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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Oscar Peterson Trio at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival

Verve Records V-8024 (USA) released in 1961; original issue: 1957

The Oscar Peterson Trio, heard here in a live concert in 1957 from the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, had existed since the early 1950's. with guitarist Herb Ellis stepping in to replace original guitarist Barney Kessel in 1953. The great Ray Brown, bassist extraordinaire, has been present almost from the beginning. The empathy between these three musicians verges on the telepathic, and Oscar has recounted that Ray and Herb would often get together after hours just to play time together, without the pianist!
In any case, this is one of those special albums where everything's perfect, the venue, the audience, and of course the Trio. Selections include "Falling In Love With Love", "How About You", "Flamingo", "Swinging On A Star", "Gypsy In My Soul", "How High The Moon" (with a superlative bass solo from Ray Brown; a written transcript of his solo is included), Ellington's "Love You Madly", and the bebop anthem "52nd Street Theme", taken at a breakneck pace.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Gerry Mulligan and the Concert Jazz Band on Tour / Guest Soloist: Zoot Sims

Verve V-8438 (mono) (USA), released 1962

Just a year and a few months after the formation of his Concert Jazz Band, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan took the guys on a European tour, recording them 'live' in several major cities, including Milan, Italy, Berlin, Germany, and then back home in Santa Monica, California. Along with his own formidable arranging skills, Gerry utilised the arranging talents of Bill Holman and Johnny Mandel, and the soloists were mainly Gerry himself, Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone, the great Zoot Sims on tenor saxophone, along with underrated trumpeter Don Ferrara on "Barbara's Theme". Mandel wrote that one, along with Theme from "I Want To Live", a film starring Susan Hayward. Sims contributed "The Red Door", there are two treatments of Ben Webster's "Go Home", and a Mulligan original called "Apple Core". The band numbers fourteen musicians, and it sounds like more, such is the quality of the writing.

Stan Getz and Charlie Parker, The Saxes of Stan Getz and Charlie Parker

Jazztone Record Society J 1240 (mono) (USA), released 1956

The pairing on LP of two of the pre-eminent saxophonists of the bebop era, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker, presents the chance for comparison, although the Parker tracks pre-date those by Getz by around four years. The 1947 Parker sides are from his Dial Records years, and feature the young Miles Davis on trumpet, along with his classic quintet members Duke Jordan, piano, Tommy Potter, bass, and Max Roach, drums. Trombonist J. J. Johnson guests on two tracks (Parker's "Charlie's Wig" and "Drifting On A Reed"). Bird wrote another three of the six selections, "Dexterity", "Bird Of Paradise" and "Dewey Square", and the Fields-McHugh standard "Don't Blame Me" rounds out the selection. The Getz sides are unusual in that they showcase his new discovery on piano, Connecticut native Horace Silver, and feature his writing on three tracks("Potter's Luck", "Split Kick", and "Penny"), as well as three others written by another Connecticut musician, Gigi Gryce, who would later play with the trumpeter Clifford Brown and in the Jazz Lab band with trumpeter Donald Byrd. ("Yvette", "Melody Express" and "Wildwood"). Also featured in the Getz lineup was guitarist Jimmy Raney, and the unison lines of guitar and tenor sax work surprisingly well

Laurindo Almeida, The Spanish Guitars of Laurindo Almeida

Capitol Records SP 8521 (USA), released 1961.

Laurindo Almeida offers us a brilliant programme of music adapted from the concert keyboard repertoire for the guitar, and does this in what is probably one of the most successful of the albums utilizing over-dubbing techniques. Almeida performs all the parts in transcriptions for two and three guitars. In the jazz realm, perhaps Bill Evans' "Conversations With Myself" (1963) and "Further Conversations With Myself" (1967), come closest to replicating the success of this early experiment.
Selections include:
Falla: Farruca (The Miller's Dance from The Three-Cornered Hat)
Debussy: Clair de Lune and La Plus Que Lente Almeida: Brazilliance No. 1
Bach: Our Father, Who Art In Heaven (Chorale-prelude from Clavierubung, Part III) and Duetto III (From Clavierubung, Part III)
Ravel: Menuet (From Le Tombeau de Couperin) Chopin: Valse (Op. 69, No. 1) and Mazurka (Op. 7, No. 1)
Granados: Zambra (Spanish Dance No. 11) Rachmaninoff: Prelude in C Sharp Minor (Op. 3, No. 2).

