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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 November 2016 (see below for excerpts):
Adkins, Ben: Salmagundi (Adkins Music 190394498177)
Armstrong, Louis/Duke Ellington: The Great Reunion Roulette (Birdland SR 52103, vinyl)
Armstrong, Louis/Duke Ellington: Together For The First Time (Roulette 0190295961381, vinyl)
Baker, Chet: Live In London (Ubuntu UBU0003)
Bartz, Gary: Ju Ju Man + Love Song (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 904)
Basie, Count & Lester Young: Classic 1937-1947 Count Basie & Lester Young Studio Sessions (Mosaic 263)
Basurto, Nadia: For All We Know (Swing Alley 029)
Benson, George: Breezin' (Warner Bros 081227944353, vinyl)
Binker And Moses: Dem Ones (Gearbox 1530CD)
Bona, Richard: Heritage (Qwest 234245)
Borring, Kristian: Silent Storm (Jellymould 024)
Bunnett, Jane: Spirits Of Havana (Linus 270239)
Burton, Gary: Something's Coming!/The Groovy Sound Of Music/The Time Machine (Beat Goes On 1241)
Bushman's Revenge: Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen (Rune Grammofon 2185)
Caiola, Al: High Strung/Cleopatra And All That Jazz (Blue Moon 875)
Caiola, Al/Don Arnone: Great Pickin' + Soft Guitars (Blue Moon 876)
Chicago Jazz Philharmonic: Havana Blue (316 Records 31608)
Coltrane, John/Don Cherry: The Avant-Garde (Essential Jazz Classics 55700)
Courvoisier, Sylvie/Mark Feldman/Ikue Mori/Evan Parker: Miller's Tale (Intakt 270)
Danish Jazz Quartet: On The Road (Storyville 1014300)
Davis, Jackie: Five Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1202)
Davis, Miles: Amandla (Warner 0081227944339, vinyl)
Davis, Miles: Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Fontana 660.213, vinyl)
Davis, Miles/Robert Glasper: Everything's Beautiful (Columbia/Blue Note/Legacy 88875157812)
Davis, Miles: Sextet At Newport 1958 (Essential Jazz Classics 55699)
Favre, Pierre: DrumSights (Intakt 260)
Ferré, Boulou/Elios Ferré/Christophe Astolfi: La Bande Des Trois (Label Ouest 304 037.2)
Freestone, Tori: El Barranco (Whirlwind 4689)
Fresu, Paolo/Omar Sosa: Eros (Bonsai Music 16052)
Frith, Fred: Another Day In F****** Paradise (Intakt 267)
Galvin, Elliot: Punch (Edition 1076)
Garrick, Michael: Prelude To Heart Is A Lotus (Gearbox 1517CD)
Getz, Stan: Quintet In Boston (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 906)
Girshevich Trio: Algorhythmic Society (Tapestry 76026)
Gordon, Dexter: Four Classic Albums Second Set (Avid Jazz 1199)
Guidi, Giovanni/Gianluca Petrella/Louis Sclavis/Gerald Cleaver: Ida Lupino (ECM 478 5476)
Hamilton, Chico/Eric Dolphy: Complete Studio Recordings (Phono 870261)
Helbock, David: Into The Mystic (ACT 9833)
Heredia, Enrique: Plays The Music Of Bob Zieff (Swing Alley 027)
Høiby, Jasper: Fellow Creatures (Edition 1075)
Hooper, Stix: Friends Across The Pond (Stix Hooper Enterprises 3008)
Hurt, Pete/Jazz Orchestra: A New Start (Trio 596)
Ineke, Eric/Jazz Express: Dexternity (Daybreak 75225)
Jazz Bigband Graz: True Stories (Natango Music 27958)
Jazz Couriers: Live In Morecambe 1959: Tippin’ (Gearbox 1510CD)
Khayam, Golfam/Mona Matbou Riahi: Narrante (ECM 477 9440)
Kirk, Roland: Bright Moments (Atlantic SD 2-907, vinyl))
Lundgren, Jan: The Ystad Concert - A Tribute To Jan Johansson (ACT 9814)
Marsalis, Branford/Kurt Elling: Upward Spiral (Okeh/Marsalis Music 88985306882)
McFarland, Gary: Special Guest Soloist Bill Evans (Phono 870256)
Menza, Don: Horn Of Plenty (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 902)
Metalwood: Twenty (Cellar Live 020116)
Mezei, Szilárd: CET (Odradek 506)
Mobley, Hank: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid 1215)
Moskus: Ulu Ulu (Hubro 2554)
Neset, Marius/London Sinfonietta: Snowmelt (ACT 9035)
New Standard Jazz Orchestra: Waltz About Nothing (OA2 Records 22131)
Peterson, Oscar: The Complete Jerome Kern Song Books (Essential Jazz Classics 55701)
Pettiford, Oscar: Six Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1201)
Rantala/Danielsson/Erskine: How Long Is Now? (ACT 9823)
Rantama Trio: Catching The Mystery Train (Rantama 01)
Redman, Joshua/Brad Mehldau: Nearness (Nonesuch 7559-79456)
Reinhardt, Django/Stéphane Grappelli: Le Quintette à Cordes/Intégrale/Complete String Quintet (Label Ouest 304 031)
Russell, Connie: Don't Smoke In Bed + Alone With You (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 903)
Stevenson, Euan/Konrad Wiszniewski: New Focus On Song (Whirlwind 4690)
Taylor, Billy: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1200)
Taylor, Sam: The Bad And The Beautiful (Phono 870260)
Terry, Clark/Bob Wilber: Blowin' The Blues Away (Phono 870257)
Toxvaerd/Toldam/Mazur: Pladeshop (Ilk 256)
Zieff, Bob: The Music Of (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 905)


