Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bugge Wesseltoft - New Conception of Jazz

Within the framework of his project New Conception of Jazz, Bugge successfully fused elements of jazz, house, techno, ambient, noise and free improvisation. This sound has been referred to as Future Jazz. In addition to grand piano and Fender Rhodes, Bugge uses different keyboards, percussion instruments, samplers, programming devices, and vocal effects, both in live performances and in studio recordings. For the studio recording of New Conception of Jazz (recorded in 1994), the first album from this project, Bugge gathered an impressive crew from some of the best new talent in Norwegian jazz: Ingebrigt Flaten (bass), Anders Engen (drums), Vidar Johansen (reeds), Eivind Aarset (guitar), Bjorn Kjellemyr (bass), Rune Arnesen (drums), Nils Petter Molvaer (trumpet). The recording took place during three sessions during a single week. The musicians followed schemes and notes written by Bugge, but in fact most of it was improvised. The resulting sounds were then mixed and edited by Bugge. The CD was released in 1996 by Jazzland. Playing with musicians as part of an improvising collective is an important aspect of this project, and Bugge has stated that he will always take this approach, in the studio or on the live stage. The first concert took place in Bergen at the NattJazz Festival in May that same year. The line-up was: Bugge (Fender Rhodes, Prophet 5 and looping), Ingebrigt Flaten (bass), Anders Engen (drums), Eivind Aarset (guitar, effects), Erlend Gjerde (trumpet), and Vidar Johansen (tenor/soprano sax and bass clarinet). - From Bugge's website

Artist: Bugge Wesseltoft
Album: New Conception of Jazz
Year: 1996
Label: Jazzland Records
Runtime: 56:37

Tracks:
1.  Somewhere in Between 4:48
2.  New Conception of Jazz 5:10
3.  Spectre Supreme 5:52
4.  Trouble 4:58
5.  New Conception of Jazz 2 7:19
6.  Trio 7:01
7.  Poem 6:52
8.  My Street 5:35
9.  Modular 6:42
10.  Endless 2:20
All compositions by Bugge Wesseltoft

Personnel:
Bugge Wesseltoft (Electronics, Vocals, El. Piano, Sythesizer, Piano, Percussion, Hammond Organ)
Vidar Johansen (Bass Clarinet and Tenor Saxophon) - 1-5,7,9,10
Trude Eick (Waldhorn) - 1-3,5,7,9
Ingebrigt Flaten (Double Bass) - 1,4,5
Anders Engen (Drums) - 1,4,5
Jens Petter Atonsen (Trumpet) - 2,3,9
Bjorn Kjellemyr (Double Bass and Bass Guitar) - 6,8,9
Rune Arnesen (Drums) - 6,8,9
Sjur Miljeteig (Trumpet) - 1,5
Sveinung Hovensje (Bass Guitar) - 7,10
Audun Kleive (Drums and Electronics) - 3
Eivind Aarseth (Guitar) - 4
Erlend Gjerde (Trumpet) - 4
Nils Petter Molvaer (Trumpet) - 7
Michy (Vocals) - 8

Monday, March 26, 2018

James Blood Ulmer - Blues Preacher

This effort from controversial guitarist James "Blood" Ulmer sticks to a harsh blues-rock groove, with many of the one-chord vamps sounding like they are leftovers from John Lee Hooker's repertoire. There are no harmolodics (and little jazz) to be heard on the CD, and this rather primitive music is to be recommended only to fans of Ulmer's shouting vocals. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

The former accolyte of free-jazz greats like Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra shows that he can also follow Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed, in one of the earliest of his long string of intense straight blues albums. Electric guitar is unusual in experimental jazz, but Blood's guitar work (and writing)is a bit unusual anywhere. I do detect some Jimmy Rogers influence in spots, and maybe some jazzier Texans like Gatemouth Brown. I like him, but it might be an acquired taste. Jazz is the teacher/Funk is the preacher. by- Mark Schlezinger, Amazon.com

Artist: James Blood Ulmer
Album: Blues Preacher
Year: 1993
Label: Diw Records
Recorded at the Sound on Sound Studios, New York City, USA (September-November, 1993)

Tracks:
1.  Cheering 6:45 
2.  Alone To Wonder 6:17 
3.  Let Me Take You Home 5:15 
4.  Who Let The Cat Out Of The Bag? 4:37 
5.  Jazz Is The Teacher 6:45 
6.  Justice For Us All 5:05 
7.  Nobody But You 5:40 
8.  Blues Alnight 6:30 
9.  Get Up 7:35 
10.  Angel 7:05 
All music by James Blood Ulmer

