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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 April 2017 (see below for excerpts):
Abercrombie, John: Up And Coming (ECM 572 3377)
Aeby, Stefan: To The Light (Intakt 274/2016)
Allison, Ben: Quiet Revolution (Newvelle 005, vinyl)
Baker, Chet: At Onkel Pö's Carnegie Hall Hamburg 1979 (Jazzline N77038)
Basie, Count: Live In Berlin (Jazzline N77026)
Bernocchi, Eraldo/Prakash Sontakke: Invisible Strings (Rare Noise 069)
Bourgeyx, Vincent: Short Trip (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 516)
Brubeck, Dave/Paul Desmond: At The Sunset Center, Carmel 1955 (Solar 4569973)
Connor, Chris: The Complete Atlantic Singles (Blue Moon 883)
Curson, Ted: Jubilant Power (Inner City 1017)
Davis Jr, Sammy: With The Marty Paich Dek-Tette & Orchestra (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 922)
DeFrancesco, Joey/The People Project: Freedom (Mack Avenue 1121)
Doggett, Bill: Oops!/Prelude To The Blues (Blue Moon 882)
Dunmall, Paul/Brass Project: Maha Samadhi (Slam 2105)
Duran, Eddie: Jazz Guitarist/Modern Music From San Francisco (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 924)
Elgart, Larry: New Sounds At The Roosevelt/Broadway Hit Prod. Saratoga (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 921)
Elgart, Larry: Sophisticated Sixties/The Shape Of Sounds To Come (Blue Moon 881)
Elling, Kurt: The Beautiful Day (Okeh/Masterworks 88985346772)
Flory, Med: And His Orchestras, 1954-1959 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 923)
Forrest, Helen: I've Heard That Song Before (Retrospective 4302)
Gillespie, Dizzy: At Onkel Pö's Carnegie Hall Hamburg 1978 (Jazzline N77037)
Graves, Cameron: Planetary Prince (Mack Avenue 1123)
Holiday, Billie: The Last Albums (Essential Jazz Classics 55705)
Jahnel, Benedikt: The Invariant (ECM 571 2837)
Jones, Jonah: Broadway & Hollywood Hits (Essential Jazz Classics 55707)
Jungr, Barb: Every Grain Of Sand (Linn 581)
Konitz, Lee: Frescalalto (Impulse!, no number)
Ladnier, Tommy: The Tommy Ladnier Collection 1923-39 (Acrobat 2061)
LaVerne, Andy: Genesis (SteepleChase 31818)
Lê, Nguyên/Ngô Hông Quang: Hà Nôi Duo Feat. Paolo Fresu (ACT 9828)
Lee, Neil Hyunil: Living Water (cdbaby.com/cd/hyunillee)
Lincoln, Abbey: Love Having You Around (HighNote 7297)
London, Julie: Cry Me A River (Retrospective 4300)
London, Julie: Whatever Julie Wants (Fine And Mellow 610)
Lundgren, Jan: Potsdamer Platz (ACT 9831)
Lyons, Jeremy: The Promise Of Happiness (jeremylyons.co.uk)
Matthiessen, Ole: Flashbacks & Dedications (Stunt 16042)
Mendoza, Vince/WDR Big Band: Homecoming (Jazzline N77036)
Modern Jazz Quartet: Live At Monterey (Wienerworld AD-07)
Mosaic: Subterranea (Edition 1077)
NHØP & Mulgrew Miller: The Duo - Live! (Storyville 1038444)
Parker, Mariah: Indo Latin Jazz Live In Concert (Ancient-Future.Com AF-20142)
Perry, Rich: Mood (SteepleChase 31830)
Peterson, Oscar: The Complete Duke Ellington Song Books (Essential Jazz Classics 55711)
Powell, Baden: Images On Guitar (MPS 0211343MSW)
Powell, Philippe Baden: Notes Over Poetry (Far Out 196)
Reflections In Cosmo: Reflections In Cosmo (Rare Noise 073)
Rich, Buddy/Septet With Kenny Barron: Very Live At Buddy's Place/Complete Edition (Phono 870270)
Roberts, Troy: Tales & Tones (Inner Circle Music 066)
Seglem, Karl: Nordic Balm (Ozella 064)
Segurado, Luismi: Tritones Y Serendipia (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 1004)
Shaw, Joan: A Retrospective 1947-1964 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 920)
Shepherd, Cybill: Cybill Getz Better (Inner City 1097)
Smith, Jimmy/Lou Donaldson Quartet: Complete Studio Recordings (Phono 870271)
Smith, Tommy/SNJO With Bill Evans: Beauty & The Beast (Spartacus 023)
Smith, Tommy/Youth Jazz Orchestra: Effervescence (Spartacus 024)
Sosa, Omar/Seckou Keita: Transparent Water (World Village/Harmonia Mundi 479125)
Stitt, Sonny/Hank Jones Quartet, Quintet: Cherokee/Legendary Studio Sessions (Phono 870272)
Talmor-Irniger Counterpoints: Subway Lines (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 520)
Thomas, Pat: Desafinado / Moody's Mood (Blue Moon BMCD 884)
Three Sounds, The/Featuring Gene Harris: Groovin' Hard (Resonance HCD-2025)
Timmons, Bobby/Trio: The Sweetest Sounds/Classic 1960s Studio Sessions (Phono 870273)
Tolstoy, Viktoria: Meet Me At The Movies (ACT 9827)
Vallon, Colin: Danse (ECM 570 9323)
Various: Jazz Loves Disney (Verve, no number)
Various: Jazz Haunts & Magic Vaults/The New Lost Classics Of Resonance Records, Vol.1 (Resonance 2026)
Various: Brexit Blues (Riverboat 1097)
Vaughan, Sarah: Live In Berlin 1969 (Jazzline N77031)
Vitous, Miroslav: Ziljabu Nights/Live At Theater Gütersloh (Intuition 71320)
Wallington, George: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1227)
Wheeler, Ian: Remembering Ian Wheeler (Lake 349)


