Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Various Artists - 2008 Miles from India: "A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis"

Miles from India: A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis is a compilation album by various artists released in April 2008 through Times Square Records.[1] Produced by Bob Belden, the album features songs associated with iconic trumpeter Miles Davis but performed in new arrangements by American jazz musicians and performers from India. The album reached a peak position of number six on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart.

A project sparked by discussion between visionary jazz producer/arranger Bob Belden and label owner Yusuf Gandhi regarding the Indian instrumentation used by Miles Davis on his classic 1972 fusion album On the Corner, Miles from India is devoted to re-imagining Davis’ music by a full ensemble of Indian musicians.

Mastermind behind the seminal Miles Davis reissue series from the Columbia vault, Belden assembled a staggering collection of Davis alumni including Jimmy Cobb, Chick Corea, Ron Carter, John McLaughlin, Gary Bartz, Mike Stern, and David Liebman as well as master Indian musicians Louiz Banks, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rakesh Chaurasia, and Ranjit Barot to perform on the self-titled 2008 Times Square album – a critical and commercial smash that made the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart upon its release. Now, over a year since Belden’s passing, a fresh assemblage of Miles collaborators and major Indian musicians comes together to explore the rich trove of the Miles Davis songbook, from Kind of Blue to Bitches Brew.

It was such a simple concept. Producer Bob Belden (who has directed the Miles Davis reissue series) was talking with Times Square label owner Yusuf Gandhi about Miles' use of Indian instrumentation during The Complete On the Corner Sessions and wondered aloud what it would sound like if Indian musicians played Miles' music. Gandhi replied "Miles from India," and nearly a year later Belden delivered this brilliant set that not only features a number of India's finest musicians but a veritable who's who of Miles' own sidemen. In perhaps the boldest move, Belden and the musicians looked well beyond Miles' 1972-1975 sessions with Indian instruments for inspiration, performing tracks from the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s (the same time span covered by Miles' associates on this album). Another fun thing about these performances is that some of Miles' sidemen play on songs they didn't originally play on -- like the opener, "Spanish Key," featuring Mike Stern and Dave Liebman. But despite some additional Indian percussion and vocalizing, "Spanish Key" doesn't vary much from the original. On the other hand, "All Blues" is completely transformed, with Ravi Chary's sitar taking the place of Miles' trumpet. The Gary Bartz/Rudresh Mahanthappa sax duet on this is a real treat, as are the presence and playing of Jimmy Cobb, who also played on the original 1959 Kind of Blue session. The fast version of "Ife" marks the entrance of monster bass player Michael Henderson and the wonderfully deranged guitar of Pete Cosey, who does not record nearly enough. After the lovely but relatively brief sarod-led "In a Silent Way," it's great to hear Cosey rip it up on "It's About That Time." He's nearly matched in intensity by Bartz's sax and Kala Ramnath's violin while Henderson does his thing with that killer Dave Holland bassline. Stern gets to reprise his role on the classic "Jean Pierre," paired with some great flute from Rakesh Chaurasia.

 Chick Corea appears only on "So What," but turns in a great piano solo with some tasty inside-the-piano work. Like "All Blues," "So What" becomes something else again with the addition of a trio of Indian percussionists and a change in time signature. And while the bassline of "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" doesn't really lend itself to Henderson's signature propulsive style, the percussionists lock in with him, providing a platform for more sick playing from Cosey. "Blue in Green" has Wallace Roney's trumpet singing with Shankar Mahadevan's voice and then sarangi in another sublime transformation. Here, Mike Stern's solo is as gentle as the one on "Jean Pierre" was noisy. Henderson and drummer Vince Wilburn kick it on "Great Expectations," which segues briefly into the introspective "Orange Lady" and back. Chary and Roney both contribute excellent solos and Cosey goes nuts (why doesn't he record more?). Fortunately, he gets plenty more space on the slow version of "Ife," both soloing and comping. The rhythm section of Henderson and Badal Roy on tabla is completely hypnotic here, providing a perfect base for languid solos from Dave Liebman and Gary Bartz and some nice spacy sounds from Cosey and Adam Holzman. The album closes with the only track Miles didn't record: "Miles from India," penned by John McLaughlin for this set. Scored for voice, piano, guitar, and the electric mandolin of U. Srinivas, it's a pensive and atmospheric track that nevertheless features some passionate soloing. And that's merely touching on some of the highlights. Folks like Ron Carter, Marcus Miller, Ndugu Chancler, and Lenny White haven't even been mentioned, let alone some of the great Indian musicians also present here.

The essence of jazz is improvisation and expression, and Miles always sought out highly individual players. The beauty of Miles from India is how the players from different cultures and backgrounds meet on Miles' turf with their individual voices completely intact. Miles from India is not only an amazing celebration of the music of Miles Davis, it's also a tribute to the way Miles and Teo Macero changed the way jazz music can be made. Granted, it's the musicians involved who turn in these scorching performances, but this album was recorded in Mumbai, India, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Saylorsburg, PA (!?), and would not have been possible without the studio techniques Macero pioneered with Miles. Perhaps, like Macero, Bob Belden will be remembered more for his production than his horn playing. Either way, with Miles from India, Belden has outdone himself and delivered a tribute that succeeds completely on every level. Kudos to all involved. [Miles from India is also available as a beautiful 3 LP set.]

Track listing

Disc 1

1. "Spanish Key" - Gino Banks, Louis Banks, Rakesh Chaurasia, Selva Ganesh, Adam Holzman, Dave   Liebman, Shankar Mahadevan, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Sridhar Parthasarthy, Taufiq Qureshi, Benny Rietveld, Wallace Roney, Mike Stern & Lenny White
2. "All Blues" - Louis Banks, Gary Bartz, Ron Carter, Ravi Chary, Jimmy Cobb, Rudresh Mahanthappa & Vikku Vinayakram
3. "Ife (fast)" - Gino Banks, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Dave Liebman, Kala Ramnath, A. Sivamani & Vikku Vinayakram
4. "In a Silent Way (Intro)" - Adam Holzman, Robert Irving III & Pandit Brij Narayan
5. "It's About That Time" - Gary Bartz, Ndugu Chancler, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Robert Irving III & Kala Ramnath
6. "Jean Pierre" - Ranjit Barot, Rakesh Chaurasia, Adam Holzman, Robert Irving III, Benny Rietveld, Mike Stern & Vince Wilburn Jr.

Disc 2

1. "So What" - Louis Banks, Ron Carter, Ndugu Chancler, Chick Corea, Selva Ganesh, Sridhar Parthasarthy & Taufiq Qureshi
2. "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" - Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Wallace Roney, A. Sivamani, Vikku Vinayakram & Lenny White
3. "Blue In Green" - Louis Banks, Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Dilshad Khan, Shankar Mahadevan, Wallace Roney & Mike Stern
4. "Great Expectations (Orange Lady)" - Ravi Chary, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Marcus Miller, Taufiq Qureshi, Wallace Roney, Vince Wilburn Jr. & Vikku Vinayakram
5. "Ife (Slow)" - Gary Bartz, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Dave Liebman, Wallace Roney & Badal Roy
6. "Miles from India" - Louis Banks, Sikkil Gurucharan, John McLaughlin & U. Srinivas

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Joe Henderson Quintet - 1970 [2006] "At the Lighthouse"

Joe Henderson Quintet at the Lighthouse is a live album recorded at the Lighthouse Café, Hermosa Beach, California, between September 24, 1970 and September 26, 1970. Personnel include Woody Shaw on trumpet and flugelhorn, George Cables on electric piano, Ron McClure on acoustic bass (electric bass on track 8 only), and Lenny White on drums. Tony Waters plays congas on tracks 1, 8 and 9 only.

This is a live album from the famous Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach CA. This venue has hosted many live albums over the years by Lee Morgan & Cannonball Adderley to name two of my favorite albums recorded there.
This recording is special in my opinion due to the presence of trumpeter Woody Shaw as Henderson's frontline partner and George Cables on Fender Rhodes EP and acoustic piano. Lenny White on drums is in inspired form.

This music is similar in style and content to the music Freddie Hubbard composed for his Cti album "Red Clay" that Henderson and White played on so its not a big surprise to me to hear him coping Red Clay's sound for his group. The sound if I had to label it would be hard bop with subtle traces of R&B and early fusion especially on the track "If you're not part of the problem you're part of the solution". The group performs several of Henderson's most well known tunes that have become jazz standards & jam session favorites in the many years after this was recorded such as "Blue Bossa", Recorda Me and "The Shade of Jade" If you're a fan of live albums and jazz in general then you should have this album in your collection.

I cut my musical teeth back in the 1960s and 1970s, soaking up the Rock, Pop, and Soul sound of that era, and I didn't hear a lot of jazz growing up. So, I've somewhat belatedly been discovering some of the great jazz artists of the past several decades, and Joe Henderson ranks as one of those that I enjoy very much. I can't really pinpoint what it is about his syle of playing that appeals to me, but it just does. The tone, the mood, the vibe, whatever you want to call, it works for me.

In addition to Henderson, I've also become a fan of Woody Shaw, and both of those great musicians feature prominently on this live recording. And a good, clean recording it is, not even sounding like a typical noisy club show. You can read the other rave reviews for a rundown of the songs and who does what. If you've heard any Joe Henderson albums from this period (this was recorded in 1970) I think you'll dig it.

The CD comes with a booklet that includes the original liner notes written by Orrin Keepnews. It also includes a newer essay about Henderson and this recording, written by Jeff Kaliss for the reissue of the CD in 2004. I love the description of the music in liner notes: "... the dominant mood is effervescent, with the soloists at the tops of their respective games." Indeed, these guys are all in top form. A jazz treat!

If you're new to Joe Henderson, you need to check him out and this is a fine place to start.

