Selected reviews


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Jazz Journal offers unrivalled coverage of recorded jazz old and new, with more than 20,000 words of expert comment and discography on recent jazz issues in every issue

Complete list of CDs reviewed in JJ July 2015 (see below for excerpts):
Albany, Joe: An Evening With Joe Albany (SteepleChase 31794)
Ammons, Gene/& Brother Jack McDuff: Complete Recordings (Groove Hut 66721)
Armstrong, Louis: Intégrale Vol.14 (Frémeaux & Associés 1364)
Asmussen, Svend: Embraceable (Storyville 101 4296)
Baker, Chet: Big Band (Essential Jazz Classics 55664)
Baker, Chet: Live At The Subway Club (Domino 891225)
Basie, Count: Down For The Count (Documents 600192)
Biel, Julia: Love Letters And Other Missiles (Rokit 030)
Binker & Moses: Dem Ones (Gearbox 1530)
Bostic, Earl/Richard "Groove" Holmes/Joe Pass: Complete Quintet Recordings (Phono 870225)
Braxton, Anthony: Trio And Duet (Sackville 3007)
Bro, Jakob: Gefion (ECM 470 9139)
Brubeck, Dave: The Complete Storyville Broadcasts (Essential Jazz Classics 55654)
Cary, Marc: Rhodes Ahead Vol.2 (Motéma 233950)
Cohen, Anat: Luminosa (Anzic 0050)
Cohen, Avishai: From Darkness (RazDaz 4616)
Cunninghams, The: Sao Paulo Lights (MTDA NH 8416)
Davis, Miles: Tutu Deluxe Edition (Warner 0081227955434, vinyl)
Davis, Miles: Birth Of The Cool (Dream Covers 6096)
Davis, Miles: The Quintessence (Frémeaux & Associés 3060)
Eardley, Jon: In Hollywood, Hey There, JE Seven (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 863)
Eick, Mathias: Midwest (ECM 470 8910)
Elias, Eliane: Made In Brazil (Concord 36693)
Evans, Bill: Peace Pieces (Dream Covers 6093)
Fedchock, John: Fluidity (Summit 653)
Flosason, Sigurdur/Kjeld Lauritsen: Daybreak (Storyville 1014295)
Fresu/Di Bonaventura: In Maggiore (ECM 471 0051)
Gadd, Steve: 70 Strong (BFM Jazz 302 062 429 2)
Galliano, Richard/Sylvain Luc: La Vie En Rose (Milan 399 604-2)
Grosz, Marty/The Fat Babies: Diga Diga Doo (Delmark 256)
Halcox, Pat: Remembering Pat Halcox (Lake 338)
Hamasyan, Tigran: Mockroot (Nonesuch 400249)
Hambro, Lenny: Complete Sessions 1953-1957 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 857)
Hampton, Lionel: Newport Uproar (Pure Pleasure/RCA LSP 3891, vinyl)
Hanna, Roland: This Must Be Love (Progressive 7030)
Harrow, Nancy : The Beatles & Other Standards (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 5502)
Hayes, Louis And The Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band: Live At Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club (Cellar Live 120513)
Herskedal, Daniel: Slow Eastbound Train (Edition 1057)
Hines, Earl: Four Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz 1152)
Hülsmann, Julia: A Clear Midnight/Kurt Weill In America (ECM 470 9276)
Ilg, Dieter: Mein Beethoven (ACT 9582)
James, José: Yesterday I Had The Blues/The Music Of Billie Holiday (Blue Note 653620)
Johnson, J.J: The Complete 60s Big Band Recordings (Phono 870229)
Jormin, Anders/Willemark/Nakagawa: Trees Of Light (ECM 470 8232)
Lake, Oliver/William Parker: To Roy (Intakt 243/2015)
Latz, Deborah: Sur L'Instant (June Moon 40415)
Lyttelton, Humphrey: In Canada (Sackville 3033)
Maniscalco/Bigoni/Solborg: Maniscalco/Bigoni/Solborg (ILK 241)
Mas, Roger: A Time For Love (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 468)
Mazur, Marilyn: Flamingo Sky (Stunt 14122)
Neighbour, Pete: Back In The Neighbourhood (
Osborne, Mike: Dawn (Cuneiform 392)
Oxley, Pete/Nicolas Meier: Chasing Tales (MGP 016)
Payne, Cecil: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz 1150)
Peterson, Oscar: Plays The George Gershwin Song Book (Essential Jazz Classics 55666)
Peterson, Oscar: The Complete Tokyo Concert 1964 (Domino 891227)
Pine, Courtney: Song (The Ballad Book) (Destin-E 777102468X)
Ploug, Mikkel: At Black Tornado (Whirlwind 4661)
Printup, Marcus: Lost (Steeplechase 31793)
Rimington, Sammy: Quintet Featuring Jeanette Kimball And Emanuel Sayles (GHB 533)
Rollins, Sonny: The Bridge (Essential Jazz Classics 55663)
Rollins, Sonny: Rollins Plays For Bird (Essential Jazz Classics 55665)
Sample, Joe/NDR Bigband: Children Of The Sun (PRA 61014)
Sánchez, Marta: Partenika  (Fresh Sound FSNT 470)
Schifrin, Lalo: The Bossa Nova & Latin Albums (Malanga Music 828)
Solà, Toni: The Heart Of Jazz (Fresh Sound/Swing Alley 025)
Spirit Farm, The: The Spirit Farm (SLAM 299)
Stallings, Mary: Feelin' Good (HighNote 7272)
Stein, Hal/Warren Fitzgerald: HS/WF Quintet (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 862)
Strayhorn, Billy: Day Dream/Complete 1945-1961 Sessions As A Leader (Essential Jazz Classics 55667)
Terry, Clark: Keep On Keepin' On (Varèse Sarabande 302 067 315 8)
Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet: Vocal Madness (HouseKat 7 0026141459 1)
Vaché, Warren: Remembers Benny Carter (Arbors 19446)
Vein, featuring Dave Liebman: Jazz Talks (Unit 4556)
Wallman, Johannes: The Town Musicians (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 469)
Walrath, Jack: Unsafe At Any Speed (SteepleChase 31795)
We Free: Strange But True (Hôte Marge 12)
Wilson, Cassandra: Coming Forth By Day (Columbia Legacy 88875063622)
Winters, Pinky: Let's Be Buddies (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 5501)

