Thursday, February 24, 2011

Josh Rouse & Kurt Wagner - Chester

The follow-up to Josh Rouse's acclaimed debut is even more promising than its predecessor: for the five-song Chester, Rouse sought out lyrics from the great Kurt Wagner, the mastermind behind Nashville freakshow Lambchop, and the result is a gorgeously understated record that plays beautifully to the strengths of both artists. Despite the seeming schism between the two, Rouse's bright, chiming songs fit Wagner's darkly surreal vignettes like a glove, at times (as on the superb opener, "Something You Could Always Tell") even co-opting Lambchop's orchestral touches to stunning effect; here's hoping a full-length collaboration is in their future. - by Jason Ankeny, AMG

Artist: Josh Rouse and Kurt Wagner
Album: Chester
Year: 1999
Label: Slow River
Runtime: 20:14

1.  Somehow You Could Always Tell 2:56 
2.  That's What I Know 3:31 
3.  Table Dance 6:11 
4.  65 3:30 
5.  I Couldn't Wait 4:04 
All songs written by Josh Rouse and Kurt Wagner

Josh Rouse (Vocals, Guitar, Melodica)
Kurt Wagner (Vibes, Ambient Noises)
Sharon Gilchrist (Bass Guitar)
Malcolm Travis (Drums)
David Henry (Cello, Backing Vocals)
Dennis Cronin (Trumpet)
Curt Perkins (Electric Piano)

Leo Kottke - Ice Water

This is a good record, though not the Leo Kottke album to start with, as it is not representative of his usual work -- it's mostly a vocal record, and a very country-flavored record at that, with Kottke's baritone, reminiscent in some ways of Leonard Cohen (and even moving into what one might consider Jim Morrison territory), serving as the dominant instrument on six of the ten tracks. His flashy 12-string playing and Cal Hand's Dobro do come to the fore on "Tilt Billings and the Student Prince." Tom T. Hall and Ron Elliott of the Beau Brummels are among the songwriters represented. Among the intrumentals, "A Good Egg" is just the kind of light-fingered, light-textured virtuoso piece that one buys a Leo Kottke album expecting to find, and much of the rest shows off his talents in some unexpected directions. The sound on the One Way label CD reissue is first rate as well. - by Bruce Eder, AMG

This album was my introduction to Leo Kottke,well over twenty years ago. He amazed me with his playing back then,and he amazes me still,after seeing him numerous times over the years. This album will always be special to me,not only be- cause of its excellence but also because of the wonderful memories that it brings me. The very first song,Morning is a Long Way Home,is a power- ful piece of guitar work and makes the most of Leo's weak singing voice. (It's a voice that Leo fans have learned to love,the way people feel about singers like Neil Young and Bob Dylan.) Leo's version of Pamela Brown is very sweet,and he is justifiably famous for it. The rest of the album is solid quality,the kind of stuff we have come to expect from this terrific musician. This is a fine album,and anyone who enjoys masterful guitar work and excellent songs should buy right away! - A Customer,

Artist: Leo Kottke
Album: Ice Water
Year: 1974
Quality: eac-flac, cue, log, artw.
Label: EMI Plus (2000)
Total time: 38:25

1.  Morning Is The Long Way Home (Leo Kottke) 6:27
2.  Pamela Brown (Tom T. Hall) 4:05
3.  A Good Egg (Leo Kottke) 3:12
4.  Tilt Billings And The Student Prince (Leo Kottke/Ron Nagle) 4:57
5.  All Through The Night (Traditional/arr. Leo Kottke) 1:40
6.  Short Stories (Leo Kottke/Cal Hand) 3:01
7.  You Tell Me Why (Ron Elliott) 3:58
8.  You Know I Know You Know (Leo Kottke) 4:08
9.  Born To Be With You (Don Robertson) 3:01
10.  A Child Should Be A Fish (Leo Kottke) 3:51

Leo Kottke (6 & 12 String Guitar and Vocals)
Bill Berg (Drums and Percussion)
Bill Peterson (Bass Guitar)
Bill Barber (Piano)
Cal Hand (Dobro and Steel Guitar)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ben Webster - The Warm Moods

The veteran tenor Ben Webster had a very warm tone on ballads that contrasted with the aggressive biting sound he used on faster material. For this 1960 set Webster is joined by a string quartet (arranged by Johnny Richards) and a rhythm section for his melodic interpretations of a dozen standards. Even when simply stating the melody, Webster brings out unexpected beauty in the songs. His tone has never been accurately duplicated and is the main reason to pick up this CD reissue. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Ben Webster
Album: The Warm Moods
Year: 1961 (Discovery)
Label: Reprise (2003)
Total time: 36:04

1.  The Sweetheart Of Sigma Chi (Bryan Stokes/Dudley Vernor) 2:27
2.  Stella By Starlight (Ned Washington/Victor Young) 3:03
3.  With Every Breath I Take (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin) 3:06
4.  Accent On Youth (Vee Lawnhurst/Tot Seymour) 3:01
5.  But Beautiful (Johnny Burke/James Van Heusen) 2:54
6.  Time After Time (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) 3:11
7.  Nancy (With The Laughing Face) (Phil Silvers/James Van Heusen) 3:13
8.  I'm Beginning To See The Light (Duke Ellington/Don George/Johnny Hodges/Harry James) 2:48
9.  It Was So Beautiful (Harry Barris/Arthur Freed) 3:25
10.  The Whiffenpoof Song (Tod Galloway/Meade Minnigerode/George S. Pomeroy) 2:27
11.  It's Easy To Remember (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 3:12
12.  There's No You (Hal Hopper/Tom Adair) 3:17

Ben Webster (Tenor Saxophone)
Donn Trenner (Piano)
Don Bagley (Double Bass)
Frank Capp (Drums)
Armond Kaproff (Cello)
Cecil Figelski (Viola)
Alfred Lustgarten (Violin)
Lisa Minghetti (Violin)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dexter Gordon - A Swingin' Affair

