Monday, December 30, 2013

John Mayall - The Turning Point

This prophetically titled project represents yet another crossroad in John Mayall's ever evolving cast of prime British bluesmen. This album also signifies a distinct departure from the decibel drowning electrified offerings of his previous efforts, providing instead an exceedingly more folk and roots based confab. The specific lineup featured here is conspicuous in its absence of a lead guitarist, primarily due to Mayall recommending himself out of his most recent string man. After the passing of Brian Jones, the Rolling Stones decided to tour and at the behest of Mick Jagger, Mayall suggested Mick Taylor -- who had been with him since Crusade (1967). Mayall gave this potentially negative situation a positive outcome by retooling the combo into an acoustic quartet featuring old friends as well as some vital new sonic textures. Mayall (vocals/harmonica/slide guitar/telecaster six-string/hand & mouth percussion) joined forces with former associates Steve Thompson (bass) and Johnny Almond (tenor & alto sax/flute/mouth percussion), then added the talents of Jon Mark (acoustic finger-style guitar). It becomes readily apparent that Mark's precision and tasteful improvisational skills place this incarnation into heady spaces. The taut interaction and wafting solos punctuating "So Hard to Share" exemplify the controlled intensity of Mayall's prior electrified outings. Likewise, Mark's intricate acoustics pierce through the growl of Mayall's haunting slide guitar solos on "Saw Mill Gulch Road." The Turning Point also examines a shift in Mayall's writing. The politically charged "Laws Must Change," the personal "I'm Gonna Fight for You J.B." and the incomparable "Room to Move" are tinged with Mayall's trademark sense of irony and aural imagery. - by Lindsay Planer, AMG

Artist: John Mayall
Album: The Turning Point (Live at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, New York City)
Year: 1969
Label: Polydor (1987)
Runtime: 47:20

1.  The Laws Must Change (John Mayall) 7:22
2.  Saw Mill Gulch Road (John Mayall) 4:48
3.  I'm Gonna Fight for you J.B. (John Mayall) 5:24
4.  So Hard to Share (John Mayall) 6:57
5.  California (John Mayall/Steve Thompson) 9:31
6.  Thoughts About Roxanne (John Mayall/Steve Thompson) 8:21
7.  Room to Move (John Mayall) 4:57

John Mayall (Vocals, Harmonica, Slide Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Tambourine, Mouth Percussion)
Jon Mark (Acoustic Finger-Style Guitar)
Johnny Almond (Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Flutes, Mouth Percussion)
Steve Thompson (Bass Guitar)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Al di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia - Friday Night in San Francisco

Loose and spontaneous, this (mainly) live album is a meeting of three of the greatest guitarists in the world for an acoustic summit the likes of which the guitar-playing community rarely sees. Broken up into three duo and two trio performances, Friday Night in San Francisco catches all three players at the peaks of their quite formidable powers. The first track features Al di Meola and Paco de Lucía teaming up for a medley of di Meola's "Mediterranean Sundance" (first recorded by the duo on di Meola's classic 1976 album Elegant Gypsy) and de Lucía's own "Rio Ancho." It is a delightful performance, full of the fire and inhuman chops that one expects from two players of this caliber. However, the two guitarists obviously have big ears, and they complement each other's solos with percussive, driving rhythm parts. There is a laid-back, humorous element to Friday Night in San Francisco as well, best witnessed in di Meola and John McLaughlin's performance of Chick Corea's "Short Tales of the Black Forest." Rapid-fire licks from the pair soon give way to atonal striking of the body of the guitar, running picks along the strings, etc. Before the farce is completed, they have played a blues and quoted the Pink Panther theme. It is funny stuff, and it serves to dispel the image of the trio, especially di Meola, as super-serious clinicians more concerned with technique than music. The other great piece of evidence against such a narrow-minded claim can be found in both the quality of the compositions featured on Friday Night in San Francisco as well as the sensitivity and dynamic variation brought to the performances. A perfect example of this is the sole studio track, a McLaughlin composition entitled "Guardian Angel" (the opening theme of which is taken straight from "Guardian Angels," a song that appears on McLaughlin's 1978 Electric Dreams album). It is a fine piece, and one that features a haunting melody as well as some of the best solos on the record. All in all, Friday Night in San Francisco is a fantastic album and one of the best entries in all of these guitarists' fine discographies. - by Daniel Gioffre, AMG

Artist: Al di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucía
Album: Friday Night in San Francisco
Year: 1980
Label: Phonogram (1981)
Runtime: 41:12

1.  Mediterranean Sundance/Rio Ancho (Paco de Lucía/Al di Meola) 11:35
2.  Short Tales Of The Black Forest (Chick Corea) 8:44
3.  Frevo Rasgado (Egberto Gismonti) 7:57
4.  Fantasia Suite (Al di Meola) 8:54
5.  Guardian Angel (John McLaughlin) 4:00

Al di Meola (Acoustic Guitar)
John McLaughlin (Acoustic Guitar)
Paco de Lucia (Acoustic Guitar)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Wynton Marsalis - Live at Blues Alley

This double album features the great trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his 1986 quartet, a unit featuring pianist Marcus Roberts, bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts. Although Marsalis during this period still hinted strongly at Miles Davis, his own musical personality was starting to finally shine through. With the versatile Marcus Roberts (who thus far has been the most significant graduate from Marsalis's groups), Wynton Marsalis was beginning to explore older material, including on this set "Just Friends," and "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" other highlights include lengthy workouts on "Au Privave" and Kenny Kirkland's "Chambers of Tain." This two-fer is recommended, as are virtually all of Wynton Marsalis's recordings. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Wynton Marsalis Quartet
Album: Live at Blues Allley
Year: 1986
Label: CBS (1988)
Runtime: 117:36

CD1 [56:11]
1.  Knozz-Moe-King (Wynton Marsalis) 6:03
2.  Just Friends (John Klenner/Sam M. Lewis)  8:21
3.  Knozz-Moe-King (Interlude) (Wynton Marsalis) 3:52
4.  Juan (Marcus Roberts/Jeff Watts) 7:33
5.  Cherokee (Ray Noble) 2:50
6.  Delfeayo's Dilemma (Wynton Marsalis) 9:20
7.  Chambers of Tain (Kenny Kirkland) 15:11
8.  Juan (2) (Marcus Roberts/Jeff Watts) 2:55

CD2 [1:01:25]
1.  Au Privave (Charlie Parker) 14:35
2.  Knozz-Moe-King (Interlude) (Wynton Marsalis) 2:38
3.  Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans (Louis Alter/Eddie DeLange) 11:30
4.  Juan (Marcus Roberts/Jeff Watts) 3:15
5.  Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma/Johnny Mercer/Jacques Prévert) 9:41
6.  Knozz-Moe-King (Interlude) (Wynton Marsalis) 3:48
7.  Skain's Domain (Wynton Marsalis) 9:39
8.  Much Later (Wynton Marsalis) 6:15

Wynton Marsalis (Trumpet)
Marcus Roberts (Piano)
Robert Leslie Hurst (Double Bass)
Jeff "Tain" Watts (Drums)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Djivan Gasparyan & Michael Brook - Black Rock

With Black Rock, Canadian composer Michael Brook applies the same approach he used in his two Real World collaborations with Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn (Mustt Mustt and Night Song) to a new relationship with Armenian duduk specialist Djivan Gasparyan. This partnership proves to be more consistently fruitful than the first, producing a record of dazzling eclecticism and uncommon soulfulness. Gasparyan's duduk, an ancient instrument similar to the oboe, has an extraordinary range of expression: It exudes a heart-rending plangency on the mournful "Fallen Star," seductive sensuality on "Forbidden Love," and languid serenity on "Together Forever." Gasparyan also sings on the record, lending the gentle warmth of his voice to the textured instrumental work. Brook's arrangements -- consisting primarily of keyboards, light drums, and evocative ambient electric guitars -- bring a contemporary edge to the ancient mystery and emotiveness that characterize Gasparyan's work. Black Rock is open to the same criticisms of cultural exploitation that plagued the Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn albums, but one hopes that this fascinating cultural hybrid will be accepted on its own terms as a rich and expressive new creation. - by Evan Cater, AMG

Artist: Djivan Gasparyan & Michael Brook
Album: Black Rock
Yaer: 1998
Label: Real World
Runtime: 44:10

1.  To the River (Djivan Gasparyan/Michael Brook) 4:13
2.  Fallen Star (Djivan Gasparyan/Michael Brook) 4:52
3.  Take My Heart (Djivan Gasparyan/Michael Brook) 4:36
4.  Together Forever (Djivan Gasparyan/Michael Brook/Richard Evan) 6:53
5.  Freedom (Djivan Gasparyan/Michael Brook) 5:29
6.  Forbidden Love (Djivan Gasparyan/Michael Brook) 5:42
7.  Immigrant's Song (Djivan Gasparyan/Michael Brook) 6:56
8.  Dark Souls (Djivan Gasparyan/Michael Brook) 5:25

Djivan Gasparyan (Duduk and Vocals)
Michael Brook (Guitar, Bass, Keyboards and Programming)
Richard Evan (Guitar, Bass, Keyboards and Programming)
Jason Lewis (Drums and Percussion)
Roel Van Camp (Accordion)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Abdullah Ibrahim - South Africa

Abdullah Ibrahim's spiritual and very melodic South African folk music is always worth hearing and his individuality remains quite impressive. This set, recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, features the pianist (who also plays a bit of soprano and adds his emotional voice to the proceedings) with his longtime altoist Carlos Ward, bassist Essiet Okun Essiet, drummer Don Mumford and vocalist Johnny Classens. The music, dealing with themes related to South African life, is quite personal, unique and surprisingly accessible. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

The first half of this astounding live cd grabs you by the scruff and shakes you up. It makes you play air-drums and dance and then - take a breath - calm down, settle into some beautiful unaccompanied piano, the kind this master does so well. Rolling, emotional suspense and release followed by play offs with the reed player before re-settling into the groove and re-building for the energetic play out. Oh, so good. This is joyous music, played live and captured on tape for us lucky people. I had the pleasure, many years ago, of seeing and hearing Dollar Brand, as he was still known then, play at The Basement here in Sydney and that night is indelibly etched into my brain - sumptuous, innovative, beautiful music and this cd holds that same feeling. This is music to be immersed in, not analysed; to rejoice with rather than merely appreciate. Brilliant stuff. - by Noel A. Hodda,

