Sunday, October 15, 2017

Frank Wess - Seven Classic Albums - III

After Hours:
A leaderless sextet jams on four of pianist Mal Waldron's originals. The performances range from eight to 12 minutes apiece. The all-star lineup -- trumpeter Thad Jones, Frank Wess on tenor and flute, guitarist Kenny Burrell, Waldron, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Taylor -- is in fine form on the straight-ahead material. Bop fans will want to pick this up. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Wheelin' and Dealin':
This two-fer from the excellent Prestige series of two-LP sets features Coltrane at a pair of jam-session-type settings in 1957. He is heard along with fellow tenor Paul Quinichette and Frank Wess on flute and tenor on two long versions apiece of "Wheelin'" and "Dealin" in addition to a fine rendition of "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" and a 15-minute version of "Robbins' Nest." In addition, there are two numbers from a sextet session with trumpeter Bill Hardman and altoist Jackie McLean. Overall the music is not all that essential (since there are so many other Coltrane recordings available) but is quite enjoyable on its own terms and worth picking up. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Recorded days after the wonderful Blue Train album, this session brought together an unusual cast of players. John Coltrane, Paul Quinichette and Frank Wess on tenor saxophone (with Wess doubling on flute), Mal Waldron running the show on piano, Doug Watkins on bass and Art Taylor on drums. Probably the most interesting material on this album is the take of Waldron's "Wheelin'", a fast romp which provides a battleground for a three-way tenor tussle. Waldron takes an extended solo in his Monk-like awkward but bluesy style, which either does it for you or doesn't. It's a shame this was released under Coltrane's/Wess' name since it's really Mal Waldron's set and material and probably not in the taste of most Trane lovers, but still worth checking out. - Amazon.com

Artist: Frank Wess
Album: Seven Classic Albums (Disc 3)
Year: 1957-58 (Prestige Records)
Label: Real Gone Jazz (Digitally Remastered, 2013)
Runtime: 65:13

Tracks:
After Hours:
Count One (Mal Waldron) 7:53
Empty Street (Mal Waldron) 12:38
Wheelin and Dealin':
3.  Things Ain't What They Used to Be (Mercer Ellington / Ted Persons) 8:25
4.  Wheelin' (Mal Waldron) 11:22
5.  Robbin's Nest (Illinois Jacquet / Bob Russell / Sir Charles Thompson) 15:30
6.  Dealin' (Mal Waldron) 10:13

Personnel:
Frank Wess (Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Alto Saxophone)
Mal Waldron (Piano)
Art Taylor (Drums)
John Coltrane (Tenor Saxophone) 3-6
Paul Quinichette (Tenor Saxophone) 3-6
Doug Watkins (Double Bass) 3-6
Kenny Burrell (Guitar) 1-2
Thad Jones (Trumpet) - 1-2
Paul Chambers (Double Bass) 1-2

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Frank Wess - Seven Classic Albums II.

Monday Stroll:
Although the original LP was reissued under guitarist Kenny Burrell's name, it was originally led by Frank Wess, who is heard doubling on flute and tenor. With the assistance of Burrell, rhythm guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Eddie Jones and either Kenny Clarke or Gus Johnson on drums, Wess is in excellent form on a set very reminiscent (not too surprisingly considering the personnel) of the Count Basie band. Wess contributed four of the songs, Burrell brought in "Southern Exposure" and the quintet also plays "Over the Rainbow" and the obscure "Woolafunt's Lament." This is a fine straightahead date, with Wess's flute taking solo honors. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Just as Kenny Burrell began his highly prolific career recording for Blue Note and the Prestige label in 1957, he managed to put out this successful and basic model of light, gentle swinging as he teamed up with multi reeds virtuoso Frank Wess to create this special, breezy stroke of camaraderie. What would become his only solo album for the Savoy label, Monday Stroll would highly showcase a nice blend of flute and guitar artistry backed with a rhythm section providing the chirpy support that made it a refreshing success as the quintet play with fluidity where Wess doubles on flute and the occasional tenor saxophone while master drummer Kenny Clarke and a local Detroit bassist gradually sits in rather well in unique style. Featuring mostly great original compositions penned by Wess and Burrell, the music gets off on a straight “up” tone on the title track as it proceeds with merriment on other extended numbers like Wess’ relaxed ballad East Wind, West Side, Southern Exposure, the standard classic Over The Rainbow, as well as the final track Kansas City Style. Although Monday Stroll was released under Burrell’s name, it was headed by Wess for whom he got equal billing—he would even play tenor saxophone on Woolafunt’s Holiday, where Burrell demonstrates the mutually intuitive responsiveness that he and Wess had). Also added to the chemistry are guitarist Freddie Green on rhythm guitar and fellow session drummer is featured on two tracks, as this band bring us the mellow magic that made an instant success, which will maintain it’s high point with unforgettable results. - by RH, Amazon.com

After Hours:
A leaderless sextet jams on four of pianist Mal Waldron's originals. The performances range from eight to 12 minutes apiece. The all-star lineup -- trumpeter Thad Jones, Frank Wess on tenor and flute, guitarist Kenny Burrell, Waldron, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Taylor -- is in fine form on the straight-ahead material. Bop fans will want to pick this up. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Frank Wess
Album: Seven Classic Albums (Disc 2)
Year: 1956-1957 (Savoy Records, Prestige Records)
Label: Real Gone Jazz (Digitally Remastered, 2013)
Runtime: 63:57

Tracks:
Monday Stroll (1957)
1.  Monday Stroll (Frank Wess) 4:22
2.  East Wind (Kenny Burrell) 5:14
3.  Wess Side (Frank Wess) 5:02
4.  Southern Exposure (Kenny Burrell) 6:50
5.  Woolafunts Lament (Frank Wess) 7:06
6.  Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen / E.Y. "Yip" Harburg) 6:01
7.  Kansas City Life (Frank Wess) 8:31
After Hours (1957)
1.  Steamin' (Mal Waldron) 9:28
2.  Blue Jelly (Mal Waldron) 11:26

Personnel:
Frank Wess (Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Flute)
Kenny Burrell (Guitar)
Eddie Jones (Double Bass) - 1-7
Freddie Green (Rhythm Guitar) - 1-7
Gus Johnson (Drums) - 1,5
Kenny Clarke (Drums) - 2-4,6,7
Mal Waldron (Piano) - 8-9
Thad Jones (Trumpet) - 8-9
Paul Chambers (Double Bass) - 8-9
Art Taylor (Drums) - 8-9

Monday, September 11, 2017

Frank Wess - Seven Classic Albums I.

Jazz for Playboys:
This CD reissue has three songs apiece from two similar sessions. One half of the set features Frank Wess (doubling on flute and tenor) accompanied by both Kenny Burrell and Freddy Green on guitars, bassist Eddie Jones and drummer Gus Johnson; the other three titles add trumpeter Joe Newman and have Ed Thigpen in Johnson's place. The music is essentially cool-toned swing/bop very much in a Count Basie vein and is easily recommended to straightahead jazz fans despite the so-so packaging and LP-length playing time.- by Scott Yanow, AMG

Trombones & Flute:
One of my favorite small-group jazz albums of the mid-1950s is Frank Wess's Trombones & Flute. The album, recorded for Savoy in July 1956, paired Wess on flute with four trombonists—Jimmy Cleveland, Henry Coker, Benny Powell and Bill Hughes. They were backed by Ronnell Bright (p), Freddie Green (g), Eddie Jones (b) and Kenny Clarke (d). The swinging, lyrical arrangements were by Frank Foster.At the time, Wess, Foster, Coker, Powell, Hughes, Green and Jones were all members of Count Basie's New Testament band while Ronnell Bright would periodically sub for Basie into the 1980s. In 1956, to hold his band together at the dawn of the 12-inch LP era, Basie let his musicians make extra money recording as leaders during the band's down time. What we hear on this album is Foster setting Wess aloft on flute while unrolling a thick rubbery trombone cushion underneath. In effect, these are Basie arrangements in miniature. Two of the songs are Foster originals—Lo-Fi and You'll Do—while Wanting You and Don't Blame Me are standards, and Crackerjack is by Coker. The creative album was conceived and produced by Ozzie Cadena (above) and recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Hackensack, N.J., which happened to be his parents' house. Wess was one of the first musicians to play jazz flute, and his sense of swing on the instrument here is intoxicating. The addition of Green was a nice touch, since he not only adds dimensional time-keeping but also a Basie flavor. What's more, we get to hear sensational trombones as a section and as individual soloists.
And Ronnell is flawless as an accompanist and soloist—providing tasteful chords and provocative punctuation. - Jazz.FM

