segunda-feira, 28 de maio de 2012

29th Street Saxophone Quartet - Pointillistic Groove 1983

The 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, a cooperative group that worked on and off into the mid-'90s before disbanding, made their debut recording in 1983 for Osmosis, a Dutch label. Although they had been working together since 1981 as a unit, they are still finding their way on this early effort, most of which was recorded live at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam. Each of the musicians wrote original pieces for these sessions. Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, easily the most recognizable player due to his status as a prominent alumni of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, is also the quartet's most accessible composer at this point, contributing two strong originals. Fellow alto saxophonist Ed Jackson (who had previously worked with George Russell, Ran Blake, and Jaki Byard's Apollo Stompers) composed "Pointillistic Groove," an uneven work with a conversational exchange between the horns and a tedious laughing sax routine that fails to hold the listener's attention. Better is his stirring arrangement of "Anthropology." Baritone saxophonist Jim Hartog penned the somewhat eerie "Still," which makes great use of unison lines, as well as arranging the standard "Love for Sale." Even though this initial effort doesn't quite reach the heights of the group's later recordings, fans of the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet will likely want to track down this now hard to find LP. AMG. listen here

Celia Cruz - Cuba's Queen of Rhythm 1991

Celia Cruz was one of Latin music's most respected vocalists. A ten-time Grammy nominee, Cruz, who sang only in her native Spanish language, received a Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement award, a National Medal of the Arts, and honorary doctorates from Yale University and the University of Miami. A street in Miami was even renamed in her honor, and Cruz's trademark orange, red, and white polka dot dress and shoes have been placed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute of Technology. The Hollywood Wax Museum includes a statue of the Cuba-born songstress. According to the European Jazz Network, Cruz "commands her realm with a down-to-earth dignity unmistakably vibrant in her wide smile and striking pose."

One of 14 children, born in the small village of Barrio Santos Suarez, Havana, Cruz was drawn to music from an early age. Her first pair of shoes was a gift from a tourist for whom she sang. In addition to spending many evenings singing her younger siblings to sleep, Cruz sang in school productions and community gatherings. Taken to cabarets and nightclubs by an aunt, she was introduced to the world of professional music. At the encouragement of a cousin, Cruz began to enter and win local talent shows. Although her father attempted to guide her toward a career as a teacher, Cruz continued to be lured by music. In a 1997 interview, she said, "I have fulfilled my father's wish to be a teacher as, through my music, I teach generations of people about my culture and the happiness that is found in just living life. As a performer, I want people to feel their hearts sing and their spirits soar." Enrolling in Cuba's Conservatory of Music in 1947, Cruz found her earliest inspiration in the singing of Afro-Cuban vocalist Paulina Alvarez. Her first break came when she was invited to join the band la Sonora Matancera in 1950. The group was revered as the Latin equivalent of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Cruz remained with the group for 15 years, touring throughout the world. She married the band's trumpet player Pedro Knight on July 14, 1962. With Fidel Castro's assuming control of Cuba in 1960, Cruz and Knight refused to return to their homeland and became citizens of the United States. Although they initially signed to perform with the orchestra of the Hollywood Palladium, Cruz and Knight eventually settled in New York. Knight became Cruz's manager in 1965, a position he held until the mid-'90s when he began to devote his attention to serving as her musical director and conductor of her band.

Leaving Sonora Matancera's band in 1965, Cruz launched her solo career with a band formed for her by Tito Puente. Despite releasing eight albums together, the collaboration failed to achieve commercial success. Cruz and Puente resumed their partnership with a special appearance at the Grammy Award ceremonies in 1987. Signed by Vaya, the sister label of Fania, Cruz recorded with Oscar D'Leon, Cheo Feliciano, and Hector Rodriquez in the mid- to late '60s. Cruz's first success since leaving Sonora Matancera came in 1974 when she recorded a duo album, Celia and Johnny, with Johnny Pacheco, trombone player and the co-owner of Fania. She subsequently began appearing with the Fania All Stars. Cruz's popularity reached its highest level when she appeared in the 1992 film The Mambo Kings. Cruz also appeared in the film The Perez Family. She sang a duet version of "Loco de Amor," with David Byrne, in the Jonathan Demme movie Something Wild. In 1998, Cruz released Duets, an album featuring her singing with Willie Colon, Angela Carrasco, Oscar D'Leon, Jose Alberto "El Canario," and la India. Cruz continued to record and perform until sidelined by a brain tumor in 2002. While recovering from surgery to remove the tumor, she managed to make it in to the studio in early 2003 to record Regalo de Alma. Her surgery was only partially successful and she died July 16, 2003. The passing of the "Queen of Salsa" left a huge gap in Latin music, but also a remarkable catalog to document her reign. AMG. listen here

Ali Hassan Kuban - Walk Like A Nubian 1991

From the first note, I knew this was a winner. Kuban immediately brings to mind Abdel Aziz el-Mubarak - the tones and melodies are very similar, but Kuban has sped up the Nubian traditional rhythms and given them a raucous party feel anchored by a perfect electric bass. He has also incorporated James Brown's "jerk" dance into the beat in a way that's hard to notice it's so seamless. The instruments are tar, winds, accordion and percussion. If your friends won't dance to this, get new friends. AMG. listen here

Pablo Milanés y Chucho Valdés - Mas alla de todo 2007

Along with Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanés was one of the crucial figures in Cuba's nueva trova popular-song movement of the late '60s; sponsored by Fidel Castro's government, the collective of nueva trova musicians were essentially supposed to reconfigure and update traditional Cuban folk musics for the nation's new, modern, post-revolutionary society. Milanés gained renown for his highly poetic lyrics and smooth yet emotional singing, becoming one of the most popular and respected Cuban musicians and songwriters of the late 20th century, and releasing a hefty number of records. He is a controversial figure to some -- exiles despise his staunch support of Castro, while others criticize his musical forays into sentimental, orchestrated jazz-pop -- but his status as one of the most important links between traditional and contemporary Cuban music has remained virtually unassailable into the new millennium. 
Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger Chucho Valdes is a highly accomplished and influential figure in the world of Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz. Born in Quivican in 1941, Valdes is the son of the similarly influential Cuban bandleader Bebo Valdes from whom Chucho first received piano lessons. Having exhibited musical talent from a young age, Valdes eventually enrolled in the Municipal Music Conservatory of Havana, graduating at age 14. Inspired by such jazz pianists as Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk, Valdes quickly formed his first jazz trio and began a fruitful period that found him landing several high-profile performance jobs in hotels around Havana including performing with the Sabor De Cuba Orchestra which was directed by his father. These performances continued throughout the '60s and allowed Valdes not only to perform with the best musicians in Cuba, but begin to formulate his own unique ideas about mixing jazz, classical and Cuban styles of music. In 1970, Valdes and his combo became the first Cuban jazz group to perform abroad after appearing at the Jazz Jamboree International Jazz Festival in Poland.

In 1973, formed the innovative and highly influential Latin jazz ensemble Irakere. The group featured various members of the Orquesta Nacional de Musica Moderna including such stars of the Cuban music scene as trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and alto saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera. With its unique mix of jazz, rock, funk, classical and traditional Cuban rhythms, Irakere was an explosive and creative ensemble that quickly caught the attention of international audiences. Although there have been many compilations of Irakere, it was the band's Grammy winning 1979 self-titled concert album, recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival a year before, that really sparked international interest in the group. Although the band's line-up has changed over the years -- D'Rivera defected to the United States in 1980 and Sandoval (who did not defect until 1990) formed his own group in 1981 -- Irakere continues to perform and record with Valdes and new members.

