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 September 2014 (see below for excerpts):
Aaltonen, Juhani: To Future Memories (TUM 036)
Abbott, Bea: The Too, Too Marvellous (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 825)
Adderley, Cannonball: Sophisticated Swing (Cheese Cake 8240)
Adolfo, Antonio: Rio, Choro, Jazz… (AAM 0706)
Aldana, Melissa: The Crash Trio (Concord 35281)
Alexander, Eric: Chicago Fire (HighNote 7262)
Allen, JD: Bloom (Savant 2139)
Aquino, Luca: Aqustico (Tŭk 114)
Armstrong, Louis: And His Friends (Boplicity 025)
Ashby, Dorothy: Four Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz 1120)
Babs, Alice: What A Joy (Prophone 147)
Baldych, Adam/Herman: The New Tradition (ACT 9626)
Basin Street Brawlers: It's Tight Like That! (JohnJohn 006)
Beck, Joe: Get Me Joe Beck (Whaling City Sound 058)
Bentzon, Nikolaj: Live At Montmartre (Storyville 1018451)
Broadbent, Alan/NDR Bigband: America The Beautiful (Jan Matthies 201401)
Brookmeyer, Bob: Stretching Out (DreamCovers 6083)
Brubeck, Dave: Countdown - Time In Outer Space (American Jazz Classics 99095)
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: The L.A. Treasures Project (Capri 74132)
Coryell, Larry/Alphonse Mouzon: Back Together Again (Warner 81227960049)
Davis, Eddie "Lockjaw"/Don Patterson Quintet: Complete Recordings (Groove Hut 66720)
Davis, Miles: 1958 Miles (DreamCovers 6084)
Davis, Miles/Quartet: 1951 - 1957 Studio Recordings (American Jazz Classics 99092)
Davis, Miles/Quintet: The Complete 1960 Holland Concerts (Green Corner 100890)
Davis, Miles/Quintet With John Coltrane: Live In Saint Louis 1957 (RLR 88770)
Dvorak, Jim: Cherry Pickin' (SLAM 294)
Ellington, Duke: A Drum Is A Woman (Cheese Cake 8241)
Ellington, Duke: In Gröna Lund 1963 (Storyville 1038330)
Epstein, Peter: Polarities (Songlines 1607)
Getz, Stan/Chet Baker: Stan Meets Chet (Essential Jazz Classics 55639)
Giuffre, Jimmy: New York Concerts (Elemental 5990425)
Gjermundrød, Svein: Kitten On The Funkies (Losen 125)
Goodman, Benny: Benny In Brussels (Phoenix 131601)
Goodman, Benny: Live At Basin Street East (American Jazz Classics 99090)
Gordon, Dexter: Soy Califa (Gearbox 1526 – vinyl)
Gray, Wardell: Way Out Wardell (Boplicity 014)
Hamilton, Scott: Plays With The Dany Doriz Caveau De La Huchette Orchestra (Frémeaux 599)
Harriott, Joe: Southern Horizons; Free Form; Abstract (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 826)
Hawkins, Alexander: Song Singular (Babel 13120)
Hawkins, Alexander: Step Wide, Step Deep (Babel 13124)
Hawkins, Coleman: The Lost 1950 Munich Concert (Solar 4569946)
Heath, Jimmy/Big Band: Togetherness (Jazz Legacy 1201022)
Hersch, Fred: Floating (Palmetto 2171)
Higgs, Paul: Pavane (Toucan Tango 016)
Hodges, Johnny/Earl Hines: Complete Recordings (Solar 4569947)
Howe, Dylan: Subterranean (Motorik 1004)
Hubbard, Freddie: Keep Your Soul Together/Polar AC/Skagly (Beat Goes On 1144)
Jamal, Ahmad: Complete 1962 At The Blackhawk (Essential Jazz Classics 55637)
Jamal, Ahmad: Complete Live At The Spotlite Club (Phoenix 131604)
James, José: While You Were Sleeping (Blue Note No Number)
Kappeler/Zumthor: Babylon-Suite (ECM 375 9741)
Lambert, Dave/Jon Hendricks: Sing And Swing Alone With…/Evolution Of The Blues Song (Él ACMEM269)
Land, Harold: Choma (Burn) (Boplicity 026)
Lauer, Christof/NDR Bigband: Petite Fleur (ACT 9567)
Liebman, Dave/Phil Markowitz: Manhattan Dialogues (Zoho 200508)
Matinier, Jean-Louis/Marco Ambrosini: Inventio (ECM 375 9429)
Maurseth, Benedicte/Åsne Valland Nordli: Over Tones (ECM 376 8880)
May, Tina: My Kinda Love (Hep 2101)
McRae, Carmen: For Once In My Life (Warner 81227971540)
Øiseth, Hildegunn: Valencia (Losen 121)
Pechloff, Kathrin: Imaginarium (Pirouet 3073)
Pédron, Pierrick: Kubic's Cure (ACT 9554)
Persson, Anders: The Second Time Around (Imogena 197)
Phillips, Len/Big Band: Our Kind Of Music (RAZ 001)
Pizzarelli, Bucky: Three For All (Chesky 362)
Primitive Arkestra Live: Dolphy's Hat (SLAM 549)
Reilly, Jack: Here's What I Like! (Unichrom 1015)
Reilly, Jack: Innocence (Unichrom 2010)
Reilly, Jack: Tzu-Jan The Sound Of The Tarot - Vol.2 (Unichrom 9003)
Shearing, George: Four Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz 1117)
Sosa, Omar: Promise (Skip 9068)
Strayhorn, Billy: Out Of The Shadows (Storyville 108 8614)
Thomas, Leon: Blues And The Soulful Truth (Beat Goes Public 277)
Timmens, Jim: Porgy And Bess; Showboat; Gilbert & Sullivan; Hallelujah! Spirituals (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 822)
Various: Le Label Swing - Premières Années 1937-1939 (Frémeaux 5424)
Vaughan, Sarah: Songs Of The Beatles (Warner 81227959876)
Williams, Mary Lou: The First Lady In Jazz 1927-1957 (Frémeaux 5449)
Young, Lester: The Complete Aladdin Recordings (Phoenix 131605)

