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

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Pat Metheny - 1992 "Secret Story"

Secret Story is an album by Pat Metheny released in 1992. that won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album in 1993. All of the music is composed by Metheny (shared credit on one track), and it is one of his most ambitious and successful studio ventures, integrating elements of jazz, rock, and world music. On the performing side, it includes collaborations with the Pinpeat Orchestra of the Royal ballet of Cambodia, the London Orchestra and its conductor Jeremy Lubbock, the Choir of the Cambodian Royal Palace, Toots Thielemans, and Lyle Mays.

The opening song, "Above the Treetops", is an adaptation of a Cambodian spiritual song; other pieces, such as "Antonia", take influence from Eastern Europe. Japanese pianist and singer Akiko Yano appears on "As a Flower Blossoms", earning the only co-writing credit on the album. Yano had previously collaborated with Metheny on "Good Girl", "Lots of Love", and "Love Life", from her 1991 album Love Life, and on two Metheny covers: "'It's for You'" on Welcome Back (1989) (which also featured Metheny performing on two additional songs) and "Praise" on Super Folk Song (1992). Orchestral arrangements for the album were conducted by Jeremy Lubbock.

“The New York Times called Pat Metheny’s 1992 Grammy Award-winning Secret Story the most sweepingly ambitious album that the jazz guitarist has yet recorded...a nearly 80-minute world-music suite with symphonic underpinnings. If the album functioned then, in the words of critic Stephen Holden, as part travelogue and part soundtrack for a nonexistent film, then this expanded and re-mastered edition can best be described as the director’s cut. Composer and guitarist Metheny revisited and restored five previously unreleased tracks in the studio over the last year, and he’s collected them on a bonus disc. More pastoral in tone than most of the original material on Secret Story and with a decidedly cinematic, orchestral feel these tracks are like the deleted scenes from a deeply evocative yet wordless narrative feature. Back in ’92, Metheny declared that Secret Story was unlike anything I’ve ever done. It’s the largest in scope – 80 people were involved in the record – but it’s also the most intimate record I’ve done.”

Metheny took Secret Story on a concert tour, and a video recording of a live performance at New Brunswick, New Jersey, was issued. This film, also called Secret Story, was re-released on DVD in 2001.

The album was certified gold by the RIAA on December 1, 1995

Track listing

All tracks are written by Pat Metheny except where noted.

01.    "Above the Treetops"    2:43
02.    "Facing West"    6:05
03.    "Cathedral in a Suitcase"    4:52
04.    "Finding and Believing"    10:00
05.    "The Longest Summer"    6:34
06.    "Sunlight"    3:53
07.    "Rain River"    7:09
08.    "Always and Forever"    5:26
09.    "See the World"    4:48
10.    "As a Flower Blossoms (I Am Running to You)" (Pat Metheny/Akiko Yano)    1:53
11.    "Antonia"    6:11
12.    "The Truth Will Always Be"    9:15
13.    "Tell Her You Saw Me"    5:11
14.    "Not to Be Forgotten (Our Final Hour)"    2:22


    Pat Metheny – guitar, bass guitar, keyboards
    Ryan Kisor – trumpet, flugelhorn (track 9)
    Mike Metheny – trumpet, flugelhorn (track 9)
    Michael Mossman – trumpet, flugelhorn (track 9)
    Dave Bargeron – trombone, tuba (track 9)
    Tom Malone – trombone (track 9)
    Dave Taylor – bass trombone (track 9)
    John Clark – French horn (track 9)
    Andy Findon – flute (track 7)
    Toots Thielemans – harmonica (tracks 8 and 11)
    Lyle Mays – piano, keyboard (tracks 2 and 6)
    Gil Goldstein – accordion (tracks 4, 7, and 9)
    Skaila Kanga – harp (track 13)
    Charlie Haden – double bass (tracks 1 and 8)
    Steve Rodby – double bass, bass guitar (tracks 4-7, 9, and 11)
    Will Lee – bass guitar (tracks 4, 6, and 12)
    Anthony Jackson – contrabass guitar (track 9)
    Steve Ferrone – drums (tracks 3–5 and 12)
    Sammy Merendino – drums (track 6)
    Paul Wertico – drums (tracks 4–5, 7–9, and 11)
    Danny Gottlieb – cymbal roll, percussion (tracks 3 and 11)
    Armando Marçal – percussion (tracks 1–7, 9, and 12)
    Naná Vasconcelos – percussion (tracks 1, 4–5, and 10–12)
    Mark Ledford – vocals (tracks 3 and 4)
    Akiko Yano – vocals (track 10)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Dave Holland - 1999 "Prime Directive"

Prime Directive is an album by jazz bassist Dave Holland's Quintet released on the ECM label in 1999. A player's 'prime directive', Dave Holland has decided, should be to spread joy while making creative music. His role model in this regard remains Duke Ellington, whose melodies were the lure to draw listeners deeper into the world of jazz interaction; so it is with the Holland Quintet. Prime Directive, the album, picks where the Grammy-nominated Points of View left off, and is the stronger for the addition of Chris Potter, widely regarded as one of the most exciting young saxophonists in North America.

You may have to wait a while between Dave Holland-led releases, but it's always worth it. Tremendous taste prevents Holland from making unsatisfying music. He is a great leader in the truest senses of the word -- he gives his team space, trusts their abilities and judgment, yet all the while remains firmly in command and infuses the results with his own style and personality. Prime Directive is a wonderful jazz album. These 77 minutes and nine tracks do not cheat or disappoint.

The straight-ahead tunes -- composed by double-bassist Holland and his talented band mates (one each) -- all bear Holland's distinctive rhythmic patterns and harmonics. A fine example is the title track, on which Robin Eubanks on trombone and Chris Potter on saxophones hold a stimulating musical conversation over the rhythm section's driving groove. For listeners who prefer a more deliberate pace, there's the searching, contemplative "Make Believe," with Steve Nelson's lovely vibraphone work appointing the mood. On the hopeful, "A Seeking Spirit," fans will be tapping along to the rhythmic feast offered up by the leader and his pace-setting partner Billy Kilson on drums. The melancholy "Candlelight Vigil" presents Holland at his bowed best. Finally, "Wonders Never Cease" finds the entire band at the height of their collective, improvisational prowess. Prime Directive is recommended; a great leader is, indeed, hard to find.

This band is hands down in my top 5. When i was in my early 20's i began my study of jazz. I was managing a strip bar and a guest would bring me in jazz cd's. They were selections that demanded a study. For example i received 1. Charles Loyd-Live Monterrey 1967 2. 3 different Coltrane albums spanning his major changes. 3. Dave Holland - Big Band-- The What Goes Around album--
Some of the selections i sat on for awhile. Unfortunately i did not give the Holland recording a chance for like a year.
After putting it in i immediately regretted the time it took for me to realize this band was something special.
This is his regular Quintet- not the big band - but same dynamic is there- the same type of compositions- with a strong emphasis on energy. This band seems like they are playing at top caliber as in it does not get any better than this for the type of jazz they are playing.
I love Hollands as a composer . I love the way he structures his compositions-they are usually very complex and require a mental workout with the end result being a feeling of experiencing something great.
This is a top caliber recording from some of the best musicians out there with great direction by Holland.

Holland's group is BY FAR the most refined, sophisticated, soulful, progressive jazz unit working today. "Prime Directive" is even better than the previous record, "Points of View," which was FANTASTIC.
The overall sound on "Prime Directive" is a combination of upbeat energy and Miles Davis style "cool" jazz. What makes the tunes special and COMPLETELY ALTERS their character is the fact that they're mostly in odd-meters. Yet the way these guys groove through those odd-meters almost reminds me of Brubeck's classic quartet. With the addition of supremely inventive saxophonist Chris Potter soloing in polyrhytmic unison with trombonist Robin Eubanks against the translucent vibes of the AMAZING Steve Nelson, Holland's band just takes off into a HIGHER PLANE that leaves everyone else behind. Only a great drummer can hold all this together without sounding trite or merely technical, and Holland, who had the legendary Marvin "Smitty" Smith in his band on the classic "Extensions" record, has found himself another one in Billy Kilson. Kilson navigates those odd-meters like he was born playing them, and his refreshingly "UN-LOOSE" style is what provides the polyrhythms growing on top the perfect point of reference and keeps them interesting.
Overall, "Prime Directive" features over 60 minutes of the best jazz I've ever heard in my life, and, needless to say, it hasn't left my CD player since the day I bought it some 4 months ago.

Track listing

    All compositions by Dave Holland except as indicated

    "Prime Directive" - 7:46
    "Looking Up" - 13:32
    "Make Believe" - 6:25
    "A Seeking Spirit" (Robin Eubanks) - 11:21
    "High Wire" (Chris Potter) - 6:49
    "Jugglers Parade" - 8:14
    "Candelight Vigil" (Steve Nelson) - 4:51
    "Wonders Never Cease" (Billy Kilson) - 13:55
    "Down Time" - 3:48

        Recorded at Avatar Studios in New York City on December 10–12, 1998


    Dave Holland - double bass
    Chris Potter - soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
    Robin Eubanks - trombone
    Steve Nelson - vibraphone, marimba
    Billy Kilson - drums

Friday, March 27, 2020

Charles Mingus - 1959 [1998] "Mingus Ah Um"

Mingus Ah Um is a studio album by American jazz musician Charles Mingus, released in October 1959 by Columbia Records. It was his first album recorded for Columbia. The cover features a painting by S. Neil Fujita. The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2013.

