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Bob Murray

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Now He Sings, Now He Sobs
Now He Sings, Now He Sobs
Price: £5.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Chick Corea - Now He Sings, Now He Sobs., 24 Nov. 2015
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A marvellous record from a trio who sound completely integrated despite their very different backgrounds. Corea shows himself as a masterful pianist with a crisp sound, technique to spare, and completely at home in music that still had roots in the hard bop of the late fifties and early sixties but voyaged quite a distance into the area of free jazz. The music is purely acoustic, with no hint of fusion. Other fine pianists such as Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett were exploring similar areas, although not going as far as Chick, but here he shows himself as pretty much the best of a rather good bunch. Miroslav Vitous on string bass provides a strong pulse to the music but also acts as a melodic partner to Chick. His technique and speed are such it sounds almost as if there are two basses. In some ways, however, the most astonishing player is Roy Haynes, a veteran accompanying some of the bop greats twenty or more years before this recording, but here adapting totally to a freer style. He takes a full part in the group sound of the trio but also driving the band along. He listens most carefully, reacts instantly, and plays with force and delicacy as necessary. It is truly an object lesson in how to ply the drums.
There is great variety in the music, some of which is abstract, some of which more traditionally based. Much of the latter shows Chick's interest in the French impressionists, such as Debussy, and also in Brazilian music. As a result, in addition to the more challenging pieces there is also much attractive melody. The longest number, 'Steps-What Was', is among the most challenging and aggressive, played with a precise touch, but also including passages of beauty. Other tunes are simple melodic pieces of great attraction.
In a way, one of the most successful numbers is a brief version of 'Pannonica', the old Monk tune. Chick plays this in a style which owes nothing to Monk but still captures the essence of the tune and brings out the beauty of the piece. It is quite remarkable.
Over the years Chick has produced some very fine music, together with, it has to be said, a certain amount of electronic dross. This, apparently, is his favourite album, and to these ears it may well be his best.


Satu
Satu
Price: £14.57

5.0 out of 5 stars Edward Vesala - Satu, 17 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: Satu (Audio CD)
For the first few times of hearing Vesala is not an easy musician to get to know. I first listened to him some years ago and found I could not make head or tail of what he was playing. I wrote him off as one of my mistakes but came back to him a little later and this time persevered. I gradually came to realise he was a highly original musician and one of considerable importance. This disc, recorded quite early in his career in 1977, is a very good example of his work and more immediately attractive than some of his discs.
On the first four tracks there is a ten piece band similar in structure to that on his other discs, and consisting of two trumpets, trombone, four assorted reeds and flutes, and guitar, bass and drums. The band doesn't really play in sections but in blocks of sound but these are constantly changing in sound as individual instruments, or groups, join the block or drop out. Rhythmically the music tends to be slowish but a lot is happening, as the blocks change repeatedly in structure and emphasis and other instruments interact with them. Melodically the music is very strong. A good example of the technique and of its success is the lengthy 'Satu', where the two trumpets enter and leave the ensemble from time to time as does Terje Rypdal on electric guitar and the other instruments leaving the two flutes to bulk out the melodic line as other instruments join and leave.
The soloists are effective although always as part of the ensemble. On 'Satu' the only featured soloist is Palle Danielsson on bass, emerging from and reentering the ensemble throughout. 'Ballade For San' has a muscular solo from Tomasz Szukalski on tenor and a delicate trumpet interlude from Palle Mikkelborg, Tomasz Stanko has a couple of good solos, and Rypdal and Szukalski are further featured elsewhere. Vesala does not solo but is a vigorous drummer and seems to control the music throughout.
The final number, 'Together', is for trumpet, Juhani Aaltonen on alto flute, and bass and drums, with a string section which sounds to consist of two or three players only and who form part of the ensemble only. It works on the same principles as the other tunes but produces a lighter sound. It is wholly successful.
Vesala is somewhat different and this is an ideal opportunity to introduce yourself to his music. And you should.


Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers / Elmo Hope Quintet
Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers / Elmo Hope Quintet
Offered by TOMMY's STORE
Price: £22.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers/ The Elmo Hope Quintet, 14 Nov. 2015
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Good things come in small packages, and this, unfortunately, is a very small package, only 32 minutes in total. It consists of two sessions recorded by the west coast label, Pacific Jazz, both with an east coast connection. The first is by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the 1957 version, with Bill Hardman, Jackie McLean, Sam Dockery and Spanky DeBrest, and the second by Elmo Hope on piano with Harold Land, Leroy Vinnegar, Frank Butler and, slightly surprisingly, Stu Williamson on trumpet.
Blakey drives his band along assisted by a superb bassist. Hardman, on trumpet, is on top form, just managing to stay on top of the rhythm. He is not normally a forceful player and has a fairly soft tone, but his lively sit up and beg playing, which for some weird reason always reminds me of Freddie Jenkins, works very well. McLean, at this stage in his career, could sometimes be an unattractive player, but here his driving relentless style fits very well into the band sound. Dockery, only briefly the band's pianist, is pleasant, but out of his depth.
Elmo Hope's band have three numbers. He was in the middle of an unhappy stay on the west coast before returning to New York but produced some good music in his period in California. This is one example. He was one of the earlier bop pianists, along with Bud Powell, but by this time he had slowed down quite a lot and by this time his music had become more ruminative. He plays extremely well here and is in good company with his frequent associate Harold Land who plays with his usual dry authority and never made a bad record in his life. Bass and drums both play well and help make a satisfying group sound. They don't drive in the way that Blakey's rhythm sections did but then nobody ever did. Stu Williamson, best known for his work with the cooler musicians on the coast, fits in very well with the tougher sounds around him. The band is a pleasing example of the way the west coast sound toughened up as more black players became involved but still retained much of its melody.
Good as this is, Blakey has made more significant records in his career and people interested in the combination of Harold Land and Elmo Hope should look at 'The Fox' before this.


MCCOY TYNER/_4 X 4
MCCOY TYNER/_4 X 4
Price: £15.82

4.0 out of 5 stars McCoy Tyner Quartets 4x4, 7 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: MCCOY TYNER/_4 X 4 (Audio CD)
A varied selection of music by McCoy Tyner from 1980, a midpoint in his career. It doesn't measure up to the early Blue Notes, or to the even earlier trios but it is a nicely varied selection, albeit a little glossy in parts. The scheme of the disc is that Tyner, together with Cecil McBee on bass and Al Foster on drums make up quartets with various guest artists, namely Freddie Hubbard, John Abercrombie, Bobby Hutcherson and Arthur Blythe, so it is a bit of an artificial concept. Both McBee and Foster play superbly well, Foster eschewing his funk tendencies and playing straight ahead rhythm. Tyner completes a fine rhythm section, playing dazzling runs of notes on the fast numbers.
Freddie Hubbard takes the first three numbers, two of which are fast bravura displays by both trumpet and piano. The third,'Manha De Carnaval', is taken on flugelhorn, is quieter, pleasant, but a little nondescript. Although Freddie plays well his solos are not of the standard of his early Blue Notes either.
There are then two long tracks with John Abercrombie, playing electric mandolin and not guitar. These are slower, and show attractive interplay between piano and mandolin. However, Abercrombie does not play his instrument as a mandolin but produces a sound of a high pitched guitar with little tonal variation or depth. The next three tracks, featuring Bobby Hutcherson, are probably the best on the disc. The two were long time associates, sound very comfortable together, and produce attractive melodic music with no trace at all of Hutcherson's previous progressive inclinations. You could say the music is slightly glossy, and the vibes player is probably the third player on the disc whose efforts here do not measure up to his earlier Blue Notes. However, it is pleasant.
Lastly comes Arthur Blythe, always a bit of a mystery to me. He has a long history with the avant garde but tends to play a lot of the time in a simple, quite melodic style, as he does here. He has a pleasingly full tone, and reminds me a little here of Lou Donaldson, but without his blues feeling. Here, the music is pleasant but not particularly demanding.
So, the music here is varied and quite attractive but three of the main soloists have produced much better work elsewhere.


