Thursday, September 30, 2010

Metropole Orchestra • John Scofield • Vince Mendoza: 54 (2010)

The collaboration heard on 54 had its origins back in the 90's when Vince Mendoza asked John Scofield to play on his first album. John has since been featured on two of Vince’s records and his guitar sound and improvisational skills work well within Vince’s concept. When Mendoza assumed directorship of The Metropole Orchestra, he and Scofield decided to collaborate again with a primary focus on Mendoza’s arrangements of Scofield compositions as performed with The Metropole Orchestra.
"Vince is one of the most creative arrangers today and his sensibilities are perfect for my compositions," says Scofield. ''in addition to Vince’s arrangements, 54 features another pair of Scofield tunes transformed by likeminded arrangers Jim McNeely and Florian Ross. Two classic Mendoza compositions are included to complete the repertoire. ''I love playing in this lush setting. This orchestra is unique to any other I know of in its ability to play with a natural jazz feeling," says Scofield. "It’s a thrill to hear my tunes expanded by the orchestral arrangements and Vince’s tunes are modern masterpieces that I truly enjoy interpreting. The other soloists in the Orchestra are excellent as well."
01. Carlos (John Scofield) [8:55]
02. Jung Parade (Vince Mendoza) [7:28]
03. Polo Towers (John Scofield) [6:49]
04. Honest I Do (John Scofield) [4:20]
05. Twang (John Scofield) [9:19]
06. Imaginary Time (John Scofield) [6:17]
07. Peculiar (John Scofield) [7:38]
08. Say We Did (Vince Mendoza) [8:22]
09. Out Of The City (John Scofield) [5:35]
John Scofield (guitar)
Vince Mendoza (conductor/arranger)
Metropole Orchestra
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Tetsuo Sakurai: Vital World (2010)

Ex Casiopea bassist Tetsuo Sakurai formed this power trio in 2001, releasing the hot seller,self-titled record. After its great success they released Gentle Hearts LIVE CD and DVD. The DVD is certainly one of the hottest selling DVDS in this genre. In 2010, Tetsuo, Dennis Chambers and Greg Howe have returned with the fantastic sounding new studio album of originals. Its raging hard fusion at its best.
01. Critical Planet
02. Alien's Feast
03. A Tear Of The Clown
04. Are You Ready
05. Another Kingdom
06. Triangle Square
07. Monster Parade
08. Father
Tetsuo Sakurai - bass
Greg Howe - guitar
Dennis Chambers - drums
Taiki Imaizumi - keyboards
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin - Llyrìa (2010)

'Llyria' is the third album from Nik Bartsch's Ronin and follows on from 'Stoa' and 'Holon', the ECM recordings that established the exciting young Swiss band on the international scene. Leader and pianist Nik Bartsch's "modular" pieces still define the context of the group's music but the committed input of the individual Ronin members has lifted the work to the next level, blurring the distinctions between composition, improvisation and interpretation.
The music has become more open, moving on from its early "Zen funk" and "ritual groove music" formulas. Reed player Sha shines brightly here, and lyrical melodic themes make themselves felt. But this is, Nik Bartsch suggests, more than its predecessors a drummer's record. Its beats are lovingly crafted by Kaspar Rast and percussionist Andi Pupato.
The new album is named for Llyria, the luminous, mysterious creatures that live in the ocean's depths, for Bartsch a metaphor for the music: "We keep casting our nets in the same waters - and sometimes we find forms that are completely surprising, even to us."
A 180-gram audiophile version of the album on a 2-LP set is scheduled for release in late October.
Personnel: Nik Bartsch (piano), Sha (bass clarinet, alto saxophone), Bjorn Meyer (bass), Kaspar Rast (drums), Andi Pupato (percussion)
1. Modul 48
2. Modul 52
3. Modul 55
4. Modul 47
5. Modul 53
6. Modul 51
7. Modul 49_44

James Taylor Quartet: Swinging London (2000)

The James Taylor Quartet are a British four-piece jazz funk band who have become renowned for their live performances. They were formed by Hammond organ player James Taylor following the break-up of his former band The Prisoners in the wake of Stiff Records' bankruptcy. The current line-up is James Taylor (Hammond organ), Chris Montague (guitar), Andrew McKinney (bass) and Adam Betts (drums), although recordings and live performances usually feature a horn section comprising John Willmott (tenor sax/flute) and Nick Smart (trumpet), and also vocalist Yvonne Yanney.
The band are often referred to by the acronym JTQ, and have no connection to the American singer-songwriter James Taylor.
1. Mister Twister
2. The Numbers
3. Do It
4. Beat Club
5. The Scene
6. Blues Stomp
7. The Block
8. Weekender
9. Stand Up
10. Return Of The Hipster
11. Zoot Suit
12. Faster Pussycat
Swinging London
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Enrico Rava: Plays Miles Davis (2004)

