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Alfie Cooke (Between the Thames and the Medway)

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Progress Report
Progress Report
Price: 9.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move Over Gillespie!, 2 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Progress Report (Audio CD)
I first got hold of 'this' album on a Jasmine vinyl reissue and the only thing that stopped me playing it was the lack of a record deck. I say 'this' album because the CD is substantially different to my original vinyl. Jasmine have grouped together Dizzy Reece's original recordings for Tempo and released them (12" and 10" albums along with additional ep releases) on two albums - "Progress Report" and "New Star" - in such a way as to make deciphering the sidemen a whole lot easier.

What this means is that if, like me, you have the vinyl issue, you will need both CDs to get all the tracks. But its not the 'con' that it might at first seem as the two CDs make far more logical sense arranged this way.

What you get on "Progress Report" is 7 tracks by a Reece Quartet that includes Victor Feldman and Phil Seaman, 4 by a quintet which includes the tragically under-recorded Sammy Walker on tenor saxophone, and finally 4 by a piano-less quartet with Tubby Hayes on baritone and tenor saxes.

These last 4 tracks were a revealation as they come from a rare-as-hen's-teeth ep release of a Dizzy Reece soundtrack to the film "Nowhere To Go".

This is excellent British Jazz (of the modern variety) and especially welcome for the inclusion of my favourite track "Variations on Monk". Within a couple of years Reece had moved to America for an all-too brief spell on New Jazz (Asia Minor) and Blue Note (Comin' on, Star Bright, Soundin' Off) so this, and it's companion disc (A New Star) are welcome relases on CD.

In the Wind: The Woodwind Quartets
In the Wind: The Woodwind Quartets
Price: 20.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Late Great Sounds from the Late great Makanda, 2 Mar 2010
Ken McIntyre has been much over-looked, both in his lifetime and since his death, and it is great to see that the Makanda Project continues to promote his work and recordings. Great because Makanda Ken McIntyre was a phenominal musician.

Part of the problem seems to have been his status as one of the true multi-instrumentalists to come out of the 60s - many of whom are often over-shadowed by the reverence (rightly) given to Eric Dolphy.

McIntyre's albums always demonstrated his versatile talents and "In The Wind" is no exception. On this album he demonstrates his mastery not just of sections of a family as we have come to expect from multi-reed players - flute, sax, clarinet and maybe oboe - but for whole families of reeds.

The album is split into four sections: clarinets (tracks 1, 6 and 10), double reeds (tracks 2, 5 and 9), flutes (tracks, 3, 7 and 11) and saxophones (tracks 4 and 8). Each track features McIntyre playing a quartet rednitition of one of his original compositions, over-dubbing each instrument (so not an album for rhythm section enthusiasts).

On the clarinet sections he plays Bb, alto and bass clarinets.
On the flute sections he plays standard C, alto and bass flutes.
On the double-reed sections he plays oboe, english horn and bassoon.
On the saxophone sections he plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes. Except in this last case, the highest voice is usually doubled up, so you can hear two oboes on the double-reed tracks.

On "Peas 'n' Rice" McIntyre plays a funky riff on the bass clarinet that unpins the calypso flavour of the piece, so although you don't have then usual piano/bass/drums comping away in the background you nevertheless feel your feet stapping to tap. Rhythm was always a strong point in his playing and this is felt throughout.

On other tracks (like the double-reed "Home") he uses the instruments in a far more classical way, applying the tonal varieties to create a shifting pattern behind the lead line, so that the lower instruments back the oboe solo and then, later, the pattern is repeated by the instruments in the higher range underneath the bassoon.

This is an excellent album demonstrating Ken McIntyre's range of skills, as composer/arranging and as an improviser. Possibly not the first place to start exploring his work (I'd recommend The Complete United Artists Sessions if you can get hold of it, or Chasing the Sun as good starting points) but this should certainly be on your shopping list.

