31 January, 2013


Eberhard Weber - Stages Of A Long Journey (2005)

Eberhard Weber 2005 - Stages Of A Long Journey
jazz, classical | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 390MB
Stages of a Long Journey was recorded in Stuttgart in March of 2005, as part of a celebration of both the 20th anniversary of the Theaterhaus Jazzstage festival and as a 65th birthday celebration for bassist Eberhard Weber. Weber was asked to pick a number of his own compositions, rearrange them by writing new charts for the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, and select his own band as well. Weber picked on former and current bandmates such as Gary Burton, Jan Garbarek, Rainer Bruninghaus, Marilyn Mazur, Wolfgang Dauner, Reto Weber, and human beatbox Nino G., and carefully chose material from his own catalog and pieces he had performed on in their initial recordings, such as Bruninghaus's "Piano Transition," Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," Mazur's "Percussion Transition," and Carla Bley's "Syndrome." Those wondering if there is any actual "jazz" on this record need look no further than the gorgeous version of Bley's tune here, where Burton, Garbarek, and the bassist all shine. Another consideration for the listener is in Weber's beautiful, inventive, rhythmic charts for the orchestra (under the direction of Roland Kluttig). "Silent Feet," which opens the set, is one such exercise. What begins as a slow bowed bassline is colored and enlarged by the orchestra entering gradually, tensely, and dramatically, as grey dawn emerges from the night sky. A pulse begins just after Mazur's percussion entry, the band plays these intricate rhythmic phrases, and the orchestra adds genuine color, texture, and depth. They follow rhythmic signature perfectly, allowing the tune to evolve and bring its delightfully understated melodic frame (which is not inseparable from the pulse) to the fore. By the time Garbarek takes his solo and Weber plays double time behind him, the big brassy horns are ready to push and drop out only as Burton enters with a truly lovely and poetic solo.
There are a fine pair of duets played here as well, between Dauner on piano and Weber's bass on the lovely Kern number, and also "Seven Movements," shared by the bassist and Garbarek. They set the stage for what follows, the elongated "Birthday Suite" that encompasses five pieces -- bookended by gorgeous readings of two of Weber's best-known pieces, "The Colours of Cloë" and "Yellow Fields." On "Hang Around," a trio of Nino G., Weber's downright funky acoustic bass, and the self-designed percussion instrument played by Reto Weber (no relation) called the "hang," are in deep intuitive interplay. The work by G. is not a novelty, but something inventive, utterly fresh, and full of the energy -- especially in G.'s solo. The final two pieces of the evening are in many ways the most satisfying. The full band returns on "The Last Stage of a Long Journey," where the orchestra introduces the brooding and melancholy composition. Strings and the deep brass of tuba and euphonium gradually bring up the tempo and introduce the lithe melody, as Weber brings his bass up from the ether. When Bruninghaus restates the theme on the piano and Weber is allowed free play inside the rhythm, Burton begins to color it. When Garbarek's icy soprano saxophone cries out, it is arresting and rings true. The concert ends with a brief bass solo by Weber on "Air." In just over three minutes, the great bassist is not remotely interested in showing his chops but in playing this bittersweet little song as a folk tune. This is a watershed moment in Weber's recorded output, because it reveals his collective gifts as a musician, which, even when understated, are shining examples of the European jazz, folk, classical, and new music he has forged these last 40 years as a leader and as a valued sideman and composer.

-01. "Silent Feet" - 7:37
-02. "Syndrome" - 7:44
-03. "Yesterdays" - 5:03
-04. "Seven Movements / Birthday Suite" - 5:54
-05. "Colours of Chloe" - 7:19
-06. "Piano Transitino" - 4:11
-07. "Maurizius" - 7:04
-08. "Percussion transition" - 3:03
-09. "Yellow Fields" - 7:01
-10. "Hang Around" - 4:17
-11. "Last Stage of a Long Journey" - 11:06
-12. "Air" - 3:10

* Gary Burton - vibraphone
* Jan Garbarek - soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
* Eberhard Weber - bass instrument
* Rainer Bruninghaus - piano, keyboards
* Marilyn Mazur - drums, percussion
* Wolfgang Dauner - piano
* Nino G
* Roland Kluttig
* SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra


Jaki Byard - On The Spot! (1967)

Jaki Byard - On The Spot! (1967)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 235MB
This album mostly features pianist Jaki Byard (who plays alto on "A-Toodle-oo, Toodle-oo") with a quartet comprised of trumpeter Jimmy Owens, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Billy Higgins in 1967. With a repertoire stretching from "I Fall In Love Too Easily" and the boppish "Second Balcony Jump" to "GEB Piano Roll" and even "Alexander's Ragtime Band," the music serves as a perfect outlet for Jaki Byard's eclectic talents; a highlight is the Byard-Chambers duet "P.C. Blues." The recording is rounded off by a leftover track ("Spanish Tinge") from a 1965 live session featuring Byard, bassist George Tucker and drummer Alan Dawson.

