Dec 30, 2009

Lazaro Ros and Grupo Olorun - Olorun I

barabara sounds sez:
Here's another album I picked up on the same trip. There are plenty of people who know a lot more than me about the Yoruba/Orisha religion and the praise music for the various gods. All I can say is that the old religion of the Mother Continent underpins all the music that comes out of Cuba. On one level, the rhythms of the drumming and the call and response-style chanting seem simple; but at the same time they are compelling and profound. This is probably the first time this music has appeared in the blogosphere.

Here's a comprehensive list of Orisha music (originally put together by Ish, the man behind the primo, not-to-be-missed Ile Oxumare) that offers a multitude of possibilities for further listening.
And here is an article on women's contribution to the sacred music. Definitely worth a read.

Dec 28, 2009

Juan Formell y Los Van Van - Te Pone La Cabeza Mala

barabara sounds sez:

Los Van Van are playing Key West later today, so in honor of this new crack in the musical embargo, it's time to dust off this old CD... and a host of memories along with it.

It was 1997 and we were in Santiago de Cuba for Carnaval (it happens in mid-summer, not at mardi gras time) and we heard a rumor that Juan Formell and his crew were going to play a free gig, but nobody knew when. Turned out they had to wait until after Fidel's speech finished (it was being broadcast on every radio in the city). That eventually happened some time after midnight -- after a mere 4 and a half hours (short for the legendary long-winded el Jefe). The crowd was huge, and the cheap malty slightly sour beer dispensed from ancient tanker trucks soon ran out, but it was definitely a memorable night.

Te Pone La Cabeza Mala (standard translation: 'You make my head spin') was a massive hit on the island at the time, and each time they sang the chorus everyone made this spinning circular motion around their heads. These days I don't listen to timba too much, but at the time those indefatigable incessant rhythms were fresh, a new direction with Juan Formell in the vanguard. Needless to say, I went out and picked up the CD the next day, just for the title track alone.

There's a bit more on Los Van Van here.

blue note nonstop 60 trax

barabara sounds sez:

Here we go with the full album complete with artist/track names. In case anyone missed the first post, this was a Japan-only sampler CD issued in 1999 to mark Blue Note's 60th anniversary. What you get is 60 snippets from some of the biggest artists on the label -- most of the obvious names and some classic riffs.

Dec 27, 2009

barabara brainteaser pt.2

Here's the album again, this time with the tracks separated.
And here's a clue: the track names are arranged in alphabetical order.

Dec 26, 2009

blue note nonstop 60 trax - a barabara brainteaser

Here's a barabara sounds Boxing Day brainteaser to nurse your neurons back to life after all that Christmas over-indulgence...

Blue Note Nonstop 60 Trax was a Japan-only sampler CD issued in 1999 to mark the label's 60th anniversary. As the name suggests, you get 60 snippets from most of the big-name artists, some of them classic riffs and some perhaps less known. So can you figure them out?

Today's post is the whole album nonstop; to make it easier, tomorrow I'll post a new link with the tracks separated; and after that, I'll post it again with the tracks identified.

Then, go over to the prodigious and brilliant Black Classical for some serious Blue Note action. Greg's Blue Note 70 mix — marking the 70th anniversary this year — is still up and still sounds outstanding.
[update: unfortunately Greg's blog is now long gone]

Dec 24, 2009

Asylum Street Spankers - Merry Christmas Baby

A whole album of Spankers weirdness is far too much to take, even with the festive theme. But here's clarinetist and all-round hipster Stanley Smith delivering the Yuletide greetings in his inimitable way. And if you don't know Stanley (and few do) you need to check out his bluesy album In the Land of Dreams — it's one of those under-the-radar lost-in-the-ozone all-time classics.

A very Merry Christmas to one and all.

