Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gabor Szabo - Wind, Sky and Diamonds

Wind, Sky and Diamonds celebrates much of what was important to the guitarist -- the new world of rock music, the lure of California and the hope and inspiration of the "Summer of Love." But, at best, it's an ill-conceived jazz-rock concoction. Talent like Howard Roberts, Dennis Budimer, Herb Ellis, Mike Melvoin, Victor Feldman and Emil Richards is negligible here and subjugated to terrible vocalists, corny arrangements and occasional hints of Szabo's unique playing. Contains a stirring, heartfelt version of "Guantanamera" but little more. - by Douglas Payne, AMG

Artist: Gabor Szabo and The California Dreamers
Album: Wind, Sky and Diamonds
Year: 1967
Label: Impulse! (20-bit, K2 Super Coding, 2000)
Total time: 34:41

1.  San Franciscan Nights (Vic Briggs/Eric Burdon/Barry Jenkins/Danny McCulloch/John Weider) 3:23
2.  Day in the Life (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) 3:22
3.  Twelve-Thirty (John Philips) 3:03
4.  To Sir With Love (Donald Black/Mark London) 2:30
5.  White Rabbit (Grace Slick) 2:33
6.  Guantanamera (Jose Marti/Hector Angulo/Pete Seeger) 3:11
7.  Saigon Bride (Joan Baez/Nina Dusheck) 3:11
8.  The End of Life (Gabor Szabo/Tom Bahler/John Bahler/C. Copeland) 2:58
9.  Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) 3:15
10.  Are You There? (Gabor Szabo/S. Allen) 3:34
11.  W.C. Fields (Tom Bahler/John Bahler/C. Copeland) 3:41

Gabor Szabo (Guitar)
Bill Plummer (Sitar)
Mike Melvoin (Piano and Harpsichord)
Dennis Budimir (Guitar) - 1-3,5-8,11
Louis Morell (Guitar) - 1,2,4,8-11
Carol Kaye (Fender Bass) - 1-3,5-8,11
Emil Richards (Percussion) - 1-3,5-8,11
John Guerin (Drums) - 1,2,8,11
Herb Ellis (Guitar) - 3,5-7
Jimmy Gordon (Drums) - 3,5-7
Howard Roberts (Guitar) - 4,9,10
Ray Pohlman (Fender Bass) - 4,9,10
Victor Feldman (Percussion) - 4,9,10

and The California Dreamers:
Ron Hicklin (Vocals)
Al Capps (Vocals)
Loren Farber (Vocals)
John Bahler (Vocals)
Tom Bahler (Vocals)
Ian Freebairn-Smith (Vocals)
Sally Stevens (Vocals)
Sue Allen (Vocals)
Jackie Ward (Vocals)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ella Fitzgerald - Whisper Not

Whoever decided to put pianist Marty Paich and Ella Fitzgerald together in the studio in 1966 deserves a bit of credit for the great music on Whisper Not. Together, Fitzgerald and Paich deliver a dozen beautifully sung, carefully arranged standards. An orchestra tastefully backs Fitzgerald's vocals, offering cushy support without overdoing it. Even lighter pieces like "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Old MacDonald" are given stately renditions. There's a fun version of "I Said No," filled with silly double entendres, and a relaxed take on "Thanks for the Memory." Norman Granz takes full advantage of stereo capabilities, creatively mixing the instruments to the right and left tracks while leaving Fitzgerald's voice front and center. Paich adds to the overall sound quality by varying the arrangements from song to song, carefully wrapping each tune in the right package. These fine-tuned arrangements also provide the perfect launching pad for Fitzgerald to place her own stamp on material associated with other singers. While both "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)" and "You've Changed" will be recognized as Billie Holiday classics, Fitzgerald delivers light, elegant versions that are distinctly her own. Whisper Not captures two intelligent artists working toward a common goal and creating beautiful music in the process. - by Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., AMG

Artist: Ella Fitzgerald and Marty Paich and His Orchestra
Album: Whisper Not
Year: 1966
Label: Verve (2002)
Total time: 40:41

1.  Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie/Kenneth Casey/Maceo Pinkard) 3:35
2.  Whisper Not (Leonard Feather/Benny Golson) 3:51
3.  I Said No (Frank Loesser/Jule Styne) 2:19
4.  Thanks for the Memory (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin) 4:05
5.  Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most (Fran Landesman/Tommy Wolf) 4:04
6.  Old MacDonald (Traditional/Leonard Feather) 3:04
7.  Time After Time (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) 3:31
8.  You've Changed (Bill Carey/Carl Fischer/Roger "Ram" Ramirez) 4:24 
9.  I've Got Your Number (Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh) 2:24
10.  Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?) (Jimmy Davis/Roger "Ram" Ramirez/Jimmy Sherman) 2:49
11.  Wives and Lovers (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) 3:19
12.  Matchmaker (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick) 3:16

Ella Fitzgerald (Vocals)
Marty Paich (Arranger)
Chuck Berghofer (Double Bass)
Louie Bellson (Drums)
Harry "Sweets" Edison (Trumpet)
Shelly Manne (Drums)
Joe Mondragon (Double Bass)
Bill Perkins (Tenor Saxophone)
Jimmy Rowles (Piano)
Al Viola (Guitar)
Stu Williamson (Trumpet)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Idris Muhammad - Black Rhythm Revolution & Peace and Rhythm

The album's title has more to do with the politics of its day (1972) than with the music; there's not much that's revolutionary going on here. In fact, the first track, the nine-minute "By the Red Sea," is a downright placid piece of soul samba, and the follow-up, a cover of James Brown's "Super Bad," reduces the original's intensity into a coolly percolating groove. And frankly, for a session led by the drummer, this is not a particularly rhythm-heavy set. Even the cover of Jack McDuff's "Soulful Drums" is curiously restrained, with some odd arrhythmic playing by Muhammad in counterpoint with Virgil Jones' trumpet and Clarence Thomas' soprano sax. Black Rhythm Revolution is not a bad album at all; in fact, most of the tracks are good to great, with the lengthy bookends "By the Red Sea" and "Wander" both featuring memorable grooves and tight, compact solos. It's just considerably less intense than the title might lead one to believe. - by Stewart Mason, AMG
Arts of the second solo album by Prestige Records' house drummer, Idris Muhammad, are an even poppier affair than Black Rhythm Revolution, with a mellow soul-jazz feel replacing the slight Latin tinge of the earlier album. Side one is downright crossover, with its two pieces of positive-thinking pop (the lyrics, by Muhammad, are sung by his wife, Sakinah Muhammad) separated by a loose but faithful take on Wilson Pickett's "Don't Knock My Love." That's just side one, though. Side two is something much weirder and far more interesting. "The Peace and Rhythm Suite" is a side-long suite consisting of two long, spacy compositions that predate the ambient house scene by nearly two decades yet sound entirely of a piece with that style. Long, droning, sustained chords on a variety of wind and reed instruments float above Muhammad's percussion, which ebbs and flows in a free, almost arrhythmic way through most of the piece. Fans of the Orb or Brian Eno will find it an old hat, but for early-'70s jazz, this was downright revolutionary. - by Stewart Mason, AMG

Artist: Idris Muhammad
Album: Black Rhythm Revolution/Peace & Rhythm
Year: 1971
Label: Beat Goes Public (1992)
Total time: 69:46

1.  Express Yourself (Charles Wright) 5:28
2.  Soulful Drums (Jack McDuff) 4:42
3.  Super Bad (James Brown) 5:31
4.  Wander (Idris Muhammad) 11:11
5.  By the Red Sea (Idris Muhammad) 8:56
6.  Peace (Idris Muhammad) 11:57
7.  Rhythm (Clarence Thomas) 6:00
8.  Brother You Know You're Doing Wrong (Sakinah Muhammad) 5:42
9.  Don't Knock My Love - Part 1 (Wilson Pickett/Brad Shapiro) 4:55
10.  I'm A Believer (Sakinah Muhammad) 5:19

Idris Muhammad (Drums, Auto Horn, Cabassa and Gong)
Virgil Jones (Trumpet)
Clarence Thomas (Tenor and Soprano Saxophones, Flute and Bells)
Harold Mabern (Electric Piano) - 1-5
Kenny Barron (Electric Piano) - 6-10
Melvin Sparks (Guitar) - 1-5,8-10
Jimmy Lewis (Bass Guitar) - 1-5,8-10
Ron Carter (Bass) - 6-10
Buddy Caldwell (Conga)
Willie Bivins (Vibes) - 6,7
Angel Allende (Percussion and Timbales) - 6,7
Alan Fontaine (Guitar) - 8-10
Sakinah Muhammad (Vocals) - 8-10

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jim Pepper - Polar Bear Stomp

This posthumous release (2003) documents a performance in a Vienna club that the great saxophonist did less than a year before his passing. It features a rhythm section comprised of American expatriates -- Bill Elgart on drums and Wayne Darling  on bass -- and finds Jim Pepper in great spirits going through some of his most famous originals and some favorites. These include the unavoidable "Witchi-Tai-To"; two compositions penned by his father, who was also a saxophonist; a piece by pianist Mal Waldron, with whom he had a fruitful collaboration; and a rendition of the traditional "Greensleeves." Although Elgart and Darling  are accomplished musicians, they are not the perfect fit for Pepper's Native American predilection. The drumming sounds somewhat stiff alongside the bassist's full-bodied, supple, and buzzing sound. As for the leader, he is his relaxed and gruff self, and his playing shows no shortage of lyricism. This sets closely represents what a Pepper gig might have been with his induced audience participation, although his antics on the title track wear thin after repeated listenings. Despite its shortcomings, this recording is a welcome addition to an unfortunately meager discography. - by Alain Drouot, AMG