Artist: Frank Wess
Album: Seven Classic Albums (Disc 1)
Year: 1956-1957 (Savoy Records)
Label: Real Gone Jazz (Digitally Remastered, 2013)
Runtime: 67:02

Tracks:
Jazz for Playboys (1957)
1.  Playboy (Ernie Wilkins) 5:27
2.  Miss Blues (Joe Newman) 9:40
3.  Baubles, Bangles and Beads (George Forrest / Robert Wright) 4:16
4.  Low Life (Johnny Mandel) 5:02
5.  Pin Up (Frank Wess) 4:07
6.  Blues For A Playmate (Kenny Burrell) 11:00
Trombones & Flute (1956)
7.  Lo-Fi (Frank Foster) 9:14
8.  Wanting You (Oscar Hammerstein II / Sigmund Romberg) 4:28
9.  Don't Blame Me (Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh) 3:23
10.  Cracker Jack (Henry Coker) 9:59
11.  You'll Do (Frank Foster) 5:23

Personnel:
Frank Wess (Tenor Saxophone, Flute)
Eddie Jones (Double Bass)
Freddie Green (Rhythm Guitar, Guitar)
Kenny Burrell (Guitar) - 1-6
Joe Newman (Trumpet) - 1,2,4
Ed Thigpen (Drums) - 1,2,4
Gus Johnson (Drums) - 3,5,6
Kenny Clarke (Drums) - 7-11
Ronnell Bright (Piano) - 7-11
Benny Powell (Trombone) - 7-11
Bill Hughes (Trombone) - 7-11
Henry Coker (Trombone) - 7-11
Jimmy Cleveland (Trombone) - 7-11

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Lonnie Liston Smith - Cosmic Funk

This one is packed with classic tracks and is probably Smith's best record of them all. He wasn't quite discoed-out yet and he was fresh off of his traditional jazz runnings, so this record hits a very comfortable middle ground for fusion heads as well as those more tuned into smooth jazz. An incredible record that doesn't get anywhere near enough props as it should for helping define the fusion movement of the early 70s. - by Scott Woods, Amazon.com

As Dean Rudland points out in Ace's 2014 reissue of Lonnie Liston Smith's 1974 set Cosmic Funk, Smith himself views this LP as a transitional effort, capturing him between his pioneering work with Miles Davis' electric group and the exploratory Expansions. This suggests it perhaps isn't a cohesive album and, true enough, it's a record where the good ideas are sometimes suggested rather than developed. Much of the record showcases the smooth vocal stylings of Smith's brother Donald, who leads on a vocal version of John Coltrane's "Naima," lends a bit of a supper club vibe to "Beautiful Woman," croons through "Peaceful Ones," and dives into the thick, overlapping grooves of the title track. That opening song is one of the few tracks that emphasizes funk, otherwise the cosmic reigns, as the group usually getting spacy all the while never quite leaving the earth. Although the group is quite lively on a relatively straight-ahead reading of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," the album is distinguished by the spaces that lie between funk and bop, the periods where Smith and company start to float, then pull themselves back. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

Artist: Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes
Album: Cosmic Funk
Year: 1974 (Flying Dutchman Records)
Label: RCA Viktor (1993)
Runtime: 36:09
Recorded at the RCA Recording Studios, New York in April, 1974.

Tracks:
1.  Cosmic Funk (Lonnie Liston Smith) 5:39
2.  Footprints (Wayne Shorter) 6:11
3.  Beautiful Woman (Lonnie Liston Smith) 6:58
4.  Sais (Egypt) (James Mtume) 8:16
5.  Peaceful Ones (Lonnie Liston Smith) 5:03
6.  Naima (John Coltrane) 4:00

Personnel:
Lonnie Liston Smith (Acoustic and Elelctric Piano, Percussion)
Donald Smith (Vocals, Piano and Flute)
George Barron (Soprano Saxophone, Flute and Percussion)
Al Anderson (Electric Bass)
Lawrence Killian (Congas and Percussion)
Art Gore (Drums)
Doug Hammond (Percussion)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mode Plagal - Mode Plagal II

Ebullient originality and improvisational skill describe the audibly provocative new CD by Greek jazz band, Mode Plagal. "Mode Plagal II" is the long-awaited follow-up to the group's 1995 album "Mode Plagal", on the alternative Ano Kato Records label. Full of inventive touces, this just-out album gives the listener a taste of jazz as seen through the eyes -and ears- of innovative Greek musicians. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mode Plagal: Thodoris Rellos on alto saxophone, Kleon
Antoniou on electric guitar, Antonis Maratos on electric bass, Takis Kanellos on drums and Angelos Polychroniou on percussion. These skilled musicians dared to "jazzify" Greek traditional music (demotika) and the outcome is indeed impressive. Conventional ingredients of the demotika have been enhanced with thick icings of jazz harmonies and distinctive bass lines. They have resourcefully taken a marginalised music and literally given it a new lease of life. And these audacious improvisers don't hide their influences either, instead, they put them on centre stage transforming these blatant borrowings into a newly emerging musical style that has the melodic appeal of fine jazz and the weightier rhythmic line of the Greek demotika tradition. By skillfully manipulating the musical time of a traditional tune from western Macedonia they come up with "Funky Vergina", an attractive example of jazz improv with sax, bass and drum solos intact. The best thing about this CD is that these guys bring conviction to what they do, and the penetrating clarity of their individual performances bears that out. Those who attended last week's performance at the Megaron know that all too well. With a set of personal modes and a radical approach, Mode Plagal have created a style that absorbs tradition, making it an integral part of their music without delivering pale imitations. Particulary delicious is the wonderfully arranges ethnic-tinged "Kalanta" - Christmas carols from Thrace - bolstered by shouting percussion and feather-light saxophone fillings. But if sustained intensity is what you're after, look no further than the stylistically diverse "Pikrodafni (...a blues)" which draws from the Epirot rhythmic heritage. This potent six-minute-plus track, featuring a dynamic sax lead and a driving drum beat, is exhilarating. There's also the more atmospheric "Salona", from Roumeli (continental Greece) where a sonorous sax solo takes the listener to the plains of the region, and the bluesy guitar riffs to Chicago's moody blues joints. What makes this CD, released on Lyra, well worth exploring? It's fresh, well-crafted and finally downright radical. Demotika ill never sound the same after Mode Plagal II. The band has pushed contemporary Greek music into new territories. As for Mode Plagal, keep your eyes and ears open, these guys are probably somewhere in town doing their gig... by Maria Paravantes, Athens News

Artist: Mode Plagal
Album: Mode Plagal II
Year: 1998
Label: Lyra Records
Runtime: 68:15
Recorded in Athens, Greece

Tracks:
1.  Funky Vergina (Traditional/arr. Mode Plagal) 5:48
2.  Miles' Leventikos (Mimis Doutsoulis/Thodoris Rellos) 7:00
3.  The Letter (Thodoris Rellos) 9:31
4.  Carols (Traditional/arr. Mode Plagal) 6:10
5.  Ulysses (Thodoris Rellos/Kleon Antoniou/Antonis Maratos/Takis Kanellos) 1:26
6.  Kalamatianos (Folk Dance/arr. Mode Plagal) 4:31
7.  Pikrodafni (Traditional/arr. Mode Plagal) 6:36
8.  Helios (Traditional/arr. Mode Plagal) 3:52
9.  Cyclops (Thodoris Rellos/Kleon Antoniou/Antonis Maratos/Takis Kanellos) 0:18
10.  Rock Around Eleven (Thodoris Rellos) 3:44
11.  Ivo (Traditional/arr. Mode Plagal) 5:05
12.  Solo Sax (Thodoris Rellos) 2:27
13.  Salona (Traditional/arr. Mode Plagal) 4:15
14.  Solo Drums (Takis Kanellos) 1:06
15.  On Foreign Lands (Traditional/arr. Mode Plagal) 4:42
16.  Blazing Sun (Thodoris Rellos/Kleon Antoniou/Antonis Maratos/Takis Kanellos) 1:44

Personnel:
Thodoris Rellos (Alto Saxophone and Vocals)
Kleon Antoniou (Electric Guitar and Vocals)
Antonis Maratos (Bass Guitar and Vocals)
Takis Kanellos (Drums and Vocals)
Angelos Polychroniou (Congas and Tambourine) - 1-4,7,10,11,15
Maria Aristopoulou (Vocals) - 7
Sophia Papazoglou (Vocals) - 7
Vassilis Hadjinikolaou (Vocals) - 7

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jimmy Smith - Root Down (Jimmy Smith Live!)