I hear his improv style as a blend of Parker (master of changes), Rollins (exploits the tenor range and grabs the unexpected, but right note) and Coltrane (great intensity and lots of notes when he cuts loose.) In other words, he plays lots of well chosen notes, plays very quickly and clearly, has great intensity and can make very musical noise. I think of him as an earthier (more authentic?) sounding Michael Brecker.

On this disk, he covers a lot of stylistic territory. There's a lot of hard bop, bossa nova, some free blowing, modern jazz standards interpretation, even one cut ("If You're Not Part of") that is fusion...this CD is like a jazz sampler playlist all in one.

Regarding the other players, Woody Shaw is fine in the style of Freddie Hubbard. He's a very good match for Joe, so you get a lot of great trumpet at no extra charge.

The rhythm section is very tight. For the most part, Lenny White plays straight ahead drums here (vs. his better known fusion style with Return to Forever.) Ron McClure mostly plays the string bass. He has a very clear and harmonically informed touch. So no worries on the bottom end of the band. (The exception, of course is the "If You're Not Part of" cut where Lenny and Ron funk and Fender out.)

For me the electric piano is a nice touch throughout the CD. It gives the tunes a little of the original Chick Corea/Return to Forever sound (i.e. back when Chick played with Joe Farrell; prior to adopting an electric guitar into the band.) So, if you're worried that this is a dreaded "jazz fusion" album, you can relax.

George Cables is the pianist and he does a fine job when given the opportunity. Unlike Chick on Return to Forever, he's much less intense, which fits his supporting player role.

To wrap up, I can only say that I wish I was in the audience when Joe and co. were blowing the roof off.

I took a few lessons from the late great Joe Henderson in the mid 70's when he resided up north in the San Francisco bay area near Colma. In my opinion, he was one of the best of the post-Coltrane saxophonists along with Wayne Shorter. This set culled from his performances at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, 22 miles from L.A., represent one of his best live performances along with the "Live in Japan" date. The greatly under-rated trumpeter Woody Shaw, George Cables on Rhodes electric keyboard, Ron McClure on bass and Lenny White on drums composed a power house group with some Henderson originals (Isotope, Inner Urge, Recorda-Me) and some of the Blue Note tunes like "Blue Bossa", "Mode for Joe" and standards like "Round Midnight", "Invitation" ( a tune I've heard Joe play many times live and on record). If you're a fan of Joe Henderson or a hard bop buff, do get this one--it smokes!!

 Track listing:

01     Caribbean Fire Dance     5:37
02     Recorda-Me     8:18
03     A Shade Of Jade     10:28
04     Isotope     4:28
05     'Round Midnight     9:02
06     Mode For Joe     8:34
07     Invitation     7:32
08     If You're Not Part Of The Solution, You're Part Of The Problem     11:29
09     Blue Bossa     9:43
10     Closing Theme     0:47


Saxophone – Joe Henderson
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Woody Shaw
Bass – Ron McClure
Congas – Tony Waters (tracks: 1, 8, 9)
Drums – Lenny White
Electric Bass – Ron McClure (tracks: 8)
Electric Piano – George Cables

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Frank Zappa - 1971 [1997] "200 Motels"

The 200 Motels soundtrack to Frank Zappa's film 200 Motels was released by United Artists Records in 1971. Like the film, the album covers a loose storyline about The Mothers of Invention going crazy in the small town of Centerville and bassist Jeff quitting the group, as did his real life counterpart, Jeff Simmons, who left the group before the film began shooting and was replaced by actor Martin Lickert for the film.

The soundtrack to Frank Zappa's strange early-'70s film 200 Motels was always doomed to be a peripheral entry in his discography. The movie's story was not easy to follow, and neither is the record (not that plot was ever a big focus of the production). It's typically wacky Zappa of the era, with unpredictable sharp turns between crunchy rock bombast, orchestration, and jazz/classical influences, as well as interjections of wacky spoken dialogue. Those who like his late-'60s/early-'70s work -- not as song-oriented as his first albums, in other words, but not as "serious" or as silly as his later records -- will probably like this fine, although it's not up to the level of Uncle Meat. It's funny in spots as well, especially the part where a disgruntled sideman gets tempted away from the band to do his own thing (a libretto that was, apparently, based on real-life incidents concerning Zappa sideman Jeff Simmons, who left during the project). On the other hand, there's a growing tendency to deploy the smutty, cheap humor that would soon dominate much of Zappa's work.

Typically zany Zappa for the period. If you're looking for serious rock, like Overnight Sensation or Apostrophe, this isn't for you. While it has some good rock numbers, they are far too few and far between and don't last long enough for my taste. However, if you liked the film, you will enjoy the album. For me, it brings back fond memories of watching the film in a small college auditorium with a great sound system, stoned on my ass.

The album peaked at No. 59 on the Billboard 200, though reviewers deemed it a peripheral part of Zappa's catalog.

 Track listing:

CD 1
1-1     Semi-Fraudulent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture     1:59
1-2     Mystery Roach     2:32
1-3     Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers     0:48
1-4     This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Prologue)     0:55
1-5     Tuna Fish Promenade     2:29
1-6     Dance Of The Just Plain Folks     4:40
1-7     This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Reprise)     0:58
1-8     The Sealed Tuna Bolero     1:40
1-9     Lonesome Cowboy Burt     3:59
1-10     Touring Can Make You Crazy     2:52
1-11     Would You Like A Snack?     1:23
1-12     Redneck Eats     3:02
1-13     Centerville     2:31
1-14     She Painted Up Her Face     1:41
1-15     Janet's Big Dance Number     1:18
1-16     Half A Dozen Provocative Squats     1:57
1-17     Mysterioso     0:48
1-18     Shove It Right In     2:32
1-19     Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude     4:01

CD 2
2-1     I'm Stealing The Towels     2:14
2-2     Dental Hygiene Dilemma     5:11
2-3     Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You?     2:59
2-4     Daddy, Daddy, Daddy     3:11
2-5     Penis Dimension     4:37
2-6     What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning     3:32
2-7     A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes     1:08
2-8     Magic Fingers     3:53
2-9     Motorhead's Midnight Ranch     1:28
2-10     Dew On The Newts We Got     1:09
2-11     The Lad Searches The Night For His Newts     0:41
2-12     The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth     1:10
2-13     The Girl's Dream     0:54
2-14     Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Courduroy Ponce     1:00
2-15     Strictly Genteel (The Finale)     11:10
    Bonus Tracks
2-16     CUT1 "Coming Soon!..."     0:56
2-17     CUT2 "The Wide Screen Erupts..."     0:57
2-18     CUT3 "Coming Soon!..."     0:31
2-19     CUT4 "Frank Zappa's 200 Motels..."     0:11
2-20     Magic Fingers (Single Edit)     2:57


    Frank Zappa – bass guitar, guitar, drums, producer, orchestration
    George Duke – trombone, keyboards
    Ian Underwood – keyboards, woodwinds
    Big Jim Sullivan - guitar, orchestration
    Martin Lickert – bass guitar
    Aynsley Dunbar – drums
    Ruth Underwood – percussion
    Jimmy Carl Black – vocals
    Howard Kaylan – vocals
    Jim Pons – voices
    Mark Volman – vocals, photography
    Theodore Bikel – narrator
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Monday, June 1, 2020

Jack Dejohnette - 2006 "Golden Beams Collected 1"

While jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette's illustrious career has been marked by great recordings and collaborations for a variety of labels, many facets of his musical life were never represented on disc until the launch of his imprint, Golden Beams Productions in spring 2005. A jazz master with a background rich in diversity, DeJohnette often looks outside the borders of jazz when selecting a collaborator, composing a piece or beginning a recording. "Golden Beams Collected, Volume 1" will highlight the artist's work in a broad range of areas - African, Brazilian, electronic, drum & bass, and meditation music - all informed by the creativity and superb musicianship of what the New York Times' Ben Ratliff calls "one of the most important musicians in the last 40 years of jazz."

Songs / Tracks Listing

1     –Jack DeJohnette     The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers... (Excerpt)     6:50
2     –Jack DeJohnette / Foday Musa Suso     Ocean Wave     6:24
3     –The Ripple Effect     Worldwide Funk (DJ Logic Remix)     5:05
4     –Jack DeJohnette     Cat & Mouse     2:21
5     –Jack DeJohnette / Don Alias     Song For The Rainforest     6:41
6     –The Ripple Effect     Na Na Nai (Radio Edit)     4:16
7     –Jack DeJohnette     Music In The Key Of Om (Excerpt)     6:09
8     –The Ripple Effect     Dubwise (Horn Mix)     5:33
9     –The Ripple Effect     Worldwide Funk (Club Mix)     5:34

Friday, May 29, 2020

Richard Hallebeek - 2012 RHP II - "Pain In The Jazz"

RHPII – A superb jazz rock cd with 8 of the hottest players you can find in fusion, rock and blues today: Andy Timmons, Eric Gales, Guthrie Govan, Alex Machacek, Kiko Loureiro, Jose de Castro, Randy Brecker and Greg Howe. The Richard Hallebeek Project II, or RHPII, is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2004 release ‘RHP’ that was released on Liquid Note Records. While RHP featured the late legendary Shawn Lane and virtuoso Brett Garsed as special guests, RHPII goes even further by adding a total of 8 guests, who are all household names in fusion and rock, to the already impressive lineup with Lalle Larsson-keys, Sebastiaan Cornelissen-drums and Frans Vollink-Bass. Amsterdam-based Richard Hallebeek is well know for his legato fusion guitar playing, by many described as floating somewhere between the best of early Scott Henderson, the fluidity of Allan Holdsworth and the pentatonic and chromatic craziness of Shawn Lane, but all melted together with his own unique twist.

