Standard Jazz CDs
(Pt. 2) - June 2001
[Click on any CD cover to go directly to review]
We welcome an additional jazz reviewer this month, Stuart Kremsky =
If you thought the last deluxe version of the Miles Davis sessions known as the Birth Of The Cool was the ultimate, guess again. Now that Rudy Van Gelder has uncovered the original tapes, and supervised the digital transfers, you can hear the sound of stick against cymbals, get a clearer sense than ever before of what's happening in the arrangements, and dig Gerry Mulligan's feathery tone. An extra bonus is the inclusion of several photos from the original session. Except for the unaccountable renaming of tub man Bill Barber as "John," this is an exemplary reissue of music that belongs in everyone's jazz collection. (Capitol Jazz 30117; Miles Davis (t) Kai Winding (tbn on 1, 2, 5, 7) J.J. Johnson (tbn on 3, 4, 6, 8-12) Junior Collins (Fr hn on 1, 2, 5, 7) Sandy Siegelstein (Fr hn on 4, 8, 10, 11) Gunther Schuller (Fr hn on 3, 6, 9, 12) Bill Barber (tba) Lee Konitz (as) Gerry Mulligan (bari s) Al Haig (p on 1, 2, 5, 7) John Lewis (p on 3, 6, 8-12) Joe Shulman (b on 1, 2, 5, 7) Nelson Boyd (b on 4, 8, 10, 11) Al McKibbon (b on 2, 6, 9, 12) Kenny Clarke (d on 4, 8, 10, 11) Max Roach (d on 1-3, 5-7, 9) Kenny Hagood (v on 12); NYC, January 21, 1949 (1, 2, 5, 7), April 22, 1949 (4, 8, 10, 11), or March 9, 1950 (3, 6, 9, 12); 1.MOVE/ 2.JERU/ 3.MOON DREAMS/ 4.VENUS DE MILO/ 5.BUDO/ 6.DECEPTION/ 7.GODCHILD/ 8.BOPLICITY/ 9.ROCKER/ 10.ISRAEL/ 11.ROUGE/ 12.DARN THAT DREAM; 36:18)
- Stuart Kremsky
Live In New York is the latest packaging of airchecks by Miles Davis & John Coltrane. The "ca. 1958" date should be May 17, with four tracks from the Café Bohemia found on numerous labels over the years, including vinyl issues on Chakra, Bopera, Jazzbird, and Bandstand and CDs on Yadeon (502) and Jazzband EBCD2101). The version of "It Never Entered My Mind" is probably the one from July 13, 1957, also from the Bohemia, featuring Miles with the rhythm section of Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Art Taylor. The final selection ("So What" with a grand Coltrane solo) appears to be one of the tunes broadcast on CBS on April 2, 1959, a show that also featured the Gil Evans Orchestra. With only the first session complete, and average sound, this set is likely to appeal mostly to Miles and Trane fans just beginning to dip into the vast quantities of live material not originally intended for release. (Jazz Door 1242; (A) Miles Davis (t) John Coltrane (ts) Bill Evans (p) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones (d), ca. 1958; (B) same without Coltrane; (C) Davis (t) Coltrane (ts) Wynton Kelly (p) Chambers (b) Jimmy Cobb (d); 1959; BYE BYE BLACKBIRD (A)/ FOUR (A)/ IT NEVER ENTERED MY MIND (B)/ WALKIN' (A)/ MILESTONES (A)/ SO WHAT (C); 40:06)
- Stuart Kremsky
Lemme Tell Ya 'Bout Desmond is a compilation of the work of Paul Desmond, useful for those unfortunates who aren't yet hip to his arid alto saxophone. With a dozen songs drawn from a number of projects over the years, this is an unbeatable sampler of Desmond's work outside of his most famous gig with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The set was put together by two Desmond fanatics, Label M's Joel Dorn and producer Stewart Levine, and promises to be the first of many similar packages that draw on the catalogues of several labels. (Label M 495715; I'M OLD FASHIONED (1974, Columbia)/ SKYLARK (1973, Columbia)/ TAKE TEN (1963, RCA Victor)/ STARDUST (1962, RCA Victor)/ WHEN JOANNA LOVED ME (1964, RCA Victor)/ DESMOND BLUE (1961, RCA Victor)/ A TASTE OF HONEY (19645, RCA Victor)/ BOSSA ANTIGUA (1964, RCA Victor)/ THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES (1964, RCA Victor)/ ALIANCA (1964, RCA Victor)/ EL CONDOR PASA (1969, A&M)/ SAMBA WITH SOME BARBEQUE (1968, A&M); 57:31)
- Stuart Kremsky
