Sunday, May 31, 2009

Paul Chambers - Whims Of Chambers

A vinyl rip of this can be found here, thanks to Jazz-Nekko:

The line-up for this session is impressive:
Paul Chambers, bass
John Coltrane, tenor saxophone
Donald Byrd, trumpet
Horace Silver, piano
Kenny Burrell, guitar
Philly Joe Jones, drums

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on September 21, 1956.
Digitally tranfered by Ron McMaster, 1996

1. Omicron (Donald Byrd) 7:15
2. Whims Of Chambers (Paul Chambers) 4:03
3. Nita (John Coltrane) 6:03
4. We Six (Donald Byrd) 7:39
5. Dear Ann (Paul Chambers) 4:18
6. Tale Of The Fingers (Paul Chambers) 4:41
7. Just For The Love (John Coltrane) 3:41

Cozy Cole - 1944-1945 (Chronological 865)

The recent Krupa Chrono found a swing drummer dealing with the latest thing: bop. Here's a similar situation. Note the recording debut of Shorty Rogers.

This Classics CD reissues drummer Cozy Cole's sessions for Continental, Keynote, and Guild, most of which have been out of print for years. The two Continental dates feature overlapping all-star groups (with trumpeter Charlie Shavers, clarinetist Hank D'Amico, Coleman Hawkins, Walter "Foots" Thomas, and/or Don Byas on tenors, Clyde Hart or Johnny Guarnieri on piano, guitarist Tiny Grimes, bassist Slam Stewart, and the drummer/leader), but are sometimes a bit frustrating. Since every player is a potential soloist and the performances are limited to around three minutes apiece, the solos are almost cameos, generally eight or 16 bars apiece. The most memorable spot, Hawkins' exploration of "When Day Is Done," finds the great tenor doing what he can with his half chorus. The Keynote session is most notable for Don Byas' solos and for the recording debut of 20-year-old trumpeter Shorty Rogers. The Guild sides have Byas well showcased in a quintet, two extensive drum features ("Stompin" and "Strictly Drums"), and three dramatic vocals from June Hawkins. Overall, this is an interesting and enjoyable CD -- swing music with slight touches of bop. ~ Scott Yanow

A few interesting guest spots do stand out, notably from Don Byas and from Coleman Hawkins, who delivers a brusquely brilliant solo on 'When Day Is Done'. There is also an opportunity to catch the still-teenage Shorty Rogers, making his recording debut on the 1944 sides and, so far as can be judged, sounding very confident. Though essentially swing performances, the frantic pace and bomb-dropping bass accents suggest that bebop really is just around the corner. ~ Penguin Guide

Cozy Cole (drums)
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Don Byas (tenor sax)
Shorty Rogers (trumpet)
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Billy Taylor (piano)
Johnny Guamieri (piano)
Tiny Grimes (guitar)
Slam Stewart (bass)

1. Willow Weep For Me
2. Look Here
3. I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You
4. Take It On Back
5. Memories Of You
6. Comes The Don
7. When Day Is Done
8. The Beat
9. Lover Come Back To Me
10. Smiles
11. All Of Me
12. They Didn't Believe Me
13. Hallelujah
14. Stompin' At The Savoy
15. Dat's Love
16. Through For The Night
17. Strictly Drums
18. Night Wind
19. Why Regret
20. Now's The Time

Grant Green - The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark

Mosaic released a four-disc box set titled The Complete Blue Note With Sonny Clark in 1991, rounding up everything that the guitarist and pianist recorded together between 1961 and 1962. Blue Note's 1997 version of the set, The Complete Quartets With Sonny Clark, trims Mosaic's collection by two discs, offering only the quartet sessions (the Ike Quebec sessions, Born to Be Blue and Blue and Sentimental, are available on individual discs). In some ways, this actually results in a more unified set, since it puts Green and Clark directly in the spotlight, with no saxophone to complete for solos, but it doesn't really matter if the music is presented as this double-disc set, the four-disc box, or the individual albums -- this is superb music, showcasing the guitarist and pianist at their very best. All of the sessions are straight-ahead bop but the music has a gentle, relaxed vibe that makes it warm, intimate, and accessible. Grant and Clark's mastery is subtle -- the music is so enjoyable, you may not notice the deftness of their improvisation and technique -- but that invests the music with the grace, style, and emotion that distinguishes The Complete Quartets. Small group hard bop rarely comes any better than this. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Over a five-week period in early 1962, Grant Green recorded three amazing quartet sessions with Sonny Clark on piano, Sam Jones on bass, and Louis Hayes or Art Blakey on drums. As magnificent as the results were, the three albums, considered too progressive for Green's soul-jazz following, languished in the vaults for 18 years. In 1980, "Airegin," the session with Blakey, came out in the United States, while the two with Hayes ("Gooden's Corner" and "Oleo") came out only in Japan. Later issued briefly on Mosaic with three bonus tracks, they have since become collectors' items of legendary proportions. Now Blue Note is finally making them available on this specially-priced 2-CD set. Some of the best music Grant Green ever recorded.

Sonny Clark (piano)
Grant Green (guitar)
Sam Jones (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)
Art Blakey (drums)

CD 1
1. Airegin
2. It Ain't Necessarily So
3. I Concentrate On You
4. The Things We Did Last Summer
5. The Song Is You
6. Nancy (With The Laughing Face)
7. Airegin (alt)
8. On Green Dolphin Street
9. Shadrack
10. What Is This Thing Called Love?

CD 2
1. Moon River
2. Gooden's Corner
3. Two For One
4. Oleo
5. Little Girl Blue
6. Tune Up
7. Hip Funk
8. My Favorite Things
9. Oleo (alt)

VIDEO: Billy Eckstine Sings - Dizzy Gillespie Swings

A very entertaining film with many 'music videos' from the 1940s. Try it, you'll like it!

Anthony Braxton - Six Monk's Compositions (1987)

The band Anthony Braxton assembled for this unique exploration of the compositions of Thelonious Monk is one of the wonders of the composer's retinue. Braxton, pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Buell Neidlinger, and drummer Bill Osborne use six Monk tunes and go hunting for harmonic invention; in order, they are "Brilliant Corners," "Reflections," "Played Twice," "Four in One," "Ask Me Now," and "Skippy." From the jump, the listener can tell this is no ordinary Monk tribute. The music is fast, skittering along at a dervish's pace on "Brilliant Corners," and Braxton's horn -- an alto on this album -- moves right for that street where interval meets modulation and sticks his solo in the center, careening over the arrangement -- which is what the tune is in essence, an arrangement rather than a "song" -- and slipping just behind the beat to allow Waldron's brittle, almost angular percussive sonority to define the melody enough to move around the harmonic framework. And this is only the beginning. The other five compositions here are treated in a similar fashion, in that they are radically reinterpreted, played and executed with a degree of musicianship seldom found on any tribute. Braxton's intent was to get at the knotty -- even nutty -- harmonic and rhythmic idiosyncrasies that make Monk's music connect so deeply and widely yet remain difficult to interpret correctly. If all you get is a listen to "Four in One" or "Skippy," just listen to how completely each of these musicians reinvents himself to approach the material. On alternating tunes, Braxton and Waldron provide the catalyst, but all four become changelings in light of this intense and addictive harmonic conception. (Thom Yurek)

1. Brillant Corners
2. Reflections
3. Played Twice
4. Four In One
5. As Me Now
6. Skippy

Anthony Braxton (alto sax); Mal Waldron (piano); Buell Neidlinger (bass); Billy Osborne (drums).

Recorded on June 30th & July 1st, 1987 at Barigozzi Studio, Milano (Italy).

Track Of The Day

BN LP 5005 | James Moody - James Moody With Strings

Loving You The Way I Do - french title (Aimer Comme Je t'aime)
So Very Pretty - french title (Si Jolie)
Autumn Leaves -french title (Les Feuilles Mortes)
Singing For You - french title (Chanter Pour Toi)

Bedella - as listed on BN, Bedelia as listed by Vogue
Shade of Blond - french title(Une Boucle Blonde)
September Serenade
Jackie My Little Cat

In need of rest and recuperation after suffering under the twin scourges of alcoholism and Benzedrine addiction, saxophonist James Moody backed away from the US scene in 1948 and took off to stay with his uncle in Paris for a couple of weeks, only to remain overseas for three years. During that time he was recorded in various settings settings, if you like his style it's worth tracking down his efforts with Frank Foster and Lars Gullin.
This was originally a session for Vogue under the direction of Andre Hodeir, using alto and tenor saxophones, Moody navigates well even when the ensemble sometimes threatens to engulf him - Blue Note licensed it for release in the US.

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

Old and New Dreams - Old and New Dreams (1976)

These four alums of groups led by Ornette Coleman got together to explore the sound and repertoire that their mentor had largely given up when they cut this record back in 1976. They were so pleased with the experience they adopted the album title for the group name and went on to make several for albums over the next decade or so. This brilliant debut made clear that the approach was as vital and potent as ever. Although the opening track "Handwoven" is the only Coleman tune included here, the original pieces by Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, and Charlie Haden were all composed and performed in the spirit of the saxophonist’s classic quartet.

Redman’s playing always reflected a more conventional harmonic sensibility, so Old and New Dreams doesn’t sound quite as freewheeling as its model, but there’s no missing the sublime interplay, flashes of collective improvisation and unabashed melodic ebullience. Despite the inspiration, however, there’s no doubt that this quartet’s stands on its own merits, from the singular way Blackwell could breakdown a swing pattern as productive jabs at the frontline improvisers to Cherry’s magical yet deeply human lines to the distinctive musette playing Redman drops on the title track. An underrated classic. (Peter Margasak)

1.- Handwoven
2.- Dewey's Tune
3.- Chairman Mao
4.- Next to the Quiet Stream
5.- Augmented
6.- Old and New Dreams

Don Cherry (pocket trumpet); Dewey Redman (tenor sax and musette); Charlie Haden (bass); Eddie Blackwell (drums)

Recorded in October 1976, at Generation Sound Studios, New York.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Miles Davis - Sketches Of Spain (Legacy Edition)

Along with Kind of Blue, In a Silent Way, and Round About Midnight, Sketches of Spain is one of Miles Davis' most enduring and innovative achievements. Recorded between November 1959 and March 1960 -- after Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley had left the band -- Davis teamed with Canadian arranger Gil Evans for the third time. Davis brought Evans the album's signature piece, "Concierto de Aranjuez," after hearing a classical version of it at bassist Joe Mondragon's house. Evans was as taken with it as Davis was, and set about to create an entire album of material around it. The result is a masterpiece of modern art. On the "Concierto," Evans' arrangement provided an orchestra and jazz band -- Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Elvin Jones -- the opportunity to record a classical work as it was. The piece, with its stunning colors and intricate yet transcendent adagio, played by Davis on a flügelhorn with a Harmon mute, is one of the most memorable works to come from popular culture in the 20th century. Davis' control over his instrument is singular, and Evans' conducting is flawless. Also notable are "Saeta," with one of the most amazing technical solos of Davis' career, and the album's closer, "Solea," which is conceptually a narrative piece, based on an Andalusian folk song, about a woman who encounters the procession taking Christ to Calvary. She sings the narrative of his passion and the procession -- or parade -- with full brass accompaniment moving along. Cobb and Jones, with flamenco-flavored percussion, are particularly wonderful here, as they allow the orchestra to indulge in the lushly passionate arrangement Evans provided to accompany Davis, who was clearly at his most challenged here, though he delivers with grace and verve. Sketches of Spain is the most luxuriant and stridently romantic recording Davis ever made. To listen to it in the 21st century is still a spine-tingling experience, as one encounters a multitude of timbres, tonalities, and harmonic structures seldom found in the music called jazz. ~ Thom Jurek

More than likely, the serious Miles Davis fan has already bought Sketches of Spain in numerous editions before, from its original CD issue to two different remasters -- and some have purchased it as part of the Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings box set as well. This 50th Anniversary Legacy Edition will more than likely be either for the serious Miles collector, or for a newcomer to the recordings of Davis and Evans. Since the single-CD issue of Sketches of Spain is still available, it remains to be seen who this 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition set -- which contains no unreleased music -- will appeal to; but it is a handsome issue and does contain a couple of nice bonuses to make it attractive. Along with the original album is a 70-minute bonus disc filled with alternate takes and extra tracks. There are four different takes of "Concerto de Arjanuez (Adagio)," including a two-part, alternate take version that lasts in total about 20 minutes; a stellar live version which is the only one that took place, and a brief alternate ending. In addition to other alternates of album pieces are "Maids of Cadiz," which showcases the first Spanish composition that Evans adapted for Miles, and "Teo," from the Someday My Prince Will Come sessions. It was included because of its symbiotic relationship to "Solea," on Sketches of Spain. Also included on the bonus disc is a large .pdf file that is in essence a digital booklet with rare photos, press clippings, and previously unpublished documents related to the recordings sessions for the album. This version also comes with a new liner essay by Gunther Schuller. Again, the more casual Miles listener, and even the purchaser of his classic albums, may hesitate, but for the more serious jazz aficionado, it is somewhat revelatory to hear the bonus material prepared and sequenced in this context; and the extra digital booklet -- given the attractive price of the set -- makes it tough to resist. ~ Thom Jurek

Miles Davis (trumpet, flugelhorn)
John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Ernie Royal (trumpet)
Lee Konitz (alto sax)
Johnny Coles (trumpet)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Jimmy Knepper (trombone)
Frank Rehak (trombone)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)
Elvin Jones (percussion)

CD 1
1. Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio) (master)
2. Will O' The Wisp (master)
3. The Pan Piper
4. Saeta
5. Solea (master)
6. Song Of Our Country

CD 2
1. The Maids Of Cadiz
2. Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio) (rehearsal)
3. Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio) (Part One, alternate take)
4. Concierto De Aranjuez (Part Two, alternate take)
5. Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio) (alternate ending)
6. The Pan Piper (take 1)
7. Song Of Our Country (take 9)
8. Song Of Our Country (take 14)
9. Saeta (full version of master)
10. Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio) (live)
11. Teo

Steve Lacy and Brion Gysin - Songs

At the end of 1980, the late Steve Lacy expanded his group to a sextet with the addition of pianist Bobby Few. His first recording with this new configuration was Songs, a 1981 collaboration with poet/painter Brion Gysin, best known for his work with William Burroughs.

Lacy and Gysin had worked together as far back as '69, and their rapport is evident here. Lacy states in an interview with Jason Weiss (from Duke University Press' forthcoming anthology Conversations) before the album's release that "all the music comes out of the words." So the tunes act as a support for Gysin's lyrics, and many create a Kurt Weill vibe with the way the music mimics vocal intonations. Lacy again, in the same interview: "Well, jazz is speech rhythms."

That becomes quite clear on the infectious opener "Gay Paree Bop," where Lacy's soprano and Steve Potts' alto saxes imitate Irene Aebiâ's muscular, operatic tone with unerring accuracy. The lyrics, a string of bouncy nonsense rhymes, become secondary to the manner in which they're spoken, as well as the musicians' reaction. Once she ceases, though, Potts and Lacy take bright and energetic solos, and Few offers a glittering glissando after a rambunctious solo turn of his own.

Then the album turns social realist with "Nowhere Street," opening with two soprano saxes harmonizing on a mournful melody. Aebi displays her range, echoing the saxes with a high-pitched wail as she documents the decaying state of a city. Then she picks up her violin, and duels with Few's piano to create the most dissonant depressive tones they can think up. The notes tell a story of their own.

The rest of the album is just as imaginative, aside from the derivative Beat spoken word of "Permutations." "Somebody Special" is a lament in swirling lines about the search for love, "Keep the Change" a surreal staccato jaunt about a break-up, and the supremely silly (and catchy) "Blue Baboon" documents the secret yearnings of giant primates. ~ R. Emmet Sweeney

Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Steve Potts (alto and soprano sax)
Bobby Few (piano)
Irene Aebi (violin, voice)
Jean-Jacques Avenel (bass)
Oliver Johnson (drums)
Brion Gysin (voice)

1. Gay Paree Bop
2. Nowhere Street
3. Somebody Special
4. Luvzya
5. Keep the Change
6. Permutations: Junk is No Good Baby
7. Permutations: Kick That Habit Man
8. Permutations: I Don't Work You Dig
9. Blue Baboon
10. Nowhere Street 1

Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Raney - Two Guitars

Fans of the Prestige All-Star sessions which have appeared here from time to time will find this enjoyable. It could well have been named to fit in with the All Day and All Night sessions - Waldron, McLean and Byrd and Watkins were long time associates both before and after these sessions.

For this 1957 studio session (which has been reissued on CD through the Original Jazz Classics imprint), the two distinctive but complementary guitarists Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Raney are teamed together in a septet with trumpeter Donald Byrd, altoist Jackie McLean, pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Art Taylor. The full group gets to stretch out on one original each by Watkins and McLean ("Little Melonae") and three from Waldron, while the two standards ("Close Your Eyes" and "Out of Nowhere") are individual features for Burrell and Raney. This is a well-rounded set that may not contain any real surprises, but will be enjoyed by collectors of hard bop. ~ Scott Yanow

Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Jimmy Raney (guitar)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Donald Byrd (trumpet)
Jackie McLean (alto sax)
Doug Watkins (bass)
Art Taylor (drums)

1. Blue Duke
2. Dead Heat
3. Pivot
4. I'll Close My Eyes
5. Little Melonae
6. This Way
7. Out Of Nowhere

David Shire - The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974)

One of my favorite jazz-oriented film scores: works on its own and functions effectively in the film. A bit of 12-tone, a bit of 70's funk, this is just plain GREAT music. I highly recommend it. Scoredaddy

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a superb urban thriller: four men, dressed alike in trenchcoats and calling each other Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, etc., take a subway car hostage and demand $1 million in ransom. Walter Matthau stars as the transit cop assigned to the case; Robert Shaw (Quint in Jaws) is the leader of the terrorists. It's a brilliant ’70s hostage movie with biting New York humor.

For the score, David Shire—then going through a brilliant stretch of work which included The Conversation, Farewell, My Lovely, The Hindenburg, and All the President's Men—came up with a stroke of genius. He wanted to do some kind of funk/jazz/big band, but wanted a way of making it dissonant and powerful—not too light, but not too random. So for his melodic materials he utilized the 12-tone method of composition, a technique devised by Arnold Schoenberg in the early 20th century in which you make a theme by using all 12 pitches in a specific order, and then create other themes by playing that "row" backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or transposed. Shire ended up with a monster two-note bass line with these 12-tone themes running on top.

For our CD, the first-ever release of this music, we have utilized the complete score, including around 15 minutes of music not included in the film. The 12-page booklet includes movie stills, composer photos, and track-by-track notes by Doug Adams.

Listen to the "Main Title" and decide for yourself—if you like funky '70s film music, like Enter the Dragon and the blaxploitation pictures, you'll love this.

01 Main Title (02:19)
02 The Taking (03:10)
03 Dolowitz Takes A Look/Dolowitz Gets Killed (02:21)
04 Blue And Green Talk (02:03)
05 Money Montage (03:13)
06 Fifty Seconds/The Money Express (04:32)
07 Conductor Killed/The Money Bag (01:46)
08 The Pelham's-Moving-Again-Blues (03:12)
09 I'm A Police Officer/Renewing Disguises/Goodbye Green, Hello Garber, Goodbye Hippie/Smoking More... (02:59)
10 Mini-Manhunt (01:56)
11 End Title (03:01)
Recorded July, 1974 at Burbank Studios, Hollywood, California

Modern Jazz Quartet - Live at the Lighthouse (1967)

This fairly obscure LP by the Modern Jazz Quartet features fresh material and improvisations that are both swinging and creative. Pianist John Lewis' "The Spiritual" and "Baseball," along with vibraphonist Milt Jackson's "Novamo" and "For Someone I Love," comprise half the program, and it is Jackson's influence that seems to be the weightier one here. Jackson and the MJQ always rose to the challenge of a crowd.

There are also excellent ballad renditions of "The Shadow of Your Smile" and "What's New." The bluesier side of the band is what's mostly on display here, and the MJQ plays up to its usual level.

This set remained unreleased on CD domestically until 2004 when Wounded Bird — which in 2002 also reissued the brilliant Modern Jazz Quartet disc originally released in 1957 — put it on the street. Really, none of the classic group's recordings should be passed by. Thom Jurek, Scott Yanow

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

1 The Spiritual (6:00)
2 Baseball (4:03)
3 The Shadow Of Your Smile (5:32)
4 Intima (4:12)
5 Novamo (5:58)
6 For Someone I Love (5:02)
7 What's New (6:14)

Recorded at The Lighthouse Café, Hermosa Beach, California in 1967

Art Farmer - Back To The City

Despite the claim below, this is now out of print. A check of the archives will also bring you another of their later works - for Soul Note - Moment To Moment. Albert Heath is the drummer on that one.

Farmer is keenly incisive with the muted horn, romantically ebullient with it open, and Tucker emerges as a considerable soloist and accompanist; ... Smith, the most audacious drummer of his generation, is the ideal occupant of the drum stool. Back To The City is now back on CD and features some lesser-known items from the band's book, including a rare outing for Farmer as compose, 'Write Soon'. ~ Penguin Guide

Recorded at the same sessions as Real Time, this set features a reunion by the Jazztet, a classic sextet that originally broke up in 1963 due to lack of work. Twenty-three years later, flugelhornist Art Farmer and trombonist Curtis Fuller are heard playing in their unchanged styles while tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson (who had evolved from a Don Byas-type approach to a sound influenced by Archie Shepp) is in fine form. With pianist Mickey Tucker, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith completing the group, the band plays four lesser-known Golson compositions, Farmer's "Write Soon" and the standard "Speak Low." Timeless hard bop music. ~ Scott Yanow

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Benny Golson (tenor sax)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Mickey Tucker (piano)
Ray Drummond (bass)
Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums)

1. Back To The City
2. From Dream To Dream
3. Write Soon
4. Vas Simeon
5. Speak Low
6. Without Delay/Time Speaks

Kenny Burrell - Guitar Forms

As I still desultorily read the Gil Evans bio, I was impressed at how much this collaboration meant to Burrell.

Though this ranks as one of arranger Gil Evans' minor achievements in the grand scheme of things, for Kenny Burrell it was a career-defining moment, one of his most individual, most multi-faceted, most emotionally affecting recordings. Whether playing straight-ahead and countrified blues on electric guitar, dipping into the bossa nova and brooding post-Sketches of Spain backgrounds on acoustic guitar, or interpreting classical music, Burrell quietly lets the world know that he can be as versatile as he is tasteful. Evans collectors should know that Evans' charts only appear on five of the selections. On three others, Burrell is featured with a swinging conga-accented combo that includes pianist Roger Kellaway, and Burrell goes solo on a transcribed excerpt from George Gershwin's "Prelude No. 2" for piano. . ~ Richard S. Ginell

Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Gil Evans (arranger, conductor)
Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Lee Konitz (alto sax)
Bob Tricarico (tenor sax, flute, bassoon)
Richie Kamuca (tenor sax, oboe)
Johnny Coles (trumpet)
Jimmy Cleveland, Jimmy Knepper (trombone)
Julius Watkins (French horn)
Ron Carter (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Downstairs
2. Lotus Land
3. Terrace Theme
4. Prelude # 2 (excerpt)
5. Moon And Sand
6. Loie
7. Greensleeves
8. Last Night When We Were Young
9. Breadwinner

Principally recorded at Van Gelder Recording Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on December 4 and 15, 1964 and April 12, 1965

Art Farmer - Brass Shout/Aztec Suite

First posted here exactly a year ago; how would Bobby Timmons feel about Moanin' by a large ensemble? Ask him; he's playing piano.

The two albums on this CD originally were recorded for United Artist in 1959, and both feature Art with large orchestras. "Brass Shout" is purposely top-heavy with brass players (trumpets, trombones, French horns, tuba), and in this instance at least, arranger Benny Golson has a strong affinity for the French horn: Julius Watkins takes a number of solos throughout the proceedings. Golson also presents two of his better, if lesser known, compositions, Five Spot After Dark (Art has an excellent muted solo here) and Minor Vamp, and these along with Horace Silver's Nica's Dream and Bobby Timmons's Moanin'' are the highlights of the album. Anyone who thinks Count Basie has a monopoly on the way April In Paris should be played will be in for a surprise with the version here.

"Aztec Suite" also has a big brass section, though there's a good saxophone section as well, with tenorman Zoot Sims taking the solos; he's especially fine on Woody 'N' You. Chico O'Farrill has the arranging honors, and his Latin preferences are in the fore. The title track is a 16-minute multi-faceted work whose exoticism sometimes detracts from its jazz concerns. The Latin rhythms dominate on Heat Wave and Drume Negrita. These two albums probably put bigger feathers in the caps of Golson and O'Farrill than in Farmer's, but they are interesting to hear and are perfect together on one CD.

Art Farmer (trumpet)
Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Ernie Royal (trumpet)
Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Bobby Timmons (piano)
Hank Jones (piano)
Addison Farmer (bass)
Percy Heath (bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Nica's Dream
2. Autumn Leaves
3. Moanin'
4. April In Paris
5. Five Spot After Dark
6. Stella By Starlight
7. Minor Vamp
8. Aztec Suite
9. Heat Wave
10. Delirio
11. Woody 'N' You
12. Drume Negrita
13. Alone Together

Track Of The Day

Cecil Taylor - The Willisau Concert (2000)

One of most Taylor's accesible and beauty solo concerts. Also one of my favourites

Cecil Taylor had released numerous albums of solo recitals, and picking the best out of such a stellar crop is next to impossible. At the very least, it's safe to say that among his recordings after having reached the ripe age of 70, The Willisau Concert is among the very best and that it sits comfortably alongside discs like Indent, Silent Tongues, and Double Holy House. Since around 1970, in one sense Taylor, especially when playing solo, reiterates the same immensely deep composition time and time again. One hears almost the same motifs, usually subtly altered, a profound appreciation of the blues (if rarely directly stated), and an attack that, even if it had mellowed somewhat over the years, retained a hugely proud and rigorous character. Here, he battles a luxurious sounding Boesendorfer into submission, making rich use of its extra low notes; there's almost always a rumbling going on. His unyielding invention is at the forefront as he wrings variation upon sublime invention on his repository of melodic lines, never noodling about in search of inspiration, always somehow summoning it directly to his fingertips. The live performance is sliced into five sections. A lengthy main portion seemingly leaving no stone unturned is both beautiful and exhausting on it own. But then, as though Taylor realized there were things left unsaid, he launches into a stunning 13-minute postlude, breathtaking in its touch and level of emotion. In an embarrassment of riches, he adds three brief and exquisite addenda, achieving a delicacy and depth unmatched by any of his peers in the music. The Willisau Concert shows a grandmaster as yet unfazed by age, much less current fashion, and stands as one of Cecil Taylor's finest recordings. Very highly recommended.

1.- Willisau Concert part. 1
2.- Willisau Concert part. 2
3.- Willisau Concert part. 3
4.- Willisau Concert part. 4
5.- Willisau Concert part. 5

Cecil Taylor - piano

Recorded live on September 3, 2000, at the Jazzfestival Willisau.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jimmy Lyons Quintet - We Sneezawee (1983)

...Karen Borca also appears to great effect on "Wee Sneezawee", perhaps the most conventional of these discs in freebop terms but a similarly invigorating session. Only on the brief, uncharacteristic "Ballada", with which the album ends, does Lyons occupy the foreground. It's immediately clear that his fey, slightly detached tone doesn't entail an absence of feeling; the closing track is a sad monument to a fading career.

(The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD - Ninth Edition)

1. Wee Sneezawee
2. Gossip
3. Remembrance
4. Shackinback
5. Driads

Jimmy Lyons (alto sax); Karen Borca (bassoon); Raphé Malik (trumpet); William Parker (bass); Paul Murphy (drums).

Recorded at September 26 & 27, 1983 at Vanguard Studios, New York.

Grant Green - Standards

In the early 1960s, guitarist Grant Green (1931-1979) and pianist Sonny Clark (1931-1963) were the top-drawer house musicians in the Blue Note stables. Grant Green was on hand for some of Blue Note's highest moments (Hank Mobley's Workout, Ike Quebec's Blue and Sentimental, and Lee Morgan's Search for a New Land). Dexter Gordon considered Sonny Clark his favorite pianist, having him play on the notable Go and A Swinging Affair. Clark also made a series of landmark recordings with clarinetist Buddy DeFranco for Verve. These are only the tip of the iceberg credentials for these two musicians.

Presently, both musician's discographies are fortunately being increased with releases from the new Blue Note Standards series. I say fortunately, because these are two journeymen musicians who, while they were never flashy or brash, always could be counted on to provide solid accompaniment and solos and have received little recent recognition.

Grant Green's Standards represents the first US release of this classic Blue Note material. Six of the eight pieces on this disc were previously released only in Japan on LP. All songs were recorded on August 29, 1961 (oddly enough, the same day as Remembering). This falls after Green's leader date (Grantstand, August 1, 1961) and before being a sideman on Stanley Turrentine's Z.T.'s Blues (September 13, 1961).

The Guitar Trio...No Organ. Standards finds Green in a trio format: bass, drums, and guitar. This is a very intimate and difficult format in which to play, placing a greater onus on the bass player and guitarist in the absence of a piano left hand. The results are very crisp, pristine performances. Bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Al Harewood join Green for his stroll through the American Songbook. Their support is on the same high level as the leader's. The playing by all involved is captured in a clear and up-close manner that I find in common with only a few other Blue Note recordings of the same period. There is no muddiness at all. The drums are just below the surface with the bass. Green's electric Gibson caresses his accompanists rather than overpowering them. ~ C. Michael Bailey

Chico Freeman - Morning Prayer

Tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman's second recording as a leader (the first was an obscurity for Dharma in 1975) was originally cut for the Japanese Trio label before being made available domestically by India Navigation. An impressive effort, the adventurous music (five compositions by Freeman) features the leader on tenor, soprano, flute and pan-pipe, Henry Threadgill (switching between alto, baritone and flute), pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, bassist Cecil McBee (in the first of his many collaborations with Freeman), flutist Douglas Ewart, and the percussion of Steve McCall and Ben Montgomery. The performances are unpredictable yet logical inside/outside music. This set has not yet reappeared on CD. ~ Scott Yanow

Chico wrote all the originals and arranged it for the septet. The music is an excellent documentation of what was going on in Chicago during the avant garde period. The tunes and performances make challenging and rewarding listening. It is now thirty three years since this important, pioneering recording was made and it a testament to its value that the music has matured so well and to this day remains vital, challenging and fresh.

Chico Freeman (flute, soprano and tenor sax, percussion)
Henry Threadgill (flute, alto and baritone sax, percussion)
Muhal Richard Abrams (piano)
Douglas Ewart (bass flute, bamboo flute, percussion)
Cecil McBee (cello, bass)
Bem Montgomery (drum, percussion)
Steve McCall (percussion)

1. Like The Kind of Peace It Is
2. The In Between
3. Conversations
4. Morning Prayer
5. Pepe's Samba
6. Pepe's Samba (long version)

Air - Air Song

As long as the title for the second track is, Hoagy Carmichael still has it beat. His work? " I'm A Cranky Old Yank In A Clanky Old Tank On The Streets Of Yokohoma With My Honolulu Mama Doin' Those Beat-o, Beat-o, Flat On My Seat-o, Hirohito Blues". I prefer the version by Nirvana to that of Bing Crosby.

Air, the improvisational collective of Henry Threadgill on reeds, woodwinds, and lots of other stuff, bassist Fred Hopkins, and drummer/percussionist Steve McCall, was the first major group after the Art Ensemble to come out of Chicago. The feel of Air's sound is one where the collective improvises and creates without an individual soloist or group leader anchoring the proceedings. On the first two recordings, this debut outing in particular, this concept worked well. There are four long pieces here, all of them based on minimal themes with variations entering into the fray simultaneously and opening the door to a free for all that pays attention to both dynamics and texture. The interplay between the three members is almost always inventive, engaging, and full of warmth and humor. There is little excessive indulgence to be found on these improvisations, and the degree of musicianship with these men is off the chart. Communication in the new jazz often amounted to little more than cats trying to make one another louder. Air proved that the signal of development is in the listening and expressing oneself based on what has been played as a soloist and as part of the whole. A lovely and auspicious debut. ~ Thom Jurek

The Air trio functioned with all three members contributing musically on an equal footing. Although in theory there was no leader, Henry Threadgill comes across as the dominant voice. The advanced interplay however, allied with supreme musicianship and unfailingly creative solos, make the ebb and flow achieved on this record supremely satisfying. Of the four extended pieces presented here, the most intriguing is surely the wonderfully titled Great Body of the Riddle, or Where Were The Dodge Boys When My Clay Started to Slide? Titles aside, this set from 1975 is an impressive document from a revolutionary period in the evolution of jazz music.

Henry Threadgill (flute, alto, tenor, and baritone sax)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Steve McCall (percussion)

1. Untitled Song
2. Great Body Of The Riddle Or Where Were The Dodge Boys When My Clay Started To Slide
3. Dance Of The Beast
4. Air Song

Barney Kessel - 1968 Aquarius: The Music from Hair

On paper, the pairing of bop guitarist Barney Kessel and the hippie musical Hair seems a little unusual, but the results are surprisingly enjoyable. Teaming with guitarist Ike Isaacs, organists Kenny Salmon and Steve Gray, bassist Tony Campo and drummer Barry Morgan, Kessel runs through all the familiar pieces --"Aquarius", "Frank Mills", "Easy to Be Hard", "Good Morning Starshine" -- injecting them with a spirited sense of swing. Some of the tunes remain slight, and the guitarist doesn't always sound comfortable with the material, but overall it's a fun, albeit minor, entry in Kessel's catalog.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

01 Aquarius (3:26)
02 Frank Mills (3:41)
03 Where Do I Go? (4:50)
04 I Got Life (3:51)
05 Walking in Space (4:44)
06 Ain't Got No (3:46)
07 Easy to Be Hard (4:06)
08 Hare Krishna (3:28)
09 Good Morning Starshine (3:59)
10 Donna (2:50)

All songs composed by Galt MacDermot, James Rado & Gerome Ragni

Barney Kessel (Guitar)
Ike Isaacs (Rhythm Guitar)
Kenny Salmon (Organ) on tracks 4-6, 8-10
Toni Campo (Electric Bass)
Barry Morgan (Drums)
Steve Gray (Organ) on tracks 1-3, 7

Recorded at Polydor Studios, London on November 1 & 2, 1968

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Track Of The Day

André Previn - Previn At Sunset

Yep, 16 years old and not only making his first session with the likes of Howard McGhee and Vido Musso, but already a studio cat working with Frank DeVol. I put off listening to Previn because of preconceived ideas, but when I finally did listen to him a few years ago I was suitably impressed. A couple of these have appeared on the very excellent Sunset Swing, which I have had in front of me for a couple of weeks with the intention of posting again - sounds ideal for a guest reviewer, don't it?

Andre Previn was just 16 years old when he recorded the earliest numbers on this 1993 CD reissue, but he was already a brilliant pianist and a busy arranger at the MGM studios. Most (but not quite all) of the recordings that he made for the Sunset and Monarch labels, among the earliest in his career, are on this CD. A major swing stylist who had not yet been affected by bop, Previn is heard on some unaccompanied solos; in three different trios with such sidemen as guitarists Dave Barbour or Irving Ashby, bassists John Simmons, Eddie Safranski, or Red Callender, and drummer Lee Young; amd a couple of jam tunes ("All the Things You Are" and "I Found a New Baby") with a sextet also including either Buddy Childers or Howard McGhee on trumpet, altoist Willie Smith and Vido Musso on tenor. The small group swing performances are quite enjoyable, and the teenage pianist easily keeps up with the other, more famous players. ~ Scott Yanow

André Previn (piano)
Howard McGhee (trumpet)
Vido Musso (tenor sax)
Buddy Childers (trumpet)
Willie Smith (alto sax)
Irving Ashby (guitar)
Dave Barbour (guitar)
Eddie Safranski (bass)
Red Callender (bass)
John Simmons (bass)
Lee Young (drums)

1. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
2. Body And Soul
3. Sunset In Blue
4. All The Things You Are
5. Something To Live For
6. Good Enough To Keep
7. California Clipper
8. How High the Moon
9. Take The "A" Train
10. Subtle Slough
11. That Old Blue Magic
12. Blue Skies
13. I Found A New Baby
14. Variations On A Theme
15. Mulholland Drive

Waverley Seven - Yo! Bobby

Reviewed by the doc:

This is a concept album and a really good one, not only because it's a two CD set and thus a great value, but also because the players really swing and their bop-to-post-bop solos tastefully demonstrate their exquisite talents. The idea was for some of New York's hottest young players to record instrumental versions of songs recorded by Bobby Darin. That means it's a silky smooth collection of pop themes, beautifully orchestrated, and known to most everyone. Because the songs are so well known, many will tend to think of the album as background music; but if they treat it as such, they'll quickly find the solos grabbing their attention.

The Waverly Seven consists of the highly talented Joel Frahm, who spent his high school years jamming and playing in bands with fellow student Brad Mehldau; the critically-acclaimed Manuel Valera, Cuban pianist, band-leader, and composer; Anat Cohen, woodwinds/tenor sax and expert with Brazilian choro, Argentinian tango and other interesting ethic musical forms; Avishai Cohen, discovered by Chick Corea and big-time recording artist on trumpet; the dynamic and forward-thinking, Jason Lindner, who on piano leads a big band and trio; plus the lesser known (at least to me) rhythm section of Barak Mori on bass; and Daniel Freedman on drums. The band is really 7+2, but that only makes the band even better because the two additions – the multi-instrumentalist and award-winning Scott Robinson on baritone sax, and Vic Juris, guitar and former Muse recording artist – are major players in their own right. Overall, the players mesh really well with tight and punchy ensemble passages. Ballads are handled sensitively, but not to the point of becoming mushy and drab.

There's nothing complicated here, just great swinging, hip versions of classic tunes that Darin performed, such as Nat Adderley's Work Song, the classic theme song from Threepenny Opera, Mack the Knife, and my personal favorites: Nature Boy, with its chromatically-descending minor line, and Charade, with its hints of Back Home in Indiana. While the choice of music and overall group dynamics are wonderful, it's the solos by individuals rising out of the impeccably-played ensemble passages that really make the music work for me. My only complaint is that they didn't include Dream Lover and Beyond the Sea, two songs intimately associated with Darin.

Although I don't understand the motivation for recording songs New Yorker Bobby Darin recorded, it must be a New York thing, and as a Bostonian, perhaps I'll never get it; but that said, he was extremely popular throughout the country, and if he hadn't died prematurely in 1973 from complications of a weakened heart due to rheumatic fever as a child, Darin would only be 73 today, and doubtlessly still performing and recording. His recordings of Dream Lover, Mack the Knife, and Splish Splash are timeless and the Yo! Bobby project forms a fitting tribute to Darin, a New York native and one of its largest stars. Check it out today. ~ the doc

Anat Cohen (clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano, tenor and alto sax)
Avishai Cohen (trumpet)
Joel Frahm (tenor, soprano and alto sax)
Manuel Valera (piano, Wurlitzer)
Jason Lindner (Hammond B3, piano, Wurlitzer, Moog)
Scott Robinson (baritone sax)
Vic Juris (guitar)
Barak Mori (bass)
Daniel Freedman (drums, percussion)

1. Charade
2. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
3. Splish Splash
4. Nature Boy
5. Oh! Look At Me Now
6. I Guess I'm Good For Nothing But The Blues
7. Call Me Irresponsible
8. In Love In Vain
9. The More I See You
10. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
11. That Funny Feeling
12. Artificial Flowers
13. I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
14. The Good Life
15. Work Song
16. All The Way
17. I Wanna Be Around
18. Spring Is Here
19. Some Of These Days
20. Black Coffee
21. Mack The Knife
22. How About You
23. Skylark
24. It's You Or No One

Jimmy Smith - Standards

Blue Note has released as a part of its Standards a collection of standards performed by Smith, Kenny Burrell, and Donald Bailey in a classic organ trio format. The recordings were made on August 25, 1957; July 15, 1958; and May 24, 1959. The first cut, "Little Girl Blue," was cut during the House Party and Confirmation sessions and the first five cuts were originally released on On the Sunny Side. The remaining pieces are unissued and were all recorded at the May 24, 1959 date.

