Saturday, April 30, 2016

Jazz April: week 4 listening

Don Cherry: Complete Communion (Blue Note)
It had been quite a while since I last gave this spin, and the passing of Gato Barbieri was my prompt. Listening to this a few times throughout the week made wonder why I haven't listened to this album more over the years. The music free yet well grounded and compositionally strong - the album features two 20 minute suites each comprised of 4 parts. Solid playing from all - Henry Grimes and Ed Black are a great rhythm section pairing, Barbieri seems to take a lead from Ornette and then shifts it into his own areas, and it nicely compliments Cherry's playing. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't already.

Yusef Lateef: Eastern Sounds (Prestige) & Into Something (Prestige)
Of these two albums recorded in 1961, my preference was leaning slightly towards the latter. The rhythm section (Herman Wright and Elvin Jones) kick things along a bit more. It's a little more straight ahead and has less variety than (3 blues, a rhythm changes and 3 standards) Eastern Sounds, and perhaps that was the mood I was in the couple of times I listened to the album this week. Later in the week I gave Eastern Sounds another run and got more into it. The variety is its strength but I could help wondering how the album would sound with the Wright/Jones rhythm section. Barry Harris is on both albums but, outside of the standard tunes, I don't feel he was best suited for this music. His comping is fine, but I haven't been able to get into is improvising. One thing that hung with me from these two albums was Lateef's tenor tone on the ballads.
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (Impulse)
More specifically The Complete Masters Super Deluxe Edition..... and even more specifically the six takes of "Acknowledgement" from the sextet session. That they didn't get past the opening movement is telling, and the additional saxophone (Archie Shepp) and bass (Art Davis) seems superfluous. However, how would we react to these sextet tracks had we not heard the original work (or if it never existed)?

Sal Mosca: Too Marvelous for Words (Cadence)
Disc 4 is from a concert in Rotterdam and showcases 10 originals by Mosca (the disc ends with "You Got To My Head"). Sal's virtuosity is in service of the music rather than pyrotechnic wizardry. Tour de force doesn’t seem apt as he makes it seem so effortless. Lets hope that this set (and last years release on Sunnyside The Talk of the Townbrings Sal some well overdue attention. 

Don Cherry: "Mu" first part/"Mu" second part (Actuel)
After giving the above Cherry album a couple of runs, I pulled out this duo with Ed Blackwell. Whenever I hear this album I get the feeling that it's just a couple of friends who got together to play some music and decided to record it (there's a casualness about it that appeals to me). As I closely listen to Blackwell, the more I enjoy his playing.

Ned Rothenberg's Sync: Port of Entry (Intuition)
Aside from being a fan of Rothenberg, the instrumentation of Sync was what drew me to this group - alto sax/clarinets/shakuhachi along with Jerome Harris (acoustic guitar & bass) and Samir Chatterjee (tabla & percussion). Although this one deserves more listens, my initial impression left me wanting for a bit space and I wanted to like it more than I did. Since recording this back in the 1997/98, Sync have recorded a couple more albums and I'm keen to hear how they developed.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Yusef Lateef: Music As Color - Down Beat

This month I have been listening to a few albums by Yusef Lateef (Jazz Moods, Before Dawn, Into Something, Eastern Sounds and 1984 have all had airtime) so I thought it was fitting to post this article by Pete Welding from the May 20, 1965 issue of Down Beat. Click on the image to view PDF of full article. More vintage magazine articles can be found here.
Music As Color

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Signal To Noise - Jazz April

At the start of the month I grabbed a stack of Signal to Noise magazines off eBay. This month's reading from them has included articles on Yusef Lateef (I have enjoyed checking out a few of his albums this month), George Graewe, Frank Gratkowski, Ken Vandermark, Gerry Hemingway, Charlie Haden, John Tchicai, Bob Moses, Matthew Shipp, Henry Threadgill, ESP records, Borah Bergman, George Russell, ICP Orchestra, the Vision Festival, Cecil Taylor, Mills College, Allen Lowe, Gunther Schuller, Bob Koester, the Eskelin/Parkins/Black trio, Albert Ayler, and various book, concert and album reviews.

