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RECORD REVIEWS

Jazz Journal offers unrivalled coverage of recorded jazz old and new. We carry more than 20,000 words of expert comment and discography on recent jazz issues in every issue. Here's what we reviewed in the February 2013 issue:

New issues: Greg Abate, Animation, Dave Betts, Han Bennink, Frederick Borey, Cloudmakers Trio, Alexis Cole, Dagda Quartet, Joey DeFrancesco, Ernest Dawkins, Kevin Eubanks, Bryan Ferry, Diego Figueiredo, Mick Foster, Ivar Grydeland, Mayo Hubert, Ethan Iverson/Ben Street/Albert "Tootie" Heath, Barb Jungr, Guillermo Klein/Los Guachos, Lovely Rita, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Meloni/Dunmall/Dessanay/Sanders, Maceo Parker, Courtney Pine, Joe Pisto, Solveig Slettahjell, Tribal Tech, Håkon Thelin, Giulia Valle     

Reissued or unissued archive material: Art Blakey, Lol Coxhill/Morgan Fisher, Miles Davis, Vic Dickenson, Ella Fitzgerald, The "J.F.K." Quintet, Willis Jackson, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Inez Jones/Oscar Moore, Lee Konitz, Gene Krupa, MJQ, Dick Morgan, Oliver Nelson, Oliver Nelson/Lem Winchester, Marty Paich, Flip Phillips, John Pisano & Billy Bean, Shakatak, Ricardo Silveira, Various: Joy Road (Pepper Adams tribute), Sarah Vaughan, Frank Wess/Thad Jones, Kenny Wheeler/John Dankworth, Richard Williams/Leo Wright, John Young

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Excerpts from over 50 CD reviews in the February 2013 issue of Jazz Journal:

ANIMATION: TRANSPARENT HEART (Rare Noise)
"Belden doesn’t much rate Kind Of Blue, for many (including me) Davis's masterpiece: apparently he finds it 'boring' and 'kind of flat'. Such nonsense can be overlooked, as long as he continues to produce such arresting perspectives on the interplay of past and present in music, and the political/poetic tensions of life, as are evident in this generously conceived – and recommended – release." (Michael Tucker) ****

ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS: COMPLETE CONCERT AT CLUB ST. GERMAIN (Master Jazz)
"This double CD usefully reissues what was once a three-LP set made for the French arm of RCA-Victor and it's heady stuff. Blakey's new team of Messengers had recently made their only studio album for Blue Note, but live in a club setting they upped the ante and dug that little bit deeper into the roots of the hard bop idiom." (Simon Spillett) *****

MILES DAVIS: ORIGINAL ALBUM SERIES (Warner)
"Hardly anyone speaks up for Doo-bop. Kudos to Mark Gilbert, who found some of Miles's fiercest latter-day playing on that album's High Speed Chase and Blow. I listen to it seldom, but with steadily increasing pleasure and a growing sense that the out-takes will be more revelatory than for any of Miles's later albums. The years have buffed away some of its infelicities, but the truth is that while the album fails as hip-hop – the average gangbanger would consider it as camp as pink knickers – it succeeds surprisingly well as jazz, or post-jazz." (Brian Morton) ****

THE BRYAN FERRY ORCHESTRA: THE JAZZ AGE (BMG)
"Bryan Ferry has had his songs recast in a jazz idiom reminiscent of the 1920s and early 30s, and recorded by a band containing some very good British jazz musicians . . . I really loved this album – for its arrangements, the extraordinary skill of the musicians and the hundred per cent commitment that clearly went into it. And good on Bryan Ferry for spending what it took to create such a classy piece of work. I only wish Humph were still with us – he'd have adored it." (Dave Gelly) *****

ETHAN IVERSON/BEN STREET/ALBERT 'TOOTIE' HEATH: LIVE AT SMALLS (smallsLive) ****
"Iverson is one of the deepest thinkers about jazz – check out his blog dothemath.typepad.com, which is full of stimulating opinions and striking insights – and I’d describe him as a postmodernist...On this album, Iverson shows that he's not just the punk maverick of The Bad Plus, but a player with great insight into the music’s history." (Andy Hamilton) ****

THE "J.F.K." QUINTET: NEW JAZZ FRONTIERS FROM WASHINGTON/YOUNG IDEAS (Fresh Sound)
"Kennedy wasn't yet in the White House when the two albums were made, but he'd made his 'New Frontier' speech at the Democratic convention, so it seems these young men from Washington, D.C. were hitching their wagon to a rising star and to a rising appetite for change. An intriguing document and another great Jordi Pujol rediscovery that replaces my sadly unplayable vinyl." (Brian Morton) ****

