Saturday, May 28, 2011

JR searching for contributors!

I'm searching 2/3 releasers to publish their own shit over here, without stint, and make Jizzrelics always updated.

With Totallyfuzzy closing is blog-aggregator activities and the DMCA crushing heavily on bloggers, is becoming an heavier task manage a good mp3-blog and make it running smooth.

So I gave you the opportuniy to post your uploads on a 30.000 pageviews a month and to our readers a juicy basket of fresh music on a daily basis.

All genres are welcome.

Let me know by commenting here or dropping a line at sacco.vanzetti(a)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jackie Mclean - One Step Beyond

This 1963 album was an exciting, innovative fencemender that drew together the warring factions of the hard boppers versus the avant gardists. Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean's roots reached back into the Forties where he learned from Bud Powell and Charlie Parker. On this album, he wedded swing with freer musical expression, and introduced four giants to the jazz world: trombonist/composer Grachan Moncur III, vibist Bobby Hutcherson, bassist Eddie Khan, and drummer Tony Williams, who at 17 years of age was a month from joining the Miles Davis Quintet. The music remains fresh and exhilarating to this day driven by a youngster's masterful, innovative approach to the drums.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Autechre - EPs 1991-2002

Band: Autechre
Album: EPs 1991-2002
Filesize: 770 MB
Bitrate: 320kbps

Take a breath: this is a lot of music. Like, six hours, five discs, one decade. Autechre, titans of IDM or whatever we should call it (“Warp Records” should say enough), have been around for two decades now. Think of this box set as a celebration, a compendium of the first half of the group’s EPs. Here’s what you get for your time and money: “Cavity Job” (1991, and never released since its initial pressing), Basscadet (1994), Anti EP (1994), Garbage (1995), Anvil Vapre (1995), the band’s first Peel Session (1995), Envane (1997), Chichlisuite (1997), EP7 (1999), Peel Session 2 (2001), and Gantz Graf (2002). In other words, it’s an investment. But give EPs 1991-2002 time to breathe, and you can find the narrative here. To simplify, Autechre moves from the complex but recognizable club fare of “Cavity Job” and the Basscadet remixes to the challenging abstractions of EP7 and Gantz Graf. Though practically impossible to inhale in one breath, the collection gives a clear sense of a restless team, of Sean Booth and Rob Brown’s relentless forward momentum. Some of the sounds here still resonate as utterly unique, ten years down the line—some are downright alien (“Rpeg” and “Gaekwad” sound like extraterrestrial animals calling out to one another in a courtship ritual). In a way, the box could serve almost as well as an entry-point into the group’s catalog for a beginner as it would for a completionist or superfan. Dive in at random, take in a few minutes or an hour of music, and see what you’re left with when you come back up for air. The quality—as it would be for almost any act, chronicled over eleven years’ time—is spotty. Some of the older material (“Accelera 1 & 2,” those “Basscadet” interpretations) sounds dated, clattering or pulsing too closely to the early ‘90s and bad memories of spiked hair and glo-sticks. But much of it, particularly the band’s dizzying aural landscapes in the EP7 and Gantz Graf material and the Eno-nodding ambiance of Garbage, remains as pristine as fruit in a vacuum. The opportunity to look at those particular releases side-by-side also gives you a sense of Booth and Brown’s range, their ability to go maximal or minimal with equal dexterity. Ultimately, you can find almost anything at all on these discs that your palette would desire—beautiful, silky synths or clattering, jarring beats; one droning note underlying a track’s reticent appeal or seemingly thousands of noises vying for position in the mix; soft solitary music or loud celebratory sounds. The collective impression: Awe, not at how each of these songs or EPs are flawless (they aren’t), but at how much distinctive music Autechre has managed to produce. And these aren’t even proper albums. In the ‘90s, these songs sounded like the future—we would be lucky if we’d keep moving in that direction 20 years down the road.


