Sunday, May 29, 2011

Psarantonis - I Reckon

Antonis Xylouris, known as Psarantonis, was born in Anoyia Crete in 1942. He first picked up the lyra at age 13, and within one month, played at his first wedding. "The job was funny", Psarantonis now reflects. Named after his grandfather who was also a lyra player, Psarantonis in three years became one of the most renown new talents in Crete. Psarantonis plays various sorts of lyres as well as laouto, 12 stringed laouto, mandolino, tzoura, and daouli. Psarantonis is an acquired taste. He plays unlike any of his peers. His singing is like no one else's, ranging from mellow whispers, to low singing, from cacophonous bellowing to an incomprehensible moaning. His playing ranges from simple to beautiful from wild to painful. Handpicking the musicians that accompany him, he composes a sound rooted in tradition -only newly interpreted. Psarantonis’ old albums consisted of him playing lyra with two laouta (his son was usually one), but he always added another instrument if he could, such as the askomandoura (a cretan bagpipe). As time progressed Psarantonis added more instruments to his compositions such as outi, mandolino and bulgari. Today Psarantonis’ albums are not lyra- laouto compositions, like most cretan albums of today. The use of more instruments, such as a lyraki (a small lyra) accompanied by a vrodolyra (a large lyra that looks like a small cello), allow him to form compositions that are deeper in texture than anyone else's today. (Creternity)

Artist: Psarantonis (aka Antonis Xylouris)
Album: I Reckon
Year: 1998
Label: Lyra
Runtime: 70:34

1.  Hymn to Mount Pseloritis (Antonis Xylouris) 2:51
2.  Ether (Antonis Xylouris) 6:05
3.  Pentozalia (Traditional) 6:45
4.  Vibration (Antonis Xylouris) 4:30
5.  Little lyres (Antonis Xylouris) 2:27
6.  Sword-strokes (Traditional) 1:28
7.  Kastrinos (Traditional) 2:36
8.  Lyre solo (Antonis Xylouris) 1:45
9.  Voyage (Antonis Xylouris) 3:56
10.  Syrtos (Folk dance originating from Chania) (Traditional) 3:05
11.  Homecoming (Antonis Xylouris) 2:24
12.  Pidichtos (Traditional) 2:13
13.  Dance of the Curetes (Antonis Xylouris) 3:12
14.  The memory that hurts (Antonis Xylouris) 3:18
15.  Look at the mountains (Antonis Xylouris) 1:45
16.  How beautiful the garden is (Antonis Xylouris) 2:35
17.  Storm (Antonis Xylouris) 2:49
18.  Dead be all (Antonis Xylouris) 3:18
19.  Harvest time (Haralambos Xylouris/Manolis Pappos) 5:23
20.  Hantiperas (Antonis Xylouris) 8:00

Psarantonis (Cretan Lyres, Mandolin, Lute, Tzoura, Tabor)
Panos Katsikiotis (Earthen Pots, Percussion, Tabor) -1-7, 9-20
Yorgos Xylouris (Lute, Oud, Lyre) - 4,8-13,20
Haralambos Xylouris (Lute, Bulgari) - 1,3-8,10-13,19,20
Ioanna Andrews (Oud) - 1,3,6,7
Nektarios Kontoyannis (Lute) - 3,6,7
Manolis Farangoulitakis (Cretan Wooden Flute, Bagpipes) - 10,12
Achilleas Persidis (Lute) - 2,9
Yannis Xylouris (Lute) - 1
Ross Daly (Rebab) - 9
Yorgos Doulgerakis (Lute) - 4
Haralambos Lagadinos (Tabor) - 13
Manolis Pappos (Lute) - 19
Alekos Stamatopoulos (Percussion) - 19
Dimitris Koukoulitakis (Acoustic Guitar) - 19

Friday, May 27, 2011

Al MacDowell - Time Peace

An onetime member of Ornette Coleman's Prime Time Band, and among the generation of bassists strongly influenced by the Stanley Clarke/Jaco Pastorius school, which emphasizes playing the electric bass like a lead guitar rather than a rhythm instrument. MacDowell is capable of booming, rapid-fire licks, flickering riffs, and sizzling rhythms. As a leader, his albums have been erratic, due mainly to compositional defects, though occasional songs reflect his sizable playing prowess. - by Ron Wynn, AMG

Artist: Al MacDowell
Album: Time Peace
Year: 1989
Label: Gramavision
Runtime: 47:15

1.  Fantastic Voyage (Al MacDowell) 3:46
2.  St Alban's Tango (Al MacDowell) 3:58
3.  Nina's Line Of No Return (Al MacDowell/Jack O'Neil) 5:01
4.  Somewhere (Al MacDowell) 4:31
5.  Fantasia (Al MacDowell) 4:48
6.  Maybe (Al MacDowell) 4:14
7.  Feng Shui (Al MacDowell/Jack O'Neil) 4:14
8.  Ode Bra (Al MacDowell) 3:53
9.  View From A Window (Al MacDowell/Jack O'Neil) 4:10
10.  Come See Tomorrow (Al MacDowell) 3:25
11.  Blue Age (Jeff Ciampa/Richard Martinez) 5:10

Al MacDowell (Piccolo Bass, Bass, Keyboards, Drum Programming) - 1-10
Jack O'Neil (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone) - 2-7,9,10
Jeff Ciampa (Guitar) - 1-7,10,11
Dave Bryant (Drums and Percussion) - 1,5-9
Bernard Wright (Keyboards) - 8,10
Bruce Purse (Trumpet) - 2,3
Dave Gordon (Trumpet) - 6,7,9
Jay Hogard (Vibraphone) - 4,8
Ornette Coleman (Alto Saxophone) - 10
Lizette (Vocals) - 10
Richard Martinez (Keyboards) - 11
Kenwood Dennard (Drums) - 8

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Branford Marsalis - Trio Jeepy

