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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 May 2017 (see below for excerpts):
Abrams, Muhal Richard: Remastered Black Saint & Soul Note Volume 2 (Cam Jazz BXS 1041)
Atzmon, Gilad/Alan Barnes: The Lowest Common Denominator (Woodville 148)
Bagley, Don: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1231)
Banks, Dan: Two In A Box (danbanks.co.uk)
Bechet, Sidney: The Grand Master Of The Soprano Saxophone And Clarinet (Columbia CL 836, vinyl)
Bedikyan, Burak: Awakening (SteepleChase 33129)
Black, Jim: Malamute (Intakt CD 283)
Bozzio, Terry: Composer Series (e.a.r Music 0211707)
Bridges: With Seamus Blake (AMP Music & Records 008)
Byars, Chris: The Music Of Frank Strozier (SteepleChase 31824)
Carlberg, Frank: Monk Dreams, Hallucinations And Nightmares (Red Piano 14599-4425)
Cherner, Jarrett/Trio: Expanding Heart (Baldhill 003)
Christian, Charlie: Live’ / First Star Of The Electric Guitar (Mr. Music 7040)
Coffey, Dennis: Hot Coffey In The D (Resonance 2024)
Cohn, Al/Zoot Sims: In London (Harkit 8567)
Colombo, Massimo/Peter Erskine/Bob Mintzer: We All Love Burt Bacharach (Oracle no number)
Dato, Carlo Actis/Enzo Rocco: Noise From The Neighbours (Setola Di Maiale 3160)
Diaz, Olegario: Aleph In Chromatic (SteepleChase 31823)
Duchess: Laughing At Life (Anzic 0056)
Ella & Louis: The Complete Norman Granz Sessions (One Records 59805)
Escape Hatch/Featuring Julian Argüelles: Roots Of Unity (Whirlwind 4696)
Galliano, Richard: Les Années Milan (Milan 399 538)
Hamasyan, Tigran: An Ancient Observer (Nonesuch 559114)
Hayes, Tubby: Invitation (Acrobat 4391)
Hayes, Tubby: Modes And Blues 8th February 1964 (Ronnie Scott's/Gearbox 1013, vinyl)
Herskedal, Daniel: The Roc (Edition 1084)
Hubbard, Freddie: The Hub Of Hubbard (MPS 0211346MSW)
Ineke, Eric: Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter (Daybreak 75226)
Irabagon, Jon/John Hegre/& Nils Are Drønen: Axis (Rune Grammofon 2190)
Jacques, Judy: The Sixties Sessions (Playback 004)
Johnson, Howard/And Gravity: Testimony (Tuscarora 17-001)
Jones, Dave/Ashley John Long: Postscript (davejonesjazz.com 007)
Juris, Vic: Plays Victor Young (SteepleChase 31829)
Kimbrough, Frank: Solstice (Pirouet 3097)
King, Freddy/Albert King: Four Classic Albums (Avid Roots 1229)
Knuffke, Kirk/Jesse Stacken: Satie (SteepleChase 31822)
Lincoln, Abbey: Love Having You Around (HighNote 7297)
Maalouf, Ibrahim: Live Tracks 2006-2016 (Impulse 572042)
Manby, Glen: Homecoming (Mainstem 59)
Mancio, Georgia/Alan Broadbent: Songbook (Roomspin 1923)
Masso, George: Choice N.Y.C. ’Bone (Progressive 7176)
McRae, Carmen: The Great American Songbook (Atlantic SD 2-904, vinyl)
Meier, Nicolas: Infinity (Favored Nations 2870)
Misha: Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake (Self produced)
Modern Jazz Quartet: Live At Monterey (Wienerworld Ad-07)
Monk, Thelonious: Complete 1954-62 Studio Solo Recordings (Essential Jazz Classics 55709)
Muh Trio, The: Prague After Dark (JMood 015)
Murray, David: Remastered Black Saint & Soul Note Volume 3 (Cam Jazz BXS 1042)
Omar: Love In Beats (Freestyle 117)
Onabulé, Ola: It’s The Peace That Deafens (Dot Time 9045)
Oxley, Pete/Nicholas Meier: The Colours Of Time (MGP 019)
Palmer, Jason: Beauty ’n’ Numbers (SteepleChase 31820)
Parker, Charlie: Live: Still Chasin’ The Bird (Mr. Music 7031)
Porter, Gregory: Live In Berlin (Eagle Rock 073)
Previte, Bobby: Mass (RareNoise 072)
Roach, Max: Remastered Black Saint & Soul Note Volume 2 (Cam Jazz BXS 1044)
Schantz, Moren: Godspeed (Edition 1081)
Scott, Jimmy: I Go Back Home (Eden River 01)
Smith, Jimmy: Home Cookin’ (Poll Winners Records 27358)
Spaceheads: Laughing Water (Electric Brass 006)
Spencer, Henry And Juncture: The Reasons Don’t Change (Whirlwind 4698)
Taxiwars: Fever (Universal Music Belgium 5714067)
Thielemans, Toots: Four Classic Albums (Avid 1223)
Various: British Traditional Jazz At A Tangent Volume 8: The New Orleans Style Bands 1950-1962 (Lake 348)
Various: The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club 4 (Freestyle 119)
Various: Unissued On 78S. Hot Dance Music And Jazz From Britain (Retrieval 78081)
Warren, John: The Traveller’s Tale (Fledg’ling 3103)
Wasserfuhr, Julian & Roman: Landed In Brooklyn (ACT 99829)
Weeds, Cory: It’s Easy To Remember (Cellar Live 031716)
Whitfield, Mark: Grace (Marksman 8 2268533147 3)
Williams, Clarence: Baby, Won't You Please Come Home? His 26 Finest 1923-1933 (Retrospective 4303)


