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 releases in every issue

Complete list of CDs reviewed in JJ March 2016 (see below for excerpts):
Aarset, Eivind: I.E. (Jazzland 0602547307248)
Alcorn, John/Vaché/Eisenman/Schwager/Wallace: Flying Without Wings (Loach 1001)
Berman, Josh: A Dance And A Hop (Delmark 5021)
Borey, Frederic: Wink (Fresh Sound FSNT 486)
Buechi, Sarah: Shadow Garden (Intakt 259/2015)
Burrell, Kenny: The Road To Love (HighNote 7284)
Castro, Joe: Lush Life/A Musical Journey (Sunnyside 1391)
Chapin, Jim: Sextet/Skin Tight (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 881)
Charles, Teddy: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1174)
Claps, Eleonora: Stars (Red Desert ECSTRS6)
Coltrane, John: A Love Supreme, Complete Masters Super Deluxe Edition (Impulse! 0602547489470)
Coltrane, John: Complete 1963 Copenhagen Concert (Solar 4569964)
Cowell, Stanley: Reminiscent (SteepleChase 31809)
Dick, Corrie: Impossible Things (Chaos Collective 006)
Dowling, Sara: From Shadows Into Light (
Ellington, Duke: The Treasury Shows, Vol. 20 (Storyville 903 9020)
Fairweather, Digby/Stan Barker: The Definitive Duets Vol.1 (Rose Cottage 006)
Faye, Frances: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1177)
Fischer, Clare: Out Of The Blue (Clavo 201509)
Fitzgerald, Ella: Christmas With Ella & Friends (Decca 5365352)
Fooks, Jo/Al Nicholls: Just You Just Me (Harlem 012)
Friedman, Don: Nite Lites (Fresh Sound FSR 5056)
Grissett, Danny: The In-Between (Criss Cross 1382)
Gullin, Lars: Complete 1951-1955 Studio Master Takes (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 884)
Gumpert, Ulrich: A New One (Intakt 257/2015)
Johnson, Alphonso: Moonshadows/Yesterday's Dreams/Spellbound (Beat Goes On 1211)
Johnson, James P: Classic James P. Johnson Sessions (1921-43) (Mosaic MD7-262)
Johnson, TJ: In Retrospect, A Celebration Of 30 Years In Jazz And Blues (Upbeat 268)
King Peggy: Songs A La King (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 5503)
Lars Jansson: Satori (Prophone 152)
London Gay Big Band:  Brave (
Mazurek, Rob/Exploding Star Orchestra: Galactic Parables: Volume 1 (Cuneiform 409-10)
Menza, Don: Live At Carmelo's (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 883)
Mingus, Charles/Eric Dolphy Sextet: Complete Bremen Concert (Domino 891230)
Monder, Ben: Amorphae (ECM 471 9555)
Monk, Thelonious: Complete Columbia Live Albums Collection (Columbia Legacy 88697995802)
Nordic Circles: Winter Rainbow (AMP 002)
NYSQ: Power Of 10 (Whirlwind 4680)
Opus 5: Tickle (Criss Cross 1383)
Pastorius, Jaco: Jaco Original Soundtrack (Columbia 88875141332)
Perkins, Carl: Introducing (Phono 870233)
Perry, Rich: Organique (SteepleChase 31805)
Riley, Howard/Jaki Byard: R&B (Slam 2100)
Riley, Stephen/Peter Zak: Haunted Heart (SteepleChase 31806)
Rollins, Sonny/Teddy Edwards: At Music Inn & Falcon's Lair (DreamCovers 6099)
Scott, Tom: Apple Juice (Beat Goes On 1217)
Shakatak: Drivin' Hard (Secret 132)
Smith, Daniel: Keys To The Highway (Pinetops 100)
Splashgirl: Hibernation (Hubro 2559)
Sunshine, Monty: Remembering Monty Sunshine (Lake 344)
Toussaint, Allen: Life, Love And Faith/Southern Nights/Motion (Beat Goes On 1211)
Turner, Joe: The Boss Of The Blues Sings Kansas City Jazz (Atlantic 1234, vinyl)
UMO/With Michael Brecker: Live In Helsinki 1995 (Random Act 1018)
Various: Woody Allen: La Musique (Milan 399 760)
Various: Jazz At The Movies - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Downhome 0002)
Various: Jazz On Film…The New Wave II (Moochin’ About 05)
Various: Jazz From America On Disques Vogue (Disques Vogue Legacy 00300 88751 4096)
Various: Jazz/10 Classic Original Albums (Sony 88875150802)
VerPlanck, Marlene: The Mood I'm In (Audiophile 348)
Vinten, Jonathan: Lullaby Of The Leaves (
Wallington, George: Complete 1956-1957 Quintet (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 882)
Warren, Annette: There's A Man In My Life (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 885)
Weeds, Cory/Jeff Hamilton: This Happy Madness (Cellar Live 042015)
Westbrook, Mike/The Uncommon Orchestra: A Bigger Show Live (ASC 162163)
Weston, Randy: Blue Moses (CTI 6016, vinyl)
Whiskey Brothers: Bottle Up And Go (Big Bear 54)
Williams, Joe: That Kind Of Woman + Sentimental & Melancholy (Poll Winners 27350)
Williams, Joe/Harry "Sweets" Edison: Complete Small-Group Sessions (American Jazz Classics 99125)
Woods, Phil: New Jazz Quintet & Quartet (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 880)

