Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Larry Coryell - Fallen Angel

On Fallen Angel, Larry Coryell teams up with arranger Don Sebesky to produce a wide-ranging album full of sampled sounds and programmed tracks in an attempt to mix the old CTI sound of the '70s with the production techniques and rhythms of the '90s. "Inner City Blues" kicks things off with great promise, as Coryell jams over a pre-programmed rhythm track with background vocalists. On "(Angel on Sunset) Bumpin' on Sunset," he improvises along with a sampled Wes Montgomery, then turns Erroll Garner's classic "Misty" into a mid-tempo reggae jaunt through which he and pianist Mulgrew Miller travel lightly. The CTI connection is brought to the forefront with a remake of Deodato's "2001" hit called "Thus Spoke Z," on which the famous theme is implied but never stated. Other highlights include a funky, angular tribute called "Monk's Corner," Sebesky's attractive "I Remember Bill" and the solo "Westerly Wind." There are also two pleasant smooth jazz vocal pieces at the front of the album, the beautiful ballad, "Fallen," a duet between vocalists Klyde Jones and Jeanie Bryson, and the funky made-for-radio "Never Never," featuring saxophonist Richard Elliot and a vocal from Ms. Jones. - by Jim Newsom, AMG

Artist: Larry Coryell
Album: Fallen Angel
Year: 1993
Label: CTI
Runtime: 51:42

1.  Inner City Blues (Marvin Gaye/James Nyx) 3:31
2.  Fallen (Lauren Wood) 3:45
3.  Never Never (Don Sebesky/Klyde Jones) 3:34
4.  Angel on Sunset (Wes Montgomery/Don Sebesky) 5:40
5.  Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish) 0:54
6.  Misty (Erroll Garner) 4:31
7.  I Remember Bill (Don Sebesky) 3:07
8.  Pieta (Don Sebesky) 5:52
9.  Thus Spoke Z (Don Sebesky/Larry Coryell) 4:49
10.  Stella By Starlight (Ned Washington/Victor Young) 4:32
11.  Monk's Corner (Don Sebesky/Larry Coryell) 6:25
12.  Wersterly Wind (Larry Coryell) 2:03
13.  The Moon (Larry Coryell) 2:53

Larry Coryell (Electric Guitar)
Klyde Jones (Vocals) - 1-3
Jeanie Bryson (Vocals) - 2
Richard Elliot (Tenor Saxophone) - 2,3
Wes Montgomery (Electric Guitar) - 4
Mulgrew Miller (Piano) - 5,6,9
Ted Rosenthal (Piano) - 8,11
Chris Hunter (Alto Saxophone) - 9

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt - Boss Tenors in Orbit!

Though Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt were the premier twin towers of jazz tenor sax bar none, they also had great mutual respect for their distinctly different styles. The soulful Ammons and the bop-oriented Stitt meshed well whether playing standards, jamming on familiar melodies, or in ballad form. This recording sees them a bit restrained, teamed with the brilliant organist Don Patterson, the totally obscure guitarist Paul Weeden, and the great drummer Billy James. There's a schism in terms of the stereo separation as each saxophonist gets his own channel, but on occasion they do play together, just not all that much. Some longer cuts allow Patterson to loosen up and take charge, but he is in the main an accompanist on this date from 1962. There's no real battling for turf here, while one-upmanship is redacted as the two take turns with nary a hint of egotism. Stitt switches to alto in contrast, and the two saxophonists play together on the good swinger "Walkin'," always a jam vehicle but shortened here, with the basic melody played only one time through, with Ammons adding a bit of harmony to the proceedings. They trade shorter phrases on "Why Was I Born?," as Stitt goes off on a flurry of bebop notes. Where "John Brown's Body" is quintessential soul-jazz at its primal best, they stretch out on the ten-minute jam "Bye Bye Blackbird," with Stitt first out of the batters' box and Ammons hitting for extra bases to drive his bandmate home. Where programming doesn't really matter on a CD (you can do that on your own), the leadoff track -- strangely enough -- is downtempo, hardly something to send anyone into orbit. "Long Ago and Far Away" is a ballad feature, first for Ammons and then Stitt, where the stereo effect is in full flight as the two go back and forth, with Patterson's sweet, swinging, and soulful B-3 languishing in the background. While not an out-and-out knock-down, drag-out event like their other recordings, this is still one of too few magical efforts with Ammons and Stitt together. Those who crave the live cutting sessions that made jazz very exciting in the early '60s might also consider this tamer studio effort. - by Michael G. Nastos, AMG

