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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 January 2017 (see below for excerpts):
Abbasi, Rez: Behind The Vibration (Cuneiform 424)
Alguacil, Mayte: Day By Day (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 1002)
Allen, Kris: Beloved (truthrevolutionrecords.com)
Allgood, Alyssa: Out Of The Blue (Je Ru Jazz 5)
Amram, David: Classic American Film Scores 1956-2016 (Moochin’ About 09)
Andersen, Arild: The Rose Window (Intuition 71318)
Angel, Rebecca: Jet Samba (Timeless Grooves 190394722616)
Auger, Brian: The Brian Auger Anthology/Back To The Beginning (Freestyle 108)
Auger, Brian: The Brian Auger Anthology Volume 2/Back To The Beginning… Again (Freestyle 116)
Bacelar, Ricardo: Concerto Para Moviola/Ao Vivo (Bacelar AA0001000)
Bad Plus, The: It's Hard (OKeh 88985337142)
Baker, Chet: Plays And Sings Ballads For Lovers (Lucky Stars Music 70036)
Baker, Chet: Quartet Vol.1 (Barclay 88520)
Baker, Chet: Quartet Vol.2 (Barclay 88521)
Beasley, John: Monk' estra Vol.1 (Mack Avenue 1113)
Belle, Beady: On My Own (Jazzland 377913-8)
Black String: Mask Dance (ACT 9036)
Black, Jim: The Constant (Intakt 268/2016)
Bostic, Earl: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1210)
Brönner, Till: The Good Life (OKeh 88875187202)
Brubeck, Dave: Time Out (Green Corner 100892)
Cadentia Nova Danica: August 1966 Jazzhus Montmartre (Storyville 101 8441)
California Feetwarmers: Silver Seas (Shepheard’s Records 213-29)
Canned Heat: One More River To Cross (Beat Goes On 1233)
Cherry, Don/John Tchicai/Irène Schweizer/Léon Francioli/Pierre Favre: Musical Monsters (Intakt 269/2016)
Coltrane, John: Plays Ballads (Lucky Stars Music 70033)
Cowley, Neil: Spacebound Apes (Hide Inside, no number)
Crawford, John: Times And Tides (Monpas JCTATCD2)
Crump, Stephen: Rhombal (Papillon Sounds 51516)
Danes, Anna: Find Your Wings (DLG Recordings 02)
Davis, Miles; Ballads (Lucky Stars Music 70034)
Decoy: Borealis (Wilderness 1609)
Dresser, Mark: Sedimental You (Clean Feed 385)
Du Plessis, Charl: Baroqueswing Vol.II (Claves 50-1609)
Duke, George: Shine On - The Anthology: The Epic Years 1977-1984 (Sony SMCR 5140)
Dunmall, Paul: Underground Underground (Slam 2101)
Earprint: Endectomorph Music (Endectomorph 002)
Echoes Of Swing: Bix - A Tribute To Bix Beiderbecke (ACT 9826)
Ellington, Duke/Johnny Hodges: Back To Back/Side By Side (Poll Winners 27355)
Fafard, Antoine: Sphere (Timeless Momentum 20161)
Farmer, Jules: Complete 1959 Imperial Recordings (Blue Moon 877)
Fernández, Iago: Brisa (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 512)
Fitzgerald, Ella: Sings Ballads For Lovers (Lucky Stars Music 70037)
Free Nelson Mandoomjazz: The Organ Grinder (Rare Noise 068)
Gamble, Michael: (Organic 16552)
Garner, Erroll: Ready Take One (Sony Legacy 88985363312)
Germani, Toni: Canzoni In Scatola - Songs In A Box (Slam 573)
Goodman, Jerry: Violin Fantasy (Cleopatra 0289)
Gray, Macy: Stripped (Chesky 389)
Haberecht 4: Essence (Double Moon/Challenge 71176)
Hackney Colliery Band: Sharpener (Veki 001)
Haden, Charlie/Liberation Music Orchestra: Time/Life (Impulse! 4798480)
Harris, Allan: Nobody's Gonna Love You Better (Love Productions 234289)
Harris, Remi: In On The 2 (Yardbird Arts, no number)
