Selected reviews


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Jazz Journal offers unrivalled coverage of recorded jazz old and new. We carry more than 20,000 words of expert comment and discography on recent jazz issues in every edition

Complete list of CDs reviewed in JJ July 2014 (see below for excerpts):
Adderley, Cannonball/Bill Evans: The Legendary Quartet/Quintet Sessions (American Jazz Classics 99088)
Allen, Eddie: Push (Edjalen Music 505)
Ammons, Gene: Blue Groove + Preachin' (Groove Hut 66719)
Andrews Sisters: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (Retrospective 4238)
Axisa, Nadine: Velvet (
Barber, Chris: Jazz Me Blues - The 70s (Lake 332)
Barber, Diego: Tales (Sunnyside 1346)
Birchall, Nat: Divine Harmony In Duende Jazz Bar (Sound Soul And Spirit 003)
Boswell Sisters, The: Shout, Sister, Shout! (Retrospective 4242)
Cardenas, Steve: Melody In A Dream (Sunnyside 1297)
Carter, Benny: Can Can And Everything Goes (American Jazz Classics 99089)
Christopher, Evan: Django À La Créole (Frémeaux & Associés 8501)
Clynes, Susan: Life Is… (MoonJune 061)
Collier, Graham: Luminosity (GCM 2014)
Coltrane, John: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz AMSC 1115)
Copeland, Shemekia: 33⅓ (Concord 7233199)
Cosmosamatics, The: Jazz-Maalika (Saptakjazz 001)
Culbertson, Brian: Another Long Night Out (BCM 12-199420)
Danes, Anna: Longing (DLG 1001)
Davis, Eddie "Lockjaw": Love Calls (RCA Victor LSP 3882, vinyl)
Davis, Miles/Quartet: The 1951-1957 Studio Recordings (American Jazz Classics 99092)
El'Zabar's, Kahil/Ritual Trio: Follow The Sun (Delmark 5013)
Ensemble Denada: Windfall (Ozella 053)
Escoffery, Wayne: Live At Firehouse 12 (Sunnyside 1379)
Fitzgerald, Ella: Swings Gently With Nelson + Sings Broadway (Essential Jazz Classics 55624)
Foster, Frank: The Loud Minority (Beat Goes Public 276)
Fox, Danny: Wide Eyed (Hot Cup 133)
Galvin, Elliot: Dreamland (Chaos Collective 003)
Garland, Tim: Songs To The North Sky (Edition 1050)
Getz, Stan: The Complete Roost Studio Sessions (American Jazz Classics 99091)
Gibbs, Louise: 7 Deadly Sings (33Xtreme 003)
Goodman, Benny: B.G. In Hi-Fi (Essential Jazz Classics 55625)
Green, Grant: Remembering (Essential Jazz Classics 55626)
Hancock, Herbie: Takin' Off (Essential Jazz Classics 55630)
Hatchery, Tiger: Sun Worship (ESP 5003)
Held, Pablo: Elders (Pirouet 3075)
Hoff, Jan Gunnar: Fly North! (Losen 119)
Holiday, Billie: The Complete 1952-1957 Small Group Studio Sessions (Masterworks Series 707)
Iyer, Vijay: Mutations ECM 376 4798
Jamal, Ahmad: The Complete 1961 Alhambra Performances (Essential Jazz Classics 55629)
Jansson, Kjell: At Nefertiti Again (Imogena 200)
Jordan, Sheila: Portrait Of Sheila (American Jazz Classics 99086)
Jungr, Barb: Hard Rain (Kristalyn 1)
Kirk, Roland: Third Dimension (Bethlehem 6064, vinyl)
Kjaergaard, Soren: Syvmileskridt (Ilk 215, vinyl)
Kühn & Kruglov: Moscow (ACT 9623)
Kühn, Joachim: Birthday Edition (ACT 6017)
Lewis, George: Keeper Of The Flame (Storyville 1088613)
Lovise, Rita: Craving Coffee (Losen 127)
Martensson, Emilia: Ana Babel (14126)
McLaughlin, John/The 4th Dimension: The Boston Record (Abstract Logix 042)
Monocled Man: Southern Drawl (Whirlwind 4649)
Mullen, Jim: Catch My Drift (Diving Duck 019)
Neset, Marius: Lion (ACT 9031)
Paich, Marty: The Broadway Bit + I Get A Boot Out Of You (American Jazz Classics 99087)
Perry, Rich: Nocturne (Steeplechase 31776)
Peterson, Oscar/Ben Webster: During This Time (Art of Groove 80212)
Pigfoot: 21st Century Acid Trad (Village Life 131112)
Plotkin, James/Paal Nilssen-Love: Death Rattle (Runegrammofon 2148)
Porter, Gregory et al: Great Voices Of Harlem (PAO 11210)
Rushing, Jimmy: The Jazz Odyssey + Jimmy Rushing & Smith Girls (Phoenix 131600)
Salamon, Samo: 2Alto (SteepleChase 33112)
Sax Appeal: Funkerdeen (Jazzizit 1460)
Scala, Alessandro: Viaggio Stellare (Schema 466)
Scott-Heron, Gil: Pieces Of A Man (Beat Goes Public 274)
Smith, Lonnie Liston: Astral Traveling (Beat Goes Public 273)
Starr, Eric: Such Is Life (
Sutton, Tierney: After Blue (Challenge/BFM 77056)
Taylor, Cecil: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz AMSC 1116)
Tobin, Christine: A Thousand Kisses Deep (Trail Belle 03)
Unsworth, Adam: Balance (Acoustical Concepts 48)
Vallon, Colin: Le Vent (ECM 376 2782)
Various: Rare And Obscure 1925-1932, Unissued On 78s (Retrieval 79076)
Various: America! Jazz The Birth Of Swing (Le Chant Du Monde 274 2335 36)
Vuust, Clara: Here's To Love (Storyville 1014288)
Vuust, Peter/Veronica Mortensen: September Song (Imogena 195)
Wesseltoft, Bugge: OK World (Jazzland 376 365-5)

