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Alfie Cooke (Between the Thames and the Medway)

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Willamette
Willamette
Price: 11.22

5.0 out of 5 stars New Metal Jazz!!, 16 April 2013
This review is from: Willamette (Audio CD)
If the tenor saxophone seemed custom-made for rock 'n' roll, then Dana Colley, Mats Gustafsson and now Matt Rippetoe, seem hell-bent on proving that the baritone was specially designed for its harder, meaner, darker kid brother - heavy metal. Taking note of Bob Dylan's famous "play it *#*% loud", Willamette crank up the volume, thrash the guitars and beat the drums senseless. Holding down, at various points, both lead-line and riffing duties, Rippetoe cuts his way through the middle. His raspy tone sounding at times like Gustafsson, he captures the blood-and-guts vocal low-end of bands like Husker Dü and (Henry) Rollins-era Black Flag. Although there are similarities to Swedish über-trio The Thing, this isn't jazz, the solos for the most part clinging firmly to the rock tradition - but then, being so heavily sax-lead, it isn't heavy rock either. But the fact that it seems caught in the no man's land between the two isn't a bad thing - the path it takes means its different without being difficult and danceable without being drivel. I've given this fewer stars elsewhere, but that was for an audience used to freer, wilder improvised music. But as hard-driven, jazz-based, rock-out music, this is a mighty fine album. So let your head start banging and then decide - metal jazz, is it the new New Thing?

Matt Rippetoe - baritone sax
Yoshie Fructer - guitar
Gary Pickard - bass
Dave Previ - drums


Clockwork Orange.
Clockwork Orange.
by Anthony Burgess
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.77

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic in Any Language, 22 Mar 2013
This review is from: Clockwork Orange. (Paperback)
okay, so this is in German and, although it specifies this in the 'language' section and the cover clearly has German text on it, there will be many readers who buy this version by mistake. Quite why so many reviewers fell the need to commenting the vagaries of Amazon's listing process in the section related to product reviews is still one of the mysteries of the Internet.

Clockwork Orange is a difficult book to read in any language, not just because of the exploration of violence it contains but the way that Burgess plays with language (including the use of Russian as a form of slang dialect). I studied German at school and always found it to be a very harsh language. To my mind it suits the brutal nature of the book - not very kind to Germans, I know, and no excuses offered for my linguistic prejudices - and helps to accentuate the grim realities of the world that Alex and his droogs inhabit. Clockwork Orange is still a good read (and probably would be in any language) despite the need for online translation dictionaries to enhance my rudimentary German.

however, as good as this translation appears to be (my German is woefully inadequate to comment on this) unless you happen to be multi-lingual, it's not a good place to start as a means to brush up your language skills - It can be hard enough to get through to a native speaker - but if you can manage to read in German, this is and important read and definitely one to get.


Withdrawal 1966-1967
Withdrawal 1966-1967

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Free-Form Improv Heaven, 29 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Withdrawal 1966-1967 (Audio CD)
There are keynote recordings throughout the history of jazz and improvised music - Louis Armstrong's 'Hot Fives', Charlie Parker's recordings for Dial, Miles' Birth of the Cool... When we think about these recordings, the SME's 'Withdrawal' should be listed among them.

Marking the point where British improvisation effectively split itself away from the jazz tradition that first spawned it, Withdrawal started life as a soundtrack for a film based on a short book by the obscure writer David Chapman which focuses on his time spent in a mental institution for drug addiction. Unlike the lung-ripping ferocity that was coming out of mainland Europe at the time, through the likes of Peter Brotzmann and Willem Breuker, Withdrawal is a much starker affair. There isn't the furious blast that you get with Machine Gun - instead, you have an almost child-like fragment of melody played on a glockenspiel bringing the music in. The players, all of whom play fantastically throughout, build their way in, break out and build freely. Of all the players, Evan Parker is probably the weakest, this being one of his earliest recordings, and Derek Bailey only plays on half the tracks, but the core trio of John Stevens, Paul Rutherford and Trevor Watts work constantly as feeds and foils for the others.

Unlike many of the releases on Emanem, the liner notes could be considered as borderline-sumptuous, being filled with photos taken from the sessions, giving a great feel for the time.

