Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Guitarist Larry Coryell recorded several sessions for the Vanguard label during the '70s with varying results. He did manage two classics, Spaces, and this one, The Restful Mind. It is no small coincidence that the better the personnel he surrounded himself with, the better he played. On Spaces, the presence of John McLaughlin and Chick Corea raised his playing to another level. Here, with the backing of the group Oregon (with the exception of Paul McCandless), who were also signed to Vanguard at this time), bring out a more reflective and relaxed Coryell. His tendency to fall back on his chops was always a weak spot in his playing, but it is thankfully absent here. Both of the "Improvisation" pieces are highlights in Coryell's career, which along with the other beaufitul selections, make this one of his best, and certainly most overlooked, recordings.
I had gotten into Larry Coryell through John McLaughlin and the first Coryell CD I bought was the fusion classic, "Spaces". This album is still known as Coryell's best, simply because of the musicians that played with him on the album - McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Miroslav Vitous, Chick Corea (one track only) - each one a fusion giant. But it is "Restful Mind" that I find myself playing constantly, over and over again.
This album is more of an acoustic setting and features the great group Oregon - Collin Walcott, Ralph Towner, and Glen Moore (no Paul McCandless though)as Larry's backing musicians. They are a jazz band but with more of a world music flavor to them. Their playing along with Coryell's is exquisite to say the least.
All the tracks are excellent but it is "Ann Arbor" and "Song for Jim Webb" that really stand out. The album is very short at only 36 minutes but it is 36 minutes that will keep you enthralled.
I have read that Coryell has done many mediocre and forgettable stuff in his career, but when he was placed with talented musicians like John McLaughlin or the guys in Oregon, he always raised his playing to another level. This album is a perfect example of this statement.
If you like jazz whether acoustic or fusion (or both like me) or just great guitar, you will fall in love with this album like I did.
Larry Coryell's "Resful Mind" is a classic of the mid-70s that has recently been reissued on CD. I've returned to the recording at this point becuase it really exemplifies a new, broader, notion of fusion, almost exclusively ACOUSTIC. Larry is joined here by Oregon (Ralph Towner, Colin Walcott, and Glenn Moore). The music draws on everything from Classical to Country. Perhaps the most famous track to emerge from these sessions is "Julie La Belle" with its groovy stomp and rude twang. The coda to this tune as well as the concluding solo piece "Restful Mind" are mesmerizing. I'd also add that "The Restful Mind" has a coherence and SPIRIT that breathes throughout the record and that gives it a special identity. "Ann Arbor" and "Song for Jim Webb" are outstanding examples of Coryell's artistry.
I have waited years for the CD version of this old album. Now wonderfully remasterd, the playing is magical: incredibly soft passages followed by fire. Technically precise, but full of emotion. My favorite is perhaps Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess," but all the numbers are terrific. And, despite its title, this CD rocks. For Coryell fans, a "must-have." For me, a desert-island disc. Really, really superb!
1. Improvisation On Robert De Visee's Menuet II (8:13)
2. Ann Arbor (5:01)
3. Pavane For A Dead Princess (5:40)
4. Improvisation On Robert De Visee's Sarabande (5:20)
5. Song For Jim Webb (3:15)
6. Julie La Belle (4:07)
7. Restful Mind (3:12)
Total Time: 36:22
Larry Coryell – acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Ralph Towner – guitar
Glen Moore – double bass
Collin Walcott – congas, tabla
Posted by Crimhead420 at 7:32 PM
Saturday, March 16, 2019
The track "Friday the 13th" was recorded in November 1953 with a quintet of Monk, Rollins, Julius Watkins, Percy Heath, and Willie Jones; the September 1954 recordings are of a trio with Monk, Heath, and Art Blakey; and the October 1954 session Monk and Rollins again with bassist Tommy Potter and drummer Art Taylor. Of the three Monk originals, "Friday the 13th" was written in the studio during the recording session, released as a ten-minute jam to fill out the album's running time. Monk would return to "Nutty" again and again through his career, but this was his only recording of the composition "Work."
