Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oregon - 45th Parallel

Oregon bothers jazz people because a) they're difficult to categorize, and b) they radiate endlessly cheerful vibes bordering on vacuous new age while maintaining a sharp improvisational edge. So goes this high-profile appearance on Columbia's spinoff label, which sometimes stays within the bounds of post-bop jazz yet is more likely to go veering off in contemplative folk-like, Asiatic, Spanish, or even neo-classical directions. Ralph Towner handles both the piano and various guitars and synthesizers with equal facility, while Paul McCandless' reed work evokes the pure white light of Paul Winter; Glen Moore continues to man the bass; Trilok Gurtu alternates between tabla and traps; and Nancy King checks in with a bout of eccentric scatting on "Chihuahua Dreams." This is intriguing, free-thinking stuff, always intelligent, evidently durable, yet the music misses the spark of true inspiration that could have made it memorable. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Oregon
Album: 45th Parallel
Year: 1988
Label: veraBra (1990)
Runtime: 48:37

1.  Pageant (Ralph Towner) 6:23
2.  Hand in Hand (Ralph Towner) 5:58
3.  King Font (Ralph Towner) 5:27
4.  Riding On The D Train (Ralph Towner) 2:28
5.  Beneath An Evening Sky (Ralph Towner) 4:59
6.  Chihuahua Dreams (Glen Moore) 4:58
7.  Urumchi (Paul McCandless) 4:12
8.  Les Douzilles (Ralph Towner) 7:22
9.  Bombay Vice (Trilok Gurtu) 4:53
10.  Pageant (Epilogue) (Ralph Towner) 1:53

Paul McCandless (Piccolo and Soprano Saxophone, Oboe, English Horn, Bass Clarinet)
Ralph Towner (Piano, Synthesizer, Guitar)
Glen Moore (Double Bass)
Trilok Gurtu (Tabla, Drums, Percussion and Voice)
Nancy King (Vocals) - 6

Monday, December 27, 2010

Taj Mahal - Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal's debut album was a startling statement in its time and has held up remarkably well. Recorded in August of 1967, it was as hard and exciting a mix of old and new blues sounds as surfaced on record in a year when even a lot of veteran blues artists (mostly at the insistence of their record labels) started turning toward psychedelia. The guitar virtuosity, embodied in Taj Mahal's slide work (which had the subtlety of a classical performance), Jesse Ed Davis's lead playing, and rhythm work by Ry Cooder and Bill Boatman, is of the neatly stripped-down variety that was alien to most records aiming for popular appeal, and the singer himself approached the music with a startling mix of authenticity and youthful enthusiasm. The whole record is a strange and compelling amalgam of stylistic and technical achievements -- filled with blues influences of the 1930s and 1940s, but also making use of stereo sound separation and the best recording technology. The result was numbers like Sleepy John Estes' "Diving Duck Blues," with textures resembling the mix on the early Cream albums, while "The Celebrated Walkin' Blues" (even with Cooder's animated mandolin weaving its spell on one side of the stereo mix) has the sound of a late '40s Chess release by Muddy Waters. Blind Willie McTell ("Statesboro Blues") and Robert Johnson ("Dust My Broom") are also represented, in what had to be one of the most quietly, defiantly iconoclastic records of 1968. - by Bruce Eder, AMG

Artist: Taj Mahal
Album: Taj Mahal
Year: 1968
Label: Sony/Columbia (360 Sound Series, 2000)
Total time: 33:02

1.  Leaving Trunk (Sleepy John Estes) 4:51
2.  Statesboro Blues (Willie McTell) 2:59
3.  Checkin' Up On My Baby (Sonny Boy Williamson) 4:54
4.  Everybody's Got To Change Sometime (Sleepy John Estes) 2:57
5.  EZ Rider (Taj Mahal) 3:03
6.  Dust My Broom (Robert Johnson) 2:39
7.  Diving Duck Blues (Sleepy John Estes) 2:41
8.  The Celebrated Walkin' Blues (Traditional/arr. Taj Mahal) 8:55

Taj Mahal (Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin and Harp)
Jessie Edwin Davis (Guitar) - 1-7
Ry Cooder (Rhythm Guitar) - 1,2,4,5,8
James Thomas (Bass Guitar) - 1,2,4,5
Samford Konikoff (Drums) - 1,2,4,5
Bill Boatman (Rhythm Guitar) - 6,7
Gary Gilmore (Bass Guitar) - 6,7

Petros Tabouris & Shankar Chattergee - Modes and Talas

Petros Tabouris born in Athens, Greece. He has occupied himself with Greek traditional music cince his childhood and learnt to play the oui, the nai and mainly the Canonaki. He has worked on the ancient and medieval Greek music and has established a strong presence with these subjects in the recent recordings. He has cooperated with many groups and Greek composers by playing the kanonaki.
Shankar Chattergee born in Calcutta, west Bengal. He started learning tabla from his childhood and studied Indian classical music under wellknown masters of Rabindra Bharati Academy. He learnt Tabla improvisation and technique from the famous tabla player Keramadtulla Khan. Shankarlal has performed not only in India but also in Germany and many countries of Europe and showed his activities giving lectures, workshops and experiment conserts with great succes. - from CD booklet.

Artist: Petros Tabouris & Shankar Chattergee
Album: Modes and Talas
Year: 1995
Label: F.M. Records
Runtime: 43:23


1.  The Mediteranean (Petros Tabouris) 2:20
2.  Tatavilianos syrtos (Traditional) 2:13
3.  Taxsim in the fourth plagal mode (Petros Tabouris) 2:45
4.  Song of Rabindranath Tagore (Rabindranath Tagore) 1:35
5.  Tabla improvisation in Tala teental (Shankar Chattegee) 2:57
6.  Sultaniyegiah sirto (Traditional) 3:04
7.  Huseini Semai (Andonis Kiriazis) 3:47
8.  Mantilatos (Traditional) 2:29
9.  Sigathistos (Traditional) 1:47
10.  Taxsim in the second plagal mode (Petros Tabouris) 2:24
11.  Steps in the sand (Petros Tabouris) 3:22
12.  Punjab folk dance (Traditional) 2:00
13.  Fantasy in Nihavent (Traditional) 2:30
14.  Sehnaz Semai (Kementzensi Nikolakis) 3:57
15.  Taxim in the fourth chromatic plagal mode (Petros Tabouris) 2:12
16.  Indian dance (Shankar Chattergee) 1:20
17.  The Euxine (Petros Tabouris) 2:33

Petros Tabouris (Canonaki, Nai)
Shankar Chattergee (Tablas)
Kyriakos Gouventas (Violin)
Yiannis Papatriantafyllou (Bass)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Don Cherry & Ed Blackwell - El Corazón

Trumpet and drum duets are not exactly commonplace, making this collaboration between Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell something special. The music is often quite sparse (Cherry also plays a little bit of piano, melodica and organ) and the colorful Blackwell often steals the show (although the trumpeter's unaccompanied "Voice of the Silence" is a highpoint). The use of space is consistently impressive and those listeners with open ears will find this thoughtful date quite interesting. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Trumpeter Don Cherry and drummer Ed Blackwell had a long creative relationship, beginning in Ornette Coleman's early quartets and continuing intermittently throughout their careers, including the excellent band Old and New Dreams. This 1982 session presents duets, solos, and mini-suites that reveal profound empathy and a shared interest in African and Mediterranean music, with an emphasis on rhythmic and melodic fundamentals carried throughout the CD. Cherry's pocket trumpet has a strong Spanish tinge on "Solidarity" and "El Corazón," while his piano is suitably Monkish on "Bemsha Swing." Blackwell's carefully tuned drums are an added melodic element, with his roots in New Orleans parade drumming showing on "Rhythm for Runner." His "Near-in" is an extended and hypnotic piece for wood drums, while Cherry's "Makondi" is complex percussion music that expands on repeated figures. The concluding "Voice of the Silence" is a strikingly solitary trumpet solo that's magnified by an eerie resonance. This is intimate and magical music making by two very resourceful artists. - by Stuart Broomer,

Artist: Don Cherry & Ed Blackwell
Album: El Corazón
Year: 1982
Label: ECM
Runtime: 44:32

1.  Mutron/Bemsha Swing/Solidarity/Arabian Nightingale (Don Cherry/Thelonious Monk) 15:18
2.  Roland Alphonso (Roland Alphonso) 3:17
3.  Makondi (Don Cherry) 3:49
4.  Street Dancing (Ed Blackwell)  2:21
5.  Short Stuff/El Corazón/Rhythm for Runner (Ed Blackwell/Don Cherry) 7:29
6.  Near-In (Ed Blackwell) 6:43
7.  Voice of the Silence (Don Cherry) 5:32

Don Cherry (Trumpet, Piano, Melodica, Doussn'gouni and Organ)
Ed Blackwell (Drums, Wood Drums and Cowbell)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Harry Belafonte - My Lord What a Mornin'

With this album, Belafonte moved into his most artistically productive period. The albums he made into the mid-60s were all concept albums zeroing in on specific folk music themes. My Lord What A Mornin' was the first of two albums that featured the choir known as the Belafonte Folk Singers, conducted by Bob Corman, who were now recording as a group on their own for RCA Victor. The album consists of traditional Negro spirituals, delivered by Belafonte who combined his acting and singing abilities with his deep understanding of the subject matter, thanks to his growing interest in his African-American heritage and the civil rights movement. Noted poet Langston Hughes penned the liner notes, describing in detail the history of spirituals. This is an emotional, satisfying album, although not quite as powerful as Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall. The CD reissue of this album includes 5 bonus tracks at the end. - by Cary Ginell, AMG

Artist: Harry Belafonte
Album: My Lord What a Mornin'
Year: 1960
Label: RCA Victors (1995)
Total time: 56:30

1.  Wake Up Jacob 1:55 
2.  My Lord What A Mornin' 4:27 
3.  Ezekiel 3:41 
4.  Buked And Scorned 4:45 
5.  Stars Shinin' (By 'N By) 1:38 
6.  Oh Freedom 3:22 
7.  Were You There When They Crucified My Lord 4:38 
8.  Oh Let Me Fly 2:11 
9.  Swing Low 4:02 
10.  March Down To Jordan 3:28 
11.  Steal Away 3:47 
12.  All My Trials 4:04 
13.  Michael Row The Boat Ashore 3:59 
14.  Go Down Emanuel Road 3:12 
15.  In My Fathers House 3:37 
16.  Goin' Down Jordan 3:38 

