terribly startling. Half the CD is taken up by a performance of Russell's "Time Spiral," which opens promisingly but soon evolves into a pair of eventually tiresome funk vamps tied together with an episode of atonality. Russell's idiosyncratic take on Miles Davis' "So What" is built around a transcribed version of Miles' original solo, and it rocks to the modal changes without ever stating the theme. Russell uses an eight-person update of the Smalltet on the modal "Rhymes" and "War Gewesen," which roll forth on a distinct funk beat with plenty of Fender bass underpinning. Consider this as a supplement to The African Game, further evidence of Russell's (mixed?) desire to come to terms with the idioms of his time. ~ Richard S. Ginell

" ... Russell's stylistic reach in his own compositions eventually became omnivorous, embracing bop, gospel, blues, rock, funk, contemporary classical elements, electronic music and African rhythms in his recent, ambitious extended works -- most apparent in his large-scale 1983 suite for an enlarged big band, The African Game. Like his colleague Gil Evans, Russell never stopped growing, but his work is not nearly as well-known that that of Evans, being more difficult to grasp and, in any case, not as well-documented by U.S. record labels."

1. So What
2. Rhymes
3. War Gewesen
4. Time Spiral

Anita O'Day - Volume 4 1944 (2000) {MJCD 183}

Rab mentioned he's obtained Volumes 1 & 2. So here's this...

Anita O'Day - Volume 4
Complete Edition
(P) & © 2000 Musisoft
Made In France

Masters Of Jazz MJCD 183

Contains 20-page Illustrated Booklet.

Includes 5 sides never issued *

Anita O'Day (voc); Nat "King" Cole (p); Oscar Moore (g); Johnny Miller (b).
MacGregor Transcriptions MacGregor Studios, Hollywood, prob. early 1944
1. MM 572 Ain't Misbehavin'
2. MM 572 Penthouse Serenade
3. MM 572 Lonesome Road
4. MM 572 I Can't Give You Anything But Love
5. MM 572 Rosetta

John Carroll, Buddy Childers, Karl George, Dick Morse (tp); Bill Atkinson, George Fay, Harry Forbes, Bart Varsalona (tb); Chet Ball, Eddie Meyers (as); Stan Getz, Dave Matthews (ts); Bob Gioga (bar); Stan Kenton (p); Bob Ahern (g); Gene Englund (b); Jesse Price (d); Anita O'Day (voc).
MacGregor Transcriptions MacGregor Studios, Hollywood, prob. 11 May 1944
6. MMO 584 Ride On
7. MMO 585 Build It Up, Paint It Nice, Tear It Down
8. MMO 586 Salt Lake City Blues (I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City)
9. MMO 587 You Betcha
10. MMO 587 In A Little Spanish Town

John Carroll, Buddy Childers, Karl George, Dick Morse (tp); Bill Atkinson, George Fay, Harry Forbes, Bart Varsalona (tb); Chet Ball, Eddie Meyers (as); Stan Getz, Dave Matthews (ts); Morey Beeson (bar); Stan Kenton (p); Bob Ahern (g); Gene Englund (b); Jesse Price (d); Anita O'Day (voc).
Capitol MacGregor Studios, Hollywood, 20 May 1944
11. 248-2 I'm Going Mad for a Pad

Same, except Stan Kenton (p) out.
12. 249-1 And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine
13. 249-2 And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine

Same as previous.
Broadcast AFRS "One Night Stand 685"
Pacific Square Ballroom, San Diego, Ca., May/June 1944
14. The Lady In Red

Same as previous.
Broadcast AFRS "One Night Stand 710"
Tune Town Ballroom, St. Louis, Mo., Aug., 1944
*15. Are You Livin', Old Man?
*16. Tabby the Cat
*17. Salt Lake City Blues (I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City)

John Carroll, Buddy Childers, Karl George, Gene Roland, Mel Green (tp); Freddie Zito, Milt Kabak, Harry Forbes, Bart Varsalona (tb); Bob Lively, Boots Musselli (as); Stan Getz, Emmett Carls (ts); Bob Gioga (bar); Stan Kenton (p); Bob Ahern (g); Bob Kesterson (b); John Bock (d); Anita O'Day (voc).
Capitol New York, 26 Sep. 1944
18. Gotta' Be Gettin'

John Carroll, Buddy Childers, Karl George, Gene Roland, Mel Green (tp); Freddie Zito, Milt Kabak, Harry Forbes, Bart Varsalona (tb); Bob Lively, Boots Musselli (as); Stan Getz, Emmett Carls (ts); Bob Gioga (bar); Stan Kenton (p); Bob Ahern (g); Bob Kesterson (b); Jim Falzone (d); Anita O'Day (voc).
Broadcast AFRS "One Night Stand 474",
Hollywood Palladium, Ca., 28 Nov. 1944
19. Tabby The Cat
*20. Gotta' Be Gettin'

Same as previous.
Broadcast AFRS "One Night Stand 447",
Hollywood Palladium, Ca., 30 Nov. 1944
21. Gotta' Be Gettin'
22. Wish You Were Waitin' for Me

Same as previous.
Transcription AFRS "Jubilee 111", prob. MacGregor Studios,
Hollywood, 5 or 20 Dec. 1944
23. MM 685 And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine

Same as previous.
Broadcast AFRS "One Night Stand 608",
Hollywood Palladium, Ca., 12 Dec. 1944
*24. The Lady in Red

Eddie Daniels - Breakthrough (1986)

Reposted by request

This classic recording is a breakthrough in several ways. One of the most successful of all "third stream" efforts, the arrangements by Jorge Calandrelli, Torrie Zito, and Nan Schwartz for the London Philharmonia Orchestra are a superior blend of aspects of jazz and classical music. This album was also a major breakthrough for clarinetist Eddie Daniels who finally became a major name. Daniels proved that (with the possible exception of Buddy DeFranco) he was on a higher level than any other clarinetist of the post-swing era. He effortlessly switches back and forth between rapid classical music passages and inventive jazz on "Solfeggietto/Metamorphosis" and easily holds one's interest througout Calandrelli's 22-minute three-part "Concerto for Jazz Clarinet and Orchestra." To call Eddie Daniels' playing "brilliant" on this release would be an understatement. Essential music. - Scott Yanow

Eddie Daniels (clarinet)
Fred Hersch (piano)
Allan Walley, Marc Johnson (bass)
Martin Drew, Joey Baron (drums)
The Philharmonia Orchestra
  1. Solfeggietto/Metamorphosis
  2. Siciliano
  3. Circle Dance
  4. Aja's Theme
  5. Divertimento
  6. Concerto for Jazz Clarinet and Orchestra - Allegro
  7. Concerto for Jazz Clarinet and Orchestra - Adagio
  8. Concerto for Jazz Clarinet and Orchestra - Presto

Paul Desmond - Skylark (1973)

Paul Desmond's solo career, much of it guided by Creed Taylor from 1968 though 1974, was not dictated by risk-taking. The alto-saxophonist became famed while with Dave Brubeck's quartet for pretty intonation and witty interjections. SKYLARK is an exception. This outstanding late-1973 date was the first of two records Desmond recorded for CTI under his own name (he was also featured on projects by Don Sebesky, Jim Hall and Chet Baker).

What makes it so unusual is the addition of guitarist Gabor Szabo. Unlike Desmond's past partner in crime, Jim Hall (or Canadian Ed Bickert shortly thereafter) Szabo was not an obvious accompanist (it was Creed Taylor's idea, having just signed the guitarist to CTI). Szabo's jangled runs, metallic tone and unusual conceptions seemed opposed to Desmond's pretty playing and polite witticism. Oddly though, Desmond is more ideally suited to guitarist Gene Bertoncini, who sticks to playing acoustic rhythm throughout. Szabo gets the solos -- and he plays brilliantly, even poetically throughout (formerly only on the brilliant "Take Ten" and the mysterious "Romance de Amour" - and now also on alternate takes of "Skylark" and "Indian Summer"). To compound it, drummer Jack DeJohnette was hardly suited to Desmond either. The busy, polyphonic, near-brilliant percussion cues evidenced here are hardly the sort of thing Desmond would have expected from Joe Morello or Connie Kay.

What holds it all together is Fender Rhodes man Bob James and, of course, bassist Ron Carter. Together, the two conspire to wed the traditional beauty of Desmond and Bertoncini with the exotica of Szabo and DeJohnette into quite potent, hypnotic performances. SKYLARK is strong, beautiful work that provides an elegant platform for Desmond's talents (more than the ho-hum follow-up, PURE DESMOND) and offers one of the best, most interesting jazz records of the early 1970s. www.dougpayne.com

Paul Desmond (as)
Bob James (el-p)
Gabor Szabo, Gene Bertoncini (g)
Ron Carter (b)
Jack DeJohnette (d)
Don Sebesky (arr,supervise).
Ralph MacDonald (perc)
George Ricci (cello)

1. Take Ten (Paul Desmond) - 6:04
2. Romance De Amor (trad.) - 9:37
3. Was A Sunny Day (Paul Simon) - 4:41
4. Music For A While (Henry Purcell) - 6:43
5. Skylark (H. Carmichael/J. Mercer) - 5:15
6. Indian Summer (V. Herbert) - 3:58
7. Music For A While (alt take) - 5:53
8. Skylark (alt take) - 5:37
9. Indian Summer (alt take) - 5:28

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood, NJ on November 27-28 & December 4, 1973

VIDEO: Coltrane Live in the 60's

A recent videoprogramme in the Jazz Icons - Reelin' in the Years series, this 90-minute film is from three European dates:
March 28, 1960 in Germany, with Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb, and guests Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson.
December 4, 1961 with McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman, Elvin Jones, and Eric Dolphy.
August 1, 1965 in Belgium, with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones.
Sound quality is not bad, but film is b&w and not the greatest, but under the circumstances, who can refuse?

Webster Young - For Lady

This was his best known album; songs associated with Billie Holiday. Billie's longtime accompanist, Mal Waldron, is a fitting addition to the group.

While trumpeter Webster Young pays tribute to Billie Holiday on this, his only studio date as a leader, the set is equally a tribute to Young's musical role model, Miles Davis. Young has Miles' soft-focus tone from the early to mid-'50s and, according to Ira Gitler's liner notes, he is actually playing Miles' cornet on the date. The similarities between the two players make this 1957 session a satisfying companion to Miles' work circa 1951-1953. Young is nicely matched here with tenor saxophonist Paul Quinichette, with the two of them using a pleasantly blowsy approach to weave loose, discursive counterpoint around each other. Guitarist Joe Puma distinguishes the set with thoughtful, understated playing that calls to mind Kenny Burrell's own Prestige dates from this period. Pianist Mal Waldron, drummer Ed Thigpen, and bassist Earl May infuse the performances with a cohesive, relaxed swing. They give each other lots of space, and Waldron makes astute choices in his chord selection, phrasing, and comping strategies. The tracks comprise five pieces associated with Holiday and one Young original, written in homage to Lady Day. True to Holiday's approach, the mood is world-weary, bordering on bleak, but with breaches of light like those that would briefly suffuse Holiday's songs. "Strange Fruit" is the one track that misses the mark. Where Holiday allowed the stark irony of the lyrics to carry the song, Young's instrumental version labors the point by including an execution squad drum roll. This could have been effective had it been limited to the intro and ending, but when Thigpen's martial snare also crops up midsong it breaks the subtle, macabre atmosphere of the piece.

Webster Young (cornet)
Paul Quinichette (tenor sax)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Joe Puma (guitar)
Earl May (bass)
Ed Thigpen (drums)

1. The Lady
2. God Bless The Child
3. Moanin' Low
4. Good Morning Heartache
5. Don't Explain
6. Strange Fruit

Recorded in Hackensack, New Jersey on June 14, 1957

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chet Baker - On A Misty Night

In August of 1965 Chet Baker spent a three-day marathon in a studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, recording material as a quintet for Prestige Records, that resulted in five fine albums. Tracks from the fourth album, Cool Burnin', and the fifth, Boppin', are compiled into this release--the third in a series of three CD reissues of these sessions. The outstanding quintet includes the tenor saxophonist George Coleman, who was part of the Miles Davis Quintet. His tough, angular playing is prominently featured throughout, and he is a wonderful foil to Baker's emotional lyricism.

Baker's playing here is inspired: more energized, fiery, and less introspective than his former recordings, which focus more on standard ballads. One can really hear Miles Davis's influence, especially on the tunes "Boudoir" and "Etude in Three." The sessions included many tunes by the late bop legend Tadd Dameron, among which are featured the previously unrecorded moody ballad "Lament For the Living," and "Romas," where Baker takes a killer solo. On A Misty Night makes for a very cool listening experience.

"Chet Baker was quite busy during three days in August 1965, recording five LPs worth of material with tenor saxophonist George Coleman (formerly with Miles Davis), pianist Kirk Lightsey, bassist Herman Wright and drummer Roy Brooks. Baker, sticking to flugelhorn, is heard in fine form on this CD reissue, which (along with Stairway to the Stars and Lonely Star) brings back all of the music in full; each CD also contains all of the liner notes from the five original albums. For this particular reissue, the quintet performs six likable originals by Richard Carpenter, Jimmy Mundy's "Sleeping Susan," three Tadd Dameron tunes, and a Sonny Stitt blues. Most of the selections are taken at relaxed tempos, but it is the hottest number, "Go-Go," that is most memorable. Considering that Baker's records of the next few years were consistent commercial turkeys (including A Taste of Tequila, In the Mood, the infamous Albert's House and Blood, Chet and Tears), it can accurately be stated that the Prestige sets are Chet Baker's last worthwhile recordings before his comeback began in 1974." ~ Scott Yanow

Chet Baker (flugelhorn)
George Coleman (tenor sax)
Kirk Lightsey (piano)
Herman Wright (bass)
Roy Brooks (drums)

1. Cut Plug
2. Boudoir
3. Etude In Three
4. Sleeping Susan
5. Go-Go
6. Lament For The Living
7. Pot Luck
8. Bud's Blues
9. Romas
10. On A Misty Night
11. Hurry

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: August 23-25, 1965

Lester Young - Alternates Vol. 1 1936-1944

This seems like the time for this collection of alternate takes; others from this period can be found, I believe on the recent Billie Holiday sets. Although Pres had already a lifetime of performance experience, this compilation starts out with what the notes say was Lester's recording debut. Listening to alternate takes of certain artists - and Young is foremost on the list - is never a waste of time.

After a tour with Andy Kirk and a few brief jobs, Lester Young was back with Basie in 1936, just in time to star with the band as they headed East. Young made history during his years with Basie, not only participating on Count's record dates but starring with Billie Holiday and Teddy Wilson on a series of classic small-group sessions. In addition, on his rare recordings on clarinet with Basie and the Kansas City Six, Young displayed a very original cool sound that almost sounded like altoist Paul Desmond in the 1950s. After leaving Count in 1940, Young's career became a bit aimless, not capitalizing on his fame in the jazz world. He co-led a low-profile band with his brother, drummer Lee Young, in Los Angeles until re-joining Basie in December 1943. Young had a happy nine months back with the band, recorded a memorable quartet session with bassist Slam Stewart, and starred in the short film Jammin' the Blues before he was drafted.

Lester Young (tenor sax)
Count Basie (piano)
Buck Clayton (trumpet)
Johnny Guarnieri (piano)
Freddie Green (guitar)
Slam Stewart (bass)
Jo Jones (drums)

1. Shoe Shine Boy
2. I Found A New Baby
3. Way Down Yonder In New Orle
4. Countless Blues
5. Them There Eyes
6. I Want A Litlle Girl
7. Pagin The Devil
8. Exactly Like You
9. Dickie S Dream
10. Dickie S Dream
11. Dickie S Dream
12. Lester Leaps Again
13. I´m Fer It Too
14. Hello Babe
15. Just You Just Me
16. I Never Knew
17. Afternoon Of A Basie Ite
18. Sometimes I´m Happy
19. After Theatre Jump
20. Six Cats And A Prince
21. Six Cats And A Prince
22. Destination K.C.

Eddie Daniels - First Prize!

When one hears this early Eddie Daniels CD (a straight reissue of the original LP), it is surprising to realize that he would remain in relative obscurity for almost another 20 years. As shown on the three of the eight selections on which he plays clarinet, Daniels (even at this early stage) ranked near the top, while his tenor playing on the remaining numbers was already personal and virtuosic. With the assistance of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis rhythm section of the time (pianist Roland Hanna, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Mel Lewis), Daniels is in top form on three standards, four originals and the pop tune "Spanish Flea." ~ Scott Yanow

One of the truly great jazz clarinetists (ranking at the top with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Buddy DeFranco), Eddie Daniels makes the impossible look effortless. On his first GRP release, Breakthrough, in 1984, Daniels switched back and forth on a second's notice between jazz and classical and he has since explored Charlie Parker, Roger Kellaway tunes, crossover, and even swing with consistent brilliance. He is also a dazzling (if underrated) tenor player. Daniels appeared at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival in Marshall Brown's Youth Band (playing alto) and after graduating from Juilliard in 1966, he played tenor with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra for six years. Daniels recorded First Prize as a leader (1966) and made albums with Freddie Hubbard (1969), Richard Davis, Don Patterson, and duets with Bucky Pizzarelli (1973). Although he recorded as a leader for Muse and Columbia during 1977-1978, Eddie Daniels did not make it big until he started specializing on clarinet and recording regularly for GRP in 1984. In 1992, he started doubling on tenor again when his reputation on clarinet was secure. ~ Scott Yanow

Eddie Daniels (clarinet, tenor sax)
Sir Roland Hanna (piano)
Richard Davis (bass)
Mel Lewis (drums)

1. Felicidade
2. That Waltz
3. Falling In Love With Love
4. Love's Long Journey
5. Time Marches On
6. Spanish Flea
7. The Rocker
8. How Deep Is The Ocean?

