quarta-feira, 28 de março de 2012

Manu Katche - Its About Time 1991

When the talented session drummer Manu Katche decided to release his own solo effort, his colleagues from studio gigs with Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell, Tracy Chapman, and Dire Straits were happy to sign on to help the talented Mr. Katche record It's About Time. Among them, guitarists Daniel Lanois, keyboardist Simon Clark, and sax legend Branford Marsalis join Katche to create some thrilling jazz- and funk-influenced rock cuts. Warm and soulful, Katche's tunes reflect the influence of Nothing Like the Sun-era Sting, perhaps more than any of the other artists that the drummer previously supported. Highlights include the soul crooner "Lost In You" and the upbeat opener "Cry of Passion." While the lush, delicate tracks on It's About Time generally don't live up to the standards of Katche's most famous employers, there are enough good moments on this 1992 release to warrant a recommendation to fans of this accomplished musician and his famous cohorts. AMG.
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terça-feira, 27 de março de 2012

Joe Jackson - Beat Crazy 1980

Before exploring jump blues and early R&B on 1981's Jumpin' Jive and later jazz and Latin styles on 1982's Night and Day, Joe Jackson expanded his power pop and punk m.o. with this, his reggae-tinged third album. Jackson sticks with the short songs and punk feel of his first two releases, but strategically adds rocksteady and jazz elements here and there. A direct reggae influence is heard on such dub-style cuts like "In Every Dream Home," while more of a pastiche approach is evident on tracks like "Mad at You." Jackson even riffs off of Linton Kwesi Johnson's dub poetry sides with the dancefloor politics of "Battleground," while also laying down some straight ska on "Pretty Boys." One also gets intimations of the sophisticated jazz-pop songwriting of Night and Day with torching gems like "One to One." As is the case on most of his albums, Jackson covers a wide array of topics here, including modern relationships, feminism, club life, and the social fringe. A solid effort. AMG.
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segunda-feira, 26 de março de 2012

I gave an overview of the career of saxaphonist/flautist Harold Vick when posting "Don't Look Back" a few weeks ago, which led me to track down the album before that one. Vick hadn't put out an album in five years before releasing "The Power of Feeling" in 1973 under the pseudonym "Sir Edward".

The album came out on Bernard Purdie's short-lived Encounter Records in 1973 - see the base of this post for an (almost complete) label discography.

"The Power of Feeling" seems to have been recorded somewhere between the first and second Compost albums, and can perhaps be seen as an attempt to further some of the commercial ambitions and sonic qualities of Jack DeJohnette's project, albeit more in the "composed" vein of the burgeoning CTI style of accessible jazz-related music than the party funk represented on the Compost albums (particularly the first one, on which Vick seems to be just jamming along).

The following year would see Vick return to more "jazz-rooted" soul-jazz projects like Shirley Scott's "One for Me" and Larry Willis' "Inner Crisis", which would in turn lead to the more intimate and acoustic Vick album "Don't Look Back", but for now he wasn't going to let go of his wah-wah pedal.

While there's still conjecture in some online sources as to whether this actually was Harold Vick, the back cover (above) of Vick's "Commitment" release from 1974 confirms that it's him. I'm still unclear as to why Vick released this under a pseudonym, as it's clearly his own production and arrangements. The inner sleeve contains photos of all band members bar Vick, who's in silhouette on the cover.

THE ALBUM
The opening track "Keep on Moving On" is denser than the version on the Shirley Scott album, with multi-tracked reeds replacing the call-and-answer of organ and sax in the other version, and guitarist George Davis supplying the requisite Wah-Wah Watsonesque "wakka-wakka".
As always, Davis is a strong asset, whether switching into Grant Green-style soul jazz and then psych-funk on tracks like Vick's "Stocking Cap" or fronting on flute for an extended version of "People Make The World Go Round". Although his guitar work can be heard on some early 70s Dizzy Gillespie albums and Lonnie Smith's "Mama Wailer" , this appears to be his first flute date since Joe Zawinul's 1970 self-titled album. (More on Davis at the base of the Mike Longo post).
The other strong presence here is keyboardist Joe Bonner, fresh off a series of Pharoah Sanders' albums - "Black Unity", "Live at the East" and "Village Of The Pharoahs". This appears to be his first rhodes recording, but he switches to electric with aplomb, instantly understanding the different dynamics and referencing Hancock-like patterns in his solo work.


Bonner switches to acoustic piano for what is probably my favourite track, "Peace, K.D.", a dedication to trumpeter Kenny Dorham, who had died in December of 1972. It's a beautiful modal piece that starts out like a "Prince Of Peace" Sanders-style song - if Leon Thomas were to suddenly begin yodelling it wouldn't feel at all out of place. Starting with some textured and panned piano string scrapes, Vick and Davis build melancholy flute harmonies over Bonner's colour swathes, while Vick contributes some of his most sensitive playing here with a soprano sax overdub.


Harold Vick himself is a mixed bag on this album. His best work comes when he's on raw sax or flute and fully in control of his dynamics - few reed players can get such sensitive detail in their phrasing. However, on tracks like "Rocky Mount Willie" he often sets up the main melodies through electric wah-wah sax, and he's not fully at ease with integrating wah-wah rhythms and frequency shifts in his patterns - there's no subtlety to his footwork as he pushes the pedal all the way, every time, on evenly-spaced sixteenth notes or triplets.

Nevertheless, the difficulties of incorporating extra limbs as a musician are not to be under-estimated. Can I tell a funny story?
Eight years ago I was working for a few days in a New York studio, and the producer asked me to play the drumkit so he could check the mics. Although I play keys, guitar and percussion, if you get me to play anything with my feet as well, it falls apart after a few bars. The engineer was on the phone while we were checking, then afterwards he told me that the drummer from the "David Letterman Show" had been on the phone, and had asked "who the f#@k is that on the drums?"

Anyways back to the album - while there's some great stuff here, there are some fairly unimaginative readings of "Where Is The Love" and "Betcha by Golly Wow", in which Vick sticks much too closely to the original melodic/harmonic structures, despite some good solo work from Davis on the former and Bonner on the latter.

Vick brought percussionist Jumma Santos from the Compost sessions. Santos, who contributes a variety of instruments here, had also recently worked on albums by Roy Ayers, Larry Young, Marion Brown and Noah Howard. He'd started the decade with two heavy credits : playing percussion on Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" and appearing with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.
Vick had worked with the other percussionist Omar Clay on Joe Chambers' "The Almoravid" in 1971 and Johnny Hammond's "Wild Horses Rock Steady" in 1972. Clay had also played on albums by Gene Harris and Marlena Shaw the year before.
This is turning into a yearbook parade, hey? Drummer David Lee is the head of the school's chess club - no that's not true - he had worked with George Davis on both the "Zawinul" album and Dizzy Gillespie's "The Real Thing", as well as appearing on albums by Sonny Rollins and Lonnie Liston Smith.Busy bassist Wilbur Bascomb Jr. had just made an album called "Black Grass Music" with his band Bad Bascomb, and a renowned funk 45 called "Just a Groove in G" which was famously sampled in DJ Shadow's "The Number Song" from "Entroducing".Bascomb had also recently played on Roy Ayers' "Change Up The Groove", Ellerine Harding's "Ellerine", Marlena Shaw's "From the depths of my soul", Lightning Rod's "Hustler's Convention", and Ronnie Foster's "Sweet Revival".Finally, bassist Victor Gaskin made his name on a series of Cannonball Adderley albums, such as "74 Miles Away", and had worked recently on Hal Galper's "Guerilla Band", Barry Miles' "White Heat" and Oliver Nelson's "Swiss Suite".
Technical note : This is not the best quality piece of vinyl I've ever come across - it's mostly OK, but there's some slight distortion on the flute in a few sections of "People Make The World go Round" which I couldn't clear up.Anyway I hope you enjoy this one, Thanks to http://neverenoughrhodes.blogspot.pt.
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Pearl Jam - Ten 1991

