Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Archie Shepp & Horace Parlan - Mama Rose II

A particular greatness in the creative work of Archie Shepp goes to his duo recordings which can be found as a highlight on this album. Next to traditionals and standards of Ellington, Monk and Bechet it’s needless to say that Shepps legendary “Mama Rose” is not missing on this double album. Recorded October 24, 1987 at Marquisats, Annecy, France. - Product info

Artist: Archie Shep & Horace Parlan
Album: Mama Rose in Concert CD2
Year: 1987
Label: West Wind (2000)
Runtime: 59:33

1.  Make Me a Pallet on the Floor (Sidney Bechet) 9:03
2.  Ruby, My Dear (Thelonious Monk) 12:12
3.  Nobody Knows When You're Down And Out (Traditional) 9:01
4.  Trouble In Mind (Traditional) 7:21
5.  Deep River (Traditional) 11:54
6.  Sophisticated Lady (Duke Ellington) 10:00

Archie Shepp (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone, Vocals)
Horace Parlan (Piano)

Archie Shepp & Horace Parlan - Mama Rose I

A particular greatness in the creative work of Archie Shepp goes to his duo recordings which can be found as a highlight on this album. Next to traditionals and standards of Ellington, Monk and Bechet it’s needless to say that Shepps legendary “Mama Rose” is not missing on this double album. Recorded October 24, 1987 at Marquisats, Annecy, France. - Product info

Artist: Archie Shep & Horace Parlan
Album: Mama Rose in Concert CD1
Year: 1987
Label: West Wind (2000)
Runtime: 51:59

1.  Arrival (Horace Parlan) 10:22
2.  Backwater Blues (Bessie Smith) 9:02
3.  Round About Midnight (Thelonious Monk) 11:03
4.  Mama Rose (Archie Shepp) 7:09
5.  How Long Blues (Leroy Carr) 7:18
6.  Steam (Archie Shepp) 7:02

Archie Shepp (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone, Vocals)
Horace Parlan (Piano)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dexter Gordon - There Will Never Be Another You

This recording is from a live date at the Montmartre Jazz Club in Copenhagen in the late Sixties, with an illustrious rhythm section of ex-pats Kenny Drew and Tootie Heath, along with Danish ringer (let’s make that über-ringer/monster) Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen on bass. These sessions, from the London-based independent jazz label Black Lion, aren’t as well-known as Dexter’s releases on Blue Note or Prestige — and that’s unfortunate, because these discs feature top-notch, fleet-footed Dexter at his swaggering behind-the-beat best. (“Fleet-footed” AND “behind the beat”? - by Kelly Bucheger,

Fans of Dexter Gordon might well want to add this CD to their collection. Gordon is featured, of course, on his mellow but swinging tenor sax and is is backed by a first-rate rhythm section made up of Kenny Drew on piano, Nils Pederson on bass, and Al Heath on drums. There are five tracks on this CD,all of considerable length. Four are standards and one track (Doxy) was composed by fellow tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. Gordon spent a great portion of his musical career in Europe and for for much of it Copenhagen and its club Montmarte was his home base so it is fitting that someone there was wise enough to tape this session for posterity. Unfortunately, the rather meager liner notes do not elaborate on this particular date on July 20, 1967. The notes do, however, provide a rather sketchy overview of Gordon's life and musical career in Europe and in America, information that is probably well understood already by those attracted to Gordon's rich and flowing style of playing. This CD is produced in Portugal on the Jazz Time label and is available at a reasonably low price. The audio quality is generally very good throughout the five pieces. Although on one or two tracks there is some crowd noise and brief applause, these sounds in no way detract from the overall excellent listening experience. For anyone who enjoys interpretations of standards played with some emotion and a few suggestions of 1950s bop influences, this is an album that might well appeal to you. Since purchasing it recently, I have listened to it repeatedly and enjoyed it each time, both for Gordon's masterful tenor sax as well as the solo contributions of the other three musicians in the group, especially Kenny Drew on piano, who accompanies brilliantly on all tracks. Highly recommended for all fans of the great Dexter Gordon. - by karlojazz, 

Artist: Dexter Gordon
Album: There Will Never Be Another You (Live at the Montmarte, Copenhagen)
Year: 1967
Label: Jazz Time (1996)
Runtime: 54:02

1.  Come Rain Or Come Shine (Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen) 10:59
2.  But Not For Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 14:56
3.  Doxy (Sonny Rollins) 7:10
4.  For All We Know (Fred Coots/Sam Lewis) 8:37
5.  There Will Never Be Another You (Harry Warren/Irving Gordon) 12:19

Dexter Gordon (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Drew (Piano)
Niels-Henning Oersted-Pedersen (Double Bass)
Al Heath (Drums)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Zoot Sims - Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers

Along with his album with Count Basie (Basie and Zoot) during the same period, this is one of Sims' most exciting recordings of his career. Greatly assisted by pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Grady Tate, he explores ten songs written by George and Ira Gershwin. Somehow the magic was definitely present and, whether it be stomps such as "The Man I Love," "Lady Be Good," and "I Got Rhythm" or warm ballads (including "I've Got a Crush on You" and "Embraceable You"), Zoot Sims is heard at the peak of his powers. A true gem. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Zoot Sims never made a bad album, but he did make a great number that were merely very good. This one, however, is excellent. Sims, Peterson, and Pass all solo beautifully, and the bass and drum team of Mraz and Tate are behind them every step of the way. The two standout tracks are 'I Got Rhythm', where Sims follows an explosive Peterson solo with full-throated honks and excursions into his beautiful upper register; and 'Embraceable You', when Zoot proves that only Webster, Getz, and Hawkins can challenge him for beauty of tone. That said, there isn't a bad track on this CD, and it will give any Zoot fan -- any jazz fan -- a great deal of pleasure. - by E. Hawkins,

