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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 May 2014 (see below for excerpts):
Ambrose, Ari: Settling In (Steeplechase 31770)
Andersen, Arild/Paolo Vinaccia/Tommy Smith: Mira (ECM 372 8782)
Ayler, Albert: Live On The Riviera (ESP-Disk 4001)
Baker, Chet: The Best Of Chet Baker Sings (Disconforme CDX7727)
Balance: Acoustical Concepts (AC-48)
Barber, Chris: Just About As Good As It Gets! (Smith & Co 2496)
Blake, Betty: Complete Recordings 1957-1961 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 821)
Blake, Ran: Plays Solo Piano (ESP-Disk 1011)
Blakey, Art: Pisces (Solar 4569943)
Blue, Malaya: Bourbon Street (MEPCD006)
Bolling, Claude: Big Piano Orchestra Plays Ray Charles (Frémeaux & Associés 596)
Borla, Janice: Promises To Burn (Tall Grass 281)
Brubeck, Dave: Newport 1958 - Brubeck Plays Ellington (Phoenix 131590)
Burton, Gary: Seven Songs For Quartet And Chamber Orchestra (ECM 374 3516)
Canela, Carme/Joan Monné: Granito De Sal (Fresh Sound New Talent 439)
Catherine & Wind: New Folks (ACT 9621)
Cervini, Amy: Jazz Country (Anzic ANZ-0044)
Chaos Orchestra: Island Mentality (Chaos Collective CC002)
Charles, Ray: Ray Charles and Betty Carter + Dedicated To You (Essential Jazz Classics 55622)
Cherry, Don: Live In Stockholm (Caprice 21832)
Coltrane, John: The Complete November 18, 1961 Paris Concerts (In Crowd 996689)
Crump's, Stephan/Rosetta Trio: Thwirl (Sunnyside 1364)
Davidsen, Nils: Noget At Glaede Sig Til (ILK 217)
Dizack, Philip: Single Soul (Criss Cross 1363)
Dolphy, Eric: Four Classic Albums (Avid 1112)
Duo Art: Creating Magic (ACT 6014)
Fat Babies, The: 18th & Racine (Delmark 255)
Fredette, Carol: No Sad Songs For Me (Soundbrush 1028)
Freestone, Tori: In The Chop House (Whirlwind 4648)
Gadd, Steve: Gadditude (BFM Jazz 77055)
GoGo Penguin    : v2.0 (Gondwana 009)
Grenadier, Phil: Shimmer (Fresh Sound New Talent 437)
Harris, Sam: Interludes (Fresh Sound New Talent 435)
Holmström, Gilbert/New Quintet: Tiden Är Kort! (Moserobie 085)
Husband, Gary/Alex Machacek: Now (Abstract Logix 041)
Ibrahim, Abdullah: African Piano (JAPO 374 3552)
Jazz Makers/Jazz Five: The Jazz Makers/The Jazz Five (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 820)
Johnson, Max: The Invisible Trio (Fresh Sound New Talent 438)
Kirk, Roland: Four Classic Albums (Avid 1111)
Kliphuis, Tim: The Grappelli Album (Lowlands 005)
Krog, Karin/John Surman: Songs About This And That (Meantime 20)
Kronkvist, Fredrik: Brooklyn Playground (Connective 36529)
Levy, Jed: The Italian Suite (Steeplechase 31772)
Litton, Andrew: A Tribute To Oscar Peterson (BIS 2034)
Lloyd, Jon: Vanishing Points (33 Xtreme 002)
Mariano, Charlie/Tete Montoliu: It's Standard Time, Vol. 2 (Fresh Sound FSR 5022)
McKelle, Robin/The Flytones: Heart Of Memphis (Okeh 88883791202)
Mighty Mighty: See The Light (Schema 461)
Mingus, Charles: Oh Yeah (Essential Jazz Classics 55621)
Modern Jazz Quartet: NDR 60 Years Jazz Edition No. 4 (Moosicus 1304)
Mopti    Logic    Jazzland Recordings 374 856-2
Morgan, Lee/Clifford Jordan: Quintet, Live In Baltimore 1968 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 824)
Motis, Andrea/Joan Chamorro Quintet: Live At Jamboree_Barcelona (Swit 15)
Mraz, George/Viklicky: Together Again (ACT 9622)
Norvo, Red: Four Classic Albums (Avid 1110)
Parker, Evan/Joe McPhee: What/If/They Both Could Fly (Rune Grammofon 3149)
Pérez, Danilo: Panama 500 (Mack Avenue 1075)
Pilon, Romain: Colorfield (Whirlwind 4641)
Powell, Bud: Live At Birdland 1957 (Marshmallow 158)
Randi, Don: Feelin' Like Blues/Where Do We Go From Here? (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 819)
Rantala, Iiro: Anyone With A Heart ACT 9566)
Rebello, Jason: Anything But Look (Lyte 021)
Rodriguez, Alfredo: The Invasion Parade (Mack Avenue 1079)
Ross, Brandon/Stomu Takeishi: Revealing Essence (Sunnyside 1351)
Sakata, Akira/Giovanni Di Domenico: Iruman (Mbari 21)
Schwarz-Bart, Jacques: Jazz Racine Haiti (Motéma 233811)
Scott, Tom: Tom Scott & The L.A. Express/Tom Cat/New York Connection (BGO 1137)
Shorter, Wayne: Second Genesis + Wayning Moments (Essential Jazz Classics 55618)
Simcock, Gwilym: Instrumation (ACT 9564)
Sims, Zoot: At Birdland (Marshmallow 160)
Smith, Jamie: Kinesis (jamiealexandersmith.com)
Sosa, Omar: Senses (Otá 1026)
Sosa, Omar: Eggun (Otá 1024)
Stephens, Dayna: I'll Take My Chances (Criss Cross 1361)
Stillman, Loren/Bad Touch: Going Public (Fresh Sound New Talent 434)
Stockholm Jazz Orchestra & Martin Sjöstedt: In The Blink Of An Eye (Connective 36531)
Toussaint, Jean: Tate Song (Lyte 022)
Towner, Ralph/John Abercrombie: Five Years Later (ECM 374 3512)
Various: M Squad/Mike Hammer (Jazz In The Movies 1005)
Various: Johnny Staccato/The Man With The Golden Arm (Jazz In The Movies 1006)
Various: Over There! Sounds And Images Of Black Europe (Bear Family BCD 16020)
Various: 60 Years Of Jazz (Delmark DE916)
Vayenas, Nick: Some Other Time (Whirlwind 4640)
Vitous, Miroslav: Miroslav Vitous Group (ECM 374 3510)
Webster, Ben: In Norway (Storyville 1018433)


