Nov 30, 2009

Cleveland Watkiss - Green Chimneys

barabara sounds sez:
Cleveland Watkiss just celebrated his 50th birthday with a gig at the London Jazz festival... So let's celebrate with this little gem.
Don't know Cleveland? He's a top vocalist and super versatile. Genres mean nothing: he's sung soul, gospel, reggae, jazz, drum'n'bass — even opera and choral work. And really he's nothing like Bobby McFerrin.
He was a founder (with Courtney Pine and all) of the Jazz Crusaders Warriors (thanks anon), a pioneer of UK jungle/d&b (here's more on that), and if you don't know his 2002 album Victory’s Happy Songbook, you're missing out on a true barabara classic.
But this one — his first album (or was there one before this?) from 1991 — is straight ahead jazz, which is no doubt why it came out on Verve.

AMG (Yawno) sez:
In the late '80s, Cleveland Watkiss was thought of as a British Bobby McFerrin; where has he been since?At the time of this CD, he showed a great deal of potential and was becoming more original. He is joined by some of the top young English jazz musicians of the era (including pianist Jason Rebello and, on a couple of separate songs, Courtney Pine and Steve Williamson on sopranos) with guest appearances from American drummer Clifford Jarvis and tenorman Jean Toussaint. Watkiss is the main star throughout, singing his words to Thelonious Monk's "Green Chimneys" and Wayne Shorter's "Seeds of Sin," and contributing some adventurous originals of his own. The comparisons with McFerrin apply most tonewise; Watkiss has a similar adventurous spirit, and both singers achieving a lot less in the 1990s than one might have expected. This increasingly hard-to-find CD is well worth searching for.

I've dropped links in the comments for 2 other tracks by Cleveland — Kamikaze; and the DJ Patife remix of Torch Of Freedom (from Victory's). Enjoy.

Nov 24, 2009

Sabu - Palo Congo

barabara sounds sez:
Sabu leads a thundering Afro-Cuban percussion session, with the great Arsenio Rodriguez among some equally impressive backing musicians. High spots in this set are Aggo Elegua and the outstanding title track, both channeling the Santaria ritual. If you're looking for more typical latin sounds, then Tribilin Cantore could be the one: Arsenio's fluid guitar lines set out a blueprint for a generation of Zairean/Congolese grooves. Laid down in 1957, the original Blue Note release was in mono; this rip is from the stereo CD reissue. Whichever way you hear it, this is powerful music.

One of the most unique sessions ever cut for Blue Note — an album of very traditional Afro-Cuban jamming, led by percussionist Sabu Martinez! The music on the album's comprised mostly of percussion -- plus some occasional guitar, bass, and vocals shouted by Sabu, and group members that include Arsenio Rodriguez, Ray Romero, and Willie Capo. The whole thing's incredibly haunting — and about as different from the average Blue Note hardbop set as you could get! Titles include "Simba", "Aggo Elgua", "Tribilin Cantore", "Asabache", and "Billumba-Palo Congo".

The emotional kinship between the world of this recording and the world of jazz seems so strong at times that the distance between the worlds seems no wider than the pavement of West Fifty-Fourth Street which separates the Museum of Primitive Art from the Museum of Modern Art. Yet the step from Afro-Cuban music to jazz is a long step, for the European elements of jazz are always in the foreground, while here the latin elements of "latin" music are often imperceptible. It is mostly Africa that we hear in this recording: some rituals dedicated to African Gods, a good deal of singing and chanting in African antiphonal style, and all the instruments, whether obviously African like the quinto, a Cuban version of the slit signal drum, or as apparently European as guitar and bass, played like their African proto-types in African musical tradition. Still, the kinship is there to hear, for Afro-Cuban music shares with jazz the intense motor excitement, the rhythmic fluidity that Andre Hodeir calls vital drive, and the striving for ecstatic communion which supplies much of the motive force.

Nov 22, 2009

Tubby Hayes - CTJ... ...ABP scans

Original scans of the cover art now (at long last) added to comments here.