Artist: Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt
Album: Boss Tenors in Orbit!
Year: 1962
Label: Verve (Master Edition, 24 bit dig. transfer, 2002)
Runtime: 37:30

1.  Long Ago And Far Away (Ira Gerschwin/Jerome Kern) 6:18
2.  Walkin' (Jimmy Mundy) 5:24
3.  Why Was I Born? (Oscar Hammerstein II/Jerome Kern) 8:23
4.  John Brown's Body (Traditonal)  7:25
5.  Bye-Bye, Blackbird (Ray Henderson/Mort Dixon) 9:57

Gene Ammons (Tenor Saxophone)
Sonny Stitt (Tenor Saxophone)
Don Patterson (Organ)
Paul Weeden (Guitar)
Billy James (Drums)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

John McLaughlin - Qué Alegria

The John McLaughlin Trio goes into the studio and broadens its stylistic range considerably in another musically satisfying, open-minded outing. Again, McLaughlin sounds rejuvenated and refreshed in this format, as he switches between acoustic guitar and a guitar synthesizer attachment that softens and rounds his attacks while creating some luminous timbres and textures. McLaughlin's on-again, off-again Indian kick rises prominently into view here as Trilok Gurtu's role broadens into that of an all-purpose percussionist, producing some amazing sounds as backdrops. Pastorius-influenced bassist Kai Eckhardt gets downright funky on "1 Nite Stand" but gives way to the equally accomplished Dominque Di Piazza on most tracks. Yes, there is even some fantastic straight-ahead blues grooving on "Hijacked" -- if one may be permitted to use the terms guitar synthesizer and straight-ahead in the same sentence. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: John McLaughlin Trio
Album. Qué Alégria
Year: 1992
Label: Polydor
Runtime: 64:46

1.  Belo Horizonte (John McLaughlin) 6:36
2.  Baba (Trilok Gurtu) 6:50
3.  Reincarnation (John McLaughlin) 11:54
4.  1 Nite Stand (John McLaughlin) 5:28
5.  Marie (Dominique di Piazza) 1:59
6.  Hijacked (John McLaughlin) 8:36
7.  Mila Repa (John McLaughlin) 7:33
8.  Qué Alegría (John McLaughlin) 10:33
9.  3 Willows (John McLaughlin) 5:13

John McLaughlin (Acoustic Guitar and Photon Midi Interface)
Trilok Gurtu (Percussion)
Dominique di Piazza (Bass Guitar)
Kai Eckhardt (Bass Guitar) - 3,4

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jim Hall - Storyteller

Most of the music on this date (which emphasizes group originals) features guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke. The versatile Thompson switches to piano for a duet with Hall on "Circles" and on a quartet version (with Rufus Reid on bass) of "My Heart Sings." Nothing all that exciting or unexpected occurs during the CD reissue (which adds an additional song to the original LP), but virtually all of Hall's recordings (which tend to be harmonically sophisticated and quietly subtle) are worth acquiring. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Jim Hall's successful blend of contemporary and mainstream jazz should appeal to both camps on this well-crafted CD. Hall displays the subtle quiet lyricism that makes his guitar sound instantly identifiable. Gil Goldstein is a perfect choice on keyboards, because he uses synthesizer only to color rather than overpower a song, while avoiding schmaltz. Both "Beja-Flor" and the title track benefit from his contributions. Though his piano is frequently in the background, it matches Hall's hushed, effective guitar lines. Bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Terry Clarke frequently lay out during the introductions and then enter to add either gentle shadings or full steam, if needed. One of Jim Hall's best CDs. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Jim Hall
Album: Storyteller (CD1: Circles; CD2 All Across the City)
Year: 1981, 1989
Label: Concord Records (2002)
Runtime: 45:21 + 57:36

