Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stanley Cowell - Back To The Beautiful

Pianist Stanley Cowell displays some of his versatility on this Concord CD, performing pieces that range from "It Don't Mean A Thing" and Bud Powell's boppish "Wail" to four of his own inventive originals. Most of the tunes are performed in a trio with bassist Santi Debriano and drummer Joe Chambers while guest Steve Coleman (on alto and soprano) helps out on three songs, sounding quite effective on "Sylvia's Place" and "Come Sunday." ~ Scott Yanow

Stanley Cowell (piano)
Steve Coleman (alto, soprano sax)
Santi Debriano (bass)
Joe Chambers (drums)

1. Theme For Ernie
2. Wail
3. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
4. But Beautiful
5. Sylvia's Place
6. Come Sunday
7. Carnegie Six
8. St. Croix
9. Prayer For Peace
10. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square

McCoy Tyner Big Band - Journey (1993)

McCoy Tyner's two-fisted approach to the piano is so full and expansive that he almost sounds like a one-man jazz orchestra by himself. So it's no surprise, really, that he's turned out to be such an excellent big-band leader. The seven brasses, four reeds, and one percussionist who supplement Tyner's regular trio on Journey seem to take their cue from his dense, rhythmic attack on the keyboard. The harmonies are tightly packed, with the horns clustered at close intervals; the aggressive rhythm, as likely to reflect Latin influences as swing, is reinforced as much by the horns as by the piano, bass, and drums. - Geoffrey Himes

While this isn't among Tyner's greatest recordings, it's still a rigorous, often exciting big-band date. The repertoire includes familiar Tyner compositions "Peresina" and "Blues On The Corner," originals from trombonist Steve Turre ("Juanita") and bassist Avery Sharpe ("January In Brazil"), plus other numbers by Angel Rangelov, Dennis Mackrel and the interesting "You Taught My Heart To Sing," co-written by Tyner and legendary Broadway lyricist/tunesmith Sammy Cahn. Although Tyner doesn't play with the ferocity or unpredictable edge that's characterized his finest sessions, he solos crisply, easily moving through hard bop, Afro-Latin and even swing-oriented big band settings. There's a comfortable feel, but not a staid one. - Ron Wynn

Earl Gardner, Virgil Jones, Eddie Henderson (trumpet)
Steve Turré, Frank Lacy (trombone)
John Clark (french horn) Tony Underwood (tuba)
Doug Harris, Joe Ford (alto sax)
Billy Harper, John Stubblefield (tenor sax)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
Avery Sharpe (bass)
Aaron Scott (drums)
Jerry Gonzalez (percussion) (trumpet on 4)
Ronnie Cuber (bari sax on 1)
Slide Hampton (trombone on 1)
Dianne Reeves (vocals on 4)
  1. Samba Dei Ber
  2. Juanita
  3. Choices
  4. You Taught My Heart to Sing
  5. Peresina
  6. Blues on the Corner
  7. January in Brasil
Recorded in May, 1993

Charlie Rouse and Paul Quinichette - The Chase Is On

Bethlehem issues were done by several companies; Avenue, a few others. I always like the Bethlehem Company itself, the CDs look like they're enameled. This is the first one I've gotten as a TOCJ issue. Pricy bugger, n'aw.

The twin tenor sax tradition yielded grand pairings with the likes of Wardell Gray and Dexter Gordon, Arnett Cobb and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, and Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. This one-shot teaming of Charlie Rouse and Paul Quinichette brought forth a union of two distinctly different mannerisms within the mainstream jazz continuum. Rouse, who would go on to prolific work with Thelonious Monk and was at this time working with French horn icon Julius Watkins, developed a fluid signature sound that came out of the more strident and chatty style heard here. By this time in 1957, Quinichette, nicknamed the Vice Prez for his similar approach to Lester Young, was well established in the short term with Count Basie. His liquid, full-bodied, soulful tone became an undeniable force, albeit briefly, before he dropped out of the scene shortly after this date to be an electrical engineer. The stereo split of the saxophonists in opposite channels, a technique endemic of the time, works well whether they play solos or melody lines together. It enables you to truly hear how different they are. Working with standards, there's a tendency for them to play the head arrangements in unison, but then one of them on occasion plays an off-the-cuff short phrase that strays from the established melodic path. They also seem to do a hard bop jam, then a ballad, and back to hard swinging. The title track is simply a killer, a perfect fun romp of battling duelists, and one that you'd like to hear in any nightclub setting. Some slight harmonic inserts set "This Can't Be Love" apart from the original and "The Things I Love" displays the two tenors at their conversational best, while the lone original, "Knittin'," is a fundamental 12-bar swing blues, straight up and simple but with some subtle harmonic nuances. The rhythm section of pianist Wynton Kelly, bass player Wendell Marshall, and drummer Ed Thigpen do their usual yeoman job. But on two tracks, pianist Hank Jones and rhythm guitarist Freddie Green take over, and the sound of the band changes dramatically to the more sensitive side on a low-down version of "When the Blues Come On" and the good-old basic vintage swinger "You're Cheating Yourself." An LP-length CD (under 40 minutes), it is a shame there are no extra tracks or alternate takes. The combination of Rouse and Quinichette was a very satisfactory coupling of two talented and promising post-swing to bop individualists, who played to all of their strengths and differences on this worthy -- and now legendary -- session. ~Michael G. Nastos

Paul Quinichette (tenor sax)
Charlie Rouse (tenor sax)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Hank Jones (piano)
Freddie Green (guitar)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Ed Thigpen (drums)

1. The Chase Is On
2. When The Blues Comes On
3. This Can't Be Love
4. Last Time For Love
5. You're Cheating Yourself
6. Knittin'
7. The Tender Trap
8. The Things I Love

New York: August 29 and September 8, 1957

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hank Jones - Upon Reflection: The Music of Thad Jones

Jones entered the '90s one of the music's elder statesmen. His Maybeck recital was, predictably, one of the high points of the series...There is, however, a second masterwork to sit alongside the maybeck. Upon Reflection is devoted to the music of his brother, Thad...Quite properly the drummer's job went to Elvin...It's a tender, but by no means sentimental, record. However, if you can listen to 'A Child Is Born' without a tear, tear up your donor card; they can't transplant hearts of stone. Penguin Guide

"This is one of the best piano-trio discs of the 1990s, and a high point in Jones's career. The disc is a memorial to the late Thad Jones, and his brothers Hank and Elvin are joined by George Mraz, bassist with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band....The other great pleasure of the disc is hearing Elvin Jones play brushes for the duration: while that doesn't mean thunder is absent (see the ending explosion of the opening track, with Jones growling ferociously), you do get to hear how subtle and tasteful Elvin can be. "A Child Is Born" is turned into a drum feature, and surprisingly, it works beautifully. What can I say? This disc has been generally unsung: but it deserves to be recognized as one of the great memorial albums, one of the great trio of the great Hank Jones albums. "

Hank Jones (piano)
George Mraz (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Thad's Pad
2. Ah Henry
3. The Summary
4. Little Rascal On A Rock
5. Upon Reflection
6. Lady Luck
7. Mean What You Say
8. Kids Are Pretty People
9. Ray El
10. A Child Is Born

Recorded February 25-26, 1993 by Rudy Van Gelder, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Friday Fusion

Matrix - Wizard (1978)

The second album by Matrix continues with more compositions by John Harmon in a vein similar to Weather Report or Chick Corea's Return to Forever, but with a 5-piece horn section.

Matrix emerged in 1974 from the Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin) jazz program, where John Harmon was director of jazz studies. Among the charter members of the group were Larry Darling, Kurt Dietrich, Mike Hale and Jeff Pietrangelo. After paying dues in Midwestern clubs, Matrix's coming out party was at the 1976 Monterey Jazz Festival.

For the next three years, Matrix continued to gather praise as it toured the United States, making significant waves in the new style of jazz that dominated the 1970s. Along the way, through replacements, the band picked up Mike Murphy and John Kirchberger from Milwaukee, Brad McDougall (an Illinois native) from Miami, and Randy Tico from Santa Barbara. Peter "Herb" Butler was the world-class sound engineer. This group played again at Monterey, the Newport Jazz Festival in New York, and festivals from Chicago to Telluride, Wichita, Reno and Galveston. Matrix opened shows for or shared bills with virtually all of the "name" big bands of the day -- Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson -- and such diverse artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Weather Report, Pat Metheny and Joe Pass. There were engagements at jazz clubs from Miami to Seattle, New York to Santa Fe, and concerts and clinics at schools in most of the States of the Union. The band released four albums, for RCA, Warner Brothers and Pablo Records.

Mike Hale, Larry Darling, Jeff Pietrangelo (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Kurt Dietrich (trombone) Brad McDougall (bass trombone, valve trombone)
John Kirchberger (reeds)
John Harmon (keyboards)
Randy Tico (bass)
Mike Murphy (drums)
  1. King Weasel Stomp
  2. Spring
  3. Mountolive
  4. Come September
  5. Wizard
  6. Smile at the Foot of the Ladder
  7. Brown Boy
Recorded in August, 1978

Ralph Sutton - Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 30

We just saw - heard - Sutton recently in the Condon Mob set. André Previn, the conductor, once referred to Mr. Sutton as one of the few jazz pianists who had complete mastery of his instrument. The New Yorker called him "a piano specialist of astonishing skill." Milt Hinton, the great jazz bassist, who died in 2000, once said, "I'm glad to have passed through this life just to have met Ralph Sutton."

Ralph Sutton finally had his turn to perform in the famed Maybeck solo piano series in 1993. The top stride pianist still active in the 1990s, Sutton performs some of his specialties (including "Honeysuckle Rose," "Dinah," and "After You've Gone") and pays tribute to Bix Beiderbecke (performing two of his numbers), Fats Waller, and Willie "The Lion" Smith ("Echoes of Spring"). This recital is as joyful and as hard-swinging as one would hope. Scott Yanow

1. Honeysuckle Rose
2. In a Mist
3. Clothes Line Ballet
4. In the Dark
5. Ain't Misbehavin'
6. Echo of Spring
7. Dinah
8. Love Lies
9. Russian Lullaby
10. St. Louis Blues
11. The Viper's Drag
12. After You've Gone

Recorded August 8, 1993, Maybeck Recital Hall, Berkeley, California

Mal Waldron - On Steinway

Interesting that Jurek reviews this; the liner notes are by Yanow.

On Steinway was originally recorded in 1972 and issued on LP only in Japan on the independent Teichiku imprint. It contains four selections, all of which were composed by Mal Waldron. The pieces here are not Waldron's most adventurous, but that's just fine, because what's on offer is delightful. The opener, "Portrait of a Bullfighter," is compelling for its use of Latin rhythmic figures, and its transition into a ballad about halfway through. Waldron's use of a limited chromatic palette makes the piece taut yet dynamically fluid. "One for Bud" is Waldron's tribute to the pianist who influenced him most. It employs Powell's right-hand technique of creating long single-note runs, but Waldron imposes his own notion of phrasing, arpeggio, and scale while once more keeping a firm grip on the chord figures of the left hand. The most beautiful of these pieces is "For Erik Satie," in which the pianist employs a single-chord vamp for its entirety, while engaging mysterious, elliptical lyric figures in the melody. A ballad, it employs Eastern scales and modes in places, and the use of silence and space is pure Waldron. The set closes with "Paris Reunited," the longest thing here in which folk melodies, French popular tunes, and bebop are interlaced in swells of notes before shifting chromatic gears in the middle toward something moodier and melancholy, to the point of near elegy before coming out the other side into a swell of pastoral emotion. In sum, this is a fine and curious date; it showcases the pianist using the Steinway as a compositional element in his tunes and puts a different side of his mercurial musical personality on display. ~ Thom Jurek

1. Portrait Of A Bullfighter
2. One For Bud
3. For Eric Satie
4. Paris Reunited

Dave Frishberg - You're A Lucky Guy

As the reception for my first Frishberg post was favorable, here is another, although this one focuses more on non-Frishberg tunes and features soloists Bob Brookmeyer and Al Cohn. Frishberg initially made his name as a pianist (he was a member of the Zoot Sims/Al Cohn Quintet for a number of years) and his work on this recording is excellent. This disc is currently out-of-print. Enjoy! Scoredaddy

There is plenty of diversity on this prime Dave Frishberg set. Four songs (including vocal versions of "Truckin'" and &The Underdog") match Frishberg's piano with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, tenor saxophonist Al Cohn, bassist Jim Hughart, and drummer Nick Ceroli. Frishberg takes "That Old Feeling," "You're a Lucky Guy" (which he sings), and "Cheerful Little Earful" as piano solos, and there are also three wonderful duets with Cohn. Only two of the ten songs were written by Frishberg, so the emphasis is on his talents as a pianist and singer rather than as a lyricist. Recommended. Scott Yanow

Dave Frishberg (Piano, Vocals)
Bob Brookmeyer (Trombone)
Nick Ceroli (Drums)
Al Cohn (Tenor Sax)
Jim Hughart (Bass)

1 Truckin' (Bloom, Koehler) 3:14
2 Trav'lin' All Alone (Johnson) 3:30
3 The Underdog (Cohn, Frishberg) 4:29
4 That Old Feeling (Brown, Fain) 2:17
5 If Dreams Come True (Goodman, Mills, Sampson) 4:14
6 You're a Lucky Guy (Cahn, Chaplin) 3:02
7 P-Town (Cohn) 3:09
8 I Surrender, Dear (Barris, Clifford) 4:59
9 Saratoga Hunch (Frishberg) 5:22
10 Cheerful Little Earful (Gershwin, Rose, Warren) 2:51

Recorded at Sage & Sound Recording, Hollywood, CA in 1978

Gerry Mulligan - At Storyville

Check out Mulligan breaking his solo in "Limelight" to straighten out some wiseguy in the audience.

This live concert from the Storyville Club in Boston features Gerry Mulligan's Quartet in late 1956. Baritonist Mulligan had found a perfect partner in valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and (with the sympathetic support of bassist Bill Crow and drummer Dave Bailey) they romp through a variety of standards and group originals including such odd titles as "Bweebida Bwobbida," "Utter Chaos" (their theme song) and "Bike Up the Strand." A fine all-round performance from this cool-toned bop unit. ~ Scott Yanow

There is a romping self-confidence and cameraderie to this live date...For all the buttoned-down sobriety of this group, it isalso a fleet and powerful outfit, capable of generating a big, resonant sound. Mulligan takes the lion's share of solos, but Brookmeyer is often working softly just behind, his gentle attack and rhythmically relaxed delivery acting as counterpoise to the leader's unusually punchy articulation. Penguin Guide

Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax, piano)
Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone, piano)
Bill Crow (bass)
Dave Bailey (drums)

1. Bweebida Bobbida
2. The Birth Of The Blues
3. Baubles, Bangles And Beads
4. Rustic Hop
5. Open Country
6. Storyville Story
7. That Old Feeling
8. Bike Up The Strand / Utter Chaos
9. Blues At The Roots
10. Ide's Side
11. I Can't Get Started
12. Frenesi
13. Flash
14. Honeysuckle Rose
15. Limelight / Utter Chaos

omigod! omigod! omigod! omigod! omigod! omigod!

Django Reinhardt - Django With His American Friends

The re-upping of the Django Mosaic is all but impossible now - I'd have to eliminated an equal amount of files to make room with Rapidshares new "improvements." This might appeal to some, however. Tracklist in comments.

The Belgian-born Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt was the first great jazz musician to develop outside America, his staggering talent initially fueled by exposure to Louis Armstrong records. When American musicians visited Paris in increasing numbers in the 1930s, Reinhardt was a natural choice as an accompanist. That's the role he's usually heard in on this remarkable three-CD set, providing rhythm guitar and sometimes exemplary solos to a host of visitors that includes Coleman Hawkins, Dicky Wells, and Rex Stewart. As a result, the set provides both a thorough portrait of Reinhardt's Paris interactions with the Americans and a view of the American musical experience--at least the best part of it--in Europe throughout the late 1930s.

Most famous of the recordings here are likely those with Hawkins and Benny Carter. Hawkins spent several years in Europe and "Stardust" and "Crazy Rhythm" are important moments in the saxophonist's recordings. Even when Reinhardt is restricted to rhythm guitar, it's fascinating to hear the shift in the rhythmic structures of these pieces, his accents and sense of the beat being part of an original conception. The guitarist is heard to better effect, though, in groups with trombonist Dicky Wells and trumpeter Bill Coleman, particularly in the quintet that plays "Hangin' Around Boudon." Reinhardt also solos marvelously in a series of quartet recordings from 1939 with Ellingtonians, trumpeter Stewart and clarinetist Barney Bigard. These are first-rate American swing records with a difference, and the difference is Reinhardt's virtuosic fusion of American and European elements.

Striking, too, are Reinhardt's very different recordings with the harmonica player Larry Adler and violinist Eddie South. The tracks with Adler, including "Body and Soul," are particularly strange, with Adler's harmonica added to the already unusual violin, three guitars, and bass lineup of the Hot Club of France. South is heard in duet with Reinhardt on "Eddie's Blues" and also in two- and three-violin configurations with Stephane Grappelli and the Hot Club. An interpretation of Bach by South, Grappelli, and Reinhardt is a highly successful exercise in Baroque swing.

There are lost Americans here as well, musicians who never established significant reputations at home. Arthur Briggs's glorious lead trumpet sound adds a distinctive touch to both a Hawkins session and his own, while Freddy Taylor's voice lends an absolutely American accent to the Hot Club quintet's recordings of Stuff Smith's "I'se a Muggin'." The final tracks are 1945 big-band versions of four Reinhardt compositions. He's backed by His American Swing Band, otherwise known as the Air Transport Command Band, and it's a fitting conclusion to a fascinating collection. --Stuart Broomer

Django Reinhardt (guitar)
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Benny Carter (trumpet, alto sax)
Rex Stewart (clarinet)
Eddie South (violin)
Stephane Grapelli (piano, violin)
Alix Combelle (clarinet, alto and tenor sax)
Bill Coleman (trumpet)
Joseph Reinhardt (guitar)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jimmy McGriff - Something to Listen To (1970)

One for the recently departed organmeister, this Blue Note/United Artists release was the first McGriff album I purchased back in the mid-seventies. No CD reissue so far but the LP is in excellent shape so this rip to flac will do nicely. Unfortunately, producer Sonny Lester failed to see the point in listing the personnel and nobody seems to know who the guitarist and drummer are.

Jimmy McGriff (organ, piano)
probably Arthur "Fats" Theus (tenor sax)
Unknown guitar and drums

  1. Indiana
  2. Malcom's Blues
  3. Satin Doll
  4. Deb Sombo
  5. Something to Listen To
  6. Shiny Stockings

The Duke Ellington Album 'All Too Soon'

The quartet that went by the name "Quadrant" (guitarist Joe Pass, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Mickey Roker) recorded two albums for Pablo; this one has not been reissued on CD yet. For this project, the group plays nine Duke Ellington compositions, Billy Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train," and Juan Tizol's "Caravan." The four masterful musicians play up to their potential; the interplay and blend between Jackson and Pass is appealing, and there are a fair share of exciting moments on the respectful and swinging set. Highlights include "Caravan," "Mood Indigo," "Main Stem" and "Rocks In My Bed." ~ Scott Yanow

Milt Jackson (vibraphone)
Joe Pass (guitar)
Ray Brown (bass)
Mickey Roker (drums)

1. Caravan
2. Sophisticated Lady
3. All Too Soon
4. I'm Beginning To See The Light
5. Mood Indigo
6. Solitude
7. Take The 'A' Train
8. Main Stem
9. In A Sentimental Mood
10. Just A-Sittin' And A-Rockin'
11. Rocks In My Bed

Recorded at Group IV Studios, Hollywood, California on January 21, 1980

David S. Ware - Go See The World

"..,as Ibarra sends time to the bathroom for a break." Jurek never disappoints. The metaphysical consequences of the ability of Time to micturate leaves me speechless. It does not find Jurek so:

David S. Ware's debut album on Columbia Records proper (Columbia had licensed an earlier title from DIW) is perhaps the most "accessible" of his career thus far, which doesn't mean to insinuate it's smooth jazz or anything that resembles the music of Wynton Marsalis, either. This is out jazz, but it's not necessarily free jazz. The tunes Ware and his truly amazing band -- Susie Ibarra, drums; William Parker, bass; Matthew Shipp, piano -- have constructed for this date are elaborate studies in tonality, harmonic invention, and reconstructions of melodic identity as it presents itself in the jazz idiom. According to guitarist and frequent Ware and Shipp collaborator, Ware uses music to mark time, its passage, and significance as a creative element in and of itself. Go See the World takes to the challenge head-on. From the opening moments of Ware's bleating dissonance on "Mikuro's Blues," where he and Ibarra call into question the very invention of dynamic interplay -- held down on earth by Shipp's steady, shape-shifting modal chords and Parker's dancing bassline that always seems to know where it is no matter where the fire is -- and look to lift each other up with tempo changes, color shifts, timbral variations, and an all out attack on the tune's theme. On "Logistic," Shipp and Parker go toe to toe in an improvised workout that has them trading places in the rhythm section as Ibarra attempts to further their discussion in triple time. Ware takes the tune out with three trills that replace a melody that long ago dropped from sight. The hinge of the entire album is "The Way We Were" (yeah, the Marvin Hamlisch tune), where Coltrane's microphonic modalism meets Shipp's polytonal architecture of scale and Parker's scalar framework for a sonic exploration of gargantuan expanse. The skittering skeins of notes and chords Shipp lays down for the ballad have Ware dropping every tonal shade he can come up with on them, as Ibarra sends time to the bathroom for a break. The original melody slithers back in the window as a modal blues in Ware's brilliant, soulful grunt and wail. You can hear all the melancholic nostalgia in the world in his playing, which in itself resists the feeling as if it were the deadliest thing on earth. Ware is looking for alchemical transformation with his band, to take what was once sickly sweet and syrupy and make of it a vital force for change both musical and social. This tests the notion of interpreting standards to the breaking point and shatters them with a battering ram. I can see Barbara Streisand choking on this as if it were broken glass in her throat, yet she could not deny with her dying breath (nor could Hamlisch) the reinvention of the tune through a lyricism so pure it has been purged of false emotion and looks back only as a reference point for going further. Into what is what cannot be known, but further is both the question and the answer. Ware has gone and seen the world, and he's found it heartbreakingly beautiful, able to be understood only by the utterance of music. Thom Jurek

David S. Ware (tenor sax)
Matthew Shipp (piano)
William Parker (bass)
Susie Ibarra (drums)

1. Mikuro's Blues
2. Lexicon
3. Logistic
4. The Way We Were
5. Quadrahex
6. Estheticmetric
7. Rapturelodic

Recorded December 11-12, 1997, at Sound On Sound Studio, NYC

Slide Hampton - Drum Suite

From Mosaic:
"After two high-profile years (1957-59) with Maynard Ferguson as trombonist and key arranger/composer. Slide Hampton struck off on his own as the leader of his own ingeniously conceived octet. While the octet never got off the ground commercially, it was a major creative force in New York for three years, recording for Atlantic among other labels.

In April 1962, Slide was given the opportunity to record one album for Columbia's Epic label. The result was Drum Suite, on which Slide brought in guest artists Freddie Hubbard, Yusef Lateef, Tommy Flanagan and Max Roach. Lost in the shuffle of major label business, this album offered some of Slide's best writing, much of which was specifically written for Lateef and Roach.

We have resurrected this crown jewel in Hampton's woefully neglected octet discography and remixed it adding two additional tunes. Slide's arranging reverberates through the discogrophies of Ferguson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon and so many more, but it was when he was writing for himself that he reached his peak."

Freddie Hubbard, Hobart Dotson, Willie Thomas, (trumpets)
Slide Hampton, Benjamin Jacobs-El, (trombone)
George Coleman, Yusef Lateef, (tenor sax)
Jam Cameron, (baritone sax)
Yusef Lateef (flute)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Eddie Kahn (bass)
Max Roach, Vinnie Ruggiero (drums)

1 - Fump
2 - Lover
3 - Like Someone In Love
4 - Gallery Groove
5 - Our Waltz
6 - It's All Right With Me
7 - Stella By Starlight
8 - Drum Suite (Parts I-V)
9 - Well You Needn't
10 - Sleigh Ride

Ralph Sharon Sextet - Around the World in Jazz

An album from 1957 whose main interest possibly is the presence of Lucky Thompson in the lineup. Not to say the rest of the group is uninteresting, of course!

The group plays 12 originals by Ralph Sharon.

LAME 3.98 vbr0 + scans

Louis Smith - Smithville

Like his debut, Smithville is another set of thoroughly winning straight-ahead bop from the underappreciated trumpeter Louis Smith. Stylistically, there are no surprises here -- this is mainstream bop and hard bop, comprised of original and contemporary bop numbers, as well as standards ("There'll Never Be Another You," "Embraceable You") -- but since the music is performed so well, it doesn't matter. There is genuine passion to this music, not only from Smith, but also from pianist Sonny Clark, tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor. It's a first-rate hard bop set that deserves wider distribution than it has received. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Memphis trumpeter Louis Smith had an almost mythical career. Smith started off in fast company that included Kenny Burrell, Cannonball Adderley, and Zoot Sims, then recorded two rare albums, and finally retired from the scene to become a music teacher, only to return to music in 1978. One of those rare LPs, 1958's Smithville, is mainstream hard bop of the highest order. While there are no surprises per se, this set features an incredible group--Monk's right-hand man tenor saxophonist Charles Rouse, post-bop ace pianist Sonny Clark, Miles Davis bassist Paul Chambers--playing with a genuine fervor. Smithville is a virtual must-have for hard bop fanatics.

Louis Smith (trumpet)
Sonny Clark (piano)
Charlie Rouse (tenor sax)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Art Taylor (drums),

1. Smithville
2. Wetu
3. Embraceable You
4. There Will Never Be Another You
5. Later
6. Au Privave
7. Bakin' (Aka Tunesmith)
8. There Will Never Be Another You (mono take)

Hackensack: March 30, 1958

Louis Smith - Here Comes Louis Smith

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

Recorded in NYC Feb. 4 and Feb. 9, 1957

Stanley Turrentine - The Return Of The Prodigal Son

Put this next to A Bluish Bag and Duke Pearson's The Right Touch and you have all of Turrentine's studio work for 1967.

Tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine is best known for his soul-jazz outings of the 1960s, and that feeling suffuses the 1967 session recordings collected on The Return Of The Prodigal Son. Working with a tentet--including a crack rhythm section of bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Ray Lucas, and pianist McCoy Tyner--Turrentine takes on a program of blues, ballads, standards and Latin-tinged tunes.

Duke Pearson's rich, ear-catching arrangements make full use of the larger group instrumentation, but it's the dynamism of the rhythm section and Turrentine's soulful lines that stand out. Highlights include the saxman's take on several classic R&B tunes, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Dr. Feelgood."

Stanley Turrentine (tenor sax)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
Blue Mitchell (trumpet)
James Spaulding (alto sax, flute)
Joe Farrell (tenor sax, flute)
Duke Pearson (organ, arr)
Joe Shepley (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Marvin Stamm (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Julian Priester (trombone)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Ray Lucas (drums)

1. Return Of The Prodigal Son
2. Pres Delight (Flying Jumbo)
3. Bonita
4. New Time Shuffle
5. Better Luck Next Time
6. Ain't No Mountain High Enough
7. Dr. Feelgood
8. The Look Of Love
9. You Want Me To Stop Loving You
0. Dr. Feelgood (alt)

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, June 23 and July 28, 1967

Don Ellis - 1961 Out of Nowhere

This formerly unknown date was released for the first time on this 1988 CD; chances are that the short-lived Candid label died before the music could be put out. Don Ellis, one of the most original trumpeters to emerge in the early 1960's, performs ten standards on a trio session with pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow (who was making his recording debut) but the music is far from routine or predictable. Ellis takes an unaccompanied trumpet solo on "Just One Of Those Things," "All The Things You Are" is a trumpet-bass duet and Ellis interacts with Bley on a moody "My Funny Valentine." The players constantly take chances with time but there are few slipups or hesitant moments. A fascinating and long-lost session.
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Legendary jazzmen, Don Ellis, Paul Bley and Steve Swallow were working in New York's Greenwich Village at the time of this 1961 recording and the jazz they play is very much that of a regularly performing group. It is not, however, the music of a cosy session filler, and despite the familiarity of the material used, it stretches the artistic input of all three men involved. At the time there might have seemed a wide stylistic gulf between Don Ellis and Paul Bley but the reality was that they had more in common than was immediately apparent. Don Ellis trumpet, Paul Bley piano, Steve Swallow bass three men at the height of their creative powers.

01. Sweet and Lovely (Arnheim/LeMare/Tobias) - 6:05
02. My Funny Valentine (Hart/Rodgers) - 4:24
03. I Love You (Porter) - 4:34
04. I'll Remember April (DePaul/Johnston/Raye) - 3:27
05. Just One of Those Things (Porter) - 3:38
06. You Stepped Out of a Dream (Brown/Kahn) - 3:40
07. All the Things You Are (Hammerstein/Kern) - 6:03
08. Out of Nowhere (Green/Heyman) - 3:35
09. Just One of Those Things (Porter) - 3:26
10. I Love You (Porter) - 5:36

Don Ellis (trumpet)
Paul Bley (piano)
Steve Swallow (bass)

Recorded at Nola Penthouse Studios, New York on April 21, 1961

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Art Pepper - No Limit

No longer making a comeback, in 1977 Art Pepper had firmly reinstalled himself on the jazz scene. He was playing with all of his old facility and a new depth of expression born out of the pain of his ruinous years and the joy of his personal and artistic rebirth. No Limit found Pepper once again in the company of the rapidly developing young pianist George Cables, who had been so important to the success of The Trip. Pepper and Cables were to make ten more albums together over the next few years. Drummer Carl Burnett, another of Pepper's favorites, was on the date along with the powerful bassist Tony Dumas. The session included a moving performance of "Ballad of the Sad Young Men" and the Latin abandon of "Mambo de la Pinta," with Pepper overdubbing a wild chase on tenor and alto.

Art Pepper's third recording in his comeback years was recorded in a studio but has the emotional intensity and chance-taking improvisations of his live concerts of the period. Joined by his regular group (pianist George Cables, bassist Tony Dumas, and drummer Carl Burnett), Pepper performs lengthy versions of three of his originals (including the modal "My Laurie") and "Ballad of the Sad Young Men." "Mambo de la Pinta" is a little unusual because Pepper overdubbed himself on tenor to join his alto in the ensembles. Throughout this album (and during his final ten years), Art Pepper played every note as if it might be his last one. The passion displayed on this particular album is enough of a reason by itself to acquire it. ~ Scott Yanow

Art Pepper (alto and tenor sax)
George Cables (piano)
Tony Dumas (bass)
Carl Burnett (drums)

1. Rita-San
2. Ballad Of The Sad Young Men
3. My Laurie
4. Mambo de la Pinta
5. No Limit

Recorded at Contemporary's Studio, Los Angeles, California on March 26, 1977

Helen Carr - The Complete Bethlehem Collection

With the exception of one song cut with Charles Mingus in 1946 and two with King Curtis later in the 1950s, this single CD (which consists of Helen Carr's two Bethlehem albums) has the complete output of the talented but short-lived singer who died in 1960 at age 36. Carr's interpretations fall between jazz and middle-of-the-road pop, yet her treatments of the standards consistently swing and uplift the material. On one occasion she is joined by a quintet with husband/pianist Donn Trenner, trumpeter Don Fagerquist and altoist Charlie Mariano, while the other session finds Carr interacting quite winningly with a trio consisting of guitarist Howard Roberts, bassist Red Mitchell and the muted (but fiery) trumpet of Cappy Lewis. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Helen Carr (vocals
Charlie Mariano (alto sax)
Howard Roberts (guitar)
Don Fagerquist (trumpet)
Donn Trenner (piano)
Cappy Lewis (trumpet)
Red Mitchell (bass)
Max Bennett (bass)
Stan Levey (drums)

1. Not Mine
2. I Don't Want To Cry Anymore
3. Tulip Or Turnip
4. Memory Of The Rain
5. Down In The Depths Of The 90th Floor
6. You're Driving Me Crazy
7. I'm Glad There Is You
8. Moments Like This
9. Then You've Never Been Blue
10. Summer Night
11. Got A Date With An Angel
12. Why Do I Love You
13. Do I Worry
14. I've Got A Feelin' You're Foolin'
15. Be Careful, It's My Heart
16. My Kind Of Trouble Is You
17. Lonely Street
18. Symphony
19. You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me
20. Bye Bye Baby

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Artie Shaw - Highlights from Self Portrait (1937-1954)

Culled from a five-disc retrospective of Shaw's career, this tidy roundup features material from across the popular and critically acclaimed clarinetist and bandleader. And while 14 tracks is somewhat on the skimpy side, the collection will work well for Shaw newcomers in search of a well-balanced introduction. The set benefits greatly from sparkling sound and the artist's shrewd hand in picking out all the songs included for the box set. The bulk of the sampler includes tracks from Shaw's 1938-1945 big band prime, including "Nightmare," "Free Wheeling," "Frenesi," and a stunning strings-augmented version of his first big hit, "Begin the Beguine." The disc also features Billie Holiday's one-off vocal with him, "Any Old Time," and such later highlights from the '50s as a sumptuous reading of "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" (Shaw is featured with a small combo) and the Gramercy Five cut "Scuttlebutt." Along with Hank Jones and Tal Farlow, who are heard on the Gramercy Five side, the collection features such swing royalty as Buddy Rich, George Auld, and Roy Eldridge. With quality like this, it's only a matter of time before Shaw newbies will want to head back to pick up all five discs.

1. Nightmare
2. Free Wheeling
3. Any Old Time
4. Carioca
5. Frenesi
6. Star Dust
7. There'll Be Some Changes Made
8. Two In One Blues
9. Bedford Drive
10. Summertime
11. Begin The Beguine
12. Afro-Cubana
13. Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered
14. Scuttlebutt

Artie Shaw And His Orchestra - 1941-1942

In the summer of 1941, Artie Shaw organized yet another big band, his fourth in five years. This particular ensemble was one of his most fun groups, featuring trumpeter/singer Hot Lips Page, trombonist Jack Jenney, tenor saxophonist Georgie Auld, pianist Johnny Guarnieri, drummer Dave Tough, and a full string section with some arrangements by trombonist Ray Conniff. All but the last six recordings of this big band are on this CD, including "Blues in the Night," the adventurous "Nocturne," "Take Your Shoes off, Baby," "Just Kiddin' Around," "Dusk," and the two-part "St. James Infirmary." The music alternates between swing, Hot Lips Page features, and classical-oriented works, succeeding on all levels. But shortly after Pearl Harbor, Artie Shaw called it quits again, enlisting in the navy. ~ Scott Yanow

Artie Shaw (clarinet)
Ray Conniff (trombone)
Max Kaminsky (trumpet)
Johnny Guarnieri (piano)
Georgie Auld (tenor sax)
Hot Lips Page (trumpet, vocals)
Dave Tough (drums)

1. This Time The Dream's On Me
2. Blues In The Night
3. Nocturne
4. Rockin' Chair
5. Through The Years
6. If I Love Again
7. Is It Taboo (To Fall In Love With)
8. I Ask The Stars
9. Beyond The Blue Horizon
10. Take Your Shoes Off Baby
11. Make Love To Me
12. Solid Sam
13. Just Kiddin' Around
14. To A Broadway Rose
15. St. James Infirmary (side A)
16. St. James Infirmary (side B)
17. Deuces Wild
18. Dusk (Evensong)
19. Suite No. 8
20. Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat
21. I Don't Want To Walk Without You
22. Somebody Loves Me
23. Not Mine

Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron - I Remember Thelonious; Live at Jazz In'It

Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron have recorded several times as a duo; this live set from the 1992 Jazz in'It Festival in Verona, Italy, features a program devoted almost exclusively to the works of Thelonious Monk. Although the soprano saxophonist and the pianist work very well together and the audience is respectfully silent during each piece, Waldron is stuck playing a rather inferior instrument that sounds particularly out of tune on the lower end of the keyboard, much like the lousy piano which he was stuck with during his famous 1961 concert at the Five Spot in New York City. Fortunately, Waldron makes the best of the situation and provides superb accompaniment for Lacy's adventurous flights as well as offering his trademarked dark but fascinating solos. Several of the pieces segue directly from one to the next without a break, but the duo isn't playing abbreviated medleys but complete versions of each song. Highlights include a sauntering "Reflections," a dramatic "'Round Midnight" which is made even more eerie by the piano's strange sound, and a surprise encore of Bud Powell's "I'll Keep Loving You." This is a fascinating if not quite essential CD by Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron. ~ Ken Dryden

Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Mal Waldron (piano)

1. Monk's Dream
2. Reflections
3. Epistrophy
4. Misterioso
5. Let's Call This
6. 'Round Midnight
7. Evidence
8. Well, You Needn't
9. I'll Keep Loving You

Recorded live at Jazz in' It Festival: Vignola, Italy on June 28, 1992

Stan Kenton - Kenton's West Side Story (1961)

West Side Story, the musical, had opened at the Winter Garden in New York City in September, 1957. The Kenton orchestra's interpretation of the brilliant Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim score corresponded with the release in September, 1961 of the film adaptation.

Following its initial release, Kenton's West Side Story enjoyed a substantial 28-week run on the Billboard album charts, peaking at #16 during November of '61; soon afterwards receiving a Grammy Award for the best big band jazz recording of the year. - Ted Daryll

When the producers of the film West Side Story heard a sampling of what the Stan Kenton Orchestra had done to their score, they were disappointed that they had not thought to ask the band to play on the soundtrack. Johnny Richards' arrangements of ten of the famous play's melodies are alternately dramatic and tender with plenty of the passion displayed by the characters in the story. Soloists include altoist Gabe Baltazar, veteran tenor Sam Donahue and trumpeter Conte Candoli, but it is the raging ensembles that are most memorable about the classic recording. This CD reissue is highly recommended. - Scott Yanow

Dalton Smith, Bud Brisbois, Conte Candoli, Larry McGuire, Bob Rolfe, Sanford Skinner, Ernie Bernhardt (trumpets)
Dwight Carver, Gene Roland, Joe Burnett, Keith LaMotte, Gordon Davison (mellophoniums)
Bob Fitzpatrick, Paul Hedorff, Jack Spurlock, Jim Amlotte, Dave Wheeler (trombones)
Clive Acker (tuba)
Gabe Baltazar (alto sax)
Sam Donahue, Paul Renzi (tenor sax)
Marvin Holladay (baritone sax)
Wayne Dunstan (baritone and bass sax)
Stan Kenton (piano)
Pete Chivily (bass)
Jerry McKenzie (drums)
Larry Bunker, Lou Singer, George Acevedo, Mike Pacheco (percussion)
Johnny Richards (arrangements)
  1. Prologue
  2. Something's Coming
  3. Maria
  4. America
  5. Tonight
  6. Cool
  7. I Feel Pretty
  8. Officer Krupke
  9. Taunting Scene (The Rumble)
  10. Somewhere-Finale
Recorded March 15, 16 and April 11, 1961

Art Farmer - Listen To Art Farmer and the Orchestra

This was included in the Jazztet Mosaic.

Reviewing the Mosaic set, Andrew Hovan said: "...The pick of the crop though is Listen to Art Farmer and the Orchestra a 1962 affair for full orchestra arranged by Oliver Nelson and featuring a bevy of New York’s finest such as Phil Woods, Clark Terry, Jimmy Cleveland, Jim Hall, and Tommy Flanagan. The charts are beyond the ordinary and Farmer flourishes in this creative environment."

