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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 edition.

Complete list of CDs reviewed in JJ November 2013 (see below for excerpts):
Alessi, Ralph: Baida (ECM 372 5304)
Allen, Byron: The Byron Allen Trio (E.S.P Disk 1005)
Ammons, Gene/Sonny Stitt: Boss Tenors In Orbit! + Soul Summit (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 788)
Basie, Count: Kansas City 7 + Memories Ad-Lib (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55590)
Berigan, Bunny: Swingin' & Jumpin’ (Hep CD 96)
Blake, Ran & Jeanne Lee: Free Standards (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 791)
Bley, Carla/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow: Trios (ECM 372 4551)
Bollani, Stefano/Hamilton De Holanda: O Que Será (ECM 374 0459)
Brookmeyer, Bob: Traditionalism Revisited (Phoenix 131595)
Byard, Jaki: Hi-Fly + Here's Jaki (Solar 4569937)
Cabaud, Demian: En Febrero (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 428)
Coltrane, John: The Pianists' Touch (Phoenix 131598)
Coltrane, John: The Complete Sun Ship Session (Mosaic MRLP 3005 - vinyl)
Connick Jr, Harry: Every Man Should Know (Columbia 372929)
Corea, Chick: The Vigil (Concord Jazz 7234578)
Cornelius, Patrick: Infinite Blue (Whirlwind WR4637)
Danko, Harold: Oatts & Perry III (SteepleChase SCCD 31761)
Dankworth, Jacqui: Live To Love (Specific Jazz SPEC018)
Desmond, Paul: The Complete RCA Albums Collection (RCA Legacy 88697939412)
Desmond, Paul/Gerry Mulligan: Two Of A Mind (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55597)
Drew, Kenny: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz AMSC 1088)
Ellington, Duke/Spacemen: The Cosmic Scene (Columbia 1198 - vinyl)
Ellis, Herb: The Midnight Roll Complete Sessions (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55603)
Empirical: Tabula Rasa (Naim 193)
Garrett, Kenny: Pushing The World Away (Mack Avenue MAC1078)
Gillespie, Dizzy: The New Continent (Phoenix 131596)
Goodman, Benny: The Complete Legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert (Phoenix 131592)
Haynes, Roy: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz AMSC 1092)
Herbert, Gwyneth: The Sea Cabinet (Monkeywood 002)
Jamal, Ahmad: Saturday Morning (Jazz Village SP95700257)
Kent, Stacey: The Changing Lights (Parlophone 5099944406226)
Lawson, Linda: Easy To Love (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 784)
Liebman, Dave/Michael Stephans: Lineage (Whaling City Sound WCS 064)
Liebman, David: Lieb Plays The Beatles (Daybreak DBCHR74558)
Lund, Lage: Foolhardy (Criss Cross 1360)
Man Overboard: All Hands On Deck (Champs Hill CHRCD062)
Mancio, Georgia/Nigel Price: Come Rain Or Come Shine (Roomspin 41)
Marie, René: I Wanna Be Evil (With Love To Eartha Kitt) (Motéma 233783)
Marsalis, Wynton: Swinging Into The 21st (Sony Legacy 88697944282)
McGhee, Howard: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out/House Warmin'! (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 796)
McRae, Carmen: The Complete 1946-1955 (Le Chant Du Monde 274 2243.44)
Mitchell, Nicole/Ice Crystals: Aquarius (Delmark DE 5004)
Modern Jazz Disciples: Complete Recordings (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 793)
Mulligan, Gerry: Jeru + What Is There To Say? (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55606)
Mulligan, Gerry: Spring Is Sprung (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55602)
Murphy, Mark: The Complete Decca Recordings (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 782)
Magnus Öström: Searching For Jupiter (ACT 9541-2)
Parker, Charlie: Complete Bird At The Apollo (Rare Live Recordings RLR88669)
Porter, Gregory: Liquid Spirit (Blue Note 3741053)
Prevost, Eddie: Meetings With Remarkable Saxophonists, Vol 2 (Matchless MRCD83)
Prevost, Eddie: Meetings With Remarkable Saxophonists, Vol 3 (Matchless MRCD86)
Prevost, Eddie: Meetings With Remarkable Saxophonists, Vol 4 (Matchless MRCD88)
Rathbun, Andrew: Shadow Forms II (SteepleChase SCCD 31762)
Rouse, Charlie/Paul Quinichette: The Chase Is On (Bethlehem 6021, vinyl)
Shank, Bud: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz AMSC 1087)
Simmons, Norman/Richard Evans: Featuring Victor Sproles, Vernell Fournier/Richard's Almanac (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 787)
Southern, Jeri: The Complete Decca Years 1951-1957 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 795)
Sperrazza/Sacks/Kamaguchi: Play Cy Coleman (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 424)
Stitt, Sonny: The Sensual Sound Of Sonny Stitt + Sonny Stitt & The Top Brass (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55608)
Vinson, Eddie "Cleanhead": With The Cannonball Adderley Quintet (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 794)
World Service Project: Fire In A Pet Shop (Mega Sound MSM025)
Young, Lester/Teddy Wilson: Pres & Teddy (Phoenix 131577)

