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RECORD REVIEWS

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 February 2017 (see below for excerpts):
Alexander, Monty: Montreux Alexander, Live! At The Montreux Festival (MPS 0211345MSW)
Allison, Mose: I'm Not Talkin'/The Song Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1971 (Beat Goes Public 304)
Armstrong, Louis/All Stars: Stuttgart 1959 (Jazz Haus 462)
Baker, Chet/Bud Shank: The James Dean Story (Essential Jazz Classics 55703)
Barrett, Darren/Trumpet Vibes: The Music Of Amy Winehouse (dB Studios/darrenbarrett.com)
Basia: The Sweetest Illusion (Cherry Pop 174)
Björkenheim, Raoul/Ecstasy: Out Of The Blue (Cuneiform 413)
Blix, Øystein: Conditions (Losen 156)
Brunious, Wendell/Louis Nelson: In The Tradition/April In New Orleans (GHB BCD-541)
Caine, Uri: Calibrated Thickness (816 Music 1502)
Coker, Jerry: Modern Music (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 917)
Dahanukar, Martin: Traumesrauschen (Skip 9132)
Davis, Kris: Duopoly Pyroclastic 01/02 – CD & DVD)
Davis, Miles: Miles Davis Quintet/Freedom Jazz Dance (Columbia Legacy 88985357372)
Day & Taxi: Way (Percaso 34)
Falanga, Carlos: Quasar (Fresh Sound FSNT 515)
Farlow, Tal: Trilogy (Inner City 1099)
Ferri/Ballabene/Bindelli: Strade (Slam 574)
Hancock, Herbie: The Early Years/Selected Recordings 1961-62 (Acrobat 3178)
Hays, Kevin/New Day Trio: North (Sunnyside 1464)
Held, Pablo: Lineage (Pirouet 3094)
Higgins, Eddie: Great Trio Sessions (Phono 870269)
Horn, Shirley: Live At The 4 Queens (Resonance 2015)
I.P.A.: I Just Did Say Something (Cuneiform 422)
Jarrett, Keith: A Multitude Of Angels (ECM 570 2466)
Jensen, Ingrid/& Christine: Infinitude (Whirlwind 4694)
Johänntgen, Nicole: Henry (C05699 / info@nicolejohaenntgen.com)
Johnson, Emma: Clarinet Goes To Town (Nimbus 6335)
Joseph, Don: A Tribute To The Jazz Poetry Of Don Joseph (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 919)
KoGo Project: Do It (Kate Ockenden 2016)
Koller, Hans: Heart And Soul (Fresh Sound FSNT 513)
Korb, Kristin: Beyond The Moon (DoubleK Music 161116)
Landgren, Nils: Christmas With My Friends V (ACT 9830)
Lara, Santiago: Flamenco/Tribute To Pat Metheny (Warner Spain 9029596535)
Lauren, Michael/All Stars: Once Upon A Time In Portugal (Why Not Music)
Le Boeuf Brothers + Jack Quartet: Imaginist (New Focus Recordings PAN06 837813 8396 73)
Led Bib: Umbrella Weather (RareNoise 071)
Lee, Peggy: Swingin' Brightly And Gently (Blue Moon 880)
Legrand, Michel: Legrand Jazz + Legrand Piano (Phono 870266)
López-Nessa, Harold: El Viaje (Mack Avenue 1114)
Luter, Claude: A Saint-Germain-Des-Prés (Milan 399 881)
Marshall, Dominic J: The Triolithic (Challenge 73429)
McCall, Mary Ann: Complete Recordings 1950-1959 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 918)
Modern Jazz Quartet: Live In Paris 1960-1961 (Frémeaux & Associés 5645)
Monocled Man: We Drift Meridian (Whirlwind 4692)
Moon Hooch: Red Sky (Hornblow/Palmetto 10)
Naima: Bye (Cuneiform 418)
Newman, Joe: The Happy Cats (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 914)
Pavillon: Strong Tea (Pavillon 002)
Price, Nigel/Organ Trio: Heads & Tales Volume 2 (Whirlwind 4695)
Quigley, Ryan: What Doesn't Kill You (Whirlwind 4691)
Ranglin, Ernest: Below The Bassline/Memories Of Barber Mack (Island CAROLR048)
Ross, Annie: Sings A Handful Of Songs (El Records 319)
Rossy, Jorge: Stay There (Pirouet 3096)
Rueckert, Jochen: Charm Offensive Pirouet PIT3095)
Schneit, Adam: Light Shines In (Fresh Sound FSNT 518)
Smith, Jimmy: The Cat Strikes Again (Inner City 1121)
Smith, Jimmy/Trio With Kenny Burrell: Complete 1957-59 Sessions (Phono 870267)
Smith, Wadada Leo: America's National Parks (Cuneiform 430/431)
Sons Of Sauter-Finegan: The The Sons Of Sauter-Finegan (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 915)
Stigers, Curtis: One More For The Road/With The Danish Radio Big Band (Concord Jazz, no number)
Stream (Vazquez/Lee/Hirshfield): Second Stream (Fresh Sound FSNT 514)
Stryker, Dave: Eight Track II (Strikezone 8814)
Sugar Hill Trio: The Drive (Goschart Music 701197395114)
Sun Ra: Cosmos (Inner City 1020)
Sun Ra: Fate In A Pleasant Mood + Bad And Beautiful (Phono 870268)
Sun Ra: Singles/The Definitive 45s Collection 1952-1991 (Strut 148)
Teagarden, Jack/Earl Hines/All Stars: In Concert Manchester Free Trade Hall 1957 (Upbeat 258)
Thornton, Teri: Lullaby Of The Leaves (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 913)
Travis, Nick: How About You? (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 912)
Unexpected: Odisseo (Fresh Sound FSNT 517)
V.I.P. Trio (Cedar Walton, Pat Senatore, Billy Higgins): Standards (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 916)
Various: Paris 1945 (Milan 399 845)
Various: Delta Blues Music (Rough Guides 1353)
Vicari, Andrea: The Mirror (33JAZZ255)
Wallumrød, Christian: Kurzsam And Fulger (Hubro 2573)
Westbrook, Mike: Paris (ASC 166)
Youssef, Dhafer: Diwan Of Beauty And Odd (Okeh 88985364092)