Personnel:
James Blood Ulmer (Electric Guitar, Flute, Vocals)
Aubrey Dayle (Drums)
Mark Peterson (Electric Bass)
Ronald "Head" Drayton (Electric Guitar)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Kari Bremnes - You'd Have To Be Here

Some say this album has more impact than Norwegian mood, others say it is a project to itself, We say This is a Kari Bremnes album just as she is, the ability of interpreting life with her songs and life is as diverse as it comes! I like the rock guitar every now and than, I adore her voice and love these lyrics. The music is for everybody and yet in order to understand you must have lived a bit. - Music Choise.com

Kari Bremnes will live up to her reputation as Norwegian Joni Mitchell at the 13th album. Like her US colleague, the singer and songwriter from the Lofoten Island once again infatuates with beautiful melodies, intense emotions and verse lines full of language skills. For ten of her own compositions and an adaptation of Sandy Dennis's classic "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" she has created a melancholy-brittle folk rock with companions such as trumpeter Nils Petter Molvar, as he can come in the color only from the far north. As soon as these wistful sounds resound, the listener inevitably sees fjords passing through the skies of Midsummer Night and Polar Lights. For the second English-language album (after Norwegian Mood, 2000) Kari Bremne has translated more recent songs from her home idiom. Although some intellectual refinements and metaphors fell by the wayside, the Scandinavian woman is still fascinated by very rich text ideas. For example, in "Protection" she ponders over the security of childhood, which one painfully misses as an adult. "I See You" tells the story of a couple whose love has crept over the years. In the title track "You'd Have To Be Here" we meet a woman who wants to share everything in life with her loved one, before the transience of earthly existence strikes mercilessly. And in the song "Can It Really Be Years", it's all about unfulfilled dreams, unfulfilled life plans. All this gives Bremnes an expressiveness that is second to none, not only in Europe. - by Harald Kepler, Amazon.de

Artist: Kari Bremnes
Album: You'd Have To Be Here
Year: 2003
Label: Strange Ways Records
Runtime: 42:42

Tracks:
1.  You'd Have To Be There (Kari Bremnes) 4:19
2.  Protection (Kari Bremnes) 3:45
3.  Can It Really Be Years (Kari Bremnes) 4:16
4.  Zarepta (Kari Bremnes/Petter Henriksen) 3:53
5.  A Fantastic Time Already (Kari Bremnes) 3:52
6.  Full Control (Kari Bremnes) 4:18
7.  I See You (Kari Bremnes) 2:23
8.  I Would Like To Go (Kari Bremnes) 4:13
9.  Waltz (Kari Bremnes) 3:54
10.  Look Homeward, Angel (Kari Bremnes) 3:26
11.  Who Knows Where The Time Goes (Sandy Denny) 4:23

Personnel:
Kari Bremnes (Vocals)
Nils Petter Molvaer (Trumpet)
Bengt Hanssen (Keyboards)
Borge Petersen-Overleir (Guitar)
Gjermund Silset (Double Bass)
Arnfinn Bergrabb (Drums)
Stig-Ove Ose (Viola)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Kari Bremnes - Norwegian Mood

What's one of the biggest preconceptions ageing audiophiles drag in their tattered shadows? That all they listen to is female Jazz vocalists, the sexier in the flesh the better. Depending on the year, there'll be different names detractors point to as the over-played, musically undernourished hate object du jour. Norwegian super star Kari Bremnes' Norwegian Mood might eventually gain this questionable status if audiophiles, en masse like lemmings, took the trouble to obtain this album and push it on every future CES demo imaginable. Until then, bookmark this release -- one of the few if not the only that has Kari sing in English -- as the quintessential audiophile wet dream of the new super-duper demo record. Everything aligns - production values, sound quality, compositional weight, instrumentation, arrangements, vocal glories, sophistication of delivery - and, may I add, the ubiquitous in-the-flesh beauty, too. In a way, I don't want to give away too much here to prevent the above scenario. What to say, what to leave out? Okay, here goes: We ain't talking Jazz, exactly - more an ECM Garbarek/Brahem Visible World/Pas du Chat Noir focus on stark atmospheres, moody spaciousness in accord with the craggy windswept coast lines of Norway, sea gulls on the wing, hidden coves, fishermen returning home from their nightly sojourns, lovers sailing off to the outer posts to return or not. These songs embody the kind of unfocused, far-reaching gaze of boat people used to endless horizons - mysterious, dreamy, unmoored. What to leave out? All the good stuff you should discover for yourself. With a harmless grin, let's just add that the well-hated "unholy trinity" of Patricia Barber, Diana Krall and Rebecca Pigeon just fleshed out and gained a new corner in Kari Bremnes. And unless you overplayed Mood to hollow its magic, this Norwegian lady might just become your new flame for now and later, until the fickleness of fate intervenes and presents a new contender to the temporary throne of popular applause. As for me? I intend to treat Kari with the respect she deserves and only visit her Copenhagen haunt just often enough to lust for more the next visit 'round... - by Srajan Ebaen, 6moons.com