Harry Belafonte (Vocals)
The Belafonte Folk Singers (choir)
Bob Corman (conductor)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

John Scofield - Steady Groovin'

This collection of Blue Note sides from John Scofield's tenure at the label shows the kind of music that helped build his reputation as one of the world's most prominent jazz guitarists. Scofield's unique style is everywhere on this album and he travels around the edges of the jazz sound, sticking an occasional toe into blues, like on "Chariots" and "Lazy," groovy spacy sounds on "Camp Out," and tropical music on "Carlos." Overall this is a fine collection with very little filler. - by Stacia Proefrock, AMG

I consider Steady Groovin' one of John Scofield's best albums ever. The band here is at its best and the collected songs reflect all Scofield's maturity as a contemporary jazz composer. I strongly recommend this album for those who appreciate Scofield's style.- by Rogerha,

Artist: John Scofield
Album: Steady Groovin'
Year: 1989-1995
Label: Blue Note (1999)
Total time: 66:35

1.  Kool 4:50
2.  Do Like Eddie 8:09
3.  Chariots 6:03
4.  Lazy 4:46
5.  Camp Out 8:02
6.  7th Floor 4:50
7.  Carlos 7:29
8.  Big Top 6:33
9.  She's So Lucky 5:56
10.  Twang 6:11
11.  Fat Lip 3:46
All compositions - by John Scofield

John Scofield (Guitar)
Howard Johnson (Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet and Tuba) - 1,4,6,7
Steve Turre (Trombone) - 1,4,7,8
Billy Drewes (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,4,7,8
Randy Brecker (Trumpet and Flugelhorn) - 1,4,7,8,10
Larry Goldings (Organ) - 1,2,4,6-8
Idris Muhammad (Drums) - 1,4,6,7
Don Alias (Percussion) - 1,2,4,6-9
Eddie Harris (Tenor Saxophone) - 2
Dennis Irwin (Bass) - 2,5,6,9
Bill Stewart (Drums) - 2,3,5,6,9
Joe Lovano (Tenor Saxophone) - 3,5,11
Charlie Haden (Double Bass) - 10,11
Marc Johnson (Bass) - 3
John Clark (French Horn) - 10
Jim Pugh (Trombone) - 10
Joey Baron (Drums) - 10
Jack DeJohnette (Drums) - 11

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges - Plays the Blues Back to Back

These distinctive small-group sessions, featuring Duke Ellington as pianist in a blues context, are part of a group of recordings issued under the confusing titles Back to Back and Side by Side, and further reissued under the not particularly distinctive name of Blues Summit. But there should be no confusion about the high quality of music that came out of these sessions -- it is all "cooking with gas" as the expression goes. From the jazz world, it would be difficult to find more profound soloists on traditional blues numbers than the Duke or his longtime collaborator Johnny Hodges, who does some of the most soulful playing of his career here. Also hitting a very high standard for himself is trumpeter Harry Edison and, while musicians are being patted on the back, the Jones boys in the rhythm section should be given a hand. That's Jo Jones (drums) and Sam Jones (bass), so as not to create additional confusion in the Jones-heavy jazz world. The songs all have titles that end in "Blues," with the oddball having "Love" in the title not once but twice. (It's "Loveless Love," what else?) But these songs are just vehicles for playing the blues, a formula that has produced great music many times, and certainly did every time this particular pianist was leading the group. - by Eugene Chadbourne, AMG

Artist: Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges
Album: Plays the Blues Back to Back
Year: 1959
Label: Verve (Master Edition, 20-bit remastered, 1997)
Runtime: 47:43

1.  Wabash Blues (Fred Meinken/Dave Ringle) 6:30
2.  Basin Street Blues (Spencer Williams) 8:05
3.  Beale Street Blues (W.C. Handy) 7:39
4.  Weary Blues (Arthur Matthews) 6:58
5.  The St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) 5:51
6.  Loveless Love (W.C. Handy)  7:13
7.  Royal Garden Blues (Clarence Williams/Spencer Williams) 5:24

Duke Ellington (Piano)
Johnny Hodges (Alto Saxophone)
Harry "Sweets" Edison (Tenor Saxophone)
Joe Jones (Drums)
Les Spann (Guitar)
Sam Jones (Double Bass) - 2,3,5-7
Al Hall (Double Bass) - 1,4

Monday, December 20, 2010

Suba - Sao Paulo Confessions

Brazil's Sao Paulo is the largest city in South America, home to an estimated 19 million inhabitants. In 1992, this megalopolis ranked as the world's third largest city, coming in behind Tokyo and Mexico City. Within Sao Paulo's environs, like within any 21st century city, there is diversity and disparity, super-modern chic, and profound indigence. On the CD Sao Paulo Confessions, the Yugoslavian-born Brazilian pianist, producer, and programmer Suba mixed the modernity of techno beats and sampled loops with traditional Brazilian musics. Suba, who previously played piano with Hermeto Pascoal and Marcos Suzano, and produced records for such well-known Brazilian artists as Marina Lima, Mestre Ambrosio, Edson Cordeiro, and Arnaldo Artunes, collaborated on Sao Paulo Confessions with percussionist Joao Parahyba and vocalists Cibelle and Taciana. Their live percussion and vocals, in addition to a number of acoustic guitar melodies, add enormous depth to Suba's inventive compositions. Unfortunately, the songs suffer when a standard techno dancehall bass drum line is added to the mix. The techno beat tends to take Joao Parahyba's uniquely Brazilian rhythms and override their subtleties with an extremely uninteresting and plodding beat. Nonetheless, particularly commendable tracks on Sao Paulo Confessions include "Vocé Gosta" and "Antropofagos," which both feature reverberating street samba rhythms. The CD's eighth track, "Sereia," has at its core what sounds like an oscillating electronic cuica. In sum, Suba, who died from smoke inhalation during a fire in his Sao Paulo apartment and studio, was indeed one of Brazil's most promising exponents of modern Brazilian music. Though his death is undeniably tragic, Suba's inventive and visionary Sao Paulo Confessions will allow his legacy to live one. - by John Vallier, AMG

Artist: Suba
Album: Sao Paulo Confessions
Year: 2000
Label: Ziriguiboom
Runtime: 57:17

1.  Tantos Desejos (So Many Desires) (Suba/Taciana) 4:27
2.  Você Gosta (I Know What You Like) (Suba/Taciana) 4:20
3.  Na Neblina (In the Fog) (Suba) 4:43
4.  Segredo (Secret) (Suba/Katia B.) 4:03
5.  Antropofagos (Cannibals) (Suba) 6:22
6.  Felicidade (Happiness) (Vinicius de Moraes/Tom Jobim) 4:10
7.  Um Dia Comum (A Normal Day) (Suba) 4:58
8.  Sereia (Mermaid) (Suba/Beco/Cibelle) 6:00
9.  Samba Do Gringo Paulista (Paulista Gringo's Samba) (Suba) 4:49
10.  Abraço (Embrace) 1:12
(Suba/Arnaldo Antunes) 
11.  Pecados da Madrugada (Sins Before Dawn) (Suba) 5:05
12.  Noite Sem Fim (The Endless Night) (Suba) 7:02

Suba (Piano, Keyboards, Programming)
Joao Parahyba (Drums and Percussion) - 1,2,4,6,9,10
Cibelle (Vocals) - 1,6,8
Taciana (Vocals) - 2
Katia B. (Vocals) - 4
Mestre Ambrosio (Percussion, Bass) - 6
Luis do Monte (Acoustic Guitar) - 6
Kuaker (Guitar) - 7
Roberto Frejat (Cavaco) - 9
Arnaldo Antunes (Vocals) - 10
Joanna Jones (Vocals) - 10
Edgard Scandurra (Guitar) - 10
Andre Geraissati (Acoustic Guitar) - 12

Friday, December 17, 2010

Count Basie Trio - For the First Time

Throughout his career, Count Basie was modest about his own abilities as a pianist, and his success at streamlining his style to the bare essentials often made listeners underrate his playing talents. This 1974 session was a rarity, an opportunity for Basie to be featured in a trio setting (with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Louie Bellson), during which he provides enough variety to hold one's interest and enough technique to lead many to reassess his piano skills. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Ray Brown's bass just dominates this set, and Basie never sounded better on the piano or organ then in this trio setting. Bellson is great too, swinging with brushes and cymbals. But anyone even remotely a fan of Ray Brown should snap this up right now! - by Luke,

Artist: Count Basie Trio
Album: For the First Time
Year: 1974
Label: Pablo
Total time: 55:52

1.  Baby Lawrence (Count Basie) 3:14
2.  Pres (Count Basie) 3:28
3.  I'll Always Be In Love With You (Bud Green/Herman Ruby/Sam H. Stept) 5:56
4.  Blues In The Church (Count Basie) 5:01
5.  O Lady Be Good (Concept 1) (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 5:32
6.  O Lady Be Good (Concept 2) (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 3:59
7.  Blues In The Alley (Count Basie) 6:44
8.  As Long As I Live (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 3:34
9.  Song Of The Islands (Charles King E.) 4:53
10.  Royal Garden Blues (Clarence Williams/Spencer Williams) 4:29
11.  (Un)Easy Does It (Sy Oliver/Trummy Young) 4:09
12.  O.P. (Count Basie) 4:49

Count Basie (Piano)
Ray Brown (Double Bass)
Louis Bellson (Drums)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pharoah Sanders - Tauhid

Although introduced as a protege of John Coltrane and touted by many as his heir apparent, reedman Pharoah Sanders quickly proved his own man. His shared interest in the "cosmic" music of Coltrane's final period belies the fact that Sanders frequently plays with an unhurried sense of peace and satisfaction rarely found in his mentor's music. His use of space, African and Asian motifs and instruments, and simple, repetitive melodies also pointed the way for jazz, rock, and new age musicians in the '70s and '80s, while his sometimes raucous use of harsh, shrieking runs influenced many of jazz's most adventurous saxophonists. Tauhid showcases both of those abilities. By turns meditative and impulsive, Tauhid's lynchpin is the 17-minute "Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt," on which Sanders plays piccolo in the first half and tenor sax in the second; the duality of the composition suggests both the ancient and modern aspects of Africa and, in turn, its melding with European and American culture. "Japan," a short composition on which Sanders performs a warm, spry vocalese, is both folksy and engaging, while the album's closing triumvirate of "Aum," "Venus," and "Capricorn Rising" proves wild and woolly. - by Fred Goodman,

Artist: Pharoah Sanders
Album: Tauhid
Year: 1967
Label: Impulse (1993)
Runtime: 34:27

1.  Upper Egypt & Lower Egypt 16:16
2.  Japan 3:24
3.  a. Aum b. Venus c. Capricorn Rising 14:46
All compositions by Pharoah Sanders

Pharoah Sanders (Tenor and Alto Saxophone, Piccolo and Vocals)
Sonny Sharrock (Guitar)
Dave Burrell (Piano)
Henry Grimes (Double Bass)
Roger Blank (Drums)
Nat Bettis (Percussion)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lester Bowie - Funky T. Cool T.

