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MANNY ECHAZABAL Short Notice

Album · 2017 · Post Bop
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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js
One of the reasons why post bop has endured and grown over time as a musical genre is that it’s a very open and malleable musical form that is able to stretch its shape and morph into any new influence that crosses its path. Be it Latin, fusion, free jazz, drumnbass or any other style, post bop is able to absorb all of this and maintain its current relevance, which leads us to “Short Notice”, a very eclectic and modern post bop CD by saxophonist Manny Echazabal. On this new album, Manny takes on a myriad diversity of influences and throws them in the post bop blender to create something that is intellectually challenging, as well as energetic and enjoyable to listen to. Manny cites Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter and Kenny Dorham as influences on his playing, and names Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland and the aforementioned Henderson and Shorter as influences on his compositional style. All of these influences show, but you could also add the compositions of Kenny Garret as similar too, in the way that he combines many diverse influences underneath the post bop umbrella.

None of the members of Echazabal’s backup band are particularly big names yet, which should change as this crew could hold their own against anybody. A good reference for how these guys interact could be Herbie’s explosive VSOP band that featured Shorter and Tony Williams. Much like that band, Echazabal’s group keeps a flowing high energy conversation going as they all interact with the soloists in rhythmic interjections. Drummer David Chiverton knows how to push a soloist, but also stays more in the pocket than the previously mentioned Williams. Pianist Tal Cohen is outstanding as he builds his free wheeling solos in tandem with Chiverton’s propulsions. There is a definite Hancock influence in Tal’s playing, but Tal also shows a little more mischievous humor when he does things like repeating two notes back and forth in building phrases.

All of the tracks on here are great, but some standouts include the high energy straight ahead swing of “Short Notice”, the stuttering broken rhythms of “The Green Monk” and the avant-garde excursions that make up “Abraham’s Warriors”. There is a lot to hear here, after many listens, I’m still finding things I missed before, there is much to be absorbed. “Short Notice” is excellent modern jazz for those who are into such things.

MACHINE MASS TRIO / MACHINE MASS Plays Hendrix

Album · 2017 · Classic Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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js
If you are going to make a tribute album, you might as well aim high, and that is what Machine Mass has done on their latest outing as they take on the timeless songs of Jimi Hendrix. Not only was Hendrix a pyrotechnical guitar wizard, but he was also a gifted songwriter and tireless innovator in the studio. It’s a tall order to try and do something new with these Hendrix creations, but Machine Mass does well in rising to the occasion, mostly by not trying to imitate Jimi too much. Instead, Machine Mass manage to draw something new out of these well known tracks by following their own musical instincts. For those unfamiliar with the group, Mass consists of Michel Deville on guitar and electronics, and Tony Bianco on drums. On past albums they were joined by a guest woodwind player, but this time around they opt for avant art rocker, Antoine Guenet from Universe Zero, on keyboards, who brings much to the Mass mix.

This CD opens strong with a roving psychedelic jam on “Third Stone from the Sun”. Delville quite wisely does not attempt to imitate Hendrix, but instead supplies his own blazing fusion/rock solos. Bianco’s drumming, on the other hand, does seem to be a tribute to the style of Mitch Mitchell, a stylistic tribute that Bianco maintains throughout the whole album, although Tony flavors his Mitchell type approach with a bit more free post bop swing. The end result is one can hear just how jazz influenced Mitch was when he was jamming with Jimi, its not a far leap from Mitchell’s drum style to a more free-form post bop approach. Some of the other best tracks on this CD come early on, especially “Spanish Castle Magic”, which gives Guenet a chance to provide an over the top B3 solo that is parts Jamie Saft, the young Jon Lord and classic horror movie soundtracks. It would have been nice to hear more Guenet B3 solos on here, he has a very unique and intense take on organ soloing.

Generally, the songs on here don’t adhere too closely to Jimi’s versions, but instead use his music as a jumping off point for free form psychedelic fusion jamming. If you can imagine Ozric Tentacles with a post bop drummer, that might get you close to the sound on here. This mostly works, except for a couple tracks where things get a bit murky, particularly “Little Wing” and “You Got Me Floatin”. Whether one would have wanted Mass to stay closer to Jimi’s melodies and chord sequences is probably a matter of personal preference. Overall, this is a very good tribute by the Mass gang, and a strong addition to the many Hendrix covers already in existence.

