Saturday, July 20, 2013

Trio 3 is killer jazz

I am a big fan of jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille, bass player Reggie Workman, and horn master Oliver Lake, so I can’t help buying up the recordings of the Trio 3.  This week I got Open Ideas.  It’s a pretty good example of avant garde on the more accessible end.  I am playing ‘Casino,’ which features some vocal chants.  I don’t know who is chanting, but I love the slow blues.  I am also playing ‘Hooray for Herbie’. 
So I might as well add more.  I am playing ‘Crooked Blues’, a splendid number that will appeal to hard bop fans.  It is from the album Encounter.  Lake’s horn is lavish and seductive.  Workman rides over Cyrille’s beat like he knows more than you know about the heart.  Finally, I added a number from At This Time, by The Trio 3 Plus Geri Allen. 
All three albums are superb.  Nail ‘em down.  

Saturday, July 6, 2013


After years of mining the Penguin Guide to Jazz (may it be praised!), the lode is still not exhausted.  I chanced upon the entry for Albert Mangelsdorff just the day as I was trying to figure out where to invest my remaining monthly eMusic bucks. 
What a find!  Mangelsdorff (1928-2005) was a trombonist.  As I am fond of the lower horns, I gave him a listen.  In short order I bought a couple of his recordings.  The live set Triplicity (1979) features Arild Andersen on double bass and Pierre Favre on drums.  Believe you me, these guys had the fire.  This unusual trio of instruments allows the trombone and the bass to fully vocalize and grab at your bones.  Anderson in particular is magnificent.  There is a bird theme here that I don’t quite get, but let’s give it some time. 
I am playing the title cut and ‘Green Shades Into Blue’. 
The other disc is Now Jazz Ramwong (1964).  This is an unbelievable gem by the Albert Mangelsdorff Quintet.  There are a lot of eastern themes here.  The overall dimension is a hard bop/avant garde stretch, with a large ensemble feel.  The energy keeps you rolling all the way to the end.  If you like the guttural feel of every bass thump and horn snort, you will like this one. 

I am playing the title cut (also heard in the clip above) and ‘Three Jazz Moods’.  I’m telling you, if you miss this one you have missed something.  

ps. I should note that Mangelsdorff plays on two John Lindberg albums I have been playing.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bill Mays & Red Mitchell

A while back I posted some video clips from a PBS special that I saw and recorded back in the 1980’s.  At least, I think they are clips from that video.  Anyway, I watched and recorded a duet with Bill Mays on piano and Red Mitchell on bass.  I seem to recall that it was the first time I was able to record audio from television onto my cassette deck.  I listened to that recording over and over.  It was one of those formative moments in my life as a jazz listener.  The simple duet, with Mitchell’s gorgeous thump and Mays’ bright keys, presented the basic jazz idea to me in a way that I couldn’t miss it. 
Around that same time I noticed an album by Mays and Mitchell in a record store, but just couldn’t afford it.  I have looked for it ever since and today I found it on eMusic.  It’s Two of a Mind, and it brings the hair up on the back of my neck.  It is very well recorded.  Mitchel could make a bass talk the talk while he walks the walk.  I love bass sound and Mitchel can make one note extend like layered biscuit while another vibrates like a tightrope under the feet of someone desperately trying to reach the post. 
Mays combines a pensive mood reminiscent of Bill Evans with a staccato brightness that is all his own.  He surrounds the drama of the bass with the lights, tables, and cocktails.  Then they get to dialogue.  The exchange is exquisite and compelling. 
This is a superb duet.  You can get it for less than three flippin’ dollars from eMusic.  I also bought a Mays Trio recording, Summer Sketches.  I’ll probably be playing something from that soon.  Meanwhile, from Two of a Mind I am playing ‘Well You Needn’t,’ and ‘All Blues’.