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):

GILAD ATZMON/ALAN BARNES: THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR (Woodville)
As boss of the Woodville label, some may think Alan Barnes took a risk here, not only by sharing the limelight with Gilad Atzmon but letting him organise the show and bring in musicians from his Orient House Ensemble. Actually, it’s not quite so drastic, since Barnes wrote five of the eight originals and effortlessly enters into the spirit. The two horns blend pretty well. Atzmon’s sometimes controversial image does not make his actual music that far-out; he and Barnes have similar roots on alto saxophone, kicking off with Charlie Parker and moving back and forth from there. Tunes are mostly good ones, two attractive ballads in Sweet Pea (Barnes) and Pro-State Solution (Atzmon) standing out from the more swinging surrounds. It should appeal to fans of the leaders and beyond. (Ronald Atkins) ****

BLURT: LIVE AT OTO (Salamander)
Ted Milton’s insouciantly vituperative vocals bear a passing resemblance to those of Gong’s late progenitor, Daevid Allen. Indeed there’s something of Gong about Blurt, perhaps mixed with the Sex Pistols. But it would be a big mistake to casually dismiss this live recording as noisy and noisome. Blurt was founded in 1979 and Milton, a poet and musician, is clearly still influenced by punk rock. The music, heavy on reverb and ubiquitous 4/4 tempos, reflects both the rage of punk and the inventiveness of a generic predecessor, experimental art rock. The surreal lyrics and hypnotic vamps make for intriguing interplay. (Roger Farbey) ***

TERRY BOZZIO: COMPOSER SERIES (Ear Music)
Terry Bozzio was ranked 17th in Rolling Stone magazine’s 2016 list of the 100 greatest drummers of all time. However, given that Art Blakey didn’t even figure in this list, a fair degree of sodium chloride should be taken with these results. But despite all that pop-centric hyperbole, Bozzio is a genuinely prodigiously talented drummer having notably cut his teeth with Frank Zappa. He recorded with the Brecker Brothers on their Heavy Metal Be-Bop album. He’s also worked with Herbie Hancock, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck, Mark Isham and Tony Coe to name but a few. Zappa’s influence on Bozzio is apparent in this Composer Series set, specifically Zappa’s Jazz From Hell, recorded in 1986, on which he employed the Synclavier Digital Music System on all but one track. This box set comprises four CDs and one Blu-ray DVD. The Blu-ray DVD contains three programmes, all fascinating. Whilst the compositions on the two Fusion sets frequently contain dramatic vamps, Fascist or Psychopath for example, in the same mould as Stewart Copeland’s memorable The Equalizer television theme, they don’t quite satisfy as much as a live Bozzio drum solo would. The Classic CD contains a more interesting selection, Music For Idiots, with sampled strings and piano. The final disc, Ambient, is not always ambient as such, occasionally containing some quite strident passages. Taken as a whole, the project is an ambitious one, exuding energy and imagination throughout. (Roger Farbey) ***

