Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quincy Jones - I Dig Dancers

The French arm of Universal Music recently extended its remarkable “Jazz in Paris” series by releasing a number of classic French-made jazz albums on CD with original album covers, bonus tracks, new notes, all housed in beautiful gatefold digipak sleeves and available at tremendously affordable budget price points. Among the interesting, even historic, releases in this series – which mixes American leaders in Paris with French Leaders expounding upon the American art form – is the far too little-known Quincy Jones classic, I Dig Dancers!, much of which was recorded in Paris with an all-star group of American jazz icons.- from dougpayne.blogspot.com

Artist: Quincy Jones
Album: I Dig Dancers
Year: 1960
Label: Universal Music (2010)
Runtime: 46:57

1.  Pleasingly Plump (Quincy Jones) 2:18
2.  G'wan Train (Patti Bown) 6:22
3.  Moonglow (Eddie De Lange/Will Hudson/Irving Mills) 2:49
4.  Tone Poem (Melba Liston) 3:42
5.  You Turned the Tables on Me (Sidney Mitchell/Louis Alter) 2:32
6.  Chinese Checkers (D. Carr Glover Jr.) 2:43
7.  Our Love Is Here to Stay (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 3:13
8.  The Midnight Sun Will Never Set (Quincy Jones/Dorcas Cochran/Henri Salvador) 4:35
9.  Trouble on My Mind (William Boble) 2:33
10.  A Sunday Kind of Love (Barbara Belle/Anita Leonard/Stan Rhodes/Louis Prima) 2:35
11.  Parisian Thoroughfare (Bud Powell)  3:50
12.  Pleasingly Plump - First Take (Quincy Jones) 2:29
13.  G'wan Train - Short Version (Patti Bown) 3:00
14.  Close Your Eyes (Bernice Petkere) 2:07
15.  Blues from Free and Easy (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) 2:00

Quincy Jones (Arranger, Conductor)
Bennie Bailey (Trumpet)
Melba Liston (Trombone)
Quentin Jackson (Trombone)
Phil Woods (Alto Saxophone)
Jerome Richardson (Tenor Saxophone)
Sahib Shihab (Baritone Saxophone)
Patti Bown (Piano)
Les Spann (Guitar, Flute)
Buddy Catlett (Double Bass)
Lennie Johnson (Trumpet) - 3,6-12,14,15
Clark Terry (Trumpet) - 3,6-12,14,15
Floyd Standifer (Trumpet) - 3,6-12,14,15
Roger Guerin (Trumpet) - 3,6-12,14,15
Jimmy Cleveland (Trombone) - 3,6-12,14,15
Ake Persson (Trombone) - 3,6-12,14,15
Julius B. Watkins (French Horn) - 3,6-12,14,15
Porter Kilbert (Alto Saxophone) - 3,6-12,14,15
Budd Johnson (Tenor Saxophone) - 3,6-12,14,15
Joe Harris (Drums) - 3,6-12,14,15
Clyde Reasinger (Trumpet) - 1,2,4,5,13
Freddie Hubbard (Trumpet) - 1,2,4,5,13
Jerry Kail (Trumpet) - 1,2,4,5,13
Curtis Fuller (Trombone) - 1,2,4,5,13
Wayne Andre (Trombone) - 1,2,4,5,13
Joe Lopes (Alto Saxophone) - 1,2,4,5,13
Stu Martin (Drums) - 1,2,4,5,13

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Leaders - Unforeseen Blessing

Although the Leaders is a supergroup comprised of trumpeter Lester Bowie, altoist Arthur Blythe, tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman, pianist Kirk Lightsey, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Don Moye, they fall far short of their potential on this Black Saint CD. Trumpeter Lester Bowie only gets to solo on a tongue-in-cheek version of "Blueberry Hill," and both Blythe and Freeman are very underutilized throughout the date. Pianist Lightsey is the dominant player on the 13 sketches, taking "In a Minute," "Now a Minute" and "Lightish" as unaccompanied solos, "Lucia" as a ballad for the trio and soloing throughout much of the 9½ minutes of "Heaven Dance."- by Scott Yanow, AMG

"As you walk through life
In a Minute you may see
the Hip Dripper looking for
Sun Precondition Five,
Throughout The Search
keep it kind of Lightsight
for you may see Sun Precondition Six,
And if you are pure in jeart
the Peacemaker may cause you
to Wait A Minute.