Although Valdes never left Cuba, the four-time Grammy winning and three-time Latin Grammy winning virtuoso has kept a high-profile touring schedule and in 2006 was named the Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Since the '80s, Valdes has released a steady flow of albums including 1986's Lucumi (Messidor), 1998's Bele Bele en la Habana (Blue Note), 2000's Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note), 2002's Fantasia Cubana: Variations on Classical Themes (Blue Note) and 2010's Chucho's Steps. AMG. listen here

Bill Frisell Band - Where In The World 1991

Bill Frisell has long been recognized as possessing one of the most unique voices in jazz guitar. On Where in the World?, he is joined by his frequent compatriots Joey Baron and Kermit Driscoll, as well as cellist Hank Roberts, for ten compositions that catch Frisell right on the cusp of his earlier days and his later, more melody-driven, work. As expected, the supporting cast is excellent, with Joey Baron especially making notable contributions. His solo on "Child at Heart" is a perfect analog to the spirit of Frisell's music, pairing the completely expected with the completely unexpected. A pervading sense of melancholy and unrest runs through Where in the World?, creating tension even when the music is at its quietest. Some of this music is downright spooky. "Unsung Heroes," for example, opens with an ominous drum groove from Baron before introducing a wailing theme doubled by Roberts and Frisell over a twisted, almost bluesy, bass ostinato. This tendency to pair beautiful melodies with dense, introspective harmony works better on Where in the World? than anywhere else in Frisell's extremely strong catalog. As for the guitarist's own playing, it is as beautiful as always. He floats ethereal melodies seemingly with the same ease (and, more importantly, from the same coherent musical mindset) as he lets loose feedback-drenched wails. One of the high points of '90s jazz guitar, Where in the World? is essential for fans of modern jazz. AMG. listen here

Carmen Souza - Protegid 2010

It's tempting to compare any female Cape Verdean singer to the godmother of the island's indigenous morna music, Cesaria Evora, but that would be unfair to a vocalist as gifted, and as singular, as Carmen Souza. For starters, although she is of Cape Verdean heritage, Souza was born in Lisbon and now resides in London. Her music, while incorporating traditional Cape Verdean elements, nods equally, if not more, to American jazz, Afro-Latin rhythms, European and Arabic melodic influences, and more. Singing in a Portuguese-based Creole, Souza -- whose longtime collaborator, producer/co-writer/chief instrumentalist Theo Pas'cal is again along for the ride on this third album by the songstress -- expands her internationalist approach by inviting musicians from numerous countries to add their colorings to the mix, the result being a hybrid that owes to all and none of its components at any given time. Souza's voice is a remarkably lithe instrument, sensual, percussive, soulful, and capable of exploring multiple moods within a given line of a given track. On "Tentê Midj," which compares life to a delectable sauce that must constantly be stirred, Souza flits from kitten-like coyness to tigress tough, traversing octaves and toying with the musicians (particularly accordionist João Frade) like a piece of yarn. Pas'cal's bass work throughout the album drives the rhythms that Souza easily rides atop, finding unexpected nuances where others might resort to the rote. On "Afri Ká," a land alternately described as joy, a red sunset, paradise, and saborsabi, Souza's own joy is palpable as she glides and swings her way through its funky dance beat and festive melody. Sometimes simplicity trumps the more complex arrangements, offering another side of the Souza-Pas'cal team: "Mara Marga," the album's closing piece, is an elegiac ballad that utilizes double bass, acoustic piano, oud and voice to state its case, and the title track (which translates to "Protected") likewise keeps the instrumentation sparse but serves up an intoxicatingly rhythmic feast. One sure highlight is Souza's cover of Horace Silver's signature tune "Song for My Father." Silver, an American jazzman of Cape Verdean extraction, is an inspiration to Souza, who plays the Fender Rhodes on her interpretation, as well as supplying the vocal. Here Souza deliberately departs from the song's familiar theme, yet another indication that she is her own woman, inspired by many but indebted to none. AMG. listen here

Paul Adams - Flute Meditations For Dreaming Clouds 2005

Flute Meditations For Dreaming Clouds is a Native American inspired album that focuses on the beautiful, haunting, and meditative tonality of the instrument. Many flutes from some of the nations most celebrated instrument makers were used for both solo and choral renditions of original songs by Paul Adams. The main focus is to use this music as a way to sooth, calm, and be kind to ones self. AMG. listen here

terça-feira, 22 de maio de 2012

Béla Fleck and The Flecktones - Three Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest 1993

Those who have enjoyed earlier Béla Fleck & the Flecktones recordings will not be disappointed with Three Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. The Flecktones have stuck with the formula that made their previous records successful: complex, tight grooves wrapped in a very musical, user-friendly package. The Flecktones still suffer from the departure of keyboardist/chromatic harmonica player Howard Levy, who provided the band with needed additional musical colors and textures. Guest appearances by Bruce Hornsby (no vocals) and Branford Marsalis help fill this void. As always, the musicianship is excellent, and all players involved have ample space with which to display their virtuosity. AMG. listen here

The Dave Clark Five - A Session With 1964

The group's debut LP did well in England but, as was the custom in the early days of the British Invasion, it had to be finessed into the United States. For the Dave Clark Five's U.S. debut, Epic Records wisely decided to combine the band's British singles and B-sides onto what became the Glad All Over album, delivering one of the label's biggest selling long-players up to that time. With that success behind them, and the public eager for more, the label then released A Session With The Dave Clark Five virtually intact in America, but titled Return!. As the group's first venture in making an LP, it's not as strong as their later efforts, though it does show off their range around the sound that would make them international stars. The lack of the presence of a hit single, however, leaves it weaker than most of the group's American-released LPs. AMG. listen here

Danilo Perez - Providencia 2010

Pianist and composer Danilo Pérez has forged a wide path for himself and his music throughout his career to date. Born in 1966 in Panama, Pérez, who relocated to New York City, began playing piano at age three. His father was a bandleader and vocalist, and by the time he was ten, he was studying at the National Conservatory in Panama. After college in Panama, where he studied electronics, Pérez moved to the U.S. to study at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He later transferred to the Berklee College of Music, and while finishing up his major in jazz composition there, he had the opportunity to perform with the likes of trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Claudio Roditi, as well as vocalese veteran Jon Hendricks. Pérez has since toured or recorded with a who's who in the worlds of traditional and contemporary jazz: Wayne Shorter, Steve Lacy, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Wynton Marsalis, Gary Burton, Roy Haynes, and Joe Lovano, among others.

Pérez's first big break came when he was asked to join Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra (he was the youngest member), and he worked with the orchestra from 1989 until Gillespie's passing in 1992. His tenure with Gillespie's band brought him recognition, as Gillespie's album Live at the Royal Festival Hall (for the Enja label) won a Grammy. In 1994, Pérez recorded with trumpeter Arturo Sandoval for the latter's Grammy-winning album Danzon.

