Jazz CDs - May 2002

Emphasizing the Latin tinge in jazz , Charles Mingus made some wonderful 1957 recordings that finally appeared in 1962 as Tijuana Moods. The album was touted at the time as the record that Mingus felt was his best work, but it wasn't until the 1986 reissue that fans found out that the work was heavily edited and constructed in the studio from composites of different takes. There was so much extra material that reissue producer Ed Michel put together another entire Lp's worth of alternate composites. The single CD, itself reissued as New Tijuana Moods in 1989, omitted one album track, so for the new Bluebird reissue project, the label has gone to two discs that include the original album, all of 1986 alternates, raw tape complete with false starts, breakdowns and the like on "Dizzy Moods," "Tijuana Gift Shop," and "Los Mariachis," plus the newly discovered "A Colloquial Dream," an earlier version of the better-known "Scenes In The City." The booklet is extremely detailed as to take numbers and other minutia. As to whether or not anyone really needs to hear all material that went into the finished product or not, I suspect that Mr. Mingus would not be thrilled with this set. Even so, the remastering is very well done, so it's definitely worth having whether you ever listen to the breakdowns or not. Bluebird 09026-63840; Charles Mingus (b, vcl) Clarence Shaw (t) Jimmy Knepper (tb) Shafi Hadi (as, ts) Bill Triglia (p) Dannie Richmond (d) Ysabel Morel (voc) Frankie Dunlop (castenets) Lonnie Elder (narration on #); NYC, July 18* or August 6, 1957; Disc 1 (77:05): Dizzy Moods*/ Ysabel's Table Dance*/ Tijuana Gift Shop/ Los Mariachis*/ Flamingo/ Dizzy Moods* (Alt.)/ Ysabel's Table Dance* (Alt.)/ / Los Mariachis* (Alt.)/ Flamingo (Alt.). Disc 2 (79:49): Tijuana Gift Shop (Alt.)/ A Colloquial Dream# (A/K/A Scenes In The City)/ Flamingo* (Alt. 2)/ Ysabel's Table Dance (4 Alts.)/ Dizzy Moods* (Breakdown)/ Dizzy Moods* (Bass Solos)/ Tijuana Gift Shop (Breakdowns)/ Tijuana Gift Shop (Solos Edited From Master)/ Los Mariachis* (Takes 1-3)/ Los Mariachis* (Takes 5-10)/ Los Mariachis* (Takes 15-23)/ A Colloquial Dream# (Breakdown)/ A Colloquial Dream# (Breakdown).

Arriving just in time to feed my current obsession with perennially underrated trumpeter Kenny Dorham is the double CD of 'Round About Midnight At The Café Bohemia. Originally issued on a series of Blue Note albums under the names of both Dorham and his special guest for the evening Kenny Burrell, this is the first time that the four sets have been presented in the original recording order. As a little bonus, we get to hear Dorham's speaking voice as he introduces the players before he and the band caress "Autumn In New York." It's a typical program for a 1956 club appearance, with a few standards, Monk's title track, and Dizzy Gillespie's immortal "A Night In Tunisia" joining a group of ultra-hip Dorham originals in a thoroughly swinging session that never loses sight of the groove. Dorham tried to keep this group together for a while as the Jazz Prophets, hoping to capitalize on his just-ended association with the original Jazz Messengers. The trumpeter had a definite ear for younger talent: bassist Sam Jones and pianist Bobby Timmons would work together again in the Cannonball Adderley group a few years later, and this was an early featured spot for Kenny Burrell. Big-voiced tenor J.R. Monterose had recently been working with the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop. This music was exciting back then, and it remains exciting today, a solid date that will never go out of style. Blue Note 33775; Kenny Dorham (t) J.R. Monterose (ts) Kenny Burrell (g) Bobby Timmons (p) Sam Jones (b) Arthur Edgehill (d); Disc 1 (67:32): K.D.'s Blue (Alt.)/ Autumn In New York/ Monaco (Alt.)/ N.Y. Theme/ K.D.'s Blues/ Hill's Edge/ A Night In Tunisia/ Who Cares? (Alt.)/ Royal Roost. Disc 2 (55:16): Mexico City/ 'Round About Midnight/ Monaco/ Who Cares?/ My Heart Stood Still/ Riffin'/ Mexico City (Alt.)/ The Prophet.

