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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 March 2013 issue:

New issues reviewed
Aarset, Eivind: Dream Logic (ECM 371 3657)
Beasley, John/Darryl Jones/Ndugu Chancler: 3 Brave Souls (Challenge CR73357)
Beriaux, Fanny: Blow Up My World (Chamber CHCD 318)
Bernstein, Peter: Live At Smalls (smallsLIVE SL-0004)
Birchall, Nat: World Without Form (Sound Soul And Spirit NB002)
Blake, Ran/Sara Serpa: Aurora (Clean Feed CF264CD)
Bradstock, Burton: All Upon A Lovely Summer's Day (F-IRECD 58)
Davis, Jesse: Live At Smalls (smallsLIVE SL-0026)
Evans, Tommy: The Green Seagull (Jellymould JM 33009)
Fessor And His Jazz Kings: For Bunchy (Olufsen DOCD 5899)
Food: Mercurial Balm (ECM 370 9440)
Formanek, Michael: Small Places (ECM 370 9441)
Grdina's, Gordon Haram: Her Eyes Illuminate (Songlines SGL-2407-2)
Haines, Nathan: The Poet's Embrace (Warner Jazz 17384)
Halsall, Matthew: Fletcher Moss Park (Gondwana 007)
Harper, Winard/And Jeli Posse: Coexist (Jazz Legacy Productions 1201018)
Herwig, Conrad: A Voice Through The Door (Criss Cross 1352)
Higginbottom, Chris: Where Land Ends (F-IRE CD63)
Jazz Soul Seven: Impressions Of Curtis Mayfield (Challenge CR73356)
Kerecki, Stéphane: Sound Architects (Out Note OTN 017)
Lalama, Ralph: Bop Juice (smallsLIVE SL-0027)
London Swing Orchestra: The Roaring Twenties (Upbeat URCD249)
Longo, Mike: A Celebration Of Diz And Miles (CAP 1033)
Manington, Dave/Riff Raff: Hullabaloo (Loop 1015)
McCormack, Andrew: Live In London (Edition EDN 1037)
Meier, Nicolas: From Istanbul To Ceuta With A Smile (MGPCD009)
Miller, Mulgrew: & Kluver's Big Band (Stunt 12122)
Neon Quartet: Subjekt (Edition EDN 1036)
Paisean: Paisean (asc cd 141)
Pasborg, Stefan: Free Moby Dick (ILK 194)
Pédron, Pierrick: Kubic's Monk (ACT 9536)
Pope, Odean: Odean's Three (In+Out 77112)
Positive Catastrophe: Dibrujo, Dibrujo, Dibrujo (Cuneiform Rune 336)
Riedel, Sarah/Carl Svensson/Viktor Skokic: Perfectly Still (Footprint FRCD 065)
Rosengren, Bernt: Plays Swedish Jazz Compositions (7P Machine AB/PB7 018)
Sanchez, Poncho: Live In Hollywood (Concord Picante CPI 34110)
Scenes In The City: The Man Who Never Sleeps: The Music Of Charles Mingus (Woodville WVCD138)
Stanko, Tomasz New York Quartet: Wislawa (ECM 371 3772)
Trieste Early Jazz Orchestra: Live In Rimini (TEJO/101)
Usonic: Diversion (G4DZ010)
Various: Head Radio: Retransmissions - A Tribute To Radiohead (ESC 3746)
Wiszniewski, Konrad/Euan Stevenson: New Focus (Whirlwind WR4629)

