Monday, November 30, 2009

Globe Unity Orchestra - Rumbling

On its ninth anniversary, a slimmed-down (due to budget constraints only) version of the Globe Unity Orchestra performed at the Berlin Free Music Festival. Ironically enough (since this group was shrunk for the occasion), the fest's theme that year was on the trombone in the context of larger ensembles. It is only fitting, then, that the set should open with a Misha Mengelberg composition from their first year, featuring the illustrious Albert Mangelsdorff on trombone. The tune, a messed-up half march and half polka dedicated to Alexander von Schlippenbach (the pianist here) that was written upon the Globe Unity's inception, sounds oddly out of place with the rest of the program, which relies so heavily on free improvisation. But that's a plus: Since the idea was to play with as few restraints as possible compositionally and in terms of arrangements, this work of Mengelberg's offers a view of what the Globe Unity had to perform against. Playful as it is, it sets up a deathly serious group of improvisational encounters that jar the very foundations of the orchestra. There are the cut-to-the-teeth dueling sopranos of Steve Lacy and Evan Parker on Lacy's "Rumbling" and the dreamy yet visionary cascade of barely coherent (or contained) lyricism on Parker's "Into the Valley" and "...of dogs, dreams, and death," with a gorgeous long solo by Kenny Wheeler. Finally, there is von Schlippenbach's stormy reading and arrangement of Monk's "Evidence," which features Lacy and Mangelsdorff taking the pianist on the harmonic ride of his life. This is a magical concert, full of humor, pathos, and the strident push for free improv above all else — and the case gets made very convincingly. ~ Thohmh Jhurhekh

Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano)
Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
Gerd Dudek (tenor sax)
Albert Mangelsdorff (trombone)
Evan Parker (soprano and tenor sax)
Paul Rutherford (trombone)
Kenny Wheeler (trumpet)
Peter Kowald (bass, tuba)
Paul Lovens (percussion)

1. Alexanders Marschbefehl
2. Rumbling
3. Into The Valley
4. ...of dogs, dreams, and death
5. Evidence

Terence Blanchard & Donald Harrison - 1983 New York Second Line

Trumpeter Terence Blanchard and altoist Donald Harrison were both still members of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers when they co-led this colorful set; they would break away to form their own group in early 1986. "New York Second Line," which sounds like a crazy marching band and is an eccentric tribute to the co-leaders New Orleans heritage, is the most memorable selection but all of the group originals plus "I Can't Get Started" are given inventive treatment. With pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, this was a particularly strong early effort by Blanchard and Harrison.
Scott Yanow

01 New York Second Line (Harrison) 4:18
02 Oliver's Twist (Blanchard) 5:19
03 I Can't Get Started (Duke, Gershwin) 3:21
04 Duck Steps (Harrison) 3:37
05 Doctor Drums (Harrison) 5:58
06 Isn't It So (Miller) 3:40
07 Subterfuge (Blanchard) 7:48

Terence Blanchard Trumpet
Donald Harrison Sax (Alto)
Mulgrew Miller Piano
Lonnie Plaxico Bass
Marvin "Smitty" Smith Drums

Recorded on October 15 - 16, 1983

Sunday, November 29, 2009

BN LP 5031 | Wade Legge - New Faces/New Sounds

Wade Legge (p) Lou Hackney (b) Al Jones (d) - Paris, France, February 27, 1953

This was originally a Vogue session, then licensed to Blue Note for US release.
From wikipedia;
"Legge played more bass than piano in his early years, and it was with the bass that he was first noticed by Milt Jackson, who recommended him to Dizzy Gillespie. Gillespie hired him and shortly thereafter moved him to piano; he remained a member of Gillespie's ensemble until 1954, and during that time recorded a date in France as a trio session leader."

So this, was recorded whilst still part of Gillespie's band.

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


Wade Legge (ldr), Wade Legge (p), Lou Hackney (b), Al Jones (d)

a. a-01 Perdido - 3:08 (Juan Tizol, Ervin Drake, Hans Lengsfelder)
b. a-02 Dream A Little Dream Of Me - 3:16 (Fabian Andree, Gus Kahn, Wilbur Schwandt)
c. a-03 Wade Legge's Blues - 3:44 (Wade Legge)
d. a-04 Dear Old Stockholm [Ack Värmeland, Du Sköna] - 3:11 (Traditional)
e. b-01 Dance Of The Infidels - 3:14 (Bud Powell)
f. b-02 Aren't You Glad You're You - 3:15 (Jimmy Van Heusen, Johnny Burke)
g. b-03 These Foolish Things - 2:52 (Harry Link, Holt Marvell, Jack Strachey)
h. b-04 Why Don't You Believe Me - 2:52 (Lew Douglas, King Laney, Roy Rodde)

Eugene Chadbourne - There'll Be No Tears Tonight

Well, the discussion today has been "free jazz" and the ability to play traditionally. Hold on to your hat.

On his compulsive own, Eugene Chadbourne (previously the guitarist and leader of Shockabilly) has spewed forth a ceaseless stream of records and cassettes (the latter on his own Parachute label) that easily represent the oddest version of country and folk music ever. While the notable left-winger's guitar playing is looser than clams, it harbors wildly unique energy. (He also plays the electric rake.) The North Carolinian is also the master of several different voices, some of them deceptively sincere. Harsh, funny, irritating and packed with ideas, Chadbourne often suggests a politically correct Frank Zappa.

There'll Be No Tears Tonight lovingly takes on thirteen country-western standards. Eugene acts out his "free improvised country & western bebop" with several game free-music experts on everything from Carl Perkins' "Honey Don't" to Merle Haggard's "Swingin' Doors." The results are hilarious and touching.

Country fans expecting straight, faithful versions of these covers of Roger Miller, Hank Williams, and Merle Haggard will be in shock. Imagine honky tonk as free jazz, and that's what you'll get. ~ Jeff Tamarkin

A seemingly endless -- and endlessly eclectic -- series of releases made the innovative guitarist Eugene Chadbourne one of the underground community's most well-known and well-regarded eccentrics. Born January 4, 1954 in Mount Vernon, NY, Chadbourne was raised in Boulder, CO, by his mother, a refugee of the Nazi death camps. At the age of 11, the Beatles inspired him to learn guitar; later exposure to Jimi Hendrix prompted him to begin experimenting with distortion pedals and fuzzboxes. Ultimately, however, he became dissatisfied with the conventions of rock and pop, and traded in his electric guitar for an acoustic one, on which he began to learn to play bottleneck blues.

Perhaps Chadbourne's most significant formative discovery was jazz; initially drawn to John Coltrane and Roland Kirk, he later became an acolyte of the avant excursions of Derek Bailey and Anthony Braxton. Despite the huge influence music exerted over his life, however, Chadbourne first studied to become a journalist, but his career was derailed when he fled to Canada rather than fight in Vietnam; only President Jimmy Carter's declaration of amnesty for conscientious objectors allowed the vociferously left-wing Chadbourne to return to the U.S. in 1976, at which time he plunged headlong into the New York downtown music scene. After releasing his 1976 debut, Solo Acoustic Guitar, he began collaborating on purely improvisational music with the visionary saxophonist John Zorn and the acclaimed guitarist Henry Kaiser.

Quickly, Chadbourne carved out a singular style, comprised of equal parts protest music, free improvisation, and avant-garde jazz, topped off with his absurd, squeaky vocals. A complete list of Chadbourne's countless subsequent collaborations and genre workouts is far too lengthy and detailed to exhaustively document, although in the early '80s he garnered some of his first significant attention as the frontman of Shockabilly, a demented rockabilly revisionist outfit which also featured the well-known producer Kramer. Following the group's breakup, Chadbourne turned to his own idiosyncratic brand of country and folk, accurately dubbed LSD C&W on a 1987 release, the same year he joined the members of Camper Van Beethoven for a one-off covers project. In addition, he recorded with artists ranging from Fred Frith and Elliott Sharp to Evan Johns and Jimmy Carl Black, the original drummer in the Mothers of Invention; in between, he continued exploring unique styles inspired by music from the four corners of the globe, all the while issuing a seemingly innumerable string of records, most of them on his own Parachute label. ~ Jason Ankeny

1. Honey Don't
2. Dang Me
3. The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me
4. I'm The Only Hell My Mama Ever
5. Take This Job And Shove It
6. Motel Time Again
7. Georgia In A Jug
8. Window Shopping
9. My Heart Would Know
10. Mr Record Man
11. Jealous Lovin' Heart
12. Swingin' Doors
13. There'll Be No Tears Tonight

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Charles Ives - Ives Plays Ives

Charles Ives did not approach recording as a means of preserving his playing for future generations. It satisfied three practical and rather private functions: so that he could hear his own music played back to him, as a compositional assist to help transcribe variant readings of works in progress, and as a way to demonstrate to performers how he thought his music should sound. Ives did not put very much stock in the success of these recordings, and very few of them constitute "complete" performances in a manner that might have satisfied him. Nevertheless, they are the only recordings Ives made, and as such constitute a priceless legacy within the limited amount of material that exists on record of American classical composers before 1950. Ives was the first American composer to utilize studio recording as a compositional tool, therefore these modest, and often very brief, samples of his playing represent a milestone of which even he was not aware.

New World Records' Ives Plays Ives was initially put out by CRI in 1999, and in its original incarnation proved so successful that CRI was already long out of stock on the title when it closed its doors for good in 2002. New World's reissue of this title does not make many changes to the original package other than to spruce up the typeface, change the front and back cover, and to add a bibliography and selected discography. Otherwise it consists of the same 42 recordings, painstakingly transferred from shellac test pressings, uncoated aluminums, and aluminum-based lacquer discs in 1999, and the same group of essays by James Sinclair, Richard Warren, Vivian Perlis, and others that appeared the first time around.

Most of Ives' recordings center around the Four Transcriptions from Emerson, Ives' final piano work, and one he still considered unfinished in the 1930s when making these recordings. Along the way, Ives departed from the transcriptions in order to work with bits and pieces of his piano Studies, parts of the Concord Sonata, and a number of improvised or semi-improvised pieces, including an improvisation on a movement from within the First Symphony that he had previously discarded. At his final session of 1943 Ives concentrated more on producing complete recordings, including the whole of Study No. 9, "The Anti-Abolitionist Riots, March No. 6 with "Here's to Good Old Yale," three takes of his final song "They Are There! and finally, a complete "The Alcotts" movement of the Concord Sonata. This last selection is Ives' best-known recording and is perceived as his most characteristic in some circles. However, if there is any characteristic that dominates the proceedings as a whole it is Ives' thundering, highly dissonant, and exploratory pianism, frequently peppered with moans, epithets, and cursing. It is a little like going through Ives' hastily scribbled manuscript sketches, only on record rather than on paper. The sound quality is variable, understandable given the distinctly differing situations in which Ives recorded, ranging from the Abbey Road studio in London to a primitive home recording setup with "Speak-O-Phone" discs. However, many of these recordings have surprising fidelity, and this 1999 restoration remains a huge improvement over the LP version of Ives Plays Ives that appeared in the early '70s on CBS.

The return of Ives Plays Ives is certainly welcome, and this new New World Records edition is nicely done. Once obtained, it is unlikely that it is a recording one will want to listen to very often, but hopefully this new incarnation of Ives Plays Ives will at least make its way into the hands of everyone who desires to own one. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis

The invention of sound-recording devices late in the nineteenth century made possible the preservation of definitive performances played or led by some important composers of the first decades of the twentieth century. Elgar, Rachmaninoff, Richard Strauss, and Stravinsky, among others, left a significant legacy of recordings of their own works. Charles Ives, however, did not approach recording in order to leave a legacy. At least at first, he simply wanted an opportunity to listen to some of his music with advantageous detachment (and possibly to shortcut supplying to Henry Cowell and others variants of his music). With virtually no performances of his important music occurring during the first two decades of the century, Ives certainly had a backlog of curiosity about the sound of his own compositional efforts, and the need to judge them as such. By 1933 Ives had retired from his insurance business and had largely finished writing his autobiographical Memos. He had heard some performances of his instrumental works (mostly in very disappointing efforts), but none of his piano works. While on an extended European vacation, he introduced himself to recording, at the Columbia Graphophone Company in London. Over the course of a decade that included four such sessions, Ives recorded seventeen different pieces, ranging from the early March No. 6 and rejected Largo for Symphony No. 1 to the “improvisations” that indeed may have been freshly created in front of the microphone in 1938. But most of the music recorded—the Four Transcriptions from “Emerson,” the Studies Nos. 2, 9, 11, and 23, and the “Emerson” movement of Sonata No. 2 for Piano: Concord, Mass.—is related closely to Ives’s early, unfinished Emerson Overture for Piano and Orchestra (circa 1910–11). This reissue restores this historic recording, originally issued by CRI but unavailable for several years, to the catalogue. The booklet includes complete tracking information and extensive historical notes and documentation.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba - Imagine

The first time I heard about Rubalcaba was during a Jazz festival in São Paulo, ina session which was a homage to Tom Jobim. By the way, that was Jobim's last public appearance. Herbie Hancock was presenting the artists. He made a small speech about Gonzalo, which seated and played "Água de beber". I was amazed. Since then, I look for his records, not found easily in my country and expensive to import. In this CD, he mixes compositions of his own (Contagio, Circuito II and Mima) with well known compositions of others (Imagine, Woody'n you) and even a extended rendition of the bolero "Perfidia". I don't like boleros very much and "Perfidia" isn't among the few I like. But when I heard this I thought:"maybe I should pay more attention to boleros". But almost immediatly a second thought came:"It is not the bolero. It is the way Gonzalo is playing".

1- Imagine
2- Contagio
3- First song
4- Woody'n you
5- Circuito II
6- Perfidia
7- Mima

Gonzalo Rubalcaba - Piano
Reynaldo Melian - Trumpet
Felipe Cabrera - Electric Bass
Julio Barreto - Drums
Charlie Haden - Bass
Jack DeJohnette - Drums

Marcus Roberts - In Honor of Duke (1999)

In Honor of Duke, the tribute to Duke Ellington, lovingly performed by the Marcus Roberts Trio, displays two facets of Roberts' performing style. One is his unrepentant traditionalism. Roberts likes his jazz pure, and delving into Ellington's music provided a whole palette of bits to shine and rearrange without having to cross any musical boundaries. This album also shows off Roberts' technical virtuosity -- he is an expert arranger and extremely gifted pianist, and he has surrounded himself with the kind of musicians who can make his interpretations communicate the delicacy and energy of the compositions they are based on. Roberts actually makes it his goal to make the trio a more balanced showcase for all of its musicians. "Rickitick Tick," the first track on In Honor of Duke, shows off this style -- the bass and drums lead the song, and when the piano line comes in, it simply fills out the arrangement instead of relegating the rhythm lines to the background. Drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Roland Guerin never fully sink into the roles of accompanists; instead, they weave in and out of solos throughout the album in a seamless manner.

Most of the album stays with the traditional trio format; however, for tracks four and five, Antonio Sanchez is brought in as percussionist and drummer, respectively, to lend a deeper texture and a Latin flavor to the songs. Sanchez, who has sparkled as a member of pianist Danilo Perez's trio, is a fine addition to the formula Roberts has concocted. Roberts isn't really breaking any new ground here, but you may not care. The music is lush and the musicianship is precise, making for a very enjoyable album for Ellington fans and jazz fans in general. - Stacia Proefrock

Marcus Roberts (piano)
Roland Guerin (bass)
Jason Marsalis, Antonio Sanchez (drums, percussion)
  1. Rickitick Tick
  2. There It Is
  3. The Feeling of Something New
  4. Take a Chance
  5. Groove Until You Move
  6. In Honor of Duke
  7. On Two Separate Occassions
  8. Promises, Promises
  9. Wild Kingdom
  10. Duke de Suite
  11. The Beauty of the Spirit
  12. Nothin' Like It
Recorded April 1-3, 1999

Ahmad Jamal - Poinciana

A solid look at a man who deeply influenced several major players - Miles Davis, for example, recorded six of these tunes after hearing the Jamal versions. Jamal offered possibilities to the post-bop practitioners who could not, perhaps, go any farther down the road (and prodigious playing) blazed by titans like Bird and Diz. Hard bop was one alternative, and Jamal offered several more. And all of these were done before he reached the age of twenty-five.

"This fascinating date features pianist Ahmad Jamal at the beginning of his recording career. With guitarist Ray Crawford and either Eddie Calhoun or Israel Crosby on bass, Jamal showcases a style that would be a major influence on Miles Davis' music. Jamal's use of space and dynamics was very different than the style of any other jazz pianist of the era. His versions of "Old Devil Moon," "Will You Still Be Mine?," "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," and "A Gal in Calico" inspired Miles to record the songs in a similar fashion, and his "Billy Boy" became the basis of a performance by the Red Garland Trio. Most fascinating is Jamal's inventive interpretation of "Pavanne," for it has a section very reminiscent of "So What" (which was not "composed" by Davis until over two years later) and a melody statement that is exactly the same as John Coltrane's "Impressions."" ~ Scott Yanow

Ahmad Jamal (piano)
Ray Crawford (guitar)
Israel Crosby (bass)
Eddie Calhoun (bass)

1. Old Devil Moon
2. Ahmad's Blues
3. Poinciana
4. Billy Boy
5. Will You Still Be Mine?
6. Pavanne
7. Crazy He Calls Me
8. Surrey With The Fringe On Top
9. Aki And Ukthay (Brother And Sister)
10. Slaughter On Tenth Avenue
11. Gal In Calico
12. It's Easy To Remember

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions

When originally issued by Douglas, the 5-LP Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions stepped into a virtual void of free jazz. Impulse, the lasting champion of labels willing to risk their budgets on free jazz artists, had already given up on what was a steadily dwindling release program by 1975. Besides the then-fledgling Black Saint label, Arista's cautious dabbling (with its Novus series and Anthony Braxton's contract) and the handful of artist-run labels still in the game, free jazz had become an even scarcer commodity in the United States' post-Vietnam depression.

But the Wildflowers LPs weren't only a bucket of cold water to the free jazz economy—they also just happened to document nearly all of the important US-based players of the era. Between those still surviving in New York from the 60s (Sunny Murray, Marion Brown, Dave Burrell, Andrew Cyrille, Jimmy Lyons), recent transplants from Chicago's AACM (Braxton, Air) and St. Louis' BAG (Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill) collectives and a handful of young up-and-comers (David Murray, Ahmed Abdullah, David S. Ware), the set provided a comprehensive overview of what was currently happening in the music.

Recorded as snapshots of a festival hosted at Sam Rivers' loft Studio Rivbea in May of 1976, the LPs captured a sort of grassroots energy that, considered today, can be seen as the early roots of an artist-centered aesthetic in New York that has evolved into more frequent engagements like the Vision Festival. Yet all politics and lineage-tracing aside, the reissue of the Wildflowers set—jammed onto three very full CDs by the Knitting Factory's Knit Classics subsidiary—returns some particularly valuable music to the non-collector marketplace.

From the first disc's opening track "Jays", the notable changes that were beginning to take place in the music are apparent as Kalaparusha (Maurice McIntyre) gets his tenor mojo working over a super-funky electric bass-driven groove. As has been discussed in other assessments of this collection, "free jazz" was beginning to incorporate the more palatable elements of its otherwise sworn enemy "jazz fusion" with distinctive results—Kalaparusha's track being a prime illustration of that hybridity. However, the rest of the disc features more classic expressions of the art form with varying degrees of structure: for example, Ken McIntyre's wily alto negotiates the angles of his "New Times" with edgy purpose, while Sunny Murray's killer Untouchable Factor group (w/Byard Lancaster and David Murray on reeds, Khan Jamal on vibes and Fred Hopkins on bass) explores "Over the Rainbow" on the strength of Lancaster's gorgeously emotive vibrato. Continuing the theme, Sam Rivers' "Rainbows" is one of his finest recordings—capturing the saxophonist blowing his trademark soprano streams over a highly sympathetic rhythm section. The rest of the disc's highlights can be found in tracks by Air ("USO Dance", which exemplifies the combination of sensitivity and fire that made them one of the finest jazz trios of the decade), Flight to Sanity ("The Need to Smile", a stunningly organic Afro-modal affair in which Sonelius Smith's piano joins with the dynamic percussion of Harold Smith and Don Moye in bluesy communion) and Marion Brown (a solo alto performance of "And Then They Danced", where his combination of lyricality and rough edges enhance the ballad's inherent sweetness).

The second disc extends the polemic between structure-oriented, fusion-tinged and free blowing pieces, with the structuralists claiming a significant majority of the space. The chamber-like obtusity of Leo Smith and New Delta Ahkri's "Locomotif No. 6", the stiff flamenco-folk convolution of Michael Jackson's "Clarity 2", the hard Chicago blues of Hamiet Bluiett's "Tranquil Beauty" and the pretty layers and sugary resolution of Julius Hemphill's "Pensive" all suffer from a tight compositional stricture that even dwarfs the moments of brilliant playing (like Bluiett's bluesy baritone abyss on "Beauty" and guitarist Bern Nix's gelling harmolodic runs on the Hemphill piece). Ahmed Abdullah's "Blue Phase" is this disc's fusion experiment—very successfully combining electric and acoustic basses in a murky bottom end, but unfortunately losing out in the mix to Mashujaa's heavily effected, watery guitar (though, interestingly enough, his tone here is actually reminiscent of the phase-shifted sound prevalent among reggae guitarists of the day). The disc's lone representative of freer boundaries, Andrew Cyrille and Maono's rather directionless "Short Short," is also a disappointment—though that may have more to do with the excerpter's scalpel than the musicians themselves.

The third disc also contains its share of what seems like research gone awry—like Oliver Lake's "Zaki" (which is inhibited by the relentless hovering of Michael Jackson's strangely synthesized guitar) and Roscoe Mitchell's "Chant" (an exercise in marathon circular breathing that walks the line between exhilarating and annoying)—but at the same time houses a couple of the collection's most outstanding selections. One of these, Jimmy Lyons' "Push Pull", builds a blocky yet intuitive marvel out of angular alto strokes, minimal percussion and Karen Borca's rich, woodsy bassoon. The other highlight of the third disc, and perhaps the entire set, is the return of Sunny Murray and the Untouchable Factor for the 17-minute "Something's Cookin'". Beginning as a fragile web supported by Murray's cymbal whispers, the mood expands through the otherworldly plateaus spun by Jamal's vibes and a kinetic tenor/alto dialogue between Murray and Lancaster—only to finish on the spiritual edge where Hopkins' bowed levitations meet Lancaster's primordial flute.