Excerpts from the 78 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):

DARREN BARRETT TRUMPET VIBES: THE MUSIC OF AMY WINEHOUSE (darrenbarrett.com)
Barrett’s résumé is impressive. He’s a winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, an associate professor at Berklee College of Music and has had professional collaborations with Elvin Jones, Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. His Jamaican roots have stimulated many reggae fusions within his neo-bop recordings. This is an enjoyable listen for Winehouse fans. The production and performance values are exemplary. Barrett’s command of his instrument and Teters’ naturally soulful timbre both capture the essence and musicality of Winehouse’s style. His ensemble also provides faultless accompaniment on each track. The arrangements are near carbon copies of the originals. For sure a man of Barrett’s talent and ability could add more unique touches to all these pieces as well as offering high-quality tribute, much as Winehouse did with The Zutons’ Valerie. (Jason Balzarano) ***

BASIA: THE SWEETEST ILLUSION (Cherry Pop)
Originally released in 1994, The Sweetest Illusion is a fine slice of pop-jazz characterised by crisp production, vibrant playing and Basia’s attractive vocals. Most of the songs are upbeat, danceable and sunny but some of her best performances come on slower songs such as Yearning. This “deluxe edition” gets two extra CDs, mostly instrumental versions and remixes, which will please Basia completists but offer little of interest to the rest of us. However, CD2 features Basia’s irresistibly slinky take on Waters Of March – with Andy Sheppard on saxes – and a remix of Half A Minute which is an absolute joy. (Bruce Lindsay) ***

