Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bola Sete - At the Monterey Jazz Festival

The late guitarist Djalma de Andrada gained the Portuguese nickname Bola Sete or ("seven ball" in English) for the single black ball in the game of billiards (not to be confused with the eight ball of pool) because he was the only black player in a Brazilian jazz group. Like many of his compatriots during the 1960s influx of Brazilian musicians to America, Bola Sete had roots in both Brazil’s European classical and African folk traditions. But he was also strongly influenced by jazz masters such as Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, and especially Barney Kessel, and he developed a jazz-based, steely-toned acoustic guitar style. Bola Sete at the Monterey Jazz Festival captures a remarkable live set from 1966. Bola Sete’s love of jazz played a large part in shaping his career in the States. After he joined pianist Vince Guaraldi’s trio on the West Coast, he was heard by the great trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie in 1962. Gillespie raved about his Brazilian Afro-jazz fusion, and by the time the concert documented here took place, Bola Sete had formed his own combo. On this set, which features a medley of songs from the movie Black Orpheus and two original compositions, including an exquisitely Brazilian "Flamenco", the players catch fire. There is brilliant interplay among the guitarist and drummer Paulinho Da Costa, virtuosic on a range of percussion instruments that create a true street-samba feel; the sensitive bassist Sebastião Neto; and the audience, whose roars of approval create an ideal, Carnival-like excitement around the music. - from the cdcover

Nine months before a certain other guitarist made a huge splash at a Monterey music festival, Brazilian acoustic guitarist Bola Sete left his own mark on an American jazz audience still feeding its voracious appetite for all things Brazilian. To be sure, Bola Sete didn't sneak up on the American public quite like Jimi Hendrix did--after all, Sete had made waves as part of Vince Guaraldi's ensemble in the years leading up to this historic 1966 performance. The classically trained Sete wowed fans with a unique style that seemed to fall somewhere between Andres Segovia's elegance and Django Reinhardt's exuberance, a space not as wide as you might think. By the summer of '66, Sete had graduated to his own trio with bassist Sebastiao Neto and percussion master Paulinho Da Costa.The centerpiece of this performance is the three-song "Black Orpheus" Medley," but Sete adds a pair of noteworthy originals. "Soul Samba" has subtle blues inflections that remind you that Barney Kessel was the first jazz guitarist to catch his ear. "Flamenco" is a simply stunning solo performance that blends challenging chording with incredibly speedy single-note runs, and offers the most overt example of his comfort with the folk traditions of his homeland. At some points, he amazingly plays his own bass accompaniment to his upper-register notes. This long-overdue 2000 CD reissue fleshes out the original LP release by adding 4 minutes to the medley as well as 2 unreleased cuts (with poorer sound quality) from the show, including a bossa nova arrangement of Ellington's "Satin Doll." - by Marc Greilsamer, AMG

Artist: Bola Sete
Album: Bola Sete at the Monterey Jazz Festival
Year: 1966
Label: Verve
Runtime: 46:23

1.  Black Orpheus Medley: Manha De Carnaval/A Felicidade (Adieu Tristesse)/Samba De Orfeu (Luiz Bonfá/Antonio Carlos Jobim) 17:28
2.  Soul Samba (Bola Sete) 6:47
3.  Flamenco (Bola Sete) 8:32
4.  Spoken Introduction 0:39
5.  Coisa Numero Um (Clovis Mello/Moacir Santos) 5:01
6.  Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Johnny Mercer/Billy Strayhorn) 7:56

Bola Sete (Guitar)
Sebastiao Neto (Bass and Percussion)
Paulinho Da Costa (Drums)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Duke Ellington - The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse

This CD reissue brings back one of Duke Ellington's most intriguing works from his later years. "Acht O'Clock Rock" actually shows the influence of rock while some of the other selections hint at both African folk music and more advanced areas of jazz. However the familiar Ellington sound was still very much intact in 1971. The main soloists include Harold Ashby and Paul Gonsalves on tenors, baritonist Harry Carney (featured on "Didjeridoo") and altoist Norris Turney; the versatility of drummer Rufus Jones really helps the colorful music. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

