Modern Jazz

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MILES DAVIS Kind of Blue Album Cover Kind of Blue
MILES DAVIS
4.93 | 91 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE A Love Supreme Album Cover A Love Supreme
JOHN COLTRANE
4.86 | 67 ratings
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CHARLES MINGUS The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Album Cover The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
CHARLES MINGUS
4.84 | 48 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Sahara Album Cover Sahara
MCCOY TYNER
4.95 | 12 ratings
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MILES DAVIS 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis) Album Cover 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis)
MILES DAVIS
4.85 | 26 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Miles Smiles Album Cover Miles Smiles
MILES DAVIS
4.83 | 28 ratings
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ALICE COLTRANE Ptah, the El Daoud Album Cover Ptah, the El Daoud
ALICE COLTRANE
4.84 | 22 ratings
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ERIC DOLPHY 'Out to Lunch!' Album Cover 'Out to Lunch!'
ERIC DOLPHY
4.77 | 39 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Giant Steps Album Cover Giant Steps
JOHN COLTRANE
4.77 | 44 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Get Up With It Album Cover Get Up With It
MILES DAVIS
4.81 | 20 ratings
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MILES DAVIS In a Silent Way Album Cover In a Silent Way
MILES DAVIS
4.74 | 78 ratings
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BILL EVANS (PIANO) Sunday at the Village Vanguard (aka Live At The Village Vanguard) Album Cover Sunday at the Village Vanguard (aka Live At The Village Vanguard)
BILL EVANS (PIANO)
4.90 | 10 ratings
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Blue Rain
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THOMAS CLAUSEN
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COURTNEY PINE
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Sun Moee
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SKYDIVE TRIO
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Roots
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TOMOKO OMURA
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MARK WADE
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PAUL DESMOND
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OMAR SOSA
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Eero Koivistoinen Quartet : Hati Hati
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EERO KOIVISTOINEN
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Condition Blue
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CORY WEEDS
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GRANT STEWART
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CURTIS NOWOSAD
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Owl Jacket
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Midwest
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MATHIAS EICK
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GIOVANNI GUIDI
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NICOLAS FOLMER
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Luminosa
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ANAT COHEN
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DANIEL HERSKEDAL
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THOMAS ENHCO
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DAVID REINHARDT
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TORE BRUNBORG
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NATE WOOLEY
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DAYNA STEPHENS
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ALEX SIPIAGIN
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MARIO PAVONE
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HIDEO ICHIKAWA
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ROMAIN COLLIN
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ATOMIC
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Sem Teu Amor
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ELIS REGINA
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SIGURÐUR FLOSASON
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MARK EGAN
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DOUG WEBB
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DAVID AKE
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CHAD MCCULLOUGH AND BRAM WEIJTERS QUARTET
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RON WESTRAY
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HARRIS EISENSTADT
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IZABELLA EFFENBERG
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Timely
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GLENN WILSON
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Take This!
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JACKY TERRASSON
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NILSON MATTA
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Close Enough For Love
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CALVIN KEYS
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Top Secret
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CHRIS CORTEZ
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JOEY CALDERAZZO
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The 2 Bass Band ... Live
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BILLY MINTZ
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STEVE GADD
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Insultc
EP
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RYAN TRUESDELL
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Astral Transference / Seven Dreams
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DANIEL ROSENBOOM
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Burning Bright
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TOM MCCLUNG
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Fala-Me de Amor
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ELIS REGINA
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Forever Is Now
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SONNY CLARK
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KIRK KNUFFKE
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DRKWAV
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VASSILIS PAPADOPOULOS
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ERNESTO CERVINI
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JOHN BUTCHER
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JENS FOSSUM
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CHAMBER 3
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MICHAEL WALDROP
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The Stillness Of Motion
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SCOTT HESSE
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LUCAS PINO
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GEORGE COLLIGAN
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CHARLES MCPHERSON
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MICHEL PETRUCCIANI
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ART HIRAHARA
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AZAR LAWRENCE
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SOFT MACHINE
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DUANE EUBANKS
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JACK DEJOHNETTE
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Live album
TUBBY HAYES
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So Many Things: The European Tour 1961
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JOHN COLTRANE
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KENNY WHEELER
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SIMAK DIALOG
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Worse For The Wear
Live album
BALLISTER
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Solo Live At Snugs
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ELLERY ESKELIN
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Roof Fool
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MICHEL WINTSCH
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MARCO VON ORELLI
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FRODE GJERSTAD
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TIGRAN HAMASYAN
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WOLFGANG HAFFNER
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MARIUS NESET
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MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING
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AARON GOLDBERG
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VINCENT PEIRANI
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RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA
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Aura
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RGG
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modern jazz Music Reviews

