Selected reviews


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Jazz Journal offers unrivalled coverage of recorded jazz old and new, with more than 20,000 words of expert comment and discography on recent jazz releases in every issue

Complete list of CDs reviewed in JJ June 2016 (see below for excerpts):
1705: Zone (BMC 221)
Alessi, Ralph: Quiver (ECM 477 0382)
Baggetta, Mike: Spectre (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 499)
Baker, Chet: Sings (DreamCovers 6100)
Barnes, Alan: One For Moll (Woodville 144)
Barnes, Alan: Kofi-Barnes Aggregation (Woodville 145)
Bechet, Sidney: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1189)
Blake, Ran: Chabrol Noir (Impulse! 476 275 )
Braga, Cristina/Brandenburger Symphoniker: Whisper (Enja 9632)
Brown, Clifford/Max Roach Quintet: The Complete Study In Brown (Essential Jazz Classics 55686)
Brubeck, Dave/Quartet With Paul Desmond: Birdland 1951-52/Newport 1955 (Solar 4569967)
Butler, Frank: The Stepper (Elemental 906084)
Byas, Don: New York - Paris 1938-1955 (Frémeaux & Associés 5622)
Cabadas, Jorge: …More Steps (Slam 568)
Caiola, Al: Deep In A Dream & Serenade In Blue (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 892)
Ciniglio, Francesco: Wood (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 496)
Clouts, Philip: Umoya (Odradek 503)
Criss, Sonny: Saturday Morning (Elemental 906086)
Crockatt, Sam: Mells Bells (Whirlwind 4681)
Del Val, Gonzalo: Koiné (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 498)
Dickerson, Walt: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1183)
Donegan, Dorothy: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1184)
Drew, Kenny: Home Is Where The Soul Is (Elemental 906082)
Edis, Paul: Just Like Me (Edis Music)
Evans, Bill: The Bill Evans Album (Columbia C 30855 - vinyl)
Ferguson, Maynard: The Ballad Style Of/Alive & Well In London (BGO 1206)
Figueiredo, Diego: Broken Bossa (Stunt 15172)
Five In Orbit: Tribulus Terrestris (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 495)
Gilberto, João/Stan Getz: Getz/Gilberto '76 (Resonance 2021)
Grimes, Tiny: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz 1188)
Hamilton, Chico/Original Quintet: The Complete Studio Recordings (Phono 870249)
Hampton, Slide/Octet Featuring Freddie Hubbard & Booker Little: Complete Studio Recordings (Phono 870244)
Hobart, Mike: Evidential (Another World Music 1 90394 17788 1)
Ives, Burl: The Wayfaring Stranger (Retrospective 4285)
Iyer, Vijay/Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (ECM 476 9956)
Jasper, Bobby: All Stars Band (Barclay 84023 - vinyl)
Jones, Thad/Mel Lewis/Orchestra: All My Yesterdays (Resonance 2023)
Kühn, Joachim/New Trio: Beauty & Truth (ACT 9816)
Lage, Julian: Arclight (Mack Avenue 1107)
Landfermann, Robert: Night Will Fall (Pirouet 3088)
Lightfoot, Terry: In Retrospect (Upbeat 269)
Linx, David/Brussels Jazz Orchestra: Brel (Jazz Village 9570125)
Martina, Gabriela: No White Shoes (
McPherson, Charles: Beautiful! (Elemental 906083)
Menza, Don: First Flight Complete Recordings (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 891)
Meurkens, Hendrik: Harmonicus Rex (Height Advantage 001)
Moreno, Joyce/Kenny Werner: Poesia (Pirouet 3087)
Motta, Ed: Perpetual Gateways (Membran 234111)
Mraz, George/Trio: Plucking And Bowing (Progressive 7038)
Nalley, Kim: Blues People (
Noelle, Sebastian: Shelter (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 494)
Novak, Larry: Invitation (Delmark 5022)
Öström, Magnus: Parachute (Diesel Music 54)
Pedersen, Wendy/Jim Gasior: We Two (Jimmy G's House Of Sound 88829538895 5)
Perkins, Bill/With Richie Kamuca & Art Pepper: Just Friends (Phono 870250)
Phillips, Esther: Original Album Series (Rhino Warner 0081227947705)
Phronesis: Parallax (Edition 1070)
Pintchik, Leslie: True North (Pintch Hard 003)
Poole, Richard/Marilyn Crispell/Gary Peacock: In Motion (Intakt 246)
Rainey, Tom: Hotel Grief (Intakt 256)
Reiter, Bernd: Workout At Bird's Eye (SteepleChase 33123)
Riepler, Hannes: Wild Life (Jellymould 022)
Rollins, Sonny: Holding The Stage/Road Shows, Vol.4 (Okeh 88875192752)
Rosen, Michael: Sweet 17 (Via Veneto Jazz 104)
Rotondi, Jim: Dark Blue (Smoke Sessions 1602)
Saward, Jill: Just For You (Secret 137)
Schaefer, Eric/The Shredz: Bliss (ACT 9818)
Scott, Dave: Brooklyn Aura (SteepleChase 31808)
Simone, Nina: The Complete 1959-61 Live Recordings (Essential Jazz Classics 55682)
Snarky Puppy: Family Dinner - Volume Two (GroundUp B0024506-00 CD01)
Snétberger, Ferenc: In Concert (ECM 473 2221)
Spinifex: Veiled (TryTone 559-061)
Spinifex: Maximus (TryTone 559-062)
Sportiello, Rossano/Nicki Parrott/Eddie Metz: Strictly Confidential (Arbors 19449)
Stockhausen, Markus/Florian Weber: Alba (ECM 475 9358)
SWR Big Band: Kings Of Swing Op. 2 (SWR Music 19008)
Terry, Clark: Swahili (Phono 870236)
Tingvall, Martin: Distance (Skip 9147)
Ulrik, Hans: Suite Of Time (Stunt 15112)
Urso, Phil: The Philosophy Of Urso - 1952-1959 Sessions (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 889)
Wallington, George/Quintet: Complete Live At The Café Bohemia (Phono 870237)
Ware, David/Apogee: Birth Of A Being (Aum Fidelity 096/097)
Westbrook, Forrest: The Remarkable (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 890)
Williams, Huw V.: Hon (Chaos Collective CC005)
Yellowjackets: Cohearence (Mack Avenue 1108)
Young, Lester: Complete Live At The Argyle 1950 (Solar 4569968)
Zimanowski, Gert: Ubuntu We Are One (Odradek 504)