One of the most powerful performances of Duke Ellington and his band in my entire collection.Shorn of such stallwarts as Jonny Hodges,Jimmy Hamilton,Ray Nance,Sam Woodyard a.o.,This album pulsates with exotic beats,deep orchestral tones and a drive that competes with his most famous recordings.This is not just a brilliant example of the 'latter' day Duke, this is a brilliant examle 'of Duke!'Paul Gonsalves,Rufus Jones,Noris Turney,Harold Ashby,Harry Carney and The Duke himself are the main protagonists,but the band as a whole are simply at their best.I think that Dukes opening speach, so cool and flavoured,sets the pace.This album is a must for any lover of good music.I love it and Im sure you will too. - by Robert Bonnici,

Artist: Duke Ellington
Album: The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse
Year: 1971
Label: OJC (Digital remastering, 1991)
Runtime: 38:00

1.  Chinoiserie 8:16
2.  Didjeridoo 3:41
3.  Afrique 5:27
4.  Acht O'Clock Rock 3:05
5.  Gong 4:49
6.  Tang 4:49
7.  True 3:40
8.  Hard Way 4:08
All compositions by Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington (Piano)
Cootie Williams (Trumpet)
Money Johnson (Trumpet)
Mercer Ellington (Trumpet)
Eddie Preston (Trumpet)
Booty Wood (Trombone)
Malcolm Taylor (Trombone)
Chuck Connors (Bass Trombone)
Russell Procope (Alto Saxophone, Clarinet)
Norris Turney (Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute)
Paul Gonsalves (Tenor Saxophone)
Harold Ashby (Tenor Saxophone)
Harry Carney (Baritone Saxophone)
Joe Benjamin (Double Bass)
Rufus Jones (Drums)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Paul Horn - The Altitude of the Sun

For "The Altitude of the Sun", recorded in 1976 and produced by Teo Nacero, Horn introduced to American listeners the compositions, arrangements and performances of Egberto Gismonti, a brilliant guitarist/pianist from Rio de Janeiro who later went on to record several solo albums of his own for the ECM label.
For "Paul Horn & Nexus", recorded in 1975, flutist Paul Horn joied forces with Nexus, a touring group of percussionists and musical instrument collectors who hailed from Toronto, Canada. Though inspired improvisations, Horn and his friends created an emotionally potent and stylistically diverse album that colorfully merged strong, earthy rhythms eith cultural influences from South America, Africa, India, Tibet and the U.S.A. - from the liner notes

Artist: Paul Horn Featuring Egberto Gismonti and Nexus
Album: The Altitude of the Sun
Year: 1975-76
Label: Black Sun (1989)
Runtime: 78:09

1.  Danca das Cabecas (Head Dance) (Egberto Gismonti) 7:10
2.  Bodas de Prata (Silver Wedding) (Egberto Gismonti) 8:08
3.  Altura do Sol (The Alititude of the Sun) (Egberto Gismonti) 3:23
4.  Carmo (Egberto Gismonti) 2:38
5.  Tango (Egberto Gismonti) 5:14
6.  Quarup (Worship Ceremony) (Egberto Gismonti) 4:49
7.  Parque Laje (A Park In Rio) (Egberto Gismonti) 3:33
8.  Salvador (Egberto Gismonti) 5:07
9.  Somba (Paul Horn and Nexus) 5:11
10.  Friendship (Paul Horn and Nexus) 2:07
11.  Nexus (Paul Horn and Nexus) 5:19
12.  Mbira (Paul Horn and Nexus) 3:52
13.  Latin Tala (Paul Horn and Nexus) 2:46
14.  African Funeral Song (Paul Horn and Nexus) 4:57
15.  Eastern Star (Paul Horn and Nexus) 4:37
16.  Dharma (Paul Horn and Nexus) 6:10
17.  Capetown (Paul Horn and Nexus) 2:58

