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Jazz Blues Club » Articles for 23.09.2010
1951-1969: Mabel Mercer - Sings Cole Porter Music » Jazz » Vocal Jazz

1951-1969: Mabel Mercer - Sings Cole Porter
Artist: Mabel Mercer
Album:Sings Cole Porter
Label: Rhino / Wea
Years: 1951-1969; release: 1956
Format, bitrate: mp3 @320
Time: 48:13
Size: 82.6mb
AMG Rating 1951-1969: Mabel Mercer - Sings Cole Porter

Mabel Mercer was considered to be the greatest cabaret singer of all time. The British-American expatriate first made her name at Bricktop's in Paris in the '30s, eventually settling in postwar New York for legendary decades-long engagements ... Full Descriptionat select rooms throughout the city. At the time, she could count Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett among her most passionate fans. Luckily, Atlantic Record's Ahmet Ertegun was also a devotee and saw to it that Mercer was recorded during her prime in the early and mid '50s.

SINGS COLE PORTER is the only Mabel Mercer album that is currently available. This is less scandalous than might appear since PORTER is Mercer's most representative session and a classic of the genre. With the exception of "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye," these Porter tunes were not particularly well known then or now, so Mercer is free to take personal possession of them. Once the listener gets past the singer's hoity-toity Margaret Dumont-like delivery, Mercer's bedrock commitment to a song's meaning reveals the dark psychological depths underlying Porter's witty music and lyrics. The unique dual-piano accompaniment provides a dashing and expansive musical sweep that perfectly complements Mercer's unadorned vocal art.
1994: Ernie Watts - Unity Music » Jazz » Fusion » Contemporary Jazz
1994:  Ernie Watts - Unity
Artist: Ernie Watts
Album: Unity
Label: Flying Dolphin Records
Year: 1994; release: 2006
Format, bitrate: Flac
Time: 69:36
Size: 440 mb
AMG Rating 1994:  Ernie Watts - Unity

The most unusual aspect to this Ernie Watts recording is that the great tenor is joined by a two-bass quartet. Eddie Gomez on acoustic and Steve Swallow on electric blend together quite well, are featured in a delightful version of Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism" and (with pianist Geri Allen and drummer Jack DeJohnette) keep the accompaniment consistently stimulating. Ernie Watts is in top form throughout this fine modern mainstream date, playing with both passion and lyricism on a variety of standards and originals (which, in addition to four songs from the leader, include one apiece from DeJohnette and Swallow). There is just enough variety to keep the proceedings from ever getting predictable, making this one of Watts' finest sessions.
~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
2006: Flat Earth Society - Psychoscout Music » Jazz » Modern Jazz » Avantgarde

2006: Flat Earth Society - Psychoscout
Artist: Flat Earth Society
Album: Psychoscout
Label: Crammed Discs
Year: 2006
Format: FLAC
Size: 470M

Flat Earth Society has been making some great, adventurous big-band music for almost a decade, but they're only starting to gain attention outside their native Belgium. Mike Patton helped raise their profile by releasing Isms, a collection taken from their previous four releases, but Psychoscout is their first album of new material to be released worldwide. Leader Peter Vermeersch's compositions share some similarities with Willem Breuker: episodic writing that moves quickly from theme to theme with a healthy dose of humor, but FES doesn't have the almost slapstick element that Breuker's Kollektief can have. Vermeersch's tunes are highly cinematic, and would be put to good use in an exciting chase scene ("In Between Rivers," "Lax") or a hard-boiled detective flick ("Lie to Me"). The players are all great, with some especially nice piano by Peter Vandenberghe, fiery solos from Benjamin Boutreur on alto, Vermeersch on clarinet, and the addition of organ or synth on some tracks which gives the big band quite a different flavor than most big bands. FES can also bring the energy down and deliver a smoky ballad, with vibraphones adding a nice nocturnal touch on "Lie to Me." "Without" starts with a slow piano figure and some outside horn playing before moving into a section with spooky keyboards and vibes, and then into a lurching groove. They really know how to use dynamics to keep the pieces moving, and Vermeersch's horn charts are fantastic. If you thought big band music in the 21st century was confined to repertory bands, think again. Flat Earth Society is a hard-swinging outfit that knows the past but has its eye on the future, and Psychoscout shows that there's a whole lot of life yet in the big band tradition. ~ Sean Westergaard, All Music Guide
1957: VA - Olio Hard-bop, Post-bop
1957: VA -  Olio
Artist: VA
Album: Olio
Label: OJC
Year: 1957, release: 1999
Format, bitrate: mp3@320k
Size: 91M
AMG rating 1957: VA -  Olio