Enrico Rava, born in Trieste in 1939, is undoubtedly the most internationally acknowledged Italian jazzman. In forty years of his career as trumpet player, and composer, he has produced more than ninety recordings, tweny-five of which as a leader. Being a great admirer of Miles Davis and Chet Baker, his career started at an early age, when he played in clubs in Turin.
He has played on tours and concerts in USA, Japan, Canada, Europe, Brazil, China, Argentina, taking part in important Festivals (Montreal, Toronto, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Perugia, Antibes, Berlin, Paris Tokyo, Peking, etc). He has several times been elected best musician in the annual referendum conducted by “Musica Jazz”, and has also won the title in the “best group” and “best italian album” categories. In the past years he has toured and recorded with his “Electric Five”.
At present, he plays in several concerts with his new quintet composed of young talents as Gianluca Petrella and Stefano Bollani and affirmed musicians as Rosario Bonaccorso and Roberto Gatto. He has founded in 1999 a quintet with trumpet player Paolo Fresu and recorded “Shades Of Chet” for Label Bleu. He also leads a duo with young and gifted piano player Stefano Bollani. On July 2001 he will tour Europe with Gato Barbieri with a new band named “Complete Reunion”. ~ All About Jazz
Enrico Rava, Paolo Fresu (trumpet, flugelhorn);
Stefano Bollani (piano);
Enzo Pietropaoli (double bass);
Roberto Gatto (drums)
01 Bye Bye Blackbird
02 There Is No You
03 Milestones
04 Blue in Green
05 When Lights Are Low
Montreal Diary A: Plays Miles Davis
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Michael Haggins: Daybreak (2004)

If you truly enjoy soulful/smooth jazz music, then Mike Haggins Daybreak is a "must have" for your collection. All of the tracks are outstanding, however, "Be Thankful", "Daybreak", and "Diamond Eyes" are the gems on this debut cd. From top to bottom, a solid collection of great music well worth your investment.
1. Be Thankful (Instrumental) (3:32)
2. Daybreak (5:29)
3. Diamond Eyes (Instrumental) (4:16)
4. Norine (4:22)
5. First Breath (4:17)
6. Be Thankful (Vocals) (3:32)
7. Diamond Eyes (Vocals) (4:31)
Michael Haggins
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Fourplay: Let's Touch the Sky (2010)

Sometimes you have to shake things up, push a little farther, reach a little higher - even when you're a contemporary jazz foursome that's been operating at the top of its collective game for two decades. After twenty years and a dozen albums, in an industry that has undergone sweeping transformations in the past decade, Fourplay knows that the only thing that's certain, in music or any other business, is change. The latest proof of that axiom is the new face in their lineup - that of guitarist Chuck Loeb, who makes his compelling debut with the quartet on Let's Touch The Sky.
Loeb completes the four-man crew that also includes the band's founding members: keyboardist Bob James, bassist/vocalist Nathan East and drummer/percussionist Harvey Mason. Let's Touch The Sky also includes stirring performances by guest vocalists Anita Baker and Ruben Studdard. The infusion of new blood into the Fourplay lineup creates an opportunity to bring an even newer level of energy and inspiration into a band that is already known for taking chances and pushing the limits of contemporary jazz. "All four of us have been in this business long enough to know that there's always pressure to compromise, and we don't want to do that," says James. "We don't want to end up in the middle of the pack. We always aim to be leaders, and take the music to another level and raise the standards higher. I think the music on this new record, thanks in large part to Chuck's early contributions - and to the ongoing team spirit of the band as a whole - is very much a reflection of that philosophy."
Loeb, who openly admits to being a fan of Fourplay since their earliest recordings, sees his new membership status as the opportunity of a lifetime. "I want to be a part of the legacy they've built, going all the way back to their first recording and right up to their most recent one," he says. "There's been an incredible level of quality in the musicianship, the writing, the whole sonic palette that they're famous for. I'm excited to be a part of the next step in the evolution of all that." That sense of romanticism combined with optimism defining the project makes the rhythmic and exotic title track the fitting opener to the set. Written by James, the song sits atop a comfortable Latin groove and showcases the interplay between the keyboardist and his new band mate on acoustic guitar. The follow-up track, Loeb's driving and intense "3rd Degree" is a reference to his role as the third guitarist in the Fourplay saga (the original lineup included Lee Ritenour, who was later replaced by Larry Carlton in the late `90s). The track is built on a syncopated rhythm that allows plenty of room for everyone on hand to stretch out and demonstrate their virtuosity.
Guest vocalists Ruben Studdard and Anita Baker appear on the soulful "Love TKO" and the dreamlike "You're My Thrill," respectively. Studdard was recruited by East, after the two had appeared together in a live performance in Washington, DC. "They were filming a television special," East recalls. "There was a break to reload the cameras, and I just started playing the bass line of `Love TKO.' Ruben stepped up to the microphone to sing, and everyone in the room just stopped. I knew right then that we needed to have him sing this song on a Fourplay record, and when we asked him, he was very much up for it. The whole thing just came together so easily."
Mason, who has held down the groove for Fourplay since the very beginning, says time has done nothing to dull the edge. The band continues to explore new ways to reach for the next level of musicianship and creativity. "Let's Touch The Sky is the perfect title for where we are right now," he says. "In some ways, bringing someone new into the fold has made us a new band. It opens up new opportunities and new potential, and we want to see how high we can take it."
1. Let's Touch The Sky
2. 3rd Degree
3. More Than A Dream
4. Pineapple Getaway
5. I'll Still Be Lovin' You
6. Gentle Giant (for Hank)
7. A Night In Rio
8. Love TKO
9. Above and Beyond
10. Golden Faders
11. You're My Thrill
Bob James (keyboards and programing)
Nathan East (bass)
Chuck Loeb (guitar)
Harvey Mason (drums and percussion)
Guest vocalists: Anita Baker, Ruben Studdard
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Fred Schneider: Kess Kiss Bass ? (2005)