On the road to Agadir
you may indulge your self in aHeaven Dance.
Amd Now...A Moment
for Lucia,
Cecil's thrill on Blubery Hill." from the CD cover.

Artist: The Leaders
Album: Unforeseen Blessings
Year: 1989
Label: Black Saint
Runtime: 45:12

1.  In A Minute (Kirk Lightsey) 2:51
2.  Hip Dripper (Arthur Blythe) 3:35
3.  Sun Precondition Five (Famoudou Don Moye) 0:37
4.  The Search (Chico Freeman) 2:48
5.  Lightish (Kirk Lightsey) 1:22
6.  Sun Precondition Six (Famoudou Don Moye) 0:18
7.  Peacemaker (Cecil McBee) 6:34
8.  Wait A Minute (Chico Freeman/Lester Bowie/Cecil McBee) 2:35
9.  Agadir (Arthur Blythe/Famoudou Don Moye) 1:36
10.  Heavens Dance (Kirk Lightsey) 9:47
11.  Now A Moment (Kirk Lightsey) 0:49
12.  Lucia (Cecil McBee) 7:35
13.  Blueberry Hill (Al Lewis/Vincent Rose/Larry Stock) 4:42

Lester Bowie (Trumpet)
Arthur Blythe (Alto Saxophone)
Chico Freeman (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet)
Kirk Lightsey (Piano)
Cecil McBee (Double Bass)
Don Moye (Percussion)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jacques Loussier Trio - Handel

It wasn’t long ago that I was listening to the Loussier Trio perform Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on my updated hi-fi, and was amazed at the lower extension of the bass. Loussier plays piano, and uses one of two bass players, and seems to always pair with drummer André Arpino. Having since lost the recording’s original CD, and only having a 160Kbit rip in MP3 format, I re-purchased the album along with a few others. First up for review is their 2002 recording of Handel, specifically, music from the Fireworks and Water Music suites, plus a Passacaglia that lasts some 5 minutes. What’s fun about the Loussier recordings is knowing this music inside-out, upside-down. It’s the tickle of fancy of recognizing old favorites in new clothing. I think Handel’s music is less successful in this clothing than that of Vivaldi or Bach. Of course, there are some successful tracks amid some “good tries.” The concluding “Trio” from the Water Music suite is energetic, if not virtuosic. Some areas where the music is “quoted” verbatim bother me… of course, you have to referenc the original, but there are other ways to weave these melodies into something… I think this music, whether it be Handel, Bach, or someone else, is so rich that you could make many CDs off the same source material, if you were so talented. Loussier has a particular talent… he’s good at capturing spirit. The direct quoting I find less successful. The last movement of the Fireworks music, with over a minute of drum fodder, then a direct quotation… I found less than enjoyable. Nice try, wrong approach, I think. So yes, there is some to love, some to hate on this release. Then we get the final track. A sparse 5 minutes, but so richly wrought-out, it is the jewel on the disc. It’s less about direct quotation, and more about getting to the essence of a work. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but this is about high-life, with all the cheese we might associate with a successful man sitting in his easy chair after work, enjoying a fine scotch. This is that soundtrack… but when you brush the cheese aside, it’s music that simply makes you smile. Any CD that forces a smile on your face is a good one, despite its warts. Only if we could plays these for Dr. Handel. - from biberfan.com

Artist: Jacques Loussier Trio
Album: Handel - Water Music & Royal Fireworks
Year: 2002
Label: Telarc Jazz
Runtime: 54:49

