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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 albums reviewed in JJ September 2018 (see below for sample reviews):

A.T.A.: Acoustic Tarab Alchemy (Odradek 701)
Alexander, Tommy/Keith Williams: West Coast Series (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 965)
Anderson, Matt: Rambling (Jellymould JM-JJ030)
Armstrong, Louis/Dave Brubeck: The Real Ambassadors (Jazz Images 24737)
Arriale, Lynne: Give Us These Days (Challenge 3453)
Bailey, John: In Real Time (Summit 720)
Baker, Chet: Complete Chet Baker Sings (Jazz Images 38057)
Baker, Chet: Angel Eyes (Jazz Images 38064)
Baker, Chet: Live At Ann Arbor (Jazz Images 38061)
Baker, Chet: In New York (Jazz Images 38056)
Baker, Chet: Sextet & Quartet (Jazz Images 38062)
Baker, Chet: For Lovers (Jazz Images 38053)
Baker, Chet: Strings & Ensemble (Jazz Images 38060)
Baker, Chet: In Paris (New Continent 648044)
Baker, Chet: And Crew (Jazz Images 38055)
Baker, Chet: My Funny Valentine (Jazz Images 38058)
Baker, Chet/Gerry Mulligan: Original Quartet (Jazz Images 38054)
Bales, Kevin/Keri Johnsrud: Beyond The Neighbourhood/Music Of Fred Rogers (beyondtheneighbourhood.com)
Beck, Gordon: Jubilation! (Turtle 501)
Beck, Gordon: When Sunny Gets Blue (Turtle 502)
Binker And Moses: Alive In The East? (Gearbox 1547)
Brubeck, Dave: Gone With The Wind (Jazz Images 24740)
Bzhezhinska, Alina: Inspiration (Ubuntu 0008)
Charette, Brian/George Coleman: Groovin' With Big G (SteepleChase 31857)
Cobham, Billy: Magic/Alivemutherforya (Beat Goes On 1327)
Cohn, Al: The Jazz Workshop - Four Brass One Tenor  (RCA Victor LPM-1161, vinyl)
Cole, Nat King: Four Classic Albums (Avid 1303)
Colyer, Ken/With The Crane River Jazz Band: The Cranes Fly Again (Upbeat Jazz 281)
Connelly, Peggy: Hollywood Sessions (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 964)
Cosentino, Filippo: Andromeda (Nau 1309)
Daniels, Eddie: Heart Of Brazil (Resonance 1027)
Dinosaur: Wonder Trail (Edition 1111)
Dorham, Kenny: Four Classic Albums, Second Set (Avid 1300)
Draw By Four: Framework (Jellymould 029)
Duran, Hilario: Contumbao (Alma 92272)
Frisell, Bill: Music IS (Okeh 19075815002)
Fuller, Curtis: In New Orleans (Progressive 7178)
Fuller, Tia: Diamond Cut (Mack Avenue 1127)
Getz, Stan/Lionel Hampton: Hamp & Getz (Jazz Images 24739)
Harian, Kent/Ted McNabb: East Coast Series (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 967)
Hawes, Pat: Live In London In 2000 (Jazz Crusade 3055)
Henderson, Eddie: Be Cool (Smoke Sessions 1802)
Hi-Lo's, The: All Over The Place + And All That Jazz (Jackpot 48769)
Holliday, Michael: The Story Of My Life (Retrospective 4330)
K., Dimitri: Blue Cat (dimitrik.com)
Khan, Steve: Public Access/Headline/Crossings (Beat Goes On 1332)
Kolker, Adam/Russ Lossing: Whispers And Secrets (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 5102)
Konitz, Lee: Inside High-Fi (PPAN 1258, vinyl,)
Koum Tara: Chaabi, Jazz And Strings (Odradek 700)
Lafitte, Guy: And His Quartette & Quintette (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 962)
Lefaivre, Alex: YUL (MCM/alexlefaivre.com)
Lewis, Ramsey: Legacy/Ramsey/Live At The Savoy/Chance Encounter (Beat Goes On 1330)
Lincoln, Abbey: Four Classic Albums (Avid 1302)
Lincoln, Abbey: Abbey In Blue (Jazz Images 24736)
Magnarelli, Joe: Magic Trick (SteepleChase 31845)
Maniscalco/Bigoni/Solborg: Foil (ILK 281)
Mills, Irving: Hotsy Totsy Gang 1930 Plus Some Whoopee Makers (Retrieval 79084)
Morello, Paulo: Sambop (In + Out 77135)
Navarrete, Brenda: Mi Mundo (Alma 92972)
Onyx Collective: Lower East Suite Part Three (Big Dada 294)
Preminger, Noah: Genuinity (Criss Cross 1397)
Presley, Elvis: Four Classic Albums Plus, Second Set (Avid 1299)
Roberts, Howard: The Swingin' Groove Of Howard Roberts (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 963)
Shaw, Woody: Tokyo ’81 (Elemental 5990529)
Shepard, Tommy/Richard Wess: West Coast Series (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 966)
Simon, Edward: Sorrows & Triumphs (Sunnyside 1511)
Solal, Martial: Solo Piano Vol. 2 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 960)
Studer, Fredy: Now's The Time (Everest 089)
Suhor, Don: New Orleans Clarinet & Sax Virtuoso (GHB Records BCD-561/562)
The Trio: Incantation - The Dawn Recordings 1970-1971 (Esoteric 22635)
Thielemans, Toot: The Soul Of Toots Thielemans (Jazz Images 24735)
Trinidad, Joshua: In November (RareNoise 094)
Trio HLK: Standard Time (Ubuntu Music 0006)
Vaché, Allan: It Might As Well Be Swing (Arbors 19461)
Various: The Savory Collection 1935-40 (Mosaic MD6-266)
Various: The Classic Songs Of Cole Porter (Acrobat 3243)
Vivian, Jim: Sometime Ago (Cornerstone 148)
Web Web: Dance Of The Demons (Compost 516)
Wiley, Lee: Night In Manhattan + Sings Vincent Youmans & Irving Berlin (Jackpot 48770)
Williams, Gary: Treasure Seeker (BOS Entertainment 6824)
Young, Lester: Four Classic Albums (Avid 1307)