Fred Schneider is a bass prodigy. As he was 19, this French musician got increasingly interested in jazz and related musics: he got trained in ball bands, then he became a bass-player of the alternative jazz fanfare TOXICOMOON. His first solo album was recorded in 1996 under the name FRED AND CO, and released on the Musea Parallele label. Nine years later and after many collaborations, our man is back with a new instrumental album: "Kess Kiss Bass ?" (2005). This shows a cool and light music, kind of modern jazz-rock fusion leaving a large space for emotion. A touch of welcome humour appears here and there. Among the guest musicians, one could find the name of a certain Cyril Achard, from whom Fred Schneider often played with. This is an album that will definitely leave you in a good mood !
01. Thanx
02. Food Prince
03. An Elephant Never Forget
04. Medication
05. Sweet Link
06. Bifidus aktif
07. Pa by ma
08. At the Milk / ole!
09. Quizzland
10. Froggy Style
11. Couleur blue
12. Fanfare and Slap
13. Fripatronik
14. Jusko File
15. Hola dis mais hola
16. Zolifan
17. Muse et ame
Kess Kiss Bass ?
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Paolo Fresu 5et: Kosmopolites (2005)

Paolo Fresu Italian contemporary jazz trumpet and flugelhorn player, arranger and composer. He was born in 1961 in Berchidda, Sardinia.
Notable were his collaborations with Ralph Towner, Uri Caine, Carla Bley and many others.
Fresu also composes for movies, theater plays and other popular media.
His style is based on the Miles Davis hardbop sound of the 50's, but not being a mere imitation he draws inspiration from Mediterranean musical heritage and classical music.
1 In Viaggio
2 Kosmopolites
3 Spazi Provvisori 1
4 In Stretta Vicinanza
5 Calasetta
6 Hush Please!
7 Negi Occhi
8 Visions
9 Echoes 1
10 Spazi Provvisori 2
11 The Ride
12 Echoes 2
13 Variazione 12
14 The Silent Trade
15 Lascia Ch'io Pianga
Paolo Fresu, trumpet
Tino Tracanna, tenor & soprano sax
Roberto Cipelli, piano
Attilio Zanchi, double bass
Ettore Fioravanti, drums
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Bill Frisell: Beautiful Dreamers (2010)

'For a long time I'd had the dream of making a trio with Eyvind Kang and Rudy Royston. We've known each other for years and worked together in many situations. The idea came about as a result of the power and strength of the connection that happens when we play music together. It wasn't about the instruments, it was about the people. We played our first gig on June 7, 2008 in Eugene, Oregon and from the first note, it was working. Each time we get together the music feels new.....and old. Backwards and forwards. Up and down. Anything is possible. I can't wait to hear what happens next. Of course, the next thing on my mind was wishing, hoping we could make an album together of new music. I went to my friend Lee Townsend. Anyone familiar with my music needs no introduction to Lee. Over more than 20 years he has produced many of my albums. We were working together on another project at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley CA. and I started noticing the size, shape, sound, vibe of the room there. It was like it had been custom designed. The perfect set up and atmosphere to record this trio. The next thing I knew, we were in there recording and Savoy came along and wanted to put out the record! I'm so fortunate having the chance to play music with Eyvind and Rudy and having an audience willing to go along for the latest adventure. I'm the luckiest guy in the world being surrounded by all these folks who have so much faith and trust in the music, helping me to make my dreams come true. Beautiful dreamers.' - Bill Frisell
01) Love Sick (1:03)
02) Winslow Homer (3:32)
03) Beautiful Dreamer (for Karle Seydel) (3:02)
04) A Worthy Endeavor (for Cajori) (5:24)
05) It?s Nobody’s Fault But Mine (4:34)
06) Baby Cry (6:21)
07) Benny’s Bugle (3:31)
08) Tea For Two (4:28)
09) No Time To Cry (1:36)
10) Better Than A Machine (for Vic Chesnutt) (2:49)
11) Goin’ Out Of My Head (2:46)
12) Worried Woman (4:44)
13) Keep On The Sunny Side (2:26)
14) Sweetie (4:28)
15) All We Can Do (6:16)
16) Who Was That Girl? (6:14)
Beautiful Dreamers
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Charlie Hunter Trio: Copperopolis (2006)

