Monday, July 30, 2012

Takis Barberis - Episodes

The composer and guitarist Takis Barberis and his quintet, consisting of the most renowned musicians on the Greek jazz scene, join forces and come up with thirteen jazz 'episodes'. Ethnic, jazz and rock are the ingredients of this elaborate acoustic concoction. The timeless rhythm and flowing music - entrancing and spellbinding - convey a most fascinating atmosphere against the backdrop of the Aegean Sea. The two guest-stars, the world-acclaimed percussionist Trilok Gurtu and Petroloucas Chalkias, one of the most renowned clarinetists in Greece, add to the whole venture. - Product info

Artist: Takis Barberis
Album: Episodes
Year: 1995
Label: Lyra
Runtime: 57:07

1.  Allotropia 5:36
2.  Milos 6:33
3.  Always With The Last Impression 6:00
4.  Intermod 0:39
5.  Derti 7:11
6.  The Beauty And The Risk 4:32
7.  Love Ode 4:52
8.  Ok, Butl 6:04
9.  Which Way To The Exit 6:26
10.  Twin Intermod 1:17
11.  Secret No More 3:50
12.  Private 1:46
13.  For The Passed Away 2:16
All compositions by Takis Barberis

Takis Barberis (Guitar and Guitar-Synthesizer)
Takis Farazis (Piano, Accordeon and Keyboards)
Pandelis Benetatos (Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer)
Takis Paterelis (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone)
Yiannis Vassalos (Double Bass)
Costas Kalogirou (Drums)
Petros Kourtis (Percussion)
Yiotis Kiourtsoglou (Bass Guitar)
Yiannis Papayiannis (Oboe)
Trilok Gurtu (Drums, Tabla and Percussion)
Petros Loucas Chalkias (Clarinet)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grant Green - Matador

Grant Green recorded so much high-quality music for Blue Note during the first half of the '60s that a number of excellent sessions went unissued at the time. Even so, it's still hard to figure out why 1964's Matador was only released in Japan in 1979, prior to its U.S. CD reissue in 1990 -- it's a classic and easily one of Green's finest albums. In contrast to the soul-jazz and jazz-funk for which Green is chiefly remembered, Matador is a cool-toned, straight-ahead modal workout that features some of Green's most advanced improvisation, even more so than his sessions with Larry Young. Part of the reason for that is that Green is really pushed by his stellar backing unit: pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Elvin Jones. Not only is Green leading a group that features one-half of the classic Coltrane Quartet, but he even takes on Coltrane's groundbreaking arrangement of "My Favorite Things" -- and more than holds his own over ten-plus minutes. In fact, every track on the album is around that length; there are extended explorations of two Green originals ("Green Jeans" and the title track) and Duke Pearson's Middle Eastern-tinged "Bedouin," plus the bonus cut "Wives and Lovers," a swinging Bacharach pop tune not on the Japanese issue. The group interplay is consistently strong, but really the spotlight falls chiefly on Green, whose crystal-clear articulation flourishes in this setting. And, for all of Matador's advanced musicality, it ends up being surprisingly accessible. This sound may not be Green's claim to fame, but Matador remains one of his greatest achievements.- by Steve Huey, AMG

Flowing and endlessly inventive in its own right, "Matador" is also a great musical document in that it unites half of John Coltrane's quartet and Sonny Rollins' bassist (Bob Cranshaw) behind Green's liquid guitar. While Coltrane in particular was in the midst of reinventing jazz as we know it at the time of this release (1965), his sidemen, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, seem perfectly at ease with Green's relaxed but firmly swinging approach. Particularly interesting from an historical perspective is Green's reworking of "My Favorite Things," the show tune that Coltrane had made famous in 1960. Trane reworked it many times, and by the time of his volcanic performance at the 1963 Newport Jazz Festival, it bore little resemblance to the gentle, Eastern-flavored waltz he'd created three years before. Green brings "My Favorite Things" back to the way Coltrane originally recorded it. Tyner plays the familiar recurring vamp and Jones sets up the waltz beat over which he lays multiple rhythms. Because Green played a single-note style with little or no chording, the guitar easily takes the place of Trane's soprano sax. The only way that I can describe Green's solo on the tune is that it sings. He stays with the complexity of Jones' drumming as well as Trane would and remains in firm control throughout the course of a great solo that recalls the saxophonist's work and phrasing without ever sacrificing his own unique voice. Careful jazz listeners who have not already done so will enjoy playing Grant's version of "My Favorite Things" back to back with any and all of Trane's incarnations. The CD includes a great bonus track as well: the Bacharach tune "Wives and Lovers," which was recorded by Dionne Warwick. The original tune fairly oozes swinging '60s easy listening cheese, but as with nearly all Bacharach tunes it retains a nugget of melodic intelligence and integrity and Grant finds this core and taps it. In fact, all the tunes on the release are nearly impeccable, so the inclusion of "Bedouin" from the great and underrated composer/pianist Duke Pearson is no surprise. Pearson's version on the now-deleted Blue Note release "Wahoo!" is a great Middle Eastern-flavored minor gem, and Green again proves himself up to the task of covering it, as he exploits its minor-keyed, exotic sound. Tyner, as elsewhere, works seamlessly behind Green and contributes a crystalline solo. In 1965 pop music was getting ready to embark on an era when rock groups would think nothing of spending weeks and months on a recording session. Think of that when you put on "Matador," which Green and company recorded in one session. Yet "Matador" for some reason never found its way to the record bins (except in Japan) until Michael Cuscuna recently rescued it. Go figure. - Tyler Smith,

