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 May 2015 (see below for excerpts):
Abate, Greg: Motif (Whaling City Sound 070)
Abbasi, Rez/Acoustic Quartet: Intents And Purposes (Enja 9621)
Adasiewicz, Jason/Sun Rooms: From The Region (Delmark 5017)
Anderson, Ernestine: Swings The Penthouse (HighNote 7273)
Anker, Lotte: What River Is This (Ilk 226)
Armstrong, Louis: A Rare Batch Of Satch (Poll Winners 27329)
Atzmon, Gilad/& The Orient House Ensemble: The Whistle Blower Tour (Fanfare Jazz 1501)
Back Door: Back Door/8th Street Nites/Another Fine Mess (Beat Goes On 1170)
Bancroft, Sophie: Songs (Lisaleo 0801)
Bannister, Jesse: Play Out (United Sounds)
Blakey, Art: Moanin' (Masterworks 21343)
Bokar, Pascal: Guitar Balafonics (Sugo 888174750101)
Brahem, Anouar: Souvenance (ECM 379 7776)
Brubeck, Dave: Dave Digs Disney (Poll Winners 27327)
Bruning, Dale: Thanks For The Memory . . . Jim Hall (Jazz Link Enterprises 1214)
Chamorro, Joan: Presenta La Magia De La Veu (Jazz To Jazz 014008)
Cigalini, M/E Zanisi: Right Now (Cam Jazz 7883)
Coleman, Ornette: New Vocabulary (System Dialling 009)
Coltrane, John: Standard Coltrane + Stardust (Poll Winners 27328)
Cox, Ben: This Waiting Game (Cinnamon CD1)
Crowley, George: Can Of Worms (Whirlwind 4666)
Dankworth, Johnny/Orchestra: Duet For 16 (Vocalion 6230)
De Holanda, Hamilton: Caprichos (Adventure Music 1092)
De Paris, Wilbur: Hot Mustard (Retrospective 4259)
DeJohnette, Jack: Made In Chicago (ECM 378 0935)
DoAM Ensemble: Mists: Charles Ives For Jazz Orchestra (Planet Arts 101420)
Donkin, Phil: The Gate (Whirlwind 4668)
Drew, Kenny: The Complete Jerome Kern/Rodgers & Hart Songbooks (Phono 870230)
Duchess: Duchess (Anzic 0051)
Edison, Harry "Sweets": Patented By Edison + Sweetenings (Phoenix 131607)
Evans, Bill: Living In The Crest Of A Wave (Warner 8122795758)
Fortune, Sonny: With Sound Reason (Warner 8122795893)
Fortune, Sonny: Infinity Is (Warner 8122795735)
Free Nelson Mandoomjazz: Awakening Of A Capital (RareNoise 051)
Fulton, Champian: Change Partners (Cellar Live 050114)
Geller, Herb/Roberto Magris: Live In Europe 2009 (JMood 012)
Getz, Stan: The Steamer (Poll Winners 27325)
Goodman, Benny/Rosemary Clooney: Date With The King Essential Jazz Classics 55660)
Gordon, Sax: In The Wee Small Hours (Delmark 5018)
Gov't Mule/featuring John Scofield: Sco-Mule (Provogue 449)
Guaraldi, Vince: Vince Guaraldi Trio + A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing (Poll Winners 27321)
Gurtu, Trilok: Bad Habits Die Hard + The Glimpse (MIG 80252)
Haley, Bill: Rock Around The Clock (Retrospective 4251)
Harriott, Joe/Amancio D'Silva: Hum Dono (Vocalion 8505)
Henderson, Eddie: Collective Portrait (Smoke Sessions 1501)
Hot Sardines, The: The Hot Sardines (Decca 3797401)
Intra, Enrico/Enrico Pieranunzi: Bluestop (Alfa Music 169)
Kajfes, Goran/Subtropic Arkestra: The Reason Why Vol. 2 (Headspin 021)
Kepl, Irene/Mark Holub: Taschendrache (Slam 298)
Kühn, Joachim: Dynamics + I'm Not Dreaming (MIG 80232)
Lavelle, Matt/John Pietaro: Harmolodic Monk (Unseen Rain 9953)
Law, Ant: Zero Sum World (Whirlwind 4663)
Mahanthappa, Rudresh: Bird Calls (ACT 9581)
Malone, Russell: Love Looks Good On You (HighNote 7268)
McPherson, Charles: The Journey (Capri 74136)
Meurkens, Hendrik/Misha Tsiganov: Junity (HMS 001)
Mirabassi, Giovanni: No Way Out (Cam Jazz 7884)
Mollestad, Hedvig: "Enfant Terrible" (Rune Grammofon 2157)
Mongrel: Taskenspill (Losen 131)
Moretto, Luiz: Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (Slam 558)
Mortensen, Malene: Can't Help It (Stunt 14162)
Mullen, Jim: Lifestories (Reverb 39)
Mullen, Jim/Zirilli, Enzo/Luca Boscagin/Ross Stanley: Radio Londra (Trio 592)
Naturel, Gilles: Contrapuntic Act2 (Space Time 1438)
Nuti, Noemi: Nice To Meet You (Ubuntu 0001)
O'Gallagher, John: The Honeycomb (Fresh Sound New Talent 462)
Orchestre National De Jazz: Europa Paris (On Jazz 42444)
Palmieri, Eddie: La Perfecta + El Molestoso (Malanga Music 826)
Pardo, Jorge: Historias De Radha Y Krishna (Fol Musica 804071010681)
Pepper, Art: The Art Of Pepper (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 378)
Person, Houston: 75/Get Out' A My Way! (Westbound 155)
Pohjola, Verneri: Bullhorn (Edition 1056)
Roller Trio: Fracture (Lamplight Social 001)
Saboya, Carol/Antonio Adolfo/Hendrik Meurkens: Copa Village (AAM Music 0707)
Schmid, Fred: Purple & Blue (MGP 015)
Snidero, Jim: Main Street (Savant 2142)
Spin Marvel: Infolding (RareNoise 049)
Strigalev's, Zhenya: Smiling Organizm: Robin Goodie (Whirlwind 4665)
Tatum, Art: The Greatest Piano Of Them All (Poll Winners 27322)
Turre, Steve: Spirit Man (Smoke Sessions 1502)
Unexpected: Munchies (Fresh Sound New Talent 460)
Valera, Manuel/New Cuban Express: In Motion (Criss Cross 1372)
Various: Duduvudu - The Gospel According To Dudu Pukwana (Edgetone 4144)
Vaughan, Sarah: The Divine One (Parlophone PPAN 52060)
Wallumrød, Christian: Pianokammer (Hubro 2542)
Webber, John: Down For The Count (Cellar Live 040114)
Weller, Sarah: Stormy (Daisy Dog 005)
Wheeler, Kenny: Songs For Quintet (ECM 470 4653)
Whyte, Ronny: Nevertheless… (Audiophile 344)
Wild Flower Sextet: Wild Flower (Jellymould 017)
Woods, Phil: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz 1146)