The 1960 edition of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers was definitely one of the greatest lineups of the long running ensemble, with Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter in the front line while Bobby Timmons and Jymie Merritt joined Blakey in the engine room. Blue Note recorded them live one night in Birdland, released as two volumes of Meet You At The Jazz Corner Of The World. The new RVG series couples the albums in a double-CD set, but sadly there is no unissued material. The sonics are noticeably fresher and richer sounding than on Mosaic's 1992 remastering, so now you can hear how bad the club piano really sounded. Blue Note 35565; Lee Morgan (t) Wayne Shorter (ts) Bobby Timmons (p) Jymie Merritt (b) Art Blakey (d); NYC, September 14, 1960; Disc 1 (42:24): Announcement By Pee Wee Marquette/ The Opener/ What Know/ The Theme/ Announcement By Art Blakey/ Round About Midnight/ The Breeze And I; Disc 2 (42:13): Announcement By Pee Wee Marquette & Art Blakey/ High Modes/ Night Watch/ The Things I Love/ The Summit/ The Theme.

Don Cherry and close collaborator Ed Blackwell recorded a series of duets on a single afternoon in Paris that resulted in two albums. Now "Mu" - First Part + "Mu" - Second Part have been combined on a single disc by the Universal-affiliated Fuel 2000 as part of the CD reissue of the BYG/Actuel catalog. Cherry's limited but expressive trumpet and his other instruments lead the way through the program of his original tunes. Master percussionist Blackwell sounds great here, a firestorm of African-influenced trap drumming, and his work alone is reason enough to pick this up. It's just a shame that the original recording quality was just so-so. Still, the pair was really up for this date, and the results are an uncompromised delight. Fuel 2000 302 061 147; Don Cherry (pocket t, p, Indian fl, bamboo fl, voc, bells, perc) Ed Blackwell (d, perc, bells); Paris, France, August 22, 1969; First Part: Brilliant Action/ Amejelo/ Total Vibration/ Sun Of The East/ Terrestrial Beings; Second Part: The Mysticism Of My Sound/ Medley: Dollar Brand; Spontaneous Composing; Exert, Man On The Moon/ Bamboo Night/ Teo-teo Can/ Smiling Faces, Going Places/ Psycho Drama/ Medley: Theme: Albert Heath; Theme: Dollar Brand; Babyrest, Time For ...; 68:55.

For his latest Blue Note release, Joe Lovano convened four different trios for two days of intensive sessions. Flights Of Fancy: Trio Fascination Edition Two mixes tracks from each band, sometimes morphing from one ensemble to another in the course of one tune as a sort of medley. His regular working trio of Cameron Brown on bass and Idris Muhammed on drums was in the studio first, and they get the opening slot with Lovano's original title track, a relaxed groover that draws the listener in immediately. After that, it's a varied program of Lovano originals, augmented by Wayne Shorter's perennial "Infant Eyes," Judi Silvano's "Bougainvillea," and McCoy Tyner's "Aisha," plus improvisations based on "I'll Remember April" and Coltrane's "Giant Steps." I'd have wished for more of trio #4, featuring the immensely talented Dave Douglas on trumpet and the superb Mark Dresser on bass, and rather less of #3, with Lovano's tenor and the maudlin sounds of Toots Thielemans' harmonica ably supported by pianist Kenny Werner. Lovano sounds loose as goose throughout, relaxed and concentrating on the music at hand. Besides his work on saxophones and clarinets, Lovano shows some strong drum chops on "206," where he displays an effective and very personal approach to the drum kit. This is another in a series of fine albums Lovano has made over the past few years, and it's warmly recommended. How about a quartet with Douglas, Dresser and Joey Baron next time? Blue Note 27618; Joe Lovano (ts, ss, straight as, C-mel s, alto cl, b cl, d, gongs) with Trio 1: Cameron Brown (b) Idris Muhammed (d); Trio 2: Billy Drewes (ss, al fl, perc) Joey Baron (d); Trio 3: Toots Thielemans (hca) Kenny Werner (p); Trio 4: Dave Douglas (t) Mark Dresser (b) NYC, Trios 1 & 2; June 14, 2000; Trios 3 & 4, June 15, 2000: Flights Of Fancy (Trio #1)/ On April (I'll Remember April)(#3)/ Amsterdam (34) Blue Mist (#2/#1)/ Off And Runnin' (#2)/ Infant Eyes (#3) 206 (#4)/ Bougainvillea (#1/#3)/ Windom Street (#2)/ Hot Shot (#1)/ Aisha (#1) Amber (#4) On Giant Steps (#3/#1)/ Flights Of Fancy (Reprise)(#1); 67:53.

