Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sonny Simmons - Last Man Standing (Jazzaway, 2007)

Veteran alto saxophonist and composer Sonny Simmons has found a stable home in the Norwegian label Jazzaway who have produced his past three albums. This, the final in a loose trilogy is a straight quartet session where Simmons is joined by Anders Aarum on piano, Mats Eilertsen on bass, Torstein Lofthus and Ole-Thomas Kolberg alternating on drums. Simmons is definately in charge here and his deep stentorian tone permeates all of the music. The music has dark melodies which have a start-stop feel giving a fractured momentum to the opening tracks "Call to Order" and "Ancient Ritual", a song that moves into chaotic, nearly free playing at times. Simmons is not often noted as a ballad player but there are a couple of good examples of his prowess with slower tempos on this disc. "La Benedectina" and "Theme For Ernie" find the group toning down the volume and allowing the alto saxophone to shine through with an abstract yearning, like a sunbeam splitting clouds. The highlight of the session is the epic near 16 minute "Black Gardenia" which opens with studio chatter and then finds Simmons dancing and jabbing like a boxer looking for an opening. The trio gets a fine interlude of its own before Sonny re-enters with a thoughtful and controlled solo to end a very impressive performance. Despite his talent, Simmons has had an up and down career that is the very definition of the jazz journeyman. This album and the preceding two he recorded in Norway along with his participation in the collective group The Cosmosamatics prove that there is a lot of music left in this veteran musician.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Overlooked musician - Arthur Blythe

When jazz musicians reach a certain age that's too old to be a young lion but not old enough to be a venerated master, they tend to slip between the cracks of a very competitive music scene that continually asks "what have you done for me lately?" Alto saxophonist and composer Arthur Blythe has done a lot during the course of his career, but you wouldn't know it by the few of his discs that remain in print today. He came bursting out of San Diego in the mid-1970's with a tart and citrus alto attack that checked Jackie McLean and Eric Dolphy, but was well on its way to its own unique form of expression. Blythe began recording as a leader for the small India Navigation label which set the tone for his music to follow using tuba and percussion in inventive ways. Much like his predecessor, Albert Ayler, Blythe reached back to the very beginnings of jazz and the music's future simultaneously. Offered an amazing opportunity with a recording contract with the historic major label Columbia, Blythe responded with what is considered his masterpiece, Lenox Avenue Breakdown. One of the mere handful of records given a "crown" in the exhaustive Penguin Guide to Jazz, Lenox was a wildly inventive mix of tart alto saxophone with James Newton's flute and James "Blood" Ulmer's guitar making for an unforgettable mix. The remainder of the recordings Blythe made for Columbia were mixed between electric jazz and traditional acoustic jazz. The albums were all good and thoughtful, but they received a diminishing amount of sales and Blythe's adventurous music fell out of favor with his label as they turned their attention to the neo-bop of the Marsalis brothers. Slipping into a role of a journeyman, Blythe began a very productive association with cellist David Eyges. They recorded as a duo under each others' leadership on a few occasions and the sound of the two instruments improvising together is beguiling. More recently, Blythe has moved back to his hometown of San Diego and has made several records for the Savant label. Once again, he employs Bob Stewart on tuba which gives the music a unique sound, and on the excellent Focus the sound of alto saxophone, tuba and the marimba of William Tsillis is enchanting. Blythe has been pretty quiet of late, still performing live occasionally but he hasn't released an album since 2003. Hopefully this will change soon as Arthur Blythe is one of the most inventive musicians of the post-bop era.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

DVD Review - Desperate Man Blues (Dust to Digital, 2006)

The desperate man in question is record collector Joe Bussard, who has made it his life's mission to collect pre-war 78 RPM records from a variety of genres including jazz, blues, country and gospel. This documentary looks at Bussard's collection and philosophy of music (moldy fig to the extreme!) and the lengths he has gone through to collect these gems. He was one of the young men (like John Fahey and Robert Crumb) that went door to door in the early 1960's looking for old 78's that has fallen out of print. It's thanks to men like these that we have reissues of musicians like Charley Patton and Son House today. In fact, one of the added bonuses on this DVD is a clip of House in the early '60's playing his classic "Death Letter Blues." So yes, it's basically a film about a record geek, but Joe's galvanic personality shines through, dancing and singing along to his finds from behind a large cigar and even larger grin. His stories are infectious and his love for the music is obvious. Record collectors and fans of old time music will love this film, but those who enjoy stories of the odd and eccentric in America will find a lot to enjoy here as well.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