Excerpts from the 77 CD reviews in this issue (full print reviews run up to 300 words and include discography - subscribe here):

Describing these sessions as “The Legendary” is perhaps going a bit far. Legendary would apply to recordings like Davis’s Milestones and Kind Of Blue, the latter featuring both Cannon and Evans and made around this time, but these were really just run of the mill Riverside releases – good, but more than likely trading on the success and quality of the above mentioned discs. The first session with the two Jones rhythm men works well enough with Evans’ delicate solo filigrees contrasting nicely with Cannon’s big fat, bluesy alto. Add the trumpet lines of Blue Mitchell and you have a nice hard-bop mix. And this issue benefits from providing all the alternates of Minority and Nardis. (Derek Ansell) ****

I once chatted briefly with Nat Birchall after a show. He was playing alongside fellow Lancastrian Matt Halsall, the trumpet player. He came over as a supremely centered and serene person, which is pretty much what you’d expect listening to his music. This cracking recording, made over two nights in a small Greek jazz bar, captures Birchall stretching out with tunes from earlier albums, especially last year’s World Without Form. Like his mentor, Birchall manages to sustain intensity without risking the listener becoming inured, dispensing pure emotion through the modal medium, carrying his sidemen with him on the transcendental wave. Maybe they put more than fluoride in the Manchester water? (Garry Booth) ****

The first live album by this remarkable group contains performances recorded in the UK in 2012, towards the end of a lengthy international tour. As the group’s name and instrumentation suggest, its style basically applies a broad-based traditional New Orleans Creole approach to Reinhardt’s gypsy swing. But the talented New Orleans clarinettist Evan Christopher (whose mentor, surprisingly, was Tony Scott) is at pains to point out that many other seasonings are added to this multicultural musical gumbo. Christopher’s piquant Creole style is vibrantly expressive, notably so in imaginative interpretations of Dear Old Southland and The Mooche. His colleagues are similarly impressive, contributing colourful solos and close rapport in ensemble. Blenkhorne’s guitar in Manoir De Mes Reves is quite outstanding. An exceptionally fine album, thoughtfully planned with unusual care, and very skilfully performed. (Hugh Rainey) *****

Graham Collier’s brilliance lay in setting down a framework which would ignite a creative spark and let his hand-picked musicians take it on what was basically an uncharted flight. To some extent, this mirrored the Ellington and Mingus approach: choose the players you admire, write with them in mind, set them free. But obviously the Collier outcome would be significantly different. There was always a European/English flavour to his concept which set it apart – for example, while never depending on blues and spiritual cadences, there was sometimes a subtle acknowledgement of them. And this absorbing brace of adventurous suites has all of the composer’s great flair for powerful attack combined with whimsical mischief. These are recordings that had to be made and stand as an apposite memorial to a great talent. (Anthony Troon) *****

