Selected reviews


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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 March 2014 (see below for excerpts):
3 Cohens: Tightrope (Anzic ANZ-0043)
Alden, Howard/Andy Brown: Heavy Artillery (Delmark DE 5008)
Ashby, Harold: Harold Ashby Quartet (Progressive PCD-7040)
Bennett, Dave: Don't Be That Way (Mack Avenue MAC 1071)
Bennett, Tony: Sings For Two + Sings A String Of Harold Arlen (Solar 4569939)
Berlin, Jeff: Low Standards (Random Act RAR1011CD)
Bévort 3: Trio Temptations (Gateway BEVORTCD03)
Biesterfeldt, Chris: Urban Mandolin (BR1001)
Blakey, Art/The Jazz Messengers: Caravan + Buhaina's Delight (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55613)
Blue Cranes: Swim (Cuneiform Rune 364)
Boland, Francy: Playing With The Trio (Schema RW 148 CD)
Burrell, Kenny: Weaver Of Dreams + Introducing Kenny Burrell (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55605)
Byrd, Donald: Royal Flush + Off To The Races (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55612)
Carlton, Larry: The Paris Concert (335 Records CD335-0009)
Carlton, Larry: Then & Now (335 335-1207)
Carter, Betty: Round Midnight + Out There With Betty Carter (Solar 4569940)
Charles, Ray: What'd I Say (Hoo Doo 263455)
Classic Jazz Ensemble: Twice In A While (Delmark DD-222)
Clyde Valley Stompers: Clyde Valley Stompers (Lake LACD329)
Cohen, Avishai: Almah (Parlophone 0825646 396818)
Cohen, Rachael: Halftime (Whirlwind WR4644)
Coltrane, John: In The Winners Circle (Bethlehem BCP 6066)
Corea, Chick: Tones For Joan's Bones (Warner 8122796944)
Daniels, Dee: State Of The Art (Criss Cross 1362 CD)
Daniels, Kate: Atmospherics (Loxford K2)
Ducomble, Gabrielle: Notes From Paris (MGP 5 060237 700239)
Ehrlich, Marty: A Trumpet In The Morning (New World 80752-2)
Eto, Kimio: Sound Of The Koto: The Music Of Japan (El ACMEM259CD)
Fernández, Agustí/Barry Guy/Ramón López: A Moment's Liberty (Maya MCD 1302)
Forrest, Jimmy: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz AMSC1096)
Get The Blessing: Lope And Antilope (Naim CD199)
Gibbs, Terry: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz AMSC 1095)
Gilby, Zoë: Twelve Stories (33 Jazz 236)
Giuffre, Jimmy: Three Classic Albums Plus Second Set (Avid Jazz AMSC1103)
Goodman, Benny: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz AMSC1105)
Goodnight, Jolie: Say Goodnight Gracey (Sunbird SBD 0020)
Green, Grant & Herbie Hancock: Goin' West + Feelin' The Spirit (Master Jazz MJR 8892865)
Gullin, Lars: Baritone Sax (Warner 8122796855)
Gullin, Lars: Lars Gullin Swings (Warner 8122796546)
Handy, Craig: Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith (Okeh 8888372183)
Harriott, Joe/The British Jazz All Stars: Jazz Britannia '56! (Harkit HRKCD 8440)
Hawkins, Coleman: The Hawk Swings (Boplicity CDBOPM 015)
Hayes, Tubby: Seven Steps To Heaven (Gearbox 1523)
Herring, Jimmy: Subject To Change Without Notice (Abstract Logix ABLX 035)
Holdsworth, Allan: Flattire (MoonJune MJR053)
Hubbard, Freddie: Here To Stay + Hub-Tones (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55611)
Humes, Helen: Sings Ballads & Blues (Audiophile ACD-107)