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Excerpts from the 62 CD reviews in this issue:


RALPH ALESSI: BAIDA (ECM 372 5304)
Alessi’s ECM début in his own right is the result of musical antecedents so luminous as to make one wonder why it hasn’t happened earlier. He’s played and recorded in New York alongside Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane and others in bands led by them and in his own groups. For variety and definition of tone and adventurousness of phrasing, he’s a refreshing all-rounder, making much of this quartet’s intuitive approach. The resulting dive into the void is preserved on the album, despite constructs of sometimes beguiling complexity. (Nigel Jarrett) ****

RAN BLAKE & JEANNE LEE: FREE STANDARDS (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 791)
Blake and Lee had been a (musical) item for a decade when they made this in Sweden, half a decade after their duo debut for RCA The Newest Sound Around . . . Lee’s death in 2000 found her still sorely underrated, and still below the threshold of audibility that prompts an immediate, guilty and too-late revival. Blake carries on, still often working with singers, but he’s never enjoyed a partnership quite as demanding and exciting as this one. (Brian Morton) ****

STEFANO BOLLANI/HAMILTON DE HOLANDA: O QUE SERÁ (ECM 374 0459)
Appreciated fully by a now attentive, now ecstatic audience, the music’s range is immediately evident in the opening two numbers, with the limpid grace of Beatriz giving way to the edgy ostinato drive and intricate interaction of Barbone. If the final three numbers constitute (for me) the most completely satisfying section of the concert in terms of both technical and emotional variety, there is scarcely a glittering note here which fails to arrest attention. (Michael Tucker) *****

BOB BROOKMEYER: TRADITIONALISM REVISITED (Phoenix 131595)
“This was a labour of love,” Brookmeyer said in 1965. “That’s much less possible now than it was then.” Oh yes. And virtually impossible in 2013. It was actually a brave and sensible thing to do in 1957 with the rise of trad-jazz revivalism beginning to gain momentum. This gave the doubting tradsters a chance to hear some of their favourite music with bop solos patched in and the opportunity to hear that it didn’t hurt a bit. (Derek Ansell) *****

JOHN COLTRANE: THE COMPLETE SUN SHIP SESSION (Mosaic MRLP 3005 - vinyl)
Listening to this influential, highly inventive music in sequence of recording gives us a completist view of one of Trane’s last great quartet sessions. As booklet annotator David Wild says, it is to experience the music as it sounded then – fresh, unexpected, masterful. It has taken nearly 50 years to reach us but with Mosaic’s new mastering on 180-gram vinyl, the sound is almost as fresh as it was in the RCA studio in NYC way back in 1965.
(Derek Ansell) *****

CHICK COREA: THE VIGIL (Concord 7234578)

