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RECORD REVIEWS

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 releases in every issue

Complete list of CDs reviewed in JJ October 2015 (see below for excerpts):
Adams, Pepper: Pepper Adams Quintet + Critics' Choice (Phono 870332)
Allen, Harry/And Friends: For George, Cole And Duke (Blue Heron 6 4144415322 0)
Allen, JD: Graffiti (Savant 2147)
Allison, Mose: Takes To The Hills (Epic 17031, vinyl)
Animation: Machine Language (RareNoise 055)
Argüelles, Julian/Frankfurt Radio Big Band: Let It Be Told (Basho 47)
Atomic: Lucidity (Jazzland 4719918)
Babelfish: Chasing Rainbows (Moletone 006)
Basie, Count: Sinatra-Basie/Kansas City 7/Atomic Basie/Basie Plays Hefti (Avid 1160)
Bergonzi, Jerry: Rigamaroll (Savant 2149)
Blake, Ran: Ghost Tones (A-side 0001)
Blake, Ran/Christine Correa: The Road Keeps Winding (Red Piano 14599-4415)
Böhm, Rainer/Norbert Scholly: Juvenile (Pirouet 3082)
Brubeck, Dave/Gerry Mulligan: Dave Brubeck Trio Featuring Gerry Mulligan (Columbia 9704, vinyl)
Burrell, Kenny: God Bless The Child (CTI 6011, vinyl)
Carlton, Larry: Strikes Twice/Sleepwalk/Friends (Beat Goes On 1187)
Carrington, Terri Lyne: The ACT Years (ACT 9588)
Carter, Ron/And The WDR Big Band: My Personal Songbook (In + Out 77123)
Cheatham, Doc: The Fabulous Doc Cheatham (Jazzology 392)
Chestnut, Cyrus: A Million Colors In Your Mind (HighNote 7271)
Christopher, Evan/Koen De Cauter/David Paquette: New Orleans Rendezvous (GHB 442)
Cowell, Stanley: Juneteenth (Vision Fugitive 313010)
Criss, Sonny: The Complete Imperial Sessions (Phono 870331)
Davis, Steve: Say When (Smoke Sessions 1505)
Davis, Wild Bill: In Atlantic City (RCA Victor 3706, vinyl)
Dupas, Armel: UpRiver (Jazz Village 570086)
Ellington, Duke: The Great Paris Concert (Atlantic SD 2-304, vinyl)
Ellington, Duke: With Johnny Hodges, Coleman Hawkins, Count Basie (Avid 1157)
Evans, Bill/Trio: Köln Concert 1976 (Domino 891228)
Evingson, Connie: All The Cats Join In (Minnehaha 2010)
Fernández, Miguel: Ocean Blood (Fresh Sound 477)
Gardot, Melody: Currency Of Man (Decca 4724682)
Garland, Hank: Jazz Winds From A New Direction (Columbia CS 8372, vinyl)
Getz, Stan: The Quintessence (Frémeaux & Associés 3061)
Gibbs, Michael/NDR Bigband: Play A Bill Frisell Set List (Cuneiform 400)
Gibbs, Michael/NDR Bigband: In My View (Cuneiform Rune 401)
Glasper, Robert: Covered (Blue Note 060247245700)
Graves, Milford/Bill Laswell: Space/Time: Redemption (TUM 040)
Haden, Charlie/Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Tokyo Adagio (Impulse 060247245700)
Harris, Remi: Ninick (Big Bear 53)
Harrison, Gavin: Cheating The Polygraph (K Scope 318)