Excerpts from the 71 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):

JOHN ABERCROMBIE QUARTET: UP AND COMING (ECM)
Featuring the same quartet line-up, this is John Abercrombie’s follow-up to his 2013 ECM recording 39 Steps. Over 40 years ago, Abercrombie and Copland were members of Chico Hamilton’s quartet, although Copland was at that time going by his original name of Cohen and playing saxophone. The rhythm section of Drew Gress and Joey Baron appeared on Abercrombie’s 2012 ECM album Within A Song, along with Joe Lovano. Abercrombie’s playing is typically precise and restrained, always avoiding the egotistical noodling to which solid-bodied electric guitarists are often ineluctably drawn. Tears, by Marc Copland, is an example of this subtlety as is Miles Davis’s Nardis. Up And Coming is a model of understatement, positively rewarding repeated plays. (Roger Farbey) ****



COUNT BASIE BIG BAND: LIVE IN BERLIN (Jazzline)
Longstanding British Basie buffs will feel right at home with this album. The bulk of the personnel, the selections, charts and Swiss watch precision the band brings to its attack replicate to the semitone what UK audiences witnessed live on the annual tours the band made to the UK during the late 50s/early 60s. Purists may argue that it was invariably Joe Williams who handled vocals back in the day whereas here it’s Jimmy Rushing who hollers his way through Mr. Five By Five, I Want A Little Girl and I’m Coming, Virginia but that is, at best, a minor point. Slip this into your CD player, press play and say hello to your salad days. (Leon Nock) ****



VINCENT BOURGEYX: SHORT TRIP (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Most of the tunes here were penned by the leader, and they’re very good and varied, played by a very nice line-up. I particularly enjoyed the agile rhythm pairing of Matt Penman and Obed Calvaire, who seem very responsive to the soloists, whilst providing high-quality grooves at a wide range of tempos. The opener Short Trip is reminiscent of some of the work on Jason Rebello’s 1990 debut album A Clearer View, with its tendency towards grooves that edge towards fusion, sometimes with unison running left-hand piano and bass lines amongst the overall texture. (Dave Jones) ****

JOEY DEFRANCESCO + THE PEOPLE: PROJECT FREEDOM (Mack Avenue)
Hammond B3 player and occasional trumpeter Joey DeFrancesco has, according to Quincy Jones’s gushing sleeve-note, released over 30 albums. He’s certainly a major figure in contemporary organ-based jazz – one of the greatest B3 players since Jimmy Smith, writes Jones. For Project Freedom he’s joined by a strong trio of players known collectively as The People. The album is, unsurprisingly, built around DeFrancesco’s organ playing, but some of the strongest performances come from his fellow musicians. Project Freedom (the first of the DeFrancesco originals here) is funky, the quartet at its finest, especially Jason Brown’s powerful drumming and Troy Roberts’s tough tenor. Closing tune Stand Up opens with a party atmosphere of handclaps and chatter but quickly shifts into a more spiritual vibe. (Bruce Lindsay) ***