Excerpts from the 69 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):

Burrell was BB King’s favourite, “overall the greatest guitarist in the world”. In terms of the core evolving mainstream of the music, I’d find it hard to disagree. Burrell has made one terrific album after another, melding blues power and harmonic sophistication, mellow warmth and stinging rhythmic authority. Recorded live with excellent sound at Catalina’s in Hollywood, The Road To Love finds the master in peerless form, relaxed yet burning as he carves his way through a programme rich in pleasures now blue and salty (Papa), now reflective and yearning (Listen To The Dawn). (Michael Tucker) *****

Joe Castro, a talented but nowadays rather obscure jazz pianist, had the good fortune of a long relationship with Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress and reputedly the richest woman in the world. She provided him with state-of-the-art performance and recording studios at two of her palatial homes – Falcon’s Lair in Beverly Hills (previously owned by Rudolf Valentino) and Duke Farms in New Jersey. There from 1954 to 1966, he invited top players from the east and west coasts to join them and their friends for regular jam and recording sessions. This is an important release, not least because it comes from a previously unknown cache of recordings by major jazzmen. More is promised by Sunnyside. (Bob Weir) ****

A name new to me and possibly to many readers, Jim Chapin was regarded highly as a drumming technician and educator. High-profile jazz gigs were not his style, and this album contains his only recordings as a group leader. The first session perhaps owes something to the Shorty Rogers Giants. Phil Woods is suitably boppish but often recalls the sweeter tones of Art Pepper. There cannot be many examples on record of Woods the arranger, more’s the pity on the evidence here. By the next date, drums are everywhere. We are told Chapin got together with Bob Wilber, who did the actual arrangements, and what they came up with was a kind of mini-Buddy Rich effect. In short, worth checking out for scarcity value, with the assurance that the best bits are pretty good. (Ronald Atkins) ****

Although they were a generation apart in age, these two formed a particularly close partnership. They had both exchanged sensible jobs for the jazz life, so perhaps the cameraderie of escapees had something to do with it. This live set captures them in fine form. Digby’s playing was very much under the influence of Ruby Braff in those days – not an easy place to be from the technical point of view, but he manages the sudden changes of register, half-valve interpolations and the rest with marvellous aplomb. Barker was an endlessly resourceful one-man rhythm section and first-class soloist. Interestingly, his basic timekeeping method here is neither stride nor single-line walking bass, but a Garner-style four-in-a-bar. This set was recorded live by BBC Merseyside, and originally released as one half of a double album so there may be more to come. Let’s hope so. (Dave Gelly) ****