James "Blood" Ulmer - Bad Blood In the City (Hyena, 2007)

Guitarist and vocalist James "Blood" Ulmer began his career as a playing harmolodic free jazz heavily influenced by his mentor, Ornette Coleman. His music has always embraced funk and R&B but in the last several years he has made an abrupt turn deep into the blues, going to famous blues related studios throughout America to cut a fine series of albums for Joel Dorn's Hyena label. Recording at New Orleans' Piety Street, he faces the enormity of what Mother Nature and governmental bungling have done. Leading off with an amazing one-two punch of "Survivors of the Hurricane" and Junior Kimbrough's hill country stomp "Sad Days, Lonely Nights" he evokes the emotional trauma that the people of that city have endured during the past few years. "Sad Days" in particular is an astounding performance, Blood sings like an old testament prophet intoning from beyond the veil while scalding guitar, flute (!) and harmonica wail unmercifully . The joyous gospel stomp "Let's Talk About Jesus" and the sober "This Land Is No One's Land" which darkly updates Woody Guthrie for the GWB era lead into a remarkable trio of covers. "Dead Presidents," "Commit a Crime" and "Grinnin' in Your Face" are all canonical blues songs that take a lot to make fresh again. Ulmer seems truly touched on this disc and is more than up to the task, singing with great power and playing some very unique guitar. Special mention must be made of David Barnes, who adds some wonderful swooping, wheezing harmonica on several of these songs. "Backwater Blues" and "Old Slave Master" take us back full circle to the sadness and grief of the hurricane's aftermath and the shameful lack of assistance provided to the black community of New Orleans. This is a deeply moving album and one of the highlights of Ulmer's career. His seamless combination of several different types of music into a coherent whole defy categorization and make this an album that can be enjoyed by anyone with a heart and a soul. Very highly recommended.

See also: James Lee Burke's new novel The Tin Roof Blowdown takes an excellent (although fictional) look at the aftermath of Katrina.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Nguyen Le - Purple (ACT, 2003)

Purple is Le's tribute to the music of Jimi Hendrix. He is accompanied on this disc by Michel Alibo on bass and Terri Lynne Carrington on drums with a number of vocalists and guests sitting in on different songs. All of the compositions are Hendrix originals, with Le's guitar being prevalent in the action but not dominating. In fact, there are quite a few times where he seems like a sideman on his own record. Most of tracks are actually vocal dominated, sung by either Aida Khann or Corin Curschellas. Vocals range from a rap-like take on "Manic Depression" to smooth R&B on "Up From the Skies." It must have seemed like a good idea at the time to emphasize vocals over the expected guitar, but it never comes through in a convincing manner. Cheeky spoken word recitation nearly deadens "If 6 Was 9" before Le swoops in to rescue the proceedings with a polished guitar solo, while spoken and sampled vocals overwhelm the iconic "Purple Haze." One highlight stands head and shoulders above the rest of the music and that is the funky and vocal-free "South Saturn Delta" which finds the core trio turning in a burning guitar led improvisation. It's a great performance and a clear indication of what could have been were it not for the handcuffing of the band. A die hard Le or Hendrix fan may enjoy disc, but overall it is a missed opportunity.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Non-musical interlude: my review of the final Harry Potter volume can be found here.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

I saw this on the Organissimo forum, and I am in awe. Somebody (not me!) apparently wrote this on the Blue Note web site in response to their releasing another quickie Grant Greet compilation:

Reviewer: emperor nobody, worst nightmare of music "industry" from California. You just can't get it, can you? Year after year goes by, and person after person comes on here and says the same thing, over and over, about Visions, Shades of Green, Green Acid, whatever, all the unreissued GG gems, and you don't even respond. You just issue the same redundant thing over and over like you don't even care. You're probably sitting there in your plush office reading this aloud to your porcine co-workers, themselves drunk with power and false pride over just how incredibly cool you all are working for a biiiiiiiiig record label, all of you laughing with hubris and derision at the hapless comments like this one. But you know what, swine? The joke is on you. Because the day will come when big fat pig record labels that have eliminated any attention whatsoever to the actual music they possess and have instead chosen to pursue it all as a 101% profit-motivated enterprise... the day will come when you will be as obsolete as the "product" you keep putting out. The internet is speeding that day ever closer, and I cannot wait for the day when you're not snickering to yourselves anymore and are out on the street, jobless. Because when you get right down to the truth of it, you idiots ain't making any money with these dumbass compilations... I see them in the cutout bins every day. The truth of it is that you hate the people who make the music and have such utter contempt for the people that buy it, your actual customers, as you sit up there and decide just exactly how bland and homogenized and incomplete and lifeless the cultural content of this country is destined to become.... that soon there will be no need for you anymore. What you are doing is a crime against humanity and beauty. How is it that at one time or another every single BN album has been reissued in Japan, yet your catalog Stateside is not even half-reissued merely 25 years into the CD/digital era? Have you no pride, no balls, no shame? If I had the time and the martial arts skills, I'd break ninja-style into the warehouse where you keep all the masters of all the transcendent music you have entirely NO intention of ever showing the light of day, and I'd take them, remaster them in a studio, and release them on the internet FOR FREE, just to hasten the day that you sorry pigs are OUT OF BUSINESS, forever. This is the new fascist America right here, where the corporations rewrite history (through, in this case, intentional omissions from the catalog of one of the greatest guitarists ever to play) and attempt to homogenize the culture into a one-dimensional caricature of itself because they love money and power just so much. Count the days until you are finished, pigs, count them carefully.

OK, so maybe this guy is going a little overboard, but the gist of the argument is sound. Forget for a moment that this is a great cultural legacy that should be made available. I think if record companies with a vast back catalog would invest in digital remastering and marketing DRM free music on the Internet, I believe they would recoup their investment and make a solid profit. It would be a win-win situation. The music would never go out of print, and also the companies would save money by not not having to press and ship physical discs. If you look at it from a Long Tail perspective, marketing the Blue Note, Fantasy or Verve catalogs in this way would be a solid moneymaker from the companies involved and a boon to music lovers everywhere.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Club d'Elf - Now I Understand (Accurate, 2006)

This Boston based collective draws on a wide variety of influences to form a unique sound. Jazz and electronic music are the most prevalent (think Tortoise with a heavy backbeat), but DJ turntables, world music and a kitchen sink of other sounds play a part. The band has an impish sense of humor, mixing sampled snippets of speech from children, a mock newsreel reporter, culminating in the enjoyable music backed monologue "Shadow Saw the Gods." "Vishnu Dub" adds an Indian music groove to the band's music, mixing instruments and electronics in real time. Electronics and deep bass swirl around a heavy beat on the opening "Brass Beatbox" and the band keeps the groove up throughout. This isn't just a laid back groove record however, there's a lot of variety in the music to chew on. A slower, more wistful interlude comes with the vocal feature "A Toy For a Boy" sung with a hint of sadness by Jennifer Jackson. Things get a little more ominous, but no less amusing on the organ fueled "What Would Cthulhu Do?" and the impressive "Now I Understand" where electronics, turntables and guitars reach a near symphonic crescendo. This is the kind of album that mocks any attempts to box it into some type of artificial genre. Regardless, the music to be found here is very fine and deserves to be sought out by the open eared.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The White Stripes - Icky Thump (Warner Brothers, 2007)

After taking a year off for the pet side project The Raconteurs, guitarist and songwriter Jack and drummer Meg White are back, adding diverse influences to their core bluesy garage rock. Actually, as the years go by, the band moves further away from their blues roots, this time out experimenting with Latin and Scottish music. The title track opens the record with a three minute pro-immigration proto-rap rant with thudding drums, mocking organ and feedback rich guitar. It's an audacious beginning and works well setting the tone for the rest of the album. The record breaks down into three categories: rockers like the opener and the guitar-driven "You Don't Know What Love Is", "Bone Broke" and "Catch Hell Blues." These are songs that reflect the core of the Stripes music, Jack's bellowing vocals and slashing guitar over Meg's uncomplicated drumming. In the second category would be the ballads, like "300 Mile and Hour Torrential Outpour Blues" with it's Dylanesque lyrics and acoustic instrumentation. Finally, their experimental songs like the flamenco-rock of "Conquest" with its added trumpet fanfare, and the Scottish influenced medley of "Prickly Thorn But Sweetly Worn" and "St. Andrews" extend the band's range into areas that could scarcely be imagined a few years ago. The joking "Rag and Bone" is a lighthearted romp with spoken word asides that is successful also. This album works well and really demonstrates the growth of the group, both in terms of lyrics and music. It's a consistently enjoyable album by one of the most interesting rock 'n' roll bands on the scene today.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Bruce Lee Gallanter from the Downtown Music Gallery has a good lengthy review of the recent Vision Festival:

"The annual Vision Fest is the most vital, most necessary and most diverse festival of New Jazz & Improvised Music, Dance and Art Work in the New York area. Folks come from around the planet to check out the sounds and sights and scents of this unique once a year experience at the Orensanz Center, a former old Synagogue on Norfolk Street in the Lower East Side. Every year I think that they will not be able to top the previous year and every year I leave satisfied with the state of creative music, art, dance and film presented over seven nights."

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

William Parker - Alphaville Suite (Rogue Art, 2007)

Like John Zorn, bassist and composer William Parker has been very interested in the films of Jean-Luc Goddard, particularly his 1965 dystopian science fiction classic Alphaville. Parker wrote this suite of music inspired by the images and themes of the film. His regular quartet of Lewis Barnes on trumpet, Rob Brown on alto saxophone and Hamid Drake on drums is joined by a string quartet and vocalist Leena Conquest. The strings are very well integrated into this music. Often in jazz and popular music, strings are added separately as a sweetener, but that not the case here where the stringed instruments are improvising with the traditional jazz instruments along with providing background. The string arrangements and improvisation remind me of Greg Osby's album Symbols of Light: A Solution. The leadoff track "Alphaville Main Theme" demonstrates all of this with the strings bobbing and weaving amongst the improving jazz quartet. Singer Leena Conquest, who has always reminded me of Sun Ra's singer and dancer June Tyson adds a strong vocal to two versions of "Natasha's Theme." Two very lengthy tracks dominate the remainder of the album, the aggressive "Doctor Badguy" with Barnes and Brown taking a leading roll, and the freewheeling "Civilizations of Light" which give several of the musicians a chance to solo at length. This album is another very fine example of William Parker's art, and is highly recommended to anyone interested in progressive jazz.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things: Live at Newport (Verve/Impulse, 2007)

This reissue captures live recordings of legendary tenor and soprano saxophonist John Coltrane in concert at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1963 and 1965. He is accompanied by McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and on the 1963 tracks, Roy Haynes on drums. On the 1965 selections, Coltrane's regular drummer Elvin Jones is present completing what is known as John Coltrane's "Classic Quartet." The first three tracks complete with introductions from Willis Conover imploring the crowd to "simmer down" are from the 1963 set, leading off with a version of "I Want to Talk About You" similar to the Live at Birdland performance, complete with a beautiful unaccompanied solo from Coltrane at the end. "My Favorite Things" was a staple of nearly every performance from this band, and it gets an extended seventeen minute plus workout here with ample solo space for McCoy Tyner. A long burning version of the Coltrane original "Impressions" follows with the leader sending wave upon wave of improvised saxophone to a delirious audience. It's fascinating to listen to Haynes here - he has a lighter and more fluid touch that is ideally suited to bebop, but he makes the transition well to the modal music and provides Coltrane with a much different foil then the thundering Jones. And thunder Elvin Jones does on the two final tracks on this disc, from the 1965 festival. After being introduced as a "newcomer" and a "Detroit boy" by a pretty clueless Father Norman O'Connor, the quartet bursts into a storming version of "One Down, One Up" with the music straining at the leash of any kind of formal structure. Jones and Coltrane are just on another level, with Tyner on the sidelines for the most part, and Garrison nearly lost in the mix. Finally, another version of "My Favorite Things" where McCoy Tyner is able to get a foothold in the melodic material as Coltrane's swirling soprano tries to head for the stars. The crowd practically demands more, but to no avail. There has been considerable discussion as to the redundancy of this disc, as the music was previously released on Newport '63 and New Thing at Newport. But speaking solely about the musical quality, which is excellent, this disc deserves careful consideration by Coltrane fans who do not already own the music in a previous form.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Avishai Cohen - As Is: Live at the Blue Note (Razdaz/Half Note, 2007)