Toward the end of his stint with Blue Note, Jimmy Smith's albums became predictable. Moving to Verve in the mid-'60s helped matters considerably, since he started playing with new musicians (most notably nice duets with Wes Montgomery) and new settings, but he never really got loose, as he did on select early Blue Note sessions. Part of the problem was that Smith's soul-jazz was organic and laid-back, relaxed and funky instead of down and dirty. For latter-day listeners, aware of his reputation as the godfather of modern soul-jazz organ (and certainly aware of the Beastie Boys' name drop), that may mean that Smith's actual albums all seem a bit tame and restrained, classy, not funky. That's true of the bulk of Smith's catalog, with the notable exception of Root Down. Not coincidentally, the title track is the song the Beasties sampled on their 1994 song of the same name, since this is one of the only sessions that Smith cut where his playing his raw, vital, and earthy. Recorded live in Los Angeles in February 1972, the album captures a performance Smith gave with a relatively young supporting band who were clearly influenced by modern funk and rock. They push Smith to playing low-down grooves that truly cook: "Sagg Shootin' His Arrow" and "Root Down (And Get It)" are among the hottest tracks he ever cut, especially in the restored full-length versions showcased on the 2000 Verve By Request reissue. There are times where the pace slows, but the tension never sags, and the result is one of the finest, most exciting records in Smith's catalog. If you think you know everything about Jimmy Smith, this is the album for you. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

Artist: Jimmy Smith
Album: Root Down (Jommy Smith Live!)
Year: 1972
Label: Verve Records (Remastered, 2000)
Runtime: 67:05
Recorded live at the Bombay Bycicle Club, Los Angeles in February 8, 1972

Tracks:
1.  Sagg Shootin' His Arrow (Jimmy Smith) 11:47
2.  For Everyone Under The Sun (Peter Chase) 5:54
3.  After Hours (Erskine Hawkins / Avery Parrish) 7:46
4.  Root Down (And Get It) (Jimmy Smith) 12:29
5.  Let's Stay Together (Al Green / Al Jackson, Jr. / Willie Mitchell) 6:26
6.  Slow Down Sagg (Jimmy Smith) 10:30
7.  Root Down (And Get It) (Previously Unissued Alternative Version) (Jimmy Smith) 12:13

Personnel:
Jimmy Smith (Organ)
Wilton Felder (Double Bass)
Buck Clarke (Congas, Percussion)
Paul Humphrey (Drums)
Arthur Adams (Guitar)
Steve Williams (Harmonica) - 3

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ben Webster - Ben Webster And Associates

Ben Webster and Associates is a 1959 session that took full advantage of the long-playing LP format. Highlighted by the 20-minute version of Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" in which tenor titans Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Budd Johnson plus trumpeter Roy Eldridge stretch out, not so much in a cutting contest as a laid-back jam session amongst friends. This summit meeting turned out to be a tribute to another tenor master of the same generation, Lester Young, who had died less than four weeks before this session. The chosen rhythm section of Jimmy Jones on piano, Les Spann on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Jo Jones on drums equally matches the performance of the featured horns. Also tackled for this session were three Webster originals: "De-Dar," "Young Bean," and "Budd Johnson" and the standard "Time After Time." Unfortunately no bonus tracks are included (if they even exist) but the excellent sound restoration more than makes up for it. - by Al Campbell, AMG

Artist: Ben Webster
Album: Ben Webster and Associates
Year: 1959
Label: Verve (Master Edition, 24bit remastered, 2000)
Runtime: 44:40
Recorded in New York City, USA 09.04.1959

Tracks:
1.  In A Mellow Tone (Duke Ellington/Milton Gabler) 20:15 
2.  De Dar (Ben Webster) 4:40 
3.  Young Bean (Ben Webster) 6:02 
4.  Time After Time (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) 4:35 
5.  Budd Johnson (Ben Webster) 9:08 

Personnel: 
Ben Webster (Tenor Saxophone) 
Coleman Hawkins (Tenor Saxophone) 
Budd Johnson (Tenor Saxophone) 
Roy Eldridge (Trumpet) 
Les Spann (Guitar) 
Jimmy Jones (Piano) 
Ray Brown (Double Bass) 
Jo Jones (Drums) 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sonny Stitt - In Brasil

You start collecting the albums of an artist, get to fifty or so, and decide, "what the heck, might as well go the whole distance--he can't have made many more." Unfortunately, in Sonny Stitt's case he did. There are times it seems that not a day went by that Sonny didn't agree to cut a record for someone. He was the "Lone Wolf" of jazz as well as the most peripatetic, ubiquitous of all American musicians. Between 1960 and 1980 (and certainly for the 15 years prior to 1960) you could practically take up temporary residence (a couple of months if not less) in any major city, and eventually Sonny would drift into town, two saxophone cases in tow, and maybe a few phone numbers to help him locate the best local musicians available as well as a venue willing to support his major habit--which can be summarized as playing the saxophones--alto and tenor--more "perfectly" than any musician who has lived while simultaneously keeping alive the flame struck by Charlie Parker, in the process demonstrating what "swing" was all about and spreading the gospel of the Great American Songbook (he was practically the instrumental equivalent of a Bing, Ella, or Sinatra). I'd never heard of this record or of the Zimbo Trio, but it doesn't surprise me all that much that during the last 2-3 years of his life he should find his way to Brazil and leave behind a record of the experience. Looking on the internet, I find the Zimbo Trio has impressive credits, at least in Brazil--first recording in 1965 and continuing to represent a standard of excellence in the performance of both Brazilian music and American jazz. Chances are you will learn none of this from the album--all of the liner notes, apparently in the form of testimonials written by the musicians on the date, are in Spanish. But there are some photos of Sonny in the control room--looking in better spirits than I've ever seen him--that may be the best thing about the album. He's having a blast, and the musicians are obviously thrilled and fully aware of the significance of the moment. As for the music, it's not as bad as some Stitt recordings, bootleg and otherwise, that I've quickly had to put out of their misery. But if you've heard a lot of Sonny already, you know pretty much what to expect. Just be assured that he's fully on his game--the intonation, the embouchure, the mind and fingers, the mastery of both horns--it's all working fine, quite worthy of Stitt and his legacy among those privileged to know it. The rest of it isn't quite up to that level, though the quality of the supporting musicians and of the audio reproduction itself is no doubt professional enough to satisfy most listeners. True to so many recordings of the 1970s the bass is over-miked and (ugh) electric (or sounding like it), and the bassist tends to sound like he's running away with his own walking lines rather than locking in "tight and right" with the drummer's high hat. As a result, it's hard for the listener to feel the same groove that the musicians themselves obviously were experiencing during the recording. The pianist has chops and swings, and the drummer sounds like he'd work well with a Sam Jones or Ray Brown (what a difference that would make). Like too many of those CTI-type recording sessions of the '70s, this one is "over-engineered" to the detriment of the sound of Sonny's rich, true, uncluttered tone. He sounds unnecessarily pinched and "distant" on the date, as though he's wearing headphones and has been placed in a separate room from the rhythm section (which may well be the case). But most importantly, the tones of the alto and tenor, while unmistakably Sonny Stitt (he really comes to life on Bird's "Little Suede Shoes"), don't do justice by the way he "really" sounded (I heard him in person at least twenty-five times). The pity's all the more if only because Sonny, and for that matter the musicians on the date, are all playing well. In sum, this one is a keeper, but you'd best EQ it, rolling back on the low frequencies and providing some boost to the mid-frequencies covering Sonny's alto and tenor saxophones. Either that or retitle the date: "Bass in the Foreground." - by Samuel C., Amazon.com

