Monday, February 28, 2005

Scott Wendholt: From Now On...

Scott Wendholt is a name I was unfamiliar with at first (like several of the new players I've been writing about here). Wendholt is a trumpet player who plays in a mostly straight-ahead and modern style. It's a good album, from 1995, with several nicely-arranged pieces for the horn harmonies. It's a studio recording made in NYC with some great songs like Dear Old Stockholm and I Remember You and others.

Scott Wendholt (Tp)
Tim Ries (Ts / Ss)
Steve Armour (Tb)
Steve Wilson (As)
Bruce Barth (P)
Larry Grenadier (B)
Billy Drummond (D)

Ralph Bowen: Soul Propreitor

From 2002, a straight-ahead jazz session with Sam Yahel (organ), Peter Bernstein (guitar) and Brian Blade (drums). Sounds pretty good!

Paul Bley: Memoirs

From 1990 with Charlie Haden and Paul Motion. Many moments of free, non-regular beat going on, going for an open, spacey sound with lots of room to explore (for example, it can sound as if the pulse is beating, but it is implied subtly and expertly by each of the three players in a way that makes you feel Aha, I've got it!).

I have the feeling that brief composed themes and ideas had been worked out before but the performance of them is kept intentionally loose, so that the players can stick to the form but at the same time, react and reform the shapes as the desire hits them. There are also a few more traditional song forms on the album, such as Monk's Dream, and My Old Flame, reinterpreted here as My New Flame.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Roy Hargrove: Hard Groove

A crossover approach to jazz. He's perhaps trying to get a wider audience by appealing to funk and soul listeners - this record has a lot of that, but little of what I would call jazz. Not recommended as a jazz record, but probably stands on its own for what it is.

Slow grooves, jams, some 70's funk sounds, and hip hop and soul vocals here and there. Party and chillin' music.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Paul Bley: Hot

From 1985, with:

Barry Altschul Drums
Paul Bley Piano
John Scofield Guitar (Electric)
Steve Swallow Bass (Electric)

Pretty interesting, little out-there in places, but it moves along and is not hard at all to listen to. I might listen to this here and there...

Paul Bley: With Gary Peacock

From the late sixties, this album sounds good so far. It's a piano trio recording with Paul Motian on most of it and Billy Elgart playing drums on the rest. The recording quality is a little sub-par (the bass sounds clipped in some places, or the bass speaker vibrating) but the musical content sounds nice. The last three songs (with Bill Elgart) have a nicer-produced sound.

The songs are not overly extended, with each song being 3 or 4 minutes long. There are places of the piano going a little out, but nothing unlistenable (to me) since the beat is nicely propelled and the changes are identifiable. But a modern sound, not typical bop patterns. Can be spacey and abstract in places, though - some tunes don't establish any regular rhythm.

A nice version of Long Ago And Far Away (Gershwin, Kern) was probably the highlight for me first time through.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Gary Burton: Like Minds

Meeting of the masters: Burton (vibes), Chick Corea (pn), Pat Metheny (gtr), Dave Holland (bs), and Roy Haynes (dr). Very exciting and professional-quality music from real professionals. Recorded in 1987. Everyone is fun to listen to on this recording - it has many highlights and is loaded with quality musical moments. Five of Metheny's songs, three of Coreas, two of Burton's, and one Gershwin (Soon).

Elvin Jones: Live at the Lighthouse, Vol. 1

From 1972, Hermosa Beach, CA.

Elvin Jones : drums
Gene Perla : acoustic bass
Dave Liebman : soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
Steve Grossman : tenor saxophone

Kind of avant-garde music. You get a lot of wailing, searching saxophone lines flying above a bass and drums riff-based rhythm section. Works on building a groove and setting a plane from which the melodic flight navigates the terrian, sometimes with both saxes flying at the same time. There are also sections of arranged parts, some almost-straight-ahead changes, and what sounds like some free sections too. The drums and bass interaction is fun to listen to in those places where the horns aren't overblowing.

Eric Alexander: The Second Milestone

From 2001, with Harold Maeburn (pn), Peter Washington (bs), and Joe Farnsworth (dr). More impressive hard-bop from the tenor player.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Paul Motian: Bill Evans Tribute To the Great Post-Bop Pianist

This album from 1990 is a somber soundtrack-y type affair which pays tribute to Bill Evans' compositions such as Turning Out the Stars, Very Early, and Walkin' Up. Guitarist Bill Frisell, tenor Joe Lovano, and bassist Marc Johnson join Motion to make a quartet.

The music is almost trance-y or even hypnotic in places with Frisell's delayed guitar effects and sound-swelling style. The music is interesting to listen to though, and I will probably give this one another shot or two. It fits a mood and may well grow on me.

