Modern Jazz

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Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm

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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SONNY ROLLINS Saxophone Colossus Album Cover Saxophone Colossus
SONNY ROLLINS
4.81 | 20 ratings
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modern jazz Music Reviews

TERUMASA HINO Alone Together

Album · 1970 · Classic Fusion
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snobb
One of the leading Japanese trumpeter Terumasa Hino (often titled "Japanese Miles Davis")differently from many co-patriots started his musical career not from short-lived but extremely popular free-jazz of late 60s.His first recordings were all hard bop (including album release in US in 1968 - quite a rare case for the time). In early 70s his music became heavily influenced by Miles Davis first fusion works.

"Alone Together" is one of Terumasa's five studio albums, released in 1970 (very successful year for Hino). Three long compositions (between nine and almost eighteen minutes long)represent very eclectic proto-fusion, kind of Davis "Miles In The Sky", but freer and more kaleidoscopic version.

If Miles genres evolution often being revolutionary has strong systematic logic, Terumasa's music here sounds more like chaotic bag full of colored glasses. Bassist Richard Davis (who played on Dolphy's "Out To Lunch!")is deeply hard-bop rooted musician who doesn't afraid playing free though. Pianist Harold Mabern is more comfortable with post-bop or even soul jazz, sax player Steve Grossman is Miles Davis fusion band's musician of the time. Terumasa's brother Motohiko Hino,who is generally great drummer,on this album is another destructive factor,blasting heavy rock-influenced strokes as he would be a God of thunder. This far not subtle drumming is stated in a front of sound mix what is most probably a fashion of the day but it often destroys initial beauty of musical pieces.

Changing styles from fusion to hard-bop to free to post-bop and closing fusion again on same long composition doesn't work all that well. Separate few minutes parts are often quite great if not too original, but chaotic travel over the genres builds potpourri-like feeling in moments. It should be noticed that Terumasa playing itself is quite great, he's less passionate trumpeter than Davis,but freer what let him find his own accents. Still all band of skilled but too different musicians where almost each member sees his mission a bit different from the rest of team, sounds undirected. Still enthusiastic atmosphere of that time and Terumasa's strong playing save music from being uninteresting or boring.

After few months Terumasa Hino will step to his next, even more adventurous period, playing freer and more advanced music, "Alone Together" stays his transitional work still interesting for his fans and probably for listeners who enjoy Japanese jazz from early 70s.

AARON GOLDBERG The Now

Album · 2015 · Post Bop
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Matt
Aaron Goldberg first came to my attention in the year 2000 when he was supporting Joshua Redman on his current tour throughout that period. At that time Aaron had released his first album “Turning Point” with his follow up “Unfolding” having already been recorded and coming out within a few months. With another two albums that have since followed we have finally arrived at his fifth release “The Now” with his old cohorts in music Ruben Rogers on Bass and Eric Harland drumming who have both been with him since the beginning of his recorded output and comprise what basically could be termed as Aaron’s Trio these days. Post Bop, Brazilian, Haitian, a Charlie Parker cover with Aaron’s original compositions bring a wonderful diversity to the albums make up and content with plenty for the Trio to work around with a mix of tempos and melodies.

Aaron choose the Chico Buarque composition, “Trocando Em Miudos” for the album’s opening comprising a beautiful relaxed take with the number and less relaxation of course if you are Aaron who brings this up within his solo with that gradual increase in notes and speed to almost the highest point but that old Jazz art of landing back on that tunes theme is right there. We are heading to Haiti with the next “Yoyo” with Ruben and Eric opening the number with the rhythm and Aaron’s piano providing some wonderful input and lead over this lively number. Kudos must go the rhythm section of Ruben and Eric with both keeping the rhythm of the composition’s Haitian feel at the beginning and end when so often in other Jazz recordings the compositions can become lost of their original sound. The ballad, “The Wind In The Night” follows with plenty of space provided between each piano key and with the exquisite backing from Ruben and Eric you might be excused if one walked in to hear, “Bill Evans”? The diversity keeps coming throughout the ten album tracks with the short modern composition of Aaron’s named “E-Land”. That Charlie Parker sprite appears instantly with “Perhaps” and the lovely Brazilian ballad , “Triste Baia da Guanabara” follows. “Background Music” by Wayne Marsh must have originated from a very fast world with its great up tempo timing. “One’s A Crowd” as the notes’ state “Even when you’re alone you’re not. What is this you anyway”? with the band all having an input for solos within this contradictory set up at time within Aaron’s composition. The dedicated “One Life” closes the album with Kurt Rosenwinkel guesting on guitar and one could be excused if mistaken for a flute with the stunning sound he produces. The composition is dedicated to a married couple that Aaron met who had lost their teenage daughter, let’s hope that a small amount of relief is brought to them.

