Dec 28, 2010

Nathan Davis - London By Night

barabara sounds sez:
In my book Nathan Davis can do no wrong. That said, if I had to choose a decade, I would always go for his '60s sides (such as Peace Treaty and Funny Girl) above his later works. But by anyone else's standards, London By Night — from 1987 and, yes, recorded in the UK capital over a couple of nights — is a fine album and Davis is in great fettle on his horns (soprano as well as tenor) and also flute. The title track swings nicely, though the standout track for me is the beautiful Rio de Janeiro. If there's one glitch, it's the anachronistic Beatles cover. But that comes right at the end so you can just program it out. This one's from the Disk Union CD reissue...

dusty sez:
Overlooked genius from reedman Nathan Davis – a later session that's a bit more straight ahead than some of his 70s work, and a date that really gets back to some of the best soulful energy of his records from the 60s! Davis is recorded here in very sympathetic company – players who share some of the best energies he picked up on the expatriate scene during his famous time overseas – Dusky Goykovich on trumpet, Kenny Drew on piano, Jimmy Woode on bass, and Al Leavitt on drums! There's an easygoing soul jazz groove to the whole set, with a slight touch of modernism – and in addition to tenor, Davis also plays some wonderful soprano sax – handling the horn with stretched-out soulfulness that makes him one of the undisputed masters of the instrument.

A couple more enthusiastic quotes:
Rough Guide sez: "Shows Nathan Davis at the top of his post-bop form"
Penguin Guide sez: "Could almost be from an undiscovered Jazz Messengers tape. Goykovich's flugelhorn has a fat, luxuriant quality that that blends well with Davis... there are fine, controlled solos all round, notably on 'Dr Bu', where the Blakey/Messengers debt is most openly acknowledged..."

Nathan Davis (tenor sax, soprano sax, flute); Dusko Gojkovic (trumpet, flugelhorn); Kenny Drew (piano); Jimmy Woode (bass); Al Levitt (drums); Stan Robinson, Jean Toussaint (tenor sax on Shades)

Noite Em Leblon; I Thought About You; Rio De Janeiro; London By Night; Dr Bu; But Beautiful; You've Changed; Shades; Lament; If I Fell

Boathouse Studios, London (04/17/1987-04/18/1987)

Dec 25, 2010

Listen, The Snow Is Falling

barabara sounds sez:
Merry holidays to all my blogosphere friends — and everyone else.

And for everyone in Europe (and elsewhere) stuck in the snow: stop... look... and listen! Stay warm and well!

Dec 20, 2010

Gil Evans Orchestra - Blues in Orbit

barabara sounds sez:
More big band madness as Gil embraces the rhythms of rock and fuses them with free (-ish) jazz charts. There's some really good stuff on here, especially the George Russell-penned title track, but I'm not sure it really adds up to a cohesive whole. That's probably because it's been welded together from two different sessions two years apart. Not (despite what Yawno says) a classic. But still mighty fine...

the guardian (John Fordham) sez:
An intriguing and overlooked curiosity from the great arranger/composer Gil Evans..., the German label Enja having remastered it and restored it to the catalogue. These eight pieces (recorded in 1969 and 1971) track the tentative and always cliche-free flirtations with jazz-fusion that marked Evans's later career - as well as his growing confidence in a looser, collective approach. Half of this programme features Evans's lightly sketched originals, including the brooding Variation On the Misery with its tremulous brass whoops over dark trombone chords, the free-jazz fanfare of Proclamation and the anthemic So Long, a vehicle for the rugged, hollow-toned tenor sax of Billy Harper. …a shade baffled, it's nonetheless a key piece in the Evans jigsaw.

AMG (Scott Yanow) sez:
Gil Evans's first recording as a leader in five years found him leading an orchestra that could be considered a transition between his 1950s groups and his somewhat electric band of the 1970s. Several of these charts, particularly his reworking of George Russell's "Blues in Orbit," are quite memorable, and Evans utilizes his many interesting sidemen, including the distinctive voices of trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, Howard Johnson on tuba and baritone, tenor-saxophonist Billy Harper and guitarist Joe Beck, in unexpected and unpredictable ways. A near-classic release...

Dec 5, 2010

Ravi Coltrane - Mad 6

AAJ (Mark F.Turner) sez:

Recorded in New York in 2002... the ten selections were recorded with two different groups, including the talents of pianist George Colligan and bassist James Genus on one half of the tracks with pianist Andy Milne and bassist Darryl Hall on the other half. Both groups share the skills of drummer Steve Hass.

