Thursday, July 23, 2009

VA - The West Coast Jazz Box, an Anthology of California Jazz

Disc: 1
01. Move - aka Jazz on Sunset - Wardell Gray & Dexter Gordon
02. Intermission Riff - Sonny Criss
03. Bright Boy - Wardell Gray
04. Body and Soul - Charles Mingus
05. Popo - Shorty Rogers & His Giants
06. Swing Shift - Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars
07. Bernie's Tune - Gerry Mulligan Quartet
08. My Funny Valentine - Gerry Mulligan Quartet
09. Stardust - Dave Brubeck Quartet
10. Sunset Eyes - Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars
11. Isn't it Romantic? - Chet Baker Quartet
12. Maid in Mexico - Chet Baker Quartet
13. Crazy Ryhthm - Stan Getz Quintet
14. Etude de Concert - Shelly Manne & His Men
15. A Night in Tunisia - Miles Davis & The Lighthouse All-Stars

Disc: 2
01. Blue Baiao - Laurindo Almeida Quartet
02. Aquarium - Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars
03. Lotus Bud - Bud Shank Quintet
04. Herbstone - Herbie Harper Quintet
05. Fearless Finlay - Stan Kenton Orchestra
06. Daahound - Clifford Brown Ensemble
07. Mamblues - Cal Tjader
08. All the Things You Are - Hampton Hawes Trio
09. Whose Blues? - Lennie Niehaus Quintet
10. Blue Sands - Chico Hamilton Quintet
11. Keester Parade - Cy Touff Octet
12. Whippet - Frank Morgan with Machito's Rhythm Section
13. Get Me to the Church on Time - Shelley Manne & His Friends
14. Get Out of Town - Jack Sheldon Quartet
15. Trio Blues - Art Tatum Trio
16. St. Andrews Place Blues - Buddy Collette Quintet
17. 2 Degrees East, 3 Degrees West - Bill Perkins/John Lewis
18. One for My Baby (And One More For the Road) - Gerald Wiggins Trio

Disc: 3
01. Pickin' 'em Up and Layin' 'em Down - Jimmy Giuffre Trio
02. On Green Dolphin Street - The Poll Winners
03. Red Sails - Red Norvo
04. Way Out West - Sonny Rollins
05. A Walkin' Thing - Benny Carter
06. Rainy Night - Red Mitchell Quartet
07. Walkin' My Baby Back Home - Leroy Vinnegar Sextet
08. Dues Blues - Brew Moore Quintet
09. No Heat - Bill Holman Big Band
10. Love For Sale - Frank Rosolino
11. Katanga - Curtis Amy Sextet
12. Carl's Blues - Curtis Counce Group
13. Far East - Chico Hamilton Quintet
14. The Spinx - Ornette Coleman Quintet

Disc: 4
01. You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To - Art Pepper Quartet
02. Shaw Nuff - Art Pepper + Eleven
03. Minor Bertha - Elmo Hope Trio
04. The Fox - Harold Land Quintet
05. Indiana - Richie Kamuca/Bill Holman Octet
06. Bright Eyes - Terry Gibbs Dream Band
07. Viva Tirado - Gerald Wilson Orchestra
08. Something Blue - Paul Horn Quintet
09. Georgia on My Mind - Ben Webster
10. Theme: A Gem from Tiffany - Shelley Manne & His Men
11. Together Again - Howard McGhee/Teddy Edwards
12. Cheryl - Phineas Newborn, Jr.
13. Cast Your Fate to the Wind - Vince Guaraldi Trio
14. For Django - Joe Pass

Friday, July 17, 2009

Charlie Parker & Miles Davis

Blue Bird Legendary Savoy Sessions (2000)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation

Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation is an album by jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, recorded in 1960. The original release embodied a painting by Jackson Pollock, on the front of the cover. It involves two separate quartets, one to each stereo channel; the rhythm sections play simultaneously, and though there is a succession of solos as is usual in jazz, they are peppered with freeform commentaries by the other horns that often turn into full-scale collective improvisation. The pre-composed material is a series of brief, dissonant fanfares for the horns which serve as interludes between solos. Not least among the album's achievements was that it was the first LP-length improvisation, nearly forty minutes in length, which was unheard of at the time. It served as the blueprint for later large-ensemble free jazz recordings such as John Coltrane's Ascension and Peter Brötzmann's Machine Gun.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost

Albert Ayler was a mysterious figure. His recording career was relatively brief, beginning in 1962 and ending in 1970, with several of the entries live performances released many years after his passing. His demise itself was a bizarre circumstance.