Disc 1
Cavity Job (1991 - First Autechre release from before they signed to Warp and not available on CD before)
1. Job
2. Accelera 1 & 2
Basscad EP (1994)
1. Basscadet (Bcdtmx)
2. Basscadet (Basscadoublemx)
3. Basscadet (Tazmx)
4. Basscadet (Basscadubmx)
Anti EP (1995)
1. Lost
2. Djarum
3. Flutter

Disc 2
Garbage (1995)
1. Garbagemx
2. Piobmx
3. Bronchusevenmx
4. Vletmx

Disc 3
Anvil Vapre (1995)
1. Second Bad Vilbel
2. Second Scepe
3. Second Scout
4. Second Peng
Peel Session (Transmitted 1995, released 1999)
1. Milk DX
2. Inhake 2
3. Drane
Envane (1997)
1. Goz Quarter
2. Latent Quarter
3. Laughing Quarter
4. Draun Quarter

Disc 4
Cichlisuite (1997)
1. Yeesland
2. Pencha
3. Characi
4. Krib
5. Tilapia
EP7 (1999)
1. Rpeg
2. Ccec
3. Squeller
4. Left Bank
5. Outpt
6. Dropp
7. Liccflii
8. Maphive61
9. Veiss Contarex
10. Netlon Sentinel
11. Pir

Disc 5
Peel Session 2 (Transmitted 1999, released 2001)
1. Gelk
2. Blifil
3. Gaekwad
4. 19 Headaches
Gantz_Graf (2002)
1. Gantz Graf
2. Dial
3. CapIV

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Stefano Bollani - L'orchestra del Titanic [FLAC]

L' Orchestra Del Titanic is the first solo album by 25-year-old Florentine pianist Stefano Bollani, "Best New Talent 1999" according to Musica Jazz, Italy's leading jazz's magazine.

For years, Bollani, who has lately added his identifiable touch to many Italian jazz records, has expressed in interviews his search for a unique project to fit to his own musical taste to. As a young guy with a witty sense of black humor, the overwhelming recent popularity of the romance and tragedy of the film, Titanic was a perfect place to start.

Against whatever preconceptions his listeners bring to it, L' Orchestra Del Titanic does not re-create the lounge-jazz numbers the original the ill-fated ship's orchestra performed, nor does Bollani rely on James Horner's romantic score (or Celine Dion's unbelievably popular theme).

It does, however, feature Stefano Bollani's personal approach to the great melodic jazz tradition. The mostly original program belies a soft, sly and slightly seventies touch, aided in no small measure by guitarist Riccardo Onori, who reminds the listener of Sam Brown's playing with Keith Jarrett during the 1970s.

Everything here is appropriately elegant: the live recording, the pretty songs and the intimate tempos. Antonello Salis is especially notable on accordion, suggesting an even more lighthearted overall affair.

Stefano Bollani makes it possible to imagine yourself listening to a great little jazz combo filling a large ballroom with warm, intimate sounds while at least one beautiful couple dances passionately as the romantic lights begin to dim. You get the picture.

Personnel: Stefano Bollani: piano, Lello Pareti: bass, Walter Paoli: drums, percussion, Riccardo Onori: accordion, Antonello Salis: harmonica.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Horace Parlan - Speakin' My Piece

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Horace Parlan had a gift for relaxed, swinging hard bop which placed his piano in a central, yet unassuming role. Speakin' My Piece is one of the first albums to find Parlan getting all the ingridients right, from his own subtle playing to soliciting fine contributions of his backing band. Stanley Turrentine, in fact, turns out to be an excellent complement to Parlan, playing in a similarly tasteful style. Five of the six numbers are band originals, and each number is quite similar -- bluesy, gently swinging hard bop. No one pushes too hard on Speakin' My Piece, preferring to create an intimate atmosphere with milder numbers and performances. Such an approach gives each muscian -- Parlan, Turrentine, bassist George Tucker, drummer Al Harewood -- a chance to shine with lyrical, melodic solos and/or sympathetic support, resulting in a charmingly low-key session.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Grachan Moncur III - Some Other Stuff

This album feels like traveling through a nebula. Every piece is very subtle and is composed to provide freedom to the great musicians involved. It's a pity that all of the avant-garde is so frequently swept together under that one label; this is not stream of consciousness free-blowing but very tentative probing compositional playing that constantly flirts with atonality, but uses it to great artistic effect. Everyone involved is a great and highly skilled player; Grachan's sidemen are Wayne Shorter, Herbe Hancock, Cecil McBee and Tony Williams, or, in other words, three fifths of Miles Davis' next quintet, and one of the most explorative bassists out there. For those who think of freer music as a place for unrefined players who scream without nuance, this album would be a great rebuttal.