The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD calls this album "an extended tribute to ancestors" (and awards it one of their rare crowns), and Mingus's musical forebears figure largely throughout. "Better Git It In Your Soul" is inspired by gospel singing and preaching of the sort that Mingus would have heard as a child growing up in Watts, Los Angeles, California, while "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" is a reference (by way of his favored headgear) to saxophonist Lester Young (who had died shortly before the album was recorded). The origin and nature of "Boogie Stop Shuffle" is self-explanatory: a twelve-bar blues with four themes and a boogie bass backing that passes from stop time to shuffle and back.

"Self-Portrait in Three Colors" was originally written for John Cassavetes' first film as director, Shadows, but was never used (for budgetary reasons). "Open Letter to Duke" is a tribute to Duke Ellington, and draws on three of Mingus's earlier pieces ("Nouroog", "Duke's Choice", and "Slippers"). "Jelly Roll" is a reference to jazz pioneer and pianist Jelly Roll Morton and features a quote of Sonny Rollins' "Sonnymoon for Two" during Horace Parlan's piano solo. "Bird Calls", in Mingus's own words, was not a reference to bebop saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker: "It wasn't supposed to sound like Charlie Parker. It was supposed to sound like birds – the first part."

"Fables of Faubus" is named after Orval E. Faubus (1910–1994), the Governor of Arkansas infamous for his 1957 stand against integration of Little Rock, Arkansas schools in defiance of U.S. Supreme Court rulings (forcing President Eisenhower to send in the National Guard). It is sometimes claimed that Columbia refused to allow the lyrics to be included on this album, though the liner notes to the 1998 reissue of the album state that the piece started life as an instrumental, and only gained the lyrics later (as can be heard on the 1960 release Presents Charles Mingus).

Charles Mingus' debut for Columbia, Mingus Ah Um is a stunning summation of the bassist's talents and probably the best reference point for beginners. While there's also a strong case for The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady as his best work overall, it lacks Ah Um's immediate accessibility and brilliantly sculpted individual tunes. Mingus' compositions and arrangements were always extremely focused, assimilating individual spontaneity into a firm consistency of mood, and that approach reaches an ultra-tight zenith on Mingus Ah Um.

The band includes longtime Mingus stalwarts already well versed in his music, like saxophonists John Handy, Shafi Hadi, and Booker Ervin; trombonists Jimmy Knepper and Willie Dennis; pianist Horace Parlan; and drummer Dannie Richmond. Their razor-sharp performances tie together what may well be Mingus' greatest, most emotionally varied set of compositions. At least three became instant classics, starting with the irrepressible spiritual exuberance of signature tune "Better Get It in Your Soul," taken in a hard-charging 6/8 and punctuated by joyous gospel shouts. "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" is a slow, graceful elegy for Lester Young, who died not long before the sessions.

The sharply contrasting "Fables of Faubus" is a savage mockery of segregationist Arkansas governor Orval Faubus, portrayed musically as a bumbling vaudeville clown (the scathing lyrics, censored by skittish executives, can be heard on Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus). The underrated "Boogie Stop Shuffle" is bursting with aggressive swing, and elsewhere there are tributes to Mingus' most revered influences: "Open Letter to Duke" is inspired by Duke Ellington and "Jelly Roll" is an idiosyncratic yet affectionate nod to jazz's first great composer, Jelly Roll Morton. It simply isn't possible to single out one Mingus album as definitive, but Mingus Ah Um comes the closest.

Poor big-bellied, cigar-loving, temperamental, insecure, misogynistic Charles Mingus. While routinely placed on best-of-genre lists and talked about as one of the preeminent bassists and bandleaders in jazz, his best albums never clump comfortably with anyone else's, or with any particular subset of casual jazz listeners. They're too spirited for cocktail hour, too rough and moody for listeners who revel in crafstmanship, and not radical enough for daredevils.

Then again, Mingus' music never seemed comfortable outside its own world, either. At the dawn of both modal and free jazz, he kept solos short and music composed (even if, as with 1959's Atlantic recording Blues and Roots, the players didn't see the charts before the studio date). In an era where big bands were left behind for small combos or reimagined entirely (as with, say, John Coltrane's late albums), Mingus was a Duke Ellington acolyte who approached his pieces with the formality of an orchestral composer.

Mingus Ah Um was one of fifty recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry in 2003.

Track listing:

All songs composed by Charles Mingus, except 12, composed by Sunny Clapp. Original LP song lengths are given within parentheses.

    "Better Git It in Your Soul" – 7:23
    "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" – 5:44 (4:46)
    "Boogie Stop Shuffle" – 5:02 (3:41)
    "Self-Portrait in Three Colors" – 3:10
    "Open Letter to Duke" – 5:51 (4:56)
    "Bird Calls" – 6:17 (3:12)
    "Fables of Faubus" – 8:13
    "Pussy Cat Dues" – 9:14 (6:27)
    "Jelly Roll" – 6:17 (4:01)

Bonus tracks on later reissues

    "Pedal Point Blues" – 6:30
    "GG Train" – 4:39
    "Girl of My Dreams" – 4:08


    John Handy – alto sax (1, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12), clarinet (8), tenor sax (2)[13]
    Booker Ervin – tenor sax
    Shafi Hadi – tenor sax (2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10), alto sax (1, 5, 6, 9, 12)
    Willie Dennis – trombone (3, 4, 5, 12)
    Jimmy Knepper – trombone (1, 7, 8, 9, 10)
    Horace Parlan – piano
    Charles Mingus – bass, piano (with Parlan on track 10)
    Dannie Richmond – drums

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

McCoy Tyner - 1978 [2004] "Counterpoints"

Counterpoints: Live in Tokyo is a live album by jazz pianist McCoy Tyner released on the Milestone label in 2004. It was recorded, along with Passion Dance (1978), in July 1978 at the Live Under the Sky festival in Tokyo, Japan and features performances by Tyner with Tony Williams and Ron Carter.

Although these live tracks were recorded on the same evening in 1978 as McCoy Tyner's earlier Milestone album Passion Dance, they inexplicably remained unreleased until 2004. With Tyner joined by a powerful rhythm section consisting of bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, the fireworks begin with an explosive interpretation of the pianist's "The Greeting." Next are two solo piano features, including a return to Tyner's exotic "Aisha" and "Sama Layuca," the latter building upon a hypnotic vamp from Tyner's left hand as thunderous chords with occasional tremolos are played by his right hand. Tyner begins Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss" with a well-disguised introduction before entering familiar territory just prior to Carter's entrance, producing an absolutely stunning interpretation. The disc wraps with the return of Williams for Tyner's "Iki Mashio (Let's Go)," another over the top work comparable to the pianist's "Passion Dance," with an interlude featuring a quiet but intricate solo by Carter. Even with Tyner's fierce attack at the keyboard and his heavy use of the sustain pedal at times, the sound is remarkably clear.

Counterpoints is a 5-tune set lasting about 48 minutes taken from Tyner's "Live Under the Sky" concert in Japan, circa 1978. Milestone records seems to have unearthed this for release (or re-release) in 2004, making it a fairly new collection of older material. It's a great addition, because the 1970's were, in my opinion, the best years in Tyner's discography -- an era where his playing was at its fastest, most dense, and most muscular, with energetic contributions from some great sidemen and some outstanding records cut from various live concerts.

In terms of Tyner's 70's music, Enlightenment,Atlantis, and the Greeting are probably Tyner's best dates from this era and are the place to start. Counterpoints, perhaps as the name suggests, is something a little different. For one thing, it's billed as a trio date, featuring McCoy (thankfully sticking to piano, without any of his 70's experiments on harpsichord and the like), Ron Carter on bass, and Tony Williams on drums. Quite a line-up, though it's a bit deceiving, because the trio's only there on 2 tunes -- "The Greeting," and "Iki Masho (Let's Go)." "Sama Layuca" and "Aisha" are Tyner solos, while "Prelude to a Kiss" is a duet with Carter. So, unlike some of the other 70's powerhouse albums, this showcases Tyner without any horns and sometimes just by himself.

The 5 tunes average about 10 minutes each (ranging 6:28 to 13:28), allowing for generous solo space and true to form, Tyner's soloing here is incredible -- almost exclusively up-tempo, full of thundering left hand chords, and with plenty of cascading right hand runs with trademark Tyner trills. "The Greeting" is a great opener, though some of the space gets devoted to (wasted on?) bass and drum solos and the version on the album, the Greeting, is superior. "Aisha" is a Tyner original taken from Coltrane's 1962 album Ole Coltrane, and it's kind of a sister tune to the well-tread "Naima" -- essentially a ballad, but played with such fullness and density such that there's nothing slow or quiet about it. "Sama Luyuca" then follows back-to-back, though while the main melody is different, it's to some extent a continuation of what you're hearing in "Aisha." Carter's backing on "Prelude" adds a great texture to the duet, and is the closest thing to a true ballad on the album. Then the trio returns on "Iki Masho" -- with a long and quiet Carter solo sandwiched in the middle -- to bring things to a close.

