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Favorite Jazz Artists

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701 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 91 3.71
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 54 3.97
3 Hard Bop 48 3.88
4 Post Bop 38 4.13
5 Soul Jazz 36 3.33
6 Big Band 35 3.84
7 World Fusion 35 3.64
8 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 32 3.77
9 Jazz Related Rock 28 3.77
10 Jazz Related RnB 27 3.52
11 Bop 24 4.00
12 Funk Jazz 24 3.60
13 Nu Jazz 22 3.39
14 Progressive Big Band 20 4.10
15 Funk 20 3.92
16 Pop Jazz/Crossover 19 2.68
17 Exotica 18 3.44
18 DJ/Electronica Jazz 16 3.25
19 Third Stream 15 3.87
20 Cool Jazz 10 3.85
21 Post-Fusion Contemporary 10 3.55
22 Jazz Related Soundtracks 9 3.94
23 Jazz Related Blues 9 3.72
24 Dub Fusion 9 4.00
25 Latin Jazz 8 3.94
26 Swing 8 4.00
27 Vocal Jazz 8 3.75
28 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 7 3.43
29 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
30 21st Century Modern 5 4.40
31 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
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

JOHN CAGE John Cage Assisted By David Tudor : Variations IV Volume II

Album · 1965 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
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If a group of humans improvising some music might be called a jazz combo, then what would you call a group of record players, radios and room microphones doing the same? You might call that John Cage’s “Variations IV”, because that is what this recording consists of, a collage of sounds that come from a couple of phonographs, some radios and some strategically placed microphones all ‘jamming’ together at the same time. For those unaware of the work of John Cage, he was a clever composer who tried to find ways to change people’s perceptions of what could be considered music. His infamous composition “4:33”, consisted of four and a half minutes of silence which challenged the listener to notice the sounds around them as if they were listening to a piece of music. “Variations IV” continues in that vein as we hear all of these different incongruent sounds colliding to form what might be called ‘music’ for those who want to hear it that way.

The original “Variations IV’ concert took place at an art gallery in Los Angeles. Cage, and his assistant David Tudor, manipulated the different record players and radios while microphones picked up street noise from outside the gallery, as well as laughter and conversation in the gallery bar room. The entire recorded concert lasted for six hours, so this LP, “Variations IV Volume II”, contains just a segment of the original performance. Obviously, ‘music’ like this isn’t for everybody, but if you enjoy this sort of thing, “Variations” makes for a great listen. Since this was recorded back in the mid-60s, the various music segments that appear on here reflect that time period. There is no heavy rock, rap, disco or techno, instead, you get a lot segments from classical pieces, as well as spoken word recordings, some jazz, folk and other things that are somewhat unintelligible due to all the ambient noise. Whether or not this recording is ‘music’ is probably debatable, but speaking for myself, I find listening to this to be not only interesting, but also very enjoyable, and although I don’t listen to it often, I still consider this to be one of my prize LPs.

STEVE HECKMAN Steve Heckman & Matt Clark : Some Other Time / Slow Cafe

Album · 2017 · Post Bop
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The hardest group format to work in when it comes to keeping a groove, and, as they say, ‘swinging your ass off’, has to be the duo configuration. Playing solo is easier because you have no one else to match to, you can wander as far off the beat as you want and no one is going to complain, except maybe your audience. Likewise, once you get up to three or more participants, more than likely you will have a drummer keeping time, or at least a bass instrument, but when it is just the two of you, both of you need to have killer time instincts and a swingin beat in your head or the resultant train wrecks will come soon and often at that. Having said all that, on their new CD, “Some Other Time/Slow Café”, saxophonist Steve Heckman and pianist Matt Clark easily show that they are ‘those guys‘, the ones with an impeccable drummer keeping time in their hearts and minds. This is a great CD, with an excellent choice of material made up of lesser known standards plus four originals, three by Heckman and one by Clark. It says a lot about your writing ability when your own originals can blend with proven standards and not stand out in a bad way, but such is the case, especially with Heckman, whose originals are often the highlight on this album.

