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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Bill Evans Trio - A Simple Matter Of Conviction

(Verve (USA), V68675, recorded in 1966)

Bill Evans made many albums in the jazz trio format but this is one of the finest featuring the then 21-year-old Eddie Gomez on bass, and the veteran Shelly Manne on drums. As usual, he includes several of his own originals, namely "These Things Called Changes", "Only Child", and "Unless It's You", but he also chooses several tunes which have joined the bop canon, such as "Stella By Starlight" and "Star Eyes". From the heyday of 'forties film nostalgia, we find "Laura", from the big band era there's Tommy Dorsey's theme "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You", and the most unlikely choice of the lot, a great updating of that old saloon favourite, "My Melancholy Baby".

Bill Evans Trio With Symphony Orchestra

(Verve (USA) Stereo LP V6 8640), recorded in 1965)

This is the acclaimed album in which Bill Evans, pianist, acknowledges some of his classical influences, but still manages to inject fresh jazz improvisation. Evans contributes two originals, "Time Remembered" and "My Bells" which sit very well with themes based on Bach, Chopin, Scriabin, Granados and Gabriel Faure. The latter's "Pavane" is my favourite piece on the album, and all benefit greatly by being arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman, who also contributed his "Elegia", the second movement of his "Concerto For Orchestra And Jazz". One of the few successful efforts to blend classics with jazz.

Bill Evans Trio - New Jazz Conceptions

(Riverside (USA) Monaural LP RLP 12-223, recorded in 1956)

This is the very first Evans album featuring bassist Teddy Kotick, with Paul Motian on drums. This is the 1958 version, with a cover illustration by artist Robert Parker replacing the original photograph. The original, released just two years earlier, is listed in the Goldmine Jazz Album Price Guide at a whopping 500 dollars (!) but the one described here goes for a lot less. The selections here include Evans originals "No Cover, No Minimum" and "Five" as well as the first recording of his most enduring tune, "Waltz For Debby", but they play mostly standards here (Cole Porter's "I Love You", Ellington's "I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good", Kurt Weill's "Speak Low", as well as other jazz originals (George Shearing's "Conception", Tadd Dameron's "Our Delight"). An auspicious debut by Evans.

Bill Evans Trio - At Shelly's Manne Hole

(Riverside (USA) Stereo LP RS 9487, recorded in 1963)

This is the first Evans album featuring bassist Chuck Israels, with Larry Bunker on drums. This is the 1965 Orpheum Productions Riverside reissue, since Riverside had gone bankrupt around that time.,(See my listings for another album featuring this same line-up, "Trio '65"). The selections here include no Evans originals and they play mostly standards (Rodgers & Hart's "Isn't It Romantic", Vincent Youmans's "The Boy Next Door", Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here To Stay", Victor Young & Ned Washington's "Stella By Starlight"), as well as other jazz originals (Barney Kessel's"Swedish Pastry", Chuck Israel's "Blues In F", Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight"). This is a hard-to-find 'live' album by Evans, mainly due, I think to the confusion surrounding Riverside's bankruptcy. At the time (1965), I worked at Wallich's Music City in Hollywood, and after work (the shop stayed open till 2AM (!), I used to walk the two blocks from Sunset and Vine over to Shelly's on Cahuenga Blvd. and catch the last set. On one of these occasions, I actually met Bill and asked him if the Riverside albums would be re-released. He gave me a vague answer to this query, as he obviously didn't know himself.

Bill Evans - Peace Pieces (featuring Cannonball Adderley)

(Riverside / ABC (USA) Stereo LP RS 3042, originally recorded between 1958-1963)

An Evans compilation originally issued in 1969, this album has various lineups from the halcyon Riverside days playing an all-Evans programme. Tracks include "Interplay", "Waltz For Debby", Know What I Mean?", Peace Piece", "Show Type Tune", "Very Early", and "Re: Person I Knew". The bass duties are equally split between Chuck Israels and Percy Heath, while the drumming duties fall on Connie Kay, 'Philly' Joe Jones and Paul Motian.This also has two tracks from the 'Cannonball' Adderley album "Know What I Mean?" (see my other listings for this album), and the title track ("Interplay") from a great date featuring Freddie Hubbard, trumpet, and Jim Hall, guitar, along with the aforementioned 'Philly' Joe Jones (see my other listings for this album). This 1969 ABC Riverside compilation, shows that four years had gone by since Riverside had gone bankrupt, and the label still hadn't found a permanent home. This was later rectified when Fantasy Records assumed ownership, which is still in force today, I think (see my listing for "Interplay", which Fantasy reissued on vinyl in 1987). historically valuable and many of Evans' key compositions in one album.