JERRY COKER: COMPOSES, ARRANGES, PLAYS: MODERN MUSIC FROM INDIANA UNIVERSITY AND THE BAY AREA 1955-1956 (Fresh Sound)
Jerry Coker came out of Indiana University to work with Woody Herman, later with Stan Kenton, recorded a little on his own account and then went back to a career of freelancing, teaching and writing. As a player, he had something of Lester Young about him, as well an audible affection for the Four Brothers sound. There’s nothing here that will set the world on fire, but there’s a great deal to admire and enjoy. Coker was aware of bop, as Kigeria [sic] shows, but his default setting was harmonically elegant swing, with hints of modalism and a palette that will lead most blindfolded listeners to suspect a West Coast provenance. The West Coast tracks actually come from the Mel Lewis 12” Got ’Cha and from the shared-credit Intro To Jazz, which majored on Salvini’s dryly elegant dancehall swing; some good players in there, too, of course. The final tracks come from the Vogue 10” The Third Herdmen In Paris discs, which have always been worth having, even if only as footnotes to that great band’s output. (Brian Morton) ***

MILES DAVIS: FREEDOM JAZZ DANCE: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 5 (Columbia Legacy)
Celebrating the album’s 50th anniversary, the latest Legacy set features the complete available material from the Miles Smiles sessions 1966-7 – which also yielded tracks that appeared on Nefertiti (1968) and Water Babies (1976). This is the first ever release of the complete session reels for a Miles Columbia album. Insights gained into the second great quintet’s manner of working make the release very worthwhile. We experience a moment of artistic inspiration when, after a Nefertiti take falters, Davis says: “Hey man, what are we meant to be doing? We’re just playing the tune, not playing our solos”. The ensuing discussion results in agreement to present the piece without solos – not a theme in unison, but a looser heterophony, that became a landmark. The set is a reminder of how Hancock, with Ron Carter and Tony Williams, revolutionised traditional concepts of the rhythm section, introducing new levels of improvisational freedom. The profane dialogue features Miles’s favourite expletive – this is a family publication, but what the hell, the release is a mother-fucker. (Andy Hamilton) *****

KEITH JARRETT: A MULTITUDE OF ANGELS (ECM)
A Multitude Of Angels documents four nights of performances from Modena, Ferrara, Turin and Genova. It’s a beautifully presented box set with some ethereal artwork on the cover in colour. This is a pleasant change from ECM’s usual bleak and monochromatic offering. After these 1996 concerts, Jarrett didn’t perform in public again for two years. They were also the last concerts he played without breaks within each set and as such represent something of a pinnacle in his career. The quality is excellent, helped by an appreciative audience who knew how to remain silent. This despite Jarrett describing himself at the time as being “sick and amazingly weak”. The music itself is evocative, spiritual and pure. The overall effect is serene, emotional, tearful, happy, sad and a whole catalogue of other emotions. Jarrett swears the angels were with him on those four nights – hence the title. Who would doubt it? I only wish I had been there as well. (Ian Lomax) *****

DON JOSEPH: A TRIBUTE TO THE JAZZ POETRY OF DON JOSEPH (Fresh Sound)

During the 50s Don Joseph was part of the New York jazz underground that included a select group of trumpeters who didn’t record often enough, including Dick Sherman, Jerry Lloyd, Tony Fruscella, Jon Eardley and Phil Sunkel. Joseph and Fruscella were particular favourites of Jack Kerouac, who mentions them both in his book Lonesome Traveller. Stylistically they were all products of the bebop revolution while retaining a delicate lyricism that owed something to Bobby Hackett – rather like their contemporary on the West Coast, Don Fagerquist. Jordi Pujol’s welcome compilation is a most timely reminder of Joseph’s artistry. He has two intimate ballad readings with Chuck Wayne – Embraceable You and Lover Man – where he hardly moves out of the lower register in lyrical performances worthy of Chet Baker at his very best. His contribution to All The Things You Are is one of many highlights on a chart that benefits from Gerry Mulligan’s imaginative reconstruction of the theme. The 1952 tracks with Dave Schildkraut are a bonus. Previously thought to date from 1961, they are making their first appearance here on CD. (Gordon Jack) *****