1.  Grave 1:37 
2.  Allegro I 2:48 
3.  Adagio 5:12 
4.  Allegro II 5:03 
5.  Andante 4:33 
6.  Bourree 1:47 
7.  Alla Danza 4:16 
8.  Aria 4:50 
9.  Trio 4:36 
10.  Grave 3:19 
11.  Allegro I 4:22 
12.  Siciliana 4:48 
13.  Allegro II 2:28 
14.  Passacaglia 5:03 

Jacques Loussier (Piano)
Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac (Double Bass)
André Arpino (Drums)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Franco Ambrosetti - European Legacy

Franco Ambrosetti grew up in the Italian-speaking community in Switzerland but by the time he was 20 he had moved to Milan, becoming a regular on the Milan jazz club scene. Originally influenced by such as Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan, he grew into one of Europe's leading stylists on both trumpet and fluegelhorn. No less a person than Miles Davis called him the only white trumpet player who could play like a black man. Franco Ambrosetti had his American debut in 1967 at the Monterey Jazz Festival as a sideman with his father Flavio, then a famous alto sax player. In later years Franco received Special Awards from the Montreux Festival and was voted "Best European Jazz Musician" in Italy. A leading German newspaper called him "the most elegant hard bop trumpeter Europe has ever known." An ENJA recording artist since the 70s, Franco has collaborated with international greats like Phil Woods, Dexter Gordon, Cannonball Adderley, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Miroslav Vitous and many others. For many years he was also the general manager of "Ambrosetti Technologies," the company founded by his father. With his project "European Legacy" Ambrosetti points at the multicultural vibes in European jazz tradition. All the tunes are written by European jazz musicians like (Canadian-born) Kenny Wheeler, George Gruntz and Franco himself as well as his bandmates but also by legends of the chanson like Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour. "This music is soaked with inspirations, memories, emotions and flavors that come from our (European) musical culture," says Franco. "The differences are in the colors, in the shades, in the moods, in the vibrations." With the dense rhythm work of Frenchman François Moutin and French/Swiss Daniel Humair and the great solos by Franco, his son Gianluca and Italian pianist Dado Moroni, this album proves that the European legacy swings as hard as anything. This is modern jazz in its purest and most thrilling form. - ejazznews.com

Artist: Franco Ambrosetti
Album: European Legacy
Year: 2003
Label: Enja
Runtime: 60:49

1.  Consolation (Kenny Wheeler) 3:02
2.  Waltzing With Flavia (Franco Ambrosetti) 6:10
3.  Tu Te Laisse Aller (Charles Aznavour) 2:10
4.  Suenos (Furio Di Castri) 8:11
5.  Leontine (Dado Moroni) 2:55
6.  Don't Be Silli (Franco Ambrosetti) 3:11
7.  Flagellation, Too (Daniel Humair/Gianluca Ambrosetti) 1:28
8.  L'Irriducibilita (Gianluca Ambrosetti) 5:09
9.  Danny And Dado In Arlen (Dado Moroni) 4:03
10.  Spherical Harmonics (Gianluca Ambrosetti)  6:16
11.  Hymne a l'Amour (Edith Piaf) 3:00
12.  Si, Lo Sapero (Franco Ambrosetti) 7:57
13.  The Smart Went Crazy (George Gruntz)  5:06
14.  Giro Giro Tondo (Traditional) 2:04

Franco Ambrosetti (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Gianluca Ambrosetti (Soprano Saxophone)
Dado Moroni (Piano)
Francois Moutin (Double Bass)
Daniel Humair (Drums)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Miles Davis - Cookin' With the Miles Davis Q.

