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)


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