Bill Evans Quintet - Interplay (featuring Freddie Hubbard, Jim Hall)

(Riverside / Fantasy (USA) Stereo LP OJC-308 (originally Riverside RLP 9445), originally recorded 1962; this reissue remastered and released on vinyl in 1987)

One of the few albums where Bill Evans plays behind front-line instruments, this 1962date is noteworthy for the sheer drive and invention displayed by all concerned. The dependable Percy Heath is on bass, while the drumming duties fall on 'Philly' Joe Jones.This is a great date featuring Freddie Hubbard, trumpet, and Jim Hall, guitar. Evans' composition, "Interplay" is a small blues masterpiece, and my favourite on the album, but the standards ("You And The Night And The Music", "When You Wish Upon A Star", "I'll Never Smile Again", You Go To My Head" and "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams" all deserve kudos. Amazingly Hubbard was unfamiliar with the standards Evans chose for the date, but no one would ever notice.

Gil Evans Orchestra - New Bottle Old Wine (featuring Cannonball Adderley)

(World Pacific (USA) Monaural LP WP - 1246, recorded 1958)

A wonderful updating of some jazz classics by Gil Evans and his orchestra featuring the alto saxophone of Julian Cannonball' Adderley, who was just rising to prominence at the time of this collaboration. Also featured in the 13 piece orchestra are Paul Chambers, bass, and Art Blakey, drums, while Gil Evans, as well as arranging, played piano. The tunes run the gamut of jazz, from the early days ("St. Louis Blues", "King Porter Stomp", WiIlow Tree", "Struttin' With Some Barbecue") and on into the modern era, beginning with Lester Young's "Lester Leaps In", then Monk's "'Round Midnight", Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca!", and ending with Charlie Parker's "Bird Feathers".

Gil Evans Orchestra - The Individualism Of Gil Evans

(Verve (USA) Stereo LP V6-8555, recorded 1963 - '64)

After the success of his Impulse album "Out Of The Cool" in 1961 (see my other listings), Gil Evans took a break from his recording activities to recharge his batteries. This album marked his return to music, and what a great album he's produced here. All but one track are written by Evans. That one, "The Barbara Song", is by Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht. Many of the same musicians appear here as on the earlier album, such as Elvin Jones, drums, Bill Barber, tuba, Tony Studd, bass trombone, and Bob Tricarico, bassoon, flute and piccolo, all part of the Evans sound, but that sound really depends on his unique arranging skills, honed in the service of Claude Thornhill's orchestra in the 1940s.

Gil Evans Orchestra - Out Of The Cool

(Impulse (USA) Monaural LP A - 4, recorded 1961)

This album amounted to a breakthrough for Gil Evans if not with the general public, at least in cogniscenti jazz circles. He'd already been recognized for his work with Miles Davis on "Miles Ahead and "Porgy And Bess", but that was doing arrangements for his friend Miles who regarded Gil as his own mentor. Here, he was free to try such ideas as two drummers (Elvin Jones and Charlie Persip playing simultaneously on "La Nevada", the longest track in the album at 15:33 minutes), and investigating the Lydian Concept of George Russell on "Stratusphunk". Again there's homage to Kurt Weill on "Bilbao". To achieve all this we have a fifteen piece lineup with John Coles and Phil Sunkel, trumpets, Ray Beckenstein, Eddie Caine, Budd Johnson and Bob Tricarico, reeds and flutes, Ron Carter, bass, Ray Crawford, guitar, Bill Barber, tuba and Tony Studd, Jimmy Knepper and Keg Johnson, trombones. Gil himself arranged and plays piano on all tracks.