Artist: Jim Pepper Trio
Album: Polar Bear Stomp (Live at Miles Miles)
Year: 1991
Label: Universal (2003)
Total time: 67:00

1.  Polar Bear Stomp (Jim Pepper) 7:41
2.  Greensleeves (Traditional) 10:43
3.  Ya Na Ho (Gilbert Pepper) 3:31
4.  Squaw Song (Gilbert Pepper) 8:01
5.  Ticket to M. S. (Mal Waldron) 14:24
6.  Lakota Song (Jim Pepper) 10:03
7.  Witchi Tai To (Jim Pepper) 12:34

Jim Pepper (Saxophone, Vocals and Percussion)
Wayne Darling (Bass)
Bill Elgart (Drums)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Idris Muhammad - Power of Soul

This album is one of the reasons that Idris Muhammad is regarded as the drumming king of groove. Featuring the arrangements and keyboards of Bob James, the saxophone punch of Grover Washington, Jr., guitarist Joe Beck, trumpeter Randy Brecker, percussionist Ralph MacDonald, and the knife-edge slick production of Creed Taylor, this 1974 issue is a burning piece of deep, jazzy soul and grooved-out bliss. The funk flies fast and heavy, particularly on the title track (Jimi Hendrix's tune), with soaring solos by Grover and James, who fall down in the groove to Muhammad's powerful pace, setting from the heart of the pocket. Beck's own solo is special in that he moves against the tempo just a bit, but that only increases the listener's dependence on the groove of Muhammad. Clocking in at only 34 minutes it's a perfect slice of the raw-onion emotion Muhammad was pulling down at the time. While there isn't a weak track in the four, it's Washington's "Loran's Dance" that takes the cake, even over Hendrix. While the former is dark and heavy, and the immediately preceding tracks by James and Beck, respectively, are light, fancy, free nods to Creed Taylor's hoping for a jazz radio single, it's "Loran's Dance" that showcases not only Washington as an aspiring writer in his own right (this is only a year before Feels So Good and Mr. Magic appeared), but also as a talented interpreter of the edges where jazz and soul come together. James' arrangements are tight, and everybody gets to solo with a little more freedom and grace. Muhammad keeps the pocket wide and Brecker and Washington dance all around in it as James  plays the accents furtively. This is some easy-moving, yet musically complex jazz. There is great power in these four tracks to make you move or reflect or just tap your foot while nodding "yeah" at your speakers imperceptibly. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Idris Muhammad
Album: Power of Soul
Year: 1974 (CTI)
Label: Sony (Digitally Remastered, 2001)
Total time: 34:22

1.  Power Of Soul (Jimi Hendrix) 7:07
2.  Piece Of Mind (Bob James) 9:24
3.  The Saddest Thing (Joe Beck) 7:10
4.  Loran's Dance (Grover Washington Jr.) 10:39

Idris Muhammad (Drums)
Grover Washington Jr. (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone)
Bob James (Keyboards)
Gary King (Bass Guitar)
Joe Beck (Guitar)
Ralph MacDonald (Percussion)
Randy Brecker (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)

Pharoah Sanders - Shukuru

An '80s session reuniting a great team from the '70s--vocalist Leon Thomas and tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. They don't take things as far outside as they did then, but still soar and glide while pianist William Henderson, bassist Ray Drummond, and drummer Idris Muhammad fill in underneath them. - by Ron Wynn, AMG

Artist: Pharoah Sanders
Album: Shukuru
Year: 1981
Label: Theresa (1985)
Total time: 42:28

1.  Shukuru (Pharoah Sanders) 5:50
2.  Body And Soul (Frank Eyton/Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour) 7:35
3.  Mas In Brooklyn (Highlife) (Francisco Linger) 3:43
4.  Sun Song (Leon Thomas) 6:07
5.  Too Young To Go Steady (Harold Adamson/Jimmy McHugh) 5:25
6.  Jitu (Pharoah Sanders) 5:47
7.  For Big George (Pharoah Sanders/Leon Thomas) 8:01

Pharoah Sanders (Tenor Saxophone an Voice)
Leon Thomas (Vocals)
William Henderson (Piano and Voices)
Ray Drummond (Double Bass)
Idris Muhammad (Drums)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tomasz Stanko - Twet

In the '70-s, the peak years of Tomasz Stanko, his perfect partners were few, but certainly the Finnish drummer Edward Vesala and Polish tenor-man Tomasz Szukalski belonged to them. Their cooperation brought such important records as "Balladyna", "TWET", "Almost Green", "Live at Remont" or "Satu". These three musicians' mutual understanding was almost of a metaphysical quality, necessary to be sure, to play free-jazz. On this disc they are joined by the sensitive and articulate American bassist, Peter Warren. Out in 1976, TWET (supposedly an acronym of musician's initials), is a perfect example of free-jazz attractiveness potential, so seldom truly realizes. But here it materializes, to the sensitive listener's satisfaction. "Dark Awakening" grips our imagination from the very start with the mysteriously oscillating mood, the sounds of bass clarinet... With the first sounds of trumpet the heterophony of the four instruments fighting for our attention unfolds. In the title piece TWET ostinato basses support the convulsive flights of trumpet but soon bass itself comes to the fore with the series of three-notes motifs (c, c-sharp, d) crowned by a surprising consonance. The most gentle and even tender number, "Mintuu Maria" starts with tenor-trumpet dialogue that gradually gives way to tenor improvisation after which the trumpet joins again. Strong drumming and bass figures introduce "Man of the North", giving way after a while to incoherent heterophony of voices leading to frenetic saxophone solo over assertive and faster bass walking. Out of the background to the fore the drums emerge, but the bass figures take over the high above the trumpet's soaring sounds appear. Another contrast brings "Night Peace": the chimes of steady basses, tiny bell-sounds and prorogated sounds of trumpet bring back sleepy saxophone, and they take rest of calm pulsations of drums and bass. - by Andrzej Schmidt,

Artist: Tomasz Stanko
Album: Twet
Year: 1974
Label: Polskie Nagrania (24-bit remastered, 2004)
Quality: eac-flac, cue, log, scans
Total time: 40:03

1.  Dark Awakening 12:43
2.  Twet 7:18
3.  Mintuu Maria 5:17
4.  Man From North 10:26
5.  Night Peace 4:17
All compositions by Stanko, Vesala, Szukalski, Warren

Tomasz Stanko (Trumpet)
Tomasz Szukalski (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet)
Edvard Vesala (Drums)
Peter Warren (Double Bass)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vasant Rai & Oregon - Spring Flowers-Autumn Song

Vasant Rai is one of the world’s most acclaimed masters of Indian music.He emerged a virtuoso on the sarod.(The sarod is a 25-string fretless lute.) In 1973, Rai became a visiting professor of music at Columbia University in New York City. He subsequently founded the Alam School of Indian Classical Music in New York, where he now teaches sarod, sitar, flute, violin, guitar, and voice. He lives in the Chelsea district of New York City, and carries on the pure classical tradition of his homeland, expressing the same universal musical spirit as his guru. But meanwhile, Vasant is exploring new directions.
“I am a musician,” he says. “I’m following the traditional ways, but I’m not orthodox to the point where I won’t do other things.” He has, in fact, appeared with electric guitarists Carlos Santana and John McLaughin (in 1974), and is perhaps best known for his remarkable series of “East-West blends” on the Vanguard label-compositions and improvisations recorded with members of the group Oregon. Vasant is currently recording and experimenting with his “fretless guitar,” a self-modified sarod-guitar hybrid.- from Vasant's website

You have recorded several "East-West blends" recently. As a classical artist, what motivated you to go in this direction?
I would like to offer the best of Indian classical music to as many people as possible. But only about 10 percent of the population would go to listen to Indian music, or any Oriental classical music. That doesn't mean that they don't like it. It's just new for them. I have tried to create something with Western musicians. I have mixed Indian and Western music so audiences hear something Indian when they are listening. When the general listener hears Autumn Song or Spring Flowers (Vanguard LPs), he would hardly know this is something from India.
Did you compose those pieces and then find Western musicians to suit your needs?
Yes. I composed and then thought, "What instrument would work with this composition?" I thought of violin, cello, or any other continuous sound instrument. Because I play sarod, which is plucked, I wanted a bowed or wind instrument-and drums, of course. I thought if I used tabla the audience would decide, "Oh, this is something Indian." So I included more conga drums. Then I tried many different violinists. They were good, but I wasn't satisfied-they would improvise well but would go far away from the composition. Then I finally got Jerry Goodman. He's a very good violinist who has been classically trained and who also plays jazz. When he played I was satisfied. I called him from Chicago and within a day he "felt it." Collin Walcott of Oregon helped write the staff notation. I also wanted either oboe or alto sax, so I got Paul McCandless from Oregon. He's a wonderful musician; his improvisation was a good match for my composition.
- an Ira Landgarten interview for Frets magazine in 1980

Artist: Vasant Rai & Oregon
Albums: Spring Flowers (1976) and Autumn Song (1978) on 1 CD
Label: Comet (2002)
Total time: 74:54

Spring Flowers:

1.  Smile of Goddess Sarasvati 4:38
2.  Distant Village 5:20
3.  Spring Wind 5:57
4.  Guitarist from Unjha 4:35
5.  Saptak 6:54
6.  Leaving Home 4:32
7.  Midnight Meditation 6:53
All compositions by Vasant Rai

