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Jazz CDs Pt. 1 of Jazz - September 2001
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Finally getting some attention is the Columbia output of Thelonious Monk. The first fruits are double disc reissues of Monk In Tokyo and Live At The Jazz Workshop. Both recordings feature Monk mainstay Charlie Rouse on tenor sax. The earlier Tokyo concert has Butch Warren and Frankie Dunlop on bass and drums; by the time of the Jazz Workshop gig in San Francisco, they had been replaced by Larry Gales and Ben Riley respectively. The Japanese concert, featuring many of Monk's favorites, is essentially a replication of the double-album Lp set, and could have been squeezed onto one CD. The Jazz Workshop album, however, has been virtually reinvented, with no fewer than a dozen new recordings plus restored versions of three songs from the original Lp release. In the context of a contemporaneous marketing decision, it's easy to understand why Columbia never thought of releasing this material in a four album set, and why they excised bass and drum solos to get more tunes on the record and keep listeners from getting bored. But it's just as easy to see from our historical vantage point that fans want every available note. From the recorded evidence, Monk's groups were fairly consistent. Even so, they sound particularly "up" for these shows.

With Ben Riley's snare drum popping and Monk's piano ringing out, Rouse digs deeply into Monk's unmistakable melodies while Larry Gales holds it together with his thick pulse. While very little of Monk's Columbia work can be considered essential, these releases are excellent documents of what his groups put out on stages around the globe, night after night. Get the Jazz Workshop set first; it's a better value and the tasty Riley is a total gas. (Monk In Tokyo: Columbia/Legacy C2K 63538; Charlie Rouse (ts) Thelonious Monk (p) Butch Warren (b) Frankie Dunlop (d); Tokyo, Japan, May 21, 1963; Disc 1 (38:35): STRAIGHT, NO CHASER/ PANNONICA/ JUST A GIGOLO/ EVIDENCE (JUSTICE)/ JACKIE-ING/ BEMSHA SWING/ EPISTROPHY; Disc 2 (42:13): I'M GETTING SENTIMENTAL OVER YOU/ HACKENSACK/ BLUE MONK/ EPISTROPHY; Live At The Jazz Workshop: Columbia/Legacy C2K 65189; Charlie Rouse (ts) Thelonious Monk (p) Larry Gales (b) Ben Riley (d); San Francisco, CA, November 3-4, 1964; Disc 1 (74:08): DON'T BLAME ME/ BA-LU BOLIVAR BA-LUES ARE#/ WELL YOU NEEDN'T#/ MEDLEY: EVIDENCE, RHYTHM-A-NING/ EPISTROPHY (THEME)*/ HACKENSACK*/ BRIGHT MISSISSIPPI*/ EVIDENCE*/ EPISTROPHY*. Disc 2 (73:49): BLUE MONK#/ WELL YOU NEEDN'T*/ BRIGHT MISSISSIPPI*/ BEMSHA SWING*/ 'ROUND MIDNIGHT*/ NUTTY*/ STRAIGHT, NO CHASER*/ THELONIOUS*/ HACKENSACK/ MISTERIOSO/ BA-LU BOLIVAR BA-LUES ARE/ EPISTROPHY (THEME). Tracks marked * are previously unissued; tracks marked # were previously available only in edited form and is here restored to full length.)

- Stuart Kremsky

Not unexpectedly, on the heels of their well-received six-CD Miles and Coltrane boxed set, Columbia has been re-reissuing classic albums by Miles Davis in spiffy new packages that preserve the original album sequences and add bonus tracks at the end where available. 'Round About Midnight was Miles' first Columbia Lp, and the label has finally done right by this classic album. The bonus tracks here were issued at the time, but scattered on other releases. This CD offers the sessions complete at last. Sound quality, thanks to the Super Bit Mapping technology, is superb, with each instrument distinct and crisply defined (fabulous sound on Philly Joe's snare drum!). Essential listening. (Columbia/Legacy CK 85201; Miles Davis (t) John Coltrane (ts) Red Garland (p) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones (d); NYC, October 26, 1955 (2, 7-9), June 2, 1956 (4-6), or September 10, 1956 (1, 3, 10); 1.'ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT/ 2.AH-LEU-CHA/ 3.ALL OF YOU/ 4.BYE BYE BLACKBIRD/ 5.TADD'S DELIGHT/ 6.DEAR OLD STOCKHOLM/ 7.TWO BASS HIT*/ 8.LITTLE MELONAE*/ 9.BUDO*/ 10.SWEET SUE, JUST YOU*; 58:15)