Artist: Kari Bremnes
Album: Norwegian Mood
Year: 2000
Label: Kirkelig Kulturversted
Runtime: 52:13

Tracks:
1.  A Lover in Berlin (Kari Bremnes) 5:11
2.  Coastal Ship (Kari Bremnes/Petter Henriksen) 4:24
3.  Montreal (Kari Bremnes/Ola Bremnes) 5:45
4.  My Heart Is Pounding Like a Hammer (Kari Bremnes/Petter Henriksen) 3:23
5.  Birds (Ola Bremnes) 5:00
6.  Day (Kari Bremnes/Petter Henriksen) 5:34
7.  Wave on Rock (Kari Bremnes/Ola Bremnes/Lars Bremnes) 4:03
8.  The Copenhagen Cavern (Kari Bremnes) 4:28
9.  Song to a Town (Kari Bremnes/Ola Bremnes) 5:01
10.  Riddle Beside Another Riddle (Kari Bremnes) 5:40
11.  To Give You a Song (Kari Bremnes) 3:44

Personnel:
Bengt Egil Hanssen (Keyboards, Accordion, Organ, Piano, Backing Vocals)
Kari Bremnes (Vocals)
Gjermund Silseth (Double Bass, Bass Guitar)
Bjorn Jenssen (Drums)
Finn Sletten (Percussion)
Borge Petersen-Overleir (Guitar)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Grant Green - The Complete Quartets With Sonny Clark II

Just like rice and beans, Grant Green and Sonny Clark created a synergy that was more than the sum of its parts. Nowhere is that more apparent than on "The Complete Quartets," where there were no horns competing for solos. The elegant, laid-back style that characterizes these recordings was the one in which both Green and Clark seemed most comfortable, and it shows. Ironically, neither Green nor Clark was around to see any of this music released. Apparently due to Green's prodigious output in the early '60's, Blue Note decided to shelve these "less commercial" recordings in favor of his more groove-oriented soul-jazz material. The wrong was corrected in 1980, when "Nigeria," "Gooden's Corner," and "Oleo" were released, combining to contain all the music found here except for a couple alternates. My opinion is that these tunes swing as hard as anything I've heard, and that their appeal runs the gamut — there is nothing not to like. Green's delicious riffs flow from his guitar like water from a glacier, and the analogy of melting ice shouldn't be lost; the mood here is so "cool" it burns. This is the type of music whose implied swing is so ferocious it has you on the edge of your seat howling with ecstasy. The highlight of the first disc is Gershwin's chestnut "It Ain't Necessarily So," which clocks in as the longest of the set at 10:20. Drummer Art Blakey starts things off with a subtly Latin 12/8 groove as Green joins him and sympathetic bassist Sam Jones with a decidedly loose interpretation of the melody. Blakey kicks into a straight four rhythm as Green's guitar sails over the changes, accompanied by Sonny Clark's bluesy punches and full keyboard slides. Blakey, overcome with the irresistability of the music, starts hootin' and hollerin' as Clark takes his solo. Clark, like Green, is a master of understatement and uses this to full advantage by teasing the listener with half-finished motifs drenched with the blues. As he gets ready to turn the melody back over to Green, Blakey insists for him to continue - "No, go ahead, go ahead" - a revelatory glance into the atmosphere of the session. The immensely likeable playing is augmented by excellent song selection, with some standouts being a smokin' "The Song is You," "On Green Dolphin Street," Henri Mancini's "Moon River," "Tune Up," and a "My Favorite Things" that stays much truer to the heart of the tune than any of Coltrane's more impassioned renditions. Full of intuition, soul, and swing, and lacking in pretense, "The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark" has me asking myself"does music get any better than this?" - by Reid Thompson, AllAboutJazz.com

Artist: Grant Green
Album: The Complete Quartets With Sonny Clark I-II
Label: Blue Note Records (1999, SBM Reissue)
Year: 1961-1962
Runtime:
CD2 63:10

CD2 Tracks:
01.  Moon River (Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer) 5:34
02.  Gooden's Corner (Grant Green) 8:11
03.  Two For One (Grant Green) 7:38
04.  Oleo (Sonny Rollins) 5:35
05.  Little Girl Blue (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 7:12
06.  Tune Up (Miles Davis) 7:17
07.  Hip Funk (Grant Green) 8:35
08.  My Favourite Things (Oscar Hammerstein II/Richard Rodgers) 8:28
09.  Oleo (Alternate Take) (Sonny Rollins) 6:00