Victor Feldman - Merry Olde Soul

(Riverside (USA) Monaural LP RLP 366, recorded 1960 - '61)

Victor Feldman came from a London musical family who were instrumental in the fostering of the new bebop music in the late forties, when they had a club, "Feldman's". Vic was a child prodigy on drums, even sitting in with the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band during the war. He originally went to the States to work with people like Woody Herman, before settling on the West Coast where his ability on vibes made him a first-call sessioneer for the likes of Marty Paich and others. His growing reputation led to him playing with Cannonball Adderley, first on record sessions, and then when he took over the Adderley band piano chair from Bobby Timmons who left to join Art Blakey. His growing exposure and reputation led to this outstanding Riverside album, where he was joined by Hank Jones on piano on the tracks where he played vibes, and by his Adderley bandmates Sam Jones, bass, and Louis Hayes, drums.There are four Feldman tunes here, "Serenity", "Lisa", "Bloke's Blues" and "Mosey On Down", as well as such standards as Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday", The Gershwins' "The Man I Love" (where Vic plays both piano and vibes), Mack Gordon's "You Make Me Feel So Young", Sy Oliver's "For Dancers Only" and even then-current chart number by Brenda Lee(!) called "I Want To Be Wanted". But this isn't really Feldman's debut album. When he first arrived in California, Contemporary released "The Arrival Of Victor Feldman", which also had Scott La Faro on bass.

Victor Feldman Quartet- Rockavibabe

(DJM (UK) Stereo LP DJM 22058, released in UK in 1977; recorded 1974. (originally issued by Choice Records (USA) as "Your Smile", released in 1974)

Victor Feldman was at the height of his success in his role as a Hollywood session stalwart, but he still liked to play jazz and contemporary fusion, as he does here on piano, vibes and percussion, with a stellar cast, including Tom Scott, flutes and tenor sax, Chuck Domanico, bass, and John Guerin, drums. Incidentally, Vic, John and Tom are all veterans of the famous "L. A. Express" band. Six of the eight tracks are either composed or co-composed by Victor ("Rockavibabe", "Your Smile", "Brazilian Fire", "Minor Catastrophe", "Crazy Chicken" and, with Miles Davis, "Seven Steps To Heaven") while the other two are"Quietly", written by Brazilians Luis Eca and Chana Dorio, and the "I Love Lucy Theme" by E. Daniel and H. Adamson.This session was recorded 'live' at a Los Angeles club, unnamed. This album represents the fusion / contemporary side of Victor Feldman.

Red Garland Trio w/ Ray Barreto - Manteca

(Prestige (USA) Monaural LP PRLP 7139, recorded 1958)

Red Garland was said to be one of Miles Davis' favourite musicians not only because of his keyboard prowess (he played piano in the first great quintet with Miles and 'Trane), but also for the fact that he was a good enough boxer to have lost to Sugar Ray Robinson, and Miles was also a very enthusiastic pugilist! Be that as it may, Red also turned out distinctive piano trio albums, and this one numbers among his very best, partly because of the presence of the propulsive conguero Ray Barreto. Also in the cast of players are the great bassist Paul Chambers, and the Prestige Records house drummer Arthur Taylor. Although only one selection, Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" fits the bill as Latin jazz, Ray's presence on all the tracks gives them another dimension, as he considers himself to be more of a jazz player than a Latin one. On standards like Gershwin's "S'Wonderful" and "Lady Be Good" and on Fields & McHugh's "Exactly Like You", He fits the jazz feel like a glove, and on Garland's tune "Mort's Report" (dedicated to New York jazz deejay Mort Fega), Barreto and Taylor play around with the time feel on an outstanding slow blues that, tho' long, ends too soon.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Erroll Garner Trios - Encores In Hi Fi

(Columbia (USA) Monaural LP CL 1141, recorded 1958)

Erroll Garner was at the birth of bebop, even playing with the great Charlie Parker on "Cool Blues", but he really didn't fit into any kind of pigeonhole. An astonishingly gifted player, it's said that he never learned to read music, and was so diminutive that he needed at least the Manhattan telephone directory to augment the piano stool so he could reach the keys! His choice of repertoire here includes a humourous treatment of "Humoresque" by classical composer Anton Dvorak, Sir Charles Thompson and Illinois Jacquet's "Robbin's Nest", Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady", the well-travelled "Moonglow", Gershwin's "The Man I Love", "How High The Moon", and some of his own tunes, such as "Groovy Day", Fancy", and "Creme De Menthe".

