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GlynLuke (York UK)
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Live At Birdland
Live At Birdland
Price: £6.21

5.0 out of 5 stars I want to talk about Trane, 20 Dec 2014
This review is from: Live At Birdland (Audio CD)
But what is there left to say? The man made music like breathing. Unsentimental, emotional, a mite earnest at times later on, committed, sometimes breathtaking, often ineffably lovely, always distinctive.
It's all here on this classic 1963 session from Birdland, with the equally classic line-up of endlessly inventive pianist McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison reliable on bass, and storming drummer Elvin Jones, who must have been one of the hardest working men in jazz back then.
The opener Afro-Blue is a ten-minute lesson in intensity, propelled along by Elvin on fire behind a drum-kit that sounds like it must be shifting across the stage, such is the power and energy with which Jones bashes his skins.
I Want to Talk About You is Trane in gentler mode, but as ever finding the unexpected in the Billy Eckstine standard. Lovely.
The Promise plays host to a sparkling, beautifully recorded solo from Tyner, among other delights. In fact the sound on the whole album is superb.
The rest of this wonderful music I'll leave for you to discover for yourself. How can one describe music this visceral, this immediate, this damn good!
There are fuller versions of this famed Birdland date, as well as a Vol 2 - but this will do for now. It's stating no more than the self-evident truth to say that this music is not only essential, and deserving of its classic status, but proof if proof were needed that John Coltrane was a genius of jazz, and a musician of humbling passion, integrity and grace.

Marvellous.


Coltrane
Coltrane

4.0 out of 5 stars Out of this world, 20 Dec 2014
This review is from: Coltrane (Audio CD)
At his best, which was most of the time, Trane made music that was indeed out of this world, which just so happens to be the opening track of this self-titled 1962 LP - not to be confused with a much earlier album also simply called Coltrane.
Unlike my American friend in the review printed below, I can hear nothing wrong with the sound on this 2007 reissue, but like him I regret the exclusion of the extra tracks available on other editions (though I can live without the needless alternate takes to be found on the Deluxe edition).
The opener is a storming number, which is suitably rounded off with a decisive full stop courtesy of drummer Elvin Jones. Coltrane, Tyner and Garrison play like devils/angels throughout.
The same goes for the rest of this desirable album, which sees Trane and company at their considerable peak.
Inch Worm is one of those 'catchy' tunes - like My Favourite Things, never of my favourite things - that can drive you mad if you let it, but actually it rather suits the band, and Coltrane thankfully plays fast and lose with its essential tweeness.
Soul Eyes is just gorgeous.
Miles' Mode starts off a mite underpowered but soon lets rip, and there's a lovely solo from Tyner towards the end.
Not the most essential of Coltrane albums, but if you love the man then it will be essential just the same. I love it the more I play it, and Out of This World is a stunning track that opens a fine set.


Yasmin Levy - Sentir
Yasmin Levy - Sentir
Price: £14.50

5.0 out of 5 stars The minor fall and the major lift, 19 Dec 2014
This review is from: Yasmin Levy - Sentir (Audio CD)
The above line from Leonard Cohen's much-recorded song Hallelujah are appropriate for this passionate singer and her emotionally literate album, steeped in not only her native Turkish music, along with her Jewish background, but with a very strong Latin influence too.
Hallelujah is here given a thankfully radical arrangement that I'm quite sure its composer would applaud - a far cry from the somewhat by-numbers versions of Rufus Wainwright, k.d. lang and others. She doesn't stray from the original tune that much, but enough to make this version of such a now iconic song worth hearing yet again.
The rest of this utterly beautiful album is made special by its complementary instrumental arrrangements, its colourful sound world, but most of all the astonishing voice of Yasmin herself. I love singers unafraid of passion (rather than mere caterwauling) and she has it in spades. Listen to the slow, piano-backed La Hija De Juan Simon, and try to remain unmoved. She manages to incorporate the flamboyant intensity of flamenco with a more obviously middle-eastern sensibility, to startling effect.
A great singer and a wonderful set of songs.