After nearly ten years accompanying other great jazz musicians, by 1993 Pérez switched his focus to leading his own bands, and he released two excellent recordings in 1993 and 1994, Danilo Perez and The Journey, both for the RCA/Novus label. Down Beat magazine hailed The Journey as one of the best albums of the '90s. In 1995, Wynton Marsalis asked Pérez to join his band, and later that year he performed with the Panamanian Symphony Orchestra, which showcased an orchestral version of The Journey. In 1996 and 1998, he released two albums for the Impulse! label, PanaMonk, and Central Avenue. He earned his first Grammy nomination for Central Avenue, which was produced by legendary jazz producer and GRP label chairman Tommy LiPuma. That album is made up of mostly originals, but he and his band do interpret two classics in their own way, the ballad "Lush Life" and John Coltrane's "Impressions," both of which take on a fresh sound. With four albums under his belt by the late '90s, Pérez's place in the new generation of jazz musicians was firmly ensconced. All this recognition led to his joining the Wayne Shorter Quartet in 2002. Pérez's eclectic keyboard stylings are showcased on Shorter's albums Alegría and Footprints Live!, both for Verve Records.

Pérez subsequently began serving as a goodwill cultural ambassador of Panama for UNICEF, and as one of the co-founders of the Panama Jazz Festival. He also serves with the faculty of the New England Conservatory and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Since the release of Central Avenue in 1998, Pérez has released a number of other albums under his own name, including Motherland, ...Til Then, in 2000 and 2003, respectively, for Verve, and Live at the Jazz Showcase, in 2005 for ArtistShare. On all three albums he's accompanied by longtime sidemen bassist Ben Street and drummer/percussionist Adam Cruz, and with the two Verve releases, by a bevy of top names in jazz, including vocalists Claudia Acuña, Lizz Wright, and Richard Bona, violinist Regina Carter, and bassist John Patitucci. On 2008’s Across the Crystal Sea, Pérez and his group, including bassist Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash, and percussionist Luis Quintero, are accompanied by Claus Ogerman’s string arrangements, and 2010’s Providencia found Pérez -- inspired by fatherhood -- exploring themes related to creating a healthy and viable future for the children of today. AMG. listen here

Kora Jazz Trio - Part 2 2005

With the release of the first 3 records of the Kora Jazz Trio, critics spoke of a «delicious alchemy», of «world jazz», «a miracle of freshness».
A warm welcome for a unique musical fusion that seemed so natural. The meeting of the Mandinka tradition and the freedom of Jazz. The association between the Kora, West African percussion and Afro American swing. The dialogue between the griot and the blue note.
In the land of the palaver tree, all is matter of dialogue. The Kora Jazz Trio is the proof of that : meeting between jazzmen and old wise men, between tradition and improvisation. And mostly dialogue between the kora and the piano, two instruments so close - both rhythmic and solist - but separated by an ocean.
Two cousins that were separated too early, each on a continent : the Kora in the streets of West Africa, the piano in the dark clubs of Western cities. Today, they meet again with the Kora Jazz Trio's 4th ALBUM, and have many things to tell us. listen here

Christian Scott - Rewind That 2006

Christian Scott is the nephew of veteran alto saxophonist Donald Harrison and like his uncle, a native of New Orleans. He shows promise as a soloist, but none of his compositions and arrangements on his debut recording as a leader is particularly memorable. His heavy reliance on hip-hop and R&B influences rather than jazz results in a sameness that proves distracting from his solos. Zaccai Curtis' Fender Rhodes is pretty much relegated to providing backgrounds, while Luquis Curtis' dull bass vamps and the annoying, predictable drum lines demanded of Thomas Pridgen undermine the playing of Scott and tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III. Even guest appearances by Harrison on several tracks, including a surprisingly bland treatment of Miles Davis' "So What," simply miss the mark. Skip this disappointing release. AMG. listen here

Alexis Korner - Juvenile Delinquent 1984

Without Alexis Korner, there still might have been a British blues scene in the early 1960s, but chances are that it would have been very different from the one that spawned the Rolling Stones, nurtured the early talents of Eric Clapton, and made it possible for figures such as John Mayall to reach an audience. Born of mixed Turkish/Greek/Austrian descent, Korner spent the first decade of his life in France, Switzerland, and North Africa, and arrived in London in May of 1940, just in time for the German blitz, during which Korner discovered American blues. One of the most vivid memories of his teen years was listening to a record of bluesman Jimmy Yancey during a German air raid. "From then on," he recalled in an interview, "all I wanted to do was play the blues."

After the war, Korner started playing piano and then guitar, and in 1947 he tried playing electric blues, but didn't like the sound of the pick-ups that were then in use, and returned to acoustic playing. In 1949, he joined Chris Barber's Jazz Band and in 1952 he became part of the much larger Ken Colyer Jazz Group, which had merged with Barber's band. Among those whom Korner crossed paths with during this era was Cyril Davies, a guitarist and harmonica player. The two found their interests in American blues completely complementary, and in 1954 they began making the rounds of the jazz clubs as an electric blues duo. They started the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club, where, in addition to their own performances, Korner and Davies brought visiting American bluesmen to listen and play. Very soon they were attracting blues enthusiasts from all over England.

Korner and Davies made their first record in 1957, and in early 1962, they formed Blues Incorporated, a "supergroup" (for its time) consisting of the best players on the early-'60s British blues scene. Korner (guitar, vocals), Davies (harmonica, vocals), Ken Scott (piano), and Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophone) formed the core, with a revolving membership featuring Charlie Watts or Graham Burbridge on drums, Spike Heatley or Jack Bruce on bass, and a rotating coterie of guest vocalists including Long John Baldry, Ronnie Jones, and Art Wood (older brother of Ron Wood). Most London jazz clubs were closed to them, so in March of 1962 they opened their own club, which quickly began attracting large crowds of young enthusiasts, among them Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones, all of whom participated at some point with the group's performances; others included Ian Stewart, Steve Marriott, Paul Jones, and Manfred Mann. In May of 1962, Blues Incorporated was invited to a regular residency at London's Marquee Club, where the crowds grew even bigger and more enthusiastic. John Mayall later credited Blues Incorporated with giving him the inspiration to form his own Bluesbreakers group.

Record producers began to take notice, and in June of 1962 producer Jack Good arranged to record a live performance by the band. The resulting record, R&B from the Marquee, the first full-length album ever made by a British blues band, was released in November of 1962. The album consisted of largely of American standards, especially Willie Dixon numbers, rounded out with a few originals. At virtually the same time that Blues Incorporated's debut was going into stores, Cyril Davies left the group over Korner's decision to add horns to their sound. Korner soldiered on, but the explosion of British rock in 1963, and the wave of blues-based rock bands that followed, including the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Yardbirds undercut any chance he had for commercial success. His more studied brand of blues was left stranded in a commercial backwater -- there were still regular gigs and recordings, but no chart hits, and not much recognition. While his one-time acolytes the Rolling Stones and the Cream made the front pages of music magazines all over the world, Korner was relegated to the blues pages of England's music papers, and, though not yet 40, to the role of "elder statesman."

