Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bernhard Arndt - Inside Insight

A key to the Universe, y'all.

Bernhard Arndt is a stunning pianist of depth, vision, and striking originality. Coming from a background that includes Bud Powell, John Cage, Herbie Nichols, La Monte Young, and Cecil Taylor, his approach, while effusive and often explosive, is rooted in a technical virtuosity that is staggering on both the inside and outside of the piano's body. Utilizing small, electronic, digital delays to create microtonal palettes from his skittering skeins of note clusters and chorded tapestries, Arndt is able to showcase truly what Monk meant when he said he played the notes between the keys. When listened to either loudly or with headphones, these tiny microharmonics become clearly evident and engulf the listener in a swirl of musical and tonal language previously unrealized. Whether Arndt is leaning deeply into one register for the flatness of tone that can only be realized when playing the outermost edge of a key with all of the mute pedals on, or reaching through the middle for the extended chord voices provided by his own reaction to the electronic amplifications emanating from his own playing, Arndt is not content to stay inside an idea for too long, preferring instead to round it out with denser bodies of timbre and attack. The 11 studies here are liable to wrap the listener in a cocoon of musical ambiguity, as the piano ceases sounding like itself and becomes more a key to the universe of overtone and chromatic architecture. To call what Arndt does anything other than sonic investigation would be a disservice to him and his work. Suffice to say that Arndt's recordings here are pure music realized through an impure approach to creating and manipulating sound. Inside Insight is truly a visionary work. ~ Thom Jurek

Bernhard Arndt (piano, electronics)

1. From outside
2. 11/8 inside
3. Modul X4
4. with Glass inside
6. Oberton Episoden
7. Präp - Delay I
8. with theme inside
9. Präp - Delay II
10. Metropolis
11. Prog 47

Benny Carter - Songbook

Often scattershot and self-indulgent, tribute albums have become a much maligned genre, but Benny Carter's Songbook is the sort of project that justifies the whole concept. Carter is not only a legendary jazz instrumentalist, but also a vastly underrated songwriter who doesn't actually sing himself. How are you going to showcase his talent except through a tribute album? By pulling together 13 different singers to tackle 15 of Carter's songs--written anytime from the 1930s to the 1990s--Songbook makes such a persuasive case for Carter that all our previous notions about the pantheon of jazz songwriters must be reevaluated. ~ Geoffrey Himes

Due to his being such a talented altoist, arranger and occasional trumpeter for seven decades, it is often forgotten that Benny Carter wrote some worthy songs along the way. "When Lights Are Low" and "Blues in My Heart" are standards while "Only Trust Your Heart," "Key Largo" and the novelty hit "Cow-Cow Boogie" are close. For this unusual set, 14 different singers had opportunities to interpret one or two Carter compositions while joined by a fine quintet consisting of cornetist Warren Vache, pianist Chris Neville, bassist Steve LaSpina, drummer Sherman Ferguson and Carter himself (88 at the time!) on alto. The ambitious program includes five Carter songs that were receiving their world premiere; in addition Carter also wrote or co-wrote the lyrics to nine of the pieces. The singers all show respect for the melody and words with Jon Hendricks being playful on "Cow-Cow Boogie," Joe Williams quite touching on "I Was Wrong" and a weakened Peggy Lee making a memorable cameo on "I See You." The vocalists consistently seem quite inspired by the unique project. There are many short Carter and Warren Vache solos and, even with the emphasis on ballads, there is more variety than one might expect. The well-conceived tribute (which also has fine appearances by Dianne Reeves, Carmen Bradford, Kenny Rankin, Marlena Shaw, Diana Krall, Billy Stritch, Shirley Horn, Bobby Short, Ruth Brown, Weslia Whitfield and Nancy Marano) is easily recommended.

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

1. Only Trust Your Heart - Dianne Reeves
2. All That Jazz - Carmen Bradford and Kenny Rankin
3. I Was Wrong - Joe Williams
4. Rain - Marlena Shaw
5. Cow-Cow Boogie - Jon Hendricks
6. Fresh Out Of Love - Diana Krall
7. Speak Now - Billy Stritch
8. A Kiss From You - Shirley Horn
9. You Bring Out the Best In Me - Bobby Short
10. My Kind Of Trouble Is You - Ruth Brown
11. When Lights Are Low - Weslia Whitfield
12. Lonely Woman - Nancy Marano
13. Key Largo - Carmen Bradford
14. We Were In Love - Dianne Reeves and Joe Williams
15. I See You - Peggy Lee

Wynton Kelly - Kelly Blue

Wynton Kelly was a greatly underrated talent, who was both an elegant piano soloist with a rhythmically infectious solo style in which he combined boppish lines with a great feeling for the blues as well as a particularly accomplished accompanist, gifted with perfect pitch and a highly individual block chording style. Kelly's work was always highly melodic, especially in his ballad performances, while an irresistible sense of swing informed his mid and up-tempo performances.
Though he was born on the island of Jamaica, Wynton grew up in Brooklyn. His academic training appears to have been brief, but he was a fast musical developer who made his professional debut in 1943, at the age of eleven or twelve. His initial musical environment was the burgeoning Rhythm and Blues scene of the mid to late 1940s. Wynton played his first important gig with the R&B combo of tenor saxophonist Ray Abrams in 1947. He spent time in hard hitting R&B combos led by Hot Lips Page, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, in addition to the gentler environment of Johnny Moore's Three Blazers. In April 1949, Wynton played piano backing vocalist Babs Gonzales in a band that also included J.J. Johnson, Roy Haynes and a young Sonny Rollins.
Kelly's first big break in the jazz world came in 1951, when he became Dinah Washington's accompanist. In July 1951 Kelly also made his recording debut as a leader on the Blue Note label at the age of 19. After his initial stint with Dinah Washington Kelly gigged with the combos of Lester Young and Dizzy Gillespie and recorded with Gillespie's quintet in 1952. Wynton fulfilled his army service between 1952 and the summer or 1954 and then rejoined Washington and Gillespie in 1955. By this time Kelly had become one of the most in demand pianists on record. He distinguished himself on record with such talent as J.J. Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Johnny Griffin and especially Hank Mobley whom Kelly inspired to some of his best work on classic Blue Note albums like Soul Station, Work Out, and Roll Call.
Wynton proved himself as a superb accompanist on the Billie Holiday Clef sessions of June 1956 and showed his mettle both as an accompanist and soloist on the star-studded Norman Granz session with Coleman Hawkins, Paul Gonsalves, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz in 1957 that produced the fine Sittin' In album on the Verve label. In 1957 Kelly left Gillespie and formed his own trio. He finally recorded his second album as a leader for the Riverside label in January 1958, six years after his Blue Note debut.
In early 1959 Miles Davis invited Wynton to joint his sextet as a replacement for Bill Evans. Kind of Blue, recorded in March 1959, on which he shares the piano stool with Evans, Kelly excels on the track "Freddie Freeloader" a medium temp side that is closest to the more theory-free jazz of the mid-fifties. Wynton proved a worthy successor to Red Garland and Bill Evans in the Miles Davis combo, together with bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, an old colleague from Dinah Washington's rhythm section, he established a formidable rapport.
During his stay with Davis, Kelly recorded his fine Kelly Blue for Riverside and three albums for Vee Jay. By the end of 1962 Kelly, Chambers and Cobb formed the Wynton Kelly Trio, which soon made its mark. The Kelly Trio remained a regular unit for a number of years and reached the height of their popularity after they joined up with guitarist Wes Montgomery, resulting in three albums, a live set in New York's Half Note, a September 1965 studio album for Verve, and a live set at the Half Note for the Xanadu Label. Kelly's trio, now with Cecil McBee and Ron McClure kept working during the late 1960s until he died of an epileptic fit on April 12, 1971, aged only 39. ~ Joop Visser (from the liner notes, Wynton Kelly: First Sessions, Proper Records)


Open to free-form discussion, tech stuff, whatever... music related, please

Requests 3

Art Farmer & Tommy Flanagan - 1979 Stablemates

This nice, but short, session was recorded in Tokyo, on May 1979 by Art Farmer with the Super Jazz Trio (Tommy Flanagan, piano; Reggie Workman, bass;Joe Chambers, drums). Farmer and Flanagan had colaborated several times since 1956 and this Tokyo session would be their last one.
To extend the length of the record, 4 additional tracks have been added. Two tracks are from a session by Farmer with the Jazztet (including Curtis Fuller and Benny Golson on 'Autumn Leaves') without Flanagan. The other couple of tracks are Farmer-Flanagan collaborations recorded in 1976 in quintet with Jim Hall.

01 Au Privave (Parker) 6:34
02 Blame It On My Youth (Levant, Heyman) 7:40
03 My Heart Skips A Beat (Jordan) 6:07
04 Here’s That Rainy Day (Burke, Van Heusen) 6:00
05 Stablemates (Golson) 6:24
06 It Might As Well Be Spring (Rodgers, Hammerstein) 9:47
07 From Dream To Dream (Golson) 6:48*
08 Autumn Leaves (Mercer, Prevert, Kosma) 5:41*
09 Walk Soft (Hall) 7:15**
10 Indian Summer (Herbert, Dubin) 6:38**

Tracks 1-6
Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Reggie Workman
Joe Chambers (drums)

Recorded in Tokyo, Japan, May 25, 1979

Tracks 7, 8
Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Curtis Fuller (trombone on 8)
Benny Golson (tenor sax on 8)
Mickey Tucker (piano)
Rufus Reid (bass)
Billy Hart (drums)

Recorded in New York, November 22-23,1983

Tracks 9, 10
Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Jim Hall (guitar)
Ron Carter (bass)
Allan Ganley (drums)

Recorded in New York, June 21-22, 1976

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Red Nichols - 1927-1928 (Chronological 1241)

The first track features Nichols, Lang and Venuti, Miff Mole and Dorsey, Arthur Schutt and the hottest drummer (Dave Tough was just beginning, and was in Europe at this point) on the jazz scene, Vic Berton: his kid brother wrote a fine little book about Bix Beiderbecke. Paul Dresser, who wrote 'My Gal Sal' (track 21), also had a kid brother who was a good writer.

"These days it's a cliche to see Nichols as a maligned figure since the popular heyday of the white New York school of the '20s; but, with that era itself falling away into history, arguments about his stature vis-a-vis beiderbecke or Armstrong (and for a long time he seems to have been more popular than either) are even more academic. ... But it is unique jazz and, in its truce between cool expression and hot dance music, surprisingly enjoyable when taken a few tracks at a time" ~ Penguin Guide

Loring "Red" Nichols was an expert cornet player, a solid improviser, and apparently a workaholic, since he is rumored to have appeared on over 4,000 recordings during the 1920s alone. One of the ways he managed this feat was by appearing under countless different names, and in the case of this collection covering the years 1927 and 1928, he made recordings as Red Nichols & His 5 Pennies, the Six Hottentots, Red & Mill's Stompers, and Red Nichols' Stompers. Pay no attention to whether there were five Pennies or six Hottentots, since Nichols' groups tended to be eight or ten pieces or more, no matter what the moniker read, and usually featured longtime associates Miff Mole on trombone, Jimmy Dorsey on clarinet or alto sax, and the marvelous Dudley Fosdick on mellophonium. This collection features one of the biggest hits of Nichols' career, "Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider," and like "Cornfed," also collected here, it effortlessly combines a sophisticated arrangement with a kind of easy, down-home feel that masks its complexities. Although critics often brush right by him, Nichols was always a fresh and innovative arranger and bandleader. ~ Steve Leggett

Red Nichols (trumpet)
Eddie Lang (guitar)
Pee Wee Russell (clarinet, tenor sax)
Joe Venuti (violin)
Carl Kress (guitar)
Miff Mole (trombone)
Jimmy Dorsey (clarinet, alto sax)
Adrian Rollini (goofus, bass sax)
Frankie Trumbauer (C-Melody sax)
Vic Berton (drums)

1. Bugle Call Rag
2. Back Beats
3. I'm In Love Again
4. Sometimes I'm Happy
5. Rosy Cheeks
6. The Memphis Blues
7. Melancholy Charlie
8. Hurricane
9. Cornfed
10. Five Pennies
11. Mean Dog Blues
12. Riverboat Shuffle
13. Eccentric
14. Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider
15. Feelin' No Pain
16. Slippin' Around
17. Feeling No Pain
18. Sugar
19. Make My Cot Where The Cot-Cot-Cotton Grows
20. Nobody's Sweetheart
21. My Gal Sal
22. Avalon
23. Japanese Sandman

Track Of The Day

Monday, September 28, 2009

Peter Kowald - Was Da Ist

I just became aware of the Penguin Guide Crown list - too bad I didn't know about it months ago; in any case, many of the works on the list have appeared here. For the uninitiated (like me) this is the highest rating given by the PG. Inevitably, it is OOP. Here's what they have to say:

It may seem difficult, if not impossibly perverse, to justify the highest ranking for a record of solo contrabass improvisations. We remain unrepentant. This is music of the very highest order, technically adroit, emotionally and intellectually concentrated, and beautifully recorded. Only Derek Bailey and Evan Parker have shown themselves capable of sustained solo performance at this level; what distinguishes Kowald is the light, dry humour he brings to these pieces, philosophical quiddities that seem perfectly content not to be answered. Without other instruments in attendance, Kowald goes for a stronger and more than usually resonant attack which mitigates a slightly dry sound. A record to savour and ponder; a record to return to, as often as time allows. ~ Penguin Guide

1. Part 1
2. Part 2
3. Part 3
4. Part 4
5. Part 5
6. Part 6
7. Part 7
8. Part 8
9. Part 9
10. Part 10
11. Part 11
12. Part 12
13. Part 13
14. Part 14
15. Part 15
16. Part 16
17. Part 17
18. Part 18
19. Part 19
20. Part 20
21. Part 21
22. Part 22
23. Part 23

Peter Kowald - Bass Duets

Here are three different live sets of bass duets initiated by Peter Kowald between 1979 and 1982. All three are stellar in their attempt at defining, articulating, and realizing new musical paths that exist among free jazz improvising bassists, and also in showing how the instrument itself is defined when encountering a mirror image. Perhaps the four selections put forth here between Kowald and Barre Phillips articulate this best: With his bow, Phillips reaches far past what is acceptable even to him as an "authentic" bass voice, finding, with Kowald's participation and provocation, a musical, tonal, or even sonic voice instead. Here dynamic and drama are interwoven architecturally in a series of microtonal explorations of fragment, nuance, and musical image, both positively and negatively, ultimately arriving at a space where breach, fissure, and crack are the articulations of musical speech. With Barry Guy the affair turns more into a context of muscular, physical mechanics, and with Maarten Altena the bassists attempt, on each of their four selections, to reverse the role of rhythm as it exists not in concert with, but more in opposition to, the very idea of a melodic present, preferring instead to see it as a dead historical and formulaic construction that should be done away with in favor of the utterance of a marginal voice and a restored rhythmic prominence. In all this is a truly dramatic and astonishing recording. Those who encounter this set will never hear the bass the same way. ~ Thom Jurek

Peter Kowald (bass)
Barry Guy (bass)
Barre Phillips (bass)
Maarten Altena (bass)

Kowald and Phillips
1. Die Jungen: Random Generators
2. Two Fingers Please
3. Ein Stück Ins Blaue-Chops

Kowald and Guy
5. Das Schweigen Von Marcel Duchamp Wird Überbewertet
6. Paintings

Kowald and Altena
7. A+B>C
8. B>C
9. (A+B) 2>C
10. C>A+B

Art Farmer - You Make Me Smile

Art Farmer might be the single most posted individual here. This is, and there may be a few I overlooked, the 30th CD of his in my collection: that doesn't include Jazztet or Prestige AllStar discs. I like this guy. Is this my favorite? Nope. Is it worth having? Yep. Although this vies with the Seagulls Of Kristiansund and that Galbraith album for having the cheesiest cover.

Among the most consistent of jazzmen, flugelhornist Art Farmer sounds in fine form on this quintet outing with tenor-saxophonist Clifford Jordan, pianist Fred Hersch, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Akira Tana. The material, other than the standards "Nostalgia" and "Have You Met Miss Jones?" is more obscure than usual, with an adaptation of a Scriabin classical prelude and numbers by Rufus Reid, Farmer ("Flashback") and Benny Carter ("Souvenir"). Creative bop-based music with Farmer's usual subtlety clearly in evidence. ~ Scott Yanow

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
Fred Hersch (piano)
Rufus Reid (bass)
Akira Tana (drums)

1. You Make Me Smile
2. Prelude No. 1
3. Nostalgia
4. Flashback
5. Souvenir
6. Have You Met Miss Jones?

Danilo Perez - PanaMonk (1996)

This is one of the more interesting Thelonious Monk tribute albums of the 1990s. Pianist Danilo Perez does not really sound much like Monk except in a couple places on purpose, but he has clearly learned from Monk's music, particularly in his use of space and quirky dissonances. The trio performances range from respectful ballads and Latinized treatments of Monk tunes to originals that somehow fit logically into the mood of the set. Perez takes "'Round Midnight" and the two brief versions of "Monk's Mood" (which open and close the CD) unaccompanied, interacts closely with bassist Avishai Cohen on the other pieces, welcomes the haunting wordless vocal of Olga Roman to "September in Rio," and utilizes either Terri Lyne Carrington or Jeff Watts on the nine trio pieces. The music overall is adventurous, rhythmic, and quite joyful. A memorable outing by the talented Danilo Perez. - Scott Yanow

Danilo Perez (piano)
Avishai Cohen (bass)
Jeff Watts, Terri Lyne Carrington (drums)
Olga Roman (vocals on 8)

  1. Monk's Mood 1
  2. PanaMonk
  3. Bright Mississippi
  4. Think of One
  5. Mercedes' Mood
  6. Hot Bean Strut
  7. Reflections
  8. September in Rio
  9. Everything Happens to Me
  10. 'Round Midnight
  11. Evidence/Four in One
  12. Monk's Mood 2
Recorded January 3-4, 1996

Sunday, September 27, 2009

BN LP 5022 | Miles Davis, Volume 2

Miles Davis (tp) J.J. Johnson (tb -1/5) Jimmy Heath (ts -1/5) Gil Coggins (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, April 20, 1953

1. BN477-2 tk.3 Kelo
2. BN478-2 tk.6 Enigma
3. BN479-2 tk.9 Ray's Idea
4. BN480-0 tk.10 Tempus Fugit
5. BN481-3 tk.15 C.T.A.
6. BN482-0 tk.16 I Waited For You

** also issued on Vogue (E) LDE 064 entitled "Miles Davis And His Orchestra": Vogue (F) LD 172 entitled "Miles Davis And His Orchestra, Vol. 2

This is the second installment of Miles on Blue Note (again re-issued on the 1500 Series) - generally a better session. You can see that Blue Note then licensed the recording to Vogue for release outside the US.

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

David Murray - Ming

Raved about everywhere it is mentioned, yet I think this is OOP.

For many fans, the jazz album of the '80s was recorded before the decade was properly under way. Ming is an astonishing record, a virtual compression of three generations of improvised music into 40 minutes of entirely original jazz. The opening 'Fast Life' has a hectic quality reminiscent of another of Murray's household gods, Charles Mingus. 'Jasvan' is a swirling 'Boston' waltz that gives most of the band, led off by the marvelous Lewis, ample solo space. 'Ming' is a sweet ballad which follows on from the troubling, almost schizophrenic 'The Hill', a piece that occupies a central place in Murray's output, perhaps an image of the jazz gradus ad Parnassum that he is so studiously and passionately scaling. ~ Penguin Guide

That tenor saxophonist David Murray's Ming was recorded in the 1980s is no small feat, as that era was the dawn of the neoconservative movement. All who returned to jazz-band setups then seemed tracked for high dry-cleaning bills on their suits and a modicum of attention from the likes of Time and Newsweek, writing on the rebirth of jazz. But Ming was coming from an altogether different direction. Murray was a 25-year-old prodigy heavily schooled in the avant-garde fests he snagged in the World Saxophone Quartet and elsewhere. And so he took 1960s mainstream styles like hard bop and shot them through a kaleidoscope of complex group arrangements, spicing them severely with his inestimable chops, his awesome command of the tenor sax and bass clarinet, from their lowest depths to their most skating, tonal heights. In hindsight, his band on Ming looks like a jazz summit: pianist Anthony Davis sparring with alto saxist Henry Threadgill; trumpeter Olu Dara wrapping brass lines around cornetist Butch Morris's cryptic, limber bends and curves; George Lewis holding the low brass on trombone with drummer Steve McCall; and bassist Wilbur Morris pushing fast and hard, then dipping into a soul-laced bag while Murray indulges his best ballad chops. Ming is a classic that deserves its status. ~ Andrew Bartlett

David Murray (tenor sax, bass clarinet)
Henry Threadgill (alto sax)
Olu Dara (trumpet)
Anthony Davis (piano)
George Lewis (trombone)
Lawrence Butch Morris (cornet)
Wilber Morris (bass)
Steve McCall (percussion)

1. Fast Life
2. The Hill
3. Ming
4. Jasvan
5. Dewey's Circle

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gene Shaw - Breakthrough

This Dusty Groove label has been putting out some interesting things. I don't know if the record store is licensing and issuing things, or if they just leased their name for marketing purposes. Anybody know?

Trumpeter Gene Shaw honed his chops in Charles Mingus's band in the late 1950's before releasing this solo debut in 1962. Breakthrough has the hallmarks of many early `60s hard-bop outings: complex yet groove-oriented, lyrical yet surprising. Shaw leads a quintet through eight sophisticated workouts, encompassing ballads, blues, Latin-inflected pieces, and bop burners, and Shaw's thoughtful, poetic approach to the horn makes each shimmer. Though he's a relatively minor player in the hard-bop school, Shaw--and Breakthrough--should not be overlooked.

Rare genius from trumpeter Gene Shaw a player who worked famously with Charles Mingus (under the name Clarence Shaw) on the albums Tijuana Moods and East Coasting then disappeared from the scene after having a famous fight with his leader. After a few years of silence, Shaw resurfaced in Chicago with this brilliant debut as a leader for Argo Records -- a wonderful album that s filled with as much soul and emotion as his sessions with Mingus. The group has a slightly modern take on hardbop often straight and hard-swinging, but with plenty of room for the players to really stretch out with a great deal of expression. Shaw s trumpet tone is amazing right up there with Lee Morgan or Kenny Dorham at their Blue Note best and the rest of the group is wonderful too -- especially tenorist Sherman Morrison, whose work here is a real discovery. Chicago dates like this never got their due back in the day and this CD reissue finally brings Shaw s post-Mingus work into focus!

An amazing record -- bold, proud, and soulful -- a set that we'd easily rank with any classic early 60s session on Blue Note -- and for good reason too! This rare date is the debut as a leader for trumpeter Gene Shaw -- also known as Clarence Shaw in an earlier history of work with Charles Mingus -- and it's an incredible blend of hardbop grooving with sharper-edged modern jazz ideals -- an incredible blend that comes off beautifully on every track in the set! Shaw's probably best known for his late 50s work on the Charles Mingus albums Tijuana Moods, East Coasting, and Modern Jazz Symposium Of Music & Poetry -- but after a famous fight with Mingus, Clarence "hid out" in Chicago and worked under the name of Gene -- but soon made big waves on his own with tremendous work like this. (In the liner notes to the 1963 release of Tijuana Moods, in which Mingus says that he loved Shaw, but can't get in touch with him anymore!) Every aspect of the record is superb -- from the writing, to the rhythm section, to the incredibly well blown solos from trumpeter Shaw and tenorist Sherman Morrison -- who himself is another vastly-overlooked talent in jazz. The rest of the group features James Taylor on piano, Sidney Robinson on bass, and Bernard Martin on drums -- a totally crackling rhythm section who give most tunes a snapping sort of groove! Most tracks are originals, and titles include "Autum Walk", "Six Bits", "The Thing", "It's A Long Way", "AD's Blues", "Marj", and "Our Tune".

Gene Shaw (trumpet)
Sherman Morrison (tenor sax)
James Taylor (piano)
Sidney Robinson (bass)
Bernard Martin (drums)

1. Autumn Walk
2. AD's Blues
3. Marj
4. Six Bits
5. The Thing
6. Tonight
7. Our Tune
8. It s A Long Way

The Smithsonian Collection Of Classic Jazz

This is kind of a bittersweet thing to post. This is the one set I always looked forward to posting here; it is a set that I played over and over and have always really appreciated. The set I have had for many years is LP, which I didn't know how to rip. I acquired one or two of the CDs over the years and always hoped to get the full set. But now, I came across three sets the other day - two CD and one cassette(!). I bought them all, because this is the best gift I can think of for a burgeoning jazz fan or music student. But the timing is unfortunate, because we no longer post links because the troll and his crony have reported us to the RIAA and Interpol, and ... whatever. Several people are asking where the links are hidden: they're not. Leicht put an end to that. So, we are currently removing all links and will re-open shortly as a discussion site - stay tuned for details.

This is, in my opinion, the single best introduction to jazz that I know, both for the beginner and the long-time fan. It was (I have no idea why it was discontinued) a popular textbook in college jazz classes, which is where I first came to know it, and in music performance schools. I originally had the LP set and it was by far the most played set I ever owned. The music selection is broad and comprehensive, and the accompanying booklet by Martin Williams is thorough, informative, and even shows what to listen for in many cases and what the significance of particular performances and bands were. The remastering is by the great Jack Towers, and the book is scholarly enough (with biographies, bibliographies, etc.) for the established fan and yet basic enough for the jazz tyro. This is the revised edition, whichhas two different Sarah Vaughan selections than the first edition, and where the original ended with Coltrane's "Alabama" , this edition adds three Ornette Coleman selections and one by The World Saxophone Quartet

Still an excellent place to start a jazz collection, the Smithsonian's five-volume Classic Jazz series covers the music from its New Orleans days and the swing era up through bebop, hard bop, free jazz, and the years beyond. The fourth installment takes on the '50s, with highlights from Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool session, Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz's own abstract explorations, and Monk's early prime. Also included are some fine sides by the new hard bop kids on the block: Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, and Charles Mingus. Nicely rounded out by two vocal stunners from Sarah Vaughan, this disc -- like any of the Smithsonian collections -- works well as both a history lesson and a fun sampler of the jazz timeline. ~ Stephen Cook

Joe Lovano - Tenor Legacy (1993)

Active during a period of jazz history when it seemed radical innovation was a thing of the past, Joe Lovano nevertheless coalesced various stylistic elements from disparate eras into a personal and forward-seeking style. While not an innovator in a macro sense, Lovano has unquestionably charted his own path. His playing contains not an ounce of glibness, but possesses in abundance the sense of spontaneity that has always characterized the music's finest improvisers. Lovano doesn't adopt influences -- he absorbs them -- so that when playing a standard, he exudes the same sense of abandon as when playing totally free (which, it should be pointed out, he does well, if infrequently). Lovano's most significant achievement is his incorporation of free and modal expressive devices into traditional chord-change improvisation. - Chris Kelsey

Joe Lovano welcomes Joshua Redman to his sextet set (which also features pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash and percussionist Don Alias) and, rather than jam on standards, Joe Lovano composed five new originals, revived three obscurities and only chose to perform two familiar pieces. By varying the styles and instrumentation (for example "Bread and Wine" does not have piano or bass), Lovano has created a set with a great deal of variety and some surprising moments. The two tenors (who have distinctive sounds) work together fine and some chances are taken. This matchup works well. - Scott Yanow

Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman (tenor sax)
Mulgrew Miller (piano)
Christian McBride (bass)
Lewis Nash (drums)
Don Alias (percussion)
  1. Miss Etna
  2. Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
  3. Blackwell's Message
  4. Laura
  5. Introspection
  6. In the Land of Ephesus
  7. To Her Ladyship
  8. Web of Fire
  9. Rounder's Mood
  10. Bread and Wine
Recorded June 18, 1993

Kenny Clarke - 1948-1950 (Chronological 1214)

Bebop thrived on both sides of the Atlantic during the late '40s. While some Americans treated bop as nothing more than affected "hep talk" and a way of dressing up funny, there were profound artistic innovations at the heart of this new music. Kenny Clarke helped to establish bop in Europe, and the recordings he made in Paris document a wonderful flowering of early modern jazz that would have a decisive impact on the next half century of musical evolution worldwide. Trumpeter Howard McGhee was the prime focus of a session that came at the end of a full season of recording activity during the spring of 1948. This was quite an octet in that John Lewis was the pianist, Hubert Fol and Jimmy Heath played alto saxophones, and Jesse Powell — featured on "I'm in the Mood for Love" — played tenor sax. Anyone who's fond of bassist Percy Heath should hear him carrying the melodic line on "Out of Nowhere." Six sides waxed for the small-time Century label in New York on January 25, 1949, resound with Milt Jackson's vibraphone — he also doubled on piano — and Kenny Dorham's fine trumpeting combined with the unusual tonalities of a French horn played by Julius Watkins. Furthermore, Joe Harris expanded Clarke's percussion section by handling congas and timbale. The results are something like chamber bop, dignified and progressive. "You Go to My Head" features the vibes — Jackson makes the ballad feel like a blues — and "Roll 'Em Bags" sounds something like "Billie's Bounce." Back in Paris, Clarke's next recording date involved Hubert Fol and a facile trombonist by the name of Nat Peck. "Iambic Pentameter," a wild feature for the drums, closely resembles "Epistrophy," while famously opinionated jazz critic Hugo Panassie's name is sent up in an adventurous bop study called "Assy Pan Assy." On March 3, 1950, Clarke participated in a remarkable session with the brothers Hubert and Raymond Fol and bassist Pierre Michelot. Their version of "Out of Nowhere" is a gem. The first version of "These Foolish Things" is so bopped up it's hard to recognize. Version number two, a feature for the bassist, is similarly veiled through harmonic reconstruction. "Those Fol-ish Things" at last reveals the melody, played on alto by Hubert Fol. These variations survive as a pleasant example of the quirkiness of the boppers. The CD closes with two excellent tracks from the spring of 1950, with Gerald Wiggins, Nat Peck, and world-class saxophonist James Moody joining the pack. ~ Arwulf Arwulf

