Dec 25, 2013

Shibuya Jazz Classics - Sleep Walker collection

barabara sounds sez: 
Just in time for Christmas, another bundle of tip-top J-jazz, all culled from the excellent label that was Columbia-Takt. This compilation was put together by the guys of Sleep Walker. Eleven gems for the holiday season. Not the first time it's been seen in the blogosphere I believe, but too good not to post.

Enjoy! And best wishes to one and all for the holiday season!

Toshiko Akiyoshi - Phrygian Waterfall; Hino-Kikuchi Quintet - H.G. and pretty; Eddie Daniels - This is new; Norio Maeda - Alpha ray; Tadayuki Harada & His Group - Cinnamon and clove; George Otsuka Trio - Blues by five; Sadao Watanabe - Mas que nada; Hiroshi Suzuki-Masahiko Togashi Quintet - Castle cats; Sadao & Charlie - Palisades; Hiroshi Okazaki & His Stargazers - Flamenco sketch; Kazuo Yashiro Trio - The black nag

Dec 18, 2013

Horace Silver - the Tokyo Blues

Damn. And blessings. 
It seems it was a hoax. 
Great news to wake up to.
And glad to keep this up as a post...

Happy Blues from Tokyo…

And lots more about this great album over here…

Nov 19, 2013

Doug Hammond - Spaces

barabara sounds sez: 
More excavated Tribe sounds. It's been over 20 years since Disk Union brought this out here – and it was originally recorded ten years before that, back in 1982. But – like the David Durrah/qpsm album I posted – it kind of fell through the crack into the abyss of oblivion, at least it did on these shores. And that is really too bad. Because like everything else the Tribe tribe and their offshoots have created, it shines with its own distinctive brilliance. sez
Drummer Doug Hammond leads an odd ensemble of drums, two alto saxes (Steve Coleman and Byard Lancaster, who doubles on flute), occasional piano (Kirk Lightsey), and cello (Muneer Abdul Fataah). Steve Coleman contributes four of the 11 oppositions, including the brief but powerful "Uhren," which a few years later would lead off the Dave Holland Quintet's Seeds of Time album. Hammond was practically a sixth member of Holland's group of the time, contributing a number of fine compositions. "Figit Time," which ends this session and also Holland's 1987 classic The Razor's Edge, is a good example. There's a marked Dolphy-esque flavor to this band, with their alto/flute/cello constellation bringing Out There to mind on occasion. But the heady rhythmic concepts of Hammond and Steve Coleman were a whole new thing.

Doug Hammond drums, voice; Steve Coleman alto sax; Byard Lancaster alto sax, flute; Muneer Abdul Fataah cello; Kirk Lightsey piano

Spaces and Things (suite) 1) Lopin'; 2)  Water Moves; 3) Spell Dance − Meno Mosso; To My FamilyCüd Ba-Rith; Snakepit Strut; Mini Ensemble; Rizz Biz; Uhren; Murdxas; Figit Time

Doug Hammond's website has a whole lot more info about his work and albums.

Oct 30, 2013

Elvin Jones "Special Quartet" - Tribute To John Coltrane: "A Love Supreme"

barabara sounds sez: 
Elvin Jones played a lot in Japan, but this live session from 1992 (recorded at Shinjuku Pit Inn) was a little bit special: a) because it featured a version of the full Love Supreme suite; b) because instead of sax the lead instrument was a trumpet; and c) it was Wynton Marsulis. And he really blows beautifully! 

As for the rest of the album, it's a mixed bag: another Trane composition; a birthday jam on the Happy Birthday riff; and a blues. But the album is worth it entirely for those opening 47 minutes.

Delfeayo Marsulis sez (in the liner notes)
This recording is a tribute to two legends in modern American music [Coltrane and Jones]… Elvin Jones refuses to offer inadequate performances of any composer's music. His force as the premiere modern drummer is immediately recognized, yet his endless spirit and determination are seldom (if ever) discussed by the critical community… he continues to develop as a musician and a man. His improvisations are unparalleled…

Elvin Jones sez (also in the liner notes):
This recording is one of my most valuable musical experiences… To have John's music interpreted by a master virtuoso such as trumpeter Winton Marsulis. Marcus Roberts and Reginald Veal provided impeccable support which created an atmosphere of unique quality. 

