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, 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 August 2016 (see below for excerpts):
Aadnekvam, Steinar: Freedoms Trio (Losen 149)
Allard, Chris: Invisible Landscape (Perdido 1601)
Barbarin, Paul/Wilbur DeParis: Rare Cuts - Well Done Vol.3 (Jazz Crusade 3072)
Bareket, Eden: Choice (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 500)
Bernstein, Peter: Let Loose (Smoke Sessions 1604)
Bissonnette, Bill & The Easy Riders Jazz Band: Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (Jazz Crusade 3060)
Bley, Carla/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow: Andando El Tiempo (ECM 477 9711)
Brann, Craig: A Conversation Between Brothers (SteepleChase 31814)
Bryant, Ray: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1190)
Burk, Greg; Clean Spring (SteepleChase 33124)
Caliman, Hadley: The Catalyst Years (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 896)
Carter, Ron: All Blues (CTI 6037, vinyl)
Charlap, Bill: Notes From New York (Impulse! 4778388)
Chevallier, Christian: Le Prince Du Jazz Français (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 893)
Coltrane, John: The Atlantic Years - In Mono (Atlantic/Warner 0081227946401)
Counce, Curtis: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1196)
Croker, Theo: Escape Velocity (Okeh 88875107562)
Danielsson, Lars/Marius Neset/Morton Lund: Sun Blowing (ACT 9821)
Davis, Miles/Duke Ellington: The Complete Jazz At The Plaza (Essential Jazz Classics 55697)
DeJohnette, Jack/Ravi Coltrane/Matthew Garrison: In Movement (ECM 478 1598)
Edwards, Teddy: The Inimitable Teddy Edwards (Elemental 906087)
Ellington, Duke: The Complete Newport 1956 Concert (Essential Jazz Classics 55687)
Ervin, Booker/& Horace Parlan: Complete 4tet/5tet/6tet Recordings (Phono 870251)
Evans, Bill: Some Other Time (Resonance 2019)
Fort, Anat/Trio w. Gianluigi Troyesi: Birdwatching (ECM 473 2357)
Garrett, Kenny: Do Your Dance! (Mack Avenue 1098)
Getz, Stan: Live In Amsterdam/Dusseldorf/Zurich, 1960 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 897)
Getz, Stan/Mose Allison: The Soft Swing (Phono 870254)
Graas, John/Art Pepper: Complete Small Group Sessions (Phono 870252)
Green, Bunky: Playin' For Keeps (Phono 870248)
Grey, Sonny: Barcelona 1967 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 900)
Grusin, Dave: Kaleidoscope (Columbia/Legacy 88985308452)
Hall, Herb: Old Tyme Modern (Sackville 3003)
Henry, Cory: The Revival (Decca 4780950)
Hill, Marquis: The Way We Play (Concord Jazz 3671002)
If: If5 (Repertoire 1289)
Jamal, Ahmad: Trio & Quintet Recordings With Ray Crawford (Él ACMEMD309)
Jones, Sam: Changes & Things (Elemental 906088)
Kallen, Kitty: Little Things Mean A Lot (Retrospective 4290)
Konitz, Lee: Stereokonitz (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985311602)
Krog, Karin/John Surman/Ben Surman: Infinite Paths (Meantime 23)
Lee, Jeanne/Ran Blake: The Newest Sound Around (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985308522)
Lewis, Mel: Septet & Sextet (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 895)
Liebman, Dave/Richie Beirach: Balladscapes (Intuition 3444)
Magris, Roberto: Need To Bring Out Love (Jmood 013)
Marie, René: Sound Of Red (Motéma 234231)
McKinney's Cotton Pickers/Don Redman: Never Swat A Fly (Retrospective 4291)
McLean, Benet: The Bopped And The Bopless (33Xtreme 008)
Mehldau, Brad: Blues And Ballads (Nonesuch 554678)
Merrill, Helen: Parole E Musica (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985311612)
Metheny, Pat: The Unity Sessions (Nonesuch 554569)
Murray-Allen-Carrington Power Trio: Perfection (Motéma 234221)
Niescier, Angelika/Florian Weber: NYC Five (Intakt 263)
Payne, Cecil/Duke Jordan: Brooklyn Brothers (Elemental 906089)
Petrucciani, Michel: Both Worlds Live/North Sea Jazz Festival (Dreyfus 538192130)
Powell, Bud: Strictly Powell (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985308582)
Preston/Glasgow/Lowe: Preston Glasgow Lowe (Whirlwind 4686)
QCBA Quartet: Beauty In Quiet Places (Ubuntu 002)
Rahman, Zoe: Dreamland (Manu 006)
Reilly, Jack: Masks (Unichrom 9001)
Reilly, Jack; Pure Passion (Unichrom 9007)
Rimington, Sammy/Bill Bissonnette: Watering The Roots (Jazz Crusade 3011)
Robert, George: Plays Michel Legrand (Claves 50-1607)
Rowe, Vimala/John Etheridge: Out Of The Sky (Dyad 028)
Russell, George/And His Smalltet: The RCA Victor Jazz Workshop (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985310432)
Six-In-One: Subjects And Structures (Slam 2102)
Surman, John: Westering Home (Fledg’ling 3093)
Toussaint, Allen: American Tunes (Nonesuch 554644)
Toussaint, Allen: The Complete Warner Recordings (Rhino 081227946968)
Various: Vol Pour Sidney (Nato 2149)
Various: Tasavallan Presidentti + Jukka Hauru & Superkings: Pop Liisa 01/02 (Svart 003)
Various: Wigwam + Taivaanvuohi: Pop Liisa 03/04 (Svart 006)
Various: Unisono Quartet + Taivaan- Temppeli: Jazz Liisa 01/02 (Svart 021)
Various: Jukka Tolonen Ramblin’ Jazz Band + Kom Quartet: Jazzliisa 03/04 (Svart 024)
Vaughan, Sarah: Live At Rosy's (Resonance 2017)
Vaughan, Sarah: Swingin' Easy + At Mister Kelly's (Essential Jazz Classics 55698)
Vu, Cuong/Trio: Meets Pat Metheny (Nonesuch 554650)
Watts, Ernie: Wheel Of Time (Flying Dolphin 1011)
Wiggins, Gerald: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1191)
Wilson, John/Orchestra: Gershwin In Hollywood (Warner 0825646493739)
Wolf, Warren: Convergence (Mack Avenue 1105)
Yeoh, Nikki: Solo Gemini (Infinitum 001)