Artist: Abdullah Ibrahim (Aka Dollar Brand)
Album: South Africa (Live in Montreux)
Year: 1986
Label: Enja
Runtime: 52:11

1.  Thaba Bosigo (Mountain of the night) 4:21
2.  Siya Hamba Namhlanje (We are leaving today) 3:28
3.  Iza-Ne Zembe Gawuale (Bring the Axe) 4:10
4.  Black and brown Cherries 7:59
5.  Our loving family 6:13
6.  African Dawn - For Monk 7:59
7.  Zimbabwe 4:22
8.  Elsie's River 6:03
9.  Pancakes 0:45
10.  Capetown Carnival 4:03
11.  Thaba Bosigo 2:42
All compositions by Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) (Piano, Soprano Saxophone and Vocals)
Johnny Classens (Vocals)
Carlos Ward (Flute and Alto Saxophone)
Essiet Okun Essiet (Double Bass)
Don Mumford (Drums)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Flavio Boltro - Forty Degrees

Flavio Boltro is born on 5 may 1961. His father, trumpeters and fan of jazz, send him since he was very young the love of music.
He starts playing trumpet at 9 years old and then enters the Turin school of Classical Music “G.Verdi”. During 7 years, he studied classical trumpet, especially with Carlo Arfinengo, trumpet player of Turin’s Symphonic Orchestra.
The Italien years
From 1982 to 1985, he plays regularly with Turin’s Symphonic Orchestra and the RAI Symphonic Orchestra (Italian TV network). He begins these first jazz gigs with Steve Grossman, Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins and David Williams in several clubs and major festivals.
From 1984 to 1986, he participates in the “Linguomania Quintet” of Maurizio Giammarco, with Roberto Gato on drums, Furio Di Castri on bass, Maurizio Giammarco on sax and Umberto Fiorentino on guitar (Reverberi CD). In 1986, the Italian newspaper “ Musica Jazz” gave him the award of “Best musician“ of the year. From this time he played with legendary musicians as Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Cobb, Bob Berg, Dave Liebman, Don Cherry , Billy Hart ,Richie Berach …… In 1987 an another jazz band is decisive in his musical career: the original trio with Manu Roche on drums and Furio Di Castri on bass which is converted in quartet with the venue of Joe Lovano ( Imagine CD). In 1992, he released his first CD as a leader: “Flabula”.
The French years
In 1994, Flavio Boltro an his friend Stefano Di Battista (saxophonist) enters the “Orchestre Nationnal de Jazz” conduct by Laurent Cugny. In three years, the ONJ released three CDs: In Tempo, Reminsing , Mercy,Mercy ( Polygram ) and played in several European cities. From 1996 to 2000, Michel Pettruciani engaged Flavio and Stefano in his sextet, which will tour all around the world (Both Worlds CD). In 1997, Flavio participated at the very noticed quintet” Di Battista/Boltro” with Eric Legnini on piano, Benjamin Henocq on drums and Rosario Bonaccorso on bass (Volare CD in Label Bleu awarded “ Best CD of the year”) In 2000, he enters the quintet of Michel Portal up 2005. He played also with Laurent de Wilde. He released two CDs as a leader with Blue Note (EMI): Road Runner in 1999 and 4O degrés in 2003. In 2003, he participated at the very original TRIO AIR with Giovanni Mirabassi on piano and Glen Ferris on trombone. The album Air get the award of “ Best album of the year 2003 “ from the French Jazz Academia. In 2009, this trio becomes a duo: Boltro/Mirabassi. - from

Artist: Flavio Boltro
Album: Forty Degrees
Year: 2002
Label: Blue Note (2003)
Runtime: 62:12

1.  Doctor K (Eric Legnini) 5:34
2.  Idea (Flavio Boltro) 4:45
3.  You're my Everything (Harry Warren) 8:44
4.  Take Away (Flavio Boltro) 5:52
5.  First Smile (Flavio Boltro) 4:10
6.  Jazz A Doc (Flavio Boltro) 8:11
7.  If I Were A Bell (Frank Loesser) 4:49
8.  Sabine (Flavio Boltro) 4:53
9.  Les Amis (Flavio Boltro) 7:59
10.  Magic Boltro (Eric Legnini) 7:09

Flavio Boltro (Trumpet)
Eric Legnini (Piano)
Remi Vignolo (Double Bass)
Franck Agulhon (Drums

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Willie Bobo - Bobo's Beat

Willie Bobo pulled an impressive lineup for his debut as a leader, due in part to a profile gained from his work with Cal Tjader and Herbie Mann. Leading the brass section in this midsized group is trumpeter Clark Terry, who lends the necessary grit and fire, while Joe Farrell's burring tenor gives the record dynamic range. Though Bobo's percussion kit is displayed on the front, it's occasionally difficult to appreciate his playing on the record; he sounds bored and in the background during a trio of Brazilian crossover numbers (this was the year of Jazz Samba, after all), leaving organist Frank Anderson to flare his way playfully through his own "Bossa Nova in Blue." Bobo does finally allow himself some solo space at the end of "Capers," after several minutes of brilliant interplay between brass and reeds. The highlight comes with the group's interpretation of Freddie Hubbard's "Crisis," a slow-burning hard bop number with Bobo's timbales shuffle framing more excellent sectioning, with Farrell's tenor and an unnamed trombone positioned in counterpoint to Terry's trumpet. With none of the Latin fire solo features or pop crossover material often found on "Stereo Spectacular" LPs of the day, Bobo's Beat is a jazz fan's delight: great work from all the principles, and a steady sense of inter-relational talents sounding off in close harmony with each other. - by John Bush, AMG

Artist: Willie Bobo
Album: Bobo's Beat
Year: 1962 (Roulette)
Label: EMI (2003)
Runtime: 39:25

1.  Bon Sueno (Frank Colon) 2:30
2.  Naked City Theme (Billy May) 2:17
3.  Felicidade (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes) 3:28
4.  Bossa Nova In Blue (Frank Anderson) 2:44
5.  Boroquinho (Christopher Boscole/Menescal) 4:30
6.  Crisis (Freddie Hubbard) 5:15
7.  Mi Fas Y Recordar (Bill Salter) 3:56
8.  Capers (Tom McIntosh)  3:47
9.  Let Your Hair Down Blues (Frank Anderson) 5:13
10.  Trinidad (Teacho Wiltshire) 2:59
11.  Timbale Groove (Teacho Wiltshire) 2:46

Willie Bobo (Timbale, Percussion)
Clark Terry (Trumpet)
Joe Farrell (Tenor Saxophone)
Frank Anderson (Piano, Organ)
Others unknown

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chet Baker - Love for Sale

This 1986 release finds the legendary trumpeter/singer at the end of his career. However, his inimitable style remains lucid and expressive. On this date, Baker plays a varied program, including uptempo Baker favorites "But Not for Me" and "If I Should Lose You." Baker was also one of the great balladeers of his generation, and even here, at the end of his life, his trumpet playing is unmistakably lyrical and "cool" on the soft-spoken and plaintive version of "You Can't Go Home Again." His mournful phrasing on the bossa nova-tinged "Arboway," highlights the trumpeter's fondness for breathy playing in the lower register of the instrument. A funky version of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" is a unique feature on this album, but even more exceptional is Baker's version of "Send in the Clowns," featuring Van Morrison on vocals. Finally, it should be noted that pianist, Michel Grailler, and bassist, Riccardo Del Fra, glue each tune together with impressive musical acumen.- from AMG

Artist: Chet Baker
Album: Love For Sale (Live at Ronnie Scott's)
Year: 1986
Label: Jazz Door
Runtime: 59:08

1. But Not For Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 5:57
2. Arboway (Rique Pantoja) 6:49
3. If I Should Lose You (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin) 6:09
4. My Ideal (Newell Chase/Leo Robin/Richard Whiting) 5:48
5. Nightbird (Enrico Pieranunzi) 6:45
6. Love For Sale (Cole Porter) 9:59
7. Shifting Down (Kenny Dorham) 5:46
8. You Can't Go Home Again (Don Sebesky) 8:01
9. Send In The Clowns (Stephen Sondheim) 3:49

Chet Baker (Trumpet, Vocals)
Michel Graillier (Piano)
Riccardo Del Fra (Double Bass)

Van Morrison (Vocals) - 9

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Miles Davis - Ascenseur pour l'échafaud

Jazz and film noir are perfect bedfellows, as evidenced by the soundtrack of Louis Malle's Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift to the Scaffold). This dark and seductive tale is wonderfully accentuated by the late-'50s cool or bop music of Miles Davis, played with French jazzmen -- bassist Pierre Michelot, pianist René Urtreger, and tenor saxophonist Barney Wilen -- and American expatriate drummer Kenny Clarke. This recording evokes the sensual nature of a mysterious chanteuse and the contrasting scurrying rat race lifestyle of the times, when the popularity of the automobile, cigarettes, and the late-night bar scene were central figures. Davis had seen a screening of the movie prior to his making of this music, and knew exactly how to portray the smoky hazed or frantic scenes though sonic imagery, dictated by the trumpeter mainly in D-minor and C-seventh chords. Michelot is as important a figure as the trumpeter because he sets the tone, as on the stalking "Visite du Vigile." While the mood of the soundtrack is generally dour and somber, the group collectively picks up the pace exponentially on "Diner au Motel." At times the distinctive Davis trumpet style is echoed into dire straits or death wish motifs, as on "Generique" or "L'Assassinat de Carala," respectively. Clarke is his usual marvelous self, and listeners should pay close attention to the able Urtreger, by no means a virtuoso but a capable and flexible accompanist. This recording can stand proudly alongside Duke Ellington's music from Anatomy of a Murder and the soundtrack of Play Misty for Me as great achievements of artistic excellence in fusing dramatic scenes with equally compelling modern jazz music. - by Michael G. Nastos, AMG

Artist: Miles Davis
Album: Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Lift to the Scaffold)
Year: 1957 (Fontana)
Label: Phonogram (1988)
Runtime: 72:18

