Monday, April 13, 2015

Lee Konitz - Another Shade of Blue

This follow up to an earlier CD (Alone Together) with Brad Mehldau and Charlie Haden took place exactly one year later at the same venue, L.A.'s Jazz Bakery. Like the first release, the trio takes their time exploring each tune, whether it's the leader's opening blues or a favorite ballad like "What's New" or "Body and Soul." This stimulating set is highly recommended! - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Lee Konitz
Album: Another Shade of Blue (Live at Jazz Bakery)
Year: 1997
Label: Blue Note (1999)
Runtime: 67:51

1.  Another Shade Of Blue (Lee Konitz) 10:49
2.  Everything Happens To Me (Johnny Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael) 12:17
3.  What's New (Johnny Burke/Bob Haggart) 15:49
4.  Body and Soul (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour) 17:30
5.  All Of Us (Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden) 11:24

Lee Konitz (Alto Saxophone)
Brad Mehldau (Piano)
Charlie Haden (Double Bass)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lou Donaldson - The Scorpion (Live at the Cadillac Club)

This previously unreleased live set, which has been issued on Blue Note's Rare Groove Series, will bore anyone who listens closely. The repertoire is dominated by lengthy funk grooves that are quite danceable but never develop beyond the obvious. Altoist Lou Donaldson was using a baritone horn at the time that gave him a generic and unappealing tone, the obscure trumpeter Fred Ballard does his best to no avail and the enthusiastic rhythm section (guitarist Melvin Sparks, organist Leon Spencer, Jr., and drummer Idris Muhammad) keeps the grooves repetitious. Bob Porter's liner notes (which colorfully give readers the history of Newark jazz of the past 30 years) are superlative but, even with the inclusion of a fast blues, musically nothing much happens. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Lou Donaldson
Album: The Scorpion - Live at the Cadillac Club
Year: 1970
Label: Blue Note (1995)
Runtime: 46:32

1.  The Scorpion (Leon Spencer) 10:47
2.  Laura (David Raksin) 5:55
3.  Alligator Boogalooo (Lou Donaldson) 13:15
4.  The Masquerade Is Over (Herbert Magidson/Allie Wrubel) 4:15
5.  Peepin' (Lonnie Smith) 5:30
6.  Footpattin' Time (Lou Donaldson) 6:50

Lou Donaldson (Alto Saxophone)
Idris Muhammad (Drums)
Melvin Sparks (Guitar)
Leon Spencer (Organ)
Fred Ballard (Trumpet)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Milt Jackson & Sonny Stitt - In the Beginning

This is a very interesting CD, particularly for bop collectors, since it contains very rare early performances by altoist Sonny Stitt and vibraphonist Milt Jackson; some of the titles were originally under trumpeter Russell Jacquet's name. There are eight songs by a quintet with Stitt, Jacquet and pianist Sir Charles Thompson, what could be considered the first Modern Jazz Quartet records (actually a quintet with Milt Jackson, pianist John Lewis, drummer Kenny Clarke, bassist Al Jackson and Chano Pozo on congas) and five songs from a septet with Jacquet, Stitt, trombonist J.J. Johnson and baritonist Leo Parker. Recorded in Detroit for the tiny Galaxy label, these performances are not essential but they do give listeners an early glimpse at the future stars. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Milt Jackson & Sonny Stitt
album: In the Beginning
Year: 1948 (Galaxy)
label: OJC (digital remastering, 1991)
Runtime: 43:30

1.  Body and Soul (Frank Eyton/Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour) 2:24
2.  3rd Song (Silver Slipper) (Sonny Stitt) 2:19
3.  Red Shoes (Sonny Stitt) 2:22
4.  Be Bop Blues (Sonny Stitt) 2:15
5.  Royal Wedding (Sonny Stitt) 2:28
6.  Fine and Dandy (Paul James/Kay Swift) 2:24
7.  Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish) 2:18
8.  Ratio And Proportion (Sonny Stitt) 2:17
9.  Slits (Milt Jackson) 2:36
10.  Baggy Eyes (Milt Jackson) 2:27
11.  In A Beautiful Mood (Milt Jackson) 3:00
12.  Baggy's Blues (Milt Jackson) 2:44
13.  Suade Jacket (Russell Jacquet/J.J. Johnson) 2:57
14.  Suade Jacket Alt. Take (Russell Jacquet/J.J. Johnson) 2:53
15.  Lion's Roar (Russell Jacquet) 2:52
16.  Scamper Roo (Russell Jacquet/J.J. Johnson) 2:53
17.  Relaxin' (Russell Jacquet/Sonny Stitt) 2:14

