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

Tracks:
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

Personnel:
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

Tracks:
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

Personnel:
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

Tracks:
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

Personnel:
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

Tracks:
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

Personnel:
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

Tracks:
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

Personnel:
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. - Albumtrad.com

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, Rootsworld.com

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

Tracks:
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

Personnel:
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

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ahmad Jamal - Ahmad's Blues

This CD reissues most of the music recorded on one night by the 1958 Ahmad Jamal Trio (which consisted of the pianist/leader, bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier) during a live performance in Washington D.C. Originally released as the LP Ahmad Jamal plus part of Portfolio of Ahmad Jamal, these 16 selections display the uniqueness and tightness of this memorable unit. With great attention paid to dynamics and the use of space yet always swinging (at least lightly), the Ahmad Jamal Trio is heard at its best on such numbers as "It Could Happen to You," "Stompin' at the Savoy," "Squatly Roo," "A Gal in Calico" and "Let's Fall in Love." - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Ahmad Jamal is a seminal name in the hallowed annals of jazz piano artistry, and being a big fan of the jazz piano trio, I knew I had to check some out. I read in Fred Hersch's liner notes to Bill Evans' _Trio '64_ that his other favorite trio is this particular one, with bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier, so this seemed like a must-hear. That it is. You can see why Miles Davis dug this guy. Jamal just digs into the *groove* of a tune, playing with it, vamping on it, leaving space for his bandmates to inhabit it, and apparently all the while having a rollicking good time. The playing of this trio throughout this 1958 live performance is absolutely distinctive, and that's a bit part of what makes it such compelling listening. There's the signature tune "Ahmad's Blues", which even if you haven't heard it before, you'll think you have. It's that basic, and yet Jamal didn't pull it off some "standards" list. Then there's the standard-of-standards "Autumn Leaves", but what this trio does with it is amazingly creative. You just have to hear it. And who else would start out "Stompin' at the Savoy" with a quote of "La Marsellaise"?? And these are just examples. It's all that good. Don't miss out. - by Micah Newman, Amazon.com

Artist: Ahmad Jamal Trio
Album: Ahmad's Blues (Live at the Spotlite Club, Washington D.C.)
Year: 1958
Label: GRP (1994)
Runtime: 65:09

Tracks:
1.  Ahmad's Blues (Ahmad Jamal) 4:06
2.  It Could Happen To You (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen) 4:15
3.  I Wish I Knew (Mack Gordon/Harry Warren) 3:45
4.  Autumn Leaves (Jacques Prevert/Johnny Mercer/Joseph Kosma) 7:40
5.  Stompin' At The Savoy (Benny Goodman/Chick Webb/Edgar Sampson) 4:15
6.  Cheek To Cheek (Irving Berlin) 4:47
7.  The Girl Next Door (Ralph Blane/Hugh Martin) 3:26
8.  Secret Love (Paul Francis Webster/Sammy Fain) 3:51
9.  Squatty Roo (Johnny Hodges) 2:18
10.  Taboo (S.K. Russel/Margarita Lecuona) 4:01
11.  Autumn In New York (Vernon Duke) 3:18
12.  A Gal In Calico (Leo Robin/Arthur Schwartz) 4:44
13.  That's All (Allen Brandt/Bob Haynes) 2:38
14.  Should I? (Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown) 3:39
15.  Seleritus (Ahmad Jamal) 3:12
16.  Let's Fall In Love (Ted Koehler/Harold Arlen) 5:06

Personnel:
Ahmad Jamal (Piano)
Israel Crosby (Double Bass)
Vernel Fournier (Drums)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sharon Isbin - Journey to the Amazon

Journey to the Amazon is a fascinating collaboration between classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, saxophonist Paul Winter and percussionist/composer Thiago de Mello. The three musicians explore South American, particularly Brazilian, rhythms and songs, devising a mesmerizing fusion of worldbeat, jazz and classical. While this certainly isn't music for purists, it's adventurous and evocative, and it often fulfills its grand ambitions. - by Leo Stanley, AMG

This recording was one of my early exposures to Sharon Isbin on CD. I had the pleasure of experiencing her live performance prior to the purchase of this CD. As a fan of heavier guitar music, (i.e. Steve Vai and Eric Johnson), I never believed I would enjoy a classical guitarist. I was so completely moved by the performance Ms. Isbin gives on this CD, that I promptly purchased "Dreams of a World" and most recently "Baroque Favorites for Guitar". I highly recommend this CD if you want to hear a guitarist whose work defies traditional categorization. I give it 10 stars! Please try to see Ms. Isbin live in recital if she comes to your area; you will experience a remarkable performance. - by Guitar Guru, Amazon.com

Artist: Sharon Isbin
Album: Journey to the Amazon
Year: 1997
Label: Teldec
Runtime: 53:49

Tracks:
1.  Historia Do Luar (Laurindo Almeida) 2:09
2.  Seis Por Derecho (Antonio Lauro) 3:32
3.  Waltz, No.4 (Agustín Barrios-Mangoré) 3:58
4.  A Hug For Pixingha (Thiago de Mello) 3:52
5.  Chants For The Chief (Thiago de Mello) 5:28
6.  Julia Florida (Agustín Barrios-Mangoré) 4:25
7.  El Marabino (Antonio Lauro) 1:27
8.  Waltz, No.3 (Antonio Lauro) 2:22
9.  Porro (Gentil Montana) 2:16
10.  Batucada (Isaias Savio) 2:38
11.  Lago De Janauacá (Thiago de Mello) 2:47
12.  Chants For The Chief, No.1 (Thiago de Mello) 5:17
13.  Canción De Cuna (Leo Brouwer/Eliseo Grenet) 3:42
14.  Aire De Joropo (Benito Canonico) 1:26
15.  Cochichandro (Alfredo Vianna) 2:43
16.  Choro Alegre (Thiago de Mello) 1:42
17.  Cavaleiro Sem Armadura (Thiago de Mello) 4:05

Personnel:
Sharon Isbin (Guitar)
Thiago De Mello (Percussion) - 1,2,4,5,8-10,12-17
Paul Winter (Soprano Saxophone) - 5,12,17

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