After the stellar and less challenging album Evolution, Grachan once again proves himself a brilliant pacer of albums. After the spacey, almost creepy, opener Ngostic, he pulls back to the catchy post-bop swinger Thandiwa, and then moves a bit farther out to the swinging but quite tonally malleable piece The Twins, and concludes with a drum feature, Nomadic. Tony Williams definitely deserves his chance to explore here, although this track may be the hardest to get into. Nomadic plays delicately with rhythm, tonality, and huge amounts of nearly silent space. It will never offend the ears, but it will boggle the mind. The Twins segues from moments of tension and unclear rhythm, to superb sections of walking bass and swinging drums without the listener being able to pinpoint the moment when the change occured. I do not know how pre planned this piece was, but in any case this piece is a great feat of collective musicianship with so many different "movements" and moods that it outdoes other free jazz tracks of twice and even four times its length in terms of diversity and mutual respect amongst the musicians.

This is Moncur's best album, and while it may not accommodate on the first listen as well as Evolution, this quintet proves just how necessary the avant-garde was to breath life and creativity back into jazz at this time. - Gerrit R. Hatcher


Friday, May 20, 2011

Bobby Hutcherson - Components

This was one of Hutcherson's few truly challenging dates as leader, an amalgam of mid-60's post bop sensibilities and mind-blowing "New Thing" esoterics. It is perhaps his most consistently engaging, focusing the experiments on "Dialogue" into a vision more wholly personal--all the while retaining the sense of exploratory exhiliration that made that earlier session so great.

Hutcherson is--fittingly--a far more prominent voice here, composing half the album and taking greater liberties with his solo space. Joe Chambers, whose thoughtful accompaniment and propulsive drive provided the backdrop for numerous "salad-era" Blue Note sessions, penned the other half; his decisively "free" compositions, much like his drumming, furnish the foundations for some truly intricate, engaging group communication. The improvisation itself is more compact, the tracks shorter, the scope more synoptic--a sort of manifesto for the vibist's future and past, cut clean down the middle and made ready for consumption.

Suffice it to say, the group is killer and delivers the goods. The rhythm work is rock solid, the front line of Spaulding and Hubbard as fiery and captivating as it was or would be anywhere else. Each might go on to bigger and better things, but nowhere did these musicians better fit Bobby's world, sound so sympathetic, emphatic, enthused.

This is Hutcherson's DEFINITIVE Blue Note session, a watermark for the label... and I'll bet that few can say otherwise. - Leone Evangelista


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Big John Patton - Got a Good Thing Goin'

Grant Green always brought out the best in Big John Patton. Almost any record that featured the guitarist and organist was dominated by their scintillating interplay, and it always sounded like they were trying to top each other's blistering, funky solos. Patton and Green rarely sounded better than they did on Got a Good Thing Goin', a 1966 session that functioned as a showcase for the pair's dynamic interaction and exciting, invigorating solos. In particular, the duo's mastery is evident because there are no horns to stand in the way -- only drummer Hugh Walker and conga player Richard Landrum provide support, leaving plenty of room for Green and Patton to run wild. All five numbers -- two originals by Patton and Green, two pop covers ("Ain't That Peculiar," "Shake"), and Duke Pearson's "Amanda" -- are simple blues and soul-jazz songs that provide ample space for the guitarist and organist to stretch out. And they do stretch out -- as a pair, they have never sounded so fiery or intoxicating. Fans of hard bop may find the songs a little too simple, but hot, up-tempo soul-jazz rarely comes any better than it does on Got a Good Thing Goin'.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

John Coltrane - Blue Train

The tenor sax giant had signed with another label when he embarked on this one-off date for Blue Note, an excursion that paid off with an enduring modern jazz masterpiece. Boasting volley after volley of smart soloing and intuitively swinging rhythm work, Blue Train is a joy, from the coolly precise ensemble entry on the opening title piece through the set's balance of elegant hard bop conversations and smooth downshifts into ballads. John Coltrane wrote four originals for the date, all of them now regarded as standards, and assembled a rhythm section including pianist Kenny Drew, Miles Davis's rhythm section of bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones, and trumpeter Lee Morgan and trombonist Curtis Fuller, both recent Blue Note recruits. Coltrane's signature sound, now fully developed but still hewing more to familiar blues and chromatic harmonies than his later modalities, is confident and expansive, and his partners respond vividly throughout. --Sam Sutherland