Paul Horn (Flutes, Piccolo, Clarinet and Alto Saxophone)
Egberto Gismonti (Piano and Acoustic Guitar) - 1-8
Roberto Silva (Drums and Percussion) - 1-8
Ron Carter (Double Bass) - 1-8
Don Salvador (Electric Piano) - 1-8
Dom Um Romao (Percussion) - 1-8
Robert Becker (Percussion) - 9-17
William Cahn (Percussion) - 9-17
Robin Engleman (Percussion) - 9-17
Russell Hartenburger (Percussion) - 9-17
John Wyre (Percussion) - 9-17
Michael Craden (Percussion) - 9-17

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ginger Baker Trio - Falling off the Roof

The second project to match drummer Ginger Baker with guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Charlie Haden does not reach the heights of the first effort. Guest appearances by banjoist Bela Fleck on three songs and guitarist Jerry Hahn on one are welcome, but the diversity and wide scope of the first Baker trio set are not reached. The music often leans toward country (Frisell was probably preparing mentally for his Nashville project), the originals are less memorable than before, and the element of danger is mostly absent. A bit of a disappointment. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

There are a whole lotta musicians who would kill for a resumé like that of peripatetic drummer Ginger Baker: member of Cream and Blind Faith, bandmate of Fela Kuti, survivor of a drum showdown with Elvin Jones, olive farmer, polo player, born-again jazzer (his '95 trio recording, Going Back Home, certified his abilities). Baker's latest record, Falling Off The Roof, is another vivid chapter in his ongoing self-reinvention. Once again backed by Bill Frisell on guitar and Charlie Haden on bass, Ginger propels the groove through a rocking/swinging melange of originals and standards that are indelibly memorable. An unselfish bandleader who gives plenty of room to his mates, Baker nonetheless looms over the proceedings with a Blakey-like persona-subtly throwing vibes by strategic drum rolls and bombs, brushing up billows of wind, shifting time and space, rocking out. Highlights-that's tough, but the gothic blues of Frisell's "Skeleton," Baker's 4-on-the-floor "Vinco Vecchio" and the bluegrassified Frisell/Béla Fleck (banjo) plecturings on Haden's "Taney County" are keepers. So is Falling Off The Roof. - by Tom Terrell,

Artist: Ginger Baker Trio
Album: Falling off the Roof
Year: 1996
Label: Atlantic HDCD
Runtime: 57:51

1.  Falling off the Roof (Ginger Baker) 4:00
2.  Amarillo, Barbados (Bill Frisell) 4:41
3.  Bemsha Swing (Thelonius Monk/Denzil Best) 4:21
4.  Sunday at the Hillcrest (Charlie Haden) 5:54
5.  Au Privave (Charlie Parker) 3:06
6.  Our Spanish Love Song (Charlie Haden) 5:21
7.  C.B.C. Mimps (Ginger Baker) 6:49
8.  Skeleton (Bill Frisell) 5:57
9.  Vino Vecchio (Ginger Baker) 3:56
10.  Day the Sun Came Out (Ginger Baker/Bill Frisell) 8:23
11.  Taney County (Charlie Haden) 5:23

Ginger Baker (Drums)
Bill Frisell (Guitar)
Charlie Haden (Double Bass)
Bela Fleck (Banjo) - 2,5,11
Jerry Hahn (Electric Guitar) - 4

