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 April 2014 (see below for excerpts):
Acuña/Hoff/Mathisen: Barxeta (Losen 118-2)
Julian Argüelles: Circularity    (Cam Jazz 7872-2)
Bad Ass Brass: Bad Ass Brass Live (Bad Ass 002)
Chet Baker: Chet Baker Quintette (Crown 013)
Tarun Balani: Sacred World (
Samuel Blaser: A Mirror To Machaut (Songlines 1604)
Bodrato/Battaglia/Massaria/Furia: Bartleby The Scrivener (Evil Rabbit 19)
Peter Brendler/John Abercrombie: The Angle Below (SteepleChase 31767)
Kenny Burrell: The Bluesin' Around Sessions (Essential Jazz Classics 55619)
John Carisi: The Music Of John Carisi – Israel (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 817)
Arnett Cobb: Blues & Ballads (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 813)
Ornette Coleman: Four Classic Albums (Avid AMSC 1108)
Carsten Dahl/Arild Andersen/Jon Christensen: Under The Rainbow (Storyville 101 4287)
Carsten Dahl Experience: Reveréntia (Storyville 101 4285)
Walt Dickerson: Complete New Jazz Recordings (Solar 4569942)
Harris Eisenstadt: Golden State (Songlines SGL 1602-2)
Steve Fishwick: When Night Falls (Hard Bop Records 33009)
Jimmy Giuffre: The Jimmy Giuffre 3 (Warner 8122797141)
Jimmy Giuffre: The Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet (Warner 8122796696)
Jimmy Giuffre: Trav'lin' Light (Warner 8122796925)
Tord Gustavsen: Extended Circle (ECM 376 0239)
Scott Hamilton: Dean Street Nights (Woodville 141)
Hammond Eggs: Back In The Pan (In + Out IOR CD 77018-2)
Joel Harrison/Anupam Shobhakar: Leave The Door Open (Whirlwind WR4646)
Tubby Hayes: Tubby's New Groove (Candid CJ S9554)
David Hazeltine: Impromptu (Chesky JD360)
Abdullah Ibrahim: Mukashi - Once Upon A Time (Intuition INT 34312)
Aaron Irwin: Ordinary Lives (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 442)
Keefe Jackson: A Round Goal (Delmark DE 5009)
Keith Jarrett: Arbour Zena (ECM 375 2752)
Keith Jarrett/Dennis Russell Davies: Ritual (ECM 374 3517)
Bill Jennings: Architect Of Soul Jazz (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 816)
Plas Johnson: This Must Be The Plas! + Mood For The Blues (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 818)
Mike Jones: Plays Well With Others (Capri 74126)
Quincy Jones: Harry Arnold + Big Band = Jazz (Phoenix 131589)
Lee Konitz: The Real Lee Konitz (Warner 8122797137)
Nils Landgren: Eternal Beauty (ACT 9562-2)
Vic Lewis: Plays Bossa Nova At Home (London) And Away (Hollywood) (EMI CLP 1641)
Chuck Mangione: Love Notes/Disguise/Save Tonight For Me (Beat Goes On 1112)
Charlie Mariano/Tete Montoliu: It's Standard Time Vol. 1 (Fresh Sound FSR 5021)
Brad Mehldau & Mark Guiliana: Mehliana: Taming The Dragon (Nonesuch 536645)
Pat Metheny Unity Group: Kin (<->) (Nonesuch 400219)
Bill Mobley: Black Elk's Dream (Space Time BG 1337)
Modern Jazz Quartet: The Comedy + Lonely Woman (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55615)
Możdżer/Danielsson/Fresco: Polska (ACT 9557-2)
Patti Page: All My Love (Retrospective 4235)
Johnnie Pate Trio: Complete Recordings (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 814)
Oscar Peterson: Three Classic Albums Plus, Second Set (Avid AMSC 1109)
Noah Preminger/M Kamaguchi/R Garcia: Background Music (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 430)
Project Them: Project Them (Miles High 8622)
Rêve Bohème: Django Goes North (Calibrated Music CALI127)
Stephen Riley: Lover (SteepleChase 31765)
Sam Rivers: Contrasts (ECM 374 3508)
Cynthia Sayer: Joyride (Plunk P222)
Horace Silver: The Tokyo Blues + Horace-Scope (Master Jazz 8892864)
Gary Smulyan: Bella Napoli (Capri 74129)
Sonny Stitt: Low Flame + Feelin's (Essential Jazz Classics 55616)
Ira Sullivan: Blue Skies (Delmark DE 5010)
John Taylor: In Two Minds (Cam Jazz 7868-2)
Threeway: Looking Forward, Looking Back (Jazz Cat 115)
Mel Tormé: Swingin' On The Moon + Comin' Home Baby! (Master Jazz 8892866)
Warren Vaché/Alan Barnes: "The Cobbler's Waltz" (Woodville 140)
Various: Doctor Jazz: Dinnertime For Hungry Collectors (Doctor Jazz DJ 010 I-II)
Various: Modern Brass Bands In New Orleans 1990-2005 (Frémeaux & Associés FA 5413)
Ben Webster: Live In Hilversum 1970 (Domino 891223)
Scott Wendholt/Adam Kolker: Andthem (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 427)
Joe Wilder: Such A Beautiful Sound (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 812)
Norma Winstone: Dance Without Answer (ECM 374 3047)
Lester Young: Jazz Giants ’56 (Phoenix 131593)