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Frank Sinatra - Sinatra Sings Greats Songs from Great Britain

Reprise R 1006 [mono] (UK release only), released in 1962.

In 1962, Frank Sinatra was appearing in the UK doing a series of concerts for Children's Charities, and this album was the climax of the tour, recorded in Bayswater, London, with the crème de la creme of London's top studio players under the baton of the great Robert Farnon. Only one of the selections, "London By Night", had been recorded before by Frank, on the 1958 Capitol album "Come Fly With Me", but here, in a programme of outstanding British popular songs, he and the orchestra recorded a tour de force performance for posterity. It seems strange that Reprise Records neglected to release this album in the United States, which partially explains its rarity value, but the selections - "The Very Thought Of You", "We'll Gather Lilacs", "If I Had You", "Now Is The Hour", "The Gypsy", "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square", "A Garden In The Rain", the aforementioned "London By Night", "We'll Meet Again", and the little-heard but beautiful "I'll Follow My Secret Heart", are all ballads, and Sinatra's "swinger" image of the early '60's would seem to be at odds with this type of repertoire. Be that as it may, he also had a great reputation as an interpreter of ballads, so this album is a worthy addition to his legacy.

Dave Pike - It's Time for Dave Pike

Riverside RLP 360 (mono)(USA), released in 1961.

Having been brought to Riverside's attention a few months after his arrival in New York by Detroit pianist Barry Harris (who also plays in the quartet on this album, then 23-year-old vibist Dave Pike (also from Detroit) shows here why he was so admired by his peers. With a rhythm section comprising Harris, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Billy Higgins, he essays three bop standards by Miles Davis ("Solar"), Tadd Dameron ("Hot House") and Charlie Parker ("Cheryl"). Also getting the Pike treatment are two of his own originals ("It's Time" and "Forward"), as well as a tune associated with Davis, "On Green Dolphin Street", an unaccompanied vibes solo rendition of "Little Girl Blue", and a blues line contributed by his friend, trumpeter Don Cherry, "Tendin' To Business". So, a well-rounded programme which epitomizes the Riverside '60's sound. The low asking price is due to the fact that there is graffitti (my name) on the back cover.

Lee Ritenour - RIT/2

WEA / Elektra Records 96. 0186-1 (West Germany) released in 1982.

The California guitarist's second solo album, featuring future collaborators in the fusion group Fourplay, Nathan East, bass, and Harvey Mason, drums and percussion, who is also listed with Ritenour as co-producer/arranger. The lead vocals on six tracks, as well as co-composer with Ritenour, is singer / keyboardist Eric Tagg, who has a distinctive vocal sound. Other musicians featured include bassists Abraham Laboriel and Neil Stubenhaus, drummers John Robinson, Carlos Vega, Jeff Porcaro and Weather Report percussionist Alex Acuna, along with Paulhino da Costa. Don Grusin and Mike Boddiker play various synthesizers, and there's even a track featuring Tom Scott on tenor saxophone. Brass and string arrangements on four of the tracks are by ex- Seawind and Al Jarreau trumpeter Jerry Hey, with three trumpets, two trombones and two flutes. The tunes are all originals, mostly by Ritenour and Tagg, A worthy time capsule of that California '80's fusion sound.

Art Tatum - The Art of Tatum

Jazz Life 2673751 (West Germany), no release date given; 1938-'39 recordings.

Sixteen solo piano renditions by Art Tatum, considered the finest pianist in jazz right up until his death in the early 1950's. Fats Waller's famous disclaimer "I just play piano, but God is in the house tonight", when Tatum appeared one night at his club gig says it all, really. It's said that the great Oscar Peterson dedicated his life and career to playing as much like Tatum as he could manage, and never really felt he'd accomplished that, as great as he was. The present album, with tracks recorded in Hollywood in 1938-'39, contains "Fine And Dandy", "I've Got The World On A String", "I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues", "I'm Coming Virginia" (popularized by Bix Beiderbecke), "Day In, Day Out", "Make Believe", "Indiana", "Sweet Lorraine", "I'll Get By", "I'll Never Be The Same", "Judy", "Body And Soul", "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm", and others.

