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519 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 74 3.78
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 39 3.94
3 Hard Bop 30 3.92
4 Post Bop 26 4.29
5 Soul Jazz 26 3.31
6 Jazz Related Rock 25 3.80
7 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 25 3.74
8 World Fusion 24 3.67
9 Funk Jazz 23 3.59
10 Jazz Related RnB 21 3.43
11 Nu Jazz 19 3.34
12 Funk 18 3.92
13 Big Band 17 4.12
14 Bop 16 3.94
15 DJ/Electronica Jazz 16 3.28
16 Pop Jazz/Crossover 16 2.50
17 Third Stream 14 3.86
18 Exotica 12 3.54
19 Jazz Soundtracks 11 3.55
20 Progressive Big Band 11 3.91
21 Cool Jazz 9 4.22
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 Latin Jazz 3 3.83
28 Jazz Related Improvisation 3 3.50
29 Acid Jazz 3 3.33
30 Afro-Cuban Jazz 1 4.50
31 Dixieland 1 3.50
32 Bossa Nova 1 3.50
33 Classic (1920s) Jazz 1 5.00
34 Vocal Jazz 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews


Live album · 1967 · Progressive Big Band
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The lengthy opening cut to this album would make a great subject for one of those blindfold tests. Who are we listening to here … Mingus … Sun Ra? Julius Hemphill or the Art Ensemble of Chicago with a few guests might have been good guesses too, but they weren’t on the scene yet when this album came out. All of those previously mentioned artists would be glad to point out that Duke Ellington was a major influence on them, and on the excursion called “La Plus Belle Africaine” from Ellington’s “Soul Call”, its clear, at least in the case of Mingus and Sun Ra, that influence may have come full circle. The lengthy “Belle African” opens with some jagged African lines on the piano and drums before a massive horn attack announces the main theme, Mingus fans will recognize the base power of this simple line. As this song snakes along with a relaxed and sometimes dissonant African hum, John Lamb plays a dronish solo on the bowed double bass and Harry Carney follows with a bluesy solo on the baritone pushed by extra horn arrangements and more jagged piano from Ellington. When things get a little more quiet again, Jimmy Hamilton enters with a sublime snake-charmer solo on the clarinet that sounds more like Rimsky-Korsakov’s old school exoticism than jazz. Its one more of those odd juxtapositions of the old and the new that make this album unique.

The opener is the highlight, but the rest of the album is no slouch either, and longtime fans may find the band a little easier to recognize now too, ha. Side one closes with “West Indian Pancake”, an up-tempo number with a syncopated Carribean rhythm, and an extended solo for Paul Gonsalves. Side two opens with the high speed bop of “Soul Call”, which is followed by the well known vehicle for drummer Sam Woodyard’s soloing, “Skin Deep”. The album closes with “Jam with Sam”, a fast paced track which allows Duke a chance to announce soloists while they take a quick few bars, its good cheezy fun and played with chaotic abandon by the band. Along with the great music on “Soul Call“, you also get Duke’s discreetly funny ‘charming’ in between song patter that veers between sarcastically suave and borderline self satire. His lines can contain sexual and racial innuendo designed to entertain his band-mates and sail right over the heads of his audience. The crowd noise seems to be a mix of real and canned supplement.

Ellington fans will certainly enjoy this, but particularly those who like some of his more unusual output. Fans of odd albums, such as Sun Ra’s “Angels and Demons at Play”, that mix old and new elements in jazz, might want to give this a shot too. There is also a CD re-issue of this LP available that features many additional tracks.


Album · 2013 · Post Bop
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I saw a recent critic’s poll in a major jazz magazine that had listed Craig Taborn as today’s top pianist. That is really saying a lot considering how many incredibly gifted pianists there are these days. I’m not sure if Taborn is the best, he certainly ranks near the top, but he may very well be the most original. Its hard to come up with a truly new approach to jazz piano, so much has already been covered by others, but on “Chants”, Taborn shows he is definitely taking some paths less chosen.