Cookin' is the first of four albums derived from the Miles Davis Quintet's fabled extended recording session on October 26, 1956; the concept being that the band would document its vast live-performance catalog in a studio environment, rather than preparing all new tracks for its upcoming long-player. The bounty of material in the band's live sets -- as well as the overwhelming conviction in the quintet's studio sides -- would produce the lion's share of the Cookin', Relaxin', Workin', and Steamin' albums. As these recordings demonstrate, there is an undeniable telepathic cohesion that allows this band -- consisting of Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums) -- to work so efficiently both on the stage and the studio. This same unifying force is also undoubtedly responsible for the extrasensory dimensions scattered throughout these recordings. The immediate yet somewhat understated ability of each musician to react with ingenuity and precision is expressed in the consistency and singularity of each solo as it is maintained from one musician to the next without the slightest deviation. "Blues by Five" reveals the exceptional symmetry between Davis and Coltrane that allows them to complete each other's thoughts musically. Cookin' features the pairing of "Tune Up/When Lights Are Low" which is, without a doubt, a highlight not only of this mammoth session, but also the entire tenure of Miles Davis' mid-'50s quintet. All the elements converge upon this fundamentally swinging medley. Davis' pure-toned solos and the conversational banter that occurs with Coltrane, and later Garland during "When the Lights Are Low," resound as some of these musicians' finest moments. - by Lindsay Planer, AMG

Artist: Miles Davis Quintet
Album: Cookin' With the Miles Davis Q.
Year: 1956
Lavel: JVC (Mono, XRCD, 1998)
Runtime: 33:40

1.  My Funny Valentine (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 6:03
2. Blues by Five - false start
3.  Blues by Five (Miles Davis) 10:00
4.  Airegin (Sonny Rollins) 4:27
5.  Tune Up - When Lights Are Low (Miles Davis/Benny Carter) 13:10

Miles Davis (Trumpet)
John Coltrane (Tenor Saxophone) - 2-5
Red Garland (Piano)
Paul Chambers (Double Bass)
Philly Joe Jones (Drums)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Karrin Allyson - In Blue

Much like Wynton Marsalis' Soul Gestures in Southern Blue trilogy, vocalist Karrin Allyson's In Blue is a celebration of the blues. But where Marsalis focused on original post-bop compositions, Allyson simply performs some of her favorite tunes by composers such as Mose Allison, George & Ira Gershwin, Blossom Dearie, Bonnie Raitt, and others. Coming on the heels of her much-lauded double-Grammy-nominated Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane, In Blue may seem less ambitious than its predecessor, but this would be an unfair judgment. Allyson tackles this concept with as much verve and artistry as the Coltrane project and it's never a bad thing to hear her interpret a standard. Interestingly, this is apparently virgin ground for the singer, as she has never attempted such an extended foray into blues territory before. Not surprisingly, the results are stellar, with Allyson's ruddy voice -- here sounding not dissimilar to Raitt's -- tailor-made for the blues. It doesn't hurt either that she brings along such consummate sidemen as pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Lewis Nash. - by Matt Collar, AMG

Artist: Karrin Allyson
Album: In Blue
Year: 2002
Label: Concord
Runtime: 66:43

1.  Moanin' (Bobby Timmons/Jon Hendricks)  6:02
2.  Everybody's Cryin' Mercy (Mose Allison)  3:57
3.  Long As You're Living (Oscar Brown Jr./Julian Priester) 4:35
4.  The Meaning Of The Blues (Bobby Troup/Leah Worth) 7:35
5.  My Bluebird (Tommy Flanagan/Jay Leonhart) 4:31
6.  Hum Drum Blues (Oscar Brown Jr.) 5:39
7.  How Long Has This Been Going On? (George Gerschwin/Ira Greschwin) 5:41
8.  West Coast Blues (Granville Burland/Wes Montgomery) 5:02
9.  Evil Gal Blues (Leonard Feather/Lionel Hampton) 4:13
10.  Blue Motel Room (Joni Mitchell) 6:03
11.  Bye Bye Country Boy (Blossom Dearie/Jack Segal) 4:11
12.  Love Me Like A Man (William Smither) 4:20
13.  Angel Eyes (Matt Dennis/Earl Brent) 4:51

Karrin Allyson (Vocals)
Mulgrew Miller (Piano and Fender Rhodes)
Peter Washington (Double Bass)
Danny Embrey (Guitar)
Lewis Nash (Drums)
Steve Wilson (Alto and Soprano Saxophone)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Jeff Golub - Soul Sessons