Branford Marsalis clearly had a lot of fun during this set. On seven of the ten numbers included on the double LP (the CD reissue actually has one less selection), Marsalis romps on tenor and soprano in a trio with veteran bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts; the remaining three numbers have Delbert Felix in Hinton's place. The performances are quite spontaneous (the occasional mistakes were purposely left in) and Marsalis really romps on such tunes as "Three Little Words," "Makin' Whoopee," and "Doxy." On the joyful outing that is also one of Branford Marsalis' most accessible recordings, Milt Hinton often steals the show. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Occasionally, a musician comes on the scene who possesses the talent and courage to break the timeless tradition set way back by his elders. In jazz the tradition goes something like this... If the headman is a saxophonist his group usually features a pianist, bassist, drummer, and the occasional trumpeter. The order of the song is usually arranged thusly; head, sax solo, piano solo, bass solo, fours traded with drums, head. Now contrast that with Branford's rendition of Three Little Words found on Trio Jeepy, which implements uses of a sax and bass only. A false start begins the cut, followed by a heated argument on the favored chord changes(of which Branford wins). Branford angrily starts the head, which more closely resembles an elaborate, melodic solo rather than the classic melody, with a loud, piercing note. The late Milt Hinton is then allowed to showcase his superb musicianship on his playful, wood sounding walking bass solo (which are generally regarded by bassists). Finally, Branford rounds out the piece with his melodic solo, reminisant of his version of St. Thomas. The solos in this piece are brilliant, in the same category as So What, Giant Steps, and Maiden Voyage(in my opinion). I'm aware of the overuse of this line, but I'll say it anyways..."The song alone justifies the price of the album". The powerful drum stylings of Jeffery "Tain" Watts are added to the other cuts, of which the sententious, soothing Nearness of You and the relaxed Makin' Whoopee are the most memorable. Trio Jeepy is a brilliant, awe inspired jazz masterpiece, and what I consider to be Branford's best work. - by eric84,

Artist: Branford Marsalis
Album: Trio Jeepy
Year: 1988
Label: CBS (1989)
Runtime: 73:42

1.  Housed From Edward (Branford Marsalis) 9:29
2.  The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael/Ned Washington) 10:34
3.  Three Little Words (Bert Kalmar/Harry Ruby) 5:07
4.  Makin' Whoopee (Walter Donaldson/Gus Kahn) 0:47
5.  Ummg (Billy Strayhorn) 7:09
6.  Gutbucket Steepy (Branford Marsalis/Jeff Watts/Milt Hinton) 6:18
7.  Doxy (Sonny Rollins) 7:57
8.  Makin' Whoopee (reprise) (Walter Donaldson/Gus Kahn) 9:06
9.  Peace (Ornette Coleman) 9:09
10.  Random Abstract (Tain's Rampage) (Branford Marsalis) 8:00

Branford Marsalis (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone)
Milt Hinton (Double Bass) - 1-6,8
Delbert Felix (Double Bass) - 7,9,10
Jeff "Tain" Watts (Drums)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Michel Camilo - One More Once

Michel Camilo is a very powerful Latin jazz pianist who is quite capable of playing several rhythms at once. He emulates an orchestra even when playing solo, so it is not surprising that this outing with 21 other musicians in an impressive all-star band is intense and passionate. Camilo performs ten of his originals on this date including the blues "One More Once," an atmospheric "Dreamlight," "Caribe," "Just Kidding" and his "hit" "Why Not." Among the notables heard from are tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen, altoist Paquito d'Rivera, Chris Hunter on soprano and alto, and trumpeter Michael Mossman, but Camilo is the main star throughout. The catchy rhythms make the music accessible but the pianist never coasts or takes it easy, constantly challenging himself. Recommended. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Amazingly written and arranged, and it features some of New Yorks finest musicians to be found. The horn section is tight as hell blowing away in the background. The songs range from relaxing to so powerful that your socks will be blown off. Reccomendations all around, this is a MUST have.- by Drumguy,

Artist: Michel Camilo
Album: One More Once
Year: 1994
Label: Sony/Columbia
Runtime: 63:29

1.  One More Once 4:52 
2.  Why Not! 6:42 
3.  The Resolution 3:30 
4.  Suite Sandrine, Part III 9:16 
5.  Dreamlight 8:48 
6.  Just Kiddin' 5:18 
7.  Caribe 7:05 
8.  Suntan 5:59 
9.  On the Other Hand 5:49 
10.  Not Yet 6:06 
All compositions by Michel Camilo


Michel Camilo (Piano)
Anthony Jackson (Contrabass Guitar)
Cliff Almond (Drums) - 1,2,4,6-8
Marvin "Smitty" Smith (Drums) - 5,9,10
Giovanni Hidalgo (Congas, Timbales, Bongos and Percussion)
Guarionex Aquino (Percussion)
Chuck Loeb (Guitar) - 1,5,9,10
Jon Faddis (Trumpet)
Michael Mossman (Trumpet)
Stanton Davis (Trumpet)
Bryan Lynch (Trumpet)
Ryan Kisor (Trumpet)
David Bargeron (Trombone)
Ed Neumeister (Trombone)
Conrad Herwig (Trombone)
Douglas Purviance (Trombone)
David Taylor (Trombone)
Chris Hunter (Soprano Saxophone)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dave Brubeck - Time Further Out

Time Further Out extends upon the concepts first enunciated on the Brubeck Quartet's surprise hit Time Out, but in this case with the organizing principles involving the leader's varied compositional treatments of the blues--traditional and otherwise. Thus a darkly ruminative tune such as "Bluette" treats a fairly standard 12-bar form in a very non-standard manner, interpolating a variety of classical devices that suggest the melodic influence of Chopin and the contrapuntal devices of Bach in its treatment, with a yearning alto solo from saxophonist Paul Desmond that suggests the emotional content of a blues, without specifically referring to standard devices. As if to italicize his band's mastery of polymeter, pianist Brubeck treats the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth tunes in corresponding meters, to particular effect on the 7/4 hoedown of "Unsquare Dance," the 8/8 barrelhouse changes of "Bru's Boogie Woogie" and the engaging dissonances of his 9/8 mood piece "Blue Shadows in the Street." And on "Far More Drums," drummer Joe Morello displays a mastery of 5/4 metric variations and African-styled polyrhythms that was unheard of for that time, save for percussive grandmasters such as Max Roach. - by Chip Stern,