This is an essential recording on several counts and should be part of every serious jazz/improvised music collection. It may not be something you listen to very often - especially if your taste lends more towards Parker and Armstrong - but listen to it you must.


Blues -Digi-
Blues -Digi-

5.0 out of 5 stars Who Is Colette Magny?????, 3 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Blues -Digi- (Audio CD)
So... What do you do when you're hunting down obscure albums featuring your favourite musician and you come across a French woman you've never heard of who bears a striking resemblance to your grandmother? On the evidence of this album, my best suggestion would be for you to slap down your money and buy it straight away!

This album has cropped up on my radar several timesaver the years but I've never had enough enthusiasm to buy it. Now that I finally have, i wish I'd taken the plunge so much sooner. It cropped up originally because Henri Texier plays on it, and that in itself should be recommendation enough. That said, there are also a lot of other people involved in various capacities, so the great French bassist doesn't have anything other than a supporting role. But that ibecomes inconsequential when you hear Magny do her thing.

Colette Magny has a very distinctive voice, built up over a career and discography dating back Ito the sixties when she was singing out against the Vietnam war. Her ability to work through material and find something new shows her French heritage with traces of the Piaf/Brel shriek-and-strain that makes the chanson tradition so passionate. She works her magic on some seemingly innocuous jazz standards but also brings in pieces such as the Black Panther Party Anthem that few other singers would even know of, let alone record. The real stunner, however, is her version of Billie Holiday's 'Strange Fruit'. To take on something so inextricably linked with its originator takes a lot of guts - like trying to out-Coltrane Coltrane on 'My Favourite Things' - but Magny brings a heap of passion to the song and even before the song had finished I was already ranking this as possibly the greatest version since Holiday. This is a truly brilliant album, full of new and untracked territory, full of surprises and charms.

So... The next time you come across something strange and unfamiliar, featuring someone's gran on the cover and a host of names you've never heard of ... Pick it up.


Blues For A Hip King
Blues For A Hip King

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even More Good News From Africa!!!, 14 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Blues For A Hip King (Audio CD)
I first came across these recordings back in the late 80s when Abdullah Ibrahim was on a solo tour and was playing at the Hackney Empire. Back then, the albums were being released on the Kaz label on double vinyl. The sheer weight of this one and African SunAfrican Sun as I carried them off was glorious! What was even better was the music. While the line-up on these recordings make them seem like compilation CDs, there is nothing of the randomness of that genre. These tunes are all solid killers from start to finish.

There are several trio numbers, including the title track, where it is possible to hear the traces of both Ellington and Monk in Ibrahim's playing and these are balanced out against the small group numbers where the basic trio is filled out with various horn players including the vastly under-rated Basil Coetzee, the hugely talented and much under-recorded Kippie Moeketsi, Trombonist Buster Cooper and Blue Mitchell.

of the tracks, the stand-out numbers, for me, are the title piece and Ornette's Cornet, but it is so hard to pick out the best when everything is top-notch quality. This is solid African Jazz, full on sweet melodies and funky rhythms. if I had to pick out a down-side to this, then it would have to be the 'missing' track from the sessions that produced Ornette's Cornet - some years ago I came across an excruciatingly expensive vinyl copy of the original album that some of these tracks appeared on and there was an additional track (possibly called Monk on the Hudson) that I haven't come across anywhere since, and it's a shame that it never made it on to the final release of this CD.

If this does take your fancy, you should also check out the associated albums Voice Of Africa, Tintinyana and the aforementioned African Sun.


Weal and Woe
Weal and Woe

5.0 out of 5 stars Wailing Weals and Woes, 13 Aug 2012
This review is from: Weal and Woe (Audio CD)
Before I get carried away and lull you into buying this CD, you should be aware that Emanem have recently withdrawn this CD as it has now been superseded by two discs with additional material on each, The Sun (1967-1973) - Steve lacy and Avignon and After Vol.1 (1972/1974) - Steve Lacy.

Possibly the reason for the splitting of the original Weal and Woe is the only possible downfall that the original had - the fact that it was essentially two different albums. The first half consists of Lacy playing solo at Avignon and the second half is A quintet piece, the anti-war piece 'The Woe'. With some albums, the splitting of a disk into two sections made up of seemingly disparate material can give an impression of schizophrenia. But this album has never made me feel that way, which is a credit not just to the integrity of the performances but also to Martin Davidson's production values.