Beyond all of this music—which, even with the few unsuccessful pieces adds up to nothing less than essential—adding to the collection's value is the set's booklet with archival photographs, poster reproductions and critic Howard Mandel's historical/contextual essay on the loft scene and its greater significance. No self-respecting listener of free jazz should go without hearing these sessions, as they document a period in the music's history that, until now, has been severely neglected. ~ Scott Hreha

Sidney Bechet - Volume 8: 1940 (Masters Of Jazz)

With Volume 8 of the always excellent Masters Of Jazz series, we join our hero just as the "New Orleans Revival" is getting some rhythm, and find him with an excellent backing band comprised of NOLA acolytes like Muggsy Spanier and modern (for 1940) players like Carmen Mastren of the Tommy Dorsey outfit. We also hear a session - described as "one of the most vital of his whole career", and "one of the most famous and most controversial in the life of our hero" - which re-unites Bechet and Louis Armstrong some two decades after their respective careers diverged; a session also attended by Clarence Williams and Lil Hardin Armstrong, who does not perform but who arranged the horn parts. What a gal.

Just prior to this resurgence, Bechet had opened and operated a tailor shop and had signed an exclusive contract with RCA's Bluebird label. These recordings were made just before the contract took effect. Also in the background was Bechet's devoted friend , the sound engineer John D. Reid. Altogether, this is an uncommon and excellent Bechet release, featuring exceptional liner notes, Bechet new and new-again, a comic little impromptu sesson that ends with much laughter, and a re-recording of "Time On My Hands" comprised of two complete takes and 9 fragments. You are there.

Sidney Bechet (clarinet, soprano sax)
Louis Armstrong (trumpet)
Muggsy Spanier (cornet)
Luis Russell (piano)
Carmen Mastren (guitar)
Bernard Addison (guitar)
Wellman Braud (bass)
Zutty Singleton (drums)

1. Four Or Five Times
2. Sweet Lorraine
3. Lazy River
4. China Boy
5. China Boy
6. If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)
7. That's A-Plenty
8. That's A-Plenty
9. Squeeze Me
10. Sweet Sue, Just You
11. Ain't Misbehavin'
12. Perdido Street Blues
13. 2:19 Blues
14. Down In Honky Tonk Town
15. Down In Honky Tonk Town
16. Coal Cart Blues
17. Time On My Hands

Ruby Braff & Roger Kellaway - Inside & Out

...Kellaway's next sparring partner was an old hand at stripped-down duets, cornetist Ruby Braff -- he of the Ellis Larkins and Dick Hyman connection -- and Braff seems to encourage Kellaway's out-there side more frequently on this all-standards CD. Terse and to the point, almost offhand in his penchant for placing odd notes in the strangest places, Braff's cornet opens holes in the texture for Kellaway to explore his freely eclectic muse. A highly unorthodox "I Got Rhythm" gives vent to a spectacular near-Tatum-esque outburst from Roger, and there are streaks of Romantic, Impressionistic, and contemporary classical pianism, boogie-woogie, and of course, stride. Yet Braff has his sweet moments too, as on "Memories of You," where he sets Kellaway off in his nostalgic All in the Family mode. The cover photo speaks volumes about the music within this package -- a pensive, dour, laconic Braff and a jaunty-hatted, inviting, perhaps slightly mischievous Kellaway.
— Richard S. Ginell

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Wind - Kayhan Kalhor

The Wind
Kayhan Kalhor | ECM (2006)

By Budd Kopman

In an exquisite moment on Kayhan Kalhor's last recorded collaboration, The Rain (ECM, 2003), tabla player Sandeep Das hits an "out" note on his tuned drum. This momentarily shocks Kalhor and sitarist Shujaat Khan, but soon brings a smiling murmur when he repeats it as if to say, "I meant that." The two soloists, Kalhor (from Iran) and Khan (from Northern India) had been blending their related but distinct musical traditions, battling while creating long, mystical and spiritual waves of sound. This one note caused the men to step back, before they plunged forward again.

The Wind is Kalhor's second musical journey outside of his native land, this time to Turkey to meet and learn from the premier baglama (saz) master, Erdal Erzincan. Kalhor plays kamanche (Iranian spike fiddle), which is usually bowed, and thus contrasts with the plucked sounds of both the sitar and oud-like baglama. Kalhor explains, as the proactive member of the project, that while he wishes to learn a new tradition, he also desires to bring a new aesthetic to his partner. Contemporary Turkish music tends to be based on song and vocals and thus is more limited than what Kalhor wanted to do or Erzincan was used to. However, Erzincan did not hesitate to jump whole-heartedly into the void, resulting in this exquisite record.

Made up of twelve unnamed "Parts" that run into each other, The Wind is really one long improvisation that rises and falls, inhales and exhales as Kalhor and Erzincan become one musician with one mind. Kalhor explains that he told Erzincan, "I'm looking for something that departs from nothing and then goes into developing material and then goes into something else really improvised. Maybe we'll go for a climax in terms of melody and energy and keep it there…. And I'm looking at this for a form for maybe an hour of music."

As with "The Rain," Kalhor seems to follow as much as he leads, which only means that his partners took his desire for a new form to heart. Indeed, Erzincan sounds on fire and totally at ease. Not only did he respond to Kalhor's statement of purpose with, "I haven't done that before, but I would like to do this," but he rose to the occasion, displaying not only virtuosity in the uncommon finger-style that he developed, but a command of the long improvised form that "surprised and delighted" Kalhor.

The record feels like one giant meditation, and an extremely strong feeling of tension is held for a long time, which might strain some listeners' attentive abilities. However, if you can let go and allow the music to wash over you, the hour will fly by.

Track listing: Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV; Part V; Part VI; Part VII; Part VIII; Part IX; Part X; Part XI; Part XII.

Personnel: Kayhan Kalhor: kamancheh (Iranian spike fiddle); Erdal Erzincan: baglama (Turkish oud-like instrument).

Mal Waldron - Black Glory

This CD reissues one of the first Enja recordings, a trio outing for pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Jimmy Woode and drummer Pierre Favre. Waldron has continued to evolve through the decades while keeping his basic sound. A master at using repetition and brooding chords, Waldron is in excellent form on five of his originals plus Woode's brief "M.C," playing with a knowledge of the avant-garde but still connected to the hard bop tradition. ~ Scott Yanow

Mal Waldron (piano)
Jimmy Woode (bass)
Pierre Favre (drums)

1. M.C.
2. Sieg Haile
3. La Gloire Du Noir
4. The Call
5. Rock My Soul

Cecil Taylor - Live In Bologna

Having suffered the passing of longtime musical partner Jimmy Lyons just a year prior, pianist Cecil Taylor enlisted alto saxophonist and flute player Carlos Ward as a replacement for a series of European dates in 1987. Filling out the group were percussionist Thurman Barker and violinist Leroy Jenkins (both veterans of Chicago's trailblazing AACM free jazz collective), as well as bassist William Parker. The new group members proved to be up to Taylor's capricious and galvanizing ways on this Bologna concert recording, not only providing sympathetic support for the pianist's expansive explorations, but also creating uniquely improvised statements of their own. They maintain a high standard throughout the 90-minute concert (the CD version has been edited down for time limitations), shifting from frenetic, full-ensemble runs to slow, primordial stretches of music-making. Barker particularly stands out, adding a multitude of textures and colors on marimba and a variety of other percussion instruments, while Jenkins also impresses with violin work that matches Taylor's own protean playing. For his part, Ward might not be up to the incisive work Lyons produced during his 20-year tenure with Taylor, but he turns in enough engaging statements to blend in nicely with the others. Although this is a great Taylor release, certainly essential for fans, Live in Bologna might not be the best disc for newcomers. Curious listeners should start with either of Taylor's mid-'60s Blue Note discs (Unit Structures and Conquistador), or check out later titles like 1986's live solo piano recording For Olim and his A&M trio date In Florescence. ~ Stephen Cook

Cecil Taylor (piano)
William Parker (bass)
Carlos Ward (reeds)
Leroy Jenkins (violin)
Thurman Barker (marimba, drums)

1. Live In Bologna

Bologna: Nov. 3, 1987

Territory Band 6 with Fred Anderson - Collide

Territory Band 6 with Fred Anderson - Collide

Part 1 - 10:39
Part 2 - 9:49
Part 3 - 7:24
Part 4 - 11:13
Part 5 - 12:55

Axel Doerner - trumpets
Per-Åke Holmlander - tuba
Lasse Marhaug - Electronics
Paul Lytton - Percussion
Paal Nilssen-Love- Percussion
Jim Baker - Piano
Fredrik Ljungkvist - baritone, tenor
Fred Anderson - tenor
Dave Rempis - alto, tenor
Ken Vandermark - tenor, Bb clarinet
Kent Kessler - bass
Fred Longberg-Holm - cello
David Stackenäs - guitars

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jimmy Dorsey - Contrasts

The elder Dorsey brother was a saxophonist of the highest technical accomplishment, though it tended to lead him to merely show off on many of the records he made as a sessionman in the '20s. The band he formed in 1935 after splitting up with his brother was a commercial dance unit rather than any kind of jazz orchestra, but the group could swing when Dorsey wanted it to, and there was some impeccable section-playing, particularly from the trombones. ~ Penguin Guide

This CD puts the emphasis on the Jimmy Dorsey orchestra's jazz sides rather than the vocal best-sellers. Popular singer Helen O'Connell does make three appearances (including the hit "Tangerine"), but most of these selections are instrumentals, with Dorsey's alto and clarinet in outstanding form (it was easy to forget how talented an instrumentalist he was during these commercial years). Most of the other fine soloists are lesser names, although they include future bandleaders Ray McKinley (on drums) and pianist Freddie Slack. Highlights are "Parade of the Milk Bottle Caps," "I Got Rhythm," "John Silver," "Ducks in Upper Sandusky," "Contrasts" (Dorsey's theme), and "King Porter Stomp," although there isn't a weak track on this release. Recommended -- this is Dorsey's definitive set. ~ Scott Yanow

Jimmy Dorsey (alto sax)
Freddie Slack (piano)
Johnny Guarnieri (piano)
Herbie Haymer (tenor sax)
Skeets Herfurt (tenor sax)
All manner of others

1. Parade Of The Milk Bottle Caps
2. In A Sentimental Mood
3. Stompin' At The Savoy
4. I Got Rhythm
5. I Can't Face The Music
6. Don't Be That Way
7. I Cried For You
8. John Silver
9. The Darktown Strutter's Ball
10. Dusk In Upper Sandusky
11. All Of Me
12. Contrasts
13. Dolemite
14. Turn Left
15. Turn Right
16. When The Sun Comes Out
17. Charleston Alley
18. Tangerine
19. Sorghum Switch
20. King Porter Stomp

Monday, November 23, 2009

Art Ensemble Of Chicago - Ancient To The Future

Considered by some to be the Art Ensemble's "pop" record, this album is also one of the very best from the latter portion of their career. Aside from the opening medley of Don Moye's percussion-laden "Sangaredi" and Joseph Jarman's lovely, soulful "Blues for Zen," the record consists of cover versions of great black music "hits" from Ellington to Fela. By and large, the renditions are both utterly respectful of their sources and inspired in their discovery of hitherto untapped reserves of beauty therein. Bowie's mute manipulation on "Creole Love Call" would stun many a detractor, strutting imperiously over Favor's plangent and deep tones. Mitchell's gutbucket tenor solo on Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine" gets down and dirty as the group riffs with sensuous abandon behind him. The band would later include reggae-influenced numbers in their recordings with regular frequency, but their version of "No Woman No Cry" is perhaps their highest achievement in that genre. Bowie, who lived for a while in Jamaica, is entirely at home here, his trumpet never sounding richer or more relaxed. But the real payoff, after a fun dust-up with "Purple Haze," is Fela Kuti's "Zombie." Moye sets up and maintains an impossibly furious tempo throughout the song, providing, with Favors, a powerfully surging underpinning that allows the soloists to tear into it without restraint. While Mitchell serves up one of his wonderful, willfully against the grain alto solos, Jarman's tenor soars righteously above the fray for some delicious counterpoint, bringing this fine album to a riveting and exhilarating conclusion. ~ Brian Olewnick

Lester Bowie (percussion, trumpet)
Joseph Jarman (synthesizer, saxophones, percussion, clarinet)
Roscoe Mitchell (flute, saxophones, percussion)
Malachi Favors (bass, percussion)
Famoudou Don Moye (percussion, drums)
Bahnamous Lee Bowie (synthesizer)

1. Sangaredi/Blues for Zen
2. Creole Love Call
3. These Arms of Mine
4. No Woman, No Cry
5. Purple Haze
6. Zombie

Sunday, November 22, 2009

BN LP 5030 | Lou Donaldson/Clifford Brown - New Faces/New Sounds

Clifford Brown (tp) Lou Donaldson (as) Elmo Hope (p) Percy Heath (b) Philly Joe Jones (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, June 9, 1953

BN489-1 tk.2 Bellarosa
BN490-3 tk.6 Carvin' The Rock
BN491-1 tk.8 Cookin'
BN492-0 tk.9 Brownie Speaks
BN493-0 tk.10 De-Dah
BN494-0 tk.11 You Go To My Head
** also issued on Blue Note (J) BRP 8036.

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

Track Of The Day

Albert Ammons - 1946-1948 (Chronological 1100)

Here's Albert with his son Gene.

Here's vibrant proof that virtually any melody could be heated up and hammered out into an enjoyable boogie-woogie stomp. "Deep in the Heart of Texas," "Margie," "Roses of Picardy," "You Are My Sunshine," "Sheik of Araby," "When You And I Were Young, Maggie," and "Twelfth Street Rag" were all fair game for Albert Ammons' eight-to-the-bar gyrations. The twangy electrified guitar of Ike Perkins maintained rhythmic velocity with well-timed kicks and struts. On August 6, 1947, Ammons' Rhythm Kings quartet was fortified by the presence of Albert's son -- tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons -- and trumpeter Marvin Randolph. The pianist sounds deliberately old-fashioned during the introduction to W.C. Handy's hit of 1914, "St. Louis Blues." When the horns chime in during the bridge, everyone's rolling in a solid groove. Then Gene takes over, sounding majestically hip. This mood is continued and expanded on the flip side, "Shufflin' the Boogie," which is a rocker. "S.P. Blues" cooks just a bit hotter, and Gene wails up a storm. "Hiroshima" is this band's version of "Nagasaki," another goofy 1930s pop song turned jazz jam standard. Given what had happened to both cities in August of 1945, the retitling seems grimly playful. This session is perfectly symmetrical, with two steamy up-to-date boogies sandwiched between old standards. The Albert-and-Gene father-and-son combination is very exciting, and should be better known than it seems to be, even among seasoned jazz heads. "In a Little Spanish Town" sounds like a premonition of Professor Longhair's own Louisiana approach to the boogie-woogie, and compares well with Lester Young's version recorded in March of 1951. "Tuxedo Boogie" begins with a guitar lick that would eventually surface as "Shake Your Money Maker." Israel Crosby plays his upright bass on all six sessions, and the final date introduces a fine alto sax player by the name of Riley Hampton. These are the final sessions of Albert Ammons, preserved for posterity on Mercury Records. He passed away in Chicago on December 2, 1949, at the age of 42. ~ arwulf arwulf

Albert Ammons (piano)
Gene Ammons (tenor sax)
Ike Perkins (guitar)
Israel Crosby (bass)
Armand Jackson (drums)

1. Kilroy Boogie
2. Deep In The Heart Of Texas Boogie
3. Sweet Patootie Boogie
4. Twelfth Street Boggie
5. St. Louis Blues
6. Shufflin' The Boogie
7. S.P. Blues
8. Hiroshima
9. Roses Of Picardy
10. Sheik Of Araby
11. You Are My Sunshine
12. In A Little Spanish Town
13. Margie
14. Tuxedo Boogie
15. Mr. Bell Boogie
16. Bear Den Boogie
17. Rhythm Boogie
18. Ammons Stomp
19. Baltimore Breakdown
20. When You And I Were Young, Maggie
21. The Clipper

Freddie Hubbard Songbook

Freddie Hubbard with New Jazz Composers Octet - New Colors

"I met David Weiss a couple of years ago. He's from North Texas State. He had a rehearsal band [New Jazz Composers Octet] in New York, and he had been writing out a lot of my compositions and arranging them. He said he'd like to get together and have me play some of my material with the group. At first it was only supposed to be a one-time thing, but we're going to be working together the next couple of years until I get back strong again on my horn. They appreciate my music and give it a good feeling like when I was playing with Elvin Jones. They inspired me to start back playing again. This is an opportunity to let some of the more serious kids play this music and have it arranged for them. Craig Handy and I did a record with Betty Carter (Droppin' Things, Verve 1990) years ago. I always liked his playing. Same with Joe Chambers--he had played some of these songs with me before. I brought in Kenny Garrett and Javon Jackson as guest soloists. Those are some of the musicians I really enjoy playing with. They've played in my previous bands, they know me, and they know my style. They came in and helped me out quite a bit. I'm very happy to have made this CD." Excerpt from an interview with Freddie Hubbard,

1 One of Another Kind Hubbard 8:00
2 Blue Spirits Hubbard 9:03
3 Blues for Miles Hubbard 6:31
4 Dizzy's Connotations Hubbard 8:43
5 True Colors Hubbard 5:06
6 Red Clay Hubbard 8:19
7 Osie Mae Hubbard 6:09
8 Inner Space Corea 7:45

Freddie Hubbard (Flugelhorn), David Weiss (trumpet), Craig Handy (tenor sax), Myron Walden (alto sax on tracks 1, 2, 5, 8), Ted Nash (alto sax on tracks 3, 4, 6, 7), Luis Bonilla (trombone on tracks 1-7), Steve Davis (trombone on track 8), Chris Karlic (baritone sax), Xavier Davis (piano), Dwayne Burno (bass), Joe Chambers (drums on tracks 1, 2, 5, 8), Idris Muhammad (drums on tracks 3, 4, 6, 7), Kenny Garrett (alto sax on track 3), Javon Jackson (tenor sax on track 4)

Recorded October 18 & December 4, 2000
2001 Hip Bop 8026

Freddie Hubbard with New Jazz Composers Octet - On the Real Side

The Hub is back. To herald Freddie Hubbard's triumphant return to the scene, at age 70, Times Square Records will nationally release on June 24 On The Real Side, his first outing as a leader in seven years. Again backed by The New Jazz Composers Octet, which accompanied the iconic trumpeter on his 2001 release New Colors, Hubbard revisits some of his own classic tunes from yesteryear, ambitiously re-arranged by trumpeter David Weiss, trombonist Steve Davis and bassist Dwayne Burno of the NJCO. And while Hubbard finds himself unable to play for long stretches these days - the result of a split lip that became infected when he refused to curtail a series of engagements during the '90s - he exudes plenty of soul on “SkyDive, “ “Gibraltar, “ the hard boppish “Life Flight, “ the uptempo blues “Theme For Kareem, “ the rhythmically intricate “Take It To The Ozone" and his most frequently covered number, the lyrical waltz-time vehicle “Up Jumped Spring." Hubbard also contributes one new original, the loping soul-jazz number “On The Real Side, “ which features guest guitarist Russell Malone.

Freddie again plays flugelhorn exclusively throughout On The Real Side, as he did on New Colors. And while the dazzling speed, stunning high note facility and uncanny endurance may be diminished, the phrasing is still quintessentially Hubbard. “I can't expect myself to play like I was when I was 30, “ he says. “Sometimes I want to bash it, play hard, but you can't do it. I have come to the realization as to what I can do a couple of choruses and get out."

At the peak of his powers, no trumpeter on the planet played longer, higher, and faster than Freddie Hubbard, and no one exuded as much confidence and swagger on the bandstand as he did on a nightly basis. The list of sessions that he played on during a golden period of jazz from 1960 to 1965 contains several classic recordings: Art Blakey & The Jazz Messenger's Free For All, Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz, Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch, Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth, John Coltrane's Ascension, Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage and Empyrean Isles, Wayne Shorter's Speak No Evil, Max Roach's Drums Unlimited. Add to this prodigious output Hubbard's playing on a string of important Blue Note recordings by the likes of Hank Mobley, Lou Donaldson, Jackie McLean, Dexter Gordon, Tina Brooks, Duke Pearson, Sam Rivers, Bobby Hutcherson and Andrew Hill, along with his own impressive dates as a leader for Blue Note and Atlantic in the '60s and CTI in the '70s, and it's easy to see why Hubbard is regarded today as part of trumpet royalty.

Decades of Herculean trumpet work have taken their toll on Freddie's chops. In late 1992 his top lip popped and later became infected. A biopsy was taken and cancer was ruled out, but Hubbard was left with upper lip tissue so sore he was unable to play with the same slashing attack and killer abandon he was famous for. “It's really something when you lose your chops like that, “ says Hubbard. “You feel like a motherless child. You can't do it like you used to. But now I'm at that age when I have to think more about what I'm going play instead of just running all over the horn. You gotta play with your soul instead of your chops."

Hubbard admits there was a time period during the '90s when he was so frustrated that he was ready to give it all up, content to never play trumpet again and just live off his royalties. But he was coaxed back onto the scene by The New Jazz Composer Octet's trumpeter and arranger David Weiss, who gave the jazz elder a new lease on life. “David saved me, man, “ says Hubbard. “He really encouraged me to play again. I wanted to give up but David told me, 'There ain't nobody left from your era except you. So you must be here for some reason.' So the cat inspires me to go ahead and do something. He's arranging my music, keeping me alive out here. And he also got me to warm up the horn with long tones before playing it. Back in the day, I used to just pick up it up and start blowing like crazy. But I've learned that the trumpet is like a car in the winter. You can't just jump in it and drive off. You gotta warm it up first."

