Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz - Downbeat Review 1962

Recorded on this day back in 1960 was Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz. Here is the review that appeared in the January 18, 1962 issue of Down Beat. In order to provide a rounded view, Down Beat published tow reviews - the first by Pete Welding and the second by John Tynan. More vintage magazine articles can be found here.
Down Beat Magazine Review

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Don Cherry: Down Beat Feature 1963

LeRoi Jones' (Amiri Baraka) feature on Don Cherry (b. Nov 18, 1936) from the November 21, 1963 issue of Down Beat Magazine. Click on image to view full article as PDF. Here are more vintage magazine articles.
Amiri Baraka LeRoi Jones Down Beat Magazine

Thursday, November 05, 2015

New Links Page Added

I have added a new page of Jazz Links featuring radio stations, research journals, magazine, blogs, podcasts and discographies. The link will live in the "Pages" tab at the top of the left sidebar. I plan to keep adding to the page as I find sites of interest. Let me know if you hit broken links.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Recent Listening: Late Sept-Early Oct

Solomon Ilori and his Afro-Drum Ensemble: African High Life (Blue Note). I was on the lookout for Art Blakey's The African Beat when I came across this recording from 1964.

Evan Parker & Han Bennink: The Grass Is Greener (PSI). Although this album has its moments, I haven't really been able to get into it just yet. That won't stop me to returning to it though.

Charlie Parker: The Complete Live Performances on Savoy (Savoy). Mostly I've been listening to the 1947 Carnegie Hall tracks with Dizzy, John Lewis (pretty well off-mic), Al McKibbon and Joe Harris. Bird's tone is nicely captured, and Dizzy has plenty of fire. Bird's break on "Groovin' High" always gives me a kick.

Mike Nock: Talisman (Enja). A lovely late-70s solo piano outing from Nock that I picked up earlier this year. This one was accompanying me as I waited to get a couple of Mike's more recent albums (more on them to come later).

Various: The Birth of the Third Stream (Columbia). This one had been on my list for a while and I've been playing tracks from it over the last few weeks (in fact, it's playing as I write this post). It's a little annoying that they weren't able to squeeze two of the tracks from Music for Brass onto the CD. Worth checking out if you haven't (particularly for arrangers/composers).

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mike Nock Interview: Cadence July 1992

As a youngster just getting into jazz, Mike Nock (b. Sept 27, 1940) was the first New Zealand jazz musician I was aware of who had "made it." As I await the arrival of his latest album (Two-Out - a duo with Roger Manins released on Mike's label FWM Records) I've been listening to his 1978 solo recording Talisman and right now I'm downloading Kindred from Bandcamp. Earlier in the week he was interviewed by Eva Radich on Radio New Zealand's Upbeat program (you can download the audio here). While we are at it, here's an interview with Mike from the July 1992 issue of Cadence Magazine (click on image to open the full interview as a PDF).
More magazine articles can be found here. Happy Birthday Mike!

New Zealand Jazz

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Coltrane on Coltrane - Down Beat September 1960

The preparation of this post was accompanied by Coltrane's "classic quartet" performance of "Out of this World" at the Showboat in Philadelphia in 1963 - someone had posted it to Facebook (via Youtube) and it seemed like the right choice as I got his birthday post together. In this article from the September 29, 1960 issue of Down Beat, John Coltrane (along with Don DeMicheal) speaks of the influence of Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie and Earl Bostic; his tenure with Thelonious Monk before returning to Miles Davis (as Miles started working with modality) as well as some of his harmonic concepts. Coltrane mentions he recently purchased a soprano saxophone but that he is not satisfied with his tone just yet - we all know that feeling!
Here's a list of links to previous vintage articles.
Down Beat Magazine September 1960

Coltrane on Coltrane

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Straight Horning: Only Monk - More Monk

Thelonious MonkOver the last few weeks a couple of Soul Note releases from Steve Lacy - Only Monk and More Monk (from 1985 & 1989 respectively) - have been getting plenty of airtime around the apartment. I've been working on a few of Monk's melodies and aside of Thelonious' recordings (including Brilliant Corners, Monk Alone, Monk's Dream, and selected Blue Note tracks) my next point of call were these two solo albums from Lacy (followed by a few others such as We See and Reflections).

Thelonious MonkAnyone interested in Monk's music needs to check out Lacy's truly personal approach to this music. For me, Lacy boils things down to the essentials. Not that his playing is minimalist, but there is a stripped-back quality to Lacy's music that appeals to me. Notes never go to waste as he dives deep into the tune. He never seems in a hurry and the improvisations unfold in surprising ways, yet naturally - not forced. For those not familiar with his own compositions, this may be more evident when he plays Monk tunes (perhaps even more so on these solo recordings).

It's hard to play favourites with these two equally solid albums. If you can only go for one, just pick the album with the tunes you prefer.

I would love to hear Eronel from 1979, which I think is Lacy's first solo album to feature an all-Monk playlist. My fingers are crossed for a re-issue to appear.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cannonball Adderley feature in Down Beat 1959

This feature on Cannonball Adderley (b. Sept 15, 1928) was Barbara Gardner's first column for Down Beat. According to John Gennari's Blowing Hot and Cool she was the first African American woman on a national jazz magazine. Click image to view full article as PDF. More vintage magazine articles can be found here.