Englewood Cliffs: September 8 and 12, 1966

Eddie Daniels ...This Is Now (1991)

Most of clarinetist Eddie Daniels' projects for GRP had a central theme. This CD was an exception in that the material is quite wide-ranging, from Duke Ellington to Thad Jones and Bill Evans songs. Pianist Billy Childs, who contributed three originals (Daniels brought in four), is a key player in the music, clearly inspiring the clarinetist to come up with consistently challenging statements. With either Tony Dumas or Jimmy Johnson on bass and Ralph Penland or Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, these quartet performances feature Eddie Daniels and Billy Childs at their best. - Scott Yanow

Eddie Daniels (clarinet)
Billy Childs (piano)
Tony Dumas, Jimmy Johnson (bass)
Ralph Penland, Vinnie Colaiuta (drums)

  1. 34 Skidoo
  2. It Was Always You
  3. How My Heart Sings
  4. A New Thing
  5. Soft Shoe for Thad
  6. Double Image
  7. Cry
  8. 3 and 1
  9. All the Stars Are Out
  10. In a Sentimental Mood
  11. That Was Then...This Is Now
  12. Body and Soul

Contributions 9

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.

Billie Holiday - Vol. 8: March-Dec. 1939 (Masters Of Jazz)

Four volumes yet to come, and I just got the MOJ Anita O'Day volumes 1 and 2; I am a slave to my scanner.

Lady's contribution to jazz was not the range or quality of her voice; it was in its phrasing and delivery. Girl singers were known as chirpers for good reason. Billie changed all that forever by interpreting popular music instead of merely confecting it and passing it along. In this volume we find " simply some of the best jazz of its day" and also the song that might reasonably claim to have changed the conception of girl singer forever.

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

Billie Holiday (vocals)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Hot Lips Page (trumpet)
Tab Smith (alto sax)
Buck Clayton (trumpet)
Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Freddie Green (guitar)
Jo Jones (drums)

1. You're Too Lovely To Last
2. You're Too Lovely To Last
3. Under A Blue Jungle Moon
4. Under A Blue Jungle Moon
5. Everything Happens For The Best
6. Why Did I Always Depend On You?
7. Long Gone Blues
8. Strange Fruit
9. Strange Fruit
10. Yesterdays
11. Yesterdays
12. Fine And Mellow
13. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
14. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
15. Some Other Spring
16. Our Love Is Different
17. Them There Eyes
18. Swing, Brother, Swing
19. Night And Day
20. Night And Day
21. The Man I Love
22. You're Just A No Account
23. You're A Lucky Guy
24. I'm Gonna Lock My Heart

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kenny Dorham - Una Mas (TOCJ)

In Japantastic Sensei-Around Sound!

1963 saw KD producing only this as a leader; at the end of the year he was in Copenhagen with the Scandia albums recently posted. In between he did only a Horace Silver date and two sessions led by the newcomer Joe Henderson.

" ... the sustained energy of Una Mas, the title-track of which is one of Dorham's finest moments ..." ~ Penguin Guide

When one thinks of great talent scouts in jazz, the name of Kenny Dorham is often overlooked. However, many top young players benefited from playing in his groups, and for proof one need look no further than the lineup on this 1963 CD reissue: tenor-saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Butch Warren, and (before either player joined Miles Davis) pianist Herbie Hancock and drummer Tony Williams. Together the quintet performs three of the trumpeter's originals ("Una Mas" is the most famous) along with the standard ballad "If Ever I Would Leave You." Even if the playing time (under 37 minutes) is a bit brief, the explorative yet swinging music lives up to its potential. ~ Scott Yanow

Trumpeter Kenny Dorham was a significant presence in the bop and hard bop scenes, a musician whose distinctive, lyrical style had been apparent from his work in the late '40s with Charlie Parker's quintet. The year 1963 was especially good for him. He had just returned from a trip to Brazil where he had been absorbing the bossa nova, and he had formed a musical partnership with Joe Henderson, a powerful young tenor saxophonist whose rugged sound and coiling lines were an ideal complement to Dorham's often subtler approach. This session is the first in a series of dates that would pair the two, and the fifteen minute "Una Mas," a percolating mix of hard bop sonorities and a samba beat, was the first recorded example of Dorham's distinctive exploration of bossa nova (his "Blue Bossa" would become a jazz standard). Pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Tony Williams all take naturally to the new beat, handling it as effectively as they do "Straight Ahead." ~ Stuart Broomer

Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Joe Henderson (tenor sax)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
Butch Warren (bass)
Tony Williams (drums)

1. Una Mas (One More Time)
2. Straight Ahead
3. Sao Paolo

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: April 1, 1963

Eddie Daniels - Under the Influence (1993)

After a decade of exclusively playing clarinet (and establishing himself as one of the greats), Eddie Daniels began doubling on tenor again on this recording. Switching between his two axes, Daniels sounds in top form on some diverse but consistently rewarding originals and a few standards ("I Hear a Rhapsody," "Weaver of Dreams," "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and an exciting version of Bill Evans' "Five"). Joined by pianist Alan Pasqua, bassist Mike Formanek and drummer Peter Erskine, Eddie Daniels really digs into these tunes and both his virtuosity and his inventive improvisations are quite impressive. - Scott Yanow

Eddie Daniels (tenor sax, clarinet)
Alan Pasqua (piano)
Mike Formanek (bass)
Peter Erskine (drums)

  1. Slam Dunk
  2. Mr. Cool (For Stan)
  3. Waltz for Bill (Evans)
  4. Meus Melhores Momentos
  5. Heartland
  6. I Hear a Rhapsody
  7. Weaver of Dreams
  8. Coyote Waits
  9. Rio Grande
  10. I Fall in Love Too Easily
  11. Five

Anthony Braxton - Eight (+3) Tristano Compositions, 1989: For Warne Marsh

Critics can bitch all they want about Anthony Braxton's "cerebral" approach to composition and improvisation, because their words -- like these -- are only words. None of them could handle the jazz canon like Braxton in his taste and execution as a soloist or as a bandleader, and such criticisms are therefore easy to make. This set was recorded as an homage to late saxophone great Warne Marsh (who was alive at the time of this recording) as well as to Lennie Tristano and his band of the late '40s and early '50s, which also included alto saxophonist Lee Konitz and guitarist Billy Bauer. Braxton's own band mirrors Tristano's, with Jon Raskin on baritone saxophone, Dred Scott on piano, Cecil McBee on bass, and Andrew Cyrille on drums. The first four tracks are all Tristano's. His songbook -- which incorporated Charlie Parker's sense of harmony and his own sense of lyrical melody and counterpoint -- is executed flawlessly by this band, with a different sense of clarity and emotional intensity that only history can bring to bear. Interestingly, it's on "Lennie's Pennies" that Braxton and Raskin really dig in to the melodic invention that is so subtle in the original from 1952. They look from the downside up in the way they play through the front line and then take out the harmony and turn it inside out. On Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean," a favorite of Marsh's, they turn a lilting lyrical line into a force for beauty and complexity. On Marsh's own "Sax of a Kind," Braxton's most emotional playing ever comes to the fore. He doesn't sweat the technique, he's already got that. He's interested in Marsh's feeling that came across when he heard the tune and the feeling Marsh got out of his horn, and, of course, he's grateful for that influence. Braxton sails with no edges, slowly allowing the tune to build from his soprano and inverting the tune's mode just as the line slips into improvisation. It's a ballad without a backbone, just a feeling, spreading over the entire body of the track until all that's left are the mode changes in the solos -- truly beautiful. Braxton has done numerous recordings of standards, and even a double CD on this same label of his readings of Charlie Parker. But as fine as most of those recordings are, none of them matches the lyrical brilliance and subtle grace of this tribute. ~ Thom Jurek

Anthony Braxton (soprano and alto sax, flute)
John Raskin (baritone sax)
Dred Scott (piano)
Cecil McBee (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)

1. Two Not One
2. 317 East 32nd Street
3. Dreams
4. Lennie's Pennies
5. How Deep Is the Ocean?
6. Victory Ball
7. Sax of a Kind
8. Lennie-Bird
9. Time on My Hands
10. Victory Ball [Take 2]
11. Baby
12. April

Hollywood: December 10-11, 1989

Oscar Peterson & Nelson Riddle (1963)

The Nelson Riddle Orchestra was always great enough to play music for film and television soundtracks, and accompany the greatest of stars, including Louis Jordan, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, among many others. For the band to back up the 1963 version of the Oscar Peterson trio with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen might have created some tension, with Peterson always wanting to cut loose and go over the top as opposed to the silky smooth sound Riddle favored. Fortunately, Peterson strikes a balance between playing it cool and lettin' 'er rip on this collection of standards with the dinner hour in mind.

Though not exclusively subtle and romantic, Riddle and Peterson strike a golden bipartisan compromise in rendering these well-known American popular songs into quietly burning embers of pure delight. It's a predictable mix, but so warm and heartfelt that one has to commend the participants for allowing each other their own personal ideas without selling out. Riddle's contribution was to form a unique group, unfortunately all unattributed, of ten cellos (no violins or violas), five horns, three flutes, a harp, and a percussion section. No one section dominates, which is the beauty of the famed arranger/composer/bandleader's concept. Summarily, Peterson chooses to not clash with the instruments as he trades phrases while generally not playing along with them.

This non-interruptive dialogue makes for communication that creates the best chemistry from a dynamic standpoint. In the case of "Come Sunday," Riddle's unadulterated chart of Duke Ellington's immortal composition finds Peterson in perfect sway, while separate and equal bluesy proportions of Count Basie-like melody earmark the easy swinging "Judy." There's more Basie included in the concise, three-minute "Someday My Prince Will Come" with good new lines from Peterson, while a great rendition of "A Sleeping Bee" recalls the Frank Foster years with Basie with lots of counterpoint as the cello tentet adds considerable depth to the proceedings. A pastoral mood hovers over "My Foolish Heart" with the your turn-my turn piano-orchestra's respectful trading of melody in full regalia, while the flute section takes the serene beauty image further during the Peterson-Gene Lees composition "Nightingale" and the always lovely "Portrait of Jenny." The version of "'Round Midnight" is an example of Peterson going off a bit on the arpeggiated side amongst a fairly stock horn chart, but utterly lovely, and not too creamy.

Again — this is not a soft and fuzzy overstrung effort dominated by cheese or cotton candy, but instead a quietly strong, rich, fully evocative set of great tracks that emphasize the undercurrent rather than the overflow of emotions. It is unusual in a starkly emotional sense of being, but the way all projects of this size and nature should be approached — with taste, class, and a healthy portion of restraint. Michael G. Nastos

Oscar Peterson (piano)
Ray Brown (bass)
Ed Thigpen (drums)
Orchestra with strings (arr. & cond. By Nelson Riddle)

1 My Foolish Heart (Washington, Young) 5:00
2 Judy (Carmichael, Lerner) 3:39
3 'Round Midnight (Monk) 4:08
4 Someday My Prince Will Come (Churchill, Morey) 2:52
5 Come Sunday (Ellington) 3:24
6 Nightingale (Lees, Peterson) 4:13
7 My Ship (Gershwin, Weill) 5:42
8 A Sleeping Bee (Arlen, Capote) 3:43
9 Portrait of Jenny (Burdge, Robinson) 4:28
10 Goodbye (Jenkins) 4:05

Recorded November, 1963 at Radio Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, CA

Monday, March 16, 2009

Clark Terry - Duke With A Difference

Usually when you see something sold as 'limited edition' it means that they are limited to how many they can sell. These OJC limited editions are all, apparently, now discontinued. Who woulda thought it?

In 1957 Terry was most of the way through his eight-year stint with Ellington and was bound for a staff job with NBC, the first black man to get his feet under that table. He struck up a successful partnership with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer. It's the slide-brass men he cleaves to on this mildly impertinent tribute to his boss. He undercuts both Jackson and Hodges on a beautifully arraaanged 'In A Sentimental Mood' (which features Strayhorn on piano and Luther Henderson on celeste) and cheerfully wrecks 'Take The "A" Train' in spite of Gonsalves' best efforts to keep it hurtling along the rails. ~ Penguin Guide

For this CD reissue of a Riverside set, trumpeter Clark Terry and some of the top Ellington sidemen of the period (trombonist Britt Woodman, altoist Johnny Hodges, tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, Tyree Glenn on vibes, bassist Jimmy Woode, and drummer Sam Woodyard) perform eight songs associated with Duke, but with fresh arrangements. There is plenty of solo space for Terry, Gonsalves, and Hodges, and the arrangements by Terry and Mercer Ellington cast a new light on some of the warhorses; highlights include "C Jam Blues," "Cotton Tail," "Mood Indigo," and "Come Sunday." ~ Scott Yanow

Clark Terry (trumpet)
Billy Strayhorn (piano)
Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax)
Britt Woodman (trombone)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Tyree Glenn (vibraphone)
Jimmy Woode (bass)
Sam Woodyard (drums)

1. C Jam Blues
2. In A Sentimental Mood
3. Cotton Tail
4. Just Squeeze Me (But Don't Tease Me)
5. Mood Indigo
6. Take the "A" Train
7. In A Mellow Tone
8. Come Sunday

Michel Legrand - Legrand Jazz (1958)

Worldwide famous for his movies soundtracks, Legrand is a jazz lover, and made several records in this genre. He won the respect of many jazzmen, for his recordings frequently have the participations of great names, like this one. One of his great friends was Miles Davis. Together, they made the soundtrack of an obscure movie, named Dingo. In this Legrand Jazz (1958) there are three different formations, ranging from 10 to 15 players.

Michel Legrand has spent most of his life as a composer in the studios and for films, but this release is a jazz classic. Legrand took 11 famous jazz compositions and arranged them for three different groups. Tenor great Ben Webster, flutist Herbie Mann, four trombonists, and a rhythm section perform pieces by Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Django Reinhardt ("Nuages"), and the Count Basie-associated "Blue and Sentimental." A big band with trumpeters Art Farmer and Donald Byrd and altoist Phil Woods plays "Stompin' at the Savoy," "A Night in Tunisia," and Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist." The most famous session has Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Phil Woods, Herbie Mann, pianist Bill Evans, harp, vibes, baritone, and a rhythm section performing music by Thelonious Monk, John Lewis, Jelly Roll Morton ("Wild Man Blues"), and Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz." Throughout this superlative album, the arrangements are colorful and unusual, making one wish that Legrand had recorded more jazz albums through the years. Review by Scott Yanow.

Tracks -
1- The Jitterbug Waltz (Waller)
2- Nuages (Reinhardt)
3- Night in Tunisia (Gillespie-Paparelli)
4- Blue and sentimental (David-Livingstone-Basie)
5- Stompin' at the Savoy (Goodman-Webb-Sampson)
6- Django (Lewis)
7- Wild man blues (Armstrong-Morton)
8- Rosetta (Woode-Hines)
9- 'Round midnight (Monk-Williams)
10- Don't get around much anymore (Russell-Ellington)
11- In a mist (Beiderbecke)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Michael Praetorius - Terpsichore Musarum

I make no pretence of being very knowledgeable about things like this; but I have always enjoyed the Praetorius brothers since I was introduced to their music by Harry Saltzman when I was in his class at Brooklyn College. He was a dick, but knew his subject well and respect must be shown. So, respectfully, I say he was a dick. I know less about the various performance groups, but I greatly enjoy this version. This and Nonaah have been in heavy rotation around here this week. Fans of John Renbourn will enjoy this, I think.

I think Saltzman said something about trumpets at this time being made of leather, or perhaps the mouthpieces? If we have any trumpet players or musicologists out there, I'd be interested in learning about this. We've seen jazz tuba, and jazz French horn, and this week I even saw a jazz whistler album; but where, I ask you, are the jazz sackbut or jazz zink players? What they hell are they teaching at Berklee if not that? Break out the crumhorns!

Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) was a German composer sitting in a unique historical position. He had little musical training and was largely self-taught, however he pursued that course with keen enthusiasm, and ended up producing the collections Terpsichore and Musæ Sionæ which are milestones in some ways. Terpsichore is like an encyclopedia of dance music, while Musæ Sionæ functions both as a summation of earlier Reformation psalm efforts as well as looking ahead somewhat to more Italian influenced styles.