TONY MALABY Tony Malaby Tamarindo: Somos Agua

Album · 2014 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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snobb
It took quite a lot of time for me to find out my key to sax player Tony Malaby music, and that key was his Tamarindo project - a supertrio with bassist William Parker and drummer Nasheet Waits. Parker needs no introduction,he's a cult bassist leading his own projects for decades,one of my bass-hero of all times. Nasheet Waits is a New-Yorker who played in pianist Jason Moran's Bandwagon (fantastic band even if a bit too straight for my taste) where I saw him playing live a decade or so ago.

"Somos Aqua" is third Tamarindo album, all released on Portuguese Clean Feed. Power trio plays groovy dense progressive jazz with lots of experimental steps and tricks but never lost the track. Working as one unity,all three musicians demonstrate excellent balance between tunes and space,free and organized. Music is complex,running as river flows,changing every minute but very permanent in its continuity.

Malaby's sax sounds ascetic,often warm and lyrical, sometimes harsh. His power is not in loudness or emotive attacks,but in philosophical talking-like acuity,constant dialogue with bassist and drummer(can't call them rhythm section here - both Parker and Waits are equal soloists and creators on this album).

More concentrated and crystallized than on Malaby's works with bigger bands,Tamarindo's music is the place where his talent shows at its best. One among better advanced jazz albums coming from 2014.

ARCHIE SHEPP Archie Shepp Meets Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio ‎: Conversations

Album · 1999 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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snobb
Percussionist Kahil El'Zabar born in Chicago and studied music in University of Ghana.He was chairman of the AACM up to 1975 leading his early band Ethnic Heritage Ensemble.

From eighties Kahil runs his another project - Ritual(or Ritual Trio). More concept than stable line-up team, in different time in contained many known Chicagoan musicians,including Lester Bowie,Malachi Favors,Billy Bang and Pharoah Sanders among others.Ritual Trio released all series of albums starting from mid 80's, as rule on almost every album they have new guest musician presented.

Here on "Conversations" Ritual Trio are El'Zabar plus Art Ensemble Of Chicago's bassist Malachi Favors and sax player/pianist Ari Brown. The guest is tenor Archie Shepp (who occasionally plays piano here as well). Being one in a series of many for the Trio, this album is really significant recording for Shepp. Being a free jazz icon from mid 60s to early 70s,he never left the scene, but from late seventies for two decades his music was a sporadic collection of hard bop tunes released on tiny labels. It let Shepp to survive as active musician but not much left from his younger angry avantgardist image.

"Conversations" with Ritual Trio is Shepp's first album on major American label for more than two decades and ,what is more important,is first try to return back playing more adventurous music.Formally this recording is a tribute to bassist Fred Hopklns and AACM member who died in January of 1999.Recorded in Chicago's Riverside studio, this album contains all AACM was and is well known by: African ritual meditative rhythms,tuneful free improvisations,colorful arrangements and most important - that unique free jazz spirit. Being a tribute to passed away friend, music here is melancholic,even sad in moments,lyrical,but never sentimental or dark. In a tradition of Art Ensemble of Chicago quartet plays hymn to life first of all, with respect and commemoration to those who passed away. Percussionist-led band surprisingly didn't record very percussive or rhythmic music though - here is place for everyone,from lot of piano soloing(even if no musician on this album plays piano as first instrument)to liquid sax with some dissonance (as in Shepp's early years). There are even gospel-like vocals on "Brother Malcolm"(title,returning listener back to Shepp's late 60s again).