RHPII is a rock/fusion album with 10 ‘real’ compositions (no bandjams) coming from all 4 bandmembers. All songs were written with the special guest who features on that song in mind, sometimes putting the guest in their comfort zone, sometimes a bit outside on purpose, but all done with respect for the player. This leads to some intriguing and already classic moments on RHPII. The opening track ‘’Wristkiller that starts with a syncopated theme has Richard open the first solo to display some of his blazing trademark lines through a set of quick changes, and his solo is seamlessly taken over by Alex Machacek (who recently subbed for Allan Holdsworth for the UK reunion) who takes those lines even further. The heavy prog-rock riffing on ‘Bring It On’ has Richard trading solos with Guthrie Govan and both end together in a diminished flurry where the notes from both players melt together. The blues waltz ‘Think Of Someting’, that is drenched in Lalle’s tasty organ playing, has ‘the tone master from Texas’ Andy Timmons play one of his most lyrical solo to date. RHPII features memorable songs and besides that, has more then enough tasty and over the top guitar playing to undoubtly satisfy the biggest guitarfans and jazz-rock music lovers out there.

One of the best Jazz Fusion albums to come out in recent years...Richard Hallebeek is an amazing musician,composer and a very accomplished guitar player.

 Track listing:

01     Wristkiller (with Alex Machacek)    5:19
02     Third Phase (with Jose de Castro)    10:08
03     Bring It On (with Guthrie Govan)    7:02
04     Pain In The Jazz (with Eric Gales)    5:44
05     People     9:14
06     Speed City Blues (with Kiko Loureiro)    7:56
07     Amelia (with Randy Brecker)    5:06
08     Think Of Something (with Andy Timmons)    5:28
09     East Side Bridge (with Greg Howe)    9:17
10     New World     1:46


Richard Hallebeek, Alex Machacek, Guthrie Govan, Eric Gales, Andy Timmons, Greg Howe, Jose de Castro, Kiko Loureiro – Guitars
Randy Brecker - Trumpet
Lalle Larsson – Keys
Frans Vollink – Bass
Sebastiaan Cornelissen – Drums

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sebastiaan Cornelissen - 2005 "One Spirit"

Great playing from our friends in the Netherlands!

Track listing:

1) Me And Freddie
2) Straight
3) Official Noisemaker
4) Bramcote Road
5) Face To Face
6) What’s In Store
7) Wrong Format
8) One Spirit
9) Dirty Gilly
10) Wise Man From The East
11) Suse’s Song


Randy Brecker, Gerard Presencer – Trumpet
Rob van Bavel - Fender Rhodes
Susan Weinert - Guitars
Richard hallebeek - Guitars
Sebastiaan Cornelissen - Drums
Frans Vollink - Bass
Lale larson - Keyboards
Martin Verdonk - Percussion

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Vinnie Colaiuta - 1994 "Vinnie Colaiuta"

Long-revered session drummer Vinnie Colaiuta jets to fusion's version of The Twilight Zone on his Stretch Records debut, a multi-influential, hardcore player's fiesta rife with moody effects, monster expressions by all his high-powered pals, and decadent experimentation. So, is that good or bad? Depends on your perspective. From a purely artistic point of view, if your listening palette can handle rambling but iron-fisted nuclear power and intrusive samples, then it's a fantastic look into another realm. If organization and focused craft is an issue, if melody is king, it will drive you insane while still provoking you. To focus on the positive aspects: Colaiuta's amazing as an all-around percussionist, serving up a hip-hop, blues atmospheres, even a wailing dance cut ("Momoska"). The guest list, from John Patitucci to Herbie Hancock to Sting, contributes ear-popping extravagance. Michael Landau strokes his strings like an alien comet from Krypton. And the leader even shows a softer side ("Darlene's Song"). Overall, intriguing, though more fun for the musicians involved than for the listener.

One of the best drummers of all time, Vinnie's compositions and playing on this CD are outstanding. It's a drummer led CD, but all the players here shine. I would have enjoyed this CD more if there was a long Vinnie solo, but he does no dominate the performances.

Vinnie has always been an inspiration to me, so I decided to buy his album. It was great! He has some really wacked out fusion! Buy this!! Especially if you're a fan of Vinnie or just Jazz Fusion!!

I bought this CD waaay back when it was released and studied it intently as a drummer/musician. What I came away with was a new sense of how time can be applied to music. Vinnie, is the only cat that I have heard that can play behind, ahead or right on top of the beat with metronomic precision while still making the groove *feel* good. This is a monumental achievement and I think one of the most important things to consider while listening. There are alot of very subtle things going on within this album. As a drummer, I will say that you may not be able to fully grasp some of them unless you have put in some serious hours with a metronome. But you'll feel it and be bobbing your head or tapping your foot just the same. Achieving machine like alignment with a metronome is only the 1st step. You gotta then figure out how to make it feel good and that ain't easy...Vinnie has done it.

Of course, Vinnie has incredible chops and an inhuman command of odd time signatures and you can hear just how comfortable and relaxed he is with these. The word "finesse" comes to mind.

I admire that Vinnie created an album of excellent music with some amazing drumming instead of another Super Chops-Volume 3. It shows his maturity as a composer and overall musician. The *music* on the this record is really good and enjoyable to listen to. Those reviews that say was is holding back are correct. And thank the heavens he did.

P.S.The recording and production/mixing/mastering are also very high quality and still hold up over 15 years later. The CD is a good reference point if you are an audio engineer-

Vinnie Colaiuta's self-titled album was recommended to me by a friend who was a mutual Frank Zappa zealot - of course, that's where I heard Colaiuta's work originally. Upon first listen, I was quite apathetic to the majority of the album; however, my disinterest quickly subsided after subsequent listens. It's one of those albums that grows on you, like many of the late Frank Zappa's - whose influence is apparent on this album. Additionally, this album features an array of guest performers, including some of whom Vinnie Colaitua has played with before, including: Sting, Chick Corea, John Patitucci, Herbie Hancock et al. A well-constructed and highly recommended album!

Track listing

1     I'm Tweeked / Attack Of The 20lb Pizza     6:22
2     Private Earthquake : Error 7     7:23
3     Chauncey     9:39
4     John's Blues     5:25
5     Slink     5:57
6     Darlene's Song     5:41
7     Momoska (Dub Mix)     8:04
8     Bruce Lee     6:01
9     If One Was One     3:26


    Drums, Keyboards, Percussion, Programmed By, Liner Notes – Vinnie Colaiuta
    Acoustic Bass – John Patitucci (tracks: 6)
    Bass – Neil Stubenhaus (tracks: 1, 8, 9), Pino Palladino (tracks: 2), Sal Monilla (tracks: 7), Sting (tracks: 3), Tim Landers (tracks: 5)
    Guitar – Dominic Miller (tracks: 3, 4, 6), Michael Landau (tracks: 1, 8, 9), Mike Miller (7) (tracks: 4-6)
    Organ – David Sancious (tracks: 2)
    Percussion – Bert Karl (tracks: 7)
    Piano – Chick Corea (tracks: 6)
    Piano, Soloist – Herbie Hancock (tracks: 7)
    Synthesizer, Electric Piano – David Goldblatt (tracks: 4, 5)
    Tenor Saxophone – Steve Tavaglione (tracks: 2 to 7)
    Trombone – Ron Moss (tracks: 8)
    Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Jeff Beal (tracks: 4, 6)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Jaco Pastorius - 2017 "Truth, Liberty & Soul" - Live In NYC 1982

In the summer of 1982, Jaco Pastorius had just left Weather Report, and he was widely known as the best electric bassist in the world. He had a new large ensemble, the Word of Mouth Big Band (named after the 1981 Pastorius album that provided much of its repertoire). Collecting some of the best young figures in jazz and fusion, the group was a startling reminder of how broad Pastorius’ talents were: He was able to arrange his bubbling jazz-funk on a grand scale, using a rather traditional jazz band format (well, plus steel pan). “Truth, Liberty and Soul” comes from the band’s performance at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, during the Kool Jazz Festival that year. Some highlights don’t involve the full 22-piece band at all: Pastorius’s long, Hendrix-quoting solo on “Bass and Drum Improvisation”; and his duet with the harmonica player Toots Thielemans on Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady.”

In his short life, Jaco Pastorius revolutionised the bass guitar, and lifted the music of key jazz-fusioneers Pat Metheny and Weather Report in the 1970s – but his ambition was to form a big band. This previously unreleased live set captures a blistering two-hour gig from Pastorius’s soulful, swinging and very full-on Word of Mouth orchestra in 1982, with saxophonist Bob Mintzer, trumpeter Randy Brecker and harmonica maestro Toots Thielemans in the ranks. The riff-shouting, soul-jazzy Pastorius standby The Chicken is constantly stung by the leader’s springy, ever-changing basslines, the fast Charlie Parker bebop classic Donna Lee is implausibly and audaciously unfolded as a unison bass and tuba theme, Three Views of a Secret sets a lyrical Thielemans free over floating Gil Evans-like harmonies, the world-music of the slithery, simmering Reza turns into Coltrane’s Giant Steps, and three drummers including Peter Erskine and Don Alias are explosive and remarkably melodic by turns. This exhilarating set is a real find, for Jaco fans and left-field big-band followers alike.

Sonically, Truth, Liberty & Soul is also, hands down, the best-sounding Word of Mouth recording ever...and that includes the original (and not at all shabby-sounding) live albums Invitation (Warner Bros., 1983), the expanded two-volume, Japanese-only release of the full concert from which Invitation was culled (1999's Twins I & II: Live in Japan, from Warners Japan), and the posthumous 1995 release of The Birthday Concert (Warner Bros.), the first live performance of a series of big band charts that would go on to become the core repertoire of the Word of Mouth Big Band, recorded at the bassist's 30th birthday party in Fort Lauderdale, FL. This is music that literally leaps out of the speakers to fill the room, whether it's funkified soul; swinging, bop-informed improvisational forays; free improvisation passages of remarkable group synchronicity; beautiful, elegantly composed ballads; or contrastingly refined and thrilling looks at not just jazz chestnuts, but one reggae tune and, during Pastorius' shared "Bass and Drums Improvisation" with Erskine, references to Jimi Hendrix, the American National Anthem.

