Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grencso Collective - Plays Monk



From the sixties on, in all of the 80 or 90 Hungarian jazzclubs the art, piano playing and compositions of Thelonius Monk attracted a following. The pianist himself visited Budapest twice, both times in the seventies as a member of the Giants of Jazz touring group. Bearing the name of Thelonius Jazzclub, a local club operated here from 1984 to 1990 to cultivate the heritage of Monk.
From among the most famous compositions of Monk, 'Round Midnight was recorded girst, in 1962, by the Qualiton Jazz Ensemble. Straight. No Chaser was taped by violinist Csaba Deseő in 1964, on his first recording date ever. These were followed by nomerous other recordings. - From original liner notes

Artist: Grencso Collective
Album: Plays Monk
Year: 1995
Label: Pannon Jazz
Runtime: 42:32

Tracks:
1.  In Walked Bud (Thelonius Monk) 4:19
2.  Bemsha Swing (Thelonius Monk) 3:54
3.  Misterioso (Thelonius Monk) 6:28
4.  Epistrophy (Thelonius Monk) 6:15
5.  Rhythm-A-Ning (Thelonius Monk) 3:36
6.  Blue Monk (Thelonius Monk) 3:24
7.  Well You Needn't (Thelonius Monk) 3:45
8.  Straight No Chaser (Thelonius Monk) 3:56
9.  'Round Midnight (Thelonius Monk/Bernie Hanighen/Cootie Williams) 6:55

Personnel:
István Grencsó (Alto and Tenor Saxophone)
Béla Ágoston (Bass Clarinet) - 1-6,8
István Gyárfás (Guitar) - 1-6,8
György Jeszenszky (Drums and Metalophon) - 1-5,7,8

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Grant Green - The Latin Bit

Grant Green, being known mainly as a soul jazz guitarist, eventually gravitated into the popular boogaloo sound. The Latin Bit is the natural bridge to that next phase, though a bit premature for most in 1961-1963, even relative to the subsequent bossa nova craze. Pianist Johnny Acea, long an underrated jazzman, is the nucleus of this session, grounding it with witty chops, chordal comping, and rhythmic meat. The Latino rhythm section of drummer Willie Bobo and conga player Carlos "Patato" Valdes personify authentic, seasoned spice, while at times the chekere sound of Garvin Masseaux makes the soup too thick. At its collective best, the group presents a steady, serene, and steamy "Besame Mucho" and the patient, slow, slinky, sultry "Tico Tico." Just a small step below is a classy take on Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes," a premier jazz bebop (emphasis) tune with a Latin undertow and Green's tiniest staccato phrases, slightly marred by the overbearing constant chekere, but still classic. "Mama Inez" ranks high for its calypso-infused happy feeling and wry stop-start lines. The straight-ahead hard bopper "Brazil" and lone soul-jazz tune, "Blues for Juanita," display the single-note acumen that made Green's style instantly recognizable. This date always yielded mixed results for staunch fans of Green, but it remains a credible effort, even if slightly flawed in part. [Some reissues add two selections with pianist Sonny Clark and tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec, the latter of whom plays hip secondary harmonies on the bossa nova-flavored "Granada," but is in the complete background and a non-factor on the pop tune "Hey There."] - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Grant Green
Album: The Latin Bit
Year: 1962
Label: Blue Note (1996)
Runtime: 59:42

Tracks:
1.  Mambo Inn (Mario Bauzá/Edgar Sampson/Bobby Woodlen) 5:50
2.  Besame Mucho (Sunny Skylar/Consuelo Velázquez) 7:11
3.  Mama Inez (L. Wolfe Gilbert/Eliseo Grenet) 6:40
4.  Brazil (Ary Barroso/Bob Russell) 5:01
5.  Tico Tico (Jose Abreu/Ervin Drake/Aloysio Oliveira) 7:45
6.  My Little Suede Shoes (Charlie Parker) 6:23
7.  Blues For Juanita (Grant Green) 7:04
8.  Grenada (Agustín Lara) 6:26
9.  Hey There (Richard Adler/Jerry Ross) 7:22

Personnel:
Grant Green (Guitar)
Wendell Marshall (Double Bass)
Willie Bobo (Drums)
Carlos "Patato" Valdez (Conga)
Johnny Acea (Piano) - 1-7
Carvin Masseaux (Chekere) - 1-6
Ike Quebeck (Tenor Saxophone) - 8,9