Nirvana's Nevermind may have been the album that broke grunge and alternative rock into the mainstream, but there's no underestimating the role that Pearl Jam's Ten played in keeping them there. Nirvana's appeal may have been huge, but it wasn't universal; rock radio still viewed them as too raw and punky, and some hard rock fans dismissed them as weird misfits. In retrospect, it's easy to see why Pearl Jam clicked with a mass audience -- they weren't as metallic as Alice in Chains or Soundgarden, and of Seattle's Big Four, their sound owed the greatest debt to classic rock. With its intricately arranged guitar textures and expansive harmonic vocabulary, Ten especially recalled Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. But those touchstones might not have been immediately apparent, since -- aside from Mike McCready's Clapton/Hendrix-style leads -- every trace of blues influence has been completely stripped from the band's sound. Though they rock hard, Pearl Jam is too anti-star to swagger, too self-aware to puncture the album's air of gravity. Pearl Jam tackles weighty topics -- abortion, homelessness, childhood traumas, gun violence, rigorous introspection -- with an earnest zeal unmatched since mid-'80s U2, whose anthemic sound they frequently strive for. Similarly, Eddie Vedder's impressionistic lyrics often make their greatest impact through the passionate commitment of his delivery rather than concrete meaning. His voice had a highly distinctive timbre that perfectly fit the album's warm, rich sound, and that's part of the key -- no matter how cathartic Ten's tersely titled songs got, they were never abrasive enough to affect the album's accessibility. Ten also benefited from a long gestation period, during which the band honed the material into this tightly focused form; the result is a flawlessly crafted hard rock masterpiece. AMG.
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Little Feat - Hoy-Hoy! 1981

Perhaps realizing that Down on the Farm wasn't the proper swan song for Little Feat, the group persuaded Warner Brothers to release a compilation of rarities and overlooked tracks as a swan song and farewell to fans. Filled with live performances, obscurities, album tracks, and a new song apiece from Bill Payne and Paul Barrere, Hoy Hoy is a bit scattered, a bit incoherent, a little bewildering, and wholly delightful -- a perfect summation of a group filled with quirks, character, and funk, traits which were as much a blessing as they were a curse. Hoy Hoy is one of those rare albums that may be designed for diehards -- who else really needs radio performances, early recordings from before the band was signed, and outtakes, especially if they're surrounded by early album tracks? -- but still is a great introduction for novices. That doesn't mean it's as good as such masterpieces as Sailin' Shoes, Dixie Chicken, or Waiting for Columbus, but it does capture the group's careening, freewheeling spirit, humor, and musical versatility, arguably better than any single album. That's one of the nice things compilations like this can do -- they can summarize what a band was all about in a way a straight studio album couldn't. So, that's why it may be a good gateway into the band for novices, even though it's missing such essentials as "Willin'" and "Fat Man in the Bathtub," but it's truly for the dedicated, who will not only love the rarities (and these live cuts are hotter, on whole, than Columbus) but will savor the context. AMG.
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Omar and the Howlers - Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty 1987

The European blues fans all adore Austin, TX-based guitarist and singer/songwriter Omar Kent Dykes. That's because he fits the stereotypical image many of them have of the American musician: he's tall, wears cowboy boots and has a deep voice with a Southern accent. However, Dykes does not carry a gun, and though he looks rough and tough, he's actually an incredibly peaceful and intelligent musician, and a veteran at working a crowd in a blues club or a festival. While Dykes still has a sizeable American audience owing to his albums for Columbia Records, he still spends a good portion of his touring year at festivals and clubs around Europe. Omar Kent Dykes was born in 1950, in McComb, MS, the same town from which Bo Diddley hails. He first set foot into neighborhood juke joints at age 12 and after he'd been playing guitar for a while, he went back into the juke joint. After graduating from high school, Dykes lived in Hattiesburg and Jackson, MS, for a few years before relocating to Austin in 1976. He'd heard the blues scene in Texas was heating up. At that time, Stevie Ray Vaughan was still playing with Paul Ray & the Cobras. By the early '80s, Omar & the Howlers had gained a solid reputation for their invigorating live shows. They also released two albums on independent labels, Big Leg Beat (1980), followed four years later by I Told You So. Among white blues musicians, Dykes is truly one of a kind, a fact Columbia Records recognized in the mid-'80s when they signed Omar & the Howlers. Unfortunately, it was a fleeting relationship at best. After releasing Hard Times in the Land of Plenty (1987) and Wall of Pride (1988) the band was dropped when the company was bought by Sony. While it was inconvenient, it didn't stop Dykes. His post-1990 output has been nothing short of extraordinary. Starting in 1991, Omar & the Howlers recorded three discs for Rounder/Bullseye Blues: Live at Paradiso (1991), followed by Blues Bag and Courts of Lulu (both in 1992). In 1995, they switched to the Austin, TX-based Watermelon Records and released Muddy Springs Road (1995), World Wide Open (1996), and Southern Style (1997). After 15 years of dealing with record contracts, Dykes needed a break from being tied down to one particular label for any length of time. Since then, he and the Howlers have released excellent discs on Discovery (Monkey Land) (1997) Black Top (Swing Land) (1999), Blind Pig (Big Delta) (2002), and Ruf Records (Boogie Man) (2004). A live set recorded in Germany, Bamboozled, appeared from Ruf Records in 2006. AMG.
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Robert Glasper Trio - Mood - 2003

“Real music is crash protected,” state the liner notes of Black Radio, a future landmark album by the Robert Glasper Experiment that boldly stakes out new musical territory and transcends any notion of genre, drawing from jazz, hip-hop, R&B and rock, but refusing to be pinned down by any one tag. Like an aircraft’s black box for which the album is titled, Black Radio holds the truth and is indestructible.

Robert Glasper has long kept one foot planted firmly in jazz and the other in hip-hop and R&B. He’s worked extensively with Q-Tip, playing keyboards on the rapper’s 2008 album The Renaissance and co-writing the album single “Life Is Better” which featured his label mate Norah Jones. Glasper also serves as the music director in yasiin bey’s touring band, and has toured with the multi-platinum R&B singer Maxwell.

The Los Angeles Times once wrote that “it’s a short list of jazz pianists who have the wherewithal to drop a J Dilla reference into a Thelonious Monk cover, but not many jazz pianists are Robert Glasper,” adding that “he’s equally comfortable in the worlds of hip-hop and jazz,” and praising the organic way in which he “builds a bridge between his two musical touchstones.”

Glasper drove that point home with his last album, 2009’s Double-Booked, which was split neatly in half. The first part featured his acoustic Trio, which had gathered a great deal of acclaim in the jazz world and beyond over the course of two previous Blue Note albums (2005’s Canvas and 2007’s In My Element). The second part featured his electric Experiment band and hinted at things to come, even earning the keyboardist his first GRAMMY nomination for “All Matter,” a collaboration with the singer Bilal that was among the contenders in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category in 2010.

With Black Radio, the Experiment band has fully arrived. Featuring Glasper on piano and Fender Rhodes, Casey Benjamin on vocoder and saxophone, Derrick Hodge on electric bass, and Chris Dave on drums, the band is plugged in and open source. Each of the band members is prodigiously talented and lives naturally in multiple musical worlds, distilling countless influences into a singular voice. “That’s what makes this band unique,” says Glasper. “We can go anywhere, literally anywhere, we want to go. We all have musical ADD and we love it.”

