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Changes & Things
Changes & Things
Price: £15.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Sam Jones - Changes & Things, 11 Jan. 2017
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This review is from: Changes & Things (Audio CD)
This was recorded in 1977 by Xanadu, a label that produced a number of good discs by musicians who had been prominent say 15 or 20 years before but were no longer the height of fashion. The band assembled by Sam was a sextet, consisting of Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Slide Hampton on trombone, Bob Berg on tenor, Barry Harris on piano, Sam on bass (no cello) and Louis Hayes on drums. It's not a jam session but quite carefully arranged and similar to the earliest records under his leadership in the early sixties. And, like those, it is pretty successful. Most of the tunes are originals by members of the band, but also there are Benny Golson's classic 'Stablemates' and the Oscar Pettiford original 'Laverne Walk'.
The whole band plays well. Blue Mitchell, at this time producing an amount of commercial dross, shakes off his woes with some bright and brassy solos, both lively and imaginative. Indeed he possibly plays better than in his earlier days with Horace Silver, his tone being fuller. Slide Hampton, a consistently under rated soloist, here is on form with some lively swinging excursions. Bob Berg, from a slightly later generation than the others, plays some aggressive mobile tenor, based on Coltrane and Rollins but by this time very much his own thing. Barry Harris plays a melodic probing piano fully justifying his almost legendary reputation. To these ears he sounds like a combination of the best of Duke Jordan and Mal Waldron, which can't be bad.
Jones solos well and not to excessive length but most importantly is, as he usually was, a firm support for the band and Louis Hayes, his old partner from the Cannonball Adderley band helps drive the band along in fine fashion.
D'you know, I started this review giving this 4 stars, but it's really worth 5.


7 Classic Albums
7 Classic Albums
Price: £19.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Clifford Jordan - Seven Classic Albums, 6 Jan. 2017
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This review is from: 7 Classic Albums (Audio CD)
As an earlier review points out this is a four disc box set consisting of seven LP's of music led by or featuring tenor saxist Clifford Jordan. He was always a very good player, fluent and swinging, with a sound originating from pre sheets of sound John Coltrane, although somewhat lighter. This placed him in the same bag as quite a lot of other players of the time, so you do't expect a great deal of originality but he always remained a very satisfying player. Another plus point of this collection is that Jordan worked with a number of the better players around at the time so you get a bird's eye view of quite a lot of good musicians.
The first session is 'Blowing In From Chicago' on which Jordan is coupled with fellow tenorman John Gilmore and a forceful rhythm section of Horace Silver, Curly Russell and Art Blakey. A very good session indeed although the two tenors are a little difficult to tell apart. Gilmore later developed into a very original player indeed but here both are young Turks trying to establish themselves. Next comes 'Cliff Jordan - 1957' with a collective personnel of Jordan, Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, the little known John Jenkins on alto and a rhythm section of Ray Bryant, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor. Another very good session with all the horns playing well, with Lee Morgan probably the standout. Ray Bryant, another genuinely original musician probably takes the honours overall. 'Cliff Craft', also from 1957, features Jordan with Art Farmer, Sonny Clark, George Tucker and Louis Hayes. Jordan as ever plays well, Farmer with great clarity and incisiveness and the great Sonny Clark with swing and melody, both of which seem to have come absolutely naturally to him. Another fine session.
There was then a slight gap until 1960 and 'Spellbound', a quartet session with Jordan, Cedar Walton, Spanky DeBrest and Albert Heath. By this time Jordan's style had become slightly more angular, although the difference is not great. Walton is a fluent pianist, DeBrest a powerful swinging bassist and Heath a very good and original drummer. 'Starting Time', from the following year, has Jordan with Kenny Dorham, Walton and Heath again and Wilbur Ware on bass. It is a good session, with Dorham a thoughtful player but doesn't quite have the zing of the earlier dates. 'Expoobident', from 1960, was a Lee Morgan date and disappoints a little. Everybody sounds a little under wraps and the session never quite catches fire, which is a bit of a surprise, bearing in mind that Art Blakey is stoking the drum kit. I have noticed this on other Vee Jay recordings and it may be nothing more than a slightly dull recorded sound. Certainly, nobody plays badly.
The last session, Max Roach's 'It's Time' features a sextet with a choir throughout conducted by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and with a vocal by Abbey Lincoln on one track. To my surprise it works quite well although I am not sure I would want to repeat it. The choir work as the equivalent to a backing big band and are quite intrusive. The front line horns are Richard Williams on trumpet, Julian Priester on trombone, and Jordan, with Mal Waldron on piano. All play absolutely brilliantly, either because they were lashed into life by Max' drumming or inspired by the singing behind them. Williams, a most exciting and extrovert player and Waldron are probably the star soloists but all four are committed and exciting. I very nearly avoided buying the collection because of the presence of this session but I now find I enjoy it One thing that is noticeable, however, when Abbey Lincoln sings in front of the choir is just what a difference there is in the timing of a jazz and blues singer and a classical choir.


