Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eric Dolphy in Europe

I really need to do another serious post on Eric Dolphy.  I think that Dolphy is one of the great geniuses of his period and that, had he lived longer, he might have rivaled Trane.  Here is a previous post that might be of interest to anyone interested in Dolphy. 

Tonight I chanced to listen to 'Laura' from Eric Dolphy in Europe, Vol. 2.  I am playing it on my station.  Here is the lineup: 
The band is lackluster, but that hardly matters.  Dolphy's playing is all that one could imagine and more.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

JD Allen

I am not sure yet what to think about JD Allen's new album: Victory!  The title cut is a fine Allen composition, however, and I have posted it to my L365 station.  Rudy Royston plays drums and Gregg August is on bass.  For a full review of the album, see All About Jazz.  I am also playing 'Shine', from the album of the same name. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Miles, Trane, & Stitt

One Miles box set that doesn't get nearly the recognition it deserves is Miles Davis in Stockholm 1960 Complete with John Coltrane and Sonny Stitt.  This covers two concerts, several months apart.  I am playing 'All Blues' from the first disc.  A lot of the commentary focuses on the contrast between Coltrane and Stitt.  Guess who wins? 

Anyway, I think that this is the most penetrating and compelling version of the composition that I have heard.  The Trio behind the horns is Wynton Kelley on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Jimmy Cobb on drums. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mark Turner

After I wrote the last post, I went back and listened to Mark Turner's recording, Yam Yam.  Wow, but was that worth a listen.  Pure joy.  The sound was evocative, but as usually I was not certain what spirits were being evoked.  I think I heard some Herbie Hancock here and some Wayne Shorter.  Maybe Shorter with Herbie Hancock behind him or vice versa. 

The album features a quartet, with Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar, Brad Mehldau on piano, and Jorge Rossy on drums.  I note Rossy's presence on Reid Anderson's Dirty Show Tunes.  I also confess that I fell in love with Mehldau a couple of summers ago, but I have lost touch.  I have to go back to the Art of the Trio Recordings. 

I am playing 'Tune Number One' from Yam Yam.  That is enough for now.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Reid Anderson

Reid Anderson plays bass for the very interesting group Bad Plus.  He has at least three albums as leader that I have been fond of for some time: Abolish Bad Architecture, Dirty Show Tunes, and The Vastness of Space.  Right now I am playing 'Granada' from the first on that list.  Here is the lineup:
  1. Ethan Iverson (piano) 
  2. Reid Anderson (bass)
  3.  Mark Turner (tenor sax) and
  4.  Jeff Ballard (drums)
Iverson and Turner are the best known of the group.  Iverson sports a very unique style and has a number of excellent recordings of his own.  Turner is a fine tenor with a classical touch.  The cut is simply marvelous.  

I am also playing 'Imagination is Important' from Dirty Show Tunes.  Jordi Rossy replaces Ballard on drums. 

These three albums are a nice collection for your collection.  All, I think, are available from eMusic. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Miles Live @ the Blackhawk

The two most valuable Miles Davis box sets (of those that I have) are: 1) The Legendary Prestige Quintet Recordings and 2) Live at the Plugged Nickel.   If you have those two, you have big chunk of music from both of Miles' great quintets.  I would add that the former is much less important if you already have the individual albums released from those sessions.  

What comes next?  Almost certainly it would be Miles In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, Complete (Columbia, 2003).  This box contains four CDs recorded on April 21st and 22nd of 1961.  The Blackhawk was a great venue and the location of some very great jazz recordings.  This album is fine sample of Miles between his two quintets.  Here is the lineup:
Chambers and Cobb remain from the Kind of Blue album.  Hank Mobley fills the sax chair.  He gets some bad press for his work with Miles, but I can't hear any problems other than the fact that his name isn't John Coltrane.  Wynton Kelly is a superb hard bop piano player and he does a fine job here.  His work on the above cut is toe curling good. 

I am playing 'No Blues' from the first disc in the set.  If this doesn't recharge your smart phone, I don't know what will. 

I am also playing 'Softly As In a Morning Sunrise' from Wynton Kelly's  Kelly Blue.  This is just the rhythm section from the above album, recorded in 1959. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Joe Henderson Lush Life

I was in a Joe Henderson mood, so I uploaded a piece from Lush Life (The Music of Billy Strayhorn): 'Blood Count'.  

  • Joe Henderson, tenor
  • Wynton Marsalis, trumpet
  • Stephen Scott, piano
  • Christian McBride, bass
  • Gregory Hutchinson, drums

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Energy & Ecstasy of Tim Berne

Tim Berne's great double album, The Sublime and Science Fiction Live, is one of those pieces of music that sat on my iPod for a long time before I managed to listen to all of it.  I just couldn't quite hear it.  Mr. Berne ought not to consider that an insult.  The same thing happened when I first listened to Brahms' First Piano Concerto, a piece of music I later came to deeply love. 

I am not calling Berne Brahms just yet, but there is definitely a modern classical element to his compositions.  A lot of his music earns the Science Friction title, as if a bebop box set had been captured and dissected by an extra-terrestrial quartet.  Okay, but there's power in that there saucer. 

I have been playing 'The Shell Game' from the above named recording, and right now it is sporting a five star approval.  Here is the lineup from Discogs:
I shelled out for another Berne Album, The Shell Game. Amazon is only charging about four bucks for it.  I note that Matthew Ship is listed as a producer.  Here is the trio:
  • Berne on alto, 
  • Craig Taborn on keyboards and sci-fi, and 
  • Tom Rainey on drums.  
Wow do I like that number.  Like a lot of Berne's music, it reminds me of Ken Vandermark and especially of the DKV Trio recordings.  It is avant garde in structure, a linear melody line that never quite closes.  But it builds in emotional intensity the way the best DKV compositions do: contradicting the commonplace that what goes up must come down.  This album is superb.  Buy it.  I did. 

