Friday, August 21, 2015

Ronu Majumdar - Hollow Bamboo

The world music bin at the record store is a depository for all non-Western sounding musics. From field recordings of  Australian aborigines spinning bull-roarers in a ritual context to studio-produced fusion musics that use an occasional tabla sample for the sake of added exoticism, the world music category catches them all. On Hollow Bamboo, celebrated bansuri player Ronu Majumdar tunes into a few of the different bandwidths offered within the world music spectrum. With half of the tracks he grounds his playing in traditional Hindustani works. Accompanied by the penetrating tabla playing of Abhijit Banerjee on most of these cuts, Majumdar whips up stunning melodic gusts that swirl in and out of time with the tabla. The other four tracks are experimental collaborations with trumpeter Jon Hassell, guitarists Rick Cox and Ry Cooder, and percussionist Joachim Cooder. "A Day for Trade Winds," a song formed upon richly textured guitar drones, is the most successful of these four fusion tracks because guitarists Cox and Cooder lay back and let Majumdar develop subtle, yet sophisticated, melodies. "African Queen" is a less successful hybrid, due in part to the fact that Joachim Cooder's hand drumming drowns out the superior playing of Banerjee. Whatever the contributions of his collaborators may be, Ronu Majumdar's sensitive performance on the hollow, bamboo bansuri makes this CD a great listen, no matter what end of the world music spectrum you're coming from. - by John Vallier, AMG

Artist: Ronu Majumdar
Album: Hollow Bamboo
Year: 2000
Label: Water Lily Acoustic
Runtime: 44:18

1.  Vaisnava Bhajan (Traditional) 6:04
2.  Krsna Kantha Kandam (Ry Cooder/Ronu Majumdar) 3:45
3.  African Queen (Ry Cooder/Ronu Majumdar) 3:26
4.  The Charmer Of Braj (Traditional) 6:27
5.  A Day For Trade Winds (Ry Cooder/Jon Hassell/Ronu Majumdar) 8:08
6.  Bay Of Bengal (Ry Cooder/Ronu Majumdar) 4:45
7.  River Song (Traditional) 5:02
8.  Hollow Bamboo (Traditional) 6:38

Ronu Majumdar (Bansuri)
Ry Cooder (Guitar, Oud) - 2,3,5,6
Jon Hassell (Trumpet) - 3,5
Abhijit Banerjee (Tabla) - 1,3,4,7
Rick Cox (Electric Guitar) - 2,3,5,6
Joachim Cooder (Percussion) - 3

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Joe Lovano - 52nd Street Themes

The CD by jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano blends New York attitude with Midwestern warmth in an homage to the Manhattan street where bebop ruled in the '50s and '60s. The music here, like that of such other thematic Lovano albums as Rush Hour (his 1995 celebration of third-stream music) and Celebrating Sinatra, evokes the past without being at all archival. Fronting a four-man sax section, Lovano blasts through such strong Dameronia as "The Scene Is Clean" and "Tadd's Delight," refreshes the indelible lyricism of Dameron's lovely "If You Could See Me Now," and, in an intimate duet with pianist John Hicks, velvetizes Billy Strayhorn's lush "Passion Flower." It also features Miles Davis' early "Sippin' at Bells"; Lovano's homage to Charlie Parker, the complex "Charlie Chan," a three-way saxophone conversation between Lovano and fellow tenormen George Garzone and Ralph Lalama that's punctuated by Lewis Nash's pinpoint drums; "Abstractions on 52nd Street," Lovano's extrapolation and embellishment of a Thelonious Monk line; and George Gershwin's "Embraceable You," plushly orchestrated by Willie "Face" Smith and lovingly performed by Lovano. Others contributing sax are Gary Smulyan (baritone) and Steve Slagle (alto); Tim Hagans and Conrad Herwig play trumpet and trombone, respectively, while Dennis Irwin handles bass. Like many other Lovano records, this hews close to tradition but updates it effectively. Besides the fervor of the playing -- Smith says he would've played saxophone, but these New York players were much better prepared -- the song selection is astute, Lovano's originals are solid, and Smith's sole compositional contribution, "Deal," is tasty indeed. - by Carlo Wolff, AMG

Artist: Joe Lovano Nonet
Album: 52nd Street Themes
Year: 2000
Label: Blue Note
Runtime: 67:10

