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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.

Complete list of CDs reviewed in JJ August 2013 (see below for excerpts):
Abbasi, Rez: Continuous Beat (Enja 9591 2)
Abbuehl, Susanne: The Gift (ECM 372 7084)
Alexander, Monty: Uplift 2 - Higher (Jazz Legacy JLP 1201020)
Armstrong, Louis: Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography Part 1 (Avid AMSC 1082)
Armstrong, Louis: Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography Part 2 (Avid AMSC 1083)
Ashton, Bill/NYJO: Sing A Song Of Ashton: NYJO And The Vocalists (Stanza STOB003)
Basie, Count: Complete Basie-Hefti Studio Sessions 1951-1962 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 777)
Basurto, Nadia/Roger Mas: Arce (Fresh Sound FSNT 421)
Bittová, Iva: Iva Bittová (ECM 371 7896)
Bjørnstad, Ketil: La Notte (ECM 372 4553)
Brubeck, Dave: Quartet In Europe (Phoenix 131570)
Brubeck, Dave: Jazz Impressions Of The U.S.A. (Phoenix 131573)
Donald Byrd/Gigi Gryce: The Complete Jazz Lab Sessions (Jazz Dynamics 004)
Cherry, Don: “Mu” – First Part/”Mu” – Second Part/Orient (BYG/Charly 650 X)
Colligan, George: The Facts (Steeplechase SCCD 31752)
Coltrane, John: The Complete Mainstream 1958 Sessions (Phoenix 131574) Coltrane, John: Coltrane/Giant Steps (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55586)
Corman, Tossia: Up The Hills (Jazzsick 5063JS)
Cuber, Ronnie: Live At Jazzfest Berlin (SteepleChase SCCD 31766)
Dane, Barbara: Livin’ With The Blues + On My Way (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 781)
Davis, Miles: Amsterdam Concert Featuring Barney Wilen (In Crowd 996684)
Dorham, Kenny: Quintet With Jackie Mclean, Complete Recordings (Phoenix 131576)
Eden, Joanne: Jazz At The Movies (JATM 2012)
Ellington, Duke: Money Jungle (Poll Winners PWR 27314)
Flanagan, Tommy,/Jaki Byard: The Magic Of Two (Resonance HCD-2013)
Franks, Rebecca Coupe: Two Oceans (rebeccacoupefranks.com)
Garrick, Chris/John Etheridge: When The World Stopped For Snow (Flying Blue Whale Fly 8)
Gascoyne, Geoff/Dave O’Higgins: Got The Real Note (Jazzizit JITCD 1258)
Charles Gayle: Look Up (ESP-4070)
Getz, Stan: At Nalen With Bengt Hallberg (Riverside RRCD 2144)
Gordon, Dexter: Go! + A Swingin' Affair (Poll Winners PWR 27313)
Grappelli, Stéphane: Django (American Jazz Classics 99065)
Hamilton, Scott: Swedish Ballads… & More (Stunt 13022)
Haney, David: Day For Night At Jackstraw (SLAM CD 541)
Held, Pablo: Trio Live (Pirouet PIT 3066)
Herman, Woody: The Third Herd 'Live' 1952 (Acrobat ADDCD3083)
Hipp, Jutta: Lost Tapes (Jazz Haus 101723)
King, Peter/Alan Skidmore: Forever Elvin (Miles Music MMCD089)
Kirk, Roland/Roy Haynes: Domino + Out Of The Afternoon (American Jazz Classics 99064)
Lund, Lage: Four (SmallsLIVE SL-0025)
Marsalis, Jason/Vibes Quartet: In A World Of Mallets (Basin Street BSR 0303-2)
Mazurek, Rob: Skull Sessions (Cuneiform Rune 349)
McBride, Christian + Inside Straight: People Music (Mack Avenue 1070)
McLorin Salvant, Cécile: WomanChild (Mack Avenue 1072)
McRae, Carmen: I Am Music (Big Break BBR0205)
Metamorphic: Coalescence (F-IRECD 59)
Moffett, Charnett: The Bridge Solo Bass Works (Motéma 233681)
Montgomery, Wes: The Montgomeryland Sessions (Phoenix 131579)
Peterson, Oscar: West Side Story + Affinity (Poll Winners PWR 27315)
Price, Sammy: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid AMSC 1078)
Redmond, David: Roots (Fresh Sound FSNT 423)
Riley, Ben: Grown Folks Music (Sunnyside SSC 1305)
Rollins, Sonny: The Bridge (Poll Winners PWR 27312)
Rosenbloom, Mara: Songs From The Ground (Fresh Sound FSNT 418)
Scott, Ronnie: Quartet Featuring Alan Skidmore (Gearbox GB 1514, vinyl)
Second Line Jazz Band: Get Out Of Here (Imogena IGCD187)
Shearing, George: The George Shearing Collection 1939-58 (Acrobat ACQCD7044)
Sidran, Ben: Don’t Cry For No Hipster (Nardis)
Sipiagin, Alex: Overlooking Moments (Criss Cross 1354)
Taborn, Craig: Chants (ECM 372 4543)
Ted And Gladys: The Rhythm Of Life (Jazzizit JITCD 1257)
Tonight At Noon: People, Stories & Dreams (Prophone PGD129)
Universal Quartet: Light (ILK CD203)
Valdés, Chucho/The Afro-Cuban Messengers: Border-Free (Jazz Village SP9570016)
Various: British Traditional Jazz: At A Tangent Vol.3 (Lake LACD318)
Various: Unissued On 78s, Hot Jazz 1927-1931 (Retrieval RTR79071)
Webster, Ben/Harry Edison: Complete Sextet Studio Sessions (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55589)
Webster, Ben/Harry Edison: Complete Quintet Studio Sessions (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55588)
Wess, Frank: Magic 101 (IPOC1023)
Winkler, Mark: The Laura Nyro Project (Café Pacific CPCD 1260)
 