There are no three-alarm blues orgies here. As described in the liner notes, "This is a mellow, black tie, date-night, smooth as silk affair...." All outings are ballads, nothing surprising there. The disc belongs as much to Kenny Burrell as it does to Smith. One could not imagine "Bye Bye Blackbird" or "Mood Indigo" without him. Smith's style is sure and true, like that found on the recordings released around these dates. ~ C. Michael Bailey

1. Little Girl Blue
2. Bye Bye Blackbird
3. I'm Just a Lucky So and So
4. Ruby
5. September Song
6. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
7. Memories of You
8. But Beautiful
9. Mood Indigo
10. While We're Young
11. It Might as Well Be Spring
12. The Last Dance

Personnel: Jimmy Smith (organ); Kenny Burrell (guitar); Donald Bailey (drums).
Digitaly remastered using 20-bit technology by Ron McMaster.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on
- August 25, 1957 (track 1)
- July 15, 1958 (tracks 2-5)
- May 24, 1959. (tracks 6-12)

Prataksis and Ekstasis

Wadada Leo Smith - Prataksis

Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has always been on the forefront of the musical melting pot. Not interested in being merely a "jazz musician" (a perfectly honorable thing), Smith has always sought to expand the color and dramatic scheme of jazz by including vast panoramas of poetry and instruments not usually associated with the genre. By employing improv wunderkind Vinny Golia (on all manner of saxophones and clarinets as well as dudek and English and Chinese instruments) and bass wild man Bertram Turetzky, Smith has created -- while only playing trumpet -- a new landscape for his improvisational idiomatics. This band was recorded live in the studio with no second takes and no edits. What falls from the speakers is how it rolled out in the studio: linear, transparent, and full of fresh dynamics in the tonal studies. Microtonality - à la Joe Maneri -- is the order of the day, and it crosses with Smith's Third World notion of melodic sensibility, where no melody is complete until every comment has been made upon it within a group. Hence, the entire world is contained in the eight selections here, which move and breathe with the fearlessness of vanguard jazz but are as earthy as Australian didgeridoo arias or King Sunny Ade's juju songs. Ultimately, it's all movement in one direction, to the heart of both player and listener in a spirit of such generosity and sophistication that it is an infectious laughter that haunts the listener long after the record is over. ~ Thom Jurek

Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet)
Vinny Golia (Bb and bass clarinet, English horn, tenor sax, other)
Bertram Turetzky (bass, waterphone)

1. And The Future Became Fluid
2. Dancing On The Edge
3. Alexandra's Fancy
4. Music For Confused Travelers
5. Of Love And Loss
6. Growing To Be Shadows
7. Two Up, Two Down
8. Fractured Laws

Nicky Skopelitis - Ekstasis

Guitarist Skopelitis' dustpan approach to world music sweeps various ethnic instrumental grit and grime into the whirling blades of co-producer Bill Laswell's shop-vac. Contributing to the unholy mess are Foday Musa Suso on kora, oudist/violinist Simon Shaheen, gospel organist Amina Claudine Myers, percussionists Zakir Hussain, Aiyb Dieng and Guilherme Franco, drummer Jaki Liebezeit, bassists Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble, and, consistently providing the most bracing moments, Bachir Attar (leader of the Master Musicians of Jajouka) raising hell on the plague-of-locusts vernacular oboe, the rhaita. When Ekstasis's free-floating anxiety is at its peak, it could almost be the disc that Can fans have been waiting for since Ege Bamyasi. ~ Bob Tarte

Nicky Skopelitis (guitar)
Simon Shaheen (violin, oud)
Foday Musa Suso (kora, doussn'gouni)
Bill Laswell (bass)
Bachir Attar (flute, ghaita)
Jah Wobble (bass)
Amina Claudine Myers (Hammond B3 organ)
Ziggy Modeliste (drums)
Jaki Liebezeit (drums)

1. Tarab
2. Meet Your Maker
3. Ghost Of A Chance
4. Proud Flesh
5. Sanctuary
6. One Eye Open
7. Heresy
8. Jubilee
9. Witness
10. Telling Time

Seegs brings us ...

Connie Crothers/Lenny Popkin Quartet – Jazz Spring

Connie Crothers – Concert at Cooper Union

Max Roach and Connie Crothers - Swish

These 3 CDs demonstrate Connie Crother’s ability to move from a melodic post-bop improvisational style to free jazz—sometimes in the same piece. She and Lenny Popkin composed all the tunes on Jazz Spring. Together, Crothers and Popkin have a unique way of interacting (though Yanow strains to hear shades of Tristano and Warne Marsh popping up everywhere). But ultimately, her musical voice sounds like no other—and this is why Connie Crothers is important.

Jazz Spring

Connie Crothers piano
Lenny Popkin tenor sax
Cameron Brown bass
Carol Tristano Drums

1. Swingshine
2. New Mood
3. Beyond a Dream
4. Studio Memory
5. Soul Sayer
7. Just You
8. Theatre Piece
9. Jazz Spring
10. Time Step

Crothers’ solo concert at Cooper Union puts her piano style out front. There are more standards here than on most Crothers’ recordings. She glides effortlessly in and out of the melodic lines of standards, like “All the Things You Are” and “What Is This Thing Called Love,” punctuating her playing with a driving, rhythmic left hand. Great beauty and sensitivity is coupled with unexpected twists and turns.

Concert at Cooper Union

Connie Crothers piano

1. Carols’ Dream
2.All the Things You Are
3. Wow
4. This One Is Free
5. I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
6. What Is This Thing Called Love?
7. You’d Be so Nice to Come Home To
8. Prediction
9. In the Blues Mode
10. Love as a Force in History

The duets with Max Roach on Swish are improvised music. In a short essay “Ideas for a Jazz Renaissance” (find it at AAJ: Crothers remarked, “Spontaneous improvisation could be placed in the center of our music. Instant composing can produce excellent music, complex and gratifying, but it has an entirely different feel. Spontaneous improvising—when we create music in the split second we are in, from what we deeply feel—makes our art form what it is. There is the old saying, without roots, no flower. We can enhance our awareness of the phenomenon of spontaneous improvisation by personally reconnecting with the early crucible decades of our music, when the musicians lived this.”


Max Roach drums
Connie Crothers piano

1. Symbols
2. Let ‘em Roll
3. Swish
4. Creepin’ In
5. Ballad No. 1
6. Trading

I heard Connie Crothers speaking with host Phil Schaap during the annual Lennie Tristano birthday celebration on WKCR, the Columbia University radio station. She is intelligent, articulate, and utterly dedicated to the music. Jazz has no better friend—and not many better pianists—than Connie Crothers.

New York Swing Plays Rodgers and Hart (1992)

John Bunch and Bucky Pizzarelli have co-led New York Swing for a number of years, gigging in the NY area and producing a series of CDs that mostly focus on well known standards. Although the songs are well worn, the interpretations are fresh and masterfully played by these seasoned pros.

John Bunch (piano)
Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar)
Jay Leonhart (bass)
Joe Cocuzzo (drums)
  1. Have You Met Miss Jones
  2. Thou Swell
  3. You Took Advantage of Me
  4. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
  5. My Heart Stood Still
  6. My Funny Valentine
  7. My Romance
  8. Dancing on the Ceiling
  9. Falling in Love With Love
  10. This Can't Be Love
  11. Nobody's Heart
  12. Spring Is Here
  13. You're Nearer
  14. You Are Too Beautiful
Recorded October 6, 1992

Booker Ervin - Structurally Sound

This review is by our brother Danny:

Well, I already told Rab that I heavily dig the straight-ahead stuff so this is a real treat for me. Here goes:

When it comes to superheroes, people never forget about Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. When discussing jazz superheroes, the names, Trane, Bird, Monk, Miles, Dizzy, and a few others will undoubtedly be mentioned but this, here, is an album of underdogs – the forgotten champions of some spectacular music – rarely mentioned and too often underappreciated by jazz fans. From the packaging and the line-up, a true fan of this music will immediately assume, even with the absence of invincibility, that Booker Ervin’s 1966 release, Structurally Sound, contains all of the musical superpowers that one can expect from a 60’s Blue Note release – and it does – big time. Ervin and his contemporaries show us that they, too, can save the day with some super-powerful hard-bop.

The album begins with Randy Weston’s jazz waltz – Berksire Blues. It’s nice to hear the fluent, harmonic groove of John Hicks, who was flown in for this date upon the special request of Booker Ervin for his unique ability. Ervin gives us the authentic, versatile, saxophone solo that the rhythm section (also consisting of Red Mitchell on bass, and Lenny McBrowne on drums) begs for. Booker gives us the grits ‘n’ gravy in a traditional blues-bop style but is sure to throw in some Shorterisms, and Coltranesque things along the way that will surely convince many an ear of Mr. E’s virtuosity. The only disappointment is that while we hear Charles Tolliver on the head of this tune, he doesn’t take a solo.

On Oliver Nelson’s tune, Stolen Moments, Booker wails passionately, again showing some truly, advanced chops while holding onto the ears of the common man. His fiery intellect soars. It is on this third track that we finally get to hear Tolliver (briefly) go to town on these changes. Assaulting this classic progression with beautiful mastery of tension and release, Tolliver is one trumpet player, who can always take things outside, only to return home as if he had been there the whole time. Tolliver decides that one chorus is a treat enough for deprived listeners. He and Ervin retreat to the head and finish out the tune.

Can one expect any less from Tolliver’s tune, Franess? Ervin tears it up, as usual – never disappointing when it becomes his time to fill some space. With thick-toned runs and gorgeous phrasing, the horn is an extension of his body. Simultaneously displaying his extraordinary talent as tunesmith and improvising soloist, Tolliver is the star on this track with careful note choice on the longer tones, followed by some blistering rips up and down the horn. Hicks’ rhythmic, trickling waterfalls of sound and lush voicings evidently made the cost of flight well worth Blue Note’s expense.

Beside the fast-paced action happening on this release, one can easily melt to the warmer sounds of Booker Ervin playing over some superb accompaniment by the rhythm section on Henderson & Vallee’s ballad, Deep Night. Although it would have been nice to hear some expressive, lyricism by the trumpet player, Tolliver lays out on this tune; however, we do get an elegantly constructed bass solo by Red Mitchell.

Other highlights include, You’re My Everything, Boo’s Blues, and the artfully condensed big-band classics, Take The A Train and Shiny Stockings. White Christmas must have been included due to the recording date’s closeness to the holiday season – and hey, why not? Underdogs or not, these superheroes produce some music more powerful than a locomotive and an album well worth listening to – an essential piece of the hard-bop puzzle. Thanks to Rab and to all the contributors on CIA, you dig? - D

Booker Ervin (tenor sax)
Charles Tolliver (trumpet)
John Hicks (piano)
Red Mitchell (bass)
Lenny McBrowne (drums)

1 - Berkshire Blues
2 - Dancing In The Dark
3 - Stolen Moments
4 - Franess
5 - Boo's Blues
6 - You're My Everything
7 - Deep Night
8 - Take The A Train
9 - Shiny Stockings
10 - White Christmas
11 - Franess (alt)
12 - Deep Night (alt)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gigi Gryce-Donald Byrd Jazz Laboratory/Cecil Taylor Quartet - At Newport (1957)

At first combining a set by Cecil Taylor with another by the Gigi Gryce-Donald Byrd Jazz Laboratory seems like an odd pairing, but it ends up working rather well. These live recordings, which come from the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival, have stood the test of time rather well. Taylor's style of piano playing is not that far removed from Thelonious Monk in his interpretation of Billy Strayhorn's "Johnny Come Lately," though his dissonant, angular approach is a bit busier; Steve Lacy's nasal-toned soprano sax and solid rhythmic support from bassist Buell Neidlinger and drummer Denis Charles fuel Taylor's fiery playing. Both Taylor's "Nona's Blues" and "Tune 2" are fairly accessible in comparison to his works in the decade which followed. The Gigi Gryce-Donald Byrd Jazz Laboratory -- with pianist Hank Jones, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Osie Johnson -- is firmly rooted in hard bop. Oddly enough, none of the three pieces were written by either Gryce or Byrd, though they were both already budding composers at this point in their respective careers. But their brief program -- which includes Ray Bryant's "Splittin' (Ray's Way)," the blues "Batland," and a rousing rendition of "Love for Sale" -- is a good representation of this unfortunately short-lived and under-recorded group. Reissued as a part of Verve's limited-edition series in the summer of 2002, this valuable CD will be available until the summer of 2005.

1. Johnny Come Lately
2. Nona's Blues
3. Tune 2
4. Splittin'
5. Batland
6. Love for Sale

Cecil Taylor Quartet: Cecil Taylor (piano); Steve Lacy (soprano saxophone); Buell Neidlinger (bass); Denis Charles (drums).

The Gigi Gryce-Donald Byrd Jazz Laboratory (#4-6): Gigi Gryce (alto saxophone); Donald Byrd (trumpet); Hank Jones (piano); Wendell Marshall (bass); Osie Johnson (drums).

Recorded July 1957 at the Newport Jazz Festival, Rhode Island: tracks 4-6 on July 5, and tracks 1-3 on July 6

Mingus and LaPorta - Jazzical Moods

Two posts to show the vagaries of marketing and reviews.

Originally recorded on 2 10" discs for Period Records in 1954, this fairly obscure early Charles Mingus session is a collaboration with composer John LaPorta, who is heard on clarinet and alto saxophone. It's a fascinating effort that shows Mingus' awareness of both modern European classical composition and cool jazz. Down Beat reviewer Nat Hentoff called the first ten-inch release of this album, recorded in 1954 and originally issued on the Period label, “Mingus’ most wholly realized dates so far as a leaderwriter or, more accurately, it’s the one that has most directly communicated to me in terms of emotions as well as concepts.” The set features Mingus on bass and piano, co-leader John LaPorta on alto sax and clarinet, Teo Macero on tenor and baritone, Thad Jones on trumpet, cellist Jackson Wiley, and drummer Clem DeRosa playing three Mingus compositions, one by Macero, another by Mingus and LaPorta, and ingenious reworkings of the standards “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and “Stormy Weather.” The liner notes are by Mingus himself. The album features Mingus' debut on piano.

Charles Mingus (bass, piano)
John La Porta (alto saxophone)
Teo Macero (tenor saxophone)
Thad Jones (trumpet)
Jackson Wiley (cello)
Clem De Rosa (drums)

1. What Is This Thing Called Love?
2. Stormy Weather
3. Minor Intrusion
4. Abstractions
5. Thrice Upon A Theme
6. Four Hands
7. The Spur Of The Moment - Echonitus

Recorded in New York, New York in December 1954

Charles Mingus - The Jazz Experiments Of Charlie Mingus

Originally released on two 10" records called Jazzical Moods, The Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus makes its first appearance in CD. These 1954 Period Records sessions include the work of Thad Jones on trumpet and John LaPorta on clarinet and alto sax, combine old and new forms of classical and jazz for a cool jazz sound. Tracks like "Minor Intrusion" and "Thrice Upon a Time" demonstrate the synergy between Mingus and his players, and display his compositional skills. ~ Heather Phares

'Four Hands' experiments with overdubbed piano, and there are out-of-tempo sections that anticipate later, more radical experiments. 'What Is This Thing Called Love' undergoes interesting transformations, in keeping with Mingus' palimpsest approach to standards and new composition, and the use of cello (one of Mingus' first instruments) is intriguing. ~ Penguin Guide

Charles Mingus (bass, piano)
Thad Jones (trumpet)
John LaPorta (clarinet, alto sax)
Teo Macero (tenor and baritone sax)
Jackson Wiley (cello)
Clem DeRosa (drums)

1. What Is This Thing Called Love?
2. Minor Intrusion
3. Stormy Weather
4. Four Hands
5. Thrice Upon A Theme
6. Spur of the Moment

Henrique Cazes Relendo Waldir Azevedo (1997)

Don't be fooled by this kitsch cover. This is a must have for those who like choro. Waldir Azevedo was the author of many classics of this genre, like Brasileirinho, Delicado, Pedacinhos do Céu e Carioquinha. And Henrique Cazes makes a respectful but personal remakes Azevedo's tunes. Henrique is a well respected chorão, not only for his skill in playing cavaquinho, but for his knowledge. He is the author of the best book about choro, since the first times until today. He has worked in many different musical formations, from vocal groups to instrumental combos and orchestras. In this record, he adds a piano and bass to the more common formation of a choro combo, which usually is played with instruments easy to carry (as usually the musicians essays in the backyards). There's a small biography of Waldir Azevedo in comments, if someone is interested.
1- Delicado
2- Pedacinhos do céu
3- Carioquinha
4- Vê se gostas
5- Choro novo em dó
6- Chiquita
7- Camundongo
8- Mágoas de cavaquinho
9- Você, carinho e amor
10- Arrasta-pé
11- Frevo da Lira
12- Brasileirinho
13- Sobe e desce
14- Minhas mãos, meu cavaquinho
Henrique Cazes (Cavaquinho)
Marcello Gonçalves (Acoustic Guitars)
Omar Cavalheiro - (Acoustic Bass, Bass Acoustic Guitar)
Beto Cazes (percussion)
Leandro Braga (Piano)
Oscar Bolão (Drums)

Track Of The Day

Teddy Wilson - 1938 (Chronological 556)

This review comes from our own Morris:

I need to start with an admission: I did not really know Teddy Wilson before CIA. My exposure to him before CIA was primarily as a Benny Goodman sideman on Goodman's seminal Victor trio recordings from the mid-thirties. That is not to say that Wilson was not an important part of those recordings, but I definitely had concentrated on Goodman's playing. I have since become a huge fan of Wilson's leadership and encourage everyone who has not already to find the other Wilson CDs on this site.

On this Chronos, the sixth in the series, there is a little something for everyone: the likes of Lester Young, Benny Carter, and Chu Berry; about ten vocals by Billie Holiday; and, my favorite, piano solos. This CD has six piano solos that Wilson recorded which were only available by mail order, making them very rare. For those who were like me in their ignorance of Wilson's mastery of the piano, these sides show what he can do with the piano. I would describe his playing as tastefully exciting. To me, his solos never take away from the melody of the song, which was a problem with some of his contemporaries in my opinion. Billie Holiday fans will no doubt have the sides with her vocals already from other sources, but the great thing about these Chronos is that they place these recordings in a historical context which provides a CD with overall variety. Finally, one point on Nan Wynn who provides vocals on about five of the other sides. While she is no Holiday, she did have a pleasant voice which fit the band very nicely. Overall, this is another enjoyable Chronos offering by Wilson, and is both "recommended" and, dare I say, "essential".

Teddy Wilson (piano)
Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Lester Young (tenor sax)
Bud Freeman (tenor sax)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Benny Carter (alto sax)
Billie Holiday (vocal)
Bobby Hackett (cornet)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Harry James (trumpet)
Jo Jones (drums)

1. I'll Dream Tonight
2. Jungle Love
3. That Old Feeling
4. My Blue Heaven
5. Now It Can Be Told
6. Laugh And Call It Love
7. A-Tisket, A-Tasket
8. Loch Lomond
9. Tiger Rag
10. I'll See You In My Dreams
11. Alice Blue Gown
12. Everybody's Laughing
13. Here It Is Tomorrow Again
14. Say It With A Kiss
15. April In My Heart
16. I'll Never Fail You
17. They Say
18. You're So Desirable
19. You're Gonna See A Lot Of Me
20. Hello My Darling
21. Let's Dream in the Moonlight

Terry Gibbs Dream Band, Vol. 4 - Main Stem (1961)

This is a companion CD to Rab's recent post of Volume 5, The Big Cat since it's from the same live session at the Summit in Hollywood. Out of the six volumes in the series, 4 and 5 are my personal favorites. This West Coast all star band played with an exuberance typified by its leader and was bolstered by the superb arrangements of Bill Holman, Al Cohn, Shorty Rogers and Manny Albam.

Unlike the first three CDs released by Contemporary of Terry Gibbs' early-'60s "Dream Band," the music on the fourth and fifth volumes was out previously on Mercury. And while the earlier sets focused on swing-era standards, the fourth volume mostly has less common material. Gibbs' all-star orchestra (which includes trumpeter Conte Candoli, high-note trumpeter Al Porcino, trombonist Frank Rosolino, Richie Kamuca and Bill Perkins on tenors, altoists Joe Maini and Charlie Kennedy and drummer Mel Lewis among others) swings hard on such tunes as "Day In, Day Out," "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Too Close for Comfort" and "Ja-Da." It is not at all surprising that the vibraphonist-leader sounds so happy leading his short-lived band. - Scott Yanow

Al Porcino, Ray Triscari, Conte Candoli, Stu Williamson, Frank Huggins (trumpet)
Frank Rosolino, Vern Friley, Bob Edmondson (trombone)
Joe Maini, Charlie Kennedy, Richie Kamuca, Bill Perkins, Jack Nimitz (saxophone)
Terry Gibbs (vibes) Pat Moran (piano) Buddy Clark (bass) Mel Lewis (drums)
  1. Day In Day Out
  2. Summit Blues
  3. Limerick Waltz
  4. You Don't Know What Love Is
  5. Sweet Georgia Brown
  6. Nose Cone
  7. Too Close for Comfort
  8. Main Stem
  9. Ja-Da
  10. T and S
Recorded at the Summit in Hollywood, January 1961

VIDEO: Bill Evans in Europe - 5 Dates

Jazz Icons Series - 2008
Sweden - Sept 1964
Chuck Israels and Larry Bunker
France - 1965
NHOP and Alan Dawson - guest: Lee Konitz
Copenhagen Jazz Festival - 1970
Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell
Sweden - Feb 1970
Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell
Denmark - 1975
Eddie Gomez and Eliot Zigmund

John Hicks

A longtime fixture of the New York City jazz landscape, pianist John Hicks was an artist of uncommon versatility, moving effortlessly from pop standards to the avant-garde while retaining the dense physicality and intense energy that were the hallmarks of his approach. Born December 12, 1941, in Atlanta, Hicks was still an infant when his preacher father relocated the family to Los Angeles. He spent the better part of his teen years in St. Louis, and counted among his classmates there the young Lester Bowie. Hicks' mother was his first piano teacher, and after a stint at Lincoln University in Missouri he attended the Berklee School of Music and the Juilliard School; he later cited influences spanning from Fats Waller to Thelonious Monk to Methodist church hymns, and his catholic listening tastes were instrumental in shaping his far-ranging skills as a player. After touring in support of bluesman Albert King and hard bop tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, Hicks backed singer Della Reese during a 1963 New York club residency, and the city remained his home for the rest of his life. In the wake of stints with Kenny Dorham and Joe Henderson, Hicks joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1964, collaborating alongside the likes of tenorist Lee Morgan and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Two years later, he signed on with singer Betty Carter, like Blakey a keen judge of emerging talent. Upon exiting Carter's band in 1968, Hicks spent the remainder of the decade with Woody Herman and entered the decade to follow as a first-call sideman. He also moonlighted as an educator, and during the early '70s taught jazz and improvisation at Southern Illinois University. After backing Carter on her 1976 date Now It's My Turn, Hicks returned to her backing group full-time. The exposure vaulted him to new renown, and in 1979 he finally led his own studio effort, After the Morning. With 1981's Some Other Time, cut with bassist Walter Booker and drummer Idris Muhammad, Hicks also emerged as a gifted composer, writing his best-known effort, "Naima's Love Song," in honor of his young daughter. He recorded prolifically in the years to follow, concentrating on solo and small ensemble work including stints as member of the Power Trio and the Keystone Trio. He also served as the regular pianist with the Mingus Dynasty Band and for a time led his own big band. Hicks enjoyed his greatest commercial success with a series of tribute LPs celebrating the music of his mentors and influences, highlighted by 1998's Something to Live For (a collection of Billy Strayhorn compositions), 2000's Impressions of Mary Lou (Williams, of course), and 2003's Fatha's Day (honoring Earl Hines). Hicks' longest and most rewarding collaboration was his partnership with flutist Elise Wood, which launched in 1983 and after several studio sessions and tours culminated in marriage in 2001, around the time of the release of their duo recording Beautiful Friendship. Hicks died suddenly on May 10, 2006. Just three days earlier, he delivered his final performance at Harlem's St. Mark's United Methodist Church, where his father served as a minister prior to his own death. Hicks was 64 years old. ~ Jason Ankeny

John Hicks - Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 7

The friendly wood-paneled interior of Maybeck Recital Hall in the Berkeley hills has inspired many pianists to reach beyond their usual limits in the real world outside; after a tentative start, John Hicks latches on tightly to his muse here. He is at his most emotionally affecting in John Coltrane's quietly aching "After the Rain." "Speak Low" takes off on flights of near ecstasy, and he crashes through excitingly convoluted takeoffs on Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning" and Bud Powell's "Oblivion." Hicks contributes a single rollicking improvisation of his own, "Blues for Maybeck Recital Hall," amidst the program of pop and jazz standards and touching newer material like Billy Childs' "Heroes." Though not a consistently inspired concert, there are several stretches of truly breathtaking piano playing here, beautifully recorded as usual. ~ Richard S. Ginell

1. Blue In Green
2. All Of You
3. After The Rain
4. Speak Low
5. Blues For Maybeck Recital Hall
6. Heroes
7. Rhythm-A-Ning
8. Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love
9. Oblivion
10. Contemplation
11. Straighten Up And Fly Right

John Hicks - Friends Old and New

Ron seems to have missed the point that the selections, too, are friends old and new.

'92 session with pianist John Hicks playing in various combo settings with some excellent musical associates. Bassist Ron Carter, tenor saxophone dynamo Joshua Redman, trumpeter Clark Terry, trombonist Al Grey, and drummer/vocalist Grady Tate are among the friends who join Hicks for some powerhouse numbers. ~ Ron Wynn

John Hicks (piano)
Al Grey (trombone)
Joshua Redman (tenor sax)
Clark Terry (trumpet)
Greg Gisbert (trumpet)
Ron Carter (bass)
Grady Tate (drums)

1. Hicks Tone
2. I Want to Talk About You
3. Bop Scotch
4. True Blue
5. It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
6. Nutty
7. Makin' Whoopee
8. Rosetta

Sonny Clark - Standards

Standards anthologizes music that was either only released as Blue Note singles or in Japan as an LP. The music is accumulated from two 1958 sessions. This entire collection was conceived, collected, and performed most tastefully. Clark's performance is low-key and reminds one of Red Garland's block chording behind Miles a few years earlier.

Tracks 1-7:
Sonny Clark (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Wes Landers (drums). Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on December 7, 1958.

Tracks 8-14:
Sonny Clark (piano); Jymie Merritt (bass); Wes Landers (drums). Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on November 16, 1958.

1 Blues In The Night
2 Can't We Be Friends
3 Somebody Loves Me
4 All Of You
5 Dancing In The Dark
6 I Cover The Waterfront
7 Blues In The Night (Alt Tk)
8 Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You
9 Ain't No Use
10 I Can't Give You Anything But Love
11 Black Velvet
12 I'm Just A Lucky So And So
13 The Breeze And I
14 Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You (Alt Tk)

Mastered by Ron McMaster, 1988

Ron Carter - Uptown Conversation (1969)

Ron Carter's Uptown Conversation may very well be the most intriguing, challenging, and resonant statement of many he has made over the years as a leader. Originally on the Embryo imprint of Atlantic Records, Wounded Bird now reissues it with two alternate takes. As a prelude to his funkier electric efforts for CTI and the wonderful dates for Milestone Records where he emphasized the piccolo bass, these selections showcase Carter with unlikely partners in early creative improvised settings, a hint of R&B, and some of the hard-charging straight-ahead music that he is most well known for. Flute master Hubert Laws takes a prominent role on several tracks, including the title cut with its funky but not outdated style, where he works in tandem with Carter's basslines. On "R.J.," the short hard bop phrasings of Laws and Carter are peppy and brisk, but not clipped. The first rendering of "Little Waltz" apart from the Miles Davis repertoire to which Carter contributed is more pensive and delicate, with Laws at the helm rather than Davis' trumpet. Carter's trio recordings with pianist Herbie Hancock and drummer Billy Cobham are cast in a different light, as the lengthy "Half a Row" (referring to six of a twelve-tone row) is at once free, spacy, loose, and very atypical for these soon-to-be fusion pioneers. The three stay in a similar dynamic range during "Einbahnstrasse," but move to some hard bop changes informed by the brilliant chordal vamping and extrapolating of Hancock, while "Doom" is another 3/4 waltz with chiming piano offsetting Carter's skittering bass. There's also a free-and-easy duet with guitarist Sam Brown, and this reissued CD also includes alternate takes of both "Doom" and "Einbahnstrasse" as bonus tracks, the latter piece omitting the dark foreboding intro. Considering the music Ron Carter played preceding and following this effort, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more diverse, intellectually stimulating, enlivened, and especially unrestricted musical statement in his long and enduring career.
(Michael G. Nastos,
All Music Guide)

1. Uptown Conversation
2. Ten Strings
3. Half A Row
4. R.J.
5. Little Waltz
6. Einbahnstrasse
7. Doom
8. Einbahnstrasse (alt. tk.)
9. Doom (alt. tk.)

Ron Carter (bass); Hubert Laws (flute); Herbie Hancock (piano); Billy Cobham, Grady Tate (drums).

Recorded at A & R Recording Studios, New York on Oct 6 & 7, 1969.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sam Rivers - Crystals (1974)

When Sam Rivers' Crystals was released in 1974, it had been over a decade since Ornette had worked with his Free Jazz Double Quartet, nine years since Coltrane assembled his Ascension band, and six since the first Jazz Composers' Orchestra Association was formed and whose first records were issued (a couple of members of that band also perform with Rivers here). It's difficult to note in the 21st century just how forward-thinking this avant-garde big band was, and how completely innovative Rivers' compositions are. The number of musicians on this session is staggering: With Rivers, it numbers 64 pieces! A few of the names appearing here are Hamiet Bluiett, Richard Davis, Bob Stewart, John Stubblefield, Bill Barron, Robin Kenyatta, Julius Watkins, Norman Connors, Andrew Cyrille, Billy Hart, Ahmed Abdullah, Charles Sullivan, Clifford Thornton, Grachan Moncur, Ronnie Boykins, and Reggie Workman -- and no pianist. Musically, this is the mature Sam Rivers speaking from the wide base of his knowledge as a composer, improviser, and conceptualist. These compositions were written between 1959 and 1972, and were finished as new elements came to him to fit them together conceptually. The fact that all six of them are so gorgeously juxtaposed is a testament to his discipline and his vision. From the beginning of "Exultation," the horns storm out of the gate, saxophones up front in what appears to be full free jazz freakout. Trumpets and trombones bleat behind, and the bass violins bow in unison on a modal opening. Within minutes, however, the rhythm section kicks in, and a full-on swinging soprano solo accompanied by the stomping bass of Workman fills the center for about 40 bars until the entire band comes back for a restated them that is knotty yet swinging. A number of instruments then jump through the center of the piece, creating an intervallic dialogue that prompts the soloists to come back in and take it. The intervals and contrapuntal structures are subtle enough to avoid seams -- though the jagged edges in the solos provide dense and beautiful textures -- and when the whole band comes back in, one doesn't notice that they are all grooving in a whole new rhythmic situation that is full of stops, starts, and sideways maneuvers. On "Tranquility," the bassist lays down a syncopated funk groove and long, drifting melodic lines that are written out comes flowing in between the bass and Stewart's tuba. They shimmer around each other in harmonic dissonance, though with the dynamics controlled, the edges are rounded. Rivers has written some of the most complex music of his life here, allowing for short, poignant, and often strictly composed solos to complement the linear, contrapuntal structures that these towering compositions are. As soloists do give way to one another, it is remarkable that the sheer density of hard swing provides the center of the maelstrom with such a wide emotional and chromatic palette. This is spiritual music in the most profound sense in that it attempts to breach the gyre between what has previously been said -- by Ellington, most notably -- what can be said, and the musically unspeakable. There is a massive centrifugal force at work in Rivers compositions here; and it pulls everything in, each dynamic stutter, legato phrase, ostinato whisper, and alteration in pitch in favor of what comes next. The swinging nature of these tunes refutes once and for all whether or not avant-garde music can be accessible -- -though it's true Sun Ra had already done that, but never to this extent. In sum, there are harsh moments here to be sure, but they are part of a greater and far more diverse musical universe, they are shards in the prism of the deep and burning soul that these six compositions offer so freely. Of the many recordings Rivers has done, this was the very first to showcase the full range of his many gifts. It is an underrated masterpiece and among the most rewarding and adventurous listening experiences in the history of jazz. Now that it is available on CD with pristine sound, you have no excuse. (Thom Jurek, All Music Guide)

1. Exultation
2. Tranquility
3. Postlude
4. Bursts
5. Orb
6. Earth Song

Personnel: Sam Rivers (arranger, conductor, soprano & tenor saxophones); Fred Kelly (soprano, alto & baritone saxophones, flute, piccolo); Joe Ferguson (soprano & alto saxophones, flute); Roland Alexander (soprano & tenor saxophones, flute, African flute); Paul Jeffrey (tenor saxophone, flute, bassett horn); Sinclair Acey, Ted Daniel, Richard Williams (trumpet, flugelhorn); Charles Majeed Greenlee, Charles Stephens (trombone); Joe Daley (euphonium, tuba); Gregory Maker (bass); Warren Smith (drums); Harold Smith (percussion).

Recorded at Generation Sound Studios, New York, New York on March 4, 1974.

Jelly Roll Morton - The Piano Rolls

I can't tell you how much my interest has grown in this man over the years: he is, incidentally, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, 1998.

No figure stands more impressively tall in the legend and fact of early jazz than the Creole genius known as Jelly Roll Morton... What he gave to the music was invaluable, in terms of thought, emotion, and technical perspective. All of his many gifts are obvious in these 1920 solo pieces, which add something to our experience that has not existed before: a signal part of Jelly Roll Morton's output heard on record with a sound quality far beyond the technology of his own time. Stanley Crouch (from the liner note)

In the same period that Jelly Roll Morton began making acoustic recordings of his piano solos, he was also making piano rolls of his strongest material. This CD presents piano rolls that Morton made in 1924, and producer Artis Wodehouse has done a remarkable job of recording them, capturing them with a convincingly live resonance. Morton was keenly aware of studio technology, and it's fascinating to hear him exploit the extended playing time that the piano rolls provided him. Several of these pieces stretch past four minutes, and tracks like "Stratford Hunch" and "Dead Man Blues" allow Morton to extend his variations further than recording allowed, providing another opportunity to hear Morton's innovative synthesis of ragtime, blues, and spontaneous inspiration. The piano sound compares favorably with even well-restored versions of Morton's contemporaneous acoustic recordings for Gennett, with brighter highs and firmer bass notes. - Stuart Broomer

1. Midnight Mama
2. Shreveport Stomps
3. Stratford Hunch
4. Dead Man Blues
5. Grandpa's Spells
6. Tin Roof Blues
7. London Blues
8. King Porter Stomp
9. Sweet Man
10. Original Jelly Roll Blues
11. Mr. Jelly-Lord
12. Tom Cat Blues

Terry Gibbs Dream Band - The Big Cat

I mentioned a while ago that one of the best bios I've read recently was Terry Gibb's; I recommend it highly. I suppose part of the interest is that he grew up in my general neighborhood, but he's an engaging storyteller who was involved with many of the major players of his time. These Dream Band releases are highly regarded by all who know them and the sound quality is exceptional: he was the early supporter of a young Wally Heider. We posted Pat Moran's Bethlehem work not long ago, for those who may become entranced by her work here.

Taken from the same live sessions as Vol. 4 (and last out several decades ago on Mercury) this fifth release by vibraphonist Terry Gibbs' "Dream Band" has plenty of swinging numbers from the 17-piece big band. Mostly comprised of West Coast jazz all-stars (including Richie Kamuca and Bill Perkins on tenors, trumpeter Conte Candoli, trombonist Frank Rosolino and drummer Mel Lewis), the orchestra is in top form on such numbers as "Tico Tico," "Billie's Bounce," "Jump the Blues Away" and a few obscure oriignals. The inventive arrangements by Bill Holman, Manny Albam and Al Cohn insured that Terry Gibbs' Dream Band would have its own sound and the fifth volume may very well be its finest. ~ Scott Yanow

Terry Gibbs (vibraphone)
Joe Maini (alto sax)
Charlie Kennedy (alto sax)
Richie Kamuca (tenor sax)
Bill Perkins (tenor sax)
Jack Nimitz (baritone sax)
Al Porcino (trumpet)
Ray Triscari (trumpet)
Conte Candoli (trumpet)
Stu Williamson (trumpet)
Frank Huggins (trumpet)
Frank Rosolino (trombone)
Pat Moran (piano)
Mel Lewis (drums)

1. Tico Tico
2. Big Bad Bob
3. Big Cat
4. Soft Eyes
5. Billie's Bounce
6. Pretty Blue Eyes
7. I'll Take Romance
8. Do You Wanna Jump, Children?
9. Nature Boy
10. Jump The Blues Away
11. Sleep

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sonny Clark - My Conception

This welcome collection pairs two late-1950s sessions that sat in the Blue Note vaults for decades after they were recorded. It offers a variety of gifts for the Sonny Clark fan. First, there is the matter sidemen. The March 1959 session that spawned the first six tunes boasts the presence of tenor Hank Mobley and drummer Art Blakey, both found in inspired form here. Mobley is bright throughout, playing with a bit more fire than usual while producing tender and moving work on the ballad title track. Blakey, meanwhile, is an animal (listen to his fury on "Minor Meeting"), goading and prodding and steering from the background. The final three songs, from December of 1957, include guitarist Kenny Burrell, tenor Clifford Jordan and drummer Pete LaRoca. Of course, Clark is the unifying theme. His compositions are crafty enough to keep things interesting but simple enough to allow assured, fluid improvisation. His piano work shows equal parts grace and grit, delicacy and drive, and his support of the other soloists is consistently interesting and lively. ~ Marc Greilsamer (Editorial Review from

1. Junka
2. Blues Blue
3. Minor Meeting (Second Version)
4. Royal Flush (Second Version)
5. Some Clark Bars
6. My Conception
7. Minor Meeting (First Version) *
8. Eastern Incident *
9. Little Sonny *

Tracks 1-6:
Donald Byrd (tp) Hank Mobley (ts) Sonny Clark (p) Paul Chambers (b) Art Blakey (d)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, March 29, 1959, Stereo recording.

Tracks 7-9:
Clifford Jordan (ts) Sonny Clark (p) Kenny Burrell (g) Paul Chambers (b) Pete LaRoca (d)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, December 8, 1957, Mono recording.