Jackson, Milt: Sings With The Enrico Intra Group (Derby DBL 8009)
Jackson, Milt: Statements + Vibrations (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55610)
Jacobs, Laurie/Dick Pearce: Full Steam Ahead!!! (Soultrane Jazz)
Jacobsen, Martin: Live In Tokyo (Steeplechase SCCD 31768)
Jamal Ahmad: The Classic 1958-1962 Recordings (Jazz Dynamics 006)
Jones, Quincy: Four Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz AMSC 1107)
Kinhan, Lauren: Circle In A Square (Dotted i Records)
Knuffke, Kirk: Chorale (Steeplechase SCCD 31769)
Köhn, Jeanette & Swedish Radio Choir: New Eyes On Baroque (ACT 9547-2)
Koller, Hans: Legends Live (Jazz Haus 101 733)
Konitz, Lee/Warne Marsh: Lee Konitz With Warne Marsh (Warner 8122796408)
Let Spin: Let Spin (Efpi FP013)
Lewis, Greg: American Standard/Organ Monk (Greg Lewis Music 884501944403)
Loeb, Chuck: Silhouette (Moosicus M 1216-2)
Loussier, Jacques: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz AMSC 1101)
Lundgaard, Jesper: Love & Peace: The Music Of Horace Parlan (Storyville 1014286)
Mack Avenue Superband: Live From The Detroit Jazz Festival 2012 (Mack Avenue MAC1076)
Mangione, Chuck: Quartet (Mercury SRM 1-631)
Marsh, Warne: Warne Marsh (Warner 8122713282)
Martin, Claire/Richard Rodney Bennett: Say It Isn't So (Linn AKD454)
Masters, Mark: Everything You Did (Capri 74123-2)
McFarlane, Zara: If You Knew Her (Brownswood BWOOD0112CDP)
Modern Jazz Quartet: Lost Tapes - Germany 1956-1958 (Jazz Haus 101 731)
Ory, Kid & His Orchestra: The Original Jazz (Upbeat Jazz URCD259)
Peterson, Oscar: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz AMSC1106)
Pettiford, Oscar: Volume Two (Bethlehem BCP 33)
Pintchik, Leslie: In The Nature Of Things (Pinchhard CD 002)
Richardson, Neal: Better Than The Blues (Splash Point R015CD)
Royal Norwegian Navy Band: Porgy And Bess (MM 1007-2)
Scott, Ronnie: 1612 Overture (Ronnie Scott/Gearbox RSGB 1001)
Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: American Adventure (Spartacus STS018)
Simcock, Gwilym/Yuri Goloubev: Reverie At Schloss Elmau ACT 9624-2)
Slowly Rolling Camera: Slowly Rolling Camera (Edition EDN1048)
Terris, Mimi: They Say It's Spring (Calibrated Music CALI130)
Terry, Clark: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz AMSC1102)
Thompson, Sir Charles: With Yoshio Toyama & Dixie Saints (Jazzology JCD-393)
Trio Riot: Trio Riot (Efpi FP015)
Troyk-estra: Live At The Cheltenham Jazz Festival (Impossible Ark)
Turrentine, Stanley: Blue Hour (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55617)
Various: British Traditional Jazz At A Tangent Vol.4 (Lake LACD327)
Wallis, Bob: And His Storyville Jazzmen (Lake LACD326)
Wess, Frank: The Flute Mastery Of Frank Wess (Progressive PCD-7057)
Willis, Gary: Retro (Abstract Logix ABLX 038)
Wilson, Teddy/Trio With Jo Jones: Complete Studio Recordings (Jazz Dynamics 008)
Wogram, Nils: Complete Soul (NWOG 004)
Wogram, Nils/Root 70: Riomar (NWOG 007)
Wollny, Michael Trio: Weltentraum (ACT 9563-2)
Youssef, Dhafer: Birds Requiem (Okeh 88883721842)
Zakian, Laura: Songs For Modern Lovers (Dancing Rhino LZDR004)

