Monday, July 18, 2016

Sonny Rollins - Tour De Force

A better purchase than Sonny Boy (OJC 348) which has four of this set's six numbers plus "The House I Live In" from an earlier date. None of the Sonny Rollins' originals (which include "B. Swift," "B. Quick" and "Ee-Ah") on this release caught on. With pianist Kenny Drew, bassist George Morrow and drummer Max Roach completing the quartet, Rollins was in consistently creative form during this prime period but the overall set is not as classic as most of the tenor's other recordings from the 1950s.- by Scott Yanow, AMG 

"Tour De Force" finds Sonny Rollins playing some of his fastest and most forceful tenor saxophone. It is no surprise that Sonny is joined once again on the kit by Max Roach (with Kenny Drew and George Morrow also in the band), because few drummers could keep this pace going on the album's smokers, the aptly named "B. Swift," "B. Quick," and "Ee-ah," and the only slightly slower (normal hard bop speed) "Sonny Boy." "Tour" also features two tracks with vocals by Earl Coleman, the tender ballads "My Ideal" and "Two Different Worlds." While it's not "John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman" (even though this pre-dates 'Trane's session by five years), it's pretty good. However, the disparity between the "speed bop" and the ballads is so great, it causes "Tour De Force" to feel schizophrenic. There is great material here, but I only give it four stars because the album doesn't flow together very well. - by Michael B. Richman, Amazon.com

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: Tour De Force
Year: 1957 (Prestige Records)
Label: OJC (1984)
Runtime: 41:55
Recording: December 7, 1956 at the Van Gelder Recording Studio (Hackensack, USA) 

Tracks:
1.  EE-AH (Sonny Rollins) 6:57
2.  B. Quick (Sonny Rollins) 9:14
3.  Two Different Worlds (Al Frisch/Sid Wayne) 7:40
4.  B. Swift (Sonny Rollins) 5:18
5.  My Ideal (Newell Chase/Leo Robin/Richard A. Whiting) 4:23
6.  Sonny Boy (Bonus track) (Lew Brown/Buddy DeSylva/Ray Henderson/Al Jolson) 8:21

Personnel:
Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Drew (Piano)
George Morrow (Double Bass)
Max Roach (Drums)
Earl Coleman (Vocals) - 3,5

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Piirpauke - Muuttolinnut / Terra nova

By now, most people are aware of World Music and realize that it simply means the appreciation of the best tunes from all over the world. Some people saw it coming years and years ago and were playing it before anybody had thought of calling it World Music or anything. Sakari Kukko - visionary, world traveller and multi-instrumentalist from Finland - saw it coming more than 20 years ago, when he formed the first line-up of Piirpauke and was immediately awarded with a hit. Since that first success with a poignant Karelian folk tune, Sakari has guided his ever-improving line-ups on musical journeys through the delights of Balkan, Turkey, Africa, Latin America and points in between. After more than a dozen albums and many tours and concerts in Spain, Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Cuba, Soviet Union, India and Turkey the band is now ready to set their sights further afield. Sakari and his saxes, flutes and keyboards have never been content with merely polite "fusion music", but have always striven to draw the most fire and beauty from the most inspiring sources, no matter where. With his present international line-up of master musicians from Finland, Spain and Senegal, Sakari is truly an ambassador of World Music. Since attaining accolades as one Finland's top jazz saxophone players in the early seventies, Sakari has steadily added to his array of flutes and woodwinds on his world travels - and he also plays a mean keyboard and is occasionally inspired to launch into a tongue-in-cheek vocal. The countries he has roamed for exotic musical inspiration are too numerous to mention, but he has resided both in Columbia and Spain. - from http://www.rockadillo.fi/piirpauke

Artist: Piirpauke
Album: Muuttolinnut - Terra nova
Year: 1993
Label: RockAdillo Records
Runtime: 60:50

