Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jan Garbarek - In Praise of Dreams

It has been six years since saxophonist/composer Jan Garbarek issued a new recording under his own name. For In Praise of Dreams Garbarek enlisted violist Kim Kashkashian and frequent collaborator Manu Katché on drums. Garbarek, who composed the album's 11 selections, plays saxophones as well as a host of keyboards and percussion, while Katché plays acoustic and electronic drums along with Kashkashian's viola. In many ways this is the most radical recording that Garbarek has ever issued, but not because it's outside -- quite the opposite. This is easily the warmest, most accessible outing Garbarek has ever issued because though there are no vocals, Garbarek has clearly written "songs" on this set, with identifiable structures that are followed almost throughout. Though he is no stranger to the form, having employed it almost continually for the last 20 years, he has never engaged it so thoroughly and completely. Previously, he has engaged improvisation to get song to the breaking point and move it somewhere else. Here it is always present; surprise happens inside the formal frameworks of these compositions. Beautiful, soulful lines underscore and recontextualize the saxophonist's trademark Nordic iciness of tone on the opener, "As Seen from Above," with its spiraling soprano, lush keyboards, and hypnotic loops. In its warmth, it comes very close to a distinctly European kind of groove/soul-jazz. The interplay between Kashkashian and Garbarek on the title track offers rounded, multidimensional sonorities winding through the intro before spilling into a call-and-response melody. The repetitive keyboard line and Katché's mantra-like drumming under the loops draw the listener inside the song's heart and extend the edge for the front line. The restrained romanticism shown by Kashkashian on her nocturnal solo intro to "One Goes There Alone" is nearly breathtaking. As it gives way to the tune itself, it's slow, reflective, and rooted deeply in the tension created between percussion and Garbarek's minimal backing response lines. When he solos later in the tune, he's clearly blowing blues into her elegiac line. The blues notion continues in his phrasing on "Knot of Place and Time," slipping through the landscape of Kashkashian's elegant, near heartbreakingly poetic soundscape. And so it goes. Things get more speculative on "Scene from Afar" and "Cloud of Unknowing," but it hardly matters since these song forms are nonetheless immediately recognizable, presenting the nether side of the equation. It emerges again with "Conversation With a Stone" and whispers to a close with "A Tale Begun," a mantra-like duet that closes this strong set that will undoubtedly, if it gets the opportunity to be heard, garner Jan Garbarek some new fans. Poetic, moving, and marvelous, In Praise of Dreams is a welcome return. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Jan Garbarek
Album: In Praise of Dreams
Year: 2004
Label: ECM
Runtime: 52:25
Recorded at the Blue Jay Recording Studio (Carlisle, USA, 2003)) 

1.  As Seen From Above 4:44 
2.  In Praise Of Dreams 5:25 
3.  One Goes There Alone 5:09 
4.  Knot Of Place And Time 6:27 
5.  If You Go Far Enough 0:44 
6.  Scene From Afar 5:19 
7.  Cloud Of Unknowing 5:26 
8.  Without A Visible Sign 5:04 
9.  Iceburn 5:03 
10.  Conversation With A Stone 4:25 
11.  A Tale Begun 4:39 
All music by Jan Garbarek

Jan Garbarek (Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Synthesizer, Percussion)
Kim Kashkashian (Viola)
Manu Katche (Drums, Loops)

Monday, January 22, 2018

Grant Green - Talkin' About!