Down Beat Magazine

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Sonny Rollins: Down Beat Magazine July 1958

Here's a feature article on Sonny Rollins from the July 10, 1958 issue of Down Beat magazine. Rollins talks of the struggle of juggling the facets of his career - performances, composing, organising bands etc and still finding time to practice regularly (2 hours per day). He mentions that he is writing a concerto for tenor saxophone (whatever happened to that!) and his desire to take a break from the scene (which would eventuate the following year) as well as working with strings and/or a big band (mentioning Gil Evans specially) and ultimately performing unaccompanied saxophone concerts.
Here's a list of links to previous vintage articles.

Friday, September 04, 2015

More Bedside Listening

John Carter & Bobby Bradford Quartet: Flight for Four (Flying Dutchman) This album has been sitting on my "to listen to" pile and I finally got around to it. Mark Weber put me onto this quartet and I'm glad he did (Mark recently posted on John Carter here).

Sal Mosca: The Talk of the Town - Live at the Bimhaus (Sunnyside) This 2CD set of live solo piano from 1992 released earlier this year is an absolute gem. Wonderfully recorded, the album has a very intimate feel - it's almost as if you are a fly-on-the-wall in Sal's studio. Be on the lookout for more Mosca - I understand a box set is due out towards the end of the year. Hopefully these releases will bring more attention to a very underrated pianist.

Dizzy Gillespie: Perceptions (Verve) Earlier in the year I was checking out recordings associated with the Third Stream and I came across Perceptions. The music was written by J.J Johnson and Gunther Schuller conducts a brass ensemble, harps and rhythm section as they back Gillespie. The suite showcases the lyrical side of Dizzy's playing that many don't associate with him (myself included). I finally found a copy in August (at the Jazz Record Mart) and over the past month it has been getting some airtime.

Sonny Rollins: Rollins Meets Hawk! (RCA) I hadn't listened to this album for years and I have to say I've really enjoyed getting back into it. I first heard this album back in '99 when Norman Meehan played it to our jazz history class, not really for Sonny & Hawk, but for Paul Bley (check out Norm's book with Bley - Time Will Tell). Bley is outstanding and although I know people who don't really dig Rollins' here, I'm enjoying it. A bunch of live Rollins quartet recordings with Don Cherry are now available and I'm looking forward to checking them out (eventually!).

Thelonious Monk: Brillant Corners (Riverside) I have been learning a few of Monk's melodies and this was one of the recordings I listened to while working on "Pannonica." This may well be my favourite Monk album. Another album I hadn't listened to for ages and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Ernie Henry's contribution on alto.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Max Roach WKCR Interview Transcript

This is Ted Panken's transcription of Ed Scarvalone's interview with Max Roach on WKCR-FM from January 22, 1979. The discussion focuses on Lennie Tristano, who died the previous November. An accident prevented Roach from performing at the Lennie Tristano Memorial Concert the week following the interview but he contributed a solo piece to the live concert recording at a later stage (available on Jazz Records Inc.). Be sure to check out Ted Panken's blog too.
Click on the image to view full transcript as PDF (16 pages).

WKCR FM Ted Panken Ed Scarvalone

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Miles Davis Kind of Blue - Original Down Beat Review

Miles Davis' Kind of Blue was released on this day back in 1959. Here's the five-star review that appeared Down Beat (Oct 1 1959). Seems like it hit the ground running, I wouldn't mind checking out a few other reviews to see what the consensus was at the time of the albums release. Earlier this year Jazz Wax wrote about Bill Evans' liner notes for Kind Of Blue and included the drafts written in Evans' hand. 
More vintage magazine articles can be found here.
Down Beat Magazine

Friday, August 14, 2015

Recent Listening: The Inflated Tear

I just realised this post has been sitting in my "drafts" folder since last month.

After hearing Kirk on Charles Mingus' Oh Yeah I saved up some busking money and picked up the only album by Kirk - The Inflated Tear - that was in stock at the now defunct Real Groovy in Wellington (I still remember the looks I use to get as I plunked $20-30 of change on the counter!).

There is an energy that Kirk plays with that I find very appealing - a certain feeling that I find hard to put into words, I can't put my finger on it. This is something that draws me to an artists' work, and although it's not always the same feeling, I have experienced this "mystery" listening to the likes of Lester Young, Lee Konitz, Roy Eldridge, Hayden Chisholm, Han Bennink, Billie Holiday, Bill Payne, Connie Crothers, Richard Tabnik and a handful of others.

Kirk is backed by Ron Burton (p) Steve Novosel (b) Jimmy Hopps (d) and Dick Griffin (tb on 8) and the ten tracks provide plenty of - blues ("The Black and Crazy Blues"), joy/exuberance ("A Laugh For Rory"), the mystical (and tender) title track, mid tempo swing ("Creole Love Call"), ballads ("Fingers In The Wind"), and some up tempo blowing ("Lovellevelliloqui" & "A Handful of Fives").

