Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thierry 'Titi' Robin & Gulabi Sepera - Rakhi

Thierry "Titi" Robin is an exceptional artist both for his personality and his artistic sensitivity. His previous musical achievements were characterised by a coherence of style, derived from his still deepening interest in Gypsy culture, which for him is an inexhaustible source of inspiration and the basis for colourful artistic marriages with Roma artists from all over the world. His first encounters with traditional Gypsy music (as well as Arabian music, which also has had an enormous influence on his artistic development) started when as a teenager he moved from the village of Rochefort Sur
Loire in the east of France, to Angers, a city crowded with immigrants, mainly Arabs and Gypsies. It was there, during his first playing sessions with peers of different cultural background, that his musical sensitivity was formed. It allowed him to treat those musical traditions as his own. In the early 80s he initiated his co-operation with Hameed Khan, a tabla player from Rajasthan, who has accompanied him for many years. His project with Breton vocalist Erik Marchand is also worth mentioning. As a trio they explored the themes of both central Brittany and the Orient. But the recording that was received with greatest acclaim from the critics and listeners was not released until 1993. On Gitans, Robin and Khan were joined by Roma musicians from Spain to Rajasthan, including 'The Gypsy Queen of Rajasthan,' Gulabi Sapera, a vocalist of unique voice timbre, who enriched this project with warmth and tenderness. His friendship with Sapera has led to their co-operations on numerous occasions, resulting in Rakhi. The opening track, "Holi Yaad," introduces the listener to the unique atmosphere of the album. Gulabi's singing is calm and nostalgic; the minimalist but balanced rhythm section and the delicate sound of Robin's guitar immerse the listener in a pleasant swing. The following tracks intensify this feeling. As it progresses, a reggae vibe appears and becomes a pervasive element of some of the tracks to follow. Gulabi's voice often converses with male voices (Bruno El Gitano, Farid, Roberto Saadna 'Yakeen,' Saway Nath 'Neem,' and 'Rumba de India'), making the music more complete. Tensions subtlely rise and fall down. Paradoxically the most ascetic track 'Bichu Rap' draws the greatest attention. It is a kind of a dialogue between a woman and a man or even a quarrel. It is overflowing with emotions: joy, anger, grief are expressed in a theatrical way, to leave no one indifferent to what is being sung. "Shadi ke badh" comes back to the mood of some previous tracks. Robin's first solo reminds us that it is their common achievement, even as he devotes it almost entirely to Sapera. In his previous work the instruments he played - oud, bouzouki or guitar - were always in the forefront. This time is different; his instrument is still important but is played consciously in the background to expose what is most valuable in this project, Gulabi Sapera's voice. Rakhi is not so directly appealing as Gitans or other earlier works. But it is uniquely successful, fully linked to the previous achievements of the artist and a continuation of his chosen path. The sense of artistry and authenticity makes the album undoubtedly worth listening. - by Piotr Pucylo,

Artist: Thierry 'Titi' Robin & Gulabi Sapera
Album: Rakhi
Year: 2002
Label: Naive Records
Runtime: 54:10

1.  Holi Yaad (Traditional) 3:45
2.  Yakeen (Gulabi Sapera / Thierry Robin) 4:16
3.  Chirmi Mala (Traditional) 4:09
4.  Chundri (Traditional) 3:09
5.  Neem (Traditional) 3:58
6.  Agni Sha Kshi (Traditional) 3:45
7.  Dhora (Traditional) 3:45
8.  Bichu Rap (Gulabi Sapera / Banwari Sapera / Thierry Robin) 4:35
9.  Shadi Ke Badh (Traditional) 3:54
10.  Pyari Pankaru (Traditional) 4:49
11.  Reggae Rajasthani (Gulabi Sapera / Thierry Robin) 3:21
12.  Judai (Traditional) 2:48
13.  Rumba De India (Thierry Robin) 4:07
14.  Rumal (Traditional) 3:49