Artist: Zoot Sims
Album: Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers
Year: 1975 (Pablo)
Label: OJC (20-bit remastered, 1990)
Runtime: 49:53

1.  The Man I Love 6:24 
2.  How Long Has This Been Going On 2:14 
3.  Lady Be Good 4:36 
4.  I've Got A Crush On You 2:58 
5.  I Got Rhythm 7:05 
6.  Embraceable You 4:48 
7.  'S Wonderful 4:38 
8.  Someone To Watch Over Me 3:43 
9.  Isn't It A Pity 3:25 
10.  Summertime (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin/Dubose Heyward) 5:23
11.  They Can't Take That Away From Me 4:32 
All compositions by George and Ira Gershwin, except 10th

Zoot Sims (Tenor Saxophone)
Oscar Peterson (Piano)
Joe Pass (Guitar)
George Mraz (Double Bass)
Grady Tate (Drums)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Eddi Reader - Simple Soul

Glasgow native Eddi Reader returns for her fourth solo album of ingratiating, smart songs, most of them seeking answers about what we're supposed to make of this big, ol' sweet mess of a world. Acoustic and folk-based, Simple Soul gleans much of its power from its stripped-down production, which allows for the up-close immediacy of Reader's quiet, earnest vocals, which are at times reminiscent of Maria Muldaur ("Wolves") and Edie Brickell ("Adam"). Alternately meditative ("Simple Soul"), reflective ("Lucky Penny"), and restless ("The Wanting Kind"), Reader especially shines on "I Felt a Soul Move Through Me," about the death of her father, one of several songs she co-wrote with Boo Hewerdine. But she's impressive as an interpreter, too, proving unforgettable on "Footsteps Fall," which correctly declares, "The loneliest sound of all / Is the sound of love / Through a stranger's wall." Somehow, she manages to make all this sadness uplifting, as a testament to the resiliency of the soul, and to the power of music. Soothing salve, indeed. -by Alanna Nash

She sings from the soul, very few performers these days have this talent. Eddi stays close to her roots, a special person with a love for pure music. - by James Wood

Artist: Eddi Reader
Album: Simple Soul
Year: 2001
Labe: Rough Trade
Runtime: 44:35

1.  Wolves (Eddi Reader/Boo Hewerdine/Teddy Borowiecki) 4:31
2.  The Wanting Kind (Eddi Reader/Boo Hewerdine) 3:55
3.  Lucky Penny (Eddi Reader/Boo Hewerdine) 3:30
4.  Simple Soul (Eddi Reader/Boo Hewerdine) 4:19
5.  Adam (Roy Dodds/Adam Kirk/Boo Hewerdine/Eddi Reader) 4:34
6.  Footsteps Fall (Boo Hewerdine/Bjergfeldt) 2:46
7.  Blues Run The Game (Jackson C. Frank) 5:04
8.  I Felt A Soul Move Through Me (Roy Dodds/Henderson/Boo Hewerdine/Eddi Reader) 3:52
9.  Prodigal Daughter (Eddi Reader/Boo Hewerdine) 3:41
10.  Eden (Eddi Reader) 5:04
11.  The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Moon (Boo Hewerdine/Eriksen) 3:19

Eddi Reader (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar)
Boo Hewerdine (Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals, Glockenspiel, Toy Keyboard, Tanbura, Harmonium)
Roy Dodds (Drums and Percussion) - 1,2,4,5,7-9,11
Teddy Borowiecki (Keyboards, Accordion, Indian Harmonium, Whirly Tube, Tanbura) - 1-3,5-9
Tim Harries (Bass Guitar) - 1,4,5,7,11
Adam Kirk (Dobro, Acoustic and Electric Guitar) - 5,7,10
Johnny Scott (Pedal Steel Guitar, Acoustic Guitar) - 1,5,7
Dawson Salah Miller (Frame Drum, Udu) - 8,9
Simon Edwards (Guitaron Bass) - 8
Dylan Bates (Violin) - 8

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Roy Ayers - Stoned Soul Picnic

Stoned Soul Picnic dates from the earlier part of Roy Ayers' career as a leader, before he delved heavily into R&B and funk fusions and instead concentrated more on soul-jazz grooves. Ayers leads a septet including such big names as pianist Herbie Hancock, altoist Gary Bartz, bassist Ron Carter, and flutist Hubert Laws. The Laura Nyro-penned title track foreshadows Ayers' later forays beyond the boundaries of pure jazz, and the group keeps the groove percolating nicely throughout, making Stoned Soul Picnic one of Ayers' better jazz-oriented outings. - by Steve Huey, AMG