I enjoy the way his notes are not constant but instead different colours and overtones are expressed in the space of one note (check out the held notes on "The Black and Crazy Blues"). He's slightly rough around the edges at times, and I get the feeling that it's about expressing the moment that counts (rather than perfect execution).

Even after all these years, I feel Kirk is treated as somewhat of a sideshow/novelty act. As a result, what he brought to the music has not been fully appreciated. The Inflated Tear is a great starting point for those new to his music but don't stop there - Rip, Rig and Panic, I Talk With The Spirits (a must for flute fans), We Free Kings plus Mingus' Oh Yeah - dig in and enjoy!

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Road To Frustration - Down Beat Feature 1963

Here is Don DeMicheal's profile of Roland Kirk (b. Aug 7, 1935) that appeared in the May 22, 1963 issue of Down Beat Magazine. Click on the image to view full article as PDF. Here are more vintage magazine articles.

Don DeMichael

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Bedside Listening

Of late, these albums have been hanging out on the bedside table. Occasionally the full album will be played - usually during the day (as was the case on Saturday when Shots got a couple of spins). For the most part though I listen to a few tracks before going to sleep (sometimes as a morning wake up too). The line up evolves over the course of a couple of weeks.

Herbie Nichols: The Complete Blue Note Recordings (Blue Note)

Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie: Bird and Diz (Verve)

Hayden Chisholm: Breve (Pirouet)

Jay Clayton and Jerry GranelliSound Songs (Winter & Winter)

Steve LacyShots (HatOlogy)

Roland Kirk: The Inflated Tear (Atlantic)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ornette Coleman - Time Magazine 1960

While listening to the Ornette Coleman memorial broadcast on WKCR 89.9FM NY last week, I was digging through my files looking for some Ornette articles to post. The article below appeared in Time (June 27, 1960). I will be posting the Time features on Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and Thelonious Monk - stay tuned. Also, if you missed the memorial broadcast, check out Phil Schaap's archive of shows which includes four Ornette Coleman birthday broadcasts.
More vintage magazine articles can be found here.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Some Listening During June

After posting quite a bit during May, June has been a little quiet on the blog front. Here's a taste of some of the noise bouncing around the apartment for the past month.

Stan Getz:
Reflections (Verve) - Somewhere online I read that George Garzone would include this in his "desert island" picks. I hadn't heard it before, so I decided to check it out. It's a strange album with strings, a choir, brass section, standards, a Bob Dylan tune. Although his tone and lyricism aren't lacking at all, it's hard to put aside the corny/syrupy backing - but not my favorite Getz album.

Jimmy Giuffre:
Western Suite (Atlantic) - I haven't listened to this album much and made a note to get back to it soon. This time around Jim Hall's comping seems to leap out at me.
Jimmy Giuffre 3 (Atlantic) - the first Giuffre album I heard and one that I return to every now and then. This time around it accompanied me on a few occasions while cooking dinner.

Ornette Coleman's passing had me listening to some of his albums that I haven't really checked out before:
At the Golden Circle Vol.1 (Blue Note) - I haven't been able to get into this trio as much as the Atlantic quartets (but it's early days still).
Skies Of America (Columbia) - Ornette and the London Symphony Orchestra. I heard this not that long after it was reissued, but now I finally have my own copy (courtesy of Reckless Records).
The Empty Foxhole (Blue Note) - Another album I've been wanting to check out for some time now. Always good hearing Coleman and Haden together. Isn't it about time there was a decent Ornette on Blue Note box set put together?
Of Human Feelings (Antilles) - Of the Prime Time albums I've heard this one struck me a being a little more straight forward/approachable.

ICP Orchestra:
East of the Sun (ICP) - The latest from this excellent 10-piece group, and the first (I believe) without Misha Mengelberg at the piano (Guus Janssen has stepped in). I picked this up at their Chicago gig earlier this year. They always keep things varied with freer sections contrasting with written material and abstraction meeting swing. Be sure to give them a listen.

And a few selections from saxophone ensemble recordings including:
ROVA: ROVA plays Lacy: Favorite Street (Black Saint) and Figure 8: Pipe Dreams (Black Saint) - On the latter, the quartet is expanded to an octet with the addition of Dave Barrett, Tim Berne, Vinny Golia and Glenn Spearman. I have only recently started listening to ROVA and I've enjoyed what I have heard so far.
Julius Hemphill: Fat Man and The Hard Blues (Black Saint) - Hemphill formed his saxophone sextet after he moved on from the WSQ. If you are into the WSQ you'll want to check out this sextet.
World Saxophone Quartet: Rhythm and Blues (Elektra) - After listening to ROVA I was in the mood for more sax quartets and it led me here. After listening to these groups, I have the feeling I'm going to listen to more saxophone ensembles in the near future. Recommendations appreciated.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

George Russell - Down Beat Feature May 1958

A feature article on George Russell from the May 29 1958 issue of Down Beat. Russell provides background to, and a brief explanation of the Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organization. He goes on to talk about teaching the theory, first to composers and then to improvisors and mentions that, "All my students have mastered the theory in about six or seven lessons." Not bad. Click on image to view PDF of full article.
Here's a list of links to previous vintage articles.