This is one of those albums you want to tell the world about.


Purcell: The Fantazias & In Nomines
Purcell: The Fantazias & In Nomines
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £18.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Fretwork wonders, 18 Dec 2014
I've had this lovely disc since it was released in 1995. Recorded the year before in St Bartholomew's Church at Orford in Suffolk, in forward sound - which occasionally gives a not unpleasing harsh feel to some pieces - the grateful listener has the sensation at times of being able to actually see and touch the strings, as it were, so unsentimentally abrasive do they come across, while sacrificing nothing in tonal beauty or emotional heft.
Purcell was a composer (one of the finest Britain has ever produced) with a seemingly endless supply of melodic invention and variety. Much of that is on show here, in these often quite melancholy pieces for viol.
The three men and three women who make up Fretwork play them with enough brio to hold the interest, and enough feeling for these keening works to beguile and move the listener.
The accompanying booklet has notes in three languages, and there's an appropriately contemporaneous painting on the cover.

A bittersweet, autumnal delight.


Chronicles: The Very Best of Free
Chronicles: The Very Best of Free

5.0 out of 5 stars Carry me away..., 17 Dec 2014
For me the four timeless bands of the late sixties/early seventies golden era are The Band, Cream, Little Feat, and - certainly not last or least - the great little band that was, for all too short a time, Free.
Paul 'The Voice' Rodgers, Andy Fraser, Simon Kirke, and the late great and much lamented Paul Kossoff, whose advice was sought by Clapton (something to do with the tremolo Koss affected with so little fuss) made up one of the finest, some would say the finest, bands ever to come out of England.
Chronicles is one of several compilations, and is one of the best, and in superb sound too. I've got the Songs of Yesterday box-set, the single-CD The Free Story, and the less than perfect Molten Gold, and I'm letting the latter go in favour of this even nearer-perfect collection of Free tracks, including a few live ones.
The trouble with Molten Gold (apart from its appalling title) is its inclusion of irrelevant tracks that have only a tangential relation to Free the band. Chronicles makes no such error of judgement.
The music - ah well, the music of Free needs no advocate. It is quite simply some of the most wonderful, urgent, beautifully played and incomparably sung blues-rock music ever made. Singer supreme Paul Rodgers was ridiculously young when these songs were recorded - as were they all - and yet he sounds at times like an old blues master. There is no singer on earth who could or can touch him.
Paul Kossoff's absurdly early death is one of rock's most poignant tragedies. He was a guitarist as tasteful as Peter Green and as resourceful as Clapton, with a sparse style all his own. What a loss.
British rock doesn't get better than this, and here are a generous 35 tracks to prove it. It even includes two songs from their debut LP Tons of Sobs that rarely make the compilations: Moonshine, and their lengthy version of the mightly old blues standard Goin' Down Slow, which is one of the best I've heard.
This is Free in elcelsis, so make the most of it - or buy the original albums!

Essential.


