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 September 2016 (see below for excerpts):
Armstrong, Louis: Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven (Essential Jazz Classics 55690)
Asherie, Ehud: Shuffle Along (
Asmussen, Svend: Svend Asmussen - 100 Years/The Incomparable Fiddler (Storyville 108 8618)
Bailey, Dave: The One Foot In The Gutter (Epic/Legacy 88985308352)
Baker, Chet: Chet Is Back! (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985311592)
Bloom, Jane Ira: Early Americans (Outline 142)
Brown, Stu: Twisted Toons Vol. 2 (Cadiz LS002)
Bryant, Ray: Little Susie (Columbia/Legacy 88985308362)
Burton, Gary: A Genuine Tong Funeral (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985308372)
Burum: Llef (Bopa 002)
Carewe, Mary: A Crush On You/Songs By George Gershwin (Coviello Classics 91606)
Carlés, Rubén: Water Lily (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 501)
Chat Noir: Nine Thoughts For One Word (RareNoise 064)
Clatworthy, Benn/John Donaldson/Simon Thorpe/Matt Home: What's Going On (Laughing Lettuce 720)
Claver, Joan: Triangle (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 508)
Coleman, George: A Master Speaks (Smoke Sessions 1603)
Coles, Johnny: The Warm Sound (Epic/Legacy 88985308402)
Collier, Jacob In My Room (Membran 234267)
Coltrane, John: Stockholm Concerts/The Complete November 19, 1962 (Solar 4569970)
Cordez, Greg: Paper Crane (Ninety and Nine 022)
Crosland, Ben: The Ray Davies Songbook (Jazz Cat 116)
Dale, Eyolf: Wolf Valley (Edition 1073)
Davis, Miles/Quintet w. John Coltrane: The Legendary 1960 European Tour (Solar 4569971)
Desmond, Paul: Easy Living (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985308422)
Ellington, Duke: Far East Suite (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985308412)
Evans, Gil/Orchestra: Plays The Music Of Jimi Hendrix (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985308442)
Fadini, Alessandro: A Dark And Stormy Day (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 507)
Farinacci, Dominick: Short Stories (Mack Avenue 1112)
Farnon, Nicola: So Far - So Good (
Fire! Orchestra: Ritual (Rune Grammofon 2182)
Fiuczynski, David: Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian MicroJam! (RareNoise 058)
Garland, Tim: One (Edition 1072)
Gaynor, Mitzi: Mitzi + Sings The Lyrics Of Ira Gershwin (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 899)
Gould, Victor: Clockwork (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 502)
Hamilton, Scott/Harry Allen: Live! (GAC 0105)
Impossible Gentlemen: Let's Get Deluxe (Basho 51)
Jazz At The Philharmonic: Live In Paris 1958-1960 (Frémeaux & Associés 5632)
Kikuchi, Masabumi: Black Orpheus (ECM 473 2215)
Legge, Wade: Trio (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 894)
Les Double Six: Les Double Six (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985309282)
Levy, Lou: A Most Musical Fella (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985308532)
Lewis, Donna: Brand New Day (Whirlwind 4688)
Liebman-Ineke-Laginha-Cavalli-Pinheiro: Is Seeing Believing? (Daybreak/Challenge 75224)
Magnet Animals: Butterfly Killer (RareNoise 063)
Martin, Claire/Ray Gelato: We've Got A World That Swings (Linn 524)
Mingus, Charles: Tijuana Moods (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985308542)
Mollestad, Hedvig: Black Stabat Mater (Rune Grammofon RCD 2183 / RLP3183)
Morning Glory: Morning Glory (Fledg’ling 3101)
Morris, Audrey: Bistro Ballads + The Voice Of (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 901)
Newborn, Jr., Phineas: Fabulous Phineas (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985308552)
Oatts, Dick/Mats Holmquist/New York Jazz Orchestra: A Tribute To Herbie +1 (Summit 1049)
Pike, Dave: The Pike's Peak (Epic/Legacy 88985308562)
Poindexter, Pony: Pony's Express (Epic/Legacy 88985308572)
Rebello, Jason: Held (Edition 1071)
Rigby, Jason: One (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 505)
Rollins, Sonny/Horace Silver: Zurich 1959 (TCB 02402)
Rouse, Charlie: Yeah! (Epic/Legacy 88985311862)
Simians Of Swing: Simians Of Swing (Coffee And Apple 0002)
Smith, Louis: The Legendary 1957-59 Studio Sessions (Phono 870246)
Snarky Puppy: Culcha Vulcha (Universal 4785122)
Solal, Martial: At Newport '63 (RCA Victor/Legacy 88985310552)
Taylor, James: Bumpin' On Frith Street (Gearbox 1002, vinyl)
Thomas, René: Guitar Groove + T Akiyoshi United Notions (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 898)
Various: Miles Ahead/Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Columbia/Legacy 88985306672)
Various: Northern Edition (Edition 1069)
Venier, Glauco: Miniatures (ECM 478 0266)
Waldron, Mala: Deep Resonance (Soulful Sound 22247)
Witherspoon, Jimmy: Live At The Renaissance & At Monterey (Soul Jam 600877)
Worldservice Project: For King & Country (RareNoise 062)
Yonezawa, Megumi: A Result Of The Colors (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 504)
Şahin, Defne: Unravel (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 503)