Tracks:
1.  Karavana (W.A. Mozart/arr. Sakari Kukko) 1:47
2.  Tristesa (Sorrow I) (Sakari Kukko/Cinta Hermo) 2:49
3.  Suru (Sorrow II) (Teppo Repo) 7:22
4.  Caracola (Sakari Kukko/Cinta Hermo) 4:06
5.  Secreto (Cinta Hermo) 5:13
6.  Savonmuan Hilima (Erkki Salama) 2:21
7.  Hilpeä hanuri (Jolly Accordion) (Vaino Tuominen) 2:07
8.  Raga Shostelerias (Sakari Kukko/Cinta Hermo)  6:06
9.  Wonto minima (Ismael Sane)  3:36
10.  Tuohinen sormus (Birch Bark Ring) (Matti Jurva/Traditional) 2:32
11.  Marssi (A March) (Teppo Repo) 3:12
12.  Hämäläinen kehtolaulu (Lullaby from Tavastia) (Traditional/arr. Sakari Kukko) 4:03
13.  Selestat (Traditional/Cinta Hermo/arr. Sakari Kukko) 6:08
14.  Maijan polkka (Maija's Polka) (Vili Vesterinen) 2:47
15.  Muuttolinnut (Migratory Birds) (Valto Tynnila/Martti Jappila) 1:59
16.  Terra Nova (Sakari Kukko/Cinta Hermo/Ismael Sane) 4:35

Personnel:
Sakari Kukko (Keyboards, Saxophones, Flute, Drum Set, Percussion and Vocals)
Cinta Hermo (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Castanets and Flamenco Dance)
Ismael Sane (Percussion and Vocals)
Outi Nieminen (Kantele) - 2,5,8,12
Auvo Z. Kaipaala (Vocal) - 6,10,15
T.T. Oksala (Electric Guitar) - 1
Babakar Faye (Darbuka) - 16

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Oscar Peterson - Walking The Line / Another Day

Walking the Line:
Oscar Peterson's series of recordings for Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer during the 1960s and early '70s are one of many high points in his long career. With George "Jiri" Mraz on bass and Ray Price on drums, Peterson's flashy romp through "I Love You" (complete with a humorous detour into the opera "Pagliacci") and mid-tempo walk through "All of You" salute Cole Porter in style on Walking the Line. "Rock of Ages" isn't the old hymn but a lively, gospel-inflected Peterson original that will easily get any congregation swinging and swaying to the music. His mastery of the ballad form is heard in his sensitive interpretation of "Once Upon a Summertime," which showcases Mraz's gorgeous tone, as Price sits out this one. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Another Day:
Good '70 session from pianist Oscar Peterson, arguably the most recorded mainstream stylist ever. He's made so many albums over the years, with a great deal sounding similar, that while they're never bad, sometimes they're for keyboard freaks only. That's something of the case here, although Peterson spins some fabulous solos. - by Ron Wynn, AMG


Artist: Oscar Peterson Trio
Album: Two Originals: Walking the Line/Another Day
Year: 1971 (MPS)
Label: Motor Music (1996)
Runtime: 72:57

Tracks:
Walking the Line:
1.  I Love You (Cole Porter) 5:14
2.  Rock of Ages (Oscar Peterson) 5:32
3.  Once Upon a Summertime (Michel Legrand / Johnny Mercer) 5:19
4.  Teach Me Tonight (Gene DePaul / Sammy Cahn) 5:07
5.  The Windmills of Your Mind (Michel Legrand / Marilyn Bergman / Alan Bergman) 5:04
6.  I Didn't Know What Time It Was (Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart) 6:37
7.  All of You (Cole Porter) 5:01
Another Day
8.  Blues for Martha (Oscar Peterson) 5:10
9.  Greensleeves (Traditional)4:30
10.  All the Things You Are (Jerome Kern / Oscar Hammerstein II) 6:13
11.  Too Close for Comfort (Jerry Bock / Larry Holofcener / Georg Weiss) 4:12
12.  The Jamfs Are Coming (Johnny Griffin) 5:40
13.  It Never Entered My Mind (Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart) 5:57
14.  Carolina Shout (James Johnson) 3:18


Personnel:
Oscar Peterson (Piano)
Jiri Mraz (Double Bass)
Ray Price (Drums)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Duke Pearson - How Insensitive

Like most Blue Note artists, Duke Pearson moved toward commercial-oriented soul-jazz in the late '60s. At least, How Insensitive was supposed to be commercial. Pearson simplified his original compositions, chose standards like "Stella By Starlight," and covered contemporary pop songs like Jobim's "Lamento." He also assembled a large band with rock instrumentation like electric guitars, bass, electric pianos, and drum kits. Most importantly, he hired the New York Group Singers' Big Band -- a group of singers that are arranged like a horn section (males are the trombones, females are alto saxes, etc.) -- to sing on each song. The vocalists may be technically gifted -- in particular, Andy Bey has a rich voice -- but their presence on these arrangements is quite bizarre, especially since they take center stage. Each song on How Insensitive boasts extravagant, layered arrangements that flirt with schmaltz, but the voicings and attack are so unusual, the result is a weird variation on easy listening. There is little opportunity for Pearson to showcase his tasteful playing through improvisation, yet the arrangements are so off-kilter, the music never quite works as background music. In other words, it's a very interesting failure and one of the strangest by-products of Blue Note's late-'60s commercialization. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

