Selected reviews


CDs and DVDs for review can be sent to the Ashford address under Subscriptions.  Do not send any other type of review material (e.g., books) but email for advice.


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 2015 (see below for excerpts):
Adderley, Cannonball/Miles Davis: Somethin' Else (Masterworks 21348)
Adderley, Cannonball/Sextet: Complete Live In Tokyo 1963 (Solar 4569956)
Albam, Manny/Hal Schaeffer: Jazz Goes To The Movies (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 855)
Albatrosh: Night Owl (Rune Grammofon 2165)
Allen, Harry/Jan Lundgren: Quietly There (Stunt 14142)
Balcazar, Jp: Reversible (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 463)
Bennett, Tony: Tony (Dream Covers 6090)
Benson, George: Give Me The Night (Warner Bros HS3453/PPAN HS3453, vinyl)
Benson, George: Body Talk (CTI 6033, vinyl)
Berg, Espen: Acres Of Blue (Aklang 308)
Charles, Ray: Genius + Soul = Jazz + The Genius Of… (Masterworks 21341)
Charles, Ray: Genius Loves Company (Warner 825646203017)
Clay, James: Tenorman (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 853)
Danish Radio Big Band: A Good Time Was Had By All (Storyville 1088616)
Eagles, Samuel: Next Beginning (F-IRECD 72)
Ellington, Duke: The Complete Newport 1958 Performances (American Jazz Classics 99117)
Evergreen Classic Jazz Band: The Early Tunes 1915-1932 (Jump 12-37)
Farmers By Nature: Love And Ghosts (AUM Fidelity 89/90)
Farnon, Nicola: Hitting The Right Note (NJF 0045)
Farnon, Nicola: Here I Go Again (Jazz Yorkshire, no number)
Garcia's, Alex/Afromantra: This Side Of Mestizaje (AfroMantra 845121071368)
Garland, Red: Swingin' On The Korner (Elemental 5990426)
Garnett, Alex: Andromeda (Whirlwind 4664)
Gordon, Dexter: Go + A Swingin' Affair (Masterworks 21342)
Grimes, Tiny: Blues Groove 1958-1959 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 644)
Guaraldi, Vince: Cast Your Fate To The Wind/Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus (Essential Jazz Classics 55659)
Hamilton, Jeff: Great American Songs (Capri Limited Edition 71005)
Hamilton, Scott/Rein De Graaff: Live At The Jazzroom Breda (Jazzroom Breda 15175)
Hand, Peter: Out Of Hand (Savant 2141)
Hayes, Tubby: Archive Volume 03 - Rumpus (Savage-Solveig 003)
Heatley, Spike: Live At Fleece Jazz 2014 (Renella 004)
Humair, Daniel: Quatre Fois Trois (Label Bleu 6619)
Ibrahim, Abdullah: The Song Is My Story (Intuition 3442)
Iyer, Vijay: Break Stuff (ECM 470 8937)
Kauflin, Justin: Dedication (Jazz Village 579003)
Kerr, Trudy: Best Of/Contemplation (Jazzizit 1463)
Lateef, Yusef: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1147)
Lateef, Yusef: Detroit Latitude 42° 30' Longitude 83° (Warner 8122795767)
Lindeborg, Susanna: California Connection (LJ Records 5258)
Lindeborg, Susanna: Sudden Meeting (LJ Records 5257)
Machito: Kenya + With Flute To Boot (Malanga Music 827)
Mance, Junior: Jubilation (Sackville 2046)
Matveeva, Angelica: Vocalese (Chan Puma House 003)
Molé: RGB (RareNoise 046)
Monk, Thelonious: Round Midnight: The Complete Blue Note Singles (1947-1952) (Blue Note 21693)
Neset, Marius: Pinball (ACT 9032)
Nucleus/Leon Thomas: Live 1970 (Gearbox 1529, vinyl)
Polar Bear: Same As You (The Leaf Label Bay 98)
Potter, Chris/Underground Orchestra: Imaginary Cities (ECM 470 4075)
Pukl, Juke: The Life Sound Pictures Of (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 458)
Rongetz Foundation, The: Kiss Kiss Double Jab (Heavenly Sweetness 121)
Saunders, Emily: Outsiders Insiders (Mix Sounds 1501)
Scott, Tony: Music After Midnight (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 850)
Seglem, Karl: Som Spor (NOR 1445)
Shah, Kavita: Visions (Inner Circle Music 040)
Silver, Horace/Quintet: June 1977, The Livelong Series Volume 2 (Promising Music 441212)
Simone, Lisa: All Is Well (Laborie LJ30)
Simone, Nina: Folksy Nina (Pure Pleasure PPAN SCP 465, vinyl)
Teagarden, Jack: Featuring Bobby Hackett, Bob Wilber & Bud Freeman (Solar 4569935)
Thompson, Eddie: In The USA (HEP 2100)
Various: The Magic & The Mystery Of The Piano Trio: Ballads & Lullabies (Ozella 92010)
Various: Jazz From Finland 2014-2015 (Music Finland 2014)
Waldron, Mal: Complete Trio 1958-1960 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 854)
Wates, Matt: Yemanja (Audio B 5030)
Weber, Eberhard: Encore (ECM 471 2051)
Witherspoon, Jimmy: Spoon + Hey, Mrs Jones (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 849)
Young, Lester: Blue Lester/The Complete Royal Roost Broadcasts (Solar 4569955)

