12 July, 2012


J. J. Johnson, Kai Winding - Jay & Kai (1954)

J. J. Johnson, Kai Winding - Jay & Kai (1954)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 205MB
The music on this Savoy disc is excellent but the packaging is rather dumb. Rather than reissue all 12 selections from a pair of 1954 sessions that led to the birth of the J.J. Johnson-Kai Winding two-trombone quintet (renditions that also include either pianist Wally Cirillo or guitarist Billy Bauer along with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Kenny Clarke), there are just eight on this CD along with a Johnson track from 1947 ("Yesterdays") and three of the four Winding performances (in a quintet with pianist Lou Stein) from 1952. Sure to frustrate completists, this reissue is still worth picking up if found at a budget price, for the music contains plenty of worthy trombone solos.

-01. "Bernie's Tune" - Jerry Leiber / Bernard Miller / Mike Stoller - 3:55
-02. "Lament" - J.J. Johnson - 4:04
-03. "Blues for Trombones" - J.J. Johnson - 5:04
-04. "The Major" - J.J. Johnson - 3:10
-05. "Yesterdays" - Otto Harbach / Jerome Kern - 2:58
-06. "Co-Op" - J.J. Johnson - 3:30
-07. "Reflections" - J.J. Johnson - 4:13
-08. "Blues in Twos" - J.J. Johnson - 4:51
-09. "What Is This Thing Called Love?" - Cole Porter - 3:12
-10. "The Boy Next Door" - Ralph Blane / Hugh Martin - 2:50
-11. "I Could Wright a Book" - J.J. Johnson - 2:51
-12. "Carioca" - J.J. Johnson - 2:57

* J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding (trombone)
* Leo Parker (baritone saxophone)
* Wally Cirillo, Hank Jones, Lou Stein (piano)
* Billy Bauer (guitar)
* Charles Mingus, Al Lucas, Eddie Safranski (bass)
* Kenny Clarke, Shadow Wilson, Tiny Kahn (drums)
* Al Young (bongos, timbales)



Odetta - Ballad For Americans and Other American Ballads / At Carnegie Hall (1960)

Odetta - Ballad For Americans and Other American Ballads / At Carnegie Hall (1960)
  blues | 2lp on 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 485MB
This CD, issued under license from Vanguard by Italy's Universe label (on their Comet imprint), is one of the handsomest re-releases of its kind ever to turn up on CD. The sound is fine -- and it's so hard to find an unworn copy of Ballad for Americans and Other American Ballads that anything would be welcome -- but the producers have taken special care to re-create the original artwork and annotation in all of it thoroughness in a mini-LP-style gatefold CD package that's neat, handsome, and respectful of the original release, and will probably last for decades on shelves. As for the music, the CD showcases four sides of Odetta's work -- her gifts in art-song and conceptual music in "Ballad for Americans," her solo folk and blues singing in the accompanying studio sides, her way with an audience in a live setting with the Carnegie Hall tracks, with her singing in a choral setting on the final four tracks of that LP. It all sounds great, and could arguably be a best of Odetta, even if it isn't an official anthology of that type. It's just sort of a shame -- and an enigma -- that it takes an Italian-based label to give these recordings their due respect in the 21st century.

-01. "Ballad for Americans" (Earl Robinson)
-02. "This Land" (Woody Guthrie)
-03. "On Top of Old Smokey" (Traditional)
-04. "Hush Little Baby" (Traditional)
-05. "Dark as a Dungeon" (Merle Travis)
-06. "Great Historical Bum"
-07. "Payday at Coal Creek"
-08. "Going Home"
-09. "Pastures of Plenty" (Woody Guthrie)
-10. "If I Had a Hammer" (Pete Seeger, Lee Hays)
-11. "Red Clay Country"
-12. ""When I Was a Young Girl"
-13. "Gallows Pole" (Traditional)
-14. "God's A-Gonna Cut You Down"
-15. "John Riley"
-16. "John Henry" (Traditional)
-17. "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho" (Traditional)
-18. "All The Pretty Little Horses"
-19. "Prettiest Train"
-20. "Meeting at the Building"
-21. "No More Auction Block"
-22. "Hold On"
-23. "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" (Traditional)
-24. "Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down"

* Odetta – vocals, guitar
* Bill Lee – bass
* Fred Hellerman – guitar
* Robert De Cormier – chorale arranger, conductor



Ketil Bjornstad, David Darling - Epigraphs (1998)