JOHN DAVERSA Wobbly Dance Flower

Album · 2017 · Hard Bop
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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No doubt there is a lot of creative abstract intellectual jazz coming out these days, which is all fine and good, but sometimes you may be asking yourself, ‘where is the heat’? Where is that hot jazz that blasts you in the face with kinetic unstoppable energy. A couple years ago it was Walking Distance with their “Neighborhood” album that supplied some much needed fire. This year its John Daversa and his more fun than a drunk barrel of monkeys, “Wobbly Dance Flower”, that is bound to get you up to get down. What we have on this fine disc is a great blend of high speed neo-bebop, soulful hard bop grooves and anarchistic free blowing that all adds up to one of the hottest jazz CDs of 2017. Mostly known for his modern big band arranging, Daversa also adds plenty of interesting changeups and arrangements to keep these tunes far from anything cliché.

Opening track, “Ms Turkey” will grab your attention with one of this CD’s salient features, and that is the aforementioned high speed neo-bebop that exists somewhere between the worlds of Diz n’ Bird, and early Ornette with Don Cherry, but rendered with a modern sensibility that shows no trace of nostalgia. “Be Free”, as the title would suggest, is a free jazz jam that uses the same up tempo bop as a starting point, but then utilizes modern tempo changes that shift and dissolve without warning. Things cool out for the soulful and melodic “Brooklyn Still”, as well as the B3 groove of “Jazz Heads”. “Meet Me at the Airport” is a another B3 soul jazz number that closes with a climbing fusion riff reminiscent of Larry Young’s work with the Tony Williams Lifetime. After this, the album closes out with more short and sassy high speed romps.

The playing on here is excellent. Daversa has a clean and precise tone on the trumpet that recalls Clifford Brown, infused with the energy of Dizzy Gillespie. He is joined by the well known Bob Mintzer on sax and bass clarinet, as well as Joe Bagg on piano and B3, a keyboard player who deserves more recognition. Zane Carney, Jerry Watts Jr and Gene Coye keep things moving in the rhythm section. Looking for your modern le jazz hot, here it is.

KUBIKMAGGI Things

Album · 2017 · (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion
Cover art 4.05 | 3 ratings
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snobb
Kubikmaggi are piano trio from St.Petersburg,most European Russian city founded on eastern Baltic shores by Peter the Great, most "European" of all Russian czars to date. Built on former Sweden-controlled territories by best French and Italian architects of the time, it was a result of an ambitious czar's project "to cut the window to Europe" for Russia. The project itself has been always a big challenge never fulfilled in full, but it gave to Russia and the world one beautiful place with very specific atmosphere, true "east meets west"(Eurasia Meets Europe),true creative boiler where Nordic rationalism is mixed with Russian metaphysical spirituality.

Originally a piano trio (or sometimes quartet), Kubikmaggi are not only a product of few hundred years of intellectual exclusivity and grey St.Peterburg's sky but as well a continuation of modern Russian avant-rock tradition, similar to Western RIO movement. Nothing's strange - Kubikmaggi's pianist and vocalist Kseniya Fedorova is a daughter of Russian avant-rock cult figure Leonid Fedorov, leader of Auktyon band.

Kubikmaggi's evolution from their debut "Needless"(2008) music till now is very impressive. Started as alternative rock quartet (with guitarist) on their debut, band sounded as bunch of students singing pretentious lyrics and adding odd sound effects trying to be different and attract attention at the same time (don't even want to mention terrible "experimental" sound mix). Here on "Things" they sound much more mature. Sound is very soft and uncompressed, not a classic "Nordic" one though. There is lot of blood and groove in album's music,with successful addition of saxophone on one song(opener).

Paying main attention on music itself,Kseniya sings only in a few places (incl. reworked in reggae key Little Tiger's song "Laying Under The Sun" from popular Soviet times children cartoon). Sounding more jazzy (partially because of sound mix),new album's music is better balanced but still contains same components as before - alternative rock's energy, snippets of brilliant tunes, some jazzy arrangements and in whole accessible and crazy mix of rational and irrational (an obvious Fedorov's genetic roots in father/Auktyon's music).

Not as screaming,intimate and sharp as Auktyon, Kubikmaggi with their third album continue the honorable tradition of St.Peterburg's avant-garde rock (and around) musical scene, and they do it well.

DUŠAN JEVTOVIĆ No Answer

Album · 2017 · Classic Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 3 ratings
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js
On Dustan Jevtovic’s previous album, “Am I Walking Wrong?”, he served up noisy guitar textures backed by a muscular jazz rock rhythm section. If you were expecting more of the same on his follow up album, “No Answer”, you may be in for a surprise as Dusan has decided to change up direction quite a bit. The heavy fusion drum and bass rhythm duo of the previous album is gone, and in their place on this new CD is a more swingin jazzy fusion drummer in Asaf Sirkis, plus the romantic classical meets post bop keyboard work of Vasil Hadzimanov. Dusan has also changed his approach to the guitar on “No Answer” as well. Whereas on “Walking Wrong” he veered away from solos per se and concentrated more on dissonant sounds and metallic textures, on “No Answer”, he provides scorching jazz fusion rides and plenty of fleet fretboard work. The combination of Dusan’s heavy guitar and Vasil’s fluid acoustic piano might seem like an odd match, but they make it work while they produce a sound that is quite different from anyone else.

