Monday, January 25, 2010

Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Simmer, Reduce, Garnish & Serve (1995)

This single CD has selections from Rahsaan Roland Kirk's final three albums. His work on his last record Boogie-Woogie String Along for Real was quite heroic and miraculous because he had suffered a major stroke that greatly limited his abilities; in fact Kirk had the use of only one of his hands so his playing was sadly restricted. There is a remarkable amount of variety plus a liberal dose of Kirk's humor on this retrospective, ranging from a "Bagpipe Medley" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" (complete with a whistler and Freddie Moore's washboard) to a warm "I'll Be Seeing You" and a tribute to Johnny Griffin, the main influence on Rahssan's tenor sound. For those listeners who do not already have the three LPs, this is a strong best-of sampler of the saxophonist's final period although his earlier recordings are recommended first. This CD concludes with an emotional and rather touching collage that pays tribute to Kirk's genius and mourns his premature death

01 Lunatic Danza
02 Theme for the Eulipions
03 Sweet Georgia Brown
04 I'll Be Seeing You
05 Los Angeles Negro Chorus
06 Serenade to a Cuckoo
07 Bagpipe Medley
08 J. Griff's Blues
09 Mary McLeod Bethune
10 I Loves You, Porgy
11 Hey Babebips
12 In a Mellow Tone
13Dorthaan's Walk
14Watergate Blues
15 Summertime
16 Thunder and Lighting Goodbye

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kenny Garrett - Beyond the Wall

Often considered the last great sideman of Miles Davis, Garrett emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a definitive voice of the alto saxophone. His 2006 release, Beyond the Wall, is inspired by Garrett's journey through China and has the feeling of an album that was a lifetime in the making. With East vs. West underpinnings and a pairing of old (Pharoah Sanders) against new (Garrett), the title track explores these contrasts, yet is still bound together by Coltrane-like spirituality and McCoy Tyner-like musicality. Garrett's intensity might overwhelm some, but his playing on this track exhibits his style at its most inspired level.

01. Calling
02. Beyond The Wall
03. Qing Wen
04. Realization (Marching Toward The Light)
05. Tsunami Song
06. Kiss to the Skies
07. NOW
08. Gwoka
09. May Peace Be Upon Them


Kenny Garrett (alto sax)
Pharoah Sanders (tenor sax)
Brian Blade (drums)
Robert Hurst (bass)
Mulgrew Miller (piano)

Recorded: New York, February 19-21, 2006

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Art Blakey's Jazz Messenger With Thelonious Monk (1958)

The best format to get this essential title is the 1999 Rhino Records CD reissue from their Atlantic Jazz Gallery series. Not only have the half-dozen sides from the original 1958 release been thoroughly remastered, but the amended and enhanced running order also contains a trio of otherwise unavailable alternate takes of Monk standards "Evidence," "Blue Monk," and "I Mean You." Otherwise, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk (1958) is a timeless meeting of the masters. Art Blakey (drums) and his Jazz Messengers — which concurrently include Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Bill Hardman (trumpet), and Spanky Debrest (bass) — face off with Monk during one of the pianist's most creative and fruitful eras. With such a voluminous back catalog of seminal bop compositions, it is fitting that a majority of the album's material stems from Monk. Each of the performances is given extra emphasis, with both co-leaders unleashing their own respective instrumental articulations behind the equally impressive and expressive Jazz Messengers. Right out of the gate, Hardman's solos during "Evidence" provide a powerful introduction into Monk's slightly off-center piano gymnastics. While they never go directly head to head, each musician is clearly inspired by the other's intensity, as they likewise fuel the freewheelin' and hypnotic rhythm of "In Walked Bud." Blakey's firm hold on the combo can be felt as he unleashes a percussive torrent to commence a woozy "Blue Monk." The lackadaisical melody saunters through some adeptly executed changes from Monk with the Jazz Messengers following an effortless and unyielding swing that slices through the heart of the score. One unquestionable highlight is the frisky "Rhythm-A-Ning," sporting the inimitable brass augmentations and co-leads of Griffin and Hardman. The quirky yet catchy chorus bounces from the dual-lead horn section with the entire arrangement tautly bound by the understated Debrest and Blakey. Griffin's "Purple Shades" is a smartly syncopated blues that is more of a musical platform for the Jazz Messengers than for Monk. That said, the pianist provides an opening solo that alternately shimmers and shudders. Again, Debrest as well as Griffin and Hardman demonstrate their own pronounced capabilities over Monk's otherwise occasional counterpoint...