1 - Les Gavottes & La Gilotte
2 - Passameze
3 - Gaillarde
4 - Bransles Gay 1 & 2
5 - Ballet
6 - Courante
7 - Philou
8 - Courante 2
9 - Ballet 2
10 - Bransle De La Torche
11 - Ballet De M. Guillaume
12 - Bransles Gay 1 & 3
13 - Ballet De M. Guillaume
14 - Ballet Des Anglois
15 - Gaillarde 2
16 - Courante 3
17 - Les Passepiedz De Bretaigne
18 - Passameze 2
19 - Gaillarde 3
20 - Bransles Simples 1 & 2
21 - Bransle De Montirande
22 - Bransles De Poitou
23 - Bransles Doubles 2 & 3
24 - Bransle Gentil
25 - Passameze Pour Les Cornetz
26 - La Rosette
27 - Courante
28 - Pavane De Spaigne
29 - Spagnoletta
30 - La Canarie
31 - La Bouree
32 - Ballet Des Coqs
33 - Voltes
34 - Courantes
35 - Ballet Des Sorciers
36 - Ballet Du Roy

Steve Lacy - The Gap

The Gap's title track, initiated with polyphonic quintet blasts followed by momentary silence, pronounces the tune and album's title, its harmonic nooks and crannies intentionally and randomly left for group exploration. With Steve Lacy are alto/soprano saxophonist Steve Potts, drummer Noel McGhie, cellist Irene Aebi - sans vocals - and bassist Kent Carter. From upper register overlapping flute-like saxophone parts to Carter and Aebi's dirge arco work, "Esteem" quickly becomes a harmonic well for intertwining reeds and polyrhythmic brushwork and drumming. The near-20 minute session centerpiece "The Thing" is where contemporary classical and chamber music meets free improv and jazz. The reissue's liners state, “Lacy is hardly lockable inside any stylistic drawer other than his own.” There is no better example than here - subtle pitch variations between the two string players and two horns create a multitude of possibilities, exploiting the gaps as a springboard into a unique musical universe. ~ Laurence Donohue-Greene

This certainly has to be just about as "outside" as Lacy ever played. Known for following his own path in jazz,these compositions are thought out to the extent that certain cues would be played and the pitch of the music would change. Sometimes two solos would be played at once with a bit of open space between. Other times the music would be more "conventional" and are open to merely free playing. This music is subtle with "breathing"spaces between the notes and passages. This music was recorded in Paris in 1972 and that certainly has something to do with the sound of the group. Besides Lacy,there is Steve Potts-soprano sax,Irene Aebi-cello,Kent Carter-double bass and Noel McGhie-drums. This is music of it's place and time-Lacy admitting that Paris had an influence on the group. Like many musicians during this time,Lacy was searching for "something else". This is dense,challenging music. Music that could tire one out. But its a good kind of tired. If you know Lacy and his work-look for this. If you are unfamiliar with his take on jazz be prepared to take a long journey-and wonder about this music and the people who played it. ~ Stuart Jefferson

Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Steve Potts (alto and soprano sax)
Irene Aebi (cello)
Kent Carter (bass)
Noel McGhie (drums)

1. Gap
2. Esteem
3. Motte-Picquet
4. Thing
5. Motte-Picquet (alt)

Paris: May, 1972

Clifford Brown - Brownie: The Complete EmArcy Recordings Of Clifford Brown CDs 1-4

Still ripping and upping the other 7 (there's an 11th minidisc bonus.) Artwork is complete, though.

This is the mother lode, 10 full discs of the great hard-bop trumpeter Clifford Brown recorded at the peak of his powers for Emarcy Records in 1954-56 leading up to his tragic death in a car crash at the age of 25. Start with his first quintet recordings with drummer Max Roach, pianist Richie Powell (Bud's younger brother), bassist George Morrow, and underrated tenor saxophonist Harold Land, including the great readings of "I Get a Kick Out of You" and the Brown originals "Daahoud" and "Joy Spring." Then it's on to the Clifford Brown All-Stars including Roach and saxophonists Herb Geller and Joe Main, then the huge All Star Live Jam Session with Geller, Land, trumpeters Clark Terry and Maynard Ferguson, and vocalist Dinah Washington. The vocal work continues with Brown's seminal albums with Sarah Vaughan and Helen Merrill, and the sensitivity Brown shows there comes full flower with his Clifford Brown with Strings, a rare example of a jazz-with-strings album that actually works, thanks to his beautiful phrasing on "Stardust" and others. Then it's back to the classic Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet, with Sonny Rollins eventually replacing Land in what's considered one of the all-time-great jazz ensembles. Brownie isn't a perfect package: It includes a ton of bonus tracks--that's a good thing, but the integrity of the original albums is lost. For example, disc 3 consists of three takes of "Coronado," 43 minutes in all. And of course while this 10-disc set is a great collection, any Brown lover still needs to pick up Sonny Rollins Plus Four and at least some of his Blue Note work--A Night at Birdland or, for gourmands, the perfect bookend to this set, the four-disc Complete Blue Note & Pacific Jazz Recordings. ~ David Horiuchi

Although undoubtedly an expensive acquisition, this ten-CD set is perfectly done and contains dozens of gems. The remarkable but short-lived trumpeter Clifford Brown has the second half of his career fully documented (other than his final performance) and he is showcased in a wide variety of settings. The bulk of the numbers are of Brownie's quintet with co-leader and drummer Max Roach, either Harold Land or Sonny Rollins on tenor, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow (including some previously unheard alternate takes), but there is also much more. Brown stars at several jam sessions (including a meeting with fellow trumpeters Clark Terry and Maynard Ferguson), accompanies such singers as Dinah Washington, Helen Merrill, and Sarah Vaughan, and is backed by strings on one date. Everything is here, including classic versions of "Parisian Thoroughfare," "Joy Spring," "Daahoud," "Coronado," a ridiculously fast "Move," "Portrait of Jenny," "Cherokee," "Sandu," "I'll Remember April," and "What Is This Thing Called Love?" Get this set while it stays in print. ~ Scott Yanow

Clifford Brown (trumpet)
Harold Land (tenor sax)
Paul Quinichette (tenor sax)
Walter Benton (tenor sax)
Dinah Washington (vocals)
Helen Merrill (vocals)
Sarah Vaughan (vocals)
Barry Galbraith (guitar)
Oscar Peterson (cello, bass instrument)
Herb Geller, Joe Maini (alto sax)
Clark Terry (trumpet)
Maynard Ferguson (trumpet)
Kenny Drew (piano)
Richie Powell (piano)
Curtis Counce (bass)
Max Roach (drums)
Osie Johnson (drums)
Roy Haynes (drums)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Billy Taylor - Dr. T (1992)

For Billy Taylor's GRP release, his longtime trio with bassist Victor Gaskin and drummer Bobby Thomas is joined by baritonist Gerry Mulligan on three of the ten numbers (including "Line for Lyons"). The first five selections are jazz standards (best are "I'll Remember April," "Line for Lyons" and "Cubano Chant") while the last five include two Taylor originals, the ballad "Who Can I Turn To," Oscar Peterson's obscure "Laurentide Waltz" and Mulligan's "Rico Apollo" which is surprisingly performed without the composer. Excellent music. - Scott Yanow

Billy Taylor (piano)
Victor Gaskin (bass)
Bobby Thomas (drums)
Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax on 2, 3 & 9)

  1. I'll Remember April
  2. 'Round Midnight
  3. Line for Lyons
  4. Cubano Chant
  5. Lush Life
  6. Who Can I Turn To?
  7. Laurentide Waltz
  8. You're Mine
  9. Just the Thought of You
  10. Rico Apollo

Hot Lips Page - 1944-1946 (Chronological 950)

One of the great swing trumpeters in addition to being a talented blues vocalist, Hot Lips Page's premature passing left a large hole in the jazz world; virtually all musicians (no matter their style) loved him. Page gained early experience in the 1920s performing in Texas, playing in Ma Rainey's backup band. He was with Walter Page's Blue Devils during 1928-1931, and then joined Bennie Moten's band in Kansas City in time to take part in a brilliant 1932 recording session. Page freelanced in Kansas City and in 1936 was one of the stars in Count Basie's orchestra but, shortly before Basie was discovered, Joe Glaser signed Hot Lips as a solo artist. Although Page's big band did alright in the late '30s (recording for Victor), if he had come east with Basie he would have become much more famous. Page was one of the top sidemen with Artie Shaw's orchestra during 1941-1942 and then mainly freelanced throughout the remainder of his career, recording with many all-star groups and always being a welcome fixture at jam sessions. ~ Scott Yanow

Always to be found smack in the middle of the hottest developments in jazz, Oran Thaddeus "Hot Lips" Page worked comfortably with both old-fashioned and modern young musicians during the mid-'40s. On November 30, 1944, Page's band included busy-fingered tenor man Lucky Thompson and a brilliant young pianist from Pontiac, MI, named Hank Jones. One week later, Page cut a couple of sides for V-Discs with an ensemble that sounded a lot like one of Eddie Condon's Town Hall traditional jam bands. "Sheik of Araby" is notable for Gordon "Specs" Powell's exceptional drumming. Page seems not to have recorded again until September 1945, once again in the company of younger guys with progressive ideas. "Happy Medium" and "Bloodhound" are full of modern moves. How interesting to hear Hank Jones as a young innovator. Saxophonists Dave Matthews and Earle Warren demonstrate how the art of swing stood at the crossroads of modernity in 1945. Contrary to what the discography says, there are no vocals on these two tracks. Dave Matthews sounds like Chu Berry and Don Byas. He shushes down to Ben Webster's level of suavity on "You Come In Here Woman," a misogynistic blues containing the line "Like the butcher told the goat, you've had your fun, now I'm cuttin' your throat." Just in case we don't get the picture, Lips puts his horn to his lips and quotes Chopin's funeral march for a nasty coda. Leonard Feather's "The Lady in Debt," a distant relative of "The Lady in Red," is also apparently a cousin to Page's 1944 enigma, "The Lady in Bed," which was yet another creation of Feather, who seems to have enjoyed writing topical blues novelties for Page. More material from September of 1945 places Page at the front of a larger band, fortified with Buck Clayton, three outstanding trombonists (Benny Morton, Sandy Williams, and J.C. Higginbotham), and three of the toughest saxophonists on the scene at that time (Don Byas, Ben Webster, and Earl Bostic). "Corsicana" cooks itself to a gravy. "They Raided the Joint" is funny if you like songs about alcohol poisoning and police raids. This CD's hottest sides from 1946 are without question "Kansas City Jive" and the rockin' "Birmingham Boogie," featuring Earl Bostic and a solid tenor player by the name of John Hartzfield. "Open the Door Richard" is very funny, beginning with Page's imitation of a drunken person being forcibly ejected from a party. The scenario eventually develops into a rowdy group vocal as Page's band eggs him on into a violent trumpet solo. In a premonition of later developments, Hot Lips distorts his voice into a higher-pitched version of what would eventually become a sandblasted contrabasso, lower than that of Louis Armstrong, closer in fact to Popeye's tonalities. By the early '50s, Hot Lips Page's voice could curdle milk and frighten pigeons. ~ arwulf arwulf

Hot Lips Page (trumpet)
Lucky Thompson (tenor sax)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Don Byas (tenor sax)
Hank Jones (piano)
Herb Ellis (guitar)
Bobby Hackett (cornet)
Johnny Guarnieri (piano)
Jack Teagarden (trombone)
Danny Barker (guitar)
Buck Clayton (trumpet)
Slam Stewart (bass)

1. Big D Blues
2. It Ain't Like That
3. Miss Martingale
4. Sheik Of Araby
5. Happy Medium
6. Bloodhound
7. I've Got The World On A String
8. You Come In Here Woman
9. Love, You Funny Thing
10. Lady In Debt
11. Corsicana
12. They Raided The Joint
13. Sunset Blues
14. Willie Mae Willow Foot
15. Florida Blues
16. Race Horse Mama Blues
17. Kansas City Jive
18. Buffalo Bill Blues
19. Open The Door, Richard
20. Texas And Pacific
21. Birmingham Boogie

Kenny Dorham - Scandia Story

Well, the Penguin review seems to be missing the point, I think. Let's just note that here are 2 albums worth of KD performing live at the end of 1963. With Tete Monteliu, f'chrissakes. And some other exceptionally capable sidemen. His previous studio work was Joe Henderson's early leader stuff and his own Una Mas; his next studio appearance would be with Eric Dolphy and others on Andrew Hill's Point Of Departure. No wonder critics keep using the word under-rated in regard to KD; they're the ones who under-rate him.

These were made about a fortnight apart in Copenhagen and they're pretty routine fare. Dorham sounds almost as if he was coasting on the earlier set and he and Ericson aren't sufficiently differentiated in sound to make it appealing. Montoliu is in cracking form on the later date and seems to revel in the relaxed atmosphere. A teeneaged NHØP shows what a pro he was becoming. Not essential items, but perfectly agreeable. ~ Penguin Guide

Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Tete Montoliu (piano)
Allan Botschinsky (flugelhorn)
Rolf Ericson (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass)
Alex Riel (drums)

CD 1
1. Solar
2. Woody'n You
3. Scandia Skies
4. Manha De Carnaval
5. It Could Happen To You

CD 2
1. Short Story
2. Bye Bye Blackbird
3. Manha De Carnaval
4. Touch Of Your Lips
5. My Funny Valentine

Henry Threadgill - Carry The Day

While various aesthetic wars have raged around him, Henry Threadgill has steadily built up an important body of innovative jazz. Despite scooping up poll plaudits and exciting critical fervor over the past 20 years, he remains one of America's bestkept cultural secrets, a condition that Columbia no doubt hopes to reverse with its recent signing of Threadgill.

His Columbia debut, Carry the Day, arrives with much expectation, but it's doubtful that Threadgill's dense, visionary and, to most ears, unorthodox ideas about musical organization will win him a place in America's living rooms. Déjà vu descends: Ten years ago, Threadgill, then high off the acclaim for his great Sextett albums on the About Time label, signed briefly with RCA/Novus before resuming his allotted place on the fringes. The commercial and/or corporate fate of Threadgill's new deal is impossible to second-guess, but it's safe to say that his marginalization over the years illustrates the gulf between art and hype in jazz.

Carry the Day continues the experimental yet ecstatic verve of Threadgill's earlier albums with the band he aptly calls Very Very Circus. As an improviser, he still projects a raw, intuitive energy, issuing both scruffy joy and antsy angst on alto sax and flute. But it is more the general features of his concept than the specifics of singular soloing that make Threadgill's music tick, an important difference in function from other modes of jazz that emphasize the heroism of the mighty soloist. Threadgill's Euro-African chamber avant jazz is all about supple shifts of meter and tonality, rumbling dins and roller-coaster energy, classical and quasi-cabaret sonorities, the fiendish criss-cross of guitars and tubas, thrumming South American percussion and other sundry ingredients woven together as if discontinuity didn't exist.

While it also contains new textures and balances, Carry the Day finds Threadgill up to his old tricks, describing an emotionally complex, ambivalent world. It opens with the simple chant of "Come Carty the Day," which gives way to harmonically restless slithering and a deceptive air of celebration. Following the musky dirge "Hyla Crucifer ... Silence Of," sung by Sentienla Toy, the album closes with the turbulent, splatter-painted eloquence of "Jenkins Boys Again, Wish Somebody Die, It's Hot." Make no mistake: As titles like these suggest, this isn't easy listening. It is music that continuously weaves in and out of self-generated configurations and resolutions.

Threadgill continues to make some of the finest noise under the rubric of jazz – if jazz can be considered a widely embracing, evolutionary art form instead of a calcified, retrogressive vocabulary. And if we accept the more adventurous definition, Threadgill may be the most important jazz musician alive. ~ Josef Woodard, Rolling Stone

Henry Threadgill (flute, bass flute, and alto sax)
Edwin Rodriguez (tuba)
Tony Cedras (accordion)
Brandon Ross (guitar)
Gene Lake (drums)

1. Come Carry the Day
2. Growing a Big Banana
3. Vivjanrondirkski
4. Between Orchids, Lilies, Blind Eyes and Cricket
5. Hyla Crucifer...Silence Of
6. Jenkins Boys Again, Wish Somebody Die, It's Hot

Friday, March 13, 2009

Billie Holiday - Vol. 12: 1942-1944 (Masters Of Jazz)

Volume 12 begins with Lady performing "Trav'lin Light" twice; one with Paul Whiteman and one with Red Allen. She then appears with an allstar band at the first Esquire concert, in which one can hear Louis Armstrong on "Billie's Blues"; supporting her are Art Tatum, Roy Eldridge, and Coleman Hawkins amongst others. This was her most prestigious venue to date, and these recordings are survivors of the recording ban that was in place. Present at that date was Jack Teagarden, who was also present at Billie's first date back in '33. Several of the musicians had recorded with her previously, notably Roy Eldridge who was with Lady at no less than eight sessions; but here is the first recording with someone Billie - and every other musician of the time - greatly admired: Art Tatum.

The following 13 tunes, comprised of 4 songs, are Billie's initial Commodore dates and mark her involvement with Milt Gabler, who knew and valued Billie Holiday for what she was: the premier jazz stylist of her century.

Billie Holiday (vocal)
Henry "Red" Allen (trumpet)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Art Tatum (piano)
Doc Cheatham (trumpet)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
John Kirby (bass)
Big Sid Catlett (drums)
Cozy Cole (drums)

1. Trav'lin' Light
2. Trav'lin' Light
3. Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
4. Billie's Blues
5. I'll Get By
6. How Am I To Know?
7. How Am I To Know?
8. How Am I To Know?
9. How Am I To Know? (master take)
10. My Old Flame
11. My Old Flame
12. My Old Flame (master take)
13. My Old Flame
14. I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)
15. I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)
16. I Cover The Waterfront
17. I Cover The Waterfront
18. I Cover The Waterfront
19. I Cover The Waterfront
20. You Go To My Head

Andrew Hill - Grass Roots

Even though the Blue Note label has a fanatic, at times, following - or perhaps because of it - one often sees claims that something is missing tracks, or that it was in the vaults too long, and so on; but this Connoisseur really gets it right. Not only can we observe the some of the same tunes performed at different points in time, but the two line-ups are both powerhouse groups.