This disc contains an all-star cast headed up by Thelonious Monk (piano) and includes some collaborative efforts with Sonny Rollins (tenor sax) that go beyond simply inspired and into a realm of musical telepathy.
The five tunes included on Work are derived from three separate sessions held between November of 1953 and September of the following year. As is often the case, this likewise means that there are three distinct groups of musicians featured. Whether by design or happenstance, the tracks compiled for this EP present Monk in the favorable confines and settings of smaller combos, ranging from the intimacy of the Percy Heath (bass) and Art Blakey (drums) trio on "Nutty" as well as the equally grooving title track. Both utilize Monk's uncanny and distinct sense of melody and are conspicuous for Blakey's rollicking percussive contributions -- which, at times, become thrust between Monk's disjointed chord work.
The larger quartet and quintet settings are equally as inventive, retaining the highly inventive atmosphere. However, the undeniable highlight is the interaction between Monk and Rollins. Leading off the disc is a definitive and freewheeling reading of the pop standard "The Way You Look Tonight." Equally as scintillating is "I Want to Be Happy," both of which are also highlighted by Art Taylor (drums) and Tommy Potter (bass). They provide a supple and unencumbered framework for the soloists to weave their inimitable and often contrasting contributions.
The final track is the beautifully dissonant and extended "Friday the Thirteenth," which is ironically the first fortuitous collaboration between the two co-leads. Rollins is able to entwine a sinuous lead throughout Monk's contrasting chord counterpoint. Enthusiasts seeking additional tracks from these and the remainder of Monk's sessions during his brief residency with Prestige should consider the suitably titled four-CD Complete Prestige Recordings compilation.
To begin with, the title is deceptive. Rollins and Monk play together on three of the five tracks on the album, which comprises three separate sessions recorded between November 1953 and September 1954. On the opening "Way You Look Tonight Monk's solo is a mere half chorus—played in a fairly conventional bebop style. This leaves but two tunes, "I Want to Be Happy and "Friday the 13th, on which the two strong musical personalities seek to negotiate a happy result.
The individualist/pianist solos for three choruses, each discretely original in conception and execution. After a chorus of connected, seamless lines played in the middle register, he leaps to the upper register for the second chorus, jabbing dissonant chord clusters at irregular intervals in the unfilled space. The third chorus finds him relinquishing his left hand to its independent devices while maintaining an elliptical melody in the right. Always an authoritative solo voice, Rollins seems emboldened by Monk's example, playing with unmistakable conviction, especially compared to his work on an earlier session like Miles Davis' Diggin' (Prestige, 1951), where the tenorist clearly was aiming to make an impression.
Still, after hearing the Monk/Coltrane concert this encounter is inescapably anticlimactic. Rollins, whose playing anticipates some of the melodic/rhythmic characteristics of his successor Charlie Rouse, lacks the light articulations and responsive quickness of the less-renowned player. Compared to Rouse's sportive playfulness, the tenor colossus sounds somewhat heavy and ponderous in Monk country. On the other hand, Coltrane's intensity meshes with Monk's whimsy because the piano "grounds the rapturous, altissimo flights of the tenor saxophone, as though Monk's insistent harmonies and unyielding time are the falconer around which the falcon's gyres are free to expend themselves without spiraling out of control.
All compositions by Thelonious Monk except where noted.
1. "The Way You Look Tonight" (Dorothy Fields, Jerome Kern) – 5:13
2. "I Want to Be Happy" (Irving Caesar, Vincent Youmans) – 7:43
3. "Work" – 5:18
4. "Nutty" – 5:16
5. "Friday the 13th" – 10:32
Thelonious Monk – piano trio on "Work" and "Nutty"
Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone on "The Way You Look Tonight," "I Want to Be Happy," and "Friday the 13th"
Julius Watkins – french horn on "Friday the 13th"
Percy Heath – bass on "Work," "Nutty," and "Friday the 13th"
Tommy Potter – bass on "The Way You Look Tonight" and "I Want to Be Happy
Art Taylor – drums on "The Way You Look Tonight" and "I Want to Be Happy"
Art Blakey – drums on "Work" and "Nutty"
Willie Jones – drums on "Friday the 13th"
Posted by Crimhead420 at 8:57 PM
The second of two long-overdue recordings by the Tonight Show Band has its moments, but its reliance on swing-era warhorses and the generally predictable arrangements (Bill Holman's reworkings of "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise," "Take the 'A' Train," and "Serenade in Blue" are exceptions) are disappointments. However, there is some excellent solo space for trumpeters Doc Severinsen, Snooky Young, and Conte Candoli; tenors Pete Christlieb and Ernie Watts; and pianist Ross Tompkins. Since this legendary big band recorded so little (just three albums for Amherst), all are worth picking up.
