Thursday, December 29, 2011

James Asher - Tigers of the Raj

The ten pieces in Tigers of the Raj trace a journey to Rajasthan, the land of princely dynastic rulers, elegance, and stark beauty. Rhythmic elements, also used in Feet in the Soil, underpin the wider range of themes that characterizes the album. The power, splendor, color, and epic sense of adventure found in the ancient palaces of Rajasthan made a profound impact on the author who here attempts to orchestrate moods and feelings evoked by his journey, weaving together modern techniques with ancient sounds in a musical score fit for a maharajah. State-of-the-art hard disk recording techniques are tastefully and expertly combined with magnificent musical productions by Indian artists. The santoor play of Kiran Pal Singh (who is one of only five disciples of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma) is enhanced by the infectious conga playing of Miles Bould (who has frequently toured with Sting). World renowned frame-drum player Glen Velez here joins guitarist Volker Grun, who flew especially from Germany to contribute more of the unique swing that previously enriched Feet in the Soil. Twenty musicians in total join here to co- create this impressive tribute to Indian culture and art and evoke in music the experiences of a traveler journeying through the "Land of Kings." The album is further uplifted by acoustic percussions, sitar, santoor, sarangi, flute, and the voices of several Indian singers used to create a magical musical atmosphere. Like in Feet in the Soil, James Asher uses drums as the base of his musical composition Tigers of the Raj. Rajasthani drumming rhythms were created in consultation with Sandeep Raval, a remarkable table player and expert of Indian folk music. Contemporary Western dance sounds were added and also melody, contributed by Craig Pruess, both a keyboard player and an expert in sitar, tambura, and swarmandala instruments with twelve years of experience in the study of Indian music. The trance-like opening piece Temple Gates is characterized by a hot and driving tempo, enriched by the duj-djun's of Peter Lockett (who is the percussion player on the musical score of the James Bond feature Tomorrow Never Dies) and the dhols of Johnny Kalai (whose Dhol Foundation was the opening act in the concert given by the BBC in honor of India's soth anniversary of independence featuring Ravi Shankar.) A haunting and ethereal female voice opens the temple gates of this mesmerizing piece, leading the listener into the heart of the composition and beguiling one to join the dance. Who is She? Is She a Rajasthani Temple Priestess? Her enchantment is an invitation to enter the hypnotic sway of the dance that climaxes with the sounds of guitar and sarangi. James Asher's album is a welcome surprise; it honors the richness of Indian classical music and weaves it with variations on Western rhythms. Enhanced by the quality of its excellent production, Tigers of the Raj stands out as an original album of world music with broad appeal. From the haunting themes of Red Desert to the majestic finale of the last track, its melody, groove, and atmosphere make it an all-absorbing experience. Never has Indian fusion sounded this good before! - by TJE NAPRA June 2000. (New Earth Records website)

Artist: James Asher
Album: Tigers of the Raj
Year: 1998
Label: New Earth
Runtime: 70:24

1.  Temple Gates (Radio Edit) 4:33 
2.  Trans-India 5:44 
3.  Prayer Wheel (Ragu Patti) 6:28 
4.  Red Desert 5:40 
5.  Assam 4:54 
6.  Further East 5:25 
7.  Nataraj Express 5:39 
8.  Liquid Sky 5:35 
9.  Duskfire 7:03 
10.  The Astrologer's Seat 11:04 
11.  Temple Gates (Extended Mix) 8:13 
All compositions by j. Asher, except Red Desert and Nataraj Express co-composed by J. Asher and Craig Pruess

James Asher (Keyboards, Percussion and Soundscape)
Sandeep Raval (Tabla, Dholak, Tassa and Djembe)
Johnny Kalsi (Dhol)
Sumeet Chopra (Tabla, Douffli, Tassa and Keyboards)
Kiran Pal Singh (Santoor)
Kiran Thakrar (Keyboards)
Glen Velez (Frame Drums, Reik and Percussions)
Billy Wilmington (Drums, Darabouka and Ankle-Bells)
Tom Eldridge (Djembe)
Mohan Parmar (Manjira)
Surinder Kamath (Flute)
Volker Grün (Guitar)
Craig Pruess (Sitar, Swaramandala, Tambura and Keyboards)
Surjit Singh (Sarangi)
Peter Lockett (Djun-Djuns, Chapa, Kanjira and Cymbals)
Miles Bould (Congas and Timbales)
Chhaya Vachharajani (Vocals) - 6,7,9
Al Gromer Khan (Sitar) - 10
Swati Natekar (Vocals) - 3
Pandit Vishwa Prakash (Vocals) - 8
Dinesh K. Mahavir (Vocals) - 4

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Patricia Barber - A Distorsion of Love

Pianist and singer Patricia Barber's second album (and major-label debut) is a consistently interesting, but not always completely rewarding, array of original instrumentals, vocal standards, and surprise cover versions. The arrangement of "Summertime" that opens the program is eerie almost to the point of creepiness, and all the more effective for it: after a long instrumental prelude, Barber sings the lyrics over the most minimal bass-and-piano unison pedal point, her voice goosed with reverb and wailing softly like a ghost. "Subway Station #5," the original composition that follows, is nervous, jumpy, barely tonal, and moves niftily from a contrapuntal and polyrhythmic introduction into a straight swing section. The problem is that it lasts almost ten minutes, and by the seventh or eighth minute, its ideas seem pretty well played out. "Or Not to Be" and "Yet Another in a Long Series of Yellow Cars" suffer from similar treatment. But her singing on "You Stepped Out of a Dream" and, especially, her sweet and touching rendition of the soul classic "My Girl" are quietly spectacular. There's every reason to expect great things of her in the future. - by Rick Anderson, AMG

Artist: Patricia Barber
Album: A Distorsion of Love
Year: 1991
Label: Antilles (1992)
Runtime: 59:07

1.  Summertime (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin/Dubose Heyward) 6:14
2.  Subway Station (Patricia Barber) 9:31
3.  You Stepped out of a Dream (Gus Kahn/Nacio Herb Brown) 7:36
4.  Parts Parallels (Patricia Barber) 5:06
5.  Or not to Be (Patricia Barber) 7:04
6.  Yellow Car (Patricia Barber) 5:50
7.  Yet Another in a Long Series (Patricia Barber) 4:28
8.  I Never Went Away (Richard Rodney Bennett) 4:37
9.  My Girl (Smokey Robinson/Ronald White) 3:44
10.  By Myself (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz) 4:53

Patricia Barber (Piano, Vocals)
Wolfgang Muthspiel (Guitar)
Marc Johnson (Bass Guitar)
Adam Nussbaum (Drums, Shakers)
Carla White (Finger snaps)
Big Kahuna (Finger snaps)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Various Artists - Into the Christmas

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Into the Christmas  I-II
Year: 2011
Label: ITR (Into the Rhythm Blog - for You)
Runtime: 103.32

01 - Lester Bowie - Almost Christmas
02 - Odetta - Rise Up Sheperd And Follow
03 - Ella Fitzgerald - Good Morning Blues
04 - Jimmy Smith - Jingle Bells
05 - Wynton Marsalis - Sleigh Ride
06 - Bela Fleck - J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio - BVW 248 # 41 Ich will nur zu Ehren leben
07 - Silje Nergaard - Is Christmas Only a Tree
08 - The Classical Jazz Quartet - Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring
09 - Fione Apple - Frosty The Snowman
10 - Priscilla Ahn - Silent Night
11 - Tony Bennett - White Christmas
12 - Grover Washington Jr. - Christmas Day Chant
13 - Holly Cole - If We Make It Through December
14 - Judy Holliday & Gerry Mulligan - It Must Be Christmas
15 - Oscar Peterson - Away in a Manger
16 - Ray Brown Trio - Rudolph The Red - Nosed Reindeer
17 - Betty Bennett -  Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
18 - Diana Krall - Let It Snow
19 - Pink Martini - Auld Lang Syne
20 - Ottmar Liebert - We 3 Kings (of Orient R)  Santa Fe X'mas
21 - Simon Shaheen - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
22 - Glen Velez & Mike Richmond - The Little Drummer Boy
23 - Tarun Bhattacharya - O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
24 - Ustad Amjad Ali Khan- Silent Night
25 - Folk Scat - Silent Night

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hariprasad Chaurasia & Zakir Hussain - Venu

The performance captured on this recording represents an early meeting of Hariprasad-ji with the great percussionist Zakir Hussain. This historic 1974 concert at the Stone House in Fairfax, California is marked by a youthful vigour that cannot fail to inspire the listener. In an enthusiastic exchange of rhythmic complexities these two artists reveal the mastery of improvisatory technique that is a hallmark of Indian music. Venu was recorded live at a 1974 concert in a large granite room, literally a stone house. It was re-mixed July 30-31, 1989 at Studio X in Petaluma, CA. - from the CD booklet

What Zakir Hussain and Hari Prasad Chaurasia have recorded here is nothing short of sublime. For those unfamiliar to music of this kind, this recording is an excellent introduction. Brilliant virtuosity and outstanding musicianship are enhanced by an unique acoustical setting and tasteful recording methods to render this one of the best recordings under the Rykodisc label. The warmth of tone and expressful phrasing of Hari Prasad are only accompianied by the droning tambura on the first half and later joined by the mastery of Zakir Hussain on the tabla in the second half. The energetic nature of this music surprisingly brings one to stillness...a stillness that is well suited for pre- or post-meditation listening. Listen and you'll see. OM Shanthi, Peace. - by a customer,

Artist: Hariprasad Chaurasia & Zakir Hussain
Album: Venu
Year: 1974 (live)
Label: Rykodisc (1989)
Runtime: 66:00

1.  Rag Ahir Bhairav - alop and jor 29:50 
2.  Rag Ahir Bhairav - slow gat in rupak tal, fast gat in teental 36:10 

Hariprasad Chaurasia (Bansuri=Bamboo flute)
Zakir Hussain (Tabla)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jimmy Smith - Home Cookin'