Excerpts from the 96 CD reviews in this issue:


I first heard Dave Bennett about four years ago in the States and he was very much a Benny Goodman clone and this was reflected in his first recordings. However since then he has moved on considerably and whilst the Goodman influence is very much in evidence he has moved into a more modern approach to the music. With tunes such as those performed on this album one tends to make comparisons with the original clarinet versions but the arrangements by Shelly Berger have given a new slant to familiar themes. For example, Woodchopper’s Ball is taken with a bluesy shuffle rhythm and even more “revolutionary” is the 11-minute version of Sing, Sing, Sing. (Jerry Brown) ****

Electric bass legend Jeff Berlin here follows his High Standards album with a low version, “low” because it essays tunes “lesser known to the general public”. Jazz fans will know them though, from E.S.P. through El Gaucho, Falling Grace, Fee Fi Fo Fum, Vashkar, Very Early and Whisper Not to Metheny’s lovely James. Berlin plays over Richard Drexler’s acoustic bass, with Drexler diving to the piano to solo as Berlin plays rhythm. It’s all very virtuosic, in time and full of gorgeous harmony (enhanced by the slight chorus effect on Berlin’s bass). Berlin’s love of Keith Jarrett’s standards trio inspired the idea, and Berlin wonders if KJ or Gary Burton might play like he did if they played bass. Seek and compare. (Mark Gilbert) *****

By this stage in the Messengers history Wayne Shorter was the prime mover, with five tunes out of these 12 and had assumed the role of musical director. Top taster on the Riverside album Caravan is Hubbard’s soulful exposition of Skylark, a mature and lyrical statement. There’s an immediate swinging surge to the Blue Note date, starting with a loping Backstage Sally and continuing in higher gear on Bu’s Delight and Reincarnation Blues. Gospel roots are nourished on Walton’s Shaky Shake and Moon River gets a fast tempo seeing to, Contemplation being the only reflective entry. In short, Buhaina’s Delight is what hard bop is all about - heady and headlong stuff! (Mark Gardner) ****

The Belgian pianist Francy Boland is probably best remembered as co-leader, with drummer Kenny Clarke, of the celebrated Clarke/Boland Big Band. On this disc we have the basic rhythm section from the big band performing stripped-back takes of some of the numbers from the band’s repertoire. It’s a well-varied programme superbly recorded and it’s a joy to hear these three masters of their craft (Boland, Clarke and bassist Jimmy Woode) in an intimate trio setting not subjugated by the power of brass, saxes etc. It’s a shame the session wasn’t longer but then it was recorded for issue on LP. I think I’ll be lucky to hear a better jazz piano trio this year. Well done to Schema and Discovery Records for releasing this gem. (Brian Robinson) *****


One of the masterpieces of modal jazz, rich in bright quartal harmony, Tone For Joan’s Bones is here reissued in Warner’s 24-bit 1000YEN series from Japan. Corea is at a youthful peak, fully conversant with the Tynerish vocabulary that defines his hard-bop style. Woody Shaw brings a related Traneish mentality to his trumpet work, and here’s a chance also to hear Steve Swallow cutting it perfectly well in pre-electric guise on the “proper” bass. In four tracks and just 40 minutes, the album is a nugget of unadulterated virtuoso modernism, both in composition and improvisation, full of harmonic incident and swing. It’s fairly often reissued but if you missed it, grab this. (Mark Gilbert) *****

AVISHAI COHEN: ALMAH (Parlophone 0825646 396818)

Avishai Cohen may have little to prove to the jazz audience, but his earliest formal musical training actually came within the classical arena. Almah picks up some of those early threads, though its wide genre sweep and strong improvisational currents prevent it from being a full-circle return. Cohen’s prodigious talents as a jazz musician are quickly asserted. On A Black Horse/Linearity takes an old Red Army song to frame a stinging electric-bass solo, a chamber-jazz arrangement of Thad Jones’s tender A Child Is Born exploits Cohen’s warm acoustic tone, while the complex grooves of Shlosre remind us of the bassist’s profound influence on a new generation of players (including Phronesis front-man Jasper Høiby). Neither a classical crossover nor jazz with strings, Almah is instead an almost perfect résumé of Cohen’s rich and multi-faceted career to date. (Fred Grand) ****