Excerpts from the 71 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):

Those of us who have followed jazz for nearly a lifetime will be familiar with many of these tracks, from 78rpm onwards. That does not diminish the essential importance of this handsome four-CD reissue which reveals how between 1925 and 1929, jazz began to extricate itself from the entertainment business and take on the quality of an art form. I kid you not. Chief among the musicians whose power and daring effected this transition was undoubtedly Satchmo. His Hot Fives and Sevens displayed him as a virtuoso with a unique musical intelligence: he could create fire and excitement but equally produce passages of gentle beauty with relaxed ease, in which every note seems, somehow, inevitable. This major reissue gives newcomers to jazz a hearty taste of its foundations. (Anthony Troon) ****

The premier league of jazz violinists isn’t large: Smith, Venuti, South, Grappelli, Seifert, Jenkins, Bang, Ponty. The great Dane seems determined to outlive and outplay them all. At 100, and following a premature retirement after his wife’s death in 2000, he’s again doing small salon recitals. This in a sense is his natural setting now, his music having drifted away from hot jazz quite some time ago. It’s odd to think of him playing jazz/dance music as a nearly 30-year-old while the Normandy landings, the Soviet offensive against Finland and the Oradour massacre were all going on. It’s unashamedly escapist music played with light precision but solid swing. (Brian Morton) ****

In George Coleman’s case age truly has brought wisdom. He was 80 years old at the time of this recording, so his depth of accumulated knowledge isn’t surprising. Okay, so the wheel’s reinvented for the umpteenth time, but knowledge as well as age result in a listening experience ripe with the music’s essentially timeless verities. Coleman’s accompanying trio/quartet are right in with him and their contributions are contrarily unobtrusive yet telling, so in addition to the qualities discussed above there’s a positive paradox that some might want to ponder while the rest of us smile and nod appreciatively. (Nic Jones) *****

This new solo album by a young London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist poses a number of interesting questions. Collier is clearly talented in a wide-ranging musical sense, and potentially in jazz, but there’s something uncomfortable about this album. It’s dominated by what sound like resonant, mature, male African American vocals (solo and ensemble) coming from a 21-year-old white man. That’s been happening in different ways in jazz for a long time, so why does it seem more odd here? Perhaps it’s a case of a seeming lack of authenticity, where a line has been crossed, caused by the over-use of technology in a largely non-technology orientated music. Another issue is that there’s no musical interaction between humans, which is a sizeable part of what we might like to think of as jazz (with exceptions, including solo jazz piano). (Dave Jones) **

Crosland and his distinguished sidemen are, as far as I know, the first to make a whole album of jazz versions of Ray Davies compositions. In the early days of The Kinks it seemed they might make a brief career of raw variations on the Kingsmen’s Louie Louie and other blues and R&B warhorses, but before long Davies’s songwriting talents began to emerge and dominate the band’s repertoire. For jazz purposes what matters is whether the melodies and harmonies provide fruitful material for improvisation, and here Davies’s songs supply sufficient variety and structural strength to sustain a consistently engaging series of improvisations. (Admittedly, this line-up could do something with pretty much anything.) Crosland’s arrangements sustain interest, whether with the direct physical excitement of You Really Got Me or the somewhat more reflective and intricate numbers like Set Me Free. (Barry Witherden) ****

