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Bob Wright "Bob Wright" (Hitchin, Herts, England)

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Presenting the Gerry Mulligan Sextet by Mulligan, Gerry Sextet (2006-04-17)
Presenting the Gerry Mulligan Sextet by Mulligan, Gerry Sextet (2006-04-17)

5.0 out of 5 stars Great, swinging music in the first album by a sadly short-lived band, 5 Dec. 2015
Gerry Mulligan had fidgety feet and regularly looked for new horizons in jazz. He was one of Miles Davis’ collaborators on the experimental “Birth of the Cool” band in the late-1940s and early-1950s (when he also recorded with his own tentet) before establishing his ground-breaking piano-less quartet in 1952. Later he established big bands (most notably his celebrated Concert Jazz Band which operated – all too briefly – in the early-1960s). And so on.

In 1954, he established a sextet – again piano-less, except for a very occasional number with Gerry himself on piano – which performed (and fortunately was recorded) at a one-off concert at a High School in San Diego. In 1955-56, the sextet recorded 3 albums, of which this was the earliest. Alongside Gerry were Jon Eardley on trumpet (mis-spelt as John in the liner notes), Bob Brookmeyer on valve-trombone and Zoot Sims on tenor saxophone, with Peck Morrison on bass and Dave Bailey on drums. They play 8 numbers – some instantly identifiable with Gerry. The music swings like mad. Marvellous stuff.


Banned From New York City - Live 1948-1957
Banned From New York City - Live 1948-1957
Price: £23.87

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine collection of Lady Day in performance, 5 Dec. 2015
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In May 1947, Billie Holiday played a one-week engagement in Philadelphia, in a package with Louis Armstrong’s big band. On returning to the hotel at the end of the engagement, they found that the place was being raided by narcotics agents. The driver sped away from the scene and Billie got back to New York but she was subsequently questioned in New York City. A few days later, she pleaded guilty to receiving, concealing and facilitating the transportation of drugs. Unrepresented, she addressed the judge, pleading guilty and stating that she was willing to enter a state hospital to be cured of her addiction. But the judge sentenced her to a year and a day in the Federal Reformatory for Women in West Virginia. She was released on parole in mid-March 1948, after 9½ months in custody. At the end of that month, she was booked to perform 2 concerts at Carnegie Hall. She was fearful that few people would attend, and that she would not be well received by those who did attend. But, in the event, Carnegie Hall was packed, she performed 30 numbers at each concert, and the response of the audiences was tumultuous.

But one consequence of her conviction was that she lost her New York cabaret card, which meant that she was not allowed to perform anywhere in the city where alcohol was sold (such as jazz clubs). This remained in force until 1957. But she could still perform elsewhere in the country. And this 2-CD set captures a number of such occasions when she was recorded in performance.

The first CD contains 56 minutes of music towards the end of 1948 when Lady appeared – in company with the Red Norvo All Stars – at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, presented by one-time DJ and, later, impresario and record label owner Gene Norman (who died in 2015 at the age of 93). Billie, in good voice, first performs 6 numbers accompanied by her trio (with Bobby Tucker on piano), followed by 7 by a septet led by vibraphonist Red Norvo, including Neil Hefti on trumpet, Herbie Harper on trombone, Herbie Steward on clarinet and tenor saxophone and Jimmy Rowles on piano. And, finally, Billie and her trio join forces with Red Norvo’s group on 5 further numbers.

The second CD, of 59 minutes, contains 2 numbers recorded by Billie, accompanied by her then regular pianist, Carl Drinkard, in Philadelphia in 1953; 8 numbers recorded with her trio in Brussels the following year (which may also be found at the end of her recently-reissued CD “Lady Love - Live in Basel 1954”); 5 numbers with her trio at the Hi Hat in Boston, Massachusetts, a few weeks later; 2 numbers from February 1956 when Billie appeared on the Steve Allen Tonight Show back in New York City; 4 numbers from a Los Angeles TV programme in August 1956; and finally 2 numbers with a quartet including tenorman Paul Quinichette produced by NBC in March 1957.


