Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pee Wee Ellis - Different Rooms

Pee Wee Ellis is best known as one of the architects of funk, the orchestrator of James Brown's sound. He also was the musical director on multiple Van Morrison CDs. On the tracks of Different Rooms, Ellis offers up another facet of his musical life. He's called this development of his sound Smunk (smooth funk). It bears similarities to Fusion, both in the selection of popular tunes covered and in the use of the cool timbre of the electric piano. But I would suggest that more than anything, this CD is Ellis coming home to jazz. Jazz rooted in body rhythms, but first and foremost exceptional jazz. The horn arrangements are nothing short of masterful. And Ellis' tone on tenor sax is a total pleasure. His lyrical solos don't scream and shout - they achieve greater power through nuanced restraint and emotional depth. Several tunes stick with me, running through my mind long after listening (particularly the title track, and Who knows the answer). Wonderful CD by an under-appreciated master jazzman. - by Doctor D.,

Artist: Pee Wee Ellis
Album: Different Rooms
Year: 2006
Label: Skip Records
Runtime: 58:44
Recorded live at Radio Bremen Sendesaal (Germany) in 24.08.2004 

1.  I Heard It Trough the Grapevine (Barrett Strong / Norman Whitfield) 6:39
2.  All Four Seasons (Gordon Sumner) 5:34
3.  Different Rooms (Alfred Ellis) 7:40
4.  Who Has the Answer? (Alfred Ellis) 7:21
5.  Blue Bell Pepper (Alfred Ellis / Ralf Schmid) 4:21
6.  Boogie On Reggae Woman (Stevie Wonder) 3:33
7.  Now And Then (Alfred Ellis / Ralf Schmid) 6:57
8.  Do Dee Dum Diddy (Alfred Ellis) 5:32
9.  You Haven't Done Nothin' (Stevie Wonder) 4:41
10. On a Slow Boat to China (Frank Loesser) 6:26

Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis (Tenor Saxophone, Voice)
Ralf Schmid (Keyboards)
Joo Kraus (Trumpet)
Joe Gallardo (Trombone)
Martin Scales (Guitar)
Christian Diener (Bass)
Torsten Krill (Drums)
Biboul Darouiche (Percussion)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wes Montgomery - Fingerpickin'

Guitarist Wes Montgomery first recorded in the late '40s during his brief period with Lionel Hampton before returning to Indianapolis. He next emerged on record on December 30, 1957, for a Pacific Jazz set with local musicians including his two brothers, vibraphonist Buddy and electric bassist Monk. This CD reissues the complete album (which usually has appeared in piecemeal fashion) and finds Wes already quite recognizable. The pretty standard hard bop music (which usually features Buddy's vibes as the lead voice) is also of interest due to the presence of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard who at age 17 was making his recording debut; he sounds a bit nervous. In addition to this set, the CD has three songs from the one session that Wes made with his brothers' popular group, the Mastersounds. He actually appeared on the full album (a set of music taken from the film Kismet) but these are the only titles that include guitar solos. Although this reissue on a whole is not essential, the music is generally enjoyable and the CD will fill some gaps in one's Wes Montgomery collection. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Wes Montgomery
Year: 1957 (Pacific Jazz)
Label: Capitol (1996)
Runtime: 56:24

1.  Sound Carrier (Buddy Montgomery) 6:57
2.  Bud's Beaux Arts (Buddy Montgomery) 7:33
3.  Bock To Bock (Buddy Montgomery) 10:08
4.  Billie's Bounce (Charlie Parker) 4:42
5.  Lois Ann (Buddy Montgomery) 4:45
6.  All The Things You Are (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II) 3:59
7.  Fingerpickin' (Wes Montgomery) 2:32
8.  Stranger in Paradise (Alexander Borodin/George Forrest/Robert C. Wright) 4:55
9.  Baubles, Bangles and Beads (George Forrest/Robert C. Wright) 3:29
10.  Not Since Nineveh (George Forrest/Robert C. Wright) 7:24

Wes Montgomery (Guitar)
Monk Montgomery (Bass Guitar)
Buddy Montgomery (Vibraphone) - 1-6,8-10
Paul Parker (Drums) - 1-7
Freddie Hubbard (Trumpet) - 1-4
Wayman Atkinson (Tenor Saxophone) - 1-4
Alonzo Johnson (Tenor Saxophone) - 1-4
Joe Bradley (Piano) - 1-5,7
Richie Crabtree (Piano) - 8-10
Benny Barth (Drums) - 8-10

Monday, December 14, 2015

Nils Petter Molvaer - Solid Ether

Like 1998's Khmer, Solid Ether is an unusual addition to the ECM catalog, reflecting the Norwegian trumpeter's continued fascination with drum'n'bass, jungle, and other underground club genres. Molvaer's work in this idiom is indicative of a new wave sweeping Europe and Scandinavia, where boundaries between jazz and electronica are being creatively blurred by a growing number of forward-thinking artists. (The trend is catching on in the States as well.) Molvaer's trumpet is consistently in the forefront, as is the case in the music of his French contemporary, Erik Truffaz. This will inevitably prompt comparisons with Miles Davis, and Molvaer indeed credits Davis as a major influence in his musical development. The music on this record, however, sounds nothing like Davis ever played nor could have foreseen. (That said, in all likelihood he would have heartily approved.) With its driving beats, spare-to-barren harmonies, and dense atmospherics and samples, Solid Ether breaks completely with traditional notions of jazz performance. Most of its tracks segue directly from one to the next, creating a seamless "mix" in the style of much experimental dance music. While ten guest artists are credited in addition to Molvaer (including guitarist Eivind Aarset and DJ Strangefruit, aka Paal Nyhus), they don't often play clearly delineated "parts" or solos. One exception is the two-part "Merciful," which pairs Molvaer's piano with the vocals of Sidsel Endresen, bringing Annette Peacock to mind. Not everyone will "get" this kind of music, and die-hard jazzers might laugh it off as an inconsequential fad. But it's actually a seismic innovation that is just getting started. - by David Adler, AMG

Artist: Nils Petter Molvaer
Album: Solid Ether
Year: 2000
Label: ECM
Runtime: 50:32

1.  Dead Indeed 7:30
2.  Vilderness 1 7:48
3.  Kakonita 4:59
4.  Merciful 1 1:02
5.  Ligotage 6:43
6.  Trip 6:24
7.  Vilderness 2 4:56
8.  Tragamar 4:45
9.  Solid Ether 5:12
10.  Merciful 2 1:13
All compositions by Nils Petter Molvaer

Nils Petter Molvaer (Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet, Synthesizer, Bass, Loops, Electronics, Percussion, Piano)
Eivind Aarset (Guitar, Electronics) - 1,2,5-9
Audun Erlien (Double Bass) - 2,5-9
Per Lindvall (Drums) - 2,5-9
Rune Arnesen (Drums) - 2,5-9
Paal Nyhus (aka Dj Strangefruit) (Beats, Samples, Voice, Vinyl, Ambience) - 5,6,8,9
Sidsel Endresen (Vocals) - 4,10
Reidar Skar (Vocoder) - 6

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Modern Jazz Quartet - Blues On Bach

In the MJQ's early years, critics often found something incompatible between John Lewis's European classical leanings, particularly the baroque, and Milt Jackson's unfettered gifts improvising over bop-blues changes. This 1973 date is structured by that dichotomy, alternating between Lewis's compositions (based on some of Bach's best-known melodies) and a series of original blues, the first three by Lewis, the last by Jackson. Lewis emphasizes the contrast by playing harpsichord on the Bach tunes. His treatment of Bach can drift toward the merely pretty, as in his handling of "Sleepers Awake," but there's a genuine beauty in "Don't Stop This Train" and "Tears from the Children," based on Bach keyboard works. Jackson's fluent solos on the blues are a continuing delight, while Lewis demonstrates once again that he, too, is a musician imbued with the same roots, inserting a telling variation on "St. James Infirmary" into "Blues in A Minor."- by Stuart Broomer

This album has an interesting concept, alternating four original blues with five adaptations of melodies from classical works by Bach. The Modern Jazz Quartet had long been quite adept in both areas, and despite a certain lack of variety on this set (alternating back and forth between the two styles somewhat predictably), the music is largely enjoyable. Vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianist John Lewis (doubling here on harpsichord), bassist Percy Heath, and drummer Connie Kay were still all very much in their musical prime during the 21st year of the MJQ's existence. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Modern Jazz Quartet
Album: Blues On Bach
Year: 1974
Label: Atlantic
Runtime: 41:27

1.  Regret? (John Lewis) 2:04
2.  Blues In B Flat (John Lewis) 4:56
3.  Rise Up In The Morning (John Lewis) 3:28
4.  Blues In A Minor (John Lewis) 7:53
5.  Precious Joy (John Lewis) 3:12
6.  Blues In C Minor (Milt Jackson) 7:58
7.  Don't Stop This Train (John Lewis) 1:45
8.  Blues In H (B) (Milt Jackson) 5:46
9.  Tears From The Children (Johann Sebastian Bach) 4:25

Percy Heath (Double Bass)
Connie Kay (Drums, Percussion)
John Lewis (Piano, Harpsichord)
Milt Jackson (Vibraphone)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pierre Michelot - Round About a Bass

Pierre Michelot was one of the very best jazz bassists in Europe, though few fans think of him as a bandleader, composer, or arranger. This reissue of an LP made for Mercury dates from 1963, where Michelot is joined by some of the top players on the continent. In addition to fresh arrangements of standard fare like "Cherokee" and "Bye, Bye Blackbird," the leader penned five compositions, including the tasty blues "Akkilino," which is an extended feature for his bass and Roger Guerin's muted trumpet. "Elephant Green" showcases flutist Raymond Guiot and Pierre Gossez's robust baritone saxophone in a melancholy ballad setting. Like many of Verve's Jazz in Paris CD reissues, this recording is a sleeper that is well worth acquiring, even if its running time is a tad miserly at around 32 minutes. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Pierre Michelot
Album. Round About A Bass
Year: 1963 (Mercury)
Label: Gitanes Jazz (24-bit remastered, 2000)
Runtime: 32:47