Harrow, Nancy: The Song Is All (Benfan Music 8 88295 48222 6)
Hayes, Tubby/Paul Gonsalves: Change Of Setting (Harkit 8561)
Holiday, Billie: Ballads For Lovers (Lucky Stars Music 70035)
Hooker, John Lee: Four Classic Albums (Avid Roots 1208)
Jackson, Keefe/Jason Adasiewicz: Rows And Rows (Delmark 5024)
Johnson, Lonnie: Four Classic Albums (Avid Roots 1207)
Jones, Mike: Roaring (Capri 74142)
Kamaal, Yussef: Black Focus (Brownswood 0157)
Karlsson, Daniel: At The Feel Free Falafel (Brus & Knaster 036)
Kerr, Trudy: The House (Jazzizit 1665)
Klakegg, Rune/Scheen Jazzorkester: Fjon (Losen 153)
Klewin, Victoria/And The True Tones: Dance Me To Heaven (vk-tt.com)
Lateef, Yusef: The Doctor Is In - And Out (Atlantic SD 1685, vinyl)
Le Rex: Wild Man (Cuneiform 411)
Lloyd, Charles: Forest Flower (Atlantic SD 1473, vinyl)
Lubbe/Nabatov: Lubatov (Leo 762)
Marsalis, Delfeayo: Make America Great Again (Troubadour 103016)
Mason Brothers: Efflorescence (Archival 1584)
Mathisen, Per: Sounds Of 3 (Losen 147)
McCormick, Tom: South Beat (Manatee 45813)
McMahon, Kevin: Sometimes I'm Happy (kevinmcmahonjazz.com)
Miles, Jason: To Grover With Love/Live in Japan (Whaling City Sound 078)
Mingus, Charles: The Clown (Atlantic 1260, vinyl)
Mitchell, Red/Jim Hall: Rejoice! (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 908)
Mizell, Cameron: Negative Spaces (Destiny 0012)
Molvaer, Nils Petter: Buoyancy (OKeh 88985308092)
Moreno, Joyce: Cool (Far Out Recordings 0193)
Mu: Of Strings And Bridges (Slam 577)
Music Soup: Cut To The Chase (Chicken Coup 7025)
Neville, Aaron: Apache (Tell It 001)
Olivera, Michael: Ashe (Little Red Corvette 041)
Omedes, Pol: Mallorca (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 511)
Palermo, Ed/Big Band: One Child Left Behind (Cuneiform 420)
Parrinello, Simona: Con Alma (Dot Time 9049)
Rayner, Alison: A Magic Life (Blow The Fuse 1613)
Schächter, Daniela: Vanheusenism/A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen (Purplebutterfly 00261 43547)
Shank, Bud/Chet Baker: Michelle (World Pacific 88514)
Shank, Bud/Chet Baker: California Dreamin' (World Pacific 88519)
Smith, Tommy/The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra: Modern Jacobite (Spartacus 022)
Snidero, Jim: MD66 (Savant 2156)
Stewart, Alexander: I Thought About You (ASM 003)
Sussman, Richard: The Evolution Suite (Zoho 201614)
Thumbscrew: Convallaria (Cuneiform 415)
Toxvaerd, Laura: Compositions Part 1 (Ilk 261)
Toxvaerd, Laura: Compositions Part 2 (Ilk 262)
Tracey, Clark: Jubilation (Tentoten 763)
UNschooLED: Hymns For Robots Parts I-VI (Slam 2103)
Various: Soho Scene ’62/Jazz Goes Mod (R&B Records 035)
Various: Bossa Nova - Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1222)
Various: The Beat Of Brazil - Brazilian Grooves From The Warner Vaults (Stateside 081227943486)
Various: Jazz On Film - The New Wave II (Moochin' About 0827565060443)
Vinson, Will: Perfectly Out Of Place (5Passion, no number)
Vintskevich, Leonid/Steve Kershaw/Nick Vintskevich: Under A Different Sky (Slam 570)
Vitous, Miroslav: Infinite Search (Embryo 524, vinyl)
Washington, Dinah: Back To The Blues (Pure Pleasure 25189, vinyl)
Young, Larry: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1204)


