Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ray Charles - Live

A repackaging of Ray Charles In Newport and Ray Charles In Person presents concerts from 1958 and 1959 that found Charles in peak form, performing some of his best-known R&B hits. - by William Ruhlmann, AMG

Ray was touring with his band in the 50's, and they played as a concent in a stadium it Atlanta. An engineer at one of the radio stations recorded the occasion on a one track tape recorder using a single microphone. The result was issued as an LP, "Ray Charles in Atlanta", and it is one of the most extraordinary albums of all time. First, the recording is technicaly perfect. The band is heard with perfect clarity and balance, and, the audience is also picked up, and you can hear the shouting, whooping, the give and take with the audience, and the extraordinary energy in what was a typical concert of Ray Charles playing to his own audience. Many of the tunes were or became stone classics, known to every funk and blues musician in the country and to most of the population at large. Ray Charles was revered like no other musician. In the same time frame, Ray Charles took his band to the Newport Jazz festival for what was a controversial appearance. Odd, in that this is one of the greatest jazz bands of all time. Again the proceedings were recorded, and issued as "Ray Charles at Newport". Again, it was an astonishing record. The tunes from these two LP's, ".. in Atlanta" and ".. in Newport" make up this CD. The tunes make up the bulk of Charles' best recorded work. It is some of the most remarkable music America has produced. These are the best records Charles has made. Why is this music so good? Ray Charles is a vocalist unlike any other. He does not 'sing' a song, he communicates the song to you soul to soul. He drives it into your brain. The tunes on this record are his full effect masterpieces. Every tune on this CD deserves comment and analysis. There are no weak sisters. Every tune is a classic. Take for example, "The Night Time..". The sax intro played by David "Fathead" Newman is a classic in itself! The tune is probably the most lowdown blues ever recorded. It is the definition of funk. Marjorie Hendrik's verses are the wildest wild abandon you will hear on record. And when Ray pulls it all together at the end, it is ultimately down and refined at the same time, and also ultimately hard driven and swinging. This is the essence of Ray, the rawest yet at the same time the most nuanced voice, carrying more energy than any other voice but at the same time refined beyond description. - by Will Flannery, Amazon.com

Artist: Ray Charles
Album: Live
Year: 1958-59
Label: Atlantic (1987)
Runtime: 71:20

Tracks:
1.  Hot Rod (Ray Charles) 3:43
2.  Blues Waltz (Max Roach) 6:29
3.  In A Little Spanish Town (Mabel Wayne/Sam Lewis/Joe Young) 3:47
4.  Sherry (Hank Crawford) 4:18
5.  The Right Time (Lou Herman) 4:19
6.  A Fool For You (Ray Charles) 7:15
7.  I Got A Woman (Ray Charles) 6:24
8.  Talkin' 'Bout You (Ray Charles) 4:26
9.  Swanee River Rock (Ray Charles) 2:05
10.  Yes Indeed! (Sy Oliver) 2:23
11.  The Right Time (Lou Herman) 4:06
12.  Frenesi (Alberto Dominguez/Ray Charles/S.K. Russell) 4:58
13.  The Spiral-Feel (Milt Jackson) 4:08
14.  Tell The Truth (Lowman Pauling) 2:46
15.  Drown In My Own Tears (Henry Glover) 6:12
16.  What'd I Say (Ray Charles) 4:01

Personnel:
Ray Charles (Piano, Electric Piano, Alto Saxophone and Vocals)
David Newman (Tenor Saxophone)
Hank Crawford (Baritone Saxophone)
Lee Harper (Trumpet)
Marcus Belgrave (Trumpet)
Edgar Willis (Double Bass)
Richie Goldberg (Drums)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bill Charlap - Stardust

Although he had made a few records previously, by the time that pianist Bill Charlap cut All Through the Night in 1997, it was obvious that the connection established with trio mates Peter and Kenny Washington was a special one, capable of great finesse and intuitiveness. People in the upstairs offices at Blue Note also must have known a good thing when they heard it because it wasn’t long before Charlap was inking his first major label deal. Written in the Stars would be his initial Blue Note offering, and there was much to recommend, however Stardust strikes a sophisticated pose that ups the ante even further. The American Popular Song has always been Charlap’s fodder (no surprise there considering that his father composed for the Broadway stage), however there’s a new concept at play with Stardust in that the entire program consists of Hoagy Carmichael originals. “The Nearness of You,” “Georgia On My Mind,” “Skylark,” and the title track are the most widely known items, balanced very astutely by some equally beguiling, if lesser known, chestnuts. ”I Get Along Without You Very Well” is a masterpiece of invention and surely one of the greatest lines that Carmichael ever penned and guest Tony Bennett’s rendition is fine enough, even if the vocalist’s pipes are not quite what they used to be. Shirley Horn’s husky whisper envelops “Stardust” and again nothing much all that revelatory occurs. It’s with the instrumental numbers that things really begin to coalesce. Frank Wess gets that breathy swagger going and things start to swing as “Rockin’ Chair” reaches for that ‘adult tempo’ (as Kenny Washington calls it) that puts a smile on one’s face. Jim Hall’s appearance on “Two Sleepy People” helps to paint additional hues on an already panchromatic view of another obscure gem. Really only “Jubilee” and “I Walk With Music” get above a slow ballad tempo, but it’s that opportunity to luxuriate in the wide open spaces that helps Charlap get his point across in a way that’s deeply satisfying. Classy and accessible, Stardust is piano trio jazz that’s right up there with as good as it gets. - by C. Andrew Hovan, Allaboutjazz.com