1.  Cherokee (Ray Noble) 3:19
2.  Gavotte (Roger Guérin) 3:26
3.  Akkilino (Pierre Michelot) 3:17
4.  Elephant Green (Pierre Michelot) 3:59
5.  Sous Les Ponts de Paris (Jean Rodor/Vincent Scotto)3:05
6.  Chet (Pierre Michelot) 3:50
7.  Bye Bye Blackbird (Mort Dixon/Ray Henderson) 3:50
8.  Sweet Feeling (Pierre Michelot) 4:00
9.  Klook's Shadow (Pierre Michelot) 4:01

Pierre Michelot (Double Bass)
Maurice Vander (Piano)
Christian Garros (Drums)
Roger Guerin (Trumpet) - 1,3,4,7,9
Maurice Thomas (Trumpet) - 1,3,4,7,9
Fred Gerard (Trumpet) - 1,3,4,7,9
Charles Verstraete (Trombone) - 1,3,4,7,9
Raymond Kataczynski (Trombone) - 1,9
Benny Vasseaur (Trombone) - 3,4,7,8
Raymond Guiot (Flute, Piccolo) - 1,3,4,7-9
Georges Grenu (Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone) - 4
Michel Portal (Alto Saxophone) - 1,3,4,7-9
Pierre Gossez (Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone) - 1,3,4,7-9
Armand Migiani (Baritone Saxophone) - 1,3,4,7-9

Monday, November 23, 2015

Medeski, Martin & Wood - Combustication

As the only jazz band to be accepted by the neo-hippies of the HORDE '90s, Medeski, Martin & Wood pulled off the strange coup of being embraced by rock and jazz audiences, who both loved their endless improvisations. They managed to walk the fine line dividing between the two camps, as their funkified soul-jazz was self-referential and cerebral, not earthy and instinctual. That's part of the reason why some soul-jazz diehards didn't embrace MMW -- the ingredients may be there, but it just didn't taste like a real Jimmy Smith record. Perhaps conscious of this, MMW make no excuses about their heritage on their fifth album, Combustication. Perhaps because it is their first effort for a real jazz label (Blue Note), Combustication happens to be their most adventurous effort yet. Ironically, it's because the group embraces alt-rock and hip-hop conventions like turntable scratching. That ultimately turns out to be just window-dressing, however -- beneath it all, MMW's music remains essentially the same, but the handful of curve balls makes Combustication worth close listening for those already on their side. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

Artist: Medeski, Martin & Wood
Album: Combustication
Year: 1998
Label: Blue Note
Runtime: 68:44

1.  Sugar Craft (Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 3:22
2.  Just Like I Pictured It (Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 3:27
3.  Start-Stop (Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 6:38
4.  Nocturne (Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 4:02
5.  Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho (Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 3:14
6.  Whatever Happened to Gus (Steve Cannon / Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 4:25
7.  Latin Shuffle (Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 9:04
8.  Everyday People (Sylvester Stewart) 5:26
9.  Coconut Boogaloo (Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 3:57
10.  Church of Logic (Jason Kibler / Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 6:38
11.  No Ke Ano Ahiahi (Traditional) 4:47
12.  Hypnotized (Billy Martin / John Medeski / Chris Wood) 13:37

John Medeski (Keyboards)
Billy Martin (Drums, Percussion)
Chris Wood (Bass Guitar, Double Bass, Bass Drum)

DJ Logic (Turntable) - 1,3,10
Steve Cannon (Voice) - 6

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Chuck Mangione - Everything for Love

Chuck Mangione, the famed flugelhornist and trumpeter fills his first recording of the 21st century with some wonderfully subdued love songs whose subtle, intimate qualities may surprise those of his fans who best know his boisterous pop hits. More than simply expressing a romantic boy-girl kind of love, Mangione is playing gentle, atmospheric jazz for a wide variety of special people, real and animated. And there is no doubt that the truest love here is that between the artist and some of his old bandmates; saxman Gerry Niewood played with Mangione from 1968 through the mid-'70s, while guitarist Grant Geissman (showing a rich, traditional jazz depth only hinted at on most of his smooth jazz efforts) and bassist Charles Meeks were there during Mangione's late '70s pop heyday. "Slo Ro," dedicated to Mangione's wife, is a moody reflection piece led by a drifting muted trumpet and the bluesy duality of Niewood's smoky tenor and Allen's keys. A seven-minute meditative version of "Amazing Grace" begins as a quiet, prayer-like duet between Mangione and Geissman, who switches partway through from the Wes sound to an electric rock axe for an edgy solo; then, Allen's organ solo takes this very spiritual rendition to church before Niewood chimes in with a sweet flute solo. Within each song, there are moments when Pellegrini's drums kick the softness up a few notches, and the peppery horn playing on "Fox Hunt" and clapping percussion on the Latin-spiced "I Do Everything for Love" show a more playful side than Mangione displays elsewhere. Fans who know Mangione's whole career will see this as a fine addition to his jazz catalog; those who want more pop hits will be surprised at the low-key nature of the project. - by Jonathan Widran, AMG

Artist: Chuck Mangione
Album: Everything for Love
Year: 2000
Label: Chesky
Runtime: 64:42

1.  Peggy Hill (Chuck Mangione) 6:11
2.  Slo Ro (Chuck Mangione) 7:08
3.  Amazing Grace (Traditional) 7:03
4.  Seoul Sister (Chuck Mangione) 6:18
5.  Viola (Chuck Mangione) 7:48
6.  Fox Hunt (Jack Stevens/Chuck Mangione) 4:13
7.  Annalise (Chuck Mangione) 6:33
8.  I Do Everything For Love (Chuck Mangione) 6:00
9.  Papa Mangione (Chuck Mangione) 6:29
10.  Freddie's Walkin' (Chuck Mangione) 6:59

Chuck Mangione (Muted Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Gerry Niewood (Soprano and Tenor Saxophones, Flute)
Grant Greissman (Guitars)
Charles Meeks (Bass Guitar and Vocals)
Corey Allen (Keyboards)
Darryl Pellegrini (Drums)
Tim Regusis (Keyboards)
Emidin Rivera (Percussion)
Paulette McWilliams (Backing Vocals) - 10
Cindy Mizelle (Backing Vocals) - 10

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hugh Masekela - Grrr

The South African-born trumpeter Hugh Masekela was playing world music before it had a name. On this album, recorded shortly after he moved to the United States and shortly after he became a worldwide star, he seamlessly fuses jazz ideas with the emotionally direct, rhythmically complex South African music known as mbaqanga. - from the CD cover

Artist: Hugh Masekela
Album: Grrr
Year: 1965
Label: Verve Japan (Remastered, 2006)
Runtime: 32:44

1.  U. Dwi (Hugh Masekela) 3:14
2.  Zulu and the Mexican (Hugh Masekela) 3:22
3.  Emavungweni (Ndikho Xaba) 3:08
4.  Ntjilo-Ntjilo (Miriam Makeba) 4:12
5.  Sharpville (Hugh Masekela) 3:29
6.  Umaningi Bona (Zack Nkabinde) 3:17
7.  Sipho (Gwigwi Mrwebi) 3:44
8.  Kwa-Blaney (Jonas Gwangwa) 2:12
9.  Mra (Christopher Mra) 3:08
10.  Phatsha-Phatsha (Lemmy Mabaso) 2:54

Hugh Masekela (Trumpet)
others unknown

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Charlie Mariano & Quique Sinesi - Tango para Charlie

Enrique "Quique" Sinesi, who joins alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano on these recordings, is a strong solo guitarist with a very distinctive musicality... On "Tango para Charlie" this solo wizard encounters the sublime melodic magic of one of the great saxophonist in jazz. The wonder of Mariano has always been his stylistic openness, his ability to go from Kenton to Karnataka, from Pierce to Pork Pie without compromising his personal voice, his "jazz" style. So when Sinesi boards his 7-string Spanish Guitar and sets up a tango groove employing the meanest bass string on any side of the ocean, Mariano counters with cool and jazzy melodic lines the abstarct the groove toward that openness of the "two"... - by Stephan Richter from the original liner notes

Artist: Charlie Mariano & Quique Sinesi
Album: Tango para Charlie
Year: 2001
Label: Enja
Runtime: 58:20

1.  Berliner Tanguismos Part I (Quique Sinesi) 5:15
2.  Berliner Tanguismos Part II (Quique Sinesi) 2:46
3.  Berliner Tanguismos Part III (Quique Sinesi) 5:34
4.  Berliner Tanguismos Part IV (Quique Sinesi) 4:25
5.  The Lady (Charlie Mariano) 7:15
6.  Faluseando (Quique Sinesi) 2:23
7.  Zephyr (Charlie Mariano) 7:20
8.  Tarde De Lluvia En Köln (Quique Sinesi) 5:41
9.  Alta Paz (Quique Sinesi) 4:31
10.  If Only (Charlie Mariano) 4:11
11.  Tango para Charlie (Quique Sinesi) 6:54
12.  Gone (Charlie Mariano) 1:57

Charlie Mariano (Alto Saxophone and Flute)
Quique Sinesi (Spanish Guitar, Charango and Piccolo Guitar)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Herbie Mann - Standing Ovation At Newport

The performance by Herbie Mann's group was one of the high points of the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival. This album includes Mann's "Mushi Mushi" from an earlier date, but it is the lengthy versions of "Patato," "Stolen Moments," and particularly the encore "Comin' Home Baby" from Newport that are most memorable. During this period, the flutist's group included vibraphonist Dave Pike, two trombonists, the young Chick Corea on piano, bassist Earl May, drummer Bruno Carr, and Patato Valdes on conga. For "Comin' Home Baby," composer Ben Tucker, who had played earlier in the day as part of Billy Taylor's Trio, sits in on bass. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Album: Standing Ovation At Newport
Artist: Herbie Mann
Year: 1965
Label: Wounded Bird Records (2000)
Runtime: 34:49

1.  Patato (Dave Pike) 8:21
2.  Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson) 9:35
3.  Mushi Mushi (Herbie Mann) 6:02
4.  Comin' Home Baby (Ben Tucker/Bob Dorough) 10:51

