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 December 2016 (see below for excerpts):
Ambrosio, David/Russ Meissner: Moments In Time (SteepleChase 33128)
Avey, Bobby: Inhuman Wilderness (Inner Voice Jazz 102)
Baltazor, Shawn: Lionsong (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 509)
Birmingham Jazz Orchestra: Rough Boundaries ( )
Blake, Dan: The Digging (Sunnyside 1437)
Blythe, Arthur: Lenox Avenue Breakdown/In The Tradition/Illusions/Blythe Spirit (Beat Goes On 1242)
Bollani, Stefano: Napoli Trip (Decca 479 2713 DH)
Bonifazi, Federico: You'll See (SteepleChase 33125)
Brenner, Christian: Les Belles Heures (Maximus 1000)
Bro, Jakob: Streams (ECM 478 1865)
Burrell, Kenny: Blue Lights (Poll Winners 27356)
Callender, Red/Sextet & Fourtette: Complete RCA Victor Sessions 1951-1952 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 907)
Caputo, Lou: Not So Big Band/Uh Oh! (Jazzcat 47 1825)
Cheek, Chris: Saturday Songs (Sunnyside 1453)
Ciacca, Antonio: Volare, The Italian American Songbook (Cellar Live 101815)
Cyrille, Andrew: The Declaration Of Musical Independence (ECM 471 9575)
De Mano, Hank: In Concert (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 910)
Dickenson, Vic: Nice Work (Retrospective 4294)
Dinosaur: Together, As One (Edition 1078)
Ferguson, Maynard: The Lost Tapes, Volume Three (Sleepy Night 004)
Gadd, Steve: Way Back Home (BFM Jazz 302 062 435 2)
Ganelin/Kruglov/Yudanov: US (Leo 757)
Geller, Herb: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1221)
Getz, Stan: The Best Of Two Worlds (Columbia/Legacy 88985308432)
Goodwin, Gordon/Little Phat Band: An Elusive Man (Music Of Content 35453)
Gordon, Dexter: Fried Bananas (Gearbox 1534, vinyl)
Hallberg, Bengt: Solo (Gazell 1120)
Harris, Barry: Live In Tokyo (Elemental 906090)
Hersch, Fred: Sarabande (Sunnyside 1432)
Hersch, Fred: Sunday Night At The Vanguard (Palmetto 2183)
Hines, Earl: Live At Club Hangover 1957 (Acrobat 3174)
Kuhn, Steve: At This Time (Sunnyside 1436)
Lateef, Yusef: Live At Ronnie Scott’s January 15th 1966 (Gearbox 1008, vinyl)
Lewis, Ramsey: Mother Nature's Son (Cadet 88504)
Lundbom, Jon/Big Five Chord: Play All The Notes (Hot Cup EP, no number)
Lundbom, Jon/Big Five Chord: Make The Changes (Hot Cup EP, no number)
Marterie, Ralph: Music For A Private Eye + Big Band Man (Blue Moon 878)
Martin, Marc: Joan Chamorro Presenta Marc Martin (Jazz To Jazz 15011)
May, Billy: Man With The Golden Touch (Retrospective 4297)
May, Tina/Steve Plews: Telling Jokes (ASC 165)
McCaslin, Donny: Beyond Now (Motéma 234310)
McPherson, Charles: Live In Tokyo (Elemental Music 906091)
Miller, Harry: Different Times, Different Places - Volume Two (Ogun 045)
Mingus, Charles: Blues And Roots (Atlantic SD 1305, vinyl)
MJ12/Percy Jones: MJ12 (Gonzo Multimedia HST402C)
Murphy, Mark: A Beautiful Friendship: Remembering Shirley Horn (Gearbox 1515)
Navarro, Pere: Perenne (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 1003)
Nichols, Herbie: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1209)
Nucleus/Leon Thomas: Live 1970 (Gearbox 1529)
One For All: The Third Decade (Smoke Sessions 1605)
Palmer, Jason/Cedric Hanriot: City Of Poets (Whirlwind 4687)
Parisien, Emile: Sfumato (ACT 9837)
Parker, Charlie: Intégrale Charlie Parker Vol.10 (Frémeaux & Associés 1340)
Parker, Charlie: 1953-1954, Live At The Hi-Hat (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 911)
Privat, Grégory: Family Tree (ACT 9834)
Rand, Chris: Gathering (Dot Time 9047)
Redd, Freddie: With Due Respect (SteepleChase 31817)
Rosenbloom, Mara: Prairie Burn (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 510)
Russell, Catherine: Harlem On My Mind (Jazz Village 579004)
Sancious, David: True Stories/Just As I Thought (Beat Goes On 1253)
Sauter-Finegan: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1212)
Scofield, John: Country For Old Men (Impulse!, number withheld)
Self, Jim/Tricky Lix Latin Jazz Band: Yo! (Basset Hound 114)
Silver, Horace: Live In Paris/14 Février 1959 (Frémeaux & Associés FA 5641)
Sims, Zoot/Bob Brookmeyer: Buried Gold (Acrobat 3173)
Sloane, Carol: Sophisticated Lady (Audiophile 195)
St. Claire, Betty: Complete Jubilee & Seeco Recordings (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 909)
TOCO: Island Dreams (
Urtreger, René: Trio (Carlyne 23)
US4: My Scandinavian Blues (A Tribute To Horace Parlan) (Stunt 16012)
Uusitalo, Tuomo: Love Song (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 506)
Varela, Marcus: San Ygnacio (Origin 82711)
Various: E.S.T. Symphony (ACT 9034)
Various: 4 Classic Christmas Albums (Avid Easy 1219)
Various: Down Home Blues: Detroit (Wienerworld 5095)
Wayne, Chuck: Traveling (Progressive 7008)
Webster, Ben: Gentle Ben (Discmedi Blau 5182)
Wendel, Ben: What We Bring (Motéma 234244)
Whieldon, Dan: Positive Changes (ASC 161)
Wollny, Michael/Vincent Peirani: Tandem (ACT 9825)
Zak, Peter: Standards (SteepleChase 31815)
Zeuthen/Anderskov/Kielsgaard/Skovbakke: Live At 5e (ILK 258)