Excerpts from the 69 CD reviews in this issue (full print reviews run up to 300 words and include discography):

Right from the start of Triality, when Dave Holland’s thick- toned introductory riff is soon joined by Martin France’s kicking drums and John Taylor’s demonstrative piano, you know you are in for something special. If you want one word to describe this set, it is intelligence, both in its often-detailed compositions and in the response of the musicians to them. All eight compositions here are by Argüelles and all make high demands of this group. They rise to the occasion magnificently. (Simon Adams) ****

An hour or so of thoughtful yet also invigorating chamber jazz: on Half Dozen, Abercrombie dirties his tone a touch in rockish sync with a strong groove from Brendler, but mostly the sounds and moods here are mellow – now harmonically open, now intriguingly structured, the interplay marked equally by rhythmic empathy, spatial awareness and variously textured detail. Some 35 years the bassist’s senior, Abercrombie was a major influence during Brendler’s time at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. (Michael Tucker) ****

Kenny Burrell has always been my favourite guitarist, and I’m in good company, for he was also Duke Ellington’s. Burrell made remarkable albums of Ellington compositions, so it’s no surprise that here Mood Indigo is reinvigorated, graced by that superbly conservative guitar and some of the best Illinois Jacquet tenor that you’ll ever hear. In the midst of trying to acquire all Burrell's many albums, I’ve yet to hear a bad performance from him. The star system shows its limitation in this case because whilst there are many greater jazz albums than this one, it could not have been given less than five of the wretched things. (Steve Voce) *****

Johnny Carisi’s name will always be associated with Israel – his highly original take on the 12-bar form premiered by the ground-breaking Miles Davis nonet in 1949. He revisits it here with his own Jazz Workshop as well as on a chart for Gerry Mulligan’s CJB. A few years ago Ray Passman added a lyric which has been recorded by the delightful Meredith d’Ambrosio among others under the title It’s Your Dance. This comprehensive retrospective of Johnny Carisi – “One of the most unsung people in the history of music” according to Bob Brookmeyer – is most welcome. It should help focus attention on a vital but sometimes overlooked contributor to the celebrated Birth Of The Cool project. (Gordon Jack) *****

What first attracted me to Coleman’s music most strongly were certain similarities to Paul Desmond, specifically that joyful unspooling of long-form melodies and a lightness of rhythm. There was also swooningly beautiful melancholy in compositions like Lonely Woman. Most crucial was his very clear deep rootedness in bop and blues, whilst his mimicry of human sobs and laughter harks back to even earlier forms. All these virtues are well displayed on this set. Avid’s mastering has done full justice to the original Atlantic engineering, which customarily produced a wonderful fat bass sound as well as capturing the nuances of the sax and trumpet tones. (Barry Witherden) *****