Stan Getz: with Laurindo Almeida

The guest star on this 1963 album is a Brazilian guitar player who plays rhythm and some solos alongside Getz, who is still the star of this session. There are also several percussionists, pianist, bassist, and drumset. This is a very bossa-sounding record with the acoustic guitar turned up pretty loud and focused. A nice-sounding but very-live-sounding recording. A few Jobim tunes are featured, and the others are by Almeida and others.

Stan Getz: Blue Skies

Lovely album from 1982, with pianist Jim McNeely, Marc Johnson bass, and drummer Billy Hart. Gets off to a slow but nice beginning. Track 4 is really the only uptempo tune on the album. Mostly a mood album, but what a nice mood it is.

Eric Alexander: Full Range

Each of Eric Alexander's albums that I listen to, I like. This is a good example of how modern-day jazz is keeping jazz alive and doing it right.

This is a sextet date (tenor, guitar, trumpet, piano, bass, drums) recorded in 1994 with pianist Kenny Barron and others. So far the music is great! I am becoming a big Alexander fan.

However, there has got to be better photo for a CD cover!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Richard Davis: Live at Sweet Basil

From 1991, bassist Richard David played a live set at the NYC club Sweet Basil. Only 4 tunes on this set, each over 10 minutes. The first track, Dealin', has a rock/funk type groove. Next, Samba Para Ustedes Dos has a latin groove. Rest of the CD sounds ok. Not stellar, but not bad. Maybe it will grow on me...

Regina Carter: Regina Carter

If you like R&B-styled jazz, or fusion-flavored jazz, or would like to hear what a modern classical violin player might do in a jazz setting, then you may want to listen to this album. Reminded me of some of Al DiMeola's old fusion records, but not as intense. This is pretty close to smooth jazz... The vocals on this album are also a little embarrassing. I dunno, to me the violin just sounds strange and funny playing this style.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Bruce Barth: East And West

This is another great record. From 2001 - the MaxJazz piano series, which has been releasing some nice jazz lately. This album is strong on the trio sound but also has horns making it more interesting. Lots of originals from Barth, with the concept being eastern and western sounds - or is it East and West coasts? But it doesn't sound too exotic, it still sounds like jazz, and I like it. Straight-ahead but also with some interesting new sounds. Even a Monk solo piece is thrown in, although it feels maybe a little out of place here.

One For All: Wide Horizons

Now this is more like it. Straight-ahead hard-bop jazz. From 2003. Terrific, terrific! I love these sounds so far. Featuring Eric Alexander on tenor, Jim Rotundi (trumpet), pianist David Hazeltine, Steve Davis trombone, Joe Farnsworth on drums, Peter Washington bass.

Motohiko Hino: It's There

Electric-guitar jazz from 1993 - typically not what I listen to. The group does five Led Zeppelin songs, including The Rain Song, Stairway to Heaven, and Dazed and Confused. Those are good songs but when I want Led Zeppelin, I probably want Led Zeppelin playing, not John Scofield or Mike Stern playing Led Zeppelin on a rock/jazz album. The electric guitar with the reverb makes it sound fusion-y but the organ makes it a little interesting.

Motohiko is the drummer and leader of this date. The sound is interesting because there is a real organ sound - not quite like a jazz organ, but sounds to me like an organ organ (maybe it's the way it's being played), plus some synth sounds here and there.

I probably wouldn't listen to this again, it's just not really my thing.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Joe Henderson: Tetragon

1967/68 session with Kenny Barron/Don Friedman (piano), Ron Carter (bass), and Louis Hayes or Jack Dejohnette (drums). Pretty nice session with a few out-there moments.

The Bad Plus: Give

This is a new jazz/rock record from a piano-bass-drums trio which has gotten some amount of media attention. They are after a post-jazz sound, something nontraditional which pushes the boundaries of what is considered jazz. Initially I did not like listening much but it did keep my interest for a while to satisfy my curiosity - much has been said about this trio recently and many good things. I was caught by their cover of the Pixie's Veloria, perhaps mainly because I was trying to place the theme. There were a few moments which caught my interest, but I guess I don't really want to hear a "jazz" trio try to force originality by playing Iron Man from Black Sabbath... I listened to this album once casually and probably won't try it again.

Wynton Marsalis Quartet: The Magic Hour

From 2004. The back of the booklet has this to say:

This recording and artwork are protected by copyright law. Using Internet services to distribute copyrighted music, giving away illegal copies of discs, or leanding discs to others for them to copy is illegal and does not support those involved in making this piece of music - including the artist.

By carrying out any of these actions it has the same effect as stealing music.

I borrowed this CD from the public library. I wonder if record companies will eventually try to outlaw CDs in libraries?