Stoned Soul Picnic is vibraphonist Roy Ayers' third and probably best solo album, made in 1968 while he was still a part of Herbie Mann's group. Ayers stands clearly in the shadow of Bobby Hutcherson on this primarily modally-oriented date, sounding nothing like the groove-meister he would become known as later in the 1970s. Producer Mann, always an underrated talent scout, assembles an especially exceptional septet for Ayers here with Gary Bartz on alto sax, arranger Charles Tolliver on trumpet/flugelhorn, Hubert Laws on flute, Herbie Hancock on piano (and probably uncredited organ on the title cut), Ron Carter or Miroslav Vitous on bass and Grady Tate on drums.The program is a typical late 1960s menu, heavy on such Top 40 pop covers as the dated "Stoned Soul Picnic," "For Once In My Life" and "What The People Say." What sets these and the interesting, if unsuccessful, cover of Jobim's "Wave" apart are Tolliver's rather ingenious arrangements. Tolliver seems to tear apart the constraints of these duds (although "Picnic" is beyond hope) by dramatically slowing down the melodies, providing Ayers the time and space to set the mood (Tolliver correctly recognizes Ayers's strengths with ballads) and punctuating with nicely considered horn statements in between. It is the two modal originals here — Ayers lovely "A Rose For Cindy" and Tolliver's waltz, "Lil's Paradise" — that make this disc worth hearing. Ayers plays some of his finest-ever work on these pieces. You're sure to hear something new and different in these pieces every time. Hancock completists will also be especially pleased with the pianist's performance here (and on "What The People Say" too). Except for the nods toward late 1960s pop-jazz conventions, Stoned Soul Picnic is a marvelous disc well worth investigating. With so much of Ayers's West Coast work of the 1960s (especially with Jack Wilson) lost in limbo, this disc serves as a cogent reminder of the strength of the vibraphonist's chops. And groove lovers might be happily surprised hearing what Ayers was up to before the groove. - by Douglas Payne,

Artist: Roy Ayers
Album: Stoned Soul Picnic
Year: 1968
Label: Atlantic (Remastered, 2005)
Runtime: 38:40

1.  A Rose For Cindy (Roy Ayers) 9:01
2.  Stoned Soul Picnic (Laura Nyro) 2:53
3.  Wave (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 8:02
4.  For Once In My Life (Ronald Miller/Orlando Murden) 3:55
5.  Lil's Paradise (Charles Tolliver) 6:37
6.  What The People Say (Edwin Birdsong) 8:10

Roy Ayers (Vibes)
Herbie Hancock (Piano)
Grady Tate (Drums)
Gary Bartz (Alto Saxophone) - 1,2
Charles Tolliver (Trumpet and Flugelhorn) - 1,2
Hubert Laws (Flute) - 1,2
Ron Carter (Double Bass) - 1,2
Miroslav Vitous (Double Bass) - 3-6

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grant Green - Alive!

Alive! is the hardest funk LP Grant Green recorded during the later phase of his career, capturing a storming gig at Newark's Cliché Lounge. The sweaty club atmosphere adds something to the music that's difficult to pin down, yet unmistakably present -- a certain organic quality that isn't as noticeable on Green's studio albums of the time. Moreover, Green sounds more like the captain of his ship, with greater assurance in his musical direction and more strut on the R&B material. Drummer Idris Muhammad is a monster in this live setting, and he helps push Green (plus the rest of the band, which includes organist Ronnie Foster) even farther with his kinetic, continually evolving funk rhythms. That's especially true on the swaggering Kool & the Gang cover "Let the Music Take Your Mind," but Don Covay's "Sookie, Sookie" grooves almost as powerfully. What's most surprising about the set, though, is that Green finds ways to work in bits of the modal style he had been pursuing in the mid-'60s on slower pieces like the Earl Neal Creque ballad "Time to Remember" and "Down Here on the Ground," which was later sampled by jazz-rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest. Green's continued interest in modal jazz is reinforced on the CD reissue, which contains a spacy, grooving cover of Herbie Hancock's classic "Maiden Voyage" as a bonus track (the other two are contemporary R&B covers "Hey, Western Union Man" and "It's Your Thing"). Still, this is the most convincing and consistent Green had been as a funkster and, while nearly all of his albums from the early '70s feature at least some worthwhile material for acid jazz and beat-sampling junkies, Alive! is probably the best place to start. - by Steve Huey, AMG

Artist: Grant Green
Album: Alive!
Year: 1970
Label: Blue Note (1993)
Runtime: 37:56

1.  Let The Music Take Your Mind (Kool & the Gang/Gene Redd) 8:42
2.  Time to Remember (Earl Neal Creque) 11:19
3.  Sookie, Sookie (Don Covay/Steve Cropper) 11:10
4.  Down Here on the Ground (Gale Garnett/Lalo Schifrin) 6:44

Grant Green (Guitar)
Claude Bartee (Tenor Saxophone)
William Bivens (Vibraphone)
Ronnie Foster (Organ)
Idris Muhammad (Drums)
Joseph Armstrong (Conga)
Earl Neal Creque (Organ) - 2,4

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bobby Hutcherson - Farewell Keystone