This delightful CD features Art Farmer with a large orchestra not long after he switched from trumpet to flugelhorn. Oliver Nelson's arrangements provide great backdrops for the leader, as do the mix of dependable studio musicians and outstanding jazzmen assembled for the three sessions, including Tommy Flanagan, Phil Woods, Clark Terry, and Jim Hall, to name a few. The choice of material is inspiring: a snappy "Raincheck," and Farmer's moody "Rue Prevail," and a relatively new work by John Coltrane, "Naima," which turns into a richly textured tour de force in the hands of Farmer & Co. This album was re-released as a part of the Verve Elite limited edition series in late 1997; less than a year later it was already out of print. Don't wait too long to seek this highly recommended CD. ~ Ken Dryden

Monday, May 26, 2008

Jackie McLean - Swing, Swang, Swingin' (TOCJ)

Yep, I realize that most of you have this several times over, but Gokudo artwork notwithstanding, this is the Japanese TOCJ (I dunno, don't ask) version.

One of Jackie McLean's earliest Blue Notes, Swing, Swang, Swingin' parts company with the vast majority of his output for the label by concentrating chiefly on standards (only one of the seven tunes is a McLean original). Perhaps as a result of Blue Note's more prepared, professional approach to recording sessions, McLean sounds invigorated here, catapulting each melody forward before launching into a series of impassioned improvisations. Not that every track is a mind-blowing meltdown -- McLean's playing always fits the mood of the song -- but his total commitment to the material is evident throughout the album. He's also very much the focal point of the quartet, which includes pianist Walter Bishop, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Art Taylor. McLean's unique, cutting tone -- always threatening to go ever so slightly out of tune -- lends a particular urgency to his melody statements and extended notes, highlighted by an intense and swinging version of Cole Porter's "I Love You" and an exuberant take on Irving Berlin's "Let's Face the Music and Dance." Though Bishop and Taylor are less well-known than their compatriots, they offer active support that helps push McLean even more. Swing, Swang, Swingin' may not be as groundbreaking as McLean's more modernist work, but it's a solid session from an artist just beginning an incredible hot streak. ~ Steve Huey

Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Walter Bishop Jr. (piano)
Jimmy Garrison (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. What's New
2. Let's Face the Music and Dance
3. Stablemates
4. I Remember You
5. I Love You
6. I'll Take Romance
7. 116th and Lenox

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 2 or 20, 1959

Count Basie - 1938-1939 (Chronological 504)

The second Count Basie release on the Classics label, 1938-1939 offers a generous helping of the prime, groundbreaking swing the group brought to the national limelight from 1936-1942. These original Decca sides include everything from full-band charts by arranger Eddie Durham and fine vocals by Jimmy Rushing and Helen Humes to rare cuts of Basie accompanied only by his rhythm section. And, of course, there are many fine solos by star instrumentalist and jazz legend Lester Young, who came up with Basie between 1936-1940. In addition to Young's fine tenor saxophone statement on "Every Tub," other stellar contributions are made by trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, trombonist Dickie Wells, and unsung reed player Herschel Evans, whose tenor solos on "Blue and Sentimental," "Doggin' Around," and his own composition "Texas Shuffle" especially stand out. Throughout the set, rhythm section members drummer Jo Jones, bassist Walter Page, and guitarist Freddie Green provide the kind of streamlined swing that not only became manna for dancers during the late '30s, but also garnered the admiration of jazz musicians all over the world. This is a nicely varied and highly gratifying set of Basie tunes. The sound is great too. ~ Stephen Cook

Count Basie (piano)
Lester Young (clarinet, tenor sax)
Herschel Evans (clarinet, alto and tenor sax)
Buck Clayton (trumpet)
Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet)
Benny Morton (trombone)
Freddie Green (guitar)
Helen Humes (vocals)
Walter Page (bass)
Jo Jones (drums)

1. Blues In The Dark
2. Sent For You Yesterday
3. Every Tub
4. Now Will You Be Good
5. Swinging The Blues
6. Mama Don't Want No Peas An' Rice An' Cocoanut Oil
7. Blue And Sentimental
8. Doggin' Around
9. Stop Beatin' Around The Mulberry Bush
10. London Bridge Is Fallin' Down
11. Texas Shuffle
12. Jumpin' At The Woodside
13. How Long, How Long Blues
14. The Dirty Dozen
15. Hey Lawdy Mama
16. The Fives
17. Boogie Woogie
18. Dark Rupture
19. Shorty George
20. The Blues I Like To Hear
21. Do You Wanna Jump Children
22. Panassie Stomp
23. My Heart Belongs To Daddy
24. Sing For Your Supper
25. Oh! Red

Wynton Kelly - Someday My Prince Will Come

Pianist Wynton Kelly is heard on this CD reissue (the ten songs from the original LP plus five "new" alternate takes) with either bassist Sam Jones and drummer Jimmy Cobb or bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones. His light touch and perfect taste are very much present along with a steady stream of purposeful single-note lines that are full of surprising twists. Trumpeter Lee Morgan and tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter drop by for one song (the blues "Wrinkles"), but otherwise this recommended set (a definitive Wynton Kelly release) showcases magical trio performances. ~ Scott Yanow

It’s tempting to play the “Six Degrees of Separation” game with Miles Davis and see if you can actually link every jazz musician back to him. This is due to the fact that Miles recorded quite a few classic albums, but was also responsible for fostering talented artists in his band that went on to record exceptional sessions of their own. Maiden Voyage and A Love Supreme come to mind.

Although not an adventurous as Hancock or Coltrane, Wynton Kelly was one of Miles’ greatest sidemen, although his contributions to sessions like Kind of Blue frequently remain in the shadow of the other contributors. His playing was so unique and inspired that Miles even replaced Bill Evans with him on one tune because he thought Kelly would interpret it better. Although mainly known for his contribution to other people’s work, Kelly did record an album or two under his own name that give us the opportunity to see what he would do when given the chance to lead.

Someday My Prince Will Come is mostly standards, which is as it should be; Kelly was always quite at home with them and had the gift of being able to play other people’s songs as if they were exactly how the composer intended them to be heard. Although most of these songs have been played hundreds of times, each of these sparkling versions are close to definitive; Kelly invigorates each of them with spirited comping and brisk solos and, in some cases, a fresh perspective. The title track is a perfect example; Miles embraced the melancholy spirit in his version; Kelly chooses to crank the tempo up a notch and play happily, as if this is an unheard second version of the tune where Snow White has actually found her Prince Charming.

The rhythm session is quite stellar and would let any jazz musician rest easy before a recording date. Paul Chambers seems to have played on about half of all jazz sessions recorded in the fifties and sixties and is quite at home in any setting. His dextrous bowed solos are always a delight to listen to and we get one here. Jimmy Cobb, the master of the rim shot, also keep the rhythm going. Along with the standards, Kelly contributes a few unremarkable originals that serve mainly as soloing vehicles. However, on “Wrinkles” we get to hear Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter sit in. Morgan contributes a rare muted solo and Shorter belts off sinuous lines after him.

Despite his playing on various classic sessions, Kelly was never in better form than on this album. A great piano trio date. ~ David Rickert

Wynton Kelly (piano)
Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Wayne Shorter (tenor sax)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Sam Jones (bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)

1. Someday My Prince Will Come
2. Gone With The Wind
3. Autumn Leaves
4. Come Rain Or Come Shine
5. Weird Lullaby
6. Sassy
7. Wrinkles
8. On Stage
9. Char's Blues
10. Love, I've Found You
11. Surrey With The Fringe On Top (take 3)
12. Joe's Avenue (take 4)
13. Someday My Prince Will Come (take 5)
14. Autumn Leaves (take 1)
15. Char's Blues (take 2)

New York: August 12, 1959 and Chicago: September 20-21, 1961

Benny Goodman - The Yale Archives Vol. 10

I picked up five of these, and haven't checked them out yet; one of them has Goodman with Herbie Hancock and Doc Cheatham. Should be....interesting. The Yale archives are the personal collection and holdings that Goodman bequeathed to Yale upon his death. So far as I know, he is still dead.

One of the most beloved jazz groups of all time was the original Benny Goodman Quartet which featured Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa. Despite its fame, the unit was only actually together for 16 months during 1936-38 and, even with occasional reunions through the decades, the Quartet only recorded one studio record after its original breakup. Yale Archives -- Vol 10 (Music Masters) is comprised of unreleased material from the three sessions that resulted in the 1963 RCA album (which is slated to be reissued again later in 1996). There are second versions of "Who Cares" and "Dearest" and a rehearsal excerpt of the blues "Four Once More" but otherwise the songs are completely different from what was originally relased; only "Liza" had been previously recorded by the classic quartet. It is quite unusual to hear these famous veterans interpreting such numbers as "Loves Ends a Little Gift of Roses," "Bernie's Tune," "East of the Sun" and "It's All Right with Me." Although there are times when one wishes that there were a bassist added and that Krupa would lay a bit easier on his bass drum, the relaxed music does swing and adds to the very rich legacy of Benny Goodman. Incidentally, this is the tenth release of "new" material that is drawn from the scores of private tapes that the King of Swing willed to the Yale University Music Library. ~ Scott Yanow

Benny Goodman (clarinet)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Lionel Hampton (vibes)
Gene Krupa (drums)

1. Dearest
2. Together
3. Who Cares?
4. September Song
5. Just One of Those Things
6. Love Sends a Little Gift of Roses
7. Oh, Gee! Oh, Joy!
8. Bernie's Tune
9. East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)
10. Four Once More
11. Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)
12. But Not for Me
13. Somebody Loves Me
14. It's All Right With Me

Pat Martino - Nightwings

I wonder whether the lack of posts of this fine guitarist means that some people here may be unfamiliar with his many great albums...

Marc Johnson - bass
Bill Stewart - drums
Pat Martino - guitar
James Ridl - piano
Bob Kenmotsu - tenor saxophone

Review by Robert Taylor

Recorded for Muse only a couple of months after Interchange and a few months before The Maker, the similarities in the recordings are evident. His connection with James Ridl is obvious and continued Martino's penchant for creative relationships with pianists, namely Eddie Green and Gil Goldstein. For this session, Bob Kenmotsu was added on tenor saxophone, and his unison lines with Martino are one of the many highlights here. Once again, Ridl is allowed ample space to explore his thoughtful ideas, especially on the excellent "Villa Hermosa." Martino favors a more-is-more approach here, a welcome change for fans of his earlier recordings. His chops are on full display on "Draw Me Down" and "Night Wings," but his experience prevents his impressive technique from being gratuitous or overbearing. Martino and Ridl couldn't be in better hands than with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Bill Stewart, who are also supplied with enough space to showcase their remarkable talents.

Tommy Flanagan - Something Borrowed, Something Blue

This is a typically flawless trio set from the tasteful and swinging bop-based pianist Tommy Flanagan. With the assistance of bassist Keter Betts and drummer Jimmie Smith on this CD reissue, Flanagan plays his original title cut and jazz originals by Thad Jones ("Bird Song"), Tadd Dameron, Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk ("Friday the 13th"), Wes Montgomery and Dizzy Gillespie. If Flanagan had not recorded so many equally rewarding sets during the past 20 years, this fine CD would have received a higher rating; virtually every one of his recordings is well worth picking up. ~ Scott Yanow

Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Keter Betts (bass)
Jimmie Smith (drums)

1. Bird Song
2. Good Bait 3. Peace
4. Friday The 13th
5. Something Borrowed, Something Blue
6. West Coast Blues
7. Groovin' High

Sunday, May 25, 2008

David S. Ware

Let's be bold: The David S. Ware Quartet is the best small band in jazz today. I realize that I will almost certainly hear another quartet, or trio or quintet or octet, this week or next, that will make me want to backpedal. But every time I see Ware's group or return to the records, it flushes the competition from memory - Gary Giddins

David S. Ware - Freedom Suite (Flac)

Performing and recording the music of another innovator is probably the most profound challenge a jazzman can face. Especially difficult is reinterpreting a piece that brings forth memories of the originator every time it's played; and this predicament doubles when the piece involved is programmatic, rather than just one tune.

Through careful planning and -- to be honest -- luck, tenor saxophonist David S. Ware and his quartet have avoided these pitfalls with their version of Sonny Rollins' Freedom Suite, originally done in 1958. For a start, unlike Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk -- to name three other jazz stars whose works are constantly being recast -- no one else has tried to take on Rollins' masterwork. Additionally, although the piece itself presaged a group of equally important thematic Pan African and Black Nationalist compositions by Max Roach -- who also played on the disc -- Charles Mingus and Coltrane, the suite itself is mostly based on tone and dynamic variations, rather than definitive motifs.

By more than doubling its length to 39:24 minutes from 19:29 minutes and dividing it into four parts, the Ware quartet can then construct its variations on the major theme and go on from there to give it an individual reading. Especially salutary is the blustering tone of Ware, who was not only influenced by Rollins, but over the years has counted the older saxophonist as a mentor. He, bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp has been together for more than a decade, so their close rapport and intuitive support are even more pronounced then the interaction in Rollins' pick up group of 1958.

In truth, as well, Parker, whose rooted time keeping and innovatory arco and pizzicato is used to good effect here, is probably an even better bassist than early bopper Oscar Pettiford who recorded on the original LP. At the same time, Shipp, who has no role model to fall back on, creates a new, dramatic part for himself, full of obbligatos, low frequencies and lots of left hand action. Only young drummer Guillermo E. Brown suffers in comparison to Roach -- who wouldn't -- but except for some polyrhythms in the third section, he mostly limits himself to cymbal shimmers, press rolls and general accompaniment.

More ferocious in his output than Rollins was in his day, Ware's blurred growls and buzz tones are a less conventional response to the material. But his embellishments add R&B shouting rather than the sort of extended technique that is Ware's usual stock in trade. It's noteworthy too that in the second section, the pianist's andante syncopation have a Wynton Kelly cast to them and are actually the equivalent in this version to the sort of chording the later provided on 1950s and 1960s sessions. That section ends with an extended sprayed cadenza from the saxist, culminating in a fog horn cry over top of pedal-point arco ostinato from the bassist.

Moving between modal accompaniment and a version of a classical fantasia with a gentle touch, Shipp sometimes reprises the theme, but usually lets Ware build the connective tissue. Ultimately it's the saxophonist who introduces the thematic resolution on the final track. But he does so through variations without explicitly stating the theme. Meanwhile Shipp reintroduces right-handed tremolos that serve as his version of hard- bop comping, as Parker's tone constantly shifts and convenes any errant music. In conclusion, Ware advances a triumphant run through of the main theme using the same harsh, distinctive intonation with which he began the suite, and everyone gets in a lick or two before the end.

If there's any downside to the quartet's triumphal run through of this composition, is that it may encourage others with less acumen to follow suit and unsuccessfully take on other modern jazz classics. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but this Freedom Suite can stand with the original through transmogrification. - Ken Waxman

David S. Ware (tenor saxophone)
Matthew Shipp (piano)
William Parker (bass)
Guillermo E. Brown (drums)

1. Freedom Suite 1
2. Freedom Suite 2
3. Freedom Suite 3
4. Freedom Suite 4

David S. Ware - Renunciation (Flac)

The transfer of music from a musician’s inner being to the outside happens as a result of a mysterious internal drive that can never really be explained. This drive motivates the expression of emotion intertwined with intellect, using musical instruments as the tools. How we hear this expression can bring us closer to our own inner beings: our “selves.” We have a chance to experience the process in the AUM Fidelity release, Renunciation, which documents the last performance of the David S. Ware Quartet at the 2006 Vision Festival XI in New York.

The words light and airy are unlikely candidates to describe this quartet’s music. This music is serious business. For Ware, as he specifies in the liner notes, the crux of the music lies in his gratitude that he can share an awareness attained from his own personal revelations as a saxophone player. The rest of the quartet, with pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker and drummer Guillermo E. Brown , join him as his entourage of music acolytes.

Notwithstanding the encore, “Saturnian,” the recording both opens and closes with peals of Ware’s careful and hyperbolic placement of a theme on his tenor in honor of the Hindu God, Lord Ganesh. The bass and the drums align in the rhythmic pulse and extend the theme’s honesty with fluctuating pizzicatos and a surround of cymbal swishes. The piano supports the variations on this theme with adamant chordal emphasis.

“Renunciation Suites I, II, and III” constitute the body of the recording. As Ware also clarifies in the liner notes, these pieces manifest the essence of how he plays. At any given moment, his total “self,” not simply his musical “self,” blends with the universe.

His approach challenges the listener to exit any blasé listening predisposition. Perhaps then the listener can absorb the extravagant tenor arpeggios that start at a mid-range tonal level and reach far above and below the pitch where they began. Perhaps the listener can absorb the conversations that the tenor is having with the piano, drums and bass and seize onto the way in which the instruments alter their colors to respond to one another. Perhaps the listener can disconnect ever so slightly from the music to notice how the musicians identify and act on the expenditure of energy necessary to maintain the integrity of a series of continuous explosive moments. The listener might also be able to infer that Shipp, Parker and Brown engage in the music with the same intensity and purpose as is exhibited by their band leader.

For those unable to hear the last performance of this quartet, Renunciation will be more than rewarding. For those who were fortunate enough to hear the quartet, the recording will revivify the performance. It is vivid and bright, right down to the exhilarating introduction which Lewis Barnes relishes when he introduces the four musicians. The recording is pure of heart, only as David S. Ware would have it. Lyn Horton

David S. Ware (tenor saxophone)
Matthew Shipp (piano)
William Parker (bass)
Guillermo E. Brown (drums)

1. Introduction
2. Ganesh Sound
3. Renunciation Suite
4. Renunciation Suite
5. Renunciation Suite
6. Mikuro's Blues
7. Ganesh Sound
8. Saturnian

Recorded by Stefan Heger at Vision Festival XI on June 18, 2006

David S.Ware - Flight of I

This is the final recording of the David S. Ware Quartet with drummer Marc Edwards, who would be replaced by Whit Dickey, who would be replaced later by Susie Ibarra. What is most notable about Flight of I is how Ware, completely oblivious to his critics, turned in his straightest ever recording, though no one could remotely call it "inside." The disc opens with one of Ware's compositions, "Aquarian Sound," which showcases the stunning complexity and beauty of Matthew Shipp's pianism. Opening with a series of vamps and augmented minor chords, he lays an opening ground for Ware to join the band. As bassist William Parker comes along the bottom floor of the beat, Ware enters with his five part ostinato before moving off into one of his high-wire broad-toned solos. The break is brief and ushers in Shipp's solo, which is the body and soul of the tune. Here Shipp builds one harmonic bridge after another, knotting them together with blocks of arpeggios that move along the perimeter of the empty intervals and stamps out territory within them. One of the other wonders of this album is Ware's employment of standards, here in the shape of the lovely "Yesterdays" by Jerome Kern and Harry Warren's "There Will Never Be Another You." Again, with Shipp as a foundation point and Parker's willingness to restructure the meter, Ware can take the melody to its highest point and split it like lightning down the middle without losing its vulnerability or tenderness. The title track is a model study in the vein of mid-period Coltrane with McCoy Tyner. A series of chords are placed along a line, an intervallic series sketched and the construction of harmonic and contrapuntal statements begins. Once the seams are reached, the entire universe blows apart in ribbons of sound. There is plenty of magic here, and more mystery (check out the riveting arabesques on the closer "Infi-Rythms #1"), to be discovered by anyone willing to take a chance on one of the most original tenor players in free jazz. - Thom Jurek

David S. Ware (sax)
Matthew Shipp (piano)
William Parker (bass)

1. Aquarian Sound
2. There Will Never Be Another You
3. Sad Eyes
4. Flight of I
5. Yesterdays
6. Infi-Rhythms Number 1

Annie Ross - Gypsy

Depending on how you look at it, this post is either an extension of the jazz idiom, or a low point in our tastes.......naaaah, we haven't posted Saskia Laroo yet; we still have lower to sink.

This CD reissue brings back one of Annie Ross' most obscure albums of the 1950's. Recorded at a time when the singer was just starting to get known for her work with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, the set is a swinging but largely straight rendition of the score from the play "Gypsy." The all-star backup band mostly functions as an ensemble during the Buddy Bregman arrangements (although altoist Herb Geller and trombonist Frank Rosolino have short spots on "All I Need Is A Boy"), taking "Overture" as an instrumental that introduces some of the main melodies. Ross is in excellent form, performing a memorable version of the score's one real hit "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and somehow sounding serious on "Let Me Entertain You." Still, this release is mostly recommended to fans of show tunes and Annie Ross completists. ~ Scott Yanow

Annie Ross (vocals)
Conte Candoli (trumpet)
Russ Freeman (piano)
Pete Candoli (trumpet)
Herb Geller (alto sax)
Stan Getz (tenor sax)
Jim Hall (guitar)
Bill Perkins (baritone sax)
Richie Kamuca (tenor sax)
Rosolino (trombone)
Monty Budwig (bass)
Mel Lewis (drums)

1. Overture
2. Everything's Coming Up Roses
3. You'll Never Get Away
4. Some People
5. All I Need Is A Boy
6. Small World
7. Together
8. Let Me Entertain You
9. Reprise

Albert Ayler - Live in Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Sessions

This double CD from 1998 combines all of the music on tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler's In Greenwich Village recording with a two-album set from the same sessions, titled The Village Concerts (the latter taken from two concerts in 1966-1967). In addition, there is one number from 1965, originally included on the sampler The New Wave in Jazz, and a previously unissued (and incomplete) "Universal Thoughts" from the 1967 date, one of the very few examples of Ayler using a trombonist (the forgotten George Steele). Taken as a whole, these are among the most rewarding recordings that the controversial Ayler ever made. They will not convince detractors of the radical saxophonist's music but they are more accessible than much of his music. Teamed up with brother Donald Ayler on trumpet, violinist Michel Sampson, occasional cellist Joel Freedman, two bassists (Bill Fowell and either Henry Grimes or Alan Silva), and drummer Beaver Harris, Ayler uses simple march-like melodies, which could have come from 1905, as the basis for his improvisations, which often become quite violent. Among the pieces are "Truth Is Marching In," "Spirits Rejoice," "Angels" (an Albert Ayler duet with pianist Call Cobbs), "For John Coltrane," and "Change Has Come." Donald Ayler's bugle-like fanfares and the droning violin certainly make the ensemble's sound quite unique. ~ Scott Yanow

These stirring Albert Ayler performances were only sporadically available on LP two decades ago, making them highly sought-after items indeed. This two-CD set presents Ayler's Village Vanguard sets in all their rattling fervor (with remastering improvements), making 1998 a year when crucial pieces of this avant-garde jazzist's puzzle fell brilliantly into place. If anyone is recording music as fearless and commanding as this in jazz today, they deserve the spotlight.

There really was no one like Albert Ayler in jazz during the 1960s. Sure, John Coltrane could play monumentally complex sax, only to jettison the learned architecture for a complete reversal of virtuosity in his last works. And Pharoah Sanders could haunt and beguile with mournful cries and yawps. But Ayler was altogether different: he took the scarcest of melodies--folk and church tunes, really--and elevated them to spiritual zeniths. These live cuts were once super hard to find, on a scattering of LPs released in the 1970s. Collected as a whole on two CDs, they are a thing of pristine, if boundary-testing, beauty. Ayler takes barely any time at all before wailing into his stratospheric cries on tenor sax, and his brother Donald follows suit on trumpet with nearly the same quick leaps. The extended band includes, at its largest, the Ayler brothers with a full string quartet (Michael Sampson, violin; Joel Freedman, cello; Bill Folwell and Alan Silva, basses) and drummer Beaver Harris. They play numerous, almost easily-recognizable melodies from their oeuvre, including "Truth Is Marching In," "Spirits Rejoice," and "Omega Is the Alpha." They also offer "For John Coltrane," recorded in early 1967 after Trane's untimely demise. Spectacular would be a simple way to describe Ayler's ensemble and his compositions. But it wouldn't be out of proportion to the music. There's a reason, after all, that new jazz scion Anthony Braxton refers to avant-garde jazz of the late-1960s and after as the "post-Ayler continuum." Ayler pushed and pushed. And succeeded. --Andrew Bartlett

Albert Ayler (alto, tenor sax)
Don Ayler (trumpet)
Michael Samson (violin)
Bill Fowell (bass)
Henry Grimes (bass)
Alan Silva (bass)
Lewis Worrell (bass)
Beaver Harris (drums)
Sunny Murray (drums)

CD 1
1. Holy Ghost
2. Truth Is Marching In
3. Our Prayer
4. Spirits Rejoice
5. Divine Peacemaker
6. Angels

CD 2
1. For John Coltrane
2. Change Has Come
3. Light In Darkness
4. Heavenly Home
5. Spiritual Rebirth
6. Infinite Spirit
7. Omega Is The Alpha
8. Universal Thoughts

Recorded live at The Village Gate, New York, March 28, 1965; The Village Vanguard, New York, December, 18, 1966; The Village Theatre, New York, February 26, 1967

Gary Burton - The Groovy Sound of Music (1964)

My last 2 of 3 posts have been jazz interpretations of musicals so I guess I'm sort of on a Broadway kick with this one. Never reissued, this early album by Gary Burton has held up well over the years thanks to the imaginative arrangements by Burton and Gary McFarland. The cover says stereo but this is ripped from the original mono LP.

Aside from "My Favorite Things," jazz musicians haven't been particularly drawn to songs from The Sound of Music, so The Groovy Sound of Music songbook by Gary Burton is quite a treat. Recorded in late 1964 for RCA Victor, the young vibraphonist's incredible four-mallet technique is already well developed. Gary McFarland contributed four of the charts, backing Burton with strings, flutes, a French horn, and a rhythm section. Among his arrangements are a swinging "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and a gentle bossa nova treatment of "An Ordinary Couple." Burton is also no slouch as an arranger. One highlight is the incredible interaction between the leader and Bob Brookmeyer's valve trombone and Phil Wood's hot clarinet in "Maria." Equally compelling is Burton's driving approach to "My Favorite Things" (a complex chart that doesn't resort to copying John Coltrane's well-known recording), which hardly sounds like the work of a 21 year old. Even better is his gorgeous solo rendition of "Edelweiss." - Ken Dryden

Gary Burton (vibraphone, arranger)
Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone)
Phil Woods (alto sax, clarinet)
Joe Puma (guitar)
Steve Swallow (bass)
Joe Hunt (drums*)
Ed Shaughnessy (drums)
Gary McFarland (arranger*)
  1. Climb Ev'ry Mountain*
  2. Maria
  3. An Ordinary Couple*
  4. My Favorite Things
  5. Sixteen Going on Seventeen*
  6. Do-Re-Mi
  7. Edelweiss
  8. The Sound of Music*
Recorded December 21, 22, 1964

Lyle "Spud" Murphy - Gone With The Woodwinds

Not the Spud Murphy of Trainspotting: Your leisure is my pleasure, ken? My fellow Collette enthusiast, fslmy, will enjoy this, I think.

In the late '40s, Lyle Murphy, a top arranger during the swing era who led his own big band on dates from 1938-39, developed a 12-tone system of composing arranging. Although he spent much of his later career as a writer for films, he did record two jazz-oriented albums in the mid-'50s; the other set was for GNP Crescendo. This particular outing (originally cut for Contemporary and reissued on a 1997 CD) finds Murphy contributing 12-tone compositions (six of the ten pieces are his) and arrangements for five woodwinds, pianist Andre Previn, bassist Curtis Counce and drummer Shelly Manne. The ensembles do sound a bit odd, but the music swings in its own fashion and is more accessible than one would expect. Buddy Collette and Abe Most are among the reed players. An intriguing set. ~ Scott Yanow

Composer and arranger Lyle "Spud" Murphy was best known for developing his pioneering 12-tone Equal Interval System, developed to liberate composers from the constraints of classical forms and methods. Born in Berlin on August 19, 1908, and raised from the age of four in Salt Lake City, UT, Murphy was something of a child prodigy, mastering in succession the trumpet, all members of the saxophone family, and finally the remaining woodwinds. He began his professional career at 16, and in 1933 relocated to New York City, becoming a sought-after arranger. Murphy enjoyed his greatest success in collaboration with Benny Goodman, arranging the bandleader's hits "Get Happy" and "Jingle Bells"; as the decade waned, he set out for Hollywood, writing and arranging film scores for Columbia Pictures and adapting the children's perennial "Three Blind Mice" to serve as the theme for the popular slapstick trio the Three Stooges. From 1938 to 1941, he also led his own big band.

During World War II, Murphy served with the merchant marine. After his tour of duty ended, he returned to Hollywood, enjoying his most prolific period as a composer and over the course of his long career scoring in excess of 50 films in total. His unique, self-taught writing style intrigued so many colleagues that eventually Murphy agreed to document the process on paper, leading to courses in what he dubbed the Equal Interval System. Over the years to follow he trained thousands of students and professional musicians, among them Oscar Peterson, Gerald Wiggins, and Curtis Counce (who later played bass on Murphy's space age pop LPs New Orbits in Sound and Gone with the Woodwinds!). Following surgery, Murphy died in Hollywood on August 5, 2005. ~ Jason Ankeny

Buddy Collette (clarinet, flute, alto and tenor sax)
André Previn (piano)
Abe Most (clarinet, flute, alto sax)
Jack Dumont (clarinet, alto sax)
Chuck Gentry (bass and contrabass clarinet, baritone sax)
Russ Cheever (clarinet, soprano and alto sax)
Curtis Counce (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)

1. Fourth Dimension
2. Triton
3. Sophisticated Lady
4. Poly-Doodle
5. Perdido
6. Dizzy Dialogue
7. Blue Moon
8. Seismograph
9. These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)
10. Pemba

France Musique Jazz Club - Baptiste Trotignon and Friends

Here's a live club date recorded last Thursday at the Paris night-spot, Duc des Lombards. The leader is the pianist Baptiste Trotignon, a giant talent who impresses me more every time I hear his music. On this night, May 22 2008, he leads a group without bass or drums - but you won't miss them in the least!

Playing some amazing stuff with Baptiste are:
"Magic" Malik Mezzadri : flûte
Stéphane Belmondo : trompette
Rick Margitza : saxophone

I've uploaded the concert as it was recorded, in FLAC, with all the announcements and breaks, so you can enjoy it as it was performed.

Don't miss this concert, it is excellent!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kenny Dorham - Matador/Inta Something

Two full LPs are combined on this single CD. Both dates feature trumpeter Kenny Dorham and altoist Jackie McLean (two very compatible players) although the rhythm sections (pianist Bobby Timmons or Walter Bishop, bassist Teddy Smith or Leroy Vinnegar and drummer J.C. Moses or Art Taylor) differ between the two sessions. McLean was beginning to look forward and be influenced by the avant-garde; the passion he puts into his tone on such tunes as "Smile," "Beautiful Love," "It Could Happen to You" and "Lover Man" is memorable. Dorham was able to keep up with the times during this era and his three compositions (particularly "El Matador" and "Una Mas") add a lot to the music. This generous CD is worth picking up as an example of veteran players stretching the boundaries of hard bop. ~ Scott Yanow

Kenny Dorham's Matador can safely claim the all too common distinction of being a classic among jazz connoisseurs while virtually unknown to the casual listener. Dorham is joined here by Jackie McLean, Bobby Timmons, Teddy Smith, and J.C. Moses, all of whom deliver outstanding performances. More than anything, this session is perhaps best known for including a stunning version of McLean's composition "Melody for Melonae," used less than a month earlier on his groundbreaking Blue Note LP Let Freedom Ring. For this session, though, the tune is renamed "Melanie" and, if not better, this version at least rivals the take under McLean's leadership. For starters, the addition of another horn adds some tonal depth to the proceedings, a situation arguably lacking in the tune's earlier recording. Also of note is what has to be Bobby Timmons' most intense moment on record. One rarely has the opportunity to hear Timmons dig and scrape as hard as he does during this solo, and his barely audible vocal accompaniment (à la Bud Powell) only helps to prove this point. This is a case where a performer not commonly associated with seriously stretching out goes at it with a life-affirming fervor, making "Melanie" a treat for listeners who revel in emotional performances. Other highlights include the opener, "El Matador," a 5/4 number that, frankly, fades out just when things were getting good, and the otherwise unaccompanied Dorham/Timmons duet, "Prelude." A fantastic session by any standard. ~ Brandon Burke

1-6 (Matador)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Bobby Timmons (piano)
Teddy Smith (bass)
J.C. Moses (drums)
Sound Makers, New York: April 15, 1962

7-12 (Inta Something)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Walter Bishop Jr. (piano)
Leroy Vinnegar (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)
The Jazz Workshop, San Francisco, November 13, 1961

1. El Matador
2. Melanie
3. Smile
4. Beautiful Love
5. There Goes My Heart
6. Prelude
7. Una Mas
8. It Could Happen To You
9. Let's Face The Music And Dance
10. No Two People
11. Lover Man
12. San Francisco Beat

Coleman Hawkins - 1945 (Chronological 926)

Covering in detail a timeline from January 1944 to October 1945, this chapter in the Classics Coleman Hawkins chronology presents recordings he made for the Asch, Selmer, Capitol, Super Disc and V-Disc labels during what was an exciting and transitional period in the evolution of jazz. During the '40s Hawkins was deliberately aligning himself with young and innovative players; four of the sessions feature trumpeter Howard McGhee and pianist Sir Charles Thompson; bassist Oscar Pettiford was also an integral part of Hawk's mid-'40s West Coast band. Lush ballads and upbeat jam structures make for excellent listening throughout. Hawk is also heard sitting in with drummer Sid Catlett's all-stars, leading a quintet with the great Art Tatum at the piano, and working up his own extended set of "Variations" for solo tenor saxophone. While some commentators have focused unnecessary attention upon all-too-human drawbacks like Howard McGhee's addictions and occasional bouts of quarreling between Pettiford and Sir Charles, the music contained in this compilation stands squarely in its own light, unsullied by gossip or untoward circumstances. ~ arwulf arwulf

Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Howard McGhee (trumpet)
Sir Charles Thompson (piano)
Art Tatum (piano)
Billy Taylor (piano)
Tyree Glenn (trombone)
Vic Dickenson (trombone)
Allan Reuss (guitar)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Sid Catlett (drums)
Denzil Best (drums)

1. Ladies Lullaby
2. The Night Ramble
3. Leave My Heart Alone
4. Hawk's Variations-Part 1
5. Hawk's Variations-Part 2
6. April In Paris
7. Rifftide
8. Stardust
9. Stuffy
10. Hollywood Stampede
11. I'm Through With Love
12. What Is There To Say?
13. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
14. Too Much Of A Good Thing
15. Bean Soup
16. Someone To Watch Over Me
17. It's The Talk Of The Town
18. Just A Riff
19. Before Long
20. What's Happenin'
21. Mop De Mop Mop
22. My Ideal

Joe Venuti — Violin Jazz 1927 - 1934

Review by Scott Yanow

This hodgepodge sampler contains 14 of violinist Joe Venuti's better recordings from the 1927-34 period, many of them also featuring guitarist Eddie Lang. The performances are mostly drawn from sessions by Venuti's Blue Four with some of the soloists including Jimmy Dorsey (switching between clarinet, alto, trumpet and baritone), Frankie Trumbauer (on C-melody sax and bassoon), bass-saxophonist Adrian Rollini and, on "Sweet Lorraine," clarinetist Benny Goodman. The music is consistently exciting although serious collectors will want to acquire releases from the more complete European series instead."

For (much) more Joe Venuti check the December Archives. LAME3.98 vbr0

Jess Stacy - Tribute to Benny Goodman

This album was one of pianist Jess Stacy's last (he would soon drift into semi-retirement), even though he was only 50 at the time and lived until 1994. Stacy leads a reunion of swing veterans (most of whom had formerly been with Benny Goodman) in a nonet including trumpeter Ziggy Elman (on one of his last significant sessions) and either Vido Musso or Babe Russin on tenor. In addition, Stacy is showcased on four trio numbers. With few exceptions ("Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You" and "Blues for Otis Ferguson"), the music is all taken from the repertoire of Benny Goodman's swing band, including "King Porter Stomp," "When Buddha Smiles," "Roll 'Em," "Don't Be That Way," and a brief "Sing, Sing, Sing." Easily recommended to swing collectors. ~ Scott Yanow

Jess Stacy (piano)
Ziggy Elman (trumpet)
Vido Musso (tenor sax)
Babe Russin (tenor sax)
Heine Beau (alto sax)
Morty Corb (bass)
Artie Shapiro (bass)
Nick Fatool (drums)

1. Let's Dance
2. King Porter Stomp
3. Where Or When
4. Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You
5. When Buddha Smiles
6. I Must Have That Man
7. Roll 'Em
8. Don't Be That Way
9. Blues For Otis Ferguson
10. Sometimes I'm Happy
11. Sing Sing Sing
12. You Turned The Tables On Me
13. Down South Camp Meeting
14. Goodbye

Recorded in Hollywood, California on April 29 and October 15, 1954 and on October 6, 1955

Friday, May 23, 2008

Art Ensemble Of Chicago - Les Stances A Sophie

In 1970, the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago were living as expatriates in Paris. The group had only recently expanded to its permanent quintet status with the addition of drummer/percussionist Don Moye when they were asked by New Wave director Moshe Misrahi to provide the soundtrack for his movie, Les Stances a Sophie. The music was never used in the film but, luckily, it was recorded. The result was one of the landmark records of the burgeoning avant-garde of the time and, simply put, one of the greatest jazz albums ever.

On two of the tracks, the Art Ensemble is joined by vocalist Fontella Bass, at the time the wife of trumpeter Lester Bowie and riding the success of her pop-soul hit Rescue Me. She's featured most prominently on the opening number, Theme De Yoyo, an astounding piece that has achieved legendary status as the finest fusion of funk and avant-garde jazz ever recorded. The mix is indeed seamless, with Moye and Favors laying down a throbbing, infectious groove, Bass singing the surreally erotic lyrics with enormous soul and the horn players soloing with ecstatic abandon.

The remaining pieces cover a wide range stylistically with no less beauty and imagination, including two variations on a theme by Monteverdi, intense free improvising and soft, deeply probing sonic investigations.Their extensive knowledge of prior jazz styles, love of unusual sound sources (the so-called "little instruments) and fearless exploration of the furthest reaches of both instrumental and compositional possibilities came into full flower on this record. ~ Brian Olewnick

Lester Bowie (trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion)
Joseph Jarman (tenor, alto, and soprano sax, flute, percussion)
Roscoe Mitchell (soprano, alto, and bass sax, clarinet, flute, percussion)
Malachi Favors (bass, percussion)
Fontella Bass (vocal, piano)
Famoudou Don Moye (drums)

1. Theme de Yoyo
2. Theme de Celine
3. Variations Sur un Theme de Monteverdi (i)
4. Variations Sur un Theme de Monteverdi (ii)
5. Proverbes (i)
6. Theme Amour Universal
7. Theme Libre
8. Proverbes (ii)

July 22, 1970

Friday Fusion

Alphonso Johnson

I've had this LP for 30 years but these mp3 files were ripped from the CD reissue that a friend of mine has. I've always liked the mix of tunes & musicians and this is a good example of what was going on in the jazz/funk/fusion world of the mid-seventies.