Kenny Clarke (drums)
Howard McGhee (trumpet)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
James Moody (tenor saxophone)
Jimmy Heath (alto saxophone)
Julius Watkins (flugelhorn)
John Lewis (piano)
Milt Jackson (vibraphone, piano)

1. Maggie's Draw
2. Annel
3. Out Of Nowhere
4. I'm In The Mood For Love
5. Conglomeration
6. Bruz
7. You Go To My Head
8. Roll 'Em Bags
9. Don't Blame Me (Faultless
10. Hey, Frenchy
11. Love In The Sun
12. Iambic Pentameter
13. Assy Pan Assy
14. Robbin's Nest
15. These Foolish Things
16. These Foolish Strings
17. Those Fol-Ish Things
18. Out Of Nowhere
19. I'll Get You Yet
20. Be A Good Girl

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cal Tjader - Sentimental Moods (Latin For Lovers With Strings & San Francisco Moods)

Latin For Lovers With Strings (1958)

The West Coast's leading vibraphonist, most of Cal Tjader's recordings for Verve in the 1960s took a middle road combining elements of jazz, Latin, and even easy listening music. His albums for Fantasy Records in the 1950s, however, often separated his many strengths instead of combining them -- Tjader would do a gritty Latin jazz session, follow it with a bop-fueled cool album, and then do a polite mambo album. Latin for Lovers With Strings is Tjader's mood music album for Fantasy, and the original liner notes state that the vibraphonist knew the pitfalls of making "make out" music and wanted to do more than just sell records to those who didn't care about jazz at all. The good news is that Tjader succeeded, though the album will be of much more interest to lounge music devotees than to jazz fans. Tjader used his normal working sextet for the date (including pianist Vince Guaraldi, flutist Paul Horn, and Latin percussionists Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo), so that there is an underpinning of jazz to the swank lounge proceedings, even if all of the melodic solo statements are kept very short. A big part of the album's success is due to Jack Weeks' string charts, which rarely swamp the band and avoid being syrupy. If this album is "selling out," at least it's selling out in style. Latin for Lovers was reintroduced to listeners on the two-for-one CD Sentimental Moods, which contains Tjader's hard-swinging jazz outing San Francisco Moods. ~ Nick Dedina

1. I Should Care
2. Spring Is Here
3. Time Was
4. Star Eyes
5. Stella By Starlight
6. Alone Together
7. Ode To A Beat Generation
8. Skylark
9. Martha
10. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas

San Francisco Moods (1958)

Biographies of Cal Tjader always mention that he was a master of Latin Jazz, born in St. Louis. But Tjader spent the bulk of his tragically short life in San Francisco and he was also one of the leading lights of the West Coast cool jazz scene. This wonderful album features a set of original tunes that take the listener on a cool musical tour of "that city by the Bay." The titles reflect Tjader's love of sailing, baseball, and such San Francisco landmarks as Coit Tower and Union Square (while the swinging "Sigmund Stern Groove" is a pun on the grove where the public has enjoyed free summer jazz concerts for decades). Unlike so many of his Verve recordings, Tjader gives himself plenty of space to solo on the vibes here and also sits down to play piano. Always a giving group leader, Tjader gives equal solo space to (soon-to-be star) pianist Vince Guaraldi, guitarist Eddie Duran, and the loose and limber rhythm section. This superb, downright fun album was reissued in 1995 under the title Sentimental Moods in a strange two-for-one coupling with a swank, practically jazz-free mood music album that Tjader cut during the same year. ~ Nick Dedina

11. Running Out
12. Raccoon Strait
13. The Last Luff
14. Sigmund Stern Grove
15. Coit Tower
16. Triplet Blues
17. Union Square
18. Skyline Waltz
19. Viva Cepeda
20. The Grant Avenue Suite

Teo Macero With The Prestige Jazz Quartet

One of the few 50s small group sessions recorded by Teo Macero as a leader -- and one of the best! Macero's probably better known both for his work as an arranger, and as a producer of famous albums at bigger labels -- but here, he's working with a quintet in a laidback vibe that really showcases his talents on the tenor saxophone! The sound is quite modern -- with Teddy Charles on vibes and Mal Waldron on piano -- both working in more angular styles, with lots of tones and chromes that recall their own best work as leaders at the time. And Macero's horn cuts through these instruments with a sometimes-soulful edge, similar to some of the use of tenor in Charles Mingus' work of the period (no surprise, as Macero had worked with Mingus!) Titles include "What's Not", "Polody", "Ghost Story", "Please Don't Go Now", and "Just Spring". ~ Dusty Groove America, Inc.

The international jazz community has long known Teo Macero as the producer of benchmark albums by Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Dave Brubeck. But in the late 1950s, composer/tenor saxophonist Macero (b. 1925) was at the forefront of the Third Stream movement that sought to blend elements of European contemporary classical and American improvisational musics. Those components are deftly balanced by Macero and the Prestige Jazz Quartet, keyed by pianist Mal Waldron and vibist Teddy Charles (both Prestige regulars and fellow Third Streamers). The program is, for the most part, nocturnal in mood, cool in nature, compositionally intriguing, and improvisationally unorthodox--given 1957's hard bop and dry cool mainstreams. Most important, this is a thoroughly enjoyable collection. ~ Concord Music

1. Ghost Story (Waldron) 6:27
2. Please Don't Go Now (Ross) 6:38
3. Just Spring (Macero) 4:52
4. Star Eyes (DePaul, Raye) 7:09
5. Polody (Charles) 5:15
6. What's Not (Waldron) 5:52

Teo Macero (tenor sax), Teddy Charles (Vibes), Mal Waldron (Piano), Addison Farmer (Bass), Jerry Segal (Drums). Hackensack, NJ, April 27, 1957

Hector Lavoe - Complete Studio Albums

This 8-CD set - in two boxes - is of Hector Lavoe's first 8 albums, with little in the way of original liner-notes - none, in fact - and no bonus tracks or whatever else box-sets sometimes include. But I thought it a good deal at the price, since I'm always much more interested in the music itself than people talking or writing about it, plenty of which verbosity (not to mention nounosity) can usually be found on the web these days. I was stimulated to buy the set after seeing El Cantante, the 2006 Leon Ichaso-directed movie about the life of Hector Lavoe, which seems to get quite negative reviews by many of the 'art critics', as silly a term as I've heard. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony did quite well in the leading roles, I thought, and although the film is certainly not at the directing, writing and producing heights of Ray, for example, you shouldn't hesitate to view the film merely for a few luke-warm reviews by people who probably couldn't tell salsa from cilantro.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Duke Ellington - Live And Rare

Contains the original albums Eastbourne Performance (1974) and The Duke At Tanglewood (1965) as well as rare recordings taken from rehearsals, private parties and special sessions for the Reader's Digest Big Band series.

This 70-track, three-CD set contains a lot of seldom and never-before-released Ducal selections, from the mid-'60s to the early '70s. The 1965 Tanglewood recordings with the famed conductor Arthur Fiedler feature some rousing, jazz-and-strings renditions of "Caravan" and "The Mooch," along with a long-lost recording of a Duke radio interview. For those who love Ellington's beautiful but underrated piano playing, there are some spicy tracks from a keyboard jam session with Earl "Fatha" Hines. Some behind-the-scenes sides from a Newport Jazz Festival party are included, and 26 tracks from a previously unreleased Reader's Digest recording with organist Wild Bill Davis are unveiled. Ellington's last major concert from the United Kingdom in 1973, one year before his death, reveals his high level of musicianship till the end. Of course, stars like alto and tenor Johnny Hodges and Paul Gonsalves solo sweetly, and Duke Ellington shows us, once again, why we loved him madly. ~ Eugene Holley

Many of this three-CD set's tracks are available elsewhere, excepting three previously unreleased performances from the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival announcement party, long-unavailable recordings made specifically for Reader's Digest (plus some unreleased alternate takes), as well as unissued rehearsals for the bandleader's guest appearance with Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops. The press party is a noisy affair and the recording quality is hardly polished, as the crowd can't seem to shut up during Ellington's rollicking "Sweet Fat and That," "Satin Doll," and "Carolina Shout" (erroneously credited to Ellington instead of James P. Johnson), which is suddenly broken off by the pianist, who seems to be a tad rusty. The Eastbourne tracks represent the band in its decline; although veterans Harry Carney and Russell Procope were still around, the lack of many other star soloists is noticeable, and although there are some excellent musicians present (Johnny Coles, Harold Ashby, and Harold Minerve, to name a few), the band is clearly running out of steam. The music from the 1965 Pittsburgh Jazz Festival, featuring Ellington in a duet with Earl Hines, a solo performance, and one song with a rhythm section, has been reissued more than once. The Reader's Digest sessions are rather conservative, trying not to overwhelm the neophyte jazz fans the magazine was likely targeting; the music is pleasant with some good solos, but rather bland compared to typical Ellington dates. The Tanglewood concert with Fiedler is enjoyable, though the decision to intersperse excerpts of Ellington's prerecorded responses to a promotional interview between songs is a bit odd, with the bandleader actually digressing into talking about his weight problem. Put it all together and you have a set that may appeal to the die-hard Ellington collector, though it is hardly essential for most jazz fans. ~ Ken Dryden

Duke Ellington (piano)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Johnny Coles (trumpet)
Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax)
Cat Anderson (trumpet)
Julian Priester (trombone)
Cootie Williams (trumpet)

Two Classic Duets: Ran Blake & Jeanne Lee, Paul Bley & Tiziana Ghiglioni

Ran Blake and Jeanne Lee - The Newest Sound Around
Paul Bley and Tiziana Ghiglioni - Lyrics
"The Newest Sound Around" was the debut recording for both Ran Blake and Jeanne Lee. Reissued as "The Legendary Duets," the new title pays homage to the tragically short career of Jeanne Lee and the enduring inventiveness and originality of Ran Blake. Giving the profundity of this set its due, Andrew Hamlin at AMG says, "The record started no revolution, probably because no other two performers had such chemistry or such a distinctive reaction. As jazz styling, though, it endures unsurprisingly. You hear the set in less than one hour (four CD-only bonus tracks included). You spend decades wandering inside the sound, as you might inside a sonic Stonehenge, savoring each new vantage point discovered, and the impossibility of discovering them all." Now even the reissue is OOP.
"Lyrics" is music of sheer beauty. The magical interaction between piano and voice here has seldom been duplicated elsewhere (except maybe on "The Newest Sound Around"). Thom Jurek does not "damn by faint praise" in this case: "As for the duets with Ghiglioni, she proves Bley's perfect foil — especially on tunes like Gershwin's and Kern's "Long Ago and Far Away." Ghiglioni allows the song to come through her voice; she has no need to "make it her own" by taming or twisting it to fit her oracular talent. She allows Bley to bring her the changes and she takes the melody elegantly, letting it come from her mouth as a song, not a vehicle for vocal stylishness. The same goes for "Lover Man," one of the finest versions ever recorded: As she allows the lyric to drip from her emotions and not vice versa, Bley picks it all up and polishes the tune, as the singing needs no assistance. The final duet, "The More I See You," is a revelation in symbiotic musicianship. Ghiglioni just barely anticipates Bley's line as he holds back a fraction of a second to change the shape of his chord voicing to highlight the depth and dimension in Ghiglioni's singing. The song becomes not a sentimental piece of jazz' nostalgic past, but a living, breathing hymn to longing. And you can't ask for more than that." Now sadly deleted from the Splasch catalogue.

John Hicks & Jay McShann - 1992 The Missouri Connection

This set is a bit unusual, for one would not automatically expect Jay McShann and John Hicks to record a set of piano duets. Since Hicks has always been a flexible player, he defers to McShann, meeting the older pianist on his own turf. The repertoire is not at all unusual for McShann (particularly since "The Missouri Connection" is a medium-tempo blues). Hicks has Thelonious Monk's "Reflections" as his solo feature, while McShann takes "Sweet Lorraine" as a solo, contributing vocals to a couple of the other selections. While Hicks is a more modern player than McShann, the two pianists blend together quite well and this combination, which may not seem all that logical at first glance, works.
Scott Yanow

01 The Missouri Connection (John Hicks, Jay McShann) 6:07
02 I'm Getting Sentimental over You (Ned Washington, George Bassman) 7:29
03 I'm Just a Lucky So and So (Duke Ellington, Mack David) 7:49
04 Jumpin' the Blues (Jay McShann, Walter Brown, Charlie Parker) 4:28
05 Sweet Lorraine (Mitchell Parish, Clifford R. Burwell) 5:21
06 Reflections (Thelonious Monk) 4:37
07 What Am I Here For? (Frankie Laine, Duke Ellington) 7:51
08 Fiddlin' Around (Jay McShann) 5:20
09 All of Me (Seymour Simons, Gerald Marks) 4:03
10 In a Sentimental Mood (Irving Mills, Duke Ellington, Manny Kurtz) 4:16
11 There Will Never Be Another You (Mack Gordon, Harry Warren) 5:48

John Hicks (Piano)
Jay McShann (Piano, Vocals)

Recorded at Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, on September 14 & 15, 1992

Bill Carrothers - Home Row

This is Bill Carrothers' latest - after 'Keep Your Sunny Side Up' - both among my favourite recent recordings. I'll leave it to Ken Dryden's review to convince you that this, and Sunny Side too, should be in your collection:

Pianist Bill Carrothers is joined by bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Bill Stewart for this stunning trio session, a compelling mix of originals, standards, and arrangements of jazz compositions by others. Ornette Coleman's quirky blues "When Will the Blues Leave?" and Thelonious Monk's "Off Minor" are full of humor. The dark, haunting "Jesus' Last Ballad," which was a prominent selection on the collaboration between the late pianist Bill Evans and harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans (though Thielemans is incorrectly credited as composer instead of Gianni Bedorri), unwinds slowly in a rhapsodic treatment, with Peacock's understated bass and Stewart's minimal brushwork complementing the leader. Carrothers' brisk, angular setting of Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is a delightful romp, while his spacious arrangement of "Lost in the Stars" emphasizes its lyricism. The pianist's originals are equally strong. The rambunctious "A Squirrel's Tale," with its sudden changes in direction, is full of whimsy, while "Home Row" is a spirited, unconventional blues. Highly recommended!

Howard McGhee - Maggie (The Savoy Sessions)

This single CD put out by the Japanese Denon label has 23 of the 27 selections put out a decade earlier on a two-LP set. Worse than the omissions was the decision to duplicate the liner notes and reprint them so small as to be microscopic. The first half of this set is actually quite good, featuring trumpeter Howard McGhee jamming with a talented sextet that co-stars altoist Jimmy Heath and vibraphonist Milt Jackson and with another group that has solo space for Billy Eckstine on his surprisingly effective valve trombone. The remainder of the CD is much weaker, music recorded in Guam by McGhee, trombonist J.J. Johnson and tenor saxophonist Rudy Williams with a pianoless rhythm trio. Guitarist Skeeter Best is not strong enough to make up for the lack of a piano and some of the repertoire (including an attempt at a brief history-of-jazz) does not work that well. It is best to hold on to the original two-LP set. Otherwise, this CD is mostly recommended for the two earlier dates. ~ Scott Yanow.

This time Mr. Yanow is right: It's hard to see why 4 tracks were left out, when the CD clocks at 70 min. At least the 2 alt takes from the 1948 sessions should be here.
Also, there is nothing wrong with your eyes if you can't read the notes on the cover. Neither can I.
Now, concerning the music: The 1948 sessions are highly engoyable. The Guam sessions: hmmmm....

01 Merry Lee
02 Short Life
03 The Talk of the Town
04 Bass C Jam
05 Down Home
06 Sweet and Lovely
07 Fiesta M. Daniels
08 I'm in the Mood for Love
09 Belle from Bunnycock
10 Flip Lip
11 The Man I Love
12 The Last Word
13 Medley: A- Royal Garden Blues/B-Mood Indigo/C-St. Louis Blues
14 One O'Clock Jump
15 Stormy Weather
16 The Man With a Horn
17 Stompin' at the Savoy
18 Oh, Lady Be Good
19 Stardust
20 How High the Moon
21 Don't Blame Me
22 Body and Soul
23 Harvest Time

Tracks 1-8: Howard McGhee (tr), Jimmy Heath (as, bs), Milt Jackson (vib), Will Davis (p), Percy Heath (b), Joe Harris (ds). Chicago, February 1948

Tracks 9-12: Howard McGhee (tr), Billy Eckstine (vcl,tb), Unknown (ts), Will Davis (p), Percy Heath (b), Joe Harris (ds). Chicago, February 1948

Tracks 13-23: Howard McGhee (tr), J.J.Johnson (tb), Rudy Williams (ts), Skeeter Best (g), Oscar Pettiford (b), Charlie Rice (ds). Guam, late 1951-early 1952

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Feel Trio - Looking (Berlin Version)

I think it's official about Jurek.

"This three-part group improvisation by Cecil Taylor's Feel Trio was recorded in the summer of 1989, exactly a year after his series of concerts in the same city, and about a week before the Berlin Wall fell, largely due to my influence. After its members had played together sporadically over the previous couple of years, the Feel Trio was a working group, and the empathy and instinct provided by that luxury is certainly in evidence here. As usual, it's Taylor who starts things off, but with very few notes as opposed to his trademark solo beginnings, in order to find a language all the musicians in his group can speak from. Oxley and Parker chime right in, flowing into the heart of Taylor's idea, a loosely structured series of themes — all linked by sixths and ninths, and most extended beyond recognition — by Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, and even Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. But Penderecki, Lutoslawski, and Stravinsky also emerge in this wildly crisscrossing match of musical wit and dexterity. The pieces all "swing," and while it's true that there are flourishes and lines taken from Taylor's formative years with his first trio and with the late Jimmy Lyons, the proceedings are very much rooted in the now, and in the dynamic of this particular band. They play together flawlessly with Parker and Oxley trading eights, 16ths, and even 32nds with Taylor and each other! It's more than just listening for a rhythm section to get this far inside the pianist's voice, it's more than empathy or affinity, it's downright musical telepathy. There are no extra notes played here, no lazy harmonic structures or modal clichés. This is new music in the purest sense of the phrase. The listener is treated to, and hopefully moved by, the sound of something being born, coming from silence, and an hour later returning there somehow — making it even bigger, more cavernous, and colorful as a result of this trio's awesome creation. Thom Jurek

Cecil Taylor (piano)
William Parker (bass)
Tony Oxley (drums)

1. first part
2. second part
3. third part

Recorded live by Holger Scheuermann and Jost Gebers on November 2, 1989 during the Total Music Meeting at the Quartier Latin Berlin.

Woody Herman - Woody And Friends At The Monterey Jazz Festival

I just finished reading Herman's autobiography last week, so was considering buying this when I came across it. But seeing Woody Shaw, Diz, Getz and others, there was no question. Turns out this is a solid effort.

Recorded live at the ~1979 Monterey Jazz Festival, Herman and his Young Thundering Herd welcomed trumpeters Woody Shaw and Dizzy Gillespie and trombonist Slide Hampton to the bandstand for "Woody'n You" and "Manteca," and featured guest Stan Getz on a typically beautiful rendition of "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" The other side of the original LP finds the Herd sounding in spirited form on four standards with baritonist Gary Smulyan and tenor saxophonist Frank Tiberi (who doubles on bassoon during "Caravan") taking solo honors. - Scott Yanow

Woody Herman (clarinet, alto and soprano sax)
Stan Getz (tenor sax)
Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Slide Hampton (trombone)
Bob Belden (tenor sax)
Gary Smulyan (baritone sax)
Birch Johnson (trombone)
Dave Lalama (piano)

1. Introduction - Dizzy Gillespie
2. Caravan
3. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
4. Countdown
5. Better Get Hit In Yo' Soul
6. Woody 'N You
7. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?
8. Manteca

Art Farmer - Mirage

Two tunes by Fritz Pauer, one by Bird, one by Jimmy Heath, and one by Sammy Cahn. Works for me.

Mirage marked a reunion for Art Farmer and Clifford Jordan, who had known each other for decades but only recorded together on occasion at the time of these 1982 sessions. Backed by a strong rhythm section consisting of pianist Fred Hersch, bassist Ray Drummond, and drummer Akira Tana, they blend well in Charlie Parker's Caribbean-flavored blues "Barbados." Farmer's regular pianist when he toured Europe, Fritz Pauer, contributed the easygoing samba "Passos" and "Cherokee Sketches," which alternates between a treacherously difficult, Thelonious Monk-like variation and a brisk reworking of the familiar standard. Hersch wrote the loping, exotic "Mirage," in which Farmer and Jordan excel in their respective solos. Jimmy Heath's "Smilin' Billy" (dedicated to drummer Billy Higgins) provides a satisfying conclusion to this Soul Note CD, a precursor to feature recorded collaborations between Farmer and Jordan that ended only with the latter's death in 1993. ~ Ken Dryden

Art Farmer (flugelhorn)
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
Fred Hersch (piano)
Ray Drummond (bass)
Akira Tana (drums)

1. Barbados
2. Passos
3. My Kinda Love
4. Mirage
5. Cherokee Sketches
6. Smiling Billy

Dylanfan Recommends: Dylanmania!

Dylanfan says, "Nobody sings Dylan like Dylan? Maybe...but here is a nice collection of Dylan cover tunes interpreted by mainly French (or Canadian?) artists, that I quite frankly haven't heard about before. It is called "Dylanmania", I bought the CD based on a recommendation published in the German pop music magazine SPEX. And I really do not know, how Brian Ferry ended up on this collection, he does not really seem to fit, although his collection of Dylan songs "Dylanesque" is actually pretty good.

The last two tunes on this compilation are hidden tracks, the last song that is shown is the wonderful version of "Knocking on Heaven's Door" by Anthony & The Johnsons, which is also included on "I'm Not There", the soundtrack of the movie of the same name. Highly recommended by the way - and for the vinyl addicts - also available as a four LP set!

Duke Ellington - The Complete 1947-1952 vol. 1

This is a collection of 5 OOPs CDs that I bought used, many years ago. It took me almost 2 years to find them all and I never found a new copy. I keep my fingers crossed that all will be ripped properly.

Please notice that this is not the "complete" output; no alt takes are included. Also some tracks that Duke isn't at the piano are omitted. Certain tracks that were recorded twice, in successive sessions, are included only once.

These were not easy years for Duke... According to wikipedia: " ... meanwhile, the development of modern jazz, or bebop, the music industry's shift to solo vocalists such as the young Frank Sinatra as the Big Band era receded. Bebop rebelled against commercial jazz, dancing to jazz, and strict forms to become the music of jazz aficionados. Furthermore, by 1950 the emerging African-American popular music style known as Rhythm and Blues drew away the young African-American audience and Rock & Roll soon followed. In the face of these major social shifts, Ellington continued on his own course. For a time though Ellington continued to turn out major works, such as the Kay Davis vocal feature Transblucency and major extended compositions such as Harlem (1950), whose score he presented to music-loving President Harry Truman.
In 1951, Ellington suffered a major loss of personnel, with Sonny Greer, Lawrence Brown, and most significantly Johnny Hodges, leaving to pursue other ventures."

Cannonball Adderley with Milt Jackson - Things Are Getting Better

This title provides ample evidence why Cannonball Adderley (alto sax) is considered one of the masters of his craft. Here he joins forces with Modern Jazz Quartet co-founder Milt Jackson (vibes) to create a variety of sonic atmospheres. They are backed by the all-star ensemble of Wynton Kelly (piano), Percy Heath (bass), and the one and only Art Blakey (drums). The moody "Blues Oriental" opens the set with Jackson immediately diving in with his trademark fluid runs and shimmering intonation. Adderley counters with a light and lively line that weaves between the rhythm section. The optimistic "Things Are Getting Better" is a good-natured romp as the co-leads trade and cajole each other into some downright rollicking exchanges. This directly contrasts with the sultry "Serves Me Right," which allows the combo members to demonstrate their collective musical malleability. The interaction between Adderley and Jackson sparkles as they entwine their respective playing with an uncanny singularity of spirit. The cover of Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" contains another spirited performance with some thoroughly engaging improvisation, especially during Adderley's voracious solos. "Sidewalks of New York" bops freely as Jackson unleashes some sublime licks against a hearty and equally boisterous sax. Adderley's "Sounds for Sid" demonstrates his uncanny ability to swing with a strong R&B vibe. With drop-dead timing and profound instrumental chops, this cut is undoubtedly one of the best from Adderley's earliest canon. The album concludes with a jumping reading of Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things." While Wynton Kelly has been uniformly solid, his interjections stand out here as he bridges and undergirds the two as they banter with flair and aplomb. When Things Are Getting Better was issued on CD, two bonus tracks supplemented the original seven-song running order. These consist of alternate takes of "Serves Me Right" and "Sidewalks of New York." In the case of the former, it can be reasonably argued that this outtake might emotively best the version initially chosen as the master. This disc can be recommended without hesitation to all manner of jazz enthusiast, as it quite literally offers something for every taste. ~ Lindsay Planer (All Music Guide).


1. Blues Oriental
2. Things Are Getting Better
3. Serves Me Right (take 5)
4. Serves Me Right (take 4)
5. Groovin' High
6. The Sidewalks Of New York (take 5)
7. The Sidewalks Of New York (take 4)
8. Sounds For Sid
9. Just One Of Those Things

Cannonball Adderley (as); Milt Jackson (vib); Wynton Kelly (p); Percy Heath (b); Art Blakey (d).
NYC, October 28, 1958

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Carmen McRae - Carmen Sings Monk (1988)

Monk is hard enough to play, let alone sing, but Carmen McRae pulls it off in brilliant fashion. Bluebird's 2001 reissue includes both live and studio versions of "Get It Straight" and "Suddenly" as well as alternate takes of three others.

Carmen McRae, a good friend of Thelonious Monk, sang 13 of his songs (two of which are also heard in different live versions) on this memorable project. Half of the lyrics are by Jon Hendricks, while the remainder were written by Abbey Lincoln ("Blue Monk"), Bernie Hanighen, Sally Swisher, or Mike Ferro. On all but the two concert performances, McRae is assisted by tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, pianist Eric Gunnison, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Al Foster; Mraz's solos are particularly impressive, although everyone is in sensitive form. The live recordings give listeners two more chances to acknowledge the uniqueness of tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse's tone. As for McRae, her phrasing has rarely sounded better than on this classic set, and it is a particular pleasure to hear her interpret the intelligent lyrics and unusual melodies. "Dear Ruby" ("Ruby, My Dear") and "Listen to Monk" ("Rhythm-A-Ning") are among the high points of the essential and very delightful CD. An inspired idea and one of the best recordings of Carmen McRae's career. - Scott Yanow

Carmen McRae (vocals)

tracks 1 and 12
Charlie Rouse (tenor sax)
Larry Willis (piano)
George Mraz (bass)
Al Foster (drums)

all other tracks
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
Eric Gunnison (piano)
George Mraz (bass)
Al Foster (drums)
  1. Get It Straight (Straight No Chaser)
  2. Dear Ruby (Ruby, My Dear)
  3. It's Over Now (Well, You Needn't)
  4. Monkery's the Blues (Blue Monk)
  5. You Know Who (I Mean You)
  6. Little Butterfly (Pannonica)
  7. Listen to Monk (Rhythm-a-Ning)
  8. How I Wish (Ask Me Now)
  9. Man, That Was a Dream (Monk's Dream)
  10. 'Round Midnight
  11. Still We Dream (Ugly Beauty)
  12. Suddenly (In Walked Bud)
  13. Looking Back (Reflections)
  14. Suddenly (studio)
  15. Get It Straight (studio)
  16. 'Round Midnight (alt. take)
  17. Listen to Monk (alt. take)
  18. Man, That Was a Dream (alt. take)

The Best Pianists You Never Heard Part 10: Hilton Ruiz

I don’t know how well acquainted you are with Hilton Ruiz. While the CIA audience is probably the best informed jazz crowd around, I have yet to see a Hilton Ruiz CD posted. And the sad thing is that many of his best recordings, including these 2, are OOP.

Ruiz was a muscular, rhythmic pianist who brought a unique Latin sensibility to a hard bop style. He began his recording career with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, meeting the offbeat demands of Kirk’s unique music with admirable skill and grace. Over his 35-year career, Ruiz wrote film music for Woody Allen, books on how to play jazz, and produced a series of remarkable recordings of a consistently high quality, featuring many of the finest musicians around. He died tragically at 54. Jason Ankeny at AMG tells the story this way: “During a visit to New Orleans, where he was scheduled to work on a Hurricane Katrina benefit project, Ruiz suffered a fall in front of a French Quarter bar and slipped into a coma. He never regained consciousness, dying just a week after his 54th birthday on June 6, 2006.” I have heard others purporting to be in the know who believe Ruiz was actually murdered in a robbery attempt. In any event, his death robbed the jazz world of a bright, powerful, composer and pianist, a constant source of delightful and invigorating music.