1. "Evidence" (Thelonious Monk) - 6:46
2. "In Walked Bud" (Monk) - 6:39
3. "Blue Monk" (Monk) - 7:54
4. "I Mean You" (Monk & Coleman Hawkins) - 8:02
5. "Rhythm-A-Ning" (Monk) - 7:20
6. "Purple Shades" (Johnny Griffin) - 7:48
7. "Evidence" [alternate take] (Monk) - 5:30 Bonus track on 1999 CD reissue
8. "Blue Monk [alternate take] (Monk) - 6:59 Bonus track on 1999 CD reissue
9. "I Mean You" [alternate take] (Monk, Hawkins) - 7:34 Bonus track on 1999 CD reissue


* Art Blakey - drums
* Thelonious Monk - piano
* Johnny Griffin - tenor saxophone
* Bill Hardman - trumpet
* Spanky DeBrest - bass

The album was produced by Nesuhi Erteg√ľn and engineered by Earl Brown.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Alice Coltrane - Transfiguration

Alice Coltrane has lived in the shadow of both her husband and his classic quartet pianist, McCoy Tyner, but she put out some interesting, often religious-based work on Impulse and Warner Bros. in the '60s and '70s. Recorded live in 1978, Transfiguration turned out to be her final album. Here she set aside arrangements of religious chants and returned to the jazz trio format with the formidable combination of drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Reggie Workman. Coltrane's organ and piano work is filled with uniquely turbulent and swirling arpeggios that are the center of attention almost throughout. Originally a double LP, this 83-minute, double-disc effort includes six originals as well as a 36-minute cover of John Coltrane's late-period monster "Leo," which features fine solos from all three players. Issued on CD and remastered for the first time, Transfiguration should help modern audiences revise their opinion on Alice Coltrane's often-overlooked legacy as a jazz player of substance.

Disc: 1
1. Transfiguration
2. Spoken Introduction/One For The Father
3. Prema
4. Affinity

Disc: 2
1. Krishnaya
2. Leo, Part One
3. Leo, Part Two

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bobby Hutcherson & Harold Land - San Francisco

01 - Goin' down south (7:05) (Sample)
02 - Prints Tie (7:24) (Hutcherson)
03 - Jazz (5:18) (Sample)
04 - Ummh (7:42) (Hutcherson)
05 - Procession (5:40) (Hutcherson)
06 - A Night In Barcelona (7:20) (Land)

Bobby Hutcherson - Vibes, Marimba, Percussion
Harold Land - Tenor Sax, Flute, Oboe
Joe Sample - Acoustic & Electric Pianos
John Williams - Acoustic & Electric Basses
Mickey Roker - Drums

Produced by Duke Pearson at UA Studios LA
Recording Date: July 15 1970

Miles Davis - AGHARTA (Live, released in 1975)

1. Prelude (Part One) - 26:01
2. Prelude (Part Two) - 6:33
3. Maiysha - 11:21

Disc 2:

1. Interlude - 26:35
2. Theme from Jack Johnson - 25:16

total time 95:49

Line-up / Musicians

Miles Davis, trumpet, organ
Sonny Fortune, soprano sax, alto sax, flute
Michael Henderson, bass
Pete Cosey, guitar, synths, percussion
Al Foster, drums; Reggie Lucas, guitar
Mtume, conga, percussion, water drum, rhythm box

Executive Producer: Teo Macero.
Recorded live at Osaka Festival Hall, Japan, February 1, 1975.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Weather Report Live In Tokyo. 1972.