Black Radio also features many of Glasper’s famous friends from across the spectrum of urban music, seamlessly incorporating appearances from a jaw-dropping roll call of special guests including Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, Lalah Hathaway, Shafiq Husayn (Sa-Ra), KING, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Musiq Soulchild, Meshell Ndegeocello, Stokley Williams (Mint Condition), and yasiin bey.

“I wanted to do a record that showcased the fact that we play with artists in other genres,” explains Glasper, adding that the album has “more of an urban, hip-hop, soul kind of vibe, but the spine of it all is still a jazz spine.”

What may be most remarkable about Black Radio is how Glasper (who also produced the record) was able to weave all these different voices into a cohesive album, avoiding the random patchwork feel that many “special guest” projects suffer from. “The record doesn’t seem like it’s a special guest record because of the relationships we all have,” he says. “These are all friends. All the guests on the album have musical similarities.”

That common ground and comfort level is what created the spontaneous spirit of adventure and experimentation that permeated the recording sessions, which all the band members describe as being more fun than work. Friends would drop by the studio in Los Angeles to hang out, listen to the band, get inspired, and jump into the vocal booth to lay down a track. “These are all people who are known for being in another genre,” says Glasper, “but at heart they’re jazz musicians, so they’re like ‘Let’s hit it. We don’t really know what’s going to happen but let’s go for it and see what happens.’ We all have that in common, which is why I chose the people I chose.”

“You can’t pigeonhole what we’re going to do or how we’re going to do it,” Glasper declares. The Experiment wears its eclecticism on its sleeve throughout Black Radio, presenting new collaborative originals and surprising cover songs. They transform the Afro-Cuban standard “Afro Blue” with Badu, Sade’s “Cherish the Day” with Hathaway, David Bowie’s “Letter to Hermione” with Bilal, and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with Benjamin’s vocoder vocal.

Glasper and Lupe Fiasco (whose recent gig together at the Blue Note Club in New York became a freestyle jam session when Kanye West and yasiin bey crashed the stage) co-wrote “Always Shine” which features Fiasco’s lyrical flow as well as a searing chorus sung by Bilal. On “Gonna Be Alright,” the R&B singer Ledisi highlights Glasper’s bright melodicism by writing new lyrics for his instrumental “F.T.B.” from the In My Element album.

The track “Ah Yeah” (a co-production with Glasper’s high school friend, the GRAMMY-winning producer Bryan-Michael Cox) is illustrative of the good fate that hung over the sessions. Glasper went to Atlanta to record with Musiq Soulchild at Cox’s studio. At a show the night before the session Glasper ran into singer Chrisette Michele and asked her to come by the studio as well the next day. The resulting duet is one of the album’s highlights.

Reflecting back, Glasper is rightly proud of Black Radio, but also humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support and talent that it took to bring the album into being. “Everyone just said yes, period, we’ll do it. It was smoother than I ever thought it would be to get all these great, amazing artists to come together and do this project.” http://robertglasper.com/bio/.
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U2 - The Joshua Tree 1987

Using the textured sonics of The Unforgettable Fire as a basis, U2 expanded those innovations by scaling back the songs to a personal setting and adding a grittier attack for its follow-up, The Joshua Tree. It's a move that returns them to the sweeping, anthemic rock of War, but if War was an exploding political bomb, The Joshua Tree is a journey through its aftermath, trying to find sense and hope in the desperation. That means that even the anthems -- the epic opener "Where the Streets Have No Name," the yearning "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" -- have seeds of doubt within their soaring choruses, and those fears take root throughout the album, whether it's in the mournful sliding acoustic guitars of "Running to Stand Still," the surging "One Tree Hill," or the hypnotic elegy "Mothers of the Disappeared." So it might seem a little ironic that U2 became superstars on the back of such a dark record, but their focus has never been clearer, nor has their music been catchier, than on The Joshua Tree. Unexpectedly, U2 have also tempered their textural post-punk with American influences. Not only are Bono's lyrics obsessed with America, but country and blues influences are heard throughout the record, and instead of using these as roots, they're used as ways to add texture to the music. With the uniformly excellent songs -- only the clumsy, heavy rock and portentous lyrics of "Bullet the Blue Sky" fall flat -- the result is a powerful, uncompromising record that became a hit due to its vision and its melody. Never before have U2's big messages sounded so direct and personal. AMG.
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segunda-feira, 12 de março de 2012

The Musicians Of The Nile - Charcoal Gypsies 1998

The Musicians of the Nile have shared the musical traditions of the Sudan with international audiences for more than a quarter of a century. The group continues to weave a sound that Mojo described as "one hundred years of Egyptian spirituality in one neat package," and has been toasted by such jazz/avant-garde musicians as Keith Jarrett and the late Sun Ra. A concert by the Musicians of the Nile was described by Run Productions as "the shrill of the mizmar, the abrupt narrative voice, the incisive rhythm of the tabla, the modal melancholy of the arghul, transforming the stage into a village feast."

Formed in the Egyptian city of Abu-al-Djud (now Luxor), the Musicians of the Nile reflect the singing tradition of Egypt's gypsy families. Their first steps toward global success were taken after they caught the attention of ethno-musicologist Alain Weber, who agreed to become their manager. With his support, the band began to tour throughout Europe. Their performance at the first WOMAD Festival (World of Music and Dance Festival) in 1983 led to the band being signed by Peter Gabriel's RealWorld-Caroline record label and their guest appearance on Gabriel's album Passion. The Musicians of the Nile appeared at the Gypsy Festival in Florence in 1991 and the Gypsy Festival in Lucerne in 1995. AMG.
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Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball 2012

Heavy lies the crown on Bruce Springsteen's head. Alone among his generation -- or any subsequent generation, actually -- he has shouldered the burden of telling the stories of the downtrodden in the new millennium, a class whose numbers increase by the year, a fact that weighs on Springsteen throughout 2012's Wrecking Ball. Such heavy-hearted rumination is not unusual for the Boss. Ever since The Rising, his 2002 return to action, a record deliberately tailored to address the lingering anger and sorrow from 9/11, Springsteen has eschewed the frivolous in favor of the weighty, escalating his dry, dusty folk and operatic rock in tandem, all in hopes of pushing the plight of the forgotten into public consciousness. Each of his five albums since The Rising have been tailored for the specific political moment -- Devils & Dust ruminated over forgotten Americans in the wake of the Iraq war; We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions was an election year rallying call; Magic struggled to find meaning in these hard times; Working on a Dream saw hope in the dawning days of Obama -- and it’s no mistake that Wrecking Ball fuses elements of all four into an election year state of the union: Bruce is taking stock of where we are and how we’ve gotten here, urging us to push forward. If that sounds a bit haughty, it also plays that way. Springsteen has systematically removed any element of fun -- "Mary’s Place" is the only original in the past decade that could be called a party song -- along with all the romance or any element of confessional songwriting. He has adopted the mantle of the troubadour and oral historian, telling tales of the forgotten and punctuating them with rallying calls to action. Wrecking Ball contains more of the latter than any of its predecessors, summoning the masses to rise up against fatcat bankers set to singalongs lifted from Seeger. There's an unshakable collectivist hootenanny feel on Wrecking Ball, not to mention allusions to gospel including a borrowed refrain from "This Train," but Springsteen takes pains to have the music feel modern, inviting Tom Morello to do aural paintings with his guitar, threading some trip-hop rhythms into the mix, and finding space for a guest rap on "Rocky Ground." As admirable as the intent is, the splices between old-fashioned folk protests and dour modernity become too apparent, possibly because there's so little room to breathe on the album -- the last recorded appearance of Clarence Clemons helps lift "Land of Hope and Dreams" above the rest -- possibly because the message has been placed before the music. Springsteen is so focused on preaching against creeping inequality in the U.S. that he's wound up honing his words and not his music, letting the big-footed stomps and melancholy strumming play second fiddle to the stories. Consequently, Wrecking Ball feels cumbersome and top heavy, Springsteen sacrificing impassioned rage in favor of explaining his intentions too clearly. AMG.
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U2 - October 1981