Examples of the 81 album reviews in this issue (see more reviews as printed; subscribe to see 12 months of the print edition of Jazz Journal, including over 20,000 words of CD review each issue):


GORDON BECK
JUBILATION! TRIOS, QUARTETS AND SEPTETS IN SESSION, 1964-1984
CD1: (1) Speak Low; Time After Time; Virgo; Airegin; (2) Miss T. Fying; Sincerity; Suite Number One; And Still She Is With Me; Motifs; (3) Reaching For the Stars And Further Still; Prelude/Tying Up The Loose Ends; Whoops (73.04)
CD2: (4) Little D; The Curtain; Was The Way It Was?; Headin’ On Out; (5) Suite: Bits & Pieces; (6) Untitled Improvisation (incl. Blue In Green) (79.15)
CD3: (7) Box You Fight Him He Cry Out; Thoughts; Good Times Sometimes; Here Comes The Mallet Man; (8) November Song; Romantic It Isn’t; Lady V; The Quick Brown Fox; (9) Untitled 1; Untitled 2 (75.30)

(1) Beck (p); Jeff Clyne (b); Johnny Butts (d). January 1964, May 1966. (2) as above, Tony Oxley (d) replaces Butts. October 1968. (3) Kenny Wheeler (t, flh); Chris Pyne (tb); Ray Warleigh (as, f); Beck (p); Frank Ricotti (vib); Ron Mathewson (b); Tony Oxley (d). June 1972. (4) Beck (p); Mathewson (b); Oxley (d). November 1975. (5) Beck (solo p, elp, bamboo f). May 1976. (6) as for 3. Mid-70s. (7) Beck (solo p, elp). December 1976. (8) Stan Sulzmann (s, f); Frank Ricotti (vib); Mick Hutton (b); Steve Arguëlles (d). January 1984. (9) Beck (elp), plus unknown f, b, elb, d. Undated.
Turtle 501