Excerpts from the 85 CD reviews in this issue (full print reviews run up to 300 words and include discography - subscribe here):

ARILD ANDERSEN/PAOLO VINACCIA/TOMMY SMITH: MIRA (ECM 372 8782)
It’s some time since I’ve heard Tommy Smith play with such freedom and unfettered imagination as he does on this superb session by one of the most compatible combos conceivable. Of course it’s not all about Tommy but about the near-miraculous synthesis of three top figures in European jazz displaying the kind of understanding that makes you believe in telepathy – or “the second sight” as it’s called in Mr Smith’s homeland. So much these days a man of arrangements and supreme discipline, here he takes on the role of football’s “libero”, a free-ranging player who can initiate movement, inspire development, respond instantly to the unexpected. (Anthony Troon) *****

RAN BLAKE: PLAYS SOLO PIANO (ESP-Disk 1011)

In the poem by Bob Marius that is included in this 50th anniversary edition ESP disc, Blake is linked to Tristano, Monk and Ives. Add Anton Webern and you begin to have some idea of how special a pianist Blake is. Recorded three years after The Newest Sound Around, his superb duo set with singer Jeanne Lee, Solo Piano offers four typically diverse yet equally striking Blake originals. Complete with the sleeve-note by Gunther Schuller and poem by Bob Marius, Solo Piano is a must for any enthusiast of one of the most refreshingly individual pianists in jazz. (Michael Tucker) *****

BETTY BLAKE: SINGS IN A TENDER MOOD (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 821)
It is remarkable how many very good female jazz singers made one or two LPs in the late 50s to early 60s and then disappeared. Maybe there wasn’t enough work to go round. Betty Ann Blake worked with Buddy Morrow’s band in 1956 and recorded two tracks with trumpeter John Plonsky’s combo at that time. Vibes man Teddy Charles set up a record date for her with Bethlehem in 1961 and that disc, with the title of this CD, makes up most of the material on offer here. This session was the Betty Blake debut and swansong in one. I find it extremely sad that Betty Blake died of cancer in 2001 aged 63, long forgotten. Credit is due to Jordi Pujol of Fresh Sound for bringing her considerable talent back to our notice. (Derek Ansell) *****