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hank Crawford - Mr. Blues Plays Lady Soul

The concept for the Lady Soul date from 1969 is perfect for Crawford, who typically plays close to the melody, using his great blues feeling and jazz chops to create interest and excitement. Crawford evokes the spirit of Aretha Franklin's music without resorting to literal re-creation of the originals. Arif Mardin's driving, big-band arrangements are impressive, but it is the rhythm section that makes these tracks. Essentially, it's the Atlantic house band: guitarist Eric Gale, pianist Paul Griffin, bassist Charles Rainey, and drummer Bernard Purdie. They all get ample opportunity to show their stuff, especially on the seven-plus minute master blast of the blues, "Going Down Slow." - by Jim Todd, AMG

Artist: Hank Crawford
Album: Mr. Blues Plays Lady Soul
Year: 1969
Label: Atlantic (24bit remastered, 2014)
Runtime: 37:05

Tracks:
1.  Groovin' (Eddie Brigati/Felix Cavaliere) 2:40
2.  I Can't See Myself Leaving You (Ronnie Shannon) 3:33
3.  Never Let Me Go (Ray Evans/Jay Livingston) 3:29
4.  Baby, I Love You (Ronnie Shannon) 3:41
5.  Lady Soul (Hank Crawford) 3:14
6.  Soul Serenade (King Curtis) 3:31
7.  Ain't No Way (Aretha Franklin/Carolyn Franklin) 3:57
8.  Since You've Been Gone (Aretha Franklin/Teddy White) 2:16
9.  Take A Look (Clyde Otis) 3:15
10.  Going Down Slow (James Burke Oden) 7:25

Personnel:
Hank Crawford (Alto Saxophone)
Bernard Purdie (Drums)
Eric Gale (Guitar)
Paul Griffin (Organ, Pano)
David Newman (Tenor Saxophone, Flute)
Frank Wess (Alto Saxophone) - 1,2,4-8,10
Pepper Adams (Baritone Saxophone) - 1,2,4-8,10
Charley Raney (Double Bass) - 3-6,10
Jerry Jemmott (Double Bass) - 2,8
Ron Carter (Double Bass) - 1,3,7
Seldon Powell (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,2,4-8,10
Benny Powell (Trombone) - 1-3,7,8
Jimmy Cleveland (Trombone) - 1-3,7,8
Bernie Glow (Trumpet) - 1,2,4,5,7,8,10
Ernie Royal (Trumpet) - 1,2,4-8,10
Snookie Young (Trumpet) - 1,2,4-8,10
Joe Newman (Trumpet) - 1,2,4-8,10

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Stan Getz & Bill Evans - Stan Getz & Bill Evans

The only studio meeting between Stan Getz and Bill Evans took place over two days in 1964, with the aggressive drummer Elvin Jones and either Richard Davis or Ron Carter on bass. It is peculiar that Verve shelved the results for over a decade before issuing any of the music, though it may have been felt that Getz and Evans hadn't had enough time to achieve the desired chemistry, though there are memorable moments. The punchy take of "My Heart Stood Still," the elegant interpretation of "Grandfather's Waltz," and the lush setting of the show tune "Melinda" all came from the first day's session, with Davis on bass. (Evidently he was unavailable the following day, so Carter replaced him.) Evans' driving, challenging "Funkallero" is the obvious highlight from day two, though the gorgeous "But Beautiful" and the breezy setting of "Night and Day" are also enjoyable. Only the brief version of "Carpetbagger's Theme," which seems badly out of place and suggestive of the label's interference with the session, is a bit of a disappointment. Obviously neither Getz nor Evans liked the tune, as they go through the motions in a very brief performance. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Stan Getz & Bill Evans
Album: Stan Getz & Bill Evans
Year: 1964
Recorded: 1964.05.05. - 1964.05.06. at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio (Englewood Cliffs, USA)
Label: Verve (1988)
Runtime: 62:09

