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THELONIOUS MONK Monk's Music Album Cover Monk's Music
THELONIOUS MONK
4.90 | 10 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall Album Cover With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
THELONIOUS MONK
4.98 | 5 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Come Dance With Me! (with Billy May And His Orchestra) Album Cover Come Dance With Me! (with Billy May And His Orchestra)
FRANK SINATRA
4.91 | 6 ratings
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STAN KENTON Adventures in Jazz Album Cover Adventures in Jazz
STAN KENTON
4.99 | 3 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Brilliant Corners Album Cover Brilliant Corners
THELONIOUS MONK
4.80 | 9 ratings
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CHARLIE PARKER Bird And Diz (aka The Genius Of Charlie Parker #4 aka Une Rencontre Historique) Album Cover Bird And Diz (aka The Genius Of Charlie Parker #4 aka Une Rencontre Historique)
CHARLIE PARKER
4.98 | 3 ratings
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STAN KENTON Kenton in HI-FI Album Cover Kenton in HI-FI
STAN KENTON
4.98 | 3 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Watertown Album Cover Watertown
FRANK SINATRA
4.91 | 4 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Monk's Dream Album Cover Monk's Dream
THELONIOUS MONK
4.79 | 9 ratings
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LOUIS ARMSTRONG Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy Album Cover Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy
LOUIS ARMSTRONG
4.95 | 3 ratings
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JOE PASS Virtuoso Album Cover Virtuoso
JOE PASS
4.93 | 3 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Miles Davis All Star Sextet (aka Walkin') Album Cover Miles Davis All Star Sextet (aka Walkin')
MILES DAVIS
4.77 | 7 ratings
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traditional jazz Music Reviews

QUINCY JONES The Great Wide World Of Quincy Jones: Live!

Live album · 1984 · Big Band
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js
“The Great Wide World of Quincy Jones Live” is a recording of Jones’ big band live on tour in Zurich Switzerland on March 10, 1961, but it was not released until the mid-80s. This is one of Jones’ last recordings as a full-time jazz musician and big band leader, soon the world of studio music will take him to more lucrative fields. The band on here is based on Quincy’s previous studio album, “The Great Wide World of Quincy Jones”, but there are a few different performers and an almost entirely new set of tunes. This was Quincy’s second big band tour of Europe, having just completed a fairly difficult tour the previous year.

Despite Quincy’s sometimes leanings towards pop, this album is pure jazz from start to finish, and it is smoking hot all the way through. Quincy has a great band on here, featuring Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Phil Woods and Bud Johnson on saxes and Curtis Fuller on trombone and many more greats. The ensemble work is super tight and the solos are intense. The recorded sound of this live concert does not have all the bright sparkling colors of Jones’ studio albums, but it replaces all that finesse with sheer energy and passionate performances.

There’s lots of great tunes on here, “Air Mail Special” is always played fast, but never before like this, the high speed ensemble horn lines on here will raise the hair on your neck, turn it up loud! Elsewhere, both “Banja Luka” and “Stolen Moments” are lengthy hard bop/blues jams with lots of solos. Phil Woods shines as always on the beautiful ballad, “Bess You is My Woman Now”. Overall, this is an excellent big band album with a decent, but not remarkable recorded sound. Quincy’s legacy as a big band leader has almost been forgotten, overshadowed by his work in movies and pop, but this album is proof that Quincy’s short lived band ranked up there with the best.

SUSAN KREBS Simple Gifts

Album · 2015 · Vocal Jazz
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Matt
Using a different approach for her latest release “Simple Gifts’, Susan Krebs decided to record in a more intimate fashion by using Chamber Music as the predominate support backing her vocals. Susan has been playing at times in between gigs, music salons which are small gatherings that are usually held over at Susan’s place requiring the band to be more compact due to available space and out of this concept Susan’s latest album was created. Susan Krebs started her career over in New York working in musicals, plays and television commercials and since moving west to L.A. has continued with many appearances in a variety of acting formats including film and television. In between all this she has also recorded four previous albums starting back in 1999 with most times using what could be best described as a standard Jazz band with piano, bass and drums being the backbone excepting “Jazz Aviary” where a string quartet was used in addition with the band.

