Atavachron

David
JMA Collaborator · Jazz Reviewer
Registered 1396 days ago · Last visit 21 days ago

Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

14 reviews/ratings
HERBIE HANCOCK - Crossings Classic Fusion | review permalink
ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - I. O. U. Classic Fusion | review permalink
BILL BRUFORD - One Of A Kind Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
QUIET SUN - Mainstream Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
NIACIN - Organik Classic Fusion | review permalink
TONY WILLIAMS - Emergency! (2LP) Classic Fusion | review permalink
JIMI HENDRIX - Band of Gypsys Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
STÉPHANE GRAPPELLI - Jazz in Paris: Improvisations Swing | review permalink
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA - Apocalypse Classic Fusion | review permalink
JOHN ABERCROMBIE - Gateway 2 (with Dave Holland & Jack DeJohnette) Classic Fusion | review permalink
OSCAR PETERSON - Tristeza on Piano Bop | review permalink
ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - Road Games Classic Fusion | review permalink
AL DI MEOLA - Scenario Classic Fusion | review permalink
ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - Sand Classic Fusion | review permalink

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Classic Fusion 9 4.11
2 Jazz Related Rock 3 4.67
3 Swing 1 4.50
4 Bop 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

OSCAR PETERSON Tristeza on Piano

Album · 1970 · Bop
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It is no surprise that some in the jazz intelligentsia consider this period to be Oscar Peterson's best. Though debatable, I can't find flaw with that assessment. The fact that Peterson was in his mid forties only supports this notion, as more evidence indicates the creative and intellectual sweet spot for the brain occurs in midlife.

Tristeza ("sadness") is essentially Brazilian blues and describes the melancholy but life-loving culture of Brazil where there may be little relief from life's difficulties but still much joy and revelry, even in the poorest favelas. Accordingly, this record not only reflects that as only Peterson could, but is a rich and shining display of where his style had led him. This trio's feet hit the ground running for the title, bossa nova on high with O.P.'s fluidity and signature glissandos filling the space, followed well by Peterson-penned 'Nightingale' as a cool samba. A sweet re-imagining of Gershwin's 'Porgy' with a little Georgia on the mind, some gentle bossa nova for 'Triste', mid-bop of 'You Stepped Out of a Dream' with Sam Jones' bass walking overtime, romantic 'Watch What Happens' and the bright & brilliant wanderings of 'Fly Me to the Moon' spotlighting Peterson's taste for Tyner as well as Monk.

Good stuff, well worth your money, and not a bad starter for this Canuck legend.

STÉPHANE GRAPPELLI Jazz in Paris: Improvisations

Album · 1958 · Swing
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Jazz is the bleu cheese of popular music. It's robust, complex, sophisticated, and, as any good cheese, often smells like a dead man's feet. When you're talking jazz violin, the line between sweet & sour is thin; no frets or classical positions to rely on and four delicate strings so responsive and elastic it's a miracle a few straight notes are ever voiced. Plus you're improvising. It's like dancing in a swamp, and you better be damn good.

And Stéphane Grappelli was all kinds of good. More importantly, he was brave, and understood not just trad jazz but the art of spontaneity. He'd learned it the hard way busking in France, swinging and bopping his way to the top, paying his dues, and becoming one of the finest stringmen in the world. Some think of Grappelli as "gypsy music", though he is nothing of the sort. This is one of his earliest records proper as a solo artist (a sort of comeback for him after a dry spell) backed-up by the smokin' trio of piano great Mo Vander, double-bassist Pierre Michelot, and Baptiste Reilles' skins. The 1956 issue consists largely of standards, and Sinatra never did 'Lady is a Tramp' like this.

As a young jazz listener, I wasn't much partial to standards. I found them, well, boring. But here the beauty and possibilities of a quality tune is abundantly clear, the opportunity to to alter, even destroy and rebuild a good ditty, never more glorious. Grappelli's bluenotes curl around melodies and pull them into malleable phrases of giddy delight and musical wonder, as on 'Fascinatin Rhythm' with its sudden modulations and stuttering pace. Contemplative and slightly sad 'Dans la Vie', lively 'Cheek to Cheek', tightly-swung 'Taking a Chance on Love' with Grappelli all over the neck and Mo Vander starting to come out.