Artist: Sonny Stitt & Zimbo Trio
Album: In Brasil
Year: 1979 (Clam Records)
Label: Fresh Sound Records (1991)
Runtime: 41:03

Tracks:
1.  Hope's Blues (Sonny Stitt) 4:41
2.  Corcovado (Quiet Nights) (Antonio Carlos Jobim) 5:17
3.  There Will Never Be Another You (Mack Gordon / Harry Warren) 5:10
4.  Little Suede Shoes (Charlie Parker) 5:25
5.  Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma / Johnny Mercer / Jacques Prévert) 6:00
6.  Samba Do Orfeu (Luiz Bonfa / Antonio Maria) 5:20
7.  Blues For Gaby (Sonny Stitt) 6:22
8.  Assim Está Certo (Amilton Godoy) 2:48

Personnel:
Sonny Stitt (Alto Saxophone)
Amilton Godoy (Piano)
Luiz Chaves (Bass)
Rubens Barsotti (Drums)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Coleman Hawkins - Soul

This is a decent but not very exciting outing. Then 52, Hawkins uses a typically young rhythm section (including guitarist Kenny Burrell and pianist Ray Bryant) and plays melodically on a variety of originals and standards. This insipid version of "Greensleeves" is difficult to sit through but the rest of this CD is enjoyable if not overly inspiring. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Coleman Hawkins may not have been the Godfather of "Soul" but he certainly was the Godfather of the Jazz Saxophone. After kick starting his second career with "The Hawk Flies High" and "The Genius of Coleman Hawkins" in 1957, Hawk recorded the first of several successful sessions for the Prestige label on November 7, 1958, and the album was called "Soul." That session featured the talents of a young Kenny Burrell on guitar, Ray Bryant on piano, Wendell Marshall on bass and Osie Johnson on drums. The group smoothly glides through three standards (including the traditional
"Greensleeves"), two Burrell originals ("Groovin'" and "Sunday Mornin'") and two Hawkins originals ("Soul Blues" and Sweetnin'"). "Soul" probably only deserves 4 1/2 stars, as it is not quite as masterful as "The Hawk Flies High," but I have no problem rounding up to five stars. In fact, all of Hawk's half-dozen OJC discs are well worth purchasing. - by Michael Brad Richman, Amazon.com

Artist: Coleman Hawkins
Album: Soul
Year: 1958 (Prestige Records)
Label: OJC (1984)
Runtime: 41:21
Recorded at the Rudy Van Gelder Recording Studios, Hackensack, New Jersey, November 7, 1958

Tracks:
1.  Soul Blues (Coleman Hawkins) 9:52
2.  I Hadn't Anyone Till You (Ray Noble) 4:34
3.  Groovin' (Kenny Burrell) 5:43
4.  Greensleeves (Traditional) 3:12
5.  Sunday Mornin' (Kenny Burrell) 6:29
6.  Until the Real Thing Comes Along (Sammy Cahn/Saul Chaplin/L.E. Freeman/Mann Holiner/Alberta Nichols)  4:42
7.  Sweetnin' (Coleman Hawkins) 6:49

Personnel:
Coleman Hawkins (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Burrell (Guitar)
Ray Bryant (Piano)
Wendell Marshall (Double Bass)

Osie Johnson (Drums)

Friday, June 30, 2017

United Future Organization - No Sounds Is Too Taboo

Featured on 1994's Red Hot and Cool compilation, the Japanese production trio UFO heads a loose collective of musicians and vocalists present here. Jazz, R&B, trip-hop, Spanish, Caribbean, and Brazilian rhythms all appear in one form or another; surprisingly, these disparate elements flow well through the course of ten songs. - by John Bush, AMG

UFO's creatively bizarre mixing of styles produced some of the best mid 90's funky, acid-jazz and "No Sounds too Taboo" is arguably their best album. Despite the typically odd arrangements that permeate most of its tracks - a mixture of off-the-wall vocals, weird instrumentation and "lounge-lizard" backbeats - there's nothing too challenging here other than a set of ingenious, well produced workouts that are ideally suited for a lazy afternoon's listening. Sounds negative?... well making genuinely interesting laid-back music is no easy task and on "Stolen Moments", "Mistress of Dance" and most of the other tracks on this album UFO hit the button perfectly. Arty, clever and fun... the cover says it all ! - by nicjaytee, Amazon.com

This album is simply excellent. It's funky, groovy and quite sophisticated. You can't prevent from dancing around when you hear it and at the same time, it's enough elaborated to be appealing for a demanding audience... As I was saying, also check out the brand new heavies' releases (especially shelter and brother sister or the best of, "trunk funk")" - by Simone Oltolina, Swapacd.com

Artist: United Future Organization
Album: No Sounds Is Too Taboo
Year: 1994
Label: Bronswood Recordings
Runtime: 53:57

Tracks:
1.  United Future Airlines (Toshio Matsuura / Raphael Sebbag / Tadashi Yabe) 4:48
2.  Magic Wand Of Love (Earl DeRoun) 6:22
3.  Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson) 5:21
4.  Future Light (Toshio Matsuura / Mark Murphy / Raphael Sebbag / Tadashi Yabe) 5:58
5.  Make It Better (Cleveland Watkiss) 5:33
6.  Sunday Folk Tale (Raphael Sebbag / Tadashi Yabe) 6:17
7.  Mistress Of Dance (Toshio Matsuura / Raphael Sebbag / Tadashi Yabe) 4:25
8.  Bar-F-Out! (Toshio Matsuura / Raphael Sebbag / Tadashi Yabe) 5:00
9.  Doopsylalolic (Derek Delves / Toshio Matsuura / Raphael Sebbag / Tadashi Yabe) 4:38
10.  Tears Of Gratitude (Toshio Matsuura / Raphael Sebbag / Tadashi Yabe) 5:35

Personnel:
Tadashi Yabe (Keyboards, Programming)
Toshio Matsuura (Programming, Mixing)
Raphael Sebbag (Programming, Mixing, Voice)
Simon Richmond (Percussion) - 1
Linda Muriel (Vocals) - 2
Noriyoshi Sasanuma (Bass) - 2
Gemi Taylor (Guitar) - 2
Jessica Lauren (Piano) - 2
Time Five (Choir) - 3
Yae Nishikawa (Violin) - 3
Mike Emenau (Vibraphone) - 3
Mike Murphy (Vocals) - 4
Gill Manly (Backing Vocals) - 4
Mikiko Sakai (Scratch) - 4
Cleveland Watkiss (Vocals) - 5
Shinichi Osawa (Bass) - 5
Hiroyuki Komagata (Guitar) - 5
Francis Silva (Vocals) - 6
Snowboy (Percussion) - 6
Steve Williamson (Soprano Saxophone) - 7
Nishikawa Quartet (Strings) - 7
Urban Poets Society (Vocals) - 8
DJ Krush (Scratch) - 8
Derek Delves (Vocals) - 9
Talin Chamber Choir (Choir) - 10
Junichi Iwabuchi (Piano) - 10

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Michael Shrieve - Twoo Dors "In Palace Of Dreams"

Former Santana drummer Michael Shrieve's 1995 release Two Doors is appropriately titled, for it is really two albums in one, with two different trios providing the music. The first half of the record, subtitled "Deep Umbra," features Shrieve with guitarist Shawn Lane and bassist Jonas Hellborg performing eight jazz-rock compositions full of catchy themes and fiery improvisations. Lane is, simply put, one of the most technically gifted guitarists ever to pick up the instrument, and he records far too obscurely and infrequently. It is to his great credit that he never displays his abilities
gratuitously, but instead carefully measures them out for maximum impact. He is a consummate musician. The same could be said about Hellborg, who not only holds down the bottom end with his sensitive yet powerful bass, but also shares co-writing credits for seven of the eight songs that he appears on. The second half of the record, subtitled "Flying Polly," features Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz. This half of the record is jazzier and more avant-garde than the first half, and frankly doesn't work nearly as well. There are moments where some of the rockabilly jazz elements that Frisell and Horvitz explored in John Zorn's Naked City come to the foreground, but, besides that, most of this portion of the record sounds flat and uninspired. It is a shame that this had to be the case, especially considering how good the Lane-Hellborg trio is. However, Shrieve's drums are very nicely recorded, and he always plays the most appropriate thing for any given song, never showboating or otherwise distracting from the integrity of the composition. There is much merit in this frustratingly inconsistent album, and for fusion fans it is worth searching out. - by Daniel Gioffre, AMG