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Art Blakey - The Big Beat

Perhaps the best known and most loved of Art Blakey's works, The Big Beat is a testament to the creative progress of one of the best jazz drummers of all time. Now over 40 years old, The Big Beat is as thunderous as ever. Here, Blakey combines his rhythm with tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter's brilliant composing to make what could only be termed a "structurally raw" album. Each track rips through bebop as quickly as Blakey ripped through drum heads. "Dat Dere" and "Lester Left Town" stand out as part of the true canons for hot jazz. Two alternate versions of "It's Only a Paper Moon" round out the album, both brimming with the fluid integrity of the song and the drive only Blakey could provide. As one of the few drummers to step out and lead, not just play backup, Blakey created a true jazz treasure in The Big Beat.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Andrew Hill - Smokestack

Trimming away some of the overt Afro-Cuban rhythms that distinguished Black Fire, Andrew Hill turned in a dense, cerebral set of adventurous post-bop on his second Blue Note session, Smoke Stack. Comprised entirely of original Hill compositions, Smoke Stack is in the middle ground between hard bop and free jazz -- it isn't as loose and dissonant as free, but with its long, winding modal improvisations and hazy song structures, it's a lot less accessible than bop. It also isn't as successful as Black Fire, which worked similar territory with edgier results. Part of the problem is that Hill simply meanders throughout most of Smoke Stack, wandering off into quietly discordant sections that turn in on themselves. It's subdued music that requires concentration, but doesn't necessarily reward such effort. Even with its faults, Smoke Stack is far from an unworthy record -- Hill's insular, intellectual style may be occasionally frustrating, but his playing is frequently provocative and challenging, and his backing group of Richard Davis (bass), Eddie Khan (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums) offer sympathetic support. However, it's an album that promises more than it delivers.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Horace Silver Quintet - 6 Pieces of Silver

This 1956 recording by the Silver Quintet, featuring Hank Mobley on tenor sax and Donald Byrd on trumpet, is pure hard-bop heaven created by some of the masters of the genre. After spending the previous two years playing piano on some of Miles Davis' classic Prestige and Blue Note albums, and touring with the Art Blakey Quintet and the first edition of his Jazz Messengers, Silver was more than ready to step forward as a leader. His compositional talents had already been showcased with Blakey's groups, especially on 1954's "Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers" (Blue Note), but "Six Pieces of Silver" was his his first chance to record with his own working quintet.All six Silver originals are gems, including classics like "Senor Blues" and "Cool Eyes," and the ensemble playing throughout is outstanding, especially given the group's youthfulness—Silver is the elder statesman at twenty-eight; drummer Louis Hayes the youngest at nineteen. Silver's writing at this early point in his career is more solidly in the bebop camp than his later funk and soul efforts, but the blues, gospel, and Caribbean influences that are his trademarks are evident. His own playing is marvelously subtle, showing a clear debt to Powell and Monk, especially on slower numbers like "Enchantment" and the trio efforts "Shirl" and "For Heaven's Sake." Mobley's big, warm tenor is a particularly good fit with Silver's piano, and the young Donald Byrd shines on upbeat numbers like "Virgo." The rhythm section of Doug Watkins on bass and Hayes on drums provides excellent support throughout the session. The CD reissue, part of Blue Note's Connoisseur series, also includes the popular vocal version of "Senor Blues" by Bill Henderson.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bud Powell - The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1

The CD reissues of the two albums titled The Amazing Bud Powell put the important recordings in chronological order (which they weren't in the LP versions) and add some alternate takes; all of the music has also been included in a definitive four-CD box set. Although the latter is the best way to acquire the important performances, this CD gives one a strong sampling of pianist Bud Powell at his best. Powell is heard in a classic session with trumpeter Fats Navarro and tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins (which is highlighted by exciting versions of "Dance of the Infidels," "52nd Street Theme," and "Bouncing With Bud") and in a trio performing "Over the Rainbow" and three versions of his intense "Un Poco Loco."


Freddie Hubbard - Open Sesame

Freddie Hubbard's first recording as a leader, Open Sesame features the 22-year-old trumpeter in a quintet with tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks, the up-and-coming pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Clifford Jarvis. This set shows that even at this early stage, Hubbard had the potential to be one of the greats. On the ballad "But Beautiful" he shows maturity; other highlights include "Open Sesame," a driving "All or Nothing at All" and "One Mint Julep." It's an impressive start to what would be a very interesting career.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Dexter Gordon - Our Man In Paris