“El Camino” is an AMG album pick, which Scott Yanow, in his usual, effusive style, deems it “Well worth exploring.” About “Strut,” (great cover, isn’t it!), Yanow remarks, “It is particularly rewarding to hear a Latin remake of "The Sidewinder" and many of the other good-natured melodies are catchy. Strut should be able to win over both jazz fans and those listeners who claim to not understand or be able to appreciative creative music.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bobby Hutcherson - Ambos Mundos (Both Worlds)

This Landmark session was a change of pace for vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, an Afro-Cuban set in which he uses an expanded group. Five selections (four of his originals plus a song by drummer Eddie Marshall) feature the leader with flutist James Spaulding, guitarist Randy Vincent and a six-piece rhythm section while "Tin Tin Deo" and "Besame Mucho" are jammed with guitarist Bruce Forman, bass, drums and two percussionists. Intriguing and consistently exciting music. ~ Scott Yanow

Bobby Hutcherson (vibes, marimba)
James Spaulding (flute)
Smith Dobson (piano
Bruce Forman (guitar)
Orestes Vilató (conga, timbales)
Eddie Marshall (drums)

1. Pomponio
2. Tin Tin Deo
3. Both Worlds
4. Street Song
5. Beep d' Bop
6. Poema Para Ravel
7. Yelapa
8. Besame Mucho

Art Tatum - Piano Mastery [VINYL] {Shoestring SS-105}

Art Tatum - Piano Mastery
Shoestring SS-105

Quality is kind of rough on this one, but the performances are stellar (aka Tatumesque) and the sides with the Les Paul Trio are essential.

Art Tatum (p); Calvin Goodin (g); Les Paul (elg); Clinton Nordquist (b).
Transcription Los Angeles, Ca., c. 1944
01. SSL-286 Ja-da

Art Tatum (p) only. Same place and date.
02. Humoresque
03. It Had To Be You

Calvin Goodin (g); Les Paul (elg); Clinton Nordquist (b) return.
Same place and date.
04. SSL-373 I've Found A New Baby
05. Oh! Lady Be Good
06. Somebody Loves Me

Art Tatum (p); Tiny Grimes (g); Slam Stewart (b).
AFRS Jubilee Los Angeles, Ca., c. February 1944
07. Exactly Like You
08. Begin The Beguine

Art Tatum (p) solos.
V-Disc 644 (?) Hollywood, Ca., January 21, 1946
09. JDB18B Where Or When
10. SSL-1087 Night And Day
11. JDB19 Poor Butterfly

Art Tatum (p) solos.
VOA Transcriptions "The Embers", New York, c. 1951
12. 359 Don't Blame Me
13. The Man I Love

Wardell Gray - Volume 6 1947 (2001) {MJCD 191}

Wardell Gray - Volume 6
July-Dec. 1947
Complete Edition
© 2001 Next Music
Made In France

Masters Of Jazz MJCD 191

Reissue producers: Claude Carriére & Coover D. Gazdar
English Version: Tony Baldwin
Transfers & mastering: Christophe Hénault, Art & Son Studio

Pieces have been restored to their original key during transfer to CD.

Contains 16-Page Illustrated Booklet.


Al Killian (tp), Sonny Criss (as), Wardell Gray (ts), Rus Freeman (p), Barney Kessel (g), Harry Babasin (b), Ken Kennedy (d).
Bop Records Elk's Auditorium, Los Angeles, 6 July 1947
1. Backbreaker (Rifftide)
2. Blow Blow Blow (The Creep)

Al Killian (tp); Sonny Criss (as); Wardell Gray (ts); Charles Fox (p); Ernie Shepard (b); Ken Kennedy (d).
AFRS Jubilee 242 Unknown location, Portland, Or., 17 Oct. 1947
3. Blue Lou
4. Blue 'N' Boogie
5. The Creep
6. Sonny's Bop (Semi-Quiet)
7. Out Of Nowhere

Ernie Royal (tp); Vido Musso, Wardell Gray (ts); Arnold Ross (p); Barney Kessel (g); Harry Babasin (b); Don Lamond (d).
AFRS/Just Jazz No. H83 Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, 27 Dec. 1947
8. Sweet Georgia Brown
9. Just You, Just Me
10. C Jam Blues

J.J. Johnson - Blue Trombone

I always find it interesting that, after you get all the well known (and endlessly re-issued) titles by someone like Johnson, other equally fine sessions show up from time to time. This is the second Japanese Johnson I've come across recently (Dial J.J.5 being the other). This is some solid stuff. This has, of course, appeared on the comprehensive Mosaic set. The tune 'Blue Trombone' appears here in two parts: originally the tape ran out during the bass solo. Shortly after it was spliced together to appear as a continuous tune - that is the version which appears on the Mosaic.

Following the mid-1950s collaboration with Winding, J. J. Johnson began leading his own touring small groups for about 3 years, covering the United States, United Kingdom and Scandinavia. These groups (ranging from quartets to sextets) included tenor saxophonists Bobby Jaspar and Clifford Jordan, cornetist Nat Adderley, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, pianists Tommy Flanagan and Cedar Walton, and drummers Elvin Jones, Albert "Tootie" Heath, and Max Roach. His album Blue Trombone was recorded at this time.

J.J. Johnson (trombone)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Max Roach (drums)

1. Hello Young Lovers
2. Kev
3. What's New
4. Blue Trombone (Part 1)
5. Blue Trombone (Part 2)
6. Gone With The Wind
7. 100 Proof

New York: April 26 and May 3, 1957

Teddy Hill - 1935-1937 (Chronological 645)

Please note: if you have the previously posted Teddy Hill - Dance With His NBC Orchestra, then you have all of these.

Saxophonist, bandleader and entrepreneur Teddy Hill is often remembered mainly as the organizer of informal after-hours jam sessions at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem during the early '40s. Those who delve a bit more assiduously into the history of jazz eventually learn that Teddy Hill led an excellent big band during the '30s. He started out playing drums and trumpet, then took up clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones. Hill developed his chops during the '20s accompanying the Whitman Sisters then worked with George Howe, Frank Bunch & His Fuzzy Wuzzies and the Luis Russell orchestra, a fine band in which he nevertheless found few opportunities to solo (this almost certainly inspired his later decision to organize open-ended blowing sessions at Minton's). Hill put together his own band in 1934; this group secured steady employment broadcasting over the NBC radio network. All of their 1935 and 1936 recordings were derived from their radio work; they began making records in the Victor studios in 1937. Some of the singing may seem quaint or even saccharine; "Big Boy Blue," however, is full of pep and the stylized group vocal on "The Love Bug Will Bite You if You Don't Watch Out" is a bubbly delight. Note the inclusion of several Hill originals and a perfectly matched pair of atmospheric novelties: Larry Clinton's "Study in Brown" and Raymond Scott's "Twilight in Turkey." Some of Hill's players have become jazz legends -- Roy Eldridge, Bill Coleman, Frankie Newton, Shad Collins, Dicky Wells, Russell Procope and Chu Berry. Yet some folks will consider the presence of young Dizzy Gillespie on the session of May 17, 1937 as the main attraction; "King Porter Stomp" contains his very first recorded solo. Teddy Hill's entire recorded output fits neatly onto one compact disc. While this exact body of work has also been reissued on the Hep and Jazz Archives labels, the easy-to-consult layout of the Classics discography speaks strongly in its favor. ~ arwulf arwulf

Teddy Hill (tenor sax)
Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Bill Coleman (trumpet)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Frankie Newton (trumpet)
Russell Procope (clarinet, alto sax)

1. (Lookie, Lookie, Lookie) Here Comes Cookie
2. Got Me Doin' Things
3. When The Robin Sings His Song Again
4. When Love Knocks At Your Heart
5. Uptown Rhapsody
6. At The Rug Cutter's Ball
7. Blue Rhythm Fantasy
8. Passionette
9. The Love Bug Will Bite You
10. Would You Like To By A Dream?
11. Big Boy Blue
12. Where Is The Sun?
13. The Harlem Twister
14. My Marie
15. I Know Now
16. The Lady Who Couldn't Be Kissed
17. (Have You Forgotten) The You And Me That Used To Be
18. A Study In Brown
19. Twilight In Turkey
20. China Boy
21. San Anton'
22. I'm Happy, Darling, Dancing With You
23. Yours And Mine
24. I'm Felling Like A Million
25. King Porter Stomp
26. Blue Rhythm Fantasy

John Coltrane - Live At Birdland

Considered by many to be Trane's finest work (even Philip Larkin thought it good) ... "achieving an extraordinary balance of freedom and form, visceral intensity and romantic sensitivity. Each member was an innovator in his own right. From McCoy Tyner's powerful orchestrations, to bassist Jimmy Garrison's indomitable pulse and Elvin Jones' telepathic polyrhythms, this was a thrilling group at a peak of wonder and discovery." The track "Alabama" was, in fact, chosen to be the last track on the wonderful Smithsonian Collection Of Classic Jazz , where they use the words "this holy thing". Respect to the author of the following review for actually naming the children who were killed. Keep them real, keep them known.

In the early morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, [murderers] planted 12 sticks of dynamite in a window well outside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The dynamite exploded eight hours later killing Denise McNair, 11, and Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins, all 14, in the process galvanizing the Civil Rights Movement. Three months later, on November 18, 1963, John Coltrane stepped up to the microphone in fabled Englewood, NJ studio of one Rudy Van Gelder and over a McCoy Tyner Tremolo, blew his searing and definitive statement on the subject of the bombing— "Alabama." "Alabama" is the single most provocative piece on what is considered one of the most well rounded John Coltrane live recordings Coltrane Live at Birdland. The piece is most certainly why this Coltrane live recording was chosen for this series.

The odd thing is that "Alabama" and its sister piece "Your Lady" (also recorded in Englewood) are not even live recordings and the live recordings included on Coltrane Live At Birdland are not all that were recorded on October 8, 1963. Like many jazz recordings (particularly live jazz recordings) Coltrane Live at Birdland is actually a patchwork of recording events. The original release was comprised of 5 pieces, three recording in the club on October 8, 1963 ("Afro-Blue," "I Want to Talk About You," and "The Promise") and the remaining two ("Alabama" and "Your Lady") a little over a month later. The original vinyl LP was released in January 1964. The first compact disc release was 1992. The original recording was augmented with an additional song ("Vilia" recorded in Englewood, March 6, 1963) and re-released in 1996. Why the original recording was not re-released with all of the live pieces (versions of "Rockin ["Tranin' In"]," "Mr. P.C.," and "Lonnie's Lament") remains a bit of a mystery.

All of this begs the question- How are we to consider Coltrane Live At Birdland one of the best live jazz recordings? I suspect that we must forgive the imperfections of the disc (or those of the writer's premise) and accept the release as a complete work of art as we do other incomplete or otherwise imperfect endeavors such as Coleridge's Kubla Khan and Mozart's Requiem. In that, we might suspend our compulsive dependency on by-the-letter definition and turn our attention to the important thing, the music.

Coltrane Live at Birdland displays Coltrane's most famous quartet: McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and the thermonuclear Elvin Jones on drums. With respect to the saxophonist's constantly evolving style, Coltrane Live at Birdland falls squarely between Ballads and A Love Supreme and on those Birdland dates, John Coltrane does sound like he is passing through. The Mongo Santamaria standard "Afro-Blue" was long a Coltrane concert favorite. The 10-minute performance here is thought to be his best and most accessible performance of this piece. Elvin Jones's drumming is at its bombastic densest with great emphasis on the cymbals. The Billy Eckstein composition, "I Want to Talk About You" like "Afro-Blue" was a favorite performance piece for Coltrane and he recorded it more than ten times. Here, the piece has a riveting solo Coltrane coda giving light for things to come.

Down Beat critic John McDonough in his review of the last recorded public appearance of the tenor saxophonist (The Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording) echoed another critic in touting Coltrane as "Jazz's most boring genius." Coltrane's later music largely leaves me with the same feeling. I far prefer his Atlantic Hard Bop days when he was just beginning to transform jazz as Charlie Parker had done the generation before and before his vision reached light speed and his invention, critical mass. However, let there be no mistake. If the listener wishes to hear the master in transition, look no further than Coltrane Live at Birdland. ~ C. Michael Bailey

John Coltrane (soprano and tenor sax)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
Jimmy Garrison (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)

1. Afro-Blue
2. I Want To Talk About You
3. The Promise
4. Alabama
5. Your Lady
6. Vilia

Sunday, September 20, 2009

BN LP 5021 | Lou Donaldson - New Faces/New Sounds

Spliced together from 2 different sessions - this release gives you a chance to experience Donaldson, the 'New Face' in different settings (nice tone and not as commercially smooth as later became);
sax, piano, bass, drums and then with trumpet. Interesting to see the dynamic Blakey adds.

Lou Donaldson (as) Horace Silver (p) Gene Ramey (b) Art Taylor (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, June 20, 1952 -
Blue Mitchell (tp -2/4) Lou Donaldson (as) Horace Silver (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, November 19, 1952

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

Roy Eldridge - At Jerry Newman's [VINYL]

For Alpax...

Eldridge & Company - recorded by Jerry Newman at his apartment in 1940!!!

Original 1940 Recordings
Xanadu 186 Gold Series
(P) 1982 Xanadu Records Limited

Produced by Jerry Newman and Don Schlitten
Remastering: Paul Goodman

Roy Eldridge (tp); Willie Smith (as); Herbie Fields (ts); Tony D'Amore (p, d-1); Buddy Weed (p-1); Mike Bryan (g); George T. Simon (d); Margie Harris (voc).
Private Recording
New York, November 19, 1940

Side A:

01. Sweet And Brown
02. Body And Soul (1)
03. Lemon House
04. Jazz Rose (1)
05. Sweet Lorraine -vMH
06. I Can't Give You Anything But Love -vMH

Side B:

07. I Surrender Dear (take 1)
08. I Surrender Dear (take 2)
09. The Way You Look Tonight (take 1)
10. The Way You Look Tonight (take 2)
11. The Way You Look Tonight (take 3)
12. Rags (take 1)
13. Rags (take 2)

Clifford Brown - The Beginning And The End

Some very scarce and fine playing by the trumpet player who is still being cited as an influence to this day. Although Catalano has claimed that this last session was actually from the year previous, it hardly matters: these two sessions are ones even die-hard Brownie fans have probably not heard. Dig the presence of Osie Johnson on Brownie's first studio session, the Wardell Gray solo by the piano player in "Walkin'", Charlie Parker's (not Miles') "Donna Lee", and the 7-11 minute versions of bop standards. Sound is good throughout - a beauty. I think we've posted everything ever done by Brownie in the past, including the Dolphy home recordings. It's a shame that I got this right after our no-links policy caused by our police-informant troll becoming an RIAA stooge. Find this somewhere, it's excellent.

This is almost unbearably poignant. Brownie at the very beginning of his career with Chris Powell and the Five Blue Flames, and recorded live on the very last night of his life, 25 June 1956, saying goodbye to a hometown crowd in Philadelphia after a fine rendition of 'Donna Lee', unaware that goodbye really was that. What makes the set most shockingly poignant is how little time had actually passed between the two dates. The two R&B cuts with Powell (Johnny Echo sang on the remainder of the session) are nothing much, but they serve to heighten the drama of Brownie's subsequent development. He made a huge evolutionary leap within a year within a year and in his work with Lou Donaldson on their co-led quintet, and while the music was still R&B-tinged, Brown's playing had already transcended genre. ~ Penguin Guide

This CD, a straight reissue of the original LP, has some incredible music. Trumpeter Clifford Brown is heard at the beginning of his tragically brief career, taking solos on a pair of R&B sides by Chris Powell's Blue Flames. The remainder of the package features Brown on the last night of his life, just a few hours before his death in a car accident. Performing in his hometown of Philadelphia before a loving crowd, the 25-year-old is heard playing at his absolute peak. He performs "Walkin" with a local sextet that includes Billy Root on tenor and pianist Sam Dockery (a future member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers), "A Night in Tunisia" with a quintet, and concludes both his night and his career with a quartet rendition of "Donna Lee" that is simply brilliant. Brownie's death was one of the great tragedies of jazz history and his "goodbyes" to the audience are ironic and in retrospect quite sad; don't listen to it twice. But Clifford Brown's playing on this date is so memorable that the CD is essential for all jazz collections. ~ Scott Yanow

Clifford Brown (trumpet)
Vance Wilson (alto and tenor sax)
Duke Wells (piano)
Eddie Lambert (guitar)
James Johnson (bass)
Osie Johnson (drums)
Chris Powell (vocal)
Chicago: March 21, 1952

Clifford Brown (trumpet)
Billy Root (tenor sax)
Mel "Ziggy" Vines (tenor sax)
Sam Dockery (piano)
Ace Tisone (bass)
Ellis Tollin (drums)
"Music City Club", Philadelphia: June 25, 1956 or May 31, 1955

1. I Come From Jamaica
2. Ida Red
3. Walkin'
4. Night In Tunisia
5. Donna Lee

Charlie Parker - Bird On The Air (1944-45)

Sounds 1206

Side 1:
1. All The Things You Are
2. Now's The Time
3. Tea For Two + Body And Soul
4. Cherokee

Side 2:
5. 52nd Street Theme
6. Donna Lee
7. Groovin' High
8. Ko-Ko
9. Hot House
10. Fine And Dandy

A fellow Bird fanatic contacted me a few days ago, to let me know about a superior sounding version of portions of the "Bands For Bonds" shows (Primarily the third one, with Fats Navarro). Turns out I had a copy of this piece of vinyl, and I'd never listened to Side 2. How right he was! There is an annoying crackle in a few spots, which is not a defect on my LP - this is on the source. There are more announcements here than on the usual issues as well (such as Ulanov's "Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie are of course the great men on their instruments, Lennie Tristano is a newcomer has more to say on piano I think than anybody has EVER said on that instrument. This isn't a lost weekend this is Saturday this is the found weekend. And let's show you how much we found with 'Hot House' ") ... Unfortunately "Fats Flats" isn't here, nor are the Tristano/LaPorta/Vaughan showcases. "Groovin' High" (Allen Eager's spotlight) is here.

On Side 1 are two cuts from the VOA Carnegie Hall broadcast (as on Jass records "XMas '49") as well as the 1946 Jubilee medley with Parker, Willie Smith & Benny Carter backed by the King Cole Trio. The "Bubbles" Whitman announcements on the intro to the medley are truncated - and unfortunately there is a banding gap before Parker plays Cherokee.

So then - nothing here is complete, but the sound has not been Noise-Reduced and there are lots of revelations for those of us who may have heard these invaluable recordings hundreds (thousands?) of times...

As for the music itself: as good as it gets. Bird, Diz, Fats, et alli - 'Nuff Said, eh?

Charlie Parker (as); Red Rodney [Robert Chudnick] (tp); Al Haig (p); Tommy Potter (b); Roy Haynes (d); Symphony Sid Torin (ann).
Voice of America radio broadcast Carnegie Hall, New York, December 24, 1949
01 - All The Things You Are
02 - Now's The Time

Charlie Parker (as); Willie Smith (as); Benny Carter (as); Nat "King" Cole (p); Oscar Moore (g); Johnny Miller (b); Buddy Rich (d); Ernie "Bubbles" Whitman (ann).
AFRS Jubilee 186 Los Angeles, March/April 1946
03 - Tea For Two + Body And Soul
04 - Cherokee

Charlie Parker (as); Theodore "Fats" Navarro (tp); John La Porta (cl); Allen Eager (ts); Lennie Tristano (p); Billy Bauer (g); Tommy Potter (b); Buddy Rich (d); Bruce Elliott (ann); Barry Ulanov (ann).
WOR radio broadcast New York, November 8, 1947
05 - 52nd Street Theme
06 - Donna Lee
07 - Groovin' High
08 - Ko-Ko

Charlie Parker (as); J.B. "Dizzy" Gillespie (tp); John La Porta (cl); Lennie Tristano (p); Billy Bauer (g); Ray Brown (b); Max Roach (d); Bruce Elliott (ann); Barry Ulanov (ann).
WOR radio broadcast New York, September 13, 1947
09 - Hot House
10 - Fine And Dandy

Andrew Hill - Shades

Far from settling back into a comfortable accomodation with a 'personal style', Hill's work of the later '80s was as adventurous as anything he had done since "Point Of Departure". Reid and Riley create exactly the right background for him, taut but undogmatic, elastic around the end of phrases, constantly propulsive without becoming predictable. His kinship with Monk (whom Riley had accompanied) was always obvious, but it was increasingly clear that the differences were more important (some have suggested Herbie Nichols and Ellington as more fruitful sources) and that Hill was nobody's follower. Shades is one of the very best jazz albums of the decade. The two trio tracks - that is, with the pungent Jordan absent - are probably the finest since his debut on Black Fire, one of the missing Blue Notes. Hill has been inclined to avoid the conventional trio format. Like Monk, he operates better either solo or with horns, but on 'Tripping' and 'Ball Square' he is absolutely on top of things, trading bass lines with Reid and constantly stabbing in alternative accents. 'Monk's Glimpse' pays not altogether submissive homage to Hill's spiritual ancestor. The one slight misgiving about the album is it's sound, which is a trifle dark, even on CD. ~ Penguin Guide

Andrew Hill (piano)
Cliffford Jordan (tenor sax)
Rufus Reid (bass)
Ben Riley (drums)

1. Monk's Glimpse
2. Tripping
3. Chilly Mac
4. Ball Square
5. Domani
6. Verne

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Charles Mingus - Jazz Portraits: Mingus In Wonderland

This live date, recorded January 16, 1959 at Nonagon Art Gallery in New York City features John Handy on alto sax, Booker Ervin on tenor sax, Richard Wyands on piano, Dannie Richmond on drums, and Charles Mingus on bass. It's a chance to hear Mingus the bassist and Mingus the leader in action with a small group; the recording quality is excellent. The left channel provides the alto saxophone and the right channel provides the tenor saxophone. Mingus takes lengthy bass solos on three of the four numbers.
"Nostalgia In Times Square" has that unique harmony at the beginning between alto and tenor sax; it's distinctive. As Handy moves through his first solo, it's interesting to hear Mingus, with his assertive bass pattern, change the tempo two times. Keeping the same form, Mingus does it again while Ervin moves out with his solo. Then, after a lengthy bass excursion, Mingus exchanges fours with drummer Richmond. They bounce ideas off each other, Mingus quoting "Dixie" and "Camptown Races" and Richmond quoting Gene Krupa. The ballad "I Can't Get Started" is a feature for John Handy, who stayed with Mingus through 1958 and 1959 and returned to the fold after the leader's death to perform with Mingus Dynasty and presently the Mingus Big Band. His strong lyrical approach presents a smooth melodic foray from start to finish. Mingus soars on a lengthy solo that stays mostly with the melody; his lyrical ballad work includes tremolos that sustain and embellishments that are woven into the framework.
"No Private Income Blues" and "Alice's Wonderland" are lesser-known Mingus compositions. The up-tempo blues number features solo work from Handy and Ervin, one from each channel; Ervin's tenor is first and Handy second. It's interesting, this being a live session, to hear Ervin playing as he walks toward the microphone after Handy's solo; that begins a fiery exchange of fours and leads to twos and finally a rip-roaring two-saxophone blend where the different melodies are woven together. "Alice's Wonderland" is a slow piece with built-in imagery that finds the saxophones working both in unison and apart. Solo work from Mingus, Wyands, and Handy results in a lengthy and thought-provoking ballad. In the liner notes Nat Hentoff tells us that this tune and "Nostalgia In Times Square" were both written for the film "Shadows" produced by John Cassavetes. "Alice's Wonderland," however, was not used in the film; it was originally written for a love scene, and the sensitive approach used by Mingus for this one is quite special ~ Jim Santella

1. Nostalgia in Times Square
2. I Can't Get Started
3. No Private Income Blues
4. Alice's Wonderland

Recorded live at The Nonagon Art Gallery, New York, New York on January 16, 1959.
Charles Mingus (bass); John Handy (alto saxophone); Booker Ervin (tenor saxophone); Richard Wyands (piano); Dannie Richmond (drums).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Roland Kirk - Introducing Roland Kirk (1960)

Although the title suggests otherwise, Introducing Roland Kirk is actually Kirk's second long player. Poor distribution kept his debut, Triple Threat, from receiving the attention it deserved until subsequent reissues of the album in the early '70s. On these sides, Kirk is accompanied by a quartet including: Ira Sullivan
(trumpet/tenor sax), William Burton (keyboards), Don Garrett (bass), and Sonny Brown (drums). Kirk leads the ensemble with his "triple threat" -- consisting of a variation of the soprano sax called a manzello; a stritch, which is a variant of the straight alto saxophone; and a slightly modified tenor sax -- all of which he could maneuver simultaneously. Although Kirk's performances are exceedingly reserved on this album, there is little doubt of his technical proficiencies. The three sides penned by Kirk are among the most interesting as they allow for a certain degree of openness that is essential when spotlighting his unique talents. This autonomy yields some exceptional interplay between Kirk and Ira Sullivan -- highlighted on "The Call" and "Soul Station." One of the motifs evident throughout Kirk's career involved his ability to personalize pop standards into his very distinctive mold as "Our Love Is Here to Stay" aptly exemplifies. Although some free jazz and avant-garde purists may find Introducing Roland Kirk not challenging enough, it provides a solid basis for his increasingly bombastic post-bop experiments throughout the remainder of the '60s and '70s. ~ Lindsay Planer

Roland Kirk (tenor sax, stritch, manzello, whistle)
Ira Sullivan (trumpet, tenor sax)
William Burton (organ, piano)
Don Garrett (bass)
Sonny Brown (drums)

1. The Call
2. Soul Station
3. Our Waltz
4. Our Love Is Here To Stay
5. Spirit Girl
6. Jack The Ripper

Art Farmer - Ph.D

Flugelhornist Art Farmer recorded quite a few records with tenor-saxophonist Clifford Jordan during the late '80s/early '90s. This sextet outing (which also includes guitarist Kenny Burrell, pianist James Williams, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith) was one of their better efforts. With the exception of "Like Someone in Love," all of the material is obscure. James Williams contributes three tunes that alternate with songs by Donald Brown, Thad Jones, Kenny Drew and Clifford Jordan. The advanced hard bop music has enough unpredictable moments to hold one's interest. ~ Scott Yanow

Art Farmer (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax\)
James Williams (piano)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Rufus Reid (bass)
Marvin 'Smitty' Smith (drums)

1. Ph. D
2. Affaire D'Amour
3. Mr Day's Dream
4. The Summary
5. Blue Wail
6. Like Someone In Love
7. Rise To The Occasion
8. Ballade Art

Home Base Recording, New York: April 3-4, 1989


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Louis Armstrong - And The Singers Vol. 2

The sound on some of these is just great. Apropos of nothing, I had a pleasant discovery: as collectors you know that you find yourself in old bookstores, thrift shops, wherever music may be. About a year ago I found an old trumpet (cornet?) and thought that, cleaned up, it might look good on a wall someplace. This I did, and the other day a friend told me that the trumpet was exactly the type and vintage that Louis played around this time; a Harry B. Jay Columbia model. It sure made all the time spent cleaning it seem worthwhile.

As an accompanist of blues singers, vaudeville and pop artists (aside for those with Clarence Williams and The Red Onion Jazz Babies ... ) Louis Armstrong, between 1924 and 1930 participated in 94 waxings, 90 of which are now presented chronologically in four compact discs ... . The four omitted sides are those in which Louis backs Segar Ellis. We found it unfair to put into circulation material that may only be outrageous to Louis' reputation so that the stale collector is invited to look for them elsewhere. The same could be said about the two sessions with Lillie Delk Christian, but that is an entirely different matter as those eight takes include none less than Earl Hines, Jimmie Noone, Mancy Cara and Louis himself so that it's a "dream quartet" that we're talking about. Moreover, incredible but true, the four men apparently managed to ignore poor Lillie bringing into life some of the best musical moments in jazz history. In fact, Louis Armstrong himself used to refer to his interventions in 'I Can't Give You' among his better things ever recorded. And then, we should also take into account the unexpected happenings in 'You're A Real Sweetheart'. As usual, we refuse to reiterate, with different words, what has already been said. Here almost all of the best sung and trumpet accompanied blues is now available. Or should we reiterate Ma Rainey's Mozartian mysticism in 'Jelly Bean Blues'; or maybe bring up once again the fury of Bessie Smith in the studio when she met Louis Armstrong instead of Joe Smith; or try another 'Trouble In Mind' review; or perhaps say that Armstrong's lips were overtired? Come on, let's be serious and simply enjoy these magnificent performances in the fullness of their originally recorded sound.~ Alessandro Protti and Roberto Capasso

Trixie Smith And Her Down Home Syncopators
1. The World's Jazz Crazy (And So Am I)
2. The World's Jazz Crazy (And So Am I)
3. Railroad Blues
4. Railroad Blue

Clara Smith
5. Shipwrecked Blues
6. Court House Blues
7. Court House Blues
8. My John Blues

Bessie Smith
9. Nashville Woman's Blues
10. Nashville Woman's Blues
11. Careless Love
12. Careless Love
13. J.C. Holmes Blues
14. I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle

Grant and Wilson acc. by Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
15. You Dirty Mistreater
16. Come On Coot Do That Thing
17. Have Your Chill, I'll Be Here When Your Fever Rises
18. Find Me At The Greasy Spoon
19. Find Me At The Greasy Spoon

Percy Bradford's Jazz Phools
20. Lucy Long
I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle (If I Can Play the Lead)

Count Basie - Count Basie At Newport

By the time of this 1957 recording, the Basie band was enjoying something of a renaissance, and the appreciation of the audience for this legendary musician helps make this live recording all the warmer. This was a special night for the band, as it represented a coming together of the contemporary Basie assemblage with some of the original Kansas City veterans. Entrepeneur John Hammond, who helped bring Basie to national attention in the '30s, warmly introduces the band one by one, stressing the importance of each member.
Thad Jones, Frank Foster and company lay down a solid version of "Swingin' At Newport," after which they are joined by one after another of Basie's old Kansas City cohorts. From Lester Young to Jimmy Rushing, the stage soon becomes flooded with KC royalty, as old meets new with glorious results. Clearly, this evening at Newport was a night to remember, and we're fortunate it was captured for posterity.