GORDON BECK / JOY MARSHALL
WHEN SUNNY GETS BLUE: SPRING ’68 SESSIONS
(1) Come Back To Me; Dr Feelgood; Gentle Rain; He Loves Me; Peel Me A Grape; Sunny; Telephone Song; Goin’ Out Of My Head; When Sunny Gets Blue; Bewitched; What Kind Of Fool Am I; Blame It On My Youth; On A Clear Day; (2) Bewitched; My Ship; Make Someone Happy (45.07)
(1) Beck (p); John McLaughlin (elg); Jeff Clyne (b); Tony Oxley (d); Joy Marshall (v). (2) Beck (p); Clyne (b); Johnny Butts (d); Marshall (v).
March & April 1968.
Turtle 502

We once persuaded Helen Merrill to do a Radio 3 session at Maida Vale. I was a bit weak at the knees, and so was she, but only because Gordon Beck was there as her accompanist. She watched him rapt through the glass as he warmed up the Steinway with the Blue In Green theme that surfaces more than once on these archive tracks, a motif by which I sense Beck often judged his own playing, or maybe the instrument. I’ve said before that his trio with Ron Mathewson and Tony Oxley is the greatest I’ve ever seen in person, and the fresh material here doesn’t change that. When the group name was changed to MOB that seemed to reflect the democracy and balance of the sound. At other times, it’s Beck who seems to command all the attention.


The person who called the box set Jubilation! clearly had some sense of humour. Never has more beautiful and uplifting music come from such a lugubrious and Eeeyorish individual. But then Gordon Beck was treated with the usual casual disregard by the British jazz establishment (including the BBC) and spent much of his career abroad, some of it with Phil Woods but often with open-minded French musicians. Over the span of these recordings, though, he was the closest thing to Bill Evans we had, an experimenter in his own way, a composer of some depth and distinction, but, as Merrill described, a peerless interpreter of standard material. He was also one of the most distinguished exponents of electric piano.


He began his professional career after returning from
Canada, where he worked as a technical draftsman, but also heard a lot of jazz. He launched his own trio and the always adventurous Gyroscope in the later 60s, while working in the house band at Ronnie Scott’s. He seemed to embrace modality, avant-garde procedures, even rock, with equanimity and never played anything that could be dismissed as generic or hackneyed. His attack had an almost lapidary solidness.


He first worked with Merrill in 1968, the year Joy Marshall died. Marshall is one of those names that usually prompts extra-musical reactions. She was, in short, a nightmare. The girlfriend of Tubby Hayes, wife of Peter King, casual succubus and starter of fights to the carriage trade; but was she a jazz singer? She thought not. The evidence here suggests otherwise, but often because Beck and John McLaughlin, who is simply astonishing on On A Clear Day, provide her with a flattering accompaniment. The voice was dramatic, even if the diction was sometimes strange, closer to Al Hibbler than to Helen Merrill, let’s just say.

Marshall tended to dominate any room she occupied, and any conversation that included her name, even after her wasteful death (she slightly dominates Simon Spillett’s excellent liner notes), but the star of both these invaluable sets is Gordon Beck himself. Seven years after his death and more than a dozen since he had to hang up his suit through ill health, we haven’t come close to appreciating fully his contribution to British jazz.
Brian Morton


