Sunday, June 18, 2017

Michael Shrieve - Twoo Dors "In Palace Of Dreams"

Former Santana drummer Michael Shrieve's 1995 release Two Doors is appropriately titled, for it is really two albums in one, with two different trios providing the music. The first half of the record, subtitled "Deep Umbra," features Shrieve with guitarist Shawn Lane and bassist Jonas Hellborg performing eight jazz-rock compositions full of catchy themes and fiery improvisations. Lane is, simply put, one of the most technically gifted guitarists ever to pick up the instrument, and he records far too obscurely and infrequently. It is to his great credit that he never displays his abilities
gratuitously, but instead carefully measures them out for maximum impact. He is a consummate musician. The same could be said about Hellborg, who not only holds down the bottom end with his sensitive yet powerful bass, but also shares co-writing credits for seven of the eight songs that he appears on. The second half of the record, subtitled "Flying Polly," features Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz. This half of the record is jazzier and more avant-garde than the first half, and frankly doesn't work nearly as well. There are moments where some of the rockabilly jazz elements that Frisell and Horvitz explored in John Zorn's Naked City come to the foreground, but, besides that, most of this portion of the record sounds flat and uninspired. It is a shame that this had to be the case, especially considering how good the Lane-Hellborg trio is. However, Shrieve's drums are very nicely recorded, and he always plays the most appropriate thing for any given song, never showboating or otherwise distracting from the integrity of the composition. There is much merit in this frustratingly inconsistent album, and for fusion fans it is worth searching out. - by Daniel Gioffre, AMG

Artist: Michael Shrieve
Album: Two Doors "In The Palace Of Dreams"
Year: 1993-95
Label: CMP Records (1995)
Runtime: 76:31

Tracks:
Deep Umbra (1995)
1.  Stellar Rays (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 3:21
2.  Deep Umbra (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 4:39
3.  Sorcerer (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane / Michael Shrieve) 3:29
4.  Baraji (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 6:04
5.  Caress Of Lillith (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 4:18
6.  The Smiling Tarshishm (Michael Shrieve) 3:59
7.  Juvalamu (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 5:15
8.  Palace Of Dreams (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 5:57

Personnel:
Michael Shrieve - Drums
Jonas Hellborg - Bass Guitar
Shawn Lane - Guitar, Voice

Flying Polly (1993)
9.  Locomotion (Michael Shrieve) 1:55
10.  Data Trash (Bill Frisell / Michael Shrieve) 0:55
11.  Stella (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 7:17
12.  Your Saviour (Chris Cornell) 1:48
13.  Pipeline (Bill Frisell / Michael Shrieve) 0:46
14.  Crocodile (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 4:21
15.  Lincoln Logs (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 2:53
16.  First Train (Bill Frisell / Michael Shrieve) 0:37
17.  Queen Bee (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 12:04
18.  Flying Polly (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 1:51
19.  Stella (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 5:02

Personnel:
Michael Shrieve - Drums
Bill Frisell - Guitar
Wayne Horwitz - Organ

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Archie Shepp - I Know About the Life