Excerpts from the 70 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: LIVE IN LONDON (Ubuntu)
This is an important addition to the ever expanding Chet Baker discography. Jim Richardson recorded these 1983 performances on an audio cassette and executive producer Martin Hummel supervised the removal of hisses and distortions to create a high-quality release. Chet played six consecutive nights at London’s Canteen with John Horler, Jim Richardson and Tony Mann. Baker rarely used a mute so we have the benefit of his open sound throughout. He has superlative support from the trio, John Horler excelling as both soloist and accompanist. This fine example of late-period Chet Baker is so rare that even Thorbjorn Sjogren’s discography, which lists all the trumpeter’s known private recordings, does not include it. (Gordon Jack) ****

COUNT BASIE & LESTER YOUNG: CLASSIC 1936-1947 STUDIO SESSIONS (Mosaic)
The 142 tracks here, taken with the 83 on the Young/Basie Mosaic MD4-239 give an overview of every recorded studio performance that the two men did together. The new volume adds the rest of Lester’s studio recordings from his classic period. Inevitably this corrals some of the greatest jazz recordings ever made. The 1944 Kansas City Seven tracks have some of the most inspired hot jazz on record, capped by the tidal wave of Lester’s solo on Destination KC (Buck was in army uniform for this commercial set, an event forbidden by military law), whilst the 1938 Kansas City Six tracks with Lester’s clarinet offer some of the finest chamber jazz on record. The session with Lester, Nat Cole and Buddy Rich is surely by the most distinguished jazz trio ever, and brings out what must be one of the most creative jazz appearances in Nat’s career. (Steve Voce) *****

BINKER AND MOSES: DEM ONES (Gearbox)
Dem Ones is the debut album from the sax and drums duo of Binker (Golding) and Moses (Boyd), first issued on vinyl in 2015, here reissued on CD. It’s a short set of tunes performed live in Mark Ronson’s London studio and recorded direct to tape on a vintage Studer tape machine in the Gearbox studio next door. This neatly packaged, limited edition CD is digitally mastered from the 1/4” tapes, giving it a warmth and presence not always apparent on compact disc. Golding and Boyd met through Tomorrow’s Warriors and developed their duo sound on tour with singer Zara McFarlane. Favourable comparisons have been made with John Coltrane and Charles Lloyd. All-in-all, an impressive debut from a young duo with the musical imagination to match its ambition. (Bruce Lindsay) ****

AL CAIOLA: HIGH STRUNG/CLEOPATRA AND ALL THAT JAZZ/GREAT PICKIN’/SOFT GUITARS (Blue Moon)
Guitarist Caiola was born New Jersey, 1920 and in 1946 auditioned successfully for the CBS studio orchestra, remaining on that scene through the 1960s. Studio work is often derided by jazz snobs and hippies as robotic and uncreative when in fact it requires great resourcefulness and flexibility, not to mention flawless technique. What better artistic combination? Caiola here draws on the broad musical palette that characterises commercial and film music, showing that studio musicians were eclectic long before the idea became a political tick-box for diversity. Here, swing and bebop rub shoulders with rock & roll, country & western and cha-cha, the stylistic variety matched by the instrumentation. According to Wikipedia, Caiola is still with us, and must have just passed his 96th birthday. Despite his expertise, the full-scale advent of rock no doubt consigned him to the easy-listening racks before the 60s were out. Thanks to Jordi Pujol his music lives in this new slice of musical archaeology, and in vivid 24-bit remastering. (Mark Gilbert) ***

