The Jazz Digest, September 2012

Choice snips from Jazz Journal, September 2012



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From the editor
JJ OFC 0912Chrissie Murray writes with news of impresario, author and former Ronnie Scott's mag (bring it back!) editor Jim Godbolt: "I am so pleased to see that JJ continues to go from strength to strength. I'd just mention that our old friend, and my old associate, Jim Godbolt hits his 90th birthday on 5 October this year. I hadn’t seen His Nibs for several years, but I was moved to visit him recently, when he was in hospital for a spell. I'm sure you’ll agree that Jim reaching this great milestone is quite an achievement. He's the last of a very rare breed and still has so many good stories to tell (even if we have heard them all before). He is back at his flat now, although I can't imagine how he's managing all those stairs!" Our best wishes to Jim.

Tim Motion on the 21st century Nice festival
"We can never go back to the heady days and nights of the 80s – lunch with Hampton, jamming with Al Grey, Frank Foster and the Basie Band, Wynton, George Benson until 5am, but there is enough talent out there still to please the jazz fiends. After hours there is a lively club with live jazz, called the B Spot. I wonder if they found the other one? Bonne nuit."

Quincy Jones talking to Michael Tucker at the Ystad festival
"Speaking about the state of popular music today, Quincy expressed his fears that too many young people are developing what he called Attention Deficit Syndrome. He also expressed his disgust that America remained a country without a minister of culture to promote the music – jazz – that so many people around the world loved so much."

Simon Adams a reluctant disappointee at Wayne Shorter's gig in Rotterdam
"Finally, Wayne Shorter’s quartet, now with Mehldau's ex-drummer Jorge Rossy on board. I was disappointed, for this was a noisy, cluttered set that lacked the moments of sheer transcendent beauty I expect from Shorter and was unlovely to listen to. I never thought I would ever say anything negative about Wayne Shorter."

Michael Tucker reviewing the book Brighton And All That Jazz
"This is a reader-friendly, traditional/modern mainstream-oriented overview of the jazz scene in Brighton and neighbouring towns like Lewes and Bexhill. The chief thrust is visual, Martin Wertheim-Gould employing a relaxed yet penetrating mix of lively line and richly keyed painterly wash (think of Dufy and David Stone Martin) to offer atmospheric impressions of local and international musicians, busking and pub gigs, jazz clubs and concerts."

Simon Adams remembers the Jazz Book Club, 1956-67
"One famous title was offered in 1960: The Jazz Scene promised a unique investigation into the contemporary jazz scene. Its author was the jazz critic of the New Statesman, Francis Newton, better known today of course as the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm."

Fred Grand senses that Marius Neset may face Luddite snobbery
"It must be acknowledged that Neset polarises audiences. Not everybody was so enthusiastic, with some appearing visibly shaken and complaining that this highly technical music had left them cold. Even after his untimely death, Michael Brecker is not universally loved, and Neset may face similar disdain so long as he remains ahead of the curve."

Wally Fawkes, in conversation with Steve Voce, recalls the trad-modern divide of the late 50s
"The band was in a pub after a gig when a young fan burst with enthusiasm upon Johnny Parker. 'Johnny, your piano playing tonight was exactly like Jelly Roll Morton's!' A bleary-eyed Keith Christie, sitting nearby and about to leave the band for the world of modern jazz, looked the lad over. 'Don't rub it in,' he said."

Gordon Jack says that had he lived, Bob Gordon would have become the primary voice on the baritone saxophone
"Bob Gordon's decision to concentrate on the larger horn was celebrated by his long-time colleague and friend Jack Montrose – 'The union of Bob and the baritone saxophone must have been decreed in heaven. I cannot imagine him using any other instrument as a vehicle for expressing himself. I have never seen such rapport between the natural tendencies of a musical instrument and the mind of the man using it.'"

Brian Morton remembers the late tenor saxophonist Von Freeman
"While his son Chico took the big saxophone out into free and fusion settings, Von remained a swinger. The two appeared together on a fathers-and-sons project inspired by the parallel rise of the Marsalis dynasty and it was clear from that that while Chico hadn't after all fallen very far from the tree, Von remained alert and open to new developments, but in his own idiosyncratic way."