Comin' Your Way
Comin' Your Way
Price: £21.07

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5.0 out of 5 stars Stanley Turrentine - Comin' Your Way, 6 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: Comin' Your Way (Audio CD)
Yet another five star effort from the great tenor man, this time with his first team rhythm section, the Horace Parlan trio, and with the added bonus of big brother Tommy on trumpet. This was recorded in 1961 but not issued until 1978. That is no comment on its quality. Blue Note, the label concerned, was run by fans and recorded many more sessions than it could issue, partly to help support the musicians and partly out of simple enthusiasm.
The music is of the highest quality despite languishing in the vaults for all those years. The band had worked and recorded together for some time and were all familiar with each other's playing. Stanley is full toned, bluesy and swinging as he always was. He produces two beautiful ballad performances on 'Then I'll Be Tired Of You' and 'Someone To Watch Over Me' and a tender. but also lusty, solo on 'My Girl Is Just Enough Woman For Me'. On 'Fine L'll Lass' he goes lowdown, but still good natured, 'Thomasville' finds him displaying his R & B roots, and on 'Stolen Sweets' he produces a dazzling solo, described accurately in the sleeve note as an 'unending string of ideas'.
Parlan solos well throughout in his blues based style and along with George Tucker on bass and Al Harewood on drums forms an eminently suitable rhythm section, swinging and supportive but never intrusive. Tommy Turrentine, less well known than the others, plays well, like a slowed down version of Fats Navarro. He doesn't have Fats' technique but produces attractive lines, sometimes slightly gaunt but always warm. He is a fine foil to his more effusive younger brother.
The tunes are varied and attractive with a number of lesser known standards suitable for the warm and bluesy treatment they receive.
This really shows you just what jazz is all about!


Look Out! (RVG Edition)
Look Out! (RVG Edition)
Price: £8.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Stanley Turrentine - Look Out, 29 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Look Out! (RVG Edition) (Audio CD)
A whole batch of reviews ranging from enthusiastic to ecstatic, and I agree with virtually every word of them. Turrentine was an absolute master of his horn, with a blues feeling inherent, and absolutely natural, in everything he played. A most beautiful ballad player and a man capable of playing at length without ever flagging or becoming boring, he had a rich, full tone and a natural swing. In short, pretty much the complete article. He was a little under rated as otherwise he might have been considered one of the real greats. He was unquestionably a modern musician but had nothing of the avant garde about him and that may have caused him to be a little overlooked, or more precisely, not given the status he should have had.
This was his first recording as leader for Blue Note and the start of a string of discs for the company, all of the highest quality. On it he is accompanied by Horace Parlan's trio, about as ideal an accompaniment as you can get.
There is a nice variety of tunes. The title tune is a straight ahead blues based swinger producing fine solos from tenor and piano, 'Journey Into Melody', not at first sight a ballad suitable for jazz, produces a moving delicate solo from Stanley, and 'Return Engagement' is a fast swinger with Stanley in no way uncomfortable with the tempo. 'Little Sheri', here in two versions, is an attractive mixture of funk and tenderness, and 'Tiny Capers', the old Clifford Brown number, is a joyous swinger. And so it goes on, with not a weak track anywhere.
The accompaniment is ideal. Parlan, a really under rated pianist, swings constantly, is a masterful player of the blues, and has a quirky and attractive melodic sense. George Tucker on bass is not a fast player, but a straight ahead, powerful and swinging bassist, and Al Harewood an ideal drummer for this group, punctuating enough to be interesting but never too much so as to interfere with the relaxed swing he brings to the band.
Yes, really not a weakness anywhere!