Dexter Gordon was on a roll in 1962 when he recorded A Swingin' Affair. Two days earlier he and this same quartet recorded his classic album Go!; the band included pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Billy Higgins. Gordon wrote two of the set's six tunes, the first of which, the Afro-Cuban-flavored "Soy Califa," is a burner. Higgins' drumming double-times the band as Gordon lays out the melody -- even his solo doesn't stray far from it and he returns to it repetitively. Clark vamps with beautiful minor-key chords that he then adds to his own solo, moving all around the lyric with his right hand. And Higgins and Warren are truly wonderful on this one. There are also three standards here. Gordon was always a master of them because his own approach to improvisation was essentially one of melodic invention. "Don't Explain" is ushered in by Clark stating the changes; Gordon's low and slow playing is romantic and sensual. On "You Stepped Out of a Dream," Gordon and Clark take the melody and invert it in the bridge; they turn it into a kind of groove as Higgins plays Latin-tinged rhythms throughout. Warren's "The Backbone" is a hard bop groover with a bossa nova flavor, as he and Gordon twin on the tune's head before Dex moves off into his solo. It's easily the best thing here. This is a hot hard bop band, playing a program that's relaxed and mostly upbeat; they even manage to stretch a bit. The Rudy Van Gelder Edition features fine sound but no bonus material. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Dexter Gordon
Album: A Swingin' Affair
Year: 1962
Label: Blue Note (1987)
Total time: 38:34

1.  Soy Califa (Dexter Gordon) 6:29
2.  Don't Explain (Arthur Herzog Jr./Billie Holiday) 6:07
3.  You Stepped Out Of A Dream (Nacio Herb Brown/Gus Kahn) 6:34
4.  The Backbone (Butch Warren) 6:49
5.  (It Will Have To Do) Until The Real Thing Comes Along (Sammy Cahn/Saul Chaplin/L.E. Freeman/Mann Holiner/Alberta Nichols) 6:50
6.  Mc Splivens (Dexter Gordon) 5:42

Dexter Gordon (Tenor Saxophone)
Sonny Clark (Piano)
Butch Warren (Double Bass)
Billy Higgins (Drums)

Charlie Hunter & Pound for Pound - Return of the Candyman

After releasing Natty Dread, Charlie Hunter decided to form a new band, one without horns. The ensuing Pound For Pound features Hunter with a drummer, synthesizers, and vibraphonist Stefon Harris. Removing the horns puts Hunter's guitar in the spotlight, and he rises to the occasion, fulfilling the promise he's displayed on all of his previous releases. There's a stronger groove here than on any of Hunter's previous records, but what's remarkable about the album is the way he keeps the groove rolling while pushing the music into unpredictable, adventurous territory. That fusion of groove and challenging jazz makes Return of the Candyman a thoroughly rewarding listen. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

For his fifth release, Hunter points himself in a refreshing new direction. "I not only wanted to play in a more percussive setting this time out, but I also wanted to dig into new realms of tonality and timbre. Don't get me wrong. I love the horns, but I'd been doing that for so long that I wanted to go after something different. Above all I wanted to make a groove album which meant coming up with a strong rhythm section." "I had been listening to alot of vibes players lately, people like Bobby Hutcherson, Milt Jackson, and especially Steve Nelson who sounds great on Dave Holland's latest album (Dream of the Elders). I was excited by the fresh tonal possibilities as well as the versatility of the instrument and how it would blend in with the rest of the rhythm section. The people at Blue Note had been hipping me to [Stefon Harris]. They sent me a tape of his music and Stefon was killing. I knew I had to get his sound and intensity of playing. He was so great to work with. Stefon's such an open-minded cool dude. Plus, he's got a great attitude. He gives 100% to the music." Hunter sought out John Santos for his addition on percussion "to add extra funkification to the vibe," and with Scott Amendola on drums, Charlie found what he was searching for. "This is what I had in mind when I first started thinking about this album. I'm really pleased with the results. We recorded a great record for hip-hop DJ's to sample." Why call this lineup Pound for Pound? "Catchy, isn't it? I just like how it sounds. I got the idea watching the boxer Roy Jones Jr. being interviewed on a talk show. He was saying that as a middleweight or light heavyweight boxer, he didn't make a whole lot of money, but pound for pound he claimed he was the best fighter in the land." Why is the album called Return of the Candyman? Charlie smiles, "Because we wanted to have a creepy picture of a clown on the cover. It's so freaky. It's supposed to look like one of those black velvet paintings. Plus, I can't think of another jazz group that would ever put out an album with a cover like this." - from Charlie's website

Artist: Charlie Hunter & Pound for Pound
Album: Return of the Candyman
Year: 1998
Label: Blue Note
Total time: 52:23

1.  Bongo Confront (Charlie Hunter) 1:20
2.  Enter The Dragon (Charlie Hunter) 6:09
3.  Fly Like An Eagle (Steve Miller) 4:31
4.  Dope-a-licious (Charlie Hunter/Stefon Harris/Scott Amendola/John Santos) 4:46
5.  Mystic Relaxation (Charlie Hunter) 1:07
6.  Return Of The Candyman (Charlie Hunter) 5:11
7.  Pound For Pound (Charlie Hunter) 6:37
8.  Grinch Comfort (Charlie Hunter) 0:38
9.  People (Charlie Hunter) 6:41
10.  Shake, Shake It Baby (Charlie Hunter) 1:54
11.  Turn Me Loose (Charlie Hunter) 6:51
12.  Huggy Bear (Charlie Hunter) 5:09
13.  Of Things To Come (Stefon Harris) 1:23

Charlie Hunter (Guitar)
Stefon Harris (Vibraphone)
Scott Amendola (Drums)
John Santos (Percussion)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dino Saluzzi - Cité de la Musique