Excerpts from the 91 CD reviews in this issue (full print reviews run up to 300 words and include discography - subscribe here):

Abbasi here covers 70s fusion from Zawinul (the ineffable Black Market), Hancock, Cobham, Corea and others. He says he discovered jazz in 1983 through Bird and bypassed most of 70s fusion, not liking the “synthetic, sometimes brash electric textures”. Latterly he’s realized the era spawned “many great compositions”, which seems an oversight. Anyway, the results are very good, with first-rate soloing all round though I wouldn’t have missed the baritone guitar. One US press release says it “challenges jazz convention” – hardly: the tunes are well known and various players have done the period’s music acoustically, eg, Ray Bryant did Birdland on his Tribute To His Jazz Piano Friends (1997, JVC). (Mark Gilbert) ****

This third set from vibist Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Rooms trio continues to document the extraordinary musical progress of its leader, now widely recognized as the foremost vibes player of his day. The main change here is the departure of bassist Nate McBride and his replacement by Norwegian born, Chicago resident Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten, a highly rhythmic, precise player adept, in his leader’s words, at “pushing or pulling at the boundaries of the groove”. (Simon Adams) ****

A strong post-bop player who holds a masters degree in philosophy – and a complex and often controversial figure whose 2011 book The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics precipitated considerable (and diversely considered) discussion – the Israeli-born, British-domiciled Atzmon leads his Orient House Ensemble through a compelling range of both rhythmically strong and melodically distinctive material on this, their eighth album to date. (Michael Tucker) *****

In the early 70s, radio hidden under the covers as John Peel’s Sound Of The 70s played, I was captivated by Back Door and much other stuff I never heard anywhere else. Fast forward to circa 2010 and many UK jazz college bands were effectively revisiting a narrow sliver of the creative style heard here. In these febrile days when almost every other “new” “jazz” release is trumpeted as a superhuman feat of musical catholicism, this collection of three Back Door albums shows how little new ground there was left to cover 40 years ago. (Mark Gilbert) *****