U2 sounded so confident and assured on their debut that perhaps it was inevitable they would stumble slightly on its follow-up, October. The record isn't weaker than its predecessor because it repeats the formula of Boy. It's because the band tries too hard to move forward. Bono, in particular, tries too hard to make big political, emotional, and religious statements, but the remainder of the band isn't innocent. In general, the music is too pompous, with the sound overwhelming the actual songs. But when U2 do marry the message, melody, and sound together, as on "Gloria," "I Threw a Brick Through a Window," and "I Fall Down," the results are thoroughly impressive. AMG.
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Luambo Makiadi et le Tout Puissat O.K. Jazz - Candidat na biso Mobutu 1984

When Congolese jazz guitarist Franco Makiadi died in 1989, the whole of Zaire (formerly the Belgian Congo) went into mourning; it was a fitting farewell for a musician who, over the course of 40 years, issued over 150 albums, containing more than 1000 songs, and who had a decisive influence on the shape of African music.

Franco began his musical ventures with a homemade guitar, recorded his first single, "Bolingo Na Ngai Beatrice," at the age of 13, and by the age of 15 was a regularly contracted recording artist with the Loningisa Studio's house band. Part of Franco's appeal lay in his winning looks and common man accessibility, but as much as this, he was known for his inventive guitar style. In 1956, Franco helped form OK Jazz (later TPOK Jazz), a band that was to define Congolese music for decades. Franco's sound was an easy blend of Cuban rumba and Congolese rhythm. A fruit of the government's drive to promote authentic Congolese culture, Franco's was categorically a music performed to be danced to. Although Franco worked within and through the praise song tradition, he was not above preaching at times, for which he occasionally found himself in jail. Such brushes with the law only served to heighten the kudos that surrounded the man and his music.

A dominant motif in his repertoire was the often uneasy relationship between the sexes, a friction that he deplored and worked hard to alleviate. The distillation of this philosophy can be heard on Mario & Response de Mario. In 1988, Franco released a dire musical warning to his fans to avoid contracting AIDS. His own death, the following year, fuelled rumors that he had himself died from AIDS-related complications, although these were never substantiated. What will remain in people's minds is the incredible legacy bequethed by Franco to both Zaire and to the world. AMG. Thanks to African Music
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Joe Morello - Joe Morello 1962

A brilliant drummer, Joe Morello played early on with Phil Woods and Sal Salvador. He had short stints during 1952-1953 with Johnny Smith, Stan Kenton's Orchestra, and Gil Melle, but really gained a strong reputation for his work with the Marian McPartland Trio (1953-1956); he also played during the period with Tal Farlow and Jimmy Raney. Morello gained fame as a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet during 1956-1967, making it possible for Brubeck to experiment with unusual time signatures. Due to his failing eyesight (he went blind in 1976), Morello mostly worked as a drum instructor in later years (Danny Gottlieb was a student), but still played and participated in reunions with Brubeck and McPartland. He led sessions for Score (1956), RCA (1961-1962), Ovation (1969), and DMP (1993-1994). Morello died on March 12, 2011 at his home in Irvington, NJ. He was 82.
In 1961, Joe Morello, drummer with the Dave Brubeck Quartet for the past six years (with six more years to go), received an opportunity to lead his own album. It's About Time featured ten songs with the word "time" in their title. Of these, five of the six quintet selections (starring Phil Woods and a young Gary Burton) and two of the four other songs (which has the quintet augmented by a brass section) are on this, along with a totally unreleased big band session from the following year. A powerful drummer with impressive technique, Morello is also a master of subtlety and, although an important part of this set, does not dominate the music. With Manny Albam contributing the arrangements, It's About Time was a happy surprise, a hard-driving set of swinging music. AMG.
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Lee Garrett - Heat For the Feets 1976

Songwriter Lee Garrett co-wrote Steve Wonder's number one R&B hit "Signed, Sealed and Delivered I'm Yours"; the Wonder-produced number one R&B hit by Jermaine Jackson, "Let's Get Serious"; and The Spinners' "It's a Shame." Garrett's resumé includes stints as the music director for Philadelphia soul music radio station WHAT and singing in nightclubs. Garrett first met Wonder at the Michigan School for fhe Blind. The two began writing songs together with the first fruit of their collaboration being the Spinners' 1968 Motown number four R&B hit "It's a Shame." "Signed, Sealed and Delivered I'm Yours," co-written by Garrett, Wonder, Syreeta Wright (who had a Motown number four pop hit duet with Billy Preston, "With You I'm Born Again"), and Lula Mae Hardaway, held the number one R&B spot for six weeks and went to number three pop on Billboard's charts in summer 1970. The Signed, Sealed Delivered I'm Yours LP peaked at number 25 pop in fall 1970.

In 1976, Garrett signed to Chrysalis and had a moderate R&B hit with "You're My Everything," taken from his lone solo album, Heat for the Feets. Back with Stevie Wonder, he wrote the kinetic "Let's Get Serious" for Jermaine Jackson, which parked at number one R&B for six weeks and hit number nine pop in spring 1980. The Let's Get Serious album went gold, going to number six pop in summer 1980. AMG.
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sábado, 10 de março de 2012

U2 - Boy 1980

From the outset, U2 went for the big message -- every song on their debut album Boy sounds huge, with oceans of processed guitars cascading around Bono's impassioned wail. It was an inspired combination of large, stadium-rock beats and post-punk textures. Without the Edge's echoed, ringing guitar, U2 would have sounded like a traditional hard rock band, since the rhythm section and Bono treat each song as an anthem. Of course, that's the charm of Boy: all of its emotions are on the surface, delivered with optimistic, youthful self-belief, yet the unusual, distinctive guitar textures give it an unexpected tension that makes it an exhilarating debut. The songs may occasionally show some weakness -- the driving "I Will Follow," the dark "An Cat Dubh," and the shimmering "The Ocean" stand out among the sonic textures -- yet the band's musical and lyrical vision keep Boy compelling until the finish. AMG.
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Courtney Pine - Underground 1997

The first thing that becomes clear on Courtney Pine's Underground is that the hip-hop-jazz hybrids of the 1990s (such as Digable Planets, A Tribe Called Quest, US3, or even the Dream Warriors) missed their target; the combination is much stronger when it's jazz-hip-hop, and the latter becomes a textural element. Pine sticks to his guns-frenetic melodies, engaging song structures, and a keen ability to keep his jazz cool and never lite. Those talents shine further when given the icing of exquisite samples, particularly when the rapid-fire cuts and sharp sense of humor show a respect for turntablism. And lest Pine's jazz fans be dismayed, tracks like "Invisible" seamlessly slip back into Pine's masterful (more traditional) jazz persona. Of particular note is "Tryin' Times," one of the few tracks with vocals, which acts as both a lounge singer vehicle as well as venue for Pine's dizzying saxophone acrobatics. Underground is a great introduction to Pine's work, and if there's any justice, will someday be recognized as a benchmark jazz-hip-hop hybrid experiment. AMG.
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Afro Celt Sound System - Volume 1 Sound Magic 1996