For '56 this is a lovely recording, levels for 'S'Wonderful' spot-on and Baptiste Reilles showing why he was considered the best brusher in the business. More Gershwin Bros. with 'Someone to Watch Over Me' sporting a misplaced harpsichord, bright-eyed and bushytailed 'If I Had You', sublime ruminations of 'Body and Soul' and frantic whirling of 'I Want to be Happy' where these boys just let it go. Utterly heartsick 'Shes Funny That Way' takes us along with two lovers walking & shopping in Paris, and 'Time After Time' allows us to peek into their intimacy later that night.

The historic session wraps with a hot-bop treatment of Cole Porter's 'Just One of Those Things' and a few alternate takes. If you're ready for Grappelli and what is possible from a good jazz violinist, he's ready for you and always will be-- hanging in time, waiting patiently for you to discover his elegant magic.

JIMI HENDRIX Band of Gypsys

Live album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
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It was an increasingly difficult time to be a musician. The last performance of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in June of 1969 was marred by tear gas and rioting, and led to the group's dissolution. Jimi found himself with little support at a time when the pitfalls of success were starting to eat at him. Bad business arrangements, poor management, thievery, harassment and legal problems, the most innovative musician of his generation found himself abandoned by almost everyone at a time when he should have been reaping his well-earned rewards. And in order to settle a disastrous contractual obligation, he had to deliver a new album of original material.

But after securing the help of friend and drummer Buddy Miles and old army pal Billy Cox on bass, Hendrix was ready to reemerge as both rock deity and blues legend, and it resulted in one of the finest live recordings in music history. It is the only full live LP released during Jimi's lifetime and the last album before his death in the fall of 1970. After a ten-day rehearsal, the trio played four shows in NYC over two days on the cusp of 1969/70 produced by Hendrix. The fellas waste no time and roll into 'Who Knows', a mid-tempo shuffle that showcases Jimi's gifts; the riffing, phrasing, fills, perfect tone and surprisingly perfect intonation, spewing blues fire through his Marshall cab, his wah functioning well and employing a new filter that mimics a steeldrum. Hendrix's production is beautifully clean-- Cox round, warm and heavy, Miles crisp, all mixed just the right way. Legendary 'Machine Gun' raises things to a higher level, the poignancy of the times it reflects not lost and Jimi's electrifying use of his ax as a musical weapon splaying open those troubled days with the abandon of a true artist, his guitar howling into this New Years night bravely leading his ragtag following into the jaws of death and love all at once. He played his amplifiers as much as his guitars, using them as instruments and that is no better heard here, outdoing even his famous Woodstock performance and miming the firing of an automatic rifle at the crowd. This is Hendrix the player, and it's where he shone most brightly. The chaos that was Hendrix's reality is also mirrored in these shows and seemed to come exploding out during this 2-night event [the rest of the material available as Hendrix Live at the Fillmore East]-- all the frustration, disillusionment, treachery and strangeness blown back out to the world. And no one could do that better than him. 'Changes' is an upbeat and melodic Buddy Miles tune and 'Power of Soul' is bright and brilliant, a free-flying dance of sheer energy and heavy blues joy. Hendrix signature piece 'Message to Love' is always a pleasure and another Miles cut finishes with some R'nB.

A clean and pure expression of why James Marshall Hendrix was what he was to so many, this is an unimprovable document and his finest moment as instrumentalist.

TONY WILLIAMS Emergency! (2LP)

Album · 1969 · Classic Fusion
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When we are witness to a new kind of art, it should be noted. And though the first glimpses of an unproven form are sometimes raw, the impact is usually undeniable. This is the case with 'Emergency!'. Sometimes ugly but always real, this little record is very likely the first true and fully blended mix of modern jazz with electric rock in all its manic glory. There had been hints at it, experiments and false starts that often lacked total vision, like Cannonball Adderly's use of pop stylings in jazz. As well, Miles Davis is most often credited with being the 'father' of jazz-rock but on closer inspection, Davis is, at best, its grandfather whose 'In a Silent Way' (1969) was more a flirtation between styles than an infusion of musics. There were superior and better-realized fusion projects to come, such as John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu and the later symphonic aspirations of Chick Corea and Al Di Meola. But in hindsight, this rough, tainted and trance-induced set, deeply intuitive on a level not before heard, is the first recording of jazz artists doing what the heavy blues and psych scenes had been doing for years. And while there had been those who progressed jazz itself, such as Jimmy Giuffre, Dave Brubeck or Gunther Schuller, no one had brought together the hot bop of Coltrane with the howling rock spirit of Jimi Hendrix in the same room at the same time. Finally... Fusion with a capital 'F' had arrived, kicking and screaming but alive and well.