Herbie Mann (Flutes)
Chick Corea (Piano)
Dave Pike (Vibes)
Earl May (Double Bass) - 1-3
Ben Tucker (Double Bass) - 4
John Hitchcock (Trombone)
Bruno Carr (Drums)
Carlos "Patato" Valdes (Congas)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dave Brubeck - Brubeck Plays Brubeck

Dave Brubeck has had a strikingly original style ever since he appeared on records, avoiding the usual Bud Powell runs and instead expressing his training in classical music and his interest in polyrhythms and polytonality while never forgetting to swing. On his first solo piano record, Brubeck not only plays quite well but introduces such new compositions as "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "One Moment Worth Years" in addition to performing a remake of "The Duke." - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Dave Brubeck
Album: Brubeck Plays Brubeck
Year: 1956
Label: Columbia (20 Bit Remastered, 1998)
Runtime: 36:06

1.  Swing Bells 3:39
2.  Walkin' Line 2:47
3.  In Your Own Sweet Way 5:01
4.  Two-Part Contention 5:39
5.  Weep No More 3:59
6.  The Duke 2:54
7.  When I Was Young 3:19
8.  One Moment Worth Years 4:55
9.  The Waltz 3:49
All compositions by Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck (Piano)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Oscar Peterson - A Summer Night In Munich

A Summer Night in Munich captures Oscar Peterson and his "NATO quartet" in a triumphant concert performance recorded July 22, 1998 at the Munchen Philharmonika. With a program of seven Peterson originals plus the Ellington-Strayhorn standard, "Satin Doll," this group cooks. "Backyard Blues" and "Nigerian Marketplace" are especially exciting and contemporary-sounding originals, while "When Summer Comes," "Evening Song" and "Love Ballade" are beautiful ballads. Bassist Niels-Henning Oersted Pedersen lays down the nimble-fingered lines for which he is known, while guitarist Ulf Wakenius is a most complementary figure in dialogue with the leader. Drummer Martin Drew keeps the proceedings on track rhythmically, taking a tasty solo turn on the set closer, "Sushi." With this fine recording, Peterson shows that even in his seventies, he's still got the goods. - by Jim Newsom, AMG

Artist: Oscar Peterson
Album: A Summer Night in Munich
Year: 1998
Label: Telarc Jazz
Runtime: 64:09

1.  Backyard Blues (Oscar Peterson) 7:06
2.  When Summer Comes (Oscar Peterson) 9:16
3.  Nigerian Marketplace (Oscar Peterson) 9:46
4.  Evening Song (Oscar Peterson) 6:24
5.  Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) 8:31
6.  Love Ballade (Oscar Peterson) 8:58
7.  Hymn to Freedom (Oscar Peterson) 6:00
8.  Sushi (Oscar Peterson) 8:04

Oscar Peterson (Piano)
Ulf Wakenius (Guitar)
Niels Henning Oersted-Pedersen (Double Bass)
Martin Drew (Drums)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Johnny Cash - American III: Solitary Men

The Man in Black shows hints of gray on American III: Solitary Man, his first studio album since being interrupted by a series of serious illnesses in 1997. While the inevitability of aging has been the downfall of many of his contemporaries, Johnny Cash's dark convictions and powerful presence have gone from rough hardwood to solid stone. The stark beauty of his 1994 release American Recordings and the warm, friendly collaborations on 1996's Unchained combine to create two distinct moods: one of living-room jam sessions with invited friends, and another of stark solo (and near-solo) songs highlighting Cash's years and stories. Partnering once again with Tom Petty, the two join together on Petty's own "I Won't Back Down" and the Neil Diamond-penned title track. Cash also lays his lonesome hands on U2's "One" and reunites with fellow outlaw Merle Haggard on the stubborn "I'm Leavin' Now." These duets and well-known covers show an inviting side of Johnny Cash. But the real highlights of the album are those reminiscent of his American Recordings songs; they feature just the man and his guitar, with nothing else to clutter the story. The creaks and despair of the vaudeville song "Nobody" tell of a man who has become hardened by his solitude, while the Palace hymn "I See a Darkness" soars with the passion of a thousand gospel choirs, even though there are only two men singing. Although at times it is difficult to hear past Tom Petty's growl or Sheryl Crow's young harmonies in the more popular songs Cash covers, these obscure prison songs and country ballads sound as honest and heartfelt as his own compositions. At age 68, his warm baritone may waver but his passion never does. - by Zac Johnson, AMG

Artist: Johnny Cash
Album: American Recordings III: Solitary Man
Year: 2000
Label: Universal
Runtime: 42:13

1.  I Won't Back Down (Jeff Lynne/Tom Petty) 2:09
2.  Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) 2:25
3.  That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day) (Harry Beasley Smith/Haven Gillespie) 2:36
4.  One (Adam Clayton/Bono/Larry Mullen, Jr./The Edge) 3:53
5.  Nobody (Egbert Williams) 3:14
6.  I See A Darkness (Will Oldham) 3:42
7.  The Mercy Seat (Mick Harvey/Nick Cave) 4:35
8.  Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone) (David Allan Coe) 2:41
9.  Field Of Diamonds (Jack Routh/Johnny Cash) 3:16
10.  Before My Time (Johnny Cash) 2:55
11.  Country Trash (Johnny Cash) 1:48
12.  Mary Of The Wild Moor (Dennis Turner) 2:32
13.  I'm Leavin' Now (Johnny Cash) 3:07
14.  Wayfaring Stranger (Traditional) 3:20

Johnny Cash (Vocals, Guitar)
Norman Blake (Guitar)
Mike Campbell (Guitar)
Marty Stuart (Guitar)
Benmont Tench (Piano, Organ, Harmonium)
Laura Cash (Fiddle)
Merle Haggard (Guitar, Vocals)
Larry Perkins (Guitar)
Randy Scruggs (Guitar)
Sheryl Crow (Accordion, Vocals) - 9,12,14
Tom Petty (Guitar, Organ) - 1,2
June Carter Cash (Vocals) - 9
Will Oldham (Vocals) - 6

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ronu Majumdar - Hollow Bamboo

The world music bin at the record store is a depository for all non-Western sounding musics. From field recordings of  Australian aborigines spinning bull-roarers in a ritual context to studio-produced fusion musics that use an occasional tabla sample for the sake of added exoticism, the world music category catches them all. On Hollow Bamboo, celebrated bansuri player Ronu Majumdar tunes into a few of the different bandwidths offered within the world music spectrum. With half of the tracks he grounds his playing in traditional Hindustani works. Accompanied by the penetrating tabla playing of Abhijit Banerjee on most of these cuts, Majumdar whips up stunning melodic gusts that swirl in and out of time with the tabla. The other four tracks are experimental collaborations with trumpeter Jon Hassell, guitarists Rick Cox and Ry Cooder, and percussionist Joachim Cooder. "A Day for Trade Winds," a song formed upon richly textured guitar drones, is the most successful of these four fusion tracks because guitarists Cox and Cooder lay back and let Majumdar develop subtle, yet sophisticated, melodies. "African Queen" is a less successful hybrid, due in part to the fact that Joachim Cooder's hand drumming drowns out the superior playing of Banerjee. Whatever the contributions of his collaborators may be, Ronu Majumdar's sensitive performance on the hollow, bamboo bansuri makes this CD a great listen, no matter what end of the world music spectrum you're coming from. - by John Vallier, AMG

Artist: Ronu Majumdar
Album: Hollow Bamboo
Year: 2000
Label: Water Lily Acoustic
Runtime: 44:18

1.  Vaisnava Bhajan (Traditional) 6:04
2.  Krsna Kantha Kandam (Ry Cooder/Ronu Majumdar) 3:45
3.  African Queen (Ry Cooder/Ronu Majumdar) 3:26
4.  The Charmer Of Braj (Traditional) 6:27
5.  A Day For Trade Winds (Ry Cooder/Jon Hassell/Ronu Majumdar) 8:08
6.  Bay Of Bengal (Ry Cooder/Ronu Majumdar) 4:45
7.  River Song (Traditional) 5:02
8.  Hollow Bamboo (Traditional) 6:38

Ronu Majumdar (Bansuri)
Ry Cooder (Guitar, Oud) - 2,3,5,6
Jon Hassell (Trumpet) - 3,5
Abhijit Banerjee (Tabla) - 1,3,4,7
Rick Cox (Electric Guitar) - 2,3,5,6
Joachim Cooder (Percussion) - 3

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Joe Lovano - 52nd Street Themes

The CD by jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano blends New York attitude with Midwestern warmth in an homage to the Manhattan street where bebop ruled in the '50s and '60s. The music here, like that of such other thematic Lovano albums as Rush Hour (his 1995 celebration of third-stream music) and Celebrating Sinatra, evokes the past without being at all archival. Fronting a four-man sax section, Lovano blasts through such strong Dameronia as "The Scene Is Clean" and "Tadd's Delight," refreshes the indelible lyricism of Dameron's lovely "If You Could See Me Now," and, in an intimate duet with pianist John Hicks, velvetizes Billy Strayhorn's lush "Passion Flower." It also features Miles Davis' early "Sippin' at Bells"; Lovano's homage to Charlie Parker, the complex "Charlie Chan," a three-way saxophone conversation between Lovano and fellow tenormen George Garzone and Ralph Lalama that's punctuated by Lewis Nash's pinpoint drums; "Abstractions on 52nd Street," Lovano's extrapolation and embellishment of a Thelonious Monk line; and George Gershwin's "Embraceable You," plushly orchestrated by Willie "Face" Smith and lovingly performed by Lovano. Others contributing sax are Gary Smulyan (baritone) and Steve Slagle (alto); Tim Hagans and Conrad Herwig play trumpet and trombone, respectively, while Dennis Irwin handles bass. Like many other Lovano records, this hews close to tradition but updates it effectively. Besides the fervor of the playing -- Smith says he would've played saxophone, but these New York players were much better prepared -- the song selection is astute, Lovano's originals are solid, and Smith's sole compositional contribution, "Deal," is tasty indeed. - by Carlo Wolff, AMG