Corea is back herewith with some very reasonable jazz-rock plus bop-to-Coltrane. He went through a lower-tech moment a few years back in an electric band that did Paint The World (1993), but the playing here restores much of the service given by the 80s Elektric Band with Frank Gambale. There’s no lack of chops from new guitarist Charles Altura and Britain’s own Tim Garland matches the pace on saxophones, e.g., on opener Galaxy 32 Star 4. (Mark Gilbert) ***

PATRICK CORNELIUS: INFINITE BLUE (Whirlwind Recordings WR4637)
Not just “kind of” blue, this one penetrates to the heart of “cielo infinito”, the brightest, most luminous blue in the crayon box. Inspired by a moment on a transcontinental flight, Cornelius’s title track is the clincher on my favourite jazz album of 2013. The saxophonist’s stated aim was to write clear and uncluttered melodies, each with its own narrative. He’s done that in trumps and in the process trumped his own previous work on Lucid Dream, Fierce and Maybe Steps. (Brian Morton) ****

PAUL DESMOND: THE COMPLETE RCA ALBUMS COLLECTION (RCA Legacy 88697939412)
Someone once compared Desmond’s playing to a dry martini. It was meant tongue-in-cheek but even back in the days when these albums were recorded, such a comment smacked of lounge lizards and the kind of lothario played by Tony Randall or Robert Cummings in Doris Day rom-com features or Leslie Philips in low-brow British film comedies. Desmond’s tone was described by Raymond Horricks as “pale and virginal”. Compared to the sound of, say, Charlie Parker, Jackie McLean or Ornette Coleman, it was, but all these intimations of suavity, smoothness and restraint fail to do Desmond justice. His harmonic explorations were as full of surprises as they were of subtlety, and his melodic fluency and imagination were of the highest order, whilst only Sonny Rollins exceeded him for witty, perfectly-placed and apposite quotes. (Barry Witherden) *****

BENNY GOODMAN: THE COMPLETE LEGENDARY 1938 CARNEGIE HALL CONCERT (Phoenix 131592)
Recorded versions of the concert vary in their editing. This one includes the full band’s version of Vincent Youmans’s Sometimes I’m Happy in the arrangement by Fletcher Henderson, originally rejected for LP as being irredeemably cluttered. This remastering restores it as well as adding lustre, or as much as can be buffed up, to performances that were cast in the white heat of the moment. It must have been a revelation to everyone. The bonus tracks are from a radio broadcast two days after the concert, complete with ads for “nerve-settling” Camel cigarettes. (Nigel Jarrett) *****

AHMAD JAMAL: SATURDAY MORNING (Jazz Village JV570027)
It’s too glib to characterise Ahmad Jamal as a technically limited player, as from the off on this set he nails that misconception, turning in a series of rhythmically and melodically alert phrases on Back To The Future that delight in their unexpectedness. He has also been characterised as musically light-fingered, but again his demonstrative playing, even on the ballad I’ll Always Be With You, soon nails that mistake too. In fact, there is a barely suppressed urgency about his playing throughout this set that makes it swing like hell. Apparently, Jamal is 83. Not on the evidence of this set, he’s not. This is a first-class outing from an ever-youthful performer. Five stars all round. (Simon Adams) *****

STACEY KENT: THE CHANGING LIGHTS (Parlophone 5099944406226)
This latest album focuses mostly on Latin tunes, with polyglot Kent switching between English, French and Portuguese. There are covers of bossa-nova perennial Jobim, and two songs written by novelist Ishiguro, whose lyrics are particularly memorable. Kent is clearly at home singing Brazilian music, but nowhere is this so fully on display as it is on One Note Samba; the complicated scale runs are handled with the singer’s trademark effortless precision, with just the right amount of her rather elfin, restrained vibrato. (Sally Evans-Darby) ****