Argentinean Dino Saluzzi manages to be a great bandeonist and sound different from great Astor Piazzolla. His music is much closer to new age than to "nuevo tango" invented by Piazzolla and Co, his approach is more "down-to-earth" and "minimalistic" yet still bears an influence on Argentinean music . That's what makes him interesting for me and I love this album in particular because of "chamber sound" if you know what I mean. Like you seat in a big dark room next to a fireplace and the guys are playing for you. Five stars. - by M. Grigoryan,

It seems pointless writing a review for this album. It's almost as if you will either come across it in the journey of your life or you will not. If the timing isn't right it will just waft past you like the scent of a beautiful flower that you pass walking along a darkened path that you can never find again. I was lucky enough to come across this album in late 1999 and I have a funny feeling that it will remain on my top-five-most-beautiful-albums list for a long time to come. It's not as if there's a particular person or event in my life that this album reminds me of, it's a sort of a collage of everything beautiful and tragic that has ever happened in my 42 years of living. It's a medium to a whole collection of memory-feelings all bundled up together. More than once I have dozed off (stone cold sober) while listening to this album and have "come to" sensing the most vivid yet indescribable feelings, particularly during the last two tracks.I agree with the other reviews of this album - each of which is personal. Unlike other reviewers I can't put any visual images to the music on this album. I can't even tell my closest friends what I feel some times when I listen to this album. I just feel it. This beautifully dark and sensual album is mood altering if you can allow it to get in. - by Sam Calder,

Artist: Dino Saluzzi
Album: Cité de la Musique
Year: 1996
Label: ECM (1997)
Total time: 60:58

1.  Cité de la Musique 5:56 
2.  Introducción y Milonga del Ausente 8:16 
3.  El Rio y el Abuelo 7:06 
4.  Zurdo 8:25 
5.  Romance 5:11 
6.  Winter 8:46 
7.  How My Heart Sings (Earl Zindars) 5:28
8.  Gorrión 3:23 
9.  Coral para mi Pequeno y Lejano Pueblo 8:24 
All compositions - by Dino Saluzzi ecxept How My Heart Sings

Dino Saluzzi (Bandoneon)
Marc Johnson (Double Bass)
José M. Saluzzi (Acoustic Guitar)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bob James - One

Bob James's first recording for his Tappan Zee label, which has been reissued on CD along with virtually James' entire output by Warner Bros., is typically lightweight. Although Grover Washington, Jr. has two spots on soprano and trumpeter Jon Faddis is in the brass section, James' dated Fender Rhodes keyboard is the lead voice throughout the six pieces, which include two adaptations of classical works. Only a lightly funky version of "Feel Like Making Love" rises above the level of pleasant background music. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Bob James had already had records out (in a standard acoustic jazz format) many years before this came out but for all intents and purposes this is the beginning of the Bob James solo career most people will remember. James had a nice little nitche for himself producing and arranging albums during the early 70's on CTI with everyone from Freddie Hubbard to Grover Washington Jr and it only seemed a matter of time before he branched out and began making records of his own. In fact many of these people among them Grover himself,Idris Mohammad and Thad Jones all return the favor by being happily active participants on this album. This album has some of the hallmarks of James' sound of this era such as strong string arrangements and his understated way on the fender rhodes. On the other hand no one is going to mistaken this album for Lucky Seven for example. At this particular point in his career Bob James was operating during the earlier years of the 70's jazz-funk era and therefore was making music that was a lot more eclectic and broad in scope in terms of arrangements than one might normally associate with him. This would gradually diminish as the decade wore on but when this and his next few albums came out in the mid 70's would embrace that style to a pretty big extent. "Valley Of The Shadows" gets the album off to a great start with a 9 minute song called "Valley Of The Shadows"-a very discordant,minor chorded and somewhat avante garde type of groove where Bob's gift for traditional melody doesn't show up until the conclusion of the songs. "In The Garden" is a traditional arrangement that has a unique sounding mixture of jazz-funk fusion with a country slide guitar sound. Two more originals in "Soulero","Nautilus" and a version of "Feel Like Making Love" are getting a little more into standard Bob James style and even these songs have longer improvisational solos than one might expect. Another major highlite is of course "Night On Bald Mountain" which transforms the Moussorgsky classic into this funky groove with some really deep beats,similar in tone but somewhat more dramatic than what Deodato had famously done to the "Theme From 2001". Taken as a whole I rank this album in the same general arena as Head Hunters or Bitches Brew in terms of it's place in innovating a certain variety of jazz-funk and it's pretty likely this album is somewhat overlooked,as are many such recordings in the same arena. - by Andre S. Grindle,

Artist: Bob James
Album: One
Year: 1974
Label: Tappan Zee (1996)
Runtime: 33:49

1.  Valley Of The Shadows (Bob James) 9:42
2.  In The Garden (Pachelbel)  3:06
3.  Soulero (Bob James) 3:22
4.  Night On Bald Mountain (Modest Moussourgsky) 5:51
5.  Feel Like Making Love (Gene McGaniels) 6:40
6.  Nautilus (Bob James) 5:08

Bob James (Keyboards)
Gary King (Bass)
Steve Gadd (Drums) - 1-4
Romeo Penque (Alto Flute)
Ralph MacDonald (Percussion)
George Marge (Alto Flute) 
Wayne Andre (Trombone)
Alan Raph (Bass Trombone)
Jack Gale (Bass Trombone)
Paul Faulise (Bass Trombone)
Alan Rubin (Trumpet)
Lew Soloff (Trumpet)
Marvin Stamm (Trumpet)
Victor Paz (Trumpet)
Jon Faddis (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Thad Jones (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
David Friedman (Vibraphone)
Idris Muhammad (Drums) - 5,6
Grover Washington, Jr. (Soprano Saxophone) - 1,3
Eric Weissberg (Pedal Steel Guitar) - 2
Hugh McCracken (Harmonica) - 1
Charles Libove (Violin)
David Nadien (Violin)
Emanuel Green (Violin)
Gene Orloff (Violin)
Harold Kohon (Violin)
Harry Lookofsky (Violin)
Joe Malin (Violin)
Max Ellen (Violin)
Paul Gershman (Violin)
Alan Shulman (Cello)
Anthony Sophos (Cello)
Charles McCracken (Cello)
George Ricci (Cello)
Jesse Levy (Cello)
Seymour Barab (Cello)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Olu Dara - In the World

