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N. Jones "Nic The Pen" (Oxford, Great Britain)
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Nothing Ever Was, Anyway - Music of Annette Peacock
Nothing Ever Was, Anyway - Music of Annette Peacock
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £16.18

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Piano, bass, drums......and then some, 21 Jan. 2013
On the face of it pianist Marilyn Crispell, arguably one of the most skilful and trenchant interpreters of Anthony Braxton's knotty musical abstractions, is not the first name that springs to mind when it comes to interpreting Annette Peacock's radically different music, but listening to this set might well make the listener do some quadruple takes, for the air of mystery that's often an integral part of Peacock the composer is coaxed out here as the music takes its time in weaving its subtle magic.

Gary Peacock and drummer Motian are as apt as any bass player or drummer for this programme, although I must confess I don't know if Peacock A. and Peacock G. were / are married. The same goes for whether or not she was ever married to Paul Bley, but the comparing and contrasting of the title track of this set with Bley's reading of it on his seminal OPEN, TO LOVE solo piano set is enlightening. On this set the stealth the music moves with is extraordinary testament to how this trio intuitively knows each other. Crispell's keyboard touch, captured with the sometimes antiseptic fidelity the ECM label goes in for, is enhanced by it. It's as if she has rare insight into the composer's intentions on a woman-to-woman basis, and although it might be risky proposing that the music thus has `feminine' qualities, maybe there isn't really a more apt way of expressing it.

When A. Peacock sings on "Dreams (if time weren't) she reminds us at once of what a gloriously iconoclastic figure she is. The song is in effect the `art song' taken to a level not yet dreamed up by any academy, although when she speaks part of the lyric the echoes of Schoenberg's PIERROT LUNAIRE are present but very, very, VERY distant.

"Both" on the second disc is a reminder that this is a group beyond what might be called the urbaneness and regimented harmonic sophistication that are marks of so many contemporary piano trios. This is not simply because Peacock's pieces simply defy such interpretation; what also plays a part is the impression that these musicians have spent enough time with this music to absorb its implications as well as its surface. It's thus music that anyone....and I mean anyone....who would claim to have an interest in what music can be -as opposed to what it already is- should get both ears engaged by it at once, if not sooner.


Boss Tenors + Dig Him!
Boss Tenors + Dig Him!
Price: £14.46

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cookin' (over multi-coloured flames), 21 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Boss Tenors + Dig Him! (Audio CD)
The front line of two tenor saxophones has been a staple of post-swing jazz for almost as long as the form's been around, and this pair of heavy punchers has contributed much to the form.

Ammons and Stitt first co-led a quintet in the early 1950s, so by the time the sessions collected here rolled around in Chicago in August of 1961 they knew each other inside out musically speaking, though not to the point where they could peddle nothing but sterile routines. They come out with all guns blazing on the opening "Blues Up and Down" which while it amounts to the kind of workout they could probably go through night after night also has enough heated spontaneity to put a smile on a corpse's face.

Their reading of "Autumn Leaves" has something of Cannonball Adderley's reading of the song in Miles Davis's company about it, but Ammons and Stitt both possessed musical personalities distinctive enough to make their own mark. The resulting music is again of an order sufficient to make everything all right with the world, and the contribution of pianist John Houston (possibly something of a windy city hero along the lines of Jodie Christian?) helps the mood along.

DIG HIM! makes up ten of the fifteen tracks on this set, and the set is more concise because they're shorter. Thus, the rendition of "We'll Be Together Again" is despite the brevity something of a master class in how to play a ballad with a measure of that mercurial quality known as soul on the part of both men. It's but an indication of how well the two men embodied compatible contrast, and in that regard is an indication of how far straightforward, uncomplicated, swinging small group jazz could reach. The lack of pretension is highlighted by the abundance of other satisfying qualities.


Complete Legendary Jam Sessions Master Takes (3CD)
Complete Legendary Jam Sessions Master Takes (3CD)
Price: £18.64

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No pretence, 9 Jan. 2013
Trumpet player Buck Clayton had a style that came out of Louis Armstrong via Kansas, which meant he was a player who combined grace and fire in equal measure in the medium of swing. The music gathered on this three disc set happened on the initiative of John Hammond, who was looking to capture the `jam session' in an environment not governed by a raucous audience and empty exhibitionism. He got ample reward for his trouble.