Recorded a year before San Francisco's legendary club Keystone Korner (which was open for 11 years) closed, this live set features tenor-saxophonist Harold Land with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson (who co-led a group with him in the 1970's) and trumpeter Oscar Brashear (who has often teamed up with Land during the past 15 years). With pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Higgins completing the sextet, it is not surprising that the music is hard bop-oriented and of consistent high quality. Originally out on Theresa, the Evidence CD reissue adds a lengthy version of Harold Land's "Mapenzi" to the original five-song program, all of which are originals by the musicians. Recommended. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Bobby Hutcherson
Album: Farewell Keystone (live)
Year: 1982
Label: Theresa (1988)
Runtime: 52:23

1.  Crescent Moon (Billy Higgins) 7:14
2.  Short Stuff (Harold Land) 6:50
3.  Prism (Buster Williams) 6:59
4.  Starting Over (Bobby Hutcherson) 10:55
5.  Rubber Man (Cedar Walton) 6:55
6.  Mapenzi (Harold Land) 13:30
Bobby Hutcherson (Vibraphone)
Oscar Brashear (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Harold Land (Tenor Saxophone)
Cedar Walton (Piano)
Buster Williams (Double Bass)
Billy Higgins (Drums)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sonny Stitt - Featuring Howard McGhee

This Jazz Life CD combines together five selections from a quintet session featuring altoist Sonny Stitt, trumpeter Howard McGhee, pianist Walter Bishop, bassist Tommy Potter and drummer Kenny Clarke (three boppish blues and a Stitt feature on "Lover Man") with another five selections from a different Stitt-McGhee quintet featuring Junior Mance on piano, George Tucker on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums. - Product info

Artist: Sonny Stitt
Album: Featuring Howard McGhee
Year: 1961, 1967
Label: Jazz Life
Runtime: 54:47

1.  Night Work (Howard McGhee) 7:26
2.  Matter Horns (J. Eigel/Jungfrau) 10:43
3.  Shades of Blue (Howard McGhee) 5:05
4.  Don't Blame Me (Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh) 4:06
5.  Lover Man (Jimmy Davis/Jimmy Sherman/Roger Ramirez) 5:15
6.  Hello (Howard McGhee) 6:50
7.  The Sharp Edge (Howard McGhee) 5:56
8.  Cool (Howard McGhee) 2:55
9.  The Day After (Tom McIntosh) 2:06
10.  Topside (Howard McGhee) 4:21

Sonny Stitt (Alto Saxophone)
Howard McGhee (Trumpet)
Walter Bishop, Jr. (Piano) - 1,2,4-6
Tommy Potter (Double Bass) - 1,2,4-6
Kenny Clarke (Drums) - 1,2,4-6
Junior Mance (Piano) - 3,7-10
George Tucker (Double Bass) - 3,7-10
Jimmy Cobb (Drums) - 3,7-10

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Herbie Hancock - Secrets


Having long since established his funk credentials, Herbie Hancock continues the direction of Head Hunters and its U.S. successors here, welding himself to the groove on electric keyboards while Bennie Maupin again shines sardonic beams of light on a variety of reeds. In "Doin' It," the most successful track, Hancock makes a more overt bid for the dancefloor, for the tune is basically one long irresistible groove with a very commercial-sounding bridge. Again Hancock chooses to recompose one of his standards; "Cantelope [sic] Island" is almost unrecognizable converted into a sauntering, swaggering thing. A streamlining process has set in -- the drumming has been simplified, some of the old high-voltage drive has been muted -- yet there are still enough enjoyable, intelligently musical things happening here to hold a Hancock admirer's attention. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Another big seller, exactly in the same mold as Man-Child but not nearly as good. There are lots of guitar/bass vamps ("Swamp Rat") and mellow stylings ("People Music"), but it's all obvious and uncatchy ("Doin' It," with some simplistic vocals). The remake of "Canteloupe Island" exemplifies the project: a classic jazz composition diluted into a mediocre, repetitive funk tune. And for all the synth tracks, there's almost nothing novel or interesting going on, just lots of whooshing and bleating... The rhythm section sets the table, but there's nothing to eat. Hancock does switch to piano long enough to deliver a brilliant solo on Bennie Maupin's otherwise lackluster "Sansho Shima." The band is largely unchanged, but Ray Parker Jr. is on guitar and James Levi's on drums. - from

Artist: Herbie Hancock
Album: Secrets
Year: 1976
Label: Columbia/Sony (1988)
Runtime: 48:01

1.  Doin' It (Herbie Hancock/Ray Parker, Jr./Melvin Ragin) 8:03
2.  People Music (Herbie Hancock/Ray Parker, Jr./Melvin Ragin) 7:10
3.  Cantelope Island (Herbie Hancock) 7:06
4.  Spider (Herbie Hancock/Melvin Ragin/Paul Jackson) 7:20
5.  Gentle Thoughts (Herbie Hancock/Melvin Ragin) 7:04
6.  Swamp Rat (Herbie Hancock/Melvin Ragin/Paul Jackson) 6:25
7.  Sonsho Shima (Bennie Maupin) 4:49

Herbie Hancock (Keyborads)
Bennie Maupin (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone, Saxello, Lyricon and Bass Clarinet)
Wah Wah Watson (Guitar, Synthesizer, Bass Guitar and Vocals)
Ray Parker (Guitar, Backing Vocals)
James Levi (Drums)
Paul Jackson (Bass)
Kenneth Nash (Percussion)
James Gadson (Drums and Backing Vocals) - 1
Art Baldacci (Backing Vocals) - 1
Fred Dobbs (Backing Vocals) - 1
Don Kerr (Backing Vocals) - 1
Chris Mancini (Backing Vocals) - 1