Dec 21, 2009

Kronos Quartet - Winter Was Hard

barabara sounds sez:
Chilly weather all around the globe it seems (well, northern hemisphere only of course) so the time seems right for this old favorite. For free-jazz heads (and maybe for free jazzheads too), it's the John Zorn track that may grab — though it's far from jazz. More accessible is Lurie's more stately Bella by Barlight and the lovely choral title track. And the last track is a gas.

an amazon reviewer sez:
This is a terrific CD. From Webern to John Lurie, to John Zorn's wild "Forbidden Fruit," to a stunning rendition of Barber's Adagio in its original String Quartet form, this album rocks. Okay, probably not the most appropriate description of a string quartet album, but it does — it rocks. I think this is my favorite recording of the Barber Adagio. Some challenging pieces, but for anyone that loves contemporary classical music, this is a great set.

Dec 18, 2009

Nathan Davis Sextet - Peace Treaty

barabara sounds sez:

The Nathan Davis Sextet from 1965, recorded in Paris with Woody Shaw on trumpet and issued on the SFP label. It's a classic — the man himself says so:

"The idea of naming the album "Peace Treaty" arose from the various meetings held between American and North Vietnam in Paris in an attempt to negotiate a cease fire and peace treaty during the Vietnamese Conflict.

It was during this period that I dedicated a lot of tunes that i was composing to the idea of peace, love and non-violence. When Claude Lenissois first approached me to do an album, he suggested that we record at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees because they had a good track record of producing good sound.

Everything fell into place because i was working steady with Kenny Clarke, René Urtreger, Jimmy Gourley Woody Shaw and Jean-Louis Chautemps on a regular basis at the 'Blue Note'. So we all had to do was fly Jimmy Woode in from Germany where he was living at the time.

Donald Byrd was also living in Paris and occasionally played with us at the Blue Note, so he came in and helped produce the record.

Time has proven it to be a classic."

Nathan T. Davis, Jan. 2007 — from the liner notes for the reissue CD

Nathan Davis - tenor & soprano sax

Woody Shaw - trumpet

Jean-Louis Chautemps - baritone sax

René Urtreger - piano

Jimmy Woode - bass

Kenny Clarke - drums

Jimmy Gourley - guitar

Dec 14, 2009

Babatunde Lea - Umbo Weti: A Tribute to Leon Thomas

A big shout out to Ish at the essential ile oxumare for bringing this one to my attention. The mail man delivered the CD a couple of days back and it's really worth the outlay (yes, the yen's strong these days). Percussionist Babatunde Lea is the real deal, he's played with the likes of Pharoah Sanders, Joe Henderson and Idris Ackamoor — as well as the late, great Leon Thomas, whose music, influence and life are celebrated here in a strong spiritual set recorded live. There's some nice video footage of the gig included too.

Read more about it over at ile oxumare — and then go over to motema for the full lowdown (plus there's a free download to whet your appetite).

Dec 12, 2009

Directions in Music: Celebrating Miles Davis & John Coltrane - Herbie Hancock/Michael Brecker/Roy Hargrove

barabara sounds sez:

Naima is one of those magic numbers that kisses almost every musician that tries it on (and the rest of us). Just listen to Michael Brecker playing his heart out on this version. The rest of the album has plenty of moments too – hardly surprising given the line-up here – but that one track alone is worth the price of admission.

dusty sez:

We have to admit, we had a lot of misgivings about this project before we gave it a chance and listened to it all the way through — but after all was said and done, we were quite impressed! While Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove and Michael Brecker all have the chops, recognition and reputations to make as many new recordings as they'd like, without resorting to pandering tributes, this project actually works beautifully and makes great sense. The group is rounded out by the elastic rhythms provided by John Patitucci (who seems to have graduated well beyond the sort of 6 string noodling he usually purveys) and Brian Blade. In most cases, we'd rather hear Miles doing Miles and Trane doing Trane, but this group manages to capture both the dark, brooding beauty of Miles' music and the deeper, soulful vein that Coltrane mined. Herbie sounds the best we've heard in ages and the highlight of this live set is a medley of Miles' "So What" and Coltrane's "Impressions", while the rest of the set is made up mostly of originals (2 more Coltrane pieces, "Naima" and "Tansition" are included) composed by members of the group like Hancock's "The Sorcerer" and Hargrove's "The Poet". sez

From the downbeat of the opening tune, The Sorcerer, Herbie Hancock reminds us why he was and is one of the most sought after pianist in the genre. His deftness, technique and mastery of the instrument and the music holds this group together with the same quality that he was noted for while a sideman for Miles Davis in the 60s. He masterfully connects this group’s form together and its opening sets the tone for the whole recording.