Artist: Joe Lovano Nonet
Album: 52nd Street Themes
Year: 2000
Label: Blue Note
Runtime: 67:10

1.  If You Could See Me Now (Tadd Dameron / Carl Sigman) 3:51
2.  On A Misty Night (Tadd Dameron) 5:01
3.  Sippin' At Bells (Miles Davis) 5:08
4.  Passion Flower (Billy Strayhorn) 5:04
5.  Deal (Willie Smith) 7:11
6.  The Scene Is Clean (Tadd Dameron) 3:48
7.  Whatever Possess'd Me (Tadd Dameron) 3:56
8.  Charlie Chan (Joe Lovano) 8:07
9.  Theme For Ernie (Fred Lacey) 5:49
10.  Tadd's Delight (Tadd Dameron) 7:47
11.  Abstractions On 52nd Street (Joe Lovano) 2:04
12.  52nd Street Theme (Thelonious Monk) 4:27
13.  Embraceable You (George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin) 4:57

Joe Lovano (Tenor Saxophone)
Dennis Irwin (Double Bass)
Lewis Nash (Drums)
John Hicks (Piano)
Steve Slagle (Alto Saxophone)
Gary Smulyan (Baritone Saxophone)
George Garzone (Tenor Saxophone)
Ralph Lalama (Tenor Saxophone)
Conrad Herwig (Trombone)
Tim Hagans (Trumpet)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Jacques Loussier Trio - Satie: Gymnopedies / Gnossiennes

Those who know Jacques Loussier from his Play Bach Trio, where he imparts a highly personal touch to the music of J. S. Bach, may have been surprised when he attacked Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons last year. Now he has taken another unexpected turn with Erik Satie, Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes. This development may be seen as a kind of progression from the strict logic - albeit eminently suited to improvisation - of Bach through the more expressionistic Vivaldi to Satie, the most impressionistic of these three composers. On the face of it, Satie is perhaps easier to interpret in a jazz idiom since the original music is closer to the forms of modern jazz than that of Bach and Vivaldi. But Loussier produces an equally masterful interpretation in all cases, maintaining an exquisite balance between his own invention and the essence of the original music. Although this record carries the sub-title `Compositions of Jacques Loussier on Themes of Erik Satie', the compositions! ! are at all times recognisably Satie as much as they are Loussier. The technical showmanship associated with many of Loussier's Bach interpretations, and indeed with his Vivaldi, is here exchanged for a gentleness that pervades most of the music on the disc. The mastery of the keyboard is still there, of course, but appears more as musical expression than agility and brilliance. André Arpino on drums complements Loussier's piano as always with sensitive and imaginative percussion, while Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac, new to the trio on bass, shows himself a worthy member of the group. If you know and love Loussier, buy this disc. If you know and love Satie, buy this disc. And if you don't know either, buy the disc anyway - it is one of the greats. - by Francis Markey,

Artist: Jacques Loussier Trio
Album: Satie: Gymnopedies / Gnossiennes
Year: 1998
Label: Telarc Jazz
Runtime: 51:41

1.  Gymnopédie No. 1 / Var. 1 4:35
2.  Gymnopédie No. 1 / Var. 2 4:32
3.  Gnossienne No. 3 4:25
4.  Gnossienne No. 6 5:22
5.  Gnossienne No. 2 4:16
6.  Gymnopédie No. 1 / Var. 3 5:03
7.  Gnossienne No. 4 7:08
8.  Gnossienne No. 5 4:12
9.  Gymnopédie No. 1 / Var. 4 4:32
10.  Gnossienne No. 1 3:52
11.  Pas A Pas 3:44

Jacques Loussier (Piano)
Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac (Double Bass)
André Arpino (Drums)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Art Farmer & Benny Golson Jazztett - Here and Now + Another Git Together

Here and Now:
The Jazztet had been in existence for two years when they recorded what would be their final LPs, Here and Now and Another Git Together. The personnel, other than the two co-leaders, flugelhornist Art Farmer and tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson, had completely changed since 1960 but the group sound was the same. The 1962 version of The Jazztet included trombonist Grachan Moncur III, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Herbie Lewis, and drummer Roy McCurdy. It is remarkable to think that this talent-filled group wasn't, for some reason, snapped up to record even more albums together. Highlights of their excellent out-of-print LP include Ray Bryant's "Tonk," "Whisper Not," "Just in Time," and Thelonious Monk's "Ruby My Dear." A classic if short-lived hard bop group. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Another Git Together:
Recorded at the same sessions that resulted in Here and Now, this Mercury LP was the sixth and final one that documented the Jazztet before their breakup. The group lasted less than three years, which is surprising considering the talent. The 1962 edition of the Jazztet consisted of flugelhornist Art Farmer, tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Herbie Lewis and drummer Albert "Tootle" Heath. This spirited and swinging set has six strong selections with the most memorable including Moncur's "Space Station," Golson's "Along Came Betty" and the standard "This Nearly Was Mine." Along with the other Jazztet dates, this LP is long overdue to be reissued in full on CD. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Art Farmer & Benny Golson Jazztett
Album: Here and Now & Another Git Together
Year: 1962
Lanel: Mercury (Jazzplus, 2012)
Runtime: 43:58 + 35:15

Here and Now
1.  Tonk (Ray Bryant) 6:48
2.  Rue Prevail (Art Farmer) 4:26
3.  Richie's Dilemna (Harold Mabern) 5:10
4.  Whisper Not (Benny Golson) 5:20
5.  Just In TIme (Betty Comden/Adolph Green/Jule Styne) 5:27
6.  Ruby, My Dear (Thelonious Monk) 5:10
7.  In Love In Vain (Jerome Kern/Leo Robin) 7:12
8.  Sonny's Back (Grachan Moncur III) 4:21
Another Git Together
9.  Space Station (Grachan Moncur III) 5:17
10.  Domino (Louis Ferrari/Jacques Plante/Don Raye) 7:06
11.  Another Git Together (Pony Pointdexter/Jon Hendricks) 6:18
12.  Along Came Betty (Benny Golson) 5:32
13.  This Nearly Was Mine (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein) 6:29
14.  Reggie (Benny Golson) 4:33

Art Farmer (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Benny Golson (Tenor Saxophone)
Grachan Moncur III (Trombone)
Harold Mabern (Piano)
Herbie Lewis (Double Bass)
Roy McCurdy (Drums)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Orlando Cachaito Lopez - Cachaito

Buena Vista Club mainstay Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, who is widely regarded as the best bassist in Cuba, could have taken the safe route and recorded a straightforward collection of Cuban son/Latin jazz music. The resulting album may have been a bit predictable and mild, but the high level of musicianship would have ensured a quality product, particularly considering the impressive international cast that appears with Cachaito on this album. To their credit, however, Cachaito and his colleagues were willing to take some chances. Some tracks approach a Cuban version of dub music, as Jamaican organist Bigga Morrison's Hammond prods or Cuban surf guitarist Manuel Galban's instrument reverberates while the bottom drops in and out of the mix. French DJ Dee Nasty even scratches on "Cachaito in Laboratory," a partially successful experiment that yields interesting results even though it doesn't quite gel with the rest of the album. At times the tracks seem more like studio jams than fully realized songs, but the album's overall feel -- self-assured, relaxed, warm, even somewhat jocular -- is quite appealing. The musicianship, of course, is impeccable, including the amazing rhythm section of Cachaito, Miguel "Anga" Diaz on congas, Amadito Valdes on timbales, and Carlos Gonzalez on bongos. Other highlights include Ibrahim Ferrer's cameo appearance on "Wahira," the album's only vocal track; the full orchestral string arrangements by Demetrio Muniz and horn arrangements by James Brown saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis; and "Tumbao No. 5 (Para Charlie Mingus)," which was inspired by the Mingus classic "Haitian Fight Song." - by Todd Kristel, AMG

Artist: Orlando Cachaito Lopez
Album: Cachaito
Year: 2001
Label: World Circuit
Runtime: 48:00

1.  Siempre Con Swing (Intro) 0:24
2.  Redencion (Israel Lopez) 4:50
3.  Mis Dos Pequenas (Anais Cruz) 4:06
4.  A Gozar El Tumbao (Israel Lopez) 2:47
5.  Cachaito In Laboratory (Orlando Lopez) 2:43
6.  Tumbao No.5 (Para Charlie Mingus) (Orlando Lopez) 7:47
7.  Conversacion (Orlando Lopez) 6:41
8.  Tumbanga (Orlando Lopez / Miguel Diaz / Hugh Masakela) 4:25
9.  Oracion Lucumi (Arsenio Rodriguez) 4:11
10.  Wahira (Orlando Lopez / Lazaro Villa) 4:54
11.  Anais (Orlando Lopez / Miguel Diaz) 3:42
12.  La Negra (Orlando Lopez) 1:30

Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez (Double Bass)
Carlos Gonzalez (Bongos)
Miguel "Anga" Diaz (Congas, Percussion)
Manuel Galban (Electric Guitar)
Alejandro Pichardo Perez (Guiro, Claves)
Bigga Morrison (Organ [Hammond], Clavinet)
Amadito Valdes (Timbales)
Dee Nasty (Scratching) - 5
Pedro Depestre (Violin) - 3
Pee Wee Ellis (Tenor Saxophone, Hammond Organ) - 10
Ibrahim Ferrer (Vocals) - 10
Juan de Marcos Gonzales (Tres) - 10
Rafael Jenks (Tenor Saxophone) - 6
Hugh Masakela (Flugelhorn) - 8
Yaure Muniz (Trumpet) - 7
Johnny Neptumo (Tres) - 9
Jesus Ramos (Trombone) - 2,8
Policarpo Tamayo (Flute) - 2,7
Si Burwell (Keyboards) - 7
Jose Castaneda (Tres) - 11
Junior Dan (Bass Guitar) - 3,8
Roberto Fonseca (Piano) - 12
Tony Remy (Electric Guitar) - 11
Filiberto Sanchez (Bongos) - 11
Javier Zalba (Baritone Saxophone) - 12

