Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron - Let's Call This​.​.​. Esteem (Slam Records, 1993)

This is a delightful live album from Oxford in the UK was recorded between longtime confederates Steve Lacy on soprano saxophone and Mal Waldron on piano. From the moment that they are introduced by British improv heavyweight Lol Coxhill, the two musicians are off and running on a program that includes originals, a healthy portion of Thelonious Monk compositions as well as works by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Lacy and Maldron made many albums together and this familiarity works in their favor, allowing them to dive deeply and fearlessly into the music, exploring the nuances of the Monk material and slowly unfurling the mystery of the Ellington and Strayhorn ballads. The music is very well recorded, affording the listener an opportunity to hear in detail each man's approach to their instrument and resulting improvisations. At nearly an hour and twenty minutes long it is a steal at little over four dollars online. Let's Call This​.​.​. Esteem - Bandcamp

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Wednesday, February 01, 2023

This Week in Music 2/1

Brian Blade Lifecycles Volumes I & II: Now! and Forevermore Honoring Bobby Hutcherson (Stoner Hill Records, 2023) 
For his tribute to the late and lamented vibraphonist and composer Bobby Hutcherson, drummer Brian Blade and his group Lifecycles took an interesting approach. Developing a double album, they revisit the entirety of Hutcherson's Now! LP in addition to a generous sampling of their own compositions. The original album was recorded in 1969 and was unique for Hutcherson and Blue Note adding a vocalist and chorus to the instrumental septet. Monte Croft does yeoman's work here, doubling on vibes and vocals, making the most of the Hutcherson material. It's a nod to the group that when they transition to original compositions, those new tracks fit hand in glove with the covers that came before it. This is the first release on Blade's new record label and it is one that is worth the attention of any modern mainstream jazz fan. Now!

Albert Ayler Quintet - Lost Performances 1966 Revisited (ezz-thetics, 2023)
The great avant-garde jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler is seeing some of his widest recognition lately with numerous re-issues of his material in addition to a recent boxed set and biography. Ayler's European tour in 1966 was very successful musically, and this album collects the shorter sets that were recorded in Munich, Rotterdam and Helsinki in addition to the full sets ezz-thetics preciously released. Like Thelonious Monk, Ayler had a fairly small number of themes that he would perform, but it what he and the group did with them was transcendent. "The Truth Is Marching In," one of his greatest themes gets two ecstatic 
readings here as does the shorter but equally explosive "Prophet." This and all of the ezz-thetics releases following Ayler's progress in 1966 are vital, for things were soon to change drastically. Lost

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