Excerpts from the 110 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):

EARL BOSTIC: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS (Avid)
Devoted Bosticians (include me in) will welcome this collection of 48 tracks from four of his lesser-known LPs: Dance Time, Let’s Dance, Alto Magic In Hi Fi, and Dance Music From The Bostic Workshop. Only Harlem Nocturne, You Go To My Head, Stairway To The Stars, Be My Love and Lover Come Back rank with such classics (not on this compilation) as Flamingo, Sleep and Deep Purple. Some of the backing groups offer only plodding support, but Gene Redd makes distinctive contributions to the Bostic “sound”. Earl’s unique alto voice was refreshingly raucous and vulgar, but he was also a respected arranger and musician capable of both murderous and surprisingly gentle performances. Try his slaughtering “interpretation” of Liebestraum and a delicate rendition of Saint Saens’ My Heart At Thy Sweet Voice. What’s not to like – in small doses? (John White) ***

CADENTIA NOVA DANICA: AUGUST 1966 JAZZHUS MONTMARTRE (Storyville)
On 1 October 1968 I saw CND at the Wigmore Hall. Forty-nine years later, that concert remains a strong contender for the best gig I’ve ever attended. A recording was made but never issued, not even, as far as I am aware, on bootlegs. Some performances were recorded by the BBC but, as was her wont (c.f. the Albert Ayler LSE gigs) Auntie destroyed the tapes. The band performed a similar programme in Aarhus, 27 October. Recordings from this concert were issued on Polydor, and that would be a strong contender for my all-time favourite LP. So, how objective can I be about this release? Afrodisiaca, the 1969 recording of the big-band edition of CND, suffered by comparison to the majesty of the 1968 performances. This 1966 session, the band’s first concert soon after Tchicai returned from living in New York, comes closer, and it’s good to have, genuine group music in which texture and interweaving lines prevail over individual contributions (Barry Witherden) ****

NEIL COWLEY TRIO: SPACEBOUND APES (Hide Inside)
Neil Cowley’s music has always been cinematic, evocative, soundtrack-like. This time around, the typically dynamic music (bold piano riffs, at times thunderous drumming, super-tight bass lines) forms a concept album to accompany the story of space-bound chimp Lincoln. It’s a science-fiction tale of loss, love and living in the past and comes in the form of a blog (lincolnsdiary.tumblr.com), a website (spaceboundapes.com) and a book containing the full story, custom artwork and sheet music. I wasn’t sure about the quotation on the press release: “...the greatest stadium-filling anthems that Coldplay never wrote”. Good for the crossover appeal but unlikely to endear this disc to my heart. The music is available on its own and makes for a pretty stirring set of tunes. However, it’s so obviously a soundtrack, intended to support the story, that as a pure listening experience there’s an unfortunate sense of absence, of something missing. (Dave Foxall) ***

PAUL DUNMALL QUARTET: UNDERGROUND UNDERGROUND (Slam)
Talk about going for it. From the off, this two-tenor foursome pitches straight into some fierce free expression. Devil take the hindmost except there is nobody left trailing behind and drummer Bianco maintains a clattering conversation – although the bass is somewhat overwhelmed. The first title track features repetitive figures by the saxists which are hammered out, reshaped and then re-examined with little in the way of development. Bassist Brice finally gets heard in a long track entitled Timberwolf with an extended solo before Cotter and then Dunmall resume their wrestling match and take their saxophones to ear-torturing lengths until the piece ends in a rich semblance of harmony, further explored in Hear No Evil Play No Evil. Not for the faint-hearted, but with moments of undeniable passion, inspired by John Coltrane. (Anthony Troon) ***

ECHOES OF SWING: BIX – A TRIBUTE TO BIX BEIDERBECKE (ACT)
Bix’s crystalline, innovative lyricism quickly won admiring acclaim from his contemporaries, and he was a precursor to some extent of later cool-school concepts. For The Echoes Of Swing and guests, Bix remains an intriguing catalyst, inspiring a range of updated, individual interpretations of his musical persona. Some original recordings by Bix are ingeniously reworked in more latterday style, with changes to melody, tempo and rhythm. Ten well-mastered classic recordings from 1927-8 on CD2 invite the listener to consider not only why Bix was so special, but also, as performed in CD1, how the expression of jazz ideas has developed and broadened. Thus Jazz Band Ball revisited swings elegantly at a loping medium-slow tempo, with beautifully arranged section work, whilst I’m Coming Virginia has a funky Latin beat (with hints of Take Five), and Thou Swell suggests how Chet Baker with Bob Brookmeyer might have played it. Much preparation, skill and imagination went into these sessions, with a very high all-round standard of arrangement and performance. An outstanding release, full of interest. (Hugh Rainey) *****