After a short stint on trombone, Alphonso Johnson took up the electric bass in 1968. His early gigs included time with Horace Silver, Woody Herman (1972), Chuck Mangione (1973), and Chet Baker. Johnson rose to fame while touring and recording three albums with Weather Report (1974-1976). This was followed by stints with Billy Cobham (1976-1977), Flora Purim, and the Crusaders. Johnson's funky lines on electric bass have been quite influential and in great demand ever since, both in the studios and in the fusion/funk world. - Scott Yanow

A good jazz-funk-fusion album by Weather Report's bass player Alphonso Johnson, a few songs like "Stump" picked up some disco plays. It's nice to hear an album by a player of a particular instrument where the player and his instrument play a prominent role. This album abounds with muscle bass riffs; unlike Idris Muhammad's (drummer) albums, where the drums are indistinguishable. Other notable tracks include "Involuntary Bliss," "Pandora's Box," and "On the Case." - Andrew Hamilton

Alphonso Johnson (basses)
Dawilli Gonga (George Duke), Patrice Rushen, Ian Underwood (keyboards)
David Amaro, Lee Ritenour, Chris Bond, Blackbird McKnight (guitars)
Narada Michael Walden, Ndugu Leon Chancler (drums)
Airto Moreira, Alex Acuna (percussion)
Bennie Maupin (reeds)
Gary Bartz (soprano sax)
Flora Purim (vocals)
  1. Stump
  2. Involuntary Bliss
  3. Cosmoba Place
  4. Pandora's Box
  5. Up from the Cellar
  6. Amarteifio
  7. On the Case
  8. Unto Thine Own Eyes Be True
Recorded January and February, 1976

Count Basie and Zoot Sims - Basie & Zoot

One of the best of all of Basie's Pablos is the meeting with Zoot Sims 0n Basie & Zoot. It's almost worth having just for the snorting blues choruses the put down on "Hardav". Basie gets a bit too ripe when he turns to the organ for a wallow through "I Surrender Dear" but Sims always has a swinging line to put dow, and this was a well made match. Penguin Guide

This is a classic encounter that has been reissued on CD in the Original Jazz Classics series. Pianist Count Basie (in his best-small group outing of the 1970's) and tenor-saxophonist Zoot Sims were mutually inspired by each other's presence and, with the tasteful assistance of bassist John Heard and drummer Louie Bellson, they can be heard playing at the peak of their creative powers. Every listener interested in swinging jazz should pick up this disc, if only to hear these hard-charging versions of "I Never Knew," "It's Only A Paper Moon" and "Honeysuckle Rose." A gem, essential music. ~ Scott Yanow

Count Basie (organ, piano)
Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
John Heard (bass)
Louie Bellson (drums)

1. I Never Knew
2. It's Only A Paper Moon
3. Blues For Nat Cole
4. Captain Bligh
5. Honeysuckle Rose
6. Hardav
7. Mean To Me
8. I Surrender, Dear

RCA Studios , New York: April 9, 1975

Wynton Kelly - Piano Interpretations

Cover art by Dr. Seuss? Nope, by Gil Mellé.

The obscure music on this CD has rarely been reissued. Pianist Wynton Kelly is heard with a trio (Franklin Skeete or Oscar Pettiford on bass and drummer Lee Abrams) at the age of 19 when he was working as an accompanist for Dinah Washington. Featured on this recording a year before he joined Dizzy Gillespie and seven years before his next date as a leader, Kelly in 1951 was already long on his way to achieving his own sound. Influenced most by Bud Powell but also displaying some of the joy of Teddy Wilson's style along with his own chord voicings, Kelly gives listeners no hints on this enjoyable CD (which has two complete sessions plus three alternate takes) that he was still a teenager. [Originally released in 1951, Piano Interpretations was reissued on an import-only Japanese CD in 2000.] ~ Scott Yanow

Wynton Kelly (piano)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Franklin Skeete (bass)
Lee Abrams (drums, conga)

1. Blue Moon
2. Fine and Dandy
3. I Found a New Baby
4. Cherokee
5. Born to Be Blue
6. Where or When
7. Moonglow
8. Moonglow (alt)
9. If I Should Lose You
10. Born to Be Blue (alt)
11. Goodbye (1st take)
12. Goodbye (2nd take)
13. Foolin' Myself
14. There Will Never Be Another You
15. Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
16. Summertime
17. Moonlight in Vermont
18. Crazy He Calls Me
19. Opus Caprice
18. Moonglow (alt)
19. Goodbye

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tommy Flanagan, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Idrees Sulieman - The Cats (1957)

"The Cats, a 1957 Tommy Flanagan date featuring John Coltrane, Idrees Sulieman and fellow Detroit natives Kenny Burrell, Doug Watkins and Louis Hayes, showcases Flanagan's compositional talents with four of his original tunes performed by the sextet. The standard "How Long Has This Been Going On" is presented via trio and showcases Flanagan's tender touch and Hayes' brush prowess, with Watkins' bass blending perfectly.

"Eclypso", with its Caribbean-flavored head, has Flanagan flowing bebop lines with ease and Sulieman blowing a textured trumpet solo in the Fats Navarro-Clifford Brown style. Kenny Burrell, regarded by many as the midpoint guitar master between Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery, shares the melody line on "Solacium" (The tune's title is the Latin word for "solace"). This sentiment is especially true of Flanagan's and Sulieman's solos.

John Coltrane, here in his middle period, begins his improvisation languorously but quickly assures with his "sheets of sound", squeezing flurries of notes from his horn. Burrell follows suit, starting with a blues-drenched statement of empathy, but filling the arc of his solo with double-time finesse.

The CD closes with a blues, "Tommy's Tune", and tells a similar instrumental story, each player initially mournful but fighting the blue devils of discontent. Rhythm section support is superlative. Coltrane's cries and Watkins' sighs during his one solo on the session are a fitting end: only two of these artists, Hayes and Burrell, remain with us today." -

Tommy Flanagan (piano)
John Coltrane (tenor saxophone)
Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Doug Watkins (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)

1. Minor Mishap (07:27)
2. How Long Has This Been Going On? (5:59)
3. Eclypso (7:59)
4. Solacium (9:11)
5. Tommy's Tune (11:59)

Gene Ammons - The Happy Blues

This is one of the great studio jam sessions. Tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons is teamed up with trumpeter Art Farmer, altoist Jackie McLean, pianist Duke Jordan, bassist Addison Farmer, drummer Art Taylor, and the congas of Candido for four lengthy selections. Best is "The Happy Blues," which has memorable solos and spontaneous but perfectly fitting riffing by the horns behind each others' solos. The other numbers ("The Great Lie," "Can't We Be Friends," and "Madhouse") are also quite enjoyable, making this a highly recommended set. ~ Scott Yanow

Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Art Farmer (trumpet)
Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Duke Jordan (piano)
Addison Farmer (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)
Candido (conga)

1. The Happy Blues
2. The Great Lie
3. Can't We Be Friends
4. Madhouse

Hackensack, New Jersey: April 23, 1956

Dave Frishberg - Quality Time

Dave Frishberg's songs have always been a delight for me. I guess the first one I heard, widely recorded by singers such as Blossom Dearie, Susannah McCorkle, and others, was "My Attorney Bernie", a hilarious piece of business! Frishberg touches on topics such as baseball, politics, relationships and nostalgic looks into an almost-forgotten past. Beautiful stuff. I also appreciate his unusual voice and quirky delivery, the perfect vehicle to present his unique vision. For those who are not familiar with Frishberg, see the comments for biographical information. Scoredaddy

This Dave Frishberg CD is a more specialized project than the lyricist/vocalist/pianist's more definitive Concord releases. Five of the songs were written for a musical about baseball history that was never produced and several of these are of much more limited interest than usual. The most memorable selections on this release are the title cut (which is a near-classic about a Yuppie couple halfheartedly struggling to make time for each other), a bittersweet "The Dear Departed Past" and a remake of "Dear Bix." In addition there are two fine piano solos and short spots for trumpeter Rich Cooper and tenor-saxophonist Lee Wuthernow. But, although a sincere effort, this CD is primarily for Frishberg completists who already have his Concord sets. Scott Yanow

Phil Baker (Bass)
Richard Cooper (Trumpet)
Rich Cooper (Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet)
Valerie Day (Percussion)
Dave Frishberg (Piano, Vocals)
Gary Hobbs (Drums)
Rebecca Kilgore (Vocals)
Lee Wuthenow (Tenor Sax)

1 Quality Time 3:53
2 Eloise 3:46
3 You Would Rather Have the Blues 4:14
4 Blue Hodge McFarland 4:44
5 Snowbound 3:11
6 The Dear Departed Past 6:08
7 Play Ball 2:16
8 Matty 2:39
9 Dear Bix 3:37
10 Nasty Nasty Habit 4:02
11 Paris Blues Ellington 4:50
12 My Country Used to Be 2:44
13 Report from the Planet Earth 4:00

All selections composed by Dave Frishberg except as noted

Recorded May 28-29, 1993 at White Horse Studios, Portland, Oregon USA

Frank Wess - Jazz For Playboys

This CD reissue has three songs apiece from two similar sessions. One half of the set features Frank Wess (doubling on flute and tenor) accompanied by both Kenny Burrell and Freddy Green on guitars, bassist Eddie Jones and drummer Gus Johnson; the other three titles add trumpeter Joe Newman and have Ed Thigpen in Johnson's place. The music is essentially cool-toned swing/bop very much in a Count Basie vein and is easily recommended to straightahead jazz fans despite the so-so packaging and LP-length playing time. ~ Scott Yanow

Joe Newman (trumpet)
Frank Wess (alto sax, flute)
Kenny Burrell, Freddie Green (guitar)
Eddie Jones (bass)
Ed Thigpen (drums)
NYC, December 26, 1956

Frank Wess (tenor sax, flute)
Kenny Burrell, Freddie Green (guitar)
Eddie Jones (bass)
Gus Johnson (drums)
NYC, January 5, 1957

Frank Wess (flute)
Kenny Burrell, Freddie Green (guitar)
Eddie Jones (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
NYC, June 20, 1956

1. Playboy
2. Miss Blues
3. Baubles, Bangles and Beads
4. Low Life
5. Pin Up
6. Blues For A Playmate
7. Southern Exposure (alternate long take)

Charles Tolliver - Mosaic Select 20

A massive set of work from trumpeter Charles Tolliver -- a 3CD package that contains seminal live work from Tolliver's Strata East years, plus bonus previously unreleased titles from the concerts! The first half of the collection features work from Tolliver's seminal Live At Slug's albums -- both recorded on the same night in 1970, and done with a free-thinking, spiritually soaring energy that set a whole new tone for live jazz in the 70s! For the records, Tolliver fronts the classic Music Inc lineup -- a group that includes Stanley Cowell on piano, Cecil McBee on bass, and Jimmy Hopps on drums. Tolliver is stunning on trumpet -- and he and Cowell handle the majority of the solos with the kind of imagination that characterized this strong point in both of their careers. Slugs titles include the previously unissued "On The Nile", "Ruthie's Heart", and "Repetition" -- plus "Drought", "Felicite", "Orientale", and "Spanning". Next up is the equally great Live In Tokyo album -- recorded 3 years later with a similar group that includes Cowell on piano, Clint Houston on bass, and Clifford Barbaro on drums -- and although Tolliver's trumpet solos are always a treat, the interplay between Houston's bass and Cowell's piano is enough reason to buy the record! The highlight of the album is a great take of Cowell's modal groover "Effi", but the set also contains some masterful compositions by Tolliver -- long versions of "Truth", "Stretch", and "Drought". Previously unissued titles include "Our Second Father", "Impact", and "Earl's World". Complicated, spiritual work -- even more so than some of Tolliver's studio sessions!
Dusty Groove

Count Basie & His Orchestra - Warm Breeze

I fell in love with this album upon its release in 1981 and still own the original Pablo LP with red vinyl. I think this may have been the very first CD I ever bought, way back in 1984. At that time, when there were very few CD's available, the stores usually locked them away like treasures in some glass display cabinet. I remember I bought this one (together with a Basie/Ella disc) at J&R Music World's Jazz Outlet in NYC. Actually, these shiny new discs WERE like little treasures to me back then. Scoredaddy

This big-band album finds Count Basie (at age 77) and his orchestra performing seven charts by longtime friend Sammy Nestico, including six originals and "Satin Doll." Trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison sits in on "How Sweet It Is" and trumpeter Willie Cook has a couple of strong spots, but it is the classic Basie ensemble sound that is this enjoyable studio session's strongest asset. Scott Yanow

This 1981 release represents the late period in the legendary pianist and band leader's career. But Count Basie was one of those musicians whose work never seemed to decline. In fact, Basie never lost his muster or grew obsolete. On WARM BREEZE, the only thing that separates Basie's approach from earlier periods in his long and prolific career is the pervasiveness of bebop solos by his sidemen.

No longer do we hear the bluesy work of, say, Zoot Sims or Al Cohn (who worked with Basie during his middle period). Younger, more note-hungry players such as saxophonists Kenny Hing and Eric Dixon and trumpet player Willie Cook add spice and a pleasant air of modernity to compositions such as "C.B. Express" and "Flight to Nassau." On the latter, Cook improvises beautifully, blowing complex yet lyrical lines over Basie's subtle accompaniment. WARM BREEZE also delivers for all fans of early swing. Harry "Sweets" Edison, one of Basie's charter members, is featured on "How Sweet It Is," evoking the era in jazz that Basie helped to forge.

1 C.B. Express (Nestico) 6:05
2 After the Rain (Nestico) 7:15
3 Warm Breeze (Nestico) 6:45
4 Cookie (Nestico) 4:01
5 Flight to Nassau (Nestico) 4:27
6 How Sweet It Is (Nestico) 7:58
7 Satin Doll (Ellington, Mercer, Strayhorn) 5:56

Count Basie (piano)
Bobby Plater, Danny Turner (alto saxophone, flute)
Kenny Hing (tenor saxophone, flute)
Eric Dixon (tenor saxophone)
Johnny Williams (baritone saxophone)
Sonny Cohn, Dale Carley, Frank Szabo, Bob Summers (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Grover Mitchell, Mitchell "Booty" Wood, Dennis Wilson, Bill Hughes (trombone)
Harry "Sweets" Edison, Willie Cook (trumpet)
Freddie Green (guitar, shaker)
Cleveland Eaton (bass)
Harold Jones (drums)

All selections arranged & conducted by Sam Nestico

Recorded at Group IV Studios, Hollywood, California on September 1 & 2, 1981

Slim Gaillard 1951-1953 Chronological

Yet another collection of happy delirium from the master of vout. These recordings - according to the notes - were the last Slim was to do for awhile since in the straight America of the 1950s (I remember it well, 'straight' doesnt go nearly far enough to describe the times) such 'nonsense' was not very popular and didn't sell records. If someone had told Sen. McCarthy that 'vout' was coded communist propaganda Slim wd've been in the deep merde and dragged before the senator's investigating committee. What a time to grow up - luckily the 60s soon came along. LAME3.98 vbr0

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson - 1952-1953 (Chronological 1456)

The Chronological series on the French Classics label are seldom disappointing. Meticulously selected and sequenced, with fine sound and accompanying notes, they are a true treat for any jazz lover. The Oscar Peterson Classics disc 1952-1953 compiles the great pianist's work from those years, spotlighting the artist's singing, which bears some stylistic resemblance to his deft, elegant work on the keys. At 21 tracks, and with songbook favorites such as "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "How Deep Is the Ocean," and "Autumn in New York," it's hard to go wrong with this set.

When the pianist turns his talents to singing, you can generally be sure that there'll be marked similarities in both. That's how it is with Oscar Peterson. If his piano playing has such items as strength, a light-bodied rhythm and a pleasing, insinuating kind of vigor - that's what you'll find in his vocal style as well, and this, of course, is all to the good. There's been a marked trend lately in which expert musicians are trying their hand at singing and this, too, is all to the good. " A good singer, in short, must tell a story. Oscar Peterson knows how to tell a story." - Norman Granz

Oscar Peterson (piano, vocal)
Barney Kessel (guitar)
Ray Brown (bass)

1. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
2. John Hardy's Wife
3. Always
4. Easter Parade
5. Alexander's Ragtime Band
6. The Song Is Ended
7. Say It Isn't So
8. Remember
9. If I Had You
10. How Deep Is the Ocean
11. Streets Boogie
12. Booker T. Blues
13. I'm Glad There Is You
14. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
15. One For My Baby
16. I Hear Music
17. Autumn In New York
18. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
19. Spring Is Here
20. The Things We Did Last Summer
21. Pompton Turnpike

Oscar Peterson - 1952 Vol. 3 (Chronological 1426)

This is the seventh volume in the Classics Oscar Peterson chronology. It contains 22 excellent tracks recorded in Los Angeles during the last two months of 1952. By this time, producer Norman Granz was firmly committed to his lifelong mission, which was to make as many recordings of Oscar Peterson as humanly possible. Granz was obeying his best instincts, and posterity should be grateful that he had the wherewithal to record so many hours of intimate Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson on miles and miles of magnetic tape. This particular segment of the Oscar Peterson story is uncommonly wonderful. Teamed with guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Ray Brown, he concentrated upon five of the 20th century's greatest composers: Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Throughout what has got to be one of this artist's most dependable and recommendable reissue compilations the listener will find excellent music for dining, dancing, relaxation, reflection, rumination and meditative noctambulation. ~ arwulf arwulf

Oscar Peterson (piano)
Barney Kessel (guitar)
Ray Brown (bass)

1. Anything Goes
2. Iv'e Got You Under My Skin
3. Fascination Rhythm
4. Cheek To Cheek
5. I've Got It Bad And That's Ain't Good
6. In A Mellow Tone
7. I Love You
8. Somebody Loves You
9. I Was Doin' All Right
10. In The Stll Of The Night
11. Every Time We Say Goodbye
12. Just A-Sittin' And A-Rockin'
13. Begin The Geguine
14. So Near And Yet So Far
15. Blues Skies
16. Take The 'A' Train
17. Sophisticated Lady
18. Cottontail
19. Prelude To A Kiss
20. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
21. Rockin' In Rythm
22. Never No Lament (Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me)

Teddy Wilson - Gypsy In Jazz (1959)

"Having a jazz album recorded by Teddy Wilson has always been a sort of secret desire of mine. Back in the 30's when I met him while he was still playing for Benny Goodman, his amazing technique convinced me that he was one of our best jazz pianists.

When I played piano for Ben Pollack's orchestra in 1929 (Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller were in that orchestra) ...good taste was always the important factor in the jazz we played, and so when I heard Teddy, I at once fell in love with his playing. What a kick to have had him record a jazz album of the 'Gypsy' score.

The conceptions of the songs...played out of story context...are amazing! It's as though he were sitting with me all through the writing of the score. 'Gypsy' takes place in the late '20's -- early 30's, and his rhythmic jazz conceptions are far beyond my wildest dreams.

Let's see if I can put this the right way. Teddy plays these songs out of story context. There are so many things he does not have going for him -- Steve Sondheim's fine lyrics, Ethel Merman's golden bugle of a voice. All he has are my melodies...and I think you will be happy to hear what he does with them. God knows I am. Thanks Teddy for the thrill." - Jule Styne (from the album liner notes)

Pianist Teddy Wilson interprets a dozen songs from the musical Gypsy with his 1959 trio (bassist Arvell Shaw and drummer Bert Dahlender). None of these songs became standards ("Everything's Coming up Roses" and "Let Me Entertain You" came close), but it is interesting to hear Wilson get away from his usual swing repertoire and uplift this music with his sparkling style. This long out-of-print LP is difficult to find. - Scott Yanow

Teddy Wilson (piano)
Arvell Shaw (bass)
Bert Dahlender (drums)
  1. All I Need Is the Girl
  2. You'll Never Get Away from Me
  3. Small World
  4. Little Lamb
  5. Together Wherever We Go
  6. Everything's Coming Up Roses
  7. Some People
  8. Mama's Talkin' Soft
  9. Cow Song
  10. If Mama Was Married
  11. Let Me Entertain You
  12. Mr. Goldstone, I Love You

Gato Barbieri - Under Fire (1971)

Gato Barbieri's career started with avant-gard players, like Don Pullen, in the beginning of the 1960s. Gradually, however, he came back to his South-American roots. This album, from 1971, alhough recorded in New York, was from this Latin-American phase, recorded just one year before he became a world star with the soundtrack of "Last Tango in Paris". But the music here is very different from the score of the movie, with a much more agressive sound. Barbieri lived for some time in Brazil. This appears here in the choice of the tracks (3 of the selections have Brazilian origin) and in the rhythms throughout the record. The writer of the English liner notes, Robert Palmer (enclosed in the cover scans) makes some wrong statements: apparently he is an admirer of Bahia, for he says thats the composition "EL Parana" is about Parana River, "which begins in the south of Bahia" (it doesn't.) and that "Maria Domingas" is a composition of Jorge Ben, a Bahian singer/songwriter. In fact, Jorge Ben was born in Rio de Janeiro, and the rhythm of that track call to Rio's Carnival, not Bahia's. But this has nothing to do with this music, a good Latin jazz record. I, particularly, like specially the double sax Gato plays in "Antonico". But that may be because it's a Brazilian standard, very familiar to us, and his treatment is really very nice. For those who want more details, there is a review from Don Snowden, from AMG, in the comments.
Tracks -

1- El Parana (Gato Barbieri)
2- Yo le canto a la luna (Atahualpa Yupanqui)
3- Antonico (Ismael Silva)
4- Maria Domingas (Jorge Ben Jor)
5- El Sertão (Sérgio Ricardo - Gato Barbieri)

Gato Barbieri - Tenor Sax
Airto Moreira - Percussion (1), drums (2-5)
James M'Tume - Congas
Roy Haynes - Drums (1)
Lonnie Liston Smith - Piano (1-4), eletric piano (5)
Stanley Clarke - Bass
John Abercrombie - Guitar (1,4,5), acoustic guitar (3)
Moulay Ali Hafid - Dumberg (2-5).
Recorded in New York in 1971.

Lin Halliday - Where Or When

Tenor saxophonist Lin Halliday achieved an unusual career profile in jazz. In an era where young players have often been thrust into the recording studio before they were fully equipped for the task, Halliday did not make his debut album as a leader until he was 55. He went on to make several well-regarded discs in this late flowering, and established a deserved reputation as an expressive interpreter of both uptempo tunes and ballads in a classic hard bop style which owed much to the influence of Sonny Rollins.

Halliday was born in the small town of De Queen, but was brought up in Little Rock, where he began to play saxophone and clarinet in school. He began playing professionally after moving to Los Angeles, notably with saxophonist Joe Maini and in jam sessions. He spent several years in California, then moved to Wisconsin, where he concentrated on developing his saxophone playing in private before relocating to New York in 1958.

His first major breakthrough seemed likely when he replaced Wayne Shorter in the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra at Birdland. He played with bands led by drummers Louis Bellson and Philly Joe Jones in the early 1960s, but subsequently had his cabaret card withdrawn, and was unable to work in clubs in New York as a consequence.

After a peripatetic phase which took him to Arkansas and then California, he settled with his family in Nashville in 1966. He played in local clubs and worked as a studio musician until 1978, when a serious injury to his knees saw him confined to bed for a lengthy period of recuperation.

He moved his family to Chicago in 1980, where he became a staple attraction at a number of the city’s jazz clubs, including the Green Mill, the Bop Shop, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase and the Get Me High Lounge. He played on an album under the leadership of trumpeter Brad Goode in 1988, by which time his direct, expressive, occasionally rather sentimental tenor playing had won him many admirers on the Chicago jazz scene.

One of those admirers was Bob Koester, the founder of the city’s most prominent jazz label, Delmark Records. Koester produced Halliday’s debut record, the aptly named Delayed Exposure, in 1991. It revealed a player with a full, rich tone, a refined melodic sense, and a sure grip of bop harmony.

He took advantage of this late opportunity, and went on to record two more albums in a similar vein, East of the Sun (1991) and Where Or When (1993), working in tandem with saxophonist and trumpeter Ira Sullivan on each occasion. Halliday was also prominently featured on Stablemates (1995), an album in which he partnered the rather younger Chicago tenor saxophonist, Eric Alexander. The Scotsman, 2000

Lin Halliday (tenor sax)
Ira Sullivan (trumpet, tenor sax, flugelhorn)
Jodie Christian (piano)
Larry Gray (bass)
Robert Barry (drums)

1. Street Of Dreams
2. My Shining Hour
3. Sophisticated Lady
4. Dear Old Stockholm
5. Where Or When
6. Over The Rainbow
7. The More I See Of You
8. Pent-Up House

Ira Sullivan - Nicky's Tune

Sullivan started out as a bopper, but one who assiduously avoided the basic, standards-based repertoire in favour of new material; this, it seems, was the condition he imposed when he went on the road with Red Rodney....(Nicky's Tune) is dedicated to the equally enigmatic Nicky Hill, one of those catalytic players who remained little known outside of a small circle. Like all of Ira's output, it's a slightly puzzling and forbidding experience if you approach it expecting basic changes and contrafacts on "I Got Rhythm". "Cherokee" and "How High The Moon". Ira's harmonic sense is unimpeachable and his understanding with the excellent Christian is intuitive and sympathetic. This was the period when Ira was losing patience with the formulae of bebop, even his own individual brand, and was striking out in the direction of free jazz. Penguin Guide

The talented Ira Sullivan has led relatively few sessions throughout his career considering his skills. This CD brings back his second full album as a leader, adding the previously unissued "Mock and Roll Blues" (a stomping tune) to the original five song program. Sullivan, who sticks here exclusively to trumpet, is joined by the obscure tenor Nicky Hill, pianist Jodie Christian, bassist Victor Sproles and drummer Wilbur Campbell. The music (two standards and four originals) is essentially straightahead bop and generally swings quite hard. ~ Scott Yanow

Ira Sullivan (trumpet)
Jodie Christian (piano)
Nicky Hill (tenor sax)
Victor Sproles (bass)
Wilbur Campbell (drums)

1. My Secret Love
2. When Sunny Gets Blue
3. Nicky's Tune #3
4. Wilbur's Tune #2
5. Mock And Roll Blues
6. Nicky's Tune #2

Recorded December 24, 1958

Silver Waldron

No particular connection; I just like the way the covers look next to each other.

Horace Silver - Re-Entry

This was originally released by Silver on his short-lived private label. You saw it here first, folks.

Rare and essential live recordings that capture the great Horace Silver Quintet in action at New York City's Half-Note.

Always a force to be reckoned with, Silver's mid-60s band was consistently adventurous, original, and funky, anchored in the steady rhythms of bassist Larry Ridley and drummer Roger Humphries, and steeped in the passion of Joe Henderson's tenor sax.

In many ways, these recordings are defined by Henderson's inspired playing, as Joe gets many chances to step out, drenching each track with his unique and masterful sound. Henderson and Silver both stretch exuberantly on the band's signature hit, “Song For My Father,” which actually surpasses the studio version in sheer excitement. There are two different versions of “The African Queen,” both imbued with a hypnotic intensity that escalates with every note of Woody Shaw's trumpet. On “Que Pasa,” Silver plays with subtlety, darkening the mood with gentle strokes of the keys.

Trumpeter Carmell Jones shows such authority on “The Natives Are Restless Tonight,” that it is a wonder he did not attain greater levels of recognition. All of the five tracks on this CD are fairly lengthy, giving the band ample room to stretch.

The only tragedy is that none of the songs are allowed to end naturally, and the premature fade-out of Silver's solo at the end of “Song For My Father” is really frustrating. Nevertheless, this recording features the Horace Silver Quintet playing near the peak of its powers, and is easily recommended. John Ballon, AAJ

Horace Silver (piano)
Joe Henderson (tenor sax)
Carmell Jones (trumpet)
Teddy Smith (bass)
Roger Humphries (drums)
"Half Note", NYC, April 16, 1965

Horace Silver (piano)
Joe Henderson (tenor sax)
Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Larry Ridley (bass)
Roger Humphries (drums)
"Half Note", NYC, February 11 and 18, 1966

1. Song For My Father
2. The African Queen
3. The Natives Are Restless Tonight
4. Que Pasa
5. The African Queen

Mal Waldron - My Dear Family

This date is notable for the pairing of pianist Mal Waldron and smooth jazz reedman Grover Washington, Jr.. Washington was always over-qualified to play his particular brand of instrumental pop, and it is a joy to hear him stretch out a bit on this straight-ahead session. His supple tone mixes well with trumpeter Eddie Henderson and both musicians take full harmonic advantage of performing with the moody and expansive Waldron. The only disappointment here is the overall somber quality of the selections. Despite an inspired version of "Footprints" and an unexpected choice in the funky "Jean Pierre" -- off Miles Davis' 1981 We Want Miles -- the album lags. "Left Alone" features Washington's trademark soprano sax sound and is a pretty ballad, but is followed up with the mid-tempo "Sassy" negating the prior tune's impact. Waldron could have earned more kudos with his inclusion of the Japanese traditional song "Sakura Sakura" -- an interesting foray into world jazz -- if he had only bookended it with some bright up-tempo numbers. Still, this is a superbly performed album by stellar, world-class musicans and should please most hardcore jazz fans. ~ Matt Collar

Mal Waldron (piano)
Grover Washington, Jr. (soprano sax)
Eddie Henderson (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Reggie Workman (bass)
Pheeroan akLaff (drums)

1. Footprints
2. Left Alone
3. Sassy
4. Sakura Sakura
5. Here's That Rainy Day
6. Jean Pierre
7. Red Shoes
8. My Dear Family

New York: September 23-24, 1993

Count Basie Big Band - Farmer's Market Barbecue

Count Basie's Pablo period was somewhat underrated and produced some very exciting recordings. This one is excellent although my favorite among these sessions is a Pablo release entitled Warm Breeze, which I had posted a while ago in the contributions section. I will post a few more of these Pablo sessions in the next few months. I hope Farmer's Market Barbecue will be enjoyed! Scoredaddy

This was an excellent outing by the Count Basie Orchestra during its later years. Actually, half of this album features a medium-sized group from Basie's big band, but his orchestra usually had the feel of a small group anyway, which at this late stage include Eric Dixon and Kenny Hing on tenors, trombonist Booty Wood, altoist Danny Turner and four different trumpeters. The rhythm section is of course instantly recognizable and the music is very much in the Basie tradition. Scott Yanow

Chris Albert (Trumpet)
Count Basie (Piano)
Dale Carley (Trumpet)
Sonny Cohn (Trumpet)
Eric Dixon (Tenor Sax)
Gregg Field (Drums)
Freddie Green (Guitar)
Kenny Hing (Tenor Sax)
Bill Hughes (Trombone)
James Leary (Bass)
Grover Mitchell (Trombone)
Bobby Plater (Alto Sax)
Bob Summers (Trumpet)
Danny Turner (Alto Sax)
John Williams (Baritone Sax)
Dennis Wilson (Trombone)
Mitchell Wood (Trombone)

1 Way Out Basie (Wilkins) 4:24
2 St. Louis Blues (Handy) 7:17
3 Beaver Junction (Edison) 4:47
4 Lester Leaps In (Young) 5:01
5 Blues for the Barbecue (Cohn) 10:31
6 I Don't Know Yet (Green) 4:14
7 Ain't That Something (Plater) 4:20
8 Jumpin' at the Woodside (Basie) 3:25

Recorded on May 4, 1982 at Group IV Studios, Hollywood, CA

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bobby Hutcherson - Head On

Head On is strangely beautiful and compelling. It’s unlike anything else in Bobby Hutcherson’s discography. With the exception of Hutcherson’s “Mtume,” the album features striking and original compositions by Todd Cochran. Cochran went on to record under the moniker Bayetè, including one LP with Hutcherson called Worlds Around the Sun. Cochran’s compositions draw from a wide swath of influences beyond the normal jazz realm, most especially from 20th century classical music. Like Bitches Brew, Head On has an almost orchestral quality, even during sparsely scored passages. Rather than sounding like a typical large jazz ensemble, the textures owe more to third stream and funk.

The album opens very gently with a three part suite titled “At the Source.” Part 1 of the suite, “Ashes and Rust,” has an otherworldly quality. Part 2, “Eucalyptus” is gentle and introverted, a duet between Hutcherson’s vibes and Cochran on the piano. With Part 3, “Obsidian,” bass, cymbals, and Harold Land’s tenor saxophone add to the texture. “Many Thousands Gone” features a larger group sound. After a solo by bassist James Leary, Bobby plays a long, rippling marimba and vibraphone solo over a churning rhythm section. Harold Land and Oscar Brashear both follow Hutcherson with impassioned solos. Again, this music seems to be coming from the same place as Bitches Brew. This is terrific, challenging music. Side 2 begins with the only Hutcherson composition on the disc, “Mtume.” It’s a grand, roiling, percussion-heavy composition that would sound right at home on one of McCoy Tyner’s Milestone recordings like Sama Layuca. The final work on the LP, “A Clockwork of the Spirits,” is marginally less effective, but it’s still quite unusual, especially some of the harmonies.

Head On has never been issued on CD. Since it’s an unusual record, I don’t expect that it will be any time soon. (It will not be included in the upcoming “Mosaic Select” set of Hutcherson’s music from the 1970’s.) Even so, if you have a taste for the something different and you still spin vinyl, this one is well worth tracking down.

Bobby Hutcherson (vibes, marimba)
Harold Land (tenor sax, flute)
Oscar Brashear (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Todd Cochran (piano)
William Henderson (electric piano)

1. At The Source
2. Many Thousands Gone
3. Mtume
4. Clockwork Of The Spirits
5. Togo Land
6. Jonathan
7. Hey Harold

Los Angeles: July 1-3, 1971

Mal Waldron and Steve Lacy - Communique

Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron had played together over several decades by the time this CD was recorded, one of many duo dates they've done. "Who Knows" is not one of Thelonious Monk's better-known works, but their aggressive and very playful approach to it should invite other musicians to explore it as well. On the other hand, "Blue Monk" is more reserved, with Lacy testing the limits of his instrument and Waldron's bluesy solo. A strident take of Charles Mingus' "Peggy's Blue Skylight" is immediately followed by his rather obscure "Smooch," a haunting ballad made even more so by Lacy's plaintive tone. Their treatment of another overlooked song, Elmo Hope's "Roll On," is also inspired. Each musician also contributed originals to the date. Waldron's mournful "No More Tears" and Lacy's repetitive but infectious blues "Wickets" invite repeated listenings, while each man has a solo feature as well. Like all collaborations featuring Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron together, this Soul Note CD is highly recommended. ~ Ken Dryden

Mal Waldron (piano)
Steve Lacy (soprano sax)

1. Who Knows
2. Peggy's Blue Skylight
3. Smooch
4. Blue Monk
5. Roll On
6. No More Tears
7. Esteem
8. Prayer
9. Fondest Recollections
10. Wickets
11. Communique

Pee Wee Russell - We're In The Money

Pee Wee Russell, although never a virtuoso, was one of the giants of jazz. A highly expressive and unpredictable clarinetist, Russell was usually grouped in Dixieland-type groups throughout his career, but his advanced and spontaneous solos (which often sounded as if he were thinking aloud) defied classification. A professional by the time he was 15, Pee Wee Russell played in Texas with Peck Kelley's group (meeting Jack Teagarden) and then in 1925 he was in St. Louis jamming with Bix Beiderbecke. Russell moved to New York in 1927 and gained some attention for his playing with Red Nichols' Five Pennies. Russell freelanced during the era, making some notable records with Billy Banks in 1932 that matched him with Red Allen. He played clarinet and tenor with Louis Prima during 1935-1937, appearing on many records and enjoying the association.

His unique clarinet style is featured on this CD with two overlapping groups, both of which include trombonist Vic Dickenson and pianist George Wein. One band has Russell matching wits with the brilliant trumpet of Wild Bill Davison while the other date showcases the more mellow horn of Doc Cheatham, heard in a rare solo spot in the mid-'50s. This music mostly avoids the old warhorses and features superior swing standards by some of the top Condonites. ~ Scott Yanow

Pee Wee Russell (clarinet)
Doc Cheatham (trumpet)
Vic Dickenson (trombone)
George Wein (piano)
John Field (bass)
Buzzy Drootin (drums)

Pee Wee Russell (clarinet)
Wild Bill Davison (trumpet)
Vic Dickenson (trombone)
George Wein (piano)
Stan Wheeler (bass)
Buzzy Drootin (drums)

1. We're In The Money
2. Gabriel Found His Horn
3. Sugar
4. Missy
5. Sweet And Slow
6. Lulu's Back In Town
7. Sweet Georgia Brown
8. The Lady's In Love With You
9. Louise
10. She's Funny That Way
11. If I Had You
12. Back In Your Own Backyard
13. I Want A Little Girl

MJT + 3

Coltrane once said of Strozier that he had the most advanced harmonic sense of all the young saxophone players on the scene in 1963.

"Saxophonist Frank Strozier came to town with the MJT Plus 3. I played opposite to them in Birdland and Walter Perkins, the drummer, was their musical director. My good friend Bob Cranshaw played bass with them. Walter was a great drummer who played Art Blakey style and it was a swinging group. Then all of a sudden Frank Strozier stopped playing his brilliant alto and started playing piano. He gave his first concert on piano at Carnegie Hall. One of those multi-talented musicians!" Ted Curson

Best-known as the leader of the short-lived MJT + 3 during 1959-62, Walter Perkins was a longtime fixture in the Chicago jazz scene. He gained some recognition for playing with Ahmad Jamal's Trio during 1956-57 (right before Jamal really caught on). A 1957 set for Argo led by Perkins (and also featuring trumpeter Paul Serrano, tenor-saxophonist Nicky Hill, the young pianist Richard Abrams and bassist Bob Cranshaw) used the name of MJT Plus 3. The better-known version of the band (with trumpeter Willie Thomas, altoist Frank Strozier, pianist Harold Mabern and bassist Cranshaw) recorded three albums for Vee-Jay during 1959-60 and was popular for a time locally before breaking up in 1962. Perkins then worked with Sonny Rollins (1962), as an accompanist to Carmen McRae (1962-63), gigged with Art Farmer and Teddy Wilson in 1964 and remained based in Chicago for decades. Walter Perkins has recorded with a who's who of jazz including Ahmad Jamal, George Shearing, Gene Ammons, Carmen McRae, Charles Mingus, Billy Taylor, Booker Ervin, Art Farmer, Jaki Byard, Lucky Thompson, Pat Martino, Harold Mabern and Charles Earland (1977) among many others. ~ Scott Yanow

MJT+3 - MJT+3

Frank Strozier (alto sax)
Harold Mabern (piano)
Willie Thomas (trumpet)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Walter Perkins (drums)

1. Branching Out
2. Lil' Abner
3. Don't Ever Throw My Love Away
4. Raggity Man
5. To Sheila
6. Love For Sale

Recorded in Chicago, 1960

Walter Perkin's MJT+3

In 1957, drummer Walter Perkins formed a quintet, the MJT + 3, that recorded four albums before breaking up in 1962. This CD reissue has the second record, and the first with the group's most famous lineup of trumpeter Willie Thomas, altoist Frank Strozier, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and the leader on drums. The original five selections are joined by an alternate take and two shorter singles versions of songs. Mabern and Strozier contributed originals, and the group also performs Ray Bryant's "Sleepy" and "The Whiffenpoof Song." The band's style is not all that unusual, essentially hard bop, but it was well played and the group had its own sound. A fine example of MJT + 3's work. ~ Scott Yanow

1. Sleepy
2. Brother Spike
3. Whiffenpoof Song
4. Rochelle
5. Big Hands

Recorded in Chicago, 1959

Make Everybody Happy

This reissue of the second Vee-Jay release from the most successful MJT + 3 lineup presents a restrained brand of hard bop that is short on the high-energy delivery typically associated with the genre. Led by drummer Walter Perkins, the band is best on pieces that are most firmly in the hard bop camp: the Horace Silver tribute "Sweet Silver" by Booker Little and "Richie's Dilemma" by MJT + 3 pianist Harold Mabern. The long, tightly harmonized arrangement of the "Trolley Song" also works well. On the other hand, the band is bland and overly polite in its handling of the standards "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "Love Letters." "My Buddy" fares slightly better. The standout performer here is altoist Frank Strozier, who has some of the urgency of Jackie McLean and the tart elegance of Art Pepper. His gifts, however, would be better served in a less fettered setting. Strozier's partner in the front line, trumpet player Willie Thomas, contributes a competent, journeyman's performance. Mabern, who is generally regarded as an archetypal, hard bop pianist, is frequently tense and wooden on Make Everybody Happy -- the one exception being his fluid, imaginative work on "Richie's Dilemma." While this 1960 session succeeds as a lounge-style hybrid of hard bop, listeners who wish a little more fire and passion will want to seek out some of its contemporaries, say Art Blakey's A Night in Tunisia or Jackie McLean's New Soil. ~ Jim Todd

Frank Strozier (alto sax)
Harold Mabern (piano)
Willie Thomas (trumpet)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Walter Perkins (drums)

6. Make Everybody Happy
7. Trolley Song
8. Sweet Silver
9. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
10. My Buddy
11. Richie's Dilema
12. Love Letters

Recorded in Chicago, 1960

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sonny Criss - I'll Catch The Sun

Altoist Sonny Criss made some of his finest recordings for Prestige during the mid- to late '60s; I'll Catch The Sun was the seventh and final. Since this CD reissue is only 35 minutes long, it is overly brief, but the straight-ahead music (featuring Criss with pianist Hampton Hawes, bassist Monty Budwig, and drummer Shelly Manne) is often excellent as the altoist performs two blues, two standards (including a passionate "Cry Me a River"), and two forgotten pop tunes from the era. ~ Scott Yanow

Alto saxophonist Sonny Criss (1927-1977) had a career of frustrating interruptions, with brief years in the limelight followed by longer periods of obscurity. His most sustained exposure came through his Prestige recordings of the 1960s, of which this is the seventh and final volume; and his playing underscores that his subsequent period of silence did not reflect a failure of inspiration. It was a masterstroke to support Criss with this rhythm section, since Hampton Hawes was one of his earliest associates, and the Budwig/Manne team was as tight and swinging as any then working on the West Coast. Criss excels on two original blues and the blues-ballad "Cry Me a River," and blows the title track with such conviction that one wonders why it didn't become a jazz standard.