FAT BABIES: 18TH & RACINE (Delmark 255)
About a year ago I reviewed the debut album from this band and gave it four stars. I have added an extra one for their second CD indicating that this band, formed in 2010, has improved. Led by bass player Beau Sample, their major asset is Andy Schumm on cornet and alto whose playing goes from strength to strength. I mentioned last time the trombone of Dave Bock and this has improved by leaps and bounds. Obviously their regular gig at the Honky Tonk BBQ in Chicago has meant that they have become a real band with a cohesive and individual sound. All in all this is a really excellent album and probably the best new recording I have heard of classic or traditional style jazz for many a moon. (Jerry Brown) *****

TORI FREESTONE TRIO: IN THE CHOPHOUSE (Whirlwind 46-48)
If you are feeling somewhat jaded with tired old blues and bop licks or swing or New Orleans recreations, this might be just the jazz tonic you need. Here is a trio playing fresh compositions that are mainly melodic, stimulating and just right for improvising musicians. This is a tightly integrated trio in which Tori’s adventurous tenor sax lines mesh with Dave Manington’s bass and the drums of Tim Giles. The three work hand in glove to produce some fascinating improvised lines, always melodic, always swinging and always of interest to the alert listener. (Derek Ansell) *****

GOGO PENGUIN: v2.0 (Gondwana 009)
There’s syncopation and there’s syncopation and there’s GoGo Penguin. It seems to me that this much-heralded Manchester trio has discovered newer and subtler ways of creating interrupted rhythm and making it a centrepiece of their performance. Many of the earlier attempts to define jazz cited syncopation as the key element, but it has not remained in modernist times as its defining component. Yet listen here, for example, to the Penguins’ Kamaloka among other tracks and you’ll hear a sort of built-in syncopation that doesn’t jar but becomes a sort of thematic motif. They excite, uplift, and discover. You can’t ask more of three musicians. (Anthony Troon) ****

GARY HUSBAND & ALEX MACHACEK: NOW (Abstract Logix 041)
Gary Husband is best known for his vigorous drumming with a.o. Allan Holdsworth and Level 42, but in the last 20 years or so he’s foregrounded his piano playing, often of a surprisingly different ilk. He’s played funky synth-style with Billy Cobham, but in this duo set he plays unadorned piano and mostly follows the three Rs of contemporary piano jazz – reflective, rhapsodic and rubato. Machacek also takes a raincheck from his usually high-octane fusion approach to play reflective lines without distortion. There’s no lack of virtuosity however, the session rich in chromatic colour and complex structure. (Mark Gilbert) ****

THE JAZZ MAKERS/THE JAZZ FIVE (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 820)
This package unites two albums from the day when exporting British jazz was a task of Sisyphean proportions. In an attempt to alert American listeners to the fact that jazz over in dear old Blighty wasn’t all bowler hats and banjos, both the original albums (Ronnie Ross & Allan Ganley – The Jazz Makers, tracks 1-8, and The Jazz Five – The Hooter!, tracks 9-14) were intended for the US market. The message was that British modern jazz could hold its own with the best. The Ash-Klein band toured opposite Miles Davis in 1960, eliciting warm praise from the usually taciturn trumpeter, whilst the Jazz Makers ventured further still, traversing the US in a concert package that included Monk, Tristano and Cannonball Adderley. A slice of nostalgia perhaps, but these albums have stood the test of time they make an ideal introduction to the history of British modernism. (Simon Spillett) *****

ROLAND KIRK: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS (Avid Jazz AMSC1111)

Four fine LPs – Introducing, Kirk’s Work, We Free Kings and Domino – on two CDs at a price similar to a single disc offers very good value. Funk Underneath and Kirk’s Work are outstanding among the early tracks and Our Love Is Here To Stay is a solid ballad performance. Just listen to Roland’s three-sax section on Three In One Without The Oil and his tenor and manzello on Get Out Of Town. Best of all perhaps are the many surging explorations on (vocalised) flute on We Free Kings and Domino. Ira Sullivan, Wynton Kelly, Andrew Hill and Roy Haynes are among the sidemen. Haynes’s work on the final four tracks of Domino ensures an explosive, hard swinging ending. (Derek Ansell) ****

