Steve Wyzard

Steve Wyzard
JMA Jazz Reviewer ·
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 5 days ago

Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

641 reviews/ratings
MIKE MAINIERI - Wanderlust Pop/Art Song/Folk
MILES DAVIS - In a Silent Way Fusion
RALPH TOWNER - Matchbook (with Gary Burton) Post-Fusion Contemporary | review permalink
JAN GARBAREK - Witchi-Tai-To Post Bop
SONNY ROLLINS - East Broadway Run Down Avant-Garde Jazz
JEAN-LUC PONTY - Enigmatic Ocean Fusion
JEAN-LUC PONTY - Open Mind Fusion
BOBBY HUTCHERSON - Happenings Hard Bop
FREDDIE HUBBARD - Straight Life Post Bop
MILT JACKSON - Sunflower Fusion
MILT JACKSON - Olinga Bop
EBERHARD WEBER - Yellow Fields Post Bop
DOUBLE IMAGE - Dawn Post-Fusion Contemporary
GARY BURTON - Passengers (with Eberhard Weber) Hard Bop
CHET BAKER - Peace Cool Jazz
MIKE NOCK - Ondas Post-Fusion Contemporary
HERBIE HANCOCK - Quartet Post Bop
JOHN ABERCROMBIE - Timeless Fusion
JOHN ABERCROMBIE - Gateway (with Dave Holland & Jack DeJohnette) Fusion
MARC JOHNSON - Second Sight Post Bop

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Post Bop 170 4.25
2 Fusion 104 4.27
3 Post-Fusion Contemporary 98 4.13
4 Hard Bop 95 4.29
5 World Fusion 26 4.17
6 Cool Jazz 24 4.21
7 Avant-Garde Jazz 23 3.93
8 Bop 18 4.11
9 Third Stream 18 4.14
10 Pop/Art Song/Folk 15 4.00
11 Soul Jazz 9 4.06
12 Vocal Jazz 8 4.56
13 Swing 5 4.10
14 Nu Jazz 4 4.25
15 Jazz Related Rock 4 4.25
16 21st Century Modern 4 4.38
17 Eclectic Fusion 4 4.50
18 Bossa Nova 3 4.17
19 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 3 3.83
20 Latin Jazz 2 3.75
21 Jazz Related Soundtracks 1 3.50
22 RnB 1 4.00
23 Exotica 1 5.00
24 Funk Jazz 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

CHARLIE HADEN Magico (with Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti)

Album · 1980 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SOUND...

Whenever anyone brings up the much-discussed subject of the "ECM Sound", the first album I think of is Magico by Egberto Gismonti (guitars/piano), Jan Garbarek (saxophones), and Charlie Haden (bass). This is one of those unlikely "all-star" aggregations ECM Records specialized in during the late 1970s (see also: Abercrombie/Holland/DeJohnette and Rypdal/Vitous/DeJohnette). Released in 1980 to minor acclaim, this album today is seen as a forerunner to what we now refer to as "World Fusion".

Most listeners bring pre-conceptions to a recording like this, so let's deal with them right away. The lack of a drummer/percussionist does not make this a "quiet album", especially with Garbarek's piercing (no flute) tones sprinkled liberally throughout. A close listen also reveals this is not a "loosely structured jam session" as much thought was obviously given to the arrangements and double-tracking (especially Gismonti's intricate solo above his playing on "Magico"). While a previous familiarity with the performers will best prepare one for this aural soundscape, this album remains very accessible and was my first introduction to the music of both Gismonti and Haden over 25 years ago.

So what can one expect? Gismonti is the dominant voice both figuratively and literally: like on most of his recordings, "Bailarina" includes some brief ad-libbed vocals. There are a multitude of versions of Haden's "Silence" on the market, but this album's is the finest: 16 repeated chords on the piano above solos by Garbarek, Haden, Garbarek (again), and Gismonti. Garbarek's "Spor" features some of Haden's darkest arco playing, and Gismonti's "Palhaco" with its gospel-tinged piano is the peaceful closer with its other-worldly, haunted atmosphere.

The masterful performances throughout this album make Magico a true highlight in the voluminous catalogs of all three players. Never before has ECM's original motto "The Most Beautiful Sound Next To Silence" been more appropriate. Let it also be known that this same trio recorded a follow-up album (Folk Songs) 5 months later that is nowhere near as good as Magico. And just what is that artful cover supposed to signify: is it trees behind powerlines, or painted industrial siding super-imposed over trees?

GARY PEACOCK Tales of Another

Album · 1977 · Post Bop
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A CRYING SHAME (LITERALLY)

This is a good Gary Peacock album, but not a great album generally speaking. After the opening track, the excellent "Vignette", all of the others are buried beneath Keith Jarrett's moaning and screeching. And I don't mean for short periods or occasional intervals but for LONG stretches of time. Jarrett's vocalizations appear on most of his albums, but this is his only ECM recording I've heard where it becomes a major distraction. Whenever there is any discussion about this album, EVERYBODY mentions the unintentional histrionics, unless they pre-determine to not mention it out of respect for Jarrett.

It's really too bad that Gary Peacock's performances and compositions are not given their due, because with exception of the experimental "Tone Field", this would be a great jazz piano trio album. Peacock's playing on "Trilogy II" is especially outstanding. Jack DeJohnette plays with his usual brilliance, although from time to time he seems perplexed by the discordant directions the material sometimes takes. The group's headlong rush to the finish of "Trilogy III" is a true highlight on an album that doesn't provide as many as the all-star line-up might promise. This trio would go on to perform mostly standards for 30+ years, so to hear them play newly-composed material is greatly appreciated. Be forewarned about Jarrett's singing, however.