1.  If You Could See Me Now (Tadd Dameron / Carl Sigman) 3:51
2.  On A Misty Night (Tadd Dameron) 5:01
3.  Sippin' At Bells (Miles Davis) 5:08
4.  Passion Flower (Billy Strayhorn) 5:04
5.  Deal (Willie Smith) 7:11
6.  The Scene Is Clean (Tadd Dameron) 3:48
7.  Whatever Possess'd Me (Tadd Dameron) 3:56
8.  Charlie Chan (Joe Lovano) 8:07
9.  Theme For Ernie (Fred Lacey) 5:49
10.  Tadd's Delight (Tadd Dameron) 7:47
11.  Abstractions On 52nd Street (Joe Lovano) 2:04
12.  52nd Street Theme (Thelonious Monk) 4:27
13.  Embraceable You (George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin) 4:57

Joe Lovano (Tenor Saxophone)
Dennis Irwin (Double Bass)
Lewis Nash (Drums)
John Hicks (Piano)
Steve Slagle (Alto Saxophone)
Gary Smulyan (Baritone Saxophone)
George Garzone (Tenor Saxophone)
Ralph Lalama (Tenor Saxophone)
Conrad Herwig (Trombone)
Tim Hagans (Trumpet)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Jacques Loussier Trio - Satie: Gymnopedies / Gnossiennes

Those who know Jacques Loussier from his Play Bach Trio, where he imparts a highly personal touch to the music of J. S. Bach, may have been surprised when he attacked Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons last year. Now he has taken another unexpected turn with Erik Satie, Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes. This development may be seen as a kind of progression from the strict logic - albeit eminently suited to improvisation - of Bach through the more expressionistic Vivaldi to Satie, the most impressionistic of these three composers. On the face of it, Satie is perhaps easier to interpret in a jazz idiom since the original music is closer to the forms of modern jazz than that of Bach and Vivaldi. But Loussier produces an equally masterful interpretation in all cases, maintaining an exquisite balance between his own invention and the essence of the original music. Although this record carries the sub-title `Compositions of Jacques Loussier on Themes of Erik Satie', the compositions! ! are at all times recognisably Satie as much as they are Loussier. The technical showmanship associated with many of Loussier's Bach interpretations, and indeed with his Vivaldi, is here exchanged for a gentleness that pervades most of the music on the disc. The mastery of the keyboard is still there, of course, but appears more as musical expression than agility and brilliance. André Arpino on drums complements Loussier's piano as always with sensitive and imaginative percussion, while Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac, new to the trio on bass, shows himself a worthy member of the group. If you know and love Loussier, buy this disc. If you know and love Satie, buy this disc. And if you don't know either, buy the disc anyway - it is one of the greats. - by Francis Markey,

Artist: Jacques Loussier Trio
Album: Satie: Gymnopedies / Gnossiennes
Year: 1998
Label: Telarc Jazz
Runtime: 51:41

1.  Gymnopédie No. 1 / Var. 1 4:35
2.  Gymnopédie No. 1 / Var. 2 4:32
3.  Gnossienne No. 3 4:25
4.  Gnossienne No. 6 5:22
5.  Gnossienne No. 2 4:16
6.  Gymnopédie No. 1 / Var. 3 5:03
7.  Gnossienne No. 4 7:08
8.  Gnossienne No. 5 4:12
9.  Gymnopédie No. 1 / Var. 4 4:32
10.  Gnossienne No. 1 3:52
11.  Pas A Pas 3:44

Jacques Loussier (Piano)
Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac (Double Bass)
André Arpino (Drums)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Art Farmer & Benny Golson Jazztett - Here and Now + Another Git Together

Here and Now:
The Jazztet had been in existence for two years when they recorded what would be their final LPs, Here and Now and Another Git Together. The personnel, other than the two co-leaders, flugelhornist Art Farmer and tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson, had completely changed since 1960 but the group sound was the same. The 1962 version of The Jazztet included trombonist Grachan Moncur III, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Herbie Lewis, and drummer Roy McCurdy. It is remarkable to think that this talent-filled group wasn't, for some reason, snapped up to record even more albums together. Highlights of their excellent out-of-print LP include Ray Bryant's "Tonk," "Whisper Not," "Just in Time," and Thelonious Monk's "Ruby My Dear." A classic if short-lived hard bop group. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Another Git Together:
Recorded at the same sessions that resulted in Here and Now, this Mercury LP was the sixth and final one that documented the Jazztet before their breakup. The group lasted less than three years, which is surprising considering the talent. The 1962 edition of the Jazztet consisted of flugelhornist Art Farmer, tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Herbie Lewis and drummer Albert "Tootle" Heath. This spirited and swinging set has six strong selections with the most memorable including Moncur's "Space Station," Golson's "Along Came Betty" and the standard "This Nearly Was Mine." Along with the other Jazztet dates, this LP is long overdue to be reissued in full on CD. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Art Farmer & Benny Golson Jazztett
Album: Here and Now & Another Git Together
Year: 1962
Lanel: Mercury (Jazzplus, 2012)
Runtime: 43:58 + 35:15