It would be nice if the likes of Down Beat and Jazz Times gave some room (even one article) for some lengthier features (that don't read like fleshed out press releases!) or how about a guest editorial each month? Maybe they could borrow from The Jazz Review and have a few musicians write album reviews. I don't think that's too much to ask - in the mean time I can still stop by Point of Departure.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Jazz April: week 3 listening

yusef later ran blake
Louis Armstrong: The Complete Hot Five & Hot Seven Recordings (Columbia)
It was hard to go wrong kicking off week 3 with a classic. Throughout the week I made my way through all four discs. Armstrong's breaks, stop time passages, phrasing, elasticity and tone worked their magic like they always do. Essential listening.

Jimmy Giuffre: Free Fall (Columbia)
Giuffre's trio with Steve Swallow and Paul Bley is a favorite of mine and I can still remember hearing my introduction to the trio via 1961 (the ECM reissue of Fusion and Thesis). This led to Free Fall and while it didn't grab me the way the earlier work did, I stuck with it. This week I put it on for the first time in about a year, and I was reminded again just how different this group was in the 60s avant-garde crowd. Be sure to check out the live recordings from this trio released on HatOLOGY.

Yusef LateefJazz Moods (Savoy)
Recorded in 1957, this was Lateef's first release as a leader (although his second album was from a slightly earlier session). The opening notes from the argol - a double-tubed reed instrument with a drone pipe and a melody pipe - grab your attention and it is maintained throughout the album with each of the five tunes hitting a different flavor - there's blues, modal, 7/4, pedal tones and the pairing of flute and Curtis Fuller's trombone is a color you don't hear too often. This was Lateef's working band at the time and its focussed sound is an important contributing factor to the album overall.

Steve Lacy/Steve Potts: Tips (Corbett vs Dempsey)
I wrote a little about my sole Record Store Day purchase here. 

Christian Weidner: The Inward Song (Pirouet)
Seeing that Christian has a new album (along with another as a sideman) due out on Pirouet, had me reaching for this quartet album from 2010. He has a superb alto tone and melodic sensibility with the bonus that he never overplays his hand - check him out! The drumming of Samuel Rohrer really popped out to me this week. There's a bunch of music on Pirouet that I want to check out including albums by Anna Webber and Joris Roelofs in addition to the two mentioned above.

Ran BlakeGhost Tones (A-side Records)
Released last year, this album features different line-ups - ranging from solo piano to sextet - tackling material by or associated with George Russell (plus a couple of songs by Blake). While, I gave it one spin last week and three more this week, I haven't been able to get into it just yet. I'm not afraid of letting an album grow on me though, and I have a feeling this one might sneak up on me.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lacy - Potts - Aebi: Tips

Steve Lacy/Steve Potts: Tips (Corbett vs Dempsey)

This was my sole Record Store Day purchase. I picked it up at the Corbett vs Dempsey gallery prior to Bob Gluck speaking about his new book on the Miles Davis "Lost Quintet." Recorded in 1979 and originally released by HatHut in 1981, Tips was recently reissued by Corbett vs Dempsey.

The trio of Steve Lacy (ss) Steve Potts (as) and Irene Aebi (vocal) play 14 pieces, labeled A through N, inspired by Georges Braque's advice to artists. Lacy set these "tips" to brief melodies (two or three bars in length) creating a song cycle that I have found very engaging (on the 1st two and a half listens!).

Although the pieces tend have similar form - Aebi stating the melody with horns accompanying, improvisation by the horns (collective or solo), move to the next melody - it doesn't seem to weigh down the album. In fact, this structure combined with the brevity of the works (each clocking in around the three minute mark) are strengths of the album. The themes are short, the improvisations brief and album as a whole is very concise. Everybody stays on point, yet there is still plenty offered during the improvised passages as intensity and textures shift throughout the album to keep things moving.