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Just a taste from over 70 CD reviews in this issue:

NAT ADDERLEY: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS PLUS (Avid)
"Recommended for fans of straight ahead jazz, this set provides a great summary of the early work of the Adderley brothers" (Sam Braysher) ****

LOUIS ARMSTRONG: COMPLETE HOT FIVE AND HOT SEVEN (Essential Jazz Classics)
"These are some of the first great classics of jazz, indispensable to anybody seriously interested in the music and it is good to have them all collected together in one box set of four CDs." (Derek Ansell) ****

BILL BARRON: QUINTET AND SEXTET (Fresh Sound)
"Less well known than his brother Kenny, Bill Barron was an adventurous and original tenor man in the 1950s and 60s who continued to make recordings and tour until his death in the late 1980s. This double CD collects all of the material from his three leader LPs for Savoy including two tracks never previously released." (Derek Ansell) ****

RAY CHARLES: COMPLETE ATLANTIC RECORDINGS 1952-59 (Atlantic R2 74731)
"Charles's music is an indispensible parallel to the jazz of its time and he was as gifted in the blues as he was at ballads. Having it all together on seven CDs like this makes one realize just how huge and without flaw his output was. Atlantic have always been good at the blues and jazz, and their current series of boxes is most attractive." (Steve Voce) ****

DUKE ELLINGTON: THE TREASURY SHOWS VOLUME 16/MY PEOPLE (Storyville)
"The awarding of five stars to these releases doesn't mean they include the best of Ellington but signifies a tribute to the dedication and commitment of Storyville who continue, almost 40 years after his death, to add to the wealth of Ellington's legacy publicly available." (Graham Colombé) *****

FLY: YEAR OF THE SNAKE (ECM)
"Mark Turner is particularly impressive in the higher register of the tenor sax, producing clarity of sound rather like that of Paul Desmond on alto. It's a tone perfectly suited to the probing, exploratory nature of many of the themes performed here . . . but it's hard to see where Fly can take this next time around." (John Adcock) ***

DANIEL HERSKEDAL & MARIUS NESET: NECK OF THE WOODS (Edition)
"The bold contemporary hues of Neset's breakthrough album Golden Xplosion drew almost universal acclaim, marking the saxophonist's card as one of the decade's key emerging voices. Although every bit as satisfying as that extraordinarily creative fulmination, Neck Of The Woods could hardly be more different and may come as a surprise to some listeners." (Fred Grand) ****

HENDRIK MEURKENS/GABRIEL ESPINOSA: CELEBRANDO (Zoho)

"In a blindfold test most people familiar with the sound of Toots Thielemans would surely think he's the one who's playing the harmonica here. Meurkens switched from vibes to harmonica after hearing Toots and is now a comparable virtuoso on that instrument." (Graham Colombé) ****

SOPHIE MILMAN:
IN THE MOONLIGHT (Entertainment One)
"You'd be forgiven for expecting bubblegum pop from the rather sparkly cover, but this in fact belies the singer's surprisingly warm and full tone. Nonetheless, it would be stretching an already stretched definition to call it jazz; 'lite jazz' would perhaps be more fitting. Tracks such as Moonlight in particular are more in the pop vein." (Sally Evans-Darby) ****

MEL POWELL: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS PLUS (Avid)
"Blue-chip mainstream from the early 50s, plus four tracks from 1947. Mel Powell was one of the best swing pianists, impeccable, elegant and never struck a wrong note. I was thrilled to see him at the Stage Door Canteen in 1944 but he 'left' jazz in the 50s for three decades during which his love for classical music seriously took over." (Alan Luff) ****

DANIEL SMITH: BLUE BASSOON (Summit)

"The elephant in the room here is whether the bassoon is 'really' a jazz instrument. Committed as I am to the notion that jazz is a verb and not a noun, and therefore playable on anything from an ocarina to a church organ, the real question is: how good is Daniel Smith? In short, he's a formidable technician, swings as hard as eight-and-a-third feet of wooden tubing allows, and consistently tests himself with challenging bop and modernist repertoire." (Brian Morton) ***

RYAN TRUESDELL: CENTENNIAL (artistShare)
"If today's solo players are usually not as good as they were in our day, then contemporary researchers and academics are vastly better! People like Truesdell and, for example, Randy Sandke, deserve all our admiration. This is a unique, tasteful and entirely successful re-creation of Gil's works and I can describe them here with the words Truesdell uses for Gil – bold, with feather-light execution." (Steve Voce) ****

WEATHER REPORT: THE COLUMBIA ALBUMS 1971-75 (Columbia Legacy)
"Seven CDs is a lot. The first few sound wonderful, as remembered, but as they go on the others become clogged with extra electronic ironmongery and harpy voices and things dwindle down a little. It all becomes a bit wearing. That sounds to be a generalisation, and in truth I don't mean to insult Zawinul and Shorter, for both of whom I have the greatest respect." (Steve Voce) ***

CASSANDRA WILSON: ANOTHER COUNTRY (Membran)
"Another Country might lack some of the heart-stopping moments of Wilson's previous sets – and it was not wise to include one, let alone two, versions of the clichéd O Sole Mio – but still, this is a charming, back-to-basics set with its heart in the right place." (Simon Adams) ***


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