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548 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
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 77 3.74
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 42 3.95
3 Soul Jazz 31 3.35
4 Hard Bop 30 3.95
5 Post Bop 27 4.28
6 Jazz Related Rock 26 3.79
7 World Fusion 25 3.64
8 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 25 3.74
9 Funk Jazz 23 3.59
10 Jazz Related RnB 22 3.41
11 Big Band 21 3.98
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 Third Stream 15 3.87
18 Progressive Big Band 14 4.07
19 Exotica 14 3.50
20 Cool Jazz 11 3.95
21 Jazz Soundtracks 11 3.55
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

QUINCY JONES The Birth of a Band Volume 2

Album · 1984 · Big Band
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In the late 50s, when Quincy Jones recorded his successful “The Birth of a Band” big band album, he recorded several tunes that did not make the final cut for that original release. Flash forward to 1984 and the Japanese division of Mercury decides to put out those cast aside cuts as “Birth of a Band volume II”. A quick listen to Volume II and its immediately apparent why these tracks were cast aside. Whereas Volume I is mostly high quality jazz tracks, the tunes on Volume II veer more into pop, easy listening and oddly appealing cheezy ditties of different types. Sure Volume II is light on content, but this is still Quincy Jones, and if you have a taste for this kind of orchestrated pop jazz and the swanky sophisticated side of late 50s/early 60s easy listening, you have come to the right place.

Volume II opens with the well known kitsch classic, Leroy Anderson’s “Syncopated Clock”. This one may sound familiar to some, because it was released as a single long before Volume II came out. After “Clock” we get some revved up swing revival, several corny pop RnB tracks that recall 60s dance shows like “Hullabaloo”, and a very nice pop-jazz version of “The Midnight Sun Will Never Set”. Also included in this mish-mash of tunes are a couple of out-takes of tracks from Volume I, including “Moanin” and “Happy Faces”. The final four cuts on Volume II get back into more of a jazz vein, although in a condensed pop influenced manner.

Recent re-issues of the original “Birth of a Band” have included the cuts from Volume II under the title “The Complete Birth of a Band”, and jazz fans could not be more unhappy. The pop cuts from Volume II have not set well with fans of the original Volume I. All the same, I think there is a fan base for these clever and well orchestrated pop tunes. Any fan of early sophisticated easy listening LPs and those ‘swingin bachelor pad’ type retro collections, and even fans of exotica, may find a lot to like on “Birth of a Band Volume II”. The sound Quincy presents on here went on to be a big influence on TV soundtracks in the 60s.

"BROTHER" JACK MCDUFF Do It Now!

Album · 1967 · Soul Jazz
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There was a lot of change in the air in 1967 when Jack McDuff released “Do it Now”, and that is reflected on many of the tracks on this fine soul jazz disc. In 67 James Brown was still developing the new funk sound, he had already hit us with the semi-funk of “I Feel Good”, but had not quite hit the pure funk heights of “I Got the Feelin” and “Say it Loud”. The first and last cuts on side one of McDuff‘s “Do it Now” are not quite full-on funk jazz numbers, but you can clearly hear the influence of James’ recent hits. In fact, side two closer and title cut, “Do it Now“, sounds like its based on that famous walk down riff from “I Feel Good”.

Along with the two lively proto funk numbers, “Do it Now” also contains two tracks with the expected bluesy hard bop swing, an odd country RnB track, a cheezy rendition of “Summer Samba” and a very interesting album closer called “Mutt and Jeff”. This closing track is a sort of up-tempo post bop, almost avant-garde in its odd chord progressions and semi-free rhythm, it sounds a bit like what Larry Young and Tony Williams will be playing in their new Lifetime group.

So you get the picture, there is a lot of variety on here, but almost every cut is good, with the exception of the overly cute version of “Summer Samba”. McDuff’s playing on here is solid, not his flashiest best, but not watered down either. All of the band members get a turn too, but most of the solos go to Jack. The double horn section and electric guitar go a long way in filling out the sound. Fans of Jack McDuff and 60s soul jazz in general will want to pick this up, this isn’t Jack’s best effort, but its far from his worst either. For McDuff fans seeking Jack at his very best, check out the fiery and somewhat experimental “Heatin System”.

SIMAK DIALOG Live at Orion

Live album · 2015 · World Fusion
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The once easily maligned and watered down genre known as jazz fusion has been making quite a comeback in the new century, due in large part to an infusion of fresh new talent from around the globe who bring the music of their culture to the mix. You could hardly call Simak Dialog new, as they have been recording for almost twenty years, but since their addition to the MoonJune roster of artists, they have been reaching a far wider international audience that may see them as a relatively new band on the scene. There are so many great fusion bands coming from Indonesia these days, some carry a stronger influence of their culture than others, but few show such a strong element of classic Indonesian Gamelan as Simak Dialog. “Live at Orion” is the latest live offering from Dialog, and it shows them playing many songs from their recently released “6th Story” , as well some cuts from older albums, and a couple tracks that have not shown up on any of their previous releases.