Excerpts from the 78 CD reviews in this issue (full print reviews run up to 300 words and include discography - subscribe here):

Bea Abbott joins the ranks of the many talented jazz or jazz-influenced singers who made one LP in the 1950s or 60s and then vanished without trace. She went to NYC at age 18 and secured a job singing with the Boyd Raeburn Orchestra. She was noticed and offered a recording contract with Westminster Records and made this session with Hal Otis’s combo. Although she continued singing in bars and small clubs, she was virtually forgotten by 2007, when she died aged 82. Bea Abbott deserved to be far better known, and joins the ranks of the gifted but neglected 50s jazz divas that Jordi Pujol keeps discovering. (Derek Ansell) ***

At 27, Polish violinist Adam Baldych plays with the maturity and depth of feeling of someone with twice the amount of life experience. In addition, he is also a sensitive and talented composer, evidenced by the inclusion of several intricate but accessible songs on this stunning album. There is a questioning but lyrical quality to the music and as Baldych makes clear in the CD liner notes, he is interested in tradition, where he is from and where he is headed. Much of the album’s magic is down to the wonderful playing of Yaron Herman. The Paris-based Israeli pianist is absolutely pitch perfect with his performance, offering just the right amount of light and shade as the mood of the album switches between joy, reflection, loss and questioning. (John Adcock) *****


New Zealander Alan Broadbent is joined here on this salute to his adopted country by the NDR Big Band. It has proved over the years in collaborations with Michael Gibbs, Joe Pass and Chet Baker to be one of the finest big bands performing today. All the material here except for the title track was composed by Alan Broadbent who is not only an outstanding pianist but is also a writer of uncommon originality. (Gordon Jack) *****


The Brookmeyer cartel find that it’s easy money to move into the Kansas City idiom. This is the real extension of what Basie, Lester Young, Buck Clayton and the others were doing. This was a wonderful period for Brookmeyer when his style had matured and he was able to use the valve trombone with a fluency that escaped other exponents. And yet when I asked him about it he said that looking back he found his playing at the time, including the squeezed half-valve notes “embarrassing”. When pressed he owned up that it had been “fun”. This is an outstanding album. The reminders that we lived through the best age of jazz are getting a bit mournful now. (Steve Voce) *****


This Swedish performance for dancers contains several pieces not recorded during the European concert tour four months earlier. These include Gonsalves rhapsodising on Laura and joining Nance for the last recorded version of Mr Gentle And Mr Cool. Hamilton’s feature on Deep Purple is also uncommon as is Ericson’s on Lullaby Of Birdland. But still more rewarding than those is the evidence that Nance, Hodges and the piano player were all inspired by the occasion. Nance departs significantly from his usual ‘A’ Train solo and on Black And Tan comes up with some extraordinarily passionate phrases which bring shouts of approval from his colleagues. Sound quality and presentation are excellent and Storyville are to be congratulated on this release. (Graham Colombé) *****


After the highpoints of Fusion, Thesis and Free Fall in 1961-62, Jimmy Giuffre’s career stalled, his trio with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow disbanding when they made only 35 cents each one night. His discography for the rest of the decade is sparse – indeed he would not return to the studio until 1972 – which makes the first appearance of these two live sets all the more pleasing. All the compositions are by Giuffre, except Ornette Coleman’s Crossroads, and both sets are determinedly, sometimes harshly abstract. Yet Giuffre was also quite traditional in many ways, sticking to the old-fashioned theme and variations approach. Paul Bley remarks in the sleeve notes that “Giuffre’s curse was always to be ahead of the game.” He certainly is here, for this austere, beautiful music sounds almost timeless. These two sets are a fine addition to his catalogue. (Simon Adams) *****


