11 June, 2015


Lee Morgan - The Sixth Sense (1969)

Lee Morgan - The Sixth Sense (1969)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-covers | 420MB
Blue Note/EMI 7243 5 92423 2 3;  RVG 2004
From late 1967 through 1968, Lee Morgan fronted a fine sextet with alto saxophonist Jackie McLean and the less-heralded tenor saxophonist Frank Mitchell. The group recorded The Sixth Sense, but by September of 1968, Morgan, Mitchell, and drummer Billy Higgins remained, the band revamped and reduced to a quintet. Those later sessions were not released until 1999 with the issue of this CD, which includes three bonus tracks. Where McLean's contribution was very telling in terms of the combo's overall sound, the quintet was able to further display the quiet confidence and competence Mitchell held. Either Cedar Walton or Harold Mabern appear showcasing their distinctive qualities, so this transitional recording marks the end of Walton's association, and the beginning of Mabern's, who would last with Morgan right up to his tragic and senseless murder. The symmetry of McLean's sourdough alto, Morgan's on-top trumpet and the middle-ground tenor of Mitchell is more balanced on the straight-ahead calypso title track, sweet and light as Walton sets the pace and proportions the right seasonings. "Short Count" on the other hand displays a stubby melody spiked by Walton's piano accents and the drum fills of Higgins in a more off minor taste. Approaching boogaloo go-go, "Psychedelic" is not so much acidic as conga line, Morgan leading the group, then following. The most memorable piece is Walton's "Afreaka," a wonderful modal piece with an Afro-centric groove and great harmonic content. High drama identifies "Anti Climax" with a dark, closet film noir sound acceding to hard bop, while the great Cal Massey composition "The Cry of My People" is covered, a ballad dominated by Morgan's somber and deep muted trumpet, swinging lightly on the bridge. The three tracks sans McLean and Walton with Morgan, Mitchell, Mabern, Higgins, and bassist Mickey Bass replacing Victor Sproles from the fall of 1968 sound noticeably different from the others. There's a more soulful flavor in Mabern's Memphis-cum-N.Y.C. uptown approach, and Mitchell challenges himself to assert his individual, less-pronounced voicings. The tenorman's post-bop composition "Extemporaneous" displays tricky phrasings and a musical syncopation, Bass' "Mickey's Tune" uses a loping 5/4 to 6/8 rhythm change so modern it keeps your ears on their toes, so to speak, and while "Leebop" is fairly typical, the chord substitutions and brilliant playing of Mabern are hard to ignore as he digs in, far above average or timid. The more one listens to Mabern the more you understand why he was a favorite of Morgan's, and everyone else's. The appropriately title Sixth Sense presents a transition between one of the most intriguing sextets during the last years of post-bop and Morgan's final ensembles that saw him reaching higher and higher before, like Icarus, falling from grace.

01. The Sixth Sensev (6:46)
02. Short Count (6:03)
03. Psychedelic (6:32)
04. Afreaka (8:03)
05. Anti Climax (6:19)
06. The Cry Of My People (5:24)
07. xtemporaneous (5:09)
08. Mickey's Tune (6:36)
09. Leebop (5:38)

- Lee Morgan - trumpet
- Jackie McLean - alto saxophone
- Frank Mitchell - tenor saxophone
- Cedar Walton - piano
- Victor Sproles - bass
- Billy Higgins - drums
- Harold Mabern - piano
- Mickey Bass - bass

15 February, 2015


Mingus Big Band - Blues & Politics (1999)

Mingus Big Band - Blues & Politics (1999)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-covers | 485MB
Dreyfus, FDM 36603-2
The MBB has become the most important and virile "ghost band" of them all. Their roaring, swinging spirit echoes the late bassist/composer/bandleader in ways that compare favorably to when Mingus was alive. The musicianship, rotating as it tends to, is consistently and outrageously outstanding, the new arrangements of classic Mingus tunes are fresh and vibrant as ever, and solos absolutely riveting. For this time around the band includes lead trumpeter Earl Gardner, lead alto/soprano saxophonist Alex Foster, and prominent soloists include tenor saxophonists Mark Shim, Seamus Blake, and John Stubblefield; trumpeters Randy Brecker and Alex Sipiagin; baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber; trombonist Conrad Herwig; alto saxophonists Bobby Watson and Vincent Herring; and arrangements by Michael Mossman, Sy Johnson, Howard Johnson, and Steve Slagle. Mingus himself speaks during the introductory "It Was a Lonely Day in Selma, Alabama," then the band chants and claps to "Freedom," certainly a prolific tone setter. "Haitian Fight Song" has bassist Boris Kozlov leading the angst-riddled charge, the piece played to perfection. The classic ode to Lester Young "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" is accented by tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake's patient, poignant solo and the band's pristine reading of Sy Johnson's new chart. "Don't Let It Happen Here," with its tango-flavored fanfare and son Eric Mingus' recitation, rivals the original. "Meditations for a Pair of Wire Cutters" has all the dynamic stop-start Mingus traits, "Pussycat Dues," is a pretty straight by comparison blues, "Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me" has Eric Mingus returning on the slow blues that still has relevance today as he shouts "don't let 'em drop it, stop it, be-bop it," and the 16-minute finale "Little Royal Suite" is so Ellingtonian in flavor, a full-bore swinger that lets the band, especially soloists Sipiagin, Stubblefield, and Herring running wild out of their cages. To interpret Mingus' music so faithfully and with such great authenticity and zeal is not an easy task. Another triumph for this ensemble, easily a Top Five jazz album of 1999, an essential purchase. Much more could be written or said, but Mingus and the band speak much louder than words.