The problem with New Vocabulary is that it sounds like a very good pastiche of a latter-day Ornette Coleman record. The abecedarian melody of the well-named Baby Food, the small, shrill alto sound and Amir Ziv’s Denardo-like drum-bashing feel second-hand. The minimal structure of Alphabet (more A-B-C stuff) descends into noisy clatter in much the way the live groups always did. McLean’s effects-laden trumpet is closer to the guitarists of Prime Time years than to Don Cherry, though there are similarities. Adam Holzman appears incongruously on a couple of tracks, to help confound an out-of-date saw/stat about Ornette and piano players. (Brian Morton) ***

This album is striking for the soft-focus vocals of Cox, who sings with a mellow, yet intense tone and is in possession of a unique sound. The disc was co-produced by Safiruddin and Ian Shaw, the latter an enthusiastic endorser of Cox’s style. The material is a mixture of contemporary jazz, funk, bossa and a measure of jazz-rock and it’s evident that much thought has gone into the arrangements and the playing. Cox has an unusual but personal vocal style and is different to anybody I’ve heard before – a rare thing in a market place crowded with outstanding singers past and present. (Derek Ansell) ****

A CD to be prized, containing more than 78 minutes of the Dankworth band at its best, recorded – well – for French radio in 1959, probably during the September of that year. As far as is known these items have not been available among the band’s commercial releases until now. The tracks have announcements in French, constituting a charming yet easily understood bonus. The CD booklet notes have been specially written by Tony Middleton. This is a release to possess if you care at all about the large ensemble in the history of British jazz. (John Robert Brown) *****

Blimey! This one goes off like a rocket and keeps up the pace pretty much to the end, with just that strange, sombre Shostakovich arrangement to bring pulses back down. Recently transplanted to New York, where he’ll blow up a storm, Donkin’s a clever fellow and his writing is uniformly imaginative, whether it’s a groove, a freeish idea or the hectic neo-bop of Yesterday At My House. (Brian Morton) ****

This playfully monickered trio previously released a double EP which was one of my highlights of 2014. If you like your genre-blending to be heavy and viciously elegiac, then Sneddon’s freewheeling skronk, Archibald’s slacker (but never slack) beats, and Stewart’s distorted buzz are not to be missed. This is the Scottish outfit’s first full-length album and is a recognisably more mature and coherent recording. (Dave Foxall) *****

Gov’t Mule is a southern states group formed in 1994 by sometime Allman Brothers members, the guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody. Around 1990 Haynes approached jazz guitarist John Scofield at the Sweet Basil club in New York and suggested they should play together. They stayed in touch and in 1999 Scofield flew to Atlanta to play two shows with the band. The music on these two discs is the result, now issued for the first time. These are long jams, up to 23 minutes for Afro Blue and rhythmically rather homogeneous but spirited. Scofield does the modal jazz business often and well and endorses the whole lot: “The shows we did were excellent musically and I think they stand the test of time”. Scofield completists will want it. (Mark Gilbert) ****

We know why this is here – deep, infectious swing with a distinctive character, mostly in the slap bass and drum rhythm. The guitar playing – especially for what is nominally a pop record – is highly accomplished, hardly bettered in pop until perhaps the 1980s by people such as Allan Murphy in Go West. Players in both cases knew about jazz, here Danny Cedrone (that amphetamine Rock Around The Clock solo) and Franny Beecher (former Goodman sideman and Christian is palpable), spotlighted on the instrumental Goofin’ Around (check the YouTube video). Excellent package, completed by discography, chart history and a clear-sighted essay from Peter Dempsey. (Mark Gilbert) ****

This is fine wine indeed. Although it inhabited a jazz backwater, Indo-Jazz fusion was a viable and attractive form during the 60s, spearheaded by the talented composer/leader John Mayer and producing handsome spin-offs like this one. Harriott was unique amongst musicians in Europe at the time and, when Ornette Coleman was rampant, quietly got on with playing music that was both free and logical. He could also play searing bop solos when he wanted to. He was our best-kept secret until his career deteriorated and he died from ill health in 1973 when he was 44. I’m sure it’s time for an Indo-Jazz revival and this could be the spearhead. (Steve  Voce) *****