It’s curious that we don’t more directly associate electric jazz bass playing with Latin rhythms, given that the greatest practitioner on the instrument featured them so centrally in his sound. This newly unearthed document is a key sonic case in point. Here we have Jaco Pastorius with his Word of Mouth Big Band, live at NYC’s Avery Fisher Hall in the summer of 1982 for George Wein’s Kool Jazz Festival, regaling listeners with 130 minutes of music in which his ever-virtuosic bass work is neatly folded into a larger group dynamic. (The set is available as a three-LP box, two-CD package and digital download, including a 100-page book with contributions by Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, biographer Bill Milkowski and others.)

That this was an NPR recording means the sound is impeccable, no small detail in appreciating the full tonal display of Pastorius’ lines. On the opening “Invitation”—which functions as a musical epistle/beckoning to a damn good time—his notes are tightly clustered, like buzzy, motivic spirals that serve as fillips for the piece. Bob Mintzer’s tenor saxophone provides a lot of the solo-based forward motion, but it’s the Latin inflection—courtesy of Othello Molineaux’s steel drums—that makes this feel like work born of tropical climes and the jazz of New Orleans in all its wonderfully bonhomous hoodoo.

Pastorius never dominates, instead serving as facilitator for an ensemble of expert personnel like the bassist’s fellow Weather Report alumni Peter Erskine on drums and Don Alias on percussion, saxophonists Mintzer, Frank Wess and Howard Johnson and trumpeters Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff and Jon Faddis. Even when the leader solos and his bass becomes guitar-like, with a hint of trumpet and piano, he’s always in control, always economical. If his notes were drops of water they’d never overfill the bowl.

“Donna Lee” is a first-half highlight, the kettledrums contrasting with a Sun Ra-esque futuristic vibe in the refrains. “Soul Intro/The Chicken” features a fanfare straight from a 1980s late-night talk show as its intro, before the titular bird leaps into the fray to jitterbug. This is one brassy strut, a proper comfort-food piece, with a high feel-good quotient. Brecker plays his hindquarters off, ascending to Freddie Hubbard heights of hard-bop glory, but with the underpinning of a samba. Toots Thielemans turns up on harmonica on several numbers, but his contributions have mixed results. He’s more effective when he accompanies rather than spars, for this is Ellingtonian music—and a showcase for Pastorius the bandleader, the shaper of a series of jazz tone poems with symphonic qualities.

“Reza/Giants Steps” is akin to an electric bass concerto, something like those moments in Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet when Tony Williams would simmer at his kit, keeping the music below a boil, his mates exploring the space around him. So it goes with Pastorius here, his fingers moving so fast you wonder if anyone could possibly transcribe this. It’s a bit like wondering how to take the temperature of a star. Better to just luxuriate in the light.

Newly-released live recording which documents a June 27, 1982 concert at Avery Fisher Hall (complete with a 100-page book). The performance was part of George Wein’s Kool Jazz Festival and a large portion was broadcast on National Public Radio’s Jazz Alive!, a program produced by Tim Owens and hosted by Dr. Billy Taylor that ran from 1977 to 1983. Owens and Zev Feldman of Resonance uncovered 40 minutes that weren’t played during the NPR show, and have released the entire 130-minute concert in its entirety with the help of Grammy-winning engineer Paul Blakemore, who worked the original performance at Lincoln Center.

Track listing:

CD 1
1. Invitation (13:04)
2. Soul Intro/The Chicken (9:10)
3. Donna Lee (13:18)
4. Three Views to a Secret (6:38)
5. Liberty City (10:10)
6. Sophisticated Lady (7:43)
7. Bluesette (5:31)

CD 2
1. I Shot the Sheriff (6:55)
2. Okonkolé y Trompa (15:07)
3. Reza/Giant Steps (Medley) (10:19)
4. Mr. Fonebone (10:37)
5. Bass and Drum Improvisation (14:05)
6. Twins (2:53)
7. Fannie Mae (5:55)


    Bass, Vocals – Jaco Pastorius
    Alto Saxophone – Bob Stein (4)
    Baritone Saxophone – Howard Johnson (3), Randy Emerick   
    Drums – Peter Erskine
    French Horn – John Clark (2), Peter Gordon (8)
    Harmonica [Special Guest] – Toots Thielemans (tracks: 1-4 to 2-1, 2-4, 2-7)
    Percussion – Don Alias
    Steel Drums – Othello Molineaux
    Tenor Saxophone – Frank Wess, Lou Marini
    Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Bob Mintzer
    Trombone – David Taylor, Jim Pugh, Wayne Andre
    Trumpet – Alan Rubin, Jon Faddis, Kenny Faulk*, Lew Soloff, Randy Brecker, Ron Tooley
    Tuba – David Bargeron*

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Karizma - 2000 [2001] "Document"

Recorded live on tour in Europe, this CD captures the fiery creativity of a truly great band and demonstrates why each of these musicians holds a place among the most in-demand players in the world. Every song features soloing and ensemble playing of the very highest order and includes come of Vinnie's most explosive performances.

L.A. session great David Garfield formed Karizma as a creative outlet in 1979. The group released four studio recordings that were mostly popular in fusion hotbeds, such as Europe and Japan, and very difficult to find in the States. This live recording reunites Garfield with original guitarist Michael Landau, former member Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), and fusion veteran Neil Stubenhaus (bass). The energetic selections are a balance of original material and cover tunes, including Weather Report's "Palladium" and Don Grolnick's "Nothing Personal," and all are played with their trademark fervor. Guitarist Landau's sonic explorations are a nice counterpoint to Colaiuta's acrobatic drumming, while Garfield shifts from style to style with ease. While not intended to be a drum-centric recording, Colaiuta dominates the performances and proves why he has such a legendary reputation. Fusion fans and drummers are encouraged to indulge in the not-so-guilty pleasures offered by Karizma.

The first thing I need to clarify about this disc is that if you're not a musician, you probably won't care for this recording. If you are, however, reams of unparallelled chops and gobs of searing solos await your ears upon hearing these cats BURN. For the record, Karizma consists of drumming legend Vinnie Colaiuta, keys whiz David Garfield, bass monster Neil Stubenhaus, and guitarist extrordonairre Michael Landau. This disc was recorded live in Germany and Denmark.

As a guitarist, I've always held L.A. session ace Mike Landau in that inner circle of deity-status guitarists along with Larry Carlton, Steve Lukather, Steve Morse, etc. The problem has always been that I could never find a live recording on which he didn't always play reserved and "for the song" ; I wanted to hear him let loose! Well, fear not, fellow axemeisters, for it is a great day in the history of guitar. Not only is this a great collection of fusionesque rock tunes, but Landau solos with absolutely no holds barred for about a third of each song! I'd write more, but if you're into Landau's (or Colaiuta's, or Stubenhaus's, or Garfield's) playing like I am, you're already ordering this phenomenal disc. An absolute must for musicians or just thinking adults who can appreciate some of the best players in the world coming together and playing as one. Crank it up.

The grooves Vinnie. A great album and a blast from the past - but, this album has it all. It covers a wide range of tracks and musical styles - its layering and complexity are second to none. A great listen. Since purchasing Ive listened to it about 10 times in 3 days. Awesome work. Landau on guitars also provides a lot of oomph - especially in the2nd half of the album when he 'Hendrix's up'. A great rock fushion masterpiece for its time,

"Many will consider this to be his best live fusion recording to date. Vinnie takes each style to new heights." -- Modern Drummer Magazine, June 2001

Track listing:

1     Heavy Resin     11:30
2     Aliens (Ripped My Face Off)     14:03
3     Palladium     7:32
4     Johnny Swing     9:41
5     Nothing Personal     8:44
6     E Minor Shuffle     12:15


    Bass – Neil Stubenhaus
    Drums – Vinnie Colaiuta
    Guitar – Michael Landau
    Keyboards – David Garfield

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Larry Coryell - 2013 "The Lift"

Larry Coryell's name isn t bandied around much now, but in the 1970s he was almost as big a guitar star as John McLaughlin, and an equivalent influence on the development of early electric jazz-rock fusion ... Coryell s crackling uptempo bursts and engagingly rough-hewn energy give this familiar music a vividness and infectious enthusiasm. THE GUARDIAN/p> You don t even have to be a fan of his or a guitar aficionado to dig this disc; anyone who likes that old school funky rock-jazz with a few delectable diversions will find a lot to like about it. The old Larry Coryell, the Father of Fusion Guitar, is back. --Something Else!

Though he’s since built up equally impressive credentials as a post-bop guitarist, Coryell’s been in a fusion state of mind lately. He’s going to turn 70 next month but shows not even a trace of slowing down. If anything, he’s been revitalized on his Wide Hive records and his third one for the label is as raw and energetic as anything he’s done in a studio for decades. The Lift, as this latest one is called, scales back from the large, horn-laden backing band he used on 2011’s righteous Larry Coryell With The Wide Hive Players down to mostly just a tidy electric guitar/electric bass/drums unit. Matt Montgomery (bass) and Lumpy (drums) are the only other musicians present on the album, save for Chester Smith and his organ on three cuts.

The performances here are raw, a natural outcome from these being single take recordings, and the warm, vintage analog sound captured by record label founder Gregory Howe. Even more credit for that rough-and-ready sound goes to Coryell himself, whose delightfully dirty tone and broken notes are his trademark, and it’s even more ragged on The Lift.