Vasant Rai (Sarod, Acoustic Guitar, Flute and Tamboura)
Collin Walcott (Tabla, Congas, Percussion, Sitar and Bass Guitar)
Glen Moore (Piano and Double Bass)
Paul McCandless (Oboe and French Horn)
Dilip Naik (Electric Guitar)
Jerry Goodman (Violin) - 1,3,5,6

Autumn Song:

1.  Autumn Song 7:13
2.  Country Wedding 4:52
3.  Bhairui (Drak-Eyed Girl) 7:12
4.  Lullaby 5:08
5.  Late Night Guitar 3:43
6.  Sunlight Dance 7:57
All compositions by Vasant Rai

Vasant Rai (Sarod, Flute, Guitar, Piano and Swarpeti)
Paul McCandless (Oboe and English Horn)
Collin Walcott (Tabla, Madal, Congas, Mouth Bow and Percussion)
Glen Moore (Double Bass)
Charles Kindler (Violin)
Robert Kindler (Cello)
Kokila Rai (Tamboura)
Martin Quinn (Drums)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Philip Glass & Foday Musa Suso - Music from The Screens

This collaboration between world composers Philip Glass and Foday Musa Suso presents a unique body of work grounded in musical virtuosity in both Western and North African musical cultures. The opening strains of "The Mad Cadi's Court" burst with an aggressive violin double-stop punctuated by an Algerian lute playing North African rhythms and tonalities. Strikingly different from what listeners have heard from Philip Glass from this era. These Algerian folk traditions permeate the entire disc, with many pieces energetic and others more esoteric and soundtracky. Composed as music for a production of Jean Genet's play The Screens, set in Algeria, the music both highlights and compliments the play's drama with sounds native to the setting of the play. Very welcome and refreshing.  - by Mark W. B. Allender, AMG

Artist. Philip Glass & Foday Musa Suso
Album: Music from 'The Screens'
Year: 1992
Label: Point Music
Total time: 49:25

1.  The Mad Cadi's Court 2:29
2.  Leila Dies 1:50
3.  Said And His Shadow Dance 2:50
4.  Decorating The Dummies 2:22
5.  Warda's Whorehouse 2:47
6.  The French Lieutenant Dreams 2:12
7.  The Arab Women Lament 2:50
8.  Land Of The Dead 3:27
9.  Ansatou 2:39
10.  19th Century France 1:38
11.  Said's Treason 3:01
12.  The Orchard 7:09
13.  The Village 2:02
14.  Prison Song 1:16
15.  Suso's Song 2:39
16.  France 1:54
17.  Night On The Balcony 2:04
18.  North Africa - 1962 4:10
All music composed by Philip Glass & Foday Musa Suso


Philip Glass (Piano)
Foday Musa Suso (Kora, Kalimba, Vocals and Percussion)
Benjamin Hudson (Violin)
Michael Parloff (Flute and Piccolo)
Allan Blustine (Clarinet)
Jerry Grossman (Cello)
Martin Goldray (Keyboards)
Rex Benincasa (Percussion)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Larry Coryell - The Restful Mind

Guitarist Larry Coryell recorded several sessions for the Vanguard label during the '70s with varying results. He did manage two classics, Spaces, and this one, The Restful Mind. It is no small coincidence that the better the personnel he surrounded himself with, the better he played. On Spaces, the presence of John McLaughlin and Chick Corea raised his playing to another level. Here, with the backing of the group Oregon (with the exception of Paul McCandless), who were also signed to Vanguard at this time), bring out a more reflective and relaxed Coryell. His tendency to fall back on his chops was always a weak spot in his playing, but it is thankfully absent here. Both of the "Improvisation" pieces are highlights in Coryell's career, which along with the other beaufitul selections, make this one of his best, and certainly most overlooked, recordings. - by Robert Taylor, AMG

Artist: Larry Coryell
Album: The Restful Mind
Year: 1975
Label: Comet (2002)
Total time: 36:26

1.  Improvisation On Robert De Visee's Menuet II (Larry Coryell) 8:14
2.  Ann Arbor (Larry Coryell) 5:00
3.  Pavane For A Dead Princess (Maurice Ravel) 5:39
4.  Improvisation On Robert De Visee's Sarabande (Larry Coryell)  5:20
5.  Song For Jim Webb (Larry Coryell) 3:15
6.  Julie La Belle (Larry Coryell) 5:46
7.  The Restful Mind (Larry Coryell) 3:09

Larry Coryell (Acoustic and Electric Guitar)
Ralph Towner (Guitar)
Collin Walcott (Tabla and Congas)
Glen Moore (Double Bass)

Wes Montgomery - California Dreaming

A fantastic recording, with great arrangements and spectacular soloing by Wes. Yes it's ultra clean, but also very cool. In particular the guitar solo he lays down on the track "Sun Down" still amazes me--after listening to it for 30 years. - by "Rice Burner2000",

Wes Montgomery's last album for Verve (other than an exciting collaboration with Jimmy Smith) is a so-so orchestral date featuring arrangements by Don Sebesky. The material (which includes "Sunny" and "California Dreaming") is strictly pop fluff of the era and the great guitarist has little opportunity to do much other than state the melody in his trademark octaves. This record was perfect for AM radio of the period.  - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Wes Montgomery
Album: California Dreaming
Year: 1966
Label: Verve (1996)
Total time: 35:53

1.  California Dreaming (John Phillips) 3:08
2.  Sun Down (Wes Montgomery) 6:03
3.  Oh You Crazy Moon (Johnny Burke/James Van Heusen) 3:44
4.  More, More, Amor (Sol Lake) 2:54
5.  Without You (Rinaldo Marino/Walter Myers) 3:05
6.  Winds Of Barcelona (Sol Lake) 3:07
7.  Sunny (Bobby Hebb) 4:04
8.  Green Papers (Sol Lake) 2:56
9.  Mr. Walker (Wes Montgomery) 3:39
10.  South Of The Border (Michael Carr/Jimmy Kennedy) 3:13

Wes Montgomery (Guitar)
Mel Davis (Trumpet)
Bernie Glow (Trumpet)
James Nottingham (Trumpet)
Wayne Andre (Trombone)
John Messner (Trombone)
Bill Watrous (Trombone)
Don Butterfield (Tuba)
Ray Beckenstein (Alto Saxophone and Flute, Piccolo)
Stan Webb (Alto and Baritone Saxophone, English Horn, Clarinet)
James Buffington (French Horn)
Herbie Hancock (Piano)
Al Casamenti (Guitar)
Bucky Pizzarelli (Guitar)
Jack Jennings (Vibraphone, Castanets, Scratcher)
Richard Davis (Double Bass)
Grady Tate (Drums)
Ray Barretto (Percussion)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dee Dee Bridgewater - Live at Joshi's

13 years after her prior in-performance release Live in Paris, Bridgewater has not so much matured or refined her approach as she has gotten bolder. This CD was recorded on what would have been her idol Ella Fitzgerald's 80th birthday weekend at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA. She scats in the style of Fitzgerald on most of these numbers -- not quite in the higher range, but comfortably in the middle -- while also displaying some of Sarah Vaughan's more deeply soulful traits. It's a combination of the two, with a little bawdiness for spice, that has made Bridgewater a prime purveyor of excitable jazz vocalizing these days. The set begins with the Charlie Shavers evergreen "Undecided," as the singer stops and starts the band on several dimes for the initial lines, exacting choppy phrases and similar scatting á la Fitzgerald on the bridge. In an Ella-cum-Betty Carter mode for "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," Bridgewater waxes frantically on the effect of an obviously full moon turning her into a scatting monster during two different uptempos. Then she brings out the Sarah Vaughan nightshade for "Midnight Sun," a memorable rendition especially buoyed by Eliez, with rubato intro of bass and piano underneath cat-walking, stealth phrases, stunningly set between the bass and piano lock-step with the vocal line. Then they dive headlong into "Love for Sale" for just over 14 minutes, and more delicate vocals lead to a scat much faster than the band's rhythm. The finale "Cotton Tail" is a three-ring exercise in scat. This program comprises a side of Bridgewater's well-known vehicles used for years as a springboard for her formidable talent -- unabashed and unafraid. - by Michael G. Nastos, AMG

Artist: Dee Dee Bridgewater
Album: Live at Yoshi's
Year: 2000
Label: Universal
Total time: 67:59

1.  Undecided (Charles Shavers/Sid Robin) 8:57
2.  Slow Boat To China (Frank Loesser) 6:08
3.  Stairway To The Stars (Matt Malneck/Frank Signorelli/Mitchell Parish) 7:56
4.  What A Little Moonlight Can Do (Harry Woods)  5:13
5.  Sex Machine (James Brown)  2:32
6.  Midnight Sun (Sonny Burke/Lionel Hampton/Johnny Mercer) 7:08
7.  Cherokee (Ray Noble) 6:14
8.  Love For Sale (Cole Porter)  14:05
9.  Cotton Tail (Duke Ellington) 9:42

Dee Dee Bridgewater (Vocals, Scat)
Thierry Eliez (Piano and Organ)
Ali Jackson (Drums and Percussion)
Thomas Bramerie (Double Bass)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stan Getz - The Steamer