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):

This is the second album by the Birmingham Jazz Orchestra founded by trumpeter Sean Gibbs in 2014. Rough Boundaries is a suite of pieces written by 22-year-old Jacky Naylor, a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire. The five tunes are all based on cities which Naylor has visited in the past two years. Whilst the mature and imaginative compositions are not altogether ground-breaking, they are more than competently built on a tradition of modern big band arranging, so the music is nearer to the orchestras of Maria Schneider or Bobby Lamb and Ray Premru than say, the musical pyrotechnics of Loose Tubes. Crucially, it is characterised by a contemporary swinging edge. (Roger Farbey) ****

Arthur Blythe’s musical emergence at the end of the 1970s came as a breath of fresh air into what was then a rather stale jazz scene. His robust blues-inflected wail and barrelling rhythms produced some infectious music that transcended the usual musical forms while respecting jazz’s history. First recorded by India Navigation, Blythe moved to Columbia in 1979 to record nine albums, the first four of which have been packaged up here. It is so good to have these four wonderful sets back in circulation again, even with the knowledge that Blythe’s adventurous, challenging music would soon get eclipsed by the oncoming conservatism of the Marsalis clan. (Simon Adams) ****

Many readers will pleasurably recall recordings made by Dickenson from the mid-1950s in company with the likes of Buck Clayton, Buddy Tate and Ruby Braff, his septet albums for Vanguard lying at the heart of the mainstream. Several examples from this part of the trombonist’s career occupy the second disc. Earlier, Dickenson played with a variety of musicians, bringing his sleek playing style to the earthy bands led by Bechet and De Paris as well as proving to be a good fit with the Basie band. He also blended well with Russell’s eccentricity and effortlessly matched Hackett’s elegance. Among others present here are Clayton, Tate, Braff, Joe Thomas, Wild Bill Davison, Emmett Berry, Barney Bigard and Red Allen, all of whom are in the prime of their careers. The liner contains complete personnel details and a long, good and very informative note by Digby Fairweather. (Bruce Crowther) ***