As the '60s drew to a close, Blue Note spent less time than ever with adventurous music, since it didn't sell as well as soul-jazz or mainstream hard bop. So, it may seem a little strange that the label invited Andrew Hill back to record in 1968, two years after he last cut a session for the label. Hill's work for the label stands among the most challenging cerebral post-bop of the '60s, but there was another side of Hill that wasn't showcased on those records: He also had a knack for groove and melody, as indicated by his composition "The Rumproller," a hard-grooving hard-bop classic made famous by trumpeter Lee Morgan. That was the side that Blue Note wanted to showcase on Grass Roots. Hill and his band were working from the basic template of making a commercial hard-bop album, but nevertheless pushed themselves to challenging territory. Blue Note sat on the session however, and Hill went back to the studio four months later with a new group of musicians: trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Freddie Waits. This group was every bit as adventurous as the last, but they laid down a solid groove without compromising the music. The end result may not be as bracing as Hill's earlier works, but it's a pleasure to hear him in such a genial, welcoming mood. Furthermore, the record is hardly insubstantial musically -- the songs have strong melodies, even hooks, to bring casual listeners in, but they give the musicians the freedom to find a distinctive voice in their solos. It's the best of both worlds, actually -- accessible, just like Blue Note wanted, without compromising Hill's integrity. [Blue Note's 2000 CD reissue contains the entire first draft of the album as a bonus.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Andrew Hill (piano)
Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Booker Ervin (tenor sax)
Ron Carter (bass)
Freddie Waits (drums)
Van Gelder Studios: August 5, 1968

Andrew Hill (piano)
Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Frank Mitchell (tenor sax)
Jimmy Ponder (guitar)
Reggie Workman (bass)
Idris Muhammad (drums)
Van Gelder Studios: April 19, 1968

1. Grass Roots
2. Venture Inward
3. Mira
4. Soul Special
5. Bayou Red
6. MC
7. Venture Inward (first version)
8. Soul Special (first version)
9. Bayou Red (first version)
10. Love Nocturne

Michael Murray - J.S. Bach Organ Works

Please enjoy three discs featuring spectacular recordings of Bach organ works performed by Michael Murray, done in the late 1970's and early 1980's (the infancy of the digital era) for the Telarc label.

The Telarc name was legendary for its sound quality and its minimalist miking techniques and were considered a benchmark for sonics when CD's were first being pressed. Many of their classical titles were utilized for system demonstration discs in high-end audio showrooms. In fact, that is where I first heard one of these Bach selections. Scoredaddy

Michael Murray during the 70s, 80s, and 90s was one of the most widely acclaimed American-born organists in the world. Murray studied at Butler University and the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, before private study with Marcel Dupré in Paris. (He was the last important student of Dupré, of whom he would later write a biography.) During the 1968-69 performance season, Murray performed the complete organ works of Bach in a series of twelve recitals in Cleveland. He later commemorated the 150th birthday of César Franck by playing that composer's complete organ works in 1972. He repeated the cycle for the hundredth anniversary of Franck's death (1990, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Murray's performances have included nearly every major city in North America, with numerous appearances as a soloist with major orchestras. Critics hailed Murray's rare combination of technique, thoughtfulness, and musical feeling.

Murray has written many articles and has published four books. His Marcel Dupré: The Work of a Master Organist (Northeastern University Press, ISBN 0-930350-65-0) is in its third printing. He has also written French Masters of the Organ (Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-07291-0) and served as editor for A Jacques Barzun Reader (HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-093542-1). He has made many recordings on the Telarc label, featuring the works of Bach, Franck, Saint-Saëns, and others.

Murray is now retired from concert performing and recording, and is the assistant organist at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio. He has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Ohio State University.

I know that this is not typical repertoire for this jazz-oriented site, but I hope a few of you will "take the plunge" and sample some of this timeless music. Most of you will recognize Bach's justly famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, heard in films and in Stokowski's widely-heard arrangement for full orchestra. The other pieces are equally as stirring... this is music for the ages. Enjoy

MICHAEL MURRAY: The Great Organ at Metheun
1. Fantasia and Fugue, for organ in G minor ("Great"), BWV 542 11:30
2. Toccata and Fugue, for organ in F major, BWV 540 8:16
3. Passacaglia and Fugue, for organ in C minor, BWV 582 14:35
4. Vater unser im Himmelreich (IV), chorale prelude for organ, BWV 737 2:24
5. Alle Menschen müssen sterben (I), chorale prelude for organ (Orgel-Büchlein No. 45), BWV 643 2:27
Michael Murray, Organ
Recorded in Metheun Memorial Hall, Metheun, Massachusetts on June 22-23, 1979

MICHAEL MURRAY: The Organs at First Congregational Church, Los Angeles
1. Toccata and Fugue, for organ in D minor, BWV 565 8:30
Concerto for solo organ No. 2 in A minor (after Vivaldi Op. 3/8, RV 522), BWV 593 11:25
2. Allegro (3:53)
3. Adagio (3:58)
4. Allegro (4:14)
5. Prelude and Fugue, for organ in B minor, BWV 544 13:32
6. Prelude and Fugue, for organ in D major ("Little"), BWV 532 11:54
Michael Murray, Organ
Recorded at First Congregational Church, Los Angeles on May 30, 1983

MICHAEL MURRAY: At St. Andreas-Kirche, Hildesheim
1. Prelude and Fugue, for organ in C minor, BWV 546 13:01
2. Prelude and Fugue, for organ in G major, BWV 541 8:58
3. Prelude and Fugue, for organ in A minor "The Great," BWV 543 10:39
4. Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, for organ in C major, BWV 564 15:42
5. Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (V), chorale prelude for organ, BWV 731 3:07
6. Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn (I), chorale prelude for organ (Orgel-Büchlein No. 3), BWV 601 1:56
7. Christe, du Lamm Gottes, chorale prelude for organ (Orgel-Büchlein No. 21), BWV 619 1:03
8. Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn (I), chorale prelude for organ (Orgel-Büchlein No. 32), BWV 630 1:40
Michael Murray, Organ
Recorded at St. Andreas-Kirche, Hildesheim on August 21-22, 1985

Dave Brubeck Quartet - The 1965 Canadian Concert

The Dave Brubeck Quartet (with altoist Paul Desmond, bassist Eugene Wright, and drummer Joe Morello) is in excellent form for this typical program from the mid-'60s. In addition to standards such as "St. Louis Blues," "Tangerine," and "These Foolish Things," they perform Brubeck's originals "Cultural Exchange" and "Koto Song" along with a brief version of "Take Five." This LP is worth searching for.
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

The most famous incarnation of the Dave Brubeck Quartet was formed in 1957, with Paul Desmond on alto sax, and the addition of drummer Joe Morello and bassist Eugene Wright. This rare concert was recorded during a live 1965 performance in Ontario, Canada, during the Strattford Music Festival, and professionally taped from a radio broadcast. CD includes 4 bonus tracks taken from an extremely rare 1962 TV broadcast featuring the same group.

01 St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) (11:19)
02 Take the 'A' Train (Billy Strayhorn) (8:23)
03 Cultural Exchange (Dave Brubeck, Iola Brubeck) (6:54)
04 Tangerine (Johnny Mercer, Victor Schertzinger) (6:46)
05 Someday My Prince Will Come (Frank Churchill, Larry Morey) (5:11)
06 These Foolish Things (Link, Marvell, Maschwitz, Strachey) (10:55)
07 Koto Song (Dave Brubeck) (5:01)
08 Take Five [Incomplete] (Paul Desmond) (1:50)
09 St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) (5:41)
10 Nomad (Dave Brubeck) (6:12)
11 Thank You [Dziekuje] (Dave Brubeck) (5:51)
12 Brandenburg Gate [Incomplete] (Dave Brubeck) (4:30)

Dave Brubeck (Piano)
Paul Desmond (Alto Sax)
Joe Morello (Drums)
Eugene Wright (Bass)

(1-8) Recorded live at the Strattford Music Festival, Ontario, Canada on August 22, 1965

(9-12) Recorded at KQED TV, New York on January 14, 1962

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Marvin 'Hannibal' Peterson - Children Of The Fire

Trumpet and koto player Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson has led a reclusive career in jazz since the early '70s, when he first started making albums. A free jazz player in the style of Don Cherry with the metallic tone of Freddie Hubbard, Peterson is widely unknown even to the most diehard jazz fans. His low profile is strange given that he played with popular artists like Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones and was a regular member of Gil Evans' big band from '72 to '81.

On his recently reissued first album, Children of the Fire (Sunrise, 1974), Peterson takes his Sunrise Orchestra deep into jazz-classical territory, making his music sound like the Third Stream of Charles Mingus and Gil Evans.

Children of the Fire is a suite in five movements, beginning with "Forest Sunrise," a magical segment of bird-sounding whistles and string arrangements in front of a percussion backdrop. The second part of the movement, "Rhythm Ritual," starts off with the orchestra but then breaks into a straightahead but funky rhythm by drummer Billy Hart, bassist Richard Davis and pianist Michael Cochrane. Peterson then enters with a fiery blues solo that recalls the big fusion band sound of electric Miles.

Peterson composed all of the music on Children of the Fire, including the poetry on the spiritual hymn "Song of Life," sung by Waheeda Massey. The music and poems on the album were dedicated to the children of Vietnam during the tail end of the war in Southeast Asia. The highlight of the album is the fourth movement, "The Aftermath," which has a rapid and colorful drum solo by Billy Hart and a long free bop solo by Peterson that is encouraged by the spontaneous trio of Hart, Davis, and Cochrane.

Children of the Fire is an excellent snapshot of where fusion was headed during the early '70s. Electric jazz-rock, injected with heavy doses of classicism, was made popular by the Mahavishnu Orchestra during this time. But the underground Sunrise Orchestra delivers the goods, mixing hard bop and abstract jazz with a Far Eastern spirituality. ~ Aaron Rogers

"Hannibal" M. Peterson (trumpet, koto)
Michael Cochrane (piano)
Richard Davis (bass)
Billy Hart (drums)
David Amram (conductor)

1. Movement 1: Forest Sunrise
2. Movement 1: Rhythm Ritual
3. Movement 1: Song of Life
4. Movement 2: The Bombing/Prelude
5. Movement 3: Prayer
6. Movement 4: Aftermath/The Ascending of the Soul
7. Movement 5: Finale

VIDEO: McCoy Tyner All-Stars at Antibes

Check out this lineup and you'll know the meaning of "All-Stars":

McCoy Tyner
Freddie Hubbard
Joe Henderson
Woody Shaw
Avery Sharpe
Louis Hayes

A 2-part film by Jean-Christophe Averty, from a series that was presented on French A2 television way back when, this concert is from the 1986 XXVIIième edition of the festival held yearly at Antibes Juan-les-Pins, "Jazz à Juan"

Jimmy Lyons - Give It Up

On Give It Up, Lyons seems quite content to remain within the confines of the group. Significantly pianoless and with only a rather secondary role for the bassist and drummer, it resolves into a series of high, intermeshed lines from the saxophone and horn, with the bassoon tracing a sombre counterpoint. Karen Borca's role might have been clearer were she not so close in timbre to Jay Oliver's bass, but it's worth concentrating for a moment on what she is doing; the effect is broadly similar to what Dewey Redman used to do behind Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. ... Only on the brief, uncharacteristic 'Ballada' with which the album ends, does Lyons occupy the foreground. It's immediately clear that his his fey, slightly detached tone doesn't entail an absence of feeling; the closing track is a sad monument to an undervalued career that had little more than a year left to run. ~ Penguin Guide

Altoist Jimmy Lyons spent most of his career as a member of Cecil Taylor's Units. For his own projects, it is not too surprising that he chose not to utilize a piano; who could fill in for C.T.? On these occasions, Lyons often teamed up with the adventurous bassoonist Karen Borca, and for this set their quartet (with bassist Jay Oliver and drummer Paul Murphy) is joined by the lyrical trumpet of Enrico Rava. They stretch out on four of Lyons' emotional originals; the ensemble work is frequently exciting; and the front line boasts three distinctive and rather different (but complementary) solo voices. Highly recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Jimmy Lyons (alto sax)
Enrico Rava (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Karen Borca (bassoon)
Jay Oliver (bass)
Paul Murphy (drums)

1. Give It Up
2. Methods
3. Never
4. Ballada

Gunther Schuller - Journey Into Jazz (2008)

What might seem the most innocuous music is often the most avant-garde, the most challenging; the spark that forces the question of what defines the boundaries of jazz. Gunther Schuller's "Journey Into Jazz," composed in 1962, is just that: a children's narrative, telling the story of one Eddie Jackson, "a boy who learned about jazz," a communal mode of music-making that is free, ostensibly, of all the restraints that come with genre labels. Though the piece is over 40 years old, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project's recording captures Schuller's strong aesthetic statement about the "third stream" of jazz and its staying power throughout history—with its composer narrating.

"Journey Into Jazz" walks a fine line between simplicity and didacticism. Described by Leonard Bernstein (among others) as "a sort of 'Peter and the Wolf' of Jazz," it seems simple: a young boy has a hunger for music, picks up the trumpet and eventually discovers that music need not be notated, that it can be free-flowing, stemming from raw emotion. Yet the music that accompanies the narration, written by Nat Hentoff, seems slightly static: made legible for even the youngest ears, classical and jazz are rendered into crystallizations of their mass-market definitions. Though the playing and recording quality of this album are undoubtedly high, they cannot escape the constraints of the self-ascribed "third stream" genre, stuck literally between European and African musical traditions. Reduced to its most basic argument, Schuller's children's narrative also brings the music down to its essentials, reducing both other streams to overly simplistic, often bland passages.

The other two pieces on this album, "Variats" and "Concertino," both scored for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra, come closer to Amiri Baraka's (then LeRoi Jones') demand of third stream music, that the "techniques [of jazz and classical music] be used and not canonized." All three are pieces full of contradictions, which make them some of the most interesting compositions of the '50s and late '60s: they struggle to reconcile composition and improvisation, not perfectly, but resoundingly musically. Ted Gordon

The three works recorded herewith belong to a genre of music known as "Third Stream," a style, a concept, conceived in the late 1950's which sought to bring together the two mainstream musics of the time: jazz and classical. It was a time when these two quite different musical languages were still living in totally different worlds. Very active for already more than a decade as a composer, performer, and writer/critic in both stylistic arenas, I began to suggest that there really were more commonalities between the two musical idioms than dissimilarities, and that it was high-time that a rapproachment between the two musical-linguistic concepts be initiated. Not ony had enough time passed to bring about a great understanding and respect for each other's music on both sides of the stylistic fence, but that it was also now high-time to bring improvisation, the heart and soul of jazz, into the creative equation.

All three works presented here are written for variously sized symphony orchestras and soloistically functioning jazz groups. In the case of Concertino and Variants it is a jazz quartet (originally the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet) and for Journey into Jazz a quintet consisting of trumpet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass, and drums. Gunther Schuller

Variants For Jazz Quartet And Orchestra (1964) 18:38
1. Introduction
2. Variant I
3. Variant II
4. Variant III
5. Variant IV
6. Variant V
7. Finale

Edwin Schuller, bass
George Schuller, drums
Tom Beckham, vibes
Tim Ray, piano
Recorded on January 19, 2004 at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA

8. Journey Into Jazz (1962) For Narrator And Jazz Quintet 20:33
Gunther Schuller, narrator
Edwin Schuller, bass
George Schuller, drums
David Ballou, trumpet
Jason Hunter, tenor saxophone
Matt Dariau, alto saxophone
Recorded on February 25, 2002 at Regis College, Weston, MA

Concertino For Jazz Quartet And Orchestra (1959) 19:05
9. I. Slow
10. II. Passacaglia
11. III. Fast

Edwin Schuller, bass
George Schuller, drums
Tom Beckham, vibes
Bruce Barth, piano
Recorded on October 10, 1999 at Jordan Hall

Boston Modern Orchestra Project conducted by Gil Rose

Paul Simon - Songs from The Capeman (1997)

There is a tendency among rock and pop performers, as they progress through their career, to move into more -- as they used to day -- "legit" music forms. Among the rockers who have written for classical orchestra are Paul McCartney, Joe Jackson and Billy Joel, who recently announced his intent to move entirely into the classical realm. This week we have an example of one of pop music's most respected songwriters venturing into a theatrical production, but unlike many others who have attempted to jump genres, he does it without really changing his style -- at least on this recording.

Paul Simon has just released Songs from the Capeman, music from a Broadway production scheduled to debut in January. Giving it even more of a prestigious imprimatur is his collaboration with prize-winning poet Derek Walcott on the lyrics.

After his success in the 1960s with Simon and Garfunkel, a duo which helped to define the folk-rock sound of the era, Simon has been releasing infrequent but much-anticipated records, almost all being innovative in some way, especially in choice of musicians with whom he has collaborated. His 1986 album Graceland introduced American audiences to contemporary African sounds, and he did more or less the same thing with Brazilian styles on The Rhythm of the Saints.

It was around the time of that record, six years ago, that Simon said he got the idea for this production. The music is based on what he calls a "sensational 1959 news story in New York," during Simon's teen years. It was a gang-related killing that has racial and ethnic tensions as a backdrop, in a reminder of who little things seem to have changed. It involves one Salvador Agron who was a member of a Puerto Rican gang called The Vampires, who were on their way to a confrontation with an Irish gang called the Norsemen, when a rumble broke out and two teenaged innocent bystanders were stabbed to death. Witnesses described Agron as a "tall Puerto Rican wearing a cape." Thus he was called the Capeman. He was convicted and sentenced to death at age 16, but his sentence was commuted after pleas for mercy from prominent citizens including Eleanor Roosevelt. He was later released from prison after serving twenty years, apparently as a model prisoner, getting an education and becoming a political activist, before dying of natural causes in 1986 at the age of 43.