Finding Forrester is a different kind of soundtrack album. Only Bill Frisell's solo "Over The Rainbow" was newly recorded for this project, with the album overseen by compilation wizard Hal Willner. The lengthy disc is a blend of electric-era Miles Davis emphasizing his more relaxed material, a pair of Ornette Coleman compositions (the joyously raucous "Happy House" and a snippet from his orchestral Skies Of America project), and a quartet of Frisell recordings from various phases of his well-documented career. There's also one earlier Miles Davis track with his Sixties quintet ("Vonetta" from the Sorcerer album), some contemporary (and throbbingly dull) sounds from DJ Cam's 5-minute remix of "In A Silent Way," and a Hawaiian curiosity from Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. The new context for some of these tunes gives fans a fresh perspective, and one of the effects of the disc is to acknowledge that for modern ears, the music of Davis, Coleman, and Frisell all belongs to the same tradition, the product of restless and adventurous improvisers. (Columbia/Legacy CK 85350; RECOLLECTIONS: Miles Davis (2/6/70)/ LITTLE CHURCH: Miles Davis (6/4/70)/ BLACK SATIN: Miles Davis (7/7/72)/ UNDER A GOLDEN SKY: Bill Frisell (10/98)/ HAPPY HOUSE: Ornette Coleman (9/9/71)/ OVER THE RAINBOW (PICTURE BOOK): Bill Frisell (2000)/ LONELY FIRE (excerpt): Miles Davis (1/27/70)/ MEDLEY: OVER THE RAINBOW, WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (1993)/ VONETTA: Miles Davis (5/16/67)/ COFFARO'S THEME: Bill Frisell Quartet (1995)/ FOREIGNER IN A FREE LAND: Ornette Coleman (4/17-20/72)/ BEAUTIFUL E: Bill Frisell Quartet (12/90-2/91)/ IN A SILENT WAY (DJ CAM REMIX): Miles Davis; 72:02)
- Stuart Kremsky
The Eye Listens, new from Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman, offers more of his ragingly intense and colorful music. The one-day session was recorded live in the studio in the deeply compatible company of bassist Wilber Morris and drummer Michael Wimberley. Although at times it sounds like they're all playing different tunes simultaneously, there is a deeper logic to their interactions, based on their immediate emotional responses to one another. This relationship is made clearer on the more spacious material, like the opening section of"The Solution." By the time the tune is over, though, the trio has gotten back into their usual agitated torrent of sound. This is passionate and totally committed free jazz. (Boxholder BXH012; Ivo Perelman (ts, v) Wilber Morris (b, v) Michael Wimberley (d); Englewood, NJ, August 19, 1999; A NIGHT AT THE OPERA/ THE EYE LISTENS/ THE SOLUTION/ GIVE THEM THE SPIRITUAL/ DANCE OF THE INFIDELS; 71:48) The duo of Ivo Perelman & Jay Rosen is ferocious and uncompromising in its assault on the ears on the title track of The Hammer. Drummer Rosen matches the raging saxophonist's emotionally charged fury as just the two of them make a glorious noise with the simplest of elements. Again, there are islands of calm amidst the stormy tracks, notably the unexpectedly lovely "Five Avocados." Powerful stuff; handle with care. (Leo CD LR 286; Ivo Perelman (ts, "trombivo" [trombone with a tenor sax mouthpiece]) Jay Rosen (d); Englewood, NJ, March 1998; THE HAMMER/ FRYING PAN DESTRUCTION/ ABSTINENCE/ FIVE AVOCADOS/ THE FINE POINTS OF LIVING/ MILKY SELMA/ THE SHELTON HOTEL/ WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE SUBARU DEALER?/ THE NO-BUSINESS BUSINESS/ TWO WEEKS THAT CHANGED ONE'S LIFE/ TOO MANY CLOWNS FOR A SMALL CIRCUS/ PLANT LIFE; 51:34)
- Stuart Kremsky
More of Stuart Kremsky's reviews appear in the Journal of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors. Go to www.geocities.com/IAJRC for more information.
Paquito D'Rivera - The Clarinetist, Volume One (with Niels Henning Orsted-Pedersen; Wolfgang Haffner; Frank Chastenier; Pernel Saturino; Triangulo; The European Art Orchestra - Peregrina Music PM 50221: Cuban licorice-sticker D'Rivera follows in the tradition of Benny Goodman, Eddie Daniels, Don Byron and other clarinetists in being able to tackle both jazz and classical music with equal expertise. In fact this wonderful CD - the pick of the bunch of everything I auditioned for this month - is the best sort of crossover. (This sort of album must drive CD shop workers batty - where to file it? I first covered this in our Classical section this month, then decided to move it here.)