The Hammond organ mastery of Jimmy Smith is arguably nowhere as profound as on this collection. Support is provided by the formidable trio of Donald Bailey (drums), Kenny Burrell (guitar) and Percy France (tenor sax). On Home Cookin' (1959), they couple a few understated cool R&B classics with their own originals. The almost dirge-like cadence of "See See Rider" is given a bluesy and low-key workout, featuring tasty interaction between Smith and Burrell. The languid pace churns steadily as they trade off impressive solos with almost palpable empathy. Burrell's "Sugar Hill" swings with a refined post-bop attack. His call-and-response with Smith conjures the pair's trademark give and take, which is assuredly one of the reasons the two maintained a five-plus-decade association. Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" is nothing short of definitive as the upbeat rhythm immediately propels Smith and Burrell into an otherwise unassuming and practically infectious bounce. Also duly noted is the sturdy backing of Bailey, whose discerning and compact snare is impeccably suited to the arrangement. Sadly, the track fades just as the band begin to really get loose. "Messin' Around" and "Gracie" bring France on board, adding a subtle reedy texture to Smith's intricate and advanced melodies. "Come on Baby" is another Burrell composition that slinks with a soulful mid-tempo groove, allowing for some inspired soloing. Although the CD reissue contains five additional cuts, a vivacious reworking of Jimmy McGriff's "Motorin' Along" was the final side on the LP. The title perfectly captures the travelogue nature, proving that getting there is indeed half the fun. Luckily, among the supplementary selections is an alternate take of "Motorin' Along," two readings of the pop standard "Since I Fell for You" and an impressive cover of Jack McDuff's "Groanin'." Jimmy Smith's voluminous catalog is remarkably solid throughout and Home Cookin' is a recommended starting place for burgeoning enthusiasts as well as a substantial entry for the initiated. - by Lindsay Planer, AMG

Artist: Jimmy Smith
Album: Home Cookin'
Year: 1959
Label: Blue Note
Runtime: 70:40

1.  See See Rider (Ma Rainey) 6:38
2.  Sugar Hill (Kenny Burrell) 5:21
3.  I Got A Woman (Ray Charles) 3:58
4.  Messin' Around (Jimmy Smith) 5:57
5.  Gracie (Jimmy Smith) 5:57
6.  Come On Baby (Kenny Burrell) 6:52
7.  Motorin' Along (Jimmy McGriff) 5:12
8.  Since I Fell For You (Buddy Johnson) 4:21
9.  Apostrophe (Percy France) 6:37
10.  Groanin' (Jimmy Smith) 8:12
11.  Motorin' Along (Alt Tk) 5:05
12.  Since I Fell For You (Alt Tk) 6:25

Jimmy Smith (Organ)
Kenny Burrell (Guitar)
Donald Bailey (Drums)
Percy France (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,4-6,9

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán - Mambo Sinuendo

Mambo Sinuendo is a collaboration between Ry Cooder and Buena Vista alum (and formerly of many other groups as well) Manuel Galbán. The album attempts to catch an old style popularized in Cuba by Galbán, and was, surprisingly, never followed up on by anybody after Galbán. It's a guitar-based romp closely based in the pop/jazz crossovers of the 1950s-1960s (Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, etc). There's a touch of exoticism here and there, and a larger touch of a relatively Hawaiian feel throughout the whole via the guitar techniques employed by the pair. It's all somewhere in a form between lounge, mambo, and Esquivel's old space-age-bachelor-pad music. In rare instances, there's even a little bit of a house drum loop added in by the percussionists. Aside from the stray spacey chorus in the title track, it's an entirely instrumental affair, which suits the musicians quite well, giving them a chance to show off their full virtuosity along the way. The musicality these guitarists hold, and the interplay between them, is really the treat of the album. For a nice look at the musical genre that never was, but probably should have been, this makes a good show. Newcomers to Cooder should perhaps dig into some older releases to get a feel before coming to this album, but all others should embrace it quickly. - by Adam Greenberg, AMG

Artist: Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán
Album: Mambo Sinuendo
Year: 2003
Label: Nonesuch
Runtime: 50:29

1.  Drume Negrita (Ernesto Grenet) 5:00
2.  Monte Adentro (Arsenio Rodriguez) 2:53
3.  Los Twangueros (Manuel Galbán/Ry Cooder) 4:42
4.  Patricia (Perez Prado) 3:29
5.  Caballo Viejo (Simon Diaz) 3:51
6.  Mambo Sinuendo (Manuel Galbán/Ry Cooder) 2:31
7.  Bodas De Oro (Electo Rosell) 4:40
8.  Échale Salsita (Ignacio Pineiro) 4:27 
9.  La Luna En Tu Mirada (Luis Chanivecky) 4:13
10.  Secret Love (Sammy Fain/Paul-Francis Webster) 5:49
11.  Bolero Sonámbulo (Manuel Galbán/Ry Cooder) 4:31
12.  María La Lo (Ernesto Lecuona) 4:18

Manuel Galbán (Guitar)
Ry Cooder (Guitar, Steel Guitar, Trés, Vibes, Electric Piano, Organ, El. Bass)
Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez (Double Bass)
Jim Keltner (Drums) - 1-5,7,8,11
Joachim Cooder (Drums) - 1,4-9,12
Miguel "Angá" Diaz (Congas) - 1-5,7-9,12
Juliette Commagere (Coro) - 2,6
Carla Commagere (Coro) - 2,6
Helb Alpert (Trumpet) - 6
Gregorio Hernandez (Bata Drums) - 3
Maximino Duquesne Martinez (Bata Drums) - 3
Marcos H. Scull (Bata Drums) - 3
Yosvani Diaz (Bata Drums) - 3

Friday, December 16, 2011

Quincy Jones - Gula Matari

With his second and last album under the Creed Taylor aegis, the complexities of Quincy Jones' catholic, evolving tastes start to reveal themselves. We hear signs of his gradual gravitation toward pop right off the bat with the churchy R&B cover of Paul Simon's mega-hit "Bridge Over Troubled Water," dominated by Valerie Simpson's florid soul vocal and a gospel choir. His roots fixation surfaces in the spell-like African groove of the title track, a dramatic tone poem that ebbs and flows masterfully over its 13-minute length. From this point on, it's all jazz; the roaring big band comes back with a vengeance in "Walkin'," where Milt Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Hubert Laws, and other jazzers take fine solo turns, and things really get rocking on Nat Adderley's "Hummin'." Major Holley is a riot with his grumble-scat routine on bass. The whole record sounds like they must have had a ball recording it. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Quincy Jones
Album: Gula Matari
Year: 1970
Label: A & M Records
Total time: 34:21

1.  Bridge Over Troubled Water (Paul Simon) 5:09
2.  Gula Matari (Quincy Jones) 13:02
3.  Walkin' (Richard Carpenter) 8:02
4.  Hummin' (Nat Adderley) 8:07

Quincy Jones (Arranged and Conducted)
Pepper Adams (Baritone Saxophone)
Danny Bank (Bass and Baritone Saxophone)
Hubert Laws (Flute)
Jerome Richardson (Soprano Saxophone)
Freddie Hubbard (Trumpet)
Danny Moore (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Ernie Royal (Trumpet)
Marvin Stamm (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Gene Young (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Wayne Andre (Trombone)
Al Grey (Trombone)
Benny Powell (Trombone)
Tony Studd (Trombone)
Eric Gale (Guitar)
Toots Thielemans (Guitar and Whistle)
Herbie Hancock (Piano)
Bob James (Piano)
Bobby Scott (Piano)
Grady Tate (Drums)
Don Elliott (Bass Marimba) - 2
Jimmy Johnson (Percussion)
Warren Smith (Percussion)
Ray Brown (Double Bass) - 1,3,4
Ron Carter (Double Bass) - 2
Richard Davis (Double Bass) - 2
Major Holley (Double Bass and Voice)
Milt Jackson (Vibraphone)
Seymour Barab (Cello)
Kermit Moore (Cello)
Lucien Schmit (Cello)
Alan Shulman (Cello)
Valerie Simpson (Vocals)
Marilyn Jackson (Vocals)
Maretha Stewart (Vocals)
Barbara Massey (Vocals)
Hilda Harris (Vocals)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sonny Rollins - S. Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders

The last of the classic Sonny Rollins albums prior to his unexpected three-year retirement features the great tenor with pianist Hampton Hawes, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Leroy Vinnegar, and drummer Shelly Manne (all bandleaders for Contemporary Records during this era) on an unusual but inspired list of standards. Rollins creates explorative and often witty improvisations on such songs as "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody," "You," "In the Chapel in the Moonlight," and roaring versions of "I've Found a New Baby" and "The Song Is You." Great music. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

This is superb last studio session before Rollins almost 3 years gap. And it's from his artistic peak. He plays with great feeling sometimes very quick (The Song Is You) and sometimes economical (How High The Moon, I've found a new baby - with interesting one tone passage in mid part) but always perfect. But whole band plays great. Perfect production too . Like band's playing in my living room. I love similar productions, it's the best in jazz. - Frantisek Slaninka,

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders
Year: 1958
Label: OJC (1988)
Runtime: 54:57

1.  I've Told Ev'ry Little Star (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein) 5:26
2.  Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixy Melody (Sam M. Lewis/Jean Schwartz/Joe Young) 4:54
3.  How High the Moon (Nancy Hamilton/Morgan Lewis) 7:44
4.  You (Harold Adamson/Walter Donaldson) 4:15
5.  I've Found a New Baby (Jack Palmer/Spencer Williams) 3:38
6.  I've Found a New Baby (alternate take) 4:24
7.  Alone Together (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz) 6:00
8.  In the Chapel in the Moonlight (Billy Hill) 6:41
9.  The Song Is You (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein) 5:44
10.  The Song Is You (alternate take) 6:11

Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Hampton Hawes (Piano)
Barney Kessel (Guitar)
Leroy Vinnegar (Double Bass)
Shelly Manne (Drums)
Victor Feldman (Vibraharp) - 4

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jimmy Scott - Over the Rainbow

There have been few 75-year-old vocalists working in any popular music style that sounded as good as Scott did on this session from late 2000, aided by contributions from top players like Joe Beck (guitar) and Grady Tate (drums). Scott loves those sentimental songs, and this set is full of standards in that vein, from the title track and "Pennies From Heaven" to "P.S. I Love You" (the Jenkins-Mercer composition, not the Beatles song) and "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)." For the most part the arrangements are appropriately small-scale, letting Scott's voice hog the foreground and squeeze plenty of nuances from his sad vibrato. "Over the Rainbow" itself suffers from an excessive wash of vibes, but fortunately that's not typical of most of the set, which just does toe the right side of gushing emotion. It is a refreshing change of pace, though, when a trace of somber darkness is introduced on the foreboding, doomy arrangement of "Strange Fruit," which benefits from a guest shot by David "Fathead" Newman on tenor sax. - by Richie Unterberger, AMG

