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MARCIN WASILEWSKI TRIO Spark Of Life (with Joakim Milder)

Album · 2014 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Matt
The Marcin Wasilewski Trio first came to International recognition in 2002 with the release of Tomasz Stanko’s “Soul Of Things” . They backed Tomasz Stanko on 13 variations of his composition which is no mean feat due to the fact of working just this one tune for the entire album. One could be excused for thinking that things could get a little dull and boring with only working the one piece but not so as every variation was performed beautifully and all had a different perspective. I was not the only Jazz fan that was impressed with the album which garnered impressive reviews and comments. They went on to do the next two albums with Tomasz Stanko being “Suspended Night” and Lontana” and all were recorded on the ECM Jazz label. Between the release of these two albums they released their debut on ECM as their own band simply named “Trio” in 2005 and once again all were highly impressed. After the release of “Trio” although the band treat all equal they decided to use the name, Marcin Wasilewski Trio as the pianist is usually referred to when naming Jazz trios. Albeit, as well Marcin does write the most of their material. Three albums have been recorded since by the band with just the trio present but this time around for the fourth they have decided to have Joakim Milder on tenor saxophone as an addition. Joakim Milder has also played with Tomaz Stanko being included in the line up for “Litania-The Music Of Krzysztof Komeda” which came out back in 1997. Joakim though like all these other musicians mentioned is not Polish but Swedish. Connections between these musicians are everywhere as Tomasz being a friend of the great Krzysztof Komeda ( Rosemary’s Baby Soundtrack plus loads more) has always had a special connection to this man’s music as Marcin’s Trio do, which is how Tomasz Stanko came across them in his native Poland and over a few years prior to their International debut they had been recording albums back in Poland and supporting him on various projects.

The trio still contain the same personnel and comprise Marcin Wasilewski , piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz , double bass player and Michal Miskiewicz, drums for their latest release “Spark Of Life”. Space, time, silence with a touch of minimalism seem to best describe their approach with primarily a gentle laid back approach and every note and chord resounding with a beautiful contemplative clarity. “Austin “ with just the trio present opens the album with Marcin playing this ballad to perfection and The Rhythm section are spot on with the bass from Slawomir and brush work from Michal providing a simply low played beautiful support. You could never accuse Marcin of overplaying as every note that he plays, a simply gorgeous clarity is coming through. Joakim Milder comes in with his tenor for “Sudovian Dance” and similar to Marcin he has that space approach to his technique on tenor saxophone with a slight gradual build up throughout his input into what is another laid back number. The title “Spark Of Life” is given two separate takes on the album being track three and the last with a different approach for each but both are at that contemplative tempo with once again another absolutely beautifully played composition. We also have “Sleep Safe And Warm” the usual Komeda addition and it is another of the albums highlights played to perfection with an outstanding take of the tune containing a wonderful bass solo and piano input from Marcin and the band picks up a little tempo here for this one. Police’s “Message In A Bottle” is also included but for me it is the Marcin Wasilewski compositions including “Three Reflections” with the one Komeda and Herbie Hancock’s “Actual Proof” that are the album’s highlights. There are eleven tracks contained within the album but all but two seem to be heading to a sameness due to the same slow tempo approach. The albums length is just under 74 minutes which I find is for myself is a little too long and a good description maybe a Filet Mignon is just right for a dinner but to have the whole Chateaubriand given to one is just too much.

Superb musicianship from a superb band and saxophonist but just because on cds you can pile more content and it is great to think that bands feel they want to give everybody their money’s worth it sometimes gets a little too much.The album is superbly played and with that usual ECM production,sounds even a little more exquisite and if it had ran no more than 50 minutes I would be hitting repeat on the player but as it is 74, I'm kinda glad it is over.

MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING Blue

Album · 2014 · Cool Jazz
Cover art 2.50 | 1 rating
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js
“Blue” is the latest album by the modern jazz ensemble, Mostly Other People Do the Killing”, and it features a note-for-note exact recreation of Miles Davis’ classic “Kind of Blue” album. As an album to sit and listen to again and again, "Blue" rates anywhere from zero stars to maybe one half, but as a provocative statement about the nature of jazz and its future, its an easy five star concept album. This album reminds me of John Cage’s classic “4:33”, a conceptually challenging piece that was made up of four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence that tried to prod the listener into listening to the sounds around them as if they were music. To some, Cage’s piece may have seemed like a joke, but for others it was a doorway into seeing not only music in an entirely different way, but the world of perception in general. Although MOPDK is remaining mostly silent about the intent of their “Blue” album, I would imagine that much like how John Cage challenged people’s perception of music, MOPDK seems to be challenging people to consider what is jazz.

By definition, jazz is supposed to have two main ingredients; group improvisation and syncopated rhythms, and this is the sort of thing most jazz fans are looking for in this music they choose. Is an album that re-creates a previous improvisation in an exact note-for-note recording actually a jazz record, I’d have to say of course not, and I think many would agree with me, and I think that’s exactly why this album exists. MOPDK is posing an interesting challenge here, how much copying from the past does it take to kill the spirit in the music.

Hard bop is not a revivalist form of music, because it never really went away in the first place. Instead, much like blues, punk rock, bluegrass or even fusion or free jazz, hard bop is just a classic style of music that is here to stay. There should be no shame for hard bopsters playing the music they love for the fans that appreciate it, but when you see modern album covers that try to capture the look of 60s Blue Note covers, skinny black ties and all, you realize there can be a downside to all this. This “Blue” copycat album seems like a wake up call for those who could be lulled into too much imitation.

But there’s more, what about the future of jazz? Could there some day be a club or group that featured replica’s of classic recordings; Mingus’ “Ah-Um”, “In a Silent Way”, or Ornette’s “Free Jazz”?!?! Possibly “Blue” is meant to be a pre-emptive shot to make sure that doesn’t happen in any sort of unconscious fashion. Thanks to MOPDK, the cat is out of the bag on that idea. There are more issues that this album can raise, but at this point its probably best to let the reader reflect upon this odd album and its cannon of clever ironies and draw their own conclusions.

Having covered the philosophical issues, what about the music itself? MOPDK is a very talented group when they play their modern schtick, but their feel for 60s cool swing is a little on the stiff side, I would imagine worrying about getting all those notes right would add to that. The imitations of Miles, Adderly and Evans aren’t too bad, but the Coltrane sound is hard to listen to for long. Overall, when it comes to making a sly provocative statement, this album is a near masterpiece, but when it comes to something to listen to, its worth almost one listen out of curiosity and thats about it. Congratulations to MOPDK, it took a lot of guts to put this out, as well as a good bit of insight too.

Too give you an idea of the slippery slope that this album hints at, for a moment I couldn’t help myself from wondering how “Blue” could have been improved by having Wallace Roney cover Miles, Brad Mehldau for Evans and Kenny Garrett for Coltrane, and thus begins the unconscious slide into jazz hell, a nightclub that functions as a museum of sorts.

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FISHBONE Bonin' In The Boneyard: Set The Booty Up Right

EP · 1990 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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siLLy puPPy
FISHBONE released their third EP - BONIN' IN THE BONEYARD after their full album “Truth And Soul.” In fact the title comes from the track off that album and contains two variations of it. The first is called “New And Improved Bonin” and the second is called “Bonin' In The Jungle.” The style on this album totally neglects any punk and metal leanings from the previous album and instead reverts back to the full jazzy ska sound from their debut EP. This five track EP is chock full of funk more so than any other FISHBONE release. The bass is on fire here and the zaniness and spontaneity have at least come back into play. The best tracks are “Love And Bullshit” and “Hide Behind My Sunglasses” which are fully fueled funkified madness and display a biting sense of humor that the band seemed to have reclaimed. Up to this point they seem to shine more brightly on their Eps than full albums but that was about to change starting the next year. As for this one it is a decent listen but really there's nothing on here that's outstanding. A late addition to my collection but not one I feel I have been deprived of. Good but nothing more.