The two parts of the album are clearly distinct from one another but the programming of the Avignon solo pieces first means that they act as something of a prelude to 'The Woe'. in these 8 pieces, Lacy explores some of the wider techniques of saxophone sound that became very much his own. Along with the other key solo material that was released by Emanem, Lacy's 'Hooky' Hooky: Solo in Montreal 1976, this is amongst his most accessible solo performances and you can clearly hear what he is trying to explore. Unlike some of the more recent moves in improvised music, Lacy is focused entirely on the sound of the saxophone, rather than trying to find ways to make his instrument sound like something else. The title of one of the chapters of his book, Findings (which all musicians should try to track down, regardless of their instrument), gives a clear insight into what Lacy was trying to do: Sax Can Moo. Yes,he is trying to coax new sounds from the horn, but he is also firmly rooted in being a saxophonist.
While this is beautiful music, this is not the complete Avignon concert. the remaining material - along with everything from the solo section of this CD - is available on the Avignon and After release.

The wide range of explorative research that Lacy conducts in these solos pieces leads us easily into 'The Woe', Lacy's anti-war suite, complete with battle sounds drifting through the background. 'The Woe' is performed by quintet with Lacy being joined by regular partner Steve Potts on alto saxophone, Irene Aebi on cello and voice, Kent Cartermon double bass and Oliver Johnson on drums. It consists of 4 parts, totally around 30 minutes of music and is much fiercer and harsh than the solo pieces. But because of that, it becomes less a moan and more a wail. This is true protest music, combining the underlying moods of anger and grief in a way that few other people were ever able to do.

This is excellent music from start to finish and the music itself is essential listening. But should you buy this CD? Only if you can't afford the two new releases. If you are able to, buy the discs that Emanem have replaced the original 'Weal and Woe' with. That way, you get the full Avignon concert plus all the other extras that the two disks have been loaded with. If you can't afford both, and if this disk comes up at an impossibly low price, then buy it and listen to it endlessly until you can save up enough for the new releases.


Albert Ayler In Greenwich Village
Albert Ayler In Greenwich Village

5.0 out of 5 stars Salvation on Acid, 3 July 2012
described by one contemporary reviewer as being like 'a salvation army band on LSD', Albert Ayler's band of 1966-1967 marks possibly the greatest attempt to fuse the New Thing of the 60s with the jazz of the 1920s. Rousing, spiritual-like themes, startling in their simplicity, burst out and collide, break apart into raucous solos - both collective and individual - then somehow claw their way back again. The tunes sound strangely familiar, like something recognised that you might have sung at school, a wisp of something hear and there that you a sure you know. But these are something completely different. These tunes rip themselves into pieces and reform, both familiar and unrecognisable.

Don Ayler, Albert's trumpet-playing brother, shows that he was both a remarkable composer and performer. Much maligned by critics, Don Ayler lacked something in perfect technique but made up for this in power and passion. While his one composition on this set, 'Our Prayer', may sound like it has its roots in Albert's 'Truth is Marching In', it is clearly a different piece with a much simpler, darker form.

This is a fantastic album, the power and majesty of Albert Ayler's band contained over 4 tracks without any loss of clarity and purpose. The whole of it, along with the double album material that was released originally as part of Impulse's 'dedication series' and a couple of extra tracks that have had no/minimal release, is available on the complete Greenwich Village set Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings (which should be seen as a must by everyone) but if you don't fancy more than an albums worth of such material - and you like the far-out swirling cover-design - then this is an excellent place to dip into the wonderful world of Albert Ayler.

of tracks


Flight Bremen 1961
Flight Bremen 1961

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Underated..., 17 Jun 2012
This review is from: Flight Bremen 1961 (Audio CD)
If ever there was a group that could compete with the mighty three - the Miles Davis sextet and the quartets of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman - for being the most important unit in the history of modern jazz, then the Jimmy Giuffre trio of 1961 with Steve Swallow and Paul Bley was it. The big problem, of course, is that while the others had major public success that cast their works in marble, the Giuffre trio ended its days sharing loose change. But this is important music. Music that, through the auspices of Manfred Eicher, would go on to frame the output of ECM and shape what was to become a very European sound in jazz.