Music on "Conversations" doesn't open any new horizons - it just recalls and refreshes sound and atmosphere of free jazz great years and it's great to confirm it doesn't sound any retro-like or nostalgic.Released on the edge of the centuries,this album came a little too early to become noticed since wider wave of interest to free jazz (old and new)will come some years later. But for Shepp it became quite symbolic release anyway - starting from here he step by step will return to more adventurous jazz leaving decades of straight playing for being able to pay his bills in the past.

JERRY KALAF Welcome to Earth

Album · 2014 · Post Bop
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js
“Welcome to Earth” is the fourth CD from drummer, arranger and composer, Jerry Kalaf, and it finds him working with three different groups that provide somewhat similar styles of music. The three different groups include two piano trios, and one sextet. The overall style of all three groups is modern post bop, with a slight ECM styled contemporary sound on the sextet. All of the songs were composed by Kalaf, and they all feature smart abstract open structures that give the soloists room to build their statements. Bill Evans is definitely an influence on here, you might also hear traces of Brad Mehldau and Keith Jarret as well.

All three of the groups featured on here are good, but possibly the most interesting is the trio led by pianist Leonard Thompson. Leonard shows the Bill Evans influence, but also a little more rhythmic approach along the lines of Herbie Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child”. The sextet features Doug Walter on sax and Barry Coates on guitar, their cool approach recalls artists such as Jan Garbarek and Jim Hall. The other trio is led by pianist Rich Ruttenberg, and their playing leans a bit towards a post bop/art pop crossover as they turn in a couple of melodic ballads.

The overall sound of “Welcome to Earth” leans toward the ‘cool’ side of things, with the Leonard Thompson trio being the most heated of the three groups. If there is one small complaint with this CD, it has to do with the volume mix. If I did not already know that this was the drummer’s CD, I would have been able to guess, because Kalaf is up just a tad too high in the mix. It’s a small matter, and I suppose if you were a fan of Kalaf’s subtle percussion work, you may want to hear every little nuance. Overall, this is a solid CD for fans of post bop, but for my money, I wouldn’t mind hearing a whole CD with just the Leonard Thompson group.

SONNY ROLLINS Saxophone Colossus

Album · 1957 · Hard Bop
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siLLy puPPy
To clarify the confusion of this album that seems to have different info with every source i encounter, it was recorded on 22 June 1956 and released in April 1957 and the excellent Rudy Van Gelder remaster finding its way onto the market in 2005. SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS is without a doubt the most revered album released by SONNY ROLLINS with the leading track “St. Thomas” being one of the most celebrated jazz standards of not only the 50s hard bop scene but of all jazz history. Although the track was a traditional calypso number, SONNY literally jazzed it up to make a classic of the ages.

This album finds many a jazz veteran lending a hand and an ear to the process. SONNY ROLLINS, of course, is the star here with his masterful melodic tenor saxophone, but we also get Tommy Flanagan on piano, Doug Watkins on bass and the inimitable Max Roach handling drum duties. By definition, hard bop incorporates everything from R&B and gospel music to the blues and beyond and this album is a great example of these mixings and commingling of styles.

The saxophone and piano are obvious contenders here but the beauty of this album is how well every musician on board weaves his magic around the cohesive whole. While jazz ballads can be a point of contention in my world, i must admit that “You Don’t Know What Love Is” comes across as a tender yet intricately beautiful piece of work that straddles the pop world’s sensibilities while keeping the jazzy touches as the dominant feature.