Lots of interesting cuts on here, “Lifetime” is the rockin number, and possibly it is a tribute to the Tony Williams group of the same name. On “Yo Sin Mi” they almost sound like vintage Pat Metheney and Lyle Mays, only darker and less pastoral. Title cut, “No Answer“, features dramatic Eastern Europe piano chords topped with a snarling guitar solo, and “Prayer” sounds like its name in a Middle Eastern tonality. There’s even a taste of post bop swing on “El Oro”. Throughout this CD there is often a East European and/or Middle Eastern flavor to the melodies, while the sound production reflects a modern darkness and somber ambience.

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NIECHĘĆ Niechęć

Album · 2016 · Nu Jazz
Cover art 4.00 | 3 ratings
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progshine
This young Polish band was a complete surprise for me!

On their second album, the selt titled Niechęć (pronounced Niehenti) managed to do the feat of mixing quite disparate things like Post Rock and Jazz Rock and making them work together!

At various times the Jazz Fusion school, which is so strong in Poland, takes us by storm and even I, who do not like Jazz Fusion, just gave up and enjoy their music.

44 minutes of quality music that is worth checking and, even though I didn't hear many new albums in these last two years, one of the best albums released in Poland in 2016!

JONI MITCHELL Hejira

Album · 1976 · Vocal Jazz
Cover art 4.10 | 6 ratings
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progshine
Flashback: About 15 years ago it was not as easy as today, the internet world already existed and already gave all the signs of what the future would be like for music, but it still was not what it is today: a click and we heard a record...

So, my first real exposure to the music of Joni Mitchell was with what I could lay my hands on: and it was the 'Dog Eat Dog' album that I accidentally found in a second hand shop in the center of São Paulo for less than a dollar.

Well, now I know that this is not even close the best way to know Joni's music, Dog Eat Dog is pretty bad.

Back to the present. A few days ago I was watching for the second time the documentary Jaco and she appeared there talking about the album Hejira (in which Jaco Pastorius plays), and suddenly I remembered how much I love her music and that I had not yet heard Hejira.

Joni Mitchell has always been a goddess as a songwriter, her way of playing the guitar (with several different tunings) open new melodies and her compositions gain an even more original air. It's no different in Hejira. This record sounds so modern and up to date, even today. It fits in with Jazz Fusion, which had been developed a few years prior and was about to open doors with names like Weather Report, Return to Forever and Al Di Meola, but it is also Folk and it works, very well!

Hejira is a pleasure to hear from beginning to end and worth the hearing.

CHICK COREA Jazzman (aka Chick Corea aka Waltz For Bill Evans)

Boxset / Compilation · 1979 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art 3.50 | 3 ratings
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snobb
Pianist Chick Corea's Return To Forever(RTF) project made him a superstar of sort at the late 70s, when RTF themselves were already inactive jazz fusion popularity in general experienced significant decline. Corea himself tried to find a new ground as solo artist playing everything from pop jazz to Latin to third stream, with only partial success.

At the same time music industry still worked hard trying to explore "Chick Corea"'s brand till the end. It was a time when numerous labels have released plenty of all possible re-issues,compilations and archival materials, related with Corea's name, often in quite odd form."Jazzman" is one of such releases (which can be find under dozen of different titles on the market as well).

This compilation contains four Corea's early pieces, most probably coming from three-days session, recorded in 1969. Chick collaborators are all future stars,including bassist Dave Holland,drummer Jack DeJohnette,flutist Hubert Laws,trumpeter Woody Shaw,tenor Bennie Maupin and lesser known percussionist Horacee Arnold. The music has been recorded at the same time as Corea's first avant-garde jazz work "Is", and contains stylistically very similar music. Even being less free and more tuneful, "Jazzman" for sure must to disappoint RTF fans, expecting something similar in "new" Corea's releases. At the same time, it can really attract those not so numerous fans of Corea's most creative experimental period of late 60s - early 70s. More accessible than "Is" or "A.R.C." (not mention his complex masterpieces,released with Circle), "Jazzman" contains a bit direct-less mix of avant-garde jazz, early fusion and post-bop and that way illustrates quite well where from Corea's later music is coming.