Hubbard adds that he's been very encouraged by the response from audiences at his recent gigs with The New Jazz Composers Octet. “People have been showing me a lot of love since I've been back. That makes you want to keep going." Along with hip and ongoing lip problems, Hubbard has also suffered a series of physical setbacks over the years. He's recently had surgery for a pinched nerve in his neck, had a non-cancerous growth taken out of his lung and a few years back suffered congestive heart failure. But he's a survivor. And with The New Jazz Composers Octet in his corner, he's determined to carry on playing. On The Real Side represents another step on the comeback trail for the jazz trumpet great. -- All About Jazz

1 Lifeflight Hubbard 8:44
2 Up Jumped Spring Hubbard 7:07
3 Theme for Kareem Hubbard 6:35
4 On the Real Side Hubbard 6:25
5 Take It to the Ozone Hubbard 7:37
6 Skydive Hubbard 9:37
7 Gibraltar Hubbard 6:20

David Weiss: trumpet; Myron Walden: alto sax; Jimmy Greene: tenor and soprano sax; Steve Davis: trombone; Norbert Stachel: baritone sax and flute; Xavier Davis: piano; Dwayne Burno: bass; E.J. Strickland: drums: Craig Handy: tenor sax, flute; Russell Malone: guitar

Recorded December 19-20, 2007
2008 Times Square Records 1810

Clifford Hayes - And The Dixieland Jug Blowers

Clifford Hayes came from a musical family that performed together as a string band in Barren County, Kentucky, before moving to Louisville's hot music scene around 1912, when Clifford was 17. Local jug master Earl McDonald hired the youth to play fiddle with his Louisville Jug Band, and soon the group was playing major engagements in New York City and Chicago. His glimpse of the big time and exposure to the exploding jazz scene fired Hayes's fantasies of fame and fortune far beyond his role as country fiddler in a jug band. Tall, handsome, and charming, Hayes became a notorious swindler, which led to his breakup with McDonald until their reunion with the Dixieland Jug Blowers, a supergroup formed by record-company suits. These unique performances transcend the typical skiffle riffs of most street bands with a jazz-tinged sense of style, particularly when Earl Hines sits in on "Everybody Wants My Tootelum." ~ Alan Greenberg

A shadowy figure in jazz and blues history, Clifford Hayes was a violinist, but was more significant as a leader of recording sessions. He recorded with Sara Martin (1924), and often teamed up with banjoist Cal Smith in early jug bands including the Old Southern Jug Band, Clifford's Louisville Jug Band, the well-known Dixieland Jug Blowers (1926-1927), and Hayes' Louisville Stompers (1927-1929). One of the Dixieland Jug Blowers' sessions featured the great clarinetist Johnny Dodds, while pianist Earl Hines was a surprise star with the otherwise primitive Louisville Stompers (a jug-less group with a front line of Hayes' violin and Hense Grundy's trombone). Clifford Hayes' last recordings were in 1931, and all of his sessions (plus those of some other jug bands) are available on four RST CDs. ~ Scott Yanow

Jug band material in the hokum and country blues variety. This one goes about as far to the margin as any jug band ever journeyed, thanks to Clifford Hayes' violin and Earl McDonald's jug. ~ Ron Wynn

Clifford Hayes (violin)
Earl Hines (piano)
Cal Smith (guitar)

1. Please Don't Holler, Mama
2. Try And Treat Her Right
3. You're Ticklin' Me (take 1)
4. Love Blues
5. Blue Guitar Stomp
6. If You Can't Make It Easy, Sweet Mama
7. National Blues (take 3)
8. Barefoot Stomp
9. Bye Bye Blues
10. Hey! Am I Blue?
11. Clef Club Stomp
12. Dance Hall Shuffle
13. You'd Better Leave Me Alone, Sweet Papa
14. Everybody Wants My Tootelum

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Barney Kessel - Red Hot And Blues

Another Okie jazz musician. What do they put in the water down there? One of my favorite guitar works is Howard Roberts' version of Relaxin' At Camarillo, but Kessel, it must be said, was on the original. That dopey picture of him in Guitar Player made me not really interested in finding out much about him. You think me a fool? I ain't arguing.

One of guitarist Barney Kessel's final recordings before a stroke put him out of action, this is an excellent quintet session with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Ben Riley. Three of Kessel's originals (a pair of blues and a bossa nova) alternate with four standards and Laurindo Almeida's dedication to the guitarist ("Barniana") on this well-paced and consistently swinging set; the uptempo version of "By Myself" is a highpoint. ~ Scott Yanow

Barney Kessel (guitar)
Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone)
Kenny Barron (piano)
Rufus Reid (bass)
Ben Riley (drums)

1. It's You Or No One
2. Barniana
3. You've Changed
4. Blues For Bird
5. Rio
6. Messin' With the Blues
7. I'm Glad There Is You
8. By Myself
9. Blues Echoes

Sessions- Violin COncerto- Wolpe-Symphony

Roger Sessions (1896-1985)
Violin Concerto (1935) .............................................. (28:53)
1. I – Largo e tranquillo ................................ (9:04)
2. II – Scherzo (allegro) ................................ (5:55)
3. III – Romanza (andante) ........................... (3:53)
4. IV – Molto vivace e sempre con fuoco ..... (9:53)
Paul Zukofsky, violin; Orchestre Philharmonique de l’Office de la Radio diffusion-Television Française; Gunther Schuller, conductor
Stefan Wolpe (1902-1972)
Symphony (1956) ...................................................... (25:53)
5. I – Not too slow ........................................ (5:11)
6. II – Charged .............................................. (8:00)
7. III – Alive ................................................. (12:34)
Orchestra of the 20th Century; Arthur Weisberg, conductor
Total playing time: 54:55

Cecil Taylor - Legba Crossing

Perhaps it would be easier to analyze this music intellectually, to report on what happens between the instrumentalists mechanically and give a play by play. But it would be selling out what Cecil Taylor tried to accomplish here. The simple facts are that for one month in the summer of 1988, Taylor lived in Berlin and took part in an ambitious musical project that had him doing everything: playing solo concerts on both sides of the Berlin Wall, playing duets, creating a workshop (this CD), and playing a pair of concerts with 17-piece jazz orchestras made up entirely of European musicians. This workshop is far more successful than either of the orchestra dates, due in part to the extensive rehearsals. Among the participants were Paul Plimley, Georg Wolf, and Uwe Martin. Legba Crossing is a conceptual work, built from ground up, utilizing specifically the considerable young talent he had in front of him. The piece is not the careening, chaotic, free for all one might expect. There is a dynamic and dramatic control Taylor has over the entire ensemble. There are numerous vocalists who pipe in strange poetry and lyrics amid a wash of strings and winds. The reeds and percussion hold forth not as solo instruments so much but as spiritual mainstays, keeping the music rooted in a kind of jazz that hadn't been heard even in Europe for a very long time. Plimley's piano (Taylor's only present as director and in sotto voce) is the steel frame around which everything else swirls and breathes. This music is moving, full of pathos and emotion, but also nuance and figurative speech in both voice and instrumental utterance. Taylor's attempt to showcase the location where the gatekeeper (in Voudon) himself crosses between worlds is a wild, but hardly inaccessible ride. Though it is thoroughly outside in terms of presentation and execution, it is also penetrable and spiritually uplifting. When waltz time and 12-bar blues enter the performance, it becomes obvious that Taylor, for once, is attempting to share his musical and social iconography with the rest of us. What a treat. ~ Thom Jurek

Cecil Taylor (voice)
Ove Volquartz (soprano and tenor sax, bassclarinet)
Uwe Martin (bass)
Joachim Gies (alto sax)

1. Legba Crossing

Clyde McPhatter - The Forgotten Angel

In the 50s, Clyde McPhatter's voice was ubiquitous along the radio dial. He dominated R&B and the rock stations. He founded the Drifters, then quit them to follow a solo career. His string of hits is legendary. Here's the introduction to his lengthy biography on AMG: "Clyde McPhatter was one of the most influential R&B singers of the '50s and early '60s. In his own time, his name and voice loomed so much larger than that of the group the Drifters, which he founded, that it took five years for them to recover from his departure. McPhatter was idolized by Black audiences as few singers before or since ever were, and for almost 15 years helped define rhythm & blues and its transformation into soul. In a way, he was the most improbable of R&B stars, a gentle high tenor who, superficially at least, seemed more suited to the angelic strains of gospel music. And his name gave some potential managers and agents pause — what kind of R&B singer, forget a star, was named Clyde? And Clyde McPhatter seemed like a backwoods burlesque of a Black American name. But when he sang, the doubts and the laughter all disappeared — even on his live album from the Apollo Theater, recorded during his declining years, when he describes physical lust in the hit "Ta Ta," he makes it feel urgent and real, and utterly convincing."

McPhatter died in the early 70s. Atlantic sat on his recorded legacy for years, but releases are now emerging. This 2-CD set is a good place to start. The 40 page booklet contains some nice photos and an extensive discography.

Roger Kellaway & Red Mitchell - Life's a Take

"If you can dance to this one, there's something wrong with your feet."
- Roger Kellaway

A beautiful set, full of the humor that makes such high-end artistry even better.

Review by Richard S. Ginell

To inaugurate Concord's duo series at the Maybeck Recital Hall, Carl Jefferson got the idea of pairing Roger Kellaway with Red Mitchell, who had played together now and then since the 1960s. The fascinating thing about the two is that Kellaway started his career as a bassist and Mitchell started his as a pianist, so naturally there is total empathy at work here, with Mitchell intertwining his instrument with Kellaway's piano as an equal melodic partner instead of a mere time keeper. With a bass player, and a rambunctious one at that, feeding him lines, Kellaway is looser and more apt to flash streaks of wit -- which "It's a Wonderful World" does in spades -- than on his Maybeck solo recital. His technique, as always, is dazzling, erudite, and all over the keyboard. Although of course no one suspected it at the time, this turned out to be Mitchell's last recording -- he died of a stroke less than six months later -- and his ironic musings about his jaunty self-penned title track, "Life's a take, and you only get one of them," make this session a bittersweet one.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chuck Redd Remembers Barney Kessel - Happy All the Time (2005)

Vibraphonist Chuck Redd came to prominence as part of the Charlie Byrd Trio and made a wonderful contribution to one of Byrd's last albums, Au Courant. Here, Redd pays tribute to Barney Kessel, another great guitarist who came to the forefront in the 1950s. He's joined by two guitarists, Howard Alden and Gene Bertoncini, but neither make their appearance before the fourth cut. Redd's vibraphone, then, takes the place of the guitar on "Laura" and "Cry Me a River," providing a mellow, fluid reference to Kessel's bop-based style. Redd is joined by a number of players, but only bassist Hassan Shakur joins him on every track. Alternately, pianists Monty Alexander and Robert Redd appear on three-quarters of the tracks, and drummer Jeff Hamilton plays on all but two of the selections. The collection really takes off when Alden joins Redd for an upbeat take of "On a Slow Boat to China" for an incendiary workout. The two players are a remarkable match on cuts like Kessel's "Swedish Pastry" and "64 Bars of Wilshire." Bertoncini, on the other hand, provides a much lighter, acoustic touch, reminding one of Redd's old partner, Byrd. Remembers Barney Kessel is a good and enjoyable recording, and folks will want to stick around for the ten-minute take on "Slow Burn" at the very end. - Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Chuck Redd (vibes, drums)
Monty Alexander, Robert Redd (piano)
Howard Alden, Gene Bertoncini (guitar)
Hassan Shakur (bass)
Jeff Hamilton (drums)
  1. Happy All the Time
  2. Laura
  3. Cry Me a River
  4. On a Slow Boat to China
  5. Tenderly
  6. You're the One for Me
  7. Love Is Here to Stay
  8. Swedish Pastry
  9. Sweet Baby
  10. 64 Bars on Wilshire
  11. Li'l Darlin'
  12. Slow Burn
Recorded May 16-17, 2005

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Phalanx - Original Phalanx

Like the New York Art Quartet had done two decades before, Phalanx came and went in the mid-1980s, an ad-hoc supergroup that thrived and disappeared. Original Phalanx captures the quartet in a rumbling, springy glory, alight through James "Blood" Ulmer's craftily detuned guitar and the build-it-and-wobble-it rhythmic playing of bassist Sirone and drummer Rashied Ali. The star, though, is the late George Adams. His playing is inspired, swinging so hard and high that the musical registers turn to blurs. The band's tunes are vaguely Ornette Coleman-ish, in that they build off quick, melodic statements that sound at times like four-way solos. Then the band's off, Ulmer and Adams pursuing solo logic on one plane, the rhythm section on another. They peak on Adams's "Playground," which rings with poignancy and punch-it-up power. But Sirone's minor-key, episodic "Free Spirit" is likewise a work of genius, achieving a stellar balance of passion, intellect, and gusto. ~ Andrew Bartlett

George Adams (tenor sax, flute)
James Blood Ulmer (guitar)
Sirone (bass)
Rashied Ali (drums)

1. Song Number One
2. Free Spirit
3. House On 13th Street
4. Troublemaker
5. Angel Love
6. A Smile
7. Playground

Machito - Kenya

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

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

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

Don Sleet - All Members

There's a fine article about Sleet at Marc Myer's excellent blog, JazzWax.

This is one of the interesting things that become available when major labels are finished releasing their 12 versions of Giant Steps. Sleet was one of those very talented people that are on the margins of big time, and are both poised to and capable of making a breakthrough. It's neither perfect or flawless, but this is a very solid first effort from a guy who could have entered the front ranks.

"It's safe to say that most jazz lovers have never even heard of Don Sleet. The trumpeter died in obscurity in 1986, and 1961's little-known All Members is his only album as a leader. Produced by Orrin Keepnews, All Members demonstrates that he deserved a much higher profile. This fine hard bop date paints a consistently attractive picture of Sleet, who had a medium tone that was bigger than Miles Davis and Chet Baker but not as big as Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, or Lee Morgan. Nonetheless, Davis and Baker were prominent influences, as was Kenny Dorham (who also favored a medium-toned style of trumpeting). Another valid comparison is Art Farmer. But Sleet was an expressive, swinging player in his own right, and he shows himself to be a captivating soloist on two Clifford Jordan pieces ("The Hearing" and ("Brooklyn Bridge") as well as the familiar standards "But Beautiful," "Secret Love," and "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise." Also impressive is Sleet's exhilarating "Fast Company," which has a title that describes the people who join him on All Members. Although Sleet was obscure, you can't say that about tenor saxman Jimmy Heath, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Ron Carter, or drummer Jimmy Cobb -- all of them are major jazz artists, and all of them are present on this album. The phrase "fast company" also describes Keepnews, who is one of the most famous and prolific jazz producers of all time. In a perfect world, an album as strong as All Members (which Fantasy reissued on CD on its Original Jazz Classics imprint in 2001) wouldn't be so little known. But Sleet's obscurity doesn't make him any less appealing; All Members is a CD that bop lovers should savor." ~ Alex Henderson

Don Sleet (trumpet)
Jimmy Heath (tenor sax)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Ron Carter (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)

1. Brooklyn Bridge
2. Secret Love
3. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise
4. Fast Company
5. But Beautiful
6. All Members
7. The Hearing

Plaza Sound Studios, NY; March 16, 1961

John Coltrane - First Giant Steps

Here is a rarity of the first order, and one that rewards listening. It is the earliest surviving recording of John Coltrane (an earlier session with Benny Golson and the Bryant brothers was rejected at the time of recording) and features him playing alto sax, which he switched to from his first instrument - clarinet - under the influence of Johnny Hodges; whom he is heard playing with in a rare session less than a decade later. Trane solos on every track of the first session, which was a private recording made for the members of the Navy combo that he accompanies. It is not only his first surviving recording, but " ... also almost the only existing testimony of Trane playing alto sax." He can be heard on alto - but not soloing - on a Dinah Washington date somewhat later, and he also played some alto at the very end.

As a look at the tracklist will show, Trane had fallen under the spell of Charlie Parker at the time of these recordings, and the fact that he solos on all tracks makes for a remarkable sonic document. The later session, led by Hodges and full of Ellingtonians, was most likely a radio broadcast; it took place in Los Angeles in June of 1954 and was one of only three times Trane recorded that year, and all three times he was with Hodges. A year later he was playing with a guy named Miles Davis.

I've gotten a few things from this label, which has some true rarities but which, necessarily, can be taxing to listen to; this is the best of the ones I've heard so far, and when it comes to it, I've never regretted buying any of their other releases. Perhaps we'll revisit some of them soon.

John Coltrane (alto sax)
Dexter Culbertson (trumpet)
Norman Poulshock (piano)
Willie Stader (bass)
Joe Theimer (drums)
Benny Thomas (vocal)

1. Embraceable You
2. Ornithology
3. Sweet Miss
4. It's Only A Paper Moon
5. Sweet Lorraine
6. Ko Ko
7. Now's The Time
8. Hot House

John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Richie Powell (piano)
Emmett Berry (trumpet)
Lawrence Brown (trombone)
John Williams (bass)
Jimmy Johnson (drums)
unknown (vocal)

9. Thru For The Night
10. Castle Rock
11. Don't Blame Me
12. I've Got A Mind To Ramble Blues
13. Don't Cry Baby Blues
14. In A Mellow Tone
15. Burgundy Walk (aka Globetrotter)

Sirone - Artistry

James Newton (fl)
Bernard Fennell (aka Muneer Abdul Fataah) (cello)
Sirone (aka Norris Jones) (b)
Done Moye (dm, perc)

Release Year: 1980

1. Illusion Of Reality (Sirone)
2. Breath Of Life (Sirone)
3. Circumstances (Sirone)
4. Libido (Sirone)

Yusef Lateef - Yusef Lateef's Detroit, Latitude 42° 30' Longitude 83°

The copy I have is an Atlantic (Rhino) remastered 24bit version, look for this before the one issued by Collectibles.

After issuing the spiritually compelling and contemplatively swinging Complete Yusef Lateef in 1967, Dr. Yusef Lateef's sophomore effort for Atlantic shifted gears entirely. Lateef chose his old stomping grounds of Detroit for an evocative musical study of the landscape, people, and spirit and terrain. Lateef spent the late-'50s in the city recording for Savoy, and this recording captures the memory of a great city before it was torn apart by racial strife and economic inequality in 1967. There is no way to make a record that suggests Detroit without rhythm, and Lateef employs plenty of it here in his choice of musicians: conga players Ray Barretto and Norman Pride; Tootie Heath on percussion; Cecil McBee, Roy Brooks, and Bernard Purdie; electric bassist Chuck Rainey; electric guitarist Eric Gale; pianist Hugh Lawson; and a string quartet that included Kermit Moore. In other words, the same band from the Complete Yusef Lateef with some funky additions. The string section, as heard on the opener "Bishop School," "Belle Isle," "Eastern Market," and "Raymond Winchester" is far from the pastoral or classically seeking group of recordings past, but another rhythmic and melodic construct that delves deep into the beat and the almighty riff that this recording is so full of. For all of the soul-jazz pouring forth from the Blue Note and Prestige labels at the time, this album stood apart for its Eastern-tinged melodies on "Eastern Market"; the "Black Bottom," gutbucket, moaning bluesiness on "Russell and Elliot," with Gale and Lateef on tenor trading fours in a slowhanded, low-end groove; and the solid, Motown-glazed, rocking Latin soul of "Belle Isle." The album ends curiously with the nugget "That Lucky Old Sun," played with a back porch feeling, as if the urban-ness of the set, with all of its polyrhytmic intensity and raw soul, had to be tempered at the end of the day with a good-old fashioned sit in the yard as the city's energy swirled around beyond the borders of the fenced lot. Lateef blows a beautiful tenor here, uing a motif from Sonny Rollins' version of the tune and slides it all the way over to Benny Carter in its sheer lyricism. It's the perfect way to close one of Lateef's most misunderstood recordings. ~ Thom Jurek

Yusef Lateef (tenor sax, flute)
Snookie Young (trumpet)
Hugh Lawson (piano)
Thad Jones (trumpet)
Eric Gale (guitar)
Cecil McBee (bass)
Chuck Rainey (bass)
Bernard Purdie (drums)
Roy Brooks, Jr. (drums)
Ray Baretto (conga)
Albert "Tootie" Heath (percussion)

1. Bishop School
2. Livingston Playground
3. Eastern Market
4. Belle Isle
5. Russell And Elliot
6. Raymond Winchester
7. Woodward Avenue
8. That Lucky Old Sun

Oscar Peterson - Live at the Northsea Jazz Festival, 1980

This isn’t Jazz at the Philharmonic, but the feeling is much the same. A loose jam session of familiar standards (plus two ringers, of which more later) played by some of the best. The veterans, having done this many times before, look at each other and then proceed to give the people what they came to see. You hear challenges, actions and reactions, beauty and energy, all in this reissue of the 2-LP set. (Due to time constraints, one tune has been deleted. Worry not – there is plenty here to enjoy.)
With a sharp burst of sound, Peterson gets things started. He’s agile and bluesy and sets up a riff, on which Toots Thielemans states the theme of “Caravan”. He sticks to the theme, which at times he drawls. Joe Pass comes out with long angular lines and rapid fills, some rhythmic plucks, and a dash of Wes Montgomery, all in short order. Peterson starts slowly, then he runs a prodigious line of high notes, a hint of stride, and a handful of chords by the time the Toots comes back. The harmonica is tentative, then launches a great stream of notes which Peterson answers with high-pitched bleeps. Both players calm down, and Toots slowly drifts away as the tune ends – or so the audience thinks. With the applause still hot, Peterson restates the theme, this time really fast. O.P. has a brief solo which impresses me more than his first effort, Pass a short lick, Peterson strikes again with great fury, and now it does end, satisfying the audience thoroughly. And me as well.
For a jam, the sound here is very together, and no wonder – these men know each other very well. Pass and Niels Pedersen were in O.P.’s ‘Seventies trio, and all four were in a Peterson “Big Six” that jammed at Montreux in 1975. What you get from this familiarity is something else – little competitions and tests of wit. “I’m sometimes merely the accompanist,” Peterson once said. “…other times we challenge each other, improvisationally.” You hear this in the Pedersen solo of “Straight, No Chaser.” In the midst of a great walking bass, Toots utters two tiny squeaks, which I thought were feedback. Peterson responds with two high notes, and they trade back and forth, all while the bass is still soloing! Things like that keep the players on their toes, and the only winner in such battles is the audience.
Toots gets wistful on “There’s No You” which is caressed by thick chords from Pass and some restrained tinkles from Oscar. He has the bridge to himself, and he manages to sound quiet even when showering us with notes. Toots ends the theme tenderly, and Peterson gets the first solo, throwing in a bit of “Rhapsody in Blue.” His effort sounds like the bridge; pensive and vigorous at once. Pass, in his too-brief solo, shows us more Wes lines as he leads into Toots’ beautiful ending, sounding a note on which all musicians join him.
On “You Stepped Out Of a Dream”, we get Oscar’s full two-fisted piano for the first time, and it’s magnificent. A great wave of sound comes forth, and Pass’ comping is so energetic it sounds like a third hand on the piano. Toots gets his most intense so far, and after the theme Oscar resumes, returning to single note lines while crashing great chords here and there. His effort sends Pass sailing, with a solo as dextrous as Oscar’s. And then there’s Pedersen. His solo is even faster than Pass’, played with the agility of a guitar. I can only imagine the strength of his fingers. Everyone seems to solo during the group finish, and then the audience gets a long solo.
“City Lights”, composed by Peterson, is a graceful waltz. Oscar and Pass dance the theme together, then Peterson does much of his solo in double-time – or faster! Pass’ solo is simple, sticking close to the theme mostly. He then chords behind Pedersen’s strong solo, and the piano returns to close things up.
“I’m Old Fashioned” is a centerpiece to the album. Taken fast, with Toots especially lyrical, it hops around in merry fashion. Toots has his best solo here, and even indulges in some harmonica slides. Oscar keeps the mood intact; his hands move fast but they don’t take over the track – he also serves some juicy chords at the end of his solo. Pass shows us a little blues, and Toots returns; the song is easily his, and he cements his claim in his final statement.
The final cuts are slow, moody, and make a good contrast to the earlier efforts. “A Time For Love” is late-night music, Toots wailing along against a wispy guitar and distant chords. Oscar’s solo has lovely tremolos, and again the scattering of notes. Pass offers us a delicate construction, sad yet hopeful – it’s his best solo here. “Bluesology”, a Milt Jackson tune, has a slinky beat, and similar soft sound. Toots gets intense and Oscar responds in kind; the backing remains quiet. Peterson’s own solo starts simply, builds to his typical intensity, and ends in percussive chords. Pedersen’s solo is faster than anyone else’s, and is heard alone. Things get sadder with “Goodbye”, which is graced by Oscar’s strong opening and a mournful Toots, wringing all emotion from the theme. Pass’ tone sounds totally different here, and Oscar’s cascading solo does nothing to dispel the heavy sadness. And “There Is No Greater Love” returns to up-tempo, with Toots at his happiest. Os! car is also jaunty, and the notes fly off his fingers. This is probably his highlight of the set, and the Pass solo is equally good. It finishes the disc with a bang, and the audience is satisfied. I think you’ll be too.
John Barrett Jr.

