Steve Wyzard

Steve Wyzard
JMA Jazz Reviewer ·
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 1 day ago

Favorite Jazz Artists

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420 reviews/ratings
MIKE MAINIERI - Wanderlust Pop Jazz/Crossover
MILES DAVIS - In a Silent Way Classic Fusion
RALPH TOWNER - Matchbook (with Gary Burton) Post-Fusion Contemporary | review permalink
GARY BURTON - Crystal Silence (with Chick Corea) Post Bop
JAN GARBAREK - Witchi-Tai-To Post Bop
SONNY ROLLINS - East Broadway Run Down Avant-Garde Jazz
JEAN-LUC PONTY - Enigmatic Ocean Classic Fusion
JEAN-LUC PONTY - Open Mind Classic Fusion
BOBBY HUTCHERSON - Happenings Hard Bop
FREDDIE HUBBARD - Straight Life Post Bop
MILT JACKSON - Sunflower Bop
MILT JACKSON - Olinga Bop
EBERHARD WEBER - Yellow Fields Post Bop
DOUBLE IMAGE - Dawn Post-Fusion Contemporary
GARY BURTON - Passengers (with Eberhard Weber) Hard Bop
CHARLIE HADEN - Magico (with Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti) World Fusion
CHET BAKER - Peace Cool Jazz
MIKE NOCK - Ondas Post-Fusion Contemporary
HERBIE HANCOCK - Quartet Post Bop
JOHN ABERCROMBIE - Timeless Classic Fusion

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Post Bop 101 4.19
2 Classic Fusion 85 4.22
3 Post-Fusion Contemporary 75 4.17
4 Hard Bop 50 4.34
5 Cool Jazz 17 4.29
6 Third Stream 16 4.19
7 World Fusion 15 4.27
8 Avant-Garde Jazz 14 3.93
9 Bop 8 4.13
10 Pop Jazz/Crossover 7 4.29
11 Soul Jazz 5 4.10
12 Swing 4 4.13
13 Nu Jazz 4 4.38
14 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 4 4.13
15 Bossa Nova 3 4.17
16 Vocal Jazz 3 4.50
17 21st Century Modern 2 4.50
18 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 2 4.25
19 Jazz Related RnB 1 4.00
20 Jazz Related Rock 1 5.00
21 Jazz Soundtracks 1 3.50
22 Latin Jazz 1 4.50
23 Exotica 1 5.00

Latest Albums Reviews

TONY WILLIAMS The New Tony Williams Lifetime ‎: Believe It

Album · 1975 · Classic Fusion
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ONE OF THE GREATS!

When the great fusion albums (such as In a Silent Way and Enigmatic Ocean) are being discussed, Tony Williams' Believe It outright demands to be mentioned with them. This might come as a surprise to some, as there are some caveats that should be addressed:

1) Its length. The original LP ran a little over 33 minutes. Later CD re-issues have added extra tracks that don't really add to the album's greatness. Don't think of Believe It as "short", think of it as "succinct" and "visceral".

2) Electric bassist Tony Newton. With a soul/r'n'b background, he's not the first person you'd think of when you imagine who should play bass on a "fusion masterpiece". He acquits himself quite admirably with this line-up, and adds effects to his two compositions that, while hip for 1975, do not ruin the album.

3) Too rock/too jazz. On Believe It, guitarist Allan Holdsworth and keyboardist Alan Pasqua give two of their best performances EVER in their long and checkered careers. If you're a fan of these two, you will LOVE this album. Holdsworth's snarly, distorted tones, however, have alienated many, leading to the "too rock for jazz, too jazz for rock" dismissal he is all-too-often tagged with.

4) The follow-up. This line-up recorded just one other album, Million Dollar Legs. With a hideous cover, vocals, strings, and horns, it is in EVERY way inferior to Believe It and led Holdsworth to bolt for Bill Bruford's new group.

If you can overlook the above and have acquired the taste for classic fusion, Believe It will become a (ahem) LIFETIME listening experience. While very much of its age, this fiery recording session has transcended its contemporaries and will never grow old. There are no weak moments, and the songs and amazing solos are all out of this world. And needless to say, Tony drums up a storm. While he put out many albums and sat in on many sessions, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more dynamic Williams performance recorded after this one. And let it be said here that "Fred" is one of Holdsworth's greatest moments ever!