Clayton brought bunches of his buddies together to blow, and while that was all there was to it this is only a summary of what resulted, which was music elevated to timeless status because everyone went about their business with nothing but pleasure, hence perhaps why a warhorse like "Christopher Columbus", played for the umpteenth time by the men involved no doubt, stretches to 29 minutes without a measure of insouciance being lost.

Lester Young put his inimitable stamp on "Jumpin' at the Woodside" with Count Basie approximately 16 years before this version was cut in August of 1954. Here Coleman Hawkins, the north pole to Young's south in terms of playing the tenor sax, if you like, gets to do his thing on it over a rhythm section propelled by the force of nature that was drummer Jo Jones, just like Young did.

Everyone present got the chance to shine because the format was so equitable, and it's true to say that no-one flunked it, even if Billy Kyle's playing of the intro to "Blue and Sentimental" on the celeste is a little twee. Hawkins gives it gravity anyway, reaching back into his swing roots in a way that wasn't always obvious on record.

The fact remains that this form of jazz was still fresh then, and to the extent that even the routines are predictably compelling. It's all stress-busting stuff no matter what, and proves the dictum that simple isn't easy. Compare this music with a far amount of that swing revivalism that's still guaranteed an audience -albeit a dwindling one- and you'll see what I mean.


Marquee Moon
Marquee Moon
Price: £6.38

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars, but not enough, 7 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Marquee Moon (Audio CD)
It was a good year, 1977, when the two sevens clashed, in some lasting respects. The British people were buying laxatives in record quantities in those dog days of Uncle Jim Callaghan's government, and up and down the country sparse numbers of spotty youths were clutching this, the first Television album to their breasts / chests, which only goes to show. Hell, even Nick Kent managed to spend enough time away from playing the celebrity rock hack to give it a glowing review, and he was right.

"I understand all / destructive urges / they seem so perfect" goes the lyric on the opening track 'See No Evil' which even after all these years sounds like a manifesto commitment far more likely to be stuck to than anything politicians might devise. They certainly couldn't have come up with anything like that song's intro, which like the one for the Sex Pistols' `God Save the Queen' still sounds like a call to immediate, urgent action.

The intro to the title track is something else, something more mysterious. `Rock music' has rarely struck a balance so fine between the stripped down and the expansive. "I recall lightning struck itself / I was listening, listening to the rain / I was hearing, hearing something else" Tom Verlaine part whines / part sneers and even after all these years it still sounds downright enigmatic, while his guitar and Richard Lloyd's merge and fly apart like things monkeying around with polarity. Clichés have rarely been kicked over with such aplomb either, and for proof of this you need hear no further than this lengthy song.

So the lie's given to being old enough to know better, because this stuff still fires this 51-year old up. For all of their foundation in the rock staple that is two guitars, bass and drums Television stretched the template so far that clueless white dopes on punk like The Strokes still manage to make a living out of it. Forget their photocopy, friends, go with this and wallow in the blueprint, WALLOW I tells ya.......


Mama Never Taught Me How To Cook - The Aura Years 1978-1982
Mama Never Taught Me How To Cook - The Aura Years 1978-1982

5.0 out of 5 stars Being the one where Annette `does' jazz-funk., 7 Jan. 2013
So there are those who'd claim to know their own mind, and then there's Annette Peacock, the woman who appeared on `The Old Grey Whistle Test' doing something from this set in about 1979 while wearing a `onesie' which might well mean she was at least three decades ahead of -or indeed outside of- her time, and backed -I think- by some of the Brit stalwarts like Mick Ronson, Chris Spedding, Jeff Clyne and Bill Bruford who take care of business here.

Unlike on her seminal -in this house anyway- I'M THE ONE album Peacock limits herself to singing on this set, or rather crooning, speech-singing (what the Germans call `sprechtstimme' I believe) wailing, rapping, and just plain talking. Whatever she does is downright compelling, as on "Real & Defined Androgens" (the last word not one to be found in the Little Oxford English Dictionary) especially as George Khan turns up, a man with a tenor sax tone just as capable of stripping paint as Gary Windo's.

The opening "My Mama Never Taught Me How to Cook" has Peacock taking downright liberties with melody and the resulting tension between her and the band is delicious and as singular as anything out there. Her lyrical concern both on this one and elsewhere is about as far away from the clichéd business of the heart -and moons in June, to be sure- as it could be, but still the results don't amount to overkill.