01 Caravan (Irving Mills, Duke Ellington, Juan Tizol) 11:21
02 Straight, No Chaser (Thelonious Monk) 8:54
03 There's No You (Hal Hopper, Tom Adair) 6:35
04 You Stepped Out of a Dream (Nacio Herb Brown, Gus Kahn) 7:19
05 City Lights (Oscar Peterson) 6:36
06 I'm Old Fashioned (Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer) 6:10
07 A Time for Love (Johnny Mandel, Paul Francis Webster) 7:17
08 Bluesology (Milt Jackson) 6:57
09 Goodbye (Gordon Jenkins) 8:13
10 There Is No Greater (Love Isham Jones, Marty Symes) 8:14

Oscar Peterson piano
Jean "Toots" Thielemans harmonica
Joe Pass guitar
Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen bass

Recorded live at The Northsea Jazz Festival, The Hague, Holland, on July 13, 1980

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It was pointed out that we have been deficient in this genre. As Hobbes once asked Calvin: "What's the point of being cool if you can't wear a sombrero"?

Track Of The Day

Charles Mingus - Newport Rebels

The one positive accomplishment of the 1960 Newport Festival was the creation in rebellion of a musicians' festival at Cliff Walk Manor. As the "official" rites were ending because of ugly rioting in the streets several hundred people listening in calm and pleasure at Cliff Walk. The dissidents had been organized by Charlie Mingus and Max Roach in protest against the accelerating commercialization of the annual Ben-Hur-with-a-horn production at Freebody Park. (from the cover by Nat Hentoff).

In 1960 bassist Charles Mingus helped to organize an alternative Newport Jazz Festival in protest of Newport's conservative and increasingly commercial booking policy. The music on this LP (which has been reissued on CD) features some of the musicians who participated in Mingus's worthy if short-lived venture. Trumpeter Roy Eldridge performs three numbers with pianist Tommy Flanagan, Mingus and drummer Jo Jones; of greatest interest is "Mysterious Blues" for it adds trombonist Jimmy Knepper and the unique altoist Eric Dolphy successfully to the group. The other selections match up drummers Max Roach and Jo Jones with Roach's quintet (featuring trumpeter Booker Little) on "Cliff Walk" and feature singer Abbey Lincoln on "Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do." ~ Scott Yanow

Charles Mingus (bass)
Eric Dolphy (alto sax)
Booker Little (trumpet)
Kenny Dorham (piano)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Benny Bailey (trumpet)
Jimmy Knepper (trombone)
Julian Priester (trombone)
Walter Benton (tenor sax)
Peck Morrison (bass)
Max Roach (drums)
Jo Jones (drums)
Abbey Lincoln (vocal)

1. Mysterious Blues
2. Cliff Walk
3. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away)
4. 'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do
5. Me And You

Grachan Moncur III: Exploration

Trombonist Grachan Moncur III, who was a member of the Jazztet in the early 1960s, gained his greatest fame for his two Blue Note albums (Evolution and Some Other Stuff) which were quite adventurous. He also worked with Archie Shepp, became involved in free jazz and spent much of the 1970s and '80s as a music educator. Dental problems resulted in Moncur only playing once in a great while in the 1990s. He had been in obscurity for quite awhile when he was contacted by arranger Mark Masters for the Exploration project. Fortunately Moncur's playing proved to still be in his prime. Masters wrote sympathetic charts for many of the trombonist's finest pieces, utilizing an all-star nonet that could really dig into the inside/outside music. "Excursion," a very coherent three-minute free improvisation, is a change-of-pace and precedes the closing blues "Sonny's Back," a 1962 piece originally played by the Jazztet. This CD overall is very rewarding, a dream project for those who have long admired the underrated Grachan Moncur. The musicians have their solos, there are both written and improvised ensembles and Moncur plays wonderfully throughout. This set, which sums up Grachan Moncur's career definitively, is a gem. --Scott Yanow, AMG

Ralph Ellison once wrote a great essay in which he seemed to predict jazz’s ultimate dependence on a music industry driven (and subsidized) by a star system. The irony, Ellison suggested, is that jazz is largely created by anonymous musicians, who because they are "devoted to an art which traditionally thrives on improvisation [...] very often have their most original ideas enter the public domain almost as rapidly as they are conceived to be quickly absorbed into the thought and technique of their fellows."

There is a bittersweet implication here—as if it’s somehow nobler to be an unknown, poverty-stricken musician, and as if becoming a jazz celebrity inevitably involves selling out. But I don’t know if you could convince trombonist and composer Grachan Moncur of either of these propositions. Though he may agree that the star system is a horrible invention, he recently had the opportunity to reestablish his own reputation, and I can almost hear him thanking [insert the deity of your choice here] for that.

After all, until this chance came along, Moncur was coming very close to total obscurity—and from what I can tell, he wasn’t enjoying it, materially or philosophically. In the '60s, he had been a participant and leader in several stellar Blue Note sessions (now collected on a Mosaic box set), but he more or less hadn’t been heard from again until, well, last year. Why? It could be that his (smart) impulse to control his own publishing rights got him blacklisted by the Blue Note big wigs. Or maybe that blacklisting had something to do with his turn toward the avant garde. Or perhaps it was something else altogether— something even more painful (see Fred Jung’s AAJ interview with Moncur for several moving allusions). In any case, here at last is one of the rewards of a jazz culture that has become downright curatorial in recent years (a fact sometimes too-quickly decried by those of us who prefer our music in the clubs): at least we’re starting to value the contributions of lesser-known veterans.

To be sure, Moncur’s new album, Exploration, is markedly different from his '60s output. Here, he is dealing with a much larger ensemble (an octet featuring such varied personages as Gary Smulyan, Billy Harper, and Andrew Cyrille), for which Mark Masters’ compelling, dense arrangements are perfectly suited. True to its name, Exploration is not a simple repackaging of Moncur’s work, but, rather, a sincere statement of artistic growth (a noble thing any age, but particularly when you’re in your late 60s). A brief summary: "New Africa" is a gorgeous suite whose creation was apparently assisted by Moncur's wife, Tamam. "Sonny’s Back" weighs in on the "almost-bop" side of things and is named after Moncur’s friend, Sonny Rollins. And speaking of friends in high places, Moncur’s signature tune ("Monk in Wonderland") is named after another fellow traveler (you-know-who), who I suspect is his biggest influence. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing alto solo on this tune, incidentally. Thanks, Gary Bartz.) "Love and Hate" is strangely named; it sounds like all love to me (slow, mellow, sweet). And for the hardcore fan, "Excursion" is a more or less totally free several minutes.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Bottom line: welcome back, Grachan. We missed you. –Andrew Durkin, AAJ

1 Exploration Moncur 8:11
2 Monk in Wonderland Moncur 5:26
3 Love and Hate Moncur 8:48
4 New Africa: Queen Tamam/New Africa/Black Call/Ethiopian Market Moncur 9:54
5 When? Moncur 7:34
6 Frankenstein Moncur 6:59
7 Excursion Moncur 2:55
8 Sonny's Back Moncur 4:13

Grachan Moncur III, trombone; Mark Masters, arrangements;
Tim Hagans, trumpet;
John Clark, French Horn;
Dave Woodley, trombone;
Gary Bartz, alto sax;
Billy Harper, tenor sax;
Gary Smulyan, baritone sax;
Ray Drummond, bass;
Andrew Cyrille, drums

Recorded June 30, 2004
2004 Capri 74068

Bennie Wallace - Disorder at the Border

It's hard to believe that the saxophone once took a back seat to the trumpet and the cornet as a jazz instrument, but in fact, that was very much the case in the 1890s, 1900s, and 1910s. The rise of Coleman "Bean" Hawkins in the '20s, however, changed that; thanks to the popularity and visibility that Hawkins enjoyed as the tenor star of Fletcher Henderson's orchestra, saxophonists became incredibly prominent in jazz — and any jazz musician who is playing a saxophone today (be it tenor, alto, soprano, baritone, or bass) owes him a huge debt of gratitude. Bennie Wallace is well aware of that debt, which is why the tenor man salutes him with such enthusiasm on Disorder at the Border: The Music of Coleman Hawkins. Recorded live at the Berlin JazzFest in Germany on November 6, 2004, this 65-minute CD celebrates what would have been Hawkins' 100th birthday had he lived to see November 21, 2004 (the seminal tenor man died in 1969 at the age of 64). Disorder at the Border finds Wallace leading a nonet that consists of six horn players (including trumpeter Terell Stafford and trombonist Ray Anderson) and a rhythm section, with guitarist Anthony Wilson (who isn't part of the nonet) handling the arrangements. Stylistically, Wallace is quite different from Hawkins; while Hawkins is remembered for swing, classic jazz, and bop, Wallace is identified with post-bop and the avant-garde. But Hawkins has long influenced Wallace's tone (along with Ben Webster, Eric Dolphy, and John Coltrane, among others), and Wallace's adoration of Hawkins' playing is evident on two Hawkins compositions ("Bean and the Boys" and the title track) and four other songs associated with him ("Body and Soul," "La Rosita," "Honeysuckle Rose," and "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho"). That isn't to say that Wallace actually goes out of his way to emulate Hawkins; Wallace never allows his own personality to become obscured, and the result is an excellent CD that reflects both Wallace's individuality and his love of the great tenor master. --Alex Henderson, AMG

This is a stomping band, as Coleman Hawkins said of the Fletcher Henderson orchestra he — and the hitherto mostly awkward tenor saxophone — grew up together with. Louis Armstrong and his hero the great cellist Pablo Casals inspired Hawkins' phrasing and timing, Art Tatum and J.S. Bach his harmonic command. His nickname "Bean" referred to high intelligence, he was an instrumental virtuoso with immense stamina and invention qua improviser, a passionate complex man never to be underrated.

The extraordinary "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" which concludes this 2004 Hawkins centenary concert from Berlin is very appropriate. Swinging fiercely with mostly just Alvin Queen's magnificent drumming, Bennie Wallace exhibits his own stamina in impassioned tenor saxophone emulation of a Bach solo invention; and that's only the climax, after a startling arrangement and succession of stirring solos: an ideal centenary celebration.

Wallace comes out of the Hawkins school: no imitator, where he sounds very like Hawkins that's a natural aspect of his own way, and what he's playing. On "Body and Soul" he's entirely individual, and has maybe never played more beautifully.

In this stomping band Stafford and Anderson can each sound like two men in ensemble, Anthony Wilson's bop-slanted arrangements are subtle or driving as appropriate, and Donald Vega's atmospheric, often extended piano introductions risk overshadowing his solo work elsewhere. Hawkins wasn't Henderson's only major soloist: I hadn't previously heard young Leali, Schroeder, Vega and Boller and want to hear more. Jesse Davis I know. Where he and Leali solo in succession then trade passages theye are plainly individual stylists.

That's on "Honeysuckle Rose," the one non-Wilson chart. Wallace organised it with reminiscences of Benny Carter's great arrangements and brilliant transcription of a passage James P. Johnson delivered in his piano solo recording of the number. Subtlety's one thing, but there's also none of that carefulness which can afflict deliveries of arrangements of music with a vintage. This is musical performance, and no pastiche. Listen to the bluesiness and slow stride of Vega's intro.

Henderson's recorded performances were restricted by technology: time limits. They couldn't unfold with the freedom, relaxation and fire Hawkins remembered. This is of course a live performance, nobody worried about finishing within any time limit, and the only "Disorder" was a word in the opening stomper's title.

Stafford's immense tone powers in ensemble, and blazes in solo. The master colourist trombonist Anderson is involved in the one brief wobble, his sound and Wallace's don't blend in their brief ensemble unison on "La Rosita," whoops! But Anderson's solo immediately thereafter has an amazing transition from harshness to luminous transparency. He delivers a differently magnificent eruption on "Honeysuckle Rose," and preaches on "Joshua..."

Wallace's tenor is properly to the fore throughout, with here an altoist, there Schroeder's baritone, performing a substantial solo as the middle section of an extended development Wallace himself has begun; and subsequently proceeds to bring to extended climax. He's a giant tenorist. This is a great and not merely stomping band.--Robert R. Calder, AAJ

1 Disorder at the Border Hawkins 11:36
2 La Rosita Dupont-Stuart, Stewart 8:55
3 Bean and the Boys Hawkins 9:42
4 Honeysuckle Rose Waller 10:01
5 Body and Soul Eeaton, Green, Heyman, Sour 8:25
6 Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho Traditional 16:40

Recorded November 6, 2004
2007 CD Justin Time 3327

Fred Anderson - Back at the Velvet Lounge

At the time of this 2002 recording, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson was 74 and had been leading the house band at Chicago's Velvet Lounge for 21 years. There has been no mellowing in his adventurous flights and Anderson, who has a huge tone and sometimes hints at Sonny Rollins and (to a lesser extent) Gene Ammons, always pushes himself. His five lengthy originals are challenging yet loose enough for the musicians to be quite spontaneous. Trumpeter Maurice Brown (52 years Anderson's junior and sounding at times like early Don Cherry) shows lots of potential, the pianoless rhythm section is stimulating and supportive, and guest Harrison Bankhead helps out by playing acoustic guitar on "Job Market Blues" and bass on the first two numbers. "Fougeux" is a straight-ahead blowout, "Olivia" (which features two bassists) starts out as a ballad before getting more heated, "Job Market Blues" is a long jam over a one-chord vamp (rather than being an actual blues), and "Syene" is a mysterious strut with Brown's most rewarding solo of the live set. Saving the best for last, the final number of the CD, "King Fish," has some funky playing by bassist Tatsu Aoki and drummer Chad Taylor that leads to some colorful free bop interplay by the two horns over the walking bass. Although technically "avant-garde," the music on this lively outing should interest straight-ahead jazz fans too, for these Chicago-based musicians are all worthy of greater recognition. --Scott Yanow All Music Guide

Certain musicians are dependable. Their very names on an album cover suggest an immediate indication of what’s in store for the listener with near certainty. Sometimes, though, dependability can be detrimental. Occasionally a musician can fall into a rut of repetition, treading the same trails until once fertile soil becomes trampled and stale. Fred Anderson, one of the Windy City’s most venerable and consistent jazz fixtures, isn’t in this fix yet, but I fear he might be heading in that direction with his second Delmark release.
Once again the scene is the Velvet Lounge, Anderson’s creative music enclave for going on two decades. Once again the usual associates are in attendance on the bandstand. Stalwart bass anchors Tatsu Aoki and Harrison Bankhead, along with drummer Chad Taylor, have each been featured prominently at various points in Anderson’s dozen-strong discography. The new face is youthful trumpeter Maurice Brown, who makes an impressive recording debut, particularly on his switch from sedate to declamatory during the disc’s first cut “Fogeux.
Five "new" compositions in all are unveiled, but to be honest the fresh clutch of tunes is heavily steeped in the familiar blues-based figures that form the flexible basis most of Anderson’s music. It’s here where the problem lies. Hearing Anderson (and his friends) blow can be a cathartic and intensely enjoyable experience, especially in person in the funky confines of the Lounge. But his palette is limited by choice and has thus far only rarely allowed for substantial deviations from standard vernacular.
Bankhead does his part to vary the proceedings from what’s come before by strapping on an acoustic guitar for “Job Market Blues.” His scratchy ramshackle strumming sharpens a funky edge onto the tune, but Anderson still seems staunchly rooted in his stock phraseology. Jeff Parker also attempts to pull the leader out of his comfort zone on, but the stylistic tug of war ends up becoming a bit tiresome over the long haul. The overall feel is more of a typical blowing conclave at the Velvet, rather than a cut-above performance worthy of commercial circulation. Another peccadillo is the slightly muddy fidelity, unusual for Velvet sound engineer mainstay Clarence Bright.
Fred Anderson is hands-down one of my favorite living saxophonists. My admiration and affection for the man and his music make the scribing of a lukewarm review all that much more uncomfortable. Longtime fans will want to check this one out, especially for his initial unaccompanied solo work on “Olivia. But listeners just becoming acquainted with his emotionally rich oeuvre should probably look elsewhere. --Derek Taylor, All About Jazz

1 Fougeux Anderson 12:58
2 Olivia Anderson 15:29
3 Job Market Blues Anderson 13:43
4 Syene Anderson 10:25
5 King Fish Anderson 12:25

Fred Anderson tenor saxophone
Tatsu Aoki bass
Harrison Bankhead guitar
Maurice Brown trumpet

Recorded November 18, 2002
2003 Delmark 549

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Alan Shorter - Tes Esat

Unfortunately, Alan Shorter didn't get the chance to lead very many sessions. The limited commercial potential of his music -- coupled with a rather unhealthy lifestyle -- limited him to only a couple of titles under his own name and a dozen or so as a sideman. Like perhaps Eric Dolphy or Albert Ayler, though, the dates upon which he only played a supporting role still heavily bear his stylistic stamp. On this, the last of his leader dates, Shorter's compositions employ relatively vague stutter-step heads and then quickly dive right into free improvisation without looking back. What follows is free jazz along the lines of many BYG or ESP releases from the same era. On the album's opener, "Disposition (In Two Parts)," tenor saxophonist Gary Windo in particular lets loose what has to be one of the most "out" solos in recorded music history, hitting tones in the upper register seldom heard on the tenor (or any sax for that matter). Under the pressure of such an extreme embouchure, one gets the feeling that his reed could simply give up and snap across the room at any moment, and that kind of unbridled intensity just might be what makes this record as enjoyable as it is for those with an open ear for the avant-garde. Countering these wilder passages are a number of more personal sections as well, which help break up the lunacy heard especially on side one. Bassist Johnny Dyani, for example, spends much of the second side in conversation with drummer Rene Augustus, and even takes a lengthy piano solo during "Disposition." Both horns sit out for much of this side, providing only sporadic ensemble backing and, consequently, a bit more room for the listener to breathe. While it's not exactly "in like a lion and out like a lamb," the pacing of this record perhaps resembles that of Dave Burrell's Echo, in that once you've endured the storm on side one, the flip is a breeze. ~ Brandon Burke

Alan Shorter (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Gary Windo (tenor sax)
Johnny Dyani (bass, flute, piano)
Rene Augustus (drums, bells)

1. Disposition
2. Beast of Bash
3. One Million Squared

Tab Smith - Jump Time

One of the nice things about our new format is being able to explore figures other than the Blue Note retreads seen everywhere else in blogland; and the nice thing about the discussion groups is the ability to have an ongoing discussion about lesser known players. Here we look at Tab Smith, and the interesting decision of the Delmark labels to release, over a series of four discs, the entire Smith output for the United label. Delmark is to be commended; this can never have been a money maker for them.

Altoist Tab Smith, who first gained recognition with Count Basie's orchestra in the mid-'40s, became an unexpected R&B star in the early '50s, thanks in large part to his hit version of "Because of You." Between 1951-1957, Smith recorded 90 songs for the United Record Company, of which only 48 were issued. Delmark, in their CD reissue series, came out with all of the music in chronological order. This first release has the initial 20 (including the hit), and Tab Smith sounds fine on the sweet ballads, blues, and concise jump tunes. The backup crew includes trumpeter Sonny Cohn, tenor Leon Washington, and either Lavern Dillon or Teddy Brannon on piano. ~ Scott Yanow

Tab Smith's career can easily be divided into two. One of the finest altoists to emerge during the swing era, Smith became a popular attraction in the R&B world of the 1950s due to his record "Because of You." After early experience playing in territory bands during the 1930s, Tab Smith played and recorded with Lucky Millinder's Orchestra (1936-1938) and then freelanced with various swing all-stars in New York. He had opportunities to solo with Count Basie's band (1940-1942) before returning to Millinder (1942-1944), and took honors on a recording of "On the Sunny Side of the Street" with a stunning cadenza that followed statements by Coleman Hawkins, Don Byas, and Harry Carney. After leaving Millinder, Smith led his own sessions which became increasingly R&B-oriented (he never became involved with bop). His string of recordings for United in the 1950s (which have been reissued by Delmark on CD) made him a fairly major name for a time even though he had a relatively mellow sound and avoided honking. In the early '60s Tab Smith retired to St. Louis and later became involved in selling real estate. ~ Scott Yanow

Tab Smith (alto and tenor sax),
Sonny Cohn (trumpet)
Lavern Dillon (piano)
Leon Washington (tenor sax)
Wilfred Middlebrooks (bass)
Walter Johnson (drums)
Louis Blackwell (vocals)

1. Because of You
2. Slow Motion
3. Dee Jay Special
4. Sin
5. Under A Blanket Of Blue
6. How Can You Say We're Thru
7. Wig Song
8. Hands Across The Table
9. One Man Dip
10. Down Beat
11. Brown Baby
12. Knotty-Headed Women
13. Boogie Joogie
14. Can't We Take A Chance
15. All My Life
16. Jump Time
17. This Love Of Mine
18. Ain't Got Nobody
19. Love Is A Wonderful Thing
20. Nursery Rhyme Jump

Kowald,Smith,Sommer - Touch The Earth-Break The Shells

One of the most individual of the European free players, Kowald is more often adduced as an influence on other players than for his own work. The catalogue is thin enough, but what is available is of consistently excellent quality, concentrated and intense, with an independance of spirit audible in the voice which recalls Pettiford and Mingus.