Funky T. Cool T. is round two culled from Lester Bowie's three-day organ groove band and the diet is pretty much taped leftovers. Ensemble heads and group sound are in short supply -- the music is basically solos, mostly by Bowie, that gauzily float over Amina Claudine Myers' organ and a Famoudou Don Moye-Phillip Wilson foundation that suggests grooves more often than it plays them. You could say the music doesn't match the sum of its parts, except that two of the six parts are all but missing in action. Steve Turre takes three short solos, two of which leave absolutely no trace, but the voice-tones-with-mute one on "Cool T." at least registers. James Carter does a great job of measuring the rhythms to the opener, "Funky T.," his tenor floating and stinging and fitting into the groove...and gets cut off just as he was getting warmed up. And he's basically gone after that. "Funky T." rides over Myers' ghostly toned funk riff and Bowie heavily into his imitating-the-human-voice trumpet style. And it's worth the price of admission when the duo goes pure gospel church on "When the Spirit Returns," with Myers comping gloriously behind Bowie speaking in trumpet voices. "Cool T." gets close to a traditional organ group ensemble sound before launching into an easy-rolling Myers solo with a light-touch left-hand bass. But the standard "What's New?" is so minimal it barely exists, and "Afternoon in Brooklyn" gets an energy injection from percussion and drum flurries (finally) but just kinda drifts atmospherically along. You have to dig for the sporadic good stuff on Funky T. Cool T. and it's all down to Bowie and Myers -- if you want a sample of early James Carter as the youngblood among these graybeard vets, The Organizer is better and overall it's a more substantial disc, anyway. But it really seems like Lester Bowie threw this group away -- too bad, because the combination of his sensibility, this genre, and these players had a lot of potential. - by Don Snowden, AMG

Artist: Lester Bowie's New York Organ Ensemble
Album: Funky T. Cool T.
Year: 1991
Label: DIW
Runtime: 48:06

1.  Funky T. (Steve Turre) 8:04
2.  What's New (Bob Haggard) 9:05
3.  When The Spirit Returns (Lester Bowie) 9:16
4.  Cool T. (Lester Bowie) 10:42
5.  Afternoon In Brooklyn (Lester Bowie) 10:57

Lester Bowie (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Steve Turre (Trombone)
Amina Claudine Myers (Organ)
James Carter (Tenor Saxophone)
Famoudou Don Moye (Drums and Percussion)
Philip Wilson (Drums)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sammy Davis & Count Basie - Our Shining Hour

This is one of popular entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr's best jazz-oriented albums. The CD reissue features Davis with the Count Basie Orchestra performing arrangements by Quincy Jones. Unfortunately, the personnel of the Basie band is not given, but the orchestra mostly acts as a prop behind Davis much of the time anyway. The singer is heard in top form on "Teach Me Tonight," "Work Song," and "Keepin' out of Mischief Now," adding a bit of tap dancing to a lighthearted "Bill Basie Won't You Please Come Home." Some of the more poppish tunes, such as "Blues for Mr. Charlie" and "She's a Woman," are a bit dated, but, in general, fans of Sammy Davis Jr will want this set. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Sammy Davis Jr. & Count Basie
Album: Our Shining Our
Year: 1965
Label: Verve (Digitally Remastered, 1994)
Runtime: 35:05

1.  My Shining Hour (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) 2:10
2.  Teach Me Tonight (Gene De Paul/Sammy Cahn) 3:05
3.  Work Song (Nat Adderley/Oscar Brown, Jr.) 2:12
4.  Why Try To Change Me Now (Cy Coleman/Joseph A. McCarthy) 3:24
5.  Blues For Mr. Charlie (Bobby Sharp) 3:43
6.  April In Paris (Vernon Duke/E.Y.Harburg) 2:51
7.  New York City Blues (Peggy Lee/Quincy Jones) 2:51
8.  You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (James Cavanaugh/Russ Morgan/Larry Stock) 2:58
9.  She's A Woman (W-O-M-A-N) (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller) 2:21
10.  The Girl From Ipanema (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius De Moraes/Norman Gimbel) 4:07
11.  Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now (Andy Razaf/Thomas Waller) 2:51
12.  Bill Basie Won't You Please Come Home (Quincy Jones/Count Basie/Sammy Davis Jr.) 2:38

Count Basie - piano
Sammy Davis Jr. - vocals
Quincy Jones - arrangements
with Count Basie Orchestra

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ray Brown & Laurindo Almeida - Moonlight Serenade

After all these years, some jazz historians continue to lament the end of the big-band era; they continue to remind listeners how much of a thrill it can be to hear 20 or 25 seasoned jazz musicians playing together. But there is also a lot to be said for intimacy in jazz -- the sort of intimacy that serves bassist Ray Brown and Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida delightfully well on Moonlight Serenade. Recorded in Germany in 1981, this session finds Brown and Almeida forming an acoustic duo -- and the two of them enjoy a consistently strong rapport on lyrical, introspective performances of material that ranges from Tin Pan Alley standards ("Blue Skies," "Beautiful Love") to Brazilian songs (Ary Barroso's "Inquietaçao") to European classical music (Johann Sebastian Bach's Air). One of the most ambitious tracks on the album is a medley that combines Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" with Ludwig van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (as opposed to "Moonlight Serenade" -- although this 70-minute CD is titled Moonlight Serenade, the gem that became Glenn Miller's theme song is not part of the program). "'Round Midnight," of course, is one of those standards that has been recorded thousands of times over the years; it has been recorded so often that veteran producer Orrin Keepnews once described it as "the national anthem of jazz." But it isn't every day that one hears "'Round Midnight" successfully blended with Beethoven -- something that Brown and Almeida are able to accomplish because they obviously know one another so well musically. Moonlight Serenade, it should be stressed, wasn't the first time the two of them joined forces: Brown and Almeida had played together in the L.A. 4 in the '70s -- so they were a perfect combination when, in 1981, they recorded the cohesive guitar/bass duets on this excellent CD. - by Alex Henderson, AMG

Artist: Ray Brown & Laurindo Almeida
Album: Moonlight Serenade
Year: 1981
Label: Jeton
Runtime: 70:15

1.  Mondsheinsonate/Round About Midnight (L. von Beethoven/Thelonius Monk) 6:04
2.  Samba De Angry (Tamar Burdett) 3:45
3.  Beautiful Love (Haven Gillespie/Wayne King/Egbert Van Alstyne/Victor Young) 6:34
4.  Air On A 'G'-String (J.S. Bach) 2:32
5.  Malaguena (Ernesto Lecuona) 4:48
6.  Blue Skies (Irving Berlin) 3:48
7.  Make The Man Love You (Traditional) 2:15
8.  Inquietacao (Ari Barroso) 3:12
9.  My Man Is Gone (Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin/Dubose Heyward) 3:44
10.  Laurindos (Laurindo Almeida) 2:37
11.  Mondsheinsonate/Round About Midnight (L. von Beethoven/Thelonius Monk) 6:06
12.  Beautiful Love (Haven Gillespie/Wayne King/Egbert Van Alstyne/Victor Young) 6:46
13.  Air (J.S. Bach) 4:12
14.  Malaguena (Ernesto Lecuona) 4:48
15.  Blue Skies (Irving Berlin) 3:34
16.  Make The Man Love You (Traditional) 2:16
17.  Inquietacao (Ari Barroso) 3:14

Ray Brown (Double Bass)
Laurindo Almeida (Guitar)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pachora - Ast

Ast is the third release from Pachora, continuing their exploration of modal, ethnic flavored jazz. The rhythms and melodies are based in the music of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean basin, blended with the downtown flair of improvisation. For this recording Brad Shepik has abandoned the guitar in favor of the electric saz (a Turkish lute with paired sets of strings similar to a bouzouki). Shepik and Chris Speed, on clarinet, are the main soloists, although the rhythm section also receives some space. Jim Black is consistently one of the most interesting and intuitive drummers on the scene today. Bassist Skulli Sverisson is as agile as anyone on the electric bass and, together with Black, provides a solid backdrop for Shepik and Speed's improvisitory flights of fancy. Chris Speed is dazzling on the clarinet, as he floats and dances above the rhythm section, and Shepik's saz has a lush, understated beauty. The apparent ease with which Pachora performs intricate unison melodies and odd time signatures is a testament to each individual's instrumental prowess, as well as to several years of performing as a unit. The tunes are almost all original compositions, as opposed to the mixture of originals and traditional pieces of their previous two releases. The cover of David Bowie's "Man Who Sold the World" is not nearly as out of place as it might seem at first glance and drives home the point that while Pachora is grounded in the traditional dance music of the eastern Mediterranean, they exist and perform as part of the genre-defying downtown aesthetic. - by Sean Westergaard, AMG

Artist: Pachora
Album: Ast
Year: 1999
Label: Knitting Factory
Runtime: 52:40

1.  Freaky Person (Chris Speed) 4:36
2.  Aquarians (Brad Shepik) 5:04
3.  Blue Starfish (Brad Shepik) 8:34
4.  Falevasinta (Jim Black) 5:10
5.  Rebetiki (Chris Speed) 5:14
6.  Maria Changed (Skuli Sverrisson) 8:04
7.  The Man Who Sold the World (David Bowie) 6:30
8.  Scorpions (Chris Speed) 5:34
9.  Filipovska Rachenitsa (Pachora/Dimitar Paskov/Traicho Sinapov) 3:54

Chris Speed (Clarinet)
Brad Shepik (Tamboura, Electric Saz)
Skuli Sverrisson (Bass)
Jim Black (Drums, Dumbek, Percussion)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Paul Giger - Alpstein

