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Shoulda Been Home
Shoulda Been Home
Price: 10.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, 27 April 2014
This review is from: Shoulda Been Home (Audio CD)
Robert Cray and producer Steve Jordan create their second triumph in a row. Like the proceeding album, Take Your Shoes Off, Cray succeeds in mining a vintage sound for a cool retro feel. What distinguishes this record is the overall mellow mood. It's the slow burners such as Anytime and Help Me To Forget Her which give the album its substance and help to create a late night groove. Robert Cray makes use of overdubbing on some of the tracks to create a smooth tapestry of interlocking parts, and his guitar sparkles with understated authority. The centerpiece is Out Of Eden, a nine minute number showcasing how sympathetically the whole band play together, and demonstrating what can be achieved when musicians pay attention to dynamics. This album is much more sophisticated than much of Cray's early work, and the result is very stylish.


Take Your Shoes Off
Take Your Shoes Off

5.0 out of 5 stars Cray in Retro Mode, 27 April 2014
This review is from: Take Your Shoes Off (Audio CD)
Robert Cray came to prominence in the eighties with Strong Persuader. That album featured some great songs and is a classic in its way, but with its glossy sheen and the sterile production values reflective of that era, it sounds rather dated today. Soul music from the sixties and the first half of the seventies has stood the test of time far better, and is the inspiration behind this album. Cray had been moving in that direction on previous albums, most successfully on Sweet Potato Pie, but with this effort Cray really captures an authentic sound. What's interesting is that by going for a retro feel, Cray actually succeeds in creating a more modern ambience. Much of the credit goes to producer Steve Davis, the man Cray has used again recently on his In My Soul album.

The horn section arrangement for Love Gone To Waste is provided by the great Willie Mitchell, the man behind the Hi Records sound made famous by Al Green and Ann Peebles. That Wasn't Me and 24-7 Man look to Stax Records for inspiration, and Tollin' Bells is the only straight ahead blues number. I think Cray's version is as good as the original by Lowell Fulson.
Most of the tracks are excellent, with There's Nothing Wrong being particularly infectious. The only track which doesn't add much to the record is What About Me.

All in all, this record presents an increased maturity and attention to detail in the production values. The rather rock orientated drum sound which was present on most of his previous albums is gone, and Cray's voice is close miked for the first time. I'd recommend it to those who like the fusion of blues and soul and aren't so keen on blues-rock.


Moanin'
Moanin'
Price: 7.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Every Track A Winner, 10 Sep 2013
This review is from: Moanin' (Audio CD)
Moanin' is one of the definitive examples of Hard-Bop. The title track by Bobby Timmons is one of those tunes which manages to be so catchy as to be impossible to forget, it also features a stunning solo by Lee Morgan. Are You Real, Along Came Betty and Blues March are three of Benny Golson's finest compositions, and the hip version of Come Rain Or Come Shine rounds things off perfectly. The centrepiece is definitely Golson's wonderful Drum Thunder Suite, which features magnificent mallet work by Blakey, infectious interludes, and very tight group passages. Every jazz fan, and other music lovers besides, should have a copy of this album.


Speak No Evil
Speak No Evil
Price: 6.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction To Shorter, 10 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Speak No Evil (Audio CD)
For anyone looking for their first exposure to the music of Wayne Shorter, they couldn't do better than this album. The memorable, clever, yet affecting compositions of Shorter, and the presence of the wonderful Freddie Hubbard make this 1964 Blue Note Set one of his very best. With Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones in the rhythm section, all angles are covered, and the album contains no weak moments.


