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JOHN COLTRANE A Love Supreme Album Cover A Love Supreme
JOHN COLTRANE
4.83 | 98 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Kind of Blue Album Cover Kind of Blue
MILES DAVIS
4.82 | 131 ratings
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BILL EVANS (PIANO) Waltz for Debby Album Cover Waltz for Debby
BILL EVANS (PIANO)
4.93 | 15 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)
4.87 | 17 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
4.78 | 71 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK V.S.O.P.:Tempest in the Colosseum Album Cover V.S.O.P.:Tempest in the Colosseum
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.97 | 8 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Blue Train Album Cover Blue Train
JOHN COLTRANE
4.75 | 63 ratings
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WES MONTGOMERY The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery Album Cover The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery
WES MONTGOMERY
4.87 | 12 ratings
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ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.) Live in Hamburg Album Cover Live in Hamburg
ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.)
4.94 | 8 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE My Favorite Things Album Cover My Favorite Things
JOHN COLTRANE
4.72 | 55 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Live at Birdland Album Cover Live at Birdland
JOHN COLTRANE
4.81 | 15 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT The Köln Concert Album Cover The Köln Concert
KEITH JARRETT
4.74 | 33 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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modern jazz Music Reviews

ROY HARGROVE Roy Hargrove/Christian McBride/Stephen Scott Trio : Parker's Mood

Album · 1995 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
DRUMMERLESS YET TIMELESS

This trio album was first announced to the world in the September 1995 issue of DownBeat, in a cover story with Roy Hargrove and Kenny Garrett. Naturally, it was one of those "young lions of jazz" stories that mentioned Parker's Mood would be released to celebrate Charlie Parker's 75th birthday. While the three performers (Hargrove, trumpet, Christian McBride, bass, and Stephen Scott, piano) would all move on quickly to other projects, and while there is a multitude of Bird tribute albums out there, this one is different and deserves to be heard again and again.

First, look at the track listing. While many people have covered "Yardbird Suite", "Parker's Mood", "Steeplechase", and even "Dewey Square" (I'm thinking of you, Mr. Redman) over the years, these three really dug deep into the Parker catalog for material. Heard any versions of "Laird Baird" recently? How about "Cardboard" or "Bongo Beep"? The opener "Klactoveedsedsteen" is an almost unknown masterpiece of bebop writing that, were there any sensitivity toward such things in the world today, this recording would have restored to rightful prominence. (Of course, the song's title alone has probably scared off most of the potential audience.) For those who want to investigate further, the CD booklet lists the original Parker recordings with dates and record labels.

Then there's the performances. Did I tell you these guys are awe-inspiring? Of the 16 tracks, 10 include the whole trio, including a speedy version of "Marmaduke", a poignant "Laura", a driven "Dexterity", and the Latin swing of "Repetition". The three duets are "Yardbird Suite" for trumpet and piano, "Laird Baird" for piano and bass (McBride's playing is unreal here), and "Chasin' the Bird" for trumpet and bass. And of course, everyone receives a solo spotlight: Hargrove on "Dewey Square", a blistering "Red Cross" by McBride, and Scott's freeish read of "April in Paris". The trio's closing "Star Eyes" will remain in your mind long after it's over.

The players address the challenges associated with playing these songs without a drummer in the liner notes, and the end results exceed everyone's expectations. That's to say nothing about not including an alto sax, but the compositions prove to be durable enough to handle these unique arrangements, which of course is the biggest tribute of all. The total program lasts 64:37, but flies by in seemingly 1/10th of that time. In spite of the seriousness of purpose, a good time was clearly had by all. Parker's Mood is highly recommended to both Bird acolytes as well as those who have not yet heard how powerful and far ahead of their time these compositions are.

CHELSEA CARMICHAEL The River Doesn’t Like Strangers

Album · 2021 · African Fusion
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snobb
Chelsea Carmichael is a Manchester-born and London-based tenor saxophonist who plays with such leaders of the modern London jazz scene as SEED Ensemble, Theon Cross and Joe-Armon Jones (and - as a part of Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra if you're less familiar with nowadays London's jazz scene). Still, the biggest influence on her debut's music comes from the album's producer and the London scene's leading cult personality, Shabaka Hutchings.

Soulful and dubby Jamaican spiritual jazz, often associated with different Hutchings' projects, is easily recognizable here. It wouldn't be a mistake to say that "The River Doesn’t Like Strangers" sounds like it has been recorded by a female version Shabaka Hutchings. Whereas Shabaka likes marching rhythms and attacking tempos, Chelsea plays slower, softer and and with more nuances.

"The River Doesn’t Like Strangers" is not battle hymns of Caribbean immigrants of Shepherds Bush and Peckham, it's more spiritual songs with strong reggae roots. On support, Chelsea has Sons Of Kemmet drummer Edward Wakili-Hick, Polar Bear bassist Tom Herbert and The Invisible guitarist Austria-born David Okumu. This strong band plays moody and catchy danceable music, really great at their best moments.

True, as with many of Shabaka's own albums, the music sometimes loses its direction or simply remains repeating rhythmic loops. Not a big fault for something that sounds like a ritualist soundtrack though. Strong debut on its own right, "The River..." makes one feel really curious what Chelsea will offer next.

