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503 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 - At Fillmore: 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 71 3.79
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 39 3.94
3 Hard Bop 29 3.91
4 Soul Jazz 26 3.31
5 Post Bop 25 4.28
6 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 25 3.74
7 Jazz Related Rock 24 3.79
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 16 4.13
14 Bop 16 3.94
15 DJ/Electronica Jazz 15 3.27
16 Pop Jazz/Crossover 15 2.47
17 Third Stream 13 3.81
18 Exotica 12 3.54
19 Jazz Soundtracks 11 3.55
20 Progressive Big Band 10 3.90
21 Dub Fusion 8 3.88
22 Cool Jazz 8 4.31
23 Jazz Related Blues 7 3.64
24 Post-Fusion Contemporary 7 3.50
25 Latin Rock/Soul 5 3.90
26 Latin Jazz 3 3.83
27 Swing 3 4.00
28 Jazz Related Improvisation 3 3.50
29 Acid Jazz 2 3.25
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

CECIL TAYLOR Silent Tongues (aka I Grandi Del Jazz)

Live album · 1975 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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If you had to pick three architects of modern jazz piano, you could just about cover everything with Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner and Cecil Taylor. Despite his phenomenal talent, Taylor may have seemed like the lesser influence at first, as most of his followers were relegated to the avant-garde end of things, but over the years his influence has grown and these days you are liable to hear Taylor type assaults on the piano from guys like Craig Taborn, Jason Moran or others, while they perform with modern fusion and post bop groups.

If you are not familiar with the piano playing of Cecil Taylor, he is one of the most intense musical performers ever, jazz or otherwise. His music is relentlessly energetic, full of jarring dissonances and unbelievable flurries of atonal notes unleashed at super human speed. Although his music may seem like noise to some, to the fan of avant-garde composition, there is an incredible logic and flow to Taylor’s music. I use the term “composition” on purpose, because although there is much improvisation in his music, the overall effect is more similar to an avant-garde concert hall piece, rather than a ‘free jazz’ workout. Taylor’s music does tend to get grouped with the free jazz crowd, and he has performed in free settings with others, but on his own, Cecil’s ability to logically assemble ideas comes through just as much as the force and volume.

“Silent Tongues” is a live recording that captures Taylor at his best, playing solo. Along with the constant antonality, you can sometimes hear bits of familiar music, blues riffs chopped to pieces or flowery classical romanticism gone berserk. It seems Taylor’s tries to avoid the ‘modernisms’ of the Evans/Tyner sound and draws more from early jazz piano players from Jelly Roll and Eubie Blake up to Art Tatum. Sometimes I feel like I’m listening to ragtime run through a blender. Some might try to draw comparisons between Taylor and the piano work of Sun Ra, but I’m sure those two were well aware of each other and managed to stay somewhat polar opposites within the avant-garde realm, ha. The one thing that is hard to describe though, is these certain moments where Taylor draws so much thunder and lightning out of the piano, you find it hard to believe one human can do this.

If you are fan of modern music, you will want to pick up “Silent Tongues”. Cecil Taylor’s piano playing is a miracle.

TOMMY PELTIER'S JAZZ CORPS The Jazz Corps (Featuring Roland Kirk)

Album · 1967 · Post Bop
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The general cliché about west coast jazz was that everyone sounded like Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan doing their ‘cool’ thing, and certainly folks on the left coast tended to play with a more relaxed feel, but the west coast was also very open to new ideas (Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry were far more welcome in LA than NYC) as well as influences from around the world, particularly Asia and Latin America. Its within this air of openess that we get this great jam featuring Tommy Peltier’s Jazz Corps and their special guest, the always brilliant Roland T. Kirk ( apparently not yet named Rahsaan at this point).

Peltier and his Corps were an ongoing local staple at the famous Lighthouse jams in Hermosa Beach CA. Often Tommy and his group would open for various headliners such as Cannonball Adderly and Yusef Lateef, which would give the Corps an opportunity to rub shoulders with the greats. I would imagine this is how they were able to secure a recording date with Kirk on board. The resultant album, “The Jazz Corps featuring Roland Kirk” would have been a solid recording even without Kirk, but having Roland on board helps raise things a notch or two. Not only does Roland bring his spectacular solo skills to the mix, but having an extra multi-horn man on board gives the Corps six pieces, including a three horn front line, which helps the band create fresh tone colors to make each tune unique. This is most apparent on the modern ballad, “Serenity”, where two flutes combine with a muted trumpet for a sound all their own.

The lengthy modal improvisations from India known as ragas had a strong influence on west coast jazz in the 60s as many an artist took up a beatnik flavored take on the raga sound with long jams that used one scale or mode, rather than chord changes, for soloists to work with. This modal approach to jamming runs all through “The Jazz Corps” , with an influx of Latin rhythms on many tunes adding even more of a west coast style international mix. Add to all that, this mini big-band ensemble’s use of interesting tone colors and their ability to weave more than one melodic line at once with improvised arrangements and you have a very imaginative record that holds up well to repeat listens.

As mentioned earlier, many of the tunes on here have a relaxed approach, but towards the end of side two the band’s expressed interest in the music of Ornette and Don Cherry kicks in and they move outside during a high energy ride called “Meanwhile”. This cut features Kirk’s most intense solo on the album, a furious assault on the stritch, a sax/clarinet hybrid from the early days of jazz. Overall this is a great album, very unique and featuring a sort of intricate sensitivity and creativity that will soon disappear from jazz for a while, bludgeoned by the heavy-handed conformity of the fusion fad.