Smith's free-jazz credentials are beyond question, and he brings a great range of voices to the session, whether on the tiny 'Wind Song In A Dance Of Unity' or larger conceptions on which he has stamped his personal concerns like 'Rastafari In The Universe' and 'In Light', a trio of tracks in the middle of the album which are almost a Smith project in miniature - except that Kowald is so obviously the master of all one hears: guiding, directing, sometimes cajoling.~ Penguin Guide

This compilation of two recording dates (from 1979 and 1981) by the trio of Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet, flügelhorn, African thumb piano and flute), Günter Sommer (percussion, organ pipes), and Peter Kowald (double bass) are one of only a few recordings the now legendary trio made. For that reason alone, to hear this group whose communication was so instinctual and open-ended, this recording is worth investigating. Three individuals from three different traditions and geographical locations (Chicago, Wuppertal, Dresden) forged a language system of tonal and harmonic equanimity, no matter the instruments chosen for their improvisation. Given that they were together only from 1978 through the beginning of 1982, and intermittently at that, these improvisations take on special significance because they are not the sounds of a band who have found a single voice to speak from to identify themselves with, but a trio of individuals seeking to encounter one another through the vibrational space of sound. On Touch the Earth - Break the Shells, all previous musical associations and musical preferences are left at the door of the recording studio. The individual compositions are credited not for the sake of attribution of idea, but for the purpose of identification as to who makes what beginning in a specific journey. As an example, listen to the way Kowald's "Tough the Earth" slides chromatically from one set of diatonic fourths to a pentatonic scalar series of eighths and sixteenths as it transitions into "Wind Song in a Dance of Unity," by Smith, who breaks out of his smattering skein of trumpet notes to shift gears and match Sommers' bells with an African thumb piano, allowing for Kowald to bow and then punch up the bass pizzicato on the open-E scale in "Rastafari in the Universe, where Smith's flute offers a floating approach of Kowald's microtonal direction instead of an overtonal one -- given the major chord pitch -- and Sommers' coaxing rubbed sonances from his drum skins. Each piece in the journey -- in both sessions -- is an exercise in individual surrender and unuttered thoughts, impressions, memories. The playing gets intense -- would you have it any other way -- but in a manner that makes the band hover, not fly away; they know where the ground is, and they can find, even in the heat of group improvisation, an interval to shift to in order to ground the proceedings before taking off again. This is music of the mind, certainly, but it is also from the body and the earth itself. This is free jazz that sings! ~ Thom Jurek

Peter Kowald (bass)
Wadada Leo Smith (flute, trumpet, flugelhorn)
Günter Sommer (percussion, drums)

1. Gebr. Loesch
2. Touch The Earth
3. Wind Song In A Dance Of Unity
4. Rastafari In The Universe
5. In Light
6. Ein Stück Über Dem Boden
7. Radepur Im Februar
8. Unlost Time
9. Long Time No See

Matthew Shipp - Symbol Systems

Matthew Shipp solo piano. Here's a chance to hear Mr. Shipp all by his lonesome. Symbol Systems is simply a monster outpourring of lyricism and invention that alone, without his well-developed discography, would have established Shipp as a major talent. Thom Jurek doesn't hold back on the praise: "In 1995 most folks were still equating Matthew Shipp with Cecil Taylor because of his occasionally percussive method of improvisation, but Shipp was already in the studio proving them wrong. This solo recording of 14 short- and medium-length pieces (the longest piece here, "Flow of Meaning," is only seven minutes and 14 seconds) shows a very introspective composer and improviser exploring textural as well as tonal worlds, and employing this complex yet haunting, beautiful harmonic framework into play in a sequence of tunes that explicate his methodology better than even the Hat album by The Law of Music. Shipp isn't looking at sound on any of these pieces so much as he's looking for the font of sound itself. On "Self-Regulated Motion," he's breaking down the diatonic system one chord at a time and cleverly creating an alternate modality. On "Clocks" he takes a gradual approach to reworking the chromatics of the entire lower register of the keyboard. On "Harmonic Oscillator" he begins by combining the left-hand techniques of Bud Powell and the rhythmic ideas of Herbie Nichols to complete a bridge of tonal chromatics and contrapuntal ostinato. In other words, there is no meditation that Shipp isn't undertaking here. And none of it is academic. There is real soul and beauty in this music, true warmth and character in its dynamic and dramatic reaches. Symbol Systems is a recommended place for those who are interested but unfamiliar with Shipp as a pianist, improviser, and composer to discover why, along with Marilyn Crispell, he is the most exciting pianist in music. " (Thom Jurek, AMG) Its unquestioned greatness did not prevent Symbol Systems from going OOP.

Sarah Vaughan In Hi-Fi (1949-1953)

Most of Sarah Vaughan's Columbia recordings were on the commercial side, but not the memorable selections on this wonderful CD reissue. She recorded eight selections in 1950 with an octet that included trumpeter Miles Davis, trombonist Benny Green, the remarkably cool clarinetist Tony Scott and tenorman Budd Johnson. This CD adds alternate takes to seven of the numbers, increasing the discography of both Sassy and Miles. This version of "Ain't Misbehavin'" is a true classic (with memorable eight-bar solos by each of the four horns); "Mean to Me" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It" are gems, and the other performances are not far behind. In addition, Vaughan sings two versions of "The Nearness of You" in 1949; there is also a previously unknown recording of "It's All In the Mind," and three orchestra numbers from 1951 and 1953 wrap up the outstanding reissue. Sassy has rarely sounded better. Highly recommended. - Scott Yanow

Sarah Vaughan (vocals)
Miles Davis, Billy Butterfield, Taft Jordan (trumpet)
Benny Green, Will Bradley (trombone)
Toots Mondello, Hymie Schertzer (alto sax)
Budd Johnson, Artie Drelinger, George Kelly (tenor sax)
Stan Webb (baritone sax)
Tony Scott (clarinet)
Jimmy Jones (piano)
Freddie Green, Al Caiola (guitar)
Billy Taylor, Eddie Safranski (bass)
J.C. Heard, Cozy Cole (drums)
  1. East of the Sun (West of the Moon)
  2. Nice Work If You Can Get It
  3. Come Rain or Come Shine
  4. Mean to Me
  5. It Might As Well Be Spring
  6. Can't Get Out of This Mood
  7. Goodnight My Love
  8. Ain't Misbehavin'
  9. Pinky
  10. The Nearness of You
  11. Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year
  12. Ooh, What'cha Doin' to Me
  13. It's All in the Mind
  14. The Nearness of You (alt. take)
  15. Ain't Misbehavin' (alt. take)
  16. Goodnight My Love (alt. take)
  17. It Might As Well Be Spring (alt. take)
  18. Mean to Me (alt. take)
  19. Come Rain or Come Shine (alt. take)
  20. East of the Sun (West of the Moon)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

BN LP 5029 | Elmo Hope - New Faces/New Sounds

Elmo Hope (p) Percy Heath (b) Philly Joe Jones (d)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, June 18, 1953

BN495-1 tk.2 Happy Hour
BN496-2 tk.5 Freffie
BN497-2 tk.8 Carvin' The Rock
BN498-0 tk.9 Host Sauce
BN499-0 tk.10 Mo Is On
BN500-1 tk.13 Stars Over Marrakesh
BN501-1 tk.19 I Remember You
BN502-2 tk.23 Sweet And Lovely
** part of Blue Note (J) K18P 9271, CDP 7 84438-2.

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

Johnny Dyani Quartet - Song For Biko

Bassist Johnny Dyani had a large tone and a relaxed yet authoritative style. On this classic SteepleChase release he teams up with two other South African expatriates (altoist Dudu Pukwana and drummer Makay Ntshoko) plus cornetist Don Cherry for music that is haunting, emotional, somewhat adventurous, yet also melodic. While "Song for Biko" is the most memorable piece, all five of Dyani's originals (including the 16-and-a-half-minute "Jo'burg-New York") are special. The music combines together Dyani's South African folk heritage with Ornette Coleman's free bop and elements of avant-garde jazz. Highly recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

Johnny "Mbizo" Dyani was from a musical family and began playing the piano and singing in a traditional choir at an early age. At 13, he switched to bass, but would use both voice and piano later on. Chris McGregor hired him for the Blue Notes after hearing him play with pianist Tete Mbambiza; the group left the country in 1964, playing first at the Antibes Jazz Festival, then in Zurich, London, and Copenhagen. In 1966, Dyani toured Argentina with Steve Lacy's quartet, recording The Forest and the Zoo (ESP). In 1970, he played in Don Cherry's trio with Okay Temiz, and sat in with McCoy Tyner in New York. He worked with Abdullah Ibrahim and Alan Shorter (Tes Esat, 1970), and formed his own Earthquake Power in 1971. The following year, Dyani co-founded Xaba with Mongezi Feza and Temiz. He became very active on the European scene, playing with Irene Schweizer, Han Bennink, and with visiting American free jazz musicians such as David Murray, Leo Smith, Joseph Jarman, and Don Moye. His Witchdoctor's Son band made records with Dudu Pukwana and John Tchicai for Steeplechase, and with Swedish and Brazilian musicians for Cadillac (Witchdoctor's Son Together, 1980). His quartet featured guests Don Cherry (Song for Biko, Steeplechase), Pukwana (Mbizo, Steeplechase 1981), and Butch Morris (Grandmother's Teaching, Jam). He recorded in duo with drummer Clifford Jarvis (African Bass, Red 1979), and his septet/octet recorded two albums with Charles Davis (Afrika and Born Under the Heat, both released in 1983). Detail was his '80s trio with John Stevens and saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, and Detail Plus featured Bobby Bradford on cornet. His 1985 album Angolian Cry (Steeplechase) was of a quartet with trumpeter Harry Beckett and Tchicai. A year later, Johnny Dyani died suddenly after a performance in Berlin. ~ Francesco Martinelli

Johnny Dyani (bass)
Don Cherry (cornet)
Dudu Pukwana (alto sax)
Makaya Ntshoko (drums)

1. Wish You Sunshine
2. Song For Biko
3. Confession Of Moods
4. Jo'burg - New York
5. Lonely Flower In The Village

Booker Ervin - Setting The Pace

A friend of the site asked us to discuss this Ervin title some time ago; my apologies for the delay.

The conjunction of Ervin and the not-too-dissimilar Dexter Gordon on Settin' The Pace makes for interesting listening, though it's Dexter who establishes the ground-rules and sets the pace for most of the tunes. 'The Trance' is included, and there is a bouncing, fiery workout on 'Dexter's Deck', the kind of theme he drank by the gallon and played by the hour. ~ Penguin Guide

This CD reissue has the complete contents of two former LPs, both recorded at the same session. With very stimulating playing by pianist Jaki Byard, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Alan Dawson, tenors Booker Ervin and Dexter Gordon battle it out on marathon (19 and 22 1/2 minute) versions of "Setting the Pace" and "Dexter's Deck." Although Gordon is in good form, Ervin (who sometimes takes the music outside) wins honors. The other two selections ("The Trance" and "Speak Low") are by the same group without Dexter, and these long (19 1/2- and 15-minute) showcases also find Booker in top form, sounding quite distinctive and completely original playing inside/outside music. An exciting set. ~ Scott Yanow

Booker Ervin (tenor sax)
Dexter Gordon (tenor sax)
Jaki Byard (piano)
Reggie Workman (bass)
Alan Dawson (drums)

1. Setting The Pace
2. Dexter's Deck
3. The Trance
4. Speak Low

Munich: October 27, 1965

Track Of The Day

Red Record All Stars - Together Again for the First Time

The Red Record All Stars are:
Jerry Bergonzi, Bobby Watson, Kenny Barron, Victor Lewis, David Finck, and Curtis Lundy

In its brief history, Italy's Red Records issued a goodly number of world-class CDs and this All Star performance ranks near the top. An unsurpassed collection of monster talent brings froth a stunning collection of boppish and post-bop tunes. The AMG review just glows--and still manages to understate the greatness of the music: "Together Again for the First Time is a wonderfully recorded, energetic, and highly accessible bop set by the Red Records All Stars. Each of the players lends at least one of his own compositions to the session. Among the best of these are Victor Lewis' lyrical "De Voyeur A Voyeur," Bobby Watson's groovy romp "That's All Folks!!!," and Kenny Barron's frenetic "New York Attitude." The recording is bright and clean, the group sound is tight and fresh. Much of the playing is brilliant, especially up front from Watson and Bergonzi. Bergonzi in particular benefits from this setting as well as Watson's presence next to him; his solos are focused and alert. This may have been the first time this all-star crew came together, but it should not be the last. Together Again for the First Time is a very enjoyable, highly recommended album." (Brian Bartolini, AMG)

Regrettably, this will probably be the last for apparently Red Records has passed into the archives of history.

Smokin' Music! - VA - Dope & Glory

In the early days before the post-60s infatuation with marijuana prohibition, reefer use was primarily an activity of jazz musucians, and Mexicans (who introduced the herb into the U.S. as they migrated north to find work in Texas and other western states). The campaign against the herb was led by failed alcohol-prohibitionist Harry Anslinger, newly in charge of the bureau of 'dangerous drugs' - and also a racist, perhaps the two 'ists' go hand in hand. He decided he had to act against those jazz musicians, and issued an order to all his field men that he would give a signal, and that they were to round up and arrest all those viper-philes in "a single day". An ambitious project, even then... Amazon lists this one but it is rather expensive, and "Usually ships in 1 to 2 months," no doubt because the manufacturer - perhaps under the influence - routinely forgets to print additional copies. Get one if you can, but beware the evil weed! A Review in 'comments' below.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yanni - In My Time

Yanni's latest is another extension of his creative spirit and stirring passion for life. Focusing on piano as his primary instrument, Yanni infuses his "signature" style with timeless, eloquent themes and plenty of romantic energy. No longer are rhythm and dynamic currents as vital to his sound, since he seems to have stopped fueling his music with "rocket power." His romantic outpourings lend a personal nature to In My Time, and this new effort should be received with enthusiasm far and wide. Yanni is uniquely expressive, and this new music is deeply touching on many levels. ~ Backroads Music/Heartbeats

Formally attired and seductively positioned, Yanni gazes out at you from the cover of this 1993 recording and--no description needed--tells you everything you need to know about the music that awaits inside. Here are a few additional details: In My Time is a 49-minute album of piano-based works with a distinct neoclassical flavor that is targeted specifically to Yanni's large and faithful female following. Its highlights: the shimmering tenderness of "In the Morning Light" and the gently caressing "To Take ... To Hold." Perhaps because this was his last album for Private Music, he elected to fill it in with two repeats from Dare to Dream, "Felitsa" and "In the Mirror." ~ Terry Wood

1. In The Morning Light
2. One Man's Dream
3. Before I Go
4. Enchantment
5. The End Of August
6. To Take ...To Hold
7. In The Mirror
8. Felitsa
9. Whispers In The Dark
10. Only A Memory
11. Until The Last Moment

Jimmie Lunceford - 1934-1935 (Chronological 505)

This particular Chrono is notable for the " ... rare instance of two Ellington compositions, 'Rhapsody Junior' and 'Bird Of paradise', which were never recorded by Duke."

The Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra has always been a bit difficult to evaluate. Contemporary observers rated Lunceford's big band at the top with Duke Ellington and Count Basie but, when judging the music solely on their records (and not taking into account their visual show, appearance, and showmanship), Lunceford's ensemble has to be placed on the second tier. His orchestra lacked any really classic soloists (altoist Willie Smith and trombonist Trummy Young came the closest), and a large portion of the band's repertoire either featured the dated vocals of Dan Grissom, or were pleasant novelties. And yet, the well-rehearsed ensembles were very impressive, some of the arrangements (particularly those of Sy Oliver) were quite original, and the use of glee-club vocalists and short, concise solos were pleasing and often memorable. Plus Lunceford's was the first orchestra to feature high-note trumpeters (starting with Tommy Stevenson in 1934) and had a strong influence on the early Stan Kenton Orchestra.

The second of Classics' reissuance of all the master takes of Jimmie Lunceford's recordings finds the orchestra gaining in popularity and in power. Among the highlights (most of the songs were arranged by Sy Oliver or Ed Wilcox) are "Since My Beat Gal Turned Me Down," "Rhythm Is Our Business," "Shake Your Head," "Sleepy-Time Gal," "Four or Five Times" and "Swanee River." The high musicianship and clean ensembles (along with the showmanship) are most impressive and the concise solos (particularly from altoist Willie Smith, tenor saxophonist Joe Thomas and trumpeter Sy Oliver) are enjoyable and fit in logically as part of the arrangements. ~ Scott Yanow

Jimmie Lunceford (alto sax)
Willie Smith (clarinet, alto and baritone sax)
Sy Oliver (trumpet)
Eddie Durham (guitar, trombone)
Joe Thomas (clarinet, tenor sax)

1. Chillun, Get Up
2. Solitude
3. Rain
4. Since My Best Gal Turned Me Down
5. Jealous
6. Rhythm Is Our Business
7. I'm Walking Through Heaven With You
8. Shake Your Head (From Side to Side)
9. Sleepy Time Gal
10. Bird Of Paradise
11. Rhapsody Junior
12. Runnin' Wild
13. Four Or Five Times
14. (If I Had) Rhythm In My Nursery Rhymes
15. Babs
16. Swanee River
17. Thunder
18. Oh Boy
19. (You Take The East, Take The West, Take The North) I'll Take The South
20. Avalon
21. Charmaine
22. Hittin' The Bottle

Pheeroan akLaff - Sonogram

Drummer Pheeroan AkLaff utilizes an all-star cast comprised of tenor-saxophonist John Stubblefield, altoist Carlos Ward, guitarist Sonny Sharrock and bassist Kenny Davis for this set of generally intense improvisations. There is an unfinished quality about the avant-garde music with the individual solos being much stronger than the somewhat forgettable melodies, and Sharrock's explosive guitar is greatly underutilized. The brief playing time of the CD (38 1/2 minutes) is also unfortunate but overall the set has many moments of interest. The two longest pieces are highlights: "Bit Her" (which uses a funky pattern and has melody statements between the solos) and "Serious" (its fast pulse by the bass and drums contrasts with the long tones of the horns). Worth checking out.

1. Bit Her Pheeroan akLaff 11:30
2. Serious Pheeroan akLaf 10:06
3. Alligator and Kangaroo Pheeroan akLaff 4:08
4. Tout de Suite Miles Davis 5:31
5. Sonogram Pheeroan akLaff 3:44
6. Juggler Pheeroan akLaff 3:33

Pheeroan AkLaff drums
John Stubblefield tenor saxophone
Carlos Ward alto saxophone
Sonny Sharrock guitar
Kenny Davis bass

Recorded at Quadrasonic Studios, NYC August 1989
1990 Mu Works MU1004

Friday, November 13, 2009

Coleman Hawkins - Wrapped Tight

Hawkins's last strong recording finds the veteran, 43 years after his recording debut with Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds, improvising creatively on a wide variety of material on this CD, ranging from "Intermezzo" and "Here's That Rainy Day" to "Red Roses for a Blue Lady" and "Indian Summer." Best is an adventurous version of "Out of Nowhere" that shows that the tenor-saxophonist was still coming up with new ideas in 1965. ~ Scott Yanow

As an In expression, “wrapped tight” can have a lot of meanings, all of them superlative. A girl abundantly endowed with Nature’s most attractive gifts is said to be “wrapped tight.” A jaguar swinging down the highway with Count Basie at the wheel is, in a special sense, wrapped is wrapped tight. And among musicians, because of his ability, imagination and universally recognized authority, Coleman Hawkins is assuredly wrapped tight.

The encomium can well be applied to this album, too, because it puts the great tenor saxophonist in contexts that fit him excellently. Wrapped Tight, a Manny Albam original, is one of six arrangements written by Manny that are extraordinarily successful in creating a snug, orchestral atmosphere, and this despite the limited instrumentation. More than mere points of arrival and departure, they serve to enhance the Hawkins improvisations. Enframing and supporting them, they also remove a measure of responsibility from the star’s shoulders, and his playing is in consequence the more relaxed. That he remains perfectly capable of fashioning entire performances himself is very adequately shown on Out of Nowhere and the five-minute Indian Summer, where he is accompanied by the rhythm section only.

In short, then titles wrapped tight by the man for whom the tenor saxophone was invented – Coleman Hawkins. ~ Stanley Dance

Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax)
Snooky Young (trumpet)
Bill Berry (trumpet)
Urbie Green (trombone)
Barry Harris (piano)
Buddy Catlett (bass)
Eddie Locke (drums)

1. Marcheta
2. Intermezzo
3. Wrapped Tight
4. Red Roses For A Blue Lady
5. She's Fit
6. Beaurtiful Girl
7. And I Still Love You
8. Bean's Place
9. Here's That Rainy Day
10. I Won't Dance
11. Indian Summer
12. Out Of Nowhere

Track Of The Day

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fern Jones - The Glory Road (Numero 005)

What's she looking at? Me!

If you've never heard of Fern Jones, you're not alone. Her only claim to fame, if you can call it that, is that she wrote a song called "I Was There When It Happened." She sold it to Jimmie Davis, a Grand Ole Opry star and former Louisiana governor, who recorded it and credited himself as the co-writer. Johnny Cash heard the song on the radio and recorded it for his debut album Johnny Cash With His Hot And Blue Guitar.

Born and raised in El Dorado, Arkansas, Fern Salisbury taught herself to play the guitar and the piano at the age of 12. She fibbed about her age to get gigs at local bars and married Raymond Jones when she was just 16. Though she was no stranger to the wild nightlife of the honky-tonks, Fern cleaned up her act and followed Raymond on the road when he felt the itch to preach. They began to spread the Gospel and sing at Pentecostal revival meetings in tents and empty lots all across the South. They recorded and pressed their own LP, The Joneses Sing, which they sold out of the back of their car. Three tracks from that album are included as bonus tracks on this CD.

A small Christian label in Southern California eventually re-issued the Joneses private press album, and a copy ended up in the hand's of Mac Wiseman, head of A&R for the country division at Paramount's DOT label and a former Bill Monroe sideman. Mac found Fern and Raymond and convinced them that Fern had a shot at country stardom, so they gave up the revival circuit and headed for Nashville. Mac produced Fern's album himself and hired a sensational backing band fresh from sessions with Elvis Presley.