This is a rich mature effort from an artist who understands the connections between the various genres of music (blues, jazz, soul, etc.) that evolved from the African-American south. Listen closely and hear a horn player's phrasing in the vocals. The songs brim over with his sense of humanity, knowing and not without a sense of humor while his band is a groove monster. Highly reccomended. - by S.S.Sams,

In the World: From Natchez to New York is certainly a surprise. Well known as a lyrical avant-garde cornetist, Olu Dara emerges here as an effective country-blues singer and guitarist. Fortunately, Dara does not neglect his cornet but the music is definitely much different than one might expect. The material, all written by Dara, deals with country life, difficulties with love, and survival in today's society, and includes a tribute to the vegetable and fruit peddlers of yesteryear ("Okra"). A few numbers feature other vocalists and storytellers, but overall the multi-talented Dara is the main voice (both vocally and instrumentally) throughout the fascinating and successful effort. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Olu Dara
Album: In the World. From Natchez to New York
Year: 1998
Label: Atlantic (SACD, 1998)
Runtime: 47:00

1.  Okra (Olu Dara) 4:50
2.  Rain Shower (Olu Dara) 4:35
3.  Natchez Shopping Blues (Olu Dara) 3:36
4.  Your Lips (Olu Dara) 4:00
5.  Harlem Country Girl (Olu Dara) 5:48
6.  Zora (Olu Dara) 3:14
7.  Young Mama (Olu Dara) 4:45
8.  Bubber (If Only) (Olu Dara/Mayanna Lee) 3:04
9.  Father Blues (Olu Dara) 3:32
10.  Jungle Jay (Olu Dara/Nas) 5:02
11.  Kiane (Olu Dara) 4:30

Olu Dara (Vocals, Trumpet, Cornet, Guitar, Bass Drum)
Kwatei Jones-Quartey (Guitar, Percussion) - 1-5,7,8,10,11
Ivan Ramirez (Guitar) - 1,2,4,5,10,11
Rudy Herbert (Hammond Organ) - 1,2,4,7,10,11
Alonzo Gardner (Bass Guitar) - 1,2,4,5,7,8,10,11
Richard James (Congas) - 1,2,4,7,10
Greg Bandy (Drums and Percussion) - 1,2,4,5,7,8,10
Melba Joyce (Backing Vocals) - 1-3,5
Joyce Malone (Backing Vocals) - 1,2
Cantrese Allovay (Backing Vocals) - 1,2
Darada David (Backing Vocals) - 1,2
Mayanna Lee (Vocals) - 8
Nas (Vocals) - 10

Friday, February 18, 2011

Angelique Ionatos - D'un Bleu Tres Noir

Angélique Ionatos is a Greek singer produced by the French label Naïve. As far as I know she is unknown on the American side of the Atlantic. Her songs and her voice are melancholic and languorous, reminiscent of some other Mediterranean women singers. I am thinking in particular of the Portugese singer Bevinda. She has a similar feminine "grandeur". Ionatos's Greek roots give to her music a somewhat mystical feeling. She is being accompanied only by few instruments with arrangements that suit very the color of her melancholic voice. A discovery! - by Bruno Deschênes, AMG

Artist: Angélique Ionatos
Album: D'un Bleu Tres Noir
Year: 2000
Label: Naive
Runtime: 50:27

1.  I aria tis rosas (Eleni Kraindrou/Christos Christofis) 3:52
2.  O Claros (Henri Angel/Michael Nick/Cesar Stroscio) 2:14
3.  To tragoudi tis limnis (Eleni Karaindrou/Arletta) 3:49
4.  I palami sou (Angélique Ionatos/Dimitris Mortoyas) 5:29
5.  Omnyl (Angélique Ionatos/Constantin Kavafy) 2:58
6.  Hymnos sti maria nefeli (Angélique Ionatos/Odysseus Elytis) 6:04
7.  Lygmos aggelon (Mikis Theodorakis/Dyonissis Karatzas) 3:41
8.  I poni tis panaghias (Angélique Ionatos/K. Varnalis) 6:01
9.  Nana (Christian Boissel/Christine Ferarios) 2:56
10.  Me kouleraki (Angélique Ionatos/Nikos Houliaras) 3:34
11.  Sta nissia (Angélique Ionatos/Miltos Sachtouris) 2:53
12.  Mavra matia (Angélique Ionatos) 6:27

Angélique Ionatos (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar) - 1,3-9,11,12
César Stroscio (Bandoneon)
Henri Angel (Classic Guitar, Perccussion) - 1,3-6,8,9,11,12
Eric Chalan (Double Bass) - 1-6,8,9,11,12
Michael Nick (Violin) - 1-6,8,9,11,12
Bruno Sansalone (Clarinet) - 1,6

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jorge y Obo - Decade

'Jorge y Obo - El Duo Flamenco', two musicians, who have won great recognition with their own arrangements and compositions of music from Andalusia and Latin-America between experts and an enthusiastic audience. Critics call them to be among the best exponents of this music.
'El Duo Flamenco' presents a very varied program, contenting Spanish music as well as melodies from South-America and even Arabian countries. Sound patterns, fragments and impressions compose a mosaic of music and the listener is invited to an imaginary journey across the original countries of this music. - from the CD cover

Artist: Jorge y Obo - El Duo Flamenco
Album: Decada
Year: 1987
Label: EDF
Runtime: 64:15

1.  Fiesta Gitana 2:49 
2.  Patio Andaluz 4:49 
3.  Fandango de Mojacar 3:52 
4.  Silla del Moro 6:08 
5.  Sevillanas nostalgias 3:25 
6.  Aire Cubano 3:21 
7.  Aires del Norte 3:11 
8.  La Isla 2:40 
9.  Morera 4:41 
10.  En las Cuevas 4:16 
11.  Temas Indianas 4:07 
12.  Plaza de San Miguel 4:30 
13.  Recuerdos 3:12 
14.  Pajaro Campana 4:26 
15.  Toques Gitanos 5:48 
16.  Danza 3:00 


