Monday, April 29, 2019

Tommy Bolin - 1976 [1996] "Live At Northern Lights"

Recorded just two and a half months before Tommy Bolin's untimely drug-related death, the Tommy Bolin Band are heard playing in an intimate setting for an FM broadcast (after spending the summer of 1976 playing huge stadiums with the likes of Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, ZZ Top, and Rush). Surprisingly, the production is a lot more raw than the other live CDs issued through the Tommy Bolin Archives label, which is strange, since it was taped in a recording studio.

The playing is quite ragged, and although it does at times catch fire, the performance is not as inspired as past Tommy Bolin concert releases. Tommy's younger brother Johnny joined the band on drums a few months prior to the Live at Northern Lights taping, and he proves to be quite a solid drummer, especially during the improvisation of the sadly prophetic "Post Toastee," which warns about the dangers of drug burnout. Also of note are the sullen ballad "Wild Dogs," and the saxophone workout "You Told Me That You Loved Me" (which was rarely played live by the band). But like the version found on the From the Archives, Vol. 1 release, "Shake the Devil" is again off-key, which takes away from the powerful Zeppelin stomp of the studio take. Although it has its moments, Live at Northern Lights is not the best Tommy Bolin in-concert release of the bunch.

Tommy Bolin was truly a worldwide gift to rock music and guitar enthusiasts everywhere. There will never be another Tommy Bolin, a guitar genius who continues to enthrall generations of aspiring musicians and music lovers with the many fine recordings and concert performances he had made during his short time on Earth.
Tommy developed all types of rock, jazz, blues, folk, and progressive sounds from his guitar and in his writing with his all of his solo works as well as his hard driven artistry with his membership in bands like Deep Purple, James Gang, Zephyr and Energy.

As Tommy Bolin was really building himself and his new band The Tommy Bolin Band into new and exciting territory, Bolin was able to capture a lot of his live and studio workings into the rare collective known as The Tommy Bolin Archives, and this leads us to the long anticipated first time vinyl release of his amazing 1976 Boston concert Northern Lights.

Remastered impeccably by Joe Reagoso (Jeff Beck, Yes, Deep Purple) for the first time on audiophile vinyl, The Tommy Bolin Band s Northern Lights will truly become one of the most important and historical 180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl titles in quite some time.

Noted for his stellar guitar work, pretty much introducing new ways of using technique, distortion and effects to a whole new generation of guitar players, Northern Lights is truly a primer for a ton of rock and blues artists.

Check out his dynamic prowess on hits Teaser , Post Toastee and the hard rockin You Told Me That You Loved Me.

Never forgetting progressive roots, Tommy and the band exell on the Bolin classic Wild Dogs. Plus his rock and reggae classic People People show a glimpse of what this superstar was capable of and the promise that he truly had before his untimely loss in 1976.

Friday Music is no stranger to the music of the legendary Tommy Bolin, with his arsenal of fine recordings already on our label. That is why we are so very proud to announce our first installment in The Tommy Bolin/Friday Music 180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl Series with his legendary masterwork Northern Lights"

This CD was a pleasant suprize. Tommy is in good form, and I find it to be a great example of Tommy live.(I think it's better than the 2 Deep Purple recordings, and the live recordings on Vol.1 of From the Archives)It is essential for any Tommy Bolin fan. The band is on point too. I enjoyed every minute of this CD.

Tommy’s live concert recorded for WBCN Radio in September of 1976 at The Northern Lights Recording Studio in Maynard, Massachusetts. This performance is famous for it’s over the top, abandon filled rendition of “Post Toastee.” So now, enjoy the archives enhanced fidelity from this performance that is taken from the radio broadcast master that was given to the Archives by Carter Allan, Music Director of WBCN, and a huge Tommy fan.

Track listing:

1     Teaser     5:55
2     People People     7:55
3     You Told Me That You Loved Me     5:12
4     Wild Dogs     10:17
5     Shake The Devil     4:35
6     Post Toastee     13:30
7     Homeward Strut     10:06

    Recorded At – The Northern Lights Recording Studio

Personnel:

    Guitar, Vocals, Producer [Original Live Recording] – Tommy Bolin
    Bass – Jimmy Haslip
    Drums – Johnny Bolin*   
    Keyboards, Vocals – Mark Stein
    Saxophone, Vocals – Norma Jean Bell

John Scofield - 1994 "Hand Jive"

Guitarist John Scofield and tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris make a very complementary team on this upbeat set of funky jazz, for both have immediately identifiable sounds and adventurous spirits. Along with a fine rhythm section that includes Larry Goldings on piano and organ, Scofield and Harris interact joyfully on ten of the guitarist's originals.