 

It takes a certain trust in both your audience and your skills to start an album the way Marty Ehrlich begins Song, with his earthy bass clarinet navigating a simple "Waltz." This pretty melody by songwriter Robin Holcomb sets the tone for the disc, and also inspires a lovely performance by the quartet, especially bassist Michael Formanek and his emotionally charged solo. "The Price Of The Ticket," Ehrlich's dedication to author James Baldwin has a gospel edge to it, and you can almost imagine lyrics for it. The quartet had just played a week at Sweet Basil before Song was recorded, and this tried-and-true tactic to prepare for a recording session proves its value again, as the musicians are clearly tuned in to one another. They combine to give the music that special lift that comes from the right balance of freshness and familiarity. Pianist Uri Caine is a joy throughout, soloing with abandon and comping with a sure touch. The album's centerpiece is "Blue Boye's Blues," Ehrlich's dedication to mentor Julius Hemphill, with the group joined by trombonist Ray Anderson for a stirringly complex journey and an appropriate portrait of the late saxophone master. A plaintive version of Bob Dylan's "I Pity The Poor Immigrant" is an unexpected choice, and all the more effective for it. "Fauve" is an Ehrlich original that moves through a number of tempos and feelings over ten minutes. The set ends with Jaki Byard's "The Falling Rains of Life," a fitting lament for the great piano master, with Caine setting the stage for a moving performance by Ehrlich on bass clarinet. The special emphasis that Ehrlich puts on the vocal qualities of his reed work pays off handsomely, with a beautifully coherent and unified disc. Enja ENJ-9396; Marty Ehrlich (as, ss, b cl) Uri Caine (p) Michael Formanek (b) Billy Drummond (d) Ray Anderson (tb on *); NYC, October 18, 1999; Waltz/ The Price Of The Ticket/ Day Of The Dark Bright Light/ Blue Boye's Blues/ I Pity The Poor Immigrant/ Fauve/ The Falling Rains Of Life; 50:26.

Yet Can Spring, a series of duets by Myra Melford and Marty Ehrlich, is obviously a more intimate affair. Noting the inclusion of another Robin Holcomb song, "The Natural World," and the convincingly down-home Otis Spann blues that ends the recital, it seems that the idea of song is still on Ehrlich's mind, along with the particular pleasures of a direct one-to-one encounter with a favored partner. The optimistic movement of the Holcomb piece provides for one of their finer tunes, a sustained performance that shows Ehrlich's alto at his testifying best while Melford's dark and dense piano roils underneath. Ehrlich's soaring "The Great Divide," a piece first recorded with his Dark Woods Ensemble in 1999, is another highlight of the set, a waltz featuring his graceful clarinet in tandem with Melford's insistent piano figures. Ehrlich also offers two new pieces, "Duiloquy" and "March Fantastique,"while Melford reconfigures three pieces recorded previously with larger ensembles. Definitely worth a listen. Arabesque Jazz AJ0154; Marty Ehrlich (as, cl, b cl) Myra Melford (p); NYC, March 23-24, 2000; Yet Can Spring/ Duiloquy/ Here Is Only Moment/ The Open Return/ March Fantastique/ The Natural World/ Yellow Are Crowds Of Flowers, I/ Don't You Know; 51:57.

