Thursday, March 31, 2005

Jazz in the Times

The New York Times has a couple of new articles, the first one about some of the new CD's that have been released recently by Charles Lloyd, John Ellis and Happy Apple:

Happy Apple, a Minneapolis jazz group, dips into funk, too, but in a much harsher, more brutal way. The group has only three players - Erik Fratzke (electric bass), David King (drums) and Michael Lewis (saxophones and occasionally keyboards) - but it's a steamroller, something like a cross between Ornette Coleman's mid-60's group and the Minutemen.

The second is about the San Francisco Jazz Collective, and their emergence onto the west coast jazz scene.

As the name implies, the SF Jazz Collective is a cooperative band, with no leader. Onstage, the saxophonist Joshua Redman makes announcements between songs, because he is artistic director within the larger organization, its public face.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Sun Ra – When Angels Speak of Love (Saturn/Evidence 1963/2003)

According to Evidence Records, this is one of the rarest Sun Ra records ever made. In fact, they were not able to locate the original master tapes and had to rely on some clean copies kept by vinyl collectors. Ra wasn’t exactly a sticker for sound quality anyway, so the music does come out a little muddy. It doesn’t detract from the music however; this is an interesting slice of the Ra band as they moved from a swing influenced group into a more avant-garde setting.

The first track “Celestial Fantasy” begins with a stark horn opening using echo to create a very spooky effect. Drums slowly enter and everything is drenched in echo. “Idea of it All” has some fractured swing with Ra’s piano leading the way and some very up-font drumming, heavy on the cymbals. A tenor saxophone solo from John Gilmore takes things more “out” and the music gets quite intense with Ra’s percussive comping prodding everyone on. The leader gets a solo backed by some fast paced drumming sounding almost like Cecil Taylor before the band finally re-enters for a run through of the theme.

A brisk drum beat opens “Ecstacy of Being” with a sharp sounding tenor saxophone joining the fray. A trumpet enters at exactly the four minute mark and then the echo experiments start again, interesting stuff. The whole band enters at the very end with an ominous theme, very dark and brooding. The title track has John Gilmore playing at a ballad tempo with piano comping gently underneath. The veritable calm before the storm.

The final track on the album is a Ra epic entitled “Next Stop Mars.” Given the nature of the music, the trip to Mars must be one heck of a ride! Beginning with chanting vocals, the music builds with free playing tenor and piano into a full scale cacophony. The echo affect is back with a spooky solo leading into an intense tenor saxophone solo raw and the real deal. This is a fascinating transitory album which catches the Ra band moving into some experimental playing with electronics and free jazz.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Downtown Music Gallery has an interview with their own Manny “Lunch” Maris:

And I started getting into John Coltrane and I started getting into Eric Dolphy. I started even though I'm going backwards in time, I'm going forwards in opening up a musical listening. And I'm hearing people who are playing: they're not playing music to because it's a fashion; they're not playing music for any other reason except to be playing. It's just what they do and how they express themselves.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

William Parker – Luc’s Lantern (Thirsty Ear, 2005)

For the last couple of years I’ve wondered why mainstream jazz radio stations don’t play the music of William Parker. I guess it goes to show how hard it is to shake off a label in the jazz world, even when it no longer applies. In Parker’s case, his association with Cecil Tayor, David S. Ware and others has led to him being branded with the scarlet A for “avant-garde” even though his last several albums have been quite melodic and accessible. His new album is a case in point, being a standard piano trio playing very melodic (read: non-threatening) music. He’s joined by the young pianist Eri Yamamato and Michael Thompson on drums.

Initially when I heard this disc compared to music by the Bill Evans trio, I was a little nonplussed, but when I finally heard the music, I understood the comparison. Beginning with the opening composition “Adena” and occurring as a theme throughout the disc, there is a lot of the fragile, crystalline sense of space that was found in the Evans trio. But it’s not all melancholy brooding, Parker pays tribute to great pianists with the tracks “Jaki” for Jaki Byard and “Bud in Alphaville” for Bud Powell. Both of which allow Ms. Yamamato to show her classically trained chops. Also, if you’re a fan of Parker’s bass playing as well as his composing, you’re in for a treat as the space available in the trio setting allows him to stretch out at length as well.

So overall, it’s an interesting departure for William Parker, and by far the most “mainstream” album he has ever made. It will be interesting to see how the avant garde community reacts to this low key album. Be that as it may, if you’ve been interested in Parker but scared off by his “avant-garde” reputation, this is the perfect introduction.