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Excerpts from the 70 CDs reviewed in this issue:


BILL ASHTON/NYJO: SING A SONG OF ASHTON (Stanza STOB003)
Why is it that the National Youth Jazz Orchestra is still not fully credited as the central bauhaus for emergent jazz talent in Britain? And how is it that its founder Bill Ashton OBE has inexplicably escaped a knighthood? British jazz owes Bill an incalculable debt, and – as this album conclusively demonstrates – he’s also one of the most important British songwriter-lyricists over the past five decades. (Digby Fairweather) *****

COUNT BASIE: COMPLETE BASIE-HEFTI STUDIO SESSIONS 1951-1962 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 777)
Neal Hefti found the perfect blend of precision-engineered ensemble sound, musical launching pads for soloists, and propulsive rhythmic undertow. Today, the power and bite of the band in full cry is such that it is hard to think of any band of the same era, or later, that comes close . . . Anyone who missed the original releases, or was not yet born, should run, not walk, and get this admirably packaged set. (Bruce Crowther) *****

KETIL BJØRNSTAD: LA NOTTE (ECM 372 4553)
This specially commissioned suite from the 2010 Molde Jazz Festival pays tribute to one of Michelangelo Antonioni’s most gripping films, La Notte. Bjørnstad is brilliantly served by a stellar band. Lechner’s classically inflected cello offers elegant, at times soaring counterpoint to Aarset’s spacious mixture of textured abstraction, whiplash raw sound and Rypdal-like keening, while Sheppard’s full-on tenor and filigree soprano lines are alternately kicked and caressed by the excellent Andersen and Mazur. (Michael Tucker) *****


DONALD BYRD/GIGI GRYCE: THE COMPLETE JAZZ LAB SESSIONS (Jazz Dynamics 004)
This collection covers all the recordings made by the Jazz Lab, a short-lived group led jointly by Byrd and Gryce that was captured on five discs in the space of a few months in 1957 . . . In the early 60s Gryce gave up his career in the jazz business to become a teacher and Byrd went on to hitch his wagon to more commercial music. Consequently it is doubly satisfying to have these 50-odd tracks available again and to be able to savour the work of two first-class musicians who left us wanting a whole lot more. (Peter Gamble) ****

GEORGE COLLIGAN: THE FACTS (Steeplechase SCCD 31752)
At the end of his liner note, Colligan addresses the critic directly. Familiar stuff: please listen to the whole CD; judge it for what it is, not what it isn’t; and if you hate it, keep quiet. “And remember, just because I’m not famous doesn’t mean I’m not any good.” It’s bad form, this kind of thing, shading into self-pity. But the facts are that The Facts is very good indeed. (Brian Morton) ****