A Sea of Words: Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O'Brian's Seafaring Tales
A Sea of Words: Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O'Brian's Seafaring Tales
by Dean King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Abaft a zephyr, 15 Dec 2014
What a magnificent labour of love this book is. It would be a boon to anyone who is interested in the Napoleonic era, let alone for O'Brian buffs.
Over 500 packed pages, which include many illustrations - one valuable twenty-page section being a series of diagrams of some of the different vessels of the time, from a 36-gun frigate to a 'Lisbon bean-cod' - Dean King and his cohorts treat us to a potted history of the Napoleonic Wars and the period in general, surprisingly clear maps, a useful Timeline, an essay concerning 'Stephen Maturin and Naval Medicine in the Age of Sail' and a Selected Bibliography.
Being an American paperback (at least my copy is), it is very well bound, and a joy to hold and to own.
Some other reviewers have complained about words not included, but I'd rather celebrate what is included, which is a heck of a lot.
In the lexicon itself, which forms the central raison d'etre of the volume, there are not only definitions for terms relating to nautical and medical matters, as well as natural history and much else, but relevant figures of the period such as Nelson, Wellington, Napoleon, and lesser mortals like Cochrane, are given brief biographies, often with accompanying illustrations. One charming feature of the book is its several black and white drawings of wildlife, from an albatross to a platypus. There are also illustrations of, for example, a cannon and the various 'points of sailing'.
Well-printed, with a mouth-watering cover, despite what it has perhaps left out, this is to my mind an almost unqualified success.
So, should you come across the word fustic ('a yellow dye') or gaby ('a simpleton) or rabbet ('a groove or slot...') or Sparmann ('a large hairy shrub...') in your reading of O'Brian's - or indeed anyone else's - novels, you'll find out quickly what they mean with this indispensable book at your side.
I would have liked, I must confess, an entry for the 19th century Italian composer Locatelli - but you'd need to read Master and Commander, the first of the books in O'Brian's unique series, to find out why, and why his music plays a pivotal role, from as early as page one, in the meeting of Aubrey and Maturin, the Laurel and Hardy of Nelson's Navy (albeit without most of the pratfalls). The curious thing is, contemporary Italian composer Corelli is given an entry.
Oddly too, there's no 'avast' or 'splice' - two words I would have thought were essential in such a lexicon. However, I dare say there are some words so common one can look them up in a regular dictionary and remember them.
Still worth five stars/nine out of ten.

Now, pass the grog.


Hatari [DVD] [1963]
Hatari [DVD] [1963]
Dvd ~ John Wayne
Offered by Helen's Goodies
Price: £5.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Doin' the elephant walk, 15 Dec 2014
This review is from: Hatari [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
My main thoughts after watching this late Howard Hawks film from 1961 were: Wasn't that a lot of fun! Wasn't Wayne a superb actor, playing each moment with total truth? And, at 150 minutes it's not one I'll be putting on too often.
Great fun it certainly is.
A group of mostly likable characters run an animal game-hunting reserve in Tanganyika (as was), only they are conserving the wildlife and selling it to western zoos and circuses, not killing it. It sounds a mite 'non-PC' these days, but that isn't what comes over in this gorgeously photographed (by Russell Harlan) and nicely played movie. It's heart is in the right place, the actors act like they're having a ball, and Hawks's direction is as relaxed and unshowy as it ever was.
Elsa Martinelli is a photographer who arrives at the camp, upsetting its routine and winning Wayne's heart - a fairly rare event in any John Wayne film. She's pretty good, and looks like she enjoyed mucking in with the men and animals of the cast, particularly the growing troop of elephants she 'adopts' who follow her everywhere. Henry Mancini composed the excellent music, and his jaunty 'Elephant Walk' became a hit.
Red Buttons is a ball of fizzing energy, and there are times you'll feel like giving him a slap, but he's a good actor too, as are Hardy Kruger and veteran Bruce Cabot who make up the rest of the party. Less adorable is one Gerard Blain, at the time briefly touted as a French James Dean. On this showing, with his less than blazing charisma, I think not.
The camera work during the many action scenes is superb, the scenes themselves genuinely heart-stopping, and seemingly authentic. How Hawks managed to achieve such realism is a mystery. But then, Health & Safety issues weren't as high on the agenda sixty years ago as they are today, for good or ill.
If I have one carp. it's that I've got really sick of the token 'comedy' scenes in the outdoor films of Hawks, Ford et al, in which Wayne is trying to make head of tail of what a woman wants, usually ending up by storming out of the room. It was seldom funny or interesting, and never seemed real or dramatically honest.
Apart from that small niggle, this is a hugely enjoyable film that needs most of its long running time, and another example of the greatness of John Wayne the movie actor, and director supreme Howard Hawks.