Long time fans of Dialog will know what to expect here, a mix of Gamelan rhythms and structures fused with a late 60s style of raw jazz rock that often veers into psychedelic and avant-garde sound layers. The backbone of the Dialog sound is the tuned drums and metallophones of the Indonesian Gamelan, to this they add Riza Arshad on Fender Rhodes, Tohpati on electric guitar and Rudy Zulkarnen on bass. All the instruments blend perfectly; the Fender Rhodes is basically an amplified metallophone in itself, and Tohpati is apt to run his guitar through a ring modulator which gives it a clangorous percussive metallic effect, much like the Gamelan instruments and the Rhodes. This combination of instruments can sound like a modern mini gamelan orchestra, a tuned percussion ensemble playing John Cage’s prepared piano pieces, or Stockhausen’s experiments with ring modulated sounds. In between these more avant-garde ambitions, Dialog is apt to hit a steady groove and let Tohpati play a fret burning guitar solo.

The music on here is excellent, far more creative and original than many of their fusion peers, but unfortunately all of this great music is somewhat marred by a rather lackluster sound. Simak Dialog’s music is raw and earthy, so I wouldn’t expect, or even want a real polished sound, but there is something lacking here, a certain high end and sharp definition. It almost sounds like the concert was picked up on one or two room mics, rather than individual instrument microphones or line-ins. Its not a huge problem, as every instrument is nice and clear, but music this good deserves a better sound.

JAMES FARM City Folk

Album · 2014 · Classic Fusion
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The first time you spin James Farm’s “City Folk”, you may get the impression that its not much more than some instrumental indie rock/pop tunes with jazz solos. It doesn’t help that lead off tune, “Two Steps”, is not one of the strongest cuts on here, but give this CD some more plays and a deeper more complex creation will reveal itself. There is a melodic indie pop element to many of these songs, but others are more abstract in their blending of modern fusion and post bop, and on every cut, the band is careful to avoid anything too predictable or cliché.

For those looking for something more in the way of a jazz workout, “North Star” and “Mr E” are probably two of the best tracks to go with. Of the more melodic fare, “Unknown” has one of those ‘haunting’ melodies that really sticks with you, as well as an excellent building chord progression that keeps reaching upwards. For a jazz album, the playing on many cuts is a bit restrained, but always creative and thoughtful. Joshua Redman always impresses with his sense of melody in improvisation.

I’m not sure on the intended target audience here, some jazz fans may balk at the simple rock beats on some tracks, while other tunes get a little more abstract than what the average rock listener is used to. I suppose the jam band fan who wants to move up to something a little more jazzy could see “City Folk” as a gateway. Also, those who like the music of Brad Mehldau and other similar contemporary piano trios will understand where this band is coming from with their moody indie rock influences. Overall, this is a good contemporary jazz CD, just don’t expect to get blown away by anything too dramatic, “City Folks” is more about careful creativity than fireworks.

QUINCY JONES The Birth of a Band (aka Fab!)

Album · 1959 · Big Band
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The Birth of a Band (Volume 1)” is one more excellent big band album by Quincy Jones recorded in the early part of his career when he was still a full time jazzer, but it will be one of his last pure jazz studio recordings. At the same recording session that yielded the ten songs for “Birth”, Jones and his band also recorded eleven kitsch pop/easy listening tunes that will show up many years later as “Birth of a Band Vol 2”. A recent CD re-issue of “Birth” has combined both volumes under the name ‘The Complete Birth of a Band’, which is unfortunate because the inclusion of the cheezy pop songs has tarnished the name of this album. The informed buyer needs to know that the music on the two original volumes of “Birth” are quite different from each other, and you may not want to purchase a set that includes both volumes.

If you are familiar with Jones’ albums that preceded “The Birth of a Band”, then you know what to expect here; colorful modern big band arrangements with super tight ensemble playing and an economical approach to jazz that shows Jones’ pop sensibilities. There are plenty of great soloists on here; including Phil Woods, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry and Benny Golson. All of the tunes are good, but the best is album opener and title song, “The Birth of a Band”, a super hot uptempo bop number with a couple of great sax solos.

If you seek Quincy’s jazz side, this is another good one to get, but if don’t care for his pop side, watch out for the ‘complete’ versions that include volume 2.

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Warthur wrote:
905 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:
952 days ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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