The opening Serenata by Carlos Franzetti expands the classical clarinet repertory beyond its European boundaries in a synopsis of Latin American music. Astor Piazzolla lovely Concerto for Bandoneon is rearranged with clarinet as the solo instrument (they're both reed instruments after all) and it works even better than the original to my ears. Two originals by Paquito offer a completely refreshing combination of classical, mainstream jazz and Latin music influences. The second work celebrates Dizzy Gillespie, who was no slouch in the Latin jazz genre. The closing Trio by Angel Lasala has the most standard classical feel, with D'Rivera joined only by Pablo Zinger on piano and cellist Gustavo Tavares, but it swings much more than your everyday normal trio. Selections: Serenata; Concerto for Bandoneon; Habana, Brussels in the Rain; Dizzyness; Trio No. 1.
- John Sunier
J. S. Bach gets the swinging treatment from two different jazz ensembles of the recent past =
Jacques Loussier - Play Bach Vol. 1 (with Pierre Michelot, bass; Christian Garros, drums) - Decca 012 157 561-2:Jacques Loussier - Play Bach Vol. 2 (with Pierre Michelot, bass; Christian Garros, drums) - Decca 012 157 562-2: Here's another crossover effort that goes back to the early 1960s. It seems no classical composer equals the ability of J. S. Bach to be modified, rearranged, transcribed and reinterpreted in every manner imaginable and still work musically. Poor old J.S. Had been re-done on the synthesizer, concert band, harmonica, harp, marimba, you name it. His music also comes through it unscathed. While jazz players such as Django Reinhardt and John Kirby re interpreted Bach in jazz garb back in the l930s, The Loussier Trio established the genre of piano trio-jazzed Bach with a series of LPs on London/Decca. Here are the first two volumes in high quality CD reissues. Vol. 1 brings us four Preludes, three fugues and the famous Toccata & Fugue in D Minor. Some of the passages are played fairly close to the Bachian originals, waiting for those passages where his music seems to suggest swinging on its own - then the trio lights into it with drummer Garros hustling things along. Volume 2 presents the entire Partita No. 1 in B Flat Major, along with three Preludes, a Fugue, a Choral and the chestnut Air for the G String. The 20-bit digital remasters improve on the sonics of the LPs, especially in the low end of the bass and drums. (Most any CD remastering of an LP featuring piano is probably going to be an improvement on the original.)
- John Sunier
The Swingle Singers - Jazz Sebastian Bach - Philips 314 542 552-2:
The Swingle Singers - Jazz Sebastian Bach, Volume Two - Philips 314 542 553-2: Ditto a lot of the above for this pair of new reissues. 1963 is when the Ward Swingle introduced his unique jazz vocal ensemble which pointed up the rhythmic element found in so much of Bach's music. Most of the works Swingle selected were originally composed for harpsichord, clavichord or organ. Though some of these keyboards have a smaller range than a modern grand piano, they still encompass at least twice as many pitches as the typical singing voice, so performing them was not easy. Not a note is changed from Bach's originals - just the addition of bass and drums, and pitch transposition of some of the pieces. And of course the variety of Bachian scat created by the singers with humor, tenderness and above all madly swinging elan. The 13 short tracks on Vol. 1 include several preludes and fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier, the Fugue in D Minor from The Art of Fugue, a bourree from the Second English Suite, the very first Two-Part Invention, and the Air for the G String. On Vol. 2 are four more from the Well-Tempered, two Chorals, the lovely Adagio from the Violin-Harpsichord Sonata No. 3, and the Vivace from the same Double Violin Concerto in D Minor that Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelly did in the 1930s.
- John Sunier
Kenny Barron, piano & Regina Carter, violin - Freefall - Verve 314 549 706-2: Carter is the hottest jazz violinist around today. Her playing is full of fire and she's a kick in person, but her previous albums were a bit heavy on the funk/r & b side for my taste. Now here's something completely different: It was pianist Barron's idea to team up for a duo album, and this is it. Takes a lot of guts deliver exciting jazz improvisations using exactly the same two instruments that interpret the violin-piano sonatas of countless straight classical composers. No rhythm section; but rhythm is far from ignored by these two performers! I suppose this CD could also be a part of the above crossover kick we seem to be on this month. Duo selections: Softly As In a Morning Sunrise; Fragile; Misterioso; Phantoms; What If; Squatty Roo; Freefall; Shades of Gray; Footprints; A Flower.
- John Henry
Spyro Gyra - In Modern Times - Heads Up Enhanced CD HUCD 3061: There's not many fusion groups I enjoy listening to nowadays, but Spyro Gyra has remained one of my favorites for years now. They have great taste, saxist Jay Beckenstein is a terrific player, and while the quintet has their very own sound there's a good deal of variety from track to track in their albums. No standards here, just a dozen sparkling and bouncy originals. The Enhanced portion is a cross-platform CD-ROM with a complete live video of one of the tracks and information on their other releases on the label. Selections: After Hours; Feelin' Fine; Julio's Party; The River Between; Groovin' for Grover; Open Door; Florida Straits; Feelin' Fine Pt. 2; East River Blue; Your Touch; Lucky Bounce; Planet J.