Friedrich Gulda at Bir
Friedrich Gulda at Bir
Price: 6.89

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a classical cat on the wrong side of the tracks, 1 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Friedrich Gulda at Bir (Audio CD)
An undeservedly obscure set from a pianist more commonly associated with recitals of Mozart than with the post-bebop world of New York's "Birdland" club. Strange, really, because it is an incredibly good album.

The sidemen alone are enough to make one drool - the woefully under-recorded Idrees Sulieman (tp), Jimmy Cleveland (tb) Phil Woods (as) Seldon Powell (ts) Aaron Bell (b) and Nick Stabulas (d).

Another excellent bonus is that most of the numbers are Gulda originals, showing a clear understanding of the the forms used in jazz in both composition and arrangements. "Air from Other Planets" is a truly beautiful ballad (and would have probably become a standard had it appeared on a 'jazz name' album). The arrangements are fine cool-school examples and it makes you wonder what Gulda could have made of a "Birth of the Cool" line-up.

There are solid solos throughout, and Gulda belies the common misconception among the 'jazz police' that classical musicians can't improvise. Phil Woods is on especially fine form.

All-in-all, an album worthy of investigation and definitely one to put on for those "when-the-lights-are-low" moments. Gulda should have recorded in this context more often.

Amsterdam Funk
Amsterdam Funk
Price: 17.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Just Like Giuffre, 1 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Amsterdam Funk (Audio CD)
Free Fall take off where the Jimmy Giuffre trio that recorded the album of the same name left off. "Amsterdam Funk" is all about interplay, crossing the lines between the clarinet, bass and piano.

It makes a nice change to her Vandermark sticking to the clarinet and his sound works well with the bass of occasional colleage Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten, especially on the opening "Accidents With Ladders". New for me was Havard Wiik on piano, who works wonders, never taking over or detracting from Haker-Flaten when laying down a back-drop to Vandermark, but whose solos seem to take on almost orchestral qualities.

If you like the 1960-1961 period Jimmy Giuffre (Jimmy Giuffre 3, 1961, Emphasis and Flight 1961, Free Fall: Remastered) then you need to track this one down to find out how this is being taken forward.

Kabell Years 1971-1979
Kabell Years 1971-1979
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 51.91

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Avant-Jazz Essentials, 1 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Kabell Years 1971-1979 (Audio CD)
Leo Smith came out of the same circle of creative genius that gave the world Anthony Braxton, the Art Ensemble and the AACM. This 4CD set brings together his first releases under his own name for (his own) Kabell label. 2 solo albums - where as well as trumpet he plays an assortment of percussion instruments and flutes, and two featuring his "New Delta Ahkri" group.

Each album extends the material previously available, sometimes doubling the time for the original release, and as well as getting even more of his inspired playing you get an even greater understanding of how his compositional concept was developing.

If you like your free-jazz full-on screaming then this isn't one for you. Like many of his AACM-colleagues, Smith worked in a much more spacious and open framework. At times it feels as those every note is thought through and considered in the pauses before being laid down.

The liner notes could have been better (given the price of the this set) - aside from the track/performer details there isn't a great deal besides anecdotes and appreciations. More could have been said about his musical theories at the time, especially since his book from the period is long out-of-print.

That little quibble aside, this is a truly beautiful collection that warrants repeated visits. If you have developed any sort of taste for avant-garde/free jazz, you should invest in this. At just-shy of 50 (the full Amazon price) its not a cheap investment but it is worth every penny.

Price: 15.09

5.0 out of 5 stars The Calm After The Storm, 1 Mar 2010
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This review is from: 'smatter (Audio CD)
Given where Dudek sprang from in the mid '60s - playing 'Machine Gun' live with Brotzmann, cropping up in Schlippenbah's Globe Unity and featuring in Manfred Schoof's early quintet (which needs to be reissued on CD!) - this album isn't what you might expect.