Jorge (Guitar)
Obo (Guitar)
Franco Latragna (Percussion)
Jesus Maldonado (Handclaps)
Luis Maldonado (Handclaps)
Pino Supertino (Bass, Guitar)
Ebrahim Shakoor (Flute)
Guillermo Torres (Percussion)

Monday, February 14, 2011

John Surman - Proverbs and Songs

John Surman has produced a magnificent piece of 20th century choral writing, confirming that he should no longer be regarded simply as one of Britain's leading improvisors and instrumentalists, but also as a composer of imagination, vision and power" - so raved The Times of the premiere of Surman's Proverbs And Songs, the event documented on this disc. Enhanced by powerful saxophone and bass clarinet soloing from Surman and from John Taylor at the massive Salisbury Cathedral organ, this oratorium based on Old Testament texts will be perceived as bold shift of direction in Surman's discography. Yet it also throws light on an undocumented aspect of his biography, for Surman was himself a chorister before jazz fired his imagination... - Product info,

There are 75 singers in the Salisbury Festival Chorus and each of them must have had a few friends or relations in the audience for this cathedral concert and grand premiere. When the choir filed on to the platform, there was a lot of thumbs-up signs from the substantial rump of relatives in the pews, but as the opening two pieces of the programme did not require their participation, an air of slight restiveness took over. When was dad going to have his go? At last, when they did actually rise to sing, there was an audible gasp of anticipation from the floor before the voices satisfyingly filled the building, and we could all start to relax. Until then, the concept had seemed a little uncertain. Pairing a brilliant but occasionally difficult-sounding jazz musician with an amateur choir, and then adding a jazz quartet and the strings of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, could have been disastrous, or worse, worthy. In the end, it was wonderful but there were a few close calls. Both the opening "Alter Ego", and the ballad "Seabird" which followed, sung by Karin Krog, struggled a little against the unfamiliarity of the audience and the recalcitrant acoustic, where the drums were hard to distinguish from the ripples of rain in the guttering and the strings sounded like they were strained through a colander. The entry of the choir on "Ovation", dedicated to Mother Teresa, was fittingly uplifting, but the insipid words and the occasionally over-sweet strings rather over-egged the pudding. As for the message: Mother Teresa is a good thing; no controversy there. In the second half, and the premiere of John Surman's commission Proverbs and Songs, everything felt right from the start. The strings and quartet had departed, leaving only the unseen John Taylor at the cathedral's organ, Surman on baritone and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet, and the choir, who now had something to test them. Using texts adapted from the Old Testament, and a range of movements that interleaved solos and duets with bold choral ensembles, the piece built up into a compelling story of sin and redemption. Taylor's organ-playing was particularly thrilling, mixing deep chords with delicate Messiaen-flourishes and echoes of boogie-woogie, while Surman wailed over the top in keening folk-song threnodies of great passion and strength. The final movement, "Abraham Arise", was movingly affirmative, and Surman's solid-yeoman aesthetic of archetypally English music, whatever the genre, yielded up a conclusion of mesmeric power. There was also something very English, and marvellously dotty, in hearing the choir sing lines like, "His camels, his goats, his servants, his sons, slain!", against a tootling saxophone in the majesty of Salisbury cathedral, to the dying of the light outside. - by Phil Johnson, Independent, 3 June 1996

Artist: John Surman
Album: Proverbs and Songs
Year: 1996
Label: ECM (1997)
Runtime: 49:32

1.  Prelude 3:11 
2.  The Sons 4:55 
3.  The Kings 6:41 
4.  Wisdom 7:39 
5.  Job 4:50 
6.  No Twilight 7:42 
7.  Pride 5:00 
8.  The Proverbs 4:06 
9.  Abraham Arise! 5:24
All compositions by John Surman

John Surman (Baritone and Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet)
John Taylor (Organ)
Salisbury Festival Chorus (Vocals)
Howard Moody (Conducted)
John Curry (Voice)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Canned Heat - Hallelujah

With Bob Hite and Alan Wilson switching off on vocals, Canned Heat delivered as consistent a blues product as George Thorogood, only with more diversity and subtle musical nuances keeping the listener involved. "Same All Over" breaks no new ground, opening up the Hallelujah disc, but the enthusiasm and reverence the band has for the genre is special. Al Wilson's distinctive voice -- heard on two Top 20 hit records in 1968 -- is enhanced with his eerie whistling on "Change My Ways" and the wonderfully ragged instrumentation. The way the keys bubble up under the guitars, it would have been a natural for these guys to groove their way into a Grateful Dead-style jam band thing, but two vocalists dying within an 11-year span is a bit much for any ensemble. The name Canned Heat is so cool that it becomes the title of the third song. "Canned Heat" is a pretty accurate description of what they play, and the bluesy, slow Bob Hite vocal works wonders over the incessant Henry Vestine/Alan Wilson guitar work. Nice stuff. Jim Newsom calls "Sic 'Em Pigs" "an entertaining era-specific goof." The slide guitars herald the anti-police anthem, featuring drummer Fito de la Parra, Alan Wilson, and Henry Vestine making the pig noises, with a public service announcement for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept. thrown in for good measure. Skip Taylor's production work is just fine, a muddy blend of instrumentation making for a cohesive sound wall on "I'm Her Man" and Wilson's "Time Was." Hallelujah was the group's fourth release for Liberty Records and it is a slice of Americana by a relatively young band with a very pure grasp of the music they love. The liner notes are a tip of the hat to the people of the plains, "the midsection of America," where man finds nothing but "himself, the land, and the sun." "Do Not Enter" opens side two with experimental blues and Alan Wilson's haunting voice, something akin to pop singer Chris Montez performing a dirge. Hite's very appropriate adaptation of "Big Fat" explodes with his own harp work and the band egging him on, an ode to his being overweight -- something that no doubt did him in a decade later. "Huautla" changes directions totally, Mike Pacheco's bongos and congas adding a Latin feel to the harp-soaked instrumental. The two longest songs on the album conclude side two, a unique "Get off My Back" with musical twists and an intensely plodding "Down in the Gutter, but Free" with everyone in the group contributing to the "songwriting" of the jam, including bassist Henry Vestine and guitarist Larry Taylor. Though there was no specific hit on Hallelujah, this enjoyable album shows Canned Heat's innovation, which would inspire groups like Duke & the Drivers down the road, fans so obsessed with the subject matter that they crossed over to the professional arena. - by Joe Viglione, AMG

