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DEWA BUDJANA Joged Kahyangan

Album · 2013 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
Cover art 3.75 | 3 ratings
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Really nice and smoothy album by Indonesian guitar player Dewa Budjana! I got used to have Moonjune Records albums in a Jazz Fusion line and this kind of music really don't hold any water for me as I prefer something that was built and something with melody.

For my surprise Joged Kahyangan (2013) is one of this records! Dewa instead of trying to go on full Free Jazz do what you want wrote some really pretty melodies in a more traditional Jazz style, there's even a Vocal Jazz track on the album (As You Leave My Nest) with singer Janis Siegel.

This is the kind of album that is indeed a joy to listen to and you can enjoy it even while reading, but that doesn't make it a 'background music' album as Dewa is a great guitar player and the line up on the album is amazing.

Recommended! Please Moonjune, more of this kind of releases!

TOM WOLFE Solerovescent

Album · 2014 · Post Bop
Cover art 5.00 | 1 rating
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On Tom Wolfe's latest studio effort, "Solerovescent," Tom Wolfe has assembled (IMHO) the perfect rhythm section for this particular project: Wolfe (guitars), Tim Goodwin (acoustic bass on all tracks that include horn), Chris Kozak (acoustic bass on all guitar trio songs) & Danny Gottlieb (drums on all tracks). On "Solerovescent," Wolfe's composing & playing both reach a new high & there is not one "filler track," which many CDs (including jazz) do contain. Every song takes the listener to a unique place. Plus, the 10 tracks on this CD are in what seems to be the perfect song order - reminiscent of more of a SUITE than simply a collection of songs. All is very well thought through, mood wise, energy wise & even KEY wise. "Solerovescent" hasn't left my car CD player since I got it a few weeks ago & I cannot see replacing it with any other CDs anytime soon... VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - 5 SOLID STARS!

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MASABUMI KIKUCHI Poesy : The Man Who Keeps Washing His Hands

Album · 1971 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi is one among this country's best known abroad jazzmen. He studied in Berklee in late 60s and on return to Japan played with many American musicians,touring the country.

I've reed in Masabushi's interview with Ethan Iverson (2013)he never liked his Berklee studies (except for Herb Pomeroy)and in his early years was influenced by advanced artists of the time as McCoy Tyner.He met Paul Bley when he played in Japan with Sonny Rollins,and Paul became his next hero.

Later, Masabushi started playing with bassist Gary Peacock (who palyed with Bley and lived in Japan for some years in late 60s-early 70s). Here 0n "Poesy",Peacock plays excellent deep physical bass on three compositions (I believe Peacock's time in Japan was his most inventive and advanced period), but generally this album is Kikuchi duo work with leading Japanese percussionist Masahiko Togashi.

Masahiko Togashi was one of very first Japanese free-jazz drummer in early 60s, but after accident in late 60s he wasn't able to play drums anymore. He switched to percussion and developed very complex and loose own techniques.Here on "Poesy" Masahiko demonstrates it in whole.

"Poesy" isn't characteristic album for Japanese early 70s jazz scene - it isn't loud,noisy,dissonant and quirky. No-one push music to the limit here. Kikuchi is obviously influenced by American jazz tradition, he plays tuneful and even warm piano,but without sentimentalism or catchy appeal of some his later works.He even doesn't scream a lot when playing on Jarrett's manner(he will develop this techniques later, but you still can hear him here as well what shows that he did it originally,with no relation to this Jarrett's manner; Jarrett will become star after few years).

"Poesy" is a great title for this music,just think about Western-Japanese cocktail,mixing European tradition with American freedom and Eastern Buddhist meditativeness.Music sounds well balanced as rarely,being beautiful,adventurous and stimulating at the same time.

Kikuchi will return back to States soon where he will stay for decades till now.He will release many albums developing his own style (some of them are really successful, others-not so much).Gary Peacock will become a real ECM star playing with Jarrett and Paul Motian among others (his Japanese period collaborations stay one of his most interesting works till now). Masahiko Togashi continued to enjoy Japan's cult percussionist status for decades ahead.