KRISTIN KORB: BEYOND THE MOON (DoubleK Music)

Bassist and singer Kristin Korb, subject of a My Instrument column in JJ September 2014, relocated from the USA to Denmark in 2011. However, as Beyond The Moon ably demonstrates she’s still in tune with the Great American Songbook. For this, her eighth album, she’s concentrating on one particular part of the songbook, the lyrics of Johnny Mercer. Korb wisely refuses to stray too far from the legendary melodies of songs like Moon River and Too Marvelous For Words although she’s not averse to adding some effective shifts in tempo on Jeepers Creepers, which also acts as a showcase for Snorre Kirk’s swinging brush work. Korb is a subtle vocalist who swings, and her enthusiasm is palpable. When researching Mercer’s papers at Georgia State University Korb found two undated sets of Mercer’s lyrics, both of which were annotated with the phrase “No music survives”. She added her own music to create Here You Are and, with help from pianist Magnus Hjorth, Right Under My Eyes. Both songs are cheerful, upbeat, slices of romance. (Bruce Lindsay) ***

PEGGY LEE WITH JACK MARSHALL’S MUSIC: SWINGIN’ BRIGHTLY AND GENTLY (Blue Moon)
The 34 tracks on this CD represent the complete Things Are Swingin’ and I Like Men! albums, half-a-dozen tracks from the All Aglow Again LP plus a smattering of singles. The arrangements and direction come via Jack Marshall, whose charts set off Ms Lee to perfection on a lot of familiar tunes including Fever, Riding High, Bill and Hallelujah, I Love Him So. The couple of years these sides come from represent the now wonderfully mature singer in her second stint at Capitol when her ability to handle any kind of lyric at any tempo was second to none. (Peter Gamble) ****

MONOCLED MAN: WE DRIFT MERIDIAN (Whirlwind)
We Drift Meridian conjures with the lives of island dwellers and castaways, an excuse, one might think, for lots of Debussyan chromaticism and swooshy keyboard effects. The reality is altogether more rugged, with tightly clipped beats, fascinating harmonic trajectories from the guitar and Rory Simmons’ bright Jon Hassellish trumpet tale-spinning above. Musically, it sits between jazz and post-rock. I was reminded more than once of Bristol’s Startled Insects (now just Insects) in their Curse Of The Pheronomes to Lifepulse period, but without the new wave (!) glitter. Simmons gives place to the singers on their tracks, reinforcing the sense that he’s an essentially narrative voice. Emilia Martensson is reminiscent here of Kate Bush at her most experimental. Ed Begley is magnificent when he delivers semi-spoken lines on Mount Cerberus and compelling when he does an Elling-like (or more Theo Bleckmann?) dance around the metre. A terrific album, beautifully produced and presented. (Brian Morton) ****

NIGEL PRICE ORGAN TRIO: HEADS AND TAILS VOLUME 2 (Whirlwind)
Nigel Price has become much in demand in recent times, a highly respected guitarist who has just completed a nationwide tour with the organ trio heard on this release. The two saxophonists bring added quality to the proceedings: Xenopoulos takes a lively solo in samba mode on Parker 51 (based on Cherokee) and Alex Garnett’s gentle thoughtful reading of War based on Horace Silver’s Peace is moving. Ross Stanley’s prowess on the Hammond is exemplary. He swings it with verve and feeling. Matt Home is one of our leading, most versatile drummers and is often heard in other genres, not just jazz. CD2 spotlights Nigel Price solo including guitar duo overdubs of the numbers on the first disc. No single track calls for particular comment - they are all highly listenable. Price’s pure artistry and mastery of his guitar is just superb. It may be a bit early to be thinking about the 2017 top 10 but this must surely be a strong candidate. (Brian Robinson) ****