-1. "A-Toodle-Oo, Toodle-Oo" - 3:51
-2. "I Fall in Love Too Easily" (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne) - 2:31
-3. "Olean Visit" - 5:58
-4. "Spanish Tinge" - 6:17
-5. "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (Irving Berlin) - 2:34
-6. "On the Spot" - 3:22
-7. "GEB Piano Roll" - 2:42
-8. "Second Balcony Jump" (Billy Eckstine, Gerald Valentine) - 6:57
-9. "P.C. Blues" - 2:19
-10. "Snow Flakes" - 3:14
* Recorded at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on February 16, 1967 except track 4 which was recorded live at Lennie's on the Turnpike in West Peabody, Massachusetts on April 15, 1965

* Jaki Byard - piano, alto saxophone
* Jimmy Owens - trumpet, flugelhorn, tambourine
* Paul Chambers (tracks 1-3 & 5-10), George Tucker (track 4) - bass
* Alan Dawson (track 4), Billy Higgins (tracks 1-3 & 5-10) - drums



Chuck Mangione - Children Of Sanchez (1979)

Chuck Mangione - Children Of Sanchez (1979)
jazz | 2cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 510MB
Chuck Mangione composed this music for a film soundtrack in 1978, but it quickly took on a life of its own when it was released as a two LP set, garnering a loyalty the film never enjoyed. Its film origins certainly show both in the purely atmospheric quality of some of the music and in the earnest vocals and awkward lyrics that introduce the suite and later reappear. However, the simple themes and the powerful, minimal orchestrations--brass and drums for funereal military music; cello, flute, guitar, and eerie voice for the very pretty "Consuelo's Love Theme"--retain a strong appeal. Mangione's own performance on flügelhorn--sometimes hinting at Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain transported to harsher terrain--is frequently riveting, a darkly expressive, soulful element that conveys undiluted passion, sorrow, and joy.
Thanks to the Latin-inflected title track, Children of Sanchez became another huge hit for Chuck Mangione. The title song even earned him a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, and serious jazz listeners will spot a problem with that award -- it was for pop, not jazz. That, of course, is an accurate assessment of Mangione's music, since there isn't much improvisation on the album at all. Instead, there's a selection of Spanish and Latin-flavored instrumentals, arranged as if to give the impression that the album is a song cycle. If so, it's a song cycle/concept album that doesn't go anywhere. Nevertheless, there's enough pleasant music here to satisfy fans of his pop stylings.

-1. Children Of Sanchez (Overture)
-2. Lullabye
-3. Fanfare
-4. Pilgrimage (Part 1)
-5. Pilgrimage (Part2)
-6. Consuelo's Love Theme
-1. Hot Consuelo
-2. Death Scene
-3. Market Place
-4. Echano
-5. Bellavia
-6. Lullabye
-7. Medley
-8. B'Bye


9. Children Of Sanchez (Finale)

15 January, 2013


Jimmy Giuffre - Free Fall (1963)

Jimmy Giuffre - Free Fall (1963)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 310MB
Jimmy Giuffre's 1962 recording for Columbia with his trio is one of the most revolutionary recordings to come out of the 1960s. While Coltrane and Coleman and Taylor were trying to tear music down from the inside out to discover what it really counted for, Giuffre was quietly creating his own microtonal revolution that was being overlooked by other avant-gardists in jazz. On Free Fall, Giuffre, pianist Paul Bley, and bassist Steve Swallow embarked on a voyage even farther-reaching than their previous two Verve albums, Fusion and Thesis (both recorded in 1961), in their search of pointillistic harmony, open-toned playing, and the power of the nuanced phrase to open new vistas for solo or group improvisation. The original album is comprised of five clarinet solos, two duets for clarinet and bass, and three trio pieces. The CD reissue adds five more clarinet solos to the bank and makes it a stunning view of Giuffre as a master of the idiom of not only jazz free improvisation but also a fine interpreter of the musical languages being discussed by classical composers Darius Milhaud, Stravinsky, Messiaen, and even Morton Feldman and Earle Brown. All of Giuffre's clarinet studies -- particularly "Man Alone," "Yggdrasill," and "Present Motion" -- are studies in tonal coloration, where phraseology opens onto second and third tonal ideas being layered atop one another to de-emphasize one or the other. Of the group interactions, "Threewe" and "Spasmodic" offer the view of intertwining chromatic pointillism as it shapes itself linguistically between one instrument and the next without concern for a dominant harmony, rhythm, or melody. Indeed, Free Fall was such radical music, no one, literally no one, was ready for it and the group disbanded shortly thereafter on a night when they made only 35 cents apiece for a set. Reissued in 1999, Free Fall predates all of the European microtonal studies and is indeed an inspiration to all who have embraced it.