The Essence of T-Bone Walker
The Essence of T-Bone Walker
Price: £6.46

5.0 out of 5 stars The eagle flies on Friday...Saturday I go out to play, 12 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
They call it Stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad...it's one of the greatest blues songs of all, sung by all and sundry (I recommend Bobby Bland) and this is the guy who wrote it, and first recorded it in 1947. It's never been bettered, not even by Kings Albert or B.B. The Allmans had a go too.
But it's only one out of 52 tracks on this nearly two-and-a-half-hour treasure trove of a T-Bone blitz, taking in his early and later career, including on CD2 many of his classic Imperial recordings.
T-Bone Walker (1910-75) inspired everyone from B.B. King himself to almost any of the British sixties 'blues boom' musicians who ever picked up a guitar and played da blues. He was, as this superb compilation makes clear as day, a wonderfully jazzy blues singer, with a huskily gentle soulful voice, as well as an innovative, expressive guitarist, offering licks as tasty as anybody before or since, in any genre.
He obviously knew how to pick great sidemen too, as evinced by every track here, some swingin' piano and rockin' sax adding to the colouring on these always musically interesting songs. Like Blind Willie McTell or (last mention!) B.B. King he was as much an entertainer as a straight blues artist. In fact, that's exactly what he was: an artist.
This is one of the most endlessly enjoyable blues sets I own, due mainly to the man's versatility, good humour, and musical intelligence. You wouldn't even need to be a big blues fan to get into this.
The inner booklet has full track listings, minimal but concise notes, and no extra photos, but this is nonetheless a perfect introduction to one of the greatest blues singer-guitarists of them all.

Hugely recommended.


A Natural Woman/Is That All There Is?
A Natural Woman/Is That All There Is?
Price: £12.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't explain, 9 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Peggy Lee was always her own woman, as well being one of the most compelling popular singers of the twentieth century, with a smoky voice and a sassy way with a lyric that was all her own.
These two Capitol LPs from 1969 on one 76-minute disc contain twenty-five tracks in a style that mixes a thoroughly modern sensibility - on songs like Tyrone Davis's very fine soul hit Baby Can I Change My Mind, the Blood Sweat & Tears number Spinning Wheel, Randy Newman's Love Story and his now much-covered I Think It's Gonna Rain Today, Something and Somethin' Stupid - and the occasional standard such as Me and My Shadow, Don't Smoke in Bed, and Billie Holiday's Don't Explain.
Even Otis Redding's Dock of the Bay sounds authentic, such is Lee's sheer class and commitment to her material.
The title track of the first of the two LPs suits her down to the ground, since a Natural Woman is exactly what Peggy was, while the astonishing Is That All There Is must by now count as a classic.
Peggy Lee had a disarming way with a song, sounding both vulnerable and intensely 'feminine', as well as nobody's fool, that foggy-day voice seductive and sometimes world-weary, softly saucy, both girlish and fiercely a woman. She even sings Leiber & Stoller's terrific song I'm a Woman, to superb effect.
An unusual Peggy Lee collection, but as essential as almost anything this great lady recorded.

Highly recommended.


Pure Raw Blues [Double CD]
Pure Raw Blues [Double CD]
Price: £4.65

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blues double, 9 Dec 2014
There's no more exciting blues singer-guitarist than Buddy Guy, and I have albums by him to prove it. He was for a while the musical partner of harmonica player supreme Junior Wells, an effective if not especially memorable singer in his own right.
This is a forty-track compilation of alternating numbers by Buddy (with or without his buddy) and Junior, the latter occasionally joined by Earl Hooker or, on one cut, Muddy Waters. Another song has Buddy and his brother Phil collaborating.
Some of the tracks given over to Wells are less than compelling, so that it's quite a relief when Buddy starts to sing again, and play that mean guitar of his. He had - and still has, being still with us at 78 - a tremendous voice, a little like a more frenetic B.B. King, from whom he must have learnt a trick or two.
A few instrumentals pepper proceedings, and they make for pleasant interludes, no more.
All in all, this is a bargain, and will please fans of either artist, though you do get the feeling that it's all a bit of a mish-mash of tracks and styles - but that in itself will appeal to some.
It's one that's grown on me, and there's so much good-humoured, big-hearted blues on this compilation that carping is pointless. Not what I'd call essential, and I tend to prefer Buddy Guy on his own, but it's worth having.
The title Pure Raw Blues is a mite misleading. Pure: possibly. Raw: sometimes.
Good fun though...


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