This is music well before my time but it has a sense of timelessness to it. I was particularly surprised to hear “Moritat” which is a jazz interpretation of a song composed by Kurt Weil originally titled “Mack The Knife” or in German “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” which was in The Threepenny Opera which originated at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin in 1928. While the original had lyrics and was a product of its time SONNY deftly tackles the vocal parts on his sizzling sax and retains the spirit of the original without sacrificing the hard bop sensibilities of the time of release.

“Blue” which is a ROLLINS written original is another satisfying track. It delivers all the beauty of a blues standard with all the jazz touches as the icing on the cake. Somehow these four guys keep the whole thing sounding like a blues song even when they break into clear jazz territory of syncopated drum solos and the like. Very impressive.

This was a grower indeed. While feeling underwhelmed upon first encounter i have really grown to like SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS a lot and understand the hype behind its majesty. While not fluent in ROLLINS’ massive discography, i as an abecedarian of his music, can gleefully advocate recommending this album as the perfect introduction into his hard bop and beyond universe. While it’s true that in the 50s jazz appears a little incestuous with every musician at one time playing on someone else’s albums just like marriages in a TV soap opera, on this particular occasion the stars aligned for all involved and a veritable masterpiece was born.

AKIRA SAKATA Akira Sakata & Giovanni Di Domenico: Iruman

Album · 2014 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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snobb
Japanese sax player Akira Sakata born near Hiroshima in 1945.After university studies in marine biology, he switched towards jazz artist's career becoming a part of Japanese explosive free-jazz scene in late 60s.Akira still evidenced best time of this genre in Japan,but in fact since free jazz popularity declined drastically during seventies, he was late just a moment to become a star.From 1972 to 1979 he was a member of well-known Yosuke Yamashita Trio,in 80s he played with Last Exit; Bill Laswell became his albums producer (incl. "Fisherman's.com" with former Miles Davis guitarist Pete Cosey). Still last decades of XX century weren't all that productive and successful for Sakata.

During first decade Sakata became much more popular again, partially on wave of reborn interest to free improvisation in Europe. Here on "Iruman"(Japanese word of Portuguese origin,which came to Japan with Jesuits in 16 century and in original (“irmão”) meaning “brother”) Akira plays duo with twice younger Italian pianist Giovanni Di Domenico,his first duo with pianist ever. Giovanni Di Domenico grew up in Cameroon and plays free improvisations(more often) and classic compositions, sometimes African music-influenced.

Recorded in Tokyo,this album contains mostly free-improvised music,but of quite unusual kind.Sakata,who in his younger years has been known by quite explosive screaming sax attacks,is much subtle here. His playing is often meditative, philosophical and combines Japanese and European classic tradition (in moments he sounds similar to Jimmy Guiffre).Akira sings on few songs (instead of playing sax) as well, surprisingly his Japanese tradition-influenced vocalize fits well and adds lot of additional charm to whole music. Di Domenico plays very free form piano miniatures,but well-structured,tuneful and lyrical - listen to separate fragments often reminds European chamber piano recital,in moments warn,sometimes almost polished.

Probably looking as bag full of unrelated components on paper,all these elements mixed both together work surprisingly well. Album sounds quite easy-listenable,non-boring and attractive. Not all music is of the same level, there are some moments where happens almost nothing,but in whole "Iruman" is the album, interesting not only for fan of Akira Sakata or free improvisations.

modern jazz movie reviews

WEATHER REPORT Live in Germany 1971

Movie · 2010 · Classic Fusion
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Sean Trane
Well if the world still has to find some live recording from the very first studio all-star line-up (not likely, though), at least we've got now something very close to and we can even see the quintet at work with this just-as-famous version in the form of a German TV show called the Beat Club. With only Airto Moreira gone, replaced by Brazilian countryman Um Romao, the other four being Vitous, Shorter, Mouzon and Zawinul, Weather Report embarked on this TV show adventure not knowing that Alphonse Mouzon would leave the band in a while.

