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Sentient
Sentient
Price: £12.08

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A veritable cornucopia of ideas and subtle interplay, 13 Dec 2013
This review is from: Sentient (Audio CD)
The album "Live At The Real Music Club" with the group Sentient is to me without a hint of competition the release of the year 2013.

Sentient is guitarist STEFFE SHARPSTRINGS love child. Along with bassist "SUBS " and drummer Steve Cassidy, he has created a masterpiece within the improvised trio-rock format. Its originality is comparable only to the very largest bands. Think of all the names you can think of whether it's the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream or Hüsker Dü. This band is just as original as those.

The music is almost entirely improvised. It may sound scary, but Steffe is a veritable cornucopia of ideas and overview. With an unique sense of disposition and timing - known only from the very best American jazz musicians - he controls the battle.

The rhythm section works quite closely with Steffe in a subtle interplay, which is only possible among musicians who know each other very well. It may therefore seem strange that this concert was recorded at the group's debut in "The Real Music Club" in Brighton (located in the south of England), but it sounds like that there are years of preparation before that.

The CD consists of 5 long tracks that are mostly instrumental, sometimes supplemented by Steffes singing, which mostly consists merely of a few improvised lines. Steffe also plays synth here and there, but most of the time it is his guitar that is in focus.

This applies from the first track " Awaken " which takes off softly but later moves into more extreme avant-garde rock, over to the next track "On The Other Side ," which indulges in a more reggae and dub influenced style, to the next track - "Everything Makes A Difference " - an almost ballad-like tune with a hint of blues inspiration and - again - reggae.

The fourth track on the album is here entitled "Nearer " and sounds a little familiar, since it is a variant of the song " Near & Now " from Steffes old group HERE AND NOW (where Cassidy also has been involved). The last closing track titled "A is for Anarchy " is again a variant of an old tune (at least for a start), but soon it metamorphosizes into pure improvisation. A rockin' end to a perfect album.

Although Steffe has been musically active since the mid-70s there has been years between his public appearances, and the amount of releases can easily be counted. So much greater joy it is to realize that this is a pure masterpiece.

You can use the "underrated" cliché but that is just waste of time. One should appreciate that Steffe plays what he wants and when he wants. And those who are among the lucky few know of his existence and appreciate his talent and perhaps also are aware when a new album comes along. And there is good reason to hurry because the record label 4zero Records has supposedly only made 1,000 copies


Free Form (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
Free Form (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
Price: £8.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Youthful freshness and melodious ways, 13 Feb 2013
Donald Byrds recent passing to the next life give us all a good opportunity to revisit the great mans recorded legacy. As well as re-appraise Rudy Van Gelder's RVG remaster series which sadly is no more.

Once we were used to almost too many Blue Note re-issues (even though that is only possible in theory), but now the Blue Note website seems dominated by streaming and downloads. Does the dedicated jazz-fan stream jazz to his computer as his or her primary way of listening to music? I guess some of us still prefer a good old fashioned CD with bonus tracks.

Free Form is yet another offering from Donald Byrds most inspired period. His sense of melodic writing is revealed in many different ways. On this album Herbie Hancock (piano) has replaced Sonny Clark in what for some time seemed to be a Blue Note regular rhythm group also consisting of Butch Warren (bass) and Billy Higgins (drums). I believe there is some certain magic and youthful freshness to all Blue Note records that Hancock and Warren have recorded (Herbie Hancock debut in his own name comes to mind).

Donald Byrds fellow blowing partner is Wayne Shorter and has he ever recorded a uninspired album in the role as a Blue Note sideman? I guess not. Here he seems like the ideal partner for exploring new ground.

The album starts with an up tempo tune that has this "Baptist Sunday church feeling" that is known from other Byrd albums. Only to be followed by a beautiful ballad "Nightflower" by Herbie Hancock.

The tune that probably opened side 2 is called "French Spice ". It is based on chords that can seem similar to "Here I Am" from the "Byrd In Hand" album, but it is a very original tune in its own right that displays Byrds talent for blending the melodious as well as the experimental in a natural way.