Live in Paris - with Quincy Jones Big Band 1960
Live in Paris - with Quincy Jones Big Band 1960
Price: £14.42

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute magic from an historic moment in time, 3 Dec. 2015
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This captures one of those historic moments in music when major celestial bodies come into close proximity, arousing great interest and excitement, and then continue on their own particular orbit; and, after they pass, the universe is never quite the same. Nat Cole was originally recognised as a terrific jazz pianist who could also sing but later, of course, became much more widely known around the world as a vocalist (who could play piano). Quincy Jones had begun as a trumpeter but became better known for his talents as an arranger and band leader. In April 1960, they coincided in the heavens above Paris. Quince had taken a big band (packed with outstanding jazz musicians) to Europe to support a new show, "Free and Easy", before it opened back in the US. As Fate would have it, the timing was wrong and the show collapsed. But Quince decided to stay on in Europe for a while with the band, playing in several countries. Meanwhile, Nat Cole was to perform in Paris before his hordes of French fans. But Nat was morphing into a popular singer, while many of his French fans adored, above all, his marvellous piano playing. Impresario Norman Granz, who had brought Nat to Europe, arranged for Quince's band to support Nat. This CD has material from 2 concerts given on the same date in April - with Nat singing some of his classic numbers from this period, and also playing piano (to the special delight of his French friends), and with Quince's band backing Nat on some numbers and also performing 3 terrific tracks on their own.


Two Songbirds of a Feather
Two Songbirds of a Feather
Price: £10.25

5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific album, 3 Dec. 2015
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This 2015 album is a joy. Becky, a relative veteran who has been recording for over 30 years with a long list of vocal albums to her name, doubles on guitar. By contrast, Nicki Parrott is noted more as a talented bassist but over the past 10 years has shown that she is an attractive singer too and here she joins Becky on vocals throughout, as well as playing bass. They are joined here by tenor saxophonist Harry Allen (who plays superb stuff), pianist Mike Renzi and Chuck Redd on drums. The programme is full of prime standards, plus original work by the 2 ladies who also wrote the arrangements. Marvellous.


Edison Inventions - A Centenary Tribute, His 33 Finest
Edison Inventions - A Centenary Tribute, His 33 Finest
Price: £11.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fitting tribute to a great trumpeter, 20 Nov. 2015
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Produced in the year in which, had “Sweets” lived, he would have celebrated his 100th birthday, this 2015 compilation in 2 CDs presents 33 prime examples of this great trumpeter’s art. “Sweets” was born in Columbus, Ohio (where he also died, in 1999). Essentially self-taught, he played in local bands, before moving to Cleveland, then to St Louis, and thence, in 1937, to New York where he spent 6 months with Lucky Millinder’s band. At the end of that year, he joined Count Basie, with whom he stayed until Count disbanded in 1950.

The first 5 tracks here (including "Every Tub", "Shorty George" and "Easy Does It") are prime examples of his work with Basie in the late-1930s and into the early 1940s. The set then moves forward into the 1950s, sampling his work leading his own quartet recorded “live” at The Haig Club in Los Angeles; in a septet led by guitarist Barney Kessel; in a quintet led by drummer Buddy Rich; co-leading a sextet with fellow Basie-ite Lester Young; in a Nelson Riddle band backing Frank Sinatra; with Nat Cole’s trio; leading a sextet including tenorman Ben Webster and with Barney Kessel again; with a sextet led by xylophonist Red Norvo, including Ben Webster once more; leading a sextet with Big Ben again and Oscar Peterson; in an orchestra backing Ella Fitzgerald; leading a sextet including tenorman Jimmy Forrest; and in a sextet led by alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges. And, finally, into the 1960s, he co-leads a quintet with tenorman Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and leads a quartet with Hank Jones on piano.

Others may have their own thoughts on the recordings that they would choose to reflect this great trumpeter’s long and glowing career. But, for now, this 2½ -hour compilation, accompanied by splendid liner notes by Digby Fairweather, should serve very well.


Live at Fat Tuesday's  - Deluxe Digipack 40p booklet
Live at Fat Tuesday's - Deluxe Digipack 40p booklet
Price: £17.81

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most welcome new discovery from Art's later years, 11 Nov. 2015
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At the outset, I must admit to having been a huge fan of Art Pepper since I first heard his terrific album "Smack Up" a half-century ago. For me, he's right up there alongside my other great favourites, including Count Basie, Stan Getz, Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis and Billie Holiday. So the arrival of this album of newly-uncovered material by Art, recorded "live" in 1981, came as manna from heaven. I'm clearly prejudiced. But I'll try to be as objective as possible. The music was recorded "live" in a club. The sound isn't perfect. George Mraz' bass is rather too prominent in the mix. Milcho Leviev's piano is less forward than one would wish. But, from the very first bar of the opening, thrilling "Rhythm-A-Ning" to the last note of the closing "Red Car", they and drummer Al Foster give Art terrific support, and they all solo strongly. As for Art himself, again the recording could have been a bit kinder in capturing his tone. But he was obviously in good spirits, and on marvellous form, on the night. The programme of 5 numbers is varied - from the charging opener, through a similarly up-tempo treatment of "What Is This Thing Called Love?", to Gordon Jenkins' classic "Goodbye" taken as a slow burner in Art's inimitable style (which alone is more than worth the ticket price), and then 2 Pepper compositions - the medium tempo "Make A List, Make A Wish" and finally a driving version of "Red Car": over 70 minutes, including Art's introductions. And the atmosphere is great too - an appreciative, enthusiastic audience, with frequent whoops of excitement (chiefly, I strongly suspect, from Laurie Pepper). The accompanying 40-page booklet is a splendid added bonus, including an interview with Laurie, articles by Brian Priestley (including an interview with Art from a year earlier) and reminiscences by John Koenig (who knew Art from the 1970s when his father, Lester, produced Art's records for the Contemporary label) and by Steve Getz (Stan's son) who was managing Fat Tuesday's at the time.