While this is an excellent and well-recorded live date from Tyner's peak, if there's a criticism to be made, it's that there's a certain sameness to his soloing on these numbers that is perhaps accentuated without more accompaniment (and by the fact that I listened to this album something like 5 times before writing this review). If you really want to hear Tyner alone, you should probably pick up Echoes of a Friend first, or one of his more recent solo albums (At The Warsaw Jazz Jamboree is pretty good). Personally, I miss the propulsiveness that a drummer adds to Tyner's soloing, so if it's the trio work with Carter and Williams that's got you interested in Counterpoints as it did me, I'd suggest getting Supertrios first -- a studio date from a year before featuring the same trio as here on half the numbers (including a repeat of "The Greeting" and "Prelude to a Kiss"), and a lot more total music. So maybe Counterpoints isn't quite the place to start, but it's a solid concert that does allow you to hear Tyner in top form in a variety of contexts -- solo, duet, and trio.

This is one of my favorite McCoy Tyner albums. It is a perfect example of his 70's style. The recording is from 1978, and it consists of a trio with Ron Carter and Tony Williams. McCoy has never sounded more forceful and aggressive than on these recordings. In the 70's, pianists like Keith Jarrett were working in the Bill Evans mold of quiet, mellow and classical-influenced playing. Howevever, McCoy Tyner was contemporaneously moving in the opposite direction and pounding away on the piano like a madman, but always with perfect precision. His playing here makes his 60's Blue Note and Impulse recordings sound restrained. That may put some fans off, and recently, he has been using more dynamics in his approach, moving between placid and aggressive within the context of the same piece. However, this recording is full-steam-ahead throughout, and Ron Carter and Tony Williams support him like few others could.

Track listing

    "The Greeting" - 11:30
    "Aisha" - 7:08
    "Sama Layuca" - 6:38
    "Prelude to a Kiss" (Ellington, Gordon, Mills) - 9:20
    "Iki Masho (Let's Go)" - 13:58

    All compositions by McCoy Tyner except as indicated

    Recorded at "Live Under The Sky", Denen Colosseum, Tokyo, Japan, July 28, 1978


    McCoy Tyner: piano
    Ron Carter: bass (tracks 1, 4 & 5)
    Tony Williams: drums

Monday, March 23, 2020

McCoy Tyner - 1977 [2006] "Supertrios"

Supertrios is a 1977 album by jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, his eleventh to be released on the Milestone label. It was recorded in April 1977 and features performances by Tyner with two rhythm sections: Ron Carter and Tony Williams, and Eddie Gómez and Jack DeJohnette.

I've owned this on vinyl the year it came out, on CD, and now as a download; it remains as wonderful as it was more than three decades ago. The Gomez-DeJohnette tunes are slightly overshadowed by the Carter/Tony Williams cuts, but only because Ron and Tony are absolute killers on this record; IMHO, this may be the best work that TW did in that decade. Particularly wonderful is the reading of Jobim's "Wave", which bears the same relationship to most placid bossa nova readings of the tune (including Jobim's original) as being caught on the crest of a icy 30 foot Pacific storm wave off Half-Moon Bay does to relaxing with your toes in the water on the beach in Rio: it STARTS intense, loud and fast (the sample above is from the very start of the tune, before McCoy even gets to a theme statement) and then gets more so. They relent for half a chorus here and there, and then McCoy's left hand slams down again and all three lean into the storm. "Moment's Notice" and "I Mean You" get the same treatment.

None of this should detract from Eddie Gomez' and Jack DeJohnette's wonderful second half, but it's more subdued playing, and what an act to have to follow. . .

The sound is crackling fresh on the piano, though I think I'm hearing some "the dreaded bass direct" in Ron Carter's bass mix. The drum sound is clean and well-defined; I think I could probably tell Jack from Tony on this recording if you gave me only an isolated snippet of ride cymbal from each, their sounds are so distinct on this package.

This album features the great pianist McCoy Tyner with two separate trios, either bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams or bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The former session, which has a Tyner/Williams duet on "I Mean You" and a collaboration between Tyner and Carter on "Prelude to a Kiss," is the more interesting of the two, with the pianist interacting with Miles Davis's former rhythm section on six highquality songs. But the Gomez-DeJohnette date (which includes four Tyner compositions plus "Stella by Starlight" and "Lush Life") also has its classic moments. Throughout, the percussive and highly influential pianist sounds inspired by the opportunity to create music with his peers. Recommended.

Tyner's playing on this recording is similar to his earlier Trident album. I've always been attracted to Tyner's playing and his ability to get "his" sound out of the acoustic piano. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his keyboard presentations is how his style and attack have changed over the years. When still a teenager and playing with Benny Golson's The Jazztet, his approach was based on long harmonic lines of beauty and facility. Later with Coltrane and his own albums for Impulse things started to become a bit more forceful and aggressive. This 1977 album (and the previously mentioned Trident) presents Tyner in his most percussive form. The term "Supertrios" refers to the fact that the CD is made up of two different rhythm sections (Elvin Jones and Ron Carter on tracks 1-6 and Jack DeJonnet and Eddie Gomez on tracks 7-12). Both rhythm sections meld perfectly with Tyner. While some of the songs are a bit bombastic at times, the listener is never left without a path to follow. For jazz pianists, Tyner's artistic use of modes, his lighting-fast keyboard gymnastics, and his tasteful use of pentatonics should be high points of interest. Elvin Jones is (as always) a churning powerhouse but never gets in the way. And bassist Eddie Gomez presents well placed notes and enhanced rhythmic support. While this Milestone recording (produced by Orrin Keepnews) is not billed as a remastered version, the sonics are superb. This is McCoy Tyner at his best and one to have if you are a Tyner fan.

Track listing

    "Wave" (Jobim) - 7:27
    "Blues on the Corner" - 6:28
    "I Mean You" (Hawkins, Monk) - 4:21
    "The Greeting" - 7:56
    "Prelude to a Kiss" (Ellington, Gordon, Mills) - 4:35
    "Moment's Notice" (Coltrane) - 5:49
    "Hymn-Song" - 5:11
    "Consensus" - 9:34
    "Four by Five" - 5:30
    "Stella by Starlight" (Washington, Young) - 8:05
    "Lush Life" (Strayhorn) - 6:24
    "Blues for Ball" - 4:53

    All compositions by McCoy Tyner except as indicated

        Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA, April 9 & 10 (tracks 1-6), 11 & 12 (tracks 7-12), 1977.


    McCoy Tyner: piano
    Ron Carter: bass (tracks 1-6)
    Tony Williams: drums (tracks 1-6)
    Eddie Gómez: bass (tracks 7-12)
    Jack DeJohnette: drums (tracks 7-12)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Wes Montgomery - 1968 [1988] "Down Here on the Ground"

Down Here on the Ground is an album by jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery that was released in 1968. It reached number one on the Billboard Jazz album chart and number 4 on the R&B chart. It also reached number 38 on the Billboard 200. Released just a month before Wes died, this 1968 LP was one of only two that the massively influential jazz guitarist landed in the pop Top 40.

Wes Montgomery acceded to the whims of producer Creed Taylor for this, one of the very first CTI productions that would, over the next decade, popularize jazz with string backdrops or rhythm & blues beats. Much to either the delight or chagrin of urban or traditional jazz fans, the music changed, and Montgomery was in the middle, though his delightful playing was essentially unchanged. On the plus side, the legendary guitarist was allowed to collaborate with great musicians like bassist Ron Carter, pianist Herbie Hancock, flutist Hubert Laws, and percussionist Ray Barretto. While the small orchestral trappings never dominate this session, the seeds for a more grandiose style of music had been planted with the release of this date in 1968.

The arrangements of Don Sebesky are for the most part pretty, unobtrusive, and pleasant but lack groove and soul in the main. "Wind Song" is exactly as its title suggests, a light funk loaded up with chords and woodwinds. The melody of "Georgia on My Mind" is barely stated although the strings are subtle; "I Say a Little Prayer" is a sappy tune made into Muzak; oboe and cello bring "When I Look Into Your Eyes" into an ultimately maudlin arena; and Lalo Schifrin's theme from "The Fox" has the same instrumental complement, more film noir, and parallel to Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Theme to the Eulipions" if you compare them side by side. The best material is the light funk of Montgomery's original "Up & at It" in a small ensemble, nice enough, and the roots of so-called "smooth" jazz. The bright samba "Know It All" best showcases the guitarist and Hancock's luminous piano, reflecting the classic "No More Blues," while "Goin' on to Detroit" is a typical Montgomery-styled, cool road song featuring Laws.

In may real and important ways, this is the beginning of the end for Montgomery as a jazz artist, and the inception of bachelor pad lounge/mood music that only lasted for a brief time. This recording, with no extra material, alternate takes, or bonus tracks, cannot compare to Charlie Parker with strings. It does fall in that category of recordings where the musicians chose to produce, rather than create their personal brand of jazz, and is at the very least an historical footnote.

This is an example of superb, cool guitar jazz! Wes Montgomery was introduced to me by a family friend many years ago,(back in the late 60s). By this gift she introduced me to a great jazz guitarist!: Wes Montgomery. This is one of the greatest gifts, given to me on vinyl, long playing record. I have this recording, still in playable condition as well as a cd copy purchased from the manufacturer. It is indeed a treasure in my musical collection!

The song "Down Here on the Ground" is Montgomery's version of the theme song from the movie Cool Hand Luke by Lalo Schifrin.

