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Favorite Jazz Artists

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582 reviews/ratings
LOUIS ARMSTRONG - The Louis Armstrong Story, Volume I: Louis Armstrong And His Hot Five Classic (1920s) Jazz | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Agharta Classic Fusion | review permalink
EARTH WIND & FIRE - Gratitude Jazz Related RnB | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Speak Like a Child Post Bop | review permalink
FRANK ZAPPA - One Size Fits All (as Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention) Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Crossings Classic Fusion | review permalink
PARLIAMENT - Mothership Connection Funk | review permalink
COUNT BASIE - Count Basie and his Orchestra Big Band | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Thrust Funk Jazz | review permalink
SUN RA - Angels and Demons at Play Progressive Big Band | review permalink
SUN RA - Atlantis Avant-Garde Jazz | review permalink
SANTANA - Santana Latin Rock/Soul | review permalink
FUNKADELIC - America Eats Its Young Funk | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Live At The Fillmore East Classic Fusion | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - V.S.O.P. Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Get Up With It Classic Fusion | review permalink
JIMI HENDRIX - Electric Ladyland (Jimi Hendrix Experience) Jazz Related Rock
MILES DAVIS - Miles Smiles Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Nefertiti Post Bop | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Classic Fusion 80 3.73
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 45 3.98
3 Hard Bop 36 3.89
4 Soul Jazz 31 3.35
5 Post Bop 30 4.22
6 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 27 3.72
7 Big Band 26 3.88
8 Jazz Related Rock 26 3.79
9 World Fusion 26 3.63
10 Funk Jazz 23 3.59
11 Jazz Related RnB 23 3.37
12 Nu Jazz 19 3.34
13 Funk 18 3.92
14 Bop 17 3.94
15 Pop Jazz/Crossover 17 2.53
16 Progressive Big Band 16 4.09
17 DJ/Electronica Jazz 16 3.28
18 Third Stream 15 3.87
19 Exotica 14 3.50
20 Cool Jazz 11 3.95
21 Jazz Soundtracks 11 3.55
22 Dub Fusion 9 4.00
23 Post-Fusion Contemporary 8 3.56
24 Jazz Related Blues 7 3.64
25 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
26 Latin Jazz 5 3.90
27 Swing 5 4.00
28 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 4 3.50
29 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
30 Vocal Jazz 3 3.83
31 Afro-Cuban Jazz 1 4.50
32 Dixieland 1 3.50
33 Bossa Nova 1 3.50
34 Classic (1920s) Jazz 1 5.00

Latest Albums Reviews

CHARLES MINGUS Jazz Portraits (aka Wonderland aka Jazz Portraits. Mingus In Wonderland)

Live album · 1959 · Hard Bop
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Charles Mingus had many productive years during the first part of his career, but possibly none as productive as 1959. Three of his most acclaimed studio albums come from that year, and maybe that’s why his one live release, “Jazz Portraits“ (also known as “Mingus in Wonderland”), does not get the attention it deserves. “Portraits” may not seem as ambitious as his studio albums, its not a concept album with a unifying theme and an artsy album cover, instead, its just five guys jamming on four tunes, but what they do with those tunes makes this album one of Mingus’ best live dates ever.

“Portraits” opens with the hard bop groove of a Mingus original titled “Nostalgia in Times Square”. Tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin turns in a hot solo, as well as altoist John Handy, and Mingus closes out the solo section with a lengthy exchange between himself and the always inventive percussionist, Dannie Richmond. A cover of “I Can’t Get Started” follows, which Handy covers mostly by himself. Handy’s playing on this one is incredible as he draws on Charlie Parker and hints at the playing Eric Dolphy will soon bring to the band. Handy’s treatment of “Smoke” is sometimes lyrical and passionate, while other times he turns the tune inside out. Its a textbook example of what an inventive artist can do with a well written melody. Mingus also turns in a nice solo on this one.

Third track, “No Private Income Blues”, is a hot jam session that closes with the two saxophonists in an intense battle that merges into a double solo. Their heated exchange and outside lines mirror similar developments from Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra. The album closes with “Alice’s Wonderland”, an excellent Mingus ballad that seems to slightly mirror “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Handy turns in another great solo, as does Mingus too. If you are used to ignoring bass solos, Mingus’ playing on here will change that. He handles the bass like its a small acoustic guitar, playing quick nimble lines with perfect intonation, no doubt Mingus was raising the bar for the bassists in jazz for good.

This album is what so much great jazz is all about, five guys standing on their own without any gimmicks, or the safety net of the studio, and showing how they can transform four tunes into streetwise tone poems. It also helps that the recording quality on “Jazz Portraits” is excellent, every instrument is very clear and well balanced. Mingus’ bass sounds like its right there in the room with you.