Circles tracks:
1.  (All Of A Sudden) My Heart Sings (Jean Marie Blanvillain/Henri Herpin/Harold Rome) 6:14
2.  Love Letters (Edward Heyman/Victor Young) 7:05
3.  Down From Antigua (Jim Hall) 6:43
4.  Echo (Jim Hall) 3:31
5.  I Can't Get Started (Vernon Duke/Ira Gershwin) 4:45
6.  T.C. Blues (Terry Clarke) 4:06
7.  Circles (Don Thompson) 6:48
8.  Aruba (Jim Hall) 6:09

Jim Hall (Guitar)
Don Thompson (Piano, Double Bass)
Terry Clarke (Drums)
Rufus Reid (Bass) - 1

All Across the City tracks:
1.  Beija-Flor (Nelson Cavaquinho/Noel Silva/Tomaz, Augusto Jr.) 6:32
2.  Bemsha Swing (Denzil Best/Thelonious Monk) 5:13
3.  Prelude To A Kiss (Duke Ellington/Irving Gordon/Irving Mills) 4:51
4.  Young One (For Debra) (Jim Hall) 4:27
5.  R.E.M. State (Gil Goldstein) 5:35
6.  Jane (Jim Hall) 4:59
7.  All Across The City (Jim Hall) 5:32
8.  Drop Shot (Jim Hall) 5:33
9.  How Deep Is The Ocean? (Irving Berlin) 3:29
10.  Something Tells Me (Jane Hall)  5:00
11.  Big Blues (Jim Hall) 6:25

Jim Hall (Guitar)
Gil Goldstein (Keyboards)
Steve LaSpina (Bass)
Terry Clarke (Drums)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ronnie Scott - Live at Ronnie Scott's

Ronnie Scott's post bop modern playing was bold and authoritative, and he absorbed many influences including Zoot Sims, Stan Getz and Lester Young. He could play a powerful blues followed by an exquisite ballad with an instantly recognisable sound and style. He was always a jazz man, his bands and groups never compromised. His death in 1996, following a period of despair and inactivity, left a gap in British modern jazz. He has been much missed. He truly was the father of British modern jazz. - from

Artist: Ronnie Scott & The Band
Album: Live at Ronnie Scott's
Year: 1968
Label: Columbia (1999)
Runtime: 47:19

1.  Recorda Me (Remember Me) (Joe Henderson) 4:37
2.  King Pete (Laurie Holloway) 6:49
3.  Second Question (Kenny Wheeler) 7:22
4.  Marmasita (Joe Henderson) 6:30
5.  Too Late,Too Late (Mike Westbrook) 6:19
6.  Lord Of The Reddy River (Donovan Leitch) 5:10
7.  Macumba (Gordon Beck) 10:32

Ronnie Scott (Tenor Saxophone)
John Surman (Baritone and Soprano Saxophone)
Ray Warleigh (Alto Saxophone and Flute)
Kenny Clarke (Drums)
Gordon Beck (Piano and Organ)
Chris Payne (Trombone)
Ron Matthewson (Double Bass)
Kenny Wheeler (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Tony Oxley (Drums)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trilok Gurtu - Kathak

As a producer and sideman, Bombay-born percussionist and singer Trilok Gurtu has become something of a godfather to London's emerging Asian Underground movement (his relationship with Asian Dub Foundation having earned him particularly strong street credibility in recent years), but he's also been quietly releasing solo albums for the last decade. The latest finds him teamed up with bassist Kai Eckhardt de Camargo (good luck sorting out the ethnicity of that name), guitarist Jaya Deva, sitar player Ravi Chary, and several high-profile guests (including Neneh Cherry, who sings a touching tribute to Ravi's and her late stepfather) for a program of cross-cultural jamming. Worldbeat fusion is always a dicey prospect, and while this album has many attractive moments, it never really comes into focus. "Seven Brings Return" meanders, at first hypnotically, then stultifyingly, for over eight minutes, and the wanky Steve Lukather guitar solo in the middle doesn't help. However, there's an equally meandering, but much more melodically interesting, bass solo on "You, Remember This" that works very well. "Brasilian" is a mostly unsuccessful attempt at a fusion of Indian and Brazilian influences, and "Who Knows the Mind" is downright weird-a love songs that segues into a sort of progressive rock crossed with bhangra, again for over eight minutes. All of this stuff is pleasant enough, but little of it is very compelling. - by Rick Anderson, AMG