WAYNE SHORTER The Collector (aka Etcetera)

Album · 1979 · Post Bop
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WAYNE: THE GREAT ONE

So what's the best Wayne Shorter album? While many would opt for Night Dreamer, The All-Seeing Eye, or Adam's Apple, let it be said here that in spite of its complicated release history, Et Cetera is his crowning achievement as a leader in the studio. Recorded on June 14, 1965, four of the five tracks (all except "Toy Tune") were released with "The Collector" (an outtake from Adam's Apple) in Japan only. The full album was finally given a wide release as part of Blue Note's "LT" series in 1980.

As of this writing (2019), all four performers are still with us today: Wayne on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, Cecil McBee on bass, and Joe Chambers on drums. The low-key opener, "Etcetera" (6:20) is an ever-opening flower, both hypnotizing and unforgettable as it gradually unfolds. I have no idea if this was ever performed live, but it would have made a phenomenal solo trade-off number on stage. One of Shorter's most beautiful ballads, "Penelope" (6:44), comes next, with Wayne's tone and Herbie's solo being especially poignant. The light and breezy "Toy Tune" (7:22) is followed by Gil Evans's "Barracudas" (11:04). This intense workout gives the group a chance to stretch out, with both Wayne and Herbie having their most awe-inspiring moments on the album. Cecil McBee's bizarre bassline and substantial solo dominate the closing "Indian Song" (11:35). Everyone is at the top of their game throughout, and fans of all four players are urged to seek this one out.

It remains an unfathomable mystery why it took 15 years for this album to be released in USA/Europe. I will even go so far as to say that this is the best release in the famous (or is it infamous?) "LT" series, beating out Larry Young's Mother Ship and Grant Green's Nigeria by a close margin. Don't let Et Cetera's original cover dissuade you: yes, it's a wall of TV's. Huh?

STAN GETZ Sweet Rain

Album · 1967 · Post Bop
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FIRST OF THE REST

Remember the bumper sticker that read "Today is the first day of the rest of your life"? Sweet Rain can be considered the first album of "the rest" of Stan Getz's career. By the time it was released in 1967, Stan had already played with Woody Herman and Johnny Smith, conquered Europe, introduced bossa nova to America, and recorded movie soundtracks, albums with strings, and albums with vocalists. While there had been previous hints of things to come, Sweet Rain would do nothing less than epitomize Stan's "sound" for the rest of his career: smaller ensembles, unassuming formats, and the wistful, ethereal tones that only he could produce.

Three phenomenal players accompany Stan on Sweet Rain: a very young (just short of 26) Chick Corea on piano, Ron Carter (doing some session work in between Miles Smiles and Sorcerer) on bass, and the immaculate Grady Tate on drums. This album features the first appearance of the now-standard Corea composition "Windows", and what a performance it is. No "easy-listening" album this, everyone is given ample soloing space, with Stan soaring above it all. Given his recent bossa nova success, one can't help but wonder if Verve Records "influenced" the inclusion of Jobim's "O Grande Amor" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma". Slight Latin inflections can be detected in the quartet's sound, but this never becomes even close to a bossa nova album. Corea's powerful "Litha" and the dreamy title track complete the set-list. With Creed Taylor and Rudy van Gelder behind the boards, one might expect a CTI Records prototype, but the wonderful performances prove that assumption mistaken (even if it does prove true with Stan's previous album, Voices).

Retro-flashbacks and reunion albums aside, Sweet Rain, over 50 years later still proves to be a definitive recording of the Stan Getz "sound". This American life truly did have a "second act", and it started right here. And though it certainly can't be considered his best album over a very-checkered recording career, it made possible later masterpieces like The Master, Pure Getz, Voyage, and Blue Skies. Sweet Rain is short and (yes) sweet, yet simultaneously unforgettable and all-encompassing. Enjoy!

KENNY WHEELER Double, Double You

Album · 1984 · Post Bop
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MASTERPIECE BLOWING SESSION

Don't expect an impartial review here: my enthusiasm for Double Double You knows no bounds. If I were making an "all-time top 20 jazz albums" list, three would come from the year 1984: Jean-Luc Ponty's Open Mind, Steps Ahead's Modern Times, and this album. Yet it's really Double Double You that has languished in undeserved obscurity for far too long and has only just recently been re-issued so everybody could finally hear it. Not only is this Kenny Wheeler's best album EVER, it's also among the best albums ECM released during the entire decade.

The line-up of musicians alone should tell you this will be a blowing session for the ages: Kenny Wheeler, trumpet & flugelhorn, Mike Brecker, tenor saxophone, John Taylor, piano, Dave Holland, bass, and Jack DeJohnette, drums. Yes, there is absolutely unbridled, ferocious soloing throughout by all the performers, without anyone dominating the proceedings. Some of Kenny Wheeler's recordings can best be described as avant-garde, but Double Double You emphatically leans toward the accessible end of the spectrum.

The unforgettable "Foxy Trot" (14:07) is carried by one of Dave Holland's greatest basslines, and is one of those compositions that everyone should know and cover. There is a brief respite from the intensity with "Ma Bel" (3:50), a duet between Wheeler and Taylor. "W.W." (7:48) is a showcase for the horns, and the side-long suite "Three for D'reen/Blue for Lou/Mark Time" (23:28) goes through a multitude of moods, and gives everyone a chance to stretch out without endless repetitions. And please ignore the famous Leonard Feather review that complained about DeJohnette's extended solo at the end: this is one of Jack's greatest moments EVER.

Let it be said right here that if you are familiar with any of the performers, you simply MUST add this recording to your collection immediately. Thank God this flawless album is now much more widely available, and if you love this art form, you really should give it a listen. Immaculate ECM recording, as always. I have no idea if these five were able to play this material in a live setting, but if they did, I have no doubt those in attendance must have been floored!

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