1.  Nuit Sur Les Champs-Elysées (take 1) 2:25
2.  Nuit Sur Les Champs-Elysées (take 2) 5:20
3.  Nuit Sur Les Champs-Elysées (take 3) 2:47
4.  Nuit Sur Les Champs-Elysées (take 4) 2:59
5.  Visite du Vigile 2:02
6.  Julien dans l'ascenseur 2:10
7.  Assassinat 2:10
8.  Motel 3:56
9.  Final (take 1) 3:05
10.  Final (take 2) 3:00
11.  Final (take 3) 4:04
12.  Ascenseur (Evasion de Julien) 1:57
13.  Le Petit Bal (take 1) 2:40
14.  Le Petit Bal (take 2) 2:53
15.  Séquence Voiture (take 1) 2:56
16.  Séquence Voiture (take 2) 2:16
17.  Generique 2:45
18.  L'assassinat de Carala 2:10
19.  Sur l'autoroute 2:15
20.  Julien dans l'ascenseur 2:07
21.  Florence sur les Champs-Elysées 2:50
22.  Diner au Motel 3:58
23.  Evasion de Julien 0:53
24.  Visite du Vigile 2:00
25.  Au Bar du petit Bac 2:50
26.  Chez le Photographe du Motel 3:50
All compositions by Miles Davis 

Miles Davis (Trumpet)
Barney Wilen (Tenor Saxophone)
Rene Utreger (Piano)
Pierre Michelot (Double Bass)
Kenny Clarke (Drums)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ramsey Lewis & Billy Taylor - Wee Meet Again

This 1989 collaboration between two of the most noted piano players in jazz is a superb and moving tribute to many of their contemporaries (and slightly younger counterparts). No rhythm section is used on this album making WE MEET AGAIN a pianist's delight. Plenty of well-known jazz compositions are heard here including John Lewis' classic tune, "Django" and Bill Evans' beautiful "Waltz for Debby." In addition, we hear two compositions by Taylor, entitled "Somewhere Soon" and "Soul Sister." Finally, Danny Zeitlin's tune, "Quiet Now" (a favorite among many jazz pianists) is also represented here. All totaled, a nice cross section of modern jazz piano pieces makes up this release and both Lewis and Taylor shine on all nine tracks. Highlights include, Ellington's "I'm Just A Lucky so and So" and Chick Corea's "We Meet Again" which was written specifically for this recording. The solos on these tunes range from bluesy to bop, and the richness of the tone both musicians get on the piano makes this, as a whole, a very lovely release. Recording information: Master Sound Astoria Studios, Astoria, NY (1988-1989). Photographer: Don Hunstein. Unknown Contributor Role: Tim Geelan. Personnel: Ramsey Lewis (piano); Billy Taylor (piano). Liner Note Author: Billy Taylor . Stereo Review - Performance "Splendid" / Recording "Quite good" - from

Artist: Ramsey Lewis & Billy Taylor
Album: Wee Meet Again
Year: 1989
Label: CBS (1990)
Runtime: 56:19

1.  I'm Just a Lucky So and So (Duke Ellinghton) 4:37
2.  Django (John Lewis) 6:22
3.  Cookin' At The Continental (Horace Silver) 4:37
4.  Somewhere Soon (Billy Taylor) 5:42
5.  We Meet Again (Chick Corea) 7:42
6.  Quiet Now (Denny Zeitlin) 7:22
7.  Soul Sister (Billy Taylor) 5:17
8.  Waltz For Debby (Bill Evans) 6:55
9.  Nigerian Marketplace (Oscar Peterson) 7:42

Ramsey Lewis (Piano)
Billy Taylor (Piano)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Toots Thielemans - For My Lady

Picked up this CD at a performance the other night with Toots in a duo with pianist Kenny Werner. The incredible chemistry was breathtaking, so I was skeptical about this album, but after only a few listens, I believe it is just as soulful as the show. Shirley Horn's trio deliberately underplays the whole album, and the results are pure melody and feeling. Every song here is a winner. The one vocal song is great, and as usual, Toot's sole composition (the title cut) is an instant classic. Get this record, and go see the man, he is one of the last of the living will not be disappointed. - by A Customer,

The emphasis is on ballads for harmonica player Toots Thielemans' outing with the Shirley Horn Trio. Horn, in addition to contributing some tastefully supportive piano and occasional solos, takes a vocal on "Someone to Watch Over Me." Toots sounds quite relaxed performing 11 standards (only "Blues in the Closet" generates much heat) plus his original "For My Lady" with such comfortable backing. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Toots Thielemans w. Shiley Horn Trio
Album: For My Lady
Year: 1991
Label: Gitanes Jazz
Runtime: 57:35

1.  For My Lady (Toots Thielemans) 4:30
2.  How Long Has This Been Going On? (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 5:29
3.  Blues in the Closet (Oscar Pettiford) 4:11
4.  Someone to Watch Over Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 8:04
5.  I'm Beginning to See the Light (Harry James/Duke Ellington/Johnny Hodges/Don George)  4:37
6.  The More I See You (Harry Warren/Mack Gordon) 4:54
7.  The Mooche (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills) 4:00
8.  Close Your Eyes (Bernice Petkere) 4:37
9.  Blue and Sentimental (Count Basie/Jerry Livingston/Mack David) 3:29
10.  Corcovado (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 5:37
11.  Willow Weep for Me (Ann Ronell) 4:49
12.  Once in a While (Michael Edward/Bud Green)  3:18

Toots Thielemans (Harmonica, Guitar, Whistle)
Shirley Horn (Piano, Vocal)
Charles Ables (Bass Guitar)
Steve Williams (Drums)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dizzy Gillespie - Dizzy Gillespie & The Double Six of Paris

This is an absolute must have. Bud Powell on piano! Dizzy on the trumpet! Amazing!!! I've worn out my version since a friend of mine tuned me onto the Double Six in 1988. (And since then I've collected all their work.) NB: this is a studio album not a live album. The CD doesnt present the tunes as on the original LP; indeed the LP opens up with Ow! and its dynamics never fail to blow my wig off. (So I always start the CD at Ow! followed by The Champ.) Double Six have captured the essence of Dizzy's big band sound. Get a hold of the original Dizzy recordings from the forties (Ow!, The Champ, Emanon, etc) to really appreciate what is going on here. Dizzy is in fine shape and his solos are blazing. Bud is not given the spotlight but he still shines through. Nice bass work by Pierre Michelot. To be fair, the album is pretty short (under 40 mins if I am not mistaken). I am really picky, there are a couple of fillers: blue and boogie is okay, and oo-shoobee-doo-bee is rather fluffy. But the rest of the tunes are absolutely delightful. If you know french, listen closely to the sci-fi lyrics by Mimi Perrin who, IMHO, stands head-to-head with Jon Hendricks in the pantheon of the vocalese gods. Apparently Mimi and Dizzy found common ground in jazz as well as sci-fi. Five stars, no less, as one of the greatest vocalese albums ever. (The other one is probably Sing a Song of Basie by LHR but then again Dizzy in not on that one.) - by Eric,

This odd but successful pairing finds The Double Six of Paris singing vocalese in French to a dozen bebop classics associated with Dizzy Gillespie. Gillespie, with pianist Bud Powell and a rhythm section, take solos that uplift this date; two songs feature his quintet (with James Moody on alto). Not for all tastes, but this is a unique and colorful addition to Gillespie's discography. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Dizzy Gillespie
Album: Dizzy Gillespie & The Double Six of Paris
Year: 1963
Label: Philips
Runtime: 39:24

1.  Emanon (Dizzy Gillespie/Milt Shaw) 3:48
2.  Anthropology (Dizzy Gillespie/Chales Parker/Walter Bishop) 2:48
3.  Tin Tin Deo (Chano Pozo/Walter Fuller) 4:18
4.  One Bass Hit (Dizzy Gillespie/Raymond Brown) 3:30
5.  Two Bass Hit (Dizzy Gillespie/John Lewis) 3:34
6.  Groovin' High (Dizzy Gillespie) 2:30
7.  Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be (Joe Carroll/Billy Graham) 3:07
8.  Hot House (Tadd Dameron) 3:04
9.  Con Alma (Dizzy Gillespie) 3:39
10.  Blue 'n' Boogie (Frank Paparelli/Dizzy Gilespie) 3:10
11.  The Camp (Dizzy Gillespie) 3:09
12.  OW! (Dizzy Gillespie) 2:47

Dizzy Gillespie (Trumpet)
Bud Powell (Piano) - 1-6,8,10-12
Pierre Michelot (Double Bass) - 1-6,8,10-12
Kenny Clarke (Drums) - 1-6,8,10-12
Lalo Schifrin (Arranger) - 1-6,8,10-12
Mimi Perrin (Vocals) - 1-6,8,10-12
Claudine Barge (Vocals) - 1-6,8,10-12
Christiane Legrand (Vocals) - 1-6,8,10-12
Ward Swingle (Vocals) - 1-6,8,10-12
Robert Smart (Vocals) - 1-6,8,10-12
Eddy Louis (Vocals) - 1-6,8,10-12
Jean-Claude Briodin (Vocals) - 1-6,8,10-12
James Moody (Alto Saxophone) - 7,9
Kenny Barron (Piano) - 7,9
Chris White (Double Bass) - 7,9
Rudy Collins (Drums) - 7,9

Monday, August 26, 2013

Al Jarreau - Tenderness

Rather than do a strictly studio or strictly live album next, Jarreau recorded a "live in the studio" affair before an invited audience -- and this time he would not be bothered with the latest new mediocre R&B tunes. Spreading his net from the Gershwins through Lennon-McCartney to Jorge Ben, Elton John and himself, Jarreau assembled a core band that includes vets like Joe Sample, Steve Gadd, the late Eric Gale, and producer Marcus Miller and turned himself loose on the songs with a freedom that hasn't been heard extensively on his records since the '70s. As then, he transplants standards of whatever school into his own cross-genre idiom, squeezing his tone through the syllables and flashing his speed scatting. He produces some lovingly drawn-out reprises of "She's Leaving Home" and "We Got By," a semi-funk "Summertime" with echoes of Gil Evans in the horns, and fits into the rapid-fire "Mas Que Nada" in the Brazilian manner-born. Opera diva Kathleen Battle's breathless coloratura soprano makes for an odd, unsettling contrast with Jarreau's snake-like wanderings in "My Favorite Things" (the only track recorded at a separate session in New York; the others were cut in L.A.); Michael Brecker's tenor sax adds a third alien voice to the mix. Those who were first drawn to Jarreau from his live and recorded performances of the mid-'70s are going to like this CD -- and this time, the new material ("Wait for the Magic," "Dinosaur") is not only interesting and thought-provoking, it makes good use of Jarreau's voice. As with Live In London, a home video of the sessions is available, but contains only ten tracks.- by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Al Jarreau
Album: Tenderness
Year: 1994
Label: Warner
Runtime: 73:07