These New York-based musicians have put together one of the most intriguing piano trio albums that I’ve heard for quite some time. The trio, formed in 2008, sounds everything from intimate, reflective and chamber-like to orchestral, but not at all bombastic, and they remind me more than a little of the UK-based Neil Cowley Trio, but there’s more detail and interplay on offer here. The dramatic, motivic compositional style of Sterling opens this fine set of Fox originals with a riff-based, but slightly free-feeling intro, setting the tone for the remainder of the album with its seamless integration of composed themes and improvisations. If your taste in piano trio trios tends towards the more conventional in a jazz sense, then at times this album will be challenging, but it really is worth a listen. (Dave Jones) *****

Brian Morton’s astute profile of Garland (JJ, May 2014) gives you all the background you’ll ever need for this handsome double-disc set. A near complete artistic monogram, it makes a superb point of entry for anybody yet to investigate Garland’s growing body of work. Effectively bidding farewell to one phase of his career and leaving a calling card for the next, the saxophonist’s Edition debut falls into two very distinct halves. Disc one captures the vibrant post-fusion sounds of his expandable Lighthouse trio, its sound very much of the contemporary Euro-jazz mainstream. The second disc is grander, an often cinematic journey chronicling the saxophonist/composer’s relationship with England’s most northerly outpost. Unlikely ever to replace Fog On The Tyne in local folklore, it is nevertheless an eloquent portrait of the cloudy landscapes to which Garland was displaced for almost a decade. (Fred Grand) ***

BENNY GOODMAN: B.G. IN HI-FI (Essential Jazz Classics)
According to the notes this CD consists of all existing recordings that Goodman made for Capitol in 1954. With the exception of the final four tracks it would seem that all have been reissued on CD before. This results, of course, in many Goodman fans already having the album in their collection. The full band consisting of studio magicians put together for the occasion are, as one would expect, a really good swinging outfit providing excellent support for Goodman’s clarinet on a series of 12 tunes with arrangements mainly by Fletcher Henderson although the notes rather misleadingly allocate the arrangements to Neal Hefti. This of course was the original 1954 issue, which was recorded using the latest hi-fi techniques, hence the title. Overall, a very good Goodman album and if you have not got the original or the previous reissue then this should be for you. (Jerry Brown) ****

This is a difficult album to categorise and describe in the context of a review for a jazz publication, because it sounds more like a series of academic exercises in 20th century classical music than a contemporary jazz album. The ECM press release describes Mutations I-X (about 75% of the album’s duration) as having “some decisive improvisational interventions in notated music”, and we know that the history of classical music is littered with improvisation of different types, so if it matters, this music is not necessarily jazz, but rather a mixture of elements from minimalism, chance music, impressionism, and electronics from the 20th century classical music of, e.g., Steve Reich and Claude Debussy amongst others. After hearing the album closed by When We’re Gone, fans of Iyer’s previous jazz orientated work might be left wondering where the jazz has gone. (Dave Jones) ***

If there is such a thing as a “musician’s singer”, Sheila Jordan must be the epitome. This album takes us back to her beginnings – her very first album from 1963, after which she didn’t record again until 1975. Jordan’s sound is one of untamed youthfulness throughout these 14 tracks, her vocals unpredictable and somewhat capricious; it is impossible to guess, for example, where she will land on the last note of Am I Blue until she gets there. A brash, ballsy Let’s The Face The Music is just over one minute long but captures all the song needs to: a coaxing entreaty to live in the moment. Her extremely flexible vocals go off like a firework in the uptempo arrangements, such as in Laugh, Laugh, Laugh, which begins moderately but then bursts into barely contained frenzy. It’s a cracker of an album. Essential listening for any budding vocalist. (Sally Evans-Darby) *****

Is this McLaughlin’s best group since Mahavishnu Mk I? It’s tempting to say so, and there’s an obvious point of comparison in the closing read of You Know You Know. The crowd recognises it immediately and gives itself a great ovation, but it’s a terrific version, tight to the original on The Inner Mounting Flame (with a nice quote of Miles’s Jean-Pierre), but suffused with something not necessarily new but re-emergent from Johnny Mac, which is an awareness of the blues. And that, perhaps unexpectedly given the lineup here, is the strongest feeling that comes from the set. Even when the language is tinged with Latin or guitar-rock mannerisms, there is always a blues “feel” at least. It helps with any group to have more than one genius on the stand, and Gary Husband is overdue some kind of major profiling overhaul. (Brian Morton) ****