Reissues reviewed

Armstrong, Louis: Satchmo At Symphony Hall (hip-o-select.com 80016891)
Chet Baker: In Paris, The Complete Original Recordings (Master Jazz 8892858)
Brown, Sandy: The Swarbrick And Mossman Sides (Lake 313)
Davis, Miles: Steamin' + The New Miles Davis Quintet (Master Jazz 8892857)
Davis, Miles: Cookin' + Relaxin' (Master Jazz 8892854)
Davis, Miles: Workin' + The Musings Of Miles (Master Jazz 8892856)
Davis, Miles: Kind Of Blue (Master Jazz 8892859)
Ellington, Duke: The Complete Columbia Studio Albums 1951-58 (Sony Music 8697938882)
Ellis, Don: Autumn (FiveFour33)
Evans, Gil: Plays The Music Of Jimi Hendrix (FiveFour32)
Freeman, Bud: Four Classic Albums Plus (Avid AMSC 1072)
Gilberto, Joao: The Boss Of The Bossa Nova (Malanga MM 816)
Jackson, Milt: Quintet & Sextet (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 730)
Jones, Thad/Mel Lewis Presenting Thad Jones, Mel Lewis & The Jazz Orchestra (BGO 1068)
Lawson, Hugh/Richard Wyands: Jazzcraft Studio Recordings 1977-78 (Storyviile 1038428)
Ory, Kid: The Kid From New Orleans (Upbeat URDC 236)
Pasadena Roof Orchestra: Fifteen Years On (Upbeat URCD 227)
Reeves, Dianne: I Remember (Pure Pleasure PPAN BST 90264)
Reinhardt, Django: The Complete Trios (Essential Jazz Classics EJC 55558)
Romane: Samois-sur-Seine (Frémeaux & Associés FA 543)
Shakatak: The Best Of Shakatak (Secret Records SECCD0063)
Shank, Bud: Four Classic Albums (Avid AMSC1071)
Shearing, George: On The Sunny Side Of The Strip + On Stage (Master Jazz 8892850)
Spaulding, James: Plays The Legacy Of Duke Ellington (Storyville 101 8423)
Stubblefield, John: Prelude (Storyville 101 8434)
Various: British Traditional Jazz – At A Tangent Vol. 1 (Lake 316)
Various: British Traditional Jazz – At A Tangent Vol. 2 (Lake 317)
Various: On The Road (Surco 060253711 6638)
Williams, Cootie: Cootie/Un Concert A Minuit Avec Cootie Williams (Master Jazz 8892853)
Winchester, Lem: Patrolman (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 731)
Winchester, Lem: Winchester Special & Another Opus (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 733)
Winchester, Lem: With Feeling + Nocturne And More . . . (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 737)

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Excerpts from the 74 CD reviews in this issue:

EIVIND AARSET: DREAM LOGIC (ECM)
Aarset's a remarkable player, but dream-scapes are usually boring and impenetrable to anyone except the dreamer or a trained analyst. These heavily manipulated cuts might seem like an undemanding listen, ambient rather than arresting, but they involve so many seemingly self-conscious transitions that the set becomes hard work. As Thurber said, What do you want to be enigmatic for, Cynthia? (Brian Morton) **

LOUIS ARMSTRONG SATCHMO AT SYMPHONY HALL (Hip-o-Select.com)

This music appeared originally on the earliest 12" jazz LPs issued in this country. It was sensational then in that it was a "live" recording and it didn't much matter that the sound was murky. Now the sound has been thoroughly and miraculously refurbished and the music has become exquisite. (Steve Voce) *****

NAT BIRCHALL: WORLD WITHOUT FORM (Sound Soul And Spirit)
The Mancunian saxophonist Nat Birchall once again hits the sweet spot between Charles Lloyd and John Coltrane with this, his second release as leader. Trading tough with tender, sentimentality with soul-baring honesty, Birchall wrapped my ears around his little finger in this lovely set. (Garry Booth) ****

MILES DAVIS: KIND OF BLUE (Master Jazz Records)
Kind Of Blue was a new direction but not necessarily a better one. Adderley added, Evans in lieu of Garland and Cobb replacing Jones. Modalism had arrived. This music has been over-hyped and over-egged down the years. Influential? Certainly. But it drones and drifts, becoming anodyne in stretches. Where is the passion? The excitement? To these ears its predecessor recording, Milestones, was far superior and much more adventurous. Gripping too, not least because PJJ was still in the drums' driving seat. (Mark Gardner) ***

DUKE ELLINGTON THE COMPLETE COLUMBIA STUDIO ALBUMS 1951-58 (Sony)
The best set I've reviewed in this magazine for many years. What a pity Lawrence Brown featured only on the first album. This major Ellingtonian certainly leaves one wanting more! (Steve Voce) *****

DON ELLIS: AUTUMN (FiveFour)
Nearly half a century on, Ellis's wondrous Electric Bath remains one of the most exciting and original big band records extant, and its immediate successor Autumn is hardly less fine . . . a very fine record that is full of gusto, imagination and intelligent exuberance. (Richard Palmer) ****

TOMMY EVANS ORCHESTRA: THE GREEN SEAGULL (Jellymould)
Brave, bold and occasionally just a cacophony, you have to admire the energy and enthusiasm that's gone into the creation of this work, even if the finished product is no easy listen. A second CD offers dubstep remixes from the original suite, but the endless, trance-like concoction of drum and bass offers no jazz interest whatsoever. (John Adcock) **

FESSOR AND HIS JAZZ KINGS: FOR BUNCHY (Olufsen Records)
Probably When The Boys Were Out On The Western Plains is the most modern and "funky" performance whereas Bogalusa Strut is given the most straight ahead treatment. Overall, it's an enjoyable album particularly for those who do not have a strictly rigid view of New Orleans music. (Jerry Brown) ****