Artist: Canned Heat
Album: Hallelujah
Year: 1969
Label: Magic Records (Remasterd in High Definition 24 bit, 2001)
Runtime: 47:46

1.  Same All Over (Bob Hite/Adolfo de la Parra/LarryTaylor/Alan Wilson/Henry Vestine) 2:49
2.  Change My Ways (Alan Wilson) 2:48
3.  Canned Heat (Bob Hite) 4:20
4.  Sic Em Pigs (Bob Hite/Booker T. White) 2:39
5.  Im Her Man (A. Leigh) 2:54
6.  Time Was (Alan Wilson) 3:21
7.  Do Not Enter (Alan Wilson) 2:50
8.  Big Fat (Fatz Domino) 1:57
9.  Huautla (V. Wolf) 3:32
10.  Get Off My Back (Alan Wilson) 5:11
11.  Down In The Gutter , But Free (Bob Hite/Adolfo de la Parra/LarryTaylor/Alan Wilson/Henry Vestine) 5:36
Bonus tracks:
12.  Time Was (Alan Wilson) 2:34
13.  Low Down (Bob Hite/Adolfo de la Parra/LarryTaylor/Alan Wilson/Henry Vestine) 2:31
14.  Poor Moon (Alan Wilson) 2:44
15.  Sic 'Em Pigs (Bob Hite/Booker T. White) 1:54

Alan Wilson (Guitar and Vocals)
Bob Hite (Harp and Vocals)
Adolfo de la Parra (Drums)
Larry Taylor (Bass Guitar)
Henry Vestine (Guitar)
Mark Naftalin (Keyboards)
Mike Pacheco (Bongos, Percussion)
Ernest Lane (Keyboards, Organ)
Javier Batise (Vocals)
Skip Diamond (Vocals)
Elliot Ingber (Vocals)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Carme Canela & Trio - Introducing

This enterprising Barcelona is to alleviate poverty on the national scene in terms of jazz.Se based on a warm timbre and phrasing that you know to stick with authority as the canon of standard jazz repertoire as the super trio of brazilian pianist. Joan Monné added attraction to a job than it sounds healthy. - by Perico Sambeat

Artist: Carme Canela
Album: Introducing Carme Canela & Trio
Year: 1996
Label: Fresh Sounds New Talent
Runtime: 61:59

1.  Speak Low (Ogden Nash/Kurt Weill) 5:38
2.  I Didn't Know What Time It Was (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 8:43
3.  Estels foscos en un cel tan clar (Joan Monné)5:45
4.  Veracruz (Milton Nascimento/Marcio Borges) 5:51
5.  És molt tard (David Xirgu/Benjami Moliné) 5:07
6.  You Don't Know What Love Is (Don Raye/Gene DePaul) 7:07
7.  Isn't It a Pity (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 5:58
8.  Afro Blue (Mongo Santamaria) 5:02
9.  Walking on the Moon (Sting) 5:05
10.  Ribbon in the Sky (Stevie Wonder) 4:01
11.  Madalena (Ivan Lins/Ronaldo Monteiro) 3:42

Carme Canela (Vocal)
Joan Monné (Piano)
Raimon Ferrer (Double Bass)
David Xirgu (Drums)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Antonio Carlos Jobim - A Certain Mr. Jobim

This album has had a somewhat confusing release history, appearing as it did amid a flurry of activity by Jobim (including his work with Frank Sinatra) and bouncing between several labels since its first release in 1967. Made up of instrumentals as well as songs (all of the latter in English), it was a superb showcase for the melodic aspect of Jobim's art, though the material, like so much of Jobim's work during his explosive first decade of international recognition, represented something of a work in progress, a fact borne out by the subsequent reworking of the stunning closing number, "Zingaro," as "Retrato Em Branco E Preto." Claus Ogerman's musical direction offers a mix of influences, ranging from Dom um Romao's drumming to the presence of the first violinist of the New York Philharmonic, all combining to sympathetic effect. - by Bruce Eder, AMG

Artist: Antonio Carlos Jobim
Album: A Certain Mr. Jobim
Year: 1967
Label: Warner Bros. (WB Masters, 2002)
Runtime: 26:50

1.  Bonita (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Ray Gilbert) 2:58
2.  Se Tudos Fossem Iquais A Voce (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes) 2:19
3.  Off Key (Desafinado) (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Gene Lees/Newton Mendonca) 3:08
4.  Photograph (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Ray Gilbert) 2:12
5.  Surfboard (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 2:46
6.  Once Again (Outra Vez) (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 2:10
7.  I Was One More For You (Experanca Perdida) (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Ray Gilbert/Dolores Duran) 2:27
8.  Estrada Do Sol (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Dolores Duran) 3:32
9.  Dont Ever Go Away (Por Causa De Voce) (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Ray Gilbert/Dolores Duran) 2:48
10.  Zingaro (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 2:24

Antonio Carlos Jobim (Piano, Vocals)
Dom Um Romao (Drums)
Claus Ogerman (Orchestrated)
Dick Hyman (Organ)
others unknown