Artist: Grant Green
Album: Matador
Year: 1965
Label: Blue Note (1990)
Runtime: 51:16

1.  Matador (Grant Green) 10:53
2.  My Favorite Things (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammaerstein) 10:25
3.  Green Jeans (Grant Green) 9:12
4.  Bedouin (Duke Pearson) 11:43
5.  Wives And Lovers (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) 9:00
Grant Green (Guitar)
McCoy Tyner (Piano)
Bob Cranshaw (Double Bass)
Elvin Jones (Drums)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Elemer Balazs - Always That Moment 2

Jazz is the art of improvisation the raw material of which can be almost anything. Current dictates of fashion favour folk music from the world over as the springboard for improvisation or, at the other extreme, they demand a sort of classical approach to spontaneous creation. The material on this album will be classed as straight jazz - there are no Gipsy cimbaloms, Andean nose flutes or Balinese thumb-pianos in evidence, nor do we hear echoes of Bach or Bartók - yet this is mainstream with a difference. The themes used are old Hungarian popular songs, most of them penned when none of the musicians heard on this record were even born. Yet these songs have transcended generations, they are imbedded in the musical subconscious of today's Hungarians, in fact they are part of our urban folklore. Melodically the songs composed in the once vibrant coffee houses of Budapest are almost as idiosyncratic as Parisian chansons but what lends special piquancy to their present reincarnation is the tremendously fresh approach of the musicians, who constitute the top echelon of two generations of Hungarian jazzmen. - by Peter Pallai, from the CD cover

"Elemér is one of the best drummers around right now, in my opinion. He plays with such musicality and finesse and has the ability to listen inside each musical moment with the kind of spontaneous decision making that allows everyone that plays with him to sound their best. He also has a wonderful touch on the instrument - I always enjoy the chance to play with him and to hear him." - Pat Metheny

Artist: Elemer Balazs Group
Album: Always that Moment 2
Year: 2008
Label: BMC
Runtime: 55:13

1.  Nem mondhatom el / I Can't Tell (Jeno Horvath) 7:01
2.  En mindenkiben csalodtam / Every One of Them Let Me Down (Pal Koszegi/Jeno Partos) 8:08
3.  Csak a szepre emlekezem / I Only Remember the Good Times (Julia Hajdu/Rudolf Halasz) 5:34
4.  Felteni kell / Hold on to Love (Szabolcs Fenyes/Ivan Szenes) 4:14
5.  Ha arulnak majd gesztenyet / If there are Chesnuts for Sale (Andras Fay/Tamas Nemenyi) 6:37
6.  Felig sem szerelem / It Was Nothing Like Love (Pal S. Gabor/Ivan Szenes) 4:46
7.  Hol van az a nyar / What Happened to that Summer (Lajos Lajtai) 5:14
8.  Hullo falevelek / Autumn Leaves (Jozsef Kozma) 13:39

Elemer Balazs (Drums)
Jozsef Balazs (Piano)
Jozsef Barcza Horvath (Double Bass)
Zoltan Zana (Tenor Saxophone)
Gabor Bolla (Tenor Saxophone)
Marton Fenyvesi (Guitar)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Eric Reed - The Swing and I

