Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gabriele Mirabassi - Latakia Blend

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ravi Shankar - Raga-Mala

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Roswell Rudd & Toumani Diabate - Malicool

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mark Isham - Blue Sun

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jean-Luc Ponty - Tchokola

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oscar Peterson - On the Town

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lefteris Christofis - Nous Icons

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

Vinicius Cantuária - Sol Na Cara

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Eddie Davis - The Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Cookbook

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Shirley Scott set an enduring standard for tenor saxophone/organ groups, beginning with this their first recording together. Davis' authoritative, hard swinging style came through his seasoning as a key player in the Count Basie band. Scott, an accomplished pianist, took up the organ when she joined Davis in 1955, emerging with her distinctive, driving yet subtle style virtually fully formed. The music on this 1958 date holds few surprises; it's meat and potatoes all the way, but it's made using the choicest ingredients. The barbecue sauce is applied in moderation, as the band steers closer to Basie-style swing than to overt R&B riffing. Davis and his working band -- Scott and drummer Arthur Edgehill -- are joined here by reed player Jerome Richardson and bassist George Duvivier. Richardson, playing flute on most tracks, provides a useful complement to Davis' tenor. Duvivier is indispensable in anchoring the music with a commanding walking bass. Edgehill's quick, light touch helps maintain the swinging, jazzy feel. The tracks comprise three strong Davis originals, two standards, including "But Beautiful," which ranks as a master class in ballad playing, and the CD's centerpiece, the 12-minute plus "In the Kitchen." This slow blues by Johnny Hodges has room for extended soloing all around in a performance that underlines the skill, passion and artistry that made the Davis and Scott partnership a potent and influential combination. - by Jim Todd, AMG

Artist: Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis
Album: The Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Cookbook
Year: 1958 (Prestige)
Label: OJC (Digital remastering, 1991)
Runtime: 40:35

1.  Have Horn, Will Blow (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) 5:17
2.  The Chef (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) 6:00
3.  But Beautiful (Johnny Burke/James Van Heusen) 7:45
4.  In The Kitchen (Johnny Hodges) 12:58
5.  Three Duces (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) 5:01
6.  Avalon (Buddy DeSylva/Al Jolson/Vincent Rose) 3:32

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (Tenor Saxophone)
Jerome Richardson (Flute and Tenor Saxophone) - 1-5
Shirley Scott (Organ)
George Duvivier (Double Bass)
Arthur Edgehill (Drums)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Paul Desmond - Skylark

Moving over to the CTI label with Creed Taylor, Paul Desmond injects a bit of the 1970s into his sound, obtaining agreeable if not totally simpatico results. Here, the cool altoist is teamed with the progressive-slanted drumming of Jack DeJohnette (who might have been too busy a drummer for his taste), and Bob James' electric and acoustic pianos, with Ron Carter as the bass anchor, Gene Bertoncini on rhythm guitar, and, most interestingly, another individualist, Gabor Szabo, on solo electric guitar. For the first and only time, even taking into account the most inspired moments of Jim Hall, Desmond is not the most interesting soloist on his own record, for it is Szabo who most consistently draws you in with his mesmerizing incantations over vamps from the rhythm section. For those who missed it the first time, Desmond remakes "Take Ten" -- without the Middle Eastern elements -- "Romance de Amor" is eventually dominated by Szabo, and the inclusion of "Was a Sunny Day" proves that Desmond's involvement with the music of Paul Simon in 1970 was not a passing infatuation. Don Sebesky is credited with the "arrangements" but his orchestrating hand is not felt except for a single solo cello (George Ricci) in an adaptation of Purcell ("Music for a While"). It's a cautious change of pace for Desmond, although the fiercer context into which he was placed doesn't really fire his imagination. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Paul Desmond
Album: Skylark
Year: 1973
Label: CTI (SBM, 1997)
Runtime: 53:49

1.  Take Ten (Paul Desmond) 6:08
2.  Romance de Amor (Traditional) 5:21
3.  Was a Sunny Day (Paul Simon) 4:00
4.  Music for a While (Henry Purcell) 6:45
5.  Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer) 4:52
6.  Indian Summer (Al Dubin/Victor Herbert) 9:40
7.  Music for a While (Henry Purcell) 5:56
8.  Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer) 5:39
9.  Indian Summer (Al Dubin/Victor Herbert) 5:28

Paul Desmond (Alto Saxophone)
Gabor Szabo (Guitar)
Gene Bertoncini (Guitar)
Bob James (Piano and Electric Piano)
Ron Carter (Double Bass)
Jack DeJohnette (Drums)
Ralph McDonald (Percussion)
George Ricci (Cello)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

John Coltrane - Transition

The title of this album fits perfectly for John Coltrane was certainly at an important transitional point in his career at the time. Although he was still utilizing the same quartet that he had had for over three years (pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones) and his music had always been explorative, now he was taking his solos one step beyond into passionate atonality, usually over simple but explosive vamps. Other than the tender ballad "Welcome," most of this set is uncompromisingly intense; in fact, the closing nine-minute "Vigil" is a fiery tenor-drums duet. The 21-minute "Suite," even with sections titled "Prayer and Meditiation: Day" and "Affirmation," is not overly peaceful. It must have seemed clear, even at this early point, that Tyner and perhaps Jones would not be with the band much longer. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

For the John Coltrane Quartet, 1965 marked a period of intensely accelerated change. It was at this time that Coltrane began his final creative ascent, uncoupling the characteristic ingredients of his style - modal transmogrification, anguished overtones, incantatory skips and repetition - from the moorings of the popular song form. His later works, seemingly shorn of any kinship to prevailing jazz idioms, became explicitly primal, mystical and redemptive. The music of the Coltrane ensembles from late 1965 until his death two years later remains challenging and enigmatic even now, a quarter century later. The recordings that comprise 'Transition' show the JCQ at its most ecstatically unanimous. Still organized around recognizable structures, the first three sections of 'Transition' are vehicles for what was surely the hardest swinging small group of all time. Tyner, Garrison, and Jones churn behind Trane as never before, spinning complex webs of polyrhythmicity into stunning cadences. For his part, Coltrane soars above, around, and through them with some of the most abundantly inventive, panoramic solos he ever managed to capture on record. Like most great works of art, 'Transition' cannot be completely assimilated on first encounter. Completely organic and self-contained, it continues to reveal its glories over years of repeated listening. I've been companioned by it for 30 years, and it moves me more, and differently, now than ever before. 'Transition' is beyond jazz, beyond category - it is a music of awakening, a glorious window on the soul. Don't live your life without it! - by Chip Hartanft,

Artist: John Coltrane
Album: Transition
Year: 1965
Label: Impulse! (Remastered, 1993)
Runtime: 52:17

1.  Transition 15:30 
2.  Welcome 5:24 
3.  Suite: a) Prayer and Meditation: Day b) Peace After c) Prayer and Meditation: Evening d) Affirmation e) Prayer and Meditation: 4 A.M. 21:21
4.  Vigil 9:59 
All compositions by J. Coltrane

John Coltrane (Tenor Saxophone)
Elvin Jones (Drums)
McCoy Tyner (Piano) - 1-3
Jimmy Garrison (Double Bass) - 1-3


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