This 1994 recording is one of John Scofield's best, with a band that adds the soul-jazz veteran Eddie Harris to a group of the guitarist's regular associates, Larry Goldings on keyboards, Dennis Irwin on bass, Bill Stewart on drums, and Don Alias on percussion. Perhaps it's the mix of the familiar rhythm section with the novelty of playing with Harris, a player with a similar penchant for inside funk, outside approaches, and altered sounds, but Scofield is unusually animated. He digs into the rhythmic grooves and develops extended ideas throughout, most notably on "I'll Take Les" and "Do Like Eddie," tributes to the onetime partnership of Harris and pianist McCann. Goldings is outstanding on piano as well as organ, and everyone involved contributes to making this a high point in contemporary soul jazz.

Absolutely my favorite Scofield album, and one of my favorite groovin' jazz albums of all time. I come back to this one often, and not only because it has one of my favorite drummers (Bill Stewart) and a high school friend of mine (Larry Goldings) playing on it. This is top-notch playing, Scofield at his best (imho), fantastic session guys, and while it keeps some of the Scofield "angularity," it's a lot more fluid and groove-oriented than some of his offerings. Most of this one feels as if it comes more from the gut than the head, and that's a good thing.

Having just seen Scofield with Mike Stern and the Hollowbody Band (also featuring Bill Stewart), I have a renewed appreciation for this gem - they closed the show with Do Like Eddie, my favorite track from the disc. You will have that head melody in your head for days, I all but guarantee!

Very funky recording, a soul-jazz throwback to the music of saxophonist Eddie Harris -- who as a guest star on the CD makes the connection even more obvious. The organ/guitar grooves are terrific!

Not just for jazz fans, I've had friends who don't like jazz say they like this CD. Even more accessible is the CD Scofield a la Go Go with Medeski Martin & Wood. This CD is funkier, that one more poppy.

Track listing:

All compositions written by John Scofield.

1. I'll Take Les (6:58)
2. Dark Blue (7:37)
3. Do Like Eddie (8:06)
4. She's So Lucky (5:50)
5. Checkered Past (5:28)
6. 77th Floor (4:45)
7. Golden Daze (7:33)
8. Don't Shoot The Messenger (6:10)
9. Whip The Mule (5:37)
10. Out Of The City (5:18)

Total time 63:22

Personnel:

    John Scofield - guitar
    Eddie Harris - tenor saxophone
    Larry Goldings - piano, organ
    Dennis Irwin - bass
    Bill Stewart - drums
    Don Alias - percussion

Friday, April 12, 2019

Stuart Hamm - 1991 "The Urge"

Stuart Hamm (born February 8, 1960) is an American bass guitar player, known for his session and live work with numerous artists as well as for his unconventional playing style and solo recordings.

The Urge is the third solo album released by bassist Stuart Hamm, released in 1991. It was the first of Hamm's solo albums to feature vocals, and included guest appearances by guitarist Eric Johnson and Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe. The song "Quahogs Anyone?" was recorded live at Santa Barbara on September 27, 1990.

Hamm's signature Fender bass guitar was also called "The Urge", and was followed by "The Urge II".

Music IS, after all a personal thing. I appreciate Hamm's virtuosity on electric bass (never thought I'd say that about a bass player, but there you go). I consider "Lone Star" one of the great rock guitar and bass instrumentals of all time. I give the album five stars based upon this song ALONE. FYI, I also consider Lone Star the best song Eric Johnson has ever recorded, and that's from someone who LOVEs "A Via Musicom", his Grammy Award Winning album.

This release of intrumental and vocal tracks features a mixture of rock, funk, and rap, with guest guitarist Eric Johnson.