Corbett vs Dempsey Hat hut Georges BraqueA: We Will Never Have Any Peace - The Present Is Perpetual  
B: Do Not Imitate What You Wish To Create  
C: I Want To Be In Tune With Nature Rather Than Copy It  
D: I Don't Do As I'd Like, I Do As I Can  
E: Art Is Made To Trouble, Science Reassures  
F: The Only Thing Valuable In Art, Is What Cannot Be Explained  
G: One Must Achieve A Certain Temperature That Makes Things Malleable  
H: Limited Means Lead To New Forms, Invite Creation, Make Style  
I: Impregnation, Obsession, Hallucination  
J: It's The Change Happening That Reveals To Us, Day To Day Existence  
K: Echo Answers Echo, All Is Repercussion  
L: For Every Gain There Is A Corresponding Loss - That Is The Law Of Compensation  
M: Progress In Art Is Not About Extending It's Limits, But In Better Understanding Them  
N: With Age, Art And Life Become One 

Outside his work with Lacy, I only can recalling hearing one recording of Potts - an area to explore in the future perhaps. And I find similarity between Potts and Charlie Rouse - their long service to a bandleader overshadowed or blinded people to their work in other settings.

Corbett vs Dempsey have reissued a few 70s HatHut albums lately (including some from Joe McPhee and Jimmy Lyons) and it sounds like they have more on the way.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Jazz April: week 2 listening

Plenty more jazz sounds bouncing around the apartment this week.
Yusef Lateef: 1984 (Impulse)
I had been on the lookout for this one for a while now (due to the presence of Mike Nock) and picked it up as part of a 2-for-1 reissue paired with The Golden Flute. There's a lot of variety here - straight up blowing of "Soul Sister," oboe and flute exotica of "Try Love," the juxtaposition of "One Little Indian," the balladry of "Warm Fire" and the searching title track - makes for a very interesting album.

Quest: Circular Dreaming (Enja)
For those unfamiliar, Quest is the long-standing group of David Liebman, Richie Beirach, Ron McClure and Billy Hart and here they focus on tunes of the 60s quintet of Miles Davis (with two thirds of the tunes coming from Wayne Shorter). And while it may be a tribute album, Quest have developed a band sound (over the past 35 years) that places a personal stamp the music. Later in the week I gave some of the tracks back-to-back listens with the original recordings by Miles' group.

Sal Mosca: Too Marvelous for Words (Candence)
This week it has been disc 3 as I make my way through the 5 disc set. I think solo piano is my preferred setting to hear Mosca - and he's really on form throughout this entire set. We're lucky he made a number of solo recordings (Sal Mosca Music, A Concert, For You, Trickle, Recital in Valhalla). Check out the opening chorus of "There Will Never Be Another You" - too marvelous indeed.

Marilyn Crispell & David Rothenberg: One Dark Night I Left My Silent House (ECM)
A very nice set of 13 improvisations between bass clarinet/clarinet and piano (with some percussion). I got this on a whim recently mostly due to my interest in duos. While I'm somewhat familiar with Crispell (having heard her live and on a few albums), I hadn't heard Rothenberg before and found the two paired well. The improvisations contain strong melodic content and a nice amount of space making for a very enjoyable album.

Charlie Haden & Hank Jones: Steal Away (Verve)
I felt like something mellow and melodic, and this album of spirituals, hymns and folk songs hit the spot. If I have one complaint about this album, it is the way the piano recorded.... it seems muted or watery.

Lenny Popkin is a favorite of mine (great sound and lines and so relaxed) and this week I had a session listening to a selection of tracks from his trio albums (LP on tenor throughout with bassists Rich Califano, Eddie Gomez and Gilles Naturel and drummers Peter Scattaretico, Carol Tristano and Philippe Soirat).