Like so many other modern pianists, there is a background in Bill Evans’ extended harmonies and Keith Jarret’s strong right hand melodic-ism in Taborn’s playing, but then there is so much that belongs only to him. On the first two tracks, Craig reveals one of his major techniques which involves repeating ostinato figures that twist and intertwine somewhat like a minimalist composer’s piece, but Taborn makes it just rhythmic enough that somehow it fit’s a post bop jazz rhythm section. At this point it should be pointed out that drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Thomas Morgan do a great job of interacting with Taborn’s unique vision and act as mediums to bridge Taborn’s ideas to the rest of today’s post bop musical language. Both of these tracks also feature freer sections where Taborn drops the obstinate patterns and plays in an intense style somewhat similar to some of Herbie Hancock’s more aggressive outside playing.

On the third track, “In Chant” , we find another Tabornism, quiet tense space that lets time float with a sense of impending consequence. Track four opens with more interlocking rhythms, this time with a distinctly African complexity. Later tracks like “All True Night/Future Perfect” and “Silver Ghosts” reveal one more Taborn technique, the building of massive note clusters that slowly descend like a glacier. These sections can recall sound oriented composers such as Ligeti or Penderecki.

Well I’ve done my best to describe what is almost impossible to describe. Like a lot of modern jazz musicians, there is at first what seems to be an almost formal approach to this music, but as you listen further, jazz’s African roots are definitely intact and Taborn can be quite funky in his own abstract sophisticated way.

COLEMAN HAWKINS At Ease With Coleman Hawkins

Album · 1960 · Swing
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Mood music was a phenomena that arose in the 50s with the arrival of the long playing album and was designed to provide a ‘relaxing atmosphere’ for people during times of leisure. Often these albums consisted of rather faceless orchestras playing classic ballads in a rather bland and unobtrusive manner, but a not uncommon alternative to the generic orchestra would involve having a well known jazz musician play the ballads instead. Big stars from Charlie Parker to John Coltrane have recorded such albums and these sides can range from cheezy and forget-able to decent sets of jazz, albeit a bit laid back. Fortunately, Coleman Hawkins’, “At Ease with Coleman Hawkins”, falls into that latter group.

If you had to pick the nicest tone in saxophone history, Hawkins would rate at the top along side fellow reed men like Johnny Hodges and Lester Young. For those unfamiliar with his history, Hawkins, pretty much by himself, invited modern saxophone playing in the late 20s and made the saxophone a competitive solo instrument with his virtuoso solos and smooth tone that is still hard to match today. Coleman brings all that virtuosity to “at Ease”, but keeps things in a relaxed manner as required by the mood music setting.

In comparison to other jazz albums that double as easy listening, “at Ease” rates very well. One big plus on here is that there are no background strings weighting down the sound, often a big problem with other jazz mood albums. Instead, the only instruments you get on “at Ease” are a simple four piece combo with the great Tommy Flanagan on piano. A second big plus is the choice of tunes. Easy listening albums are notorious for featuring songs that have been played to death, not so on this one, apparently Hawkins picked the tunes himself, and his choices are thoughtful and unique. Fans of Coleman Hawkins don’t need to be afraid of this one, Hawkins keeps it mellow, but he doesn’t necessarily check his genius at the door, there is a lot of great playing on here, inventive and unique as always.

BROWNOUT Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath

Album · 2014 · Latin Rock/Soul
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Brownout is a Latin RnB/rock/funk outfit from Austin Texas that was created when members of popular cumbia band Grupo Fantasana decided to play some covers by the likes of Santana, EW&F and the P-funk mob for the fun of it. Their first ep did so well that they decided to keep the group going and record more albums. Somewhere along the way they came up with the idea of doing whole shows made up of Black Sabbath cover tunes and that was the birth of Brown Sabbath. “Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath” is like one big party on record where heavy Black Sabbath riffs meet Latin percussion and funk grooves. It’s a good record, but I have a feeling this is something that hits its real peak in a live performance. Nothing too serious or subtle going on here, just good times where rock crunch is pushed with a big horn section and that steady Latin RnB groove.

Some of the Sabbath covers have singers and they play those tunes more or less like the originals, while others like “Iron Man” and “Black Sabbath” are instrumental and are rearranged so that riffs that work best with the RnB groove are kept, and the riffs that are not as pliable are tossed aside. Guest singer Alex Mannero is a dead ringer for Ozzy on “Wizard”, but oddly enough, he sounds a lot like Jack Bruce on N.I.B., which ends up making you realize how similar Sabbath was to Cream sometimes. As mentioned earlier, this is probably a band that is best experienced live, I’m sure their sound is powerful. I don’t know how long they will be able to keep this sort of schtick going, these sort of gimmicks can have a short shelf life, then again, Dread Zepplin, turned their reggae-Elvis-Zepplin wackiness into a career. To their credit though, Brownout is being more or less serious here and not near as absurd or silly as Dread Zep. Still, someday in the future, I would imagine Brownout’s songs are going to show up on odd cover song collections along side ska versions of Green Day and exotica covers of Nirvana.