Artist: Duke Pearson
Album: How Insensitive
Year: 1970 (Blue Note Records)
Label: Toshiba Japan (1995)
Runtime: 33:42
Recorded at the Van Gelder Recordind Studios, Englewood Cliffs, USA (April 11, 14 & May 5, 1969)

Tracks:
1.  Stella By Starlight (Ned Washington / Victor Young) 4:35
2.  Clara (DuBose Heyward / George Gershwin) 2:40
3.  Give Me Your Love (Duke Pearson) 3:20
4.  Cristo Redentor (Duke Pearson) 3:50
5.  Little Song (Jack Manno)  2:50
6.  How Insensitive (Antonio Carlos Jobim / Norman Gimbel / Vinicius DeMoraes) 2:12
7.  Sandalia Dela (Luiz Claudio) 3:25
8.  My Love Waits (O Meu Amor Espera) (Duke Pearson / Jack Manno) 4:35
9.  Tears (Razao De Viva) (Eumir Deodato) 3:25
10.  Lamento (Antonio Carlos Jobim / Vinicius DeMoraes) 2:50

Personnel:
Duke Pearson (Piano, Electric Piano, Flugelhorn)
Mickey Roker (Drums)
Airto Moreira (Percussion)
Jack Manno (Conductor)
Al Gafa (Electric Guitar) - 1-6,8
Bob Cranshaw (Double Bass) - 1-6,8
Andy Bey (Vocals) - 2,3
Flora Purim (Vocals) - 7,9,10
Bebeto Jose Souza (Double Bass) - 7,9,10
Dorio Ferreira (Guitar) - 7,9,10
The New York Group Singers' Big Band (Choir) - 1-6,8

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Leon Parker - Awakening

There was a time when many of Leon Parker's contemporaries thought the man was several cents short of a dollar. A cursory glance at the jazz drummer's gear in the 1980s appeared to confirm the suspicion that he was a little kooky: Parker's drum kit consisted of a single cymbal. No trap drum, no tom-toms, no hi-hat, just that lone cymbal. Now, minimalism in improvisational music rhythm-keeping has a long and storied history, but this? Parker would go on to add snare and a floor tom and bass to his spartan set-up, but that's about it. Less is more is an apt description of his philosophy. Awakening, his new album on Columbia, further illuminates Parker's status as a major innovator. For this session, Parker incorporates a panoply of musical influences from the African Diaspora. The percussionist is joined by like-minded musicians whose playing enhances the album's fiercely creative force. On "All My Life," the opening track, Parker effortlessly moves from conga to clave, slapping out polyrhythms beneath poet Tracie Morris' sparse, impressionistic lyric concerning spiritual awareness. Her incantatory style meshes well with the almost hypnotic pulse of the Parker-penned composition. Whether she is lovingly shaping phrases or repeating single words, mantralike, Morris subtly draws listeners into her dreamy world. Hovering above the percussive stew is Sam Newsome's alto and soprano saxophone. His playing is richly imaginative, ululating like a bird's cry here, drawing out extended notes elsewhere. As on all the cuts on the album, rhythm predominates. Co-written by Parker and vocalist/percussionist Natalie Cushman, "Tokyo" is wonderfully exotic yet deftly manages to skirt parody. Indeed, the composition offers only a feint nod to the East, providing instead a herky-jerky pulse that summons up images of a lushly verdant South American forest. Parker's marimba is liltingly songlike, melodically hinting at Coltrane's "India." Congas add to the rhythmic depth of the piece. Wilson's soprano work both reinforces the groove and offers imaginative variations of the melody. A threesome of vocalists offers background chanting with a West African flavor. "It Is What It Is," the album's longest track, is the most fetching. Ugonna Okegwo's sonorous bass opens things. In short order, Parker's conga insinuates itself into the rhythmic flow. Still, it is Adam Cruz's ringing steel-pan drumming that captures one's attention. Whether rattling off quick bursts of high-pitched notes, reiterating the song's catchily melodic theme or commenting on Sam Newsome's flighty soprano saxophone, Cruz shines. Rarely has this instrument been employed in such an artful manner; pay particular attention to Cruz's expertly executed second solo. Although Cruz and to a lesser extent Newsome command the spotlight, Parker is content to provide rhythmic flourishes; he seems to know the difference between gratuitous showmanship and genuine leadership. As song titles like "Awakening," "Enlightenment" and "Peaceful Dream" suggest, this album conveys a sense of spirituality. Not the fire and brimstone raging of red-faced evangelicals; rather, there's a feeling of becalmed dedication to a transcendent higher force. Indeed, one can say of Awakening that it is a nondidactic sound tract expressing love and devotion to that higher force through the joyful sound of music. One thing is certain, Leon Parker is a seeker whose tireless quest for musical perfection cannot be questioned, only admired.- by Nicky Baxter, Metroactive.com