Track listing:

    "Welcome to My World" – 1:36
    "The Hammer" – 4:53
    "Who Do You Want Me to Be Today?" – 6:07
    "If You're Scared, Stay Home!" – 5:32
    "Our Dreams" – 6:05
    "Lone Star" – 7:24
    "Quahogs Anyone? (119, 120 Whatever It Takes)" – 6:12
    "The Urge" – 7:09
    "As Children" – 6:01

Personnel:

Stuart Hamm - Bass guitar, Piccolo Bass, Vocals, Background Vocals and Keyboards
Eric Johnson - Electric Guitar on "Our Dreams and "Lone Star"
Harry K. Cody - Electric Guitar
Buzzy Feiten - Electric Guitar and Additional Vocals
Dawayne Bailey - Electric Guitar
Steve Recker - Electric Guitar
Micajah Ryan - Acoustic Guitar on "Our Dreams", Background Vocals, Mixing, Engineering
Jonathan Mover - Drums and Additional Vocals
Steve Smith - Drums
Tommy Mars - Background Vocals
Steve Madero Horns - Background Vocals, Additional Vocals
Tommy Lee - Additional Vocals
Tanya Papanicolas - Whisper
Shawn Berman - Vocals, Samples, Engineering Assistance
Bob Arkin - Additional Vocals
Bruce Hamm - Additional Vocals
Emily Ryan - Additional Vocals
Dan Goldberg - Additional Vocals
Jorge Bermudez - Additional Vocals, Percussion
Chris Hamm - Vocal Chant

Joe Satriani - 1989 "Flying In A Blue Dream"

Flying in a Blue Dream is the third studio album by guitarist Joe Satriani, released on October 30, 1989 through Relativity Records. It is one of Satriani's most popular albums and his second highest-charting release to date, reaching No. 23 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and remaining on that chart for 39 weeks, as well as reaching the top 40 in three other countries.

Four singles reached Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart: "I Believe" and "Back to Shalla-Bal" both at No. 17, "Big Bad Moon" at No. 31, and "One Big Rush" at No. 36. Flying in a Blue Dream was certified Gold on January 25, 1990 and received a nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1991 Grammy Awards; this being Satriani's third such nomination.

The title track has endured as one of Satriani's best-known songs and is a mainstay at his concerts, as well as "The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing". "Can't Slow Down", "Strange", "I Believe", "Big Bad Moon", "The Phone Call" and "Ride" feature him singing for the first time; the most on any of his albums to date. It also marks the first time he plays the Deering six-string banjo-style guitar—"The Feeling" is performed entirely using that instrument—and harmonica, the latter of which features prominently on "Headless", "Big Bad Moon" and "Ride".

"Headless" is a remake of "The Headless Horseman" from Not of This Earth (1986), but with added distorted vocals and harmonica along with a 'squawky' guitar tone making chicken-like sounds. "Day at the Beach (New Rays from an Ancient Sun)" and "The Forgotten (Part One)" are performed using a two-handed tapping technique.

"The Bells of Lal (Part One)" was featured in the 1996 film Sling Blade, during the scene where Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) is sharpening a lawnmower blade to kill the menacing Doyle Hargraves (Dwight Yoakam).

Music videos for the ballad "I Believe" and hard rocker "Big Bad Moon" were included on The Satch Tapes, which was first released on VHS cassette in 1993 and reissued on DVD on November 18, 2003; it also includes excerpts from an MTV performance of "The Feeling". "One Big Rush" was featured in the 1989 film Say Anything...

"Back to Shalla-Bal" refers to Shalla-Bal from the Marvel Comics universe; it is the second reference Satriani has made to the Silver Surfer character, who was first featured on the cover art of Surfing with the Alien (1987). The track was later used as the menu music to the 1996 Sony PlayStation video game Formula 1, which also featured "Summer Song" from The Extremist (1992).

An hour-long disc filled with musical explorations and compositions that defy belief, Flying in a Blue Dream is unquestionably Joe Satriani at his absolute best. Breaking his all-instrumental tradition for the first time, he croons on six of the disc's 18 tracks, including the weird "Strange"; and the bluesy, hard-rocking "Big Bad Moon"; and the driving "Can't Slow Down.

"Satriani's voice isn't extraordinary, but it fits extremely well with the music he creates, especially on the acoustic-tinged, uplifting "I Believe." It's his playing that's the really impressive thing here, though; his unique tone and complex song structures are enhanced by his signature playing style and the incredible array of effects and tricks he wrestles out of his instrument. The disc closes with the high-flying, misty piece "Into the Light," leaving behind a feeling of real wonder. Soaring, powerful, and triumphant, this recording deserves a place in everyone's collection.

