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521 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 40 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 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 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

GERRY MULLIGAN The Great Gerry Mulligan

Album · 1963 · Cool Jazz
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There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the 1963 LP, “The Great Gerry Mulligan”, you can‘t find information about it anywhere, meanwhile, there are people on the internet trying to pass it off as a valuable rarity, which is surprising since it came out on the Crown label. Crown was a very cheap budget label that often re-packaged old by-passed recording sessions in flimsy album jackets that were known to fall apart. In true Crown style, the credits on this album jacket itself are a source of wrong information. The cover lists five musician’s names, but there are clearly only four on the record. Apparently tenor saxophonist Bill Robinson appears on the album cover, but is nowhere to be found on the record itself. Also, a ‘’Bob Gibson’, who is supposedly the drummer, does not show on any other jazz records anywhere and was probably a drummer who could not use his real name, either for contractual reasons or just plain shame. Since Crown is apt to use older recording sessions, I searched high and low to see if these musicians had ever worked together on another recording and only came up with a big band date featuring trumpeter Dick Hurwitz with Bill Robinson, but then Bill doesn’t really play on this record so that was no help, ha. The fact that this is not the usual crowd that Mulligan normally worked with just adds to the dubious mystery of this LP.

So what about the music? Things start off strong with the up-tempo bop of opening track “Turnstile”, one of the few songs on the album to feature much in the way of chord changes and arrangement. Mulligan and Hurvitz play with the melody and intertwine like Bird and Diz making you think you have scored a really cool LP. Follow up cut “Side Track” continues in a similar vein, but then comes the downhill slide into mediocrity. The next two cuts are based on children’s folk songs of the variety that were used to force young people to sing in US public schools in the 50s and 60s. The rest of the album is comprised of blues based jams, probably improvised on the spot, as well as one more children’s song. To the musician’s credit, every song on the album is handled with wit and creativity, but the choice of material is of the variety that arises when you are hastily throwing something together. The 'jokey' song titles such as "Shoe Enough" and "Yknuf" only make this more apparent.

Certainly the great Gerry Mulligan has much better records out there than “The Great Gerry Mulligan”, but this LP isn’t that bad either. In a lot of ways this record sounds like an afternoon jam session at a club with the musicians getting a bit silly here and there with the cheezy folk songs, but is this a “valuable rarity”, I wouldn’t think so. I found my copy in a thrift store for a buck, that seems like a reasonable price. On the plus side, for a Crown release, the sound quality is quite good, featuring a very bold upfront analog sound with no gimmicks or additives.


Album · 2013 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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In a world over laden with talented jazz pianists, Matthew Shipp is able to stand out, not just for his technique, but more for his unique musical vision that combines the history of avant-garde jazz piano with modern abstract post bop and 20th-21st century concert hall music. “Piano Sutras”, released in 2013, makes for a great introduction to Shipp and the variety of styles he can employ. Although the jazz elements are here, much of this album sounds like a modern concert hall recital, which is no big surprise given the extant to which jazz has influenced the typical modern composer. In fact, it would not be surprising if someone thought this was a recital featuring a sampling of modern composers as each of these pieces seems to have its own distinct personality.

Album opener and title track, “Piano Sutras”, kicks things off in concert hall mode, sounding at times like a modernized version of Scriabin. Follow up track, “Cosmic Shuffle”, gets us back on a jazz joint as Shipp visit’s the early days of stride and boogie and runs them through the abstract de-constructionist blender. Later track, “Blues to a Point”, also uses older jazz styles, reworked for the new century. Its not uncommon for reviewers to compare Shipp to Cecil Taylor, and the similarities do exist, but the difference being that Shipp’s approach to Taylor’s jagged expressionism is more subdued and refined as would fit today’s jazz sound. “Uncreated Light” is one track that carries the Taylor mark with its heavy noisy low end rumbles and harsh blues based riffs.

There are two well-known standards on here. “Giant Steps’ is given a brief spin with Shipp just letting the chords float on their own without too much embellishment, possibly a nice contrast to those who always try to cram as many notes onto “Giant Steps” as they can. “Nefertiti” is the other familiar number, which Shipp plays with considerable low end murkiness, possibly in contrast to other’s overly pretty versions of the same tune. Both songs are used more for their harmonic colors, rather than an excuse to solo.

This is an excellent CD, especially if you enjoy that esoteric place where modern jazz meets modern classical music. You can listen to “Piano Sutras” many times and still always hear something new. This is music that rewards close listening.


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.

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Hey dude,

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

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772 days ago
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