Elvin Jones drums; Reginald Veal bass; Marcus Roberts piano; Wynton Marsulis trumpet

A Love Supreme (Parts I, II, III); Dear Lord; Happy Birthday for Yuka; Blues for Veen

Sep 30, 2013

qpsm*unit - great symbolisms

barabara sounds sez: 
Time to get spiritual with an album that that emerged from the Tribe/Ra stable a few years back (4 to be precise). It barely raised a ripple in the general consciousness over here [UPDATE: or anywhere, going from the comments so far]. Time to rectify that a bit...

As a member of the Tribe crew from back in the day, David Durrah should need little introduction.* Nor of course does the Sun Ra connection. But I have to say I know little or nothing about his cohorts on this well-under-the-radar album which was released by P-Vine here as part of its Black Ark series. 

There are some lovely slinky, funky, modal, meandering, chaotic, chanting, spiritual space jams here, especially the title track — my favoritePlus the reworking of the old track "venus flytrap" which Durrah first recorded with Doug Hammond. But it's all good. 

And too good not to share.

*Katonah posted his classic Sea of Numen over at Private Press here…

And should you wish to go to the source, there's a bit more info on the qpsm site here…

great symbolism; angelic streams; silent inferno; that's how I feel, ra; orion nebula; venus fly trap; that's how I feel, ra (retrack)

Sep 24, 2013

John Coltrane on Open Culture

Open Culture sez:
The great jazz saxophone player John Coltrane was born 88 years ago today. To mark the occasion we present this rare document… Coltrane's handwritten outline of his groundbreaking jazz composition, A Love Supreme…

Lewis Porter (author of JC: His Life and Music) sez:
This is something very unusual. It's not the way he usually improvises. It's not really improvised. It's something that he's doing… He ends up playing this little "Love Supreme" theme in all 12 possible keys…

barabara sounds sez: 
So what are you waiting for? Get yourself over to Besides that rare artifact (the manuscript above), there's also a link to the NPR interview with Porter that I took that extract from. Plus down the bottom, some other previous nifty Coltrane posts.

I was late getting to the party that is Open Culture. Just in case anyone else isn't aware of this brilliant resource, there are some wicked jazz-related posts. Such as this one: The Universal Mind of Bill Evans...

Aug 6, 2013

Mal Waldron - Mal Waldron [Thanks a million, MALsan]

barabara sounds sez:
The late great Mal Waldron toured Japan quite a lot, especially from the 1980s. The 10 tracks on this album were recorded between 1995 and 1999. All feature Mal playing solo live, though you'd hardly know it until you hear the applause at the end of track 9. 

The album was put together as an homage by producer Ito Hideharu of 3361*Black Records and issued posthumously in 2003 through Tokuma Records.

There's another track Mal recorded in Japan, that comes to mind on this day (August 5). It's from the album Travellin' in Soul-Time, with Jeanne Lee and Toru Tenda... Black Rain
Black Rain by Mal Waldron/Jeanne Lee/Toru Tenda on Grooveshark

DjangoThe Seagulls Of Kristiansund; My Foolish Heart; My One And Only Love; When Sunny Gets Blue; I Should Care; Remember; I Didn't Know What Time It Was; You Don't Know What Love Is; Left Alone

issued on 3361*Black (J) TKCK 3012

Jul 3, 2013

Ronnie Mathews - Trip To The Orient

barabara sounds sez:
Ronnie Mathews leading a trio on East Wind, recorded and issued in 1975. By then, he'd been around for almost 20 years, working with some of the major players but never making much of a name for himself. This was just his second album as a leader (the first was back in '63, on Prestige with Freddie Hubbard in the band). 

No doubt because it was on a "minor" label issued in "the Orient", this one has mostly fallen through the cracks... But it's well worth your time, especially the tracks Jean-Marie and, my favorite, the hip, slinky Manha do Carnival for which he moves to Fender.
Factoid: "Ichiban" literally means "first", or "number one". But back in the day it was slang (among non-Japanese) for "outstanding", "great", etc. All these tracks are ichiban.

There's more about Ronnie Mathews here on Wiki and from his obit in the NYT...