Violin virtuoso Paul Giger revisits his roots with this, his second solo recording, Alpstein, which features pieces for violin, saxophone, and percussion based on the folk traditions of the Alpstein region of Switzerland. Three pieces here are entitled "Zäuerli" -- named after the sad majestic "natur yodel" tradition of the Outer Rhoden region. These are sweeping and majestic with high harmonic bowstrokes. This recording features the saxophone work of Jan Garbarek and the percussion of Pierre Favre. Both add an incredible warmth to the recording on the pieces they are featured on, most notably "Alpsegen" with its soaring sax lines and manic percussion. Also notable is "Chlauseschuppel," featuring the sounds of cowbells specific to that region. Informative booklet included. - by Mark W.B. Allender, AMG

Artist: Paul Giger, Jan Garbarek, Pierre Favre
Album: Alpstein
Year: 1991
Label: ECM
Runtime:  62:34

1.  Zäuerli 3:10 
2.  Karma Shadub 13:41 
3.  Alpsegen 12:43 
4.  Zäuerli 1:53 
5.  Zäuerli 2:21 
6.  Chuereihe 17:33 
7.  Chlauseschuppel 4:09 
8.  Trogener Chilbiläbe 7:00 
All compositions by Paul Giger

Paul Giger (Violin)
Jan Garbarek (Tenor Saxophone)
Pierre Favre (Percussion)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Paul Horn - Inside the Taj Mahal + Inside II

Inside the Taj Mahal is -- to use a much overused term -- a classic in the new age community. Indeed, in 2002, New Age Voice solicited input and compiled a list of the most influential 25 new age albums of all time. This masterpiece is right there at number 11. The perfect acoustics of the great hall (a 28-second echo with no breakup) intrigued Paul Horn and he received permission to perform and record there. This glorious album is a processing marvel and the harbinger of many great performances to come. The marvel is that the echo is the only process. It gives Horn's flute a layered texture, almost a reverb feel. The sentry on duty adds some strange Hindi chanting. Horn's wonderful flute is the focal point, however, and, as always, he is up to the task. The marvelous melodies and deep improvs are matchless, seamless, and timeless. This is one of the Top Ten acoustic ambient albums ever. Its place on the list of the 25 most influential is well-deserved. - by Jim Brenholts, AMG

Artist: Paul Horn
Album: Inside the Taj Mahal / Inside 2
Year: 1968/1972
Label: Kuckuck (1991)
Runtime: 73:11

1.  Prologue/Inside 3:58 
2.  Meditation/Mantra I 2:20 
3.  Mumtaz Mahal 3:24 
4.  Unity 4:34 
5.  Agra 1:39 
6.  Vibrations 1:42 
7.  Akasha 2:53 
8.  Jumna 2:46 
9.  Shah Jahan 5:39 
10.  Duality/Mantra II 2:26 
11.  Mantra III/Ustad Isa 2:43 
12.  The Mahabhutas (Elements) 19:59 
13.  Haida 5:42 
14.  Bach Chorales #10, #13, #164, #270 (J.S. Bach) 4:21
15.  Centaur 6:23 
16.  Mass: Kyrie (Palestrina/Arr. Paul Horn) 2:36

Paul Horn (Flutes and Piccolo)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cannonball Adderley - In New York

This album (reissued on CD) was the recording debut of altoist Cannonball Adderley's strongest group, his sextet with brother Nat on cornet; Yusef Lateef on tenor, oboe, and flute; pianist Joe Zawinul; bassist Sam Jones; and drummer Louis Hayes. All of Lateef's 1962-1963 recordings with Adderley are well worth acquiring. This live set (recorded at the Village Vanguard) has plenty of variety and is highlighted by "Gemini," the boppish "Dizzy's Business," and "Scotch and Water." - by Scott Yanow,AMG

When multi-reed player Yusef Lateef joined Cannonball and Nat he brought an added dimension to the exuberant funk of the Adderley brothers. Just listen to his mysterious composition "Syn-athesia" and you'll hear what I mean. The recipe for the rest of the performances, recorded live in 1962 at the Village Vanguard, is uptempo and everyone was in the mood to play hard! After Cannonball's verbal introduction bassist Sam Jones leads the guys into a rousing Jimmy Heath composition titled "Gemini." Here Yusef gets some particularly wild sounds out of his tenor sax. The heat continues on Lateef's composition "Planet Earth." Another highlight is pianist Joe Zawinul's sprightly tune "Scotch and Water," in which, as Cannonball points out, he tries to capture the exuberance of said drink; he succeed by the way! Another exciting evening of jazz at the Vanguard! - by Andrew Stevenson,

Artist: The Cannonball Adderley Sextet
Album: The Cannonball Adderley Sextet in New York
Year: (1962)
Label: OJC (1987)
Runtime: 44:59

1.  Introduction - By Cannonball 1:53
2.  Gemini (Jimmy Heath) 11:47
3.  Planet Earth (Yusef Lateef) 8:00
4.  Dizzy's Business (Ernie Wilkins) 7:01
5.  Syn-anthesia (Yusef Lateef) 7:04
6.  Scotch and Water (Joe Zawinul) 5:55
7.  Cannon's Theme (Sam Jones) 3:15

Cannonball Adderley (Alto Saxophone)
Nat Adderley (Cornet)
Yusef Lateef (Tenor Saxophone, Flute and Oboe)
Joe Zawinul (Piano)
Sam Jones (Double Bass)
Louis Hayes (Drums)

Oregon - Moon and Mind

Although it doesn't state it anywhere on the CD itself, this one is a bit different from all of the Oregon projects before or since. This recording on the Vanguard label is from 1979 and has a very good recorded sound for the time. I would say this is my very favorite Oregon recording ("Winter Light" comes a close second), from the bands first decade, my favorite recording at least up until the time they recorded for the ECM lable in the mid 1980's. Oregon has a large body of compositions, many of which have been recorded several times at intervals years apart, with slight changes in arrangement. However this recording has 9 pieces that I don't recall the band has recorded since, so there are no familiar well-known Oregon pieces here. Don't let that stop you, though. I don't know who's idea it was to record the musicians in various combinations, in a series of duets (some with overdubbing it seems), but this was a wonderful idea. Perhaps it was a desire to do something different from previous albums since the band was very busy recording during this period in their career. Anyway, it works for me. We get Ralph Towner on guitars and piano, Glen Moore on upright bass and piano, Colin Walcot on hand percussion and sitar, and Paul McCandless on various wind instruments including flutes. So there are lots of variations of instruments track to track, and the recording never gets boring or "samey" sounding. It seems every combination of the 4 musicians in duet is covered here and there's not a single track that I don't like. That's quite an achievment for me, even from a group as talented as this. If you're only going to get 2 recordings from the groups period from 1969-1983 (after which they went to record for the ECM label) I would not hesitate to pick up this one and "Winter Light". - by Phasedin,

Artist: Oregon
Album: Moon and Mind
Year: 1979
Label: Vanguard
Runtime: 40:55

1.  Person-To-Person (Ralph Towner) 3:15
2.  I Remember Me (Jan Hammer) 4:04
3.  Rejoicing (Traditional) 4:21
4.  The Elk (Paul McCandless) 6:06
5.  Gloria's Step (Scott LaFaro) 3:16
6.  Moon and Mind (Paul McCandless) 8:27
7.  Dust Devil (Paul McCandless) 3:07
8.  Elevator (Collin Walcott/Ralph Towner) 3:57
9.  Dunvegan (Ralph Towner) 4:22

Ralph Towner (Guitar, Piano, Hammond Organ, Percussion) - 1,5,6,8,9
Collin Walcott (Dulcimer, Tabla, Sitar, Piano, Conga) - 1,3,7,8
Glen Moore (Piano, Double Bass) - 2-5,9
Paul McCandless (Oboe, Bass Clarinet, Flute) - 3,4,6,7

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stan Getz - Cool Velvet - Voices

In another generous release from Verve Records, Stan Getz fans are treated to two of the legendary saxophonist's best albums on one digitally remastered CD: "Cool Velvet," an album with strings, and "Voices," an excitingly experimental project featuring backup singers. Getz's grace and beauty of tone have rarely been as evident as they are on the "Cool Velvet" tracks; ballads like "The Thrill is Gone," "It Never Entered My Mind," and "Born to Be Blue" will leave no doubt in any listener's mind as to the level of his artistry. "Early Autumn" and "Round Midnight" get stunning renditions, and "Whisper Not" picks up the pace ever so slightly, and the combination of Getz, vibraphone, and strings over the tune's catchy melody make for one of the most memorable moments in Stan's career.
"Voices" is another chance for Getz fans to indulge in his love of Bossa Nova; with the exception of a gorgeous, drowsily-swinging "I Didn't Know What Time it Was," every track gets a sensuous, Brazilian-influenced arrangement. What sets the project apart from others, however, is the inclusion of background singers; "ooh"s and "aah"s sing the parts that would more commonly be assigned to violins, and the idea works surprisingly well, providing a near-ethereal effect. The musical arrangements are simply perfect throughout, and the strongest work lies in the uptempo "Nica's Dream" and the silky ballad "Infinidad."
The end results simply cannot be beat: two albums, two distinct artistic approaches of a jazz legend, a top-notch remastering job, and extensive liner notes...all on one disc at a reasonable price. No fan of instrumental jazz could ask for more. - by John Jones,

Artist: Stan Getz
Album: Cool Velvet / Voices
Year: 1960/1966
Label: Verve (1995)
Runtime: 73:23

1.  The Thrill Is Gone (Lew Brown/Ray Henderson) 5:03
2.  It Never Entered My Mind (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 4:06
3.  Early Autumn (Ralph Burns/Woody Herman/Johnny Mercer) 4:45
4.  When I Go, I Go All The Way (Russell Garcia) 4:00
5.  A New Town Is A Blue Town (Richard Adler/Jerry Ross) 2:42
6.  'Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk/Cootie Williams/Bernie Hanighen) 3:07
7.  Born To Be Blue (Mel Torme/Robert Wells) 3:53
8.  Whisper Not (Benny Golson) 5:04
9.  Good-Bye (Gordon Jenkins) 4:26
10.  Nature Boy (Eden Ahbez) 3:02
11.  Once (Claus Ogerman/Guy Wood) 2:50
12.  I Didn't Know What Time It Was (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 3:28
13.  Nica's Dream (Horace Silver) 3:57
14.  (Little Rio) Un Poco Rio (Claus Ogerman) 2:30
15.  Keep Me In Your Heart (Chiedilo A Chi Vuoi) (Giorgio Calabrese/Giancarlo Clonello/Sandy Crystal) 4:01
16.  Zigeuner Song (Peter Kreuder/Günther Schwenn) 3:10
17.  Barbara's Theme (aka "I Want To Live") (Johnny Mandel) 2:56
18.  Where Flamingos Fly (John Benson Brooks/Harold Courlander/Elthea Pearl Brooks) 3:07
19.  Midnight Samba (Werner Bochmann/Martha Bergner/Sandy Crystal) 2:13
20.  Infinidad (Stanley J. Helber) 2:09
21.  Darling Joe (Claus Ogerman/Timothy Gray) 2:44