This is the "other" Avishai Cohen, a bassist who first came to notoriety performing with Chick Corea and then gained acclaim as a bandleader and composer. His group recently received some rave reviews as they closed the Rochester Jazz Festival. He is joined on this recording by Sam Barsh on keyboards and melodica, Jimmy Greene on saxophone, Diego Urcola on trumpet and Mark Guiliana on drums. The music is split nearly equally between funky electric jazz workouts and more reflective acoustic meditations. The opening "Smash" has a wonderful throbbing bassline and pastel colors from from the electric piano along with an excellent saxophone solo. On the acoustic side, "Elli" and "Remembering" are more reflective ballads featuring acoustic piano and bass playing. "Etude" is another acoustic tune, but with the tempo ramped up with solid solos from saxophone and trumpet. The only non original ends the set, Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol's "Caravan" starts very promisingly, with the band settling into the middle eastern melody, but the performance drags on a little too long at fourteen plus minutes and loses some of its early energy. This is a good document of a modern working jazz band in a live setting. The musicians play at a high level and show a number of influences and ideas. There is also a DVD included in this package which I will report back on later.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

The Best of Van Morrison, Vol. 3 (EMI, 2007)

Van Morrison's musical career has always been difficult to pigeon-hole into a set style or format. Although he has had some hit singles, attempts to anthologize him into a "greatest hits" format often run into a "forest for the trees" problem of missing greater themes in his work. Over the past several years, there has been a certain amount of autumnal, maudlin feeling that has crept into Morrison's songwriting, and that is reflected in this anthology. This results in much of his recent music reflected in this collection falling back on a comfortable mid-tempo, with neither Morrison or the band pushing and reaching for more. There are a number of good songs here, but the problem is that the double disc format swamps the good songs in a sea of the mediocre. This collection gives examples of the different areas of music that are Morrison's art. A number of the songs featured here are duets, with the most successful being the blues duets with Junior Wells, Bobby "Blue" Bland and a wonderful version of "Early in the Morning" with B.B. King. These make up for the morose string burdened "Shenandoah" performed with The Chieftains. Some of the pop material is good also, "Back on Top" and "Raincheck" became staples of adult oriented radio, while the folky "Lost John" looks back to an older time with fondness. So sampled judiciously, there are gems to be enjoyed. But it's difficult to see who will be buying this collection. Die hard Morrison fans undoubtedly own the corresponding albums already, while the neophyte may find the sheer number of unfamiliar songs daunting. So it's a mixed bag, well reflecting the mixed nature of the music of Van Morrison over the past decade.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

I have a new podcast available - a mix of music that I have been enjoying over the past couple of weeks. Here's the playlist:

Mama Too Tight by Archie Shepp
O My Soul by Big Star
Slam Hammer by Duke Robillard
India by John Coltrane
Buffalo River Home by John Hiatt
Little Johnny C by Johnny Coles
Long Distance Call by Muddy Waters
Seven Dances Of Salome by Sonny Simmons
Help Me by Van Morrison
Hyperspace by NRG Ensemble

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Duke Robillard - World Full of Blues (Stony Plain, 2007)

Blues guitarist and singer Robillard has investigated many facets of the music over the course of his twenty plus year career. In his work with the band Roomful of Blues and his own solo work, he's covered blues, jazz, rockabilly and everything in-between. On this double disc set, Robillard writes that his "intention was to record a set of music that touched upon nearly all the areas of blues and blues related music that make up my sound." So, over the course of 23 tracks he hits a number of different things - successfully covering the rock influenced blues of Bob Dylan "Everything is Broken" and Tom Waits "Low Side of the Road" and jazz influenced blues of Wardell Grey's "Stoned." His guitar playing ability is very impressive throughout, regardless of what aspect of the blues he is exploring, his soloing is tasteful and well executed. The weak link of the package however, is Robillard's vocals. He is just not a very impressive or expressive singer and that really robs the energy from classics like Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City" and many of his own original songs that also tend to fall back into cliches in lyrical content as well. So overall it's a bit of a mixed bag. There's some good music here, but the self-indulgent nature of the two disc set takes away the power of the best music by mixing it in with some mediocre songs. Judicious editing down to a strong one disc set would have made for a very good LP, but in its present form it's a set to be sampled with caution.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Archie Shepp - The Impulse Story (Verve/Impulse, 2006)