Artist: "Little" Jimmy Scott
Album: Over the Rainbow
Year: 2000
Label: Milestone (2001)
Runtime: 56:29

1.  Pennies From Heaven (Johnny Burke/Arthur Johnston) 3:18
2.  Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg) 3:48
3.  All Or Nothing At All (Arthur Altman/Jack Lawrence) 5:44
4.  Strange Fruit (Lewis Allan) 3:56
5.  Don't Take Your Love From Me (Henry Nemo) 5:27
6.  Just Friends (John Klenner/Sam M. Lewis) 5:35
7.  P.S. I Love You (Gordon Jenkins/Johnny Mercer) 4:49
8.  Everybody's Somebody's Fool (Ace Adams/Reginald Adams/Lionel Hampton) 4:34
9.  If You Only Knew (Rose Marie McCoy/Mendelsohn/Singleton) 3:19
10.  I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) (Duke Ellington/Paul Francis Webster) 5:00
11.  I'll Close My Eyes (Buddy Kaye/Billy Reid) 5:04
12.  When Did You Leave Heaven? (Walter Bullock/Richard Whiting) 5:50

Jimmy Scott (Vocals)
Joe Beck (Guitar, Alto Guitar, Acoustic Guitar) - 1-5,7,8,11
George Mraz (Double Bass) - 1,3-5,7,9,11
Grady Tate (Drums) - 1,3-5,7,9,11
Michael Kanan (Piano) - 3,9,10,12
Larry Willis (Piano) - 1,4,6
Joe Locke (Vibes) - 2,5,8,11
Gregoire Maret (Harmonica) - 6,9,11
Bob Kindred (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,7
Justin Robinson (Alto Saxophone) - 3
David "Fathead" Newman (Tenor Saxophone) - 4

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Archie Shepp & Richard Davis - Body and Soul

This duet date from 1989 demonstrates the deep blues feeling and technical mastery Archie Shepp has on the tenor saxophone. Comprised of four standards -- "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," "Body and Soul," "Pannonica," and "'Round Midnight" -- this set is one of Shepp's most enjoyable ever. The reasons are myriad, but it is in large part due to the fluid, loping bass of Richard Davis. Recorded in a club in front of a live audience, Shepp digs deep into his own history of influential tenor players and comes out not wanting, but on par with them, from Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis to Sonny Rollins to John Coltrane. His playing here is big, meaty, and warm, full of subtle emotions as well as bleating cries. Davis' sense of time and melody is nearly incredible on the title track and on "'Round Midnight." The interplay Shepp shares with him is tasty, coming from fragmentary elements in Monk's changes; Shepp and Davis move around the lyric and cut to the heart of the tune's color and ambiguity. It's a haunting version and one that offers a completely different reading of the tune over 17 minutes. On "Pannonica," Shepp's blues feeling comes out of Ben Webster as well as Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and his soloing is full of warmth, humor, and a ragged sort of elegance. This -- like Shepp's date with Horace Parlan, Goin' Home -- is a major addition to the saxophonist's catalog. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Archie Shepp & Richard Davis
Album: Body and Soul
Year: 1989 (Recorded live at Club Cantare, Boston in October 1st, 1989)
Label: Enja (1991)
Total time: 54:18

1.  Things Ain't What They Used To Be (Mercer Ellington) 12:36
2.  Body And Soul (Johnny Green) 17:17
3.  Pannonica (Thelonious Monk) 7:21
4.  Round About Midnight (Thelonious Monk) 17:03

Archie Shepp (Tenor Saxophone)
Richard Davis (Double Bass)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kirk Whalum - In This Life

Of all of Kirk's CDs this is my favorite from beginning to end. This CD is the essence of soul-filled contemporary/popular jazz music without being overproduced or busy. The production values are supurb! Both the music and the lyrics speak to the essence of life in a way that truly give honor to life. The breadth of Kirk's sax is wonderfully matched with Mike Reid's vocals and Matt Rollings piano. The respective "duos" with Larrry Carlton and Dwight Sills could not have been played any better. A pristine collection of songs! - by M. McGhee,

I haven't been able to stop listening to this album for 2 weeks. I feel as though I have found someone's musical diary, revealing the innermost and profound confessions of the least-understood emotion in history -- love. The most surprising fact is that as I listen, and listen again and again, I felt as though when I finished the diary I looked, it was my name that was the one that was on it. Kirk Whalum has his finger on the very pulse of all our deepest thoughts and secrets and translates them into words and music that literally transcend definition in any other form but his soulful renditions. I have never experienced an album so vividly raw and emotional since I heard Eric Clapton's "Pilgrim". Whether drawn from his own experiences or those of others Kirk Whalum speaks to us all: men and women; husbands and wives; lovers and lost loves. We hear his rich, plaintive saxophone and wondrous vocals and somehow can't believe -- "how did he know? how could he understand what I felt?" From start to finish, "In This Life" is an instant classic for anyone who has ever loved and lost -- or loved and won -- or loved at all. I just ordered two more copies for people I care for who are experiencing transitional periods in their relationships -- just so they know there are words and notes and 60 minutes of musical enlightenment to ease their way -- over and over and over again. - by powermuffn,

Artist: Kirk Whalum
Album: In This Life
Year: 1995
Label: Sony/Columbia
Runtime: 59:30

1.  In This Life (Mike Reid/Allen Shamblin) 3:36
2.  'Til I Get It Right (Larry Henley/Red Lane) 4:58
3.  Drowning In The Sea Of Love (Kenneth Gamble/Leon Huff) 7:02
4.  Peaceful Hideaway (A. Smith/Kirk Whalum) 4:33
5.  I Wouldn't Be A Man (Rory Michael Bourke/Mike Reid) 5:05
6.  Living For The City (Stevie Wonder) 4:33
7.  My Father's Hope (R. Jackson) 4:27
8.  When The Night Rolls In (Sally Dworsky/Brenda Russell/Rick Wayland) 4:35
9.  I Turn To You (Mike Reid/Allen Shamblin) 5:27
10.  Reck'n So (Kirk Whalum) 3:58
11.  The Way I Need You Now (Barry Alfonso/Mike Reid) 4:56
12.  Reprise: Dans Cette Vie ( In This Life) (Mike Reid/Allen Shamblin) 6:15

Kirk Whalum (Tenor Saxophone)
Matt Rollings (Piano, Keyboards) - 1,2,8,9,11,12
Mike Reid (Vocals) - 1,5,9,11
Brent Mason (Guitar) - 2,6,8,9,12
David Hungate (Bass Guitar) - 2,8,9,12
Terry McMillan (Percussion) - 3,6,8,9,11
Owen Hale (Drums) - 3,5,8,9
Cedric Lee (Bass Guitar) - 4,7,10,11
Bob Bailey (Backing Vocals) - 3,5,11
Chris Willis (Backing Vocals) - 3,5,11
Duawne Starling (Backing Vocals) - 3,5,11
Louis Nunley (Backing Vocals) - 3,5,11
Larry Carlton (Guitar) - 4,7,10
Rick Jackson (Keyboards) - 4,7,10
Ricky Lawson (Drums) - 4,7,11
Brian Kilgore (Percussion) - 4,7,10
Dwight Sills (Guitar) - 7,10,11
Vaneese Thomas (Vocals) - 2,12
Teresa James (Vocals) - 3,8
Reggie Young (Guitar) - 3,5
Barry Beckett (Piano and Organ) - 3,5
Willie Weeks (Bass Guitar) - 3,5
Paul Franklin (Pedabro, Steel Guitar) - 6,7
Don Potter (Guitar) - 7,11
Mark Summer (Cello) - 1
Farrell Morris (Vibes) - 2
Sonny Landreth (Guitar) - 3
Mark O'Connor (Fiddle) - 6
Ndugu Chancler (Drums) - 10
Ralph Penland (Drums) - 12
Eddie Bayers (Drums) - 12

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kenny Garrett - African Exchange Student

Kenny Garrett's only problem is that you find his albums next to Kenny G's (sorry to mention his name in the same sentence w/Garrett, but it needed to be said). I saw Kenny in Miles' band a while back, but I didn't know who he was. I got turned on to "African Exchange Student" about 5 or 6 years ago. My only problem w/the title track was that it ended. It's almost hypnotic. Even though Kenny's an alto player, I find his music and this band to be a spiritual continuum of John Coltrane's great 60's quartet. It has that "certain something" that I'm continully searching for in the music I purchase, but rarely find. This album is up there with "A Love Supreme", Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland", the Allman Brothers "Live at the Fillmore East", Miles' "Kind of Blue", and Col. Bruce Hampton and Aquarium Rescue Unit's live debut album as being among my absolute all-time favorites. Even track 4, the "smooth"one is a great tune. This is a gem of a recording. - by Paul A. Kelly,

Altoist Kenny Garrett, who was then a key member of Miles Davis' group, had one of his strongest early sets as a leader on this Atlantic disc. "Ja-Hed" features his post-bop improvising over the chord changes of "Impressions," the is both lighthearted and adventurous on "Mack the Knife" and the title cut has Garrett expertly building up an emotional solo from intense long tones to sound explorations and late period 'Trane screams. Throughout the CD, Kenny Garrett's alto is the main attraction but the strong rhythm section (comprised of pianist Mulgrew Miller, either Charnett Moffett or Ron Carter on bass, Tony Reedus or Elvin Jones on drums and occasional percussionists) should not be overlooked. Whether it be the modal tribute piece "Shaw," the rarely played Coltrane song "Straight Street" or the minor blues "Nostradamus," Kenny Garrett justifies the praise that he received from Miles Davis. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Kenny Garrett
Album: African Exchange Student
Year: 1990
Label: Atlantic
Runtime: 66:47

1.  Ja - Hed (Kenny Garrett) 5:57
2.  Mack The Knife (Kurt Weill/Berthold Brecht) 8:40
3.  African Exchange Student (Kenny Garrett) 9:18
4.  Someday We'll All Be Free (Donny Hathaway/Edward Howard) 5:43
5.  One World Through (Kenny Garrett) 1:37
6.  Straight Street (John Coltrane) 4:57
7.  Shaw (Kenny Garrett) 6:40
8.  Lullaby Of Isfahan (Kenny Garrett) 6:10
9.  One Finger Snap (Herbie Hancock) 6:15
10.  Your Country-Ness (Kenny Garrett) 5:27
11.  Nostradamus (Kenny Garrett) 6:00

