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589 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
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
MILES DAVIS - Nefertiti Post Bop | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Classic Fusion 80 3.73
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 46 3.98
3 Hard Bop 36 3.89
4 Soul Jazz 31 3.35
5 Post Bop 30 4.22
6 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 29 3.74
7 Big Band 27 3.89
8 World Fusion 27 3.63
9 Jazz Related Rock 26 3.79
10 Funk Jazz 23 3.59
11 Jazz Related RnB 23 3.37
12 Nu Jazz 19 3.34
13 Funk 18 3.92
14 Bop 18 4.00
15 Pop Jazz/Crossover 17 2.53
16 Progressive Big Band 16 4.09
17 DJ/Electronica Jazz 16 3.28
18 Exotica 15 3.47
19 Third Stream 15 3.87
20 Jazz Soundtracks 11 3.55
21 Cool Jazz 11 3.95
22 Dub Fusion 9 4.00
23 Post-Fusion Contemporary 8 3.56
24 Jazz Related Blues 7 3.64
25 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
26 Latin Jazz 5 3.90
27 Swing 5 4.00
28 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 4 3.50
29 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
30 Vocal Jazz 3 3.83
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

THELONIOUS MONK Genius of Modern Music

Album · 1951 · Bop
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Its not good for reviewers to engage in excessive hyperbole, but when it comes to Thelonious Monk’s “Genius of Modern Music”, we’re going to throw all restraint out the window and just come out and say that this is quite possibly the most important LP in jazz history. Keep in mind that the salient works by Armstrong, Ellington and Parker went down before the arrival of the LP, so that takes them out of the competition, but Monk’s first shot at a major label release came along just as the LP format was finally being given to jazz artists. “Genius of Modern Music” did not make a strong impact at first, many critics and jazz fans were dismissive of Monk’s odd approach, while many others didn’t even notice this album came out at all. But, it was different with many of the musicians, they heard what Monk was doing and they were interested, and over the decades, many more musicians would turn to his very personal take on what jazz could be to find their own inspiration. To this day, from Matthew Shipp to Vijay Iyer and everyone else as well, Monk remains one of the strongest influences on modern jazz piano and composition.

Despite his exaggerated reputation, Monk was not a naïve iconoclast, throughout “Genius of Modern Music”, you can hear Monk’s roots in the stride piano he grew up on, as well as the innovations of the young be-bop players of his day, but somehow Monk transforms everything into such an assertive personal statement, that there is no way for anyone to imitate him, try as they often do. The number one salient feature of Monk’s playing is his bizarre rhythms. Somehow he juxtaposes figures and introduces abrupt changes that challenge our perception, you find yourself wondering, “did I hear that right?” Secondly, his harmonic language was quite dissonant for the time, and although such dissonance has become more common in modern jazz, Monk still maintains a language that is unmistakably his. Finally, there is a mischievous humor to Monk’s music, a playfulness that slips in a crude joke when your attention might be slipping. He’s the favored uncle in the family, although no one is quite sure why.

This is a power packed line up of songs, many of these tunes went on to be classics, and are still played today, particularly “Round bout Midnight” and “Well, You Needn’t”, but no matter who plays them, they will not sound like the versions on here.

DUKE ELLINGTON Duke Ellington's Greatest Hits (aka The Duke Lives On)

Live album · 1967 · Big Band
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Calling the album in question here, “Duke Ellngton’s Greatest Hits”, might have been an attempt to make it more appealing and increase sales, but it is very misleading as this is not a collection of old original studio recordings, but is actually a live concert recorded some time in 1963, while the band was on tour in Europe. Sure the band covers a lot of their old favorites, but that was true of almost any Ellington concert over the years. Actually, if this record had been labeled as the live concert it really is, that would have helped sales more than the bogus “greatest hiits” tag. Ellington 'best of' albums are a dime a dozen and most Ellington fans don’t need one more re-packaging of studio recordings they already own, but they would probably be a lot more interested if they knew that this is an excellent live recording that shows the band to be in top form as they play some old favorites, but in ways that differ significantly from the originals.