1.  Mas Que Nada (Jorge Ben) 5:14
2.  Try A Little Tenderness (Jimmy Campbell/Reginald Connelly/Harry Woods) 7:36
3.  Your Song (Elton John/Bernie Taupin) 6:05
4.  My Favorite Things (Oscar Hammerstein/Richard Rodgers) 5:20
5.  She's Leaving Home (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) 7:39
6.  Summertime (George Gerswin/Ira Gershwin/DuBose Heyward) 6:17
7.  We Got By (Al Jarreau)  6:03
8.  Save Your Love For Me (Buddy Johnson) 5:54
9.  You Don't See Me (Al Jarreau)  6:03
10.  Wait For The Magic (Todd Urbanos) 5:51
11.  Dinosaur (Al Jarreau/Marcus Miller/Robby Scharf) 5:23
12.  Go Away Little Girl (Boy) (Gerry Goffin/Carole King) 5:42

Al Jarreau (Vocals)
Marcus Miller (Bass Guitar, Keyboards)
Steve Gadd (Drums)
Joe Sample (Piano, Fender Rhodes)
Neil Larsen (Hammond Organ)
Eric Gale (Guitar)
Philippe Saisse (Synthesizer)
Paulinho da Costa (Percussion)
Michael Stewart (Trumpet)
David Sanborn (Alto Saxophone) - 6,7
Kenny Garrett (Alto Saxophone) - 8
Paul Jackson Jr. (Guitar) - 1
Michael Brecker (Tenor Saxophone) - 4
Jason Miles (Synthesizer) - 4,11
Bashiri Johnson (Percussion) - 4
Don Alias (Percussion) - 11
Kathleen Battle (Vocals) - 4
Stacy Campbell (Backing Vocal)
Jeffery Ramsey (Backing Vocal)
Sharon Young (Backing Vocal)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sadao Watanabe - Paysages

Paysages is a French word that roughly means "landscapes." In this 1971 album, Sadao Watanabe and his bandmates' music reflected the sign of  the times in their use of electric piano, strong emphasis on rhythms -- realized, in part, by employing two drummers -- and a freer approach to improvisation. And his bandmates were quite formidable. Bassist Gary Peacock, who would go on to become a part of the Keith Jarrett Trio, was living in Japan at that time. Eccentric pianist Masabumi Kikuchi and drummer Masahiko Togashi were at the time strongly associated with the free jazz movement in Japan. Togashi had become paralyzed from waist down due to a serious injury in 1969 but he had made an amazing comeback, employing a special drum set that could be operated with just two hands. Hiroshi Murakami added another layer of rhythmic figures as the second drummer. Despite the use of the electric piano and "freer" approaches, titles of the original tunes suggest a longing for countryside, a desire to move away from the city. There is something pastoral about Watanabe's melodies. The band is cohesive under the leadership of Watanabe, and the music is fluid, unpredictable and exciting. - from

Artist: Sadao Watanabe
Album: Paysages
Year: 1971
Label: Sony (Master Sound)
Runtime: 46:08

1.  Paysages Part 1 & 2 (Sadao Watanabe) 10:54
2.  Out-Land (Sadao Watanabe) 11:14
3.  Space Is Not A Place (Sadao Watanabe) 13:01
4.  Green Air (Sadao Watanabe) 5:05
5.  Provincial (Masabumi Kikuchi) 5:51

Sadao Watanabe (Alto Saxophone, Flute and Sopranino)
Masabumi Kikuchi (Piano, Electric Piano)
Gary Peacock (Double Bass)
Masahiko Togashi (Drums)
Hiroshi Murakami (Drums)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Joe Venuti - Sliding By

Violinist Joe Venuti, 73 at the time of this recording and only a little more than a year away from his death, was in typically swinging form for this quintet set with Dick Hyman (who doubles on piano and organ), guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, bassist Major Holley and drummer Cliff Leeman. In addition to the six standards, there are four lesser-known Venuti compositions performed by this fine group. The music alternates between romantic ballads and stomps such as "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Clarinet Marmalade."- by Scott Yanow, AMG

It's difficult to think of superlatives to use in describing Joe Venuti's s playing. All of the words have been used so many times that they've lost their surprise. To put it simply, Joe was the first jazz violinist, and after sixty years of playing and nearly as many years of recording he is still the best. No musician in jazz has so completely dominated the style of his instrument. - by Sam Charters, from the CD cover

Artist: Joe Venuti
Album: Sliding By
Year: 1977
Label: Sonet (1990)
Runtime: 41:35

1.  Sliding By (Emile Venuti) 4:04
2.  Red Velvet (Al Morgan/Joe Venuti) 3:40
3.  That's a Plenty (Henry Creamer/Bert Williams) 5:04
4.  But Not For Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 3:35
5.  Clarinet Marmalade (Nick LaRocca/Larry Shields) 3:42
6.  Lover (Lorentz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 4:18
7.  Black Satin (Al Morgan/Joe Venuti) 3:09
8.  Rhapsodic (Emile Venuti) 4:20
9.  Sophisticated Lady (Duke Ellinton/Irving Mills/Mitchell Paris) 5:09
10.  Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie/Kenneth Casey/Maceo Pinkard) 4:31

Joe Venuti (Violin, Voice)
Dick Hyman (Piano and Organ)
Bucky Pizzarelli (Guitar)
Major Holley (Double Bass)
Cliff Leaman (Drums)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Glen Velez - Internal Combustion

Best known for his work with Steve Reich, Velez is widely regarded as one of the masters of the frame drum; his virtuosity is on display throughout Internal Combustion, which focuses almost solely on his improvisational drumming skills (although Layne Redmond contributes his own frame drum and vocals on two tracks). - by Jason Ankeny, AMG

Excellent release on Schematic, Glen Velez shows idm with the digital skin shed off. All that's left are some great sounding hand persussion drums and misc items from all over the world. The minimal feel and rhythmic strucres are very reminiscent of Autechre's "Conefeild" at times. Serene and comforting to listen to. The album title reminds me of a concept I read in Squarepusher's manifesto about the state of electronic music. He said something to the effect of electronic music will advance & grow to a certain height and then implode into itself. - by Noviellion,

Glen Velez is a globe-hopper, "borrowing" instruments and techniques from a variety of cultures and creating his own musical tapestry from the bits and pieces. Internal Combustion is a great "starter CD" for those wanting to understand the nuances and musicality of frame drums. From solo pieces like "Pyramid" to the duet "Internal Combustion," rhythms breathe, dance and interlace in constantly-shifting patterns and overtone singing floats in and out of the mix. If you're expecting "smooth jazz" or "drum music," this may not be the CD for you. If you want to be introduced to a new world of listening, check it out. It's worth the search. - by J. Kersh,

Artist: Glen Velez
Album: Internal Combustion
Year: 1985
Label: CMP Records
Runtime: 53:40

1.  Pyramid 5:57
2.  Bendir 15:12
3.  Rain 9:35
4.  Internal Combustion 16:17
5.  Bodhran 6:38
All compositions by Glen Velez

Glen Velez (Frame Drums and Voice)
Layne Redmond (Frame Drums and Voice) - 2,4

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Buddy Guy & Junior Wells - Play the Blues

Considering the troubled background of this album (Eric Clapton, Ahmet Ertegun, and Tom Dowd only ended up with eight tracks at a series of 1970 sessions in Miami; two years later, the J. Geils Band was brought in to cut two additional songs to round out the long-delayed LP for 1972 release), the results were pretty impressive. Buddy Guy contributes dazzling lead axe to their revival of "T-Bone Shuffle"; Junior Wells provides a sparkling remake of Sonny Boy's "My Baby She Left Me," and Guy is entirely credible in a grinding Otis Redding mode on the Southern soul stomper "A Man of Many Words." - by Bill Dahl, AMG

This is a spirited rendition of the work of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, two of Chicago's leading lights in the blues world. Junior Wells' harmonica playing and Buddy Guy's guitar work set a sound foundation for this CD. This was a re cording spearheaded by Eric Clapton as his Derek and the Dominoes album was being finally mixed. And we are fortunate to be able to listen to the results.Backing instrumentals are played by the likes of Clapton, Dr. John (on piano), and J. Geils (guitar), among others. Some cuts illustrate their work. "A Man of Many Words" is a clean sounding, contemporary blues song. This does not look back toward the delta or the early Chicago sound. Clapton's guitar playing is interesting and spirited (although maybe a bit overdone). The vocals are smooth. Some nice wording: "I know I rap long and know I rap strong, Come on mama let me turn you on." "T-Bone Shuffle" is one of T-Bone Walker's songs. Here, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells do a nice job with their cover. The sound is simpler than with "A Man of Many Words." The ensemble playing is very good. Vocals, again, are nice, as they play with lines like: "Tell me what the reason You keep on teasin' me." "This Old Fool" is another fun cut. J. Geils joins with guitar here. Buddy Guy sings against a really insistent beat, with the rhythm section playing splendidly. Magic Dick's harmonica adds to the whole sound. There is a great blues sensibility to this song. The end of the song features some fiery guitar work. So, this is a nice view of the work of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. The session that was recorded here is lively and has a spontaneous feel to it. Well worth listening to. - Steven A. Peterson,

Artist: Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
Album: Play the Blues
Year: 1972
Label: Atlantic (1992)
Runtime: 37:11