Gets better with every time I hear this and that old phrase that I have used so often applies, “something new to hear with each play” . Highly recommended new release. If you are interested Aaron signed the cover of Joshua Redman’s “Beyond” album on the 2/28/00 which he dated luckily for me on that wonderful evening of Jazz at the now defunct “Continental Club” in Melbourne Australia. Also got Ruben Roger’s whilst he was there.

WADADA LEO SMITH Wadada Leo Smith & Bill Laswell ‎: The Stone

Live album · 2014 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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snobb
One of Chicago avant-garde jazz icon, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) early member (from 1967),composer & musical theorist,trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith during last decade enjoys exclusive attention from advanced jazz and contemporary music fans. Only during last five years he released twelve new albums(including three double and one 4xCD set),all of good or excellent quality. His last year's "Great Lakes Suites"(TUM Records) is one of most often mentioned advanced albums in all possible 2014 year's top lists.

Bassist,sound experimenter and producer Bill Laswell is not less known person in the world of adventurous music. He is one of most respectable musicians in the field of jazz / improvisation related dub, has long lasting history collaborating with John Zorn and other New York down town leading artists.

Smith/Laswell live duo album, recorded during Laswell's residence in New York's The Stone in 2014,can easily slip unnoticed even by attentive fans since it's released as digital file only on Laswell's own M.O.D. Technologies label. It would be a real loss since it contains really great music.

Quite surprisingly for music,recorded and produced by Laswell, this one 38-minutes long composition doesn't contain many electronics and recording studio technological tricks.What we have here is liquid dark Laswell ambient bass pulsation and Wadada's fantastic trumpet piercing over it. Music is dark but far not depressive, even spacious, and all long musical piece somehow recalls Wadada's "The Great Lakes Suite". Same nature's monumental greatness, same almost pathetic simplicity,just in more minimalist form.For my great surprise two excellent but very different artists sound absolutely organic here presenting gorgeous music which is accessible and have a high lasting impact.

This release should not be missed by anyone who enjoyed Wadada's "Suites..." as well as anyone,interested in modern cross-genre advanced music.

DEXTER JOHNSON Dexter Johnson & Le Super Star de Dakar : Live À l’Étoile

Live album · 2014 · World Fusion
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Matt
Dexter Johnson was born in Nigeria in 1932 and at the age of 25 in 1957 after a brief stint in Bamako, Mali, arrived in Dakar, Senegal. He was a percussionist at the beginning but changed to saxophone after studying music for two years in Nigeria. Afro Cuban or Son was his repertoire primarily and his music resonated with these rhythms throughout his musical career as this album, “Live a` l’Etoile” beautifully demonstrates. The band, Le Super Star of Dakar were called prior to this throughout most of the sixties just, Star Band of Dakar with Laba Sosseh on vocals who had not long left prior to this recording. The band had also dropped the trumpet in it’s make up and there is no piano which is replaced with two guitars with the addition of electric bass, timbales, percussion and four vocalists with coro duties shared amongst them when not singing lead bringing a distinct African sound and influence within the Afro Cuban rhythms incorporated in the album’s songs. Yes, it has that beautiful sleaze included or more of a slight slow drag within, which only the West Africans during this time period perfected within their sound due to the bands different line up to a typical Cuban Conjunto.