Artist: Leon Parker
Album: Awakening
Year: 1998
Label: Sony/Columbia
Runtime: 51:17

Tracks: 
1.  All My Life (Leon Parker) 5:54
2.  Tokyo (Leon Parker/Natalie Cushman) 4:52
3.  It is What it is (Leon Parker) 9:19
4.  Mother Earth (Lisa Parker) 5:02
5.  Cruz (Leon Parker) 6:09
6.  Axe Bahia (Leon Parker/Sam Newsome) 5:00
7.  Enlightenment (Leon Parker) 2:53
8.  Awakening (Leon Parker) 6:11
9.  Peaceful Dream (Leon Parker/Natalie Cushman) 5:52

Personnel:
Leon Parker (Congas, Bell, Caxixi, Marimba, Clavé, Rattle, Piano, Ashiko, Snare Drum and Gong) - 1-3,5-9
Natalie Cushman (Gourds, Shekere, Caxixi, Ashiko and Vocals) - 1-4,8,9
Steve Wilson (Alto and Soprano Saxophone, Alto Flute) - 1,2,5,8,9
Sam Newsome (Soprano Saxophone) - 3,6
Adam Cruz (Steel Pan and Bell) - 3,5,8
Rita Silva (Vocals, Clavé and Wood Block) - 3,6,8
Lisa Parker (Flute) - 4,9
Tracie Morris (Vocals) - 1
Ugonna Okegwo (Bass) - 3
Elisabeth Kontomanou (Vocals) - 4,8
Ray Cruz (Timbales) - 5

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

John Coltrane - Settin' the Pace

Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane recorded quite a few records with the rhythm section of pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Taylor during 1957-1958. On this particular CD reissue, Coltrane performs "Rise and Shine," "I See Your Face Before Me," "If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You," and "Little Melonae." But more significant than the material are Coltrane's searching and passionate improvisations, which were pointing the way toward the future. This music
(along with Trane's other Prestige recordings) is also available as part of his huge Prestige Recordings box set. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: John Coltrane
Album: Settin' the Pace
Year: 1958 (Prestige)
Label: JVC Japan XRCD (2002)
Runtime: 40:46
Recording: at the Van Gelder Recording Studio, Hackensack, USA (03.26.1958)

Tracks:
1.  I See Your Face Before Me (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz) 10:00
2.  If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz) 7:15
3.  Little Melonae (Jackie McLean)  14:08
4.  Rise 'N' Shine (Buddy DeSylva / Vincent Youmans) 9:23

Personnel:
John Coltrane (Tenor Saxophone)
Red Garland (Piano)
Paul Chambers (Double Bass)
Arthur Taylor (Drums)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hughes de Courson - Mozart In Egypt

Hughes de Courson, member of the vintage French folk group Malicorne, has launched a new career as a musical fusionist on a grand scale. First he gave us Lambarena: Bach to Africa, which, in tribute to Albert Schweitzer, combined the religious music of J.S. Bach with the music of the Gabonese peoples of Africa. On Mozart l'égyptien, Courson unites the (mostly secular) music of W.A. Mozart with the traditional music of Egypt. - by Kurt Keefner, AMG

Artist: Hughes de Courson
Album: Mozart in Egypt
Year: 1997
Label: Virgin Classics
Runtime: 67:56