Strings
Strings
Offered by nagiry
Price: £8.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Pat Martino - Strings, 3 Jan. 2017
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This review is from: Strings (Audio CD)
Pat Martino is, technically, a superb guitarist who has never attracted a great deal of attention. He spent much of the early part of his career as a sideman in organ groups led by such as Don Patterson and Jack McDuff or with tough tenors like Willis Jackson and Red Holloway. Later on in his career he began to lead his own groups, frequently without an organ, but his sound and style remained much the same. He has a hard amplified sound but not distorted with a fast, fluent and bluesy style. He seems to be able to solo at length without ever running out of ideas. Quite impressive, really!
This session dates from 1967 and was the second under his leadership. With him he has Joe Farrell on tenor and flute, Cedar Walton on piano, Ben Tucker on bass and Walter Perkins on drums and together they form a tough little band entirely suited to Martino's style.
The programme is varied and attractive. 'Strings', the opener, has Farrell on flute, added percussion, and a good Martino solo. The whole thing is danceable and I suspect may have been intended for single release. 'Minority' is a lengthy version of the old Gigi Gryce number with forceful exciting solos from tenor, guitar and piano. The remaining tunes are Martino originals, with 'Lean Years', a brooding but virile piece having more good solos by tenor, guitar and piano. 'Mom' is melodic with solos in character from guitar and flute. The final number,'Querido' has a rhumba rhythm with a compelling beat and more good solos from guitar and flute.
The whole thing is highly enjoyable!