Ellington was known for not playing tunes the same way twice, and that is apparent as you re-visit many of these well known songs. “Satin Doll”, and “Creole Love Call” are tossed off rather quickly and they don’t even play the recognizable main melody to “Love Call”. On the other hand, “Black and Tan Fantasy” is stretched out with more space at the end for the clarinet(s). Another top track is “Pyramid”, a real gem in that Ellington exotic pseudo-African style that influenced many, from Sun Ra to Les Baxter. All of the remaining tracks are good because the band sounds particularly cohesive and in tune with each other. I would guess that a lot of the good vibes come from the fact that the band was touring Europe where they were likely to get treated better than in the states. The band sounds relaxed and happy and all the subtle colors that the Ellington band is capable of sound very rich and delicate. It seems playing for a European audience really brings out the influence of French impressionism in the Ellington ensemble sound.

Unfortunately, this record has slid into obscurity and is mostly ignored and forgotten, most likely because of the misleading ‘greatest hits’ title. If you are an Ellington fan and can find this vinyl in good shape, pick it up, you won’t be disappointed. The recorded sound on here is excellent, and the band is in very good form, the ensemble tone colors are superb. This is a hidden gem in the vast Ellington discography, where good things can easily be lost and forgotten.

DENNY MCLAIN Denny McLain At The Organ

Album · 1969 · Exotica
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Is it an album cover, or is it a vintage baseball card? The cover of Denny McLain’s “At the Organ” certainly looks more like a 60s baseball card than your usual jazzy LP. For those who don’t know him, Denny McLain was a star baseball pitcher who also played cheezy lounge music on the Hammond B3. At the height of his baseball career, he was allowed to capitalize on his sports popularity by releasing a couple of albums. If he had not been a star athlete, I don’t think these recordings would have ever found their way on to a Capitol release. An interesting and flamboyant individual, McLain was rowdy and outspoken and often involved with mobsters and illegal gambling. Living a life that was more like the gangster 20s than the hippiefied 60s, McLain would eventually serve jail time for a variety of charges.

Having said all that, this album is not a joke or a total fluke, instead, McLain has some decent chops on the Hammond (the new X77 model on this album) as he plays some of his favorite pop and lounge tunes accompanied by a couple horns and a rhythm section. McLain does not take any solos, but his melodic playing is done in a full chordal style similar to George Shearing on the piano. As Denny plays the melodies he displays much creativity in utilizing the tools of the Hammond, such as constantly changing sounds and textures with the drawbars, and those dramatic swoops that come from sweeping your hands up the keyboard. No doubt, McLain had plenty of previous playing experience before he recorded these tracks.

Most of these tracks are fairly corny pop tunes, and would probably only appeal to hardcore exotica collectors, but there are few cuts where McLain shows a slightly weirder side. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” uses a proto trip hop beat while McLain plays the psychedelic chords of Donvan’s tune with an odd stuttering attack. “Cherish” has a baffling bizarre arrangement that keeps shifting tempos, and on “By the Time I get to Phoenix”, McLain eschews the melody and just outlines the chords in a more psychedelic fashion. Hearing these odder cuts does make you wonder what sort of untapped potential lies within the mind of Denny McLain.

Although McLain has some decent skills on the keyboard, I think most jazz fans would run from this recording in horror, this is definitely more for collectors of exotica and weird pop music. The exotica revival has been very good for McLain’s legacy as he was mostly forgotten as a musician until his tracks started showing up on mid-90s exotica revival collections such as “Organs in Orbit” and other space age bachelor pad type compilations.

GILAD ATZMON Gilad Atzmon And The Orient House Ensemble: The Whistle Blower

Album · 2015 · World Fusion
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The word ‘Orient’ is a word that is often misused in Western culture, although many have tried to equate the word with southeast Asia, in actuality, the term was originally intended for what we now call the Middle East. It is with this original definition in mind that saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and his Orient House Ensemble present their Middle-Eastern flavored fusion on their new album, “The Whistle Blower”. Atzmon and his crew have been around since 2000, and this is their 8th album. As for Gilad’s ‘Oriental’ band, Frank Harrison returns on keyboards, and Yaron Stavi returns on bass, while newcomer Chris Higginbottom is in the drum chair.