01. It Was a Lonely Day In Selma, Alabama , Freedom (8:45)
02. Haitian Fight Song (8:22)
03. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (9:48)
04. Don't Let it Happen Here (5:15)
05. Meditations For A Pair of Wire-Cutters (11:39)
06. Pussycat Dues (6:37)
07. Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me (8:57)
08. Little Royal Suite (15:59)

23 January, 2015


Bill Frisell - Rambler (1984)

Bill Frisell - Rambler (1984)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-covers | 265MB
ECM 1987, released: 2008

This relatively early set from Bill Frisell is a fine showcase for the utterly unique guitarist. Frisell has the ability to play nearly any extroverted style of music and his humor (check out the date's "Music I Heard") is rarely far below the surface. This particular quintet (with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, tuba player Bob Stewart, electric bassist Jerome Harris and drummer Paul Motian) is not exactly short of original personalities and their outing (featuring seven Frisell compositions) is one of the most lively of all the ones in the ECM catalog.

01. Tone (8:01)
02. Music I Heard (4:50)
03. Rambler (8:20)
04. When We Go (5:20)
05. Resistor (5:49)
06. Strange Meeting (7:06)
07. Wizard Of Odds (6:20)

- Bill Frisell – guitar, guitar synthesizer
- Kenny Wheeler – trumpet, cornet and fluegelhorn
- Bob Stewart – tuba
- Jerome Harris – electric bass
- Paul Motian – drums

16 May, 2014


Kronos Quartet - Music by Sculthorpe, Sallinen, Glass, Nancarrow, Hendrix (1986)

  Kronos Quartet  - Music by Sculthorpe, Sallinen, Glass, Nancarrow, Hendrix (1986)
contemporary | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-covers | 210MB
Nonesuch 7559-79111-2
To say this barrier-breaking string quartet plays modern music is an understatement. All of the five composers showcased on this audacious recording were born in the 20th century. Minimalist Philip Glass is among the best known of the five, whose works cannot possibly be mistaken with anything from the baroque or classical periods. This particular foursome illustrates the grace, beauty, and even power of a string quartet, but goes well beyond. In the words of first violinist and leader David Harrington, "I've always wanted the string quartet to be vital, and energetic, and alive, and cool, and not afraid to kick ass and be absolutely beautiful and ugly if it has to be." The album-ending cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic "Purple Haze" must be heard to be believed.

-01. "String Quartet No. 8, Mvt. I Con dolore" - Peter Sculthorpe 2:04
-02. "String Quartet No. 8, Mvt. II Risoluto" - Sculthorpe 3:49
-03. "String Quartet No. 8, Mvt. III Con dolore" - Sculthorpe 3:02
-04. "String Quartet No. 8, Mvt. IV Con precisione" - Sculthorpe 1:49
-05. "String Quartet No. 8, Mvt. V Con dolore" - Sculthorpe 2:07
-06. "String Quartet No. 3: Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik's Funeral March" - Sallinen 14:05
-07. "Company, Mvt. I" - Philip Glass 2:22
-08. "Company, Mvt. II" - Glass 1:36
-09. "Company, Mvt. III" - Glass 1:46
-10. "Company, Mvt. IV" - Glass 2:14
-11. "String Quartet, Mvt. I Allegro molto" - Conlon Nancarrow 2:18
-12. "String Quartet, Mvt. II Andante moderato" - Nancarrow 3:31
-13. "String Quartet, Mvt. III Prestissimo" - Nancarrow 5:17
-14. "Purple Haze" - Jimi Hendrix, arr. Steve Riffkin 2:52

09 May, 2014


Kenny Burrell & Jimmy Raney - 2 Guitars (1957)

  Kenny Burrell & Jimmy Raney - 2 Guitars (1957)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-covers | 165MB
For this 1957 studio session (which has been reissued on CD through the Original Jazz Classics imprint), the two distinctive but complementary guitarists Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Raney are teamed together in a septet with trumpeter Donald Byrd, altoist Jackie McLean, pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Art Taylor. The full group gets to stretch out on one original each by Watkins and McLean ("Little Melonae") and three from Waldron, while the two standards ("Close Your Eyes" and "Out of Nowhere") are individual features for Burrell and Raney. This is a well-rounded set that may not contain any real surprises, but will be enjoyed by collectors of hard bop.