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Little Axe - The Wolf That House Built

Technically this is an Epic release, but those in the know will see Adrian Sherwood listed as producer and Skip McDonald as sole performer and understand immediately: in all but name, this is an On-U Sound production. What does that mean? It means that groove will be primary, words secondary, and overall sound will be dark and thrilling; it means that weird samples will bubble up unpredictably from beneath churning funk and reggae rhythms; and it means that a certain degree of dubwise anarchy will infuse every note. What distinguishes this album from other On-U projects is the raw material: whereas an On-U Sound album generally builds on a reggae foundation, Skip McDonald's background is in the blues, and what he has put together here is a tribute to Howling Wolf. This is a roiling pastiche of samples taken from Wolf's singing and speaking, all of them thrown into a stew of funk and reggae beats and interspersed with McDonald's own multi-tracked vocals (which will sound very familiar to fans of Tackhead and Strange Parcels, both of which were founded by him). It's hard to identify highlights here, but some of the album's especially strong moments come during "Ride On," which samples Howling Wolf's discussions of life on the road, and the primarily instrumental "Out in the Rain and Cold." Exquisite. - by Rick Anderson, AMG 

Artist: Little Axe
Album: The Wolf That House Built
Year: 1994
Label: Wired
Runtime: 63:27

1.  Ride On (Fight On) (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 5:24
2.  The Time Has Come (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood / Doug Wimbish) 5:05
3.  Out in the Rain and Cold (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood / Doug Wimbish) 4:35
4.  Back to the Crossroads (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 6:37
5.  Never Turn Back, Pts. 1 & 2 (A. Lomax / Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 7:21
6.  Another Sinful Day (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 4:05
7.  Crossfire (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 4:29
8.  Wolf's Story (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 4:20
9.  Hear My Cry (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood / Doug Wimbish) 7:00
10.  Dayton (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 6:10
11.  Falling Down (Bernard Alexander) 4:26
12.  Wake the Town (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 3:55

Bernard Alexander (aka Little Axe, Skip McDonald) (Guitar, Vocals, Keyboard, Bass and Programming)
Doug Wimbish (Bass Guitar)
Keith Leblanc (Drums)
Talvin Singh (Tablas and Percussion)
Kevin Gibbs (Vocals)
Saz Bell (Vocals)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yusef Lateef - The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef

On The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef, Riverside seems eager to present Yusef Lateef, technical virtuoso, on a series of songs that step closer to jazz tradition than any of his work in the recent past. Largely absent are Lateef's experiments with Eastern modes, rhythms, and instrumentation, and in their place is a collection of largely upbeat, accessible songs, with a balanced mix of standards and originals. Much of the introspective, personal quality of his previous albums seems lost in the effort, but Lateef's playing still remains stellar, especially on oboe. That instrument, which is by nature soft and muted, is given enough power by Lateef to lead on several songs, most beautifully on "Salt Water Blues," where its naturally melancholy sound seems perfectly matched with the low, rounded tones of Lateef's rhythm section, especially Ron Carter's bowed cello. The quintet also shines on the following track, Joe Zawinul's "Lateef Minor 7th," where they provide a gentle counterpoint to Lateef's sweet flute line. Not quite as expansive or daring as much of Lateef's other recordings, The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef still documents a fine musician at work during the peak of his career. - by Stacia Proefock, AMG

Artist: Yusef Lateef
Album: The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef
Year: 1960
Label: OJC (Remastered, 1992)
Runtime: 42:21

1.  Goin' Home (Antonin Dvorák/Mark Fisher) 5:04
2.  I'm Just a Lucky So and So (Mack David/Duke Ellington) 4:39
3.  Quarantine (Abe Woodley) 7:03
4.  From Within (Yusef Lateef) 4:14
5.  Salt Water Blues (Yusef Lateef) 6:50
6.  Lateef Minor 7th (Joe Zawinul) 5:01
7.  Adoration (Yusef Lateef) 4:34
8.  Ma (He's Making Eyes at Me) (Sidney Clare/Con Conrad) 4:56

Yusef Lateef (Tenor Saxophone, Oboe, Flute)
Ron Carter (Cello) - 1,2,4-7
Hugh Lawson (Piano, Celeste)
Herman Wright (Double Bass)
Lex Humphries (Drums, Tympany)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Arto Lindsay - Noon Chill

This disc proves the adage that you shouldn't judge a book (or CD) by its cover: beneath a blurry and daunting photo of Lindsay as a soggy frogman, the more adventurous buyer will discover hypnotic rhythms and enigmatic lyrics. While Lindsay's voice is thin (and sometimes flat), his narcotic delivery is nicely suited to the pictures he paints. Check out the Brazilian flavors of "Simply Are" or the trance groove of "Ridiculously Deep," and you'll hear why this cult favorite has won the admiration (and guest appearances) of musicians like Nana Vanconcelos, Mitchell Froom, Peter Scherer and others. So put the cover away and let your ears be the judge. - by Tim Sheridan, AMG

Apart from the brief guitar freak-out on "Anything" and the hungover New Orleans brass-band feel of "Gods Are Weak," Noon Chill mostly sees [Arto] Lindsay wondering aloud about what make-out music might sound like in a future in which thin wrists are sexy and jungle rhythms, ambient detachment, and global fusion are taken for granted. The result sounds like an existential Sergio Mendes with his female chorus replaced by Future Sound of London’s electronic pulsations. Indeed, Lindsay’s occasionally stilted language makes Noon Chill often sound like he’s updating the bossa nova of his Brazilian childhood for urban neurotics too self-aware to utter a cheese pick-up line at the beach. In other words, Arto Lindsay is a lounge lizard even 99-pound weaklings can believe in. -- Spin Magazine

Artist: Arto Lindsay
Album: Noon Chill
Year: 1998
Label: For Life
Runtime: 44.27

1.  Noon Chill (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 3:35
2.  Whirlwind (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 4:40
3.  Simply Are (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Davi Moraes / Marisa Monte) 3:40
4.  Blue Eye Shadow (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 3:28
5.  Mulata Fuzarqueira (Noel Rosa) 3:06
6.  Ridiculously Deep (Arto Lindsay / Vinicius Cantuaria / Melvin Gibbs) 4:08
7.  Anything (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs / Sussan Deyhim) 4:25
8.  Gods Are Weak (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 2:36
9.  Take My Place (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 4:14
10.  Daily Life (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 1:31
11.  Light Moves Away (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 3:24
12.  Why Compare (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs / Lucas Santana) 3:34
13.  Auguri (Arto Lindsay / Davi Moraes / Marisa Monte) 2:06

Arto Lindsay (Vocals, Guitar)
Davi Moraes (Acoustic Guitar, Surdo)
Melvin Gibbs (Bass, Surdo, Acoustic Guitar, Programmed, Keyboards)
Andres Levin (Programmed, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Keyboards)
Nana Vasconcelos (Repinique, Pandeiro, Congas, Shaker, Surdo, Cymbal, Percussion)
Marty Ehrlich (Bass Clarinet)
Ravi Best (Cornet, Trumpet)
Vincent Chancey (French Horn)
Joshua Roseman (Trombone)
Ryuichi Sakamoto (Piano [Prepared], Keyboards, Piano) - 3-5,7,12
Peter Scherer (Sampler, Piano) - 1-3,9,10,13
Sussan Deyhim (Vocals) - 7,12
Gustavo de Dalva (Atabaque, Agogo, Shakers) - 11
Fernanda Torres (Voice) - 11
Mitchell Froom (Claviola) - 5
Vinicius Cantuaria (Acoustic Guitar) - 6

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rufus Harley - A Tribute To Courage

Just when you thought you'd heard it all, along comes a jazz bagpipe player. Make no mistake folks, this is more than a joke -- whatever you might think, the cat can play. At first it sounds like some sort of weird organ, but a couple of minutes later you can't mistake it for anything but what it is. Like an organ, though, the bagpipe turns out to be remarkably suited for jazz. With little effort, one man can make an absolute ocean of sound. The groove here is nothing special, a solid soul-jazz feeling. Side one is all bagpipe. Side two is the leader on a number of different instruments. A talented fellow. - by Rob Ferrier, AMG

Brilliant work by one of the most unusual jazz talents of the 60s! Rufus Harley's best known for his use of bagpipes in jazz music – a re-cooption of the instrument from Scottish styles, taking it back to its roots in northern Africa. A number of Harley's other albums from the time are a bit gimmicky – but this later set is a soul jazz masterpiece, infused with rich Coltrane-like modes of expression, as Harley plays both soprano sax and bagpipes over some long modal original compositions! The group is a great one – with Oliver Collins playing some fantastic spiraling lines on piano, and great bass and drum work by James Glenn & Billy Abner. Titles include "Ali", "X", "About Trane", "Tribute To Courage", and a great version of "Sunny"! (White label promo. Cover has some edge wear, a promo sticker, anda name in marker on back.) - Dusty Groove, Inc.