Thierry "Titi" Robin (Guitar, Drum Programming, Lute)
Renaud Pion (Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Cor Anglais)
Gulabi Sapera (Vocals)
Pascal Stalin (Bass)
Francois Laizeau (Drums)
Jorge "Negrito" Trasante (Drums)
Amar Saadna (Rhythm Guitar, Handclaps, Vocals)
Farid Saadna (Rhythm Guitar, Handclaps, Vocals)
Saway Nath (Harmonium, Vocals)
Gabriel Levasseur (Keyboards, Accordion)
Bijan Chemirani (Daf, Cajon)
Sarwan Nath (Daf)
Banwari Nath (Daf, Dafil, Dholak)
Kishan Lal Rana (Dhol, Percussion) - 1,2,4-14
Ram Swarup (Dhol, Percussion) - 3
Banwari Sepera (Vocals) - 8

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lee Ritenour & Larry Carlton - Larry & Lee

Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour have had parallel careers, but this CD is their first joint meeting on record. The two guitarists complement each other well and there are hints of Wes Montgomery along with a tribute to Joe Pass ("Remembering J.P."), but the songs (all of them their originals) are little more than rhythmic grooves most of the time with the usual fadeouts. The consistently lightweight music is reasonably pleasing but never too stimulating. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

There is something special about two guitarists trading licks back and forth. Funny how four years after this album Larry Carlton would end up replacing Lee Ritenour in the group Foreplay. This album will not disappoint you if you're a fan of either guitarist. Both men are incredibly talented with the guitar, and play with real drive and emotion. The album starts out with a great tune in "Crosstown Kids", which prepares you for what's to come. "L.A. Underground" really steps it up with Ritenour leading the way, breaking in several places to give Carlton a place to play. On the cut, "After the Rain" they lay back and play a very smooth piece before turning it up again on "Remembering". Throughout the album, these guitarists use each other to springboard to new levels of playing. They take turns expanding on an idea, combining their styles to really bring out some fun music. There is some very good stuff on this album. Ritenour's smooth playing is counterbalanced by the bluesy edge of Carlton's. The complement is enjoyable, and it gives quite a coloring to the music. Guitar fans should find this album very impressive. It is one that I keep revisiting. - by Russell Diederich,

Artist: Lee Ritenour & Larry Carlton
Album: Larry & Lee
Year: 1995
Label: GRP Records
Runtime: 60:19

1.  Crosstown Kids (Lee Ritenour) 5:01
2.  Low Steppin' (Lee Ritenour & Larry Carlton)  6:25
3.  L.A. Underground (Lee Ritenour) 5:46
4.  Closed Door Jam (Lee Ritenour & Lee Carlton) 4:59
5.  After the Rain (Lee Ritenour) 4:44
6.  Remembering J.P. (Larry Carlton) 4:48
7.  Fun in the Dark (Lee Ritenour) 5:25
8.  Lots About Nothin' (Larry Carlton) 6:15
9.  Take That (Lee Ritenour) 4:53
10.  Up and Adam (Lee Ritenour & Lee Carlton) 6:11
11.  Reflection of a Guitar Player (Lee Ritenour & Lee Carlton) 5:52

Lee Ritenour (Guitar, Synthesizer, Sampling, Drum Programming)
Larry Carlton (Guitar, Keyboards)
Omar Hakim (Drums) - 1,4,6-9,11
Larry Williams (Synthesizer, Tenor Saxophone) - 1-3,7,9
Melvin Davis (Bass Guitar) - 1-4,6-11
Dave Witham (Keyboards) - 1-3,5,7,10
Jerry Hey (Trumpet, Flugelhorn) - 1,3,5,7,9
Gary Grant (Trumpet, Flugelhorn) - 1,3,5,7,9
Bill Reichenbach (Trombone) - 1,3,5,7,9
Greg Phillinganes (Keyboards) - 1,7,9,11
Harvey Mason (Drums) - 2,3,5,10
Cassio Duarte (Percussion) - 1-3,7
Rick Jackson (Keyboards) - 4,6,8