It doesn't happen too often, but there are times when the title of a jazz album and the material within interface perfectly. Hence The Steamer, where Stan Getz joined forces with a super West Coast-based rhythm section to produce some truly steaming music. "Blues for Mary Jane" is remarkable; for all of the straight-ahead heat generated by the rhythm section, Getz is incredibly relaxed, poised, and always under control while still managing to swing like mad. In other words, the style that he was able to carry over to his bossa nova adventures in the following decade is right here, ready to go. There is also room for the Getz-ballad manner on "You're Blase," and "Like Someone in Love" combines a leisurely swinging tempo with Getz's natural warmth. From the evidence of these sessions alone, not to mention countless others, the team of bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Shelly Manne ought to be anointed as one of the greatest rhythm sections in jazz history, and sure-fingered pianist Lou Levy benefits from their finesse and drive. All of this music is available on the three-CD set East of the Sun: The West Coast Sessions, and this Verve Master Edition release offers outtakes from that set at the end of the disc. Indeed, the alternate "How About You?" has some swinging hairpin turns by Getz that will make your head swivel. - by Richard, S. Ginell,AMG

Artist: The Stan Getz Quartet
Album: The Steamer
Year: 1956
Label: Verve (Master Edition, 20-bit digital transfer, 1999)
Total time: 53:46

1.  Blues For Mary Jane (Stan Getz) 7:53
2.  There Will Never Be Another You (Mack Gordon/Harry Warren)  9:20
3.  You're Blasé (Ord Hamilton/Bruce Sievier) 4:13
4.  Too Close For Comfort (Jerry Bock/Larry Holofcener/George David Weiss) 6:19
5.  Like Someone In Love (Johnny Burke/James Van Heusen) 6:30
6.  How About You? (Ralph Freed/Burton Lane) 7:24
7.  How About You? (Complete Alternative Take) 6:59
8.  There Will Never Be Another You (Incomplete And Breakdown Takes) 1:09
9.  You're Blasé (False Start) 0:46
10.  Like Someone In Love (Incomplete Take) 0:37
11.  How About You? (False Starts And Breakdown Take) 2:30

Stan Getz (Tenor Saxophone)
Lou Levy (Piano)
Leroy Vinnegar (Double Bass)
Stan Levey (Drums)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Luiz Bonfá - Plays and Sings Bossa Nova

Sometimes a recording is more than just beautiful music. There are albums in my collection who (which) I seriously consider my friends. These are the ones I hung out with every day for countless months or years, and, when I listen to them again, they remind be of a certain emotion of those days. These are the albums that last a lifetime. "Composer of Black Orpheus plays and sings Bossa Nova" is one of these albums, and one of my best friends. Luiz Bonfa is a fantastic musician - a fact revealed in this album. As the title suggests, Luiz Bonfa both plays and sings for this recording - a rare treat for any Bossa Nova fan. But this is not for a select few; everybody who hears this album likes this album. It's simply beautiful music that you can listen to any time. On a sunny day, Bonfa's unrivaled guitaring (complimented by funky Brasilian percussion, Jobim-esque piano, the pure tones of Maria Toledo, and occasional, unobtrusive strings) will convince you that you've arrived in 60s Rio. During winter, Bonfa's warm, unpretentious singing is the perfect pick-me-up. These days it seems to be so hard to find classically trained guitarists sensitive to melody and timbre; and it is equally as hard to find jazz musicians who aren't tempted to play every note in the scale available to them (and sometimes those notes that aren't available). But, while he crosses over both realms, Luiz Bonfa is neither classical guitarist, nor jazz player. In "Composer..." there are some of the most wonderful melodies ever created, the themes expounded beautifully without ever being repetitious. In all of Bonfa's albums, it seems there is a different version of his most famous composition "Manha De Carnaval". This album contains one of the best, displaying Bonfa's incredible gifts in reworking a theme until it becomes perfection. The sixth track, "Silencio Do Amor" is one of the greates songs in existence; so finely balanced between the early verses, in which we hear Bonfa's gentle singing, and the later verses when only his guitar is heard. Really, all tracks on "Composer..." are beyond easy description. Only the greatest poets could express what one feels when listening to this music. There is something magical in Luiz Bonfa, something that translates only to the heart and that tingly area which is what, I suppose, they call a "soul". - from

Artist: Luiz Bonfá
Album: Luiz Bonfá Plays and Sings Bossa Nova
Year: 1963
Label: Verve (2000)
Total time: 35:46

1.  Samba De Duas Notas (Two Note Samba) (Luiz Bonfa) 2:47
2.  Vem So (Come Here, My Love) (Luiz Bonfa) 2:00
3.  Sambalamento (Luiz Bonfa/Maria Helena Toledo) 2:21
4.  Tristeza (Brazilian Blues) (Luiz Bonfa/Maria Helena Toledo) 3:05
5.  Manha De Carnaval (Morning of the Carnival) (Luiz Bonfa) 3:22
6.  Silencio Do Amor (The Silence of Love) (Luiz Bonfa/Maria Helena Toledo) 2:10
7.  Domingo A Noite (Sunday Night) (Luiz Bonfa/Maria Helena Toledo) 2:02
8.  Ilha De Coral (Coral Island) (Luiz Bonfa) 3:24
9.  Adeus (Goodbye) (Luiz Bonfa) 3:25
10.  Quebra Mar (The Sea Wall) (Luiz Bonfa) 2:29
11.  Amor Que Acabou (The End of Love) (Chico Feitosa/Luis Fernando Freire) 2:06
12.  Chora Tua Tristeza (Cry Your Blues Away) (Oscar Castro-Neves/Luvercy Fiorini) 3:07
13.  Bossa Nova Cha Cha (Luiz Bonfa) 3:21

Luiz Bonfa (Guitar and Vocal)
Iko Castro-Neves (Double Bass)
Roberto Pontes-Dias (Drums and Percussion)
Oscar Castro-Neves (Guitar, Piano and Organ) - 1-4,6
Maria Helena Toledo (Vocals) - 4,6,7,9,11
Leo Wright (Flute) - 5,8,13
Lalo Schifrin (Arranger) - 5,8,9,13

Friday, July 16, 2010

George Coleman - Danger High Voltage

Danger High Voltage is significant in two respects: It is the first release from the Two and Four Recording Company, and it marks the reformation of the George Coleman Octet, which hadn't recorded since its debut in 1977. The horn section consists of Coleman and special guest Ned Otter on tenor saxes, Jim Rotondi on trumpet, Adam Brenner on alto, and Gary Smulyan on baritone. The rhythm section is anchored by two veterans, pianist Harold Mabern and bassist Ray Drummond, along with drummer George Coleman, Jr. and percussionist Daniel Sadownick. Beginning with Coleman's bouncy arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely," the little big band goes on to feature its various members. Adam Brenner shines on fellow altoist Bobby Watson's hard-bopping "Conservation," while Jim Rotondi is given the floor on the lovely ballad "Portrait of Jennie," again arranged by Coleman. Ned Otter takes center stage on Frank Foster's classic waltz "Simone" and his own 4/4 arrangement of the great standard "Tenderly." In general, Otter's tone is less round and his rhythmic approach a bit less focused than Coleman's. To close the album, the group presents Bill Lee's Latin arrangement of Consuela Lee's "Follow Me" and, finally, Coleman's original "Pretty Blues." Because there are so many other players present, one shouldn't look to this record for a comprehensive survey of Coleman's tenor abilities. However, as an accessible, straight-ahead ensemble jazz outing, Danger High Voltage is about as solid as it gets. - by David R. Adler, AMG

Artist: George Coleman
Album: Danger High Voltage
Year: 1996
Label: Two and Four (2000)
Total time: 68:08

1.  Isn't She Lovely (Stevie Wonder) 9:55
2.  Conservation (Bobby Watson/Marcia Neil) 10:22
3.  Portrait of Jennie (Gordon Burdge/Russel Robinson) 13:31
4.  Simone (Frank Foster) 5:06
5.  Tenderly (Walter Cross/Jack Lawrence) 10:03
6.  Follow Me (Consuela Lee)  12:42
7.  Pretty Blues (George Coleman) 6:29

George Coleman (Tenor Saxophone)
Ned Otter (Tenor Saxophone)
Harold Mabern (Piano)
Jim Rotondi (Trumpet)
Ray Drummond (Double Bass)
Adam Brenner (Alto Saxophone)
Gary Smulyan (Baritone Saxophone)
George Coleman Jr. (Drums)
Daniel Sadownick (Percussion)

Terje Rypdal - Bleak House

"Dead Man's Tale" very laidback minor-key blues tune with vibrato-rich guitar and organ and vocals (Terje) - similar in tone to the Zombies' "Time of the Season" but more laidback - some really tasteful and enjoyable solos by Terje and Reim (the organist), plus some breathy flute soloing by Terje - I do like this tune quite a bit "Wes" - an obvious guitar-and-bigband tribute to Wes Montgomery, with the intervallic guitar lines and all - I admit that I laughed when I first heard this track, not because it is a poor composition (which it most definitely isn't), but because of Terje's weak (to my ears) attempt at being a "swingin'-cat" jazzer. Hehe. But the tune is cool, the heads going from 4/4 to 5/4 to 3/4 in upbeat swinging fashion. "Winter Serenade" - this is a short freely-improvised piece that is apparently supposed to intonate "Falling Snow", "Snow Storm", and "Melting Snow", its three "movements" (without any breaks between them) - some nice improv by all, with great guitar doodling and wailing and fine pointilist playing by Garbarek, Reim, and trumpeter Johansen, amongst others - I really like this piece - a good break between the big band sounds of "Wes" and..... "Bleak House" - a triple-meter upbeat big band tune with very nice horn arrangement and some fine guitar work (lead and rhythm - you don't get much chance to hear his rhythm work very often) by Terje - some may prefer this tune over all others on the album - although it is quite derivative sounding, it is fun nonetheless - some fine drumming by Christensen - he and Terje really get down on the extended Im7-IV jams "Sonority" a lovely intro with flute, piano, and guitar with nice chords on horns actually this reminds me of some of the work of another big favorite of mine, Claus Ogerman and some of the most laidback and subdued guitar doodling I have ever heard Terje do, and I really like it."A Feeling of Harmony" imagine Terje trying to sound like Joao Gilberto or Dori Caymmi, etc. - the bossa nova craze was at its height in the early-mid 60s, and apparently Terje dug it (as do I) - here he is with nylon-string guitar and humming away with poor intonation, the whole silly bit. Why he decided to include this tune on this album is a mystery (unless he just wanted to demonstrate stylistic diversity), and it kinda stinks - this commentary from a lover of Jobim, Bonfa, Powell, etc. too! Haha. So, there it is - a fun album, even though all the pieces are not works of genius. My favorite tracks are "Sonority" and "Winter Serenade", but all of them (except the silly "A Feeling of Harmony") are worth hearing over and over again. - by Jeff Gower, from