Jim Mullen has long refused to do the concept album and once again sidesteps the marketing men. The “concept” here was simply to follow the inspiration of jazz records of old, “made by a bunch of guys deciding on the spot what to play”. In doing so, he’s pulled up some rarely heard pieces. These include Toots Thielemans’ dedication to his wife For My Lady and AC Jobim’s Samba De Aviao in an arrangement by Eliane Elias, the changes of which Jim urges us to check out. The grade A jazz guitar lines that have made Jim one of the most distinctive guitarists in the world are here in abundance; I have heard no-one else do quite what Jim does in “blueing” the changes on For My Lady; anybody can play a blues scale but Jim has the rare ability to turn those hackneyed tones into a highly personal signature. (Mark Gilbert) ****


This visual and aural treat of a package reunites for the last time saxophonist Ben Webster and pianist Oscar Peterson, who had been frequent collaborators for 20 years, often at the behest of producer Norman Granz. Previously unissued, the set is intelligently filmed and with superb sound. The two-disc set offers the choice between both seeing and hearing or alternatively listening only, with the added bonus on the CD of In A Mellow Tone, which wasn’t filmed. Webster, with only nine months left on his body clock, maintained the spirit, warmth and exuberance that had always characterised his work right up to the end. He enjoyed an obviously close rapport with Oscar, and both men look and sound as if they are thoroughly enjoying themselves. Peterson plays beautifully, indicating what a great accompanist he could be when in the right mood. His solos here are never too extravagant or excessive. The quartet possessed an additional solo voice in the person of the technically brilliant but ever swinging NHØP, who had recently joined Oscar. A splendid memoir of a great jazz evening. (Mark Gardner) *****

Oh deep joy: something completely different to refresh the jaded critic’s palette. The delightfully named Pigfoot’s debut album, put out on drummer Paul Clarvis’s own label, is indeed 21st century acid trad. Eight classic themes drawn from the glory days of 20s/30s New Orleans and Chicago have been reimagined and somewhat astringently re-executed to brilliant, albeit lopsided, effect. Imagine being in a backstreet bar in the Big Easy during Mardi Gras and finding that Don Cherry and Stan Tracey have joined in the fun. Pigfoot don’t parody the music however – they simply have the virtuosity to take it outside itself, somewhat precariously, and then bring it home safe. It’s a beautifully democratic affair with wonky solo parts and deliberately sour harmonies traded evenly around the quartet, rhythms rising and falling between a slow drag to an urgent bustle. (Garry Booth) ****


In the January 2014 issue I noted the outstanding entertainment value provided by Derek Nash, and the same observation applies to his band Sax Appeal, heard here on the sixth album in its 30-year history. It brings to mind Derek’s other band, Protect The Beat, in that whatever the style – funk, Latin, swing or soulful ballad – rhythm is to the fore, both in ubiquitously firm pulses and syncopated variations. The opening Funkerdeen (born of an Aberdeen night rendered sleepless by nearby fights and parties) recalls Bob Mintzer’s Mr. Fonebone with its two-beat bass passages and shuffle beats, and Mintzer fans will happily connect with Sax Appeal’s five-sax sound and rhythmic disposition. But the stylistic spectrum probably ranges wider. This sort of thing is probably out of fashion among the self-appointed metropolitan trendsetters but it answers in abundance the still-strong demand for stylistically and technically comprehensive jazz playing. (Mark Gilbert) ****

VARIOUS: RARE AND OBSCURE 1925-1932 UNISSUED ON 78S (Retrieval 79076)
You may well think that you have some of the tracks already and therefore be puzzled by the album title of “Unissued On 78s”. However, most of the tracks on the CD are alternative takes to those used on the original 78 rpm releases and were never issued on 78. Some have been issued on LP albums and a few on CDs. The best of the recordings heard here are the pair by Tony Parenti, which swing nicely and have good solos. The remaining band tracks are what is generally known as hot dance music. The booklet includes full discographical details including the all-important take numbers. There is also an essay by Chris Ellis with background to the bands that are represented. The transfers from test pressings and other sources are of good quality especially considering the age of the recordings. (George Hulme) ****


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