KURT ELLING: THE BEAUTIFUL DAY (Okeh)
The subtitle of this set – Kurt Elling Sings Christmas – explains why Elling’s usual and rightful place among the full-length reviews is not going to happen this time. For there is something fundamentally wrong with reviewing a Christmas album in February, no matter how fine a set it is. And it is actually very good, Elling’s clever choice of seasonal rather than specifically Christmas songs paying dividends, the arrangements, notably on We Three Kings, adventurous when they could have been schmaltzy. Best of all is Elling’s personal reworking of Grieg’s Cradle Song, here sensitively transformed into The Michigan Farm. Ask me again next December, and I will change my mind, but at the moment, two stars for bah humbug. (Simon Adams) **

DIZZY GILLESPIE: AT ONKEL PO’S (Jazzline)
Pablo recorded Jones, Brown and Roker with Dizzy and Ray Pizzi in 1976 for an album called Dizzy’s Party but no discographies that I’m able to consult have any recordings by the quartet heard here. In fact Dizzy’s only recording of 1978 is shown as a guest appearance at a Teresa Brewer concert. So this release, although it arrives with no fanfare, is historically significant. Fortunately it also finds the leader in excellent form and it’s easy to imagine that the kind of backing here, with its acknowledgements of rock rhythms and practices, represents Dizzy’s response to what Miles Davis was doing in the 70s. The sparkling trumpet break at the end of the Tunisia ensemble illustrates the control of his pyrotechnics that Dizzy (at the age of 60) still had. The initially slow and heartfelt tribute to Martin Luther King (Brother K) shows the deeper side of his talent. Add in his extraordinarily agile scatting on the very fast Oo-Papa-Da and you have a very clearly recorded release which no Gillespie admirer should fail to hear. (Graham Colombé) ****

LEE KONITZ: FRESCALALTO (Impulse, no number)  
After a long and varied career saxophonist Konitz has reached the grand age of 89 and is still playing. Here he is with an impeccable rhythm team. Possibly the best track is the nine-minute opening Stella By Starlight where everything gels, an impressive team effort. Lee essays slightly unconvincing scat vocals on two numbers and his rather thin tone hasn’t got any thicker. The strength of this performance is mostly due to Barron’s inventive pianism rather than Konitz’s input which to be honest does rather reflect his advanced years. (Brian Robinson) **

JAN LUNDGREN: POTSDAMER PLATZ (ACT)
Jan Lundgren’s moving and imaginative tribute to fellow pianist Jan Johansson – The Ystad Concert – was one of the top albums in the JJ Critics’ Poll 2016. Potsdamer Platz, his latest offering, should do equally well in the next one. With the empathetic support of fellow countryman bassist Dan Berglund, Finnish altoist Jukka Perko and Danish drummer Morten Lund, Lundgren seamlessly fashions his distinctive blend of Scandinavian “folk jazz” and American-inspired jazz piano into the creation of a music that he believes is “taking us somewhere”. Every composition, shaped by Lundgren and the virtuosic Perko, has its individual character. Highly recommended. (John White) ****

VINCE MENDOZA & WDR BIG BAND: HOMECOMING (Jazzline)
I’ve long admired the seemingly effortless ease with which composer and arranger Vince Mendoza commands the tricky rubric of the big band. Whilst there is nothing particularly ground-breaking about his music, a keen understanding of layering and textures and a very personal tonal palette invariably carries his music home. This live set features seven new pieces performed by Cologne’s WDR Big Band, with whom he is regularly an artist in residence. From the hip echoes of Marcus Miller-era Miles on Keep It Up to the soulful title track and joyous release of Daybreak, Mendoza plays the orchestra with customary precision. (Fred Grand) ***

OSCAR PETERSON: THE COMPLETE DUKE ELLINGTON SONGBOOKS (Essential Jazz Classics)
Several titles appear here more than once, and played in the same order. But this is no mistake. Tracks are not duplicative; they are not the same versions. This CD combines two LPs devoted to the same Duke Ellingon material, recorded by different versions of the Peterson trio. The first is of particular interest. Dating from 1952, it was a special issue, exploiting the then-new LP format, to include a dozen of Ellington’s most familiar tunes, and featuring Peterson’s superb combo. The high-quality, much-loved Peterson trio tracks on CD1 deserve a place in any collection. The second half of this release is a 1959 stereo remake of the original 1952 Peterson trio session. Despite the similarity of the material, it’s a totally different session. Playing time is generous; booklet notes include the original by Norman Granz, and a 2016 version of a 1979 interview with Tom Wilmeth, by Willie Ellis. The tracks recorded in Chicago in 1959 are succinct, restrained and particularly delightful. (John Robert Brown) *****