Hodgkins, Chris/Dave Price: Back In Your Own Backyard (Bell 514)
Huntsville: Pond (Hubro 2549)
Hyman, Dick: House Of Pianos (Arbors 19445)
Jamal, Ahmad: Live In Marciac August 5th 2014 (Jazz Village 57007879)
Jobim, Antonio Carlos: Stone Flower (CTI 6002, vinyl)
Johnson, J.J.: J.J. Inc. (Columbia CS 8046, vinyl)
Kelly, Juliet: Spellbound Stories (Purple Stiletto 004)
Kelly, Wynton: Four Classic Albums (Avid 1165)
Knuffke, Kirk: Lamplighter (Fresh Sound FSNT 475)
Konkova, Olga: The Goldilocks Zone (Losen 134)
Krog, Karin/Steve Kuhn: Break Of Day (Meantime 22)
LaVerne, Andy: At The Kitano Vol. 3 (Steeplechase 31803)
Loose Tubes: Arriving (Lost Marble 008)
Lordi, Michelle: Drive (Creeper Music 889211320127)
Montgomery, Wes/Wynton Kelly Trio: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Broadcasts (Jazz On Jazz 244555)
Morris, Claudia: Secret Love (Right Recordings 221)
NDR Bigband: Tall Tales Of Jasper County (Inarhyme 1008)
Neame, Ivo: Strata (Whirlwind 4674)
Nicholas, Albert/Herb Hall: Clarinet Duets With The John Defferary Jazztet And The Trevor Richards New Orleans Trio (GHB 64)
Noble, Liam: A Room Somewhere (Basho 48)
Printmakers, The: Westerly (Basho 46)
Rissanen, Aki: Aki Rissanen/Jussi Lehtonen Quartet With Dave Liebman (Ozella 058)
Ritenour, Lee: The Captain's Journey/Feel The Night/Rio (Beat Goes On 1189)
Rogers, Adam/David Binney: R&B (Criss 1379)
Rollins, Dennis/Velocity Trio: Symbiosis (Dogwithabone Music 0001)
Rollins, Sonny/Coleman Hawkins: Together At Newport 1963 (Jazz On Jazz 244552)
Seglem, Karl/Christoph Stiefel: Waves (Challenge 73398)
Snarky Puppy & Metropole Orkest: Sylva (Impulse 0602547222558)
Solli, Bjørn: Aglow: The Lyngør Project Volume 1 (Lyngør 01)
Sosa, Omar: Ilé (Otá 1027)
Stafford, Terell: BrotherLee Love (Capri 74138)
Stewart, Grant: Trio (Cellar Live 111014)
Sun Ra Arkestra/Under The Direction Of Marshall Allen: Live At Babylon, Istanbul (In + Out 77122-9)
Taylor, Melvin: Plays The Blues For You (Pure Pleasure 020, vinyl)
Thompson, Sir Charles: With Yoshio Toyama & Dixie Saints (Jazzology 393)
Torn, David: Only Sky (ECM 470 8869)
Tropea, John: Gotcha Rhythm Right Here (STP 1011)
Various: British Traditional Jazz: At A Tangent Vol. 7 (Lake 341)
Waldron, Mal: News: Run About Mal/Mal ’81 (Progressive 7060/7061)
Werner, Kenny: The Melody (Pirouet 3083)
Wess, Frank: The Flute Mastery Of Frank Wess (Progressive 7057)
Wesseltoft, Bugge: Bugge & Friends (Jazzland 4717638)
Wilen, Barney: Premier Chapitre 1954-1961 (Frémeaux & Associés 5487)
Wszołek, Pawel: Choice (Fresh Sound FSNT 478)
Yannatou, Savina/Primavera En Salonico: Songs Of Thessaloniki (ECM 470 9151)