Artist: Michael Shrieve
Album: Two Doors "In The Palace Of Dreams"
Year: 1993-95
Label: CMP Records (1995)
Runtime: 76:31

Tracks:
Deep Umbra (1995)
1.  Stellar Rays (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 3:21
2.  Deep Umbra (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 4:39
3.  Sorcerer (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane / Michael Shrieve) 3:29
4.  Baraji (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 6:04
5.  Caress Of Lillith (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 4:18
6.  The Smiling Tarshishm (Michael Shrieve) 3:59
7.  Juvalamu (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 5:15
8.  Palace Of Dreams (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 5:57

Personnel:
Michael Shrieve - Drums
Jonas Hellborg - Bass Guitar
Shawn Lane - Guitar, Voice

Flying Polly (1993)
9.  Locomotion (Michael Shrieve) 1:55
10.  Data Trash (Bill Frisell / Michael Shrieve) 0:55
11.  Stella (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 7:17
12.  Your Saviour (Chris Cornell) 1:48
13.  Pipeline (Bill Frisell / Michael Shrieve) 0:46
14.  Crocodile (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 4:21
15.  Lincoln Logs (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 2:53
16.  First Train (Bill Frisell / Michael Shrieve) 0:37
17.  Queen Bee (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 12:04
18.  Flying Polly (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 1:51
19.  Stella (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 5:02

Personnel:
Michael Shrieve - Drums
Bill Frisell - Guitar
Wayne Horwitz - Organ

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Archie Shepp - I Know About the Life

Recorded in 1981 in a quartet setting featuring the great drummer John Betsch, bassist Santi Debriano, and pianist Ken Werner, I Know About the Life doesn't so much explore these standards as re-contextualize them in the canon. Opening with Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't," Shepp does to Monk's tune what Monk did regularly with pop tunes: he smears the melody all around a different harmonic context, adds a boatload of blues feel and a smattering of soul. His double times
with Betsch in the middle of the cut are stunning and humorous, and in spite of his solo honks and squeals, he never loses sight of Monk's tune. On his own "I Know About the Life," one can hear Lockjaw Davis, Ben Webster, and John Coltrane in his playing as Shepp builds on the deep soul and blues roots of his 1970s records like Cry of My People. The other two cuts here, a steaming muscular and frenetic read of Coltrane's "Giant Steps," and a nearly heartbreaking version of "'Round Midnight," reveal that the tradition for Shepp was not as it was for the coming reign of neo-trad revisionists who would re-imagine it in their own images: for Shepp here, as on many of his 1980s recordings (check "I Feel Like Going Home" with Horace Parlan), the tradition was an open-ended conversation to be annotated in the ballroom and on the back porch anytime one wished to step into it. Shepp's perception of the language of Ellington was -- and remains -- no less profound than Ellington's understanding of the language of Mingus, or Mingus' of Eric Dolphy's. The whispering sweetness tinged with crackling blues feel in "'Round Midnight" is one of the most important reads of this tune because it gives back to Monk what so many generic players tried to take away: the blood that lies at the heart of the ballad. Hearing Shepp in this light makes any serious jazz fan completely reconsider his contribution after the 1970s. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Archie Shepp
Album: I Know About the Life
Year: 1981 (Sackville Records)
Label: Hatology Records (2003, Remastered)
Runtime: 42:47

Tracks:
1.  Well, You Needn't (Thelonious Monk) 8:46
2.  I Know About The Life (Archie Shepp) 13:48
3.  Giant Steps (John Coltrane) 8:04
4.  'Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk) 12:09

Personnel:
Archie Shepp (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Werner (Piano)
Santi Debriano (Double Bass)
John Betsch (Drums)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Shakti With John McLaughlin

For his next act, the decibel champion of electric jazz shocked the world by unplugging and returning to South Indian music before an excitable audience at South Hampton College. Yet the alert John McLaughlin follower will note that beyond the reliance upon South Indian instruments and scales, there are unbroken links to records like My Goal's Beyond and the high-speed electric music that McLaughlin was casting aside at the moment. McLaughlin called his new quintet Shakti, which
means "creative intelligence and beauty and power" and the music here has all of that and something else, a ferocious streak inherited from the Mahavishnu days. McLaughlin ignites "Joy" by playing at a blazing speed, his cohorts Lakshminarayana Shankar (violin), Ramnad V. Raghavan and T.H. Vinayakram (mridangam), and Zakir Hussain (tabla) keeping up with the furious unison tempos with great dexterity and discipline, while a reworking of "Lotus Feet" forms a meditative interlude. Side two is taken up by a single, lengthy raga-like track in which McLaughlin combines his rapid-fire Western manner with note-bending techniques clearly emulating a sitar, and the Indians get plenty of dueling room. In its way, this fire-eating acoustic music is just as energizing as the most electrified Mahavishnu flights. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: John McLaughlin & Shakti
Album: Shakti with John McLaughlin
Year: 1975 (Columbia Records)
Label: Sony Music (1991, Digitally Remastered)
Runtime: 52:06
Recorded live at the South Hampton College, Lond Island, New York City; 06.05.1975

Tracks:
1.  Joy (John McLaughlin / Lakshmirayana Shankar) 18:15
2.  Lotus Feet (John McLaughlin) 4:47
3.  What Need Have I For This - What Need Have I For That - I Am Dancing At The Feet Of My Lord - All Is Bliss - All Is Bliss (John McLaughlin / Lakshmirayana Shankar) 29:04

Personnel:
John McLaughlin (Guitar)
Lakshmirayana Shankar (Violin)
Ramnad Raghavan (Mridangam)
Zakir Hussain (Tabla)
Vikku Vinayakram (Ghatam, Mridangam)

Monday, May 22, 2017

John Scofield - Quiet

Ironically, Quiet finds guitarist John Scofield using a much larger group of musicians than usual. The basic band has Scofield (who sticks to acoustic guitar), Wayne Shorter on tenor, bassist Steve Swallow, and either Bill Stewart or Duduka Da Fonseca on drums. They are joined by trumpeter Randy Brecker, two French horns, two woodwinds, Roger Rosenberg on bass clarinet, and Howard Johnson on tuba and baritone. Since Scofield is mostly in the lead, the music -- eight originals by
the leader and a song by producer Swallow -- is indeed mostly at a lower volume, although there is plenty of heat, too. However, since the guitarist is less distinctive than usual due to his playing acoustically, this set is not quite as significant as his other Blue Note releases. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: John Scofield
Album: Quiet
Year: 1996
Label: Verve
Runtime: 50:46
Recorded: Power Station Studios, New York City, April 3-6, 1996

Tracks:
1.  After The Fact (John Scofield) 5:26
2.  Tulle (John Scofield) 5:00
3.  Away With Words (John Scofield) 6:49
4.  Hold That Thought (John Scofield) 6:23
5.  Door #3 (John Scofield) 5:48
6.  Bedside Manner (John Scofield) 6:46
7.  Rolf And The Gang (John Scofield) 5:23
8.  But For Love (John Scofield) 5:37
9.  Away (Steve Swallow) 3:34

Personnel:
John Scofield (Acoustic Guitar)
Steve Swallow (Double Bass)
Randy Brecker (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Charles Pillow (Tenor Saxophone, Alto Flute, English Horn)
Lawrence Feldman (Flute, Tenor Saxophone)
Fred Griffin (French Horn)
John Clark (French Horn)
Roger Rosenberg (Bass Clarinet) - 1,3,4,7-9
Bill Stewart (Drums) - 1,3,4,7-9
Duduka da Fonseca (Drums) - 2,5,6
Wayne Shorter (Tenor Saxophone) - 3,5,8
Howard Johnson (Baritone Saxophone, Tuba) - 2,5,6

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pharoah Sanders - Moon Child

By this point in his career, Sanders had largely withdrawn from the kind of screeching avant-gardism on which he at first staked his reputation. The opening "Moon Child," with its attractively spacy vocals, is reminiscent of the days of "The Creator Has a Master Plan," but this version sounds too contrived to rival the classic earlier recording. The mood is subdued throughout and the choice of tunes definitely on the conservative side ("All or Nothing at All" and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes," among the six tracks). William Henderson is lovely on piano, while the drummer (Eddie Moore) and percussionist (Cheikh Tidiane Fale) keep to the quiet side. The results may have originally disappointed some of Sanders' fans, but with time the saxophonist clearly reinvented himself as a more traditional improviser capable of thoughtful and pensive deliberations. - by Steven Loewy, AMG