Singing A Happy Song was released in 1959. Fern toured behind it for about a year but with no single to promote, the sales were poor; she got depressed, and missed her husband, and in May of 1960 she just plain quit. She never recorded again and passed away in 1996.

When Paramount was purchased by Gulf+Western in 1966, most of the master tapes for DOT's gospel releases were destroyed. Miraculously, Fern's tapes were spared and she recovered them in the early 1980s. This is the first time that any of the songs on The Glory Road have been issued on CD and all have been meticulously transferred from those original tapes with permission from the Jones estate.

Fern's deep and powerful voice really soars on these recordings; comparisons to Patsy Cline are not unwarranted. Fern's interpretations of gospel classics like "I Am A Pilgrim," "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," and "I Don't Care What The World May Do" are just as moving as far more famous versions by the likes of Doc Watson, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, the Maddox Brothers And Rose, and Jimmy Martin. Taken with a grain of salt, The Glory Road is a perfectly fun little dose of the almighty to spruce up any heathen's life.

When I first listened to The Glory Road, I was reminded of the Louvin Brothers' classic Satan Is Real album (considered to be the blueprint for the Byrds' country-rock masterpiece Sweetheart Of The Rodeo). The Louvins sang about the devil as if he were an actual flesh and blood creature with red scales, a spiked tail, and sharp horns jutting out of his forehead. Singing A Happy Song, on the other hand, is extremely positive, jubilant and uplifting, an evangelical counterpoint to that album's dark themes. Fern's lyrics might seem quaint and old-fashioned but are actually right in line with the beliefs that countless millions of people still embrace. I'm certain that fundamentalists like Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition and James Dobson of Focus On The Family wouldn't disagree with a word of the Sunday School nonsense in Fern's song "I Do Believe." Grown men with tremendous wealth and power and the ear of the President, the Congress, and the Judiciary actually believe that a man named Jonah lived inside of a whale's belly for three days and three nights. I wouldn't have the faintest idea of how to evaluate the significance of that particular phenomenon, but it's something that might be worth pondering while you listen to this newly unearthed country gospel classic. ~ Rob Hatch-Miller

Sometimes it takes the genius and adoration of a small record label like Chicago's Numero to unearth a bounty virtually fictional but for the several hundreds who listened and observed a half-century ago. Born in 1923, Fern Jones was a gifted songwriter with a deep-from-the-chest singing voice that was as much Lightnin' Hopkins as it was Patsy Cline. Her husband a preacher, Jones left the honky-tonks to perform by his side in Pentecostal churches and revival tents during the forties and fifties, her original and traditional gospel hymns always dotted with the blues and pop variations that inspired her. What those fortunate few were able to witness was put to vinyl by Dot Records in 1959, backed by noted Elvis studio musicians Hank Garland (guitar) and Floyd Cramer (piano), and available here for the first time since. It includes six Jones originals, including "I Was There When It Happened," covered by Johnny Cash during his first session for Sun Records. Fern Jones died in 1996, but thankfully--though 50 years after the fact--her music lives on with the vitality and clarity her underappreciated talent provided. ~ Scott Holter

"Fern Jones: The Glory Road" is included in ... Tom Moon's book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.

Fern Jones (vocal)
Hank Garland (guitar)
Floyd Cramer (piano)
Joe Zinkan (bass)
Buddy Harman (drums)

1. You Ain't Got Nuthin'
2. I Do Believe
3. I Was There When It Happened
4. Be Thankful You're You
5. Strange Things Happening Every Day
6. I Ain't Got Time
7. Just A Little Talk With Jesus
8. Keeps Me Busy
9. Take My Hand, Precious Lord
10. I Am A Pilgrim And A Stranger
11. Let Tomorrow Be
12. Didn't It Rain
13. When I Meet You

Jon Hendricks - Freddie Freeloader (1990)

This CD would be highly recommended if only for Jon Hendricks' brilliant vocalese version of "Freddie Freeloader," which has Bobby McFerrin singing pianist Wynton Kelly's part, Al Jarreau as Miles Davis, George Benson as Cannonball Adderley, and Hendricks re-creating John Coltrane. However, all 13 selections on this very memorable set have their strong moments, and the other guests include the Manhattan Transfer, the Count Basie Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, Stanley Turrentine, Tommy Flanagan, Al Grey, and the Jon Hendricks Vocalstra. "Jumpin' at the Woodside" recalls the Lambert, Hendricks & Ross version, Judith Hendricks sings Louis Armstrong's solos on "Stardust" and "Swing That Music," Turrentine helps to re-create "Sugar," there are a couple of Thelonious Monk tunes, and the exciting proceedings conclude with "Sing, Sing, Sing." Essential music. - Scott Yanow

Jon Hendricks, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, Judith Hendricks (vocals)
Wynton Marsalis, Randy Sandke, Lew Soloff (trumpet)
Al Grey, Bitt Woodman (trombone)
Jerome Richardson (alto sax)
Stanley Turrentine, Frank Foster (tenor sax)
Joe Temperley (baritone sax)
Tommy Flanagan, Larry Goldings (piano)
Rufus Reid, George Mraz, Tyler Mitchell (bass)
Jimmy Cobb, Clifford Barbaro, Duffy Jackson (drums)
The Count Basie Orchestra
The Manhattan Transfer
  1. Jumpin' at the Woodside
  2. In Summer
  3. Freddie Freeloader
  4. Stardust
  5. Sugar
  6. Take the 'A' Train
  7. Fas' Livin' Blues
  8. High As a Mountain
  9. Trinkle-Tinkle
  10. Swing That Music
  11. The Finer Things in Life
  12. Listen to Monk (Rhythm-A-Ning)
  13. Sing Sing Sing

Tommy Flanagan's Super Jazz Trio - 1978 Condado Beach

A splendid studio session by Tommy Flanagan's Super Jazz Trio with Reggie Workman and Joe Chambers in its entirety. As a bonus, a duet of Flanagan with Jim Hall on the standard 'My One and Only Love', and five rare duets of Flanagan with bassist Keter Betts playing the music of Bud Powell. All of these are also studio recordings. The last five tracks appear here on CD for the first time ever.

01. Pent-Up House (5:33)
02. Condado Beach (10:22)
03. Let's Call This (7:18)
04. So Sorry Please (8:04)
05. Ballad (4:32)
06. Milestones (6:41)
07. My One And Only Love (5:48) (*)
08. Strictly Confidential (2:58) (*)
09. Dance Of The Infidels (2:37) (*)
10. Bouncing With Bud (2:39) (*)
11. I'll Keep Loving You (2:53) (*)
12. So Sorry, Please (3:12) (*)

(*) Bonus Track

Tracks #1-6 originally issued in Japan as Tommy Flanagan's "Super Jazz Trio" (Baystate BVCJ 6033).
Tommy Flanagan (p), Reggie Workman (b) and Joe Chambers (d). Recorded in New York City, on November 21, 1978

Track #7 taken from Jim Hall's "Commitment" (A&M / Horizon SP-715).
Tommy Flanagan (p) and Jim Hall (g). Recorded in New York City, on June 22, 1976

Tracks #8-11 came from a various artists set entitled "I Remember Bebop" (Columbia C2 35381).
Tommy Flanagan (p) and Keter Betts (b). Recorded in New York City, November 3-5, 1977

Track #12 taken from the various artists sequel "They All Played Bebop" (Columbia C2 38039).
Tommy Flanagan (p) and Keter Betts (b). Recorded in New York City, November 3-5, 1977

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Track Of The Day


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Aretha Franklin - Aretha's Jazz

The first five cuts here have a Basie-esque quality to them, which is not surprising considering the number of the Count's sidemen lurking in the reed and brass sections. Fortunately, the kind of jazz Aretha's doing here displays the same debt to the blues that Basie's work usually does. Moreover, these tunes were produced by Arif Mardin, Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd-the same team that worked on Franklin's other 1960s Atlantic sessions. One tune, "Today I Sing The Blues" was cut with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section (the other four were done with Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Bruno Carr and Junior Mance, who aren't too slack either).

The remaining three tunes, produced by Franklin and Quincy Jones a few years later, aren't quite as classicly cool and understated, but they have their moments. Billy Preston plays a great piano solo on "Just Right Tonight," another blues, and Franklin doubles her vocals to race through "Moody's Mood." Throughout, Aretha's soaring vocals are the point, and it's a groove to hear her have the room to really stretch out.

"A good anthology that covers various album cuts, B-sides, and assorted material in a jazz vein that Aretha cut for Columbia. It's great to hear her underrated piano playing given some more space, and Columbia should really reissue her Dinah Washington tribute album, from which they pulled a couple of these songs. Aretha wasn't a jazz vocalist from the standpoint of approach or inspiration, but she really can sing anything and showed it on these cuts, even if they weren't, for the most part, hits." ~ Ron Wynn

Aretha Franklin (piano, vocals)
Billy Preston (piano)
Pepper Adams (baritone sax)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
King Curtis (tenor sax)
Urbie Green (trombone)
Joe Newman (trumpet)
Seldon Powell (tenor sax)
Ernie Royal (trumpet)
Joe Zawinul (Hammond organ, electric piano)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Junior Mance (piano)
Ron Carter (bass)
Jerry Jemmott (bass)

1. Ramblin'
2. Today I Sing The Blues
3. Pitiful
4. Crazy He Calls Me
5. Bring It On Home To Me
6. Somewhere
7. Moody's Mood
8. Just Right Tonight

Nico Saquito - Good-bye Mr. Cat

One of Cuba's most famed guitarists, Nico Saquito founded the guaracha style, renowned for its four-line stanzas and humorous lyrics. He was born in Santiago de Cub in 1901 and began to gain popularity for his compositions by the age of 15. He gave up a career in baseball to join the Castillo Quartet and spent ten years with the band, touring around the country. Returning to Santiago to form the Guaracheos de Oriente, he eventually took that group to tour Venezuela in 1950. He stayed for ten years, until the Revolution forced him to return to Cuba. Saquito spent most of his later years playing in Havana, where Cuba's national record company recorded him in 1982, playing with el Quarteto Patria and el Duo Cubano (two of the country's best groups). That performance, released on World Circuit as Good-bye Mr. Cat, proved to be his only American release. Nico Saquito died later that year.John Bush

Monday, November 9, 2009

Art Davis & Ravi Coltrane & Herbie Hancock & Marvin Smith - A Time Remembered

Anytime bassist Art Davis records, it's an event. In this instance, he's chosen such fellow heavyweights as pianist Herbie Hancock and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith to join him, but it's saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (son of jazz giant John Coltrane) who really holds up his end of the bargain here. He plays inspired, fluid, melodic lines, quite reminiscent of another second-generation saxophonist, Joshua Redman. Davis, who played with John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and the NBC Orchestra, among others, continues to be a force on his instrument; he also wrote three of the eight pieces here. "Art's Boogie" is a simple, funky, groovin' blues biscuit; on the song's bass-led bridge, Davis quotes "Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World." The 15-minute title track is a three-piece suite: "Sorrow" is a slow march beat with serene soprano and cascading piano; the hard-boppish "Uplift" features Coltrane on tenor sax; and "Joy," which starts out at a frantic, "Jumpin' at the Woodside"-type pace, showcases Hancock's animated measures. The best song on the album, "Everybody's Doing It," is a combination of Smith's steady tick-tock beats, Hancock's spatial modalities, and a lovely melody by Coltrane on soprano; a bowed bass solo by Davis again shows why he's a king, albeit a relatively unheralded one. The quartet play Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" perfectly, with Coltrane in excellent form on tenor. Hancock contributes the hip blues swinger "Driftin'," which features a Horace Silver-ish groove and a neat bass solo by Davis. The foursome passionately tackle John Coltrane's modal "Ole," which builds slowly from warm to steaming to blazing, thanks to Ravi's inspired blowing and Hancock's salty, swift piano inflections, all spiced by Davis' incredible mezzo piano harmonic solo, which buzzes and weaves through caverns of midnight blue. The stunning ballad "Everytime We Say Goodbye" proves Ravi's mettle, echoing his legendary father but moving past into his own realm of sheer beauty. This is a truly outstanding recording and one of the very best CDs of 1995.

1.Evidence Monk 7:17
2.A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing Strayhorn 7:59
3.Driftin' Hancock 7:18
4.Everybody's Doing It Davis 6:57
5.Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye Porter 8:45
6.Art's Boogie Davis 6:44
7.Ole Coltrane 9:08
8.A Time Remembered: Sorrow/Uplift/Joy Davis 14:41

Art Davis bass
Ravi Coltrane saxophones
Herbie Hancock piano
Marvin Smith drums

Recorded January 14-15, 1995
1996 Jazz Planet 4001

Mary Lou Williams - Live at the Cookery

This terrific live recording from 1975 provides a rare glimpse of Mary Lou Williams in performance. Accompanied by bassist Brian Torff, Mary Lou cooks up consistently swinging music without the aid of a drummer. With a set list of tunes spanning 4 decades, Mary Lou exhibits the incredible range of her virtuosity. There is an especially nifty arrangement of "All Blues. " And you can hear Her Greatness chit-chatting with her audience. Yanow recommends the CD without his usual reservations: "This CD gives one a definitive look at talented pianist Mary Lou Williams in her later years. In these duets with bassist Brian Torff, Williams essentially takes listeners on a trip through the history of jazz, from hymns and blues to stride, swing, and bop (including "All Blues"). The CD reissue adds three fine performances to the original program. Recommended." (Scott Yanow, AMG)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

BN LP 5028 | Jay Jay Johnson With Clifford Brown

Clifford Brown (tp -1/4,6) J.J. Johnson (tb) Jimmy Heath (ts, bars -1/4,6) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, June 22, 1953

1. BN503-3 tk.4 Capri
2. BN504-0 tk.5 Lover Man
3. BN505-0 tk.6 Turnpike
4. BN506-2 tk.11 Sketch One
5. BN507-0 tk.12 It Could Happen To You
6. BN508-0 tk.14 Get Happy
** also issued on Vogue (E) LDE 124; Jazz Selection (F) JSLP 50008 entitled "Jay Jay Johnson Sextet".

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

Michael Carvin - The Camel

This is another debut album of a young talent that came out of Nils Winther's NY recording trip of '75. Michael Carvin - who had played in numerous Motown recordings with the label's stars like Stevie Wonder - was beginning to be recognized also as a jazz drummer on the New York scene playing in the Hampton Hawes Trio in the early 70s.

As the leader of a band consisting of the Big Apple's rising stars, Carvin cut an album with "an overwhelming feeling of sheer musical competence...." (Jazz Journal)

A marvelously gifted drummer, Michael Carvin has been a prolific contributor to the contemporary jazz scene. Whether driving a group, doing a solo, or interacting with the rhythm section, Carvin has demonstrated outstanding technique and sensitive accompanying skills. His father was a drummer who taught him the basics prior to Carvin joining Earl Grant's big band in the mid-'60s. After a tour of duty in Vietnam, Carvin played with B.B. King. Later came stints with Freddie Hubbard, Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, McCoy Tyner, Jackie McLean, and Clive Stevens' Atmospheres during the '70s, plus recordings with Mickey Bass and Charles Davis in the '80s. Carvin has done his own recordings for Muse and Steeplechase in the '70s, '80s, and '90s. ~ Ron Wynn

His debut as a leader, with Sonny Fortune. Find this one -- it's a keeper. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Michael Carvin (drums)
Sonny Fortune (alto and soprano sax)
Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Ron Burton (piano)
Calvin Hill (bass)

1. Osun
2. Naima
3. Kwebena's Blues
4. M.C Blues
5. The Camel
6. Billy Boy
7. Osun (Take 1)

Sonny Rollins - Falling In Love With Jazz (1989)

An "average effort" from Sonny Rollins in 1989 is still better than most things recorded over the last 20 years. Now 79 years old, Rollins was 60 at the time of this CD.

This average effort from Sonny Rollins and his regular sextet is most notable for two numbers ("For All We Know" and "I Should Care") that find Branford Marsalis joining Rollins in a quintet with pianist Tommy Flanagan. Unfortunately Marsalis makes the fatal error of trying to imitate Rollins (instead of playing in his own musical personality) and he gets slaughtered. Much better are Rollins's romps on "Tennessee Waltz" and "Falling in Love with Love." - Scott Yanow

Sonny Rollins (tenor sax)
Branford Marsalis (tenor sax on 1, 5)
Clifton Anderson (trombone)
Tommy Flanagan, Mark Soskin (piano)
Jerome Harris, Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Jeff Watts, Jack DeJohnette (drums)
  1. For All We Know
  2. Tennessee Waltz
  3. Little Girl Blue
  4. Falling In Love With Love
  5. I Should Care
  6. Sister
  7. Amanda
Recorded June 3, August 5, September 9, 1989

Nate Wooley/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Jason Roebke Throw down Your Hammer and Sing


The five improvisations on Throw Down Your Hammer and Sing still retain their attachment to the tools at the players' disposal; split-tones and cagey muted brass are clearly the trumpeter's task, while cutting tenor projection and string bulwarks belong to cello and bass, respectively. The sounds produced are often unfamiliar: high, circular harmonics the ear likens to metal tubing or filtered audio; fluffs and staccato breath, gulps and muffled shrieks approximate rustling papers or peeling tin; forcible assaults of bow on strings (or bridges) at an incremental pace sound like broken gadgetry or a computer glitch. Col legno on the cello's body has a distinctly electric resonance, whether or not it's 'processed.' Toward the close of the excellent "Sans Aluminumius" the trio release their tension into strummed pizzicato, high-pitched cello squall and crackling near-phrases from Wooley's trumpet, a nod to tradition in free music as well as a natural release from the slathered, piercing long-tone dissonance and energized, fuzzy stasis of the preceding ten minutes.

Tacones Altos; Sans Aluminumus; Southern Ends of the Earth; Saint Mary; Anywhere, Anyplace at All..

Nate Wooley: trumpet; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello and electronics; Jason Roebke: bass.

Woody Shaw with Tone Jansa Quartet

Woody Shaw With Tone Jansa Quartet

Shaw recorded a series of outstanding hard bop albums with American musicians but there is less available of him performing with Europeans. This album is, therefore, a welcome addition to his discography. Tone Jansa, a strong tenor saxophonist who also doubles on both soprano sax and flute, shares the front line with Shaw, and the two horns perform six compositions by Jansa backed by Jansa's swinging rhythm section. Shaw seems perfectly comfortable with the tunes, which range from sizzlers to ballads. Jansa and Shaw fit together well, and Shaw appears inspired by the interaction. Drummer Dragan Gajic kicks hard throughout while pianist Renato Chicco and bassist Peter Herbert play with strong feeling. The results are strikingly enjoyable, and all in all this should please admirers of the trumpeter. ~ Steven Loewy, All Music Guide

1.Midi 5:55
2.Boland 5:52
3.Call Mobility 7:40
4.River 8:19
5.Folk Song 4:48
6.May 8:18

Tenorist of Our Times : Jerry Bergonzi

Jerry Bergonzi - Tenor of the Times

Jerry Bergonzi has long been one of the top tenor saxophonists of his generation, though too many critics have typically overlooked his work in favor of major-label stylists on his instrument. Joined by a fine rhythm section, including pianist Renato Chicco, bassist Dave Santoro, and drummer Andrea Michelutti (all of whom are worthy of wider recognition as well), Bergonzi also takes advantage of his first date for Savant to feature his considerable skills as a composer. His robust approach to tenor is immediately apparent in his catchy "Acookarache," a powerful post-bop vehicle with a Latin undercurrent. "Bob Berg" is a driving midtempo tribute to its namesake, a fine tenor saxophonist who died in a tragic holiday traffic accident a few years prior to this session. Also enjoyable is "Stumbelina," a quirky, playful theme that the musicians interpret flawlessly. The leader's rapid-fire "Skull Shining" is a wild roller coaster anthem that seems like a natural piece to expand for a larger ensemble. The one standard of the date is a snappy treatment of "You're My Everything." This rewarding effort is well worth acquiring.

1 Acookarache Bergonzi 6:25
2 You're My Everything Dixon, Warren, Young 7:32
3 Bob Berg Bergonzi 8:39
4 Cadiz Bergonzi 6:07
5 Stumbelina Bergonzi 7:50
6 Skull Shining Bergonzi 7:01
7 The Tomb Bergonzi 6:05

Jerry Bergonzi tenor saxophone
Renato Chicco piano
Dave Santoro bass
Andrea Michelutti drums
2006 Savant 2074

Jerry Bergonzi – Tenorist

Jerry Bergonzi isn't the most recognized tenor saxophonist on the planet, as he has spent a long time in jazz education, though his discography as a leader is extensive. But since making his mark as a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the mid-'70s and then going off on his own, he has continued to grow as a player and developed a sound all his own. For these 2006 studio sessions, he utilizes a different rhythm section than on his first Savant CD, with guitarist John Abercrombie taking the place of a pianist, Adam Nussbaum now on drums, and the return of bassist Dave Santoro from the previous date. The music includes a mix of old and new originals. Bergonzi revisits his quirky "Gecko Plex," expressing himself with a solo bordering on avant-garde in spots. The playful off-center Latin rhythm in "Czarology" proves immediately infectious, while he overdubs a second tenor in "With Reference," which invites obvious comparisons to the collaborations of Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. Bergonzi also has a sense of jazz history. His loping treatment of Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica" is fairly straight-ahead, while his playing takes on a bittersweet tone in Kenny Dorham's neglected ballad "La Mesha." This remarkable CD is well worth investigating.

1 Gecko Plex Bergonzi 6:07
2 Pannonica Monk 6:52
3 Simultaneous Looks Bergonzi 6:55
4 Table Steaks Bergonzi 7:59
5 La Mesha Dorham 6:19
6 Czarology Bergonzi 3:50
7 With Reference Bergonzi 7:41
8 Creature Feature Bergonzi 7:07
9 On Again Off Again Bergonzi 4:29

Jerry Bergonzi tenor saxophone
John Abercrombie guitar
Dave Santoro bass
Adam Nussbaum drums

2007 Savant 2085

Jerry Bergonzi – Tenor Talk

Jerry Bergonzi focuses primarily on his potent originals during this quartet session issued in 2008. Joined by pianist Renato Chicco, bassist Dave Santoro, and drummer Andrea Michelutti, the tenor saxophonist's loping "Hank" (a tribute to Hank Mobley that he previously recorded in an entirely different setting) settles into a comfortable groove, with the band working together rather than settling for tenor plus rhythm section. "Girl Idlig" is named for Bergonzi's daughter, a hip breezy tune that has the spirit of Bill Evans running through it, a piece likely to become an enduring part of the tenorist's live repertoire. "Soul Mission" is a lighthearted work, with Michelutti switching to brushes, while the hypnotic "Splurge" is a twisting post-bop vehicle that was inspired by Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge." The Caribbean-flavored rhythm of "Left of Memory" utilizes the changes of the standard "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," with Bergonzi wailing and Chicco adding an inventive solo. The one standard, George Gershwin's "Who Cares," is the CD's opening track, a pep-filled workout featuring Bergonzi's explosive tenor powered by his driving rhythm section.