Artist: Terje Rypdal
Album: Bleak House
Year: 1968
Label: Polydor (1999)
Total time: 33:09

1.  Dead Mans Tale 7:09
2.  Wes 4:18
3.  Winter Serenade 6:08
4.  Bleak House 7:07
5.  Sonority 5:23
6.  A Feeling of Harmony 3:01
All compositions by - Terje Rypdal

Terje Rypdal (Guitar, Flute and Vocals)
Jan Garbarek (Tenor Saxophone, Flute and Bells) - 2-5
C.M. Neumann (Alto Saxophone and Flute) - 2-5
Hans Knudsen (Baritone Saxophone) - 2,5
Knut Riisnaes (Tenor Saxophone) - 3
Frode Thingnaes (Trombone and Tuba) - 2,5
Oivind Westby (Trombone) - 2
Tore Nilsen (Trombone) - 2
Kjell Haugen (Trombone) - 2,4,5
Ditlef Echoff (Trumpet) - 2
Kare Furuholmen (Trumpet) - 2,4
Jarl Johansen (Trumpet) - 2-5
Froydis Ree Hauge (Horn) - 2,5
Odd Ulleberg (Horn) - 2,5
Christian Reim (Organ and Piano) - 1-5
Terje Wenaas (Bass) - 2-5
Jon Christensen (Drums) - 2-5
Tom Karlsen (Drums) - 1

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dave Brubeck - Bravo! Brubeck!

One of the better Dave Brubeck LPs from the later period of the Quartet with altoist Paul Desmond, this set is unusual in that it only contains one Brubeck original. On such tunes as "Cielito Lindo," the beautiful "La Paloma," "Besame Mucho" and "Estrellita," the Quartet is augmented by guitarist Chamin Correa and percussionist Rabito Agueros. The results are melodic but swinging treatments of a variety of famous themes. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Perhaps no other jazz artist has used the live album to his advantage more so than Brubeck. His series of college recordings in the early 1950s launched his career in full, and by the time his quartet performed these Mexican concerts in 1967, they were in the twilight of one of jazz's most successful runs. Delivering a repertoire of Mexican pop and folk standards (plus one Latin-tinged original), Brubeck mostly shows his softer melodic side, trading in his more intense, agitated ideas for hightened elements of beauty and swing. His dialogue with Mexican guitarist Chamin Correa on "Sobre Las Olas" is delightfully bright. Of course, Paul Desmond's alto work always tended toward the lighthearted; it's elegantly fragile (over Rabito Agueros's most delicate bongos) on "La Paloma Azul" and wonderfully frisky on "Estrellita." Brubeck and Desmond lay out for the fan favorite "Alla En El Rancho Grande," but Brubeck returns for a furious reading of "La Bamba," propelled by the percussion team of Rabito and Joe Morello. The timeless material, guest musicians, and above all, the fertility of the Brubeck Quartet make this Latin bit a success. - by Marc Greilsamer,

Artist: Dave Brubeck
Album: Bravo! Brubeck! (Live in Mexico)
Year: 1967 (Legacy)
Label: Sony (20 Bit Digitally Remixed & Remastered, 1998)
Total time: 50:31

1.  Introduction 1:18
2.  Cielito Lindo (Traditional) 5:01
3.  La Paloma Azul (Traditional) 6:15
4.  Sobre Las Olas (Over the Wawes) (Juventino Rosas) 3:17
5.  Besame Mucho (Consuelo Velázquez/Sunny Skylar) 5:53
6.  Nostalgia De Mexico (Dave Brubeck) 4:03
7.  Poinciana (Buddy Bernier/Nat Simon) 6:43
8.  Alla En El Rancho Grande (Emilio de Uranga) 2:58
9.  Frenesi (Alberto Dominguez/Leonard Whitcup) 5:17
10.  Estrellita (Manuel Ponce) 4:56
11.  La Bamba (Traditional) 4:50

Dave Brubeck (Piano)
Paul Desmond (Alto Saxophone)
Eugene Wright (Double Bass)
Joe Morello (Drums)
Salvador Agüeros (Bongos and Conga)
Benjamin Correa (Guitar)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook - Night Song

Canadian guitarist Michael Brook worked with Nusrat to create the 1990 crossover hit Mustt Mustt, and the release was hailed internationally and credited with leading Pakistani youth to discover Sufi religious music, qawwali. This follow-up project helped establish something of a tradition for Real World crossover projects. The genre features dreamy, atmospheric keyboards and guitars, simple, mid-tempo rhythms, and a kind of low-key understatement that, depending on your point of view, sounds either profoundly mystical or else tedious and bland. With West African kora and electronic backing and Nusrat singing in a relaxed mid-range voice, the opener "My Heart, My Life" sounds almost like a Salif Keita ballad as it works up to its energized closing chant. "My Comfort Remains" and "Crest" are essentially pop numbers with catchy melodies, the former bouncy but static, the latter building towards a revelatory crescendo. Not until the fifth of eight tracks, "Longing," do we hear Nusrat's signature scat singing and his singular wail, unmistakable even when lavished with effects. "Sweet Pain" might be the strongest track, beginning deep in dream space with a wandering bassline and a simple backbeat, and then heating up to powerful close with Nusrat delivering spitfire scat. Wherever you stand on Real World's arty aesthetics, you have to admire the qawwali star's sense of adventure here. You also have to recognize that no crossover project, including Nusrat's far more fun collaboration with London DJ Bally Sagoo, approaches the power of his standard fare qawwali. - by  Banning Eyre, AMG

Artist: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook
Album: Night Song
Year: 1996
Label: Real World
Total time: 48:04

1.  My Heart, My Life 5:31
2.  Intoxicated 7:34
3.  Lament 5:15
4.  My Comfort Remains 6:39
5.  Longing 5:35
6.  Sweet Pain 6:28
7.  Night Song (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) 4:47
8.  Crest 6:15
All compositions by Michael Brook/Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, except 7th.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Vocals, Harmonium, Keyboards)
Michael Brook (Guitar, Mixing, Keyboards, Electronic Percussion, Bass Guitar)
James Pinker (Drums and Percussion) - 1,3,5,6,8
Richard Evans (Mandola, Acid Wah Treatment) - 2,3,8
Robert Ahwai (Bass Guitar) - 1,4-6
Dildar Hussain (Tabla) - 2,5
Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan (Harmonium) - 2,5
Kauwding Cissokho (Kora) - 1,4
Jo Bruce (Hammond Organ) - 2
Masamba Diop (Talking Drum) - 1
Mick Karn (Bass Guitar) - 2
Caroline Dale (Cello) - 6

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oscar Peterson - Soul Espanol

Oscar Peterson augmented his regular working trio of the time (bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes) with Henley Gibson on congas, Marshall Thompson on timbales, and Harold Jones as an added percussionist for this release, which focuses mostly on the music of Brazilian composers (so the title Soul Espanol is a bit misleading). With the surge of interest in bossa nova and samba, Peterson's interpretations of songs like "Manha de Carnaval," "How Insensitive," "Meditation," and "Samba de Orfeo" have stood up very well against similar jazz recordings of the mid-'60s. Peterson's "Soulville Samba" has a gospel flavor, while his "Sensitive Samba" is more laid-back; Vincent Youmans' decades-old "Carioca" also fit in nicely. This is an enjoyable, if not essential, part of Oscar Peterson's considerable discography. The one mystery is why the credits and liner notes couldn't have been reproduced on a larger insert in order for them to be readable; this is one major drawback in shrinking the original LP jacket to CD size. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Oscar Peterson
Album: Soul Espanol
Year: 1966
Label: Limelight (Japan Mini LP)
Total time: 38:16

1.  Mas Que Nada (Jorge Ben) 2:27
2.  Manha de Carnaval (Luiz Bonfá/Vinicius de Moraes) 3:45
3.  Call Me (Tony Hatch) 5:19
4.  How Intensitive (Vinicius de Moraes/Norman Gimbel/Antonio Carlos Jobim) 4:02
5.  Carioca (Edward Eliscu/Gus Kahn/Vincent Youmans) 4:31
6.  Soulville Samba (Oscar Peterson) 2:25
7.  Amanha (Tomorrow) (Phil Bodner) 4:21
8.  Meditation (Norman Gimbel/Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonça) 4:15
9.  Samba Sensitive (Oscar Peterson) 3:20
10.  Samba de Orfeo (Luiz Bonfá/Vinicius de Moraes) 3:51

Oscar Peterson (Piano)
Sam Jones (Double Bass)
Louis Hayes (Drums)
Marshall Thompson (Timbales)
Harold Jones (Percussion)
Henley Gibson (Conga)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Veronika Harcsa - Red Baggage