The traditional music of Western Africa and Ireland is fused into a seamless blend by Afro Celt Sound System. The band's exciting performances have become a popular attraction at the WOMAD festival in Reading, England, since 1995, while their 1996 debut album, Volume 1, remains one of the most successful examples of cultural exchange. Afro Celt Sound System bring together top-ranked musicians, including traditional Irish vocalist Iarla O'Lionard, uillean pipers Davy Spillane (Moving Hearts) and Ronan Browne, whistle player James McNally (the Pogues), Kenyan nyatiti player Ayub Ogada, and Baaba Maal bandmembers Kauwding Cissakho and Massamba Diop. Jo Bruce, the son of British bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce (Cream), rounds out the group on keyboards and electronic programming. Several tracks on the band's debut album, produced by Grammy-nominated producer Simon Emmerson, featured members of Shoonglenifty on mandolin, bongos, banjo, guitar, and fiddle. Released initially on the EMD/Real World label, Volume 1 was issued in the U.S. by Caroline Records. Afro Celt Sound System made their U.S. concert debut in July 1997. Their second album, Volume 2: Release, was finally issued in 1999 by Real World. Volume 3: Further in Time, which featured guest vocals on "Life Begins Again" by Robert Plant, was released in spring 2001. Seed followed in 2003, with the accompanying Pod DVD arriving the following year. In 2005 the group found a new home on the Narada label with Volume 5: Anatomic. AMG.
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Johnny Hartman - Songs From The Heart 1956

Johnny Hartman's album debut is a set of tender ballads, each word of which is treasured by Hartman's expansive, evocative voice. The ballads appear not only especially chosen, but practically written with Hartman in mind. He shines on highlights like "I Fall in Love Too Easily," "We'll Be Together Again," "Moonlight in Vermont," and "I See Your Face Before Me," often transforming midtempo songs into completely downtempo ballads and shifting the emphasis on different beats with his phrasing. The backing -- from drummer Ralph Sharon, trumpeter Howard McGhee, bassist Jay Cave, and drummer Christy Febbo -- is soft, spare, and completely supportive. A CD reissue by Bethlehem Archives adds six bonus tracks, alternate takes of tracks from the original LP. AMG.
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David Murray Quartet - A Sanctuary Within 1991

Initially an inheritor of an abstract/expressionist improvising style originated in the '60s by such saxophonists as Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, David Murray eventually evolved into something of a mainstream tenorist, playing standards with conventional rhythm sections. However, Murray's readings of the old chestnuts are vastly different from interpretations by bebop saxophonists of his generation. Murray's sound is deep, dark, and furry with a wide vibrato -- reminiscent of such swing-era tenorists as Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. And his approach to chord changes is unique. Although it's apparent that he's well-versed in harmony, Murray seldom adheres faithfully to the structure of a tune. He's adapted the expressive techniques of his former free jazz self (slurred glissandi, indefinite pitches, ambiguous rhythms, and altissimo flights) to his straight-ahead playing, with good results. He'll plow right through a composition like "'Round Midnight," hitting just enough roots, thirds, fifths, and sevenths to define the given harmonies, then filling every other available space with non-chord tones that may or may not resolve properly. In other words, he plays the wrong notes, in the same way that Eric Dolphy played the wrong notes. Like Dolphy, Murray makes it work by dint of an unwavering conviction. The sheer audacity of his concept, the passionate fury of his attack, and the spontaneity of his lines -- in other words, the manifest success of his aesthetic -- make questions of right and wrong irrelevant.

Murray's parents were musical; his mother played piano and his father guitar. In his youth, Murray played music in church with his parents and two brothers. He was introduced to jazz while a student in the Berkeley school system, playing alto sax in a school band. When he was 13, he played in a local group called the Notations of Soul. Hearing Sonny Rollins inspired Murray to switch from alto to tenor. He attended Pomona College, where he studied with a former Ornette Coleman sideman, trumpeter Bobby Bradford. Around this time, he was influenced by the writer Stanley Crouch, whom he met at Pomona. Murray moved to New York at the age of 20, during the city's loft jazz era -- a time when free jazz found a home in deserted industrial spaces and other undervalued bits of urban real estate below 14th Street. Murray and Crouch opened their own loft space, which they called Studio Infinity. Crouch occasionally played drums in Murray's trio with bassist Mark Dresser. In a relatively short time, Murray (with help from his unofficial publicity agent, Crouch) acquired a reputation as a potential great. Murray's early work was exceedingly raw, based as it was on the example of Ayler, who had a penchant for multiphonics, distorted timbres, extremes of volume, and forays into the horn's uppermost reaches and beyond. He made his first albums in 1976, Flowers for Albert (India Navigation) and Low Class Conspiracy (Adelphi), with a rhythm section of bassist Fred Hopkins and drummer Phillip Wilson. Also in 1976, Murray became -- with Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, and Hamiet Bluiett -- a founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet. Around this time, Murray was commissioned by theatrical impresario Joseph Papp to assemble a big band, which enjoyed a degree of critical success. Out of the big band came the formation of an octet, which provided him a platform for his increasingly ambitious compositions.

In the '80s, Murray performed with the WSQ, his octet, and various small bands, recording mostly for the Italian Black Saint label. His octet records of the time -- though very roughly executed -- showed him to be a talented (if unformed) composer. Murray's recording activity reached nearly absurd levels in the '80s and '90s; probably no contemporary jazz musician has led more dates on more labels. It was in the '80s that Murray began relying more on the standard jazz repertoire, especially in his small ensemble work. As he got older, the wilder elements of that style were toned down or refined. Murray incorporated free jazz gestures into a more fully rounded voice that also drew on the mainstream of the jazz improvising tradition.

In the 1990s, the influence of his swing- and bop-playing elders became stronger, even as the passionate abandon and spontaneity that marked his early work were replaced by his attention to the craft of playing the horn. Murray recorded just as often as he had with Black Saint. DIW signed a distribution deal with Columbia in the early '90s. He recorded a number of important albums during that decade, including Special Quartet with McCoy Tyner, Fred Hopkins, and Elvin Jones and Shakill's Warrior with Don Pullen on Hammond B-3, drummer Andrew Cyrille, and guitarist Stanley Franks -- the latter stretched the B-3 soul-jazz genre into entirely new terrain. He cut a one-off album for Red Baron entitled Jazzosaurus Rex, and fronted Pierre Dørge's New Jungle Orchestra for the Jazzpar Prize album. During this period, Murray's Black Saint albums began to appear as reissues on CD, so record store shelves were bursting with his titles. In 1995 Murray released one of the most compelling and little-known albums in his career on France's Bleuregard imprint. Flowers Around Cleveland was recorded with pianist Bobby Few, drummer John Betsch, and bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel -- the rhythm section from the Steve Lacy Quartet. It was a risky match that paid off gloriously; it offered proof that in spite of his towering presence as a soloist, Murray was also a sensitive stylist and team player.

In fact, Murray became an inimitable stylist, which was underscored by DIW's release of Ballads for Bass Clarinet that same year. He threw jazz fans a true and deeply satisfying curve ball in releasing Dark Star: The Music of the Grateful Dead on Astor Place, with a large group that included Hopkins, Craig Harris, and even the Dead's own Bob Weir. Murray also began a long and fruitful relationship with Justin Time, a Canadian label distributed through Enja. He recorded what was -- at the time -- the most revolutionary and controversial recording of his career in Fo Deuk Revue, which featured a large group of African and American musicians, with layers of drums and chanted vocals along with poetry and recitations by Amiri Baraka. It wove together funk, jazz, and various African folk styles that began to draw Murray in. They would emerge full-blown in the 21st century. In 1998 he issued four albums of new material. First was another variation on the B-3 soul tip with Jug-A-Lug on DIW, his tribute to the music of Gene Ammons with organist Robert Irving, electric bassist Darryl Jones, and guitarists Bobby Broom and Darryl Thompson, with Olu Dara guesting on trumpet. This was followed on the same label by the moving The Long Goodbye: A Tribute to Don Pullen and the stellar The Tip. Murray also recorded his second album for Justin Time in 1998 with Creole, a large-group album that offered a meld of jazz as influenced by numerous Latin and Brazilian styles. Murray also continued to record and tour with the World Saxophone Quartet.