Monday, October 15, 2012

Oscar Peterson Trio - West Side Story

West Side Story was a bit of an unusual session for several reasons. First, the popularity of both the Broadway musical and the film version that followed meant that there were many records being made of its music. Second, rather than woodshed on the selections prior to entering the studio, the Oscar Peterson Trio spontaneously created impressions of the musical's themes on the spot. "Something's Coming" seems like a series of vignettes, constantly shifting its mood, as if moving from one scene to the next. Ray Brown plays arco bass behind Peterson in the lovely "Somewhere," while the feeling to "Jet Song" is very hip in the trio's hands. The snappy interplay between the musicians in the brisk setting of "Tonight" turns it into a swinger. "Maria" initially has a light, dreamy quality, though it evolves into a solid groove. The romp through "I Feel Pretty" is full of humor, while the CD closes with a brief reprise of several themes from the musical to wrap the session with a flourish. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Oscar Peterson discography is so immense that it's difficult to sort through the entries. If you're looking for a first purchase, "West Side Story" is a good pick, particularly if you are a fan of the original broadway or film soundtrack. Piano playing seemed to come so easily for Peterson that at times on records I've had the feeling he's going through the paces. When he is at his best, though, he swings clean and hard and demonstrates he knows a tune inside and out. That is the case throughout this release. And he's not afraid to turn some of the tunes in different directions. For example, he steps up the tempo on "Tonight," a potentially risky move on an extremely romantic song, but the move works as Peterson, backed up by Ray Brown's steady bass and Ed Thigpen's tasteful drums, never falters. On the other hand, the pianist does not shy away from the lyricism of "Somewhere," accenting the theme with ornate chording that mines the yearning and sadness that is at the heart of "West Side Story." And he finds a relaxed, loping gait on "Jet Song," a pace that for me captures the cheerful arrogance of the play's street gang. Interpretations of "West Side Story" have been attempted before, most notably Dave Liebman's more experimental effort a few years back. For me, Peterson's approach is the more successful of the two in that I think he came closer to finding the pulse of the original work. This is a good addition to the mainstream section of your jazz piano collection. - by hyperbolium,

Artist: Oscar Peterson Trio
Album: West Side Story
Year: 1962
Label: Verve (1984)
Runtime: 35:42

1.  Something's Coming 3:56
2.  Somewhere 5:36
3.  Jet Song 7:49
4.  Tonight 4:36
5.  Maria 4:55
6.  I Feel Pretty 4:29
7.  Reprise 4:18
All compositions by Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim 

Oscar Peterson (Piano)
Ray Brown (Double Bass)
Ed Thigpen (Drums)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Habib Koite & Bamada - Ma Ya

As vast as Africa is, it stands to reason that the continent would offer a diversity of pop music. Those who've listened to mostly soukous or zouk might think of African pop as exuberant, fast and hyper, but those whose only exposure to African music was contemporary Ethiopian pop might think of Afro-pop as moody and dusky. Reflective and folk-like, Habib Koite's Ma Ya is a far cry from African dance music. In 1998, the expressive Malian singer/guitarist enjoyed a lot of exposure in both Africa and Europe with Ma Ya, which didn't come out in the U.S. until early 1999. Backed by his band, Bamada, Koite is expressive and evocative on originals such as "Kumbin," "Wassive" and "Foro Bana." You might not understand the lyrics that Koite is singing, but it's obvious that he brings a lot of feeling and charisma to them. - by Alex Henderson, AMG

Habib Koite is the undisputed master musician of modern West African music. This is of course a value judgement, but no other contemporary performer has come so close to capturing the essence of classical instrumental musical of the Manding people alongside an undeniably accessible sensibility for Western melodic structure. By paring down the sound of his band, and using traditional arrangements, he has produced a smooth, warm sound that grooves like a python or a leopard out for a stroll. Simply put, Habib tears it up! While a former generation of West African stars (notably Youssou N'Dour from Senegal and greats such as Salif Keita and Oumou Sangare from Mali)have approached popular music from a vocal standpoint, Habib (perhaps in a similar fashion to Ali Farka Toure) has chosen to emphasize the instrumental approach and in particular the tradition of plucked stringed instruments such as the guitar-like ngoni and the 21-string kora. What seperates his music from more traditional offerings is the finesse of the arrangements (from a western musical perspective) which sacrifices none of the dynamic and rhythmic force of traditional Manding music but yet also enables a wonderfully coherent and supple melodic structure to emerge from the music. In this, he is aided by the other musicians of Bamada (virtuoso side men all), who contribute solos, riffs and solid support in an explicitly jazz-band fashion. One consequence of this is that Habib's live concerts follow a very jazz-like format with thematic statements, choruses, individual solos and corresponding applause from the audience. As an avowed traditionalist, my own personal favorites occur when sparse but judiciously placed rhythmic motifs punctuate the wonderful flow of the music. Check the tracks when the drummer switches from kit to playing a huge gourd with sticks. Beautiful. Trained as a western classical guitarist in addition to his undoubted expertise in several of the musical traditions of Mali, Habib positions his own music as a fusion of different musical forms. This has enabled him to develop a wonderful balance between rhythm, melody and harmony that has none of the overpowering sonic waves of performers like King Sunny Ade or Youssou. The wonderful understated arrangements also recall traditional griot music and the Fulani guitar traditions which Ali Farka Toure introduced to western audiences. - by Christopher Fung,