TED HOWE Pinnacle

Album · 2015 · Progressive Big Band
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A well known jazz publication with a highly regarded reputation ran an unfairly short review on Ted Howe’s “Pinnacle”, in which the writer expressed his dismay over Howe’s classically oriented song titles, and made very little mention of the music itself. We expect better of our jazzy journalistic institutions, as it never hurts to listen to the music first before setting off to criticize. Had our writer of said review given this CD some more time, he would have found that although these titles sport lofty terms such as adagio, etude, suite, impromptu and other terms usually associated with ‘long hairs”, the music on here is pure jazz, and not the least bit stuffy or over arranged. As the song titles imply, Howe’s music does have a 3rd stream influence, but not much more influence than many other sophisticated modern big band arrangers, and the third stream element is just part of what Howe works with as he also draws from the history of post bop, artsy pop jazz and even Duke Ellington influenced swing.

“Pinnacle” opens strong with the odd metered pop influenced melodies of “Presto for Two Trombones”. If you are thinking odd-metered rhythms plus art pop tunes equals Don Ellis in the 70s, you couldn’t be more on target as those who may miss Ellis’ unique big band vision will definitely hear something familiar in “Pinnacle”. Throughout this CD, the make or break for Howe is how strong his melodic material is per track. In this respect, Howe’s strongest writing comes out on the opener, and “Movement 2” of the “Suite for Jazz Orchestra”. Most of the other tracks are good with the impressionistic “Adagio for Piano” showing off Howe’s considerable chops on the piano, and “Jazz Etude for Three Clarinets” featuring some uptempo jaggedy neo be bop. Probably the only weak track would be “Movement One” of the Suite, on which an unpleasant distorted guitar with intonation problems keeps announcing a rather dull melody.

As mentioned earlier, the mix of 3rd stream and art pop on “Pinnacle” may remind some of Don Ellis, other references could include Don Sebesky, early Bob James, or any of those early orchestrated CTI albums. Howe likes to cite Herb Pomeroy and Duke Ellington as influences. Ted shows a lot of potential on “Pinnacle”, and his work could rival Ellis and the others if his band can start delivering performances that are a little more dynamic and a little less pensive. This issue with dynamics could be related to allotted rehearsal time and studio production as well. All the same, if you have an interest in the current big band scene, “Pinnacle” is worth checking out.

CHARLES MINGUS Eight Classic Albums

Boxset / Compilation · 2010 · Post Bop
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These Real Gone label compilations are very low priced and come in low budget no frills packaging, but despite their cheap appearance, they can contain some great music. I am familiar with two of their compilations, the Quincy Jones one, which is a thorough, expertly arranged collection of Jones’ early big band music, and this one for Charles Mingus, which is not as well considered as the Jones collection, but it is still not bad either. Basically “Charles Mingus Eight Classic Albums” is a look at the early part of Mingus’ career, and it contains some real gems, but there are also some disappointing omissions as well.

As the collection title suggests, you do get eight Mingus albums on here. Two, “The Clown” and “Pithecanthropus Erectus”, are easily available well known classics, and probably already owned by most Mingus fans. The other six are a little more obscure. Two of the albums are from a live concert that was poorly recorded, and features a band that pits Mal Waldron’s outside leaning piano work with a more straight ahead horn section. Its an interesting concert, but probably only interesting to Mingus fans. Three of the albums contain creative high quality hard/post bop and are often overlooked in the Mingus discog, but possibly the most interesting obscurity on here is “Jazzical Moods Part One”, recorded in the very early part of his career when Mingus was more of a 3rd stream composer, and a very good one at that.

You do get some interesting albums on here that are not all that common, but there are some problems. It was great they included “Jazzical Moods Part 1”, but it would have been even better if they had included “Part 2” as well. Also, when arranging the eight albums on to four CDs, they didn’t put the two halves of the same live concert on the same CD! Finally, there are other early Mingus albums they could have put on here in place of the two that are easily available. Still, if you are looking for a way to check out the early part of Charles Mingus’ career, this collection provides a very affordable way to do that.

DIZZY GILLESPIE At Newport

Live album · 1957 · Big Band
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The original “Dizzy Gillespie at Newport” is an excellent CD, but its no match for the 50th anniversary re-issue. The 50th Anniversary edition of “Dizzy Gillespie at Newport” is another one of those CD re-issues that adds enough new material to make it a significant improvement over the original. The original version of “At Newport” did not include the songs that Gillespie’s band performed with Mary Lou Williams that day, those songs instead showed up on a split EP with Count Basie. The 50th Anniversary edition brings all the songs together and you can now hear the entire show, although the songs are not in the right order as they happened that day. Having said that, this review will deal only with the original CD, which is good enough in its own right.