These dozen tracks are essentially concise jams but each brings some kind of unique twist. “Going Up” utilizes an odd time signature (at one point, Lumpy slips in a 4/4 beat while Coryell continues to play the odd meter and somehow it still fits). The 9/8 strut of “Rough Cut” frames Coryell’s circular riff, as Smith improvises over that. The groove on “The Lift” is a lighter, jazzier one while the one on “Lafayette” is rubbery, “Wild Rye” is a straight rocker and “Stadium Wave” boasts a Latin flavor. Coryell plays the blues in his own way, too: “Arena Blues” is heavily psychedelic, his fuzzy notes bouncing off the walls of the studio, while “Broken Blues” rocks hard against a jazz swing beat.

Liberally alternating between fully chorded attacks and single-line barrages, Coryell is lick machine on The Lift, sounding much closer to that twenty-four year old spring chicken than a guy about to enter his eighth decade on earth. The Lift could have been a time capsule from forty years plus ago opened up to demonstrate how Coryell used to sound like. But it isn’t; the original fusion guitarist remains as sharp and energetic today as he ever did. And you best believe this ol’ guy can still rock his ass off.

The Wide Hive player recordings are, in my opinion, fantastically fun Coryell. This one is no exception. This isn't Eleventh House or Village Gate, but it's great Coryell. Another Coryell you won't regret picking up. I think Jean was confused thinking this was Barry Coryell, the famous Swiss yodeler.

Coryell's "The Lift", release is his best work in a long time. Finally putting out a fusion album that sounds fresh and exciting, that gets better with each listen. Unlike the other two Hive releases that were straight jazz, that can get tedious at times, this is a welcomed release.

Coryell plugging in and getting nasty... it reminds me of his Vanguard recordings like Live at the Village Gate. Highly recommended!

This guy is over 70 now and still blows away most guitarists playing today. Jazz/rock fusion at it's most rocking! Great songs and amazing playing by the whole group Larry has put together.

Fantastic jazz fusion album. I just wish it was a little longer. Reminds me of the approach the Ginger Baker Trio took twenty years ago. Highly recommended.

So good to hear Coryell getting back to his fusion roots. Some true power, mixed with funk, and some outstanding acoustic work.

Track listing:

01     Going Up     3:32
02     Arena Blues     6:52
03     The Lift     4:49
04     Lafayette     3:33
05     Clear Skies     3:49
06     Rough Cut     3:59
07     Alternative Recollection     4:58
08     Broken Blues     3:20
09     Counterweight     3:49
10     Stadium Wave     5:18
11     Wild Rye     4:04
12     First Day Of Autumn     3:50


    Guitar – Larry Coryell
    Bass – Matt Montgomery
    Drums – Lumpy   
    Organ – Chester Smith (3

Various Artists - 1999 "Milestones" - The Jazz Giants Play Miles Davis

This entry in the Jazz Giants series finds a host of the genre's biggest names interpreting a batch of Miles Davis tunes with nice results. Most everything from the song list comes from the bluesy side of the Davis catalog, kicking off with a reflective, highly swinging take on "Vierd Blues" with nice solos from Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass. Dexter Gordon brings back a tune from bop's 1940s heyday, an alternate take of "Milestones," a track that also features nice work from Freddie Hubbard doubling on trumpet and flugelhorn. Sonny Stitt and Grant Green add fireworks to "Tune Up," Bill Evans turns in a sprawling version of "So What," and Chet Baker contributes an atmospheric take on Davis' "Solar."

Keeping true to the sobriquet "jazz giants," this collection features stellar performances from Wes Montgomery, Hampton Hawes, Shelly Manne, Ray Brown, Don Ellis, Eric Dolphy, Phineas Newborn Jr., Ray Bryant, Philly Joe Jones, and Ron Affif, along with two tracks featuring Davis himself in the company of Charlie Parker (in a rare appearance on tenor sax): "Compulsion" and "The Serpent's Tooth." Like the other entries in this series, this is top-flight jazz played by the best, honoring one of the true trailblazers of the music -- a winning combination every note of the way.

 Track listing / Artists

01     –Oscar Peterson     Vierd Blues     6:42
02     –Dexter Gordon     Milestones (Alternate)     7:09
03     –Bill Evans     So What     6:47
04     –Sonny Stitt     Tune-Up     4:24
05     –Chet Baker     Solar     5:49
06     –Hampton Hawes     Blue In Green     5:25
07     –Wes Montgomery     Freddie Freeloader     5:14
08     –Don Ellis     Nardis     4:34
09     –Miles Davis     Compulsion     5:43
10     –Phineas Newborn Jr.     Four     4:53
11     –Miles Davis     The Serpent's Tooth (Take 1)     7:00
12     –Ray Bryant     All Blues     8:24
13     –Ron Affif     Seven Steps To Heaven     3:02

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Miles Davis - 2013 "Live in Europe 1969 - The Bootleg Series" Vol. 2

Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 is a 3 CD + 1 DVD live album of the Miles Davis Quintet featuring saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The CDs contain recordings of two concerts in France and one in Sweden and the DVD has an additional concert recorded in Germany.

The first two discs were recorded at the Festival Mondial du Jazz d'Antibes, La Pinède in Juan-les-Pins, France, on July 25 & 26, 1969 with the first concert originally released in Japan in 1993 as 1969 Miles Festiva De Juan Pins. The third disc contains the concert from November 5, 1969 at the Folkets Hus, Stockholm. The DVD was recorded in West Germany on 7 November 1969 at the Berliner Jazztage in the Berlin Philharmonic.

The sets include songs that had been jazz standards for several decades on, material from Davis' hard bop late 1950s and early 1960s period, material from his second great quintet and Miles Runs the Voodoo Down, a fusion composition that his band did not record until four weeks later, on the Bitches Brew album. The last two disks were recorded after Bitches Brew and include that album's title track.

This new set is the first collection of Miles’s Third Great Quintet, the “Lost” Band of 1968-1970 with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette at their peak (they were never recorded in the studio). The album captures the short-lived quintet in three separate concert settings, starting with two full-length (one hour-plus) sets at the Antibes Jazz Festival in France, in Stockholm as part of “The Newport Jazz Festival In Europe,” and completed with a stunning 46-minute performance at the Berlin Philharmonie, filmed in color.

The first volume Legacy’s Miles Davis bootleg series offered audio and video evidence of his second great quintet playing the Newport Jazz Festival in Europe in 1967. Acclaim from critics and fans was universal. This second entry, Live in Europe 1969: Bootleg Series, Vol. 2, showcases almost an entirely different band -- only saxophonist Wayne Shorter remains. Bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and pianist Chick Corea made up Davis' road band, and other individuals participated in sessions for Filles de Kilimanjaro and In a Silent Way. But this quintet was never recorded as a lone studio group, making this the first officially released music from the monster "third quintet." Three discs and a DVD offer four concerts: two from Antibes and one from Stockholm are on audio discs, while a performance from Berlin is on video.

The set lists vary but offer something remarkable as a whole: The only period where Davis played music from his bebop, hard bop, modal, and electric eras on one tour. In Antibes, "Directions" opens at a furious tempo with freewheeling solos from Davis and Shorter. It morphs into "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," featuring an aggressive Holland bassline and DeJohnette's machine gun drums. There is a completely re-envisioned "Milestones" that materializes from the bass solo. Shorter and Davis play with a muscular, intense, communicative freedom that reaches its creative peak here. The rhythm section, emboldened by the front line, is wildly inventive. Corea plays an exceptionally large role.

By 1969, Davis was using not only electric guitar in the studio, but often multiple keyboard players simultaneously. Corea is everywhere as a rhythmic and harmonic counterpart, and as a visionary soloist. His chord voicings on "'Round Midnight" move from skeletal to maximal as the tune is thoroughly reinvented from its spare melody into a nearly funky modal jam with him leading the way. Highlights from the second Antibes gig include a blistering "Spanish Key," driven by Holland and DeJohnette, followed by a brief, lyrical "I Fall in Love Too Easily," preceding an angular, exciting "Masqualero," with fiery interaction between Shorter and Corea. "No Blues," a band solo showcase, gives way to a nearly shimmering swing in "Nefertiti" that unmakes itself after Shorter's solo, eventually gathering steam for a galloping group exchange before shifting to more relaxed pacing, then re-energizing along different harmonic lines.

In Stockholm, the 14-minute "Bitches Brew" is revealed to be still evolving; harmonic and rhythmic ideas are thrown into the mix minute-by-minute. "Paraphernalia" is almost free jazz. Davis' solo on set-closer "This," is risky and physically strident. The DVD offers a gorgeous, color, multi-camera shoot, with terrific sound. The band's intuitive, concentrated interaction is mesmerizing to watch. Seeing and hearing them move seamlessly -- even dramatically -- through "It's About That Time"/"I Fall in Love Too Easily"/"Sanctuary" reveals Davis' in the present viewing the past as a gateway to his musical future. It's obvious here that he freely embraced the sonic, textural, and timbral possibilities that electricity offered him in creating a more open, in-the-moment, music. Live in Europe, 1969 makes obvious that on this tour, Davis' creative vision was holistic and completely assured. These fire-breathing performances offer a band at fever pitch hearing and playing what they knew even then was a new chapter in jazz history.

"It was really a bad motherfucker," Miles Davis wrote in his autobiography of the live band he led in 1969.