Ravi bookends the set with two of his father’s compositions “26-2” and “Fifth House”; each delivered with contemporary facelifts. His tenor tone is deep and muscular as he delivers angular and quick notes. On the aforementioned cuts the tempos are fast with Ravi and Colligan trading burning solos. Ravi is also equipped with a potent soprano arsenal on Jimmy Heath’s “Ginger Bread Boy” and Thelonious Monk’s timeless “Round Midnight,” which is reborn with a very funky groove.

Ravi’s own selections are also significant as he adds odd cadences on “Avignon“ and “The Return of the Olymbus.” Steve Hass delivers polyrhythms galore and Genus and Hall also provide staunch bass lines and solos. Slower selections continue to reveal a lush tenor sound on Mingus’s “Self Portrait in Three Colors”. The selection ends with Ravi silhouetting the melody behind a nice bass solo by James Genus.

BBC (Peter Marsh) sez:

This is a pretty fierce blowing session; the opening "26-2" (one of the album's two John Coltrane tunes) bursts out of the traps like a greyhound on steroids. The leaders's tenor wraps itself with an easy grace around the kind of fierce, metrically tricky pulse that Dave Holland excels at. This kind of rhythmic cut and thrust informs most of Ravi's original tunes; there are echoes too of Steve Colman's cerebral fun moves (particularly on "Between Lines"). But there's a warmth here often absent in Coleman's work.

Like his dad, Ravi has a gift for choosing drummers. Steve Hass propels two different quartet lineups with intelligence and a formidable technique which suggests he's been listening to the cutups of drum 'n' bass as much as Tony Williams or Roy Haynes. Like Billy Kilson or Marvin Smith, he's always up to something worth listening to, while on the slower tunes he's beautifully unobtrusive. Mingus's "Self Portrait in Three Colours" is especially lovely, with George Colligan's plangent piano underpinning an emotive, considered solo from the leader. Similarly Monk's "Ask Me Now" (opening with sweet solo statement from bassist James Genus) gets a sympathetic treatment...

barabara sounds sez:

This is probably my favorite of Ravi Coltrane's albums as leader. But you have to hear the man playing live — especially if it was alongside his mother. Not that I did — but there are two brilliant live sets posted over at Ish's wonderful Ile Oxumare, here and here.

He's currently on a short US tour — details here. And you can hear a few tracks over at his web site here...

Nov 26, 2010

Reverie - Reverie

barabara sounds sez:
I don't know much about this band or this album, other than what's here in front of me: a limited edition reissue of the band's first album which originally came out in 1980.
It appears they were together for a dozen years or so, made 3 or 4 albums and gigged solidly without making too much impact (except in Philly, where apparently they were 'legendary')...

On some of these tracks you can tell they spent plenty of time listening to Weather Report. And interestingly, bassist Gerald Veasley went on to play with the Zawinul Syndicate for some seven years (also with Grover Washington and plenty others). None of the other band members seem to have made it big, but they certainly had pretty fine chops. Whether or not you like the music will depend on what your take is on fusion/electro jazz.

Mark Knox keyboards; Ed Yellen sax; Gerald Veasley bass; Jim Miller drums; also Stan Slatter trumpet, flugelhorn, flute; Larry Coryell guitar (track 4)

There's some footage of Reverie in action here and here and here.
Also a nice number featuring Veasley with the Joe Zawinul Syndicate here...
And I just noticed that he's also featured on a couple of Odean Pope albums here and here, posted recently by PostMiles.

Nov 20, 2010

Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra - Ten Gallon Shuffle

barabara sounds sez:
I have to say I usually spend more time looking at cowgirls than I do listening to big bands... But I definitely make an exception with Toshiko's adventures with Lew Tabackin. She handled all the arrangements; he was the featured soloist on flute and sax. And they made the kind of joyful sound I still enjoy (like a guilty secret)...
Little known factoid: this album has its own Facebook page.

Dusty sez:
A hokey title and cover, but a great little record — a lesser-known gem from the Toshiko Akioshi big band, recorded in the mid 80s for Japanese release! Toshiko's still working strongly with reedman Lew Tabackin here — and as always, the sound of the reeds really make the record — not only on the bold ensemble passages, but also on the snakey, well-crafted solos that slide out of the fuller arrangements — letting Lew, Frank Wess and Jim Snidero contribute some really great work on the longer tracks. Titles include "Ten Gallon Shuffle", "Fading Beauty", "Blue Dream", and "Happy Hoofer" — and in case you're wondering, that's a young Monday Michiru on the cover!