Artist: Trilok Gurtu
Album: Kathak
Year: 1998
Label: EFA/Escapade
Runtime: 46:35

1.  Ganapati (Trilok Gurtu/Michael Quartermain) 3:52
2.  You, Remember This (Trilok Gurtu) 5:43
3.  Seven Brings Return (Trilok Gurtu) 8:28
4.  Shunyai (Trilok Gurtu) 8:29
5.  Who Knows The Mind (Trilok Gurtu/Michael Quartermain/Kai Echardt) 8:46
6.  Kathak (Trilok Gurtu) 6:38
7.  Brazilian (Trilok Gurtu) 4:37

Trilok Gurtu (Drums, Tabla, Percussion, Voice)
Jaya Deva (Ganawa, Voice, Guitar)
Kai Eckhardt (Bass Guitar)
Ravi Chary (Sitar, Harmonium)
Neneh Cherry (Voice) - 1
Shobha Gurtu (Voice) - 2,7
Steve Lukather (Guitar) - 3
Theodosii Spassov (Kaval) - 7

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Charlie Haden, Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti - Magico

Just before "new age' music even really existed, ECM records, unknowingly, helped to create what was referred to at the time as "chamber Jazz". Most of the ECM musicians came from some type of jazz backround, but usually also mixed into their musical stew much classical music and European influences, as well as ethnic and folk musics (nowadays referred to as World music). This is one of many 5-star ECM discs. Sadly it seems for most folks ECM music is just too hard to comprehend it seems-too many people can't relate to it because it doesn't sound like any of the music they grew up with. Too bad, and their loss. Thankfully, this one goes down a bit easier, so it makes a great introduction to ECM as well as to all 3 of these musicians. As usual with ECM the recorded sound is excellent-which really matters when one is dealing with this type of music, or any music this intimate and quiet (and acoustic-based). No other recordings from any Jazz or creative music label from the 70's sound anywhere near as good as ECM recordings. I have this one on vinyl-since I purchased it shortly after it originally came out-but the CD is better just for the fact that it's wonderful to hear this quiet, spacious music, without any surface noise or tape hiss. I think Egberto Gismonti may have at least one other masterpiece that I must list here-titled "Solo" and recorded for ECM at around the same time. If you happen to love "Magico" then I would say Gismonti's "Solo" as well as the very good follow-up to this album-"Folk Songs" by the same 3 musicians, would be the 2 most important CD's to get.. Haden's music on his own spans mostly different types of Jazz -especially Ornette Coleman-style work, and most of Garbarek's music has more electronic instrumentation as well as a busier instrumental pallette (through the use of lots of additional musicians, especially percussionists, and extensive overdubbing), as well as having a very different instrumental line up, so not many of Garbarek's other recordings exist in this world... This is one to put on, sit back, and "get lost in", which is the highest compliment I can pay to any recording. I have hundreds of lp's and about 2 or 3 thousand CD's, so just the fact that I would take the time to write a review for this one should speak for itself... - by Phasedin,

 Perhaps it was the presence of bassist Charlie Haden, but this trio set has more energy than one normally associates with the other members of the group (Jan Garbarek on tenor and soprano and Egberto Gismonti doubling on guitar and piano). The trio performs group originals and an obscurity during the picturesque and continually interesting release; this combination works well. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Charlie Haden, Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti
Album: Magico
Year: 1979
Label: ECM (1980)
Runtime: 43:51

1.  Bailarina (Geraldo Carneiro/Piry Reis) 14:32
2.  Magico (Egberto Gismonti) 7:45
3.  Silence (Charlie Haden)10:19
4.  Spor (Jan Garbarek) 6:13
5.  Palhaço (Egberto Gismonti) 5:00

Charlie Haden (Double Bass)
Jan Garbarek (Saxohones)
Egberto Gismonti (Guitar and Piano)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Collegium Musicum - Marian Varga & Collegium Musicum