1. Introduction by John Hammond
2. Swingin' at Newport
3. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
4. Lester Leaps In
5. Sent For You Yesterday (And Here You Come Today)
6. Boogie Woogie (I May Be Wrong)
7. Evenin'
8. Blee Blop Blues
9. All Right, Okay, You Win
10. The Comeback
11. Roll 'Em Pete
12. Smack Dab in the Middle
13. One O'Clock Jump

Recorded at Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, Rhode Island on July 7, 1957.

Personnel: Count Basie (piano); Joe Williams, Jimmy Rushing (vocals); Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet (tenor saxophone); Marshall Royal, Bill Graham, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Charlie Fowlkes (saxophone); Roy Eldridge, Wendall Culley, Joe Newman, Reunald Jones, Thad Jones (trumpet); Henry Coker, Benny Powell, Bill Hughes (trombones); Freddie Green (guitar); Ed Jones (bass); Sonny Payne, Jo Jones (drums)

Johnny Griffin - 1978 Unpretentious Delights

This nearly hour-long set by Johnny Griffin comes from a 1978 concert in Warsaw. The Little Giant is in great form, though the track listing on the rear of CD is bound to confuse first-time listeners. The opening set begins with a four minutes of a chant-like vamp, before segueing directly into a lively arrangement of "A Night in Tunisia," which will definitely surprise anyone expecting "Body and Soul" (which is incorrectly labeled as track one); both pianist Pat Coil and drummer Art Taylor are also featured to good effect. Griffin's explosive take of "All the Things You Are" takes no prisoners, following it with lyrical interpretation of "Body and Soul." Although Griffin's tenor sax is well recorded, both the piano and bass suffer from distortion at times, so that should be taken into account before purchasing this CD.
Ken Dryden

01 A Night in Tunisia (Gillespie, Paparelli) 18:11
02 All the Things You Are (Hammerstein, Kern) 21:52
03 Body and Soul (Eyton, Green, Heyman, Sour) 18:47

Johnny Griffin Tenor Sax
Pat Coil Piano
Marc Johnson Bass
Art Taylor Drums

Recorded live in Warsaw, Poland, on October 1978

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dizzy Gillespie - Dizzy on the French Riviera (1962)

If you have Dizzy's Mosaic Verve/Philips box then you already have these tunes. Otherwise, I would highly recommend this one if you like his early sixties quintet. My copy is the 1986 Japanese reissue but I see that Verve also reissued it just this year. Any thoughts?

Some of Dizzy Gillespie's best and most well-known material from the '60s with a truly talented band is included on this long-awaited reissue of recordings done in France. A group of American expatriates and Europeans -- really musicians from all over the world -- accompany the trumpeter for music that spans bop, Brazilian sounds, and originals. Argentine pianist Lalo Schifrin plays piano and contributes the arrangements and Leo Wright is Gillespie's main foil on flute and alto sax, while Hungarian Elek Bacsik plays guitar in subtle ways that reflect the overall style of the sounds inspired by the French Riviera. A classic, stretched-out take of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "No More Blues" kicks off the set, with the sound of kids on an ocean beach leading to Gillespie and Wright trading halves of the melody line as playful as the children in a perfectly played bossa. Another Jobim standard, "Desafinado," has Wright's bright flute and the muted trumpet of Diz in a more pensive but still hopeful romantic mood. "I Waited for You" is the ultimate languid, laying-in-wait ballad, with Schifrin's refrains cuing the trumpeter's procrastinations, while "Long, Long Summer" is the pianist's ode to a sullen affair with ultraviolet light -- cool shades included -- in a swinging and modal approach. "For the Gypsies," penned by the leader, has Bacsik more up-front rhythmically, as Wright's mysterious flute contrasts with Gillespie's sharply precise notes in a sneaky quick bossa rhythm. Also written by Dizzy, "Here It Is" is as memorable a tune as he ever did, a signature strutting shuffle jazz/blues that exemplifies the joy in life always present in his music. That all of the participants are extremely talented and can mix and match with Gillespie beautifully makes this a CD that should appeal universally to all jazz lovers, and especially his biggest fans. - Michael G. Nastos

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Leo Wright (alto sax, flute)
Lalo Schifrin (piano)
Chris White (bass)
Rudy Collins (drums)
Elek Bacsik (guitar)
Pepito Riestria (percussion)
  1. No More Blues
  2. Desafinado
  3. Long, Long Summer
  4. I Waited for You
  5. Mount Olive
  6. Here It Is
  7. Pau de Arara
  8. For the Gypsies

Benny Carter - The King

I have come to realize that it is just habit and laziness on my part to use Yanow's reviews. He so rarely says anything. The customer review from Amazon is actually better.

The great Benny Carter was so much in demand as an arranger/composer in the studios that for 15 years, starting in the early '60s, he rarely recorded or performed in jazz settings, instead choosing to concentrate on writing movie scores. The drought ended when Carter, then in his late 60s, started recording for Pablo. As The King (his first small-group session since 1966) proves, the masterful altoist had not lost a thing through the years. In a sextet with vibraphonist Milt Jackson, guitarist Joe Pass and pianist Tommy Flanagan, Benny Carter is in masterful form, stretching out on eight of his own compositions and showing that his name always has to be ranked near the top of jazz improvisers, whether one is considering the 1930s or the 1990s. ~ Scott Yanow

"The King" is a great recording by Benny Carter. I think album to be one of my favorites by him. I rank it up there with "The Small Group Sessions" and "Further Definitions." I find this recording, like "Further Definitions," to be a very beneficial listen for the simple fact there are so many layers and something to discover every time you hear it, but that's the key to a great jazz albums isn't it? Carter is joined by Milt Jackson on vibes, Joe Pass on guitar, Tommy Flanagan on piano, John B. Williams on bass, and Jake Hanna on drums. An all-around superb session. Highly recommended. ~ J. Rich

Benny Carter (alto sax)
Milt Jackson (vibraphone)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Joe Pass (guitar)
John B. Williams (bass)
Jake Hanna (drums)

1. Walkin' Thing
2. My Kind Of Trouble Is You
3. Easy Money
4. Blue Star
5. I Still Love Him So
6. Green Wine
7. Malibu
8. Blues In D Flat

RCA Studios, Los Angeles, California: February 11, 1976

Johnny Griffin - 1988 Woe is Me

This CD contains a wonderful performance of Griffin, recorded in 1988 at Studio In The Groove, Davie (Florida). Griffin, who was just reached the respectable age of sixty at the time, is in an admirable shape, giving the best of his light, mobile playing, bursting suddenly into breath-taking climaxes, holding his imaginative musical ideas together with an over-all, colossal power. The rythm section (of which drummer Kenny Washington was also a member in the 1985 film of a Village Vanguard performance: The Jazz Life Featuring Johnny Griffin), supplies the strong beat Griffin needs. Woe Is Me and several other originals by Griffin are on the program, as well as some excellent interpretations of great American standards.
Famke Damsté

01. All Through the Night (Porter) 6:30
02. Isfahan (Griffin) 10:45
03. Take My Hand (Griffin) 9:38
04. Coming on the Hudson (Monk) 5:16
05. Woe Is Me (Griffin) 11:06
06. Hush-a-Bye (Traditional) 7:33
07. Out of This World (Arlen/Mercer) 6:05
08. If I Should Lose You (Rainger/Robin) 8:03

Johnny Griffin Sax (Tenor)
Dennis Irwin Bass
Michael Weiss Piano
Kenny Washington Drums

Recorded at Studio In The Groove, Davie (Florida) on May 4 & 5, 1988

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sidney Bechet - Vol. 7: 1940 (Masters Of Jazz)

"The third batch of precious private recordings by John D. Reid sees in the year 1940.It begins with a fresh take of Bechet's earthy vocal number, 'Sidney's Blues' ... on which the author this time helps himself to no fewer than eight vocal choruses that see him through an active night! ... What is in effect a recorded rehearsal by John D. Reid , this series of cuts comes up with a wonderful surprise in the form of two takes of 'One O'Clock Jump' ... The hugely famous 'St. Louis Blues', played from start to finish as a clarinet solo, here makes it's first appearance in the Bechet discography. ... Kenny Clarke, now returning to the line-up ... already reveals a revolutionary edge.

... The Blue Note session with bluesman Josh White is interesting in that it casts Sidney back to that style in the 1920s when he was accomanying women blues-singers with Clarence Williams." ~ Fabrice Zammarchi

Sidney Bechet (clarinet, soprano sax, vocal)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Josh White (guitar, vocal)
Teddy Bunn (guitar)
Sid Catlett (drums)

The New Orleans Feetwarmers
1. Sidney's Blues
2. Preachin' Blues
3. One O'Clock Jump (take 1)
4. One O'Clock Jump (take 2)
5. St. Louis Blues
6. Indian Summer

Sidney Bechet and his New Orleans Feetwarmers
7. Indian Summer
8. One O'Clock Jump
9. Preachin' Blues (take 1)
10. Preachin' Blues (take 2)
11. Sidney's Blues (take 1)
12. Sidney's Blues (take 2)

Josh White Trio
13. Careless Love
14. Milk Cow Blues

Sidney Bechet Blue Note Quartet
15. Lonesome Blues
16. Dear Old Southland
17. Bechet's Steady Rider
18. Saturday Night Blues

An Evening with Mel Tormé & George Shearing

Pianist George Shearing and singer Mel Tormé would match together perfectly every time they shared the stage; the mutual respect they had for each other was as obvious as the fact that they had very complementary styles.

This CD, their first joint recording, is consistently exciting. With bassist Brian Torff making the group a trio, Shearing and Tormé swing hard on such tunes as "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm," "Give Me the Simple Life," "Love," and "Lullaby of Birdland" (which starts off with Shearing singing).

In addition, there are a pair of instrumentals including "Manhattan Hoedown," which is a feature for Torff. Tormé's touching rendition of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" by itself would be enough reason to acquire this highly enjoyable set. Scott Yeah-now

George Shearing (piano)
Mel Tormé (vocals)
Brian Torff (bass)

1 All God's Chillun Got Rhythm (Jurman, Kahn, Kaper) 3:37
2 Born to Be Blue (Torme, Wells) 5:14
3 Give Me the Simple Life (Bloom, Ruby) 3:40
4 Good Morning Heartache (Drake, Fisher, Higginbotham) 6:11
5 Manhattan Hoedown (Torff) 4:46
6 You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To (Porter) 2:52
7 A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (Maschwitz, Sherwin) 5:01
8 Love (Blane, Martin) 4:56
9 It Might as Well Be Spring (Hammerstein, Rodgers) 4:42
10 Lullaby of Birdland (Shearing, Weiss) 7:33

Recorded live at The Peacock Court, Hotel Mark Hopkins, San Francisco,
CA on April 15, 1982

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Various Artists - The Complete H.R.S. Sessions (Mosaic)

Sixty-five years ago a group of dedicated writers, musicians and music collectors formed the Hot Record Society. They saw a threat to jazz with the more popular dance music that was often lumped together with jazz in people's minds. To their ears, jazz was something purer and less polished. And they were determined to keep it alive.
They started, fittingly, with Pee Wee Russell leading Max Kaminsky, Dicky Wells, Zutty Singleton, and James P. Johnson. It was the first of over 100 titles that focuses on traditional jazz and small-group swing.
The next session, the Sidney Bechet-Muggsy Spanier Big Four in 1940, is generally acknowledged as the crown jewel in Bechet's considerable recorded legacy. Later that year, HRS recorded the Jack Teagarden Big Eight sessions with Ben Webster; and the Rex Stewart Big Seven with Lawrence Brown, Barney Bigard and Dave Tough.
After a five-year hiatus, recording resumed in 1945 with a couple of uncharacteristic, but stunning, big band sessions. They also made some great quartet recordings with the Buck Clayton Big Four that featured Tiny Grimes and no drummer, and a group called Jimmy Jones's Big Four with Budd Johnson and Denzil Best.
The label's main fare was wonderfully-arranged, tightly-executed, small-group septets and octets that swung like mad. You could look forever for the original 78s. Re-issues on LP and CD often have been poor in sound quality, and incomplete. But Mosaic gives due to these early preservationists by putting together all 124 performances on 6 CDs. And we've even included 11 unissued alternate takes.

As (nearly) all Mosaic issue, this is a limited edition, running low. If you want it, you have to hurry up!

Walt Dickerson and Richard Davis - Dialogue

Anybody know this one?

Richard Davis is a well-practised duo improvisor - most notably with Eric Dolphy - and he falls in at once with Dickerson's conception, giving the whole session a rich, almost symphonic depth of tone and breadth of development. The two albums [ Divine Gemini and Tenderness] have been compiled as Dialogue...~ Penguin Guide

Walt Dickerson made an impact when he first emerged in the early '60s -- he won the Down Beat Critic's Poll as New Star in 1962 -- but as the years have passed, he's become much less visible. Dickerson graduated from Morgan State College in 1953. After serving in the Army from 1953-1955, he settled in California, where he led a band that included Andrew Cyrille and Andrew Hill. In his early-'60s heyday, Dickerson played the clubs on the New York scene. He worked with Sun Ra, recording Impressions of a Patch of Blue in 1965. Shortly thereafter, Dickerson retired from performing for nearly a decade and returning in 1975. In the years 1977-1978, he made the bulk of his recordings for the SteepleChase label, which included duos with Sun Ra, guitarist Pierre Dorge, and bassist Richard Davis. Also in 1978, Dickerson recorded in a quartet with pianist Albert Dailey. Dickerson has been one of the few vibists to exhibit an awareness of free jazz techniques, though he's manifestly conversant in the language of post-bop. Dickerson has performed around his native Philadelphia. ~ Chris Kelsey

Walt Dickerson (vibes)
Richard Davis (bass)

CD 1
1. Lucille
2. Divine Gemini
3. Always Positive
4. Her Intuition

CD 2
1. Tenderness
2. Divine Gemini
3. So Thoughtful
4. Road Must Bend
5. Play Son Play

Walt Dickerson - I Hear You John

I Hear You John is rather prosaic, though there is no mistaking the amount of emotion that has gone into it. As an attempt to make a record with another percussionist, it is fascinating. ~ Penguin Guide

Vibraphonist and composer whose broken-backed career did not bring the fame his distinctive and influential playing deserved. He obtained a college degree and served in the U.S. Army in the mid 1950s, lived on the West Coast and led a group that included Andrew Hill and Andrew Cyrille, turning to music full time after he was named a New Star in down beat in 1962.

By September 1978 Dickerson was in Denmark and there was a burst of activity for two months. ... A trio track 'I Hear You John' was issued on two sides of an LP of that title; a CD '96 added 'We Wish You Well Wilbur Ware' at over 38 minutes long, ... All this was in 1978; then a trio set Life Rays '82 was recorded with Cyrille in Italy for Soul Note, and there were no more recordings for the last 25 years.

" ... then in the late '70s, Dickerson re-emerged playing some extremely ethereal and gorgeous free jazz, released on an incredible series of Steeplechase LPs. after that, there was one record for Soul Note in '82 and then nothing since."

Walt Dickerson (vibes)
Andy McKee (bass)
Jimmy Johnson (drums)

1. I Hear You John
2. We Wish You Well Wilbur Ware

Vaerkstedet, Holback, Denmark: October 2, 1978

Early Mandolin Classics Vol. 1

This fascinating glimpse into multi-ethnic mandolin music in the '20s and '30s features recordings from ragtime and blues to Ukrainian bands and, of course, hillbillies. ~ Mark A. Humphrey

Despite the great popularity of the instrument, and the wealth of great music on early recordings, you'd think a reissue of mandolin classics like this would have appeared long ago! Nevertheless, here are 16 great, wildly diverse sides remastered from 78s, featuring everyone from Gid Tanner to Sleepy John Estes to the Giovale String Trio to groups from Mexico, the Ukraine, and so on!

1. Hokum Blues - Dallas String Band
2. Echoes Of The Shenandoah Valley - H.M. Barnes Blue Ridge Ramblers
3. So Sorry Dear - Evans & Mcclain
4. Take Those Lips Away - Doc Roberts/Asa Martin
5. Nuestro Heroe - Canario Y Su Grupo
6. Prater Blues - Matthew Prater & Nap Hayes
7. I Can Deal Worry - King David's Jug Band
8. Tanner's Rag - Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers
9. Blackberry Rag - Three Stripped Gears
10. Vol Stevens' Blues - Vol Stevens
11. I Found A Four-Leaf Clover - Al Miller
12. The Girl I Love, She Got Curly Hair - Sleepy John Estes
13. Gandzia Polka - Ctpyhha Opkectpa
14. I Shall Wear A Crown - Arizona Dranes
15. Vicksburg Stomp - Mississippi Mud Steppers
16. Costumi Siciliani - Gioviale String Trio

Jim Hall - Subsequently

Seems like a greater and greater number of top jazz albums are going out of print these days. Here's yet another such album, but you can still procure it from Amazon Sellers, for example, at a bargain price. Otherwise, it will probably soon be unavailable - already 'discontinued by the manufacturer', reports Amazon. And it's an essential:

Review by Ken Dryden

Jim Hall's third CD for Musicmasters is the usual excellent mix of well-crafted originals and thoughtfully-arranged standards that one has come to expect from the veteran guitarist. It also marks the addition of young keyboardist Larry Goldings and the recording debut of a promising young Danish tenor saxophonist Rasmus Lee. The leader's "Subsequently" is an immediately infectious song that kicks off the release, while "Pancho" is a captivating bossa nova with a few twists thrown in, and "Waiting to Dance" is a brisk waltz that has a few detours into post-bop. Hall's also covers his wife's tasty composition "The Answer Is Yes" once again. Standard fare includes a gracefully swinging "I'm in the Mood for Love" and a foot-tapping "More Than You Know"; harmonica player Toots Thielemans is a special guest on his own upbeat "Waltz for Sonny." With the demise of Musicmasters, this highly recommended CD could soon turn into a hard to find collectable, so it merits immediate an immediate search.

VIDEO: Roland Kirk in the Sixties - Jazz Icons Series

"Jazz Icons is doing for jazz what the Criterion Collection has done for classic and important films."

Yet another great video in the Jazz Icons series, recently broadcast on the Europe-wide satellite channel, Mezzo. These are all recently published and I see, available on DVD for a reasonable price. This one sees Rahsaan on three European dates, with Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Alex Riel, Daniel Humair, and Ron Burton. The 'sidemen' seem at times a bit mystified at what Rahsaan is doing!

Amazon Product Description
This collection presents Rahsaan Roland Kirk playing with his entire instrumental arsenal of flutes, siren, music box, whistles, manzello, stritch, clarinet, and tenor saxophones - sometimes simultaneously! Even longtime Rahsaan Roland Kirk fans will be surprised and delighted by the renditions of Milestones and The Sandpiper. One of Europe's most highly regarded and creative drummers, Daniel Humair, accompanies Kirk on two of the three concert videos and on the other, the ever-resourceful Alex Riel, of Bill Evans Trio fame, provides the fire and the swing. This collection includes two different renditions of "Three For the Festival", arguably Kirk's most spectacular performance piece. Featuring a 24 page booklet with liner notes by John Kruth, forward by Drothaan Kirk, rare photographs and memorabilia collage.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Boots And His Buddies - 1937-1938 (Chronological 738)

Bandleader Clifford (Boots) Douglas was born in Temple, Texas, on September 7, 1908. Douglas, known as one of the finest Texas jazz bandleaders of his era, recorded and toured throughout Texas during the big band or Texas swing heyday of the 1930s. He began experimenting on the drums at age fifteen. He played in Central Texas before moving to San Antonio, where he got his start on the emerging jazz scene.

Douglas started by accompanying Millard McNeal's Southern Melody Boys; he played his first show at Turner's Park, San Antonio, in 1926. After earning a reputation as a fine drummer and musician, he formed his own outfit, which he named Boots and His Buddies. Although highly eclectic in style, the ensemble was quite successful. The band concentrated most of its energies on playing in Texas, but made forays into surrounding states as well. Although Boots and His Buddies were not famous in New York or other eastern cities, the group garnered a large following in its home region. In 1935 Bluebird signed the band, which cut forty-two sides for the label between 1935 and 1938, including the songs "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Blues of Avalon."

After reaching a pinnacle of success in the 1930s the band steadily declined in popularity. Douglas called it quits, and in 1950 packed his belongings and headed to Los Angeles. He continued to play part-time, but his job for the county government replaced music as his primary source of income. By the 1970s he had dropped out of the public eye, and he has since faded into obscurity. The specific date and place of his death are not known. Social Security Death Records do list a Clifford Douglas who was born on September 7, 1906, in Texas and died on October 27, 2000, in Los Angeles. ~ Bradley Shreve

Meet Clifford "Boots" Douglas, a solid drummer who led a fine big band in and around San Antonio, Texas during the mid-'30s. Thanks to the efforts of the men behind Victor's budget Bluebird label, Boots managed to make no less than 42 recordings, exactly half of which are presented here, ... . Most of the players are shrouded in obscurity. A.J. Johnson was an able pianist, Walter McHenry packed punches with his upright bass, and Baker Millian handled a tenor sax with warmth and finesse. The leader's straightforward shuffle-drumming punctuated with concisely employed cymbal strikes is delightfully consistent, and at times exciting, ... a band that dared to operate far from the New Orleans/Chicago/New York triangle. ~ arwulf arwulf

1. Blues Of Avalon
2. The Goo (The Goona Goo)
3. The Weep (Willow Weep For Me)
4. The Sad (Mediation)
5. Ain't Misbehavin'
6. The Somebody (Somebody Loves Me)
7. The Happy (Sometimes I'm Happy)
8. The Raggle Taggle
9. A Salute To Harlem
10. Gone
11. Do-Re-Mi
12. Deep South
13. Lonely Moments
14. Chubby (I'se A Muggin')
15. True Blue Lou (Blue Lou)
16. East Commerce Stomp
17. Lonesome Road Stomp
18. I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You
19. Boots Stomp
20. Careless Love
21. Remember

Keely Smith - Keely Swings Basie-style...with strings (2002)

Keely Smith is best known for her singing with Louis Prima back in the fifties but she has made several solo records over the past decade that are worth getting.

The swing revival was custom made for singers like Keely Smith. Keely Swings Basie Style...With Strings follows 2000's Swing, Swing, Swing and 2001's Grammy-nominated Keely Sings Sinatra, capping off a trilogy of lovingly performed classic jazz. Smith's backward glance, however, isn't just pure nostalgia. Keely Swings Basie Style, for instance, begins with Count Basie-style arrangements and then applies them to a number of songs not necessarily associated with the bandleader. The addition of strings provides another distinctive layer. Smith begins with "April in Paris" and brings her warm vocals to bear on a number of other classics, including "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" and "How High the Moon." There's a particularly lovely take on "Mood Indigo" and a bouncy version of "Cherokee (Indian Love Song)." Smith balances these standards with spry contemporary fare like "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" and "Can't Take My Eyes off of You." The closing number offers something of a surprise, beginning with "The House I Live In" and then flowing into "Star Spangled Banner," ending the album on a patriotic note. The combination of tasteful arrangements, good song choices, and Smith's pleasing vocals guarantees that fans will warmly embrace Keely Swings Basie Style. - Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Keely Smith (vocals)
Frank Szabo, Carl Saunders, Wayne Bergeron, Pete Candoli (trumpet)
Andy Martin, Chauncey Welsch, Bryant Byers (trombone)
Jim Self (tuba)
Lanny Morgan, Sol Lozano (alto sax)
Don Menza, Pete Christlieb (tenor sax)
Bob Efford (baritone sax)
Frank Collett (piano)
Barry Zweig (guitar)
Kirk Smith (bass)
Steve Barnes (drums)
String Orchestra with F Horns
Don Menza, Dennis Michaels, Frank Collett (arranger)
  1. Intro - Voice Over - April in Paris
  2. April in Paris
  3. You Go to My Head
  4. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
  5. Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe
  6. Lover
  7. How High the Moon
  8. I Can't Stop Loving You
  9. Cherokee
  10. Mood Indigo
  11. Some of These Days
  12. Love for Sale
  13. One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)
  14. Can't Take My Eyes Off You
  15. St. Louis Blues
  16. Take the 'A' Train
  17. The House I Live In/Star Spangled Banner
  18. Tag - Voice Over - April in Paris
Recorded July 2002

Shake Your Wicked Knees (Yazoo)

You won't get too far into this without thinking about Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and many others. Available at Amazon, but try a family owned business first.

Significant chunks of the celebrated Yazoo catalog have unceremoniously left the shelves and it doesn’t look like they’re due for restock any time soon. The chief culprit is likely the continuing supply of “gray market” box sets coming across the pond from European freebooters like Proper and JSP. What those sets have in the way of discount magnitude they most certainly lack in terms of love and charm, the latter traits of which Yazoo releases often exuded in surplus. This collection is just one case in point, part of the label’s concerted late-90s push to dust-off forgotten barrelhouse and ragtime lore. It’s also one of the few I don’t own, having just stumbled across it at the public library over the weekend. Sharp-dressed, ivory-tickling dudes like Romeo Nelson and Cow Cow Davenport make good on their sobriquets, stabbing out stomping rolls on battered juke joint 88s and keeping the party atmosphere from faltering. The double entendres ramp up with similar frequency on back alley ditties like “Getting’ Dirty Just Shakin’ That Thing” and “Tight Whoopee”. There’s also a fair amount of spoken asides, idiosyncratic scatting, and general “carrying on” between choruses. Pinetop Smith’s cast of low rent characters on “I’m Sober Now” probably take the prize, his philosophy summed up by the verse: “I don’t mind playin’ any time that y’all can make me drunk…” The source recordings are predictably scratch-infested, but that hardly detracts from the joie de vie behind the off-the-cuff deliveries. A drive by Amazon shows used copies going for the tidy sum of just under a triple sawbuck… too steep for my wheels. Sure glad I took a bath on the others before the drought. ~ Bagatellen

There are not enough superlatives to describe this collection. It gives a brilliantly curated overview of the Barrelhouse Piano genre. And what is this genre? Some sort of mix of Boogie Woogie, classic Blues Piano, elements of '20's Jazz practice (extremely simplified)...Like that...Many of the essential classics are here, most notably some of the few recordings of Pine Top Smith, including his Pine Top's Boogie Woogie, which was a huge hit arranged for Tommy Dorsey (!) during the Swing Era. But this solo version, with its hectoring spoken orders (" When I stop, don't move a peg!") is the one. And you've got to love someone who can sing a line like "I can't use a woman if she won't help me rob and steal" so plaintively (Pine Top's Blues). In fact - and this is not faint praise - the spoken asides on these tracks are often as amazing as the music. Meade Lux Lewis' seminal masterpiece, the pungently bitonally colored Honky Tonk Train Blues is here, but so are many great tracks by lesser forgotten masters. Let's face it, most of these players had only a couple of great licks and tricks, but they were brilliant in husbanding them. Nonetheless, this creates the situation where this kind of survey disc is probably the best way to experience this music. Jim Clarke's Fat Fanny Stomp contrasts a very delicate variety of Barrelhouse with obsessively double-entendre lyrics - and it's his only recording! Cow Cow Davenport's Cow Cow Blues presents some of the key phrases of R and B in their prehistoric form. Romeo Nelson stretches the 12 - bar form to some surrealistic phrase lengths (about the only one here to do this). There's a lot of screaming, hollering and whooping spread throughout this disc, particularly on the exultant final track, Mozelle Anderson's aptly-named Tight Whoopie. But there's not a loser in the bunch. Highly recommended. ~ jive rhapsodist

1. Head Rag Hop - Romeo Nelson
2. Pine Top's Boogie Woogie - Pinetop Smith
3. Pinetop's Blues - Pinetop Smith
4. Back in the Alley - Charles "Cow Cow" Davenport
5. I'm So Glad I'm 21 Years Old Today - Joe Dean
6. Pitchin' Boogie - William Ezell
7. Honky Tonk Train Blues - Meade "Lux" Lewis
8. Dearborn Street Breakdown - Charles Avery
9. Fat Fanny Stomp - Jim Clarke
10. Cow Cow Blues - Charles "Cow Cow" Davenport
11. Hip Shakin' Strut - The Hokum Boys, Jane Lucas
12. House Rent Scuffle - Lil Johnson
13. Gettin' Dirty Just Shakin' That Thing - Romeo Nelson
14. Jump Steady Blues - Pinetop Smith
15. Detroit Rocks - Montana Taylor
16. Whoop and Holler Stomp - Montana Taylor
17. I'm Sober Now - Pinetop Smith
18. Indiana Avenue Stomp - Montana Taylor
19. Stomp 'Em Down to the Bricks - Henry Brown
20. Hokum Stomp - The Hokum Boys, Jane Lucas
21. Jimmy's Rocks - Jimmy Yancey
22. Mooch Piddle - Charles "Cow Cow" Davenport
23. Tight Whoopee - Mozelle Alderson

Teddy Wilson - The Legendary Small Groups Vol. 2: 1937-1943 (Masters Of Jazz)

Some Brunswick, Columbia and V-Disc sides as well as a soundtrack numbers. As with the first volume (previously posted by Dudearonymous) these are small group sessions even though Mr. Wilson had his big band right in the middle of this period. I recently saw this in a shop and was, as usual with this series, impressed at how excellent the liner notes were. Couldn't wait to hear it, but when I got home I found that I never took it to the register. With a little luck it will be there the next time I'm in that store.