ANDREW LITTON: A TRIBUTE TO OSCAR PETERSON (BIS 2034)
Andrew Litton is a fast-rising classical conductor whose private passion is the work of Oscar Peterson. Litton discovered that classical pianist Steven Osborne had transcribed a number of OP’s solo performances, including Litton’s absolute favourite Little Girl Blue. And so was born this project, which is a feast of wonderful pianism and, of course, a noble memorial to one of jazz’s great figures. Forget at once any idea that Litton’s enterprise is a form of gimmick or empty kowtowing: devotion shines from his playing, but (as you’d expect) so also do instinctive pianism and individual phrasing. A record I shall gladly keep and play often, and I hope this is not the last such project Litton undertakes. (Richard Palmer) ****

LEE MORGAN/CLIFFORD JORDAN QUINTET: LIVE IN BALTIMORE 1968 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 824)
Morgan and Jordan first recorded alongside each other in 1957 but touched base with each other only very rarely thereafter. This 1968 date, therefore, must have constituted a rare treat for local jazzers in Baltimore who attended the gig at the Royal Arms produced under the auspices of the Left Bank Jazz Society. As one would imagine, this is essentially a blowing date, the programme hastily assembled and involving very little pre-preparation, so taking it on that level it should be regarded as a triumph for a quintet consisting of modern premiership musicians. It can be recommended to Morgan lovers who missed it the first time around, those who require a live example of Jordan close to his best, or any one else who loves those rounds of extended solos. (Peter Gamble) ****

ANDREA MOTIS/JOAN CHAMORRO/SCOTT HAMILTON: LIVE AT JAMBOREE BARCELONA (SWIT 15)
Joan Chamorro and Andrea Motis are well-known names on the Spanish and Catalan scenes; even non-jazz fans of my acquaintance are familiar with the names if not the music. Much of the renown is associated with Motis’s voice and youth (she was 18 at the time of this recording) but the musicians in the quintet deserve the plaudits too. Add Scott Hamilton to the mix and well, it’s something of a stellar line up. Given that this material has been repeatedly recorded by the great and the good, is the singer’s voice up to it? Well, yes. Put simply, it’s virtually impossible not to enjoy this album. Plus the DVD is a nice touch and despite the very occasional camera wobble is an opportunity to see just how good a time everybody was having on these two nights. (Dave Foxall) *****

BUD POWELL: LIVE AT BIRDLAND 1957 (Marshmallow 158)

This sensational discovery – a previously unknown page in the Bud Powell story – places the then 33-year-old pianist among younger companions, two of whom he had never recorded with previously nor ever would again. Yet in a solitary meeting, Powell’s driving accompaniment and probing solos would test the mettle of Donald Byrd and Phil Woods, both rising to the occasion in admirable fashion. Powell’s contributions may not be perfection or his very finest, but the juxtaposition of joy and tension that were hallmarks of his style are present in these intense performances. Perhaps not best Bud, but practically better than every other pianist’s best! Get it and savour the contents often. (Mark Gardner) *****

JASON REBELLO: ANYTHING BUT LOOK (Lyte 021)
Live, Jason Rebello and band are nothing less than one expects in the uplifting soul/funk mode that is their forte. They were in super form at last year’s Brecon jazz festival and, one hopes, will be while presenting this new album on tour. Rebello is ever fertile, his varied, feelgood tunes and their performances solidly structured and always thought through, his keyboard figures garlanding the rest of the music and never outstaying their welcome. This is happy music in Philip Larkin’s sense. (Nigel Jarrett) ****

GWILYM SIMCOCK: INSTRUMATION (ACT 9564)
Instrumation consists of two suites by Simcock. The influence of 20th century classical music is firmly ingrained in both suites, with the most animated tracks being Industrial (For Alan), which has some hints of Loose Tubes, and Dance! (For Ann) which sounds like an academically constructed version of Celtic folk music. Simcock’s writing for strings is excellent, particularly on Overture, where his voicings make an impressively large sound from just violin and cello. Overall, I felt that I’d heard quite a lot of the content of this album previously via other music, but it is a very good album, and is perhaps unique in contemporary terms in that it seems to sit very squarely between jazz and classical music of the past century or so. So what is it in terms of genre? Well, it doesn’t matter really, but at times I’d just like it to sound as though the musicians are having a little more fun. (Dave Jones) ****

 


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