The odd thing about this album is one could already be familiar with same (or very similar material) even without knowing about it. No info is provided about original sources, and to make the situation even more dreadful, it looks some titles of previously released songs are changed as well. As a result, we know that most probably "Jazzman" contains same, or very similar material with that already released in 1972 on obscure Corea's "Sundance" album. Again, it looks that all compositions were recorded during same sessions as "Sundance", and very possible "Jazzman" combines some material, already released on "Sundance" with one or more outtakes. At the same time there are plenty of albums released under different titles,which contain same or very similar material (quite often different songs titles doesn't mean that songs are really different), plus some of alternative releases mention containing "alternate versions" of same tracks. It's almost impossible to realize now where the truth is, probably better solution is Corea's "Early Works" album, possibly containing full session's material in one place.

Anyway, released most probably as one more try to explore "hot" Corea's name of the moment, this album contains some interesting material from possibly most creative Chick's period and today can offer some attractive moments for pianist's fans.

DIZZY GILLESPIE Dizzy Gillespie - Stan Getz Sextet : More Of The Diz And Getz Sextet

Album · 1954 · Bop
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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The late 1953 recording session that brought us “The Dizzy Gillespie-Stan Getz Sextet” yielded enough top notch material that the folks at Verve quickly followed that one with “More of the Diz and Getz Sextet”, which was made up of four more tracks from that initial recording session, plus one newer track that Dizzy recorded with a different band. The quality of the tracks on “More of Diz and Getz” is fairly comparable to the first album, if they are slightly lesser tracks, it isn’t by much.

This album opens with a high speed blues-bop jam that builds in intensity as the solos are passed from Oscar to Herb, then Stan and finally Dizzy. When Gillespie hits his ride, Herb Ellis’ loud ferocious comping pushes Dizzy to new heights in a wonderfully chaotic buildup. This track is followed by a mellow blues original by Dizzy which he recorded with a different lineup from the all-star cast that makes up the rest of this album. This doesn’t mean there is a drop off in the quality of the playing though, Oscar Peterson may be a technically brilliant player, but Wade Legge’s more lyrical approach may be more interesting. The third cut, “Girl of my Dreams”, continues with the mellow vibe, this time with the all-star support group back on board. The final two cuts are two different versions of “Siboney”, first played as an up-tempo bop number, and secondly, in a Latin jazz style. These final two tracks are probably the highlight of the album as Stan and Dizzy both turn in inspired solos. Its also interesting to note that Stan and Diz will continue their interest in Latin jazz, with Diz going in an Afro-Cuban direction, while Stan will pursue the Bossa-Nova fad.

In later years, these two different albums of material by this sextet will be combined into one album under various re-issue titles. Whatever the title, any of these albums are highly recommended for fans of high quality be-bop.

ART LANDE Art Lande And Rubisa Patrol ‎: Desert Marauders

Album · 1978 · Classic Fusion
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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Steve Wyzard
CLASSIC FUSION IT IS!

First, let's clear up the confusion. The name of the group is Rubisa Patrol, led by pianist Art Lande. Their first album in 1976, with a different drummer, was entitled Rubisa Patrol. The opening track of 1978's Desert Marauders, their second album, is entitled "Rubisa Patrol", but this track did not appear on the similarly-titled first album. Got it?

All that being said, Desert Marauders couldn't be more different from the first album, even though the two were recorded only 13 months apart. Rubisa Patrol has become one of the classic examples of brooding ECM melancholy and could almost be labeled World Fusion. Desert Marauders, on the other hand, is a far more vigorous musical statement, and in spite of being entirely acoustic, can more than hold its own when being compared to other Classic Fusion albums from the same time period.

Opener "Rubisa Patrol" is a rhythmic 15:57 epic and a jaw-dropping stunner. New drummer Kurt Wortman's vehement flourishes let everyone know immediately that this album will be different. Lande's playing has never been so vibrant, almost reminding one of fellow ECM pianist Bobo Stenson. After a number of starts and stops, Lande and trumpeter Mark Isham both take among their longest solos ever, and then meticulously double-track one another while playing the complex, long-lined final section. Isham's only composition on this album is "Livre (Near the Sky)", a light and airy respite after the dynamic opener. "El Pueblo de las Vacas Triste" begins leisurely but soon picks up speed, while "Perelandra" (a C.S. Lewis influence, perhaps?) is the one track most reminiscent of the previous album with its Bill Douglass flute solo. And if you couldn't get enough of the spirited "Rubisa Patrol", closer "Samsara" is a mini-epic that provides more of the same.

After making one of the stand-out albums of 1978, this group never recorded for ECM again, although they continued to perform together into the early 1980s. Lande would go on to record with Gary Peacock, Paul McCandless, and a heavily-synthesized duet with Isham, but never again did anything approaching Desert Marauders. The real mystery still to be solved is the reason why this album and its predecessor have never been released on CD.

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