Track listing

Disc One: July 25, 1969 at the Jazz à Juan festival, La Pinède in Juan-les-Pins.
1.    "Introduction by André Francis"         0:27
2.    "Directions"    Joe Zawinul    6:00
3.    "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down"    Miles Davis    9:17
4.    "Milestones"    Miles Davis    13:45
5.    "Footprints"    Wayne Shorter    11:44
6.    "Round Midnight"    Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams, Bernie Hanighen    8:51
7.    "It's About That Time"    Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis    9:30
8.    "Sanctuary"    Wayne Shorter    4:15
9.    "The Theme"    Miles Davis    0:53
Total length:    1:05:42

Disc Two: July 26, 1969 at the Jazz à Juan festival, La Pinède in Juan-les-Pins.
1.    "Introduction by André Francis"         0:26
2.    "Directions"    Joe Zawinul    6:17
3.    "Spanish Key"    Miles Davis    10:36
4.    "I Fall in Love Too Easily"    Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne    2:54
5.    "Masqualero"    Wayne Shorter    8:28
6.    "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down"    Miles Davis    8:46
7.    "No Blues"    Miles Davis    13:34
8.    "Nefertiti"    Wayne Shorter    8:50
9.    "Sanctuary"    Wayne Shorter    0:53
10.    "The Theme"    Miles Davis    0:48
Total length:    1:04:11

Disc Three: November 5, 1969 at the Folkets Hus, Stockholm.
1.    "Introduction by George Wein"         0:30
2.    "Bitches Brew"    Miles Davis    14:38
3.    "Paraphernalia"    Wayne Shorter    9:19
4.    "Nefertiti"    Wayne Shorter    10:02
5.    "Masqualero" (Incomplete)    Wayne Shorter    8:02
6.    "This"    Chick Corea    6:18
Total length:    48:49

Disc Four (DVD): November 7, 1969 at the Berliner Jazztage in the Berlin Philharmonie.
1.    "Introduction by John O'Brien-Docker"         2:07
2.    "Directions"    Joe Zawinul    6:42
3.    "Bitches Brew"    Miles Davis    13:39
4.    "It's About That Time"    Miles Davis    14:09
5.    "I Fall in Love Too Easily"    Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne    3:39
6.    "Sanctuary"    Wayne Shorter    3:55
7.    "The Theme"    Miles Davis    1:11
Total length:    45:22


    Miles Davis – trumpet
    Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
    Chick Corea – electric piano, piano on disc three numbers 3,4 &5
    Dave Holland – bass
    Jack DeJohnette – drums

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Sonny Rollins - 1964 [1995] "Sonny Rollins & Co. 1964"

This CD from the Bluebird reissue series fills a lot of gaps in Sonny Rollins' discography. The 13 selections are taken from six different sessions from 1964. The personnel changes from date to date, with either Ron Carter or Bob Cranshaw on bass and Roy McCurdy or Mickey Roker on drums, along with pianist Herbie Hancock on five songs and guitarist Jim Hall on three others. Some of the music comprises alternate takes, and in contrast to a rambling 16-minute version of "Now's the Time," a few of the briefer songs (seven are under four minutes) shut down prematurely. However, the great tenor's improvisations are consistently fascinating, as he reconciles his avant-garde flights to the standards he is performing. "Autumn Nocturne" is a high point.

It took repeated listenings, but I have fallen for this album. The energy and wit Rollins puts into these titles is addicting. Some bounce, some soar, some pop, and others just saunter down the street. Yes, on the Sonny side. There are some lengthy adventures (title 3, Nows The Time, is over 15 minutes) as well as some hopping tunes like Night And Day (3:19), which is as good as anything on Saxophone Colossus. In alternative moods, Sonny can make the wistful blues come through an open window, like the gentle My Ship and Autumn Nocturne.

It took repeated listenings, but I have fallen for this album. The energy and wit Rollins puts into these titles is addicting. Some bounce, some soar, some pop, and others just saunter down the street. Yes, on the Sonny side. There are some lengthy adventures (title 3, Nows The Time, is over 15 minutes) as well as some hopping tunes like Night And Day (3:19), which is as good as anything on Saxophone Colossus. In alternative moods, Sonny can make the wistful blues come through an open window, like the gentle My Ship and Autumn Nocturne.

It's really hard to go past the first track Django. The most sensitive, beautiful, painful, emotional playing ever by any instrumentalist alive or dead... The songs tears me each time I listen to it...

The whole album is swinging, loose and sensitive... I'd say forget everything and listen to Django again..

If you are a Sonny Rollins listener, this one is definitely worth your time, time and time again.

Track listing:

1     Django (Take 8)     5:25
2     Afternoon In Paris (Take 12)     3:02
3     Now's The Time (Take 3)     15:54
4     Four (Alternate Take)     7:53
5     Blue 'N' Boogie     5:31
6     Night And Day     3:18
7     Three Little Words     2:15
8     My Ship     4:12
9     Love Letters     3:26
10     Long Ago And Far Away     2:47
11     Winter Wonderland     5:17
12     When You Wish Upon A Star     3:16
13     Autumn Nocturne     3:01


Sonny Rollins - tenor saxophone
Herbie Hancock - piano
Jim Hall - guitar
Ron Carter, Bob Cranshaw - bass
Roy McCurdy, Mickey Roker - drums

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Miles Davis - 1957 [2005] "Round About Midnight"

Miles Davis ‎– 'Round About Midnight
Recording sessions took place at Columbia Studio D on October 26 1955, and at Columbia's 30th Street Studio on June 5 and September 10 1956. 'Round About Midnight' is widely recognized by jazz critics as a landmark album in hard bop and one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

With the release of the spectral title tune, and the efforts of the Columbia marketing and publicity departments behind him, a thirty-year old Miles Davis entered into a period of extraordinary artistic maturity and growth. And Miles instinctively knew how to cultivate his star quality. Looming behind those shades, was the diffident, sensitive anti-hero--proud and defiant--who only spoke to his audience through his horn, and turned his back on them when the other soloists were blowing.

The combination of attitude and intellect was irresistible. Beginning with ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT and proceeding through a remarkable succession of famous recordings over the next 30 years, Miles Davis became one of the greatest soloists, arrangers and talent scouts in the history of American music. People who didn't own a single jazz record came to know his name--Miles was a jazz icon.

His famous intro on the title tune is based on mentor Dizzy Gillespie's arrangement, and Miles' tone, always a strong point, has here matured into something deeply personal and unique. His provocative use of space and silence--matched only by Lester Young, Billie Holiday and Thelonious Monk--sets up the famous release and Coltrane's agitated statement. Here and on the Prestige recordings, Coltrane found his voice as Miles' foil, while "The Rhythm Section" (pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones), became the most celebrated in jazz--capable of smooth, bouncy delicacy ("Dear Old Stockholm," "All Of You" and "Bye Bye Blackbird"), hard swing ("Tadd's Delight") and relentless complexity (Charlie Parker's contrapuntal "Ah-Leu-Ch"). A masterpiece.

At the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, Davis performed the song "'Round Midnight" as part of an all-star jam session, with the song's composer Thelonious Monk, along with Connie Kay and Percy Heath of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Zoot Sims, and Gerry Mulligan. Davis's solo received a positive reception from many jazz fans and critics. His response to this performance was typically laconic: "What are they talking about? I just played the way I always play." George Avakian of Columbia Records was in the audience, and his brother Aram persuaded him that he ought to sign Davis to the label.

Davis signed with Columbia and formed his "first great quintet" with John Coltrane on saxophone. 'Round About Midnight was his first album for the label. He was still under contract to Prestige, but he had an agreement that he could record material for Columbia to release after the expiration of his Prestige contract. Recording took place at Columbia studios; the first session was on October 26, 1955 at Studio D, during which the track "Ah-Leu-Cha" was recorded with three numbers that did not appear on the album. This is the first studio recording of the quintet. The remainder of the album was recorded during sessions on June 5, 1956 ("Dear Old Stockholm", "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Tadd's Delight") and September 10, 1956 ("All of You" and the titular "'Round Midnight") at Columbia's 30th Street Studio. During the same period, the Miles Davis Quintet was also recording sessions to fulfill its contract with Prestige.

These Miles Davis sessions for Columbia, from 1955 and 1956, are usually overshadowed by a quartet of albums (Relaxin', Workin', Steamin' and Cookin') Davis recorded for the Prestige label in the same period and with the same band.

Davis and a new quintet, including a then little-known saxophonist called John Coltrane, hastily cut those great discs to discharge their contractual obligations to Prestige before moving to Columbia. It turned out to be the most inspired period of work for one of the most inspired groups in jazz history. The spare and elliptical trumpet phrasing of Davis hypnotically contrasted with the striving ferocity of Coltrane's tenor sax, and a jazz rhythm section (this one included drummer Philly Joe Jones) had never before sounded so unerringly swinging and yet so effortlessly and provocatively flexible. Moreover, Davis was on his way to being unofficially elected the crown prince of cool. He had triumphantly returned to playing after a layoff to disentangle from heroin, and with his shades, sharp suits and imperious manner, he looked every inch a young man who had come back with the keys to the city for modern jazz.

What makes this Round About Midnight package different from earlier Columbia issues of the same material is that the six tracks from the original LP are now augmented, not only by bonus studio takes but by Miles Davis's famous duet with Thelonious Monk from the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival, and previously unissued concert material from the quintet's tour early the following year.

The appearance at Newport, with Davis an informal guest, was the episode that restarted the trumpeter's stalled career. Playing on Monk's composition Round About Midnight, he curls slow notes around the pianist's hammer-and-anvil chords as an intro, plays a quick, dancing figure and then a long, arching sound to bring himself within range of the theme. He keeps sidestepping the melody and simultaneously hinting at it, with soft hovering sounds and shrugging upward slides, and typically balances sighing, suspended sounds with lightly blown double time. Monk, meanwhile, keeps threatening to bring the piece to a dead halt, with grumpy, full-stop chords and preoccupied, boogieing figures. It's a classic jazz collaboration, and after that performance everybody wanted to know the 29-year-old Miles Davis all over again. Recruiting his brilliant quintet soon followed.