Tracks: 
1.  Ikhtitaf Fi Assaraya [Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail] 6:39
2.  Double Quartet In F, K. 496 5:32
3.  Lamma Bada Yatathenna/Symphony No. 40 4:48
4.  Mahdiyat [Lullabies] 2:10
5.  Concerto For Oud & Piano No. 23 7:21
6.  Hamilu Lhawa Tahibou/Papageno's Aria 3:25
7.  Yaman Hawa/Thamos, King Of Egypt 4:49
8.  Mawwall 5:04
9.  Double Quartet In E Flat, K. 374 7:23
10.  Ouazat Al Kahira [L'Oca Del Cairo] 3:01
11.  Egyptian Symphony No. 25 6:42
12.  Dhikr/Requiem/Golgotha 11:02

Personnel:
Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra (Orchestra) - 1,3,5-7,10,11
Mostafa Abd el Aziz (Arghul) - 1,2,8,9,11
Mohammed Mostafa (Rabab) - 1,8,9,11
Ibrahim Shahin (Kawal) - 1,2,8,9,11
Nabil Diab (Tabla) - 1,2,8,9,11
Ragab Sadek (Daff, Sagat) - 1,2,8,9,11
Abdou Dagher (Violin) - 3,6,7
Mostafa Abdel Naby (Violin) - 3,6,7
Mamdouh el Gibally (Oud) - 3,6,7
Maged Sourour (Qanun) - 3,6,7
Mohammed Fouda (Ney) - 3,6,7
Safwat Sourour (Tabla) - 3,6,7
Ashraf Essam (Riq) - 3,6,7
Alain Aubin (Vocals) - 4,10
May (Vocals) - 3,7
Rabah Dalil (Darbouka) - 3,7
Ivan Peev (Violin) - 2,9
Dimiter Stankov (Viola) - 2,9
Elka Zacharieva (Cello) - 2,9
Nasredine Dalil (Flute, Vocals) - 1,6
Samira Donya (Vocals) - 4
Henri Agnel (Oud) - 5
Mario Angelov (Piano) - 5
Azzedine Alaoui (Voice) - 6
Hassan el Meghannawaty (Vocals) - 1
Reda Shina (Vocals) - 8
Rosen Ovtcharov (Clarinet) - 9
Jim Cuomo (Clainet) - 1
Mahmoud Osman (Viola) - 9
Giorgi (Godulka) - 10
Aly El Helbany (Vocals) - 12
Maher El Helbany (Vocals) - 12
Mohammed El Helbany (Vocals) - 12
George Kyrillos (Oud) - 12
Radio Sofia Sinfonic Orchestra (Choir [Chidren]) - 12

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Oregon - Distant Hills

Distant Hills, Oregon's 1973 follow-up to Music From Another Present Era, is as eclectic, genre-bending, and pleasurable as its predecessor. The unique talents of multi-instrumentalists Collin Walcott, Glen Moore, Ralph Towner, and Paul McCandless work together in a fashion that recalls the collective precision of 20th-century classical chamber music, yet with the range and improvisatory flair of jazz. Like most of Oregon's output, Distant Hills is marked by forays into trans-global sounds. The sitar-fueled "Dark Spirit," for example, conjures uneasy, snake-charmer dreams, and the bongos-and-violin duet of "Mi Chinita Suite" sounds like an avant-garde recital in the Amazon. The high, reedy keen of "Confession" and the dramatic shape-shifting of "Canyon Song" testify to the fact that although Oregon's music is quite accessible, at its root it is dedicated to vital experimentation. - AMG

Artist: Oregon
Album: Distant Hills
Year: 1974
Label: Vanguard (1987)
Runtime: 43:40

Tracks:
1.  Aurora (Ralph Towner) 7:42
2.  Dark Spirit (Ralph Towner) 5:50
3.  Mi Chinita (Ralph Towner / Collin Walcott / Glen Moore / Paul McCandless) 6:57
4.  Distant Hills (Ralph Towner) 6:30
5.  Canyon Song (Ralph Towner) 4:59
6.  Song For A Friend (Ralph Towner) 5:19
7.  Confession (Ralph Towner / Collin Walcott / Glen Moore / Paul McCandless) 6:23

Personnel:
Glen Moore (Double Bass, Violin, Bass Guitar, Piano, Flute)
Ralph Towner (Guitar, Trumpet, Mellophone, Piano)
Paul McCandless (Oboe, English Horn, )
Collin Walcott (Sitar, Tabla, Tambura, Piano, Marimba, Drums, Guitar, Congas, Clarinet)

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