Artist: Pharoah Sanders
Album: Moon Child
Year: 1990
Label: Timeless Records
Runtime: 52:09
Recorded at Studio Davut, Paris, France, 12- 13. October 1989

Tracks:
1.  Moon Child (Pharoah Sanders) 8:07
2.  Moon Rays (Horace Silver) 6:10
3.  The Night Has A Thousand Eyes (Buddy Bermien/Jerry Brainin) 12:17
4.  All Or Nothing At All (Arthur Altman/Jack Lawrence) 9:23
5.  Soon (George Gerschwin) 5:29
6.  Moniebah (Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand)) 10:43

Personnel:
Pharoah Sanders (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone, Vocals)
William Henderson (Piano)
Stafford James (Double Bass)
Eddie Moore (Drums)
Cheikh Tidiane Fale (Percussion)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Jan Garbarek, Miroslav Vitous, Peter Eerskine - Star

Saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Peter Erskine have been making records for ECM for a long time, both as leaders and as sidemen. They know each other's styles well, they're familiar with ECM label head Manfred Eicher's echo-drenched production tendencies, and they know how to turn jazz formulas into hip, lyrical romanticism. On this leaderless trio album, as with most ECM releases, you get the feeling of music emerging from a vast and echoey space; Erskine's Morse-code drum accents, Vitous' thrumming basslines and the plaintive cry of Garbarek's soprano and alto saxophones are far removed from what some would consider "jazz," but that's not the point. The tunes may be somewhat interchangeable, but the music is virtuosic, thoughtful and thoroughly lovely, at times heart-tugging. Makes you wish these three would get together more often. - by Rick Anderson, AMG

Artist: Jan Garbarek, Miroslav Vitous, Peter Eerskine
Album: Star
Year: 1991
Label: ECM
Runtime: 42:23

Tracks:
1.  Star (Jan Garbarek) 6:15
2.  Jumper (Miroslav Vitous) 4:21
3.  Lamenting (Miroslav Vitous) 6:08
4.  Anthem (Peter Erskine) 6:16
5.  Roses for You (Miroslav Vitous) 5:39
6.  Clouds in the Mountain (Miroslav Vitous) 4:38
7.  Snowman (Jan Garbarek/Miroslav Vitous/Peter Erskine) 5:21
8.  The music of my People (Peter Erskine) 3:41

Personnel:
Jan Garbarek (Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone)
Miroslav Vitous (Double Bass)
Peter Erskine (Drums)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Renaud Garcia-Fons - Entremundo

Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons' set of originals mixes together Western classical music with world music and the improvising of jazz. The resulting performances are both soothing and stimulating, with Garcia-Fons' bowed bass being quite virtuosic and expressive; his feature on "Aqâ Jân" is very impressive. The many percussion instruments add an exotic element to the music (the core trio is comprised of bass, guitar, and drums) and the leader's strong melodies are full of variety and rich themes. Despite the lack of name recognition in the U.S., this is a special release with plenty of mood variations, unexpected moments, and logical development. Entremundo grows in interest with each listen and is well worth exploring. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Some records are instantly captivating, with an ambience that immediately draws the listener in. Others require more attention, revealing layers of reward with each successive listen. The best records do both. Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons has managed with his latest disc, Entremundo , to create one of those rare recordings whose first spin compels the listener to play it again and again, revealing richer substance each time. That Garcia-Fons has been called "the Paganini of the double bass" is no surprise. One listen to the closing piece, the solo "Aqâ Jân," and the breadth of his capabilities is clearly evident. With his five-string double-bass giving him access to the range of a cello in addition to the deeper resonance of the traditional instrument, Garcia-Fons' virtuosity is remarkable. From percussive pizzicato to sweeping arco, his ability to coax distinct and unusual sonorities from his instrument is uncanny. And while Garcia-Fons' technical skill is evident from the first note of "Sueno Vivo," which opens the album, he is equally matched by his trio mates, percussionist Jorge "Negrito" Trasante and flamenco guitarist Antonio Ruiz "Kiko." Yet, for all their formidable abilities, Entremundo is never about needless pyrotechnical demonstration. From the light and airy folk sound of "Cristobal" to the lush classical leanings of the title track, Garcia-Fons and his trio, supplemented by a variety of musical guests on various tracks, are never less than lyrical and transcend being mere players. ntremundo means "Between Worlds," and while the majority of the record has a strong flamenco flavour that will appeal to fans of, for example, Strunz and Farah, it's distinguished by a breadth of world view. There are elements of Middle Eastern harmonies, Oriental lines and Latin American rhythms amidst the Andalusian themes of "40 Dias," the brief and dark "Doust," and "Sarebân," which blends in an Indian-inflected theme. Garcia-Fons states that the intention of the record is to be celebratory, and there is, to be sure, a vivacious joy to be found throughout. Passion runs wild, with Garcia-Fons leading the way with his vibrant and emotive playing. Few bassists straddle the line between being a supporting rhythm section instrument and a leading voice as well as Garcia-Fons. Regardless of where he is placing his priority, the augmented trio shuffles responsibilities seamlessly and effortlessly. This is strongly groove-centric music that moves the body as well as the heart. Another characteristic of exceptional records is to make one forget about the individual contributions and experience the music as a transcendent whole. While the admirable skill of all involved makes this sometimes difficult, at the end of the day the album succeeds as an incredibly broad cross-fusion of ethnic influences from around the globe. Entremundo succeeds in making music that draws a coherent link between various musical worlds and, consequently, lives up to its name by fusing the music of a diversity of cultures with an improvisational verve and, in the final analysis, a pure and unadulterated joy in making evocative and provocative music. - by John Kelman, AllAboutJazz.com

Artist: Renaud Garcia-Fons
Album: Entremundo
Year: 2004
Label: Enja Records
Runtime: 50:57

Tracks:
1.  Sueno vivo 4:46
2.  Cristobal 4:51
3.  Entremundo 3:59
4.  Mahoor 4:06
5.  40 Dias (Soleá) 4:43
6.  Entre Continentes 6:58
7.  Mursiya 0:48
8.  Rosario 5:15
9.  Doust 1:42
10.  Sareban 5:58
11.  Aqa Jan 7:51
All compositions by Renaud Garcia-Fons 

Personnel:
Renaud Garcia-Fons (Double Bass, Vocals, Tanbur, Percussion)
Jorge Trasante (Drums, Bombo, Udu, Latin Percussion)
Antonio Ruiz (Flamenco Guitar)
Claire Antonini (Tar, Cistres, Luth Baroque)
Gaston Sylvestre (Cimbalom)
Angel Sanchez-Gonzalez (Palmas, Cajon, Jaleo, Pandeiro)
Bruno Caillat (Tabla, Daf, Kanjeera)
Philippe Slovinsky (Trumpet)
Allen Hoist (Tenor Saxophone)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Charles Lloyd - Hyperion With Higgins

The December 1999 sessions that produced The Water Is Wide yielded enough material for a second album. Hyperion With Higgins is the result, and its title reflects the sad fact that Billy Higgins, Lloyd's friend and soul mate and the session's drummer, passed away not long after the music was put to tape. The music's spiritual quality is heightened by the after-the-fact dedication. Quite unlike The Water Is Wide, Hyperion With Higgins is comprised entirely of Lloyd's original compositions, although the same lineup is featured: Lloyd, Higgins, John Abercrombie, Brad Mehldau, and Larry
Grenadier. After a couple of fairly straightforward jazz pieces ("Dancing Waters, Big Sur to Bahia" and "Bharati"), the quintet delves into two longer works: "Secret Life of the Forbidden City" and the Coltrane-esque "Miss Jessye." They then romp through the title track, a spirited mid-tempo blues, before tackling the album's centerpiece: the five-part "Darkness on the Delta Suite," an ambitious, free-leaning melange of Eastern and rural blues connotations (with a brilliant solo interlude by Abercrombie). The last two pieces -- "Dervish on the Glory B" and "The Caravan Moves On" -- depart almost completely from jazz vernacular. The former recalls the upbeat, folk-like drone of the sunset portion of "Forest Flower," while the latter, featuring Lloyd on taragato, evokes not only the Middle Eastern desert, but also the inexorable march of time. Thus does a fitting homage to the departed Higgins conclude this exceptionally focused, all-original statement from Charles Lloyd. - by David R. Adler, AMG