Personnel:
Grant Green (Guitar)
Sonny Clark (Piano)
Sam Jones (Double Bass)
Louis Hayes (Drums)

Grant Green - The Complete Quartets With Sonny Clark I

Just like rice and beans, Grant Green and Sonny Clark created a synergy that was more than the sum of its parts. Nowhere is that more apparent than on "The Complete Quartets," where there were no horns competing for solos. The elegant, laid-back style that characterizes these recordings was the one in which both Green and Clark seemed most comfortable, and it shows. Ironically, neither Green nor Clark was around to see any of this music released. Apparently due to Green's prodigious output in the early '60's, Blue Note decided to shelve these "less commercial" recordings in favor of his more groove-oriented soul-jazz material. The wrong was corrected in 1980, when "Nigeria," "Gooden's Corner," and "Oleo" were released, combining to contain all the music found here except for a couple alternates. My opinion is that these tunes swing as hard as anything I've heard, and that their appeal runs the gamut — there is nothing not to like. Green's delicious riffs flow from his guitar like water from a glacier, and the analogy of melting ice shouldn't be lost; the mood here is so "cool" it burns. This is the type of music whose implied swing is so ferocious it has you on the edge of your seat howling with ecstasy. The highlight of the first disc is Gershwin's chestnut "It Ain't Necessarily So," which clocks in as the longest of the set at 10:20. Drummer Art Blakey starts things off with a subtly Latin 12/8 groove as Green joins him and sympathetic bassist Sam Jones with a decidedly loose interpretation of the melody. Blakey kicks into a straight four rhythm as Green's guitar sails over the changes, accompanied by Sonny Clark's bluesy punches and full keyboard slides. Blakey, overcome with the irresistability of the music, starts hootin' and hollerin' as Clark takes his solo. Clark, like Green, is a master of understatement and uses this to full advantage by teasing the listener with half-finished motifs drenched with the blues. As he gets ready to turn the melody back over to Green, Blakey insists for him to continue - "No, go ahead, go ahead" - a revelatory glance into the atmosphere of the session. The immensely likeable playing is augmented by excellent song selection, with some standouts being a smokin' "The Song is You," "On Green Dolphin Street," Henri Mancini's "Moon River," "Tune Up," and a "My Favorite Things" that stays much truer to the heart of the tune than any of Coltrane's more impassioned renditions. Full of intuition, soul, and swing, and lacking in pretense, "The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark" has me asking myself"does music get any better than this?" - by Reid Thompson, AllAboutJazz.com

Artist: Grant Green
Album: The Complete Quartets With Sonny Clark I-II
Label: Blue Note Records (1999, SBM Reissue)
Year: 1961-1962
Runtime:
CD1 62:20

CD1 Tracks:
1.  Airegin (Sonny Rollins) 7:32
2.  It Ain't Necessarily So (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 10:20
3.  I Concentrate On You (Cole Porter)5:40
4.  The Things We Did Last Summer (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) 5:54
5.  The Song Is You (Oscar Hammerstein II/Jerome Kern) 7:44
6.  Nancy (With The Laughing Face) (James Van Heusen/Phil Silvers) 6:20
7.  Airegin (Alternate Take) (Sonny Rollins) 7:34
8.  On Green Dolphin Street (Bronislaw Kaper/Ned Washington) 6:25
9.  Shadrack (Robert MacGimsey) 6:20
10.  What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter) 5:49

Personnel:
Grant Green (Guitar)
Sonny Clark (Piano)
Sam Jones (Double Bass)
Art Blakey (Drums)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jan Garbarek - In Praise of Dreams