If Black Sabbath covers played by an excellent modern funky Latin rock band sounds like a good time to you, go for it, these guys really smoke, excellent players all the way around.

10000 VARIOUS ARTISTS The Smithsonian Collection Of Classic Jazz

Boxset / Compilation · 1973 · Swing
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This review is written using the original Smithsonian Collection of Jazz issued on 6 LPs that came in a box with an excellent 46 page booklet. If you are looking for a good way to get an overview of jazz history from New Orleans up to the early 60s, you couldn’t do much better than this one. Almost all of the important players are here and arranged in very logical chronological order, or sometimes grouped by genre and/or instrument. Much effort was made in assembling this package to present jazz as it grew and changed over the years. There are a few omissions and those will be covered later in this review.

This collection starts where it should, in New Orleans in the early 20s, and finally ends with John Coltrane’s “Alabama”. In between you get several cuts by major innovators like Ellington, Parker and Armstrong, and at least one cut from anyone else who was important. A top highlight of this collection comes early on when Scott Joplin’s version of “Maple Leaf Rag” is followed by Jelly Roll Morton’s, and it becomes clear what this new “jass” was all about. From the beginning jazz was a nuanced musical language whereby “hipsters” could transform pop tunes and make them personal creations in a way that was difficult to imitate and in a manner that left “squares” clueless. It’s this attempt to always stay one step ahead of the imitators that has fueled most of jazz’s innovations. Another similar juxtaposition comes when the collection follow’s Benny Goodman’s version of “Body and Soul” with Coleman Hawkin’s version. No doubt Goodman was a major talent, but no one could transform a melody like Hawkins.

Another highlight in the chronology occurs when Ellington makes his first appearance. The Basie cuts preceding Ellington are great energetic rockin swingin numbers, but when the first couple bars of Ellington’s “East St Louis Toodle-Oo” come slinking into the picture, its obvious we have entered a whole new universe. Actually the first couple bars of that tune almost sound like a ‘Knitting Factory’ band in NYC’s 21st Century, but when the tune proper kicks in, there is no doubt that this is Ellington in the late 20s, a couple centuries ahead of his time, and still so today. This whole new universe effect happens again when Parker and Gillespie show up, and once more when Cecil Taylor unveils “Enter Evening”.

This is an excellent collection, but there are some omissions. The most glaring is that nothing is included from Coltrane’s hard bop years, particularly the groundbreaking album “Giant Steps” and even more particularly, the hugely influential title track. Possibly still the most influential tune in modern jazz, the fast moving and difficult chord changes to “Giant Steps” continue to be a holy grail for young saxophone players who want to prove their skills. It was probably hard to include every major player, but if I had to pick the one most missed it would be Eric Dolphy, one of the few musicians who seemed capable of expanding on what Parker had established. Although there is an attempt to show the roots of jazz with one ragtime tune and a couple early blues numbers, it would have been nice to hear even earlier music that demonstrates the relationship between traditional African music and pre-jazz brass bands. Recordings of rural Louisiana brass bands, as late as the 1950s, playing in a very African style that preceded jazz, do exist.

There is a CD re-issue of this collection that corrects a few other omissions, particularly the Bill Evans Trio and Wes Montgomery. The CD collection also quite slyly jumps a decade and a half at the very end to feature one cut from 1979 by The World Saxophone Quartet. The implication being that the fusion/smooth jazz years were merely a diversion, the real innovations in jazz will be coming from guys like Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Hamie Bluiett and David Murray.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 48 minutes ago in Jon Anderson & Jean-Luc Ponty Form New Band!
    Thanks, as soon as they get the new album out, we'll add them to the site.
  • Posted 5 days ago in Samba
    Italian, I thought so, it reminded me of Fellini.
  • Posted 6 days ago in Samba
    Nice song, and the video was excellent. Who directed that?


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Warthur wrote:
1 year 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:
768 days ago
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