Whereas Michel Brecker isn’t considered to be in the forefront of the classical jazz idiom, his presence on this record is no aberration. He definitely shines in a solo rendition of Coltrane’s Naima. He proves, that his study of the master tenor man’s style has influenced his greatly. His own contribution to the project entitled, D-Train, is a fifteen-minute epilogue. It meanders through different time signatures while holding steady to its defining rhythm. Herbie Hancock does some of his best work on the recording in the improv section.

The young lion added to the project is Roy Hargrove. The ever-emerging Grammy award-winning trumpeter is no less than continuing the line of great players that spun the likes of Miles Davis. From is his first solo on The Sorcerer, where he begins his playing away from the microphone and hits you with an unyielding fury of notes and sound, the listener will be encompassed. Hargrove’s contribution, The Poet, is an obvious attempt, and by his own admission, to make use of space in the music. Space in the music is a trademark of Davis’. And like Davis, in this piece he seems to be searching for something in the music. His play is an example of his growth both as composer and soloist.

Another worth-reading review here too

And another date from the same tour (Aspen) was posted here on drfusion.blogspot

Dec 7, 2009

Chucho Valdés - Briyumba Palo Congo (Religion Of The Congo)

barabara sounds sez:
Too much talk about virtuosity and prodigious technique, not enough about the passion and balls that the great Chucho Valdés brings to the table. Catch him live and you'll be blown away.
Like the recent Sabu post, this album is inspired by the traditional rhythms of Cuba's 'Religion of the Congo' — but apart from the sheer percussive power, it's a very diffferent beast. In Chateau Barabara, it's an all-time classic.

Jazziz sez:
Pianist Valdés once again puts Cuban and American music through the speed blender of his imposing technique, swirling together cuban secular dance rhythms and religious music with swing, bop, modal, and free jazz at a dizzying pace. His second Blue Note effort away from Irakere (his long-standing Afro-Cuban answer to the Jazz Messengers) spotlights his staggering chops with a quartet featuring bassist Francisco Rubio Pampin, drummer Ra·l Pineda Roque, and percussionist Robert Vizcaino Guillet.

"El Rumbon," played over an uncharacteristically fast guaguanco rhythm, features the pianist's surreal changes of direction, as he cartwheels between hammered two-note drum patterns, McCoy Tyner-ish chords, blindingly fast lines, and blues licks. Ellington's "Caravan" features devilish left-hand patterns and accents that explode into dark, atonal note clusters, then downshift into the type of four-four chording that Erroll Garner would have related to. Valdés saves the most audacious ideas until the end of the album. "Ponle le Clave" grafts the basic clave rhythm and montuno piano vamps onto a 7/4 meter. Gershwin's familiar "Rhapsody in Blue" is reshaped as an elegant danzün.

The title track, the most experimental on the disc, blends a celebratory Palo religious chant with stride and gospel accents from Valdés. Then it opens into a free-tempo exchange between singers, percussionists, and piano, before ending with an unaccompanied piano solo that alternates between frantic energy and quiet lyricism. Sometimes, the pianist's skill and overheated imagination can get the better of him, turning the music into directionless technical displays, but when everything clicks, there are few more exciting or provocative pianists in jazz.

Chucho Valdes (piano, background vocals); Mayra Caridad Valdes, Juan "Chan" Campo Cardenas (vocals); Joaquin Olivero Gavilan (Cuban wooden flute); Francisco Rubio Pampin (acoustic bass, background vocals); Raul Pineda Roque (drums, background vocals); Roberto Vizcaino Guillot (congas, bata drums, background vocals); Haila Mompie Gonzalez (background vocals)