JOHN COLTRANE QUARTET: COLTRANE / GIANT STEPS (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55586)

Giant Steps
became a defining theme of modern saxophone playing and contemporary writing. It still excites, that opening, even when here it’s dumped in the middle of the record. And Naima is as lovely a thing as any in the canon: the moment Coltrane settled something with Johnny Hodges. (Brian Morton) ****

RONNIE CUBER: LIVE AT JAZZFEST BERLIN (SteepleChase SCCD 31766)
Although he seems to be the first-call baritone player for NYC recording sessions the hugely talented Ronnie Cuber still finds time for the occasional European tour. This CD finds him in inspired form after a series of Italian bookings that concluded with a well-received engagement at Berlin’s Club Quasimodo . . . Ronnie Cuber is one of the finest soloists in jazz today and this release will certainly be one of my CDs of the year. (Gordon Jack) *****

DEXTER GORDON: GO! + A SWINGIN’ AFFAIR (Poll Winners PWR 27313)
The two sessions collected here represented the completion of Dexter Gordon’s musical restoration after wilderness years wasted in prison for drug offences . . . Unhappily, Gordon and pianist Sonny Clark would never be reunited, for a little over four months later Sonny died from an overdose. By then Dexter was well on the way to making Europe his home for the next 15 years. These vital collaborations comprised a high point in the careers of both saxophonist and pianist, amounting to blissful aural treasure. (Mark Gardner) ****

SCOTT HAMILTON: SWEDISH BALLADS... & MORE (Sundance STUCD13022)
One approaches a new Scott Hamilton with the expectation that it will consist of very tasteful, melodic and swinging music – and this latest album is no exception . . . Jan Lungdren is given plenty of space to demonstrate his considerable talent, providing thoughtful and entirely appropriate solos on each track . . . This is a very relaxed 52 minutes of music to be enjoyed whilst reclining in a comfy chair with a nice drink and good company. (Jerry Brown) ****

PETER KING/ALAN SKIDMORE: FOREVER ELVIN (Miles Music MMCD 089)
The two saxophonists produce a powerhouse performance on Three Card Molly. Skidmore has After The Rain to himself giving a tender interpretation of Trane’s lovely tone poem. The final Passion Dance lives up to its title. Steve Melling, Martin Drew and Alec Dankworth were fully involved participants on this gig, the much missed drummer driving the band along in a manner of which Elvin Jones would surely have approved. (Brian Robinson) ****

ROLAND KIRK/ROY HAYNES: DOMINO/OUT OF THE AFTERNOON (American Jazz Classics 99064)
Haynes makes his presence felt on the fast Rolando and E.D. where his explosive fours with Kirk are a delight. I’ve always preferred his precision with spirit to Max Roach’s precision without spirit and therefore don’t mind that Haynes features himself a good deal on the longer tracks of his own session . . . Haynes was surely the best drummer ever Kirk recorded with (though Dannie Richmond ran him close) and that’s a good enough reason to recommend this strongly. (Graham Colombé) *****

ROB MAZUREK OCTET:
SKULL SESSIONS (Cuneiform Rune 349)
The Miles Davis music that Mazurek has in mind is the dark fusion of his 70s electric period, although Mazurek’s take on that music is far more vibrant and alive than Miles’s often ethereal musings . . . Throughout, you have to keep reminding yourself that this is just an octet at work, such is their sonic variety and depth. The terrain they cover is luxuriant in its layers and textures, a Brazilian-influenced soundscape of infinite wealth. After many more listens, I might finally get to grips with this absorbing music. (Simon Adams) ****

CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE: PEOPLE MUSIC (Mack Avenue MAC 1070)
On the surface, this album slips readily into the category of updated hardbop: that’s indeed where it belongs, but the good news is McBride handles the updating with exceptional flair. The opening Listen To The Heroes Cry, backbeat and all, could easily be mistaken for a Jazz Messengers theme from the Morgan-Shorter era, a compliment in itself, but the front line of alto and vibes imparts a distinctive aura. That goes for most of what follows, the pieces all composed by those participating and of a quality well above the current norm. (Ronald Atkins) ****