Like so many people, I was greatly saddened to hear of the passing of the great Johnny Carson. In college, I bought the first Tonight Show Band album (well, I like all kinds of music, including jazz!! :)) and I was blown away by how great the band was. Wow. I never knew a follow-up album was released within a year.
Like the first album, this is swing music. However, for those that don't remember the Tonight Show, the band was made up of accomplished studio players who can really suuuuwwwwiiinnngggg. The band was a counterpoint in a way for the jazz generation, as was the NBC Orchestra of the 30's and 40's was for classical music. In fact, the point of the Tonight Show Orchestra was meant to be, I believe, an ironic comment on the sounds of the WWII generation.
At any rate, the Band on this show was very tight and the musicianship evident here and on the first album is outstanding.
The arrangements here are for the most part very good. Stand out tracks?...well, I believe the whole darn album is excellent. However, "In the Mood,' 'Georgia on My Mind,' 'April in Paris' 'Stardust' and 'Jumpin at the Woodside' are all great. Frankly, if you enjoy swing music and/jazz these albums are a great choice. Doc is one hell of a great trumpeter. Wow, he can cook. What else can you want? Great music and these musicians adds up to one great album.
In listening to this album, it isn't much of a stretch to say that the bands now such as the Late Show Orchestra with Paul Shaffer (GREAT rock studio musicians) and the current Tonight Show (actually, I don't really believe this band(and the current show) is all that great) are not as good. However, the TSO was just a great swing band at the height of their abilities. WOW. The Tonight Show was on TV with Carson for a reason - because the parts were better than we thought. Johnny (Sis-BOOM-Bah), Ed (Hi-oh) and Doc (I love these threads) we MISS you so much!
This was the best (creme de la creme) big band performing at the time. Doc was at his peak
and the band members were some of the top musicians in US. The jazz arrangements were innovative and today still sound fresh. This is one of my all-time favorite albums. It was a very special time for musicians and I miss this band. Doc's trumpet sound will always be an inspiration to trumpet players worldwide. If you are a big band 'afficionado', this is a must buy - you won't be disappointed!
01 In The Mood 3:34
02 The Jersey Bounce 4:09
03 Georgia On My Mind 3:57
04 The World Is Waiting For Sunrise 2:56
05 Airmail Special 2:36
06 April In Paris 3:30
07 Stardust 5:19
08 Take The "A" Train 3:07
09 Do Nothing 'Till You Hear From Me 2:45
10 Serenade In Blue 2:38
11 Hamp's Boogie Woogie 3:38
12 Jumpin' At The Woodside 3:41
Alto Saxophone [Lead], Flute, Clarinet – Tommy Newsom
Alto Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet – Bill Perkins, John Bambridge
Baritone Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet – Don Ashworth
Bass – Joel DiBartolo
Bass Trombone – Ernie Tack
Drums – Ed Shaughnessy
Guitar – Bob Bain, Peter Woodford
Piano – Ross Tompkins
Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet – Ernie Watts, Pete Christlieb
Trombone – Bruce Paulson
Trombone [Lead] – Gil Falco
Trumpet [Lead], Flugelhorn – John Audino
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Allen Vizzutti, Conte Candoli, Snooky Young*, Maurey Harris
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Conductor – Doc Severinsen
Posted by Crimhead420 at 8:24 PM
It received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Music. However, Marsalis's victory was controversial because according to the Pulitzer guidelines, his work was not eligible. Although a winning work was supposed to have had its first performance during that year, Marsalis' piece premiered on April 1, 1994 and its recording, released on Columbia Records, was dated 1995. Yet, the piece won the 1997 prize. Marsalis' management had submitted a "revised version" of "Blood on the Fields" which was "premiered" at Yale University after the composer made seven small changes. When asked what would make a revised work eligible, the chairman of that year's music jury, Robert Ward, said: "Not a cut here and there...or a slight revision," but rather something that changed "the whole conception of the piece." After being read the list of revisions that were made to the piece, Ward acknowledged that the minor changes should not have qualified it as eligible, but he said that "the list you had here was not available to us, and we did not discuss it."