DENNIS COFFEY: HOT COFFEY IN THE D (Resonance)
In the album’s title, the letter ‘D’ stands for Detroit. More specifically, it stood for a city right at the cutting edge of R&B as once recorded by Motown. A regular on that label, Dennis Coffey appeared on numerous hits behind the likes of The Temptations. For all the twangs and fuzzy tones associated with the genre, he can also take a prominent role in what, at least on the surface, looks like your basic organ trio. Recorded at a club, the music skirts around jazz. The two group originals, Fuzz and The Big D, rank among the earlier examples of Sly Stone’s impact on improvising routines, while none of the other tunes began life as a natural cooker. One can imagine someone like Charles Earland transforming The Look Of Love along those lines, but that’s not the approach here. Part of the R&B scene, Melvin Davis also has form as a vocalist whereas Lyman Woodard, who switched to the organ after hearing Jimmy Smith, seems the jazziest of the three and proves the point during his foray on Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage. My average rating undervalues the musicianship. The insert notes, packed with interviews, are also highly recommended. (Ronald Atkins) ***

AL COHN & ZOOT SIMS: IN LONDON (Harkit)
It’s 1965, and Sims and Cohn are playing nightly at Ronnie Scott’s club in Soho. London is said to be swinging and it certainly is at Scott’s with these two blowing. Someone had the bright idea of fixing up a record session for them with the British rhythm section they were working with plus guest appearances from Peter King and Jack Sharpe. This release is particularly welcome as it is one of the pair’s best and most sought-after discs and it only had very limited LP release on World Record Club. The two settled in at Lansdowne Studios right away and swung through Cohn’s Shaft for just under five minutes before entering Haunted Jazzclub, a more substantial theme which the two tenors work through carefully before getting back to more familiar territory with the uptempo, hard-swinging Zoot’s Tune. Sims flows through this one smoothly, his time spot on, and he is followed by Tracey fashioning an Ellington via Monk solo that still comes out somehow sounding pure Stan. The entire set represents the very best of mainstream modern. (Derek Ansell) *****

ELLA FITZGERALD AND LOUIS ARMSTRONG: THE COMPLETE NORMAN GRANZ SESSIONS (One Records)
For such titans in 20th-century jazz as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, picking out a career highlight is nigh on impossible, but these sessions with Norman Granz in 1956-7 certainly come close. There’s something about Ella and Louis in this setting that is immeasurably listenable and always immensely enjoyable. Ella and Louis had played together before this, recording their first duet with big band backing in 1946, but these sets with Granz were their first small-group outings. This collection consists of the three albums produced by Granz in 1956-57: Ella & Louis, Ella & Louis Again, and Porgy & Bess, plus two bonus tracks (which also appeared on the 2012 reissue of Porgy & Bess, reviewed by me in JJ December 2012). Why do these tracks work so well? The pair’s audible camaraderie certainly plays a large part, the recordings conveying the sense of the two bouncing ideas off one another, enjoying each other’s company. Savoy is a fine example – in fact a practice take that Granz decided to include as it’s filled with spontaneous interjections from Louis and unguarded laughter from Ella, pure joy distilled into a five-minute recording. And that’s just one track from a 47-track collection. This is jazz at its indispensable best. (Sally Evans-Darby) *****

TUBBY HAYES: MODES AND BLUES 8TH FEBRUARY 1964 (Ronnie Scott’s/Gearbox 1013, vinyl)
By 1964 the Hayes quintet had settled down into one of the most cohesive units in modern jazz. The music here reflected his intention to explore the avant-garde area of jazz as represented by John Coltrane and he was most likely inspired by Trane’s Chasin’ The Trane recording. Certainly Tubby’s tenor solo here is the same length as Coltrane’s marathon at 16 minutes although Hayes does not resort to screeches and tonal distortions but plays in his own, unique best blues and hard-bop manner. It starts off gently enough with a placid flute and warm trumpet introduction but builds up to a thoroughly invigorating 16 minutes with the rhythm section supporting vigorously throughout. Side two gives us a lyrical Deuchar solo followed by bass and drum workouts before Tubby returns to take it out. Hayes kept to fairly straightahead playing on record and on most live gigs so it is possible that only hard-core regular visitors to Scott’s heard this more cutting-edge Tubby music. The vinyl sound is first class and the music essential to real jazz enthusiasts. (Derek Ansell) ****