Excerpts from the 79 CD reviews in this issue (see a free sample of full print reviews; subscribe to see 12 months of Jazz Journal
including over 20,000 words of CD review each issue):

CHET BAKER: BIG BAND (Essential Jazz Classics)

Like EJC’s previous fine release of early 50s Baker, with Russ Freeman – Cool Baker Vols 1 & 2 (EJC 55650) – this is a generous and welcome reissue of music from the man who had recently come into national and international prominence thanks to his work with the pianoless Gerry Mulligan quartet. The first 10 tracks of the original 1956 Chet Baker Big Band (scarcely a big band as such, and featuring fine albeit economically turned contributions from, a.o., Art Pepper and Bobby Timmons) are complemented by some cracking, superbly swinging sextet sides with, a.o., Freeman, Bob Brookmeyer and Shelly Manne – and Bud Shank on beautifully fluid baritone – which for me constitute the highlight of the album as a whole. There are also further good tracks recorded in Paris, the vast majority featuring a young Francy Boland sounding a touch in debt to the clean-lined elegance of John Lewis. (Michael Tucker) ****

At just over 40 minutes for 11 tracks, From Darkness isn’t a long CD. But it’s one of the most exciting albums I’ve had to review for Jazz Journal, and probably the finest Latin-jazz disc I’ve been privileged to hear. What is really outstanding is the quality of the compositions; they are endlessly inventive and affecting, and interpreted brilliantly. Uptempo tracks offer exciting high-energy playing. All 11 compositions are written and arranged by the leader, save for Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, which closes the CD. This is Cohen’s regular band, and though led by a bassist, it is a piano trio. Cohen is eclectic, his jazz work infused with rock, classical and – here especially – Latin influences. (Andy Hamilton) *****

The masterstroke in this 180-gram vinyl package (a reissue of the 2011 CD set) is pitting the studio album against live, looser versions of Tutu tunes (and others) with more solos from more instruments. Anyone who was at Nice in the 1980s knows how the balmy air seemed to increase the sense of electricity on occasions like this. Splatch is a standout, with a long tenor solo from Berg, who told me rather sorely that he’d hardly featured as soloist on Miles’s studio albums. Happily, his solos were heard live a lot – check YouTube – and here’s a typically robust example. The other highlight is the rare opportunity to hear Robben Ford (notably on Portia and Splatch) playing hip chromatic lines some way from what one reviewer dismissed as "down-the-line rock-blues guitar". (Mark Gilbert) ****