This is what you might call the prequel to Fresh Sound’s album of the same title that covers 1956-60. By 1951, the year that these recordings began, the Swedish saxophone players had achieved a unique sophistication in their adoption of bebop and Gullin was their most eloquent exponent. He was a player of great imagination who could turn ordinary pop songs into jazz classics and, as with the other jazz Swedes, his original compositions had a freshness and simplicity about them. Only the ultimate cream of British musicians could have held their own in this company. I have been unable to find a dud track amongst the 79, and that says a lot about the musical consistency. There are no dull patches or lapses in taste. The sound quality throughout is faultless and Fresh Sound have provided an excellent 36-page booklet to go with their attractive and robust box. It’s packed with good photographs that evoke the period and informed notes by Ray Comiskey, who provides great detail on each of the players. (Steve Voce) ****

The 22-piece London Gay Big Band was formed in 2011 and has achieved considerable success, notably reaching the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2014. For this, their debut album, they have teamed up with a series of well-regarded singers. Clare Teal makes a particularly good fist of Too Darn Hot, Sarah Moule is forthright on Feet Do Your Stuff, by her favoured Fran Landesman, while Rachel Weston is quietly sublime on Arlen and Koehler’s When The Sun Comes Out. The arrangements are punchy in traditional big-band style, the different sections tight throughout, the solos well paced. What’s not to like? (Simon Adams) ****

This is the sixth album as leader from Brooklyn-based guitarist Ben Monder but his debut as leader for ECM and a departure for him in that it’s entirely improvised except for a re-orchestrated Oh, What A Beautiful Morning. Monder’s luminous guitar voice hangs like a cloud as he creates dreamlike, post-apocalyptic textures, and track titles like Tendrils, Triffids and Dinosaur Skies only add to the sense of mystery and other-worldliness. It’s thoughtfully done, and strangely compelling, with shades of jazz, psychedelic rock, electronic and ambient textures all featuring in the mix. Amidst the epic soundscaping that will be familiar to many ECM followers (Monder set the decay on his trusty Lexicon LXP-1 reverb unit to maximum for what he calls “extreme sustain”), Monder looked for new pitch sets, using in Hematophagy, for example, the symmetrical eight-note scale of Olivier Messaien’s Mode VI. Altogether, it’s dark, mind altering stuff. (John Adcock) ****

During his tenure with Columbia, Monk made several “live” recordings and all are included in this collection. Most, if not all, will be familiar to devout Monkians, but these remastered – in some cases extended – versions of the originals offer fresh perspectives on his post-Blue Note/Riverside oeuvre. The Tokyo concert includes driving versions of Straight No Chaser, Hackensack, and a solo rendition of Just A Gigolo. Charlie Rouse is in splendid form. The 1963 Monk at Newport set famously included Pee Wee Russell on two titles – Nutty and Blue Monk. Off Minor and Hackensack, from the 1965 NJF, are particularly impressive. The Big Band And Quartet In Concert (1963) is widely regarded as one of Monk’s finest achievements. His exchanges and interactions with Rouse and the orchestra on a haunting Osaka T and the fleet Four In One are sheer delight. The It Club and Jazz Workshop titles are practically identical. On the former, there are finely wrought versions of Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-Are, Bright Mississippi and Bemsha Swing; the latter has a sublime solo interpretation of Memories Of You – slightly marred by audience chatter. In sum, here is cordon-bleu Monk. (John White) *****

NYSQ: POWER OF 10 (Whirlwind)
Saxophonist Tim Armacost’s New York Standards Quartet has set out to interpret standards in a way that allows audiences to connect with the familiar while playing in the “contemporary” style it has developed in New York over 30 years. Embraceable You stands as a vindication of the intent, the treatment circumventing the song’s slightly overbearing male sentiment. In the same way, Lush Life is made to carry more interesting baggage than its Strayhorn simplicity could ever foretell, though in the wistful cameo that is Lush Effect Berkman the soloist reminds us of its essence. This is a birthday celebrated with pooled energy and some uninhibited free-wheeling. (Nigel Jarrett) ****