Max Roach feat. Anthony Braxton - Birth & Rebirth (1978)

The duets with Braxton are a key point. In ther anxiety to sort-code music, critics couldn't decide who was climbing into whose pigeonhole, whether Birth and Rebirth was a better example of reedman's accommodation to the mainstream, or of Roach's avant-garde credentials. In the event, of course, they met exactly head-to-head. Braxton, even on this vintage, is still making respectful gestures towards bop, and Roach is constantly looking for points beyond orthodox time-signatures.
The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD - Ninth Edition)

The first of drummer Max Roach's two duet sets with multireedist Anthony Braxton consists of seven fairly free improvisations that they created in the studio. Each of the selections (particularly "Birth" which builds gradually in intensity to a ferocious level, the waltz time of "Magic and Music," the atmospheric "Tropical Forest" and "Softshoe") have their own plot and purpose. Braxton (who performs on alto, soprano, sopranino and clarinet) and Roach continually inspire each other, which is probably why they would record a second set the following year. Stimulating avant-garde music. (Scott Yanow)

  1. Birth
  2. Magic And Music
  3. Tropical Forest
  4. Dance Griot
  5. Spirit Possession
  6. Softshoe
  7. Rebirth
Anthony Braxton - alto, soprano & sopranino saxophones, clarinet
Max Roach - drums

Recorded in September 1978 at Ricordi Studios, Milano.

Track Of The Day

Yes. Track of the day.

Don Byron - Tuskegee Experiments

" On ... 'In Memoriam: Uncle Dan' he shows what a fine bass clarinetist he is, closer to Harry Carney than Eric Dolphy. Ellington's 'Mainstem' cements the association." ~ Penguin Guide

Clarinetist Don Byron immediately became famous in the jazz world after the release of his debut CD as a leader. The strong themes (all but a melody apiece from Robert Schumann and Duke Ellington are originals), the advanced yet logical improvising, and the often-dramatic music make this a particularly memorable set. Byron, doubling on clarinet and bass clarinet, is heard in settings ranging from an unaccompanied solo and duets with bassist Reggie Workman and pianist Joe Berkovitz to medium-size groups with such sidemen as guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, drummer Ralph Peterson Jr., pianist Edsel Gomez, and others. Although several songs involve justifiable social protest (including the title cut, which has a poem by Sadiq), the music also stands alone outside of the issues. Highly recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Clarinetist-composer Don Byron declared his liberation from the tyrannies of both style and history with this 1992 release, one of the most significant debut recordings of the 1990s. The sheer span of Byron's musical reach is awe-inspiring, including Ellington's "Mainstem" and Robert Schumann's tender "Auf Eiener Burg" in a program that ranges from the klezmer-suffused "Waltz for Ellen," an unaccompanied solo, to the Latin beat of "Next Love." Part of the album's magnificence, too, is just how extraordinarily well Byron plays the clarinet. He's joined by a shifting cast of sidemen that includes several regular associates, like bassist Reggie Workman, for the atmospheric dialogue with bass clarinet on "In Memoriam: Uncle Dan," pianist Edsel Gomez, and guitarist Bill Frisell, whose bending, soaring electric-guitar solos often match Byron's own leaping, virtuosic performances. The title track, with a powerful reading by the poet Sadiq, is a riveting poem inspired by the notorious "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male." The grotesque medical experiment provides a subject potent enough to make the fusion of jazz and poetry work, melding the two into one. ~ Stuart Broomer

Don Byron (clarinet, bass clarinet)
Sadiq (spoken vocals)
Greta Buck (violin)
Richie Schwarz (marimba)
Edsel Gomez (piano)
Joe Berkovitz (piano)
Bill Frisell (guitar)
Lonnie Plaxico (bass)
Reggie Workman (bass)
Kenny Davis (bass)
Ralph Peterson Jr. (drums)
Pheeroan akLaff (drums)

1. Waltz For Ellen
2. Tuskegee Strutter's Ball
3. In Memoriam: Uncle Dan
4. Next Love
5. Tears
6. Mainstem
7. Diego Riviera
8. Tuskegee Experiment
9. "Auf einer Burg"

Chico Freeman - Still Sensitive

He might be less sensitive were he to put his shirt back on.

I am toying with the idea of having guest reviewers: If you are interested, let me know and I'll send links to a CD, you write the review, and it gets posted posthaste. Bob's yer uncle. Step right up!

Freeman's playing always sounds entirely of the moment, technically adroit, rooted in the past but always searching for something beyond. ~ Penguin Guide

An excellent tenor saxophonist and the son of Von Freeman, Chico Freeman has had a busy and diverse career, with many recordings ranging from advanced hard bop to nearly free avant-garde jazz. He originally played trumpet, not taking up the tenor until he was a junior in college. Freeman graduated from Northwestern University in 1972, played with R&B groups, and joined the AACM. In 1977, he moved to New York, where he worked with Elvin Jones, Sun Ra, Sam Rivers' big band, Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, and Don Pullen, in addition to leading his own groups. He recorded a dozen albums as a leader during 1975-1982. Starting in 1984, Freeman has played on a part-time basis with the Leaders, he has recorded on a few occasions with his father and in 1989, he put together an electric band called Brainstorm. Chico Freeman has recorded through the years as a leader for Dharma, India Navigation, Contemporary, Black Saint, Elektra/Musician, Black Hawk, Palo Alto, Jazz House, and In & Out. ~ Scott Yanow

Chico Freeman (soprano and tenor sax)
John Hicks (piano)
Cecil McBee (bass)
Winard Harper (drums)

1. Answer Me, My Love
2. Angel Eyes
3. When I Fall In Love
4. Nature Boy
5. If I Should Lose You
6. In Her Eyes
7. Time After Time
8. Someone To Watch Over Me
9. After The Rain
10. San Vicente

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cecil Taylor - Olu Iwa (1986)

On the shelf for eight years before release, and whith Wright and McCall both gone in the interim, this already has the feel of history about it. Some of the music, too, has one reflecting on Taylor's own history: the presence of Barker's marimba harcks back to Earl Griffith on the ancient "Looking Ahead!", and the small group with horns reminds one of "Unit Structures". But the two sprawling pieces here (the first is almost 50 minutes; the second , where the horns depart, is nearly 30) have moved far on from those days. Alternately hymnal, purgatorial, intensely concentrated and wildly abandoned, the first theme is a carefully organized yet unfettered piece that again disproves Taylor's isolation (it's firmly within free jazz traditions, yet sounds like something no one else could have delivered). The second, despite the absence of the towering Brötzmann, superb in the first half, is if anything even more fervent, with the quartet - a more-time appearance for this band on record - playing at full strech. Another great one. (The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD - Ninth Edition)

B Ee Ba Nganga Ban'a Eee! (48:21)
Olu Iwa (Lord of Character) (27:09)

Cecil Taylor: piano; Thurman Barker: marimba, percussion; William Parker: bass; Steve McCall: drums.
Earl McIntyre: trombone (1); Peter Bröztmann: tenor sax, tarogato (1); Frank Wright: tenor sax (1)

Recorded live during the "Workshop Freie Musik 1986" of Berlin, April 11 & 12 1986.

Frank Wess - Tryin' To Make My Blues Turn Green

Frank Wess has always been a steady, reliable swinger, able to play swaggering blues and soulful ballads with equal facility and hold his own on more challenging bop pieces. The 12 tracks on his release range from his own swing-tinged originals to the inevitable standards and fine reworkings of jazz pieces by Kenny Burrell and Horace Parlan. Highly professional, nicely played blues-swing material from an often overlooked, dependable improviser. ~ Ron Wynn

One of the first major jazz flutists, Frank Wess has also been a top Lester Young-influenced tenorman, an expert first altoist, and an occasional composer/arranger -- certainly a valuable man to have around. Early on he toured with Blanche Calloway, served in the military, and had stints with Billy Eckstine Orchestra (1946), Eddie Heywood, Lucky Millinder, and R&B star Bull Moose Jackson. That was all just a prelude to Wess' important period with Count Basie's big band, from 1953-1964. His flute playing, so expertly utilized in Neal Hefti's arrangements, gave the Basie Orchestra a fresh new sound, and his cool-toned tenor contrasted well with the more passionate sound of fellow tenor Frank Foster; Wess also had opportunities to play alto with the classic big band. Since that time, Wess has freelanced in countless settings, playing with Clark Terry's big band, the New York Quartet (with Roland Hanna) during the second half of the 1970s, Dameronia (1981-1985), and Toshiko Akiyoshi's big band, and has also had occasional reunions with Frank Foster.

Frank Wess (alto and tenor sax, flute, bass flute)
Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet)
Richard Wyands (piano)
Steve Turre (trombone, conch shell)
Scott Robinson (tenor and baritone sax, alto clarinet)
Greg Gisbert (trumpet)
Lynn Seaton (bass)
Gregory Hutchinson (drums)

1. Come Back To Me
2. Tryin' To Make My Blues Turn Green
3. Listen To The Dawn
4. And So It Is
5. Short Circuit
6. Little Esther
7. Stray Horn
8. Night Lights
9. Surprise! Surprise!
10. Blues In The Car
11. Small Talk
12. Alfie

James P. Johnson - Runnin' Wild (1921-1926)

Some more piano rolls from James P. There isn't much info given other than these rolls being created between 1921 and 1926 and that some of the songs were not otherwise recorded by the stride master. Digital restoration by Allen Lowe using the Cedar system.
  1. Runnin' Wild Medley: The Charleston/Old Fashioned Love/Open Your Heart/Love Bug
  2. Carolina Shout
  3. Arkansas Blues
  4. Ole Miss Blues
  5. Harlem Choc'late Babies on Parade
  6. Cry Baby Blues
  7. Eccentricity
  8. Sugar
  9. The Down Home Blues
  10. (Look) What a Fool I've Been
  11. Muscle Shoals Blues

Gene Krupa - 1947-1949 (Chronological 1319)

Krupa experiments with bop a few years before his old boss Benny Goodman.

The first glimpse we get of Gene as a leader comes on the peerless 'Disc Jockey Jump', which originally went out backed with 'By The River St Marie', near enough the perfect party record. 'Jump' owes its place in musical history very largely to a crisp arrangement by the 19-year-old Gerry Mulligan, who'd already done the charts for 'How High The Moon' a year or so earlier. George Williams and Eddie Finckel do the honours elsewhere and herein lies the problem, for these were astute industry guys who knew what was going to sell. There's little here to reflect what the Krupa band was capable of as a live act.

There was, however, a new sound around and the fascination of this disc is hearing Gene tackling bebop. On 'Gene's Boogie', he declines Williams's invitation to give it a go, but also concedes that swing might not be the thing any more. But given that even at his most restrained Krupa could give the USAF lessons in 'dropping bombs', bop held no terrors for him and it was inevitable that he'd at least flirt with it. Recorded in January, 'Bop Boogie' and the even crunchier 'Lemon Drop' are model big-band bop, the latter graced by a superb Frank Rosolino. That later group also features high-wire work by Roy Eldridge, though for the most part Krupa stuck to his familiar pool of quick-fingered swing players. ~ Penguin Guide

After Anita O'Day suddenly quit his band in 1946, Gene Krupa went out looking for a replacement female vocalist. He discovered Carolyn Grey performing with a no-name intermission band and hired her at once. Grey, who also sang with Woody Herman and Sonny Dunham, had a pleasant voice and may be heard at her best on "Old Devil Moon," the opening track of this 14th installment in the complete chronologically reissued works of Gene Krupa on Classics. These recordings, made in New York and Los Angeles between January 1947 and January 1949, all originally appeared on 78-rpm 10" red label Columbia records. During this portion of Krupa's career, stylistic adjustments were made to modernize the overall sound of the band. Gerry Mulligan's arrangement of his and Krupa's collaborative opus "Disc Jockey Jump" meets all the requirements of big-band bop. "By the River St. Marie" was the marvelously solid flip side of Columbia 38590. It's worth noting that some of the best solos on this compilation come from the saxophone section. As popular tastes demanded increasingly large quantities of sentimental vocals, Krupa employed Tom Berry and Buddy Hughes, a couple of standard-issue male crooners. Yet by the end of 1947, Krupa's band was sounding positively progressive, with flashy original compositions and arrangements by Eddie Finckel. Carolyn Grey had been replaced by Delores Hawkins, a comparatively deep-voiced individual who sounds much better here than on a horribly overbearing remake of "Let Me Off Uptown," where she carries on with all the subtlety of Cass Daley. The recordings made on January 26, 1949, feature Hawkins at her best during "Bop Boogie," excellent bop scat vocals from trombonist Frank Rosolino, deep tones from the timpani, and a bongo handler worthy of Machito's Orquesta. On the "exotic" "Similau," Bill Black's conventional crooning is strafed with lightning-quick bop scat runs sung in duet by Rosolino and Hawkins. This music, so emblematic of Krupa's (and Woody Herman's and Charlie Barnet's) passing involvement with bop during the late '40s, adds yet another dimension to the already diverse life and works of Gene Krupa. ~ arwulf arwulf

Gene Krupa (drums)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Al Porcino (trumpet)
Don Fagerquist (trumpet)
Urbie Green (trombone)
Frank Rehak (trombone)
Frank Rosolino (trombone, vocals)

1. Old Devil Moon
2. Same Old Blues
3. Disc Jockey Jump
4. By The River St. Marie
5. Derams Are A Dime A Dozen
6. Yes, Yes, Honey
7. Gene's Boogie
8. Starburst
9. I'll Never Make The Same Mistake Again
10. Fun And Fancy Free
11. Please Don't Play Number 6 Tonight
12. I May Be Wrong
13. Teach Me, Teach Me, Baby
14. You Turned The Tables On Me
15. It's Watcha Do With Watcha Got
16. I Should Have Kept On Dreaming
17. Calling Dr. Gillespie
18. Up An Atom
19. Bop Boogie
20. Lemon Drop
21. Bambina Mia
22. Similau

Seegs brings us ...

The Best Pianists You Never Heard…Maybe

Connie Crothers/Lennie Popkin Quartet – New York Night

Connie Crothers is not underrated—at least by those who’ve heard her. But not nearly enough jazz lovers have heard Connie Crothers, an imaginative, hard driving pianist, who moves from bop to postbop to free jazz with equal facility. Chris Kelsey sums up her career in his nice AMG bio: “Connie Crothers is a member of that unfortunately not-so-exclusive club of first-rate jazz improvisers who (for reasons unfair) have been relegated to the fringes of the jazz public's consciousness. Why she's not more well-known and/or critically acclaimed has nothing to do with any lack of skill or originality, for Crothers has both to spare. Perhaps the determining non-musical factor in her neglect is the fact that she's an unrepentant disciple of that most neglected of jazz geniuses, the late Lennie Tristano. The knotty intricacies of Crothers' hyper-linear style are indeed frequently invested with her mentor's measured reserve, yet her manifestly intellectual approach to the demands of jazz improvisation does not preclude the expression of emotion. Crothers' playing is very intense; for all her self-possession, she can be quite extroverted. The defining aspect of her style is the freedom she conveys and exploits within the circumscribed boundaries of jazz's standard small-group format.

Crothers began taking piano lessons and composing at the age of nine. As a youngster, she frequently played recitals and concerts, sometimes performing her own compositions. She attended the University of California at Berkeley, where she majored in music with an emphasis on composition. Crothers could find little with which to relate in contemporary approaches to composition, so she turned to jazz as a creative outlet. She became enamored of Tristano's music, and in 1962 she moved to New York in order to study with him. Formal and informal lessons continued with Tristano for ten years. In 1972, Crothers began performing privately for small audiences in Tristano's home. After a year of these, Tristano produced her first "gig": a solo concert in Carnegie Hall. In 1974, Crothers recorded her first album, Perception, on the SteepleChase label. The next year, she returned to Carnegie Hall in a performance with tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, drummer Roger Mancuso, and bassist Joe Solomon. In 1979, Crothers co-produced (with saxophonist Lenny Popkin) the Lennie Tristano Memorial Concert at Town Hall in New York; that same year she also co-founded the Lennie Jazz Foundation. Crothers recorded Swish, a duo album with drummer Max Roach, in 1982. In the '80s and '90s, the pianist worked as a soloist and in groups that at various times included Popkin, alto saxophonist Richard Tabnik, tenor saxophonist Charlie Krachy, bassist Cameron Brown, and drummer Carol Tristano, among others. Crothers remains at or near the center of a group that perpetuates the Tristano ideal, though her own music retains a personal identity. “

Concerning New York Night, Yanow says, “Tenor saxophonist Lenny Popkin sometimes resembles his idol Warne Marsh in his approach, but his ideas are full of interesting variations and his interaction with Crothers is colorful. With steady timekeeping supplied by bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Carol Tristano [Lennie’s daughter], this is a highly enjoyable outing of advanced straight-ahead jazz.”

Connie Crothers piano

Lenny Popkin tenor sax

Cameron Brown bass

Carol Tristano drums

1. Me ‘n You

2. Roy’s Joy

3. You Go to My Head

4. Leave Me

5. Prez Says

6. Lennie Bird

Gil Evans - Complete Pacific Jazz Sessions

If Stan Kenton's ponderous Sophisticated Approach (1961) showed how little jazz it is possible to make with an orchestra the size of Texas, Gil Evans' The Complete Pacific Jazz Sessions shows how much more you can make with a lot less. The CD brings together two collections of brilliantly reimagined standards, New Bottle, Old Wine (1958) and Great Jazz Standards (1959), recorded when Evans was red-hot from two successes with Miles Davis, Miles Ahead and Porgy And Bess.

Evans' signature brass choir is in place—creatively voiced, spaciously arranged, a supple, multi-coloured, sonically surprising counterpoint to a succession of superb soloists. The added bonus, for Evans' projects, is the foregrounding of saxophone and clarinet soloists—Cannonball Adderley on New Bottle, Old Wine and Steve Lacy and Budd Johnson on Great Jazz Standards.

Trombonist Frank Rehak, tubaist Bill Barber and Evans himself all get to stretch out on New Bottle, Old Wine, but the album is practically an Adderley showcase (he too was newly hot in '58). He blows his stirring, circa-Somethin' Else stew of bop and soul, and it's good—but Lacy and the original swing-to-bop missing link, Johnson, are the ones who will make the hair on your neck curl.

Lacy's solos on Monk's “Straight No Chaser” and John Lewis' “Django” must be some of the finest pre-free improvisations he recorded, already heading from quirky to out-there. Johnson's clarinet solo on Don Redman's spooky, swing-meets-whole tone classic, “Chant Of The Weed,” and slow-burning, stirring tenor solo on Evans' “La Nevada” are some of the finest the all-but-forgotten genius ever recorded. (Both tracks appear here for the first time in their original unedited form, with missing passages restored, and the whole Great Jazz Standards set has been sympathetically remixed from a newly discovered three-track master tape.)

Trumpeter Johnny Coles, featured on both albums, has the inevitable misfortune of being compared to Miles Davis and being found to be... different. Sunny, open and extroverted, he may not be a stylist of Davis' proportions, but he's an enjoyable alternative foil for Evans' arrangements.

Two magnificent but neglected albums rolled into one, and still coming up fresh as daisies. Chris May

Gil Evans (piano)
Chuck Wayne, Ray Crawford (guitars)
Budd Johnson (clarinet, tenor saxophone)
Steve Lacy (soprano saxophone)
Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone)
Johnny Coles (trumpet)
Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Paul Chambers, Tommy Potter (bass)
Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey (drums)

1. St Louis Blues
2. King Porter Stomp
3. Willow Tree
4. Struttin' With Some Barbecue
5. Lester Leaps In
6. 'Round Midnight
7. Manteca
8. Bird Feathers
9. Davenport Blues
10. Straight No Chaser
11. Ballad Of The Sad Young Men
12. Joy Spring
13. Django
14. Chant Of The Weed
15. La Nevada

BN LP 5004 | Fats Navarro - Fats Navarro Memorial Album

The Squirel
52nd Street Theme
Lady Bird
The Chase

Double Talk
Our Delight

This 10" collects tracks from four different sessions (one from 1947, two from 1948, one from 1949), I guess probably from his time in New York as part of Tadd Dameron's group. Side Two opens with 'Double Talk' which actually comes from a Bud Powell session in 1949 (he was near the end of his career at this point and plays without the usual power and range - but still beautifully), the side concludes with 'Dameronia' and 'Our Delight' - taken from the 1947 session.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Eccentric Soul: Smart's Palace

Crispi just posted one of the Eccentric Soul series, and that reminded me that this has been sitting in the to-do pile for a while. The Cap Soul set will be next, probably by next week. Links to earlier entries are in Comments.

Smart's Palace was anything but royal. Beyond the bloodlines of the Smart Brothers and their jester brother Leroy, the only kings and queens to be discovered there were JB and Aretha playing on the Wurlitzer. However, between 1963-1975 the club held court for the entire Wichita, Kansas soul scene. At its heart was Dick Smart, bassist, club owner, DJ, record store owner, promoter, and sole proprietor of the Solo label. Collected here for the first time is the story and songs that came out of this thriving, if not totally unknown scene. Housed in Numero's signature slipcase, the 19 track disc features Theron & Darrell, Baby Neal, Chocolate Snow, L.T. & the Soulful Dynamics, Fred Williams & the Jewels Band, and The Hard Road, on labels like Solo, Kanwic, Vantage, and Lee-Mac, all fully annotated with a ransom of pictures, posters, and ephemera fit for a king.

1. I'm Not Ashamed (Baby Neal & the Smart Brothers)
2. I Was Made To Love Her (Theron & Darrell)
3. Tell Her (Fred Williams & the Jewels Band)
4. Barefoot Philly (Smart Brothers)
5. A Day In The Life (Chocolate Snow)
6. Lorraine (Baby Neal & the Smart Brothers)
7. Everybody Needs Somebody (L.T. & the Soulful Dynamics)
8. It's Your Love (Theron & Darrell)
9. If You Really Love Me (Hard Road featuring C.C. Neal)
10. Inflation (Chocolate Snow)
11. Don't Hate Let's Communicate (Kenneth Carr with John Smart's Band)
12. Herbie's Bag (John Smart's Band)
13. The Dance Got Old (Fred Williams & the Jewels Band)
14. I've Got A Funny Feeling (Smart Brothers with Baby Neal)
15. Crazy About You Baby (L.T. & the Soulful Dynamics)
16. Mercy Baby (Tim Jacob)
17. Dedicated To You (Hard Road featuring C.C. Neal)
18. Let Me Be Your Christmas Toy (Chocolate Snow)
19. It's Like Heaven (Chocolate Snow)

Birth Of The Cool Vol. 2

Taking its name from Davis' legendary 1950 recording, this welcome, if belated, compilation scoops up all of the Capitol cuts from the early '50s by two of the nonet's most important disciples, Shorty Rogers and his Giants and the Gerry Mulligan Tentette. Mulligan, one of the original members of Davis Nonet, played with Rogers years before in the Stan Kenton Orchestra, so collecting the threesome here is foot-stampingly apropos. They're notable, too, in that the eight Mulligan tracks are the only ones recorded with a 10-piece he organized in 1952, with Chet Baker taking a brilliant turn on trumpet.

The album's topper comes late, and doesn't hang around for long: Miles Davis and the Metronome All-Stars only appear on the final two tracks. Davis is joined by a constellation of jazz greats, including Stan Getz on the tenor, George Shearing at piano, Max Roach on drums and Terry Gibbs on vibes. Shearing's "Local 802 Blues," which closes the album, gets everybody in on the act, with a series of thrilling, paired-off solos.

That makes it more than a nice companion piece to the original "Birth of the Cool" masterpiece. The result, in fact, is a primer on the West Coast sound that's wider and deeper in scope. Now, some say Rogers' group invented that jazz subgenre with the six songs collected here. (They also appeared in 1952 on a record called "Modern Sounds.") But, again, these are all guys on loan from the Kenton band, and Davis' record with producer Gil Evans came first -- so I think they need to be part of the conversation, too. ~ Nick DeRiso

Shorty Rogers (trumpet)
Art Pepper (alto sax)
Jimmy Giuffre (tenor sax)
Hampton Hawes (piano)
John Graas (French horn)
Gene Englund (trombone)
Don Bagley (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)
Hollywood: October 8, 1951

Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax, piano)
Chet Baker (trumpet)
Pete Candoli (trumpet)
Bud Shank (alto sax)
Bob Enevoldsen (valve trombone)
John Graas (French horn)
Ray Seigal (tu)
Don Davidson (baritone sax)
Joe Mondragon (bass)
Chico Hamilton (drums)
Larry Bunker (drums)
Capitol Studios, Los Angeles: January 29 and 31, 1953

Miles Davis (trumpet)
Lee Konitz (alto sax)
Stan Getz (tenor sax)
Serge Chaloff (baritone sax)
Terry Gibbs (vibes)
George Shearing (piano, arr)
Kai Winding (trombone)
John LaPorta (clarinet)
Billy Bauer (guitar)
Eddie Safranski (bass)
Max Roach (drums)
Ralph Burns (arr)
New York: January 23, 1951

1. Four Mothers
2. Didi
3. Sam And The Lady
4. Popo
5. Over The Rainbow
6. Apropos
7. Westwood Walk
8. Simbah
9. Walking Shoes
10. Rocker
11. A Ballad
12. Taking A Chance On Love
13. Flash
14. Ontet
15. Early Spring
16. Local 802 Blues

James P. Johnson - Carolina Shout: Original Piano Rolls

Johnson is of great importance if only for his influence on Thelonious Monk. This issue is the Biograph release, and they sound damn good to me.

Too little is known now about James P. Johnson's orchestral music (of which much has been lost) to make any settled judgement about his significance a a 'straight' composer. Ironically, though, his enormous importance as a synthesizer of many strands of black music - ragtime, blues, popular and sacred song - with his own stride style has been rather eclipsed by the tendency to see him first and only as Fats Waller's teacher. Johnson was in almost every respect a better musician than Waller, and perhaps the main reason for his relative invisibility has been the dearth of reliable recorded material. The early Biograph brings together Johnson's rather staccato and lumpy piano rolls, an acquired taste but of unmistakable significance for the history and development of jazz in the period. 'Charleston' is a rarity, and 'Carolina Shout' had a profound impact on Duke Ellington. ~ Penguin Guide

James P. Johnson (piano)

1. Steeplechase Rag
2. Twilight Rag
3. Carolina Shout
4. Baltimore Buzz
5. Gypsy Blues
6. Harlem Strut
7. Eccentricity
8. Don't Mess With Me
9. Nervous Blues
10. Ole Miss Blues
11. I Ain't Givin' Nothin' Away
12. Muscle Shoals Blues
13. Farewell Blues
14. Charleston

Ray Brown - Live at the Loa: Summer Wind (1988)

Ray Brown has many great contributions to jazz as a leader and a sideman, but one additional way in which he helped jazz was his encouraging Gene Harris to give up his early retirement and go back out on the road. The pianist was a part of Brown's groups for several years before he formed a working quartet and became a leader for good once again. This 1988 concert at a since-defunct Santa Monica night club (co-owned by Brown) finds the two, along with drummer Jeff Hamilton, at the top of their game. A phone ringing in the background distracts momentarily from Brown's opening solo in his composition "The Real Blues," during which Harris repeats a bluesy tremolo, which may be an inside joke about the early distraction. Harris take a blues-drenched approach to "Mona Lisa" before giving way to the leader's solo, while his lyrical approach to "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" is shimmering. Hamilton's soft brushes are prominent in "Little Darlin'," but his explosive playing provides a powerful pulse to the very unusual strutting take of "It Don't Mean a Thing." This extremely satisfying CD is warmly recommended. - Ken Dryden

Gene Harris (piano)
Ray Brown (bass)
Jeff Hamilton (drums)
  1. Summer Wind
  2. The Real Blues
  3. Li'l Darlin'
  4. It Don't Mean a Thing
  5. Mona Lisa
  6. Buhaina Buhaina
  7. Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
  8. Bluesology
Recorded at The Loa, Santa Monica, CA, July 1988

Seegs brings us ...

The Best Pianists You Never Heard … Maybe

Part 1: Peter Madsen – Three of a Kind

The self-titled Three of a Kind puts the trio’s entire recorded output here at CIA. Ken Dryden doesn’t demur in his enthusiasm for this set: “The first of three CDs made by Three of a Kind for Minor Music during the mid-'90s, this session mixes standards, well-known jazz compositions, and originals. Pianist Peter Madsen, bassist Dwayne Dolphin, and drummer Bruce Cox are a middle-of-the-road bop trio, concentrating on teamwork and strong solos, without any unnecessary flash. They bring new life to chestnuts like "I'm Old Fashioned" and "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye," while also finding something fresh to explore within the jazz canon, including Sonny Rollins' "Paul's Pal" and Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night." Each musician also contributes an original to the session that inspires his partners. This is a great disc that will become increasingly hard to find, since it is no longer in print.” The music deserves to live!

Peter Madsen piano
Dwayne Dolphin bass
Bruce Cox drums

1. Paul’s Pal
2. I’m Old Fashioned
3. Makin’ Whoopee
4. My Buddy
5. Take the Six Train
6. Ev’ry time We Say Goodbye
7. On a Misty Night
8. Three of a Kind
9. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
10. Danni

Peter Madsen has 2 CDs currently in print: Sphere Essence: Another Side of Monk and Prevue of Tomorrow. Both are well worth acquiring.

Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign

Albert King recorded a lot in the early '60s, including some classic sides, but they never quite hit the mark. They never gained a large audience, nor did they really capture the ferocity of his single-string leads. Then he signed with Stax in 1966 and recorded a number of sessions with the house band, Booker T. & the MG's, and everything just clicked. The MG's gave King supple Southern support, providing an excellent contrast to his tightly wound lead guitar, allowing to him to unleash a torrent of blistering guitar runs that were profoundly influential, not just in blues, but in rock & roll (witness Eric Clapton's unabashed copping of King throughout Cream's Disraeli Gears). Initially, these sessions were just released as singles, but they were soon compiled as King's Stax debut, Born Under a Bad Sign. Certainly, the concentration of singles gives the album a consistency -- these were songs devised to get attention -- but, years later, it's astounding how strong this catalog of songs is: "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Crosscut Saw," "Oh Pretty Woman," "The Hunter," "Personal Manager," and "Laundromat Blues" form the very foundation of Albert King's musical identity and legacy. Few blues albums are this on a cut-by-cut level; the songs are exceptional and the performances are rich, from King's dynamic playing to the Southern funk of the MG's. It was immediately influential at the time and, over the years, it has only grown in stature as one of the very greatest electric blues albums of all time. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Born Under a Bad Sign dates back to a time when albums were collections of singles, and when singles, designed for radio and jukebox play, seldom ran more than three and a half minutes. That limitation meant that artists had to make an impact quickly and firmly. In blues, the tendency of songs to go on a bit had to be curbed to produce performances with punch and point. There are few better examples of this process in action than Albert King's 1960s tracks like "Crosscut Saw," "Born Under a Bad Sign," and his story of hot whispers during the hot-wash cycle, "Laundromat Blues." With his thick voice and no-nonsense guitar, King brought absolute blues credibility to the well-made commercial single, and even tracks that were recorded purely for the album, like the aching slow blues "As the Years Go Passing By," became classics. Reissued with the original funky cover art, Born Under a Bad Sign is one of the foundation stones of a blues collection. ~ Tony Russell

Albert King (guitar, vocals)
Steve Cropper (guitar)
Isaac Hayes (piano)
Booker T. Jones (piano)
Donald "Duck" Dunn (bass)
Al Jackson, Jr. (drums)

The Memphis Horns
Joe Arnold
Wayne Jackson
Andrew Love

1. Born Under A Bad Sign
2. Crosscut Saw
3. Kansas City
4. Oh, Pretty Woman
5. Down Don't Bother Me
6. The Hunter
7. I Almost Lost My Mind
8. Personal Manager
9. Laundromat Blues
10. As The Years Go Passing By
11. The Very Thought Of You

Franco Ambrosetti - Tentets

Franco Ambrosetti for Enja from 1985.
Franco Ambrosetti-Flugelhorn Michael Brecker-Sax (Tenor) Alex Brofsky-French Horn
Steve Coleman-Sax (Alto) Tommy Flanagan-Piano Dave Holland-Bass Daniel Humair-Drums
Howard Johnson-Tuba, Sax (Baritone) Michael Mossman-Trumpet Lew Soloff-Trumpet

Gave this a spin again the other day and thought....damn that's a fine album.So I had a quick scout round the old interweb and found there's a cd re issue in Japan but my god it's expensive!($50+!!!!)
"This is a wonderful album to listen to while you're driving your car.Seriously.Make a cassette tape of it and play full blast while you're caught up in the heavy morning traffic in your city centre, or breezing down the autobahn or freeway into sunset, or cruising the deep suburbs late at night or even pulled into a curb waiting for a friend who's making a stop in a shop."
From the original liner notes which then ramble on with a complex set of musical / driving analogies ... anyway it gives you a flavour of what this high powered tentet is all about.
Happy listening wherever you drive.

Don Cherry and Krzysztof Penderecki - Actions

This recording documents a live performance at the Donaueschingen Music Festival in 1971, but the co-crediting is somewhat misleading. While the New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra (named for Cherry's magnificent album from a few years prior, Eternal Rhythm) appears throughout, the first two pieces are by Cherry, the last by Penderecki. The two "principals" don't actually come into contact with each other. The orchestra is truly an all-star cast of the cream of European improvisers, each and every one having gone on to significant achievements. Cherry's "Humus - The Life Exploring Force" is a suite not too dissimilar to those he performed on both Eternal Rhythm and the ensuing Relativity Suite (including an early version of "Desireless"), ranging from raga-inspired lines to bluesy refrains, to jaunty modal riffs. If the performance is a little on the ragged side and if vocalist Loes Macgillycutty proves somewhat overbearing, it more than makes up for it in enthusiasm and joy. This is followed by a brief encore in which Cherry gets the audience to sing along on a complex (for Westerners) Indian scale; it's quite enchanting before exploding into a short, orchestral free-for-all. Penderecki's "Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra" is another kettle of fish entirely. The composer had often used jazz elements in his previous works, though always sublimated to his overall classical (if avant-garde) direction. Here, he makes a good attempt to meet this "foreign" genre halfway, allowing the orchestra much latitude for improvisation while supplying dark and brooding borders to keep things corralled. The problem is, that's basically all there is to the piece: alternating written parts (fine in and of themselves) and free improv (also energetically performed) with little to conceptually bind them. It's not a bad performance by any means, and is of some degree of historical import if only to document a relatively rare meeting of the jazz and classical avant-garde, but it doesn't quite hold together as a solid work. Fans of Cherry, though, will definitely want to own this disc as a significant addition to his stellar work of the late '60s and early '70s. ~ Brian Olewnick

The New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra
Manfred Schoof (trumpet, cornet)
Kenny Wheeler (trumpet, cornet)
Tomasz Stanko (trumpet, cornet)
Paul Rutherford (trombone)
Albert Mangelsdorff (trombone)
Gerd Dudek (tenor and soprano)
Peter Brötzmann (tenor and baritone sax)
Willem Breuker (tenor sax, clarinet)
Gunter Hampel (flute, bass clarinet)
Fred van Hove (organ, piano)
Terje Rypdal (guitar)
Buschi Niebergall (bass)
Peter Warren (bass)
Han Bennink (drums, Chinese woodblocks, tabla, thumb piano, perc).

Don Cherry (pocket trumpet, flutes, vocal)
Mocqui Cherry (tamboura)
Loes Macgillycutty (vocal)

1. Humus - The Life Exploring Force
2. Sita Rama Encores
3. Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra

Andrew Hill Trio - Strange Serenade

This is as dour and dark as anything Hill has committed to record. Silva and Waits are ideal partners in music that isn't so much minor-key as surpassingly ambigous in it's harmonic language. Hill seems on occasion to be exploring ideas that can be traced back to Bud Powell - no the straight bebop language so much as the more impressionistic things. There are curious little broken triplets and wide-interval phrases which seem to come straight from Bud's last recordings.

(The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD - Ninth Edition)

1. Mist Flower
2. Strange Serenade
3. Reunion
4. Andrew

Andrew Hill (piano); Alan Silva (bass); Freddie Waits (percussion).

Recorded at Barigozzi Studio, Milan, Italy on June 13 & 14, 1980.
Soul Note

Eric Dolphy & John Lewis - Play Kurt Weill

The complete Mike Zwerin album presenting modern jazz musicians playing the music of Kurt Weill. Eric Dolphy and John Lewis were the stars of half of this album (Dolphy died before the second session was scheduled in 1965). As a bonus, all of the other small group studio recordings by Dolphy and Lewis playing together.
Includes 8-page booklet
Originally issued in different conceptual albums which included music from several sessions and with many variations in personnel, the small group collaborations between Eric Dolphy and John Lewis had never been previously compiled on a single set. The current CD, however, contains all of them. Apart from this material, the two musicians only collaborated on the following projects: the big band Orchestra U.S.A. album (already reissued on LHJ 10117 under the name of John Lewis and presenting the complete Stereo and Mono versions); an 11-piece band session including oboe and bassoon (including Dolphy on just two tracks, in none of which does he play any solo), and a somewhat controversial live recording - a private performance taped with amateur equipment during a December 2, 1961 jam session in Munich. It is controversial because, although Dolphy's presence is indisputable, the identity of the pianist has been frequently questioned. Different names have been proposed, including those of Lalo Schifrin (who himself denied having participated on that session) and McCoy Tyner. The latest research, however, states that John Lewis is the mysterious and badly recorded pianist. While the jam (if the pianist is indeed Lewis) presents head arrangements of well known standards, the material featured on the Dolphy-Lewis studio collaborations consists mainly of compositions by Gary McFarland and John Lewis, a single track by music producer Arif Mardin (1932-2006, he was an American of Turkish origin), and further arrangements of three theatrical tunes by the tandem of Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht. These three songs were originally included on the album Mack the Knife and other Berlin Theatre Songs of Kurt Weill, along with similar songs recorded at a different session on June 1, 1965. The current CD presents this album in its entirety, along with all known alternate takes (unfortunately there are no alternates for the tunes with Lewis and Dolphy), even though at the second session there's no piano player, and Eric Dolphy was already dead by this time (he died of a diabetic coma in Berlin on June 29, 1964).
Editor's info

01. Alabama Song 5:25
02. Havana Song 6:18
03. As You Make Your Bed 5:27
04. Mack The Knife 5:07
05. Bilbao Song 3:49
06. Barbara Song 5:07
07. Pirate Jenny 3:37
08. Mack The Knife [Alternate Take] 4:52
09. Bilbao Song [Alternate Take] 3:47
10. Pirate Jenny [Alternate Take] 4:25
11. The Stranger 5:41
12. Afternoon In Paris 9:58
13. Night Float 4:20

Tracks #1-7 originally issued as SEXTET OF ORCHESTRA U.S.A. "Mack the Knife and other Berlin Theatre Songs of Kurt Weill" (RCA Victor LPM 3498).

Tracks 1-10: Sextet of Orchestra U.S.A. - Theatre Songs of Kurt Weill

Tracks 1-3:
Eric Dolphy: alto saxophone, flute
Nick Travis: trumpet
Mike Zwerin: bass trumpet
John Lewis: piano
Richard Davis: bass
Connie Kay: drums
New York, January 10, 1964.

Tracks 4-10:
Thad Jones: cornet
Mike Zwerin: bass trumpet
Jerome Richardson: alto saxophone, clarinet
Jimmy Raney: guitar
Richard Davis: bass
Connie Kay: drums
New York, June 1, 1965.

Additional material
Tracks 11-13:
Eric Dolphy: alto saxophone, flute
Benny Golson: tenor saxophone
Jimmy Giuffre: baritone saxophone
Herb Pomeroy: trumpet
Gunther Schuller: French horn
John Lewis: piano
Jim Hall: guitar
George Duvivier: bass
Connie Kay: drums
New York, September 8 (11) & 9 (12-13), 1960.