Nov 19, 2009

Karin Krog & John Surman - Bluesand

barabara sounds sez:
One of Karin Krog's more recent (1999) and lesser known (at least to me) collaborations, but hauntingly beautiful as usual. This is the Japanese reissue which has an extra track featuring her on a version of Air on a G String arranged by keyboard maestro Morgan Fisher. This was used for a TV commercial advertising a brand of saké. It's rather tasty (and so is the music). The rest of the album is Karin with John Surman, who adds keyboards to his usual outstanding palette of clarinet and sax.

dusty sez:
For the past 30 years, Karin Krog has been one of Europe's greatest jazz vocalists -- but although she spent a time in the 70s doing some very experimental material, she's been spending a lot more time on standards lately. However, this release marks a new direction -- and has her working again with British reed genius John Surman, a frequent collaborator during the old days. All of the tracks are in English, and are penned by Surman and Krog, with a spare folksy style that hearkens back to their more progressive work in the 70s. Surman plays reeds, piano, and synthesizer -- while Krog sings and manipulates her voice with electronics. Titles include "Sas Blues", "Bluesand", "Secret Games", "Fly Away", "Sombre Woods", and "Ribbon of Sand".

Nov 17, 2009

new Gil Scott-Heron

I'm sure a lot of people are way more informed about this than me, but it's certainly worth spreading the word...

The legendary singer and poet Gil Scott-Heron is releasing a new album. He has been so long out of the limelight that rumours had circulated that he was dead. As Newsnight's Stephen Smith discovered, he is very much alive and still kicking.

There's a nice clip on BBC:

And while we're here, there are some excellent GSH videos offered by Tales of Gil Scott-Heron

UPDATE Feb. 2010
At the excellent Breath of Life, Kalamu has posted most if not all of the new GSH album.
It'll be up there for the next week.

Nov 15, 2009

Walter Wanderley - Rain Forest

barabara sounds sez:

Swinging organ grooves from smooth bossa-lounge master Walter Wanderley. This was his first US recording, produced by Creed Taylor for Verve. The back cover of the original album was graced with a 'handwritten' blurb by crooner Tony Bennett: "If you like: Ella, Duke, Count, Sinatra... you'll love Walter Wanderly's music." Not sure about that at all. But the cover with its toucan and exotic pagan statue peering out of tropical foliage — that's classic. So is the wigged-out last half minute of the final track Bossa na Praia.

This certainly wasn't the first appearance of Rain Forest in the blogosphere — but it's a classic of its kind. So, in case anyone's missed it... it's now too late (DMCA takedown notification)

dusty sez:

An album that not only broke the bossa big in the US — but a set that also really helped transform the sound of the organ in jazz! Not only is the record a key meeting of bossa rhythms and jazz organ — transplanted hugely to the US after a big initial Wanderley run in 60s Brazil — but the set also features some of the cleanest organ lines to ever hit these shores -- a big difference from the heavier flutter that some of the US organists were using a few years before, and a sharp shift towards cleaner keyboard sounds for the rest of the decade. Instrumentation's nice and spare — mostly bass and percussion, plus a bit of flute and guitar — and titles include the massive hit "Summer Samba", plus "Rain", "Beach Samba", "Song Of The Jet", "Cried, Cried", and "Girl From Ipanema".

Nov 11, 2009

Changing The Jazz At Buckingham Palace - Tubby Hayes / Dizzy Reece

barabara sounds sez:
A tip of the hat to Bacoso over at the awesome Orgy in Rhythm who has delivered several fantastic Tubby posts recently. This one is only half Tubby — on the 2nd side Dizzy Reece takes over — but it's a good'un. You've got to love the tourist-brochure cover too (aimed at the US market?) complete with marching guards and bearskin helmets. Very 1950s kitschy.
This is from the Japanese CD reissue, and is part of the classic Savoy albums series collectively entitled 'Pre-Modern Jazz, (which sounds kind of strange to me).
For a full Tubby discography, how about this bilingual (English and Farsi) blog.

update: now in the comments, scans of the cover art.

dusty sez:
One of the rarest records on the Savoy label — and a crack session of British jazz featuring two of England's best players ever! The album's got a side of work apiece by Hayes and Reece — and the Hayes cuts are two long jammers with a laidback blowing session feel that works perfectly with his gutsy tenor. Players on those tunes include Harry South on piano and Dickie Hawdon on trumpet — and the titles are "Nicole" and "Hall Hears The Blues". The Reece material features a quartet on four tighter tunes, three of them Charlie Parker compositions ("Yardbird", "Blue Bird", and "Bluebird Number 2"), plus a mellow reading of "How Deep Is The Ocean". Reece's quartet features the great Phil Seamen on drums, and piano work by Terry Shannon, who's no slouch either! (HQ -- Hi Quality CD pressing!)