Eardley came on the US scene just as we were losing two of the most gifted trumpet stars of the bebop era, Clifford Brown and Fats Navarro. In Hollywood shows two sides of his trumpet personality at that time – at faster tempos a slightly irritating staccato style, but in slows a warm tone with an emerging lyrical voice (Indian Spring). Few things expose a horn player more than a quartet format and the trumpeter drops several clinkers. West Coast pianist Pete Jolly is the dynamo here. But one and two years on, when Hey There and The JE Seven were taped, Eardley was sharing front-line duties with some outstanding sax players of the time and a rather clever, basically unknown trombonist. The rhythm section has more of a contemporary edge too and as a result the trumpet player’s confidence and expressiveness rise by a couple of notches. The ballad If You Could See Me Now is an absolute honey. The right boppish Leap Year is a fine exemplar of there and then. (Anthony Troon) ****

The opening notes of Midwest suggest that Eick has picked up pretty much where he left off with his last ECM release Skala. His style is instantly recognisable with those deceptively simple, repetitive themes that drift from the trumpet, building to dramatic intensity before once again fading or ending quite abruptly. The difference on this album though, is the sense of connection that Eick achieves with his musical tribute to the landscape of the American Midwest, and the link the place has with the story of Norwegian migration in the 19th and 20th centuries to parts of North America. Complete with some very evocative black and white landscape photographs in the liner booklet, Midwest is a thoughtful album of sensitive and lasting beauty, which establishes a strong and convincing bond between music, place and a sense of history. (John Adcock) *****

This release is a celebration of Gadd’s 70th birthday, surrounded by regular cohorts, and musically speaking it shows. The material, which consists of individual originals by the band, interspersed with numbers by e.g. Eddie Harris, sounds like a lesson in how to play funky, blues-inflected material tastefully. The keyboards and guitar complement one another particularly well, and Larry Goldings’ subtle Hammond organ playing is a highlight, as is Walt Fowler’s flugelhorn. The energy dips towards the end of this overly long set, apart from the more heavily funky interpretation of Hammer’s and Saunders’ Oh, Yeah?. (Dave Jones) ****

Subtitled Rencontres Avec Edith Piaf Et Gus Viseur, this is a delightful session of archetypal Gallic charm, at times breathed over as much by the spirit of Django as that of Piaf and Viseur. Rippling figures and shape-shifting sonorities flow with serene grace over the sort of unforced yet spot-on power and precision of rhythmic foundation and harmonic literacy which project a telling poetry rather than any mere virtuosity for its own sake – although there’s plenty of virtuosity to be enjoyed here, of course. Titles include La Vie En Rose, Je Ne Regrette Rien, Sous Le Ciel De Paris and Swing Valse. (Michael Tucker) ****

Marty sounds comfortably at home in familiar musical territory, his acoustic guitar imparting a springy bounce to the rhythm, with his customary seasoning of witty vocals and chat. Most of the musicians are in the Chicago-based Fat Babies band, and play the effective arrangements in upbeat but relaxed style, with balanced cohesion. The enjoyably varied repertoire is a blend of Dixieland and vintage swing, 30s style, with some established standards rubbing shoulders with less familiar numbers. A typical Marty Grosz album in many ways; enjoyable, entertaining and well-played. (Hugh Rainey) ****

Remarkably, Pat remained with Chris Barber for over half a century, the whole of his professional career. Encouraged by Barber, Paul Adams has compiled from various sources a double CD of previously unissued recordings spanning 1955-98. They reflect Pat’s developing prowess over the years. Relating responsively to Barber’s ongoing experimental musical challenges made Pat, always a team player, an ideal sideman for Barber in a mutually rewarding association. The album concludes with features for Pat on tunes written by Strayhorn, Woody Herman and Ellington. Of these, Blue Orchid is an absolute gem, ballad playing of the highest order confirming the standard of artistry which was reached by this fine trumpeter and true gentleman of British jazz. (Hugh Rainey) ****

When Mike Osborne died in 2007 the vast majority of the latest generation of jazz followers almost certainly missed the poignancy of such an event, for he had passed into history some 25 years previously when his paranoid schizophrenia sadly truncated his career. He had been one of the young emerging British musicians back in the 60s who sought to bring an individual approach from the European perspective. These newly unearthed tracks find him in the company of two collaborators in the shape of Miller and Moholo. The half-a-dozen trio sides find Osborne stretching his instrument to its limits, one moment producing a persistent buzz in the lower register, the next rising to a controlled penetrative option in the stratosphere. The 21-year-old Surman joins his fellow saxophonist on the session from four years earlier and this music is as interesting for his contribution as for Osborne’s. For one so young he had an outstanding technique on baritone, an instrument liberated from its elephantine past only in the previous decade. (Peter Gamble) ****