This is young Laura Jurd’s third album as leader, and it largely evokes Miles Davis’s early electric albums. In conventional terms Jurd is arguably a better trumpet player than Davis, and her excellent playing is also better than the music on offer here. Robin enters with a folk-like quality and then the folk-like and the electric Miles-like continue to alternate, without necessarily seeming to go anywhere in particular. Elliot Galvin’s keyboards get more space on Primordial and they’re also more distorted and consequently more late 1960s/early 1970s sounding than elsewhere. All of the compositions are by Jurd, and she also produced the album. There’s some nice playing, but the music doesn’t make me want to listen to it repeatedly. (Dave Jones) ***

Gordon Goodwin has released six albums featuring his Big Phat Band since 2000. Each one has been a fresh and highly original look at the big band genre featuring an eclectic mix of jazz, R&B, salsa and rock elements. Here we have more of the same but with his new eight-piece ensemble. The amazing Eric Marienthal is usually heard on alto in the Big Phat Band where he sweeps all before him with his Cannonball Adderley, Phil Woods and Richie Cole-like exuberance. Here he opens The LP Shuffle on tenor, displaying all the swagger of an Eddie Davis or Johnny Griffin. An Elusive Man has a cute country feel with some of the horn voicings reminiscent of the great Blood, Sweat & Tears from long ago. The leader is not only a fine tenorman but also a consummate pianist, as he demonstrates on Samba Cya. The Afro-Cuban Garaje Gato first heard on Goodwin’s Life In The Bubble (Telarc 35453) is an excursion into Tito Puente territory. (Gordon Jack) ****

Gordon recorded two excellent albums for Blue Note in 1962 and headed for an engagement at Ronnie Scott’s club in London. As he himself put it “I came for one gig in London and when I looked up it was 14 years later”. He spent those years playing at the Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen, living and touring through Holland, France and Belgium. Mostly during those times he played solo with pickup rhythm sections but this LP of previously unreleased material was made when he had a regular Dutch section that toured with him for several months. Some of us may have been occasionally over generous with five-star ratings lately but this one could not reasonably receive any less. The recording is good for a 70s location job and the transfer to premium vinyl offers first-class sound with lots of air round it. One to dust off the turntable for. (Derek Ansell) *****

Throughout the 50s San Francisco was a stronghold for the developing revivalist boom in Dixieland and traditional New Orleans jazz. Weekly live broadcasts from the Hangover Club were recorded and stored on tape, a good deal of which has been released piecemeal over the years on LP and CD. However, according to the very full and informative notes, at least the 11 May session has almost certainly never been issued. This release covers five broadcasts on consecutive weekends, complete with Hines’s exuberant announcements, minus a couple of duplicated items due to lack of space. On this compilation he has talented and experienced veteran sidemen in Muggsy Spanier, Darnell Howard and Jimmy Archey. The excellent rhythm section is well recorded, with Hines’s keyboard wizardry an all-pervading powerhouse. (Hugh Rainey) ****

Juan Chamorro is known particularly for his direction of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band in Barcelona, featuring young Catalan musicians. Marc Martin’s apprenticeship was in that band, which emphasises an awareness of jazz history, and the wide-ranging repertoire is therefore no surprise. The remarkable Andrea Motis sings charmingly on a fast Morning Sunrise and a gentle Insensatez. Elsewhere she displays well-applied versatility on soprano and alto as well as trumpet. Pianist Martin plays competently with considerable percussive attack. There’s nothing of striking originality here but if you know and like some of these musicians you won’t be disappointed. (Graham Colombé) ****

An exceptionally gifted jazz singer, Tina May not only has a delightfully true, crystal-clear voice, she also has the ability and the maturity to delve into the inner meaning of each song she sings. This latter quality is especially evident here as she presents a song selection tracing the course of a love affair from the promise of spring through the high days of summer to the disillusion of winter. Four standards apart, the songs are compositions by Plews who is also responsible for all of the arrangements. May has never given a performance that is anything less than very good and this album - intelligent, musically rich and wholly satisfying - makes clear why she is at the pinnacle of her craft. (Bruce Crowther) ***