This album (with magnificent full title "Poesy:The Man Who Keeps Washing His Hands")was reissued on CD and became easier accessible evidence of great times in jazz.

MILES DAVIS The Musings of Miles (aka The Beginning)

Album · 1955 · Bop
Cover art 3.36 | 2 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
Although I wouldn't call THE MUSINGS OF MILES the most essential of releases by one of the greatest musical entities of the jazz world, namely MILES DAVIS, I really love to dig deep into the vaults to hear the evolution of his music since he was one of the greatest innovators of constantly changing it up from one album to the next. At this point in his career he was not quite as eclectic as he would become a few short years down the road but at this juncture in his still fairly nascent career he still offers some well played bop of the mid-50s which finds him developing his own techniques as well as worshiping his own heroes in the form of Dizzy Gillespie on his version of “A Night In Tunisia” as well as “I See Your Face Before Me” and “A Gal In Calico” by Arthur Schwartz. In fact only the two tracks “I Didn't” and “Green Haze” were written by DAVIS.

This album finds him at the point before he would form his first classic quintet which would be created shortly after the recording of this album and this is one of the few albums where MILES is the only horn player. It is he alone on trumpet delivering the one and only horn section accompanied by Oscar Pettiford on bass, Red Garland on piano and Philly Joe Jones on drums. For this reason MILES stands out more than on his other albums where he usually trades off and weaves the brass sections together. The music here is a mix of mid-tempo bop jazz alternating with slower numbers taking you on a fairly standard jazz ride of the era but with MILES DAVIS even a standard ride has a slight edge to it that keeps my attention. Also this is one of the earliest of recordings that has found a home on a the somewhat recent Rudy Van Gelder Remasters. Although this is hardly the peak of his lengthy and diverse output I still find this a wonderful listen for its stripped down quartet sound that allows MILES to steal the limelight as sole horn master.

GERRY MULLIGAN The Great Gerry Mulligan

Album · 1963 · Cool Jazz
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the 1963 LP, “The Great Gerry Mulligan”, you can‘t find information about it anywhere, meanwhile, there are people on the internet trying to pass it off as a valuable rarity, which is surprising since it came out on the Crown label. Crown was a very cheap budget label that often re-packaged old by-passed recording sessions in flimsy album jackets that were known to fall apart. In true Crown style, the credits on this album jacket itself are a source of wrong information. The cover lists five musician’s names, but there are clearly only four on the record. Apparently tenor saxophonist Bill Robinson appears on the album cover, but is nowhere to be found on the record itself. Also, a ‘’Bob Gibson’, who is supposedly the drummer, does not show on any other jazz records anywhere and was probably a drummer who could not use his real name, either for contractual reasons or just plain shame. Since Crown is apt to use older recording sessions, I searched high and low to see if these musicians had ever worked together on another recording and only came up with a big band date featuring trumpeter Dick Hurwitz with Bill Robinson, but then Bill doesn’t really play on this record so that was no help, ha. The fact that this is not the usual crowd that Mulligan normally worked with just adds to the dubious mystery of this LP.

So what about the music? Things start off strong with the up-tempo bop of opening track “Turnstile”, one of the few songs on the album to feature much in the way of chord changes and arrangement. Mulligan and Hurvitz play with the melody and intertwine like Bird and Diz making you think you have scored a really cool LP. Follow up cut “Side Track” continues in a similar vein, but then comes the downhill slide into mediocrity. The next two cuts are based on children’s folk songs of the variety that were used to force young people to sing in US public schools in the 50s and 60s. The rest of the album is comprised of blues based jams, probably improvised on the spot, as well as one more children’s song. To the musician’s credit, every song on the album is handled with wit and creativity, but the choice of material is of the variety that arises when you are hastily throwing something together. The 'jokey' song titles such as "Shoe Enough" and "Yknuf" only make this more apparent.

