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Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

673 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
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 Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Nefertiti Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Big Fun Classic Fusion | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Classic Fusion 86 3.72
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 53 3.96
3 Hard Bop 46 3.85
4 Post Bop 35 4.20
5 Soul Jazz 34 3.37
6 Big Band 34 3.84
7 World Fusion 34 3.66
8 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 32 3.77
9 Jazz Related Rock 28 3.77
10 Jazz Related RnB 25 3.44
11 Funk Jazz 24 3.60
12 Bop 22 3.98
13 Nu Jazz 21 3.38
14 Funk 20 3.92
15 Pop Jazz/Crossover 19 2.68
16 Progressive Big Band 18 4.08
17 Exotica 17 3.41
18 DJ/Electronica Jazz 16 3.28
19 Third Stream 15 3.87
20 Cool Jazz 11 3.95
21 Dub Fusion 9 4.00
22 Post-Fusion Contemporary 9 3.50
23 Jazz Soundtracks 9 3.94
24 Latin Jazz 8 3.94
25 Jazz Related Blues 8 3.69
26 Vocal Jazz 8 3.75
27 Swing 7 4.00
28 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 6 3.33
29 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
30 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
31 21st Century Modern 3 4.50
32 Classic (1920s) Jazz 2 4.50
33 Dixieland 1 3.50
34 Afro-Cuban Jazz 1 4.50
35 Bossa Nova 1 3.50
36 Jazz Education 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

JAMEY AEBERSOLD Volume 19 - David Liebman

Album · 1979 · Jazz Education
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Sometime around 1967, saxophonist and jazz educator, Jamey Aebersold, came up with the brilliant idea of putting out records with well known jazz tunes for aspiring musicians to jam along with. These records would only provide the rhythm section, (often played by well known musicians), while the student would play the melody of the tune, and then improvise over the changes. It was like having a night club full of top notch musicians in your home to help you learn how to solo. Early records featured songs and styles by the expected suspects such as bebop with Charlie Parker and hard bop with Miles Davis. By the time the late 70s rolled around, a record featuring Herbie Hancock tunes started getting into more abstract post bop territory with tracks like “Eye of the Hurricane". By the time we get to 1979, there is a bit of a surprise when the slightly lesser known Dave Liebman was given a record that featured his post bop creations, and probably the first play along session featuring a no-chord-progression free jazz workout with the tune “Lookout Farm”.

To the seasoned music student, having a free jazz workout on an educational record almost borders on humorous ironic kitsch. The point of these records was to help aspiring musicians navigate difficult chord progressions, and match the right scale to the right chord. Any student of the genre knows that free blowing is just that, you dig in and play what you feel, no chords or expected scales to worry about, just let it rip. But there it is on track eight, Richard Bierach, Frank Tusa and Al Foster doing their best to keep a free rhythm section interesting without any soloist to follow, and they do a pretty good job of it too. The rest of the record is more what you would expect, some fairly difficult post bop numbers for the young horn player to struggle with.

These educational records also serve another purpose for the home recording enthusiast. Its very easy to take any of these rhythm tracks and orchestrate your own tunes over them, something I did with another Aebersold record while making a requested ‘jazz song’ for a friend of mine’s animation soundtrack.

MUDDY WATERS Electric Mud

Album · 1968 · Jazz Related Blues
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One of the most polarizing blues albums of all time, there is no middle ground when it comes to Muddy Waters’ “Electric Mud”, people either love it or hate it, and either perspective is understandable depending on how you approach it. In 1968, when this album came out, Waters’ album sales were lagging. Meanwhile, artists like Cream and Jimi Hendrix were making big bucks playing music similar to Muddy Waters, only dressed up in the psychedelic garb of the day. Enter some overreaching producers hoping to make Waters more popular with the hippy crowd, and you get this odd album that has Muddy fronting a psychedelic rhythm section borrowed from avant-RnB group, Rotary Connection. With the use of Connection’s musicians, you get one of the best psychedelic guitarists this side of Hendrix himself, Pete Cosey, a man who would eventually go on to join Miles Davis in the mid-70s. Considering Cosey’s presence on here can help determine the best perspective on this album, this may not be Muddy Water’s best vocal performance, but it is a great slice of Cosey’s funky guitar work, a guitarist who was very under-recorded during his often underground career.