Kenny Garrett (Alto Saxophone, Flute, Vocals)
Mulgrew Miller (Piano) - 1-4,6-11
Charnett Moffett (Bass) - 1-4,6,8,9
Tony Reedus (Drums) - 1-4,6,9
Elvin Jones (Drums) - 5,7-9,11
Ron Carter (Double Bass) - 5,7,8,11
Rudy Bird (Percussion) - 3,4,8
Tito Ocasio (Percussion) - 3,4
Steve Thompson (Percussion) - 3,4

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Anouar Brahem - Barzakh

This starkly beautiful collection of 13 tracks by Tunisian composer Anouar Brahem is his debut release for the ECM label. The album spotlights Brahem's solo oud pieces, which range from the meditative ("Sadir") to the propulsive ("Ronda"). This solo work is nicely augmented by stellar contributions from violinist Bechir Selmi and percussionist Lassad Hosni; Selmi is featured on the transcendent "Barzakh," while Hosni figures prominently on "Souga" and "Bou Naouara." The three musicians come together for the joyous dance number "Parfum de Gitane." Throughout Barzakh, Brahem and the others forge an appealing mix of Middle Eastern sonorities and jazz phrasing, an intimate sound perfectly suited to the clean and spacious ECM recording style. This is a great title for fans of both international music and jazz. - by Stephen Cook, AMG

Artist: Anouar Brahem
Album: Barzakh
Year: 1990
Label: ECM (1991)
Runtime: 57:47

1.  Raf Raf (Anouar Brahem) 3:41
2.  Barzakh (Anouar Brahem/Bechir Selmi) 11:09
3.  Sadir (Anouar Brahem) 6:40
4.  Ronda (Anouar Brahem) 3:15
5.  Hou (Anouar Brahem) 1:41
6.  Sarandib (Anouar Brahem) 2:54
7.  Souga (Lassad Hosni) 2:14
8.  Parfum de Gitane (Anouar Brahem) 4:21
9.  Bou Naouara (Lassad Hosni) 2:27
10.  Kerkenah (Anouar Brahem) 7:37
11.  La Nuit Des Yeux (Anouar Brahem) 5:36
12.  Le Belvedere Assienge (Anouar Brahem) 4:21
13.  Qaf (Anouar Brahem) 1:45

Anouar Brahem (Oud)
Bechir Selmi (Violin)
Lassad Hosni (Percussion)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

TJ Rehmi - Mera Therapy

TJ Rehmi (aka Jav Rehmi) is one of UK’s most creative and innovative musicians.
A critically acclaimed but reclusive artist who has often shunned the limelight, Rehmi’s unique style of music has inspired and influenced countless musicians, DJs and discerning fans around the world.
As a guitarist, composer and producer, he has been a pioneering figure who, from the early 1990’s in the UK, experimented with Asian influenced sounds that were later to become part of the international ‘Asian Underground’ movement. His work includes recording and performing as a session guitarist, producing experimental solo albums, performing as a DJ, remixing, collaboration work, co-writing and studio production. During the early 80’s, Rehmi studied and played guitar with local funk, rock and reggae bands before joining Saxophonist Andy Hamilton’s Jazz band as a rhythm guitarist. A few thousand chops later and with guitar in hand, Rehmi explored the burgeoning bhangra scene as a session player and soon was in high demand. Session after session, Rehmi became interested in recording and started producing and arranging for some of UK’s top bhangra bands from the mid ‘80s to the early ‘90s. Touring with these bands also gave Rehmi the opportunity of visiting other countries such as America, Canada, Germany, Holland, Denmark, France and Dubai, providing an ever-growing musical fodder. During the early 90’s, Rehmi went back into education to study Education and Music at Birmingham City University/Birmingham Conservatoire where he had the opportunity to study composition and play guitar with Indo Jazz fusion composer John Mayer. After a short time in the teaching profession, Rehmi went back into music full time and became heavily involved in studio recording. He began to incorporate all of the sounds, rhythms, and styles he heard into his own music and found himself getting more and more into technology. Progressing from tape machines to computers, he eventually built his own studio, the Mood N Bass Lab.- from Rehmi's Facebook profile

Artist: TJ Rehmi
Album: Mera Therapy
Year: 1999
Label: Nation
Runtime: 64:26

1.  Mera Therapy 5:30 
2.  Stepping Stones 5:23 
3.  Dil Mai Durad 4:38 
4.  Levitate 5:05 
5.  Reflection : mishra dub 5 6:41 
6.  Zindagi 5:27 
7.  Interzaar 5:45 
8.  Fear is the Enemy 4:28 
9.  A Path with a heart 5:09 
10.  Nothing Spoken 4:47 
11.  Zindagi : the other version 6:00 
12.  Herbal Therapy 5:29 
All compositions by TJ Rehmi

TJ Rehmi (Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Sitarguitar, Keyboards, Mixing, Programming)
S Man X (Tabla, Dholki)
Pali S Neer (Percussion)
Ustaad Dilbahar (Vocals) - 3
Ashwani (Vocals) - 8
Sona Sam Pal (Shenai)
Hari C Deeh (Flute)
Mustafa A (Sarangi)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Baden Powell - Minha Historia

Baden Powell is a Brazilian musician with a solid international reputation. A gifted instrumentalist and composer, he bridges the gap between classical artistry and popular warmth and was a key figure in the bossa nova movement. - by Alvaro Neder, AMG

This is a compilation of 14 compositions recorded by Baden Powell between 1966 and 1971. All tracks, except "Berimbau," are entirely instrumental. Most of the songs are Powell's own compositions -- for example, the three brilliant compositions "Apelo," "Deixa," and "Canto de Ossanha." There is also a beautiful version of Luiz Bonfá's famous "Manhã de Carnval" and Sílivio Caldas' classic "Chão de Estrelas." Some tracks have percussion backings, while others are performed solely on guitar. A flute is added on the two tracks written by Pixinguinha: "Lamento" and "Carinhoso." - by Philip Jandovsky, AMG

Artist: Baden Powell
Album: Minha Historia 14
Year: 1994
Label: Verve
Runtime: 52:12

1.  Lamento (Pixiguinha/Vinicius Morales) 3:24
2.  Canto de Ossanha (Vinicius de Moraes/Baden Powell) 6:49
3.  Deixa (Vinicius de Moraes/Baden Powell) 3:52
4.  Carinhoso (Pixinguinha /João de Barro) 3:37
5.  Euridice (Vinicius de Moraes) 4:10
6.  Apelo (Vinicius de Moraes/Baden Powell) 4:11
7.  Chao de Estrelas (Silvio Caldas /Orestes Barbosa) 3:19
8.  Deve Ser Amor (Vinicius de Moraes/Baden Powell) 2:26
9.  Berimbau (Vinicius de Moraes/Baden Powell) 3:24
10.  Garota de Ipanema (Tom Jobim /Vinicius de Moraes) 3:01
11.  Tempo Feliz (Vinicius de Moraes/Baden Powell) 4:19
12.  O Astronauta (Vinicius de Moraes/Baden Powell) 2:25
13.  Manha de Carnaval (Luiz Bonfá /Antonio Maria) 2:59
14.  Samba Triste (Baden Powell /Billy Blanco) 4:09

Baden Powell - guitar
others unknown

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

John Coltrane - Ballads

Throughout John Coltrane's discography there are a handful of decisive and controversial albums that split his listening camp into factions. Generally, these occur in his later-period works such as Om and Ascension, which push into some pretty heady blowing. As a contrast, Ballads is often criticized as too easy and as too much of a compromise between Coltrane and Impulse! (the two had just entered into the first year of label representation). Seen as an answer to critics who found his work complicated with too many notes and too thin a concept, Ballads has even been accused of being a record that Coltrane didn't want to make. These conspiracy theories (and there are more) really just get in the way of enjoying a perfectly fine album of Coltrane doing what he always did -- exploring new avenues and modes in an inexhaustible search for personal and artistic enlightenment. With Ballads he looks into the warmer side of things, a path he would take with both Johnny Hartman (on John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman) and with Duke Ellington (on Duke Ellington and John Coltrane). Here he lays out for McCoy Tyner mostly, and the results positively shimmer at times. He's not aggressive, and he's not outwardly. Instead he's introspective and at times even predictable, but that is precisely Ballads' draw. - by Sam Samuelson, AMG

A musician's viruosity on his/her instrument of choice may be measured in many ways -- chiefly, I suppose, in the ability to make that instrument pour forth the notes that are in the musician's mind, slow or fast, loudly or softly, as the music being performed requires. Many musicians have been blessed with the ability to take this up a notch -- they miraculously transmit what they are feeling in their soul as they perform into the notes and phrases that the audience hears. John Coltrane was nothing short of a genius by the time he recorded these pieces -- joined by some of the finest musicians who ever played with him. Coltrane had learned the artistry of silence and restraint, coupling it with his sheer instrumental ability, bringing his music to a level rarely equalled before or since. This recording was begun in December of 1961 and finished in November 0f 1962 -- 40 years have passed, and it is still one of the premier jazz recordings ever made. The tunes on this recording are standards -- they were already classic examples of songwriting when Coltrane recorded them. His own compositions were without question groundbreaking, moving expressions of a man with deep feelings of spirituality and an unquenchable urge for exploration -- but when John Coltrane took these standards into his heart and played them out through his saxophone, they became his. This grouping was to become known as his quintisential quartet: McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums) [Reggie Workman is heard on bass on track 7 only]. These four men had a playing empathy that most others only dream of. Every recording they made together shows stunning, unbelievable interplay -- and such respect for each other. After 40 years of listening to music of all types and genres, I can't think of any group more suited to playing together. I've been listening to this recording a lot lately, having been reminded of its lasting greatness by Karrin Allyson's vocal tribute recording of the same tracks (a fine recording also -- check it out). I was discussing the two albums one day at Waterloo Records with a friend who has worked there for many years -- he remarked that 'this is the album I sell to people who tell me they don't like jazz'. Far from being any sort of put-down of Coltrane -- for I know how much my friend admires his work -- it speaks to the universality of his appeal, his ability to touch literally ANYONE with an ear with the genius he possessed. - by Larry Looney,