RENÉ MARIE: I WANNA BE EVIL (WITH LOVE TO EARTHA KITT) (Motéma 233783)
I hold Marie in very high regard and consider her to be one of the very best jazz singers working today. Here, she uses her mature, molten vocal sound to create some unforgettable moments. Her way with a lyric is wryly knowing, profound where needed, and she presents highly individual interpretations. The instrumentalists include Marie’s regular trio and guest horns of whom Wycliffe Gordon alone is worth the price of admission, talking up a bluesy storm, especially on Let’s Do It. The closer is a very nice Marie original in keeping with the world of E. Kitt, who would, I am sure, have given it her blessing. Exceptional jazz singing (and playing), scoring highest possible marks on every level; not to be missed. (Bruce Crowther) *****

NICOLE MITCHELL’S ICE CRYSTALS: AQUARIUS (Delmark DE 5004)
Several writers have commented on the affinities between the Eric Dolphy/Bobby Hutcherson partnership and Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystal project featuring young vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz. This could be down to the relative rarity of the combination of flute and vibes, and the quality of the playing on this excellent release. The album has gathered a number of very positive reviews, and quite rightly – it’s one of the most rewarding, and enjoyable, of Nicole Mitchell’s releases. (Andy Hamilton) *****

MARK MURPHY: THE COMPLETE DECCA RECORDINGS (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 782)
Surprisingly, when the first of these two LPs was issued in 1956 it was Murphy’s first professional work although he had previously sung in school productions and resort jobs. He is heard here sounding like a veteran performer running through every variety of jazz vocal performance from personalised ballad (A Nightingale Sang) to free-flowing scatting and uptempo vocal gymnastics on several compositions. Highlights include a wild workout on Fascinating Rhythm, Pick Yourself Up and a slow-burning, slow-swinging Robbin’s [sic] Nest. This was the start of a distinguished jazz vocal career that put him in the front rank of singers and continues to the present day. (Derek Ansell) *****

GREGORY PORTER: LIQUID SPIRIT (Blue Note 3741053)
Here’s another set from soul heart-throb Gregory Porter in a clearly articulated, well-pitched, nut-brown baritone with a pleasantly nasal twang. The tone is often redolent of Scotland’s Pat Kane or American Kurt Elling, though without the latter’s extraordinary vocal gymnastics or jazz commitment. It’s hardly jazz, mainly recycled 60s-70s soul, gospel and blues tropes, but it will no doubt appeal to the generalist audience. There are at least two standards here – The “In” Crowd and I Fall In Love Too Easily – but others could be originals. It may be, as others report, that Porter is more engaging live than on record. (Mark Gilbert) ***

JERI SOUTHERN: THE WARM SINGING STYLE OF JERI SOUTHERN: THE COMPLETE DECCA YEARS 1951-1957 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 795)
This is a set of five CDs that contain the whole of Jeri Southern’s issued recordings for American Decca. Included are the contents of her seven LP albums and the 40 tracks issued only as singles. She was supported by the pick of Decca’s house-band leaders. The transfers are all of good sound quality. The booklet is well illustrated with photographs of Ms Southern and the band leaders as well as reproductions of the album sleeves and many of the labels of the singles. Altogether it is a highly attractive package. It is a pleasure to listen to the set and to admire the physical product. Definitely recommended. (George Hulme) ****

LESTER YOUNG/TEDDY WILSON: PRES AND TEDDY (Phoenix 131577)
Whereas bebop was becoming harmonically more complicated, Lester was simplifying everything – avoiding chromatic entanglements and smoothing out the line. Only one other major figure seems eventually to have caught on to this, and that was Miles Davis. None of the critics did. Most of them seem to have regarded him as a has-been, and blamed it on his misfortunes in the army. Hence the “broken man” nonsense that still gets wheeled out from time to time. Using the simplest and most familiar material – popular songs and the blues – Lester produced some beautiful music in the 50s, almost to the end. The year with John Lewis was quite outstanding, as these 12 tracks demonstrate. (Dave Gelly) *****

 


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