The Dirty Bopper
The Dirty Bopper
Price: £12.47

3.0 out of 5 stars Bruce Turner - The Dirty Bopper, 27 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: The Dirty Bopper (Audio CD)
I really don't know what to make of this. For virtually all of my life as a jazz fan, now in excess of fifty years, I have been a great admirer of Bruce, who was one of the great originals, both musically and in most other aspects of his life. I suppose the highlight of his career was the Jump Band in the late fifties and early sixties, in which Bruce , with his Pete Brown style alto pushing the beat along all the time, had a suitable vehicle for his talents. I still enjoy getting out and listening to the original 12 inch version of his 'Jumpin' At The NFT'.
But, I suppose one of the drawbacks of being an original is that sometimes it wasn't a very good idea to do something you did do, and that may be the case here. Bruce always had an interest in such as Lee Konitz, and indeed, studied with him. On this disc the first ten tracks show Bruce playing in a Konitz style (sort of) with a trio backing of Dave Cliff on guitar, Dave Green on bass and Eddie Taylor on drums. Cliff is entirely at home in the style and plays very well, Billy Bauer to a T. Bass and drums are not together and both sound a bit over recorded. They don't provide the smooth rhythmic backing the style demands nor do they provide any real impetus, the music proceeding in a somewhat hopalong sort of way. That has its effect on Bruce, who is on hesitant form, playing without any real freedom. He still plays with a fairly full tone, which in itself is a problem because the style requires a lighter sound, but he also loses the freedom of gesture and movement which made him so fine a player in his normal style. Of course, Bruce being Bruce, there is plenty of interest in even his less successful playing but you don't normally have to concentrate to such an extent to find the good bits.
The final three tracks are from a live recording by Humphrey Lyttelton's band including Bruce. 'Caribana Queen' is a West Indian flavoured piece featuring all three clarinets (Humph, Bruce and Johnny Barnes) which is a delightful trifle, 'High Society' a vigorous but hardly original outing for the old warhorse, and 'Three Little Words' somewhat spoilt by a recording quirk which makes Bruce solo with a very hollow tone.
It grieves me to write in these terms about a man I admire both as a musician and as a person, but any fan contemplating buying this should listen to it first.


Rainbow Gladiator
Rainbow Gladiator
Price: £11.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Billy Bang Quintet - Rainbow Gladiator, 22 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Rainbow Gladiator (Audio CD)
This seems, according to the sleeve, to have been a working band which was together for some time before this recording. It certainly is a well organised, musically cooperative unit. Although some of the musicians come from uncompromising avant garde backgrounds it is not really a free record, and is far more an example of hard bop leavened with much of the freer style of music introduced over the previous twenty years. Although it has been described as a good introduction to the avant garde, it is rather more than that. By the time this was recorded (1981) the two musics that went to create this had gone together to form a music completely comfortable with itself.
Anyway, enough of the theory. What we have here is a five piece band with Bang on violin, Charles Tyler playing some strong and full toned alto and baritone sax, Michele Rosewoman on piano and a rhythm section of Wilber Morris and Dennis Charles. All play extremely well throughout. Bang, although claiming to be influenced by Ornette's violin and having a bit of a reputation as a bit of a wild man, is technically very capable, as his work with the String Trio Of New York showed. He combines the aggression of the free violinists with the melodic music of earlier players to produce some fiery exciting solos. Tyler, previously involved in the wilder reaches of the avant garde, produces flowing, full toned solos on both his horns. Rosewoman, a name unknown to me, almost takes the honours as prime soloist, with some verbose piano, aggressive and dissonant when needed and delicate when not. The bass and drums push, prod and support where necessary and complete a fine quintet without any weak links.
There is some collective playing but the music is more based on a succession of soloists than is usual in the avant garde.
All tunes are originals, the standout being the title number, some 15 minutes in length, but all are suitable vehicles for the band.
None of the band are particularly well known, apart possibly from the leader, but they have produced a very satisfying record.