For a time, Korner hosted Five O'Clock Club, a children's television show that introduced a whole new generation of British youth to American blues and jazz. He also wrote about blues for the music papers, and was a detractor of the flashy, psychedelic, and commercialized blues-rock of the late '60s, which he resented for its focus on extended solos and its fixation on Chicago blues. He continued recording as well, cutting a never-completed album with future Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant in early 1968. Korner's performing career in England was limited, but he could always play to large audiences in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, and there were always new Korner records coming out. It was while touring Scandinavia that he first hooked up with vocalist Peter Thorup, who became Korner's collaborator over the next several years in the band New Church. After his dismissal from the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones considered joining New Church; Korner, however, rejected the idea, because he didn't want his new band to be caught up in any controversy. In 1972, he became peripherally involved in the breakup of another band, inheriting the services of Boz Burrell, Mel Collins, and Ian Wallace when they quit King Crimson.

It was during the '70s that Korner had his only major hit, as leader (with Peter Thorup) of the 25-member big-band ensemble CCS. Their version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" charted in England, and led to a tour and television appearances. In response, Korner released Bootleg Him, a retrospective compiled from tapes in his personal collection, including recordings with Robert Plant, Mick Jagger, and Charlie Watts. Korner played on the "supersession" album B.B. King in London, and cut his own, similar album, Get Off My Cloud, with Keith Richards, Peter Frampton, Nicky Hopkins, and members of Joe Cocker's Grease Band. When Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones in 1975, Korner was mentioned as a possible replacement, but the spot eventually went to Ron Wood. In 1978, for Korner's 50th birthday, an all-star concert was held featuring Eric Clapton, Paul Jones, Chris Farlowe, and Zoot Money, which was later released as a video.

In 1981, Korner formed the last and greatest "supergroup" of his career, Rocket 88, featuring himself on guitar, Jack Bruce on upright bass, Ian Stewart on piano, and Charlie Watts on drums, backed by trombonists and saxmen, and one or two additional keyboard players. They toured Europe and recorded several gigs, the highlights of which were included on a self-titled album released by Atlantic Records. In contrast to the many blues-rock fusion records with which Korner had been associated, Rocket 88 mixed blues with boogie-woogie jazz, the group's repertory consisting largely of songs written by W. C. Handy and Pete Johnson.

After a well-received appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival in the early '80s, there were rumors afterward that he intended to become more active musically, but his health was in decline by this time. A chain smoker all of his life, Korner died of lung cancer at the beginning of 1984. AMG. listen here

sábado, 12 de maio de 2012

Ray Lema - Medecine 1985

Lema first became involved in music playing church organ for five years. By the time he entered college, he was already playing keyboard in Kinshasa clubs for artists like Kalle, Abeti, M'pongo Love, and Tabu Ley. He worked with the Ballet du Zaire and from 1974 to 1978 toured the country studying folklore. He won a Rockefeller grant for study in the U.S. in 1979. Lema's grounding in folklore and choreography, as well as music, helped him break through in the '80s and maintain a reputation as a soukous musician not content to be pigeonholed in that style. He recently signed with the international label Mango. AMG. listen here

Kevin Coyne - Millionaires And Teddy Bears 1979

Kevin Coyne's seventh studio solo album, and his second in less than a year (following the itchy Dynamite Daze) was very much recorded in the shadow of recent developments in the new wave field. Heavily atmospheric but brutally sparse, it contains some of Coyne's most discomforting latter-day work, beginning with the brief ambience-and-chant rail of the opening "People," which bleeds directly into "Having a Party"; truly one of the most caustic numbers in his entire catalog. A savage indictment of the music industry (the album's title is lifted from its lyric), "Having a Party" places our hero at a record company soiree, discussing his future career with the label bigwigs, and finding himself backed into such a corner that, when asked which of the myriad gold discs on the wall is his, "I had to confess I hadn't got one...." (As an intriguing aside, live recordings of the song from the following year find it taking on even greater weight, as Coyne inserts the recent death of one of his Virgin Records labelmates into the lyric -- "you have to be rough and tough and tough and rough if you want to be a pop star -- like Sid Vicious"). Such bleakness is, of course, readily dispelled as the album moves on. "I'll Go Too" (simultaneously issued as a 45) packs a breezy arrangement and as compelling a chorus as any previous Coyne classic, while "Pretty Park" has a lascivious snarl and a barrelhouse boom that echoes the mighty "Eastbourne Ladies." Elsewhere, the so-tender "Marigold," the bombastic "Let Me Be With You," and the heartbreaking "Wendy's Dream" are all vital additions to the Coyne repertoire, and though it's true that Side One of the album is considerably stronger than Side Two, still Millionaires & Teddy Bears rates high in any poll of Coyne's finest records. AMG. listen here

New Directions - New Directions 1999

Greg Osby's Banned in New York is probably his magnum opus so far, but there is a lot more ore here to mine.  Tonight I have been listening to Channel Three, a trio album with Matt Brewer on bass and Jeff Watts on percussion.  I hadn't heard it until now.  It is majestic.  Joe Henderson's State of the Tenor comes to mind.  I am playing the first cut, an Ornette Coleman composition entitled 'Mob Job'. 

To reconnect to the Jason Moran/Greg Osby theme, I have also been listening to New Directions.  This remarkable recording has Osby on alto, Mark Shim on tenor, Moran on Piano, Stefon Harris on vibes, Tarus Mateen on bass, and Nasheet Waits on drums.  If you are looking for an imaginative and superbly crafted version of jazz hits, have I got an album for you mon frere.  I am playing 'Theme from Blowup', a well known Herbie Hancock composition.  It's very Hancock, except for being completely different.  Get the album.  You'll love their interpretation of Lee Morgan's 'Sidewinder'. 

Finally, I have a couple cuts from Osby's Inner Circle.  Osby, Moran, Harris, and Mateen again, with Eric Harland on drums.  Every note is surprising.  I am playing 'Equalatogram' and 'All Neon Like'.  The first features a marvelous interplay between Harris and Moran.  The second is soulful and delicate.  listen here

Ratcat - Blind Love 1991

Ratcat became the first Australian alternative, guitar-driven band to crack the big time locally during the early '90s.

Beginning with singer/guitarist Simon Day and bassist Victor Levi's garage band Danger Mouse, Ratcat's following in Sydney grew thanks to several live performances among the skate-punk scene. In December 1987, the band released their eponymous debut mini-LP on the Waterfront label. Their debut full-length album, The Nightmare, followed in 1989 and led to a deal with the rooArt label. They contributed the single "You Get Me By" to the label's various-artists compilation Youngblood II.