Stan Getz with the Clarke / Boland Big Band - Change Of Scenes

(Verve / Polydor (UK) Stereo LP 2304 034, recorded 1971)

Stan Getz was looking for a fresh challenge. Already the most recognised and feted saxophonist of his generation, save perhaps Sonny Rollins, he didn't want to be trotted out to play "Desafinado" any more. So, while in Europe for yet another tour, he contacted Francy Boland, the co-leader of perhaps Europe's most accomplished jazz orchestra, the Clarke / Boland Big Band. He wanted Francy to provide some fresh material, and that's what Francy did, in spades! Not a bossa nova in sight, and original and daring writing by Boland guaranteed that Getz would be challenged in a meaningful way by six extended suites, all penned by Francy Boland and designed to integrate Getz the improvisor with the orchestra. An unqualified success, featuring many of Europe's leading jazz players, who also get to solo. The list includes Art Farmer, American trumpet star then resident in Vienna, Brits Ronnie Scott, Tony Coe and Stan Saltzmann on reeds, ex-pat Americans Benny Bailey, trumpet, Sahib Shihab and Kenny Clarke, and others too numerous to mention. This album is not listed in Gold Mine Jazz Record Price Guide, so it was probably never released in the U.S.A. That makes this a rare album.

Stan Getz - Captain Marvel

(Verve / Polydor (UK) Stereo LP 2304 225, recorded 1972. released 1975)

Stan Getz was quite forward thinking when he engaged this album's musicians to record with in New York in March, 1972. As a working group at the time, Chick Corea et al would go on to record some of his compositions heard here while in London in October of that year, the only changes to the lineup being Joe Farrell, tenor and flute replacing Getz, and adding singer Flora Purim to form Return To Forever. On drums on both albums is Brazilian Airto Moriera, while the great young bassist Stanley Clarke anchors the rhythm. It also marked Corea's first album featuring the then-new Rhodes electric piano, and he would go on to be a leading synthesizer proponent in later incarnations of Return To Forever. Corea is the composer of five out of six of the album's selections ("La Fiesta", "500 Miles High", "Captain Marvel", "Times Lie", "Day Waves") , the only exception being Getz's recap of the great Billy Strayhorn standard "Lush Life." In Gold Mine Jazz Record Price Guide (mainly USA albums listed here), this rare album is not even listed, making a strong case for a rare record pricing.

Stan Getz / Charlie Byrd Quintet - Jazz Samba

(Verve (USA) Monaural LP V-8432, recorded 1962)

Stan Getz in the album that started his ascendancy to the pinnacle of jazz's version of super-stardom. He once quipped, "Desafinado" put my kids through college". It's easy to hear what hooked the norteamerican populace on this music. The circularity of the "who influenced who" re: Brazilian musicians absorbing some of jazz and bebop's alluring qualities and connecting with thinking jazzmen everywhere. Charming melodies, understatement, jazz sensibility, the Getz 'sound' blended with the thoroughly assimilated Charlie Byrd nylon guitar 'sound'. What complete songs! Jobim's "Desafinado" and "Samba De Uma Nota So", a Charlie Byrd original called "Samba Dees Days", Baden Powell's "Samba Triste", other exemplary Brazilian material (my favourite being Ary Barroso's "Baia).

Stan Getz with string orchestra led by Beaux-Arts String Quartet - Focus

(Verve (USA) Stereo LP V6-8412, recorded 1961. released 1961)

Stan Getz is heard in a totally improvising role here, not reading parts, playing as spontaneously as possible, integrating his sound with the stimulating pieces arranged and composed by Eddie Sauter. This record pretty much belongs in a category of one, as there hasn't been another quite like it, to my knowledge. The reason for this may lie in the arranging talents of Eddie Sauter, who was loath to create yet another 'rhythm section with strings' showcasing a jazz soloist. The colossal talent that was Stan Getz is probably the other main reason why this was a 'match made in heaven', as he had no trouble "filling the hole" Sauter had left for him. A 'class of its own' album by one of the major saxophone players in jazz.