Lydian Chromatic Concept

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ornette Coleman: From The Heart

Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 - June 11, 2015). His music made quite an impact on me in high school after picking up The Shape of Jazz to Come and the then newly released Tone Dialing. Over the last couple of years I have been revisiting Ornette's recordings as well as checking out albums that are new to me. It was a blast hearing him live at the Wellington Festival of the Arts a few years ago, and I will take some time out today to listen to Ornette.  

Dan Morgenstern wrote this feature on Ornette shortly after his return to performing following a two-year hiatus. It appeared in the April 8, 1965 issue of Down Beat Magazine. Click on the image to view PDF of full article. More vintage magazine articles (including five on Ornette) can be found here.
Down Beat Magazine Dan Morgenstern

Monday, June 01, 2015

NZ Music Month: Syzygy - Tongue Grooves

For Part 4 of my New Zealand Music Month posts (Part 1Part 2 and Part 3), I've been revisiting an album I listened to a lot during my time at music school.
NZ Jazz New Zealand Jazz

Syzygy: creative music ensemble - Tongue Grooves (Yellow Eye)

Jeff Henderson (as) Joe Callwood (g) John Bell (vibes) Paul Dyne (b/e.bass) Chris O’Connor (d)
Recorded in Wellington during 1996, I never managed to hear this group live. But later on I did get to hear the members in various other groups playing around Wellington (particularly from 1999 up until I headed to the U.S in 2004. And again between 2005-2009). This album may be a bit harder to track down than the other three albums I've written about this month. Originally I brought it from Slowboat Records and somewhere along my travels I lost it. But thanks to Gemm, I managed to get another copy from Slowboat.

Tongue Grooves has plenty of variety - the grinding "Pain and Darkness", straight ahead swinging "Nquitpausuckowashawmen",  the comedy of "Saydah's Tongue Groove", the mellow "Breathe Now", the high energy of "The Risk" and the angular "Demented #2" - but there is also continuity that glues the album together into a solid work. 

Mike Nock recordings aside, Tongue Grooves was the NZ jazz album I listened to the most during music school (C.L. Bob (live and recordings) got plenty of airtime too). It was rare that anyone ever mentioned NZ jazz around school (Paul, Chris and Jeff (briefly) taught me at the university, as did John but I don't remember having any classes with him). The curriculum didn't place any emphasis on NZ jazz and I cannot recall playing tunes by Kiwis (although there were a couple of big band charts by Alan Broadbent), nor can I remember our jazz history class spending any time on the NZ scene. I hope this changes.

Listening to Tongue Grooves this month has brought back memories of 1999 and listening in my bedroom overlooking the car park out back of The George. Nostalgia has kicked in and I want to check out more NZ jazz recordings from that time period. I'm sure there are plenty of NZ jazz albums from the 90s that I haven't heard but Tongue Grooves must still rank very highly. Next time I'm home I'll have to hit the used record stores to try and track some of them down.
New Zealand Jazz

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Enigma of Miles Davis - Down Beat January 7 1960

For Miles' birthday (b.1926) here is Barbara Gardner's feature The Enigma of Miles Davis from the January 7, 1960 issue of Down Beat magazine. Click on image below to view PDF of the full article. Enjoy.
Links to all the vintage magazine articles I've posted can be found here.

Barbara Gardber

Monday, May 25, 2015

NZ Music Month: Colin Hemmingsen & Dave Lisik - Fate and the Processor

For the latest instalment of NZ Music Month posts (Here are Part 1 and Part 2), I have been listening to one of the stalwarts of the New Zealand jazz scene paired with a recent transplant from Canada.

NZ Jazz New Zealand Jazz
Colin Hemmingsen & Dave Lisik - Fate and the Processor (Rattle) 2011. 

In comparison to Colin’s other recordings Fate and the Processor stands out as being the most “different.” Is it jazz? I'll say yes (although Rattle didn't release it on their jazz imprint). I find the album is best absorbed in one sitting and at 48 minutes this is very manageable. In fact, it is rare for me to put this album on just to listen to one track. I'm not all that sure why - perhaps it is the suite-like nature of the work.
While the album is adventurous, I still find it very listenable - perhaps in part due to Colin's melodic conception, which has got hold of me as I've listened this month. Colin provides all of the source sounds from his arsenal of woodwinds (tenor & soprano sax, clarinet & bass clarinet, bassoon) which were then arranged and shaped into the final album by Lisik and his computer. At times the sounds are largely acoustic, layered on top of each other. At other times the acoustic tones of Hemmingsen are blended with varying degrees of electro-acoustic manipulations from Lisik. There is plenty of variety as far as texture and density which helps the music from getting bogged down. Each time I return to the album I continue to notice things I missed previously, which makes for rewarding listening.

All in all, it's nice to hear Colin reaching out into areas I hadn't associated with him before hearing this album. Listening to Fate and the Processor leaves me wanting to hear Colin record with acoustic group playing free improvisations.
New Zealand Jazz

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Shape of Jazz to Come - Original Down Beat Review

On May 22, 1959 Ornette Coleman's quartet recorded the music that would appear on The Shape of Jazz to Come. I was about 17 when first heard the album, and it definitely made an impact on me. John S. Wilson reviewed the album in the December 10, 1959 issue of Down Beat magazine. More vintage magazine articles can be found here.