1.  A Man Of Many Words (Buddy Guy) 4:02
2.  My Baby She Left Me (She Left Me A Mule To Ride) (Sonny Boy Williamson)  3:11
3.  Come On In This House- Have Mercy Baby (Junior Wells) 4:23
4.  T-Bone Shuffle (T-Bone Walker) 4:19
5.  A Poor Man's Plea (Junior Wells) 3:13
6.  Messin' With The Kid (Mel London) 2:15
7.  This Old Fool (Buddy Guy) 3:11
8.  I Don't Know (Willie Mabon) 4:30
9.  Bad Bad Whiskey (Thomas Maxwell Davis) 4:15
10.  Honeydripper (Joe Liggins) 3:50

Buddy Guy (Guitar, Vocals)
Junior Wells (Harmonica, Vocals)
Eric Clapton (Guitar)
Dr. John (Piano)
A.C. Reed (Tenor Saxophone)
Mike Utley (Piano and Organ)
Leroy Stewart (Bass Guitar)
Roosevelt Shaw (Drums)
Carl Radle (Bass Guitar)
Jim Gordon (Drums)
Dick Salwitz (Harmonica)
Phil Guy (Guitar)
Jerome Geils (Rhythm Guitar)
Seth Justman (Piano)
Danny Klein (Bass Guitar)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Miles Davis & Quincy Jones - Live At Montreux

Although Miles Davis did not live to participate in Gerry Mulligan's reunion recordings featuring the nonet that played on the famous late-'40s and early-'50s cool sessions, he participated in a reunion concert held at Montreux in 1991. This featured both the Gil Evans Orchestra and George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, plus additional guests Benny Bailey, Grady Tate, Carlos Benavent and various European players teaming with a gravely ill Davis to perform Gil Evans' marvelous arrangements. Quincy Jones conducted and conceived the idea of using two orchestras, offering majestic surroundings for the solos of Davis, fellow trumpeter Wallace Roney and alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. Not every moment is golden, but the overall session ranks just a bit below the majestic '50s and '60s dates featuring Davis' trumpet and Evans' arrangements. - by Ron Wynn, AMG

Having read the mixed reviews of this live album I was at first somewhat reluctant to add it to my collection of Miles Davis classics. However, I was eventually tempted after listening to a couple of tracks from this much talked about 1991 Montreux concert. Sure, this is Miles in his twilight days, but what makes this recording great is that it marked his long awaited return to the sounds of the brilliant Gil Evans era. The mood of the album is truly celebratory and is handled more like a highlights reel than a serious retrospective. Most tracks are short and punchy, apart from `Solea', which is understandably longer and reflects another dimension to one of my favourite Davis/Evans compositions. Full credit must go to the maestro Quincy Jones; only someone of his status could have taken Miles back to the music of that time... as we know he was always looking forward. Quincy's arrangement is certainly sympathetic to Miles' condition at the time, with few belting numbers, but rather a string of smooth arrangements supported by a tight big band. Of special mention is Wallace Roney on trumpet, who supports Miles seamlessly, while always giving `the man' room to express himself on tracks like `Summertime'. The Montreux crowd were certainly fortunate that night and from their response you can sense that they were well aware of this special moment. The terrific thing about this album is that you can enjoy it either as an introduction or simply as a celebration of the Davis/Evans collaboration and wonderful music it produced. - by Painterboy,

Artist: Miles Davis & Quincy Jones
Album: Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux
Year: 1991
Label: Warner
Runtime. 56:45

1. Introduction 1:23
2.  Boplicity (Cleo Henry) 3:40
3.  Introduction To "Miles Ahead" Medley 0:08
4.  Springsville (John Carisi) 3:33
5.  Maids Of Cadiz (Gil Evans) 3:37
6.  The Duke (Dave Brubeck) 4:00
7.  My Ship (Kurt Weill) 4:10
8.  Miles Ahead (Gil Evans) 3:38
9.  Blues For Pablo (Gil Evans) 6:06
10.  Introduction To "Porgy And Bess" Medley (George Gershwin) 0:27
11.  Orgone  (Gil Evans) 4:08
12.  Gone, Gone, Gone (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward) 1:47
13.  Summertime (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward) 2:54
14.  Here Come De Honey Man (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward) 3:40
15.  The Pan Piper (Gil Evans) 1:40
16.  Solea (Gil Evans) 11:46

Miles Davis (Trumpet)
Quincy Jones (Conductor)
Gil Evans (Arranger)
George Adams (Tenor Saxophone, Flute)
Benny Bailey (Flugelhorn, Trumpet)
Carlos Benavent (Double Bass, Bass Guitar)
Alex Brofsky (French Hon)
Delmar Brown (Keyboards)
Julian Cawdry (Flute, Piccolo)
John D'earth (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Roland Dahinden (Trombone)
Kenwood Dennard (Drums and Percussion)
Xavier Duss (Oboe)
Reiner Erb (Bassoon)
Alex Foster (Alto and Soprano Saxophone, Flute)
Hans Peter Frehner (Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone, Flute)
Kenny Garrett (Alto Saxophone)
Gil Goldstein (Keyboards)
George Gruntz (Piano)
Conrad Herwig (Trombone)
Howard Johnson (Tuba, Baritone Saxophone)
Bob Malach (Clarinet, Flute, Tenor Saxophone)
Tom Malone (Trombone, Trumpet)
Earl McIntyre (Euphonium, Trombone)
Anne O'Brian (Flute)
Claudio Pontiggia (French Horn)
Christian Rabe (Bassoon)
Mike Richmond (Double Bass)
John Riley (Drums and Percussion)
Wallace Rooney (Trumpet)
Roger Rosenberg (Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone)
Xenia Schindler (Harp)
Lew Soloff (Trumpet)
Marvin Stamm (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Dave Bargeron (Euphonium, Trombone)
Dave Taylor (Bass Trombone)
Larry Schneider (Tenor Saxophone, Oboe, Flute, Clarinet)
Jerry Bergonzi (Tenor Saxophone)
Grady Tate (Drums)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mel Torme - Sings Fred Astaire

Though it's sometimes relegated to second or third place among Tormé's best albums of the '50s (behind Mel Tormé and the Marty Paich Dek-Tette and It's a Blue World), it's difficult to hear how Mel Tormé Sings Fred Astaire can't be the best album of his entire career. Featuring an artist at the peak of his ability and talent, a collection of top-drawer songs from the best pop composers ever, and a swinging ten-piece that forms the perfect accompaniment, Sings Fred Astaire is one of the best up-tempo vocal albums ever recorded. Coming hot on the heels of Mel Tormé and the Marty Paich Dek-Tette in 1956, this tribute to Hollywood's most stylish dancer finds Tormé obliging with his nimblest and most elegant singing. Even while Marty Paich's band takes "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Cheek to Cheek" at a breakneck pace that Astaire himself would've had trouble with, Tormé floats over the top with death-defying vocal acrobatics. He's breezy and sophisticated on "They Can't Take That Away from Me," ecstatic and effervescent on "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" (matching an exuberant solo by trumpeter Pete Candoli), and even breaks out an affectionate croon for "A Foggy Day." A collection of perfect hard-swinging pop with a few ballads thrown in for good measure makes Sings Fred Astaire a masterpiece of the vocal era. - by John Bush, AMG

Artist: Mel Tormé and The Marty paich Dek-Tette
Album: Mel Tormé Sings Fred Astaire
Year: 1956
Label: Affinity (1987)
Runtime: 35:47

1.  Nice Work if You Can Get It (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 3:12
2.  Somethings Gotta Give (Johnny Mercer) 4:00
3.  A Foggy Day (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 2:47
4.  A Fine Romance (Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields) 3:04
5.  Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 3:29
6.  Top Hat, White Ties and Tails (Irving Berlin) 3:11
7.  The Way You Look Tonight (Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields) 2:25
8.  The Piccolino (Irving Berlin) 2:38
9.  They Can't Take That Away from Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 3:04
10.  Cheek to Cheek (Irving Berlin) 3:01
11.  Let's Face the Music and Dance (Irving Berlin) 2:22
12.  They All Laughed (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 2:29

Mel Torme (Vocals)
Marty Paich (Conductor, Arranger, Piano)
Don Fagerquist (Trumpet)
Herb Geller (Alto Saxophone)
Jack Montrose (Tenor Saxophone)
Bob Enevoldsen (Trombone)
Vincent de Rosa (French Horn)
Jack DuLong (Baritone Saxophone)
Max Bennett (Double Bass)
Pete Candoli (Trumpet)
Albert Pollan (Tuba)
Alvin Stoller (Drums)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Catherine, Mariano, van't Hof - Sleep my Love

This edition of Pork Pie - was it really billed as Pork Pie? - works surprisingly well despite the difficult setting of guitar, piano (or keys, actually) and saxophone. The three members are equally well represented (although the record has an overall Philip Catherine sound to me), each bringing in some of the compositions - with Schönberg's 'Verklärte Nacht' thrown in as an added surprise. Jasper van 't Hof makes his early electronic playware, never overused, sing like you never heard it before. Even Charlie Mariano's then-unavoidable nagaswaram works well, placed in a more or less realistic context by Catherine's sitar-like guitar. - by Signalman,

They were in the context of fusion, heavily relying in electric instruments. This is different in that it is mainly acoustic and is in a trio setting, much more intimate and personal. That's not to say that you won't hear an electric piano or guitar, but the use and context are a mile away from Pork Pie's "Transitory" and Michael Gibb's "The Only Chrome Waterfall Orchestra", both of which you'll find in this blog. A modern jazz album, not a fusion album. This is about the dymanics between great musicians in a small group setting, their interplay and invention, great stuff. Here we also get to hear Catherine, the electric bass player. He's good, so good that there is no doubt that he could also have been a very successful bassist. - by Micaus,

Artist: Philip Catherine, Charlie Mariano, Jasper van't Hof
Album: Sleep my Love
Year: 1979
Label: CMP
Runtime: 39:09

1.  Sleep My Love (Charlie Mariano) 4:06
2.  5 Pages (Jasper van't Hof) 6:28
3.  Les sept boules de christal (Philip Catherine) 5:41
4.  Scrabble (Jasper van't Hof) 2:46
5.  Janet (Philip Catherine) 7:49
6.  Smell of Madras (Charlie Mariano) 5:30
7.  Improvisation on a Theme of Schönberg's "Verklärte Nacht" (Arnold Schoenberg) 6:55