The studio material also kicks off with the title track, this time featuring the trumpeter's famous muted sound in slow, weaving counterpoint with Coltrane. Charlie Parker's vivacious Ah-Leu-Cha is a dialogue between the horns and drums, Bye Bye Blackbird an object lesson in tantalising behind-the-beat timing, and a nimble Two Bass Hit and Bud Powell's boppish Budo are among the studio tracks added from the same period.

But it's the live material on the second disc that is the most absorbing. Apart from the Newport performance, six tracks from a 1956 concert in Pasadena catches the freshly ignited energy of this new group, with Davis often operating in the fast, twisting bebop-rooted style that preceded his more famous free-modal and fusion approaches of the decades to follow. The empathy of the whole group on theme statements and the driving presence of Jones is clear on an account of Walkin' in which Davis brilliantly deploys only a sparing selection of notes and pauses. There's a lovely ballad account of It Never Entered My Mind and a breakneck jitter through Dizzy Gillespie's Salt Peanuts. Impresario Gene Norman's short interview with Davis inadvertently sounds hilariously like an old Lenny Bruce sketch, which all adds to the period interest.

 Track listing:

CD 1
01     'Round Midnight     5:55
02     Ah-Leu-Cha     5:53
03     All Of You     7:01
04     Bye Bye Blackbird     7:53
05     Tadd's Delight     4:26
06     Dear Old Stockholm     7:49
07     Two Bass Hit     3:45
08     Little Melonae     7:18
09     Budo     4:14
10     Sweet Sue, Just You     3:39

CD 2
1     'Round Midnight     5:54
    All Selections Below Recorded Live 2/18/56
    All Previously Unreleased
2     Introduction By Gene Norman     1:37
3     Chance It (aka Max Is Making Wax)     4:34
4     Walkin'     9:24
5     Gene Norman & Miles Davis     1:06
6     It Never Entered My Mind     5:17
7     Woody 'N You     5:46
8     Salt Peanuts     4:35
9     The Theme     0:19


    Miles Davis – trumpet
    John Coltrane – tenor saxophone
    Red Garland – piano
    Paul Chambers – double bass
    Philly Joe Jones – drumset

Newport personnel bonus disc track one

    Miles Davis – trumpet
    Zoot Sims – tenor saxophone
    Gerry Mulligan – baritone saxophone
    Thelonious Monk – piano
    Percy Heath – double bass
    Connie Kay – drumset

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Various Artists - 1996 "The Panasonic Village Jazz Festival"

Track listing / Personnel:

01     Stanley Turrentine   -  Terrible T    
02     Mingus Big Band   -  O.P. (Oscar Pettiford)    
03     Dizzy Gillespie   -  Tour de Force    
04     McCoy Tyner  -   Up Against The Wall    
05     Tito Puente  -   Nostalgia In Times Square    
06     Kenny Burrell   -  When Lights Are Low    
07     Roy Haynes   -  Like This    
08     Eddie Harris  -   The Grand Strut    
09     Steve Turre  -   Rhythm Within    
10     Benny Carter With Dianne Reeves And Joe Williams   -  We Were In Love    
11     Abdullah Ibrahim  -   Kofifi    
12     Maria Schneider Orchestra  -   Giant Steps

Thursday, April 23, 2020

McCoy Tyner - 1973 [1990] "Enlightenment"

Enlightenment is a live album by jazz pianist McCoy Tyner released on the Milestone label. It was recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland on July 7, 1973 and features Tyner in performance with Azar Lawrence, Joony Booth and Alphonse Mouzon.

This is one of the great McCoy Tyner recordings. The powerful, percussive, and highly influential pianist sounds quite inspired throughout his appearance at the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival. Azar Lawrence (on tenor and soprano) is also quite noteworthy and there is plenty of interplay with bassist Juney Booth and drummer Alphonse Mouzon. But Tyner is the main star, whether it be on his three-part "Enlightenment Suite," "Presence," "Nebula," or the 25-minute "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit."

Richard Cook and Brian Morton, authors of The Penguin Guide to Jazz, opine that Enlightenment and the 1974 live album Atlantis are "two huge, sprawling concert recordings which will drain most listeners: Tyner's piano outpourings seem unstoppable, and Lawrence comes on as an even fierier spirit than [Sonny] Fortune, even if both are in thrall to Coltrane. The Enlightenment set, cut at Montreux, is marginally superior, if only for the pile-driving 'Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit."

Few musicians are able to make their music feel as urgent or sound as epic as McCoy Tyner was able to in his prime, and nowhere does he do it more definitively than on this live set recorded at the Montreaux Jazz festival In 1973, which captures the impassioned, cerebral majesty of his studio work and transfers it to the stage with full potency, particularly during the twenty-five minute closer "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit", which has since gone on to become Tyner's signature song. Absolutely mind-blowing in its intensity, I think it would be virtually impossible to find another live album that matches the sound and fury that these four musicians produced on this date.

By the time Enlightenment was released in 1973, McCoy Tyner had already been an integral part of the legendary John Coltrane Quartet, appeared on - as both a leader and sideman - a slew of classic Blue Note and Impulse! LPs and then in 1972 made the move to Milestone records where he remain for nearly a decade. With Milestone he would release a string of outstanding records, the earliest of which (including Enlightenment) would play an important part in cementing his status as one of the giants of jazz piano.

I've read that after leaving the Cotrane Quartet, Tyner supposedly struggled artistically for a few years, although I've never picked up on that from his Blue Note albums. Certainly he found a distinctive voice once he joined Milestone, with records like Sahara, Song For My Lady, Sama Layuca and Enlightenement standing out in the early '70s jazz landscape with their mix of modal, post bop and progressive jazz ideas blended together in fresh and exciting ways. Tyner and his bandmates are nearly fearless in their presentation during this period. The undeniable spiritual aspect to his recordings from this time only brings another level of complexity and emotion to the proceedings.

Steve Metaliz, writing for Down Beat, noted that:

    since the death of Coltrane, it's been the pianists who've been on the cutting edge of the music's development.... Enlightenment testifies to the brilliant sound of [Tyner's] endeavors. Tyner's inside the instrument, as Coltrane was with the sax, drawing from it colors, textures, and intensities unprecedented in jazz. No wonder the sidemen tend to get lost in the shuffle a bit. Tenor saxophonist Azar Lawrence in particular sometimes seems overwhelmed by the energy emanating from the keyboard; but on the whole he acquits himself well in a role in which it was understandably difficult to retain a distinctive voice. Drummer Al Mouzon deserves special note; his crisp drumming is a good foil for Tyner's shattering polyphony. Enlightenment is a celebration of the epoch of the pianists and also of a musician who has never ceased to grow.

Track listing:

1     Presenting The McCoy Tyner Quartet     1:19
2     Enlightenment Suite, Part 1: Genesis     10:02
3     Enlightenment Suite, Part 2: The Offering (Solo Piano)     4:00
4     Enlightenment Suite, Part 3: Inner Glimpse     10:04
5     Presence     10:35
6     Nebula     9:39
D     Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit     24:05


    Bass – Joony Booth*
    Drums – Alphonse Mouzon
    Piano, Percussion – McCoy Tyner
    Saxophone – Azar Lawrence

Gene Harris - 1999 "Alley Cats"

Alley Cats is vintage Harris. Recorded live at Jazz Alley in Seattle, the album features the leader’s quartet (guitarist Frank Potenza, bassist Luther Hughes and drummer Paul Kreibich) along with veteran saxophonists Red Holloway and Ernie Watts. Harris and the saxmen establish the energy level here, and they don't hold anything back.

Harris' goal for Alley Cats was to get funky, and his ensemble surely accomplishes that objective on tunes like the Crusaders' "Put It Where You Want It," Cannonball Adderley's "Jive Samba" and an extended version of the soulful Eddie Harris composition "Listen Here." But Alley Cats also demonstrates Gene Harris' considerable versatility on keys. On Ernie Watts' fast-paced original "Bird's Idea," the pianist delivers a furious bop solo. On "Magic Lady," he embellishes a rapid Latin-soul groove. He comps beautifully behind daughter Nikki's vocals on "You've Changed." Then he trades bluesy runs with organist Jack McDuff on "Walkin' With Zack" and "Listen Here."

Stylistically, Alley Cats covers a lot of ground: soul-jazz, mainstream, a hint of gospel, bluesy jazz, occasional Latin grooves, a bop tune and a ballad. Leader Harris' fiery piano work is as soul-drenched as ever. Normally a tenor player, Watts blows alto on four tracks here. Daughter Niki's vocals sound a little thin on the two cuts where she's featured, but aside from that, Alley Cats is hot stuff.

Too many artists have gone their entire careers without providing any live albums, but that hasn't been a problem for Gene Harris whose live recordings from the 1980s and 1990s ranged from unaccompanied solo piano to big-band dates.

Arguably, the best live album he gave listeners in the 1990s was Alley Cats; recorded live at Jazz Alley in Seattle on December 11-12, 1998, this CD finds Harris' working quintet (Harris on piano, Frank Potenza on guitar, Luther Hughes on bass, and Paul Kreibich on drums) joined by such accomplished soloists as Red Holloway (tenor sax), Ernie Watts (alto and tenor sax), and Jack McDuff (organ). Many inspired moments occur, and a 65-year-old Harris really goes that extra mile on gems ranging from Nat Adderley's "Jive Samba" and Benny Golson's "Blues March" to Joe Sample's "Put It Where You Want It" (which, in the 1970s, was introduced by the Crusaders before being covered by the Average White Band).