"Live In Tokyo" captures the Jazz-rock fusion band Weather Report in a stunning performance at Shibuya Hall in January 1972. The band line-up for the concert consisted of Joe Zawinul on pianos, Wayne Shorter on saxophone, Miroslav Vitous on bass, Eric Gravatt on drums and Dom Um Romao on percussion.
Segments from this album were released as half of the band's second album "I Sing The Body Electric". On this album however, it is a complete 90-minute performance consisting of five lengthy tracks (four of which are continuous suites containing different pieces).
The band was definitely on a musical high during this particular concert displaying a sound that is raw and full of fierce improvisation. Joe Zawinul's keyboard work is at its most experimental here as he modifies his electric piano with a distortion box, wah-wah pedal and a ring modulator. This sometimes gives the impression that there's a guitarist on-stage during the performance when in fact there is no guitar to be heard. His acoustic piano work is also experimental as he sometimes plays it from the inside striking its strings by hand instead of with the keyboard.
Miroslav Vitous's bass work is also at its best here, alternating between acoustic and electric. There are several moments during this album (especially in the opening medley) where Vitous grabs the spotlight with his unique style. His work with the bowed bass on "Orange Lady" is particularly strking and haunting.
Wayne Shorter's sax playing is at its most free form here. It's not exactly like Ornette Coleman or John Coltrane but it is highly improvisational and momentous. His work on the band's studio albums tends to be more refined and subdued but here, Wayne lets it rip and tear.
Drummer Eric Gravatt is a sadly underrated drummer but nonetheless does an outstanding job here. His extended drum solo is the first thing heard on this album. Throughout this performance, he pushes the rhythm with full force.
Percussionist Dom Um Romao also has some moments in the spotlight here. Besides spicing up Gravatt's rhythms with various percussive toys, Romao also has a solo moment in the album's second suite using whistles, a thumb piano and using his own body as an instrument. There is a similar moment in the intro to "Orange Lady".
Overall, the "Live In Tokyo" performance captures the early Weather Report at its very best. This music is extremely agressive and loud. The other live albums from the band ("8:30" and the recent "Live and Unreleased") are a lot mellower compared to this one. "Live In Tokyo" is definitely an essential title if you're a Weather Report fan. If you're new to the band's music, this may not be the place to start, however it certainly is not unlistenable.
This album has yet to be released in the U.S. even after its intial release in Japan over 30 years ago. Hopefully, that will all change in the near future. This is some great music and a great live performance from a great band. Definitely worth checking out

Record One:
1. Medley - Vertical Invader/Seventh Arrow/T.H./Doctor Honoris Causa
2. Medley - Surucucu/Lost/Early Minor/Direction

Record Two:
1. Orange Lady
2. Medley - Eurydice/The Moors
3. Medley - Tears/Umbrellas

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Keith Jarrett - Expectations (1972)

Keith Jarrett - Expectations (1972)

01 - Vision
02 - Common Mama
03 - The Magician in You
04 - Roussillion
05 - Expectations
06 - Take Me Back
07 - The Circular Letter (For J.K.)
08 - Nomads
09 - Sundance
10 - Bring Back the Time When (If)
11 - There Is a Road (God's River)

Keith Jarrett: Piano (01 - 06, 08 - 11)
String section (01)
Tambourine (02, 06, 08, 10)
Soprano saxophone (02, 04, 06, 07, 09, 10)
Organ (08)

Dewey Redman: Tenor saxophone (02, 04, 07, 09, 10), cowbell (02, 04)
Charlie Haden: Bass (02 - 11), string section (11)
Paul Motian: Drums (02 - 10), string section (05)
Airto Moreira: Percussion (02, 06 - 10), brass section (02, 08), congas (03)
Sam Brown: Guitar (03, 06, 07, 08, 09, 11)

All compositions by Keith Jarrett

Tracks 03, 06 & 08: Recorded on April 5, 1972 at Columbia Studio E
Tracks 01, 05, 10 & 11: Recorded on April 6, 1972 at Columbia Studio B, NYC
Track 02: Recorded on April 6, 1972 at Columbia Studio E, NYC
Tracks 04, 07 & 09: Recorded on April 27, 1972 at Columbia Studio E

Produced by George Avakian

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year and all that Jazz!

“Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold.”