John S Wilson original review

Monday, May 18, 2015

NZ Music Month: Paul Dyne & Richard Nunns - Hikoi

Part two of the New Zealand Music Month posts. The previous instalment is here.

NZ Jazz New Zealand Jazz
Richard Nunns & Paul Dyne - Hikoi / Journey (Rattle) 2011

Over the last decade Rattle Records has established itself as the heavy weight jazz record label in New Zealand. Their releases are fairly broad stylistically and include those by veterans, such as the duo here, and younger musicians such as The Jac. With jazz releases from New Zealand it almost seems that unless an album is self-released, it's on Rattle. 

This two disc set is towards the more adventurous end if the Rattle spectrum, and I've been focusing on Hikoi (disc 1), which features seven improvised duos between Richard Nunns (Taonga Puoro - traditional Maori Instruments) and Paul Dyne (bass).

Hikoi clocks in at 36 minutes, with tracks ranging in length from a little over one minute through 12 minutes. The disc is very intimate and the playing is in a conversational style, which I feel is at the heart of any successful duo performance. The nature of Taonga Puoro is the antithesis of pyrotechnic displays of technical wizardry (although there is little doubt Richard is a virtuoso), and as a result, minimalism comes to the fore. The duo embraces space and silence, making it a critical component across the album. Paul mostly employs a pizzicato technique, but he also plays arco at times ("Tongariro - Rangitata") and sparingly uses percussive textures ("Manawatu - Wairau"). The albums is wonderfully recorded and I can't recall hearing Paul sound better (sonically).

Journey (Disc 2) features the sextet of Nunns and Dyne joined by Amy Rempel (p) Tim Hopkins (ts) and Dave Lisik & Jorge Sosa (electronics). Considering how much I enjoy Hikoi, I have not listened to Journey nearly as much - I think I miss the silence of the former. The two discs make an interesting contrast though - the ancient/acoustic Hikoi and the modern/digital Journey. Highly recommended.

If you are interested in hearing more from Richard Nunns playing Taonga Puoro in improv-related works, try these albums: Rangirua (duo with Evan Parker), This Appearing World (trio with Jeff Henderson and Marilyn Crispell - which is an outgrowth of Jeff’s project "Urban Taniwha"),  and Tuhonohono (with Judy Bailey and Steve Garden).
New Zealand Jazz

Jackie McLean - Down Beat Feature 1963

Here's Ira Gitler's feature on Jackie McLean (b. May 17, 1931) from the September 12, 1963 issue of Down Beat Magazine. Who knew fans established a Jackie McLean fan club that presented him in concert?
More vintage magazine articles can be found here.
Ira Gitler

Monday, May 11, 2015

NZ Music Month: Hayden Chisholm - Breve

Last month was Jazz Appreciation Month and this month is New Zealand Music Month. So I have decided to get on board and write a little on a NZ Jazz Album each week.
Matt Penman John Taylor
Hayden Chisholm - Breve (Pirouet)
Hayden Chisholm (as) Matt Penman (b) John Taylor (p) 

Recorded December 18/19, 2013.

I always look forward to new releases from Hayden, and Breve (released in March 2015) is a wonderful mix of new and slightly less new. The trio’s first release (video and audio) was on Plush Music and then partially reissued in Hayden’s box set 13 Views of the Hearts Cargo and as Breve - Live at Plush. Of the nine tracks on Breve, "Patche" and "So It Goes" (by Penman & Taylor respectively) are the only tunes that appear on the Plush concert recordings. Some of the tunes penned by Hayden also appear on earlier recordings - "Fly" and "Barely A Moon" can be found on the trio recording Fragmented Teaching (with Simon Nabatov & Jochen Rueckert). There's a vocal version of "Fly" floating around somewhere for those that want to hear it in it's stripped back (original?) form. I thought it was on Hayden's blog, but a quick search there was fruitless.

While it is not strictly a ballad album, there is a very intimate, hushed feeling, with the trio projecting a balanced approach to their collective interplay and, at times, quite a dark/introspective mood. There's plenty of nuance to tune in to - Hayden's shaping of a held note at 1:06 on "Barely A Moon" gives me a kick each time I hear it. No one is in a rush during this hour of music and even when the tempo is raised ("Tinkerbell Swing" & "Augmented Waltz") the trio maintain a relaxed demeanour. Perhaps it's the lack of drums or (more likely I feel) the trio's ability to execute Hayden's vision for this music that brings the relaxed feel and balanced ensemble sound. Either way, it doesn't really matter. During one listen through I was really drawn into Matt's work on bass. At first it was his tone the grabbed me and as the album progressed his accompaniment held my attention more and more - a great blend of support and embellishment. A couple of moments that come to mind are the way his bass lines develop during "Pass A Cage, Lea" and his conversational playing with Taylor during the piano solo on "So It Goes" (he plays a very nice solo here too). I've given the album at least half a dozen listens so far and I know it won't stop there.
New Zealand Jazz

Thursday, May 07, 2015

ICP Orchestra at Constellation

ICP Orchestra Constellation ChicagoThe ICP Orchestra was in town Saturday thru Monday, although prior commitments meant I could only get along to the opening concert of their tour of the United States on Saturday night (May 2) at Constellation. I've heard them live a few times now and have come to expect it to be an excellent night of music - they did not disappoint.