A talented but underexposed singer (underexposed in the 1990s, anyway) who has recorded R&B albums but is quite capable of handling jazz, Harris' daughter Niki Harris is featured on earthy performances of "You've Changed," "Please Send Me Someone to Love," and "Guess Who." McDuff, meanwhile, brings his gritty, down-home Hammond B-3 to two songs: Eddie Harris' "Listen Here" and Gene Harris' "Walkin' With Zach." Soul-jazz enthusiasts will definitely want this excellent CD.

Pianist Gene Harris again lays down soulful, bluesy, funky grooves on his 21st album for Concord. Recorded live at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle, the aggregation includes saxophonists Ernie Watts and Red Holloway, and organist Jack McDuff working new magic on familiar charts.

Standout tracks feature Harris’ dynamic gospel-funk form on “Put It Where You Want It,” Holloway and Watts in tenor tandem on Benny Golson’s “Blues Walk” and Brother Jack’s dazzling B-3 on Eddie Harris’ “Listen Here.” Other stellar moments: Watts’ searing alto on Nat Adderly’s “Jive Samba,” and the combination of Holloway’s tender tenor and audacious Niki Harris, the leader’s vocalist-daughter, on “Please Send Me Someone to Love.” The well-meshed rhythm section has Frank Potenza on guitar, Luther Hughes on bass and Paul Kreibich on drums. These cats have created a jazz-blues classic.

If you like your jazz tinted with gospel, blues and soul, you gotta love Gene Harris' two-fisted piano work.

Track listing:

1     Put It Where You Want It     5:34
2     Magic Lady     4:05
3     Blues March     10:56
4     Bird's Idea     4:44
5     Walkin' With Zach     6:50
6     Jive Samba     5:48
7     You've Changed     6:11
8     Guess Who     5:21
9     Listen Here     11:36
10     Please Send Me Someone To Love     4:51


    Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Ernie Watts
    Bass – Luther Hughes
    Drums – Paul Kreibich
    Guitar – Frank Potenza
    Organ – Jack McDuff*
    Piano – Gene Harris
    Tenor Saxophone – Red Holloway
    Vocals – Niki Harris*

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Herbie Hancock - 1979 [1986] "The Best Of Herbie Hancock"

Herbie Hancock is One Of The Baddest Musicians Ever! His Sound&Groove Here is Tight.He Can Play So Many Different Musicial Styles it will Drive you Crazy.He Gets Funky Here,Jazz,Pop,Soulful So Many Elements From this Genius.Watermelon Man&Chameleon are Timeless Songs.Very Essential Collection.

In the second half of the Seventies, Herbie Hancock put most of his energy into advancing the state of jazz/funk in the world. Initially (i.e., Headhunters), Hancock’s exploration of funk led to one of the more exciting musical adventures in modern music. Over time, however, the experiment began to feel formulaic as Hancock moved his experiment from the laboratory to the dance floor.

This compilation provides a brief summary of a very fertile period that included several crossover hits, all of which are included here. You’ll find the insidiously funky “Chameleon” from Headhunters, the lovely jazz/funk hybrid of “I Thought It Was You” from Sunlight, the epic “Hang Up Your Hang Ups” from Man-Child and the indestructible “Doin’ It” from Secrets. Also included here are two tracks from Hancock’s most recent effort, Feets Don’t Fail Me Now: “Tell Everybody” (here presented in its disco mix version) and “Ready Or Not” (replaced by “You Bet Your Love” in the UK, where it was a Top 20 hit).

FDFMN found Hancock shifting toward disco music, which has not endeared it to music critics, although there’s little question that Hancock elevates the medium even if the sum result seemed like slumming to some. Although Hancock did release a few more disco albums into the new decade, their achievements are superseded by what’s here. When this compilation was released on CD in the 80s, digital technology was perceived as its own value-add, and so Columbia simply re-issued it with the same six tracks. The decision not to expand on this in the last 25 years speaks to a cooling interest in Hancock’s funk phase. The Best of Herbie Hancock remains a good, succinct entrypoint into one of Hancock’s most creative (if least understood) periods.

Track listing:

1. Doin’ It (Remix) (Melvin Ragin/Ray Parker Jr.) (6:43)
2. I Thought It Was You (Herbie Hancock/Jeffrey Cohen/Melvin Ragin) (8:55)
3. Chameleon (Paul Jackson/Harvey Mason/Bennie Maupin/Herbie Hancock) (7:38)
4. Hang Up Your Hang Ups (Herbie Hancock/Melvin Ragin/Paul Jackson) (7:27)
5. Ready Or Not (Ray Parker Jr./Jeffrey Cohen) (6:30)
6. Tell Everybody (Disco Version) (Hancock/David Rubinson/Jeffrey Cohen/Bruce Good) (7:48)


Herbie Hancock with Art Baldacci (background vocals), Leon “Ndugu” Chancler (drums on track 2), Michael Clark (drums on track 4), Fred Dobbs (background vocals), Coke Escovedo (timbales on track 5), Sheila Escovedo (percussion, timblaes, congas on tracks 5 & 6), James Gadson (drums, backround vocals on tracks 1 & 6), Paul Jackson (bass on tracks 3 & 4), Don Kerr (background vocals), Chris Mancini (background vocals), Harvey Mason (drums on track 3), Bennie Maupin (saxes, flute, bass clarinet on tracks 3 & 4), Byron Miller (bass on tracks 2), Kenneth Nash (percussion), Ray Obiedo (guitar on track 6), Ray Parker Jr., (guitar, drums, background vocals on tracks 1, 2 & 5), Raul Rekow (congas on track 2), Bill Summers (percussion on tracks 3 & 4), The Waters: Oren, Maxine, Julia and Luther (vocals, background vocals on tracks 5 & 6), Eddie Watkins (bass on track 6), Wah Wah Watson (guitar,  bass, voice bag vocals on tracks 1, 2 & 4). Produced by David Rubinson & Friends, Inc. and Herbie Hancock; associate producers: Wah Wah Watson (track 1), Jeffrey Cohen (tracks 5 & 6); engineered by Fred Catero, David Rubinson, Michael Fusaro (track 1), Don Miley (track 6), Tim Rivers (track 6), Jeremy Zatkin (track 3).

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

McCoy Tyner - 1974 [2001] "Sama Layuca"

Sama Layuca is a studio album by American jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, released in 1974 by Milestone Records. It was recorded on March 26, 27, and 28, 1974, with sidemen John Stubblefield, Gary Bartz, Azar Lawrence, Bobby Hutcherson, Buster Williams, Billy Hart, Guilherme Franco and Mtume.

Reviewing for The Village Voice in 1974, Robert Christgau said the album's best music "breathes with a lushness and lyricism that never cloys". He found the melodies, harmonies, and polyrhythms to be "sensuous without coming on about it" and felt that Tyner's minor flaws as a pianist, including "Tatumesque flourishes", are "less egregious in an ensemble setting like this one."

Pianist McCoy Tyner is heard at the height of his powers throughout this rewarding set. He contributed all five compositions and has a colorful and diverse group of major players at his disposal to interpret them: vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, altoist Gary Bartz, Azar Lawrence on tenor and soprano, John Stubblefield doubling on oboe and flute, bassist Buster Williams, drummer Billy Hart and both Mtume and Guillerme Franco on percussion. The results (which include a brief Tyner-Hutcherson duet on "Above the Rainbow") are quite rewarding and serve as a strong example of McCoy Tyner's music.

Sama Layuca dates from 1974, and sees Tyner in an octet format, teaming up with Lawrence, old duet partner vibist Bobby Hutcherson, Gary Bartz, John Stubblefield and a monster rhythm section of Buster Williams, Billy Hart and percussionists Mtume and Guilherme Franco.

The results are exhilarating; Tyner's compositions are unsurprisingly modal excursions, topped off with faintly exotic horn themes and driven by insistent,afro-latin rhythms. Lawrence (on tenor and soprano) and altoist Bartz are clearly at home; Lawrence'sfruity, robusttenor and airy soprano blends Coltrane's fiery yearning with a floating attack worthy of Wayne Shorter, while Bartz is typically wondrous, full of surprise and fire (check his questing solo on the closing "Paradox").Both players provide an abject lesson in getting the mostout of soloing over one or two chords.

Hutcherson was possibly the only vibist around who could survive in the heat generated by such a lineup. His crystalline voicings are showcased on the two lower key numbers; the impressionistic "Above the Rainbow" (a duet with the leader), and the stately "Desert Cry". Switching to marimba on the hyperspeed latin groove of "La Cubana", Hutcherson more than holds his own, firing off rhythmically twisty, harmonically probing lines before playing call and response with Franco's cowbells.

Tyner's playing walks his usual line between tough and tender, from the swelling, limpid arpeggios of "Above the Rainbow" to the percussive splash and dark intervals of his solo on "La Cubana". The expanded lineup holds the pianists's tendency to overcook his solos in check; despite the length of some of the pieces ("Paradox" clocks in at over 16 minutes) this isn't the testosterone fuelled sprawling solofest you might expect. Solos are kept short and sweet, and the frequent shifts in texture and instrumental combinations keep things interesting.

Most of all it's Tyner's rhythmic sense and his powerhouse left hand that provide the excitement when locking with the irresistible grooves that Williams, Hart, Mtume and Franco whip up. I bet there were a few sore fingers after this session, but the music here won't leave your ears sore. Recommended.

Track listing

All songs composed by McCoy Tyner.

1.    "Sama Layuca" - 8:37
2.    "Above the Rainbow" - 3:02
3.    "La Cubaña" - 10:26
4.    "Desert Cry" - 4:57
5.    "Paradox" - 16:27


    McCoy Tyner: piano
    John Stubblefield: oboe, flute
    Gary Bartz: alto saxophone
    Azar Lawrence: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
    Bobby Hutcherson: vibes, marimba
    Buster Williams: bass
    Billy Hart: drums
    Guilherme Franco: percussion
    James Mtume: percussion