Sonny Stitt (Alto Saxophone)
Milt Jackson (Vibraphone) - 9-12
Russell Jacquet (Trumpet) - 1-7,13-17
Charles Thompson (Piano) - 1-8,13-17
John Lewis (Piano) - 9-12
Al Jackson (Double Bass) - 9-12
Kenny Clarke (Drums) - 9-12
Chano Pozo (Conga) - 9-12

Monday, March 23, 2015

Herbie Mann - The Beat Goes On

Herbie Mann was quite unpredictable in the 1960s -- from one album to the next, you never knew if he would embrace hard bop, bossa nova, Latin jazz, soul-jazz, or whatever else he was in the mood for. He could be commercial one minute, esoteric and experimental the next. One of Mann's more commercial LPs from that period, The Beat Goes On, is a generally funky, groove-oriented soul-jazz effort with strong Latin leanings. Much of the material brings to mind Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, and comparisons to Pucho are unavoidable on cuts that range from Mann's "More Rice Than Peas, Please" to a version of Sonny & Cher's "The Beat Goes On" and a Latin boogaloo interpretation of Joe Liggins' "The Honeydripper" (which features King Curtis on tenor sax). Afro-Cuban rhythms are a high priority, although Mann gets into more of a bossa nova groove on vibist Dave Pike's "Dream Garden." Jazz purists hated this release, but let them say what they will -- this LP is full of highly infectious grooves and makes a great party album. Regrettably, The Beat Goes On has long been out of print -- so if you're a lover of Latin-flavored soul-jazz and come across a copy somewhere, grab it immediately. - by Alex Henderson, AMG

Artist: Herbie Mann
Album: The Beat Goes On
Year: 1967 (Atlantic)
Label: WEA Japan (24bit remastered, 2014)
Runtime: 31:12

1.  No Matter What Shape (Granville Burland) 3:25
2.  More Rice Than Peas, Please (Herbie Mann) 3:30
3.  Hey Ho (Herbie Hancock) 2:45
4.  The Honeydripper (Joe Liggins) 2:45
5.  The Beat Goes On (Sonny Bono) 2:50
6.  Swingin´ Shepherd Blues (Kenny Jacobson/Moe Koffman/Rhoda Roberts) 3:05
7.  West African High Life (Herbie Mann) 2:40
8.  Dream Garden (Dave Pike) 4:37
9.  Soul Montuno (Rene Hernandez) 2:58
10.  Is Paris Burning? (Maurice Jarre) 2:37

Herbie Mann (Flute)
Reggie Workman (Bass) - 1-7,9,10
Carlos "Patato" Valdes (Congas) - 1-7,9,10
Bruno Carr (Drums) - 1-7,9,10
Jimmy Wisner (Piano) - 1-7,9,10
Roy Ayers (Vibraphone) - 1-7,9,10
Jack Six (Bass) - 8
Bobby Thomas (Drums) - 8
Attila Zoller (Guitar) - 8
Don Friedman (Piano) - 8
King Curtis (Tenor Saxophone) - 4
Clark Terry (Trumpet) - 7

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Barb Jungr - Waterloo Sunset

With her previous three albums, Barb Jungr had already proved herself one of Britain's most engrossing cabaret singers and one of the most adroit song interpreters in modern vocal pop, and Waterloo Sunset does nothing to alter or diminish that assessment. It does feel like a small step backward in terms of content after the all-Bob Dylan program of Every Grain of Sand, but it is certainly not a step down in quality and intelligence of performance. In fact, it is a return to the interpretive eclecticism of Bare, with its dramatic overhauls of pop tunes (in effect, similar to her contemporary Cassandra Wilson, if not in style) by the Everly Brothers, Leon Russell, and Richard Thompson (a masterful, almost art song "The Great Valerio"), among others, intermingled with a few of Jungr's own delightful originals. It might even be thought of as a dressed-up version of that album, nowhere more evident than in the Ray Davies-penned title tune. The stripped-down take from Bare is damaged, lonely, movingly reflective; the reimagined version of "Waterloo Sunset" is wistful, sure, but also bluesy, impregnable, rounding the corner toward sanguinity. That this Brit Invasion song sounds perfectly fluent and fluid coming after the Tin Pan Alley jazz chestnut "Laugh Clowns Laugh" says much about the caliber of the writing, of course, but also about how Jungr is able to locate and explore the je ne sais quoi of a composition, what is both ageless and new, unknown, what connects even as it perplexes. The album sustains this inquisitive mood, plowing into emotions that lurk beneath façades, like the enigmatic clowns and jesters that dance through the lyrics, and finally bubbling over on the marvelous concluding rehabilitation of Steve Miller's "The Joker," in which a crass come-on is transformed into an effusive flirtation. It's something to behold. Jungr had not quite gotten Mr. Zimmerman out of her blood either, so fans of Every Grain of Sand have a couple more Dylan treats in store with versions of the classic "Like a Rolling Stone" and the more recent Love and Theft track "High Water (For Charley Patton)." Calum Malcolm again produces beautifully, employing a carnival of colors and textures; the entirely new backing band is crackerjack throughout, breezing through music hall, cocktail jazz, bossa nova, and Western swing with the equal panache. - by Stanton Swihart, AMG