“The Whistle Blower” opens strong with the high energy drumnbass/Middle Eastern fusion drive of “Gaza Mon Amour”, Atzmon turns in a furiously intense solo on this one. It’s a great cut, but its also a bit of a tease as the band never plays another track with this kind of upbeat energy for the rest of the album, not that rest of the album is bad, just different. After this opener, Gilad treats us to two ballads, with “The Romantic Church” having the stronger melody. Next is some Coltrane styled ‘spiritual jazz’ in the name of “Let Us Pray”. Atzmon and his band are capable with these sort of post bop modal excursions, but still, Gilad’s solos seem to fit better with that earlier ‘oriental’ fusion approach. The next three cuts reveal two more ballads and another semi-free post bop number. This CD closes with the title track, which is a totally unexpected cheezy ‘exotica’ number that is actually a lot of fun, if a bit out of place.

Many great jazz artists have released albums that were made up entirely of ballads, in fact, it seems like that’s a rite of passage for those who seek immortality. Possibly Gilad should consider releasing such an all ballad album, because on an album like “Whistle Blower”, which features so many slower tempos, the few upbeat tracks seem almost out of place. On the other hand, if Atzmon wants to put out a truly eclectic and colorful album, more tracks like the opener and closer would help diversify things. Still, this is a good album and recommended for fans of Atzmon, virtuoso soprano sax playing and contemporary jazz in general.

ARCHIE SHEPP Three For A Quarter, One For A Dime

Live album · 1969 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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Although “Three for a Quarter One for a Dime” was not released until 1969, it was actually recorded in 1966 at the same show that made up the album “Live in San Francisco”. Recent CD re-issues of “Live in San Francisco” include “Three for a Quarter” as a 33 minute bonus track, prior to that, it was probably only available in the original vinyl format. On the original LP, the 33 minute piece is divided into 17 ½ minutes on side one, and 15 ½ on side two. Even though it is available on CD now, you may sill want to get “Three for a Quarter” in the original vinyl version because the massive gatefold packaging generously supplied by the Impulse! label is a work of art in itself.

Almost any musical genre seems to enjoy its best years when that style is being invented. The excitement of discovery seems to push a musician’s physical limits beyond their usual capabilities. You can hear this in late 20s jazz and early 40s be-bop, and you can also hear it in the ‘free jazz’ of the 60s. Despite all the attention given to Coltrane and Ornette during this freedom era, quite possibly Archie Shepp, along with Albert Alyer and John Gilmore, were the ones who took the emotional frenzy of this music to its highest level, and “Three for a Quarter” provides an excellent example of Shepp doing just that.

This album opens with Shepp and tromobonist Roswell Rudd leap-frogging an odd melody that’s part bop, part circus music and completely ‘out to lunch’, there is no doubt that we are in for a wild ride. As the band digs in, Rudd and Shepp do some quick exchanges before Rudd backs off and gives Shepp the floor. Archie responds with one of the most intense sax solos you will ever hear anywhere, no shrieks or screams, just an endless assault of notes played with a very gnarly expressive guttural sound. Towards the end of side one, Rudd re-enters and the two soloists raise a wonderful chaos that sounds much bigger than just two. On side two, Rudd takes a solo ride while Shepp backs him on the piano before picking up his horn for one more double solo to close things out. Throughout the precedings, Beaver Harris keeps up a steady roar on the trap set while the two bassists rumble around in the background, although not always particularly distinctively.

Archie Shepp is a restless spirit who has played many styles of music in his career, “Three for a Quarter One for a Dime” is an excellent example of how much furious energy he brought to the ‘new thing’ of the sixties before he moved on to other things.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 14 days ago in Hello + Crowdfunding Campaign - Jazz Fusion Albums
    Welcome to the site Bart, the music sounds good. If you have any music available for sale, we can add you to the site.
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Warthur wrote:
1126 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:
1173 days ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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