This session is a meeting between three of the most influential musicians of the forties (Dexter, Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke as "Americans in Paris"), completed by the great french bassist Pierre Michelot. At this really happy date the musicians decided to play tunes, that go back to the time, when those guys first gigged and recorded together, like Parker's "Scrapple from the Apple". But especially about Dexter's playing it can be said, that he had modified his style during the sixties, absorbing ideas from musicians, who originally had been influenced by him (listen to some very Coltrane-ish licks on "Night in Tunisia"). Actually, Dexter once stated, that he was thrilled by that kind of mutual exchange of ideas: First he had been a main source of influence for the early John Coltrane and later, especially during the time of this recordings (1963), Dexter further developed his style using some of Coltrane's ideas. Besides the above mentioned faster tunes, I expecially like "Willow Weep for Me" with it's nice intro and that kind of blues-feeling and of course the beautiful ballad "Stairway to the Stars". Bud Powell, almost at the end of his career, still plays very inspired. Expecially during those years in Paris, Bud was at his best on encounters with other great Americans, who visited Europe or temporarly lived there.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Anthony Williams - Spring

This is an astounding recording, from August 1965, with teen sensation Tony Williams on drums and composer of all 5 pieces. It's a great example of '60s Blue Note -- not outside, but spare and angular, moving orthogonally away from straight bop. Williams had been mentored by Sam Rivers in Boston from the time he was in double-digits, and when he made it big with Miles, he brought Rivers along on his first solo dates. Personally I don't think his first solo data, LIFE TIME, ever catches fire, but this one is a different story.

Rivers, already over 40 by the time of this session, and Wayne Shorter, who had jumped from Art Blakey to Miles, are a terrific combination here. Herbie Hancock comes along from Miles' band, and Gary Peacock is more than authoritative on bass. "Echo" is a Williams solo, and "Love Song" is a beautiful waltz-time vehicle for Rivers -- the other 3 tracks all feature both Rivers and Shorter. "Extras" and "Tee" alone would make SPRING well worth hearing! Check it out!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Joe Henderson - In 'n Out

In'n out is extremely top quality jazz that deserves the highest of ratings. Right here you have the greatest rhythmn section in the world of McCoy Tyner, Richard Davis, and Elvin Jones. The horns are of course Joe who is just smokin' and Kenny dorham who was one of the uncredited but most influential trumpeters and in some ways created the basis of hardbop trumpet playing. Dorham was constantly being overlooked, in the forties and fifties he was in the shadow of Dizzy and Miles and in the sixties Lee Morgan, Freddie hubbard and Woody Shaw came along. Blakey once defined Dorham as the uncrowned king of the trumpet, but enough about Kenny. The title track opens with a complicated theme and Elvin really gets into the groove, his intense drive will never be matched by any drummer. McCoy has incredible fingers I don't think there is a better pianist in the world. Kenny's solo kind of cools things off a bit but Joe takes another and the burner is on high again! "Punjab", by henderson, reseambles the kind of compositions that people like Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter were writing. Kenny contributes two obscure but unique sounding compositions "Short Story" and "Browns Town." "In 'n out" is Joe's finest album. It's brother album is tyners "The Real McCoy" with henderson, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Duke Ellington - Money Jungle

What an alliance: a legendary bandleader and composer, a pioneering bop drummer, and an unclassifiable (and often prickly) bass behemoth. It's no wonder that the tension between Duke Ellington, Max Roach, and Charlie Mingus is thick and extremely tangible, permeating this breathtaking 1962 album with passion and aggression. On the jagged blues "Very Special," Ellington establishes a weighty mood while his piano work almost borders on free jazz. Roach's sticks dance and prance across every inch of his kit on "A Little Max"; on "Caravan" he effectively shifts from exotic rhythms to straight time. Duke's harmonic invention is delicate and mysterious on "Fleurette Africaine," but simultaneously jarring and cerebral on the confrontational "Wig Wise." It's hard to believe only three people are creating the stomping, disjointed monster that is the title track. Ellington alone emphasizes the beautiful melodies of the classic ballads "Soltitude" and "Warm Valley," but the edge returns when the rhythm section joins him. Mingus, who actually idolized Ellington, seems to be purposely agitating the master, almost taunting him. You'd say the synergy was magical, except that they seem to be working against each other. --Marc Greilsamer