Artist: Barb Jungr
Album: Waterloo Sunset
Year: 2003
Label: Linn Records
Runtime: 54:37

1.  Do You Play Guitar? (Barb Jungr/Adrian York) 3:53
2.  High Water for Charlie Patton (Bob Dylan) 5:49
3.  Cathy's Clown (Everly Brothers) 3:35
4.  This Masquerade (Leon Russell) 5:09
5.  The Great Valerio (Richard Thompson) 3:49
6.  When Do The Bells Ring For Me? (Charles De Forest) 2:54
7.  Written in the Dark Again (Christine Collister/Barb Jungr) 5:26
8.  Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan) 6:03
9.  Lipstick Lips Lament (Russell Churney/Barb Jungr) 4:22
10.  Laugh Clown Laugh (Fiorito/Sam M. Lewis/Joe Young) 3:30
11.  Waterloo Sunset (Ray Davies) 4:32
12.  The Joker (Ahmet Ertegun/Eddie Curtis/Steve Miller) 5:35

Barb Jungr (Vocals)
Geoff Gascogne (Double Bass)
Nic France (Drums)
Matt Backer (Guitar)
Adrian York (Piano)
Stuart Hall (Violin) - 5

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lonnie Johnson - Another Night To Cry

Lonnie Johnson, a talented vocalist and guitarist who chose to spend much of his life playing blues (although in the 1920s he recorded with some of the top jazz stars), had his fifth recording for Prestige/Bluesville (a solo set) reissued on this CD. "Blues After Hours" is an instrumental that shows off his jazz roots and many of the 11 songs (all of which are Johnson originals) have spots for his guitar. Since there is only around 34 minutes on this set (which could have been combined on one CD with the music from another LP) and none of the individual songs even reach four minutes, this is not one of the more essential Lonnie Johnson releases but it does have its strong moments.- by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Lonnie Johnson
Album: Another Night to Cry
Year: 1962 (Bluesville)
Label: OBC (1992)
Runtime: 34:45

1.  Another Night To Cry 3:19
2.  I Got News For You, Baby 3:15
3.  Blues After Hours 3:27
4.  You Didn't Mean What You Said 3:46
5.  Fine Booze And Heavy Dues 3:05
6.  I've Got To Get Rid Of You 2:37
7.  Bow Legged Baby 2:46
8.  Make Love To Me, Baby 2:54
9.  Lots Of Loving 2:47
10.  A Story About Barbara 3:18
11.  Goodbye Kitten 3:26
All songs by Lonnie Johnson

Lonnie Johnson (Vocals, Guitar)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Keith Jarrett Trio - Bye Bye Blackbird

This is the Keith Jarrett Trio's -- featuring bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette -- elegy for their former employer Miles Davis, recorded only 13 days after the maestro's death. The lonely figure in shadow with a horn on the cover contrasts with the joyous spirit of many of the tracks on this CD, yet there is still a ghostly presence to deal with -- and in keeping with Miles' credo, Jarrett's choice of notes is often more purposefully spare than usual. There is symmetry in the organization of the album, with "Bye Bye Blackbird" opening and the trio's equally jaunty "Blackbird, Bye Bye" closing the album, and the interior tracks immediately following the former and preceding the latter are "You Won't Forget Me" and "I Thought About You." The centerpiece of the CD is an 18-and-a-half-minute group improvisation, "For Miles," which after some DeJohnette tumbling around becomes a dirge sometimes reminiscent of Miles' own elegy for Duke Ellington, "He Loved Him Madly." As an immediate response to a traumatic event, Jarrett and his colleagues strike the right emotional balance to create one of their more meaningful albums. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Keith Jarrett Trio
album: Bye Bye Blackbird
Year: 1991
Label: ECM (1993)
Runtime: 67:32