FREDDIE HUBBARD: THE HUB OF HUBBARD (MPS)
During a break in a 1969 European tour Hubbard went into the MPS studios in Villingen in the Black Forest and laid down the four tracks on this excellent disc. Along with Eddie Daniels on tenor and a top rhythm section he produced a spellbinding performance. Things kick off with Vincent Youmans’ Without A Song, an upbeat joyful take, quite different to the restrained versions we usually hear. The trumpeter’s clear, confident, brassy tone is most impressive. Just One Of Those Things gets an even faster tempo and no prisoners are taken. Eddie Daniels’ prowess on the tenor matches the leader’s. Blues For Duane is a 12-bar on which Hubbard uses a Harmon mute. Hanna’s piano solo is a little masterpiece and Richard Davis’s bass work is riveting. Hubbard’s lyrical ballad treatment of The Things We Did Last Summer is deeply moving. The recording engineers deserved an Oscar for the amazing sound definition; the perfect sound is captured to perfection. Altogether a most satisfying, fully rounded jazz programme, very nearly five stars. (Brian Robinson) ****

VIC JURIS: PLAYS VICTOR YOUNG (SteepleChase)
Surely a time must come when every jazz-playing Victor – Victor Feldman, Victor Lewis, Vic Lewis, Vic Juris – contemplates a tribute album to songwriter Victor Young. Yet Vic Juris can’t recall any such album – which makes his own delightful tribute all the more welcome. It’s mostly a trio, plus duets with bassist Jay Anderson (Beautiful Love), drummer Anthony Pinciotti (Stella By Starlight) and vocalist Kate Baker (My Foolish Heart). On that last track, Juris switches to acoustic steel strings, which also figure in a haunting, idiomatic interpretation of Peggy Lee’s hit Johnny Guitar, and in the solo Golden Earrings. These latter are theme-songs from the films of the same name. Unlike the earlier generation of Tin Pan Alley songwriters, Victor Young (1900–1956) wrote almost entirely for the movies. Composer Miklós Rózsa scornfully referred to Young’s “Broadway-cum-Rachmaninoff idiom”, but Rózsa’s film themes have gained no popularity in jazz. Highlights include a plangent version of the rather neglected A Weaver Of Dreams, while the duo Stella By Starlight is a delight. My only slight criticism is that some phrases, a certain descending pattern in particular, become a little familiar. But this is jazz guitar of a very high standard indeed – a potential album of the year. (Andy Hamilton) *****

FREDDY KING/ALBERT KING: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS (Avid Roots)
Three albums from Freddy King and one from Albert King are collected here. Let’s Hide Away And Dance Away is an instrumental album which opens with Freddy’s best-known number, Hide Away, and includes that tune’s close relative The Stumble. The remaining three albums feature Freddy or Albert on vocals as well as guitar. Neither man is a giant of vocal blues, but their voices are pleasant enough. The real vocal star on show is Lula Reed – pianist Sonny Thompson’s wife – who shares singing duties with Freddy on Boy-Girl-Boy. The album veers towards the pop end of the blues spectrum, cashing in on the latest dance sensation with Do The Peppermint Twist, but Reed’s strong and sassy vocal style gives an added edge to tracks like Puddentane and the King/Reed duets work well. Albert King’s The Big Blues, the best of these albums, was recorded in 1962 but harks back to the urban blues and jump blues sounds of an earlier decade – especially on songs like Let’s Have A Natural Ball when guitar and saxes are in full flight. Albert’s vocal style is grittier than Freddy’s too. Neither Freddy or Albert gained the legendary status of BB King, but their playing styles strongly influenced the next generation of electric blues guitarists. (Bruce Lindsay) ****

