Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hugh Masakela - The Lasting Impressions Of Ooga Booga

In patching together a program of Hugh Masekela's MGM recordings onto a single overstuffed CD, Verve took the original The Americanization of Ooga Booga album, leapfrogged over its successor, Next Album, and coupled it with the third MGM LP, The Lasting Impressions of Hugh Masekela. That made good sense since the two albums originate from the same live date at the Village Gate, recorded when the trumpeter was still in the process of making an impression in the U.S. Masekela is full of wild, sputtering, high-rolling exuberance, developing some of his familiar signature trumpet riffs, freely exploring South African rhythms, harmonic sequences, and chants, and mixing them with soul-jazz at a time when hardly anyone else would bother (the mixture of township jive and jazz works especially well on "U-Dwi"). He also ties into Brazil with a fine rendition of Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada" and assimilates Coltrane into his bloodstream with a tribute called "Mixolydia." In general, the Americanization tracks are the picks of the crop (Impressions, after all, had been compiled in 1968 to cash in on Masekela's surprise number one single, "Grazing in the Grass"). With the rhythm section of Larry Willis on piano, Harold Dotson on bass, and Henry Jenkins on drums, this music still holds up marvelously today. - by Richard S. Ginell, AMG

Artist: Hugh Masakela
Album: The Lasting Impressions of Ooga Booga
Year: 1965 (MGM Records)
Label: Verve Records (1996)
Runtime: 78:43
Recorded live at the Village Gate, NYC, in 1965

Tracks:
1.  Bajabula Bonke (Miriam Makeba) 8:05
2.  Dzinorabiro (Miriam Makeba) 6:38
3.  Unhlanhia (Miriam Makeba) 5:22
4.  Cantelope Island (Herbie Hancock) 5:29
5.  U-dwi (Hugh Masekela) 5:25
6.  Masquenada (Jorge Ben) 7:43
7.  Abangoma (Miriam Makeba) 4:04
8.  Mixloydia (Hugh Masekela) 7:00
9.  Con Mucho Caarino (Larry Willis) 4:41
10.  Where Are You Going? (Hugh Masekela) 7:42
11.  Morolo (Hugh Masekela) 5:06
12.  Bo Masekela (Caiphus Semenya) 4:39
13.  Unohilo (Alan Salinga) 6:49

Personnel:
Hugh Masekela (Trumpet and Vocals)
Larry Willis (Piano)
Harold Dotson (Double Bass)
Henry Jenkins (Drums)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bob Stewart - Goin' Home

The second recording by tuba player Bob Stewart's First Line Band is even better than the first. In 1988, Stewart's group also included trumpeter James Zoller, trombonist Steve Turre, guitarist Jerome Harris and either Buddy Williams or Ed Blackwell on drums; trumpeter Earl Gardner and John Clark on French horn have guest spots on this CD. The music ranges from the straightforward swing of Don Cherry's "Art Deco" and a good-humored "Sweet Georgia Brown" to a 121-minute exploration of Billy Harper's "Priestess" and originals by Stewart, Olu Dara and Kelvyn Bell. Stimulating and often-surprising music that is generally more accessible than one might expect. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Bob Stewart
Album: Goin' Home
Year: 1989
Label: JMT Productions
Runtime: 49:43
Recorded at the RPM Studios (New York City, USA) in December, 1988

Tracks:
1.  Subi La Nas Alturas (Kelvyn Bell) 7:04
2.  Art Deco (Don Cherry) 6:14
3.  Bell And Ponce (Olu Dara) 6:00
4.  Tunk (Bob Stewart) 6:55
5.  Sugar Finger (Traditional)5:33
6.  Sweet Georgia Brown Sweet Medley
  - Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie / Kenneth Casey / Maceo Pinkard) 3:59
  - Windmill (Kenny Dorham) 0:39
  - Donna (Jackie McLean) 0:35
7.  Priestess (Billy Harper) 12:37