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Freddie Hubbard - The Black Angel

Freddie Hubbard released The Black Angel in the same year as the landmark Miles Davis album Bitches Brew. Its obvious Hubbard wanted to appeal to the emerging crossover rock/jazz crowd of the era. The presence of bop, however, still permeated Hubbard's playing, unlike Miles who had long since dropped the form. The opening Hubbard composition "Spacetrack" contains fiery avant garde interplay between Hubbard, James Spaulding on alto and Kenny Barron's electric piano. Thanks to Spaulding and bassist Reggie Workman, much of the playing here maintains intensity. The other Hubbard penned originals, "Gittin Down" is an urgent hard swinging boogaloo and the ballad "Eclipse" features Spaulding on flute and Barron on piano. "Coral Keys" written by Walter Bishop, Jr. and Barron's "Black Angel have a Latin tinge highlighted by Spaulding's soaring flute and the congas of Carlos "Patato" Valdes. An enjoyable session leaving the impression Hubbard was preparing to take a different musical direction. - by Al Campbell, AMG

Recorded in 1970, this date by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard--with saxophonist-flutist James Spaulding, a young Kenny Barron on acoustic and electric piano, John Coltrane's bassist Reggie Workman, drummer Louis Hayes, and percussionist Carlos "Patato" Valdes--reflects a number of influences. The aural image of Miles Davis's In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew is imprinted on the 17-minute fusion excursion "Spacetrack," an electrically charged, multitempoed sound collage. The other tracks are more conventional. Barron's title tune swings with nice Afro-Cuban percussive tinges, as does Hubbard's "Gittin' Down" and "Coral Keys," written by piano giant Walter Bishop Jr. This pleasing set unveiled Hubbard's neglected jazz standard "Eclipse," a moving, moody tone poem highlighting Spaulding's plaintive flute lines, Workman's supple tones, Barron's beautiful piano comping, and Hubbard's overlooked ballad artistry. - by Eugene Holley Jr.,

Artist: Freddie Hubbard
Album: The Black Angel
Year: 1970
Label: Atlantic (1998)
Runtime: 45:35

1.  Spacetrack (Freddie Hubbard) 16:56
2.  Eclipse (Freddie Hubbard) 8:18
3.  The Black Angel (Kenny Barron) 8:19
4.  Gittin' Down (Freddie Hubbard) 6:40
5.  Coral Keys (Walter Bishop Jr.) 5:20

Freddie Hubbard (Trumpet)
Jimmy Spaulding (Alto Saxophone and Flute)
Kenny Barron (Piano and Electric Piano)
Reggie Workman (Double Bass)
Louis Hayes (Drums)
Carlos "Patato" Valdes (Congas and Maracas)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Oscar Peterson - Plays Count Basie

On the face of it, pianist Oscar Peterson (whose virtuosity always allowed him to play an infinite amount of notes) and Count Basie (who made inventive use of silence and space by emphasizing single rhythmic sounds) would seem to have had little in common. However they both swing, and there was a definite overlapping in their repertoire. Peterson's Basie tribute is a near-masterpiece. With guitarist Herb Ellis, bassist Ray Brown, and guest drummer Buddy Rich all playing quite sympathetically, Peterson's arrangements make the nine Basie-associated songs (along with Peterson's original "Blues for Basie") all sound quite fresh and lightly swinging. Quite a few of these renditions (particularly "Easy Does It," "9:20 Special," "Broadway," and "One O'Clock Jump") are instantly memorable. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Oscar Peterson was a great pianist to interpret Basie's repertoire: he had a great sense of swing and his virtuoso fingers could use the piano in the orchestral manner; aided by very compact group of Herb Ellis(g), Ray Brown (b) and Buddy Rich (dm) this album is everything I expected it to be... Admittedly, Oscar's fast fingering could get a bit mechanical and it occasionally happens on the faster swingers on this album, but the slower tracks make up for that small fault. There's a lot of feeling and beauty on this album, a must-have for all Basie and/or Peterson fans (Oscar's "Blues for Basie" is a good evidence for my claim). Also, I think this is mainstream jazz at its best. BTW - the Basie's songs from this album are not all written by Basie; this is a tribute to Basie's orchestra, not just to his noble Countness... by  Nikica Gilic,

Artist: Oscar Peterson
Album: Plays Count Basie
Year: 1955
Label: Verve (1993)
Total time: 45:11

1.  Lester Leaps In (Lester Young) 4:02
2.  Easy Does It (Sy Oliver/Trummy Young) 6:31
3.  9:20 Special (William Engvick/Earle Warren) 3:44
4.  Jumpin' At the Woodside (Count Basie) 5:45
5.  Blues For Basie (Oscar Peterson) 3:35
6.  Broadway (Billy Bird/Teddy McRae/Henri Woode) 4:33
7.  Blue And Sentimental (Count Basie/Mack David/Jerry Livingston) 2:30
8.  Topsy (Edgar Battle/Eddie Durham) 4:24
9.  One O'Clock Jump (Count Basie) 5:52
10.  Jive At Five (Count Basie/Harry "Sweets" Edison) 4:13

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Material - Hallucination Engine