Tracks:
1.  Night and Day (Cole Porter) 6:49
2.  But Beautiful (Johnny Burke/James Van Heusen) 4:44
3.  Funkallero (Bill Evans) 6:44
4.  My Heart Stood Still (Richard Rodgers/Lorentz Hart) 8:40
5.  Melinda (Alan Jay Lerner/Burton Lane) 5:07
6.  Grandfather's Waltz (Lasse Farnlof/Gene Lees) 6:31
7.  Carpetbagger's Theme (Elmer Bernstein) 1:50
8.  Wnew (Theme Song) (Larry Green) 2:53
9.  My Heart Stood Still (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 6:45
10.  Grandfather's Waltz (Lasse Farnlof/Gene Lees) 5:32
11.  Night and Day (Cole Porter) 6:34

Personnel:
Stan Getz (Tenor Saxophone)
Bill Evans (Piano)
Elvin Jones (Drums)
Ron Carter (Double Bass) - 1-3,7,8,11
Richard Davis (Double Bass) - 4-6,9,10

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jimmy Witherspoon - Roots

Jimmy Witherspoon laid out two great records in 1962 on Reprise, Spoon and this one. Roots places the great blues singer and guitarist in the company of saxophonist Ben Webster, trumpeter Gerald Wilson, and a rhythm section consisting of pianist Ernie Freeman and drummer Jim Miller. The mood is laid-back, down-home, and full of emotion and sentiment. The warmth of Witherspoon's voice on material like "Your Red Wagon," "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water," "Key to the Highway" (in one of the more unique versions ever recorded), and Jimmy Rushing's "Did You Ever" is on the other side of lonesome. Webster and Wilson underscore the sung lines with fills that accent the deep blue in Witherspoon's vocal. Jay McShann's "Confessin' the Blues" is a more jazzed-up arrangement, but Witherspoon's deep in the R&B groove here, taking a hint from Joe Turner. The finger-popping read of Turner's "It's a Low Down Dirty Shame" is in the gutbucket; the rhythm section swings hard. It's not as raucous as the original, but Witherspoon's smooth, clear, and deep register is beautifully complemented first by Wilson's solo and then by Webster's. The real stunner is near the end, when the band takes on Big Bill Broonzy's "Just a Dream," where Witherspoon wails and moans the blues. It's just chilling. This is one of those recordings that is a true hidden classic. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Jimmy Witherspoon
Album: Roots
Year: 1962
Label: Warner Japan (24bit, 2014)
Runtime: 40:30

Tracks:
1.  I'd Rather Dring Muddy Water (Eddie Miller) 3:56
2.  I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town (Andy Razaf/Casey Bill Weldon) 3:36
3.  Key to the Highway (Charles Segar/William Broonzy) 2:54
4.  Did You Ever (Jimmy Rushing) 3:24
5.  Confessin' The Blues (Jay McShann/Walter Brown) 3:00
6.  Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (Jimmie Cox) 2:31
7.  Your Red Wagon (Don Raye/Gene DePaul/Richard M. Jones) 5:12
8.  Rain Is Such A Lonesome Sound (Jimmy Witherspoon) 3:01
9.  Cherry Red (Big Joe Turner/Pete Johnson) 3:15
10.  It's A Low Down Dirty Shame (Ollie Shepard) 3:02
11.  Just A Dream (William Broonzy)  3:00
12.  Please, Mr. Webster (Buddy Johnson) 3:32

Personnel:
Jimmy Witherspoon (Vocals)
Ben Webster (Tenor Saxophone)
Gerald Wilson (Trumpet)
Ernie Freeman (Piano)
Herman Mitchell (Guitar)
Ralph Hamilton (Double Bass)
Jim Miller (Drums)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oliver Nelson - Fantabulous