- John Henry
Two great jazz pianists in their latest discings =
Benny Green, solo piano - Green's Blues - Telarc Jazz CD-83539: Pianist Green looks really young on his previous Telarc CD cover, but he's p[aid his dues with Art Blakey and Ray Brown among others. One of the first influences on his style was the music of Fats Waller, and that's definitely heard in the frequent stride piano streak in Green's playing. As he observes in his liner notes, he went this one solo - without a safety net - and that's made to order for the stride piano style. He chose mostly standards. This CD is a kick and half; sometimes it sounds like Waller was preserved in gin and he's been resuscitated to play for us anew. Tracks: I've Heard That Song Before; I Wish You Love; Someone to Watch Over Me; You Make Me Feel So Young; Just You, Just Me; Green's Blues; Green Eyes; Misty; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Ain't Misbehavin'; It Don't Mean a Thing; I Got It Bad.
- John Henry
Kenny Drew Trio - Remembrance (with Santi deBriano, bass; Tany Jefferson, drums; Stefon Harris, vibes) - TCB 20202: Kenny Drew is one of the top jazz pianists of the day. Here's another performer who also straddles the jazz and classical genres. Drew has done three previous CD for TCB as well as appeared as keyboardist on many other albums. His stimulus for this one came about then three of his favorite musicians died in the same week in l999. Tunes identified with Art Farmer, Milt Jackson and Manfredo Fest are on this CD, the latter a piece written by the widow of the Brazilian pianist. We Will Meet Again by Bill Evans fits strongly into the album concept, as does Gordon Jenkins Goodbye. The CD closes with classical pianist Oscar Levant's big pop hit, Blame It On My Youth - one of the three tracks that adds the exciting contributions of young vibraphonist Stefon Harris. Selections are: Bags Groove; Song for Manfredo; Epistrophy; Children's Games; Mirage; We Will Meet Again; Bossa Blues No. 2; Stairway to the Stars; With Prestige; Goodbye; Blame It on my Youth.
- John Henry
Here's an amazing must-have reissue package for any Ellington fan! =
Duke Ellington Band - The Duke at Fargo 1940 - Special 60th Anniversary Edition - Storyville STCD 8316/17, 2 CDs & 36-p. Booklet: The booklet with this tall-format boxed set points out that it is the very first location recording of a live jazz concert, and transforms a fairly routine dance date by the band into a historic occasion in the life of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. What prefaced this aural trip to the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo North Dakota 60 years ago was an earlier evening in l939 spent by friends Jack Towers and Dick Burris hearing the Ellington Band in Sioux Falls. They worked in the radio division of South Dakota College and had in the trunk of their car a disc recorder and mikes. It recorded on 16-inch metal transcription acetate discs at 33 1/3 rpm. They fantasized wouldn't it be great if we could record the next Ellington Band appearance around here? They contacted his publisher Irving Mills and got an OK if Ellington also approved it. Of course it was strictly for non-commercial use.
The night of the Fargo dance concert the pair showed up with their disc cutter and three mikes. Ellington himself opined "Why would anyone want to record us here?" They had to parcel the mikes out carefully because they didn't have very long cables. As a result they couldn't put a mike next to the ones the vocalists and Ellington used, nor anywhere near the local radio announcer who was covering the live broadcast of a portion of the evening. So those three individuals are off-mike throughout. Also, since there was only one cutter, they necessarily missed the beginning and endings of certain tunes because they had to change discs. Still, the balance for the band itself is excellent and this was a period in the band's long history when it was at a peak. With use of proper matched styli to play back the original acetates and then careful employment of the CEDAR noise reduction equipment to clean up the originals, this CD reissue is truly a jazz restoration landmark. You would never guess these are l940-vintage amateur recordings (except for the off-mike portions).
The large note booklet goes into fascinating details about every one of the tracks. They are (deep breath): It's Glory; The Mooche; The Sheik of Araby; Sepia Panorama; KoKo; There Shall Be No Night; Pussy Willow; Chatterbox; Mood Indigo; Harlem Airshaft; Ferryboat Serenade; Warm Valley; Stompy Jones; Chloe; Bojangles; On The Air; Rumpus in Richmond; Chaser; The Sidewalks of New York, The Flaming Sword; Never No Lament; Caravan; Clarinet Lament; Slap Happy; Sepia Panorama; Boy Meets Horn; Way Down Yonder in New Orleans; Oh Babe, Maybe Someday; Five O'Clock Whistle; Fanfare; Call of the Canyon; All This and Heaven Too; Rockin' in Rhythm; Sophisticated Lady; Cottontail; Whispering Grass; Conga Brava; I Never Felt This Way Before; Across the Track Blues; Honeysuckle Rose; Wham; Stardust; Rose of the Rio Grande; St. Louis Blues; Warm Valley; God Bless America.
- John Henry
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