1. "Blue Duke" - 8:50
2. "Dead Heat" - 4:07
3. "Pivot" - 5:13
4. "Close Your Eyes" (Bernice Petkere) - 4:50
5. "Little Melonae" (Jackie McLean) - 9:29
6. "This Way" (Doug Watkins) - 12:25
7. "Out of Nowhere" (Johnny Green, Edward Heyman) - 4:31

* Kenny Burrell (tracks 1-6), Jimmy Raney (tracks 1-3 & 5-7) - guitar
* Donald Byrd - trumpet (tracks 1-3, 5 & 6)
* Jackie McLean - alto saxophone (tracks 1-3, 5 & 6)
* Mal Waldron - piano
* Doug Watkins - bass
* Art Taylor - drums

25 April, 2014


Charles Mingus, John LaPorta - Jazzical Moods (1954)

  Charles Mingus, John LaPorta - Jazzical Moods (1954)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-covers | 235MB
OJC limited edition OJCCD-1857-2
Originally recorded for Period Records in 1954, this fairly obscure early Charles Mingus session is a collaboration with composer John LaPorta, who is heard on clarinet and alto saxophone. It's a fascinating effort that shows Mingus' awareness of both modern European classical composition and cool jazz.
The set includes a mix of Mingus and LaPorta originals, plus freshly arranged standards like "What Is This Thing Called Love" and "Stormy Weather." Also on hand are the great trumpeter Thad Jones and saxophonist/producer Teo Macero. The album features Mingus' debut on piano.

1. "What Is This Thing Called Love?" - 8:08
2. "Stormy Weather" - 3:18
3. "Minor Intrusion" - 10:13
4. "Abstractions" - 4:12
5. "Thrice Upon A Theme" - 6:40
6. "Four Hands" - 8:50
7. "The Spur Of The Moment/Echonitus" - 8:36

* Bass, Piano – Charles Mingus
* Cello – Jackson Wiley
* Clarinet, Alto Saxophone – John LaPorta
* Drums – Clem DeRosa*

04 April, 2014


Petra Haden And Bill Frisell - Petra Haden And Bill Frisell (2004)

  Petra Haden And Bill Frisell  - Petra Haden And Bill Frisell (2004)
jazz | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-covers | 265MB
Rykodisc/Hannibal HNCD1472
It's safe to say that most albums don't include renditions of tunes by Foo Fighters, George Gershwin, and Stevie Wonder, along with traditional Tuvan folk songs, together on the same track list. Unless, of course, you're referring to the 2005 disc by the duo of Bill Frisell and Petra Haden. One of the foremost guitarists in contemporary jazz, Frisell is renowned for his signature guitarscapes, heard through a galaxy of effects and loops. Haden is an eclectic vocalist/violinist formerly of the indie-pop group That Dog (and, incidentally, the daughter of jazz bass great Charlie Haden), whose singing is guileless, experimental, and endearing all at once.
Together, Haden and Frisell create an unexpected magic, with Frisell's shimmering chords and electronically embellished atmospheres providing the perfect pillow for Haden's sleepy, breathy voice (which she layers in harmonies to excellent effect). The songs--also including Coldplay's "Yellow," Henry Mancini's "Moon River," Tom Waits's "I Don't Want to Grow Up," and the Disney classic "When You Wish Upon a Star"--are incongruous only in theory. The lush, lullaby-like quality of the duo's sound gives the album a remarkably cohesive feel, highlighting the strength of the material and the chemistry of this unusual pair.

01. "Satelliteˇ- Elliott Smith - 2:37
02. "Floatyˇ- Dave Grohl - 6:55
03. "Bai-La Taigamˇ- Traditional - 5:22
04. "Moon Riverˇ- Henry Mancini / Johnny Mercer - 2:22
05. "Yellowˇ- Guy Berryman / Jon Buckland / Will Champion / Chris Martin - 4:39
06. "I Don't Want to Grow Upˇ- Kathleen Brennan / Tom Waits - 3:37
07. "The Quiet Roomˇ- Petra Haden - 4:21
08. "When You Wish Upon a Starˇ- Leigh Harline / Ned Washington - 2:34
09. "I Believeˇ- Stevie Wonder - 6:17
10. "John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Manˇ- Traditional - 2:40
11. "I've Got a Crush on Youˇ- George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin - 3:46
12. "Throughoutˇ- Bill Frisell - 4:02


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