Excerpts from the 87 CD reviews in this issue (see a free sample of full print reviews; subscribe to see 12 months of Jazz Journal
including over 20,000 words of CD review each issue):


This isn’t quite the same group as on Alessi’s fine 2013 Baida, where Jason Moran was the piano player, but it has the same thoughtful elegance and air of subtle distillation of everything from Miles Davis-era modality to Anthony Braxton’s early groups with Kenny Wheeler. Alessi has a brighter, tangier trumpet sound than Kenny, but
one that’s also stacked with sombre overtones. This being an ECM date rather than a turn-up-1-2-3-4 Criss Cross date, it starts quiet and then gets quieter still, with an air of almost diplomatic negotiation between the various group members before things settle down into a more rhythmic feel. Scratch is maybe the stand-out track, a restless but easy-moving essay in off-centre phrasing and guess-the-next-note melody; the unexpected dead-stop ending clinches it. (Brian Morton) ****

Baggetta’s material is broad in reference, from postbop to rock and country and what’s been called “free folk-jazz”. Guitar fans will admire his mastery of electronics and extended techniques deployed with his heavily modified Fender Stratocaster. But it’s his thoughtful, melodic playing that projects a strong identity while drawing on a range of sources. Keith Jarrett has a comparable eclecticism and range of influences, and though it’s true he’s a genius, Baggetta is a talented guy. A key influence is David Torn, whom he admired from high school for adventurousness, textural beauty and electronic manipulation. (Andy Hamilton) *****

When Bechet performed to ecstatic applause at the International Jazz Festival in Paris in May 1949, he was already a legendary figure in France, having played in Paris back in 1925 with the celebrated Révue Negre, starring Josephine Baker. Offers of European work now flooded in, and from then on Bechet worked extensively in France where he settled in 1951, becoming a hugely popular star throughout the 50s. Under contract to the French Vogue label, he recorded regularly with Claude Luter’s traditional jazz band as his main backing. This CD contains a selection of these initial recordings spanning 1949-51 as issued on four early Vogue LPs. Several bonus tracks and alternative takes are added. Although these are not Bechet’s finest band recordings, the homogeneous Creole-Gallic style has a special charm, whilst Bechet himself is quite magnificent throughout, especially on the blues tracks. Balance and recording quality were never always good, but have been much improved. (Hugh Rainey) ****