Ehrlich sings a different kind of song as a member of Bobby Previte & Bump, gruffer and earthier in tone. Partly that's a result of switching to tenor sax for Just Add Water, but it's also a reaction to Previte's all-encompassing beat, Wayne Horvitz' funky piano backing, and the boisterous trombone team of Ray Anderson and special guest Joseph Bowie that shares the front line with him. Previte has been making smart and exciting albums for decades now, recording mainly for Gramavision and Enja; this is his first for Palmetto. This ensemble has touring Europe with some frequency since 1998, and the loose jauntiness of the music clearly reflects a unit that enjoys playing together. Using electric bassist Steve Swallow in this context is a stoke of genius; his adaptability and precision make for an intriguingly multifaceted rhythm section. From the "Harlem Nocturne" vibe of Previte's "Nice Try" to the walloping backbeat of "'53 Maserati," it's a joy to hear this crew bring Previte's originals (and one by Horvitz) to life. Definitely recommended. Palmetto PM 2081; Ray Anderson, Joseph Bowie (tb) Marty Ehrlich (ts) Wayne Horvitz (p) Steve Swallow (b) Bobby Previte (d); Pipersville, PA, June 4-5, 2001; Put Away Your Crayons/ Nice Try/ Leave Here Now/ '53 Maserati/ '63/ Stingray/ Everything I Want/ All Hail Kirby!/ Theme For An Imaginary Dénouement; 53:51.

The lovely Out Of The Past by Duck Baker & Jamie Findlay is subtitled Classic Jazz Guitar Duets. That may take a little explaining, unlike the music, which needs none at all. The "classic" refers not to the early jazz guitar, but to tunes from great jazz composers from Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller to Monk and Clifford Brown. The pair of fingerstyle guitarists throw in one standard along the way, "All Of Me," the kind of familiar standard they might use to warm up. Each player gets a chance to present a solo piece or two. Findlay's stunning version of "Joy Spring" is a real gas, while Baker offers a gently swinging look at Benny Golson's rarely revived "Out Of The Past" and a ragtimey take on Jelly Roll's "Wolverine Blues." Baker and Findlay bring a wealth of musical intelligence and varied experiences to this project, which projects an optimistic and genuinely friendly aura, culminating in the set's one live track, where they have a good time with "Well, You Needn't." A very beautiful recording, heartily recommended. Day Job DCD 105; Duck Baker, Jamie Findlay (ac g); Crockett, CA, April 2001 or August 2001@ or Los Angeles, CA, August 2001* or San Jose, CA, March 16, 2001#; Take The 'A' Train/ Collard Greens And Black Eyed Peas/ Out Of The Past@/ The Jody Grind/ The Jitterbug Waltz/ Joy Spring*/ Topsy/ In A Sentimental Mood/ Wolverine Blues@/ One For Myrtle/ All Of Me/ Well, You Needn't#; 53:03.