West Coast Brew - Quartet/Quintet Sessions 1955-1958
West Coast Brew - Quartet/Quintet Sessions 1955-1958
Price: £13.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Brew Moore - Quartet & Quintet Sessions 1955-1958, 20 Oct. 2015
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Brew Moore was a great tenor player who almost wilfully failed to build a career. He spent the bulk of his musical life wandering in America and Europe working as a single with local rhythm sections. He recorded only occasionally, not normally in organised circumstances. He apparently knew Jack Kerouac and his life may well have been one of the models for Kerouac's study of the beat life, 'On The Road'. At various times he had a serious drink problem. For all that, he produced music of a consistently high standard. He sounded very much like Lester Young although he took on board the innovations of Charlie Parker, and his style never really changed throughout the vagaries of his life. He famously said that anyone who didn't play like Lester was wrong, but possibly the best comment about his music came from the West Coast critic, Ralph Gleason. who said 'Brew has two absolutely golden gifts. He swings like mad and he has soul, he also has a priceless gift for phrasing. When Brew says it, he says it simply, but it rings true'.
This disc shows Brew on the West Coast during 1956 to 1958. Tracks 1-5 are with local musicians John Marabuto, Max Hartstein and Gus Gustafson as rhythm, with Eddie Duran on guitar added on one track. The band are more than competent support and Brew delivers an inspired ballad performance on 'Fools Rush In', with hard swinging versions of the other four tracks. On tracks 6-9 Dick Mills is added on trumpet, mobile but slightly thin toned, and Brew delivers a moving version of 'I Want A Little Girl' together with three lively swingers on the other tracks. Tracks 10-14 have Mills replaced with Harold Wylie, another Lestorian tenor, and bass and drums being John Mosher and John Markham. Marabuto remains. Wylie is extremely capable with a slightly tougher sound than Moore and the rhythm swing strongly. There is an attractive ballad version of 'Nancy With The Laughing Face', with the other four tracks including lots of swinging competitive tenor.
The final track is a live version of a blues by Brew with Cal Tjader's quartet of the time with good solos by Brew, Cal and Vince Guaraldi.
So, a lot of unknowns, but all good, and coupled with a much sublime tenor from an ignored master. Recording quality is very good despite the casual nature of the dates.


In Cerca Di Cibo
In Cerca Di Cibo
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £11.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Gianluigi Trovesi and Gianni Coscia - In Cerca Di Cibo, 10 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: In Cerca Di Cibo (Audio CD)
Absolutely superb! On this showing Trovesi must be one of the most original and creative jazz musicians anywhere in the world. The music is played by Trovesi on various clarinets and Gianni Coscia on accordion. There are fifteen pieces in the programme, many composed by Trovesi himself, others by other Italian composers, with two exceptions, John Lewis' 'Django' and 'El Choclo', a piece of, I think, Mexican origin, recorded originally by Kenton's very first band but not heard much since. Despite the separate tunes I wonder if Trovesi conceived this as a single work, commencing with some short and subdued numbers, changing to an aggressive tone in the following numbers and then reconciling the two moods later, before recapitulating the opening title number to bring it all to fruition.
Trovesi is a masterful clarinetist with a full smooth tone on the quieter numbers which open the disc. The music is melodic, indeed beautiful on a slow piece like 'Geppetto'. The music is restrained, with the clarinet and accordion working closely together. By the fifth number,'Minor Dance', it becomes more aggressive, the tempo rises and Trovesi begins to play with a growl as he rises up the register. By the time John Lewis' masterpiece is reached the duo play with stately gravitas but also, in the clarinet solo, with anguish. Thereafter moods vary until we reach 'El Choclo', which I remember as an entertaining piece of trivia, but here becomes a vehicle for clarinet so aggressive it nearly, but not quite, falls over into incoherence. Matters are then resolved as calm and beauty return in the final version of the title tune.
Trovesi, both here and elsewhere in his music, shows himself as a player of great originality with complete control of his instrument. Coscia, although not as prominent, shows considerable technique and rhythmic force and plays a full part in the ensemble and in his solos.


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