By the mid-'90s, Material was simply another word for Bill Laswell, so as Laswell's fascination with ambient mysticism grew, so did Material's tendencies in that direction. After 1991's dark and reggae-inflected The Third Power, Hallucination Engine's long, spacy jams aren't exactly a dramatic departure, but the combination of Wayne Shorter and various North African elements is certainly interesting. In fact, the array of guest musicians is more diverse than ever: Trilok Gurtu, Jonas Hellborg, Zakir Hussain, Bootsy Collins -- the list goes on and on and even includes William Burroughs (who intones a hilarious list of "Words of Advice" over a churning mid-tempo funk groove). In his ambient mode, Laswell has been accused of turning too little music into too much track length, and there's some justice to those criticisms; here, "Black Light" and the unbelievably well-named "Eternal Drift" both plod along for far too long with far too little development. But that William Burroughs track kicks in just as you're about to fall asleep, and it's followed immediately by a very funky and very jazzy remix of "Cucumber Slumber." "The Hidden Garden/Naima" proposes an interesting juxtaposition of Arabic pop song and modal jazz, with dramatic and beautiful results, while "Shadows of Paradise" brings the album to a close with a gentle whimper, not a bang. - by Rick Anderson, AMG

This is an essential cd for any music fanatic. But, be forewarned: It is not for the meek of mind and soul, however. This is an intense experience. Bill Laswell put together an amazing ensemble of musicians for this album. It reads like a whos who of exotic musics: Nicky Skopelitis, Wayne Shorter, Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins, Shankar, Sly Dunbar, Jonas Hellborg, Zakir Hussain, Trilok Girtu--Get the message? This is an all star cast. Each piece takes the listener on a journey into their own mind. It is meditation for the hardcore music fan. This international affair will impress--nay--awe and inspire the true music buff. It even features a spoken word track by the late, great William S Burroughs. Words of Advice is a great track. Burroughs adds the proper dose of literary and comic repose to this dense musical mix. The mixture of jazz, funk, blues, rock, psychedelia and international sounds is enthralling. It is one of the deepest albums I have ever heard. - by George Schaefer,

Artist: Material (Bill Laswell)
Album: Hallucination Engine
Year: 1993
Label: Axiom (1994)
Runtime: 67:21

1.  Black Light (Bill Laswell/Wayne Shorter) 7:35
2.  Mantra (Bill Laswell/L. Shankar/Caroline) 8:46
3.  Ruins (Submutation Dub) (Bill Laswell) 8:58
4.  Eternal Drift (Bill Laswell/Nicky Skopelitis) 7:38
5.  Words of Advice (Bill Laswell/William Burroughs) 4:00
6.  Cucumber Slumber (Fluxus Mix) (Joe Zawinul/Alphonso Johnson) 7:32
7.  The Hidden Garden/Naima (Bill Laswell/Simon Shaheen/Nicky Skopelitis) 13:02
8.  Shadows of Paradise (Bill Laswell/L. Shankar/Nicky Skopelitis) 9:46

Bill Laswell (Bass Guitar, Loops, Beats, Samples)
Wayne Shorter (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone)
William S. Burroughs (Voice)
Simon Shaheen (Violin, Oud)
Liu Sola (Voice)
Nicky Skopelitis (Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Electric Sitar, Baglama)
Bernie Worrell (Electric Piano, Hammond Organ)
Bootsy Collins (Space Bass)
L. Shankar (Violin)
Sly Dunbar (Drum Kit)
Jeff Bova (Synthesizer)
Jihad Racy (Ney)
Jonas Hellborg (Acoustic Bass Guitar, Fretless Electric Bass)
Zakir Hussain (Tabla)
Trilok Gurtu (Tabla)
Vikku Vinayakram (Ghatam)
Fahim Dandan (Voice)
George Basil (Qanoun)
Michael Baklouk (Daff, Tambourine)
Aiyb Dieng (Chatan, Congas, Percussion)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wynton Marsalis - The Midnight Blues

The Midnight Blues is the fifth installment in his ongoing Standard Time series, where he offers his own interpretations of classic American pop, jazz and blues songs. Supported by pianist Eric Reed, bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Lewis Nash, as well as a 31-piece string orchestra, he runs through a number of standards -- "The Party's Over," "It Never Entered My Mind," "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home," "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" and "My Man's Gone Now" -- which are arranged and conducted by Bob Freedman, Marsalis' longtime collaborator. The album falls somewhere between Hot House Flowers and one of the early volumes of Standard Time, as it has a lush sound but remains quite idiosyncratic and quietly adventurous in its arrangements. The result is a lovely, albeit minor, addition to Marsalis' rich catalog. - by Leo Stanley, AMG

Artist: Wynton Marsalis
Album: The Midnight Blues (Standard Time Vol. 5)
Year: 1998
Label: Columbia
Runtime: 76:01

1.  The Party's Over (Betty Comden/Adolp Green/Jule Styne) 6:06
2.  You´re Blasé (Ord Hamilton / Bruce Sievier) 6:41
3.  After You've Gone (Henry Creamer/Turner Layton) 5:46
4.  Glad To Be Unhappy (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 7:47
5.  It Never Entered My Mind (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 6:09
6.  Baby, Won't You Please Come Home (Charles Warfield/Clarence Williams) 5:28
7.  I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) 5:59
8.  I Got Lost In Her Arms (Irving Berlin) 5:08
9.  Ballad of The Sad Young Men (Fran Landesman/Thomas Wolf) 5:50
10.  Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year (Frank Loesser) 4:32
11.  My Man's Gone Now (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin/Dubose Heyward/Dorothy Heyward) 4:37
12.  The Midnight Blues (Wynton Marsalis) 11:52