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Muddy Waters - One More Mile (MCA/Chess, 1993)

One More Mile was a vault clearing exercise that MCA filled with alternate takes, unreleased recordings and most interestingly, an eleven song acoustic performance done for a Swiss radio station in the early 1970's. Since for the most part Muddy could do no wrong during his Chess tenure (if the Chess family didn’t ask him to do cheesy commercial projects, that is) there is much to admire in the music collected here.

Disc one begins with alternate takes from Muddy’s first recording sessions for the label, wonderful raw blues where he’s backed only by the bassist Big Crawford. From there we move into Muddy’s classic period in the mid to late 1950's. Now he was cutting classic Willie Dixon penned songs and performing and recording them with the likes of Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter and other Chicago luminaries. Among the unreleased tracks are interesting alternate takes of well known tunes like "Crawling Kingsnake" and "Rolling Stone." Also, great Waters versions os Dixon’s "Tiger in Your Tank" and "I Got My Brand on You" are finally released.

Disc two moves onto the second half of Waters tenure at Chess and removes some of the overdubbed horns from the Muddy Brass and Blues album that annoyed blues fans leaving clean unadorned versions of "Trouble in Mind" and "Trouble Trouble" allowing you to hear the mid-60's band featuring James Cotton on harmonica in all their glory. At the end of the second disc is the Swiss radio broadcast which has wonderful stripped down acoustic versions of Muddy standards like "Rollin’ and Tumblin’" and "Hoochie Coochie Man." That set alone is worth tracking this down. Given MCA’s cavalier attitude about reissuing material, this set may no longer be in print, but it is well worth searching for in any case considering the wealth of excellent material included.

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Friday, March 25, 2005

The Washington Post (via Yahoo) has a wire service report about changes in the music industry during coverage of the annual South by Southwest music festival, including some pointed commentary from Elvis Costello:

As soon as broadband is big enough, the record (retailing) business is over," Costello said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "They will have to change or die ... It's going to be about five minutes to the end. All bets are off." Costello also said that "music chains like Tower Records had 'let the spirit go out of it.'"

The Guardian Unlimited's Observer music section gets Tom Waits to list his 20 favorite albums:

In the first of an occasional series in which the greatest recording artists reveal their favourite records, Tom Waits writes about his 20 most cherished albums of all time. So for the lowdown on Zappa and Bill Hicks, step right up...

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Jimmy Witherspoon – The Spoon Concerts (Fantasy, 1959)

Very few musicians combined the genres of blues and jazz as well as vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon. While he very rarely scatted, he had the presence and grace of a master jazz artist as well as the power to testify the blues as well as any leather-lunged juke joint belter. This is a mix of live material from the peak of his career, partly from the Monterey Jazz Festival and the rest from assorted live dates of the period. All of which find him in the company of some heavy hitters from the jazz world.

The concerts open with a round of introductions followed by Witherspoon swaggering through his own “Times Getting Tougher Than Tough” an up-tempo Joe Turner like which really starts to get the audience into the action. He follows this up with some classic older blues “How Long Blues,” “Corrina, Corrina” and “C.C. Rider” have been in the repertoire of every blues musician since the mid 30’s, but there’s nothing clichĂ© about the performances, both the music and the singing are fresh and lush.

Other highlights include a blasting “Good Rocking Tonight” and R&B performance that made Witherspoon a favorite of Van Morrison (the two recorded together on a Morrison live album) among others. The standard “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” is an epic slow blues that really lets the band and the singer stretch out and explore the song in a wonderful performance. Any fan of blues or jazz singing would enjoy this album.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Interesting Articles

One Final Note has an interesting (and very long) article about some of the most memorable Miles Davis bootleg recordings:

The bootleg world seems to go on forever — no conclusions, no authorized issues, no final word, and certainly no agreement on which concert is the best, the definitive, the one wherein the true Miles may be found. One Site lists fully 187 “liberated bootlegs” for Miles Davis. For instance. And there are DVDs, too. Yes! Thanks to the documentary diligence of European and Japanese radio and television and the obsessive-compulsive online collectors of today, it is now theoretically possible to re-create most of Miles’ overseas tours between 1967 and 1991, from the comfort of your own computer.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, March 21, 2005

Steve Turre – The Spirits Up Above (High Note, 2005)

This album is Steve Turre’s tribute to his former boss, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and is made up of some of Kirk’s best known compositions along with a couple of Turre originals. The musicians on this project include the leader on trombone, James Carter on tenor saxophone and flute, Vincent Herring on alto saxophone, Dave Valentin on flute, Mulgrew Miller on piano, Buster Williams on bass and Winard Harper on drums. Some vocalists also join the group on a few songs.