7 Classic Albums Vol.2
7 Classic Albums Vol.2
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £7.69

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5.0 out of 5 stars Lee Morgan Vol.2 - Seven Classic Albums, 31 Dec. 2016
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This review is from: 7 Classic Albums Vol.2 (Audio CD)
Seven sessions featuring the great trumpeter and dating from 1956 to 1962, this set is invaluable not only because of the quality of the music but also because, with one exception, they are among his lesser known works. Not only is this an ideal introduction for the new fan to his work it is also ideal for the established collector looking to fill in the gaps in his collection. Morgan was one of a trio of young players who came to prominence in the late fifties, along with Freddie Hubbard and Booker Little. All were brilliant players from an early age in their different ways and Morgan, with his extrovert, mobile, brassy style, always backed up with a natural understanding of the blues, may well have been the best. Here, despite the obscurity of some of these sessions, he is in fine form.
'Lee Morgan Indeed' comes from 1956 when he was barely 18. His technical command and maturity is amazing. He has with him the little known Clarence Sharpe on alto, a man who spent much of his life and played his music on the streets. He is an interesting musician, Parker influenced but with the distant beginnings of the sound of Ornette. Horace Silver, Wilbur Ware and Philly Joe Jones form a driving rhythm section. A fine and intriguing session.
Next comes 'City Lights' from 1957, a sextet with Lee, Curtis Fuller, George Coleman, Ray Bryant, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor. This is quieter than its predecessor but all are on good form. Ray Bryant, on, for him, a very rare excursion on Blue Note, is probably the standout, playing in his delicate thoughtful style but also letting rip with some powerful gospel style piano on the swingers. A most original pianist!
'The Cooker' from 1958 follows, with Pepper Adams, Bobby Timmons, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe. This is one of Lee's best known sessions and deservedly so, with beautiful trumpet from Lee, muscular swinging baritone from Pepper Adams and a rhythm section firing on all cylinders.
'Candy' from 1958 also, puts Lee in a quartet setting. Frequently a trumpet led quartet results in a sparse sound but not here. Lee's fluent, almost verbose style has no difficulty in filling the available solo space. Of course, he is helped by having with him that fine pianist Sonny Clark, a player both melodic and naturally swinging. Doug Watkins and Art Taylor complete a fine rhythm section.
'Peckin' Time' from 1959 is a session jointly led by Lee and Hank Mobley. Mobley, with hindsight, was one of the very best of tenors around at the time, with a relaxed swinging style. He is partnered well by Lee, playing in a similar but more extrovert style. Wynton Kelly, on piano with his precise and dancing style, leads a good rhythm section.
'Paris Jam Session' from 1961 comes next. As ever, the great Art Blakey drives things along. Morgan is pushed to great heights but never quite lets the drummer take over. Barney Wilen plays some forceful alto, Wayne Shorter is interesting but more self contained but most interesting are two long solos from Bud Powell, driven along by Blakey and gradually exorcising at least some of his demons to produce some good solo work.
Lastly comes 'Take Twelve' from 1962, with Lee with Clifford Jordan, Barry Harris, Bob Cranshaw and Louis Hayes, a satisfying set where five quality musicians play to a high standard, even if the session does not display some of the peaks of excitement found elsewhere in this set.
So, overall, this set has fine playing throughout from one of the very best of modern jazz trumpets, but also displays considerable variety in the music and is a showcase for a large number of the better musicians around at the time.


Beautiful! + 1 bonus track
Beautiful! + 1 bonus track
Price: £15.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Charles McPherson - But Beautiful, 23 Dec. 2016
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This is a good record and well worth listening to but like many of McPherson's discs it leaves you with the feeling something is missing. The alto player is very much a disciple of Bird, with a sound that is virtually identical but sometimes a slightly static approach. He plays some attractive lines and is a very proficient ballad player but it always sounds a little stately. It is obviously how he sees his music because this is the effect on most of his records. If he has another horn to challenge him, as, for example, on 'Be Bop Revisited', with Carmel Jones, he seems to rise to the challenge and the music becomes much more vigorous.
Here he has Duke Jordan on piano, Sam Jones on bass and Leroy Williams on drums on what is a programme of ballads. There is plenty of variety in the performances, from attractive slow melodies such as 'But Beautiful' and 'Body and Soul' to a latin lilt to 'They Say It's Wonderful' to a fastish version of 'Lover'. All are attractive and McPherson is melodic throughout.
He receives good support from the bassist, one of the main men on his instrument since the fifties and a powerful support to the band, and from the less well known Leroy Williams, a discrete and helpful drummer. Duke Jordan, a most melodic and subtle pianist excels on every track, playing solos of great beauty but always swinging. Indeed, the trio version of 'All God's Children Got Rhythm', added as a bonus track to the original disc on this issue, is the best track on the disc, Duke having in spades whatever it is that is missing in the leader.
Like I said, an attractive session. Charles is very nearly a superb player, but never quite makes it.