FRED FRITH TRIO: ANOTHER DAY IN F*****G PARADISE (Intakt)
An eye-catching album title (rendered without asterisks) is matched with ear-splitting content. Lacking any discernible melodies or harmonies, Frith’s trio bombards the listener with a variety of random bass lines, squeaks, squawks, spoken words, mumblings and other frenetic activity. It’s up there with Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica in terms of bizarre music making. It’s probably a work of genius to some, but not to this listener. Impossible to get through this without recalling the thoughts of Frank Zappa that “jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny”. (John Adcock) *

DEXTER GORDON: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS: SECOND SET (Avid)
Dexter Gordon’s tenure with Blue Note (1960-65), produced some near-legendary albums, the best of which was arguably Our Man In Paris (1963) with Bud Powell, Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke. But these “Second Set” sessions are not far behind. Doin’ Allright, his first recording after a long absence from the studios, opens with a loping and ironically authoritative I Was Doin’ Alright, with empathetic support from Parlan, Tucker and Harewood, and Hubbard’s appropriately pensive trumpet. Dexter Calling, made three days later, finds Gordon varying his tone and stretching out more in his solos, with Drew, Chambers and Philly Joe keeping him up to the mark. Go! and A Swingin’ Affair both place Dexter in the congenial company of Sonny Clark, Butch Warren and Billy Higgins. Go! has Gordon delivering moving versions of Tears Out To Dry and Where Are You, before he turns up the heat with blistering takes on Love For Sale and Cheese Cake. On A Swingin’ Affair, he offers a compelling reading of You Stepped Out Of A Dream and sensitively gentle interpretations of Don’t Explain and Until The Real Thing Comes Along. These Blue Notes are an essential part of his impressive oeuvre. Original notes (in microfiche) - see your local optician - are by Ira Gitler, Leonard Feather and Barbara Long. (John White) ****

STIX HOOPER: FRIENDS ACROSS THE POND (Stix Hooper Enterprises)
How else could this fond reunion of former George Shearing sideman possibly start than with Lullaby Of Birdland, one of the loveliest songs ever written, even though Shearing dismissed it casually, as many artists do of their greatest hits. The originals – Hooper’s Feeling Happy, Charlie Shoemake’s Old Acquaintances and In The Early Period – stand up well with the more well-trodden material. Hooper’s mixed forward, as well he might be on his own imprint, and delivers a delightful and telling solo on East Of The Sun. Likewise Shoemake on In The Early Period. In fact, there’s an overall feeling that the solo player is always foregrounded sharply, but it doesn’t detract from a thoroughly delightful recital, and, as before, a gentle reminder that groups like this weren’t always a given or always welcome. (Brian Morton) ****

PETE HURT JAZZ ORCHESTRA: A NEW START (Trio)
Pete Hurt moved from the north of England to London in 1971 and the following year recorded on Graham Collier’s album Portraits. He’s been an omnipresent figure on the British jazz scene ever since, working with the likes of Loose Tubes, the BBC Big Band, Andy Sheppard’s Big Band and also with George Russell and Carla Bley. The rumbustious title track displays evidence of the influence of one of his heroes, the late Kenny Wheeler. Among the numbers here, all penned by Hurt, there’s an old piece, Forbidden Fruit, composed in the 70s but sounding like it could have been written yesterday. Notably it’s the only number in which Hurt himself offers up a solo. It’s also worth mentioning that whilst the orchestra boasts plenty of familiar faces, several are just starting out in their careers. (Roger Farbey) ****

JAN LUNDGREN: THE YSTAD CONCERT: A TRIBUTE TO JAN JOHANSSON (ACT)
This was my personal favourite from the many excellent concerts at the 2015 Ystad, Sweden festival. Many of Johansson’s classic pieces in the folk-jazz genre are here. Bassist Mattias Svensson is spot-on throughout, as are the sparely but tellingly employed members of the Bonfiglioli Weber String Quartet: one of many highlights here is their interaction with Lundgren and Svensson on the pianist’s own Lycklig Resa, a piece in turn abstracted and swinging, seasoned with more than a sprinkling of the blues and with Lundgren displaying a quite wondrous tone throughout. The album is dedicated to Bengt-Arne Wallin (1926-2015), who, face beaming, fingers clicking and toes tapping, turned to me during this concert and said: “Wonderful. Just wonderful!” (Michael Tucker) *****

THE JAZZ COURIERS: LIVE IN MORECAMBE 1959: TIPPIN’ (Gearbox)
This album is indisputably the jewel in Gearbox’s initial set of CD releases, a hugely atmospheric gig by a band at the very peak of its powers. Recorded just four months shy of the Couriers’ break-up, this session outstrips the energy, invention and emotional punch of virtually all the units Tempo put out, with Hayes in particular in tumultuous form. Not everything is high-octane though: Embers features some pretty vibes and For All We Know gives a knowing wink to all those hours Messrs. Scott, Hayes and co. had spent at the Palais. For the audiophile, the sound is first rate, for the tactile collector the packaging exquisite. I also have to declare an interest, having written the sleeve notes for the vinyl issue back in 2012, reproduced here in full. Indispensable, affordable and revelatory. What’s not to like? (Simon Spillett) *****

BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET WITH KURT ELLING: UPWARD SPIRAL (Marsalis Music)
It was an inspired idea to team up Marsalis’s fine quartet with singer Elling, the adventurism of the group matching Elling’s virtuosity. The material they tackle is wide ranging, from old bop warhorses and standards to soppy pop songs and new compositions. Not all work that well: Fred Hersch’s West Virginia Rose is far too saccharine, while the country song Blue Velvet is taken so slowly as to be painful. But Jobim’s Só Tinha is superb, Elling’s vocals well up to the original Portuguese lyrics, while Chris Whitely’s From One Island To Another is full of vocal and musical drama. Elling’s vocals constantly amaze, often more vocalese than sung, expressive, explorative but never strained. Marsalis’s group rises to the occasion, his own saxophone lines wrapping themselves neatly round the lyrics, while Eric Revis’s piano is always worth hearing. Great fun all round. (Simon Adams) ****

MARIUS NESET & LONDON SINFONIETTA: SNOWMELT (ACT)
Neset’s previous ACT release Sun Blowing was given five stars by Fred Grand (JJ 0816). Snowmelt continues the good news from the Norwegian. Featuring Neset’s regular current quartet in excellent form, together with a burning London Sinfonietta, this assiduously conceived music - all composed and arranged by Neset - had been some while in gestation, yet manages to sound every bit as fresh and vibrant as Sun Blowing. Sample the use of overtones in the keening, diversely projected solo soprano figures of the Garbarek-like Prologue and the diverse weight of the tenor meditations (again, solo) of Introduction To Snowmelt for prime examples of Neset’s increasingly satisfying blend of instrumental prowess and poetic sensibility. Elsewhere, these qualities unfold within multi-layered arrangements which conjure a musical landscape as lyrical, or poetically ordered, as it can be free-flowing and shape-shifting. A fabulous, life-affirming record. The British performances promised for November should be something else. (Michael Tucker) *****

JOSHUA REDMAN & BRAD MEHLDAU: NEARNESS (Nonesuch)
This is the first duo album released by two long-time friends and collaborators, comprising a selection of duets recorded live during their European tour. The decision to record three original pieces – one by Redman, two by Mehldau – alongside standards by Parker, Monk and Hoagy Carmichael gives an exhilarating insight into their mutual empathy, powers of communication and innovation. The combination of piano and saxophone works seamlessly, certainly on Ornithology and Mehldau’s Always August, when both interweave their own solo improvisations around the melody played in unison. In Walked Bud cleverly allows Mehldau to reinvent Monk’s tune with Redman’s soprano swirling above the piano rhythm. Attention turns to Mehldau’s unaccompanied improvisation which succeeds in offering plenty of the pianist’s distinctive voice while internalising in his playing Monk’s genius in coherently deconstructing time and melody. (Francis Graham-Dixon) *****

CLARK TERRY & BOB WILBER: BLOWIN’ THE BLUES AWAY: LEGENDARY SMALL GROUP SESSIONS (Phono)
Curiously overlooked gems in Bob Wilber’s impressive discography, his happy partnerships with Clark Terry have much to recommend them. On the title album, he selected the talents of Wellstood, Duvivier and Francis; he composed six of the titles, “allowed” Terry to take make his first (delightful) appearance as vocalist on Please Blues Go Way From Here, and wrote the informative sleeve notes for the album. He explains that: ”Our purpose was to record a group of originals demonstrating the various directions the blues have taken”. Mission accomplished. (John White) *****

BOB ZIEFF: HIS COMPOSITIONS AND ARRANGEMENTS (Fresh Sound)
Fresh Sound have collected together all available recordings of the music and arrangements of Bob Zieff, best known perhaps for his contributions to various Chet Baker units in the 1950s. The best here is the 1955 Paris set with Baker and Dick Twardzik, the last seven tracks on CD2. These Zieff compositions, played with light-hearted brio and sensitive warmth by Baker, with Twardzik’s jagged chords providing contrast and counterpoint, are first rate. On its own this would be a five-star session. The same compositions are heard at the beginning of CD1 with a quartet headed by violinist Dick Wetmore and featuring pianist Ray Santisi. Somehow the complex lines do not shine out. Two tracks from Baker’s splendid And Crew disc are played with spirit and swing. Also of interest is the rarely heard Chet Baker Group of December 1957 where he has sterling support from Gene Allen’s bass clarinet, Jimmy Buffington’s French horn and Bob Tricarico’s bassoon. (Derek Ansell) ***

 


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