Though his debut on record occurred only eight years prior to Stardust, pianist Bill Charlap has become well known for his lush, poignant reading of the standards. On his second date for Blue Note, Charlap and his rhythm section lovingly re-create 11 songs by songster Hoagy Carmichael, and are joined by some truly big talents. Tony Bennett joins in on a spare arrangement of "I Get Along Without You Very Well," Shirley Horn graces an exceptional "Stardust" (perhaps Carmichael's best-known ballad), and guitarist Jim Hall's robust, muted tone is featured on "Two Sleepy People." However, tenor saxophonist Frank Wess damn near steals the show with his warm, languid playing on "Rockin' Chair" and "Blue Orchids." - by John Duffy, AMG

Artist: Bill Charlap
Album: Stardust
Year: 2001
Label: Blue Note (2002)
Runtime: 68:16

Tracks:
1.  Jubilee (Stanley Adams/Hoagy Carmichael) 3:10
2.  I Get Along Without You Very Well (Hoagy Carmichael) 6:39
3.  Rockin' Chair (Hoagy Carmichael) 7:21
4.  I Walk With Music (Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer) 5:03
5.  Two Sleepy People (Hoagy Carmichael/Frank Loesser) 6:37
6.  The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael/Ned Washington) 7:28
7.  One Morning In May (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish) 6:48
8.  Blue Orchids (Hoagy Carmichael) 5:57
9.  Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell) 5:44
10.  Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish) 9:27
11.  Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer) 3:55

Personnel:
Bill Charlap (Piano)
Kenny Washington (Drums)
Peter Washington (Double Bass)
Tony Bennett (Vocals) - 2
Frank Wess (Tenor Saxophone) - 3,8
Shirley Horn (Vocals) - 10
Jim Hall (Guitar) - 5

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dave Brubeck Trio & Gerry Mulligan - Live at the Berlin Philharmonie

Don't get me wrong, I love jazz recorded in a studio, and my collection is full of that kind of stuff. But jazz is primarily a live art, and its in the interaction between musician and audience that it achieves its best. That is no more apparent anywhere than in this recording featuring Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan, two of the best (and, based on the amount of time Ken Burns spent on them in his recent documentary, most under-rated) of America's post-swing jazz musicians. There's much that could be said about all of performances on this CD, but the best thing I can do is just tell you to listen to them. Some of the best treats come from the tracks that were left off of the original vinyl release, such as "Blessed Are The Poor", "Out of Nowhere", and "Out of The Way of The People". Mulligan's powerful baritone sax and Brubeck's distinctive piano fit together perfectly, and the two musicians, encouraged by the auidence no doubt, bring out things in each others' performance that I don't think we'd hear from a studio recording. - by D. Mataconis, Amazon.com

Out of the 13 selections included on this double CD, six were originally released just in Europe, two ("Out of Nowhere" and "Mexican Jumping Bean") were never out before and only five songs were on the American LP. Considering how inspired the Dave Brubeck Quartet sounds, it is surprising that the music has been so obscure for so long. Baritonist Gerry Mulligan is particularly heated on the opening two numbers (the unreleased tracks), pianist Dave Brubeck really stretches himself (check him out on "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" where he progresses from stride to free), and bassist Jack Six and drummer Alan Dawson, in addition to their solo space, are quite alert and constantly pushing the lead voices. Not only are the musicians in top form but the audience is very enthusiastic, demanding three encores. The extensive liner notes by Geoffrey Smith are also a major plus. Highly recommended. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Dave Brubeck Trio & Gerry Mulligan
Album: Live at the Berlin Philharmonie
Year: 1970
Label: Sony/Columbia (1995)
Runtime: 116:31

Tracks:

CD 1
1.  Out Of Nowhere (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman) 10:59
2.  Mexican Jumping Bean (Gerry Mulligan) 9:24
3.  Blessed Are The Poor (The Sermon On The Mount) (Dave Brubeck) 9:04
4.  Things Ain't What They Used To Be (Duke Ellington/Mercer Ellington/Ted Persons) 14:55
5.  Out Of The Way Of The People (Dave Brubeck) 6:48

CD2
1.  The Duke (Dave Brubeck) 7:51
2.  New Orleans (Hoagy Carmichael) 16:01
3.  Indian Song (Dave Brubeck) 10:58
4.  Limehouse Blues (Philip Braham/Douglas Furber) 9:52
5.  St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) 6:43
6.  Basin Street Blues (Spencer Williams) 4:46
7.  Take Five (Paul Desmond) 4:00
8.  Lullaby de Mexico (Lullaby Of Mexico) (Gerry Mulligan) 5:02

Personnel:
Dave Brubeck (Piano)
Gerry Mulligan (Baritone Saxophone)
Alan Dawson (Drums)
Jack Six (Double Bass)

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