This is followed by the 11 minutes long title track that more than suggest what genre it is about. It is however remarkable how Byrd attempt at free jazz sounds so relevant and pleasant and also pretty melodic. To my knowledge he has not recorded anything like that. If I should (try to) persuade an average pop fan to listen to avant-garde I might choose this one.

The CD closes with a bonus track called "Three Wishes" by Herbie Hancock that does not add much new to this nice album, but still it is worth listening to. At the moment (February 2013) "Free Form" is one the more expensive albums from amazon.co.uk. It is priceless so get it while you can.


King Curtis: Wail Man Wail - The best of King Curtis 1952-1961
King Curtis: Wail Man Wail - The best of King Curtis 1952-1961
Price: £13.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular release with focus on the Kings early career, 12 Dec 2012
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This King Curtis 3CD is a spectacular release because you obtain 96 tunes - almost 4 hours - for very small money AND because it is a clever compilation that focuses on King Curtis early career as well as his sideman career. I have not laid my hands on any album that covers his early career so extensive. Despite having many albums there are very few tunes that I have heard before. I imagine that even very experienced fans of King Curtis will enjoy this release.

The CDs are split between 3 logical themes:
CD 1 KINGS ROCK (1953-1961)
CD 2 WAIL, CURTIS, WAIL (1952-1957)
CD3 TAKIN' CARE OF BUSINESS (1958-1961)

"Kings Rock" is dedicated to various (very often single) releases in his own name on various labels. Sometimes credited as King Curtis & his Orchestra, other times just King Curtis or King Curtis Combo and even King Curtis & His Tenor Sax with Orchestra. The groups consists of various musicians - know and unknown - to the first group belongs Mickey "Guitar" Baker, Kenny Burrell, Al Casey and Herman Foster, but Curtis regulars like Jimmy Lewis, Belton Evans and Ernie Hayes can also be found. However every other musician seem to become anonymous when the King is blowing his tenor. In fact it is striking just how mature and advanced his playing seems to be from the very first moment.

"Wail, Curtis, Wail" and "Takin' Care of Business" are both dedicated to his sideman career and it is a goldmine of obscure releases from the past. You will hear artists that you that knew about and not a single one is irrelevant. If you did not know Melvin Daniels, Big Connie, Mr. Bear & Bearcats (they really knew how to name a band in the past) or The Twin Tones here is a change to take a trip in the past and enjoy all those that did not make the way to the encyclopedias or even Wikipedia. There are however also artists like Big Maybelle and on "Takin' Care of Business" artist like Neil Sedaka, Bobby Darin, The Coasters and (surprise) Waylon Jennings and even Lionel Hampton can be found between the more obscure pearls.

To sum up: Wail Man Wail is a welcome and clever compiled release that covers a part of King Curtis career that perhaps sometimes is a little overlooked, but it is not merely a documentation, it is an album that can be enjoyed for its sheer musicianship and great entertainment values. If your party is a little dull or your visitors are not talking to each put on any of these discs and things will change for the better.


Color Schemes
Color Schemes

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant album from Bobby, 11 Dec 2012
This review is from: Color Schemes (Audio CD)
This is a great "Blue Note" album from an innovative Blue Note vibraphone artist recorded in the 80s. I know Bobby Hutcherson of course from countless Blue Note albums from the 60s. On this album issued on Landmark (not Blue Note) and produced by the legendary Orrin Keepnews Bobby interprets a few classic Blue Note Tunes in his own sweet way. These include "Recorda Me" (Joe Henderson's "evergreen") and "Whisper Not" (by Benny Golson of course).

The classic tunes are blended with his own originals and together the tunes sum up to nice an album where the musicians play with equal relaxation and dedication. The band consists of Billy Higgins on drums, Mulgrew Miller on piano, John Heard on bass and Airto on percussion. The vibes (& marimba on one tune) blends very nice with the piano. This is hardly the world most innovative or ground breaking album, but with the right pair of speakers and the right glass of wine it could for a moment be world most pleasant jazz album.