The record which has been released comes as a double album with 13 songs included with the Mexican film classic “Angelitos Negros” opening with Dexter on saxophone over a slow rhythm during the song using two vocalists that share lead duties with a beautifully slow picked electric lead following. The tempo picks up for “Para Que Bueno” with a great solo and input from Dexter’s alto included with a wonderful catchy montuno for the songs ending with Dexter also darting in and out on his horn between the coros. “Mayeya” that follows is a lovely rural Cuban style number with some stunning electric guitar input. The rest of the album keeps up this high standard right throughout with even an English number thrown in “Something You Got” but it is the sleaze with the slower tempo songs that stand out for that unique sound that came from these West African Bands during this period with “Caminho de Sao Tome” and the beautiful “El Corazon” containing Dexter’s dreamy stunning saxophone being prime examples. There are wonderful up tempo numbers included such as “Borinquen Tropical” and “Malonga” with many others that you may consider personally better as there is not a poor track contained within the album’s entire thirteen songs.

One feels like you have just opened an old time capsule when the needle hits the groove as the sound is not pristine but one that represents the sounds from this period with some of its limitations and I myself would have it no other way as that is how I have grown and love to hear old African music. Sublime is only word that I can find to describe this release as we have not had some fresh old African music come out in quite a while. Great job from Teranga Beat label who have also released quite a few others from this great period in African Music. Very Highly recommended for old music lovers like myself.

The Star band went on to produce in the seventies through its members, Orchestra Baobab, Papa Seck (Africando), Nicholas Menheim ( Africando) and the most famous of them all Youssou N’Dour but these old Afro Cuban rhythms they played would be gradually replaced by Mbalax. Still Dexter Johnson stayed Afro Cuban right till the end in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) , 1981.

IZABELLA EFFENBERG Cuéntame

Album · 2015 · Nu Jazz
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lucas
Izabella Effenberg comes from Poland. She lives in Germany. The title of her very first album is in Spanish. A few lyrics are in English and Hebrew. Which leads to the conclusion that a strong multi-cultural scent perfumes her life and her musical world. The lady plays vibraphone, an instrument that was brought to the fore in jazz by Lionel Hampton, and in rock by Ruth Underwood. The plain fact that Izabella is the first Polish woman to make a professional use of the instrument reminds us how rare it is in music in general. On 'Cuéntame', the Polish vibraphonist is backed by a team of skilled German musicians, and this first effort is the opportunity for her to highlight her talent not only as an interpreter, but also as a composer.

The musical world unfolds in a quite versatile way actually In fact, joyfulness (embodied by sunny and rhythmic numbers) alternates with melancholy (when the brooding incantations of Israeli vocalist Efrat Alony are set to a reflective accompaniment). Where the "Fuga" and "Nocturne 2" present the flamboyance of pieces of Baroque era, especially in the solemn notes escaping from vibraphone and saxophone, it's rather a wind of humour that blows on the other "happy" tunes. First, with "El Vaive Del Verdes" and "Raton Chacha", drums gallop down a sloppy road, while the two saxophones play amused notes without paying much attention to each other (they tried to discipline themselves on the groovy opening track, but it didn't last long!). Then, when the closing piece "III. Teil Three Pictures" comes, drums are all excited, like a dog seeing his master back home after a long day spent alone. On the other hand, and quite conversely, a haunting atmosphere envelops "Crescent Moon" and "Cuéntame", when the slow and mournful wind instruments (clarinet and saxophone respectively) move like in a funeral march, while the plaintive voices share their fears and pains. On "Like A Child", it's the drumming that evokes the funeral march, Izabella contributing this time also to the sad ambiance by rubbing a bow on the pads of her vibraphone. All along the album, the Polish musician stays moderate in her use of vibraphone, far from the exoticism of Dave Samuels, yet close to the syncopation of Bobby Hutcherson. Another rarely heard instrument, the chromatic harp, lends its delicate and pondering touches to the elegant musical canvas. It sounds in turn like an introspective spanish guitar ("Like A Child") and a shining kora ("El Vaive Del Verdes").

All in all, 'Cuéntame' is a pleasant collection of jazz-oriented pieces, where colours are in turn vivid and faded, yet always brilliantly laid out on the pictures. Let's hope that it's the beginning of a great career for the very first female vibraphonist coming out of Poland.

This review is also available on Prog Sphere webpage: http://www.prog-sphere.com/reviews/izabella-effenberg-cuentame/

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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