Steve Fishwick and Osian Roberts went to New York in 2007 where they met up with saxophonist Frank Basile. Their approaches and ideas blended and it was mooted that they should record together. This eventually happened last year when thanks to Art Council funding Basile came over to the UK for an eight-date tour during which this excellent disc was produced. Indeed the six musicians work and blend so well it sounds as if they have been a unit forever. The CD was recorded at Derek Nash’s Clowns Pocket studio, thus guaranteeing superb sound. The five tunes cover most of the hard-bop bases in a most enjoyable manner. Highly recommended. (Brian Robinson) *****

JIMMY GIUFFRE: JIMMY GIUFFRE CLARINET (Warner 8122796696) THE JIMMY GIUFFRE 3 (Warner 8122797141) TRAV’LIN’ LIGHT (Warner 8122796925)
The later 50s were Giuffre’s most productive period on disc as leader, with 16 releases 1955-60, most of them for Atlantic, many of them classics. Then, as Graham Lock described in a memorable interview with Giuffre for The Wire, the jazz police caught up with him and he never achieved anything like that productivity or exposure again. His finest group was probably with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow, many of whose free-jazz recordings from the early 60s had to wait years for their release. If that was the summit of his artistic achievement, the Atlantic recordings fell not far short. Three of them appear here in the Warner 1000YEN issue series. Giuffre always pushed at the boundaries of jazz, always searching out new artistic opportunities. He was one of the great spirits of the music. (Andy Hamilton) *****

This is Gustavsen’s sixth album for ECM, the title referring, as he says, “to the completion of a ‘double circle’ of trilogies”, the first of these with the trio on Changing Places, The Ground and Being There, and the second with the quartet on Restored, Returned, and The Well, and it shows his affinity for sacred music on several tracks, including the influence of an old Norwegian hymn, a liturgical mass for choir, and gospel music, so it’s pretty eclectic in this sense. The resulting music sounds less eclectic, and perhaps because of some of its sacred influences it tends to have a restrained feeling in the moments where the music starts to build in intensity. Overall it’s a very enjoyable album, if quite uneventful, and lacking some variety in approach to the material. (Dave Jones) ***

It’s actually not dominated by Hammond, nor is it the organ trio one might expect, although the core is the trio of Huber, Landsberger and Morello. Rather, it’s a tight combo mixing Europeans with leading American guests on the ever-funky Freiburg-based label In+Out, still bucking the trend towards the abstract and reflective in German music issued under the jazz banner. The material is mostly swinging or funky, rendered European in the minor waltz Too Late Now and the Reinhardt tribute For Django. But otherwise it’s pretty much new-yorkais. Guitarist Morello has a lot – in tone, speed and phrasing – of Pat Martino’s hard-bop style and it doesn’t get more Manhattan than Brecker and Mintzer.Those who’ve liked organ-backed excursions by Jerry Bergonzi, dug the organ bands of Larry Goldings or Barbara Dennerlein, or just enjoy a plain funky, bluesy workout ought to find plenty of common cause in this warm, affirmative hour or so. (Mark Gilbert) ****


Some recordings on the ACT label have the uncanny knack of getting underneath the skin of a performance and presenting something exceptional. This one from Nils Landgren is very much one of those recordings. There is a real sense of integrity to the music presented here, as if all 14 tracks mean something personally to Landgren, and that honesty certainly comes across in his restrained delivery of the wide-ranging material gathered for this album. Backed by some exceptionally talented musicians, Landgren successfully delivers the goal he set out to achieve: “Just us playing simple and beautiful melodies simply and beautifully”. It’s very much a case of mission accomplished on this wonderfully crafted album of restrained elegance. (John Adcock) *****