FOOD: MERCURIAL BALM (ECM)
The combined electronics set up patterns and reverberations over which Ballamy slowly places his ethereal saxophone lines. Forward motion is often leisurely, development slow, as everything is pared down to what is absolutely necessary . . . a great example of how to successfully combine electronic and acoustic improvisation. (Simon Adams) ****

CONRAD HERWIG: A VOICE THROUGH THE DOOR (Criss Cross)
Herwig's an important figure, overdue for (re-)discovery. His early Criss Crosses – Osteology, Unseen Universe and Hiero-glyphics – were strikingly good and he's just got more confident in his philosophical balancing act. A new gem from Gerry Teeken's jewelbox. (Brian Morton) ****

MILT JACKSON: QUINTET & SEXTET (Fresh Sound)
These sides have been regularly available over the years, but their reappearance is more than welcome, especially as Fresh Sound have remastered the music and provided customarily scholarly annotation . . . the whole package amounts to a masterpiece and should be in every serious collection. (Richard Palmer) *****

JAZZ SOUL SEVEN: IMPRESSIONS OF CURTIS MAYFIELD (Challenge)
Jazz Soul Seven consists of mainly LA-based players plus percussionist Henry Gibson, who played with Mayfield for 17 years. Unfortunately, his contributions are largely subsumed within a slick, jazz-funk treatment that reduces each track to bland consistency. Mayfield wrote about the damage of drugs and the harshness of poverty and prejudice as well as the bliss of love. This group reduces his message to mere studio finesse. (Simon Adams) **

THAD JONES & MEL LEWIS: PRESENTING THAD JONES, MEL LEWIS & THE JAZZ ORCHESTRA (BGO)
Three of the best albums by the highly regarded Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band are spread over two discs rich with that distinctive sound, tight ensembles and fascinating, exciting arrangements . . . it's an essential purchase for modern big band fans. The excellent 24-page booklet contains a full run down of what happens and who plays during each tune. (Brian Robinson) ****

RALPH LALAMA: BOP JUICE – LIVE AT SMALLS (smallsLIVE)
Lalama's on-the-spot recording in the typically close acoustic of the jazz club calls to mind Sonny Rollins and his classic trio sets at the Vanguard for Blue Note in 1957. The leader, with swirling sorties on six extended and attractive lines, brews up a wild contemporary bop session aided and abetted by solid bass lines and solos and some driving drum work. (Derek Ansell) *****

NICOLAS MEIER: FROM ISTANBUL TO CEUTA WITH A SMILE (MGP)
There are few out there doing what Meier is doing and probably none doing it as convincingly well. If you like a strong "world" element to your jazz, this is – forgive the awful pun – very Moorish and definitely more-ish. (Dave Foxall) ****

NEON QUARTET: SUBJEKT (Edition)
Stan Sulzmann first made an impression with Graham Collier back in 1968, and while the lazy might consider him a journeyman it's clear from this release that his musicianship has deepened through the intervening decades. (Nic Jones) ****

STEFAN PASBORG: FREE MOBY DICK (Ilk)
"Is it possible to play heavy metal with just saxes, bass and drums? It certainly is when you have players of this mettle and with a leader who when the occasion calls for it hits as hard as Bonzo ever did. Pasborg's arrangement of Led Zeppelin's Black Dog preserves the weighty riffage of the song, done with complete conviction by the two big horns, but also its speedy turnaround." (Brian Morton) ****

ODEAN POPE: ODEAN'S THREE (In + Out)
Never strident and always in control, Pope is a real heavyweight who is absolutely in his prime. Odean's Three should should appeal to anybody who has been wowed by Branford Marsalis's recent output – three MFs, period. (Fred Grand) ****

SHAKATAK: THE BEST OF SHAKATAK (Secret)
I'll come clean: I always liked Shakatak, and this release confirmed and increased my delight in their work. Okay, by the highest standards the band's music was/is limited, and I would also concede that there's something a touch formulaic about it. But you could say the same about a lot of "bona fide" jazz acts – hard-bop combos and 30s orchestras especially – and I found these 80 minutes sped by, edifyingly and ankle-threateningly. (Richard Palmer) ****

TOMASZ STANKO NEW YORK QUARTET: WISLAWA (ECM)
At 70, Stanko is playing as strongly as ever, aided and abetted by the now quicksilver, now rubato contributions of the uniformly excellent Virelles (born 1983), Morgan (born 1981) and Cleaver (born 1963). Archetypal, essential music from of one Europe's most striking – and affecting – poets of his instrument. (Michael Tucker) *****

 

 


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