Simon was drawn to the story, which suggested a musical setting of 1950s styles and Latin rhythms, which were a part of his own formative years. He began collaborating with Walcott in 1993 to write a musical which became The Capeman.

This CD is interesting in that it is not an original cast recording in the traditional sense. There are some members of the Broadway cast, but Simon performs most of the songs himself, taking on various roles. But there are also other voices who appear doing lead vocals, most notably Marc Anthony, and there is a notable cameo appearance by Ruben Blades. Most of the musicians are Latin jazz players based in New York, such as pianist Oscar Harnandez and drummer Robbie Ameen. The styles on the CD range from doo-wop acapella to rockabilly to salsa to jazzy. The 55-minute CD features thirteen songs from the more than thirty that are to appear in the stage production, hence the title Songs from The Capeman. Interspersed in the CD are snippets of old news interviews with Agron.

Though Simon tried a set of related songs on his largely unsuccessful One Trick Pony, Songs from the Capeman has a very good "book" as they say in the musical theater. The story develops well, and is nicely done on the CD, though Simon includes uncharacteristically coarse language in the lyrics. There's also some racial epithets in what is at its core, a rather gritty story.

The songs explore both the young gang-banger Salvador and an older, more "rehumanized" version of the same character, in some instances speaking to each other. The gangsters' mother, whom Simon met and interviewed in his research for the CD, along with the mothers of the victims are also portrayed in the lyrics, as are other gang members, girlfriends and even a jailer who thought it unfair that Agron should receive in education in prison. The result makes for satisfying listening, -- music that tells a several sides of a story well, and does it in a manner unlike the what one would expect to hear on Broadway.

The CD begins with a piece called Adios Hermanos, sung as an acapella doo-wop song. It incorporates a dialogue between the older Salvador recalling his trial, and the younger version, the gang member. It effectively sets up the storyline.

That leads into one of the album's best pieces from a musical standpoint. Born in Puerto Rice is classic Paul Simon, the world-musician, tastefully incorporating Latin influences, while providing a kind of early musical biography of Salvador Agron.

It's doo-wop acapella for the following track Satin Summer Nights sung by Marc Anthony, taking the part of the young Salvador recalling pleasant romantic memories. Bernadette is another love song, sung by Simon, in a style recalling Fifties rock and with a hint of jazziness. Salvador's initiation into his gang is the basis for the track called The Vampires, done as a tasty slow salsa.
One of the most lyrically powerful compositions on the CD is Can I Forgive Him. Interestingly, it's a solo acoustic demo Simon recorded in his home. The lyrics are a dialogue among Agron's mother and his those of his victims.

Once Agron is imprisoned, he pursues an education there, and that causes some ambivalence among the inmates and one of the guards. A short piece called Killer Wants to Go to College, tells the story in a Fifties rock setting. A prison guard named Virgil in the song of the same name is resentful of Agron's studies in prison, especially when Virgil cannot afford to send his own kids to college.

Time Is an Ocean is a dialogue between the younger Salvador and his older counterpart, with Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades singing the respective parts, in another nice Salsa arrangement. The album ends with Trailways Bus, with the main character having been released and on his way to freedom in Texas, but finding discrimination from the border patrol.
Paul Simon's new CD Songs from The Capeman is an outstanding effort from one of our best songwriters. His first full-blown venture into musical theater, the CD is an interesting cross between a new solo album by Simon and a cast recording of the Broadway production. As usual, the musicianship is first-rate, and Simon's own performance is very understated, sometimes almost dispassionately telling the story of crime, violence and ethnic divisions, unbroadcastable language and all.

Simon and his literary collaborator Derek Walcott have created a nice new twist on an old plot line that goes back to West Side Story, in this case based on real people and events. Drawing on the sounds of the late 1950s, including doo-wop and the Latin American sounds that were part of the Puerto Rican characters background, and with lyrics that skillfully tell the story without the need for a lot of explanation, the CD is one of Simon's most artistically successful works yet, and destined to be another classic in his career -- though there's nothing like a pop hit song to be found on the record.

In our weekly sound-quality grade, we'll give the CD an "A." The mix is excellent and captures everything well, but dynamic range is restricted a bit by the usual compression in mastering that is typical of major-label CD releases.

Forty years after the release of his first hit record, Hey Schoolgirl with Art Garfunkel as "Tom & Jerry," Paul Simon has created a fascinating new work in Songs from the Capeman, turning his attention to writing for Broadway, but in the process creating a worthy new recording that reflects his own distinctive style. George Graham

1.: Adios Hermanos
2.: Born In Puerto Rico
3.: Satin Summer Nights
4.: Bernadette
5.: Vampires
6.: Quality
7.: Can I Forgive Him
8.: Sunday Afternoon
9.: Killer Wants To Go To College
10.: Time Is An Ocean
11.: Virgil
12.: Killer Wants To Go To College II
13.: Trailways Bus

Recorded at The Hit Factory, New York City

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Art Blakey - Ritual

Interesting, uneven '57 date that contains a lengthy drum piece by Blakey. This was not his greatest group, although alto saxophonist Jackie McLean was among the hardest blowers he ever employed. Bassist Spanky Debrest and trumpeter Bill Hardman were good musicians, but a notch below the others who filled their roles in future Messenger editions. ~ Ron Wynn

1957 was a prolific year for Art Blakey, the volcanic drummer and leader of the Jazz Messengers. The Messengers were one of jazz’s most-noted and longest-running collectives, and young musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Woody Shaw, Keith Jarrett, and Wynton Marsalis all pulled tours of duty with the group, sometimes called “the hardbop academy.” Its bop-and-funk-driven history stretches from the late 1940s to the beginning of the 1990s; the lesser-known 1957 edition included saxophonists Jackie McLean and Johnny Griffin, as well as trumpeter Bill Hardman, whose chemistry with McLean one writer described as “beautiful, tart…their brash, peppery tones created a distinctive front-line sound.”

Blakey recorded a myriad of albums in 1957 for various labels, including Columbia, Bethlehem, RCA, and Pacific Jazz, resulting in one of his most diverse years on record.

Art Blakey (drums)
Bill Hardman (trumpet)
Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Sam Dockery (piano)
Spanky DeBrest (bass)

1. Little T.
2. Exhibit A
3. Scotch Blues
4. Once Upon A Groove
5. Sam's Tune
6. Touche
7. Wake Up!
8. Art Blakey's Comments On Ritual
9. Ritual

New York: January 14 and February 11, 1957

Slide Hampton & the JazzMasters - Dedicated to Diz (1993)

The JazzMasters was a natural evolution of Dizzy's United Nation Orchestra and Diamond Jubilee sessions. Slide Hampton, who mastered the art of arranging for a "little" big band while working with Maynard Ferguson's 13-piece band in the late fifties, put this group together and did all of the arrangements. He always seems to come up with some fresh ideas in this medium even with the well-worn pieces on this CD. Perhaps of greater interest is the soloing power of this all-star lineup. They were obviously having a lot of fun at this live concert from the Village Vanguard.

Trombonist/arranger Slide Hampton pays tribute to the recently deceased Dizzy Gillespie during a collection mostly consisting of Dizzy's compositions. Hampton utilizes "The Jazz Masters," an all-star medium-size group also including trumpeters Jon Faddis, Roy Hargrove and Claudio Roditi, himself and Steve Turre on trombones, bass trombonist Douglas Purviance, the reeds of David Sanchez, Antonio Hart and Jimmy Heath, pianist Danilo Perez, bassist George Mraz and drummer Lewis Nash. Although there is a certain amount of predictability in their treatments of such tunes as "Bebop," "Tour De Force" and "A Night In Tunisia" (and "Overture" after a few song quotes becomes "Blue & Boogie"), the remarkable lineup of musicians cannot be passed over lightly. - Scott Yanow

Jon Faddis, Roy Hargrove, Claudio Roditi (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Slide Hampton, Steve Turre, Douglas Purviance (trombone)
Antonio Hart (alto, soprano sax)
Jimmy Heath (tenor sax)
David Sanchez (tenor, soprano sax, flute)
Danilo Perez (piano)
George Mraz (bass)
Lewis Nash (drums)
  1. Overture: Con Alma/Ow/Bebop/I Waited for You/Blue 'n' Boogie
  2. San Sebastian
  3. Lover Man
  4. Bebop
  5. Diddy Wah Diddy
  6. Tour de Force
  7. A Night in Tunisia
  8. Ow! (Outro)
Recorded at the Village Vanguard, February 6-7, 1993


Ben Webster - The Jeep Is Jumping

"Vintage Ben from a place he loved to play in, with men he could trust. The rhythm section do little other than to frame the great sound, but that's what we've come to hear." ~ Penguin Guide

One of four Ben Webster Black Lion CDs from 1965, this is the only one on which he is matched with other horn players. The great tenor interacts engagingly with trumpeter Arnved Meyer's mainstream quintet, with the resulting music sometimes a bit reminiscent of Duke Ellington's small-group recordings of the 1930s. In addition to his warm versions of "Nancy with the Laughing Face," "My Romance" and "Days of Wine and Roses," it is a pleasure to hear Webster romping on "Stompy Jones" and "The Jeep Is Jumping" over 20 years after he originally left Ellington's band. ~ Scott Yanow

Ben Webster (tenor sax)
John Darville (trombone)
Arnved Meyer (trumpet)
Niels Jorgen Steen (piano)
Mindyer Saladson (sneezgaard)
Henrik Hartmann (bass)
Hugo Rasmussen (bass)
Hans Nymand (drums)

1. Stompy Jones
2. Blue Light
3. Brother John's Blues
4. Nancy (With the Laughing Face)
5. Duke's In Bed
6. My Romance
7. What's I'm Gotchere?
8. Days of Wine and Roses
9. Jeep Is Jumpin'

Ben Webster - At The Renaissance

This live set features tenor great Ben Webster playing with pianist Jimmy Rowles, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Red Mitchell, and drummer Frank Butler in a club, and the music is consistently wonderful. Whether showing warmth and sentimentality on "Georgia on My Mind" and "Stardust" or growling and roaring on "Caravan" and "Ole Miss Blues," Webster (who was then somewhat taken for granted) is in superior and creative form. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

"At The Renaissance finds Webster in unusual company and, while Rowles reads him like a good book, the others sometimes sound a little too smartly present and correct. "Gone With The Wind", though, is a beauty." ~ Penguin Guide

Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Jimmy Rowles (piano)
Jim Hall (guitar)
Red Mitchell (bass)
Frank Butler (drums)

1. Gone With The Wind
2. Stardust
3. Caravan
4. Georgia On My Mind
5. Ole Miss Blues
6. Mop Mop
7. What Is This Thing Called Love
8. Renaissance Blues

VIDEO: Jon Hendricks - Back to Normandie

Jon Hendricks - Back to Normandie Concert

A French film by Jean-Marie Boulet of a concert given in memoriam of the Normandie invasion 60 years before. Jon Hendricks, who took part in the invasion, is joined by his daughter Michele in June 2004.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Woody Shaw - The Master Of The Art

Recorded at the same live session that resulted in Night Music, this LP features trumpeter Woody Shaw's excellent quintet of the 1980s, a group also including trombonist Steve Turre, pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Stafford James and drummer Tony Reedus, plus guest vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. Still very much in prime form at the time, Shaw performs Walter Davis, Jr.'s "400 Years Ago Tomorrow," Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso," the standard "Diane" and one of his best-known originals "Sweet Love Of Mine." In addition, the album concludes with a brief interview during which the trumpeter mostly talks about the recording. This excellent outing will be difficult to find but is worth searching for, as is Night Music. ~ Scott Yanow

In late 1980, Woody formed his second working quintet, featuring Steve Turre, Mulgrew Miller, Stafford James, and Tony Reedus. This group disbanded in July, 1983 ... Master of the Art is fairly good, but uneven. Woody's solo on "Misterioso" is a standout.

Night Music sounds like performances not originally deemed worthy of inclusion on Master of the Art ... Woody himself admits he is not particularly proud of either of these albums in a Coda interview: "some of the cuts were really not worthy of release".

Woody Shaw (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Steve Turre (trombone)
Bobby Hutcherson (vibes)
Mulgrew Miller (piano)
Stafford James (bass)
Tony Reedus (drums)

1. 400 Years Ago Tomorrow
2. Diane
3. Misterioso
4. Sweet Love Of Mine
5. An Interview With Woody Shaw

New York: February 25, 1982

John Lee Hooker-if you miss 'im ..i got 'im 1969 ..Lp FLAC rip

Here's a great J.L Hooker album,that is a personal favourite of mine!this is almost up there with the double LP 'Hooker 'n heat' from the following year... it's sort of Hookers 'electric mud' less psychedelic though .. and mostly laid back with only a few faster pieces that rock ferociously hard...

Ripped from the original vinyl which sounds better to my ear than (a friends) bgo cd reissue from a few years back... what a sterile cold and artificially bright sounding thing...that was.

BW LP 6038 If You Miss 'Im...I Got 'Im (Bluesway BLS 6038, 1970)

John Lee Hooker vocals; guitar
Jeffrey Carp harmonica on 01-08
Johnny "Big Moose" Walker piano/organ
Earl Hooker guitar
Paul Asbell guitar on 04, 09
Chester "Gino" Skaggs bass
Roosevelt Shaw drums
Recorded: Vault Recordings, Los Angeles, May 29th, 1969

relating this to RH's post about sound quality ..this i think is a great example of the LP sounding much better than a CD reissue(a poorly remastered one at that ) .. anyone got the BGO cd ?
..might make an instructive comparison ....
i hate the way most contemporary pop /rock ..even jazz and improv albums , are recorded digitally .. i'll take a reel to reel recorder with a great mic anytime!

new link added .14/03/09

John Lewis - Original Sin and Essence

Another of the Collectables John Lewis series; they seem to have the most comprehensive reissue series of this ambitious musician. Original Sin is an original ballet score composed and conducted by John Lewis and was released as Atlantic 1370 in 1961. Essence features the compositions and arrangements of Gary McFarland and was released as Atlantic 1425 in 1964.

"Original Sin comes across stiff." True on so many levels.

This Collectables reissue pairs up two albums by pianist, arranger, and Modern Jazz Quartet musical director John Lewis. Original Sin was Lewis' second experiment with a symphony orchestra. This ballet was originally performed in 1961 at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco, CA, with the libretto provided by beat poet Kenneth Rexroth based on Adam and Eve. Without the added excitement that improvisation could have provided, Original Sin comes across stiff. On the other hand, Essence, released in 1964, allows space for improvising around the charts provided by vibraphonist Gary McFarland. Arranged by Lewis, it featuring an array of jazz greats including Eric Dolphy, Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Jimmy Giuffre, and Jim Hall. Both sessions have their moments, but Essence is the main attraction on this disc. ~ Al Campbell

John Lewis (piano)
Eric Dolphy (alto flute, alto sax)
Jimmy Giuffre (baritone sax)
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)
Jim Hall (guitar)
Benny Golson (tenor sax)
George Duvivier (bass)
Connie Kay (drums)

Original Sin
1. Creation Of The World & Creation Of Adam
2. Introduction
3. Zebra, Lion, Camel [Variant 1]
4. Walrus, Ape [Variant II]
5. Lamb, Leopard [Variant III]
6. Rabbit, Skunk, Fox [Variant IV]
7. Mountain Sheep, Deer [Variant V]
8. Finale
9. Birth Of Eve
10. Adam And Eve Pas de Deux
11. Teaching And Temptation
12. Expulsion From The Garden Of Eden

1. Hopeful Encounter
2. Tillamook Two
3. Night Float
4. Notions Lewis
5. Another Encounter
6. Wish Me Well

JAZZ SOUNDIE : Cab Calloway - One for my Baby

Cab Calloway wails and tells it all to the bartender, "Make it one for my baby, and one more for the road." Not officially a soundie, but in the same spirit.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What do YOU think?

Blue Note - or, properly, EMI - is packaging yet again their catalog, this time as RVG editions because he apparently remembers every session from 50 years ago and, it seems, can only get it right nowadays.

The good thing is that a lot of things are back in print; the bad part is that folk are made to think that the versions they have already aren't as good as they could be. I know of one person who "collects" RVGs because he assumes that they are uniformly excellent, and the simple fact is; it just ain't so. It's always easier to buy a brand name than to actually listen, think and decide for yourself.

Part of the problem is that much of the listening being done nowadays is on portable devices, and they tend to be low in many ways. One of the things these new "improved" releases do is just jack the volume - voila! the "sound" is improved! But it's not that simple.

In comments there is an excellent article by Barry Diament. (You can check some of his work by searching the archive for Bob Marleys Uprising, posted here in January '08.)

I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions. I can make available various releases in several formats (K2, TOCJ, etc.) for those who wish to make informed decisions.

The Sound Of Jazz

Many of you will be familiar with the video of this - it was hereabouts as an avi a year or two ago. This is the Columbia Legacy release (side note: these Legacy issues are consistently good) and has a nice breakdown of the various solists.

"The Sound of Jazz" is perhaps the most famous jazz television show in history because it was the first show of its kind. It brought together giants from the swing era of the 1930s like Count Basie, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Billie Holiday, and Coleman Hawkins; the classic (or dixieland) players of the same era, like Henry "Red" Allen, Vic Dickenson, and Pee Wee Russell; and newer, younger musicians like Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk, and Jimmy Giuffre. These players played separately with their compatriots (see the song list below), but also joined to combine various styles in one group, most notably in the group backing Billie Holiday on "Fine and Mellow".