"The noted jazz writer and producer John Hammond was instrumental in getting Wilson a contract with Brunswick, starting in 1935, to record hot swing arrangements of the popular songs of the day, with the growing jukebox trade in mind. He recorded fifty hit records with various singers such as Lena Horne and Helen Ward, including many of Billie Holiday's greatest successes. During these years he also took part in many highly regarded sessions with a wide range of important swing musicians, such as Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Shavers, Red Norvo, Buck Clayton and Ben Webster.

Wilson formed his own short-lived big band in 1939, then led a sextet at Cafe Society from 1940 to 1944. He was dubbed the "Marxist Mozart" by Howard "Stretch" Johnson due to his support for left-wing causes – he performed in benefit concerts for The New Masses journal and for Russian War Relief, ..."

Just a brief observation; while Robert Casadesus called Wilson "the Mozart of the piano" (I know, I know!), this Marxist Mozart crap is just idiotic. Many self respecting Black men who were as American and as patriotic as possible still found themselves at events sponsored, or nominally sponsored, by Leftist groups. After all, the government was doing little to insure that all men were being treated equal. The Elk Hall concert with Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray was a Communist Party sponsored event, and nobody ever accused them of being Socialist Saxmen.

That's all. I'm done.

Teddy Wilson (piano)
Chu Berry (tenor sax)
Harry James (trumpet)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Hot Lips Page (trumpet)
Red Norvo (vibraphone)
Gene Sedric (tenor sax)
Edmond Hall (clarinet)
Benny Morton (trombone)

1. Ain't Misbehavin'
2. Just A Mood
3. Honeysuckle Rose
4. When You're Smiling
5. I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
6. Don't Be That Way
7. Don't Be That Way
8. Jungle Love
9. I Never Knew
10. Oh, Lady Be Good
11. The Sheik Of Araby
12. The Sheik Of Araby
13. Blues from 'Boogie Woogie Dream'
14. B Flat Swing
15. How High The Moon
16. Russian Lullaby
17. Russian Lullaby
18. Oh, Lady Be Good
19. B Flat Swing

Sunday, September 13, 2009

BN LP 5020 | Gil Melle - New Faces/New Sounds

BN LP 5020 Gil Melle - New Faces/New Sounds

I'm sure you have heard repeatedly that Gil Melle introduced Alfred Lion to Rudy Van Gelder - now I'm not sure, but someone may be able to clarify - this release was actually self produced by Gil Melle, who then hawked it round and it landed at Blue Note. He was the first 'caucasian' leader signed on the BN roster.
Alfred Lion asked WOR how to achieve the RVG sound and they suggested going to RVG. A bit of an 'own goal' for retaining clients, but there you are.

Eddie Bert (tb) Gil Melle (ts) Joe Manning (vib) George Wallington (p) Red Mitchell (b) Max Roach (d) Monica Dell (vo -2/4)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, March 2, 1952

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

Louis Armstrong - Columbia Jazz Masterpieces (1925 - 1932)

These are some of the first CDs I ever bought. When they came out, I was amazed at the quality of sound. I know that there are some that prefer the remasters made under the direction of John R. T. Davies, but I still think these are great discs.
With the exception of some as to yet unissued songs/takes, a few alternate takes and one unexplainable song, these eight CDs represent the complete recorded output of Armstrong led sides for Okeh and Columbia. The unexplainable is "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams". When they issued Stardust (CD VIII) on CD, they used the same tracks as they did on the original LP issue, including the first track, "Chinatown, My Chinatown". By that point, though, they had issued CDs I through VII. The last song on CD VII is also "Chinatown." As the next song recorded is the aforementioned "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams", it seems inexcusable that Columbia would not have included this song on either CD VII or VIII.
Here is a nice piece from Red Hot Jazz Archive:
Louis Armstrong was the greatest of all Jazz musicians. Armstrong defined what it was to play Jazz. His amazing technical abilities, the joy and spontaneity, and amazingly quick, inventive musical mind still dominate Jazz to this day. Only Charlie Parker comes close to having as much influence on the history of Jazz as Louis Armstrong did. Like almost all early Jazz musicians, Louis was from New Orleans.

In 1925 Armstrong moved back to Chicago and joined his wife's band at the Dreamland Cafe (3520 South State Street). He also played in Erskine Tate's Vendome Orchestra and then with Carrol Dickenson's Orchestra at the Sunset Cafe (313-17 East 35th Street at the corner of Calmet Street). Armstrong recorded his first Hot Five records that same year. This was the first time that Armstrong had made records under his own name. The records made by Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven are considered to be absolute jazz classics and speak of Armstrong's creative powers. The band never played live, but continued recording until 1928.

While working at the Sunset, Louis met his future manager, Joe Glaser. Glaser managed the Sunset at that time. Armstrong continued to play in Carrol Dickenson's Orchestra until 1929. He also led his own band on the same venue under the name of Louis Armstrong and his Stompers. For the next two years Armstrong played with Carroll Dickerson's Savoy Orchestra and with Clarence Jones' Orchestra in Chicago.

By 1929 Louis was becoming a very big star. He toured with the show "Hot Chocolates" and appeared occasionally with the Luis Russell Orchestra, with Dave Peyton, and with Fletcher Henderson. Armstrong moved to Los Angeles in 1930 where he fronted a band called Louis Armstrong and his Sebastian New Cotton Club Orchestra. In 1931 he returned to Chicago and assembled his own band for touring purposes. In June of that year he returned to New Orleans for the first time since he left in 1922 to join King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. Armstrong was greeted as a hero, but racism marred his return when a White radio announcer refused to mention Armstrong on the air and a free concert that Louis was going to give to the cities' African-American population was cancelled at the last minute. Louis and Lil also separated in 1931. In 1932 he returned to California, before leaving for England where he was a great success. ~ Scott Alexander
Louis Armstrong (coronet, trumpet)
Kid Ory (trombone)
Jack Teagraden (trombone)
Johnny Dodds (clarinet)
Don Redman (clarinet, alto saxophone)
Earl Hines (piano)
Lil Hardin Armstrong (piano)
Luis Russell (piano)
Joe Sullivan (piano)
Eddie Lang (guitar)
Johnny St. Cyr (banjo)
Zutty Singleton (drums)
Lionel Hampton (drums, vibraphone)
Many, many others

Billy Harper - Destiny Is Yours

When we had the old format of posting links, Harper was always very popular, but I was surprised to read that Chuck Nessa never saw what the big deal was about Harper. He didn't say anything bad about him, just that he, Nessa, didn't get it. Anyone have any thoughts on this one? It's available and I'm thinking of getting it; any suggestions are welcome.

On tenor saxophonist Billy Harper's Steeplechase debut, he and his working band of trumpeter Eddie Henderson, pianist Francesca Tanksley, bassist Clarence Seay, and drummer Newman Taylor Baker perform six originals, five written by Harper, and the oft-played standard "My Funny Valentine," played here a little faster than usual. A veteran of groups led by jazz greats Art Blakey, Max Roach, Randy Weston, Gil Evans, and Lee Morgan, the vastly under-recognized Harper is a master tenor saxophonist who has developed a unique sound on his chosen instrument, sometimes very passionate, sometimes very lyrical. His compositions, characterized by shifting tempos and themes played over insistent vamps, always have a spiritual, uplifting quality to them. Highlights include the title track, a medium-tempo waltz, Tanksley's "Dance in the Question," which alternates between an up-tempo 4/4 and a slower 3/4 section, and Harper's "Groove From Heaven," a medium-tempo swinger which alternates between a descending Harper riff and a six-note bass vamp. This is a perfect introduction to the artist's music. ~ Greg Turner

There is a bit of a hole in the discography at this point, almost a decade in which Harper was mainly involved in other projects. This, though, unveils what was to be a working band. Henderson very nearly steals it, but it is the solid, melodic work of Chessy Tanksley that holds the date together. The other two members are somewhat mechanical. ~ Penguin Guide

Billy Harper (tenor sax)
Eddie Henderson (trumpet)
Francesca Tanksley (piano)
Clarence Seay (bass)
Newman Baker (drums)

1. Destiny Is Yours
2. East-West Exodus
3. Dance In The Question
4. My Funny Valentine
5. One That Makes The Rain Stop
6. If Only One Could See
7. Groove From Heaven

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Archie Shepp - The Tradition

This is the HORO HDP 13-14 (double) LP, never released on CD (as far as I know).

Not listed in allmusic, it can be found (as "In The Tradition") at:

Another beautiful record by the beloved musician. I loved his piano playing in Sophisticated Lady.

Archie Shepp (ss, ts, upright p)
Cameron Brown (b)
Clifford Jarvis (d)

1 Hooray for Mal
2 Sophisticated Lady
3 Things Have Got To Change
4 I Didn't Know About You

Recorded October 12, 1977 - Rome

Sam Rivers - Trio Live

The music on this 1998 CD reissue was originally scattered over several releases until it was finally grouped together in 1978 for the double-LP The Live Trio Sessions (along with another eight minutes of related material not brought back here). The bulk of the music ("Hues Of Melanin") is from a Nov. 10, 1973 Yale University concert that features Rivers with both Cecil McBee and Lewis Worrell on basses along with drummer Barry Altschul. The continuous free improvisation has Rivers stretching out with great length on soprano, flute (complete with very odd vocal sounds), piano and then (during the final 5½ minutes of the 44-minute performance) tenor. It is a pity that Rivers chose to feature his main ax so sparingly, for this piece would have been much stronger if he had played tenor for 35 minutes rather than just five. The latter part of the CD is from a Norway concert on Aug. 3, 1973 ("Suite for Molde"), with Arild Anderson taking McBee's place. Rivers plays soprano and flute for eight minutes and then tenor for 11 minutes; the latter section is the strongest section of the entire disc. Sam Rivers' longtime fans may think of this collection as bordering on the classic, and there are certainly some emotional moments, but Rivers has sounded more consistent elsewhere. ~ Scott Yanow

Previously the only record of Rivers' early 70's Impulse trio sessions available on compact disc was Streams (now deleted?). Through a resurgence of re-issues & new releases & a heavy touring schedule Samuel Cawthorne Rivers is finally receiving his due place in the jazz pantheon after years of mainstream critical ambivalence and ignorance. This album is evidence of his enormous stature. Trio Live follows the same basic format of Streams, featuring a series of Rivers' improvisations on tenor & soprano saxophones, flute, piano and primitve vocalese backed by the able & active support of Barry Altschul (a vast improvement over the clumsy traps-work of a pre-disco Norman Conners on Streams) & at various times Cecil McBee, Arlid Anderson & Lewis Worrell on double-bass. Each of the tunes are lengthy improv numbers with Rivers' punctuating his shifts among his arsenal of instruments with raucous howls & whoops. Rivers manages to touch upon the whole history of improvised musical expression, from passionately simple cathartic screams, to incredibly intricate runs of saxophonic genius that utilize all registers of his horn. This is a highly kinetic set that never slows down even during the more meditative passages when Rivers blows soulfully on his flute. A beautiful taste of the early 70's loft jazz esthetic. ~ Derek Taylor

Sam Rivers (soprano and tenor sax, flute, piano)
Cecil McBee (bass)
Arild Andersen (bass)
Lewis Worrell (bass)
Barry Altschul (drums)

1. Hues Of Melanin
2. Hues Of Melanin (Ivory Black)
3. Hues Of Melanin (Violet)
4. Suite For Molde, Part One (Onyx / Topaz)
5. Suite For Molde, Part Two

Frank Mantooth - Sohisticated Lady (1994)

A blast off from Bobby Shew's trumpet in the first few measures of Paul McKee's "The Messenger," the first cut on this album, sets the stage for over 70 minutes of sometimes rip-roaring, other times mellow, but always dynamic big-band music in a modern vein. Of the ten tracks, seven are composed and/or arranged by Mantooth. "The Messenger," presenting Shew's high-register trumpet solo along with Pat LaBarbera's soprano saxophone, is one of the album's highlights. Shew is also the soloist on the Harry "Sweets" Edison and Jon Hendricks-penned "Centerpiece," one of the three tracks in this set to feature Kevin Mahogany on vocals. He does some serious scatting on this piece, and he's also present on "One for My Baby" and "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." Another special attraction is Tom Matta's haunting bass trombone solo on "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," with Marvin Stamm's staccato trumpet cleaning up at the end of the tune. Master baritone sax player Nick Brignola showcases "Sophisticated Lady," which is done with a bossa nova flavor. Pete Christlieb's tenor sax joins Mahogany on the ultimate saloon song "One for My Baby." There's also a muted trumpet playing behind Mahogany which, regrettably, isn't identified. Ending on a hopeful and poignant note with "We'll Be Together Again," once more featuring a soulful Christlieb tenor, Mantooth has put together an album of superb big-band charts played by outstanding instrumentalists. Since this albums brings together recordings made at different sessions, McKee's "The Messenger" appears twice on the album. The only downside is the weird picture on the cover: a piece of work called "Wanda" who is not a "Sophisticated Lady." - Dave Nathan

Bobby Shew, Randy Brecker, Marvin Stamm, Danny Barber (trumpet)
Tom Garling, Paul McKee, Tom Matta (trombone)
Pat LaBarbera (soprano sax, tenor sax)
Kim Park (alto sax)
Pete Christlieb (tenor sax)
Nick Brignola (baritone sax)
Matt Harris (piano)
Bob Bowman (bass)
Steve Houghton, Bob Rummage (drums)
Kevin Mahogany (vocals)
  1. The Messenger
  2. Centerpiece
  3. Sophisticated Lady
  4. The Louie Shuffle
  5. One for My Baby
  6. Moment's Notice
  7. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
  8. It Don't Mean a Thing
  9. The Messenger (first version)
  10. We'll Be Together Again
Recorded January 23, April 24, December 13-14, 1994

Tony Malaby Cello Trio - Warblepeck

The old and the new come together on Warblepeck, saxophonist Tony Malaby's first CD as leader since 2003. Malaby has played previously with multi-instrumentalist John Hollenbeck, defining new paths and trajectories through music that has stirred and stimulated the senses. Neither of them had worked with Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello and electronics), who has made his own impact as an improvising musician. The triumvirate in place, Malaby wrote music that would draw the cello into a new creative spell, also including compositions from others for the CD. The overall result makes a strong impact that springs not only from the harmonic core, but also from the way in which the musicians elevate a tune with their fertile imaginations.

Malaby pulls several elements from his schematic bag. "Sky Church" rides on Hollenback's light percussion, the detail scattered by Lonberg-Holm and Malaby. The trio's conversation spurs ideas on the quick, with response being core to the dialogue as its thrust and parry moves into shadow and light. They find intensity as easily as they do calm, which they blend seamlessly. Freedom finds its fount in structure with all three letting their creativity drink consummately from it.

Cohesive freedom and intuition are the hallmarks of "Chicotaso," as disparate strands weave into a whole. Once the tapestry takes on a cogent shape, the trio sets about daubing individual colors. Malaby digs deep into tonality with his hard phrases becoming the cornerstone. Lonberg-Holm greases the movement with swift, slithering lines and Hollenbeck frames the beat with a judicious use of space.

Bill Frisell's "Waiting Inside" is set alight with radiant warmth. The trio brings in a chamber music quality built on Lonberg-Holm's cello, with Malaby gently introducing the theme. The ensemble lines are pure, pulsing from the appealing melody and as the trio stays within these vestiges, the composition is given new lifeblood.

Empathy and adventure make for music that is vibrant with texture and pulsating with emotional power. ~by Jerry D'Souza, All About Jazz


A ubiquitous presence in New York's fertile jazz scene, saxophonist Tony Malaby has appeared on over fifty albums since Sabino (Arabesque, 2000), his debut as a leader. With unfaltering drive and boundless creativity, his impassioned playing has graced numerous Downtown collectives, with early stints spent in Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra and Paul Motian's Electric Be-Bop Band.

The unconventional instrumentation featured on Warblepeck is unique in Malaby's budding discography, especially for an artist usually found fronting traditional small acoustic combos. Joined by avant cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and melodic percussionist John Hollenbeck, the unorthodox yet versatile combination of Lonberg-Holm's electronic EFX and Hollenbeck's arsenal of exotic percussion reveals a session rich in kaleidoscopic textures and tones.

Drawing inspiration from art forms unrelated to jazz, Malaby's interest in Stan Brakhage's abstract films, Cy Twombly's expressionistic paintings and the silent films of Buster Keaton influences his narrative phrasing and thematic concept on this audaciously experimental record. Sidestepping the typical pitfalls of the saxophone tradition, he elicits a variety of cadences on his horns. His gruff tenor veers from pointillist accents ("Anemonie") to vociferous grunts ("Warblepeck") while his sinuous soprano pivots between lyrical glissandos ("Scribble Boy") and fervent chromaticism ("Remolino").

Hollenbeck's creative virtuosity has yielded partnerships with artists as diverse as composer Meredith Monk and pianist Satoko Fujii. From effervescent xylophone cadences and scintillating glockenspiel accents to pulverizing trap set salvos, he unveils an endlessly fascinating array of sound. His tuneful abilities materialize on a haunting cover of Bill Frisell's "Waiting Inside," as his bittersweet melodica strains intermesh with sonorous cello and understated tenor.

A stalwart member of the Chicago scene, Longberg-Holm has his first meeting here with Malaby and Hollenbeck. A classically trained cellist with a supple acoustic technique and a predilection for electronic EFX, he conjures surging feedback, oscillating loops and distorted power chords from his amplified instrument. His overdriven double stops on "Two Shadows" and "Sky Church" summon metallic sheets of sound, goading Malaby's ferocious tenor and Hollenbeck's pneumatic drum kit into a frenzy. Conversely, his insectoid blips and bleeps on "Jackhat 1" and "Jackhat 2" intertwine with Hollenbeck's shimmering accents and the leader's multiphonic fragments, weaving a spectral panorama.

Malaby's desire to break free from the "athletic, picture-perfect" view of contemporary jazz finds accord in this unbridled setting. Embracing the process, rather than the finished product, Malaby's Cello Trio integrates their improvisational working method into their core aesthetic, finding beauty in the mystery of spontaneous creation.

A playful excursion into the possibilities of sound influenced by the visual arts, Warblepeck is a fascinating electro-acoustic effort and Malaby's most personal and adventurous recording to date. ~by Troy Collins, All About Jazz

1. Warblepeck
2. Jackhat 1
3. Two Shadows
4. Waiting Inside
5. Fly on Wall/Remolino
6. Anemone
7. Anemone Vamp
8. Sky Church
9. Scribble Boy
10. Jackhat 2
11. Chicotaso.

Tony Malaby: tenor and soprano saxophones
Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello and electronics
John Hollenbeck: drums, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, melodica, small kitchen appliances
2008 Songlines Records

Benny Goodman - The V-Discs

Trios, quartets, quintets, and full orchestra. As noted, the order on these 4 CDs make no pretence at correct sequence, but a good discography such as Rust or Bruyncxyouknowcxckwhocx will supply the particulars. I listened to the samples at Amazon and this seems pretty solid; anyone have this and willing to share an opinion?

This four-CD set is a treasure trove of wartime Benny Goodman activity, containing 68 tracks recorded or released on behalf of the Navy V-Disc program. In addition to the full band, the Benny Goodman Trio (with Teddy Wilson and Specs Powell) is represented, along with the "V-Disc Quartette," and the Benny Goodman Quintet. There are no dates included or other information, but the recordings generally span from the second half of 1943 until the middle of 1945. These aren't Goodman's complete V-Disc issues, nor has there apparently been much effort to keep what is here in recording or release order. They have been assembled in a sensible order for listening pleasure, however, and there's a considerable amount of that to be had. Goodman, like most other artists, was sidelined from recording for much of the early '40s by the Musicians Union's recording ban, but he recorded dozens of V-Discs that served to capture his repertory and his band's sound during this era. The Goodman band, in particular, through a combination of serving the public in their work and the growing optimism of the later war years -- and the plentiful work and money -- developed a reputation for reckless abandon in their performances during this period that made them a wonder to hear, stretching out on every solo as though there were no tomorrow. The repertory is, thus, unique, and priceless -- Goodman and his band (and trio and quartet) at the peak of their performance and innovation. The sound is uniformly good throughout this collection, with few exceptions of consequence, and the only flaw is the lack of any detailed notes. ~ Bruce Eder

Track Of The Day

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cecil Taylor - Trance

" ... the only recording that exists of Cecil Taylor and his group (other than two songs on the bootleg Ingo label) during 1962-1965. Taylor's then-new altoist Jimmy Lyons (who occasionally hints at Charlie Parker) and the first truly "free" drummer Sunny Murray join the avant-garde pianist in some stunning trio performances recorded live at the Cafe Montmartre in Copenhagen. ..."

"Jimmy Lyons and Sonny Murray, who went to Europe with Cecil, felt that it was the best thing that ever happened to the group. They worked consistently for six months and were thereby able to carry thr music into area they had not been able to explore before because the oppertunities toperform had been so limited. There had never been so much regular work in the United States." ~ A.B. Spellman in Black Music

"Taylor seems to be playing one of the poorest pianos Copenhagen had to offer; Murray's drums sound thin and rattly a lot of the time. Nevertheless, these sessions from the Cafe Montmartre should be accounted among the greatest live recordings in jazz. Taylor is still working his way out of jazz tradition and, with Murray at his heels, the playing has an irresistible momentum that creates its own kind of rocking swing, the pulse indefinable but palpable, the rhythm moving in waves from the drummers kit." ~ Penguin Guide

Cecil Taylor (piano)
Jimmy Lyons (alto sax)
Sonny Murray (drums)

1. Trance
2. Call
3. Lena
4. D Trad, That's What
5. Call (2nd version)

Duke Ellington - The Complete 1947-1952, volume 5

The last volume. It consists of the "Liberian Suite" and "Masterpieces By Ellington".

The Liberian suite was composed by Duke at the request of the Liberian governmen tin order to commemorate the centenary of the Republic founded in Africa in 1847 by freed American slaves. One of the first 10 inches 331/3 rpm microgroove records ever published, the original issue of the Liberian Suite was released in 1949, a few years before the 78 rpm record became obsolete.

"Masterpieces By Ellington" was a 12'' LP released in the early 50s and gave Ellington a chance to record extended versions of three of his classic compositions, plus a new one "The Tattooed Bride". To be honest, these are not my favorite versions of these classic tracks, maybe because the versions he cut some years ago are simply unsurpassed. "The Tattooed Bride" is what I like the most here.

1. I Like The Sunrise
2. Dance No. 1
3. Dance No. 2
4. Dance No. 3
5. Dance No. 4
6. Dance No. 5

7. Mood Indigo (Yvonne Lanauze, vocal)
8. Sophisticated Lady (Yvonne Lanauze, vocal)
9. The Tattooed Bride
10. Solitude

Richard Galliano & Jean-Charles Capon - Blues sur Seine

Richard Galliano is from my adopted home-town here in the South of France, and I'd like to draw your attention to this great jazz musician as well as a very unusual jazz date, a cello and accordian duo - when have you seen that before? There's a nice bio on RG by Steve Huey, reprinted below and in comments, and I just know after reading it you will want to expand your jazz collection with a few of RG's albums. The one pictured here is getting hard to find...

Biography by Steve Huey

Accordionist Richard Galliano did for European folk -- specifically, the early-20th-century French ballroom dance form known as musette -- what his mentor Astor Piazzolla did for the Argentinean tango. Galliano re-imagined and revitalized a musical tradition, expanding its emotional range to reflect modern sensibilities, and opening it up to improvisation learned through American jazz. In fact, Galliano was more of a jazz musician than a folk one, although he blurred the lines so much that distinctions were often difficult to make.../

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alex Von Schlippenbach- Monk's Casino CD 1

On the Genesis of Monk's Casino

The idea of compiling the complete works of Thelonious Monk and arranging them for live performance came to us in 1996-97. Apart from the pieces we already knew, there was not much sheet music available. Taped-up photocopies of manuscripts from various sources (there was no Thelonious Monk Fake Book yet) did make it possible, though, for us to finally put everything together. The first performance took place at the now defunct Jazzhaus Trepow, where we played the whole program over and over for a week. We then put together three sets of 23 to 24 pieces each, suitable for a live concert of about three-and-a-half hours of pure music.

In 1998, the complete show was first performed in a single evening at the NDR broadcast hall, for a broadcast organized by Michael Naura and the NDR jazz staff.There were also concerts in Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria. The complete show was then presented at the 2002 Berlin Jazz Festival, as well as at Nato in Leipzig and the Feuerwache in Mannheim. Before the Leipzig performance on 29 February 2004, we also did two evenings at the Berlin jazz club A-Trane. The recordings of the A-Trane concerts are on this CD.

The compositions are the most important thing here, so we did some of the pieces without any improvisation at all. We did take some liberties with the arrangements: many things came up during rehearsals and later became part of the performance. Monk's Casino is not an encyclopedic project, but an arrangement of the complete works of Thelonious Monk for live performance in one evening. At Monk's Casino, things often happen fast and sometimes get quite turbulent, too. Still, everything is well organized and, to that degree at least, under control. So here we go! ~ Alexander von Schlippenbach

Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano)
Axel Dorner (trumpet)
Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet)
Jan Roder (bass)
Uli Jennessen (drums)
Aki Takase (toy piano)

1 - Thelonious
2 - Locomotive
3 - Trinkle-Tinkle
4 - Stuffy Turkey
5 - Coming On The Hudson
6 - Intro Bemsha Swing
7 - Bemsha Swing - 52nd Street Theme
8 - Pannonica
9 - Evidence
10 - Misterioso - Sixteen - Skippy
11 - Monk's Point
12 - Green Chimneys - Little Rootie Tootie
13 - San Francisco Holiday
14 - Off Minor
15 - Gallop's Gallop
16 - Crepuscule With Nellie
17 - Hackensack
18 - Consecutive Seconds

Alex Von Schlippenbach- Monk's Casino CD 2

Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano)
Axel Dorner (trumpet)
Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet)
Jan Roder (bass)
Uli Jennessen (drums)

1. Brilliant Corners
2. Eronel
3. Monk's Dream
4. Shuffle Boil
5. Hornin' In
6. Criss Cross
7. Introspection
8. Ruby, My Dear
9. In Walked Bud
10. Let's Cool One--Let's Call This
11. Jackie-ing
12. Humph
13. Functional
14. Work--I Mean You
15. Monk's Mood
16. Four In One--Round About Midnight
17. Played Twice
18. Friday The 13th
19. Ugly Beauty
20. Bye-Ya--Oska T.

Alex Von Schlippenbach- Monk's Casino CD 3

Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano)
Axel Dorner (trumpet)
Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet)
Jan Roder (bass)
Uli Jennessen (drums)

1. Bolivar Blues--Well You Needn't
2. Brake's Sake
3. Nutty
4. Who Knows
5. Blue Hawk-North-Blue Sphere-Something in Blue
6. Boo Boo's Birthday
7. Ask Me Now
8. Think Of One
9. Raise Four
10. Japanese Folk Song- Children's Song-Blue Monk
11. Wee See
12. Bright Mississippi
13. Reflections
14. Five Spot Blues
15. Light Blue
16. Teo
17. Rhythm- a-ning
18. A Merrier Christmas
19. Straight No Chaser-Epistrophy

Alexander von Schlippenbach - The Living Music

Alexander von Schlippenbach, along with Peter Brötzmann and Manfred Schoof, was one of the founders of the German free jazz collective FMP Records. Like all good collectives, FMP knew how to conserve resources: the entirety of The Living Music, as well as half of Brötzmann's legendary 1969 album Nipples, was recorded by the same musicians in one day. Unlike Brötzmann's corrosive, chaotic Nipples, the six pieces on The Living Music explore the concepts of open spaces and collective improvisation at least as much as they do everyone-solos-at-once clatter. As a result, Manfred Schoof's "Wave" builds up an astounding head of steam thanks to the force of a seven-piece band all headed in the same musical direction, and there are parts of the title track that are downright contemplative, particularly a brief, fractured solo from von Schlippenbach that's more Bill Evans than Cecil Taylor. Brötzmann, of course, is the star of the album, and his spotlight comes on the second half of "Into the Staggerin," where the rest of the band lays out and Brötzmann plays a tenor solo that recalls Albert Ayler's best work in the way it combines honk-blat-phwee aggressiveness and a genuinely lyrical compositional sense. Nipples may be the more famous of these two albums, but The Living Music may well be the better. ~ Stewart Mason

Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano, percussion)
Peter Brotzmann (tenor and baritone sax)
Michel Pilz (bass clarinet, baritone sax)
Manfred Schoof (cornet, flugelhorn)
Paul Rutherford (trombone)
J. B. Niebergall (bass, bass trombone)
Han Bennink (drums, percussion)

1. The Living Music
2. Into The Staggerin
3. Wave
4. Tower
5. Lollopalooza
6. Past Time

Recorded at Conny Plank Rhenus Studio, Gordorf, Germany in April 1969
Originally released on Schlippenbach's own label, Quasar and subsequently reissued by Free Music Production (FMP).