Monday, May 9, 2011

Blue Mitchell - Down With It

After a handful of solid albums as a leader for the Riverside label (see my reviews), and after recording for Blue Note as a member of the Horace Silver Quintet for more than four years, trumpeter Blue Mitchell was given the opportunity to cut a Blue Note album as a leader by Alfred Lion in 1963. However, his debut session, now known as "Step Lightly," did not see the light of day at the time of its recording. Blue was given another chance on July 30, 1964 and the result was the magical "The Thing To Do" (see my review). Blue Mitchell's third Blue Note session, "Down With It," was recorded on July 14, 1965. It features two of his colleagues from the old Horace Silver band, Junior Cook on tenor sax and Gene Taylor on bass. Joining the three Silver alumni are Al Foster on drums and the pianist Chick Corea, who made his recording debut on Blue's "The Thing To Do." Since Blue Mitchell was a Blue Note trumpeter at the height of Lee Morgan's popularity, it is no surprise that "Down With It" features several soulful, Sidewinder-like jazz numbers. But don't assume this is one of Blue's cheesy forays into funk from the later 60s. "Down With It" is a great modern jazz album, and very comparable to Lee Morgan titles like "Charisma" and "Cornbread." For those of you that did not get "Down" in the "Rare Groove" series, thankfully you can pick up this new RVG reissue.

part 1
part 2

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Kenny Drew - Undercurrent

Kenny Drew's "Undercurrent" is one of those classic Blue Note albums that most people have never heard of. Originally released on CD domestically in 1987, it was deleted in the early 90s had has rarely been seen since. This import version is all that remains of an almost forgotten classic. If you are intrigued by this title, I seriously suggest you fork over the big bucks to buy it now. Of course all things are possible, but I seriously doubt this will be released in the domestic RVG series. It just wouldn't sell enough copies because Drew isn't that recognizable. That's a shame because he has made irreplaceable contributions to many Blue Note classics -- "Blue Train" and "Dexter Calling" to name two -- in addition to this fine album as a leader. "Undercurrent" is a magnificent hard bop session from December 1960 featuring the talents of Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. The six compositions, all by Drew, are terrific medium and up-tempo swingers, with the exception of the lovely concluding piece, "Ballade." "Undercurrent" is as good as anything Blue Note recorded in 1960, and should really be picked up at any price.


Chick Corea - Now He Sings, Now He Sobs

This adventurous yet lyrical trio LP was Chick Corea's career breakthrough album, establishing him as a significant pianist and composer. Over three days in March 1968, Corea recorded with Miroslav Vitous and Haynes (they have since reunited many times over past 34 years) and produced a total of 13 great performances only five of which were used on the original albums. The material ranged from soon-to-be Corea classics like "Matrix" and "Windows" to extended improvised pieces like the title tune to creative interpretations of Monk's "Pannonica" and "My One And Only Love".


Freddie Hubbard - Blue Spirits

In recent reviews of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard Blue Note reissues "Night of the Cookers" and "Breaking Point", I said that it was great to have those titles available again but that I would prefer it if the rarer "Blue Spirits" had been released. Well the folks at Blue Note must have been reading my Amazon comments because "Blue Spirits" has been included in the latest batch RVG reissues (8/10/04). This title had been previously available on CD, but aside from a brief reprint in the old Collectors Choice program, it has been out-of-print for nearly 15 years! Well I must say it is great to finally capture the elusive "Blue Spirits." This disc is actually made up of three different recording sessions. The first two tracks, "Soul Serge" and "Cunga Black," are from February 19, 1965 and feature James Spaulding on alto sax and flute, Joe Henderson on tenor sax, Kiane Zawadi on euphonium, Harold Mabern Jr. on piano, Larry Ridley on bass, Clifford Jarvis on drums and Big Black on conga. This material is latin-flavored, soul jazz and very similar in style to the music on "Night of the Cookers." Many will find these songs enjoyable but for me they are the album's most predictable selections and therefore the weakest. Next are three cuts from a week later (2/26/65) again featuring Hub, Spaulding and Zawadi, but this time joined by Hank Mobley on tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and Pete LaRoca on drums. This is classic modern modal jazz and all three songs, "Outer Forces," "Blue Spirits" and "Jodo" (reprised on "Cookers" but tighter here), are among the best Blue Note songs of the period. However, the most surprising material comes from the final session of March 5, 1966 with Hub, Henderson, Hosea Taylor on bassoon, Herbie Hancock on piano and celeste, Reggie Workman on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. These two tracks, "The Melting Pot" and "True Colors," were not included on the original vinyl and are bonus tracks to this CD (and the previous incarnation). While Hubbard penned all seven of this CD's compositions, these two are a noticeable departure from his previous writing. Sure, they are experimental but fascinating in revealing Freddie's numerous creative talents, and the direction his music could have taken had he continued down this avant-garde path. In all, "Blue Spirits" is one of those rare Blue Note gems that I have enjoyed for years, and now with this reissue you can too. Amazon user.