As Mahanthappa makes clear in the liner notes, this is not a Charlie Parker tribute album, and there are no Charlie Parker tunes to be heard over the course of 62 minutes. But, what there is very much takes the essence of Parker’s music and transforms it into something truly spectacular. Not being a fan of Parker’s music at all, I approached this with some trepidation, but fell completely under the spell of the music performed here. Mahanthappa is an engaging and hugely talented performer as well as the composer here, and he is more than ably supported by an excellent group of fellow musicians. (John Adcock) *****

All of a sudden I’m working for Kerrang magazine! Hedvig might look like a joyless nordic Nurse Ratched in the CD’s monochrome cover shot, but check her out on YouTube and it’s a different story. The HMT is actually a full-on, balls-out [are you sure? – Ed] free metal power trio. Yes, I hear you sigh, but is it anything to with jazz? Well, imagine what John Scofield does in his most muscular moments or what McLaughlin did when his wig was gone with Mahavishnu (indeed the opening track, Laughing John, is dedicated to Doncaster’s famous son) and you’re getting close. But for my taste it’s just a little too metallic. (Garry Booth) ***

Trust the Italians to like Mullen’s soulful, funky and warm approach to jazz guitar, which surely resonates with that country’s Mediterranean demeanour. The fare on Radio Londra reflects that, including many Latin grooves. What else is there to say about Mullen’s gorgeously expressive, effusive, veritably vocalized guitar playing? Every phrase and note blooms, ripe with jazz meaning. It sounds like fellow stringsman Luca Boscagin might be a fan, sporting a similarly full, round tone. If he’s without the ingenious Mullen melodic logic that’s no failing; there’s only one Jim Mullen and his own playing is excellent. (Mark Gilbert) ****

On forming La Perfecta in 1961 Palmieri sought, in common with many Hispanic musicians, to update traditional Latin styles, replacing the violins of the then popular charanga band with two trombones. According to historian César Miguel Rondón, this “Palmerian variation would be the one to determine all the later sounds of salsa”. The horns gave a flavour of jazz and more volume, the impact enhanced by an arranging style that set the two horns slightly out of tune and thus increased the sense of “fuerza” or strength. Rondón says, comparing jazz and the new Latin horn sound, “the music stopped being ostentatious to become wounded”. Enjoy this exquisite and detailed gumbo of Afro-Caribbean rhythm and European concert and jazz harmony alongside Joseph Parks’ highly informative sleeve note. (Mark Gilbert) *****

Three things to get straight from the start: First, trumpeter Verneri Pohjola has been around for 20 years and so is no longer the new kid on the block. Second, he has his own distinct sound and is not a Miles clone, although he shares Miles’s unerring judgement and perfect note placement. And thrid, this, his third set as leader, is as close to perfect as it can get. All 10 tracks are written by Pohjola, showcasing his compositional skills, and what they deliver is music of the most wonderful freshness. There was nothing here I had heard before, which is not something than can be said that often. Five stars all round, and I could easily award more. (Simon Adams) *****

Recorded at a single four-hour studio session, this is the third album by Martin France’s futuristic improvising collective Spin Marvel. Nils Petter Molvaer is likely to be the biggest draw for most listeners, and his unique sonic thumbprint is undoubtedly a crucial agent in defining the group’s sound. Yet acclaimed mixing artist Emre Ramazanoglu is no less important, his deft “infolding” of the studio source material clearly accentuating even the finest grains of detail and creating vast illusions of space. Then there’s the way in which France’s uninhibited drumming and Harries’s heavy post-Bitches Brew fuzz-bass really force NPM to stretch. Spin Marvel, then, are truly aggregate with many creative and unpredictable catalysts. Packed with incident and unflinchingly provocative, Infolding is an unmissable treat for any scholar of the NuJazz. (Fred Grand) ****

It’s heartening to hear a young UK group covering early Wayne Shorter material and Anderson (a first-class grad from Leeds College of Music) writing four more numbers in the style. This is sophisticated stuff, with a proper handle on Shorter’s post-bop genius. This could be NYC 1975, not dreary UK 2015. The repertoire is treated in a completely authentic style with deeply swinging drum work from Gardner (check Blues For Wayne), the only slight out-of-period moments coming from Munk’s occasionally slithery guitar tone – fuzz boxes were barely on the changes jazz scene until the late 70s. Everyone plays superbly and the set is wholly recommended. (Mark Gilbert) *****


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