On the heels of Matador and Solid, two of his most advanced albums, Grant Green decided to continue the more modal direction he'd begun pursuing with the help of members of Coltrane's quartet. Accordingly, he hooked up with organist Larry Young, who was just beginning to come into his own as the first Hammond B-3 player to incorporate Coltrane's modal innovations into his own style. Talkin' About is the first of three albums the Green/Young team recorded together with Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones, and it's exceptional, one of the most underrated items in Green's discography. With just a basic organ trio lineup, the album works a fascinating middle ground between the soul-jazz of Green's early days and the modal flavor of his most recent work. Though Young's style wasn't quite fully formed yet, he's no longer the in-the-pocket Jimmy Smith disciple of his earliest sessions; his playing here is far more adventurous than the typical soul-jazz date, both harmonically and rhythmically. Jones and Young often play off one another to create an intricate, percolating pulse that's miles ahead of the standard soul-jazz groove. The trio's interplay is best showcased on Young's Coltrane tribute, "Talkin' About J.C.," a monster jam that's worth every one of its nearly 12 minutes, and the cheerful "I'm an Old Cowhand," popularized as a jazz tune by Sonny Rollins. Meanwhile, Young and Green positively shimmer together on the ballad numbers, "People" and "You Don't Know What Love Is." It all makes for a terrific album that ranks in Green's uppermost echelon. - by Steve Huey, AMG

Artist: Grant Green
Album: Talkin' About!
Year: 1964
Label: Blue Note Records (24bit remastered, 1999)
Recorded at the Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliff, NJ, USA (09.11.1964)

1.  Talkin' About J.C. (Larry Young) 11:45
2.  People (Bob Merrill/Jule Styne) 7:28
3.  Luny Tune (Larry Young) 7:43
4.  You Don't Know What Love Is (Gene DePaul/Don Raye) 7:38
5.  I'm an Old Cowhand (Johnny Mercer) 6:31

Grant Green (Guitar)
Larry Young (Organ)
Elvin Jones (Drums)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Abbey Lincoln - Who Used To Dance

Abbey Lincoln, 65 at the time of this recording, still had a reasonably strong voice at this point in her career, and although she showed signs of mellowing now and then, she was still capable of performing fiery musical statements. This Verve release mostly emphasizes slow tempos and melancholy moods. The nostalgic "Who Used to Dance" (featuring Savion Glover's tapdancing) is a highlight, and "Street of Dreams" works well, although "Mr. Tambourine Man" is not too essential. Six different saxophonists (five of them altoists) appear on the date (usually one on a song), and despite the diversity in styles (from Steve Coleman to Frank Morgan), their subsidiary roles and respectful playing find them all sounding fairly similar. An interesting but not overly essential outing. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Abbey Lincoln
Album: Who Used To Dance
Year: 1997
Label: Verve Records
Runtime: 61:29
Recorded at the Clinton Recording Studios, New York City, April-May, 1996

1.  Love Has Gone Away (Abbey Lincoln) 7:34
2.  Who Used To Dance (Abbey Lincoln) 9:41
3.  Love Lament (R.B. Lynch) 7:14
4.  Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan) 6:55
5.  When Autumn Sings (R.B. Lynch) 4:09
6.  Love What You Doin' (Abbey Lincoln) 8:27
7.  Street Of Dreams (Sam Lewis/Victor Young) 6:36
8.  I Sing A Song (Abbey Lincoln) 5:50
9.  The River (Abbey Lincoln) 5:00

Abbey Lincoln (Vocals)
Marc Cary (Piano) - 1-8
Michael Bowie (Double Bass) - 1-8
Aaron Walker (Drums and Percussion) - 1,2,4,7,8
Alvester Garnett (Drums) - 2,5,6
Steve Coleman (Alto Saxophone) - 1,6,7
Oliver Lake (Alto Saxophone) - 6,9
Frank Morgan (Alto Saxophone) - 3,5
Riley T. Bandy (Alto Saxophone) - 6,8
Savion Glover (Tap Dance) - 2
Julien Lourau (Tenor Saxophone) - 4
Justin Robinson (Alto Saxophone) - 9
Graham Haynes (Cornet) - 9
Rodney Kendrick (Piano) - 9
John Ormond (Double Bass) - 9
Turu Alexander (Drums) - 9
Bazzi Bartholomew (Backing Vocals) - 9
Arthur Green (Backing Vocals) - 9


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