Artist: John Coltrane Quartet
Album: Ballads
Year: 1962
Label: Impulse! (1987)
Runtime: 32:16

1.  Say It (Over and Over Again) (Frank Loesser/Jimmy McHugh) 4:19
2.  You Don't Know What Love Is (Gene DePaul/Don Raye) 5:15
3.  Too Young to Get Steady (Harold Adamson/Jimmy McHugh) 4:23
4.  All or Nothing at All (Arthur Altman/Jack Lawrence) 3:38
5.  I Wish I Knew (Mack Gordon/Harry Warren) 4:54
6.  What's New (Johnny Burke/Bob Haggart) 3:47
7.  It's Easy to Remember (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 2:49
8.  Nancy (with the Laughing Face) (Phil Silvers/Jimmy Van Heusen) 3:11

John Coltrane (Tenor Saxophone)
McCoy Tyner (Piano)
Jimmy Garrison (Double Bass)
Elvin Jones (Drums)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Keith Jarrett Trio - Standards Live

Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio spread their wings during live performance in as astute and dignified a manner as any group since the similarly sized Bill Evans ensembles of three decades prior. Bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette easily match the Evans bandmates Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian in terms of their telepathy, rhythmic savvy, harmonic ideas and supportive idealism. They propel Jarrett's advanced viewpoint in making well-known American popular songs all his own. While the incessant vocal whining of the leader in accord with his playing is an issue, the way he sensitively interprets a familiar song is not. The trio warms slowly as Jarrett's introduces "Stella by Starlight" with delicate precision, also keeping a cool head on Alec Wilder's "The Wrong Blues" with tempo in check. "Falling in Love with Love" hits third gear running, as Jarrett's fleet, lithe and flowing lines dismiss reckless abandon, and settles into a groove. A slight Latin hue on "Too Young to Go Steady" from the adept DeJohnette turns this composition to pure gold, while Jarrett does not hesitate getting right to the melody of "The Way You Look Tonight" because he knows and loves it all too well. DeJohnette is not only completely supportive, but undeniably is reinventing the jazz swing rhythm through this whole concert. A nice choice for a closer, Nat Adderley's soulful and spiritual "The Old Country" is tactfully portrayed, and because it is included on a record of standards, can be happily declared as official jazz orthodoxy. The trio is fairly concise, even for concert guidelines (nothing over 11 minutes), so the indulgence factor is virtually non-existent, and listenability is very high even for those who are challenged. Such stellar collective musicianship and their teamwork deems this recording worthy of any most recommended list. - by Michael G. Nastos, AMG

Artisz: Keith Jarrett Trio
Album: Standars Live
Year: 1985
Label: ECM (1986)
Runtime: 54:30

1.  Stella By Starlight (Ned Washington/Victor Young)  11:16
2.  The Wrong Blues (Alec Wilder/William Engvick) 8:05
3.  Falling In Love With Love (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 8:46
4.  Too Young To Go Steady (Harold Adamson/Jimmy McHugh) 10:12
5.  The Way You Look Tonight (Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern) 9:33
6.  The Old Country (Curtis Lewis/Nat Adderley) 6:35

Keith Jarrett (Piano)
Gary Peacock (Double Bass)
Jack DeJohnette (Drums)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Takis Barberis - Naiva

'Naiva' is Takis Barberis' fourth personal album and charters him as one of the most earnest and aspiring new composers in Greece. This very album is an affirmation of Barberis' vested belief in the universality of sounds that are embedded in traditional and contemporary music. "the most profound of my desires", Barberis says, "is to turn into sounds and music all those personal and cultural experiences that have been following me. Yet as desires might get trapped to the names we give to categories of styles, music genres or the austerity of music idioms, what really counts is the truth that sounds contain, the space we open up for those sounds to exist, to freely move across boundaries and utter every single time something new and meaningful". Naiva is a made up word. It ascribes to a name of a girl, (Greek or Indian by the very same token). It is a play on the open meaning of Naive and Nativus that might mean simple or even artless innocent as well as unsophisticated ungraceful, perhaps, or unassuming for that matter. Barberis' affirmation also helps explain the difficulty to term the music of Naiva as jazz, ethnic fusion or all of the above. More than such a categorisation Naiva is a play on the clarity of sounds and the flowing of melodies. Already in his last album EPISODES (LYRA 0177) Barberis had demonstrated his unique ability to combine as diverse sounds as those of the renowned Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu, with those of the folk master of the clarinet Petros Lucas Halkias creating an entire landscape of music atmospheres and tints. In Naiva, Barberis further articulates such a music language with more eloquence and an even greater fluidity. In all such fluidity of meaning, the only constant point of departure is Takis wandering anew to the infinite universe of interwoven sounds of the world. The sounds and resonance of Naiva make up a universal music language free of any need forgeographical specificity. -from

Artist: Takis Barberis
Album: Naiva
Year: 1998
Label: Lyra
Runtime: 72:51

1.  Naiva 7:24 
2.  Ceremony 5:45 
3.  Papa's Radio 6:27 
4.  Unfolding the Map 5:19 
5.  Polytropon 5:37 
6.  Hopes 5:13 
7.  Indiom 5:26 
8.  In His Dreams 5:42 
9.  Marwa 4:44 
10.  Aura 7:04 
11.  Photopolis 4:55 
12.  Phantasmagoria 4:30 
13.  Peace, Please 4:37 
All compositions - by Takis Barberis

Takis Barberis (Guitars, Synthesizer and Percussion programming, )
Manos Saridakis (Piano and Keyboards) - 1,4,8,10
Yiorgos Georgiadis (Bass Guitar) - 1,3,4,6-11
George Polyhronakos (Drums, Shaker and Cymbals)
Girish Chandra Srivastava (Tabla) - 1,6
Takis Patrelis (Tenor Saxophone) - 2
George Kontrafouris (Piano) - 2,6
Petros Loucas Chalkias (Clarinet) - 3
Shankar Lal (Tabla) - 3,5,7,9,12
Reshma Srivastava Pizanis (Sitar) - 5,7,9
Asha Srivastava (Tanpura) - 5
Takis Farazis (Accordion) - 8,13

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Knud Jörgensen - Jazz Trio

Knud Jorgensen, one of Sweden's best swing pianists, here together with Sture Aringkerberg - bass and Johan Dielemans - drums. Knud offers his own, personal and dynamic interpretations of numerous classics of swing: Satin Doll, Too Late Now, You Look Good To Me, Teach Me Tonight, My Heart Stood Still, etc. ""The fact is, the piano playing is so abundantly varied that the recording is quite one that you won't be able to turn off. Elegantly weightless loops of melody mingle with raunchy harmonies in a high-voltage crackling"" - Musik & Ljudteknik

Knud Jørgensen was born in Copenhagen in 1928 and died in 1992 in Stockholm. He decided to stay in Sweden while on tour with a Danish band in the mid-fifties, and remained for the rest of his life. For many years he was one of the most personal, versatile and talented jazz pianists in Sweden, both as a rhythmic prompter and as an explorer of the secrets and possibilities of the chords. He had a special feeling for Duke Ellington, as well as a special sensitivity and ability to capture the essence of Ellington harmonies, sound and rhythmic accent. Knud played with a remarkable skill in holding the threads of the music together with his piano. If anything could be added to a part he just put it in, unerringly, at the right moment and with the right phrase, sound and beat. This was true whether he accompanied guest soloists such as Toots Thielemans, Ben Webster, Harry "Sweets" Edison and others, or recorded with Svend Asmussen, Arne Domnérus, Bosse Broberg, Nisse Sandström and Lars Erstrand. More often, however, one could hear him with his own small groups and from the late seventies usually in a duo with his musical spiritual brother, the bass player Bengt Hanson. - from 

Artist: Knud Jörgensen Trio
Album: Knud Jörgensen Jazz Trio
Year: 1984
Label: Opus 3 (1995)
Runtime: 39:49

1.  Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) 7:11
2.  Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise (Sigmund Romberg)  4:05
3.  Too Late Now (Burton Lane/Alan Jay Lerner) 6:08
4.  You Look Good to Me (Seymour Lefco/Wells Jr.) 6:05
5.  It Might As Well Be Spring (Richard Rodgers) 7:08
6.  My Hearts Stood Still (Richard Rodgers) 5:14
7.  Teach Me Tonight (Gene DePaul) 3:58

Knud Jörgensen (Piano)
Johan Dielemans (Drums)
Sture Akerberg (Double Bass)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Steve Tibbetts - The Fall of Us All

One of Tibbett's hardest-edged releases, this album is more charged and somewhat darker than his previous releases. As with most of his work, the focus is on multi-tracked electric and acoustic guitar, with lots of varied percussion (those familiar with Tibbett's work may think him more a frustrated percussionist than a guitarist). Yet, though this builds upon previous albums, The Fall of Us All requires more of the listener and is very much a full body of work rather than a collection of songs. Travel to Nepal is a marked influence on the textures of the tracks, and would point the way to Tibbett's future projects with musicians from other lands. - by Rob Caldwell, AMG

Steve Tibbetts is a difficult artist to categorize. While the German-based ECM was (at one time) the home of jazz guitarists Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner, Tibbetts' music seems more a product of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa than Jim Hall or Wes Montgomery. Throw into the mix the wordless vocals on some tracks and the use of tabla and synthesizer, and Tibbetts and the other musicians on this CD produce some powerful music--not to mention amazing guitar pyrotechnics from Tibbetts himself. Also worth seeking out are his self-titled debut and the follow-up "YR" on the Frammis label. I have these both on vinyl--I'm not aware that they were ever released on CD--and the guitar playing is nothing short of stunning. "The Fall of Us All" was Tibbetts final release on ECM before signing with Hannibal/Rykodisk. While his earlier ECM releases are good, they don't have the edge this does. On these eleven instrumentals, Tibbetts performs on both acoustic and electric guitars with an amazing technique that will leave you mesmerized. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - by Steve Vrana,

Artist: Steve Tibbetts
Album: The Fall of Us All
Year: 1994
Label: ECM
Runtime: 69:51

