Monday, September 19, 2016

Paul Desmond - First Place Again

The title of this set by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond refers to his having placed first once again in the alto chair in the Downbeat poll. Released in 1959, First Place Again is the result of an unexpected gathering of the rhythm section of the Modern Jazz Quartet: Percy Heath and Connie Kay, and Jimmy Giuffre 3 guitarist Jim Hall. The four musicians were all unexpectedly at home in New York and took full advantage of cheap, after-hours recording studio time to play out this set of standards and a pair of newer tunes, John Lewis' great blues, "Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West," and "East of the Sun (and West Of The Moon)," from a Princeton University theater work. The rest, including a fine reading of "Greensleeves," which is short and tight here, Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick out of You," J. Fred Coots' "For All We Known," "You Got to My Head" -- another Coots' tune -- and Sammy Cahn's "Time After Time," are done with an airy, amiable vibe, especially the work between Hall and the rhythm section, which is full of counterpoint and sharp accents. Desmond, of course, being at that time the king of melodic improvisation on the alto -- with the possible exception of Art Pepper's ascendancy -- is in fine form. His whimsical, breathy, dry tone is sharp, on the spot, and full of ideas as he quotes from a vast number of tunes. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxed set if ultimately unmemorable. [Though the album was first released under the title First Place Again, it was reissued by the Discovery label in 1986 under the title East of the Sun. The track listing was the same, though the running oder was shuffled.] - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Paul Desmond
Album: First Place Again
Year: 1959 (Warner Bros.)
Label: Warner Japan (24bit remastered, 2014)
Runtime: 45:43

1.  I Get A Kick Out Of You (Cole Porter) 8:36 
2.  For All We Know (Fred Coots) 5:30 
3.  Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West (John Lewis) 7:25 
4.  Greensleeves (Traditional) 2:03 
5.  You Go To My Head (Fred Coots / Haven Gillespie) 6:25 
6.  East of the Sun (Euday L. Bowman) 5:42 
7.  Time After Time (Sammy Cahn / Jule Styne) 6:09 
8.  Susie (Paul Desmond) 3:50 *Bonus track

Paul Desmond (Alto Saxophone) 
Jim Hall (Guitar) 
Percy Heath (Double Bass) 
Connie Kay (Drums)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Prem Joshua - Desert Visions

The album is a wonderful blend of East Indian, Arabic, African and Western music. The instruments and rhythms weave back and forth between the various influences in a spirited and lively manner. One track may have a hint of New Orleans Jazz balanced against the romantic and haunting sounds of the desert. Another track features East Indian vocals and tabla in a spirited dance with saxophone and flute. Overall easy to listen to ranging from sprightly to ambient in texture during the course of the album. - Product info

I stumbled onto this CD one day at a listening post and was at first drawn to it because of the cover. The album is a wonderful blend of East Indian, Arabic, African and Western music. The instruments and rhythms weave back and forth between the various influences in a spirited and lively manner. One track may have a hint of New Orleans Jazz balanced against the romantic and haunting sounds of the desert. Another track features East Indian vocals and tabla in a spirited dance with saxophone and flute. Overall easy to listen to ranging from sprightly to ambient in texture during the course of the album. - by Thomas Kryton,

Prem Joshua is one of the eminent world fusion musicians of the day. Upbeat, percussion-heavy, and influenced by jazz, pop, and Indian ragas, the reeling tracks on Desert Visions provide a stimulating background for vigorous yoga practice and dance. "Pagan Dance" in particular features a compelling jazz/raga melody that stays with the listener long after the dancing is finished. - AMG

Artist: Prem Joshua
Album: Desert Vision
Year: 1996
Label: New Earth Records
Runtime: 52:13

1.  The Raja's Ride (Prem Joshua) 5:30
2.  Daia (Prem Joshua) 7:50
3.  Hot Season (Prem Joshua/Rishi Vlote) 4:12
4.  Sarang (Prem Joshua/Manish Vyas/Rishi Vlote) 8:21
5.  Pagan Dance (Prem Joshua/Rishi Vlote) 1:26
6.  Jungle (Rishi Vlote) 3:01
7.  Kirwani (Prem Joshua) 5:24
8.  Desert Moon (Prem Joshua) 3:41
9.  Flight of the Swan (Prem Joshua) 8:55
10.  From Behind The Hills (Prem Joshua) 3:49