“Dizzy at Newport” contains some of the hottest playing you will ever hear from Dizzy and his band, or anyone else for that matter. Unlike the swing based bands of Ellington, Basie and others, Dizzy’s band was the be-bop big band; their tempos were fast, their unison lines a blur of speed and their solos displayed a new formidable modern technique. The opening tune, “Dizzy’s Blues”, busts out of the gate with Dizzy leading the charge with an incredible fiery hot solo relentlessly pushing the beat forward. Wynton Kelly’s jagged piano backup adds to the beautiful chaos. Dizzy tended to gear his shows towards the general public, not just die hard jazz fans, so there is always an upbeat easy going crowd pleasing nature to his shows, along with a good dose of humor. Whether or not Gillespie’s humor gets to be too silly or over done sometimes is a matter of taste.

After the fierce opener, follow up tune, “School Days”, is provided as a sure crowd pleaser with Dizzy doing silly school boy raps over a jump blues/rock-n-roll beat. “Manteca” is intense Latin Jazz and “Cool Breeze” brings back the fast energy of the opener. In between those two you get a beautifully orchestrated version of “I Remember Clifford”. For a live big band recording in the late 50s, the sound quality on here is not too bad, but not remarkably good either.

As mentioned earlier, the salient features of these six tracks are pure energy and instrumental fire, few performers can take a tune to the next level the way Dizzy can with a solo. This original album is good enough, but if you can get the 50th anniversary re-issue, go for it. The extra cuts with Mary Lou Williams show a whole different side of the band as they tackle William’s ambitious 3rd stream “Zodiac Suite".

HENRY THREADGILL Henry Threadgill's Zooid ‎: In For A Penny, In For A Pound

Album · 2015 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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Music history will probably very kind to Henry Threadgill, its hard to think of many other jazz artists who have maintained such a high quality of output in a career that extends all the way back to the 70s. Many fads and trends have come and gone and Threadgill seems untouched by any of them, instead, his music always looks forward, while being remarkably imbedded with all the great music that came before him. Henry’s music may capture the crest of the current avant-garde, yet you will hear elements that may recall the earliest days of New Orleans bands and on to anything else that happened between now and then. In recent years, Threadgill has been composing for his Zooid quintet, an ensemble that reflects the current jazz scene’s interest in composition and 3rd stream type projects, but again, Henry’s approach on his recent “In for a Penny, In for a Pound”, sounds like no one else.

Some music is more difficult to describe than others, and “In for a Penny, In for a Pound” is easily one of the more difficult. Much of this music is composed, but a lot of it is improvised as well. It appears that Threadgill offers his musicians choices (such as note selection) and they take it from there. The resultant music is somewhat similar to 60s indeterminate chamber pieces by composers like Pierre Boulez and Elliot Carter, in which they tried to mimic the random changes of the mobile in visual art. Much like those earlier pieces, “In for a Penny” maintains a sort of static movement that is devoid of dramatic highs or lows. This is contrapuntal music, with each instrument chattering away, playing their lines in equal volume, except for frequent sections where one instrument rises above the mix for a solo of sorts. The fact that Threadgill is using a mix of brass, woodwind, bowed and plucked strings and percussion gives the instrumental texture that dry pointillist sound reminiscent of that golden age of avant-garde chamber music. Every single note and melodic line from every instrument comes through clearly.

Although there is a strong parallel to indeterminate concert hall music on “In for a Penny”, this is still a jazz record and it often hit’s a weird broken groove that sort of swings in a very modern and abstract way. With all the little interlocking phrases coming and going from the instruments, sometimes this music recalls Ornette Coleman, particularly his later albums such as “Tone Dialing”. Much like Coleman’s music, “In for a Penny” is not so much atonal, as it deals more with tonality that is in constant flux. When it comes to shifting from one tonal area to the next, it appears Threadgill has developed some formidable compositional techniques.

“In for a Penny, In for a Pound” is one of the more interesting records, in any genre, to come out in a while. You can spin this a hundred times and you will still get a fresh listening experience every time. Although this is definitely a jazz record, it would be interesting to give this piece a chance to appear on a program of contemporary concert hall music, it would probably hold up very well against the others.

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Warthur wrote:
1088 days ago
Hey dude,

You've banned me from the forums but I can still access the review submission system and site interactions.

If that is intentional then fair enough but if not I thought it'd only be honest to give you a heads up.

Warthur wrote:
1135 days ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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