Certainly the great Gerry Mulligan has much better records out there than “The Great Gerry Mulligan”, but this LP isn’t that bad either. In a lot of ways this record sounds like an afternoon jam session at a club with the musicians getting a bit silly here and there with the cheezy folk songs, but is this a “valuable rarity”, I wouldn’t think so. I found my copy in a thrift store for a buck, that seems like a reasonable price. On the plus side, for a Crown release, the sound quality is quite good, featuring a very bold upfront analog sound with no gimmicks or additives.

THE WRONG OBJECT Stories from the Shed

Album · 2008 · Classic Fusion
Cover art 3.91 | 2 ratings
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Sean Trane
Third or fourth album (depending whether you consider the Elton Dean session as a TWO album) from this Liège group, still with the same line-up as before, but this time the album was released on the great Moonjune label. Once again guitarist Michel Delville is the main songwriter, though all four other members have at least two credits or co-credits. There is no real explanation for this very forest- infested album title and artwork, and to be honest, the dominance of green on the digipak doesn't match the music, which tends to red hot, even more so than the woman's red hairs ion the artwork.

Opening on a few bars of a Klezmer-Manouche tune (like we've all hear a thousand times before), Sonic Riot veers a tad Gong-esque with an excellent closing passage with spacey electronics and trons. 15/05 is building on that feeling and the electronic gizmos are gaining in importance. As the album progresses with every new rack, one can only be captivated with the typical British jazz and JR/F scene of the 70's. Indeed, the shadows of Elton Dean, then Harry Beckett and Annie Whitehead (all participants to the band's previous efforts) seem to hover all over the album, much to our delight. There is a real tension that gradually builds up through tracks like Sheepwrecked (Crimson circa Lizard meets Wyatt) and following blistering Acquiring The Taste and Lifting Belly, where a Canterburian feel seep through via fuzzed-out instruments. The adventurous explorations continue, from the trashy Matching Mole-ish Malign Siesta to the lava-boiling Waves and the out-of-this-world Saturn. The album ends with a rework of Delville's Unbelievable Truth from the Elton Dean session album of the same name.

If you must own only one album from TWO, it would be a die-hard choice between the Dean collab and this one, but if you're into a more classical progressive, their latest album After The Exhibition, which is some kind of rebirth (given the important line-up changes, we can almost guess the band came close to a term) is also quite an awesome realisation. Personally, Shed is my personal fave from these guys

CHARLIE HADEN The Golden Number

Album · 1977 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art 3.95 | 2 ratings
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Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett's bassist for decades, and one of the last living "jazz golden age" legends, Charlie Haden passed away two weeks ago. Besides countless collaborative works, he left numerous collections of his own albums. For decades, his projects such as the Liberation Music Orchestra or Quartet West were among the most popular on the international jazz scene.

Besides the aforementioned groups, Haden also released a series of duets, which even if they were not so well-known, often contain a lot of interesting material. Haden's first duet sessions took place in early '76, when four compositions were recorded. The first four songs (duets with Keith Jarrett, Paul Motian, Ornette Coleman and Alice Coltrane) were released that same year as "Closeness" on the tiny Horizon Records And Tapes label. A year later, Horizon released the rest of the material (the choice of compositions for the former release is a bit strange since the outtakes, released later, are quite often stronger than what was released first).

So, the album of four "outtakes", each contains a Haden duet with either Don Cherry, Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman or pianist Hampton Haves. What a great time it was, when such compositions were counted as "outtakes", for the coming decades, even leading jazz albums will hardly contain such material!

"The Golden Number" opens with Haden's tuneful composition (all but one song on this album are Haden's, the other one - Coleman's) on which Cherry's trumpet flies over Charlie's almost lazy bass. Cherry's trumpet solo is quite lyrical and with no doubt one of his most beautiful ever played (he plays flute on this song as well).

The second and final composition on side A is a duet with tenor Archie Shepp - and it's a bomb. Twelve minutes long, this song is driven by Shepp's soulful and bopish sax from the very first seconds. In the mid-70s Archie Shepp was in transition leaving his early explosive free sax attacks and searching for new ground. Similarly, with his own albums of that period, he plays something between free-bop and balladry, still quite free though. On this duet, Haden is obviously on back-up, supporting Shepp's speech-like sax soloing.