Yesterday I Saw You Kissing Tiny Flowers
Yesterday I Saw You Kissing Tiny Flowers
Price: £10.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic hybrid music, 4 Dec 2012
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Mushroom is apparently a loose organized musical collective from San Francisco, USA. A few core members are known for also being members of Daevid Allens University of Errors. On this album they work together with vocalist / lyricist Allison Faith Levy. The album is edited from 4 different live performances featuring different musicians, but it is not really a "live in concert" release. It is more a jam based albums that happens to be recorded live.

On eight very different tracks with such titles as "Gas, Grass or A** - Nobody Rides For Free" and "Kraut Mask Replica" different kinds of psychedelic, acid, jazz- and avant-garde rock is explored. Even though the various tunes seem very different the whole album is very consistent and much more accessible than one will ever imagine before hearing it.

Apart from more traditional rock instrumentation the band from time to time use trumpet, flute, saxophone, celeste, clarinet and igil (a two stringed instrument from the Russian republic Tuva). All this colors the musical palette and both trumpet and flute solos are played very straight and blend with the music in an eclectic way.

Some of the tunes seem to be drone alike, hypnotic or "kraut rock" (terrible expression, by the way) inspired but even this is played with unusual gentle ease.

The album closes with a tune called "The Sun Machine Is Coming Down and we're Gonna Have A Party". While this "statement" may not seem very poetic on printed paper or a computer screen, it will perhaps come as a surprise that this is the only repeated line in the tune and it is also the most melodic tune on the album as well. It is like cherry blossom that unfold, a great end to a great album.


Jazz / Quartet & Trio
Jazz / Quartet & Trio
Price: £4.48

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mellow tones from a relaxed player and gentle interaction, 2 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Jazz / Quartet & Trio (Audio CD)
Joe Puma was an american jazzguitarist that was featured on early records with Herbie Mann amongst others. On this japanese import album originally released in 1957 he is working with an interesting lineup of musicians consisting of:

Eddie Costa - vibes
Bill Evans - piano
Oscar Pettiford - bass
Paul Motian - drums
Joe Puma - guitar

The trio tracks are recorded without Evans and Motian. The Quartet omits Eddie Costa. Therefore Pettiford is the stable part together Joe Puma. And as on practical all recordings with Pettiford as a sideman he is very dominating with his steady natural swinging bass. Many of tunes will be well known to the experienced jazzlover, but there is also one Puma-original ("Blues For Midge") as well as a tune written by Earl Zindars ("Mother Of Earl").

The trio part of the album really has a relaxed feel just like an intimate talk between three friends. All instruments engage in a balanced dialogue where Puma's guitar almost have a role like a blowing instrument. Joe Puma is comping, but in very discreet almost minimalistic way. Eddie Costa was no stranger to working with guitarists - Sal Salvador and Tal Farlow comes to mind - and his subtle playing and easy change of roles makes one dream of an album with many tracks.

The quartet shares the same laidback values and in the first tune ("I Got It Bad..") Joe Puma plays the theme lines just to leave space for a longer Pettiford solo that is followed by Bill Evans before Joe Puma himself plays a short closing solo. Joe Puma relaxed and economical playing combined with his very generous attitude to give space to his sidemen somehow makes this an unusual mainstream release.

One get the impression that Joe Puma was not the world most natural soloist, but then again if you love classical jazzguitar as well as Oscar Pettiford this could be a good representation in your record collection of one of the lesser known jazz guitarists of the 50s. And hey have a look at the wonderful and artistic cover...

Tracks:

1. Ubas - TRIO
2. Blues For Midge- TRIO
3. Stablemates - TRIO
4. I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good - Quartet
5. Mother Of Earl - Quartet
6. Indian Summer - Quartet


Hangin' Out/Superfunk
Hangin' Out/Superfunk
Price: £11.11

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jazz-funk pioners with an unique approach, 23 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hangin' Out/Superfunk (Audio CD)
Two LPs from the beginning of the 70s assembled on an almost 20 years old reprint, which are still available.