Blasting off with one of Kirk’s most well known tunes “Three For the Festival” which has the three horns doing their best to approximate the one-man band that Rahsaan was. Carter also gets a nice flue spot on this song. Flute is also in the spotlight on the medley of “Serenade to a Cuckoo/Bright Moments” which features Dave Valentin’s light and airy sound. Vocals are added to the title track which heads into gospel territory and the final track “Volunteered Slavery” which turns into a rousing swinger with the riffing horns encouraging the vocalists.

Turre is a very democratic leader, giving a lot of solo space to his heavy hitting sidemen, but he manages to sneak in some nice solo and ensemble work. Carter is great on this outing, Kirk’s swaggering compositions fit his gregarious and flashy nature well. All in all, this is a thoughtful and successful tribute album. It’s a shame Kirk’s compositions haven’t been embraced by more musicians, as this album shows, in the right hands they have a lot going for them.

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Jazz Odds and Ends

William Parker has been in the news lately, first with an article and photos in the new Jazz Times and now with a very interesting interview in All About Jazz:

"Persons like Norah Jones inadvertently may have destroyed the jazz aspect of Blue Note Records. Why have jazz when you can have Jones—who is a very nice person and tries to do what she's doing, is it pop jazz?—who sells so many millions. Why don't they buy Matthew Shipp in the millions?"

Also the New York Times has a nice short article about a rare visit to New York from tenor saxophone legend Johnny Griffin:

The tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin is one of those elite older jazz players who contain so much of what makes the music great - rhythm, soul, blues, humor, delight, maturity, sophistication, world-weariness. He has a sound and a presence, and everything he does is interesting, even moving and talking and introducing his band members.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Brian Patneaude - Distance (WEPA, 2005)

Saxophonist Brian Patneaude's second album pick up where his 2003 disc Variations left off, mixing straight - ahead jazz with fusion and now adding touches of electronica to the mix. Joining him on this disc are George Muscatello on guitar, Ryan Lucas on bass, and Danny Welchel on drums. Dave Payette sits in on Fender Rhode electric piano on a few tracks.

"Change" establishes a mid-tempo groove with drums and guitar when the saxophone enters. The guitar keeps a slinky groove before the final saxophone solo which uses some interesting delay electronics to alter the sound. "Release" starts as a ballad with calming saxophone but as the drums and piano enter, the music develops a faster pace. This atmospheric song also features a Pat Metheny like acoustic guitar interlude. "Inspiration" is a nicely moody track with a mellow guitar solo and some shimmering electric piano.

"Alone" slows this down even further as this ballad opens noir-ish with a late night sound somewhat reminiscent of the ballads that appeared on Kurt Rosenwinkel's The Next Step CD. "Red" picks up the pace with a rapid drum groove and up-tempo saxophone. There's a fleet guitar solo with again a Pat Metheny influenced liquid flowing sound. What makes this track stand out is Patneaude's use of electronic processing of the saxophone on his solo, somewhat reminiscent of the electric saxophone experiments of Eddie Harris and Sonny Stitt. The nasal sound comes as a bit of a shock at first, but it really works well and gives the song a very adventurous feel.

The title track “Distance” starts at a mid-tempo with a nice electric piano break, and the disc ends ironically enough with “Unending” textural guitar backs a slow building saxophone solo which is lengthy and strong. Just when you think the song is going to wind up, is shifts gears with a strumming guitar and electronically processed saxophone. It’s a great way to end the disc, consolidating the advances the band has made over the past couple of years.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bird Lives...

The fiftieth anniversary of the death of Charlie Parker has brought a slew of articles into newspapers and magazines around the country. The Houston Chronicle has an article with an overview of Parker's career:

In a way, everything Parker created was in poetry. His music certainly suggests someone with a lot more to say than his predecessors. Parker built scaffolding around the architecture of swing, sometimes adding layers of notes where no one thought they would fit.

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Monday, March 14, 2005

Bittorrent – Sun Ra Arkestra – Newport, RI 7/3/69

It must have been quite a trip to see the Sun Ra band in full regalia accompanied by dancers and a light show at the Newport Jazz Festival – I wonder what the millionaires in their sailboats thought of the whole deal? A long way from “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” I guess. John Zwed quotes Dan Morganstern in Downbeat as reviewing this performance as “sloppy but effective” and that assessment is borne out by this somewhat crude audience recording.

