The Jazz Digest, April 2012




Choice snips from Jazz Journal, April 2012

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OFC JJ April 2012From the editor
This month we introduce One Finger Snaps - a roundup and rating with tweet-style comments on the dozens of CDs we never have room to cover in full, not because they're no good but perhaps because they're too obscure (or too well known in the case of some reissues) to whet reviewers' appetites. We also introduce the first Jazz Journal T-shirt since the 1980s. It’s not easy to wear an association with 64 years of jazz expertise lightly, but the cool black and white lines of the JJ T-shirt will help you to broadcast your hipness in style. It's here along with other essential Jazz Journal merchandise, including annual binders, indexes and backcopies.

ACT's Siggi Loch observes below in the relation to the download: "I think jazz fans still like the physical object, something they can take home and make part of their lives." As online jazz media proliferate, our readers tell us the same applies to the print edition of Jazz Journal. They like to sit, relax and apply characterful coffee stains to their JJ for the fully authentic experience. Why not join them?

Art Themen to Simon Spillett
To preserve the precious vertebrae, Themen has joined the ranks of Bobby Wellins and Tommy Whittle as a harness-wearing veteran. “I gather Skid’s got one now,” he says. “I think it’s a 38d.”

Singer and B3 man Anthony Strong to Derek Ansell
He is not at all put out to be mentioned in the same breath as Jamie Cullum, Michael Bublé and Harry Connick Jnr: “I feel incredibly flattered. They are all massively talented. Bublé, what a voice! Jamie Cullum, what a musician and Harry Connick, wow! Actually I’m a great fan of Connick; he would be the one I most admire.”

Pianist Enrico Pieranunzi to Brian Morton
“When four, five years ago, I decided to play Scarlatti’s sonatas and improvise on them I was very careful. I was aware of running a risk, in terms of taste especially. I tried to find a satisfying way to keep the integrity of Scarlatti’s musical language (or Bach’s, or Handel’s) and at the same time to build musical forms of my own that had to be coherent and musically meaningful. Well, I think I found a way.”

Ex-Leeds college reedman Jonny Boston to John Robert Brown
He was spotted while busking by Phil Mason, who was looking for a clarinettist. The audition led to two years around Europe with the Max Collie Rhythm Aces: “Obviously they were trying to get me to play like Johnny Dodds. There was no saxophone allowed. They went right back to really early jazz.” Did he mind? “No, I’m grateful for it now. It helped my playing. People seem to think I’ve got an original sound. I think that may have something to do with it. I didn’t go straight in with Charlie Parker.”

Steve Voce, still clinging to the wreckage
I am still trying to come to terms with Jack Sheldon’s revelation to me that Hitler was still alive and playing in the Falkland Islands with Glenn Miller. “Last night I had the greatest sexual experience of my life,” Jack told me. “I just wish that someone else could have been there to share it with me.”

ACT's Siggi Loch to Brian Morton on online ephemera
When ACT was founded at the beginning of the 90s, record sales were at an all time high. By the latter part of the next decade, they had slumped. But again, the diagnosis isn’t terminal. “Yeah, download is very popular with the young people and a very powerful thing, but I think jazz fans still like the physical object, something they can take home and make part of their lives.”

Richard Palmer on the father of jazz piano
Earl Hines’s nickname was “Fatha”, but there can be little doubt that the real father of jazz piano was James P. Johnson, who fits royally into three of the four “sets” I proposed in my introductory essay (JJ, March 2012). Classically trained, he was the first piano virtuoso in jazz; he was a superb group pianist in all kinds of settings; and his symphonic aspirations were every bit the equal of Joplin’s, and rather more happily realised.

Brian Morton on Red Holloway
He was asked if, like others from Hell Town, he was a kind of country musician. “I’ll play in the country, man. There are more jobs in town, but I’ll play in the country, too. I’ll play on ocean liners. Hell, if you have a ship going to the moon, I’ll play on that as well!”

Mark Gardner on Jodie Christian, archetypal Chicago jazz piano polymath
Many of these pianists – and especially Christian, Simmons and Mance – were outstanding blues players. For not only were they well versed in the language of bebop, but frequently filled accompanying roles for the urban blues stars who co-existed in Chicago. Hence Christian might be found providing rolling fills for Muddy Waters or harmonically sophisticated lines behind Johnny Griffin or Gene Ammons.

Ed Blunt on Clare Fischer
Fischer possessed a remarkable talent for infusing his own immediately recognisable musical voice into any given genre, and his compelling orchestrations and arrangements for artists such as Prince, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney are testament to his boundless musicianship. Fischer’s reputation among, and influence on, other musicians is significant. Herbie Hancock cites him as “a major influence” on his harmonic concept.