The show is justly famous for the performance of "Fine and Mellow", which brought together Billie Holiday and her long–time friend, Lester Young, for the last time. In the 1930s they were very close but they hadn't spoken for years. Jazz critic and producer Nat Hentoff, who was involved in putting the show together, recalled that during rehearsals, they kept to opposite sides of the room. Young was very weak, and Hentoff told him to skip the big band section of the show and that he could sit while performing in the group with Holiday.

During the performance of "Fine and Mellow", Webster played the first solo. "Then", Hentoff remembered,

Lester got up, and he played the purest blues I have ever heard, and [he and Holiday] were looking at each other, their eyes were sort of interlocked, and she was sort of nodding and half–smiling. It was as if they were both remembering what had been—whatever that was. And in the control room we were all crying. When the show was over, they went their separate ways.

Within a year, both Young and Holiday had died.

"The Sound of Jazz" was also released as a recording by CBS's then-subsidiary, Columbia Records, although the gramophone version is actually a rehearsal which preceded the telecast, and is not its soundtrack. ... The recording does not include all of the performers on the TV show (Mulligan refused to participate because no additional pay was involved) and includes several who were not on the show.

Billie Holiday (vocal)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Red Allen (trumpet)
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Rex Stewart (trumpet)
Jimmy Giuffre (clarinet)
Count Basie (piano)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Jim Hall (guitar)

1. Wild Man Blues
2. Rosetta
3. Fine And Mellow
4. Blues
5. I Left My Baby
6. The Train And The River
7. Nervous
8. Dickie's Dream
9. Wild Man Blues (alt)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Steve Lacy - More Monk

"...among the finest of Lacy's recordings. In his solo improvisations he often accelerates essentially simple 12-tone figures to the point of disintegration, allowing each piece to end unresolved. The antithesis of bebop expressionism or the huge inscapes of John Coltrane, the solos are cool and impersonal but not without a certain burlesque humour. There are perhaps more completely achieved recordings than these, but there's no better place to make acquaintance with one of music's great originals." ~ Penguin Guide (4 stars)

Steve Lacy (soprano sax)

1. Shuffle Boil
2. Straight, No Chaser
3. Off Minor
4. Ruby, My Dear
5. In Walked Bud
6. Trinkle, Tinkle
7. Coming on the Hudson
8. Introspection
9. Jackie-Ing
10. Crepuscule With Nellie
11. Bye-Ya

Milan, Italy: April 18-19, 1989

Horace Tapscott - Autumn Colors

Tapscott was a powerful, highly individual, bop-tinged pianist with avant-garde leanings; a legend and something of a father figure to latter generations of L.A.-based free jazz players, Tapscott labored mostly on the fringes of the critical mainstream, recording prolifically, but mostly for the small, poorly distributed Nimbus label. The quality of the music on those releases, however, was almost invariably high. His pianistic technique was hard and percussive, likened by some to that of Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols and every bit as distinctive. In contexts ranging from freely improvised duos to highly arranged big bands, Tapscott exhibited a solo and compositional voice that was his own.

And yet ... right up until this moment, he is ill-served in terms of accessibility and representation. The few things that have seen release are far from quality productions, there is no decent critical apparatus whatever in any of his CDs, and he doesn't even appear in such as the Penguin Guide because he is lamentably and chronically out of print. The prices that his CDs obtain on ebay, for example, should clue some record exec into the fact that he has a market. Maybe after Kind Of Blue is re-packaged another 6 times.

Horace Tapscott (piano)
David Bryant (bass)
Everett Brown, Jr. (drums)

1. Blues For Dee II
2. Dee Bee's Dance
3. Autumn Colors
4. J.O.B.

Hollywood: May 3, 1980

The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet (The Mono Beggars)

The recent appearance of The Band, The Kinks, and now The Stones is not going to be part of any ongoing series; but as noted previously, sometimes we come across scarce issues of things that appear to be familiar to many of us, and they'll be presented on occasion.

This fits in well with the ongoing audiophile discussion we've been having and there are enough points to make the discussion lively. First, while this is a scarce German CD issue of what was a mono LP, there are some who claim that this - with the exception of "Sympathy For The Devil" - is in fact a mono "fold down" from an original stereo release. At any rate here's a scarcity, one which features several bonus tracks. Let the games begin.

"Beggars Banquet was the last Rolling Stones album to be released in a mono mix; it showed up that way only in England and disappeared very quickly, and it is one of the rarest legitimate and official Stones album releases. This bootleg is taken from what sounds like a perfect mono source, and it runs circles around the ABKCO and English Decca stereo CD versions of Beggars Banquet -- not only do the instruments and singing seem twice as "close," but on many songs the fundamental sound is different. "Sympathy for the Devil" pounds away with a fury that the stereo version only hints at; "No Expectations" has a layer of instrumentation that's buried in the stereo version; the electric guitar on "Parachute Woman" has a louder, crunchier feel that's muted in the stereo mix, and the song actually sounds close in spirit and texture to the slow blues numbers on albums such as Rolling Stones Now! and 12 X 5. Indeed, one gets a full sense from the mono mix of the continuity between the group's playing here and on the records that preceded Beggars Banquet. The bonus tracks include an exquisitely mastered mono of "Jumping Jack Flash" and a brace of unreleased cuts -- the hard rocking "Highway Chile" (featuring a scintillating performance by Keith Richards on guitar), the instrumental "And I Was a Country Boy," an acoustic version of "Family," "Blood Red Wine," the slow, bluesy "Downtown Susie," and "Still a Fool" -- all of which slot very nicely into the pre-existing album. The bootleg comes in a digipack format that recreates the original cover art of the album from 1968." ~ Bruce Eder

1. Sympathy For The Devil
2. No Expectations
3. Dear Doctor
4. Parachute Woman
5. Jig-Saw Puzzle
6. Street Fighting Man
7. Prodigal Son
8. Stray Cat Blues
9. Factory Girl
10. Salt Of The Earth

11. Jumping Jack Flash (original mono mix)
12. Highway Chile (Keith, Mick & Charly rock out (unreleased)
13. And I Was A Country Boy (unreleased instrumental)
14. Family (acoustic version)
15. Blood Red Wine (unreleased)
16. Downtown Lucie (rough mix of this Metamorphosis-track)
17. Still A Fool (unreleased)

Air - Air Mail

The Chicago trio Air was at a high point on this 1980 date, thanks in part to remarkable percussive foundations provided by the late Steve McCall and his interaction with bassist Fred Hopkins, plus the amazing solos and versatility of nominal leader Henry Threadgill. Besides alto and tenor sax, flute, and bass flute, Threadgill plays his own unique instrument called the hubkaphone and makes it just as memorable a weapon as the other horns. ~ Ron Wynn

In early 1970s Threadgill turned his energies towards composing for and leading groups of his own. The first of these was Air, a trio with Fred Hopkins on bass, and AACM founder Steve McCall on drums. Threadgill played saxophones and the hubkaphone, a found-sound percussion instrument he built out of hubcaps. ... The trio renamed itself Air after moving to New York in 1975, where many of the AACM members had also moved. The three worked more or less as a collective, both musically and organizationally, although the bulk of the composed material was Threadgill’s.

Henry Threadgill (alto and tenor sax, flute, bass flute, hubkaphone)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Steve McCall (drums)

1. B.K.
2. R.B.
3. C.T., J.L.

Sidney Bechet - The Victor Sessions: Master Takes 1932-43

I heard Sidney Bechet play a Duke Ellington piece and fell in love with the soprano saxophone ~ Steve Lacy

This three-CD set has most of the finest recordings ever made by soprano-saxophonist and clarinet master Sidney Bechet. Although the alternate takes have unfortunately been left out (making the three sadly out of print French RCA double-LPs the absolute best way to acquire this timeless music), there are a remarkable amount of exciting performances in this box. Bechet jams with trumpeter Tommy Ladnier and the New Orleans Feetwarmers on a 1932 session (including torrid versions of "I've Found a New Baby," "Maple Leaf Rag," and "Shag") and then is heard mostly during 1940-1941 on his other Victor recordings. Among the highlights are "Indian Summer," "One O'Clock Jump," Duke Ellington's "Old Man Blues," an emotional and definitive "Nobody Knows the Way I Feel 'Dis Mornin," "Blues in Thirds," "Stompy Jones," "Egyptian Fantasy," Bechet's one-man band version of "The Sheik of Araby," "Swing Parade," "The Mooche," and "What Is This Thing Called Love." Although the supporting cast (17 different combinations of musicians are utilized) is quite impressive, it is Sidney Bechet who makes these performances quite classic. This music is essential (in one form or another) for every serious jazz collection. ~ Scott Yanow

Ray Charles & Milt Jackson - 1957-58 Soul Brothers + Soul Meeting

This double CD was originally released separately as SOUL BROTHERS (Atlantic 1279) and SOUL MEETING (Atlantic 1360) and includes two bonus tracks. At that moment, Jackson was a well known jazz musician which was part of the Modern Jazz Quartet, whereas Charles was beginning to hit the R&B charts.

These records are "cool" in the classic sense of the word: they swing, groove, whisper and discuss with the sophisticated yet down-home relaxation of a late-night session. While Milt Jackson's work with the Modern Jazz Quartet represents a kind of bebop perfection, the truism about the MJQ has always been that it's Jackson the irrepressible soloist and blues spirit that provides the ballast to John Lewis' more cerebral explorations of form and composition.
At the same time, Ray Charles' reputation as the definitive gospel-inspired R&B shouter and bandleader overshadows the facts of his jazz background and impressive musicianship. This is a guy, after all, who early in his career wanted to sound as much like Nat Cole as possible--and did, for a time, as both a singer and a pianist. So while these giants meet on the common turf of the blues on these two records, they bring a sharp jazz sensibility to the numerous and varied twelve-bar grooves here. Charles' stompin' bebop lines on the bonus track "Charlesville" are only one of the many revelations of this session.

01 How Long Blues (Carr) 9:15
02 Cosmic Ray (Charles) 5:23
03 The Genius After Hours [*] (Charles) 5:22
04 Charlesville [*] (Charles) 4:53
05 Bags of Blues (Jackson) 8:49
06 'Deed I Do (Hirsch, Rose) 5:51
07 Blue Funk (Charles) 8:09

01 Soul Brothers (Jackson) 9:34
02 Bags' Guitar Blues (Jackson) 6:23
03 Soul Meeting (Jackson) 6:03
04 Hallelujah, I Love Her So (Charles) 5:27
05 Blue Genius (Charles) 6:38
06 X-Ray Blues (Charles) 7:01
07 Love on My Mind (Charles) 3:45

[*] Bonus tracks

Ray Charles (alto saxophone, acoustic & electric pianos)
Milt Jackson (piano, vibraphone)
Skeeter Best, Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Billy Mitchell (tenor saxophone)
Oscar Pettiford, Percy Heath (bass)
Connie Kay, Art Taylor (drums)

Recorded in New York on September 12, 1957 & April 10, 1958

Friday, March 6, 2009

Miles Davis - The New Miles Davis Quintet (20bit K2)

Although they had made a few slightly earlier cuts that would later be issued on Columbia, the first full-length album by the Miles Davis Quintet is quite intriguing in that it gives one a look at tenor saxophonist John Coltrane when he still had a hesitant style. This audiophile CD reissue has the same music that is currently available on an Original Jazz Classics set: five jazz standards plus "The Theme." Unlike Coltrane, who would develop rapidly within the next year, Miles was already very much in his prime, sounding quite lyrical on "Just Squeeze Me" and "There Is No Greater Love," and the classic rhythm section (pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones) was quickly starting to gel. ~ Scott Yanow

The New Miles Davis Quintet made its first visit to the recording studios on November 16, 1955. By October 26, 1956, when they made their last session for Prestige, Miles had signed with recording giant Columbia, had the most influential band in all of jazz (which would spawn the most charismatic musician of the 1960s), and was well on his way towards international stardom.

Listen to The Musings Of Miles, an earlier quartet with bassist Oscar Pettiford, then listen to the difference bassist Paul Chambers and tenor saxophonist John Coltrane make. Philly Joe Jones' dancing hi-hat reverie introduces "How Am I To Know," and the band takes it a galloping tempo. The youthful bassist pushes the music into more modern directions with his solid time, driving beat, ringing tone and uncanny sense of melodic counterpoint. He opens the music right up, and his rhythmic flexibility frees up Philly Joe to play ahead of the beat and instigate an insistent polyrhythmic dialogue.

From the finger snappin' opening groove of Benny Golson's "Stablemates," it's clear that this rhythm section just swings harder (and in more different styles) then anyone this side of Basie's All-Americans or the drummer-led bands of Art Blakey and Max Roach. In Red Garland, the trumpeter found a pianist who understood his idea about touch, voicings and space, and was able to orchestrate in the lush, expansive style Miles favored. (Listen to his discreetly rocking, two-handed intro to "Just Squeeze Me," or his rhapsodic responses to Miles' little boyish Harmon mute on "There Is No Greater Love.")

And John Coltrane...in whose restless, searching, turbulent lines Miles found his perfect foil (much as the trumpeter's taciturn, introspective lyricism complemented Charlie Parker's voluminous harmonic flights). On "S'Posin'" Trane follows Miles lilting, floating mute work by getting right on top of the beat with relentless syncopations. On the vaudevillian airs of "The Theme" we find him answering Miles' coy, playful melodies by scurrying about with the screaming intensity of a blues guitarist, playing catch-up-and-fall-behind, trying to double and triple-up with every other breath.

Miles Davis (kazoo)
Red Garland (piano)
John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)

1. Just Squeeze Me
2. There Is No Greater Love
3. How Am I To Know?
4. S'posin'
5. The Theme
6. Stablemates

Hackensack, New Jersey: November 16, 1955

V.A. - Guitar Workshop in Rio (1992)

This is a compilation of Brazilian acoustic guitar players. One of them (Marco Pereira) was already posted in this blog. Others (João Bosco, Raphael Rabello) are well knowm names for those who like acoustic guitar. Ulisses Rocha hasn't the recognition the others names have, but is a great artist by it's own merit. Brazilian Guitar Ensemble is, in fact, a Choro group. Oscar Castro-Neves made a carer during the Bossa Nova Years in the United States. The musical genres are mostly sambas, but there are also choros (Murmurando, Revendo o passado), marcha-rancho (Hoshi no sampo), bossa nova (Esperança) and pieces for classic acoustic guitar (those by Gnattalli). Although this is a uniformly good record, to my taste the highlights are "Lamentos do morro", "Um pagode em Planaltina", "Samambaia" and "Estudos #1".

Tracks list:
1- Lamentos do morro (Garoto) - Raphael Rabello
2- Um pagode em Planaltina (Pereira) Marco Pereira
3- Manatsu no Kajitsu (Keisuke Kuwata) João Bosco
4- Rua Harmonia - (Michelino-Rocha) Ulisses Rocha
5- Murmurando (Fon Fon - Rossi) Brazilian Guitar Ensemble
6- Hoshi no Sampo (Ono-Suarez) Marco Pereira
7- Choro - 3rd Mov. of Braziliana #13 (Gnattalli) Raphael Rabello
8- Gagabirô (Bosco) João Bosco
9- Samambaia (Mariano) Marco Pereira
10- Revendo o passado (Freire Jr.) Brazilian Guitar Ensemble
11- Yasei no kase (Kawamura-Tsutsumi) Ulisses Rocha
12- Radá no circo (Senhora do Amazonas) (Bosco-Belchior) João Bosco
13- Esperança (Castro-Neves) Oscar Castro-Neves
14- Estudo # 1 (Gnatalli) Raphael Rabello

Black Lion Dex

Dexter Gordon - Take The A Train

During a two-day period (July 20-21, 1967) tenor-saxophonist Dexter Gordon and his quartet (pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Niels Pederson and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath) recorded enough music to fill up three CDs, all of which have been released by the English Black Lion label. Four of the six standards on this hard-swinging set ("But Not for me," "Take the 'A' Train," "Blues Walk" and "Love for Sale") are over ten minutes long while the other two ("For All We Know" and "I Guess I'll Have to Hang My Tears out to Dry" are a little more concise). Throughout, Dexter Gordon is in consistently creative form, making this CD well worth getting by his fans. ~ Scott Yanow

Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Kenny Drew (piano)
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass)
Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)

1. Introduction by Dexter Gordon
2. But Not For Me
3. Take The "A" Train
4. For All We Know
5. Blues Walk
6. I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry
7. Love For Sale

Black Lion Dex

Dexter Gordon - Body And Soul

Tenor-saxophonist Dexter Gordon recorded three CD's worth of material during a two-day period at Copenhagen's legendary Montmartre Club; Take the 'A' Train and Both Sides of Midnight have also been released by Black Lion on CD. Gordon and his impressive quartet (pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Neils Henning Orsted Pederson and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath) play versions of "Like Someone in Love," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "There Will Never Be Another You," "Body and Soul" and "Blues Walk" that clock in between nine and 14 minutes. Ironically, Dexter, who was in peak form during his years in Europe, was somewhat forgotten in the U.S. at the time. This set is recommended along with the two other CDs from this well-documented engagement. ~ Scott Yanow

Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Kenny Drew (piano)
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass)
Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)

1. Like Someone in Love
2. Come Rain or Come Shine
3. There Will Never Be Another You
4. Body and Soul
5. Blues Walk

Dexter Gordon - Both Sides Of Midnight

Dexter Gordon's Both Sides of Midnight was recorded in the summer of 1967, but released in 1988, with the title taking branding advantage of Gordon's role in the full-length feature film 'Round Midnight. A group of American expatriates teamed with 21-year-old bass prodigy Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen yields almost an hour of excellent music from a club date at the venerable Montmartre Jazzhuis in Copenhagen, Denmark. Sowing the seeds of the sound of Sonny Rollins and using part of Newk's repertoire, Gordon makes these musical statements all his own with a personalized voice free of imitation, but full of melodic hooks and ladders reaching skyward in distinguished, ad hoc fashion. Pianist Kenny Drew and drummer Al Heath stay very close to Gordon's muse during this short stack of standards, stretching the harmonic parameters of these well-known tunes in a delightful program of professionally rendered modern mainstream jazz. A twelve-and-a-half minute calypso-tinged version of Ben Tucker's "Devilette" proves the band warms up very quickly, as Heath's bouncy rhythm excites Gordon's vocal-like, linear lines with slight swinging inserts. The most amazing track is the near-16-minute, fast romp 12-bar blues take of "Sonnymoon for Two," as an inexhaustible Gordon plays what was then called a whopping "three foot long," 28 chorus solo without quoting a single standard, going on and on in Zen fashion before Drew hits up 20 choruses of his own. The Rollins signature tune "Doxy" is played flawlessly with nary a single cliché, as Gordon negotiates the tricky melody with his legendary cool ease and near nonchalance. Drew and Gordon together are best when wearing their hearts on their sleeves during the quiet tunes "For All We Know" and "Misty," using emotional constraint and control with throaty, pillow talk tones. A well-recorded live date, one of many Gordon did at the Montmartre, this easily ranks as one of Gordon's best, just shy of his magnum opus Homecoming. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Kenny Drew (piano)
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass)
Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)

1. Devilette
2. For All We Know
3. Doxy
4. Sonnymoon For Two
5. Misty

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Billie Holiday - Vol. 11: 1941-1942 (Masters Of Jazz)

While "God Bless The Child" (heard here in 3 versions) is noted here as "...a milestone on the road of jazz history ...", this volume also features tunes such as "Am I Blue", "Gloomy Sunday", and "Solituse", which Gunther Schuller claimed "...is perhaps the most powerful - and oddly neglected - recorded performance of her career. It is heard here in a studio version and in a live setting; Billy Berg's Trouville Club, which expanded the jazz scene from Central Avenue in Los Angeles.