The release is a Blue Note release with nice artwork - almost Bjorkish (Verspertine) with washed-out pastel colors and cartoonish illustrations. So far, the album sounds interesting but not super interesting. I'm going to give it a chance though.

Check out this excerpt from the liner notes by Stanley Crouch:

Essentially, this one right here is a jazz party record, the first to take the listener into Marsalis after dark, in his apartment, with friends from the world over and big fun going on... Some [of the tunes] are extremely soulful, some are funny, some are lyrical and some are played just because nobody cares about anything other than swinging and having a good time.

With pianist Eric Lewis.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Ron Carter: Third Plane

With Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams, from 1977.

Nice sounding, enjoyable, but not very engaging. Several parts of this recording almost sounded like an Aebersold practice CD!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bill Evans: Cross-currents

...with sax players Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, and Eliot Zigmund and Eddie Gomez on drums and bass.

I'm a big Bill Evans fan but usually prefer his piano-trio albums (ok, it's mandatory to make an exception for Kind of Blue...). But Lee Konitz (alto) and Warne Marsh (tenor) are interesting players, and apparently one of Evans' influences was Lennie Tristano who the two horn players worked with quite a bit.

This has got good playing on here! Even if it's not his "normal trio sound", it is the characteristic Evans sound and improvisations.

Even with the horn players, there's still plenty of heavy Bill Evans to listen to on this album. His touch is so nice to listen to.

Kenny Barron: Spirit Song

This is a 2000 recording featuring horns (Eddie Henderson and David Sanchez) and rhythm section - and guitar and violin on some tracks. It is a nice album, full of textures and interesting arrangements, not just standard blowing. Barron has a nice touch and interesting ideas.

Because of the variety of style on this album I initially wondered if it was a compilation album... Not your typical jazz, but definitely worth investigating.

Harold Mabern: Maya With Love

Trio album from 2000. This is a very nice piano trio album, although the opening number starts off strangely with some classical sounds, and going into a different type of jazz feel. But it works! Some of the tracks on this album are really uptempo and fun to listen to the pianist burn his way around.

Eric Alexander: Nightlife in Tokyo

A post-bop album from 2003, featuring Alexander on tenor sax and Harold Maeburn on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Joe Farnsworth on drums. It's a tight post-bop record (not live!) which features Alexander's long, professional sax lines. Modern but with a classic sound.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Kenny Garrett: Black Hope

This is, I believe, the first time I've heard Kenny Garrett (at least, realized that I was listening to Kenny Garrett). Garrett plays alto sax , flute, and other instruments. This album started off with a good uptempo burner with a professional, almost glossy sound. This album also stars Joe Henderson on tenor sax and Kenny Kirkland on piano. Sounds great so far (I'm up to track 3 now) and I'll definitely keep listening...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Jazz in Amsterdam

This is a club in Amsterdam, pretty sure it's called Alto. I saw a great piano trio playing in the style of old Ahmad Jamal's trio. There is a sax player shown in the photo who joined in for a few tunes.

Amsterdam jazz club Posted by Hello

Jazz in Copenhagen

Copenhagen JazzHouse Posted by Hello

In 2002 I visited Europe and many jazz venues. This was one of my favorites - the Copenhagen JazzHouse in Denmark. The drummer was a furious player and the piano player was a very skilled and professional player.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Bill Frisell: Have A Little Faith

Normally guitar-based jazz is not my favorite - I love the sound of the piano trio. Frisell makes it interesting though. So far it sounds like he's more interested in sound scape type orchestration rather than straight-ahead guitar jazz blowing. It almost sounds like a rock album or heavy metal production. The songs are just kind of strange, not really the jazz style (is it jazz?) that I prefer.

Bill Charlap: All Through The Night

From the start, this sounds like a heavy piano player. I.e. can play the piano very proficiently and completely. Sounds a bit like he's coming from a classical background based on his technicality. This is a really tight trio sound though. Not overpowering.

Andrew Hill: Point of Departure

Starting listening just now. More modern sound, lots of out-exporations. It doesn't groove too much for me at this point, but this is the first listen to maybe repeated listening will pay off. Abstract. After 3 songs, I'm moving on to something else.

The Point Is...

I'm a big jazz fan, listening to mostly just jazz for some time now. There's lots of albums I haven't heard yet - even classic or groundbreaking albums that I should have heard by now. Anyhow, the point is, this is a collection of my first thoughts and impressions as I listen to more and more jazz...

Michel Petrucciani: Power of Three

Piano, guitar, saxophone. Petrucciani, Jim Hall, Wayne Shorter. A live recording in from the 1986 Montreux Jazz Festival, recorded when Pe...