As impressive as Charlie Hunter's mastery of his eight-string guitar is, it may not be as strong a mark of distinction as his success in devising an original jazz-funk sound in a genre long ruled by guitarist John Scofield. Since arriving on the scene from San Francisco in the mid-'90s, Hunter has gotten stuck in a rut or two, but as efforts like Copperopolis demonstrate, he has the rare ability to renew his sound. Recorded in New Orleans, a setting reflected by an unlikely second line take on Thelonious Monk's "Think of One," the album may be his most appealingly varied. Hunter and his regular cohorts, tenor saxist John Ellis and drummer Derrek Phillips, thrive on the usual shimmering grooves and sonic embellishments, but with Ellis adding melodica and Wutrlitzer to his bop-fueled attack, they attain a lighter, more coloristic quality. And when Hunter forgoes the textural touches to lay into a blues riff, lean and mean, they rock harder than ever. It's thinking man's fusion music for listeners who want more instant gratification than they can get from the jam-band scene.
More info:
1. Cueball Bobbin'... (7:06)
2. Frontman (5:39)
3. Swamba Redux (6:24)
4. Copperopolis (5:52)
5. Blue Sock (8:09)
6. The Pursuit Package (2:14)
7. A Street Fight Could Break Out (6:49)
8. Drop the Rock (6:26)
9. Think of One (5:20)
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Eric Leone: Outstanding (2002)

Eric Leone (a.k.a Eric Leone Pritchett) has virtually grown up surrounded by music. Inspired by his parents, Joseph Pritchett Sr., a self taught musician who also provides technical and logistical support, and Maggie Pritchett who teaches piano and gives spiritual support, he has thrived with his own musical career.
Eric is a graduate of the Hartford Conservatory School of Music where he studied jazz guitar. He is also a very accomplished pianist, drumist, bass guitarist, and saxophone player. After graduating from the Conservatory, Eric joined numerous R&B bands, including--The Touch Band, Floyd Patterson Jr. and Ring Side, Style, and Pizzazz.
Now Mr. Leone is taking all this experience as an instrumentalist/producer/songwriter to pursuit his own dream of a career as a smooth jazz entertainer.
Eric has two fundamental characteristics that best describe his music-- the elements of love and life. Love, the emotion that touches everyone's heart and Life, that which stimulates the mind.
Eric Leone's objective as an R & B smooth Jazz Artist is to have his music touch the hearts and souls of people all over the world.
01. Cool Breeze (4:19)
02. Better Days (4:36)
03. Outstanding (4:17)
04. Are You Ready (For Real Love) (4:16)
05. Can We Make Sweet Love Tonight (5:04)
06. How 'Bout Us (4:15)
07. Don't Stop (4:44)
08. Let's Chill (5:30)
09. When I Think About Love (4:35)
10. Old Fashion Love Affair (4:26)
11. You Don't Have To Worry (4:51)
Eric Leone Outstanding
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Ted Curson: Tears for Dolphy (1964/2010)

Although the term "avant-garde" is used several times in the liner notes, this quartet outing by trumpeter Ted Curson, tenor saxophonist Bill Barron, bassist Herb Bushler and drummer Dick Berk actually falls between hard bop and free bop. Curson and Barron in particular made for a potent team and their interplay on nine originals (five by Curson, four by Barron) is quite impressive, swinging and occasionally witty. This CD reissue brings back the entire Tears for Dolphy album plus three of the six songs from the Flip Top LP, all recorded the same day. Although the title cut does not live up to its potential, such tunes as "Kassim," "7/4 Funny Time," "Quicksand" and "Searchin' for the Blues" manage to be both explorative and surprisingly accessible.
1. Kassim 7:42
2. East 6th Street 5:48
3. 7/4 Funny Time 5:29
4. Tears for Dolphy 8:32
5. Quicksand 6:40
6. Reava's Waltz 7:10
7. Searchin' for the Blues 7:43
8. Desolation 8:41
9. Light Blue 3:39
Ted Curson — Trumpet
Bill Barron — Clarinet, Sax (Tenor)
Herb Bushler — Bass
Dick Berk — Drums
Tears for Dolphy
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Peter Muller: The Flow (2008)

Following the successful release of M-Vibez, his acclaimed debut in 2003, Peter Muller has produced his second solo session, The Flow. Over the past two decades, Muller has become recognized as a leading bass figure throughout Europe. Compiled in his own Wave Island studio in Germany and distributed under his own label Mullenium Records, Muller is joined by Frank Mead (sax, flute), Tim Cansfield (guitar), Tobias Neumann (keyboards), Christian Kappe (trumpet), Ulle Rode (guitar), Kristof Hinz (drums), and Tim Weller (drums) on 10 remarkable tracks which blend funk, contemporary jazz, r&b, and soul sounds. Utilizing his classic 1979 Fender Jazz bass, Muller articulates the punchy slap grooves and solos that bass enthusiasts have come to expect from Muller. In addition to the virtuoso slap bass playing, Muller also contributes fretless bass melodies, percussion, synthesizers, samples, and guitar tones to this release. While some sophomore productions fail to meet the expectations set forth by their predecessor, Muller's latest project delivers from start to finish. Although the bass is featured in a prominent role in each of these selections, you don't have to be a bassist to enjoy the depth of these compositions. If you are an aficionado of funk music, heavy grooves, or lead bass playing, The Flow is definitely worth checking out.
"The Chase"
"Lounge Creatures"
"Space Train"
"For Funk's Sake!"
"Chanson Triste"
"The Cruise"
Personnel: Peter Muller (Bass, Percussion, Rhodes, Organ, Clavinet, Synthesizers, Samples, Guitar), Frank Mead (Sax, Flute), Tim Cansfield (Guitar), Tobias Neumann (Keyboards), Christian Kappe (Trumpet), Ulle Rode (Guitar), Kristof Hinz (Drums), Tim Weller (Drums)
The Flow
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Szakcsi: Straight Ahead (1994)

