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All Reviews/Ratings

536 reviews/ratings
LOUIS ARMSTRONG - Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five Volume 1 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
DUKE ELLINGTON - Money Jungle Hard 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

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Classic Fusion 75 3.75
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 41 3.94
3 Hard Bop 30 3.95
4 Soul Jazz 29 3.33
5 Post Bop 27 4.28
6 Jazz Related Rock 26 3.79
7 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 25 3.74
8 World Fusion 24 3.67
9 Funk Jazz 23 3.59
10 Jazz Related RnB 22 3.41
11 Big Band 19 4.03
12 Nu Jazz 19 3.34
13 Funk 18 3.92
14 Pop Jazz/Crossover 17 2.53
15 DJ/Electronica Jazz 16 3.28
16 Bop 16 3.94
17 Exotica 14 3.50
18 Third Stream 14 3.86
19 Progressive Big Band 12 3.96
20 Jazz Soundtracks 11 3.55
21 Cool Jazz 10 4.10
22 Dub Fusion 8 3.88
23 Jazz Related Blues 7 3.64
24 Post-Fusion Contemporary 7 3.50
25 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
26 Swing 5 4.00
27 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
28 Jazz Related Improvisation 3 3.50
29 Latin Jazz 3 3.83
30 Vocal Jazz 1 4.50
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

FLETCHER HENDERSON A Study in Frustration

Boxset / Compilation · 1961 · Big Band
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“A Study in Frustration” is an oddly titled four LP collection of the music of Fletcher Henderson put out by Columbia in 1961. It was also re-issued on CD in the 90s. Its an odd title because Henderson is one of the most important and successful figures in jazz. Although his name may not be as well-known as Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong and Charlie Parker, he probably ranks only behind that big three when it comes to his importance in innovations that furthered the development of jazz. The excellent booklet that accompanies this box set spends some time speculating that Henderson could have been more successful with better marketing, hence the rather harsh and undeserved title for this production.

Fletcher Henderson is the big band leader who has been given the most credit for taking jazz from its rough hewn and mostly group improvised New Orleans beginnings, to being a music performed by a big band reading complex written arrangements that featured hot soloists such as Louie Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins. This entire collection spans from 1924 to 1937, but its that period from the 20s to the early 30s that makes up most of this set, and that's the period with the most interesting music as well. Fletcher Henderson was the master of 1920s jazz (also called ‘Classic Jazz‘), a style of jazz that exists in a world all its own, markedly different from the New Orleans jazz that preceded it, and the swing jazz that will follow in the mid-30s. 1920s jazz has a rapid flow in which ideas appear and are quickly discarded, sometimes in almost comical flippancy. The hectic herky-jerky rhythms are very urban in nature and reflect the constant bustle of city life, which was a new environment to many in the US at this time. Many a 1920s jazz arranger, such as the great Don Redman who worked for Henderson in the late 20s, was proud of their ability to experiment in their arrangements, often borrowing the latest harmonic developments coming from the leading concert hall composers of the time. Finally, this was a music for hipsters and wannabe gangsters, modernistic in its appeal, there was nothing sentimental about this music. With its comprehensive 64 tracks, “A Study in Frustration” makes for an excellent way to explore this very vibrant and fast moving period in jazz history.

If this review stopped here you would be correct to think that this is an easy 5 star collection, but there are some problems. At this point I have to credit a certain Steve Espinola who has taken the time to uncover editing problems in this collection. Apparently there are two main mastering sources for these old Henderson tunes. One source of masters is by an engineer for Columbia who decided to edit out any ticks by actually removing that part of the tape, a horrible idea that makes the music spasmodically lurch forward in some places. Some of these edits are more noticeable than others, and several tunes may pass before you notice, but when you do hear it, it sounds like the whole band just had a collective hiccup. This same engineer also tried to remove surface noise with severe eq techniques as well. These, of course, are the masters that were used for “Frustration”, as well as some other Henderson collections. Apparently there are some better masters by a John R. T. Davies, that are used in other collections (such as the Timeless label).

To sum all this up, despite the problems, this is an incredible collection and if you find it on vinyl for a very good price (as I did) then you have a good deal. But, if you are looking at the CD collection, because of the bad mastering, it seems there are probably better CD collections to be had.

CANNONBALL ADDERLEY The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco (aka Spontaneous Combustion)

Live album · 1959 · Hard Bop
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:”The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco” was one of Cannonball’s first albums with his new group, coming after his successful work with Miles Davis, and features some of the best recorded solos of his career. Prior to this recording, Adderley had joined with Miles to record hallmark jazz albums such as “Kind of Blue” and “Something Else”. Needless to say, his career was on fire at this time, and his new quintet did not disappoint with his brother Nat supplying high register trumpet flights and Bobby Timmons pounding out bluesy rhythms on the piano along with Sam Jones on bass and the innovative and under-rated Louis Hayes on drums.