BILLY COBHAM
MAGIC / ALIVEMUTHERFORYA

CD1: On A Magic Carpet Ride; AC/DC; Leaward Winds; Puffnstuff; “Anteres” The Star; Magic (Reflections In The Clouds)/(Recapitulation) (39.24) CD2: “Anteres” The Star; Bahama Mama; Shadows; Some Punk Funk; Spindrift; On A Magic Carpet Ride (41.32)
Cobham (d, pc, v); Joachim Kuhn (p, elp, kyb); Mark Soskin (p, syn); Pete Maunu (g); Randy Jackson (b); Alvin Batiste (cl, v); Kathleen Kaan (v); Sheila Escovedo (pc); Pete Escovedo (pc, v); Alphonso Johnson (b); Steve Khan (g); Tom Scott (ts s, Lyricon, pc). 1977/1978.
Beat Goes On 1327

Like most of the monster musicians he’s played with during his 50-odd years behind the kit, Billy Cobham has remained a progressive artist with his finger on the pulse. Indeed, the music he has released as a leader, whilst obviously drum-heavy, has always absorbed the tastes and trends of the times, and these two releases from the late 1970s are no exception. They typify a period when disco, funk and Latin-rock were radio-friendly in the most credible way a couple of jazz fusion discs can.

The studio-cut Magic lands with a bang, bounding in with On A Magic Carpet Ride and a syncopated drum groove slamming hard against pointy rock guitar and a funky piano solo from Soskin. Rather than a nod to the illustrious Aussie heavies, AC/DC sounds more Santana, alive with the clatter of cowbell and timbales and Cobham digging his heels into punchy lines from Jackson and Mauna. This is followed by a cool dip into some disco soul (Leaward Winds) before a quirky, clarinet-blown prelude to Puffnstuff suddenly throws the whole band into a long, smoking disco section wet with wah guitar, handclaps and what appears to be a multi-tracked rap from Cobham asserting an aversion for “jazz cigarettes”.

Interestingly, there are a couple of cuts from the Magic set that roll better raw and uptempo on the live side of this collection, and the drolly-titled Alivemutherforya finds the dynamic drummer at his most pyrotechnic over a run of diverse tunes credited to members of the band. Johnson’s Bahama Mama brims synth-licked reggae, while Scott’s Spindrift scatters samba vibes in the wake of Khan’s Some Punk Funk, a tune that offers everything you’d expect from an axeman fresh from playing frantic, horn-heavy fusion with the Brecker Brothers.
Mark Youll

PEGGY CONNELLY
HOLLYWOOD SESSIONS

(1) You Make Me Feel So Young; Trouble Is A Man; Where Did The Gentleman Go; I Have Said Goodbye To Spring (2) What Is There To Say; Trav’lin Light; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye; Alone Together; I Got Plenty O Nuttin’; Fools Rush In; Ev ‘ry Time; Gentleman Friend; It Never Entered My Mind; Why Shouldn’t I; That Old Black Magic; He Was Too Good To Me (44.42)
Connelly (v) with (1) Marty Paich’s Orchestra, Hollywood 1954. (2) Russell Garcia’s Wigville Band, Hollywood 1956.
Fresh Sound FSR-CD 964

You might think that being Frank Sinatra’s girlfriend for some years meant a desired career as a jazz and pop singer was more or less guaranteed. Not so. Although in possession of a really strong voice, fine intonation and a good sense of swing, all demonstrated fully on these two sessions in the mid-50s, Peggy never really made it as a vocalist. In fact these two recordings were her only ones as leader. She did get singing assignments over the years but no regular recording opportunities and was ultimately more successful as an actor and comedienne in Hollywood. Sinatra praised her singing but a trip to Spain to make a film got in Ms Connelly’s way when Ava Gardner came back on the scene unexpectedly and she was despatched back home without him.

There is some good crooning to be heard on the first four tracks, with support from pianist Jimmy Rowles and Stella Castellucci’s harp. Even better she swings though a batch of good standards on the rest of the programme with Garcia’s outfit and backing accompaniment from the likes of Pete and Conte Candoli, Bill Holman, Charlie Mariano and Stan Levey.