Stan Getz (Tenor Saxophone)
Blanchie Birdsong (Harp) - 1-10
Dave Hildinger (Vibraphone) - 1-10
Jan Johansson (Piano) - 1-10
Freddy Dutton (Double Bass) - 1-10
Sperie Karas (Drums) - 1-10
Russ Garcia (Arranger, Conductor) - 1-10
Herbie Hancock (Piano) or Hank Jones (Piano) - 11-21
Jim Hall (Guitar) - 11-21
Ron Carter (Double Bass) - 11-21
Artie Butler (Percussion) - 11-21
Bill Horwath (Percussion) - 11-21
Bobby Rosengarden (Percussion) - 11-21
Grady Tate (Drums) - 11-21
Claus Ogerman (Arranger, Conductor) - 11-21
Unknown Choir - 11-21
Unknown strings - 1-10

Kurt Elling - This Time It's Love

After taking the jazz vocal scene by storm, Kurt Elling got in a bit over his head, gaining as many critical kudos as catcalls. On his third disc, he finds a happy medium between romantic rumination and vocal experimentation. The highlight of the disc is "Freddie's Yen for Jen," a stellar jazz experience that comes pretty damn close to committing the pure emotion of love to tape. - by Tim Sheridan, AMG

Artist: Kurt Elling
Album: This Time It's Love
Year: 1998
Label: Blue Note
Runtime: 55:12

1.  My Foolish Heart (Victor Young/Ned Washington) 4:03
2.  Too Young to Go Steady (Jimmy McHugh/Harold Adamson) 5:03
3.  I Feel So Smoochie (Phil Moore) 3:18
4.  Freddie's Yen for Jen (Freddie Hubbard/Kurt Elling) 7:21
5.  My Love, Effendi (McCoy Tyner/Kurt Elling) 3:36
6.  Where I Belong (Laurence Hobgood/Kurt Elling) 4:20
7.  The Very Thought of You (Ray Noble) 5:45
8.  The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing (Irving Berlin) 2:57
9.  Rosa Morena (Dorival Caymni) 4:34
10.  She's Funny That Way (Neil Moret/Richard Whiting) 5:16
11.  A Time for Love (Johnny Mandel/Paul Francis Webster) 5:23
12.  Every Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter) 3:27

Kurt Elling (Vocals)
Laurence Hobgood (Piano) - 1-8,10-12
Rob Amster (Double Bass) - 1-9,11
Michael Raynor (Drums and Percussion) - 1-5,7-9
Dave Onderdonk (Guitar) - 3,6,9,11
Paul Wertico (Drums) - 6,11
Brad Wheeler (Sopranino Saxophone) - 6,11
Eddie Johnson (Tenor Saxophone) - 2
Johnny Frigo (Violin) - 3

Saturday, December 4, 2010

David Friedman - Other Worlds

Friedman's project, Other Worlds, is a trio with an instrumentation and sound all its own, featuring the exciting French accordianist Jean Louis Matinier and the brilliant American bass virtuoso Anthony Cox. Their CD Other Worlds, was recorded in November 1996 for Intuition Records and released in December 1997. It's a spellbinding musical journey, featuring original compositions and improvisational dialogues of incredible depth and beauty. Jazzthetik remarks: "You feel your ears being drawn to the speakers as if by magic! Other Worlds is a true musical adventure". - from

"This record is about total communication, and warmth, reflected in a group sound you can taste. During the sessions I had the constant feeling that the music was playing itself." - by David Friedman

Artist: David Friedman, Anthony Cox, Jean-Louis Matinier
Album: Other Worlds
Year: 1996
Label: Intuition (1997)
Runtime: 56:33

1.  New Los Them (David Friedman) 1:21
2.  Gold/Alchemy (Anthony Cox) 8:12
3.  Triptych (David Friedman) 5:56
4.  Vorstellung (Jean-Louis Matinier) 6:07
5.  Carolyn V. (Anthony Cox) 1:29
6.  Fleure de l'Eau (Francois Verly) 5:29
7.  Le Chat (Jean-Louis Matinier) 4:32
8.  O Grande Amor (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 4:36
9.  Czar (Anthony Cox) 8:03
10.  Tango (David Friedman/Anthony Cox/Jean-Louis Matinier) 5:36
11.  From The Distance (David Friedman) 5:08

David Friedman (Marimba, Vibraphone and Percussion)
Anthony Cox (Acoustic and Electric Bass)
Jean-Louis Matinier (Accordion)
Francois Verly (Percussion) - 2,3,6,7,11

Thursday, December 2, 2010

George Shearing - Deep Velvet - Old Gold and Ivory

Born Blind in 1919, George Shearing Has Become a Legend in Jazz Circles Picking Up a Whole Host of Honours Along the Way. A Young People's Centre in Battersea, South London, was Named the George Shearing Centre in his Honour. In May of 1993, He was Presented with an Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement. In June of 1996, Shearing was Included in the Queen's Birthday Honours List with an O.b.e. He was Presented the First American Music Award by the National Arts Club, New York City, in March of 1998. The Two Albums Included Here Are Typical Shearing Recordings. On "Deep Velvet" his Piano and Quintet Are Accompanied by a 12 Piece Choir of Woodwind Instruments. In Contrast "Old Gold and Ivory" is an Album of Classical Pieces Give the Shearing Touch. Again featuring his Piano and this Time a Lush Background of Strings and French Horns. - Product description, from

Deep Velvet:
In this album, the Shearing piano and Quintet are the first time set against a choir of twelve woodwinds, and the effect is both beautiful and strikingly new - a refreshing caress for the tasteful music that sets the stage for love. - from the liner notes

Old Gold and Ivory:
Here is Tchaikovsky by Shearing, Grieg by Shearing. Chopin by Shearing. Here are variations on a theme of Paganini by Shearing. And Shearing-interpreted music by Falls, Lecuona, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Cyril Scott and Gabriel Faure. George himself has done the arrangements, placing his piano is a familiar lush background of strings, French horns and woodwinds. The classic have been performed in a modern setting before, of course, But they've never till now been played with the light-fingered elegance of Shearing - the softly gleaming Shearing touch that suggest rich ol gold and ivory. - from the liner notes

Artist: George Shearing
Album: Deep Velvet/Old Gold and Ivory
Year: 1964
Label: EMI (Digital remaster, 2005)
Runtime: 66:50

1.  Here's That Rainy Day (James Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) 2:27
2.  I Used To Be Color Blind (Irving Berlin) 3:10
3.  Sentimental Journey (Bud Green/Bejamin Homer/Les Brown) 2:48
4.  Passing By (Charles Trenet/Jack Lawrence/Laurent Hess) 2:24
5.  Would You Like To Take A Walk (Billy Rose/Harry Warren/Mort Dixon) 3:01
6.  Signing Off (Leonard Feather/Jessy Russell) 2:25
7.  One Love (Milton Raskin/Julian Lee) 2:30
8.  Nightfall (Manny Kurtz/Benny Carter) 2:41
9.  Willow Weep For Me (Ann Ronell) 2:34
10.  Slowly (Kermit Goell/David Raksin) 2:55
11.  Spring Is Here (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 2:36
12.  My Heart Stood Still (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 3:00
13.  Ritual Fire Dance (Mauel De Falla) 2:54
14.  Chopin Prelude No 20 (Frederic Chopin) 2:25
15.  Theme From Sheherazade (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff) 2:19
16.  None But The Lonely Heart (P.I. Tchaikovsky)  3:48
17.  Variations On A Theme Of Paganini (Arr. George Shearing) 2:33
18.  Malaguena (Ernesto Lecuona) 2:02
19.  Country Garden (Traditonal) 3:07
20.  Lotus Land (Cyril Scott) 3:42
21.  Solveig's Song (Edward Grieg) 3:34
22.  Fantaisie Impromptu (George Spink/Otis Spann) 2:20
23.  Pavane (Gabriel Faure) 5:21

George Shearing (Piano, Arranger)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kip Hanrahan - Coup de Tete

"A record which will begin an epoch ... Remember the name: Kip Hanrahan, filled with talent, ambition, ideas..." - Le Monde, Paris

Fittingly enough, the first sound heard on Kip Hanrahan's premier release is that of the conga and the first word sung is "sex," two leitmotifs that would appear consistently in his ensuing work. Coup de Tete burst on the scene in the early '80s as an entirely fresh, invigorating amalgam of Cuban percussion (much of it Santeria-based), free jazz, funk, and intimate, confrontational lyrics. Hanrahan had worked at New Music Distribution Service, a project run by Carla Bley and Michael Mantler (both of whom appear on this album), and had established contacts with numerous musicians from varied fields who he threw together in a glorious New York City melting pot. With the percussion and electric bass laying down thick and delicious grooves, the cream of the younger avant saxophonists in New York at the time wail over the top, accompanying some of the most brutally uncomfortable lyrics ever put to wax. The relationships Hanrahan details are turbulent to say the least, often intertwined with economic concerns as well as a general sense of the impossibility of understanding one's mate. After asking him for abuse and being refused, his lover (sung wonderfully by Lisa Herman) taunts, "When you could only sulk/I had more contempt for you than I ever thought I could have." Interspersed among the bitter love harangues and ecstatic percussion-driven numbers are two stunningly lovely pieces, Marguerite Duras' "India Song" and Teo Macero's "Heart on My Sleeve," both aching with romanticism. Coup de Tete is a superb record, an impressive debut, and, arguably, one of the finest moments in Hanrahan's career along with the following release, Desire Develops an Edge. Highly recommended. - by Brian Olewnick, AMG

Artist: Kip Hanrahan
Album: Coup de Tete
Year: 1979-81
Label: American Clavé (1981)
Total time: 44:43