1.  Dzogchen Punks (Steve Tibbetts) 7:49
2.  Full Moon Dogs (Steve Tibbetts) 9:13
3.  Nyemma (Steve Tibbetts) 4:50
4.  Formless (Steve Tibbetts) 2:43
5.  Roam and Spy (Steve Tibbetts/Mike Olson) 4:15
6.  Hellbound Train (Steve Tibbetts) 7:16
7.  All for Nothing (Steve Tibbetts) 7:15
8.  Fade Away (Steve Tibbetts) 6:41
9.  Drinking Lesson (Steve Tibbetts) 3:44
10.  Burnt Offering (Steve Tibbetts/Marc Anderson) 7:27
11.  Travel Alone (Steve Tibbetts) 8:33

Steve Tibbetts (Guitar, Percussion, Discs)
Marc Anderson (Congas, Steel Drums, Percussion)
Marcus Wise (Tabla)
Jim Anton (Bass)
Eric Anderson (Bass)
Claudia Schmidt (Voice)
Rhea Valentine (Voice)
Mike Olson (Synthesizer)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Grencso Collective - Seven Songs to the Last Mohicans

Istvan Grencso (soprano and alto saxophone, flute and other wind instruments) was born in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, in 1956. After his early Masina Jazz Group (1979) he played in Budapest with various formations of Mihaly Dresch and Gyorgy Szabados. In 1985 he formed Grencso Kollektiva, which is still his main activity, based on a regular rotation of musicians. His music is always strongly attached to the culture and traditions of Eastern-Middle-Europe, from these inspirations he developed his own style. In Hungary he is generally considered one of the strongest personalities of the "local school", that stream of Hungarian jazz and improvised music, which instead of imitating the Western mainstream, is dedicated to the creation of local values.- from

Artist: Grencsó Kollektíva
Album: Seven Songs to the Last Mohicans
Year: 2000
Label: Bahia
Total time: 46:02

1.  First Song, Part One 3:20 
2.  First Song, Part Two 3:29 
3.  Second Song, Part One 3:18 
4.  Second Song, Part Two 3:54 
5.  Third Song 7:43 
6.  Fourth Song 5:50 
7.  Fifth Song 3:46 
8.  Sixth Song, Part One 4:13 
9.  Sixth Song, Part Two 5:16 
10.  Seventh Song, Part One 2:28 
11.  Seventh Song, Part Two 2:36 
All compositions - by Istvan Grencso and Collective

Istvan Grencso (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone, Accordion, Whistle)
Robert Benko (Double Bass, Violoncello)
Gyorgy Jeszenszky (Drums)
Gabi Kenderesi (Vocals)
Csaba Hajnóczy (Guitar)
Csaba Gyulai (Vocals)
Andras Koncz (Vocals)
Zoltan Mizsei (Vocals)
DJ Mango (Loops)
DJ Shuriken (Loops)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sergio Mendes - The Great Arrival - The Beat of Brazil

The hype-laden title undoubtedly refers to Sergio Mendes' move to America two years before this album's release, settling in Los Angeles, where this record was made. Clearly he was out to make it big in the U.S.A., for this album tries to move a bit away from Brazil by spotlighting Mendes' jazz and pop piano against the elaborate charts of Clare Fischer, Bob Florence and Dick Hazard. There are contributions from the best-known Brazilians (Edu Lobo, Jobim of course) as well as up-to-the-minute pop tunes "Monday, Monday" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and American songbook material like "Here's That Rainy Day" and "Girl Talk," all served up in airplay-sized packages mostly under three minutes in length. Inevitably, then, Mendes' piano doesn't get much room to breathe, but the charts are quite interesting; Florence's are the most big-band-oriented, Fischer's are the most harmonically challenging, and Hazard's lush offerings are the signposts of Mendes' future with Brasil '66. Though an encouraging step forward, Mendes' first big strike was still several months away. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Early bossa jazz from Sergio Mendes – recorded with his famous Bossa Rio combo, in the years before he moved to America! The album's a classic in Brazilian jazz – a tight album of bossa-inflected jazz tunes played with razor-sharp precision, handled with a style that went on to influence countless other Brazilian groups at the time. Mendes is in the lead on piano, and other players include Edison Machado on drums, Raul De Souza on trombone, and Hector Costita on tenor sax. The whole thing's great – a masterpiece of both jazz and bossa – and it's filled with classic tunes arranged by Jobim, Moacir Santos, and Sergio himself. Titles include "Nana", "Primitivo", "Desafinado", "Ela E Carioca", "Amor Em Paz", "Noa Noa", and "Neurotico". - from

Artist: Sergio Mendes
Album: The Great Arrival - The Beat of Brazil
Year: 1966-67
Label: Atlantic/Warner Jazz (2000)
Runtime: 62:30

1.  The Great Arrival (Cheganca) (Edu Lobo/Oduvalso Viana Filho/Norman Gimbel) 2:19
2.  Monday, Monday (John E. Phillips) 2:32
3.  Carnaval (Clare Fischer) 2:40
4.  Cancao Do Amanhecer (Edu Lobo/Vinicius de Moraes/Norman Gimbel) 2:48
5.  Here's That Rainy Day (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen) 2:22
6.  Boranda (Edu Lobo) 2:41
7.  Nana (Moacir Santos/Mario Telles) 2:35
8.  Bonita (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Ray Gilbert) 3:24
9.  Morning (Clare Fischer) 2:38
10.  Don't Go Breaking My Heart (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) 2:34
11.  Tristeza De Amar (Maximiliano Sanchez) 3:18
12.  Girl Talk (Neal Hefti/Bobby Troup) 2:26
13.  Nana (Moacir Santos/Mario Telles) 2:24
14.  Amor Em Paz (Once I Loved) (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Norman Gimbel) 2:56
15.  Garota de Ipanema (The Girl From Ipanema) (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Norman Gimbel) 3:16
16.  Coisa No. (Moacir Santos) 2 2:47
17.  Primitivo (Sergio Mendes) 3:58
18.  Ela E Carioca (She's A Carioca) (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes/Ray Gilbert) 2:27
19.  Corcovado (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 4:09
20.  Noa Noa (Sergio Mendes) 2:21
21.  Desafinado (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonca) 3:21
22.  Neurótico (Meirelles) 2:21

Sergio Mendes (Piano)
Joao Palma (Drums) - 1-12
Clare Fischer (Arranger, Conductor) - 3,6,9,12
Bob Florence (Arranger, Conductor) - 1,2,7,10
Dick Hazard (Arranger, Conductor) - 4,5,8,11
Sebastiao Neto (Double Bass) - 13-22
Edison Machado (Drums) - 13-22
Edson Maciel (Slide Trombone) - 13-22
Raulzinho (Valve Trombone) - 13-22
Hector Bisignani (Tenor Saxophone) - 13-22
Aurino Ferreira (Tenor Saxophone) - 13,17
Antonio Carlos Jobim (Arranger) - 13-22
Others unknown

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Misery Loves Company - Magia ke Miseria

Magic and Misery – Magic and Mystery; the enchanting transmutation of human pain and suffering into joyous celebration through the cabala of sound. And Misery Loves Company.
Misery's style is eclectic; the band is comprised of musicians from the USA, Greece, India, and Germany. The music is rooted in Greece, Asia and the Americas. Loosely termed ethno, or world music, such a commingling of cultures and styles often results in a musical hodgepodge that ends in a diluted formula, a conglomeration of parts that are only pale imitations of the originals. But Misery's music has a cross-cultural depth of authenticity and conviction which stems from a core of players who have known and worked with each other over a period of years...
The seed of the idea of forming Misery Loves Company was planted in Munich at the Greek night club, the Lyra. Sakis was playing in the club when Geoff first walked in some ten years ago. Sakis remembers the moment of their meeting. "We had just finished playing a particularly difficult piece, and this guy came up after the set and asked me what the rhythm was. I was surprised that someone was interested. It was a really complex piece, something in 5/8, 6/8, 7/8, 9/8, and 11/8 time, and it took me some time to explain it." says Sakis with a chuckle. Over the proceeding months and years Geoff and Sakis became friends and musical compatriots. Sakis began teaching Geoff Greek compositions, and Goodman in turn taught Sakis some of his music. They played together in various musical combinations. The relationship between Western and Mid-Eastern music traditions in conjunction with Greek musical forms is too complex to delve into in this short space. Suffice it to say that Western music tradition is grounded in the Greek modes, and that the some 3000 years of Greek culture has straddled the European and Asian continents. The influence of the East on Greek culture has been significant. Many of the great Greek city states were in Asia Minor and on the shores of what is now Turkey. Ancient battles with the Persian empire, and Alexander the Great's military expeditions through Persia, Afghanistan, and into India made Greece the centrum where East and West truly met. That Misery's cross-breeding of Western, Greek, and Eastern music is planted in Greek soil makes eminent good sense. They say that misery loves company. Whether you're down or up, melancholy or joyful, the music of this Misery is company well worth keeping. - from the CD cover

Artist: Misery Loves Company
Album:  Magia ke Miseria (Athens Meets New York)
Year: 1997
Label: Enja (1998)
Runtime: 55:41

1.  Road Movie (Geoff Goodman) 7:07
2.  Kamamotou (Draqatis) 4:22
3.  About a Boat (Geoff Goodman) 3:40
4.  Magiadi (Traditional) 6:14
5.  Dry George (Traditional) 4:52
6.  Barbagianakakis (Traditional) 6:08
7.  Cleo's Companion (Geoff Goodman) 5:49
8.  Misirlou (Nikos Roumbanis) 7:01
9.  Tsifiteteli (Sakis Stratopoulos) 4:46
10.  Prosefhi (Haris Alexion) 5:24

Geoff Goodman (Mandocello, Guitar)
Chris Hirson (Saxophone)
Sylvia Kapernaros (Vocals)
Sakis Stratopoulos (Bouzuki)
Alex Haas (Bass)
Shankar Lal (Tablas)
Tobias Ott (Tablas, Ghatam)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gabriele Mirabassi - Latakia Blend

In 2001 Mirabassi joined Rabih Abou-Khalil's group and soon became its foremost soloist who regularly brings the audience into a boiling state. While Rabih's music has an Arabic color, Gabriele's is deeply rooted in the folk music of his native Italy which he presents with great emotional power. Accordionist Luciano Biondini, who has also worked with such as Tony Scott and Enrico Rava, and tuba player Michel Godard, the most versatile exponent of his instrument worldwide, have been working with Mirabassi for quite a while - formerly as a quartet with additional drums or mandolin. All three of them are currently members in Rabih Abou-Khalil's band.
Gabriele Mirabassi (from Perugia) studied at the Morlacchi Conservatory and graduated in 1986 with highest honors. In the following years he mostly played contemporary classical music with the best European ensembles. However, already during those days he ventured into jazz and improvisation. Through his work with Richard Galliano, Sergio Assad, Stefano Battaglia and others he received good exposure at large festivals throughout the world. He was selected Talent of the Year in Italy in 1996 and presented his Brazilian project Pixinguinha at Umbria Jazz in 2001. Italian critic Guido Festinese described him as "a lucid, driving, unpredictable clarinet player with a voracious musical curiosity." Mirabassi has several albums under his own name on the Italian Egea label.
"Latakia Blend" is a charming album packed with thrilling original tunes. Graceful and inventive, it mixes the happiness and melancholia of folk dance music, the artistic perfection of a chamber ensemble and the improvisational drive of a jazz band. Consequently this album's program ranges from that sad Italian folk song "Gorizia" to Brazilian Chôro composer Pixinguinha's "Segura Ele" to an out-of-tempo rendition of Billy Strayhorn's ballad "Isfahan." And Mirabassi's warm clarinet adds nothing but pure beauty to all of them.