The death of vinyl was prematurely and - some might say - erroneously heralded but it made a miraculous reincarnation in the noughties precipitating the emergence in 2009 of Gearbox Records, a vinyl specialist label. Gearbox’s canon of previously unearthed archival releases includes the 1970 analogue 1/4” master tape of American singer and composer Leon Thomas with British jazz-rock progenitors Nucleus performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival, here on CD for the first time. Thomas’s idiosyncratic yodelling vocals are on top form, notably on The Creator Has A Master Plan, first heard on Pharoah Sanders’s 1969 album Karma. Ian Carr executes a fine harmon-muted solo here too. Chris Spedding’s inimitable guitar is gratifyingly prominent throughout and Karl Jenkins’s oboe positively shines on Echoes, One and The Journey. This particular meeting of minds is superb. (Roger Farbey) ****

CHARLIE PARKER: LIVE AT THE HI-HAT 1953-1954 (Fresh Sound)
Charlie Parker was a frequent and ever welcome visiting soloist in Boston clubs the Hi-Hat and Storyville during the early 1950s. These reissued recordings from two Hi-Hat gigs in 1953 and ’54 find Charlie playing happily with some of the best Boston musicians, most notably trumpeter Herb Pomeroy. Charlie is generally in fine fettle on a familiar repertoire which had changed little since the 1940s. The Miles-influenced Herbie Williams isn’t up to Pomeroy’s mark but plays pleasantly enough, while both pianists provide solid support and the rhythm sections pass muster. A surprise addition to the 1954 line-up is a youthful Jay Migliori, clearly inspired by Bird’s presence. He contributes substantially to the longest performance of these airshots, a nine-minute workout on Now’s The Time. Overall, Charlie Parker seemed both relaxed and creative in these Boston residencies during his final, struggling years. (Mark Gardner) ****

I’ve still got my somewhat shabby second-hand vinyl copy of the original True Stories album from several decades ago, and it’s good to have this new remastered CD version with the added bonus of a second album. I know some keyboard players who prefer Sancious’s earlier 1975 release Forest Of Feelings, but I prefer True Stories with its great grooves and more eclectic set, including the memorable Prelude#3 which brings the leader’s classical background even more to the fore. Sancious has spent much of the past few decades as an in-demand session player for rock and pop artists such as Sting and Peter Gabriel; his own music falls somewhere in-between rock, classical and jazz. Here, the music is perhaps more progressive rock than jazz-rock, but there’s a quite free, more improvised and more humoured (numerous quotes) feel to Sancious’s solos than those by most other prog-rock luminaries of the keyboard. (Dave Jones) ****

Jazz has flirted with country before. On the face of it jazz and country do not make natural partners. Country is vocalised storytelling in three minutes and jazz is – well, jazz! But if you believe boundaries are there to be crossed and there are only two kinds of music - good or bad - then Scofield’s project is exciting. The album consists of 12 tracks and includes just about every old and new country classic you can imagine. Hank Williams and Merle Haggard sit comfortably next to James Taylor and Shania Twain. Scofield is superbly supported by bassist Steve Swallow, pianist and organist Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart. Whilst some tracks are played straight others are simply a platform for some amazing jazz guitar. Country music never feels serious but this is an album to be taken very seriously indeed - both in ambition and execution. For those in doubt - jazz wins. (Ian Lomax) ****

This very welcome tribute to Parlan was organised by bassist Pedersen, who played in his trio regularly until ill health forced the pianist’s retirement. It’s good to hear these lovingly played versions of Heading South, Spur Of The Moment, Wadin’ and Us Three from the classic Blue Note repertoire. There are also versions of his more recent music like Opus, Broken Promises and Part Time from 1999. This release comes with a well-made DVD that offers us alternate versions of the music with views of the Danish countryside and some reminiscences by Parlan, seen on the seafront in his wheelchair. (Derek Ansell) ****

This duo uses a pretty eclectic mix of source material, but they find a way to make both the individual pieces and the album work as a whole. Wollny and Peirani provide a couple of originals each, and the remainder of the tracks are interpretations of material originally by e.g. Samuel Barber, Bjork, Gary Peacock and Sufjan Stevens. Wollny offers some fine solos, notably on Did You Say Rotenburg?, Uniskate, and also Bjork’s Hunter which is much more successful than many jazz covers of pop songs. Wollny and Peirani clearly enjoy playing together, and I’m sure this music would also be well worth hearing live, particularly in an intimate setting. (Dave Jones) ****


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