Ronnie Mathews, piano; Yoshio Suzuki, bass; Louis Hayes on drums

Ichiban; Manha do Carnival; Linda; K's Waltz; Jean-Marie; When Sunny Gets Blue; Summertime

May 19, 2013

Japanese Jazz 1950s–1980s [listen to 和ジャズ・ディスク・ガイド」

barabara sounds sez:
Just change my name to Taro Urashima
And, for my local friends: 大変お待たせしました…

Yes, here we go again, back from a long siesta — and kicking back into the groove with a j-jazz comp that emerged earlier this year. It's a sampler, a taster to whet your appetite, especially for those who have got their hands onto the essential primer on the j-jazz golden age (in Japanese it's called Wa-jazz Disc Guide). But you don't have to have the book in front of you to recognize the quality of the cuts here: there are some out-and-out gems.

Starting right from the get-go with the opening cut from Toshiko Akiyoshi, and then through Watanabe and Hino (a track off the classic Hi-Nology album when he followed Miles into electric territory) to Kiyoshi Sugimoto's moody Babylonia Winds, there are plenty of pearls to be dug up here. Check out some of those lesser-known artists, like Takeshi Inomata & Sound L.T.D.; or the cut by Toshiyuki Miyama & His New Herd.

Now go track down those albums (and there are a few hints in those links)…

a journalist sez:
Most of the tracks… are from albums that are highly sought after by DJs and record collectors the world over (with some going for very high prices). A lot of the albums either haven't been reissued, or have only reappeared as limited editions. So for any jazz fans who have neither the time or budget to track down the originals, this compilation is a great shortcut as well as a opportunity for beginners to dip into the rich sounds of this country's past.

May 18, 2013

Teruo Nakamura - Unicorn

barabara sounds sez:
Another classic TBM side from 1973, and probably the best thing that Nakamura ever laid down. Which is all thanks to the company he keeps here. It is (as TJ points out) a bit of a mixed bag, and I'm with those who say Umma Be Me, soulful and funky though it is, doesn't really belong on the album. But the other tracks more than make up for it, especially the final two tracks. Dusty, on the other hand, seems to like it all start to finish!

dusty sez:
A landmark album from the Japanese fusion scene of the 70s – a killer set of tracks recorded by bassist Teruo Nakamura, with help from a host of American soul jazz luminaries! The album's easily one of Nakamura's most sought-after sets – cut in New York in 1973, with players that include Steve Grossman, George Cables, Lenny White, Hubert Eaves, and Alphonze Mouzon. Tracks are long and jamming, but also have a wonderfully soulful component – a bit of the post-Coltrane spiritualism of some of Gary Bartz's early albums, and some of the open-ended styles you might hear on a label like Strata East. Singer Sandy Hewitt sings on 2 tracks – including the funky "Umma Be Me", which almost feels like an Andy Bey groover from the same time! (thom jurek) sez:
Unicorn was bassist Teruo Nakamura's first date as a leader. Recorded and issued in Japan on the legendary Three Blind Mice imprint in 1973, Nakamura had been working in New York since 1964. He'd done a lot of hardscrabble work before 1969 when he landed the gig as bassist in Roy Haynes' fine group of the time. During that year he formed a band with Steve Grossman and Lenny White, who both appear here. This is an interesting date because it is equally divided between very electric fusion tracks and more modal acoustic numbers…
The music is very much of its time, and though it is a session players gig, with rotating lineups, there is plenty of fire here. Grossman had already done his stint with Miles Davis and is in fine form on soprano (especially on the opening title cut), and tenor on John Coltrane's "Some Other Blues." White and Mouzon are both outstanding, so the drum chair is killer throughout, no matter who's playing, and Cables' Rhodes work on the Trane cut and "Derrick's Dance," written by Miller, is stellar. Nakamura, for his part, is more than an able bassist; he leads by guiding the rhythm and not standing out as a soloist. This set has aged very well and was finally issued in the states on CD in 2007 on the Passion Music imprint.

Unicorn Lady; Understanding; Some Other Blues; Umma Be Me; New Moon; Derrick's Dance

Teruo Nakamura bass; Steve Grossman soprano sax; Charles Sullivan trumpet; George Cables electric piano, piano; Hubert Eaves III electric piano, piano; John Miller piano; Alphonse Mouzon drums; Lenny White drums; Ronald Jackson percussion; Alvern Bunn congas; Keiji Kishida percussion; Sandy Hewitt vocals