KORLA PANDIT The Universal Language Of Music, Volume 1

Album · 1954 · Exotica
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Our review today involves a talented young African-American jazz pianist from the US south who decided to boost his fledgling career by fabricating for himself a far away exotic birthplace, and an equally exotic new name and attire to go with that alleged birthplace. Now you may be thinking this must be Sonny Blount aka Sun Ra, but instead it is the lesser known John Roland Redd, otherwise known as Korla Pandit from ‘New Delhi‘. Redd was a promising young piano player who was actually from Hannibal Missouri before he decided to move to Los Angelas, first re-naming himself Juan Rolando, and then settling on becoming Korla Pandit, an ‘Indian’ man complete with jeweled turban and all. In the early 50s, Pandit would appear on TV in LA playing a mix of classical excerpts, jazz standards and exotic originals on the Hammond organ while staring directly at the camera without saying a word. For the US in the early 50s, this was unique to say the least. Some credit Pandit with being the creator of the strange genre that became known as exotica and certainly his records, along with the first records by Les Baxter, are some of the earliest recordings in this style.

“The Universal Language of Music Volume 1” is typical of an early Pandit record as it contains some classical excerpts (Clare de Lune" etc), a couple standards ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow" etc) and a few supposed “Indian” tunes composed by Pandit. The alleged Indian tunes don’t sound much like music from India, but more like cheezy belly dancing music from a 50s LA nightclub. Korla often accompanies these exotic melodies by playing the lower keyboard on the Hammond with an open palm producing a sort of electronic bongo drum beat. No matter what Pandit plays, he provides the sort of melodramatic swoops and swells that were common to lounge organ players during that time period. In between the tunes, an unidentified dramatic voice recites corny poetry and trite stories that pre-date new age snake oil 'gurus'.

Getting back to our Sun Ra comparison, I would not be surprised if Sonny pulled some influence from Pandit. For example, on the track “Stormy Weather”, Korla precedes the tune with his idea of a chaotic storm on the keyboard with lots swelling dissonant chords, its avant-garde music gone dramatically cornball and its just humorously excessive enough to sound like Ra himself.

I am sure you have already determined that this record is not for everyone, even some exotica fans may be disappointed in the murky recorded sound, but to some collectors of odd music, that murky sound can only add to this record’s strange appeal. No doubt Pandit’s playing is not a joke, he was an extremely talented performer who could have played whatever he wanted, he’s just one of those quirky individuals who took the path less traveled.

XAVI REIJA Resolution

Live album · 2014 · (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion
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“Resolution” is the latest album from virtuoso jazz fusion drummer Xavi Reija, and it finds him making some big changes in his music. Gone are the keyboards and saxophone, as well as the 70s based classic fusion music he was playing that was reminiscent of early Cobham and mid-70s Weather Report. Instead, Reija presents a stripped down band with just avant-funk fusion bassist Bernat Hernandez and noise centered guitarist Dusan Jevtovic on board. The resultant music moves far from the 70s into something that sounds like three creative guys with jazz skills playing a sort of modern noise dub post math rock thing. Jevtovic is an interesting guitarist, he obviously can play some rapid fusion flavored scales if he wants, as he displays for a bit on “Shadow Dance”, but usually he prefers to work with sounds, textures and spare notes that linger. His simple but effective ringing tones may remind some of Nicky Scopelitis, only with more distortion. Hernandez’s playing on here ranges from nimble funk along the lines of Marcus Miller, to heavy distorted dub lines ala Bill Laswell. Sometimes the three together sound like what Sonic Youth would sound like if they had a really good rhythm section, or possibly the noisier side of the Wetton, Bruford, Fripp gang.

For about the first two thirds of this CD the music on here is very strong, modern and creative, but it is a very lengthy CD (equal to a double LP) and towards the end it seems like the music starts to loose some focus and drive. No big deal though, you still get plenty of great cuts. For long time fans of Reija, sure there is a drop-off in “jazz” elements on this one, but on the other hand, its great to hear something that is this new and original. If you are interested in some math/post-rock flavored jams played by guys who have way more creative skills than the type of people who normally play this sort of music, then go grab a copy of “Resolution”.

WES MONTGOMERY Greatest Hits

Boxset / Compilation · 1970 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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Despite having a fairly short career, Wes Montgomery was one of the most talented and influential jazz guitarists ever. After a promising start as a soulful and bluesy hard boppist, Wes began making pop oriented albums in the early 60s and then suddenly died of a heart attack in the late 60s before he had a chance to get back to recording jazz albums again. “Greatest Hits” on the A&M label is a collection of the pop tunes Wes recorded for that label from the mid to late 60s. The tunes on here are a mixed bag, some are fairly cheezy while others give Wes a chance to show what he is capable of. To Montgomery’s credit, the cheeziest moments never come from him, but from the heavy handed arranger(s) who gets carried away with the strings and other window dressings (no credits are given, but that is probably the talented but sometimes excessive Don Sebesky handling the orchestra). On the other hand, Wes’s playing maintains its integrity and his blues roots never yield to the candy coated orchestrations.

The best tune on here is “Scarborough Fair”, which has little orchestra clutter, therefore allowing Wes to state the melody in free abstract form and then head straight for a cool flavored modal jam, sort of Coltrane-lite if you will. “I Say a Little Prayer” has sophisticated chord changes and one of Wes’ most energetic solos on the album and “Road Song” is a classic soul jazz groove with some good horn kicks. The rest of the cuts on here vary from okay to a couple that are not that great. Still, on every tune, Wes never drops the ball and remains creative and very much himself.

Even amongst Wes Montgomery’s pop tunes, this may not be the best collection, buts its not the worst either, sort of in-between. If you like Montgomery’s pop covers, or 60s pop jazz in general, then this may make a worthwhile purchase. Its not too hard to find it at a very reasonable price too.

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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:
1 year ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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