Art Tatum - Legacy

Ember Records CJS 848 (UK) released in 1975; 1939 recordings. (NOTE: Record jacket states that it's in "stereo enhanced mono")

Eleven classic Tatum solo performances, recorded in Hollywood in 1939, when he was aged 29, unfettered by any accompanying players, who would have been surplus to requirements here. Such completeness of technique and flow of ideas in a seemingly unschooled player, playjng the popular tunes of the time, several of which became perennial jazz vehicles for improvisation. Tunes such as "Tea For Two", "I Can't Give You Anything But Love", "On The Sunny Side Of The Street", "Limehouse Blues, "Indiana, "Day In, Day Out", "Fine And Dandy", "I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues" and three others, played by The Righteous Art!

Fats Waller - The Indispensable Fats Waller Vols 3 / 4 (1935-1936)

RCA / Ariola Black & White NL 89819(2) (France), released in 1972; 1935 - 1936 recordings.

Forty one tracks here, including a few which were to be forever associated with Fats, dating from January 1935 to August 1936, recorded mostly by what was at the time a studio group only, Fats Waller And His Rhythm, the wonderful vocals and pianistics by Fats to the forefront, just making you grin when you hear him. Immortal tracks here include: "Night Wind", "I Ain't Got Nobody", "Rosetta", "What's The Reason" (later covered by Fats Domino), "Lulu's Back In Town", "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter", "Dinah", "12th Street Rag", "Sweet Sue", "My Very Good Friend The Milkman", "I Got Rhythm", "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie", "I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby", and thirty others. The sound quality is outstanding for the era. Being a French RCA- issued album, the liner notes appear in both French and English.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Eberhard Weber - Yellow Fields

ECM 1066 ST (Germany), released in 1976

One of the very best Eberhard Weber ECM albums, this inspired pairing of Weber with American saxophonist Charlie Mariano, along with German pianist Rainer Bruninghaus and Norwegian drummer Jon Christiansen sets the benchmark on this kind of "Eurojazz", which became the raison de etre of ECM's Manfred Eicher, the producer here. Wonderfully flexible themes, great soloing, what's not to like? All four compositions ("Touch", "Sand-Glass", "Yellow Fields", and "Left Lane") are by Weber. Notably different are the contributions by Mariano using the Indian instruments shenai and nagaswaram.

Jim Mullen and Dick Morrissey - Up

Embryo / Atlantic SD 536 (USA), 1977

The great teaming of Dick Morrissey, saxophones & flute, and Jim Mullen, guitar are highlighted in this rare recording with members of the Average White Band, who also produced the album. These players include: Malcolm "Molly" Duncan, saxophone; Hamish Stuasrt, Onnie McIntyre, guitars; Roger Ball, keyboards; Alan Gorrie, bass, and Steve Ferrone, drums. There are two originals each from Mullen and Morrissey, as well as a great version of Carla Bley's "Sing Me Softly Of The Blues", and "Everything Must Change", from the film "Stony Island" and then a hit for George Benson.

"Four Freshmen and Five Saxes" plus 10” album “... and Five Trombones

Capitol T844 (UK), released 1957 / 10" LP "Five Trombones": LC 6812 (UK), released 1956

The inimitable Four Freshmen sound is captured here in a great programme of standards, with the arrangements shared by Pete Rugulo and Dick Reynolds. They survey the Great American Songbook, with great versions of "Liza" (George & Ira Gershwin), Isham Jones' "You've Got Me Crying Again", Rodgers & Hart's "This Can't Be Love", British bandleader Ray Noble's "The Very Thought Of You", Vincent Youman's "Sometimes I'm Happy", Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well" and six others.

On the 10" "Trombones" album, all arranged by Pete Rugulo, there appear "You Stepped Out Of A Dream", "I Remember You", Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here To Stay", "You Made Me Love You", Matt Dennis' "Angel Eyes", "Love Is Just Around The Corner", "Mam'selle", Kurt Weill's "Speak Low", and Kern-Hammerstein's "The Last Time I Saw Paris". The 10" LP omits only two tracks which are on the 12" version of this album.