This was my first CD, before I had a CD player. I was at a small party, got bored with the conversation, no music playing so I stared glancing the thru the guys CD's (which was only about 20). I see this Joe and asked to play it, he asked if I liked it and gave it to me right there on the spot, then he chose another CD and played it. I'm assuming he didn't care for the Joe, lol.
Crimhead420.

Track listing

All tracks written by Joe Satriani.

01.    "Flying in a Blue Dream"    5:23
02.    "The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing"    5:09
03.    "Can't Slow Down"    4:49
04.    "Headless"    1:30
05.    "Strange"    5:02
06.    "I Believe"    5:54
07.    "One Big Rush"    3:25
08.    "Big Bad Moon"    5:15
09.    "The Feeling"    0:50
10.    "The Phone Call"    3:01
11.    "Day at the Beach (New Rays from an Ancient Sun)"    2:03
12.    "Back to Shalla-Bal"    3:14
13.    "Ride"    4:56
14.    "The Forgotten (Part One)"    1:12
15.    "The Forgotten (Part Two)"    5:08
16.    "The Bells of Lal (Part One)"    1:19
17.    "The Bells of Lal (Part Two)"    4:07
18.    "Into the Light"    2:30

Total length:    64:47

Personnel:

Joe Satriani – vocals (3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13), guitar, banjo, keyboard, percussion, programming, pre-production programming, bass, harmonica, arrangement, production
John Cuniberti – sitar, percussion, engineering, production
Jeff Campitelli – drums, percussion, pre-production programming
Bongo Bob Smith – drums (tracks 5, 12, 13), percussion (tracks 5, 12, 13), pre-production programming
Simon Phillips – drums (track 6)
Stuart Hamm – bass (tracks 5, 17)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Various Artists - 1991 "Just Friends" - A Gathering In Tribute To Emily Remler Vol. 2

Emily Remler (September 18, 1957 – May 4, 1990) was an American jazz guitarist, active from the late 1970s until her death in 1990.

This was the second of two albums done by an all-star lineup assembled to record two tribute albums following guitarist Emily Remler's death in 1990, with all proceeds going to her Jazz For Kids fund in Pittsburgh. The roster included Herb Ellis, Bill O'Connell, Eddie Gomez, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, and David Benoit. They made a reverential, yet loving and energetically played tribute.

 Track listing:

1     Conversation Piece     6:12
2     Too Soon     5:40
3     I Hear A Rhapsody     5:35
4     Diaries     7:11
5     Kings Cross     4:16
6     Time After Time     5:04
7     Em In Mind     6:15
8     Blues For Herb     4:23
9     Happy Birthday     5:28

Personnel:

Guitar – Herb Ellis (tracks: 2, 6, 8), Kristen Buckley (tracks: 3), Leni Stern (tracks: 5, 7), Marty Ashby (tracks: 7), Steve Masakowski (tracks: 4), Terry Holmes (tracks: 6, 8)
Bass – Bobby Felder (tracks: 8), Eddie Gomez (tracks: 2, 6), Lincoln Goines (tracks: 3, 4, 5, 7), Steve Bailey (tracks: 1, 9)
Drums – David Derge (tracks: 8), Marvin "Smitty" Smith (tracks: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7), Ricky Sebastian (tracks: 1, 4, 9)
Piano – Bill O'Connell (tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9), David Benoit (tracks: 8)
    Saxophone – Nelson Rangell (tracks: 8)

Friday, April 5, 2019

King Crimson - 2016 "Collectors' Club" - Kokusai Theater, Tokyo Japan 12.14.1981

“Hello Tokyo!” says Belew on their last of four night run. A good quality audience recording and a more engaged band/crowd relationship is evident from the earliest moments of this gig. Perhaps this explains why it appears to have that elusive “something extra” about it?The set list is the same as on previous evenings, yet there’s something else in the air.

If you want tangible proof of this, then just take a listen to The Sheltering Sky: acerbic opening solo and then a beautiful dance between the guitar arpeggios, like moths fluttering around a flame, waiting for Levin’s slide down which usually ushers in Belew’s solo section. Except here they hold the moment, as though reluctant to break the spell the duo have created. Simple and beautiful. Then as Belew is soloing, Bruford moves to full kit and you have an extraordinary version of The Sheltering Sky with a grooving backbeat.

