30 December, 2013


Kai Winding & J.J. Johnson - Nuf Said (1955)

Kai Winding & J.J. Johnson - Nuf Said (1955)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 210MB
Betlehem-Avenue R2 7599
At times sounding indistinguishable soloing side by side, trombonists Kai Winding and J.J. Johnson gained unexpected fame from a series of collaborative efforts cut during the mid-'50s. Sandwiched between their initial Savoy outing and several Columbia releases (and a later reunion session for Impulse), 1955's Nuf Said features the soloists in a buoyant West Coast mood on several medium- to fast-tempo swingers. Winding and Johnson both turn in fluid, tonally rounded statements, while pianist Dick Katz, bassists Milt Hinton and Wendell Marshall, and drummer Al Harewood (using brushes most of the time) provide plush rhythmic support. In addition to impressively arranged covers like "Mad About the Boy" and "Out of This World," Johnson and Winding each contribute two attractive originals -­ Winding's "Gong Rock" gets special note not only for its then-exotic incorporation of gong sounds, but also for the title's evocation of a time-travel meeting between the trombonist and glam rocker T. Rex. Musical fantasy aside, this Bethlehem reissue by Avenue Jazz pads the original set with seven worthwhile alternate takes and tops things off with superb sound and helpful liner notes. And though some might find the music here a bit thin (a common criticism of the West Coast sound which, ironically, gets turned on its ear this time around since all the musicians involved are from the East Coast), the arrangements and playing are so engaging and of such high quality that categorization dilemmas disappear. A fine disc.

-01. "Out of This World" - Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer - 2:20
-02. "Thou Swell" - Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers - 2:55
-03. "Lover" - Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers - 5:34
-04. "Lope City" - J.J. Johnson - 3:32
-05. "Stolen Bass" - J.J. Johnson - 2:56
-06. "It's All Right With Me" - Cole - 5:06
-07. "Mad About the Boy" - Noël Coward - 3:32
-08. "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" - Walter Donaldson / Gus Kahn - 4:06
-09. "That's How I Feel About You" - Kai Winding - 3:59
-10. "Gong Rock" - Kai Winding - 3:25
-11. "It's All Right With Me" - Cole Porter - 5:31
-12. "Lover" - Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers - 5:39
-13. "Gong Rock" - Kai Winding - 3:25
-14. "Lope City" - J.J. Johnson - 3:42
-15. "It's All Right With Me" - Cole Porter - 6:24
-16. "Out of This World" - Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer - 2:28
-17. "That's How I Feel About You" - Kai Winding - 4:08

* Kai Winding (trombone)
* J.J. Johnson (trombone)
* Dick Katz (piano)
* Al Harewood (drums)


28 December, 2013


Third Ear Band - Alchemy & Elements (1969 & 70)

Third Ear Band - Alchemy & Elements (1969 & 70)
avantgarde | 2cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 590MB
Alchemy: Started in 1968 by percussionist Glen Sweeney and reedist Paul Minns, Third Ear Band was formed from the ashes of a previous Sweeney project, the psych band Hydrogen Juke Box. While generally overlooked in the history of British and improvised music, Third Ear Band developed a distinctive and aesthetically important sound -- equal parts Indian, psychedelic, and minimalist -- dubbed "electric-acid-raga" by Sweeney. Alchemy, their first release, is a wonderful record. With shorter tracks than found on later albums, Third Ear Band here makes excursions into improvised chamber music. In the opener, "Mosaic," which is at seven minutes one of the longest cuts, guitar meets recorder and violin in a disharmonic free jazz summit that fades away before building into a trancy mini-crescendo. On "Stone Circle," recorder lines interweave over an unadorned drum's repetitive rhythm. At times the recorder lines are so fluid and unnatural they sound like they're being played backwards -- which indeed they just might be. Generally the remainder of the tracks run the course between half-structured improv and droning chaos. Comparisons could be drawn to Soft Machine or the Dream Syndicate, but neither quite has the sense of "collective first" nor the repetitive insistence of Third Ear Band. The songs, to quote Sweeney again, are "alike or unlike as trees." For those even vaguely interested in the history of innovative music, Alchemy is worth hunting down.
Elements (aka Third Ear Band ): Their self-titled, second album is probably their definitive statement, consisting of four lengthy tracks devoted to the primary elements ("Air," "Earth, " "Fire, " "Water"). The feeling is one of improvised (though well-conceived) pieces that build up from initial drones to multi-layered ragas built around the same initial patterns. Their strong debts to both Indian music and contemporary experimental/minimalist compositions are evident. It's not accessible enough for the average rock (or even average progressive rock) listener. But it's certainly more geared toward the adventurous rock listener than the most challenging and/or difficult contemporary avant-garde music.

-1. Mosaic – 6:31
-2. Ghetto Raga – 10:32
-3. Druid One – 3:49
-4. Stone Circle – 3:28
-5. Egyptian Book of the Dead – 8:55
-6. Area Three – 8:33
-7. Dragon Lines – 5:33
-8. Lark Rise – 2:46
-1. Air – 10:30
-2. Earth – 9:53
-3. Fire – 9:19
-4. Water – 7:04

* Paul Minns – oboe, recorder
* Mel Davis – cello, pipe
* Glen Sweeney – chimes, drums, tabla, wind chimes, hand drums
* Richard Coff – violin, viola
* Dave Tomlin – violin
* John Peel – harmonica, jaw harp
* Paul Minns – oboe
* Glen Sweeney – percussion
* Ursula Smith – cello
* Richard Coff – violin and viola


22 December, 2013


Oscar Peterson - Tristeza on Piano (1970)

Oscar Peterson - Tristeza on Piano (1970)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 290MB
MPS 06024 9827010 24bit remaster
At the beginning of this set Oscar Peterson so overwhelms the normally gentle "Tristeza" that it almost becomes a parody. Fortunately the remainder of the bossa nova-flavored CD reissue is more tasteful and, even if Peterson is overly hyper in spots, he is able to bring out the beauty of such songs as George Gershwin's "Porgy," Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Trieste" and "Watch What Happens" in addition to stomping through the straightahead "You Stepped out of a Dream."

-1. "Tristeza" (Haroldo Lobo, Niltinho) – 3:13
-2. "Nightingale" (Oscar Peterson, Gene Lees) – 6:42
-3. "Porgy" (George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward) – 6:12
-4. "Triste" (Antonio Carlos Jobim) – 5:21
-5. "You Stepped Out of a Dream" (Nacio Herb Brown, Gus Kahn) – 3:31
-6. "Watch What Happens" (Michel LeGrand, Norman Gimbel) – 6:10
-7. "Down Here on the Ground" (Lalo Schiffrin, Gale Garnett) – 8:46
-8. "Fly Me to the Moon" (Bart Howard) – 4:38

* Oscar Peterson – Piano
* Sam Jones – Double bass
* Bobby Durham – drums



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