Weather Report - Heavy Weather

CBS 81775 (UK), released in 1977

This album marked Weather Report's achievement of world-wide recognition, mainly on the basis of the hit "Birdland", written by keyboardist Joe Zawinul. The recent addition to the band of fretless bass phenomenon Jaco Pastorius also signalled a quantum leap in the group's fortunes, and he's listed as co-producer here. Not forgetting saxophonist Wayne Shorter, whose contributions are mostly on soprano and tenor saxophones. The rhythm team of Alex Acuna and Manolo Badrena mark a change from the previous album, "Black Market" (1976) when Acuna was teamed with Chester Thompson, who left to join Phil Collins in the rock group Genesis! Along with "Birdland", Zawinul is responsible for "A Remark You Made" and "The Juggler", Pastorius wrote "Teen Town" and "Havona", Shorter contributed "Harlequin", and Badrena wrote "Rumba Mama".

Weather Report - Black Market

CBS S 81325 (UK), released in 1976

A wonderful exposition of Weather Report's pioneering world music mixed with cutting edge synthesizer work, once again proving that really up-to-date grooves don't necessarily have to have a guitar in the mix! Contributing musicians include Alphonso Johnson, bassist on five tracks, composer on one ("Herandnu"), Wayne Shorter, soprano & tenor saxophones, Lyricon and composer of two tracks ("Elegant People", "Three Clowns"), Joe Zawinul, all manner of pianos and keyboards, including ARP 2600, Rhodes electric piano, Oberheim Polyphonic synth, and composer of three tracks ("Black Market", "Cannonball", a tribute to his old boss, Cannonball Adderley, and "Gibraltar") Newcomer Jaco Pastorius writes and plays bass on "Barbary Coast" only. A superb introduction to the wonder that is Weather Report.

Mel Torme – My Kind of Music

Verve V-8440 (USA), released in 1962

The great singer Mel Torme recorded this album of standards in the U.K. in 1961. Relying on the outstanding arranging talents of Geoff Love, Tony Osborne and Wally Stott, he lends fresh interpretations to five of his own compositions: ""A Stranger In Town", "Born To Be Blue", "County Fair", "Welcome To The Club", and evergreen "The Christmas Song". Almost all of the remaining songs come from the prolific pens of songwriters Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz. These include "You And The Night And The Music", "I Guess I'll Have To Change My Plan", "Dancing In The Dark", "By Myself" and "Alone Together", tunes with rich harmonies which have been covered by jazz musicians many times over the years.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Bill Evans & Jim Hall - Intermodulation

(Verve (UK) Stereo LP SVLP 9145 (American number V6 8655), recorded in 1966)

This is the second duet album made by Bill Evans, pianist, and Jim Hall, guitarist. Each contributes an original, Evans's "Turn Out The Stars" (dedicated to his father) and Hall's "All Across The City" being very different in nature. Also played are Joe Zawinul's "Angel Face", Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" (stylistically very like "My Funny Valentine" from the previous album "Undercurrent") and a beautiful and sensitive version of Gershwin's "My Man's Gone Now". A worthy companion volume for "Undercurrent".

Bill Evans Trio- Trio '65

(Verve (USA) Stereo LP V6 8613), recorded in 1965)

This is the second trio album made by Bill Evans, pianist, with Chuck Israels, bass, and LARRY BUNKER, drums. The other, also released in 1965, was a 'live' album, recorded at Shelly's Manne - Hole in Hollywood and issued on the reinstated Riverside Records (See my other E-Bay listings for this item). Although the Manne Hole album was recorded in May 1963, it wasn't issued until '65, primarily because Riverside Records had gone bankrupt. Interestingly, this same trio recorded Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" for both albums.

Bill Evans At The Montreux Jazz Festival

(Verve (USA) Stereo LP V6 8762), recorded in 1968)

A wonderful edition of the Bill Evans Trio, caught 'live' in the most convivial setting. Evans plays with more aggressive drive, which may be due to the fact that his rhythm team-mates are Eddie Gomez, bass, and Jack DeJohnette, drums. A programme including Miles Davis' "Nardis", two Evans originals, "One For Helen" (Helen Keane, his manager), and "Walkin' Up", as well as a fine selection of standards from the likes of George Gershwin, Ray Noble and even one by his favourite "obscure" composer Earl Zindars ("Mother Of Earl") make for a well-rounded programme.