Excerpts from the 86 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):

HARRY ALLEN AND FRIENDS: FOR GEORGE, COLE AND DUKE (Blue Heron)
The songbook repertoire in its original form or subtly disguised by a contrafact still continues to inspire generations of jazz musicians. Harry Allen and his collaborators perform not only the harmonies here but also the melodies of classics from the Golden Age of popular music – a period that Mark Crooks described to me in the April issue as offering “a hundred lifetimes of material to explore”.  Allen’s warm tenor sound, slightly reminiscent of Scott Hamilton’s with perhaps a touch of Ben Webster, is a delight throughout. He gets excellent support from everyone, especially Nicki Parrott who is not only a fine bass player but also a vocalist who brings a delightful Blossom Dearie like innocence to In A Mellow Tone, How Long Has This Been Going On? and Mood Indigo. (Gordon Jack) *****

JERRY BERGONZI: RIGAMAROLL (Savant)
Another magisterial performance from a saxophonist who’s been in career-best form since the move to Savant. Grenadier exactly fits the bill on the bustle-bop of Awake, which might come out of the Blue Note vault. He joins in a more contemporary front-line sound on A Hankering, where lead lines are passed back and forth over a machine-tooled rhythm track. Barth’s another key element here, a more obviously sympathetic accompanist than Andy LaVerne, Joachim Kühn or Joey Calderazzo, all of whom recorded with the Gonz on previous albums. No overdubbing of horns this time from the leader, who sticks with tenor throughout, conjuring up ancestral echoes of Rollins, Bean, Coltrane and Charles Lloyd but with that hard, tight vibration that makes the Bergonzi tone so sonically fertile. Tremendous stuff: make this one a priority listen. (Brian Morton) ****

DOC CHEATHAM: THE FABULOUS DOC CHEATHAM (Jazzology)
Still playing when he died in 1997 at the age of 91, Cheatham was 78 when he made this studio recording. He grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was known as “Doc” from an early age because, it was said, his family hoped that he would grow up to work in medicine! Instead he played lead trumpet in Cab Calloway’s band for eight years from 1931, and went on to play lead in bands led by Teddy Wilson and Benny Carter. Only much later did Cheatham become noticed as a jazz soloist, particularly when he toured Europe with Benny Goodman in 1967. The strengths of his playing are heard here, where he displays a warm, centred tone, playing with accuracy and polish. (John Robert Brown) ***

SONNY CRISS: THE COMPLETE IMPERIAL SESSIONS (Phono)
Sonny Criss, a declared disciple of Charlie Parker, was no “mere” copyist of the master. As Ted Gioia has written, although he “strived to make Parker’s music his own”, Criss developed a more even style of delivery and a stronger “gospelish blues bent” in his playing. These reissued Blue Note recordings (now with an added “bonus” album) rank among his finest. In the distinguished and empathetic company of Sonny Clark, Kenny Drew, Barney Kessel, Larry Bunker and Lawrence Marable, Criss is at his superlative best - whether on ballads, blues or uptempo numbers. This release has a useful capsule biography of Criss by Matias Rinar, and curiously carping (four-star) Downbeat reviews of Jazz U.S.A. by Nat Hentoff, and At The Crossroads by John A. Tynan. The original liner notes to all four albums by “Unsigned” are vacuous to the point of parody. (John White) *****

MICHAEL GIBBS: IN MY VIEW + THE NDR BIG BAND PLAY A BILL FRISELL SET LIST (Cuneiform)
Although completely original in his writing, Mike Gibbs is next in the line from Gil Evans. Like Evans, Gibbs stamps his character on the music to the point where it doesn’t matter who plays it its source is unmistakable. Straight from the opening of Should Be the magic layers of sound are there, the whole performance building into an ever denser orchestral ensemble. The jubilant Spanish Sketch pays homage to Evans’s Spanish proclivity (or maybe its just a mutual gravitation to things Iberian – Gibbs lives in Spain, whilst Evans, for all his colourful depiction of it, never went there). It’s fascinating to hear a man, usually impelled to create his own originals, dipping into the libraries of other people. Jenkins’s song Goodbye was a strong one and when given the Gibbs treatment it might almost have been a throwback to the Claude Thornhill orchestra. It ends a typically inventive and deeply satisfying album in which Gibbs gets superb support from his musicians. Frisell’s plangent guitar sound, almost classical on occasion, combines with imaginative and accessible improvisations to make him one of the best soloists around today. In this concert he’s well recorded in nine charts arranged and conducted by Mike. You’d almost think it was Charlie Christian in the statement of Benny’s Bugle. I think Mike has scored some of Charlie’s original solo here. As you’d expect the band swing convincingly with some beautifully scored riffs. Frisell’s playing is unpretentious and inspired. As any soloist of high quality does, he benefits enormously from being supported by Michael Gibbs, still one of the finest jazz creators of our lifetime. (Steve Voce) *****

ROBERT GLASPER: COVERED (Blue Note)

Having focused almost exclusively on playing keyboards and synths with his Experiment band, Glasper says he’s missed playing acoustic piano and here plays solely that instrument. He says he did not want to ignore the fan base created by his R&B and hip-hop inspired Black Radio and Black Radio 2 albums by recording standards or original jazz compositions, so he has selected tunes he loves to listen to across the spectrum. Few could have pulled off a potentially hazardous undertaking with such élan. The result is an intoxicating distillation of his prodigious skills as soloist with an ear for a great tune. The CD’s distinctiveness lies in the trio’s effortless transformations of R&B, neo-soul tunes and modern pop into jazz improvisations that transcend the originals. None of Radiohead’s Reckoner, Joni Mitchell’s Barangrill, Musiq Soulchild’s So Beautiful, Bilal’s Levels or John Legend’s Good Morning sounds out of place here. (Francis Graham-Dixon) ****

