Sunday, January 31, 2016

Yusef Lateef - Cry! - Tender

In 1959, Yusef Lateef began using the oboe in his recording sessions and on live dates. This album marks that occasion, and is thus a turning point in an amazingly long and varied career. Accompanied by Lonnie Hillyer on trumpet, Hugh Lawson on piano, bassist Herman Wright, and drummer Frank Gant, Lateef was digging deeply into a new lyricism that was Eastern-tinged (the full flavor of that obsession would be issued two years later on Eastern Sounds and had been touched upon two years earlier on Other Sounds, released on New Jazz, where Lateef had used an argol as well as his sax and flute), modally informed, and distinctly light in texture -- with the exception of the deep, dark, arco work at the beginning of "Dopolous," by Wright. Lateef was already moving away from what most people would call jazz by this time, yet, as evidenced here, his music remained challenging and very accessible. This is meditative music with a stunningly rich rhythmic palette for how muted and edgeless it is. And, like John Cage or Morton Feldman, the absence of those edges was written in; it's not random. On tunes like the aforementioned, "Butter's Blues," or even "If You Could See Me Now," Lateef could take the blues and move it into shadowy territory, pulling out of the intervals and changes certain harmonic concepts to turn the music back on itself. If restraint got practiced in the dynamic range, the drama in the music would be all the greater because of the wider harmonic palette -- because it could be heard, not just felt. The result is a seamless, velvety, yet poignant take on the blues that echoed the tears referenced in the title of the album. And yet, the beauty, such a tender beauty, was so unspeakably fragile that the brass and reed instruments seemed to hover over the rhythm section and cut holes in the air like fine razors that can only be praised for the fineness of their slash. This was the beginning of Lateef's change in direction and, as a result, it deserves to be noted for that. However, it needs to be doubly noted for its truly magnificent sound, texture, playing, composition, and choice of tunes. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Yusef Lateef
Album: Cry!- Tender
Year: 1959 (New Jazz)
Label: OJC (1990)
Runtime: 37:12

1.  Sea Breeze (Al Hoffman/Dick Manning) 3:11
2.  Dopolous (Yusef Lateef) 3:18
3.  Cry!-Tender (Yusef Lateef) 6:00
4.  Butter's Blues (Yusef Lateef) 5:45
5.  Yesterdays (Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach) 4:24
6.  The Snow Is Green (Yusef Lateef) 3:13
7.  If You Could See Me Now (Tadd Dameron/Carl Sigman) 4:49
8.  Ecaps (Yusef Lateef) 6:30

Yusef Lateef (Tenor Saxophone, Flute and Oboe)
Lonnie Hillyer (Trumpet) - 1-7
Hugh Lawson (Piano) - 1-7
Herman Wright (Double Bass) - 1-7
Frank Gant (Drums) - 1-7
Wilbur Harden (Flugelhorn) - 8
Ernie Farrow (Double Bass) - 8
Oliver Jackson (Drums) - 8

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Michel Legrand & Natalie Dessay - Entre elle et lui

Two icons of French song – Natalie Dessay and Michel Legrand – follow the huge worldwide success of their album Entre Elle et Lui with a DVD of the very special concert on the 11th June 2014 at the Orangerie of the Château de Versailles. This is a unique collaboration from two giants of French music. The CD release in 2013 was hotly anticipated and received great critical acclaim upon its release. Natalie Dessay brings her lyrical voice and fresh interpretations to a selection of some of Michel Legrand’s best-loved songs including 'La Valse des Lilas', 'Les moulins de mon cour' (Windmills of Your Mind), 'Duo de Guy et Genevieve', 'Papa Can You Hear Me' and many more. -

Artist: Michel Legran & Natalie Dessay
Album: Entre Elle et Lui
Year: 2013
Label: Erato
Runtime: 65:30

1.  Chanson de Delphine 3:23
2.  Le cinema 3:06
3.  Chanson de Delphine a Lancien 2:18
4.  Papa Can You Hear Me? 4:31
5.  Recette pour un cake d'amour 2:39
6.  La valse des lilas 4:09
7.  Les Moulins de mon cour 3:06
8.  L'ame soeour a l'hamecon 1:57
9.  What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life? 7:51
10.  Chanson des jumelles 3:25
11.  Le rouge et le noir 3:24
12.  Conseils de la fee des lilas 2:02
13.  Duo de Guy et Genevieve 6:14
14.  La chanson de Louba 3:04
15.  La chanson 2:02
16.  Paris Violon 2:55
17.  The Summer Knows 5:04
18.  Mon dernier concert 4:13
All songs written by Michel Legrand

Natalie Dessay (Vocals)
Michel Legrand (Piano, Vocals)
Pierre Boussaguet (Double Bass)
Francois Laizeau (Drums)
Patricia Petibon (Vocals) - 10
Laurent Naouri (Vocals) - 13
Catherine Michel (Harp) - 18

Monday, January 18, 2016

Nina Simone - In Concert

This is probably the most personal album that Simone issued during her stay on Philips in the mid-'60s. On most of her studio sessions, she worked with orchestration that either enhanced her material tastefully or smothered her, and she tackled an astonishingly wide range of material that, while admirably eclectic, made for uneven listening. Here, the singer and pianist is backed by a spare, jazzy quartet, and some of the songs rank among her most socially conscious declarations of African-American pride: "Old Jim Crow," "Pirate Jenny," "Go Limp," and, especially, "Mississippi Goddam" were some of the most forthright musical reflections of the Civil Rights movement to be found at the time. In a more traditional vein, she also reprises her hit "I Loves You, Porgy" and the jazz ballad "Don't Smoke in Bed." - by Richie Unterberger, AMG

The piano and vocalist virtuoso at the top of her artistic expression. Her version of the Pirate Jenny soliloque from the Three Penny Opera is chilling. Her "Plain Gold Ring" brought me to tears with the inherent sadness of the portrayal of love lost and put aside. Nina Simone is another artist gone too soon. - by Rodney Brown,

Artist: Nina Simone
Album: Nina Simone in Concert
Year: 1964 (Philips, Recorded at the Carnegie Hall, New York City)
Label: Universal (2006)
Runtime: 35:30

1.  I Loves You, Porgy (Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin/Dubose Heyward) 2:32
2.  Plain Gold Ring (George Stone) 6:20
3.  Pirate Jenny (Marc Blitzstein/Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill) 6:37
4.  Old Jim Crow (Jackie Alper/Nina Simone/Ron Vander Groef) 2:40
5.  Don't Smoke in Bed (Willard Robison) 5:27
6.  Go Limp (Alex Comfort/Nina Simone) 7:01
7.  Mississippi Goddam (Nina Simone) 4:53

Nina Simone (Vocals, Piano)
Rudy Stevenson (Guitar)
Lisle Atkinson (Double Bass)
Bobby Hamilton (Drums)


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