But it was The Tingles EP, released in November 1990, that gave the band their biggest success. It raced to number one on the Australian national charts, as did the catchy single "Don't Go Now." The album, Blind Love, released in July 1991, also went to number one nationally. The band then opened for INXS' X tour as well as performed their own concerts. AMG. listen here

Maureen Tucker - Life in Exile After Abdication 1989

When the Velvet Underground was America's most admired avant-garde rock band, it was easy to imagine solo success for principal songwriter Lou Reed and enigmatic Welsh multi-instrumentalist John Cale, but no one could have predicted that some of the best solo recordings from a former member of this seminal band would come from drummer Maureen (Moe) Tucker. After the demise of the Velvets, Tucker lived in relative obscurity in Douglas, GA, raising her children and working for minimum wage at a Wal-Mart -- salient points that form the thematic basis of her solo career. No longer strictly a drummer, Tucker switched to guitar, and with the help of a new generation of avant-rock players (Half Japanese's Jad and David Fair, Daniel Johnston, Sonic Youth) and longtime pals (Lou Reed), began recording terse, guitar-driven songs about single motherhood, working hard for minimum wage, and hating the corporatization of rock & roll. These were proud, pissed-off songs that found a home on the wonderfully idiosyncratic indie label 50 Skidillion Watts, principally owned by Velvets fan Penn Jillette (of the comedy/magic duo Penn and Teller), who gave Tucker a regular outlet for her music. Occasionally, Tucker has had to return to the underpaying world of nine-to-five to supplement her rock & roll income, but as she released more records, her popularity in alternative rock circles has grown (especially in Europe) to the point where she can make a living as a full-time musician. Good news indeed. AMG. listen here

Minnie Riperton - Adventures In Paradise 1975

Adventures in Paradise, the follow-up to Perfect Angel -- an album featuring Minnie Riperton's biggest hit, much assistance from Stevie Wonder, and several of his associates, as well as an iconic outer sleeve -- tends to be viewed as a flop, at least by those who disregard Minnie as a novelty one-hit wonder. If the album is a flop on principle because none of its three singles was as big as "Lovin' You," or because Stevie was no longer around, so be it, but it's borderline classic by any other measure. The key collaborators here, outside of Minnie's songwriting husband Richard Rudolph, include keyboardist Joe Sample, guitarist Larry Carlton, saxophonist Tom Scott, and harpist Dorothy Ashby. Hardly poor substitutes. Most importantly, the album's three central songs were co-written with Leon Ware, who had come up with the Jackson 5's "I Wanna Be Where You Are" and was on the brink of writing what would become the entirety of Marvin Gaye's I Want You, along with his own excellent Musical Massage. Each of the Riperton/Rudolph/Ware songs ooze playful sensuality, desire, and lust -- especially "Inside My Love" (a Top 30 R&B single), a swooning slow jam filled with double entendres. If it weren't for the supremely seductive innocence in Minnie's voice, the words would likely fall flat in their directness ("You can see inside me/Will you come inside me?/Do you wanna ride inside my love?") The opener, "Baby, This Love I Have," is even more heated, with Minnie's frustrated yearning wrapped around a lithe arrangement. (It's gentle six-note guitar-and-bass intro would later resurface in A Tribe Called Quest's "Check the Rhime.") The songs written by Minnie and Rudolph alone match up well with the best of Perfect Angel, and they're deceptively eclectic, mixing and matching soul and rock with touches of country and adult pop. The album was tailor made for the kind of '70s radio format that would not balk at spinning Boz Scaggs, LTD, and Fleetwood Mac back-to-back-to-back. But, for whatever reason (poor promotion, closed minds), it did not do nearly as well as it deserved. AMG. listen here

terça-feira, 8 de maio de 2012

Mushroom with Eddie Gale - Joint Happening 2007

The notion and spirit of musical collaboration by established artists is such that different parties bring what strengths they have to offer to a given project, and then allow for their own abilities and preconceptions to be stretched -- sometimes to the breaking point -- by the rest of those involved. This is even truer when considering a project that involves improvisation. Restraint, nuance, taste, and openness are all prerequisites. Joint Happening is a shining example of collaboration at its best. San Francisco's Mushroom -- drummer Pat Thomas; bassist Ned Doherty, and keyboardist Matt Henry Cunitz -- have, since 1997 explored the outer reaches of what it means to improvise as well as to compose. Based on their recordings, Mushroom doesn't fit comfortably into jazz, rock, or even "experimental" niches or ghettos. While it's obvious they have been deeply influenced by the early electric recordings of Miles Davis, they have also listened to numerous King Crimson, Hawkwind, and soul-jazz dates to boot. Their recordings -- live and studio -- are steeped in whatever place they happen to find themselves in at any given time. Add to this mix musical iconoclast and innovator Eddie Gale. His two recordings on the Blue Note imprint in the late '60s -- Ghetto Music and Black Rhythm Happening -- were fire brands that moved jazz both free and soul into new territories and remained out of print until 2003 when Water Records issued them on CD. During that time DJs and beat kids sought rare copies out everywhere in dirty hands' dollar bins and flea markets, and whispered about them in near hushed tones. Before that, Gale graced two other landmark recordings as a sideman: Cecil Taylor's Unit Structures and Larry Young's Lawrence of Newark.

What we get when we put these two creative forces together is a long, labyrinthine dream that enters the slipstreams of jazz, rock, groove, and experimental music. The dynamics on this set are controlled carefully, not so much by direction but by acute listening and a distinct respect for the feel and movement of any particular piece. Most of the pieces are long, ranging between seven and 19 minutes. If this sounds a bit like "jamming," it's because it is. Not in the sense where every player has to show what he knows, but in the sense that this group of players, augmented by some other stellar players, like guitarists Tim Plowman and Erik Pearson (the latter also plays saxophone and flute) and percussionists David Brandt and Dave Mihaly (who joined in the fun in various incarnations on these tracks) become something other than the sum of their individual parts. The quiet dreamy textures of "Peace" finds a Mellotron, marimba and bass slowly ushering in a textural dimension that begins to gel as Gale's trumpet enters seamlessly, and a groove presents itself skeletally, smoothly entering the next title, which nods affirmatively in Pete Townshend's direction (though the music doesn't resemble the song this title was taken from in the least) on "I Don't Need to Fight, To Prove I'm Right, I Don't Need to Be Forgiven." The experimentation begins here in earnest with Plowman's guitar filling in the backdrop and a B-3 floating around the edges of the vamp provided by Thomas and Doherty. It's all about rhythm, ultimately, no matter where melodies float, counter one another or engage in transforming themselves into something wholly other. Things threaten to erupt on "I Was Torn Down at the Dance Place -- Shaved Head at the Organ." A dark modal groove commences with Gale playing a repetitive vamp followed by a flute playing in harmonic counterpoint to the rhythm, shimmering hi hat and tom toms. Bells, shakers, and piano enter as the tune begins to emerge from the mist and wind through many phases and stages before becoming a voodoo funk incantation and the various players -- particularly Thomas and Gale -- begin to really get it, pulling at the strands until they're taut before easing back down into the ether. "Our Love" is a nocturnal funky tune, with beautiful keyboard work by Cunitz on B-3, and Pearson's sharp chord voicings becomes a wrangling solo. The album's final cut, "The Spirit," is a rangy ramble into the mystic, while it rarely breaks a sweat, it challenges even rhythmic proprieties in places, moving out of itself and then folding back in, as saxophone, trumpet and guitars interact with myriad percussion to find a way through what may be asserting itself as a melody but is impossible to break down. Which is just fine.

Ultimately, what transpires on Joint Happening feels very expansive while remaining very accessible. There may be great temptations to compare this set to Miles Davis' In a Silent Way, but that would be doing both groups of artists a disservice. Joint Happening stands on its own as a work where simplicity of intent is realized only through the difficult idea of listening carefully to others and serving the work and the band before the individual ego. In other words, in collaborating in this way, Mushroom and Gale become something much larger -- and much more unclassifiable -- than either's catalog would suggest. These pieces are all memorable in their own right, but as a whole they become a complete experience in sound that is unlike virtually anything else out there. In the 21st century, how often does that happen? This is indeed a whole new thing. AMG. listen here

Ritchie Valens - La Bamba - Greatest Hits 1988

The first Hispanic rock star, Ritchie Valens will forever be known as one of the two musicians (along with the Big Bopper) who perished with Buddy Holly in 1959, when their private plane crashed in the midst of a Midwest tour. At the time, Valens had only recently established himself as one of the most promising young talents in rock & roll, just barely missing the top of the charts with "Donna," a number two hit, and pioneering a blend of rock and Latin music with the single's almost equally popular flip side, "La Bamba." Like many rock stars who died prematurely, it's difficult to assess his unrealized potential; he was only 17 at the time of his death, and had just barely begun to make records. Nevertheless, Valens' music has endured for decades.