ART LANDE Skylight

Album · 1981 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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ECM PASTORALISM

Until recent times, this was a very hard album to locate, especially in the USA - in fact, to this day, I've never seen an LP copy. Now that it's more readily available, listeners will be greatly rewarded by this one-off trio featuring Paul McCandless (Oregon) on woodwinds, Dave Samuels (Spyro Gyra/Double Image) on vibraphone and marimba, and Art Lande (Jan Garbarek/Gary Peacock/Rubisa Patrol) on piano and percussion. While no one player receives top billing, it is McCandless who dominates this material, pushing his many instruments to the absolute limit. And when I say "pastoralism", don't think "quiet and sleepy", rather "wide open spaces" or "resonant pictorial landscapes" more accurately describe the atmospheres contained within.

McCandless alternates his instruments on each track to create a wide variety of tones and timbres. The opening title track is a showpiece for soprano sax, with Lande providing Chick Corea-ish background colors. The hypnotic "Dance of the Silver Skeezix" is a quirky scherzo, with McCandless hitting some very shrill high notes on the oboe and Samuels creating kaleidoscopic textures on the marimba. "Duck in a Colorful Blanket (For Here)" is the obligatory free improv with McCandless on bass clarinet and Lande on cymbals. "Chillum" is a slow, drifting impressionistic piece for soprano sax, while the meandering "Moist Windows/Lawn Party" includes an English horn solo. The experimental "Ente (To Go)" is a duet for percussion and wood flute, and the closing "Willow" begins with piercing soprano sax only to resolve into something much dreamier.

As with many ECM recordings, some will say the music is "too classical" to be jazz, and "too jazzy" to be classical. My best recommendation would be if you enjoy the music of Lande, Samuels, and McCandless in other contexts, you should find much to appreciate here. And while it would be a stretch to consider Skylight an all-time classic, it remains to this day a thought-provoking exercise in musical pastoralism. Had it been more widely released, it might have found itself on many "Album of the Year, 1981" lists.

JACK DEJOHNETTE In Movement

Album · 2016 · Post Bop
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SCINTILLATINGLY TIMELESS!

I'm making the assumption that everyone reading this review will KNOW who I'm talking about when I refer to the fathers of Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison. As a longtime DeJohnette listener, I found it VERY compelling that he would elect to record an ECM album with the sons of two legends he had performed with oh-so-long ago. Allow me to say with all the enthusiasm I can muster that while risks have been taken, the results can only be described as an album for the ages.

How can such a claim be justified with mere words? Here's a rundown of each player's performance:

Matthew Garrison: I start with Matthew because he offers this album's biggest surprises. Unlike his father, he plays the electric bass and adds "electronics" to a majority of the eight tracks. For those hoping for a good old-fashioned blowing session, you've come to the wrong place. Yes, the players' pedigrees would lead one to assume this will be a nostalgic look backward, but it just plain is not. Garrison adds spikey yet swirling textures to the title track after opening with an electric solo, and a pulsing, thudding bassline to the spooky "Two Jimmys". He rumbles on "Serpentine Fire" and broods behind the wistfully fluttering "Lydia". The album would most likely have ended up radically different (read: far less modern) without his significant contributions.

Ravi Coltrane: For as long as he lives, Ravi will be a source of amazement for having the utter boldness to play the same instrument as his father. And naturally, for as long as he lives, the two will be compared and contrasted. On In Movement, he plays the tenor on only two tracks (a mournful take of his father's composition "Alabama" and "Two Jimmys"), and soprano on the rest. While the screaming, squeaking tones heard on the title track and "Serpentine Fire" will elicit a smile of recognition, Ravi's playing is unquestionably influenced by his father without being too derivative. Some will no doubt point to his performance on "Rashied" and insist he's trying just a little too hard to recapture his father's snarly, volcanic tone, but Ravi is truly his own man. In Movement is simply not a pale reflection of past glories.

Jack DeJohnette: For someone who has been playing professionally for over 50 years, this album's drumming is downright phenomenal! Listen especially to the scintillating, intricate cymbals on "Alabama" and "Two Jimmys", and the stomping bass drum and imposing snare on "Serpentine Fire". Forget about the idea of taking it easy before sailing off into the sunset: the man has lost none of his ability, and is "all over the place" without ever dominating the material. If you want to be reminded of his fiery playing from the mid-1970s (on albums such as Gateway and Timeless), listen to his intro on "Rashied". There will be grumbling about the two tracks he leads from the piano rather than the drums (a free take of "Blue in Green", and the lightly airy-yet-still-haunting "Soulful Ballad"), but these two offer a reflective change-of-pace, and a nice contrast to the rest of the album.