There's always plenty of variety in a set from the ICP. Moments of free improvisations, interludes from small ensembles leading into the full band, fun,  classic swing (Michael Moore provided a great arrangement of "Moten Swing"), Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk (arrangements of "Blue Chopsticks" & "Jackie-ing" by Mengelberg) and originals from the band members including Ab Baars and Tristan Honsinger as well as ICP co-founder Misha Mengelberg (the piano stool is now filled by Guus Janssen).

ICP Orchestra Constellation ChicagoEveryone in the group has room to move and here are some scribbles from my notebook. A very cohesive improvisation from the string section as the intro a tune from Baars. "'Round Midnight" was a great feature for Tobias Delius' tenor. Thomas Heberer's cornet tone makes me want to check out his work in other settings. Moore and Baar's joint solo chorus on "Moten Swing" was lovely and the ensemble horn parts sounded tight.

I jump at the chance to hear Han Bennink. He deserves extra credit for having flown in from Greece that afternoon and still swinging up a storm at age 73. His "antics" (see left) get plenty of attention but I dig his playing (even when he's playing on the floor) in addition to being a creative soloist and accompanist, he can really lay down a groove. It's kind of an "old fashioned" groove that oozes swing and personality yet it never feels dated to me.

If there was one minor quibble, it was that they only played one set. But I would prefer to hear once excellent set than a multiple average sets!
Following the gig I picked up their latest release East of the Sun which I have on as I write, and I 'm looking forward to giving it plenty of spins in the future.

For those of you in (or visiting) Chicago, make sure you get along to Constellation - it's a fantastic venue with excellent programming.
ICP Orchestra Constellation Chicago
ICP Orchestra Constellation Chicago

ICP Orchestra Constellation Chicago

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Mingus Ah Um - Down Beat Review 1959

I discovered Mingus Ah Um around 40 years after it was recorded (May 5 and 12, 1959). I remember buying it with a stack of coins from busking (I picked up Mingus Dynasty a month or so later...I think they had just been reissued). For a time back then I was listening to a lot of Mingus. I still occasionally return to Ah Um and Dynasty (it's been nice listening to it today as I got the post ready and earlier I there year I was working a little on "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"), these days my go to Mingus albums are Oh Yeah and Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. Below is Leonard Feather's review from the November 26, 1959 issue of Down Beat.
Click on image to view full review as PDF. More vintage magazine articles can be found here.
Down Beat Magazine Leonard Feather

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Recent Listening: Jazz Appreciation Month

Well, today is International Jazz Day. While I haven't been quite as busy as Kevin Sun over at A Horizontal Search, I have enjoyed posting more than usual. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the sounds that have been bouncing around the apartment during Jazz Appreciation Month. Perhaps next year I will keep track as I go and make a more complete listening list. I made a point to check out some artists I’m not that familiar with, as well as albums I haven't listened to for a while and a few favourites too.

Charlie Parker
For some reason "Marmaduke” got stuck in my head one afternoon as I was out running errands, so I spent some time this month working on the melody. And as I worked on this post from my old practice notebook, “Billie’s Bounce” came into the picture too. Multiple takes of both songs have had plenty of plays this month.

Tchicai has flown under my radar, and after hearing this I'm keen to hear more. Recorded in 1977 this album features one track each on alto, soprano and flute. The last track is an alto/trombone duet with Albert Mangelsdorff. I'm digging Tchicai's rich tone on alto and his particularly distinctive soprano tone. I'm looking forward to finding more of his soprano playing especially. A bunch of FMP albums are available at Destination Out's BandCamp store.

The Waiting Game
 I was listening to this a lot during March and it leeched over into April. This engaging duo recording with Marty Ehrlich is one of my favourite Nock recordings. The program mixes original compositions, free improvisations, standards and folk songs. Ehrlich moves between alto & soprano sax and clarinet & bass clarinet. Whenever I listen to this album I always think, "Man, I need to check out more Marty Ehrlich" - but that hasn't happened just yet. Nothing particularly earth shattering about this album, just really good jazz played by two artists with a great rapport. 

Live in New York
It's never quite the same, but it is nice to have a souvenir from a gig you attended. In some ways, I remember the atmosphere more than the music - it was great catching up with fellow sax-traveller Bastian Duncker and there was a definite buzz in the crowd. The music was very enjoyable and this disc (compiled from the two sets that night) is an excellent reminder. This was my second chance to hear Bennink (on snare drum, floor, body, music stand, floor etc) and Moore (as/clari/b.clari) with the remaining third taken by the accordion of Holshouser (who was new to me). I’m pretty sure I made notes on this gig but I haven't found them yet. If I do, it will be nice to revisit that moment back in 2009 along with the recording. Fans of Clusone Trio will want to check this out.