Excerpts from the 82 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):

A companion volume to 2013’s acclaimed trio set, Andando El Tiempo arrives to mark Carla Bley’s 80th birthday on 11 May. Such a distinguished age has done nothing to limit Bley’s originality and resourcefulness as a composer and arranger for what she describes here as “really big band music reduced”. The three-part title track addresses the slow recovery of an addict from addiction to a new and healthy life, its music distinguished by Sheppard’s airily nonchalant yet emotionally powerful tenor sax, Swallow’s precise and poised electric bass and Bley’s spare, thoughtful playing. The final track is Bley’s wedding present to Sheppard and new wife Sara, a stately piece with nods to Mendelssohn that showcases Sheppard’s haunting soprano. Throughout there is a reserve that one does not usually associate with Bley’s music, but that only adds to this set’s many strengths. It’s a fine 80th birthday present. (Simon Adams) ****

These recordings, all from the first half of the long and distinguished career of Ray Bryant (1931-2011), reveal the hallmark elements of his style – a unique amalgam of blues, boogie-woogie, gospel, stride and bebop piano, and an authoritative left hand. Pride of place easily goes to his first solo album, Alone With The Blues. I bought the LP when it was first released in 1958, and have been playing it (and its CD successors) ever since. Quite simply, this is a tour de force: a set of five original blues, together with riveting renditions of Lover Man and Rockin’ Chair. Alternately uplifting (Joy), nimble (Stocking Feet), darkly complexioned (Me And The Blues) and laid-back (Rocking Chair), this seminal album, once heard, is not forgotten. Happily, Bryant (who enjoyed enormous popularity in Japan) was to go on and record many outstanding (live and studio) solo and trio albums. Solely on the strength of Alone With The Blues, this Avid set deserves five stars. (John White) *****

A smoother, “more integrated sound; a sonic environment that feels natural rather than contrived or manipulated” – so says Ashley Kahn in his liner note to this set. As the record company say, this is the way most of us heard them in 1959-1961. Many jazz enthusiasts swear by the superior quality of the mono originals, with the crisp horns and strong, firm bass placed right in front of you. At that time stereo was in its infancy; few sound engineers were comfortable with it and even fewer could get a good balance. Rudy Van Gelder famously asked if he could “do them all in mono” when assigned to remastering all the classic 50s & 60s Blue Notes from ’57-65. Blue Note said “No”! To my ears Atlantic and Van Gelder were right: it is sheer pleasure to hear Coltrane roaring through the changes on Giant Steps again and hearing it as it was and, if Atlantic are right, was meant to be. Coltrane’s first steps as a full-time leader are all captured here and it is a luxury but still essential box for true enthusiasts. The set is available as a six-CD box but the 45 rpm single is only with the vinyl set. Attractive box, full album covers and comprehensive booklet are all included. Highly recommended. (Derek Ansell) *****