"Turnaround" is originally an Ornette Coleman composition, but here it is played by Haden and pianist Hampton Hawes. Hampton Hawes is a great pianist, but the more traditional of all the collaborators on this album, so the whole thing sounds really nice, but a bit out of place between the others. Haden demonstrates his hard-bop abilities (Hawes is the obvious leader anyway). After "Golden Number", Haden's next release will be a collection of duets with Hampton Hawes, which sounds better all in one place (probably because the music on this next album is more homogeneous, not contrasting as on here).

The closer is the almost thirteen minutes long title composition, the duet with Ornette Coleman. Surprisingly, it's very tuneful and lyrical, even sentimental, not what you usually can expect from Coleman. Having been collaborators for years, Coleman and Haden demonstrate excellent communication and rare emotional relations, making this song an excellent final for this great (if too short) album.

Charlie Haden's fame comes not from his formidable technique, but from his tunes, collaborations, and the variety of collectives he founded and led, from the emotional atmosphere of his music and his naively optimistic political manifests. "The Golden Number" may not be Haden's best record, but it may be the right candidate to listen to now, just for remembering Charlie, because of its intimate atmosphere and bare-naked simplicity, which is so close to greatness.

All eight duets, recorded in 1976, and released originally on two Horizon vinyls, were later re-released on one CD, which is probably the easiest way to listen to this music.

RAYMOND SCOTT The Music of Raymond Scott: Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights

Boxset / Compilation · 1992 · Exotica
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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RAYMOND SCOTT is known as the man who made cartoons swing and although he is hardly a household name, his music has most likely been heard by everyone in one form or another. This compilation RECKLESS NIGHTS AND TURKISH TWILIGHTS showcases the earliest stage of his career when he lead his band the RAYMOND SCOTT QUINTETTE. It is this period where he composed some of his biggest hits which proved to be big sellers in their time and immortalized forever after he sold his music publishing to Warner Bros in 1943. The music director Carl Stalling would then adapt his music to the extensive Loonie Tunes catalog. Over the years his unique brand of exotic jazz has become a staple for that cartoony feel and his music has found its way into the likes of The Simpsons, Ren And Stimpy, The Oblongs, Batfink and Duckman as well as the never-ending reboots of Looney Tunes cartoons themselves. All the compositions on this compilation were recorded from 1937 to 1940.

RAYMOND SCOTT's intent was to lead his Quintette in order to revitalize the swing in jazz music. He was unorthodox in his approach and irritated many a jazz purist for his disregard of what was thought to be “proper” jazz. His compositions are energetic, busy and complex yet always catchy and although improvisation went into the creation of his music, once finished, the music remained exactly as completed. SCOTT had an affinity for incorporating classical music into his mix as well. No other track is this as obvious as his version of Mozart's “Rondo Alla Turca” which finds itself adapted into a jazz context and titled “In An 18th Century Drawing Room.” Another attribute that set SCOTT apart from most other jazz musicians of the day was the fact that although he was the leader of the band, he rarely took the limelight of performing solos himself and left that to the other members of the band. SCOTT was a pianist and the focus is mostly directed on the brass.

To my ears, RAYMOND SCOTT's music has many diverse influences ranging from the classic dixieland jazz, to the early piano jazz of Art Tatum with other sounds being borrowed from Western classical music, Klezmer and Middle Eastern music. The brilliance is in how well it is woven together seamlessly into a cohesive whole and despite the complexities of the music always comes across as a gleeful sonic stomp throughout imaginary lands which lends itself perfectly to the cartoon world in which it has been used the most. This cartoon swing sound in the RAYMOND SCOTT QUINTETTE would not persist though as in the beginning of the 40s he would take on new projects including collaborating with Les Paul and Mary Ford to record pop songs and would eventually take on the entirely different musical world of electronic music in its infancy.