Ketil Bjornstad, David Darling - Epigraphs (1998)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 215MB
Those familiar with previous work by these two instrumentalists will find no surprises on their second duo album, which consists primarily of compositions by pianist Bjornstad, interspersed with fragments of works by composers of the European Renaissance (William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Guillaume Dufay, and the obscure German composer Gregor Aichinger) and a couple of David Darling compositions, one of them written for multi-tracked cello. The sixteen pieces on this disc are highly consistent in terms of mood and texture: from Bjornstad's "Epigraph No. 1" that opens the program to the Aichinger compositions "Factus Est Repente" that closes it, the feeling is one of deep calm and contemplation. To call this music "minimalist" wouldn't be entirely accurate, since there's quite a bit of harmonic movement and not much repetition, but because Bjornstad and Darling's playing is so consistently gentle and the music is so consistently quiet and pleasant, this album has a flavor that will be familiar to fans of Philip Glass and Arvo Part. Recommended.

-01. "Epigraph, No. 1" - Ketil Bjornstad - 3:01
-02. "Upland" - Ketil Bjornstad - 4:01
-03. "Wakening" - Ketil Bjornstad - 4:07
-04. "Epigraph No. 1, Var. 1" - Ketil Bjornstad - 1:35
-05. "Pavane" - Ketil Bjornstad / William Byrd / David Darling / Gabriel Fauré - 3:34
-06. "Fantasia" - Ketil Bjornstad / David Darling / Orlando Gibbons - 1:56
-07. "Epigraph No. 1, Var. 2" - Ketil Bjornstad - 2:16
-08. "The Guest" - Ketil Bjornstad - 2:37
-09. "After Celan" - Ketil Bjornstad - 3:41
-10. "Song for TKJD" - David Darling - 1:02
-11. "Silent Dream" - David Darling - 4:38
-12. "The Lake" - Ketil Bjornstad - 4:09
-13. "Gothic" - Ketil Bjornstad - 4:05
-14. "Epigraph No. 1, Var. 3" - Ketil Bjornstad - 1:22
-15. "Le Jour S'endort" - Ketil Bjornstad / David Darling / Guillaume Dufay - 3:41
-16. "Factus Est Repente" - Gregor Aichinger / Ketil Bjornstad / David Darling - 4:54

* Ketil Bjørnstad - piano
* David Darling - cello


05 July, 2012


Larry Coryell Organ Trio - Impressions (2008)

Larry Coryell Organ Trio - Impressions (2008)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 340MB
Chesky SACD
Larry Coryell's name isn't bandied around much now, but in the 1970s he was almost as big a guitar star as John McLaughlin, and an equivalent influence on the development of early electric jazz-rock fusion. But this is not just another cosy retro exercise. Coryell's crackling uptempo bursts and engagingly rough-hewn energy give this familiar music a vividness and infectious enthusiasm, and the powerful presence of sometime Bill Frisell and Norah Jones sideman Sam Yahel on Hammond organ and former Pat Metheny drummer Paul Wertico adds a lot more of that. The early tracks are mostly classics, but Coryell's original Szabador and Wertico's Full Moon Over Istanbul are memorable and unusual enough to suggest that the group could have scattered its own music a little more confidently through the programme. Coryell's own stealthily bluesy groover Stowaway is full of Wes Montgomery flourishes, and Yahel builds his solos with a compelling deliberation tentatively introducing fresh phrases and then igniting them, segueing flying runs into murmurs, and generally avoiding familiar Hammond organ licks. Wertico's brutal, pummelling drum solo in Coryell's fizzing Szabodar (a tribute to the late Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó) would also never have been heard the same way on a 1960s bop set. It's good to hear Coryell on top of his game.

-1. "Very Early" - 7:08
-2. "Stowaway" - 6:15
-3. "Come Rain or Come Shine" - 6:55
-4. "Embraceable You" - 7:32
-5. "Cariba" - 6:05
-6. "Impressions" - 5:58
-7. "Szabodar" - 5:19
-8. "Full Moon Over Istanbul" - 3:16
-9. "Centerpriece" - 7:25

* Larry Coryell - guitar
* Paul Wertico - Drums
* Sam Yahel - organ



Charles Mingus - Tijuana Moods 2cd (1957)