SOFT MACHINE Third

Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art 4.65 | 48 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
So intent was SOFT MACHINE to evolve at the speed of light into new musical territory that in only a few short years since they founded as a psychedelic pop band and then virtually establishing what would eventually be called the Canterbury Scene in the musical world that by the time they got to their THIRD album so they had practically abandoned all that had come before and dove head first into the world of free jazz and avant-garde psychedelia with only tidbits of rock still to be found throughout this sprawling and ambitious undertaking. Despite the gaudily ugly packaging and the horribly generic album titles, the music is some of the most complex and sophisticated that 1970 had to offer. SOFT MACHINE was simply ahead of the pack by first creating the Canterbury Scene of rock music well before any other takers would continue down that path but they also jumped into the seas of super complex jazz-fusion which can be heard on this bizarre and transitory classic.

THIRD has a much broader spectrum of sound than anything attempted by the band before. Still on board are Robert Wyatt on drums and vocals on the sole vocal track “Moon In June,” Hugh Hopper on bass and Mike Ratledge on various keyboards but we also get Lyn Dobson on sax and flute, Jimmy Hastings (brother of Pye) on flute and bass clarinet, Rab Spall on violin and Nick Evans on trombone. The result of this expanded musical lineup is a big fat jazzy sounding album that is predominantly jazz in nature but has just enough rock and psychedelic influences to keep it firmly in the unusually experimental section on your shelf. The four tracks almost hit the 20 minute mark each but they often seem like they contain several tracks that combine to make a larger track.

“Facelift” is a live recording on the album and it starts out with very trippy sounding intro before getting into jazz-fusion territory. “Slightly All The Time” seems like a pure jazz piece in the beginning but really rocks out at the end. “Moon In June” is the only track to feature vocals and the last one of SOFT MACHINE to ever contain them. I personally think at least one track on an this mostly instrumental album adds a human touch to the bizarre soundscapes created. “Out-Bloody-Rageous” is evenly divided into four parts with the first being psychedelic, the second being jazzy, the third being keyboard oriented and the last part extremely trippy. This is simply a brilliant album from beginning to end but certainly not an easy one to digest. This one requires being well versed in both progressive rock and jazz to really enjoy. It takes many more listens than the average album to fully fall for. I certainly didn't warm up to it at first but eventually after many persistent and attentive attempts it has in the long run paid off handsomely.

I should also mention that is well worth tracking down the 2007 remastered version for not only do you get superb sound quality but a bonus disc from a concert at The Royal Albert Hall for BBC Radio Three in 1970. There are three tracks: “Out-Bloody-Rageous,” “Facelift” and the previously unreleased “Esther's Nose Job.” This is simply one of those albums where words fail to convey the many moods and dynamisms employed in these works. It is a must hear to understand for it is unlike anything that came before and since as far as I am aware. Classic.

BOB BELDEN Various Artists: Miles From India

Album · 2008 · World Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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js
Miles from India” was a fairly ambitious project that sought to re-visit some of Miles Davis’ music, but with more of an accent on the Indian influences that Miles sometimes hinted at. Miles’ relationship with Indian music was often not much more than fashionable 70s exotic tone colors derived from using the tambura and tablas, but on a few cuts from his “Big Fun” and “Get Up With It” albums, there appeared a deeper understanding and appreciation of non-western musical approaches. “Miles from India” contains some decent Indian flavored fusion jams, but unfortunately Bob Beldon and his crew missed an opportunity to expand on some of Miles’ more interesting musical concepts.