AHMAD JAMAL: LIVE IN MARCIAC AUGUST 5TH 2014 (Jazz Village)
Now a remarkably agile and elegant 85 years of age, Ahmad Jamal – once fatuously dismissed as a “cocktail pianist” but also famously endorsed by Miles Davis – continues to amaze and delight. His last two albums, Saturday Morning: La Buissonne Studio Sessions (top of JJ’s Critics’ New Issues Poll, 2013), and the almost equally impressive Blue Moon (2012), confirmed Jamal’s status as one of the great elder statesmen of jazz. With the same backing group, he delivered an often electrifying performance to an appreciative audience at Marciac in the south-west of France last year. The accompanying DVD also makes for compulsive viewing: Jamal’s firm but friendly leadership of his accompanists, the propulsive drumming of Riley, the percussive and exotic effects – particularly on Gypsy – produced by the ebullient Badrena (formerly of Weather Report), and Veal’s seemingly effortless dexterity (shades of Ray Brown) delight the eyes and the ears. Read this very carefully as I shall write it only once: Buy Live In Marciac immediately! (John White) *****

WYNTON KELLY: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS (Avid)
Kelly’s keyboard fire was referred to by Miles Davis as the “light for the cigarette. Without him there’s no smoking.” Here he is featured as trio and sextet leader, which gives a good idea of his supreme melodic gifts and light, easy swing. That swing was never more obvious than when he had Chambers and Philly Joe behind him and there are several good examples here of the three of them. This release includes Kelly’s first, impressive 10-inch LP for Blue Note, but the Kelly Blue session is the most impressive overall, due in no small measure to Adderley, Jasper, Golson and the rhythm players. (Derek Ansell) ****

LOOSE TUBES: ARRIVING (Lost Marble)
The Loose Tubes archive mine hasn’t completely dried up because the first seven tracks on this CD were recorded a quarter of a century ago. The bonus is a good 25 minutes’ worth from the latest concerts. A veritable cornucopia is here. Django Bates’ infectious Armchair March, his triumphant Eden Express and Chris Batchelor’s eastern-inflected The Wolf’s Dream And The Wild Eye, with Dai Pritchard offering a masterclass in serpentine clarinet. Then there’s Batchelor’s reflective trumpet solo permeating John Harborne’s tender ballad OA and the ironically titled processional closer, Arriving. This is as good as big bands get. Of the later set, Bates’ tempestuous As I Was Saying is followed by Eddie Parker’s constantly metamorphosing Bright Smoke, Cold Fire with notable solos from Parker and Steve Buckley, concluding with Batchelor’s fractured Creeper. There isn’t a duff track here and it’s all imbued with typically electrifying excitement. (Roger Farbey) *****

WES MONTGOMERY: THE UNISSUED 1965 HALF NOTE BROADCASTS (Jazz On Jazz)
Nobody with an ear for Wes Montgomery or Wynton Kelly will have heard and forgotten Smokin’ At The Half Note with its faultlessly creative, driving performances of No Blues, Unit 7, Four On Six and Impressions. Can this previously unissued programme offer more of that ineffable perfection? Well, the spirit is strong, the scene set by host Alan Grant in blustering Symphony Sid style. The pulse and playing are strong on the opening Impressions but what sounds like tape flutter, a rather thin amp tone and poor instrumental balance or miking are not on the music’s side. Kelly’s piano is frequently barely audible in accompaniment and distant in solo and the bass not much more palpable; the ride cymbal is dominant. Wes’s lines are sparkling but audio defects like these plague much of the set. The reproduction holds it to three stars for the musicality that is audible and Grant’s atmospherics, not least his closing exhortation to “stay beautiful”. (Mark Gilbert) ***