Wiggs/Burke Big 4
Wiggs/Burke Big 4
Price: £32.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Johnny Wiggs and Raymond Burke - Wiggs Burke Big 4, 9 Dec. 2016
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This review is from: Wiggs/Burke Big 4 (Audio CD)
This is beautiful music. The Big 4 consists of Johnny Wiggs on cornet, Raymond Burke on clarinet and, occasionally, flute and harmonica, Edmond Souchon on acoustic guitar and vocals. and Sherwood Mangiapane on string bass and the occasional vocal. The recordings were made in New Orleans in the early fifties, usually by the four of them together, although some tracks are just clarinet and guitar, others guitar alone or with an unknown string player, and some by the full band minus only string bass. One track recorded in 1957 in Chicago has cornet, clarinet and guitar with Art Hodes added on piano and Freddie Moore on drums. The sessions are said to have come about when Raymond Burke happened to drop by a session of Johnny Wiggs and joined in. It is chamber music but obviously quite informal and music of great warmth and variety. Both Wiggs and Burke date back to the earliest days of white New Orleans jazz but retain the techniques and the integrity to play that long gone music with authority and completely naturally. But this is not revival music: these guys were playing what came absolutely naturally to them. Every track is a new and different treasure.
None of these men are well known. Wiggs recorded in the late twenties a few tracks as John Wiggington Hyman, but thereafter seems to have been more an enthusiast and organiser for New Orleans jazz rather than a professional musician. He is a very adept cornetist, capable of providing a powerful lead as well as melodic delicacies, obviously with considerable technique but using that technique for purely musical purposes rather than display. Equally obviously he has an open mind. Raymond Burke never recorded much at all and virtually never in a commercial setting. He was a legendary eccentric among New Orleans Musicians and fans, seriously intolerant of what he considered inadequate musicianship (he is said once to have been in a concert with Al Hirt, a popular but flashy trumpeter, heard the start of Hirt's solo, quietly packed up his clarinet and just walked off stage without a word). Here he sounds very much like the great Creole clarinetists but when needed he can play with great emotion. On 'Congo Square', for example, his playing howls with anger and emotion.
Doc Souchon is adept on guitar, both solo and rhythm and is a most appealing singer. He comes across as almost a Falstaffian figure, enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, food and drink, and entertained by it all. Mangiapane plays unobtrusively but fits perfectly into what is really a perfect band.
The tunes are varied and attractive, from New Orleans classics, old pops to odd bits from goodness knows where.
It is very easy for record reviewers to say umpteen records are essential. Trying not to say that here I can say that I cannot remember an occasion when I have sat down to listen to a newly purchased record and have had more enjoyment than I did here.


Four Classic Albums Plus (Bud Freeman / Chicago And All That Jazz / Chicago- Austin High School Jazz In Hi-Fi / The Bud Freeman Group)
Four Classic Albums Plus (Bud Freeman / Chicago And All That Jazz / Chicago- Austin High School Jazz In Hi-Fi / The Bud Freeman Group)
Price: £6.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bud Freeman - Four Classic Albums Plus, 24 Nov. 2016
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I was going to open this review by describing this two CD set as very pleasant but on reflection that doesn't do Bud justice. Throughout a long recording career, going back to 1928, he played consistently at a high level, melodic and inventive as a soloist, contributing to the ensemble of the various Dixieland bands with whom he played, and above all, always swinging.
These four sessions come from fairly late in his career but show little decline in his abilities. The first half of CD one is a reissue of the LP 'Bud Freeman' by a quintet including Bud and Ruby Braff. Bud is in his relaxed, almost casual mode, and Ruby melodic but also with that acidic edge he often displayed. They go together well. Unfortunately Ruby drops out after five numbers to make the band Bud plus rhythm.Piano duties are shared by Kenny Kersey and Dave Bowman, both very good. Kersey, indeed, from his early days at Mintons has always been a fine but much overlooked pianist. Rhythm is Al Hall and George Wettling, so no problems there, and the whole set is very pleasant (that word again) and more. The second half of the first disc is a reissue of 'Chicago And All That Jazz', more or less itself a reunion from the twenties, with a front line of Bud, Jimmy McPartland, Jack Teagarden and Pee Wee Russell. All the horns solo well, as does Joe Sullivan on piano on a most welcome rare visit to the recording studio, but the ensembles are disorderly, McPartland not really providing a lead. Gene Krupa on drums keeps things moving. Lil Armstrong takes a couple of raucous vocals and accompanies herself on some thumping piano in the best vaudeville tradition but Blossom Seeley in two very brief vocals is almost inaudible. So, a bit of a mixed bag, but the good far outweighs the bad.
The second disc starts with 'Chicago/Austin High School Jazz In Hi-Fi', a triumphant success. Personnels vary somewhat but include the four horns from the previous session. All play superbly again and this time McPartland is in full control of the ensembles. Also around from time to time are Billy Butterfield, one of the most melodic of all players, Tyree Glenn, who provides a sophisticated Ellingtonian touch to the ensemble, Peanuts Hucko and Gene Schroeder, both of whom play well. A classic session of the highest quality.
The last session is 'The Bud Freeman Group' with Bud plus rhythm. The tunes are short, Bud and the band are extremely relaxed and the whole performance is possibly a little too casual.
Recording quality is good, playing time is 80 minutes a disc and there is a sleeve note, although that concentrates on nostalgia more than information. The whole thing is very good value.