Also notable is the presence of Roy Eldridge, making his eighth studio appearance for Billie and turning in yet another thoughtful and sympathetic performance. Of these sessions Schuller has also noted that Eldridge, Teddy Wilson and Lester Young " ... did some of their finest work on these recordings." Two of the numbers here were recorded by Jerry Newman at, where else, Mintons when Lady was appearing there in the summer of 1941. The band is unknown with the exception of Horsecollar Williams who was "... a very well known ..." but virtually unrecorded figure on the Harlem scene. Apart from two Savoy sessions, this omnipresent musician is virtually unrecorded. As usual with the Masters of Jazz series, there is a comprehensive and highly detailed booklet and discography.

Billie Holiday (vocal)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Jimmy Rowles (piano)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet)
Red Callender (bass)
Grachan Moncur II (bass)
Lee Young (drums)

1. I'm In A Low-Down Groove
2. God Bless The Child (master take)
3. God Bless The Child (breakdown)
4. God Bless The Child
5. Am I Blue?
6. Am I Blue?
7. Am I Blue?
8. Solitude
9. I Cried For You
10. Fine And Mellow
11. Jim (master take)
12. Jim
13. I Cover The Waterfront
14. Love Me Or Leave Me
15. Gloomy Sunday (master take)
16. Gloomy Sunday
17. Gloomy Sunday
18. Wherever You Are (master take)
19. Wherever You Are
20. Mandy Is Two
21. It's A Sin To Tell A Lie
22. Until The Real Thing Comes Along (master take)
23. Until The Real Thing Comes Along
24. I Hear Music
25. Solitude (incomplete)

Wilbur Ware - The Chicago Sound

"A bass player like Wilbur Ware, he’s so inventive, man…he plays things that are kind of - they’re foreign… if you didn’t know the song, you wouldn’t be able to find it because he’s superimposing things, he’s playing around and under and over or something.” ~ John Coltrane

Bassist Wilbur Ware's only recording as a leader (which has been reissued on CD) mostly features Chicago musicians. Although Ware heads the set and contributed two originals, he does not dominate the music and delegated plenty of solo space to altoist John Jenkins (who also brought in two tunes), tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, and pianist Junior Mance; Wilbur Campbell or Frank Dunlop on drums complete the group. This fine hard bop date (which also has versions of "Body and Soul," Stuff Smith's "Desert Sands," "Lullaby of the Leaves," and "The Man I Love") was a fine debut by Ware. It seems strange that in his remaining 20-plus years the bassist never led another album. ~ Scott Yanow

Wilbur Ware (bass)
John Jenkins (alto sax)
Johnny Griffin (tenor sax)
Junior Mance (piano)
Wilbur Campbell (drums)
Frankie Dunlop (drums)

1. Mamma-Daddy
2. Body And Soul
3. Desert Sands
4. 31st And State
5. Lullaby Of The Leaves
6. Latin Quarters
7. Be-Ware
8. The Man I Love

New York: October 16 and November 18, 1957

Dizzy Gillespie - Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo! (1953)

Presented as a "memorial album", the music on this CD compiles five live broadcasts from Birdland during the months of March and April, 1953. To want this album you must first be a Dizzy Gillespie fanatic and second, you must like the vocals and clowning around that Diz does with Joe Carroll since this takes up the majority of the disc. The vocals and joking aside, when Diz put the trumpet to his lips he was all business.

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet, vocals)
Bill Graham (baritone sax)
Wade Legge (piano)
Lou Hackney (bass)
Al Jones (drums)
Joe Carroll (vocals)

  1. On the Sunny Side of the Street
  2. My Man
  3. Happiness (aka This Is Happiness)
  4. Blue Skies
  5. Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo
  6. The Umbrella Man
  7. Blue Skies
  8. Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo
  9. I Love to Boogie/Sign-off
  10. The Champ
  11. I Can't Get Started
  12. Caravan/Sign-off
  13. Lullaby of Birdland/Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo
  14. My Man
  15. On the Sunny Side of the Street
  16. The Bluest Blues
  17. Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo
  18. My Man
  19. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac
  20. The Bluest Blues/Sign-off

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shostakovich - The Complete String Quartets

The Borodin String Quartet plays the Shostakovich Quartets 1-15 and the Piano Quintet with Sviatoslav Richter. The album notes were singularly unedifying so I included instead with the package the entry for Shostakovich in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

"Rarely do we come across as intimate and wide-angled a set as this collection of Dmitri Shostakovich's 15 string quartets, all of them played by the Russian Borodin Quartet. Recorded in Moscow between 1978 and 1983, the quartets are excellently reproduced in digital sound by Sviatoslav Richter, who maintains just enough shadow from the old Melodiya vinyl's audio vérité to make the music breathe passionately. Of course, it's the Borodins who really amp up the musical breath, whether in their near-giddy reading of the third quartet's first movement or in the 14th's complex, stoutly metaphysical somberness. These recordings will likely always remain the standard for Shostakovich's chamber repertoire because the Borodins were so focused on the Russian quartet literature and so little of anything they played by one composer approached the immediate, mature fullness of Shostakovich's quartets from the first to the last. And they played the music with unflagging intensity. Over the six CDs, it's a fascinating exercise to hear the development of compositional elements between the first (1935) and 15th (1974, the year before his death) quartets. Variations on the passacaglia technique, for example, permeate the music, allowing telescopic focus on Shostakovich's careful mediation of the dialogue between constancy and change, flying motifs from violin to viola to cello and back even as it appeared little fundamental groundwork had changed. Polyphony, dissonance, and aching resonance find a home in the music, showing Shostakovich's Catholic reach--and surely the impetus for his long-standing troubled relationship with Soviet politics."
Andrew Bartlett

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kenny Clarke - Telefunken Blues

I've been looking for this one for a long time. Apropos of this, I was walking down a street in the Village a week or two ago and saw a fairly new little bistro that had live music. Frank Wess was a guest performer.

Everyone's in good form on these two sessions from the mid-'50s. The earlier 1954 set, though, is the more interesting. It teams Modern Jazz Quartet alumni Kenny Clarke, Milt Jackson, and Percy Heath with West Coast beboppers Frank Morgan, Walter Benton, and Gerald Wiggins. Jackson's spirited solos and strong presence in the ensembles make clear he is enjoying a change of pace from the austere, formalism of the MJQ. Altoist Frank Morgan, too, comes to play, tempering tart Parker-isms with sounds that Jackie McLean, a Morgan contemporary, was also exploring at this time. Section partner Walter Benton counters with a rich, sonorous Websterian fog, rounding out a horn section that has range, depth, ideas, and chops. Wiggins, a commanding, understated presence, is in a role that would probably have gone to Wynton Kelly or Red Garland if the casting had not been for a West Coaster. Between them, Wiggins, Morgan, and Benton further undermine the artificial and meaningless dichotomy of West Coast cool versus New York City heat.

The four tracks from the later 1955 date feature a familiar Savoy grouping of Count Basie band members: Frank Wess, Henry Coker, Charlie Fowlkes, and Eddie Jones, with Jackson, and Clarke. In the company of the Count's men, Clarke and Jackson create a successful hybrid of bop and Basie-style swing. Frank Wess' tenor and flute playing, both on form, is most at home with the Jackson and Clarke direction. Bassist Jones and Clarke are an effective study in contrasts, with Jones walks his bass unperturbedly as Clarke throws curves and change-ups to his cohorts. Telefunken Blues is recommended for the set with Morgan, Benton, and Wiggins, although the session with the Count's men does offer several pleasures, notably, the work of the rhythm section, Wess' flute, and Ernie Wilkins' arrangements. ~ Jim Todd

Kenny Clarke (drums)
Frank Morgan (alto sax)
Milt Jackson (vibes, piano)
Gerald Wiggins (piano)
Walter Benton (tenor sax)
Frank Wess (tenor sax, flute)
Percy Heath (bass)

1. Strollin
2. Sonor
3. Blue's Mood
4. Skoot
5. Telefunken Blues
6. Klook's Nook
7. Baggin' The Blues
8. Inhibitions

Frank Capp Juggernaut - Play It Again Sam (1996)

On the one hand, the music on this set, which features the Frank Capp Juggernaut performing a dozen Sammy Nestico arrangements, is quite predictable. After all, the Juggernaut's playing has always been based on the style of Count Basie, so its interpretations of Nestico's music (ten of the 12 songs are his) is very much in the Basie tradition. But on the other hand, the enthusiasm of the band, the high musicianship and the many exciting solos make this into a very enjoyable performance that all fans of swinging big bands will want. Among the many top soloists are trumpeters Conte Candoli, Carl Saunders, Bob Summers and Bill Berry, trombonists Andy Martin and Thurman Green, pianist Gerry Wiggins and the tenors of Pete Christlieb and Rickey Woodard. In fact, on "88 Basie Street," all 18 musicians in the orchestra get four-bars apiece. Other highlights include "The Heat's On," "Wind Machine," "Ya Gotta Try" and "Freckle Face." - Scott Yanow

Frank Szabo, Carl Saunders, Bob Summers, Bill Berry, Conte Candoli (trumpet)
Andy Martin, Thurman Green, Dana Hughes, Wendell Kelly, Alan Kaplan, George Bohanon (trombone)
Jackie Kelso, Steve Wilkerson (alto sax)
Ricky Woodard, Pete Christlieb (tenor sax)
Bob Efford (baritone sax)
Gerry Wiggins (piano)
Chuck Berghofer, Dave Carpenter (bass)
John Pisano, Barry Zweig (guitar)
Frank Capp (drums)
Sammy Nestico (composer, arranger)
  1. The Heat's On
  2. Warm Breeze
  3. Ja-Da
  4. Sweet Georgia Brown
  5. Katy
  6. Wind Machine
  7. Soft As Velvet
  8. Ya Gotta Try
  9. Freckle Face
  10. Satin 'n' Glass
  11. 88 Basie Street
  12. Night Flight
Recorded September, October 1996

Donald Byrd - 1958 Parisian Thoroughfare

Recorded at Paris's Olympia Theatre in October 1958, trumpeter Donald Byrd's Parisian Thoroughfare is an often exhilarating set whose CD debut is most welcome. Then a leading exponent of hard bop, Byrd may have lacked the range and emotional depth of his successors Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan but his pure tone, fleet logic and crackling attack always satisfied. He had a good band too, featuring that undervalued saxophonist Bobby Jaspar, the invariably cogent Walter Davis Jr on piano and the great Doug Watkins and Art Taylor on bass and drums. The only drawback is that it's all pretty remorseless: despite thoughtful arrangements and an incisive awareness of dynamics, the eight tracks are decidedly one-paced and one longs for a ballad or two to vary mood and texture. However, it could be said that such extrovert relentlessness constitutes the essence of hard bop and that it's much more sensible to enjoy its many virtues than dwell on its vices. Certainly, there is more than enough here to satisfy lovers of the genre in general and Byrd admirers in particular.
Richard Palmer

1. Salt Peanuts - Gillespie, Clarke 2:13
2. Parisian Thoroughfare - Powell 9:05
3. Stardust - Parish, Carmichael 3.19
4. 52nd Street Theme - Monk 6:42
5. At This Time - Byrd 10:03
6. Formidable - Davis 9:28
7. Two-Bass Hit - Gillespie, Lewis 2:56
8. Salt Peanuts - Gillespie, Clarke 2:15

Donald Byrd - trumpet
Bobby Jaspar - tenor saxophone
Walter Davis Jr. - piano
Doug Watkins - bass
Art Taylor - drums

Recorded at The Olympia, Paris (France), on October 22, 1958

Bunk Johnson - 1944 The King Of The Blues

In 2005, one can forget the wonders of a real traditional jazz band. I was just old enough to catch many of the great second and third generation musicians of traditional jazz (Jabbo Smith, Preston Jackson,Ikey Robinson,and the remarkable Franz Jackson, the latter very important to have helped me in my playing and recording this music called jazz), but I was too young (or not in the locale to have heard them)to have caught Kid Thomas, Kid Sheik, Emile Barnes or De De Pierce (though I did get to hear live the Humphrey brothers late in their lives with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band), much less the orginiators like Wooden Joe Nicholas, Kid Ory, Sidney Bechet (though my mother did hear Bechet in France), or the subject of this remarkable CD, Bunk Johnson. While I might not feel that Bunk is the "king of the blues" ( I would give a Mutt Carey, King Oliver or of a later generation, Armstrong or Hot Lips Page this distinction), one has to give Bunk, the ability to phrase the blues with a classist perfection rarely achived (his playing at his best, shows what Virgil Thompson was talking about his freedom, yet melodic sobriety in his improvisations). Bunk concept of where the trumpet's voice is to be in this style of music, and that's not to interfere with the clarinet's clarion register (and he would ,on occasion give George Lewis the lead on clarinet and rest,this being good for both a trumpeter to rest as well as the overall sonic performance to have variety) .We can hear in this CD, why such jazz enthusisatics like Bill Russell, Gene Williams as well as the immortal New Orleans musicians like Armstrong and Bechet were so wanting Bunk to get back into music (I have always felt that Bunk did influence Satchmo in that incredible tone as well as some melodic content and licks from Bunk, though King Oliver had a greater influence on the drive, swing and the variety of registers where Satchmo played). He was a teacher of music as well, and it shows in his classist approach to the music. He was also a link to the very start of jazz itself (along with Wooden Joe Nicholas we can hear something of what New Orleans sounded like circa 1900,in the days of Bolden et all, though one can NEVER recreate another times music), but what really gets to me is the total sonic picture this band reveals (George Lewis and Jim Robinson are simply at their best here, and Lawrence Marrero's banjo proves its the player not the instrument, he with Slow Drag on bass and the immortal Baby Dodds on the drums give a solid yet very supple backing for the horns). The standout track, for me, is the 9 minute blues "Midnight Blues" (it does put you after hours in a New Orleans dance, and Bunk's lower register solo into the riffs ala "Snag It" puts us back to a mythos of "the good old days"), one of my all time favorite recordings (but then I am a sucker for any era of slow jazz blues, traditional, swing or modern jazz), but really most of the CD is that good. Don't worry that almost all songs are blues, with the same musicians, and recorded within a two week period, there is many different tempos and nuances (and songs like "Weary Blues" and "St Louis Blues" have multiple strains, this does give variety, we also encounter the 8 bar form in "How Long Blues" and "C C Rider"). All in all, a very enjoyable CD that belongs to all who remember early jazz or want to access the roots of today's musics.
Yves Francois Smierciak, Amazon.com

01. C. C. Rider (Ma Rayney) 3:44
02. Lowdown Blues (Bunk Johnson) 4:27
03. St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) 4:10
04. Blue As I Can Be (Public Domain) 3:58
05. Dippermouth Blues (King Oliver, Louis Armstrong) 3:46
06. Midnight Blues (Bunk Johnson) 9:24
07. Weary Blues (Artie Matthews) 4:28
08. New Iberia Blues (Bunk Johnson) 4.10
09. Careless Love (W.C. Handy, Martha E. Koenig, Spencer Williams) 4:30
10. How Long Blues (Leroy Carr) 3:46
11. Royal Garden Blues (Clarence Williams, Spencer Williams) 3:50
12. Tishomingo Blues (Spencer Williams) 4.46
13. C. C. Rider (Ma Rayney) 4:12

Bunk Johnson (trumpet)
Jim Robinson (trombone)
George Lewis (clarinet)
Lawrence Marrero (banjo)
Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau (bass)
Jim Little (tuba, bass)
Baby Dodds (drums)
Myrtle Jones (vocals on 4 & 13)

Recorded in New Orleans, between July 29 and August 4, 1944

Picture taken at the recording session at San Jacinto Hall in August 1944.
Personnel left to right:
Jim Robinson (trombone)
Bunk Johnson (trumpet)
Baby Dodds (drums)
George Lewis (clarinet)
Alcide 'slow drag' Pavageau (bass)
Lawrence Marrero (banjo)

Milcho Leviev - Man From Plovdiv

The exotic rhythms of Bulgarian music are combined with the improvisations of jazz through the piano and keyboard playing of Milcho Leviev. A member of Don Ellis' band in the 1970s and a well-traveled sideman for Billy Cobham, Art Pepper and Al Jarreau and leader of jazz-rock band, Free Flight, in the 1980s, Leviev has continued with his cross-cultural musical experiments.. In addition to leading his own trio, featuring bassist Jamie Faust and drummer Dick Weller, Leviev has performed with the Leviev-Slon Quartet, featuring drummer Claudio Slon, bassist Mark Simon and percussionist Cassio Duarte, and, the Jamie Faust Trio.