Sarah Vaughan, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, Joe Pass, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Mickey Roker - 1979-80 A Celebration of Duke

Although Sarah Vaughan gets top billing on this set, she takes vocals on just two of the ten songs. Four different groupings of Pablo's All-Star musicians are heard from during a tribute to Duke Ellington, and there are many strong moments. Guitarist Joe Pass, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Mickey Roker make for a potent quartet on three songs; flugelhornist Clark Terry heads a quintet; Zoot Sims is featured on his lyrical soprano during memorable versions of "Rockin' in Rhythm" and the beautiful "Tonight I Shall Sleep"; and Sassy (backed by just pianist Mike Wofford and guitarist Joe Pass) comes up with fresh interpretations of "I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues" and "Everything But You." This is a well-rounded and enjoyable set with plenty of variety.
Scott Yanow

Producer Norman Granz was an associate of Duke Ellington’s for many years, and it is not surprising that his labels have frequently hosted Ellington tributes that bring out the best in the participating world-class musicians. While Clark Terry is the only participant in the present celebration to have logged significant time as an Ellingtonian, all hands draw sustenance from the unbeatable material. Of special interest are the tracks on which Zoot Sims plays soprano sax, especially the neglected “Tonight I Shall Sleep,” and Sarah Vaughan’s pair of urbane and intense vocals, accompanied only by the guitar of album-MVP Joe Pass and pianist Mike Wofford
Liner notes

01. Caravan Milt Jackson 4:44
02. Happy Go Lucky Local Clark Terry 4:29
03. Tonight I Shall Sleep Zoot Sims 6:42
04. I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues Sarah Vaughan 4:33
05. Come Sunday Clark Terry 2:34
06. Everything But You Sarah Vaughan 5:25
07. Take The "A" Train Milt Jackson 3:34
08. Rockin' In Rhythm Zoot Sims 4:27
09. Echoes Of Harlem Clark Terry 4:01
10. Main Stem Milt Jackson 4:48

Duke Ellington - The Complete 1947-1952, volume 4

These are the last sessions Duke cut for Columbia during his second period with CBS or its subsidiary companies (the other two were 1925-1940 and 1956-1962). The 5th and last volume has the "Liberian Suite" and "Masterpieces By Ellington", two of his firts LP records.

After these sessions Duke would sign to Capitol. However, he left the company two years later, rather frustrated, to cut two records for Bethlehem. Then back to Columbia and very soon... the Newport comeback!

Back to these sessions: Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown and Sonny Greer left the band in 1951. No need to say what this meant to Duke...
However, the previous year a new voice joined the band: Paul Gonsalves would mark the years to come.

CBS 462988 2, Jazzotheque Series
Produced by Henri Renaud for CBS France, 1989.

1. The Eighth Veil
2. Brown Betty
3. Deep Night
4. Please Be Kind
5. Smada
6. Rock Skippin' At The Blue Note
7. Bensonality
8. Blues At Sundown (Lloyd Oldham, vocal)
9. Duet
10. Azalea (Lloyd Oldham, vocal)
11. Vagabonds
12. Something To Live For (Lloyd Oldham, vocal)
13. I Love My Lovin' Lover (Betty Roche, vocal)
14. Come On Home
15. The Blues (Jimmy Grissom, vocal)
16. Body And Soul (Betty Roche, vocal)
17. Primping At The Prom
18. The Vulture Song (Jimmy Grissom, vocal)
19. Follow Me (Jimmy Grissom, vocal)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ricky Ford - Tenor Madness Too!

An excellent veteran tenor inspired by Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins, Ricky Ford was playing creative hard bop several years before Wynton Marsalis and his talent has been often overlooked. After studying at the New England Conservatory, he recorded in 1974 with Gunther Schuller. After touring with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (under Mercer Ellington's leadership during 1974-1976), Ford was with Charles Mingus (1976-1977), Dannie Richmond's Quintet (1978-1981), Lionel Hampton, and Mingus Dynasty (1982); he also played in 1985 with Abdullah Ibrahim. Ricky Ford has recorded as a leader for New World, an excellent string of dates for Muse (1978-1989), and for Candid. ~ Scott Yanow

Ricky Ford (tenor sax)
Antoine Roney (tenor sax)
Donald Brown (piano)
Peter Washington (bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)

1. Summer Summit
2. Ballad De Jour
3. Blues Abstractions
4. Up A Step
5. Con Alma
6. Soul Eyes
7. Rollin' And Strollin'
8. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
9. Nigeria Blues

Dave Grusin - Homage to Duke (1993)

This is a mostly small group outing for Dave Grusin with a great crew, not the over-orchestrated production that he is known for.

Although Dave Grusin is best known as a soundtrack composer and for his jazz-pop recordings, he has always had a great admiration for jazz. This CD (released in a fairly deluxe package) gave Grusin an opportunity to pay tribute to Duke Ellington. He performs ten mostly familiar songs associated with Ellington and wisely features fluegelhornist Clark Terry on five of the selections. Other prominent soloists include tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb, trombonist George Bohanon, tenor saxophonist Tom Scott (returning to his roots), clarinetist Eddie Daniels (on an orchestrated version of "Mood Indigo"), and pianist Grusin himself. This is a respectful and well-conceived tribute. - Scott Yanow

Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals)
Pete Christlieb, Tom Scott (tenor sax)
Eddie Daniels (clarinet)
George Bohanon (trombone)
Dave Grusin (piano)
Brian Bromberg, John Patitucci (bass)
Harvey Mason (drums)
Brass & Woodwinds on 4, 10
  1. Cotton Tail
  2. Things Ain't What They Used to Be
  3. Satin Doll
  4. Mood Indigo
  5. Just Squeeze Me (But Don't Tease Me)
  6. Caravan
  7. East St. Louis Toodle-oo
  8. C-Jam Blues
  9. Sophisticated Lady
  10. Take the 'A' Train

The Fabulous Ellingtonians - The Essential Keynote Collection 5

VA - The Fabulous Ellingtonians
The Essential Keynote Collection 5
Mercury 830 926-2

This was missing the booklet - damn it! - and so I had to put the discographical information together as best I could; I think it's 99% solid. Fortunately for all of us Knttk - aka The Great One - supplied me with scans of the booklet so here's the whole shebang.

And of course the Duke himself does NOT appear on this disc.

Rex Stewart (cnt); Lawrence Brown (tb); Tab Smith (as, cl-1); Harry Carney (bar, b-cl-2); Johnny Guarnieri (p); Brick Fleagle (g, arr); Sid Weiss (b); Cozy Cole (d).
Keynote New York, June 5, 1944
01. The Little Goose [*]
02. The Little Goose
03. I'm True To You [*]
04. I'm True To You
05. Zaza
06. Swamp Mist [*]
07. Swamp Mist

Emmett Berry (p); Vernon Brown (tb); Johnny Hodges (as); Harry Carney (bar, b-cl); Johnny Guarnieri (p); Brick Fleagle (g, arr); Billy Taylor (b); Cozy Cole (d).
Keynote New York, August 1, 1944
08. Passin' Me By
09. Carney-Val In Rhythm [*]
10. Carney-Val In Rhythm
11. Sam-Pan [*]
12. Sam-Pan [*]
13. Night Wind [*]
14. Night Wind

Joe Thomas (tp); Barney Bigard (cl); Johnny Guarnieri (p); Billy Taylor (b); Cozy Cole (d).
Keynote New York, February 5, 1945
15. Rose Room
16. Bojangles
17. Coquette
18. Borobudor

Dick Cathcart (tp); Juan Tizol (v-tb); Willie Smith (as, voc); Babe Russin (ts); Arnold Ross (p); Irving Ashby (g); Ed Mihelich (b); Nick Fatool (d).
Keynote Los Angeles, April 7, 1946
19. Keb-Lah
20. The Sphinx
21. Zanzibar
22. You Can't Have Your Cake And Eat It - vocWS

[*] Previously Unissued Master / Alternate Take

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Archie Shepp - Body and Soul

This is the HORO HZ 10 LP, never released on CD (as far as I know).

Not listed in allmusic, it can be found at:

Another beautiful record. Again, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Archie Shepp (ts)
Irio De Paula (g)
Charles Greenlee (tb)
Cicci Santucci (tp)
Dave Burrell (p)
David Williams (b)
Alessio Urso (b)
Beaver Harris (d)
Afonso Vieira (d)

1.1 Body and Soul
1.2 Tropical
2 Dogon

Recorded September 28; October 16, 1975 - Roma

Billy Taylor - 1950-1952 (Chronological 1344)

Like so many other artists, I learned about the wonderful music of Billy Taylor through this site. When I had a recent birthday, it was not a question of whether I would ask for Chronos but which ones. Taylor was at the top of my wish list and I was not disappointed as I got this one and the next one as well.

Imagine my surprise when I went to the AMG well expecting to see another insightful and profound review by SY and, instead, I see a review by a Steve Leggett(?)! I guess Scott was off that day being essential and recommended...

The second volume of Billy Taylor's pre-Prestige recordings opens with four sides cut for Brunswick in 1950, followed by eight tracks done for Atlantic, and concluding with an early LP of Cuban-inspired jazz, all of which will be of interest to collectors. Taylor's bop-inflected piano style remains elegant throughout, always with a veneer of swinging brightness, and two of the best pieces here, the self-penned "Double Duty" and "Good Groove," show an acute awareness of both time and space, areas Taylor would go on to explore with subsequent trios. ~ Steve Leggett

Billy Taylor (piano)
Zoot Sims (maraccas!)
Mundell Lowe (guitar)
Chuck Wayne (guitar)
Frank Conlon (conga)
George Duvivier (bass)

1. All Ears
2. My Heart Stood Still
3. Darn That Dream
4. Double Duty
5. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
6. Thou Swell
7. Good Groove
8. Somebody Loves Me
9. Willow Weep for Me
10. If I Had You
11. The Very Thought of You
12. What Is There to Say
13. The Cuban Caper
14. Cu-Blue
15. Squeeze Me
16. Feeling Frisky
17. Cuban Nightingale (Sun Sun Babae)
18. Titoro
19. Makin' Whoopee
20. Moonlight Savings Time
21. Three Little Words
22. Oscar Rides Again

Dizzy Gillespie - 1952 (Chronological 1321)

Many years ago I had a cheap GNP LP of Dizzy which I really, really liked. It is from this period (actually, most of the tracks are on the Chrono preceding this one) and it was also my first exposure to Don Byas. One of the beauties of this label is that you get to hear excellent stuff that just ain't gonna be readily released. Diz could hardly have had a better backup crew (Joe Benjamin was with EVERYBODY; Pops, Rahsaan, Mal, Brubeck - he was even on Hank Garland's Jazz Winds). I like the string stuff too; Diz tears holes all through the little pink clouds they make. There was never anybody like Dizzy Gillespie.

All of the music on this CD was recorded by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie in Paris during a one-month period in 1952. The first half of the set teams Gillespie with tenor saxophonist Don Byas, who had moved to Europe from the U.S. six years earlier. The sextet alternates swing standards with some boppish originals and Afro-Cuban jazz pieces. The performances are pretty concise, and one wishes that Gillespie and Byas had had opportunities to really stretch out and inspire each other. The final dozen selections mostly feature the trumpeter backed by a string orchestra with arrangements from Jo Boyer or Daniel White. The repertoire is comprised of swing tunes, but Dizzy's melodic statements are still pretty adventurous. Three of the numbers drop the strings and have Gillespie playing with the rhythm section. Although one would not call any of this music essential, it does have its moments of interest and Dizzy Gillespie fans will want to pick it up as a gap filler between more significant sessions. ~ Scott Yanow

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Don Byas (tenor sax)
Art Simmons (piano)
Joe Benjamin (bass)
Bill Clark (drums)
Buncha French guys

1. Cocktails For Two
2. Cognac Blues
3. Moon Nocturne
4. Sabla Y Blu
5. Blue And Sentimental
6. Just One More Chance
7. Fragile
8. Hurry Home
9. Afro Paris
10. Say Eh !
11. I Cover The Waterfront
12. The Man I Love
13. Night And Day
14. Sweet And Lovely
15. My Old Flame
16. I Waited For You
17. Ghost Of A Chance
18. They Can't Take That Away From Me
19. Break At The Beginning (Taking A Chance On Love)
20. Sleepy Time Down South
21. Lullaby In Rhythm
22. One More Blues (Just Blues) (Blue Marine)
23. Ain't Misbehavin'

David Murray & Cassandra Wilson at the Vienne Jazz Fest 2007

David Murray & Cassandra Wilson

at the Vienne Jazz Festival 2007

Another great programme broadcast by the Euro-satellite channel MEZZO. This channel offers usually 2 or 3, sometimes more re-broadcasts of its programmes, but at difficult-to-view times after midnight. Check the schedule and set your VCR (do they still exist?)

Here is the blurb from French TV listings:

Date de diffusion : dimanche 06 septembre
Horaire : 04:00 - Durée : 1h00
Interprete : Ray Drummond, David Murray, Cassandra Wilson
Résumé : Le 6 juillet 2007, dans le cadre du 27e festival Jazz à Vienne, le saxophoniste David Murray, accompagné des musiciens de son Black Saint Quartet, se produisait pour un concert d'exception avec la chanteuse Cassandra Wilson, surnommée «la sirène du Mississippi». Ils interprétaient l'intégralité de leur album «Sacred Ground», sorti au moment du festival.

Milt Jackson - Burnin' in the Woodhouse

Milt Jackson - Burnin' in the Woodhouse

Here's another great CD that is going out of print - score a copy if you can. I saw Milt at Antibes in the mid or late 90s sometime, and after his appearance on stage where his energy was as great as ever, we happened to see him behind the stage with a few friends after the set - he looked very old, small, fragile, as if a strong puff from the Mediterranean would blow him down. On-stage a giant, powerful. We saw the same with Tito Puente at a Midem concert just before he too merged with eternity. An amazing thing, how these jazz greats summon up the energy to be at their top form for the crowd, as if they were in their youth. Best not look too closely, just appreciate the greatness while you can...

Review with personnel, tracks, in comments

Monday, September 7, 2009

Roy Eldridge And The Swing Trumpets - The Essential Keynote Collection 4

This was missing the booklet - damn it! - and so I had to put the discographical information together as best I could; I think it's 99% solid. The only reviews available were a one sentence blurb saying the Coleman Hawkins sides were especially nice; problem is, Hawkins isn't on this comp. For that matter, Eldridge is not either, but there's no deception involved. This is a collection of very fine Swing trumpeters, and because Eldridge was the pre-eminent player in the field (all you Corky Corcoran fanatics will just have to face reality) the collection features his name. But there are some fine players throughout. Eventually I will come across a copy that has the booklet (they are on Amazon for a scant $150) and all shall be revealed. And all manner of things shall be revealed.

CD 1

"Little Jazz" And His Trumpet Ensemble
Roy Eldridge (trumpet)
Joe Thomas (trumpet)
Emmett Berry (piano)
Johnny Guarnieri (piano)
Israel Crosby (bass)
Cozy Cole (drums)
NYC, January 24, 1944

1. Don't Be That Way
2. I Want To Be Happy
3. Fiesta In Brass
4. Fiesta In Brass
5. St. Louis Blues
6. St. Louis Blues

Charlie Shavers Quintet Featuring Earl Hines
Charlie Shavers (trumpet)
Tab Smith (alto sax)
Earl Hines (piano)
Al Lucas (bass)
Jo Jones (drums)
NYC, April 22, 1944

7. Mountain Air
8. Curry In A Hurry
9. Curry In A Hurry
10. Curry In A Hurry
11. Stardust
12. Stardust
13. Rosetta
14. Rosetta
15. Rosetta

Corky Corcoran And His Orchestra
Emmett Berry (trumpet)
Willie Smith (alto sax)
Corky Corcoran (tenor sax)
Dodo Marmarosa (piano)
Allan Reuss (guitar)
Ed Mihelich (bass)
Nick Fatool (drums)
Los Angeles, CA, May 15, 1945

16. What Is This Thing Called Love?
17. Minor Blues
18. You Know It
19. You Know It
20. Lullaby Of The Leaves

CD 2

Jonah Jones And His Orchestra
Jonah Jones (trumpet)
Tyree Glenn (trombone, vibes)
Hilton Jefferson (alto sax)
Buster Harding (piano)
Milt Hinton (bass)
J.C. Heard (drums)
NYC, September 20, 1944

1. Lust For Licks
2. Just Like A Butterfly (That's Caught In The Rain)
3. B.H. Boogie
4. Twelfth Street Rag
5. Twelfth Street Rag
6. Poor John
7. Trumpet Interlude
8. Little Sir Echo
9. Exactly Like You

J. C. Heard Quintet feat. Buck Clayton
Buck Clayton (trumpet)
Flip Phillips (tenor sax)
Johnny Guarnieri (piano)
Milt Hinton (bass)
J.C. Heard (drums)
NYC, August 17, 1945

10. Why Do I Love You?
11. Why Do I Love You?
12. All My Life
13. Groovin' With J.C.
14. What's The Use?

Ted Nash Quintet feat. Joe Thomas
Joe Thomas (trumpet)
Ted Nash (tenor sax)
Geoff Clarkson (piano)
Trigger Alpert (bass)
J.C. Heard (drums)
Marie Bryant (vocal)
NYC, January 25, 1946

15. Girl In My Dreams Tries To Look Like You
16. Pocketful of Dreams
17. On The Sunny Side Of The Street
18. Wick's Kicks

Joe Thomas and his Orchestra
Joe Thomas (trumpet)
Tyree Glenn (trombone)
Hilton Jefferson (alto sax)
Jerry Jerome (tenor sax)
Bernie Leighton (piano)
Hy White (guitar)
Billy Taylor (bass)
Lee Abrams (drums)
NYC, August 16, 1946

19. You Can Depend On Me
20. She Didn't Say Yes
21. Black Butterfly
22. Pocatello

Kirk Lightsey & Chet Baker - Everything Happens to Me

Below a rather tepid review from Steven Loewy, I personally think somewhat better of this date. You gotta' really be listening if you expect to dig Kirk, for one thing. If you can score a copy of this CD you should do so, as it seems to be getting hard to find. I had two copies and both have sold to Amazonites who probably saw it was being discontinued and decided to take advantage of my reasonable price.

Review by Steven Loewy:
For some, the most important part about this recording will be the two tracks ("Ray's Ideas" and "Everything Happens to Me") on which Chet Baker blows trumpet and sings. While Baker is not in top form, he is a fine complement to the group sound. Lightsey's trio (with bassist David Eubanks and drummer Eddie Gladden) picks an interesting collection of pieces for the remainder of the program, with his well-known Wayne Shorter emphasis. A largely uneventful, if nonetheless relaxingly swinging set, Lightsey deftly walks through the chords with consummate skill. An underrated performer, the pianist is a skillful interpreter of American song, a performer who understands the meanings of tunes and infuses them with his own interpretations. Not terribly innovative, Lightsey is one of those few serious mainstream jazz piano soloists who pushes the edges ever so slightly but feels comfortable smack dab in the middle of traditional interplay.

VIDEO: Jim Hall - Marciac 2009

Jim Hall at the Marciac Jazz Festival
August 9, 2009

with Scott Colley - bass
Lewis Nash - drums
Kenny Barron - piano
Dave Holland - bass

When I saw this listed for broadcast at the European satellite channel Mezzo, it reminded me I hadn't heard anything about Jim Hall in a while. In this day and age you tend not to want to know, so many greats seemed to have passed away and you didn't even catch the news. BUT, Jim Hall is obviously alive and well and as great as ever, if a little more bent - I'm beginning myself to understand this is how the spine reacts to staying here well beyond the norm! Be well all jazz survivors!

Booker Ervin - The Book Cooks

A great group of players, every one a champ; Flanagan must really love the tune 'Poor Butterfly', that same year he recorded it with Coleman Hawkins, Lionel Hampton, and here.

"The debut album finds him in strong and confident voice, but with a certain guardedness in his soloing. Zoot Sims was there for moral support and there could hardly be a greater contrast in tenor styles, the one bluff and reticent, the other cool and open-hearted." ~ Penguin Guide

Booker Ervin's debut as a leader teamed the intense tenor saxophonist with fellow tenor Zoot Sims (one will have little difficulty telling the cool-toned Zoot apart from Booker), trumpeter Tommy Turrentine, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist George Tucker and drummer Dannie Richmond. Ervin (who has his ballad "Largo" as a feature) performs five originals and "Poor Butterfly"; best are the slow blues "The Blue Book" and the rapid blues "The Book Cooks." ~ Scott Yanow

Booker Ervin (tenor sax)
Zoot Sims (tenor sax)
Tommy Turrentine (trumpet)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
George Tucker (bass)
Dannie Richmond (drums)

1. The Blue Book
2. Git It
3. Little Jane -
4. The Book Cooks
5. Largo
6. Poor Butterfly

New York: April 6, 1960

VIDEO: David Murray - I Am a Jazzman

David Murray - I am a Jazzman
a film by
Jacques Denis & Jacques Goldstein - 2008
Broadcast on ARTE France - August 31, 2009

A very enjoyable documentary with plenty of clips from concerts, studio sessions and more. I must say I appreciate David Murray's music a lot more now that I've met the man through this film. ARTE is a Europe-wide TV channel, both on terrestrial and satellite, so keep an eye on their schedule for re-broadcasts and other interesting programmes.

Qu'est-ce que le jazz? Une musique en position de recherche esthétique ou un style fixé selon des codes historiques? Telle est la question, fondatrice et fondamentale, que se pose David Murray, un musicien qui a grandi en écoutant du gospel et du blues, élevé aux sons des avant-gardes et de la soul militante. En 1995, il traverse l'Atlantique et s'installe à Paris. C'est pour lui le début d'une renaissance, au contact d'autres musiques. A travers le monde, il multiplie les pistes à la recherche des racines de son identité noire-américaine, afin de reconstituer le puzzle du jazz des origines. Après dix ans de quête, il fait désormais le voyage en sens inverse, traversant de nouveau l'Atlantique pour retourner à New York, l'eldorado du jazz.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

BN LP 5019 | The Swinging Swedes/The Cool Britons - New Sounds From The Old World

This is a peach of a release - stellar jazzers from the 50's. Britain; Jimmy Deuchar, Johnny Dankworth, Don Rendell - Sweden; Rolf Ericson, Ake Persson, Putte Wickman, Arne Domnerus, Lars Gullin and on and on.

Both sessions were organised by music magazines - then licensed by Blue Note for the US.

Jimmy Deuchar (tp) Eddie Harvey (tb) Johnny Dankworth (as) Don Rendell (ts) Bill LeSage (p) Eric Dawson (b) Tony Kinsey (d)
London, England, July 29, 1950

The British session was assembled by Melody Maker for Leonard Feather. The Swedish session was assembled by Estrad, a Swedish Jazz Magazine (faded away in the 60's) - the group taking the moniker of the poll winners.
Leonard Feather and his Jazz Club USA later organised the Brits again in 1954 for BN 5052 and continued to champion and document the Swedes, with several releases on Prestige.

Rolf Ericson (tp) Ake Persson (tb) Putte Wickman (cl) Arne Domnerus (as) Carl-Henrik Norin (ts) Lars Gullin (bars) Ulf Linde (vib) Bengt Hallberg (p) Sten Harlberg (g) Simon Brehm (b) Jack Noren (d)
Stockholm, Sweden, September 5, 1951

The recording is a little scratchy - this one and 5052 are quite difficult to pick up in decent condition. I have bought 3 different copies over the years from ebay, often described as VG+ (fat chance) - still a slice of Jazz history, hope you enjoy.

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

Tony Bennett - For Once In My Life/I've Gotta Be Me

Two long-lost Tony Bennett albums have finally been issued in digital form, as a two-fer on one CD!

Mature magic from Tony Bennett's late 60s years on Columbia -- a time when he was recording way past any simple chart expectations, and really hitting some great new strides in his music! For Once In My Life may have a Motown hit for its title, but the album's got a depth that marks Bennett as one of the most complex singers of his generation -- way past the broad belter of ballads from the 50s, and an all-adult male vocalist whose sound was essential to the sophistication of the mainstream in the late 60s.

Many tunes are standards, given lush arrangements by Torrie Zito and Marion Evans -- sung by Tony with that deep voice that nobody else could ever hope to match! Titles include "Out Of This World", "For Once In My Life", "How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen", "Keep Smiling At Trouble", "Baby Dream Your Dream", "Days Of Love", and "Something In Your Smile". I've Gotta Be Me is titled after a hit by Sammy D -- but the record is Tony B all the way through!

Arrangements are by Torrie Zito -- in that lush, but lean sound that he used so well with Bennett in the 60s -- a style that's far more sophisticated than simple pop backings, and which really helps Tony find just the right spot to relax into his sound. Titles include "Play It Again Sam", "Over The Sun", "Valley Of The Dolls", "A Lonely Place", "That Night", "They All Laughed", and "What The World Needs Now Is Love". Dusty Groove America

Tony Bennett (vocals)
Torrie Zito (arr #1,4,5,9)
Marion Evans (arr #2,3,6,7)
David Rose (arr #8)
Ralph Burns (arr #10)

1. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
2. Something In Your Smile
3. Days Of Love
4. Broadway Medley
5. For Once In My Life
6. Sometimes I’m Happy
7. Out Of This World
8. Baby, Dream Your Dream
9. How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?
10. Keep Smiling At Trouble

Recorded at CBS 30th Street studio, NYC on December 14, 1965 (8), January 18, 1967 (7), April 20, 1967 (2,3,10), July 18, 1967 (4,5,9), September 1, 1967 (6), and October 16, 1967 (1)

Tony Bennett (vocals)
Torrie Zito (arrangements)
11. I’ve Gotta Be Me
12. Over The Sun
13. Play It Again, Sam
14. Alfie
15. What The World Needs Now
16. Baby, Don’t You Quit Now
17. That Night
18. They All Laughed
19. A Lonely Place
20. Whoever You Are, I Love You
21. Theme From “Valley Of The Dolls”

Recorded at Columbia’s 30th Street studio, New York City as follows: Tracks 16 & 18 on November 25, 1968; 12 & 21 January 17, 1969; 14, 17 & 20 February 25, 1969; 11, 13, 15 & 19 March 27, 1969.

The Original James P. Johnson 1942-1945: piano solos

"It was me, or maybe Fats, who sat down to warm up the piano. After that, James took over. Then you got real invention-magic, sheer magic." - Duke Ellington

When James P. Johnson made these solo recordings for Moe Asch's Folkways label, Asch gave him the freedom to record what he wished. The pianist took the opportunity to document some pre-jazz piano music, a few favorite tunes, some improvised blues, and piano reductions of his own unperformed concert works. It's a remarkable release, including among the early piano music Jesse Pickett's "The Dream," Scott Joplin's "Euphonic Sounds," and two blues by W.C. Handy. While Johnson's ambitions to mount an indigenous concert music, one melding jazz and ragtime rhythms with classical forms, were frustrated, you'd never know it from these vibrant performances of "Yamekraw--A Negro Rhapsody," "Jazzamine Concerto," and a fragment from "Jungle Drums." The 1996 CD issue includes eight previously unissued tracks. -- Stuart Broomer

Also includes a 28-page booklet with extensive liner notes by David Cayer.

James P. Johnson (solo piano)
  1. Liza
  2. Aunt Hagar's Blues
  3. Sweet Lorraine
  4. Jersey Sweet
  5. Yamekraw - A Negro Rhapsody
  6. Daintiness Rag
  7. The Dream
  8. The Dream (alt. take)
  9. Blue Moods
  10. Keep Movin'
  11. Woman Blues
  12. Jazzamine Concerto
  13. St. Louis Blues
  14. Jungle Drums
  15. Blue Moods, Sex
  16. Euphonic Sounds
  17. Twilight Rag
  18. Snowy Morning Blues
  19. Snowy Morning Blues (alt. take)
  20. Blues for Jimmy

Billy Hart - Enchance

There has been, lately, discussion of that perennial subject; "jazz is dying". There are those who were bemoaning this fact since the banjo stopped being used on jazz records, no doubt. But I was just talking recently to a young Orthodox Jewish woman who is studying jazz drums with Billy Hart. Sounds like jazz is doing OK to me. Overdue props, also, to Herb Alpert, who has been a real friend to jazz for many years now.