Artist: Rufus Harley
Album: A Tribute To Courage
Year: 1968
Label: Warner Japan (24bit remastered, 2014)
Runtime: 35:46

1.  Sunny (Bobby Hebb) 7:06
2.  A Tribute To Courage (JFK) (Rufus Harley) 7:46
3.  Swing Low Little Charriot (Traditional) 5:35
4.  Ali (Rufus Harley) 4:03
5.  "X" (Rufus Harley) 3:32
6.  About Trane (Rufus Harley) 7:44

Rufus Harley (Bagpipes, Piano, Flute, Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone)
James Glenn (Bass)
Billy Abner (Drums)
Oliver Collins (Piano)
Robert Kenyatta (Congas) - 1-3

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Shorty Rogers - Jazz Waltz

Shorty Rogers' Jazz Waltz is exactly that, an exploration of ten compositions played in waltz settings. Only these big-band charts are hardly the waltzes heard on Lawrence Welk's long-running television series. Rogers kicks off with a swinging number ("I'm Gonna Go Fishin'") written by Duke Ellington for the soundtrack to the film Anatomy of a Murder and featuring the leader's rich flügelhorn. The lyrical take of the centuries-old folk melody "Greensleeves" alternates between the tense rhythm section and Bud Shank's gorgeous flute solo. Rogers' delightful "Be as Children" almost sounds as if it was adapted from a gospel song. The brisk treatment of Ellington's "Echoes of Harlem," featuring Paul Horn on flute, is refreshing. Only Bobby Scott's "A Taste of Honey" is the least bit disappointing, simply because this arrangement isn't quite as adventurous as the rest of the album. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Shorty Rogers
Album: Jazz Waltz
Year: 1963 (Reprise)
Label: WEA Japan (24bit remastered, 2014)
Runtime: 40:11

1.  I'm Gonna Go Fishin' (Duke Ellington/Peggy Lee) 4:33
2.  Greensleeves (Traditional) 5:27
3.  Walk on the Wild Side (Elmer Bernstein) 4:17
4.  Witchcraft (Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh) 2:57
5.  Be as Children (Shorty Rogers) 3:35
6.  Jazz Waltz (Shorty Rogers) 4:06
7.  Echoes of Harlem (Duke Ellington) 4:41
8.  A Taste of Honey (Ric Marlowe/Bobby Scott) 2:52
9.  Terrence's Farewell (Shorty Rogers) 3:34
10.  The Streets of Laredo (Shorty Rogers) 4:05

Shorty Rogers (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Bud Shank (Alto Saxophone) - 1,3,5,6
Joe Maini (Alto Saxophone) - 1,3,5,6
Paul Horn (Alto Saxophone, Flute) - 2,4,7,10
Bill Hood (Baritone Saxophone) - 1,3,5,6
Joe Mondragon (Double Bass)
Mel Lewis (Drums)
Lou Levy (Piano)
Bill Perkins (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,3,5,6
Bob Cooper (Tenor Saxophone) - 1,3,5,6
Harry Betts (Trombone) - 1,3,5,6
Milt Bernhardt (Trombone) - 1,3,5,6
George Roberts (Bass Trombone) - 1,3,5,6
Kenny Shroyer (Bass Trombone)
Al Porcino (Trumpet) - 1,3,5,6
Ray Tiscari (Trumpet) - 1,3,5,6
Joe Burnett (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Ollie Mitchell (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Emil Richards (Vibraphone) - 2,4,7,10
Larry Bunker (Vibraphone) - 1,3,5,6

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bob Brookmeyer - Trombone Jazz Samba / Samba Para Dos

Trombone Jazz Samba:
Bob Brookmeyer was in the studio just a few months after Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd helped to launch the bossa nova craze in the United States with their hit LP Jazz Samba, but this extremely enjoyable LP didn't come close to matching the success of the earlier album; it may be because the valve trombone is not envisioned as a lush melodic instrument by the average jazz listener in comparison to the tenor sax. Brookmeyer's mellow solos are complemented by the presence of guitarists Jim Hall (who plays all of the solos) and Jimmy Raney, along with vibraphonist Gary McFarland and a trio of Latin percussionists, including Willie Bobo. Luiz Bonfá's "Samba de Orfeu" and "Manha de Carnaval" as well as Antonio Carlos Jobim's "A Felicidade" (all three of which have become standards within the genre) are given imaginative arrangements, but there are a few twists thrown in by the leader. Brookmeyer's catchy "Blues Bossa Nova" works very well, as do his loping bossa nova treatment of Bronislaw Kaper's theme from Mutiny on the Bounty and a hilarious brisk chart called "Colonel Bogey Bossa Nova," a reworking of the well-known song made famous by the film The Bridge on the River Kwai. Long out of print, this album deserves to be reissued by Verve -- although there are hopefully some unissued tracks, as its brevity (under 28 minutes) is a handicap.

Samba Para Dos:
This long unavailable record pairs valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer with pianist Lalo Schifrin in a light but swinging Latin-flavored studio session. Although there is a formidable supporting cast, which includes Phil Woods, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, and Jimmy Raney, the solos are primarily by the co-leaders and Leo Wright, heard on several flute solos. Following Schifrin's extended but lively "Samba Para Dos," the remainder of the date focuses on very familiar standards. Raney's solos are a highlight of "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "My Funny Valentine." The full reed section fleshes out a potent interpretation of "Just One of Those Things," which features an impressive and often humorous solo by Brookmeyer. Although this may not be considered an essential LP by the average jazz fan, it is well worth acquiring. - by Kewn Dryden, AMG

Artist: Bob Brookmeyer
Album: Trombone Jazz Samba (1-8) / Samba Para Dos (9-16)
Year: 1962, 1963 (Verve)
Label: Universal (2012)
Runtime: 59:22

1. Samba de Orfeu (Luiz Bonfa) 4:09
2.  Manha da Carnival (Luiz Bonfa) 4:32
3.  Blues Bossa Nova (Bob Brookmeyer) 4:12
4.  Qual E O Po (Gerson Goncalves/Joao Roberto Kelly) 3:29
5.  A Felicidade (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 3:15
6.  Mutiny on the Bounty (Bronislaw Kaper) 2:04
7.  Chara Tua Tristeza (Oscar Castro-Neves/Luvercy Florini) 4:13
8.  Colonel Bogey Bossa Nova (Kenneth J. Alford) 2:15
9.  Samba Para Dos (Lalo Schifrin) 10:06
10. What Kind Of Fool Am I (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley) 3:03
11. I Get A Kick Out of You (Cole Porter) 3:34
12. Just One Of Those Things (Cole Porter) 3:20
13. Time After Time (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) 3:29
14. It's All Right With Me (Cole Porter) 2:31
15. My Funny Valentine (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) 2:01
16. But Not For Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 3:06

Bob Brookmeyer (Trombone and Piano)
Lalo Schifrin (Piano) 9-16
Jim Hall (Guitar) 1-8
Jimmy Raney (Guitar)
Gary McFarland (Vibraphone) 1-8
Willie Bobo (Percussion) 1-8
Carmen Costa (Cabassa) 1-8
Jose Paulo (Tambourine, Percussion)
Leo Wright (Alto Saxophone, Flute) 9-16
Phil Woods (Alto Saxophone) 9-16
Jerome Richardson (Alto Saxophone) 9-16
Zoot Sims (Tenor Saxophone) 9-16
Al Cohn (Tenor Saxophone) 9-16
Romeo Penque (Bass Clarinet) 9-16
Danny Bank (Baritone Saxophone) 9-16
Frank Rehak (Trombone) 9-16
Carmelita Koehler (Cello) 9-16
Ben Tucker (Double Bass) 9-16
Dave Bailey (Drums) 9-16

Monday, May 4, 2015

Luisa Sobral - There's A Flower In My Bedroom

Portuguese music continues to enjoy an enviable health, which pleases us greatly that we are neighbors and friends yet. Born in Lisbon 25 years ago, the singer-songwriter Luisa Sobral, he surprised two years ago with his album-debut entitled "The Cherry On My Cake", which fuses jazz and pop with American performers preferably reserved for talent. On occasion, she commented that in jazz, the audience is too fixed in the instrumental aspects and little letters, so with his music,
intended to claim the role of excellent composer and writer. His tenure in New York and the School of Music Breklee, have provided a link with the world of jazz and other music, in which the references to the style divas as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington are unavoidable but always as a fulcrum and never pretentious imitation or something, because Luisa has a personality that projects in each and every one of his creations. If I had to compare it to someone you know than enough, I would go for Madeleine Peyroux. Your voice reminds me of the American singer and also something Frenchified atmosphere that both cause in some of his songs. Two years have passed since the release of their first album and Luisa Sobral released "There's A Flower In My Bedroom", confirming the expectations of the quality and originality demonstrated in his first job. Are seventeen tracks in total, in which Luisa deals with different styles, jazz, folk and pop, she connects talented. In this new album, the Portuguese singer performs in English, Spanish ("How many times") and in their own language and, for the occasion, he has chosen Jamie Cullum as a guest on "She Walked doown The Aisle" and also to pianist Mario Laginha, one of the great figures of Portuguese jazz in "The Last One", as well as the singer and guitarist Antonio Zambujo in "Agnes". All acoustic and issues especially recommend as "Mom Says," "I Was In Paris Today" and, my favorite, "As The Night Comes Along", reminiscent of Norah Jones. - from

Artist: Luisa Sobral
Album: There's A Flower In My Bedroom
Year: 2013
Label: Universal
Runtime: 49:32

1.  I Was In Paris Today 2:41
2.  Mom Says 3:21
3.  Sr. Vinho 3:01
4.  She Walked Down The Aisle 3:25
5.  Quando Te Vi 2:41
6.  Cuantas Veces 3:21
7.  Japanese Rose 3:02
8.  What Do You See In Lily? 1:53
9.  Rainbows 2:54
10.  As The Night Comes Along 2:55
11.  Hello Stranger 1:38
12.  The Letter I Won't Send 4:31
13.  Will You Find Me? 2:15
14.  Ines 3:36
15.  I Remember You 2:30
16.  I'll Be Waiting 3:01
17.  The Last One 2:47
All songs written by Luisa Sobral

Luisa Sobral (Vocals, Guitar, Banjo, Glockenspiel, Harp, Vocal Trumpet)
Joao Salcedo (Piano, Harmonium, Accordion, Backing Vocals)
Joao Hasselberg (Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals)
Carlos Miguel Antunes (Drums, Backing Vocals)
Mario Barreiros (Guitalele) - 3
Jamie Cullum (Vocals) - 4
Antonio Zambujo (Vocals) - 14
Mario Laginha (Piano) - 17
Gileno Santana (Trumpet, Flugelhorn) - 8,10
Claudio Cesar Ribeiro (Guitar) - 5,14
Vitor Vieira (Violin)
Juan Maggiorani (Violin)
Jorge Alves (Viola)
Marco Pereira (Cello)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bobby Timmons - Sweet And Soulful Sounds + Born To Be Blue