Sonny Criss (alto sax)
Hampton Hawes (piano)
Monty Budwig (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)

1. Don't Rain on My Parade
2. Blue Sunset
3. I Thought About You
4. California Screamin'
5. Cry Me a River
6. I'll Catch the Sun

Recorded at RCA Studios, Los Angeles, California on January 20, 1969

Don Pullen and Sam Rivers - Capricorn Rising

Don Pullen...demand(s) comparison with Cecil Taylor. Pullen's traditionalism is more obvious, but the apparent structural conservatism is more appearance than fact, a function of his interest in boogie rather than Bartok.

He favored exotic dissonances within relatively conventional chordal progressions and, to that extent, was a descendant of Monk....Rivers is too floaty and ethereal to be entirely effective in this context, though he noticeably tailors his approach to Pullen's cues" Penguin Guide

Don Pullen (piano)
Sam Rivers (tenor and soprano sax, flute)
Alex Blake (bass)
Bobby Battle (drums, tambourine)

1. Break Out
2. Capricorn Rising
3. Joycie Girl
4. Fall Out

Wes Montgomery - The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery

I suppose most of you knows this record. If no, don't miss it. Wes is at its peak, Flanagan in the right place at the right moment and the Heath brothers effectively filling the gaps. What a line-up!! The program includes 4 songs written by Wes and the rest, standards. Need I to say I like Wes?

01 Airegin (4:26)
02 D-Natural Blues (5:23)
03 Polka Dots and Moonbeams (4:44)
04 Four on Six (6:15)
05 West Coast Blues (7:26)
06 In Your Own Sweet Way (4:53)
07 Mr. Walker (4:33)
08 Gone With the Wind (6:24)

Wes Montgomery (guitar)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Percy Heath (bass)
Albert Heath (drums)

Recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, New York on January 26 and 28, 1960.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Frank Strozier - Cool, Calm And Collected

Yep, the Bill Lee on bass is Spike's father.

A talented alto saxophonist who never became very famous, Frank Strozier has long been a top-notch hard bop stylist whose intense sound recalls (but is not derivative of) Jackie McLean. One of many excellent jazzmen who grew up in Memphis, Strozier played with other Memphis musicians even after he moved to Chicago in 1954 (including Harold Mabern, Booker Little, and George Coleman). He recorded with the MJT + 3 from 1959-1960, and led sessions for Vee Jay during the same period. After moving to New York, Strozier was briefly with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1963 (between Hank Mobley and George Coleman), gigged with Roy Haynes, and then relocated to Los Angeles. During his L.A. years, he worked with Chet Baker, Shelly Manne, and most notably the Don Ellis big band (with whom he took a memorable solo on "K.C. Blues" from Ellis' Autumn album). He returned to New York in 1971, working with the Jazz Contemporaries, the New York Jazz Repertory Company, and Horace Parlan, among others, but not gaining the recognition he deserved. Frustrated with his lack of work, Strozier for a time reappeared as a pianist, but little resulted from that. As a leader, Frank Strozier's Vee Jay recordings (with a great deal of added material) have been reissued on CD; his Jazzland dates from 1961-1962 remain out of print, and he also led sessions for Trident (1972) and SteepleChase (1976-1977). - by Scott Yanow

Frank Strozier (alto sax)
Billy Wallace (piano)
Bill Lee (bass)
Vernel Fournier (drums)

1. Cloudy And Cool
2. She
3. No More
4. Day In - Day Out
5. Nice N' Easy
6. Chris
7. Stairway To The Stars
8. Cloudy And Cool (Short Version)
9. Cloudy And Cool (Take 1)
10. Nice N' Easy (Short Version)
11. Nice N' Easy (Take 3)
12. She (Take 3)
13. No More (Take 1)
14. Day In-Day Out
15. Chris (Take 4)

Recorded at Universal Studios, Chicago, Illinois on October 13, 1960

Frank Strozier - Fantastic Frank Strozier Plus

Hard to figure the discographic facts. Jazzdisco has this all coming from one session on February 2nd. The notes say it was two dates, and the 2nd changed to the 3rd. But then, they mis-spell Wynton's last name (on his eponymous VeeJay release too; it's in the archives.) In the end, it doesn't matter: Booker Little and a killer rhythm section. Interesting to note that Strozier, Little, and Phineas Newborn Jr. were in the same High School at the same time. George Coleman and some others too.

Altoist Frank Strozier's first session as a leader has been reissued on this Vee Jay CD with the original six selections joined by five additional and previously unreleased performances, only one of which is actually an alternate take. The altoist's quintet consists of Miles Davis' rhythm section of the time (pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb), along with the late, great trumpeter Booker Little. The music, mostly comprised of Strozier originals, is advanced hard bop, and the music is both enjoyable and (due to Little's presence) somewhat historic. - Scott Yanow

A talented alto saxophonist who never became very famous, Frank Strozier has long been a top-notch hard bop stylist whose intense sound recalls (but is not derivative of) Jackie McLean. One of many excellent jazzmen who grew up in Memphis, Strozier played with other Memphis musicians even after he moved to Chicago in 1954 (including Harold Mabern, Booker Little, and George Coleman). He recorded with the MJT + 3 from 1959-1960, and led sessions for Vee Jay during the same period. After moving to New York, Strozier was briefly with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1963 (between Hank Mobley and George Coleman), gigged with Roy Haynes, and then relocated to Los Angeles. During his L.A. years, he worked with Chet Baker, Shelly Manne, and most notably the Don Ellis big band (with whom he took a memorable solo on "K.C. Blues" from Ellis' Autumn album). He returned to New York in 1971, working with the Jazz Contemporaries, the New York Jazz Repertory Company, and Horace Parlan, among others, but not gaining the recognition he deserved. Frustrated with his lack of work, Strozier for a time reappeared as a pianist, but little resulted from that. As a leader, Frank Strozier's Vee Jay recordings (with a great deal of added material) have been reissued on CD; his Jazzland dates from 1961-1962 remain out of print, and he also led sessions for Trident (1972) and SteepleChase (1976-1977). - Scott Yanow

Booker Little (trumpet)
Frank Strozier (alto sax)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)
Fine Recording Studios, NYC, February 2, 1960

1. W.K. Blues
2. A Starling's Theme
3. I Don't Know
4. Waltz Of The Demons
5. Runnin'
6. Off Shore
7. Lucka Duce
8. Run
9. Tibbit
10. Just In Time
11. Off Shore (take 3)

Poncho Sanchez - Outa Sight

This is an enhanced CD; the video is in a separate upload.

The legendary conguero may be known as one of the modern kings of all jazz that's Latin, but he's also an old-school soul junkie at heart, having grown up in southern California in the '60s; while he was learning to play tropical Latin music professionally, his radio was full of classic Stax and Motown. Increasingly aware that classic R&B songs adapt well to the jazzy cha cha tempos that drive his ensemble, Sanchez evolves beautifully on the new collection into a style of Latin soul that's truly compelling. The opening track, the funky, brass-driven cha cha "One Mint Julep," features not only the organ arpeggios of Billy Preston, but also two of the horn guys from the James Brown band, Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis. "JB's Strut" funks out with the horniest of them, but Brown is paid even greater homage on blues/soul/big-band/Latin renderings of three of his tunes, "Saints and Sinners," "Out of Sight" (sung with a tongue-in-cheek Brown bravura by Sanchez), and "Conmigo." And while he's at it, Sanchez invites two legendary soul men to make things even more authentic. Sam Moore has a blast with the sassy "Hitch It to the Horse," while Ray Charles adds his whimsical touch to the salsified blues tune "Mary Ann." The remaining question is, just where is the Godfather of Soul himself? Hopefully, he's proud of one of the most unique tributes to him ever fashioned. ~ Jonathan Widran

Poncho Sanchez (percussion)
Ray Charles (vocals)
Billy Preston (organ)
Sam Moore (vocals)
Fred Wesley (trombone)
Pee Wee Ellis (tenor sax)
Francisco Aguabella (Bata drums)

1. One Mint Julep - Ray Charles, Poncho Sanchez
2. Shing-A-Ling
3. Hitch It to the Horse
4. Saints & Sinners
5. Mary Ann - Ray Charles, Poncho Sanchez
6. Not Necessarily
7. Conmigo
8. JB's Strut
9. Out of Sight
10. Tambor del Mongo

The Contemporary Records Story

"It would be difficult, unfair, and even fool hardy to argue what jazz record label has impacted the genre the most. Did Prestige have more impact than Savoy, is Blue Note the greatest jazz label of all time? Questions like this make as much sense as arguing about evolution or if the narrative claims of The Da Vinci Code are true. However, if one narrows the scope of the discussion regionally, the question, “What was the most important West Coast Jazz label?” That answer can be easily answered and defended - Lester Koenig's Contemporary Records.

Pacific Jazz, you ask. In spite of predating Contemporary Records, Pacific Jazz would have no relevance were it not for evolutionary position of Contemporary. New York claimed all jazz east of Kansas City and basically thumbed its nose at the West Coast and Contemporary Records stood as a transition state between the “Hot” East Coast Style and the “Cool” West Coast Style. Contemporary Records may be viewed as the West Coast Ying to the East Coast Blue Note Yang. Both labels balanced the United States aesthetically and artistically.

The label was founded in 1951 by Lester Koenig, an exile of the Los Angeles film industry as a result of his refusal to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Left with no way to make a living in film Koenig turned to making music, Classical at first and then jazz. Koenig had a very specific idea of the type of jazz he wanted to produce. Shelly Manne, Lennie Niehaus, Andre Previn, Barney Kessel, and Ray Brown all produced a brand of urbane and complex jazz that was to be the boon of he intelligentsia. However, the label also manifested a second, more emotive side of the dual character of the West Coast Los Angeles jazz environment. This brand of jazz stood in stark contrast with the largely Caucasian “cool school” (often associated the Pacific Jazz Label). The contemporary brand of Jazz was characterized as having an edge, swing associated with secular virile hard bop as performed by the city's African-American Musicians.

On the four-disc The Contemporary Records Story, the history of the label is chronicled as a single man's vision of the grand unification of jazz music. Koenig ensured that consistently the visiting East Coast (Sonny Rollins), early Free Movement (Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor), Be Bop (Howard McGee, Dexter Gordon) and swing (Benny Carter, Red Norvo, and Ben Webster) were fairly represented. He largely accomplished his goal. However, there are two tragic American Romantic figures that far and away represent the pathos of Contemporary Records - pianist Hampton Hawes and alto saxophonist Art Pepper, each a gifted and tragic figure whose recording careers encompass the label's entire history. It should be no surprise that Hawes and Pepper are the best represented on this compilation set.

“New York claimed all jazz east of Kansas City and basically thumbed its nose at the West Coast and Contemporary Records stood as a transition state between the 'Hot' East Coast Style and the 'Cool' West Coast Style.”

Collections like The Contemporary Records Story basically have two strikes against them from the outset. One, they are too big (and expensive) to be considered a “sampler,” a format all the rage in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. And, two, it is damn near impossible to assemble a cogent collection of essential music when the pool one draws from is largely all essential music. It is difficult to address the first problem without answering the second. Suffice it to say that The Contemporary Records Story accomplishes what it sets out to better than any similar collection in recent memory. This compilation may be seen as an aural documentary of one man's unquenchable passion for America's greatest gift - Jazz. The true beauty of the set is that it shines a bright light on talents otherwise marginalized such as trumpeter Howard McGhee and tenor saxophonist Teddy Edwards. Shelly Manne is placed at the middle of the discussion, honoring his singular contribution not only to the music but to the venue's where the music is performed (Shelly's Manne Hole).

This music is for the most part white hot. Little of the heroin cool (though use was very prevalent) manifested itself on Contemporary as compared to Pacific Jazz. This set is closed by the Art Pepper solo horn take on “Over The Rainbow” from Live At The Village Vanguard. It is a poignant ending to a beautiful story. That story is capably captured in a set of superb liner notes with many fine and previously unreleased photographs. This is a total entertainment package." C. Michael Bailey

CD 1
1. Big Girl - Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars
2. Viva Zapata! - Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars
3. You And The Night And The Music - Shelly Manne & His Men
4. Lullaby Of Birdland - Barney Kessel
5. Bags' Groove - Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars
6. Day By Day - Lennie Niehaus Quintet
7. Flip - Shelly Manne 'The Three'
8. Billie's Bounce - Shelly Manne 'The Three'
9. The Champ - Hampton Hawes Trio
10. Blues The Most - Hampton Hawes Trio
11. Blue Moon - Lyle Murphy
12. Easy Terms - Duane Tatro
13. Collard Greens And Black-Eyed Peas - Shelly Manne & His Friends
14. Ruby - Buddy Collette
15. I Could Have Danced All Night - Shelly Manne & His Friends
16. A Fifth For Frank - Curtis Counce

CD 2
1. Serenade In Blue - Gerald Wiggins
2. All The Things You Are - Art Pepper
3. Star Eyes - Art Pepper
4. Paying The Dues Blues - Red Norvo
5. I'm An Old Cowhand - Sonny Rollins
6. Jordu - The Poll Winners
7. Scrapple From The Apple - Red Mitchell
8. Old Fashioned Love - Benny Carter
9. On The Sunny Side Of The Street - Leroy Vinnegar
10. Whisper Not - Benny Golson
11. I Could Write A Book - Andre Previn & His Pals
12. Grooveyard - Harold Land
13. Serpent's Tooth - Victor Feldman
14. Invisible - Ornette Coleman

CD 3
1. Hip - Hampton Hawes
2. Stablemates - Art Farmer
3. African Violets - Cecil Taylor Quartet
4. Autumn In New York - Andre Previn
5. I've Told Ev'ry Little Star - Sonny Rollins
6. Someone To Watch Over Me - Benny Carter
7. Bill Bailey - Helen Humes
8. Peter Gunn - Shelly Manne & His Men
9. Barfly - Elmo Hope
10. Greensleeves - Bill Smith Quartet
11. Airegin - Art Pepper
12. Down Among The Sheltering Palms - Barney Kessel
13. Blue Daniel - Shelly Manne & His Men
14. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise - Art Pepper
15. The Sermon - Teddy Edwards

CD 4
1. Stardust - Ben Webster
2. Misty - Teddy Edwards
3. Summertime - Howard McGhee
4. Oleo - Phineas Newborn, Jr.
5. Exodus - Shelly Manne
6. A Deed For Dolphy - Woody Shaw
7. My Funny Valentine - Art Farmer
8. Morning - Hampton Hawes
9. Will You Still Be Mine? - Art Farmer
10. Beyond The Rain - Chico Freeman
11. Love Walked In - Ray Brown
12. Over The Rainbow - Art Pepper

This Day In Jazz

Harold Land - West Coast Blues!

If the West Coast was regarded as secondary to the East Coast in jazz critics minds, then San Francisco was the stepchild to Los Angeles. And yet the years have shown that there was great talent and vibrancy in all those scenes. The musicians themselves knew it, if the critics did not. Of course, criticism has become infallible in modern times: I cite Thom Jurek to rest my case.

And, despite the high level of performance, this was a relatively impromptu session that came about when Cannonball Adderley's group was in town; the rhythm section were, of course, Harris, Jones, and Hayes. Land and Gordon were brought in, as was Wes Montgomery, just on the verge of his great and deserved success. To me, Harold Land is worth listening to anytime, and here is also a chance to add to the discography of Joe Gordon , who was destined to be one of the trumpet greats before his horrible death. Throw in these other duffers, and you have some of the best music of the time.

Harold Land (tenor sax)
Joe Gordon (trumpet)
Wes Montgomery (guitar)
Barry Harris (piano)
Sam Jones (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)

1. Ursula
2. Klactoveedsedstene
3. Don't Explain
4. West Coast Blues
5. Terrain
6. Compulsion

Recorded in San Francisco, May 17 and 18, 1960

Teddy Charles - Swinging "Guys and Dolls" (1959)

Vibist Teddy Charles was the leader on the three 1959 sessions that comprise this LP. Each of the sessions had a different lineup and they called them The Manhattan Jazz All-Stars. Teo Macero collaborated as producer, split the arranging duties with Charles, and played tenor sax on three of the tracks. In between the 2nd and 3rd sessions, Teddy Charles was recording Mingus Dynasty with Charles Mingus. Quite a productive couple of weeks.

A year earlier, vibist Eddie Costa released Guys and Dolls Like Vibes (which was posted over at CIE by prowita). Two songs from this show also appear on Tjader Plays Tjazz which was recently posted by Rab on this site.
To my knowledge, this has never been reissued and although the LP has seen better days, it is quite playable.

6, 8, 11 (October 19)
Teddy Charles (leader, vibes)
Nick Travis (trumpet
Teo Macero (tenor sax)
Dave McKenna (piano)
Jimmy Raney (guitar)
Addison Farmer (bass)
Ed Shaughnessy (drums)

1, 2, 3, 4, 9 (October 27)
Teddy Charles (leader, vibes)
Phil Woods (alto sax)
Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone)
Mose Allison (piano)
Aaron Bell (bass)
Ed Shaughnessy (drums)

5, 7, 10 (November 4)
Teddy Charles (leader, vibes)
Phil Woods (alto sax)
Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone)
Julius Watkins (french horn)
Sir Charles Thompson (piano)
Addison Farmer (bass)
Ed Shaughnessy (drums)
  1. Fugue for Tinhorns
  2. I'll Know
  3. A Bushel and a Peck
  4. Adelaide
  5. Luck Be a Lady
  6. Guys and Dolls
  7. My Time of Day
  8. If I Were a Bell
  9. I've Never Been in Love Before
  10. Follow the Fold
  11. The Oldest Established

Art Pepper - The Complete Village Vanguard Sessions

The third and last installment of 3 CDs: these constitute the third night of the engagement; Saturday, July 30, 1977.

"Devoted fans of alto saxophonist Art Pepper share a fascination with Chet Baker fans. They find Pepper's excesses, so flatly confessed in his autobiography, Straight Life, great fodder for intense listening--which they are. Pepper had a rare talent for playing as if his horn were a lens on his torment. He played cushioned, cool melodies in the California jazz heyday and then went off to prison and hardscrabble years as an infamous heroin addict. By the time he performed the music on this massive nine-CD set, Pepper had made several comebacks, the latest of which was heroic--if fueled by chemicals and a furious need to prove himself during the Vanguard gigs caught here uninterrupted. The music bristles, whether in the pretty anguish of a solo-sax "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" or the numerous mad-charging bop heads Pepper tackles as if they were his last meals. He makes an ass of himself with some of the between-song banter, but it's all part of the big picture. For all the thorns and warts and complications, that picture shows unabated, undiluted, and unquenchable musical chops to burn here. The liner essay tells the whole sordid tale of Pepper gone from prison to a halfway house to a late-1970s rebound that urged some of his best music. If this lavish box, with its repetitions of tunes (all the takes, however, differ radically) is too much, try the individual volumes." --Andrew Bartlett

Art Pepper (alto and tenor sax, clarinet)
George Cables (piano)
George Mraz (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

CD 7
1. Count off and Vanguard Max
2. Spoken Introduction
3. Goodbye
4. Spoken Introduction
5. For Freddie
6. Blues for Heard

CD 8
1. Announcement and False Start
2. My Friend John
3. Spoken Introduction
4. More for Les
5. Cherokee
6. Blues for Heard

CD 9
1. Count off and for Freddie
2. More for Les
3. Caravan
4. Labyrinth
5. My Friend John

Gene Ammons All Stars - Jammin' With Gene

This tenor-saxophonist led a series of excellent all-star jam sessions for the Prestige label during the mid-'50s that took advantage of the extra time available on LPs (as opposed to the three-minute 78). This album features versions of "Jammin' with Gene" (a blues), "We'll Be Together Again" (which evolves from being an Ammons ballad feature into a group jam and then back again) and "Not Really the Blues" that clocks in between ten and over 16 minutes. With such sidemen as trumpeters Art Farmer and Donald Byrd, altoist Jackie McLean, pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Art Taylor, this is an excellent (and rather spontaneous) straightahead session. ~ Scott Yanow

Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Art Farmer (trumpet)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Doug Watkins (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. Jammin' With Gene
2. We'll Be Together Again
3. Not Really the Blues

Hackensack, New Jersey: July 13, 1956

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Charles Mingus - Mingus Three

With its absence of alternative takes (nothing blows the mood like hearing the same tune twice), this album still comes leaping out of the speakers decades later. Nat Hentoff, in the original liner notes, characterizes the tunes as dialogues between bassist/leader Mingus and pianist Hampton Hawes. We hear Mingus soloing at length on "Back Home Blues" and "I Can't Get Started," whereas "Hamp's New Blues" allows Hawes to let loose with his bop chops, the flipside to the exemplary down-home sensibilities Mingus coaxes from him on the aforementioned "Back Home Blues."

Long-time Mingus drummer Danny Richmond's fours on "Hamp's New Blues" have the force of an eruption, and his creative use of percussion leads into the unusual and compelling ostinato Mingus lays down for the trio's version of "Summertime." On "Dizzy Moods," Mingus'interpretation of the changes to Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody 'n You," Hawes injects a healthy dose of the blues into the bebop chord progression while Richmond keeps things swinging hard at mid-tempo.

"Standing under a street light at 45th and Broadway when a brother walks up to me.

'Hamp, what're you doin'?'

"Nothin'." I focus and see it's Charles Mingus.

"Man, I wish you would get yourself together, you got too much talent to go down the drain. I ought to call your father.....You need some money?"

"Shit, yes."

"I've got a record date for a trio this weekend. You got it if you can get yourself together."

...I fixed and made the date. Sonny came to the studio with me, and though he isn't listed under personnel he played the ending on one of the tracks because I was back in the bathroom fixing again. We got paid after the gig - Charles gave Sonny five dollars for his two chords - and you know we went straight to Harlem and got blind that night." Hampton Hawes, Raise Up Off Me

Charles Mingus (bass)
Hampton Hawes (piano)
Sonny Clark (piano)
Dannie Richmond (drums)

1. Yesterdays
2. Back Home Blues
3. I Can't Get Started
4. Hamp's New Blues
5. Summertime
6. Dizzy Moods
7. Laura

NYC, July 9, 1957

The Great Jazz Trio at the Village Vanguard Again

Hank Jones — Ron Carter — Tony Williams

A followup to the first album in this series I posted here a short while back. A second chance for baseball fans to figure out which teams are playing - see the scans. As for the musicians' playing, who can add one whit to its quality with mundane comment? I'd rather not even try! This CD rip in FLAC was kindly provided to me by D, with cover and tray scans.

Woody Shaw - Imagination

The combination of trumpeter Shaw's unique gift and untimely passing make him one of jazz's great should've-beens in the eyes of many. This and the other posthumous Shaw releases on 32 Jazz show '90s listeners that the achievements he managed in his too-short life were plenty on which to base a legacy. Known for his progressive approach toward improvisation, Shaw turns his inventive ear and chops to standards on Imagination. The results are predictably illuminating. Shaw's individualistic sense of phrasing and distaste for wasted notes invests these old chestnuts with new life. A listener stumbling across the delicate, simple beauty of the title tune could be forgiven for pegging it as a Shaw original, such is the trumpeter's power of revivification. Trombonist Steve Turre matches Shaw phrase for phrase on this 1987 date, and the two men's ensemble phrasing on "Dat Dere" and elsewhere helps give IMAGINATION its distinctive flavor.

Trumpeter Woody Shaw's final album as a leader (cut less than two years before his passing) is surprisingly upbeat. Although his health became shaky, Shaw never declined as a player, as he shows throughout the spirited quintet outing with his longtime trombonist Steve Turre, pianist Kirk Lightsey, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Carl Allen. Other than Turre's "Steve's Blues," all of the pieces are veteran standards (including "If I Were A Bell," "Imagination" and "You And The Night And The Music"), yet they sound quite fresh and contain more than their share of subtle surprises. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Steve Turre (trombone)
Kirk Lightsey (piano)
Ray Drummond (bass)
Carl Allen (drums)

1. If I Were a Bell
2. Imagination
3. Dat Dere
4. You and the Night and the Music
5. Stormy Weather
6. Steve's Blues

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on June 24, 1987

Manny Albam - Sketches from the Book of Life (1966)

This 1991 oop CD from master composer/arranger Manny Albam contains music from two albums released in 1966 on Solid State. All of The Soul of the City and 8 of 12 from Brass on Fire. If there's some interest, I have the latter LP and can rip the tracks that were not included on the CD. (the four missing tracks, ripped from the LP, are now in comments)

"Manny Albam's ambitious The Soul of the City is a suite for a large orchestra with jazz soloists that portrays his musical impressions of New York City. Albam, always an imaginative arranger and composer, is assisted by such outstanding guests as J.J. Johnson, Phil Woods, Hank Jones, Frank Wess, Ernie Royal, Joe Newman, and Freddie Hubbard. Some of the sound effects dubbed into individual pieces, such as a baby crying in "Born on Arrival" and kids playing in "The Children's Corner," may seem a bit corny and dated to some, but these progressive big band charts have held up very well over the decades since The Soul of the City was first issued by Solid State in 1966. This beautifully recorded album is well worth picking up, though it will be extremely difficult to track down." - Ken Dryden

"Manny Albam focuses on brass while omitting reeds and piano entirely from this mid-'60s big-band LP. Albam's arrangements of the dozen standards are still fresh decades later, whether alternating between the trumpet and trombone sections, or showcasing individual soloists. "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" centers around the separate solos of Jim Maxwell and John Frosk on open horns, with Thad Jones and Danny Stiles utilizing mutes. Joe Newman is featured in "My Heart Stood Still," "My Old Flame," and a waltz-time treatment of "I Get a Kick Out of You," while Ernie Royal is in the spotlight during "After You've Gone." Bassist Richard Davis comes to the forefront in a loping chart of "Just One of Those Things." This long unavailable Solid State LP will be difficult to acquire." - Ken Dryden

Johnny Pacheco & Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez — Salsobita

Johnny Pacheco's 'El Maestro' posted here a few days ago was quite popular, so here's another 'hard-core' salsa album for you all. This one is a little better on album notes and at least gives you a list of musicians. Another Pacheco-produced album on the FANIA label, getting harder to find these days.

LAME 3.98 vbr0 + scans

Jay Hoggard - Rain Forest

Jay Hoggard's lone date for Contemporary (reissued as an OJC CD) was one of the vibraphonist's finest early sets. The music (all six songs are Hoggard originals) falls into the area of advanced hard bop. Chief among the sidemen are Chico Freeman (heard on tenor, soprano and bass clarinet), keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, and colorful percussionist Paulinho Da Costa; two songs utilize three vocalists, and there is a strong African feel to some of the ensembles. ~ Scott Yanow

Jay Hoggard has had a wide-ranging career. One of the top vibraphonists to emerge during the 1970s, Hoggard originally started on piano and saxophone before switching to vibes. By the early '70s, he was working in New England with such top avant-garde players as Anthony Davis and Leo Smith. Hoggard moved to New York in 1977, where he played with Chico Freeman and Anthony Davis. In 1978, he recorded a solo avant-garde vibes performance, but he followed it up with a more commercial date. Hoggard worked with such greats as Sam Rivers, Cecil Taylor, James Newton, and Kenny Burrell, in addition to leading his own group; he recorded hard bop-oriented dates as a leader for Contemporary, India Navigation, and several for Muse. ~ Scott Yanow

Jay Hoggard (drums, maracas, marimba, balafon, vibraphone)
Chico Freeman (tenor and soprano sax, bass clarinet)
Kenny Kirkland (piano, clavinet)
Roland Bautista (guitar)
Francisco Centeno (bass)
Paulinho Da Costa (percussion)
Jose Goico (percussion)
John Koenig (guitar, cello)

1. Reverend Libra
2. Jammin' in the Sunshine
3. Sao Pablo
4. God Will Guide
5. The Guiding Spirit
6. Rain Forest

Hollywood; November 1980

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cal Tjader And Charlie Byrd - Tambu (1973)

"Still trying to stay in tune with the Seventies, Cal Tjader joins forces with another refugee from another time, guitarist Charlie Byrd, for an album of contemporary Brazilian-flavored jazz. The alliance is forged mostly on Byrd's terms, with bossa nova, samba and percussive displays from Brazil's interior dominating the grooves. This time, after proving very adaptable to previous experiments, Tjader seems to be out in the cold in these settings, and he lays out a lot more often than usual on this album. Byrd rides along in his gentle, prickly-toned manner on acoustic and electric guitars, and the rhythm section shifts personnel and instruments from track to track. Yet oddly enough, this is still a musically rich feast. Electric pianist Mike Wolff's "Samba de Oneida" is a marvelously propulsive samba, and "Tereza My Love," one of Antonio Carlos Jobim's most attractive sleepers, is given a lovely rendition. The title track, written by Airto Moreira, is given an authentic, rambunctious Airto-style treatment, very much up-to-date, but Cal doesn't sound totally comfortable with the rhythm on vibes, spending most of his time on timbales. Even though this isn't prime Tjader, the overall quality of the music makes it a winner." - Richard S. Ginell

Charlie Byrd (guitar)
Cal Tjader (vibes)
Mike Wolff (electric piano)
John Heard (bass)
Joe Byrd (electric bass)
Mike Stephans, Dick Berk (drums, percussion)
Mayuto Correa (percussion)

1. Tambu
2. Tereza My Love
3. Black Narcissus
4. Sad Eyes
5. My Cherie Amour
6. San Francisco River
7. Samba De Oneida
8. Don't Lend Your Guitar To Anyone

Rolf Kühn - Solarius (Amiga, 1964)

This is the recent Japan reissue on the Celeste label. I'm not sure how appropriate this is, grab it quick.

I havn't heard any more of his work prior to 1966 and there are quite a few albums. Very rare stuff which I'm interested in tracking down.

Review taken from dustygroove
Some of the hippest work we've ever heard from German clarinetist Rolf Kuhn -- a beautiful set from the 60s, and one that's filled with modern touches, but never goes too far out! Rolf's clarinet is definitely sharper here than in the decade before -- informed by much of the modern jazz changes around him, and stretching out in space that's nicely open, and often moved along with some modal rhythms on the bottom. As with some of his other European contemporaries, Kuhn manages to use the instrument in completely new ways than before -- no trad jazz clarinet lines that echo Benny Goodman's generation -- and instead, an extremely evocative sound that often carries some nicely exotic overtones. The rest of the group's great too -- and includes brother Joachim Kuhn on piano, Michal Urbaniak on tenor and soprano sax, and Czeslaw Bartkowski on drums. Titles include "Lady Orsina", "Mountain Jump", "Minor Impressions", "Solarius", and "Soldat Tadeusz".

Cecil Taylor - Jazz Advance

We've discussed the role of Tom Wilson before; briefly, while a student (at Harvard) he formed a small record company that produced real a home-made product. Some of the people he recorded were Sun Ra (Ra's first album), Donald Byrd, and this work: Cecil Taylor's Jazz Advance. He later went on to produce Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, signed Zappa. He was an impressive man; and, parenthetically, "...He was virtually the only African-American record producer working in mainstream American popular music."

Jazz Advance, as well as other works in the Transition catalog was sold off; which is why you'll see this as a Blue Note title. I'm getting off the subject, but Byrd's Transition work is probably due for re-posting.

" This is Cecil Taylor's first album, recorded by Tom Wilson (also Bob Dylan's first producer) in Boston in 1956. While the record works beautifully on its own terms, it also hints at the tremendous reserves of energy that would propel Taylor's whole career. And it's probably the only Cecil Taylor record you can have on your CD changer while entertaining guests--it has a light touch. Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing" starts it off, with the earthy and grounded Dennis Charles on drums and solid Buell Neidlinger on bass. Taylor's lines are extensions of Monk-like concepts, but the tightly coiled melodies contain a barely withheld fury. Full-armed clusters signal exciting breakthroughs to come. Steve Lacy makes his debut on Taylor's "Charge 'em Blues," with a tone that recalls Paul Desmond. There are many highlights: Ellington's "Azure" is given an orchestral reading by Taylor; and on "Song," Lacy's tone is like a cool mountain stream. Cecil totally re-imagines Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To." Instead of playing off the changes, he seems to be mining underlying personal meanings--reconfiguring the harmony, melody, even the words."

Cecil Taylor (piano)
Steve Lacy (soprano saxophone)
Buell Niedlinger (bass)
Dennis Charles (drums)

1. Bemsha Swing
2. Charge 'Em Blues
3. Azure
4. Song
5. You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To
6. Rick Kick Shaw
7. Sweet and Lovely

Recorded in Boston, Massachusetts in September 1956

Cecil Taylor - Unit Structures

One of the most important albums of the 1960s free-jazz movement, Unit Structures is an exemplary document of advanced musical conception and fiercely intense improvisation. Cecil Taylor had been working as a pianist, composer, bandleader, and iconoclast since the mid-'50s, with an increasing allegiance to radical, atonal music; his innovations kept pace with (and, in many cases, preceded) those of contemporaries like Ornette Coleman. The influence of modern classical music (the dramatic, fragmentary scores of Stravinsky, for example) plays heavily in Taylor's vision. The presence of oboe, bass clarinet, and bells on Unit Structures (in addition to trumpet, alto sax, and a standard rhythm section) highlights the parallel. As a pianist, Taylor specializes in violent, rapid-fire chord clusters, churning up clouds of sound with machine gun-like rapidity. His lengthy compositions have a dynamic ebb and flow, weaving a tapestry of voice-like cries and phrases that build in tension before exploding in a cacophonous frenzy. For all its turbulence, Unit Structures is perfectly balanced, revealing interlocking parts that make good on the album's title. A certified free-jazz classic, Unit Structures is a must for anyone remotely interested in the style.

Cecil Taylor (piano, bells)
Eddy Gale Stevens, Jr. (trumpet)
Jimmy Lyons (alto sax)
Ken McIntyre (alto sax, oboe, bass clarinet)
Henry Grimes (bass)
Alan Silva (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)

1. Steps
2. Enter, Evening [Soft Line Structure]
3. Enter, Evening [Alternate Take]
4. Unit Structure/As Of A Now/Section
5. Tales (8 Whisps)

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on May 19, 1966

Art Farmer - In Europe

This 1970 club date in a Munich club by Art Farmer wasn't released until 1998, but it is by no means a collection of outtakes; it was in the possession of the club owner as his own private treasure. The flügelhornist (though he is inexplicably credited playing trumpet on the CD) is joined by his pianist of choice while in Europe, Fritz Pauer, along with bassist Peter Marshall and drummer Erich Bachtragl. Both Farmer and Pauer deliver consistently outstanding solos throughout the set, and what's unusual is that all of the tracks are originals by the leader. "Concord" and "Concourse" are both up-tempo cookers, while Marshall's fine solo introduces the bluesy "Overnight." While the piano is slightly buried in the mix, this otherwise excellent recording is very much a worthwhile investment for fans of hard bop. ~ Ken Dryden

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Fritz Pauer (piano)
Peter Marshall (bass)
Erich Bachtragl (drums)

1. Concord
2. Overnight
3. Re-Entry
4. Concourse
5. Rainmaker

Munich; May 4, 1970

Andrew Hill - Eternal Spirit

Andrew Hill returned to the Blue Note label (where he made many significant releases during 1963-80) for a stimulating quintet date with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, altoist Greg Osby, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Ben Riley in 1989. The pianist's six originals (which are joined by three alternate takes on the CD) his dense chords behind the other improvisers and his own unpredictable solos are not all overshadowed by his talented sideman, even Osby who is heard in particularly inspired form. There are no weak performances on this superb post bop effort, Andrew Hill's strongest recording in several years. Scott Yanow

Andrew Hill (piano)
Bobby Hutcherson (vibes)
Greg Osby (alto sax)
Rufus Reid (bass)
Ben Riley (drums)

1. Pinnacle
2. Golden Sunset
3. Samba Rasta
4. Tail Feather
5. Spiritual Lover
6. Bobby's Tune
7. Pinnacle (Alternate Take)
8. Golden Sunset (Alternate Take)
9. Spiritual Lover (Alternate Take)

Recorded Directly To Digital Two Track On January 30 and January 31, 1989 at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

The Essential Keynote Collection 8: Red Norvo - Improvisations

Volume Eight of Mercury's partial transfer onto CDs of its mighty Complete Keynote Collection LP set contains some wonderful Red Norvo small combo swing sessions. "Subtle Sextology," "Blues a la Red," "The Man I Love," and "Seven Come Eleven" come from some sextet sessions that sound very much like the sextet 78s that Benny Goodman was putting out around then. That figures, because Norvo participated on many of the BG sides -- and so did pianist Teddy Wilson and bassist Slam Stewart; the latter gets plenty of humorous hum-scat time on these sides, too. For "Russian Lullaby," "I Got Rhythm," and "Sing Something Simple," the personnel shuffles (Wilson and Stewart remain) and expands to a septet for which Johnny Thompson writes some creative charts. Norvo plays xylophone on "Lullaby" and delivers unquenchably swinging vibraphone solos at all times. All but "Subtle Sextology" and "The Man I Love" are appended with outtakes -- indeed, eight of the 14 tracks here were previously unissued -- and "Sing Something Simple" never appeared on 78s at all. The remastered sound is all right, with a touch of distortion on occasional peaks. ~ Richard S. Ginell

Red Norvo (vibes)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Remo Palmieri (guitar)
Aaron Sachs (clarinet)
Slam Stewart (bass)
Eddie Dell (drums)
NYC, July 27, 1944

Red Norvo (vibes)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Joe Thomas (trumpet)
Vic Dickenson (trombone)
Hank D'Amico (clarinet)
Slam Stewart (bass)
Specs Powell (drums)
NYC, October 10, 1944

1. Subtle Sextology
2. Blues A La Red
3. Blues A La Red
4. The Man I Love
5. Seven Come Eleven
6. Seven Come Eleven
7. Russian Lullaby
8. Russian Lullaby
9. I Got Rhythm
10. I Got Rhythm
11. Sing Something Simple
12. Sing Something Simple
13. Sing Something Simple

Ellery Eskelin - Vanishing Point

Does Ellery Eskelin ever lead a group with less than outstanding results? This is his sixth recording for a series of limited-edition CDs produced by the adventurous Swiss label hatOLOGY, and like its predecessors, it is a winner all the way. Eskelin knows what he wants, and for that reason his efforts as a leader are highly focused. For this one, he invited a vibraphonist and three leading string players known for their facility with free improvisation. The eight tracks were freely improvised without any rehearsals or preconceptions. This is risky business, to be sure, but with the likes of Eskelin, violist Mat Maneri, cellist Erik Friedlander, and bassist Mark Dresser, all of whom are well-known for their remarkable skills as soloists, the results are entirely successful. There is an intense lyricism produced that belies the common conception of free improvisation. The strings and vibes stand on their own, with the saxophonist's exquisite tone drawing, blending, and contrasting its timbre. Each piece somehow sounds composed and explores something slightly different, drawing the listener deeply into an array of mysterious sounds. There is a chamber-like quality to much of it, though Eskelin and his colleagues are much too experienced and savvy to let what they do be pigeonholed. Longtime fans of the saxophonist will not be disappointed; for those who are unfamiliar with this great player, this might be a fine introduction to his highly creative work. Steven Loewy

Ellery Eskelin (tenor sax)
Matt Moran (vibraphone)
Mat Maneri (viola)
Erik Friedlander (cello)
Mark Dresser (bass)

1 Scatter Brain
2 Horizon Blue
3 Terra Firma
4 Inquiétante Familiarité
5 Transient
6 Still Life
7 Signal Drift
8 Paradigm

Al Cohn and Zoot Sims - From A to Z

The very complementary tenors Al Cohn and Zoot Sims (whose similar styles often made them seem to sound identical) teamed up many times through the years; this CD reissue brings back their first joint recording. Joined by either Dave McKenna or Hank Jones on piano, bassist Milt Hinton, drummer Osie Johnson and (on some selections) the forgotten trumpeter Dick Sherman, Al and Zoot avoid obvious material ("Somebody Loves Me" and "East of the Sun" are the only standards) in favor of swinging "modern" originals by Cohn, Sherman, Osie Johnson, Ralph Burns, Manny Albam, Ernie Wilkins and Milty Gold. Zoot contributed "Tenor for Two Please, Jack," his answer to the song "Dinner for One Please, James." The CD adds four alternate takes to the original 12-song program and gives one a good example of the occasional Cohn-Sims musical partnership. ~ Scott Yanow

Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Al Cohn (tenor sax)
Hank Jones (piano)
Dick Sherman (trumpet)
Dave McKenna (piano)
Milt Hinton (bass)
Osie Johnson (drums)

1. Mediolistic
2. Crimea River
3. A New Moan
4. A Moment's Notice
5. My Blues
6. Sandy's Swing
7. Somebody Loves Me
8. More Bread
9. Sherm's Terms
10. From A To Z
11. East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)
12. Tenor For Two Please, Jack
13. My Blues (alt)
14. More Bread (alt)
15. Tenor For Two Please, Jack (alt)
16. Somebody Loves Me (alt)

New York: January 23-24, 1956

This Day In Jazz

Roy Haynes Quartet - Out of the Afternoon

Roy Haynes' drumming is unmistakable. His snappy snare drum sound and overall rhythmic sensibility cast him in a different light to technicians such as Buddy Rich or even the melodic Joe Morello. While Haynes' musicianship has sent shock waves through the entire field of percussion, he has never achieved recognition as a great bandleader. Out of the Afternoon, however, proves Haynes' distinction in this regard.