Theo Croker – grandson of trumpeter Doc Cheatham – mixes early jazz influences, jazz fusion, hip-hop and contemporary electronics (sequencing, samples and synthesizers) on Escape Velocity. Croker’s warm tone and spirituality lend grace, Overall’s drums add muscle and swing. Dee Dee Bridgewater guests on the hypnotic, soulful, Love From The Sun, which she first recorded in 1974. Croker’s plaintive duet with Michael King’s piano, Rahspect (Amen), and the meditative Because Of You wouldn’t be out of place on an ECM release. The sequences and samples might be too central at times but Croker never lets the music take second place. (Bruce Lindsay) ****

It’s something of a cliché to suggest that one track is worth the price of an album, but it’s a not unreasonable claim where Diminuendo In Blue And Crescendo In Blue is concerned. It still holds legendary status as the performance that resuscitated the orchestra’s stagnating career. It was an unexpected success though: for Duke the important part of the concert was the unveiling of his Festival Suite. Apparently this was not well-appreciated, but it deserved to be received warmly, with its characteristically elegant themes, orchestration and debonair swing in Duke’s score, a snatch of faux bebop thrown in, and nice solo work by pretty much everybody. The original LP contained the Festival Suite, Jeep’s Blues and Dim/Cres. Of these, only the last-named was genuinely from the Newport concert: the other tracks were actually recorded two days later in the studio, complete with announcements, faked ambient noise and dubbed-in applause. On this release, as on previous CD issues, we get the genuine Newport performances plus the whole of the studio session but this time there are a few interesting bonuses. (Barry Witherden) *****

From being a teenager in Duke Ellington’s band (led by Duke’s son Mercer) through his time with Miles Davis, Garrett has built a career that has put him at the forefront of contemporary alto saxophonists. He is a prime example of post-bop musicians who have taken the story along apace without giving in to the lure of free improvisation. On Do Your Dance we are treated to a varied programme of original compositions covering a mixture of moods, tempos and, as seems de rigueur at the moment, a touch of rap; the latter of course is an acquired taste. But it is the leader’s own playing that dominates the nine tracks, buoyed up by some seriously committed support. The motif/theme of Philly is the springboard for a charging opening solo from the leader. As the titles imply, the rhythmic emphasis is a constantly changing one with the insistent vamp of Persian Steps invoking a touch of the Middle East in a manner that Coltrane occasionally used. When we arrive at Chasing The Wind the tenor great is brought to mind again. This release might not find Garrett at his absolute finest but it shines in many ways. (Peter Gamble) ****

This was the Granz tour on which Stan got to play with John Coltrane. The experience didn’t change either of them. At its start the tour included Miles Davis and his band, Oscar Peterson’s trio and Stan’s four. But on the first night in Paris Stan fell out with his Scandinavian bassist and drummer and fired both on the spot. He was lucky to be able to borrow bass and drums from Oscar’s trio to complement the urbane Johansson. Brown and Thigpen also had Getz form and fell in behind him wonderfully, producing what sounds to be one of the best quartets Getz ever led. The opening of Out Of Nowhere will blow you away and from then on the music never flags for a nanosecond. Getz was at his peak and sounds thoroughly happy. The tracks are satisfyingly long, giving time for Johansson to fly, too. I can keep this short. Buy it. (Steve Voce) *****

“Scarcely a note of any of the jazz music under his own name is worth bothering with” wrote Richard Cook of Dave Grusin in his jazz encyclopedia. One would hope that assessment didn’t include Kaleidoscope which to my (perhaps cloth) ears, swings along perfectly acceptably in a 60s cocktail-bar sort of way. Workings of standards such as Straight No Chaser, Stella By Starlight and Blue Monk may not win prizes for stunning originality, but sometimes all music needs to do is engage and entertain, rather than bludgeon you over the head with cleverness. Grusin engages and entertains perfectly well here for 45 minutes or so – job done. (John Adcock) ****

Having already established herself as a major jazz singer on par with the giants of the past, René Marie has recently shown her skill as a songwriter. Here again she has written words and music for a selection of songs that range widely in style and form. The opening track has a sinuously bluesy feel and sets up what develops through the set as a musical and lyrical tour de force. Other songs have rhythmic hints of gospel and here and there are also touches of Latin music. Her vocal sound is rich and fluid and superbly musical. She also adds a surprisingly effective touch of whistling on a couple of occasions, something heard rarely nowadays (not even in the street). Although these songs draw upon the singer’s personal experience and heritage, they also reach out to and draw in the listener. This is jazz singing at its very best and is unreservedly recommended. (Bruce Crowther) ****