“Spanish Key” is a great opener with a lengthy Indian flavored fusion workout that features great solos from an all-star cast of well known Indian and Western musicians, this cut shows off all this album’s strengths. “All Blues” follows, and although they shift the time to a 5/4 feel, its still in swing time and there really isn’t an equivalent to swing time in Indian rhythm. This means the ‘Indian’ flavor is provided via a sitar melody and solo which almost sounds like cheesy Martin Denny styled ‘exotica’. I can appreciate the attempts at creativity here, but possibly swing era jazz and Indian music can only mix on a superficial level. “Ife” returns things to the Indian fusion style, the legendary Pete Cosey turns in a guitar solo, but the once soaring Cosey now supplies only subterranean snarls from an overly processed guitar, possibly that is on purpose.

Hearing the tune from “In a Silent way” played like a classic raga is a real treat, but the following “Its About that Time” seems to forget the delicacy of the original and just lapses into another well played, but not particularly remarkable fusion jam. “Jean Pierre” closes CD 1 with its familiar 80s hip-hop groove, it’s a great song, but except for a virtuoso Indian styled flute solo from Rakesh Chaurasia, this version is not particularly different from the original.

CD 2 opens with “So What” having its swing feel replaced with an Indo-fusion groove that really doesn’t go great with original riff. Once again, trying to mix the older Miles material with the Indian music seems like a clumsy experiment at best. For the rest of CD 2 you get a couple more decent fusion jams, plus an unexpected Indian vocal rendition of “Blue in Green”, also a short and inconsequential track from John McLaughlin and a very disappointing rendition of the classic “Great Expectations”. The original “Expectations” was a masterpiece of time and space distortion on which Miles presented a struggling groove that ground to a halt over and over only to restart, finally blossoming slowly into an Indian flavored electric piano nirvana. This remake seems to ignore all that, blindly rushing through the changes in a hurry to reach a meaningless conclusion. The only plus to this track is hearing Adam Holzman play the original electric piano tracks on acoustic piano, nice work on that re-enactment.

The good points to “Miles from India” are the several Indian influenced fusion tracks, with the bad points being the clumsy attempts to merge with songs from “Kind of Blue”, as well as the missed opportunities to expand on some of Miles’ more interesting experiments. A lot of people have picked up on the fact that Miles played futuristic psychedelic rock during the 70s, and its nice he finally got noticed for that, but there was so much more. Much of what Miles was experimenting with in the 70s was related to his interest in Stockhausen’s attempts to freeze time, and both Miles and Karlheinz were looking to classical music from Asia for inspiration. Its very disappointing that this Indian flavored look at Miles’ past did not seem to recognize this most salient feature of Miles’ music.

CAB CALLOWAY Hi De Hi De Ho

Album · 1960 · Big Band
Cover art 5.00 | 2 ratings
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Matt
It all kicked off for Cab Calloway back in 1931 even though his Orchestra previously known as The Missourians started going in 1930 when Cab took over the reins, it was the release of that all time song which today is still played and listened too by many, being “Minnie The Moocher” . Cab’s Orchestra had been opening for Duke Ellington around the same time as well performing with him in the most famous Jazz Club in history, The Cotton Club. Duke and his Orchestra often toured and had time off which was no problem for Cab as he then headlined at that Club which also broadcast it’s shows over the radio live, so many Americans were exposed to this wonderful style and approach Cab Calloway possessed. He was man of so many talents, not only did he sing, lead the orchestra, he danced like no other except for maybe Bojangles. Cab showed Michael Jackson how to do it with “The Buzz” because Cab was going backwards looooooong before Mike with his “Moonwalk”. Not only that Cab was wonderful on stage and nobody played “Sportin’ Life” from “Porgy and Bess” like Cab, after all having sung “Reefer Man with his Orchestra in the thirties, playing a dope peddler was right up Cab’s alley “so to speak” (the part was written with Cab in mind for the role), which he played on Broadway and toured throughout the time of the production during the fifties.

