Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dave Brubeck - Brubeck Plays Brubeck

Dave Brubeck has had a strikingly original style ever since he appeared on records, avoiding the usual Bud Powell runs and instead expressing his training in classical music and his interest in polyrhythms and polytonality while never forgetting to swing. On his first solo piano record, Brubeck not only plays quite well but introduces such new compositions as "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "One Moment Worth Years" in addition to performing a remake of "The Duke." - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Dave Brubeck
Album: Brubeck Plays Brubeck
Year: 1956
Label: Columbia (20 Bit Remastered, 1998)
Runtime: 36:06

1.  Swing Bells 3:39
2.  Walkin' Line 2:47
3.  In Your Own Sweet Way 5:01
4.  Two-Part Contention 5:39
5.  Weep No More 3:59
6.  The Duke 2:54
7.  When I Was Young 3:19
8.  One Moment Worth Years 4:55
9.  The Waltz 3:49
All compositions by Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck (Piano)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Oscar Peterson - A Summer Night In Munich

A Summer Night in Munich captures Oscar Peterson and his "NATO quartet" in a triumphant concert performance recorded July 22, 1998 at the Munchen Philharmonika. With a program of seven Peterson originals plus the Ellington-Strayhorn standard, "Satin Doll," this group cooks. "Backyard Blues" and "Nigerian Marketplace" are especially exciting and contemporary-sounding originals, while "When Summer Comes," "Evening Song" and "Love Ballade" are beautiful ballads. Bassist Niels-Henning Oersted Pedersen lays down the nimble-fingered lines for which he is known, while guitarist Ulf Wakenius is a most complementary figure in dialogue with the leader. Drummer Martin Drew keeps the proceedings on track rhythmically, taking a tasty solo turn on the set closer, "Sushi." With this fine recording, Peterson shows that even in his seventies, he's still got the goods. - by Jim Newsom, AMG

Artist: Oscar Peterson
Album: A Summer Night in Munich
Year: 1998
Label: Telarc Jazz
Runtime: 64:09

1.  Backyard Blues (Oscar Peterson) 7:06
2.  When Summer Comes (Oscar Peterson) 9:16
3.  Nigerian Marketplace (Oscar Peterson) 9:46
4.  Evening Song (Oscar Peterson) 6:24
5.  Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) 8:31
6.  Love Ballade (Oscar Peterson) 8:58
7.  Hymn to Freedom (Oscar Peterson) 6:00
8.  Sushi (Oscar Peterson) 8:04

Oscar Peterson (Piano)
Ulf Wakenius (Guitar)
Niels Henning Oersted-Pedersen (Double Bass)
Martin Drew (Drums)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Johnny Cash - American III: Solitary Men

The Man in Black shows hints of gray on American III: Solitary Man, his first studio album since being interrupted by a series of serious illnesses in 1997. While the inevitability of aging has been the downfall of many of his contemporaries, Johnny Cash's dark convictions and powerful presence have gone from rough hardwood to solid stone. The stark beauty of his 1994 release American Recordings and the warm, friendly collaborations on 1996's Unchained combine to create two distinct moods: one of living-room jam sessions with invited friends, and another of stark solo (and near-solo) songs highlighting Cash's years and stories. Partnering once again with Tom Petty, the two join together on Petty's own "I Won't Back Down" and the Neil Diamond-penned title track. Cash also lays his lonesome hands on U2's "One" and reunites with fellow outlaw Merle Haggard on the stubborn "I'm Leavin' Now." These duets and well-known covers show an inviting side of Johnny Cash. But the real highlights of the album are those reminiscent of his American Recordings songs; they feature just the man and his guitar, with nothing else to clutter the story. The creaks and despair of the vaudeville song "Nobody" tell of a man who has become hardened by his solitude, while the Palace hymn "I See a Darkness" soars with the passion of a thousand gospel choirs, even though there are only two men singing. Although at times it is difficult to hear past Tom Petty's growl or Sheryl Crow's young harmonies in the more popular songs Cash covers, these obscure prison songs and country ballads sound as honest and heartfelt as his own compositions. At age 68, his warm baritone may waver but his passion never does. - by Zac Johnson, AMG

Artist: Johnny Cash
Album: American Recordings III: Solitary Man
Year: 2000
Label: Universal
Runtime: 42:13

1.  I Won't Back Down (Jeff Lynne/Tom Petty) 2:09
2.  Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) 2:25
3.  That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day) (Harry Beasley Smith/Haven Gillespie) 2:36
4.  One (Adam Clayton/Bono/Larry Mullen, Jr./The Edge) 3:53
5.  Nobody (Egbert Williams) 3:14
6.  I See A Darkness (Will Oldham) 3:42
7.  The Mercy Seat (Mick Harvey/Nick Cave) 4:35
8.  Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone) (David Allan Coe) 2:41
9.  Field Of Diamonds (Jack Routh/Johnny Cash) 3:16
10.  Before My Time (Johnny Cash) 2:55
11.  Country Trash (Johnny Cash) 1:48
12.  Mary Of The Wild Moor (Dennis Turner) 2:32
13.  I'm Leavin' Now (Johnny Cash) 3:07
14.  Wayfaring Stranger (Traditional) 3:20

Johnny Cash (Vocals, Guitar)
Norman Blake (Guitar)
Mike Campbell (Guitar)
Marty Stuart (Guitar)
Benmont Tench (Piano, Organ, Harmonium)
Laura Cash (Fiddle)
Merle Haggard (Guitar, Vocals)
Larry Perkins (Guitar)
Randy Scruggs (Guitar)
Sheryl Crow (Accordion, Vocals) - 9,12,14
Tom Petty (Guitar, Organ) - 1,2
June Carter Cash (Vocals) - 9
Will Oldham (Vocals) - 6

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


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