ELLA FITZGERALD: SINGS BALLADS FOR LOVERS (Lucky Stars)
Previously released on Midnight Records in 2012 (and reviewed by me in JJ), this Lucky Stars release is a carbon copy of the Midnight release and so unfortunately offers nothing new for collectors. On listening again, though, I stand by the five stars I gave it four years ago: this is Ella at her best, and for that matter jazz balladeering at its best. The opener, Misty, is the jewel in the crown, and still as fresh and spellbinding as ever to these ears. (Sally Evans-Darby) *****

ERROLL GARNER: READY TAKE ONE (Sony Legacy)
Garner’s Complete Concert By The Sea (1955) deservedly topped JJ’s Critics’ Poll, 2015, and also won a Grammy. This completely new release, while not in quite the same league as its legendary predecessor, is still a valuable addition (in excellent sound) to his discography. The 14 tracks, recorded between 1967 and 1971, find Erroll in a variety of moods - jaunty, loping, hectic, pensive and joyous - and occasionally grunting. The outstanding takes are a driving Caravan, a “dragging hands” Satin Doll, the top speed but finely controlled Wild Music, a funky original blues, Down Wylie Avenue, and a languorous 1969 rendition (in Paris) of his most famous song, Misty. The handsome booklet contains informative comments from producers Peter Lockhart and Susan Rosenberg, a judicious appreciation by historian and Monk biographer Robin D. G. Kelly, astute comments from critic Dan Morgenstern and pianist/educator Geri Allen who (like Glaser) early recognised Erroll as “a true original”. His biographer James M. Doran (Erroll Garner: The Most Happy Piano) provides succinct comments on all the CD selections. My advice? Get it. (John White) ****

CHARLIE HADEN LIBERATION MUSIC ORCHESTRA: TIME/LIFE (Impulse!)
Universal do not make life easy for themselves or their reviewers, sending out promo copies for review with scant or non-existent discography. However, I gleaned the history of this necessarily disjointed release. The two live pieces bookending the set were performed at the Middleheim Festival at the behest of the festival director, who wanted the environment to be the festival’s focus. Before any more music could be recorded, Haden fell ill. His partner, Ruth Cameron, asked Carla Bley to finish the set with three more pieces. The band rehearsed these three pieces the day before Haden’s memorial service in New York City’s Town Hall on 12 January 2015 and then recorded them the day after. The Liberation Music Orchestra released its first record in the politically charged year of 1969 and four more have since appeared. If truth be told, its music has gradually become worthy rather than committed. This is certainly true here, with a passive Blue In Green, a stately and sometimes ponderous title track, and a sumptuous but ever so slow Utviklingssang. Only the strong trumpet solo on Silent Spring and the scalding tenor solo on Song For The Whales – indeed the whole track – convince. In these sad circumstances, the LMO has now run its course. This album rightly draws the curtain down on its politically inspired music. (Simon Adams) ***

NILS PETTER MOLVAER: BUOYANCY (OKeh/Sula)
The Norwegian trumpeter has come a long way since the 1983 Masqualero and in this new offering he is almost totally committed to electronically processed sound. There are lots of echo effects and muddy warblings to be digested here - but his use of “knives and forks” in the instrumentation might help. Among the other comparative oddities favoured by the quartet are the six-string guitar banjo and the Shankar guitar, an Indian slide guitar. Also, there’s alleged to be a bass baritone horn in there but I was unable to pick it out of the mix. There are a few catchy tunes in this programme and Gilimanuk has some plaintive open trumpet and is evocative of wide-open spaces plus snow, rather in the manner of Jan Garbarek, a countryman of the leader. Lamna Reef is a bleakly minimalist journey punctuated by handclaps and what sounds like Morse Code from a distant planet before a whistling kettle seems to start up. Perhaps Molvaer’s moody nouveau jazz has a following among short-wave addicts or people who look for life in far galaxies, but for me it’s an act of generosity to give it two stars. (Anthony Troon) **