THE PRINTMAKERS: WESTERLY (Basho)
The Printmakers, co-led by Iles and Norma Winstone, features Mark Lockheart on reeds and Mike Walker on guitar, both on superb form and with an excellent rhythm section. The tunes, half of which were composed by Iles and Winstone, are often atmospheric love songs such as the languid I Do It For Your Love by Paul Simon, which Winstone interprets with sophisticated sensitivity. Both the title track, which has a near country and western feel complete with a banjo outro from Steve Watts, and the lively High Lands started life as part of the suite In All My Holy Mountain written by Iles in conjunction with poet Roger Garfitt. Beginning with a collective improvisation, John Taylor’s ‘O’ moves gloriously into a fast-paced swinging number with Winstone’s wordless vocals duetting with Lockheart’s soaring soprano sax. Tideaway, a relaxed Latin-tinged number, fittingly reflects the coastal surroundings of Norma Winstone’s house in Deal, Kent. This is the first album by The Printmakers, but the preternaturally cohesive and exquisitely satisfying music the group produces strongly suggests that this won’t be the last. (Roger Farbey) ****

ADAM ROGERS/DAVID BINNEY: R&B (Criss Cross)
How often do listeners wish to hear so-called creatives, purveyors of original material, tested against the standards? That’s what happens here. Rogers and Binney have long been at the forefront of original stylings in New York but a casual standards gig at the 55 Bar in New York prompted this Real Book outing. In the event they move rather inconspicuously through the set, Rogers with a dark, almost Methenyish cast and Binney with an often uninflected sound reminding of Konitz. The abiding impression, with a few exceptions (one is Binney’s heated solo on Sippin’, another the typically Binney-esque repetition in the coda of Skydive) is of a dry hour or so, with dramatic contour – rhythmic, dynamic and stylistic variety – in short supply. The results of the test of my opening question suggest that both fare better on original contemporary material – Binney spectacularly on his own records such as Anacapa (five-star reviewed in JJ 1014) and Rogers with, e.g., Randy Brecker years ago and more recently with Chris Potter and on Binney’s own records. (Mark Gilbert) ***

SIR CHARLES THOMPSON: WITH YOSHIO TOYAMA & DIXIE SAINTS (Jazzology)
Pianist Sir Charles Thompson (Lester Young dubbed him “Sir” because there was already a Duke, Count and an Earl) went to live in Japan in 1987 and stayed for 10 years. On this disc he is teamed with a number of his Japanese musician friends and they have produced a programme of upbeat, happy, uncomplicated music with good ensembles and engaging work from the various soloists. Body And Soul is taken at a brighter tempo than usual and the pianist’s introduction to One O’Clock Jump needs to be heard. Trombonist Tadanori Konakawa’s solo on In A Sentimental Mood is quite superb. Sophisticated timeless mainstream jazz with a Dixie feel to relish. (Brian Robinson) ****

DAVID TORN: ONLY SKY (ECM)
There are few artists whose projects engender quite so much expectation in me as David Torn. A uniquely skewed post-rock improviser, shrewd producer, writer of evocative film scores and the inimitable foil for left-of-centre songsmiths including Davids Bowie and Sylvian, his artistic monogram is invariably a guarantee of something special. Torn’s own-name recordings are regrettably few and far between – this is the first full-length disc since 2007’s Prezens – but the drip-feed exposure only seems to add to his overall mystique. Cast alone with just his guitars and effects rig for company, in this stunning if somewhat unsettling set of soundscapes Torn has produced perhaps his most direct and unfiltered work to date. It’s a truly fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the great creative forces of our time and each successive listen should reveal fresh new dimensions for many years to come. (Fred Grand) *****

BARNEY WILEN: PREMIER CHAPITRE 1954-1961 (Frémeaux & Associés)
One of France’s finest modernists, who combined the weight of Rollins with the elegance of Young, Wilen (1937-1996) came to international attention through his work with Davis on the Lift To The Scaffold soundtrack. This three-CD compilation includes some of that as well as further choice extracts from, e.g., John Lewis’s and Sacha Distel’s Afternoon In Paris and Wilen’s own Jazz Sur Seine. Wilen spoke later of a “bop monoculture” and made exploratory albums but one could argue that he never surpassed the harmonically informed beauty of tone, phrase and idea evident in these largely bop-driven sides. Alain Tercinet’s magisterial French/English sleeve essay rounds out an indispensable release. (Michael Tucker) *****

 

 


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