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. - Albumtrad.com

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, Rootsworld.com

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

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ahmad Jamal - Ahmad's Blues

This CD reissues most of the music recorded on one night by the 1958 Ahmad Jamal Trio (which consisted of the pianist/leader, bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier) during a live performance in Washington D.C. Originally released as the LP Ahmad Jamal plus part of Portfolio of Ahmad Jamal, these 16 selections display the uniqueness and tightness of this memorable unit. With great attention paid to dynamics and the use of space yet always swinging (at least lightly), the Ahmad Jamal Trio is heard at its best on such numbers as "It Could Happen to You," "Stompin' at the Savoy," "Squatly Roo," "A Gal in Calico" and "Let's Fall in Love." - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Ahmad Jamal is a seminal name in the hallowed annals of jazz piano artistry, and being a big fan of the jazz piano trio, I knew I had to check some out. I read in Fred Hersch's liner notes to Bill Evans' _Trio '64_ that his other favorite trio is this particular one, with bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier, so this seemed like a must-hear. That it is. You can see why Miles Davis dug this guy. Jamal just digs into the *groove* of a tune, playing with it, vamping on it, leaving space for his bandmates to inhabit it, and apparently all the while having a rollicking good time. The playing of this trio throughout this 1958 live performance is absolutely distinctive, and that's a bit part of what makes it such compelling listening. There's the signature tune "Ahmad's Blues", which even if you haven't heard it before, you'll think you have. It's that basic, and yet Jamal didn't pull it off some "standards" list. Then there's the standard-of-standards "Autumn Leaves", but what this trio does with it is amazingly creative. You just have to hear it. And who else would start out "Stompin' at the Savoy" with a quote of "La Marsellaise"?? And these are just examples. It's all that good. Don't miss out. - by Micah Newman, Amazon.com

Artist: Ahmad Jamal Trio
Album: Ahmad's Blues (Live at the Spotlite Club, Washington D.C.)
Year: 1958
Label: GRP (1994)
Runtime: 65:09

1.  Ahmad's Blues (Ahmad Jamal) 4:06
2.  It Could Happen To You (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen) 4:15
3.  I Wish I Knew (Mack Gordon/Harry Warren) 3:45
4.  Autumn Leaves (Jacques Prevert/Johnny Mercer/Joseph Kosma) 7:40
5.  Stompin' At The Savoy (Benny Goodman/Chick Webb/Edgar Sampson) 4:15
6.  Cheek To Cheek (Irving Berlin) 4:47
7.  The Girl Next Door (Ralph Blane/Hugh Martin) 3:26
8.  Secret Love (Paul Francis Webster/Sammy Fain) 3:51
9.  Squatty Roo (Johnny Hodges) 2:18
10.  Taboo (S.K. Russel/Margarita Lecuona) 4:01
11.  Autumn In New York (Vernon Duke) 3:18
12.  A Gal In Calico (Leo Robin/Arthur Schwartz) 4:44
13.  That's All (Allen Brandt/Bob Haynes) 2:38
14.  Should I? (Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown) 3:39
15.  Seleritus (Ahmad Jamal) 3:12
16.  Let's Fall In Love (Ted Koehler/Harold Arlen) 5:06

Ahmad Jamal (Piano)
Israel Crosby (Double Bass)
Vernel Fournier (Drums)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sharon Isbin - Journey to the Amazon

Journey to the Amazon is a fascinating collaboration between classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, saxophonist Paul Winter and percussionist/composer Thiago de Mello. The three musicians explore South American, particularly Brazilian, rhythms and songs, devising a mesmerizing fusion of worldbeat, jazz and classical. While this certainly isn't music for purists, it's adventurous and evocative, and it often fulfills its grand ambitions. - by Leo Stanley, AMG

This recording was one of my early exposures to Sharon Isbin on CD. I had the pleasure of experiencing her live performance prior to the purchase of this CD. As a fan of heavier guitar music, (i.e. Steve Vai and Eric Johnson), I never believed I would enjoy a classical guitarist. I was so completely moved by the performance Ms. Isbin gives on this CD, that I promptly purchased "Dreams of a World" and most recently "Baroque Favorites for Guitar". I highly recommend this CD if you want to hear a guitarist whose work defies traditional categorization. I give it 10 stars! Please try to see Ms. Isbin live in recital if she comes to your area; you will experience a remarkable performance. - by Guitar Guru, Amazon.com

Artist: Sharon Isbin
Album: Journey to the Amazon
Year: 1997
Label: Teldec
Runtime: 53:49

1.  Historia Do Luar (Laurindo Almeida) 2:09
2.  Seis Por Derecho (Antonio Lauro) 3:32
3.  Waltz, No.4 (Agustín Barrios-Mangoré) 3:58
4.  A Hug For Pixingha (Thiago de Mello) 3:52
5.  Chants For The Chief (Thiago de Mello) 5:28
6.  Julia Florida (Agustín Barrios-Mangoré) 4:25
7.  El Marabino (Antonio Lauro) 1:27
8.  Waltz, No.3 (Antonio Lauro) 2:22
9.  Porro (Gentil Montana) 2:16
10.  Batucada (Isaias Savio) 2:38
11.  Lago De Janauacá (Thiago de Mello) 2:47
12.  Chants For The Chief, No.1 (Thiago de Mello) 5:17
13.  Canción De Cuna (Leo Brouwer/Eliseo Grenet) 3:42
14.  Aire De Joropo (Benito Canonico) 1:26
15.  Cochichandro (Alfredo Vianna) 2:43
16.  Choro Alegre (Thiago de Mello) 1:42
17.  Cavaleiro Sem Armadura (Thiago de Mello) 4:05

Sharon Isbin (Guitar)
Thiago De Mello (Percussion) - 1,2,4,5,8-10,12-17
Paul Winter (Soprano Saxophone) - 5,12,17


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