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gandalf - Frame By Frame

Special Soundtrack Album – A collection of picturesque pieces written and produced by Gandalf in 2013 as the music-score for various projects, mostly for the TV-documentary “Das Steinzeiträtsel” (The Stone Age Enigma) by Ronald & Roswitha Vaughan. -

As a painter of musical landscapes whose music is largely inspired by the beauty of nature as well as by the art and mythology of different cultures, Gandalf finds himself at Prudence among souls of souls. As one of the masters of his genre, the versatile musician, composer and producer has created his unique personal music style. It combines a variety of acoustic instruments (guitars, sitar, saz, charango, bouzuki, piano, balaphone, bells and percussion) with spherical keyboard sounds. It interweaves folkloric melodic arches with powerful orchestral arrangements. Gandalf is a "Magician of the Soul Sounds", his multi-colored compositions emanate peace and harmony and are balm for the soul. Many people exhausted by the hustle and bustle of modern everyday life find consolation and healing. The artist's vision of breaking the boundaries between musical categories and styles and developing a music that appeals to people regardless of mother tongue or skin color has made him one of the most successful Austrian musicians of our time. In addition to numerous CD releases, Gandalf also composed music for theater and film, worked with symphonic orchestras ( "Symphonic Landscapes", 1990) and played with international artists such as the legendary ex-genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. His CDs are played by radio stations around the planet, in the USA his music has been called "classical music of the 21st century".

Artist: Gandalf (Heinz Strobl)
Album: Frame By Frame
Year: 2013
Label: Prudence Records
Runtime: 63:40

1.  Ancient Wisdom Recalled 3:40
2.  Love Will Last 4:59
3.  Amongst Green Fields 7:42
4.  Sleeping Giants of Stone 6:21
5.  The House by the River 6:30
6.  Echoes from the Past 4:44
7.  Enchanted Garden 7:27
8.  Ancient Wisdom Recalled II 1:24
9.  March of No return 5:18
10.  Heartbridges 4:13
11.  Sea of Sorrow 2:11
12.  Beyond Fear 4:04
13.  Sea of Sorrow II 1:33
14.  Rainbow Sky 3:27
All compositions by Heinz Strobl

Heinz Strobl (aka Gandalf) (Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Percussion)
Merike Hilmar (Cello)
Karin Leitner (Flute, Whistle)
Nicky Eggl (Whistle, Bodhran)
Monika Stadler (Harp)
Vasilie Marian (Oboe, English Horn)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Joshua Redman - Beyond

In his short career, Joshua Redman has been praised for his technical abilities and criticized for his lack of innovation -- not surprising responses to the work of a talented young artist. On Beyond, his seventh album which was recorded a few months after his 30th birthday, he attempts, as the title suggests, to try some new things. Employing an all new group consisting of pianist Aaron Goldberg, bass player Reuben Rogers, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, he presents an album of original tunes to follow Timeless Tales (For Changing Times), an album of cover material. Eschewing the pat jazz formula of a head followed by improvisations, he adopts a more free-flowing structure for his compositions in which anyone can start and the tune can develop in an open-ended fashion. He also experiments with time signatures: "A Life?," the closing track, is in 5/4 time; "Stoic Revolutions" is in 6/4; "Belonging (Lopsided Lullaby)" is in 9/4; "Suspended Emanations" is in 10/4; and the lead-off track, "Courage (Asymmetric Aria)," is in 13/4. While no doubt hard to play, the tunes don' t sound all that complicated, perhaps because Redman's saxophone floats over the rhythm section, taking its time to make its statements. As the song titles imply, this is a contemplative album full of small, introspective pleasures, such as the exploratory "Leap of Faith," on which Redman and Mark Turner engage in a tenor conversation. It's not clear that the technical challenges Redman presents himself and his sidemen with ultimately force them to do anything new, but Beyond represents a gifted musician tinkering with his musical approach with often satisfying results. - by William Ruhlmann, AMG