Jason Crane has an interview with Tim Berne on his marvelous podcast show The Jazz Session.  I haven't listened to it yet, but that's on the agenda for this weekend.  I find myself enjoying an embarrassment of riches where jazz is concerned.  Check out Jason's page.  Tell'im Blanchard sent ya.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Miles Live at the Plugged Nickel

Miles Davis' Plugged Nickel recording might represent his most profound statement on the avant garde idea.  I wouldn't call the recording avant garde, but that is precisely the point.  Miles explored the avant garde idea while remaining just barely within the hard bop tradition.  

Miles' second great quintet included Wayne Shorter on tenor, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and the brilliant Tony Williams on drums.  They play a series of standards, many of them from the earlier quintet, but what a difference!  They cut up and dissect each part of a melody, squeezing out all the juice and laying out all the veins and organs.  

I am playing two consecutive numbers: 'Round Midnight' and 'Milestones.'  Both are brilliant club jazz documents.  This is a superb box set, a monumental statement at the center of modern jazz. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Miles Davis in a Box

I need to get back in  touch with my masthead.  Miles Davis is at the center of it all, I announce.  Well, why?  The great Miles Davis box sets have the answer.  I began my serious jazz recording with the first Miles Davis Quintet.  Workin', Cookin', Steamin' and Relaxin'.  I still think that this is one of the most successful bodies of work in modern jazz.  

All four recordings and a lot of extra stuff is included in the Legendary Prestige Quintet Recordings.   This is a box you want next to the stereo.  I am playing my single favorite cut from the box: 'My Funny Valentine.'  The Quintet includes Miles and John Coltrane, along with the most famous rhythm section in modern jazz: Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums.  

I'll be posting more on Miles.  Enjoy. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

More Osby (& Moran)

Greg Osby's Banned in New York is probably his magnum opus so far, but there is a lot more ore here to mine.  Tonight I have been listening to Channel Three, a trio album with Matt Brewer on bass and Jeff Watts on percussion.  I hadn't heard it until now.  It is majestic.  Joe Henderson's State of the Tenor comes to mind.  I am playing the first cut, an Ornette Coleman composition entitled 'Mob Job'.  

To reconnect to the Jason Moran/Greg Osby theme, I have also been listening to New Directions.  This remarkable recording has Osby on alto, Mark Shim on tenor, Moran on Piano, Stefon Harris on vibes, Tarus Mateen on bass, and Nasheet Waits on drums.  If you are looking for an imaginative and superbly crafted version of jazz hits, have I got an album for you mon frere.  I am playing 'Theme from Blowup', a well known Herbie Hancock composition.  It's very Hancock, except for being completely different.  Get the album.  You'll love their interpretation of Lee Morgan's 'Sidewinder'.  

Finally, I have a couple cuts from Osby's Inner Circle.  Osby, Moran, Harris, and Mateen again, with Eric Harland on drums.  Every note is surprising.  I am playing 'Equalatogram' and 'All Neon Like'.  The first features a marvelous interplay between Harris and Moran.  The second is soulful and delicate. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Greg Osby & Jason Moran

I am adding a new piece from Greg Osby's fine recording Banned In New York.  The album has very "in the club" atmosphere, which Glenn Astarita explains in his review at All About Jazz.  
“Banned in New York” is Greg Osby’s 4th Blue Note release and was recorded live at an undisclosed venue in New York City. A surprisingly good recording considering the lone piece of equipment was a “mini-disk recorder” placed on a table in front of the band. Nevertheless, Osby and his exceptional band flaunt their range of musical gifts on this fast paced up-beat excursion.
Jason Moran plays piano; Atsushi Osada is on bass and Rodney Green is on drums.  I posted the Ellington classic 'I didn't know about you'.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jason Moran 2

Jason Moran is filling up my listening time right now.  Black Stars (see my last post) is a superb recording on its own, let alone as one more sample of Sam Rivers.  Tonight I am listening to his debut album Soundtrack to Human Motion.  This is the real thing, mon amis.  Here is the description from All About Jazz:

Innovative altoist Greg Osby, who gave Moran his start, served as his mentor, and produced this disc, appears as the sole horn. Joining Osby are Stefon Harris on vibes, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. The entire ensemble is featured only on "Gangsterism on Canvas," "Still Moving," and "Aquanaut." Harris sits out for "Snake Stance," Osby for "Retrograde." Moran shifts to piano trio mode for "JAMO Meets SAMO," "Release From Suffering," and "States of Art," which begins with a solo rendition of Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin." The album closes with "Root Progression," a stellar duet between Moran and a soprano-blowing Osby. Moran employs his players very wisely, varying the combinations so that the sound of the record is never static, always in motion.
Smack in the middle of the program, Moran plays a solo piece called "Kinesics." As I listened, an historical panorama of solo jazz piano came into view. Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk; somehow Moran encompasses them all and utters a marvelous fin de si├Ęcle statement on jazz past and future, in a harmonic language all his own.
That's more than I am equipped to say.  I am playing 'Gangsterism on Canvas', which includes the entire ensemble.  Anything with Greg Osby on sax is worth listening to.  I am also playing 'Retrograde'.  No Osby, but a very interesting dialogue between Moran and vibes player Stefon Harris.
This album is a must have for any respectable collection. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jason Moran & Sam Rivers

I am listening to Jason Moran's Black Stars (2001).  Here is the trio:
 Joining the trio is Sam Rivers on sax and flute.  I haven't the energy tonight to comment more on the music, but I am getting my money's worth.  I have uploaded 'Earth Song'.