This is absolutely as good as the Brubeck Quartet -- and modern "intellectual" jazz -- gets; not to slight the Carnegie Hall Concert in any way, but this is one case where the form, clarity, and concision required in the studio trumps the live format every time. Much looser and less self-conscious than "Time Out", "Time Further Out" finds the guys light years more comfortable with the odd time signatures they must certainly have realized (and accepted!) would become their main claim to fame, as well as with each other (Desmond was originally quite put out that Morello had demanded to be a "featured" drummer instead of a faceless time-keeper) -- and the results are obvious. This is only peripherally "intellectual" jazz; the Quartet is now expressing itself emotionally and spiritually through those odd time signatures ... it ain't just a gimmick no more, Sports Fans! It flows, it rocks, it scales lofty peaks -- yeah, ol' ham-handed Dave is still pounding out those block chords; Paul is still smoother than silk or any other sax-man that ever lived; Gene is still running the voodoo down and Joe is still ... Joe: but the individuals have melded their sounds and their personalities, here, and the music is otherworldly, heaven-sent, and relentlessly listenable even to non-aficianados. Put it on for your girlfriend, sometime, don't make a big speech or anything, just let ot percolate through the room, and see where THAT gets you ... ! A word about Joe Morello. I'm a drummer myself, and many favorites have come and gone since I first heard him play "Take Five" on my daddy's hi-fi -- but he's the one drummer in the world I have never gotten over and never will. Buddy Rich blazes, Krupa stokes those fires down below, Max Roach'll make you think intricate interlocking thoughts; hell, even Ron Bushy (the "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" guy) and John Bonham and Terry Bozzio deserve the attention they recieved. The current crop of jazz meisters have chops and technique far beyond the abilities of mortal men -- But nobody -- NOBODY -- tells a story like Joe Morello. Nobody makes 'em talk like that, makes 'em sing like that, or puts you somewhere out in the jungle listening to four or five hand-drummers having an honest-to-god conversation. You know how Eric Clapton never tries to fast-talk you on guitar? That's how Morello is on drums. Back in '61, drum construction had not yet gone all-maple-plies-and-razor-sharp-bearing-edges; the base was still the African mahogany of Krupa's day, mixed with a little poplar, and the sheer sound, the deep, mellow tone, of those drums is one reason folks will still be listening to solos from pre-1970 long after those who played them have left the planet. Morello doesn't have to hit you over the head with speed or technique -- just let the drums speak for themselves. Seductive, mon, seductive ... - by Clicdawg,

Artist: Dave Brubeck Quartet
Album: Time Further Out
Year: 1961
Label: Sony/Columbia (1996)
Runtime: 47:27

1.  It's a Raggy Waltz 5:15 
2.  Bluette 5:23 
3.  Charles Matthew Hallelujah 2:53 
4.  Far More Blue 4:39 
5.  Far More Drums 4:01 
6.  Maori Blues 3:55 
7.  Unsquare Dance 2:02 
8.  Bru's Boogie Woogie 2:30 
9.  Blue Shadows in the Street 6:36
10.  Slow and Easy - A.K.A. Lawless Mike 3:30 
11.  It's a Raggy Waltz - Live at Carnegie Hall 6:37 
All compositions by Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck (Piano)
Paul Desmond (Alto Saxophone)
Eugene Wright (Double Bass)
Joe Morello (Drums)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Maceo Parker - Southern Exposure

Maceo Parker, best-known for his R&B recordings with and without James Brown, plays strictly jazz on his Novus CD and he is in peak form. Parker's alto sounds close to Hank Crawford at times but with a phrasing of his own. On this well-rounded and consistently memorable release, Parker sticks mostly to funky blues but is also impressive on a boppish version of "The Way You Look Tonight." He splits his time between fronting an organ combo, leading a reunion with fellow Brown alumni trombonist Fred Wesley and tenor-saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, and on two songs he is joined by the enthuisastic Rebirth Brass Band. Parker only takes one vocal so the emphasis throughout is on his soulful alto, making this among his most rewarding jazz recordings. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Light the candles, open the red wine, spark up the j_ _ _ t. This CD is an icon of social gatherings and posseses one of the finest jazz/funk sax solos ever heard. I saw Maceo live in the south of France at an outdoor Summer concert. Nothing beats the mood laid down by this Master of Funk! - A customer,

Artist: Maceo Parker
Album: Southern Exposure
Year: 1993
Label: Minor Music
Runtime: 55:43

1.  Blues For Shorty Bill (Maceo Parker) 6:46
2.  Keep On Marching (Joseph "Ziggy" Modeliste/Art Neville/Leo Nocentelli/George Jr. Porter) 6:31
3.  Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Joe Zawinul) 6:28
4.  Every Saturday Night (Silas Hogan/Jerry West) 5:18
5.  The Way You Look Tonight (Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern) 6:11
6.  Splashin' (Maceo Parker) 7:00
7.  Walking Home Together (Maceo Parker) 4:57
8.  Sister Sanctified (W.J. Jr. Irvine) 6:39
9.  Fun In The Sun (Maceo Parker) 5:49

Maceo Parker (Alto Saxophone)
Will Boulware (Hammond Organ) - 1,2,4-6,8,9
Leo Nocentelli (Guitar) - 1,2,6,8,9
George Porter Jr. (Bass) - 1,2,6,8,9
Herman Ernest (Drums) - 1,2,6,8,9
Fred Wesley (Trombone) - 4,5
Pee Wee Ellis (Tenor Saxophone) - 4,5
Rodney Jones (Guitar) - 4,5
Bill Stewart (Drums) - 4,5
Kermit Ruffins (Trumpet) - 3,7
Philip Frazier (Tuba) - 3,7
Derrick Shezbie (Trumpet) - 3,7
Stafford Agee (Trombone) - 3,7
Reginald Steward (Trombone) - 3,7
Roderick Paulin (Tenor Saxophone) - 3,7
Ajay Mallory (Snare Drum) - 3,7
Keith Frazier (Bass Drum) - 3,7

Friday, May 20, 2011

Count Basie - Basie Meets Bond

This campy LP from the 1960s features the Count Basie Orchestra playing ten themes from four early James Bond movies, with arrangements by either Chico O'Farrill or George Williams. While it seems doubtful that Basie added any of this music to his regular band repertoire, his band does its best to do justice to the arrangements. The somewhat monotonous "007" is converted into a dramatic calypso, while "The Golden Horn" is straight-ahead swing and might surprise someone who hadn't seen the film From Russia With Love. But most Basie fans will want to know how the band handled the best-known themes. "Goldfinger" is given a low-key but swinging treatment that has a fine solo by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, while the foot-patting treatment of "Thunderball" focuses on Marshall Royal's soulful alto sax and a typically sparse Basie solo. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

It is a nice, well-arranged and enjoyable album to listen. I think it is one of the greatest achievements for the early James Bond movie themes in the off-soundtrack category, especially in the jazz section. If you like jazz and are a fan of James Bond movie themes, it is a must album to own and listen. I would like to listen to the jazz version of James Bond movie themes after Thunderball. - by S. Kitama,