Sweet and Soulful Sounds, from 1962, is a most atypical record for Bobby Timmons. Long thought of only as a funky piano player in the style that Ramsey Lewis would later make commercially successful, Timmons could also play prettily, as he does on this ballad-heavy set. There's a little funk here; the up-tempo "Another Live One" sounds like a potential Cannonball Adderley hit (Timmons, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Roy McCurdy were all once and future Adderley accompanists). But for the most part, Timmons keeps his cool, showing a very strong Bud Powell influence throughout. (Actually, the two solo tracks, "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" and a meditative "God Bless the Child," sound as if Timmons had been listening to Bill Evans' solo records, as the latter in particular has the same rhythmically loose, melodically free style.) The highlights are the three standards, Richard Rodgers' "The Sweetest Sounds," a relaxed and swinging take on Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," and a version of Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern's "Why Was I Born?" that turns it from a show tune into a despondent blues. This is an unusual record for Bobby Timmons, but a great one. - by Stewart Mason, AMG

Throughout his career, Bobby Timmons was typecast as a soulful and blues-oriented pianist due to his hits ("Moanin '," "This Here" and "Dis Dat"). But as he shows on this 1963 trio date (with either Sam Jones or Ron Carter on bass and drummer Connie Kay), Timmons was actually a well-rounded player when inspired. The repertoire on his CD ranges from bop to spirituals, from three diverse originals to "Born to Be Blue." This is excellent music but unfortunately Timmons would not grow much musically after this period. His CD is worth picking up. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Bobby Timmons
Album: Sweet And Soulful Sounds + Born To Be Blue
Year: 1962 + 1963 (Riverside Records)
Label: Universal (Dig. Remastered, 2012)
Runtime: 81:53

1.  The Sweetest Sounds (Richard Rodgers) 5:00
2.  Turn Left (Bobby Timmons) 5:30
3.  God Bless The Child (Billie Holiday/Arthur Herczog Jr.) 5:05
4.  You'd Be So Nice To Come Home (Cole Porter) To 4:39
5.  Another Live One (Bobby Timmons) 4:14
6.  Alone Together (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz) 6:03
7.  Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (Fran Landesman/Tommy Wolf) 3:42
8.  Why Was I Born? (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II) 5:51
9.  Born To Be Blue (Mel Torme/Robert Wells) 4:27
10.  Malice Towards None (Tom McIntosh)  5:00
11.  Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child (Traditional) 4:44
12.  Know Not One (Bobby Timmons) 7:57
13.  The Sit In (Bobby Timmons) 4:19
14.  Namely You (Johnny Mercer/Gene DePaul) 6:05
15.  Often Annie (Bobby Timmons) 9:17

Bobby Timmons (Piano)
Sam Jones (Double Bass) - 1,2,4-6,8-10,13,15
Roy McCurdy (Drums) - 1,2,4-6,8
Ron Carter (Double Bass) - 11,12,14
Connie Kay (Drums) - 9-15

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lee Konitz - Another Shade of Blue

This follow up to an earlier CD (Alone Together) with Brad Mehldau and Charlie Haden took place exactly one year later at the same venue, L.A.'s Jazz Bakery. Like the first release, the trio takes their time exploring each tune, whether it's the leader's opening blues or a favorite ballad like "What's New" or "Body and Soul." This stimulating set is highly recommended! - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Lee Konitz
Album: Another Shade of Blue (Live at Jazz Bakery)
Year: 1997
Label: Blue Note (1999)
Runtime: 67:51

1.  Another Shade Of Blue (Lee Konitz) 10:49
2.  Everything Happens To Me (Johnny Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael) 12:17
3.  What's New (Johnny Burke/Bob Haggart) 15:49
4.  Body and Soul (Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour) 17:30
5.  All Of Us (Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden) 11:24

Lee Konitz (Alto Saxophone)
Brad Mehldau (Piano)
Charlie Haden (Double Bass)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lou Donaldson - The Scorpion (Live at the Cadillac Club)

This previously unreleased live set, which has been issued on Blue Note's Rare Groove Series, will bore anyone who listens closely. The repertoire is dominated by lengthy funk grooves that are quite danceable but never develop beyond the obvious. Altoist Lou Donaldson was using a baritone horn at the time that gave him a generic and unappealing tone, the obscure trumpeter Fred Ballard does his best to no avail and the enthusiastic rhythm section (guitarist Melvin Sparks, organist Leon Spencer, Jr., and drummer Idris Muhammad) keeps the grooves repetitious. Bob Porter's liner notes (which colorfully give readers the history of Newark jazz of the past 30 years) are superlative but, even with the inclusion of a fast blues, musically nothing much happens. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Lou Donaldson
Album: The Scorpion - Live at the Cadillac Club
Year: 1970
Label: Blue Note (1995)
Runtime: 46:32

1.  The Scorpion (Leon Spencer) 10:47
2.  Laura (David Raksin) 5:55
3.  Alligator Boogalooo (Lou Donaldson) 13:15
4.  The Masquerade Is Over (Herbert Magidson/Allie Wrubel) 4:15
5.  Peepin' (Lonnie Smith) 5:30
6.  Footpattin' Time (Lou Donaldson) 6:50

Lou Donaldson (Alto Saxophone)
Idris Muhammad (Drums)
Melvin Sparks (Guitar)
Leon Spencer (Organ)
Fred Ballard (Trumpet)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Milt Jackson & Sonny Stitt - In the Beginning

This is a very interesting CD, particularly for bop collectors, since it contains very rare early performances by altoist Sonny Stitt and vibraphonist Milt Jackson; some of the titles were originally under trumpeter Russell Jacquet's name. There are eight songs by a quintet with Stitt, Jacquet and pianist Sir Charles Thompson, what could be considered the first Modern Jazz Quartet records (actually a quintet with Milt Jackson, pianist John Lewis, drummer Kenny Clarke, bassist Al Jackson and Chano Pozo on congas) and five songs from a septet with Jacquet, Stitt, trombonist J.J. Johnson and baritonist Leo Parker. Recorded in Detroit for the tiny Galaxy label, these performances are not essential but they do give listeners an early glimpse at the future stars. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Milt Jackson & Sonny Stitt
album: In the Beginning
Year: 1948 (Galaxy)
label: OJC (digital remastering, 1991)
Runtime: 43:30

1.  Body and Soul (Frank Eyton/Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour) 2:24
2.  3rd Song (Silver Slipper) (Sonny Stitt) 2:19
3.  Red Shoes (Sonny Stitt) 2:22
4.  Be Bop Blues (Sonny Stitt) 2:15
5.  Royal Wedding (Sonny Stitt) 2:28
6.  Fine and Dandy (Paul James/Kay Swift) 2:24
7.  Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish) 2:18
8.  Ratio And Proportion (Sonny Stitt) 2:17
9.  Slits (Milt Jackson) 2:36
10.  Baggy Eyes (Milt Jackson) 2:27
11.  In A Beautiful Mood (Milt Jackson) 3:00
12.  Baggy's Blues (Milt Jackson) 2:44
13.  Suade Jacket (Russell Jacquet/J.J. Johnson) 2:57
14.  Suade Jacket Alt. Take (Russell Jacquet/J.J. Johnson) 2:53
15.  Lion's Roar (Russell Jacquet) 2:52
16.  Scamper Roo (Russell Jacquet/J.J. Johnson) 2:53
17.  Relaxin' (Russell Jacquet/Sonny Stitt) 2:14

Sonny Stitt (Alto Saxophone)
Milt Jackson (Vibraphone) - 9-12
Russell Jacquet (Trumpet) - 1-7,13-17
Charles Thompson (Piano) - 1-8,13-17
John Lewis (Piano) - 9-12
Al Jackson (Double Bass) - 9-12
Kenny Clarke (Drums) - 9-12
Chano Pozo (Conga) - 9-12

Monday, March 23, 2015

Herbie Mann - The Beat Goes On

Herbie Mann was quite unpredictable in the 1960s -- from one album to the next, you never knew if he would embrace hard bop, bossa nova, Latin jazz, soul-jazz, or whatever else he was in the mood for. He could be commercial one minute, esoteric and experimental the next. One of Mann's more commercial LPs from that period, The Beat Goes On, is a generally funky, groove-oriented soul-jazz effort with strong Latin leanings. Much of the material brings to mind Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, and comparisons to Pucho are unavoidable on cuts that range from Mann's "More Rice Than Peas, Please" to a version of Sonny & Cher's "The Beat Goes On" and a Latin boogaloo interpretation of Joe Liggins' "The Honeydripper" (which features King Curtis on tenor sax). Afro-Cuban rhythms are a high priority, although Mann gets into more of a bossa nova groove on vibist Dave Pike's "Dream Garden." Jazz purists hated this release, but let them say what they will -- this LP is full of highly infectious grooves and makes a great party album. Regrettably, The Beat Goes On has long been out of print -- so if you're a lover of Latin-flavored soul-jazz and come across a copy somewhere, grab it immediately. - by Alex Henderson, AMG

Artist: Herbie Mann
Album: The Beat Goes On
Year: 1967 (Atlantic)
Label: WEA Japan (24bit remastered, 2014)
Runtime: 31:12

1.  No Matter What Shape (Granville Burland) 3:25
2.  More Rice Than Peas, Please (Herbie Mann) 3:30
3.  Hey Ho (Herbie Hancock) 2:45
4.  The Honeydripper (Joe Liggins) 2:45
5.  The Beat Goes On (Sonny Bono) 2:50
6.  Swingin´ Shepherd Blues (Kenny Jacobson/Moe Koffman/Rhoda Roberts) 3:05
7.  West African High Life (Herbie Mann) 2:40
8.  Dream Garden (Dave Pike) 4:37
9.  Soul Montuno (Rene Hernandez) 2:58
10.  Is Paris Burning? (Maurice Jarre) 2:37

Herbie Mann (Flute)
Reggie Workman (Bass) - 1-7,9,10
Carlos "Patato" Valdes (Congas) - 1-7,9,10
Bruno Carr (Drums) - 1-7,9,10
Jimmy Wisner (Piano) - 1-7,9,10
Roy Ayers (Vibraphone) - 1-7,9,10
Jack Six (Bass) - 8
Bobby Thomas (Drums) - 8
Attila Zoller (Guitar) - 8
Don Friedman (Piano) - 8
King Curtis (Tenor Saxophone) - 4
Clark Terry (Trumpet) - 7