Revenant Records, by all accounts the most ambitious and thorough of all box-set minded labels, has now released a nine+ CD set of Ayler whose mystery has rubbed off a little on the project. Its coming was announced by a series of all black ads with little on them but what has become the set's slogan: “'Trane was the Father...Pharoah was the son...I am the Holy Ghost.” The result? Most probably the highwater mark in the often underwhelming realm of box sets. It is as if Ayler's body had washed up on the banks of the East River dressed in a natty Armani suit.

The box itself, though black plastic, was recreated from a handcarved original. The outer obi strip doubles as track listing and is marked with the flowers that became the motif for the set (presumably from David Murray's album Flowers for Albert ).

Inside are nine discs of rare and unissued recordings made between 1962 and 1970. Also included are a picture of Ayler with saxophone from his youth; a photostat of a handwritten note from a Copenhagen hotel; a reprinted copy of a Slugs flyer which includes a listing for a week of Ayler's quintet; a reprinted 1965 pamphlet by the late poet Paul Haines entitled Ayler-Peacock-Murray-You and the Night and the Music; a reprinted newsletter from 1969 by Jihad Productions with excerpts about Ayler; a bonus CD of two army band rehearsals from 1960 (in a mini-sleeve that recreates the original reel box); a dried flower from the box motif; and most impressively, a 208-page full-color hardcover book that acts simultaneously as a CD guide, history book, encyclopedia of the era and yearbook. How much would you pay for something like this, not including the Ginsu knife set sure to be offered? Vendors have the price hovering above or below $100, cementing the set as the most affordable and you-get-way-more-than-you-pay-for in history.

For those who question whether Ayler deserves such an ostentatious release when so many other musicians never get this treatment, the answer is twofold. Though the tenor saxophonist always gets his own chapter in any discussion of the avant garde jazz of the '60s, he is still relatively unknown to most jazz listeners, due mainly to his recorded work up until now being exclusively as a leader. Most listeners get exposed to a musician first from his sideman work; the lack of such material obscures him. The second answer is that the jazz lover who doesn't know Ayler specifically probably knows someone who was influenced by him, either through his deft interpolations of spirituals and marching band styles or his indefatigable, umistakable tone. Though there are many more Miles box sets and they undoubtedly sell better, Ayler is a figure who had such an impact; a box set, even of this magnitude, was inevitable.

It is easy to be bowled over by the impressiveness of the box and forget that there are nine CDs to go through, seven with music recorded either with Ayler as a sideman or as a leader in locales like Helsinki, New York, Copenhagen, Cleveland, Berlin, Rotterdam, Newport and the French countryside. The final two discs contain four interviews with Ayler (from 1964, 1966 and two from 1970) and one with trumpeter Don Cherry less than a year after Ayler's death.

The music runs the gamut of Ayler's various involvements. It begins with three straight ahead interpretations of standards by Ayler with pianist Herbert Katz' Quintet (Helsinki 1962). A 20+ minute blast of the Cecil Taylor Quartet (also 1962) follows featuring the two-horn attack of Ayler and altoist Jimmy Lyons “supported” by Sunny Murray's drums. An Ayler trio (with bassist Gary Peacock and Murray) from the Cellar Caf? finishes disc one and starts disc two with Spirits and Prophecy material.

The addition of Don Cherry on trumpet for a long 1964 set from Denmark continues disc two. The last piece is a short untitled improvisation from Slugs' in 1966 by Burton Greene's quintet (with drummer Rashied Ali, bassist Steve Tintweiss and the second tenor of Frank Smith, another mysterious saxophonist.)

Discs three and four are Ayler's quintet in two shows from April 1966 in Cleveland. Joining Ayler were his brother Donald on trumpet, violinist Michel Samson, bassist Clyde Shy and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson. The three sets are a mix of earlier and later material, including songs that would be released later when Ayler switched from ESP to Impulse! Records. The second evening adds the tenor of the Rev. Frank Wright, Ayler's ESP colleague and stylistic foil, for a rare collaboration.

Disc five is two quintet sets, five days apart in November 1966 from Berlin and Rotterdam. Donald Ayler and Michel Samson are holdovers from discs three and four but the new rhythm section is bassist Bill Folwell and drummer Beaver Harris.

Disc six and seven are a m?lange from 1967-70, including the infamous performance at Coltrane's funeral, segments with Ayler as part of Pharoah Sander's Ensemble (1968) and his brother's (1969) and the impromptu performance at a French resort after the famed Maeght Fondation performances.