Philip Catherine (Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer)
Charlie Mariano (Soprano and Alto Saxophone, Flute, Nagaswaram)
Jasper van't Hof (Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer, Kalimba)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Art Farmer - You Make Me Smile

Among the most consistent of jazzmen, flugelhornist Art Farmer sounds in fine form on this quintet outing with tenor-saxophonist Clifford Jordan, pianist Fred Hersch, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Akira Tana. The material, other than the standards "Nostalgia" and "Have You Met Miss Jones?" is more obscure than usual, with an adaptation of a Scriabin classical prelude and numbers by Rufus Reid, Farmer ("Flashback") and Benny Carter ("Souvenir"). Creative bop-based music with Farmer's usual subtlety clearly in evidence. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Art Farmer Quintet
Album: You Make Me Smile
Year: 1984
Label: Soul Note
Runtime: 37:06

1.  You Make Me Smile (Rufus Reid) 4:25
2.  Prelude No 1 (Alexander Scriabin) 7:08
3.  Nostalgia (Tadd Dameron/Fats Navarro) 5:49
4.  Flashback (Art Farmer) 7:55
5.  Souvenir (Benny Carter) 6:58
6.  Have You Met Miss Jones (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 4:49

Art Farmer (Flugelhorn)
Clifford Jordan (Tenor Saxophone)
Fred Hersch (Piano)
Rufus Reid (Double Bass)
Akira Tana (Drums)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Courtney Pine - Modern Day Jazz Stories

Courtney Pine has finally found his niche. I have every album that he has released in the U.S. I love his sound, especially this one, every track is smooth, especially the ones with Cassandra Wilson's sexy vocals. I've Known Rivers is an instant classic, so cool and it just flows. The Band really smokes on every cut, especially Dah Blessing. He is my 2nd favortie Sax player of all time. Only the immortal John Coltrane stands before him in my book. He is tremendously gifted and very underrated. - by Val Guilford, example of how hip hop is influencing traditional jazz....the inclusion of turntables on the straightahead tracks is unique. Accepting the DJ's role as a minimal soloist, MODERN DAY JAZZ STORIES is an outstanding and well-executed album... (from Jazziz)

Courtney Pine's remarkable jazz career started at school when he was 13, taking piano and clarinet lessons. Though he subsequently decided that the saxophone was what he really wanted to play, his musical heroes, including Grover Washington Jr, John Coltrane and Miles Davies, all played the piano, and Courtney's piano experience has been very useful, as he now spends quite a lot of time in his home studio, working with a MIDI sequencer connected to an ageing Sequential Prophet VS keyboard. As you might expect, he's also had a lot of experience with MIDI wind controllers. One of the motivating factors behind this interview was Courtney's latest album, Modern Day Jazz Stories, an essentially acoustic modern jazz album underpinned by hip-hop loops and DJ vinyl pyrotechnics. Unlike the many hip-hop records that have a jazz influence or feature a token jazz performer, Modern Day Jazz Stories is most definitely jazz with a hip-hop influence, rather than vice versa, and unlike many compositions that use off-the-shelf loops, many of the drum loops on this album started life as an acoustic kit in the studio, while some of the more experimental loops were produced by Courtney at home. - from

Artsit: Courtney Pine
Album. Modern Day Jazz stories
Year: 1995
Label: Verve
Runtime: 59:07

1.  Prelude - The Water Of Life 1:24
2.  The 37th Chamber 4:21
3.  Don't 'Kplain 4:56
4.  Dah Blessing 8:48
5.  In The Garden Of Eden (Thinking Inside Of You) 5:58
6.  Creation Stepper 10:44
7.  Absolution 7:33
8.  Each One (Must) Teach One 3:50
9.  The Unknown Warrior (Song For My Forefathers) 6:39
10.  I've Known Rivers 3:41
11.  Outro - Guiding Light 1:08
All tracks written by Courney Pine

Courtney Pine (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone, Flute)
Geri Allen (Piano, Hammod Organ)
Charnette Moffett (Double Bass)
Ronnie Burrage (Drums, Percussion)
DJ Pogo (Turntables)
Eddie Henderson (Trumpet)
Cassandra Wilson (Vocals)
Mark Whitfield (Guitar)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sonny Rollins - Worktime

For this LP-length CD reissue, tenor great Sonny Rollins plays five songs (including the unlikely "There's No Business Like Show Business") in a quartet with pianist Ray Bryant, bassist George Morrow, and his then-current employer, drummer Max Roach. Rollins was an original stylist from the start, and in late 1955 he was ready to take his place among the greats. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Sonny Rollins and company don't waste any time going to work on the classic "Work Time." The all-star band of Ray Bryant, George Morrow and the incomparable Max Roach punch-in quickly with the blazing "There's No Business Like Show Business." The telepathic interplay between Sonny and Roach is a trademark of this album, and it's particularly evident on the album's next two tracks, "Paradox" and "Raincheck." A lovely ballad, "There Are Such Things," is the fourth track, and the band clocks-out at 5 much the way they began with the break-neck swing pace of "It's All Right With Me." If only I could have this much fun at work. - by Michael. B. Richman,

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: Worktime
Year: 1955 (Prestige)
Label: OJC (1982)
Runtime: 33:12

1.  There's No Business Like Show Business (Irving Berlin) 6:23
2.  Paradox (Sonny Rollins)  5:02
3.  Raincheck (Billy Strayhorn) 6:03
4.  There Are Such Things (Stanley Adams/Abel Baer/George W. Meyer) 9:33
5.  It's All Right With Me (Cole Porter) 6:08

Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Ray Bryant (Piano)
George Morrow (Double Bass)
Max Roach (Drums)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Miles Davis - Nefertiti

Nefertiti, the fourth album by Miles Davis' second classic quintet, continues the forward motion of Sorcerer, as the group settles into a low-key, exploratory groove, offering music with recognizable themes -- but themes that were deliberately dissonant, slightly unsettling even as they burrowed their way into the consciousness. In a sense, this is mood music, since, like on much of Sorcerer, the individual parts mesh in unpredictable ways, creating evocative, floating soundscapes. This music anticipates the free-fall, impressionistic work of In a Silent Way, yet it remains rooted in hard bop, particularly when the tempo is a bit sprightly, as on "Hand Jive." Yet even when the instrumentalists and soloists are placed in the foreground -- such as Miles' extended opening solo on "Madness" or Hancock's long solo toward the end of the piece -- this never feels like showcases for virtuosity, the way some showboating hard bop can, though each player shines. What's impressive, like on all of this quintet's sessions, is the interplay, how the musicians follow an unpredictable path as a unit, turning in music that is always searching, always provocative, and never boring. Perhaps Nefertiti's charms are a little more subtle than those of its predecessors, but that makes it intriguing. Besides, this album so clearly points the way to fusion, while remaining acoustic, that it may force listeners on either side of the fence into another direction. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

This album is definitely one of the more progressive Miles Davis efforts. It was the last "straight-ahead" jazz album he made before experimenting with electric bass and keyboards in his rhythm section on Miles In The Sky and Filles De Killemanjaro (both released the following year, in 1968). Nefertiti showcases Wayne Shorter's great compositions once again, and Herbie Hancock also contributes a couple pieces. Tony Williams also composed a piece. This album is painfully under-appreciated compared to Miles Davis's other classic releases, although all the real Miles listeners know about Nefertiti. Every track is pulsed by Ron Carter's exquisite basslines and the drumming battery of Tony Williams. "Nefertiti", a Shorter composition, has the melody repeated for about seven and a half minutes, but it's repeated in a different way each time. The moods of the piece change distinctively throughout. There are no solos, and the hypnotic melody will get to you over time. "Fall" is a mysterious, lilting ballad which comes out to be a true gem. Another piece by Wayne Shorter, the abstract setting makes the piece sound like it could speed up at any second, but it remains a beautiful, slow piece. Miles and Wayne both take excellent solos here, and Herbie takes a nice solo here as well showing how much he has grown as a musician. "Hand Jive" is a Tony Williams piece, and Miles takes a solo full of cool ideas and his usual sweet sound on the trumpet. Everyone gets a chance to really stretch out on this track. In fact, it wouldn't really sound out of place on Miles Smiles, a Miles album made the previous year. "Madness" has more of a straight feel, although there are still many tempo changes, especially in Herbie's piano solo. Here, Miles really gets into his solo and shines brightly. The theme is cool, almost sounding like a play on horror movie, but it's in a playful manner. "Riot" is a piece Herbie Hancock recorded outside of Miles's group and is being remade here. Everyone takes a relatively short solo on this track, which almost gives the listener a bit of a break from the previous four pieces, which are all pretty long. "Pinocchio", is my favorite track on the album though. The theme is so cool, it almost sounds like a voice. The whole piece has a timeless, energetic feel to it. The theme stays stuck in my head for a while, and this is the only track on the album I will put on repeat for a long period of time, except for maybe "Fall". Miles and Wayne both take awesome solos and Herbie makes a great contribution as well. Tony Williams adds the real fire behind this tune with his great, percussive drumming. Usually my favorite track on an album is not the last one, so this is yet another unusual aspect of Nefertiti. Overall, this is a great album for any Miles Davis fan. Every single track is amazing. Not the type of album you would call a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, I have a digitally remastered version but I don't have the one Amazon[.com] has here. Mine is just the original: six beautiful tracks. I will have to check out this new version with alternate takes although I recommend the original version if you can find it just for the ability to hear the album the way Miles originally intended for it to be released. An outstanding album, get it! - by Mr. Hip-Hop,

Artist: Miles Davis
Album: Nefertiti
Year: 1967
Label: CBS
Runtime: 48:03

1.  Nefertiti (Wayne Shorter) 7:52
2.  Fall (Wayne Shorter) 6:37
3.  Hand Jive (Tony Williams) 8:56
4.  Hand Jive (Tony Williams) 8:55
5.  Madness (Herbie Hancock) 7:32
6.  Riot (Herbie Hancock) 3:06
7.  Pinocchio (Wayne Shorter) 5:05

Miles Davis (Trumpet)
Wayne Shorter (Tenor Saxophone)
Herbie Hancock (Piano)
Ron Carter (Double Bass)
Tony Williams (Drums)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Al Cohn & Zoot Sims - You 'n Me