Wayne Shorter - Juju

Review by Stacia Proefrock

Fulfilling the potential promised on his Blue Note debut, Night Dreamer, Wayne Shorter's Ju Ju was the first really great showcase for both his performance and compositional gifts. Early in his career as a leader Shorter was criticized as a mere acolyte of John Coltrane, and his use of Coltrane's rhythm section on his first two Blue Note albums only bolstered that criticism. The truth is, though, that Elvin Jones, Reggie Workman, and McCoy Tyner were the perfect musicians to back Shorter. Jones' playing at the time was almost otherworldly. He seemed to channel the music through him when improvising and emit the perfect structure to hold it together. Workman too seemed to almost instinctively understand how to embellish Shorter's compositions. McCoy Tyner's role as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time was played here as well, and his light touch and beautiful, joyful improvisations would make him a much better match for Shorter than Herbie Hancock would later prove to be.

JuJu rests in the uphill portion of Shorter's creative peak. While the sidemen may have been an even better match for him than the ensembles he would put together for later albums, he was just beginning to find his footing as a leader. His performances were already showing evidence of great originality -- yes, they were influenced by Coltrane, but only in the way that they broke apart the structures of the bop sound to create a sound that had all of the variety and flexibility of the human voice. On later albums like Speak No Evil and The Soothsayer, however, Shorter would rise to an even higher level as a performer with more powerful, confident playing that reached farther afield in its exploration of melodic textures.

What really shines on JuJu is the songwriting. From the African-influenced title track (with its short, hypnotic, repetitive phrases) to the mesmerizing interplay between Tyner and Shorter on "Mahjong," the album (which is all originals) blooms with ideas, pulling in a world of influences and releasing them again as a series of stunning, complete visions.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Donald Byrd - Royal Flush

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Donald Byrd was at his peak as a straight-ahead hard bop band leader in the early '60s, turning a series of remarkably solid, enjoyable sessions for Blue Note. Royal Flush is no exception to the rule. Recorded in the fall of 1961, Royal Flush finds Byrd once again working with baritionist Pepper Adams, but adding bassist Butch Warren, drummer Billy Higgins, and, most importantly, a young pianist named Herbie Hancock. For the most part, the quintet plays a set of vital hard bop, swinging hard on the bluesy groove "Hush" and laying back on the pop standard "I'm a Fool to Want You." But what's really interesting is when they begin pushing the boundaries of bop. All three of Byrd's original pieces -- "Jorgie's," "Shangri-La," "6M's" -- are harmonically complex and have subtly shifting rhythms; all three are successful, but "Shangri-La" is particularly noteworthy. Similarly, Hancock's graceful "Requiem" calls attention to its fluid melodic lines and rhythm. Throughout the date, Byrd and Adams are typically impressive, alternating between punchy, hard-hitting, and graceful solos, but Hancock is just as good, signaling early on in his career his deep, unique talent.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Pete La Roca - Basra

Review by Scott Yanow

It is strange to realize that drummer Pete La Roca only led two albums during the prime years of his career, for this CD reissue of his initial date is a classic. La Roca's three originals ("Basra," which holds one's interest despite staying on one chord throughout, the blues "Candu," and the complex "Tears Come From Heaven") are stimulating but it is the other three songs that really bring out the best playing in the quartet (which is comprised of tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, pianist Steve Kuhn, and bassist Steve Swallow in addition to La Roca). "Malaguena" is given a great deal of passion, Swallow's "Eiderdown" (heard in its initial recording) receives definitive treatment, and the ballad "Lazy Afternoon" is both haunting and very memorable; Henderson's tone perfectly fits that piece.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jimmy Smith - Back At The Chicken Shack

Review by Al Campbell

Back at the Chicken Shack is one of organist Jimmy Smith's classic Blue Note sessions, and the first to draw attention to tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. Recorded in 1960 with Kenny Burrell on guitar, Donald Bailey on drums, and Turrentine, the group reaches the peak of funky soul-jazz that all other challengers of the genre would have to live up to. Included on this uptempo session is a reworking of "When I Grow Too Old to Dream" (a feature for Turrentine), Turrentine's "Minor Chant," two Smith compositions, "Messy Bessie" as well as the set's notable title cut, and the CD-only bonus track, "On the Sunny Side of the Street." Smith's Midnight Special album was recorded at these same sessions, and is also exceptional.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hank Mobley - Workout