1 Who Cares? Gershwin, Gershwin 6:49
2 Hank Bergonzi 8:02
3 Girl Idlig Bergonzi 9:14
4 Soul Mission Bergonzi 7:11
5 Splurge Bergonzi 6:04
6 Wippin' and Waulpin' Bergonzi 8:30
7 Left of Memory Bergonzi 6:51

Jerry Bergonzi tenor saxophone
Renato Chicco piano
Dave Santoro bass
Andrea Michelutti drums
2008 Savant 422093

Jerry Bergonzi – Simply Put

Jerry Bergonzi has long been regarded as a top-flight tenor saxophonist among his peers and this session finds him in top form, playing with a seasoned, familiar rhythm section, consisting of pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Dave Santoro, and drummer Andrea Michelutti. Seven of the ten tracks are originals by the leader, starting with the tense, somewhat dark cooker "Mr. MB," dedicated to the late tenorist Michael Brecker. Bergonzi switches to soprano for his exotic "Malaga.""Transphybian" is an unusual blues that doesn't follow the predicted path, while "Crossing the Naeff" is a haunting ballad duet with Barth. Bergonzi's settings of standards are all refreshing. "Come Fly with Me" bursts with energy from his angular, Sonny Rollins-flavored approach, while his inventive re-harmonization of "Out of Nowhere" contrasts with a more traditional arrangement of "Dancing in the Dark." Highly recommended!

1 Mr. MB Bergonzi 5:54
2 Dancing in the Dark Dietz, Schwartz 6:53
3 Casadiche Bergonzi 8:01
4 Come Fly with Me Cahn, VanHeusen 7:11
5 Wipper Snapper Bergonzi 5:39
6 Out of Nowhere Green, Heyman 6:07
7 Crossing the Naeff Bergonzi 3:09
8 Transphybian Bergonzi 5:28
9 What If? Bergonzi 6:31
10 Malaga Bergonzi 4:52

Jerry Bergonzi tenor saxophone
Bruce Barth piano
Dave Santoro bass
Andrea Michelutti drums
2009 Savant 422099

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Alexander Von Schlippenbach - Friulian Sketches

This spontaneous chamber music establishes further advances in the development of improvisation as compositional process. Recorded in the prestigious Arte Suono Studios, Udine." "As you taste this dish, you'll be perhaps so engaged to query about the ingredients. At any given time you could lay this musical output equally at the feet of jazz, classical, or 20th century composed music. But the ingredients won't explain why it's so delicious -- it's the spices, seasoning, and flair of the chefs.

Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano); Daniel D'Agaro (clarinet); Tristan Honsinger (cello)

1. Via Dante (04.32)
2. Colori (03.59)
3. Notturno (02.30)
4. Fase (02.53)
5. Elegia (02.43)
6. Scherzo (02.28)
7. Romanza (04.24)
8. Valzer (03.33)
9. Allegro (03.01)
10. Rapsodia (02.00)
11. Versetto (03.31)
12. Recital (03.41)
13. Lamento (02.49)
14. Antifonia (03.56)
15. Capriccio (06.57)
16. Marcia (02.33)
17. Pronto per il salto (02.52)
18. Luna crescente (02.12)
19. Luna calante (02.01)
20. Irina (04.17)

Tim Hagans - No Words

Label: Blue Note
Catalog#: CDP 0777 7 89680 2 3
Bass - Scott Lee
Drums - Bill Stewart
Guitar - John Abercrombie
Piano, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] - Marc Copland
Saxophone [Tenor & Soprano] - Joe Lovano
Trumpet - Tim Hagans
Recorded on December 3, 1993 at Power Station, NYC.
No Words (5:40)
Nog Rhythms (8:29)
Waking Iris (7:36)
Noogaloo (6:44)
Immediate Left (8:06)
Passing Giants (5:03)
For The Music (8:51)
Housewife From New Jersey (8:00)
Lost In My Suitcase (7:56)

Ornette Coleman - This Is Our Music

With two landmark albums already under its belt, the Ornette Coleman Quartet spent nearly a year out of the studio before reconvening for This Is Our Music. This time, Billy Higgins is replaced on drums by Ed Blackwell, who has a similar knack for anticipating the ensemble's direction, and proves a more fiery presence on tracks like "Kaleidoscope" and "Folk Tale." The session is also notable for containing the only standard (or, for that matter, the only non-original) Coleman recorded during his tenure with Atlantic -- Gershwin's "Embraceable You," which is given a lyrical interpretation and even a rather old-time, sentimental intro (which may or may not be sarcastic, but really is pretty). In general, though, Coleman disapproved of giving up his own voice and viewed standards as concessions to popular taste; as the unapologetic title of the album makes clear, he wanted to be taken (or left) on his own terms. And that word "our" also makes clear just how important the concept of group improvisation was to Coleman's goals. Anyone can improvise whenever he feels like it, and the players share such empathy that each knows how to add to the feeling of the ensemble without undermining its egalitarian sense of give and take. Their stark, thin textures were highly distinctive, and both Coleman and Cherry chose instruments (respectively, an alto made of plastic rather than brass and a pocket trumpet or cornet instead of a standard trumpet) to accentuate that quality. It's all showcased to best effect here on the hard-swinging "Blues Connotation" and the haunting "Beauty Is a Rare Thing," though pretty much every composition has something to recommend it. All in all, This Is Our Music keeps one of the hottest creative streaks in jazz history going strong. ~ Steve Huey

Never has a title been more accurate than the Ornette Coleman Quartet's This Is Our Music. With Coleman in the lead, the legendary quartet (which also included bassist Charlie Haden, trumpeter Don Cherry, and drummer Ed Blackwell) literally created a new "harmolodic" jazz language that destroyed popular conventions of harmony, melody, and rhythm. It's an accepted concept that Coleman still uses today, but it was never more controversial than when the band cut this music in 1960. Even though Coleman fans can find the material that made up this album on Rhino's Beauty Is a Rare Thing box set, this is the first time that the original landmark album is available domestically on CD in its original format. Unfortunately, there is no new deluxe packaging or additional material, but the music has been remastered to give this album its best production values ever. Released on the Sepia-Tone archive label, this reasonably priced reissue is required listening for any fan of adventurous jazz. ~ Tad Hendrickson

Ornette Coleman (alto sax)
Don Cherry (trumpet)
Charlie Haden (bass)
Ed Blackwell (drums)

1. Blues Connotation
2. Beauty Is A Rare Thing
3. Kaleidoscope
4. Embraceable You
5. Poise
6. Humpty Dumpty
7. Folk Tale

Gil Evans - Priestess

I think someone in Italy will be happy tonight.

After the success of his studio sessions of the early to mid-'70s, Gil Evans primarily recorded live in concert during the remainder of his career. This is one of the better sets, for although two of the four selections are over 12 minutes long ("Priestess" exceeds 19 1/2 minutes), the music is generally under control. Evans's eccentric 16-piece group consists of three trumpets, trombone, French horn, two tubas, three saxes and a five-piece rhythm section including Pete Levin on synthesizer. With such soloists as altoists David Sanborn and Arthur Blyte, trumpeter Lew Soloff and George Adams on tenor, the music is quite stimulating and exciting. ~ Scott Yanow

Gil Evans (piano)
George Adams (tenor sax)
Arthur Blythe (alto sax)
Jimmy Knepper (trombone)
David Sanborn (alto sax)
Lew Soloff (trumpet, piccolo trumpet)
Howard Johnson (tuba)
Ernie Royal (trumpet)
Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson (trumpet)

1. Priestess
2. Short Visit
3. Lunar Eclipse
4. Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk

Dewey Redman: The Sound of a Giant

Dewey Redman: The Sound of a Giant
By R.J. DeLuke, All About Jazz

Dewey Redman has been on the scene for a long time, adding his musicianship to diverse musical settings with a long list of great jazz artists, and pursing his own challenging projects. It seems that each path he has taken, he has done so in a manner that speaks to who he is: straightforward and genuine.

Whether it's stomping out blues or bop, playing free with Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry, spicing up the work of Pat Metheny or Keith Jarrett, or performing in larger groups like Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra, this Texas tenor is always up to the task. He adds his sound, which can both warm and excite any setting. He has something to say.

One of the last of his generation of outstanding tenor saxophonists, Redman is still playing great and is still adventurous. But it gets kinda weird sometimes, because in today's mass media-fed society, many people only know him as Joshua Redman's father. Often, he's kind of taken for granted in the jazz community. But it doesn't dissuade him. The accolades would be nice, of course. But the artist keeps on moving, and creating and is grateful for the things that have come his way.

Diagnosed six years ago with prostate cancer, the Fort Worth native -- transplanted to New York City since 1967 -- was able to beat it and go on. He has also been able to stay afloat in the very unstable world of the jazz music business, which has been unkind to many in the past and is in a period that has just about everyone shaking their heads and shaking the bushes for gigs and recording opportunities.

“I'm lucky to be here. You know what I mean? At this point, I'm 72 and a lot of my colleagues didn't make it,” he says. “To think that the great John Coltrane, who I knew personally when I lived in San Francisco -- I used to have conferences with him whenever he came to San Francisco -- he passed at 41, which is a terrible tragedy.”

“I'm a survivor,” he says. [...continued in comments]

Dewey Redman - Living on the Edge

The great tenor Dewey Redman has always been a versatile player and he really gets a chance to show off his individuality on this set, whether it is some freebop a la early Ornette Coleman, "Mirror Windows" (which is an explosion of sound and pure energy), the soulful "Blues for J.A.M. - Part 1," a free and speechlike tenor-piano duet with Geri Allen on "As One" and a boppish "Lazy Bird." On "If I Should Lose You," Redman has a rare chance to play some conventional but cliché-free alto. With bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Eddie Moore forming a solid team, this is an easily recommended set of inside/outside music.

1 Boo Boodoop Redman 9:46
2 Mirror Windows Redman 8:32
3 Blues or J.A.M., Pt. 1 Redman 5:02
4 If I Should Lose You Rainger, Robin 8:07
5 As One Redman 5:58
6 Lazy Bird Coltrane 6:20

Dewey Redman saxophones
Geri Allen piano
Cameron Brown bass
Eddie Moore drums

Recorded September 13-14, 1989
1993 Black Saint 120123

Henry 'Red' Allen - 1937-1941 (Chronological 628)

I was trying to get a Lil Hardin Armstrong Chrono recently, but passed on it when it hit $50; next time, perhaps. Meanwhile, she appears here in some solid company. Of Allen, the PG says; "He remained an idiosyncratic, unique stylist and was fêted as an avant-garde player by the young trumpeter, Don Ellis."

The final of the five Classics CDs that document the early recordings of trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen covers music from three very different bands. Allen is first heard singing and playing trumpet on eight pop tunes he uplifts with a recording group in 1937 that features altoist Tab Smith. Allen also plays four Dixieland standards with a hot septet in 1940 that includes trombonist Benny Morton, clarinetist Edmond Hall and pianist Lil Armstrong. The final eight numbers (four of which were previously unreleased) showcases his regular band from 1941 (with trombonist J.C. Higginbottham and clarinetist Edmond Hall) really romping through some hard-swinging performances, including "K.K. Boogie" and a two-part version of "Sometimes I'm Happy." All five of these Classics CDs are easily recommended; this is one of the better ones. ~ Scott Yanow

" ... The CDs in the middle of the sequence have too many duff tunes on them, but the 1937-41 set is stronger, since Allen switched labels (to Decca) in 1940 and started recording uncompromising jazz again. Sessions with Ed Hall, Zutty Singleton and Benny Morton are a little too brash, perhaps, but Allen's own playing is stirring throughout." ~ Penguin Guide

Henry "Red" Allen (trumpet)
Lil Hardin Armstrong (piano)
Danny Barker (guitar)
Tab Smith (alto sax)
Luis Russell (piano)
Edmond Hall (clarinet)
Benny Morton (trombone)
Ken Kersey (piano)
J.C. Higginbotham (trombone)
Billy Kyle (piano)
Pops Foster (bass)
Zutty Singleton (drums)
Paul Barbarin (drums)

1. Till the Clock Strikes Three
2. Merry-Go-Round Broke Down
3. You'll Never Go To Heaven (If You Break My Heart)
4. Miller's Daughter, Marianne
5. I Owe You
6. Have You Ever Been In Heaven?
7. (Is It) Love Or Infatuation?
8. Can I Forget You?
9. Down In Jungle Town
10. Canal Street Blues
11. King Porter Stomp
12. Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble
13. K. K. Boogie
14. Sometimes I'm Happy, Pt 1
15. Sometimes I'm Happy, Pt 2
16. Ol' Man River
17. Sheridan "Square"
18. Siesta At The Fiesta
19. (Back Home Again In) Indiana
20. Jack The Bellboy

Friday, November 6, 2009

Garvin Bushell - One Steady Roll

Mr. Bushell is an artist that has been discussed often around here. I highly recommend his autobiography.

As there are far too few Garvin Bushell recordings as a leader in our world, this previously unissued studio session is more than merely welcome. Well documented as a sideman, with many big bands, as well as modernists John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Eric Dolphy, Bushell's clarinet is widely regarded as the missing link between Sidney Bechet and Benny Goodman. These dates, done in Alameda, CA circa 1982, feature Bushell under the guidance and encouragement of friend and soprano saxophonist Richard Hadlock, who organized the date. It's a refreshing and comprehensive overview of vintage jazz from many big name sources, lovingly played by this Bay Area group and their main man. The symmetry between Bushell's vibrato toned clarinet and the piquant, tart soprano of Hadlock is a thing of beauty, meshing in high octave harmonic convergence. The Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli/Hot Club of France evergreen "Sweet Chorus" swings easily, as bundled trills and bop type lines extend the swing aspect of this classic vintage tune. "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" has Hadlock leading out while Bushell plays bassoon underneath, while Bechet's "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" is a solemn, melancholy deep blues. The band jumps up during "I Want to Be Happy," a spirited version based in fun and good times, as Bushell's wooden horn offers a lithe counter melody against the soprano and cornetist Leon Oakley. Pianist Ray Skjelbred lays it out thick and clean, filling space and adding his own hefty voicings on the two-part, simple jam "Blues for the Twentieth Century." A delightful take on "I Never Knew" from Cab Calloway's repertoire is quite similar to "Lady Be Good" in its makeup, a quintessential swing number played to priceless proportions by this fine group. The Ivie Anderson influenced singer Barbara Lashley appears on three tracks, featuring her literate and broad voice for the Eubie Blake chestnut "Memories of You," the light shuffle "Willow Tree" prodded by drummer John Markham's brush work, borrowed from the Fats Waller songbook, and a slowed, dour "I Got It Bad" with her somewhat operatic sound ringing out in hope for better days ahead. Bushell was 81 years old at the time of this recording, ten years before his passing, and sounding as energetic as a man half his age. He was a true original in the annals of early period and modern jazz, so this long-awaited document from an undisputed master should be loved by millions, and treated as the most precious of historical items. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Garvin Bushell (clarinet, bassoon)
Richard Hadlock (soprano sax)
Ray Skjelbred (piano)
Leon Oakley (cornet)
Stuart Wilson (bass)
John Markham (drums)

1. Sweet Chorus
2. Memories Of You
3. Blues For The Twentieth Century, Part 1
4. Blues For The Twentieth Century, Part 2
5. I Never Knew
6. Willow Tree
7. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
8. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
9. My Daddy Rocks Me (With One Steady Roll)
10. I Want To Be Happy
11. Si Tu Vois Ma Mere (I Remember When)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gene Krupa - 1958 Plays Gerry Mulligan Arrangements

Those who saw much of Gerry Mulligan during his 1963 visit to Britain found him looking robust, substantial and outrageously English as he loped affably about London smoking his pipe. And anyone who could, almost automatically contrasted this new Mulligan with the skeletally thin figure, with his sandy hair pruned down to little more than a ginger lawn, whose shortness of temper and air of almost perpetual irritability had made him such a prickly individual during his previous visit six years earlier. But if, in the matter of mere physical appearance and disposition, he has altered somewhat over the years, musically there is a consistency about him that runs right through his career; and this record, although made in 1958, takes us almost as far back as we can go in Mulligan's work in jazz. Nowadays a constant pollwinner on baritone sax, he made his first big impression as an arranger, and we have here twelve of the two dozen arrangements he did for Gene Krupa's band, of which he was a member, during 1946. He was then only nineteen.
Already he was thinking in terms of that articulate airiness that he later brought to exquisite perfection in the Quartet. At that early age he could have been excused had he succumbed to the temptation to wallow in the opulent sounds possible with a big band. But he didn't. That ambling boneyness, which is his by physique, had already got into his writing. You will notice that apart from Disc jockey jump, which was one of the Krupa band's big successes at the time, the tempos are nearly all relaxed, almost casual. And If you were the only girl in the world not only demonstrates his ability to sustain interest at a really slow tempo, but points also to his flair for working wonders with what appears at first sight to be unlikely material. The tune had been written right back in 1916 by Nat Ayer for a famous London musical show, "The Bing Boys are Here', and although a good strong one, it had always seemed to me to have rather an excess of that maudlin quality that goes down so well in pubs. But if there has to be a highspot on the record, for me it is this number.
Mulligan's own Bird house and Birds of a feather, and Yardbird suite by Parker himself, are Gerry's ample tribute to Charlie Parker. How high the moon, a number written by Morgan Lewis and Nancy Hamilton in 1940, had an uncanny fascination for the early modernists, who made it their own much as the jam sessioneers had once appropriated Honeysuckle rose and the revivalists were to latch onto The Saints. Margie by Con Conrad and J. Russell Robinson. is a standard dating from 1920. Mulligan stew is Gerry's tune but somebody else's title; he is said to have vowed thereafter never again to leave the choice of a name to another. Begin the beguine is Cole Porter's classic from the 1935 show 'Jubilee'. The way of all flesh was simply adopted as a title at about the time Mulligan was reading Samuel Butler's novel. Sometimes I'm happy V is one of the incredibly simple but highly effective numbers that came so readily to Vincent Youmans. It was in a 1927 musical called `Hit the Deck'.
When this record was played back, Mulligan was reported as being pleasantly surprised to hear how well this early work of his had stood the test of time. But he writes in a timeless way and, except when he's setting fashions for others to follow, has a sweeping disregard for such temporary things as musical fashions. What other modernist (if that term is not itself too restrictive) would dare to call himself a Dixieland musician, or admit that he'd been influenced by Red Nichols' Five Pennies? Come to that, how many jazzmen could have written with both originality and maturity while still in their teens and not only please a bandleader of an earlier musical generation altogether, but make him think it worth while rerecording those same arrangements a dozen years later still ?
Gene Krupa, who began his recording career a few months after Gerry Mulligan was born, was one of the first drummers whose technique was up to the demands of the swing era. Beginning as a Chicagoan, both geographically and musically, he went into big commercial dancebands in the early thirties, and by the time he joined Benny Goodman in 1935 he was not only a very able drummer but a first rate showman as well. He continued to propel the Goodman band in spectacular fashion until he left to form a band of his own in 1938. With a gap in the mid forties, when in the space of a few months he returned to Goodman and did a spell with Tommy Dorsey, he led a band continuously until 1951, when he first became part of Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic Empire.
One of the most striking things about jazz development in recent years has been the steady change in rhythm sections; by current standards Krupa is practically old-fashioned. But he's a great driver, a propulsive force whose powers of getting a big band off the ground are as full as ever. If he has changed at all it is in the matter of restraint. My memory seems to tell me that he had an over fondness for the bass drum in the swing days, a tendency to make a lot of noise out of sheer exuberance But here he plays with a light crispness and an almost unbelievable accuracy, steering an eager band through the spacious framework of a dozen arrangements provided by the almost unknown young arranger he'd had the farseeing good sense to employ all those years earlier.

Tommy Flanagan

Tommy Flanagan - Flanagan's Shenanigans

Tommy Flanagan was honored with the Jazzpar Prize in 1993 by the Danish Jazz Center and took part in a special concert as all honorees have. The pianist is always a treat to hear in a live setting, and this evening is no exception. His trio includes bassist Jesper Lundgaard and drummer Lewis Nash, while on the first four numbers he is joined by the six piece Jazzpar Windtet. "Eclypso" and "Beyond the Bluebird," two of the pianist's best-known works, are highlights of this portion of the concert, with the former featuring a memorable baritone horn solo by Vincent Nilsson. Jesper Thilo, arguably one of Europe's best tenor saxophonists, takes the place of the Windtet on Quincy Jones' lovely ballad "For Lena and Lennie." The trio is featured the rest of the way; the catchy blues "Flanagan's Shenanigan's" (written by pianist James Williams) and Flanagan's lyrical interpretation of "But Beautiful" particularly command your attention. As one of the relatively rare live recordings featuring Tommy Flanagan as a leader, this CD is warmly recommended.

1 Eclypso Flanagan 7:43
2 Beyond the Bluebird Flanagan 8:13
3 Minor Mishap Flanagan 6:49
4 For Lena and Lennie Jones 8:00
5 Flanagan's Shenangians Williams 5:19
6 Balanced Scales McIntosh 10:21
7 But Beautiful Burke, VanHeusen 4:14
8 Let's Jones 6:16
9 Tin Tin Deo Fuller, Pozo 12:44

Tommy Flanagan piano
Jesper Lundgaard bass
Lewis Nash drums
Jesper Thilo tenor saxophone

1995 Storyville 4191

Tommy Flanagan - Sunset and the Mockingbird

Recorded at the Village Vanguard on the night of his 67th birthday, Tommy Flanagan celebrated by recording this memorable set. Joined by bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash, the brilliant pianist devours two up-tempo bop classics by Thad Jones, "Birdsong" and "Let's," plus a trio of tunes by Tom MacIntosh (a composer who merits wider recognition). His lengthy sojourn through Dizzy Gillespie's "Tin Tin Deo" explores new ground, while the late trumpeter's lesser-known "I Waited for You" is quite enchanting. Flanagan's arrangement of the title track, a rarely performed song from Duke Ellington's "Queen's Suite," matches the elegance of the late composer's recording. His dramatic solo of "Good Night My Love" is dedicated to his wife Diana, who is not only present but heard answering her husband's call to her at the end of the night.