Dexter Gordon Quartet - Our Man In Paris

(Blue Note (USA) Monaural LP BLP 4146, recorded 1963. released 1963)

Dexter Gordon is heard here with perhaps the most influential pianist (Bud Powell) and drummer (Kenny Clarke) of the bebop era, both resident in Paris, as was Gordon at the time. The great French bassist Pierre Michelot completes the line-up here, and they just tear into the material they were all born to play! Dexter shines on every number, but particularly on the ballads "Willow Weep For Me" and "Stairway To The Stars", exhibiting what a critic called his "gruff lyricism". As for the other selections, two bebop stalwarts (Charlie Parker's "Scrapple From the Apple" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Night In Tunisia"), plus a standard from an earlier jazz era, "Broadway", complete the programme here.

Wardell Gray - Central Avenue

(Prestige / RCA (UK) Monaural 2-LP set PR 24062, recorded between 1949 - '53. this album released 1976)

Wardell Gray, the short-lived tenor saxophonist, is heard in various settings, on all of Side 1 with the then Charlie Parker rhythm section of Al Haig, piano, Tommy Potter, bass, and Roy Haynes, drums. Included is the famous Gray blues "Twisted", which was to be a huge (for jazz) hit when Annie Ross did her 1952 vocalese version. Interestingly, a second unissued take of "Twisted" heard here differs from the famous issued take. All of the tracks heard here (originally only on 78rpm or 45rpm singles), except for the three previously unissued selections on Side 1 can be heard on 1964's "The Wardell Gray Memorial Album", so if you've already got that one, it's a keeper. On Side 2, a 'live' session features Gray with Clark Terry, trumpet, and on one track, "Move", Dexter Gordon on tenor. Worth mentioning also is the presence of the great and underexposed altoist here, Sonny Criss, who just leaps out of the speakers with his dry martini sound. Other sessions included on Sides 3 and 4 feature Art Farmer, trumpet, Hampton Hawes or Sonny Clark, piano, and the recently rediscovered Frank Morgan on alto sax. Featuring on drums on these last two sessions is Larance Marable, still active with Charlie Haden's Quartet West. The first recording of "Farmer's Market" is heard here, as well as standards like "Lover Man, "Sweet And Lovely" and "The Man I Love". A very collectable album by one of the major saxophone players in jazz.

Teddy Edwards / Dexter Gordon / Leo Parker / Wardell Gray - The Foremost!

(Onyx / Poydor (UK) Monaural LP 2344 050, recorded beteen 1947 - '55. released 1973)

Teddy Edwards and Dexter Gordon are heard in a quintet setting with Jimmy Rowles on piano, bassist Red Callender (who taught the young Charles Mingus) and Roy Porter on drums in three tracks from 1947 for Dial Records. Then it's baritone saxophonist Leo Parker in 1950 for the obscure Gotham Records, with three takes (all different) of the same tune ("On The House") featuring veteran Curley Russell on bass and the young Kenny Drew on piano. Never issued at the time, this is their first appearance anywhere. Leo also has a great baritone saxophone solo on Ellington's "Solitude" and a rousing "Symphony In Sid", alluding to "Jumpin' With Symphony Sid". The Wardell Gray tracks have him playing tenor sax in Chicago in 1955, not long before his tragic and untimely death, with a line up including Victor Sproles on bass and Norman Simmons, piano, both later accompanists for Carmen McRae (See McRae's "Live At Sugar Hill" in my future listings). Also featured on drums here is Vernell Fournier, who would go on to play with the great Ahmad Jamal Trio. Tracks include "Hey There", a pop hit by Sammy Davis, Jr. at the time, and "Blues In The Closet", among others.