Excerpts from the 67 CD reviews in this issue (full print reviews run up to 300 words and include discography - subscribe here):

The five stars are for the much-revered Manny Albam tracks (the final eight). Mr Schaeffer would be awarded three for his music. But I would willingly unbend to give him at least five for the fact that he used to have it away with Marilyn Monroe. His charts are bright and accomplished, and it is perhaps his misfortune that they sit next to such a classic grouping as those by the sainted Dominican. Some people do not share my enthusiasm for Albam’s skills, and I have to own that he didn’t have the jazz inspiration of a Gil Evans, an Ellington or an Ernie Wilkins. But the music that he recorded excelled in another dimension with its polish and precision perhaps asking for it to be compared to Kenton or Billy May-style orchestras. Manny knew his jazz and where to get his soloists, which is why people like Bob Brookmeyer, Jim Hall, Phil Woods, Nick Travis and Joe Newman were so keen to play for him, as they demonstrated here. (Steve Voce) *****

In 1984 Zoot Sims (tenor) with Mike Wofford (piano), Chuck Berghofer (bass), Nick Ceroli (drums) and Victor Feldman (percussion) produced a splendid album, Quietly There: Zoot Sims Plays Johnny Mandel. Now American mainstream tenor saxophonist Harry Allen and the elegant Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren have joined forces with Swedish bassist Hans Backenroth and Danish drummer Kristian Leth in an equally impressive and affectionate tribute to composer, trumpeter and trombonist Mandel – now in his 90th year. Four of the titles on Zoot’s album – Cinnamon And Cloves, A Time For Love, Quietly There and Emily – appear on this new compilation. (John White) *****

Gimmicky, right? Cute lower-case device for Juan Pablo, backwards lettering on cover art, palindromic structure? Actually, no. This is Balcazar’s fifth CD for FSNT, if one includes two excellent discs on which he and Pintxo went out as Ballcock and The Heckler. Jordi Pujol has a gift for finding great bassist-led groups and this is one of his genuine coups, an irresistibly swinging modern jazz record where all but the central theme enjoy two distinct outings, one with trio and one with quartet. (Brian Morton) ****

Although recorded on the West Coast, this disc is not like the usual California jazz sounds, i.e. refined, smooth and sweet. Clay was a hard bop tenorman who came from Texas and was discovered by drummer Lawrence Marable, who was looking for a sax man who was out of the ordinary, rough and unpolished but not afraid to blow hard without restraints. He certainly found him in Clay, who has that stamp of authority, unique sound and ability to swing easily that all the great soloists have. Clay was a warm and inventive ballad player too, witness this sinuous version of Easy Living. With the impeccable, sophisticated jazz piano of Sonny Clark added in as second solo voice and a strong rhythm section, the session could hardly fail. (Derek Ansell) *****