Arif Mardin (arr. on 11), John Lewis (arr. on 12) and Gary Mc Farland (arr. on 13)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don Cherry - Where Is Brooklyn?

Relatively disregarded in comparison to its predecessors and more conventionally structured, Cherry's final record for Blue Note is still a great piece of work and worthy of its 2005 reissue. Though it seems to go back to the less adventurous format of Complete Communion and to focus on discrete compositions rather than the flowing improvisation of the earlier discs, it has enough detail and enough thoughtful energy stashed away in each track - and certainly on the long closing 'Unite' - to create the same feel. Sanders is still a contender at this point, though occasionally his screams seem pointless, and (to speak heretically of one who touched the hem of Trane's robe) far less interesting than Barbieri's. Grimes again is served well by CD transfer and Blackwell ... well, he does his usual amazing polyrhythmic thing as if 4/4 were as remote in evolutionary terms as the diplodocus." ~ Penguin Guide

Where Is Brooklyn was Don Cherry's final album for Blue Note, and it returned to the quartet format of Complete Communion, this time featuring Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax along with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Ed Blackwell. Here, Cherry abandons his concept of recording all the album's compositions as side-long medleys; rather, each is treated separately, with spaces in between the tracks. There wasn't a need to integrate the compositions by periodically returning to their themes, so perhaps that's why Cherry doesn't really focus as much on bringing out his compositions this time around. Where Is Brooklyn is much more about energy and thoughtful group interaction than memorable themes, and so there's just a little something missing in comparison to Cherry's prior albums, even though they did also emphasize the qualities on display here. Nonetheless, it's still a fine record for what it does concentrate on; Sanders is in typically passionate form, and the rest of the ensemble members have already honed their interplay to a pretty sharp edge. It's worth hearing, even if it isn't as essential as Complete Communion or Symphony for Improvisers. ~ Steve Huey

Don Cherry (cornet)
Pharoah Sanders (piccolo, tenor sax)
Henry Grimes (bass)
Ed Blackwell (drums)

1. Awake Nu
2. Taste Maker
3. The Thing
4. There Is The Bomb
5. Unite

Derek Bailey & Steve Lacy - Outcome (1983)

This is only the second recorded collaboration between guitarist Derek Bailey and soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, and while the rarity of the event adds to the thrill, there is little question of the outstanding results produced on this particular occasion. As critic Jon Morgan points out in the liner notes, Lacy and Bailey embrace different concepts of improvisation, yet neither sacrifices any of his individuality to meet the other on common ground. There is little of the conversational quality so often found when musical giants play in tandem. Instead, the five pieces reflect two performers in peak form, each of whom displays his abilities to the fullest. Lacy has rarely sounded better, taking full advantage of the freedom of Bailey's electric guitar. While you are not likely to hear an ounce of familiarity in Bailey's contribution (he always seems sui generis), the guitarist continues to amaze with his independence and originality. Anyone even modestly interested in either Lacy or Bailey will wish to hear this one. -Steven Loewy

Tribute To Duke Ellington

At the 1974 Montreux Jazz Festival (which occurred shortly after Duke Ellington's death), producer Claude Nobs thought it would be a good idea if each solo pianist would play an Ellington song or two. This Black Lion CD (which contains performances also available as part of each player's complete sets) features Randy Weston (playing a quote-filled "Dedication to Edward Kennedy Ellington"), Sir Roland Hanna, Jay McShann, Earl Hines (whose version of "Solitude" is quite emotional) and even Cecil Taylor (who plays a brief but free ballad "After All"). Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Randy Weston (piano)
1. A Dedication To Edward Kennedy Ellington

Sir Roland Hanna (piano)
2. Take The 'A' Train
3. I Got It Bad ( And That Ain'T Good)

Jay McShann (piano)
4. Satin Doll
5. I'm Beginning To See The Light

Earl Hines (piano)
6. In My Solitude
7. Don't Get Around Much Any More

Cecil Taylor (piano)
8. After All

Montreux: July 2, 1974

Sarah Vaughan - Tenderly

Here are some of the records Sarah cut for Musicraft in the mid 40's.

You can hear her in front of big bands and with the Teddy Wilson quartet in two tracks (September Song & Time After Time).
On You Are Not the Kind you can hear her with Freddie Webster, Cecil Payne, Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke, among others.
Also, this is the first recording of Tenderly, and is first introduced as a waltz, before converting to 4/4.

BTW: Please forgive my English!
Recorded 1946-1947 for Musicraft Records.
Transfer & editing: Jack Towers

1. Tenderly
2. Don't Blame Me
3. Everything I Have Is Yours
4. Body and Soul
5. I'm Through With Love
6. I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You
7. September Song
8. Time After Time
9. You're Not the Kind
10. It's Magic
11. Button up Your Overcoat
12. I Get a Kick Out of You
13. I'll Wait and Pray

Sonny Boy Williamson - Keep It To Ourselves

This is another side of Sonny Boy Williamson.

Sonny Boy recorded these tracks in Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 1, 1963.
(Unfortunately, this CD does not include the complete sessions. I remember I have a vinyl down in the basement that has some more tracks)
Compared to the Chess recordings, these are acoustic sessions. No amps. I’m not a harp player, but I think Sonny Boy plays more “chords” that “solo notes” here. Sonny shows his age now and then, however “The Sky Is Crying” still brings tears in my eyes, even though I’ve heard it many-many times.

Matt "Guitar" Murphy (guitar), Memphis Slim (piano, vocal) & Billie Stepney (drums) perform with Sonny Boy in some tracks.


1. The Sky Is Crying
2. Slowly Walk Close To Me
3. Once Upon A Time
4. Don't Let Your Right Hand Know
5. Movin' Out
6. Coming Home To You Baby
7. I Can't Understand
8. Same Girl
9. Gettin' Together
10. Why Are You Crying
11. Girl Friends
12. When The Lights Went Out

Mississippi John Hurt - Today!

This must be the first M.J. Hurt release here, so here is some info (from wikipedia) about the man. Concerning his music, it is something unique, you just have to hear him playing his guitar and singing.

"Mississippi" John Smith Hurt (July 3, 1893, or March 8, 1892, Teoc, Carroll County, Mississippi - November 2, 1966, Grenada, Mississippi) was an influential blues singer and guitarist.
Raised in Avalon, Mississippi, he learned to play guitar at age 9. He spent much of his youth playing old time music for friends and dances, earning a living as a farm hand into the 1920s. In 1923 he often partnered with the fiddle player Willie Narmour (Carroll County Blues) as a substitute for his regular partner Shell Smith. When Narmour got a chance to record for Okeh Records in reward for winning first place in a 1928 fiddle contest, Narmour recommended John Hurt to OKeh Records producer Tommy Rockwell. After auditioning "Monday Morning Blues" at his home, he took part in two recording sessions, in Memphis and New York City. The "Mississippi" tag was added by OKeh as a sales gimmick. After the commercial failure of the resulting disc and OKeh records going out of business during the depression, Hurt returned to Avalon and obscurity, working as a sharecropper and playing local parties and dances.
In 1963, however, a folk musicologist named Tom Hoskins, inspired by the recordings, was able to locate John Hurt near Avalon, Mississippi. In fact, in an early recording, Hurt sang of "Avalon, my home town." Seeing that Hurt's guitar playing skills were still intact, Hoskins encouraged him to move to Washington, DC, and begin performing on a wider stage. Whereas his first releases had coincided with the Great Depression, his new career could hardly have been better timed. A stellar performance at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival saw his star rise amongst the new "folk revival" audience, and before his death in 1966 he played extensively in colleges, concert halls, coffee houses and even the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as well as recording three further albums for Vanguard Records. John Hurt's influence spans several music genres including blues, country, bluegrass, folk and contemporary rock and roll. A soft-spoken man, his nature was reflected in the work, which remained a mellow mix of country, blues and old time music to the end.

"Today!" was recorded in 1964 and was first released in 1966.

Modern Jazz Quartet - Three Windows (1987)

'Three Windows' marked the Modern Jazz Quartet's return to Atlantic and its reunion with Nesuhi Ertegun, who produced most of the albums recorded by the MJQ for that label between 1956 and 1974. For the occasion, John Lewis – the quartet's pianist and music director – has opened up several of his compositions to accommodate the nineteenpiece New York Chamber Symphony.

The vintage works to which Lewis has added strings include the venerable "Django," which the MJQ introduced in 1954, and the album's title track, a triple fugue debuted as part of Lewis's score to Roger Vadim's 1957 film No Sun in Venice. More recent compositions are "Kansas City Breaks" and "A Day in Dubrovnik," both of which Lewis has recorded in various settings – although never before with the MJQ. Even "Encounter in Cagnes," the album's one première, sounds vaguely familiar, borrowing its major strain from "Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West," an insinuating Lewis blues piece from the 1950s.

Granted, a composer has the right to tinker with his works, no matter the consternation it might cause his critics. But Lewis's greatest asset as a composer has always been his modest sense of proportion, and in enlarging the works on Three Windows, he's sacrificed some of the intimacy that made them so appealing.

The one significant exception is "A Day in Dubrovnik," an evocative three-part work that gives the illusion of having been conceived as a discourse between the MJQ and the chamber group. The lengthy second movement, with its magisterial, Vivaldi-like violin sweeps, counts as one of Lewis's most fruitful efforts in writing for classical instrumentation. But the opening and closing movements also boast their share of felicities: call and response with the strings; tension-gathering rubatos and stop times; dovetailing thematic improvisations by Lewis and vibraphonist Milt Jackson; and the usual selfless teamwork from bassist Percy Heath and drummer Connie Kay. "A Day in Dubrovnik" is a masterpiece of its kind, as blissful a marriage of jazz and classical music as the MJQ has ever achieved – which is high praise indeed. FRANCIS DAVIS

John Lewis (piano, arranger, conductor)
Milt Jackson (vibes)
Percy heath (bass)
Connie Kay (drums)
New York City Chamber Symphony

1. Three Windows 8:13
2. Kansas City Breaks 6:29
3. Encoutner in Cagnes 12:28
4. Django 7:54
5. Day in Dubrovnik 16:33

Recorded at RCA Studio, New York City, March 16-20, 1987

David Murray Trio - 3D Family (1978)

A major early release by tenorist Murray, 3D Family appeared originally on Hat Hut records as a double LP before eventually being re-released on disc by hat ART. Murray performs here in a live context with one of his very strongest rhythm sections: the intensely musical South African bassist Johnny Dyani and veteran master drummer Andrew Cyrille. The program consists of all Murray compositions, weaving between burners, funky dances, and soulful ballads. "Patricia" is an especially lovely example of the latter, with Murray displaying his well-known penchant for Ben Webster-like growls, which almost inevitably mutate into upper-register cries. The title track is a wonderfully surging piece, full of drama. Dyani's propulsive playing here is astonishing; of all the bassists to accompany Murray, perhaps only the late Fred Hopkins was his peer. His often-played "P-O in Cairo" suffers a bit pared down to a trio, its sinuous line sounding a bit lost as though seeking support, but still the playing manages to salvage something. If anything, the length of the pieces allows Murray to drift on a bit longer than necessary at times. As often as not, though, he manages to wring out some extra juice, making it easy for the listener to grant him significant slack. Still in his mid-twenties, this recording captures him moving toward the crest of his powers (evidenced in his octets) and is one of the better trio dates in his discography. Recommended, as much for the marvelous "sidemen" as for Murray himself.

1.- 3D Family
2.- Patricia
3.- In Memory of Yoko Kenyatta
4.- Shout Song

David Murray (tenor saxophone); Johnny Mbizo Dyani (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums)

Recorded in concert at Jazz Festival Willisau on September 3, 1978.
hatART 6020

Charles Tolliver Music Inc. & Orchestra - Impact (1975)

This is the japanese remastered edition of the big band Tolliver's "Impact" (not be confused with the quartet live album). Probably, one of my all time favourite (also my girl's).

Trumpeter/flügelhornist Charles Tolliver often straddled the line between the lyricism of hard bop and the adventurous nature of the avant-garde. Released in 1975, Impact contained a stimulating progressive edge within an energetic large band (14 horns, eight strings, and rhythm section) format. Tolliver's arrangements are consistently bright and build momentum, while the soloists are given sufficient room to maneuver through the multiple textures. Featured soloists in the remarkable reed section include Charles McPherson, James Spaulding, George Coleman, and Harold Vick (Al Campbell)

1. Impact
2. Mother Wit
3. Grand Max
4. Plight
5. Lynnsome
6. Mournin' Variations

Charles Tolliver (trumpet/flugelhorn); Stanley Cowell (piano); Cecil McBee (bass); Reggie Workman (bass); Clint Houston (bass); James Spaulding (alto/soprano sax & flute); George Coleman (tenor sax); Harold Vick (tenor/soprano sax & flute); Virgil Jones (trumpet); Jon Faddis (trumpet); Garnet Brown (trombone) . . .

Recorded and mixed at Sound Ideas Studios on January 17, 1975.
Strata-East (CD 9001)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Joe Venuti - 1926-1928 (Chronological 1211)

This particular slice of the Joe Venuti & Eddie Lang chronology presents some of their all-time best instrumental performances garnished with a small bouquet of precious novelties and sugary love songs with delightfully naïve vocals by Scrappy Lambert, Billy Hillpot, and Rube Bloom. The sweetest of these are sung in a manner so euphoric as to be almost nonsensically charming. This is true even of a suspiciously idyllic paean to the pleasures of "Pickin' Cotton," a faintly onerous song representing a tenebrous subgenre of Tin Pan Alley tunes that wistfully glorified the gallant bygone days of slave or cheap "emancipated" labor. Venuti's lyrically inspired handling of the violin and Lang's virtuosic guitar still sound surprisingly fresh and imaginative. These earliest Venuti and Lang collaborations exude a special sort of positive energy that is unique in all of classic jazz. Some of the instrumental tracks feel like well-organized, improvised hot chamber music. Fortunately, Venuti's "Kickin' the Cat" and "Beatin' the Dog" are presented without any nasty lyrics or cruel sound effects. ~ arwulf arwulf

Joe Venuti (violin)
Eddie Lang (guitar)
Adrian Rollini (baritone sax, goofus, hot fountain pen)
Jimmy Dorsey (clarinet, alto sax)
Manny Klein (trumpet)
Arthur Schutt (piano)
Leo McConville (trumpet)
Fud Livingston (clarinet, tenor sax)
Joe Tarto (bass)
Chauncey Morehouse (drums)

1. Black And Blue Bottom
2. Stringing The Blues
3. Wild Cat
4. Sunshine
5. Doin' Things
6. Goin' Places
7. Kickin' The Cat
8. Beatin' The Dog
9. Cheese And Crackers
10. A Mug Of Ale
11. Penn Beach Blues
12. Four String Joe
13. Dinah
14. The Wild Dog
15. I Must Be Dreaming
16. 'Tain't So, Honey, 'Tain't So
17. Because My Baby Don't Mean "Maybe" Now
18. Just Like A Melody Out Of The Sky
19. The Man From The South
20. Pretty Trix
21. Doin' Things
22. Wild Cat
23. Pickin' Cotton
24. I'm On The Crest Of A Wave

Woody Shaw - Setting Standards

Another title originally on the Muse label later released (in dreadful packaging) by 32 Jazz. Rudy Van Gelder recorded these and so far as I know he hasn't been able to get his hands on these to "improve" them. Lest I sound like a curmudgeon, let me express my opinion that 32 Jazz did a fine job during their brief enterprise. No jive.

This Muse release finds the brilliant trumpeter Woody Shaw in fine form. Heard for the only time in his career on a full set with just a rhythm trio (pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Victor Jones), the focus is very much on Shaw's attractive sound and his creative improvising skills. He performs four stnadards (including "There Is No Greater Love" and "What's New"), plus his own "Spiderman Blues" and Walton's "When Love Is New." The music is reasonably accessible and swinging yet imaginative in a subtle way. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Woody Shaw had his up and downs in his recording career, but this album is one of his finest displays. He carves out beautiful lines through the various standards on this recording, epitomizing how he comes from the same vibe as Freddie, but is so much more thoughtful and relies on his technical prowess less than his more famous peer.

This album needs studying - its true worth only surfaces to the listener after several plays, but when it does it never fails to bring something new to your ears. A master class in how to use pentatonics and fourths in a subtle, uncliched way. ~ C.H. Coull

Woody Shaw (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Cedar Walton (piano)
Buster Williams (bass)
Victor Jones (drums)

1. There Is No Greater Love
2. All The Way
3. Spiderman Blues
4. Touch Of Your Lips
5. What's New?
6. When Love Is New

Hampton Hawes - Northern Windows Plus

For all the adulation that Hampton Hawes gets around here, you can't really know the man - as an artist - without having some familiarity with his later work; particularly the often belittled "electric period". I suspect a lot of folk talk about his electric period without having heard much of it. I prefer his acoustic work, but his plugged-in stuff is not to be despised.

"Two albums from the early 70s. Playin' In The Yard is a live trio from Montreux with Bob Cranshaw and Kenny Clarke, but you have to sit through the whole unedifying span of Northern Windows, with orchestral arrangements by David Axelrod." ~ Penguin Guide

Sheeeeit, who goes to Hampton Hawes to be edified? And the orchestral stuff don't scare me: I once listened to a Blossom Dearie record. I wonder if Stevie Ray knew that someone played 'Double Trouble' at Montreux before him? Wouldn't surprise me one bit if he did.

This CD reissue combines two complete albums by Hampton Hawes from the early '70s. Unfortunately, neither one of these sessions has stood the test of time all that well. While Hawes is accompanied by electric bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Kenny Clarke during his 1973 trio set at Montreux (first issued as Playin' in the Yard), he spends much of the time playing electric piano. He plays Sonny Rollins' "Playin' in the Yard" but incorporates the acoustic piano into other portions of his live set. The latter session includes the spiritual "Go Down Moses" and five originals; players include trumpeter Snooky Young and trombonist George Bohanon. ~ Ken Dryden

Hampton Hawes (piano)
Jackie Kelso (sax, flute)
Allen DeRienzo (trumpet)
Snooky Young (trumpet)
George Bohanon (trombone)
Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Carol Kaye (bass)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Spider Webb (drums)

1. Playin' In The Yard
2. Double Trouble
3. Pink Peaches
4. De De
5. Stella By Starlight
6. Sierra Morena
7. Go Down Moses
8. Bach
9. Web
10. Tune Axle Grease
11. C & H Sugar

Recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland and Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California on July 7, 1973 and July 18-19, 1974

The Warm Sound of Plas Johnson, Vols. 1 & 2 (1962)

These two volumes, subtitled Midnight Blues and The Madison Avenue Strut, contain all of the music from three obscure albums recorded in 1962. Sax 5th Avenue and On the Scene were released by Charter Records under the pseudonym "Johnny Beecher". The third album, Blue Martini, was recorded with the John Neel Orchestra and released by Ava, a short-lived subsidiary of MGM.

The Charter albums featured a quintet with Plas Johnson on tenor sax, Emil Richards on vibes, Burkley Kendrix on organ, Jimmy Bond on bass, and either Earl Palmer or Wayne Robinson on drums. John Neel composed and arranged all of the tracks from Blue Martini but the personnel of the orchestra is unknown.

Track listing in comments.

Mal Waldron - You And The Night And The Music

Recorded the day after the Waldron Plays Satie album, which can be found by searching the archives.

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

1. The Way You Look Tonight
2. Bags' Groove
3. 'Round Midnight
4. You And The Night And The Music
5. Georgia On My Mind
6. Billie's Bounce
7. Waltz For My Mother

Track Of The Day

Will there be others?

Days, yes. Tracks, dunno.

Meanwhile I hope you dig this as much as I do.

Ted Curson - Plays Fire Down Below

This has been here for almost a year and a half, but many older posts seem to be unknown to many here. I could spend the next few months just pretending they're new. Think anyone could tell?

The main fault of this otherwise superior CD reissue is that there are only 31 minutes of music. Trumpeter Ted Curson, who by the early '60s had his own distinctive sound and an advanced yet accessible style, performs two standards ("Show Me" and "Falling in Love With Love") and four obscurities, with pianist Gildo Mahones, bassist George Tucker, drummer Roy Haynes, and (on four numbers) Montego Joe on conga. Curson, 27 at the time, is heard in top form on one of the very few of his sessions to be reissued on CD. ~ Scott Yanow

An excellent and flexible trumpeter, Ted Curson will always be best-known for his work with Charles Mingus' 1960 quartet (which also included Eric Dolphy and Dannie Richmond). He studied at Granoff Musical Conservatory; moved to New York in 1956; played in New York with Mal Waldron, Red Garland, and Philly Joe Jones; and recorded with Cecil Taylor (1961). After the 1959-1960 Mingus association (which resulted in some classic recordings), Curson co-led a quintet with Bill Barron (1960-1965), played with Max Roach, and led his own groups. He spent time from the late '60s on in Europe (particularly Denmark) but has had a lower profile than one would expect since his return to the U.S. in 1976. Ted Curson has led sessions for Old Town (1961), Prestige, Fontana, Atlantic, Arista, Inner City, Interplay, Chiaroscuro, and several European labels, but has barely been on records at all since 1980. ~ Scott Yanow

Ted Curson (trumpet)
Gildo Mahones (piano)
Montego Joe (percussion, conga)
George Tucker (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)

1. Fire Down Below
2. The Very Young
3. Baby Has Gone Bye Bye
4. Show Me
5. Falling In Love With Love
6. Only Forever

Englewood Cliffs, December 10, 1962

Hank Mobley - And His All Stars

This CD is a straight reissue of a Hank Mobley LP that features the "Who's Who" of late-'50s hard bop: the tenor-leader, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianist Horace Silver, bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Art Blakey. The quintet performs five Mobley compositions (best is the lyrical "Mobley's Musings"), songs that are generally more interesting for their chord changes than for their melodies, which is probably why none of them became standards. One's attention is constantly drawn to the inventive solos and Art Blakey's roaring "accompaniment." An above-average effort from some of the best. ~ Scott Yanow

* Hank Mobley: tenor saxophone
* Milt Jackson: vibes
* Horace Silver: piano
* Doug Watkins: bass
* Art Blakey: drums

Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, January 13, 1957

Track listing:

1. Reunion - 6:54
2. Ultra Marine - 6:38
3. Don't Walk - 7:48
4. Lower Stratosphere - 10:36
5. Mobley's Musings - 6:04

(All compositions by Hank Mobley)

Skip James - Today!

James was born in 1902, near Bentonia, Mississippi. As a youth, James heard local musicians such as Henry Stuckey and brothers Charlie and Jesse Sims and began playing the organ in his teens. He worked on road construction and levee-building crews in his native Mississippi in the early 1920s, and wrote what is perhaps his earliest song, "Illinois Blues", about his experiences as a laborer. Later in the '20s he sharecropped and made bootleg whiskey in the Bentonia area. He began playing guitar in open D-minor tuning and developed a three-finger picking technique that he would use to great effect on his recordings. In addition, he began to practice piano-playing, drawing inspiration from the Mississippi blues pianist Little Brother Montgomery.

In early 1931, James traveled to Grafton, Wisconsin to record for Paramount. James's 1931 work is considered idiosyncratic among pre-war blues recordings, and forms the basis of his reputation as a musician.

As is typical of his era, James recorded a variety of material — blues and spirituals, cover versions and original compositions — frequently blurring the lines between genres and sources. Very few original copies of James's Paramount 78s have survived.

The Great Depression struck just as James' recordings were hitting the market. Sales were poor as a result, and James gave up performing the blues to become the choir director in his father's church.

For the next thirty years, James recorded nothing and drifted in and out of music. He was virtually unknown to listeners until about 1960. In 1964 blues enthusiasts John Fahey, Bill Barth and Henry Vestine found him in a hospital in Tunica, Mississippi. According to Calt, the "rediscovery" of both Skip James and of Son House at virtually the same moment was the start of the "blues revival" in America. In July 1964 James, along with other rediscovered performers, appeared at the Newport Folk Festival. Throughout the remainder of the decade, he recorded for the Takoma, Melodeon, and Vanguard labels and played various engagements until his death in 1969.

Since his death, James's music has become more available and prevalent than during his lifetime — his 1931 recordings, along with several rediscovery recordings and concerts, have found their way on to numerous compact discs, drifting in and out of print (taken from wikipedia).

1. Hard Time Killing Floor Blues
2. Crow Jane
3. Washington D. C. Hospital Center Blues
4. Special Rider Blues
5. Drunken Spree
6. Cherryball
7. How Long
8. All Night Long
9. Cypress Grove
10. Look Down the Road
11. My Gal
12. I'm So Glad

Skip James accompanying himself on guitar and piano.

Frank Lowe - The Flam (1975)

On this free jazz date the powerful tenor Frank Lowe teams up with trumpeter Leo Smith, trombonist Joseph Bowie, bassist Alex Blake and drummer Charles Bobo Shaw for five group
originals including the collaboration "Third St. Stomp." The very explorative and rather emotional music holds one's interest throughout. These often heated performances are better heard than described. (Scott Yanow)

…A wonderful band and a very fine record which was unavailable for far too long. A good place to start if you haven't encountered Lowe before… ” (The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD - Ninth Edition)

1. Sun Voyage (Joseph Bowie) 7:35
2. Flam (Frank Lowe) 14:03
3. Be-Bo-Bo-Be (Charles Shaw) 10:53
4. Third St. Stomp (Lowe/Shaw/Bowie/Blake/Smith) 10:21
5. U.B.P. (Leo Smith) 0:45

Frank Lowe (tenor saxophone), Leo Smith (trumpet), Joe Bowie (trombone), Alex Blake (bass), Charles "Bobo" Shaw (drums)

Recorded in NYC, Generation Sound Studios October 20-21, 1975

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Earl Hines - The Indispensable Earl Hines, Vol. 5-6: The Bob Thiele Sessions

While the range of dates here might lead one to think this is a collection of oddities, the fact is that they are cohesive in being produced by Bob Thiele. With his Louis Armstrong and his own Big Band accomplishments behind him, Earl Hines was doing solo and trio work, notably during the recording strike of 1942-1944; it was at this point - 1944 - that Hines did the first four tracks here for Thiele's Signature label. They are Fats Waller tunes, chosen as part of a commemorative for the recently (December 15, 1943) deceased Waller.

Shoot ahead 20 years; Hines had just made his 'comeback' and Thiele got him into the studio to record the 9 solo tracks heard here. Thiele's third Hines date came about 2 years later, and he is to be found being backed by two of the Young Turks on the scene: Richard Davis and (!) Elvin Jones. And damned it if don't work out just fine.

Earl Hines (piano)
Al Casey (guitar)
Richard Davis (bass)
Oscar Pettiford (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

CD 1
1. My Fate Is In Your Hands
2. I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling
3. Honeysuckle Rose
4. Squeeze Me
5. Undecided
6. I've Found A New Baby
7. Fatha's Blues
8. Sunday Kind Of Love
9. Squeeze Me
10. Tosca's Dance
11. Jim

CD 2
1. Black Coffee
2. You Always Hurt The One You Love
3. Save It, Pretty Mama
4. Bye Bye Baby
5. Smoke Rings
6. Shoe Shine Boy
7. Stanley Steamer
8. Bernie's Tune
9. Dream of You

Fats Waller - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down...: The Early Years Vol. 2

When I see lists of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, it seems as though Fats Waller never appears at the top of the list. I am not exactly sure why. Maybe it is because he is more known for his personality that shown so brightly on his recordings, or because he did not record for as long a period as others. In my opinion, his piano work, on both instrumentals and vocals alike, is both interesting and entertaining. I know the inherent problems with such lists, but as far as my ears go, he belongs at or near the top. Both of the following reviews use the adjective "joy" to describe his music, and I think they got it right.

I also have the Middle Years boxes which I will post in the next little bit.

The second in a series of five CD packages that reissue all of Fats Waller's Victor recordings with his Rhythm, this two-CD set traces the pianist/composer/ vocalist/personality's career during a nine-month period. Among the sidemen are trumpeter Herman Autrey and either Rudy Powell or Gene Sedric on reeds; highlights include the hit version of "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," a rambunctious "There'll Be Some Changes Made," "Truckin '," "Got a Bran' New Suit" and four performances from a big-band session. All of the Waller Victor recordings are full of joy and infectious swing. ~ Scott Yanow

The 45 tracks on these two CDs come from a nine-month period that saw Fats Waller reaching the height of his popularity, emphasizing his talents as a singer of light popular songs. While many of the tunes heard here haven't endured, Waller's treatment of them certainly does. They bubble with infectious good humor, a matchless charm, a superb sense of swing, and a breadth of spirit that put Waller on the same plateau as Louis Armstrong among jazz entertainers. He could convey both bemusement and joy, making it clear it was possible to be happy in more ways than one at the same time. Waller was a great jazz pianist even when he was playing decorative fills or a chorus. His piano and occasional celesta shine here, as do the members of his regular band, especially Herman Autrey on trumpet and Rudy Powell (and, later, Gene Sedric) on clarinet and tenor, complementing Waller perfectly and expanding on the good spirits. On four tracks, the Rhythm expand from their usual five pieces to a big band, including a version of "I've Got Rhythm" with brilliant stride piano and high-note trumpet work. ~ Stuart Broomer

1. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
2. I Hate to Talk About Myself
3. Dinah
4. Take It Easy
5. You're the Picture (I'm the Frame)
6. My Very Good Friend the Milkman
7. Blue Because of You
8. There's Going to Be the Devil to Pay
9. Twelfth Street Rag
10. There'll Be Some Changes Made
11. Somebody Stole My Gal
12. Sweet Sue, Just You [Take 1]
13. Sweet Sue, Just You [Take 2]
14. Truckin'
15. Sugar Blues
16. As Long as the World Goes Round and Round (And I Go Around With You)
17. Georgia Rockin' Chair
18. Brother, Seek and Ye Shall Find
19. Girl I Left Behind Me
20. You're So Darn Charming
21. Woe! Is Me
22. Rhythm and Romance

1. Loafin' Time
2. A Sweet Beginning Like This
3. Got a Bran' New Suit
4. I'm on a See-Saw
5. Thief in the Night
6. When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful
7. I've Got My Fingers Crossed
8. Spreadin' Rhythm Around
9. A Little Bit Independent
10. You Stayed Away Too Long
11. Sweet Thing
12. Fat and Greasy
13. Fat and Greasy (alternate take
14. Functionizin'
15. I Got Rhythm
16. Panic Is On
17. Sugar Rose
18. Oooh! Look-a There, Ain't She Pretty?
19. Moon Rose
20. West Wind
21. That Never to Be Forgotten Night
22. Sing an Old Fashioned Song
23. Garbo Green

Tete Montoliu - Jazz En España Vol. 1

Tete Montoliu is undoubtely the most famous Spanish jazzman. Many of his recordings have been published in different countries (and some of them, posted here). However, I guess this recording is hard to find outside Spain.

Jazz en España is a series of recordings in Radio Nacional de España, been dedicated the first volume to Tete Montoliu. It was recorded at Spanish National Broadcasting studios in three different sessions: one in 1973, in solo format; the other two in different days in 1982, in solo format and trio format. The first record is only piano; the second, trio.

CD 1
01 Blues For Line 02:10
02 Sugerencias 04:19
03 Imagination 04:36
04 Apartamento 512 04:30
05 When I Fall In Love 01:52
06 Solar 03:10 177 4,02 €0.10
07 Lover Man 04:21
08 One More Thing, One More Time 02:51
09 A Nithingale Sang In Berkeley 04:51
10 Yellow Dolphin Street 04:56
11 Where Are You? 07:09
12 Waltz For Monika 04:24
13 If You Could See Me Now 06:56
14 What Is This Thing Called Love?/Hot House 03:15
15 Sophisticate Lady 06:49
16 Saps 04:44
17 I Want To Talk About You 05:47

Tete Montoliu piano

Recorded at Radio Nacional de España, Estudio Música 1, on February 17, 1973 (tracks 1-9)
Recorded at Radio Nacional de España, Estudio Música 2, on March 24, 1982 (tracks 10-17)

CD 2
01 Blues 6:03
02 Days Of Wine And Roses 7:37
03 Giant Steps 4:47
04 Jo Vull Que M'Acariciis 9:12
05 Confirmation 6:02
06 Experimento: A Child Is Born & All Blues 9:46
07 You've Changed 10:50
08 Round About Midnight 5:41

Tete Montoliu piano
David Thomas bass
Peer Wyboris drums

Recorded at Radio Nacional de España, Estudio Música 2, on March 22, 1982

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

William Parker - In Order To Survive (1993)

Bassist William Parker's survival techniques demand liberty and solos for all. The members of this sextet feed off one another's energy, filling their collective plate with counterpoint, and expressing music in colors and feelings spontaneously derived from thematic motifs. Parker, a phenomenal theoretical and technical improviser, has pianist Cooper Moore, drummer Denis Charles, trumpeter Lewis Barnes, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, and alto saxophonist Rob Brown in tow. Three of these pieces were recorded live at Club Roulette in N.Y.C., the fourth at the Knitting Factory. Clocking in at nearly 40 minutes, "Testimony of No Future" develops from the piano-bass-drums trio's bop swing rhythms that set up a three-note pattern that the horns then state and extrapolate on with counterpoint. This leads into extended solo fare from everyone -- simple and direct, easy to follow, yet dense and saturated. The beautiful "Anast in Crisis, Mouth Full of Fresh Cut Flowers" has Moore's spiritual lines influencing Brown's alto greatly, with Moncur chiming in for a lucid, free association for seven minutes, again based on three notes. "Testimony of the Stir Pot" has thematic nuances that grow subtler over 20 minutes while horn lines flow parallel to Moore's lightning-quick runs. "The Square Sun," from the Knitting Factory session, features Barnes' rubato-style trumpet (which shows his unique blend of jazz past and present); Moore's haunting, dancing figures; percussionist Jackson Krall's wisp-of-smoke accents; and Parker's mouse-squeak bowed bass. Some tour de force music is found here, which makes one wonder if these performances wouldn't have yielded another CD or three from this band of extraordinary avant-gardists. Highly recommended for those who take their freedoms seriously.

1. Testimony of No Future (38:47)
2. Anast In Crisis Mouth Full of Fresh Cut Flowers (6:55)
3. Testimony of The Stir Pot (20:07)
4. The Square Sun (6:10)

William Parker: bass/composer, Grachan Moncur III: trombone, Rob Brown: alto sax, Lewis Barnes: trumpet, Cooper-Moore: piano, Denis Charles: drums #1-3, Jackson Krall: Percussions #4

Recorded 1-3# Live at Roulette, NYC - April 11, 1993
Recorded 4# Live at the Knitting Factory, NYC - June 28, 1993.

Art Ensemble Of Chicago - Art Ensemble Of Soweto: America-South Africa

By all accounts, no recording by the Art Ensemble Of Chicago ever caught them at their best: no recording ever showed what they were capable of in performance. I was concerned that this would be a predictable effort on their part, but couldn't even get through the first track without being embarassed for them. I need to give this a fair listening, but it ain't on the top of my get-to pile.

Welcome return to American recording scene for the premier Chicago outside band. This mixes African rhythms, township melodies, and The Ensemble's usual array of blistering solos, vocal effects, percussive colors, and furious collective improvisations. ~ Ron Wynn

Lester Bowie (trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion)
Joseph Jarman (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone sax, flute)
Roscoe Mitchell (soprano, alto, tenor, bass sax, flute, piccolo)
Malachi Favors Maghostut (bass, percussion)
Famoudou Don Moye (percussion of all types)

Amabutho Male Chorus
Elliot Ngubone
Max Bhe Bhe
Joe Leguwabe
Kay Ngwazene
Zacheuus Nyoni

1. U.S. Of A. - U. Of S.A.
2. Colors One
3. Eric T
4. You Got It
5. America
6. Zola's Smile

Grant Green - Matador

An interesting thing here is that we can listen Grant Green playing “My Favourite Things” with the two thirds of Coltrane’s rhythm section (Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner).

Another session that stayed for years in the vaults of Blue Note.

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on May 20, 1965.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Transfered by Ron McMaster, 1990

Grant Green: guitar
McCoy Tyner: piano
Bob Cranshaw: bass
Elvin Jones: drums

1. Matador
2. My Favorite Things
3. Green Jeans
4. Bedouin
5. Wives and Lovers

Eliane Elias Plays Jobim (1989)

The Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias is an ideal interpreter for the music of her compatriot Antonio Carlos Jobim. She's attuned to both its melodic and rhythmic nuances, and she's a potent improviser, able to develop Jobim's often graceful melodies and put her own stamp on them. Despite her Brazilian roots, Elias's approach is often more jazz oriented than bossa nova, and she provides a fuller portrait of Jobim than is usual. The songs stretch from the '50s to the '80s, and she thoroughly recasts some of the best-known tunes from the bossa nova period, like "Desafinado." Bassist Eddie Gomez, who first encouraged Elias's move to the U.S., is a full partner in the music, an aggressive and virtuosic presence providing constant stimulation with fleet counter lines, while drummer Jack DeJohnette and percussionist Nana Vasconcelos combine to create a flowing, percussive backdrop. Elias's singing on "Don't Ever Go Away" looks ahead to her later vocal approach on the CD Sings Jobim. - Stuart Broomer

This is not an album for those die-hard bossa fans. These popular Jobim tunes all were revisited by Elias with the goal of bridging the gap between Brazilian music and jazz; that goal was achieved. She affirms herself in this complex idiom, resulting in an album that can be enjoyed by any jazz connoisseur.

On this record, Elias responds successfully to all the challenges that come with interpreting a legendary artist like Jobim. Enriching Jobim's harmonies through her own musical wisdom, already in the album's first track ("Waters of March"/"Água de Beber"), she escapes from the trap of a conventional soothing rendition. Together with the talents of percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, she instills there a true Brazilian samba spirit, with its restless, somewhat aggressive quality. "Sabiá," usually recalled under Jobim's dense orchestration, receives a delicate ad-lib treatment that metamorphoses into a ballad. "Desafinado," one of the best known Jobim tunes in America, may be the biggest surprise, with its unstable jazz rhythm joined by creative re-harmonization. "Angela," a haunting, mysterious melody, is properly explored as a calm ballad. "Zíngaro," or "Retrato Em Preto E Branco," is faithful to its Brazilian sentiment in which a ballad feel menaces to take charge but is soon substituted by a typically Brazilian melancholy. "Samba de Uma Nota Só," in a funky interpretation, is not recognizable until they come to the bridge. Then a samba feel takes place, with hot solos and cuíca interventions with the jazzy drumming of DeJohnette's enriching the overall pancultural result. The album closes with Elias singing "Don't Ever Go Away" with her heartfelt tone backed by a piano that betrays the classical music tradition inherent to the formation of the Brazilian sensitivity. - Alvaro Neder

Eliane Elias (piano)
Eddie Gomez (bass)
Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Nana Vasconcelos (percussion)
  1. Waters of March (Agua de Beber)
  2. Sabia
  3. Passarim
  4. Don't Ever Go Away
  5. Desafinado
  6. Angela
  7. Children's Games
  8. Dindi
  9. Zingaro
  10. One Note Samba
  11. Don't Ever Go Away (Por Causa de Voce)
Recorded December 1989

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jimmy Lyons & Andrew Cyrille - Something In Return (1981)

This is my very first release here and also by the RS method. I've get some albums of Black Saint & Soul Note I've bought recently and would like to share with all you. I'm spanish and my english isn't very good, so I hope you could excuse me.