Personnel:
Bob Stewart (Tuba)
James Zoller (Trumpet)
Steve Turre (Trombone)
Jerome Harris (Guitar)
Buddy Williams (Drums) - 1,3,5-7
Earl Gardner (Trumpet) - 1,7
Ed Blackwell (Drums) - 2,4
Frank Colon (Percussion) - 1,5
John Clark (French Horn) - 7

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Barabás Lőrinc Eklektric - Ladal

A delight to the ears and fodder for the feet, Barabás’ mix of brassy jazz, electro-house and industrial beats was just what the doctor ordered to round-off the working week. A master of all he touches, his tools on the evening included the trumpet, keyboard/synthesiser, DJ mixing machines, sound-effect foot pedals and computer software. Single-handedly building industrial rhythms around the trumpet – his key instrument – accompanied by his other tools was more evidence of this artist’s ability to rise to a challenge. - Ceel.org.uk

Artist: Barabás Lőrinc Eklektrik
Album: Ladal
Year: 2007
Label: Not On Label
Runtime: 56:37

Tracks:
1.  Noxville 5:15 
2.  Famous 4:15 
3.  Otto 5:47 
4.  Csak 4:29 
5.  Lomha 4:08 
6.  Coolhouse 3:07 
7.  Sunset 4:10 
8.  Ezazz 4:22 
9.  Ujdnb 4:24 
10.  Ladal 5:30 
11.  Wanna 4:00 
12.  Leon (live) 7:10 
All music by Barabás Lőrinc 

Personnel:
Barabás Lõrinc (Trumpet)
Bata István (Bass)
Delov Jávor (Drums)
Premecz Mátyás (Keyboards)
Élő Márton (Performer [Mpc], Scratches, Trombone)
MC Kemon (Rap)
MC Sena (Rap, Vocals)
Fábián Julianna (Vocals)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gabor Szabo - 1969

In the late '60s, many jazz artists were ignoring the rock and soul hits of the day -- when called upon to interpret popular songs, they stuck to their favorite Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Irving Berlin standards and didn't see Beatles or Marvin Gaye hits as vehicles for jazz improvisation. But there were some jazz artists who didn't feel that way; Grant Green, Herbie Mann, and Charles Earland -- just to give three examples -- saw no reason why rock and soul tunes couldn't receive instrumental jazz makeovers. And on 1969, Gabor Szabo puts a jazz spin on popular songs of the 1960s, including "Walk Away Renee" (a major hit for the Four Tops), the Beatles' "In My Life," and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." Again, there were many jazz artists who wouldn't have touched these songs in 1969 -- they would have insisted on providing yet another version of "Our Love Is Here to Stay" or "My Funny Valentine." But Szabo acknowledges that worthwhile popular music didn't die with George Gershwin. The Hungarian guitarist doesn't always stretch out as much as he could on this album; at times, he ends a solo that probably should have lasted a few more minutes. But Szabo still deserves credit for bringing a jazz perspective to songs that so many other improvisers were ignoring. Produced by Gary McFarland, this 1969 date originally came out on vinyl and was finally reissued on CD in 1998. - by Alex Henderson, AMG

Artist: Gabor Szabo
Album: 1969
Year: 1969 (Skye Records)
Label: DCC Jazz (1998)
Runtime: 34:19
Recorded at the United Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA (January 20-23, 1969)

Tracks: 
1. Dear Prudence (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) 2:37
2.  Sealed With a Kiss (Gary Geld / Peter Udell) 2:41
3.  Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell) 2:54
4.  Walk Away Renee (Michael Brown / Bob Calilli / Tony Sansone) 2:42
5.  You Won't See Me (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) 3:31
6.  Michael from Mountains (Gabor Szabo) 3:56
7.  Stormy (Buddy Buie / James Cobb) 3:12
8.  In My Life (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) 2:25
9.  I've Just Seen a Face (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) 4:30
10.  Until It's Time for You to Go (Buffie St. Marie) 2:18
11.  Somewhere I Belong (Gabor Szabo) 3:33

