Steve Wyzard

Steve Wyzard
JMA Jazz Reviewer ·
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 3 days ago

Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

575 reviews/ratings
MIKE MAINIERI - Wanderlust Jazz Related 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 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 Fusion
JOHN ABERCROMBIE - Gateway (with Dave Holland & Jack DeJohnette) Fusion

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Post Bop 157 4.22
2 Fusion 100 4.26
3 Post-Fusion Contemporary 90 4.12
4 Hard Bop 73 4.32
5 World Fusion 27 4.20
6 Avant-Garde Jazz 21 4.00
7 Cool Jazz 19 4.21
8 Third Stream 18 4.14
9 Jazz Related Pop/Art Song/Folk 15 4.00
10 Bop 13 4.19
11 Soul Jazz 7 4.00
12 Vocal Jazz 6 4.58
13 Nu Jazz 4 4.25
14 Swing 4 4.13
15 21st Century Modern 4 4.50
16 Eclectic Fusion 4 4.50
17 Bossa Nova 3 4.17
18 Jazz Related Rock 3 4.33
19 Latin Jazz 2 4.00
20 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 2 4.25
21 Jazz Related RnB 1 4.00
22 Exotica 1 5.00
23 Jazz Related Soundtracks 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

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!

ANDY SUMMERS World Gone Strange

Album · 1991 · Fusion
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STRANGE INDEED!

It is an absolute crying shame that Andy Summers's late 1980s-early 1990s albums on the Private Music label are almost forgotten today. All four, though very different from each other, are exquisitely crafted and have stood the test of time very well. 1991's World Gone Strange, the last of the four, attracted some attention due to its special guests (Tony Levin, bass, Chad Wackerman, drums, Eliane Elias, piano/vocals, Mike Mainieri, marimba/producer), but was his last solo project until 1995's Synaesthesia.

For those who enjoyed the envelope-pushing sounds and atmospheres he added to the pop group that made him world-famous, you'll find plenty of that here. Summers has never been known as a "lead guitarist" per se, but World Gone Strange, more than any of his other work, features extensive amounts of his lucid, fluid soloing. A tangible blues influence makes itself known throughout, above and beyond "The Blues Prior to Richard". This is not just aimless studio noodling: the compositions and arrangements are rock solid, with the title track and "Oudu Kanjaira", with its distinct "eastern" feel, remaining in your head long after the album is over. Three percussionists add extra texture, and wordless vocals appear on a few tracks without becoming a major distraction.

"A little too erratic" and "Too jazz for rock, too rock for jazz" were undoubtably the general reactions to World Gone Strange at the time of release. If you are familiar with Summers's matchless style, there's nothing here that can't be easily assimilated and "figured out". This is not an inaccessible avant-garde work, just a headache for marketers who couldn't deal with a true artist who continued to grow, expand, and progress with each album he released. Highly recommended, even in the 21st century!

GARY BURTON Gary Burton / Chick Corea ‎: Crystal Silence

Album · 1973 · Post Bop
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VISCERAL PASTORALISM?!?

While earlier albums would go on to be highly acclaimed and sought after (such as Keith Jarrett's Facing You and the first Terje Rypdal album), Crystal Silence is the album that brought ECM Records to the attention of a much wider audience, especially in the USA. It was Gary Burton's first album for the label, and in 45 years since has never been out of print. Bringing together a wide variety of moods and atmospheres, the performances are masterly and the album is to this day a very high point in both performers' discographies. There are no classic standards, and surprisingly for a duo setting, all 9 songs have never sounded better, even though most have appeared in vastly different contexts and arrangements elsewhere.

If you enjoy jazz piano and vibraphone, what's not to like about Crystal Silence? Detractors are quick to point to this album as "Exhibit A" of the much-discussed mythological "ECM sound", or to dismiss it as the direct ancestor of Wyndham Hill pastoralism. In reality, Corea and Burton are exerting far too much energy keeping the music moving (in every sense of the term), so any claims of "haunted melancholy" can't really be taken seriously. "Senor Mouse", soporific? "Falling Grace", otherworldly? Yes, there are slower, quieter tunes, but again, this album is the complete package.

As ECM's first legitimate masterpiece, it's hard to imagine today how this album was first received upon release in 1973. Both players' very distinctive styles are immaculately served by the recording. I'll close by saying that the title track is one of their greatest performances EVER, and that the album cover remains one of ECM's best in a very crowded field.