In the 21st century, Murray began the decade prolifically. In 2000 he released three albums and in 2001 four. Of these, the most satisfying was the 2000 release Octet Plays Trane on Justin Time. In 2002 Murray made the stellar Yonn-Dé for the label, his first David Murray & the Gwo-Ka Masters offering; the others would be 2004's Gwotet (with Pharoah Sanders) and 2009's The Devil Tried to Kill Me. Murray issued a dizzying array of recordings in that first decade, including Now Is Another Time with his Latin Big Band, Waltz Again in 2005 featuring his quartet in a setting backed by strings, and Silence in 2008, as well as five more with the WSQ. In 2010, Murray's complete Black Saint and Soul Note recordings were given the box set treatment. His first recording of new material in the century's second decade found the saxophonist on Emarcy with a new band called the David Murray Cuban Ensemble. Their debut for the label was Plays Nat King Cole en Español, released in October of 2011, which interpreted, song for song, two albums the singer and pianist recorded in Spanish and Portuguese -- in 1958 and 1962 -- respectively. Murray's fiery persona as a vanguard improviser still reveals itself in his performances and on select recordings. That said, manifested more frequently now are his abilities as an artful composer, arranger, and bandleader who also happens to be a master technician on the tenor saxophone and bass clarinet. AMG.
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terça-feira, 6 de março de 2012

Jimmy Carl Black & The X-tra Combo - Mercedes Benz 2003

While it is certainly one of the best representations of rock veteran Jimmy Carl Black as a vocalist, Mercedes Benz slightly suffers from a touch of schizophrenia, as if it was a "mercy-D" with an ashtray belonging to a lesser brand of car. The effect is not the result of the CD being made up of material from two different sessions, one in 1997 and one in 2001. That production aspect comes together seamlessly. The X-Tra Combo is what might be called a rock & roll and rhythm & blues show band, a couple of horns and a couple of keyboards adding to a sound that is much bigger than the number of people on-stage. On the lion's share of the CD's tracks, Black is backed up on various songs from a repertoire he has slowly been building up in his various activities with bands such as the Grandmothers, the Muffin Men, and so forth. These numbers come off so vividly that it almost seems like carping, or complaining about the ashtray in a beautiful car, to mention that when vocalists from the X-Tra Combo take over and Black steps down there is a diminishing in personality, if not technical quality. The tracks without Black in part go for more of a swing feel, a bit like a Brian Setzer performance in this style. It is good music, but simply not as enjoyable as the Black vocal repertoire, a span that covers authentic blues, goofy Zappa, and vintage psychedelia. "Low Ridin' Man" is a songwriting collaboration from years back with Tjay Cantrelli, once a member of Love as well as Black's Geronimo Black project in the '70s. "Big Leg Emma" and "Road Ladies" are from the Zappa think-tank and like many of the performances here might be the ultimate versions of Black doing these songs, the X-Tra Combo playing as tight as a tick's grip on the back of a dog. The reading of "I'm Willin'" stands up alongside any of the other myriad versions of this Lowell George epistle, and Black's own compositions, including "Lady Queen Bee," are played with punch as opposed to the Grandmothers' light slap. AMG.
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Seawind - Seawind 1976

This influential late-'70s pop/jazz outfit boasted in-the-pocket grooves, clever horn charts, and Pauline Wilson's signature vocals set to lyrics that (more often than not) clearly communicated a Christian world view. In their peak, Seawind produced only three albums, but Pauline and husband/drummer Bob released an album in the early '80s, and various other members have made their mark in the L.A. studios, playing on a myriad of projects.
Imagine this: a Hawaiian band that could play gritty, Tower of Power-influenced funk one minute and instrumental jazz fusion the next, and often expressed a Christian viewpoint. Seawind really did fit that description, and while such uniqueness would terrify a lot of marketing people, it earned the Hawaiian outfit a small but loyal cult following. Seawind wasn't nearly as big as it deserved to be, but those who were hip to the band really swore by it. Produced by drummer Harvey Wilson in 1976, Seawind is a superb, highly imaginative debut that thrives on diversity. Singer Pauline Wilson excels on sweaty funk gems like "Make Up Your Mind," "We Got a Way," and "You Gotta Be Willing to Lose," and she is equally expressive on more jazz-oriented offerings such as "The Devil Is a Liar" and "He Loves You" (both of which underscore her Christian beliefs). Meanwhile, Wilson doesn't do any singing at all on the jazz fusion instrumentals "Roadways" and "Praise." Although Seawind fared well on quiet storm formats, black radio tended to shy away from the album. And at the same time, Seawind didn't appeal to jazz purists. But even if Seawind was, from a commercial standpoint, too eclectic for its own good, this LP never sounds unfocused -- the band knew exactly what it was doing in 1976. All of Seawind's albums are worth owning, but this one is arguably its most essential.  AMG
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Harvey Mason - Marching in the Street 1976

Throughout his career, Harvey Mason has been a busy studio musician and a highly versatile drummer able to excel in many different situations. Mason attended Berklee and graduated from the New England Conservatory. Early gigs included four months with Erroll Garner in 1970 and a year with George Shearing from 1970-71. Soon after leaving Shearing, Mason moved to Los Angeles and quickly became established in the studios, working in films and television. In addition to his anonymous work through the years, Mason has often been part of the jazz world. He played with Herbie Hancock's Headhunters in 1973, Gerry Mulligan during a 1974 Carnegie Hall concert, Freddie Hubbard, Grover Washington Jr. (appearing on Mister Magic), Lee Ritenour, Victor Feldman, George Benson (playing drums on "This Masquerade") and Bob James, among many others. In 1998, Mason paid tribute to Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in some local Los Angeles club gigs. Mason's two albums as a leader (commercial efforts for Arista in 1975 and 1981) feature fellow studio vets. AMG.
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Jack Bruce - Things We Like 1970

Enthusiasts expecting to hear a continuation of the type of material that Jack Bruce (bass) had been responsible for during his tenure(s) with Cream or the Graham Bond Organisation might be in for quite a shock when spinning Things We Like (1970) for the first time. Instead of an album's worth of blues-based rockers, the seven instrumentals feature Bruce with other former Graham Bond stablemates John McLaughlin (guitar), Jon Hiseman (drums), and Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax) performing post-bop and free jazz. A majority of the compositions were penned by Bruce in his preteen days of formal scholarship at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, where he also mastered the cello and composed a string quartet at the age of 11. After having gained significant clout from Cream, Bruce assembled what was initially a trio. However, after a chance meeting with McLaughlin -- who was so broke he had to refuse an offer to fly stateside to join the newly formed Tony Williams Lifetime -- Bruce incorporated the guitarist into the fold in order to help him finance his journey, which was ultimately successful. The entire effort was recorded and mixed in less than a week during August of 1968 -- less than three months prior to the infamous Farewell Concert of Cream at the Royal Albert Hall on November 26, 1968.