Trumpeter Thad Jones receives first billing on this all-star outing, but vibraphonist Teddy Charles, who contributed three of the six selections (two of the other songs are by pianist Mal Waldron, while the lone standard is "Embraceable You") was really the musical director. Jones, Charles, and Waldron are joined by Frank Wess (doubling on tenor and flute), bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Elvin Jones for a set of modern hard bop. Although this was not a regular group and there is not an obvious leader, the music is on a higher level than that of a routine jam session. The challenging material and the high quality playing of the young greats makes this fairly obscure modern mainstream set (reissued on CD in 1998) well worth exploring.
~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
1955: Max Bennett - Plays BeBop, Cool, West Coast Jazz
1955:  Max Bennett - Plays
Artist: Max Bennett
Album: Plays
Label: Bethlehem
Year: 1955, release: 2002
Quality: MP3@320 kbps
Size: 69,3 mb
Total time: 40:09
AMG rating 1955:  Max Bennett - Plays1955:  Max Bennett - Plays
, Bethlehem !

The eight songs on this LP from Bethlehem have been reissued both on 12" LP and (by Fresh Sound) on CD. Bassist Max Bennett, who later in life played with pop/fusion bands in Los Angeles, started out his career as a bebop-oriented straight-ahead bassist in the Los Angeles area. He led three albums for Bethlehem, of which this was his first. Bennett heads a quintet full of notable West Coasters: trombonist Frank Rosolino, altoist Charlie Mariano, pianist Claude Williamson, and drummer Stan Levey. The eight songs (which include two Helen Carr vocals) consist of five swing originals (including "They Say," "Jeepers Creepers," and "Sweet Georgia Brown"), Tiny Kahn's "T.K." and two Rosolino tunes. "Just Max" features the bassist/leader, but otherwise Mariano and Rosolino are the main soloists. Excellent cool-toned bop.
~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
1978:Earl Hines & Harry "Sweets" Edison - Earl meets Harry Music » Jazz » Swing
1978:Earl Hines & Harry "Sweets" Edison - Earl meets Harry
Artist: Earl Hines & Harry "Sweets" Edison
Album: Earl meets Harry
Label: Pure Pleasure Records
Year: 1978
Format, bitrate: MP3, CBR 320
Time: 00:42:58
Size: 90 Mb

If you're already a fan of either Harry "Sweets" Edison of Earl "Fatha" Hines this is yet another chapter in their long careers that's worth a listen. Recorded in 1978, this collection of 7 duets is a fine performance by both artists in the sunset of their playing days. Edison was 63 at this time and Hines must have been in the same neighborhood. As such, it's not the best performance technically, but don't get me wrong - they both still have their chops. Hines stride piano style is a nice undercurrent for Edison's bluesy improvisation and both remain inventive. The selection of tunes is appropriately standards and classic ballads. Recommended but not the best example of either man's contribution to jazz.

Leave it to European labels like Black & Blue to come up with inspired pairings of musicians who American labels never seem to get around to considering. This 1978 meeting between pianist Earl Hines and trumpeter Harry 'Sweets' Edison is a match of masters, covering tunes they had likely performed hundreds of times in their respective careers. Everything seems to gel in the opening track, a strident take of "I Cover the Waterfront," with plenty of trills by Hines in support of Edison's brilliant open horn. Edison adds a mute for an exquisite, deliberate take of "Just Squeeze Me" and a sauntering "But Not for Me." Hines' dancing tenths come to the forefront in their romp through "Just You, Just Me.There is nothing like two veterans at the top of their game joining forces for a record date.
2009: Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens - Two Cities Post-bop, Avantgarde
2009: Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens - Two Cities Artist: Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens
Album: Two Cities
Label: Delmark Records
Year: 2009
Format, bitrate: mp3, 320
Size: 131 mb