Artist: Joshua Redman
Album: Beyond
Year: 2000
Label: Warner Bros.
Runtime: 73:18

1.  Courage (Asymmetric Aria) 7:32
2.  Belonging (Lopsided Lullaby) 5:48
3.  Neverend 4:26
4.  Leap Of Faith 9:03
5.  Balance 9:05
6.  Twilight ... And Beyond 11:00
7.  Stoic Revolutions 6:11
8.  Suspended Emanations 6:18
9.  Last Rites Of Rock 'N' Roll 7:03
10.  A Life? 6:52
All music written by Joshua Redman

Joshua Redman (Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone)
Reuben Rogers (Double Bass)
Gregory Hutchinson (Drums)
Aaron Goldberg (Piano)
Mark Turner (Tenor Saxophone) - 4

Monday, October 31, 2016

Mel Tormé - Comin' Home Baby!

Paced by his only hit of the rock era, Comin' Home Baby! is a real crossover record, balancing a few groovy dance numbers (like the title track) with early-'60s cool jazz versions of the standards "Walkin'," "Moanin'," and "On Green Dolphin Street." Though Mel Tormé never made a terrible record -- his crisp voice and ineffable delivery carried all of his dates -- this session has to count as a low point. The constant striving for some sort of jazz-hipster atmosphere relegates one of Tormé's positive attributes -- his excellent scatting -- into little more than a novelty act. Shorty Rogers, who arranged the record except for the two hit hopefuls (Claus Ogerman's "Comin' Home Baby!" and "Right Now"), attempts to equal Marty Paich's excellent arrangement on the mid-'50s records -- and doesn't quite succeed. "Moanin'" is a stale recasting of the superior Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross version, and the child noise on "Dat Dere" is just baffling. Compared to Tormé's other record for Atlantic, Sunday in New York, Comin' Home Baby! is a passé work that understandably can't get much of a reaction from the usually majestic Mel Tormé.- by John Bush, AMG

Artist: Mel Tormé
Album: Comin' Home Baby!
Year: 1962
Label: WEA Japan (24bit remastered, 2012)
Runtime: 33:12

1.  Comin' Home Baby! (Bob Dorough / Ben Tucker) 2:41
2.  Dat Dere (Oscar Brown, Jr. / Bobby Timmons) 2:58
3.  The Lady's in Love With You (Burton Lane / Frank Loesser) 3:01
4.  Hi-Fly (Jon Hendricks / Randy Weston) 3:13
5.  Puttin' on the Ritz (Irving Berlin) 2:23
6.  Walkin' (Richard Carpenter) 2:59
7.  Moanin' (Jon Hendricks / Bobby Timmons) 3:03
8.  Sing You Sinners (Sam Coslow / Frank Harling) 2:27
9.  Whisper Not (Leonard Feather / Benny Golson) 2:49
10.  On Green Dolphin Street (Bronislaw Kaper / Ned Washington) 2:56
11.  Sidney's Soliloquy (Jimmy Wisner) 2:30
12.  Right Now (Herbie Mann / Carl Sigman) 2:12

Mel Torme (Vocals)
Larry Bunker (Drums)
Milt Bernhardt (Trombone)
Harry Betts (Trombone)
Joe Burnett (Trumpet)
Buddy Colette (Woodwind)
Shorty Rogers (Arranger, Conductor)
Ollie Mitchell (Trumpet)
Al Porcino (Trumpet)
Ray Tiscari (Trumpet)
Kenny Shroyer (Trombone)
John Kitzmiller (Tuba)
Bob Cooper (Woodwind)
Bill Hood (Woodwind)
Bud Shank (Woodwind)
Gene Estes (Vibraphone)
Mike Wofford (Piano)
Joe Mondragon (Double Bass)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Radio Tarifa - Temporal