John Carter & Bobby Bradford 
Like Tchicai, here’s another reed player that has been under my radar. Mark Weber put me on to them and I've finally got around to having a listen. Carter alternates between, tenor & alto sax, clarinet and flute and forms a great front line with Bradford's trumpet. So far I'm liking what I hear. Anyone interested in Ornette Coleman's recordings from the 1960's will want to check out this group. Seeking led me to pick up Flight for Four, recorded by the same group a couple of weeks earlier in 1969 (which I haven't listened to just yet). Mark has been compiling a Bobby Bradford Timeline - lots of great info and photos too.

Ornette Coleman 
Live recording from Italy in 1974. 
Not the greatest fidelity but interesting nonetheless. I have only skimmed through Ornette's output from the 1970s, so maybe this will be the trigger to dig a little further. Alongside Coleman are Sirone (b) Billy Higgins (d) and James Blood Ulmer (g). I haven't listened to much of Ulmer's work and his playing grabbed my attention - it's nice to hear some comping behind Ornette and Ulmer's solo voice is very distinctive too.

Mal Waldron
Blues for Lady Day
Aside from some albums with Lacy (which led me to this one), I don't have much Waldron in my collection. This is a solid solo piano outing from 1972 featuring standards associated with Billie Holidays. The last two tracks are live recordings (also 1972) from a trio with Henk Haverhoek (b) & Pierre Courbois (d) playing a couple of Waldron originals. While this album didn't blow me a way I'm keen to hear more from Waldron. Any recommendations are appreciated.

Earl Coleman“Yardbird Suite" This recording from 1948 features Coleman singing the lyrics Bird wrote for his tune less commonly referred to as “What Price Love?” That alone makes it worthy of a listen. On top of that, Fats Navarro is at his relaxed, swinging and melodic best during his muted solo and Don Lanphere also contributes a fine tenor solo.

I’ve been hanging out to hear this album, and I finally picked it up this month. It was the presence of alto saxophonist Christian Weidner that grabbed my attention - along with the instrumentation (Harp/ Sax/Bass). The compositions are split between Pechlof & Weidner (as well as one from Debussy). The playing is unhurried and spacious - it demands your attention as it's not smacking you in the face. A very nice album and I’ll probably right some more on it. Don't sleep on Weidner - he's got a beautiful tone and wonderfully melodic approach. 

Miles Davis 
In A Silent Way
I hadn't listened to this album in years. I'm not sure what made me pick it up again, but I’m glad I did. The last time I heard this album I don't think I even owned a soprano saxophone, so this time around my ear has been drawn to Wayne Shorter's playing. There's a floating quality to Shorter's entrance on "Shhh/Peaceful" (around the 9 minute) that gave me a kick the first time I heard it (probably the first time I had heard him on soprano too), that brought a smile to my face this time around too. 

Lyle Ritz
How About Uke?
This was a chance purchase while doing some in store browsing at Dusty Groove. I was completely unfamiliar with Ritz, saw it and thought, "Ukulele.... why not?" It's a really nice sounding recording and captures the uke tone really well. I particularly enjoyed the chordal playing from Ritz. Throughout the album he teams up with Red Mitchell (b) and Gene Estes (d) and Don Shelton (flute) joins them for five tracks. The album has a feel-good vibe to it.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk
I Talk With The Spirits
I was listening to Kirk’s 1964 all-flute outing during March but it also got some air during April (I was playing along with the melody of the title tune for a while too). Kirk's flute playing is not quite as rambunctious as his sax work. On second though....perhaps it is! Either way his personal approach still leaps out on flute. I have just been reunited with The Inflated Tear (after somehow leaving it in NZ) so that will definitely be getting some airtime soon.

Charlie Mariano 
Helen 12 Trees
I'm not sure how I ended up here, but sometimes you just feel like something a bit different... world-jazz-rock-fusion anyone? I guess Charlie Mariano must have been on my mind. Interesting line-up - violin, electric/acoustic piano/synth, electric bass, drums, percussion with Mariano splitting time between alto & soprano sax and, on one track each, flute and nagaswaram. This album has accompanied me as I cooked dinner a few times this month and it has left me wanting to check out more from Mariano on soprano. Mariano's discography contains plenty of variety (and I've only scratched the surface) and this album is very solid - anyone into 70s fusion would be missing out if they haven't given this album a listen. 

Ran Blake & Jeanne Lee
The Newest Sound Around
As I posted about it here, I'll keep things brief - highly recommended, fresh sounding vocal/piano duo. 

Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron
Live at Dreher, Paris 1981
It can be hard to play favourites, but this is one of my favourite Steve Lacy recordings. When I first heard this set it was Lacy's tone that really stood out (and it still does) - so much depth - they managed to capture it well. Lacy seems to be a pretty consistent player but on this set he is really on form. I focussed on the first (and a bit of the second) disc of this 4 CD set. The duo play tunes by Lacy & Waldron as well as Thelonious Monk. Once again, playing favourites is tricky, but I can't think of a many recordings of "'Round Midnight" that can top the three superb versions included here. If you are into Lacy, this set is a must. For more casual fans you might be better off picking four discs that give a broader sampling of his work.... and then get this.