Artist: Count Basie Orchestra
Album: Basie Meets Bond
Year: 1965
Label: Capitol Jazz (24bit remastered, 2002)
Runtime: 40:35

1.  007 (John Barry) 3:01
2.  The Golden Horn (John Barry) 3:45
3.  Girl Trouble (John Barry) 3:37
4.  Kingston Calypso (Monty Norman) 2:26
5.  Goldfinger (John Barry/Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley) 4:06
6.  Thunderball (John Barry/Don Black) 4:02
7.  From Russia With Love (Lionel Bart) 4:15
8.  Dr. No's Fantasy (Monty Norman) 3:57
9.  Underneath The Mango Tree (Monty Norman) 3:38
10.  The James Bond Theme (Monty Norman) 3:49
11.  Dr. No's Fantasy (first version) (Monty Norman) 3:54

Count Basie (Piano)
Freddie Green (Guitar)
Sonny Payne (Drums)
Norman Keenen (Double Bass)
Charlie Fowlkes (Baritone Saxophone and Bass Clarinet)
Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (Tenor Saxophone)
Eric Dixon (Tenor Saxophone and Flute)
Bobby Plater (Alto Saxophone and Flute)
Marshall Royal (Alto Saxophone)
Bill Hughes (Bass Trombone)
Grover Mitchell (Trombone)
Al Grey (Trombone)
Henderson Chambers (Trombone)
Phil Guilbeau (Trumpet)
Wallace Davenport (Trumpet)
Sonny Cohn (Trumpet)
Al Aarons (Trumpet)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shirley Bassey - And I Love You So

The out of print 1972 CD from Shirley Bassey, And I Love You So, gets two additional bonus tracks on its 2000 re-release, and the more Bassey in the world the better. Her over the top rendition of pianist Jack Dieval's "The Way of Love" keeps the gender intact, as did Kathy Kirby and Cher on their respective hit versions, of a woman singing a song of heartbreak to another woman, only Bassey puts her trademark style on it bringing it into another realm. Chris White includes two lengthy pages of liner notes in the informative eight-page booklet which includes four lovely photos of the queen diva. Perry Como's hit version of the title track, "And I Love You So," a composition from the pen of Don McLean, might've kept this album from getting more exposure, but it is essential Shirley Bassey which her fan base is well aware of. She makes "Bless the Beasts and the Children" exotic while the Tom Evans and Pete Ham timeless classic, "Without You," gets a sort of Eartha Kitt as "Catwoman" reading, Bassey borrowing a bit but never copying. Johnny Harris forgoes the neo-Phil Spector production of Harry Nilsson's hit version to arrange, produce and conduct a special blend to fit Bassey's vocal stylings. The two Noel Rogers produced outtakes from the album sessions. Like many of the artist's releases, this is a real treasure and a true work of art. - by Joe Viglione, AMG

Artist: Shirley Bassey
Album: And I Love You So
Year: 1972
Label: EMI (2000)
Total time: 51:57

1. Someday (John Bettis/Richard Carpenter) 4:58
2.  Bless the Beasts and the Children (Perry Botkin, Jr./Barry de Vorzon) 3:08
3.  Jezahel (Ivano Fossanti/Oscar Prudente) 2:50
4.  And I Love You So (Don McLean) 4:31
5.  The Way of Love (Jack Dieval/Al Stillman) 2:38
6.  The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Ewan MacColl) 4:48
7.  Day by Day (Stephen Schwartz/John Michael Tebelack) 2:47
8.  Without You (Tom Evans/Pete Ham) 3:34
9.  Ballad of the Sad Young Men (Fran Landesman/Thomas Wolf) 5:29
10.  I Don't Know How to Love Him (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice) 4:22
11.  I'd Do It All Again (Richard Ahlert/Leon Carr) 3:34
12.  If We Only Have Love (Eric Blau/Jacques Brel/Mort Shuman) 3:53
Bonus tracks:
13.  If I Should Love Again (Guistina/Norman Newell) 2:47
14.  Let Me Be the One (Roger Nichols/Paul Williams) 2:32

Shirley Bassey (Vocals)
Johnny Harris (Arranged and Conducted) - 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12
Arthur Greenslade (arranged and Conducted) - 1,2,11,13,14

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ernie Watts - The Long Road Home

We all begin our lives in simple innocence, knowing deep down that all is good and all is love, we are home. Life's journey begins. Somehow, somewhere along the way we realize that life has become very complex and filled with all sorts of fear and doubt. When darkness surrounds us, we become lost on our journey. The memory of our simple essence begins to call and we begin our journey back home. Most of us spend the majority of our lives trying to get back home. It can be a very circuitous route, but I believe, we all eventually get there. This Music is a reflection of my personal journey to date. Good luck on your journey. We're all on "The Long Road Home." This music is lovingly dedicated to the memory of my friend and teacher Bill Green. - by Ernie Watts

Grammy winning saxophonist Ernie Watts re-releases his third and final audiophile XRCD (extended resolution) via his own Flying Dolphin Records. The Long Road Home reflects my voyage back to the music that inspires me, says Watts. When doubt and darkness engulf us, the memory of our essence begins to call and we begin our journey back home. Recorded in New York, Watts surrounds himself with superb players; Kenny Barron (piano), Mark Whitfield (guitar) and Reggie Workman (upright bass). Carmen Lundy lends evocative vocals on two tracks. Recorded without drums, the sessions have a mellow, bluesy feel. The disc contains the Charles Mingus classics Goodbye Pork Pie Hat and Nostalgia In Times Square, along with Willow Weep For Me and Lover Man. Watts originals River of Light and the title track further define his respect for the jazz idiom. His composition Birds Idea pays tribute to the great Charlie Parker. - from

Artist: Ernie Watts
Album: The Long Road Home
Year: 1996
Label: JVC (20bit K2 Super Coding)
Runtime: 55:29

1.  Lover Man (Jimmy Davis/Roger Ramirez/Jimmy Sherman) 7:53
2.  At the End of My Rope (Carmen Lundy/June Raynor) 6:47
3.  River of Light (Ernie Watts/David Witham) 7:10
4.  Nostalgia in Times Square (Charlie Mingus) 4:48
5.  Bird's Idea (Ernie Watts) 4:54
6.  The Long Road Home (Ernie Watts/David Witham) 5:41
7.  Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (Charlie Mingus) 5:59
8.  Willow Weep for Me (Ann Ronell) 7:01
9.  Moonlight and Shadows (Ernie Watts) 5:11