Milestones adds the distinctive voice of alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley to the ensemble on another important album. This one includes three alternate takes from the February 4, 1958 taken from the box. Inspired music, absolutely top-notch. (Columbia/Legacy CK 85203; Miles Davis (t) John Coltrane (ts) Cannonball Adderley (as) Red Garland (p) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones (d); NYC, February 4 or March 4*, 1958; DR. JACKLE*/ SID'S AHEAD*/ TWO BASS HIT/ MILESTONES/ BILLY BOY/ STRAIGHT, NO CHASER/ TWO BASS HIT (alternate)/ MILESTONES (alternate)/ STRAIGHT, NO CHASER (alternate); 68:47)

Miles Davis At Newport 1958 combines the album side originally released as Miles And Monk At Newport (CS 8978) with the set-ending "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "The Theme" that first appeared on 1982's Newport Jazz Festival Live collection (C2 38262) for the first intact release of this exciting performance outside of the boxed set. (Columbia/Legacy CK 85202; Miles Davis (t) John Coltrane (ts) Cannonball Adderley (as) Bill Evans (p) Paul Chambers (b) Jimmy Cobb (d); Newport, RI, July 3, 1958; INTRODUCTION BY WILLIS CONOVER/ AH-LEU-CHA/ STRAIGHT, NO CHASER/ FRAN-DANCE/ TWO BASS HIT/ BYE BYE BLACKBIRD/ THE THEME; 40:16)

Finally, there's the smoking Jazz At The Plaza album. No bonus tracks here, just the original album (with some corrected credits), recorded at a Columbia Records promotional event in New York's Plaza Hotel. After some miking problems with the trumpet at the very beginning, the balance settles down into decent live sound for the period. Coltrane seems particularly on fire for this date, tearing through his solos like a man with more ideas than he can cram into them. It might have been just another gig to the band perhaps, but it's pretty special all the same. (Columbia/Legacy CK 85245; Miles Davis (t) John Coltrane (ts) Cannonball Adderley (as) Bill Evans (p) Paul Chambers (b) Jimmy Cobb (d); NYC, September 9, 1958; IF I WERE A BELL/ OLEO/ MY FUNNY VALENTINE/ STRAIGHT, NO CHASER; 40:24)

- Stuart Kremsky

The folks at Sony/Legacy haven't been neglecting the later, electric-era Miles Davis albums. Recently reissued are Big Fun, originally a two-record set with four very different side-long tracks, now lengthened with the addition of four tracks first released on The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions boxed set (Columbia/Legacy C2K 63973; Miles Davis (t) with Steve Grossman, Wayne Shorter, Carlos Garnett (ss) Sonny Fortune (ss, fl) Bennie Maupin (b cl, fl) John McLaughlin (g) Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul (el p) Larry Young (org, celeste) Lonnie Smith, Harold I. Williams (p) Khalil Balakrishna (el sitar) Bihari Sharma (tambura) Ron Carter, Dave Holland, Harvey Brooks, Michael Henderson (b, el b) Billy Cobham, Al Foster, Billy Hart, Jack DeJohnette (d) Airto Moreira, James "Mtume" Forman (perc) Badal Roy (tabla); Disc 1 (73:54): GREAT EXPECTATIONS (11/19/69)/ IFE (6/12/72)/ RECOLLECTIONS (2/6/70)/ TREVERE (11/28/69). Disc 2 (68:39): GO AHEAD JOHN (3/3/70)/ LONELY FIRE (11/28/69)/ THE LITTLE BLUE FROG (11/28/69)/ YAPHET (11/18/69); the still-controversial On The Corner, Miles and producer Teo Macero's grand experiment in layering rhythms and using overdubs to create a uniquely funky polyrhythmic musical environment, with fresh notes by reissue producer Bob Belden and saxophonist Dave Liebman, full personnel credits, and in richer sound than the Lp, which was quite long for vinyl (Columbia/Legacy CK 63980; Miles Davis (t) David Liebman (ss on 1) Carlos Garnett (ss on 2, ts on 4) Bennie Maupin (b cl on 2) John McLaughlin (g on 1) David Creamer (g on 2-4) Herbie Hancock (el p, synth) Chick Corea (el p) Harold "Ivory" Williams (org, synth) Michael Henderson (b) Colin Walcott (el sitar on 1, 3, 4) Khalil Balakrishna (el sitar on 2) Billy Hart, Jack DeJohnette, Al Foster (d) Don Alias (perc) Badal Roy (tabla); NYC, June 1, 6 & 7, 1972; 1.ON THE CORNER/NEW YORK GIRL/ THINKIN' OF ONE THING AND DOIN' ANOTHER/ VOTE FOR MILES; 2. BLACK SATIN; 3. ONE AND ONE; 4.HELEN BUTTE/ MR. FREEDOM X; 54:46); and another very long double-album set, Get Up With It, a hodgepodge of material from sessions over a four-year period that ranges from the lengthy dirge for Duke Ellington, "He Loved Him Madly," to the simplistic R'n'B of "Red China Blues," complete with a blues harmonica solo by Wally Chambers. This set also features extensive notes by Liebman that put the music into perspective. (Columbia/Legacy C2K 63970; Disc 1 (59:58): HE LOVED HIM MADLY (6/19 or 20/74)/ MAIYSHA (10/7/74)/ HONKY TONK (5/19/70)/ RATED X (9/6/72). Disc 2 (64:04): CALYPSO FRELIMO (9/17/73)/ RED CHINA BLUES (3/9/72)/ MTUME (10/7/74)/ BILLY PRESTON (12/8/72).