Ricardo Esteban Valenzuela Reyes was raised in a Mexican-American household in the San Fernando Valley. He played several instruments as a child and eventually devoted most of his focus to the guitar, learning a right-hand version of the guitar despite his own left-handedness. Valens' musical influences were diverse, running the gamut from Little Richard and rockabilly to traditional Mexican genres like mariachi, and his talent on the guitar earned him a spot in a local band, the Silhouettes, when he was 16. Valens eventually became the band's frontman. While playing at a local movie theater in 1958, he was discovered by producer Bob Keane, who signed Valens to his Del-Fi label and convinced him to shorten his surname to "Valens," claiming the abbreviated version had broader appeal than "Valenzuela." Under Keane's wing, Valens entered a Los Angeles recording studio in July and emerged with "Come on Let's Go," which climbed to number 42 on the national charts.

By the end of 1958, Valens had quit high school in order to focus on his career, which had skyrocketed after his second single, "Donna," climbed to number two. Also enjoying a good amount of popularity was the single's innovative flip side, "La Bamba," a rocked-up Mexican folk song performed entirely in Spanish. "La Bamba" featured some fierce guitar work, as well as the thick sound of the Danelectro bass, which gave the instrument more electric presence than it had previously enjoyed on any rock & roll disc. Valens was subsequently hailed as one of rock & roll's teen idols, and he hit road in early 1959 alongside Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, Dion & the Belmonts, and Frankie Sardo.

Billed as "the Winter Dance Party," the tour was originally scheduled to hit 24 Midwestern cities over the course of three weeks. The musicians all shared a single bus, whose heater broke several days into the tour, worsening the long drives between each show. By the time the Winter Dance Party rolled into Clear Lake, IA, on February 2, Buddy Holly had grown tired of the chilly conditions and decided to book a plane in order to fly to the show's next stop. After that evening's show at the Surf Ballroom, Holly boarded the plane along with Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. The aircraft crashed several minutes after takeoff, though, installing killing pilot Roger Peterson along with all three of his passengers. Ritchie Valens was 17 years old.

Valens only had about two albums' worth of material in the can, as well as some lo-fi live tapes of a gig at a local junior high, before his death; undoubtedly, some (or many) of these were demos or unfinished tracks. Other singers emulated Valens' Mexican-American brand of rock in the following years, most notably Chan Romero (originator of "Hippy Hippy Shake," who also recorded for Bob Keane's Del-Fi label and used some of the same musicians who had backed Valens) and Chris Montez. In the 1980s and 1990s, the L.A.-based Latino rock band Los Lobos were often cited for reflecting Valens' influence, and groups like Los Lonely Boys carried the torch of Chicano rock into the 21st century. Meanwhile, the 1987 film La Bamba (whose soundtrack heavily featured Los Lobos) gave his story a glossy Hollywood makeover, exposing Valens' legacy to millions even as it introduced the usual distortions and factual errors in its dramatization of his brief life. AMG. listen here

Roogalator - Cincinnati Fatback 2000

U.S.-born guitarist Danny Adler's Roogalator was one of the fixtures on the London pub rock scene of the mid-'70s, at the same time establishing themselves among the most un-pub-like bands on the circuit. Drawing deep from Adler's own experience on the Cincinnati club circuit of the late '60s, where he gigged alongside (and frequently jammed with members of) R&B legends Dyke & the Blazers and Bootsy Collins' Pacesetters, Roogalator offered an angular, minimalist funk sound which was utterly at odds with the country, blues, and early rock sounds normally heard on the scene. Even Kokomo, up to that point the most authentic attempt at a homegrown funk sound yet unveiled, trailed in Roogalator's slipstream. They, after all, simply followed the lead of the American masters. Roogalator prided themselves in escaping from it and in so doing, created the wholly distinctive blueprint for what would become the Britfunk explosion of the early '80s.

Adler had been resident in the U.K. since 1971, following a brief stint in New York City with Elephant's Memory. His first British band was Smooth Loser, formed with Chris Gibbons and fellow expatriate Jeff Pasternak to accompany Pasternak's brother DJ Emperor Rosco at road show events. The first incarnation of Roogalator formed following Smooth Loser's breakup in 1972 -- that same year, Adler also recorded demos with 10cc's Graham Gouldman at Strawberry Studios.

Roogalator Mach I broke up and Adler relocated to Paris to study jazz theory. He returned to London in 1974, where he formed a new Roogalator with keyboard player Nick Plytas. Several lineup changes followed in the months before the band played its first live shows in September, 1975 -- the membership finally settled to include Adler, Plytas, drummer Dave Solomon, and former Chilli Willie & the Red Hot Peppers bassist Paul Riley.

Lauded by the local press, Roogalator gigged through the end of the year, their apparently miraculous rise climaxing when they were invited to support Dr. Feelgood at the Hammersmith Odeon. The prestigious show was a disaster, however, and marked the end of the classic Roogalator lineup. Within weeks, both Riley and Solomon had departed, to be replaced (again after several short-lived changes) by drummer Justin Hildreth and bassist Julian Scott, brother of band manager Robin Scott.

Roogalator made their recorded debut in April, 1976, with the Stiff Records classic "Cincinnati Fatback"; their influence on that label's own roster, meanwhile, was swiftly made apparent with the emergence of Elvis Costello -- visually a dead ringer for Adler and no slouch when it came to fractured funk himself. Despite such applause, another year elapsed before Roogalator issued a follow-up, when Virgin released Plytas' "Love and the Single Girl." The group then shifted to manager Scott's own newly formed Do It label for their debut album, Play It by Ear, in mid-1977.

Essentially little more than an opportunity to preserve the band's repertoire on vinyl before unleashing a crop of new material, the album was well-received but sold poorly. The departure of Plytas added to the group's woes; opting not to replace him, Roogalator continued gigging through early 1978 as a trio, cutting one more single, "Zero Hero," and demoing a second album. But when further lineup changes shook the group that summer, Adler realized the band had reached the end of the line. Roogalator officially disbanded in July, 1978, with many of the songs scheduled for their second album promptly being reworked for Adler's own solo debut, The Danny Adler Story. He has continued recording and gigging regularly ever since. Roogalator's own repertoire has since resurfaced on the Cincinnati Fatback compilation; the title track, meanwhile, is a regular inclusion on Stiff label anthologies. AMG. Thanks to B.! listen here