"With their imaginations roaming wide, the Fast Citizens illuminate how composition and free jazz can be brought together in context to create several magic moments." - Jerry D'Souza, All About Jazz

"Two Cities yields a formidable hybrid of venerable post-bop and avant-garde traditions." - Troy Collins, All About Jazz

If you're wondering whether or not there is a connection between Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens and Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens, the answer is a definite "yes." Fast Citizens are a collective, and they have different leaders at different times. While Jackson was the leader on the 2006 release Ready Everyday, Shelton is in charge on the 2009 date Two Cities (whose title was derived from the fact that Shelton has both a Chicago connection and an Oakland connection). Shelton was prominently featured on Ready Everyday and contributed the piece "Blackout"; on Two Cities, however, Shelton contributes five pieces. But stylistically, Two Cities is not a major departure from Ready Everyday. Post-bop and avant-garde jazz are still Fast Citizens' focus, and the influences that served them well in the past (Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra's Arkestra, Charles Mingus, Dave Douglas, East European music) continue to serve them well on this 59-minute CD. Fast Citizens' approach remains an inside/outside approach, but ultimately, outside playing is dominant for the acoustic sextet (which consists of Shelton on alto sax and clarinet, Jackson on tenor sax and bass clarinet, Josh Berman on cornet, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, Anton Hatwich on bass, and Frank Rosaly on drums). And even though Shelton is the one in the driver's seat this time, there is never any doubt that Fast Citizens are a musical democracy. All six members make inspired contributions to the cerebral, abstract post-bop/avant-garde/free jazz dialogue. Those who enjoyed the Jackson-led Ready Everyday will be glad to know that Fast Citizens fare equally well under Shelton's leadership on Two Cities.
~ All Music Guide
1957: John Jenkins/Clifford Jordan/Bobby Timmons - Jenkins, Jordan, And Timmons Music » Jazz » BeBop » Hard-bop
1957: John Jenkins/Clifford Jordan/Bobby Timmons - Jenkins, Jordan, And TimmonsArtist: John Jenkins/Clifford Jordan/Bobby Timmons
Album: Jenkins, Jordan, And Timmons
Label: Fantasy / Original Jazz Classics / Concord
Year: 1957, Release 1990, CD 1994
Format: mp3@320 kb/s
Size: 94MB w/scans
Time: 37:37
AMG rating: 1957: John Jenkins/Clifford Jordan/Bobby Timmons - Jenkins, Jordan, And Timmons
1957: John Jenkins/Clifford Jordan/Bobby Timmons - Jenkins, Jordan, And Timmons

Four of the five selections on this CD reissue (which also includes "Tenderly") are obscure jazz originals by altoist John Jenkins, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, or trombonist Julian Priester. Inspired by both Charlie Parker and Jackie McLean, Jenkins teams up with Jordan, pianist Bobby Timmons, bassist Wilbur Ware, and drummer Dannie Richmond for some bop-oriented improvising. Strange that this would be one of only two sets led by Jenkins. Although the Blue Note CD, recorded just 16 days later, gets the edge, this is an excellent effort too.
~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
2002: Pearl Django - Under Paris Skies Music » Jazz » Swing
2002: Pearl Django - Under Paris Skies
Artist: Pearl Django
Album: Under Paris Skies
Label: Modern Hot
Year: 2002
Format, bitrate: mp3 @256
Time: 53min
Size: 97mb

Pearl Django continues the tradition of creating "Hot Club" style jazz & swing on this, their sixth release. It's a nice mix of Django Reinhardt favorites, including "Nuages," as well as Pearl Django's lively originals.