Marián Varga was born on 29th January 1947 in Skalica. He was 6 years old when he started to attend a common school of arts, and at the same time took private composition lessons from professor Ján Cikker. Later on, he became a student of the Bratislava School of Music where he studied piano in the class of Roman Berger, and composition in the class of Andrej Oèenáš.After three years of study he left the School of Music, and soon afterwards he became a member of Prúdy, the band with which he recorded the legendary album "Jingle, bells" in 1969. But suddenly, just as he left the School of Music, he abandons Prúdy, and founds the first art-rock band in Czechoslovakia, Collegium Musicum. Prevalent in the band´s repertory are instrumental compositions, comprising re-interpretations of classical music themes (Haydn, Bartók, Stravinskij ...), and original compositions bearing the first signs of artistic post-modernism (Euphony from the album Convergences), which is the essential principle of his current music. After the dissolution of Collegium Musicum (1979), Varga chose for himself the role of a lonely runner, and as one of the first musicians in the country he followed the concept of absolute improvisation, which means composing music in the real space and time. - from M. Varga's website

Artist: Collegium Musicum
Album: Marián Varga & Collegium
Year: 1973
Label: Opus 3 (1995)
Runtime: 45:55

1.  Mikrokozmos (Bela Bartok) 7:25
2.  Nech zije clovek (Marian Varga/Dusan Hajek/Ivan Belak/Josef Farkas) 16:31
3.  Preludium C dur (2 miniatury) a cast z baletu Romeo a Julia (Sergei Prokofiev) 8:43
4.  Hudba k vodometu c.1 (Marian Varga) 10:40
5.  Nesmierny smutok hotelovej izby (Marian Varga) 2:36

Marian Varga (Organ and Piano)
Dusan Hajek (Drums)
Ivan Belak (Bass Guitar)
Jozef Farkas (Guitar)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cool Running Orchestra - Tribute to Marley

What hs contemporary jazz got to do with Bob Marley? What sense is there in adding another to the long line of cover albums, when this concept often an 'Easy Rider', has long been a hoary Chestnut (for instance, the Twist of Marley CD)? Not to mention the fact the making a complete 'homage' album is far from being a risk-free enterprise, because comparison with the version everyone know often gives rise to the verdict: well... not as good as the original.
Okay, so why do it? In BCM circles the reggae idea was first floated in 2006 during a long car journey, when we were bringing Hamid Drake back from Austria to record in Budapest. After the improvised duo concert with the outstanding swiss pianist Iréne Schweizer, somewhat to my surprise, he moved onto reggae for nearly three hours. It is little know that this 56-year-old american drummer, with dreadlocks down to his ankles, for many years played as a session musician with the greatest reggae stars before he became famous on the contemporary jazz scene. Since then from time to time, amongst musicians associated with BMC Records I have raised the possibility of creating an unusual reggae project. It turned out that far more jazz musicians have reggae roots than I Thought, and many of them get a buzz from the genre's freaky approach. It also became obvious that the common denominator was clearly the music of the king of reggae, Bob Marley. Of the french pair on this recording 15 xeras ago the saxophonist Christophe Monniot played with his own reggae group as that warm-up band of the illustrious exponents of the genre, so it was no coincidence that reggae motifs also appear on his later jazz albums. On the latest CD by his old fellow musician Manu Codija the style also gets a look-in, in the form of two Bob Marley arrangements. Neither is the affinity for reggae of the two Berlin musicians a new fad: the pianist Carsten Daerr wrote his own memorial piece to Marley for an earlier trio album, and in a duo he plays dub versions and reggae fied transcriptions of Bach with the singer Michael Schiefel. The two hungarian musicians are no strangers to the language of reggae either. Besides having two joint albums with Hamid Drake behind them, saxophonist Viktor Toth has written several compositions in the genre, and thanks to his mother's record collection bassist Mátyás Szandai also grew up on the music of Bob Marley... from the CD cover

Artist: The Cool Running Orchestra
Album: Tribute to Marley
Year: 2011
Label: BMC
Runtime: 53:22

1.  Is This Love 6:00
2.  Could You Be Loved 8:47
3.  No Woman No Cry 6:25
4.  Rastaman Frustration 4:30
5.  Jammin' 5:58
6.  Nap-Nap 3:59
7.  Redemption Song 6:46
8.  Natural Mystic 6:35
9.  Is This Love (Unplugged) 4:19

Michael Schiefel (Voice, Electronics)
Christophe Monniot (Alto, Baritone and Sopranino Saxophones)
Viktor Toth (Alto Saxophone)
Manu Codija (Guitar)
Carsten Daerr (Piano, Organ, Fender Rhodes, Melodica)
Mátyás Szandai (Double Bass)
Hamid Drake (Drums)


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