Monday, February 7, 2011

John Pizzarelli - Live at Birdland

This is a wonderful, warm-hearted, and effortlessly virtuosic live recording by one of the finest living exponents of pre-bop small-ensemble jazz. With pianist Ray Kennedy and bassist Martin Pizzarelli (and on two songs joined by vocalist Grover Kemble), singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli runs through a generally lightweight but thoroughly charming set of standards, homages, funny stories, and the occasional original tune; the fast tunes are light and frothy, the ballads smooth and gentle, and even the moments that are less than utterly inspired work together with the album's highlights to create a very satisfying whole. John Pizzarelli has a suit sponsor, which tells you something about what to expect of him as a singer: his voice is smooth and warm, offering a nice combination of Chet Baker's timbre and Dean Martin's fullness; as a guitarist you need to know that he favors seven-string guitars and flat-wound strings, leading him naturally to a swinging Django Reinhardt-meets-Freddie Green kind of sound. As for the trio's instrumentation, it's true that when you can comp with this kind of authority you don't technically need a drummer. But on a few tracks a drummer would have filled out the band's sound nicely. Highlights include the group's fun, slightly greasy take on "Frim Fram Sauce" and a great ode to Art Tatum called "Tea for Tatum," as well as a fine original blues composition titled "Headed Out to Vera's." Pizzarelli's own "Oh, How My Heart Beats for You" and "Day I Found You" are also wonderful. But the album's standout track is a limpidly gorgeous rendition of another original, "Better Run Before It's Spring." Pizzarelli is obviously having a blast in the intimate setting of the legendary Birdland club, and so will any jazz lover who takes the time to listen. Very highly recommended. - by Rick Anderson, AMG

Artist: John Pizzarelli Trio
Album: Live at Birdland I-II
Year: 2002
Label: Telarc Jazz (DSD, 2003)
Runtime: 131:55

CD1 [1:06:42]
1.  Introduction 0:06 
2.  Just You, Just Me (Jesse Greer/Raymond Klages) 4:41
3.  The Frim Fram Sauce (Redd Evans/Joe Ricardel/Joe Richards) 5:31
4.  This Song Is You (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein) 6:16
5.  Is'n It a Pity? (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 4:14
6.  Rhode Island Intro 1:04 
7.  Rhode Island (Howard Dietz/Henderson/DeSylva Brown/Arthur Schwartz) 3:45
8.  Library of Congress Story (Ray Kennedy) 4:13
9.  Gospel Truth (Ray Kennedy) 5:22
10.  Dizzy Gillespie Story (Ray Kennedy) 3:14
11.  Tea for Tatum (Ray Kennedy/John Pizzarelli) 5:05
12.  James Taylor Intro 1 0:11 
13.  Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight (James Taylor) 3:14
14.  James Taylor Intro 2 1:02 
15.  Mean Old Man (James Taylor) 3:50
16.  Manhattan (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 4:12
17.  Rosemary Clooney Story (Ray Kennedy) 2:31
18.  Moonlight Becomes You (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen) 3:18
19.  Final Intro 0:29 
20.  Will You Still Be Mine? (Tom Adair/Matt Dennis) 4:24
CD2 [1:05:13]
1.  Introduction 0:20 
2.  Three Little Words (Bert Kalmar/Harry Ruby) 4:30
3.  The Can't Take That Away from Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 6:04
4.  Oh, How My Heart Beats for You (John Pizzarelli) 4:27
5.  The Day I Found You (John Pizzarelli) 3:09
6.  Pollywog Story (John Pizzarelli) 1:44
7.  It's Only a Paper Moon (Harold Arlen/E.Y. "Yip" Harburg/Billy Rose) 7:42
8.  Stompin' at the Savoy (Benny Goodman/Andy Razaf/Edgar Sampson/Chick Webb) 4:44
9.  Better Run Before It's Spring (John Pizzarelli/Linda Rose) 3:40
10.  Grover Kemble Story (Ray Kennedy/John Pizzarelli) 2:55
11.  Headed Out to Vera's (Grover Kemble/John Pizzarelli) 3:55
12.  Medle: Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You Baby, Baby All the Time/Midnight Blue (Michael H. Goldsen/Neal Hefti/Andy Razaf/Don Redman/Bobby Troup) 5:29
13.  I Like Jersey Best Intro 0:57 
14.  I Like Jersey Best (Joseph Cosgriff) 8:28
15.  My Castle's Rockin (Alberta Hunter) 3:55
16.  Baby Just Come Home to Me (John Pizzarelli) 3:14

John Pizzarelli (Guitar, Vocals)
Ray Kennedy (Piano)
Martin Pizzarelli (Double Bass)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Maceo Parker - Roots Revisited

Altoist Maceo Parker has spent most of his career in R&B funk bands, most notably those led by James Brown, George Clinton, and Bootsy Collins. This CD gave him a chance to stretch out as a leader, and his soulful horn immediately brings to mind Hank Crawford and (to a lesser extent) Lou Donaldson. With a strong backup group that includes Pee Wee Ellis on tenor, trombonist Fred Wesley, and Don Pullen on organ, Parker enthusiastically plays over infectious grooves with just one funky departure ("In Time"). Roots Revisited is a throwback to the 1960s soul-jazz style and Maceo Parker gives one the impression that, if called upon, he could hold his own on a bebop date. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Maceo Parker
Album: Roots Revisited
Year: 1990
Label: Verve
Runtime: 50:52

1.  Them That Got (Ray Charles) 3:59
2.  Children's World (Maceo Parker) 10:50
3.  Better Get Hit In Yo' Soul (Charles Mingus) 5:45
4.  People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield) 5:57
5.  Up And Down East Street (For Ulysee Hardy) (Maceo Parker) 8:16
6.  Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen) 4:16
7.  Jumpin' The Blues (Jay McShann/Charlie Parker) 6:20
8.  In Time (Sly Stone) 5:29

Maceo Parker (Alto Saxophone, Piano, Organ)
Fred Wesley (Trombone)
Pee Wee Ellis (Tenor Saxophone)
Vince Henry (Alto Saxophone) - 1
Don Pullen (Organ) - 1-7
Rodney Jones (Guitar)
Bill Stewart (Drums)
Bootsy Collins (Bass Guitar, Guitar) - 8