Prem Joshua (Soprano Saxophone, Bamboo Flute, Sitar, Swarmandal, Tambura, Santoor)
Manish Vyas (Tabla, Vocals, Harmonium and Pakhawaj) - 1,4,9
Rishi Vlote (Darbouka, Shaker, Keyboards, Bass, Vocals, Drums, Clay Pot, Frame Drum, Djembe)
Chintan S. Relenberg (Bass Guitar and Tabla) - 2,10
Jo Shiro Shunyam (Acoustic Guitar) - 2,9
Nadama Novak (Keyboards) - 2
Ravi Freeman (Keyboards) - 2
Bindu (Acoustic Guitar) - 2
Neera Halls (Vocals) - 2
Anadi Raval (Vocals) - 4
Adheesh Tivari (Drums, Bass and Keyboards) - 4
Meera Bhatt (Vocals) - 4
Azeema Bharti (Vocals) - 4

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jaco Pastorius - The Birthday Concert

On an irregular basis in the early '80s, the innovative electric bassist Jaco Pastorius led a big band that he called Word of Mouth. This excellent LP documents Pastorius' 30th birthday party, a concert at which he was joined by the Peter Graves Orchestra (consisting of 14 horns, two steel drums, and two percussionists) plus drummer Peter Erskine, Don Alias on conga, and both Michael Brecker and Bob Mintzer on tenors. Brecker co-stars with Pastorius on a strong program that is highlighted by "The Chicken," a burning rendition of "Invitation," and "Liberty City." The music is full of spirit and joy, featuring Pastorius at the peak of his powers just before his tragic decline. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

This is a terrific, fun album. It's the way I wish I could have seen Jaco. A small club with a great band, featuring a terrific horn section and a drummer that is totally in sinc with Jaco's playing. This album was recorded live at Mr. Pips in Ft Lauderdale, which was a familiar place to all of us who grew up in Ft Lauderdale. Peter Yianolos did a superb job of capturing the sound of the band. Cut's on this album like The Chicken and Liberty City reflect Jaco's R&B roots more than the more jazz oriented material he came to be known for with Weather Report, although there is some of that type of material included as well. This album is a terrific way to introduce the young bassist to Jaco as well as a good way to for the seasoned Jaco fan to remember where Jaco came from musically. - by Pedro Valdes,

Artist: Jaco Pastorius
Album: The Birthday Concert
Year: 1981
Label: Warner Bros. (1995)
Runtime: 69:22

1.  Soul Intro / The Chicken (Pee Wee Ellis / Jaco Pastorius) 8:00
2.  Continuum (Jaco Pastorius) 2:34
3.  Invitation (Bronislaw Kaper) 17:43
4.  Three Views Of A Secret (Jaco Pastorius) 5:56
5.  Liberty City (Jaco Pastorius) 8:11
6.  Punk Jazz (Jaco Pastorius) 4:35
7.  Happy Birthday (Mildred Hill / Patty Smith Hill) 1:48
8.  Reza (Jaco Pastorius) 10:36
9.  Domingo (Jaco Pastorius) 5:39
10.  Band Intros 2:37
11.  Amerika (Traditional) 1:43

Jaco Pastorius (Bass)
Michael Brecker (Tenor Saxophone)
Bob Mintzer (Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet)
Don Alias (Congas)
Peter Erskine (Drums)
Randy Emerick (Baritone Saxophone)
Robert Thomas, Jr. (Congas)
Peter Gordon (French Horn)
Oscar Salas (Percussion)
Dan Bonsanti (Saxophone, Woodwind)
Gary Lindsay (Saxophone, Woodwind)
Neal Bonsanti (Saxophone, Woodwind)
Othello Molineaux (Steel Drums)
Paul Hornmüller (Steel Drums)
Mike Katz (Trombone)
Russ Freeland (Trombone)
Peter Graves (Trombone [Bass])
Dave Bargeron (Trombone, Tuba)
Brett Murphy (Trumpet)
Brian O'Flaherty (Trumpet)
Ken Faulk (Trumpet)
Melton Mustafa (Trumpet)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Omara Portuondo - Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo

A beautifully executed and produced album by Omara Portuando, the only woman to appear on the original Buena Vista Social Club recordings. Portuando, who is one of Cuba's most acclaimed musicians and a featured performer at the Tropicana, has shown here that, at 70, she still possesses the qualities that helped develop her stardom on her native island. This recording, which covers a variety of traditional musical styles, from son to guajira to bolero, makes it easy to see why critics have called her the Edith Piaf of Cuba and "The Fiancée of Feeling." The style, especially on the second track, "He Perdido Contigo," evokes a nostalgic, old-fashioned sentiment, and the songwriting is classic. Featured performers include Rubén González on piano, Eliades Ochoa and Compay Segundo on guitar, and a full string section including Angel and Arelis Zaldivar. The performances are lively and tight, creating an album that feels nearly perfect. A full set of liner notes, including English translations of all of the lyrics, makes the album even more accessible. by Stacia Proefock, AMG

Artist: Omara Portuondo
Album: Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo
Year: 2000
Label: World Circuit
Runtime: 40:45

1.  La Sitiera (Rafael Lopez) 3:57
2.  He Perdido Contigo (Luis Cardenas / Maria Teresa Vera) 3:49
3.  Dónde Estabas Tú (Ernesto Duarte) 3:47
4.  Mariposita De Primavera (Miguel Matamoros) 2:54
5.  Canta Lo Sentimental (Y. De La Fuente / Urbano Gomez Montiel) 3:26
6.  Ella Y Yo (Oscar Hernandez) 3:24
7.  No Me Vayas A Enganar (Osvaldo Farrés) 2:53
8.  No Me Llores Más (Arsenio Rodríguez) 4:59
9.  Veinte Anos (Maria Teresa Vera) 4:43
10.  El Hombre Que Yo Amé (The Man I Love) (George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin) 3:11
11.  Siempre En Mi Corazón (Ernesto Lecuona) 3:42

Omara Portuondo (Vocals)
Panteleon Sanchez (Alto Saxophone)
Javier Zalba (Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone)
Danie Valdes (Backing Vocals)
Teresita Garcia Caturla (Backing Vocals)
Xiomara Valdes (Backing Vocals)
Ventura Gutierrez (Baritone Saxophone)
Filiberto Sanchez (Bongos)
Arelis Zaldivar (Cello)
Roy Avila Serrano (Cello)
Lazaro Villa (Claves, Backing Vocals)
Angel Terry Domech (Congas)
Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez (Double Bass)
Roberto Garcia (Guiro)
Ruben Gonzales (Keyboards)
Alberto "Virgilio" Valdes (Maracas)
Antonio Jimenez (Tenor Saxophone)
Carlos Fernandez (Tenor Saxophone)
Rafael Jenks (Tenor Saxophone)
Amadito Valdes (Timbales)
Antonio Leal (Trombone)
Jesus Ramos (Trombone, Backing Vocals)
Alejandro Pichardo (Trumpet)
Daniel Ramos (Trumpet)
Yanko Pichardo (Trumpet)
Yaure Muniz (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Eliades Ochoa (Guitar) - 1,2
Alberto Valdes (Claves) - 4
Manuel Galban (Guitar) - 5
Roger Beaujolais (Vibraphone) - 5
Haskell Armenteros (Clarinet) - 6
Rafael Lazaro Inciarte (Clarinet) - 6
Gilberto Oviedo (Tres) - 8
Ibrahim Ferrer (Vocals) - 8
Benito Suarez (Guitar) - 6
Compay Segundo (Guitar) - 6
Carlos Gonzalez (Bongos) - 11

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sonny Rollins - Falling In Love With Jazz

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

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: Falling In Love With Jazz
Year: 1990
Label: Milestone Records
Runtime: 46:29

1.  For All We Know (Fred Coots / Sam Lewis) 7:38
2.  Tennessee Waltz (Pee Wee King / Redd Stewart) 6:13
3.  Little Girl Blue (Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers) 7:37
4.  Falling In Love With You (Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers) 4:46
5.  I Should Care (Sammy Cahn / Axel Stordahl / Paul Weston) 7:29
6.  Sister (Sonny Rollins) 7:01
7.  Amanda (Sonny Rollins) 5:45

Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Jerome Harris (Bass Guitar, Guitar)
Jack DeJohnette (Drums) - 2,4,6,7
Bob Cranshaw (Bass Guitar) - 2-4,6,7
Mark Soskin (Piano, Synthesizer) - 2-4,6,7
Jeff "Tain" Watts (Drums) - 1,5
Tommy Flanagan (Piano) - 1,5
Branford Marsalis (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,5
Clifton Anderson (Trombone) - 6,7

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pharoah Sanders - Message From Home

The world music-minded producer Bill Laswell gets a hold of Pharoah Sanders here and lo, the sleeping volcano erupts with one of his most fulfilling albums in many a year. Message From Home is rooted in, but not exclusively devoted to, African idioms, as the overpowering hip-hop groove of "Our Roots (Began In Africa)" points out. But the record really develops into something special when Sanders pits his mighty tenor sound against the pan-African beats, like the ecstatically joyful rhythms of "Tomoki" and the poised, percolating fusion of American country & western drums and Nigerian juju guitar riffs on "Country Mile." In addition, "Nozipho" is a concentrated dose of the old Pharoah, heavily spiritual and painfully passionate, with a generous supply of the tenor player's famous screeching rhetoric, and kora virtuoso Foday Musa Suso shows up on "Kumba" with a touch of village Gambian music. This resurrection will quicken the pulse of many an old Pharoah fan. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Pharoah Sanders
Album: Message From Home
Year: 1996
Label: Verve
Runtime: 49:10

1.  Our Roots [Began in Africa] (Pharoah Sanders) 10:21
2.  Nozipho (Pharoah Sanders) 9:42
3.  Tomoki (Pharoah Sanders) 6:25
4.  Ocean Song (Pharoah Sanders) 8:49
5.  Kumba (Pharoah Sanders / Foday Musa Suso) 7:50
6.  Country Mile (Pharoah Sanders) 6:03

Pharoah Sanders (Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Bells, Bowls, Vocals)
Michael White (Violin)
William Henderson (Piano, Electric Piano, Vocals)
Bernie Worrell (Keyboards, Vocals)
Jeff Bova (Programming, Electronics)
Foday Musa Suso (Kora, Dousongonni, Vocals)
Dominic Kanza (Guitar)
Charnett Moffett (Double Bass)
Steve Neil (Double Bass, Bass Guitar)
Hamid Drake (Drums, Tablas, Frame drums, Vocals)
Aiyb Dieng (Chatan, Congas, Bells, Gongs, Vocals)
Salie Suso (Backing Vocals)
Mariama Suso (Backing Vocals)
Fanta Mangasuba (Backing Vocals)
Fatoumata Sako (Backing Vocals)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sonny Rollins - Tour De Force

A better purchase than Sonny Boy (OJC 348) which has four of this set's six numbers plus "The House I Live In" from an earlier date. None of the Sonny Rollins' originals (which include "B. Swift," "B. Quick" and "Ee-Ah") on this release caught on. With pianist Kenny Drew, bassist George Morrow and drummer Max Roach completing the quartet, Rollins was in consistently creative form during this prime period but the overall set is not as classic as most of the tenor's other recordings from the 1950s.- by Scott Yanow, AMG 

"Tour De Force" finds Sonny Rollins playing some of his fastest and most forceful tenor saxophone. It is no surprise that Sonny is joined once again on the kit by Max Roach (with Kenny Drew and George Morrow also in the band), because few drummers could keep this pace going on the album's smokers, the aptly named "B. Swift," "B. Quick," and "Ee-ah," and the only slightly slower (normal hard bop speed) "Sonny Boy." "Tour" also features two tracks with vocals by Earl Coleman, the tender ballads "My Ideal" and "Two Different Worlds." While it's not "John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman" (even though this pre-dates 'Trane's session by five years), it's pretty good. However, the disparity between the "speed bop" and the ballads is so great, it causes "Tour De Force" to feel schizophrenic. There is great material here, but I only give it four stars because the album doesn't flow together very well. - by Michael B. Richman,