Toshiko Akiyoshi: arranger, piano; Lew Tabackin: flute, tenor sax; Joe Mosella: trumpet; John Eckert: trumpet; Brian Lynch: trumpet; Chris Albert: trumpet; Hart Smith: trombone; Chris Seiter trombone; Conrad Herwig: trombone; Phil Teele: bass trombone; Frank Wess alto sax, flute, soprano sax; Jim Snidero alto sax, clarinet, flute; Walt Weiskopf: clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax; Ed Xiques baritone sax, bass clarinet, soprano sax; Mike Forminek bass; Scott Robinson drums

Nov 9, 2010

Hino-Kikuchi Quartet - Counter Current

barabara sounds sez:
Two of the finest jazzmen from Japan's golden age of modal/fusion/free exploration. And they're still laying it down. Unlike some of their contemporaries (Sadao W. springs to mind immediately), these guys still have plenty to say. This album was one of two they cut in 2007 — this one a quintet format; the other (Edges) a duo. Both are now hard to lay hands on even here, and can cost a pretty penny in the rest of the world.

Counter Current brings the pair together with a multi-generational trio to explore another set of originals, this time almost exclusively by Kikuchi. The effect is that of strangers on a long train ride trying to find out what they have in common but amiably engaging in disagreements along the way. Hino is more muted, allowing more room for the cultured musings of Michael Attias' alto (who also contributes one piece). And Kikuchi forms part of a remarkably porous rhythm section, Thomas Morgan's Charlie Haden-esque bass gently overlaying Paul Motian's drums, like a bullfrog jumping languidly from lily pad to lily pad on a still pond. Though the instrumentation is typically modern, the feeling is not overly cerebral. Counter Current, like Edges, is an apt name for this beguiling document.


J.L.L. (ver.1); Sky Over Rain Forest; Blue in Yellow (for Mark Rothko); Misery on the Hudson; Making the Elephant Run (ver. 1); Making the Elephant Run (ver. 2); J.L.L. (ver.2).


Terumasa Hino: trumpet; Masabumi Kikuchi: piano; Michael Attias: alto sax; Thomas Morgan; bass; Paul Motian: drums.

For earlier work by these two guys, head over to the inestimable Orgy in Rhythm, where you will find Bacoso has posted a good number of their classic older albums.

And Katonah recently posted another, the brilliant Wishes, at his equally excellent Private Press.

Essential listening!

Nov 2, 2010

Tubby Hayes - Return Visit

barabara sounds sez:
Tubby Hayes from 1962... He's in NYC, been playing gigs down in the Village, and he goes into the studio with a scratch group of musicians, most of whom have never heard of him before.
There's Walter Bishop Jr. on piano — he's the only one who's ever actually played with Tubby; the rhythm section is Sam Jones and Louis Hayes; on tenor there's James Moody (for contractual reasons he goes by the unimaginative alias of 'Jimmy Gloomy'); and then there's a reed player who has an array of horns with improbably names, many of which he plays at once — yup, Roland Kirk. Not bad for a tag team...
It doesn't take them long to gell and to jam. Produced by Quincy Jones, it's a great date. Tubby sounds commanding on vibes as well as his usual sax, and he's definitely not overawed by the company. Enjoy.

AMG (Yanow) sez:
One of Britain’s top jazz musicians of the 1950s and ’60s, Tubby Hayes was a fine hard bop stylist on tenor and occasionally vibes and flute. A professional at 15, Hayes... co-led the Jazz Couriers with Ronnie Scott (1957-59), and appeared in the U.S. a few times during 1961-65. He headed his own big band in London, sat in with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra in 1964, and was featured at many European festivals. Heart trouble forced him out of action during 1969-1971, and caused his premature death. Tubby Hayes led sessions for Tempo (1955-1959), London, Jazzland (1959), Fontana, Epic (a 1961 date with Clark Terry and Horace Parlan), Smash (a 1962 album which matched him with James Moody and Roland Kirk), 77, Spotlite, and Mole.