Vitor Ramil - Estrela, estrela 1981

Younger brother of composers/singers Kleiton and Kledir, Vitor Ramil had compositions recorded by several interpreters, among them Gal Costa ("Estrela, Estrela" in her Fantasia) and Zizi Possi. He has worked with names such as Egberto Gismonti, Wagner Tiso, Hélio Delmiro, and Márcio Montarroyos. His first solo album came at 18, Estrela, Estrela (1981), and had special participation by Egberto Gismonti, Wagner Tiso, Luis Avellar, Zizi Possi, and Tetê Espíndola. In 1984, he released the experimental A Paixão de V Segundo Ele Próprio, which had its "Semeadura" re-recorded by Mercedes Sosa. In the next year, he went to Rio de Janeiro RJ, where he recorded Tango with Nico Assumpção, Hélio Delmiro, Márcio Montarroyos, Leo Gandelman, and Carlos Bala. He has also written books, among them Satolep and Pequod, the latter having received the Açorianos prize. Dedicated to a fusion of folkloric elements (he is of gaúcho origin, from the extreme South), he dedicated his fifth album Ramilonga (A Estética do Frio (1997) to the milonga, a genre shared by Rio Grande do Sul state and neighbor countries Uruguay and Argentina, which decisively influenced the esthetics of his state. Tambong (2000), with the participation of Egberto Gismonti, Lenine, Chico César, and João Barone, was released simultaneously in Brazil and Argentina (in a Spanish version). AMG. listen here

Supertramp - Indelibly Stamped 1971

Once upon a time in 1969, a young Dutch millionaire by the name of Stanley August Miesegaes gave his acquaintance, vocalist and keyboardist Rick Davies, a "genuine opportunity" to form his own band; he could form the band of his dreams and Miesegaes would pay for it. After placing an ad in Melody Maker, Davies assembled Supertramp alongside co-founders Roger Hodgson (vocals, piano, guitar, cello), Richard Palmer (vocals, guitar, balalaika), and former stage actor Robert Millar (percussion, harmonica). Supertramp released two long-winded progressive rock albums before Miesegaes withdrew his support, and by early 1972, Davies and Hodgson were the only founding members remaining. The pair began an extensive search for replacements and soon pieced together the lineup that would be responsible for Supertramp's definitive sound, comprising new members Doug Thomson (bass), Bob Siebenberg (percussion), and John Helliwell (woodwinds, saxophone, keyboards).

With no money or fan base to speak of, the expanded Supertramp was forced to redesign their sound. Coming up with a more pop-oriented form of progressive rock, the band had a hit with their third album, Crime of the Century. Throughout the decade, Supertramp had a number of best-selling albums, culminating in their 1979 masterpiece Breakfast in America. Breakfast in America marked their first album that tipped the scale completely in the favor of pop songs; on the strength of the hit singles "Goodbye Stranger," "Logical Song," and "Take the Long Way Home," it sold over 18 million copies worldwide. After that album, Supertramp continued to develop a more R&B-flavored style; the change in direction was successful on 1982's Famous Last Words, but the band soon ran out of hits. Hodgson left in 1983 to mount a solo career, and Supertramp continued to sporadically record and tour into the 21st century. 
Indelibly Stamped, Supertramp's second album, was an improvement on their debut, although the group did have a tendency to indulge themselves in long-winded instrumental sections. AMG. listen here

The Subdudes - Annunciation 1994

After three years without a recording contract, the Subdudes reappeared with this beautiful collection of soulful, gorgeous, funkily "subdued" music. It's another example of why the band was so popular with those who were exposed to them, and why they were often mentioned as one of the bands most deserving of wider recognition. The lyrics here seem so personal at times that the listener feels like he's being allowed into the secret places of the writers' lives. The music combines joy, melancholy, gospel fervor, and blues sincerity to create a unique and appealing sound. Most of the songs on this disc are built on an acoustic guitar foundation, but "Late at Night" is a blazing electric blues, and "Fountains Flow" features fiery blues harp and electric guitar. "(You'll Be) Satisfied" is as catchy as any hit single, while "Miss Love" is a spooky lament that builds dynamically to multiple climaxes. Once again, the Subdudes deliver a tasty treat worthy of being heard by a larger audience. AMG. listen here

My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves 2003

It's a beautiful thing to know that Brian Wilson is still alive and well in the kingdom of indie rock. My Morning Jacket's third full-length effort, and first for the ATO/RCA venture label, is a step beyond the band's work for Darla. While the gorgeous amalgam of the Band's vision of country/Americana and Neil Young's blend of folk and rock are everywhere present, there is a new textural awareness evident on It Still Moves. Jim James' songwriting is tighter in structure, but his production sensibility is early-'70s Laurel Canyon, with some of the Grateful Dead's American Beauty tropes as well. Sounds like a mess, doesn't it? Well, it's not. Wearing your influences on your sleeve doesn't mean unoriginality. James is an original songwriter; he has worked hard to develop the gifts inherent in his lyric concerns and his ability to paint emotional landscapes with his melodies, and the payoff has never been greater. "Mahgeetah," with its Pet Sounds ambience and country-rock melody -- complete with fuzzed-out guitar solo -- is far more imaginative than anything Wilco ever pulled off by trying the same thing (which they do over and over ad nauseam). "Dancefloors," with its biting Telecaster lead line that echoes "Baby Don't Do It" and the Stray Gators' country majesty, is full of warmth, depth, and Levon Helm's soul. And "Golden," which is the third track in this opening triad, brings James' love of Tim Buckley and Fred Neil into the light. But all of these elements of construction are read through James' Kentucky and his unique melodic gift, where fragments becomes entire lines become songs with stunning bridges, achingly poetic lyrics, and a country boy's sense of whacked-out humor and tenderness (check out "One Big Holiday"). The horn arrangements on "Easy Morning Rebel" make the country shuffle into a near R&B tune with an old-timey stroll through a shambolic rhythm track. In all, My Morning Jacket may be a journey through the past, but it's also a solid step into something rock & roll has been missing for an awfully long time in the mainstream arena: melody, extremely catchy and well-written songs that aren't afraid of the mainstream, and a love of the great pop continuum that translates into something new. AMG. listen here

Reggie Workman - Cerebral Caverns 1995

Reggie Workman has long been one of the most technically gifted of all bassists, a brilliant player whose versatile style fits into both hard bop and very avant-garde settings. He played piano, tuba, and euphonium early on but settled on bass in the mid-'50s. After working regularly with Gigi Gryce (1958), Red Garland, and Roy Haynes, he was a member of the John Coltrane Quartet for much of 1961, participating in several important recordings and even appearing with Coltrane and Eric Dolphy on a half-hour West German television show that is currently available on video (The Coltrane Legacy). After Jimmy Garrison took his place with Coltrane, Workman became a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1962-1964) and was in the groups of Yusef Lateef (1964-65), Herbie Mann, and Thelonious Monk (1967). He recorded frequently in the 1960s (including many Blue Note dates and Archie Shepp's classic Four for Trane).

Since that time, Workman has been both an educator (serving on the faculty of music schools including the University of Michigan) and a working musician, and has played with numerous legendary jazz musicians including Max Roach, Art Farmer, Mal Waldron, David Murray, Sam Rivers, and Andrew Hill (Rivers and Hill joined Workman for the 1993 session, Summit Conference). In the 1980s, Workman began leading his own group, the Reggie Workman Ensemble. He also began a collaboration with pianist Marilyn Crispell that lasted into the next decade (the two acclaimed musicians reunited for a festival performance in 2000). During the '90s, Workman was not only active with his own ensemble, but also in Trio Three, with Andrew Cyrille and Oliver Lake, and Reggie Workman's Grooveship and Extravaganza.