Artist: Habib Koité & Bamada
Album: Ma Ya
Year: 1998
Label: Contre-Jour
Runtime: 60:47

1.  Wassiyé 4:44
2.  Ma Ya 5:30
3.  Bitile 5:56
4.  Sirata 5:29
5.  Foro Bana 5:14
6.  Saramaya 5:05
7.  Kumbin 4:38
8.  Maraka Kaso 5:06
9.  Pula Ku 4:34
10.  Komine 4:58
11.  I Mada 5:43
12.  Mansane Cisse 3:47
All compositions by Habib Koité

Habib Koité (Guitar, Vocals)
Baba Sissoko (Tama, N'goni, Balafon, Caragnan)
Boubacar Sidibé (Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals,)
Souleymane Ann (Drums, Calebasse, Vocals)
Abdoul Wahab Berthé (Bass Guitar, Kamale n'goni)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Alban Darche - Trumpet Kingdom

Along with a number of other exciting productions, this performance also promises to be one of the great novelties of the Budapest Jazz Festival. Alban Darche, the French saxophonist whose successful forays into contemporary music have already earned him a lot of kudos, has already attempted in one of his orchestras to elicit a trumpet sound that is, at the same time, hotter and denser than that of the conventional big band trumpet sections. For that very reason, for his new project he has again approached such trumpeters whose sound transcends the barriers of brass. - from

The live performance of Trumpet Kingdom was one of the great novelties of the MOL Budapest Jazz Festival 2006 and of the Mediawave 2007 in Győr. Alban Darche, the French saxophonist whose successful forays into contemporary music have already earned him a lot of kudos, has already attempted in one of his orchestras to elicit a trumpet sound that is, at the same time, hotter and denser than that of the conventional big band trumpet sections. For that very reason, for his new project he has again approached such trumpeters whose sound transcends the barriers of brass.
“Trumpet Kingdom” paints a broad and varied canvas. The music drifts from moody, Miles Davis-like soliloquies to forays into the realm of almost free improvisation with bits of fun recalling the sounds of European fairgrounds thrown in for good measure, while parts of the album could easily be labelled as contemporary music.- by Peter Pallai

Artist: Alban Darche
Album: Trumpet Kingdom
Year: 2008
Label: BMC
Runtime: 43:01


1.  Latin Bruno (Alban Darche) 4:55
2.  Joseph & sa Maman (Alban Darche) 3:38
3.  Trumpet Kingdom 2 (Alban Darche) 6:37
4.  B.E.P. (Alban Darche) 1:53
5.  Trumpet Kingdom 3 (Alban Darche) 4:14
6.  Fanfare du Jour (Geoffroy Tamisier) 1:02
7.  Hipocoristique (Alban Darche) 6:08
8.  Novenus (Alban Darche) 8:07
9.  Alex (Alban Darche) 6:23

Alban Darche (Tenor Saxophone)
Eric Vloelmans (Trumpet)
Laurent Blondiau (Trumpet)
Geoffroy Tamisier (Trumpet)
Sylvain Rifflet (Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet)
Gabor Gado (Guitar)
Sebastien Boisseau (Double Bass)
Emmanuel Birault (Drums)


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