Artist: Gabriele Mirabassi
Album: Latakia Blend
Year: 2002
Label: Enja
Runtime: 54:48

1.  Girotondo (Gabriele Mirabassi) 4:20
2.  Gorizia (Traditional) 9:06
3.  Latakia Blend (Gabriele Mirabassi) 7:42
4.  Passacaille (Michel Godard) 4:17
5.  Isfahan (Billy Strayhorn) 4:55
6.  Non ci resta che... Chorar! (Gabriele Mirabassi) 3:40
7.  Segura ele (Pixinguinha) 2:03
8.  Burley e Perique (Gabriele Mirabassi) 4:40
9.  Michelone (Gabriele Mirabassi) 3:48
10.  Les vieux Allemands (Gabriele Mirabassi) 6:19
11.  Hotel Danubio (Gabriele Mirabassi) 4:04

Gabriele Mirabassi (Clarinet)
Luciano Biondini (Accordion)
Michel Godard (Tuba)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ravi Shankar - Raga-Mala

Dedicated to Ravi Shankar's collaborator Zubin Mehta, Sitar Concerto No. 2 (or Raga-Mala), commissioned in 1981 by the New York Philharmonic, combines a rich base of Indian classical forms with Western classical conventions. - by Jenna Woolford, AMG

Probably the best fusion work! For a common listener, it is impossible to comprehend, what a true fusion of Indian and Western Classical could be. Except probably for the notes, everything is different for these two diverse genres. Considering the range, depth and complexity, there could be many treatments to make a fusion. Ravi Shankar himself has done it at different times with Zubin Mehta, London Symphony Orchestra under Andre Previn, and Yehudi Menuhin and even more. However, after listening a good amount of these fusion musical works from Ravi Shankar and others, this remains one of my most favorites of this kind. While the four pieces here, in overall, have maintained the mandates of four Indian ragas, internally the structures are innovative - thanks to the two great minds at work. I feel these were more Ravi Shankar's ideas than Zubin Mehta's. Though percussion are more prominent here than usually they are in regular performances in India or West, I liked this album from my very first listening. That such a piece can be written was an unknown fact to me before. Ravi Shankar's mastery and versatility are written all over it. - by Gautam De,

Artist: Ravi Shankar and Zubin Mehta
Album: Raga-Mala (Sitar Concerto No.2)
Year: 1981 (Recorded live at Royal Festival Hall, London, UK)
Label: Angel (Digitally Remastered, 1998)
Runtime: 52:07

1.  (I) Lalit (Presto) 16:36 
2.  (II) Bairagi (Moderato) 8:11 
3.  (III) Yaman Kalyan (Largo Moderato) 14:32 
4.  (IV) Mian Ki Malhar (Allegro) 12:46 
All compositions by R. Shankar

Ravi Shankar (Sitar)
Zubin Mehta (Conductor)
London Philharmonic Orchestra (Orchestra)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Roswell Rudd & Toumani Diabate - Malicool

At first blush, adding Roswell Rudd to a group of native West African musicians might seem, well, stretched. Surprisingly, though, it proves a remarkably impressive combination -- in large part due to the simple melodies, the opportunity for the trombonist to stretch out, and the quality of the band. Curiously, although recorded in Mali, half of the tunes are not indigenous to the region: Three are by Rudd, "Jackie-ing" is, of course, by Monk, and "All Through the Night" is a traditional Welsh song. Rudd plays the only Western-style horn (the others perform on a variety of local instruments or contribute vocals), and his burly tone and raunchy swagger take full advantage of the moment. The trombonist is in prime form, relaxed and expansive. The Africans are splendid, too, not only laying down a sympathetic carpet of light percussion over which the trombonist improvises but also providing some interesting diversions on instruments such as the kora, the balophone, the djembe, and the ngone. The acclaimed Toumani Diabate is co-leader of the session, contributes a few pieces, and shines on his native kora (a 21-stringed harp). "Jackie-ing" is perhaps the most interesting of the tunes, if only because it is so difficult for the Africans to manage. As Rudd explains in his notes, the tradition among the Africans is to focus on simple riffs as accompaniments and to continue to explore sections to their fullest rather than jumping to the next section of a song. Ultimately, these issues (and others) are worked out, and Monk is given a sort of facelift that proves compelling. Overall, the band is tight and well-rehearsed, Rudd's solos rival his best, and the tunes are catchy, simple, and accessible. Fans of the trombonist or of West African music will not wish to miss the opportunity to pick up this rare and exciting collaboration.- by Steven Loewy, AMG

Artist: Roswell Rudd & Toumane Diabate
Album: MAlicool
Year: 2001
Label: Universal Music (2002)
Runtime: 60:48

1.  Bamako (Roswell Rudd) 6:29
2.  Rosmani (Toumani Diabate) 6:05
3.  Jackie-ing (Thelonius Monk) 5:43
4.  All Through the Night (Traditional/arr. Roswell Rudd) 2:21
5.  Hank (Toumani Diabate) 5:56
6.  Johanna (Toumani Diabate) 7:51
7.  For Toumani (Roswell Rudd) 11:32
8.  Malicool (Roswell Rudd) 3:47
9.  Sena et Mariam (based on George Gershwin's Summertime) 7:02
10.  Malijam (Ludwig von Beethoven/arr. Roswell Rudd) 4:02

Roswell Rudd (Trombone)
Toumani Diabate (Kora)
Lassana Diabate (Balaphone)
Basseko Kouyate (Ngone)
Henry Schroy (Bass)
Sayon Sissoko (Guitar)
Sekou Diabate (Djembe)
Mamadou Kouyate (Vocals) - 2,5
Dala Diabate (Vocals) - 5

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mark Isham - Blue Sun

A fine album by this trumpeter better known for film scores and Windham Hill new age electronics than for jazz. However, on this outing, Mark Isham struts his jazz stuff. Although the instrumentation includes electric bass, occasional electric piano, and a sprinkling of atmospheric electronics, the feel here is of an acoustic recording of the cool jazz school. Isham's quintet includes Steve Tavaglione on tenor saxophone and David Goldblatt on piano, both of whom inform this music with elegance and grace. Isham himself has never sounded better on record, recalling the Miles Davis of the '50s at times, and the rhythm section of drummer Kurt Wortman and bassist Doug Lunn keeps the music moving at a relaxed pace. Isham's work in his Windham Hill days was, while interesting, easily identifiable and properly classified in the new age bin. Here, he has moved in a new, classy direction, proving he can write and perform well-crafted music of substance. - by Jim Newsom, AMG

I hate to make Miles Davis comparisons, and I won't even attempt to critique his technique--I'll let the experts and the brass players do that. I will simply say that, as years have gone by, when I am in the mood for a trumpet CD, I reach for SKETCHES OF SPAIN or BLUE SUN. I don't know what that says for Miles or Isham, but I love both. BLUE SUN is such a wonderful blend of sounds, melodies, and harmonies that I just don't get tired of hearing it. From the opening percussive notes of "Barcelona," right through the subtle keyboard and sax intro to "That Beautiful Sadness," the more restless feel of "Trapeze" and the melancholy "Lazy Afternoon," Isham has me in his grasp. I love the sax harmony and interplay on "Blue Sun," the sorrow of "In More Than Love," and the tip of the hat to both Miles Davis and Robert Frost (I'm a high school English teacher, so I really appreciate the Frost reference) on "And Miles To Go . . . Before He Sleeps." I love just the hint of electric on the closing tune, "Tour de Chance," as well--it closes everything nicely. Where he really slays me, though, is on "In a Sentimental Mood," track 8. I don't think anyone, living or dead, could wring any more emotion and "sentiment" out of a melody than Isham does on this piece. Ohhhh. It's almost exhausting to listen to, but somehow I don't feel exhausted when it's done--I feel refreshed and invigorated. He's done all the work--I just need to slow down and listen. . . . Really nice keyboard work underneath and behind the melody--very understated and appropriate. I don't know how a person could listen to Isham on this track and not run out and buy the CD. Even if you hated the rest, which would be virtually impossible, it would be worth the asking price for this 7+ minute experience. Bottom Line: Whether or not he's the next coming of Miles or just another chump blowing on a trumpet, Mark Isham has captured something very special on this CD. It isn't on his earlier ones, and I haven't heard it on his more recent ones, although I love those, as well. He is garnering some attention as a film scorer, which is great--his scores are excellent--but he can't capture this . . . essence . . . in a film score. This is a very intimate, personal, understated, and reflective effort from Isham. Everyone deserves to experience this hour. . . - by Roger L. Foreman,

Artist: Mark Isham
Album: Blue Sun
Year: 1995
Label: Sony/Columbia
Runtime: 60:55

1.  Barcelona (Mark Isham) 5:12
2.  That Beautiful Sadness (Mark Isham) 5:58
3.  Trapeze (Mark Isham) 6:55
4.  Lazy Afternoon (Jerome Moross/John Latouche) 3:53
5.  Blue Sun (Mark Isham) 9:00
6.  In More Than Love (Mark Isham) 8:06
7.  And Miles To Go... Before He Sleeps (Mark Isham) 7:02
8.  In A Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills/Manny Kurtz) 7:50
9.  Tour De Chance (Mark Isham) 6:59