Risk exposing your ears to the first notes of BLOOD ON THE FIELDS, hear the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra wail through “Calling the Indians Out,” the opening invocation to the spirit of the first people whose blood soaked American soil in the long, painful birth of the American republic, and you’ll sit spellbound to the echo of the last note of Wynton Marsalis’s epic oratorio on slavery and freedom. Telling the story of two slaves, Jesse and Leona, it carries us along on their difficult journey to freedom, a journey in which they, and by implication all of us, must move beyond a preoccupation with personal power and learn that true freedom is, and must be, shared. BLOOD ON THE FIELDS premiered on April 1, 1994 in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall; in 1997 it became the first jazz composition to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Music.
The music on this three-CD set (released in 1997) won a Pulitzer Prize, but it's not without its faults. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis tells the story of two Africans (singers Miles Griffith and Cassandra Wilson) who are captured, brought to the United States and sold as slaves. Because the male had formerly been a prince while the female had been a commoner, he considers himself to be her superior. He asks for but then ignores the advice of a wise man (Jon Hendricks), gets caught trying to escape, discovers what "soul" is, finally accepts the female as his equal and eventually escapes with her to freedom. Marsalis wrote a dramatic, episodic and generally thought-provoking three-hour work, utilizing the three singers plus 15 other musicians (all of whom have significant musical parts to play) in a massive 27-part suite. Hendricks is delightful (and the star of the catchiest piece, "Juba and a O'Brown Squaw"), Wilson has rarely sounded better, and Griffith keeps up with the better-known singers, while the musicians (particularly trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, baritonist James Carter, pianist Eric Reed and, near the work's conclusion, violinist Michael Ward in addition to Marsalis) are quite superb. It should, however, be mentioned that the use of group narration to tell parts of the story does not work that well, the music could have used a stronger and more complicated story (the last hour has very little action), and few of the themes are at all memorable; Marsalis in the mid-'90s was a more talented arranger than composer (despite Stanley Crouch's absurd raving in the liner notes). But as is true of all of Wynton Marsalis' recordings, this one deserves several close listenings.
Calling the Indians Out
You Don't Hear No Drums
The Market Place
Soul for Sale
Plantation Coffle March
Work Song (Blood on the Fields)
Oh We Have a Friend in Jesus
God Don't Like Ugly
Juba and a O'Brown Squaw
Follow the Drinking Gourd
My Soul Fell Down
What a Fool I've Been
Back to Basics
I Hold Out My Hand
Look and See
The Sun Is Gonna Shine
Will the Sun Come Out?
The Sun Is Gonna Shine
Chant to Call the Indians Out
Calling the Indians Out
Follow the Drinking Gourd
Freedom Is in the Trying
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet, oratory vocal
Jon Hendricks – vocal
Cassandra Wilson – vocal
Miles Griffith – vocal
Roger Ingram – lead trumpet, oratory vocal
Marcus Printup – second trumpet, oratory vocal
Russell Gunn – third trumpet, oratory vocal
Ron Westray – lead trombone, oratory vocal
Wayne Goodman – second trombone, oratory vocal
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone and tuba, oratory vocal
Walter Blanding – soprano saxophone, oratory vocal
Wes Anderson – lead alto saxophone, oratory vocal
Robert Stewart – lead tenor saxophone, oratory vocal
Victor Goines – tenor, soprano saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet, oratory vocal
James Carter – baritone saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet, oratory vocal
Regina Carter – violin, oratory vcal
Michael Ward – violin, oratory vocal
Eric Reed – piano, oratory vocal
Reginald Veal – bass, oratory vocal
Herlin Riley – drums, tambourine, oratory vocal
Posted by Crimhead420 at 8:06 PM
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
The album was recorded on January 20, 1963 by an eleven-piece band. Mingus has called the album's orchestral style "ethnic folk-dance music". Mingus's perfectionism led to extensive use of studio overdubbing techniques. The album features liner notes written by Mingus and his then-psychotherapist, Edmund Pollock. The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is often characterized by jazz and music critics as one of Mingus's two major masterworks (the other being Mingus Ah Um) and has frequently ranked highly on lists of the best albums of all time.