It’s often-reissued stuff and its latest appearance here is complete except for the 22 March Stockholm performance issued on Dragon, which I haven’t heard, and for the outstanding French Europa 1 radio broadcasts. Its importance can’t be over-estimated, for it forms the largest period of Davis music from one time that there is. In this it shows how amazingly consistent and inspired his music was. Every solo he plays is a pithy masterpiece. John Coltrane’s solos are longer than those of Miles and not as eloquent. There’s plenty of fire and artistry in his work, but not in all of it. Wynton Kelly is brilliant at every touch throughout, both in accompaniment and as a splendid soloist. Norman Granz wanted the band to appear on television for one date. Miles chose not to, so the quartet was trumpet-less but Getz-clad. Stan’s presence was an irrelevance. Getz and Trane liked each other’s work, but their methods didn’t mix. There are many Davis sessions in my collection of almost 150 of his CDs that I return to with frequent regularity. This is set to become another of those. (Steve Voce) *****

These tracks, another striking rediscovery by Jordi Pujol, could be a big surprise. Gaynor swings easily through the opening track with King’s orchestra shouting behind her. I Won’t Dance is even better; Mitzi’s timing is spot on and the trombone-laden orchestra blow vigorously. Her skill isn’t surprising, I suppose, for an actress and trained singer who is also a dancer. On Nearness she produces a warm ballad style supported once again by caressing, sympathetic strings and smooth reeds and brass. Cheek To Cheek is another swinger with the vocalist riding easily on the beat as the horns punctuate every word she sings. Both big orchestras give first-class support with Pete Candoli’s trumpet and Howard Roberts’ guitar well featured. Fresh Sound has squeezed two LPs and four tracks from an EP onto this single CD. The mix overall is about right with some sterling standards and some lesser known gems by top composers. (Derek Ansell) *****

This is pianist Victor Gould’s first recording as leader and it constitutes an impressive debut. The album’s title suggests that the varied instrumentations produce great adherence, as do the parts of a clock, to create an intricate whole, a wonderful synergy, as Gould says in the programme notes. I couldn’t argue with that. All of the musicians shine; Jeremy Pelt’s trumpet enlivens Three Souls which surges along in commanding mode. After years as a sideman this is Gould’s turn to take the reins as leader of an outstanding group. All the elements are here – hard-bop drive, harmonic adventure and classical-tinged refinement. As seems to be common nowadays the sleeve-notes end with thanks to God, the world and its dog. Never mind that, purchase, listen and savour - jazz is alive and well. (Brian Robinson) ****

If there’s one especially welcome quality in contemporary British jazz it’s the upbeat mode adopted by Jason Rebello, Gwilym Simcock and their ilk. Derived from Pat Metheny but eschewing his nostalgia and tendency to lie back, it can develop muscle. Simcock himself plays eight instruments and augmenting saxophonist Iain Dixon six. Overdubbing creates an orchestral sound cooked to delectation and often incorporating light touches, such as the tremolo strings towards the end of A Fedora For Dora. Simcock’s leaping about on Terrace Legend behind Walker’s piping guitar and the way the tune accelerates in energy and power gives no indication of the diversion to come in the form of echoing football-fan chants behind Simcock’s foregrounded chords. Then it’s off again, courtesy of the ever-active Nussbaum and Rodby, the latter a former Metheny associate. Almost all these tunes are unpredictable constructs, visiting this place and that, often in eccentric guise (Dog Time) and always with imaginative sonic layering or deceptive simplicity (Hold Out For The Sun). (Nigel Jarrett) *****


The sadly short-lived Double Six followed on from another very fine French vocal group - Les Blue Stars. Blossom Dearie had formed the Stars in 1954 which was the year they had a big hit with Lullaby Of Birdland. Mimi Perrin joined them two years later but by 1959 she had decided to form her own six-piece group specialising in vocalese with each vocal line overdubbed – hence the name Les Double Six. She clearly took her inspiration from Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. The group sing entirely in French so the quality of Ms Perrin’s lyrics is difficult to judge but the musicality of these vocal gymnasts is immediately apparent. Mimi is heard on For Lena And Lennie (Joe Newman’s solo), Doodlin’ (Benny Bailey’s solo), Early Autumn (Stan Getz’s solo) and Naima (John Coltrane’s solo). Her dramatic reading of the latter is a particular highlight. Monique Aldebert handles the Woody Herman bridge on Early Autumn, perfectly replicating his distinctive vibrato. On Moanin’ she gets as close as a voice possibly could in matching Clark Terry’s unique timbre. (Gordon Jack) *****

Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad’s unlikely mixture of jazz and molten metal brings to mind bulls and china shops. The genre rarely allows for subtlety; tension and excitement, yes, aided by controlled explosions, frantic rock drumming and riffs that proceed from where Tony Iommi left off. The feeling of a behemoth on the move is characterised by the album’s title, surely a reference to Iommi and Black Sabbath but only faintly resembling both them and pre-existing artillery jazz. It’s a shame that Mollestad can’t apply the brakes to effect more often, as she does in -40, when the earthmover pulls over to pause for eerie thought. The album is diabolic in intent, though surely with tongue probing cheek. (Nigel Jarrett) ***

These two albums are perfectly crystallised recordings from 1955 and 1956 representing the nascent musician and her own uniquely crafted “saloon singer” style (as she described it). The first LP has the spotlight firmly on Morris as she provides a sensitive, inventive piano accompaniment to her thoughtful reading of lyrics from less-played standards like Rodgers & Hart’s Nobody’s Heart. On The Voice Of Audrey Morris she’s joined by Marty Paich’s Orchestra, and against the lavish strings her voice rings out more resoundingly and seems to have added depth. These songs are intoxicatingly romantic, dreamily blissful. Morris is a pleasure to listen to, from the first nuanced stroke of a piano key in Nobody’s Heart to the slow, melancholic lyric in My Old Flame. At first listen Morris seems a straightforward sort of vocalist, but there is much more than meets the ear. By turns accented with emphasis, then soft and girlish, her vocal summons up the innocent qualities of Debbie Reynolds while also evoking the more worldly-wise style of Anita O’Day. Her recordings here are a lesson in the art of understated quality; unshowy class. (Sally Evans-Darby) *****

The admirable Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series – this is volume 40 – here provides one of its most outstanding releases. Just imagine being treated to Sonny Rollins in his pomp and favoured trio set-up plus Horace Silver’s best quintet on top form! It makes for an incredible double bill which amplifies our knowledge and deepens our appreciation of two 1950s wonder bands. Sonny engages fully and wittily with his two cohorts, who ensure we never yearn for a piano within this rushing river of spontaneous improvisation. In such form Rollins was untouchable. And then there’s Horace Silver, a defining figure in the hard-bop movement, reinvigorating five of his brilliant compositions. Silver was also a most skilled arranger and his solos were ever inspirational. Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook formed a compelling front line, while Gene Taylor and the peerless Louis Hayes kept everything on track. In sum, two joyous recitals by jazz heavyweights. Fifty-seven years late this may be, but it was well worth waiting for. (Mark Gardner) *****

This is Snarky Puppy’s 11th album in eight years and is their rapid follow-up to Family Dinner - Volume Two (2016) which was essentially a vocal-dominated album featuring some big-name guest artists. Crucially, this is a studio album, in contrast to their penchant for live audience recordings. It’s also an instrumental one with infrequent wordless voices providing extra tonal colour. Tarova possesses all the slinky characteristic of say, Slang, from the Brecker Brothers’ 1994 album Out Of The Loop but whereas the Breckers’ number builds to a groove-rich plateau, the Snarkys keep building layer upon layer such that the listener wishes, instead of a reasonably loud domestic hi-fi, they possessed a cinema-sized one. The funky fusion doesn’t recede throughout the album, the riff-rich being a prime example, but on the downside tracks like the frenetic, guitar-dominated The Simple Life can get a tad too much, so Zach Brock’s short electric violin solo on the relatively more languid Big Ugly is a welcome relief. (Roger Farbey) ****

This is the OST for Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead biopic (reviewed here). Dialogue excerpts apart, most of the well-chosen tracks which feature Davis and 11 of the different line-ups with which he recorded are edited to fit the film’s plot narrative. Miles Ahead, So What, Frelon Brun and Go Ahead John (Part Two C) are left untouched. Keyboardist and composer Robert Glasper co-produced a compelling contemporary soundtrack, contributing four compositions with appearances by, among others, Herbie Hancock, Antonio Sanchez and Wayne Shorter. (Francis Graham-Dixon) ****


Your Comments:

Posted by Christoph Büch, 30 August 2016, 16:52 (1 of 1)

Your review of Victor Gould "Clockwork" is completely to the point. Seems to me also a very fine piece of today's jazz. Life is fun, when you hear such fine music. Greetings from Germany
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