The most unusual selection on this Al Cohn-Zoot Sims set from 1960 is "Improvisation for Unaccompanied Saxophones," a short but effective two-tenor workout that, through a clever arrangement by Cohn, gives one the impression that both saxophonists are using circular breathing. Another departure is "Angel Eyes," which has both Cohn and Sims switching to clarinet and showcases Major Holley's singing and bowed bass. Otherwise, the co-leaders stick to their main instruments and enjoy swinging together with the assistance of Holley, pianist Mose Allison (who would soon be starting his own successful solo career), and drummer Osie Johnson. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Zoot Sims and Al Cohn shine on this studio set recorded in 1960, featuring standards and originals. They're joined by a young Mose Allison on piano, Major Holley on bass and Osie Johnson on drums. Among the highlights on the CD are the two Cole Porter standards, "You'd Be So NiceTo Come Home To" and "Love For Sale", along with a bass and mumbles solo on Angel Eyes, accompanied by Zoot and Al on their clarinets. Sims and Cohn are among the great tenor duos in jazz history and this CD, along with their other recorded works together, is valuable to sax players and fans alike. The length is a bit short by CD standards, but the playing is tremendous. - by John F. Temmerman,

Artist: Al Cohn & Zoot Sims Quintet
Album: You 'n Me
Year: 1960
Label: Verve (2002)
Runtime: 37:02

1.  The Note (Al Cohn) 4:11
2.  You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To (Cole Porter) 4:51
3.  You 'n' Me (Al Cohn) 4:40
4.  On the Alamo (Gus Kahn/Isham Jones) 4:36
5.  The Opener (Bill Potts) 3:45
6.  Angel Eyes (Earl Brent/Matt Dennis) 3:17
7.  Awful Lonely (George Handy) 4:19
8.  Love for Sale (Cole Porter) 4:59
9.  Improvisations for Unaccompanied Saxophones (Al Cohn/Zoot Sims) 2:24

Al Cohn (Tenor Saxophone)
Zoot Sims (Tenor Saxophone)
Mose Allison (Piano) - 1-8
Major Holley (Double Bass) - 1-8
Osie Johnson (Drums) - 1-8

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Richard "Groove" Holmes - Somethin' Special

Somethin' Special is a laidback, funky classic which features Richard "Groove" Holmes trading licks with pianist Les McCann, saxophonist Clifford Scott and guitarist Joe Pass, who makes one of his first recorded appearances on this album. It's a fine, infectious album, highlighed by Holmes and McCann's stylish solo. Blue Note's 1997 CD reissue features two bonus cuts, including one that features saxophonist Ben Webster. - by Leo Stanley, AMG

One of the top jazz organists to emerge on the scene after Jimmy Smith’s initial success, Richard “Groove” Holmes (1931-1991) recorded a series of soul jazz sets for Prestige that helped set the direction for that label in the late 1960s.- from

Artist: Richard "Groove" Holmes & Les McCann
Aébum: Somethin' Special
Year: 1962 (Pacific Jazz)
Label: Capitol (1997)
Runtime: 47:06

1.  Something Special (Les McCann) 9:12
2.  Black Groove (Les McCann) 5:46
3.  Me & Groove (Les McCann) 3:11
4.  Comin' Through the Apple (Les McCann) 5:17
5.  I Though I Knew You (Les McCann) 6:30
6.  Carma (Les McCann) 5:26
7.  Blow The Man Down (Traditional) 5:41
8.  Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Johnny Mercer/Billy Strayhorn) 6:01

Richard "Groove" Holmes (Organ)
Clifford Scott (Alto and Tenor Saxophone) - 1-6
Les McCann (Piano) - 1-6,8
Joe Pass (Guitar) - 1-6
Ron Jefferson (Drums) - 1-6,8
Gene Edwards (Guitar) - 7
Leroy Henderson (Drums) - 7
Ben Webster (Tenor Saxophone) - 8
Lawrence Lofton (Trombone) - 8
George Freeman (Guitar) - 8

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Herbie Mann & Joao Gilberto - Recorded in Rio de Janeiro

Nice, more light than emphatic Afro-Latin and jazz mixture by flutist Herbie Mann and composer/vocalist Joao Gilberto. The two make an effective team, with Gilberto's sometimes sentimental, sometimes impressionistic works effectively supported by Mann's lithe flute solos. - by Ron Wynn, AMG

Mann's second State Department tour took him to Brazil, where in Rio de Janeiro he heard a new form of music called bossa nova, which combined Afro-Brazilian rhythms with advanced, impressionistic harmonies. Mann and his tour mate Stan Getz were among the first to bring bossa nova back to the United States.
"For me, Brazilian music is the perfect mix of melody and rhythm. It just bubbles rhythmically," Mann said in an online interview. "If I had to pick just one music style to play, it would be Brazilian. Mann's time in Brazil led to recordings with pianist and composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and guitarist Joao Gilberto. They recorded the album Herbie Mann and Joao Gilberto with Antonio Carlos Jobim, which featured Jobim's well known composition "One Note Samba" and guitarist Baden Powell's composition "Consolacao." - from

Artist: Herbie Mann & Joao Gilberto
Album: Recorded in Rio de Janeiro
Year: 1965
Label: Atlantic (1998)
Runtime: 31:20

1.  Amor Em Paz (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius De Moraes) 2:36
2.  Desafinado (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonca) 1:58
3.  Bolinha De Papel (Geraldo Pereira) 1:15
4.  Insensatez (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 3:05
5.  Maria Ninguem (Carlos Lyra) 2:20
6.  O Barquinho (Roberto Menescal/Ronaldo Boscoli) 2:27
7.  Samba Da Minha Terra (Dorival Cyammi) 2:20
8.  Rosa Morena (Dorival Cyammi) 2:02
9.  Consolacao (Baden Powell) 4:26
10.  One Note Samba (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonca) 3:20
11.  Bim Bom (Joao Gilberto) 1:12
12.  Deve Ser Amor (Baden Powell/Vinicius de Moraes) 4:19

Herbie Mann (Flute and Alto Flute)
Joao Gilberto (Guitar and Vocals)
Antonio Carlos Jobim (Arranged, Piano and Vocals)
Baden Powell (Guitar) - 12

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ray Charles - The Genius After Hours

Taken from the same three sessions as The Great Ray Charles but not duplicating any of the performances, this set casts Charles as a jazz-oriented pianist in an instrumental setting. Brother Charles has five numbers with a trio (three songs have Oscar Pettiford on bass) and jams on three other tunes ("Hornful Soul," "Ain't Misbehavin'," and "Joy Ride") with a septet arranged by Quincy Jones; solo space is given to David "Fathead" Newman on tenor and alto and trumpeter Joseph Bridgewater. Fine music -- definitely a change of pace for Ray Charles. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

This is a rare opportunity to hear Ray playing straight ahead jazz with legends Joe Harris on drums and Oscar Pettiford walking the bass. Listen to Ray bop along side Joe as he stirs the soup on the brushes during "Dawn Ray". Make no mistake this rhythm section swings hard; after all bop mastro Dizzy Gillespie hired Joe to play drums in his band during the mid 1940's. Enjoy all 38 minutes! - by Ben Bailey,

Artist: Ray Charles
Album: The Genius After Hours
Year: 1961
Label: Atlantic (2001)
Runtime: 38:33

1.  The Genius After Hours (Ray Charles) 5:24
2.  Ain't Misbehavin' (Fats Waller/Harry Brooks/Andy Razaf) 5:40
3.  Dawn Ray (Ray Charles) 5:03
4.  Joy Ride (Ray Charles) 4:39
5.  Hornful Soul (Ray Charles) 5:29
6.  The Man I Love (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 4:26
7.  Charlesville (Ray Charles) 4:55
8.  Music, Music, Music (Stephan Weiss/Bernie Baum) 2:53

Ray Charles (Piano)
Roosevelt Sheffield (Double Bass) - 1,2,4,5,7
William Peeples (Drums) - 1,2,4,5,7
Joseph Bridgewater (Trumpet) - 2,5
John Hunt (Trumpet) - 2,4,5
Dave "Fathead" Newman (Tenor and Alto Saxophone) - 2,4,5
Emmott Dennis (Baritone Saxophone) - 2,5
Oscar Pettiford (Double Bass) - 3,6,8
Joe Harris (Drums) - 3,8

Saturday, April 13, 2013

John Patton - Memphis To New York Spirit

Although it was scheduled for release two times, Memphis to New York Spirit didn't appear until 1996, over 25 years after it was recorded. The album comprises the contents of two separate sessions -- one recorded in 1970 with guitarist James "Blood" Ulmer, drummer Leroy Williams and saxophonist/flautistMarvin Cabell; the other recorded in 1969 with Cabell, Williams, and saxophonist George Coleman -- that were very similiar in concept and execution. Patton leads his combo through a selection of originals and covers that range from Wayne Shorter and McCoy Tyner to the Meters. Though the group is rooted in soul-jazz, they stretch the limits of the genre on these sessions, showing a willingness to experiment, while still dipping into the more traditional blues and funk reserves. Consequently, Memphis to New York Spirit doesn't have a consistent groove like some other Patton records, but when it does click, the results are remarkable; it's worthy addition to a funky soul-jazz collection. - by Stephen Thoms Erlewine, AMG

Grab this one quick... first, if I'm not mistaken, it never was. A bunch of tracks put together from the vaults (much like my other fave of his and Grant Green's - - Blues for Lou). It seems to come and go out of print... though if I'm not mistaken, this is one of the first domestic reissues in years. The sound is both funky and off center. Don't expect in your face Reuben Wilson style fatback... and don't expect pure Larry Young... expect an evil Frankenstein-ian mix of both of 'em as only Big John could do it. Expect to hear a mix of always slightly off center and mysterious B.J. Patton grooves meets progressive Jazz (circa 1969). The groove is always there, cool, bluesy and relaxed like Big John likes it... and he never gets excited and forgets it, no matter how far on the edge he gets... One note, and he'll take you to China, another, and its down home in Birmingham Alabama - - From the Mandingo to Sissy Strut... its time to rade the vaults again... and this sure 'nuff is a real good'un !!! - by Eddie Lansberg,

Artist: John Patton
Album: Memphis to New York Spirit
Year: 1970
Label: Blue Note (1996)
Runtime: 57:47