Veronika Harcsa was born in Budapest. During her school years she went to several music schools learning to play the piano, the saxophone, classical and jazz singing. She is graduating from the vocal jazz faculty of the Ferenc Liszt College of Music Budapest in June 2008. She formed her own jazz quartet in 2005, featuring leading young Hungarian jazz musicians. She produced and released their debut jazz standard album Speak Low in Hungary in 2005. Speak Low was released in Japan in July 2007 by the independent Tokyo based label Nature Bliss. Speak Low became No.1 on the vocal jazz sales ranking of Tower Records Japan. In the year 2006 she began to compose and play her own songs. In June 2007 she recorded her second album You Don’t Know It’s You, consisting of thirteen original songs. Besides her jazz career she has tried herself in great many genres. She is the singer of the Erik Sumo Band, contributed as a guest to several Hungarian electro music projects, and also performed in two of the Off Company’s contemporary dance pieces as a singer. She has performed at numerous festivals in Hungary, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Slovakia and Romania. At the Budapest Fringe Festival 2007 she won the Fringe’s Best Voice Award. - from

Artist: Veronika Harcsa
Album: Red Baggage
Year: 2008
Label: Smart Music
Total time: 54:67

1.  Unreachable 4:39
2.  Red Baggage 4:00
3.  You** 3:15
4.  Thousand Lovers 4:17
5.  Smoke 4:42
6.  Are You Gonna Share 4:37
7.  Come On Over 3:48
8.  Surprise 4:19
9.  Saying No 2:08
10.  Make It Last 6:41
11.  Raining Ice 3:54
12.  Time and Space 3:55
13.  You (Combo version)** 4:35  
All compositions by Veronika Harcsa, Except **, written by Veronika Harcsa/Matyas Szepesi

Veronika Harcsa (Vocals)
Attila Blaho (Piano)
Balint Gyemant (Guitar)
Zoltan Olah (Double Bass)
Balint Majtenyi (Drums and Percussion)
Gabor Subitz (Trumpet and Flugelhorm) - 1,7
Tamas Meleg (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,7
Balazs Cserta (Alto Saxophone and Flute) - 1,7
Attila Korb (Trombone) - 1,7
Attila Galfi (Drums) - 12

Gerry Mulligan - At the Village Vanguard

Of all the recordings made by Gerry Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band in the 1960s, this is the definitive one. There are many high points, including "Body and Soul" (which has fine solos from the baritone/leader and valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer), "Come Rain or Come Shine," and the swinging "Let My People Be," but "Blueport" takes honors. On the latter, after hot solos by Mulligan, trombonist Willie Dennis, and Jim Reider on tenor, Mulligan and trumpeter Clark Terry have a lengthy trade-off that is quite hilarious with a countless number of quotes from different songs; at one point they trade off cities. This music is essential. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artit: Gerry Mullihan and the Concert Jazz Band
Album: At the Village Vanguard
Year: 1961
Label: Verve (2002, 24-bit remastered)
Total time: 40:51

1.  Blueport (Art Farmer) 4:10
2.  Body And Soul (Frank Eyton/Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour) 11:06
3.  Black Nightgown (Johnny Mandel) 5:44
4.  Come Rain or Come Shine (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) 5:35
5.  Lady Chatterlay's Mother (Al Cohn) 6:14
6.  Let My People Be (Gerry Mulligan) 7:59

Gerry Mulligan (Baritone Saxophone, Piano and Arranger)
Don Ferrara (Trumpet)
Clark Terry (Trumpet)
Nick Travis (Trumpet)
Bob Brookmeyer (Trombone)
Willie Dennis (Trombone)
Alan Ralph (Trombone)
Gene Quill (Clarinet and Alto Saxophone)
Bob Donovan (Alto Saxophone)
Jim Reider (Tenor Saxophone)
Gene Allen (Baritone Saxophone and Bass Clarinet)
Bill Crow (Double Bass)
Mel Lewis (Drums)
Al Cohn (Arranger) - 1
Johnny Mandel (Arranger) - 3

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wes Motgomery - Movin' Wes

Wes Montgomery's debut for Verve, although better from a jazz standpoint than his later A&M releases, is certainly in the same vein. The emphasis is on his tone, his distinctive octaves, and his melody statements. Some of the material (such as "People" and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker") are pop tunes of the era and the brass orchestra (arranged by Johnny Pate) is purely in the background, but there are some worthy performances, chiefly the two-part "Movin' Wes," "Born to Be Blue," and "West Coast Blues." - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Wes Montgomery
Album: Movin' Wes
Year: 1965 (M.G.M.)
Label: Verve (1992)
Total time: 36:06

1.  Caravan (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills/Juan Tizol) 2:40
2.  People (Bob Merrill/Jule Styne) 4:25
3.  Movin' Wes-Part I (Wes Montgomery) 3:16
4.  Moca Flor (Durval Ferreira/Lula Freire) 3:13
5.  Matchmaker, Matchmaker (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick) 2:49
6.  Movin' Wes-Part II (Wes Montgomery) 2:37
7.  The Phoenix Love Theme (Paoli/Wilder)  3:24
8.  Theodora (Creed Taylor) 3:59
9.  In And Out (Wes Montgomery) 2:50
10.  Born To Be Blue (Mel Tormé/Robert Wells) 3:42
11.  West Coast Blues (Wes Montgomery) 3:11

Wes Montgomery (Guitar)
Jerome Richardson (Woodwinds)
Jimmy Cleveland (Trombone)
Urbie Green (Trombone)
Quentin Jackson (Trombone)
Chauncey Welsch (Trombone)
Ernie Royal (Trumpet)
Clark Terry (Trumpet)
Snookie Young (Trumpet)
Don Butterfield (Tuba)
Bobby Scott (Piano)
Bob Cranshaw (Double Bass)
Grady Tate (Drums)
Willie Bobo (Percussion)

Terumasa Hino - Journey Into My Mind

A fine trumpeter influenced by Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis, Terumasa Hino has long been one of Japan's best jazz musicians. A professional since 1955, Hino has mostly become known to Americans since the 1970s due to his Enja recordings, although some of his albums were made available domestically by Catalyst, Inner City, and Blue Note. He moved to the U.S. in 1975, where he worked with Gil Evans, Jackie McLean, Dave Liebman, and Elvin Jones. Hino spent more of his time in Japan after the early '80s, and recorded in several different styles ranging from straight-ahead to fusion. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Terumasa Hino
Album: Journey into My Mind
Year: 1974
Label: Sony (Master Sound)
Total time: 38:52

1.  Oriental Dance (Terumasa Hino) 5:47
2.  My Funny Valentine (Lorentz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 7:33
3.  Thanks, Toko (Terumasa Hino) 6:36
4.  Reve Provencale (Terumasa Hino) 8:03
5.  Sky (Terumasa Hino) 6:49
6.  Open Vision (Terumasa Hino) 4:02

Terumasa Hino (Trumpet and Bells)
Mikio Masuda (Piano) - 2,4,5
Motohiko Hino (Drums, Percussion and Saw) - 3-5
Shigeharu Mukai (Trombone) - 4
Eiji Toki (Soprano and Alto Saxophone) - 4
Takao Uematsu (Tenor Saxophone) - 4
Hideo Miyata (Flute and Tenor Saxophone) - 4,5
Tsutomu Okada (Double Bass) - 4,5

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wes Montgomery - Willow Weep for Me

Shortly after Wes Montgomery's shockingly early death, Verve rummaged around in the vaults and came up with some additional tapes from the live Smokin' at the Half Note sessions with the Kind of Blue rhythm section, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb. And then after-the-fact producer Esmond Edwards did a controversial thing — he commissioned Claus Ogerman, the arranger on Tequila, to overdub wind and brass arrangements on four tracks: the title tune, "Portrait of Jennie," "Oh! You Crazy Moon," and "Misty." The critics promptly pounced on Verve, NARAS responded by giving the album a Grammy, and the whole issue became moot when subsequent reissues of the four tracks erased the new backing charts. Yet on the whole, Ogerman did a good job; his arrangements are subtle and, in the case of the title track, swinging, with the flutes adding effective responses within Montgomery's statements of the theme. "Impressions," oddly enough, was left alone — perhaps due to its lightning tempo — and this classic solo has since been reissued many times as the prime example of Montgomery in his Verve period. "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" and an alternate take of "Four on Six" (with a bad edit cutting off Kelly's solo in mid-flight) are also free of orchestrations. In any case, what you will hear, bathed in winds or not, is prime, mature Wes Montgomery stretching out in full, with unbelievable confidence in his ear and technique at all times, experimenting now and then with mild electronic effects devices. The sound is oddly dim and shallow on the LP, which is surprising since the Smokln' album sounded so good. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Wes Montgomery
Album: Willow Weep for Me
Year: 1965
Label: Verve (2002, 96 Khz, 24-bit digital transfer)
Total time: 42:51

1.  Willow Weep for Me (Ann Ronell) 7:44
2.  Impressions (John Coltrane) 5:06
3.  Portait of Jennie (Gordon Burdge/J. Russel Robinson) 2:48
4.  Surrey With the Fringe on Top (Oscar Hammerstein II/Richard Rodgers) 5:26
5.  Oh! You Crazy Moon (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) 5:29
6.  Four on Six (Wes Montgomery) 9:33
7.  Misty (Erroll Garner/Johnny Burke) 6:45

Wes Montgomery (Guitar)
Winton Kelly (Piano)
Paul Chambers (Double Bass)
Jimmy Cobb (Drums)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nnena Freelon - Heritage