David Baxter sez:
A Saturday morning in June 1962 and Tubby Hayes arrives at the recording studio on West 48th Street in New York City... Introductions are made. One member wonders who Tubby Hayes is, asks if he's a rock 'n' roll singer... Producer Quincy Jones suggests maybe they get started. But what to play? They don't have a play list, have never rehearsed. Apart from pianist Walter Bishop Jnr, Tubbs has never met any of them. Quincy suggests they warm up with a blues, and they choose `Stitt's Tune`, the theme of Tubb's old band The Jazz Couriers — Tubbs and Gloomy on tenor sax, Roland Kirk providing counter melody on manzello and stritch, his customary hybrid horns.
Next it's a minor blues - a Kirk original 'I See With My Third "I"', then a ballad medley, including 'Alone Together,' one of Tubbs' favourites. Next Tubbs switches to vibes for 'Afternoon In Paris,' with solos from Kirk and Gloomy on tenors and Bishop on piano, and an unrehearsed coda from one-man brass section Kirk on tenor, manzello and stritch. They round off the session with another Kirk original 'Lady "E"', with Tubbs still on vibes and Kirk on flute.
And then they're through. Just time for bassist and drummer Sam Jones and Louis Hayes to get to Birdland and Kirk to the Five Spot for their first sets, and for Tubbs to return to the UK. In the space of just a few short hours they've recorded an exciting and memorable jazz album. That's how it was and them were the days.

Tubby Hayes tenor sax, vibes; Roland Kirk tenor sax, manzello, flute, nose flute, stritch; Jimmy Gloomy tenor sax, flute; Walter Bishop Jr. piano; Sam Jones bass; Louis Hayes drums

1. Afternoon In Paris 5:46; 2. I See My Third "I" 9:27; 3. Lady "E" 3:15; 4. Stitt's Tune 9:51; 5. Medley: If I Had You; Alone Together; For Heaven's Sake 7:24

Want to get more Tubby?

There's plenty of early Tubby Hayes — plus lots more — over at BritJazz

Oct 8, 2010

Yoshinori Sunahara - Take Off and Landing

barabara sounds sez:
I'm going to be traveling some more over the next couple of weeks. So before I clamber into my big old jet airliner, here's Yoshinori Sunahara with his retro-futuristic vision — space-flights out of Shinjuku Underground Airport, with Paris just 80 minutes away, Vancouver 90 minutes and less than 2 hours to reach Sydney.

Back in 1998, The Times gave it a very generous 9/10. Now, the concept and music definitely feel dated — but there are some fine moments. And the artwork is brilliant (scans included). So fasten your seat belt, sit back and let the plane take the strain…

The Times (RC) sed:
When a dance album features steel drums and the lyrics of Sammy Cahn, one can safely assume it's going to be an interesting 70 minutes. Take Off and Landing is an elegant and expansive affair based on the theme of a fictional Tokyo underground airport. A virtual reality album that relies on your imagination, not headsets.

On Life and Space, the disembodied voice of a BBC-style continuity announcer intones over a backing track reminiscent of Brian Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain. There's a nod to the Art of Noise on No Sun, while a Minnie Ripperton [sic] melody line floats through Sony Romantic Electro Wave. On the concluding track, Welcome to Japan, Yoshinori appears to have time-stretched the opening bars of Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World into an infinite symphony. It is as beautiful as it sounds.

Oct 7, 2010

Snowboy presents... Essential Cuban, Brazilian Hard Bop + Fusion

barabarasounds sez:

Folks over in the UK will know a lot more than me about Snowboy and this album. What I do know is that when he came through Tokyo — it was around the time this album came out — he destroyed the dance floor. The title says it all: a seamless blend of classic and contemporary, jazz and cubano and latin jazz, the insistent rhythms of Rio and Bahia, and even some afrobeat. Needless to say, it's a banger from start to finish!

As a DJ and percussionist, Snowboy's jazz-dance nights in the nineties and noughties are now legendary — as documented in his 2009 book, "From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz: The History Of The UK Jazz Dance Scene" — available here...

an amazon reviewer sez:

I bought this album on a whim,within 20 minutes I was hooked.The brilliant Snowboy has compiled a real foot tapping,hip swinging,sounds of sunny days in Havana type piece. From the flute, bass and piano-driven "(Used to be a) Cha-Cha" to the big-band0era feel of "La Habana Sol"… superb jazz for the soul!!

discogs sez:

As DJ, producer, percussionist and band leader (The Latin Seeds), Snowboy has been spreading the word of Afro-Cuban Jazz for over three decades… He began as a DJ in the 1970's, also learning percussion… He also ran the Hi-Hat Jazz-Dance Club at the Jazz Cafe in Camden Town, London, which has been a cornerstone of the jazz dance scene surviving all other club fads... Considered as one of the most knowledgeable jazz dance DJ's worldwide, he has even showcased UK jazz dance music and dancing, with a troupe of dancers, at Yale University in the USA in 2009.