Pianist Szakcsi found his initial fame playing new age, but this GRP CD shows that he was careful not to lose his jazz chops. In a trio with bassist Jay Leonhardt and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith (Tim Warfield guests on tenor during two songs), Szakcsi really challenged himself on this date, not only finding something fresh to say on "Body and Soul" and tackling Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners," but coming up with eight new songs, many of them hard-driving and all quite straight-ahead. The excellent release shows that, at least for some of its practitioners, there is life after new age. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
Szakcsi (piano),
Tim Warfield (tenor saxophone),
Jay Leonhardt (bass),
Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums)
1. Exit from Customary
2. Homage to Monk
3. Katalin
4. For Duke DuBois
5. Body and Soul
6. Brilliant Corners
7. Spring is Here
8. Prisms
9. Reminiscences
10. Straight Ahead
11. Solar
12. Conteplation from the Body and Soul
Straight ahead
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Terje Rypdal: Crime Scene (2010)

An exciting departure for ECM veteran Rypdal, this extended work, commissioned for the 2009 Bergen Festival, begins with a sound of swirling massed horns likely to bring Coltrane to mind. There is more than a hint of “Ascension” in the opening moments of “Crime Scene”, a work paced like a mystery thriller. The music surrounds the Rypdal quartet with Mikkelborg, Storlokken and Vinnaccia (all of whom recently appeared on the critically-acclaimed “Vossabrygg”) with a 17-piece jazz big band and keeps the action moving at a fast pace. Allaboutjazz reviewed the Bergen premiere: “Rypdal was in fine form...Whether he was playing with a slide or his fingers, his ice-edged tone was instantly recognizable. As was Mikkelborg's, who played trumpet (muted with a Harmon mute at times) and flugelhorn, and making clear his own reference point in Miles Davis...”
Terje Rypdal - electric guitar
Palle Mikkelborg - trumpet
Stale Storlokken - Hammond B-3 organ
Paolo Vinaccia - drums, sampling
Bergen Big Band
Olav Dale - conductor
1. Clint - The Menace
2. Prime Suspects
3. Don Rypero
4. Suspicious Behaviour
5. The Good Cop
6. Is That A Fact
7. Parli con me?!
8. The Criminals
9. Action
10. One Of Those
11. It’s Not Been Written Yet
12. Investigation
13. A Minor Incident
14. Crime Solved
Crime Scene
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James Moody: Hi Fi Party (1955)

For a period in the mid-'50s, tenor saxophonist James Moody (who doubled on alto) was able to keep together a swinging septet that played bop in a fairly accessible way. On this CD reissue of two 1955 sessions, Moody and his group (which includes the fine trumpeter Dave Burns, trombonist William Shepherd, baritone Pee Wee Moore, pianist Jimmy Boyd, bassist John Lathan, and drummer Clarence Johnson) perform swinging versions of fairly obscure originals including the lengthy 'Jammin' With James' (which has a long tradeoff between Moody and Burns), Benny Golson's 'Big Ben,' and 'There Will Never Be Another You.' The highpoint is Eddie Jefferson's one appearance, singing his alternate lyrics to Charlie Parker's famous solo on 'Lady Be Good' which he renamed 'Disappointed'.
1. There Will Never Be Another You 3:49
2. Hard to Get 4:03
3. Disappointed 6:19
4. Big Ben 4:16
5. Little Ricky 3:54
6. Show Eyes 4:22
7. Little John 4:20
8. And You Called My Name 4:10
9. Jammin' With James 11:36
James Moody — Sax (Alto), Sax (Tenor)
Numa Moore — Sax (Baritone)
William Shepherd — Trombone
Dave Burns — Trumpet
Jimmy Boyd — Piano
John Latham — Bass
Clarence Johnson — Drums
Eddie Jefferson — Vocals
Rudy Van Gelder — Engineer
Hi Fi Party
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alex Sipiagin: Generations - Dedicated to Woody Shaw (2010)