Caiola was a top session man in NYC in the 1950s, busy with radio and TV, long-time staff musician with CBS and, as this set demonstrates, a steady jazz guitarist. These tracks are made up from two Savoy LPs and present laid-back music ideal for relaxing or late-night listening. Caiola gets romantic and lyrical on pieces like Deep In A Dream and You Are Too Beautiful and there is good support from Hank Jones, Clyde Lombardi and Kenny Clarke, practically the house rhythm section at Savoy in those days. The leader wrote three pieces and the rest are solid standards, including one or two like Indian Summer that are not heard that often. On first issue these Savoy discs probably came and went swiftly without selling many copies but reissued as a two for one, represent good value and good music for relaxation. (Derek Ansell) ****

Sonny Criss returned to the studios in 1975 after a six-year absence from the scene during which he had suffered a nervous breakdown following which he did voluntary work with children and recovering alcoholics. Earlier in his career he had been accused of being a Charlie Parker clone by those who didn’t know better but this excellent programme shows that he was his own man albeit with, at times, nods to Bird’s musical ideas. A most welcome release showcasing a great open-hearted master of the alto saxophone. (Brian Robinson) *****

Walt Dickerson tends to get overlooked in the history of the jazz organ: not as ebullient as Lionel Hampton or as cool as Milt Jackson, he then got over-shadowed by the more extrovert performances of Jimmy Smith and the Hammond gang. And don’t even mention Larry Young. Taking a decade out from the mid-1960s didn’t much help his case either. But he is worth remembering, as his first four records, all on the New Jazz off-shoot of Prestige and now collected together by Avid, testify. Best of all is the concluding To My Queen, graced by one of the rare sideman appearances by pianist Andrew Hill and some excellent bass work from George Tucker, Dickerson’s favourite bass man. The lengthy title track is a suite of a deeply felt emotion and understanding. Hill takes his time to find his feet, but is assured and confident when he does. More Dickerson lingers in the archive, including sets with Sun Ra and Jamaaladeen Tacuma: I await their release with great interest. (Simon Adams) ****

This is probably the best remembered of Hamilton’s groups. The refined sound, unusual instrumentation and understated solos often caused their music to be referred to as chamber jazz. As well as being a superbly coordinated whole the group was also a showcase for the talents of its individual members. The disc consists of mostly reflective, gentle music, inspired by the fine, crisp, musical drumming of the leader. Fans will need no second bidding; for others this disc is well worth checking out. (Brian Robinson) ****

Now in his mid-70s, Wadada Leo Smith has been highly productive recently, releasing a series of much acclaimed albums for both American and Finnish labels. His latest release finds him back on ECM for the first time since 1993’s Kulture Jazz. His partner here is the young piano prodigy Vijay Iyer, a member of his Golden Quartet. Their set consists of two shortish pieces bookending the lengthy title track, a seven-part suite dedicated to the Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi. Iyer is very much in the supporting role, his often gentle, probing accompaniment the perfect foil for Smith’s high-end blears and smears of notes. At times their conversation is lyrical, at others tumultuous. Each part of the suite stands on its own, but cumulatively its impact is intense, an exemplary exercise in pure music making. (Simon Adams) ****

These engaging performances by one of the finest jazz orchestras of all time are important on several counts. Released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band’s first public appearances at the Village Vanguard in February 1966, they are supplemented by another gig made just over a month later. Never issued in their entirety, they qualify as the Dead Sea Scrolls of big band jazz. Co-leaders Jones and Lewis exhorted, cajoled and led their sidemen through a dazzling array of complex but open-ended compositions – mainly by the mercurial Jones – once characterised by Charles Mingus as “Bartok with valves”. All soloists are helpfully identified in the hefty accompanying booklet, which also contains interviews with surviving members of the band, and affectionate memoirs by producers Zev Feldman and Chris Smith, and George Klabin, founder of Resonance Records. Here are 17 seminal examples of an emerging form of post-bop big band swing – adventurous, innovative and exciting. This will almost certainly be one of my records of the year – but don’t wait for the poll, get it now. (John White) *****