In the 1930s Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France took American jazz, Manouche melodies, and Parisian café music and blended them into an intoxicating style now known as Gypsy jazz. Pearl Django, a band from the Pacific Northwest, play music that's inspired by Reinhardt and Grappelli, but as their delightful versions of swing standards on Under Paris Skies show, they are more than mere copyists. When Pearl Django plays Hot Club standards like "Nuages" or "Swing 39," the guitar and fiddle solos retain the effortless bounce of the original versions, but the propulsive rhythms are pure American swing. In a nice change from the standard Hot Club stringed-instrument lineup of three guitars, violin, and bass, Pearl Django includes an accordion on four numbers, a deft touch that recalls the music's birth in the cafés and bistros of France. Under Paris Skies is a charming homage to the music of Reinhardt and Grappelli from a band that knows how to add their own personal twist to a classic style.
~ Michael Simmon,
1976: Rahsaan Roland Kirk - The Return of the 5000 Lb.Man Music » Jazz » BeBop » Hard-bop
1976: Rahsaan Roland Kirk - The Return of the 5000 Lb.Man
Artist: Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Album: The Return of the 5000 Lb. Man
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1975, 1976; release: 1976
Format, bitrate: mp3@256kb/sec
Time: 42:58
Size: 79.3MB
AMG Rating: 1976: Rahsaan Roland Kirk - The Return of the 5000 Lb.Man

The Return of the 5000 Lb. Man was Rahsaan Roland Kirk's first album for Warner Brothers, recorded before the stroke that impaired him. Kirk is at full creative and musical strength. These seven tracks are an utter astonishment. Kirk's playing of saxophones, harmonica, flutes, and euphonium is deep, soulful, and even profound in places. "Theme for the Eulipions" (which opens the album), "Giant Steps," and "There Will Never Be Another You" features an all-star band that includes Charlie Persip, a young Hilton Ruiz, bassist Buster Williams, Romeo Perique on baritone saxophone, and Howard Johnson on tuba. The version of "Sweet Georgia Brown," with its wacky percussion and whistling, is so utterly joyful and funky it's perhaps the definitive jazz version of the tune. But it's the readings of Minnie Riperton's "Loving You" and Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" that take the album to an entirely new place. They are, though very different from one another, so utterly moving and aesthetically beautiful, they elevate music to the level of poetry. This is one that's utterly necessary for fans, and a very fitting intro for the novice.
~Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
2001:Joe McPhee & Nihilist Spasm Band - No Borders Freejazz, Avantgarde
2001:Joe McPhee & Nihilist Spasm Band - No Borders
Artist: Joe McPhee & The Nihilist Spasm Band
Album: No Borders
Label: Non Musica Rex
Year: 2001
Format: FLAC
Size: 635M
AMG rating: 2001:Joe McPhee & Nihilist Spasm Band - No Borders

Right when the Nihilist Spasm Band was beginning to repeat itself, transforming into a caricature, the group released No Borders, a fresh, stunning two-CD set with guest Joe McPhee. Disc one was recorded live on October 27, 2000; disc two culls studio recordings from the day before and after. Only four of the 18 tracks feature all seven musicians playing at the same time. On the other ones, subgroups explore exciting new directions. Vocalist Bill Exley and McPhee's "Duet" is a disquieting drone piece. "Trio" puts together the booming bass of Hugh McIntyre, John Clement's drum pounding, and the saxophonist's free jazz train of thought. That last element is the source of a number of surprises. McPhee can play abstract free improv, but here he often falls back to instant head lines. On "Meateater," he develops a melody, something unheard in the group's "repertoire." Exley screams to disrupt him, Art Pratten bursts into a violin frenzy to drag him into flaming dialogues, but McPhee insists. The resulting tug of war is a lot of fun and ends with the jazzman screaming his lungs out. Other highlights include "Unlikely," a duet between Murray Favro and Pratten, "Boing," and "Going Too Far." Exley brought in new texts, true to the group's nihilist ideas, which he delivers in his usual declamatory style. The NSB's level of musicianship has rarely been so high and McPhee, as unlikely as it may sound, turns out to be a perfect partner, heartiliy contributing to the music while motivating the other players to give their best. The only negative point is the fact that Exley's voice was recorded with an awful microphone during the live session. Still, No Borders comes strongly recommended to both fans and newcomers.
~ François Couture, All Music Guide
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