CECILE MCLORIN SALVANT: WOMAN CHILD (Mack Avenue MAC 1072)
I have had the pleasure of seeing the very talented Cecile McLorin Salvant a couple of times at the Whitley Bay Jazz Party and was very impressed with her wide range of song sources. This is very much reflected on this album which travels from traditional American folk songs such as John Henry to her own modern musical setting of Le Front Cache Sur Tes Genoux, a 1930s poem by Haitian poet Ida Salomon Faubert, by way of Sam Coslow’s You Bring Out The Savage In Me. The treatment that this collection of diverse songs is given by Ms McLorin Salvant and her musical support is certainly interesting, being modern in outlook but with strong influences from the original period. (Jerry Brown) ****

METAMORPHIC:
COALESCENCE (F-IRECD 59)
Laura Cole’s utterly remarkable music is a collage of night-time fantasies, day-time nightmares put to rest, familiar music remembered and recombined, and the surprisingly optimistic disjecta of serious illness . . . Cole’s most obvious influence is Carla Bley, an ability to put together logical melody with ravines of harmonic ambiguity running through it . . . If it’s not my record of the year, that can only be because something still more extraordinary has come along between now and Hogmanay. And I somehow doubt that. (Brian Morton) ****

CHARNETT MOFFETT: THE BRIDGE: SOLO BASS WORKS (Motéma 233681)
Moffett is a true virtuoso, and there are several breathtaking passages, but he is never flashy or hollow, seeking to impress merely through technique. Similarly, whilst he does use the extreme registers of the bass, as well as such venerable “tricks” as strumming and snapping the strings against the wood, he does so in a context of solid musical logic. On All Blues he overdubs the elegant pizzicato riff with a haunting arco improvisation. The CD also contains a computer-playable video of Moffett preparing the title track. In paying homage to past greats such as Ray Brown, Paul Chambers and Charles Mingus, Moffett confirms his place in the pantheon. (Barry Witherden) *****

CRAIG TABORN TRIO: CHANTS (ECM 372 4543)
Yes, yes and thrice yes. That’s once for each member of this trio and also three times for how emphatically this release will make my end of year list. For anyone who thinks – justifiably in this reviewer’s opinion – that the piano/bass/drums trio has reached saturation point in recorded terms this set is a reminder of how vital it can be. (Nic Jones) *****

TED AND GLADYS: THE RHYTHM OF LIFE (Jazzizit JITCD 1257)
Ted and Gladys would be Trudy Kerr and Geoff Gascoyne when they leave their private fantasy land and return to reality . . . Letter By Letter sounds as though it might have autobiographical content and contains heartfelt singing and a well structured bass solo. Best perhaps is The Rhythm Of Life with its joyous Milestones riff and solid swing throughout but then the singing and playing on all tracks is top quality with an interesting repertoire. (Derek Ansell) ****

CHUCHO VALDÉS & THE AFRO-CUBAN MESSENGERS: BORDER-FREE (Jazz Village JV 570016)
There is certainly no shortage of virtuosic jazz pianists who originate from the Caribbean, but amongst them Valdés’ musical identity is arguably revealed most readily by his sheer density of notes and also by his more overt classical influences which are manifested via direct quotes from the music of J.S. Bach, Rachmaninoff and Chopin . . . The quality of playing throughout this album is of the highest order, and Valdés has successfully produced an album with an incredible fusion of musical influences, that sounds as a coherent whole. (Dave Jones) *****

VARIOUS: BRITISH TRADITIONAL JAZZ – AT A TANGENT VOL. 3 (Lake LACD318)
This third volume is more a continuation of Lake’s A Potted History 1936-1963 in that the bands covered here simply did not achieve particular fame and fortune in comparison with bands like Chris Barber, Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk . . . Trying to work out why these bands did not achieve great success is a futile task as all of them play with professionalism and offer good quality performances . . . Recommended. (George Hulme) ****

FRANK WESS: MAGIC 101 (IPO Recordings IPOC1023)
Veteran players often display a distressing tendency to abandon cogency, or perhaps simply lose the thread, when playing old familiar pieces. Or maybe, like Hawkins in his last years, they just get bored and can’t be bothered. Frank Wess, on the other hand, is as full of juicy, well turned phrases as ever. His Blue Monk is a model blues in B-flat, while Come Rain Or Come Shine turns out to be a duet with Kenny Barron, who gets as close to stride piano as I’ve ever heard from him. (Dave Gelly) ****

 


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