With Generations, his eighth Criss Cross outing as a leader, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin honors the legacy of the great Woody Shaw, reimaging five stellar pieces from Shaw’s repertoire and balancing the progam with four originals. The quartet lineup here (Sipiagin, guitarist Adam Rogers, bassist Boris Kozlov, drummer Antonio Sanchez) at one time formed the core of the brilliant Michael Brecker Sextet. Together, these four players bring years worth of mutual collaborative experience to the music at hand.
Woody Shaw himself appeared just once on Criss Cross, lending his extraordinary horn voice to Introducing Kenny Garrett (Criss 1014) in 1985. Shaw’s influence has long been implicit in Sipiagin’s laying – not only in the Russian-born trumpeter’s work as a leader, but also in his scorching solos with Dave Holland’s Big Band and Octet, the Mingus Big Band, the late Michael Brecker’s Sextet and Quindectet and many more.
With Generations Sipiagin makes his debt to Shaw more explicit, but he approaches these canonical works with his own individuality and imagination foremost in mind, in the determined spirit of Shaw’s song title: Beyond All Limits.
1.Greenwood I (Alex Sipiagin)
2.Obsequious (Lester Young)
3.Cassandranite (Woody Shaw)
4.Beyond All Limits (Woody Shaw)
5.Windy Bahn (Alex Sipiagin)
6.Katrina Ballerina (Woody Shaw)
7.Chance (Alex Sipiagin)
8.Blues For Wood (Woody Shaw / Ronnie Mathews)
9.Greenwood II (Alex Sipiagin)
Alex Sipiagin (Tp / Flh)
Adam Rogers (G)
Boris Kozlov (B)
Antonio Sanchez (D)
Generations - Dedicated to Woody Shaw
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Herbie Hancock: Thrust (1974)

The follow-up to the breakthrough Headhunters album was virtually as good as its wildly successful predecessor: an earthy, funky, yet often harmonically and rhythmically sophisticated tour de force. There is only one change in the Headhunters lineup -- swapping drummer Harvey Mason for Mike Clark -- and the switch results in grooves that are even more complex. Hancock continues to reach into the rapidly changing high-tech world for new sounds, most notably the metallic sheen of the then-new ARP string synthesizer which was already becoming a staple item on pop and jazz-rock records.
Again, there are only four long tracks, three of which ("Palm Grease," "Actual Proof," "Spank-A-Lee") concentrate on the funk, with plenty of Hancock's wah-wah clavinet, synthesizer textures and effects, and electric piano ruminations that still venture beyond the outer limits of post-bop. The change-of-pace is one of Hancock's loveliest electric pieces, "Butterfly," a match for any tune he's written before or since, with shimmering synth textures and Bennie Maupin soaring on soprano (Hancock would re-record it 20 years later on Dis Is Da Drum, but this is the one to hear). This supertight jazz-funk quintet album still sounds invigorating a quarter of a century later.
01. Palm Grease
02. Actual Proof
03. Butterfly
04. Spank-A-Lee
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Paul Motian: Lost in a Dream (2010)

Once in a while, a jazz recording seems to announce itself as a "classic" from the first moment. Lost In A Dream is one such album. It documents the birth of a great new project, captured live at New York's celebrated Village Vanguard, with repertoire emphasizing Paul Motian's wonderful ballad writing. New Motian tunes are juxtaposed with older ones, and a free exploration of Irving Berlin's "Be Careful It's My Heart" completes a program distinguished by gloriously supple playing from all three participants who are in tune at a high level. Or, as the New York Times noted, reviewing the concerts from which this album was drawn: "The accumulated wisdom within the band was clear." Master drummer Motian (born 1931) is heard here with two much younger musicians: saxophonist Potter (born 1971, and with whom he shares already a long playing history), and pianist Moran (born 1975, with whom he had worked only once previously, in the context of a gig with violinist Jenny Scheinman in 2006). Motian noted Moran's particular idiosyncrasies and waited for the right context to deploy them, - he was especially taken with Moran's strong and active left hand figures which, in a trio context, could dispense with the necessity for a bassist. There is a cragginess in Jason Moran's piano playing that testifies to deep roots in Thelonious Monk, a quality that Motian - who played with Monk in the 1950s - was bound to identify with. Motian has a Monkish sense of stubborn independence: he remains the most unpredictable of drummers. In the flowing ballads of Lost In A Dream, Motian is as much a sound painter as a time-keeper. There is a lot of space in the music, used brilliantly by all three players. Chris Potter, long recognised as the one of the most outstanding saxophonists of his generation, delivers an extraordinarily inspired performance in the trio, playing with great emotional conviction. Each of the three musicians has a dedicated following. Moran's listenership has been expanded recently through much roadwork with Charles Lloyd's quartet (Lloyd's critically-hailed Rabo De Nube was Moran's ECM debut).
01. Mode VI (5:09)
02. Casino (8:05)
03. Lost In A Dream (6:39)
04. Blue Midnight (6:09)
05. Be Careful It’s My Heart (2:58)
06. Birdsong (6:52)
07. Ten (4:30)
08. Drum Music (6:07)
09. Abacus (4:26)
10. Cathedral Song (6:29)
Chris Potter – tenor saxophone
Jason Moran – piano
Paul Motian – drums
Lost in a Dream
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Bobby McFerrin: Beyond Words (2002)