Bob Hammer was co-orchestrator and arranger for the album. In the book The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History of the Music in the 1000 Best Albums, Sue Mingus says: "In some fashion, Charles absorbed Bob Hammer's rehearsal band for a six-weeks gig he had at the Village Vanguard in 1963, which provided a unique opportunity to work out, night after night, one of his greatest compositions, The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady". In the book Mingus Speaks, arranger Sy Johnson recollects: "Bob Hammer was very successful at that. He's a piano player, who was around here, in 1962 or something like that, when he did Mingus's masterpiece, as far as I concerned, a brilliant piece of orchestration and brilliant performance of The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady".
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is one of the greatest achievements in orchestration by any composer in jazz history. Charles Mingus consciously designed the six-part ballet as his magnum opus, and -- implied in his famous inclusion of liner notes by his psychologist -- it's as much an examination of his own tortured psyche as it is a conceptual piece about love and struggle. It veers between so many emotions that it defies easy encapsulation; for that matter, it can be difficult just to assimilate in the first place. Yet the work soon reveals itself as a masterpiece of rich, multi-layered texture and swirling tonal colors, manipulated with a painter's attention to detail.
There are a few stylistic reference points -- Ellington, the contemporary avant-garde, several flamenco guitar breaks -- but the totality is quite unlike what came before it. Mingus relies heavily on the timbral contrasts between expressively vocal-like muted brass, a rumbling mass of low voices (including tuba and baritone sax), and achingly lyrical upper woodwinds, highlighted by altoist Charlie Mariano. Within that framework, Mingus plays shifting rhythms, moaning dissonances, and multiple lines off one another in the most complex, interlaced fashion he'd ever attempted.
Mingus was sometimes pigeonholed as a firebrand, but the personal exorcism of Black Saint deserves the reputation -- one needn't be able to follow the story line to hear the suffering, mourning, frustration, and caged fury pouring out of the music. The 11-piece group rehearsed the original score during a Village Vanguard engagement, where Mingus allowed the players to mold the music further; in the studio, however, his exacting perfectionism made The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady the first jazz album to rely on overdubbing technology. The result is one of the high-water marks for avant-garde jazz in the '60s and arguably Mingus' most brilliant moment.
Arizona-born Mingus was one of jazz's greatest composers, a double-bass virtuoso, a challenger of racism inside and outside the white-run music business of his time, and a volatile individual with an incendiary temper. But though he creatively adapted the techniques of such 20th-century composers as Schoenberg, Bartók and Stravinsky, Mingus infused everything he wrote with the blues and gospel music of his childhood.
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963) is one of his most enthralling works. The album (with liner notes shared between Mingus and his psychiatrist) modifies the traditional blues and folk materials of jazz by bold, rhythmic variations, stark contrasts between dense, low-end harmonies and Charlie Mariano's soaring alto sax, collective improvisation, and dissonances swept up into soulful resolutions.
This 1963 recording occupies a special place in Mingus's work, his most brilliantly realized extended composition. The six-part suite is a broad canvas for the bassist's tumultuous passions, ranging from islands of serenity for solo guitar and piano to waves of contrapuntal conflict and accelerating rhythms that pull the listener into the musical psychodrama. It seems to mingle and transform both the heights and clichés of jazz orchestration, from Mingus's master, Duke Ellington, to film noir soundtracks. The result is a masterpiece of sounds and textures, from the astonishing vocal effects of the plunger-muted trumpets and trombone (seeming to speak messages just beyond the range of understanding) to the soaring romantic alto of Charlie Mariano. Boiling beneath it all are the teeming, congested rhythms of Mingus and drummer Dannie Richmond and the deep morass of tuba and baritone saxophone. This is one of the greatest works in jazz composition, and it's remarkable that Mingus dredged this much emotional power from a group of just 11 musicians.