Artist: Charles Lloyd
Album: Hyperion With Higgins
Year: 1999
Label: ECM (2001)
Runtime: 70:07

Tracks:
1.  Dancing Waters, Big Sur To Bahia 5:51
2.  Bharati 6:59
3.  Secret Life Of The Forbidden City 10:03
4.  Miss Jessye 10:21
5.  Hyperion With Higgins 7:19
6.  Darkness On The Delta Suite 12:39
7.  Dervish On The Glory B 8:23
8.  The Caravan Moves On 8:32
All compositions by Charles Lloyd

Personnel:
Charles Lloyd (Tenor Saxophone, Tárogató [Taragato], Maracas)
Billy Higgins (Drums, Percussion)
Larry Grenadier (Double Bass)
John Abercrombie (Guitar)
Brad Mehldau (Piano)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tania Maria - Europe

This is a compilation of live performances recorded during the early '90s while Maria was touring Europe. The seven tunes are mostly high energy numbers. On "Funky Tambourine," "Senso Unico," "I Can Do It" and "Bom Bom Bom," Maria plays in a quartet format, with Mitch Stein on guitar; Anthony Jackson, bass; and Steve Gadd, drums. "Chuleta" and "O Bom E" has a rhythm section of bassist Kip Reed, percussionist Armando Marcal and drummer Kim Plainfield. Trumpeter Rick Savage and saxophonist Jim Clouse are also heard on these cuts. "She's Outrageous" features bassist Sergio Brandao, percussionist Sammy Figueroa and drummer Ricky Sebastian. All tunes and arrangements are by Maria. "Funky Tambourine" builds to a crescendo with Maria's staccato piano and percussive scatting, Stein's soaring guitar, and Gadd's intense drumming. "Chuleta" [pork chop] is frenzied and spontaneous. "Senso Unico" and "O Bom E" are balladic numbers. Maria's emotional style, her funky drive and drama, propel her bandmates to exceptional levels of musicianship. - JazzTimes.com

Artist: Tania Maria
Album: Europe
Year: 1997
Label: New Note
Runtime: 51:35

Tracks:
1.  Funky Tambourine 10:09
2.  Senso Unico 8:22
3.  I Can Do It 5:47
4.  Chuleta 5:03
5.  O Bom E 5:50
6.  She's Outrageous 10:03
7.  Bom Bom Bom Tchi Tchi Tchi 6:21
All compositions by Tania Maria 

Personnel:
Tania Maria (Vocals, Piano, Keyboards)
Steve Gadd (Drums) - 1-3,7
Anthony Jackson (Bass) - 1-3,7
Mitch Stein (Guitar) - 1-3,7
Kim Plainfield (Drums) - 4,5
Kip Reed (Bass) - 4,5
Armando Marcal (Percussion) - 4,5
Rick Savage (Trumpet) - 4,5
Jim Clouse (Saxophone) - 4,5
Ricky Sebastian (Drums) - 6
Sergio Brandao (Bass) - 6
Sammy Figueroa (Percussion) - 6

Monday, March 6, 2017

Anouar Brahem - Conte de l'incoyable amour

Conte de L'incroyable Amour is Tunisian composer and oud virtuoso Anouar Brahem's follow-up to his excellent ECM debut, Barzakh. Like its predecessor, this release contains original material that mixes Arabic music and jazz improvisation and features a stellar band comprised of some of Turkey's finest musicians (this time out Brahem is joined by clarinetist Barbaros Erkose, nay (reed flute) player Kudsi Ergune, and the percussionist from Barzakh, Lassad Hosni). In contrast to Barzakh's livelier mood, though, the sound here is more meditative and even stark at times, especially on solo flights by both Brahem ("Iram Retrouvee") and Erkose ("Etincelles") and by way of Erguner's ethereal improvisations ("Diversion"). The pace picks up on the sympathetically played and joyous ensemble piece "Conte de L'incroyable Amour" and on the impassioned Brahem and Erkose duet, "Nayzak." ECM's typically sparse and airy production compliments Brahem's ascetic material without making it sound too dry. A wonderful album that, upon repeated listening, reveals many transcendent moments. - by Stephen Cook, AMG

Anouar Brahem is a Tunisian who is one of the leading present exponents of the oud, a lute-like stringed instrument. Brahem's music is anything but 'exponent'-sounding, however--he makes regular excursions into the world of jazz and crossover (a project of some years back with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek was wonderful), along with recording pieces with a more traditional sound. This cd is langorous and exotic-sounding with a good bit of a jazz feel thrown in for good measure; it is mostly quiet, introspective and wandering (even ambient), with occasional explosions of what might be termed "rhythmic urgency." It frankly takes a bit of getting used to, but if you like unpretentious, intimate music and can get into this particular blend of North African instrumentation (oud, clarinet, nai flute, and bendir and darbouka), you may well find it very attractive.- by C.H. Smith, Amazon.com

What you will hear in this album is magic solitude. Is silence. Brahem explores the mystical sounds rooted deep inside us, and only giving these his most familiar form, through his oud. This music is born for artists, for sensitive creative people. For rare moments of true happines.- by Alex Balint, Amazon.com

Artist: Anouar Brahem
Album: Conte de l'incoyable amour
Year: 1992
Label: ECM
Runtime: 59:26
Recorded: 1991. October at the Rainbow Studio (Oslo, Norway)

Tracks:
1.  Etincelles (Anouar Brahem) 3:21
2.  Le Chien sur les genoux de la devineresse (Anouar Brahem) 3:44
3.  L'oiseau de bois (Anouar Brahem) 4:48
4.  Lumiere du silence (Anouar Brahem) 5:15
5.  Conte de L'incroyable amour (Anouar Brahem) 10:51
6.  Peshrev Hidjaz Homayoun (Veli Dede) 5:03
7.  Diversion (Kudsi Erguner) 5:39
8.  Nayzak (Anouar Brahem) 5:32
9.  Battements (Anouar Brahem) 1:56
10.  En souvenir d'Iram (Anouar Brahem) 3:02
11.  Iram retrouvée (Anouar Brahem) 3:48
12.  Epilogue (Anouar Brahem) 6:21

Personnel:
Anouar Brahem (Oud)
Barbaros Erköse (Clarinet)
Kudsi Erguner (Nay)
Lassad Hosni (Bendir and Darbouka)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rothenberg, Boone, Velez - On the Cliffs of the Heart

Celebrated musician, composer, author, and philosopher naturalist, David Rothenberg, is known for his extensive and extraordinary work researching and reacting to the relationship between humanity and nature. His performance at apexart will present examples of his work playing music live together with different creatures, from Why Birds Sing (2005) where he played with lyrerbirds, Thousand Mile Song (2008) where he joined singing humpback whales, and Bug Music (2013) where he was covered in 17-year cicadas. As a composer and jazz clarinetist, David Rothenberg has nine CDs out under his own name, including On the Cliffs of the Heart, named one of the top ten CDs by Jazziz magazine in 1995.- Apexart.org

Artist: David Rothenberg, Graeme Boone, Glen Velez
Album: On the Cliffs of the Heart
Year: 1995
Label: New Tone Records
Runtime: 57:25

Tracks: 
1.  In My Heart There Is a Discord (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 4:12
2.  Man of Constant Sorrow (Traditional) 5:13
3.  Prelude to the Dance of the Dervish (Traditional) 4:28
4.  Chikadedumpewaa (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 2:34
5.  Joie Plaisence (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 5:40
6.  Tales of the Big Drum (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 7:44
7.  I See the Great Mountains (Traditional) 4:14
8.  Aux Marches du Palais (Traditional) 7:06
9.  My Life With the Wave (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 4:52
10.  Rai for Don (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 5:59
11.  On the Cliffs of the Heart (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 5:23

Personnel:
David Rothenberg (Clarinet)
Graeme Boone (Banjo)
Glen Velez (Frame Drums)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Modern Art Orchestra - Circular