If all this sounds imposing, it is. But the book is an exhaustive reference, containing not only detailed notes on the performances but biographies of the players, interviews, remarks from Ayler's peers, essays, a “Sightings” list that fills out his sparse discography, numerous pictures and reproductions, all that give much needed and deserved illumination to this monolithic and iconoclastic figure.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blue Mitchell - Bantu Village

One of the funkiest albums ever on Blue Note -- a set that mixes the trumpet talents of Blue Mitchell with some killer backings from Monk Higgins -- all in a groove that more gritty edges than the best funky soundtracks of the time! Higgins keeps the backings full, but always quite lean -- fusing all elements together into a sharp, tight rhythm that steps along with some of the slight African touches you might guess from the title -- a groove that's not really that authentic, but which resonates with some of the best inspirations that Hugh Masekela was bringing to American music at the time. And while the album might be an attempt to cash in on Masekela's groove, the feel here is really quite different overall -- as tracks are nicely stretched out, with plenty of room for jazzy solo work -- and a groove that's much harder overall, thanks to Higgins! Other players include Freddy Robinson on guitar, Wilton Felder on bass, Paul Humphrey on drums, and Plas Johnson on tenor -- and titles include "HNIC", "Flat Backing", "Na Ta Ka", "Bantu Village", and "Blue Dashiki". © 1996-2009, Dusty Groove America, Inc.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Sun Ra Arkestra meets Salah Ragab in Egypt

The real gems of this prized reissue from Leo Records's Golden Years vault imprint are two previously unreleased tracks. The first features Sun Ra and his Arkestra on an 18-minute "Watusa" from 1984, and the second features a 13-minute piece by Saleh Ragab's Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble, "Music for Angela Davis," from 1971. It's no surprise Sun Ra loved going to Egypt, what with all the astro-mythology he used in the Arkestra. This love shows brightly on "Egypt Strut" and "Dawn," two Ragab tunes played by Ra's band with the Egyptian percussionist sitting in. The early 1980s were a creatively thriving time for Sun Ra, and the band sounds tight, with a weave of percussion backing their every move. "Watusa" sounds like a bootleg, thin in audio but thrilling in execution. It's an unvarnished beauty. As for "Music for Angela Davis," it departs from the other Ragab pieces (there are three others on the CD) in that it's furiously triggered, full of heavy percussion, voices rambling over the top in spots, and tearing horns. For Sun Ra fans, this is a must. --Andrew Bartlett

Friday, July 10, 2009


Gabor Szabo
Jazz Workshop, Boston: April 14-15, 1967

Gabor Szabo, Jimmy Stewart (g); Lajos "Louis" Kabok (b); Marty Morell (d); Hal Gordon (per).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Don Cherry - Complete Communion

Blue Note arrived late on the '60s avant-garde scene, only recording figures like Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, and Cecil Taylor after they had disappeared from the rosters of other major American jazz labels. Complete Communion, from 1964, was Don Cherry's first session as a leader after brilliant sideman contributions with Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins, and it's one of the landmark records of the era. The music consists of two long suites of interlocking Cherry compositions, and they're played with telepathic precision and explosive energy by a great quartet of Gato Barbieri on tenor saxophone, bassist Henry Grimes, and Cherry's long-term collaborator Ed Blackwell on drums. Cherry is in superb form, throwing off high notes like bright spears and twisting lines that suddenly rebound into the ensembles. For those who only know Barbieri's work from his later, more commercially inclined Brazilian-flavored work, his playing here will be a revelation. He combines an original sound, booting energy, and a startling melodic fluency that leaps freely over his horn's range. This is an essential document of jazz in the '60s. --Stuart Broomer

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The House That Trane Built: Best of Impulse Records

1. Stolen Moments - Oliver Nelson
2. Alamode - Art Blakey
3. Theme For Lester Young - Charles Mingus
4. Love Supreme: Part 1 - Acknowledgement, A - John Coltrane
5. Los Olvidados - Archie Shepp
6. Our Prayer - Albert Ayler
7. Black & Tan Fantasy - Earl Hines
8. Journey in Satchidananda - Alice Coltrane
9. Hard Work - John Handy

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Miles Davis & Gil Evans

1957-1968 Complete Columbia Studio Recordings

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Eric Dolphy Quintet feat. Herbie Hancock

This rare session marks the sole recording of the collaboration between
two of the most innovative composers and musicians in jazz. A valuable
release of great historical importance.

Friday, July 3, 2009


When you hear music, after it's over, it's gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.
Eric Dolphy