This is ASV Living Era 5518 right down to Vic Bellerby’s 2005 liner note, retitled and with Tight Like That added to the original 25 tracks. Many of them document the unrequited love that Don Redman had for a lady called Hannah, and I’ve followed the revealed inlets over the years. Rocky Road, with its Rex Stewart explosion, is another of Don’s sad songs of great beauty. There are some of the best craftsmen of their time involved here, many of them little known. We all say the Cotton Pickers are overlooked, but everyone seems to like them, and these are 79 minutes to relish. (Steve Voce) ****

Michael Tucker observed in his review of The Unity Sessions DVD (see JJ, February 2016) that Metheny’s recent work with his Unity Band has spawned some of the most full-on, mainstream-friendly yet wide-ranging and stimulating music of his long career. Metheny had felt a pull to make “a more traditional horn-plus-rhythm-section type record”, his 80/81 being the only precedent. In 2013, for the first time since 1980, Metheny recorded with a band featuring tenor saxophone. A fan of Chris Potter since the saxophonist played with Red Rodney in the 90s, he was inspired by the thought of building a setting with Potter and long-time collaborator, Antonio Sanchez. Bassist Ben Williams caught his ear some years before as a Juilliard student. The set is characterised by a spontaneity, joyous vibrancy and conviction attributable surely to the extraordinary chemistry between the band members and it succeeds on his terms, brimming with the energy, focus and intensity of the band’s rapid development. (Francis Graham-Dixon) *****

Cecil Payne and Duke Jordan shared the distinction of working with the twin founders of bebop in the music’s prime. Duke was pianist in Charlie Parker’s finest quintet while Cecil anchored the sax section in Dizzy Gillespie’s trailblazing big band in the same year, 1947. This 1973 set, produced by Don Schlitten, a fan of both players, marked their first recorded reunion for a dozen years. Jordan’s melodic piano was the perfect companion for Payne’s mellow bari. Unlike, for example, Leo Parker, Cecil never went in for strident bluster, preferring a more composed, laidback approach (Lester Young was his idol). The programme here contains three originals apiece by the co-leaders. Several tunes reflect the Latin influences that both men absorbed, most noticeably on Payne’s Cu-Ba and Jordan’s No Problem. The album stands as one of the finest examples of a wonderful musical partnership. Sam Jones’s ever sturdy bass lines and a youthful Al Foster’s surprisingly mature drumming ensured the ideal context for two master musicians to deliver their mellifluous messages. (Mark Gardner) *****

This new release presents previously unissued recordings in a triple set of two CDs plus a DVD of the North Sea Jazz Festival concert. The compositions are all Michel Petrucciani originals apart from Take The “A” Train. The concert was recorded only some six months before the French pianist’s untimely death, and he is on superb form. As the liner notes say, “Don’t look any further for confirmation of Michel Petrucciani’s playing vitality in 1998”. The tunes were well chosen for this group to shine – an energetic brass section of Stefano Di Battista, Flavio Boltro and Denis Leloup are anchored by an inspired Anthony Jackson and Steve Gadd. The two pieces on the bonus CD2, recorded live with the Hague Philharmonic one year earlier, provide an interesting contrast. They show that Petrucciani was equally at ease orchestrating his compositions in the framework of a much larger setting. The strings never feel out of place and complement his unique writing voice. (Francis Graham-Dixon) ****

Zoe Rahman’s technical proficiency is exceptional. Technique is one thing, but this pianist has so much else to offer, digging deeply and very satisfyingly into the intellectual and emotional depths of the music. Not only that, she is an excellent composer in richly varied styles. Nine of these tracks are her own and they vividly display this aspect of her talent. In addition to her own compositions, Rahman brings her special skills to the work of three other pianists. These are Jessica Williams, The Sheikh, Duke Ellington, A Single Petal Of A Rose, and Abdullah Ibrahim, Sunset In Blue; while on These Foolish Things she acknowledges Thelonious Monk’s interpretation of the standard. Here Rahman follows the trend of many of her live appearances, playing unaccompanied. The result is confirmation that she is one of the very best musicians of today. This is outstanding jazz piano playing and is very warmly recommended. (Bruce Crowther) ****

Surman’s first attempt at multi-channel recording isn’t as potent as his astounding work with Westbrook and others but he takes to the new methods like a walrus to water, and that attractive track with its bass clarinets has a feeling of a latterday Creole Love Call. Rill-A-Ree is crowded with five minutes of an assault course of imaginative baritone. You’ll think your CD player has crashed during the first couple of minutes of Watershed, for until the recorder sings it is the quietest music track I’ve ever heard. But don’t fall asleep. No one ever sleeps when Surman’s on. This was originally on Island. (Steve Voce) ****


post a comment