Track listing

    "Wind Song" (Herb Alpert, Nick Ceroli, Neil Larsen, John Pisano, Paul Francis Webster) – 2:22
    "Georgia on My Mind" (Hoagy Carmichael, Stuart Gorrell) – 2:46
    "The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener" (Tony Hatch, Jackie Trent) – 2:36
    "Down Here on the Ground" (Lalo Schifrin, Gale Garnett) – 3:42
    "Up and at It" (Wes Montgomery) – 4:15
    "Goin' on to Detroit" (Montgomery) – 3:38
    "I Say a Little Prayer for You" (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) – 3:18
    "When I Look in Your Eyes" (Leslie Bricusse) – 3:11
    "Know It All (Quem Diz Que Sabe)" (João Donato, Paulo Valle) – 2:59
    "The Fox" (Lalo Schifrin) – 2:56


    Wes Montgomery – guitar
    Herbie Hancock – piano
    Ron Carter – bass
    Grady Tate – drums
    Ray Barretto – percussion
    Hubert Laws – flute, oboe
    George Marge – flute, oboe
    Romeo Penque – flute, oboe
    Bobby Rosengarden – percussion
    Mike Mainieri – vibraphone
    Gene Orloff – violin
    Raoul Poliakin – violin
    George Ricci – cello
    Emanuel Vardi – viola

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Santana - 1970 [1991] "Abraxas" [MFSL]

Picked this up for $2.16 at the thrift store.

Abraxas is the second studio album by Latin rock band Santana, released in September 1970. In 2016, the album was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its "cultural, historic, or artistic significance. The title of the album originates from a line in Hermann Hesse's book, Demian, quoted on the album's back cover: "We stood before it and began to freeze inside from the exertion. We questioned the painting, berated it, made love to it, prayed to it: We called it mother, called it whore and slut, called it our beloved, called it Abraxas...."

The album cover features the 1961 painting Annunciation by German-French painter Mati Klarwein. According to the artist, it was one of the first paintings he did after relocating to New York City. Carlos Santana reportedly noticed it in a magazine and asked that it be on the cover of the band's upcoming album. Abraxas is now considered to feature a classic of rock-album covers.

Santana's 1970 follow-up to their Woodstock-propelled smash '69 debut found leader Carlos Santana further expanding his San Francisco group's already broad musical boundaries. To wit: two hit singles that emanated from opposite ends of the spectrum--"Black Magic Woman," originally written and recorded by English blues-rock guitarist Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac, and New York Latin percussionist/dance music king Tito Puente's infectious "Oye Como Va." Tying blues, rock, and salsa together in one pancultural package, Abraxas also featured such standout tracks as "Gypsy Queen" and "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts." The latter underscored the growing Eastern sensibilities of guitarist Santana.

The San Francisco Bay Area rock scene of the late '60s was one that encouraged radical experimentation and discouraged the type of mindless conformity that's often plagued corporate rock. When one considers just how different Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, and the Grateful Dead sounded, it becomes obvious just how much it was encouraged. In the mid-'90s, an album as eclectic as Abraxas would be considered a marketing exec's worst nightmare. But at the dawn of the 1970s, this unorthodox mix of rock, jazz, salsa, and blues proved quite successful. Whether adding rock elements to salsa king Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va," embracing instrumental jazz-rock on "Incident at Neshabur" and "Samba Pa Ti," or tackling moody blues-rock on Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman," the band keeps things unpredictable yet cohesive. Many of the Santana albums that came out in the '70s are worth acquiring, but for novices, Abraxas is an excellent place to start.

This is one of those timeless Classics that gets better and better as time goes by...Nearly 50 years on I never tire of the depth, rhythm and vitality of this album and it sounds as fresh as it did in the 70,s.
As a musician and a band they obviously matured and perfected their interplay over the ensuing decades but never have they sounded as alive and with it as on this their 2nd album , considered by many an all time Gem, and considered by most Santana peers as their finest hour and certainly commercially one of their most successful.

When one listens to BLACK MAGIC WOMAN, SE A CABO, OYE COMO VA, the incredible INCIDENT AT NESHABUR and the all time fave SAMBA PA TI, how can anyone doubt the sheer brilliance and quality of this album?? THIS is SANTANA at their very very best!!

Tracks Listing:

1. Singing Winds, Crying Beasts (4:48)
2. Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen (5:17)
3. Oye Como Va (4:17)
4. Incident At Neshabur (4:58)
5. Se A Cabo (2:49)
6. Mother's Daughter (4:25)
7. Samba Pa Ti (4:46)
8. Hope You're Feeling Better (4:10)
9. El Nicoya (1:29)
Bonus Tracks on 1998 Legacy remaster:
10. Se A Cabo (Live *) (3:47)
11. Toussaint L'Overture (Live *) (4:52)
12. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Live *) (4:57)

* Recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, april 18, 1970.

Line-up / Musicians:

- Carlos Santana / guitars, vocals
- Gregg Rolie / keyboards, vocals, arrangements
- David Brown / bass
- Michael Shrieve / drums
- Michael Carabello / congas, arrangements
- Jose 'Chepito' Areas / timbales, congas, arrangements
- Alberto Gianguinto / piano (4)
- Rico Reyes / vocals (3,9), percussion (9), arrangements

Friday, March 20, 2020

Michael Bernier Ritchie DeCarlo - 2017 "Strangers"

Michael Bernier, known for his virtuosity on the Chapman Stick, is also no slouch on the guitar, bass, keyboard, or synth. All coalesce intricately on this third effort with drummer extraordinaire and Percy Jones collaborator Ritchie DeCarlo. Bernier was a founding member of the Stick Men with King Crimson alums Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto, both of whom make their mark on this driven and atmospheric, space-prog odyssey. DeCarlo and Bernier are monsters, both pushing and pulling the music, completely capable of holding one's attention without superstar guest appearances. But then along comes Ed Mann of Frank Zappa fame with a trippy electronic mallet percussion performance. Matte Henderson, Billy Sherwood, John Wesley play guitar; Dean Pascarella brings Theremin; and Kandy Harris and Madeline Kott add vocals. Fans of Adrian Belew, King Crimson, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Allan Holdsworth will all find a place to hang their hat on Strangers.

Ritchie DeCarlo is as good as any drummer who you care to name. He also plays other instruments, including keyboards, Theremin and Chapman Stick! He has worked with Percy Jones, not just one of the best bassists to ever have come out of Wales, but one of the best bass players ever.
Michael Bernier is as good as any Chapman Stick player you could name. He is also a really good drummer, as you can hear on the track Scrambled Eggs that is shown in the snappily-entitled little video: “A visit with Chapman Stick player and composer Michael Bernier – two-handed tapping”, which you can find HERE. It is enlightening. Once I remind you of what a Stick is – that weird instrument that Tony Levin plays – many people would struggle to name any more Stick players. In fact, Michael was in the original Stick Men line-up with Tony Levin and some bloke called Pat Mastelotto who is best known for his drumming on the theme tune to that rather successful T.V. show; Friends (I thinKC Mr Mastelotto may have gone on to do some other things…).

Michael Bernier’s solo work on albums such as Leviathan and Veil shows just how capable and versatile a composer and musician he is. Michael cites Alan Holdsworth as one of his influences, in fact Mr. Holdsworth has given his secret recipe for guitar sounds to Michael. You can hear it on some of the tracks, I think.So Ritchie and Michael are astonishing musicians, both multi-instrumentalists, both used to rubbing shoulders with other astonishing musicians. This album, therefore, has pedigree. It references some great work by other artists, but crucially, it is fresh, original, provocative and multi-faceted.

Right from the start Cattrophist grabbed me and shook me, violently. It took a few listens before a pattern started to emerge. Even then when I think I have a handle on it… “Ah it’s 7/8! …wait…er… no… Damn… YES! 7/8 again – NAILED IT”! It is almost as if Ritchie is playing in one time signature, Michael’s left hand a second and his right hand a third. But I Chapman Stuck with it (see what I did there?) and heard that it was good.
Still reeling, but intrigued, I was rewarded with a more conventional feeling jazz-rock-fusion track, reminiscent of Brand-X, Electric Sheep, complete with fretless bass a la Percy Jones.

Canterbury Undertow, or as I like to call it: “In-your-bloody-face-in-probably-9/16” is just downright heavy in many places and in all ways. If you proudly state that you like music to be challenging then you should love this! This isn’t a track-by-track analysis, but if you make it to Fugue you should have an idea of whether this album is for you. Even if you find the music too challenging [EDITOR: That there’s fighting talk!] this is worth having just so that you can marvel at the technical brilliance of it all. If all you do is marvel at the technical brilliance, however, then you are missing the melodies that emerge from what initially sounds like chaos in the bass-lines and lead lines.
The solo drumming (note solo drumming, not drum solo) on Cyber Toothed is, frankly and for want of a better word, awesome.

Finally, the soundscapes created in the last track, Approaching The Gates, with loops, effects and bowed stick, plus the tabla and other percussion, show another dimension to this duo that should just tip the balance for you. I think it is the best track on the album.
I want to hear more collaborations from Bernier-DeCarlo.

Fulcrum opens with ominous picking so close to the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Dance Of Maya it sounds at first like a cover version, then they race off into a faster section with an untrammelled guitar solo by Bernier (who also plays Chapman Stick and bass), then decelerate back into the opening section with Pat Mastelotto on second drum kit upping the intensity.