Retrospective appraisals of 1950s British “trad” bands tend to assume that a certain kind of playing was set in stone and continued unchanged until the bandleader and the other musicians bowed out in some pop-saturated world. Terry Lightfoot, who died in 2013, would have had none of that. Not only did the clarinettist’s particular brand of New Orleans revival music embrace, within limits, other related styles and eras, it was also determined to keep going. Barber and his band were almost always playing. Lightfoot specialists might argue, if they are not stuck in the distant past, that this was one of his best bands in using neatness and discipline to ratchet up the excitement. The arrangements were by band members Rhodes, Bates and Lightfoot himself, and the session was produced by Liz Biddle, to whose Retrospect series for Upbeat this is an attractive addition. (Nigel Jarrett) ****

Before these tracks were recorded, Menza’s experience had been with Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Woody Herman; trombonist Frank Rosolino had worked with Gene Krupa, Conte Candoli and many other notables. So this is modernish swing. The sax player and the trombonist are vigorous foils for each other, the disc opening with an uptempo blues in which Menza’s bustling approach and Rosolino’s almost unbelievable facility create a storming dialogue. Alan Broadbent – a New Zealander by birth but a long-term West Coast hand, having arranged for Woody Herman – plays a vintage form of synth in the first two numbers. In the beautiful ballad Magnolia Rose though, his piano solo is articulate and with an elegant touch. Robust and at times tender, this disc is full of surprises. (Anthony Troon) ****

These five albums are from Phillips' Atlantic period 1966-1977, impressively showcasing her chameleon-like ability to perform in several different genres: jazz, but also country, pop, soul and blues. At her best, though, Phillips is a jazz singer through and through, and this is attested to most effectively on the fifth album in this collection, Confessin’ The Blues. On this we’re treated to a swinging, inventive take on I Love Paris, her vocal both agile and forceful, free and controlled (plus listen out for the great electric piano solo from Jack Wilson). Other standout tracks on this album include the ultra bluesy I Wonder, where her voice rings with a glossy sincerity. Bye Bye Blackbird is half-sung, half-spoken, her repeated refrains and embellishments recalling the likes of Janis Joplin or Otis Redding. Comparisons with Dinah Washington are also easily made; both share a somewhat sharp yet kittenish delivery. These are some of the last albums released by Phillips (she died in 1984) but they represent her at the height of her vocal prowess, and together give a comprehensive overview of her abilities. (Sally Evans-Darby) ****

This latest offering from the popular Snarky Puppy finds the collective backing a series of guest artists, a number of which have, at the very most, a tenuous link to jazz. The music sits roughly in the soul and R&B area and only during the second half of the eight tracks are we treated to substantial improvisation. Most committed jazzers (or what we know of our core readership) are unlikely to find anything of lasting interest, even though the mainly funky rhythms might lead to a little toe-tapping. The three stars are for what it represents rather than its significance. (Peter Gamble) ***

David S. Ware, who died in 2012, was one of the most dedicated musicians in free improvisation. Birth Of A Being was his debut as leader and was first released on HatHut in 1979. CD1 constitutes the original album, whilst CD2 is previously unreleased material from the same session. Those devoted to the brazenly experimental and wanting a good example of Ware in full flow could do worse than start here for he uses all the tricks in the freedom armoury – tonal variation, genuinely exciting rhythmic impetus and a refusal to resort to accepted licks. Ware should always be regarded as an essential figure in a niche section of the music we love. (Peter Gamble) ****

Thirty-five years on from its first eponymous release, the group has come a long way. Then, led by guitarist and founder member Robben Ford, it ploughed a funky furrow somewhere between the Brecker Brothers and Weather Report and basked in kaleidoscopic rays of fusion, courtesy of Ford’s scintillating guitar work. Here, following two impressively boisterous opening salvos, the quieter Anticipation features a vibrant bass solo, followed by Mintzer’s 6/8 groove-laden Inevitable Outcome with the saxophonist on Electronic Wind Instrument. Ferrante’s Trane Changing, co-penned with earlier YJ bassist Felix Pastorius, is a reharmonization of Giant Steps and a respectful reminder of Coltrane’s classic. Eddie’s In The House is a straightahead paean to the great Eddie Harris and specifically takes its cue from the timeless Compared To What from Les McCann’s and Eddie Harris’s brilliant Swiss Movement. Shenandoah is gratifyingly less mawkish than might be expected, Bob Mintzer’s tenor succinctly sketching out the famous melody with an appropriately restrained accompaniment from the group. (Roger Farbey) ****


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