1 Bird Song Jones 9:16
2 With Malice Toward None McIntosh 10:27
3 Let's Jones 7:19
4 I Waited for You Fuller, Gillespie 5:27
5 Tin Tin Deo Fuller, Pozo 14:35
6 Sunset and the Mockingbird Ellington 5:52
7 The Balanced Scales/The Cupbearers Macintosh 12:43
8 Goodnight My Love Gordon, Revel 4:09

Tommy Flanagan piano
Peter Washington bass
Lewis Nash drums

Recorded May 16, 1997
1998 Blue Note 93155

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Irene Reid - Million Dollar Secret

This is a fun recording, one of singer Irene Reid's few in a small-group setting. Assisted by organist Charles Earland, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, trumpeter James Rotundi, guitarist Bob DeVos, and drummer Greg Rockingham, Reid mostly interprets familiar material. Two songs (a swinging "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes" and "This Bitter Earth") are associated with Dinah Washington, the humorous title cut was made famous by Helen Humes, and there are a couple of middle-of-the-road pop songs and a pair of humorous blues ("Big Fat Daddy" and "One Eyed Man"). Million Dollar Secret is not an essential release, since most of the material is quite familiar, but this is one of Irene Reid's finest recordings. ~ Scott Yanow

Irene Reid (vocal)
Charles Earland (Hammond B3 organ)
Eric Alexander (tenor sax)
James Rotondi (trumpet)
Rob De Vos (guitar)
Greg Rockingham (drums)

1. What A Difference A Day Makes
2. Here's To Life
3. What I Did For Love
4. Big Fat Daddy
5. One Eyed Man
6. Didn't We
7. Million Dollar Secret
8. This Bitter Earth

Anita O'Day - Volume 1: 1941 (Masters Of Jazz)

A publicity picture that looks like a mug shot: my kind of gal. This Masters Of Jazz release begins at a point in her career well before the Chronological series.

Born Anita Belle Colton in Chicago, she was raised largely by her mother, and entered her first marathon-dance contest while barely a teenager. She spent time on the road and occasionally back at home, later moving from dancing to singing at the contests. After bad experiences amid brief tenures with Benny Goodman and even Raymond Scott, O'Day earned a place in Gene Krupa's band in 1941. Several weeks later, Krupa also hired trumpeter Roy Eldridge, and the trio combined to become an effective force, displayed on hits like "Let Me Off Uptown," "Boogie Blues," and "Just a Little Bit South of North Carolina."

"An insolent, sexy creature came out of nowhere, ignoring the rampant sentimentalism of the day, and charging the most insipid of songs with her own dynamic electricity. Her name was Anita O'Day, and from that moment on, Gene Krupa's band would never be the same. ... A few weeks after ... she was teamed up with one of the greatest trumpeters in the history of jazz."

Anita O'Day (vocals)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Sam Musiker (clarinet, alto sax)
Milt Raskin (piano)
Shorty Sherock (trumpet)
Gene Krupa (drums)

1. All Reet
2. Georgia On My Mind
3. Fool Am I
4. Let's Get Away From It All
5. Just A Little Bit South Of North Carolina
6. Slow Down
7. Drum Boogie
8. All Reet
9. Fool Am I
10. I Take To You
11. Green Eyes (master take)
12. Green Eyes
13. Let Me Off Uptown (master take)
14. Let Me Off Uptown
15. Kick It
16. Kick It
17. Amour (Amor)
18. Stop! The Red Light's On
19. Watch The Birdie
20. The Walls Keep Talking
21. Let Me Off Uptown
22. Amour (Amor)
23. Drum Boogie
24. Let Me Off Uptown

Count Basie - Basie In London (1956)

Basie In Sweden had already been used by Roulette earlier so I guess Verve had to come up with something different for a title. All in all a pretty good review from Nastos but "Flute Juice" is a feature for Frank Wess, not Foster. And where does he hear "A Foggy Day"? Probably still thinking about the title I guess.

First off, this album is inaccurately titled. Though the cover photo shows Count Basie with two lavishly dressed Brits, the recording was done in its entirety from a 1956 concert in Gothenburg, Sweden. Why it was titled thusly is anyone's guess. As far as the music, it represents the Basie band in a classic time period, playing many well-known, long-lasting, and beloved tunes that everybody will recognize. It's also a band loaded with legendary Basie sidemen like Freddie Green, Sonny Payne, Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Joe Newman, Marshall Royal, Charlie Fowlkes, and on three tracks, Joe Williams. The warm, effusive, happy jazz of Count Basie is well recorded with distinction, presence, good stereo separation, and the restrained yet punchy sound Basie always presented with dignified class. Whether it's the trombones taking over on "Jumpin' at the Woodside," the low-key sonance of "Shiny Stockings," the roaring horns during "A Foggy Day," or the under two-minute, hard-charging "One O'Clock Jump," this music is all immediately identifiable and unmistakably Basie. Buster Harding's "Nails" is a blues jam with Green's strumming more audible amidst the echoes of the repeat traditional instrumental line of "my mama done told me" paraphrased from "Blues in the Night," while the Ernie Wilkins feature for Frank Foster, "Flute Juice," is a nimble excursion based on the changes of "I Got Rhythm." With Williams, the band backs the erudite deep-throated singer on a choogling "Alright, Okay, You Win," the quick "Roll 'Em Pete" (where the singer jives about his "gal way up on the hill"), and "The Comeback" (where Williams declares his return to his baby over a stairstep construct). "Corner Pocket" remains the ultimate signature head-nodding Basie tune, but "Blee Blop Blues" might be seen as a jab or tease at bop, when it is solidly in that genre. Four extra tracks are included on the CD version, including and up-and-down version of "Yesterdays," a cute, medium-tempo untitled jam with Basie's piano firmly stamped on it, the explosively crazy three-minute Wilkins ditty "Sixteen Men Swinging," and Neal Hefti's "Plymouth Rock," which is a more lyrical vehicle, easygoing and trumpet-infused (possibly Thad Jones, although he's unidentified as the soloist). This solid document of Count Basie's "hits" come highly recommended, despite the disingenuous marketing ploy of it being based somewhere else. - Michael G. Nastos

Reunald Jones, Thad Jones, Joe Newman, Wendell Culley (trumpet)
Benny Powell, Henry Coker, Mathew Gee (trombone)
Marshal Royal, Bill Graham, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Charlie Fowlkes (reeds)
Count Basie (piano)
Freddie Green (guitar)
Eddie Jones (bass)
Sonny Payne (drums)
Joe Williams (vocals)
  1. Jumpin' at the Woodside
  2. Shiny Stockings
  3. How High the Moon
  4. Nails
  5. Flute Juice
  6. One O'Clock Jump
  7. Alright, Okay You Win
  8. Roll 'Em Pete
  9. The Comeback
  10. Blues Backstage
  11. Corner Pocket
  12. Blee Blop Blues
  13. Yesterdays
  14. Untitled
  15. Sixteen Men Swinging
  16. Plymouth Rock
Recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden, September 7, 1956

Teddy Wilson - Blues For Thomas Waller

A really remarkable man when you look at his career. He - according to the Penguin Guide - formed a duo with none less than Art Tatum when he was 19 years old, and thereafter was taken up by Benny Carter. Thereafter he worked with, and was one of, the jazz giants. Respect to Mr. Wilson; plus, he swings.

Teddy Wilson, the definitive swing pianist, never really sounded like Fats Waller, although his style was complementary. This solo session finds him swinging his way through 11 of Waller's compositions, including two versions of "Honeysuckle Rose," along with two tributes -- "Blues for Thomas Waller" and "Striding After Fats." Wilson's style was unchanged from 40 years earlier, but he still infused his solos with enthusiasm and melodic creativity, and this set is a pretty inspired effort. ~ Scott Yanow

Teddy Wilson (piano)

1. Honeysuckle Rose (take 1)
2. My Fate Is In Your Hands
3. Ain't Cha Glad?
4. I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling
5. Stealin' Apples
6. Blues For Thomas Waller
7. Handful Of Keys
8. Striding After Fats
9. Squeeze Me (take 1)
10. Zonky
11. Blue Turning Grey Over You
12. Ain't Misbehavin'
13. Black And Blue
14. Honeysuckle Rose (take 2)
15. Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
16. Handful Of Keys (take 2)
17. Squeeze Me (take 2)
18. Honeysuckle Rose (take 3)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Matthew Shipp Quartet - Cosmic Suite

A tangled web links the cast of Matthew Shipp's latest recording on the adventurous NotTwo imprint. Saxophonist Daniel Carter features in Shipp's Nubop Quartet and on his feted Strata (1997, HatHut) release, while Shipp has guested extensively with Other Dimensions In Music, one of Carter's prime outlets. As a rhythm section, bassist Joe Morris and drummer Whit Dickey underpin Shipp's current piano trio, but have a decade old back story on each others discs, and Carter joined both as part of the Ensemble of Possibilities at the 2008 Vision Festival. Nothing new in favored coteries hanging together, but the point here is that these guys know each other inside out and it shows in the unity of purpose which pervades these nine pieces.

Although billed as a suite, there are no obvious links between the cuts, which inhabit that delicious middle ground between the preconceived and the extemporized where distinctions blur, making the resultant offering more unknowable than a composition, yet more structured than complete improvisation. In fact it sometimes sounds as if the four are interpreting a set of themes, which are never stated yet subtly shape and color what is played.

While no-one consistently leads, Shipp's insistent resounding chords act as recurring motifs which energize the group interaction before dissipating into dark rumbling undercurrents or romantic flourishes. Carter, who features on trumpet, clarinet and alto saxophone, studiously avoids the easy option of echoing Shipp, gliding serenely above the pianist's repeated patterns. His abstract musings largely eschew the extreme registers; with bluesy melodics often ending in sighs or whispers. Part Eight is the exception where Carter's urgent keening alto outpouring culminates in a ululating cry, returning later for a coda of delicate lyricism ending in a heart rending vibrato, for one of the highlights of the album.

Largely restrained, drummer Dickey nonetheless nurtures a continually evolving pulse, while keeping up an oblique commentary of intricate cymbal patterns and timbral variation. On bass Morris, though similarly controlled, cannily augments the already fertile group interaction, perhaps deploying a measured pizzicato in loose conjunction with Dickey or interjecting ominous arco flurries.

From the romantic cadences of Part One, through the spacey chamber feel of Part Three, which Shipp sits out allowing Carter's percolating clarinet to hold court, to the bouncing rhythm of Part Four where a recurring riff from Shipp presages a tender dialogue between alto and bass, each piece is jam packed full of eventful detail defying description. Shipp features strongly Part Six where his lyrical lines make nodding acquaintance with the quick stepping bass and drums, while Part Seven is a solo piano exploration of varying tempos and registers. Part Nine delivers spacious resolution at journey's end with sparse piano, murmurs and mutters from Carter's alto, shaded by cymbal and drum textures before Morris'; pizzicato deliberation on what has gone before essays a downbeat ending to what has been an absorbing, surprising and intense session: one which handsomely repays repeated listening and matches the best of Shipp's recent output. ~ John Sharpe

Matthew Shipp (piano)
Daniel Carter (trumpet, clarinet, alto sax)
Joe Morris (bass)
Whit Dickey (drums)

1. Cosmic Suite Part 1
2. Cosmic Suite Part 2
3. Cosmic Suite Part 3
4. Cosmic Suite Part 4
5. Cosmic Suite Part 5
6. Cosmic Suite Part 6
7. Cosmic Suite Part 7
8. Cosmic Suite Part 8
9. Cosmic Suite Part 9

David S. Ware Quartet - Wisdom Of Uncertainty

The first recorded appearance of drummer Susie Ibarra with the David S. Ware Quartet is an auspicious one to be sure. Her contrasting style with former drummer Whit Dickey is one of both physicality and fluidity. Ibarra is a far more physical drummer than Dickey is, and is given to deep rhythmic grooves that produce dance-like flourishes in her accents and fills. How that affects the band is obvious from the opening bars of "Acclimation," where her snare and cymbal work set the pace for Ware, who enters singing. Shipp carries in a seriously blues-inflected chordal series of minor thirds and sixths, and Parker is happier than a clam, as his full physical manner of playing is given depth and breadth here. The band charges Ware's compositions (yes compositions), cornering the tiger in them, only to let it loose again in order to chase it down. There is a brightness and fullness in Ibarra's approach that offers Ware more room to fluctuate in his legato phrasing, turning it over and moving through a series of obligato and even ostinatos in his melodic workups and in his solos — check the long breaks in "Utopic" and "Continuum." Likewise, Shipp is free to rumble around in the deep registers of the piano he so enjoys, as he does on the opener and "Antidromic." His blocky style is far more fluid on this recording, as it shifts its right hands maneuvers with Ibarra's angular accents and around the kit flails and rolls — check her solo in "Utopic." This is a record that sings; its song is a wild and wooly one to be sure, but it is a giant leap compositionally for Ware, and for the ensemble with its new drummer. Thom Jurek

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

1. Acclimation
2. Antidromic
3. Utopic
4. Alignment
5. Sunbows Rainsets Blue
6. Continuum

Track Of The Day

Leadbelly - King of the 12-String Guitar

Hudie Ledbetter, known to all as "Leadbelly." was the source of so many ballads and blues that it is hard to imagine where American folk music would be without him. "Goodnight Irene," "The Midnight Special," "Ella Speed"--songs that were the repertoire staples of every folk singer in the '60s--all came from Leadbelly. His rough and ragged voice, forged out of the hard life he lived, gives a poignancy to his singing. His powerful guitar playing, rhythmic and insistent, drives his music forward into immortality. Reflecting the diversity of its people, American folk music spans a much broader musical spectrum than, say, English folk songs. Leadbelly anchors one end of that spectrum. At the other, the plaintive Appalachian mountain singer, Jean Ritchie. Between them gallop the likes of Woody Guthrie, the Weavers, Burl Ives, and many others. It's a rich heritage worth a lengthy listen. But start with Leadbelly because he is the fountainhead of so much of what we know of America's people-music.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Popular Duke Ellington (1966)

If you're as much of a Duke Ellington fan as I am then you never get tired of hearing different versions of these tunes. Have you noticed how often Yanow uses the line "few surprises occur" as if that were a bad thing?

This CD reissue features Duke Ellington and His Orchestra running through 11 of the leader's hits and a lesser-known blues tune, "The Twitch." The 1966 version of his big band still had all of its main stars, including such major voices as trumpeters Cootie Williams and Cat Anderson, trombonists Lawrence Brown and Buster Cooper, altoist Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves on tenor, and clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton. All are featured on The Popular Duke Ellington. Since the material is all very familiar, and mostly quite concise (nothing over six minutes long, and a version of "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me" that is under two minutes), few surprises occur. But Ellington fans will enjoy this well-played effort. - Scott Yanow

Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Herbie Jones, Mercer Ellington (trumpet)
Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, Chuck Connors (trombones)
Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney (reeds)
Duke Ellington (piano)
John Lamb (bass)
Sam Woodyard (drums)
  1. Take the 'A' Train
  2. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
  3. Perdido
  4. Mood Indigo
  5. Black and Tan Fantasy
  6. The Twitch
  7. Solitude
  8. Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
  9. The Mooche
  10. Sophisticated Lady
  11. Creole Love Call
  12. Caravan

Sunday, November 1, 2009

BN LP 5027 | Various Artists - Swing Hi-Swing Lo

I've Found A New Baby
Limehouse Blues
Conversing In Blue
Blues For Clarinets
Basically Blue
Blues In My Music Room

This 10" basically brings together some of the earlier 78 releases which Blue Note had released 6-8 years previously.
It documents Alfred Lions brief flirtation with Swing and is a lovely little compendium.

Benny Morton (tb) Barney Bigard (cl) Ben Webster (ts) Sammy Benskin (p) Israel Crosby (b) Eddie Dougherty (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, January 31, 1945
- Conversing In Blue, Limehouse Blues

Buck Clayton (tp) Keg Johnson (tb) Ike Quebec (ts) Roger Ram Ramirez (p) Tiny Grimes (g) Grachan Moncur (b) J.C. Heard (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, July 17, 1945
- I've Found A New Baby

Ray Nance (tp) Henderson Chambers (tb) Jimmy Hamilton (cl) Otto Hardwick (as, cl) Harry Carney (bars, cl) Jimmy Jones (p) Oscar Pettiford (b) Sidney Catlett (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, November 21, 1945
-Blues For Clarinets, Slapstic, Blues In My Music Room

Shad Collins (tp) Keg Johnson (tb) Ike Quebec (ts) Roger Ram Ramirez (p) John Collins (g) Milt Hinton (b) J.C. Heard (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, September 23, 1946
- Basically Blue

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

Play ~ Wait A Day ~ Play

April 26, 1964

Charles Mingus (bass)
Eric Dolphy (alto sax, bass clarinet, flute)
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
Jaki Byard (piano)
Dannie Richmond (drums)

1. Orange Was the Color Of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk
2. Sophisticated Lady
4. Peggy's Blue Sky Light
5. So Long Eric

"Wuppertal Townhall", Wuppertal, West Germany: April 26, 1964

April 28, 1964

Charles Mingus (bass)
Eric Dolphy (alto sax, bass clarinet, flute)
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
Jaki Byard (piano)
Dannie Richmond (drums)

CD 1
1. These Foolish Things
2. Orange Was the Color Of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk
3. So Long Eric
4. Peggy´s Blue Skylight

CD 2
1. Fables Of Faubus
2. Sophisticated Lady
3. Meditations

"Mozartsaal", Stuttgart, West Germany: April 28, 1964

Track Of The Day

Lowell Fulson - 1946-1947

Choctaw Native and African-American bluesman Lowell Fulson was born near Tulsa, OK, in 1921 and grew up in the town of Atoka, which is right up against the Texas/Oklahoma border. Inspired by Blind Lemon Jefferson and one Coot Mason, an itinerant musician remembered as a "hillbilly guitarist," young Fulson moved to Ada, OK, in 1938 and began performing there with a string band led by Dan Wright. Married in 1939, he tried to swear off professional musicianship but soon had a gig accompanying blues shouter, soon-to-be wife-slayer, and ultimate syphilis victim Alger "Texas" Alexander. Lowell Fulson was conscripted into the armed forces in 1943. While stationed in Oakland, CA, he wandered into a 7th Avenue record store where shop owner and small-time record producer Bob Geddins stood operating a one-man record-pressing device. Picking up a guitar that was lying nearby, Fulson played on it until Geddins offered him his first recording assignment with a payment of $100 cash. This first volume in the Classics Lowell Fulson chronology opens with the first 12 sides he ever recorded. The session took place in San Francisco during June of 1946 with his brother Martin Fulson playing second guitar. Lowell Fulson sounded at this point something like Texas Alexander, Lightnin' Hopkins, or Muddy Waters on those records he made prior to and during his first months in Chicago. Note that Fulson's very first recorded tune, "Three O'Clock Blues," would soon become a staple in B.B. King's repertoire. The rural Texas vibe on these earliest Fulson sides may come as a surprise to those accustomed to his later, juicier production blues. The Fulson brothers' second and third recording dates took place near the end of 1946 with additional support from pianist Eldridge McCarty, bassist Bob "Big Dad" Johnson, and drummer Dickie "Little Man" Washington. Their first session of 1947 used a different lineup in pianist Rufus J. Russell, bassist Arthur Robinson, and drummer Asal "Count" Carson. Originally released on the Down Town, Big Town, and Down Beat labels, most of the tracks heard on this compilation proceed at a slow and reflective pace, with tempos slightly quickened on "You're Gonna Miss Me" and "Katie Lee Blues" and a full-blown boogie-woogie treatment given to "I Want You to Be My Baby" and "Don't Be So Evil." This earliest segment of the chronology, then, traces Fulson's gradual stylistic evolution from the austerely ruminative to the slightly rowdy. "Don't Be So Evil," in fact, really rocks. ~ arwulf arwulf

Lowell Fulson (guitar, vocal)
Martin Fulson (guitar)
Eldridge McCarty (piano)
Asal Carson (drums)

1. Three O'Clock Blues
2. Wild About You
3. Prison Bound
4. My Baby Left Me (Some Old Lonesome Day) (Goodbye, Goodbye)
5. Western Union Man
6. Lazy Woman Blues (I Worked So Hard)
7. River Blues, Pt. 1 (Texas Blues, Pt. 1)
8. River Blues, Pt. 2 (Texas Blues, Pt. 2)
9. I Walked All Night
10. Between Midnight and Day
11. Blues Is Killing Me
12. Did You Ever Feel Lucky
13. Crying Blues (Street Walking Woman)
14. You're Gonna Miss Me
15. Katie Lee Blues
16. Rambling Blues (Crying Won't Make Me Stay)
17. Fulson's Blues (Bad Luck and Trouble)
18. San Francisco Blues
19. Trouble Blues
20. I Want to See My Baby
21. Black Widow Spider Blues
22. Don't Be So Evil

Archie Shepp - There's A Trumpet In My Soul

Shepp is always an interesting - if uneven - performer. I've even read some pretty prominent musician (can't recall who at the moment) that considers him an absolute, can't play fraud. Interesting to see tuba wonderboy Ray Draper on this date. I wish someone would call me 'tuba wonderboy'.

Raspy avant-garde tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp (who unfortunately also plays some soprano on this date) is the lead voice in a group that sometimes grows to 13 pieces, including four brass players, two keyboards and two percussionists, on this reissue. Two vocals and a poem recitation weigh down the music a bit, although Shepp gets in some good licks. The overall results are not essential, but Archie Shepp was still in his musical prime at the time. ~ Scott Yanow

Archie Shepp (soprano and tenor sax)
Dave Burrell (piano)
Ray Draper (tuba)
Roy Burrowes (trumpet)
Walter Davis, Jr. (electric piano)
Brandon Ross (guitar)
Charles "Majeed" Greenlee (trombone)
Alden Griggs (flugelhorn)
Semenya McCord (vocals)

1. Suite, Pt. 1: There's A Trumpet In My Soul
2. Suite, Pt. 1: Samba Da Rua
3. Suite, Pt. 1: Zaid, Pt. 1
4. Down In Brazil
5. Suite, Pt. 2: Zaid, Pt. 2
6. Suite, Pt. 2: It Is The Year Of The Rabbit
7. Suite, Pt. 2: Zaid, Pt. 3