Steve Wyzard

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

Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

450 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 118 4.19
2 Classic Fusion 85 4.22
3 Post-Fusion Contemporary 81 4.12
4 Hard Bop 51 4.33
5 World Fusion 20 4.20
6 Third Stream 17 4.12
7 Cool Jazz 16 4.22
8 Avant-Garde Jazz 14 3.93
9 Bop 10 4.15
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 Bossa Nova 3 4.17
15 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 3 4.50
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 Related Soundtracks 1 3.50
22 Latin Jazz 1 4.50
23 Exotica 1 5.00

Latest Albums Reviews

BOBBY HUTCHERSON Live at Montreux

Live album · 1974 · Hard Bop
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LIVE MASTERPIECE

It's now been a full year since we lost the late, great Bobby Hutcherson, and for all those who enjoy his acclaimed mid-1960's albums, you really owe it to yourself to track down his 1974 album Live at Montreux. Not only is it Bobby's best release of the 1970's, but it's also one of the best (in a very crowded field) live albums in that decade by ANYBODY.

Recorded at the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival and originally released only in Japan and Europe, this disc restores the full 51-minute set to its fiery glory ("Farallone" did not appear on the LP). No ballads, just two long Hutcherson compositions not available anywhere else, and two of the best by trumpeter Woody Shaw. One awe-inspiring solo follows another, and the crowd's response is electric! Don't let the "no name" rhythm section discourage you: they all keep things moving and acquit themselves admirably, especially drummer Larry Hancock who continuously threatens to steal the show.

Since being restored and reissued in 1994, this album's availability has been "spotty" to say the least. With great recorded sound and phenomenal performances, Live at Montreux should be far better known than it is, especially by Hutcherson and Shaw fans. If you are even mildly familiar with the performers and this one crosses your path, spare no expense!

STAN GETZ Blue Skies

Album · 1995 · Post Bop
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A QUIET MIRACLE

Why did Concord Records wait 13 years to release this magnificent album? Recorded in 1982 at the same sessions that produced the Pure Getz album, Blue Skies did not see release until 1995, four years after Stan's death. The label did an impeccable job with a superlative package, a slipcover, and an endorsement from Stan's son Steve, but the mystery remains as to why it was held back.

Don't for a moment believe this is an "outtakes" album. The six tracks work perfectly together and the four standards all figured prominently in concert performance over the last 10 years of Stan's life. While listening to Blue Skies, adjectives such as light, airy, ruminative, and leisurely may come to mind, but don't dismiss this as an easy-listening, MOR album. Yes, the emphasis is on beautiful ballads, but the uptempo Jim McNeely composition "There We Go" will quickly awaken those who may find themselves "drifting off". Pianist McNeely easily receives just as much soloing space as Stan does, and bassist Marc Johnson makes major contributions throughout, with solos on three tracks. Accusations of austerity are brushed aside with the whimsical take of the title track: the group is clearly having a good time.

Perhaps knowing Stan didn't live to see this album released lends the music a sense of haunted nostalgia. Drummer Billy Hart's brushes are all over these sessions, but that doesn't entirely explain the ethereal, summer-afternoon stillness that's almost palpable. Comparisons with Pure Getz will find Blue Skies more introverted and quieter, yet this album seems far more definitive and intrinsic to Stan's personal style. There are no dirges on Blue Skies, but anyone looking for an aural punch in the gut like Pure Getz's "On the Up and Up" have come to the wrong place.

Posthumous albums still get a bad rap. If the recordings were so good, the skeptic wonders, why weren't they released immediately? There are thousands of reasons/explanations/excuses, and the situations may vary, but when dealing with an iconic yet polarizing figure like Stan Getz, the answers grow even more complicated. Stan recorded so much with a multitude of players in a multitude of locations for a multitude of labels in widely varying genres. To this day he still has a devoted following, but his erratic recorded legacy has not made him hip with the trendsetters and namedroppers. That we still have in print today a quiet masterpiece like Blue Skies (despite its inauspicious start and late release date) is quite simply a minor miracle. Regardless of availability or popularity, this will always be an album to cherish, and one for the ages.

JOHN ABERCROMBIE 39 Steps

Album · 2013 · Post Bop
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SUBTLE, CALM, MEASURED

In a world of perpetual change, it's nice to know there are some things you can continue to count on. Take, for instance, the much-discussed "ECM Records sound": the haunted, melancholy, "wide open spaces" atmosphere that can be heard as far back as its early-1970s releases. If it's beautiful, autumnal, heartland, Sunday-afternoon chamber jazz you're looking for, you've come to the right place with longtime ECM guitarist John Abercrombie's 39 Steps.

Recorded in April 2013 with Marc Copland on piano, Drew Gress on double bass, and Joey Baron on drums, 39 Steps is much more, well, "down to earth" than his last few releases. Albums such as Class Trip, The Third Quartet, Wait Till You See Her, and Within a Song were more on the noir-ish, late-night side of Abercrombie's guitar-playing spectrum, while 39 Steps will prove to be much more compatible with those who enjoy the classic ECM sound. It should be stated from the outset that those looking for more of his fiery 1970s soloing or his 1980s experimental freak-outs may find this album somewhat pale in comparison. Tracks such as "Vertigo", "Bacharach", "Greenstreet", and "As It Stands" are best described as subdued, peaceful, or even relaxing. The compositions are strong, the solos are solid, and interest is always sustained, but this is not music that will disturb your neighbors. Copland's two compositions, "LST" and "Spellbound", are both much busier and simultaneously more mysterious. Long-time Abercrombie listeners are sure to enjoy "Another Ralph's". Quoting directly from "Ralph's Piano Waltz" (which appeared on both 1975's Timeless and 1986's Current Events), this song has Abercrombie out in front rather than just another player in the quartet. While the soloing spotlight is consistently shared amongst all the players, 39 Steps remains unequivocally a John Abercrombie album. "Shadow of a Doubt" is a group improv (another ECM trademark), and "39 Steps" is a mini-epic, appropriately summing up all that's come before. An offbeat, jesting cover of "Melancholy Baby" closes the album, leaving a smile on the face of all but the most determined listeners. And after a not-too-long (59:42) meandering journey, we're right back where we started.

With all the references to past glories, there's no doubt many will consider this a "long-past-his-prime, career-achievement" album. As a 30+ year listener to Abercrombie's fluid fretwork, I can only urge others to give the introspective and atmospheric textures of 39 Steps a real chance. Newbies may not be impressed, but they are gladly referred to the earlier albums (such as the two mentioned above) of one of the greatest jazz guitarists of our time. While 39 Steps may be lacking in intensity, it more than compensates in true artistry, and not just on cloudy Sunday afternoons.

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.

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