Funk Inc was an interesting band with one foot planted in the soul-inspired organ jazz and the other in the 70 African-American funk music. The quintet consisted of 5 members: Bobby Watley on organ, Jimmy Munford on drums, Steve Weakley on guitar, Gene Barr on tenor sax and Cecil Hunt on congas. There is no bass - just like the 60s many organ jazz groups.

The first lp "Hangin 'Out" (from 1972) recorded by none other than Rudy Van Gelder and the group is on selected tracks extended with Gordon Edwards on bass. This is the case on the opening number "Smokin At Tiffany's", which in the 90s was a kind of hit in acid jazz circles. It is followed by "Give Me Your Love" from Curtis Mayfield "Superfly", where guitarist Steve Weakley indulges in extended acid-soul solos. Later he is also featured as soloist on an instrumental version of "I Can See Clearly Now" where he plays completely different with improvisations in the style of, for example, Kenny Burrell.

There are also a few vocal numbers sung by Watley and Mumford.

Their soulful vocals is more used on the next album, "Super Funk" (from 1973), produced by David Axelrod. Although not shown in the linernotes there is some studio musicians on this album, including Johnny "Guitar" Watson, who plays bass. It is a more organic record than "Hangin 'Out" and at the same time a little dark and mysterious. There is also a mixture of original songs and copy versions. But as true jazz improvisers their interpretations are rather unique.

It is a mystery why this album has not achieved cult status like "Shaft," "Superfly" or "What's Going On." This album is unique and timeless and it seems to me that Funk Inc has been a kind of pioneers for whom the word underrated is just an useless cliché.


Harlem Underground Band
Harlem Underground Band
Price: £11.68

3.0 out of 5 stars Getting' high when smokin' cheeba but the rest is more gravitational, 6 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Harlem Underground Band (Audio CD)
The Harlem Underground Bands album is a little disappointing to me. Not because it is bad but simply because I expected the whole album to have the standard and originality of the albums hit.

Naturally the albums start with the cult classic "Smokin' Cheeba-Cheeba" in all its 7:40 minutes glory. This piece of neo-psychedelic proto hip hop funk is one happy moment in the history of afro-american recordings. The cool masculine vocals with and the overwrought female responses that in a subtle way both can signal the joys of sexual affairs as well as smoking illegal substances. The track features well-known harmonica-player Buddy Lucas and organ-player "Baby" Cortez as well as George Bensons cool guitar lines in an unusual context. The female vocal is provided by Ann Winley while the masculine part remains a mystery. Anyway it is a damned cool track and the grotesque use of echoes really gives a special effect to the joyful and stoned atmosphere.

The next track is called "Fed Up" and features almost the same musicians with the addition of Willis Jackson very sexy saxophone lines. Just as "Cheeba" it is a call/response tune. It is a good R&B tune full of humour but not near as spectacular. This is followed by "Finger in It" - yet another funny and fresh track that makes great use of the tension between exaggerated feminine and masculine vocals.

After this there is a pedestrian instrumental version of Bill Withers well-known hit "Ain't No Sunshine" featuring Willis Jackson sax as lead instrument. To my ears it sounds tiresome and not that inspired. It is better on the albums closing track (an instrumental rendition of "Fed Up") but still not that necessary given that we have already heard a vocalized version.

That's all - five tracks. It resembles an album that is rushed together in too short time, but luckily it produced some great music and one can't really ignore "Smokin' Cheeba-Cheeba - right? ;-)


Fuego (Rvg Edition)
Fuego (Rvg Edition)
Price: £10.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Donald Byrd's creative rush from 1959, 5 July 2012
This review is from: Fuego (Rvg Edition) (Audio CD)
Donald Byrd was a Detroit jazz trumpet player that to some degree was over-shadowed by colleagues like Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard before he found new style and audience in the 70's. He recorded many albums for Blue Note. Many of these show his remarkable talent for composing and great sense of melody. "Fuego" is no exception and is a fantastic example of how musicians in the past could create great music with minimal effects.