New Zealand Month is right around the corner. Each week during May I will try to write a little on some albums from New Zealand artists. I'm looking forward to getting back into some albums I haven't heard in a while plus hearing some new ones too. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

John Tchicai - Down Beat Cover Story 1966

The February 10, 1966 issue of Down Beat featured Dan Morgenstern's cover story John Tchicai: A Calm Member Of The Avant-Garde. When I came across this article I realised that Tchicai is a player that has very much slipped under my radar. Outside of his playing on Coltrane's Ascension and his solo album on FMP, I am not all that familiar with his work (the solo album - which also contains a duo with Albert Mangelsdorff -  is playing as I prepare this post).

Click on the image to view PDF of the full article (the 1966 microfilm roll was not in the best conditions any articles I upload from that year will more than likely contain an annoying line on the left side of the page) . More vintage magazine articles can be found here.
Dan Morgenstern Down Beat Magazine

Dave Brubeck "Time Out": Ira Gitler Review - Down Beat 1960

55 years ago Ira Gitler's review of Time Out appeared in Down Beat magazine. For an album that many today hold up as a classic, Gitler's two-star review may be a shock. It's the kind of review that is rare to see in jazz magazines these days. He's particularly scathing (of Brubeck in particular) and I'm surprised that he even awarded it two stars. This was an album I listened to a lot towards the end of high school (and I learned Paul Desmond's "Take Five" solo) but I can't remember the last time I listened to it. It might be fun to revisit it with Gitler's review in mind.
Click on the image to view PDF of the full article. More vintage magazine articles can be found here.

Down Beat Magazine

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jimmy Giuffre: Search for Freedom - Down Beat 1961

A nice long piece on Jimmy Giuffre (April 26, 1921) from the December 7, 1961 issue of Down Beat.  Giuffre is a favourite of mine and I have a few more articles on him to post in the future. Click in the image to view PDF of full article.
More vintage magazine articles can be found here.

Down Beat Magazine

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Charles Mingus: Blindfold Tests 1960

Here are two Blindfold Tests from the April 28, 1960 and May 12, 1960 issues of Down Beat Magazine. Charles Mingus shares his thoughts on recordings by, among others, Clifford Brown, Manny Albam, George Shearing, Johnny Hodges, Sonny Stitt and Mahalia Jackson. I'll have to hunt down the earlier test mentioned in the introduction. Click on the image to view PDF of both Blindfold Tests. Here's a list of links to previous vintage articles.

leonard feather down beat magazine

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Notebook 3: Yusef Bergonzi

A couple of weeks ago I was flicking through my old practice notebook. I came across a couple of pages of notes on rhythm exercises from a time when Yusef Lateef's Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns found a regular slot in my practice time. Although there is quite a bit of rhythmic variety throughout the book, I took some of the lines and started applying them to rhythms from Jerry Bergonzi's Inside Improvisation Volume 4: Melodic Rhythms.

I have notated some examples below, although when I worked on this I did not write out anything - I just internalised the rhythms and applied them to the original lines. I worked on this with and without using a metronome. You may want to use a play-a-long recording.

It's a simple idea really - take a rhythm and apply it to melodic material. It can be a nice way to break up practicing everything in streams of 8th notes or triplets. The same melodic material can sound very different when it is changed rhythmically. Although the examples of the melodic & rhythmic material below come from books, feel free to create your own.

Here are a few examples:
Excerpt from Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns (page 3) - "Major Triads in Cycle of Down a Major Third and Up a Perfect Fourth"

Two of the "22 Rhythms" from Inside Improvisation Volume 4: Melodic Rhythms (page 16).
22 Rhythms
Combing the first line of melodic material with the first rhythm:

Jazz Improvisation Exercise
Combing the second line of melodic material with the second rhythm:
Jazz Improvisation Exercise
Once you feel comfortable playing the lines with two or three different rhythms, start alternating between the different rhythms.

The next example uses a hemiola rhythm from Jerry Bergonzi's Melodic Rhythms (page 67)
The hemiola applied to the Yusef Lateef excerpt.
Jazz Rhythm Exercise Hemiola
A little later on, I did the same with Volume 5 in the Bergonzi series: Thesaurus of Intervallic Melodies.

I also combined melodic material with the rhythms of melodies. Here the line(s) above are combined with the melodic rhythm of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce." I'm using the rhythm as it appears in the Charlie Parker Tune Book by Fred Parcells (which you can download for free on his website). "Relaxin' At Camarillo" would be a nice one too - use any melody which appeals to you rhythmically.
jazz rhythm exercise
Here, the Bergonzi intervallic lines are applied to melodic rhythm of "Billie's Bounce." Before jumping in make sure you have a solid grasp of the melodic rhythm - you may even start by playing it on one note (from memory, Steve Lacy mentions this in Findings).
billie's bounce intervallic melody
Start off slow and build into it. Once you feel comfortable applying predetermined notes to the rhythms, start improvising your note choices with the fixed rhythm(s). As you can image, the rhythmic variations on a line are endless.

I used the free music notation software Muse Score to create the examples above.
Previous posts from my notebook can be found here: Old Music - New Music & One Free Note.