Ernie Watts (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Barron (Piano)
Reggie Workman (Double Bass)
Mark Whitfield (Guitar) - 1,2,5,7
Carmen Lundy (Vocals) - 2,8

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weather Report - Heavy Weather

Weather Report's biggest-selling album is that ideal thing, a popular and artistic success -- and for the same reasons. For one thing, Joe Zawinul revealed an unexpectedly potent commercial streak for the first time since his Cannonball Adderley days, contributing what has become a perennial hit, "Birdland." Indeed, "Birdland" is a remarkable bit of record-making, a unified, ever-developing piece of music that evokes, without in any way imitating, a joyous evening on 52nd St. with a big band. The other factor is the full emergence of Jaco Pastorius as a co-leader; his dancing, staccato bass lifting itself out of the bass range as a third melodic voice, completely dominating his own ingenious "Teen Town" (where he also plays drums!). By now, Zawinul has become WR's de facto commander in the studio; his colorful synthesizers dictate the textures, his conceptions are carefully planned, with little of the freewheeling improvisation of only five years before. Wayne Shorter's saxophones are now reticent, if always eloquent, beams of light in Zawinul's general scheme while Alex Acuña shifts ably over to the drums and Manolo Badrena handles the percussion. Released just as the jazz-rock movement began to run out of steam, this landmark album proved that there was plenty of creative life left in the idiom. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Weather Report
Album: Heavy Weather
Year: 1977
Label: Columbia (Dig. mastered, 1997)
Runtime: 37:39

1.  Birdland (Joe Zawinul) 5:59
2.  A Remark You Made (Joe Zawinul) 6:53
3.  Teen Town (Jaco Pastorius) 2:53
4.  Harlequin (Wayne Shorter) 3:59
5.  Rumba Mama (Manolo Badrena/Alex Acuna) 2:14
6.  Palladium (Wayne Shorter) 4:48
7.  The Juggler (Joe Zawinul) 5:05
8.  Havona (Jaco Pastorius) 6:03

Joe Zawinul (Keyboards, Piano, Vocal, Melodica) - 1-4,6-8
Wayne Shorter (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone) - 1-4,6-8
Jaco Pastorius (Bass Guitar, Mandocello, Vocals, Steel Drums) - 1-4,6-8
Alex Acuna (Drums and Percussion)
Manolo Badrena (Percussion, Vocal) - 1-3,5-7

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gabor Szabo - Bacchanal

Gabor Szabo is one of those gigantically influential guitarists whose name or music few have ever heard. Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin, Robbie Krieger, and Larry Coryell all seem to have spent some serious quality time soaking in Szabo’s hypnotic sound. Largely self-taught, Szabo‘s playing brilliantly fused elements of jazz, pop, Gypsy, Indian, and Middle-Eastern music, creating a highly mystical and totally unique style.
A refugee of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Szabo spent his formative years playing guitar in underground jam sessions in Budapest. His distinctive sound matured during an important four-year tenure in Chico Hamilton’s pioneering quintet, which also featured saxophonist Charles Lloyd. Two years into his solo career and deep in the midst of the late ‘60s music revolution, Szabo released his studio masterpiece, Bacchanal. It was on this 1968 recording that he triumphed in his experiments with feedback and Eastern-tinged psychedelic re-workings of current pop tunes.
The album opens with one of two Donovan covers, “Three King Fishers.” Szabo fluidly bends his guitar strings to create a spellbinding sitar-like sound. Classically trained guitarist Jimmy Stewart accompanies him with rhythmic intensity. Monster drummer Jim Keltner is magic here, keeping things incredibly tight while seamlessly floating in and out of jazz, rock, and Eastern time signatures. “Three King Fishers” is a golden psychedelic relic, comparable in mood and intensity to the Doors’ brooding classic, “The End.” The title track, one of only two Szabo originals included here, follows the shining path of “Three King Fishers.” Hal Gordon’s percussion adds another layer of rhythmic complexity to the mix, driving the song to the highest of heights. Szabo’s agile fingers wring every bit of emotion imaginable from his electric guitar.
This musical highpoint is followed by the album’s second Donovan cover, “Sunshine Superman.” This up-tempo track sounds wonderfully dated, conjuring up images of miniskirt clad Go-Go dancers gyrating in suspended cages while waves of multi-colored lights wash across their bodies. Szabo’s contagiously energetic playing uplifts the song, keeping it from sinking into pure kitsch. “The Look Of Love” is a pre-Barry White pillow talk classic: clink your wine glasses and sink into the plush shag carpet of this relaxed groove. The strongest LP recorded by Szabo’s regular group of the era, this would prove to be their last session. While Bacchanal is largely an album of ‘60s pop covers, Szabo’s inspired quintet transforms the material into a one of a kind collection of first-rate jazz instrumentals. - by John Ballon,

Artist: Gabor Szabo
Album: Bacchanal
Year: 1968
Label: DCC (1994)
Runtime: 33:41

1.  Three King Fishers (Donovan Leigh) 4:48
2.  Love Is Blue (Bryan Blackburn/Cour/Andre Popp) 4:18
3.  Theme From Valley of the Dolls (Andre Previn) 3:51
4.  Bacchanal (Gabor Szabo) 4:57
5.  Sunshine Superman (Donovan Leigh) 3:46
6.  Some Velvet Morning (Lee Hazlewood) 5:25
7.  The Look of Love (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) 3:17
8.  The Divided City (Gabor Szabo) 3:19

Gabor Szabo (Guitar)
Jim Stewart (Guitar)
Hal Gordon (Percussion)
Jimmy Keltner (Drums)
Louis Kabok (Bass Guitar)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Taj Mahal - World Music