On this album he was working with fellow Detroit musician and bass-player Doug Watkins who was the cousin of the famous Paul Chambers, drummer Lex Humphries, alto saxophone player Jackie McLean and piano-player Duke Pearson. In fact this album is the start of the fruitful collaboration between Byrd & Duke which produced several memorable albums. The album opens with the title-tune that is a vital and moody hard bop tune. The more creative and curious sense for writing is revealed in the next tune, "Bup A Loup". The theme is played in a funny staccato rhythm while the rest is played in a more conventional swinging jazz sense - this shifting creates great dynamics in this cheerful and original tune.

From there it is time to the inevitable blues tune. This is called "funky mama" and is a lengthy stretch-out more jam-alike tune played with a relaxed ease. It does not really have a theme but instead it gives plenty of space to each musician and Jackie McLean plays a pretty long and tasteful solo before Duke Pearson's gospel-inspired piano takes over. I imagine that Donald Byrd has more team-spirit than the average jazz group leader at the time because it is almost 7 minutes into the tune before he finally blows his trumpet in a calm and melodious solo.

After this follows "Low Life" - also a blues inspired tune with a minor theme - before the album ends with a "Lament" and "Amen". Despite the title "Lament" is a thoughtful and evocative tune (a pleasant lament perhaps?) and one of the albums highlights. The ending amen is a cheerful hallelujah which rounds off this organic album.

The religious end signals a spiritual dimension that Byrd & Duke later expanded on the highly original aptly titled album "A New Perspective". On this album Duke Pearson left the piano-chair to Herbie Hancock and concentrated on his role as arranger and composer, but that is another story.


Reach Out (Rvg Edition)
Reach Out (Rvg Edition)
Offered by themusicmerchant
Price: £19.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and beautiful music from the great Hank Mobley, 26 Jun 2012
This review is from: Reach Out (Rvg Edition) (Audio CD)
This album with Hank Mobley features Billy Higgins on drums, George Benson on guitar, Woody Shaw on trumpet/flugelhorn, Lamont Johnson on piano and Bob Cranshaw on bass. The album is recorded in January 1968 and has a warm feeling that eases and pleases your mind, just like a warm windy summer day or sweet rain on a pleasant summer night. It is an organic album recorded at the end of a productive decade with a new approach where Mobley keeps his hard bop base while mildly integrating the more soul orientated sounds. For some odd reason this albums is sometimes labeled as one of his more weak efforts, but this must complete misunderstanding as this is a great album and a secret pearl (ok "semi-secret") in the enormous recorded output by Hank Mobley.

The album starts with the title tune which turns out to be well known The Supremes tune. This version can sound a little corny in a cool way with George Benson playing nice guitar lines through the verse and chorus. In fact it lasts almost 2:30 minutes before Hank Mobley starts soloing, again a little corny. Only to be followed by Woody Shaw who is playing a more sharp tone and later Lamont Johnson that you can view as pedestrian or corny in a cool way.

The next tune labeled "Up, Over and Out" is more familiar up-tempo hard bop. Cool city music of the late sixties with a great solo from Mobley. It is followed by yet another original "Lookin' East" that is more medium tempo in a swinging jazz rhythm and just like all other tunes colored by George Bensons tasteful guitar lines.

The album seconds cover is "Goin' Out Of My Head", the pop tune by Little Anthony that has been covered by everybody from Wes Montgomery to Frank Sinatra. At the time of recording the tune was 4 years old but had already been covered by several artists, but this interpretation reveals the true improvisational and jazz qualities of this unusual ballad.

This slow ballad is followed by the albums fastest tune "Good Pickin's". What is a Blue Note album without fast music? In my ears it is like a little precursor to the albums closing tune, the beautiful original "Beverly" by Lamont Johnson. I assume it must be a love song because of the title and the longing and poetic qualities that is unfolded. It makes me wonder about Johnsons other writing abilities. Lamont seems to have a more marginal position in the royal row of piano players, but I found out lately that is also recorded albums on his own. When hearing his little masterpiece here I really feel great need to learn about Lamont Johnson.

I simply love this album and it is one of the few that I have both versions, the RVG remaster from 2005 and the first Blue Note CD version from 1997. It is pretty obvious that the sound benefits a lot from Rudy Van Gelder work. Go for the remaster!


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