Like all the music here, dynamics are key and Eyes, a seemingly straightahead rock song, shifts through lyrical moods, bursting open in a blur of exultant guitar and drums before putting on the brakes for a melodic finale. On Backward Towne Bernier plays perpetual motion Stick and guitar patterns with DeCarlo occasionally playing accents against the main lines in a completely different tempo in a way that will have you winding back to figure out exactly what it was you just heard. Most of the material is instrumental and Tony Levin plays electric cello on the balladic Amrhán Do Ana. Two of the most effective tracks are the most eclectic: Trans Am is based on former Zappa side man Ed Mann’s electronic mallet percussion section, while the lengthy Broken Museum is a strange brew of acoustic and electronic percussion, bass, keyboards, Stick and Theremins.

Track listing:

1     Fulcrum     5:19
2     Strangers     4:38
3     Eyes     4:24
4     Trans Am     6:19
5     Backward Towne     5:14
6     Monkey Biznis     6:56
7     Amhran Do Ana     6:04
8     The Vile Queen     4:20
9     Broken Museum (Scot Solida Mix)     9:31


    Chapman Stick, Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Keyboards, Soft Synths, Producer – Michael Bernier
    Edited By, Mixed By – Ritchie DeCarlo
    Electronic Drums, Acoustic Drums, Percussion, Moog Taurus, Producer – Ritchie DeCarlo


Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotoo, Ed Mann, Billy Sherwood, John Wesley, Matte Henderson, Kandy Harris, Dean Pascarella

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

McCoy Tyner - 1973 [1991] "Song of the New World"

Song of the New World is a 1973 album by jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, his fourth to be released on the Milestone label. It was recorded in April 1973 and features performances by Tyner with a big band including Sonny Fortune, Hubert Laws, Alphonse Mouzon and Virgil Jones and a string section on two tracks.

This set gave pianist McCoy Tyner his first opportunity to write music for a larger group that included brass, flutes, and -- on two of the five songs -- a string section. The powerful pianist is in fine form and the main soloist throughout (although there are spots for trumpeter Virgil Jones and the flute of Sonny Fortune). Most memorable is the title cut and a reworking of "Afro Blue."

Soaring brilliance from McCoy Tyner – one of his first large group outings, and an effort undertaken with key help from William Fischer! There's a sense of soaring freedom here that's very much like Tyner's smaller group albums of the time – but Fischer tunes it with a broader sense of color and tone, really bringing the most out of players that include Hubert Laws, Sonny Fortune, Junie Booth, Alphonse Mouzon, Cecil Bridgewater, Virgil Jones, and Dick Griffin. Tyner's forceful piano is very much in the lead on most tunes, but the album's much more of a group effort than before – and the horn and string contributions on the longer tracks are really tremendous. Titles include "Little Brother", "The Divine Love", "Some Day", "Song Of The New World", and a version of "Afro Blue".

Track listing:

    "Afro Blue" (Santamaría) - 10:01
    "Little Brother" - 10:12
    "The Divine Love" - 7:31
    "Some Day" - 6:50
    "Song of the New World" - 6:50


    McCoy Tyner: piano, percussion
    Hubert Laws: piccolo, flute
    Sonny Fortune: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
    Joony Booth: bass
    Alphonse Mouzon: drums
    Cecil Bridgewater: trumpet (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    Jon Faddis: trumpet (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    Virgil Jones: trumpet (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    Garnett Brown: trombone (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    Dick Griffin: trombone, baritone trombone (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    Willie Ruff: french horn (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    William Warnick III: french horn (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    Julius Watkins: french horn (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    Kiane Zawadi: euphonium (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    Bob Stewart: tuba (tracks 1, 2 & 4)
    Sonny Morgan: conga (tracks 1 & 2)
    Harry Smyle: oboe (tracks 3 & 5)
    Sanford Allen: violin (tracks 3 & 5)
    John Blair: violin (tracks 3 & 5)
    Selwart Clarke: violin (tracks 3 & 5)
    Winston Collymore: violin (tracks 3 & 5)
    Noel DaCosta: violin (tracks 3 & 5)
    Marie Hence: violin (tracks 3 & 5)
    Julian Barber: viola (tracks 3 & 5)
    Alfred Brown: viola (tracks 3 & 5)
    Ronald Lipscomb: cello (tracks 3 & 5)
    Kermit Moore: cello (tracks 3 & 5)
    William Fischer: conductor (tracks 3 & 5)

Monday, March 16, 2020

John Coltrane - 1964 [1987] "Crescent"

Crescent is a 1964 studio album by jazz musician John Coltrane, released by Impulse! as A-66. Alongside Coltrane on tenor saxophone, the album features McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (double bass) and Elvin Jones (drums) playing original Coltrane compositions.

Coltrane does not solo at all on side two of the original LP; the ballad "Lonnie's Lament" instead features a long bass solo by Garrison. The album's closing track is an improvisational feature for Jones (with sparse melodic accompaniment from Coltrane's tenor sax and Garrison's bass at the song's beginning and end): Coltrane continued to explore drum/saxophone duets in live performances with this group and on subsequent recordings such as the posthumously released Interstellar Space (with Rashied Ali).

ohn Coltrane's Crescent from the spring of 1964 is an epic album, showing his meditative side that would serve as a perfect prelude to his immortal work A Love Supreme. His finest quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones supports the somewhat softer side of Coltrane, and while not completely in ballad style, the focus and accessible tone of this recording work wonders for anyone willing to sit back and let this music enrich and wash over you. While not quite at the "sheets of sound" unfettered music he would make before his passing in 1967, there are hints of this group stretching out in restrained dynamics, playing as lovely a progressive jazz as heard anywhere in any time period.

The highlights come at the top with the reverent, ruminating, and free ballad "Crescent," with a patient Coltrane acquiescing to swinging, while the utterly beautiful "Wise One" is accented by the delicate and chime-like musings of Tyner with a deeply hued tenor from Coltrane unrushed even in a slight Latin rhythm. These are the ultimate spiritual songs, and ultimately two of the greatest in Coltrane's storied career. But "Bessie's Blues" and "Lonnie's Lament" are just as revered in the sense that they are covered by jazz musicians worldwide, the former a hard bop wonder with a classic short repeat chorus, the latter one of the most somber, sad jazz ballad reflections in a world full of injustice and unfairness -- the ultimate eulogy.

 Garrison and especially Jones are put through their emotional paces, but on the finale "The Drum Thing," the African-like tom-tom sounds extracted by Jones with Coltrane's sighing tenor, followed by some truly amazing case study-frantic snare drumming, makes it one to be revisited. In the liner notes, a quote from Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka states John Coltrane was "daringly human," and no better example of this quality transferred to musical endeavor is available than on this definitive, must have album that encompasses all that he was and eventually would become.

Saxophone titan John Coltrane’s discography—both as leader and sideman–is so colossal that it’s a wonder there is any agreement among critics, musicians and fans as to his greatest works. Indeed, there are some Trane titles that tower above the rest, serving as landmark moments in his multifaceted career and excellent jumping off points for those wanting to dive into the musician’s deep, intricate waters. Critics have written exhaustively about the soulfulness of Blue Train (1957), the harmonic complexities of Giant Steps (1960), the unlikely pop accessibility of My Favorite Things (1961), the tenderness of Ballads (1963), the spirituality of A Love Supreme (1965) and the avant-garde audacity of Ascension (1966).

1964’s Impulse! recording Crescent ought to be mentioned in the same breath as these tried and true masterpieces, yet the record has rarely gotten the attention it deserves. This omission might be partially due to the timing of its release. Crescent, arguably Trane’s darkest, most meditative record, was cut in the spring of 1964. Only a few months later, Coltrane, with the same classic quartet he worked with on Crescent, would go into the studio to record A Love Supreme, an album whose influences have been felt not only in jazz but in the realms of rock, classical, soul, gospel and world music. The latter record is so universally beloved that the former record, one that shares many of A Love Supreme’s most attractive qualities, is sometimes cast aside as a curious precursory to a masterpiece rather than a fully developed work in and of itself.

This misconception can be easily corrected after only one spin of Crescent. Coltrane and his accompanying trio (Jimmy Garrison on bass, Elvin Jones on drums and McCoy Tyner on piano) might be the tightest, most interactive combo in the history of jazz, and Crescent is one of the finest examples of an evolving, breathing jazz ensemble we have on record. Coltrane reaches new heights of melodic and rhythmic subtlety on this disc, and there is no doubt that it is the saxophonist’s show. Nevertheless, each of the other band members not only are essential collaborators and supporters to the leader but are also given their own moments in the spotlight. Notably, Trane doesn’t even take a solo on the record’s entire B side.

Track listing

    "Crescent" – 8:41
    "Wise One" – 9:00
    "Bessie's Blues" – 3:22
    "Lonnie's Lament" – 11:45
    "The Drum Thing" – 7:22


    John Coltrane – tenor saxophone
    McCoy Tyner – piano
    Jimmy Garrison – double bass
    Elvin Jones – drums

Friday, March 13, 2020

McCoy Tyner - 1972 [1987] "Sahara"

Sahara is a 1972 album by jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, his first to be released on the Milestone label. It was recorded in January 1972 and features performances by Tyner with Sonny Fortune, Calvin Hill, and Alphonse Mouzon. The music shows African and Eastern influences and features Tyner playing koto, flute, and percussion in addition to his usual piano.

After the death of John Coltrane, his longtime pianist McCoy Tyner was in something of a musical quandary. Keeping up with his mentor through the incredible explorations of the early '60s, he seemed to have some difficulty navigating the even further out territories explored in the two or three years before Coltrane's death in 1967. His subsequent albums as a leader were solid, enjoyable efforts but seemed oddly retrograde, as though he needed time to settle back and re-digest the information handed down to him. With Sahara, Tyner found the precise perfect "middle ground" on which to stand, more structured than late Coltrane, but exploding with a ferocity and freedom of sound that made it simply one of the greatest jazz recordings of the decade.