- Stuart Kremsky

 

The Toronto-based Sackville label has been responsible for recordings in all styles of creative music over the course of its history. For the Sackville Collection, the label is releasing 9 of its more outside releases in limited editions of 1,000, available singly or by subscription. (Subscribers get a bonus CD of Archie Shepp's I Know About The Life.) The first of these creative music classics to appear is Don Pullen's 1975 Solo Piano Album. As I'm reminded by Stuart Broomer's extensive notes, this was not only Pullen's first solo recording, but the very first solely under his name. The four tracks show this inside/outside pianist stretching out at length. Each of his originals has a very different character. It begins in a relaxed and meditative state of mind with "Richard's Tune," dedicated to Muhal Richard Abrams. Pullen's pieces tend to grow denser and more involved as they go on, and this one is no exception. The clarity of the original recording is evident on the opening to the excerpt from "Suite (Sweet) Malcolm," with high-pitched clusters at the very start ringing out and suggesting church bells. The gospelish main melody ("Memories") and variations eventually give way to fiercely dissonant masses of sound ("Gunshots") in an expansive display of programmatic music-making. "Big Alice" was Pullen's signature piece, recorded in a variety of formats. This version of the funky soul tune is very nice, with a sinuous beat and the kind of rolling gospel-style piano that sounds like it could go on all night. The finale is the most difficult listening, a composed melody literally played backwards, a strategy which suggested the entire direction of the improvisation. The result is a highly unusual form and development, and a crucial insight into the possibilities available to the creative improviser. A wonderful reissue. (Sackville SKCD2-3008; Don Pullen (p); Toronto, Ontario, February 24, 1975; RICHARD'S TUNE/ SUITE (SWEET) MALCOLM (PART 1: MEMORIES AND GUNSHOTS)/ BIG ALICE/ SONG PLAYED BACKWARDS; 43:18)

- Stuart Kremsky

All Kinds Of Time, by the duo of Karl Berger & Dave Holland, is an exceedingly gentle and soothing album and the second release in the Sackville Collection. The set begins with Berger's rolling "Simplicity," with the composer on piano, which elicits a wonderfully engaged duet (and a great Holland solo). It's quite clear from the start that the players are extremely comfortable with the music and with one other, and the resulting generally quiet dialogue is most enjoyable. Berger is a limited player, but with great rhythmic strength and a canny sense of how to write for his strong points. Holland is practically without peer as an all-around modern bassist, and it's always a pleasure to hear him well-recorded and in a minimalist setting. A lovely set that benefits from a careful digital Remaster ING. (Sackville SKCD2-3010; Karl Berger (p, vbs, balafon) Dave Holland (b); Toronto, Ontario, April 26, 1976; SIMPLICITY/ PERFECT LOVE/ FRAGMENTS/ THE BEGINNING/ MEDLEY; NOW IS, D'ACCORD, ALL KINDS OF TIME, WE ARE; 42:30)