The music on here is wild and nasty funk driven blues rock, much more loose than Cream, and more loose than Hendrix’s studio albums too. Think of a cross between early Funkadelic, Sly Stone, Iggy and the Stooges and the MC5 and you might get an idea what this throw together band sounds like. Its no wonder long time Waters fans were turned off when they heard this. The album opens unevenly too, with two funk driven numbers that produce rhythms that are at odds with Muddy’s more blues groove oriented vocals, but after these two missteps, the band and Muddy settle down and start working together better in more of a blues-rock context. The cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Lets Spend the Night Together” is a barely recognizable psychedelic monster with Muddy throwing away any lyrics that don’t fit him. Most of the rest of the cuts on “Electric Mud” work well too, with some exceptions. “Tom Cat” is a good jam, but would have been better without the noodling off key soprano saxophone, and the classic “Mannish Boy” loses some of its primal power to a tempo that is a little too fast.

Apparently Muddy Waters didn't care for this album, which is understandable since it really doesn't sound like its his, but it has been said that Hendrix was enthusiastic about it. It was always obvious that Cosey was influenced by Jimi, but its interesting to find out that the influence went the other way too.

THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues

Album · 2017 · Swing
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The Microscopic Septet is one of those eclectic downtown NYC combos that got their start in the early 80s during the so-called ‘knitting factory scene’. The band disbanded in the late 80s, only to reappear a few decades later for today’s NYC scene that still leans toward eclectic influences and a quirky sense of humor. Microscopic has always favored a swing feel in their music, but not in a nostalgic or museum sense, instead, they often infuse their music with bits of the avant-garde, as well as polkas, tangos, cartoon music, punk rock and whatever else may be laying about. On their latest album, “Been Up So Long it Looks Like Down to Me”, the Septet leans heavily on their swing roots as they present eleven originals, plus two covers, that sound like they could have come from a swing dance club in the 40s. All the same, don’t confuse this album with that whole bothersome ’swing revival’ that came out of San Francisco in the post grunge mid 90s. Microscopic’s music is way more informed about what swing was, and can be in the future, than most of the heavy handed dull trend followers that made up the fortunately short lived ‘revival’.

The basic makeup of the Septet is a four piece saxophone section backed by a three piece rhythm section. Right off the bat this gives the band a sound similar to the Four Brothers, the famous spin off combo from Woody Herman’s big band. Other comparisons to the Microscopic sound could be found in the smaller combos led by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Sun Ra. The fact that most of the members of the Septet are dedicated to this one band gives their horn section a nice cohesion and flow that is often missing from many modern ensembles whose players have to play in many bands just to pay the bills.

There are lots of great cuts on here. “Dark Blue” has a ‘talking’ bari solo that gets into some call and response with the other horns, “PJ in the 60s” opens with a fierce free solo before settling into some excellent Duke flavored riffs, “Migraine Blues’ features some hard driving Count Basie riffs topped by another wild bari solo, and “Quizzical’ has an interesting arrangement that seems to modulate through many keys in a sort of Don Ellis meets Ellington effect. If there is one song that doesn't seem to fit, it would be, "When its Getting Dark", a campy RnB number that sounds similar to the the theme from the old Batman TV show. I guess its only similarity to the other numbers is that, like the rest, it uses blues changes for its chord progression. The song does redeem itself towards the end when it builds up to four saxophones soloing frantically at the same time.

It seems lately that it has become somewhat hip for avant NYC bands to take another look at the possibilities in pre-bop jazz. The result has been some interesting ’hot’ music that gets away from the dry intellectual sound of modern post bop. If this re-examination of early jazz results in imaginative and swinging albums like “Been Up So Long…”, then it can only be a good thing.

RON BOUSTEAD Unlikely Valentine

Album · 2017 · Vocal Jazz
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It would seem that jazz instrumentalists are far more expected to come up with original material than their vocal counterparts. Many new vocal albums will come out this year with the expected collection of well known standards, which isn’t such a bad thing, but it would be nice to hear more original tunes now and again instead of an umpteenth version of “You’ve Changed”, which is why “Unlikely Valentine”, the new CD by Ron Boustead, is such a treat. Of the first five songs on here, four are originals, and on the remaining cuts Boustead presents re-workings of known tunes, plus one more original.