Having heard him blaze trails with the wildest (and there ain't much wilder than Brotzmann) I was expecting similar from "'smatter". Despite getting none of that fire and brimstone, I wasn't left disappointed. There is a great deal of beauty in Dudek's playing, which at times reminded me of Sonny Rollins, and he shares a similar fondness for more 'obscure' standards - such as George Coleman's "by george".

The real mastpiece is his reqorking of "Body and Soul", the longest track which clocks in at just over 17 minutes. A large chunk of this is Dudek alone, and he seems to be taking in that Rollins-esque arena of the extended solo cadenza - but with a cymbal crash the drums fall back in and the two go off into the realms of the Coltrane-Jones sax-and-drums duet, with Tony Levin playing the master of rhythmic mayhem beneath the saxophonists astral flights.

Some of the numbers (the opening Phrase Three for example) are light and airy - something similar to Andy Sheppard's recent-ish work with John Parricelli (who features on this album), while "By George" seems to bounce straight out of the late fifties mainstream when it comes striding in.

Dudek is a master saxophonist capable of straddling numerous territories of jazz without losing his sense of shape and control. This isn't an album I listen to often, but it is one that I am consistently drawn back to and one that I find myself recommending to others. Definitely one for those drawn to early 60s Coltrane, Wayne Shorter on Blue Note and Sonny Rollins.

Complete Live at Slug's Saloon Recordings
Complete Live at Slug's Saloon Recordings
Price: 13.64

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Essential Ayler, 24 Feb 2010
Only 3-stars for an Albert Ayler album! This is the kind of offense that warrants being cast out into the jazz wilderness with nought but a tape of Kenny G for company. So why?

Well, for starters, this isn't "complete". I'm a great fan of Lonehill Jazz and the reissues of rare material that they have brought out, but even at the stage when this was released (2004) people knew about the extra track "Initiation"). So to call it complete shows that their researchers just didn't do a good enough job on this one. Also, the liner notes don't add anything new - and that's something collectors tend to want... all the little extras.

Secondly, there's the 'backwards' section. Having acquired a fair few copies of various bootleg editions of the Slugs concert over the years, its something that they have all had in common. And its not something that can easily be ignored - the "zup" sound of a backwards-Beatles-esque cymbal jars on my memory from the very first time i heard it.

That said, the music - when decently mastered - is truly awesome. Its been said that Ayler could crack walls with his sound and that's just what you hear - his buzz-saw tone that wants to rip your ears off and scramble your brain. The music itself desrves a solid 5-stars, but this production lets it down completely.

A far better option is the "Slug's Saloon" double disc released on ESP Slug's Saloon. Yes, its more expensive... but you get much improved sound quality, better liner notes (including the famous Val Wilmer cover-shot) and all the tracks.

This one is best left on the shelf for people like myself who have a psychotic urge to own a copy of everything released under his name in every available format. Unless that's you, don't be tempted by the low price that this one often goes for - save up your pennies and get the ESP edition.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 22, 2010 2:40 PM GMT

Trio and Quintet
Trio and Quintet
Price: 12.82

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jazz Without Borders, 20 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Trio and Quintet (Audio CD)
Mike Osborne was the greatest exponent of the alto saxophone to come out of Britain - even considering such greats as Johnny Dankworth and Joe Harriott. No one has come close to the raw power that Osborne was able to control.

This CD combines two albums together: Borber Crossing (with Louis Moholo on drums and Harry Miller on bass) and Marcel's Muse (a quintet date adding Mark Charig on trumpet and Jeff green on guitar). Both albums are excellent with stunning solos throughout - Miller and Moholo especially - and Osborne shines in the border land between Hard-Bop and Free-form that was his speciality.

If you've never listened to Osborne before, his sound is distinctly his own but brings to mind late Coltrane, Jackie McLean and Albert Ayler.

If you're keen on British jazz of the 60s and 70s - or American from the same period - then you should regard this as essential listening.