Ra and the band play many of their familiar themes from the period, such as “Enlightenment” and “We Travel the Spaceways” and singer June Tyson scores some very impressive vocal performances. It’s the music itself that seems angry and unfocused, perhaps the groups just wasn’t comfortable in such rarified surroundings. Ra’s synthesizer explorations which are usually succinct tend to noodle and wander while the horns are not as crisp and tight as usual. Regardless, it was this performance along with the group’s brief association with the Impulse! Record label that began to raise the bands profile and increase their exposure to new audiences.

Send comments to: Tim
Bittorrent – Sun Ra Arkestra – Newport, RI 7/3/69

It must have been quite a trip to see the Sun Ra band in full regalia accompanied by dancers and a light show at the Newport Jazz Festival – I wonder what the millionaires in their sailboats thought of the whole deal? A long way from “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” I guess. John Zwed quotes Dan Morganstern in Downbeat as reviewing this performance as “sloppy but effective” and that assessment is borne out by this somewhat crude audience recording.

Ra and the band play many of their familiar themes from the period, such as “Enlightenment” and “We Travel the Spaceways” and singer June Tyson scores some very impressive vocal performances. It’s the music itself that seems angry and unfocused, perhaps the groups just wasn’t comfortable in such rarified surroundings. Ra’s synthesizer explorations which are usually succinct tend to noodle and wander while the horns are not as crisp and tight as usual. Regardless, it was this performance along with the group’s brief association with the Impulse! Record label that began to raise the bands profile and increase their exposure to new audiences.

Send comments to: Tim

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown - Timeless (Hightone, 2004)

Hearing this set, which was recorded live and in the studio, it's hard to believe that Brown is nearly eighty years old and in poor health. His music is a fascinating mix of blues, jazz and hillbilly country and he refuses to be pidgeon-holed into any particular genre. On this set, his skills on both guitar and violin and guitar are on display along with some vocals and even a little bit of storytelling!

The setlist is fascinating in its variety, everything from "Unchained Melody" (!) to Ellington and Brown's own compositions. Brown's scraping fiddle takes center stage on the country numbers like "Dark Edge of the Hallway" and "Tennessee Blues" while his bluesy guitar is featured on the jazz standards "Satin Doll" and "Mercy Mercy Mercy." The most interesting track on the album is a version of Brown's classic tune "The Drifter," prefaced by a spoken introduction where the man traces the history of the Universe in five minutes!

Brown is one of the most unique musicians in America, one who operates freely in several different genres of music and blending them into something that was all his own. This is a very good disc that make for an excellent introduction to Brown unique vision of American music.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, March 11, 2005

Miles Davis – Seven Steps: Complete Recordings 1963-64 (Sony, 2004)

All of the music on this set has been around the block several times since their initial releases as LP’s in the 1960’s and 70’s. Whereas the previous boxed sets in this series have focused on one particular band or album, this set follows the evolution of Davis’ group through an 18 month period during 1963 – 1964. This is the period after the first “classic” quintet which was anchored by John Coltrane, and when he was experimenting with a number of musicians looking for the right mix of talent.

The first couple of discs detail the studio sessions that would go into making up the Seven Steps to Heaven LP. Recorded on the west coast, these sessions featured Victor Feldman on piano and George Coleman on tenor saxophone. The group played a number of Feldman’s theme’s and some standards, including a beautiful version of “I Fall in Love Too Easily.”

The majority of the collection is made up of live material, recorded at a number of festivals and concerts as the Davis took the band on tour, trying different players and waiting for things to gel. Among these was the CORE benefit concert recorded in 1963 that was something of a scandal among the band when Davis donated the band’s fee for the performance without telling them. This concert was eventually released as the records “Four and More” and “My Funny Valentine.” In the case of this collection, the concert is returned to its original running order.

Two transitional European concerts are included, originally released as Miles in Europe which was recorded in Antibes, France with George Coleman in 1963 and the first recording of Wayne Shorter with the group are available in a concert that saw limited distribution on record, Miles in Berlin. Again, most of the material on these concerts is performed from Davis’ stock repertoire but each version has something different to offer and all are enjoyable.

The most interesting concert of the whole set (for me, anyway) was the concert that was released as Miles in Tokyo with Sam Rivers taking over for George Coleman on tenor saxophone. Rivers was recommended to Davis by Tony Williams and he had just been signed to Blue Note Records. Rivers’ avant-garde influenced tone was a little too strident for Miles, who elected to let him go after the tour of Japan. Regardless, it’s a fascinating concert as the explosive Rivers and the young rhythm section subject Davis’ standards to a thorough airing out.