CURTIS STIGERS: ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD (Concord, no number)
I like Curtis Stigers and I admire his determination to pursue jazz when other genres are available to him. But releasing an album that seeks to emulate one of the great heavyweight partnerships of all time - Frank Sinatra and Count Basie (conducted by Quincy Jones no less) - is simply asking for comparisons to be made. Stigers says he had to figure out “how not to make this...the most fun karaoke”. But in admitting that he adopted some of Sinatra’s phrasings it comes perilously close. The Danish Radio Big Band are good and make a big sound, but they are not the Count Basie Orchestra. The album is disappointingly short at 32 minutes. Who will buy this album when the original is better, longer and cheaper (currently £1.66 on eBay)? (Ian Lomax) **

THE SUGAR HILL TRIO (Goschart Music)
The Sugar Hill Trio describes itself as “a modern day innovative/avant- garde jazz combo ... which expands popular music from a time once forgotten”. If there is “pop” here, it’s the Great American Songbook, but hard-bop interpretation dominates. Torkewitz is great at convoluted bop lines – try his barrelling solo on Minority – and supported by rock-solid and responsive bass and drums. A piano isn’t missed, plenty of information already flying from Torkewitz’s fingers. The tenor-bass-drum soundscape gets a little homogeneous after a while but that’s no fault of the superb playing. (Mark Gilbert) ***

NICK TRAVIS: HOW ABOUT YOU? (Fresh Sound)
This is an excellent compendium of the music from the short life of Nicholas Anthony Travascio as was. Nick died from a stomach ulcer when he was 38. Despite the fact that he was mainly a studio musician, he managed to make the splendid jazz sessions encapsulated here. The disc opens with a fiery trumpet feature that gives a quick summary of Nick’s great abilities. For the rest of the album he’s alongside Al Cohn, and the two were made for each other, one inspiring the other throughout. I was so pleased with the CD that I phoned John Williams in North Carolina and played some of the tracks he features on. He didn’t recognise the music and was as usual self-deprecating. In fact John was one of the great pianists of the age. His work binding together Al’s quintet here is responsible for the success of the group and he, Al and Nick have a freshness about their playing that was unique. It’s part of the wonderful New York 50s scene that was headed by Zoot, Al, Brookmeyer and Stanley and has only in recent years been given the credit for being the great jazz era that it was. (Steve Voce) ****

VARIOUS: DELTA BLUES / HILLBILLY BLUES (Music Rough Guides)
Both albums have 25 tracks, each by a different artist who’s often an unfamiliar name, but the lesser-known performers are far from being merely space fillers. Interesting appearances are made by those whose lives were cut short and others who vanished into obscurity, none of them making more than a handful of records. Collectively, the durability and accessibility of what is heard here demonstrates why the blues of this era and geographical location had such a dramatic and timeless effect upon American music. This last comment applies particularly to the blues from the Delta, the foundation for much of the music that followed through to the present day, while the Hillbilly Blues set also touches upon the externally imposed and almost entirely artificial division between black and white musicians in the country’s poorer regions. With a few instrumental tracks, the rest mostly by male singers, these budget-priced releases can be an introduction for beginners or a way to fill spaces in the collections of those who might think they’ve heard everything. (Bruce Crowther) ***

CHRISTIAN WALLUMRØD ENSEMBLE: KURZSAM AND FULGER (Hubro)
After five successful albums for ECM, Christian Wallumrød seems to be out on his own now, his Ensemble stripped down to its quintet basics. The music is also pared back, creating a harder, leaner style where the sound of music making is as important as the music it creates. Echoing drum rolls, plaintive cello lines and the leader’s wheezing harmonium combine with silence to create a highly personal, atmospheric music of great ingenuity and depth that sometimes surprises with its uplifting glee. (Simon Adams) ***

 


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