As a testament to Bruce's expansive musical tastes, capabilities, and horizons, this disc sounds more like a collection of Rahsaan Roland Kirk sides than anything even remotely connected with Cream. This is especially true of the frenetic pacing of the brief opener, "Over the Cliff." Heckstall-Smith's ability to perform alto and soprano saxophone simultaneously likewise lends itself to Kirk's distinct reed polyphony. "Statues" is an interesting exercise, again with Heckstall-Smith providing some excellent extemporaneous blows during the darkly toned introduction working well against the nimble melody. While Hiseman's style is decidedly less aggressive than that of Ginger Baker, his drumming helps to amalgamate the song's various sections. McLaughlin's unmistakably sinuous leads are commanding throughout the "Sam Enchanted Dick" medley, with a cover of Milt Jackson's "Sam's Sack" and a Heckstall-Smith original titled "Rills Thrills." The tempo is slowed on the smoky cover of Mel Tormé's "Born to Be Blue." This interpretation is part West Coast cool and part Chicago-style blues. McLaughlin's contributions to "HCKHH Blues" is similar to that of Robert Fripp's jazzy fretwork throughout the Islands (1971) era King Crimson. While it was the first of Bruce's solo records to be recorded, he chose to issue the more rock-oriented Songs for a Tailor (1969) prior to Things We Like, which was perhaps considered an indulgent side project rather than a permanent musical diversion. [The 2003 CD reissue contains the previously unissued track "Ageing, Jack Bruce, Three, from Scotland, England," which is another brilliant Heckstall-Smith piece with all four musicians in top form -- especially McLaughlin, who provokes a variety of sonic imagery, ranging from intense fingerpicking to chiming notes and chord augmentations.] AMG.
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Ivo Papasov - Orpheus Ascending 1989

A little while before the klezmer explosion of the 90's there was Ivo Papasov and his Bulgarian Wedding Band. More Bulgarian than klezmer per se, this music nonetheless evokes a similar spirit, especially with Papasov's frenetically intense and beautiful clarinet runs and vocalist Maria Karafizieva's impassioned singing. He employs an electric and slightly funky rhythm section which, while arguably diluting the true nature of the music, does serve to make it extremely listener friendly, providing a solid ground for the wilder instrumental forays. The compositions tend to alternate from whiplash tempos to languidly mournful dirges; for every joyful wedding there's a sad funeral. No post-modern self-consciousness here, his band skitters through the rapid dances with a barely contained exuberance and shows deep respect on the laments. Papasov's solo feature, "Ivo's Dream", is a breathtaking showcase of his control, depth of feeling and sheer virtuosity and Nechko Neshev's accordion work is a joy throughout. Listeners who enjoyed many of the jazz/rock/klezmer hybrids which manifested in the 90's on labels like Tzadik owe it to themselves to check out one of the antecedents to that music, this hugely fun wedding band. Orpheus Ascending is a marvelous, impossible-to-dislike album. AMG.
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Norman Connors - Love From The Sun 1973

Like Roy Ayers, George Benson, and Patrice Rushen, Norman Connors is best known for his major R&B hits but started out as a jazz improviser. The drummer/composer was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he lived in the same neighborhood as Bill Cosby and became interested in jazz when he was only a child. As a kid in elementary school, Connors was exposed to jazz extensively thanks to such schoolmates as drummer Lex Humphries and the younger brother of bassist and Jazz Messenger-to-be Spanky De Brest. Connors was in junior high when he began sneaking into jazz clubs and sat in for Elvin Jones at a John Coltrane gig. At 13, he first got to meet his idol, Miles Davis, and started expressing his admiration for the famous trumpeter by dressing like him. Connors went on to study music at Philly's Temple University and the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Gigs with Jackie McLean, Jack McDuff, and Sam Rivers followed, and he was first recorded as a sideman when Archie Shepp employed him on his 1967 Impulse! session Magic of Ju-Ju.

After touring with Pharoah Sanders and playing on several of his albums, Connors signed with Buddah's Cobblestone label in 1972 and recorded his first album as a leader, Dance of Magic and its follow-up, Dark of Light. A few more jazz-oriented Cobblestone and Buddah dates followed, and it was in 1975 that Connors made R&B his main priority with Saturday Night Special (which included the number ten soul hit "Valentine Love"). The rest of the 1970s found Connors featuring R&B singers prominently (including Michael Henderson, Jean Carn, and the late Phyllis Hyman) and scoring such R&B hits as "We Both Need Each Other," "Once I've Been There," and the lovely "You Are My Starship." Connors, who signed with Arista in 1977, wasn't as popular or as visible in the 1980s, although he would make a comeback in the 1990s by signing with Motown's MoJazz label and focusing on both urban contemporary and crossover. The 21st century found him moving along similar lines, releasing Eternity on Starship Records in 2000 and Star Power in 2009 on Shanachie Records. AMG.
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Dweezil Zappa - My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama 1988

Son of Frank Zappa and a heavy metal disciple of Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai, Dweezil released his first album, Havin' a Bad Day, in 1986. He worked a stint as a VJ on MTV, appeared in the films Pretty in Pink and The Running Man, and had a brief sojourn in TV situation comedy with his sister Moon Unit, on 1988-1989's Normal Life. Dweezil also issued his second album, My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama, in 1988, following it in 1991 with Confessions, and subsequently took a break from solo recording. He worked in television for a time, composing the theme song to the sadly short-lived Ben Stiller Show and voicing the character of Ajax on the brilliant USA Network animated series Duckman. He next formed the band Z with brother Ahmet on vocals; the group released two albums together: 1994's Shampoohorn and 1996's Music for Pets. In addition to his work as a session guitarist, Zappa busied himself with Happy Hour ( a TV show for the USA Network which debuted in 1999 and was co-hosted with Ahmet ), and his first solo album in nine years, 2000s mostly instrumental Automatic. Following this, Dweezil fell back out of the public eye and re-dedicated himself to learning guitar, changing his style a bit and adopting many of his father's picking techniques. In 2005, he assembled a crack band of younger players and recruited FZ alumni Steve Vai, Terry Bozzio, and Napoleon Murphy Brock for the critically acclaimed Zappa Plays Zappa tour which hit the road in the summer of 2006. The band (with Brock ostensibly as the frontman) performed an entire program of Frank Zappa compositions with Vai and Bozzio appearing as guests and Dweezil himself as lead guitarist/bandleader. Between legs of that tour, he released Go with What You Know, easily his most ambitious album to date. A studio version and DVD of Zappa Plays Zappa appeared in 2008 with a live album from the project -- Return of the Son Of... -- following in 2010. AMG.
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Ibrahim Maalouf - Diagnostic 2011

A pioneering figure in the world of contemporary jazz thanks to his fusion of pop, soul, electro, hip-hop, and French chansons with the music of his Lebanese roots, Ibrahim Maalouf is widely regarded as one of the most gifted trumpeters of his generation. Born in Beirut in 1980 to a pianist mother and famous trumpeter father, Nassim, he fled to the suburbs of Paris with his family from a young age during the midst of the Lebanon civil war. Inspired by his parents' musical background, he began studying the trumpet and classical Arab music from the age of seven, and as a teen, often performed the works of Vivaldi, Purcell and Albinoni alongside his father across Europe and the Middle East. Following a well-received interpretation of Bach's 2nd Brandenburg Concerto, often considered one of the most difficult pieces in the classical trumpet repertoire, he was encouraged by French trumpeter Maurice Andre to abandon his proposed scientific career and become a professional musician instead. While studying for five years at the esteemed CNR and CNSM de Paris, he continued to develop his technical skills while participating in several European/international competitions, and playing on records by the likes of Matthieu Chedid, Arthur H, and Vincent Delerm. In 2006, he became a trumpet instructor at the CNR of Aubervilliers-La Courneuve and was regularly invited to present several master classes and recitals across the US. Inspired by Arab artists Oum Kalsoum and Fairuz, composers Mahler and Mozart and classic jazz musicians Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, he released his first studio album, Diasporas, through his own Mi'ster label in 2007, and followed it up with Diachronism in 2009, and Diagnostic in 2011. Maalouf was also the subject of Christophe Trahand's film, Souffle! (Blow), which documented his relationship with his homeland, was asked by Sting to appear on his 2009 album, If on a Winter's Night, and was a founding member of short-lived Oriental jazz outfit Farah. AMG.
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Steve Vai - Passion and Warfare 1990