First one will be this rare concert by Lyons and Cyrille. Rare because I can't find a review of it. Allmusic give the credits to Cyrille but doesn't contains a review. Anyway, the music and the sound are great.

1. Take the "A" Train
2. Something in Return
3. Lorry
4. J.L.
5. Nuba
6. Fragments I

Jimmy Lyons - alto saxophone
Andrew Cyrille - percussion

Recorded February 13, 1981 at Soundscape, New York City.

Jazz Gillum - Volume 4 1946-1949

The fourth and final Document volume that reissues all of Jazz Gillum's recordings (other than his first two lost numbers and a later Lp) finds the singer and harmonica player performing in a style unchanged from the late 1930s even as the music world changed around him. He still sounded quite enthusiastic during this last batch of goodtime and lowdown blues, and the backup groups (with either Big Maceo, James Clark, Eddie Boyd or Bob Call on piano and the talented guitarist Willie Lacy being a major asset) are excellent. Highlights include "Roll Dem Bones," "You Got To Run Me Down," "Signifying Woman," "The Devil Blues" and "Gonna Be Some Shooting." ~ Scott Yanow

Next to John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, no harmonica player was as popular or as much in demand on recording sessions during the '30s as Jazz Gillum. His high, reedy sound meshed perfectly on dozens of hokum sides on the Bluebird label, both as a sideman and as a leader.

Born in Indianola, Mississippi (B.B. King's birthplace as well) in 1904, Gillum was evidently teaching himself how to play harmonica by the tender age of six. After running away from home in 1911 to live with relatives in Charleston, Mississippi, Jazz spent the next dozen or so years working a day job and spending his weekends playing for tips on local streetcorners. When he visited Chicago in 1923, he found the environment very much to his liking and put down roots there.

There he met guitarist Big Bill Broonzy and the two of them started working club dates around the city as a duo. By 1934, Gillum started popping up on recording dates for ARC and later Bluebird, RCA Victor's budget label. This association would prove to be a lasting as Chicago producer Lester Melrose frequently called on Gillum as a sideman -- as well as cutting sides on his own -- as part of the "Bluebird beat" house band. His career seemed to screech to a halt when the label folded in the late '40s and aside from a Memphis Slim session in 1961, he seems to have been largely inactive throughout the '50s until his death from a gunshot wound as a result of an argument in 1966. ~ Cub Koda

Jazz Gillum (harmonica, vocals)
Eddie Boyd (piano)
Pete Franklin (guitar)
Big Maceo Merriweather (piano)
Bob Call (piano)
Ransom Knowling (bass)

1. Fast Woman
2. All In All Blues
3. Keep On Sailing
4. Look On Yonder Wall
5. Long Razor Blues
6. I'm Gonna Train My Baby
7. Roll Dem Bones
8. Can't Trust Myself
9. I'm Not The Lad
10. The Blues What Am
11. Gonna Take My Rap
12. You Got To Run Me Down
13. Chauffeur Blues
14. Hand Reader Blues
15. Country Woman Blues
16. You Should Give Some Away
17. Take A Little Walk With Me
18. What A Gal
19. Signifying Woman
20. The Devil Blues
21. Jazz Gillum's Blues
22. Take One More Chance With Me
23. Gonna Be Some Shooting
24. Look What You Are Today
25. A Lie Is Dangerous

NOJO with Don Byron - You Are Here

NOJO stands for the Neufeld/Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra, which is a chance-taking, Toronto-based big band led by pianist Paul Neufeld and guitarist Michael Occhipinti. Released by Auracle in Canada in 1998 and reissued by Koch Jazz in the U.S. in 2000, You Are Here is an excellent CD that underscores the orchestra's risk-taking nature. Neufeld and Occhipinti can hardly be accused of leading one of those faceless, conventional big bands that spends its time sounding like a poor man's version of the Buddy Rich Orchestra-NOJO strives for originality, and the quirky, left-of-center compositions of Neufeld and Occhipinti combine a love of Charles Mingus with influences that range from world music to funk and Mississippi Delta blues. During the course of this CD, one hears NOJO bringing elements of Arabic, Jewish and North African music to its post-bop foundation. On You Are Here, NOJO has a very special guest soloist in clarinetist Don Byron, who is featured prominently and proves to be a major asset. Byron is quite adventurous himself; so it isn't surprising that he fits in so perfectly on this 1998 session, which is enthusiastically recommended to anyone who likes to hear a big band taking chances. ~ Alex Henderson

Canadian’s - guitarist Michael Occhipinti and pianist Paul Neufeld are well-known in their native homeland and now ... the large ensemble, “NOJO” (Neufeld Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra) should soon be the recipients of some widespread attention with this fine release! An added bonus here is the appearance of clarinetist Don Byron who is the prime soloist throughout these thirteen Neufeld and Occhipinti compositions.

With the opener, “Grassfire” it becomes immediately apparent that this sixteen-piece orchestra performs with the flexibility and demeanor of a smaller modern jazz unit. Here, the band eschews convention as they provide the listener with multidimensional frameworks consisting of - sounds of triumph, African rhythms and flowing thematic developments along with Neufeld’s ethnic yet lyrical performances on accordion. However, Byron and soprano saxophonist Perry White heighten the intensity with loose yet sprightly interplay. The three-part, “Animal Farm” features Byron playfully tapping his keys amid sonorous themes, a funk/rock groove accelerated by Occhipinti’s rhythmic chord progressions, sinewy tenor sax soloing by Perry White, doses of whimsy and sinuous horn charts. While Byron also blows furious hard-edged lines on the brief yet lighthearted swing-tango piece titled, “Salmon Snacks”.

Occhipinti dedicates “Zawashorius” (Zawinul, Shorter, Pastorius) to – Weather Report – as the band molds this expansive and thoroughly memorable arrangement into the image and likeness of the time-honored fusion band, while they pursue flirtatious themes via heartfelt passages and hypnotic circular-like movements on “In Memoria”. Warm choruses and soft melodies prevail on Neufeld’s “Mainland” as trumpeter Kevin Turcotte accentuates the sublime decor with smooth lines as Byron’s husky bass clarinet counters the shifting melodies and ambient atmosphere yet engages in frisky dialogue with alto saxophonist Ernie Tollar. Hence, a persuasive and perhaps fitting climax to an altogether diverse outing. Basically, this recording should not go unnoticed by fans of Don Byron and modern day big band enthusiasts. (Strongly recommended) ~ Glenn Astarita

1. Grassfire
2. Three Forks
3. Days Like Grass
4. Animal Farm: Gaggle
5. Animal Farm: Ratted Out
6. Animal Farm: Hum Tag
7. Luminescent (For I.K.)
8. Salmon Snacks
9. Zawashorius
10. Exhaust
11. In Memoria
12. Road Hog
13. Mainland

David Murray - Ming's Samba

Although David Murray had already recorded a countless number of sessions as a leader by the late 1980's, Ming's Samba was his first on a large American label. Using an "in the tradition" rhythm section comprised of pianist John Hicks, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Ed Blackwell, Murray tears through the calypso "Ming's Samba," pays tribute to the joy (if not the style) of Fats Waller ("Rememberin' Fats"), plays a warm breathy ballad solo a la John Klemmer ("Nowhere Everafter"), has fun on the humorous tango "Spooning" and shows off the expected Eric Dolphy influence (although Eric never slap-tongued) on bass clarinet during "Walter's Waltz." Hicks has several brilliant solos on the complex material, Drummond is superlative in his backing of Murray (check out "Walter's Waltz") and the colorful Blackwell proves to be a perfect foil for the leader. A recommended release although this set will probably be difficult to find. ~ Scott Yanow

David Murray (bass clarinet, tenor sax)
John Hicks (piano)
Ray Drummond (bass)
Ed Blackwell (drums)

1. Ming's Samba
2. Rememberin' Fats [For Fats Waller]
3. Nowhere Everafter
4. Spooning
5. Walter's Waltz [For Walter P. Murray]

Recorded July 20, 1988 at CBS Studios, New York

Putney Dandridge - 1935-1936 (Chronological 846)

Putney Dandridge put on an act that was conspicuously similar to Fats Waller's, with an edge that often bordered on Leo "Scat" Watson's maniacal excesses. When excited, his voice shook with glee, and he liked to holler at his musicians while they swung. The best example of Dandridge's craft is "Nagasaki," closely resembling a version he recorded with Adrian Rollini's Tap Room Gang within days of the giddy rendition heard here. Throughout his brief recording career, Dandridge played piano and celeste but often ceded the keyboard to Teddy Wilson so as to be able to concentrate all of his energies on singing his heart out. This is campy stuff. Bear in mind that Dandridge developed his chops by accompanying the world's greatest tap dancer, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, during the early 1930s. You can feel that kind of exuberant showmanship bubbling away during every song Dandridge ever sang. It mixes marvelously with the honest jazz blown by a steady parade of outstanding musicians drawn from bands led by Waller, Rollini, Willie Bryant and Fletcher Henderson. As entertaining as Dandridge could be, his act flourished largely because of the presence of saxophonists Gene Sedric and Chu Berry, trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Henry "Red" Allen, and clarinetist Buster Bailey (who also doubles on alto sax). Look more closely at the personnel and you'll meet less famous players of considerable merit, such as Lady Day's father Clarence Holiday who sat in with his guitar during the session of October 21, 1935. The bassist on the next session was Grachan Moncur, the father of modern jazz trombonist Grachan Moncur III. With the exception of one or two strong jazz standards, most of the material is 1930s Tin Pan Alley pop. Dandridge's version of "A Little Bit Independent" compares interestingly with Fats Waller's treatment of the same song dating from the same year. Maybe if Fats hadn't been working for Victor Records he could have gotten away with singing the naughty "Sweet Violets." Putney sounds pleased as punch to be able to pull it off. ~ arwulf arwulf

Putney Dandridge (piano, celeste)
Gene Sedric (clarinet, tenor sax)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Henry "Red" Allen (trumpet)
Teddy Wilson (piano)
Lawrence Lucie (guitar)
Clarence Holiday (guitar)
John Kirby (bass)
Grachan Moncur (bass)
Cozy Cole (drums)

1. You're A Heavenly Thing
2. Mr. Bluebird
3. Nagasaki
4. Chasing Shadows
5. When I Grow Too Old To Dream
6. I'm In The Mood For Love
7. Isn't This A Lovely Day
8. Cheek To Cheek Listen
9. That's What You Think
10. Shine
11. I'm On A See-Saw
12. Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
13. Double Trouble
14. Santa Claus Came In The Spring
15. You Hit The Spot
16. No Other One
17. Little Bit Independent
18. You Took My Breath Away
19. Sweet Violets
20. Dinner For One Please, James
21. Beautiful Lady In Blue
22. Honeysuckle Rose

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bobby Hutcherson - Oblique

I get real annoyed lately when I go shopping and come across those "new" RVG remasters. First I notice a title that hasn't been readily available for a while, but as soon as I see the RVG I know it'll be just a waste of time and money. This Hutch title, however, is an early release; it even has that white plastic casing you see with the TOJC's.

Bobby Hutcherson's second quartet session, Oblique, shares both pianist Herbie Hancock and drummer Joe Chambers with his first, Happenings (bassist Albert Stinson is a newcomer). However, the approach is somewhat different this time around. For starters, there's less emphasis on Hutcherson originals; he contributes only three of the six pieces, with one from Hancock and two from the typically free-thinking Chambers. And compared to the relatively simple compositions and reflective soloing on Happenings, Oblique is often more complex in its post-bop style and more emotionally direct (despite what the title may suggest). The latter is especially true on the two opening Hutcherson pieces, the sweetly lilting "'Til Then" and the innocent, childlike theme of "My Joy," which is reminiscent of "Little B's Poem" (save for its multi-sectioned structure). Meanwhile, Chambers' experiments with counterpoint in the context of group improvisation keep getting more evocative. The title cut is quick and driving, with lots of short, fleeting exchanges between Hutcherson and a surprisingly swinging Hancock; "Bi-Sectional" makes playful use of chromaticism in its first part, after which Hutcherson and Chambers switch between several different percussion instruments for what amounts to an artillery attack. As for the other pieces, Hutcherson's "Subtle Neptune" fuses post-bop with Brazilian rhythms, and Hancock's "Theme From 'Blow Up'" is a spare modal melody over a repeated chordal vamp, somewhat reminiscent of his classic "Maiden Voyage." All the performances are spirited enough to make the sophisticated music sound winning and accessible as well, which means that Oblique is one of the better entries in Hutcherson's Blue Note discography and one worth tracking down. ~ Steve Huey

This album, recorded in 1967, had to wait 13 years to be released. But when it was, it was hailed as one of the greatest albums in this great vibist's long career. The quartet tackles both attractive and challenging material contributed by Hancock and Chambers as well as the leader.

Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
Albert Stinson (bass)
Joe Chambers (drums)

1. 'Til Then
2. My Joy
3. Theme From "Blow Up"
4. Subtle Neptune
5. Oblique
6. Bi-Sectional

Englewood Cliffs: July 21, 1967

Evan Parker - London Air Lift

Recorded in 1996, London Air Lift features a quartet consisting of the ubiquitous Evan Parker, veteran acoustic guitar improviser John Russell, and two relative youngsters of the bunch in drummer Mark Sanders and bassist John Edwards. The members of this quartet have all played together in one form or another before, but until this recording they had never played as a group. There were no rehearsals; naturally, it is simply a show-and-blow date. Each member here was either directly or at best one degree removed from the group improvisation ideas put forth by John Stevens. Parker, who played with Stevens in those heady early days in the '60s, helped to create those foundations, and here with his cohorts extrapolates them. The album title is somewhat ironic. This is the reverse of the Berlin Air Lift in 1948: the Brits rely on a German label to release this date. Of the eight pieces here, four of them begin with unaccompanied solos by a group member. On the opener, "Fly Vision," it's Parker; on "Mayday," it's Sanders; Edwards is on the title cut; and Russell solos on "Half and Half." These four tracks are important in that they are distinct updates of Stevens' thoughts on group improvisation. He believed that the ensemble should always function as a whole, apart from individual soloing, and that all music should be spontaneous and without pre-arrangement. The only "pre-arrangement" on these sides is on the four tracks where an individual solos. Everything else is wide open, free, put down exactly as it was recorded, and wonderfully airy and energetic. There is a sense of communication here that is both intimate and extroverted in that humor, gentility, and interplay become not so much projective occurrences but more interpolative. Parker is unequivocally the "leader" here in that his instincts are so quick, so utterly refined, that he cannot help but direct most of these group proceedings simply by the volumes of ideas he puts forth -- even when he is reacting. The bass playing of Edwards is also quite remarkable. The instrument is not used rhythmically as much as tonally and texturally. It stutters, pops, hovers (as in the bowed solo in the title cut), floats, and inverts dynamic structures. His playing is not as an accompanist, but as a creator of platforms and ledges. London Air Lift is a brilliant example of British free improv done by a group; there is much excitement, and plenty of fireworks, but at no time is the music here inaccessible or overtly confrontational. Instead, it almost literally invites the listener into a series of deft, engaging conversations. ~ Thom Jurek

Evan Parker (soprano and tenor sax)
John Russell (guitar)
John Edwards (bass)
Mark Sanders (drums)

1. Fly Vision
2. London Air Lift
3. Drop
4. Neighbouring Instances
5. Mayday
6. One Thousand Clicks [For John Stevens]
7. Half and Half
8. Rough Diamond - Harry

Contributions 10

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

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

Dave McKenna & Buddy DeFranco - You Must Believe In Swing (1996)

On this wonderful set, pianist Dave McKenna and clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, mutual admirers who had rarely played together before, perform ten exciting duets. Because McKenna is an expert at keeping basslines going, takes hot single-note solos with his right hand, and is a very self-sufficient pianist, there was no need for other musicians. DeFranco, a brilliant clarinetist for over half a century at this point, sounds inspired by the setting. Although one might consider the clarinetist to be boppish while McKenna is swing-oriented, the pianist has played bop before, and DeFranco is a veteran of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Count Basie's early-'50s combos, so there was plenty of overlapping between their styles. On tunes such as "The Song Is You," the exquisite "Autumn Nocturne," "Poor Butterfly," and "Anthropology," the McKenna-DeFranco matchup is particularly magical. Recommended to fans of either of the musicians. - Scott Yanow

Buddy DeFranco (clarinet)
Dave McKenna (piano)
  1. You Must Believe in Swing
  2. Invitation
  3. The Song Is You
  4. If You Could See Me Now
  5. Darn That Dream
  6. Autumn Nocturne
  7. Poor Butterfly
  8. You Must Believe in Spring
  9. Anthropology
  10. Detour Ahead
Recorded October 15-16, 1996

Elmore James - King Of The Slide Guitar (The Complete Chess, Chief & Fire Sessions)

Here is another OOP boxset from Charly.
Elmore was born on 1918 and died of heart attack on 1963, aged only 45. He had a huge influence on blues and rock guitarists.
When he died, John Mayall wrote a song for him (Mr. James). As far as I can recall, he did the same with Sonny Boy Williamson and J.B.Lenoir

Muddy Waters took the Belgian blues fan Georges Adins to see Elmore play in Chicago in 1959.
Adins recalled,
"Elmore will always remain the most exciting, dramatic blues singer and guitarist that I've ever had a chance to see perform in the flesh. On our way we listened to him on the radio as Big Bill Hill ... was broadcasting direct from that place. I was burning to see Elmore James and before we even pushed open the door of the club, we could hear Elmore's violent guitar sound. Although the place was overcrowded, we managed to find a seat close to the bandstand and the blues came falling down on me as it had never done before. Watching Elmore sing and play, backed by a solid blues band (Homesick James, J.T. Brown, Boyd Atkins and Sam Cassell) made me feel real fine. Wearing thick glasses, Elmore's face always had an expressive and dramatic look, especially when he was real gone on the slow blues. Singing with a strong and rough voice, he really didn't need a mike. On such slow blues as "I'm Worried - "Make My Dreams Come True" - "It Hurts Me", his voice reached a climax and created a tension that was unmistakably the down and out blues. Notwithstanding that raw voice, Elmore sang his blues with a particular feeling, an emotion and depth that showed his country background. His singing was... fed, reinforced by his own guitar accompaniment which was as rough, violent and expressive as was his voice. Using the bottleneck technique most of the time, Elmore really let his guitar sound as I had never heard a guitar sound before. You just couldn't sit still! You had to move..."
Georges also witnessed Elmore at 'Alex Club' in West Side Chicago where...
"...he always played for a dance audience and he made the people jump. 'Bobby's Rock' was at that time one of the favourite numbers with the crowd and Elmore used to play [it] for fifteen minutes and more. You just couldn't stand that hysteric sound coming down on you. The place was rocking, swinging!"

Dizzy Gillespie - Live At The Village Vanguard

One of the oddest line-ups Gillespie ever figured in - Nance and Brown swap places, Jones sits in on two tunes, but otherwise the band is as listed. These are club jams rather than thought-out situations, and there are the usual dead spots; but Gillespie takes some magesterial solos - his thoughts on the blues in 'Blues For Max' are worth a close listen - and Adams in particular is in tough, no-nonsense form ~ Penguin Guide

This double CD reissues material formerly on LPs restoring several of the selections that were originally issued in edited form. A pair of unusual jam sessions, on the first (and more eccentric of the two) trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie is paired with baritonist Pepper Adams, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Richard Davis, either Mel Lewis or Elvin Jones on drums and violinist Ray Nance (who is in particularly adventurous form). The second date substitutes Garnett Brown for Nance and is a bit more conventional. These lengthy performances (all but one of the seven songs are over 11 minutes) contain some loose and rambling moments but also plenty of creative playing by this unusual group of all-stars. ~ Scott Yanow

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Pepper Adams (baritone sax)
Ray Nance (violin)
Garnett Brown (trombone)
Chick Corea (piano)
Richard Davis (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)
Mel Lewis (drums)

CD 1
1. Birk's Works
2. Lullaby Of The Leaves
3. Lover, Come Back To Me
4. Blues For Max

CD 2
1. Tour De Force
2. On The Trail
3. Sweet Georgia Brown

BN LP 5003 | Bud Powell - The Amazing Bud Powell

Un Poco Loco
Over The Rainbow

A Night In Tunisia
It Could Happen To You
You Go To My Head
Bouncing With Bud

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

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gil Evans - Live At The Public Theater Vol. I

For this week's Gile Evans we present Volume I: Volume II has already appeared. And this CD is all Evans originals with the exception of one Hendrix tune.

One of arranger Gil Evans's main talents was his ability to fuse diverse, unique performers into a unified ensemble. He accomplishes that on the first of two LPs taken from a pair of 1980 concerts, even if his presence is felt more than heard. Although Evans is on electric piano, he also employed two other synthesizer players (Masabumi Kikuchi and Pete Levin) in his eclectic band, which at the time included such notables as Lew Soloff, Jon Faddis and Hannibal Marvin Peterson on trumpets, altoist Arthur Blythe, trombonist George Lewis, baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett and drummer Billy Cobham, among others. A lengthy "Anita's Dance" and a remake of "Gone, Gone, Gone" are the more memorable selections. ~ Scott Yanow

Gil Evans (piano)
Hamiet Bluiett (alto flute, baritone sax)
Arthur Blythe (alto, soprano sax)
Jon Faddis (trumpet)
Lew Soloff (trumpet)
George Lewis (trombone)
Dave Bargeron (trombone, tuba)
Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson (trumpet)
Billy Cobham (drums)

1. Anita's Dance
2. Jelly Roll
3. Alyrio
4. Variation On The Misery
5. Orgone
6. Up From The Skies

The Public Theater, New York: February 8-9, 1980

Eccentric Soul: the Outskirts of Deep City

If you've followed Numero Group's Eccentric Soul series for any amount of time, you've likely been to Deep City, the Miami label that essentially birthed the city's soul scene and laid the groundwork for the Henry Stone funk/soul/disco empire that hit nationally during the 1970s. Their retrospective of that label was fantastic, unearthing 17 mostly forgotten tracks that added up to a formidable body of work. While Deep City was the main operation of its founders Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall, though, there was a small constellation of other labels they and their associates were involved in between 1963 and 1971 that also helped shape the character of Miami soul, including five that only released one 45. This compilation focuses on those peripheral activities, with a few additional Deep City cuts included as well.

A few of the names are new, even if most of the players are essentially the same collective documented on the first Deep City volume. Frank Williams & the Rocketeers and other alumni of Florida A&M University's Incomparable Marching 100 man many of the instruments, Clarence Reid, in his pre-Blowfly days, has two tracks and lends his writing and production skills to many others, and Helene Smith and Betty Wright duke it out for the title of Miami Soul Queen. Some of the tracks are previously unreleased, pulled from a beat-up box of reels Clarke retrieved from his ex-wife's house. According to the amusing liners, the Numero guys badgered him for years to go and get them.

Those same liners, which include a Miami soul glossary, track notes, photos, and a multi-label 45 discography, also mention that there were originally no plans for a follow-up volume, but I'm glad they made one, because most of these tracks simply didn't deserve to stay in a musty old box decaying in a closet or locked on obscure singles. Helene Smith's four tracks are real finds-- her crushing deep soul ballad "True Love Don't Grow on Trees", with its towering, symphonic horn arrangement and brooding rhythm section, is simply brilliant and makes me sad that she gave up music after the demise of Deep City (a demise she was partly responsible for).

Smith's (somewhat unwitting) rival, Betty Wright, counters with two tracks of equal power. Her "Mr. Lucky", cut through with gunshot sound effects and an organ hook that borrows from Chopin's funeral march, is a gutsy soul stomper right on the border of funk-- her gritty, badass performance on the song makes it hard to believe she was only 14 years old when she recorded it. Unbelievable. As the years wore on, funk became a much heavier influence on the Miami sound. Perk Badger's "Do Your Stuff", from 1970, is built on a thick rhythm and even features Badger's James Brown-ish instructions to the band members, while Frank Williams & the Rocketeers cut a heavy JB groove on 1966's "Show Me What You Got", clearly building on the innovations of "Out of Sight" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag".

Deep City's Criteria Studios actually hosted recording sessions by James Brown, and it's clear from these cuts that Clarke would have had no trouble getting a sound that was right for him. But whether it was hard, raw funk or lushly arranged deep soul, the Deep City crew didn't really seem to have trouble making anything sound good. This volume is almost as strong as its predecessor, a superb document of the early evolution of the Miami sound that anyone into old soul or funk should hear. — Joe Tangari, pitchforkmedia

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tampa Red - The Bluebird Recordings: 1934-1936

Out of the dozens of fine slide guitarists who recorded blues, only a handful -- Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Robert Johnson, for example -- left a clear imprint on tradition by creating a recognizable and widely imitated instrumental style. Tampa Red was another influential musical model. During his heyday in the '20s and '30s, he was billed as "The Guitar Wizard," and his stunning slide work on steel National or electric guitar shows why he earned the title. His 30-year recording career produced hundreds of sides: hokum, pop, and jive, but mostly blues (including classic compositions "Anna Lou Blues," "Black Angel Blues," "Crying Won't Help You," "It Hurts Me Too," and "Love Her with a Feeling"). Early in Red's career, he teamed up with pianist, songwriter, and latter-day gospel composer Georgia Tom Dorsey, collaborating on double entendre classics like "Tight Like That."

Listeners who only know Tampa Red's hokum material are missing the deeper side of one of the mainstays of Chicago blues. His peers included Big Bill Broonzy, with whom he shared a special friendship. Members of Lester Melrose's musical mafia and drinking buddies, they once managed to sleep through both games of a Chicago White Sox doubleheader. Eventually alcohol caught up with Red, and he blamed his latter-day health problems on an inability to refuse a drink.

During Red's prime, his musical venues ran the gamut of blues institutions: down-home jukes, the streets, the vaudeville theater circuit, and the Chicago club scene. Due to his polish and theater experience, he is often described as a city musician or urban artist in contrast to many of his more limited musical contemporaries. Furthermore, his house served as the blues community's rehearsal hall and an informal booking agency. According to the testimony of Broonzy and Big Joe Williams, Red cared for other musicians by offering them a meal and a place to stay and generally easing their transition from country to city life.

Today's listener will enjoy Tampa Red's expressive vocals and perhaps be taken aback by his kazoo solos. His songwriting has stood the test of time, and any serious slide guitar student had better be familiar with Red's guitar wizardry. ~ Barry Lee Pearson

The Complete Bluebird Recordings: 1934-1936 is a double-disc set containing 46 songs Tampa Red recorded for Bluebird in the mid-'30s, when he was one of the most popular and influential bluesmen in America. The length of the collection means that it's only of interest to serious blues fans and scholars, which is a shame, because there are many wonderful performances scattered throughout the set that demonstrate Tampa Red's mastery of the guitar and the blues song. ~ Thom Owens

CD 1
1. I'll Kill Your Soul (And Dare Your Spirit to Move)
2. If I Let You Get Away With It Once (You'll Do It All of the Time)
3. I'll Find My Way
4. You've Got to Do Better
5. Kingfish Blues
6. You Don't Want Me Blues
7. Nobody's Sweetheart
8. I'm Just Crazy 'Bout You
9. I Still Got California On My Mind
10. Grievin' And Worryin' Blues
11. Give It up Buddy and Get Goin'
12. Somebody's Been Using That Thing
13. Mean Mistreater Blues
14. Happy Jack
15. I'm So Disappointed In You
16. Worried Devil Blues
17. Christmas And New Year's Blues
18. Sweet Woman
19. I'll Get A Break Someday
20. Witchin' Hour Blues
21. Stockyard Fire
22. Worthy Of You
23. If It Ain't That Gal Of Mine
24. Mean Old Tom Cat Blues

CD 2
1. Mean Old Tom Cat Blues
2. Don't Dog Your Woman
3. Singing And Crying Blues
4. Shake It Up A Little
5. Shake It Up A Little
6. My Baby Said Yes
7. I'm Betting On You
8. Rowdy Woman Blues
9. Keep On Dealin' (Play Your Hand)
10. (I Could Learn To Love You) So Good
11. When I Take My Vacation in Harlem
12. Drinkin' My Blues Away
13. Dark And Stormy Night
14. Good Woman Blues
15. You Missed A Good Man
16. Waiting Blues
17. When You Were A Gal Of Seven
18. Let's Get Drunk & Truck
19. Maybe It's Someone Else You Love
20. I Wonder What's The Matter
21. She Don't Know My Mind
22. She Don't Know My Mind, Pt. 2

Benny Carter - Aspects

One of Benny Carter's most famous works is Aspects, a jazz calendar with musical pieces representing each of the twelve months of the year. Carter arranged each piece to capture in music the mood and character of each month.

This CD reissues an enjoyable obscurity. Although originally associated with big bands, the set has what was Benny Carter's only big-band recording as a playing leader during 1947-86. While the song titles are a bit gimmicky, saluting the 12 months of the year (including "June in January," "I'll Remember April," "June Is Busting Out All Over," etc.), the music (which includes four alternate takes) is solid, mainstream big-band swing. The less familiar titles include four Carter originals written for the date, plus Hal Schaefer's "February Fiesta." The leader/altoist solos on every selection, and among the other top West Coast studio players featured are trumpeters Shorty Sherock, Pete Candoli and Joe Gordon, trombonists Frank Rosolino and Herbie Harper, vibraphonist Larry Bunker, pianists Arnold Ross and Gerry Wiggins, and guitarist Barney Kessel. Two overlapping big bands were utilized, and the music alternates between being forceful and lyrical. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Bill Evans - Empathy + A Simple Matter Of Conviction

This album came about through a fortuitous convergence of circumstances. Shelly Manne & His Men were appearing at New York's Village Vanguard, sharing the bill with the Bill Evans Trio. Getting Riverside's permission to let the pianist participate, Creed Taylor set up a session at Rudy Van Gelder's studio with Evans and Manne sharing top billing. Manne's bass player, Monty Budwig, made up the trio. This was a busman's holiday for Evans, who was freed from the musical parameters he had set for his then-current trio. The result is that his playing seemed lighter, freer, and more relaxed than it had for a while. The album kicks off with a jaunty version of Irving Berlin's "The Washington Twist" from the unsuccessful Mr. President with Budwig sharing the honors with Evans as much as Manne. Manne spends most of his time driving Evans into more diminished and sharper playing than was usually Evans' wont. Another relatively unfamiliar Berlin work, "Let's Go Back to the Waltz," gives full reign to Evans' lyricism. The longest tune on the set is an audacious, almost lampooned version of "With a Song in My Heart" with light chordal phrasing that pretty much characterized much of the tone coming from this session. Listening to these three, it's clear that everyone was having a good time and simply enjoying being relieved of their duties with their regular combos, even if for just one day. Empathy has been reissued by Verve as a CD that also includes another Evans' goody, A Simple Matter of Conviction. ~ Dave Nathan

1. The Washington Twist
2. Danny Boy
3. Let's Go Back To The Waltz
4. With A Song In My Heart
5. Goodbye
6. I Believe In You

Bill Evans (piano)
Monty Budwig (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)

What separated this from the average good Bill Evans date was the inclusion of Shelly Manne on drums, who inventively pushed and took unexpected chances. This was, I believe, Eddie Gomez' (bass) debut release with Evans (piano) and it was quite impressive. There were numerous takes at this session and judging from Chuck Briefer's liners it might be interesting to hear them released. ~ Bob Rusch

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

Bill Evans (piano)
Eddie Gomez (bass)
Shelly Manne (drums)

17. A Simple Matter Of Conviction
8. Stella By Starlight
9. Orbit (Unless It's You)
10. Laura
11. My Melancholy Baby
12. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
13. Star Eyes
14. Only Child
15. These Things Called Changes

Forum West: Modern Jazz from West Germany 1962-1968

"If there's a better compilation of groovy, groovy West German jazz from the early-to-mid 60s than this amazing set from Sonar Kollectiv -- we'd be shocked to hear it! Forum West features an amazing selection of some of the best 60s icons of the German and European scenes -- including Hans Koller, Wolfgang Dauner, Rolf & Joachim Kuhn, Joe Nay & Fritz Pauer and many more! The modern jazz scene of the time was absolutely ripe with some of the most open and creative grooves jazz had seen at the time, thanks to the floodgates being ripped open by Mingus, Byrd, Cherry and others in the avant garde -- and the artists on this set inject that sweetly open and groovy European aesthetic -- full of chiming keys and vibes, flute, and other airy elements that make the overall sound so magical! Amazing, amazing stuff -- some of the greatest hip European jazz you could ever hope to hear from the era! Tracks include "Intrada" by the Wolfgang Lauth Sextet, "Mingus Privat" by Hans Koller Ensemble, "Freefall" by Wolfgang Dauner Trio, "Last Of The Wine" by Ronnie Ross & His Band, "Red Roof" by Fritz Pauer Trio, "Eternal Oil Lamp" by the Joe Haider Septet, "Arabia Rock" by Rolf & Joachim Kuhn Quartet and much more!" -- DustyGroove

1. Wolfang Lauth Sextet - Intrada
2. Hans Koller Ensemble - Mingus Privat
3. Joe Haider Septet - Straight Out
4. Hans Koller Ensemble - Casa Loma
5. Joe Haider & His Orchestra - Hymnus for Che
6. Wolfgang Dauner Trio - Freefall
7. Rolf & Joachim Kühn Quartet - Arabia Rock
8. Ronnie Ross & His Band - Tranquology
9. Hans Koller Ensemble - Saint John Perse
10. Ronnie Ross & His Band - Last of the Wine
11. Joe Nay & Fritz Pauer - Beta Draco
12. Hans Koller Ensemble - Zoot
13. Wolfgang Dauner Trio - Ten Notices
14. Fritz Pauer Trio - Red Roof
15. Hans Koller Ensemble - Call Me Eric
16. Joe Haider Septet - Eternal Oil Lamp
17. Hans Koller Ensemble - Lucky Tom

All previously unreleased except 6 & 13

Focus Jazz: More Modern Jazz from the Wewerka Archive 1966-1969

It's been quite a while since I've last contributed some music, but this is so good it's going to wipe my sins away forever. "Forum West", the prequel to this Sonar Kollektiv compilation, will also be posted soon.

"For this compilation, the JAZZANOVA collective and STEPHAN STEIGLEDER descended even deeper into WEWERKA’s Munich vaults. As a result, the variety of the music is much wider than that on Volume One. Hearing them talk about the amounts of tape they trawled, one gets the impresion that there is no limit to this archive. This volume bears further testimony to the fact that only a percentage of the history of Jazz is known, that much of it still slumbers in archives and that there are a lot of secrets still to uncover - thanks to people like HANS WEWERKA."

Focus Jazz: More Modern Jazz from the Wewerka Archive 1966-1969

1. Joe Haider - Colours of Sea
2. Dusko Goykovich - Macedonia
3. Erich Ferstl - To Go and to Return
4. Milcho Leviev - Blues 10
5. Joe Haider - No Way
6. Heinz Sauer - Plakate
7. Peter Korinek - Down Town
8. Hans Posegga - Shangri La 1
9. Mal Waldron - Macedonian Fertility Dance
10. Kamil Hala - Nachtvögel
11. Erich Ferstl - Double Chance
12. Dusko Goykovich - Saga se Karame
13. Walter Geiger - Anwalt des Teufels
14. Joe Haider - Lost Day
15. Pavel Blatny - Suite for Jazz Orchester

Duke Ellington - Braggin' In Brass: The Immortal 1938 Year

A remarkable period before the miracle that was the 1941-era outfit, this single year has three and a half of the Chrono series dedicated to it. While the notes aren't as comprehensive as some other Ellington sets, this is well worth checking out. Well, it would have to be: it's the Duke.

Although not as immortal as the Blanton-Webster sides of 1940, Braggin' in Brass contains enough Ellington gems to make it more than just a secondary collection. It especially benefits from a wealth of fine contributions by seasoned Ellington soloists like alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges, clarinetist Barney Bigard, trumpeter Cootie Williams, trombonist Lawrence Brown, and baritone saxophonist Harry Carney. Along with perennial Ellingtonia like "I Let a Song Go out of My Heart" and "Prelude to a Kiss," there are minor classics here in "T.T. on Toast" and Rex Stewart's trumpet vehicle "Boy Meets Horn." Ivie Anderson, Ellington's "girl singer" at the time, gets the call for lighthearted swingers like "Skrontch," "You Gave Me the Gate (And I'm Swingin')," and "Rose of the Rio Grande," while the boss keeps the instrumental side of things engaging with ethereal mood pieces like "Lost in Meditation" and "Blue Light." Following up his own similarly exotic piece "Caravan," trombonist Juan Tizol contributes the near-Eastern theme "Pyramid," replete with hand-drum accompaniment by Sonny Greer. Although composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn would arrive a few years later, taking the band to new heights, this 1938 incarnation of Ellington's group held their own with many fine compositions, a seamless sense of swing, and a wealth of unique solo contributions, elements that set the group apart throughout the big-band era. Maybe not as essential as other Ellington tiles, but still highly recommended. ~ Stephen Cook

DukeEllington (piano)
Johnny Hodges (clarinet, alto and soprano sax
Rex Stewart (cornet)
Cootie Williams (trumpet)
Otto Hardwick (alto sax)
Harry Carney (alto and baritone sax, clarinet)
Lawrence Brown (trombone)
Sonny Greer (drums)

CD 1
1. Stepping Into Swing Society
2. Prologue To Black And Tan Fantasy
3. New Black And Tan Fantasy
4. Riding On A Blue Note
5. Lost In Meditation
6. Gal From Joe's
7. Skrontch
8. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
9. Braggin' In Brass
10. Dinah's In A Jam
11. You Gave Me The Gate (And I'm Swingin')
12. Rose Of The Rio Grande
13. Rose Of The Rio Grande
14. Pyramid
15. When My Sugar Walks Down The Street
16. Gypsy Without A Song

CD 2
1. Stevedore's Serenade
2. A Blues Serenade
3. Love In Swingtime
4. Please Forgive Me
5. Lambeth Walk
6. Prelude To A Kiss
7. Hip Chic
8. Buffet Flat
9. Mighty Like The Blues
10. Jazz Potpourri
11. T. T. On Toast
12. Battle Of Swing
13. Blue Light
14. Blue Light
15. Boy Meets Horn
16. Slap Happy

John Handy - Jazz (Roulette, 1962)

Hello again, here is the 3rd and final album John Handy did for Roulette in the early 60s, not quite as good as the first 2 (posted here already) and none of them have been reissued on CD. I find Handy's compositions here a little lacking and the soloists meander on at times losing the listener's interest. Perhaps I'm being harsh, this is a good session with soulful, fiery blues and interesting to contrast with his later work for Columbia, plus you can always rely on Walter Bishop to sound good. The self-lauding linear notes are amusing, also this LP has a little note on the back, presumably from John Handy. Hit and miss.

Altoist John Handy's third and final Roulette set (a quartet date with pianist Walter Bishop Jr., bassist Julian Euell and drummer Edgar Bateman) is highlighted by "From Bird," "East of the Sun" and "Strugglin'." Handy's appealing and already distinctive alto sound, combined with an exploratory style, resulted in this music having plenty of surprising moments. Unfortunately, the session is quite scarce, last available as part of a Roulette double LP that also includes an Art Blakey set. -Yanow

John Handy (as)
Walter Bishop Jr. (p)
Julian T. Euell (b)
Edgar L. Bateman Jr. (d)

VIDEO: The Beethoven Symphonies

EuroArts Music presentation
Claudio Abbado & the Berliner Philharmoniker
The Beethoven Symphonies

Performed in a series of concerts in 2001 in Rome at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia to an unusually enthusiastic audience. Due to the quality of these performances, here is an excellent opportunity to re-visit these great works.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Elmer Bernstein - The Man with the Golden Arm (OST/1955)

Elmer Bernstein’s contribution to the movie score genre over a period of fifty years is unrivalled. He was a master of his craft who wrote sound tracks which not only accentuated mood and action but, as Martin Scorcese put it, “graced the film.”