Red Garland’s mid-career absence from the main centres for about a decade together with his early death tend to make him, if not a forgotten man of jazz, a rather neglected figure. Some compensation comes with John White’s article in the March issue of JJ and in this album recorded during one of several residencies Garland had at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner after his early 1970s return to prominence. Garland’s exceptional accomplishments are on display here. From block-chord patterns to single-note solos by way of solid blues piano, he offers inventive improvisations, all the while demonstrating his technical brilliance. It is good to have this music, well presented here with a 44-page booklet, to make clear how great was the loss to jazz when, a little over six years after this recording, Garland was struck down with a fatal heart attack. (Bruce Crowther) *****

This is the second leader-release from London-based saxophonist Alex Garnett and the first for his Bunch of Five, the band that sets out to reboot the time-honoured two-tenor joust. The emphasis is on swing and groove while leaving space for some contemporary surprises. The Five consists of himself, a second tenor, Armacost and a more than useful rhythm section led by Liam Noble. Six originals show Garnett’s skill at producing lines for improvising on that are also listenable as themes. Garnett is the lighter sounding tenor, the NYC-based Armacost slightly harder and boppish and they complement each other well. It is in effect a very good partnership in the tradition of Griffin and Davis or Ammons and Stitt, likely to appeal to all followers of those masters. (Derek Ansell) ****

The modernistic and celebrated Jazzroom at Breda enjoyed its tenth anniversary in 2013 and the ever-popular Scott Hamilton was there for the event alongside pianist Rein de Graaff’s trio. The tenorist, relaxed and swinging as ever, displays his flawless tone and timing on a selection of well tried and tested numbers from the swing and early bebop eras. The concert kicks off with a medium-up Groovin’ High and is followed by a thoughtful Flamingo, a complete contrast to the famous Earl Bostic version. De Graaff contributes an excellent piano solo as he does throughout as well as furnishing adroit backings. Not for nothing does he have the nickname “Professor Bop”. The bassist and drummer also know where they are coming from. (Brian Robinson) *****

Big bands supposedly died decades ago. Certainly the touring variety virtually vanished for economic reasons, yet the attraction of a large ensemble survives in rehearsal bands, where musicians come together, largely for kicks, because they savour the unity of expression that is the nature of an expansive ensemble. Peter Hands, a most able guitarist, has put together a splendid 15-piece unit which upholds the spirit and and history of the genre. He wrote all the nicely crafted arrangements, composed five originals and brought in Houston Person as a star soloist. This is the band’s second outing; the first was a live set of Harold Arlen tunes which also warrants investigation. Out Of Hand fully merits a five-star rating and will be a strong contender for record of the year honours. (Mark Gardner) *****

Unusually for a label that likes to space out its releases by the same artist, Iyer has released three discs in the year since moving from ACT to ECM. Break Stuff returns to his 11-year-old trio with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, in a mix of originals and jazz standards. Several pieces are deconstructions of other Iyer compositions, but I’m not so familiar with his output that I can say which. I guess my final view of him is “problematic musician”. Very thoughtful, intense playing yet it doesn’t quite draw me in – too much chromatic patterning, not enough jazz soul maybe. But always provocative and worth hearing. (Andy Hamilton) ***

Here’s Clark Terry’s generous legacy already bearing fruit. Young Kauflin is a protégé of the late trumpeter and of Quincy Jones, who produces. The story’s told in a documentary film called Keep On Keepin’ On, which is worth watching. Struck blind by sudden illness at age 11, Kauflin emerged quickly as a pianist of rare diversity and impeccable skill. There are strong modernist touches here – one can’t quite imagine a conversation with Clark T about Ornette Coleman and harmolodics – but for the most part the music is vigorous post-bop, with a relatively restrained savour of the blues. The solo dedication to his mother is nicely naked but again not sobbingly self-revealing. He’s hugely impressive and obviously bound for great things. (Brian Morton) ****