Manhattan has the band moving up a notch after an energetic Frame By Frame, played with a blistering urgency, as Belew and Fripp push the notion of guitar solo to extreme limits. Indiscipline maintains the ferocious momentum and comes with some additional Roland organ touches during Ade’s spoken sections, adding subtly to the slightly disconcerting air of the song itself.

It’s abundantly clear the team are flat-out having a great time - just listen to LTIA’s end-of-term-party atmosphere and extended ending. Brilliant stuff.

This gig marks the end the of what had been a truly incredible year in King Crimson’s history; the launch of a new band and the first album of brand new material bearing the Crimson moniker in seven years.

https://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=King+Crimson

 Track listing:

01     Frippertronics Walk On    
02     Discipline    
03     Thela Hun Ginjeet    
04     Red    
05     Matte Kudasai    
06     The Sheltering Sky    
07     Frame By Frame    
08     Neal And Jack And Me    
09     Manhattan    
10     Elephant Talk    
11     Indiscipline    
12     Sartori In Tangier

Personnel:

Robert Fripp - Guitar
Adrian Belew - Guitar, Vocal
Tony Levin - Bass, Chapman Stick
Bill Bruford - Drums

John Coltrane - 1958 [1987] "Soultrane"

Soultrane is the fourth studio album by jazz musician John Coltrane, released in 1958 on Prestige Records, catalogue 7142. It was recorded at the studio of Rudy Van Gelder in Hackensack, New Jersey, three days after a Columbia Records session for Miles Davis and the Milestones album.

The album is a showcase for Coltrane's late-1950s "sheets of sound" style, the term itself coined by critic Ira Gitler in the album's liner notes. Also featured is a long reading of Billy Eckstine's ballad standard "I Want to Talk About You", which Coltrane would revisit often during his career, most notably on the album Live at Birdland. Among the other tracks are popular theme "Good Bait" by Tadd Dameron, and Fred Lacey's elegiac "Theme for Ernie". "You Say You Care" is from the Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

The album closes with a frenetic version of Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby". Producer Bob Weinstock relates Coltrane's humorous interpretation:

    We were doing a session and we were hung for a tune and I said, "Trane, why don't you think up some old standard?" He said, "OK I got it....and they played "Russian Lullaby" at a real fast tempo. At the end I asked, "Trane, what was the name of that tune?" And he said, "Rushin' Lullaby". I cracked up.

Soultrane takes its title from a song on a 1956 album by Tadd Dameron featuring Coltrane, Mating Call. "Soultrane" does not appear on this Soultrane, and none of the five tunes on Soultrane is an original by Coltrane. The song "Theme for Ernie" was featured on the soundtrack for the 2005 film Hollywoodland.

In addition to being bandmates within Miles Davis' mid-'50s quintet, John Coltrane (tenor sax) and Red Garland (piano) head up a session featuring members from a concurrent version of the Red Garland Trio: Paul Chambers (bass) and Art Taylor (drums). This was the second date to feature the core of this band. A month earlier, several sides were cut that would end up on Coltrane's Lush Life album. Soultrane offers a sampling of performance styles and settings from Coltrane and crew.

As with a majority of his Prestige sessions, there is a breakneck-tempo bop cover (in this case an absolute reworking of Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby"), a few smoldering ballads (such as "I Want to Talk About You" and "Theme for Ernie"), as well as a mid-tempo romp ("Good Bait"). Each of these sonic textures displays a different facet of not only the musical kinship between Coltrane and Garland but in the relationship that Coltrane has with the music.

The bop-heavy solos that inform "Good Bait," as well as the "sheets of sound" technique that was named for the fury in Coltrane's solos on the rendition of "Russian Lullaby" found here, contain the same intensity as the more languid and considerate phrasings displayed particularly well on "I Want to Talk About You." As time will reveal, this sort of manic contrast would become a significant attribute of Coltrane's unpredictable performance style.

Not indicative of the quality of this set is the observation that, because of the astounding Coltrane solo works that both precede and follow Soultrane -- most notably Lush Life and Blue Train -- the album has perhaps not been given the exclusive attention it so deserves.