Johnny Griffin Orchestra - The Big Soul Band

(Riverside (USA) Monaural LP RLP 331, recorded 1960, released 1960)

Johnny Griffin is heard preaching saxophone in a big band setting with Bobby Timmons or Harold Mabern on piano playing Norman Simmons arrangements, and Simmons' compositions "Panic Room Blues" "Holla"and "Meditation" which are heard here for the first time. Also, well in keeping with the 'soulful' theme are Simmons' take on traditional spirituals like "Deep River", "Wade In The Water" and "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen", while pianists Bobby Timmons and Junior Mance each contribute fitting originals, "So Tired" and "Jubilation", respectively.. On drums is Charlie Persip, while great bassists Victor Sproles or Bob Cranshaw anchor the rhythm. From the 12 piece orchestra, outstanding soloists besides Griffin (who plays out of his skin) include Clark Terry, trumpet, Julian Priester, trombone, as well as others.

Herbie Hancock Quartet - Empyrean Isles

(Blue Note (USA) Monaural LP BLP 417593, recorded 1964, released 1965)

Herbie Hancock was trying for a sound different from the trumpet / saxophone front line in this quartet with Freddie Hubbard playing cornet instead of his usual trumpet. The other players with Hancock also formed the Miles Davis rhythm section of the time, with Ron Carter, bass, and Tony WIlliams, drums. The music, all composed by Hancock, can be viewed as a loosely constructed parallel to the whimsical liner note story penned by Nora Kelly, which describes an idyllic 'lotus land' called Epyrean Isles. The most famous composition, "Canteloupe Island", later formed the basis for the '90s 'nu-jazz' hit by US3, "Canteloop", (which features British trumpeter Gerard Presencer playing a fabulous Freddie Hubbard-inspired solo). All the music here has an atmospheric bent, and both Hubbard and Hancock play impressively, as do the rhythm section.

Bill Evans Trio - Sunday at the Village Vanguard

(Riverside (USA) Monaural LP RLP 376, recorded in 1961)

This is the influential album, which, paired with "Waltz For Debby" (see my other listings), documents the groundbreaking trio improvisational concept which has proved so inspirational to a host of other players, like Keith Jarrett. The main innovation was that all three of the trio members could simultaneously improvise, which changed the roles of bass and drums dramatically. Having the great Scott La Faro on bass proved pivotal, and these sadly, were his last recordings, as he died in a car crash a few days later. The drummer, Paul Motian, is, happily, still active, and his brush work here is exemplary. The vinyl album, manufactured and reissued by Orpheum Productions after Riverside went bankrupt, is a must for Evans fans

Bill Evans & Jim Hall - Undercurrent

(United Artists (USA) Monaural LP UAJ 14003, recorded in 1962)

Bill Evans and Jim Hall play together almost telepathically on these tracks. Such standards as "My Funny Valentine", the standout track, and "Darn That Dream", sit happily on the disc with the unusual John Lewis original "Skating In Central Park" and the rarely heard "Dream Gypsy". And all this in a package which just has to be one of the great album covers. And for liner notes, the stream-of-consciousness "Wait Quickly" by Barry J, Titus, dedicated to Bill and Jim, has to be the most convoluted rant since Jack Kerouac!

Bill Evans Trio - Everybody Digs Bill Evans

(Riverside (USA) Monaural LP RLP 12-291, recorded in 1958)

This is a very special Evans album featuring the great bassist Sam Jones, with 'Philly' Joe Jones on drums. 'Philly' worked with Evans in the Miles Davis band, while Sam Jones has provided sturdy bass for a myriad of other groups, including 'Cannonball' Adderley (see my other listings). The selections here include Evans original "Peace Piece", but they play mostly standards here ("Young And Foolish", "Night And Day", "Tenderly", as well as jazz originals (Sonny Rollins'"Oleo", Evans's "Epilogue"). Evans plays with gusto, urged on by this supreme rhythm section.

Bill Evans Trio - Moonbeams

(Riverside (USA) Monaural LP RLP 428, recorded in 1962)

This is the first Evans album featuring bassist Chuck Israels, who replaced the sadly departed Scott La Faro, but again with Paul Motian on drums. Seen as a transitional album, Evans was forced to become more dominant, due to the different nature of Israel's playing. An all-ballad album, the selections here include Evans originals "Re: Person I Knew" (an anagram based on producer Orrin Keepnews' name) and "Very Early" as well as the standards here (Burke-Van Heusen's "Polka Dots and Moonbeams", Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn's "I Fall In Love Too Easily", "Stairway To The Stars", as well as a jazz original (Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now"). An atmospheric ballad album by Evans.