Wynton Marsalis (Trumpet)
Eric Reed (Piano)
Reginald Veal (Double Bass)
Lewis Nash (Drums)
Robert Freedman (Arranged, Conducted)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Steve Hackett - Darktown

More revealing than ever before and firmly autobiographical, DARKTOWN is as personal a Hackett album as you're likely to see. The usual impossibly big and haunting sounds are occasionally twinned with Ian McDonald's searing, angst-ridden sax or Jim Diamond's soulful vocal. This is a record from someone who has lived and needs to tell you what he's discovered - a nightmare themepark of an album from a man truly possessed. - Product info

Over the course of 25 years and nearly 20 solo releases, Steve Hackett has acquired a vast amount of technical proficiency in the studio. This album, which Hackett produced, is the best-sounding release of his career. Most of the 11 tracks are more like soundscapes or aural impressions, than songs in the conventional sense; this is not necessarily a bad thing. The tapestry of sounds on "The Golden Age of Steam" is perfectly suited to a rather intriguing lyric about a World War II child spy. On "Rise Again" the hopeful lyrics are coupled with guitar playing that truly soars. Most of the other songs, however, are simply not engaging enough to be memorable, even after repeated listenings. In the liner notes, Hackett points out that "Twice Around the Sun" may have the longest sustained guitar note in the history of modern recording, and this points to the album's biggest problem: Hackett seems more concerned with form than substance, which will eventually prove tiring to even the most dedicated fans.- by Steve McMullen, AMG

Artist: Steve Hackett
Album: Darktown
Year: 1998
Label: Camino (1999)
Runtime: 56:37

1.  Omega Metallicus 3:48 
2.  Darktown 4:59 
3.  Man Overboard 4:17 
4.  The Golden Age Of Steam 4:09 
5.  Days Of Long Ago 3:23 
6.  Dreaming With Open Eyes 6:54 
7.  Twice Around The Sun 7:15 
8.  Rise Again 4:26 
9.  Jane Austen's Door 6:13 
10.  Darktown Riot 3:10 
11.  In Memoriam 7:59 
All compositions by Steve Hackett, except 5t (Jim Diamond & Steve Hackett)

Steve Hackett (Guitar, Vocal, Harmonica)
Roger King (Rhythm Soundscapes, Bass, Keyboards) - 1,7,9,10
Roger King (Keyboards, Guitar) - 1,2,10,11
Douglas Sinclair (Bass Guitar) - 1,7
Ben Fenner (Guitar, Mellotron, Synthesizer, Organ) - 1,7
Billy Budis (Cello, Bass Guitar) - 5,8
Davy Jones (Guitar, Thumb Piano, Guitar, Harmonica) - 3
Ian McDonald (Saxophone) - 2
Julian Colbeck (Keyboards) - 2
Jerry Peal (Bells) - 4
Jim Diamond (Vocals) - 5
John Hackett (Flute, Pan Pipe) - 6
Hugo Degenhart (Drums) - 8
Aron Friedman (Piano, Keyboards) - 8
John Wetton (Bass Samples) - 11

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Roy Eldridge, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie - Jazz Maturity

Teaming together Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge should result in some classic music, but by 1975, Eldridge (although still a fierce competitor) was past his prime and Gillespie was starting to fade. The material performed for this CD reissue is just not all that inspiring -- a few overly played standards and blues. Despite some good efforts by Gillespie and Eldridge, pianist Oscar Peterson easily emerges as the most impressive soloist; better to acquire the magnificent collaborations of the 1950s instead. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

The 1970s were a time of renaissance for Roy Eldridge, with jazz festivals and small group recording sessions plentiful. The music produced was in itself a remarkable synthesis of Eldridge's roots and the progressive schools of bop and cool jazz. This crossbreed, modern music has as much to do with the other two musicians headlining this release, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson. Eldridge's influence on the younger generation is evident on all the solos, especially in the revved trumpeting of Gillespie. Listening to the cool playing on "Take the A Train" and "I Cried For You," one is struck by Eldridge's legacy of speed and high notes. Gillespie and Peterson are just as influential. "Quasi-Boogaloo," a collaborative piece by all three, is chock full of bop-tinged playing and cool chord structures. Roy Eldridge shows himself to be a consummate performer; his adaptations and borrowings make this set a vibrant musical exchange of ideas.- from

Artist: Roy Eldridge, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie
Album: Jazz Maturity
Year: 1975
Label: OJC (Remastered, 1994)
Runtime: 49:31

1.  Quasi-Boogaloo (Roy Eldridge/Dizziy Gillespie/Oscar Peterson) 9:03
2.  Take the A Train (Billy Strayhorn) 8:08
3.  I Cried for You (Now it's Your Turn to Cry Over Me) (Gus Arnheim/Arthur Freed/Abe Lyman) 7:56
4.  Drebirks (Roy Eldridge/Dizziy Gillespie/Oscar Peterson) 11:21
5.  When It's Sleepy Time Down South (Clarence Muse/Leon René/Otis Rene) 6:20
6.  Indiana (James F. Hanley/Ballard MacDonald) 6:40