By the time Oliver Nelson and his big band had recorded Fantabulous in March of 1964 for Argo, the great composer, saxophonist, conductor, and arranger was a man about town in New York. He had
released some truly classic dates of his own as a leader in smaller group forms -- Blues and the Abstract Truth and Full Nelson among them -- and had done arrangement work for everyone from Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Hodges, Nancy Wilson, Frank Wess, King Curtis, Etta Jones, Jimmy Smith, Jack Teagarden, Betty Carter, Billy Taylor, and Gene Ammons, to name more than a few. For Fantabulous, he took his working big band to Chicago for a gig sponsored by Daddy-O-Daylie, a famous local disc jockey. He had also worked with a number of the players on this date before, even recording an earlier version of the tune "Hobo Flats" that opens this set a year before on an album of the same name. Altoist Phil Woods, baritone roarer Jerome Richardson, trumpeters Snooky Young and Art Hoyle, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Grady Tate are a few of the names on Fantabulous. Nelson holds down the tenor chair, and Patti Bown is on piano with additional brass and reed players. Another Nelson original, "Post No Bills" features killer alto work from Woods, and a brief but smoking hot baritone break form Richardson on the same cut. This program is compelling in that it provides an excellent meld of all of Nelson's strengths-as an advanced, colorful harmonist
who insisted on the hard swinging esthetic, as an excellent tenor saxophonist and a killer conductor. Another highlight is "Daylie's Double," (which bears a similarity to Nat Adderley's "Work Song"")
named for the aforementioned DJ, with smoking tenor breaks from Nelson, and big fat soulful chord soloing from Bown. Likewise Billy Taylor's "A Bientot," it opens in true big brass Ellingtonian
elegance, and unravels itself as a gorgeous bluesy ballad with echoes of "I Only Have Eyes for You" in its melody. The subtle shades of flute and twinned clarinet are a nice touch before the entire band arrives to carry it out on a big yet tenderly expressive lyric cloud. That said, there isn't a weak moment here, there isn't anything that doesn't captivate, delight, and even astonish, as in the smoking, striated harmonic bop head on "Three Plus One." It's almost amazing it took more than 20 years before this appeared on American shores on CD, but at last, here it is in excellent sound at a budget price as part of Verve's Originals series. This is for those who are fans who don't have it yet (and who are unwilling to pay high collector's fees for good vinyl copies or the wages of Japanese import insanity), and those wondering where to begin with Nelson the arranger. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Oliver Nelson
Album: Fantabulous
Year: 1964:
Label: Verve (Argo, 2008)
Runtime: 34:35

Tracks:
1.  Hobo Flats (Oliver Nelson) 4:13
2.  Post No Bills (Oliver Nelson) 5:30
3.  A Bientot (Billy Taylor) 3:47
4.  Three Plus One (Oliver Nelson) 3:25
5.  Take Me With You (Willie Jean Tate/Oliver Nelson) 5:28
6.  Daylie's Double (Audrie Nelson) 4:01
7.  Teenie's Blues (Oliver Nelson) 4:08
8.  Laz-ie Kate (Oliver Nelson) 3:59

Personnel: 
Oliver Nelson (Tenor Saxophone)
Jerome Richardson (Baritone Saxophone, Flute, Alto Flute)
Phil Woods (Alto Saxophone, Clarinet)
Robert Ashton (Tenor Saxophone, Calrinet)
Kenny Soderblom (Alto Saxophone, Flute)
Roy Weigano (Trombone)
Tony Studd (Bass Trombone)
Art Hoyle (Trumpet)
Eugene 'Snookie' Young (Trumpet)
Patti Bown (Piano)
Ben Tucker (Double Bass)
Grady Tate (Drums)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bill Frisell - Blues Dream

For those who have been wondering where Mr. Bill's musical wanderings would lead him in the wake of his first solo CD, Ghost Town, Blues Dream provides the ambitious answer. Nearly all Frisell's fascinations are here: the pastoralism of Have a Little Faith, a Nashville tinge, and the cinematic sounds of Quartet. There's also the electronic loop atmospheres of his ECM and early Elektra years and the alternating Ellingtonian and Salvation Army horns of his quintet period. All of this melded into 18 new compositions commissioned by the Walker Arts Center. A textural richness comes courtesy of Greg Leisz's various guitars backing Frisell's own guitar and a stunning integration of three horns: Curtis Fowlkes's trombone, Ron Miles's trumpet, and Billy Drewes's saxophones. As you listen to this string of broad-shouldered pieces, tributes to greats like Ron Carter, and strangely blues-inflected soundscapes, it's apparent that the solos of Ghost Town</I> can operate as a sort of sketch or "cartoon" for this, the full painting; or a short that is then expanded into a feature. Frisell's career is taking on the aspect of a well-crafted movie or novel that explores different story lines before bringing them together for the finale (and this might be the prelude to the finale). by Michael Ross