As you'd expect this broadcast consisted mainly of tracks from the debut album, but some are fairly different as WR always made improvisation their force. So you'll recognize 'Umbrellas generic structure, but drafted fairly differently, not just because of Romao's constant change of percussions instruments - he's one of the visual focus of the group, who otherwise remains fairly static and even blows a flute (and later some whistles) for a short while. One of the big difference between the studio album and this broadcast is that Miroslav has taken up the electric bass (his contrabass is still very present but mainly played with a bow), thus allowing even more energy to invade the quintet's shared space. The group's steaming-hot improvised fusion is simply awesome and flows naturally from your speakers like a river of fresh lave spewing out from your volcanic woofers.

Clearly the gravitational centre of the band is Zawinul's Rhodes, but it is clear that it is the group's tightness its main force. Morning Lake is much needed breathing space, starting out slowly with Shorter's sax signalling the dawn for Romao's birdsongs. Just past that Dom pulls an Brazilian berimbau . Drummer Alphonse sings funkilly (rather well, too) a rare sung track in the closing medley, but it's will veer into the Dr Honoris Causa - later on the Body Electric album.

A while later, Mouzon would leave the band and be replaced by drummer Erik Gravatt and this line-up would go on to record Body Electric and the Tokyo concert (released in 77, but part of it in the ISTBE album) and in the process become the definitive line-up of the Vitous- era Weather Report But for now, this German TV broadcast is an inestimable witness of the group's almost original line-up, and is just as essential as their debut album, the Tokyo concert or Body Electric.Too bad it's relatively short, though. Run for this baby...

MEDESKI MARTIN AND WOOD Fly In A Bottle

Movie · 2011 · (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion
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js
“Fly in a Bottle” is a documentary that follows Medeski, Martin and Wood while they are on tour developing the music that will become “Radiolarians”, as well as some of the recording sessions for that same album. The music on here is excellent, MM&W have a come a long way over the years. They were always a talented band from the start, but their confidence has grown. The funky tunes are funkier than ever, and the psychedelic jazz-rock tunes are more powerful, imaginative and original. Almost any music fan might enjoy watching their concerts and even some of their recording sessions, but a lot of the rest of this DVD is for hardcore fans only.

Along with the footage of MM&W playing music, you also get a lot of footage of them on tour visiting ecological tourist spots and talking, hanging out etc, which is where I think a lot of non-fans will probably start losing interest. They seem like nice sincere guys, but they aren’t particularly entertaining or charismatic, which is often the case with nice sincere guys. There are also some artsy short videos that follow the main feature, some more entertaining than others. Fans of MM&W may want to pick this up, it’s a well-made video and the music is excellent, but non-fans may find this lacking in substance in places.

DIXIE DREGS Live At The Montreaux Jazz Festival

Movie · 2005 · Classic Fusion
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Slartibartfast
This was the Dixie Dregs lineup that I first come to know live and otherwise. The Montreaux Jazz Festival performance was used for side two of the LP Night of the Living Dregs. I had no idea the concert was filmed. This represents the band at their prime. Keyboardist Mark Parrish, would soon be replaced by T Lavitz, who is a better keyboard player, but this as this performance testifies, he was no slouch either. Oddly enough, the back cover of this DVD shows a band picture with the original keyboardist from Freefall, Steve Davidowski (guess there was only room for one Steve in this band). Steve Morse was at his most inspired around this time, even though he has certainly grown in skill over the years.

The set list is a little disappointing as it lacks some of the prime cuts from What If (Night Meets Light, Odyssey, Travel Tunes, What If), but I'm not complaining. Now I have something more than just memories of the many Dregs shows I saw back then. It is more of a forward looking set which includes Attila The Hun, that didn't show up on an album until three years later. Also of note, but of less interest to progressive rock fans, is the bluegrass style ditty, Kathreen, never released on a regular album, but only showed up on their demo album, The Great Spectacular, from 1975. If you have a copy of that album, you have something rare, indeed.