- Stuart Kremsky

Here's a find: Coleman Hawkins performing in Lausanne 1949 for Swiss radio, and issued on CD in 1999 by the Swiss TCB label. Not unexpectedly, given the age and circumstances of this performance at the Maison du Peuple, this is not exactly in high fidelity sound, but the soloists sound quite good and undistorted. Even the cymbal work and some subtleties like quiet encouragements from the band are very distinct. Hawkins is in superb form, and since his magnificent tone is so well-captured and his consistently enthralling solos are the main attraction, this release from the critical post-WWII swing-to-bop transition era is very welcome indeed. A sample of Kenny Clarke's work during this transition period and a hip program of standards and Hawkins' originals that includes Bird's "Ornithology" is a nice bonus. (TCB 02132; Coleman Hawkins (ts) Jean-Paul Mangeon (p) Pierre Michelot (b) Kenny Clarke (d) on tracks marked *, add Nat Peck (tbn) Hubert Fol (as) James Moody (ts); Lausanne, Switzerland, December 3, 1949; ROBBINS' NEST*/ RIFFTIDE*/ IT'S THE TALK OF THE TOWN/ THE MAN I LOVE/ HAWK'S BLUES/ STUFFY/ DISORDER AT THE BORDER*/ SOPHISTICATED LADY/ SWEET GEORGIA BROWN/ BODY AND SOUL/ ASSY PANASSY*/ ORNITHOLOGY*; 67:04 [booklet]; 69:06 [CD player])

- Stuart Kremsky

The Essential Miles Davis, a two-CD career retrospective, trumps the recent Ken Burns Jazz single disc collection (with which it shares 5 tracks) by offering just shy of 2_ hours of music. With material recorded over a 43-year period, beginning with a Charlie Parker Quintet track from 1945 (the wholly appropriate "Now's The Time") and ending with a tune from Miles' Tutu album for Warner Bros., this comprehensive cross-label anthology chronologically documents all of the major bands and associations in Davis' musical life. Given its non-judgmental approach to the Davis canon, it's the perfect introduction to his artistry. (Columbia/Legacy C2K 85475; Disc 1 (76:28): NOW'S THE TIME (11/26/45)/ JERU (1/21/49)/ COMPULSION (1/30/53)/ TEMPUS FUGIT (4/20/53)/ WALKIN' (4/29/54)/ 'ROUND MIDNIGHT (6/5/56)/ NEW RHUMBA (5/23/57)/ GENERIQUE (12/4-5/57)/ SUMMERTIME (8/4/58)/ SO WHAT (3/2/59)/ THE PAN PIPER (3/10/60)/ SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME (3/20/61). Disc 2 (73:12): MY FUNNY VALENTINE (2/12/64)/ E.S.P. (1/20/65)/ NEFERTITI (6/7/67)/ PETITS MACHIN (6/19/68)/ MILES RUNS THE VOODOO DOWN (8/20/69)/ LITTLE CHURCH (6/4/70)/ BLACK SATIN (7/7/72)/ JEAN PIERRE (10/4/81)/ TIME AFTER TIME (1/26/84)/ PORTIA (2/13/86).)

- Stuart Kremsky

It's fine with Dave Douglas if you don't want to call the music on his luscious new A Thousand Evenings "jazz." As he writes in the cogent liner notes to his second RCA Victor CD, "What this new music is called is, perhaps, not our [the musicians] choice. Names only attach themselves to established and codified artforms." Whatever you call it, the combination of Douglas' ravishingly rich trumpet sound, his intelligent composing, and his impeccable sense of the right instrumentation to realize his songs results in the exhilarating and wonderful sound of the Charms of the Night Sky ensemble. One thing that's become clear of late is that any configuration of instruments will work, given the right material and performers. Thus the blending of Guy Klucevsek's accordion, Mark Feldman's violin, and Greg Cohen's bass with Douglas' trumpet seems perfectly natural for the chamber approach that Douglas' writing for this group emphasizes. Of course, it helps a lot that they're all virtuoso players on their instruments, adaptable and utterly compelling soloists. One listen to their version of Nat Adderley's "The Little Boy With The Sad Eyes" or the group's respectful take on the theme from "Goldfinger" should be all the convincing that anyone needs. With diverse influences on Douglas' compositions that range from klezmer ("The Branches" is dedicated to the seminal clarinetist and composer Dave Tarras) to Mingus, Ellington, Stevie Wonder, Henry Mancini, and beyond, this music often takes off in unexpected directions. The thing to do is relax and let this music take you on a journey beyond mere description. Stunningly beautiful music, and absolutely recommended to anyone interested in where "jazz" is headed. (RCA Victor 09026-63698; Dave Douglas (t) Mark Feldman (vln) Guy Klucevsek (accordion) Greg Cohen (b); NYC, February 2-3, August 14, 2000; A THOUSAND EVENINGS/ THE BRANCHES (IN TWO PARTS)/ WORDS FOR A LOSS/ VARIETY/ THE LITTLE BOY WITH THE SAD EYES/ IN SO MANY WORLDS (ECSTATIC/ MOURNFUL/ IN PRAISE)/ GOLDFINGER/ ON OUR WAY HOME/ MEMORIES OF A PURE SPRING; 66:42)

- Stuart Kremsky


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