The Collection 1941
The Collection 1941

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harry Miller - Bass Master's Collection, 19 Feb 2010
This review is from: The Collection 1941 (Audio CD)
Harry Miller, for anyone who doesn't know (and up until a few years back I wasn't aware of him either) was a double bassist, one of the South African musicians who made Britain his home in the '60s. His recorded output was phenominal but there were very few releases under his own name during his lifetime - this collection brings those 5 albums together on 3CDs.

For those expecting packaging on a par with the Ayler boxset or the Columbia/Miles Davis collections, this package is spartan by comparison. The booklet is informative - covering collaborators recollections of Miller but the only access to the original liner notes is on the CDs themselves, where the original packaging has been reduced to CD-sized slipcases - have a magnifying glass at the ready!

But don't let the packaging sway you. The music is exceptional! What you get is Miller in 5 different line-ups, ranging from solo to sextet.

Children At Play: This is Miller playing solo, using over-dubbing to create multiple bass-lines and added rhythmic percussion. For those who have heard Henri Texier's first two albums (Varech and Amir) this explores similar territory.

Bracknell Breakdown: This album features Miller in a duo with trombonist Radu Malfatti. Of all the material, I find this the hardest work to listen to. Not that the perseverance isn't rewarding. There is some very remarkable playing by both players, with Malfatti seeming to take more risks with the music.

Family Affair: This album features Miller's sextet "Isipingo" with fellow members of Brotherhood of Breath Mike Osborne (alto), Malcolm Griffiths (trombone), Marc Charig (trumpet) and Louis Moholo (drums) with Keith Tippett on piano. If you've heard the recent releases of Isipingo playing live (Full Steam Ahead and Which Way Now) you'll know what to expect from this album. The tracks are shorter in length than when the band was able to open up in a live situation (the good-old limitations of vinyl!) but the playing, Moholo and Osborne especially, is nothing short of amazing.

In Conference: Another sextet album with Moholo and Tippett making up the rhythm session but with Julie Tippett on vocals, and Willem Breuker and Trevor Watts on reeds. The presence of Breaker made me expect something extremely 'out there' but, with the expection of the first track "Traumatic Experience", I found that the music explored far more territory than the blow-out I'd expected, ranging from groove-laden tunes reflecting Miller's South African roots to expressionistic beauty. Julie tippett's voice blends well with the horns and the more I listen to her, the more I am impressed.

Down South: This is a quintet session with only Marc Charig (on cornet and alto horn) carried over from any of the previous collaborations. The mad-priest of percussion, Dutchman Han Bennink, takes over the drum seat and is joined by Sean Bergin on tenor sax and Wolter Wierbos on trombone. The music works in a similar way to Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath on a smaller scale - funky grooves over-laid with free-form solos (as if the Ayler brothers had found themselves in the Basie band!) None of these musicians should be under-estimated.

Hazel Miller (Harry's wife) and Ogun Records should be praised to the skies for releasing this package. The only problem being is that it is extremely hard to track down. Apparently Ogun aren't going to press any more copies, which is a crying shame because this music deserves to be heard by more people, by everyone. If you do find a copy of it anywhere, I recommend you buy it, you're unlikely to see it again.


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British Alto Genius, 17 Feb 2010
This review is from: Outback (Audio CD)
For some unfathomable reason, on a recent listmania list I did of British saxophonists that people should be aware of I missed out Mike Osborne. Totally unforgiveable because he was an absolute genius.

One look at the line-up for this album tells you that its going to be good: Osborne on alto sax, Harry Beckett on trumpet, Chris McGregor on piano, Harry Miller on bass and Louis Moholo on drums. The five of them had played together in various aggregations of McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath and their familiarity with each other is evident in the way they interact.

This reissue consists of two lengthy tracks, "So It Is" and "Outback" and each is an excellent example of British late-60s avant garde jazz. As an FMR release it can be hard to track down but is well worth the effort.

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