This 1962 album displays Haynes' ability to grow and adapt to changes in jazz as a performer and as a leader, an ability that many of his contemporaries lacked. A thoroughly post-bop album, Out of the Afternoon showcases the drummer's soloing abilities best on "Raoul," a track that traverses some inscrutable jazz territory, at once playful and controlled, raw and contemplative. It's this approach that makes Out of the Afternoon prominent among the vast canon of post-bop albums.

Roy Haynes (drums)
Roland Kirk (tenor sax, flute, stritch, manzello, percussion)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Henry Grimes (bass)

1. Moon Ray
2. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)
3. Raoul
4. Snap Crackle
5. If I Should Lose You
6. Long Wharf
7. Some Other Spring

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on May 16 and 23, 1962

Kirk Lightsey Trio with Chet Baker

Everything Happens to Me

Quite a bit more meritorious than the rather ho-hum review at AMG would imply, definitely worth a listen. Chet's vocal of the title tune reflects personal experience, to be sure.

David Eubanks on bass
Eddie Gladden on drums

LAME3.98 vbr0 + scans

Black California, Vol. 2

The second of two Arista/Savoy two-LP sets that focus on the lesser-known Los Angeles bop scene of the 1940s and early '50s, this two-fer contains many interesting performances. Tenor-saxophonist Wardell Gray leads a live jam session with trumpeter Al Killian and altoist Sonny Criss, the tenors of Wild Bill Moore and Gene Montgomery square off during a different club appearance and there are three versions apiece of two numbers by trumpeter Russell Jacquet's octet. In addition singer Helen Humes is heard in excellent form, guitarist/vocalist Slim Gaillard has a good time on four humorous numbers and there is a 1954 session by drummer Kenny Clarke that features altoist Frank Morgan and vibraphonist Milt Jackson. This is one for bop fans to search for. ~ Scott Yanow

Sonny Criss (alto sax)
Wardell Gray (tenor sax)
Russ Freeman (piano)
Barney Kessel (guitar)
Al Killian (tp)
Harry Babasin (b)
Ken Kennedy (d)
"Elks Auditorium", Los Angeles, CA, July 6, 1947

Russell Jacquet (trumpet, vocal)
Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Gus Evans (alto sax)
Arthur Dennis (baritone sax)
Jimmy Bunn (piano)
Leo Blevins (guitar)
Herman Washington (bass)
Chico Hamilton (drums)
Los Angeles, CA, September 21, 1946

Gene Montgomery, Wild Bill Moore (tenor sax)
Russ Freeman (piano)
possibly Barney Kessel (guitar)
Leroy Gray (bass)
Ken Kennedy (drums)
"Elks Auditorium", Los Angeles, CA, July 6, 1947

Helen Humes (vocal)
John Anderson, Pete Candoli, Jack Trainor (trumpet)
Britt Woodman (trombone)
Marshall Royal (alto sax)
Henry Bridges, Maxwell Davis (tenor sax)
Jack McVea (baritone sax)
Eddie Beal (piano)
Leonard Bibb (bass)
Oscar Bradley (drums)
Los Angeles, CA, May 9, 1950

Slim Gaillard, Dodo Marmarosa, others
Recorded 1946 or 1947

Kenny Clarke (drums)
Frank Morgan (alto sax)
Walter Benton (tenor sax)
Milt Jackson (vibes, vocal)
Gerald Wiggins (piano)
Percy Heath (bass)
Los Angeles, CA, November 1, 1954

1. Blow Blow Blow
2. Blues A La Russ
3. What Is This Thing Called Love
4. Wake Up Old Maid
5. Sad Feeling
6. Rock Me To Sleep
7. This Love Of Mine
8. He May Be Yours
9. The Jam Man
10. Slim's Riff
11. I'm Confessing
12. Oxydol Highball
13. Strollin'
14. Sonor
15. Blues Mood
16. Skoot
17. I've Lost Your Love

Friday Fusion

John McLaughlin
Extrapolation (1969)

If you have any interest in the birth of what later became known as "fusion", this progressive British jazz album is a must listen.

"Shortly before he left the UK to join Tony Williams' new band, Lifetime, John McLaughlin recorded Extrapolation, his incredible debut album. Extrapolation would be a valuable piece of work for McLauglin fans even if it wasn't great, because it is the only record that McLaughlin made before working with Miles Davis. I think that it is great, though, and while it is a bit uncomfortable for me to take an artist as accomplished and prolific as John McLaughlin and say that he rarely improved upon his debut, such a critical judgement is made easier by the fact that Extrapolation is very much a collaborative effort by the considerable talents involved. Saxophonist John Surman and drummer Tony Oxley were young stars of the British experimental jazz scene and they're at least as important to the success of the album as McLaughlin. Bassist Brian Odges — while not of Surman's or Oxley's pedigree — does a very fine job filling in for Dave Holland who, according to the liner notes, would have been on the album had he not recently joined Miles Davis' band.

Though the tunes are all McLaughlin's, he rarely uses them to shine a spotlight on his playing. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd probably have guessed that Surman was the leader on this occasion. He generates a very big sound that is nevertheless frictionless and often quite lyrical. He usually plays the melody of any particular piece and he projects his tone right to the front of the mix, controlling whatever passages he plays on. McLaughlin usually provides harmonic depth, jangling some bluesy chord progressions or whipping through his trademark single-note phrases. When he does solo, though — like on "Binky's Beam" — the results are sublime. The work of the rhythm section is great, responding crisply to either McLaughlin or Surman, and Oxley moves nimbly through the unorthodox time signatures. I wouldn't be surprised if the members of Soft Machine had been listening to this album, as some of the work of mid-period Soft Machine (albums Fourth and Fifth, to be exact) sounds influenced by tracks like "It's Funny," and "Arjens's Bag."

The music is very much related to late-'60s British experimental jazz, but McLaughlin himself was not a part of that scene. Thus, he lends the music a flavor of both the blues and non-western harmonics that gives it a unique character. Although this is principally a jazz album, much of what McLaughlin would do elsewhere is evident here, even if only at a formative level of development. There's the frenetic, single-note passages that traverse complicated time signatures. There are some acoustic passages that foreshadow the quieter moments on the early Mahavishnu albums ("Peace Piece," the two-minute acoustic guitar solo that ends the album is some of the most beautiful music that McLaughlin has ever played). The technique that McLaughlin uses on "Two for Two" presages his work with Shakti.

I really can't say enough about this album — I appear to be in the minority with this opinion, but I think it's one of the finest British jazz albums (that I've ever heard) and I'd highly recommend it. Just don't expect much fuzz from McLaughlin's guitar — it is set to a clear, undistorted frequency." - review by Matt P.

John McLaughlin (guitars)
John Surman (baritone and soprano sax)
Brian Odges (bass)
Tony Oxley (drums)
  1. Extrapolation
  2. It's Funny
  3. Arjen's Bag
  4. Pete the Poet
  5. This Is for Us to Share
  6. Spectrum
  7. Binky's Dream
  8. Really You Know
  9. Two for Two
  10. Peace Piece

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Brew Moore - The Kerouac Connection

The company is too ambitious in it's packaging, although the music is rock solid and very welcome. First, this is Volume 2 of what the company lamentably calls "The Gray Boys Series", and they seem to think it is a term Pres made up. Many of us will know it as an old-timers expression that was around before Lester used it; and it ain't a nice term to use.

That aside, being cited by Kerouac is no particular honor either; but we'll let that one go. This is a little treasure chest of stuff from the man who famously said; "Anyone who doesn't play like Lester Young is wrong" But as Robin Trower said when accused of being a Hendrix clone, "I am not a Hendrix clone, I am a Hendrix disciple." Lester must have been pleased with this guy.

"A much-needed look at the mighty talents of Brew Moore -- a tremendous tenorist in the 50s, but one who didn't always get to work strongly as a leader! Moore's possibly best known for his American albums on Fantasy Records in the late 50s, or for his European dates of later years -- but this 2CD set brings together mostly Moore work from the years before those -- sides from 1948 through 1956, most of which feature Brew's tenor under the supervision of a host of different leaders! The sound here is wonderful -- a well-blown sound on his instrument that rivals that of Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, or any other of Moore's contemporaries -- and while a few of the tracks feature larger ensembles, most of the music is of a small combo jazz nature. Titles include "Godchild" by Claude Thornhill, "Cubop City (parts 1 & 2)" by Howard McGhee, "Vacilando" and "Howard's Blues" by Machito, "Lo Flame" and "Fuguetta" by Howard McGhee, "Bop City" and "Sleepy Bop" by Kai Winding, "Knockout" by George Wallington, "Wee" by Miles Davis, "Lover Come Back To Me" by Cal Tjader, "Perdido" by Charlie Parker, and "Oh Lady Be Good" by Slim Gaillard. Titles also include "Blue Brew", "Brew Blue", "More Brew", "No More Brew", "Bernie's Tune", "Pat's Batch", "Rotation", "The Mud Bug", and "Lestorian Mode" all recorded by Brew as a leader."

The all-star cast of players on this double CD includes Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Slim Gaillard, Lee Konitz, Allan Eager, Zoot Sims, Max Roach, J.J. Johnson, Tadd Dameron, Kai Winding, Howard McGhee, George Wallington, Claude Thornhill and Machito's Afro Cuboppers, Paul Bley....and many others. As one reviewer said: Prepare to be impressed.

CD 1
1. Blue Brew
2. Brew Blue
3. More Brew
4. No More Brew
5. God Child
6. Cubop City
7. Vacilando
8. Howard's Blues
9. Cubop City
10. Four And One Moore
11. Indianola
12. How High The Moon
13. Bop City
14. Wallington's God Child
15. Crossing The Channel
16. Sleepy Bop
17. Knockout
18. Igloo
19. Mudbug
20. Goldrush
21. Lestonian Mode
22. Kai's Kid
23. Broadway

CD 2
1. Lo Flame
2. Fuevetta
3. Fluid Drive
4. Maciendo
5. Donnellon Square
6. Imagination
7. Oh Lady Be Good
8. Wee
9. Barbarabatri
10. Tanga
11. Bernie's Tune
12. Perdido
13. Fools Rush In
14. Rotation
15. Lover Come Back To Me
16. Will You Still Be Mine
17. Blues From Havana
18. Pat's Patch

Count Basie - Afrique [Oliver Nelson]

What do we have here? Count Basie and the band. OK. Arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson? Great. Nelson and Basie playing on tunes by Albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders? You know you have to check this out. And you don't have to spend a fortune to do it.

"In late 1970, more than 35 years into his career as a bandleader, Count Basie, working with producer Bob Thiele and arranger/conductor/saxman Oliver Nelson, went into the studio and cut this album of big band blues built on recent compositions -- and they made it sound cutting-edge and as urgent as anything the man had ever turned his talent toward. Basie and company got a Grammy nomination for their trouble on this, their most modern recording (right down to the use of electric bass on half the cuts), but never went down this road again. Ironically, along with The Atomic Mr. Basie album on Roulette, Afrique is one of a handful of absolutely essential post-big band-era albums by him. The band moved into new and novel territory for them, both musically and thematically, Hubert Laws' flute soaring gently over the group on a conga- and bongo-ornamented rendition of "Gypsy Queen" and Nelson's own sax sounding almost like a human voice on Albert Ayler's "Love Flower." "Afrique," "Kilimanjaro," and "African Sunrise" comprise an African-flavored suite that intersects with the modern soul instrumental amid some bluesy riffs on flute, saxes, horns, and piano, with Basie's keyboard (especially on the gorgeous "African Sunrise") adding just that final bit of understated invention to this swinging excursion across foreign fields. The album ends with Pharoah Sanders' "Japan," a wild ride across the East highlighted by Laws' exquisite flute and a driving performance by percussionists Harold Jones, Richard Pablo Landrum, and Sonny Morgan and an awesome finale on the saxes and trombones. RCA hasn't seen fit to reissue Afrique in America, but the label's French division has put it out remastered in an exquisite-sounding 24-bit digital edition that can be found as an import at better jazz stores and over the Internet. "~ Bruce Eder

1. Step Right Up
2. Hobo Flats
3. Gypsy Queen
4. Love Flower
5. Afrique
6. Kilimanjaro
7. African Sunrise
8. Japan

Warren Vaché Sextette - Easy Going

On this well-rounded set, cornetist Warren Vache is featured in a sextet also including trombonist Dan Barrett (who blends very well with Vache), guitarist Howard Alden, the unknown pianist John Harkins, bassist Jack Lesberg and drummer Chuck Riggs. The arrangements really uplift the music and the repertoire has many unusual items including "Little Girl," Bobby Hackett's "Michelle," Carroll Coates' "London By Night," "Moon Song" and the underrated dixieland tune "Mandy Make Up Your Mind." This is one of Warren Vache's better Concord albums although in reality all are recommended. Scott Yanow

This is a great collection of musicians turning out some fine laid back swing. The arrangements, by trombonist Dan Barrett and guitarist Howard Alden, provide some of the smoothest ensemble sound for a small group that you could hope to hear.
Vache has his usual beautiful tone and creative ideas while Alden and Barrett both display the talents that have since gained them their own respected reputations as soloists and leaders of their own groups.

Highlights are the sweet blend of the two horns on "Easy Going Bounce" the sound of which may have originated the expression "honey in the horn". Vache does a great "Warm Valley" and a terrific duo with Howard Alden on "London By Night". "It's Been So Long" and "Mandy" reminded me somewhat of the Bobby Hackett/Jack Teagarden re-release I had just finished playing. As a matter of fact, Vache does a Hackett composition, "Michelle", complete with vocal which comes off well. "Little Girl" and "Moon Song" also gives us that great horn blend along with some fine solos. Robert Ament

Warren Vaché (Cornet, Flugelhorn, Vocals)
Howard Alden (Guitar)
Dan Barrett (Trombone)
John Harkins (Piano)
Jack Lesberg (Bass)
Chuck Riggs (Drums)

1 Little Girl (Henry, Hyde) 4:22
2 Easy Going Bounce (Lovett) 4:39
3 Warm Valley (Ellington) 3:53
4 You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To (Porter) 4:26
5 Michelle (Hackett) 4:11
6 It's Been So Long (Adamson, Donaldson) 4:16
7 Was I to Blame for Falling in Love With You? (Kahn, Newman, Young) 3:59
8 London by Night (Coates) 3:15
9 Mandy, Make up Your Mind (Clarke, Johnston, Meyer, Turk) 3:36
10 Moon Song (Coslow, Johnston) 5:16

Recorded December, 1986 at Penny Lane Studios, New York City

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Woody Shaw - The Moontrane

In a genre full of tragically short-lived performers, Woody Shaw's story is exceptionally tragic. Legally blind and beset with emotional problems, he was killed in a subway accident in 1989 without ever attaining the recognition attentive listeners knew he deserved. The Mosaic box set of his Columbia recordings a few years ago placed him in a linear development of trumpet players between Hubbard and Marsalis; this was, no doubt, a highly questionable analysis (mainly because it left out Miles Davis altogether), but it indicated the high regard and influence Shaw has had — or should have had — over other trumpet players.

The Moontrane, recorded in late 1974, was Shaw's breakthrough album. It is aptly named, for although Shaw was during his lifetime routinely (and with relative inaccuracy) compared to Hubbard, he sounds more like John Coltrane. Now to replicate Coltrane's lightning runs and dense harmonic lines on trumpet is no mean feat; Shaw not only does it repeatedly, but with impeccable precision and taste. The Moontrane sports the Coltrane-ish tenor and soprano man Azar Lawrence, who was also part of McCoy Tyner's Coltrane-ish modal recordings of the early Seventies.

“Sanyas,” by a young Steve Turre, who is also part of Shaw's basic quartet, is a modal workout with some intense soprano work by Lawrence, recalling the reedy Eastern feel of many of Coltrane's soprano recordings. Shaw is simply stunning here, with long clean lines to take the breath away. Then comes pianist Onaje Allen Gumbs, a Shaw favorite, playing unplugged on this track a first-rate McCoy Tyner impersonation. Cecil McBee plays bass on three tracks, Buster Williams on two. (There are also two alternates, both featuring McBee.) Victor Lewis on drums keeps things going, but doesn't light any fires. Percussionists Tony Waters and Guilherme Franco join in here and there.

“The Moontrane” became Shaw's signature tune. Here it gets a straightforward reading enlivened by the sterling trumpet of the master himself. “Tapscott's Blues” is more passionate, with Lawrence and Shaw vying intriguingly for Best Post-Coltrane Solo honors. Turre sounds throughout the disc a little less developed than the trombonist he has subsequently become, but that doesn't mean he doesn't hold up his end. Actually, as the only one of the frontmen not to be deeply influenced by the Coltrane Quartet, he adds piquancy to the sound.

“Katrina Ballerina” is a boppish tune with more stunning work from Shaw, whose fluency in the trumpet's lower register is just as striking as his speed. Gumbs shines on his own “Are They Only Dreams,” as does Turre on the opening sections of his “Sanyas.” Shaw himself penned “The Moontrane” and “Katrina Ballerina,” putting him in the group of great jazz performers who could write their own great tunes. Alas that he didn't write more. Robert Spencer

Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Azar Lawrence (soprano and tenor sax)
Onaje Allan Gumbs (piano)
Steve Turre (trombone)
Cecil McBee (bass)
Buster Williams (bass)
Victor Lewis (drums)
Guilherme Franco (percussion)
Tony Waters (conga)

1. The Moontrane
2. Sanyas
3. Tapscott's Blues
4. Katrina Ballerina
5. Are They Only Dreams
6. Tapscott's Blues (alt)
7. Katrina Ballerina (alt)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ms. Sullivan

Maxine Sullivan - 1938-1941 (Chronological 991)

The second Classics CD in their Maxine Sullivan series has all of the subtle singer's recordings from a 2½-year period. Since "Loch Lomond" had been such a big hit, Sullivan was persuaded to record quite a few Scottish folk songs in a similar light swing style. Included on this CD from that idiom are such numbers as "I Dream of Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair," "Drink to Me With Thine Eyes," "Turtle Dove," "If I Had a Ribbon Bow," "Molly Malone," and "Barbara Allen." Although those performances are enjoyable, the actual high points of this release are such tunes as "It Ain't Necessarily So," "Ill Wind," "The Hour of Parting" and "What a Difference a Day Made." Sullivan, who was in her early prime during this era, is accompanied by five different units, including the John Kirby Sextet, Benny Carter's big band (for two numbers), such players as Bobby Hackett and Bud Freeman, and an octet that includes two clarinets, a bass clarinet, bassoon and Mitch Miller on oboe. Recommended, if not as essential as Sullivan's previous 1937-38 Classics CD. ~ Scott Yanow

Maxine Sullivan (vocals)
Bobby Hackett (cornet)
Bud Freeman (tenor sax)
Benny Carter (trumpet, alto sax)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Doc Cheatham (trumpet)
Billy Kyle (piano)
Buster Bailey (clarinet)
Sidney DeParis (trumpet)
John Kirby (bass)

1. Night And Day
2. Kinda Lonesome
3. It Ain't Necessarily So
4. Say It With A Kiss
5. I Dream Of Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair
6. I'm Happy About The Whole Thing
7. Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes
8. Corn Pickin'
9. Jackie Boy
10. Turtle Dove
11. Sing Something Simple
12. Ill Wind
13. St. Louis Blues
14. The Hour Of Parting
15. If I Had A Ribbon Bow
16. Who Is Sylvia?
17. Molly Malone
18. Barbara Allen
19. Midnight
20. What A Difference A Day Made

Count Basie & His Orchestra - Prime Time

This 1977 release begins with a mid-tempo blues cut featuring The Count on piano, Al Grey on trombone, and Jimmy Forrest on tenor saxophone. Punchy section work and dynamic contrast set the tone for what's to come on the other seven tracks. While Basie continued to work in the big band setting until his death in 1984, his band's sound didn't change all that much. Much of this had to do with the key players (Freddie Green, Eric Dixon, Butch Miles, and others) who played on and off with the band until Basie's demise.

There are many highlights on PRIME TIME. Whether it be Pete Minger's solo on "Reachin' Out," Butch Miles' blazing drum breaks on "Ya Gotta Try," or Sammy Nestico's smart compositions (which make up six of the album's eight tracks), PRIME TIME swings with authority and grace.

One of arranger Sammy Nestico's most enjoyable sessions for Count Basie, these eight selections (six composed by Nestico, including the title cut and "Ya Gotta Try") are performed by an inspired Basie orchestra. Tenor-saxophonist Jimmy Forrest and trombonist Al Grey star among the soloists. Scott Yanow

Count Basie (Piano)
Sammy Nestico (Arranger)
Lin Biviano (Trumpet)
Sonny Cohn (Trumpet)
Eric Dixon (Flute, Tenor Sax)
John Duke (Bass)
Jimmy Forrest (Tenor Sax)
Charlie Fowlkes (Baritone Sax)
Curtis Fuller (Trombone)
Freddie Green (Guitar)
Al Grey (Trombone)
Bill Hughes (Trombone)
Butch Miles (Drums)
Pete Minger (Trumpet)
Bobby Mitchell (Trumpet)
Nat Pierce (Piano)
Bobby Plater (Alto Sax)
Reinie Press (Fender Bass)
Danny Turner (Flute, Alto Sax)
Mel Wanzo (Trombone)

1 Prime Time (Nestico) 7:33
2 Bundle O'Funk (Nestico) 5:16
3 Sweet Georgia Brown (Bernie, Casey, Pinkard) 3:34
4 Featherweight (Nestico) 4:52
5 Reacin' Out (Nestico) 6:36
6 Ja-Da (Carlton) 5:45
7 The Great Debate (Nestico) 4:48
8 Ya Gotta Try (Nestico 4):00

Recorded at Sun West Studios, Los Angeles, CA on January 18-20, 1977

Charlie Parker - The Washington Concerts

The reviewer must have some very high standards about sound quality if he thinks this is bad. Or he hasn't heard much of what is released of Bird.

"Only Bird could make a plastic saxophone sound amazing.

Charlie Parker, the virtuoso alto saxophonist who started the bebop movement in jazz, gave a jaw-dropping performance with Joe Timer's orchestra at the Club Kavakos in Washington, D.C. in 1953. Eight songs taken from that concert (where Parker played a plastic saxophone) were released in 1983 by Elektra Records. Recently, producer Bill Potts has unearthed two more D.C. concerts (both from the Howard Theater), and Blue Note Records has released selections from all three performances as The Washington Concerts.

Unfortunately, the sound quality is not the greatest in the world (it gets worse as the CD progresses). But when Parker steps up to the mic, you'll forget the sound imperfections and be swept away by his mind-numbing races up, down, around and through chords and scales. What is more mind-numbing is the fact that Parker didn't have any music in front of him. A normal human being could probably adjust to the key changes within a few measures, but Bird's ear could pick it out and play in the new key within a few notes. An audio interview with trumpeter Red Rodney gives some insight into Bird's genius.

On “These Foolish Things,” the orchestra plays a gentle accompaniment while Parker appears to be playing every note in a particular chord, clocking in near the speed of light. The eight songs with the orchestra blend big band swing with bebop, while the six unreleased tracks lean toward bebop. Listeners get to hear Parker in a quartet setting that included Max Roach on drums. It's pure magic when Roach and Parker trade fours on “Ornithology,” “Cool Blues” and the lightning-fast “Anthropology.”

Tragically, it would be two years after the quartet's Howard Theater performance when Parker succumbed to cirrhosis of the liver. But thanks to the efforts of Potts, the jazz community has one more unbelievable performance from Parker." Michael Fortuna

Charlie Parker (alto sax)
Jim Parker, Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Jack Nimitz (baritone sax)
Bob Carey (trumpet)
Earl Swope, Kai Winding (trombone)
Jack Holliday, Bill Shanahan (piano)
Charlie Byrd (guitar)
Mert Oliver, Franklin Skeete (bass)
Joe Timer, Max Roach, Don Lamond (drums)

1. Fine And Dandy
2. These Foolish Things
3. Light Green
4. Thou Swell
5. Willis
6. Don't Blame Me
7. Something To Remember You By/The Blue Roo
8. Roundhouse
9. Ornithology
10. Out Of Nowhere
11. Cool Blues
12. Anthropology
13. Scrapple From the Apple
14. Out Of Nowhere/Now's The Time
15. Red Rodney Interview

Recorded live at the Club Kavakos, Washington, D.C. on February 22, 1953 and The Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. on October 18, 1952 and March 8, 1953

Andrew Hill - From California with Love

The LP fest continues with this uncommon album on the Artists House label. Andrew Hill plays two sidelong solo improvisations on this excellent LP, "building his solos from fairly simple themes into works of great complexity and individuality."

LP —> declickGW —> LAME 3.98 vbr0 mp3
Full album cover scans.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Red

Red Garland - A Garland Of Red

Thirty-three at the time of this, his first recording as a leader, pianist Red Garland already had his distinctive style fully formed and had been with the Miles Davis Quintet for a year. With the assistance of bassist Paul Chambers (also in Davis's group) and drummer Art Taylor, Garland is in superior form on six standards, Charlie Parker's "Constellation" (during which he shows that he could sound relaxed at the fastest tempos) and his own "Blue Red." Red Garland recorded frequently during the 1956-62 period and virtually all of his trio recordings are consistently enjoyable, this one being no exception. ~ Scott Yanow

Red Garland (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. A Foggy Day
2. My Romance
3. What Is This Thing Called Love?
4. Makin' Whoopee
5. September In The Rain
6. Little Girl Blue
7. Constellation
8. Blue Red

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, August 17, 1956

Benny Golson - Benny Golson's New York Scene

One of several top sessions the tenor saxophonist cut for OJC in the latter part of the '50s, Benny Golson's New York Scene contains some of the most sophisticated material from the hard bop period. Blessed with a knack for making complex charts memorable, Golson came up writing and arranging for the likes of Tadd Dameron, Lionel Hampton, and Dizzy Gillespie. On his own here, Golson reveals a golden touch with such jazz classics as "Whisper Not" and "Step Lightly." This 1957 recording produced six more fine tracks, including a finely wrought version of Gigi Gryce's "Capri." Gryce, in fact, joins Golson here as part of large band for three cuts; the remaining numbers are handled by both a quartet and quintet that feature Art Farmer, Wynton Kelly, and Paul Chambers. Golson newcomers should definitely start here. ~ Stephen Cook

Benny Golson (tenor sax)
Gigi Gryce (alto sax)
Art Farmer (trumpet)
Sahib Shihab (baritone sax)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Julius Watkins (French horn)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Charlie Persip (drums)

1. Something in B Flat
2. Whisper Not
3. Step Lightly
4. Just by Myself
5. Blues It
6. You're Mine, You
7. Capri
8. B.G.'s Holiday

New York: October 14 and 17, 1957

Charles Mingus - Mingus Moves

More than a few listeners unfamiliar with this bassist / composer's earlier work concluded on the basis of his two "comeback" albums for Columbia that he was past his prime — but Mingus Moves satisfies from beginning to end. The quintet heard on this LP is Charles Mingus's best since the mid-Sixties. The music is pervaded by a gentle whimsy that's surprising coming from the man whose Pithecanthropus Erectus and Black Saint and the Sinner Lady contributed searing intensity to the jazz of the Fifties and Sixties, but there isn't a trace of the perfunctory solo work and tired arrangements that characterized too much of Mingus's music as recently as two years ago.

Saxophonist George Adams and pianist Don Pullen deserve much of the credit They are the most dedicated, original players to pass through Mingus's jazz workshop since Eric Dolphy and Jaki Byard. Both men are capable of moving into any area, and every one of their improvisations is a giddy, unpredictable trip through the contemporary vocabulary, touching bop, blues, and avant-garde bases in a naturally knowledgeable manner. Trumpeter Ronald Hampton, the most tentative player heard here, has since left the band, and Mingus wisely directed that Adams and Pullen pull most of the weight. Drummer Dannie Richmond, back in the fold after his Mark/Almond experience, is a plus. Mingus more or less taught him drums – he was originally a saxophonist – and he is the only really right drummer for the group.

Each of the compositions is a classic; the record has the feel of a ten-year-old favorite the first time through. The fragile loveliness of Sy Johnson's "Wee," which deserves special mention, unfolds into romping solos by Adams and Pullen and the returning line, which is in several sections, lingers on the lips. But you can, and will, sing every tune on the LP. Every note counts. And since Mingus has occasionally failed to edit himself sufficiently during the past few years, some of the credit for the album's perfection probably goes to producer Nesuhi Ertegun, who supervised Mingus's memorable early-Sixties Atlantic sessions.

Everybody involved seems to have lavished love and care on Mingus Moves, and there's a wholeness and accomplishment that can't be faked. Maybe the music isn't particularly "innovative" or "important" but it communicates, which is what jazz is all about. Rolling Stone

Charles Mingus (bass)
George Adams (tenor sax, flute)
Ronald Hampton (trumpet)
Don Pullen (piano)
Dannie Richmond (drums)
Honey Gordon (vocals)
Doug Hammond (vocals)

1. Canon
2. Opus 4
3. Moves
4. Wee
5. Flowers For a Lady
6. Newcomer
7. Opus 3

Recorded at Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, New York on October 29-31, 1973

Art Farmer - To Duke With Love

Recorded less than a year after Duke Ellington's death, this Inner City LP (originally cut for the Japanese East Wind label) features flugelhornist Art Farmer performing five Ellington pieces along with Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life." With impeccable support by pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Billy Higgins, Farmer sounds melodic, lyrical, swinging and typically inventive on such numbers as "In a Sentimental Mood," "It Don't Mean a Thing," "The Brown Skin Gal" and "Love You Madly." This tasteful set (which is long out-of-print) features Art Farmer at his best. ~ Scott Yanow

Test of Time Records is proud to bring you a unique tribute to the great Duke Ellington by none other than Art Farmer. The album was recorded in March of 1975, almost a year after Ellington passed away. It was actually the very first album that Art Farmer recorded for East Wind and the start of a recording partnership with the tight rhythm section made up of pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Billy Higgins. The album contains Ellington favorites such as “In A Sentimental Mood”, “Love You Madly” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” arranged by Art Farmer himself. It also includes “Star-Crossed Lovers” (about Romeo and Juliet) that was part of the collection of songs about characters developed by William Shakespeare called Such Sweet Thunder. A rarely performed song called “The Brown Skin Gal in the Calico Gown” gets an Art Farmer flugelhorn touch. This memorable homage to the Duke is definitely timeless.

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Cedar Walton (piano)
Sam Jones (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)

1. In A Sentimental Mood
2. It Don't Mean A Thing
3. The Star Crossed Lovers
4. The Brown Skin Gal In The Calico Gown
5. Lush Life
6. Love You Madly

Adam Makowicz - At Maybeck

I love the Maybeck Recital Hall Series that Concord Records put out in the 1980's and 90's. I believe over 40 volumes were eventually issued, featuring some of the finest pianists the jazz world had to offer. I have a number of these but would like to request the other denizens of CIA to please contribute any of the Maybecks they may have. Thanks in advance. Scoredaddy

Some jazz pianists sound best in trios, with their shortcomings appearing during solo recitals, like the series recorded at Maybeck Recital Hall. Such was definitely not the case for Adam Makowicz, who has always been very much a two-handed pianist with phenomenal technique. As if to show what he has, he begins this CD with his own complex original, "Tatum on My Mind." After that, he digs into ten well-worn Cole Porter songs that Tatum and others had recorded through the years, coming up with interesting reinterpretations of such tunes as "Get Out of Town," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You Do Something to Me," "Begin the Beguine," and "Just One of Those Things." Although Makowicz has recorded sessions that contained more variety, his total command of the piano is particularly well displayed throughout this memorable set. Scott Yanow

Adam Makowicz (piano)

1 Tatum on My Mind (Makowicz ) 3:42
2 Get Out of Town 5:19
3 Easy to Love 6:51
4 I Get a Kick Out of You 5:43
5 You Do Something to Me 4:20
6 I Concentrate on You 7:29
7 You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To 4:39
8 Night and Day 6:53
9 Begin the Beguine 5:22
10 Love for Sale 6:05
11 Just One of Those Things 5:28

All compositions by Cole Porter except as noted

Recorded at Maybeck Recital Hall, Berkeley, CA on July 19, 1992

Johnny Pacheco - El Maestro

Whether for nostalgia for my couple of years living in New York's East Village in the late 60s, or visits to Miama in the 70s, once in awhile I just gotta have some SALSA! Here's a classic from 1975, the booklet is ultra-sparse and doesn't even list the musicians, but we have Papo Lucca on piano.

"Johnny Pacheco learned to play sax, percussion and flute in high school. In September 1959, he left Charlie Palmieri's flute and strings orchestra to organize his own. With his first recording, 'Pacheco y su Charanga', released by Alegre Records in 1961, Pacheco changed the sound of music throughout Latin America and ushered in the "Pachanga" (a strenous dance) era which faded out in 1964. Pacheco and attorney Gerald Masucci founded the Fania label in 1964 and with its first album, LP #325 (Pacheco's birthdate) kicked off the yet unborn salsa era in New York City." —Max Salazar

Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron - 1992 I Remember Thelonious. Live at Jazz In'it

The disc was recorded live at the Jazz in'It Festival, Vignola (Italy), in a show that combined the music of Thelonious Monk, played by Lacy and Waldron, with a ballet performance by the american dancer Teri Weikel. 8 pieces composed by Monk plus a bonus with a song by Bud Powell.

Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron have recorded several times as a duo; this live set from the 1992 Jazz in'It Festival in Verona, Italy, features a program devoted almost exclusively to the works of Thelonious Monk. Although the soprano saxophonist and the pianist work very well together and the audience is respectfully silent during each piece, Waldron is stuck playing a rather inferior instrument that sounds particularly out of tune on the lower end of the keyboard, much like the lousy piano which he was stuck with during his famous 1961 concert at the Five Spot in New York City. Fortunately, Waldron makes the best of the situation and provides superb accompaniment for Lacy's adventurous flights as well as offering his trademarked dark but fascinating solos. Several of the pieces segue directly from one to the next without a break, but the duo isn't playing abbreviated medleys but complete versions of each song. Highlights include a sauntering "Reflections," a dramatic "'Round Midnight" which is made even more eerie by the piano's strange sound, and a surprise encore of Bud Powell's "I'll Keep Loving You." This is a fascinating if not quite essential CD by Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron.
Ken Dryden, All Music Guide

01 Monk's Dream ... Thelonious Monk (06:23)
02 Reflections ... Thelonious Monk (07:13)
03 Epistrophy ... Kenny Clarke, Thelonious Monk (06:15)
04 Mysterioso ... Thelonious Monk (07:08)
05 Let's Call This ... Thelonious Monk (06:35)
06 Round Midnight ... Cootie Williams, Thelonious Monk, Bernie Hanighen (09:19)
07 Evidence ... Thelonious Monk (04:50)
08 Well You Needn't ... Thelonious Monk (03:09)
09 I'll Keep Loving You ... Bud Powell (09:10)

Steve Lacy (soprano saxophone)
Mal Waldron (piano)

Recorded at the Jazz in'It Festival, Vignola, Italy on June 28, 1992.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Art Pepper - Straight Life

Altoist Art Pepper recorded many albums for the Galaxy label during 1979-1982, all of which have been reissued in a massive 16-CD "complete" box set. This single CD is pretty definitive and serves as a perfect introduction to Pepper's second (and most rewarding) period. Not only is there a superior version of Pepper's famous title cut but very emotional (and explorative) renditions of "September Song" and "Nature Boy." Filling out this quartet set (which also features pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Red Mitchell, and drummer Billy Higgins) are "Surf Ride," "Make a List," and "Long Ago and Far Away." Brilliant music. ~ Scott Yanow

As Art Pepper readied himself to die--or further pushed himself toward the brink of death--he seemed determined to say everything possible, quickly and forthrightly. In doing so, he created an explosive ream of albums for the Galaxy Records label, most of them featuring Pepper with only the slender backing of a piano-bass-drums setup. He was all over the sessions, picking ripe old tunes and letting fly on them, spinning his silken lines into adventurous nuggets that curbed and then redirected his playing. On Straight Life and on several of the Galaxy sessions (collected in their blessed entirety on the 16-CD The Complete Galaxy Recordings), he has the rhythmic backing of Billy Higgins on drums. Like Pepper, Higgins can whisper his parts and then shout them out with clapping power. These are all tunes Pepper fans will know but they're tremendously fresh, as is their interpreter--who would die less than three years later. ~ Andrew Bartlett

Art Pepper (alto sax)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Red Mitchell (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)
Kenneth Nash (cowbell)

1. Surf Ride
2. Nature Boy
3. Straight Life
4. September Song
5. Make A List (Make A Wish)
6. Long Ago And Far Away

Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California, September 21, 1979

Woody Shaw - In My Own Sweet Way

Although trumpeter Woody Shaw never really broke through to gain the recognition he deserved, he also never recorded an unworthy album. This late-period set for the German In & Out label (recorded only two years before his death) features Shaw with the Austrian drummer Alex Deutsch and a couple of talented Canadians: pianist Fred Henke and bassist Neil Swainson. They perform three standards (including Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "Estate"), plus a pair of group originals and Theresa Trainello's "Just A Ballad For Woody." Excellent advanced hard bop. ~ Scott Yanow

Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Fred Henke (piano)
Neil Swainson (bass)
Alex Deutsch (drums)

1. The Organ Grinder
2. In Your Own Sweet Way
3. The Dragon
4. Just A Ballad For Woody
5. Sippin' At Bells
6. Estate
7. Joshua C.