Started around 1990, Radio Tarifa is a Spanish ensemble that has come into its own as a purveyor of pan-Mediterranean musical styles from across time. With a penchant for traditional gypsy pieces from Persia, North Africa, and their homeland, Radio Tarifa provides musical proof of the continuity of gypsy music throughout the world (a fact explicated in the film Latcho Drom with equal effectiveness). For their second release, Temporal, the ensemble concentrates on traditional material from Iberia, with pieces culled from Galician, Andalucian, Castilian, and Flamenco culture.
Reflecting the distinctly Middle Eastern influence -- via Moorish culture -- in Spanish music, many of the cuts here feature such Persian, Arabic, and North African instruments, including the tar lute, ney flute, and derbouka clay drum. The group also use Greek and Indian instruments, not to mention both medieval and modern devices like the crumhorn wind instrument, organ, and electric bass. This rich mix is topped off by some excellent vocal performances. Another fine title in the group's small but stellar catalog. - by Stephen Cook, AMG

Artist: Radio Tarifa
Album: Temporal
Year: 1996
Label: BMG
Runtime: 43:52

1.  La Tarara (Traditional/arr. Fain S. Duenas) 3:22
2.  Las Cuevas (Traditional/Benjamin Escoriza/arr. Fain S. Duenas) 5:11
3.  Canción Sefardi (Traditional/Benjamin Escoriza/arr. Fain S. Duenas) 4:22
4.  Baile de Almut (Fain S. Duenas) 3:50
5.  Solea (Traditional/arr. Fain S. Duenas) 4:29
6.  Tangos de la Condición (Traditional/arr. Fain S. Duenas) 4:22
7.  Conductus (Traditional/arr. Fain S. Duenas/Vincent Molino/Ramiro Amusategui) 4:04
8.  Temporal (Traditional/Benjamin Escoriza/arr. Fain S. Duenas) 5:31
9.  El Mandil de Carolina (Traditional/arr. Fain S. Duenas) 3:56
10.  Vestido de Flores (Traditional/Benjamin Escoriza/arr. Fain S. Duenas) 4:40

Fain S. Duenas (Banjo, Bouzouki, Bass Guitar, Spanish Guitarand Percussion)
Benjamin Escoriza (Vocals) - 1,3,8-10
Peter Oteo (Bass Guitar) - 1-3,7,10
Vincent Molino (Nay, Cromornos, Oboe) - 1-3,5,7,9
Ramiro Amusategui (Oud) - 1,6,7
Wafir Sh. Gibril (Accordeon, Violin) - 1,6,10
Jaime Muela (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone) - 1,7
Sebastian Rubio (Percussion) - 1,4
Rafael Jimenez (Vocals) - 5,6
Joaquin Ruiz (Flamenco Dance) - 2
Cope Gutierrez (Hammond Organ) - 3
Javier Colina (Double Bass) - 8
Javier Paxarino (Bansuri Flute) - 8

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ike Quebec - Bossa Nova Soul Samba

This was veteran tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec's final recording as a leader. It was cut in October 1962 and produced by Alfred Lion a little more than three months before the saxophonist's death. Bossa Nova Soul Samba was recorded and released during the bossa nova craze, as Brazilian music was first brought to the attention of pop listeners via Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd's smash hit with Tom Jobim's "Desafinado," on their Jazz Samba record for Verve in February. After that, seemingly everyone was making a bossa nova record. Quebec's effort is a bit unusual in that none of the musicians (guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Wendell Marshall, drummer Willie Bobo, and percussionist Garvin Masseaux) was associated with Brazilian (as opposed to Afro-Cuban) jazz before this, and that there isn't a single tune written by Jobim on the set. Quebec emphasizes warm, long tones (reminiscent of Coleman Hawkins in a romantic fashion), and his sidemen play light and appealing but nonetheless authoritative bossa rhythms. Standout tracks here include Burrell's own "Loie," which opens the disc, "Goin' Home," based on a tune by classical composer Antonin Dvorák and arranged by Quebec -- he does the same with "Liebestraum" two tunes later -- and the stunning "Favela," by the crack composing team of Joraci Camargo and Heckel Tavares. The result is high-quality melodic Brazilian dance music with Burrell shining in particular. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Ike Quebec
Album: Bossa Nova Jazz Samba
Year: 1962
Label: Blue Note (Remastered, 1996)
Runtime: 48:30