AMG (Ken Dryden) sez:
This compilation pairs two 1956 sessions led separately by tenor saxophonist Tubby Hayes and trumpeter Dizzy Reece. The opening track is pianist Harry South's slinky, extended hard bop blues "Hall Hears the Blues," in which the rhythm section (with bassist Pete Elderfield and drummer Bill Eyden) goes it alone for three minutes before Hayes and trumpeter Dick Hawdon make their presence known with outstanding back-to-back solos. The erroneous liner notes reproduced from the original album repeatedly refer to the leader as "Tubby Hall," making one wonder if the song title is also incorrect! Hayes takes charge from the kickoff of the quintet's midtempo rendition of Howard McGhee's "Nicole" (yet another variation of "I Got Rhythm"), though Hawdon is equal to the task of matching the tenor saxophonist with a superb solo of his own. The remaining four tracks feature Dizzy Reece with a quartet consisting of pianist Terry Shannon, bassist Lennie Bush, and drummer Phil Seamen. Reece focuses on songs composed or performed by Charlie Parker, offering two expressive interpretations of "Bluebird," along with a moving rendition of the standard "How Deep Is the Ocean?" and a spirited take of "Yardbird Suite" that showcases the rhythm section as well. Originally released bySavoy and finally reissued on a Japanese CD in 2000, this long unavailable music is worth investigating by hard bop fans who enjoy British jazz of the mid-'50s.

Nov 9, 2009

Olu Dara - In The World From Natchez to New York

barabara sounds sez:
Olu Dara was one of the go-to trumpeters of choice for the free jazz movement; he played with David Murray, Don Pullin and Henry Threadgill. He's even on the recent classic Roy Brooks reissue. Funny thing is, seems like he never really had his heart in the music. Turns out what he really felt was blues, country, folk, roots stuff... Listen to his first album as leader and you can hear it. It's about as far from free jazz as you can get. And it's great — in fact a barabara classic (whatever that might mean).
Factoid: the name Olu Dara is Yoruba for "God is good."
Another thing, he's got a famous son, apparently.

Check out this cool interview in jazz weekly. Then go buy his second album, Neighborhoods — it's every bit as good.

Olu Dara is a multi-talented entertainer who has been performing since he was 7 years old. Born in Natchez, MS, he has drawn on his Mississippi roots to create a mix of blues, jazz. gospel, R&B, Caribbean and African rhythms. Olu first landed in New York in 1963 after a stint in the US Navy which took him all over the world. From that time on, Olu has embarked on a career that spans the world of music, dance, and theater. In the 1980s Olu put together 2 ensembles: Okra Orchestra, a 7-plus-member band, and the Natchezsippi Dance Band, a 5-piece unit. Since then this has been Olu's preferred musical environment for creating the roots-based musical style that the audience now hears. His main recordings are "In the World: From Natchez To New York," and "Neighborhoods". A short sample of his numerous awards would include the following: New York Jazz Award for Stylistic Fusion; France's Django d'Or International Trophy in Blues category; three Audelco Awards; a Drama Desk nomination for "I Am a Man" by OyamO; induction into (2003)the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. In the Dance field, Olu has collaborated with choreographer Diane McIntyre for over 20 years. During his musical performances he plays the trumpet (pocket trumpet), a wooden aboriginal instrument that he picked up on his travels, the guitar, and the harmonica; in addition he always sings, vocalizing his many stories. Think of him as a modern equivalent of the itinerant traveling musician/historian of years past. As he puts it, "I sing about women, food, and life in general".

Nov 8, 2009

Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino - Concepts in Unity

barabara sounds sez:
Infectious. Brilliant. A classic. Probably the greatest latin/salsa album of all time. Don't believe me? Ask those in the know... sez:
An absolute classic, virtually impossible to find in its original double LP format (both LPs make up this single CD). Some consider these sessions, which are some of the finest examples of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Puerto Rican artistry, to be the embryo of Conjunto Libre. Manny Oquendo, Andy and Jerry Gonzalez, all Libre veterans, are central to this production... It's thrilling, it's lovely, and it's a must-have.