Recorded in 1981 in a quartet setting featuring the great drummer John Betsch, bassist Santi Debriano, and pianist Ken Werner, I Know About the Life doesn't so much explore these standards as re-contextualize them in the canon. Opening with Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't," Shepp does to Monk's tune what Monk did regularly with pop tunes: he smears the melody all around a different harmonic context, adds a boatload of blues feel and a smattering of soul. His double times
with Betsch in the middle of the cut are stunning and humorous, and in spite of his solo honks and squeals, he never loses sight of Monk's tune. On his own "I Know About the Life," one can hear Lockjaw Davis, Ben Webster, and John Coltrane in his playing as Shepp builds on the deep soul and blues roots of his 1970s records like Cry of My People. The other two cuts here, a steaming muscular and frenetic read of Coltrane's "Giant Steps," and a nearly heartbreaking version of "'Round Midnight," reveal that the tradition for Shepp was not as it was for the coming reign of neo-trad revisionists who would re-imagine it in their own images: for Shepp here, as on many of his 1980s recordings (check "I Feel Like Going Home" with Horace Parlan), the tradition was an open-ended conversation to be annotated in the ballroom and on the back porch anytime one wished to step into it. Shepp's perception of the language of Ellington was -- and remains -- no less profound than Ellington's understanding of the language of Mingus, or Mingus' of Eric Dolphy's. The whispering sweetness tinged with crackling blues feel in "'Round Midnight" is one of the most important reads of this tune because it gives back to Monk what so many generic players tried to take away: the blood that lies at the heart of the ballad. Hearing Shepp in this light makes any serious jazz fan completely reconsider his contribution after the 1970s. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Archie Shepp
Album: I Know About the Life
Year: 1981 (Sackville Records)
Label: Hatology Records (2003, Remastered)
Runtime: 42:47

Tracks:
1.  Well, You Needn't (Thelonious Monk) 8:46
2.  I Know About The Life (Archie Shepp) 13:48
3.  Giant Steps (John Coltrane) 8:04
4.  'Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk) 12:09

Personnel:
Archie Shepp (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Werner (Piano)
Santi Debriano (Double Bass)
John Betsch (Drums)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Shakti With John McLaughlin

For his next act, the decibel champion of electric jazz shocked the world by unplugging and returning to South Indian music before an excitable audience at South Hampton College. Yet the alert John McLaughlin follower will note that beyond the reliance upon South Indian instruments and scales, there are unbroken links to records like My Goal's Beyond and the high-speed electric music that McLaughlin was casting aside at the moment. McLaughlin called his new quintet Shakti, which
means "creative intelligence and beauty and power" and the music here has all of that and something else, a ferocious streak inherited from the Mahavishnu days. McLaughlin ignites "Joy" by playing at a blazing speed, his cohorts Lakshminarayana Shankar (violin), Ramnad V. Raghavan and T.H. Vinayakram (mridangam), and Zakir Hussain (tabla) keeping up with the furious unison tempos with great dexterity and discipline, while a reworking of "Lotus Feet" forms a meditative interlude. Side two is taken up by a single, lengthy raga-like track in which McLaughlin combines his rapid-fire Western manner with note-bending techniques clearly emulating a sitar, and the Indians get plenty of dueling room. In its way, this fire-eating acoustic music is just as energizing as the most electrified Mahavishnu flights. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: John McLaughlin & Shakti
Album: Shakti with John McLaughlin
Year: 1975 (Columbia Records)
Label: Sony Music (1991, Digitally Remastered)
Runtime: 52:06
Recorded live at the South Hampton College, Lond Island, New York City; 06.05.1975

Tracks:
1.  Joy (John McLaughlin / Lakshmirayana Shankar) 18:15
2.  Lotus Feet (John McLaughlin) 4:47
3.  What Need Have I For This - What Need Have I For That - I Am Dancing At The Feet Of My Lord - All Is Bliss - All Is Bliss (John McLaughlin / Lakshmirayana Shankar) 29:04

Personnel:
John McLaughlin (Guitar)
Lakshmirayana Shankar (Violin)
Ramnad Raghavan (Mridangam)
Zakir Hussain (Tabla)
Vikku Vinayakram (Ghatam, Mridangam)

Monday, May 22, 2017

John Scofield - Quiet

Ironically, Quiet finds guitarist John Scofield using a much larger group of musicians than usual. The basic band has Scofield (who sticks to acoustic guitar), Wayne Shorter on tenor, bassist Steve Swallow, and either Bill Stewart or Duduka Da Fonseca on drums. They are joined by trumpeter Randy Brecker, two French horns, two woodwinds, Roger Rosenberg on bass clarinet, and Howard Johnson on tuba and baritone. Since Scofield is mostly in the lead, the music -- eight originals by
the leader and a song by producer Swallow -- is indeed mostly at a lower volume, although there is plenty of heat, too. However, since the guitarist is less distinctive than usual due to his playing acoustically, this set is not quite as significant as his other Blue Note releases. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: John Scofield
Album: Quiet
Year: 1996
Label: Verve
Runtime: 50:46
Recorded: Power Station Studios, New York City, April 3-6, 1996