Personnel:
Gabor Szabo (Guitar)
Francois Vaz (Guitar)
Louis Kabok (Bass Guitar)
Randy Cierly (Fender Bass)
Mike Melvoin (Organ)
Jim Keltner (Drums and Percussion)
George Ricci (Cello)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Eddie Harris - Instant Death

This is one of Eddie Harris's stronger Atlantic albums of the 1970s. Harris jamming on "Instant Death" is one of his most satisfying statements on the reed trumpet, guitarist Ronald Muldrow's "A Little Wes" is memorable and even the briefer pieces are worthwhile. In addition to Harris (who mostly plays his electrified tenor) and Muldrow, the group consists of keyboardist Richard Abrams, bassist Rufus Reid, drummer Billy James and percussionist Henry Gibson. This long out-of-print LP is long overdue to be reissued on CD. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Eddie Harris
Album: Instant Death
Year: 1972 (Atlantic Recordings)
Label: Atlantic Masters (2004)
Runtime: 36:23

Tracks:
1.  Instant Death (Eddie Harris) 5:45
2.  A Little Wes (Ronald Muldrow) 7:30
3.  Zambezi Dance (Richard Abrams/Henry Gibson/Eddie Harris/Billy James/Ronald Muldrow) 4:09
4.  Summer's On Its Way (Eddie Harris) 7:46
5.  Nightcap (Eddie Harris) 5:08
6.  Superfluous (Eddie Harris) 3:18
7.  Tampion (Eddie Harris) 2:47

Personnel:
Eddie Harris (Saxophone [Electric Saxophone], Trumpet, Cowbell, Shaker, Voice [Horn Vocals], Effects)
Rufus Reid (Double Bass, Electric Bass)
Henry Gibson (Congas, Talking Drum)
Billy James (Drums, Kalimba)
Ronald Muldrow (Electric Guitar)
Muhal Richard Abrams (Electric Piano, Whistle [African Whistle])

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Frank Wess - Seven Classic Albums - IV

In a Minor Groovie:
With the exceptional flute sounds produced by Frank Wess, the combo plays music that is oriented via a unique sonic palate, further enhanced by the principals in the standards and originals they have chosen. Fellow Detroiter Herman Wright is here on bass, with duties split between legendary drummers Art Taylor and Roy Haynes, who place particular emphasis on subtle brushwork. Of course, the watchword of Ashby's sound is elegance, as she and Wess weave magical threads of gold and silver through standards like the circular and pristine "Moonlight in Vermont," the dramatic, slow "Yesterdays," or the sad "Alone Together." In a more Baroque or chamber setting, "Charmain" and "It's a Minor Thing" have Wess and Ashby thinking on a regal or Grecian platform. The variety on this collection is impressive, as you hear cinematic bluesy proclamations on "Autumn in Rome," striking mystery in "Taboo," mischievous and sly winks during "Rascallity," and a sexy calypso-to-swing beat as "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" unfolds. - by Michael G. Nastos, AMG

The Frank Wess Quartet:
Frank Wess has long been one of the most underrated flautists in jazz, but it's his primary instrument on this CD reissue of a Moodsville LP recorded in 1960. With fine accompaniment by piano master Tommy Flanagan, bassist Eddie Jones and drummer Bobby Donaldson, the leader's lyrical chops are evident in Alec Wilder's rarely performed ballad "It's So Peaceful in the Country." The light Latin setting of "Star Eyes" initially spotlights Flanagan's elegant piano, with the rhythm switching gears as Wess works his magic on flute. Flanagan alone introduces the dreamy interpretation of "But Beautiful," while Wess will melt any heart with his gorgeous flute solo. Wess is best known for his swinging tenor saxophone, heard on the richly textured "Gone With the Wind," a spacious "Stella by Starlight" (which will rival any saxophonist's recording for pure beauty), as well as his bluesy original "Rainy Afternoon," with Donaldson's light percussion possibly suggesting stepping in sidewalk puddles or windshield wipers clearing intermittent precipitation. Highly recommended. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Frank Wess
Album: Seven Classic Albums IV.
Year: 1958, 1960 (New Jazz; Prestige)
Label: Real Gone Jazz (Digitally Remastered, 2013)
Runtime: 77:19