My record shelves contain at least eight CDs of unknown but first-rate women jazz singers that never got near the big time. I extend a warm welcome to Peggy Connelly as a really good jazz singer who never received the recognition she so clearly deserved. She died in 2007 aged 76.
Derek Ansell


STEVE KHAN
PUBLIC ACCESS / HEADLINE / CROSSINGS

CD1: Sisé; Blue Zone 41; Kamarica; Silent Screen; Mambosa; Butane Elvin; Botero People; Mama Chóla; Turnaround; Caribbean Fire Dance (76.27)
CD2: All Or Nothing At All; Descarga Khanalonious; Think Of One; What I’m Said; Pee Wee; It’s You Or No One; I Love Paris; Capricorn; Melancholee; Inner Urge; When My Lady Sleeps (78.12)
Khan (g); Anthony Jackson (contrabass g); Dave Weckl, Dennis Chambers (d); Manolo Badrena (p, v); Michael Brecker (ts); Lani Groves, Vivian Cherry, Janie Barnett, Kurt Yahjian (v), 1989, 1992, 1993.
Beat Goes On 1332

This three-album set from one of the finest fret-burners in fusion typifies an era in jazz-rock before it was temporarily hijacked by a new smooth, commercially viable model. Extensive liner notes note how Khan, a player part of the New York guitar fraternity that featured John Abercrombie, John Scofield and Bill Connors, forged a strong reputation in the mid-1970s as a first-call sessioner (with the likes of the Brecker Brothers, Alphonso Johnson and Billy Cobham) prior to forming Eyewitness in 1977, trading his Telecaster for an acoustic to record the solo album Evidence in 1980, and eventually picking up the warm-toned Gibson which weaves through most of the music you’ll hear here.

Delivering the eight Latin-influenced cuts on Public Access is a crack band of Badrena, Weckl and Jackson, stellar musos well versed in all things samba, montuno and merengue thanks to their previous roles with Weather Report, Michel Camilo and Steps Ahead. From the cha-cha- flavoured Sisé the album weaves through straightahead swing (Blue Zone 41 and Butane Elvin), one-drop reggae (Botero People) and the kind of crispy funk you’d expect from the period and these players.

With the exception of Weckl, who is replaced by the more thunderous Chambers, the same band stick around for Headline. The music is a similar scatter of styles but the original record is deplorably shaved down to a measly three tracks for this CD release. This means it’s left to the thankfully unclipped Crossings and a cooking quintet now headed up by Michael Brecker firing through tracks composed by Cole Porter (I Love Paris), Joe Henderson (Inner Urge) and Monk (Think Of One) to remind us just how hard Khan could kick, and still strike a chord past his supposed 70s peak.
Mark Youll


GUY LAFITTE
QUARTETTE & QUINTETTE

(1) Blue And Sentimental; She’s Funny That Way; Stardust; (2)Where Or When; (3) Krum Elbow Blues; (4) If I Had You; I’ve Got The World On A String; Get Happy; I Cover The Waterfront; I Got Rhythm; Melodie Au Crepuscule; Sweethearts On Parade; Topsy: (5) If I Could Be With You; Jubilee; Chase À ‘La Baute’; (6) Dans Un Vieux Livre; Flying Back; What A Funny Moon; Partnership Boys (73.21)
Lafitte (ts) with: (1) Geo Daly (vib); Raymond Fol (p); Alix Bret (b); Bernard Planchenault (d). Paris, May 1954. (2) as above plus Jean Bonal (g). (3) as (1) plus Peanuts Holland (t); Bernard Zacharias (tb). (4) Daly (vib); André Persiany (p); Buddy Banks (b); Jacques David (d). Paris, 1 June 1954. (5) Daly (vib); Persiany (p); Jacques “Popoff” Medvedko (b); Teddy Martin (d). Paris, 31 March 1955. (6) Daly (vib); Jean-Pierre Sasson (g); Jean-Claude Pelletier (p); Paul Rovère (b); Christian Garros (d). Paris, 18 June 1956.
Fresh Sound FSR-CD 962