ED PALERMO BIG BAND: ONE CHILD LEFT BEHIND (Cuneiform)
This is Ed Palermo’s fifth record in salute of his idol Frank Zappa. Enthusiasm for this album – any album featuring the music of Zappa is a good thing – is tempered by the fact that some of the arrangements don’t get it right always. Cleetus Awreetus Awrightus from The Grand Wazoo has a couple of heart-sink moments for hardcore FZ fans but it’s still an effective piece segueing neatly into Fifty-Fifty which works well as a big band number. Over half the tracks on the album are penned by Zappa but Palermo has insinuated amongst these some three of his own satisfyingly robust tunes plus some more questionable ones. One example is Neil Young’s Harvest Moon rendered as a seemingly incongruous ballad. The Grand Wazoo lifts the album into a different dimension, the only complaint being that it’s a full 10 minutes short of the original. It’s good to hear Zappa veteran singer Napoleon Murphy Brock on Pygmy Twylyte, Po-Jama People and the excellent Andy, followed by an uncredited “secret” a capella track at the end. This is a generally appealing big band album, but more Zappa please. (Roger Farbey) ***

BUD SHANK/CHET BAKER: MICHELLE + CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ (World Pacific)
“When a jazz artist finds himself with a hit record, there are frequently cries of ‘Sell Out’ from critics”, writes one of the annotators. You said it first, baby. I hope our three vagrants (the third being arranger Bob Florence) made a lot of money from these anodyne collections of 60s pop songs. As you would expect from Florence the charts are expert, but the jazz playing is gutted, presumably so as not to cause any mind strain in the listening children. (Steve Voce) *

TOMMY SMITH / BBC SCOTTISH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: MODERN JACOBITE (Spartacus)
This is concert hall music that doesn’t include much jazz, partly because of the unwieldy size of the ensemble. Yes, Smith plays some jazz lines over the orchestra (with distinctive tone), and some of the solos will have been improvised, but overall this suggests that the music here is in a number of ways similar to what a classical concerto would have originally sounded like before the improvisational element was taken out. It’s centred around Smith’s lengthy Jacobite, preceded by his brief interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise and ending with the more interesting interpretation of Corea’s Children’s Songs. (Dave Jones) ***

CLARK TRACEY: JUBILATION (Tentoten)
One of our more regular bandleaders, drummer Clark Tracey has picked eight standards, none of them over-used. Among the standout performances, Henry Armburg Jennings excels in his warm ballad treatment of Victor Feldman’s Falling In Love. Elsewhere, he forms part of a solid front line with the fluent Chris Maddock, not least on the other Feldman offering, Joshua. This comes with contrast built in and perhaps the routines overall could have done with a touch more tweaking, but then there is a point in letting good tunes such as Peggy’s Blue Skylight and The Dolphin emerge relatively unscathed. (Ronald Atkins) ***

LARRY YOUNG: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS (Avid Jazz)
Genius is an overused word, but we also apologise too often for using it. Larry Young was a genius. He died painfully and unnecessarily young, at an age when he had only had time to make these early records, half a dozen Blue Notes and then a run of intriguing fusion records with his Fuel group. And then he was gone, at 38. Young’s mature style can be characterised as an advanced modalism, its extreme chromaticism underlined by – or facilitated by – his ability to play whole sequences merely by using the drawbars on his Hammond. This, plus his presence on Bitches Brew and others, has helped underline an image of Young as an avant-gardist. And yet he remained, and ended up, as essentially a soul jazz player. He’s a featured sideman on Forrest Fire, already finding that ambiguous shimmer that makes even his simplest accompaniments rich and strange. Groove Street and Testifying find him shaping a more distinctive personal approach. The barroom instrumentation and funky setting, with Jimmie Smith’s drumming elemental and direct, tend to blur how sophisticated was Young’s thinking at the time. The fourth album is Young Blues. (Brian Morton) ****

 


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