Tracks:
In a Minor Groovy
1.  Rascallity (Dorothy Ashby) 3:54
2.  You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To (Cole Porter) 3:59
3.  It's a Minor Thing (Dorothy Ashby) 3:56
4.  Yesterdays (Otto Harbach/Jerome Kern) 4:22
5.  Bohemia After Dark (Oscar Pettiford) 6:19
6.  Taboo (Margarita Lecuona) 6:15
7.  Autumn in Rome (Sammy Cahn/Paul Weston) 5:33
8.  Alone Together (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz) 4:58
The Frank Wess Quartet
9. It's So Peaceful in the Country (Alec Wilder) - 4:01
10. Rainy Afternoon (Frank Wess) - 8:26
11. Star Eyes (Gene de Paul / Don Raye) - 3:54
12. Stella by Starlight (Ned Washington / Victor Young) - 5:10
13. But Beautiful (Johnny Burke / Jimmy Van Heusen) - 4:36
14. Gone with the Wind (Herb Magidson / Allie Wrubel) - 5:46
15. I See Your Face Before Me (Howard Dietz / Arthur Schwartz) - 6:05

Personnel:
Frank Wess (Flute, Tenor Saxophone)
Dorothy Ashby (Harp) 1-8
Herman Wright (Double Bass) 1-8
Roy Haynes (Drums) 1-8
Tommy Flanagan (Piano) 9-15
Eddie Jones (Double Bass) 9-15
Bobby Donaldson (drums) 9-15

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Frank Wess - Seven Classic Albums - III

After Hours:
A leaderless sextet jams on four of pianist Mal Waldron's originals. The performances range from eight to 12 minutes apiece. The all-star lineup -- trumpeter Thad Jones, Frank Wess on tenor and flute, guitarist Kenny Burrell, Waldron, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Taylor -- is in fine form on the straight-ahead material. Bop fans will want to pick this up. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Wheelin' and Dealin':
This two-fer from the excellent Prestige series of two-LP sets features Coltrane at a pair of jam-session-type settings in 1957. He is heard along with fellow tenor Paul Quinichette and Frank Wess on flute and tenor on two long versions apiece of "Wheelin'" and "Dealin" in addition to a fine rendition of "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" and a 15-minute version of "Robbins' Nest." In addition, there are two numbers from a sextet session with trumpeter Bill Hardman and altoist Jackie McLean. Overall the music is not all that essential (since there are so many other Coltrane recordings available) but is quite enjoyable on its own terms and worth picking up. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Recorded days after the wonderful Blue Train album, this session brought together an unusual cast of players. John Coltrane, Paul Quinichette and Frank Wess on tenor saxophone (with Wess doubling on flute), Mal Waldron running the show on piano, Doug Watkins on bass and Art Taylor on drums. Probably the most interesting material on this album is the take of Waldron's "Wheelin'", a fast romp which provides a battleground for a three-way tenor tussle. Waldron takes an extended solo in his Monk-like awkward but bluesy style, which either does it for you or doesn't. It's a shame this was released under Coltrane's/Wess' name since it's really Mal Waldron's set and material and probably not in the taste of most Trane lovers, but still worth checking out. - Amazon.com

Artist: Frank Wess
Album: Seven Classic Albums (Disc 3)
Year: 1957-58 (Prestige Records)
Label: Real Gone Jazz (Digitally Remastered, 2013)
Runtime: 65:13

Tracks:
After Hours:
Count One (Mal Waldron) 7:53
Empty Street (Mal Waldron) 12:38
Wheelin and Dealin':
3.  Things Ain't What They Used to Be (Mercer Ellington / Ted Persons) 8:25
4.  Wheelin' (Mal Waldron) 11:22
5.  Robbin's Nest (Illinois Jacquet / Bob Russell / Sir Charles Thompson) 15:30
6.  Dealin' (Mal Waldron) 10:13

Personnel:
Frank Wess (Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Alto Saxophone)
Mal Waldron (Piano)
Art Taylor (Drums)
John Coltrane (Tenor Saxophone) 3-6
Paul Quinichette (Tenor Saxophone) 3-6
Doug Watkins (Double Bass) 3-6
Kenny Burrell (Guitar) 1-2
Thad Jones (Trumpet) - 1-2
Paul Chambers (Double Bass) 1-2

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Frank Wess - Seven Classic Albums II.