The 1955 score to The Man with the Golden Arm broke new ground by using a jazz format throughout as a continuous storytelling element. Bernstein used Shorty Rogers and Shelley Manne as consultants and the large orchestra was packed with the top West Coast players.

The film itself, adaptated from Nelson Algren’s novel and advertised with the eye-catching contemporary graphics featured on this CD cover, was considered quite hard hitting at the time and starred Frank Sinatra as a would-be drummer with a drug habit.

This is the fantastic jazz soundtrack to Otto Preminger's classic Frank Sinatra movie The Man with the Golden Arm. The Man with the Golden Arm was based on Nelson Algren's novel of the same name and is the story of heroin addict Frankie Machine (played by Frank Sinatra) and his efforts to rid himself of the "40 pound monkey on his back". Earning his living in a gambling joint, where he is known as "Dealer", he hopes to be a drummer in a big-time band, but his weakness continually gets the better of him.

Bernstein's music reflects the tightness of the movie and expresses its tension in palpitating and sometimes sinister jazz. Interpreted by an orchestra of the best jazz and symphonic instrumentalists in the country at the time, Bernstien's soundtrack is a unique mixture of gentle woodwinds and screaming brass. Shelly Manne, the noted jazz drummer, takes care of the instruments which are so importantant to the development of the movie and it was Manne who tutored Sinatra in the intracacies of percussion.

One of the first film scores to prominently feature jazz, Elmer Bernstein's soundtrack to ... Full Descriptionthe 1955 Otto Preminger drama, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, starring Frank Sinatra, is a landmark recording. Not only did the album set a new standard for movie music, but it marks Bernstein's emergence as a major composer, capable of conveying both euphoric energy (the raucous, horn-laden "Frankie Machine") and delicate somberness (the haunting, woodwind-led "Desperation"). Standing on its own as an ambitious '50s jazz record, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM is a high point in Bernstein's impressive catalogue of film work.

Reissue of the classic Bernstein soundtrack, which is acknowledged as one of the most tense an intense motion pictures ever made. The score was groundbreaking in it's day, reflecting the tightness of the film with it's palpitating, sometimes sinister jazz and symphonic arrangements. The jazz sequences are arranged and played byShorty Rogers and His Giants with Shelley Manne.

Original score composed by Elmer Bernstein.Uncut (11/01, p.136) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...It lent the Sinatra movie a nervy intensity, and was the first time jazz had been used to mould the mood of an entire film..." Mojo (Publisher) (6/02, p.64) - Included in Mojo's "100 Coolest Movie Soundtracks" - "...Riff-ridden, almost Wagnerian jazz...First you need this one, then you need the rest."
Arranged By - Shorty Rogers
Orchestrations - Fred Steiner
Bass - Abe Luboff , Ralph Pena
Cello - Armand Kaproff
Clarinet - Mitchell Lurie
Flute - Martin Ruderman
French Horn - Joseph Eger
Oboe - Arnold Koblentz
Piano - Ray Turner
Drums - Shelly Manne
Saxophone [Alto] - Bud Shank
Saxophone [Tenor] - Bob Cooper
Trumpet - Bob Fleming, Pete Candoli
Fluglehorn - Shorty Rogers
Trombone - Milt Bernhardt
Violin - Anatol Kaminsky

1. Clarke Street
2. Zosh
3. Frankie Machine
4. The Fix
5. Molly
6. Breakup
7. Sunday Morning
8. Desperation
9. Audition
10. The Cure
11. Finale

Sonny Boy Williamson - The Chess Years

The complete recordings of the great Sonny Boy Williamson for Chess. An out of print 4CDs boxset, issued by Charly. Many alt. takes included.

I guess this is enough and I should stop. However, let me add 2-3 lines about Sonny Boy:
Call him Aleck Ford or Rice Miller or Sonny Boy Williamson II, this man was a genius (IMHO, John Lee Sonny Boy Williamson I pales by comparison). He was a master of the harp, a great singer, a storyteller, a gambler, a “mean old man”. His songs have been covered by many artists and he has influenced practically everyone who played blues harp after him.
Many years ago, my brother bought a book to teach himself blues harp (I cannot recall the author or the title of the book any more). On the first page of the book was written something like: “To Sonny Boy Williamson, a poet of our times ... I feel sorry for those who haven’t heard him and sorrier for those who heard him and passed him by”

“I heard Sonny Boy blow…” Amen!

Ramsey Lewis Trio - 1960 In Chicago + Stretching Out

Chicagoan pianist Ramsey Lewis debuted on record in 1956 (21 years old). Trained in classical music, he has an excellent technique. After several jazz albums, he began to mix jazz with soul and funk. In the middle 60's he reached his peak with “The In Crowd”, “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade In The Water”. The interest about him of jazz public has been decreasing since then and nowadays is nearly inexistent.
This release contains two complete Argo albums of 1960 (the jazzy period), "The Ramsey Lewis Trio in Chicago" featuring the pianist's classic trio plus "Stretching Out" , featuring the same personnel, and recorded earlier the same year. Both five years before "The In Crowd", and both previously unissued on CD.
"In Chicago" was recorded live at the Blue Note Club, Chicago, April 30, 1960 - a couple of weeks before it was closed. It was the last album ever recorded at the historic venue. "Stretching Out" was a studio album recorded in Chicago, February 23-24, 1960. A simple trio: piano (Ramsey Lewis), bass (Eldee Young) and drums (Red Holt) and yet the sound is so much more. This double program shows a more dynamic side of the group than his usually mellow side. The trio sounds comfortable and natural.

As usual Scotty has made the review of both albums:

One of pianist Ramsey Lewis' most satisfying jazz albums of his pre-"The In Crowd" days, this LP features the pianist, bassist Eldee Young, and drummer Red Holt jamming on a variety of standards (including "Old Devil Moon," "I'll Remember April," and "But Not for Me"), plus "Carmen," "Delilah," and "Folk Ballad." The trio stretches out a little more during the live date than they did in the studio, and they seem inspired by the audience. As with most of Lewis' early Argo/Cadet releases, this has not been reissued yet on CD, but the excellent LP can probably be found in budget bins.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio, with bassist Eldee Young and drummer Red Holt joining the leader/pianist, was a hot property in 1960, although it was still five years before "The In Crowd." Their swinging string of albums for Argo (most of which unfortunately have relatively brief playing time, like this 31-minute program) are among Lewis' strongest from the jazz standpoint, balancing a commercial emphasis on melody with jazz improvising and swinging. Later on, the balance would shift toward pop, but Ramsey Lewis' late-'50s and early-'60s work resulted in sets of interest to jazz listeners, including this LP. Highlights include "Little Liza Jane," "My Ship" (which at 4:06 is easily the longest performance of the set), "Put Your Little Foot Right Out," and "A Portrait of Jennie."

01 Old Devil Moon 4:06
02 What’s New 4:47
03 Carmen 3:09
04 Bei Mir Bist Du Schon 3:58
05 I’ll Remember April 3:27
06 Delilah 4:38
07 Folk Ballad 6:34
08 But Not For Me 5:15
09 C.C. Rider 3:12
10 Little Liza Jane 3:13
11 This Is My Night To Dream 2:34
12 Scarlet Ribbons 3:32
13 Here ‘Tis 2:51
14 My Ship 4:14
15 Put Your Little Foot Right Out 2:55
16 Solo Para Ti 2:56
17 These Foolish Things 3:37
18 When The Spirit Moves You 3:43
19 A Portrait Of Jennie 2:30

Tracks #1-9 from "The Ramsey Lewis Trio in Chicago" (Argo LP 671). Recorded live at the Blue Note Club, Chicago, on April 30, 1960.

Tracks #10-19 from "Stretching Out" (Argo LP 665). Recorded in Chicago, on February 23 & 24, 1960.

Ramsey Lewis (p)
Eldee Young (b)
Isaac “Red” Holt (d)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Teddy Wilson - Isn't It Romantic

From 1944 to December 1947, Teddy Wilson made one superb record after another. A musician who seemed to make every note he played appear effortless, few pianists were his equal. Wilson's playing has been described as urbane, polished, poised, meticulous, but one thing's for sure: it was always heartfelt
ISN'T IT ROMANTIC highlights the romantic qualities of Wilson's music and pianistic style. Free of the cold intellectualism prevalent in jazz in the mid- to late- '40s, Wilson's music is hot and unbound, while remaining precise and accurate. Highlights include "These Foolish Things" and "Something I Dreamed Last Night," featuring Kay Penton's sultry vocals.

As promised, here is the second batch of the Musicraft recordings.

1. As Time Goes By
2. After You've Gone
3. Georgia on My Mind
4. These Foolish Things
5. Sheik of Araby
6. Isn't It Romantic
7. Limehouse Blues
8. Something I Dreamed Last Night
9. Chinatown, My Chinatown
10. Bess, You Is My Woman
11. Whispering
12. I've Got the World on a String
13. Fine and Dandy
14. Living in Dreams
15. I Want to Be Happy
16. Just You, Just Me
17. Ain't Misbehavin'

Message from Ruud

Not sure if shameless self promotion is allowed, so let's see (LOL).

I've decided to give my links a new home. There's not much yet and everything (so far) has been posted before, but it's nice to keep it all together.

have a peek and say hi if you like: Link is in comments

Ruud :)

David Murray - Black & Black

In general, tenor saxophonist David Murray's Red Baron recordings are not on the same level of his Black Saints albums; the settings tended to be more conservative and the material not as strong. This outing with pianist Kirk Lightsey, bassist Santi Debriano, drummer Roy Haynes and trumpeter Marcus Belgrave is better than most of his Red Baron releases. The material is fairly basic (including "Duke's Place" and the two-note "C Jam Blues" theme, which is listed as being composed by four people), Murray tends to play fairly freely despite the boppish rhythm section, and the closing "Head Out" (the longest of the five lengthy jams) has plenty of fiery intensity. Not essential but worth picking up by David Murray fans. ~ Scott Yanow

David Murray (tenor sax)
Marcus Belgrave (trumpet)
Kirk Lightsey (piano)
Santi Debriano (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)

1. Anti-Calypso
2. Duke's Place
3. Cool
4. Black and Black
5. Head Out

Art Tatum - Piano Starts Here Live at the Shrine Zenph Re-Performance

This is bound to be of some interest to someone out there...

This was recorded (quite literally) at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, September 23, 2007

First of all, if you haven't heard Tatum or this album, you must.

Second, you will need to hear the original album, released on Columbia, which is many decades old. I don't have it; if someone does, it would be great to see it re-posted sometime.

This is certainly ripe for commentary and/or criticism, and this is definitely the place for that.

I have enjoyed this on a technological level, although it does strike me as being somewhat of a high-tech placing of a ship in a bottle. On the other hand, it is fascinating what can and could be done now and in the future with other jazz masterpieces. Perhaps Kid Ory or King Oliver would be next in line. At any rate, don't hesitate to study it and weigh in with your opinions.

Original recordings 1-4, march 21, 1933. 4-13 were recorded spring of 1949 at the Shrine
Tracks 1-13 Zenph Studios Re-Performance Stereo Surround Version

14-26: Zenph Studios re-Performance Binaural Stereo Version (The Ultimate Headphone Experience)

Tea For Two/St. Louis Blues/Tiger Rag/Sophisticated Lady/Humoresque/Tatum Pole Boogie/Someone To Watch Over Me/How High The Moon/Yesterdays/Willow Weep For Me/The Kerry Dance/Gershwin Medley/I Know That You Know

Louie Bellson - Their Time Was the Greatest (1995)

Louie Bellson pays tribute to 12 different drummers on this big band CD and Bellson, who was always his own man, does not attempt to copy the playing or style of the drummers that are being honored. He also wrote most of the tunes and arranged two of them with the other arrangements coming from Thad Jones, Bob Florence, Nat Pierce, Tommy Newsom, Frank Mantooth, Rick Wilkins, Mark Taylor and Neal Finn, giving the band some variety in their sound. The soloists and players are top-notch - just check out the personnel below.

Snooky Young, Pete Candoli, Conte Candoli, Frank Szabo, Walt Johnson (trumpet)
Andy Martin, Jimmy Zito, Thurman Green, Mike Wimberly (trombone)
Sal Lozano, Ray Reed, Pete Christlieb, Tommy Newsom, Bill Green (saxophone)
Frank Strazzeri (piano)
Dave Carpenter (bass)
Louie Bellson (drums)
Jack Arnold (percussion)
  1. Hallelujah (for Buddy Rich)
  2. Liza (for Chick Webb)
  3. 24th Day (for Sid Catlett)
  4. Brush Taps (for Jo Jones)
  5. Well Alright Then (for Max Roach)
  6. Y-Not (for Tony Williams)
  7. Stix & Bones (for Dennis Chambers)
  8. Zig Zag (for Elvin Jones)
  9. It's Those Magical Drums in You (for Gene Krupa)
  10. Acetnam (for Art Blakey)
  11. Our Manne Shelly (for Shelly Manne)
  12. All About Steve (for Steve Gadd)
Recorded August 17-18, 1995

VIDEO: Oscar Peterson Trio on the Southbank Show

Oscar Peterson, NHOP, and Martin Drew on London Weekend Television's The Southbank Show in 1984. The series was produced and directed by Alan Benson, and featured quite a goodly number of such programs, if a bit 'British' in aspect - part 'intellectual interview', part music. Easter Suite, composed by OP, is the featured work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kid Ory - 1922-1945 (Chronological 1069)

" ... he recorded the first ever sides by an all-black group, 'Ory's Creole Trombone' and 'Society Blues', in 1922. For some purists these ... and not the Original Dixieland Jazz Band's earlier discs, mark the real start of jazz recording." ~ Penguin Guide

Kid Ory was one of the first jazz trombonists, and the very first New Orleans musician of color to commit his sounds to phonograph records. The Classics chronology of complete recordings made under the leadership of Kid Ory begins with two smart instrumentals, recorded in Los Angeles in June of 1922. Originally issued on the Nordskog label as by Spikes' Seven Pods of Pepper Orchestra, these sides also appeared on Sunshine Records under the heading of Ory's Sunshine Orchestra. After the showy ragtime novelty "Ory's Creole Trombone," destined to be revived a few years later with Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five, "Society Blues" comes across with soulful sophistication. Mutt Carey's cornet interacts pleasantly with Ory's slip horn and the clarinet of Dink Johnson, brother of primal Crescent City bassist Bill Johnson. This is a rare opportunity to hear Dink blowing a wind instrument. After disappearing for a long spell, Dink would show up years later on record as a growling, beer-swilling ragtime and barrelhouse piano player. Four additional sides were waxed on or around that same day in 1922, using Ory's ensemble to back up two blues vocalists. Roberta Dudley sang with a lot of exaggerated, stylized vibrato, belting out the lyrics in an over-the-top manner. The second vocalist, identified as Ruth Lee, also warbles but sounds just a bit more natural than Dudley. The transfers of these old platters are as good as on any other reissue. In fact, judging from variances in surface noise, the same masters may have been used for Classics 1069 as were employed on Document 1002. The great thing about this CD is the consistent presence of Mutt Carey and bassist Ed Garland throughout, even as Ory's chronology leaps ahead 22 years to his West Coast comeback. Four titles, apparently the first ever issued on the Circle record label, find Ory, Mutt and clarinetist Omer Simeon supported by a strong rhythm section. Plowing through 1945, Ory led his band in the creation of a virtual blueprint for the New Orleans Revival by waxing a body of outstanding records in the style of his hometown. These wonderful performances became available to the public on the Crescent, Exner and Decca labels, and much of the material would be carefully revisited on Ory's finely crafted albums brought out during the 1950s by the Good Time Jazz record company. Kid Ory's music is substantial, entertaining and very reassuring. ~ arwulf arwulf

Kid Ory (trombone)
Joe Darensbourg (clarinet)
Mutt Carey (cornet)
Freddy Washington (piano)
Bud Scott (guitar)
Omer Simeon (clarinet)
Dink Johnson (clarinet)
Alton Redd (drums)

1. Ory's Creole Trombone
2. Society Blues
3. Krooked Blues
4. When You're Alone Blues
5. Maybe Someday
6. That Sweet Something Dear
7. Get Out Of Here
8. South
9. Blues For Jimmy
10. Creole Song
11. Dippermouth Blues
12. Savoy Blues
13. High Society
14. Ballin' The Jack
15. High Society
16. Muskrat Ramble
17. Girls Go Crazy About The Way I Walk
18. Panama
19. Careless Love
20. Do What Ory Say
21. Under The Bamboo Tree
22. 1919
23. Maryland
24. Down Home Rag
25. Oh Didn't He Ramble

The Rod Levitt Orchestra - Dynamic Sound Patterns

This is one of the recent 'Limited Edition' OJCs: usually when a company says limited they mean limited to the amount they can sell, but these are all out of print now, and the series brought forth some very interesting obscurities. In fact, i haven't heard a bad one yet.

The octet that trombonist/arranger Rod Levitt leads on this 1963 session was billed as the Rod Levitt Orchestra, which is a definite misuse of the word "orchestra." An octet is not an orchestra; it's a medium-size unit or, as Phil Woods would say, "a little big band." But even though Dynamic Sound Patterns isn't an orchestral project in the true sense, Levitt still gives the band a very big, full sound. There are eight musicians onboard -- five horns and a rhythm section -- but Levitt gives the illusion that he is leading a larger outfit, which speaks well of his arranging and bandleading skills. If Levitt had wanted a smaller sound, he could have asked the musicians to play softly and made an octet sound more like a quintet -- in the '50s, many cool jazz sessions favored that type of approach. But cool obviously isn't what Levitt is going for on Dynamic Sound Patterns, which finds him leading a New York lineup that includes Rolf Ericson (trumpet), Buzz Renn (alto sax, clarinet), George Marge (tenor sax, clarinet, piccolo, English horn), Gene Allen (baritone sax, bass clarinet), Sy Johnson (piano), John Beal (bass), and Ronnie Bedford (drums). Most of these musicians aren't major names in the jazz world. Ericson is well known, but he's the exception instead of the rule -- Dynamic Sound Patterns can hardly be accused of having an all-star lineup. But that doesn't make these bop-oriented performances any less valid. This Riverside date (which was reissued on CD in 2003) tends to be on the cerebral side, and much of the material has a Thelonious Monk-influenced angularity. Dynamic Sound Patterns didn't make Levitt a huge name in the jazz world; nonetheless, this album is an enjoyable demonstration of his skills as both soloist and an arranger/bandleader. ~ Alex Henderson

Rod Levitt (trombone)
Rolf Ericson (trumpet)
Gene Allen (bass clarinet, baritone sax)
Sy Johnson (piano)
Buzz Renn (alto sax, clarinet)
George Marge ( tenor sax, clarinet, piccolo, English horn)
John Beal (bass)
Ronnie Bedford (drums)

1. Holler
2. Ah! Spain
3. Jelly Man
4. Upper Bay
5. General
6. His Master's Voice

Teddy Wilson - Everytime We Say Goodbye

This compilation of five recording sessions from the mid-1940s showcases Teddy Wilson's unique talent. Endearing and virtuoso versions of many jazz classics are heard here, including "How High the Moon," "Strange Interlude," "Dinah," and "Everytime We Say Goodbye."
We are treated to 17 delectable jazz numbers which feature, among others, the brilliant skills of trumpeter Charlie Shavers, vibraphonist Red Norvo, and vocalist Maxine Sullivan. A compelling set of recordings, EVERYTIME WE SAY GOODBYE is an example of swing music at its best.

These are half of the sides that Teddy Wilson cut for Musicraft Records. They were reissued in 1990 by Albert Marx's Discovery Records (MVSCD-59). Three years later, Discovery was acquired by Warner.
Stay tuned for more Teddy on Musicraft (Isn't It Romantic, MVSCD -58)

1. How High the Moon
2. Strange Interlude
3. Rose Room
4. It's the Talk of the Town
5. Just Like a Butterfly That's Caught in the Rain
6. Hallelujah
7. Dinah
8. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
9. Just You, Just Me
10. This Heart of Mine
11. Bugle Call Rag
12. Runnin' Wild
13. Memories of You
14. If Dreams Come True
15. I Can't Get Started (With You)
16. Stompin' at the Savoy
17. Blues Too

Lee Konitz - Sound of Surprise (1999)

While Whitney Balliett coined the phrase "sound of surprise" to describe jazz, it also pretty well sums up the entire career of Lee Konitz, whose fluid, dynamic alto has been a constant source of inspiration, distinction, and clarity. This effort teams him with such empathetic instrumental foils as Ted Brown John Abercrombie Marc Johnson and Joey Baron, who are superb rhythmic navigators, plotting interesting paths for Konitz with metered maps of their own drafting. Brown, a quite literate tenor saxophonist much in the style of old Konitz confrere Warne Marsh, has never had much use for the music business, and is rarely heard anymore. But he drops in here, shining on four cuts. The loose, freewheeling "Hi Beck" finds Brown and Konitz in unison, then counterpointed on heads and tails, with Baron tastefully trading eights in between. They play individual lines during the course of the ballad "Soddy & Bowl" but are firmly welded together for "Thingin'," the now-obligatory Konitz adaptation of "All the Things You Are." With Abercrombie, who is much more reserved and less affected, they do a crisp bossa line of "Mr. 88," the swinging bopper "Friendlee," and "Crumbles," a good swinger with upper-register melody. The bluesy "Bits & Pieces" is randomly tossed about, as Johnson drops out and then saunters back in with a solo, as does the roiling Baron. The famous "Subconsciouslee" finds each member playing by himself, then together, then with solos and rhythmic backup. Baron is really head and shoulders above most drummers; his dynamic concept consistently commands attention. Yet another fine recording from Konitz, this adds to an already immense discography that seems to get broader and deeper as it lengthens. - Michael G. Nastos

Lee Konitz (alto sax)
Ted Brown (tenor sax)
John Abercrombie (guitar)
Marc Johnson (bass)
Joey Baron (drums)
  1. Hi Beck
  2. Gundula
  3. Mr. 88
  4. Bits and Pieces
  5. Blues Suite
  6. Friendlee
  7. Soddy and Bowl
  8. Singin'
  9. Wingin'
  10. Thingin'
  11. Crumbles
  12. Subconsciouslee
Recorded April 21-22, 1999

Howling Wolf - Rides Again

From the ACE catalogue:
"The complete Modern Howlin' Wolf masters are gathered here, including both takes of 'Riding in the Moonlight' from his first ever session..."

From Amazon's review:
"These are Howlin' Wolf's best sides, made for Modern Records in 1951 and 1952. ... This is the stuff that appeared over the years on Crown, Kent, and United, albeit with a few extra sides thrown in here. It's great to hear these in comparatively decent fidelity. There is the glorious House Rockin' Boogie ('I'll be in your town when I get there'); the mersmerizing Crying at Daybreak (an earlier, superior Smokestack Lightning); the devastating I Want Your Picture; the killer-guitar-work classic Worried About My Baby; The Robert-Johnsonesque Driving This Highway; and the compelling and enigmatic I'm the Wolf, THE recorded example of repetition as art. This is the real stuff, not the effete 1960s and 1970s imitations by Brits substituting amplifier drive for the musical kind. No large speakers or large crowds. Just the blues.

These sides were recorded by Sam Philips in Memphis for the Bihari's label "Modern" during 1951 & 1952. In fact, Philips was selling Wolf to both, the Biharis and the Chess brothers! Wolf would soon move North, to record exclusively for Chess.
However, if you know the Wolf and you haven't heard these sides, you think you know the Wolf!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Buddy Collette - Flute Talk

The unspoken connection here is, of course, Eric Dolphy. One man was was teacher and the other was greatly influenced by him.

Other than a couple of releases for tiny labels in 1973, this Soul Note CD was Buddy Collette's first session as a leader since 1964. Collette and his former pupil, the great flutist James Newton, team up with pianist Geri Allen, bassist Jaribu Shahid, and drummer Gianpiero Prina for six of Collette's melodic originals (including "Blues in Torrance"), one of Newton's, and a free improvisation created by the two flutists. Collette, who also plays some alto and clarinet on the date, sounds quite happy to be reunited with Newton and to finally be recording again. Although the music is primarily straight-ahead, there are some adventurous moments. ~ Scott Yanow

Newton is a thoroughly contemporary artist, making elegant, sometimes eccentric, always high-minded albums that reflect a wide variety of jazz and classical influences without giving a fig about what happens to be popular at a given time. Besides producing a lovely tone quality, his flute work is highly resourceful, making use of flutter-tonguing, birdlike effects and simultaneous vocal/flute lines, trying to push the envelope of his instrument.

Buddy Collette (clarinet, flute, alto sax)
James Newton (flute)
Geri Allen (piano)
Jaribu Shahid (bass)
Gianpiero Prina (drums)

1. Magali
2. Blues In Torrance
3. Richmond In Acropolis
4. It's You
5. Crystal
6. André
7. Flute Talk
8. Roshanda

Benny Carter - Volume 1 1928-1931 (Masters Of Jazz 22)

I just got the 2 volume bio/discography by Berger and Patrick when Lo and Behold, this first volume appeared before me in the store. You best believe I leapt a manly leap. It features Benny's first recorded solo and first recorded arrangement, a stellar cast of players, and some less stellar but interesting folk as well; Billie Holiday's father, for example. This volume begins earlier than the Chrono series.

" Carter's charts, like his playing, are characteristically open-textured and softly bouncing, but seldom lightweight; though he had a particular feel for the saxophone section, as is often noted, and he pioneered a more modern approach to big-band reeds, his gifts extend throughout the orchestra. As a soloist, he developed in a direction rather different from that of Johnny Hodges, who explored a darker register and a less buoyant sensibility. Carter's earliest recordings with the Chocolate Dandies (the band included Coleman Hawkins) and with McKinney's Cotton pickersput considerable emphasis on his multi-instrumentalism." ~ Penguin Guide

Benny Carter (alto sax, clarinet)
Jabbo Smith (trumpet)
Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Clarence Holiday (banjo)
Rex Stewart (trumpet)
Fats Waller (piano)
Don Redman (clarinet, alto sax)
John Kirby (bass)

Charlie Johnson's Paradise Orchestra
1. Charleston Is The Best Dance, After All

Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
2. Come On, Baby
3. Easy Money

The Chocolate Dandies
4. Thats How I Feel Today
5. Six Or Seven Times

McKinney's Cotton Pickers
6. Gee, Ain't I Good To You
7. I'd Love It
8. Miss Hannah

Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
9. Chinatown, My Chinatown
10. Somebody Loves Me

McKinney's Cotton Pickers
11. Talk To Me
12. Rocky Road
13. Never Swat A Fly
14. After All You're All I'm After

Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
15. Keep A Song In Your Soul
16. What Good Am I Without You?

The Chocolate Dandies
17. Goodbye Blues
18. Cloudy Skies
19. Got Another Sweetie Now
20. Bugle Call Rag
21. Dee Blues

Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
22. My Pretty Girl
23. Sweet And Hot

Gil Evans - Plays The Music Of Jimi Hendrix

This CD ... is much more successful than one might have expected. Jimi Hendrix was scheduled to record with Gil Evans' Orchestra but died before the session could take place. A few years later, Evans explored ten of Hendrix's compositions with his unique 19-piece unit, an orchestra that included two French horns, the tuba of Howard Johnson, three guitars, two basses, two percussionists and such soloists as altoist David Sanborn, trumpeter Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson, Billy Harper on tenor, and guitarists Ryo Kawasaki and John Abercrombie. Evans' arrangements uplift many of Hendrix's more blues-oriented compositions and create a memorable set that is rock-oriented but retains the improvisation and personality of jazz. ~ Scott Yanow

Gil Evans will forever be remembered as the arranger for those classic Miles Davis orchestral albums, but Evans led his own orchestra from the '60s until his death in 1988. A true fusion of jazz's free-ranging leanings and Hendrix's psychedelic and blues jams, Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix is a masterstroke for Evans, who was actually supposed to do an album with Hendrix himself. Evans completely revamps classics like "Crosstown Traffic," "Voodoo Chile," and "Little Wing," twisting these tunes in a way that might even blow Hendrix's mind. Rather than turning the session into guitar wank fest, the horn-heavy group (which prominently features saxophonist David Sanborn) really comes up with something different. And although the early synthesizers and production aesthetic makes this sound dated, it should still appeal to a new generation of fans. People have rediscovered producer David Axelrod--Gil Evans is just as skilled at mixing jazz and rock, but he's even further out (as the crazed tuba solo on "Voodoo Chile" attests). ~ Tad Hendrickson

Gil Evans (piano, celeste)
Howard Johnson (tuba, clarinet, bass clarinet)
"Hannibal" Marvin Peterson (vocals, trumpet)
David Sanborn (soprano and alto sax, flute)
George Adams (tenor sax)
Billy Harper (tenor sax, flute)
Lew Soloff, Ernie Royal (trumpet, flugelhorn)
John Abercrombie (guitar)
Ryo Kawasaki (guitar)
Keith Loving (guitar)
Michael Moore (bass)
Tony Williams (drums)

1. Angel
2. Crosstown Traffic/Little Miss Lover
3. Castles Made Of Sand/Foxy Lady
4. Up From The Skies (take 1)
5. 1983-A Merman I Should Turn To Be
6. Voodoo Chile
7. Gypsy Eyes
8. Little Wing
9. Up From The Skies (take 2)

Coleman Hawkins - Bean & The Boys

Bean & The Boys is the perfect title for this compilation, for certainly the list of players heard on this disc reads like a virtual "who's who" in jazz.
Hawkins is teamed up with swing era players Jonah Jones (trumpet), and Walter "Foots" Thomas (tenor saxophone) on the first four tracks.
Tracks 5-8 are the earliest studio recordings of Thelonious Monk.
Tracks 9 - 13 highlight The Bean with the then young lions of bebop, J.J. Johnson (trombone), Fats Navarro (trumpet), Milt Jackson (vibes) and others.
The final batch of tunes comes from a post-bop period (where Hawk finally settled musically). Songs from this era (late '50s) tend to incorporate stylistic elements from both swing and bebop.

Hawkins himself never really became a bebop soloist per se, though he did sometimes "turn" a bop line quite successfully. All this, if nothing else, shows us the interconnection between the various genres of jazz. Mostly, all the styles heard here contain elements of the blues. As well, all styles herein contain highly syncopated rhythmical ideas, and similar song structures. Highlights include the bopish "Bean and the Boys," the bouncy "Out the Lunch," and the boogie woogie inflected "Roll 'em Pete".

Collective personnel: Coleman Hawkins (tenor saxophone on all tracks); Jerome Richardson (alto saxophone, flute); Eddie Barefield (alto saxophone, clarinet); Hilton Jefferson, Porter Kilbert (alto saxophone); Walter "Foots" Thomas (tenor saxophone); Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone); Jonah Jones, Fats Navarro, Idrees Sulieman (trumpet); J.J. Johnson (trombone); Milt Jackson (vibraphone); Clyde Hart, Thelonious Monk, Hank Jones, Ray Bryant (piano); Roy Gaines (guitar); Milt Hinton, Edward "Bass" Robinson, Curley Russell, Wendall Marshall (bass); Cozy Cole, Denzil Best, Max Roach, Walter Bolden (drums).

Blossom Dearie - Blossom's Planet (2000)

Earlier this year (February), one of my all-time favorite performers passed away. Blossom Dearie was a unique musician and vocalist, one of those artists who could sing one note and be instantly identified. This was her final album, released in 2000 and it is one of her best. BLOSSOM'S PLANET was to be “the first in a new series of CD’s” (according to the disc's liner notes). What a shame that this never happened. I will miss Blossom Dearie. Scoredaddy

Blossom Dearie made her first recording in Paris in 1955. For the next 45-plus years, she turned out a steady stream of albums which have delighted her very devoted followers and vocal jazz fans alike. If Johnny Desmond was the epitome of relaxation and quietness on the alto saxophone, his vocal counterpart has to be Dearie. Her voice is as recognizable as Ella Fitzgerald's, Billie Holiday's, Peggy Lee's, and other great jazz vocalists.

This album has a decidedly Brazilian jazz bent. There are songs by Grammy award-winner Brazilian composer Ivan Lins and Antonio Carlos Jobim. There are also Dearie originals, which she co-authored with the likes of Johnny Mandel, Michel Legrand, and Jack Segal. In short, an eclectic roster of appealing songs that characterize this singer's albums over the years and that all get that intimate caressing, clarity of expression, and intelligent delivery — all of which are uniquely Dearie's. On Jobim's "Wave," she rides on a crest of strings created electronically by Cesar Camarago Mariano. Her interpretation of one of Jobim's most popular tunes sets it apart from most others as she leaves some space between each line of the chorus, a device which creates anticipation for the next line. This tune also is a vehicle for her minimalist, melodic pianism. A truly class track. Good singers can make songs sound better than they really are and Dearie's ability to do that is highlighted by her rendition of Sting's "La Belle Dame Sans Regrets," which she does in French to a subtle Latin beat.

Blossom's Planet is a welcome addition to her large galaxy of superior vocal recordings and is highly recommended. Dave Nathan

Blossom Dearie (Piano, Vocals)
Jay Berliner (Guitar)
Ray Kilday (Bass)
César Camargo Mariano (Synthesizer Arranger)
Luis Peralta (Percussion, Drums)
Grady Tate (Vocals)

1 Bye-Bye Country Boy (Dearie, Segal) 5:37
2 Bluesette (Gilbert, Thielemans) 4:35
3 Lies of Handsome Men (Blumenthal) 2:47
4 The Ladies Who Lunch (Sondheim) 5:07
5 Love Dance (Lins, Williams) 5:04
6 I'm Not Alone (Jennings, Lins, Martins) 3:54
7 La Belle Dame Sans Regrets (Miller, Sting) 3:39
8 Go Away With Me (Dearie, Legrand, Segal) 3:05
9 Make Some Magic (Dearie, Lamont, Mandel) 2:51
10 Wave (Jobim) 7:14

Recorded at Nola Recording Studios, New York City in 2000

JAZZ SOUNDIES: The Duke, The Count, and more

Three short videos - not officially 'soundies' but just as good:

Duke Ellington & Louie Bellson - The Hawk Talks
Count Basie Sextet - I Cried for You
Sarah Vaughan - These Things I Offer You

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Shostakovich - Symphonies Nos. 1 and 5 (Karel Ancerl)

A distinguished Czech conductor, Karel Ancerl was born in 1908. Having studied conducting and composition at the Prague Conservatory, he was Hermann Scherchen's assistant conductor in a 1931 production of Alois Haba's opera The Mother. Ancerl later studied conducting with Scherchen and worked with Talich. In 1933, Ancerl started conducting for Prague Radio, also establishing himself as a stage conductor. When Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, Ancerl was dismissed from his job and interned in concentration camps. The only member of his family to survive concentration camps, Ancerl resumed his career in 1945, conducting the Prague Opera from 1945 to 1948. After directing the Czech Radio Orchestra from 1947 to 1950, Ancerl took over the Czech Philharmonic. During his time with the Czech Philharmonic, Ancerl's career flourished as he took his orchestra all over the world, receiving critical praise for his refined performances of the standard classical repertoire. In addition, he conducted many prominent European orchestras, also serving as guest conductor with the London Philharmonic in 1967. In 1968, when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, Ancerl left the country, eventually settling in Toronto. The following year, he became music director of the Toronto Symphony and his impact there was very significant: he expanded the orchestra's repertoire, performing works by important Czech composers, including Smetana, Martinu, and Suk. In addition, Ancerl's impressive recording legacy includes performances of music by Mozart, Brahms, Mahler, and Stravinsky. Ancerl died in 1973. ~ Zoran Minderovic, All Music Guide

Symphony No.1 in F minor Op.10
1. I. Allegretto - Allegro non troppo
2. II. Allegro
3. III. Lento
4. IV. Allegro molto

Symphony No.5 in D minor Op.47
5. I. Moderato - Allegro non troppo
6. II. Scherzo. Allegretto
7. III. Largo
8. IV. Allegro non troppo

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Karel Ancerl
Recorded 7-10 April 1964 (op.10), 11-14 Nov 1961 (op.47)

Clifford Jordan - These Are My Roots: Clifford Jordan Plays Leadbelly

" Clifford Jordan and Huddie Ledbetter aren't the most obvious bunkmates, but this '60s album of interpretations of classic blues songs works better than it has any right to. Recorded for Atlantic, it was very much a part of an ongoing rediscovery of American folklore, though it was mainly rock musicians who explored this strand of black American music. Jordan assembled a very fine band and got a big, brash sound from engineer Phil Lehle and producer Donald Elfman. Intriguingly, the saxophonist includes his own signature piece, 'Highest Mountain', in the middle of the set as if to indicate Leadbelly's influence on it. The connection isn't entirely clear, but each of the ten performances - which include 'Yelloe Gal', 'Silver City Bound', and the classic 'Goodnight Irene' - is beautifully handled and, though almost all the tracks are very short, nothing longer than four and a half minutes, the solos are compressed and effective. Of the supporting cast, Priester is excellent and fans of the trombonist will welcome a chance to hear this little-known selection. Bassist Richard Davis, another schoolmate of Jordan's, simplifies his playing markedly for the occasion and doesn't seem hampered by the idiom. We've heard little of singer Sandra Douglass, but she makes a very decent shift of 'Black Girl' and 'Take This Hammer." ~ Penguin Guide

At first glance, this appears to be a very illogical album. Back in 1965, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan recorded a tribute to the late folk singer Leadbelly. The date, originally cut for Atlantic and reissued by Koch in 1999, is actually more successful than one might expect. Jordan performs nine of Leadbelly's originals (including the hit "Goodnight Irene"), turning the music into jazz without lessening the impact of the melodies or their folk roots. Trumpeter Roy Burrowes, trombonist Julian Priester, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath are on most of the selections along with Jordan, while Chuck Wayne (on guitar and banjo) helps out on four tunes, and pianist Cedar Walton is on three. The fine young singer Sandra Douglass is excellent on "Take This Hammer" and "Black Girl," making one wonder whatever happened to her. Overall, this project is an unexpected success -- one would not have thought that Clifford Jordan and Leadbelly had that much in common! ~ Scott Yanow

Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
Cedar Walton (piano)
Julian Priester (trombone)
Chuck Wayne (banjo, guitar)
Roy Burrowes (trumpet)
Richard Davis (bass)
Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)
Sandra Douglass (vocal)

1. Dick's Holler
2. Silver City Bound
3. Take This Hammer
4. Black Betty
5. Highest Mountain
6. Goodnight Irene
7. De Gray Goose
8. Black Girl
9. Jolly O' The Ransom
10. Yellow Gal

Leadbelly - Leadbelly's Last Sessions

Legend has it that when Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter was shown one of the first commercially available tape recorders--as opposed to the then-standard disc-cutting machines--in the fall of 1948, he immediately sat down in front of it for a marathon impromptu recording session. This fact comes across on the first of these discs taken from those tapes: most of its 35 tracks are traditional blues hollers without even his trademark 12-string guitar for accompaniment.

The other three discs are jam-packed with songs, fragments, and often fascinating conversations. Rather than edit the material--which the listener can do quite nicely with a programmable CD player and blank cassettes--the archivists at Smithsonian/Folkways wisely chose to release these four hours of material exactly as it was recorded. As a result, the sound quality is occasionally a bit dodgy, but the historical import and musical quality of these recordings are undeniable.