This February 7, 1958, session - which came to be known as Soultrane - was the tenor's seventh session as a leader, and the first LP that followed his one Blue Note session, the more historic Blue Trane. Soultrane , made right after the tenor player rejoined Miles Davis's group, features the trumpeter's rhythm section of Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor. It has also has a noticeably looser, more felt vibe than the better known Blue Note session.

Coltrane and Garland are especially compatible, and while nothing magical happens (as Coltrane showed effortlessly elsewhere), this remains an especially strong session. The mode is still strongly bop-oriented, with none of Coltrane's originals and the introduction of a favorite Coltrane theme, Billy Eckstine's "I Want To Talk About You" (revisited throughout the remainder of Coltrane's career).

Also here are exceptionally good - but not necessarily definitive - takes of Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait," Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby," the lovely "Theme For Ernie" and Jules Styne's "You Say You Care." For a blowing date, though, it's hard to improve upon the appeal of this exceptionally fine session, alight as it is with some of the tenor's most assured and accessible playing. Highly enjoyable.

Track listing:

1.    "Good Bait"    Tadd Dameron    12:08
2.    "I Want to Talk About You"    Billy Eckstine    10:53
3.    "You Say You Care"    Leo Robin, Jule Styne    6:16
4.    "Theme for Ernie"    Fred Lacey    4:57
5.    "Russian Lullaby"    Irving Berlin    5:33

Personnel:

    John Coltrane – tenor saxophone
    Red Garland – piano
    Paul Chambers – bass
    Art Taylor – drums

John Coltrane - 1957 [1989] "Dakar"

Dakar is a Pepper Adams & Cecil Payne album credited in its reissue form to jazz musician John Coltrane, released in 1963 on Prestige Records, catalogue 7280. Dakar is a reissue of one side of a 16 rpm LP called Baritones and French Horns released in 1957, and originally credited to the "Prestige All Stars".

As Coltrane's profile grew during the 1960s, after his Prestige contract had ended, the record company assembled and reissued various recordings John Coltrane participated in with his name prominently displayed, though in many cases, as on Dakar, he had originally been a sideman.

Dakar (1957) presents half-a-dozen numbers recorded April 20, 1957 by an ensemble credited as the "Prestige All-Stars." On the bandstand for this date are John Coltrane (tenor sax), Cecil Payne (baritone sax), Pepper Adams (baritone sax), Mal Waldron (piano), Doug Watkins (bass), and Art Taylor (drums). Although at the time these were considered "leaderless" units, upon hearing the interaction of the participants, modern ears might desire to qualify that statement.

The Latin-flavored title track "Dakar" finds Coltrane adapting his solo to faultlessly conform to Payne and Adams' comparatively fuller-bodied involvement. The brooding chord progressions take on dark overtones with Coltrane joining Waldron as they burst forth fuelled by the soulful brass section. "Mary's Blues" is a treat for sax lovers as Adams -- who penned the number -- almost immediately raises the musical stakes for Coltrane. The differences in their respective presentations offer a contrast that complements the cool refinement of Adams and Pepper when juxtaposed with Coltrane's frenetic flurries. Particularly engaging are the sequence of four-bar blasts from the horn players, just prior to Coltrane pushing the combo through their paces.

On "Route Four" the strongest elements of each player surface, creating one of the platter's brightest moments. Right out of the box, Waldron unleashes line upon line of masterful lyricism. The driving tempo keeps the instrumentalists on their toes as Coltrane is sandwiched between the undeniably and equally inspired Payne and Adams. Here, the urgency of Coltrane's tenor sax clearly tests the boundaries of the Taylor/Watkins rhythm section. The moody and sublime ballad "Velvet Scene" is a Waldron composition containing some of the author's strongest individual involvement as he interjects his expressive keyboarding directly into the melody.

If the album is flawed, that may well be due to Coltrane's inability to deliver during "Witches' Pit." Perhaps because he is the first soloist, there seems to be no immediate direction to his playing. In a highly unusual move, he simply trails off rather than concluding his portion with his usual command and authority. "Cat Walk" restores Coltrane's sinuous leads during a couple of jaunty double-time excursions that tread gingerly around the catchy tune. Jazz enthusiasts -- especially lovers of Thelonious Monk -- should easily be able to discern Adams' nod to "'Round Midnight."