Archie Shepp recorded for Impulse Records from the mid-60's to the early 70's after his friend and mentor John Coltrane helped him secure a recording contract. This disc samples several of the recordings he made during that period, and makes for an excellent overview of his early music, giveing examples of the different facets of music he recorded for Impulse. Free-ish jazz is prominent of course, as he was involved in the "New Thing" of the period, but that wasn't the only trick in his bag by a long shot. Shepp was also interested in groove and texture, and of all the quasi-free musicians of that period he may have been the one most interested in composition and the music's past, particularly the "tough tenors" like Don Byas and Ben Webster. He investigated many types of music including ballads like Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" samba on Jobim's "Girl From Impanema" jazz and spoken-word hybrids on "Scag" and "Malcolm, Malcolm - Semper Malcolm," and a heavy dose of R&B on many tracks, particularly the standout "Mama Too Tight." Shepp's sandpaper rough tenor saxophone is at the center of all of these recording, but there are significant contributions from the likes of Roswell Rudd and Grachan Moncur III on trombone. Liners are a solid snippet of Ashley Khan's book "The Impulse Story" and there are some nice photos. This disc does the best thing a sampler can - make you want to to dive deeper into the artist's music.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

I have worked through the rest of the second batch of reissues from the Keepnews Collection. The Jimmy Heath album Really Big was new to me, and it’s a consistently good disc of writing and playing from at ten piece band. It’s a very impressive band too, with Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Clark Terry and Tommy Flanagan among others. Heath’s writing and arranging are excellent and standout tracks include the master and alternate takes of “Wail” and the wonderful arrangement of Bobby Timmons’ “Dat Dere.” Also carrying the hard bop flame were Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, making a rare appearance on Riverside with the album Caravan. Drummer Blakey had some real heavyweights in this edition of his group: Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Cedar Walton on piano and Reggie Workman on bass. All of these men would go on to lead significant bands of their own. All of the music here is played at the height of professionalism, but nothing really stands out as a classic. This isn’t meant as criticism, far from it. With a Blakey band you knew you were going to get well played blues, bop and ballads and that’s exactly what you find here. I just mean that there’s nothing to make this stick out from the reams of other well played Blakey albums. That said, I think the cookers stand out by a hair over the ballads with the wailing two takes of “Thermo” as the highlights. Finally, vocalist Flora Purim’s Butterfly Dreams was an enjoyable fusion romp that reminded me of fusion albums by Miles Davis and Chick Corea’s Return to Forever (who Purim sang for.) Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone, George Duke on keyboards and Airto Moreira on drums and percussion keep the groove bubbling. Overall the second group of releases in this series work pretty well, Keepnews adds additional liner material and the sound quality is generally fine. I would love too see Concord plumb the depths of their considerable catalog for some of the lesser known albums on their next round of reissues.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Various Artists - Putumayo Presents Latin Jazz (Putumayo, 2007)

Latin rhythms have been present in jazz ever since Jelly Roll Morton spoke of the “Spanish Tinge.” Dizzy Gillespie really kick started the importation in the post war era by recording with Cuban musicians and a viable sub-genre was born. While it's impossible to review the whole breadth and width of Latin Jazz on one compact disc, Putumayo aims to give a taste of the music and let listeners take it from there. If nothing really stands out, at least the disc does accomplish its goal of introducing some of the major players. Tomas R. Einarsson's “Rumdrum” features a very cool guitar solo along with horns and percussion. There's a very nice piano introduction on on Tito Puente's “Cha Cha Cha” and a sweet flute interlude. Hilton Ruiz's “Steppin' with T.P.” has an interesting tropical feel with guitar, vibes and flute. “Cuando Se Acabara” by Manny Oquendo drags a little as the rhythms fall into a predictable “chunka-chunka” pattern, but is enlivened by an interesting electric guitar solo. Finally, Bryan Lynch and Eddie Palmieri's “Guajira Dubois” finishes the disc off well with an excellent performance. There are extensive liner notes (in three languages!) and this disc makes for a solid introduction.

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