Taj Mahal emerged on the music scene at the tail end of the '60s as one of the new breed of bluesman, garnering critical accolades and the admiration of fellow musicians (like the Rolling Stones who featured him in their TV special "Rock n Roll Circus"). His first four albums ("Taj Mahal," "Natch'l Blues," "Real Thing," & "Giant Step/De Ole Folks At Home") are all straight ahead blues and are currently in print. Mahal then began to incorporate other African -influenced music forms into his blues, starting with reggae on "Mo' Roots" (which, also, is still in print). Other styles like Calypso, African, and Salsa crept into the mix on a series of fine records from the '70s which are now, regrettably, ALL out print. This CD, "World Music" offers a compilation of some of the best tracks from those albums, as well as the aforementioned "Mo' Roots." When you hear how great the mix of styles comes off, you will scratch your head and wonder why the rest of this great music isn't available. It's lovely and soulful and totally unique. The albums these cuts are culled from are, primarily, "Music Keeps Me Together," "Mo' Roots," and "Recycling the Blues and Other Related Stuff." Two other fine Taj world music titles, "Music Fuh Ya (Musica Para Tu)" and "Evolution (the Most Recent)" are available as imports. The other titles, "Satisfied and Tickled Too," "Happy Just To Be Like I Am," and "Ooh So Good 'n' Blues" are still out of print. As it does not look like they will be readily available here in the States any time soon, this collection is about the best you will find of one of a great American musician's most fertile period. - from

Journey with Taj to the roots of his ancestors via the Caribbean, West Indies, and Africa. Each song weaves a story painted with Taj’s “Pan-African” rhythms, style and charm; like soothing island breezes full of warm memories. Included liner notes featuring an explanation of each song by Taj. Digitally remastered. - from Taj's website

Artist: Taj Mahal (aka Henry Saint Clair Fredericks)
Album: World Music
Year: 1993
Label: Sony/Columbia (Dig. remastered)
Runtime: 54:43

1.  When I Feel the Sea Beneath My Soul (Taj Mahal) 3:07
2.  My Ancestors (Taj Mahal) 4:05
3.  Slave Driver (Bob Marley) 2:43
4.  West Indian Revelation (Taj Mahal) 6:59
5.  Kalimba (Taj Mahal) 1:40
6.  Desperate Lover (Keith Anderson) 2:46
7.  Clara "St. Kitts Woman" (Taj Mahal) 4:03
8.  Cajun Waltz (Adapted Taj Mahal) 6:04
9.  Roll, Turn, Spin (Taj Mahal) 4:45
10.  Johnny Too Bad (The Slickers) 3:16
11.  Brown Eyed Handsome Man (Chuck Berry) 3:44
12.  Blackjack Davey (Taj Mahal) 3:39
13.  Music Keeps Me Together (Earl Lindo) 3:39
14.  When I Feel the Sea Beneath My Soul (Reprise) (Taj Mahal) 3:05

Taj Mahal (Guitar, Vocal)
Merle Saunders (Keyboards)
others unknown

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Paul Motian Trio - Sound of Love

This live 1995 recording from New York's Village Vanguard club features drummer Paul Motian, guitarist Bill Frisell, and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano turning in a stellar set of jazz covers and Motian originals (this is the same trio the drummer led in the late '80s and recorded high-profile tributes to Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, and Tin Pan Alley with). As the premium sound quality of the recording makes clear, this trio had an almost telepathic rapport on stage, inspiring each other in both ensemble playing and solo flights. This kind of hand-in-glove chemistry is certainly due in part to the group's many stints on the road, but also comes from the individual player's complimentary styles: Frisell and Lovano (albeit less subtly) both dig into the structure of the songs, producing clever and dynamic statements, while Motian contains the proceedings with his steady, yet elastic time keeping and provocative accents. The covers here include extended readings of Monk's "Misterioso" and Charles Mingus' beautiful ballad "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love," in addition to a loose and bittersweet rendition of the jazz standard "Good Morning Heartache." Motian balances out the set with originals like the thorny, Latin rhythms-based "Mumbo Jumbo," the lightly swinging waltz number "Once Around the Park," and the dark-hewn, yet beguiling closer "Play." This is a great recording of some of the best jazz combo playing from the '80s to 2000. - by Stephen Cook, AMG

Artist: Paul Motian Trio
Album: Sound of Love
Year: 1995
Label: Winter & Winter (1997)
Runtime: 59:27

1.  Misterioso (Thelonious Monk) 13:27
2.  Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love (Charles Mingus) 9:13
3.  Mumbo Jumbo (Paul Motian) 7:31
4.  Once Around The Park (Paul Motian) 6:52
5.  Good Morning Heartache (Ervin Drake/Dan Fisher/Irene Higginbotham) 8:59
6.  Epistrophy (Kenny Clarke/Thelonious Monk) 7:15
7.  Play (Paul Motian) 6:07

Paul Motian (Drums)
Bill Frisell (Guitar)
Joe Lovano (Tenor Saxophone)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

George Dalaras - Live & Unplugged

This is greek music at its peak. No other greek artist performs, sings, creates, and expresses the greek spirit like George Dalaras. He is a national treasure. His pathos, and genuine flow of talent is definetly exhibited in this wonderful cd. - by Labrini Delaveris,

I've had this CD over a year now and it's been a favorite of my family. Along with Haris Alexiou, George Dalaras really conveys the spirit of what is so wonderful about Greek music. So get this CD, and site down with a glass of wine (or ouzo, if you're adventurous) and let the music take you away! - by Thomas Tosh,

Artist: George Dalaras
Album: Live & Unplugged (at the Alte Oper Frankfurt)
Year: 1998
Label: Tropical Music
Runtime: 70:08

1.  Tribute To G. Zambetas (Adapted by G. Dalaras) 3:11
2.  My Joy Is Just a Tiny Bit (Stavros Kouyioumtzis) 3:25
3.  If There's a Reason (Panos Katsimichas) 3:09
4.  Reticent Words (Traditional)  3:19
5.  Agrigento (Giorgos Zikas) 3:57
6.  Voyage to Kythira (Eleni Karaindrou) 3:57
7.  Your Multiform Reflection (Argiris Bakirtzis) 2:24
8.  Heavy Swell (Thanos Mikroutsikos/Nikos Kavadias) 2:26
9.  Your Bengalese Eyes (Stamos Semsis/Michalis Bourboulis) 4:10
10.  The Ballad of Senses and Illusions (Manos Hadjidakis/Aris Davarakis) 2:21
11.  The Sheltering Harbour (Giorgos Andreou) 3:02
12.  Fate (Vassilis Dimitirou) 3:02
13.  I've Been Raffled Off (Giorgos Zikas) 4:54
14.  Your Eyelashes Shine (Markos Vamvakaris) 1:57
15.  The Sorceress of Arabia (Vassilis Tsitsanis) 3:24
16.  Dui Dui (Traditional) 4:41
17.  I Gave Him a Corn (Ochalta Valerio Solano) 5:54
18.  Voices (Alexandros Karozas) 5:42
19.  Wooden Horse (Alexandros Karozas/Julie R. Dennis) 5:04