Here and Now
1.  Tonk (Ray Bryant) 6:48
2.  Rue Prevail (Art Farmer) 4:26
3.  Richie's Dilemna (Harold Mabern) 5:10
4.  Whisper Not (Benny Golson) 5:20
5.  Just In TIme (Betty Comden/Adolph Green/Jule Styne) 5:27
6.  Ruby, My Dear (Thelonious Monk) 5:10
7.  In Love In Vain (Jerome Kern/Leo Robin) 7:12
8.  Sonny's Back (Grachan Moncur III) 4:21
Another Git Together
9.  Space Station (Grachan Moncur III) 5:17
10.  Domino (Louis Ferrari/Jacques Plante/Don Raye) 7:06
11.  Another Git Together (Pony Pointdexter/Jon Hendricks) 6:18
12.  Along Came Betty (Benny Golson) 5:32
13.  This Nearly Was Mine (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein) 6:29
14.  Reggie (Benny Golson) 4:33

Art Farmer (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Benny Golson (Tenor Saxophone)
Grachan Moncur III (Trombone)
Harold Mabern (Piano)
Herbie Lewis (Double Bass)
Roy McCurdy (Drums)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Orlando Cachaito Lopez - Cachaito

Buena Vista Club mainstay Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, who is widely regarded as the best bassist in Cuba, could have taken the safe route and recorded a straightforward collection of Cuban son/Latin jazz music. The resulting album may have been a bit predictable and mild, but the high level of musicianship would have ensured a quality product, particularly considering the impressive international cast that appears with Cachaito on this album. To their credit, however, Cachaito and his colleagues were willing to take some chances. Some tracks approach a Cuban version of dub music, as Jamaican organist Bigga Morrison's Hammond prods or Cuban surf guitarist Manuel Galban's instrument reverberates while the bottom drops in and out of the mix. French DJ Dee Nasty even scratches on "Cachaito in Laboratory," a partially successful experiment that yields interesting results even though it doesn't quite gel with the rest of the album. At times the tracks seem more like studio jams than fully realized songs, but the album's overall feel -- self-assured, relaxed, warm, even somewhat jocular -- is quite appealing. The musicianship, of course, is impeccable, including the amazing rhythm section of Cachaito, Miguel "Anga" Diaz on congas, Amadito Valdes on timbales, and Carlos Gonzalez on bongos. Other highlights include Ibrahim Ferrer's cameo appearance on "Wahira," the album's only vocal track; the full orchestral string arrangements by Demetrio Muniz and horn arrangements by James Brown saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis; and "Tumbao No. 5 (Para Charlie Mingus)," which was inspired by the Mingus classic "Haitian Fight Song." - by Todd Kristel, AMG

Artist: Orlando Cachaito Lopez
Album: Cachaito
Year: 2001
Label: World Circuit
Runtime: 48:00

1.  Siempre Con Swing (Intro) 0:24
2.  Redencion (Israel Lopez) 4:50
3.  Mis Dos Pequenas (Anais Cruz) 4:06
4.  A Gozar El Tumbao (Israel Lopez) 2:47
5.  Cachaito In Laboratory (Orlando Lopez) 2:43
6.  Tumbao No.5 (Para Charlie Mingus) (Orlando Lopez) 7:47
7.  Conversacion (Orlando Lopez) 6:41
8.  Tumbanga (Orlando Lopez / Miguel Diaz / Hugh Masakela) 4:25
9.  Oracion Lucumi (Arsenio Rodriguez) 4:11
10.  Wahira (Orlando Lopez / Lazaro Villa) 4:54
11.  Anais (Orlando Lopez / Miguel Diaz) 3:42
12.  La Negra (Orlando Lopez) 1:30

Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez (Double Bass)
Carlos Gonzalez (Bongos)
Miguel "Anga" Diaz (Congas, Percussion)
Manuel Galban (Electric Guitar)
Alejandro Pichardo Perez (Guiro, Claves)
Bigga Morrison (Organ [Hammond], Clavinet)
Amadito Valdes (Timbales)
Dee Nasty (Scratching) - 5
Pedro Depestre (Violin) - 3
Pee Wee Ellis (Tenor Saxophone, Hammond Organ) - 10
Ibrahim Ferrer (Vocals) - 10
Juan de Marcos Gonzales (Tres) - 10
Rafael Jenks (Tenor Saxophone) - 6
Hugh Masakela (Flugelhorn) - 8
Yaure Muniz (Trumpet) - 7
Johnny Neptumo (Tres) - 9
Jesus Ramos (Trombone) - 2,8
Policarpo Tamayo (Flute) - 2,7
Si Burwell (Keyboards) - 7
Jose Castaneda (Tres) - 11
Junior Dan (Bass Guitar) - 3,8
Roberto Fonseca (Piano) - 12
Tony Remy (Electric Guitar) - 11
Filiberto Sanchez (Bongos) - 11
Javier Zalba (Baritone Saxophone) - 12

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Little Axe - The Wolf That House Built

Technically this is an Epic release, but those in the know will see Adrian Sherwood listed as producer and Skip McDonald as sole performer and understand immediately: in all but name, this is an On-U Sound production. What does that mean? It means that groove will be primary, words secondary, and overall sound will be dark and thrilling; it means that weird samples will bubble up unpredictably from beneath churning funk and reggae rhythms; and it means that a certain degree of dubwise anarchy will infuse every note. What distinguishes this album from other On-U projects is the raw material: whereas an On-U Sound album generally builds on a reggae foundation, Skip McDonald's background is in the blues, and what he has put together here is a tribute to Howling Wolf. This is a roiling pastiche of samples taken from Wolf's singing and speaking, all of them thrown into a stew of funk and reggae beats and interspersed with McDonald's own multi-tracked vocals (which will sound very familiar to fans of Tackhead and Strange Parcels, both of which were founded by him). It's hard to identify highlights here, but some of the album's especially strong moments come during "Ride On," which samples Howling Wolf's discussions of life on the road, and the primarily instrumental "Out in the Rain and Cold." Exquisite. - by Rick Anderson, AMG 

Artist: Little Axe
Album: The Wolf That House Built
Year: 1994
Label: Wired
Runtime: 63:27

1.  Ride On (Fight On) (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 5:24
2.  The Time Has Come (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood / Doug Wimbish) 5:05
3.  Out in the Rain and Cold (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood / Doug Wimbish) 4:35
4.  Back to the Crossroads (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 6:37
5.  Never Turn Back, Pts. 1 & 2 (A. Lomax / Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 7:21
6.  Another Sinful Day (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 4:05
7.  Crossfire (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 4:29
8.  Wolf's Story (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 4:20
9.  Hear My Cry (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood / Doug Wimbish) 7:00
10.  Dayton (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 6:10
11.  Falling Down (Bernard Alexander) 4:26
12.  Wake the Town (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 3:55

Bernard Alexander (aka Little Axe, Skip McDonald) (Guitar, Vocals, Keyboard, Bass and Programming)
Doug Wimbish (Bass Guitar)
Keith Leblanc (Drums)
Talvin Singh (Tablas and Percussion)
Kevin Gibbs (Vocals)
Saz Bell (Vocals)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yusef Lateef - The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef

On The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef, Riverside seems eager to present Yusef Lateef, technical virtuoso, on a series of songs that step closer to jazz tradition than any of his work in the recent past. Largely absent are Lateef's experiments with Eastern modes, rhythms, and instrumentation, and in their place is a collection of largely upbeat, accessible songs, with a balanced mix of standards and originals. Much of the introspective, personal quality of his previous albums seems lost in the effort, but Lateef's playing still remains stellar, especially on oboe. That instrument, which is by nature soft and muted, is given enough power by Lateef to lead on several songs, most beautifully on "Salt Water Blues," where its naturally melancholy sound seems perfectly matched with the low, rounded tones of Lateef's rhythm section, especially Ron Carter's bowed cello. The quintet also shines on the following track, Joe Zawinul's "Lateef Minor 7th," where they provide a gentle counterpoint to Lateef's sweet flute line. Not quite as expansive or daring as much of Lateef's other recordings, The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef still documents a fine musician at work during the peak of his career. - by Stacia Proefock, AMG