Mark Isham (Trumpet, Cornet, Flugelhorn and Electronics)
David Goldblatt (Acoustic and Electric Piano)
Steve Tavaglione (Tenor Saxophone)
Doug Lunn (Electric Bass)
Kurt Wortman (Drums)
David Torn (Guitar Loops)
Peter Maunu (Guitar Loops)
Lisbeth Scott (Vocal Loops)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jean-Luc Ponty - Tchokola

Every eight years, it seems, Jean-Luc Ponty picks himself up, gives himself a good shake, and switches direction. In 1967, he made his first life-changing visit to the U.S.; 1975 found him going solo permanently as a jazz/rock icon; 1983 marked a switch to sequencer music; and in 1991, Ponty discovered African music. Taking advantage of the huge interest in African music in France, Ponty recorded his electric violin over the churning, hypnotic grooves of a coterie of visiting West African musicians in Paris, and the results, on Tchokola, are delicious. In one sense, not that much has changed, for while Ponty has thrown out the sequencers and electronic gizmos, his music remains grounded in repeated ostinato patterns -- those provided by the Africans. Ponty dabbles in all kinds of grooves -- the Nigerian juju, Cameroon's makossa (there is an especially swinging example of that on "Mouna Bowa"), the Afro-French Caribbean zouk, the sabar from Senegal, West Africa's mandingo, and a few others. On top of these, Ponty imposes his own distinctive melodic ideas on acoustic or electric violin, gingerly negotiating his way over the bumps of the tricky rhythms. At times, one feels that even this endlessly pliable virtuoso is not quite comfortable with these exotic idioms, but the music is so infectious that it usually sweeps him -- and us -- right along. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Jean-Luc Ponty
Album: Tchokola
Year: 1991
Label: Epic/Sony
Runtime: 54:15

1.  Mam' Mai (Abdou Mboup/Yves Ndjock/Jean-Luc Ponty) 6:00
2.  Sakka Sakka (Guy Nsangué/Brice Wassy/Myriam Betty/W. Nfor) 5:22
3.  Tchokola (Brice Wassy) 5:47
4.  Mouna Bowa (Guy Nsangué/Jen-Luc Ponty) 6:32
5.  N'fan Môt (Jean-Luc Ponty/Brice Wassy) 6:10
6.  Yé Ké Yé Ké (Mory Kanté) 4:58
7.  Bamako (Yves Ndjock/Jean-Luc Ponty/Brice Wassy) 4:32
8.  Rhum 'N' Zouk (Jean-Luc Ponty) 5:04
9.  Cono (Salif Keita)  4:56
10.  Bottle Bop (Yves Ndjock/Guy Nsangué/Brice Wassy) 4:49

Jean-Luc Ponty (Acoustic and Electric Violins, Keyboards)
Guy Nsangué (Bass Guitar)
Kemo Kouyate (Kora, Balafon, Harp)
Abdou Mboup (Percussion)
Brice Wassy (Drums and Percussion)
Yves Ndjock (Guitar) - 1-3,6-9
Martin Atangana (Guitar) - 2,4,5,10
Moustapha Cissé (Percussion) - 1-3,6-9
Angélique Kidjo (Vocals)
Myriam Betty (Vocals)
Esther Dobong'Naessiene (Vocals)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oscar Peterson - On the Town

This reissue of Oscar Peterson's live Toronto recording in the Desert Island Discs series at Verve brings to light the question that jazz audiences were debating at the time. With Peterson's legerdemain rhythmic possibilities, his knotting, shimmering waves of notes, his insanely huge harmonic structures, and his dense clusters played in every solo, half the jazz populace wondered if all the swinging noodling might be a skillful medicine show while the other half considered it genius. No matter. One thing that everyone agreed on: No matter how busy his busy got — and this album illustrates the rule since it's in a live setting — Peterson always, always swung, particularly with Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on bass. The set opens with "Sweet Georgia Brown" and it's all bets off as to what Peterson will do next. He skitters from one melodic possibility to the next while Ellis creates a dynamic flow of fresh ideas to keep the music full and bright. There are blues here, and they are gutbucket blues. They come from Ellis' guitar during this late '50s period more than at any other time in his life. But they come from Brown and Peterson too, and that's where the argument loses the wind in its sails: Everything this trio played was rooted in a blues so pervasive, so swinging, so hot, it could not be anything but truly fine jazz. Peterson's musical appetite matched his physical stature, and it is reflected in the selections here, which all seem to segue into one another: "Should I," "When the Lights Are Low," "Pennies From Heaven," "Moonlight in Vermont," and others through to "Love Is Here to Stay." All are reinvented and reinterpreted through the science of harmonic invention and rhythmic interval unique to this Oscar Peterson Trio. And while the plates and glasses rattle and tinkle, the jazz continues to burn, full of joy and light and just a hint of smoke. In 1958 this was a night to remember; in the 21st Century it's a disc to memorize in the depths of the heart. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Oscar Peterson Trio
Album: On the Town with the Oscar Peterson Trio
Year: 1958 (Recorded live at the Town Tavern, Toronto)
Label: Verve (96 kHz, 14-bit digital transfer)
Total time: 77:39

1.  Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie/Kenneth Casey/Maceo Pinkard) 7:47
2.  Should I? (Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown) 5:04
3.  When Lights Are Low (Benny Carter/Spencer Williams) 5:57
4.  Easy Listenin' Blues (Nadine Robinson) 6:48
5.  Pennies From Heaven (Arthur Johnston/Johnny Burke) 7:22
6.  The Champ (Dizzy Gillespie) 5:25
7.  Moonlight in Vermont (Karl Suessdorf/John Blackburn) 6:05
8.  Baby, Baby All the Time (Bobby Troup) 6:49
9.  I Like to Recognize the Tune (Richard Rodgers/Lorentz Hart) 4:17
10.  Joy Spring (Clifford Brown) 9:01
11.  Gal in Calico (Arthur Schwartz/Leo Robin) 5:16
12.  Love is Here to Stay (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 7:41

Oscar Peterson (Piano)
Herb Ellis (Guitar)
Ray Brown (Double Bass)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lefteris Christofis - Nous Icons

A consonant jazz fusion delight with mediterenean scents that gives life to an imaginary musical result from a remarkable band which surprises and carries away its audience. The Greek lyrical guitarist Lefteris Christofis is the kind of an artist who through his music transfers internal images, visions and scenes from the realm of reality and fantasy. In his new CD "NOUS ICONS" released worldwidely by Blue Note Records he creates well – built melodic compositions with unusual rhythmical moods and a diversity of the colours of sound. Modal melodies, calidoscopic harmonies, lyrical vocals are supported by groovy rhythms in order to create the spirit of improvisation that gives space to the musicians for an impressive performing status.- from

Artist: Lefteris Christofis
Album: Nous Icons
Year: 2005
Label: Blue Note
Runtime: 56:12

1.  Voices 9:36 
2.  Mirror's Reflection 8:02 
3.  Diavassis 5:40 
4.  Dream Dance 11:22 
5.  Bossa Modo 9:25 
6.  First Touch 7:35 
7.  Fire Fest 4:29 
All compositions by Lefteris Christofis

Lefteris Christofis (Guitar and Vocals)
Paul Wertico (Drums and Percussion)
Vangelis Kontopoulos (Double Bass and Bass)
Barbara Unger-Wertico (Keyboards) - 3,5,6
Antonis Papoutsakis (Congas and Djembe) - 1,7
Nikos Touliatos (Marakes, Gong and Claves) - 1,4

Friday, October 7, 2011

Vinicius Cantuária - Sol Na Cara

This is a great pop release with good compositions and performances, very respectful to the Brazilian music-rich tradition (as evidenced by the melody of "Samba Da Estrela," clearly inspired by Ari Barroso's "Baixa Do Sapateiro"). Vinícius Cantuária, for some decades (since O Terço, in the '70s) active in Brazilian pop music, performs (co-produced with Arto Lindsay) his own compositions with respectable partners such as Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, and Ryuichi Sakamoto (his only accompanist in the entire album). Cantuaria carefully avoids the traps of an easy appropriation of Brazilian music elements condemned to be to mere exotic ornaments for commercial clichés, as it is the pop mainstream in Brazil today. His subtle interpretation and compositions clearly spell B-R-A-S-I-L, not as some old, stuffed tradition, but as a celebration of a strong and living culture that can coexist side by side with other world cultures. There are lots of low-profile synthesizer effects in the background, which seem to represent a "modernizing" intention; it doesn't add to the artistic result, but that's a minor complaint. The album is worth it. - by Alvaro Neder, AMG

Artist: Vinicius Cantuária
Album: Sol Na Caea
Year: 1996
Label: Gramavision
Runtime: 38:41

1.  Sem Pisar No Chão (Without Touching the Ground) (Vinicius Cantuária/Caetano Veloso) 3:20
2.  Rio Negro (Black River) (Vinicius Cantuária/Caetano Veloso) 2:30
3.  Samba Da Estrela (Star Samba) (Vinicius Cantuária) 3:38
4.  Ludo Real (Royal Ludo) (Vinicius Cantuária/Chico Barque) 2:29
5.  Sutis Diferenças (Subtle Differences) (Vinicius Cantuária/Caetano Veloso) 3:51
6.  Este Seu Olhar (That Look You Wear) (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 3:21
7.  Sol Na Cara (The Sun on Your Face) (Vinicius Cantuária/Ryuchi Sakamoto) 2:30
8.  O Nome Dela (Her Name) (Vinicius Cantuária/Arto Lindsay) 3:26
9.  Corre Campo (Run Through the Field) (Vinicius Cantuária/Ryuchi Sakamoto) 3:13
10.  O Grande Lançe É Fazaer Romançe (The Thing to Do Is to Make Romance) (Vinicius Cantuária/Caetano Veloso) 3:47
11.  O Vento (The Wind) (Vinicius Cantuária) 2:41
12.  Labrea (Vinicius Cantuária) 3:51

Vinicius Cantuária (Vocals, Guitar and Percussion)
Ryuichi Sakamoto (Electronic Instruments, Sampling)
Jania Carvalho Austin (Bass) - 4
Michael Leonhart (Trumpet) - 6
Arto Lindsay (Acoustic Guitar) - 7


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