Remembers Benny Carter
Remembers Benny Carter
Price: £11.17

5.0 out of 5 stars A very fitting tribute to a great jazzman, 23 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Remembers Benny Carter (Audio CD)
Cornettist Warren Vache was greatly admired by Benny Carter, one of the greatest figures in the history of jazz, and, although the 2 men were born nearly half a century apart, they were able to play together on many occasions before Benny died in 2003. Here, a decade later, Warren pays tribute to the great man, leading a notable quintet through a programme of a baker’s dozen of Benny’s compositions, including When Lights Are Low, Doozy, Evening Star, Only Trust Your Heart, Souvenir (which he wrote in memory of Johnny Hodges) and All That Jazz. Tenorman Houston Person shares the front line with Warren, the marvellous Tardo Hammer is on piano, Nicki Parrot doubles on bass and vocals, and Leroy Williams at the kit drives things along very nicely.


Jazz Biography Series [Us Import]
Jazz Biography Series [Us Import]
Price: £9.33

3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed blessing, 23 Oct. 2015
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This CD provides an interesting introduction to the music of the great Charlie Parker, with 20 tracks spanning 8 years from March 1946 to March 1954. In reality (in other words), it covers virtually the entire span of his career. What is of added interest and value is the fact that many of the tracks (and possibly all - I haven't checked the lot) are alternative takes, rather than the master take as originally issued. This therefore complements rather than duplicates other such "sampling" sets - of which there are quite a few - providing an introduction to Bird's work (which some may view as an advantage - as do I). One drawback is that no information is given as to personnel and recording dates, for those (such as I) who would like such details. Another is that 2 of the tracks are flawed (I checked another copy and found that that was the same), but, for the low price that I paid, one should not rule it out.


The Very Thought Of You
The Very Thought Of You
Price: £13.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended without hesitation, 19 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: The Very Thought Of You (Audio CD)
Together with fellow members of Letchworth Jazz Appreciation Society, I recently (summer, 2015) had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Zoe Francis performing locally at the Market Theatre in Hitchin, in a trio with guitarist Jim Mullen. We were all greatly impressed by both her singing and presentation, and I therefore snapped up a copy of this CD when it became available. I was certainly not disappointed. Recorded at the 606 Club in London in 2014, with a strong supporting quintet including Stan Sulzmann on tenor saxophone, Jim Mullen on guitar again, and Gareth Williams on piano, this has 10 numbers. While these are virtually all well-known standards, Zoe nevertheless manages to put her own personal stamp on them. This underlined for me the excellent impression that she made when I saw her in the summer. Indeed, I rather fancy that she had developed greater poise and polish in the meantime. She certainly looks to be one to watch out for in the future. In the meantime, this set is certainly recommended.


Book of Ballads + Something to Swing About (plus 3 extra tracks)
Book of Ballads + Something to Swing About (plus 3 extra tracks)
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £6.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Plenty to enjoy here in 2 fine, contrasting, albums, 2 Oct. 2015
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This album brings together 2 contrasting albums by Carmen McRae from the late-1950s. On the title album from 1958 - comprising 12 high-quality ballads (such as "How Long Has This Been Going On?", "Isn't It Romantic?" and "When I Fall in Love") - she is backed by strings, with a quality rhythm section of Don Abney (p), Joe Benjamin (b) and Charlie Smith (d). In the very nature of things, the pace is gentle and the mood romantic. But it's very well done. Just one point (which may avoid you complaining unnecessarily): track 11 (the lovely "Angel Eyes") finishes just a little early. If you know the number, it should finish "'Scuse me while I disappear". But here the sound ends about 5 seconds early - "'Scuse me ..." It was the same on 2 separate copies, so there's probably not much point in complaining.

By way of complete contrast, the 1959 "bonus album", "Something to Swing About" - as the title suggests - is mostly uptempo with a fine big band arranged and conducted by the great Ernie Wilkins (who did such marvellous things for the Count Basie band a little earlier). Carmen is in fine voice and along the way there are solos by Richard Williams (t), Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Phil Woods (as), Zoot Sims (ts) and Dick Katz (p). Good stuff.


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