Tracks:
1.  After The Fact (John Scofield) 5:26
2.  Tulle (John Scofield) 5:00
3.  Away With Words (John Scofield) 6:49
4.  Hold That Thought (John Scofield) 6:23
5.  Door #3 (John Scofield) 5:48
6.  Bedside Manner (John Scofield) 6:46
7.  Rolf And The Gang (John Scofield) 5:23
8.  But For Love (John Scofield) 5:37
9.  Away (Steve Swallow) 3:34

Personnel:
John Scofield (Acoustic Guitar)
Steve Swallow (Double Bass)
Randy Brecker (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Charles Pillow (Tenor Saxophone, Alto Flute, English Horn)
Lawrence Feldman (Flute, Tenor Saxophone)
Fred Griffin (French Horn)
John Clark (French Horn)
Roger Rosenberg (Bass Clarinet) - 1,3,4,7-9
Bill Stewart (Drums) - 1,3,4,7-9
Duduka da Fonseca (Drums) - 2,5,6
Wayne Shorter (Tenor Saxophone) - 3,5,8
Howard Johnson (Baritone Saxophone, Tuba) - 2,5,6

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pharoah Sanders - Moon Child

By this point in his career, Sanders had largely withdrawn from the kind of screeching avant-gardism on which he at first staked his reputation. The opening "Moon Child," with its attractively spacy vocals, is reminiscent of the days of "The Creator Has a Master Plan," but this version sounds too contrived to rival the classic earlier recording. The mood is subdued throughout and the choice of tunes definitely on the conservative side ("All or Nothing at All" and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes," among the six tracks). William Henderson is lovely on piano, while the drummer (Eddie Moore) and percussionist (Cheikh Tidiane Fale) keep to the quiet side. The results may have originally disappointed some of Sanders' fans, but with time the saxophonist clearly reinvented himself as a more traditional improviser capable of thoughtful and pensive deliberations. - by Steven Loewy, AMG

Artist: Pharoah Sanders
Album: Moon Child
Year: 1990
Label: Timeless Records
Runtime: 52:09
Recorded at Studio Davut, Paris, France, 12- 13. October 1989

Tracks:
1.  Moon Child (Pharoah Sanders) 8:07
2.  Moon Rays (Horace Silver) 6:10
3.  The Night Has A Thousand Eyes (Buddy Bermien/Jerry Brainin) 12:17
4.  All Or Nothing At All (Arthur Altman/Jack Lawrence) 9:23
5.  Soon (George Gerschwin) 5:29
6.  Moniebah (Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand)) 10:43

Personnel:
Pharoah Sanders (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone, Vocals)
William Henderson (Piano)
Stafford James (Double Bass)
Eddie Moore (Drums)
Cheikh Tidiane Fale (Percussion)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Jan Garbarek, Miroslav Vitous, Peter Eerskine - Star

Saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Peter Erskine have been making records for ECM for a long time, both as leaders and as sidemen. They know each other's styles well, they're familiar with ECM label head Manfred Eicher's echo-drenched production tendencies, and they know how to turn jazz formulas into hip, lyrical romanticism. On this leaderless trio album, as with most ECM releases, you get the feeling of music emerging from a vast and echoey space; Erskine's Morse-code drum accents, Vitous' thrumming basslines and the plaintive cry of Garbarek's soprano and alto saxophones are far removed from what some would consider "jazz," but that's not the point. The tunes may be somewhat interchangeable, but the music is virtuosic, thoughtful and thoroughly lovely, at times heart-tugging. Makes you wish these three would get together more often. - by Rick Anderson, AMG