Recorded live on February 7-8, 1987 at Zurich and Bern

Jabbo Smith - 1929-1938 (Chronological 669)

Perhaps the most electrifying and influential trumpet player that you've never heard of, Jabbo Smith was cited by some early critics as the equal of Pops and an influence on Dizzy Gillespie. And the creators of be-bop were well aware and appreciative of the musicians that preceded them. In 1949, while immersed in the creation of Bop, Diz appeared at a benefit for Bud Scott (the man who caused Jelly Roll Morton to abandon guitar). And can "Relaxin' At Camarillo" possibly have been titled without a nod to Muggsy Spanier's "Relaxin' At The Touro"? This is the Chronological I've been looking for for a LONG time, and it cost me an embarassing amount. And I would have payed more if I had to. Check out Chip Deffaa's appreciation of Jabbo - you'll be enthused too.

"The sound is still in my ears, you know, the way he sounded on trumpet" said master bassist Milt Hinton of Jabbo Smith, "I always considered him one of the greatest trumpet players I ever heard in my life."

Irrepressibly hot music, vintage Brunswick jazz, most of it dating from 1929, that year so filled with raucous creativity. Brace yourself for the grand interplay between Jabbo Smith's cornet and New Orleans clarinetist Omer Simeon. Banjo Ikey Robinson adds an entire dimension of his own, while pianist Cass Simpson solos with great dignity. Poor Cass ended up in a mental institution just a few years later following his sudden attempt to murder Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon. Here, under apparently more harmonious circumstances, Simpson creates the best solos he would ever put on to records. Hayes Alvis does wonderful things with his tuba, firmly nudging the band along through the "Little Willie Blues," "Sleepy Time Blues" and a succession of similarly solid numbers. Jabbo's band cooked a bit like Louis Armstrong's (whose didn't?) but also with some of its own mischief that sounded like nobody else's business. Comparisons could also be drawn with Henry "Red" Allen, both as horn player and vocalist. As 1929 progressed, Simpson shuffled off to meet with destiny and was replaced by Earl Frazier. Omer Simeon gradually augmented himself with alto and tenor saxophones, while Jabbo crossed over at times to the trombone. George James briefly filled in for Omer Simeon on June 9 then disappeared forever. Millard Robbins made noises in a deep clef using the bass saxophone, a seemingly strange choice in an ensemble anchored by tuba. Then, speaking of tubas, on August 8, Hayes Alvis was thrown from the saddle by Lawson Buford, who handled the big horn thereafter. Unfortunately, Jabbo Smith's Rhythm Aces made only a few more sides in 1929. The chronology, in fact, leaps to February 1938, when Jabbo led an eight-piece orchestra in devising four sides for the Decca label. "Rhythm in Spain" is a swinging thing, peculiarly arranged with periodic machine gun snare drum intrusions and hot solos that fit into the '30s small-group bag. The other three titles from this session are pumped full of sentimentality, with Putney Dandridge-styled vocals by an older and already more weathered Jabbo. "More Rain, More Rest" is the hottest of these. The ensemble is nicely bolstered by the presence of several saxophonists, who sound smooth in unison and tough as soloists. But how different it all feels from those Rhythm Aces' sides of 1929! There's no going back, except to listen. ~ arwulf arwulf

Jabbo Smith (cornet, vocal)
Omer Simeon (clarinet)
Cass Simpson (piano)
Ikey Robinson (banjo)

1. Jazz Battle
2. Little Willie Blues
3. Sleepy Time Blues
4. Take Your Time
5. Sweet And Low Blues
6. Take Me To The River
7. Ace Of Rhythm
8. Let's Get Together
9. Sau-Sha Stomp
10. Michigander Blues
11. Decatur Street Tutti
12. Till Times Get Better
13. Lina Blues
14. Weird And Blue
15. Croonin' The Blues
16. I Got The Stinger
17. Boston Skuffle
18. Tanguay Blues
19. Band Box Stomp
20. Moanful Blues
21. Rhythm In Spain
22. Absolutely
23. More Rain, More Rest
24. How Can Cupid Be So Stupid?

Gene Sedric - 1938-1947 (Chronological 1181)

The first jazz sax solos ever heard in Europe were played by Gene Sedric.

Most people who are hip to Eugene "Honeybear" Sedric know him as the man who was Fats Waller's chosen handler of clarinet and tenor saxophone, usually paired with trumpeter Herman Autrey as the front line of the little "Rhythm" band, between the years 1934 and 1943. To be able to savor an entire CD containing virtually everything that Sedric recorded as a leader is a musical treat beyond belief. Any true Waller devotee would jump on this without hesitation. The first four tracks, recorded in November 1938, feature Waller's touring band, heard here with Hank Duncan at the piano and featuring spunky vocalist Myra Johnson, who livened up several of Waller's three-minute movies, including "The Joint Is Jumpin'." Sedric's version is fun enough, but Waller fans will get extra kicks from "Off Time," as it's rare to hear anybody singing this delightful tune, one of many great songs that the pianist composed but didn't live long enough to record for posterity. Also included in that category would be "Choo-Choo," co-written by Waller, Sedric, and Andy Razaf. It is a tight shuffle dolled up with toots from a small train whistle by Slick Jones, Waller's trusty percussionist and sound effects man. Gene sings pleasantly, seeming not at all ashamed to voice what others might have felt were foolish lyrics. "The Wail of the Scromph," a slow and easy blues by Sedric, opens with clarinet. Autrey is warm as always, Al Casey dexterous and cool. Now here's the curious part of the package: in August of 1946 Sedric's band accompanied vocalist Ruby Smith, who based her career on the fact that she was Bessie Smith's husband's niece. Sounding tough and somewhat brittle on "Chicago Woman Blues," Ruby's presence with Sedric seems surprising at first. "Baby, Baby, Baby Blues" is more subtle as Sedric talks back at her in the same way that Fats usually enjoyed cajoling his guest vocalists, particularly Una Mae Carlisle. Ruby in fact sounds more than a little like Una Mae on the moody "Sedric's Blues." Four more sides were cut on that same day without Ruby, giving this excellent band a chance to strut its stuff. "Forget It" and "Bootin' and Swingin'" are solid extensions of Fats Waller's early-1940 instrumental jam style. Eight sides recorded in New York for the Swing and Keynote labels represent Sedric's band at the apex of its creative success. Each instrumental track is outstanding, while the carefully rehearsed theatrically hip group vocals are dazzling in their complex fluidity. Sedric's last stand as a leader occurred in January of 1947, when his band once again found itself supporting Ruby Smith. Who wrote these tunes, and why? Never mind. It doesn't matter. What's important is that Al Casey seized upon the opportunity to play electrically amplified guitar behind the vocal on "You Satisfy," and "Hot Sauce Susie" enabled Sedric to yell about chops and corn bread, drawing once again upon the training he received throughout nine years of dedicated service as Thomas "Fats" Waller's right-hand man. ~ arwulf arwulf

Gene Sedric (tenor sax)
Herman Autrey (trumpet)
Myra Johnson (vocals)
Freddie Lee Jefferson (piano)
Wilmore Slick Jones (drums)

1. The Joint Is Jumpin'
2. Off Time
3. Choo-Choo
4. The Wail Of The Scromph
5. Chicago Woman Blues (Part 1)
6. Chicago Woman Blues (Part 2)
7. Baby, Baby, Baby Blues
8. Sedric's Blues
9. Forget It
10. Lonely Moments
11. Bootin' And Swinging
12. Music To My Sorrow
13. Honeysuckle Rose
14. These Foolish Things
15. The Session Jumped
16. Clarinet Blues
17. Teasin'
18. T-I-L-L-I-E
19. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
20. I Got Rhythm
21. You Satisfy
22. Hot Sauce Susie
23. I'm Scared Of That Woman
24. Port Wine Blues

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hampton Hawes - The Seance

Hampton Hawes made many of his finest records for Lester Koenig's Contemporary label. His final sessions before choosing to freelance (he would rejoin Koenig during his last year) resulted in two live albums, both reissued on CD. Teamed up with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Donald Bailey, Hawes displays the influence of the avant-garde in places, stretching out his improvisations a bit while still showing off his roots in bop. Both CDs are equal in value, and this particular set includes such highlights as "Oleo," "Easy Street" and "My Romance." ~ Scott Yanow

Hampton Hawes (piano)
Red Mitchell (bass)
Donald Bailey (drums)

1. The Seance
2. Oleo
3. Easy Street
4. Suddenly I Thought Of You
5. For Heaven's Sake
6. My Romance

Los Angeles: April 30 and May 1, 1966

Cal Tjader - Tjader Plays Tjazz

In a change of pace, for this recording vibraphonist Cal Tjader recorded cool-toned bop without a Latin rhythm section. Half of the ten songs (mostly jazz standards) feature Tjader switching to drums (his original instrument) in a quartet also including the obscure trombonist Bob Collins, guitarist Eddie Duran and bassist Al McKibbon. Tjader is back on vibes for the quintet selections with tenor saxophonist Brew Moore, pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Bobby White. He sounds right at home in both formats and the swinging quintet numbers in particular are a good reason to search for this valuable album. ~ Scott Yanow

Cal Tjader (vibes, drums)
Bob Collins (trombone)
Eddie Duran (guitar)
Al McKibbon (bass)
San Francisco, December 4, 1954

Cal Tjader (vibes)
Brew Moore (tenor sax)
Sonny Clark (piano)
Gene Wright (bass)
Bobby White (drums)
"Little Theater", Berkeley, June 6, 1955

1. Moten Swing
2. I've Never Been In Love Before
3. There Will Never Be Another You
4. How About You
5. Jeepers Creepers
6. A Minor Goof
7. My One And Only Love
8. Imagination
9. I'll Know
10. Brew's Blues

Woody Shaw - Little Red's Fantasy

One of the 32Jazz re-issues of the Shaw Muse catalog; the same band (minus Strozier) and a couple of the same tunes were used 7 months later to support Dexter Gordon on his Homecoming album.

The late Woody Shaw was one of the best jazz trumpet players from the late '60s to the early '80s. Perhaps he wasn't better known because he had one foot planted in the hard-bop tradition (he played with Art Blakey, Max Roach and Horace Silver) and one in the avant-garde (he also played with Eric Dolphy, Anthony Braxton and Andrew Hill). Shaw played in a bright, brash and melodic style, similar to Freddie Hubbard yet more adventurous.

Little Red's Fantasy is a gem of a session from 1976, reissued in 1999. It features Shaw in peak form, as well as two undeservedly lesser-known players: Eddie Moore (drums) and Frank Strozier (alto saxophone). Strozier's wailing, tart alto recalls Jackie McLean at his '60s peak; Moore is crisp, self-effacing and propulsive; and pianist Ronnie Mathews matches Shaw's sparkling, song-like lyricism. The tracks are on average eight minutes in length, enough time for each player to say what he wants. Little Red's Fantasy is a modern jazz classic, for Shaw fans and jazz newcomers alike.

Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Frank Strozier (alto sax)
Ronnie Mathews (piano)
Stafford James (bass)
Eddie Moore (drums)

1. Jean Marie
2. Sashianova
3. In Case You Haven't Heard
4. Little Red's Fantasy
5. Tomorrow's Destiny

Recorded at Blue Rock Studio, New York, New York on June 29, 1976

Mal Waldron - Mal 1

At the age of 30, Waldron made this first leader date just after his appearances - in the same year - on Pithecanthropus Erectus, Jackie McLean's 4, 5,and 6. A month later he was recording All Night Long. Note also that this is not the OJC release, but a Japanese 1st pressing (don''t ask, I don't know) which is, presumably, in GalactoPhonic Stereo with SenseiAround Sound.

Mal Waldron's recording debut as a leader presents the pianist with his many gifts already well developed. For the 1956 quartet date, he takes charge to strike a balance between the sound of a blowing session and the refinement of a more polished date. The spontaneity is there, but the set also benefits from Waldron's thoughtful charts. At this stage of his development, Waldron was a distinctive bop pianist whose occasional sputtering, knotty phrasing revealed the acknowledged influence of Thelonious Monk, as well as similarities with contemporaries Al Haig and Bud Powell. For this set, though, the focus is not on Waldron's playing, but on his ability to lead from the piano bench. The horn players -- top-flight boppers Idrees Sulieman on trumpet and Gigi Gryce on alto sax -- contribute hot solos played with class and authority, and disciplined ensemble work supports the overall structure of Waldron's charts. Some of the arrangements seem written with a larger ensemble in mind, but they also work in the quartet setting, with Waldron's effective use of staggered horn entries, dynamics, interesting harmonies, and occasional countermelodies adding color and variety to the performances. The tracks comprise a bright, focused performance of Benny Golson's "Stablemates," a sparse, bluesy take of the standard "Yesterdays," a pair of good Waldron originals and one from Sulieman, along with Lee Sears' "Transfiguration." Bassist Julian Euell and drummer Arthur Edgehill supply a strong and reliable bop pulse. ~ Jim Todd

Mal Waldron (piano)
Gigi Gryce (alto sax)
Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
Julian Euell (bass)
Arthur Edgehill (drums)

1. Stablemates
2. Yesterdays
3. Transfiguration
4. Bud Study
5. Dee's Dilemma
6. Shome

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, November 9, 1956

Mal Waldron - Plays Eric Satie

Waldron's recorded interest in Eric Satie dates back at least 10 or 11 years before this recording. He did a dedicatory piece entitled "For Eric Satie" on his On Steinway album, which was, interestingly, for the same Japanese label; Teichiku. Here he performs a set of lesser played Satie works, with the Three Gymnopedies probably being the best known. I have to admit that although I have most or all of these in different versions, I don't listen to them a tenth as much as I do to the Gnossiennes and Gymnopedies.

So, the Gymnopedie track was my point of entry into this album, and it is all that you could hope for. By which I mean that it allowed me to appreciate the performance, yet still opened up some questions for me that will require future listenings. You really can't ask for better than that.

The presence of bass and drums might lead you to expect a Jacques Loussier-style "jazz interpretations" type of record; but Waldron uses them as punctuation and coloring. Nowhere do they intrude in an inappropriate way - at least, not that I've noticed on an initial listening. Workman, in particular, does some nice stuff with a bowed bass. I should mention that Waldron uses a grave and stately tempo, which might be unfamiliar. But for those of us who regard the De Leeuw versions as definitive it will be a reassuring thing.

So, a work that satisfies on first hearing and that promises to be a lifelong friend. Fits my definition of both Waldron and Satie.

Mal Waldron (piano)
Reggie Workman (bass)
Ed Blackwell (drums)

1. Desespoir Agreable
2. Harmonies
3. Première Pensée Rose + Croix
4. Essais
5. Le Vilain Petit Vaurien
6. Three Gymnopedies, No. 1

Tokyo, Japan, December 8, 1983

Gerry Mulligan - The Best Of The Gerry Mulligan Quartet With Chet Baker

For many people, the 1952-1957 incarnation of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet that featured trumpeter Chet Baker alongside Mulligan's baritone sax is the group that defines not only Mulligan's career, but almost the entirety of West Coast "cool" jazz (barring, perhaps, the equally seismic partnership of Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond). The 1991 anthology The Best Of The Gerry Mulligan Quartet With Chet Baker is an admirably concise 15-track distillation of the five-year partnership between the two. Although Mulligan would go on to a varied (and rarely less than fascinating) career that lasted for decades, many fans of the mercurial Baker agree that the trumpeter never played better than he did with Mulligan on classic sides like "Soft Shoe." The set also includes versions of "Jeru" and "Darn That Dream," songs better associated with Mulligan's earlier work with Miles Davis on the Birth Of The Cool sessions, and a live instrumental version of "My Funny Valentine," which would later go on to become Baker's signature vocal tune.

Chet Baker (trumpet)
Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax)
Bob Whitlock (bass)
Chico Hamilton (drums)
Phil Turetsky's House, Los Angeles, August 16, 1952

Chet Baker (trumpet)
Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax)
Carson Smith (bass)
Larry Bunker (drums)
Gold Star Studios, Los Angeles, February 24, 1953

Chet Baker (trumpet)
Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax)
Henry Grimes (bass)
Dave Bailey (drums)
NYC, December 3, 1957

1. Bernie's Tune
2. Nights at the Turntable
3. Freeway
4. Soft Shoe
5. Walkin' Shoes
6. Makin' Whoopee
7. Carson City Stage
8. My Old Flame
9. Love Me or Leave Me
10. Swing House
11. Jeru
12. Darn That Dream
13. I'm Beginning to See the Light
14. My Funny Valentine
15. Festive Minor

Friday, May 9, 2008

Passarim - Antonio Carlos Jobim (1987)

Is this post-Bossa Nova record of 1987 Tom Jobim is still in great shape. Aware of his limited voice, he brought a chorus to share his singing, with very nice results. Although the title song should appear as a lament about the rain forest, as Ginelli says in his comment, it was truly made as a theme for a TV miniserie, about a saga of a family during conflagration years in Rio Grande do Sul, our southernest state. No rain forest there. But Jobim was truly concerned about nature preservation and many musics of this phase are about it. It appears that the international edition of this record has an English version of Passarim, which doesn't appear in the Brazilian.
Besides Passarim, which is a great song, other highlights are Anos Dourados, which was the most successful song of this record in Brasil, Luiza and Gabriela, but the whole record is really good.

Review by Richard S. Ginell
Passarim is Jobim's major statement of the '80s, emerging during a time when Jobim's concerns were turning increasingly toward Planet Earth issues. The title song is one of Jobim's most haunting creations, a cry of pain about the the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest that resonates in the memory for hours. Also, by this time Jobim had resumed touring with a large group containing friends and family, and they carry a great deal of the load here, with lots of airy female backup vocals, two worthy songs by Jobim's multi-talented son Paulo and another by flutist/singer Danilo Caymmi. Recorded entirely in Rio, the record's overall sound is very different from Jobim's '60s and '70s work — denser, hazier, still grounded in the samba yet rougher in texture (as is Jobim's voice). Though not as immediately winning as the Creed Taylor-produced albums, this music repays repeated listening — particularly the extended suite from Jobim's score for the film Gabriela — and there are samples of Jobim's wry humor in "Chansong" and the bossa nova reworking of "Fascinatin' Rhythm"

1- Passarim (Jobim)
2- Bebel (Jobim)
3- Borzeguim (Jobim)
4- Anos Dourados (Jobim-Buarque) (with Chico Buarque)
5- Isabella (Paulo Jobim-Goldstein)
6- Fascinatin' Rhythm (G & I Gershwin)
7- Chansing (Jobim)
8- Samba do Soho (Paulo Jobim-R. Bastos)
9- Luiza (Jobim)
10- Brasil nativo (Danilo Caymmi-P C Pinheiro)
11- Gabriela (Jobim)

Tom Jobim - Piano and vocals
Paulo Jobim - Guitar and vocals
Danilo Caymmi - Flute and vocals
Jaques Morelenbaum - Cello
Sebastião Neto -Bass
Paulo Braga - Drums

Ana Lontra Jobim
Elizabeth Jobim
Maucha Adnet
Paula Morelenbaum
Simone Caymmi

Judy Holliday and Gerry Mulligan - Holliday With Mulligan

Yes, this is not the usual thing I'd post - or listen to, for that matter - but I was intrigued by the presence of Judy Holliday, who was one of the finest comedic actors I can think of. It was cheap, so I picked it up. Further research reveals that she was romantically involved with old Jeru - which isn't surprising, really; if you look real close at her in film and photo it will gradually dawn upon you that she was a knockout to gaze 'pon. And very sharp, despite the dimwit parts she played. Dimwits whose horsesense always saved the day. What does my pal, the poet Robert Pinsky say?: "Even his girlfriend of those days, the actress Judy Holiday, brought intelligence to beauty, a working-class New York voice to glamour, wit to sex, a crossing of lines that in my mind resembled the comradeship and eclecticism of jazz itself, its unlikely partnerships and meldings, its lordly wit and earthy brewings."

Yeah, I know, the boy runs a bit purple - we stopped telling him when poker night is - but he gets it pretty right.

Judy Holliday (vocal)
Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax)
Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone)
Al Klink (tenor sax, flute)
Bill Crow (bass)
Mel Lewis (drums)
Bob Brookmeyer, Ralph Burns, Al Cohn, Bill Finnegan (arr)

1. What's The Rush
2. Loving You
3. Lazy
4. It Must Be Christmas
5. The Party's Over
6. It's Bad For Me
7. Suppertime
8. Pass The Peace Pipe
9. I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues
10. Summer's Over
11. Blue Prelude

NYC, April 10, 1961

Friday Fusion

Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Lost Trident Sessions

Recorded in London on June 25, 1973, these sessions for a planned third Mahavishnu Orchestra album were shelved when the band decided to put out the live Between Nothingness and Eternity instead. Bootlegged in the past, two-track mixes of the missing album were discovered in the vaults in the late 1990s, paving the way for its official release in 1999. It's thus the last of the three studio albums done by the original Mahavishnu lineup (with Cobham on drums, Goodman on violin, Hammer on keyboards and Laird on bass). Although McLaughlin had been the only composer on the first two Mahavishnu albums, he penned only three of the six tracks here, with Hammer writing two and Laird pitching in one. It's fiery, if perhaps over-busy at times, fusion, McLaughlin reaching his most feverish pitches in the frenetic concluding passage of the ten-minute "Trilogy." The numbers written by other members than McLaughlin tend to be a little more subdued, and perhaps unsurprisingly less inclined toward burning guitar solos. - Richie Unterberger

John McLaughlin (guitars)
Jerry Goodman (violin, viola)
Jan Hammer (keyboards)
Rick Laird (bass)
Billy Cobham (drums)
  1. Dream
  2. Trilogy: The Sunlit Path/La Mere De La Mer/Tomorrow's Story Not the Same
  3. Sister Andrea
  4. I Wonder
  5. Steppings Tones
  6. John's Song

Sonny Rollins - Rollins Plays For Bird

Saxophone Colossus was recorded a few months earlier, and 4 days after this Newk appeared on Brilliant Corners. Prime Rollins; I hear this guy Dorham ain't bad either.

Sonny Rollins, heard in his early prime, performs "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face," "Kids Know," and a seven-song "Bird Medley" on this CD reissue of a 1956 Prestige LP. Actually, Rollins is only on four of the tunes in the medley and not all of the songs have a close connection with Charlie Parker. Featured in a quintet with trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Wade Legge, bassist George Morrow and drummer Max Roach, Rollins is in fine form although the hard bop music falls slightly short of being essential. ~ Scott Yanow

Sonny Rollins (tenor sax)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Wade Legge (piano)
George Morrow (bass)
Max Roach (drums)

1. Bird Medley:
I Remember You
My Melancholy Baby
Old Folks
They Can't Take That Away From Me
Just Friends
My Little Suede Shoes
Star Eyes

2. Kids Know
3. I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, October 5, 1956

Roland Kirk - Rahsaan - The Complete Mercury Recordings

I heard rumors that this was previously available, but apparently no trace of it remains, so I will take this opportunity to present it once again for all those who missed it or haven't yet passed a most enjoyable ten + hours listening to this most original music. Here it is in LAME vbr0 mp3 so it is relatively easy to downhload for those with (like me) VADSL connections (VERY assymmetric DSL). Complete booklet scans in a separate file.

Cal Tjader - Amazonas

Note: Dawilli Gonga might be familiar to you as George Duke.

Cal Tjader's Brazilian explorations continue and actually deepen with this release, as he joins forces with a host of progressive young Brazilian musicians, all overseen by producer Airto Moreira. By now, Tjader had figured out how to fit into the blend, doing so by losing himself in the complex mix of Afro-Brazilian rhythms, American funk and 1970s-era electronics, integrating his own identity for the sake of the ensemble. Indeed, Tjader actually appears on marimba on tracks like Joao Donato's "Amazonas" and his collaboration with Hermeto Pascoal, "Mindoro," his playing taking on a more brittle edge as a result. Tjader's Southern Hemisphere cohorts include such emerging luminaries as keyboardist Egberto Gismonti, percussionist Robertinho Silva, the sometimes wild flutist Hermeto Pascoal and on one track, the superb trombonist Raul de Souza. The intricate arrangements are in the hands of George Duke, and so are the funky, occasionally spaced-out keyboard sounds (albeit under the contractually dictated pseudonym "Dawilli Gonga"). CD buyers get a welcome bonus, an extended, impassioned outtake of "Cahuenga." ~ Richard S. Ginell

Cal Tjader (vibraphone, marimba)
Egberto Gismonti (piano, synthesizer)
Raul De Souza (trombone)
Hermeto Pascoal (flute)
Aloisio Milanez (piano)
Dawilli Gonga (keyboards)
David Amaro (acoustic & electric guitars)
Luiz Alves (bass)
Robertinho Silva (drums, percussion)

1. Amazonas
2. Xibaba
3. Mindoro
4. Flying
5. Corine
6. Noa Noa
7. Tamanco No Samba
8. Cahuenga
9. Cahuenga (long version)

Recorded at Wally Heider's Recording Studio, Los Angeles, California in June 1975

Bill Holman/Mel Lewis Quintet - Jive for Five

I got this not very long ago, but I'd like to acknowledge that fslmy posted this quite some time ago. The links are inactive, so I hope this ain't stepping on his toes.

For a brief time, tenor saxophonist Bill Holman and drummer Mel Lewis led a hard-swinging quintet based in Los Angeles. Trumpeter Lee Katzman, pianist Jimmy Rowles and bassist Wilford Middlebrook complete the group, a band that benefits greatly from the arrangements of Holman. Rowles contributed "502 Blues Theme," Holman brought in two songs, and the unit also performs the obscure "Mah Lindy Lou" and two originals. This album (originally on the Andex label) serves as proof that not all jazz recordings from Los Angeles in the 1950s are quiet and cool. ~ Scott Yanow

Bill Holman (tenor sax)
Mel Lewis (drums)
Lee Katzman (trumpet)
Jimmy Rowles (piano)
Wilford Middlebrook (bass)

1. Out of this World
2. Mah Lindy Lou
3. Liza
4. The Beat Generation
5. 502 Blues Theme
6. Jive for Five

Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California; June 6, 1958

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fred Anderson And Hamid Drake - From The River To The Ocean

Fred Anderson is amazing. Approaching 80 years old, he's been releasing about an album a year for more than a decade, all of consistently high quality. That's in addition to running his club, the Velvet Lounge in Chicago, which had to relocate in 2006. Fortunately for listeners, he's showing no signs of slowing down. From the River to the Ocean continues his musical partnership with Hamid Drake, this time with help from bass players Harrison Bankhead (part of Anderson's regular trio with Drake) and Josh Abrams and guitarist Jeff Parker, all of whom had recorded with Anderson before. With Abrams doubling on guimbri on a couple tracks and Bankhead playing cello or piano on two other tracks, the album displays more variety than the lineup might indicate initially. "Planet E" kicks things off with a nice Parker solo once the band finds the groove after the intro. The rhythm section sounds amazing, with the basses panned wide and Drake's light but propulsive drumming. Anderson enters after Parker's solo with his big tone and searching, melodic lines while Drake kicks things up a bit to spur him on. The fantastic "Strut Time" has Bankhead switching to cello and starts with a killer solo from Fred. This one's also got nice dual soloing between Bankhead's cello and Anderson's sax, then cello with Parker's guitar. "For Brother Thompson" is an elegy to the late trumpeter Malachi Thompson that inhabits a place akin to Coltrane's A Love Supreme after Drake's chanted intro. "From the River to the Ocean" has Bankhead back on bass with Abrams moving to guimbri, a fantastic sonic pairing. Parker contributes another great solo before making way for an excellent arco bass solo from Bankhead and another fine statement from Anderson. Parker really adds a lot to the sound on this album without being overly conspicuous while doing it. Of course, Fred and Hamid really make this album work. Drake is certainly one of the finest drummer/percussionists on the planet and, despite his relative lack of renown outside Chicago, Anderson is one of the absolute greatest inside/outside tenor players there is, always moving forward but never losing sight of melody. They just never seem to run out of ideas, constantly pushing the music and finding new avenues to take. They might be known as avant-garde players, but this album is totally approachable and extremely soulful. From the River to the Ocean is not only among Anderson's finest albums to date, it has to be among the top jazz albums of 2007. Sean Westergaard

Fred Anderson (sax)
Hamid Drake (drums)
Jeff Parker (guitar)
Josh Abrams, Harrison Bankhead (bass)

1 - Planet E
2 - Strut Time
3 - For Brother Thompson
4 - From The River To The Ocean
5 - Sakti,Shiva

Jaki Byard - Blues For Smoke

The spirit of Jelly Roll often appears in the most modern of players, and rightly so.
Prepare to be Tinged.

" Pianist Jaki Byard's first recording as a leader was not released domestically until this 1988 CD. That fact seems strange for Byard is absolutely brilliant on the solo piano set. Many of his selections (all nine tunes are his originals) look both backwards to pre-bop styles and ahead to the avant-garde including such numbers as "Pete and Thomas (Tribute to the Ticklers)," "Spanish Tinge No. 1," and "One, Two, Five." The most remarkable selection is "Jaki's Blues Next" which has Byard alternating between James P. Johnson-type stride and free form à la Cecil Taylor; at its conclusion he plays both styles at the same time. A highly recommended outing from a very underrated pianist." Scott Yanow

1. Excerpts From European Episode: A. Journey/Hollis Stomp...
2. Aluminum Baby
3. Pete And Thomas (Tribute To The Ticklers)
4. Spanish Tinge No. 1
5. Flight Of The Fly
6. Blues For Smoke
7. Jaki's Blues Next
8. Diane's Melody
9. One Two Five

Steve Lacy - N.Y. Capers & Quirks

I really dig this cover picture. Taken on the Brooklyn Bridge just entering the Manhattan side. The WTC in the background, City Hall over to the right, The Woolworth Building - aptly named the Mozart of skyscrapers - in center background, and the older style cast-iron streetlamp in the foreground. Beauty.

Some of Steve Lacy's best work comes from his trios. Somehow, he seems most free and confident in this format, curiously more so than in his rare duo or more popular solo outings. Of course, in this instance, it does not hurt for Lacy to be paired with drummer Dennis Charles and bassist Ronnie Boykins, each of whom seems perfectly attuned to the saxophonist's approach. Charles and Lacy go back to the 1950s together, when they played with Cecil Taylor and Gil Evans together. For this recording, Lacy is highly focused, his improvisations taking on a more syncopated and aggressive flavor than usual. Charles and Boykins kick hard, and the results are exemplary. The unusual choice of tunes (all composed by Lacy) includes "Quirks," "Bud's Brother," "Capers," "We Don't," and "Kitty Malone." Steven Loewy

Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Ronnie Boykins (bass)
Dennis Charles (drums)

1. Quirks
2. Bud's Brother
3. Capers
4. We Don't
5. Kitty Malone

Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron - Hot House

Steve Lacy makes so many records that it's hard to keep up, but this one is a standout. Today's foremost soprano saxophonist is an improviser's improviser, and when he bites into knotty jazz classics, as he does on this album, you can be certain he'll find new ways to chew them up. Lacy, with his serpentine tone, can take a phrase, invert it, repeat it, permute it, and build an entirely fresh melodic construction on it. Pianist Mal Waldron, with whom he first recorded more than 10 years ago, is an ideal partner, providing a sleek, rhythmically implacable platform for Lacy to deconstruct classics by Herbie Nichols, Bud Powell, Tadd Dameron, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Sidney Bechet. Bechet was the man who introduced the soprano saxophone into jazz, and Lacy pays homage to him with a version of his most famous melody, ''Petite Fleur,'' that begins and ends in a kind of high-pitched bird song. The tempos don't vary all that much, but, on its own terms, each of these pieces mesmerizes.

Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Mal Waldron (piano)

1. House Party Starting
2. Hot House
3. I'll Keep Loving You
4. Friday The 13th
5. Mistral Breeze
6. The Mooche
7. Petite Fleur
8. Snake Out
9. Retreat

Studios Ferber, Paris, France, July 12-13, 1990

Coleman Hawkins - 1939-1940 (Chronological 634)

Strangely, arwulf arwulf doesn't have anything to say about this entry in the Coleman Hawkins Chrono series. Yet it contains one of the most defining tunes in the history of jazz.

Hawkins didn't exactly return to the USA in triumph, but his eminenece was almost immediately re-established with the astounding 'Body And Soul', which still sounds like the most spontaneously perfect of all jazz records. Fitted into the session as an afterthought (they had already cut 12 previous takes of 'Fine Dinner' and eight of 'Meet Doctor Foo'), this one-take two-chorus improvisation is so completely realized, every note meaningful, the tempo ideal, the rhapsodic swing irresistible, and the sense of rising drama sustained to the final coda, that it still has the capacity to amaze new listeners, just like Armstrong's 'West End Blues' or Parker's 'Bird Gets The Worm'. A later track on the Classics CD, the little-known 'Dedication', revisits the same setting; although masterful in it's way, it points up howgenuinely immediate the greatest jazz is; it can't finally compare to the original.If the same holds good for the many later versions of the tune which Hawkins set down, his enduring variations on the structure (and it's intriguing to note that he only refers to the original melody in the opening bars of the 1939 reading - which didn't stop it from becoming a huge hit) say something about his own powers of renewal - Penguin Guide

Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Benny Carter (alto sax, trumpet)
Joe Sullivan (piano)
Joe Guy (trumpet)
J.C. Higginbotham (trombone)
Ulysses Livingston (guitar, vocals)
John Kirby (bass)
George Wettling (drums)

1. Meet Doctor Foo
2. Fine Dinner
3. She's Funny That Way
4. Body And Soul
5. It's Tight Like That
6. Easy Rider
7. Scratch My Back
8. Save It, Pretty Mama
9. When Day Is Done
10. The Sheik Of Araby
11. My Blue Heaven
12. Bouncing With Bean
13. How Long, How Long Blues
14. Shake It And Break It
15. A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody
16. Pom Pom
17. Dedication
18. Passin' It Around
19. Serenade To A Sleeping Beauty
20. Rocky Comfort
21. Forgive A Fool

Art Pepper - The Complete Village Vanguard Sessions

The second installment of 3 CDs: these constitute the second night of the engagement; Friday, July 29, 1977.

"Devoted fans of alto saxophonist Art Pepper share a fascination with Chet Baker fans. They find Pepper's excesses, so flatly confessed in his autobiography, Straight Life, great fodder for intense listening--which they are. Pepper had a rare talent for playing as if his horn were a lens on his torment. He played cushioned, cool melodies in the California jazz heyday and then went off to prison and hardscrabble years as an infamous heroin addict. By the time he performed the music on this massive nine-CD set, Pepper had made several comebacks, the latest of which was heroic--if fueled by chemicals and a furious need to prove himself during the Vanguard gigs caught here uninterrupted. The music bristles, whether in the pretty anguish of a solo-sax "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" or the numerous mad-charging bop heads Pepper tackles as if they were his last meals. He makes an ass of himself with some of the between-song banter, but it's all part of the big picture. For all the thorns and warts and complications, that picture shows unabated, undiluted, and unquenchable musical chops to burn here. The liner essay tells the whole sordid tale of Pepper gone from prison to a halfway house to a late-1970s rebound that urged some of his best music. If this lavish box, with its repetitions of tunes (all the takes, however, differ radically) is too much, try the individual volumes." --Andrew Bartlett

Art Pepper (alto and tenor sax, clarinet)
George Cables (piano)
George Mraz (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

CD 4
1. Spoken Introduction
2. No Limit
3. Spoken Introduction
4. Valse Triste - (previously unreleased)
5. Spoken Introduction
6. My Friend John - (previously unreleased)
7. Spoken Introduction
8. You Go to My Head
9. Cherokee
10. Blues For Heard - (previously unreleased)

CD 5
1. Count-Off / Blues For Heard - (previously unreleased)
2. Anthropology
3. These Foolish Things
4. For Freddie - (previously unreleased)
5. Blues For Heard - (previously unreleased)

CD 6
1. Spoken Introduction
2. Las Cuevas de Mario - (previously unreleased)
3. Spoken Introduction
4. Stella by Starlight - (previously unreleased)
5. Spoken Introduction
6. Goodbye - (previously unreleased)
7. Spoken Introduction
8. Vanguard Max - (previously unreleased)
9. Blues For Heard - (previously unreleased)

Mel Tormé & The Marty Paich Dek-Tette - Reunion

In the 1950s, Mel Tormé recorded several memorable LPs on which he was joined by arranger Marty Paich and his Dek-tette (an all-star ten-piece band). For this long-overdue reunion, Paich utilized an 11-piece outfit (not counting two percussionists), adding a second trombone and a baritone to the original instrumentation while dropping the French horn. The results are quite enjoyable, with Tormé, remarkably still improving with age, in peak form on such songs as "Sweet Georgia Brown," "More than You Know," and several medleys, including one of bossa nova tunes and a combination of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and Chick Corea's "Spain." The singer even attempts a couple of Steely Dan tunes with less success, since they are not that flexible; and Tormé seems to be in good spirits throughout this enjoyable set. Scott Yanow

Mel Tormé (Vocals)
Marty Paich (Arranger)
Chuck Berghofer (Bass)
Bob Efford (Baritone Sax)
Bob Enevoldsen (Valve Trombone)
Gary Foster (Alto Sax)
Jeff Hamilton (Drums)
Pete Jolly (Piano)
Warren Luening (Trumpet)
Lew McCreary (Trombone)
Ken Peplowski (Tenor Sax)
Jeff Porcaro (Percussion)
Jim Self (Tuba)
Jack Sheldon (Trumpet)
Efrain Toro (Percussion)

1 Sweet Georgia Brown (Bernie, Casey, Pinkard) 3:05
2 When You Wish Upon a Star/I'm Wishing (Harline, Washington) 2:51
3 Walk Between Raindrops (Fagen) 5:44
4 The Blues (Ellington) 5:18
5 Gift/One Note Samba/How Insensitive 4:54
6 The Trolley Song/Get Me to the Church on Time (Blaine, Lerner, Loewe, Martin) 4:45
7 More Than You Know (Eliscu, Rose, Youmans) 5:48
8 The Goodbye Look (Fagen) 4:45
9 For Whom the Bell Tolls/Spain (I Can Recall) (Corea, Jarreau, Maren, Rodrigo) 6:42

Recorded at Ocean Way Recording, Hollywood, CA in August, 1988

The Lee Konitz Duets

"One of altoist Lee Konitz's greatest sessions. The music ranges from Dixieland to bop and free, and is consistently fascinating," says Scott Yanow.