1.  Whatever I Want (Kip Hanrahan) 5:44
2.  At The Moment Of The Serve (Kip Hanrahan) 5:24
3.  This Night Comes Out Of Both Of Us (Kip Hanrahan) 5:42
4.  India Song (Marguerite Duras/Carlos d'Alessio) 4:16
5.  A Lover Divides Time (To Hear How It Sounds) (Kip Hanrahan) 3:16
6.  No One Gets To Transcend Anything (No One Except Oil Company Executives) (Kip Hanrahan) 3:43
7.  Shadow To Shadow (Kip Hanrahan) 7:07
8.  Sketch From Two Cubas (Kip Hanrahan) 4:08
9.  Heart On My Sleeve (Teo Macero) 5:19

Kip Hanrahan (Voice and Percussion, Quinto) - 1-3,5-9
Jerry Gonzalez (Congas and Percussion) - 1-3,5-8
Arto Lindsay (Electric Guitar) - 1-3,5-8
Anton Fier (Trap Drums) - 1-3,5-8
Daniel Ponce (Congas and Iya) - 1-3,5,7
Chico Freeman (Tenor Saxophone and Clarinet) - 1,2,4,9
Carlos Ward (Alto Saxophone) - 2,4,7,9
Bill Laswell (Bass Guitar) - 1,3,4,7
Lisa Herman (Voice) - 3,5,7
George Cartwright (Alto Saxophone, Flute and Piccolo) - 1,3,4
Ignacio Berroa (Trap Drums) - 2,5,6
Jamaaladen Tacuma (Electric Bass) - 2,5,6
Nicky Marrero (Bongos and Okonkolo) - 1,3
Byard Lancaster (Tenor Saxophone, Flute) - 1,3
George Naha (Electric Guitar) - 2,3
Orlando Digirolamo (Accordion) - 4,9
Gene Golden (Chekere and Congas) - 6,8 
Carla Bley (Piano and Voice) - 4
Billy Bang (Violin) - 4
John Clark (French Horn) - 4
Angel Perez (Congas) - 6
John Stubblefield (Tenor Saxophone) - 6
Bern Nix (Electric Guitar) - 6
Dom Um Romao (Surdo Grande and Agogo) - 7
Fred Firth (Electric Guitar) - 7
Carlos Mestre (Congas) - 8
Michael Mantler (Trumpet) - 8
Cecil McBee (Double Bass) - 9
Teo Macero (Tenor Saxophone) - 9
David Liebman (Soprano Saxophone) - 9
Victor Lewis (Drums) - 9

Monday, November 29, 2010

Legendary Pink Dots - 9 Lives to Wonder

Broken funk, twisted humor, and some of the finest lyrics on the planet come together all too rarely, but they do it here with a rare panache. Ka-Spel and co. are firing on all cylinders with this release, ranging from the blatantly silly ("Crumbs on the Carpet") to the sweet ("The Angel Trail") to the relentlessly ominous ("Nine Shades to a Circle"). In the wonderful world of appliances that is the Dotsography, this ranks close to the top. Recommended for all who have never heard the world's finest pop band, and absolutely essential for even the most casual fan. - by Robert P. Beveridge,

Artist: The Legendary Pink Dots
Album: 9 Lives To Wonder
Year: 1994
Label: Play It Again Sam
Runtime: 58:28

1.  Madame Guillotine 5:32 
2.  On Another Shore 6:22 
3.  Softly Softly 2:05 
4.  Crumbs On The Carpet 4:55 
5.  Hotel Z 7:46 
6.  Oasis Malade 2:57 
7.  A Crack In Melancholy Time 5:36 
8.  Siren 5:30 
9.  The Angel Trail 2:00 
10.  Nine Shades To A Circle 10:22 
11.  Terra Firma Welcome 5:16 
All compositions by LPD

Edward Ka-Spel (Vocals, Keyboards)
Phil Knight (Keyboards)
Ryan Moore (Bass Guitar, Double Bass, Drums)
Martijn de Kleer (Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Tympani)
Niels van Hoornblower (Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet)
Cevin Key (Drums)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Herbie Mann - Returns to the Village Gate

By 1961, flutist Herbie Mann was really starting to catch on with the general public. This release, a follow-up to his hit At the Village Gate (two songs are from the same gig while three others actually date from seven months earlier), features Mann in an ideal group with either Hagood Hardy or Dave Pike on vibes, Ahmed Abdul-Malik or Nabil Totah on bass, drummer Rudy Collins and two percussionists. Mann really cooks on four of his own originals, plus "Bags' Groove," blending in the influence of African, Afro-Cuban and even Brazilian jazz. Worth searching for. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

The first side is much the same group as the wonderful 1961 "At the Village Gate" session: Herbie Mann (flute), Hagood Hardy (vibraharp), Ahmet Abdul-Malik (bass), Rudy Collins (drums), Chief Bey and Ray Mantilla (African percussion). On side two it's a slightly different group: Herbie Mann (flute), Dave Pike (vibraharp and marimba), Nabil Totah (bass), Rudy Collins (drums), Ray Barreto and Ray Mantilla (percussion). I'm not sure of the original session dates, but the original LP cover I have is copyright 1963. The earlier sessions were important steps in world music/jazz fusion, and Herbie hit the nail on the head with his mixture of African percussion stylings, jazz instrumentation, and jazz standard tunes (Comin' Home Baby, Summertime, It Ain't Necessarily So). On "Herbie Mann Returns to the Village Gate", he carries on with Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove" and four titles written by Herbie. For those who've longed for more "At the Village Gate", this is it. Side one especially sounds like an extension of the earlier recordings. Side two is a bit different, with even more of an African percussion feel, but also a middle eastern flavor in places, credited by Herbie to Nabil Totah's bowed bass playing. Great rhythmic and lyrical playing throughout, and a complete joy. It's impossible to pick highlights for me as I like the entire album. The follow-up 1966 "Monday Night at the Village Gate" swings too, and has a cover by the same artist, but it's a different sound with a lot of brass. This is the only recording I've found that really belongs with "At the Village Gate", a recording I've been in love with for forty years now. It's not hard bop, or swing, or straight African, or jazz-rock; strongly jazz though, it has also elements of modern world music, ambient, and fusion. Herbie was way ahead of his time in some respects, and this is really just a wonderful groove that I don't think anyone else ever did better.If you liked "At the Village Gate", you'll also thoroughly enjoy this one--a forgotten gem overshadowed by the earlier 1961 recording. I give it five stars because it's just a natural groove, and it's hard to imagine anyone not liking this. If you haven't heard "At the Village Gate", get both, unplug the phone and the computer, sit back and enjoy. They don't make music like this anymore. - by Paul Franklin,

Artist: Herbie Mann
Album: Return to the Village Gate
Year: 1961
Label: Wounded Bird (2001)
Runtime: 36:28

1.  Bag's Groove (Milt Jackson) 8:34
2.  New York Is a Jungle Festival (Herbie Mann) 9:53
3.  Candle Dance (Herbie Mann) 5:30
4.  Bedouin (Herbie Mann) 7:48
5.  Ekunda (Herbie Mann) 4:43

Herbie Mann (Flutes)
Rudy Collins (Drums)
Chief Bey (Percussion)
Ray Mantilla (Percussion)
Hagood Hardy (Vibraharp) - 1,2
Ahmed Abdul-Malik (Double Bass) - 1,2
Dave Pike (Vibraharp or Marimba) - 3-5
Nabil Totah (Double Bass) - 3-5

Gerry Mulligan - The Jazz Soundtracks

The Subterraneans:
Here is an album that showcases the many talents of Andre Previn, composer-conductor-arranger-andpianist. His versatility further extends into the performance fields where he is just as much at home with jazz, the blues, popular music and with the classics. One week, Andre may be heard playing jazz in a swank night club; the following week, he will be performing with one of the great symphony orchestras; and a little later on, you will find him conducting for a top Hollywood motionpicture score. He is familiar to television viewers because of his guest appearances with Dinah Shore, Dean Martin, Steve Allen, Ernie Ford, Ernie Kovacs, Rosemary Clooney and others. Andre has won Motion Picture Academy Awards for "GIGI" and for "PORGY AND BESS." He also won a Grammy Award for his work with David Rose on the M-G-M record, "LIKE YOUNG," a song which Mr. Previn composed.Another award-winner spotlighted in the album is Gerry Mulligan who has won the International Jazz Critics Award as the best baritone saxophone player for 1957, 1958 and 1959. Gerry also plays a feature acting role in "The Subterraneans." This long-playing record is a collection of Previn's original compositions (except for "COFFEE TIME" and for "SHOULD I") from the sound track of Arthur Freed's Production "THE SUBTERRANEANS" played by small, medium and large orchestras with solos by some of the foremost jazz artists in the country. - from

I Want to Live:
Baritonist Gerry Mulligan and a group of West Coast all-stars were heard throughout the soundtrack of the Susan Hayward movie I Want to Live. Although not a soundtrack, this LP features six themes from the movie (all composed by Johnny Mandel) performed by the same musicians, who this time around get an opportunity to really stretch out. Since the band is comprised of Mulligan, trumpeter Art Farmer, altoist Bud Shank, trombonist Frank Rossolino, pianist Pete Jolly, bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Shelly Manne, virtually all of the music is quite interesting with plenty of fine solos and hard-swinging. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Gerry Mulligan
Album: The Jazz Soundtracks (The Subterraneans/I Want to Live)
Year: 1958-59
Label: Gambit (2007)
Total time: 67:04

1.  Why Are We Afraid? (Andre Previn) 1:57
2.  Guido's Blackhawk (Andre Previn) 3:05
3.  Two by Two (Andre Previn) 3:57
4.  Bread and Wine (Andre Previn) 4:10
5.  Cofee Time (Andre Previn) 2:42
6.  A Rose and the End (Andre Previn) 3:24
7.  Should I? (Andre Previn) 2:27
8.  Look Ma, No Clothes (Andre Previn) 1:33
9.  Things Are Looking Down (Andre Previn) 5:36
10.  Analyst (Andre Previn) 4:16
11.  Like Blue (Andre Previn) 1:57
12.  Raising Caen (Andre Previn) 3:04
13.  Black Nightgown (Johnny Mandel) 3:32
14.  Theme from "I Want to Live!" (Johnny Mandel) 6:52
15.  Night Watch (Johnny Mandel) 3:53
16.  Frisco Club (Johnny Mandel) 4:41
17.  Barbara's Theme (Johnny Mandel) 4:37
18.  Life's a Funny Thing (Johnny Mandel) 5:12