Footprints: The Life And Music Of Wayne Shorter
Footprints: The Life And Music Of Wayne Shorter
Offered by SeeDeez
Price: 2.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Too Thorough By Half, 10 Sep 2013
In the case of Footprints: The Life and Music of Wayne Shorter, a musical companion to the biography of the same name, the compilers thoroughness and apparent lack of bias is in fact the packages downfall. It is hard to imagine listeners who enjoy the contents of disc one finding anything to appreciate in the over-produced, synth-laden tracks from the `80's, which comprise a third of disc two. Wayne Shorter's solo Blue Note albums of the `60's are acknowledged classics, but because of the compilers desire to represent each era of Shorter's development, only two tracks from 1964's Speak No Evil are included. Shorter's contributions to Miles Davis's albums are represented by four tracks, as are his Weather Report compositions.

The decision to include Aja, a vapid Steely Dan piece featuring a Shorter solo is a puzzling one, as the piece sounds remarkably dated, and does not shed a particularly interesting light on Shorter's activities as a sideman. The worst tracks are undoubtedly those from his `80's albums for Columbia. All feature obnoxious programmed beats, with the rock drums of `Joy Ryder' sounding ridiculously un-subtle. The inane rhythms of `Children of the Night' are equally bad. They almost come across as a tasteless joke at the listener's expense. The last three tracks of disc two present Shorter's more recent work, and it comes as a relief to return to the acoustic settings which kicked off disc one.

This two CD set is only worth getting if found at a low price, because although half of the material is excellent, the musical low points on disc two are so awful as to make listeners wish that they had invested in a few of Shorter's classic albums instead.


Monk
Monk
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 9.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Bernstein's Best Album Yet, 25 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Monk (Audio CD)
Every now and then you find a player on the scene today in possession of qualities you were beginning to suspect were a thing of the past. In Ira Gitler's liner notes to this album, Jim Hall was quoted as saying 'He is the most impressive young guitarist I've heard. He plays the best of them all for swing, logic, feel and taste.' Who are we to argue? Bernstein's warm, glowing tone is immensely rewarding. He's put the time in to get the right nuances from his guitar and his sound is simply more compelling than that of most of his contemporaries. He has studied the art of phrasing and inflecting his notes to make what he plays emotionally direct. With this album, he proves that he can bring those qualities to bear on heavyweight material by Thelonious monk.

Bernstein chose an interesting and well-paced selection of Monk's music to play with his trio, and throws in two excellent solo performances of Monk's Mood and Ruby My Dear. His rendering of the difficult Brilliant Corners is commendable, and his solo on Pannonica is superbly crafted. Bernstein never over-plays, and for the first time all these pieces sound really effective on the guitar. He gets inside Monk's music, but still plays like himself throughout. In this way both the style and the substance of monk's music are kept alive.


Roll Call
Roll Call
Price: 6.04

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mobley Masterpiece, 25 Aug 2013
This review is from: Roll Call (Audio CD)
Roll Call was made in 1960 when Hank Mobley was at the height of his powers as a player and composer. It is sandwiched in his discography between the acknowledged classics Soul Station and Workout, and is every bit as good. The presence of Freddie Hubbard on Roll Call lights a fire which burns from the first tune's statement until the end of the disc. Hubbard has always had the juiciest tone on trumpet, and here it blends perfectly with Mobley's tenor to create an immensely pleasing composite sound. The rhythm section boasts Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Art Blakey, and the latter really helps to feed Hubbards fire.

Hank Mobley is not rated highly enough as a composer. All of his tunes on this album are direct, unpretentious and soulful. They are fantastic bookends to inspired soloing and all merit reviving. 'Take Your Pick' is my pick of the bunch as it seems to encapsulate the mood of the entire album. Every track is enjoyable, and Mobley's version of 'The More I See You' is lovely. If Kind Of Blue is lauded for creating and establishing a unique and consistent atmosphere, Roll Call should be acknowledged as doing the same, although in this case the mood is upbeat and uplifting.