One of the first things you will notice about Boustead is his sharp rapid fire diction. Boustead has a voice that would work great in voice-overs, as a radio DJ, or maybe even as a middle-aged rapper. When Ron wants to, he makes words fly by at a rapid rate like a be-bop saxophonist, but every word is always crystal clear. The next thing you’ll pick up from his originals is that this guy is very witty, with some occasional laugh out loud lyrics, particularly on the satirical “I Won’t Scat”, on which Boustead pokes fun at more indulgent jazz singers. Boustead is proud to point out that the main influence on his vocal style is Mark Murphy, but in his clever lyrics you will hear traces of Mose Allison and Bob Dorough. It comes as no big surprise that Dorough’s, “Love Comes on Stealthy Fingers” closes out this album.

In addition to being a vocalist, Ron is also a sound engineer, which might explain why this CD sounds so crisp, clean and well balanced. Boustead is backed on here by a soulful rhythm section that includes a Hammond B3, plus three horn players which gives the songs a swinging big band flavor. Many singers who are more well known than Boustead will release albums this year, but “Unlikely Valentine” is already one of my top picks for male vocal performance in 2017. Hopefully Ron will be releasing more albums in the future, he is a singer who deserves much wider recognition.

ERROLL GARNER Ready Take One

Album · 2016 · Hard Bop
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When Erroll Garner’s long time agent, Martha Glaser, passed away in 2014, she donated her archive of unreleased Garner recordings to the University of Pittsburg. In 2016, Glaser’s niece, Susan Rosenberg, began to release those recordings to the public, with the first installment being the CD/LP, “Ready Take One”. Its great that Garner is getting a second shot at recognition as his legacy has faded a bit over the years, an undeserved fade at that because one listen to “Ready Take One” will convince any music fan that Garner was a remarkable genius blessed with a technique that is very difficult to imitate.

Erroll came up during the swing/stride era, when pianists were expected to imitate an orchestra with a big full two handed approach, much different from today’s post bop world (with Matthew Shipp and a few others being an exception), where a more minimal and lyrical approach dominates. When bebop came along in the 40s, Garner willingly participated, but always kept his original older style intact. What is interesting about the recordings on “Ready Take One”, all of which were made in the late 60s, is that apparently Garner did take an interest in 60s soul jazz, with many of his originals on here sounding a lot like Les McCann or Gene Harris, but with Erroll’s very personal approach. A lot of fans of jazz piano probably didn’t even know that Garner played in this soul style, which is all part of the revelatory nature of these previously unreleased recordings.

If you are looking for an introduction to Garner’s music, this CD would be a great place to start, with about half of the tunes being classic standards in the older swing style, and the other half being more modern originals in the 60s soul style. Both styles blend well as Garner displays his formidable technique based around his ability to play in one time signature in the left hand, while another in the right. Throughout this album, Garner’s rhythmic sophistication is mind boggling and will have many aspiring pianists thinking they will never achieve these heights. None of this music sounds overly technical though, in his heart Garner was always a bit of a pop musician who loved to entertain with a generous, gregarious attitude often missing from today’s pianists. Another salient feature to Garner’s playing are his solo intros to the tunes that often pull from modern concert hall music. For instance, the opening to “Chase Me’ almost sounds like Schoenberg, while the opening to “Wild Music” may remind some of Rachmaninoff.

All of the cuts on here are outstanding, with some of the best being the almost avant-garde take on “Caravan”, and the sublimely beautiful original bluesy ballad, “Back to You”. It doesn’t hurt that the recoding quality of all these tracks is quite good.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 1 day ago in What are You Listening II
    "Escape Lane"    Marquis Hill and others.https://thebridgesessions.bandcamp.com/album/escape-lane
  • Posted 3 days ago in Dylan to headline Montreal Jazz Festival
    That lineup for the big "jazz festival" doesn't include too many jazz musicians. Montreaux used to be a way for struggling jazz musicians to make a few bucks and get some recognition, now its being given to overfed pop stars. 
  • Posted 3 days ago in Stones Win Album of the Year at U.K's JazzFM Award
    So Craig Taborn or Matthew Shipp or Marie Schneider or Mary Halvorson or "Wadadda" Leo Smith (etc etc etc) didn't put out a better jazz record than the Rolling Stones?!?!? This is pathetic.    Wannabe rock star Donny McCoslin also a winner?  Who votes on this crap, leftovers from a 70s pop fan club? js2017-04-26 05:32:07

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Warthur wrote:
more than 2 years 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:
more than 2 years ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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