Overall, this set is quite interesting and valuable as it tracks the evolution of the Miles Davis sound during a period where he was consolidating his advances he made during the 1950’s and looking forward to the pace setting group of the mid 1960’s. The booklet and discographical material included with the package is well done with extensive notes and photographs.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Interesting articles

The New York Times has a fascinating article about the reel-to-reel jazz loft recordings of W. Eugene Smith:

Smith's jazz loft project, if you can call it that, lasted from 1957 to about 1965, through what were arguably jazz's best years, when most of the music's early masters were still alive, and the players of a new generation were challenging its foundations. The project had no proper dimensions, and never attained anything resembling publishable form; it ended when the building's resident musicians moved on and the scene dissipated. When Smith died in 1978, evidence of that period lay deep within his 22 tons of pack-rat archives.

Also from the Times, Ben Ratliff takes on a couple of new CD's, including one that's high on my want list, Kurt Rosenwinkel's Deep Song.

Beyond a handful of intriguing new themes that hide details inside simplicity - "The Cloister," "Brooklyn Sometimes," "Gesture" - it's the band that matters here. They're playing hard and honestly.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Barry Harris – Chasin’ the Bird (OJC, 1962)

Barry Harris is someone who doesn’t seem to garner a lot of attention, despite being an excellent bebop pianist and a semi-legend as a player and a teacher in his hometown of Detroit. He came of age during the heyday of bebop and the touchstones of his style are the masters of that era – Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. I saw Harris perform a solo concert several years ago and he was wonderful in performance, playing blues, bop and ballads with equal pleasure.

If you love bebop piano, this is definitely a record to check out, Harris plays mostly Parker’s music or songs associated with the man with a few originals thrown in, joined by Bob Cranshaw on bass and Clifford Jarvis on drums. It has a wonderful mix of tempos from storming bebop like the title track to gentle ballads, particularly a moody version of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight."

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Don Wilkerson – Preach Brother! (Blue Note, 1962)

By the early 1960's Blue Note was in the middle of their most diverse period, releasing records by avant-garde musicians like Cecil Taylor and Andrew Hill. But they also stayed true to the "grits and gravy"soul jazz that had been so successful for them in the past. This is one of their greasiest sessions – Wilkerson was a Louisiana native who played a deep honking tenor saxophone and here he's joined by Sonny Clark on piano, and Grant Green who adds some wonderful accents on guitar. Billy Higgins and Butch Warren round out the rhythm section.

The group cuts a stomping bluesy groove on all of the tracks with the piano, bass and drums laying down a solid foundation and allowing Wilkerson and Green to act as the primary soloists. Green in particular has a technique that he has used on several records, repeating a note or phrase several times in order to build up tension and then releasing it in a flurry of notes. Wilkerson is there with him step for step even putting in a few well placed vocals to keep the joint jumpin'. So if you like easy going soul-jazz, this is definately a record to keep an eye out for. It looks to have been out of print for a while although Blue Note may have released a collection of some of his material.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, March 07, 2005

Muddy Waters & Howlin’ Wolf - Muddy & the Wolf (Chess, 1974)

It would have been a heck of a thing if these two actually recorded together, but actually this record is made up of two sessions recorded on different continents. Muddy and Wolf always kept a weary eye on each other, often accusing Willie Dixon of giving the other man the best songs! This led them to keep their distance from one another.

So what you have here is some fine late-period Chess blues from Muddy, mostly remakes but with confederates like Sam Lay and Otis Spann on hand along with some admirers like Michael Bloomfield, it makes for a pretty relaxed session. Muddy plows with grace and power through "Blow Wind Blow" and "You Can’t Lose What You Never Had" getting back to the roots of his craft and leaving some of the more forgettable late period experiments the Chess family talked him into far, far behind. Also included is a ripping live cut of "Long Distance Call" from a 1969 concert.

The Howlin’ Wolf material turns out to be castoffs from the London Sessions LP that set the Wolf up to record with British blues-rockers like Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. All of this material has now been collected on the Complete London Sessions double CD. Wolf sounds tired and a little uncomfortable, but he still has his moments, especially on the side opening "Rockin’ Daddy." Try as they might, however, they just can’t muster enough mojo to make "Little Red Rooster" and "Highway 49" into anything that compares to the original versions.

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

I Need a Support Group

Adapted from an e-mail I sent to a friend...