NICOLAS MEIER: INFINITY (Favored Nations)
London-based Meier must be one of the hardest working men in jazz. He served three years in guitarist Jeff Beck’s band, which must be a badge of honour for any axeman. Meier somehow managed to squeeze this trio recording into his busy schedule and it is a corker. Meier’s thing isn’t balls-out shredding. Instead his sound is a hybrid of robust Metheny-esque lyricism and Turkish-flavoured world music, performed on an array of guitars, fretless glissentar and the lute-like baglama. The transport of violinists on eight tracks and the “always on” rhythm section make for a rich, heady and uplifting programme. (Garry Booth) ***

THELONIOUS MONK: COMPLETE 1954-1962 STUDI0 SOLO RECORDINGS (Essential Jazz Classics)

The Parisian recordings mark the first occasion when Monk played solo throughout a session, and show him in sprightly mood. Elsewhere, if his playing sometimes seems over-deliberate it still draws you in. The distinction between melodic lines and harmonic underpinnings melts under his compositional and improvisational imagination, and he finds fresh perspectives in familiar standards as much as in his own compositions and those obscure songs like You Took The Words and Cherie. The bonuses here are alternative takes of Functional and Cherie and some tracks recorded at the Manhattan apartment of Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, which was a refuge for Monk (notwithstanding his distaste for Nica’s numerous cats) as it had once been for Charlie Parker. Monk introduces this first outing for Pannonica, a bonus really worth having. All in all, a real treat for Monk fans and a good introduction to his work for others. (Barry Witherden) ****

OLA ONABULÉ: IT’S THE PEACE THAT DEAFENS (Dot Time)
Singer and songwriter Ola Onabulé has been recording for over 20 years and the experience shows on this collection of original songs, performed with a dozen of the best jazz and session musicians in Europe. Onabulé’s voice is stylish and smooth, bringing soulful singers like Michael McDonald to mind rather than jazz vocalists – especially on the silky, seductive Love Again, where his voice is matched perfectly by Femi Temowo’s guitar. He’s a talented writer, too: there’s an immediacy to these songs yet many of them – including the excellent title track – will reveal more, both musically and lyrically, on repeated listening. (Bruce Lindsay) ****

STAN SULZMANN & JOHN TAYLOR: DOUBLE EXPOSURE (Inversion)
After the success of their collaboration in 1987 on Kenny Wheeler’s Flutter By, Butterfly (Soul Note), Taylor and Sulzmann were offered the chance by Sentinel Studios to spend some time in Cornwall in 1990 recording and experimenting with their new material. For reasons that remain unclear, the 13 short songs they recorded have remained unreleased until now. Taylor’s restrained romanticism is to the fore on the beautifully crafted Slow Loris, Sulzmann responding conversationally. A similar approach is taken to Ocean Deep. More complex is Stango, where both echo the tango of the title. The sonic wonders of Country/Raindrops make their mark, as do the sprightly rising cadences of Cartoon/Room For Improvement. Throughout, Taylor mainly sticks to piano, the organ-like synth of Free Ballad a fine exception, while Sulzmann is predominately on tenor sax, often in its higher registers, although his flute solo on CD Smith is a gem. The set is a fine legacy to the late John Taylor. (Simon Adams) ****

CORY WEEDS: IT’S EASY TO REMEMBER (Cellar Live)
Recorded live at Small’s Jazz Club, this date piloted by saxophonist Cory Weeds is a strong affirmation of the continued validity of the hard-bop style. Weeds, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and the trusty pianist David Hazeltine are all embedded in and true to that robust form of jazz expression. Think Jazz Messengers; this is where they are. Part of the essence is well crafted, attractive arrangements, accurate unisons, rhythmic certainty and ample room to improvise intelligently. Weeds draws vivid enthusiasm from his troops, while also leading by example. In this instance Hazeltine is responsible for the excellent charts, which, as Weeds observes, benefit from the small harmonic and rhythmic changes which add so much depth to the tunes. Well recorded with great presence, the driving nature of the proceedings clearly delighted an appreciative audience. Great to hear Magnarelli reflecting the influence of my favourite trumpeter Kenny Dorham, while Weeds pays his respects to Hank Mobley and Joe Henderson. In short, this is an absolutely cracking date, enlivened by splendid writing and consistent playing of a high order by all concerned. Another winner from Weeds! (Mark Gardner) ****

 


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