1.  Bye Bye Blackbird (Ray Henderson) 11:11
2.  You Won't Forget Me (Kermit Goell/Fred Spielman) 10:42
3.  Butch And Butch (Oliver Nelson) 6:37
4.  Summer Night (Al Dubin/Harry Warren) 6:38
5.  For Miles (Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnnette) 18:39
6.  Straight No Caser (Thelonious Monk) 6:44
7.  I Thought About You (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Mercer) 4:01
8.  Blackbird, Bye Bye (Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnnette) 3:00

Keith Jarrett (Piano)
Gary Peacock (Bass)
Jack DeJohnette (Drums)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Paul James & Mark Hawkins - Horse

Paul James, the unforgettable former leader of the historic English band Blowzabella, is a very skilled wind-instrument player and composer and has worked with more artists and bands, such as Scarp and Ancient Beatbox. In recent years James has worked together with keyboard player and composer Mark Hawkins, dealing with soundtracks for documentaries and TV programmes. Their début CD is an effective blend of acoustic and electronic sounds. -

English musicians James and Hawkins put together a pastiche of dance, ambient, jazz, Celtic, Indian, Middle Eastern, and other flavors in this fine release. Cross-cultural experiments so often either fall flat or end up a tangled mess of limbs on the floor. (As a friend and excellent musician once put it, you can have the finest olives and the finest chocolate, but chocolate-covered olives are pretty rank.) Here the cultures manage to coexist without stepping on each other's toes. Saz and sax, bagpipes and bouzouki, keyboards and konnakol all dovetail into each other quite smoothly, thank you. Of course James and Hawkins have some big guns helping them out, such as Sheila Chandra, Nigel Eaton, and Eleanor Stanley. Several of the tracks here will do for Celtic and Indian music what Moby did for blues and gospel on Play. "Grownover" is a tender yet moody piece with fluttering Macedonian flute, delicately ringing guitar and well-placed loops. "The Four Points" is a pure Irish jig, with whistle and Phil Cunningham- inspired accordion, yet the presence of saz and the subtle layers of programming turn it into something more. Sheila Chandra's konnakol on several of the tracks is nothing short of breathtaking. Eleanor Stanley's contributions are among the most startling, in part because they are so structurally simple after so much layering. The traditional song "Beidh Aonach Amárach" has little to adorn it but a mysterious little drone break in the middle, adding an ominous touch to an otherwise spry little number. Her take on "Blacksmith" is windblown and eerie, sung over whistle and electronic drones. The longest track on the CD, it segues into a sharp Middle Eastern groove backed by industrial beats, before ending on a dime. "Voodoo that u doo" sounds like what would happen if an old-time string band was caught in a time and space warp. Horse is nothing if not quirkily varied, but all in all a rewarding listen. - by Peggy Latkovich,

Artist: Paul James & Mark Hawkins
Album: Horse
Year: 2001
Label: Folkclub Ethnosuoni
Runtime: 58:20

1.  Horse (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 6:49
2.  Fat Earth (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 5:26
3.  The Four Points (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 5:13
4.  Hillfigures (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 7:36
5.  Grownover (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 4:26
6.  Beidh Aonach Amárach (Traditional) 2:23
7.  Biniou (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 4:47
8.  Cornhead (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 5:00
9.  Blacksmith (Traditional) 9:17
10.  Voodoo that u doo (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 3:47
11.  Horse (radio edit) (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 3:36

Paul James (Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Snare Drum, Flute, Whistle, Drones, Organ, Bagpipes)
Mark Hawkins (Keyboards, Piano, Guitar, Programming, Drones)
Victor Nicholls (Bass Guitar, Electronics, Loops) - 1,2,4,5,8-11
Nigel Eaton (Hurdy-Gurdy) - 1,3,5,7-9,11
Kenny Stone (Drums) - 1-4,7,8,11
Luke Daniels (Accordion) - 1,3,7,10,11
Carlos Beceiro (Saz, Cumbus, Bouzouki) - 1,3,7,11
Sheila Chandra (Konnakol) - 1,5,7,11
James Carter (Guitar) - 3,4,8
Eleanor Shanley (Vocals) - 6,9


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