There is no one more interesting around at the moment. Hawkins’ work runs from free to the fringes of organ-based acid jazz, though neither designation quite demarcates his range or gives a flavour of his dense but soulful writing. It’s difficult to give a clear sense of how Hawkins’ music works beyond a sense that like Trevor Watts’ Moiré projects or some of the Afro-British jazz of the 70s and 80s (Louis Moholo-Moholo is now a regular doubles partner), Hawkins likes to overlay multiple lines in and out of obvious phase, so each piece has a stratified effect and little of the usual Buggins’ turn of themes and solos. It’s remarkable stuff, whatever the case. (Brian Morton) ****


One of the last surviving beboppers – he celebrated his 85th birthday a few days before this Blue Note gig – Jimmy Heath has retained his musicality in all departments. His writing, playing and directing remains untarnished by time and as perceptive as ever. This 2011 edition of his ensemble is stuffed with talent and his orchestrations are beautifully crafted with unusual and surprising touches, like his deployment of several flutes playing in unison. His own work on both tenor and soprano is well up to par, with an especially felicitous account on tenor of Billy Strayhorn’s A Flower Is A Lonesome Thing. A session that has loads more to commend it and amounts to impressive testimony to the enduring artistry of Jimmy Heath and a career of almost 70 years. (Mark Gardner) *****


Pavane fuses classical with jazz, an approach that often fails to captivate listeners. However, in this case it is a success. The 11 titles are written in song form in a classical style with the emphasis on melody and counterpoint. The participants consist of a jazz ensemble with classical guitarist Andy Watson and a string section including a cello. Higgs’ trumpet tone is pure and impressive on all tracks, including a reflective The Glow Of Evening and the Spanish-tinged Catalonia with its hints of the Catalan Sardana dance. Vale And Valley has more of an underlying jazz pulse and the intriguing lilting swing of Shadows And Desire is a musical joy. Everything works well – just don’t expect any uptempo thrashes. (Brian Robinson) ****


Drummer Dylan Howe has long been fascinated by David Bowie’s mid-1970s Berlin trilogy of Low, Heroes and Lodger. He decided to rework some of their songs for a jazz quintet, the multiple sessions and overdubs resulting in his first studio set in 10 years. Wisely, he’s used Bowie’s songs as vehicles for improvisation, with widely differing results. At first, the sound is ponderously synth-heavy but slowly the individual solos come to the fore, saxophonist Brandon Allen in particular making his mark. Perhaps because Howe has avoided all the obvious Bowie tracks there is little here that immediately jumps out, but that fact strengthens, not weakens, this quietly impressive set. (Simon Adams) ****


Saxophone/piano duos can be lacklustre affairs and that “dialogues” flagging is only a step ahead of “conversation” or “alone together” in terms of marketing cliché. But these are burningly good performances, made in concert at the Manhattan School of Music. Lieb does great things with the ii-V-I sequence of The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, alluding to Trane’s version but taking it on a step. The originals are feeling and strong and even ’Round Midnight earns its place. (Brian Morton) ****


Tina May has so many qualities that it is hard to know where to begin. She is comfortable in almost any setting, from big band to small group, singing standards and jazz works, bringing jazz sensibilities to music from other genres. Throughout, she is cushioned by an exceptional group of musicians whose playing is more than merely supportive; it is also thoroughly integrated with the singer’s vocal sound, which is warm, rich and mature. The very well taken solo moments include Pearce (eloquent on several tracks), Mayne on My Kinda Love and Gavita and Thomson on I Wish I Knew. A remarkably good album by an exceptional singer. (Bruce Crowther) *****


This will be a delight for lovers of jazz guitar. Two excellent players, plus Bucky Pizzarelli, who must rank as the best acoustic jazz guitar player in the world today, working their way through a dozen standards plus one original composition. The three musicians play as a marvellously integrated trio, mainly, but there are also duets. The album gives the impression of three players simply coming together in a studio and playing whatever came to mind. Both John Pizzarelli and Ed Laub have been pupil associates of Bucky Pizzarelli for many years and the closeness of their musical relationship really comes across. It’s difficult to think of more to say, so get the album, sit back, relax and enjoy! (Jerry Brown) *****


Not a new release as such, but this vibrant 2006 date by Sosa’s “Afreecanos” quartet gets a welcome reissue. In this concert recorded at the NDR studios, the Cuban maestro’s ancient to the future pan-global approach was already starting to hit its stride. African rhythms and timbres freely coalesce with orthodox jazz harmonies, and both flautist Leandro Saint-Hill and the ever-laconic Fresu drop by for several highly effective cameos. It’s an intoxicatingly detail-rich musical tapestry, and Sosa’s panoramic pianism is the “golden thread” that binds it all together. (Fred Grand) ****


Young’s recordings for Aladdin have been issued in complete form or in part on a number of occasions and much has been written about their merits, citing the saxophonist’s traumatic time in the army as a reason for theses sides not being up to scratch. However, to most ears he sounded in pretty good shape apart from a degree of hesitancy on the 1942 tracks. In addition there are a further eight items, also much issued, from the Lester Young trio which featured Cole and Rich. A minor annoyance is the continuing error of stating the final Aladdin recordings took place in 1947 and the omission of Snooky Young from the personnel details on the tracks with Helen Humes. (Peter Gamble) *****


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