Gerry Mulligan (Baritone Saxophone)
Art Pepper (Alto Saxophone) - 1,3,4,6,8-10,12
Red Mitchell (Double Bass) - 1,3,6,8,10,12-18
Shelly Manne (Drums) - 1-3,5-8,10-18
Andre Previn (Piano, Arranger) - 1-11
Jack Sheldon (Trumpet) - 1,3,6,8,10,12
Bob Enevoldsen (Trombone) - 1,3,4,6,8-10
Bill Perkins (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,3,6,8,10
Art Farmer (Trumpet) - 4,9,13-18
Carmen McRae (Vocals) - 2,5,7,11
Bud Shank (Alto Saxophone) - 13-18
Frank Rosolino (Trombone) - 13-18
Pete Jolly (Piano) - 13-18
Johnny Mandel (Arranger) - 13-18
Buddy Clark (Double Bass) - 4,9
Dave Bailey (Drums) - 4,9
Russ Freeman (Piano) - 4,9,12

Friday, November 26, 2010

Larry Goldings - Caminhos Cruzados

Listening to this CD, it is surprising to note that few bossa nova records up to now have featured organs. Larry Goldings's subtle style (a laid-back Jimmy Smith) perfectly fits the idiom and some of the selections performed on his set are given straight-ahead sections for variety. The music is mostly easy listening with an appealing ensemble sound, consistently excellent concise solos from Goldings and guitarist Peter Bernstein, and tasteful backup from drummer Bill Stewart and percussionist Guilherme Franco. The three guest appearances by Joshua Redman make one wish that he were on more tracks for his tenor fits very comfortably into this setting. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

With the Walther Wanderley bossa nova organ records from the 60's in mind (uff), this excellent CD from Larry Goldings take the "latin B3" to the next level with no comparison to Wanderley. Goldings plays the organ in a laid-back Jimmy Smith style and that suits this excellent trio with Bernstein (guitar), Stewart (drums) and guest Joshua Redman (tenor on a few tracks). Musically this CD is not challenging for the listener, it's just very well played memorable bossa tunes from Jobim and Gilberto among others, in a laid-back mood. The only drawback for Goldings fans is that this CD is currently out-of-print.- by Terje Biringvad,

Artist: Larry Goldings
Album: Caminhos Crusados
Year: 1994
Label: BMG
Total time: 60:42

1.  So Danco Samba (Jazz Samba) (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes) 5:44
2.  Caminhos Cruzados (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 7:22
3.  Ho-Ba-La-La-La (Joao Gilberto) 3:59
4.  O Amor Em Paz (Once I Loved) (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes) 4:40
5.  Where or When (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 6:23
6.  Manine (Larry Goldings) 5:56
7.  Avarandado (Caetano Veloso) 4:04
8.  Serenata (Leroy Anderson/Mitchell Parish) 5:02
9.  Menina Moca (Luiz Antonio) 5:20
10.  Words (Larry Goldings) 5:50
11.  Una Mas (Kenny Dorham) 6:22

Larry Goldings (Hammond Organ)
Peter Bernstein (Guitar)
Bill Stewart (Drums)
Guilherme Franco (Percussion)
Joshua Redman (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,5,10

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grant Green - Am I Blue

"Am I Blue" features the classic Green/Patton/Dixon ensemble plus Johnny Cole and Joe Henderson on horns in a delightful yet unusually laid back vain. The gospel influence in John's playing is particularly evident on this recording, as is his minimalist philosophy. (If you don't have to play it, don't) Ironically, in his latter years, due to a strange accident with a car jack which would injure a tendon in his hand he would not have use of his pinky and fourth finger, yet could still create some of the richest and most amazing connections on the organ as well as develop very rich and lucid solo ideas ! The showstopper on the CD is the light and bouncy For All We Know... Of course, Johnny Coles and a then newcomer and relatively unknown Joe Henderson definitely get their word in, but it is amazing to hear John's passing chords behind them. Grant Green typically lays out, listening, listening, listening, listening (which is what a soloist needs to be doing when his other bandmates are playing... not playing over them, or holding coversations, but listening and taking in the dialogue). Finally, Grant comes in and is as crisp, melodious and swinging and used expect him to be... throwing in a few surprise left hooks as well! - - Last word goes to John... who in turn not only takes a well crafted single note solo, but digs down with a real nifty shout chorus as well (though admittedly I will ever have to admit that Johnny Hammond Smith and Wild Bill will ever have him beat on that.) With Ben Dixon in his corner, however, he does take it home quite masterfully ! of note: That's the one thing that distinguishes a Grant Green session from one of those sessions where people are trying to copy such a session - - you can really tell the players are listening to each other, providing a lot of space and responding to one another's ideas! True Jazz masters are at their best not when they're showing off what they know... but when they're really listening and responding to what's going on around them. Then magic occurs, as was the historical case of John Coltrane's layer of sound discovery. - by Eddie Landsberg,

Artist: Grant Green
Album: Am I Blue
Year: 1963
Label: Blue Note (RVG Remastered, 2002)
Runtime: 42:08

1.  Am I Blue (Harry Akst/Grant Clarke) 6:57
2.  Take These Chains From My Heart (Hy Heath/Fred Rose) 6:13
3.  I Wanna Be Loved (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Billy Rose) 7:39
4.  Sweet Slumber (Lucky Millinder/Al J. Neiburg/Henri Woode) 7:17
5.  For All We Know (J. Fred Coots/Sam M. Lewis) 14:00

Grant Green (Guitar)
Joe Henderson (Tenor Saxophone)
Johnny Coles (Trumpet)
John Patton (Organ)
Ben Dixon (Drums) 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bosambo Trio - Tongue-tied

Given the formation (two acoustic guitars, percussion) the trio's sound calls to mind modern Latin music in the listener. The harmonic world of the themes and the musical forms are perhaps closest to the jazz music of the '90s. The continuously changing mode of playing from accompaniment to solos and back lends variety to the sound of the ensemble, the most distinctive feature of which is its clarity, which makes it easy to follow. - from

Artist: Bosambo Trio
Album: Tongue-tied
Year: 1999
Label: BMC
Runtime: 53:39

1.  D Song (Istvan Toth) 9:18
2.  Ivy (Janos Kormos) 6:17
3.  Zeuo (Istvan Toth) 6:46
4.  Silent Tango (Peter Erdelyi) 6:54
5.  Sifrad (Istvan Toth) 8:52
6.  Good Morning Anna (Janos Kormos) 4:54
7.  Tongue-Tied (Istvan Toth) 6:09
8.  On The Road (Istvan Toth) 4:25

István Tóth (Acoustic Guitar)
János Kormos (Acoustic Guitar)
András Dés (Percussion)
Gábor Winand (Vocals, Tenor Saxophone) - 1,7
László Gõz (Trombone) - 1,4
Kornél Fekete Kovács (Flugelhorn) - 4
Andrea Molnár (Vocals) - 1
Péter Szendõfi (Brushes on a carboard box) - 4
György Müller (Percussion effectd) - 3

Monday, November 22, 2010

Marián Varga - Solo in Concert

He has played piano since the age of six. He studied piano and composition at the conservatory in Bratislava. He left the conservatory after three years to become a member of the group Prúdy, and contributed to the legendary album Zvoňte zvonky. He left Prúdy as suddenly as he had left conservatory only to establish the first Czechoslovak art rock band Collegium Musicum. The repertoire of Collegium Musicum, comprising mostly instrumental pieces, included reinterpretations of the themes of classics such as Joseph Haydn, Béla Bartók and Igor Stravinsky, complemented by original compositions. Already at this stage his work bore signs of postmodernism (Eufónia of the album Konvergencie), which later became the basic principle of his work. When Collegium Musicum disbanded in 1979, Varga started a solo career. Among other achievements, he became a pioneer of absolute improvisation (real-time composition) in Slovakia. In the meantime he continued to contribute to popular music. His ongoing collaboration with Pavol Hammel led to five successful albums and to the first rock musical in Slovakia. - from 

Artist: Marián Varga
Album: Solo Concert
Year: 2003
Label: Ars Nova
Runtime: 58:16

1.  Vezova hudba II 6:51
2.  Canzona 6:46
3.  Nechtiac 1:33
4.  Melodia z Preludia a fugy As dur A. Sostakovica 3:16
5.  Zlta lalia 4:36
6.  Bukolika 3:23
7.  Ticho sveta pred Bachom 3:25
8.  Scherzino zo Suity semplice 1:20
9.  Naozaj budem musiet ist 2:01
10.  Posledna jesen 3:50
11.  Dve Brahmsove variacie na Handelovu temu 2:38
12.  Spomienka na Vivaldiho 1:35
13.  Nesmierny smutok hotelovej izby 3:46
14.  Mobile 1:04
15.  Viragom (improvizacia na uhorsku ludovu temu) 3:14
16.  Zagajduj, gajdose (slovenska ludova) 1:37
17.  Sonatina pre klavir, 2.cast 3:20
18.  Sequenza 0:50
19.  Tema z Beethovenovych variacii na rusku temu A dur 0:57
20.  Talianska baletna hudba z opery J.Cikkera Juro Janosik 2:05

Marián Varga - keyboards

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Erik Truffaz - The Dawn

The French have had a love affair with Miles Davis going back to his score for the 1957 film Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud. But Swiss native and popular trumpeter-composer Eric Truffaz takes admiration to new levels on his U.S. debut, a compilation of tracks from his Blue Note France albums Out of a Dream, The Dawn, and Bending New Corners. Using familiar components of Miles's hotly debated 1970s sound (Agharta, Big Fun, On the Corner)--including muted trumpet, graceful figures, cerebral melodies, and atmospheric electric piano--Truffaz appears as a talented clone. But his music is redeemed by its very assimilation of Miles's style and elegance. Truffaz and his expressive quintet write evocative compositions rife with darkly gorgeous melodies, performed in a variety of contemporary styles. Quasi drum and bass fills "Bending New Corners" and "Betty"; whisper-funk imbues "The Dawn"; a springy groove straight from Sorcerer supports the elastic "Arroyo"; free-form noodling fills "Less"; and drum and bass noodling fills "More." Truffaz plays sumptuously on the eerie ballads "Wet in Paris" and "And." Many American acts sound flat and stiff when attempting this Milesian hipster style, but Truffaz and Co. pull it off with deft twirls. - by Ken Micallef, The French have had a love affair with Miles Davis going back to his score for the 1957 film Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud. But French native and popular trumpeter-composer Eric Truffaz takes admiration to new levels on his U.S. debut, a compilation of tracks from his Blue Note France albums Out of a Dream, The Dawn, and Bending New Corners. Using familiar components of Miles's hotly debated 1970s sound (Agharta, Big Fun, On the Corner)--including muted trumpet, graceful figures, cerebral melodies, and atmospheric electric piano--Truffaz appears as a talented clone. But his music is redeemed by its very assimilation of Miles's style and elegance. Truffaz and his expressive quintet write evocative compositions rife with darkly gorgeous melodies, performed in a variety of contemporary styles. Quasi drum and bass fills "Bending New Corners" and "Betty"; whisper-funk imbues "The Dawn"; a springy groove straight from Sorcerer supports the elastic "Arroyo"; free-form noodling fills "Less"; and drum and bass noodling fills "More." Truffaz plays sumptuously on the eerie ballads "Wet in Paris" and "And." Many American acts sound flat and stiff when attempting this Milesian hipster style, but Truffaz and Co. pull it off with deft twirls. - by Ken Micallef,