Soul Sessions presents Jeff Golub's attempt to recreate the '60s and '70s recording sessions where musicians played live together in the studio rather than the modern way of recording each separately. It makes for a more lively Golub album than usual and does overcome the overly slick and lifeless production that so many smooth jazz albums suffer from. But it's getting harder and harder to lump Golub with other smooth jazz artists as his albums become funkier and more soulful affairs than the competition offers. It's difficult not to think of late-period Wes Montgomery while listening to the opening "Boom Boom," and when Ricky Peterson's Hammond B-3 shows up here and there it pushes the album into the soul-jazz category. Soul Sessions mixes in some satisfying pop with a sunny cover of No Doubt's "Underneath It All," and the Golub original "Can't Let You Go," with Mindi Abair and Journey's Steve Perry guesting on vocals respectively. Marc Cohn's vocalizing on Jesse Winchester's "Isn't That So," and Luis Conte's focused percussion are also highlights. The album falls prey to smooth jazz's clichés only when saxophonist Richard Elliot sleepwalks through "Playin' It Cool," and Abair and Perry are given nothing more than their respective songs' titles as lyrics. Otherwise, the musicians' interaction is satisfying, but Golub's discography now just cries out for a live album. - by David Jeffries, AMG

Artist: Jeff Golub
Album: Soul Sessions
Year: 2003
Label: GRP
Runtime: 57:27

1.  Boom Boom (Jeff Golub/Chris Palmaro) 4:30
2.  Playin' It Cool (Jeff Golub/Jeff Lorber) 4:49
3.  Cadillac Jack (Neil Artwick/Robert Davis) 5:15
4.  Underneath It All (Gwen Stefani/David Stewart) 4:58
5.  Pass It On (Jeff Golub/Neil Jason/John McCurry) 4:30
6.  Isn't That So (Jesse Winchester) 5:31
7.  Back Home (Jeff Golub/Tim Gant) 5:44
8.  Can't Let You Go (Jeff Golub) 5:58
9.  Vibrolux (Jeff Golub/Jeff Lorber) 5:17
10.  Nubian Blue (Jeff Golub/Chris Palmaro) 5:10
11.  Skin Tight (The Ohio Players) 5:39

Jeff Golub (Guitar)
Luis Conte (Percussion) - 1-5,7-11
Nick Lane (Trombone) - 1,3-5,7,10,11
David Woodford (Tenor and Baritone Saxophone) - 1,3-5,7,10,11
Ricky Peterson (Hammond Organ) - 2-5,7,8,11
Steve Ferrone (Drums) - 2-5,7-11
Michel Forman (Keyboards) - 3-5,7,8,10,11
Rick Braun (Trumpet) - 3-5,7,11
Nathan East (Bass Guitar) - 3-5,7
Richard Elliott (Tenor Saxophone) - 2,5
Jeff Lorber (Keyboards, Rhythm Guitar) - 2,9 
Alex Al (Bass Guitar) - 2,9
Stan Martin (Trumpet) - 1,10
Lincoln Goines (Double Bass) - 1,6
Shawn Pelton (Drums) - 1,6
Andre Berry (Bass Guitar) - 8,10
Peter White (Acoustic Guitar) - 5
Steve Cole (Tenor Saxophone) - 5
Marc Cohn (Vocals) - 6
Kenny White (Keyboards) - 6
Steve Perry (Vocals) - 8
Sue Ann Carwell (Vocals) - 11
Dave Carpenter (Double Bass) - 11
Mindi Abair (Vocals) - 4
Chris Palmaro (Keyboards) - 1