Monday Stroll:
Although the original LP was reissued under guitarist Kenny Burrell's name, it was originally led by Frank Wess, who is heard doubling on flute and tenor. With the assistance of Burrell, rhythm guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Eddie Jones and either Kenny Clarke or Gus Johnson on drums, Wess is in excellent form on a set very reminiscent (not too surprisingly considering the personnel) of the Count Basie band. Wess contributed four of the songs, Burrell brought in "Southern Exposure" and the quintet also plays "Over the Rainbow" and the obscure "Woolafunt's Lament." This is a fine straightahead date, with Wess's flute taking solo honors. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Just as Kenny Burrell began his highly prolific career recording for Blue Note and the Prestige label in 1957, he managed to put out this successful and basic model of light, gentle swinging as he teamed up with multi reeds virtuoso Frank Wess to create this special, breezy stroke of camaraderie. What would become his only solo album for the Savoy label, Monday Stroll would highly showcase a nice blend of flute and guitar artistry backed with a rhythm section providing the chirpy support that made it a refreshing success as the quintet play with fluidity where Wess doubles on flute and the occasional tenor saxophone while master drummer Kenny Clarke and a local Detroit bassist gradually sits in rather well in unique style. Featuring mostly great original compositions penned by Wess and Burrell, the music gets off on a straight “up” tone on the title track as it proceeds with merriment on other extended numbers like Wess’ relaxed ballad East Wind, West Side, Southern Exposure, the standard classic Over The Rainbow, as well as the final track Kansas City Style. Although Monday Stroll was released under Burrell’s name, it was headed by Wess for whom he got equal billing—he would even play tenor saxophone on Woolafunt’s Holiday, where Burrell demonstrates the mutually intuitive responsiveness that he and Wess had). Also added to the chemistry are guitarist Freddie Green on rhythm guitar and fellow session drummer is featured on two tracks, as this band bring us the mellow magic that made an instant success, which will maintain it’s high point with unforgettable results. - by RH, Amazon.com

After Hours:
A leaderless sextet jams on four of pianist Mal Waldron's originals. The performances range from eight to 12 minutes apiece. The all-star lineup -- trumpeter Thad Jones, Frank Wess on tenor and flute, guitarist Kenny Burrell, Waldron, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Taylor -- is in fine form on the straight-ahead material. Bop fans will want to pick this up. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Frank Wess
Album: Seven Classic Albums (Disc 2)
Year: 1956-1957 (Savoy Records, Prestige Records)
Label: Real Gone Jazz (Digitally Remastered, 2013)
Runtime: 63:57

Tracks:
Monday Stroll (1957)
1.  Monday Stroll (Frank Wess) 4:22
2.  East Wind (Kenny Burrell) 5:14
3.  Wess Side (Frank Wess) 5:02
4.  Southern Exposure (Kenny Burrell) 6:50
5.  Woolafunts Lament (Frank Wess) 7:06
6.  Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen / E.Y. "Yip" Harburg) 6:01
7.  Kansas City Life (Frank Wess) 8:31
After Hours (1957)
1.  Steamin' (Mal Waldron) 9:28
2.  Blue Jelly (Mal Waldron) 11:26

Personnel:
Frank Wess (Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Flute)
Kenny Burrell (Guitar)
Eddie Jones (Double Bass) - 1-7
Freddie Green (Rhythm Guitar) - 1-7
Gus Johnson (Drums) - 1,5
Kenny Clarke (Drums) - 2-4,6,7
Mal Waldron (Piano) - 8-9
Thad Jones (Trumpet) - 8-9
Paul Chambers (Double Bass) - 8-9
Art Taylor (Drums) - 8-9

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