“The Hi De Ho Man” is another one of those Calloway songs that is instantly recognisable and many a different take Cab recorded with the tune, ( “Hi De Ho Miracle Man, Hi De Ho, Romeo and Juliet, and Hi De Ho Serenade”). “Kickin’ The Gong Around” was another Minnie, “Wah-Dee-Dah” ,” Zah Zuh Zah” were a couple more songs from many and all had one thing in common with the singing, being Scat which derived from Louis Armstrong’s influence. There was a term used by Cab Calloway to describe his music being Jive and there is plenty of that here, with a few ballads thrown in with the release of his 1960 album “Hi De Hi De Ho”. They all said at the time with the album’s reception, ”the originals were better” from his Big Band period in the thirties but once again, time has proven those critics wrong. They should of read from Cab’s “Hepsters Dictionary” which Cab to put together so all could speak or understand Jive talk. Some people are born with a gift commonly called charisma and Cab used this to great effect in all facets of his artistic skills which turned him into one hell of a showman.

The album backed by Cab’s Orchestra comprises many of his most famous song’s and all today are Jazz Standards with two song selections included that are from the Gershwins’ “Porgy And Bess” but it is the title “Hi De Ho Man” which opens the album with scat from beginning to end, delivered with plenty of that Cab gusto and one must realise the song’s opening scat is almost impossible to put in writing. Throughout the album the Orchestra’s backing vocals esp. during these Jive tracks provide a wonderful repetition throughout the Chorus’. “I’ll Be Around” is a beautiful Alec Wilder ballad being sung in a slight formal manner which just seems to make it even sweeter. “Summertime” the old chestnut of a tune from “Porgy and Bess” is given the perfect touch from Cab and although his character did not sing this one in the Production, Cab sure delivers it beautifully. Sportin’ Life (Porgy and Bess, Cab’s character) sings the next of the album’s tracks being “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and with a beautiful low verse and muted trumpet backing, co- joined by a much different raucous take of a chorus and even a bit scat thrown in by Cab for good measure and is another of the album’s delights. “Kickin’ The Gong Around” is the answer for “Minnie The Moocher” . The last track on the record’s first side is an absolutely full swing approach to that old Jazz classic “You Rascal You”. “Minnie The Moocher” opens side two with a wonderful rendition, followed by another beautiful ballad “I See a Million People”. Another all time Jazz classic is next, given a wonderful touch as well being one of Cab’s old hits, “Saint James Infirmary”. Cab had worked with Al Jolson and often when I hear “Stormy Weather” I sense Al’s influence but Cab had that Black American touch bringing a wonderful interpretation to this beautiful Jazz standard and even though it is hard to find an album highlight due to the fact all the songs are within, “Stormy Weather” just seems to always bring me a smile. “The Jumpin’ Jive” finishes up with “The Jim Jim jump is a jumpin’ jive, makes you hip hip on the mellow side, oh hop do do di, etc”

Classic Jazz from one of the original masters. Believe it or not, this is not currently available on cd but the record has been reissued. “Grab one before they all go” No matter how old you are, you will be smiling after.

ARCHIE SHEPP Tray of Silver

Album · 1979 · Hard Bop
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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snobb
Late seventies were the time when world is turned over for all generation of yesterday adventurous jazz stars who became famous in late 60s and continued to enjoy success in early 70s. Musical fashion has been changed dramatically and one morning many of them woke up jobless,sometime even homeless and as rule - useless.Not so many of them survived these and upcoming years successfully, fortunately Archie Shepp did. To pay his bills he just started to record music on request,playing what labels wanted him to be played. During second half of decade Shepp released lot of albums of varied quality and even more varied stylistic, but what helped him to survive that difficult time was good old hard bop (not so obvious choice for Shepp who didn't come to late 60s avant-garde jazz from hard-bop scene, as many others,though).In some European scenes and more important - in Japan hard bop just displaced rapidly disappearing avant-garde jazz for some years, Archie Shepp found his new listener here.

From impressive amount of Shepp releases coming from mentioned era there are some still very adventurous albums,lot of hard bop based music with still his freer touch here and there and few very straight works, "Tray Of Silver" is one of them.