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Barb Jungr - Waterloo Sunset

With her previous three albums, Barb Jungr had already proved herself one of Britain's most engrossing cabaret singers and one of the most adroit song interpreters in modern vocal pop, and Waterloo Sunset does nothing to alter or diminish that assessment. It does feel like a small step backward in terms of content after the all-Bob Dylan program of Every Grain of Sand, but it is certainly not a step down in quality and intelligence of performance. In fact, it is a return to the interpretive eclecticism of Bare, with its dramatic overhauls of pop tunes (in effect, similar to her contemporary Cassandra Wilson, if not in style) by the Everly Brothers, Leon Russell, and Richard Thompson (a masterful, almost art song "The Great Valerio"), among others, intermingled with a few of Jungr's own delightful originals. It might even be thought of as a dressed-up version of that album, nowhere more evident than in the Ray Davies-penned title tune. The stripped-down take from Bare is damaged, lonely, movingly reflective; the reimagined version of "Waterloo Sunset" is wistful, sure, but also bluesy, impregnable, rounding the corner toward sanguinity. That this Brit Invasion song sounds perfectly fluent and fluid coming after the Tin Pan Alley jazz chestnut "Laugh Clowns Laugh" says much about the caliber of the writing, of course, but also about how Jungr is able to locate and explore the je ne sais quoi of a composition, what is both ageless and new, unknown, what connects even as it perplexes. The album sustains this inquisitive mood, plowing into emotions that lurk beneath façades, like the enigmatic clowns and jesters that dance through the lyrics, and finally bubbling over on the marvelous concluding rehabilitation of Steve Miller's "The Joker," in which a crass come-on is transformed into an effusive flirtation. It's something to behold. Jungr had not quite gotten Mr. Zimmerman out of her blood either, so fans of Every Grain of Sand have a couple more Dylan treats in store with versions of the classic "Like a Rolling Stone" and the more recent Love and Theft track "High Water (For Charley Patton)." Calum Malcolm again produces beautifully, employing a carnival of colors and textures; the entirely new backing band is crackerjack throughout, breezing through music hall, cocktail jazz, bossa nova, and Western swing with the equal panache. - by Stanton Swihart, AMG

Artist: Barb Jungr
Album: Waterloo Sunset
Year: 2003
Label: Linn Records
Runtime: 54:37

1.  Do You Play Guitar? (Barb Jungr/Adrian York) 3:53
2.  High Water for Charlie Patton (Bob Dylan) 5:49
3.  Cathy's Clown (Everly Brothers) 3:35
4.  This Masquerade (Leon Russell) 5:09
5.  The Great Valerio (Richard Thompson) 3:49
6.  When Do The Bells Ring For Me? (Charles De Forest) 2:54
7.  Written in the Dark Again (Christine Collister/Barb Jungr) 5:26
8.  Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan) 6:03
9.  Lipstick Lips Lament (Russell Churney/Barb Jungr) 4:22
10.  Laugh Clown Laugh (Fiorito/Sam M. Lewis/Joe Young) 3:30
11.  Waterloo Sunset (Ray Davies) 4:32
12.  The Joker (Ahmet Ertegun/Eddie Curtis/Steve Miller) 5:35

Barb Jungr (Vocals)
Geoff Gascogne (Double Bass)
Nic France (Drums)
Matt Backer (Guitar)
Adrian York (Piano)
Stuart Hall (Violin) - 5

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lonnie Johnson - Another Night To Cry

Lonnie Johnson, a talented vocalist and guitarist who chose to spend much of his life playing blues (although in the 1920s he recorded with some of the top jazz stars), had his fifth recording for Prestige/Bluesville (a solo set) reissued on this CD. "Blues After Hours" is an instrumental that shows off his jazz roots and many of the 11 songs (all of which are Johnson originals) have spots for his guitar. Since there is only around 34 minutes on this set (which could have been combined on one CD with the music from another LP) and none of the individual songs even reach four minutes, this is not one of the more essential Lonnie Johnson releases but it does have its strong moments.- by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Lonnie Johnson
Album: Another Night to Cry
Year: 1962 (Bluesville)
Label: OBC (1992)
Runtime: 34:45

1.  Another Night To Cry 3:19
2.  I Got News For You, Baby 3:15
3.  Blues After Hours 3:27
4.  You Didn't Mean What You Said 3:46
5.  Fine Booze And Heavy Dues 3:05
6.  I've Got To Get Rid Of You 2:37
7.  Bow Legged Baby 2:46
8.  Make Love To Me, Baby 2:54
9.  Lots Of Loving 2:47
10.  A Story About Barbara 3:18
11.  Goodbye Kitten 3:26
All songs by Lonnie Johnson

Lonnie Johnson (Vocals, Guitar)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Keith Jarrett Trio - Bye Bye Blackbird

This is the Keith Jarrett Trio's -- featuring bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette -- elegy for their former employer Miles Davis, recorded only 13 days after the maestro's death. The lonely figure in shadow with a horn on the cover contrasts with the joyous spirit of many of the tracks on this CD, yet there is still a ghostly presence to deal with -- and in keeping with Miles' credo, Jarrett's choice of notes is often more purposefully spare than usual. There is symmetry in the organization of the album, with "Bye Bye Blackbird" opening and the trio's equally jaunty "Blackbird, Bye Bye" closing the album, and the interior tracks immediately following the former and preceding the latter are "You Won't Forget Me" and "I Thought About You." The centerpiece of the CD is an 18-and-a-half-minute group improvisation, "For Miles," which after some DeJohnette tumbling around becomes a dirge sometimes reminiscent of Miles' own elegy for Duke Ellington, "He Loved Him Madly." As an immediate response to a traumatic event, Jarrett and his colleagues strike the right emotional balance to create one of their more meaningful albums. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Keith Jarrett Trio
album: Bye Bye Blackbird
Year: 1991
Label: ECM (1993)
Runtime: 67:32

1.  Bye Bye Blackbird (Ray Henderson) 11:11
2.  You Won't Forget Me (Kermit Goell/Fred Spielman) 10:42
3.  Butch And Butch (Oliver Nelson) 6:37
4.  Summer Night (Al Dubin/Harry Warren) 6:38
5.  For Miles (Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnnette) 18:39
6.  Straight No Caser (Thelonious Monk) 6:44
7.  I Thought About You (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Mercer) 4:01
8.  Blackbird, Bye Bye (Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnnette) 3:00

Keith Jarrett (Piano)
Gary Peacock (Bass)
Jack DeJohnette (Drums)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Paul James & Mark Hawkins - Horse

Paul James, the unforgettable former leader of the historic English band Blowzabella, is a very skilled wind-instrument player and composer and has worked with more artists and bands, such as Scarp and Ancient Beatbox. In recent years James has worked together with keyboard player and composer Mark Hawkins, dealing with soundtracks for documentaries and TV programmes. Their début CD is an effective blend of acoustic and electronic sounds. -

English musicians James and Hawkins put together a pastiche of dance, ambient, jazz, Celtic, Indian, Middle Eastern, and other flavors in this fine release. Cross-cultural experiments so often either fall flat or end up a tangled mess of limbs on the floor. (As a friend and excellent musician once put it, you can have the finest olives and the finest chocolate, but chocolate-covered olives are pretty rank.) Here the cultures manage to coexist without stepping on each other's toes. Saz and sax, bagpipes and bouzouki, keyboards and konnakol all dovetail into each other quite smoothly, thank you. Of course James and Hawkins have some big guns helping them out, such as Sheila Chandra, Nigel Eaton, and Eleanor Stanley. Several of the tracks here will do for Celtic and Indian music what Moby did for blues and gospel on Play. "Grownover" is a tender yet moody piece with fluttering Macedonian flute, delicately ringing guitar and well-placed loops. "The Four Points" is a pure Irish jig, with whistle and Phil Cunningham- inspired accordion, yet the presence of saz and the subtle layers of programming turn it into something more. Sheila Chandra's konnakol on several of the tracks is nothing short of breathtaking. Eleanor Stanley's contributions are among the most startling, in part because they are so structurally simple after so much layering. The traditional song "Beidh Aonach Amárach" has little to adorn it but a mysterious little drone break in the middle, adding an ominous touch to an otherwise spry little number. Her take on "Blacksmith" is windblown and eerie, sung over whistle and electronic drones. The longest track on the CD, it segues into a sharp Middle Eastern groove backed by industrial beats, before ending on a dime. "Voodoo that u doo" sounds like what would happen if an old-time string band was caught in a time and space warp. Horse is nothing if not quirkily varied, but all in all a rewarding listen. - by Peggy Latkovich,

Artist: Paul James & Mark Hawkins
Album: Horse
Year: 2001
Label: Folkclub Ethnosuoni
Runtime: 58:20

1.  Horse (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 6:49
2.  Fat Earth (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 5:26
3.  The Four Points (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 5:13
4.  Hillfigures (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 7:36
5.  Grownover (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 4:26
6.  Beidh Aonach Amárach (Traditional) 2:23
7.  Biniou (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 4:47
8.  Cornhead (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 5:00
9.  Blacksmith (Traditional) 9:17
10.  Voodoo that u doo (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 3:47
11.  Horse (radio edit) (Paul James/Mark Hawkins) 3:36

Paul James (Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Snare Drum, Flute, Whistle, Drones, Organ, Bagpipes)
Mark Hawkins (Keyboards, Piano, Guitar, Programming, Drones)
Victor Nicholls (Bass Guitar, Electronics, Loops) - 1,2,4,5,8-11
Nigel Eaton (Hurdy-Gurdy) - 1,3,5,7-9,11
Kenny Stone (Drums) - 1-4,7,8,11
Luke Daniels (Accordion) - 1,3,7,10,11
Carlos Beceiro (Saz, Cumbus, Bouzouki) - 1,3,7,11
Sheila Chandra (Konnakol) - 1,5,7,11
James Carter (Guitar) - 3,4,8
Eleanor Shanley (Vocals) - 6,9


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