-01. Propulsion - 3:08
-02. Three We - 4:13
-03. Ornothoids - 2:46
-04. Dichotomy - 4:00
-05. Man Alone - 2:20
-06. Spasmodic - 3:29
-07. Yggdrasill - 2:34
-08. Divided Man - 1:56
-09. Primordial Call - 3:26
-10. The Five Ways - 2:20
-11. Present Notion - 10:22
-12. Motion Suspended - 3:44
-13. Future Plans - 3:18
-14. Past Mistakes - 3:58
-15. Time Will Tell - 2:07
-16. Let's See - 3:51

* Jimmy Giuffre - clarinet, tenor and baritone saxophone
* Paul Bley - piano
* Steve Swallow - double bass



Jaki Byard - Blues for Smoke (1960)

Jaki Byard - Blues for Smoke (1960)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 195MB
Pianist Jaki Byard's first recording as a leader was not released domestically until this 1988 CD. That fact seems strange for Byard is absolutely brilliant on the solo piano set. Many of his selections (all nine tunes are his originals) look both backwards to pre-bop styles and ahead to the avant-garde including such numbers as "Pete and Thomas (Tribute to the Ticklers)," "Spanish Tinge No. 1," and "One, Two, Five." The most remarkable selection is "Jaki's Blues Next" which has Byard alternating between James P. Johnson-type stride and free form à la Cecil Taylor; at its conclusion he plays both styles at the same time. A highly recommended outing from a very underrated pianist.

-1. "Journey/Hollis Stomp/Milan to Lyon" - 5:57
-2. "Aluminum Baby" - 4:32
-3. "Pete and Thomas (Tribute to the Ticklers)" - 3:41
-4. "Spanish Tinge No 1" - 4:12
-5. "Flight of the Fly" - 5:44
-6. "Blues for Smoke" - 4:52
-7. "Jaki's Blues Next" - 2:07
-8. "Diane's Melody" - 5:05
-9. "One Two Five" - 2:40

* Jaki Byard - piano



RCA Living Stereo: Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben (1954)

RCA Living Stereo: Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben (1954)
Fritz Reinar & Chicago S O
classical | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 450MB
RCA | SACD | rel.: 2004
Ein Heldenleben can occasionally sound like 30 minutes of real music with a 15-minute violin concerto placed in its middle; it requires an interpreter with grip and a long view of the score to hold the piece together. Fritz Reiner was just that, and his 1954 account of Heldenleben is still on the top of the pile. It is a formidable reading--huge, massive, yet with an Old World expressiveness in the strings and gloriously transparent textures. Reiner's interpretation of Zarathustra, recorded at the same time, is equally impressive. Stunning is the only word to describe the remastering job RCA has done with the original recordings: the richness of sound is staggering for documents now more than 40 years old. --Ted Libbey
This recording was the hi-fi demo disc of the 1950s. On CD, it still sounds pretty incredible; an achievement as remarkable technically as it is musically. And what playing! Fritz Reiner sadistically enjoyed driving his players to despair. There's a famous story about principal trumpeter Adolph (Bud) Herseth, who played his tricky little fanfare at the beginning of the second half of Zarathustra so perfectly so many times that even Reiner finally gave up. Most critics and Strauss lovers consider Reiner's performance of A Hero's Life to be the best ever committed to disc, and I'd be the last one to disagree. This is one of those recordings where everything just went right. --David Hurwitz
RCA Victor's 1954-vintage stereophony has scarcely aged, all to the better of these ageless performances, heard in their finest transfers yet. Fritz Reiner's Ein Heldenleben fuses drama, poetry, scrupulous balances, bracing rhythm, and purposeful detail into a cogent whole. Much the same holds true for Reiner's Zarathusatra from the same year. Yes, the organ is foully out-of-tune, and a few exposed tympani notes are similarly suspect. Some may prefer Reiner's less flashy, more internalized 1960 Zarathustra remake, although it doesn't quite make the sonic impact of its hallowed predecessor. May this disc never be deleted. --Jed Distler

Also Sprach Zarathustra Op. 30
-01. Introduction
-02. Of The Inhabitans Of The Unseen World
-03. Of The Great Longing
-04. Of Joys And Passions
-05. Dirge
-06. Of Sience
-07. The Convalescent
-08. Dance Song And Night Song
-09. Night Wanderer's Song
Ein Heldenleben Op. 40
-10. The Hero
-11. The Hero's Adversaries
-12. The Hero's Companion
-13. The Hero's Battlefield
-14. The Hero's Works Of Peace
-15. The Hero's Retreat From The World And Fulfillment



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