MATT GORDY Be With Me

Album · 2022 · Post Bop
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js
Some jazz albums impress us with their extreme heat and energy, while there are others that go a different route and impress with how carefully everything is placed and just how ‘right’ the album sounds. Miles’ “Birth of the Cool” and Herbie’s “Speak Like a Child” are two albums that come to mind where everything just seems to fit and nothing extra is needed. Matt Gordy’s new album, “Be With Me” is another one of those albums where the players practice good taste and interplay and present music that hits a perfect balance. “Be With Me” also bears a resemblance to the other two albums in that it features a three piece horn section that adds colors to arrangements, much like a miniature big band. Matt is a drummer, but he also has classical level skills on the piano which he uses in arranging his tunes. Gordy is an in demand session drummer on the west coast so he rarely records as a leader, in fact this is his first album as a leader in over 20 years.

One of the best cuts happens at the very beginning as the band digs into the bebop of “Topsy”. This number is from the Count Basie songbook and its slinky noire chord changes recall the whole Basie/Ellington era, only played with a modern sensibility. There are more tracks on here that carry that minor key classic urban jazz-noire vibe, one of the best is the band’s excellent arrangement of Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes”, which references and quotes from the McCoy Tyner version of this well known song. Another top track is the Gordy original, “Camouflage”, which has pianist Alan Pasqua spinning an interesting and economical solo while backed by the horn arrangements. Once again, I am reminded of the aforementioned Herbie Hancock album. All of the soloists on here are excellent, but I think its Pasqua who really gets the flavor of this album and never gives into needless flash or histrionics. Two tracks feature vocalist Sherry Williams, who does a great job on "Sunny" and the original, "Be With Me". This is a great album for jazz fans, but because of its careful focus, it is also one of those albums that could appeal to those who don’t normally dig the jazz scene.

EDDIE HARRIS Silver Cycles

Album · 1969 · Soul Jazz
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js
Eddie Harris built a solid reputation early in his career as someone who could turn out catchy soul jazz numbers that did well on Black radio stations. As he headed into the late 60s, Eddie, like so many others in the music world, felt a desire to branch out and experiment more. This desire to try new things came to fruition on Harris’s 1969 album, “Silver Cycles”. On this LP, Eddie established a new norm that would go on to mark much of the rest of his career as a tireless eclectic experimenter who was adept at many musical genres.

“Silver Cycles” opens with two excellent funky soul jazz workouts that I would imagine his record company insisted on placing first so that his long time fans would find what they were expecting. On third track, “Smoke Signals”, Eddie signals a definite left hand turn as this mysterious number paints an exotic atmosphere with wordless vocals and echoed saxophone lines. All through out this album Harris makes use of an Echoplex and also sometimes replaces his acoustic sax with the odd sounding electric sax. Side one closes out with, “Coltrane’s View”, which resembles “Naima”, and a sublime big band power ballade called “I’m Gonna Leave You by Yourself”. This last track is worth the cost of the entire album and one of the best songs of Harris’ lengthy career.

Side two is the more experimental side and features a lot of Eddie playing the saxophone by himself and building overlapping lines with his echo machine. His various rhythm sections (there are many guests on here) provide psychedelic fusion over drive on “Little Bit”, and insanely up tempo avant-garde bebop on “Infrapolations”, which bears some resemblance to “Giant Steps”. Musically “Silver Cycles” compares well to other experimental fusion records of the era from folks like Miles and Herbie, so why isn’t this album a well-known fusion classic? A couple things work against this album, the two colors only album cover looks cheap like a bargain bin album, and yes, Eddie’s albums tended to hit the bargain bin often and he seems to always have a cheap looking album cover. Another problem is the production, this album just sounds kind of flat in a way, but from a purely musical perspective, “Silver Cycles” is a gem in the late 60s world of psychedelic fusion.

MILES DAVIS Blue Moods

Album · 1955 · Cool Jazz
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as1978
The only release for Charles Mingus 'Debut "Blue Moods" is Miles Davis' second LP 12 "and was recorded on July 9, 1955 and released the same year. The style is Cool Jazz, which is a very relaxed and relaxing Jazz more pushed towards the listener than to demonstrate skills and complicated and, in some cases, incomprehensible solos, typical of other forms of Jazz. One of the things to note about "Blue Moods" is the fact that none of the musicians who join Miles Davis on this album are true Cool Jazz experts and, admittedly, this fact can hear it. In fact it is precisely this having to adapt to a genre that is not really that makes "Blue Moods" really explosive and that still makes it fresh and engaging today.

Musically "Blue Moods" consists of four tracks arranged by Teddy Charles (except "Alone Together" which is arranged by Charles Mingus, who also produces the album). As mentioned "Blue Moods" is made up of very relaxed compositions which are easy to listen to and which feature great work by the band and not by a soloist or group of soloists. I don't see it as a Miles Davis album but a band where Miles Davis is the head of operations.

"Blue Moods" is an album, therefore, also suitable for those who are not an expert in Jazz but are looking only for a relaxed and relaxing music and do not want the complexity of certain Jazz. And, because it is the truth, it would have in front of it an authentic masterpiece for how fresh and engaging it is still.

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WEATHER REPORT Live in Germany 1971

Movie · 2010 · 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 · 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 · 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 · 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 · 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.

Artists with Modern Jazz release(s)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
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Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
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The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
CHARLES MINGUS
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Blue Train Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
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My Favorite Things Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
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No Questions, No Answers Avant-Garde Jazz
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