Mike Taylor on UK trombone stalwart now novelist John Picard
JP was two years below Michael Garrick at Enfield Grammar School and also a contemporary of Terry Lightfoot there. Hearing jazz on the radio and on records owned by his peers, he began playing piano in various groups. Trombone came later, after he had bought an old military “peashooter” for £10, thinking he could do better than the incumbent in one of the groups he was in at the time. Within six weeks, he was playing it in the band.

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Just a taste from over 100 CD reviews in this issue:

BEATS & PIECES: BIG IDEAS (EFPI)
". . . has cleverly nudged itself into an original niche in the big band canon." (Anthony Troon) ****

CHICK COREA WITH EDDIE GOMEZ & PAUL MOTIAN: FURTHER EXPLORATIONS (Concord)
"Corea’s stellar trio understand Evans’s enduring legacy better than most, and you’ll find lots to enjoy on this top-drawer set." (Fred Grand) ***

EDDIE “LOCKJAW” DAVIS & JOHNNY GRIFFIN: GRIFF AND LOCK (Fresh Sound)
"I’ve lived with these cuts for a long time. Every time they engage foot and brain to the utmost. This is a five-star record just as much as are the more renowned classics by Coltrane or Getz." (Richard Palmer) *****

BILL EVANS: EXPLORATIONS (Essential Jazz Classics)
"I don’t think it is any exaggeration to say that the approach so beautifully realised on Bill Evans’s seminal Explorations is now the lingua franca of the modern jazz piano trio." (Fred Grand) *****

VICTOR FELDMAN: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS (Avid)
"Avid – driven and enabled by the quiet, gentle genius that is Dave Bennett – is an operation that nourishes jazz fans old, middle-aged and young. They continue to pour out their treasures at a rate that’s hard to keep up with, and of course their price is almost insanely generous. This set strikes me as one of their most valuable." (Richard Palmer) *****

YURIY GALKIN NONET: NINE OF A KIND (F-IRE)
I’m guessing, and hoping, we will soon see Galkin working on an even bigger canvas. It feels like he’s just flexing his muscles with this. (Garry Booth) ****

AHMAD JAMAL: BLUE MOON (Jazz Village)
"Jamal has rejected the nomenclature of jazz and prefers to characterise his work as on the spectrum of Great American Music. These things shouldn’t trouble us. Great American music it surely is, but great jazz, too." (Brian Morton) ****

BRAD MEHLDAU TRIO: ODE (Nonesuch)
"No one track stands out – although the heart-warming Dilbert Delaney takes some beating – for this is trio playing of near perfection." (Simon Adams) ****

ANDRÉ NENDZA: ROOMS RESTORED (JazzSick)
"Supremely intelligent modern jazz from a leader/composer who seems confidently versed in the recent literature but doesn’t just trot out a series of shibboleths . . . Very, very impressive. (Brian Morton) ****

GREGORY PORTER: BE GOOD (Motéma)
"Some have heard echoes of Nat King Cole in his delivery, but Porter has more of a modern soul voice, a Donny Hathaway or a Maxwell or a D’Angelo. He oozes sincerity, but then writes lyrics that demand exactly that approach." (Simon Adams) ****

ESPERANZA SPALDING: RADIO MUSIC SOCIETY (Decca)
Efficient 70s-style soul-jazz from fêted bassist and singer including solo spots for Joe Lovano et al (Mark Gilbert) **

JC STYLLES: EXHILARATION AND OTHER STATES (Motéma)
Stunning bebop guitar from Australian Stylles’s solid-gold trio with Pat Bianchi (B3); Lawrence Leathers (d). NJ, 2009. (Mark Gilbert) *****

ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO: 301 (ACT)
"Utterly absorbing from beginning to end, and despite probably being the last “official” E.S.T. project, 301 will surely stand the test of time as one of the best." (Fred Grand) ****

MICHAEL TRENI: BOY’S NIGHT OUT (bellproductionco.com)
Trombonist leads first-class 16-piece NJ band in smartly played swinging set of standards and originals with Jerry Bergonzi. Outstanding. (Mark Gilbert) *****

VARIOUS: THE BIG BLAST - 100 CLASSIC BIG BANDS (Proper)
"This is a lovely way to spend an evening – or two or three. The admirable Joop Visser has managed to choose his hundred tracks without anything except the inevitable South Rampart Street and Moonlight Serenade being hackneyed." (Steve Voce) ****


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