In recognition of Reggie Workman's international performances and recordings spanning over 40 years, he was named a Living Legend by the African-American Historical and Cultural Museum in his hometown of Philadelphia; he is also a recipient of the Eubie Blake Award. AMG. listen here

quinta-feira, 3 de maio de 2012

Paul Bley - Turning Point 1964

When this album was released in 1975 by Paul Bley's Improvising Artists label, the seven selections had been previously unheard. The five pieces from Mar. 9, 1964 (which feature pianist Bley, tenor-saxophonist John Gilmore, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Paul Motian) were later released in a more complete form on the Savoy LP Turns. This was a unique onetime encounter between the innovative Bley (whose lyrical approach to free form improvising was quite different than that used by the high-energy players of the time) and Sun Ra's longtime tenor John Gilmore; "Ida Lupino" is the most memorable of these tracks. In addition there are a couple of trio performances ("Mr. Joy" and "Kid Dynamite") from a May 10, 1964 concert with bassist Peacock and drummer Billy Elgart that have not been released elsewhere. Very interesting if not quite essential music. AMG. listen here

Neil Sedaka - The Very Best Of Neil Sedaka 2000

Neil Sedaka hit the charts with astounding frequency via these charmers aimed at adolescent hearts. But his record company didn't think he fit the teen idol image, so they sent him to foreign countries to perform so his record sales wouldn't suffer. When Sedaka kept rolling out hits in assembly-line fashion, RCA relented and marketed the wholesome singer/writer in the States. Chart climbers, like early collaborations with Howie Greenfield ("The Diary," "Oh! Carol," and others), and straight up smashes ("Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen," "Calendar Girl," and "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do") made them reconsider their opinion of Sedaka. To adults he was likable and to teens he made nice records -- records so melodic you remembered them instantly. Sedaka co-wrote his material and was princely at scribing singalong and whistling music. He inspired others to become creatively involved in their careers as well. AMG. listen here

Montego Joe - Wild & Warm 1965

Latin Jazz with some touches of soul, not too much info about this album, just give it  a try! listen here

Mark Ronson - And The Business Intl 2010

Mark Ronson is a sought-after turntablist who's worked with such diverse artists as Macy Gray, Jay-Z, and comedian Jimmy Fallon. The stepson of guitarist Mick Jones of Foreigner, Ronson spent the first eight years of his life growing up in England. Having played guitar and drums from an early age, it wasn't until moving to New York City with his mother that Ronson discovered DJ culture. At age 16, already a fan of such popular hip-hop artists as Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, Ronson began listening to the various hip-hop mixtapes released every few months by DJs. Inspired, Ronson confiscated his father's record collection and began trying his hand at mixing.

The young DJ with the diverse taste soon caught the ears and eyes of various socialites and New York celebrities, including fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, who featured Ronson along with other sons and daughters of celebrities in a 1997 fashion campaign. A year later, hip-hop mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs hired Ronson to DJ his fabled 29th birthday bash. These and other high-profile gigs boosted Ronson's "hip quotient" and helped promote his more serious-minded music career. Fusing his eclectic turntable skills with his knowledge of musical instruments and songwriting, Ronson eventually embarked on his first solo project. Featuring such diverse guest artists as dancehall rapper Sean Paul, hip-hop artist Mos Def, Jack White of the White Stripes, and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, Ronson's debut album, Here Comes the Fuzz, bowed for Elektra in 2003.

After releasing his debut album, Ronson kept busy producing tracks for a number of artists, including Amy Winehouse, whose 2006 album Back to Black earned critical praise in large part for Ronson's throwback, Motown-influenced production. His own sophomore effort, a collection of cover songs called Version, dropped in 2007. In 2010, Ronson began performing under the moniker Mark Ronson and the Business Intl and released his third studio album, Record Collection, featuring the single "Bang Bang Bang." AMG. listen here

Miguel Zenón - Alma Adentro The Puerto Rican Songbook 2011

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miguel Zenón dug Coltrane in high school but didn't get serious about a career in jazz until attending the Berklee School of Music. While at Berklee, he hooked up with drummer Bob Moses, who invited him to play with the Either/Orchestra, giving the saxophonist his first professional experience. Awards and grants lead to Zenón pursuing and earning a Masters in Saxophone Performance in 2001 from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He played live and in the studio as a sideman to Charlie Haden, the David Murray Big Band, Ray Barretto, and David Sanchez, and stepped out on his own with Looking Forward in 2002. The debut album fused jazz, Latin, and classical influences, and earned positive reviews at home and abroad. In 2003, he received a warm welcome on his first European tour, and got right back to recording when he returned home. His sophomore effort, Ceremonial -- produced by Branford Marsalis and released on his Marsalis Music label -- hit the shelves in early 2004. AMG. listen here

The Orange Alabaster Mushroom - Space & Time 2001

The Orange Alabaster Mushroom is a one-man band project by Ottawa, Ontario-based singer/songwriter Greg Watson. While a member of the Fiends (not the Los Angeles punk group, but a group of Ottawa-based garage rockers), Watson began recording his own, more psychedelically influenced solo material in early 1991. Although Watson continued his home recordings for a number of years and even placed a few on obscure psych compilations, the first Orange Alabaster Mushroom release was a four-track EP, The Psychedelic Bedroom, in 1996. That EP, which included the theme song/statement of intent "We Are the Orange Alabaster Mushroom," wasn't followed up for nearly three years, until the single "The Slug," backed with "Ethel Tripped a Mean Gloss," appeared in 1999. The limited-edition LP compilation Space and Time: A Compendium of the Orange Alabaster Mushroom was released by Earworm Records in 2000. Hidden Agenda reissued Space and Time in October 2001 with three new previously unreleased tracks.AMG. listen here

Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory 1995

If Definitely Maybe was an unintentional concept album about wanting to be a rock & roll star, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? is what happens after the dreams come true. Oasis turns in a relatively introspective second record, filled with big, gorgeous ballads instead of ripping rockers. Unlike Definitely Maybe, the production on Morning Glory is varied enough to handle the range in emotions; instead of drowning everything with amplifiers turned up to 12, there are strings, keyboards, and harmonicas. This expanded production helps give Noel Gallagher's sweeping melodies an emotional resonance that he occasionally can't convey lyrically. However, that is far from a fatal flaw; Gallagher's lyrics work best in fragments, where the images catch in your mind and grow, thanks to the music. Gallagher may be guilty of some borrowing, or even plagiarism, but he uses the familiar riffs as building blocks. This is where his genius lies: He's a thief and doesn't have many original thoughts, but as a pop/rock melodicist he's pretty much without peer. Likewise, as musicians, Oasis are hardly innovators, yet they have a majestic grandeur in their sound that makes ballads like "Wonderwall" or rockers like "Some Might Say" positively transcendent. Alan White does add authority to the rhythm section, but the most noticeable change is in Liam Gallagher. His voice sneered throughout Definitely Maybe, but on Morning Glory his singing has become more textured and skillful. He gives the lyric in the raging title track a hint of regret, is sympathetic on "Wonderwall," defiant on "Some Might Say," and humorous on "She's Electric," a bawdy rewrite of "Digsy's Diner." It might not have the immediate impact of Definitely Maybe, but Morning Glory is just as exciting and compulsively listenable. AMG. link removed