1.  Loie (Kenny Burrell) 3:12
2.  Lloro Tu Despedida (Cabral/Joraci Camargo/Lacerda) 3:06
3.  Goin' Home (Antonin Dvorák) 5:43
4.  Me 'N You (Ike Quebec) 6:01
5.  Liebestraum (Franz Liszt) 3:44
6.  Shu Shu (Antonio Almeida/Carlos Monteiro DeSouza) 3:32
7.  Blue Samba (Ike Quebec) 5:23
8.  Favela (Joraci Camargo/Heckel Tavares) 4:02
9.  Linda Flor (Henrique Vogeler) 3:28
10.  Loie (Alternate Take) (Kenny Burrell) 3:36
11.  Shu Shu (Alternate Take) (Antonio Almeida/Carlos Monteiro DeSouza) 3:21
12.  Favela (Alternate Take) (Joraci Camargo/Heckel Tavares) 3:22

Ike Quebec (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Burrell (Guitar)
Wendell Marshall (Double Bass)
Willie Bobo (Drums)
Garvin Masseaux (Chekere)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Paul Desmond - First Place Again

The title of this set by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond refers to his having placed first once again in the alto chair in the Downbeat poll. Released in 1959, First Place Again is the result of an unexpected gathering of the rhythm section of the Modern Jazz Quartet: Percy Heath and Connie Kay, and Jimmy Giuffre 3 guitarist Jim Hall. The four musicians were all unexpectedly at home in New York and took full advantage of cheap, after-hours recording studio time to play out this set of standards and a pair of newer tunes, John Lewis' great blues, "Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West," and "East of the Sun (and West Of The Moon)," from a Princeton University theater work. The rest, including a fine reading of "Greensleeves," which is short and tight here, Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick out of You," J. Fred Coots' "For All We Known," "You Got to My Head" -- another Coots' tune -- and Sammy Cahn's "Time After Time," are done with an airy, amiable vibe, especially the work between Hall and the rhythm section, which is full of counterpoint and sharp accents. Desmond, of course, being at that time the king of melodic improvisation on the alto -- with the possible exception of Art Pepper's ascendancy -- is in fine form. His whimsical, breathy, dry tone is sharp, on the spot, and full of ideas as he quotes from a vast number of tunes. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxed set if ultimately unmemorable. [Though the album was first released under the title First Place Again, it was reissued by the Discovery label in 1986 under the title East of the Sun. The track listing was the same, though the running oder was shuffled.] - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Paul Desmond
Album: First Place Again
Year: 1959 (Warner Bros.)
Label: Warner Japan (24bit remastered, 2014)
Runtime: 45:43

1.  I Get A Kick Out Of You (Cole Porter) 8:36 
2.  For All We Know (Fred Coots) 5:30 
3.  Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West (John Lewis) 7:25 
4.  Greensleeves (Traditional) 2:03 
5.  You Go To My Head (Fred Coots / Haven Gillespie) 6:25 
6.  East of the Sun (Euday L. Bowman) 5:42 
7.  Time After Time (Sammy Cahn / Jule Styne) 6:09 
8.  Susie (Paul Desmond) 3:50 *Bonus track

Paul Desmond (Alto Saxophone) 
Jim Hall (Guitar) 
Percy Heath (Double Bass) 
Connie Kay (Drums)


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