Creative vocalist Bobby McFerrin's return to Blue Note after a nearly ten-year absence indicates a possible desire for a return to improvised jazz, and in a way distancing himself from the classical works he had become increasingly associated with. Working again with pianist Chick Corea and producer Linda Goldstein, his 2002 album, Beyond Words, is reminiscent of the other McFerrin/Corea collaborations (Play, The Mozart Sessions), but somehow these mostly improvised works lack the spark that their previous partnerships have created. Ably backed by Corea's bright piano, Omar Hakim on drums, and Richard Bona on bass, the songs feel to be all the same texture for the most part, never reaching any kind of a peak throughout the album. Beyond Words is a moody and dark affair, with subtle layers of McFerrin's undulating vocals weaving in and out of the musical bed, but instead of sounding earthy and natural, the album is punctuated by synthesized instruments that pull the recordings dangerously close to smooth jazz territory. Unfortunately, by taking one of the most articulate players of man's earliest instrument and layering it in slick, fretless basslines and synthetic Roland XP-80 chords, it almost defeats the purpose of hearing his voice altogether. Still, it is an excellently performed and cleanly produced document of both McFerrin and Corea's abilities, ideal for gentle background textures on a night in alone. -- AMG
01. Invocation (Goldstein/McFerrin) — 7:10
02. Kalimba Suite (McFerrin) — 3:40
03. A Silken Road (McFerrin) — 4:28
04. Fertile Field (Goldstein/McFerrin) — 5:44
05. Dervishes (McFerrin) — 2:15
06. Ziggurat (Goldstein/McFerrin) — 5:20
07. Sisters (McFerrin) — 1:22
08. Circlings (McFerrin) — 1:14
09. Chanson (McFerrin) — 1:30
10. Windows (Corea) — 4:01
11. Marlowe (McFerrin) — 4:08
12. Mass (McFerrin) — 2:40
13. Pat & Joe (McFerrin) — 2:11
14. Taylor Made (McFerrin) — 4:22
15. A Piece, a Chord (McFerrin) — 3:46
16. Monks/The Shepherd (McFerrin) — 2:48
Beyond Words
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Brian Bromberg: Plays Jimi Hendrix (2010)

As one of the most prolific and commercially successful solo bassists for over the past two decades, Brian Bromberg has released a diverse collection of recordings spanning straight-ahead and contemporary jazz, rock, fusion, and funk genres. Following tributes to bass icon Jaco Pastorius and Antonio Carlos Jobim, Brian Bromberg returns with his latest dedication, Plays Jimi Hendrix. Backed by the legendary Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and utilizing conventional bass playing techniques on standard 34-inch scale basses tuned to the register of an electric guitar, the Grammy-nominated bass virtuoso has issued an astounding compilation of Hendrix's greatest hits. Bromberg's performance as a guitar player is so convincing that if you weren't aware the guitar parts were actually recorded by a bassist on piccolo basses, you would never be able to distinguish the difference. Because Bromberg is employing basses tuned like a guitar and articulating all of the phrases with his fingers rather than a pick, he is able to deliver a much warmer and deeper sound than what his guitar-playing counterparts can produce. While the bass is featured prominently in each of these selections, you don't have to be a bass enthusiast to enjoy the spirit and depth of these arrangements because the musicality of these compositions extends beyond an audience of only bass aficionados. This production is much more than just a tribute to the music of Jimi Hendrix. It captures the same level of raw energy and emotion that has characterized all of Bromberg's recordings ever since his debut as a solo artist. On Plays Jimi Hendrix, Bromberg continues to redefine the role of the bass and broaden its dimensions. Currently available only in Japan, this project contains 11 brilliant arrangements of classic tracks including "Fire," "Spanish Castle Magic," "Purple Haze," "Manic Depression," "The Wind Cries Mary," "Voodoo Child," "Freedom," "All Along The Watchtower," "Foxey Lady," "Hey Joe," and "Crosstown Traffic."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Froy Aagre: Cycle of Silence (2010)

This is the ACT label's debut for Norwegian saxophonist Froy Aagre, an Oslo-based artist who studied classical, jazz and gamelan music in Birmingham, tango in Buenos Aires, and saxophone with Dave Liebman in New York. She plays pensive soprano sax throughout on this album of her own pieces, with a piano trio and occasional help from french horn, trombone, and cello. Delicately floating dances over soft, two-note repeats swell into mournful brass-cushioned songs; distant brass chords underpin Jan Garbarek-like wisps and curls of soprano melody; and Aagre's purity of tone and sensuous elisions make her most cryptic figures persuasive. She writes hauntingly harmonised ensemble passages for bassist Audun Ellingsen and pianist Andreas Ulvo, and though much of the music is reflective, there are shyly frivolous themes as well, giving way to looping piano and bass patterns for the soprano to drift over. It's meticulously crafted, in some ways typically Nordic chamber-jazz with a liberal dose of classical music's precision of phrasing, but for all its apparent frailty, Aagre's composing leaves an impression that ripples on long after the disc has stopped spinning.
01. Steam Train 03:59
02. Long Distance 05:59
03. Words On An Envelope 06:43
04. Atoms 04:50
05. Lost Connection 03:33
06. Siberia 06:40
07. Slow Motion 04:03
08. View From Venus 05:00
09. Cycle Of Silence 08:14
10. Neverending Journey 03:08
Cycle of Silence
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Erik Truffaz: The Mask (2000)