BARB JUNGR: STOCKPORT TO MEMPHIS (Naim)
"Whilst I was never too sure of the jazz credentials of Ms Jungr's previous albums I have always found them very enjoyable, particularly her interpretations of Bob Dylan's songs. However, this album seems to move her further from the field of jazz and into straight pop music and in general the songs, particularly the compositions by her and Simon Wallace, are not of the same standard as those songs given her rather idiosyncratic treatment previously." (Jerry Brown) *

RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA: GAMAK (Fresh Sound)
"I'd be kidding if I described Gamak as an easy listen, but the almost constant push-pull tensions between musical elements borrowed from Eastern and Western traditions is as intriguing as it is absorbing. The essential integrity of Mahanthappa’s approach is tested to its limits, but he triumphantly emerges through the flames with renewed steel." (Fred Grand) ****

MODERN JAZZ QUARTET: ORIGINAL ALBUM SERIES (Warner)
"I was never one of the many people who from the start disliked the MJQ. It did become to seem a bit bland in its middle period, but the jazz answer is that one is a fan of John Lewis and Milt Jackson, two of the finest soloists produced by bebop . . . You know whether you like the MJQ or not. If you do then this is a wonderful collection for you. I would regard it as of major importance in the year’s issues." (Steve Voce) ****

OLIVER NELSON/LEM WINCHESTER TAKIN' CARE OF BUSINESS/LEM'S BEAT (Fresh Sound)
"The Oliver Nelson Takin' Care of Business album is simply one of the best albums in his discography, showcasing as it does his prowess on both alto and tenor saxophones, a sadly neglected aspect of his far too short career . . . If you don't tap your feet to this one, then the blood has simply stopped coursing through your veins . . . In essence these are two uncomplicated examples of early 60s modern jazz, both carrying the qualities of superior music making." (Peter Gamble) *****

MARTY PAICH: I GET A BOOT OUT OF YOU (Master Jazz)
"This set features the cream of the Los Angeles jazz fraternity, most of whom have a chance to shine on the opening It Don’t Mean A Thing. Mel Lewis with his laid-back, ultra relaxed sense of swing shows here and throughout just why Connie Kay considered him to be the finest of all big band drummers . . . MJR has added The Picasso Of Big Band Jazz which reveals another side of Paich's musicality allowing him to concentrate almost exclusively on his own superior originals. Herb Geller and Bob Cooper handle the saxophone solos with their customary elegance and aplomb and there is plenty of Jack Sheldon's intimate trumpet to enjoy." (Gordon Jack) *****

COURTNEY PINE: HOUSE OF LEGENDS (Destin-E World)
"Never one to be satisfied by making music to exercise the ears, Pine has produced a programme of hot-stepping jazz that improves the legs and mind as well. Mento and merengue, ska and calypso - shot through with a bebop sensibility - are the medium for original compositions that explore themes of racism and slavery as well as positive aspects of Caribbean culture . . . Using the term 'tour de force' to describe one of Pine's creations is becoming a little hackneyed after nearly 30 years - but he just keeps on doing it." (Garry Booth) ****

SHAKATAK: THE 12 INCH MIXES (Secret Record)
"Shakatak may seem strangely remote from any working definition of jazz, but the group's distinctive mix of jazz fusion, soul, funk and progressive rock has proved to be extremely durable and proves on fresh hearing to be full of musical enterprise and in no way inferior to American models . . . it should be stated that the mixing culture of the time was the locus for considerable improvisational activity. Multiple 'versioning' of a song is little different in essence from 1500 performances of My Favorite Things." (Brian Morton) ****

TRIBAL TECH: X (Tone Center)
"This is the first recording by Tribal Tech since the Rocket Science album of 2000 and continues in the somewhat looser, more co-composed or improvised mode evident before the break. The template remains the same – very heavy duty Weather Report influenced jazz-rock with a good leavening of funk and r&b . . . but even within a familiar landscape unexpected perspectives emerge and the musical mastery is unimpeachable." (Mark Gilbert) ****

VARIOUS JOY ROAD: SELECTIONS FROM THE COMPLETE WORKS OF PEPPER ADAMS (Motéma)
"The jazz world should be thankful for what has been called Gary Carner's 'Magnificent obsession' with the music of Pepper Adams. Hot on the heels of his 552-page annotated discography comes this sampler from a five-CD box set (available as download only) of specially commissioned arrangements of Adams originals. There is more to come because Carner is currently working on a full-length biography which is eagerly awaited." (Gordon Jack) ****

SARAH VAUGHAN & THE BASIE-ITES NO COUNT SARAH/AFTER HOURS AT THE LONDON HOUSE (Master Jazz)
"Oh, great joy, one of my top favourite singers along with the superb Basie band although the Count himself is absent but Ronnell Bright takes the piano stool in fine style. Needless to say the band’s backings throughout are sympathetic and entirely appropriate. Every track exhibits Sarah’s prodigious talent and artistry. All listeners will find their particular gems in this bag of rich pickings. Five stars? Absolutely." (Brian Robinson) *****

 

 


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