Latin Spirits is the latest from Latin jazz mainstay Poncho Sanchez and the disc starts out well enough with "Sambia," a Rene Hernandez tune from Machito's book that cooks along and features a hip conga solo by Sanchez. But in trying to move beyond the Latin jazz that they do best, the group makes a few missteps, especially on a pair of unconvincing old-school R'n'B tracks featuring vocalists Dale Spalding and Ledisi that don't add much to the originals. The stab at modern jazz with a cover of Wayne Shorter's "Ju Ju" and Chick Corea on piano works a lot better, and the other collaboration with Corea on his original "Latin Spirits" is one of the highlights of the set. You have to give Sanchez some credit in trying to expand the range of the group. It's just that he and the band sound better when they're playing the style that got them here. Concord Picante CCD-4981; Poncho Sanchez (congas, perc, lead vcl on 1, 4, 8) Sal Cracchiolo (t, flgh) Francisco Torres (tb, vcl) Scott Martin (as, ts, bars) David Torres (p, org) Tony Banda (b, vcl) Ramon Banda (timbales) Jose "Papo" Rodriguez (bongos, perc, vcl) Chick Corea (p on 3, 4); on track 5 & 11: Sanchez (congas, perc) Dale Spalding (lead vcl, harmonica) Ledisi (vcl) Cracchiolo (t) F. Torres (tb) Lon Price (ts, ss, as) Martin (ts, bars) Bruce Malament (p) D. Torres (org) Tom Gargano (b) Tiki Pasillas (timbales) Rodriguez (bongos, perc) James Gadson (d); Los Angeles, CA, April 30, May 1-2, 2001, and Berkeley, CA, May 8, 2001 (tracks 3 & 4); 1.Sambia/ 2.Next Exit/ 3.Latin Spirits/ 4.Quieres Volver/ 5.Going Back To New Orleans/ 6.On Time/ 7.Ju Ju/ 8.Batiri Cha Cha/ 9.The Things We Did Last Summer/ 10.Tito In The City/ 11.Early In The Mornin'; 62:31.

 

East And West offers a saxophone-dominated modern sound with a constantly changing ensemble led by pianist Bruce Barth. Trumpeter Terell Stafford is the lone brassman, with reedists Steve Wilson, Adam Kolker, and Sam Newsome joining him in the front line in different combinations. The strong groove of bassist Ugonna Okegwo and the loose beat of veteran drummer Al Foster in the rhythm section keep the band honest in a program that includes Barth originals, a couple of standards, a pair by Monk, and Wilson's "A Joyful Noise." Barth's carefully paced "At The Ranch," with the full complement of musicians, gets the proceedings off to a slow start. Things pick up with Jerome Kern's "I'm Old Fashioned," played just by the rhythm section, as Barth reveals a bouncy and deft touch at the keyboard in a straight-ahead style. Among the other pleasures of the set are Stafford and Wilson on soprano in an exciting trade of solos on "The Letter," and Barth's McCoy Tyner-ish density on "A Joyful Noise." The pianist is pretty convincing on both of the Monk tunes, "Ask Me Now" which he plays as a solo about halfway through the disc, and a trio rendition of "Let's Call This" that takes the session out in high style. Maxjazz MXJ 201; Bruce Barth (p) with Terell Stafford (t, flgh) Steve Wilson (as, ss, cl) Adam Kolker (ts, b cl) Sam Newsome (ss) Ugonna Okegwo (b) Al Foster (d); NYC, December 3-4, 2000; At The Ranch/ I'm Old Fashioned/ Riding Off ... / Sundown Time/ The Letter/ Ask Me Now/ The Dude/ A Joyful Noise/ My Shining Hour/ Let's Call This; 58:50.Disc 1 (67:32): K.D.'s Blue (Alt.)/ Autumn In New York/ Monaco (Alt.)/ N.Y. Theme/ K.D.'s Blues/ Hill's Edge/ A Night In Tunisia/ Who Cares? (Alt.)/ Royal Roost. Disc 2 (55:16): Mexico City/ 'Round About Midnight/ Monaco/ Who Cares?/ My Heart Stood Still/ Riffin'/ Mexico City (Alt.)/ The Prophet.