JOHN ABERCROMBIE Up And Coming

Album · 2017 · Post Bop
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WINTERY

Despite being 12 minutes shorter, if you liked John Abercrombie's 2013 album 39 Steps, you should also enjoy 2017's Up and Coming. It features the same supporting cast (Marc Copland, piano, Drew Gress, double bass, Joey Baron, drums) and occupies a similar subtle, measured sound world. Which is not to say the two albums are carbon copies of each other. The end-of-summer wistfulness of 39 Steps has been replaced by a duskier, even chillier atmosphere on Up and Coming that fits in well with the ECM Records "winter afternoon jazz" mystique.

All the players are in fine form, and everyone receives plenty of solo space. This is definitely a band album, with not any one performer (least of all Abercrombie) dominating the material. Whimsically, Up and Coming opens with its two shortest compositions: a dirge entitled "Joy", and the up-tempo "Flipside" that is over before it starts. Copland's searching, thoughtful playing on "Sunday School" and the stately-yet-sobering "Tears" are true highlights. Gress's rumbling double-bass work and the brushes and cymbals of Baron contribute extensively to the album's hushed, sunset-glow textures. Still, it's Abercrombie's poignant, understated tones that make this album unique, with his soloing on "Silver Circle" and "Jumbles" letting everyone know that he hasn't been relegated to a "supporting player".

Since its release, Up and Coming has taken on an added pathos after proving to be Abercrombie's final album with his passing in August 2017. There are no foreboding glimpses into the abyss, nor is this a "grand summation"/"career retrospective" album. Comparisons to recordings from decades past are rather pointless, as Up and Coming looks neither backward nor forward. It's simply four marvelously talented players doing what they do best, saying everything they have to say in 47:16. In spite of its ironic title, this is a worthy addition to the discographies of all the performers, and like 95% of everything Abercrombie ever released, will stand the test of time and repeated listening. Special mention must be made of Sheilah Rechtschaffer's remarkable cover pastel, which (like many ECM covers) visually captures and encapsulates the music contained within.

JOACHIM KÜHN Situations

Album · 1988 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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NOT FOR MASSAGE THERAPY

For those of you who weren't there, the late 1980s were a very unique time in the history of jazz. Suddenly the music was acceptably hip, and was seen and heard everywhere, all with the media's full support and approval. It was what some have called the "Armani Suits/Skinny Ties" era of jazz, and many peripheral figures briefly found themselves in the spotlight for 15 minutes of fame. Such was the case for Joachim Kuhn when he released this album in early 1988.

Kuhn, best known in Europe, had been recording since the mid-1960s and was even a semi-prominent figure in the mid-1970s fusion scene. By the time Situations was released, he had already recorded a number of solo piano and piano trio albums, most of which had hideous cover art and were only sporadically available to his small-but-devoted following. When George Winston albums started going multi-platinum, Atlantic Records gave this album a major push before (naturally) dropping and forgetting all about him after the moment had passed.

So why are we discussing Situations today? Because it's a masterful solo piano album that truly transcends its release date. Don't for a moment think this is background music for candlelit dinners. The virtuosic "Delicate Pain" begins with startling vigor and passes through many tempo changes before returning to the original passionate fire it opened with. The impressionistic "Lunch in the Rain" betrays Kuhn's classical background, moving from a stately opening, through reflective moods, before reaching a crystalline peak. The best known song on this album, "Hauswomen Song" originally appeared on a compilation entitled Piano One, released on the Private Music label in late 1985. This longer version is one of Kuhn's most memorable compositions ever, brimful of hummable melodies. "Sensitive Detail" is a leisurely intermezzo before an indefinite conclusion, and the album closes with the dark-yet-warm beauty of "Refuge". Yet it's the first track, the exploratory "Situation", that most effectively captures the contemplative mood of its time.

The uncreditted package design (and the late 1980s zeitgeist) probably led many people to unfairly file this album under the dreaded moniker of "New Age". Situations far surpasses the music usually associated with that unfortunate label, and should interest far more than just Joachim Kuhn listeners. For jazz solo piano fans, this one is truly worth any efforts expended toward tracking it down. While so many contemporaries were going electric or exploring "World Music", Situations should be remembered as one of the defining statements of its era.

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