So let's briefly summarise what we ought to know, shall we? As the booklet note for this one points out Peacock was the first person `to rap over a rock backing, the first to sing through a synthesizer, the first to electronically treat her voice during the recording process' I could go on, but she doesn't need the hype. What she might need is for you to get hold of everything you can by her and for you to pursue this aim with zeal. Try to cop an earful of what she does with Presley and Blackwell's "Don't Be Cruel" on this set and you might well find all the justification you need.
So do it all, now, but give it some thought because there are chancers on Amazon who are trying to flog this for almost £70.


I'm The One
I'm The One

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You the one, Annette: composer (music and words), arranger, producer, singer, electric vocals, pianos (acoustic and electric), s, 7 Jan. 2013
This review is from: I'm The One (Audio CD)
There are those who study the rule book so they're better equipped to forget everything in there, and then there are those like Annette Peacock who don't even bother to read it, and self-teach. This makes them one-offs, women and men who know how to express themselves through music even while they haven't a clue how to adjust to any market imperative. What they produce might even be called Art (with the capital) but there's no point in discussing that here.

This album first saw the light of day in 1972, but it's about as much of a product of its time as anything by Nico, and of course for entirely different reasons. This may account for why the title track finds Peacock crooning and cajoling in the way only she knows, while synthesizers bleat and fart over a bed of funk.

`7 days' is the tender ballad as written by a woman who's gone through the bumper book of clichés and decided that not even the dregs of any of them are for her, not vocally, certainly not instrumentally, and as for structure....well....let's just say she could probably build herself a geodesic dome as a temporary shelter if she had to, complete with countless tiny, tiny solar panels.

If it wasn't for those synthesizers and the noises Peacock coaxes out of them (oh, and that downright idiosyncratic vocal style) `Pony' would be merely down and dirty, but as it is it's the sound of musicians accommodating her vision, which for the purpose of possibly misleading simplification is that of Kate Bush if she'd been born in New Jersey and put in some time as a New York cab driver.

So I've run out of superlatives without resorting to too many, which is some kind of feat, while this album is a total one-off, even by comparison with other Annette Peacock albums. So buy it, listen, and wonder (open-mouthed) not least over how so few so-called creative types manage to come up with stuff like this.

Annette, will you marry me?


LIVE IN TOKYO
LIVE IN TOKYO

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before the bland, 28 Dec. 2012
This review is from: LIVE IN TOKYO (Audio CD)
There are many who'd argue that with this band the passing of time brought only diminishing returns, and this reviewer is one of them. This means that this set, recorded in January of 1972, ought to represent some kind of peak and in many ways it does. The music's shot through with the sense of tension and release that was far from being true of their later music. It's particularly true of the lengthy "Orange Lady" where Wayne Shorter on soprano sax, a man who arguably still embodies the evolution of artistic sensibility, sounds as though he's still negotiating the turbulent waters of the Miles Davis quintet.

The medley of three pieces by Shorter and one by Zawinul which occupied side 4 of what was once a double LP essentially amounts to the least loose -as opposed to tight- music in this set. Just as there are those who'd argue as above, there are those who'd counter-argue in favour of the greater organisation of the band's later music. For this listener little of that is equal to the elasticity of time as per this medley and the greater sense of things happening in the moment. Ultimately it might come down to how much spontaneity you're looking for. If you want a lot of it then this is probably the set to go with, especially as it captures the music while it was still raw.

It's a pertinent reference as both Shorter and keyboard player Joe Zawinul had been in Davis's increasingly electric band prior to forming Weather Report. But whereas with a lot of Davis's early electric music the foundations were sometimes negligible, here there's a more pre-determined sense of collective responsibility at work, as per the piece already mentioned. The sense of tension and release which is also a mark of this set wasn't destined to remain in the band's music, and in a way this turn of events is reflective of how fusion in general evolved. This moment in time is thus heavy.


The Chase Is On + Taylor's Tenors
The Chase Is On + Taylor's Tenors
Price: £14.46

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When champions walked this earth, 28 Dec. 2012
Everyone from Wardell Gray and Dexter Gordon to Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt went in for the two tenor saxophones thing. The results, while battles and the like were talked of, frequently consisted of honest, unpretentious music-making the like of which was enhanced in no small part by the musical personalities of the players involved.