Leadbelly's Last Sessions is a remarkable document. Recorded over the course of three nights in 1948, approximately one year before his death, Sessions constitutes the only commercial recordings of Leadbelly ever made on magnetic tape. The sound here is still primitive by most standards, but it's a vast improvement over the quality of his earlier sides. On this four-disc collection, Huddie Ledbetter sets down as much of his repertoire as he could, from field hollers, blues, and country & western songs to children's tunes, ballads, autobiographical pieces, and popular hits of the day. The tape continues to roll between takes, catching Leadbelly's shifts of moods and changes of interest. He didn't know these would be his last recordings, of course, but he seems to have saved something special for these performances, which are as freewheeling, charming, and authoritative as anything he ever recorded. ~ Daniel Durchholz

Four CDs containing the best part of Leadbelly's only recordings on magnetic recording tape, which allowed him to stretch his songs to their usual length for the first time on record. The clarity of the recording, the presence of the between-song comments, and the selection of material makes this a seminal part of any serious collection. ~ Bruce Eder

Art Blakey - Soul Finger

As rock and roll began it's ascendancy over the ears and pockets of the populace, this was essentially the only recording Blakey's unit produced in 1965. That came out rude, but you know what I mean. Grow up.

After six years of very consistent personnel (with only a few gradual changes), Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1965 were in a state of transition. This particular LP found both Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard making farewell appearances on trumpet, pianist John Hicks and bassist Victor Sproles joining up as short-term members and veteran Lucky Thompson being well featured on both tenor and soprano sax. The music is more relaxed than usual but still contains some of that distinctive Jazz Messengers fire. This rare set is worth searching for. ~ Scott Yanow

Soul Finger, released on Limelight in 1965 marks Lee Morgan's and Freddie Hubbard's final studio appearances as members of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Morgan had been an on-again-off-again member since the 1950s, but his tenure with Blakey through the early 1960s remained fairly constant. The set also includes a young John Hicks on piano, bassist Victor Sproles, and veteran saxophonist Lucky Thompson. While this set may lack the sheer high-energy crackle of some of the Jazz Messengers Blue Note dates, there is quite a bit to enjoy here. The title tracks kicks the joint off in bluesy style with the three-horn front line in a slightly dissonant intro before moving in a fingerpopping groover with some killer wood by Sproles used as fills between lines. The spunky Latin groove of "Buh's Bossa" offers Blakey's consummate chops accenting the knotty, sometimes snaky melody line with some excellent comp work by Hicks. Thompson's underrated soprano work makes a beautiful appearance on "Spot Session," a sultry little groover. The real highlight of the set is "Freedom Monday," that offers taut hard bop lyric lines, extended harmonies in the front line -- especially between Hubbard and Morgan -- and a smoking Afro-Cuban rhythmic line highlighted by Blakey and Hicks. The program here showcases the sounds of a band in transition to be sure, but also the sound of a group with nothing to lose; in other words, plenty of chances get taken that might not otherwise fly. Reissued on CD by Verve in 2009 as part of its Originals series, this date is well worth seeking out for fans of Blakey's long running, ever evolving unit. ~ Thom Jurek

Art Blakey (drums)
Lucky Thompson (soprano and tenor sax)
Lee Morgan (trumpet)
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)
John Hicks (piano)
Victor Sproles (bass)

1. Soul Finger
2. Buh's Bossa
3. Spot Session
4. Freedom Monday
5. A Quiet Thing [From Flora the Red Menace]
6. The Hub

New York: May 12-13, 1965

Wynton Kelly - Last Trio Session

Scotty, Scotty, Scotty, what are we to do with you? Kelly started with Miles in '59, not '58 - but that's not important. "Unsuitable pop songs"...I think that's often how musicians get to eat. Legacies are fine but feeding the kids is nice too. And I don't know, Scotty, whether this is essential or not; can't you throw a brother a bone?

The trio led by pianist Wynton Kelly, which also included bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, first functioned as the rhythm section of Miles Davis' Quintet in 1958. In 1963, they left Davis' band and spent time as Wes Montgomery's backup group; the unit stayed together until Chambers' death on Jan. 4, 1969, a run of over ten years (Kelly would pass away two years later). Their final studio session, released for the first time domestically by Delmark in 1988, is partly hindered by the inclusion of some unsuitable pop songs (including "Say a Little Prayer for Me," "Watch What Happens," "Light My Fire" and "Yesterday"), but typically, the musicians do their best to swing the tunes. Best tunes on the historic set are "Kelly's Blues" and "Castilian Waltz"... ~ Scott Yanow

Wynton Kelly (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)

1. When Love Slips Away
2. Castilian Waltz (take 12)
3. Say A Little Prayer For Me
4. Kelly's Blues
5. Watch What Happens
6. House Of Cards
7. Light My Fire
8. Castilian Waltz (take 1)
9. Yesterday

BN LP 5002 | Thelonious Monk - Genius Of Modern Music

Idrees Sulieman (tp) Danny Quebec West (as) Billy Smith (ts) Thelonious Monk (p) Gene Ramey (b) Art Blakey (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, October 15, 1947

Ruby, My Dear
Well, You Needn't
Off Minor
Thelonious Monk (p) Gene Ramey (b) Art Blakey (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, October 24, 1947

'Round About Midnight
George Taitt (tp) Sahib Shihab (as) Thelonious Monk (p) Bob Paige (b) Art Blakey (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, November 21, 1947

I Mean You
Milt Jackson (vib) Thelonious Monk (p) John Simmons (b) Shadow Wilson (d)
Apex Studios, NYC, July 2, 1948

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

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ignasi Terraza - 1999 Jazz A Les Fosques

Jazz in the dark. The public come in and take their seats. Almost imperceptibly the light fades until a rather strange sensation grips the audience. Finally they find themselves shrouded in total darkness.
Everything familiar vanishes: glasses clinking, the buzz of conversation,people coming and going... and a new unknown and unexplored world is created. The music begins.
There have been no introductions. Neither the musicians' faces nor their instruments can be seen, nor the way they are dressed. The stage no longer exists. The public as such are not really there either. All that remains is each individual, at the most.... and the music. It is only at this moment that some rays of light appear in the souls of those present, or should we say those absent. Each one with their very own light, or perhaps sharing it with everybody.
Applause? A long silence between each number. Jazz has different moments, tells us different stories. Music can be magic, can transport the absent ones through time and space. It can also transform them into dreamers, if only for a few moments. But sometimes the emotion lasts indefinitely, even managing to change some small thing inside us. It is on those occasions when past, present and future intertwine and we can see our life as a tiny but precious moment in time floating in the universe.
The show comes to an end. The lights come on again. The absent ones, now present, stand up. They awake from a dream which they try to preserve in their memory at all cost. There is a strange feeling in the air. Finally they get up and go.
Liner notes

01 Candy
02 September Song
03 Love For Sale
04 I Remember Clifford
05 Secret Love
06 Can't We Be Friends?
07 When I Fall In Love
08 Our Love Is Here To Stay
09 On Green Dolphin St.
10 Chega De Saudade
11 Just You, Just Me

Ignasi Terraza (p)
Manuel Alvarez (b)
Oriol Bordas (ds)

Recorded live at Cafè-Teatre del Teatreneu, Barcelona, on October 29 & 31, 1999

Nic Jones - Penguin Eggs

The magnum opus from this near-legendary folksinger, Penguin Eggs stands in a virtual class by itself -- a folk record built on playing of such virtuosity that anyone who enjoys guitar, of any type or style, should hear it; a body of traditional songs played with an immediacy and urgency that transcends any dry notions of scholarship; and a record that stands astride the opposing virtues of youth and antiquity, in its execution and source, respectively. Penguin Eggs is one of those rare records were not just every song, but each instrumental part is worth hearing. Jones' singing, some of the most expressive to emerge from the English folk revival, has a richness reminiscent of a young Martin Carthy but also elements of the honest roughness in the work of A.L. Lloyd and Paul Clayton. The vocals are attractive enough to make this record a keeper, but what makes this album truly special, and alluring to modern listeners, even 20 years after its release, is the playing -- Jones' acoustic guitar work is so lyrical, elegant, and sinewy on Penguin Eggs, and gets such spirited (yet economical) support from Tony Hall and Bridget Danby, on melodeon and recorder, respectively, that it would be worth hearing just as an instrumental album, and could show a hardcore traditionalists a thing or two about virtuoso showmanship as well. Moreover, the harmony singing, provided by Danby and Dave Burland, gives this record some of the same appeal that one came to expect from groups such as early Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, though the use of purely acoustic instruments puts Penguin Eggs in a category completely separate from them. ~ Bruce Eder

Until a crippling accident in the '80s, Jones was an integral part of the second British folk revival that included artists like the Oyster Band and Pete Morton. Penguin Eggs, his only domestically available recording, shows Jones to be a staunch traditionalist, but he comes off as anything but stodgy. Rather, he plumbs the emotional depths of traditional folk songs like "The Drowned Lovers" and "Courting is a Pleasure" for all they're worth. His steady, forceful guitar worked--slightly indebted to Martin Carthy--and his earnest but humble vocal style invest these timeless tunes with just the right touch of modern personality. Though he was never less than faithful to the original spirit of these songs, it's easy to see why he was viewed as a breath of fresh air in the British folk world.

Nic Jones (fiddle, guitar)
Dave Burland (vocals)
Bridget Danby (recorder, vocals)
Tony Hall (melodeon)

1. Canadee-I-O
2. The Drowned Lovers
3. The Humpback Whale
4. The Little Pot Stove
5. Courting Is A Pleasure
6. Barrack Street
7. Planxty Davis
8. The Flandyke Shore
9. Farewell To The Gold

Pete Johnson - Pete's Blues (House Rent Party)

I think he's blue because he has las manos del Orlac.

This very enjoyable Pete Johnson disc finds the great boogie-woogie pianist in the company of some of the very best swing-era soloists. Something of an informal concept album, the first of the two 1946 sessions here works as a Johnson housewarming party cum jam session, with soloists being added for each successive number. Before the guests show up, though, Johnson demonstrates his fine solo keyboard touch on the slow boogie number "Pete's Lonesome Blues." After cuts marking the arrival of drummer J.C. Heard and later a bassist and guitarist, the session begins to really blossom as front-line soloists individually come aboard over the course of four tracks: clarinetist Albert Nicholas, trumpeter Hot Lips Page, tenor great Ben Webster, and trombonist J.C. Higginbotham all turn in choice solos over some medium-tempo blues. The jam session finally comes to a close with the full-band swinger "Pete's Housewarming." Rounding the record out are four more informal numbers featuring Johnson, Page again on trumpet, trombonist Clyde Bernhardt, and tenor saxophonist Budd Johnson. Joining the band for two cuts is a very young Etta Jones on vocals. A tightly swinging set with an after-hours feel, Pete's Blues spotlights the innovative pianist in one of the era's more underrated trad recordings. ~ Stephen Cook

Pete Johnson (piano)
Ben Webster (tenor sax)
Hot Lips Page (trumpet)
J.C. Higginbotham (trombone)
Albert Nicholas (clarinet)
Jimmy Shirley (guitar)
Al Hall (bass)
J.C. Heard (drums)

Pete Johnson (piano)
Budd Johnson (tenor sax)
Hot Lips Page (trumpet)
Clyde Bernhardt (trombone)
Don Stovall (alto sax)
Jimmy Shirley (guitar)
Abe Bolar (bass)
Jack Parker (drums)
Etta Jones (vocal)

1. Pete's Lonesome Blues
2. Mr. Dram Meets Mr. Piano
3. Mutiny In The Doghouse
4. Mr. Clarinet Knocks Twice
5. Ben Rides Out
6. Page Mr. Trumpet
7. J.C. From K.C.
8. Pete's Housewarming Blues
9. Atomic Boogie
10. Back Room Blues
11. 1280 Stomp
12. I May Be Wonderful (But I Think You're Wrong)
13. Man Wanted

Junior Kimbrough - Sad Days, Lonely Nights

As a lifelong blues fan - before jazz, before rock, before any of that - I hold Junior Kimbrough in high respect. He's shamanistic. This motherfucker is the real thing.

If All Night Long was a great electric blues portrait, this sophomore release, given more widespread distribution via Fat Possum's deal with Capricorn, is an extension of the portrait, but with a lot more grit and grind thrown in, given a darker, deeper sound by a change in location (still Kimbrough's joint, but a different building). The vocals are further back, buried in the thick, heavy electric mix -- some of this music here is Southern electric blues sounding about the way it might when the apocalypse is just around the corner. Forget the fancy stuff, the polished edges, the studio touches -- there are no second takes, no overdubs, no last chances. It's terrifyingly compelling at times. Junior Kimbrough plays the blues with a raw edge, and it's brilliant, dark and mesmerizing -- and it's on CD, with nothing buried, nothing hidden, and nothing safe, all the sharp edges intact. ~ Steven McDonald

David "Junior" Kimbrough (vocals, guitar)

1. Sad Days Lonely Nights
2. Lonesome In My Home
3. Lord, Have Mercy On Me
4. Crawling King Snake
5. My Mind Is Rambling
6. Leaving In The Morning
7. Old Black Mattie
8. I'm In Love
9. Pull Your Clothes Off
10. I'm Gonna Have To Leave Here
11. Sad Days Lonely Nights

Bill Evans - Live In Buenos Aires

This two-CD set features the final edition of the Bill Evans Trio with Marc Johnson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums in a complete concert that originally appeared as a two-LP set on the Yellow Note label. In spite of occasional surface noise resulting from using the earlier records as this set's source material, the music catches the trio during one of its many peaks from their last year of touring together. A rather reserved rendition of "Stella By Starlight" kicks things off, which is a bit of surprise because Evans seemed to prefer his moody "Re: Person I Knew" as an opener during this period. An excellent version of "Turn Out the Stars," one of Evans' most beloved compositions, is also a first-set highlight. As the second CD gets underway the groove noise proves somewhat distracting during the otherwise quiet beauty of "I Loves You Porgy." A romp through "Someday My Prince Will Come" is followed by the almost obligatory closer "Nardis," in its typically abstract form, with long solos by each of the musicians. Well worth acquiring. ~ Ken Dryden

Bill Evans Trio (piano)
Marc Johnson (bass)
Joe LaBarbera (drums)

CD 1
1. Stella By Starlight
2. Laurie
3. Theme From M.A.S.H.
4. Turn Out The Stars
5. I Do It For Your Love
6. My Romance
7. Letter To Evan

CD 2
1. I Loves You Porgy
2. Up With The Lark
3. Minha
4. Someday My Prince Will Come
5. If You Could See Me Now
6. Nardis

Friday, May 8, 2009

Don Byron - Nu Blaxploitation

The question was asked recently about why the recent Don Byron posts. The answer is simple; I got 6 or 7 of his CDs from E-Bay for $2 each. This is the "Clean version for radio airplay & in-store airplay", so you don't have to stuff the cat's ears with cotton. Unless you want to.

Jazz clarinetist Don Byron likes to focus on specific musical styles. He's released albums filled with Latin jazz (Six Musicians), the klezmer music of Mickey Katz (Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz), and the repertory works of Duke Ellington, John Kirby, and Raymond Scott (Bug Music). Now for his sixth solo release, Nu Blaxploitation, Byron offers up a musical evocation of '70s funk, including a nod to hip-hop by way of a Biz Markie guest spot. The poet Sadiq is prominently featured, recalling his fine performance on Byron's debut, Tuskeegee Experiments, with ruminations on Princess Diana's vilified boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed ("Dodi") and Haitian immigrant Abner Louima's brutal interrogation by N.Y.C. police ("Blinky"), among other topics. Byron mirrors Sadiq's wide-ranging commentary via some somber, chamber jazz arrangements and a bevy of funky, swinging charts, bolstering the overall mix with fine renditions of songs by '70s Latin-funk group Mandrill ("Mango Meat," "Fencewalk," "Hagalo"). Other highlights include the humorous and intelligent discussions of black life heard on "Domino Theories, Parts 1 & 2" and an inventive cover of Hendrix's "If 6 Was 9." The disc is topped off with stellar performances by both Byron and Existential Dred band members pianist/organist Uri Caine, drummer Ben Wittman, and bassist Reggie Washington. Highly recommended. ~ Stephen Cook

Within the world of jazz experimentalists, clarinetist Don Byron stands apart as someone willing to wander down various cultural alleys to get his artistic kicks. Nearly every one of Byron's albums has been built around a distinctive musical tradition--whether klezmer, hot jazz, Afro-Latin swing, or traditional post-bop jazz forms--to the point where he has seemingly become a one-man cultural studies program. As can be deduced from the title of his Blue Note debut, Byron's current focus is black urban culture, all its tributaries and relations.

Don Byron (baritone sax, clarinet, percussion)
Uri Caine (piano, organ, Clavinet, background vocals)
David Gilmore (guitar)
Dean Bowman (vocals)
Biz Markie (rap vocals)
Sadiq (spoken vocals)
James Zollar (trumpet)
Curtis Fowlkes (trombone, background vocals)

1. Alien
2. Domino Theories, Pt. 1
3. Morning 98 (Blinky)
4. Mango Meat
5. Interview
6. Schizo Jam
7. Morning 97 (Dodi)
8. Dung Heap Dialectic: I'm Stuck
9. I Cannot Commit
10. Morning 63 (Fencewalk)
11. Hágalo
12. Domino Theories, Pt. 2
13. If 6 Was 9
14. Morning 105 (Furman)

Art Ensemble Of Chicago - Reese And The Smooth Ones

Recorded when the Art Ensemble of Chicago was in Paris and between drummers (Don Moye would not join up until 1970), this English imported LP has a continuous piece featuring trumpeter Lester Bowie, reed players Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman and bassist Malachi Favors all playing plenty of "little instruments" (which include various horns, gongs, logs, bells, sirens, whistles, steel drums, marimba, and banjo, among others) in addition to their mainstays. The episodic music continually holds one's interest, and overall, it makes a unified (if unpredictable) statement. ~ Scott Yanow

Fans of the Art Ensemble should not sleep on this. The 41-minute continuous piece "Reese" and "The Smooth Ones" (can't tell where one stops and the other begins) manages the difficult combination of offhand and precise that eluded the Art Ensemble more than half the time on record. The sound is plenty vibrant on the CD version and Malachi Favors plays enough small percussion that drums are not really missed. The saxes of Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman are in particularly fine full cry, never suggesting that the pauses are to cover for lack of new direction to play. Don't let this vanish into the void again.

Lester Bowie (trumpet, bass drum, flugelhorn)
Joseph Jarman (clarinet, alto andsoprano sax, oboe, marimba, flutes)
Roscoe Mitchell (clarinet, alto, soprano and bass sax)
Malachi Favors (banjo, percussion, bass)

1. Face 1: Reese/The Smooth Ones, Pt. 1
2. Face 2: Reese/The Smooth Ones, Pt. 2

Don Redman - Doin' What I Please Original recordings: 1925-1938

I've only seen one other Redman item in the back pages of CIA

Please check the link in comments for the Betty Boop cartoon "I'm Thinkin'" Featuring footage of the Redman Orchestra. The cartoon (very hallucinogenic) features three Redman numbers.

He was the arranger for Fletcher Henderson before Benny Carter (Henderson did very little arranging until the early 30's). He was the Main arranger for the McKinney's Cotton Pickers, Ten Chocolate Dandies and Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and he's hardly known today.

by Heather Phares
Doin' What I Please is another of Living Era's faithful, comprehensive collections of jazz from the '30s and '40s. This compilation focuses on the work of pioneering African-American jazz artists like Fletch Henderson, the Chocolate Dandies, Don Redman, and Louis Armstrong. Tracks such as Fletch Henderson's "Whiteman Stomp" and "Hot Mustard," Armstrong's "Beau Koo Jack," and Don Redman's "Shakin' the African" are among the highlights of this energetic, expressive collection of swing and classic jazz.

Sugar Foot Stomp/The Henderson Stomp/Hot Mustard/Whiteman Stomp/Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You/Miss Hannah/Rocky Road/Cherry/Paducah/That's How I Feel Today/Beau Koo Jack/Save It Pretty Mama/Shakin' The African/Chant Of The Weed/How'm I Doin' (Hey-Hey)/Hot and Anxious/I Got Rhythm/Doin' What I Please/Nagasaki/Sophisticated Lady/Got The Jitters/Bugle Call Rag/Swingin' With The Fat Man/Sweet Sue-Just You/Sweet Leilani

Roy Hargrove - Diamond in the Rough (1989)

Trumpeter Roy Hargrove's debut as a leader found him occasionally recalling Freddie Hubbard but already sounding fairly original in the hard bop genre. On a quartet version of "Easy To Remember," Hargrove shows restraint and maturity in his lyrical ballad statement while featuring his strong bop chops on most of the other selections. Among the many other up-and-coming voices heard on this 1989 set are pianist Geoffrey Keezer (who contributes three originals and shows what he had picked up from McCoy Tyner), the fluid altoist Antonio Hart and drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr. Tenor-saxophonist Ralph Moore, pianist John Hicks and drummer Al Foster are also in the notable supporting cast. The one fault to the CD is that the performances and solos are often a little too brief, with all but "Whisper Not" in the 4-6 minute range. But for a debut, Roy Hargrove can still be proud of Diamond In The Rough. - Scott Yanow

Roy Hargrove (trumpet)
Antonio Hart (alto sax)
Ralph Moore (tenor sax)
Geoffrey Keezer, John Hicks (piano)
Charles Fambrough, Scott Colley (bass)
Ralph Peterson, Jr., Al Foster (drums)
  1. Proclamation
  2. Ruby My Dear
  3. A New Joy
  4. Confidentiality
  5. Broski
  6. Whisper Not
  7. All Over Again
  8. Easy to Remember
  9. Premonition
  10. BHG
  11. Wee
Recorded December 1989

Joe Pass and Jimmy Rowles ~ Checkmate

by Scott Yanow
For this LP, guitarist Joe Pass (who recorded many dates for Pablo during the era) had an opportunity to play a quiet set of duets with pianist Jimmy Rowles. The two musicians had not played together since the 1960s, so their collaborations during the one day of recording were quite spontaneous and fresh. Rowles sets the quiet mood, and Pass keeps his amplifier quite low and was content to play on the pianist's turf. The emphasis is on slower tempos and harmonically sophisticated chords. Together they explore such songs as "What's Your Story Morning Glory," "As Long as I Live," "Stardust" and "T'is Autumn." Superior background music that rewards close listening.
Rec. Spectrum Studios, Venice Ca: Jan 12, 1981
What's Your Story, Morning Glory/So Rare/As Long As I Live/Marouita/Stardust/We'll Be Together Again/Can't We Be Friends/'Deed I Do/'Tis Autumn/God Bless The Child

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Art Farmer - Blame It On My Youth

" Blame It On My Youth , though, is a discreet masterpiece. Art's reading of the title-track is one of his very finest ballad interpretations , even by his standards. Jordan plays with outstanding subtlety and guarded power throughout and has a memorable feature of his own on 'I'll Be Around', and Williams leads the rhythm section with consummate craft and decisiveness. But it's Lewis who, ... shows amazing versatility and who really makes the music fall together, finding an extra ounce of power and crispness in every rhythm he has to mark out." ~ Penguin Guide, (4 stars (out of four) and a crown.)

This is one of the better Art Farmer recordings of the 1980s, which is saying a great deal, for the flugelhornist is among the most consistent of all jazz musicians. The two ballads that open and close this set ("Blame It on My Youth" and "I'll Be Around") give Farmer an opportunity to display his warm and attractive sound (with fine support from pianist James Williams, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Victor Lewis), while the other five pieces (Benny Carter's "Summer Serenade" and more obscure material) add the great tenor saxophonist (and so-so soprano player) Clifford Jordan to the group. It's an enjoyable and very successful outing. ~ Scott Yanow

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Clifford Jordan (tenor and soprano sax)
James Williams (piano)
Rufus Reid (bass)
Victor Lewis (drums)

1. Blame It On My Youth
2. Fairytale Countryside
3. The Smile Of The Snake
4. Third Avenue
5. Summer Serenade
6. Progress Report
7. I'll Be Around

Charles Mingus - The Complete Town Hall Concert

Until recently, this concert was considered a low point in Charles Mingus' career. He had convinced the record company to let him record with a 30-piece band but hadn't completed the necessary amount of writing, and the concert had been inexplicably billed as an open recording session with an invited audience, as opposed to a performance recorded for posterity. Add to this sound problems on stage and the unveiling of some of Mingus' most ambitious work and you've got an unusual evening of music to say the least. But this reissue, which contains previously unreleased alternate takes and remastered material shows that the evening was far more successful than previously conceived.

THE COMPLETE TOWN HALL CONCERT is most noteworthy for the partial performance of Mingus' suite "Epitaph", whose completed score was discovered after Mingus' death and which was finally performed in its entirety at Alice Tully Hall in 1989. Many consider "Epitaph" to be Mingus' finest composition. Listening to its germination, as well as the other music on this date, is a rich and rewarding experience.
Recorded at Town Hall, New York, New York on October 12, 1963.
This is the complete concert released in its entirety for the first time. Originally released in an edited form on United Artists Records in 1963.

Personnel: Charles Mingus (bass); Eric Dolphy, Charles McPherson, Charlie Mariano, Buddy Collette (alto saxophone); Zoot Sims, George Berg (tenor saxophone); Jerome Richardson, Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone); Snooky Young, Ernie Royal, Richard Williams, Clark Terry, Eddie Armour, Lonnie Hilyer, Rolf Ericson (trumpet); Quentin Jackson, Britt Woodman, Jimmy Cleveland, Willie Dennis, Eddie Bert, Paul Faulise (trombone); Romeo Penque (oboe); Danny Bank (contrabass clarinet); Warren Smith (vibraphone, percussion); Jaki Byard, Toshiko Akiyoshi (piano); Les Spann (guitar); Milt Hinton (bass); Dannie Richmond (drums); Grady Tate (percussion).


1 Freedom-Part One
2 Freedom-Part Two (Clark In The Dark)
3 Osmotin'
4 Epitaph-Part One
5 Peggy's Blue Skylight
6 Epitaph-Part Two
7 My Search
8 Portrait
9 Duke's Choice (Don't Come Back)
10 Please Don't Come Back From The Moon
11 In A Mellotone (Finale)

Curtis Counce Quintet ~ Exploring The Future

I don't think this one came up, but I could be wrong...

by Ken Dryden
Although he lived for another five years after this session, this seems to be bassist Curtis Counce's last date as a leader. His quintet was in fine form playing originals by band member Elmo Hope and tenor saxophonist Harold Land, also playing standards like "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Angel Eyes" with convincing chops. Swedish trumpeter Rolf Ericson, who became better known to jazz fans while with Duke Ellington in the '60s, fits in beautifully with the cool-sounding hard bop style of this tight unit. Originally released on the long-defunct Dootone label, this highly sought-after record was finally reissued as a CD on the English label Boplicity in 1996.
released april 1, 1958 for Dootone in Los Angeles
Curtis Counce: Bass
Harold Land: Tenor
Frank Butler: Drums
Elmo Hope: Piano
Rolf Ericson: trumpet
So Nice/Angel Eyes/Into The Orbit/Move/Race For Space/Someone To Watch Over Me/Exploring The Future/The Countdown/Foreplay/Move (unedited)/The Countdown (unedited)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Introducing Roger Neumann's Rather Large Band (1983) [LP > FLAC]

This L.A. based big band released only two albums, this one in 1983 and the other in 1993. There once was a CD reissue but is now oop and going for way too much money. This very clean LP rip is from the audiophile pressing and (at least for me) negates needing to have the CD.

One of the most underrated arrangers around, Roger Neumann had a rare opportunity to record his big band in 1983; surprisingly, the orchestra's second instrumental date would not take place for another decade. Neumann, who is featured on tenor during "Emily," heads a 19-piece big band on this highly recommended album that includes among its personnel the then-unknown altoist Eric Marienthal, trombonists Herbie Harper and Bob Enevoldsen, pianist Tom Ranier, and the tenors of Herman Riley and Bob Hardaway. Neumann's ensemble performs three jazz standards, a romping "Flintstones," and a three-part suite dedicated to Blue Mitchell ("They Called Him 'Blue'") that has solos from each of the five trumpeters. Each of the swinging performances is memorable in its own way, and this album is well-worth searching for. - Scott Yanow

Roger Neumann (tenor sax, arranger)
Gary Grant, Rick Baptist, Jack Coan, Larry Lunetta, Jack Trott (trumpet)
Alan Kaplan, Bob Enevoldsen, Herbie Harper, Morris Repass (trombone)
Dave Edwards, Eric Marienthal, Herman Riley, Bob Hardaway, Lee Callet (reeds)
Tom Ranier (piano)
John Heard (bass)
John Perett (drums)
Terry Schonig (percussion)
  1. Flintstones
  2. All the Things You Are
  3. Cherokee
  4. Emily
  5. They Called Him "Blue"

Chopin - Nocturnes, Preludes (Samson Francois)

Samson Pascal Francois (May 18, 1924 - October 22, 1970) was a French pianist.
He was born in Frankfurt where his father worked at the French consulate. His mother, Rose, named him Samson, for strength, and Pascal, for spirit. Francois discovered the piano early – at the age of two – and his first studies were in Italy, with Mascagni, who encouraged him to give his first concert at the age of six. Moving from country to country with his itinerant family, he studied in Belgrade with Cyril Licar, obtaining a first prize in performance. Licar also introduced him to the works of Bartok.

Having studied in the Conservatoire in Nice from 1932 to 1935, where he again won first prize, Francois came to the attention of Alfred Cortot, who encouraged him to move to Paris and study with Yvonne Lefebure at the l'Ecole Normale de Musique. He also studied piano with Cortot (who reportedly found him almost impossible to teach), and harmony with Nadia Boulanger. In 1938, he moved to the Paris Conservatoire to study with Marguerite Long, the doyenne of French teachers of the age.

He was particularly admired for his performances of Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, and Ravel. Many of these interpretations are now available on compact disc. Francois was a keen jazz fan, and claimed that jazz influenced his playing. He composed, among other works, a concerto for piano and incidental music for film.

He married Josette Bahvsar, and their son Maximilien was born in 1955. Maximilien published a biography of his father in 2002.

Samson Francois' extravagant lifestyle, good looks, and passionate but highly disciplined playing, gave him a cult status as a pianist. Though, his passion for night life and his reckless behavior (characterized by lavish drinking and drug use) resulted in a heart attack on the concert platform in 1968. His early death followed only two years later.

Critic John Bell Young, in the St Petersburg Times of Florida, called Francois (on May 5, 2002) "a charismatic figure, an iconoclast and musical maverick", who, along with Long and Cortot, was "the most important pianist in postwar France. There was something of the swashbuckler about him; his playing was as daring as it was rhapsodic, but also notable for its uncompromising integrity and extraordinary intelligence."

Francois himself said never play simply to play well. And, in a remark that was clearly inspired by his jazz influences, It must be that there is never the impression of being obliged to play the next note.

Ignasi Terraza Trio - 2003 IT's Coming

More piano, but this time a nearly unknown Spanish player. Ignasi Terraza has some similarities with Tete Montoliu, both are pianist, blind and catalan (although, I don't know if Ignasi is so big supporter of Barcelona F.C. as Tete was!). He has his own group, has recorded a dozen of records (in a few days I will post the excellent Jazz A Les Fosques), plays regularly in Spain and in Europe, and use to accompany american jazzmen touring in Spain (last year, I saw him with Lou Donaldson).

A press release that was sent out with a promotional mailing of It's Coming stated that the death of pianist Tete Montoliu in 1997 left a major void in the Spanish jazz scene and that Ignasi Terraza is the man to fill the void. But such hype is silly because truth be told, no one can fill Montoliu's shoes — he was truly irreplaceable. Implying that Terraza is the new Tete Montoliu is sort of like saying that Phil Woods replaced Charlie Parker; no one — not even a saxophonist as undeniably superb as Woods — filled Bird's shoes. But while Terraza shouldn't be considered a "replacement" for Montoliu, there are some parallels between them. Montoliu was a blind, bop-oriented acoustic pianist from Barcelona, Spain; so is Terraza, whose It's Coming underscores the fact that he is a talented, appealing improviser in his own right. Terraza's swinging yet lyrical approach owes a lot to Red Garland, and other noteworthy influences (direct or indirect) including Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan and Oscar Peterson (whose inspiration he acknowledges on "Oscar's Will"). Forming a trio with bassist Pierre Boussaguet and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, Terraza is in good form on four originals compositions as well as interpretations of overdone standards like "Yesterdays," "My Ideal" and Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss." Thankfully, Terraza isn't one of those straight-ahead jazzmen who favors an all-warhorses-all-the-time policy. Terraza surprises us with an unlikely bop arrangement of the traditional folk song "Rosor," and the four original tunes let us know that he has a lot going for him as a composer. This 2003 session won't go down in history as the most groundbreaking or innovative jazz release of the 2000s, but it's a solid, if derivative, effort that paints a likable picture of the Spanish pianist.
Alex Henderson

01 Give Me Another (Terraza) 3:55
02 I'm Getting Sentimental Over You (Bassman, Washington) 7:07
03 Van Gogh (Terraza) 5:37
04 Prelude to a Kiss (Ellington, Gordon, Mills) 6:15
05 Oscar's Will (Terraza) 3:54
06 Because of You (Hammerstein, Wilkins) 4:11
07 Yesterdays (Harbach, Kern) 7:35
08 My Ideal (Chase, Robin, Whiting) 4:37
09 Brown's Sweets (Boussaguet) 6:19
10 Rosor (Traditional) 3:16
11 It's Coming (Terraza) 4:50

Pierre Boussaguet Bass
Gregory Hutchinson Drums
Ignasi Terraza Piano

Recorded at B+B Estudio de Sonido, Barcelona, on April 5 & 6, 2003

Thelonious Monk - 1954 Piano Solo

This record is included in "The Complete Black Lion and Vogue Recordings" set, so if you have the set you don't need to download this one, unless you want art covers (included in Part 2).

The nine sides cut for the Parisian Vogue label are supposedly Monk’s very first solo studio recordings. Each of these pieces aptly capture the angular frolic that defines a Thelonious Monk performance. “Reflections” alternately bops with off-kilter rhythms and genuflects to Monk’s recurring fascination with the stride piano styling of James P. Johnson and Willie “The Lion” Smith. Of all the solo sides that Monk cut during the nearly 30 years he was actively recording, these stand among the zenith of his achievements. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” — the one cover tune done at this session — is likewise given a unique and exceedingly Monk reading.

"If, at the beginning, Monk's music appeared to some cryptic, that is because, as if with a chunk of raw stone, he cut in it without polishing it, letting others do it and thereby making the music accesible to the public. It is a good thing to hear the pianist without a bass and a drum, he whose rythmic conception is the most excentric of all, as rich and instinctive as Kenny Clarke's. And this makes his amazing inner tempo all the more tangible".
Henri Renaud, original liner notes.

1. 'Round About Midnight 5:16
2. Evidence 3:06
3. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 3:25
4. Well You Needn't 3:27
5. Reflections 5:03
6. We See 2:34
7. Eronel 2:35
8. Off Minor 2:33
9. Hackensack 3:02

Recorded in Paris, France on June 7, 1954

Thelonious Monk (piano).

"Solo Time" The Erroll Garner Collection vols. 4 & 5

"I'm a new me every day"
Called "one of the most distinctive of all pianists" by, Garner showed that a "creative jazz musician can be very popular without watering down his music" or changing his personal style. He is referred to as a "brilliant virtuoso who sounded unlike anyone else" ,using an "orchestral approach straight from the swing era but …open to the innovations of bop." Garner's ear and technique owed as much to practice as to a natural gift. His distinctive style could swing like no other, but some of his best recordings are ballads, such as his best-known composition, "Misty". Although "Misty" rapidly became a standard with singers – and was famously featured in Clint Eastwood's Play Misty for Me (1971) – it was never a favorite with fellow instrumentalists.
Garner may have been inspired by the example of Earl Hines, a fellow Pittsburgh resident but 18 years his senior, and there were resemblances in their elastic approach to timing and the use of the right-hand octaves. Errol's style however, was unique and had neither obvious forerunners nor competent imitators although, at an amateur level, more players attempted to imitate him than any other pianist in jazz history. A key factor in his sound was the independence of his hands.
Garner would often play behind or ahead of the beat with his right hand while his springy left had rocked steady, creating insouciance and tension in the music, which he would resolve by bringing the timing back into sync. The independence of his hands also was evidenced by his masterful use of three against four figures and more complicated cross rhythms between the hands. He also would play introductions to pieces that sometimes utilized cacophonous or just weird sounds unrelated to the number, but which produced a sense of excitement in the audience not knowing what he was up to. Whether in ultra slow ballads or rollicking up-tempo improvisation, this never failed to convey a humorous and titillating attitude to both the material at hand and the audience. (taken from Wikipedia)
All songs previously unreleased. Rec. July 7, 1954, Detroit Michigan at Radio Station WWJ original monaural recordings.
Disk One: Liza/It Might As Well Be Spring/If I Could Be With You/Flamingo/In A Little Spanish Town/I'll Never Smile Again/That Old Black Magic/Slow Boat To China/Indian Summer/These Foolish Things/The Man I Love
Disk Two: Old Man River/I'll Get By/Medley: April In Paris & The Last Time I Saw Paris/Sleepy Lagoon/Cottage For Sale/Coquette/I Only Have Eyes For You/I Want To Be Loved/Medley: The World Is WAiting For The Sunrise & Our Waltz & I Can't Escape From You/ Thanks For The Memory

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Duke Ellington - The Okeh Ellington

With a catalogue as enormous and uniformly impressive as Duke Ellington's, it is difficult to ferret out those recordings that truly stand out. THE OKEH ELLINGTON is one of those gems. Collecting the sides Duke and his Orchestra waxed for the legendary OKeh label, this set gives a stunning overview of the dance-oriented compositions Ellington wrote, performed and popularized at New York's Cotton Club in the 1920s.
The number of immortal jazz classics here--"East St. Louis Toodle-oo," "The Mooche," "Black and Tan Fantasy," "Rockin' In Rhythm," and "Mood Indigo"--amazes. The members of the Orchestra demonstrate superior musicianship, and these early ranks include long-term Ellington stars such as Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Sonny Greer and Barney Bigard. Several of the tracks appear more than once, though in the face of such fine material, this is only a minor complaint. In all, this collection stands as a monument not only to the best of Ellington's early oeuvre, but to some of the finest, most accessible (yet adventurous) work in jazz. With the exception of the more comprehensive box sets and the deservedly well-known BLANTON-WEBSTER YEARS set, THE OKEH ELLINGTON is as good as it gets

Producers: Tommy Rockwell, Bob Stephens, Irving Mills.
Compilation producer: Michael Brooks.
Recorded between 1927 and 1930. Includes liner notes by Stanley Dance
Digitally remastered by Tim Geelan & Larry Keyes (Sony Music, New York).

Just a note: This is the US issue. The international issue was missing d2t10 "Ragamuffin Romeo" (cover said due to time limitations). Anal me, couldn't stand such a loss, so I orderer the complete one!!

Javier Malosetti - Onyx (2004)

In the fifth solo album for who many feel is the most versatile Argentine bassist currently playing, Malosetti shows that he is much more than that: first and foremost a musician with great musical skill in genres ranging from rock, blues, jazz and funk. Malosetti imprints his own stamp and shares this experience with some of his favorite musicians from the rich Argentine jazz scene such as Pepi Taveira on drums, his guitarist father Walter, Pappo (Yes, Pappo!) on guitar, Andrew and Claudio Cardone Beeuwsaert on keyboards, among others. And as if all this were not enough, Javier not only plays bass, but most of the solo and rhythm guitars are his as well.