I had this on LP and it didn't seem anyone was going to RS the reissue, which in any case has no added tracks, so here it is complete with quality scans of the original LP double-sleeve. LAME 3.98 vbr0 mp3

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Luis Russell

1930-1934 (Chronological 606)

It's a shame this and the earlier Classics collection split up the bandleader's prime 1930 recordings, but such is the way of a strictly chronological series. Those wanting just one disc that covers most of Russell's best work will want to pick up JSP's Savoy Shout disc, which includes 22 cuts from 1929-1930. But for collectors in need of all of the recordings Russell cut before Louis Armstrong practically swallowed up his band whole in 1934, the two Classics discs will certainly do the trick. And while this later disc pales a bit to the 1926-1930 collection, its first half does feature classic work from Russell's band and its spin-off combo, J.C. Higginbotham and His Six Hicks. Along with Higginbotham's own irrepressible trombone work, these sides also offer a wealth of solo treats from such band standouts as trumpeter Henry Allen and saxophonists Charlie Holmes and Albert Nicholas. The later 1931 and 1934 recordings might not match up to earlier classics like "Panama" and "Song of the Swanee," but they still include enough fine performances amongst the filler to keep the quality level up. A worthwhile disc, but one that's probably best suited for Russell completists. ~ Stephen Cook

Luis Russell (piano)
Henry "Red" Allen (trumpet)
Rex Stewart (cornet)
Vic Dickenson (trombone)
Albert Nicholas (clarinet, alto sax)
Teddy Hill (tenor sax)
Paul Barbarin (drums, vibraphone)

1. Saratoga Shout
2. Song Of The Swanee
3. Give Me Your Telephone Number
4. Higginbotham Blues
5. Louisiana Swing
6. Poor Li'l Me
7. On Revival Day
8. Muggin' Lightly
9. Panama
10. High Tension
11. I Got Rhythm
12. Saratoga Drag
13. Ease On Down
14. Honey, That Reminds Me
15. You Rascal, You
16. Goin' To Town
17. Say The Word
18. Freakish Blues
19. At The Darktown Strutter's Ball
20. My Blue Heaven
21. Ghost Of The Freaks
22. Hokus Pokus
23. Primitive
24. Ol' Man River

1945-1946 (Chronological 1066)

Luis Russell led one of the great early big bands, an orchestra that during 1929-1931 could hold its own with nearly all of its competitors. Unfortunately, his period in the spotlight was fairly brief and, ironically, Russell fell into obscurity just as the big band era really took hold. Russell studied guitar, violin, and piano in his native Panama. After winning 3,000 dollars in a lottery, he moved with his mother and sister to the United States where he began to make a living as a pianist in New Orleans. In 1925 Russell moved to Chicago to join Doc Cook's Orchestra and then became the pianist in King Oliver's band. He was with Oliver when the cornetist relocated to New York before leading his own band at the Nest Club in 1927. Russell had recorded seven songs at two sessions as a leader in 1926 with his Hot Six and Heebie Jeebie Stompers. By 1929 his ten-piece band (which included several former Oliver sidemen) boasted four major soloists in trumpeter Red Allen, trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, altoist Charlie Holmes, and clarinetist Albert Nicholas; the other trumpeter, Bill Coleman, ended up leaving because of the lack of solo space. In addition, Russell, a decent but not particularly distinctive pianist, was part of one of the top rhythm sections of the era along with guitarist Will Johnson, the powerful bassist Pops Foster, and drummer Paul Barbarin. During the next couple of years Luis Russell's band recorded a couple dozen sides that (thanks to the leader's arrangements) combined the solos and drive of New Orleans jazz with the riffs and ensembles of swing; some of these performances are now considered classics. The band also backed Louis Armstrong on a few of his early orchestra recordings. But after a few commercial sides in 1931, Luis Russell only had one more opportunity to record his band (a so-so session in 1934) before Louis Armstrong took it over altogether in 1935. For eight years, the nucleus of Russell's orchestra primarily functioned as background for the great trumpeter/vocalist, a role that robbed it of its personality and significance. From 1943-1948, Russell led a new band that played the Savoy and made a few obscure recordings for Apollo before quietly breaking up. He spent his last 15 years, before dying of cancer in 1963, largely outside of music, running at first a candy shop and then a toy store. Fortunately most of Russell's early recordings have been made available on CD by European labels. ~ Scott Yanow

Luis Russell (director)
Roy Haynes (drums)
Samuel Lee (alto sax)
Bernard Flood (trumpet)
Howard Biggs (piano)
Clarence Grimes (alto sax)

1. You Taught Me How To Smile Again
2. Boogie In The Basement
3. Sweet Melody
4. Sad Lover Blues
5. The Very Thought Of You
6. Don't Take Your Love From Me
7. 1280 Jive
8. I've Got A Gal
9. You Gave Me Everything But Love
10. Walking Slow
11. I've Been A Fool Again
12. Luke The Spook
13. I'm Yours
14. Deep Six Blues
15. Gloomy Sunday
16. My Silent Love
17. A Rainy Sunday
18. I'm In A Low Down Mood
19. All The Things You Are
20. Gone
21. Remaining Souvenirs
22. For You

Barney Wilen

I have been advised that friends of the site have posted this (and Mal Waldron Plays Satie) at other sites, but - to be blunt - I just spent a bundle on the Wilen And Waldron/Satie, and I'm posting them also. No disrespect intended. It might be well to check the tracklists even if you think you have this - there's some funky stuff going on with his re-issues.

Barney Wilen (March 4 1937–May 25 1996) was a French tenor and soprano saxophonist and jazz composer.

Wilen was born in Nice; his father was an American dentist turned inventor, and his mother was French. He began performing in clubs in Nice after being encouraged by Blaise Cendrars who was a friend of his mother. Wilen was only 16 when he wrote his first two soundtracks Un Témoin Dans la Ville and Jazz sur scène with Kenny Clarke. His career was boosted in 1957 when he worked with Miles Davis on the soundtrack Ascenseur pour l'Échafaud. He wrote a soundtrack for Roger Vadim's film Les Liaisons Dangeureuses two years later, working with Thelonious Monk. Wilen returned to composing for French films in the 1980s and 1990s. In the mid to late 1960s he became interested in rock, and recorded an album dedicated to Timothy Leary. He also worked with punk rockers before returning to jazz in the 1990s. Wilen played with modern jazz musicians until his death in 1996. He died in Paris at the age 59.

Barney Wilen - La Note Bleue

Barney Wilen (tenor sax)
Alain Jean-Marie (piano)
Philippe Petit (guitar)
Ricardo del Fra (bass)
Sangoma Everett (drums)

1 - Besame Mucho
2 - No Problem
3 - Pauline
4 - Round'bout Midnight
5 - Les Jours Heureux
6 - Mr Martin
7 - Un Baiser Rouge
8 - Portrait de l' Artiste avec Saxophone
9 - Whisper Not
10 - Triste Again
11 - Harlem Nocturne
12 - Besame Mucho
13 - Goodbye
14 - All Blues
15 - No Problem

Barney Wilen with Mal Waldron - French Story

Barney Wilen (alto and tenor sax)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Stafford James (bass)
Eddie Moore (drums)

1. Homme et une Femme
2. Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud
3. Parapluies de Cherbourg
4. Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
5. Black Orpheus
6. Des Femmes Disparaissent
7. Autumn Leaves
8. Quiet Temple

Paris, France, October 2-3, 1989

Stewart Copeland - Orchestralli (2002)

During the 40-minute documentary included on the packed-in DVD in his Orchestralli release, former Police drummer Stewart Copeland declares his love for Buddy Rich. He also mentions the music Rich plays is "not necessarily my kind of music." What he says he loves about Rich is the man's "effervescence" more than the compositions he plays. Later he talks about how music is "instinct," "best when it comes from the heart rather than the brain," and "is how it feels." The man also wrote an opera for the Cleveland Opera Company, so take all these things into consideration before attacking Orchestralli. At no point does Stewart use the best word to describe his own music: knotty. But this knotty music is filled with effervescence, heart, and uplifting emotion. Zappa's jazz at its happiest or "what if Aaron Copland fronted the modern high school jazz band" are fair comparisons, but this "serious" music often breaks free of any comparisons and winds itself into a thrilling frenzy that only recalls that guy who used to drum for the Police. "Eve" pays homage to Weil and Mancini before kicking it up a notch, allowing Copeland to bring out that whip crack on the snare that propelled Sting and Andy Summers into high gear. The percussive, just-a-shade-too-big-to-call-a-chamber ensemble here responds the same way, coming alive and forgetting about how "serious" this music is. Good thing too, because Copeland's compositions probably aren't the most fascinating charts to read, and they're either pop or soundtracky. They do have some interesting twists -- sometimes too many -- but more than anything, they're jumping-off points for the parties involved. Generally things follow the "Eve" pattern. The shrunken orchestra heavily plays an interesting melody, Stewart and the four-piece percussion unit -- Ensemble Bash -- he brought with him show the orchestra how it's done, then everyone catches fire and you can't help but smile. Recorded live in Italy during a short stint of shows during 2002, the sound quality is crisp and does an excellent job of capturing this swirling tangle of notes. Longtime Copeland fans will be especially interested in the vibrant bits of the Rumble Fish soundtrack and the redo of the Equalizer television theme here; however, being familiar with the originals won't give anyone a leg up on appreciating how the man delivers on his belief in "feel" throughout Orchestralli. David Jeffries

Stewart Copeland (Composer, Drums)
Orchestra Ueca Orchestra
Robert Ziegler (Conductor)
Sabino Allegrini (French Horn)
Valerio Beffa (Flute, Alto Sax)
Raffaele Bertolini (Clarinet)
Amedeo Bianchi (Saxophone)
Christopher Brannick (Percussion)
Eugenia Biancamaria Buzzetti (Viola)
Alfredo Caprotti (Baritone Sax)
Alessandro Carlà (Piano)
Annamaria Bernadette Cristian (Cello)
Margherita Graczyk (Violin)
Giorgio Guindani (Flute, Soprano Sax)
Stephen Hiscock (Percussion)
Mirela Lico (Violin)
Giuseppe Maneti (Trombone)
Martin Andrew (Percussion)
Judd Miller Horn (EWI)
Michele Santi (Trumpet)
Massimo Scoca (Bass)

1. Eve (7:14)
2. Stalin’s Sultry Serenade (6:26)
3. Birds Of Prey (3:12)
4. Grace (8:20)
5. Gene Pool (6:03)
6. Our Mother Is Alive (7:12)
7. Baboon Tribe (3:58)
8. Equalizer (4:13)

Recorded November, 11th 2002 - Milan - Teatro Smeraldo, November, 12th 2002 – Turin - Teatro Colosseo, November, 13th 2002 - Bologna - Teatro Medica, November, 15th - 2002 - Rome - Auditorium Parco della Musica

Be sure to check out... of our friend's site:

Kenny Drew Trio - 1957 Pal Joey

Music of Rodgers and Hart, from a Broadway musical and then in the big screen in a film starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak.

Broadway musicals provided considerable--and often top-quality--material for the improvisers of the late 1950s. Few scores were better than Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey, and few "jazz impressions" have proven to be more lasting than those of Kenny Drew, Wilbur Ware, and Philly Joe Jones. Drew (1928-1993) was one of the brightest young pianists in New York, whose impressive recording credits alone included, in addition to his own LPs, sessions with the twin towers of post-Bird tenors, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Supported brilliantly by bassist Ware (1923-1979) and drummer Jones (1923-1985), two supreme individualists on their respective instruments, the pianist's bebop inflections and inspired balladry fit "Joey" like a blocked Trilby hat.

Kenny Drew Piano
Philly Joe Jones Drums
Wilbur Ware Bass

01 - Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
02 - Do it the Hard Way
03 - I Didn't Know What Time it Was
04 - Happy Hunting Horn
05 - I Could Write a Book
06 - What is a Man
07 - My Funny Valentine
08 - The Lady is a Tramp

Recorded in New York, October 15, 1957

Kenny Dorham - Jazz Contemporary

Originally on the Time label, this LP features the excellent (but always underrated) trumpeter Kenny Dorham heading a quintet that also includes baritonist Charles Davis, pianist Steve Kuhn, either Jimmy Garrison or Butch Warren on bass, and drummer Buddy Enlow. The results are not quite essential but everyone plays up to par, performing three of Dorham's originals plus "In Your Own Sweet Way," "Monk's Mood," and "This Love of Mine." It's fine hard bop, the modern mainstream music of the period.
Scott Yanow

01 A Waltz 5:34
02 Monk's Mood 8:09
03 In Your Own Sweet Way 8:01
04 Horn Salute 8:27
05 Tonica 2:57
06 This Love of Mine 6:49
07 Sign Off 5:29
08 A Waltz (Alternate Take) 5:36
09 Monk's Mood (Alternate Take) 2:53
10 This Love of Mine (Alternate Take) 7:55

Buddy Enlow Drums
Jimmy Garrison Bass
Butch Warren Bass
Kenny Dorham Trumpet
Steve Kuhn Piano

Recorded in New York, February 11-12, 1960

Art Farmer/Gigi Gryce - When Farmer Met Gryce

Art Farmer and Gigi Gryce's "When Farmer Met Gryce" is one of the best pre-Jazztet recordings by the great, late trumpeter. Originally released as two 10-inch LPs, "When Farmer Meets Gryce" is actually two sessions. The first four tunes are from a May 19, 1954 performance featuring the rhythm trio of Horace Silver, Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke, and tracks 5-8 are from a May 26, 1955 date with Freddie Redd, Art's brother Addison and Art Taylor. Of course, Art plays trumpet and Gigi Gryce is on alto sax on both sessions. All eight of the disc's compositions were penned by Gryce, who along with Farmer's future Jazztet co-founder Benny Golson, was one of Prestige's (and the late 50s jazz scene in general) best writer/arrangers. "When Farmer Met Gryce" was truly a momentous event.

Art Farmer (trumpet)
Gigi Gryce (alto sax)
Horace Silver (piano)
Percy Heath (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Recorded on May 19, 1954

Art Farmer (trumpet)
Gigi Gryce (alto sax)
Freddie Redd (piano)
Addison Farmer (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)
Recorded on May 26, 1955

1. A Night At Tony's
2. Blue Concept
3. Stupendous-Lee
4. Deltitnu
5. Social Call
6. Capri
7. Blue Lights
8. The Infant's Song


This is through the suggestion of our friend Kell, who was gracious enough to let me post it first.

The Gentle Jug is one of those PolySonicAugmentifiedGroovyDiscs (in Stereo-reo-reo) that all the kids are so crazy about nowadays. Ever on the cutting edge are we at CIA.

Gene Ammons - Gentle Jug (Audiophile Edition)

The first of three exceptional discs spotlighting Gene Ammons' ballad artistry, Gentle Jug combines two original Prestige/Moodsville albums by the tenor great: 1961's Nice 'n Cool and 1962's The Soulful Moods of Gene Ammons. And while the ballad work of, say, Dexter Gordon and Ben Webster is of a very high order, Ammons takes top honors for his unparalleled expressive abilities, delivering pathos with generous amounts of that lush yet bittersweet tone and fluid phrasing. Like his longtime partner, Sonny Stitt, he could handle just about any style, mood, or tempo with aplomb. The mood on these 16 sides is transcendently after hours, resplendent with the tasteful and sympathetic backing of pianists Richard Wyands and Patti Brown, bassists George Duvivier and Doug Watkins, and drummers J.C. Heard and Ed Shaughnessy. ~ Stephen Cook

1-8 (Nice an' Cool, Moodsville 18)
Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Richard Wyands (piano)
Doug Watkins (bass)
J.C. Heard (drums)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, January 26, 1961

9-16 (The Soulful Mood Of Gene Ammons, Moodsville 28)
Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Patti Bown (piano)
George Duvivier (bass)
Ed Shaughnessy (drums)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, April 14, 1962

1. Till There Was You
2. Answer Me, My Love
3. Willow Weep For Me
4. Little Girl Blue
5. Something I Dreamed Last Night
6. Something Wonderful
7. I Remember You
8. Someone To Watch Over Me
9. Two Different Worlds
10. But Beautiful
11. Skylark
12. Three Little Words
13. Street Of Dreams
14. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
15. Under A Blanket Of Blue
16. I'm Glad There Is You

Gene Ammons - Jammin' in Hi Fi with Gene Ammons

One of only two recording dates Jug made for the year 1957. I was surprised to see that the other - Funky - hasn't been posted since Crabbit days; so that's definitely due to be revisited. Mal Waldron, t'boot.

Tenorman Gene Ammons headed a series of notable studio jam session in the 1950s and this is one of the better ones. With such fine young players as trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, altoist Jackie McLean, pianst Mal Waldron, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor, Ammons and his friends jam through four numbers all of which clock in between 11:59 and 13:01. The results are an accessible and often exciting brand of bebop. ~ Scott Yanow

Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. The Twister
2. Cattin'
3. Pennies From Heaven
4. Four

Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, April 12, 1957

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Art Farmer Quintet - Featuring Gigi Gryce

Regarding When Farmer Met Gryce and this, the Penguin Guide says they are:

"...impeccable examples of a more considered approach to hard-bop forms. While When Farmer Met Gryce is the better known, it's slightly the lesser of the two. Art Farmer Quintet has some of Gryce's best writing in the unusual structures of "Evening In Casablanca" and "Satellite", while "Nica's Tempo" constructed more from key centersthan from chords, might be his masterpiece; in the sequenceof long solos, Farmer turns in an improvisation good enough to stand with the best of Miles Davis from the same period."

The success of Art Farmer and Gigi Gryce's When Farmer Met Gryce allowed the folks at the Prestige label to follow-up with The Art Farmer Quintet. The alto-saxophonist again joins the trumpeter on this October 21, 1955 session once more to glowing results. Farmer's brother Addison also makes an encore performance as the recording's bassist, and is additionally joined by pianist Duke Jordan and drummer Philly Joe Jones in fine form. The original compositions -- five penned by Gryce and Jordan's "Forecast" -- are again stellar. Those who enjoyed "meeting" Gryce earlier will certainly enjoy this reunion.

Art Farmer (trumpet)
Gigi Gryce (alto sax)
Duke Jordan (piano)
Addison Farmer (bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)

1. Forecast
2. Evening In Casablanca
3. Nica's Tempo
4. Satellite
5. San Souci
6. Shabozz

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on October 21, 1955

Bobby Jaspar - With George Wallington And Idrees Sulieman

A fine bop-oriented soloist equally skilled on his cool-toned tenor and flute, Bobby Jaspar's early death from a heart ailment was a tragic loss. As a teenager, he played tenor in a Dixieland group with Toots Thielemans in Belgium. He recorded with Henri Renaud (1951 and 1953) and played with touring Americans, including Jimmy Raney, Chet Baker (1955), and his future wife Blossom Dearie. In 1956, Jaspar moved to New York, where he worked with J.J. Johnson, was briefly with Miles Davis (1957), and with Donald Byrd. He mostly freelanced during the remainder of his career. Bobby Jaspar recorded for Swing, Vogue, and Barclay while in Paris, and led dates for Prestige and Riverside in the U.S. during 1957. ~ Scott Yanow

Bobby Jaspar (tenor sax, flute)
Idrees Sulieman (trumpet)
George Wallington (piano)
Wilbur Little (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Seven Up
2. My Old Flame
3. All Of You
4. Doublemint
5. Before Dawn
6. Sweet Blanche
7. The Fuzz

New York, May 23 and 28, 1957

George Wallington Quintet - The New York Scene

Before he retired from music in 1960, pianist George Wallington led a series of excellent bop-based quintet albums. For this particular CD (a reissue of a date originally put out by New Jazz), Wallington heads a group featuring altoist Phil Woods, trumpeter Donald Byrd, bassist Teddy Kotick and drummer Nick Stabulas. With the exception of the standard "Indian Summer," the repertoire is pretty obscure (with now-forgotten originals by Byrd, Woods and Mose Allison in addition to "Graduation Day") but of a consistent high quality. The emphasis is on hard-swinging and this set should greatly please straightahead jazz fans. ~ Scott Yanow

George Wallington was one of the first and best bop pianists, ranking up there with Al Haig, just below Bud Powell. He was also the composer of two bop standards that caught on for a time: "Lemon Drop" and "Godchild." Born in Sicily, Wallington and his family moved to the U.S. in 1925. He arrived in New York in the early '40s and was a member of the first bop group to play on 52nd Street, Dizzy Gillespie's combo of 1943-1944. After spending a year with Joe Marsala's band, Wallington played with the who's who of bop during 1946-1952, including Charlie Parker, Serge Chaloff, Allan Eager, Kai Winding, Terry Gibbs, Brew Moore, Al Cohn, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, and Red Rodney. He toured Europe with Lionel Hampton's ill-fated big band of 1953, and during 1954-1960 he led groups in New York that included among its up-and-coming sidemen Donald Byrd and Jackie McLean (the latter succeeded by Phil Woods). Then, in 1960, Wallington gave up on the music business altogether and retired to work in his family's air-conditioning company. 24 years later he re-emerged, recording three albums of original material before time ran out. ~ Scott Yanow

George Wallington (piano
Phil Woods (alto sax)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Teddy Kotick (bass)
Nick Stabulas (drums)

1. In Salah
2. Up Tohickon Creek
3. Graduation Day
4. Indian Summer
5. 'Dis Mornin'
6. Sol's Ollie

Hackensack, New Jersey; March 1 1957

Tiny Parham

Tiny Parham (who was actually rather large) was most significant as an arranger/bandleader in Chicago who recorded many memorable sides from 1927-1930. After growing up in Kansas City, Parham toured the Southwest with a territory band and then settled in Chicago in 1926. In addition to accompanying blues singers and cutting sides with Johnny Dodds, Parham recorded extensively with His Musicians, bands that mostly consisted of now-obscure Chicago players; best-known are cornetist Punch Miller and (in 1930) bassist Milt Hinton. Parham's arrangements were often atmospheric, and such numbers as "The Head-Hunter's Dream," "Jogo Rhythm," "Blue Melody Blues," "Blue Island Blues," "Washboard Wiggles," and "Dixieland Doin's" were particularly memorable. After 1930, Parham spent the remainder of his life playing in theaters, often on organ after the mid-'30s, only recording three further titles in 1940 before his premature death. Before the end of the LP era, Swaggie had reissued all of Parham's recordings (including alternate takes); the master versions have since been compiled on two Classics CDs. ~ Scott Yanow

1926-1929 (Chronological 661)

The first of two Classics CDs to reissue the master takes of all of pianist Tiny Parham's recordings as a leader contains more than its share of gems. Parham is heard as co-leader of the Pickett-Parham Apollo Syncopators (which features Leroy Pickett on violin) and also heading his "Forty" Five (a quintet that includes trombonist Kid Ory and a guest vocal from blues banjoist Papa Charlie Jackson). However, the bulk of the CD is by Parham's Musicians, a septet with either Punch Miller or Ray Hobson on cornet, and (starting on Feb. 1, 1929) the atmospheric violin of Elliott Washington. The clever and unpredictable arrangements, along with an impressive series of now-obscure originals, made Parham's ensemble one of the most underrated bands of the era. Highlights include "The Head-Hunter's Dream," "Jogo Rhythm," "Stompin' on Down" and "Blue Island Blues." ~ Scott Yanow

Tiny Parham (piano)
Kid Ory (trombone)
Punch Miller (cornet)
Jimmy Bertrand (drums)

1. Alexander, Where's The Band?
2. Mojo Strut
3. Jim Jackson's Kansas City Blues
4. A Little Bit Closer
5. The Head Hunter's Dream (An African Fantasy)
6. Stuttering Blues
7. Clarice
8. Snake Eyes
9. Cuckoo Blues
10. Jogo Rhythm
11. Voodoo
12. Skag-A-Lag
13. Stompin' On Down
14. Blue Melody Blues
15. Tiny's Stomp (Oriental Blues)
16. Subway Sobs
17. That Kind Of Love
18. Blue Island Blues
19. Jungle Crawl
20. Lucky '3-6-9'
21. Echo Blues
22. Washboard Wiggles

1929-1940 (Chronological 691)

The second of two Tiny Parham CDs has the pianist's final two sessions from 1929, his two dates from 1930, and his three very obscure titles from 1940, cut three years before his death. There are many highlights among the 1929-1930 numbers, including "Sud Buster's Dream," "Dixieland Doin's," "Doin' the Jug Jug," and "Nervous Tension." Milt Hinton is heard on tuba, and even if most of the soloists (other than cornetist Punch Miller, who is on some of the songs) never became famous, the ensembles and frameworks make this music consistently memorable. The 1940 selections are played by a quartet with Parham doubling on organ and Darnell Howard the lead voice on clarinet and alto, and they are historically interesting. ~ Scott Yanow

1. Pig's Feet and Slaw
2. Bombay
3. Fat Man Blues
4. Golden Lily
5. Steel String Blues
6. Sud Buster's Dream
7. Dixieland Doin's
8. Cathedral Blues
9. Black Cat Moan
10. Doin' The Jug-Jug
11. Rock Bottom
12. Down Yonder
13. Blue Moon Blues
14. Squeeze Me
15. Back To The Jungle
16. Nervous Tension
17. Memphis Mamie
18. Now That I've Found You
19. My Dreams
20. After All I've Done For You
21. Frogtown Blues
22. Moving Day
23. Spo-Dee-O-Dee

Monday, May 5, 2008

Milt Jackson - Roll 'Em Bags

This set is from sessions also heard on Savoy's Meet Milt Jackson. Six tracks are from a 1949 sextet with Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Billy Mitchell (tenor sax), Julius Watkins (French horn), Curly Russell (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums); three others are from the excellent 1956 sessions Jackson did with Lucky Thompson (tenor sax), along with Wade Legge (piano), Wendell Marshall (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums). On the earlier numbers, the ensemble work is ragged and the soloists -- including the typically inspired Jackson -- turn in workmanlike efforts. Even Clarke's usual crispness and sparkle is absent. Fortunately, half the 34-minute disc is given over to the Jackson/Thompson partnering, starting with a relaxed, amiable reading of "Come Rain or Come Shine." The high points, however, are the Jackson originals "Fred's Mood" and "Wild Man." Although not commonly viewed as a hard bop pioneer, the urbane, bluesy structures that distinguish Jackson's writing at this time, arguably, make him a trailblazer for the movement. Certainly it is the Jackson originals that draw out the best from both the vibist and Thompson on their two January 1956 sessions, the balance of which can be heard on The Jazz Skyline, Jackson's Ville, and Meet Milt Jackson. These are all worth seeking out, although Meet Milt Jackson, like Roll 'Em Bags, also has items of lesser consequence from other sessions. ~ Jim Todd

Milt Jackson (vibes, piano)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet, piano)
Julius Watkins (French horn)
Billy Mitchell (tenor sax)
Curly Russell (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Joe Harris (timbales)
NYC, January 25, 1949

Milt Jackson (vibes)
Lucky Thompson (tenor sax)
Wade Legge (piano)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
NYC, January 5, 1956

1. Conglomeration
2. Bruz
3. You Go To My Head
4. Roll' Em Bags
5. Faultless
6. Hey, Frenchy
7. Come Rain Or Come Shine
8. Fred's Mood
9. Wild Man

Kenny Dorham - This Is The Moment

KD was on a vocal tip; the album prior to this was with Betty Carter and the one after was Abbey Lincoln's It's Magic. You can also contrast Angel Eyes with the version by Jug.

The release of this recording must have surprised most jazz listeners at the time, for trumpeter Kenny Dorham sings on all ten selections. He had never hinted at any desire to sing previously (although he had sung a blues regularly with Dizzy Gillespie & His Orchestra in the 1940s) and, as it turned out, this was his one and only vocal album; the sales were probably quite a bit less than Chet Baker's records of the period. Dorham had an OK voice, musical if not memorable, but the arrangements for these selections (which utilize his trumpet and Curtis Fuller's trombone, both of which are muted all the time) are inventive and pleasing. The supportive rhythm section is also an asset; pianist Cedar Walton made his recording debut on this album (released on CD via the Original Jazz Classics imprint), which is a historical curiosity. ~ Scott Yanow

Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Cedar Walton (piano)
Sam Jones (bass)
Charlie Persip (drums)
G. T. Hogan (drums)

1. Autumn Leaves
2. I Remember Clifford
3. Since I Fell For You
4. I Understand
5. From This Moment On
6. This Is The Moment
7. Angel Eyes
8. Where Are You?
9. Golden Earrings
10. Make Me A Present Of You

NYC, July 7 and August 15, 1958

Jay Leonhart - Salamander Pie (1983)

"Buy this disc. I don't care whether you're a jazzophile, a devotee of the classics, a country & western fan, or whatever. If you're equipped with an ear, a brain and a heart, you'll love Jay Leonhart's Salmander Pie. On the surface, this disc doesn't look like a candidate for 'wonderfulness.' There are no horns, no drums, no guitar, no fiddles, no anything except a string bass, a piano (by the super-talented Mike Renzi), a voice and 17 songs. Even the songs appear unlikely winners. You won't find Stardust or St. Louis Blues or Sweet Little Sixteen or anything familiar.

Leonhart wrote all 17 songs on the disc. They aren't songs in the common sense of the word. They are near perfect marriages of poetry and music, like the better examples of German lieder and American blues. Leonhart fills his creations with humor, irony, warmth, sadness, pain, joy and above all, truth. Many of the songs seem to be autobiographical. Others are fantastic. All are inventive and touching." Tom Krehbiel

A superior bassist, Jay Leonhart has also had a parallel and sometimes overlapping career as a witty lyricist and occasional singer. As a child he attended the Peabody Conservatory (1946-50) and by the time he went to the Berklee College of Music (1959-61), Leonhart was a jazz musician. He played with Buddy Morrow (1961) and Mike Longo (1962-63) and then became a busy freelance musician in New York. Among Leonhardt's many associations were Marian McPartland (with whom he recorded in 1971), Jim Hall, Urbie Green, Chuck Wayne (1976), Phil Woods, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Don Sebesky, Louie Bellson and pianist Mike Renzi. Leonhart started becoming well-known as a lyricist in the 1980's when he began leading his own recording sessions and started having his songs being recorded by other singers. As a leader, Jay Leonhart has recorded for DMP (1983), Sunnyside (1984 and 1988), Nesak (1990) and DRG (1993). Scott Yanow

Jay Leonhart (bass, vocals)
Mike Renzi (piano)

1 Look Down Off a Bridge 3:57
2 Robert Frost 4:18
3 Drink No More 3:44
4 Sometimes I Think 3:52
5 Jujubes 2:00
6 Caribbean Island 3:05
7 Flight 861 4:43
8 Salamander Pie 1:27
9 Let the Flower Grow 5:27
10 Beat My Dog 1:51
11 Chanticler 3:49
12 Giant Flies 3:52
13 Kentucky Wild Flower 3:44
14 Momma Don't You Think We Ought to Be Goin 4:38
15 Goodbye Jim 5:25
16 Uncle Jim 4:00
17 Double Cross 4:43

All selections composed by Jay Leonhart

Recorded at A&R Studios, New York City on March 19 & 29, 1983

Gene Ammons - Angel Eyes

More Mal Waldron, y'all. Hard to believe this striking young woman is probably approaching 70 about now. Still, quite a looker, and I really like what she's done with her hair; it has the jaunty appea...wait, never mind. It's a hat.

Music from two different occasions are combined on this CD reissue. The four songs from 1960 match the great tenor Gene Ammons with Frank Wess (doubling on flute and tenor), organist Johnny "Hammond" Smith, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Art Taylor. Wess, one of jazz's great flutists, battles Ammons on tenor to a draw on "Water Jug," while the leader takes "Angel Eyes" as his memorable feature. In addition, Ammons is heard in 1962 with pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Ed Thigpen playing with great warmth on the ballads "You Go to My Head" and "It's the Talk of the Town." The latter set was one of Ammons' final ones before serving a long prison sentence (drug-related), yet his interpretations are full of optimism. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Angel Eyes consists of two sessions from 1960 and 1962, where Ammons works out on some jazz standards, accompanied by such talents as Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Art Taylor, and Mal Waldron. On the tunes featuring organ ("Blue Room"), the music is rooted firmly in the relaxed, smoky, funky soul-jazz sound of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and Joey DeFrancesco. On the piano ballads, Ammons and company favor a sentimental, straight-ahead approach in the Dexter Gordon/Sonny Rollins/Ben Webster tradition. Angel Eyes is an ideal way to experience jazz at a crossroads in the early '60s, as well as Ammons in peak form.

Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Frank Wess (tenor sax, flute)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Johnny "Hammond" Smith (organ)
Doug Watkins (bass)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Arthur Taylor (drums)
Ed Thigpen (drums)

1. Gettin' Around
2. Blue Room
3. You Got to My Head
4. Angel Eyes
5. Water Jug
6. It's the Talk of the Town

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on June 17, 1960 and September 5, 1962

Susannah McCorkle - The People That You Never Get To Love

This is the album that first attracted me to the artistry of Susannah McCorkle. The LP had received broad accolades in 1983, when it was first released and was chosen as one of Stereo Review’s “records of the year”. An early masterpiece by the singer, only her 4th album. However, it remains one of her strongest. Scoredaddy

After recording three "songbooks," the superb singer Susannah McCorkle performed 14 songs by as many composers on this Jazz Alliance CD reissue. Although there are a few older tunes (such as "The Lady's in Love with You," "I Won't Dance," and "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face"), McCorkle emphasizes newer material including songs by Blossom Dearie ("Bye Bye Country Boy"), Oscar Brown, Jr. ("The Call of the City"), Dave Frishberg (the obscure "Foodophobia"), and a tune that stayed in her repertoire, "The People That You Never Get to Love." With fine backup work from pianist Keith Ingham, guitarist Al Gafa, bassist Steve LaSpina, and drummer Joe Cucuzzo, Susannah McCorkle (who never recorded a weak album) showed off her versatility without losing her strong musical personality, purpose, and charm. Scott Yanow

Susannah McCorkle (Vocals)
Joe Cocuzzo (Drums)
Alexander Gafa (Guitar)
Keith Ingram (Piano)
Steve LaSpina (Bass)

1 No More Blues [Chega de Saudade] (Cavanaugh, DeMoraes) 3:16
2 Bye Bye Country Boy (Dearie, Segal) 4:52
3 Rain Sometimes (Hamilton) 2:37
4 The Lady's in Love with You (Lane, Loesser) 3:03
5 I Have the Feeling I've Been Here Before (Bergman, Bergman, Kellaway) 3:18
6 I Won't Dance (Fields, Hammerstein, Harbach) 2:44
7 The Hungry Years (Greenfield, Sedaka) 6:13
8 The People That You Never Get to Love (Holmes) 5:10
9 The Call of the City (Brown) 2:34
10 Alone Too Long (Fields, Schwartz) 3:30
11 Foodophobia (Frishberg) 5:17
12 I've Grown Accustomed to His Face (Lerner, Loewe) 3:05
13 The Feeling of Jazz (Ellington, Simon, Troup) 4:14
14 I'm Pullin' Through (Herzog, Kitchings) 3:17

Recorded at Delta Studio, New York City on November 16 & 18, 1981

Martial Solal Broadcasts on France Musique (continued)

Here's another installment of the France Musique radio broadcasts that were done in the early '90s, shows 13 & 14 by my count. In this set is a version of Aigue-marine, which was one of the Solal originals on the 2-CD set - but in this show it is a different version.

cassette from FM radio broadcast —> LAME3.98 vbr0

see comments also for previous installments

Fille Qui Mousse- trixie stapleton 291 ,se taire pour une femme trop belle- 1971, unreleased till 1979

Heres a bizarre but uniquely beautiful mutant rock album, recorded in the early 71 but not released until 1979
An then even then only in a test run of 5, this just narrowly escaped full release by futura in paris(which incidently is predominantly a jazz/improv label)
for me this expansive if shortish album covers so much ground its hard to give an accurate description… there are undoubtedly many affinities with that most experimental of krautrock bands faust, but also at times with pre post punk experimental rock bands like pere ubu, and free improv droners taj mahal travellers.

Ripped from the limited edition semi boot label “mellow records” I have no idea wether its still in print ,it was also simultaneously released by fractal records a few years ago.

Fille qui mousse ,means something like frothing young girl,( or foaming ), and the album is subtitled to keep quiet for a woman too beautiful (ce taire pour une femme trop belle)
This is one of the many little known gems of the 70’s French underground!! Up there with moving gelatin plates , magma, and lard free.

Hope y’all , Enjoy
Here are a few other reviews
This album has a srange history, but not as strange as the music it offers. Se taire pour une femme trop belle (Shutting up for a woman too pretty) is the first and only album to have been recorded by the French collective Fille Qui Mousse (Frothing Girl). It was recorded in July 1971 in a single day of studio time for the Futura label. Its release was cancelled due to the label struggling with financial problems, but about five test copies were pressed and “escaped” to build a cult status among collectors. The album was later released on CD by Mellow and Spalax, but it now appears that both reissues were illegal and misleading. In 2001 Fractal put out the first authorized reissue, with legitimate track titles and for the first time songwriting and performing credits. Was the music worth all that trouble ? It’s hard to say. This album is part tape experiment, part experimental psychedelia, part Krautrock. Some tracks are very strong and intriguing, but as a whole the album covers too much ground with too varying results to make a strong impression. Things start and finish with two good Krautrock-type jams (over the same riff) featuring guitarist Daniel Hoffmann, the rhythm section of Jean-Pierre and Dominique Lentin and soloing guests François Guildon guitar and Léo Sab violin, all directed by Henri-Jean Enu, the group’s mastermind. These two tracks account for 14 of the 35 minutes of running time. In-between are squeezed nine short pieces by Enu, Denis Gheerbrandt and Benjamin Legrand. “Amour-Gel” pairs a recitation in French with barking dogs and other field recordings. In “Derrière le Paravent” male voices are looped and strerched into a nagging drone. “Mirroir nagait dans le Lac du Bois de Boulogne” and “Tibhora-Parissalla” feature Legrand’s piano playing treated, edited and otherwise mauled with what the technology could offer at the time (mainly overubbing and applying razorblade to tape). You probably had to be there : for 1971 Fille Qui Mousse was far out, even more extreme than the Mothers of Invention. Today, fans of Neu! , Faust, the No-Neck Blues Band or Jackie-O Motherfuckers will find it entertaining.