Artist: Jan Garbarek, Miroslav Vitous, Peter Eerskine
Album: Star
Year: 1991
Label: ECM
Runtime: 42:23

Tracks:
1.  Star (Jan Garbarek) 6:15
2.  Jumper (Miroslav Vitous) 4:21
3.  Lamenting (Miroslav Vitous) 6:08
4.  Anthem (Peter Erskine) 6:16
5.  Roses for You (Miroslav Vitous) 5:39
6.  Clouds in the Mountain (Miroslav Vitous) 4:38
7.  Snowman (Jan Garbarek/Miroslav Vitous/Peter Erskine) 5:21
8.  The music of my People (Peter Erskine) 3:41

Personnel:
Jan Garbarek (Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone)
Miroslav Vitous (Double Bass)
Peter Erskine (Drums)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Renaud Garcia-Fons - Entremundo

Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons' set of originals mixes together Western classical music with world music and the improvising of jazz. The resulting performances are both soothing and stimulating, with Garcia-Fons' bowed bass being quite virtuosic and expressive; his feature on "Aqâ Jân" is very impressive. The many percussion instruments add an exotic element to the music (the core trio is comprised of bass, guitar, and drums) and the leader's strong melodies are full of variety and rich themes. Despite the lack of name recognition in the U.S., this is a special release with plenty of mood variations, unexpected moments, and logical development. Entremundo grows in interest with each listen and is well worth exploring. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Some records are instantly captivating, with an ambience that immediately draws the listener in. Others require more attention, revealing layers of reward with each successive listen. The best records do both. Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons has managed with his latest disc, Entremundo , to create one of those rare recordings whose first spin compels the listener to play it again and again, revealing richer substance each time. That Garcia-Fons has been called "the Paganini of the double bass" is no surprise. One listen to the closing piece, the solo "Aqâ Jân," and the breadth of his capabilities is clearly evident. With his five-string double-bass giving him access to the range of a cello in addition to the deeper resonance of the traditional instrument, Garcia-Fons' virtuosity is remarkable. From percussive pizzicato to sweeping arco, his ability to coax distinct and unusual sonorities from his instrument is uncanny. And while Garcia-Fons' technical skill is evident from the first note of "Sueno Vivo," which opens the album, he is equally matched by his trio mates, percussionist Jorge "Negrito" Trasante and flamenco guitarist Antonio Ruiz "Kiko." Yet, for all their formidable abilities, Entremundo is never about needless pyrotechnical demonstration. From the light and airy folk sound of "Cristobal" to the lush classical leanings of the title track, Garcia-Fons and his trio, supplemented by a variety of musical guests on various tracks, are never less than lyrical and transcend being mere players. ntremundo means "Between Worlds," and while the majority of the record has a strong flamenco flavour that will appeal to fans of, for example, Strunz and Farah, it's distinguished by a breadth of world view. There are elements of Middle Eastern harmonies, Oriental lines and Latin American rhythms amidst the Andalusian themes of "40 Dias," the brief and dark "Doust," and "Sarebân," which blends in an Indian-inflected theme. Garcia-Fons states that the intention of the record is to be celebratory, and there is, to be sure, a vivacious joy to be found throughout. Passion runs wild, with Garcia-Fons leading the way with his vibrant and emotive playing. Few bassists straddle the line between being a supporting rhythm section instrument and a leading voice as well as Garcia-Fons. Regardless of where he is placing his priority, the augmented trio shuffles responsibilities seamlessly and effortlessly. This is strongly groove-centric music that moves the body as well as the heart. Another characteristic of exceptional records is to make one forget about the individual contributions and experience the music as a transcendent whole. While the admirable skill of all involved makes this sometimes difficult, at the end of the day the album succeeds as an incredibly broad cross-fusion of ethnic influences from around the globe. Entremundo succeeds in making music that draws a coherent link between various musical worlds and, consequently, lives up to its name by fusing the music of a diversity of cultures with an improvisational verve and, in the final analysis, a pure and unadulterated joy in making evocative and provocative music. - by John Kelman, AllAboutJazz.com