A major improvement on her debut (which found Nnenna Freelon overly influenced by Sarah Vaughan), the singer's second effort has many highpoints including outstanding versions of "'Tis Autumn," Duke Ellington's "Heritage" (a challenging and very personal song), "Prelude to a Kiss" and "Comes Love." Backed by a superior rhythm seciton and occasional horns, Freelon (even if this set bogs down a bit near the end due to too many ballads) is quite expressive, relaxed and consistently creative. This is a very impressive effort from one of the most promising jazz vocalists of the 1990s. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Nnena Freelon
Album: Heritage
Year: 1993
Label: Sony
Total playing: 70:04

1.  Girl Blue (Stevie Wonder/Syreeta Wright) 5:53
2.  'Tis Autumn (Henry Nemo) 4:14
3.  Heritage (Duke Ellington) 4:58
4.  Comes Love (Lew Brown/Sam H. Stept/Charles Tobias) 4:58
5.  Prelude To A Kiss (Duke Ellington/Irving Gordon/Irving Mills) 5:03
6.  It's You I Like (Fred Rogers) 3:59
7.  Infant Eyes (Doug Carn/Wayne Shorter) 8:01
8.  Young And Foolish (Albert Hague/Arnold B. Horwitt) 4:58
9.  Never Let Me Go (Ray Evans/Jay Livingston) 4:53
10.  All Or Nothing At All (Arthur Altman/Jack Lawrence) 6:14
11.  So Wrong (J. Allen/Bill Anschell) 6:05
12.  Something To Live For (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) 4:23
13.  Bewitched (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 6:25

Nnena Freelon (Vocals)
Kenny Barron (Piano)
Lewis Nash (Drums)
Christian McBride (Double Bass)
Dave Tofani (Tenor Saxophone)
Jim Pugh (Trombone)

Fabrizio de André - Rimini

Rimini is Fabrizio De André's first record for Ricordi, and the first of the two co-written with Massimo Bubola. If in the preceding album, V.8, De André signaled a turn from the modes of European 18th century literature to surrealist poetry, here he changes another frame of reference, from Europe to the Americas. De André moved to the island of Sardinia in 1976, bought an estate, and became a farmer. The change in his lifestyle, as well as the fact that he finally started performing live (it seems this became necessary in order to finance his new home), affected his music in several ways. On one hand, he developed an interest in local dialects and realities that would dominate the later part of his career, as shown by the inclusion of a number in Sardinian, "Zirichiltaggia." On the other, he seemed to have equated, in an imaginary sense, his moving to the country with a mythical trip to the New World, most specifically the American West. For instance, the terrific "Coda di Lupo," one of De André's most political songs, surprisingly uses the Native American Sioux as a metaphor to talk about the weakening of opposition groups (in this case the Italian trade unions and parties of the left) by treason, corruption, or violence. Perhaps even more surprising are the American folk and country music influences of the song, very reminiscent of Johnny Cash's sardonic tales. In fact, the entire record often has a definite Tex-Mex flavor, thanks to the prominent use of fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, and ocarina, as well as male and female background vocals -- rarely employed by De André previously. The most obvious examples of these new leanings are the beautiful "Andrea," which sounds as if lifted straight from an Ennio Morricone Western score, and of course the excellent Italian version of Bob Dylan's "Romance in Durango." Reportedly, Dylan liked the cover so much that he sent De André a personal thank-you letter. Furthermore, touring must have helped to shape the sound of Rimini: it truly sounds like a record made by a band, rather than a songwriter's compositions orchestrated by an arranger, something that would become even more evident in the live renditions of these songs with Premiata Forneria Marconi. In this sense, Rimini is perhaps the closest De André would come to making a rock album, as most tracks feature drums, electric guitar, and bass. Having said that, it should also be emphasized that this record sounds like nothing but a Fabrizio De André album, as abundantly made clear by its two finest songs. The first is the title track, a trademark 6/8 arpeggio ballad that establishes a stunning parallel between a sad young girl from the beach town of Rimini and Christopher Columbus. These two characters look longingly at the sea and share a common thread of disappointment, betrayal, and loss: one, a summer love that ended up in abortion and malicious town gossip that effectively ruined her life; the other, an entire continent taken from him, its inhabitants left to be massacred, and its discoverer sent to prison. Finally, in "Sally," De André revisits the fairy tale settings of his early work, but now infused with surrealism, in a coming-of-age story of a wide-eyed boy who cannot help leaving his home for a world of mystery and temptation, only to realize that he will never come back -- and he fully accepts this as his own will. "Sally," of course, can be related to De André's renunciation of modern urban society, but also to his desire to search for new musical directions that would become even more apparent in his later work. An often magical album, Rimini is hampered by the inclusion of two pleasant if inessential instrumentals, a spoken piece that drags on and on, and the aforementioned experiment in dialect. Since the last three tracks are among the less successful, the album seems to run out of steam toward the end -- a pity, because from track one to seven this may very well be the finest collection of songs De André ever put together. - by Mariano Prunes, AMG

Artist: Fabrizio De André
Album: Rimini
Year: 1978
Label: BMG Ricordi (24bit Digitally Remastered)
Total time: 40:25

1.  Rimini 4:08
2.  Volta la carta 3:49
3.  Coda di lupo 5:24
4.  Andrea 5:31
5.  Tema di Rimini 1:52
6.  Avventura a Durango (Massimo Bubola/Fabrizio De André/Bob Dylan/Jacques Levy)  4:51
7.  Sally 4:49
8.  Zirichiltaggia 2:18
9.  Parlando del naufragio della London Valour 4:41
10.  Folaghe 2:57
All compositions by Fabrizio De André/Massimo Bubola, except 6th

Fabrizio De André (Acoustic Guitar aand Vocals)
Ricardo Pellegrino (Violin)
Marcio Zoccheddu (Electric Guitar)
Sergio Farina (Acoustic Guitar)
Gilberto Zilioli (Acoustic Guitar)
Gian Piero Reverberi (Keyboards)
Bruno Corvetto (Bass Guitar and Double Bass)
Tullio De Piscopo (Drums)
Vanda Radicchi (Backing Vocals)
Lella Esposito (Backing Vocals)
Vincenzo La Puma (Accordion)
Mario Battaini (Harmonica)
Giuliano Bernicchi (Trumpet)
Luigi Bernardi (Mandolin)
Attilio Casiero (Mandolin)
Virginio Bianchi (Ocarina and Fagott)
Mario Pomarico (Ocarina and Fagott)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blossom Dearie - My Gentleman Friend

The most expressive of jazz vocalists, Blossom Dearie's first three records for Verve -- all masterpieces -- displayed an artist with an uncommon ability to transfer a well-worn standard into a new song, usually informed by her light touch with piano and voice as well as her delightful coquette persona. My Gentleman Friend, her final full-length for the label, suffers only in comparison to her previous work; with fewer all-time standards available from her performing repertoire, Dearie was forced to resort to a few French titles and many middle-rank or then-current standards. It doesn't come as a surprise, then, that the song with the most compositional weight -- George and Ira Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" -- is the highlight. Dearie gracefully tiptoes through the classic, her reading rosy and meditative. Another Gershwin tune, "Little Jazz Bird," leads off the record with Dearie affecting her usual blend of warmth and insouciance. Aside from those two, the rest of the material is Blossom by numbers: simply average, forgettable songs given solid readings. The backing very nearly makes up for the lack of great compositions -- Dearie leads a quartet comprising her piano, Kenny Burrell on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums. - by John Bush, AMG

Artist: Blossom Dearie
Album: My Gentleman Friend
Year: 1959
Label: Verve (2006, 96 kHz, 24-bit digital transfer)
Total time: 33:25

1.  Little Jazz Bird (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 3:43
2.  Gentleman Friend (Arnold B. Horwitt/Richard Lewine) 3:49
3.  It's Too Good to Talk About Now (Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh) 3:09
4.  Chez Moi (Jean Féline/Paul Misraki/Bruce Sievier) 3:09
5.  You Fascinate Me So (Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh) 3:33
6.  You've Got Something I Want (Bob Haymes)  2:37
7.  Boum (Charles Trenet/E. Ray Goetz) 2:10
8.  L'Etang (Paul Misraki) 2:27
9.  Hello Love (Michael Barr/Dion McGregor) 2:51
10.  Someone To Watch Over Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 5:57

Blossom Dearie (Piano and Vocals)
Kenny Burrell (Guitar)
Ray Brown (Double Bass)
Ed Thigpen (Drums)
Bobby Jaspar (Flute) - 4,7,8
Omit Dearie (Piano) - 6

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gene Ammons - Goodbye

It is ironic that on tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons' final recording date, the last song he performed was the standard "Goodbye." That emotional rendition is the high point of this session, a septet date with cornetist Nat Adderley, altoist Gary Bartz, pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Sam Jones, drummer Louis Hayes, and Ray Barretto on congas. In contrast to the somewhat commercial studio albums he had recorded during the past couple of years, this set was much more freewheeling, for Ammons was clearly happy to perform the material (which included "It Don't Mean a Thing," "Alone Again (Naturally)," and "Jeannine") without any tight arrangements, in the spirit of his Prestige jam sessions of the 1950s. It's a fine ending to a colorful career. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Gene Ammons
Album: Goodbye
Year: 1974 (Prestige)
Label: OJC (24-bit remastered, 2002)
Total time: 37:34

1.  Sticks (Cannonball Adderley) 6:30
2.  Alone Again (Naturally) (Gilbert O'Sullivan) 5:59
3.  It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills) 5:41
4.  Jeannine (Duke Pearson) 7:15
5.  Geru's Blues (Gene Ammons) 7:36
6.  Goodbye (Gordon Jenkins) 4:32

Gene Ammons (Tenor Saxophone)
Nat Adderley (Cornet)
Gary Bartz (Alto Saxophone)
Kenny Drew (Piano)
Sam Jones (Double Bass)
Louis Hayes (Drums)
Ray Barretto (Conga)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Gene Ammons - Brother Jug!