None of the other members of his quartet ever sounded so inspired, so liberated as they do here. Sonny Fortune threatens to tear the roof off the joint on more than one occasion, Calvin Hill is more than rock-solid on bass, his roots arcing deeply into the earth, and as for Alphonse Mouzon, well, no one familiar with his later vapid meanderings in fusion would begin to recognize him here, so incendiary is his playing. And Tyner develops so much pure energy, channeled with such pinpoint precision, that one worries about the physical stability of any piano under such an assault.

From the extraordinarily intense "Ebony Queen" through the ruminative solo "A Prayer for My Family, the equally intense "Rebirth," and the concluding, side-long title track, there's not a misstep to be heard. "Sahara," over the course of its 23 minutes, covers vast ground, echoing the majesty and misery of the geographical area with percussion and flute interludes to some of Tyner's very best playing on record. Even something that could have resulted in a mere exercise in exotica, his koto performance on "Valley of Life," exudes both charm and commitment to the form. Tyner would go on to create several fine albums in the mid-'70s, but never again would he scale quite these heights. Sahara is an astonishingly good record and belongs in every jazz fan's collection.

Tyner recorded prolifically for Milestone throughout the 1970s, and produced a number of fine recordings. “Sahara” might be the best. It represents the state of the art for the time of its release, 1972.

The greatest strength of this recording lies in its varied aural landscape. If you want Tyner’s signature thunderous chords and lightning right-hand runs, cue up “Ebony Queen” and “Rebirth.” Need some spiritually rich solo piano? Move to “A Prayer for My Family.” Then try the 23-minute title track, which has his reedman, Sonny Fortune, playing flute, his bassist, Calvin Hill, playing reeds, and the group joining drummer Alphonse Mouzon with various percussion effects. As far from a blowing session as you can get, this extended performance is a well-planned trip across a variety of endlessly fascinating terrains. As if all this isn’t enough, on “Valley of Life,” Tyner picks up a kyoto, a Japanese stringed instrument and produces a delicate impressionistic sketch, aided by Fortune, again on flute.

“Sahara” represents the best that jazz had to offer in the early ’70s. The musicians aren’t afraid to display their chops (Fortune adds blazing soprano and alto sax to his delicate work on flute), but Tyner clearly is intent on finding new territory and expanding the definition of jazz, and he succeeds brilliantly.

As the jazz-fusion frenzy was taking place in the early 70s McCOY TYNER was adapting just a bit differently than his contemporaries. While many were going full-on jazz-rock-fusion, TYNER opted for a different approach. SAHARA takes on a whole new world of hard bop that gets lumped into the world of post bop. It seems TYNER was aiming for a new kind of fusion where he took the hard bop that came before and incorporated many Middle Eastern and African influences into the mix to create something really innovative and fresh. The title of the album and the album cover offer a glimpse into the reality of this album for the SAHARA desert is bleak and unforgiving as is the landscape depicted on the cover where an African-American is sitting in the midst of a seemingly devastated urban landscape and yet despite it all comes up with the inspiration to create one of the most revered jazz albums of all time.

Track listing:

All compositions by McCoy Tyner

  1.  "Ebony Queen" — 9:00
  2.  "A Prayer for My Family" — 4:48
  3.  "Valley of Life" — 5:19
  4.  "Rebirth" — 5:20
  5.  "Sahara" — 23:27


    McCoy Tyner - piano, koto (3), percussion (5), flute (5)
    Sonny Fortune - alto saxophone (4), soprano saxophone (1, 5), flute (3, 5)
    Calvin Hill - bass, reeds (3, 5), percussion (3, 5)
    Alphonse Mouzon - drums, trumpet (5), reeds (5), percussion (3, 5)

Monday, March 9, 2020

McCoy Tyner - 1979 [2005] "Passion Dance"

Recorded live in Tokyo, the great pianist McCoy Tyner performs three of his best originals ("Passion Dance," "Search For Peace" and "Song Of The New World") plus two John Coltrane songs ("Moment's Notice" and "The Promise"). He takes three selections unaccompanied while "Moment's Notice" and "Song Of The New World" are with a trio including bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams. This Lp (long overdue to be reissued on CD) has plenty of fiery and passionate music. All of Tyner's Milestone records of the 1970's are recommended and this is one of the better ones.

I bought my first CD player in 1985 ... and waited 20 years for this spectacular live album to be released on disc. It was worth the wait.

This is one of McCoy Tyner's best recordings. A big part of its appeal is that it's almost entirely solo piano, no horns or strings, so the focus is entirely on Tyner's considerable keyboard skills. (There is a rhythm section that plays on a couple of tracks.) These tracks were recorded live in Japan, and he had a good night. The melodies are powerful and complex, and Tyner's playing has never been more dramatic or effective, particularly in this signature version of "Song of the New World", which concludes the album.

If you're a fan of Tyner's piano playing, this is one you'll want to have in your collection.

Tony lays down some SERIOUS grooves on this record!

Track listing:

1     Moment's Notice     9:21
2     Passion Dance     11:45
3     Search For Peace     6:34
4     The Promise     6:27
5     Song Of The New World     7:14


    Bass – Ron Carter (tracks: A1, B3)
    Composed By – McCoy Tyner (tracks: A2, B1, B3)
    Drums – Tony Williams* (tracks: A1, B3)
    Piano – McCoy Tyner

Monday, March 2, 2020

Jim Hall, Pat Metheny - 1999 "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny"

Jim Hall & Pat Metheny is an album by jazz guitarists Jim Hall and Pat Metheny that was released by Telarc on April 27, 1999. The album contains eleven studio recording tracks and six live tracks.

These two guitarists -- one an elder statesman, the other still a relatively young man in the midst of a stellar career -- are such a natural fit that it's amazing no one's thought of getting them together for a duo album before. Both play with a gentle touch and sweet tone, and both are capable of challenging experimentation, though each have spent most of their time in one mainstream tradition or another (Jim Hall in straight-ahead jazz, Pat Metheny in jazz-rock fusion). On this disc they focus on original compositions (Metheny's "Farmer's Trust" and "Into the Dream," Hall's "Cold Spring" and "Waiting to Dance"), but there are also tunes by Jerome Kern and Steve Swallow as well as the inevitable rendition of "Summertime." Their interplay is nothing short of astounding, and the five improvisational pieces scattered throughout the program sometimes sound as organized as the standards. The mood does get a little bit samey after a while, and the complete lack of high frequencies in both guitarists' tones might leave you wondering if you've got water in your ear. But overall, this really is a wonderful album.

“The presence of Pat Metheny on Jim Hall’s 1998 By Arrangement fulfilled the younger guitarist’s long-standing dream of recording with Hall. But these duets confirm how beautiful their performing together could become. Unlike many encounters between high-profile guitarists, these recordings, from both a New York studio and a Pittsburgh concert, show no sense of competition or interest in displays of empty virtuosity. Instead, the CD’s 1 to the enduring spirit of Hall’s music, emphasizing interaction and a subtle complexity. Hall plays the lightly amplified electric guitar that is his trademark, with a gorgeous liquid tone, while Metheny brings a bevy of instruments to the meeting, including a standard electric (no synth), several acoustics – including a fretless classical – and his 42-string model for some remarkably harplike effects. There’s tremendous variety in the music and thought in the choices of tunes and approaches. “The Birds and the Bees,” played in memory of its composer, the late guitarist Attila Zoller, has a haunting depth, while the frequently played “Summertime” achieves a new identity in Metheny’s arrangement, with spare and vibrant lead contrasting with animated rhythm guitar. Both musicians are adept composers, and highlights include Metheny’s “Ballad X” and Hall’s increasingly propulsive “Cold Spring.” Given that Hall participated in one of the first recorded examples of free improvisation, “Free Form” with the Chico Hamilton Quintet in 1955, and Metheny has recorded with the British avant-gardist Derek Bailey, it’s fitting that the two guitarists test the limits of their empathy in five brief and intriguing collective improvisations that sometimes explore unusual textures and microtonal harmonies. Whatever the material, though, the earmarks of the set are a quiet energy and a sustained lyric invention that invite and reward repeated listenings. The recording quality is superb, capturing every nuance of this music that seems to live near the core of the jazz guitar ethos.”

When guitarists Jim Hall and Pat Metheny discussed what they'd play during their first recording sessions together, a number of ideas were tossed around. At one point, Metheny suggested they play some of the bossa nova songs that helped Hall build his reputation back in the '60s. "We agreed that we would do some 'free' things instead," says Hall. "That was mostly through my pushing because I didn't want to do all Jobim tunes - which I love, but they've been done for 30 years." In the end, five free improvisations were recorded, four tunes from Metheny's songbook, four from Hall's, and four standards, all of which can be heard on Telarc's new Jim Hall & Pat Metheny.

Track listing:

All tracks are written by Pat Metheny and Jim Hall except where noted.