The Frankie Trumbauer Collection 1924-46
The Frankie Trumbauer Collection 1924-46
Price: £7.66

4.0 out of 5 stars The Frankie Trumbauer Collection 1924 - 1946, 21 Nov. 2016
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An interesting collection from a musician with a somewhat singular history. He is often considered as a rather milk and water soloist who gradually drifted almost completely out of jazz, never having been wholly at home in it. There is some truth in that view but this two CD collection makes it clear there was far more to him than that. In some ways he reminds me a little of Don Redman who was instrumental in creating much of black orchestral jazz in the 1920's but twenty years later was reduced to producing tired versions of other people's music and was little more than a historical figure. What Redman did for black music Tram did in large part for white jazz and he also ended up just as sidelined. He deserves much more of a hearing than he has had and the contents here (at least most of them) show why.
The earlier tracks show him with bands such as the Mound City Blue Blowers, The Arkansas Travellers, the Sioux City Six and The Cotton Pickers, playing solos, slightly coolish but good, in freewheeling small bands. By 1926 he is working with bigger bands, such as Ray Miller and Jean Goldkette. After this the remainder of the first disc has him with the Whiteman Orchestra or units from it, often under his own name, and frequently with Bix and others of the Whiteman stars. Most of the orchestrations are by him and are both subtle and swinging, with plenty of solo space. Care has been taken by the compilers to ensure the music does not clash unduly with that already available featuring Bix. There are a number of singers, of whom even the males are best described as 'cute' but they do not impinge too much.
On disc2 matters continue for a while. Bix has gone but is replaced by Andy Secrest, a good player of similar style but not just a copyist. The bands become a little more ornate and the soloists a little less good, although primarily still from the Whiteman band. About halfway through the disc, when we have reached 1934, things change. Trumbauer still uses Whiteman men for his own recording groups, but they now include greats such as the Teagarden brothers and Carl Kress, and the orchestra sound becomes thinner. I suppose this stage of his career was Trumbauer's final flowering, because the last four tracks, dating from 1938 to 1946, free of any Whiteman influence, are competent but in no way individual.
It may be time for a reassessment of some of the white jazz of the twenties. Much of it was of high quality and deserves more sympathetic consideration than it has had. Trumbauer was one of the more original men who produced that music as this collection shows and he has been unduly neglected for a long period.