Mustafa al Sunni - Songs of the Sudan

The Sudan is a place in which singers and instrumentalists are known for their very organic mixture of Middle Eastern and African elements. This is true of a contemporary Sudanese pop singer like the jazz-influenced Rasha, and it is also true of a Sudanese traditionalist such as Mustafa al Sunni. Although al Sunni wasn't born until 1964 and was only in his early 30s when Songs of the Sudan was recorded in 1997, this CD contains none of the electric pop sounds of his generation. Very traditional in its outlook, Songs of the Sudan finds the charismatic singer/oud player forming a duo with percussionist Abd al Hafiz Karar and sticking to an acoustic setting. Lovers of Middle Eastern music will instantly recognize the string instrument that al Sunni plays as the oud, an Arabic lute. But al Sunni does not play the oud exactly as it is played in Saudi Arabia, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries--haunting, hypnotic selections like "Ghaltan Ana," "Hubbi al Razin" and "Ya Habibi Jafayt" point to the fact that Sudanese music has a very recognizable personality of its own. Released in England on the Nimbus label, Songs of the Sudan offers comprehensive liner notes and English translations of the lyrics.- by Alex Henderson, AMG

Artist: Mustafa Al Sunni
Album: Songs of the Sudan
Year: 1997
Label: Nimbus (1999)
Runtime: 66:20

1.  Al Itshitit (Fatima Khamis) 6:09
2.  Hubbi Al Razin (Traditional) 3:46
3.  Haqwa Li Quli (Traditional) 5:39
4.  Tul Ya Layl (Traditional) 4:32
5.  Ya Jamit Ya Mudalal (Abu Salah) 4:59
6.  Al Laylah Maja (Traditional) 5:30
7.  Ya Habibi Jafayt (Traditional) 4:17
8.  Ba'id Al Dar (Traditional) 6:11
9.  Tam Al Dawru (Traditional) 5:23
10.  Ghaltan Ana (Mustafa Al Sunni/Bashir al Qamar) 7:45
11.  Zaman Da'i (Bashir al Qamar) 6:30
12.  Asmar (Bashir al Qamar) 5:34

Mustafa Al Sunni (Vocals, Oud)
Abd el Hafiz Karar (Percussion)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Patricia Barber - Companion

Companion was recorded in a special three-night series of shows in July, 1999 at Chicago's famed Green Mill jazz club -- an unusually short amount of time to produce a live album. To mine as much material as possible from those nights the performances were run more like recording sessions than live shows, with the crowd reverently hushed. Patricia Barber is in her element and the only thing that seems to have suffered for the recording circumstances is the album's length -- at seven songs and 40 minutes, it walks the line between standard EP and full-length size. One surmises that it might have been longer had there been more album-quality material from the performances. Recalling the energy that was present on her critically worshipped Café Blue album, there is an ease and creativity on Companion which makes her fans' devotion understandable. Barber has been criticized for being a jazz singer in the loosest sense -- her style borrows heavily from R&B and she often covers pop songs (Sonny Bono's "The Beat Goes On" is a sheer stylish delight), and her song "If This Isn't Jazz" answers that criticism with a thumb to the nose. What many critics fail to notice, however, is the strength of her musicianship. Sexism within the industry keeps many from seeing female jazz performers playing roles other than those of vocalists -- Barber's warm, breathy voice and creative phrasing are wonderful, for sure, but what really shines are her arrangements. With a talented band behind her, on Companion Barber has made magic with her compositions, her piano playing, and yes, her voice. Intended to be a companion to Modern Cool, this album of mostly previously unrecorded material serves as an excellent introduction to all of her work. - by Stacia Proefrock, AMG

Artist: Patricia Barber
Album: Companion
Year: 1999
Label: Blue Note
Total time: 46:29

1.  The Beat Goes On (Sonny Bono) 5:27
2.  Use Me (Bill Withers) 6:32
3.  Like JT (Patricia Barber) 8:18
4.  Let it Rain (Patricia Barber) 5:09
5.  Touch of Trash (Patricia Barber) 4:48
6.  If This Isn't Jazz (Patricia Barber) 5:13
7.  Black Magic Woman (Peter Green) 10:32
8.  announcement 0:26 

Patricia Barber (Piano, Vocals and Hammond Organ)
Michael Arnopol (Bass)
John Mclean (Guitar)
Eric Montzka (Drums and Percussion)
Ruben P. Alvarez (Percussion)
Jason Narducy (Vocals) - 5


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