1.  Memphis (John Patton) 5:58
2.  Footprints (Wayne Shorter) 6:26
3.  The Mandingo (Marvin Cabell) 7:50
4.  Bloodyun (John Blood Ulmer) 8:20
5.  Steno (John Patton) 9:18
6.  Man from Tanganyika (McCoy Tyner) 6:21
7.  Cissy Strut (Ziggy Modeliste/Art Neville/Leo Nocentelli/George Porter, Jr.) 6:58
8.  Dragon Slayer (Marvin Cabell) 6:36

John Patton (Organ)
Marvin Cabell (Flute, Soprano and Tenor Saxophone)
James Blood Ulmer (Guitar)
Leroy Williams (Drums)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Archie Shepp & Dollar Brand - Duet

A somewhat surprising pairing at the time, the former firebrand of the tenor sax and the wonderful South African pianist found a pleasant and relaxed meeting point. By 1978, Shepp had largely abandoned the ferocious attack that gained him renown in the '60s, settling on a rich, Ben Webster-ish tone and playing a repertoire consisting of modern standards and bluesy originals. Two such pieces, the lovely Dave Burrell/Marion Brown composition "Fortunato" and Mal Waldron's "Left Alone," are highlights of this session, Shepp's burnished tone as soft as an old shoe. Ibrahim is a fairly deferential partner here, generally preferring to play the role of accompanist, although certainly one sprinkling his work with plenty of ideas for Shepp to work off. But the prevailing sense of relaxation begins to pall after a while and one wishes for a bit more of the old rough and tumble that these two were surely capable of. Still, for those who enjoyed Shepp's mid-'70s dates for Arista/Freedom and Ibrahim's more subdued group efforts of the late '70s and early '80s, there's much good listening here. - by Brian Olewnick, AMG

I borrowed this CD from a friend a few years ago, and now have finally bought my own copy. I can't stop listening to this music! Archie Shepp and Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) create music that is sensitive and filled with lyrical intensity. It is warm and relaxed, but never boring because of the fresh musical ideas that keep appearing. This album was originally recorded in 1978, but there is nothing dated about it. The recorded sound is warm and intimate, and the music sets up a consistent mood that always makes me relaxed and happy. - by Richard B. Stare,

Artist: Archie Shepp & Dollar Bran (aka Abdullah Ibrahim)
Album: Duet
Year: 1978
Label: Denon
Runtime: 44:41

1.  Fortunato (Dave Burrell/Marion Brown) 7:41
2.  Barefoot Boy From Queens Town - To Mongezi (Archie Shepp) 7:51
3.  Left Alone (Mal Waldron) 7:54
4.  Theme From "Proof Of The Man" (Yuji Ohno) 8:17
5.  Ubu-Suku (Dollar Brand) 4:34
6.  Moniebah (Dollar Brand) 8:21

Archie Shepp (Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophones)
Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim (Piano)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gerardo Nunez & Chano Dominguez - Jazzpana II

The flamenco scene in contemporary Spain has undergone tremendous expansion since Paco de Lucia first began injecting certain foreign stylistic elements and instruments into its classical milieu. Many of today's brightest flamenco guitarists and ensembles are farming the neighboring territories of Salsa and African (Ketama), Classical Indian (Amalgama), Moroccan (El Lebrijano), Rock (Pata Negra) and Jazz (Gerardo Nuňez, Juan Manual Caňizares, Rafael Riqueni). Especially the musical encounter with Jazz has precedents that predate Jazzpaňa II by decades - Sketches of Spain (Miles Davis and Gil Evans, 1959-60], Olé [John Coltrane, 1961] and My Spanish Heart [Chick Corea, 1976]. And of course there's Jazzpaňa I, the dual Grammy nomination 1993 release with Michael Brecker, Al Di Meola, Steve Khan and Peter Erskine on the Jazz side and Ramon "El Portugues", Juan Manuel Caňizares, Jorge Pardo and Carles Benavent on the Iberian side, and backed up by the West Deutsche Rundfunk Big Band.Jazzpaňa II assembles an equally stellar ensemble, with a heavier emphasis on the flamenco contingent. This is led by performer/composers Gerardo Nuňez (flamenco guitar) and Chano Dominguez (Grotrian Steinweg piano), and filled out with Esperanza Fernandez (vocals on one track), Jorge Pardo (soprano sax), Carles Benavent (electric bass), Renauld Garcia-Fons (five-string acoustic upright bass), Tino Di Geraldo (drums) and Cepillo (cajon). The Jazz counterpart is headlined by Michael Brecker (tenor sax) and Fareed Haque (electric guitar) and rounded out with Perico Sambeat (alto sax). The opening track "Calima" is from Nuňez' eponymous album [Alula Records 1007/1998] and translates appropriately as "Heat". It immediately sets the stage for what to expect. The silvery elegance of his immaculate guitar intro, properly accented by Cepillo's Peruvian cajon slapbox, spells classical flamenco puro. Benavent's simultaneous e-bass punctuations already suggest something more modern is afoot. This is quickly confirmed when the three saxes enter as a lively and heavily syncopated counter-chorus and the piano makes its appearance. Danilo Perez' piano improv -- part of the original quartet arrangement with John Patitucci on bass and Arto Tuncboyaciyan on percussion -- here gives way to Brecker's roaring tenor solo that brings to mind the hormone-crazed calls of a buck in heat. The phenomenally gifted French bass maestro Renaud Garcia-Fons has previously visited flamenco terrain. There are his collaborations with guitarist Pedro Soler and his own release [Oriental Bass, Enja 9334-2/1997]. He has adapted his seemingly unwieldy instrument, especially con arco, into a kind of singing cello on steroids, and, if thus inspired, with very Andalucian origins. "Un Amor Real" is a workout between him and Nuňez that showcases how well the seemingly impossible – flamenco on double-bass -- can be pulled off if entrusted to the right performers. On "Alma de Mujer", Chano Dominguez' piano intro segues straight into a bouncy Columbiana rhythm into which the saxophones of Sambeat and Pardo dig their jiving teeth. Fareed Haque does the honors on acoustic guitar and Dominguez' chromatic exploits venture where no traditional flamenco chord progressions would dare going. "Jerez - Chicago" celebrates another unlikely juxtaposition. Jerez is not only the Spanish birthplace of Nuňez but practically synonymous with one of the cradles of Gitano flamenco. Chicago is the home of Fareed Haque and of course the birthplace of the eponymous Blues style. Gerardo once again appropriates one of his earlier compositions and, with the help of Haque's Chicago Blues manners and special effects on electric guitar, turns it into a brilliant, surprising, playful and way-pointing amalgam of style. Two strangers meet in a strange place and find themselves having much more fun and in common than not. On "Que tambien es de Sevilla", Dominguez' piano opens with a very night-clubby ballad intro only to have the impassioned and thick Spanish voice of Gipsy vocalist Esperanza Fernandez break into an adapted sevillanas meter. By virtue of its simplicity – piano with female vocals – this track in many ways is the most straight-ahead Jazz number. While Fernandez' flamenco jondo demeanor is anything but, it's shocking how well these two worlds collide, blend and survive mutually strengthened. Rather than experimental, it comes across as natural, gracefully conceived and impressively executed. "Para Chick" is a truly rockin' groove that would find mainstream airplay in a minute if those disc jockeys knew how to find it. Anchored by piano, Jorge Pardo's overblown flute and a steady hand by Tino Di Geraldo on percussion and drums, breakout solos by Gerardo Nunez prove yet again why he's considered one of modern Flamenco's wunderkinder on guitar. The following and last track, "Bluesoléa", underscores this only further. Entirely unaccompanied, he explores the traditional – heavily emotive -- context of a flamenco soleas with higher-order Jazz chords that are utterly alien to the flamenco vocabulary but integrate to perfection. This final composition shows why, in certain circles, Flamenco is referred to as the Blues of the Gypsies. The recording quality (mastered in 24-bit super mapping at Bauer Studios in Ludwigsburg/Germany) is very solid and ahead of regular mainstream fare. Still, from that perspective it isn't hi-falutin audiophile material. Never mind. With music this outside yet involving and plenty of audiophile pressings available to bore the dead, this is for the musically adventurous who long for another artistic benchmark. Jazzpaňa II proudly points to a future where cultural differences will melt away in the fiery furnace of truly global music making without any remaining frontiers. - by Srajan Ebaen,

Artist: Gerardo Nunez & Chano Dominguez
Album: Jazzpana II
Year: 2000
Label: ACT
Runtime: 57:57

1.  Calima (Gerardo Nunez) 4:45
2.  Un Amor Real (Gerardo Nunez) 3:24
3.  La Liebre/Plaza Jazzpana (Pedro Pena/Gerardo Nunez) 5:14
4.  Alma de Mujer (Chano Dominguez) 5:18
5.  Blues for Pablo (Gil Evans) 6:08
6.  Latido Loco (Renaud Garcia-Fons) 4:51
7.  Jerez - Chicago (Gerardo Nunez) 4:48
8.  Paso por El (Jorge Pardo) 4:09
9.  Mister Senor (Chano Dominguez) 3:56
10.  Que tambien es de Sevilla (Leon/Clavero/P. Obregón y Beltrán) 2:07
11.  Samaruco (Gerardo Nunez) 4:06
12.  Para Chick (Chano Dominguez) 3:52
13.  Bluesolea (Gerardo Nunez) 5:10

Gerardo Nunez (Accoustic Guitar) - 1-3,6,7,11,13
Chano Dominguez (Piano) - 1,4,5,9,10,12
Jorge Pardo (Soprano Saxophone) - 1,4-6,8,12
Fareed Haque (Electric Guitar) - 1,4,5,7,9
Perico Sambeat (Alto Saxophone) - 1,3-5,9,12
Carles Benavent (Bass Guitar) - 1,3-6,8,12
Tino Di Geraldo (Drums, Palmas) - 1,3-9,12
Cepillo (Cajon) - 1,3,11
Michael Brecker (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,5,9
Colin Towns (Conductor) - 1,4,5
Renaud Garcia-Fons (Double Bass) - 2,6
Las Corraleras (Percussion, Vocal) - 3
Patxi Vrchegvi (Trumpet) - 6
Esperanza Fernandez (Vocals) - 10


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...