This is an absolute must. This 1975 release is important in many ways. It was the first Latin recording ever to be reviewed by 'Down Beat' magazine (the #1 jazz periodical), which thus recognized the music as an art form to be taken seriously. It also showcased the reaffirmation of a group of New York based Latino musicians to preserving the deep roots of the culture. We also get to hear the embryonic beginnings of the careers of Manny Oquendo & Libre, Dave Valentin, Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band, as well as folk legends like 'Chocolate' and the late Virgilio Marti. Produced by the ubiquitous Rene Lopez and Andy Kaufman, this recording oozes soul and sabor. " (Bobby Sanabria 98/99 Catalog)

amazon sez:
The legendary Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino was composed of the finest New York Puerto Rican & Cuban musicians, who combined their own traditional music with the Latin sounds heard on the streets of New York City.

dusty sez:
A landmark set of highly percussive tracks! Back in the mid-70's, when Salsoul was still recording Latin music and not disco, they put out this great double album of traditional Latin percussion playing by the new revivalist Grupo Folklorico, which featured Virgilo Marti and other great New York Latin percussion players of the time. The album's a totally stripped-down mix of tracks that manages to swing all the way through — grooving in mode that has lots of the descarga touches of the 60s scene, and the mix of traditional and newer styles of the 70s years. This CD includes all the tracks from the double album, including "Cuba Linda", "Choco's Guajira", "A Papa Y Mama", and "Adelaida".

Andy Gonzalez bass and leader; Manny Oquendo timbales, bongos and percussion: Jerry Gonzalez trumpet and percussion; Gene Golden congas, bata drums and percussion; Nelson Gonzalez tres; Oscar Hernandez piano; Eddy Zervigon flute; Jorge Luis Maldonado vocals; Pedro “Pedrito” Martinez vocals, bata drums and percussion; Reynaldo Jorge trombone; Eddie Venegas trombone and violin; Abraham Rodriguez vocals, bata drums and percussion; Tony Rosa congas, bata drums and percussion; Guido Gonzalez trumpet; plus surprise guests.

Song titles:
Cuba Linda; Choco's Guajira; Anabacoa; Adelaida; Luz Delja; Carmen La Ronca; Canto Asoyin; Canto Ebioso; A Papa Y Mama; Iya Modupue

Nov 5, 2009

Soul Fingers ...and Funky Feet - a Blue Note compilation

barabara sounds sez:
When this Japan-only compilation came out in 1990, most of the tracks were OOP and unavailable on CD; these days there's little in the Blue Note vaults that hasn't been excavated. Even so, it's a fine compilation of swinging organ grooves from the (mostly) 60s, ranging from Baby Face Willette and Jimmy Smith to Lonnie Smith and Richard Groove Holmes. The top cut is the last one: Stanley Turrentine blowing some soulful sax on God Bless The Child, over Shirley Scott's smoldering keyboards.
And yes there ought to be some crap cover award for those wooly mittens — totally unworthy of the Blue Note name and label.

Nov 2, 2009

Dino Saluzzi - Kultrum

dusty sez:
Haunting sounds from one of the most overlooked musicians on ECM — bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi, an artist who easily made some of the most compelling work for the label during the 80s! Dino handles all instrumentation here himself — using bandoneon both in traditional ways, and in really experimental modes — and mixing it up with added percussion and flutes, plus just a bit of voice as well — all in a sound with echoes of older South American folk, tinges of European modernism, and a pan-global sensibility that's really unique. Titles include "El Rio Y El Abuelo", "Pasos Que Quedan", "Por El Sol Y Por La Lluvia", "Gabriel Kondor", "Kulturum Pampa", and "Agua De Paz".

barabara sounds sez:
Even for ECM this one is way out there. It's bandoneon but it's a long long way from tango. It's a bit folky, as in Western folk music; a lot folkloric, as in non-European; a bit improvisational; a lot like a soundtrack for an art-house gaucho movie. Atmospheric late-night sounds. Enjoy.