My only prior experience with Steve’s playing was hearing his previous Coltrane tribute. Possibly it had to do with the pressure of paying tribute to Coltrane, but Steve sounds so much more relaxed and fluid on this new album, not that there was anything wrong with his earnest take on Coltrane classics, but “Some Other Time/Slow Café” shows more variety and personal approaches than what was heard on his previous effort. Some highlights on here include the lofty ballad “Some Other Time” on which Heckman’s breathy tenor tone recalls one of his favorite influences, Lee Konitz, I also thought I heard some Coleman Hawkins on this one too. Two Heckman originals stand out, “Sheila’s Sunday Song’ on which Steve shows that he has a nice full tone on the flute, and the soulful RnB/pop of “Slow Café”. Two tracks by Duke Pearson have the duo in a hard bop/soul jazz groove with Matt walking the bass on the low end of the piano, and then there’s Monk’s “Ugly Beauty”, on which Matt shows off those signature Monk style whole tone scale runs.

Don’t expect fireworks on here, instead, this is a very unpretentious and warm jam session from two guys who really click, give this album a chance and it will grow on you. There is another plus on here and that’s the piano sound. Often times modern acoustic jazz sounds too bright and artificial, I don’t know what they did right on here, but the piano has a natural presence with just the right amount of normal room ambience and reverb, absolutely no artificial sweeteners at all. The CD cover works well too, instead of the expected urban jazz scene, you get what looks like a somewhat surreal warm quiet café in a rural winter landscape, it fit’s the music perfectly.

CHICK COREA Return to Forever

Album · 1972 · Classic Fusion
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It seems that in any musical genre, the most creative work goes down during the days in which said genre is being created. For sure the most intense bebop happened in the early 40s, and although you may still hear some good bop to this day, it will never be quite the same again. The same could also be said for jazz fusion, a genre that became an easy target for criticism over time, but in the heady days of its inception, some really interesting music was created under the fusion moniker, which leads us to Chick Corea’s first attempt to lead a fusion group while recording the album, “Return to Forever”. Chick was hardly new to the fusion world at the time of this recording, he had already participated on several ground breaking albums by Miles Davis, but, as stated earlier, “Return to Forever” was Chick’s first fusion recording as band leader. Corea’s albums as leader prior to this were definitely shaking up the jazz world, whether he was making cutting edge post bop tracks with Roy Haynes, or avant-garde excursions with Anthony Braxton, Chick was definitely a pianist to watch in the early 70s.

Like many early fusion recordings, a ‘mystical’ scent of hippie incense hangs heavy over “Return”. Psychedelic rock and progressive rock were at a peak during this time, and their sometimes indulgent excesses were an influence on many early fusion albums. The lengthy multi-sectioned songs on here, as well as Flora Purim’s exotic wordless vocals and a good dose of spacey reverb give “Return” a definite art rock flavor, but the long-line virtuoso solos from Chick, and everyone else, are brought about by these musician’s well trained background in jazz. Chick’s solos during this time were heavily influenced by his interest in Afro-Cuban jazz, his montuno driven rhythms contain some of the fiercest playing of his entire career. Unfortunately, in a few years after this recording, much of that aggressive Afro-Cuban influence will leave Chick’s playing for good. Rising to Chick’s energetic challenge, bassist Stanley Clarke man handles the difficult and bulky stand-up bass to play driving rhythms reminiscent of Cream and James Brown, the sort of bass lines that are more easily played on an electric bass.

All of the tracks on here are excellent, but title track, “Return to Forever” and side two’s lengthy “Sometime Ago-La Fiesta” stand out in the way that the whole band comes together for some very intense interplay driven by Corea’s quasi-montuno rhythmic figures. This will always be Chick Corea’s best fusion album, later attempts in this genre by him seem to get bogged down with too many compositional ideas, and too much ‘cheerful’ cuteness.