Guy Lafitte was a natural. He turned up in Paris around 1950, playing swing tenor with the big, full tone and luxuriant vibrato that were an inseparable part of him and, as jazz fashions came and went, he simply kept at it. In some respects he was lucky. French popular music in the 50s had its own special categories. Among the labels on jukeboxes, such as Accordéon and Chanson, there was the curious item, Slow – steamy ballads for late-night dancing. No doubt that’s where some of the early tracks on this CD found a welcome.

Playing through the album, it soon becomes clear that Lafitte was no copyist. His Blue And Sentimental isn’t Herschel Evans and his Stardust isn’t Coleman Hawkins, although they’re all in broadly the same stylistic area. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, Geo Daly’s vibes impart a kind of night-clubby atmosphere to the proceedings. Of course, those were the places to enjoy this music, in Paris anyway, and I treasure the memory of my single visit to Les Trois Mailletz and hearing Lafitte there – sans vibes on that occasion.

Krum Elbow Blues gives us a brief taste of Lafitte the band player, in partnership with Peanuts Holland and Bernard Zacharias. There are some great recordings with Bill Coleman and others, including a terrific 1956 session with Emmett Berry. A selection of those would make a good companion to this splendid album.
Dave Gelly


MANISCALCO / BIGONI / SOLBORG
FOIL

Being Kepesh; Day To Day Diplomacy; May Be Simple; Foil; Nisimasa; Ridotto; Cogito Ascorbicum; Low Land; Voices From The Ground I; Voices From The Ground II; In Memoriam (50.31)
Emanuele Maniscalco (p); Francesco Bigoni (ts, cl); Mark Solborg (g). Ridotto Del Teatro Grande, Bresica, Italy, 21 April 2017.
ILK 281

I didn’t hear the group’s debut three years ago, which drew from JJ’s Dave Foxall the description “a masterclass of texture and microtonal subtlety”. I’m not sure how microtonal the music here is but suspect it’s in fact largely on the tempered chromatic scale, allowing for Frisellian, pedal-steel-type wobbles from Solborg and reedy smears. Chromaticism – or, more accurately, atonality – is certainly the order of the day in much of the music (although the first half of May Be Simple suggests a little diatonic see-saw in its backing chords over which saxophone and guitar drape non-tonal subversions).

Tonality apart, mastery of texture and subtlety are not in doubt. This music is evidently approached and played with great care and restraint and in the absence of traditional (shall we say extended diatonic?) harmonic and melodic form and explicit pulse texture – the decision about when and how to interact with your fellows – becomes a major component of the music. Feeding into that care over expression is the precision recording quality and the acoustics of the location – the ridotto (foyer) of the venerable Teatro Grande perhaps became a fourth player as the trio responded to its antique echoes.

Atonal as the music largely is (note that Nisimasa opens with nothing less than A Mixolydian from the piano and wanders off though similar diatonic modes), unlike much atonal work within the jazz orbit it is not without shape. These are compositions, not improvisations, though improvisation plays a part. How much is hard to discern, underlining the skill and empathy of the players in the creation of this haunting, sepulchral episode.
Mark Gilbert


WOODY SHAW
TOKYO 1981

(1) Rosewood; Round Midnight; Apex; From Moment To Moment; Song Of Songs; Theme For Maxine; (2) Sweet Love Of Mine (73.28)
(1) Shaw (t, flh); Steve Turre (tb, pc); Mulgrew Miller (p); Stafford James (b); Tony Reedus (d). Tokyo, Japan, 7 December 1981. (2) Shaw, Dizzy Reece (t); Slide Hampton (tb); Johnny Griffin (ts); Nathan Davis (ts, ss); Kenny Drew (p); Jimmy Woode (b); Billy Brooks (d). The Hague, Holland, 14 July,1985.
Elemental Music 5990429

I first heard Woody Shaw in Paris during the late 1960s when he was often in the company of saxophonist Nathan Davis. Neither musician was well known in the USA at the time, but on the basis of their European recordings, both were soon well established on returning home. Shaw, then, sounded as if his Clifford Brown influence had been filtered through Freddie Hubbard. Later, he blossomed as a more individual stylist and was helped, like so many others, by a stint with the Jazz Messengers.