This time around the bass and drum kit have been dropped with the highly talented multi instrumentalist Paul Cartwright adding violin and viola, who has appeared in numerous styles of music including Soundtracks, Rock and Pop with Jazz being a favourite. Rich Eames another from L.A. and Co- Producer is on piano and has appeared with Susan on her three previous releases and like Paul before worked in a myriad of styles and bands including session work. Doing percussion is Scott Breadman who has appeared on all of Susan’s albums with the addition of Rob Lockhart on Woodwinds being primarily sax and flute, who has quite an impressive collaboration list including Tom Harrell Big Band, Kurt Elling and the Woody Herman Orchestra and as with all the previous band members, again it is the session work providing the bread and butter.

With the first few words sung acapella from Susan, the album opens with a Billie Holiday song, “Let’s Call a Heart A Heart” which quickly develops into swing with the band gradually coming in throughout the first verse with some lovely input and quick little solos with Paul’s violin, Rich’s piano and Rob’s sax in that order and Susan’s great voice to finish up the last verse. The Chamber is exactly where the following ballad “Looking Back” seems to be originating from, with some stunning violin input from Paul for Susan’s phrasing which at times generates a beautiful traditional folk feel and yes something a little different giving the album its own identity.”So Many Stars” with its mid tempo timing brings more a great summers day feel with Rob’s dreamy sax and Scott’s percussion interspersed with Rich ‘s piano, it was not surprising to see it was a Sergio Mendes composition. “Once Upon A Summertime” has Susan providing some beautiful vocals primarily with Paul’s violin at the fore front within the ballad and although “Falling Grace” which follows is another ballad both are done with quite a different feel with Paul’s violin providing a beautiful distinct classical touch on the first and Rob’s use of baritone and soprano sax on the second having a more introspective Jazz approach which keeps the variety coming along in a superb manner. “Throw It All Away” has Scott’s tambourine providing the base for Susan’s vocals and Paul’s violin with this delightful take of an Abbey Lincoln composition. “For All We Know” is Susan’s dedication to her brother who she lost, and an old Shaker tune “Simple Gifts’ being the album’s title brings the show to a close with more wonderful input from Susan and the band. Who does their solo’s better, I should let you decide for this delightful number.

So nice to hear Jazz performed in a slightly different manner. The sessions must be fabulous over at Susan’s Salon with great vocals and musicians included. A big thumbs up to Paul Cartwright with his strings addition for playing with quite a traditional approach, especially in the album’s title, “Simple Gifts”. Wonderful new release from Susan Krebs and highly recommended.

JOANNE TATHAM Out of My Dreams

Album · 2015 · Vocal Jazz
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Matt
The fifth song on Joanne Tatham’s newest release, is titled “Cool” and that is precisely what emanates with Joanne’s latest release being her third album, “Out Of My Dreams”. Impeccable phrasing and timing seem to be Joanne’s natural with the highs and even the lows all tackled superbly within her vocal range with a wonderful late 50’s to 60’s Jazz style and the addition of quite a nice contemporary touch. Twelve years prior Joanne was doing musical-comedy in New York until she ran into a TV Writer where a marriage, family with a move to L.A. all followed. Not only that, but one could say Joanne reinvented herself within her musical art and took up Jazz, singing solo in quite a few jazz clubs and cabarets over in L.A where she s has gone from strength to strength to arrive at this point in her career.

There are some superb musicians to support Joanne with Tamir Hendelman and Jamieson Trotter both inputting some wonderful arrangements and piano on the majority of numbers throughout the album’s duration. John Clayton with Lyman Medeiros are the bassists for their respective sessions with the drumming having Peter Erskine or Mike Shapiro behind the kit with Mike also adding percussion additions on his selected numbers. Marcel Carmargo, guitar and Bob Sheppard, saxophone on various tracks creating one highly experienced Jazz band and just a quick look at some of their past collaborations, include Hamilton Clayton Jazz Orchestra, Stan Kenton, Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius, John Abercrombie, Wynton Marsalis, Queen Latifah, Barbara Streisand, and even Todd Rundgren and the list just goes on and on.