For their fourth album GTB opted for a new approach. The group secreted itself away with a blank canvas, the idea to develop tunes from the ground up and then capture them in the moment, rather than write them down. Thus Lope And Antilope emerged fully formed in four days, doleful and lugubrious. Deep grooves from reverberating bass and rocky kit drums are used as a counter-point to beaten-up, muted and treated trumpet lines and rusty sax lines. Then sometimes the grooves are held back and replaced by electro-acoustic atmospherics and interference. It’s rather like a cross between Jon Hassell, Ornette Coleman and an instrumental Portishead. It’s a jam - but instantly likeable for its pungency and humour. (Garry Booth) ***


At the time of the release of Benny Goodman Swings Again, the performances were met with unstinting critical praise. “Back to his old place at the top of the heap,” said Newsweek. “A magic interlude,” said Abe Greenberg at the LA Examiner. “No figure in jazz annals has ever etched a deeper or larger impression than Benny Goodman,” wrote Daily Variety. That was 50 years ago. Listening to this CD today, one has little need to question those judgements. What was said of Benny Goodman Swings Again could be said of the whole of the release, for these are marvellous performances by great jazz musicians caught when they were at the top of their game. If your CD collection is short of post-war Goodman performances, this is an excellent reissue with which to begin. (John Robert Brown) *****

These two beautifully paced sessions for Blue Note from the same unit go together perfectly. You can just keep on listening to Green locking down those delicious linear lines without ever feeling like you have had enough. Nor are Hancock and Higgins going to rush you; they’re happy to keep on cooking in the background, occasionally dishing up short order solos. Hancock especially is extraordinary in the super sideman role on Feelin’ The Spirit, driving and shaping a tune like Motherless Child without ever biting into Green’s limelight. On all the sides, the band simply transcend the material, the simplicity of the tunes leaving room for all kinds of adornment within the groove. (Garry Booth) *****

Virtually everything on this set has, of course, been covered by other jazz figures, but the fact remains that this trio brings something of its own to the material every time. The Best Thing For You exemplifies both this and the degree to which the trio gelled during its time together. It’s thus high time the group was accorded a critical reassessment, especially as all this material as a set represents no small highlight in the history of post-war jazz piano. (Nic Jones) *****

WARNE MARSH: WARNE MARSH (Warner 81227 13282). LEE KONITZ WITH WARNE MARSH (Warner 81227 96408)
The Warne Marsh set, appearing for the first time in the UK via Warner’s 1000YEN series, at first seems somewhat desultory, only 35 minutes long and with Too Close For Comfort fading out during Marsh’s solo. However, It’s All Right With Me sets things right, Marsh’s solo a prime example of his harmonically oblique approach and of that jubilant, slightly incredulous upper register tone that demands attention. Ball and Chambers (arco) are on form and trades with Philly Joe make for a rounded, satisfying outing. Where the Marsh set is often pianoless, the Konitz/Marsh set, already issued in the UK in various versions, is a nominally more conventional affair. However, as liner note writer Barry Ulanov points out, it’s a progression of the bebop principle - still modern in 1958 - of the extended melodic solo line. Ulanov compares the approach to that of Bach, where the melody line is continuous from first note to last. That’s a tall order for improvising musicians, but with characteristic elegance and stamina, it’s what Marsh and Konitz work at. If there’s a downside, it’s homogeneity of rhythm (eighth notes dominate) and tempo, with Pettiford’s down tempo blues Don’t Squawk the only stylistic diversion in the set. Conversely, the rhythmic circumscription allows better focus on harmony and pitch, the principles’ main concern and greatest strength. (Mark Gilbert) ****