1 Solo Dancer 6:20
2 Duet Solo Dancers 6:25
3 Group Dancers 7:00
4 Trio And Group Dancers / Single Solos And Group Dance / Group And Solo Dance 17:52
Charles Mingus – double bass, piano, composer
Jerome Richardson – soprano and baritone saxophone, flute
Charlie Mariano – alto saxophone
Dick Hafer – tenor saxophone, flute
Rolf Ericson – trumpet
Richard Williams – trumpet
Quentin Jackson – trombone
Don Butterfield – tuba, contrabass trombone
Jaki Byard – piano
Jay Berliner – Classical guitar
Dannie Richmond – drums
Posted by Crimhead420 at 8:33 AM
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Mahavishnu Orchestra's first (and arguably most prolific) incarnation came to a painful end in 1973, as a sudden rise in popularity and a series of calamitous recording failures suddenly turned the great Mahavishnu into less of what they originally were into more or less the John McLaughlin Group. The band's original lineup, however, was so bursting-at-the-seams with talent and skill that it's members couldn't help but go on to form formidable solo careers -- Billy Cobham would traverse the jazz fusion path himself with Spectrum in 1973, and Jan Hammer, after collaborating with fellow musician Jerry Goodman, debuted his own solo material with The First Seven Days in 1975. The album was well-received, and showcased the excellent skill Hammer obviously had. He continued on with the jazz- fusion shtick until the 80's, where he found himself composing film and television scores for such programs as Miami Vice. For the time being however Hammer really got in the swing of things and, not but a year later, delivered the facetiously titled Oh, Yeah? in 1976.
It's common for musicians to take an album or two to really get going, and get going Hammer did. Oh, Yeah? is a romp through some of the most thought-provoking and challenging sides of the jazz rock genre, whether it be the thumping bass/timbale combination of 'Bambu Forest', the eclectic and insane callbacks to Mahavishnu on 'Twenty One', or the driving openers and closers, 'Magical Dog' and 'Red and Orange', respectively. Almost every single song has something different to say in their own right, such as the throwing in of drummer Tony Smith's soulful vocals on 'One To One'. Jan Hammer and his band utilize an almost proto-80s synth culture to design Oh, Yeah? to be a sort of generational bridge that sits on neither side of the waters. A culture clash it may be, but it's a good one. Jan Hammer himself is the main pioneer in this regard, and with his effective use of a gamut of different synthesizing and keyboard effects it's easy to see why his more progressive electronic leanings make a greater impact than the likes of new age artists like Jean Michel Jarre did.
Towering and powerful, Oh, Yeah? is a can't-miss album, not only of the jazz fusion genre but of 70's music in general. It is the definition of a passion-project and is justly the penultimate release of Hammer's career.
1. "Magical Dog" - (Hammer) (6:43)
2. "One to One" - (Hammer, Tony Smith) (3:32)
3. "Evolove" - (Rick Laird) (4:45)
4. "Oh, Yeah?" - (Hammer, Fernando Saunders) (4:31)
5. "Bambu Forest" - (Hammer, David Earle Johnson) (5:25)
6. "Twenty One" - (Jerry Goodman, Hammer) (5:06)
7. "Let the Children Grow" - (Hammer, Tony Smith) (4:50)
8. "Red and Orange" - (Hammer) (6:43)
- Jerry Goodman - Composer
- Jan Hammer / electric piano, Moog, Polymoog, Oberheim & Oberheim Voice synths, timbales, vocals,
- Steven Kindler / acoustic & electric violins, rhythm guitar
- Fernando Saunders / bass, piccolo bass, vocals
- Tony Smith / drums, lead vocals
- David Earle Johnson / congas & percussion (1-5,8)
Posted by Crimhead420 at 3:10 PM