- Stuart Kremsky

 

Richard Galliano, accordion & bandoneon/Eddie Louiss, Hammond B3 - Face to Face - Dreyfus FDM 36627-2:

I've been hearing about jazz accordionist Galliano for years but couldn't find any of his albums. Now I've gopt one and it's my favorite jazz CD of the past couple months. I always thought the combination of the two reed instruments would be a natural mix, even though one is acoustic and other electronic. It is, and erase any memories of Art Van Damme from your musical memory in listening to Galliano. This cat swings with a vengeance and so does Louiss. There's the give and take of all jazz duosk plenty of bright up-tempo treatments as befitting both instruments, but there's also that suggestion of a special European melancholy that you don't hear with most America jazz. Galliano has taken the musette style of Parisian accordion into a whole new world, much as Piazolla took the Argentine tango into a whole new world. Makes me want to get back to Paris toute suite and dig the jazz clubs on the Left Bank. This one is going to get beaucoup des revolutions on my Camry's CD player. Les Tracks: Sang mele, Face to face, Tribute to Joe Diorio, Beija-flor, I Remember Clifford, Enlaces, Laurita, Berimbau/Sermao, Amandine, Framboise, Sous le ciel de Paris, Azul Tango, Avec le temps.

The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 3 - Bud! (With Curtis Fuller, trombone; Paul Chambers, bass; Art Taylor, drums) - Blue Note 71435-355585-2:

Speaking of jazz a la Paris, this cat was Real Big there for many years, along with Django and Sidney Bechet. These 1957 tracks taped at Rudy Van Gelder's home studio in glorious mono add a bonus alternate take on the tune Blue Pearl to the eight tracks of the original LP release. More ammunition toward the positioning of Powell as one of the greatest jazz pianists ever. Just as with another pianist - the great Bill Evans - Powell was a troubled man with serious drug problems. The technical perfection and emotional power of his improvisations came through in spite of his afflictions. For a mind-blowing example, listen to the beginning of Bud on Bach - another example of the debt to that composer owed by so many jazz performers. (I recall George Shearing once told me his great dream was to write a serious fugue in the style of Bach.) If you're a jazz piano fan, you'll probably want to pick up on the previous two volumes in this exemplary series. Tracks: Some Soul, Blue Pearl, Frantic Fancies, Bud on Bach, Keepin' in the Groove, Idaho, Don't Blame Me, Moose the Mooche, Blue Pearl (alternate).

- John Henry

 

The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix - RCA Bluebird First Editions 09026-63872-2:

Man, I thought I was a Gil Evans aficionado but I somehow missed out on probably the most unique arranging project the late Canadian jazz orchestration master ever accomplished. Early in l970 Hendrix and Evans met to discuss working together, but by the end of that year Hendrix was dead. Evans continued to write his very creative views of Hendrix' music and in l975 an LP was the result. This reissue brings it to CD along with four alternate take tracks that didn't fit on the original LP. Plus a reprint of the original liner notes along with an interesting new essay and photos. David Sanborn, Lew Soloff and John Abercrombie are among the soloists in the youthful big band. Evans wanted to capture the chaotic nature of Hendrix' music and the results are much more powerful and wild than just a big band playing tunes by, say, The Beatles or Stones. Be prepared for a sonic onslaught, and if you're as much a Hendrix fan as an Evans fan I guarantee you'll flip over this. Tracks: Angel, Crosstown Traffic, Medley: Castles Made of Sand/Foxey Lady, Up from the Skies, 1983-A Merman I Should Turn to Be, Voodoo Chile, Gypsy Eyes, Little Wing, Alternates: Angel, Castles Made of Sand, Up from the Skies, Gypsy Eyes.

- John Henry

Tomasz Stanko Quartet - Soul of Things (Stanko, trumpet; Marcin Wasilewski, piano; Slawomir Kurkiewicz, bass; Michal Miskiewicz, drums) ECM 1788:

Stanko hails from the old city of Cracow in Poland. No Polish jokes please. This is great stuff, really getting into the soul of the music, just as the album title indicates. Stanko is obviously a senior but plays with three very young Polish sidemen who beautifully share his concepts and communicate smoothly in an intimate musical environment. Stanko's trumpet tone likes the lower register and never strives for distorted effects. This is lovely modern tonal improvisation at its best, skillfully recorded of course, being a Manfred Eicher production. The titles of the 13 tracks are simply: Variations I - XIII.

- John Henry

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