Once in a while an album comes along that restores your faith in young jazz musicians and their ability to push the music forward. Pinball, 29-year-old Neset’s fourth outing, does just that. Recorded on the Norwegian island of Giske, in a studio that looks out to the Atlantic, this new music is fresh, uplifting and bracing. His sax lines ricochet spectacularly across the arrangements or are left hanging delicately in the air before gravity takes hold again. Like many of the great sax players, Neset has an appetite and eagerness to play. He’s got that Nordic thing, but he’s also got flashes of fast-moving American heroes, like Brecker or even Joe Henderson. A pinball wizard indeed. (Garry Booth) *****

Whilst Loose Tubes alumnus Mark Lockheart is a mainstay of this group, there’s nothing of the joyous, ordered cacophony of that late-lamented band. Here we’re strictly on atmospherics which could, by some, be described as minimalism. Taken as a whole, Same As You is more coherent and considerably less frenetic than its immediate predecessor In Each And Every One, which seemed more reliant on electronics and aural jump cuts. This is a more laidback affair but certainly no less effective, the deceptive simplicity of the music combined with a subtle use of drums and electronics. The penultimate track Dont Let The Feeling Go (spelling correct), imbued with chanting vocals and a repeated horn hook line, is undoubtedly the album’s pièce de résistance. This might be a contender for album of the year. (Roger Farbey) *****

My reward for observing the customary five or six seconds of silence at the beginning of this ECM release was to hear the best album of new material that I’ve reviewed for quite some time. It’s equally strong and broad in scope in terms of composition and arranging (both all by the leader) and also in its first-rate execution, whether scored or improvised. The string-quartet writing is exceptional, drawing on both Western and Eastern influences, and Potter gets the strings improvising as well as reading their arco and pizzicato parts, which is fairly rare in jazz, at least with this amount of success. The recorded quality is excellent, with just one small criticism of the strings being a shade loud during the bass solo on Lament. Potter says, “I didn’t want a classical-meets-jazz feeling. I wanted it all to be completely integrated”, and it most certainly is. (Dave Jones) *****

Led by trumpeter Stephane Ronget, the Rongetz Foundation mixes jazz, hip-hop and soulful poetry. The music echoes 80s hip-hop and jazz collaborations such as Us3 and Urbanator. It’s an appealing sound, danceable grooves courtesy of the excellent young bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Corey Fonville anchoring readily accessible melodies. Of the frontline instrumentalists, trombonist Steve Turre makes the strongest impression, his rich, raw, tone suiting the funkiness of many of these tunes. Ronget and saxophonist Gary Bartz are less dominant: both take their solo chances with confidence but it’s Turre’s dynamic and energetic sound that proves to be the best match for the tunes. As an ensemble, the Rongetz Foundation knocks out hard-edged funk and slinky R&B-inflected rhythms with aplomb. (Bruce Lindsay) ****

This is a nicely packaged, unearthed gem of a live recording from an open-air concert recorded by German broadcaster Radio Bremen. The material consists mostly of a very nicely varied selection of Silver’s compositions from his early 1970s Blue Note albums, and the recording includes some of his spoken introductions from the piano between numbers, which help to make the listener feel as though they were at the gig. As if we needed reminding, it also highlights his great skill as a composer and arranger, and as a pianist who was funky before anyone else knew what it meant. Several of the tracks have solo piano introductions which debunk the myth that Silver was not much of a solo pianist. He was certainly not a reverential pseudo-classical solo jazz pianist, but solo jazz piano should be about more than that. It’s no surprise that the album also serves to highlight what an exciting comper he was, constantly driving the front-line solos with his percussive, punctuating chord voicings; a great jazz pianist, composer and arranger in the true sense of the words. (Dave Jones) *****


post a comment