BUDDY RICH SEPTET WITH KENNY BARRON: VERY LIVE AT BUDDY’S PLACE COMPLETE EDITION (Phono)
Originally released in an edited and truncated version in 1974, this edition of Very Live At Buddy’s Place contains complete renditions of two titles. They are not identified in the booklet notes by Stewart Clay but are most probably Cardin Blue and Nica’s Dream. There are also two new additions (Howie’s Tune and The Bull), and an alternate take of Billie’s Bounce. Unusually, Buddy takes a back seat, preferring to let his distinguished sidemen take extended solos. Barron doesn’t disappoint, especially on Cardin Blue, but Nistico and Fortune, seemingly under the influence of Coltrane, are allowed to exclaim at inordinate length. Buddy punctuates the proceedings, not only on drums but also with appreciative grunts and affirmations. The audiences obviously enjoyed these sets. (John White) ***

TROY ROBERTS: TALES & TONES (Inner Circle Music)

Perth, Australia born Troy Roberts is in Joey DeFrancesco’s current band and a distinctively fluid and musical saxophonist. I first noticed him (you have to) on Venezuelan Monasterios’s action-packed Partly Sunny (Savant). The same arresting, energised post-bop playing is here in several numbers, including Decoration and Trams (cf. the lurking bass line on Don Grolnick’s Nothing Personal), both of which also display his intelligence and application as composer. But there are ballads too, so well sculpted that one never notices six minutes passing. Fine band all round (Monasterios monstrously expressive) and excellent value. (Mark Gilbert) ****

TOMMY SMITH/SNJO WITH BILL EVANS: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Spartacus) TOMMY SMITH YOUTH JAZZ ORCHESTRA: EFFERVESCENCE (Spartacus)
The origins of “Beauty And The Beast” are in a French fairy tale from 1740 but these days you’d almost think the plot was conceived by Walt Disney Studios. But Scots jazz entrepreneur (there is no other phrase for him) Tommy Smith has taken over the theme of good and evil with a staggeringly potent piece of composition using the relentless talents of American saxophonist Bill Evans as his main voice in front of the SNJO. Smith’s writing for the orchestra presents Evans with an ever-changing palette against which to leap and cavort as only he can. The Youth Jazz Orchestra opens at a cracking pace with Herman’s Apple Honey and continues with work from Kern, Corea and Gillespie etc, all approached with astonishing confidence and bravado. The arrangements by Florian Ross and Christian Jacob are satisfyingly intricate despite the young age of many of the players in a band that has supplied new talent to the British scene for 14 years. This, the orchestra’s third album will enliven all who hear it. (Anthony Troon) ****/***

THE THREE SOUNDS FEATURING GENE HARRIS: GROOVIN’ HARD (Resonance)

Recorded live at the Penthouse in Seattle, this album features Harris’s first trio as well as later minor variations. Very successful, they played in an elegant mainstream style into the 1960s. By the end of the decade, the trio’s days were winding down and Harris maintained a successful career thereafter as a solo performer, side-stepping in the late 1980s to lead a Basie-influenced big band. In all his manifestations, Harris was a highly accomplished instrumentalist, his light touch on ballads bringing to mind forerunners Teddy Wilson and Nat King Cole and his inventive playing always swinging with graceful ease. That said, when the mood was upon him, like Wilson and Cole, he could lay down solid, driving, blues-inflected lines. From the liner notes it appears that these tracks were taped by KING-FM Radio’s Jim Wilke and have been gathering dust for a half-century. It has been well worth the wait as this album will delight lovers of mainstream jazz piano. (Bruce Crowther) ****

VARIOUS: BREXIT BLUES (Riverboat)
It would be interesting to know how our readers split over the Brexit issue. The compilers of this selection from the Riverboat Records catalogue write “Brexit Blues offers a light-hearted yet poignant collection of folk, roots and blues music from across Europe lamenting a decision that confounds those of us who openly welcome our neighbours and celebrate cultural diversity”. Poignancy exceeds light-heartedness in a fascinating programme including music from England, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Serbia and Sweden. The jazz content may be slight but the cover photo of a frustrated businessman staring across the Channel more than compensates. (Graham Colombé) ****

 


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