It has been six years since saxophonist/composer Jan Garbarek issued a new recording under his own name. For In Praise of Dreams Garbarek enlisted violist Kim Kashkashian and frequent collaborator Manu Katché on drums. Garbarek, who composed the album's 11 selections, plays saxophones as well as a host of keyboards and percussion, while Katché plays acoustic and electronic drums along with Kashkashian's viola. In many ways this is the most radical recording that Garbarek has ever issued, but not because it's outside -- quite the opposite. This is easily the warmest, most accessible outing Garbarek has ever issued because though there are no vocals, Garbarek has clearly written "songs" on this set, with identifiable structures that are followed almost throughout. Though he is no stranger to the form, having employed it almost continually for the last 20 years, he has never engaged it so thoroughly and completely. Previously, he has engaged improvisation to get song to the breaking point and move it somewhere else. Here it is always present; surprise happens inside the formal frameworks of these compositions. Beautiful, soulful lines underscore and recontextualize the saxophonist's trademark Nordic iciness of tone on the opener, "As Seen from Above," with its spiraling soprano, lush keyboards, and hypnotic loops. In its warmth, it comes very close to a distinctly European kind of groove/soul-jazz. The interplay between Kashkashian and Garbarek on the title track offers rounded, multidimensional sonorities winding through the intro before spilling into a call-and-response melody. The repetitive keyboard line and Katché's mantra-like drumming under the loops draw the listener inside the song's heart and extend the edge for the front line. The restrained romanticism shown by Kashkashian on her nocturnal solo intro to "One Goes There Alone" is nearly breathtaking. As it gives way to the tune itself, it's slow, reflective, and rooted deeply in the tension created between percussion and Garbarek's minimal backing response lines. When he solos later in the tune, he's clearly blowing blues into her elegiac line. The blues notion continues in his phrasing on "Knot of Place and Time," slipping through the landscape of Kashkashian's elegant, near heartbreakingly poetic soundscape. And so it goes. Things get more speculative on "Scene from Afar" and "Cloud of Unknowing," but it hardly matters since these song forms are nonetheless immediately recognizable, presenting the nether side of the equation. It emerges again with "Conversation With a Stone" and whispers to a close with "A Tale Begun," a mantra-like duet that closes this strong set that will undoubtedly, if it gets the opportunity to be heard, garner Jan Garbarek some new fans. Poetic, moving, and marvelous, In Praise of Dreams is a welcome return. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Jan Garbarek
Album: In Praise of Dreams
Year: 2004
Label: ECM
Runtime: 52:25
Recorded at the Blue Jay Recording Studio (Carlisle, USA, 2003)) 

Tracks:
1.  As Seen From Above 4:44 
2.  In Praise Of Dreams 5:25 
3.  One Goes There Alone 5:09 
4.  Knot Of Place And Time 6:27 
5.  If You Go Far Enough 0:44 
6.  Scene From Afar 5:19 
7.  Cloud Of Unknowing 5:26 
8.  Without A Visible Sign 5:04 
9.  Iceburn 5:03 
10.  Conversation With A Stone 4:25 
11.  A Tale Begun 4:39 
All music by Jan Garbarek

Personnel:
Jan Garbarek (Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Synthesizer, Percussion)
Kim Kashkashian (Viola)
Manu Katche (Drums, Loops)

Monday, January 22, 2018

Grant Green - Talkin' About!

On the heels of Matador and Solid, two of his most advanced albums, Grant Green decided to continue the more modal direction he'd begun pursuing with the help of members of Coltrane's quartet. Accordingly, he hooked up with organist Larry Young, who was just beginning to come into his own as the first Hammond B-3 player to incorporate Coltrane's modal innovations into his own style. Talkin' About is the first of three albums the Green/Young team recorded together with Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones, and it's exceptional, one of the most underrated items in Green's discography. With just a basic organ trio lineup, the album works a fascinating middle ground between the soul-jazz of Green's early days and the modal flavor of his most recent work. Though Young's style wasn't quite fully formed yet, he's no longer the in-the-pocket Jimmy Smith disciple of his earliest sessions; his playing here is far more adventurous than the typical soul-jazz date, both harmonically and rhythmically. Jones and Young often play off one another to create an intricate, percolating pulse that's miles ahead of the standard soul-jazz groove. The trio's interplay is best showcased on Young's Coltrane tribute, "Talkin' About J.C.," a monster jam that's worth every one of its nearly 12 minutes, and the cheerful "I'm an Old Cowhand," popularized as a jazz tune by Sonny Rollins. Meanwhile, Young and Green positively shimmer together on the ballad numbers, "People" and "You Don't Know What Love Is." It all makes for a terrific album that ranks in Green's uppermost echelon. - by Steve Huey, AMG

Artist: Grant Green
Album: Talkin' About!
Year: 1964
Label: Blue Note Records (24bit remastered, 1999)
Recorded at the Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliff, NJ, USA (09.11.1964)

Tracks:
1.  Talkin' About J.C. (Larry Young) 11:45
2.  People (Bob Merrill/Jule Styne) 7:28
3.  Luny Tune (Larry Young) 7:43
4.  You Don't Know What Love Is (Gene DePaul/Don Raye) 7:38
5.  I'm an Old Cowhand (Johnny Mercer) 6:31

Personnel:
Grant Green (Guitar)
Larry Young (Organ)
Elvin Jones (Drums)

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