Four quite long compositions, three of which are Horace Silver originals, acoustic boppish quartet with Yusef Lateef and Horace Silver himself drummer Roy Brooks,one-time Art Blakey Jazz Messangers pianist Mickey Tucker,Gil Evans tuba/baritone player Howard Johnson and Japanese bassist (who released album with Herbie Hancock on same Denon label two years ago).Recorded in Tokyo's studio, album has characteristic warm,deep and clear "Japanese" sound. All musicians are high-class so the music is well played but biggest surprise, at least for old Shepp's fans is how safe he plays here. If on many his other hard bop - based albums from the same time he doesn't avoid risky improvisations and even some dissonant,explosive soloing, on "Tray Of Silver" he plays extremely straight,note by note. Fortunately,album is not a collection of late night smokey bar - type nostalgic ballads, there are some mid-tempo quite energetic numbers, and included ballads themselves don't sound too sticky.But being extremely safe,all music becomes quite faceless, just another tunes played by skilled but not very original band.

Hardly an interesting addition for those loving adventurous Shepp, it's still better-than-average hard bop album,not all that inspired, but well played and recorded.

GONG Continental Circus (OST)

Album · 1971 · Jazz Soundtracks
Cover art 2.98 | 4 ratings
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Miler72
I have always felt this album to be seriously underrated. This was a film soundtrack to an Australian motorcycle racer Jack Findlay. So that means it would be very seriously ridiculous to expect Gong to be singing about Pot Head Pixies here and much more sensible to sing about Findlay himself. And that's what you get, you still get that classic Gong sound circa Camembert Electrique. It's still sounds like Gong as you come to know and love. You even get a variant of "Fohat Digs Holes in Space" called "What Do You Want?". This album was apparently recorded before Camembert Electrique, but apparently released after. If the fact the recognizable bass line you hear on "What Do You Want" sounds slower than "Fohat", it's probably because it's an earlier version where Christian Tritsch wasn't fully comfortable playing those bass lines at full speed as you do on "Fohats". I have often ran across albums that don't always receive favorable reviews, and I have a hard time understanding why, and this is one of them. To me, another one to have if you're into Gong!

RED GARLAND At the Prelude

Live album · 1959 · Hard Bop
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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Matt
Granted as one gets older, hence the more music one has heard, especially if like myself you just love to hear some great music every day, it does become harder to find quality reissued albums that one has not heard at some time or another but early this year Jazz Wax records released “Red Garland At The Prelude” and what an absolute joy to hear some beautiful Bop from a trio that sounds as fresh “as a loaf of bread straight out the oven”. Why this Red album, did he not do those ones with Coltrane and other luminaries including Coleman Hawkins for Prestige? Not to mention that Quintet that Miles Davis lead. For myself perhaps it was Red was just in absolute sparkling form on the night with this album’s numbers being the jewels picked from the entire evenings recordings, or was it Rudy Van Gelder doing the actual recording? Another factor could be we do not have the usual Rhythm Section of Paul Chambers and Art Taylor or Philly Jo Jones who appeared on many of his studio Trio Recordings which seems to give this a slight different feel. The added addition of the album being, it is a beautiful Live Recording for that period in time (1959, first for this type of venue) by Rudy Van Gelder.

The Trio or Band comprise Red Garland on piano, who needs no introduction but it is the Rhythm section that is not as well known as Red’s usual above three that was mentioned, being Jimmy Rowser on bass and Specs Wright playing drums. Jimmy Rowser had originally been the house bassist at Philly’s Blue Note from 1954 to 56 and then did an approximate two year stint with Dinah Washington and then another two years with Maynard Ferguson which brings us to this point in time with Red’s trio. Specs Wright on drums had “been around the block” musically to say the least by working with so many other great musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Heath, Howard McGhee, Earl Bostic, Cannonball Adderley and also being a member In Carmen McRae’s trio. Both musicians are a joy to hear with their input throughout the recording.