George Dalaras (Vocals, Guitar, Bouzouki, Tzoura, Baglama, Oud)
Anastasia Moutsatsou (Vocals)
Kostas Ganoselis (Piano)
Philippos Tsemperoulis (Flute, Saxophone, Clarinet, Caval, Ney)
Makis Mavropoulos (Bouzouki)
Manolis Karantinis (Bouzouki)
Christos Zervas (Guitar, Baglama, Laouto, Oud)
Thanasis Sofras (Double Bass)
Heracles Vamvatsikas (Accordeon)
Apostolis Anthinos (Percussion)
Nektarios Vassiliou (Percussion)
Joan Faulkner (Vocals) - 18,19
Alexandros Karozas (Bouzouki) - 18,19
Shankar Lai (Tablas)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Laszlo Des & Elemer Balazs Quartet - Contemporary Gregorian

Contemporary Gregorian allies two different genres and originates a third one from a four member singer group and a free-style jazz-quartet. It mingles the music of the middle ages, the renaissance with the genres of the 21st century, the previous inspires the latter. We can find the plain chant Gregorian from the 7th century to the polyphonic organs of the 16th century and also the motettas of the renaissance. Jazz improvisations are answering and keeping the solos up. That mix gave birth for the Contemporary Gregorian. - Product info

Artist: Laszlo Des & Elemer Balazs Quartet and Voces4 Ensemble
Album: Contemporary Gregorian
Year: 2005
Label: Sony/BMG
Runtime: 53:39

1.  Te laudamus Domine (milánói ambrozián ének) 7:29 
2.  Tecum principium (milánói ambrozián ének) 8:10 
3.  Vidimus stellam (Magnus Liber Organi) 9:35 
4.  Costanzo Festa: Lamentatio prima 10:53 
5.  O Virgo splendens (Llibre vermell de Montserrat) 7:20 
6.  Thomas Stoltzer: Ave maris stella 6:41 
7.  Orlande de Lassus: Carmina chromatico 3:27 

Laszlo Des (Saxophones)
Jozsef Balazs (Piano)
Matyas Szandai (Double Bass)
Elemer Balazs (Drums)
Barnabas Hegyi (Contratenor)
Csaba Gyulai (Tenor)
Zoltan Mizsei (Baritone)
Andras Demjen (Bass)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Holly Cole - Blame It on My Youth

Holly Cole's debut recording is a delight. Although she infuses a variety of standards with sensuality (including "If I Were a Bell," "On the Street Where You Live," "Honeysuckle Rose" and "I'll Be Seeing You"), she is also clearly laughing at her image at the same time. Joined by pianist Aaron Davis and bassist David Piltch with guest appearances by violinist Johnny Frigo (on two songs) and bass clarinetist Robert Stevenson (for one), Cole's interpretations of the mostly veteran material are both haunting and ironic, making this a memorable and surprisingly original outing. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Before Holly turned her interpretative skills to material by Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, and the Beatles, the Holly Cole Trio (with David Piltch on bass and Aaron Davis on piano) performed mostly standards, but performing classics didn't stop their knack for turning songs inside out. Oldies like "If I Were a Bell" and "Honeysuckle Rose" get irresistibly swinging arrangements with a delightfully unorthodox fiddle, "Smile" is given a stark pop edge, and "Trust in Me," from "The Jungle Book," is given a bossa-nova-inspired treatment. Holly's gift for pop vocals are used to perfection on "Calling You," now one of her signature tunes, and Tom Waits contributed a new composition, the lush and jazzy "Purple Avenue." The strongest moment? Holly turns the sweet "The Street Where You Live" from "My Fair Lady" into a dark and haunting narrative (Holly has said in interviews that this song always seemed to her like the story of a stalker). The unique intro and always flawless vocal inspires chills with every listen. The weakest moment? Well, it depends on your mood, but the ultra-slow arrangement and drunken slurr of a vocal on "I'll Be Seeing You" can occasionally be a difficult listen. It's a small price to pay, however, on a collection as original and polished as this. - by John Jones,

Artist: Holly Cole Trio
Album: Blame It on My Youth
Year: 1991
Label: Manhattan (1992)
Runtime: 38:06

1.  Trust in Me (Richard Sherman/Robert Sherman) 3:23
2.  I'm Gonna Laugh You Right out of My Life (Joseph McCarthy/Cy Coleman) 2:37
3.  If I Were a Bell (Frank Loesser) 2:17
4.  Smile (Charlie Chaplin/John Turner/Geoff Parsons) 4:13
5.  Purple Avenue (Tom Waits) 3:58
6.  Calling You (Bob Telson) 4:38
7.  God Will (Lyle Lovett) 3:11
8.  On the Street Where You Live (Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe) 5:33
9.  Honeysuckle Rose (Andy Razaf/Thomas Waller) 2:20
10.  I'll Be Seeing You (Sammy Fain/Irving Kahal) 5:53

Holly Cole (Vocals)
Aaron Davis (Piano)
David Piltch (Double Bass)
Johnny Frigo (Violin) - 3,9
Robert W. Stevenson (Bass Clarinet) - 8

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Joe Henderson - The Standard Joe

For at least his fourth recording in six years heading a pianoless trio, the great tenor Joe Henderson (along with bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Al Foster) is heard on his own "Inner Urge," an original blues, two lengthy versions of "Body and Soul" and three other jazz standards. This Italian import is particularly recommended to listeners not that familiar with Henderson's playing, for he brings new life to these often overplayed compositions. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Joe Henderson
Album: The Standard Joe
Year: 1991
Label: Red Records (1992)
Runtime: 69:49

1.  Blue Bossa (Kenny Dorham) 9:21
2.  Inner Urge (Joe Henderson) 9:43
3.  Body and Soul (Take 1) (Frank Eyton/Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour) 12:48
4.  Take The A Train (Billy Strayhorn) 8:46
5.  Round Midnight (Bernie Hanighen/Thelonious Monk/Cootie Williams) 8:50
6.  Blues in F (In'n Out) (Joe Henderson) 5:16
7.  Body and Soul (Take 2) (Frank Eyton/Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour) 15:05

Joe Henderson (Tenor Saxophone)
Rufus Reid (Double Bass)
Al Foster (Drums)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Clark Terry & Chico O'Farrill - Spanish Rice