Roy Eldridge (Trumpet)
Dizzy Gillespie (Trumpet)
Oscar Peterson (Piano)
Ray Brown (Double Bass)
Mickey Roker (Drums )

Friday, June 3, 2011

Goran Bregovic - Tales and Songs from Weddings and Funerals

This is the best work of Goran Bregovic in the last ten years. There are so many things to talk and explain about Balkan culture, but many cannot ever understand it, although they still live over there. Of course that is even harder for people who do not know and never lived there. One needs to know history of Balkan, its culture, tradition, folklores, people diversity, tradition etc. to be able to understand everything that Bregovic is trying to tell us. Bravo, Goran! This time you really did it. You've told us a story without ending, a story about love, life and death. You incorporated everything together: new sound and old sound, new songs and old songs, and that all is very beautiful. You proved once again what a great artist you are. - by Sanja Korman,

This unique album blends an array of folk songs, dances, gypsy celebration and Balkan rock. - product info

Artist: Goran Bregovic
Album: Tales and Songs from Weddings and Funerals
Year: 2002
Label: Mercury/Universal
Runtime: 54:47

1.  Hop Hop Hop 4:19 
2.  Tale I (Grave Disperato) 1:51 
3.  Aven Ivenda 3:53 
4.  Sex 4:29 
5.  Tale II (Adagio Poco Febrile) 1:56 
6.  Maki Maki 3:32 
7.  Tale III (Lento Arabesco) 2:36 
8.  So Nevo Si 3:54 
9.  Tale IV (Moderato Melancolico) 2:53 
10.  Cocktail Molotov 4:12 
11.  Tale V (Andante Amoroso) 5:06 
12.  Polizia Molto Arabbiata 3:43 
13.  Tale VI (Adagio Delicato) 4:46 
14.  Te Kuravle 5:04 
15.  Tale VII (Vivo Con Fuoco) 2:25 
All compositions by G. Bregovic

Goran Bregovic (Composer, Arranger)
Bokan Stankovic (Trumpet)
Dragan Celevski (Trumpet)
Nenad Mamutovic (Trumpet)
Ivica Mit (Clarinet)
Aleksandar Rajkovic (Baritone Saxophone)
Goran Odovic (Baritone Saxophone)
Ivan Jovanovic (Baritone Saxophone)
Dejan Manigodic (Tuba)
Ogi Radivojevic (Percussion)
Aleksandar Randljelovic (Glasses)
Zorc Grujic (Cow Horn)
Ljubica Sekujic (Harp)
Vesna Jovanovic (Violin)
Moma Stanojevic (Violin)
Saban Bajramovic (Vocals)
Vaska Jankovska (Vocals)
Zdravko Colic (Vocals)
Goran Demirovic (Vocals)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jaco Pastorius - Honestly Live

This set, consisting entirely of Pastorius solos, sounds excessive -- it is. There is no other recording remotely like it. But it's not for bass players only; in fact, as music, it stands up just fine, but, more importantly, it showcases just how restless, musical, and enigmatic a bassist Pastorius was. Each selection is numbered as a part, and each one showcases at least one or two of the artist's major styles of playing, in specific genres, and within them are three or four others whispering, shouting, or just presenting themselves to the listener. Utilizing melody, harmony (and the wildest use of natural and artificial harmonics anybody's ever employed), and rhythm simultaneously, Pastorius guides the listener on a journey through rock & roll ("Part 10"), the well oiled jazz player ("Parts 2 & 3"), the deep blues and R&B gut bucket funker in "Part 7," or the sad, lonely guy in "Part 7." Within these sections there are any number of songs, half remembered melodies, lyrical phrases, and themes and variations upon them, that reveals the deep influence of both pianists and saxophonists on his playing style. For example, while quoting from Weather Report's "Boogie Woogie Waltz" he moves off into Bach's "Chromatic Fantasy," "Surrey With the Fringe on Top," and even "Stardust" before slamming out the back door with "At Minton's." Elsewhere, long quotations from Jimi Hendrix give way to "Norwegian Wood," "The Thrill Is Gone," Dexter Gordon's "Go," and Freddie Redd's "The Connection"; there just isn't a dull moment. In all, it doesn't get much better. As revisionist history begins to settle in, and critics and fans alike try to re-evaluate Pastorius' live presence and ability, and he's either discredited or blown out of all proportion, it's nice to know there is an historical record of his worth as a solo instrumentalist and improviser. His was clearly the watermark to beat -- musically, technically, and emotionally -- and probably still is. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Jaco Pastorius
Album: Honestly (solo live)
Year: 1986
Label: Jimco Records (1991, Japan)
Total time: 64:47

1.  Part 1 10:00 
2.  Part 2 3:57 
3.  Part 3 2:07 
4.  Part 4 3:26 
5.  Part 5 7:29 
6.  Part 6 5:44 
7.  Part 7 3:23 
8.  Part 8 10:00 
9.  Part 9 7:03 
10.  Part 10 11:33
All compositions by J. Pastorius

Jaco Pastorius (Bass Guitar)


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