Thrown in for bonus are two live TV appearances, one on American Can'tstand (Bandstand) and one on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. On the former, you get to see them both try out a vocalist, in an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and with Mark O'Connor, who only played with them for one album, but a few great live shows before the band disbanded for a few years.

As great as the band studio albums were, the live shows took things to an even higher level. Now you can see what you missed, unless you didn't.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Abstract Logix Live! / The New Universe Music Festival 2010

Movie · 2011 · Classic Fusion
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js
Abstract Logix’s New Universe Festival of 2010 was probably one of the more significant fusion concerts in recent history, and it is all captured in excellent form on this concert video. Many of the top names in current fusion are here and what a great varied and colorful approach they all bring to this music that will always be associated with its 70s roots. Ranjit Barot fuses fusion with Indian flavors and orchestral music, Human Element bring back the beautiful noise and chaos that has been absent since the early days of jazz-rock, Wayne Krantz takes on the modern NYC flavor with his harsh jarring free funk, Jimmy Herring plays sentimental, sometimes delicate, progressive rock flavored fusion, and of course the great John McLaughlin rounds it all up with high speed post bop mixed with funk and contemporary fusion. Every single performance is top notch and very convincing in letting us know that there is still plenty of life left in this sometimes maligned genre.

The music on here is great, but the video itself is even better. Its amazing how far concert videos have come over the years. This one is clear as a bell and features lots of accurate close-ups of the musicians as they display their virtuoso skills. They say that fusion is a musician’s music, if that is the case, then this video is a great learning tool for the aspiring player. Much of the footage on here goes right to the source and features the musician’s hands as they work their scales and fret boards. Any aspiring fusionist can pick up a lifetime of high speed licks and extended technique by studying this video and even stop-starting it it frame by frame. Long gone are the days of vague camera angles from way far away and pointless shots of musicians grimacing while they play, this video is all about accuracy and showing you exactly how this music goes down. This is a spirited and enthusiastic concert and highly recommended for fans of modern fusion.

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Live At Montreux 74/84

Movie · 2007 · Classic Fusion
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Slartibartfast
The 1984 appearance of the MO was a lineup that didn't have any of the previous MO lineup of musicians except for John. Still there was a pretty impressive roster. Jonas Hellborg, on bass, steals the show. I suspect he's been rather influenced by Jaco at this point. Also, we also have Bill Evans, fairly fresh out of his stint saxing with Miles Davis. There's also a fine drummer, Danny Gottlieb, who'd played with Pat Metheny prior. Don't know much about Mitchell Forman. With John experimenting with the Synclavier Guitar so much, the keyboards are almost redundant in this ensemble. I had a hard time sitting through this at first. It definitely has that '80's taint, if you know what I mean. But I've warmed up to it. It's a bit like an attempt to return to the magic of the original lineup that doesn't quite get there. Still, if you judge it in the context of the time, it's not too bad.

I got this for one reason and one reason only, it was the two video bits from the Apocalypse lineup of Mahavishu Orchestra. Actually calling them bits isn't quite accurate. Wings of Karma and Hymn to Him are actually decently long pieces. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had some actual orchestra musicians with them there at Montreaux. The first inkling I got that there was some live footage from this MO lineup was a poor quality video of Smile of the Beyond on a certain video clip web site many of us know of. It's very disappointing that we only get two clips from the show with video and the rest are audio only. I'm guessing the rest of the original footage has been lost. One can only hope that it will resurface. The performance is a bit more structured than the more compact MO's could be live, but that's to be expected due to the larger number of musician's involved. Still the core band does get to work in some improvisation, McLaughlin in particular.

This release is all in all a pleasant surprise for 2007, but there's more video out there from the older Mahavishu Orchestras, and I hope to see that material surface soon. It gets a four on the round up.

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