Artist: Yusef Lateef
Album: The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef
Year: 1960
Label: OJC (Remastered, 1992)
Runtime: 42:21

1.  Goin' Home (Antonin Dvorák/Mark Fisher) 5:04
2.  I'm Just a Lucky So and So (Mack David/Duke Ellington) 4:39
3.  Quarantine (Abe Woodley) 7:03
4.  From Within (Yusef Lateef) 4:14
5.  Salt Water Blues (Yusef Lateef) 6:50
6.  Lateef Minor 7th (Joe Zawinul) 5:01
7.  Adoration (Yusef Lateef) 4:34
8.  Ma (He's Making Eyes at Me) (Sidney Clare/Con Conrad) 4:56

Yusef Lateef (Tenor Saxophone, Oboe, Flute)
Ron Carter (Cello) - 1,2,4-7
Hugh Lawson (Piano, Celeste)
Herman Wright (Double Bass)
Lex Humphries (Drums, Tympany)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Arto Lindsay - Noon Chill

This disc proves the adage that you shouldn't judge a book (or CD) by its cover: beneath a blurry and daunting photo of Lindsay as a soggy frogman, the more adventurous buyer will discover hypnotic rhythms and enigmatic lyrics. While Lindsay's voice is thin (and sometimes flat), his narcotic delivery is nicely suited to the pictures he paints. Check out the Brazilian flavors of "Simply Are" or the trance groove of "Ridiculously Deep," and you'll hear why this cult favorite has won the admiration (and guest appearances) of musicians like Nana Vanconcelos, Mitchell Froom, Peter Scherer and others. So put the cover away and let your ears be the judge. - by Tim Sheridan, AMG

Apart from the brief guitar freak-out on "Anything" and the hungover New Orleans brass-band feel of "Gods Are Weak," Noon Chill mostly sees [Arto] Lindsay wondering aloud about what make-out music might sound like in a future in which thin wrists are sexy and jungle rhythms, ambient detachment, and global fusion are taken for granted. The result sounds like an existential Sergio Mendes with his female chorus replaced by Future Sound of London’s electronic pulsations. Indeed, Lindsay’s occasionally stilted language makes Noon Chill often sound like he’s updating the bossa nova of his Brazilian childhood for urban neurotics too self-aware to utter a cheese pick-up line at the beach. In other words, Arto Lindsay is a lounge lizard even 99-pound weaklings can believe in. -- Spin Magazine

Artist: Arto Lindsay
Album: Noon Chill
Year: 1998
Label: For Life
Runtime: 44.27

1.  Noon Chill (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 3:35
2.  Whirlwind (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 4:40
3.  Simply Are (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Davi Moraes / Marisa Monte) 3:40
4.  Blue Eye Shadow (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 3:28
5.  Mulata Fuzarqueira (Noel Rosa) 3:06
6.  Ridiculously Deep (Arto Lindsay / Vinicius Cantuaria / Melvin Gibbs) 4:08
7.  Anything (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs / Sussan Deyhim) 4:25
8.  Gods Are Weak (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 2:36
9.  Take My Place (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 4:14
10.  Daily Life (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 1:31
11.  Light Moves Away (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 3:24
12.  Why Compare (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs / Lucas Santana) 3:34
13.  Auguri (Arto Lindsay / Davi Moraes / Marisa Monte) 2:06

Arto Lindsay (Vocals, Guitar)
Davi Moraes (Acoustic Guitar, Surdo)
Melvin Gibbs (Bass, Surdo, Acoustic Guitar, Programmed, Keyboards)
Andres Levin (Programmed, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Keyboards)
Nana Vasconcelos (Repinique, Pandeiro, Congas, Shaker, Surdo, Cymbal, Percussion)
Marty Ehrlich (Bass Clarinet)
Ravi Best (Cornet, Trumpet)
Vincent Chancey (French Horn)
Joshua Roseman (Trombone)
Ryuichi Sakamoto (Piano [Prepared], Keyboards, Piano) - 3-5,7,12
Peter Scherer (Sampler, Piano) - 1-3,9,10,13
Sussan Deyhim (Vocals) - 7,12
Gustavo de Dalva (Atabaque, Agogo, Shakers) - 11
Fernanda Torres (Voice) - 11
Mitchell Froom (Claviola) - 5
Vinicius Cantuaria (Acoustic Guitar) - 6


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