Artist: Erik Truffaz
Album: The Dawn
Year: 1998
Label: Blue Note
Runtime: 31:22

1.  Bukowsky-Chapter 1 (Erik Truffaz/Nya) 1:49
2.  Yuri's Choice (Marcello Giuliani/Nya) 4:48
3.  The Dawn (Erik Truffaz/Marcello Giuliani/Marc Erbetta/Patrick Muller) 5:45
4.  Wet in Paris (Erik Truffaz/Nya) 4:44
5.  Slim Pickings (Nya) 1:04
6.  Round-Trip (Erik Truffaz/Marcello Giuliani/Marc Erbetta/Patrick Muller) 4:34
7.  The Mask (Erik Truffaz/Marcello Giuliani/Marc Erbetta/Patrick Muller/Nya) 5:03
8.  Free Stylin' (Erik Truffaz/Marcello Giuliani/Marc Erbetta/Patrick Muller/Nya) 3:33

Erik Truffaz (Trumpet)
Patrick Muller (Piano and Fender Rhodes)
Marcello Giuliani (Double Bass and Electro-Acoustic Bass)
Marc Erbetta (Drums)
Nya (Vocals)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nicola Conte - Jet Sounds

I was at the end of my rope playing my old Piero Piccioni Easy Tempo CDs to bits (ha) when the great internet radio station Luxuria.Com started playing this KICK BUTT song called 'Futura 2000' by this Italian dude named Nicola Conte. I didn't ask questions: I called the local record store in Durham, drove down that same day and shelled out the sixteen bucks and my life hasn't been the same since! Talk about 'Spring is Here' Music! What is it like? Hmmmm. It's lounge, but it's not that tiresome camp variety. This guy ROCKS, and his outfit is solid; it's not just a bunch of turntables and sequencers. He clearly has a deep love for the spirit of La Dolce Vita, and respects it, and moreover, has absorbed it. Everything here is uptempo and breezy, samba-based, with some nods to later sixties psychedelia and pre-Shaft horn clusters. "Il Cerchio Rosso" is my favorite song of the year thus far. Little snippets of everything from Claudine Longet to Brasil '66 to Piero Piccioni to Nino Rota to Morricone to Francis Lai to Traviolji seep in here and there, but somehow it's all fresh and new. Someone suggested it was 'tres Esquivel', but I beg to differ. It's much hipper, and a great dance album. I can't wait for more Nicola! Buy this super disc now! You'll be dancing. - by L.S. Slaughter,

Nicola Conte is an Italian DJ, producer and guitar player known for introducing an innovative style of acid jazz that incorporates bossa nova themes, melodies drawn from Italian film scores of the 1960s, easy listening themes, and ethnic Indian music Conte, a classically-trained musician, is mastermind of a collective of acid jazz revivalists, "The Fez Collective," based in the Italian town of Bari, and the Idizioni-Ishatr / Schema label, their record label for promoting their distinctly Italian approach to acid jazz Conte's first album was Jet Sounds of 2000. The single "Bossa Per Due" gained nternational recognition and was an underground hit. It was used almost immediately for a prime-time commercial for Acura automobiles. The album was licensed for American distribution by Thievery Corporation's Eighteenth Street Lounge (ESL) label in the summer of 2001 as Bossa Per Due, and was a slightly reconfigured version of the Italian Jet Sounds album.

Artist: Nicola Conte
Album: Jet Sounds
Year: 2000
Label: Schema
Runtime: 62:18

1.  Arabesque (Nicola Conte) 3:34
2.  Bossa per due (Gianni Lenoci/Nicola Conte) 5:52
3.  Dossier Omega (Pippo D'Ambrosio/Nicola Conte) 6:32
4.  Il cerchio rosso (Nicola Conte) 4:21
5.  Fuoco fatuo (Nicola Conte) 3:37
6.  Forma 2000 (Lo Greco, V/Nicola Conte) 6:00
7.  Missione a Bombay (Nicola Conte) 4:43
8.  Jazz pour Dadine (Nicola Conte) 3:51
9.  The in Samba (Gianni Lenoci/Nicola Conte) 5:54
10.  La coda del diavolo (Mirko Signorile/Nicola Conte/Pasquale Bardaro) 4:22
11.  Mambo de los dandies (Marco Magno/Nicola Conte) 4:37
12.  Jet Sounds (Nicola Conte) 5:19
13.  Trappola mortale (Nicola Conte) 3:36

Nicola Conte (Arranger)
Paola Arnesano (Vocals) - 2,9
Gabriella Schiavone (Vocals) - 3
Stefania Di Pierro (Vocals) - 10
Manuela Ravaglioli (Vocals) - 6
Gianni Lenoci (Piano and Organ) - 2,9,13
Mirko Signorile (Piano and Organ) - 4,10
Marco Magno (Organ) - 11
Gaetano Partipilo (Alto Saxophone and Flute) - 6,8,9
Bruno Marini (Baritone Saxophone and Flute) - 5,12
Francesco Lomangino (Tenor Saxophone) - 11
Pasquale Bardaro (Vibraphone) - 1,5,10
Nicola Nesta (Sitar) - 3,7
Guido Di Leone (Guitar) - 3,9,12
Mauro Gargano (Double Bass) - 4,8
Stefano Valenzano (Bass Guitar) - 9,12
Pierluigi Balducci (Bass Guitar) - 7
Pippo D'Ambrozio (Tabla, Tampura) - 3,7
Fabio Accardi (Drums) - 7

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Abdullah Ibrahim - African Marketplace

This is one of Abdullah Ibrahim's most colorful band recordings. With a 12-piece group that includes altoist Carlos Ward, trombonist Craig Harris and bassist Cecil McBee along with some lesser-known names, Ibrahim performs eight folklike originals that pay tribute to his life growing up in South Africa. "The Homecoming Song," "Anthem for the New Nation" and especially "The Wedding" (a beautiful hymn) are particularly memorable. - by Scott Yanow

There are not too many albums in any genre that paint a consistent picture from the first note to the last. There are even fewer that do this in a hybrid style that is really something new and different. I bless Duke Ellington for bringing Abdullah Ibrahim to our attention, and I thank Mr. Ibrahim for giving us this joyous and colorful recording. The title describes the flavor aptly: the songs are alternately festive and languid, with slightly altered themes recurring throughout. When you play it, don't skip any cuts! - by Steve Leach,
Artist: Dollar Brand (aka Abdullah Ibrahim)

Album: African Marketplace
Year: 1979
Label: Discovery (1980)
Runtime: 35:55

1.  Whoza Mtwana 6:03
2.  The Homecoming Song 3:45
3.  The Wedding 3:49
4.  Moniebah 3:20
5.  African Marketplace 7:04
6.  Mamma 3:46
7.  Anthem for the New Nation 4:30
8.  Ubu-Suku 3:33
All songs written by Abdullah Ibrahim

Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim (Keyboards, Soprano Saxophone and Conga)
Carlos Ward (Alto and Soprano Saxophone)
Jeff Jawarrah King (Tenor Saxophone)
Dwayne Armstrong (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Rogers (Baritone Saxophone)
Malindi Blyth Mbityana (Trombone)
Craig Harris (Trombone)
Gary Chandler (Trumpet)
Cecil McBee (Double Bass)
Andre Strobert (Drums and Percussion)
Miguel Pomier (Percussion) - 2,5
Lawrence Lucie (Banjo) - 5

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grant Green - Born To Be Blue

Although Grant Green provided his share of groove-oriented soul-jazz and modal post-bop, his roots were hard bop, and it is in a bop-oriented setting that the guitarist excels on Born to Be Blue. Most of the material on this five-star album was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's New Jersey studio on December 11, 1961, when Green was joined by tenor titan Ike Quebec, pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Louis Hayes. Tragically, Quebec was near the end of his life -- the distinctive saxman died of lung cancer at the age of 44 on January 16, 1963 -- but there is no evidence of Quebec's declining health on Born to Be Blue. He was playing as authoritatively as ever well into 1962, and the saxman is in fine form on hard-swinging interpretations of "Someday My Prince Will Come" and Al Jolson's "Back in Your Own Back Yard." It's interesting to hear Quebec playing bop, for his big, breathy tone was right out of swing and was greatly influenced by Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. Although Quebec and Green (who was 14 years younger) had very different musical backgrounds, they were always quite compatible musically. They clearly enjoyed a strong rapport on the uptempo selections as well as ballads like "My One and Only Love" and Mel Torme's "Born to Be Blue." Originally a vinyl LP, this album was reissued on CD in 1989, when Blue Note added an alternate take of the title song and a previously unreleased version of Charlie Parker's "Cool Blues." - by Alex Henderson, AMG

Artist: Grant Green
Album: Born to Be Blue
Year: 1962
Label: Blue Note (1989)
Total time: 59:05

1.  Someday My Prince Will Come (Frank Churchill/Larry Morey) 6:30
2.  Born To Be Blue (Mel Tormé/Robert Wells) 4:54
3.  Born To Be Blue (Alternate Take) (Mel Tormé/Robert Wells) 4:41
4.  If I Should Lose You (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin) 6:05
5.  Back In Your Own Back Yard (Dave Dreyer/Al Jolson/Billy Rose) 8:04
6.  My One And Only Love (Robert Mellin/Guy Wood) 5:50
7.  Count Every Star (Bruno Coquatrix/Sammy Gallop) 6:21
8.  Cool Blues (Charlie Parker) 7:57
9.  Outer Space (Grant Green) 8:43

Grant Green (Guitar)
Ike Quebec (Tenor Saxophone)
Sonny Clark (Piano)
Sam Jones (Double Bass)
Louis Hayes (Drums)


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