Charles Mingus - Tijuana Moods (1957)
jazz | 2cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 1000MB
Bluebird 2001
Inspired by a trip to Tijuana, Tijuana Moods was recorded in 1957 but was sat on by RCA until its release in 1962. Bassist/composer Charles Mingus at the time said that this was his greatest recording, and it certainly ranks near the top. The original version (which was usually edited together from a few different takes) consisted of just five performances. In the '80s, it doubled in size with the release of two versions of each of the songs, and in 2001, it reappeared as a double CD with 22 performances. It has often been said that Mingus forced and pressured his sidemen to play above their potential, and that is certainly true of this project. Altoist Shafi Hadi (who doubles on tenor) is in blazing form on "Ysabel's Table Dance," while trumpeter Clarence Shaw (who was praised by Mingus for his short lyrical solo on "Flamingo") sounds quite haunting on "Los Mariachis." Trombonist Jimmy Knepper and drummer Dannie Richmond made other great recordings, but they are in particularly superior form throughout this session, as is the obscure pianist Bill Triglia. Completing the band is Ysabel Morel on vocals and Frankie Dunlop on castanets. While "Dizzy's Moods" is based on "Woody'N You," and "Flamingo" is given a fresh treatment, the other three songs are quite original, with "Tijuana Gift Shop" having a catchy, dissonant riff that sticks in one's mind. The passionate playing, exciting ensembles, and high-quality compositions make this a real gem. In addition, this double-CD includes the recently discovered "A Colloquial Dream," an early version of a spoken word piece later called "Scenes in the City," with Lonnie Elder doing the talking rather than Melvin Stewart (though Stewart's later version was superior). Due to the repetition of titles (with eight of the final nine cuts being excerpts), more casual listeners may want to search instead for the single CD New Tijuana Moods, which was released in 1996 and just augments the original five songs with four alternate takes. But in any case, this stirring music belongs in every jazz collection, for it does represent one of Charles Mingus' finest hours.

-01. "Dizzy Moods"
-02. "Ysabel's Table Dance"
-03. "Tijuana Gift Shop"
-04. "Los Mariachis"
-05. "Flamingo"
-06. "Dizzy Moods (Alternate Take)"
-07. "Ysabel's Table Dance (Alternate Take)"
-08. "Los Mariachis (Alternate Take)"
-09. "Flamingo (Alternate Take)"
-01. "Tijuana Gift Shop (Alternate Take)"
-02. "A Colloquial Dream"
-03. "Flamingo (Alternate Take)"
-04. "Ysabel's Table Dance (Composite Incomplete Take)"
-05. "Dizzy Moods (Junkyard Take 8)"
-06. "Dizzy Moods (Bass Solos Take 14)"
-07. "Tijuana Gift Shop (Alternate Takes 1-4)"
-08. "Tijuana Gift Shop (Alternate Take 6)"
-09. "Los Mariachis (Take 1-3)"
-10. "Los Mariachis (Take 5-10)"
-11. "Los Mariachis (Take 15-23)"
-12. "A Colloquial Dream (Take 6)"
-13. "A Colloquial Dream (Take 8)"

* Charles Mingus, bass, vocals
* Clarence Shaw, trumpet
* Jimmy Knepper, trombone
* Shafi Hadi, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
* Bill Triglia, piano
* Dannie Richmond, drums
* Ysabel Morel, castanets, vocals
* Frankie Dunlop, percussion
* Lonnie Elder, voices



Gary Burton & Makoto Ozone - Face To Face (1994)

Gary Burton & Makoto Ozone - Face To Face (1994)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 320MB
This set of duets between vibraphonist Gary Burton and pianist Makoto Ozone is a bit of a surprise, not the quiet and introverted date one might expect but a consistently exciting outing. The duo (who first started working together back in 1982) clearly inspires each other and a lot of sparks fly. The music ranges from three of Ozone's diverse originals and Astor Piazzola's "Laura's Romance" to a pair of Thelonious Monk tunes, a few standards and a romping version of the Benny Goodman-associated "Opus Half"; on the latter Ozone plays some creditable stride piano. More than half of the selections are taken at medium-to-fast tempos and, whether it be "Blue Monk," a memorable version of Jobim's "O Grande Amor" or a heated rendition of Steve Swallow's "Eiderdown," this is a highly enjoyable outing, one of Burton's finest of the past decade.

-01. "Kato's Revenge" - Makoto Ozone - 7:07
-02. "Monk's Dream" - Thelonious Monk - 5:08
-03. "For Heaven's Sake" - Elise Bretton / S. Edwards .. - 7:21
-04. "Bento Box" - Makoto Ozone - 6:01
-05. "Blue Monk" - Thelonious Monk - 6:50
-06. "O Grande Amor" - Antonio Carlos Jobim / Vinícius de Moraes - 6:11
-07. "Laura's Dream" - Astor Piazzolla - 10:04
-08. "Opus Half" - Benny Goodman - 5:19
-09. "My Romance" - Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers - 6:00
-10. "Times Like These" - Dan Fogelberg / Makoto Ozone - 6:25
-11. "Eiderdown" - Steve Swallow - 5:59

* Gary Burton (vibraphone)
* Makoto Ozone (piano)



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