These two virtuoso guitarists employ a relaxed sound, belying the great skill heard on these 12 elegant, well-crafted tracks. Synthesizer lays down a rich melody line on The Bridge, underpinned by an oud-like glissentar, also heard on the anthemic Riversides. The tracks are written by either Oxley or Meier save for Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayim by Turkish bağlama player Âşık Veysel. This is the duo’s second album; their first, the highly acclaimed Travels To The West (MGP 008) was recorded live in November 2011. This studio release, benefiting from multi-tracking and elaborate arrangements, is a hugely satisfying affair paying dividends on repeated plays. (Roger Farbey) ****

Courtney Pine is a brave man to front such an exposed project, with only a piano for support. The bass clarinet can be unforgiving in its atonal squawks and grunts, while the slower registers demanded by his choice of just ballads make additional demands. His version of Sam Rivers’s Beatrice is the most radical of the set in its spikey extremes, but both Amazing Grace and the endlessly singing Nightingale get a surprisingly conservative treatment. Quite why Duke Ellington’s Come Sunday should be introduced as if on a crackly 78 I don’t know, but that gimmick is thankfully short lived as he then turns in a heartfelt performance, as he does on the concluding Some Day We’ll All Be Free. Pianist Zoe Rahman is strong throughout, her classical background giving her contributions a suitably formal feel, but it is really Pine we have come to listen to. Lyrical, reflective, but at times unduly reverential in his approach, Pine proves himself a master of the bass monster. Like I said, Pine is a brave man. (Simon Adams) ****

TONI SOLÀ: THE HEART OF JAZZ (Fresh Sound/Swing Alley)
Solà’s bright combo begins with just the sort of hard bop opus Blakey would most likely be playing if he were still around. It’s all there – brisk, brassy trumpet, Hubbard style, the sort of flowing piano solos any one of a dozen top pianists used to provide and all wrapped up in all-embracing polyrhythmic drumming. In almost complete contrast the next piece is a warm, breathy version of Strayhorn’s Lush Life with sumptuous tenor sax and nourishing piano chords – overall a very tasty ballad reading. Impulsive is another well-structured slow selection, this time a seldom-heard blues by Johnny Hodges which the leader digs into with vigour and invention. Rapid Shave is a fast burner that features stomping tenor sax and a workout for drummer Derouard. Nobody here needs any excuse to do what comes naturally and this set is a rare example of a jazz CD living up fully to its title. (Derek Ansell) *****

This CD presents a substantial part of the soundtrack of the 84-minute documentary film of the same name that was released to great acclaim in 2014. Filmed mostly in Terry’s home during the last years of the musician’s life, Keep On Keepin’ On shows the bed-ridden jazz legend as he mentors Kauflin, a gifted up-and-coming blind pianist. Terry is inspiring, not only to the young pianist but to anyone who sees and hears the film. Eleven of the tracks here are from various albums recorded over the several decades spanned by Terry’s career. Some tracks are excerpts from longer works; several are brief musical interludes (those by Grusin fit the mood of the moment and the titles shown are not the composer’s). Throughout there are very brief spoken exchanges between Terry and Kauflin while Jones also talks briefly with Terry. In audio only, if not as effective as the film, this is still quite an experience and worth five stars – but do try to see the film. (Bruce Crowther) *****

Billie Holiday would have been 100 on 7 April 2015, although one needs no excuse to celebrate her music. For her own celebration, Cassandra Wilson – now back on a big-time label after her departure from Blue Note – has joined forces with Nick Cave’s producer Nick Launay, some big shots from Cave’s Bad Seeds and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, and legendary arranger Van Dyke Parks. This new company has done her proud, producing a set of atmospheric, occasionally ethereal blues-rock versions of songs Billie sang, the exception being the final, Wilson-penned dream of Holiday’s final message to her departed friend Lester Young. Sensibly, Wilson sticks to her own languid vocal style, never trying to inhabit Billie’s raw world. Where it works, it works well. Not so good is the over-wrought version of Strange Fruit, always a song to avoid, and a countrified version of Crazy He Calls Me. But it is wrong to single out individual tracks, for this is a complete and at times joyful homage that should be taken as a whole. (Simon Adams) ****


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