The son of a fine jazz musician (Walter Malosetti), Javier Malosetti has played bass for various bands and has enjoyed a solid solo career. Javier was a long-time member of Luis Alberto Spinetta‘s group, with whom he recorded the albums "Don Lucero", "Exact" and "Pelusón de Leche," and played with Dino Saluzzi, Lito Vitale, Jaime Ross and Baby Lopez Furst, among many others.

In 1993 he recorded his first solo album, which received excellent reviews, portraying it as a "revelation" in several ways. After touring with various artists, in 2001 he released his second solo work, "Spaghetti Boogie," in which he decided that enclosing oneself musically is not exactly the best choice: "With this record I tried to avoid the confines of jazz. I do not know if it was easy, because some still see me as a jazz musician who dabbles with the rock, but that is unfair. I am a musician of not only one style. I travail every style.”

In 2003 he returned to the trio format for the tour of his album "Malosetti Alive", while continuing playing with Spinetta. The following year he left the band to devote himself full time to "Onyx", his latest work.

Javier Malosetti (bass, guitars)
Pepi Taviera (drums, cow-bell)
Walter Malosetti (guitar)
Pappo (guitar)
Bolsa Gonzales (drums)
Rafa Arcaute (keyboards)
Claudio Cardone (keyboards)
Richard Nant (trumpet)
Pablo Puntoriero (tenor sax)
Juan Scalona (trombone)

1 Kevorkian
2 Full glasses
3 Noviembre
4 Little Ed
5 C. C. Waltz
6 Jack & Mint
7 Fine Pals
8 Rough Biker
9 Banana boat
10 Happy hour
11 Triceratops
12 Onyx

Recorded March-April, 2004 at Studios Del Abasto Al Mas Alla, La Diosa Salvaje, and Minifonk, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, May 4, 2009

Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre - Forces And Feelings

Recorded in late 1970, this is McIntyre's second release for the Delmark label. Much like his first effort, Humility in Light of the Creator, Forces and Feelings projects a spiritual tone. While it is occasionally more relaxed than his debut, that's not to say this is McIntyre's mellow disc -- far from it. Forces and Feelings has much in common with the otherworldly vibration Albert Ayler experimented with on his Impulse! date Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe, especially when comparing the vocals of Rita Omolokun with Mary Maria, Ayler's girlfriend/vocalist. It was during this period that McIntyre changed his name to Kalaparusha Ahra Difda, leading many to the conclusion that his uncompromising spirituality was keeping him from playing more gigs, especially those in nightclubs. McIntyre's band for this session was called the Light and featured AACM member Fred Hopkins on bass, Sarnie Garrett on electric guitar, Wesley Tyus on drums, and the vocals of Omolokun. The disc's cover shot of the ocean with the sun rising (or setting) conveys the divine nature of the music inside the jacket. Considering the lack of recordings made by this underrated tenor saxophonist, any of his discs are recommended. ~ Al Campbell

Saxophonist Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre's first recording as a band leader sounds like a time-unbound, spiritual tour de force of black cultural history. He features vocalist Rita Omolokun (Worford) on spoken and soared vocals and plays fractured tenor saxophone throughout this key recording from the Chicago jazz avant-garde. There are unissued alternate takes to be had on the CD, and the music rumbles across Fred Hopkins's bass and Sarnie Garnett's guitar with a careful precision before Wesley Tyus's forceful drumming carries the impact to the gut level. McIntyre plays an expressive tenor, bowing to tonal studies resembling so many straight-ahead jazzers and then ripping through the channels of regularity with what seems a hypnotic, blind storm of wind and thunder. ~ Andrew Bartlett

Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre (clarinet, flute, tenor sax, bells)
Sarnie Garrett (guitar)
Rita Omolokun (vocal)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Wesley Tyus (drums)

1. Behold! God's Sunshine!
2. Fifteen Or Sixteen
3. Sun Spots
4. Ananda
5. Twenty-One Lines
6. Behold! God's Sunshine!
7. Ananda

November 11, 1970

Frank Strozier - Long Night

We've already posted Strozier's Vee-Jay work and his MJT+3 albums: this CD with his 2 long out of print Jazzland albums constitutes, then, most of his output as leader or principal. There is his work with Miles Davis (he came between Hank Mobley and George Coleman) and dates with Woody Shaw amongst others, and even some sessions where he played piano. The presence of Coleman on this date is not surprising; he was one of the group of excellent Young Turks that came out of Memphis around this time. They included Louis Smith, Phineas Newborn, Jr, Coleman, and Booker Little. But these are prime Strozier, done just before he joined Miles. Strozier probably deserves the overused term of under-rated; he seemed to think so, anyway. Harold Mabern is excellent, as usual.

" Frank Strozier never had a problem diving into an aggressive, exuberant blowing date, but Long Night isn't that type of album. Produced by Orrin Keepnews, this 1961 session finds the big-toned alto saxophonist being especially pensive and lyrical. "Pacemaker," a Strozier original, is fast and exuberant, but the tune isn't typical of Long Night on the whole; on most of the material, Strozier is taking some time to reflect. And the saxman (who was only 24 when this LP was recorded) is in a reflective mood whether he is embracing his own compositions or interpreting pre-rock pop songs that include "How Little We Know," "The Man That Got Away," and "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe." Thankfully, Strozier is blessed with an insightful team who appreciates and understands what he is going for -- a team who includes tenor saxophonist George Coleman, baritone saxophonist Pat Patrick (who is best known for his association with the Sun Ra Arkestra), pianist Chris Anderson, bassist Bill Lee, and drummer Walter Perkins. Leading a cohesive three-saxophone sextet gives Strozier a chance to put his skills as an arranger to use, and he gets an honest-to-God group sound; again, Long Night is hardly a run-of-the-mill blowing date. But at the same time, Strozier doesn't over-arrange -- there is still plenty of room for the soloists to stretch out and say what needs to be said. Actually, only half of the LP's eight selections are sextet performances; on four tracks, Coleman and Patrick lay out and give Strozier a chance to lead a quartet. But whether he is leading a quartet or a sextet, Long Night is one of Strozier's most well-planned, well-thought-out albums -- the alto man knows exactly what he is doing on this excellent, if overlooked, LP." ~ Alex Henderson

Frank Strozier (alto sax, flute)
George Coleman (tenor sax)
Pat Patrick (baritone sax, flute)
Chris Anderson (piano)
Harold Mabern (piano)
Bill Lee (bass)
Al Dreares (drums)
Walter Perkins (drums)

1. Long Night
2. (How Little It Matters) How Little We Know
3. Need For Love
4. Man That Got Away
5. Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe
6. Crystal Ball
7. Pacemaker
8. Just Think It Over
9. March Of The Siamese Children
10. Extension
11. Something I Dreamed Last Night
12. Don't Follow The Crowd
13. Our Waltz
14. Will I Forget?
15. Lap
16. Hey Lee!

Don Byron - A Fine Line

Arias and lieder are forms strongly associated with classical music, yet clarinetist Don Byron defines them in a newly expansive way for this remarkable project. To Byron, arias and lieder belong not only to classical figures, but also to writers as diverse as Ornette Coleman, Roy Orbison, Stevie Wonder, Henry Mancini, and Stephen Sondheim.

Byron's right-hand man in this endeavor is pianist Uri Caine. The two play a series of duets throughout the program: "Zwielecht (Twilight)" by Robert Schumann, "Basquiat" by Byron himself, "Nessun Dorma" by Puccini, and "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," the 1966 Holland/Dozier/Holland hit sung by the Four Tops. Byron concludes the album with a solo clarinet rendition of the "Larghetto" from Chopin's second piano concerto.

These duo and solo vignettes frame the full ensemble pieces, on which Byron and Caine are joined by Jerome Harris, Paulo Braga, and a number of very effective guest vocalists. Former Pat Metheny Group vocalist Mark Ledford is wispy and ethereal on Ornette Coleman's "Check Up," deep-toned and far more dramatic on Roy Orbison's "It's Over." Patricia O'Callaghan takes a turn on Leonard Bernstein's "Glitter and Be Gay," an epic piece which Byron infuses with a strong dose of calypso. Both vocalists are joined by Dean Bowman and Harris to form a four-voice choir on Henry Mancini's "Soldier in the Rain." And finally, the great Cassandra Wilson turns in a spellbinding performance on Stephen Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch."

The juxtapositions are unusual, and almost certain to be rejected by purists of any stripe. But at a time when more and more creative artists are bringing together classical, jazz, and pop influences, Byron's attempt surely ranks as one of the most personal and least calculating. ~ David R. Adler

Don Byron, jazz clarinetist, takes a back seat to Don Byron, arranger and conceptualist. His "legitimate" clarinet is featured on the piano-clarinet duets and on the one solo clarinet cut, but most of the CD is given over to his meticulous vocal arrangements. Each tune has its own flavor with composers from many genres represented. Notably there are no 1930's show tunes, although Mancini's "Soldier in the Rain" and Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch" extend that noble tradition. Ledford comfortably sings the rural Texas-flavored "It's Over" while O'Callaghan lifts "Glitter and Be Gay" into classic aria. Cassandra Wilson renders the sophisticated "The Ladies Who Lunch" sardonically and knowingly. Classic vocalese (the voice as instrument) is integrated into the ensemble on other tunes, producing a rich variety of sonorities. The early-Ellington tinged blend of voice and bass clarinet comes off intriguingly.

Caine, Byron, and the remaining musicians accompany with conviction and awareness. ~ Craig Jolley

Don Byron (clarinet, bass clarinet)
Uri Caine (piano)
Jerome Harris (bass, guitar)
Paulo Braga (drums, percussion)
Mark Ledford (vocals)
Patricia O'Callaghan (vocals)
Dean Bowman (vocals)
Cassandra Wilson (vocals)

1. Check Up
2. Zwielicht (Twilight)
3. Glitter And Be Gay
4. Basquiat
5. It's Over
6. Creepin'
7. Nessun Dorma
8. Soldier In The Rain
9. Reach Out I'll Be There
10. The Ladies Who Lunch
11. Larghetto

Duke Ellington - Happy-Go-Lucky Local

Duke Ellington never really had a "Musicraft period" -- his active relationship with the label lasted barely two months. And based on the length of the material featured, this seems like a paltry CD -- but the quality and range of what he cut in those two months is amazing. Ellington's contract with RCA Victor ended during the summer of 1946, and rather than sign with one of the majors, he was persuaded to record for Musicraft, a small independent label, where he was offered the freedom to cut some of his conceptual, experimental works, which RCA Victor had been slow to accept. He only recorded for the label from October through December of that year, when the company's shaky financing brought Ellington's Musicraft work to a halt. Those two months, however, revealed more of Ellington's aspirations as a composer and bandleader than much of his earlier output for RCA. Overlooking the sultry pop number "It Shouldn't Happen to a Dream" (sung by Al Hibbler), the Musicraft sessions were Ellington's first extended venture into recording his most ambitious music, anticipating his Columbia sessions of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Beginning with a stunningly energetic, soaring "Diminuendo in Blue," an eight-year-old concert piece which inaugurated these sessions (and was to become a major part of Ellington's legacy in its extended Newport incarnation ten years later), the Musicraft sessions reached into corners of Ellington's music that had eluded the interest of his previous record labels. "The Beautiful Indians Parts 1 & 2" (featuring a haunting, bluesy, soaring wordless vocal performance by Kay Davis) was an extension of the experimental concept pieces he'd been introducing at his Carnegie Hall concerts since 1943, and "Magenta Haze," a moody, dazzling alto sax showcase for Johnny Hodges that had been in Ellington's repertory for a year, finally got captured for posterity as well. Even the title track, "Happy Go Lucky Local Parts 1 & 2," was a portion -- alas, only a portion, for even Musicraft was unwilling t take the risk of cutting an impractically long and involved suite -- of a then-current Ellington concept piece, the "Deep South Suite," which he'd cut for a transcription session and introduced in concert in 1946. Another fragment of a larger Ellington piece, a virtuoso showcase called "Jam-A-Ditty (Concerto for Four Jazz Horns)," from The Tonal Group, also showed up on these Musicraft sessions. Harry Carney's baritone sax is spotlighted in "The Golden Feather," a contemporary tribute to jazz writer Leonard Feather, who was among Ellington's most dedicated supporters. And Mary Lou Williams' arrangement of Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" (subtitled "Trumpet No End") closes out this release. The sound is exceptionally vivid and very clean, considering that these were done on transcription discs, and this release folds in very neatly to both the RCA/BMG Ellington Centennial set and Hindsight's Ellington Collection box. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide.

Recorded October-December 1946. Transfers & editing: Jack Towers

Dizzy Gillespie Big 7 at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1975

I'm not sure what to make of the two reviews below. Mason says "good but not great" but then uses the word "impressive" three times. Yanow doesn't say "non-essential" but I'm guessing "generally enjoyable" means the same thing.

To me it's not about the selection of songs or the year it was recorded. It's about the solos and interaction between the players. (It's a jam session for chrissake!) Any recordings of these guys stretching out is essential to my ears, even when they are "past their prime". And... I really prefer the original Pablo LP covers, don't you?

Recorded at the 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival, this set features trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (then 58 years old and slightly past his prime) heading an all-star outfit (that also includes vibraphonist Milt Jackson, the tenors of Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Niels Pedersen and drummer Mickey Roker) jamming three standards including a 16-minute version of "Lover, Come Back to Me." There are some fine moments (and some rambling ones) on this generally enjoyable jam session. - Scott Yanow

A good but not great set from the 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival, this set of four extended standards is nonetheless impressive for its complete rejection of all innovations in jazz after around 1955, even those that Dizzy Gillespie had himself spearheaded. This is a straight-up bop jam session. The tunes are standards almost to the point of being clichés -- "Lover, Come Back to Me," "I'll Remember April," "What's New?," and the obligatory run-through of Charlie Parker's signature tune, "Cherokee" -- but Gillespie and his all-star group do an impressive job of finding new avenues of exploration. The 17-minute take on "Lover Come Back to Me" is particularly impressive, with meaty solos from both Gillespie and tenor Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. The ballad "What's New?" is primarily a showcase for Milt Jackson's vibes and Tommy Flanagan's piano, though Johnny Griffin also serves up a lovely tenor solo. Like the song selection, the playing is solid but not particularly far-reaching. There are many moments that elicit grins of pleasure, but none that cause jaws to gape with astonishment. - Stewart Mason

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Johnny Griffin, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (tenor sax)
Milt Jackson (vibes)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass)
Mickey Roker (drums)
  1. Lover Come Back to Me
  2. I'll Remember April
  3. What's New?
  4. Cherokee
Recorded July 16, 1975

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Gene Krupa - 1935-1938 (Chronological 754)

A previously unissued tune, Roy Eldridge, Chu Berry , and did somebody say Vido Musso? Sign me up!

"Krupa joined the Benny Goodman band in 1934 and stayed until 1938, when his boss finally decided there was only room for one of them on stage. The drummer recorded under his own name only twice during the Goodman years. The sessions of November 1935 (made for Parlophone UK) and February 1936 kick off the first Classics volume on a high. Being able to call on Goodman, Jess Stacy and the remarkable Israel Crosby offered some guarantee of quality, and 'Three Little Words' and Krupa's own 'Blues For Israel' are spanking performances, driven along by that dynamic drumming. The following session included Chu Berry and Roy Eldridge, an established double-act in the Fletcher Henderson outfit and always ready to try something new. Berry cheekily weaves in and out of Goodman's line, while Eldridge dive-bombs from above. Great stuff." ~ Penguin Guide

The first CD in the European Classics label's "complete" Gene Krupa series starts off with two all-star sessions that preceded the drummer's first dates as a big-band leader. Krupa, Benny Goodman, bassist Israel Crosby (featured on "Blues of Israel") and several sideman from Goodman's 1935 band jam four songs, and from the following year, Krupa is joined by trumpeter Roy Eldridge, tenor saxophonist Chu Berry, pianist Jess Stacy, guitarist Allan Reuss, Crosby and (on two of the four songs) singer Helen Ward. The two instrumentals ("I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music" and "Swing Is Here") are near-classics that are quite heated. Otherwise, this CD has Krupa's first 15 numbers with his big band, a promising outfit which during 1938 also featured tenor saxophonist Vido Musso, pianist Milt Raskin and the vocals of Irene Daye and Helen Ward. Highlights include "Feeling High and Happy," "Wire Brush Stomp" and the previously unissued "The Madam Swings It." ~ Scott Yanow

Gene Krupa (drums)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Benny Goodman (clarinet)
Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Jess Stacy (piano)
Vido Musso (tenor sax)
Helen Ward (cheeps)
Nate Kazebier (trumpet)

1. Last Roundup
2. Jazz Me Blues
3. Three Little Words
4. Blues Of Israel
5. I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music
6. Mutiny In The Parlor
7. I'm Gonna Clap My Hands
8. Swing Is Here
9. Grandfather's Clock
10. Prelude To A Stomp
11. One More Dream
12. Madam Swings It
13. I Know That You Know
14. Feelin' High And Happy
15. Fare Thee Well, Annie Laurie
16. Jam On Toast
17. If It Rains, Who Cares?
18. Wire Brush Stomp
19. What Goes on Here in My Heart?
20. There's Honey On The Moon Tonight
21. Meet the Beat Of My Heart
22. My Own
23. You're As Pretty As A Picture

The Jazz Keyboards Of...

Another Savoy compilation of otherwise obscure dates, this one is notable for some less than common Tristano, although these have appeared here on the February 9 post The Modern Jazz Piano Album, likewise from Savoy. perhaps the appeal is work by Bobby Scott. Like John Mehegan, he has a good reputation among fans of piano from this period.

The current Savoy reissue series put out by Denon is quite erratic with many misspellings in the scanty notes, brief playing time and a not-always-logical programming of music. This particular CD has four selections from the Lennie Tristano Trio, three songs from a trio led by pianist Bobby Scott, two from Marian McPartland in 1953 and three from a group comprised of pianist Joe Bushkin, guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Harry Babasin (whose names are misspelled as "Joe Bashkin," "Burnie Kessell" and "Harry BaBashin"). The bop-oriented music is fine but the packaging could be much better. ~ Scott Yanow

Lennie Tristano (piano)
Billy Bauer (guitar)
John Levy (bass)

Bobby Scott (piano)
Jim Corbette (bass)
Alan Levitt (drums)

Marian McPartland (piano)
Vinnie Burke (bass)
Joe Morello (drums)

Joe Bushkin (piano)
Barney Kessel (guitar)
Harry Babasin (bass)

1. Supersonic
2. On A Planet
3. Air Pocket
4. Celestia
5. Just One Of Those Things
6. But Beautiful
7. I Married An Angel
8. I Love You Madly
9. Squeeze Me
10. Mean To Me
11. Indian Summer
12. Indiana

Hank Mobley - Soul Station

Of all Hank Mobley's classic sessions for Blue Note, the timeless "Soul Station" is by far the most cherished. This 1960 set features a quartet of Mobley and three masters of the rhythm section, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Art Blakey. What makes this so special, however, is the sheer perfection of it all; Mobley's tenor is soulful and confident, Kelly is at his tasteful best, and Chambers and Blakey work in tandem like a well-oiled machine. The themes are all executed with straightforward swinging panache and the solo spots by all are some of their most flawless excursions. From bouncing grooves like "This I Dig of You" and the slow blues of the title track to the danceable Latin rhythms in "Split Feelin's," this is a fully formed stylistic milestone that perfectly encapsulates the hard bop era.

Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone),
Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Art Blakey (drums)

1. Remember (Berlin) 5:37
2. This I Dig Of You (Mobley) 6:22
3. Dig Dis (Mobley) 6:08
4. Split Feelin's (Mobley) 4:52
5. Soul Station (Mobley) 9:03
6. If I Should Lose You (Robin--Rainger) 5:06

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on February 7, 1960.
Digital transfer by Ron McMaster, 1987.

Down Beat (1960) : 4 Stars

Dick Gaughan - Handful Of Earth

It's a strange thing that I've never posted anything by Gaughan, who is one of my absolute favorite performers. His range is fairly broad and some of his albums have been disappointments to me, but the good ones are absolutely killer. This is his best known, and the first song is often anthologized in collection of British (and other) folk music. The second tune is a setting of a work by Robert Burns who is rightly acknowledged as one of the world's greatest modern poets. After his first flush of fame, Burns devoted himself to song rather than poetry, and I find that to be telling. The song presented is the only example I can think of an 18th Century gentleman condemning the hunt.

On another album - this is good, but my favorite is No More Forever - he plays a song that he learned from his mother, who learned it as a jump-rope tune. The tune appears in Child's Ballads, so it is gratifying to see that the oral tradition lives. The Burn's tune from that album, "Rattlin' Roarin' Willie" is just begging for a good punk version. With a repertoire that embraces James Hogg, Woody Guthrie, Hamish Henderson, and the formidable Adam McNaughtan. I bought most of my Gaughan collection on Parnie Street, two or three doors over from Adam's excellent, and now gone, bookshop.

1. Erin-Go-Bragh
2. Now Westlin Winds
3. Craigie Hill
4. World Turned Upside Down
5. Snows They Melt The Soonest
6. Lough Erne/First Kiss at Parting
7. Scojun Waltz/Randers Hopsa
8. Song for Ireland
9. Workers' Song
10. Both Sides the Tweed

BN LP 5001 | Mellow the Mood - Jazz in a Mellow Mood

Recorded during various sessions dated between 1941 and 1946, this 10" compiles various tracks previously issued by the label on the 78 format - it showcases the label's brief flirtation with the Small Group Swing scene.

Side 1

I Surrender Dear
Sweet And Lovely
If I Had You
Profoundly Blue

ide 2

She's funny that Way
My Old Flame
Blue Harlem

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

I'm going to start posting my whole 5000 series of 10" recordings, (one-a-week), quality is pretty good, remember they were on vinyl, I've tried not to interfere, just reduce the clicks, etc..

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Oliver Lake - Heavy Spirits

This will be one of the least accessible of altoist Oliver Lake's recordings for most people but repeated listenings reveal a great deal of beauty. The avant-garde master is backed by three violinists on a trio of intense pieces, takes "Lonely Blacks" unaccompanied and performs "Rocket" in an unusual trio with trombonist Joseph Bowie and drummer Bobo Shaw. The other three selections have a more conventional instrumentation (a quintet with trumpeter Olu Dara and pianist Donald Smith) but are almost as challenging. It's worth investigating but listeners will have to have patience in order to fully appreciate this music. ~ Scott Yanow

Oliver Lake (alto sax)
Olu Dara (trumpet)
Joseph Bowie (trombone)
Donald Smith (piano)
Steve Peisch (violin)
Al Philemon Jones (violin)
Stafford James (bass)
Charles Bobo Shaw (drums)
Victor Lewis (drums)

1. While Pushing Down Turn
2. Owshet
3. Heavy Spirits
4. Movement Equals Creation
5. Altoviolin
6. Intensity
7. Lonely Blacks
8. Rocket

David Murray - Special Quartet

When one reads the personnel on this CD, the potential seems enormous: tenor saxophonist David Murray, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Fred Hopkins, and drummer Elvin Jones. Murray was a good choice for the tenor slot because, although influenced by John Coltrane's adventurous spirit, he has never sounded like Coltrane, coming closer to the Ben Webster/Paul Gonsalves tradition but with a style of his own. In addition to Trane's "Cousin Mary" and "In a Sentimental Mood" (which Coltrane had recorded with Duke Ellington, and Murray takes as a duet with Tyner), the music includes three of the tenor's originals (including "3-D Family") and a Butch Morris song. The fresh material really pushes Tyner, who mostly sticks to standards with his own trio, while Jones sounds as passionate as usual. A successful outing full of mutual inspiration, this CD is easily recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

David Murray (tenor sax)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
Fred Hopkins (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Tina Lee
2. Cousin Mary
3. Hope Scope
4. Dexter's Dues
5. In A Sentimental Mood
6. 3-D Family

Gil Evans - The Real Birth Of The Cool

One of the reasons we try to maintain a community here of people who share their likes/dislikes, opinions, anecdotes and such is that we not only get to be exposed to unfamiliar works, but we are sometimes given reason to re-evaluate wotks we do know. I was always somewhat indifferent to Gil Evans, but our friend Carlo's enthusiasm has caused me to listen to (and acquire) some of his work. I'm currently reading a bio of Evans, and I am not ashamed to admit I was missing out on a major player. Thank you Carlo, and once again let me repeat: fuck lurkers.

This is the Claude Thornhill/Gil Evans which established him, in the eyes of other musicians at least, as a force to be reckoned with. We hear the first recordings of Lee Konitz who was not especially interested in big bands, but who wanted an opportunity to work with the Thornhill outfit, who maintained a very high reputation among musicians. Incidentally adding to the dispute about who wrote "Donna Lee", Miles Davis says;

"(Evans) was asking for a release on my tune "Donna Lee" ... I told him he could have it and asked him to teach me some chords and let me study some of the scores he was doing for Claude Thornhill.

He really flipped me on the arrangement of "Robbins Nest" he did for Claude. See, Gil had this cluster of chords and superimposed another cluster over it. Now the chord ends, and now these three notes of the remaining cluster are gone. The overtone of the remaining two produced a note way up there. I was puzzled. I had studied the score for days, trying to find the note I heard. But it didn't even exist - at least on paper it didn't. That's Gil for you."

Also note some of the earliest covers of bop tunes such as "Anthropology" and "Yardbird Suite": still faithful to the originals, they also are remarkable in being danceable. That's Gil for you.

Gil Evans (piano, arranger)
Claude Thornhill (piano)
Lee Konitz (alto sax)
Rusty Dedrick (trumpet)
Red Rodney (trumpet)
John Graas (French horn)
Irving Fazola (clarinet)
Barry Galbraith (guitar)
Danny Polo (alto sax, clarinet)
Davy Tough (drums)

1. Somebody Nobody Loves
2. Smiles
3. Buster's Last Stand
4. There's A Small Hotel
5. I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)
6. Moonlight Bay
7. Under The Willow Tree
8. Arab Dance
9. I Get The Blues When It Rains
10. We Knew It All The Time
11. Paloma
12. Anthropology
13. Sorta Kinda
14. Robbin's Nest
15. Lover Man
16. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
17. Happy Stranger
18. Donna Lee
19. Yardbird Suite
20. Snowfall
21. Early Autumn
22. Let's Call It A Day
23. Where Or When

Blind Boy Fuller - Truckin' My Blues Away

For most listeners, Blind Boy Fuller's Truckin' My Blues Away (on Yazoo) may be a better bet than Columbia/Legacy's East Coast Piedmont Style, since it actually has a higher concentration of strong material, capturing the influential bluesman at his peak. All of the 14 tracks were recorded between 1935 and 1938, and there are a number of exceptional performances here, including "Homesick and Lonesome Blues," "Truckin' My Blues Away," "I Crave My Pig Meat," "Walking My Troubles Away" and "Sweet Honey Hole." It's a nice, concise introduction and, best of all, there's no duplication between this disc and East Coast Piedmont Style, making the two discs wonderful complementary collections that tell a comprehensive story when taken together. ~ Thom Owens

Unlike blues artists like Big Bill or Memphis Minnie who recorded extensively over three or four decades, Blind Boy Fuller recorded his substantial body of work over a short, six-year span. Neverthless, he was one of the most recorded artists of his time and by far the most popular and influential Piedmont blues player of all time. Fuller could play in multiple styles: slide, ragtime, pop, and blues were all enhanced by his National steel guitar. Fuller worked with some fine sidemen, including Davis, Sonny Terry, and washboard player Bull City Red. Initially discovered and promoted by Carolina entrepreneur H. B. Long, Fuller recorded for ARC and Decca. He also served as a conduit to recording sessions, steering fellow blues musicians to the studio.

In spite of Fuller's recorded output, most of his musical life was spent as a street musician and house party favorite, and he possessed the skills to reinterpret and cover the hits of other artists as well. In this sense, he was a synthesizer of styles, parallel in many ways to Robert Johnson, his contemporary who died three years earlier. Like Johnson, Fuller lived fast and died young in 1942, only 33 years old. Fuller was a fine, expressive vocalist and a masterful guitar player best remembered for his uptempo ragtime hits "Rag Mama Rag," "Trucking My Blues Away," and "Step It Up and Go." At the same time he was capable of deeper material, and his versions of "Lost Lover Blues" or "Mamie" are as deep as most Delta blues. Because of his popularity, he may have been overexposed on records, yet most of his songs remained close to tradition and much of his repertoire and style is kept alive by North Carolina and Virginia artists today. ~ Barry Lee Pearson

1. Truckin' My Blues Away
2. Untrue Blues
3. Homesick And Lonesome Blues
4. You Never Can Tell
5. Mamie
6. Jivin' Woman Blues
7. Weeping Willow
8. Funny Feeling Blues
9. I Crave My Pigmeat
10. Corrine What Makes You Treat Me So?
11. Meat Shakin' Woman
12. Walking My Troubles Away
13. Painful Hearted Man
14. Sweet Honey Hole

Frank Wess - Opus De Blues

Remarkably, Frank Wess has been playing around here lately with some frequency. With the busy summer season approaching maybe he'll be in a town near you. A link to his site is in comments: check out his answering machine message. He also appears on Milt Jackson's Savoy Opus De Jazz (look in older posts) and his work "You Leave Me Breathless" is not to be forgotten. This was never released, apparently, on LP.

A really stupid review (although 'a satisfying blend of fluid grace and breathy impertinence' is pretty good. Must've gotten it from a wine tasting):

Previously unreleased until 1991, this 1959 date features Frank Wess leading a septet of players mainly associated with Count Basie, pianist Hank Jones the only one not from some version of the Count's organization. Unlike some of the other Savoy releases in the Opus De series, this is not chamber jazz, but a relaxed, blowing session. The five blues-based themes are pleasant, easygoing vehicles, familiar ground for any Basie associate. The playing is skillful, although unremarkable. The exceptions, typical for a Wess session, occur when the leader switches to flute, giving listeners a taste of the most interesting aspect of his musicianship: a satisfying blend of fluid grace and breathy impertinence. Besides the leaders' flute work, the Jones brothers, Hank and Thad, contribute the session's more original blues interpretations. There is also some tight ensemble work from the horns on Wess's "I hear Ya Talkin'" and Thad Jones' "Struttin' Down Broadway."

Not essential listening, but of possible interest to Basiephiles. The sound recording is good, accurately capturing the horns, rhythm section, and ensemble parts. ~ Jim Todd

Frank Wess (flute, tenor sax)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Hank Jones (piano)
Thad Jones (trumpet)
Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax)
Eddie Jones (bass)
Gus Johnson (drums)

1. I Hear Ya Talkin
2. Liz
3. Boop-Pe-Doop
4. Opus de Blues
5. Struttin' Down Broadway

Duke Ellington - Unknown Session

This is not the record that will change your life. However, you will enjoy a relaxed and cool small group session, recorded in 1960, that remained in the vaults for 19 years.

Lawrence Brown & Ray Nance take solos on the first part, while Johnny Hodges & Harry Carney shine on the second.

If you know Duke’s music, all tracks must be familiar to you.

Need I say more ?

First issue 1979, this issue 1990, French CBS, long OOP
"I Love Jazz" series producer: Henri Renaud


1. Everything But You
2. Black Beauty
3. All Too Soon
4. Something to Live For
5. Mood Indigo
6. Creole Blues [Excerpt from Creole Rhapsody]
7. Don't You Know I Care (Or Don't You Care to Know)
8. Flower Is a Lovesome Thing
9. Mighty Like the Blues
10. Tonight I Shall Sleep (With a Smile on My Face)
11. Dual Highway
12. Blues

Hank Mobley - Workout

Really nothing more than a straight blowing session, Workout nevertheless remains Hank Mobley's finest hour. His four original compositions offer basic blues-funk structures, but with the sympathetic, inspirational support of Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, and Grant Green, Mobley uses them to maximum effect. As Leonard Feather astutely points out in the notes, Mobley's sound falls halfway between the big, heavy sound of Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane and the lighter, airier tones of Stan Getz and Zoot Sims. On this approachable 1961 effort, Mobley is at his most voluble, blending blues and bop into graceful and lucid lines. Jones is particularly perky on drums, Kelly his usual funky and quick-witted self on piano, and guitarist Green the perfect complement to Mobley. Two delightful mid-tempo standards--"The Best Things in Life Are Free" and "Three Coins in the Fountain"--add to the joyful mood. ~ Marc Greilsamer (Amazon)

Digital transfer by Ron MacMaster, 1988


1. Workout
2. Uh Huh
3. Smokin'
4. The Best Things In Life Are Free
5. Greasin' Easy
6. Three Coins In The Fountain

Friday, May 1, 2009

Clifford Brown - The Complete Blue Note And Pacific Jazz Recordings

This four-CD compilation of all the Blue Note and Capitol recordings is as elegantly remastered and packaged as anyone could possibly wish. Two of these sessions were recorded under the leadership or co-leadership of J.J. Johnson, Art Blakey, and Lou Donaldson. The live Birdland sessions of February 1954 are splendidly extended and afford the best possible glimpse of the young genius on the brink of his breakthrough. The rest of the material simply teems with promise and it is almost inconceivable - indeed heartbreaking - listening to the first three discs, to think that none of it would ever come to proper fruition. The sheer fecundity of Brown's musical imagination never fails to amaze. ~ Penguin Guide

This four-CD set has the exact same music as an earlier Mosaic five-LP box, but is highly recommended to those listeners not already possessing the limited-edition set. Trumpeter Clifford Brown is heard on the most significant recordings from the first half of his tragically brief career. Whether co-leading a date with altoist Lou Donaldson, playing as a sideman with trombonist J.J. Johnson, interacting with an all-star group of West Coast players, or jamming with the first (although unofficial) edition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (a two-disc live performance with a quintet that also includes the drummer/leader, Donaldson and pianist Horace Silver), Brown is the main star. Highlights are many, including versions of "Brownie Speaks," Elmo Hope's "De-Dah," "Cherokee," "Get Happy," "Daahoud" and "Joy Spring." The attractive packaging, with its 40 pages of text and many rare pictures, is an added bonus. ~ Scott Yanow

When this angel of a man, trumpeter Clifford Brown, died in a fatal auto accident in the summer of 1956, he was still in his mid-20s, an emerging star as the co-leader (with drummer Max Roach and young tenor giant Sonny Rollins) of the most dynamic hard-bop ensemble of its time. Their Mercury recordings are simply transcendent, but as these four CDs demonstrate, by 1953-1954 Brownie's technical command of the trumpet and of complex chord changes was exceeded only by his indomitable rhythmic drive and lyric fluidity. The studio sides are distinguished by some magnificent small-group arrangements, such as Elmo Hope's on "Carvin' the Rock" and Gigi Gryce's on "Hymn of the Orient," where Brownie's bluesy intensity cause pianist John Lewis to pop a woody. And goaded on by drummer Art Blakey, Brownie's epic solos on the two Birdland discs show why, in solo after solo, chorus after chorus, he never failed to deliver the goods--and why he remains the most influential jazz trumpeter some 40 years after his death. ~ Chip Stern

Clifford Brown (trumpet)
Elmo Hope (piano)
Russ Freeman (piano)
Horace Silver (piano)
John Lewis (piano)
Charlie Rouse (tenor sax)
Stu Williamson (trombone)
Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Lou Donaldson (alto sax)
Bob Gordon (baritone sax)
Gigi Gryce (flute, alto sax)
Jimmy Heath (tenor and baritone sax)
J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Curly Russell (bass)
Percy Heath (bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)
Shelly Manne (drums)
Art Blakey (drums)
Kenny Clarke (drums)

Cornell Dupree - Child's Play (1993)

Something on the funky side for your Friday.

In a remarkable career now entering its fifth decade, Cornell Dupree has played on literally thousands of sessions and worked with a staggering list of artists that includes James Brown, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, Elvin Jones, B.B. King, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Herbie Mann, Jimmy Smith, and many more. He is still actively performing and shows no signs of slowing down.

Cornell Dupree (guitar)
Paul Shaffer (piano)
Mitch Margold (piano, organ)
Will Lee (bass)
Eric Parker (drums, percussion)
Randy Brecker (flugelhorn)
Barry Danielian (trumpet)
Randy Andos (trombone)
Steve Greenfield (alto sax)
Scott Kreitzer (tenor sax)
Richard Tee (horn arrangements)
  1. Bumpin'
  2. Short Stuff
  3. Putt's Pub
  4. For Blues Sake
  5. Child's Play
  6. Smooth Sailin'
  7. Ramona
  8. Just What You Need
  9. Mr. Bojangles

Don Byron - Plays The Music Of Mickey Katz

Mickey's son Joel Grey also had some success in showbiz. I think he changed his name because Katz was "too Hollywood", as Lenny Bruce said in a slightly different context. One gets an interesting take on the larger music scene of Katz' time by looking at his marginal work. Macrocosm in microcosm, baby. There are links in Comments to Dave Tarras and other related posts.

No one recognized the manic possibilities of klezmer more than clarinetist Mickey Katz, whose 1945-1947 tenure with Spike Jones spawned a comedy band that launched such funny travesties as the Yiddish cowpoke ditty "Haim Afen Range" or the Jewish-Hawaiian "Mechaye War Chant." Katz used humor to expand the musical boundaries of klezmer, thrusting it into the laps of World War II mainstream America at a time when Yiddish was identified as a victim's language and most Jewish music looked backward in time because the post-Holocaust present was intolerable. Playing Katz's songs demands prodigious chops, hence the attraction of Katz to molecule-splitting clarinetist Don Byron, who demonstrates nerve presenting Katz the monologist as the equal of Katz the composer. In sum, convoluted, kaleidoscopic silliness topped with Byron's usual dazzling self. ~ Bob Tarte

There's a strong connection between Don Byron's humor and his profound musical curiosity, two qualities that distinguish him from his more conservative contemporaries. Both are much to the fore in this faithful tribute to Mickey Katz, a witty and innovative clarinetist who brought virtuosity and a compulsive comedy to the klezmer tradition, both with Spike Jones in the '40s and later on his own. Byron's interest in klezmer was hardly faddish when he recorded this 1993 date. His involvement dated back to his student years in the early 1980s when he joined Boston's Klezmer Conservatory Band, one of the most faithful practitioners of the form. Forging links between black and Jewish outsider traditions, Byron is as attracted by Katz's love of pastiche and parody as he is by the klezmer clarinet tradition, including Katz's takes on cowboy, Russian, and Hawaiian music. The band is superb, with fine performances by trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Uri Caine, and violinist Mark Feldman, as well as Byron. Together they balance contemporary musical interests with an archival re-creation of some spirited Yiddish comedy. ~ Stuart Broomer

Don Byron (clarinet)
Jay Berliner (mandolin)
Jerry Gonzalez (percussion)
J.D. Parran (clarinet, flute, bass clarinet, soprano sax)
Uri Caine (piano)
Dave Douglas (trumpet)

1. Prologue: "...shed no tears before the rain..."
2. Frailach Jamboree
3. Haim Afen Range
4. Mamaliege Dance
5. Sweet and Gentle
6. Litvak Square Dance
7. C'est si bon
8. Trombonik Dance
9. Bar Mitzvah Special
10. Dreidel Song
11. Seder Dance
12. Paisach in Portugal
13. Berele's Sherele
14. Mechaye War Chant
15. Kiss Of Meyer
16. Epilogue: Tears
17. Wedding Dance