Side one features two lengthy blues based workouts in a hard bop style that borders on soul jazz, pretty much what you could expect from Julian at this point in his career. Side two opens in a similar fashion, but then "you Got It" veers into a slightly more experimental direction foreshadowing some of the things that would soon be coming from Miles’ new quintet, and "Bohemia After Dark" is classic high speed bop. Throughout this entire album, Cannonball’s playing is on fire and features his strong devotion to Charlie Parker, particularly on the two closing cuts. In addition to the Parker influence, Adderley also shows an interest in the new style jazz/blues soloists like Stanley Turrentine. As mentioned earlier, the rest of Julian’s band is stellar, with honorable mention going to drummer Louis Hayes and his work on “You Got It”, a track that features interesting drum breaks that foreshadow much of what Tony Williams would be doing in a few years.

The recording quality of these tracks is quite good, the only slight problem being that the piano could be a bit louder at times, but its no big deal. The CD version has some bonus tracks, but the LP version that was used to write this review has that great unfiltered analog sound. This is highly recommended for fans of the Adderley Brothers and late 50s hard bop.

WILLARD MCDANIEL '88' A La Carte

Album · 1958 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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Willard McDaniel was mostly known as a blues and RnB sideman who played boogie-woogie piano and worked with guys like Roy Milton, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, T Bone Walker and BB King. A highly accomplished pianist, McDaniel was also known to play stride in the style of Fats Waller. Later in his career you might find McDaniel playing background music in lounges and supper clubs around the Los Angelas area, and that is the style of McDaniel’s that you will find on “88 a la Carte”. No doubt McDaniel is a formidable pianist, but this is music meant to soothe and relax, as well as appeal to those who prefer pop to heavy jazz. McDaniel is backed by an un-credited stand up bassist and trap player, but they keep it cool and in the background, this is definitely Willard’s show.

The tunes on here favor well known jazz standards, as well as a few popular tunes of the day and a couple surprises, including “Sugar Blues’, a cut that allows McDaniel to show a little personality. The playing on here is highly skilled with an influence from the ultra-cool lounge stylist George Shearing, as well as some gimmicky crowd pleasing effects along the lines of Roger Williams, Floyd Cramer and Bent Fabric. The quality of the song interpretations vary from the very cheezy “You Always Hurt the One You Love”, to an up-tempo “I’ll Remember April”, that almost sounds like real jazz. “Along the Navaho Trail” also allows Willard to play in his more familiar blues style.

“88” was put out on the ultra budget Crown label, but the recording is fairly good for a label with such a bad reputation. This isn’t great jazz, but it wasn’t meant to be, this is what used to play in hotel lobbies and high end restaurants before the advent of customized muzak stations and personal internet radio. If you have any interest in this rapidly disappearing bit of lounge culture, “88 a la Carte” is a great example of a style that was once very prevalent. You can still find this LP on the internet, in thrift stores or anywhere else the flotsam and jetsam of the LP world goes to make its last stand.

MORAINE Groundswell

Album · 2014 · Jazz Related Rock
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“Groundswell” is the third album for instrumental art rockers Moraine, and it finds them back on a good track again. Moraine’s first album revealed a strong unit aided by two string players which gave them a unique ‘string quartet plus rock band’ type sound. Their second album traded off one of the string players for a saxophone that was run through sound processing that made it sound like a cheap synthesizer. James DeJoi returns on woodwinds for this third album, but thankfully the annoying effects are gone and he sounds like he is playing saxophone and flute, not a portable Casio. Overall, the remaining violin and newcomer saxophone blend is much better now, in fact the whole band has achieved a very congruous orchestral type sound. They definitely make use of all the instrumental colors at their disposal.

Moraine plays instrumental art rock, but not of the overly busy pseudo-complicated variety that can be both annoying and cliché, there is at times a simple directness to Moraine’s music that can recall classic instrumental rock groups such as The Shadows, or some of the more experimental psychedelic surf bands. As for their progressive rock influences, Phil Manzenera’s Quiet Sun is a good reference, as well as Robert Fripp and King Crimson from the late 60s to the early 80s. Sounds from Asia and the Middle East also find their way into the Moraine mix. The compositions and performances on here are quite good, but the recording can be a little murky, sometimes the rhythm section lacks strength. Still, if you are interested in modern instrumental art rock, “Groundswell” is one of the better albums in this genre for 2014.