François Couture August 2002 (USA)

In 1979 an album was released by a bunch of postpunk weirdoes who had never owned music instruments before they went into the studio one weekend to record it. Only five hundred copies of this record were made. Well, this isn't that record. This is even more obscure and strange. For years Fille Qui Mousse was known only as a name on the checklist of influential "electronic experimental music" that graced the aforementioned record, Nurse with Wound's Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella". Fille Qui Mousse never released an album - they recording one for the little known French Futura label in 1971 but its release was shelved and only ten test copies were ever made and the last known copy was sold for $3,000. Of such things are legends made, amongst obsessive record geeks, at least.
After two dubious appearances on different labels under the title Trixie Stapelton 231 and with incorrect track titles, the album finally has a fully authorized release, 31 years after it was recorded. I'm not sure who they expect to buy it, however The sort of person who feels a need for this sort of arcane, esoteric and willfully obscure racket will no doubt have already grabbed the earlier reissues and you'd need to be an obsessive of a very special genus to want to buy it again just for the definitive track listing - and a new cover showing a cat and a glass of beer.
But what about the actual music on this thing? Do the playful, experimental squeaks and clatter of 1971 have anything going for them today, beyond a quaint, nostalgic charm or mere curiosity value? Is it just another cacophonous diversion for those of us who get our kicks from disdaining everything contemporary, reasonable or popular, to play once or twice and then file away amongst all those other supposedly important classics of collectible avant-rock? Obviously it's not easy listening. It's not recognizable as rock music, not even if you stretch your parameters to include the wackiest stuff around today or yesterday. And unlike many of the German bands of the early 70s who were chasing their own freaky vision of hard (American) electronic rock out into space or deep into their own acid-tweaked heads, the almost unknown pioneers of avant guard 70s French rock - like Mahogany Brain, whose determination not to be able to play their instruments somehow gave them (in hindsight at least) a pristine, darkly poetic insouciance that made the Velvet Underground seem like Herman's Hermits - aspired to something that wasn't just anti-rock but flagrantly anti-music/non-music. Whether this was born of a genuine revolutionary spirit or just to épater les bourgeois probably no longer matters. Se taire pour une femme trop belle, is, ultimately, even after trying to place it in historical, cultural or goddamn psychogeographical context, just too detached from anything recognizable for me to be able to venture an opinion as to whether it's good or bad. It just is - slabs of sounds out of context, springs twanging, two-fingered piano abuse, detuned guitars, a few moments of gibberish chanting, dogs barking, some lackadaisical folksy jamming that opens and closes the album - and at its heart a single, unplaceable, inhuman shriek that goes on for at least six minutes and feels like it'll never end and probably causes brain damage no matter how quietly you play it. How does that sound to you?
Album of the year, undoubtable.
Nigel Richardson

Sunday, May 4, 2008

May 5, 1959

John Coltrane- Giant Steps

John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. Giant Steps
2. Cousin Mary
3. Countdown
4. Spiral
5. Syeeda's Song Flute
6. Naima
7. Mr. P.C.
8. Giant Steps (alt 1)
9. Naima (alt 1)
10. Cousin Mary (alt)
11. Countdown (alt)
12. Syeeda's Song Flute (alt)
13. Giant Steps (alt 2)
14. Naima (alt)
15. Giant Steps (alt)

May 5, 1959

Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um

Charles Mingus (bass)
Jimmy Knepper (trombone)
John Handy (alto sax, clarinet)
Booker Ervin (tenor sax)
Horace Parlan (piano)
Curtis Porter (alto, tenor sax)
Willie Dennis (trombone)
Dannie Richmond (drums)

1. Better Git It In Your Soul
2. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
3. Boogie Stop Shuffle
4. Self-Portrait In Three Colors
5. Open Letter To Duke
6. Bird Calls
7. Fables Of Faubus
8. Pussy Cat Dues
9. Jelly Roll

May 5, 1959

Teddy Wilson - Stomping At The Savoy

Strange as it seems, Teddy Wilson only made one record as a leader during 1960-66. His playing had not declined in the slightest, but the veteran swing pianist's style was overlooked in favor of newer players, and although still a household name in the jazz world, he was somewhat neglected. In 1967, with this excellent CD and its companion, Air Mail Special, Wilson returned to a more regular recording schedule. Recorded in London, this studio session finds Wilson joined by some fine English musicians (including clarinetist Dave Shepherd and vibraphonist Ronnie Gleaves) for a spirited runthrough of swing standards. Although the date on the CD says 1969, it is definitely 1967. ~ Scott Yanow

Teddy Wilson (piano)
Dave Shepherd (clarinet)
Ronnie Gleaves (vibes)
Peter Chapman (bass)
Johnny Richardson (drums)

1. Stomping At The Savoy
2. Moonglow
3. As Time Goes By
4. Honeysuckle Rose (Take 1)
5. Flying Home
6. I Can't Get Started
7. Sometimes I'm Happy
8. Body And Soul
9. I'll Never Be The Same
10. Easy Living
11. Green Dolphin Street
12. Honeysuckle Rose (Take 2)

Chappell Studios, London; June 18, 1969

Teddy Wilson

Jazzriz and I are presenting this as a collaboration which, we believe, brings us all of the Teddy Wilson dates in this particular series. Y'never know with them, though. Thanks, Jazzriz, for this petite bijou. (See? I speak Spanish fine!)

For this Classics CD (one in a series of Teddy Wilson releases that reissue all of the pianist's early recordings as a leader), Billie Holiday is featured on nine of the titles including "I'll Get By," "Mean to Me," "Foolin' Myself" and "Easy Living"; all of those gems also feature tenor saxophonist Lester Young. Much rarer are three songs with singer Helen Ward, a vocal by Frances Hunt ("Big Apple"), three by the forgotten vocalist Boots Castle and five instrumentals. It is a pity that the selections without Holiday were not reissued separately since the Lady Day performances are generally quite common. Such immortal sidemen are heard from as Young, trumpeters Cootie Williams, Harry James and Buck Clayton, altoist Johnny Hodges, baritonist Harry Carney and clarinetists Buster Bailey and Benny Goodman; this music is essential in one form or another. ~ Scott Yanow

Teddy Wilson (piano)
with Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges, Buck Clayton, Lester Young, Harry James, Buster Bailey, Billie Holiday, Helen Ward, Benny Goodman, Vido Musso, Freddie green, others

1-2,8-14: Billie Holiday (vocal)
4-6: Helen Ward (vocal)
16-18: Boots Castle (vocal)
20,22-23: Frances Hunt (vocal)

1. How Could You?
2. Moanin' Low
3. Fine and Dandy
4. There's a Lull in My Life
5. It's Swell of You
6. How Am I to Know?
7. I'm Coming Virginia
8. Sun Showers
9. Yours and Mine
10. I'll Get By
11. Mean to Me
12. Foolin' Myself
13. Easy Living
14. I'll Never Be the Same
15. I've Found a New Baby
16. You're My Desire
17. Remember Me
18. The Hour of Parting
19. Coquette
20. Big Apple
21. You Can't Stop Me from Dreaming
22. If I Had You
23. You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me
24. Ain't Misbehavin'

Chet Baker - Grey December

Two stray Chet Baker 10" titles and a few associated alternate takes are gathered on this single disc. Grey December is one of the better CD reissues featuring Baker's early-'50s recordings on Pacific Jazz, the purveyors of West Coast cool. The instrumental sides feature two septet sessions in December of 1953 and the vocal sextet session dates to February of 1955 -- all three of which feature Baker and pianist Russ Freeman. Rather than present these sides chronologically, the four vocal tracks precede the decidedly lengthier 1953 instrumental sessions -- a programming decision that works remarkably well. Enthusiasts of Baker's laid-back vocals should consider the February 1955 sessions as essential. The combination of Bud Shank's ethereal flute work when married to Baker's muted vocals create an intense burst of melancholy. The uneven tempo and minor chord progressions featured on the title track as well as "I Wish I Knew" are irresistible in their appeal to fans of the genre. Baker's soft-toned trumpet solos match his vocals in spirit and passion. Even the hapless optimism of "Someone to Watch Over Me" is tinged in noir pathos. A much more traditional setting for Baker can be heard on the septet sides. Although the instinctual interaction between Baker and Freeman shines throughout, "Headline," "Moonlight Becomes You," and the up-tempo swinger "A Dandy Line" best exemplify everything positive about that musical relationship. The pair intertwine their melodies so closely and carefully it can be difficult to separate them. On the CD pressing, alternate takes of "Bockhanal," "A Dandy Line," "Little Old Lady," "Moonlight Becomes You," and "Goodbye" are also included. ~ Lindsay Planer

Chet Baker (trumpet, vocal)
Bud Shank (flute)
Russ Freeman (piano)
Red Mitchell (bass)
Bob Neal (drums)
Frank Campo, Johnny Mandel, Marty Paich (arr)
Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA, February 28, 1955

Chet Baker (trumpet)
Herb Geller (alto and tenor sax)
Jack Montrose (tenor sax)
Bob Gordon (baritone sax)
Russ Freeman (piano)
Joe Mondragon (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)
Capitol Studios, Hollywood, California, December 14, 1953 (5-10
and December 22, 1953 (11-17)

1. Grey December
2. I Wish I Knew
3. Someone To Watch Over Me
4. This Is Always
5. Headline
6. Ergo
7. Bockhanal
8. Bockhanal (alt)
9. A Dandy Line
10. A Dandy Line (alt)
11. Pro Defunctus
12. Little Old Lady
13. Little Old Lady (alt)
14. Moonlight Becomes You
15. Moonlight Becomes You (alt)
16. Goodbye
17. Goodbye (alt)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Larry Young - Young Blues

Organist Larry Young's second recording (cut shortly before he turned 20) is the best from his early period before he completely shook off the influence of Jimmy Smith. With guitarist Thornel Schwartz in top form, and bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Jimmie Smith excellent in support, Young swings hard on a few recent jazz originals, some blues and two standards ("Little White Lies" and "Nica's Dream"). Recommended as a good example of his pre-Blue Note work. ~ Scott Yanow

If Jimmy Smith was "the Charlie Parker of the organ," Larry Young was its John Coltrane. One of the great innovators of the mid- to late '60s, Young fashioned a distinctive modal approach to the Hammond B-3 at a time when Smith's earthy, blues-drenched soul-jazz style was the instrument's dominant voice. Initially, Young was very much a Smith admirer himself. After playing with various R&B bands in the 1950s and being featured as a sideman with tenor saxman Jimmy Forrest in 1960, Young debuted as a leader that year with Testifying, which, like his subsequent soul-jazz efforts for Prestige, Young Blues (1960), and Groove Street, (1962), left no doubt that Smith was his primary inspiration. But when Young went to Blue Note in 1964, he was well on his way to becoming a major innovator. Coltrane's post-bop influence asserted itself more and more in Young's playing and composing, and his work grew much more cerebral and exploratory. Unity, recorded in 1965, remains his best-known album. Quick to embrace fusion, Young played with Miles Davis in 1969, John McLaughlin in 1970, and Tony Williams' groundbreaking Lifetime in the early '70s. Unfortunately, his work turned uneven and erratic as the '70s progressed. Young was only 38 when, in 1978, he checked into the hospital suffering from stomach pains, and died from untreated pneumonia. The Hammond hero's work for Blue Note (as both a leader and a sideman) was united for Mosaic's limited-edition six-CD box set The Complete Blue Note Recordings. ~ Alex Henderson

Larry Young (organ)
Thornel Schwartz (guitar)
Wendell Marshall (bass)
Jimmy Smith (drums)

1. Young Blues
2. A Midnight Angel
3. African Blues
4. Little White Lies
5. Minor Dream
6. Something New/Something Blue
7. Nica's Dream

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: September 30, 1960

Teddy Wilson - 1939-1941 (Chronological 620)

Check the older posts; this is the fifth Teddy Wilson Chrono that we've posted.

This segment of the Teddy Wilson chronology contains 23 recordings made for the Columbia label in New York and Chicago between December 11, 1939 and September 16, 1941. The first eight tracks showcase Wilson's 12-piece big band, using arrangements by Wilson, Edgar Sampson and Buster Harding. This unusually upsized version of the Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra had Doc Cheatham and Harold "Shorty" Baker in the trumpet section, Ben Webster and Rudy Powell among the reeds, and Al Casey and J.C. Heard playing rhythm. Those who are accustomed to Wilson's customary small group sound will find this material pleasantly, perhaps surprisingly different from the norm. In December of 1940 Wilson led an octet with Bill Coleman, Benny Morton and Jimmy Hamilton in the front line. Four piano solos and four trio sides with Al Hall and J.C. Heard were cut in Chicago during April of 1941. Teddy Wilson's sextet (Emmett Berry, Morton, Hamilton, bassist Johnny Williams and Heard) made three recordings on September 16, 1941; only "Out of Nowhere" was originally issued, although "Prisoner of Love" was drafted into service as a V-Disc during the Second World War. This excellent compilation includes vocals by Lena Horne, Jean Eldridge, Helen Ward and J.C. Heard, whose expert drumming and call-and-response interaction with the band place "Wham (Re Bop Boom Bam)" among the hottest and hippest selections in the entire Teddy Wilson discography. ~ arwulf arwulf

Teddy Wilson (piano)
Lena Horne (vocals)
Bill Coleman (trumpet)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Doc Cheatham (trumpet)
Al Casey (guitar)
Benny Morton (trombone)
Helen Ward (vocals)
Harold Baker (trumpet)
Emmett Berry (trumpet)

1. Wham (Re Bop Boom Bam)
2. Sweet Lorraine
3. Moon Ray
4. Liza
5. Crying My Soul Out For You
6. In The Mood
7. Cocoanut Grove
8. 71
9. I Never Knew
10. Embraceable You
11. But Not For Me
12. Oh, Lady Be Good
13. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
14. Rosetta
15. I Know That You Know
16. Them There Eyes
17. China Boy
18. I Surrender, Dear
19. Body And Soul
20. I Can't Get Started
21. Out Of Nowhere
22. Prisoner Of Love
23. The Sheik Of Araby

Lionel Hampton - Apollo Hall Concert 1954

After my Friday Fusion post yesterday, it's time for some Saturday Swing. I just picked this LP up the other day at a thrift store for 99 cents with both the record and jacket in M- condition. Not a bad deal as this is the original 1955 Epic release, has never been on CD and has a book value of $50. I couldn't find a good scan of the cover so I just took a photo. The other cover is from the 2nd issue on UK Philips released sometime in the sixties.

The title is a little misleading as only one song was recorded at the Apollo Hall (in Amsterdam) and the rest were from a concert in Germany. I had to do some real digging on the net to find the full personnel as the liner notes only mention a few of the players. The big band is not featured much and most of the time it's Hampton's vibe solos with the rhythm section (this is not necessarily a bad thing!). Although Hamp, like most players from the swing era, sticks with the basic chord progressions during his solos, one listen to "Stardust" will remind you that he was truly a master of his instrument. Also check out Bobby Platter's alto sax feature on "Lover Man". The only "up" tunes are "How High the Moon", "Vibe Boogie" and the obligatory "Flying Home" with everything in between done in a more relaxed ballad style.

On buying used records - there was a time (15+ years ago) when all of the shops I frequented sold their albums based on the condition of the vinyl and cover and most would go for 1-5 dollars. Alas, some of them started realizing what they had and began charging "collectors" prices based on the book value. Oh well, there are still some great bargains out there but they don't come across very often anymore.

Lionel Hampton (vibes)
Nat Adderley, Bill Brooks, Wallace Davenport, Ed Mullens (trumpet)
Leon Comegys, Buster Cooper, Hal Roberts (trombone)
Jay Dennis (alto sax) Bobby Platter (alto sax, flute)
Elwyn Frazier, Jay Peters (tenor sax) Joe Evans (bari sax)
Dwike Mitchell (piano) Billy Mackel (guitar)
Peter Bradie (bass) Rufus Jones or Wilford Eddleton (drums)
  1. How High the Moon
  2. Stardust
  3. Lover Man
  4. Midnight Sun
  5. Love Is Here to Stay
  6. The Nearness of You
  7. Vibe Boogie
  8. Flying Home
Stardust was recorded at the Apollo Hall, Amsterdam on October 28, 1954
The rest of the concert was recorded in Germany several days later.

Betty Davis - Betty Davis

I bought this in vinyl years ago, because of the cover, but never really checked it out. The damn cover was entertaining enough. Still, the members of the band seemed to indicate that this could be serious. I then read about her in Miles' autobiography. So, when I saw the CD at a friends house it became clear that it must appear here

" Her first record, Betty Davis, was released in 1973. It had impressive lyrics and funky grooves on songs such as "Anti Love Song," as well as an impressive list of musicians:

* Neal Schon (Journey) - guitar
* Gregg Errico (Sly & The Family Stone) - drums
* Larry Graham (Sly & The Family Stone and Graham Central Station) - bass
* Patryce Banks (Graham Central Station) - percussion
* Willie Sparks (Graham Central Station) - drums
* Hershall Kennedy (Graham Central Station) - horns
* Greg Adams (Tower of Power) - horns
* Mic Gillette (Tower of Power) - horns
* Pointer Sisters

1. If I'm In Luck I Might Get Picked Up
2. Walkin Up The Road
3. Anti Love Song
4. Your Man My Man
5. Ooh Yeah
6. Steppin In Her I. Miller Shoes
7. Game Is My Middle Name
8. In The Meantime

Jean-Luc Ponty - King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa

Not just an album of interpretations, King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa was an active collaboration; Frank Zappa arranged all of the selections, played guitar on one, and contributed a new, nearly 20-minute orchestral composition for the occasion. Made in the wake of Ponty's appearance on Zappa's jazz-rock masterpiece Hot Rats, these 1969 recordings were significant developments in both musicians' careers. In terms of jazz-rock fusion, Zappa was one of the few musicians from the rock side of the equation who captured the complexity -- not just the feel -- of jazz, and this project was an indicator of his growing credibility as a composer. For Ponty's part, King Kong marked the first time he had recorded as a leader in a fusion-oriented milieu (though Zappa's brand of experimentalism didn't really foreshadow Ponty's own subsequent work). Of the repertoire, three of the six pieces had previously been recorded by the Mothers of Invention, and "Twenty Small Cigars" soon would be. Ponty writes a Zappa-esque theme on his lone original "How Would You Like to Have a Head Like That," where Zappa contributes a nasty guitar solo. The centerpiece, though, is obviously "Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra," a new multi-sectioned composition that draws as much from modern classical music as jazz or rock. It's a showcase for Zappa's love of blurring genres and Ponty's versatility in handling everything from lovely, simple melodies to creepy dissonance, standard jazz improvisation to avant-garde, nearly free group passages. In the end, Zappa's personality comes through a little more clearly (his compositional style pretty much ensures it), but King Kong firmly established Ponty as a risk-taker and a strikingly original new voice for jazz violin. ~ Steve Huey

Jean-Luc Ponty (violin, baritone violectra)
Ian Underwood (alto, tenor sax, conductor)
George Duke (piano)
Frank Zappa (guitar)
Gene Estes (vibraphone)
Buell Neidlinger (bass)
Wilton Felder (bass)
Art Tripp (drums)

1. King Kong
2. Idiot Bastard Son
3. Twenty Small Cigars
4. How Would You Like To Have A Head Like That
5. Music For Electric Violin And Low Budget Orchestra
6. America Drinks And Goes Home

Paul Motian Quintet - Misterioso

The title track here is good choice, for the entire album is very agreeably 'misterioso', with this lineup you can understand why:

Jim Pepper - tenor and soprano sax
Joe Lovano - tenor sax
Bill Frisell - electric guitar
Ed Schuller - bass

2 tunes by Monk enrich 7 originals by the leader, recorded in Milano Italy, July 1986. A scarce Soulnote LP —> LAME vbr0

Friday, May 2, 2008

Weather Report - 8:30 (1979)

Ever since I put up an album at the end of March by the late seventies band Matrix, I've been thinking of posting some jazz fusion each Friday. Don't hesitate to comment with your thoughts - Thumbs up? Down? No comment means "I don't really give a shit". I know there are already some excellent blogs that feature this genre but the difference here is that we mostly post in flac. Just another choice for y'all.

The kind of "fusion" I'm talking about stems from the classic Miles Davis In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson sessions and continued with Weather Report, John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea/Return to Forever, Tony Williams Lifetime, etc. I think the word "fusion" ended up getting a bum rap when so many people started to dilute the music from its pureness and creativity and it became associated with a sort of instrumental R&B now known as "smooth" jazz (which I also call "pop" jazz). You won't get any of that from me, just what I consider "honest" music, played from the heart and containing the kind of freedom of expression (improvisation) that we all love so much.

For this Friday I chose one of my favorite releases by Weather Report. If you're a fan, you already have this. Otherwise, I think this is the best album to introduce someone to the music of this seminal band. Originally a 2-LP set, this 1994 release left out one song to get it on one CD. There was a Japanese 2-CD issue in 2001 that included the missing "Scarlet Woman".

"8:30 was one of my favorite records that we ever made! I love this record! I think at that point we had reached the height...that 'live' tour...every night was an event." - Joe Zawinul

Wayne Shorter (soprano, tenor sax)
Joe Zawinul (keys)
Jaco Pastorius (bass, drums)
Peter Erskine (drums, percussion)
  1. Black Market
  2. Teen Town
  3. A Remark You Made
  4. Slang
  5. In a Silent Way
  6. Birdland
  7. Thanks for the Memory
  8. Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz Medley
  9. 8:30
  10. Brown Street
  11. The Orphan
  12. Sightseeing

Chet Baker - Chet Baker Big Band

This highly enjoyable 1993 CD issue compiles the original six-song Chet Baker Sextet 10" EP as well as the Chet Baker Big Band 12" album. Although these two sessions were held more than two years apart, this was due primarily to an extended European tour during the intervening months and Baker's obvious unavailability stateside. Releasing an entire album under the moniker Chet Baker Big Band is a bit of a misnomer, as only the first four sides actually incorporate an 11-person configuration. The remaining tracks from the long-player feature a slightly smaller nonet configuration. Among the luminaries joining Baker (trumpet) and participating in the big-band arrangements are Art Pepper (alto sax), Bud Shank (alto sax), Phil Urso (tenor sax), and Bobby Timmons (piano). The critical argument proposing that Baker's style is more akin to bop -- and the residual post-bop -- than the West Coast cool that he is often connected with gets tremendous validation throughout not only the four big-band tracks, but also the remainder of the album. The band bops with tremendous verve behind Baker's unmistakable leads. Jimmy Heath's ultra-hip arrangements -- especially of "Tenderly" and "A Foggy Day" -- allow the soloists to improvise fluidly from within the context of the larger unit. The Pierre Michelot composition "Mythe" is notable for some outstanding soloing from Baker and Timmons. It is a shame that poor master tape editing -- a motif that haunts many Dick Bock productions -- mars the overall aesthetic. Of the nonet sides, the band really jumps and responds best to the original compositions such as Phil Urso's "Phil's Blues" and "V-Line." The horn blend on these recordings is likewise striking. Somewhat out of place are the Chet Baker Sextet cuts. They retain the more familiar Chet Baker West Coast cool combo featuring Bud Shank (baritone sax), Russ Freeman (piano), and Shelly Manne (drums). "Tommyhawk" as well as an inspired cover of "I'm Glad There Is You" are among the best bets from the EP. ~ Lindsay Planer

Chet Baker, Conte Candoli, Norman Faye (trumpet)
Frank Rosolino (trombone)
Art Pepper, Bud Shank (alto sax)
Bill Perkins, Phil Urso (ts)
Bobby Timmons (piano)
James Bond (bass)
Lawrence Marable (drums)
Los Angeles, October 26, 1956

Chet Baker (trumpet)
Bob Burgess (trombone)
Fred Waters (alto sax)
Phil Urso (alto, tenor, baritone sax)
Bob Graf (tenor sax)
Bill Hood (baritone sax)
Bobby Timmons (piano)
Jimmy Bond (bass)
Peter Littman (drums)
Los Angeles, October 18, 1956

Chet Baker (trumpet)
Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone)
Bud Shank (baritone sax)
Russ Freeman (piano)
Carson Smith (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)
Los Angeles, September 9 and 15, 1954

1. Tenderly
2. A Foggy Day
3. Darn That Dream
4. Mythe
5. Chet
6. Not Too Slow
7. Phil's Blues
8. Dinah
9. V-Line
10. Worrying The Life Out Of Me
11. Little Man You've Had A Busy Day
12. Dot's Groovy
13. Stella By Starlight
14. Tommyhawk
15. I'm Glad There Is You
16. The Half Dozens

Art Pepper - The Complete Village Vanguard Sessions

Well, not all at once. I mean, everythings ripped and pretty much uploaded, but rather than take a chance of having everything "Dutchboyed" at once, I'll post them as the three nights, which is three CDs per installment. This is the three Saturday night shows done on July 28, 1977. Full scans etc., included. You know how we do.

"Devoted fans of alto saxophonist Art Pepper share a fascination with Chet Baker fans. They find Pepper's excesses, so flatly confessed in his autobiography, Straight Life, great fodder for intense listening--which they are. Pepper had a rare talent for playing as if his horn were a lens on his torment. He played cushioned, cool melodies in the California jazz heyday and then went off to prison and hardscrabble years as an infamous heroin addict. By the time he performed the music on this massive nine-CD set, Pepper had made several comebacks, the latest of which was heroic--if fueled by chemicals and a furious need to prove himself during the Vanguard gigs caught here uninterrupted. The music bristles, whether in the pretty anguish of a solo-sax "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" or the numerous mad-charging bop heads Pepper tackles as if they were his last meals. He makes an ass of himself with some of the between-song banter, but it's all part of the big picture. For all the thorns and warts and complications, that picture shows unabated, undiluted, and unquenchable musical chops to burn here. The liner essay tells the whole sordid tale of Pepper gone from prison to a halfway house to a late-1970s rebound that urged some of his best music. If this lavish box, with its repetitions of tunes (all the takes, however, differ radically) is too much, try the individual volumes." --Andrew Bartlett

Art Pepper (alto and tenor sax, clarinet)
George Cables (piano)
George Mraz (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

CD 1
1. Spoken Introduction
2. Blues For Heard
3. Spoken Introduction
4. Scrapple From the Apple
5. Spoken Introduction
6. But Beautiful
7. Spoken Introduction
8. My Friend John
9. Spoken Introduction
10. Cherokee - (previously unreleased)
11. Blues For Heard - (previously unreleased)

CD 2
1. Spoken Introduction
2. For Freddie - (previously unreleased)
3. Spoken Introduction
4. Valse Triste
5. Spoken Introduction
6. Live at the Vanguard - (previously unreleased)
7. Spoken Introduction
8. Caravan - (previously unreleased)
9. Blues For Heard - (previously unreleased)

CD 3
1. Spoken Introduction
2. Over the Rainbow
3. Spoken Introduction
4. The Trip
5. Blues For Les
6. A Night in Tunisia

Chico Hamilton - The Gamut

Yet another Chico Hamilton LP that hasn't been brought up to date with a CD-issue. This one was produced by Chico, and features
Stephen Potts - alto sax
Russell Andrews - tenor sax
Jimmy Cleveland - first trombone
Britt Woodman - second trombone
William Campbell - thrid trombone
Jimmy Cheatham - bass trombone & arrangements
Jackie Arnold - voice
Jan Arnett - bass
Danny Banks - flutes

As usual, LP—>LAME3.98 vbr0 and scans

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Gerald Wilson Orchestra - State Street Swing

The boxed set collection of Gerald Wilson's Pacific Jazz years on Mosaic was fabulous. Some jazz fans may not know that Wilson is still active with his big band and has recorded a number of fine discs in recent years. Here is one from 1995 when Wilson was "only" 76 years old! Scoredaddy

Bandleader/arranger Gerald Wilson's first recording in several years is a success. He revisits "Carlos" (featuring trumpeter Ron Barrows) and "Lighthouse Blues" and performs some newer originals including "State Street Sweet," "Lakeshore Drive" and "Jammin' in C." With such soloists as trumpeters Barrows, Bobby Shew, Tony Lujan and Snooky Young, altoist Randall Willis, tenors Louis Taylor, Plas Johnson (showcased on "Come Back to Sorrento") and Carl Randall, pianist Brian O'Rourke and guitarists Anthony Wilson and Eric Otis, this edition of the Gerald Wilson Orchestra is quite strong but it is the leader's colorful and distinctive arrangements that give the band its personality. Recommended. Scott Yanow

Gerald Wilson, Arranger, Conductor
Ron Barrows, Trumpet
Bobby Clark, Trumpet
George Graham, Trumpet
Thurman Green, Trombone
Trey Henry, Bass
Alexander Iles, Trombone
Plas Johnson, Sax (Tenor)
Mel Lee, Drums
Charles Loper, Trombone
Tony Lujan, Trumpet
Ira Nepus, Trombone
Jack Nimitz, Sax (Baritone)
Brian O'Rourke, Piano
Carl Randall, Jr., Sax (Tenor)
Bobby Shew, Trumpet
Maurice Spears, Trombone (Bass)
John Stephens, Sax (Alto)
Frank Szabo, Trumpet
Louis Taylor, Jr. ,Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor)
Randall Willis, Sax (Alto)
Anthony Wilson, Guitar
Snooky Young, Trumpet

1 State Street Sweet 2:46
2 Lake Shore Drive 6:04
3 Lighthouse Blues 7:48
4 Come Back to Sorrento (DeCurtis) 5:19
5 The Serpent 4:03
6 The Feather 5:54
7 Caprichos 6:28
8 Jammin' in C 8:47
9 Carlos 6:35
10 Nancy Jo 2:21

All compositions by Gerald Wilson except as noted

Recorded at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA in 1995

Paul Horn - Something Blue

Funny how things work. This artist was one of the ones featured on the sampler which the contest "questions" were drawn from. I only knew his later stuff, where he played flute in the Taj Mahal and such. While nice, it didn't set me on fire. So when I saw this while shopping the other day, I knew I'd have to get it. It was also a request from one of the contest winners, so here's a belated winning choice. Funny how things work, as a wise and stunningly beautiful man once said.

Not agreeing with Yanow entirely, I include his review:

Years before Paul Horn became famous for his pioneering new age and mood music albums, he was an adventurous bop-based improviser trying to create an alternative to the hard bop music of the era. On this CD reissue of a set cut for Hi Fi, Horn plays alto, flute and clarinet on six complex originals (four are by the leader) in a quintet with vibraphonist Emil Richards, pianist Paul Moer, bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Billy Higgins. All of the music is pretty episodic with tricky frameworks and some unusual time signatures being utilized. The results are generally stimulating if rarely all that relaxed; Richards is actually the most impressive soloist on the interesting if often dry release. ~ Scott Yanow

Paul Horn (clarinet, alto, flute)
Paul Moer (piano)
Jimmy Bond (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)
Emil Richards (vibes)

1. Dun-Dunnee
2. Tall Polynesian
3. Mr. Bond
4. Fremptz
5. Something Blue
6. Half And Half

Recorded March 1960

Bethlehem 40

The Herbie Mann-Sam Most Quintet

This 1999 CD reissues an early Herbie Mann set that matches him with his fellow flutist, Sam Most. Originally, this date was known as The Mann With the Most. Recorded back during Mann's bebop period, the set teams the two flutists with guitarist Joe Puma, bassist Jimmy Gannon and drummer Lee Kleinman. The quintet performs nine standards plus an original apiece from Most and Puma. Highlights include "Fascinating Rhythm," "Let's Get Away from It All" and "Seven Come Eleven." Most was actually the better known of the two flutists at the time but, while he ended up in the Los Angeles studios, Mann's constant musical curiosity would result in him gaining worldwide fame. Their enjoyable music, brought back by Avenue Jazz, finds the flutists battling it out to a draw. ~ Scott Yanow

Herbie Mann (flute)
Sam Most (flute)
Joe Puma (guitar)
Jimmy Gannon (bass)
Lee Kleinman (drums)

1. Fascinating Rhythm
2. Why Do I Love You?
3. It's Only Sunshine
4. Love Letters
5. Let's Get Away from It All
6. Flying Home
7. I'll Remember April
8. Empathy
9. It Might as Well Be Spring
10. Just One of Those Things
11. Seven Comes Eleven

NYC, October 12 and 17, 1955

Chick Corea - Remembering Bud Powell (1997)

Haven't seen much from Chick Corea at this site and I don't know if it's because everyone already has most of his recordings or if he just isn't cared for. Personally, he is one of my favorite musicians and I enjoy just about everything he's done over the years. This session is one that I have listened to many times and would have loved to see this group perform live. Especially with Roy Haynes!

"Pianist Chick Corea in 1996 gathered together some notable young all-stars (tenor-saxophonist Joshua Redman, trumpeter Wallace Roney, altoist Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride, plus veteran drummer Roy Haynes) for explorations of tunes by the innovative pianist Bud Powell. Although "Bouncin' With Bud," "Tempus Fugit" and "Celia" have been occasionally recorded by others, most of the complex songs (including "Mediocre," "Dusk In Sandi," "Oblivion" and "Glass Enclosure") have rarely been played in recent decades. Rather than play revivalist bebop, Corea and his associates (after authentically stating the melody) perform modern post bop improvisations in their own styles, so much of the music is way beyond bop. In addition to nine Powell songs, Corea contributed a song rightfully titled "Bud Powell." All of the talented musicians have a fair amount of solo space and sound consistently inspired, making this a very successful and easily recommended project." - Scott Yanow

Chick Corea (piano)
Christian McBride (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)
Wallace Roney (trumpet)
Kenny Garrett (alto sax)
Joshua Redman (tenor sax)
  1. Bouncin' With Bud
  2. Mediocre
  3. Willow Grove
  4. Dusk in Sandi
  5. Oblivion
  6. Bud Powell
  7. I'll Keep Loving You
  8. Glass Enclosure
  9. Tempus Fugit
  10. Celia

Tony Bennett - The Many Moods of Tony

Tony Bennett's Columbia Records contract in the 1960s called for three albums a year, and the result was occasional releases like this one, whose title gives away the truth: it's a hodgepodge of previously released singles ("Spring In Manhattan," "Don't Wait Too Long," "The Little Boy") and sessions held at various times with various arrangers and musicians, all stitched together to meet the release schedule. What rescues it is a remarkable new ballad, "When Joanna Loved Me," that immediately went onto the Bennett concert short list. He even named his daughter after it. Other highlights are a delicate arrangement of "A Taste Of Honey" and one of Bennett's patented drum duets with Chico Hamilton on "Caravan." But on the whole, this album does not meet the standard Bennett had set with recent releases. William Ruhlmann

An interesting sidelight to this album is the fact that a few of the tracks (“Soon It’s Gonna Rain”, “You’ve Changed” and “Caravan”) were recorded for a Bennett album called On The Glory Road (arranged and conducted by Ralph Sharon), which was purported to be released in 1962 and shows up on EVERY Bennett discography. However, there seems to be NO evidence whatsoever that the album even exists. I have never actually seen the album nor has anyone I’ve spoken to (among them Bennett’s biographer Will Friedwald ). “Speak Low”, “A Foggy Day”, “The Lamp Is Low” and “I Love You” are some of the, as of yet, unheard tracks from that mystery album.

Many of the arrangements on Many Moods were done by the excellent pianist Dick Hyman, who does a credible job here… too bad he did not do more work with Bennett. Hyman is better known for his soundtrack work on a dozen or so film collaborations with Woody Allen. Another tasty factoid is that the orchestra on “So Long, Big Time” was conducted by the composer of the song, Harold Arlen. Scoredaddy

Tony Bennett (vocals)
Dick Hyman (arr #1,3,5,7,10,12, and organ solo on #12)
Marty Manning (arr #2,6)
Ralph Sharon (arr #4,8,11)
Don Costa (arr #9)
Bobby Hackett (cornet #5,11)
Chico Hamilton (drums #8)

1. The Little Boy
2. When Joanna Loved Me
3. A Taste of Honey
4. Soon It’s Gonna Rain
5. The Kid’s A Dreamer
6. So Long, Big Time!
7. Don’t Wait Too Long
8. Caravan
9. Spring In Manhattan
10. I’ll Be Around
11. You’ve Changed
12. Limehouse Blues

Recorded at Columbia’s 30th Street studio, New York City on March 13, 1962 (11), March 16, 1962 (4,8), April 8, 1963 (9), September 11, 1963 (3,7,12), September 17, 1963 (2,6), November 6, 1963 (1,5,10)

Al DiMeola - DiMeola Plays Piazzolla (1990)

Review by Alex Henderson

Latin music has been a strong influence on Al Di Meola since his early years, and in the '90s, he paid especially close attention to the music of Argentina. A welcome addition to his already impressive catalog, Di Meola Plays Piazzolla pays homage to the late Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolla (whose distinctive and very poetic brand of romanticism was considered quite daring and radical in Argentina). It would have been easy for an artist to allow his own personality to become obscured when saluting Piazzolla's legacy, but the charismatic Di Meola is too great an improviser to let that happen. Though his reverence for Piazzolla comes through loud and clear on these haunting classics, there's no mistaking the fact that this is very much an Al Di Meola project.

1- Oblivion (Piazzolla)
2- Café 1930 (Piazzolla)
3- Tango Suite Part I (Piazzolla)
4- Tango Suite Part III (Piazzolla)
5- Verano Reflections (Piazzolla-DiMeola)
6- Night Club 1960 (Piazzolla)
7- Tango I (Piazzolla)
8- Bordel 1900 (Piazzolla)
9- Milonga del Angel (Piazzolla)
10- Last Tango For Astor (DiMeola)

Buenos Aires 8 - Timeless

This post and my next one are a homage to Scoredaddy for his great work in bringing us Piazzolla's Edicion Critica. These recordings are different approachs to Piazzolla's music. I hope you don't think there is too much Piazzolla here already. His music always deserve to be heard.

Buenos Aires 8 is (was, maybe) a eight male-female vocal group, in the way of the Swingle Singers, their voices replacing the instruments and backed by a bass and percussion. I first bought this as a LP, in 1974, with the name of Buenos Aires Hora 8. Many years later, I found this CD, with the same selection , renamed Timeless and with another cover. In the back of the LP, there is a handwritten note by Piazzolla, which says: "I am exposing my impressions about Buenos Aires 8 by the only reason that they are really notable. Our own music begins a new sonic age. This is the best way to hierarchize tango. With quality. This will prevail".

1- Fuga y Misterio
2- Adios Noniño
3- Lo Que Vendra
4- Buenos Aires Hora Cero
5- Verano Porteño
6- Decarisimo
7- Milonga del Angel
8- La Muerte del Angel
9- Resurreccion del Angel
10- Calambre

Kenny Burrell - Jazzmen Detroit

Another of the great Denon releases. These are usually mono releases, and are remastered to great standards. Many Beatles collectors prefer mono versions to stereo; listening to these, I understand why.

There isn't a lot of information on this issue. All of the players - with the exception of Klook - are Detroit natives. Tommy Flanagan appears here in his fourth recording date. His first was with Kenny Burrell also. The one before this was released as a Miles Davis session - Collector's Items. Not bad for a 26 year old

" Kenny Burrell has been a very consistent guitarist throughout his career. Cool-toned and playing in an unchanging style based in bop, Burrell has always been the epitome of good taste and solid swing. Duke Ellington's favorite guitarist (though he never actually recorded with him), Burrell started playing guitar when he was 12, and he debuted on records with Dizzy Gillespie in 1951. Part of the fertile Detroit jazz scene of the early '50s, Burrell moved to New York in 1956. Highly in demand from the start, Burrell appeared on a countless number of records as a leader and as a sideman. Among his more notable associations were dates with Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, Milt Jackson, John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Stanley Turrentine, and Jimmy Smith. " Scott Yanow

Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Pepper Adams (baritone sax)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)

1. Afternoon In Paris
2. You Turned The Tables On Me
3. Apothegm
4. Your Host
5. Cotton Tail
6. Tom's Thumb

1-3 in NYC, on April 30, 1956
4-6 in NYC, on May 9, 1956

Chet Baker - Picture Of Heath

I just learned that Phil Urso passed away about two weeks ago. I can't say that I knew much about him, but I still think it right to invoke his name and memory.

These Halloween 1956 sides originally appeared as Playboys in 1961 on Pacific Jazz. Myth and rumor persist that, under legal advice from the publisher of a similarly named magazine, the collection would have to be retitled. When the CD version of the same material was issued in the early '90s, it had been accurately christened Picture of Heath -- as more than half of the tracks are Jimmy Heath compositions. Since then, a CD version sporting the original provocative '50s pinup cover and the name Playboys has also surfaced. Regardless of title, however, the music is the absolute same. These are the third sessions to feature the dynamic duo of Art Pepper (alto sax) and Chet Baker (trumpet). Their other two meetings had produced unequivocal successes. The first was during a brief July 1956 session at the Forum Theater in L.A. Baker joined forces with epper's sextet, ultimately netting material for the disc Route. Exactly three months to the day later, Pepper and Baker reconvened to record tracks for the Chet Baker Big Band album. The quartet supporting Baker and Pepper on Playboys includes Curtis Counce (bass), Phil Urso (tenor sax), Carl Perkins (piano), and Larance Marable (drums). Baker and Pepper have an instinctual rapport that yields outstanding interplay. The harmony constant throughout the practically inseparable lines that Baker weaves with Pepper drives the bop throughout the slinky "For Minors Only." The soloists take subtle cues directly off each other, with considerable contributions from Perkins, Counce, and Marable. With the notorious track record both Baker and Pepper had regarding other decidedly less successful duets, it is unfortunate that more recordings do not exist that captured their special bond. These thoroughly enjoyable and often high-energy sides are perfect for bop connoisseurs as well as mainstream jazz listeners. ~ Lindsay Planer

Chet Baker (trumpet)
Art Pepper (alto sax)
Phil Urso (tenor sax)
Carl Perkins (piano)
Curtis Counce (bass)
Lawrence Marable (drums)

1. Picture Of Heath
2. For Miles And Miles
3. C.T.A.
4. For Minors Only
5. Minor Yours
6. Resonant Emotions
7. Tynan Time

Recorded at Radio Recorders, Los Angeles, California on October 31, 1956