From the beginning of Blues Dream, the listener knows that something special is going on. The spare notes of Ron Miles' trumpet and the relaxed guitar work of Greg Leisz lay the groundwork for a spacious sound on the title cut. This openness remains throughout the album, even when alto and trombone are added into the mix. The instrumental "Ron Carter" begins with the loose, electrified feel of an early Miles Davis fusion piece, with Bill Frisell's distorted guitar exploring the space of the piece without resorting to excessive volume. The short and sweet "Pretty Stars Were Made to Shine" leans heavier on the country side, with steel guitar and Chet Atkins' fingerpicking dominating. The arrangements on Blues Dream are a big change from last year's solo effort, Ghost Town. An essential part of the overall sound is Leisz' steel guitar and lap steel work. He also played with Frisell on Good Dog, Happy Man, and helps to set the mood and pace throughout Blues Dream. Ron Miles plays a smaller role, but it is fascinating how well his relaxed trumpet, with its carefully chosen notes, fits into the mix on the title cut and the short "Episode." Blues Dream is a perfectly chosen title: the material, steeped in the blues, is approached in a lazy, dreamlike fashion. Frisell's fondness for putting unusual combinations of instruments together adds to the overall effect, leaving the listener to wonder why no one has ever tried this before. Blues Dream is a lovely release that should satisfy Frisell fans as well as jazz, country, and blues fans looking for a genre-bending experience. - by Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., AMG

Artist: Bill Frisell
Album: Blues Dream
Year: 2001
Label: Nonesuch
Runtime: 61:58

Tracks:
1.  Blues Dream 2:31
2.  Ron Carter 6:45
3.  Pretty Flowers Were Made For Blooming 3:20
4.  Pretty Stars Were Made To Shine 1:41
5.  Where Do We Go? 5:21
6.  Like Dreamers Do (Part One) 1:34
7.  Like Dreamers Do (Part Two) 2:37
8.  Outlaws 4:18
9.  What Do We Do? 7:08
10.  Episode 0:49
11.  Soul Merchant 2:43
12.  Greg Leisz 6:14
13.  The Tractor 2:27
14.  Fifty Years 1:31
15.  Slow Dance 3:11
16.  Things Will Never Be The Same 4:49
17.  Dream On 3:06
18.  Blues Dream (Reprise) 1:53
All compositions by Bill Frisell

Personnel:
Bill Frisell (Electric Guitar, acoustic Guitar, Loops)
Greg Leisz (Pedal Steel Guitar, Lap Steel Guitar, National Steel Guitar, Mandolin)
Ron Miles (Trumpet)
Billy Drewes (Alto Saxophone)
David Piltch (Double Bass)
Kenny Wollesen (Drums, Percussion)
Curtis Fowlkes (Trombone)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ella Fitzgerald - At the Montreux Jazz Festival

Although Ella Fitzgerald had been on the jazz scene for over four decades by the time of this 1975 concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival, she still knew how to swing and keep the audience in the palm of her hand. Backed by lyrical pianist Tommy Flanagan, the solid bassist Keter Betts and the driving drummer Bobby Durham, the vocalist wows the crowd with a mix of standards, popular jazz compositions and ballads in a way that only she could do it. Even though her voice shows evidence of a little more vibrato on her held notes at the end of a phrase (especially on the ballads), she still emotes like no one else, occasionally adding some playful scat in the up-tempo numbers and captivating the audience with her romp through "How High the Moon," a piece she kept fresh even though she had performed it hundreds of times over the years. This is easily one of Ella Fitzgerald's better live sets from late in her career, which would continue for another decade before ill health finally caused her to retire. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
Album: At the Montreux Jazz festival 1975
Year: 1975
Label: Pablo
Runtime: 46:40

Tracks:
1.  Caravan (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills/Juan Tizol) 2:36
2.  Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Johnny Mercer/Billy Strayhorn) 2:49
3.  Teach Me Tonight (Sammy Cahn/Gene DePaul) 4:36
4.  Wave (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 5:11
5.  It's All Right with Me (Cole Porter) 2:59
6.  Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love) (Cole Porter) 5:40
7.  How High the Moon (Nancy Hamilton/Morgan Lewis) 8:36
8.  Girl from Ipanema (Vinícius de Moraes/Norman Gimbel/Antonio Carlos Jobim) 8:14
9.  'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do (Percy Grainger/Robert Prince/Clarence Williams) 5:59

Personnel:
Ella Fitzgerald (Vocals)
Tommy Flanagan (Piano)
Keter Betts (Double Bass)
Bobby Durham (Drums)

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