A swinging soul-jazz set from just before the point where soul-jazz turned once and for all into fusion, 1970's Brother Jug is very much an album of its time. (Note Billy Butler's funky-cheesy wah-wah guitar underpinning "Jungle Strut.") That said, while the album doesn't have the classic timelessness of Gene Ammons' best '50s and early-'60s work, Brother Jug is one of Ammons' better albums released soon after the tenor saxophonist's release from a seven-year prison sentence. Ammons' playing on this album has an unaccustomed grit; even on ballads like "Didn't We," there's an R&B-style honk to Ammons' tone that suits the funky, electric arrangements well. Brother Jug is not an all-time classic -- the closing take on "Son of a Preacher Man," with Sonny Phillips' in-your-face wah-wah organ, is hampered by a too-sluggish rhythm section and some unimaginative, braying solos by Ammons -- but even the weakest tunes have a certain historical interest. - by Stewart Mason, AMG

Artist: Gene Ammons
Album: Brother Jug!
Year: 1969 (Prestige)
Label: OJC (2000, 20 bit remastered)
Total time: 33:45

1.  Son Of A Preacher Man (John Hurley/Ronnie Wilkins) 4:27
2.  Didn't We (Jimmy Webb) 6:05
3.  He's A Real Gone Guy (Nellie Lutcher) 5:05
4.  Jungle Strut (Gene Ammons) 5:12
5.  Blue Velvet (Lee Morris/Bernie Wayne) 4:06
6.  Ger-ru (Gene Ammons) 8:46

Gene Ammons (Tenor Saxophone)
Sonny Phillips (Organ)
Bob Bushnell (Fender Bass)
Bernard Purdie (Drums)
Billy Butler (Guitar) - 1,4
Junior Mance (Piano) - 6
Buster Williams (Double Bass) - 6
Frankie Jones (Drums) - 6
Candido Camero (Conga) - 6
Prince James (Tenor Saxophone) - 6

Roy Ayers - Vibesman

Roy Ayers, legendary practioner of the hottest, jazziest funk since the early 70's, has achieved God-like status with acid-jazz and rare groove audiences worlwide. His frequent sell-out visits to London's Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club are unmissable events, every evening an energetic, inspired, funked-up party. Re-live here the genius of this enigmatic vibesman where he does it best... live at Ronnie's. - from the CD booklet

Roy Ayers is in the foyer of his surrogate home, Ronnie Scott's (the Los Angeles vibraphone player, singer, band leader and jazz legend holds the record for selling out the venue), holding court and meeting and greeting his audience as they come through the door. He shakes you by the hand and wishes you a good new year - it seems like the most natural thing in the world. Ayers is commonly known as "vibes man", for his innate gift of radiating positive, feelgood vibes through his music. But in hip-hop circles, Ayers is the "icon man", thanks to the volume of his samples and breaks appropriated by the genre (P Diddy, The Roots and A Tribe Called Quest, among many others). It's not only hip-hop that owes Ayers a debt of gratitude - he fused jazz and disco in the 1970s and formed a fruitful relationship with the Black President, Fela Kuti, in the 1980s. Soul artists, including Betty Wright (Joss Stone's mentor and co-writer) and Erykah Badu particularly, have worked with Ayers extensively. His influence is also apparent in contemporary dance music - Ayers contributed two tracks to Masters at Work's 1997 Nuyorican Soul; arguably house's finest LP. The 64-year-old, wearing a charcoal-grey suit, black T-shirt and a thick gold link chain, exudes the energy of a man half his age. Ayers and his partner in crime, Ray Gaskins (singer, keys and saxophonist), are consummate, old-school showmen - the banter between the two is automatic. The line-up's completed by another keyboard player, two guitars (electric and bass) and a drummer. The formal introductions come after set opener "Searching", sung by Ayers holding four vibraphone batons (two red, two grey in each hand respectively). It sums up Ayers music - it's honest and life-affirming, yet inquisitive and penetrating. "We Live in Brooklyn, Baby", taken from Destination Motherland, captures and celebrates the ghetto struggle. Its, "We live in Brooklyn, baby", chorus is hilariously twisted to, "We shop in Tesco, baby", by Gaskins. Vocals take a back-seat as its rigid deep funk comes to the fore. It gets deeper as the electric guitarist, dubbed Thunderfoot, riffs and cranks up the feedback. Ayers' vibraphone provides the pyschotropic embellishment and the gig's crowning moment comes when Gaskins, astoundingly, plays the saxophone with one hand and keys with the other. Ayers deflects the audience's rapturous appreciation away from himself and towards the band by turning and gazing at each of them, with an expression of wide-eyed awe. It's straight into "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", featuring a magical vibraphone solo that illuminates the dark, basement jazz club, as Ayers leads the audience through the chorus. Ayers was once asked how he would like to be remembered. "As someone who spread goodwill through his music and made people happy", he replied. Ayers has more than achieved this goal. - Paul Fraser, Independent,UK

Artist: Roy Ayers
Album: Vibesman (Live at Ronnie Scott's)
Year: 1990, 1991, 1993
Label: Music Club (1995)
Total time: 75:53

1.  Searchin' (Roy Ayers) 12:36
2.  Rapped Up In Your Love (Roy Ayers/Rex Rideout) 6:53
3.  Can't You See Me (Roy Ayers/Edwin Birdsong) 4:33
4.  Running Away (Roy Ayers/Edwin Birdsong) 6:30
5.  Lots Of Love (Roy Ayers/Luther Wilson/Tanya Woods) 6:50
6.  Mystic Voyage (Roy Ayers) 10:01
7.  Everybody Loves The Sunshine (Roy Ayers) 6:07
8.  Ivory Tower (Roy Ayers) 8:29
9.  Poo Poo La La (Roy Ayers) 13:50

Roy Ayers (Vibes and Vocals)
Zachary Breaux (Guitar & Vocals)
Vastine Pettis (Saxophone, Keyboard and Vocals) - 1,6
Rex Rideout (Bass, Synthesizer and Keyboards) - 1,3-6
Dwayne Perdue (Drums and Vocals) - 1,6
Donald Nicks (Bass) - 2-5,7-9
Dennis Davis (Drums) - 2-5,7-9
Ray Gaskins (Saxophones) - 2,7-9
Martin Adams (Keyboards) - 2,7-9

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Katrin Achinger - Icaré

Born in 1962 in a small town in Germany, started her musical career in 1978 as a bassplayer in a female punkband. Two years later she founded the Kastrierte Philosophen along with Matthias Arfmann. The Singer/Songwriterduo released about 13 albums and several 7"s in almost twenty years together with different musicians. They also played a part in the documentary movie "Tanger Nonstop" and recorded several radio plays. Since 1994 she also worked on a solo level as a composer and writer. The story of Icaré was told on the album and in the book of the same name, both released by Strange Ways Records. - from Katrin's website

Artist: Katrin Achinger & The Flight Crew
Album: Icaré
Year: 1993
Label: Strange Ways
Total time: 62:45

1. Cold Waters
2. Monkeys
3. Land Beyond Time
4. KillDaddy
5. Home
6. Sister Talks
7. Fear
8. Move on!
9. Welcome to the Earth
10. Icaré's Son
11. Dawn (Icaré's Dream)
12. River of Life
All compositions by Katrin Achinger

Katrin Achinger - Vocals
Rüdiger Klose - Drums
Julia Engel - Marimba
Sabine Worthmann - Double Bass
Lucia Wojdak - Cello
Tom Bennett - Viola and  Violin

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Elvin Jones - Familiar Ground

This is one of my favorite quartets. Elvin Jones with Pat la Barbera on tenor and soprano saxophone, Kenny Kirkland on piano and Reggie Workman on acoustic bass. This band sounds like John Coltrane quartet in the early 60's. Pat La Barbera wrote most of the pieces which are melodic, harmonically interesting. There's a John Coltrane composition (Harmonique) and one by Tadd Dameron. "Necessary Evil", the first track features the composer on tenor sax. It's a modal, medium-up piece and has short but telling solos by piano and bass. Liner notes : "Elvin then comes in for one of those stunning solos that follow the structure of the piece, and display that still astonishing independence of limbs which is a Jones trademark." All the album is like that: modal, blues, no wasted note, no real and strong improvisations (sometimes we wish there had been some). It's first class though, a sort of "Kind Of Blue" concept record. It's perfect for regular listenings.The musicians play short but wow, what a thrill sometimes! - by R. Ralingue,

Artist: Elvin Jones
Album: Familiar Ground
Year: 1982
Label: West Wind (1997)
Total time: 41:44

1.  Necessary Evil (Pat La Barbera) 4:12
2.  October's Child (Pat La Barbera) 5:20
3.  Harmonique (John Coltrane) 4:54
4.  Whatever Possessed Me (Tadd Dameron) 6:12
5.  Familiar Ground (Pat La Barbera) 4:27
6.  Why Try to Change Me Now? (Cy Coleman) 6:00
7.  Minor Blues (Pat La Barbera) 6:21
8.  Brother John (Pat La Barbera) 4:18

Elvin Jones (Drums)
Pat La Barbera (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone)
Kenny Kirkland (Piano)
Reggie Workman (Double Bass)


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