Hustlin' (Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
Hustlin' (Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
Price: 8.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hits The Spot, 14 Sep 2012
This is an extremely satisfying album from one of the greatest soul-jazz tenors of all time. Stanley Turrentine finds himself in good company. As well as the supportive and sympathetic organ work of his wife of the time, Shirley Scott, and the swinging support of bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Otis Finch, Turrentine benefits from the special rapport he has with the wonderful guitarist Kenny Burrell. Turrentine and Burrell always seemed to bring out the best in each other. Turrentine guests on Burrell's classic `Midnight Blue' album, and they both play on Jimmy Smith's masterpieces; `Back At The Chicken Shack' and `Midnight Special'. This CD is every bit as enjoyable.

'Trouble No. 2' gets things moving with an irresistible groove, and then things mellow out a bit for 'Love Letters'. Turrentine's 'The Hustler' is rock solid and Shirley Scott shows what she can do with her own 'Ladyfingers'. 'Something Happens To Me' is the epitome of relaxed swing, and the closing track, 'Going Home' reclaims the old melody from the plundering hands of Dvorak.

Just as 'That's Where It's At', an album recorded two years earlier, is the perfect introduction to Mr. T's acoustic quartet playing, this album is an ideal example of his organ combo work. Don't miss out on a good thing.


Incredible Jazz Guitar
Incredible Jazz Guitar

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Wes, 13 Sep 2012
This review is from: Incredible Jazz Guitar (Audio CD)
If you asked a cross section of contemporary jazz guitarists to pick essential jazz guitar albums, this is one that they could all agree on. The Incredible Jazz Guitar is not only the album that announced to the jazz world that Wes Montgomery had arrived as a major force to be reckoned with, it is the record that caused many established players to re-evaluate their technique.

With many much-copied innovators, it can sometimes be hard to appreciate what made them so unique in the first place. This is not the case with Wes Montgomery. His choice to use the thumb rather than a plectrum to play notes was un-orthodox, and has never been matched let alone bettered. He was the first guitarist to play entire choruses in octaves, and his influential strategy of constructing a solo by starting with single notes, then progressing to octaves, and finally improvising with block chords is in full evidence here.

The choice of material is first rate. The album opens with a fast version of the Sonny Rollins composition Airegin, and includes a very beautiful version of Polkadots & Moonbeams played in octaves. In addition, Wes introduces some of his finest originals including the catchy Four On Six and the jazz waltz West Coast Blues. Listen out for the moment in his solo on Mr. Walker where he spontaneously comes up with a harmonic phrase later utilised in the Bond films.

With no let up in quality for 44 minutes, and consistently excellent support from Tommy Flanagan on piano, and two of the Heath brothers on bass and drums, how could you not purchase this pivotal album?


Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery
Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery
Price: 8.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Wes, 13 Sep 2012
If you asked a cross section of contemporary jazz guitarists to pick essential jazz guitar albums, this is one that they could all agree on. The Incredible Jazz Guitar is not only the album that announced to the jazz world that Wes Montgomery had arrived as a major force to be reckoned with, it is the record that caused many established players to re-evaluate their technique.

With many much-copied innovators, it can sometimes be hard to appreciate what made them so unique in the first place. This is not the case with Wes Montgomery. His choice to use the thumb rather than a plectrum to play notes was un-orthodox, and has never been matched let alone bettered. He was the first guitarist to play entire choruses in octaves, and his influential strategy of constructing a solo by starting with single notes, then progressing to octaves, and finally improvising with block chords is in full evidence here.

The choice of material is first rate. The album opens with a fast version of the Sonny Rollins composition Airegin, and includes a very beautiful version of Polkadots & Moonbeams played in octaves. In addition, Wes introduces some of his finest originals including the catchy Four On Six and the jazz waltz West Coast Blues. Listen out for the moment in his solo on Mr. Walker where he spontaneously comes up with a harmonic phrase later utilised in the Bond films.

With no let up in quality for 44 minutes, and consistently excellent support from Tommy Flanagan on piano, and two of the Heath brothers on bass and drums, how could you not purchase this pivotal album?


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