The French have had a love affair with Miles Davis going back to his score for the 1957 film Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud. But French native and popular trumpeter-composer Eric Truffaz takes admiration to new levels on his U.S. debut, a compilation of tracks from his Blue Note France albums Out of a Dream, The Dawn, and Bending New Corners. Using familiar components of Miles's hotly debated 1970s sound (Agharta, Big Fun, On the Corner)--including muted trumpet, graceful figures, cerebral melodies, and atmospheric electric piano--Truffaz appears as a talented clone. But his music is redeemed by its very assimilation of Miles's style and elegance. Truffaz and his expressive quintet write evocative compositions rife with darkly gorgeous melodies, performed in a variety of contemporary styles. Quasi drum and bass fills "Bending New Corners" and "Betty"; whisper-funk imbues "The Dawn"; a springy groove straight from Sorcerer supports the elastic "Arroyo"; free-form noodling fills "Less"; and drum and bass noodling fills "More." Truffaz plays sumptuously on the eerie ballads "Wet in Paris" and "And." Many American acts sound flat and stiff when attempting this Milesian hipster style, but Truffaz and Co. pull it off with deft twirls. --Ken Micallef
01. Sweet Mercy (2:07)
02. Arroyo (6:26)
03. More (6:10)
04. Less (3:55)
05. No Choice (7:09)
06. Mask (4:15)
07. Dawn (5:45)
08. Betty (4:14)
09. Bending New Corners (8:10)
10. Minaret (5:57)
11. And (10:13)
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Simon Goulding: Familia (2010)

The new studio album by UK Bassist Simon Goulding. A mixture of Jazz/Fusion/Latin-Jazz. Draws heavily on Cuban influences from Rumba to Songo and beyond. Featuring Adam Linsley - Trumpet & Flugelhorn, Mat Sibley - Tenor Sax, Alan Wormald - Guitar, Nik Harrison - Guitar,  Andy Blakeley - Timbales on selected tracks.
Simon Goulding had performed/recorded with the Bee Gees, Englebert Humperdink, Joe Longthorne, Rick Astley, Peter Kay, Rene Froger, Ronan Keating, PP Arnold, Freddie Starr, Jovenes Clasicos Del Son, Tony Christie, David Essex, The London Community Gospel Choir, Sheila Ferguson, Peter Grant to name but a few. On his new album Familia, Simon plays, 5 & 6 string basses, EUB (electric upright bass), Keyboards, Drum & synth programming, Percussion, clave & Berimbau.
"The album is about drawing on my memories of Family past & present here and in Cuba and the experiences we've been through. with the 1st track 'Familia' (Family) setting the scene and the final track 'Mirando al futuro' (Looking to the future) saying where we would like to be in the future. I would say the album is HEAVILY influenced by Cuban music (Emiliano Salvador, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Los Van Van, Mezcla, Irakere) aswell as my love of Jazz/Rock (Miles Davis, Weather Report, Steps Ahead, Lee Ritenour's Friendship Group, YellowJackets, Lifetime). I wanted to portray all of these throughout the album".
1. Familia
2. Galeria
3. Bass Face
4. Calle Obispo
5. East Side Drop
6. A Love Like Ours
7. Looking Over
8. Lindsey
9. Parque Central
10. Hurricane Season
11. Beach House
12. Mirando Al Futuro
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bob James & David Sanborn: Double Vision (1986)

David Sanborn's saxophone complements Bob James' keyboards perfectly on the appropriately titled DOUBLE VISION. Sanborn, James, and bassist Marcus Miller all contribute compositions, and the listener encounters a wonderful variety of musical styles throughout the album's seven tracks. DOUBLE VISION opens on its highest note with Miller's "Maputo," a lush and moody song that highlights Sanborn's skills and sets the pace for the rest of the recording.
Miller also penned the romantic "More than Friends". James and Sanborn join compositional forces on "Moon Tune" and "Never Enough." Sanborn contributes the popular "It's You," a tune that features James prominently. "Maputo" may be the DOUBLE VISION's instrumental highlight, but Al Jarreau's vocal on "Since I Fell for You" is the album's romantic peak. This 1986 collaboration ranks top among contemporary jazz albums.
01. Maputo
02. More Than Friends
03. Moon Tune
04. Since I Fell For You
05. It's You
06. Never Enough
07. You Don't Know Me
Bob James - keyboards
David Sanborn - alto saxophone
Al Jarreau - vocal on track 4
Paul Milton Jackson, Jr. - guitar
Paulinho Da Costa - percussion
Marcus Miller - bass
Steve Gadd - drums
Eric Gale - guitar
Double Vision
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