01.    "Lookin' Up" (Hall)    Studio    4:34
02.    "All the Things You Are" (Oscar Hammerstein II/Jerome Kern)    Live    6:58
03.    "The Birds and the Bees" (Attila Zoller)    Live    5:04
04.    "Improvisation, No. 1"    Studio    1:05
05.    "Falling Grace" (Steve Swallow)    Studio    4:39
06.    "Ballad Z" (Metheny)    Studio    4:33
07.    "Summertime" (Gershwin/Heyward)    Live    5:35
08.    "Farmer's Trust" (Metheny/Mays)    Live    5:29
09.    "Cold Spring" (Hall)    Live    6:29
10.    "Improvisation, No. 2"    Studio    1:11
11.    "Into the Dream" (Metheny)    Studio    3:05
12.    "Don't Forget" (Metheny)    Studio    4:46
13.    "Improvisation, No. 3"    Studio    3:22
14.    "Waiting to Dance" (Hall)    Studio    4:38
15.    "Improvisation, No. 4"    Studio    2:37
16.    "Improvisation, No. 5"    Studio    2:08
17.    "All Across the City" (Hall)    Live    7:34

    Jim Hall is featured on the left channel, Pat Metheny to the right.


    Jim Hall – electric guitar
    Pat Metheny – electric, acoustic, fretless acoustic, and 42-string Pikasso guitar

Friday, February 28, 2020

Gateway - 1995 "Homecoming"

Homecoming is an album by Gateway, a trio composed of John Abercrombie, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. It was recorded in 1994 and released on the ECM label in 1995 and is the trio's first album since Gateway 2 in 1978. 

The Gateway Trio is a cooperative in the greatest sense of the word, as guitarist John Abercrombie, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Jack DeJohnette are all respected players, composers, and bandleaders on the jazz scene. Even though this only the third Gateway recording and the group's first in 17 years, each group member collaborates frequently with the others. As a result there is always a great sense of interplay between Abercrombie's sometimes-mellow-sometimes-distorted guitar, Holland's huge toned bass, and DeJohnette's dancing drums. All of the compositions are by the band members and are wide-ranging in scope. Highlights include the title track, which begins as a medium swinger but drifts into collective improvisation before coming back to medium swing, Modern Times, with its melody reminiscent of "Yesterdays" over a samba feel, the rockish "How's Never" and "7th D," what one might call a "free blues." This is a fine return to recording for a great group".

Track listing:

    "Homecoming" (Holland) - 12:37
    "Waltz New" (Abercrombie) - 8:32
    "Modern Times" (Holland) - 7:31
    "Calypso Falto" (Abercrombie) - 7:46
    "Short Cut" (Abercrombie) - 6:12
    "How's Never" (Holland) - 7:34
    "In Your Arms" (Holland) - 5:48
    "7th D" (DeJohnette) - 9:30
    "Oneness" (DeJohnette) - 7:43


    John Abercrombie: guitar
    Jack DeJohnette: drums, piano
    Dave Holland: bass

Monday, February 24, 2020

Randy Brecker - 1968 [2002] "Score"

Score is the debut album by American jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker recorded in 1969 and originally released on the Solid State label. Randy Brecker's debut album features the trumpeter leading two distinct all-star small groups, each with younger brother Michael (who was only 19 when this was recorded) on tenor sax, Larry Coryell on guitar, and Hal Galper on piano. The tunes alternate between jazz-rock (a style the Brecker Brothers were later to successfully exploit) and modern mainstream jazz. There are the customary fades, popular at the time, and a light, though constant, beat throughout that makes the music both accessible and even danceable, an impressive feat considering that virtually all the tunes are originals. The Brecker Brothers exhibit a command of their horns and a maturity that was to serve them well for many years. The recording has weathered the years well, in part because even the fusion pieces never lose their focus, nor do they compromise artistry for popular fads. "The Weasel Goes Out to Lunch" is a cute, though very short, take on the childhood theme, with the remaining tracks fine examples of late-'60s popular jazz. With well-constructed arrangements, strong soloing, and catchy melodies, Brecker knew he was onto something, and this album was the first of several successful ventures.

Born in 1945 in Philadelphia to a musical family, Randy's musical talent was nurtured from an early age. He attended Indiana University from 1963-66 and later moved to New York where he landed gigs with such prominent Jazz bands as Clark Terry's Big Band. Randy also began his foray into jazz-rock by joining Blood, Sweat and Tears. Randy left BS&T to join the Horace Silver Quintet. In 1968, Randy recorded his first album, "Score", featuring a young, then unknown 19 year-old tenor saxophonist named Michael Brecker.
In the early 1970s, Randy played with many prominent artists such as Larry Coryell, Stevie Wonder and Billy Cobham. By 1975, Randy and Michael were ready to front their own band, the Brecker Brothers. The band was to become a band of immeasurable influence and impact. They went on to record a total of six albums and garner seven Grammy nominations between 1975 and 1981.
In 1992, exactly ten years after they disbanded, Randy and Michael joined forces again featuring a world tour and the triple-Grammy nominated GRP recording, "The Return of the Brecker Brothers". In the fall of 1994, the Brecker Brothers released the double-Grammy winning "Out of the Loop".
Randy released his CD for ESC, "34th n' Lex," in 2003 and this CD also brought him his third Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz Album."
In 2007 he was awarded his fourth Grammy for "Randy Brecker Live with the WDR Big Band". In the same year, tragically, his brother Michael passed away on Jan 13th.
Randy's CD, "Randy in Brazil," was recorded in Sao Paulo with a full complement of great Brazilian musicians and released in 2008 and the CD won the Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz Album," bringing Randy's Grammy total to five.

Track listing:

All compositions by Randy Brecker except where noted

"Bangalore" – 4:34
"Score" (Hal Galper) – 7:17
"Name Game" (Galper) – 5:14
"The Weasel Goes Out to Lunch" (traditional) – 1:21
"Morning Song" – 4:09
"Pipe Dream" – 4:33
"The Vamp" (Galper) – 5:14
"The Marble Sea" – 5:44


Randy Brecker – trumpet, flugelhorn, arranger
Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone
Jerry Dodgion – alto flute
Larry Coryell – guitar
Hal Galper – piano, electric piano, arranger
Eddie Gómez – bass
Chuck Rainey – Fender bass
Bernard Purdie, Mickey Roker - drums

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Brecker Brothers - 2012 "The Complete Arista Albums Collection" [8 CD Box]

The Brecker Brothers -- Michael and Randy -- were one of the most successful of the jazz/fusion groups that arose in the 1970s, recording 6 best-selling albums for Arista between 1975 and 1981. Musicians on the records make a jazz/fusion hall of fame including David Sanborn, Steve Gadd, Will Lee, Harvey Mason, Marcus Miller, George Duke, and many more. In 1979 they also participated in all-star shows at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The band was Steve Khan, Tony Levin, Mike Mainieri and Steve Jordan. These two albums are included here as bonuses. None of these albums have ever been released on CD in the U.S.
Randy Brecker contributes liner notes to the set which also includes full discographical info. and rare photos.
The Brecker Bros. have reunited as The Brecker Brothers Reunion Band-- with excellent Italian saxophonist Ada Rovatti keeping it in the family (she is Randy s wife) and ably filling the late Michael's role -- for an all-new studio recording of new material, featuring David Sanborn, Mike Stern, Dave Weckl, and Will Lee (to be released in September).
A new Brecker Bros. Reunion live DVD from the Blue Note jazz club will also be released. Both new releases are on Half Note Records, the label of The Blue Note Jazz club in New York, which will sponsor a record release show the week of Sept. 11-18 in New York. The band will be playing major jazz festivals in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Randy s own profile at the moment is very high. He received 3 Grammy nominations this year.

Trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Michael Brecker had already shared the bandstand and logged plenty of studio time together before they formed The Brecker Brothers. The siblings stood as a team with Horace Silver s hard bop ensemble, the proto-fusion unit Dreams, and Billy Cobham's early Crosswinds band, as well as on myriad studio dates for a panoply of artists from James Taylor to Parliament.

By 1975 it was time for them to make their own mark. Gathering together some of the cream of the studio players that they were spending considerable time with, including saxophonist David Sanborn and bassist Will Lee, the brothers formed a tight combo that would integrate their taste for jazz, fusion, R&B, funk and pop. Right out of the box, they garnered a hit single, "Sneakin' Up Behind You," from their debut recording, Brecker Brothers, which also included the emblematic "Some Skunk Funk."

Subsequent albums saw name players like guitarists Steve Khan and Hiram Bullock, keyboardist George Duke, bassist Marcus Miller and vocalist Luther Vandross making vital contributions. No matter how commercially oriented the music might veer, the solid playing of both Randy and Michael could be heard. On such albums as the live recordings, Heavy Metal Bebop and the special project Blue Montreux, the brothers fully displayed their extraordinary technical skills and gutsy phrasing. Combining jazz chops and R&B seasoning, both of the Breckers became important stylistic influences on their respective horns.

In retrospect, the Brecker Brothers can be seen as dashing heroes, unafraid to follow wherever their muse lead them no matter what straight-laced critics objected to. From today's eclectic viewpoint, their up front blend of jazz and outright pop sounds was not only ahead of the curve, it was right up to the minute.

This 8 cd box set was a collection I have always hoped would be released.The Brecker Brothers have always been favorites of mine and this set captures the history of the brothers musically. It was during this period that Michael Brecker really grew and developed his style. Any fan of funky jazz and rock influenced jazz will love this release. The last 2 discs of the collection are of live recordings at Montreux Jazz festival in 1978 and I love the collaboration of the Breckers with Mike Maineri, Eddie Gomez and Larry Coryell. The Collection features so many great players in modern jazz from an early standpoint, Will Lee and David Sanborn and many others. This collection is truly a piece of modern jazz history. So thankful that Randy Brecker put this collection together. I love listening to these albums. It brings back so many memories and musically much of the tracks are still fresh today (especially on the album "Detente"). The loss of Michael Brecker a few years ago, definitely left a huge hole in the jazz world. This collection definitely helps to to remember one of the greatest tenor players ever.