It was a nice day and I had some time to kill, so I thought I'd take a ride and listen to Andrew Loog Oldham's show on the radio... so I drove down to Red Bank. Red Bank has lost some its charm for me since both of their used bookstores and the Groove Spot (a strange record/toy/junk store) closed, and the town seems to be overrun with wanna-be hipsters who desperately deserve to be pushed into the next available open manhole.

But I went to Jack's Music Shop anyway, not expecting much - I was in a record mood and usually they just have boxes of molding Guy Lumbardo records. But for some reason lightning struck and I was pulling record after record from the used bin. Blue Note and Riverside jazz, Chess blues, old garage blues from the Animals... I bought 21 freakin' records! What killed me is that they had them marked $2.99 or less. I paid $50 for the whole shot - if I tried that in Princeton or Izzy's (other Jersey record stores) I would have been laughed out of there. Very bizarre...

The euphoria wore off on the way home... more records. You know on the news when they occasionally have those stories of old ladies that have 100 cats? I'm really starting to worry that I'm going to become known as the "crazy record man" and the men in the white coats cannot bevery far behind!

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Odds and Sods

The online music journal Popmatters has a nice tribute to the late organ master Jimmy Smith entitled "Wall of Sound."

With the help of a Hammond B3 organ, the enigmatic Smith was wall of sound incarnate, a fortitude of overwhelming sonic experience. As veteran bebop saxophonist Lou Donaldson stated shortly after Smith's funeral, "The first time I heard Jimmy Smith I almost had a heart attack. I didn't know what that was -- a train, a hurricane, something. And all his life he was bad!"

On another fairly melancholy note, posters on Easytree have written of legendary blues and Americana musician Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's declining health:

Current tour dates have been cancelled due to illness - Gate's lung cancer is in the advanced stages; it looks like he won't be with us for much longer. Say a prayer for a great American blues icon. I don't know what family Gate will be leaving behind, but I'm sure that a portion of the proceeds from cd sales will likely continue to go to his estate after he's passed. it's a good way to help him and his, while helping yourself; go score his released music.

Finishing today's post on a more upbeat note, Brian P.'s new CD Distance has been released and is available. As soon as my copy comes from CD Baby, I'll post a review and play a few cuts during a future podcast. If you like modern jazz with a touch of fusion, check it out!

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Boxed sets

It takes me quite a bit of time to digest boxed sets, I have a love – hate relationship with them: I covet the decadence of a large purchase, but many times the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Here are a couple of boxes that more or less make the grade:

The Faces – Five Guys Walk Into a Bar – Although I have a hard time taking any band with Rod Stewart in it seriously, this set really grew on me. Mixing soul and r&b with blasting rock and roll, The Faces created a unique synthesis. Highlights include some raucous guitar and drum work from Ron Wood and Kenny Jones, and rock solid bass from Ronnie Lane. Stewart’s raspy voice is heard to great effect on slower numbers like the band’s version of Paul McCartney’s “Baby I’m Amazed” and the band pile-drives him through the faster ones, like a killer previously unreleased demo of the Howlin’ Wolf/Willie Dixon classic blues “Evil.” In fact, there is a lot of unreleased material, much of it focusing on the band’s justly deserved reputation as a very hot live group.

The Complete Norman Granz Jam Sessions – Although these recordings don’t have the most stellar reputation among aficionados, I think they’re a blast. As a supplement to the Jazz at the Philharmonic tours which took some of the biggest names in jazz during the 40’s and 50’s around the world, producer Norman Granz also loved to cook up different combinations of musicians and let them loose in some competitive studio jam sessions. Great solos abound, Charlie Parker gets some wonderful spots early on in the set and then on disc three there's some wonderful organ work from Count Basie, an instrument he's not usually associated with but he has a great touch and swinging feel. Most of the music is riff based blues or standards, but if you love the informal side of jazz and don't mind the occasional fluff or mis-step, this box holds quite a bit of treasure.

Now playing: Sirius Satellite Radio Station #25 - "The Underground Garage"

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Take two records and call me in the morning...

Thanks for the supportive e-mails for the podcast, I'm working on choosing the music for #2. The reason blog posts have been a little fewer this week is that I'm trying to fight off a nasty cold, winter just won't give up on the Jersey shore. I hope to have a new podcast up this weekend, but for now since my voice sounds like Tom Waits after inhaling a tank of helium, I think I'll lay low.

Now playing: The Kinks "Catch Me Now I'm Falling" from Come Dancing: The Best of the Kinks 1977-1986.

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