This album, which in the imaginary world of jazz critics has been spirited off to many a desert island, represents one of the genre's supreme paradoxes. It is a music in which the way is led by certain individual figures, most of them bandleaders. Drummer Billy Hart rarely records on his own, but has been in many great bands. Somehow, in this rare outing as a bandleader for the extravagent A&M Horizon series, he manages not only to make his best album, but the best album of partipants such as Oliver Lake, Don Pullen, Dewey Redman and Hannibal Marvin Peterson, all known as bandleaders in their own right. Bassist Dave Holland also is present as a player and composer, and while this album doesn't better Holland's Conference of the Birds, it is certainly on par with that masterpiece. These comments are offered not as a sniveling jazz critic counting great moments on an abstract abacus, but as a lifelong fan and listener to the music who recognizes there are really very few of these sorts of special records.

There are a variety of factors enhancing Enchance. Obviously, the players present are all individual stylists who bring personality, strength and spirituality to all their performances. Lake has a composition at the beginning and the end of the record, while the others including Hart come up with one tune each. This gives the program a tremendous variety, along with the use of material coming from several different sessions with overlapping but not identical instrumental line-ups. At the same time it is a remarkably consistent album that never gives the sense of jumping around from session to session or from the psyche of one creative mind to another in terms of the compositions. Hart's taste looms large over the entire project, since it has been his taste in projects as a percussionist that led him to contact with the players that are featured to begin with. He drums brilliantly throughout, including plenty of solo spots.

"Diff Customs", the opening track, is one of Lake's best jazz heads and the type of performance that, in the pre-cellular days, made car listeners pull off the road to either seek psychiatric care or call the radio station to find out where the album could be bought. The great studio production, obviously sparing no expense, is a real treat for fans of this type of music since every instrument can be heard so clearly, and so dynamically. Sometimes it is amazing how much material, including solos, ensemble transitions and thematic statements, can be packed into less than three minutes, the length of Redman's "Corner Culture". The rest of the pieces range between four and nine minutes, and there really is not a dull moment. The album actually seems be something like the essence of so many enjoyable directions in improvised music during this period and is full of the excitement such activity is known for when the action on the bandstand is at its best. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

Billy Hart (drums)
Oliver Lake (soprano and alto sax, flute)
Don Pullen (piano)
Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson (trumpet)
Eddie Henderson (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Michael Carvin (percussion)
Buster Williams (bass)
Dave Holland (bass)

1. Diff Customs
2. Shadow Dance
3. Layla-Joy
4. Corner Culture
5. Rahsaan Is Beautiful
6. Pharoah
7. Hymn For The Old Year

Mal Waldron - One Entrance, Many Exits

This set looks slated not to work--just too many odd players unnaturally linked together. The leader, a man of almost maniacal single-mindedness, which, undoubtedly enabled him to produce one of the largest, most distinctive, and highly regarded discographies of any twentieth-century jazz pianist, seems entirely too percussive oriented and declamatory for his band mates (Joe Henderson, tenor sax; David Friesen (!), double-bass; and Billy Higgins, drums). But somehow, each rises to the occasion and the result is an entirely satisfying jazz disc, if not one of the stranger ones ever recorded.

Friesen, especially, seems an extremely odd choice for the bass chair. With one foot in new agey-pop oriented styles (see his discs for Shamrock) and another foot in idiosyncratic Pacific Northwest out-ish projects, he just wouldn't seem someone who could connect with Waldron's brash and blooze-drenched pianisms. But connect he does, with perhaps the most remarkable number being the title cut, a duo featuring the two where each completely locks into the other's remarkable playing. There's a weight to Friesen's tone that reminds one of Miroslav Vitous channeling Glen Moore, if such a thing can be imagined (check out his outro harmonics on the title cut for a crack at his astounding technique).

Joe Henderson seems somewhat in a transitional phase, moving from his brighter, more extroverted, Coltrane-based style fully on display during the sixties and seventies, into his breathier, more relaxed, lilting, swooping later style, filled with casually pulled-off intervallic leaps, that characterizes his nineties playing. Actually, it's a pleasure to hear him on this disc, as there isn't that much music from him during this period. I confess I prefer his later style, but there is certainly nothing to downgrade his playing here. Indeed, his solos bristles with creativity, and he achieves a very attractive faux-oriental cast to his playing on, for example, "Herbal Syndrome."

Waldron is in fine fettle as well. His well-known thickish chordal approach receives plenty of play here. Almost alchemically, he manages to achieve what might be deemed "dancing denseness," the lilt shining through the hammered keyboard almost as the sun shines through a thunderstorm in the desert Southwest. Yes, he tends to beat his piano into submission, but what emerges is entirely wonderful.

The real revelation is Billy Higgins. One would've thought his extremely nuanced approach would be swallowed whole by the massive extroversion on display here. Not so. Without changing his basic subtly swinging style, he somehow manages to imbue it with a presence entirely apposite to the startlingly strong musical personalities offered up on this disc. How does he do it? I don't know. It;s kind of a mystery. A master of the deepest possible swing, his "old soul" approach to his primitive instrument ends up emitting the most apposite-sounding grounding imaginable. If you don't believe me, you must hear his astounding trading-fours-with-Waldron that caps off "Blues in 4 by 3."

This being probably one of Waldron's lesser-known outings, it behooves the committed listener to check it out for an example of not only his wide diversity, but his ability to marshal, integrate, and meld such different players into one magnificent jazz whole. Eminently worthy of being checked out. ~ Jan P. Dennis

It is a pity that this album is long out-of-print for the combination of musicians works quite well. Pianist Mal Waldron has an inside/outside post bop style that matches perfectly with tenor-saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist David Friesen and drummer Billy Higgins. On five Waldron originals plus the standard "How Deep Is The Ocean," Henderson and the pianist are heard soloing in top form. Highlgihts include "Chazz Jazz" (dedicated to Charles Mingus), "Golden Golson" (which is purposely in the style of Benny Golson) and an ad-lib blues for the trio "Blues In 4 By 3." ~ Scott Yanow

Mal Waldron (piano)
Joe Henderson (sax)
David Friesen (bass)
Billy Higgins (drums)

1. Golden Golson
2. One Entrance, Many Exits
3. Chazz Jazz
4. Herbal Syndrome
5. How Deep Is The Ocean
6. Blues In 4 By 3

Recorded at Music Annex, Menlo Park, California: January 4, 1982

Jerome Sabbagh - Pogo & One Two Three

Jerome Sabbagh - One Two Three

French tenor man Jerome Sabbagh has been exploring the sax trio format around New York City clubs for more than five years. One Two Three takes a selection of standards—some well-known, others less so—and gives them a good old-fashioned workout in the studio. The results are quality; like good red wine, it only gets better the more you drink it in. And it also shows that classic jazz is as full of life and vitality as ever, provided it's in the right hands.
When discussing a trio of tenor sax-bass-and-drums, it's impossible to ignore Sonny Rollins, whose influence carries from New York's classic Village Vanguard sessions all the Way Out West(OJC, 1957). And fans of Newk's Time (Blue Note, 1957) should enjoy this album, for while Sabbagh is no doubt his own man, his intonation, attack, and note choices here draw heavily off classic Rollins. Thelonious Monk's "Boo Boo's Birthday" is a great example of this, full of the brash, lilting Rollins vocalizations.

But Sabbagh's sound also leaves a certain lingering smoothness, a flavor like chocolate in his tone. It's this that keeps him on his own two feet. He seems to simmer between the notes, building a tense bluesiness from the angularity of the session's other Monk tune, "Work." The gorgeous, mellow solo sax intro to "Body and Soul"—traditionally a showpiece for aspiring saxophonists to prove their mettle in the footsteps of the great Coleman Hawkins—shows a talent that's striving for more than technical virtuosity. This, alongside the unforced lyricism of a tune like Bill Evans' "Turn Out the Stars," shows Sabbagh's ability to move with a classic ease seldom heard in modern jazz. His knowledge of harmony and melody makes it all seem too easy. It's as if he has the lyrics in his horn, and sings them out tune by tune with a mix of passion and wordplay.

Drummer Rodney Green and bassist Ben Street mesh to create a tight background, dropping in and out as necessary. The sax gets most of the play time, but they make the music sound that much better with the right rhythm and atmosphere. An example is heard in the interplay between Green and Sabbagh on "Just In Time," which opens up the tune so wide that Street's return on bass makes the group sound larger than three.

While One Two Three refers to the solo, duo and trio permutations that make these songs, it might also refer to how easy the three musicians make it seem. The space this group makes on this record is intimate and warm. Taking familiar tunes, they transcend the supposed limitations of any group setting. And on repeated listens, the music only grows in stature. ~by Warren Allen All About Jazz

The opening cut on One Two Three is pianist George Shearing's bop classic "Conception". Do not, however, let this fool you. Although tenorist Jerome Sabbagh burns, this is not simply a blowing session nor is it really, as Sabbagh suggests, his take on the standards. While there are tunes such as a somewhat campy (how could it not be?) version of "Tea for Two," a fresh reprise of Coleman Hawkins' classic interpretation of "Body and Soul" and a bopped-up "Just in Time" demonstrate these are not standard standards. This is a creative take on some of the greats of jazz that still remain true to the songs' intent.

Sabbagh has bassist Ben Street and drummer Rodney Green as his rhythm section and they for the most part stay out of his way, leaving room for the leader's creative improvisational ability. Far from growing tiresome, the tenor engages as the session progresses. Most enjoyable are the delightfully quirky translations of Monk's "Work" and "Boo Boo's Birthday". Bill Evans' beautiful "Turn Out the Stars" has the gorgeous melody intact and Sabbagh takes it to stimulating places. A wonderfully swinging version of Bud Powell's "Monopoly" and a sentimental take on Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" close out the CD, the latter containing brilliantly understated drum and bass work. Sabbagh's first two releases presented him with his working quartet in very different clime. The lack of guitar in this setting, which is exquisitely under-produced, combined with the song choices, shows just how lyrical a player Sabbagh can be. ~by Elliott Simon, All About Jazz

1. Conception
2. Work
3. Body and Soul
4. Just in Time
5. Turn Out the Stars
6. Boo Boo's Birthday
7. Tea for Two
8. Monopoly
9. Chelsea Bridge.

Jerome Sabbagh: saxophone
Ben Street: bass
Rodney Green: drums

Jerome Sabbagh - Pogo

On Pogo, French-born saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh remembers the wise lesson that “If it’s not broken; don’t fix it.” Though his recording label has changed, this release consists of the same quartet members and eclectic formula that made his acclaimed release North (2004, Fresh Sound New Talent) such a success.
A thorough technician with control and lyricism, Sabbagh’s saxophone may seem slightly obscured but is seemingly focused more on the development of his compositions and the group’s sound, rather than on his individual chops. The music is realized by the more-than potent rhythm section of bassist Joe Martin and drummer Ted Poor, and the wonderful guitar-isms of Ben Monder. Over the past few years of performing together, they’ve bonded, learned, and are continuing to define their sound.

Drawing inspiration from the piano-less quartets of John Scofield and Sonny Rollins, Sabbagh’s own piano-less group brings his own brand of urban/rural that could be heard in a café in France or a seedy bar in New York. The guitar/sax combo has been a favorite of the saxophonist’s and he takes advantage of his rapport with Monder, as witnessed on the languid tempo of “Rooftops,” as their voices flow together almost effortlessly.

Some of the tunes sound familiar, such as the proficiently swinging “Middle Earth” and the bluesy hard-rocking “Stand Up,” which seems like a reprise of the popular North tune “Sick Leo”.

But there are surprises, like the dream-enhanced “Moon/Sun,” a slowly built tune featuring interesting chord impressions and elaborate drumming by Ted Poor. The middle-eastern tinted “Hamra” is also an ear-opener, with Martin’s pulsating bass, Poor’s nice percussive work, and Sabbagh and Monder bringing up the rear with a snaky melody.

Along with his own concepts, background, and musical training in Paris and the U.S., Sabbagh’s unselfishness is a primary factor as the group is given autonomy to express itself whether on the title “Pogo,” which plays out like a rock concert encore or the warm shades of the ballad “Eye of the Storme. ~by Mark F. Turner, All About Jazz

Jerome Sabbagh has pleasing and mellow tones on tenor and soprano. Most of Pogo is a quiet recording, one in which the solos and ensembles are thoughtful and laid-back rather than exciting. There are spots where the melodic music becomes rather sleepy, and it is not until Ben Monder takes a rockish solo on the fourth cut, the bluesy "Stand Up," that the set comes to life. Even then, by the time "As One" rolls around, the introspective mood has returned in full force. Monder has some intense moments during his solo on the drone piece "Hamra," but Sabbagh never really cuts loose. Some listeners will find this set to be subtle and full of quiet invention; others will be bored. Certainly the musicianship is excellent, but one wishes that a fire had been lit under these players. Even their song titled "Eye of the Storme" could easily be used as a lullaby. ~by Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

1. Middle Earth
2. Rooftops
3. Moon/Sun
4. Stand Up
5. Pogo
6. As One
7. Hamra
8. Eye of the Storme

All Compositions by Jerome Sabbagh
Recorded July 15-16, 2006

Jerome Sabbagh: tenor, soprano sax
Ben Monder: guitar
Joe Martin: bass
Ted Poor: drums

Chico Hamilton - My Favorite LPs

Chico Hamilton

Chic Chic Chico
The Gamut
The Headhunters
The Further Adventures of El Chico
El Exigente

These five LP's were presented here before, but they were quite popular and I thought I'd present them again as a group for any newcomers who might have missed them. Listening to these, I'm afraid I'd have to disagree with Scott's first statement here:

Biography by Scott Yanow

Chico Hamilton, a subtle and creative drummer, will probably always be better known for the series of quintets that he led during 1955-1965 and for his ability as a talent scout than for his fine drumming. Hamilton first played drums while in high school with the many fine young players (including Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet, and Charles Mingus) who were in Los Angeles at the time. He made his recording debut with Slim Gaillard, was house drummer at Billy Berg's, toured with Lionel Hampton, and served in the military (1942-1946). In 1946, Hamilton worked briefly with Jimmy Mundy, Count Basie, and Lester Young (recording with Young). He toured as Lena Horne's drummer (on and off during 1948-1955), and gained recognition for his work with the original Gerry Mulligan piano-less quartet (1952-1953). In 1955, Hamilton put together his first quintet, a chamber jazz group with the reeds of Buddy Collette, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Carson Smith, and cellist Fred Katz.../

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Roland Kirk - I Talk With The Spirits

Recorded in 1964, I Talk with the Spirits is one of Roland Kirk's most revered, yet scarce, concept albums. It was the first and only time that the innovative multi-instrumentalist would focus entirely on flutes. The result is a bizarre, otherworldly album on which beautiful ballads, blues-inflected vocalization, and iconic humor easily coalesce. Propelled by the supple rhythm section of pianist Horace Parlan, bassist Michael Fleming, and drummer Walter Perkins and special appearances by vocalist Crystal Joy Albert and Bob Moses on vibraphone, Kirk delivers a mixed bag of well-worn classics ("We'll Be Together Again," "People," and "My Ship") plus brilliant originals, like the wonderfully nutty "Serenade to a Cuckoo" and the haunting, Japanese-influenced title track. Although gimmicky and dated at places, this is essential Kirk. ~ John Murph

Multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk leaves the stritch, manzello and other exotic instruments at home for this all-flute outing from his pre-"Rahsaan" days. Consisting mostly of originals, with a couple of show tunes and a swinging take on John Lewis' "Django" thrown in, I Talk to the Spirits provides the best sampling of Kirk's unique flute style. He hums along with himself as he plays, inserts pieces of lyrics when the mood hits, finds overtones and multi-part harmonies as he blows madly through the upper register and sails sweetly through the lower. Included here is the original version of "Serenade to a Cuckoo," a song later taken to rock audiences with its inclusion on the first Jethro Tull album. (In fact, for the Tull fan who wants to hear where Ian Anderson borrowed his style, I Talk to the Spirits is the place to go.) The playing on this outing is uniformly excellent, with Kirk ranging from his trademark up-tempo overblowing on "A Quote from Clifford Brown" to bluesy growling on "The Business Ain't Nothing But the Blues" to placid beauty on the ballad "Trees." He guides Kurt Weill's "My Ship" on a five-minute voyage through calm seas and turbulent double-timed storms. Kirk's sense of whimsy and musical fun is evident throughout. ~ Jim Newsom

" ... I Talk is a fascinating exercise, as perverse and quirky as anything he ever put on tape. As a concept album, it's right up there. As a listening experience, it's a little unrelieved and shrill, but let's be clear; listening to Rahsaan play a kettle for 40 minutes was always going to be more interesting than listen to the average jazz player on a Selmer Mark V." ~ Penguin Guide

Roland Kirk (flute)
Horace Parlan (piano)
Bobby Moses (vibraphone)
Michael Fleming (bass)
Walter Perkins (drums)

1. Serenade To A Cuckoo
2. Medley: We'll Be Together Again / People From "Funny Girl"
3. A Quote From Clifford Brown
4. Trees Roland Kirk Quartet
5. Fugue'n And Alludin'
6. The Business Ain't Nothin' But The Blues
7. I Talk With The Spirits
8. Ruined Castles
9. Django
10. My Ship

Pharoah Sanders - Rejoice (1981)

Originally a two-LP set on Theresa, this single CD (which contains all of the music) features Pharoah Sanders in excellent form in 1981. Sanders sounds much more mellow than he had a decade earlier, often improvising in a style similar to late-'50s John Coltrane, particularly on "When Lights Are Low," "Moments Notice" and "Central Park West." The personnel changes on many of the selections and includes such top players as pianists Joe Bonner and John Hicks, bassist Art Davis, drummers Elvin Jones and Billy Higgins, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, trombonist Steve Turre, trumpeter Danny Moore, a harpist and (on "Origin" and "Central Park West") five vocalists. The music always holds on to one's interest, making this one of Sanders's better later recordings. ~ Scott Yanow

1. Rejoice
2. High Life
3. Nigerian Juju Hilife
4. Origin
5. When Lights Are Low
6. Moment's Notice
7. Central Park West
8. Ntjilo Ntjilo/Bird Song
9. Farah

Quarteto Novo (1967) & Radamés Gnattali Sexteto (1975)

This is a CD with two legendary Brazilian records: the only LP Quateto Novo ever recorded and a great record by Radamés Gnattali Sextet. There is a review of Quarteto Novo below and a biography of Radamés Gnattali in comments. If all you want from Brazilain music is the cool Bossa Nova, forget it. If you want to try new adventures in Brazilian music, this is a record to you. By the way, although the music of Quarteto Novo is full of Northeastern Brazilian music influence, only two of the four musicians were born there. Airto is from the south of Brazil and Theo de Barros from Rio de Janeiro, southeastern region.

by Thom Jurek
The sole album by the legendary Quarteto Novo was released by the Odeon label in 1967 and was accorded various coveted Brazilian artistic prizes, including the Troféu Roquette Pinto and the Troféu Imprensa. The band was made up of four now legendary Brazilian musicians: percussionist Airto Moreira; bassist, guitarist, and violinist Theo de Barros; guitarist, violinist, violist, and sometimes banjo player Heraldo do Monte (these three musicians all being members of the previous Trio Novo ); and later arrival Hermeto Pascoal. Coming from the northeastern part of the nation, all of these men were intimately familiar with baião music, the danceable rhythmic style comprised of a syncopated 2/4 time signature that could be played on the double-skinned zabumba drum and harmonic and melodic structures written around a Lydian flat seventh scale; it is derived from the tuning of the pífano flute, which has a raised fourth and flattened seventh. The chord structure is based on a dominant seventh. And while the style is not well-known outside Brazil, it nonetheless influenced a host of popular songwriters in America, England, and Europe, who scored hits with tunes utilizing the style's elements. (A couple of examples are the Burt Bacharach tune "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" and "Save the Last Dance for Me," written by Doc Pomus and Mort Schulman and recorded by the Drifters.) Quarteto Novo — and their patron and songwriting collaborator Geraldo Vandré — had a deep, some would say obsessional, interest in American bebop; combine them and you have something very special indeed. Though in many ways, these eight songs sound somewhat quaint to undisciplined in the 21st century, the opposite is actually quite true. This meld of styles and the deep interest in subtle yet innovative rhythmic interplay, counterpoint, and taut song structures are to this day quite revolutionary. The soulfulness at the heart of this music is a far cry from the breeziness of bossa nova, and there are no lyrics. Instead, on tunes like "Fica Mal com Deus," a 12-string guitar, a nylon-string guitar, and the pífano flute of Pascoal all enter in a head line like a bop composition. Within a chorus, the flute moves to a different melody, guitars accent two different parts of the rhythm, and Airto allows timekeeping and rhythmic invention to flow toward the melody instead of framing its outside. The listener is completely caught up in the joy and drama of the tune — this also goes for the much more intricate and haunting "Canto Geral," which begins much more slowly but quickly weaves a pair of melodic intricacies together and frames them with a samba feel, which is stretched and cast off as three voices wordlessly create a third melody in the middle as a bridge, followed by a minor seventh interlude that is utterly forlorn before the pastoral open country feel returns. Amazing! The set closes with the popping "Vim de Sant'Ana," where piano, double bass, nylon-string guitars, and Airto's percussion magic are woven inseparably with a contrapuntal Wes Montgomery swinging soul-styled melody. Over its five minutes the track changes considerably, moving from one mode to another with seamless transitions until the listener is left breathless by its end. This record is difficult to find at times, and keeps getting reissued on CD in small batches. Look for it. One can hear so many things in this music that deserve a place on the sacred shelf. One can think of producers like Creed Taylor and his original idea for CTI and know he heard this music; one can hear the very foundation of Egberto Gismonti's music inside this record; and it can also be credited with much of the killer '70s jazz and Brazilian fusions that occurred on records by everyone from Joe Farrell and Chick Corea to Gary Burton and Freddie Hubbard. And then there are those brilliant albums by Airto, Dom Um Romão, Flora Purim, and so many others that came directly from the sounds displayed here so generously and ingeniously.

Tracks - Quarteto Novo

1- O ovo (Vandré-Hermeto)

2- Fica mal com Deus (Vandré)

3- Canto geral (Hermeto)

4- Algodão (Gonzaga-Dantas)

5- Canta Maria (Vandré)

6- Síntese (Heraldo)

7- Misturada (Vandré-Airto)

8- Vim de Santana (Theo de Barros)

9- Ponteio (Lobo- Capinan)

10- O cantador (Dori Caymmi-Motta)

Radamés Gnattali Sexteto

11- 1 X 0 (Pixinguinha-Lacerda)

12- Cochichando (Pixinguinha-Ribeiro-Barro)

13- Urubu malandro (Louro-Barro)

14- Sofres porque queres (Pixinguinha-Lacerda)

15- Meu amigo Tom Jobim (Gnattali)

16- Nova ilusão (Bittencourt-Menezes)

17- Por um beijo (Catullo-Medeiros)

18- Divertimento para seis instrumentos (Gnattali)
Personnel - Quarteto Novo
Hermeto Paschoal - Flute
Theo de Barros - Acoustic guitar & bass
Heraldo do Monte - Acoustic guitar and viola
Airto moreira - Percussion
Radamés Gnattali Sexteto
Radamés Gnattali & Laércio de Freitas - Piano
Chiquinho do Acordeon - Accordion
José Menezes - Acoustic & electric guitar
Luciano Perrone - Drums
Pedro Vidal - Bass

David Murray Octet - Home

" Recorded by the same octet [as Ming, soon to be posted] Home is very nearly the better album. The slow opening title-piece is a delicately layered ballad with gorgeous horn voicings. 'Last Of The Hipmen' is one of his best pieces, and the Anthony Davis vamp that leads out of Steve McCall's intelligent and exuberant solo is a reminder of how close to Ellington's bandleading philosophy Murray has come." ~ Penguin Guide

Although David Murray has recorded in many different settings throughout his busy career, his octet has always been perfect for his talents. More disciplined than his big band, yet containing more tone colors than his smaller combos, the octet allowed Murray to be exploratory yet occasionally look backwards. This set, his second with the band, has quite an all-star lineup: Murray on tenor and bass clarinet, altoist Henry Threadgill, trumpeter Olu Dara, cornetist Butch Morris, trombonist George Lewis, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist Wilber Morris and drummer Steve McCall. All of the brilliant players have their opportunities to make strong contributions to Murray's five originals (best known of which is "3-D Family"), and the leader's writing is consistently colorful and unpredictable. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow

David Murray (tenor sax, bass clarinet)
Henry Threadgill (alto sax, bass flute)
Anthony Davis (piano)
George Lewis (trombone)
Lawrence Butch Morris (cornet)
Olu Dara (trumpet)
Wilber Morris (bass)
Steve McCall (percussion)

1. Home
2. Santa Barbara And Crenshaw Follie
3. Choctaw Blues
4. Last Of The Hipmen
5. 3-D Family

The Keynoters - The Keynoters with Nat King Cole (Keynote Collection vol. 9)

Here is vol. 9 (last volume) of the long OOP "Essential Keynote Collection". Mr Hines has already posted most of them.
I haven't found any review on the net for this.

"The Keynoters" was a group name invented by Harry Lim (Keynote's producer) for all star sessions with no appointed leader. He used it twice, for distinctly different sessions, recorded in New York and Los Angeles.
I think the most interesting thing here is the second session. Willie Smith (a former Lunceford star, then with Harry James) shines on alto, but it's the pianist who steals the show. Mr Lord Calvert is none other than Nat King Cole, on one of his too rare jazz holidays away from his trio. Listen to him... Had he been unable to sing, he would be one of the greatest jazz pianists.

Keynote Records and it's 12'' record releases allowed more freedom to the players, they could extend a track to more than the usual 3:20 min. This CD was released in 1987 and has many alts and some unissued takes.

New York, June 8, 1944
The Keynoters: Budd Johnson (tenor saxophone), Charlie Shavers, Jonah Jones (trumpets), Johnny Guarnieri (piano), Milt Hinton (bass), J.C. Heard (drums).
1. You're Driving Me Crazy
2. You're Driving Me Crazy
3. I'm in the Market for You
4. Blue Lou
5. Blue Lou
6. I Found a New Baby

Los Angeles, February 16, 1946.
The Keynoters: Willie Smith (alto saxophone), Nat "King" Cole (piano), Red Callender (bass), Jackie Mills (drums).
7. I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me
8. I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me
9. The Way You Look Tonight
10. The Way You Look Tonight
11. Airiness a la Na
12. Airiness a la Nat
13. My Old Flame

Friday, September 4, 2009

Duke Ellington - A Drum Is A Woman

It’s an anomalous classic. Although listed under Duke Ellington’s name, the suite was actually co-composed in 1956 by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, which was in fact the norm for these two iconic collaborators. Duke’s music has been celebrated, issued, reissued, repackaged, remastered, anthologized, compiled, boxed and broadcast for close to a century. Both commercial and private recordings have been issued, radio broadcasts and movie scores are widely available yet somehow this historic music is out of print. Other than the Columbia LPs there has been only one brief and limited CD release, a French import on the TriStar label.

On May 8, 1957 A Drum Is A Woman was presented as Episode 18, Season 4 of the nationally televised U.S. Steel Hour series. The dance suite featured Carmen Delavallade as Madam Zajj, the personification of jazz. Consider the context: no Malcolm, no King on the scene yet; three years after Brown vs. The Board of Education, seven years before the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The only black a person usually saw on television was when you turned the set off. So here comes supremely confident, hip, urbane, witty Duke Ellington and his Orchestra composing what is essentially a combination ballet, opera, historical panorama that wildly conflates jazz into the trope of a woman who is also a drum, muse and heartbeat, sex and creation.

Eschewing the obvious and the earnest, Duke and Strayhorn crafted a marvelously droll musical pageant. That Ellington chose dance as the vehicle harkens back to his Cotton Club days, back to his ability to compose jazz that was both serious and danceable. Although never thought of as a “militant” during the Civil Rights and Black Power eras, Duke had a deep love for and philosophical appreciation of black culture. Although black music’s importance may seem obvious today, in the middle of the 20th century, black cultural productions were seldom recognized as art forms and at best were generally considered entertainment.

Duke was different from the conventions of his and our time. Duke had deep insights into the origins and artistic importance of his culture, thus his understanding of the conjoined nature of dance and jazz. No one else before or since has even attempted so successful an artistic piece that combines dance, music, lyrics and narration to present a popular history of jazz. ~ Kalamu ya Salaam

Duke Ellington (piano)
Clark Terry (trumpet)
Cat Anderson (trumpet)
Ray Nance (trumpet, violin, vocal)
Russell Procope (alto sax, clarinet)
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax)
Harry Carney (baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet)

1. A Drum Is A Woman
2. Rhythm Pum The Dum
3. What Else Can You Do With A Drum
4. New Orleans
5. Hey, Buddy Bolden
6. Carribee Joe
7. Congo Square
8. A Drum Is A Woman
9. You Better Know It
10. Madam Zajj
11. Ballet Of The Flying Saucers
12. Zajj's Dream
13. Rhumbop
14. Carribee Joe
15. Finale

16. Pomegranate

Conte Candoli - Powerhouse Trumpet

Conte Candoli and his brother Pete had a corner on the trumpet session business in Hollywood for over forty years. Pete gave Conte his first break, convincing Woody Herman to bring him into the Thundering Herd band while Conte was still a junior in high school. Although Conte warned Herman that he coldn't read music, Herman assured him that with the band's intense performance schedule, "you'll learn how to read in a few weeks." It was a brief gig and Conte soon returned home, but upon graduation from high school, Conte rejoined the band, sitting right next to Pete. This time was equally short, thanks to a draft notice from the US Army. Finally, in 1946, Candoli joined the Herd for a long-term stint.