In 2001, the Brecker Brothers' Arista releases were reissued on CD by the One Way label, but the discs quickly went out of print. French and Japanese reissues surfaced toward the end of the decade, but this box set from Sony's Legacy division makes them easy to obtain in the U.S. -- that is, if you're willing to shell out for an eight-disc box, priced around $60 at the time of its September 2012 release. The discs are in durable LP replica sleeves, though they are not as high quality as a standard Japanese reissue. All-original artwork, front sleeve and back sleeve, is reproduced, and there's a booklet as well. The set contains not only each one of the Breckers' 1975-1980 Arista releases (The Brecker Bros., Back to Back, Don't Stop the Music, Heavy Metal Be-Bop, Détente, and Straphangin') but the two Blue Montreux releases from 1979 as well. At the time of release, each one of the Brecker titles here (neither Blue Montreux nor Blue Montreux II) was available separately as a digital download.

CD's Included in Box Set:
1) The Brecker Brothers (Arista 1975)
2) Back To Back (Arista 1976)
3) Don't Stop The Music (Arista 1977)
4) Heavy Metal Be-Bop (Arista 1978)
5) Detente (Arista 1980)
6) Straphangin' (Arista 1981)
7) Blue Montreux (Arista 1979)
8) Blue Montreux II (Arista 1979)

Track Listings:

Disc: 1

The Brecker Brothers

  1. Some Skunk Funk
  2. Sponge
  3. A Creature of Many Faces
  4. Twilight
  5. Sneakin' Up Behind You
  6. Rocks
  7. Levitate
  8. Oh My Stars
  9. D.B.B.


    Randy Brecker – trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals on "Oh My Stars"
    Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone
    David Sanborn – alto saxophone
    Don Grolnick – keyboards
    Bob Mann – guitar
    Will Lee – bass, vocals on "Sneakin’ up Behind You"
    Harvey Mason – drums
    Chris Parker – drums on "Sneakin’ up Behind You"
    Ralph MacDonald – percussion

Disc: 2

Back To Back

  1. Keep It Steady (Brecker Bump)
  2. If You Wanna Boogie...Forget It
  3. Lovely Lady
  4. Night Flight
  5. Slick Stuff
  6. Dig a Little Deeper
  7. Grease Piece
  8. What Can a Miracle Do
  9. I Love Wastin' Time with You


    Randy Brecker – trumpet, electric trumpet, flugelhorn
    Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone, flute
    David Sanborn – alto saxophone
    Don Grolnick – keyboards
    Steve Khan – guitar
    Will Lee – bass, lead vocals
    Chris Parker – drums
    Steve Gadd – drums (4, 9)
    Ralph MacDonald – percussion
    Sammy Figueroa – percussion (4)
    Rafael Cruz – percussion (4)
    Lew Del Gatto – baritone saxophone (2)
    David Friedman – marimba (6)
    Dave Whitman – synthesizer programmer
    Patti Austin – background vocals (9)
    Allee Willis – background vocals (9)
    Luther Vandross – vocals, vocals arrangement
    Robin Clark – vocals
    Diane Sumler – vocals

Disc: 3

Don't Stop The Music

  1. Finger Lickin' Good
  2. Funky Sea, Funky Dew
  3. As Long As I've Got Your Love
  4. Squids
  5. Don't Stop The Music
  6. Petals
  7. Tabula Rasa


    Randy Brecker – trumpet, flugelhorn, electric trumpet
    Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone, flute
    Will Lee – bass
    Don Grolnick – keyboards
    Doug Riley – keyboards
    Steve Khan – guitar, 12-string guitar
    Jerry Friedman – guitar (1, 5)
    Sandy Torano – guitar (1, 3)
    Hiram Bullock – guitar (2, 3, 4, 6)
    Chris Parker – drums
    Steve Gadd – drums (4, 6)
    Lenny White – drums (7)
    Ralph MacDonald – percussion
    Sammy Figueroa – congas (7)
    Doug and Beverly Billard – background vocals (3)
    Will Lee, Christine Faith, Robin Clark, Josh Brown – background vocals
    Horn Section
        Lou Marini – alto sax
        Alan Rubin – trumpet
        Randy Brecker – trumpet
        David Taylor – bass trombone
        Barry Rogers – trombone
        Michael Brecker – tenor sax
        Lew Del Gatto – baritone sax
    String Section
        Aaron Rosand, Guy Lumia, Paul Gershman, Harry Lookofsky, Sanford Allen, Ariana Bronne, Harold Kohon, Matthew Raimondi, Peter Dimitriades – violins
        Lamar Alsop, Richard Maximoff, Alfred Brown – violas
        Jesse Levy, Richard Locker – cellos

Disc: 4

Heavy Metal Be-Bop

  1. East River
  2. Inside Out
  3. Some Skunk Funk
  4. Sponge (Live Version)
  5. Funky Sea, Funky Dew (Live Version)
  6. Squids (Live Version)


    Randy Brecker – Trumpet and Keyboards
    Michael Brecker – Tenor Saxophone
    Barry Finnerty – guitars, guitorganiser, background vocals
    Terry Bozzio – drums, background vocals
    Neil Jason – bass, lead vocals
    Sammy Figueroa – percussion
    Rafael Cruz – percussion
    Additional musicians on "East River"
        Kash Monet – handclaps, percussion, backing vocals
        Paul Shaffer – Fender Rhodes
        Victoria – tambourine
        Jeff Schoen – backing vocals
        Roy Herring – backing vocals
        Allan Schwartzberg – drums
        Bob Clearmountain – handclaps

Disc: 5


  1. You Ga (Ta Give It) - The Brecker Brothers feat. D.J. Rogers & Carl Carlwell
  2. Not Tonight - The Brecker Brothers feat. Carl Carlwell
  3. Don't Get Funny With My Money
  4. Tee'd Off
  5. You Left Something Behind
  6. Squish
  7. Dream Theme
  8. Baffled
  9. I Don't Know Either


    Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone, flute
    Randy Brecker – trumpet, flugelhorn
    Airto Moreira – percussion
    Hiram Bullock – guitar
    Paulinho Da Costa – percussion
    Steve Gadd – drums
    Mark Gray – keyboards
    Don Grolnick – keyboards
    Neil Jason – bass
    Steve Jordan – drums
    Ralph MacDonald – percussion
    Marcus Miller – bass
    Jeff Mironov – guitar
    D.J. Rogers – vocals
    David Spinozza – guitar
    Carl Carlwell – vocals

Disc: 6


  1. Straphangin'
  2. Threesome
  3. Bathsheba
  4. Jacknife
  5. Why Can't I Be There
  6. Not Ethiopia
  7. Spreadeagle


    Randy Brecker – trumpet, flugelhorn
    Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone
    Barry Finnerty – guitar
    Mark Gray – keyboards
    Marcus Miller – bass
    Richie Morales – drums
    Don Alias – percussion
    Manolo Badrena – percussion

Disc: 7

Blue Montreux

  1. Blue Montreux - Arista All Stars
  2. Rocks - Arista All Stars
  3. I'm Sorry - Arista All Stars
  4. Magic Carpet - Arista All Stars
  5. Buds - Arista All Stars
  6. Floating - Arista All Stars
  7. The Virgin And The Gypsy - Arista All Stars


Guitar – Steve Khan (tracks: 1-6), larry Coryell (tracks: 2)
Tenor Saxophone – Michael Brecker (tracks: 1-3, 5-6)
Trumpet – Randy Brecker (tracks: 1,2,5-7)
Vibraphone, Synthesizer [Oberheim] – Mike Mainieri
Bass – Eddie Gomez (tracks: 1-6)
Bass, Chapman Stick – Tony Levin (tracks: 1-6)
Drums – Steve Jordan (tracks: 1-6)
Piano, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Keyboards – Warren Bernhardt

Disc: 8

Blue Montreux II

  1. Funky Waltz - Arista All Stars
  2. Candles - Arista All Stars
  3. Uptown Ed - Arista All Stars
  4. Love Play - Arista All Stars
  5. Cloud Motion - Arista All Stars


    Acoustic Bass – Eddie Gomez (tracks: A3)
    Drums – Steve Jordan
    Electric Bass – Tony Levin (tracks: A2, B1, B2)
    Electric Bass [Electric Stick] – Tony Levin (tracks: A1)
    Electric Guitar – Steve Khan (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2)
    Electric Guitar, Soloist – Larry Coryell (tracks: A1)
    Keyboards – Warren Bernhardt (tracks: A2, B1, B2)
    Percussion – Mike Mainieri (tracks: A2)
    Piano – Warren Bernhardt (tracks: A1, A3)
    Saxophone – Michael Brecker (tracks: B2)
    Soprano Saxophone – Michael Brecker (tracks: A2)
    Synthesizer [Mini-moog] – Mike Mainieri (tracks: B1)
    Synthesizer [Synthe-vibe] – Mike Mainieri (tracks: B1)
    Tenor Saxophone – Michael Brecker (tracks: A1, A3)
    Trumpet – Randy Brecker (tracks: A1, B2)
    Vibraphone [Electric] – Mike Mainieri (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B2)