It was the next year’s Nightbirds that brought them real chart success, but the 1981 debut album caused a stir and the lead-off track Livin’ In The UK still conjures up that strange moment – the Yorkshire Ripper, the Maggie and Ronnie show, the Charles and Di show, Tebbit’s dad’s bike, Greenham Common, Bobby Sands – better than anything else. Sharpe’s intelligent jazz-funk stands the test of time amazingly well, with a tight blend of keys, guitars and drums, plus choired vocals from Gill Saward and Jackie Rawe (aka UK Sluts). Relevance to JJ and to British jazz is self-evident when you hear it. This is what filled the gap between Elastic Rock and Journey To The Urge Within. (Brian Morton) ****

Scott’s Impulse! debut The Honeysuckle Breeze in 1967 saw him mixing together a bunch of pop songs with a heartfelt but low-impact Naima. A decade on, and with a zillion TV sessions behind him, he’d found a voice and forte with an original brand of funky soul-jazz that came east on New York Connection. Five years on, he leads essentially that same band, plus the 20-year-old Marcus Miller (in for Chuck Rainey), onto the narrow stage of the Bottom Line at 4th and Mercer in Greenwich Village. The band’s awesome, and apart from the “special” guest spot by Dr John on So White And So Funky, the material’s great. Scott’s superior bar-room tenor isn’t to every taste, and even some fans baulk at his soprano playing, which can be a little like biting down on silver foil when eating chocolate, but the arrangements are flawless and the molten solo lines are irresistible. Tee, Gale, McCracken and Gadd could give any band in the country a run for its money and Ralph MacDonald adds a sprinkle of spice to everything. Terrific stuff. (Brian Morton) ****

During the 1970s Allen Toussaint established himself as a recording artist, releasing two New Orleans sets for Reprise and ending the decade with Motion, his solitary recording for Warner Bros, produced in Los Angeles by the famed Jerry Wexler. None sold that well, but all three were packed with fine songs, many covered later by artists such as Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt and Lowell George. All the 32 finely crafted songs here are distinguished by their strong melodies and easy soul-funk rhythms, performed in the main by some of New Orleans’s finest musicians. A hugely enjoyable compilation. (Simon Adams) ****

Michael Brecker, who died all too young at 57 from leukaemia, is still sorely missed by many. This recording, expertly captured by the Finnish Broadcasting Company, is a real gem since Brecker was at the top of his game. There are some stunning numbers here, none more so than Finnish pianist and composer Kirmo Lintinen’s Ginare in which Brecker and fel- low tenor saxophonist Manuel Dunkel partake in an exhilarating cutting contest (a score draw). Other standouts are a scorching reading of Horace Silver’s Nutville and Brecker’s own Slang and Song For Barry. But frankly, it’s all stu- pendous. (Roger Farbey) *****

It maybe an unfamiliar name but you could well be familiar with her voice. Annette is one of those top-quality singers whose voice is used to overdub film actresses with, shall we say, vocally challenged singing styles. Most famously she overdubbed Ava Gardner’s voice in the film of Showboat. She has also had a multitude of gigs in clubs, revues and even appeared on film as an actress – just once! Sacked from one radio show in the early days for being “too jazzy”, Annette has had a busy career in many different setups using her clear, vibrant voice and is still going strong at the time of writing. The singing is spot on throughout but jazz buffs will most likely get the best from the trio tracks with Paul Smith and bassist Red Callender. (Derek Ansell) ****

The standards of Phil Woods’s 1955 New Jazz Quintet were phenomenally high for a band of youngsters. The repertoire included some tortuous and difficult lines, negotiated with great facility. Jon Eardley melded in extraordinary ensemble pairings with the alto and played attractive lyrical solos. Woods himself stood out from all his contemporaries. Fired by Parker, he had a powerful style of his own and, despite impaired lungs later on, kept his fine original sound throughout his life. George Syran is a tasteful and accomplished pianist who deserved at least a footnote in the encyclopedias (he doesn’t get one). The more powerful piano playing on some tracks marks John Williams out as a major figure who ranked with Woods. Woods was one of the most consistent of jazz players and his muscular agility on these tracks is exciting and perfectly articulated. Slow Boat To China, fast and with a tremendous dialogue between Woods and Williams, is the most exciting track on the album. The music hasn’t dated one little bit. (Steve Voce) ****


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