Lifetime is a tricky thing. Sometimes you realize how quickly it passes only through a sudden flash of the mind, when one morning you wake up noticing that you are simply no longer the person you used to be. When I encountered this shocking experience a couple of years ago, I could not help seeing things from a different perspective: things like childhood or adulthood, being serious or having fun, playing or working. - BMCRecords.hu

Artist: Modern Art Orchestra
Album: Plays The Music Of Kristof Bacso - Circular
Year: 2014
Label: BMC Records
Runtime: 59:17
Recorded: at Pannonia Studio, Budapest, Hungary

Tracks:
1.  Circular 2:02
2.  Lunar Dance 12:33
3.  Too Many Questions Left 8:32
4.  Child's Place 11:44
5.  Nocturne 8:20
6.  Caffeine Express 6:35
7.  Variations On A Folksong 9:27
All compositions by Kristof Bacso 

Personnel:
Kristof Bacso (Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Flute)
Kornel Fekete Kovacs (Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Conductor)
David Ülkei (Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Clarinet)
Janos Aved (Tenor Saxophone, Flute)
Balazs Cserta (Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet)
Mihaly Bajusznacs (Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet)
Adam Graf (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Zoltan Bacsa (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Gabor Subicz (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Balazs Bukovinszki (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Gabor Bizjak (Cornet)
Zsolt Nagy (Cornet)
Attila Korb (Trombone)
Gabor Barbinek (Trombone)
Miklos Csathy (Bass Trombone)
Peter Kovacs (Tuba)
Gabor Cseke (Piano)
Marton Soos (Double Bass)
Laszlo Csizi (Drums)
Aron Komjati (Guitar) - 1,5-7
Andras Des (Percussion) - 1,5,7
Marton Fenyvesi (Guitar) - 2-4

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sonny Rollins - Newk's Time

In his early prime and well-respected, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins cut this fine hard bop date as one of several late-'50s sessions for Blue Note. The record is part classic date, part blowing session, sporting a mix of engaging head statements and lengthy solos. Rollins takes to the spacious quartet setting, stretching out on taut versions of Miles Davis' '50s concert opener "Tune Up" and Kenny Dorham's "Asiatic Raes." Keeping the swing hard but supple are drummer Philly Joe Jones, bassist Doug Watkins, and pianist Wynton Kelly; Jones  was certainly the standout in this well-respected sampling of the best young players of the period, as he oftentimes matched the intensity and ingenuity of the star soloists he backed. Jones, in fact, puts in some career highlights on "Wonderful! Wonderful!" and "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," just two of many wholly unique Tin Pan Alley song interpretations Rollins has done in his long career. From a career-defining period before the legendary Williamsburg Bridge layoff of two years, Rollins' Newk's Time may not make classic status in jazz roundups, but it certainly is a must for fans of this most important of classic hard bop soloists. - by Stephen Cook, AMG

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: Newk's Time
Year: 1957
Label: Blue Note (1990)
Runtime: 34:41

Tracks:
1.  Tune Up (Miles Davis) 5:49
2.  Asiatic Raes (Kenny Dorham) 6:01
3.  Wonderful! Wonderful! (Sherman Edwards/Ben Raleigh) 6:05
4.  The Surrey With the Fringe on Top (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II) 6:35
5.  Blues for Philly Joe (Sonny Rollins) 6:49
6.  Namely You (Gene DePaul/Johnny Mercer) 3:19

Personnel:
Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Wynton Kelly (Piano)
Doug Watkins (Double Bass)
Philly Joe Jones (Drums)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sonny Rollins - A Night at the Village Vanguard

Sonny Rollins, one of jazz's great tenors, is heard here at his peak with a pair of piano-less trios (either Wilbur Ware or Donald Bailey on bass and Elvin Jones or Pete La Roca on drums) stretching out on particularly creative versions of "Old Devil Moon," "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise," "Sonnymoon for Two," and "A Night in Tunisia," among others. Not only did Rollins have a very distinctive sound but his use of time, his sly wit, and his boppish but unpredictable style were completely his own by 1957. Truly magical. [Originally released as separate albums, A Night at the Village Vanguard has also been reissued in its entirety, complete with alternate takes.] - by Scott Yanow, AMG

The recording that resulted documents two shows in the afternoon and evening of November 3, 1957. Rollins employed different bands for the two shows. The afternoon show sported Donald Bailey on bass and Pete (La Roca) Sims on drums and the only contribution to the whole by this band is the opening "Night in Tunisia." The remainder of the recording is all Wilbur Ware on Bass and Elvin Jones on Drums. the recently released rudy Van Gelder Edition is superior to all previous releases of this material. Included here is all of the pre-song banter showing a 27 year old Rollins wowing his crowd. Also, previously edited material is restored and situated in chronologic order. All of this is dryly technical, but the music is not. This is virile and daring music performed with the hubris of youth and genius. The nakedness of the Tenor Trio is justly daunting. But, to masters of this ilk, the trio format offers that additional dimension of creativity— finding what is important in melody and harmony. Charlie Parker is barely in the grave two years befor these sides were cut. "A Night in Tunisia," "Woody 'N' You," and "I Can't Get Started" sound fresh and new. Rollins's tenor was always larger than life in a most attractive way, unlike Coltrane. His tone was full and sexy and rough and exciting on this evening in November, 1957, and so was his genius. - by Michael Bailey, AllAboutJazz.com

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: A Night At The Village Vanguard
Year: 1957
Label: Blue Note Records (1999, RVG Renmastered)
Runtime: 131:56

Tracks:
1.  A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli) 8:16
2.  I've Got You Under My Skin (Cole Porter) 10:03
3.  A Night in Tunisia (Evening Take) (Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli) 9:03
4.  Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Oscar Hammerstein II/Sigmund Romberg) 6:43
5.  Four (Miles Davis) 8:26
6.  Introduction 0:20
7.  Woody 'n' You (Dizzy Gillespie) 8:29
8.  Introduction 0:36
9.  Old Devil Moon (E.Y. "Yip" Harburg/Burton Lane)  8:21
10.  What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter) 14:03
11.  Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Oscar Hammerstein II/Sigmund Romberg) 8:03
12.  Sonnymoon For Two (Sonny Rollins) 8:46
13.  I Can't Get Started (Vernon Duke/Ira Gershwin) 4:54
14.  I'll Remember April (Gene DePaul/Patricia Johnston/Don Raye) 9:20
15.  Get Happy (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 9:08
16.  Striver's Row (Sonny Rollins) 5:59
17.  All The Things You Are (Oscar Hammerstein II/Jerome Kern) 6:46
18.  Get Happy (Short Version) (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 4:40

Personnel:
Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Elvin Jones (Drums) - 2-18
Wilbur Ware (Double Bass) - 2-18
Donald Bailey (Double Bass) - 1
Pete La Roca (Drums) - 1

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Steve Coleman - Myths, Modes and Means

One of a trio of RCA CDs taken from altoist Steve Coleman's week at Paris's Hot Brass Club, three of the six performances on this set ("Finger of God," "Song of the Beginnings" and "Transits") are over 19 minutes long, and, with the exception of a rap on "The Initiate" and one during the last part of "Song of the Beginnings," this is a jazz set. On "Finger of God," Yassir Chadly's spiritual chant is followed by some intense Coleman alto over a drone by the keyboards. Other selections feature passionate free funk with plenty of Coleman alto and Ralph Alessi trumpet solos; Vijay Iyer's spooky keyboards and Miya Masaoka's koto are assets in the ensembles. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Steve Coleman and the Mystic Rhythm Society
Album: Myths, Modes And Means
Year: 1995
Label: RCA Records
Runtime: 75:40

Tracks:
1.  Mystic Dub 2:06
2.  Finger of God 24:37
3.  The Initiate 3:50
4.  Madras 3:43
5.  Song of the Beginnings 19:16
6.  Numerology 1:42
7.  Transits 20:23
All compositions by Steve Coleman

Personnel:
Steve Coleman (Alto Saxophone)
Ralph Alessi (Trumpet)
Andy Milne (Piano and Keyboards)
Reggie Washington (Bass)
Gene Lake (Drums)
Vijay Iyer (Keyboards)
Miya Masaoka (Koto)
Josh Jones (Percussion)
Ramesh Shotham (Percussion)
Yassir Chadly (Vocals and Percussion)

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