Because of the players involved, In Movement will certainly be listened to and discussed for some time to come. Let me just restate that this is an amazing album, and an immediate candidate for all "best of" lists. Fans of DeJohnette, Coltrane, and Garrison will be coming back to this one again and again, long after the inevitable media hoopla has died down. Packaging and recording are (as always for ECM) immaculate. And for the cynics who say this is the closest ECM will ever come to releasing a Coltrane album, can I just say, "Thank God!"

JOE HENDERSON Barcelona

Live album · 1979 · Post Bop
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If you're a Joe Henderson fan, his 1980 (re-released twice since) trio album Barcelona can be recommended but with one caveat. Let it be known this album is nothing like the string of tribute albums he released in the 1990's that resurrected his career. While casual listeners might immediately dismiss it as avant-garde, Barcelona is actually an improvisatory, exploratory statement that might best be described as THORNY. Simultaneously, it is also an experiment in minimalism (just sax/bass/drums), yet one that will repay repeated listening, especially for those who are already familiar with Joe's style.

The 28-minute title track is divided into two parts (to accommodate its original pressing on vinyl) and was recorded at Wichita State University in 1977. It opens with a long, occasionally abrasive duet between Henderson and bassist Wayne Darling, who arco playing summons a Vitous-like fury. Drummer Ed Soph soon joins in, and this sprawling track moves through a variety of moods, including a very rhythmic section at the 13-minute mark. Part 2 is fast and ferocious, and includes Soph's solo. The audience seems mesmerized until the very end, and occasionally Joe will stray from his mike, but otherwise the sound is good for a not-very-high-profile live recording.

The album's other two tracks, "Mediterranean Sun" and "Y Yo La Quiero" both run about five minutes each, and are much more accessible. Recorded in a German studio in 1978, these showcase Joe at his minimalistic best: no drums, just Joe's wonderful soloing backed by Darling's bass.

Once again, this album is definitely not for first-timers, nor is it background music. The extended title track may be rough going at first, but speaking for Joe's fans we can be thankful these dates were saved for posterity. Free? No, it might set you back a bit (especially if you're looking for the original cover with Gaudi's architecture), but well worth the time and effort spent tracking it down. Every time I listen to this album, I like it more.

FREDDIE HUBBARD Outpost (aka Freddie Hubbard -Amiga Jazz)

Album · 1981 · Post Bop
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As most Freddie Hubbard fans know, his discography can be divided into two distinct categories: 1) his highly acclaimed pre-1975 recordings, and 2) his far-less-acclaimed post-1975 recordings. What happened in 1975? He signed on with Columbia and released a string of albums that can best be described as soul/funk/disco rather than jazz (and I'm attempting to be diplomatic here). Visit any good used record store and you will find truckloads of these albums carefully filed behind Freddie's name.

Then suddenly, in 1981, he released Outpost, his only album on the Enja label. This recording harks back to his classic sound, almost as if those Columbia albums had never happened. With Kenny Barron on piano, Buster Williams on bass, Al Foster on drums, and a very ECM-ish cover, Freddie declares in no uncertain terms that he is back (even if he never really left).

Outpost opens with "Santa Anna Winds", a brooding yet turbulent Hubbard composition with an exploratory center section that highlights his fiery trumpet tone. The flugelhorn ballad "You don't know what love is" will not make anybody forget his performance of "Here's That Rainy Day" (from 1970's Straight Life) but is still far above the crowd. The straight ahead "Outpost Blues" features Freddie at his swinging best. The uptempo "Dual Force" gives composer Buster Williams a chance to shine on the bass. Eric Dolphy's "Loss" closes the album with Freddie putting his own virtuosic stamp on some challenging material.

And now for the disclaimers: 1) the credits on this album clearly read "Freddie Hubbard: trumpet", but the man is very obviously playing the flugelhorn on both "You don't know what love is" and "Dual Force". 2) piano master Kenny Barron gives a fabulous performance throughout this album, but is sadly buried far too low in the mix. At the same time, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Al Foster are almost too loud, and many times are drowning out Barron's piano work (credit: producer Horst Weber, engineer David Baker). If you can overlook these faults, you should have no problem enjoying this album. With a back-catalog like Freddie's, it's easy to condemn with faint praise, but I can definitely recommend this album even if it's not one of his Blue Note/Atlantic/CTI classics.

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