It takes away nothing from the divine Claire Martin to say that this perfectly weighted set of Irving Berlin songs is very nearly stolen by the late Sir Richard’s vocal on Change Partners, a gently theatrical swansong that retains every bit of the wry romance of the original. Martin’s What’ll I Do? is the perfect antidote to every plonking, thespian version you ever heard. It’s a musing song. It’s altogether lovely stuff, done with the kind of dewy freshness one always hears on a Linn recording. Do they make these records in the early morning? This one’s not just a bittersweet memorial to a highly effective, if initially improbable partnership. It’s a genuine keeper. (Brian Morton) ****

Not a bad package, eh? 1½ stupendous albums (Very Tall and Side One of Stratford) plus two others which are full of delights, surprises and of course swinging power. To take just one, Very Tall is magnificent throughout – and what a range of tone, material and mood it encompasses. One of the best extant readings of Jackson’s Heartstrings gives way to a joyously wailing Work Song, while the opening Street is a masterclass in melodic invention and understated virility. But the absolute jewel is Reunion Blues. Brown drives everything like an aircraft engine, Thigpen’s rolls and rim-shots are infallibly chosen and when he follows Jackson, Peterson’s deceptive lightness of touch manages to maintain heat and intensity. No mean achievement – for surely this has a claim to being one of Bags’s best-ever solos? (Richard Palmer) *****


This is a joint venture between Scott’s and Gearbox Records and presents an 18-minute performance by Ronnie Scott on the 1612 Overture. Ronnie must have given Les Tompkins permission to record this on his Ferrograph but had probably forgotten about it on the night. At any rate he and the quartet play up a storm, Ronnie showing masterful control of the tenor saxophone, carving out a long and inventive solo that only occasionally nods to the innovations of John Coltrane. Tracey and the rhythm boys swing like crazy throughout. On side 2 we get a 16-minute interview with Ronnie by Tomkins, talking about the early days of the club and how it all came about. Fascinating stuff and some really good jazz from the original Gerrard Street club. (Derek Ansell) ****

Sir Charles Thompson lived in Japan from 1987-97. Before returning to Los Angeles he was featured in this tribute album accompanied by his admiring Japanese friends and musical colleagues. Yoshio Toyama and his band provide an accomplished and tastefully swinging setting in swing/mainstream style, showing great respect for the veteran pianist (aged 79 at the time). The repertoire acknowledges the famous Vanguard sessions with Dickenson, Braff and Hall, and also his association over the years with the likes of Lester Young, Hawkins, Basie and Hampton. It all makes for very enjoyable listening. (Hugh Rainey) ****

GARY WILLIS: RETRO (Abstract Logix ABLX038)
It says retro and the set list features For All We Know (Fred Coots, 1934) but otherwise it’s post-60s modernity with tunes from Bill Evans (We Will Meet Again), Ralph Towner (Amaryllis), Lennon & McCartney (Norwegian Wood) and Milton Nascimento (Tarde) plus Willis’s up-to-the-minute funky modal originals. Willis sounds like Pastorius but the notes are mostly his own. He’s been teaching at Barcelona’s Escola Superior de Musica since leaving the States some years ago, but removal from Hipsville, USA has not diminished his music a bit. His outstanding European rhythm mates in this dynamic, creative trio don’t even need sight of the NY skyline. (Mark Gilbert) *****

At just 35, German pianist Michael Wollny has already begun to make his mark on the jazz landscape. The mildly dystopian fantasias of Wunderkammer revealed a wonderfully rich imagination, his searching dialogues with Joachim Kühn and Heinz Sauer showcased a great improvisational élan, whilst the visceral post-rock energies of acclaimed trio [em] display a deep-seated preoccupation with the here and now. Weltentraum takes its title from Mahler’s notion of the composer as creator of musical dream worlds, and in many respects it neatly describes the pianist’s modus operandi. Intended as a portfolio of Wollny’s self-declared “standards”, the trio touches base with Berg, Hindemith, Rihm, Nietzsche, David Lynch and Pink in a kaleidoscopic hour. (Fred Grand) ****


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