Quinchette and Rouse might not be two of the names that readily spring to mind concerning this staple, but such is the contrast in their styles that they remind us of how this swing through to hard bop branch of jazz is nothing if it lacks identity. Approximately speaking Quinichette hews to the model of Lester Young, though I'd argue not to the extent that he deserved every critical comparison made, while Rouse does the same with Coleman Hawkins. Both men are of their own mind, though, as they show on "This Can't Be Love" where Quinichette does indeed show how he was a Count Basie sideman at heart, while Rouse goes in for those things that made him Thelonious Monk's tenor sax player of choice for a long while. It's an unassuming delight when the two men exchange fours at the end of the performance.

"The Tender Trap" has never been played enough to qualify as a jazz staple, although listeners might wonder why considering how this pair goes about it. The result is stress-buster music of a high order. Rouse keeps the company of Frank Foster in order to provide more of the same on the other album in this two-on-one deal, which is under the name of drummer Art Taylor. It's a set that's also pretty much state of the art for 1959, although its merits are equally timeless. The contrast between Rouse and Foster isn't quite as pronounced as that between Rouse and Quinichette, but no matter. Anyone who argues that we've all but lost such straightforwardly heartfelt music isn't making the weakest case, which only goes to show how important it is to snap this pairing up while it's around.


Sky & Country
Sky & Country
Price: £13.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sly Fly, 28 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Sky & Country (Audio CD)
Mark Turner plays the tenor sax like a man who's set himself up as the standard bearer for everyone who hasn't fallen under Michael Brecker's pervasive influence. Some critics have made reference to Warne Marsh in discussing his work, but this merely serves to indicate how far he is from the current orthodoxy. Turner is, to make use of a staple, his own man, and he proves it throughout this set.

In this trio he's joined by bass player Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard for a set that perhaps unsurprisingly is no little distance from the work of Sonny Rollins in a similarly sparse setting. By comparison Fly's music is less emphatic and more integrated, in the sense that it's more a matter of three equal voices and doesn't so easily fall into the soloist with accompaniment bag.

"Elena Berenjena" even has a backbeat for part of its journey, although the tension which could have resulted between it and Turner's veiled, oblique approach doesn't arise. The tenor sax-bass unisons in the midst of Ballard's playing around the meter affords an insight into how integrated the band's music is, and there's a nice contrast between it and Turner's solo, which is that of a man as preoccupied with colour as he is with running through the usual gamut of virtuosic flourishes.

"CJ" opens with Grenadier coaxing some telling effects out of his bass, but in a sense the distinction between intro and what follows is a little jarring despite the fact that Turner and Ballard take their time. The trio eventually settles into mapping out territory carefully but not tentatively, for theirs is music that thrives by inference more than it does by empty rhetoric. Because of this its rewards are uncommonly high.


Complete Songbook Sessions (2CD)
Complete Songbook Sessions (2CD)
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £13.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never knowingly over-exposed, 28 Dec. 2012
Charles Mingus made use of Booker Ervin's tenor saxophone skills, and it's not difficult to see why. Ervin managed to get a tone out of the thing that was passionate -and indeed hot- enough to fit hand in glove with the Mingus brand of intensity. Indeed it might be said that Ervin thrived in the hothouse environment of the Mingus band because amongst other things he learned how to take it out, harmonically speaking.

Because of this pianist Jaki Byard, who plays on virtually all of this two-disc set was Ervin's ideal musical foil. Both men, as on the opening "A Lunar Tune" knew how the music was evolving and were more than capable of going with developments. That said the downright odd "Cry Me Not" is a thing so singular that it stands outside of any rudimentary continuum, and maybe stands comparison only with something by Eric Dolphy as his most idiosyncratic.

"The Lamp is Low" is evidence of how Ervin offered a veiled comparison to Coltrane, such is the urgency of his expression. His solo starts in an unlikely place considering the chords, but his expression was so personal that the listener has no option but to inhabit his musical world. It's a rewarding place, as he shows on the relatively straightforward "Our Love is Here to Stay" where he shows that for all of his iconoclasm he still retained a foothold in `the tradition' whatever that amounted to in June, 1964.

Neglected as he is even by jazz diehards, Ervin is along with countless other names ripe for reassessment. As this set shows he was a musician who went about his business with an exceptional sense of purpose, a point which is emphasised by the radical shift in dynamics at the end of his solo on the last track discussed above and the start of pianist Tommy Flanagan's. Potential listeners can thus discover with confidence, subject to how broad their taste is, and to how literally they take this set's claim to be `complete'


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