Eric Reed may be one of the most rapidly maturing of the young generation of jazz pianists, as his most recent recording attests. The self-assurance, conviction and stylistic breadth he brings to this release far surpass his earlier work, which was promising. In this trio recording, Reed draws on a remarkably wide range of musical influences and comes up with a more personal language than he ever hinted at before. Though there's no mistaking the sources of his inspiration-hard-charging church piano, early 20th Century classical keyboard, vintage blues styles-Reed effectively shapes these elements for his own musical purposes. Whether offering programmatic portraits in "The Gemini Suite," an atmospheric setting in "A Spoonful of Sugar" or exquisitely expressive playing in "Ahmad's Blues," he firmly establishes himself as a major, emerging voice in jazz piano. - by Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Pianist Eric Reed is one of a growing number of talented musicians who have emerged from Wynton Marsalis' bands to pursue rewarding solo careers in their own right. Born in Philadelphia in 1970, Reed's first exposure to music came through his father, a minister and local gospel singer; he began playing piano at age two and soon discovered jazz, quickly developing into a musical prodigy. He entered music school at age seven, and resisted classical training in favor of jazz, inspired early on by Dave Brubeck, Ramsey Lewis, Art Blakey, and Horace Silver. Four years later, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, where he digested enough jazz history that he was able to begin playing around the city's jazz scene as a teenager, both as a leader and a sideman for the likes of Gerald Wilson, Teddy Edwards, John Clayton, and Clora Bryant. He first met Wynton Marsalis at age 17, and toured briefly with the trumpeter the following year (his first and only at Cal State-Northridge). In 1989, Reed officially joined Marsalis' band as the replacement for Marcus Roberts; the following year, he issued his debut album as a leader, A Soldier's Hymn, on Candid, with backing by his regular trio of bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. Over 1991-1992, Reed worked with Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson as a sidelight, returning to Marsalis' group by the end of 1992. He cut a pair of well-received albums for MoJazz, It's All Right to Swing and The Swing and I, during 1993-1994, and in 1995 embarked on his first tour as leader of his own group. - from Amazon website

Artist: Eric Reed
Album: The Swing and I
Year: 1994
Label: MoJazz (1995)
Runtime: 68:11

1.  The Swing And I (Eric Reed) 4:38
2.  The Gemini Suite: The First Man - "Scotty" (Eric Reed) 7:03
3.  The Gemini Suite: The Second Man - "Frank Marshall" (Eric Reed) 2:24
4.  The Gemini Suite: The Fourth Man - "Holden Caulfield" (Eric Reed) 3:18
5.  Felix The Cat (Eric Reed) 3:50
6.  Ahmad's Blues (Ahmad Jamal) 8:52
7.  Ka-Boose (Eric Reed) 4:40
8.  Frenzia (Eric Reed) 0:49
9.  A Spoonful Of Sugar (Eric Reed) 7:21
10.  Listen Here (Eddie Harris) 3:56
11.  Uncle Lucius' Interlude (Eric Reed) 0:27
12.  Old Flame (Eric Reed) 5:33
13.  Healing Hand (Eric Reed) 3:42
14.  Evergreen (Eric Reed) 2:34
15.  Big Dogs (Eric Reed) 3:21
16.  Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord (Traditional/arr. Eric Reed) 3:12
17.  Acknowledgement (John Coltrane) 0:58
18.  Praise #1 (Eric Reed) 1:25

Eric Reed (Piano)
Ben Wolfe (Double Bass) - 1-4,6-9,14,15,18
Rodney Whitaker (Double Bass) - 5,10-13,15-17
Greg Hutchinson (Drums)
Eddie Bailey (Vocals)
Denise Morgan (Backing Vocals)
Suzzane Williams (Backing Vocals)
Beverly Taylor (Backing Vocals)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Senol Filiz, Coskun Özer, Murat Aydemir - Sufi's Dreams

A collaboration between Senol Filiz, Coskun Özer and Murat Aydemir. They interpreting the sufi classics of Turkish music with traditional turkish instruments, in their own style.

Artist: Senol Filiz, Coskun Özer, Murat Aydemir
Album: Sufi's Dream
Year: 2004
Label: Asia Production
Runtime: 43:06

1. Ney Taksimi (Senol Filiz) 2:14
2. Günül Hayran Oluptur (Traditional) 8:31
3. A Sultanim (Traditional) 8:27
4. Sol Cennetin Irmaklari (Traditional) 2:25
5. Tanbur Taksim (Traditional) 3:12
6. Seni Ben Severim (Traditional) 3:33
7. Macnuna Sordular (Traditional) 3:08
8. Milk-i Bekadan Gelmisem (Traditional) 3:19
9. Bonus Track (Senol Filiz/Coskun Özer/Murat Aydemir) 8:17

Aziz Senol Filiz (Ney and Bendir)
Lüftiye Coskun Özer (Kemence)
Murat Aydemir (Tanbur)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Frank Sinatra - Swing Easy and Songs for Young Lovers