This album, one of two dates recorded by the trio in Europe, clearly displays the trio's fluid interaction, capturing live the seemingly telepathic qualities of Giuffre, Bley and Swallow.

Altogether, the trio recorded 5 albums worth of material - two live albums including this one in Bremen and Emphasis Stuttgart 1961, the two albums originall recorded for Verve and since released by ECM, Jimmy Giuffre 3, 1961, and the one album recorded for Columbia, Free Fall. While only the last is available at the budget-price end of the market, all of these albums are worth tracking down and should be regarded as essential listening for anyone with an interest in modern jazz.
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Jazz Workshop 1966
Jazz Workshop 1966
Price: 9.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars George Duke - The Lost Jazz Years..., 14 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Jazz Workshop 1966 (Audio CD)
I first bought this album back in 1989 in the record shop that sat on the corner of Hatfield Market, not knowing at the time of any of the band members but intrigued by the grainy photos on the reverse and the bemusing notes (written in Spanish) that seemed to indicate that someone was playin a bass trumpet... What more could you want from the bargain vinyl that was still available in the early days of the CD revolution?

Of the many albums I've bought on such whims over the years, this one stands out in my memory (along with Lou Donaldson's 'Blues Walk') because it was such a gold-encrusted gem. So much so that ever since the dawn of the Internet discography I've been trying to find it on CD. And finally, over twenty years later, it's here! George Duke, minus the jazz-funk keyboard slung across his shoulder, playing beautiful jazz piano with a solid rhythm section and, yes, a bass trumpet crafting some very gentle lines over the top.

On his own website, George Duke describes it as the worst record he ever made, saying that he just plays the head nicely and rattles out high speed runs instead of crafted solos. As someone who never understood the appeal of the jazz-funk that Duke moved into during the 70s, this album have become, for me, a high-water mark to which Duke has, sadly, never returned.

On the album, Duke is accompanied by David Simmons on bass trumpet, John Heard on bass and George Walker on drums. Simmons, who plays beautifully with the tone of a trombone and the fluency of the trumpet, appears to have recorded only once for this album. He died in 2010. The similarly elusive George Walker also appears to have a scant discography despite remaining tight throughout. Only bassist John Heard seems to have developed a career to parallel Duke's level of creative success.

Of the music, my favourite has always been Jeannine, possibly because, being the shortest track on the album, it was the one most likely to get put on to the compilation tapes I listened to in the car. But on buying this album again on CD and hearing the opening bars of 'Second Time Around' I have begun to realise just how good this album is. Out of the same bag as the quartet recordings of Kenny Dorham and Miles Davis, while this is not perhaps the first album to dig into from the mid-sixties (Dorham's Una Mas: Remastered and Lee Morgan's Search For The New Land would be my preferred points of entry) this is still a worthy contender and is surprising as much for the work of the relatively unknown sidemen as for Duke's performance in a non-funk mode.


From Next to Last: Improvised Guitar Solos 2001-2002
From Next to Last: Improvised Guitar Solos 2001-2002
Price: 11.91

5.0 out of 5 stars A Long Way From Wes, 12 May 2012
For those like me that first found an interest in jazz guitar through Wes Montgomery and Grant Green, take a deep breath before entering the world of John Russell. This is not comfortable music and not the kind of thing to impress your dinner-party guests with as you serve the cheese platter.

John Russell has found his footing in the free improvisation that grew up with Evan Parker and Derek Bailey. Having heard him play both as a solo performer and within group settings, I think his solo work gives much more room for him to manoeuvre around the instrument and to let his ideas flow out.

The music heard here is in a similar vein to some of Derek Bailey's solo outings - very angular approaches to both melodic and harmonic invention - but much less acerbic and with less of the grittiness. If Derek Bailey could be said to sound like the steel mills of Sheffield, then Russell is much more a product of the wide open spaces of the Romney marshes. His tone and humour reflect much more of the quiet of the south and while it may seem that the way he seems to attack the guitar comes straight out of the same area as Bailey, John Russell has a totally different approach and a completely different sound.

For more in a similar vein, you should also check out his album on Evan Parker's PSI label Hyste - John Russell.


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