This session, not to be confused with Williams' first album as leader in 1964 titled 'Lifetime', had all the makings for explosive creativity and boundary- wrecking; John McLaughlin's guitar sounding more urgent and other-worldly than ever, Larry Young's irrepressible organ, and Williams' ridiculously confident charge on drums. If one didn't know better, the nine-minute title cut could just be the sound of another crazy jazz band bopping their way into the 1970's with drug-induced abandon. But the unmistakable sounds of riff rock can be heard fighting to break on through, Larry Young's insistent organ- grind, McLaughlin's lead, and the whole thing coming alive with Williams' crashes and acrobatic backbeat. Some acid mud follows, as well as passages of sheer spontaneity. 'Beyond Games' is hideous and nervous freeform featuring Williams' bizarre vocals and the 12-minute 'Where' is a troubled dervish of a jam, dizzying and sweaty with odd rhythms, sudden changes of mood and semi-classical lines running between guitar and organ. But it's the fourth, 'Vashkar', where we begin to hear the first clearly-cut form of jazz rock with all of its facets, finally gelling in the way we would become familiar with in later years showing intelligent melodics, tight dynamics, and plenty of fire. 'Via the Spectrum Road' is the requisite weird pop-psych tune, but luckily the firecracking jam 'Spectrum' wakes things up again with pure hot jazz and wild soloing from everyone. It would be the highlight of the set if not for the 13- minute 'Sangria For Three', a beautifully messy explosion of jazz rock at its most pure. 'Something Special' finishes with unsettled dissonance and closes out a musical statement so bold and irreverent that it was, in the truest sense, revolutionary. A mad experiment gone out of control and one of the most important records you will ever hear.

BILL BRUFORD One Of A Kind

Album · 1979 · Jazz Related Rock
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Cold, indulgent, mechanical, the worst of rock and jazz pushed together with no thought to the proprieties of either form, all these things could be attributed to Bill Bruford's second solo record. But that's exactly where its strengths rest. Who says music has to be full of heart and soul? Almost everyone, I suppose. But therein lies the beauty of this follow-up and why it was one of the best fusion offerings of its day.

Tony Williams and John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu had both given us jazzrock's raging heart, RTF and Colosseum I & II raised the ante and gave us heavy symphonic fusion, but Bill Bruford's band, made up of four of the finest musicians in the world - maybe *the* finest - was an animal less attached to the grimey floor of "Fusion", wanting instead to to live the life robotic, to revel in technical accomplishment not just on their instruments but also in the feel and delivery of the music. There is also a great deal of fun heard here and a sense these four absolutely loved playing together.

Mechanical as it may be, this is an inspired set. I mean, Dave Stewart, Jeff Berlin, Allan Holdsworth and Bill Bruford... c'mon, it doesn't get much better. The assemblyline sounds of Stewart's synth pushes off 'Hells Bells' establishing a crisp sound and some hip phrasing from his Rhodes piano and faux vibes for parts One & Two supports the title. Holdsworth, being the hard-rocker with a John Coltrane heart he is, gives his best. Jeff Berlin is his flawless and uncanny self and Bill holds it all together, in command but not overshadowing. 'Travels With Myself and Someone Else' is pleasant enough middle-of-the-road electric jazz and is followed by the clean machinations of 'Fainting in Coils', a stunner with a funeral-organ midsection and crack playing by everyone. Despite Berlin's wan gonking, 'Five G' is a successful rocker, 'The Abingdon Chasp' is reasonable, 'Forever Until Sunday' grows into sleek sci-fi rock with a spastic solo from Allan. And both parts of 'Sahara of Snow' are ingenious rhythmic play, an appropriate finish to a spectacular set.

It was projects like this (among other things) that caused Bruford's departure from two of Prog Rock's cornerstone bands, and it was well worth it. A triumph, and probably his finest hour as leader.

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