The true legacy of SCOTT won't be from the scant few recordings that he would release but from the influence he laid down leading to a wealth of samplings, reinterpretations and covers finding its way into the disparate artistic arenas of film, television, theater and countless different musical genres. For example, samples can be found on albums by the trip hop group Gorillaz, the progressive rock band Rush, hip hop acts such as J Dilla, indie rock acts such as TV On The Radio and even in ska by the the band Save Ferris. A truly underrated jazz icon who may not have found the biggest success under his own name but achieved it in a rather strange roundabout under-the-radar way. On this compilation you can hear his own version of his own music as originally released.


Live album · 1967 · Progressive Big Band
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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The lengthy opening cut to this album would make a great subject for one of those blindfold tests. Who are we listening to here … Mingus … Sun Ra? Julius Hemphill or the Art Ensemble of Chicago with a few guests might have been good guesses too, but they weren’t on the scene yet when this album came out. All of those previously mentioned artists would be glad to point out that Duke Ellington was a major influence on them, and on the excursion called “La Plus Belle Africaine” from Ellington’s “Soul Call”, its clear, at least in the case of Mingus and Sun Ra, that influence may have come full circle. The lengthy “Belle African” opens with some jagged African lines on the piano and drums before a massive horn attack announces the main theme, Mingus fans will recognize the base power of this simple line. As this song snakes along with a relaxed and sometimes dissonant African hum, John Lamb plays a dronish solo on the bowed double bass and Harry Carney follows with a bluesy solo on the baritone pushed by extra horn arrangements and more jagged piano from Ellington. When things get a little more quiet again, Jimmy Hamilton enters with a sublime snake-charmer solo on the clarinet that sounds more like Rimsky-Korsakov’s old school exoticism than jazz. Its one more of those odd juxtapositions of the old and the new that make this album unique.

The opener is the highlight, but the rest of the album is no slouch either, and longtime fans may find the band a little easier to recognize now too, ha. Side one closes with “West Indian Pancake”, an up-tempo number with a syncopated Carribean rhythm, and an extended solo for Paul Gonsalves. Side two opens with the high speed bop of “Soul Call”, which is followed by the well known vehicle for drummer Sam Woodyard’s soloing, “Skin Deep”. The album closes with “Jam with Sam”, a fast paced track which allows Duke a chance to announce soloists while they take a quick few bars, its good cheezy fun and played with chaotic abandon by the band. Along with the great music on “Soul Call“, you also get Duke’s discreetly funny ‘charming’ in between song patter that veers between sarcastically suave and borderline self satire. His lines can contain sexual and racial innuendo designed to entertain his band-mates and sail right over the heads of his audience. The crowd noise seems to be a mix of real and canned supplement.

Ellington fans will certainly enjoy this, but particularly those who like some of his more unusual output. Fans of odd albums, such as Sun Ra’s “Angels and Demons at Play”, that mix old and new elements in jazz, might want to give this a shot too. There is also a CD re-issue of this LP available that features many additional tracks.


Album · 1967 · Funk
Cover art 3.50 | 2 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
SLY & THE FAMILY STONE weren't kidding around when they titled their debut album A WHOLE NEW THING which hit the market in 1967. The San Francisco band wasn't only a cutting-edge band musically by fusing soul, funk, rock and psychedelic music, but they were also one of the first successful bands to have a racially mixed lineup that had both girls and boys playing together like good little kids should. Despite all this groundbreaking effort though, the album went virtually unheard by the listening public at large but it was an immediate hit for musicians and those lucky enough to find it on their turntables. A likely story. The material wasn't “commercial” enough and because it was so different and didn't fit in with any radio formats thus receiving no airplay and despite being on a major record label, little was done in terms of promotion. Sly was urged to write more radio friendly tunes and soon after this release of this album, “Dance To The Music” was released which got the band recognized.

Musically this album is far from a throwaway. It shows a promising young act with a whole heap of strong tracks here. Although the songwriting isn't quite as strong as the following two albums for this first phase of S&TFS's career, it certainly has a few winners such as “Underdog,” “Turn Me Loose” and “Run, Run, Run.” In fact most of the album is quite pleasant with the exception of a couple out-of-place mediocre ballads that interfere with the flow. Certainly not the best album the FAMILY came up with but considering how revolutionary this sound was at the time and that there are plenty of interesting tracks to be had, this is required listening in my book.

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