Often cited as saxophonist John Coltrane's first album as leader, Dakar—recorded on April 20, 1957—is a usurper. Originally credited to the Prestige All Stars (and released as part of a short-lived experiment with 16-rpm discs), it was only credited to Coltrane on its re-release in 1963, when the saxophonist's star was firmly in the ascendant. The Dakar session was one of several Coltrane appeared on as a sideman that week—on the 16th with pianist Thelonious Monk, on the 18th with the Prestige All Stars, and on the 19th with pianist Mal Waldron. He gets no more solo time than either of the other saxophonists, baritone players Cecil Payne and Pepper Adams. Another day, another dollar.

If it's anyone's baby, Dakar—here released as part of Prestige's Rudy Van Gelder Remasters series—belongs to Teddy Charles. The vibraphonist and bandleader produced the sessions, composed three of the six tunes, and—crucially—picked the line-up. Clearly, he didn't have a Coltrane album in mind, more a meeting between the elder statesman of bop baritone, Payne, and the younger hard bop stylist, Adams. Coltrane, his tenor already possessing the incisive sound which took wings on Giant Steps (Atlantic, 1959), works like spice amongst Payne's lighter, at times Lester Young-ish tone, and Adams' tougher, more abrasive one (not for nothing was Adams nicknamed The Knife).

It's rough and ready music, almost certainly rehearsed for the first time in the studio (with the clock ticking), but it sure is ready. The three saxophonists roar into the opening title track, Payne soloing first, then Coltrane, then Adams. There's a fierce, devil may care atmosphere, rolling around in the sound of the instruments, which establishes a mood sustained throughout the album. There's a telling moment towards the end of the closing "Cat Walk" when Payne's baritone emits a horrible squeak. Even in 1957, most producers would have asked for another take, or got busy with a razor blade. It's retention, for whatever reason (lack of money, lack of time, confidence in the fundamental quality of the music), on the finished album adds to the sense of reportage and the enjoyment.

There's just one ballad, Waldron's "Velvet One," on which Coltrane's tenor states the theme over soft riffing from Payne and Adams, and which gives a taste of the lyrical magic Coltrane would later weave on Ballads (Impulse!, 1962).

A minor chapter in the Coltrane canon it may be, but Dakar is a characterful set of propulsive, pre-codification hard bop and still a delight over half a century later.

Track listing:

 1.   "Dakar" (Teddy Charles) — 7:09
 2.   "Mary's Blues" (Pepper Adams) — 6:47
 3.   "Route 4" (Charles) — 6:55
 4.   "Velvet Scene" (Waldron) — 4:53
 5.   "Witches Pit" (Adams) — 6:42
 6.   "Catwalk" (Charles) — 7:11

Personnel:

    John Coltrane - tenor saxophone
    Cecil Payne - baritone saxophone
    Pepper Adams - baritone saxophone
    Mal Waldron - piano
    Doug Watkins - bass
    Art Taylor - drums

Monday, April 1, 2019

Various Artists - 1990 "Just Friends" - A Gathering In Tribute To Emily Remler

The first album of two all-star tributes to guitarist Emily Remler by her distinguished friends. They got together in 1989 and cut these sessions for the Austin, Texas Justic label, with all proceeds going to Remler's Jazz for Kids fund in Pittsburgh. There are no stars or supporting musicians here, just several great musicians saying goodbye to their friend.

 Track listing:

01     Brontosaurus Walk     3:35
02     Remily     5:43
03     Willow Weep For Me     6:43
04     Jazz Jam     1:47
05     Besame Mucho     7:08
06     Equinox     5:51
07     Hello & Goodbye     4:04
08     Nova Nice     5:43
09     Blues On The Spot     5:52
10     Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise     3:56

Personnel:

Steve Masakowski – Guitar/Composition
Lincoln Gaines – Bass
Ricky Sebastian – Drums
Bill O’Connell – Piano
Herb Ellis – Guitar/Composition
Terry Holmes – Guitar/Composition
Eddie Gomez – Bass
Marvin “Smitty” Smith – Drums
Ann Ronell – Composition
Bob Felder – Bass
David Deberg – Drums
David Benoit – Piano
Nelson Rangell – Saxophone
Marty Ashby – Guitar/Composition
Leni Stern – Guitar
Jay Ashby – Trombone