317 East 32nd {originally released on Choice as Falling Free} "Dreaming" and "Everything Reminds Me of You"
Lenny Popkin (Lifeline Records): "Trio" and "I Surrender Dear"
New York Moment (Paris Jazz Productions): "Origin" and "Another Time"
Live at Intone Festival (PAO): "Out of Nowhere" and "When You're Smiling"
Time Set (Lifeline Records): "Call" and "Circular Logic" (the latter features multi-tracked solo saxophone)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

John Coltrane & Eric Dolphy Answer the Jazz Critics

This famous (and often quoted) article from the April 12, 1962 issue of Down Beat. The title sums things up and looking back now it can be hard to image all of the fuss. Click on the image to view PDF of the full article. More vintage magazine articles can be found here.

Down Beat Magazine

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Jazz April: week 1 listening

Here's a rundown of my listening over the past week.

Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil (Blue Note) Of Shorter's albums, I'm most familiar with this one but I'm still giving it attention as I make my through his work on Blue Note (one album per month). It had been a while since I last gave this a spin. Top playing, great tunes and a stellar line-up. Hard to go wrong really.

Steve Swell: Kende Dreams (Silkheart)
Released last year (I picked it up last week) the presence of Connie Crothers made this a must-have and it hasn't disappointed. The album features interesting tunes (all by Swell) and a very cohesive group [Swell (trb) Crothers (p) Rob Brown (as) William Parker (b) Chad Taylor (d)]. The improvising and accompaniment from all involved is dynamic. This one is set for many more listens. Recommended.

Jochen Rueckert: Introduction (Jazzline)
I'll keep things very brief as I am planning to write about this one at some stage. My accidental introduction to the world of Hayden Chisholm.

Ran Blake: Film Noir (Arista)
I picked up this one (along with two others) when Blake played at Constellation at the end of last month. Recorded in 1980 (reissued late last year) and comprised of varying line-ups from solo to 11 piece ensembles, this album sounds remarkably fresh.

Sal Mosca: Too Marvelous For Words (Cadence)
I've been listening to disc 2 from this 5 disc set of a 1981 concert tour of the Netherlands. A "must have" for Mosca fans but I urge pianists and fans to solo piano to check out this album. I remember Don Messina's enthusiasm as he told me about this upcoming release (6 months or so before its release) and I can hear why - staggering stuff.

Yusef Lateef: Before Dawn (Verve)
I've been meaning to check out more of Yusef Lateef and now I'm finally getting around to it having picked up a few albums (including this one) recently. I only managed to have one listen to it this week but the bluesy-bop brought to mind my friend Johnny Lippiett.

A few different versions of Thelonious Monk's song "Jackie-ing" have been getting a run. 5 by Monk by 5 (Riverside) and The London Collection (Black Lion) got me started. I can't think of a better Charlie Rouse solo on the former (Thad Jones is excellent too) and the latter is a great solo rendition with a different feeling to the quintet recording. Steve Lacy's More Monk has been another source too.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Is it fitting that April Fools Day kicks off Jazz Appreciation Month?

All going to plan, I am hoping to detail this month's listening as best I can. Plans were almost foiled by a computer meltdown on Thursday - hence the delay in getting this post together. Anyway, I kicked off the start of the month with Annette (HatOLOGY). The trio of Paul Bley (p) Gary Peacock (b) and Franz Koglmann (trpt/flg) tackle tunes by Annette Peacock. I find these compositions quite intriguing and I want to do some comparison listens - Bley has recorded a number of them before and Marilyn Crispell's trio (with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian) recorded and excellent double album in the 90s devoted to Peacock's tunes. Other albums that are slated for a listen this month include Quest's Circular Dreaming, One Dark Night I Left My Silent House - the duo of Marilyn Crispell and David Rothenberg, a couple of albums I picked up at Ran Blake's concert last weekend - I'm particularly looking forward to Ghost Tones featuring George Russell compositions. Steve Swell's latest (featuring Connie Crothers) arrived in the mail last week, so add that to the list. Also, I've been working my way through Wayne Shorter's Blue Note albums and I'm up to Speak No Evil so that will get some airtime too.