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: Tour De Force
Year: 1957 (Prestige Records)
Label: OJC (1984)
Runtime: 41:55
Recording: December 7, 1956 at the Van Gelder Recording Studio (Hackensack, USA) 

1.  EE-AH (Sonny Rollins) 6:57
2.  B. Quick (Sonny Rollins) 9:14
3.  Two Different Worlds (Al Frisch/Sid Wayne) 7:40
4.  B. Swift (Sonny Rollins) 5:18
5.  My Ideal (Newell Chase/Leo Robin/Richard A. Whiting) 4:23
6.  Sonny Boy (Bonus track) (Lew Brown/Buddy DeSylva/Ray Henderson/Al Jolson) 8:21

Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Drew (Piano)
George Morrow (Double Bass)
Max Roach (Drums)
Earl Coleman (Vocals) - 3,5

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Piirpauke - Muuttolinnut / Terra nova

By now, most people are aware of World Music and realize that it simply means the appreciation of the best tunes from all over the world. Some people saw it coming years and years ago and were playing it before anybody had thought of calling it World Music or anything. Sakari Kukko - visionary, world traveller and multi-instrumentalist from Finland - saw it coming more than 20 years ago, when he formed the first line-up of Piirpauke and was immediately awarded with a hit. Since that first success with a poignant Karelian folk tune, Sakari has guided his ever-improving line-ups on musical journeys through the delights of Balkan, Turkey, Africa, Latin America and points in between. After more than a dozen albums and many tours and concerts in Spain, Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Cuba, Soviet Union, India and Turkey the band is now ready to set their sights further afield. Sakari and his saxes, flutes and keyboards have never been content with merely polite "fusion music", but have always striven to draw the most fire and beauty from the most inspiring sources, no matter where. With his present international line-up of master musicians from Finland, Spain and Senegal, Sakari is truly an ambassador of World Music. Since attaining accolades as one Finland's top jazz saxophone players in the early seventies, Sakari has steadily added to his array of flutes and woodwinds on his world travels - and he also plays a mean keyboard and is occasionally inspired to launch into a tongue-in-cheek vocal. The countries he has roamed for exotic musical inspiration are too numerous to mention, but he has resided both in Columbia and Spain. - from

Artist: Piirpauke
Album: Muuttolinnut - Terra nova
Year: 1993
Label: RockAdillo Records
Runtime: 60:50

1.  Karavana (W.A. Mozart/arr. Sakari Kukko) 1:47
2.  Tristesa (Sorrow I) (Sakari Kukko/Cinta Hermo) 2:49
3.  Suru (Sorrow II) (Teppo Repo) 7:22
4.  Caracola (Sakari Kukko/Cinta Hermo) 4:06
5.  Secreto (Cinta Hermo) 5:13
6.  Savonmuan Hilima (Erkki Salama) 2:21
7.  Hilpeä hanuri (Jolly Accordion) (Vaino Tuominen) 2:07
8.  Raga Shostelerias (Sakari Kukko/Cinta Hermo)  6:06
9.  Wonto minima (Ismael Sane)  3:36
10.  Tuohinen sormus (Birch Bark Ring) (Matti Jurva/Traditional) 2:32
11.  Marssi (A March) (Teppo Repo) 3:12
12.  Hämäläinen kehtolaulu (Lullaby from Tavastia) (Traditional/arr. Sakari Kukko) 4:03
13.  Selestat (Traditional/Cinta Hermo/arr. Sakari Kukko) 6:08
14.  Maijan polkka (Maija's Polka) (Vili Vesterinen) 2:47
15.  Muuttolinnut (Migratory Birds) (Valto Tynnila/Martti Jappila) 1:59
16.  Terra Nova (Sakari Kukko/Cinta Hermo/Ismael Sane) 4:35

Sakari Kukko (Keyboards, Saxophones, Flute, Drum Set, Percussion and Vocals)
Cinta Hermo (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Castanets and Flamenco Dance)
Ismael Sane (Percussion and Vocals)
Outi Nieminen (Kantele) - 2,5,8,12
Auvo Z. Kaipaala (Vocal) - 6,10,15
T.T. Oksala (Electric Guitar) - 1
Babakar Faye (Darbuka) - 16


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