Apparently Shaw had scant interest in bandleading. He was happiest playing trumpet and composing. However, he made a few stabs at leadership, and the unit captured here, in a newly discovered recording, was perhaps the most compatible, albeit not particularly successful commercially. Shaw struck up an excellent understanding with trombonist Steve Turre, an equally expressive soloist. In Mulgrew Miller the band had a supportive, percussive pianist. James and Reedus were well equipped for this context, very much in the vein of late hard bop.

Shaw didn’t associate much with the new wave or the crossover currents that flowed in the 1970s. His Japanese audience shared Woody’s commitment to the mainstream tradition and enjoyed his spirited performances of four pieces he had written. The set includes a forthright performance of Round Midnight and a dashing delineation of Miller’s Apex, which has a Giant Steps feel about it. The bonus track, from 1985, is by the Paris Reunion Band, chums who had worked together in the 1960s. It is another Shaw tune, given a thorough workout by the septet. Shaw leads the pack with Griffin and Drew also making hay on one of Woody’s most played compositions. Altogether a well-produced package in good sound and with an informative booklet and a fine selection of photographs.
Mark Gardner


THE TRIO
INCANTATION – THE DAWN RECORDINGS 1970-1971

CD1: [The Trio] (1) Oh Dear; Dousing Rod; Silver Cloud; Incantation; Caractacus; Let’s Stand; Foyer Hall; Porte Des Lilas; Veritably; In Between; 6’s And 7’s; Green Walnut (73.46)
CD2: Billie The Kid; Dee Tune; Centering; Joachim; Drum [Conflagration] (2) Conflagration; Malachite; Nuts; 6’s And 7’s; B, Afore The Morrow (73.56)
(1) John Surman (bar, ss); Barre Phillips (b); Stu Martin (d). London, March 1970.
(2) as (1) but add Mike Osborne (as, cl); Alan Skidmore (ss, ts, f); Stan Sulzmann (cl, f); Mark Charig (c); Harry Beckett, Kenny Wheeler (t, flh); Malcolm Griffiths, Nick Evans (tb); Chick Corea, John Taylor (p); Dave Holland (b); John Marshall, (d). London, 1971.
Esoteric 22635

The first of these two albums was voted album of the year in the 1971 Melody Maker jazz polls (British section). Notwithstanding Surman’s two colleagues Barre Phillips and Stu Martin were American, the album qualified as British presumably on the strength of Surman’s status as a leading British player and because both The Trio and Conflagration were recorded in London and released on Dawn Records, a subsidiary of Pye.

The only other Dawn album to qualitatively rank alongside The Trio ones from a jazz perspective was Where Fortune Smiles, featuring Surman, Martin, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland and Karl Berger, recorded in NYC in 1970 and released in 1971. This album could be considered the third part of an early 1970s triptych featuring Surman. Indeed that album plus the two The Trio ones were included on a Surman retrospective box set entitled Glancing Backwards – The Dawn Anthology.

Of the first album, the composing duties were divided between the three protagonists almost equally, but with Phillips marginally taking the lion’s share. The tracks themselves were characterised by incredible dynamics wrought by three musicians performing as an extraordinarily unified entity. A commonality the composers shared was the employment of a riff or bass figure embellishing a track, such as Phillips’s contrapuntally rich Silvercloud over which Surman plays a memorably sprightly soprano melody line. Similarly Stu Martin’s Joachim is dominated by a lugubrious ostinato bass line which burns itself into the listener’s brain.