MARBIN The Third Set

Live album · 2014 · Classic Fusion
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Marbin’s first three studio albums reveled a diverse band that mixed art rock, jazz fusion, blues rock and middle eastern music into interesting CDs that balanced melodic sensitivity with high energy jazzy rock. There was always a feeling that guitarist DanI Rabin wouldn’t mind pushing aside some of the more sensitive material and show the world what he was really capable of on the guitar, and on the new live CD, “Third Set”, that is what we get. Gone are most of the melodic ballads, while the amount of high octane rock fusion numbers increase, the end result; a new guitar hero is born. It always seemed like Dani Rabin had this sort of performance inside him, and on “Third Set” his inner guitar-hero is finally set free. This is jazz rock guitar playing on the rock side of things with a very heavy distorted and saturated sound somewhere in-between Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, Oz Noy and Jimi Hendrix. Sometimes when Dani unleashes a steady stream of notes on the high end of the neck, he almost recalls the late Pete Cosey on Miles’ “Agharta” album. Dani’s strong melodic sense can also recall Mike Stern, another famous Miles sideman.

Although this live CD leans more towards Rabin and the rockier side of things, saxophonist and fellow band co-leader, Danny Markovitch, definitely adds some fire of his own. Danny’s playing on here adjusts to the heavy feel by playing a lot of guitar-like fast repeating riffs, rather than the flowing lines of a jazz approach. His choice of high end saxophone sounds, such as the soprano sax, may seem at odds with the heavy guitar, but he makes it work. Once again the album “Agharta” comes to mind on which saxophonist Sonny Fortune would play rock like riffs on the soprano sax over Miles’ heavy psychedelic band. Not everything on “Third Set” is heavy, on the song “Culture”, Markovitch opens with an unaccompanied solo that shows his interest in middle-eastern music. Also, the tracks “Crystal Bells” and “Northern Odyssey” act as instrumental power ballads among the more high octane numbers.

For those who were hoping that Marbin might head in a more energetic and guitar based direction, your dreams have come true. As far as heavy guitar oriented fusion goes, this is one of the best CDs so far for 2014. DanI Rabin’s solos are fast, extravagant and laser accurate, but more importantly, they are fun to listen to, lots of life affirming good vibes going on here.

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  • Posted 10 hours ago in What Are You Listening To
    Bewildered hippies watch the MC5 "Kick out the Jams".http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo35O1AJOfg
  • Posted 5 days ago in Jack Bruce dead at 71
    Cream Bassist Jack Bruce Dead at 71 By Daniel Kreps1 hour ago.View photoCream Bassist Jack Bruce Dead at 71Jack Bruce, the singer and bassist for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Cream, has passed away, his family confirmed the musician's passing on his Facebook page. He was 71.Fricke's Picks: The Cream of Bruce"It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, granddad, and all round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts," the Bruce family wrote. Bruce's publicist added, "He died today at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family." No other details were revealed but the Press Association reports that the bassist suffered from liver disease.As one-third of one of rock's greatest trios, along with guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker, Bruce was the voice and songwriter behind classic tracks like "White Room," "SWLABR," and "Sunshine of Your Love," which Bruce co-wrote with Clapton. Considered to be the first rock "supergroup," Cream pumped out four studio albums in three years – three of which landed onRolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time – before going their separate ways.The band reunited briefly in 1993 for their Rock Hall induction, then again in for a triumphant series of 2005 concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall and New York's Madison Square Garden. In 2006, Bruce and his Cream mates received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Bruce also occasionally served as a member of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band and collaborated on the title track of Frank Zappa's Apostrophe.Following Cream's breakup in 1968, Bruce kickstarted a long solo career with 1969's Songs of a Tailor. He would release over a dozen solo LPs over the next 45 years, including his latest album titled Silver Rails in March 2014. "I quite like to just enjoy my life. I'm thrilled to make this album. I put my heart and soul into it, and I'm very pleased with the way it came out," Bruce told Rolling Stone of his new album in April.Cream also landed on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Artists, and in an ode to the trio written by Roger Waters, the Pink Floyd bassist writes, "Then there's Jack Bruce — probably the most musically gifted bass player who's ever been."RelatedCream Take New YorkJack Bruce Wants More Cream Reunion GigsQ&A: Ginger Baker on Why 'the Rolling Stones Are Not Good Musicians' snobb2014-10-25 12:59:26
  • Posted 8 days ago in What Are You Listening To
    Thats because its an Alan Douglas production, he tends to leave a trail of dubious confusion. He's responsible for many of the contested post-humous Hendrix 'last albums'. Many speculate that "Marbles" was supposed to be a Hendrix recording set up by Douglas, and McLaughlin was a fill-in for the recently deceased Hendrix. I know that earlier McLaughlin had attended a jam session with Hendrix and Buddy Miles and had dropped in because he wanted to see who was playing those beats he liked, so the Mclaughlin-Buddy Miles connection was already there.

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Warthur wrote:
818 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:
865 days ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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