For the next ten years, Conte was a die-hard road musician, wailing night after night with Herman, Benny Goodman, Tex Beneke, and finally, Stan Kenton. Candoli also worked with Dizzy Gillespie, and was one of the many links between bebop and West Coast jazz that some critics suggest never existed.

He quit Kenton's band in 1954 to form his own combo, along with Kenton vet Frank Rosolino and Herman alumnus Chubby Jackson, but he found the allure of touring had faded, and he settled into the same double life many fellow West Coast jazz cats led: taking studio session jobs during the day, playing serious jazz in smoky clubs at night. For almost four years, he was one of bassist Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars, appearing regularly at Rumsey's famous Lighthouse club in Hermosa Beach.

Around 1960, Conte switched combos and clubs, joining drummer Shelly Manne at his Hollywood club, the Manne-Hole. Together they recorded a number of albums, including a two of Mancini's music for the private eye show (and movie), "Peter Gunn".

As a session musician, Candoli shared "first call" status with his brother Pete. He can be heard on over 700 albums and singles, backing artists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughn to John Lennon, Chicago, and the Beach Boys. He can be heard on over 100 film soundtracks, and even appears on a couple. He and Pete form a combo with Jack Lemmon on bongos in "Bell, Book, and Candle" (score by George Duning, and he can be seen briefly on David Lynch's film, "Mulholland Drive."

In 1968, he took a job playing with Doc Severinsen's band when "The Tonight Show" began making regular trips to Los Angeles. He joined the band full time when Johnny Carson moved the show permanently to NBC's Burbank studio. For the next 25 years, Candoli led the trumpet section. Although the audience might have thought he took a back seat to Severinsen, among his fellow musicians, who called him "The Count," Conte was recognized as a master. He remained with the show until Carson retired in 1992. He always appreciated both the financial security and artistic quality of work with the "Tonight Show" band, telling an interviewer once, "It made me comfortable, so when I go out and play jazz, I'm in a good frame of mind. It gives me a sense of security, and that feels good. It certainly never dampened my desire to play."

He remained a dedicated jazz musician at all times. He played with almost every LA big band "supergroup" of the last 40 years, from Kenton's Neophonic Orchestra and Terry Gibbs' Dream Band to Supersax and Frankie Capp's Juggernaut. He appeared at numerous jazz labs, encouraging a strong academic jazz band movement at such unhip places as Denton, Texas and Wichita, Kansas. One of his best later recordings, Sweet Simon (1992), features the last performance by another veteran West Coast jazz/session man, Monte Budwig. The album and title tune were dedicated to one of Conte's cats, Simon, who lived to the ripe old age of 24.

Conte Candoli (trumpet)
Bill Holman (tenor sax)
Lou Levy (piano)
Leroy Vinnegar (bass)
Lawrence Marable (drums)

1. Toots Sweet
2. Jazz City Blues
3. My Old Flame
4. Full Count
5. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
6. Four
7. Groovin' Higher

Jerome Harris - Hidden in Plain View – The Legacy of Eric Dolphy

"I want to say more on my horn than I ever could in ordinary speech." Eric Dolphy

Look up Eric Dolphy in any contemporary encyclopedic jazz history and you are likely to find an entry something like this:

"Eric Allen Dolphy was born in Los Angeles on June 20, 1928 and died in Berlin thirty-six years and nine days later on June 29, 1964. A formidable soloist on alto saxophone, flute, and bass clarinet, he began playing clarinet at age six and was playing professionally in dance bands by junior high school. He studied music at Los Angeles City College and, while in the service, at the U.S. Naval School of Music. Upon leaving the military, he returned to L.A. and became a fixture in the West Coast jazz scene, ultimately joining Chico Hamilton's quintet in 1958. 1959 found him in New York, a member of the Charles Mingus band, a freelance player, and the leader of recording dates under his own name. Despite his burgeoning fame, he found little employment in the United States--although he did co-lead a quintet with Booker Little--and left for Europe in the fall of 1961, where he played as a bandleader and as a member of John Coltrane's band. He also played in John Lewis' Orchestra U.S.A. and in Gunther Schuller's Third Stream melding of art-music and jazz sensibilities. Dolphy spent most of the last year of his life working as a freelance musician, primarily for Mingus, Lewis, and Coltrane. He was touring Europe, playing with local musicians, when he died of a heart attack, a complication of his untreated diabetes. "

As short as his life and as dry as a cracker, this résumé is becoming the perceived reality of Eric Dolphy's legacy. For a player with such a unique and highly personal voice, this is criminal. Looking further for some indication of Dolphy's current stature, one confronts statements such as, "Perhaps his greatest contribution to jazz was his exploration of the bass clarinet as a medium for jazz improvisation." That a peer of Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and--despite his tragically short career--a participant in "some of the most significant recordings of the late '50s and early '60s" should have dropped off the map so thoroughly that his most notable accomplishment is seen as the employment of an obscure (for jazz) instrument beggars belief. But this gentle man frightened the critical jazz establishment during his lifetime; John Tynan, reviewing a John Coltrane/Eric Dolphy performance at Hollywood's Renaissance Club wrote, "Coltrane and Dolphy seem intent on deliberately destroying [swing]… They seem bent on pursuing an anarchistic course in their music that can but be termed anti-jazz."

Dolphy's instrumental voice was so intensely personal, so suffused with emotion, and so attuned to the cadences of speech that it resembled nothing so much as a human voice. His soloing style juxtaposed emotions, frequently contrasting ones, over a pattern of shifting phrases in which the fragmented melodic line alternated with ornamental flourishes. This does not imply that he diluted the central idea of his argument, either by the changing emotional tenor or through his use of beautiful decoration, merely that in his vision---as in the prose of Henry James--ideas could be expressed only through the exploration of all of their implications. Yet, with a vocabulary that encompassed all of human experience, what predominates in Dolphy's music is the sense of sheer joy that it conveys: joy in life; joy in music, which his technical facility embellished; and, unmistakably, joy in communicating.

It is distressing to find such a voice silenced by indifference to its creator. Jerome Harris, in describing the genesis of this project, noted, "Recently, I've heard comments by younger players, who are saying that Dolphy couldn't play! Or more, that they didn't feel that he was headed in a valid direction. I've also observed a stance, among the young traditionalists, where they excise from the canon musicians considered avant-garde. I maintain that the avant-garde was a part of the tradition. A player's sources may not be obvious, or orthodox, but that doesn't mean that these players don't have deep roots in the music's past practices. That these players are considered not worthy of notice is a trend that deeply disturbs me.

"There are people whose styles contain elements that are easy to emulate. Coltrane is a good example; some things about his playing style lend themselves to practice and so we now have several generations of tenor saxophonists who are directly influenced by 'Trane. Others are more in the realm of inspiration, rather than emulation. Dolphy was definitely one of those."

Harris set out to reflect Dolphy's voice in a number of ways, starting with his choice of band. Dolphy recorded consistently, in his final year of life, with a lineup that added trumpet, vibraphone, bass, and drums to his woodwinds; change the comping instrument to piano and add a second saxophone, and you have the instrumentation of the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop, the closest Dolphy came to a stable working environment during that period. This blend of instrumental families offered tonal possibilities that obviously appealed to, and inspired, him.

The band's ability to play off the head is a necessity, for another aspect of Dolphy's voice was the space that he wrote into his tunes. It could be argued that his pieces were intended, in fact, to be frameworks upon which solos were affixed. Dolphy recorded most of them several times without changing the core, no matter how much time had passed between performances or how different the instrumental composition of the band--the solos alone seemed to live and change. This was not because Dolphy was technically incapable of writing harmonically conventional songs, but rather because he valued spontaneity so profoundly. "It helps me play...” he explained to writer Don DeMichael. "It's like you have no idea what you're going to do next. You have an idea, but there's always that spontaneous thing that happens. "

The members of the group assembled here have all, Harris confirms, "dealt with Eric's legacy. . . . It's not a matter of inside/outside or bebop or free--I think we're trying to transcend the limitations of either/or: It can be and and also."
Harris' two original compositions are offered as much in response to Dolphy's legacy to jazz as in tribute to him. The chorale "Emanation" was inspired by Dolphy's speaking voice; the record Last Date ends with a fragment from an interview conducted by Dutch journalist Michiel de Ruyter, grafted to the end of a performance of "Miss Ann":

"When you hear music, after it's over--it's gone, into the air. You can never capture it again."

"Fortunately, with recordings that is no longer true," Harris explains. "I was thinking about the brevity of Dolphy's life and about spirits--about the reverberations of people's work. I was also inspired by the chordal structure of the slow movement of Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet, which has very interesting harmonies, harmonies that have implications for a couple of different tonalities simultaneously." Richard Davis reports that Dolphy was composing a string quartet at the time of his death.

"Hidden In Plain View" grew out of Harris' admiration for the ensemble playing on the album Out to Lunch. "I always loved that record because everyone plays so melodically, while using a full range of expression dynamically and melodically. Some people unfairly categorize Sixties avant-garde music as being all screaming and bashing--whereas Out to Lunch is so fully realized. I wanted some composed material of strong melodic and rhythmic character to jump off from. I was really surprised that we wound up with a fairly steady pulse, but that's the thing about improvising: If you're lucky, sometimes you get surprised."
—Wes Phillips

1 Iron Man (Eric Dolphy) (6:01)
2 G. W. (Eric Dolphy) (6:52)
3 Out to Lunch (Eric Dolphy) (7:00)
4 Emanation (Jerome Harris) (3:48)
5 Mandrake (Eric Dolphy) (6:41)
6 245/Les (Eric Dolphy) (7:32)
7 Far Cry (Eric Dolphy) (5:19)
8 Hidden in Plain View (Jerome Harris) (7:23)
9 Miss Ann (Eric Dolphy) (7:26)

Jerome Harris, acoustic bass guitar
Bobby Previte, drums
Bill Ware, vibraphone
Don Byron, clarinet
E. J. Allen, trumpet
Marty Ehrlich, alto saxophone, bass clarinet (on Iron Man, Mandrake, and Far Cry)
Ray Anderson, trombone

All arrangements and transcriptions by Jerome Harris

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Paul Smith - Cool And Sparkling (1956)

This is the best Paul Smith album for me, I know there has been some reup requests in the past so here it is. Cool, cool, cool arrangements with flair and bounce.

While its title and cover certainly suggest a record firmly in the bachelor-pad lounge music camp, Cool and Sparkling: The Liquid Sounds of Paul Smith nevertheless boasts a melodic ingenuity and technical emphasis that reward deeper listening--what keyboardist Smith dubs "liquid sound" is in fact a space-age pop precursor to soul jazz, with an energy and groove all its own. Aided by clarinetist Abe Most, guitarist Tony Rizzi and bassist Sam Cheifitz, Smith is too good a player and too clever a composer to settle for mere background music--structure is as important here as sound, and while Cool and Sparkling blends effortlessly with its surroundings, it never sacrifices substance for style. -Jason Ankeny

Gil Evans - Svengali

This is one of Gil Evans's finest recordings of the 1970s. He expertly blended together acoustic and electronic instruments, particularly on an exciting rendition of "Blues in Orbit" (which includes among its soloists a young altoist named David Sanborn). All six selections have their memorable moments (even a one-and-a-half minute version of "Eleven"); colorful solos are contributed by guitarist Ted Dunbar, Howard Johnson on tuba and flügelhorn, the passionate tenor of Billy Harper, and bassist Herb Bushler, among others; and Evans's arrangements are quite inventive and innovative. Rarely would he be so successful in balancing written and improvised sections in his later years. ~ Scott Yanow

Rescued from obscurity and the collectors' shops, the once-rare 1973 Svengali (Gil Evans' name scrambled) is back in print. Gil Evans emerged toward the end of the big band era as a composer and arranger, and collaborated with Miles Davis for several albums in the early 1960s (Quiet Nights, Sketches Of Spain). Like Miles, Evans did not stand still musically and borrowed from jazz's outer limits as well as the progressive/experimental rock and electronic music of the late '60s/early '70s.

The results sometimes sound like Frank Zappa (circa 1968-71) jamming with the Duke Ellington Orchestra on Mars in the year 2010: swinging, yet daring, electric, searing and probing. The Evans band featured players who would go on to be leaders in their own right: David Sanborn, Billy Harper (who contributes two tunes) and Hannibal Marvin Peterson. This is an important album in the history of both big band jazz and fusion.

Gil Evans (piano, electric piano)
Billy Harper (flute, tenor sax)
Ted Dunbar (guitar)
Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson (trumpet)
Trevor Koehler (flute, soprano and baritone sax)
David Sanborn (alto sax)
Howard Johnson (baritone sax, flugelhorn, tuba)

1. Thoroughbred
2. Blues In Orbit
3. Eleven
4. Cry Of Hunger
5. Summertime
6. Zee Zee

Billy Harper - Soran-Bushi, B.H.

A Denon release, this was recorded in New York for Nippon Columbia.

One of the best-ever Billy Harper records from the 70s -- and one of the rare sessions of his that only ever came out in Japan! Billy is in incredible form throughout -- and plays with a stunning sense of imagination and creativity on the 3 long tracks that make up this LP -- stepping out with brilliant post-Coltrane energy that fires up his tenor, and takes him to the skies on these wonderfully long, creative solos. He's playing here with Harold Mabern on piano, Everett Hollins on trumpet, Billy Hart on drums, and Greg Maker on bass -- and the session's got that warm spiritual sound that characterizes his best work -- but also has a lot of hard-blowing solos with the haunting searching quality that keeps us coming back to Billy's work again and again over the years. Titles include "Loverhood", "Trying to Get Ready", and his classic, the title cut, "Soran-Bushi BH". ~ Dusty Groove

Billy Harper (tenor sax)
Harold Mabern (piano)
Everett Hollins (trumpet)
Greg Maker (bass)
Horacee Arnold (drums)
Billy Hart (drums)

1. Trying To Get Ready
2. Loverhood
3. Soran Bushi, B.H.

New York: December 15 and 17, 1977

Richard Galliano & Gary Burton - 2006 L'Hymne à L'Amour

Fifteen years after his death, tango legend Astor Piazolla's influence continues to be felt. Both accordionist Richard Galliano and vibraphonist Gary Burton have released tributes to the late composer/performer, and so it's no surprise that the two have joined up to mine Piazolla's music and more on If You Love Me (L'Hymne à L'Amour). They explore the paradoxical romanticism and melancholy of tango, but also delve into music as far-reaching as singer Edith Piaf, composer J.S. Bach and pianist Bill Evans. Defined by elegance and grace, it possesses the kind of near-perfection that's defined both musicians' careers.
Bassist George Mraz, a well-traveled but often undervalued player, works alongside drummer Clarence Penn, whose breadth as a player becomes more evident with every new project. Here Mraz and Penn are all about support and subtlety, with Penn playing so lightly at times that it feels like he's breathing on his drums rather than hitting them. If one sign of the compleat musician is the ability to place music ahead of ego, then it would be hard to find a better rhythm section.
With Mraz and Penn providing the kind of support that leaves Burton and Galliano in a position of complete trust, the vibraphonist and accordionist are able to deliver dramatic performances that never become melodrama, and lyrical simplicity that never becomes mundane or predictable. When in accompanist role, each works with Mraz and Penn to explore dynamic nuances in ways that are, at times responsive, at other times driving. It may begin as a brooding and spacious slow-tempo tango but Burton's vivid solo on Piazolla's "Milonga is Coming" builds in intensity—with Galliano and Mraz pushing the beat—before dropping out for Burton's a capella spot that's a remarkable mix of understatement and virtuosity.
It's not all about melancholy, however, though it often finds its way into even the most buoyant of tunes. Piazolla's genius was the evolution of a relatively straightforward dance form into near-classical episodic complexity, with the shifting tempos and moods of the relatively brief "Triunfal" a prime example of writing that could be at once joyful and reflective of despair. Galliano and the quartet navigate Piazolla's complex material with natural and effortless aplomb.
Edith Piaf's title track is a more straightforward ballad, but Galliano's expressive accordion gives it new life, along with Burton's ability to find new melodies within even the most conventional of changes. Galliano and Burton transform Bach's "Sinfonia 11 in G-Moll" into a jazz waltz. Bill Evans' enduring "Waltz for Debby" is taken at a surprisingly fast clip, while Galliano's "Para Jobim" is a decidedly reverential bossa.
The diverse program of If You Love Me succeeds in contextualizing Piazolla's work within a larger jazz continuum. Sweet but never saccharine, it's an album that's easy on the ears but never lacking in substance.

John Kelman

01 Milonga Is Coming -- A. Piazzolla (8:29)
02 Triunfal -- A. Piazzolla (3:50)
03 L 'Hymne à l'Amour [If You Love Me] -- E. Piaff, M. Monnot (7:29)
04 Sinfonia 11 in G-Moll, BWV 797 -- J. S. Bach (4:28)
05 Soledad -- A. Piazzolla (6:58)
06 Para Jobim -- R. Galliano (5:14)
07 Operation Tango -- A. Piazzolla (8:27)
08 Romance del Diablo -- A. Piazzolla (5:49)
09 Waltz for Debby -- J. Lees, B. Evans (5:54)
10 Il Postino -- L. Bacalov (4:47)

Richard Galliano: accordion
Gary Burton: vibes
George Mraz: bass
Clarence Penn: drums

Recorded at Sear Sound Studio, New York, on August 26-27, 2006

Joe Magnarelli - 2007 Persistence

The stark black and white cover photo of trumpeter Joe Magnarelli peering out at you from the cover of Persistence emits a brooding and a blandness that is light years away from the robust, enjoyable musical experience offered by the music on the disc itself. Magnarelli, a first-call trumpeter among first-callers, leads an exciting group of other New York musicians (stars all) in eight selections—originals and standards—that are both intriguing and satisfying. There is such a sense of spontaneity and excitement in this recording that it gives the impression of being recorded live: each tune has that wonderful on-the-edge sense to it.
"Persistence," the first cut (and one of five Magnarelli originals), sends you back in jazz time to a smoke-filled, excitement-laden, 1960s Blue Note session. After a hip intro and a Kenny Washington drum fill with echoes of Max Roach, the quintet steams ahead on the head. Heavenly shades of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers inspire the team as they roll it out for hard bop at its hottest.
It's clear, as he fires away on his tasteful solos, that Magnarelli has regularly visited the jazz trumpet pantheon and tuned his ear to the greats. He is a player of excitement, inspiration, fire and control. The band is impeccable too. Baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan shines throughout the session; his bellowing sound is never too heavy to swing. Washington's cymbal work is fireworks, worthy of Tony Williams. Pianist David Hazeltine fits in beautifully, both when comping and playing some marvellously engineered solos. Bassist Peter Washington is supremely solid—always right there.
"The Village" lays down an easy bossa nova groove under a lazy, carefree melodic line. Hazeltine builds a tasteful solo. No dragging here, only sway. Magnarelli cascades over the horn and constantly surprises the listener, never falling into cliche or hollow pyrotechnics in lieu of inspiration. Reaching into the Great American Songbook, "I Had the Craziest Dream" spotlights Magnarelli's beautiful soft swing approach. There's no hokey here, no schmaltzy vibrato or syrupy swinging. This track is on a par with a classic version by trumpeter Jack Sheldon. Magnarelli is pure taste. He uses rhythm and melody to construct his solos. Hazeltine's solo is a gem (catch the "Stella By Starlight"-copped cliche: cute!) There's a nice Washington solo too.
"D Train Boogaloo," a funky blues head, sidewinders over a go-go beat and a Lee Morgan quote, spectacularly so. You can bet there are aspiring trumpeters out there who right now are transcribing, copping and wood-shedding Magnarelli licks. The Dietz-Schwartz standard "Haunted Heart" is given a bluesy feel. Magnarelli carries the lead with Smulyan haunting us with a second melodic take and a marvelously lyrical solo. The extended lines intrigue. Hazeltine's comps and interplay with the soloists are perfection before he goes tasteful on his own. The non-related Washingtons capitalize here together.
"You and the Night and the Music"—and the race flag! Magnarelli's Dizzy Gillespie-ish Harmon mute work fires at a tempo reminiscent of Clifford Brown's "Cherokee"—he even throws in a Brown lick drawn from that classic's intro. Magnarelli spent many years performing with the great bandleader Ray Barretto. His "Ballad for Barretto" has such a beautifully classic melodic approach—similar to Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford"—that other instrumentalists will probably embrace this tune down the jazz road.
Triple-metered over "Body and Soul" chord changes, "Soul Sister" opens with Magnarelli and Smulyan lightly carrying the melody. The superimposition of new melodic material over standard harmonic changes is as old as jazz. For Magnarelli to use his marvelous compositional chops to take such a standard and turn it into a hip waltz is slick genius.
There are no gimmicks in Persistence. Magnarelli and his colleagues sound comfortably secure in themselves. All have paid dues in the shed, studios and pits, on the road and wherever. It's that persistence that results in performance perfection. Magnarelli presents us with an honest, no frills attempt at that goal. And, yes, he does indeed come close. Very, very close. A terrific, persistently satisfying disc.
By Nicholas F. Mondello

1. Persist (J. Magnarelli)
2. The Village (J. Magnarelli)
3. I Had The Craziest Dream (Warren-Gordon)
4. D Train Boogaloo (J. Magnarelli)
5. Haunted Heart (Dietz-Schwartz
6. You And The Night And The Music (Dietz-Schwartz)
7. Ballad For Barretto (J. Magnarelli)
8. Soul Sister (J. Magnarelli)

Joe Magnarelli (Tp)
Gary Smulyan (BarSax)
David Hazeltine (P)
Peter Washington (B)
Kenny Washington (D)

Recorded in New York, on November 1, 2007

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

James Williams & Clark Terry - Talkin' Trash (1993)

Although pianist James Williams is the nominal leader of this CD and there is also room for many concise solos from Billy Pierce (mostly on tenor), vibraphonist Steve Nelson and the remarkable bassist Christian McBride, the star throughout is actually flugelhornist Clark Terry. 72 at the time but showing no sign of decline, Terry contributed three of the numbers, sings in his famous Mumbles voice on two humorous pieces (including a preacher routine on "The Orator") and plays quite well throughout. Highpoints of this straightahead session include the boppish "Serenade to a Bus Seat," the uptempo blues "Chuckles" and Terry's spectacular solo on "Moonglow." - Scott Yanow

Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals)
Billy Pierce (tenor, soprano sax)
James Williams (piano, organ)
Steve Nelson (vibes)
Christian McBride (bass)
Tony Reedus (drums)

  1. Serenade to a Bus Seat
  2. The Orator (C.T.'s Sermon)
  3. Chuckles
  4. Moonglow
  5. Talkin' Trash
  6. Lotus Blossom
  7. Embraceable You
  8. Boomerang
  9. SKJ
Recorded March 4, 1993

Duke Ellington - The Complete 1947-1952 vol. 3

As with volume 2, all details are in the comments.

Ellington, Hines, others: The Jazz Piano (1965)

The "Various Artists" on this album read like the history of jazz piano: Willie "The Lion" Smith, Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, Billy Taylor and Charles Bell. The occasion was a piano workshop on a Sunday afternoon at the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival in 1965, obviously a time when giants still walked the earth.

The original album contains only ten tunes. This CD reissue contains all 19 performances, newly remixed from the original three-track masters, adding new material from Smith, Williams, Taylor and Bell. The concert is now presented in the order in which it was performed.

Each pianist performs solo or with bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley. Earl Hines duets with Ellington on an improvised blues and with Taylor on "Sweet Lorraine." The concert closes with a blow-out version of "Rosetta" with Hines, Smith, Williams, Taylor and George Wein sharing two pianos. A one-of-a-kind event. Mosaic

1. Somehow - Earl Hines 3:10 (Mort Maser)
2. Miss D.D. - Mary Lou Williams 4:22 * (Mary Lou Williams)
3. Take The A Train - Duke Ellington 2:19 * (Billy Strayhorn)
4. Willie "The Lion" Smith speaks 0:20 *
5. Contrary Motion - Willie "The Lion" Smith 2:40 (Willie "The Lion" Smith)
6. Bluesette - Charles Bell 3:05 *(Toots Thielemans)
7. Biddy's Beat - Billy Taylor 5:08 (Billy Taylor)
8. Sweet Lorraine - Earl Hines and Billy Taylor 5:22 (C. Burwell-M. Parish)
9. House Of Lords - Earl Hines and Duke Ellington 5:32 (D. Ellington-E. Hines)
10. Duke Ellington speaks 0:30 *
11. The Second Portrait Of The Lion - Duke Ellington 4:13 (Duke Ellington)
12. Whisper Not - Charles Bell 5:13 (Benny Golson)
13. 45 degree Angle - Mary Lou Williams 3:28 (Denzil Best)
14. Joycie - Mary Lou Williams 3:38 (Mary Lou Williams)
15. Blue Skies - Willie "The Lion" Smith 3:23 * (Irving Berlin)
16. Medley - Willie "The Lion" Smith 4:54 * a. Just One Of Those Things (Cole Porter) b. Tea For Two (V. Youmans-I. Caesar) c. Some Of These Days (Shelton Brooks) d. After You've Gone (H. Creamer-T. Layton)
17. I'll Remember April - Billy Taylor 8:55 * (Raye-DePaul-Johnston)
18. 'Round Midnight - Billy Taylor 5:06 * (Thelonious Monk)
19. Rosetta - Earl Hines, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Billy Taylor, George Wein and Mary Lou Williams 6:32 (E. Hines-H. Woode)

* bonus tracks, not part of original LP

Rhythm section:
Larry Gales, bass; Ben Riley, drums

Recorded live at the Jazz Piano Workshop of the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival on June 20, 1965

Cecil Taylor - Piano Solo At Town Hall 1971

Some Taylor which has never seen CD release before, it is comprised of a 1971 solo performance from New York's Town Hall, a venue he has played several times This performance is a fifty-one minute solo performance of a 4 tune medley. The second two tracks are an ensemble performance from an "The Arts In America" radio broadcast transmitted from the Village Gate in 1965; they are quite brief - neither is even three minutes long, and the second of the two is the only known appearance in Taylor's discography. It should be mentioned that Tom Lord's discography believes them to originate, in fact, from the Half Note in 1966.

The sound is not studio quality, but the performances are of a scarcity and level of playing that will appeal to Taylor fans. For the record - and as a challenge to our knowledgeable Taylorites - the four tunes of the medley are titled by Lord in his discography, but the original OOP LP that these appeared on had the titles (side 1 and side 2) Mirage/Tangent, and Afro-Rosette. How 'bout some thoughts after y'all have listened a few times?

Cecil Taylor (piano)
Jimmy Lyons (alto sax)
Henry Grimes (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)

1. Medley
a) Arzoolie Dance Rouge
b) Point
c) Shows
d) Hot Point
2. Number One
3. Octagonal Skirt And Fancy Pants

Town Hall, New York: July 24, 1971

Radio Broadcast, Village Gate, New York: September 10, 1965

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Buddy Rich - Swingin' New Big Band

The late '60s were scarcely vintage times for big bands, but Rich, who was used to stopping at nothing drove a limousine outfit through the period with concessions that didn't really bother him much. ... and among the technique-laden sections there were players who could step out and play an individualist's solo: ... , Jay Corre, Bobby Shew, ... The Pacific albums are all taken from live dates, from Hollywood or las Vegas, and since the band thrived in performance they are among Rich's most characteristic statements. There's nothing subtle about the arranging or the musicianship: all is speed, bravado, intensity. Not to say that the band didn't have different strokes at it's disposal: some of the charts on Swingin' New Big Band (by a variety of hands, including Oliver Nelson, Bill Holman, and Phil Wilson) are as elegant as they are assertive." ~ Penguin Guide

1966 was a most illogical time for anyone to try forming a new big band but Buddy Rich beat the odds. This CD reissues the first album by the Buddy Rich Orchestra, augmenting the original Lp program with nine previously unissued performances from the same sessions. The arrangements (eight by Oliver Nelson along with charts by Bill Holman, Phil Wilson, Jay Corre, Don Rader and others) swing, put the emphasis on the ensembles and primarily feature Corre's tenor although trumpeter Bobby Shew, altoist Pete Yellin, pianist John Bunch and guitarist Barry Zweig are also heard from. Most of the songs did not stay in the drummer's repertoire long (other than Bill Reddie's adaptation of "West Side Story" and "Sister Sadie") and in fact only three members of the 17-piece orchestra would still be working for Rich a year later. An enjoyable and somewhat historic set. ~ Scott Yanow

Buddy Rich (drums)
Jay Corre (tenor sax, clarinet, flute)
Gene Quill (alto sax, clarinet)
Bobby Shew (trumpet)
Barry Zweig (guitar)

1. Readymix
2. Basically Blues
3. Critic's Choice
4. My Man's Gone Now
5. Uptight (Everything's Alright)
6. Sister Sadie
7. More Soul
8. West Side Story Medley: Overture / Cool / Something's Coming / Somewhere
9. What'd I Say
10. Hoe Down
11. Step Right Up
12. Apples (aka Gino)
13. Chicago
14. In A Mellow Tone
15. Never Will I Marry
16. Lament For Lester
17. Naptown Blues

Duke Ellington - The Complete 1947-1952 vol. 2

This is the second volume.

As I said, not an easy period for Duke.
Neither for big band jazz...

Tracklist and complete session info in comments.