Artist: Renaud Garcia-Fons
Album: Entremundo
Year: 2004
Label: Enja Records
Runtime: 50:57

Tracks:
1.  Sueno vivo 4:46
2.  Cristobal 4:51
3.  Entremundo 3:59
4.  Mahoor 4:06
5.  40 Dias (Soleá) 4:43
6.  Entre Continentes 6:58
7.  Mursiya 0:48
8.  Rosario 5:15
9.  Doust 1:42
10.  Sareban 5:58
11.  Aqa Jan 7:51
All compositions by Renaud Garcia-Fons 

Personnel:
Renaud Garcia-Fons (Double Bass, Vocals, Tanbur, Percussion)
Jorge Trasante (Drums, Bombo, Udu, Latin Percussion)
Antonio Ruiz (Flamenco Guitar)
Claire Antonini (Tar, Cistres, Luth Baroque)
Gaston Sylvestre (Cimbalom)
Angel Sanchez-Gonzalez (Palmas, Cajon, Jaleo, Pandeiro)
Bruno Caillat (Tabla, Daf, Kanjeera)
Philippe Slovinsky (Trumpet)
Allen Hoist (Tenor Saxophone)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Charles Lloyd - Hyperion With Higgins

The December 1999 sessions that produced The Water Is Wide yielded enough material for a second album. Hyperion With Higgins is the result, and its title reflects the sad fact that Billy Higgins, Lloyd's friend and soul mate and the session's drummer, passed away not long after the music was put to tape. The music's spiritual quality is heightened by the after-the-fact dedication. Quite unlike The Water Is Wide, Hyperion With Higgins is comprised entirely of Lloyd's original compositions, although the same lineup is featured: Lloyd, Higgins, John Abercrombie, Brad Mehldau, and Larry
Grenadier. After a couple of fairly straightforward jazz pieces ("Dancing Waters, Big Sur to Bahia" and "Bharati"), the quintet delves into two longer works: "Secret Life of the Forbidden City" and the Coltrane-esque "Miss Jessye." They then romp through the title track, a spirited mid-tempo blues, before tackling the album's centerpiece: the five-part "Darkness on the Delta Suite," an ambitious, free-leaning melange of Eastern and rural blues connotations (with a brilliant solo interlude by Abercrombie). The last two pieces -- "Dervish on the Glory B" and "The Caravan Moves On" -- depart almost completely from jazz vernacular. The former recalls the upbeat, folk-like drone of the sunset portion of "Forest Flower," while the latter, featuring Lloyd on taragato, evokes not only the Middle Eastern desert, but also the inexorable march of time. Thus does a fitting homage to the departed Higgins conclude this exceptionally focused, all-original statement from Charles Lloyd. - by David R. Adler, AMG

Artist: Charles Lloyd
Album: Hyperion With Higgins
Year: 1999
Label: ECM (2001)
Runtime: 70:07

Tracks:
1.  Dancing Waters, Big Sur To Bahia 5:51
2.  Bharati 6:59
3.  Secret Life Of The Forbidden City 10:03
4.  Miss Jessye 10:21
5.  Hyperion With Higgins 7:19
6.  Darkness On The Delta Suite 12:39
7.  Dervish On The Glory B 8:23
8.  The Caravan Moves On 8:32
All compositions by Charles Lloyd

Personnel:
Charles Lloyd (Tenor Saxophone, Tárogató [Taragato], Maracas)
Billy Higgins (Drums, Percussion)
Larry Grenadier (Double Bass)
John Abercrombie (Guitar)
Brad Mehldau (Piano)

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