Early Jazz 1917-1923
Early Jazz 1917-1923
Price: £20.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Jazz 1917 - 1923, 18 Nov. 2016
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This review is from: Early Jazz 1917-1923 (Audio CD)
An interesting set of recordings from 1917 to 1923 showcasing the revolutionary period when jazz developed from ragtime beginnings into the music we know and love. Not many of the recordings are particularly well known but some, such as the ODJB from 1917, Paul Whiteman from 1920, Johnny Dunn from 1921, Kid Ory, NORK and Oliver's Creole Jazz Band have long been considered as classics, if not always for purely musical reasons. Much of the music is extremely rare and on many of the tunes many if not all of the musicians are unknowns. Sometimes musicians crop up who later became better known in other contexts. Thus, on W.C.Handy's 'Ole Miss Rag' Darnell Howard can be heard, Russell Smith appears with Wilbur Sweatman, and on the Original New Orleans Jazz Band you can hear Achille Baquet on clarinet, admittedly alongside Jimmy Durante on piano. Incidentally Baquet may have been the first black man to have recorded in a jazz band from New Orleans as, although black he was able to pass as white, and did so here. Mitchell's Jazz Kings feature Cricket Smith a man who deserves a book all to himself. He was featured trumpet in the first of James Europe's Orchestra in, I think 1912, later bumped into Sidney Bechet in post revolutionary Moscow while playing there and then moved to Paris where he played with Mitchell in the early twenties. By the late twenties he was playing in Paris accompanying French poets in what must be the first ever jazz and poetry sessions and then finally he surfaced in India, leading his own band in the thirties. And, through all that he remained a remarkably good trumpeter.
The second CD of this two CD set continues the interest although becoming more identifiable as the jazz we now know. Highlights include Johnny Dunn, Ory's original recording with Mutt Carey, Paul Mares and Leon Roppolo together on a couple of tracks, the early arrival of such as Phil Napoleon and Miff Mole, Frankie Trumbauer with the Benson Orchestra of Chicago, Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra even before Louis Armstrong and so on.
Fascinating stuff for the historically minded among us, but also music from what were revolutionary times, admittedly quite different from the music of a few years later. Very little of this music is readily available elsewhere and for those interested in the very earliest days of jazz this is probably now the best selection available.
Recording quality is good and there is a detailed essay on the music in both French and English. Great fun and music of high quality!


Very Tall - Oscar Peterson Trio with Milt Jackson
Very Tall - Oscar Peterson Trio with Milt Jackson
Price: £11.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oscar Peterson Trio and Milt Jackson - Very Tall, 27 Oct. 2016
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This really has to be five stars, doesn't it? Just look who's on it! This was recorded in 1961 and marked the first time Peterson and Jackson recorded together. It was the start of a number of recordings by Norman Granz bringing together various members of this group often with other compatibles such as Joe Pass, although the two leaders didn't do so for ten years or so. Peterson had often (quite wrongly in my view) been criticised as a mechanical player, producing overly technical displays with an ersatz blues feeling. This was one of the significant points in his career that led to him being recognised as one of the giants of the piano. Milt Jackson and Ray Brown had long been recognised as maybe the giants on their respective instruments and Ed Thigpen, a drummer who never really received the recognition he should have done individually, formed with Ray Brown a superlative rhythm section. All here are on top form.
The original disc had six numbers, all by the quartet. This has three bonus tracks, two by the Peterson trio and one by an earlier Jackson group. Of the quartet numbers, 'Work Song' and 'Reunion Blues' are driving, swinging pieces, and 'John Brown's Body', although starting quietly, builds to a powerful climax. 'Heartstrings' and 'A Wonderful Guy' are both quieter melodic numbers, the former in particular being a very attractive ballad. 'On Green Dolphin Street', a subtle melody, receives a restrained and entirely apposite treatment.
Of the three bonus tracks two are live versions by the Peterson trio of 'On Green Dolphin Street, both from different sessions in 1961, both sufficiently different from each other and both forming a contrast to the quartet version. 'Heartstrings' is a 1957 track led by Milt with a few horns and featuring a lengthy solo by him, very good but showing how much his sound had changed in the intervening four years.
Definitely one to get!


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