Widely acclaimed as his best album, Passion and Warfare finds Steve Vai coming into his own as a composer, as well as bypassing vocals almost entirely. His style isn't quite as derivative of influences Frank Zappa and Joe Satriani as it was six years earlier on Flex-able; while some of Vai's sense of humor is still evident on tracks like the cock rock strut of "The Audience Is Listening," it is mostly replaced by a spiritual reflectiveness on ballads like "For the Love of God" and "Blue Powder" and dignified, committed rockers like "I Would Love To" and "Liberty." Vai is a more distinguished composer than most of his guitar-shredder contemporaries, and rather than simply showing off his technique, he isn't afraid to experiment or take chances in his playing. Thus, Passion and Warfare is arguably the richest and best hard rock guitar-virtuoso album of the '80s. AMG.
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Frank Zappa - You Are What You Is 1981

You Are What You Is was another of Frank Zappa's periodic post-Over-Nite Sensation efforts that concentrated on tight songwriting supported by satirical lyrics. Originally a two-record set featuring 20 songs, You Are What You Is skewered a variety of targets, from teenagers, punk rock, disco, and country music to the media, yuppies, the beauty-and-fitness industry, upper-class vice, religious hypocrisy, suicide, and the military draft -- all the trappings of Reagan-era America. Occasionally, Zappa's satirical points seem ill-thought-out, if not unnecessarily malicious; "Jumbo Go Away" is perhaps the most offensive song in Zappa's huge canon of potentially offensive songs, a tale of a whining, VD-riddled groupie who is portrayed as deserving the punch in the face she gets from an irritated musician. Despite that misstep, though, You Are What You Is is quite ambitious in scope and in general one of Zappa's most accessible later-period efforts; it's a showcase for his songwriting skills and his often acute satirical perspective, with less of the smutty humor that some listeners find off-putting. AMG.
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sábado, 3 de março de 2012

Peg Leg Sam featuring Louisiana Red - Early In The Morning 1996

Peg Leg Sam was a performer to be treasured, a member of what may have been the last authentic traveling medicine show, a harmonica virtuoso, and an extraordinary entertainer. Born Arthur Jackson, he acquired his nickname after a hoboing accident in 1930. His medicine show career began in 1938, and his repertoire -- finally recorded only in the early '70s -- reflected the rustic nature of the traveling show. "Peg" delivered comedy routines, bawdy toasts, and monologs; performed tricks with his harps (often playing two at once); and served up some juicy Piedmont blues (sometimes with a guitar accompanist, but most often by himself). Peg Leg Sam gave his last medicine-show performance in 1972 in North Carolina and was still in fine fettle when he started making the rounds of folk and blues festivals in his last years.
Recorded shortly before his death, this album features Peg Leg Sam with Louisiana Red performing a set of old-timey, traditional blues -- the kind of that was frequently heard at travelling medicine shows. Although it was recorded late in his career, the album captures the essence of Peg Leg Sam AMG.
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Zola Moon - Almost Crazy 1998

Female blues singer and songwriter Zola Moon was born in San Jose, CA, but her powerful song stylings might mislead listeners to guess that she was raised in the Deep South of Louisiana or Mississippi on grounds better known for producing great blues artists. She is self-taught, though she does mention numerous musical influences, ranging from B. B. King and Muddy Waters to Hank Williams and Tina Turner. Even with all of those wonderful influences, Zola Moon has worked hard to keep her sound all her own.

Zola Moon began her career in blues about 1983, in the San Francisco area. After seven years of performing, which helped her grow a large fan base, she finally released a debut album in 1990. It was titled Dangerous Love and recorded under the BareMoon Records label. Five years later, and with a new label, she finished work on an enjoyable sophomore offering, Lost in the Blues. It was followed in 1998 by Almost Crazy and then in 2000 by Earthquakes, Thunder, and Smiling Lighting. Some of the original blues tunes fans can sample on Zola Moon's albums are "Doll House," "Lucky Me," "I Look at the Fool," "Imagination," "Alley Cat," "Hollywood to the Hood," and "I Don't Think So."

Over the years Zola Moon has performed at concerts, festivals, and nightclubs, appearing with many artists, including Etta James, Junior Wells, Al Kooper, Albert Collins, and Elvin Bishop. Her band consists of longtime drummer Jerry Olson, guitarist Vince "the Silver Fox" Joy, and bassist Ron Battle. AMG,
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Louis Moholo - A South African Giant 2005

ouis Moholo comes from a musical family and is a self-taught drummer. His band the Cordettes took part in the 1962 Johannesburg Jazz Festival, where Moholo won first prize for drums. After this, Chris McGregor asked him to join the Blue Notes, replacing the original drummer. After leaving South Africa in 1964, the Blue Notes worked in France, Switzerland, and Denmark, finally settling in London. Of the original Blue Notes, Moholo is the one who had the time and the inclination to branch out further, his fantasy and musical sense as an improviser making him a very sought-after partner. Besides playing in the Blue Notes and McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, Moholo was the driving force behind Harry Miller's Isipingo, and soon led his own groups: the unrecorded Unit, his octet Spirits Rejoice with Kenny Wheeler and Evan Parker, and his septet Viva la Black. In the '90s, he brought a band to South Africa, and the moving experience was recorded and released as Freedom Tour (Ogun, 1993). Moholo has played with Mike Osborne (Shapes, Future Music 1999), Harry Miller, Irene Schweizer (who first met the South African in Zurich in 1964), and Peter Brötzmann (The Nearer the Bone, the Sweeter the Meat, FMP). He's also worked in a guitar-percussion trio with Derek Bailey and Thebe Lipere that works better than expected; and his duo with Cecil Taylor is pure pleasure, with Moholo's soft and melodic phrasing complementing the percussive whirls of the piano. His late-'90s efforts are often based on an extraordinary interplay with Evan Parker (Bush Fire, Ogun 1997; Foxes' Fox, Emanem 1999). Moholo is often featured in the Dedication Orchestra, created to play the music of the South African exiles, and is a member of the London Improvisors Orchestra. AMG.
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Bluesiana Triangle - Bluesiana 1990

A collaboration by Dr. John (k, g, v), David Newman (sax, fl), and Art Blakey (d), the music is an above-average mixture of jazz, blues, and funk. An excellent album, AMG.
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Bluesiana Triangle - Bluesiana II 1991

Previously, Windham Hill Records released Bluesiana Triangle, a jazz trio album by drummer Art Blakey, pianist Dr. John, and reed man David "Fathead" Newman. Blakey passed away in 1990, but in the spring of 1991, Dr. John and Newman organized this second Bluesiana session, featuring trombonist Ray Anderson, drummer Will Calhoun, bassists Essiet Okon Essiet and Jay Leonhart (on different tracks), and percussionist Joe Bonadio. The resulting music again justifies the name, blues played in a funky Louisiana style with plenty of room for extended jazzy soloing. Though much of the material was written by Dr. John and he does sing occasionally, this is not a conventional Dr. John vocal album. It does contain some excellent playing, however. AMG.
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