BROOKLYN RAGA MASSIVE Terry Riley in C

Live album · 2017 · World Fusion
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Terry Riley’s “In C” was a groundbreaking work within the confines of Western concert hall music. Its use of small melodic fragments that the members of the orchestra could choose to play at will helped introduce improvisation to the Western concert hall world, while its pulsing rhythms and homogenous tonal sound spearheaded a movement that became known as ‘minimalism’, something that was quite different from the 12-tone serialism and atonality that preceded “In C“. Since the late 60s, when “In C’ made its first appearance, it has been re-interpreted in many guises, including versions for ensembles who created African and Chinese versions of this malleable composition, which leads us to this latest version by Brooklyn Raga Massive . Brooklyn Raga Massive is an open-minded collective of performers who are well versed in the art of Indian classical music, but they are also willing to experiment with other musicians and styles of music too. This new version of “In C” is quite different from the original in may ways, and whether or not that is good or bad will probably vary from person to person.

The original “In C” had no one keeping time, there was an implied pulse, but the lack of strict time gave the piece a hallucinogenic ebb and flow that was one of it’s main appealing features. Featuring a different approach, this new version by the Raga Massive has a steady pulse supplied by the tabla, which gives the piece a groove more in common with modern ambient electronica. This trance element works well when the piece first opens, but after a while you may find yourself missing the more vague and slippery nature of the original. Terry Riley himself listened to this Raga version in rehearsal and was pleased with what he was hearing, but maybe he too was concerned about possible tedium in this new version because he suggested that the ensemble should add solos to the mix. This turned out to be a brilliant idea as the solos on sitar, violin, flute, vocals and other instruments add much more interest and excitement to the piece.

So once again “In C’ is given another face lift, as will probably happen again and again for many decades to come. Try out the original and this new version and see if you prefer the more dreamlike, yet insistent original, or this more Indian fusion meets techno-trance with driving solos modern version.

THELONIOUS MONK Brilliant Corners

Album · 1957 · Hard Bop
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Not only is “Brilliant Corners” one of Thelonious Monk’s best albums, but its also considered one of the better recordings in the history of jazz. Don’t expect a lot of fireworks from this one though, instead, most of these blues based tunes are played in laid back medium tempos, or even slower, but do expect maximum creativity and a brilliant ensemble that moves together as one mind. Monk does have a particularly strong crew assembled here, with Sonny Rollins and Max Roach on board, plus Ernie Henry and Oscar Pettiford are no slouches either. Clark Terry and Paul Chambers replace Henry and Pettiford for one cut, but they too are up for the great interplay that goes down on this disc.

The album opens with the title cut “Brilliant Corners”, and what a tour de force this one is. This composition has Monk working with rapidly changing tempos and time signatures, such things may be more common today, but this was fairly new ground in 1957, and “Corners” still sounds very modern and ‘cutting edge’ today. This is followed by the laid back avant-blues of “Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are”. Although “Bolivar” may not be as radical as the album opener, it still leaves plenty of room for ‘Monkish’ off-kilter solos and slippery interactions. Side two opens with the ballad like “Pannonica”, on which Monk plays the delicate bell like celeste. His odd approach to harmony sounds even more peculiar on this keyboard, the resultant exotic sounds might have you thinking that we are now in a universe parallel to Sun Ra.

“I Surrender Dear” is a standard that Monk plays in old school stride style and it is the only non-original piece on the album. Its presence acts as an interesting contrast to the more ‘out there’ aspects of the other numbers. The album closes with the Afro-Carribean flavors of “Bemsha Swing”, on which Max plays rumbling tympanies behind the soloists. Monk’s second solo after the trumpet is just splashes of sound and color, foreshadowing the world of avant-garde jazz that was right around the corner in ‘57. If you want to hear why so many jazz fans get effusive when discussing Thelonious Monk, give this one a spin.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 16 hours ago in New Jazz Related Albums - 2017
    Lunar Cape play Russian prog instrumental folk rock.http://lunarcape.bandcamp.com/album/lunar-folk-tales-instrumental-version
  • Posted 1 day ago in Birthdays thread
    Happy birthday Slava. This website is like an old war veterans club, each year there are fewer birthdays to celebrate and fewer people to celebrate with. 
  • Posted 1 day ago in New Jazz Related Albums - 2017
    Very intense avant-garde art rock, with a free jazz influence, and more from Brandon Seabrook:http://brandonseabrook.bandcamp.com/album/die-trommel-fatale js2017-12-15 14:18:57

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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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