Friday, February 4, 2011

Robin Nolan Trio - Mediterranean Blues

When guitarist Robin Nolan formed the Robin Nolan trio in London in 1992, its focus was European gypsy swing a` la Django Reinhardt. But the group (which relocated to Amsterdam) later opted for a change of direction, embracing acoustic post-bop with strong world music leanings. No one will mistake Mediterranean Blues, a collection of the Nolan trio's late-'90s work, for swing recordings of the 1930s and 1940s. Though Nolan's lyrical playing still contains elements of Reinhardt, this is very much a post-bop CD. The title Mediterranean Blues doesn't tell you just how eclectic Nolan is. Yes, Mediterranean music is an influence; some of Nolan's pieces contain elements of Greek music. But this album also finds him combining jazz with everything from Middle Eastern to Latin music. Nolan obviously appreciates a variety of Latin rhythms -- not only Afro-Cuban, but also Spanish, Brazilian, and Argentinean. Although Mediterranean Blues falls short of innovative, it does have a certain freshness. Nolan could have easily stuck to gypsy swing; there are still plenty of people in Europe who worship Reinhardt's music and love to hear younger musicians taking a retro-'30s or retro-'40s approach. But Mediterranean Blues demonstrates that Nolan deserves credit for challenging himself and trying a variety of things. - by Alex Henderson, AMG

Artist: Robin Nolan Trio
Album: Mediterranean Blues
Year: 1998-99
Label: Refined (2001)
Runtime: 64:00

1.  Mediterranean Blues 3:45 
2.  Friar Park 3:54 
3.  Song For Carolyn 8:06 
4.  And Then There Were Three 6:26 
5.  Luna Tango 5:46 
6.  Bar Del Pi 6:25 
7.  From the Banks of the Odra 5:28 
8.  Bolero Blue 7:13 
9.  El Puente 4:48 
10.  Trouble in Paradise 6:25 
11.  Where Do We Go From Here 5:40 
All compositions - by Robin Nolan

Robin Nolan (Guitar)
Paul Meader (Double Bass)
Jan P. Brouwer (Rhythm Guitar) - 3-10
Kevin Nolan (Rhythm Guitar) - 1,2,11
Nema Lopes (Percussion) - 4-10
Arjan Singh (Tabla) - 2
Carles Romo (Palmas) - 1

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Marcus Miller - The Sun Don't Lie

"The Sun Don't Lie" is one of those albums for me-- maybe I heard it at the right time in my life, maybe it really is that good, but even in the face of what many consider better records, this is my favorite of Marcus Miller's catalog-- certainly, his playing (as superb as it is) would be better on later albums, but I think this is some of his best work. Marcus Miller is, of course, regarded as one of the great bassists, and with good reason, this album shows that nicely-- from breathtaking plucked runs (the intro to "Panther") to just stunning slap playing ("Rampage"), delicate fretless work ("Moons") and a great solo bass piece ("Mr. Pastorius", originally recorded with Miles Davis). But its the songwriting on this one that really shines, from the delicate "The Sun Don't Lie" to the great funky jazz-rock of "Funny (All She Needs is Love)", the hard swining "Rampage", and the totally brilliant "Panther"-- but what makes Marcus so great is that when his songs are bass driven, he somehow gets away without having a concrete bassline until another solo voice joins, when he steps back into a supportive role on the instrument. And with a generous supporting cast including guest performances by Miles Davis, Kenny Garrett, Wayne Shorter, and Vernon Reid, this album is nothing short of spectacular. Certainly, if you're a Miles fan looking to explore Marcus' music, this is a great place to start, its how I did. This album is excellent. - by Michael Stack,

Artist: Marcus Miller
Album: The Sun Don't Lie
Year: 1993
Label: Dreyfus Jazz
Runtime: 60:30

1.  Panther (Marcus Miller) 6:03
2.  Steveland (Marcus Miller) 7:21
3.  Rampage (Marcus Miller) 5:48
4.  The Sun Don't Lie (Marcus Miller) 6:29
5.  Scoop (Marcus Miller) 5:59
6.  Mr. Pastorius (Marcus Miller) 1:25
7.  Funny (All She Needs Is Love) (Marcus Miller/Boz Scaggs) 5:26
8.  Moons (Marcus Miller) 4:52
9.  Teen Town (Jaco Pastorius) 4:55
10.  Juju (Marcus Miller) 6:02
11.  The King Is Gone (For Miles) (Marcus Miller) 6:04

Marcus Miller (Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Drum Programming, Bass Clarinet, Rhythm Guitar)
Poogie Bell (Drums) - 1,7,10
Lenny White (Percussion) - 1,2
Dean Brown (Guitar) - 1,7
Jason Miles (Sound Programming) - 1-3,7
Wayne Shorter (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone) - 2,11
Jonathan Butler (Guitar) - 2
David Sanborn (Alto Saxophone) - 2
Don Alias (Percussion, Congas) - 2,9
Paulinho Da Costa (Percussion) - 2,4,9
William Calhoun (Drums) - 3
Vernon Reid (Guitar) - 3
Miles Davis (Trumpet) - 3
Sal Marquez (Trumpet) - 3
Joe Sample (Piano) - 4
Andy Narell (Steel Drums) - 4,9
Michael White (Drums) - 4,10
Eric Persing (Sound Programming) - 4,7,10,11
Kenny Garrett (Alto Saxophone) - 5
Paul Jackson Jr. (Rhythm Guitar) - 5
Maurice White (Vocals Samples) - 5
Everett Harp (Soprano and Alto Saxophone) - 7,10
Michael Stewart (Trumpet) - 7
Steve Thornton (Percussion) - 7
Steve Ferrone (Drums) - 9
Omar Hakim (Drums) - 9
Philippe Saisse (Keyboards) - 9,10
Hiram Bullock (Guitar) - 9
Kirk Whalum (Tenor Saxophone) - 10
Christian Wicht (Keyboards) - 10
Tony Williams (Drums) - 11


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