Clark Terry joined forces with Cuban bandleader Chico O'Farrill for these 1966 studio session, which consist almost exclusively of Latin tunes. Although there are a number of all-stars present in addition to Terry, including trumpeters Joe Newman, Ernie Royal, and Snooky Young, along with guitarists Everett Barksdale and Barry Galbraith, the solos are all by Terry, so there is little interaction in these brief charts. Terry is in top form, as always, with his rich flügelhorn in "Angelitos Negros" and his fat-toned trumpet in an original blues called "Joonji." Terry and O'Farrill collaborated on the narrative comic original "Spanish Rice," though it isn't particularly memorable. Terry's modification of the lyrics to "Happiness Is" salutes a number of fellow jazz greats (particularly his impression of Louis Armstrong's singing), though the anonymous vocal group that accompanies him is quite forgettable. This is a fun recording that had the potential to be a memorable one, but it falls a bit short. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Clark Terry & Chico O'Farrill
Album: Spanish Rice
Year: 1966
Label: Impulse! (2004)
Runtime: 33:47

1.  Peanut Vendor (Moises Simons/Marion Sunshine/L. Wolfe Gilbert) 2:18
2.  Angelitos Negros (Manuel Alvarez Maciste/Andres Eloy Blanco) 2:41
3.  El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernandez) 2:12
4.  Joonji (Clark Terry) 3:37
5.  Que Sera (Tito Puente) 2:45
6.  Mexican Hat Dance (O. Paul/Felipe A. Partichela) 2:42
7.  Spanish Rice (Clark Terry/Chico O'Farrill) 2:47
8.  Say Si Si (Ernesto Lecuona/Francia Luban/Al Stillman) 2:30
9.  Macarena (La Virgen de la Macarena) (Bernardino Bautista Monterde) 3:02
10.  Tin Tin Deo (Gil Fuller/Chano Pozo) 2:46
11.  Contigo En La Distancia (Cesar Portillo de la Luz)  3:02
12.  Happiness Is (Paul Evans/Paul Parnes) 3:20

Clark Terry (Trumpet, Flugelhorn and Vocals)
Chico O'Farrill (Arranged, Conducted and Vocals)
Joe Newman (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Ernie Royal (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Snooky Young (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Everett Barksdale (Guitar)
Barry Galbraith (Guitar)
George Duvivier (Double Bass)
Julio Cruz (Percussion)
Frank Malabe (Percussion)
Chano Pozo (Percussion)
Bobby Rosengarden (Percussion)
Grady Tate (Drums)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jai Uttal - Footprints

The jazz-oriented Triloka Records successfully entered the worldbeat realm with Jai Uttal's Footprints, a hauntingly tranquil CD that finds the student of Indian great Ali Akbar Khan combining Indian music with American pop. The largely instrumental Footprints isn't modern secular Indian pop, but rather, is best described as an early-'90s approach to traditional Indian spiritual music. Soulfully blending tradition and technology, Uttal lets loose on acoustic instruments like the dotar, the harmonium and katrals as well as electronic synthesizers. Uttal has inspired company in jazz trumpeter great Don Cherry (who is best known for his assocation with avant-garde innovator Ornette Coleman), vocalist Lakshimi Shankar, tabla player Daniel Paul Karp and bassist Jerry Watts. - by Alex Henderson, AMG

Artist: Jai Uttal
Album: Footprints
Year: 1990
Label: Triloka
Runtime: 54:24

1.  Footprints 4:06 
2.  Caravan 4:53 
3.  Andobar Island 4:17 
4.  Raghupati 10:57 
5.  Madzoub 7:03 
6.  Pahari 6:12 
7.  Snowview 4:50 
8.  Taking the Dust 2:31 
9.  Raghupati II 3:45 
10.  Bus Has Come 5:46 
All songs written by Jai Uttal

Jai Uttal (Dotar, Harmomium, Kartal, Chimta, Bells, Shakers, Ektar, Gopichand, Gubgubbi, Swaramandala, Guitar, Synthesizer, Samples and Vocals)
Daniel Paul Karp (Tabla)
Jerry Watts (Bass Guitar)
Don Cherry (Pocket Trumpet)
Lakshmi Shankar (Vocals)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mose Allison - Gimcracks and Gewgaws

The older Mose Allison gets, the sharper his mind becomes, the more idiosyncratic his music sounds, and the more pleasure the aficionado gets for spending the better part of an hour with his latest stuff. By this time, the 70-year old philosopher from Tippo, Miss. had sharpened his wit and insight on life to an even keener edge, musing wryly on materialism, technology, aging, death, even his own name ("MJA, Jr."). The tunes seem to have disappeared almost entirely but it doesn't matter; the lyrics are so damned clever and as hilarious as ever, even when they are obviously sequels to previous masterworks like "Your Mind Is On Vacation" ("What's With You") or "Young Man's Blues" ("Old Man Blues"). Mose's piano style by now has been pared down to its unique essentials, a ceaseless, swinging linear flow drawing from the three Bs -- Bach, Bartok and bop -- and his voice has barely aged since his Prestige days. Mark Shim muses ably on tenor sax now and then, and guitarist Russell Malone ranges all over the stylistic lot between R&B and jazz. At this rate, waiting four years or so between albums in the '90s, Allison has kept his creative batteries fresh every time out. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Mose Allison
Album: Gimcracks and Gewgaws
Year: 1997
Label: Blue Note (1998)
Runtime: 43:59

1.  MJA Jr. (Mose Allison) 3:30
2.  Gimcracks And Gewgaws (Mose Allison) 5:11
3.  Numbers On Paper (Mose Allison) 2:32
4.  Cruise Control (Mose Allison) 2:56
5.  St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) 4:01
6.  Mockingbird (Mose Allison) 2:59
7.  The More You Get (Mose Allison) 2:51
8.  Texanna (Mose Allison) 2:25
9.  What Will It Be (Mose Allison) 3:08
10.  So Tired (Mose Allison/Shapiro Bernstein/Russ Morgan) 4:04
11.  Somebody Gonna Have To Move (Mose Allison) 1:54
12.  Fires Of Spring (Mose Allison) 3:27
13.  What's With You (Mose Allison) 3:29
14.  Old Man Blues (Mose Allison) 1:32

Mose Allison (Piano and Vocals)
Paul Motian (Drums)
Ratzo Harris (Double Bass)
Mark Shim (Tenor Saxophone)
Russell Malone (Guitar)


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