NME sed (6/30/01):

"...This is mad, effervescent Latin jazz fusion to dance to... filling a tiny weird niche brilliantly…"

There's a good review of Snowboy's book here in Mondomix

And plenty more on his own web site...

Oct 5, 2010

Malik Yaqub - Yaqub Speaks, Vol. 1

barabara sounds sez:
I've been away recently (and will be again shortly) — but I don't need to be posting much at the moment, there's so much other good stuff out there.

Currently I'm grooving on the most incredible track by Malik Yaqub, a clip posted by cinemafunk. If you read Spanish (I don't — but google translate will give you the gist) you can find all about Yaqub and his outside life around Europe. If you don't, then just scroll down to the two clips at the bottom. One is a live snippet from the 6th Jazz in Tangier Festival (2005), featuring the legendary Salah Ragab & his Cairo Jazz Band.

But it's the other clip that transports me. I'm not sure of the track name, but It seems to have a radio introduction, suggesting it was recorded off the air.

Wait, there's more — thanks to a couple of my favourite regular haunts in the blogosphere...
Get yourself over to the mighty El Reza and to Katonah's Private Press, and you'll find a couple more tracks from Yaqub's ultra-rare album...


Sep 20, 2010

Franco Ambrosetti - Movies + Movies, Too

barabara sounds sez:

Another double header, this time on enja. Swiss trumpeter Franco Ambrosetti's two fine albums, featuring takes on a range of movie theme tunes (or just tunes featured in movies), aided and abetted by some top sidemen. Two separate sessions, from 1987 and 88 (though Ambrosetti's own site says a year earlier than that).

I was dubious at first (after all Yawno recommends them) but there is, as he says, some great jazz on these albums.

And yes these are all my own rips and scans (from the JP remasters) thank you very much.

enja sez:

Born in 1941 in Lugano (Switzerland), Franco Ambrosetti started his recording career in 1964 as a sideman with his father Flavio, then a famous alto sax player. In years to follow he received several trumpet awards, was voted "Best European Jazz Musician" in Italy and was called "the most elegant hard bop trumpeter Europe has ever known." Dedicated to famous film melodies (by Gershwin, Lennon/McCartney, Hancock a.o.) and featuring American star players John Scofield and Geri Allen, "Movies" was Ambrosetti's most successful album in the eighties. Its re-definings of some well-known songs received top ratings, among them the prestigious German Critics Award. British Jazz Journal reads: "Comparisons could be drawn between Ambrosetti and Lester Bowie, in that both have blended gentle satire and serious blowing, but the Italo-Swiss has pulled off the idea with flair and taste."

amg (yanow) sez:

Movies: When one considers the repertoire — eight songs from movies. including the theme from The Magnificent Seven and the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" — this recording may not seem to have much potential. But actually, the set list includes four well-known standards (including "That Old Black Magic" and "Falling In Love Again"), and all of the music is transformed into creative and consistently exciting jazz. Trumpeter/flugelhornist Franco Ambrosetti is the lead voice, but gives plenty of solo space to his illustrious sidemen... and the performances are generally quite memorable. Recommended.

Movies, Too: This second CD of movie themes once again finds flugelhornist Franco Ambrosetti transforming some unpromising themes into jazz (including "Theme from Superman," "Theme from Peter Gunn" and "What's New, Pussycat"), in addition to better-known standards such as "My Man," "Angel Eyes" and "God Bless the Child"... Well worth checking out.


Movies: Franco Ambrosetti trumpet, flugelhorn; John Scofield guitar; Geri Allen keyboards; Michael Foremanek bass; Daniel Humair drums; Jerry Gonzalez percussion

Movies, Too: Franco Ambrosetti trumpet, flugelhorn; John Scofield guitar; Greg Osby alto sax; Geri Allenkeyboards; Michael Foremanek bass; Daniel Humair drums

Arkadin posted a much earlier Ambrosetti album, A Jazz Portrait of... over at his place — here...