Songs for Young Lovers was the first album Frank Sinatra recorded for Capitol, as well as his first collaboration with Nelson Riddle. It was also one of the first -- arguably the very first -- concept album. Sinatra, Riddle, and producer Voyle Gilmore decided that the new album format should be a special event, featuring a number of songs arranged around a specific theme; in addition, the new format was capable of producing a more detailed sound, which gave Riddle more freedom in his arrangements and orchestrations. Songs for Young Lovers is a perfect example of this. Supported by a small orchestra, Sinatra and Riddle create an intimate, romantic atmosphere on the record, breathing new life into standards like "My Funny Valentine," "They Can't Take That Away from Me," "I Get a Kick Out of You," and "A Foggy Day." There is a breezy confidence to Sinatra's singing, and Riddle's arrangements are more complex than they initially appear. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

As the title implies, the record concentrates on up-tempo swingers. Again, the songs were all standards -- "Just One of Those Things," "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams," "All of Me" -- that benefitted from the new thematic setting, the new arrangements, and, of course, Sinatra's increasingly playful and textured vocals. Sinatra plays around with the melodies without leaving them behind, delivering each line with precision. It ranks as one of his most jazzy performances, as well as one of his most fun and carefree records. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

Artist: Frank Sinatra
Album: Swings Easy! (1-8) / Songs for Young Lovers (9-16)
Year: 1954
Label: Capitol (1987)
Runtime: 41:10

1.  Just One Of Those Things (Cole Porter) 3:14
2.  I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter (Fred Ahlert/Joe Young) 2:26
3.  Sunday (Chester Conn/Ned Miller) 2:29
4.  Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (Harry Barris/Ted Koehler/Billy Moll) 2:15
5.  Taking A Chance On Love (Vernon Duke/Ted Fetter/John Latouche) 2:12
6.  Jeepers Creepers (Johnny Mercer/Harry Warren) 2:23
7.  Get Happy (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 2:25
8.  All Of Me (Gerard Marks/Seymour Simons) 2:07
9.  My Funny Valentine (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 2:34
10.  The Girl Next Door (Ralph Blaine/Hugh Martin) 2:39
11.  A Foggy Day (George Gerswin/Ira Gershwin) 2:42
12.  Like Someone In Love (Jonny Burke/James Van Heusen) 3:10
13.  I Get A Kick Out Of You (Cole Porter) 2:57
14.  Little Girl Blue (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 2:55
15.  They Can't Take That Away From Me (George Gerswin/Ira Gershwin) 1:59
16.  Violets For Your Firs (Tom Adair/Matt Dennis) 3:06

Frank Sinatra (Vocals)
Nelson Riddle (Arranger, Conductor)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Abdullah Ibrahim - Water from an Ancient Well

Also made available domestically at one time by the defunct Black Hawk label, this superior Abdullah Ibrahim recording features the pianist/composer with a very strong septet. Such superior musicians as tenor saxophonist Ricky Ford, altoist Carlos Ward, baritonist Charles Davis, and trombonist Dick Griffin are heard at their most creative and emotional on these eight Ibrahim originals. Many of the melodies (particularly "Mandela," "Song for Sathima," "Water From an Ancient Well," and the beautiful "The Wedding") are among Ibrahim's finest compositions. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

This wonderful CD is one of my favourite. As usual, Ibrahim blends truly African music to the highly westernized music form, jazz. This truly is jazz, but it, more than any other jazz music i've heard, begs us to think for a moment of all the injustice some people have had to go through. It does this in a similar way as Benigni's "La vita è bella" does to confront the Third Reich - with beauty and humour.
The title, gives us an idea of the concept - we see members of an african community, walk to and fro an ancient well for water. Their ancestors used to do this, and on this ground, the ancestors of all humankind lived some 150.000 years before. Its in Africa were our history begins - and its there where some of the greatest crimes have been commited. Let's remember that Ibrahim is from South Africa.
I've mentioned beauty, and there's beauty here all right. I'm not surprised that another critic here deemed "The Wedding" good enough for his own wedding. I think that's a wonderful idea - maybe I do it. But The Wedding (as The Mountain) can be found on several other of Ibrahim's recordings. There is another gem here, and that's the title song - its in my opinion huntingly beautiful, symbolic (musical term: programmatic) and brings out tears in my eyes. Seldom has jazz music flown so high! - by Steinar,

Artist: Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar Brand)
Album: Water from an Ancient Weel
Year: 1985
Label: Enja (1992)
Runtime: 46:46

1.  Mandela 4:59
2.  Song For Sathima 6:12
3.  Manenberg Revisited 6:11
4.  Tuang Guru 5:26
5.  Water From An Ancient Well 11:58
6.  The Wedding 2:41
7.  The Mountain 3:21
8.  Sameeda 5:56
All compositions by Abdullah Ibrahim 

Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar Brand) (Piano)
Carlos Ward (Alto Flute)
Ricky Ford (Tenor Saxophone)
Charles Davis (Baritone Saxophone)
David Williams (Double Bass)
Ben Riley (Drums)


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