What’s it like? In a word, dystopian. In two words, prog rock. The qualities that are most closely associated with Mehldau’s music are absent – deliberately so – with soaring melody and classical touch replaced by doomy reverb on the top line and supermassive drumming below. It’s like Medeski, Martin & Wood have been put on steroids to make them even heavier, albeit with the side effect of reducing their groove factor. But maybe the biggest problem with the Mehliana album is that it has Brad Mehldau’s name on it. Mehldau is so identified with a fresh, open style that casts light wherever it goes - from trio to orchestral settings - that it comes as a shock to hear such an oppressive, introspective sound. Had someone else, someone unknown, made this record, it would be easier to cast it as new and interesting – rather than be left feeling a little disappointed. (Garry Booth) ***

PAT METHENY UNITY GROUP: KIN (<->) (Nonesuch 400219)
I’m sure that there are legions of fans who miss the smooth sophistication of the much-loved but latterly moribund Pat Metheny Group, but the genius of Kin is that its well-measured balance of ingredients refreshes the PMG sound. In a riot of maximalist colour, hummable melodies peacefully coalesce with the more adventurous acoustic tangents explored on Day Trip (2005), the Mehldau sessions and Unity Band. The writing is top-notch throughout, particularly on the irresistibly upbeat anthem We Go On. Genealogy gives a short but explosive nod to Ornette, whilst On Day One conquers the long form with cinematic panache. A five-star album (and I don’t award such accolades lightly), Kin is a beautifully crafted work that squares a perennially problematic circle by combining the spontaneity of a players’ band with intuitive accessibility. (Fred Grand) *****

The consistent and surpassing excellence of John Taylor, surely one of the most literate musicians of recent decades, is a thing of wonder. Packaged with some fine photos and a short but evocative sleeve-note by Brian Morton, In Two Minds finds the pianist at the top of his game. His typically questing, melodically nuanced breadth and depth of harmonic idiom – and suppleness of rhythm – serve both a generous handful of striking originals and characterful pieces by old running mate Kenny Wheeler (Phrase The Second, 3/4 pm) and Duke Ellington (Reflections In D). There’s always a lovely, often dancing sense of air and light at the heart of his lines. Diverse in matters of touch, drive and dynamics, the programme is uniformly excellent. Don't miss this one. (Michael Tucker) *****

American star cornettist Warren Vaché is paired here with the outstanding British reedsman Alan Barnes for a second time on Woodville records. The excellent rhythm section is well known for providing regular UK backing in Scott Hamilton’s quartet. In an interesting and varied programme, everything swings along very happily, with exemplary backing from the rhythm section, including impressive solo contributions from Pearce and Green. Warren contributes three originals, and a couple of gruff, humorous vocals which are great fun and indicative of the prevailing feelgood atmosphere. The album represents creative, swinging middle-of-the-road jazz of the finest order, and is a delight throughout. (Hugh Rainey) *****

Doctor Jazz, the magazine from The Netherlands, celebrates its 50th anniversary with the release of this two-CD set of rare and unissued performances. That this set will appeal to collectors of classic jazz and big bands will be apparent from the track listing. That is the more so, as much of what is offered is not available elsewhere or only on LP albums. The booklet provided with the set has biographies of the participating bandleaders and a complete discography of all the tracks. There are also some interesting illustrations. Space considerations prevent me from including full personnels but these are in the discography. With good sound quality and generous playing times, this set deserves the full five stars that I have allocated. (George Hulme) *****

The third album by this trio of vocals, clarinet/sax and piano is a thoughtful, evocative piece, with Gesing in particular defining the tone with his many wheeling, soaring solos on soprano sax. His sound is by turns insistent as the squeal of a bird, by turns floating easily beneath Winstone’s steady, understated vocal. With its cerebral, intro- spective atmosphere and themes of loss and identity, the album is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell’s 1968 debut, Songs To A Seagull. Kermit’s classic lament Bein’ Green, a favourite of the band who are “all staunch Muppet fans” according to Winstone, is an inspired inclusion: only a little tongue-in-cheek, it’s delivered like the end-of-night ballad round a spotlighted piano, a moment of quiet revelation. (Sally Evans-Darby) ***


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