The sparkle and stride seem to be coming out of Red’s piano and band as soon as the needle hits with the first composition “Let Me See” coming in with a beautiful bounce applied to this Basie, Edison, Hendricks tune. The Rhythm section feature prominently with Red’s piano hitting that stride and with the call and response used by the band throughout the composition’s input even the drum solo keeps us right on bouncing along with this wonderful opening number. “Prelude blues” follows which is one of Red’s own compositions and sure he hits hard with that percussive technique that he played with but this lovely slow Blues is full of a glorious piano technique and if one wants to hear ivories tickled this is right up your alley. One of the two Ellington compositions within the album “Just Squeeze Me” is up next and that sparkling Red piano sound is all around on this mid tempo number. “Cherokee” comes next and it is a bonus track for this reissue followed by Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” with another bonus take of this thrown in to finish the album on the B Side. “Satin Doll” the other Ellington composition is first up on the record’s flip with “Perdido” following with more of that Ellington presence felt and both are played beautifully by the trio. The album’s ballad “There’ll Never Be Another You” is played in a mid tempo range with more of that great timing coming from the Rhythm section with Red’s piano seeming to dance right across them and is just another highlight as the rest of the numbers seem to be contained within this lovely trio recording. “Bye Bye Blackbird” is the original album closer and it sounds wonderful here from the trio with that necessary jaunt within the songs chorus and it is for me a nice stripped take of that version he did with Miles Davis from his “Round Midnight” album.

Red Garland unfortunately has been labelled a cocktail bar pianist but to us fans we know that is from people who have not bothered to take the time and concentration to listen to his many Trio recordings because sure Red had a wonderful hard hitting technique with also having that knack to always keep a string on the tune right throughout, including solos. No wonder Miles wanted him. Very Highly recommended from this old boy. Sure it ain’t Bill Evans but that is what is so nice about the difference.

GIL EVANS Out of the Cool

Album · 1961 · Progressive Big Band
Cover art 4.66 | 6 ratings
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js
After three very successful albums with Miles Davis, Gil Evans set out on his own again and came up with this excellent set of groovy orchestrations called “Out of the Cool”. Unlike many other big band arrangers, Gil Evans does not try to literally blow you away with screaming horn ensemble passages and other sorts of fireworks, instead, subtlety and an almost effortless nonchalance are all a big part of what makes Evans’ music unique and attractive. Evan’s orchestrations sound like no one else, the tendency towards smeared murkiness and weird undercurrents may sometimes recall Ellington or Sun Ra, but other than that, there are not many others to compare against. A few years before "Out of the Cool" came out, the young Quincy Jones had emerged with a new big band sound that was bright, crisp and featured razor sharp ensemble playing, Evan’s more quirky, laid back and personally odd approach made for an interesting contrast to all that.

“Out of the Cool” opens with “La Nevada”, which is basically a long modal jam session on which Evans mostly stays out of the way while the soloists play excellent solos in a very relaxed and personal style that reflects the Evan’s approach. After this lengthy workout, the first side closes with the ballad “Where Flamingos Fly”, which is nicely played by trombonist Jimmy Knepper while Evans constantly shifts the harmonic and rhythmic background in subtle ways. Side two opens with Kurt Weil’s “Bilbao”, on which bassist Ron Carter carries much of the melody while being surrounded by horn dissonances that hang in the air while odd home-made percussion rumbles in the background. This side continues with one of those George Russell experimental numbers that combine modern concert hall structures with walking blues. While the soloists dig into the blues, the rhythm section keeps shifting in and out of double time and sometimes the bass is replaced with a walking trombone. The album closes with an Evan’s original, “Sunken Treasure”, which has Johnny Coles playing a trumpet solo over what sounds like a closing theme from a movie. You could see a piece like this having a big influence on Henry Threadgill.

Gil Evans is a tough artist to write about, its hard to explain why his orchestrations sound like no one else, you’ll just have to listen for yourself. One of the biggest compliments I could pay this album is that this music still sounds very modern today, and will probably continue to sound that way for a long time. Fans of modern orchestration from a jazz viewpoint will definitely want to get this.

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