Review by Scott Yanow

This is one of the best-known Hank Mobley recordings, and for good reason. Although none of his four originals ("Workout," "Uh Huh," "Smokin'," "Greasin' Easy") caught on, the fine saxophonist is in top form. He jams on the four tunes, plus "The Best Things in Life Are Free," with an all-star quintet of young modernists -- guitarist Grant Green, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones -- and shows that he was a much stronger player than his then-current boss Miles Davis seemed to think. This recommended CD reissue adds a version of "Three Coins in the Fountain" from the same date, originally released on Another Workout, to the original LP program.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sonny Clark - Cool Struttin'

1957 was a busy year for the pianist Sonny Clark. Aside from Cool Struttin', he also released six other LPs on Blue Note. His astounding output, however, was cut short due to his premature death in 1963. The highlight of Clark's prolific period must be Cool Struttin', a session featuring a virtual who's who of Blue Note's then-rising young crop of hard-bop stars. The recording opens with the aptly named title cut, as Clark's jaunty, forward-leaning piano drives the tune with crisp precision. The rest of the disc (this edition contains the Rodgers and Hart tune "Lover," which did not appear on the original release) is a sterling example of late-50s, finger-poppin' bop with the likes of trumpeter Art Farmer, saxophonist Jackie McClean, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones stretching out and digging in. --S. Duda

Monday, May 2, 2011

Grant Green - Idle Moments

Review by Steve Huey

This languid, seductive gem may well be Grant Green's greatest moment on record. Right from the opening bars of the classic title cut, Idle Moments is immediately ingratiating and accessible, featuring some of Green's most stylish straight jazz playing. Whether he's running warm (pianist Duke Pearson's "Idle Moments"), cool (the Modern Jazz Quartet's "Django"), or a bit more up-tempo (Pearson's "Nomad," his own "Jean de Fleur"), Green treats the material with the graceful elegance that was the hallmark of his best hard bop sessions, and that quality achieves its fullest expression here. He's helped by an ensemble that, as a sextet, is slightly larger and fuller-sounding than usual, and there's plenty of room for solo explorations on the four extended pieces. Pearson's touch on the piano is typically warm, while two players best known on Blue Note for their modernist dates mellow out a bit -- the cool shimmer of Bobby Hutcherson's vibes is a marvelously effective addition to the atmosphere, while Joe Henderson plays with a husky, almost Ike Quebec-like breathiness. That cushion of support helps spur Green to some of the loveliest, most intimate performances of his career -- no matter what the tempo, it's as if his guitar is whispering secrets in your ear. It's especially true on the dreamy title track, though: a gorgeous, caressing, near-15-minute excursion that drifts softly along like a warm, starry summer night. Even more than the two-disc set The Complete Quartets With Sonny Clark, Idle Moments is the essential first Green purchase, and some of the finest guitar jazz of the hard bop era.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Horace Silver Quintet - Song For My Father

Review by Steve Huey

One of Blue Note's greatest mainstream hard bop dates, Song for My Father is Horace Silver's signature LP and the peak of a discography already studded with classics. Silver was always a master at balancing jumping rhythms with complex harmonies for a unique blend of earthiness and sophistication, and Song for My Father has perhaps the most sophisticated air of all his albums. Part of the reason is the faintly exotic tint that comes from Silver's flowering fascination with rhythms and modes from overseas -- the bossa nova beat of the classic "Song for My Father," for example, or the Eastern-flavored theme of "Calcutta Cutie," or the tropical-sounding rhythms of "Que Pasa?" Subtle touches like these alter Silver's core sound just enough to bring out its hidden class, which is why the album has become such a favorite source of upscale ambience. Song for My Father was actually far less focused in its origins than the typical Silver project; it dates from the period when Silver was disbanding his classic quintet and assembling a new group, and it features performances from both bands (and, on the CD reissue with bonus tracks, three different sessions). Still, it hangs together remarkably well, and Silver's writing is at its tightest and catchiest. The title cut became Silver's best-known composition, partly because it provided the musical basis for jazz-rock group Steely Dan's biggest pop hit "Rikki Don't Lose That Number." Another hard bop standard is introduced here in the lone non-Silver tune, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson's "The Kicker," covered often for the challenge of its stuttering phrases and intricate rhythms. Yet somehow it comes off as warm and inviting as the rest of the album, which is necessary for all jazz collections -- mainstream hard bop rarely comes as good as Song for My Father.