On Conflagration, the trio is enhanced by a big band, scoring highly on several levels. Stu Martin’s Nuts is a perfect example of tension and release, the final section transmuting into a veritable sonic explosion. This description similarly applies to Surman’s Malachite whose closing three-minute ensemble riff is pivotal. Phillips’s coruscating 6’s And 7’s translates superbly to the larger format from its earlier trio incarnation.

Nearly 50 years on, these two albums remain replete with vibrancy and vitality, both outstanding testaments to this remarkable trio.
Roger Farbey


ALLAN VACHÉ
IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SWING

(1) It Might As Well Be Spring; (2) Poor Butterfly; (1) Time After Time; Cheek To Cheek; Do Nothin’ Til’ You Hear From Me; (2) Air Mail Special; (1) You Took Advantage Of Me; Meditation; Out Of Nowhere; There’s No Greater Love (54.21)
(1) Vaché (cl); Mark McKee (p); Charlie Silva (b); Walt Hubbard (d). Florida, USA, 31 July and 1 August 2017. (2) as (1) add Vanessa Vaché (cl, bcl) and Erin Davis-Guiles (cl).
Arbors 19461

This is Allan Vaché’s fifth recording for Arbors, notable longtime purveyors of new top quality swing and mainstream, as rightly flagged up in JJ 0718. I’ve always enjoyed Allan’s forcefully driving lyricism, with the occasional daring leap into dangerously high register. He plays full respect to the lovely melodies of these classic standards, but does so with feeling and spirit. There’s never any hint of blandness. In this, he’s well served by an excellent rhythm section of familiar musical associates, capable of appealing solo contributions. Allan’s wife Vanessa and ex-student Erin take to the skies in two three-clarinet features arranged by Allan – Poor Butterfly and Air Mail Special. Happily swinging small-group swing then, performed with spirit and obvious enjoyment.
Hugh Rainey


WEB WEB
DANCE OF THE DEMONS

Land Of The Arum Flower; Agowu; Sandia; Dance Of The Demons; Maroc Blues; Safar; Meh Te; Balini; Supereruption (45.11)
Tony Lakatos (ss, ts); Roberto Di Gioia (p, syn, pc); Christian von Kaphengst (b); Peter Gall (d). Plus guest Majid Bekkas (v, gembri, qarqabou). Munich, 2017.
Compost 516

Land Of The Arum Flower rests on a see-sawing two-chord vamp suggestive of Take Five (but in six-eight and raising memories of Van Morrison’s or The Doors’ takes on the jazz groove). The non-idiomatic element here, as throughout the album, is the voice of Moroccan singer (and gembri-player) Majid Bekkas, performing in the Berber style. Agowu brings confirmation of the Coltrane influence intimated in the modalism of track one, not least in the Tynerish piano of Di Gioia. The tune’s a one-chord vamp after Afro Blue, India or similar, with only Bekkas’s voice and the very subtle synthesizer embellishments telling us this is not 1964.

Bekkas adds interesting flavour (though not uniquely) to the Western jazz backdrop and seems a perfect aesthetic fit given the supposed oriental origin of Coltrane’s monochordal drones. The drone moves towards its roots in Sandia, another modal vamp but faster and over an urgent, more eventful African rhythmic pattern, part of the vitality perhaps supplied by Bekkas’s gembri, a three-string, bass-like instrument – unless that is Von Kaphengst working very high and fluently. As elsewhere, Lakatos on tenor seems to draw directly – and perfectly effectively – on Coltrane’s phrases and harmonic sense.

And so the set evolves, the Coltrane vibe coloured with Bekkas’s Berberism; the latter is heard unalloyed in Maroc Blues (not, like so much so-called “desert blues”, a blues or even with blues tonality) with Bekkas performing alone with voice and gembri and bringing clear variety to familiar but skilfully evoked modal jazz terrain.
Mark Gilbert

 


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