A graduate of the Bulgarian State Music Academy, Leviev worked as pianist and director of the Bulgarian Radio and Television Big Band in the mid-1960s. Temporarily relocating to Germany, he worked with Albert Mangelsdorff.

At the urging of trumpet player and bandleader Don Ellis, Leviev emigrated to the United States in 1971. For the next years, he was a seminal member of Ellis' large orchestra. Leaving Ellis in 1977, Leviev played with a wide range of jazz and fusion musicians. Forming Free Flight in 1980, he spent three years exploring the possibilities of fusing jazz and rock influences. ~ Craig Harris

1. Sadovsko Horo
2. Minor's Boogie
3. Beep Bop
4. B Minor
5. C Blues Suite, Pt. A
6. C Blues Suite, Pt. B
7. C Blues Suite, Pt. C
8. Mody Mooda
9. Extemporized Toccata (Toccata Extemporata)
10. Dies Irae
11. Polymetric Study #3

Recorded at The Harmony Hall, Matsumoto, Japan: April 1989

Monday, March 2, 2009

Andrew Hill - Les Trinitaires

Les Trinitaires finds master composer Andrew Hill alone at the piano in a small French club just 18 months before recording his well-regarded ensemble recording Dusk. This is a stark, moody set, not the place to begin to explore Hill's prickly work with its angular, elusive melodies. His solo presentation is stark and ruminative. For those already engaged with his work, this offers a glimpse of the skeletal foundations of compositions, especially "Dusk" and "15/8," which would later appear on Dusk in full ensemble form. These versions of the compositions are similar to seeing the sketches made for an oil painting. The session also includes two newly minted compositions, "Metz" and "Labyrinth," which were written during his stay at the club. Hill's rendering of the two standards "What's New?" and "I'll Be Seeing You" with their dark, dense altered chords and oddly loping left-hand figures give insights into this important composer's sonic world. ~ David Dupont

1. Joanne
2. What's New?
3. Little Spain
4. 15.08
5. Metz
6. Dusk (take 1)
7. Labyrinth
8. Seven
9. Dusk (take 2)
10. I'll Be Seeing You

James Spaulding - Smile Of The Snake

This must be what it was like back when, when you'd get the latest Blue Note release, and not know the tunes.

Spaulding's early work for Muse is long deleted and shows no sign of reappearing. These later sessions are marked by the same easy musicianship that has marked his extensive discography. Though he is no writer, Spaulding has a gift for spotting unusual and creative material. He begins Smile Of The Snake with a Clifford Jordan number, 'Third Avenue', and programmes material by Richard Wyands, Geoff Keezer, and Donald Brown, who is composer of the title-track. This is hardly repertory fare and the unfamiliarity of the material is either intriguing or off-putting depending on your level of curiosity. The group performs beautifully, with McClure particularly prominent. ~ Penguin Guide

One of the most underrated saxophonists of the post-1960 era, James Spaulding has long been a passionate postbop altoist and a warm flutist. On this superior outing he is heard in top form on both of his axes (plus two appearances on bass flute) in a quartet with pianist Richard Wyands, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Tony Reedus. Producer Donald Sickler helped advise Spaulding on the material and the result is a high-quality set of obscurities by Wyands, McClure, Clifford Jordan, Donald Brown, Geoff Keezer and Idrees Sulieman. Spaulding digs into the songs, displays a great deal of versatility and certainly has his fiery moments. One of James Spaulding's finest allround recordings. ~ Scott Yanow

James Spaulding (alto sax, flute, bass flute)
Richard Wyands (piano)
Ron McClure (bass)
Tony Reedus (drums)

1. Third Avenue
2. Serenity
3. The Smile Of The Snake
4. Lenora
5. Tonight Only
6. Premonition
7. Yes It Is
8. Panchito
9. Love Is Not A Dream
10. Havana Days (Cuba 1954)

Louis Smith - Here Comes Louis Smith (TOCJ)

If you'd like to hear the standard release of this for comparison, and hopefully to join in our discussion, drop me an e-mail.

We've discussed the Transition label before; it was a project of Tom Wilson's while a student at Harvard, and was a strictly home-made operation. He did some interesting early stuff (discussed at length some time ago with his Donald Byrd work) and when the label folded he sold some of his titles; Cecil Taylor's Jazz Advance, for one, and this for another, to Blue Note. How did Wilson do? He went on to work with the likes of Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa. Yeah, that Tom Wilson.

"Louis Smith had a brilliant debut on this Blue Note album, his first of two before becoming a full-time teacher. The opener (Duke Pearson's "Tribute to Brownie") was a perfect piece for Smith to interpret, since his style was heavily influenced by Clifford Brown (who had died the previous year). He is also in excellent form on four of his basic originals and takes a particularly memorable solo on a haunting rendition of "Stardust." Altoist Cannonball Adderley (who used the pseudonym of Buckshot La Funke on this set, a name later used by Branford Marsalis), Duke Jordan or Tommy Flanagan on piano, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Art Taylor make for a potent supporting cast, but the focus is mostly on the criminally obscure Louis Smith. After cutting his second Blue Note set and switching to teaching, Smith would not record again as a leader until 1978. All bop and 1950s jazz fans are strongly advised to pick up this CD reissue before it disappears." ~ Scott Yanow

Louis Smith (trumpet)
Cannonball Adderley (alto sax)
Duke Jordan (piano)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Doug Watkins (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. Tribute to Brownie
2. Brill's Blues
3. Ande
4. Star Dust
5. South Side
6. Val's Blues

New York: February 4 and 9, 1957

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dizzy Gillespie - The Champ

In recent years Diz's reputation seems to have diminished somewhat. All kinds of reasons are given; maybe he was just around too long. But I have much love for Dizzy Gillespie; I don't care what he did or didn't do later in life. The man was a giant.

Here is a Savoy release from a period were Dizzy's Orchestra had succumbed to the realities of the industry; big bands were falling out of favor and viability. Featured here are John Coltrane in a very early recording date, on alto and tenor (he played both in Dizzy's Orchestra), Kenny Burrell, Milt Jackson on organ and vibes ... all in glorious Monophonic splendor.

An early LP on Savoy that gathers Dizzy Gillespie's small-group recordings from 1951-52, The Champ has a lot to recommend it -- songs, sidemen, and performances. With just one exception, each of the selections are drawn from quintet or sextet dates, boasting work by Art Blakey, Milt Jackson, J.J. Johnson, Percy Heath, and Stuff Smith in addition to an early appearance from John Coltrane (he made his debut with Diz, though not here). On the title track, a six-minute jam released as a two-part single, Gillespie plays furiously and tenor Budd Johnson contributes a great squawking solo. "Birk's Works," one of Dizzy's finest compositions, gets its first commercial recording, while Stuff Smith's violin solo gives "Caravan" exactly the exotic touch it needs to lift it above competing versions. Diz and Joe Carroll trade vocals on "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and bop culture meets gospel for "Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac." ~ John Bush

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
John Coltrane (alto and tenor sax)
J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Stuff Smith (violin)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Milt Jackson (organ, vibraphone)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Percy Heath (bass)
Art Blakey (drums)

1. The Champ
2. Birk's Works
3. Caravan
4. Time On My Hands
5. On The Sunny Side Of The Street
6. Tin Tin Deo
7. Stardust
8. They Can't Take That Away From Me
9. The Bluest Blues
10. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac
11. Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo-Bee

The Kinks - Muswell Hillbillies (K2 HD)

What the hell, it was already ripped and scanned.

I started to write a little about this, but it was rapidly becoming an essay. Suffice it to say that this is a work that rewards repeated listenings. Or maybe it don't; what the hell do I know. Quintessentially English (note that I do not say British) it therefore deals with much that is American.

The sound is wonderful.

How did the Kinks respond to the fresh start afforded by Lola? By delivering a skewed, distinctly British, cabaret take on Americana, all pinned down by Ray Davies' loose autobiography and intense yearning to be anywhere else but here -- or, as he says on the opening track, "I'm a 20th century man, but I don't want to be here." Unlike its predecessors, Muswell Hillbillies doesn't overtly seem like a concept album -- there are no stories as there are on Lola -- but each song undoubtedly shares a similar theme, namely the lives of the working class. Cleverly, the music is a blend of American and British roots music, veering from rowdy blues to boozy vaudeville. There's as much good humor in the performances as there are in Davies' songs, which are among his savviest and funniest. They're also quite affectionate, a fact underpinned by the heartbreaking "Oklahoma U.S.A.," one of the starkest numbers Davies ever penned, seeming all the sadder surrounded by the careening country-rock and music hall. That's the key to Muswell Hillbillies -- it mirrors the messy flow of life itself, rolling from love letters and laments to jokes and family reunions. Throughout it all, Davies' songwriting is at a peak, as are the Kinks themselves. There are a lot of subtle shifts in mood and genre on the album, and the band pulls it off effortlessly and joyously -- but it's hard not to hear Dave Davies' backing vocals and have it not sound joyous. Regardless of its commercial fate, Muswell Hillbillies stands as one of the Kinks' best albums. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Muswell Hillbillies features Ray Davies at his whipcracking best, rolling out lyrics like "The milkman's a spy and the grocer keeps on following me/ And the woman next door's an undercover for the KGB." It's a pretty simple sound, and one that's more folk and country based than any album they'd ever done. A wonderful brass band turns up on two of the album's best tracks "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" and "Alcohol" (oh, there's a good combination). "Here Comes the People In Gray" is a bluesy stomp about a man whose house is being torn down by the city. "Oklahoma USA" is a pretty ballad about living in a fantasy world "with Shirley Jones and Gordon McRae." But other than the insidiously catchy chorus of "Have A Cuppa Tea" (you may be driven to murder if you listen to it too long), I can't find much to complain about with these Hillbillies. ~ Jason Josephes

1. 20th Century Man
2. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues
3. Holiday
4. Skin & Bone
5. Alcohol
6. Complicated Life
7. Here Come the People in Grey
8. Have a Cuppa Tea
9. Holloway Jail
10. Oklahoma U.S.A.
11. Uncle Son
12. Muswell Hillbilly

The Band - Stage Fright (TOCP)

Like everybody else here, my interests extend beyond jazz, and every once in a while I'll come across something that looks appealing from some other genre. And while I'm usually resistant to buying yet another version of something I have in several formats (think, this is , or was, available already in LP, cassette, eight-track, CD, and probably a few others I've forgotten about.) Yet, for some of the things I have always enjoyed, I'll give in. So, for what it's worth, here's a pretty excellent and "properly configured" classic. I have some others by the Kinks et al, and if interest is great enough, maybe these will appear in contributions from time to time. I know Dylanfan and Surfrider will dig 'em.

Stage Fright, the Band's third album, sounded on its surface like the group's first two releases, Music from Big Pink and The Band, employing the same dense arrangements, with their mixture of a deep bottom formed by drummer Levon Helm and bassist Rick Danko, penetrating guitar work by Robbie Robertson, and the varied keyboard work of pianist Richard Manuel and organist Garth Hudson, with Helm's, Danko's, and Manuel's vocals on top. But the songs this time around were far more personal and, despite a nominal complacency, quite troubling. Only "All La Glory," Robertson's song about the birth of his daughter, was fully positive. "Strawberry Wine" and "Sleeping" were celebrations of indolence, while "Time to Kill," as its title implied, revealed boredom while claiming romantic contentment. Several of the album's later songs seemed to be metaphors for trouble the group was encountering, with "The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show" commenting on the falseness of show business, "Daniel and the Sacred Harp" worrying about a loss of integrity, and the title song talking about the pitfalls of fortune and fame. "The Shape I'm In" was perhaps the album's most blatant statement of panic. The Band was widely acclaimed after their first two albums; Stage Fright seemed to be the group's alarmed response, which made it their most nakedly confessional. It was certainly different from their previous work, which had tended toward story songs set in earlier times, but it was hardly less compelling for that. [The 2000 expanded edition was the first CD reissue containing the mixes that had been used on the original LP.] ~ William Ruhlmann

1. Strawberry Wine
2. Sleeping
3. Time To Kill
4. Just Another Whistle Stop
5. All La Glory
6. The Shape I'm In
7. The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show
8. Daniel And The Sacred Harp
9. Stage Fright
10. The Rumor
11. Daniel And The Sacred Harp (alternate take)
12. Time To Kill (alternate mix)
13. The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show (alternate mix)
14. Radio Commercial

Gerry Mulligan - The Original Quartet With Chet Baker

Gerry Mulligan's off-the-bandstand relationship with Chet Baker could never be considered amiable, but once the two West Coast bad boys picked up the horns, everything was sweetness and light, though often underscored by a subtle and sweet tension. That's never been more apparent than on The Original Quartet with Chet Baker, a limited- edition, two-CD set (42 tracks!) that compiles the group's entire Pacific Jazz output (with the exception of their collaborations with Lee Konitz, available on Konitz Meets Mulligan. As the band that defined the swinging and sophisto West Coast sound, these Mulligan/Baker sides are laid-back but also sly and cerebral. While the rhythm section (bassists include Red Mitchell, Joe Mondragon, Bob Whitlock, and Carson Smith; drums were brushed by Chico Hamilton and Larry Bunker) lays back and affords the horns plenty of room, Baker and Mulligan circle each other like boxers one moment, lovers the next. It's a dance you don't want to miss. ~ S. Duda

The pianoless Gerry Mulligan Quartet, which launched the careers of Mulligan, Chet Baker and Chico Hamilton, lasted only one year (June of '52-'53). These two remastered CDs cover all 42 tracks that the quartet recorded for Pacific Jazz in that one year in which the band invented itself, evolved, hit the big time and then disappeared. Recorded live at the Haig and in various studios, this music is essential modern jazz.

Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax, piano)
Chet Baker (trumpet)
Jimmy Rowles (piano)
Red Mitchell (bass)
Joe Mondragon (bass)
Bob Whitlock (bass)
Carson Smith (bass)
Chico Hamilton (drums)
Larry Bunker (drums)

CD 1
1. Get Happy
2. 'S Wonderful
3. Godchild
4. Dinah
5. She Didn't Say Yes, She Didn't Say No
6. Bernie's Tune
7. Lullaby Of The Leaves
8. Utter Chaos 1
9. Aren't You Glad You're You
10. Frenesi
11. Nights At The Turntable
12. Freeway
13. Soft Shoe
14. Walkin' Shoes
15. Aren't You Glad You're You (live)
16. Get Happy (live)
17. Poinciana (live)
18. Godchild (live)
19. Makin' Whoopee
20. Cherry
21. Motel
22. Carson City Stage

CD 2
1. My Old Flame
2. Love Me Or Leave Me (alt)
3. Love Me Or Leave Me
4. Swinghouse (10' LP take)
5. Swinghouse (12' LP take)
6. Jeru
7. Utter Chaos #2
8. Darn That Dream
9. Darn That Dream (alt)
10. I May Be Wrong (12' LP take)
11. I May Be Wrong [10' LP take]
12. I'm Beginning To See The Light (10' LP take)
13. I'm Beginning To See The Light (12' LP take)
14. The Nearness Of You
15. Tea For Two
16. Five Brothers (live)
17. I Can't Get Started (live)
18. Ide's Side (live)
19. Funhouse (live)
20. My Funny Valentine (live)

Illinois Jacquet - 1945-1950 Complete Sessions

This three-CD set from Spain's Definitive label is a redone replica of the Mosaic set issued in the United States as a limited edition for a far better price. What the consumer gives up are the stellar liner notes of the Mosaic set, but he/she gains the same remastered material featuring all of Illinois Jacquet's sides as a leader for the Apollo, Aladdin, Metro, Savoy, and Victor/Bluebird labels. During this period, Jacquet's popularity was soaring and the music here, from swing to honking R&B, reveals why. Much of the material here is readily available elsewhere, but only on the Mosaic set — now out of print — is it assembled in one place, making this an indispensable and smart buy for fans of the music of the era, as well as Jacquet aficionados.
Thom Jurek