Variety is the album’s key with a wonderful input of modern Post Bop Jazz, Bossa Nova, Broadway, Harry Nilsson and a David Frishberg composition bringing quite an entertaining touch to the album’s content. The McCoy Tyner composition with Sammy Kahn lyrics is where the album begins with “You Taught My Heart To Sing” with Joanne opening with a lovely scat and Bob Shepard’s sax over this quite spritely timed little tune with Joanne’s vocals covering those music scales with superb dexterity and some lovely addition on sax and piano respectively from Bob Sheppard and Tamir Hendleman included. Harry Nillson’s, ‘Without Him” ( Without Her) is given a beautiful Bossa timing with Michael Camargo’s guitar putting the Brazilian sunshine straight in from the start with Joanne singing in a lovely sultry style opening her vocals with a scat that just puts down her timing right throughout this number. Just a trio is used for the backing in “Devil May Care” with Lyman Madeiros keeping some wonderful time on bass providing not only some great vocal work for Joanne but also the pianist and drummer to work during this number containing at times a slight discordant touch. “Vivo Sonhando” is a Jobim composition with the majority of the band providing backing vocals for Joanne where she takes on Portuguese for one verse to great effect and I have to mention Michael Camargo’s beautiful guitar input and solo keeping all things Brazil. The Broadway composition “Cool’ follows being exactly that with a mix of scat and vocals. “Double Life” ( Tell Me a Bedtime Story) has Joanne writing her own lyrics over Herbie Hancock’s tune and sung in a beautiful laid back manner. Pure Jazz vocals for “Detour Ahead” and I am sure we all do have smooth roads with no detour ahead after listening to John Clayton’s bass within the composition. I just love the catchiness with Dave Frishberg’s “Too Long In L.A” . “You’re Sensational” a John Lucien song is given a wonderful take on a Bossa beat and the ballad “In A Lonely Place” follows but what really impressed me was how Joanne hits the low within her vocals throughout the number and holds the melody beautifully with more stunning input from Bob Sheppard’s sax. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway number “Out Of My Dreams” from Oklahoma closes the album with Joanne adding her own lyric touch with the addition of Todd Hunter’s arrangement to close the album on a beautiful note.

Although there appears to be two main sessions held with different line ups, it only enhances the album’s content due to Michael Camargo’s guitar on certain tracks and Bob Sheppard’s sax on two others keeping Joanne sounding fresh with the required variety included. Great new album and if you like Jazz vocals, why not get it?

THELONIOUS MONK Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington

Album · 1956 · Bop
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js
“Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington” is an album that comes early in Monk’s career. He had started out at the Prestige label, where he recorded a handful of albums that featured his original compositions that were on the cutting edge of modern be-bop. These albums did not sell well as many jazz fans felt Monk’s music was too ‘difficult’, and sometimes downright foreboding. Frustrations with Prestige finally reached a head and Monk was let go, which is when upstart label Riverside entered the picture. Eager to have a known artist on their roster, Riverside gladly took on Monk and began advising him on how to expand his audience. The whole idea behind ‘Monk Plays Ellington’ was to have Monk record some familiar tunes by a well known master, and then possibly a wider audience may come to appreciate him.

Many hardcore Monk fans are dismissive of ‘Plays Ellington’, and consider it somewhat of a commercial sellout with less than top notch playing. This harsh evaluation is hardly true, although this is not one of Monk’s more outside albums, he hardly plays it safe or checks his creativity at the door. Instead these tunes carry all the trademarks of Monk’s playing; the weird rhythmic juxtapositions, the jagged phrasing and the surprise note choices, its all here, plus Ellington too. Choosing Oscar Pettiford and Kenny Clark as his backup also shows that Monk was striving for more credibility and acceptance by picking two of the top and best known performers of that time. Pettiford gets a couple short solos, and also engages in some interesting interplay with Thelonious.

Monk’s playing easily fits with Ellington’s music, as they both come from this sophisticated and abstract blues perspective. Monk’s playing on here may seem somewhat restrained compared to some of his other albums, but I doubt that was due to a lack of creativity or commercial concerns, instead it seems that Monk doesn’t want to take all the ‘Ellington’ out of the music and make it too much of a Monk joint. His perceived restraint probably has more to do with Monk’s integrity and artistic respect than anything else.

Monk does not perform any major transformations on any of these tunes, probably the only noticeable change comes when “Mood Indigo” is played like a blues, instead of the languid lounge number it usually is. Possibly top tune honors could go to “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart’ , which is given a joyous romp with a dissonant solo, and ends up sounding a bit like Monk’s “Let’s Cool One”. Also memorable are “Black and Tan Fantasy” and Monk’s moving solo work on “Solitude”. Overall this is a good album, but possibly more interesting to Ellington fans than Monk fans.

SCOTT JOPLIN Elite Syncopations (vol.5)

Album · 1974 · Ragtime
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siLLy puPPy
Ragtime has the honor of being called the very first truly American musical genre and emerged in the 1890s by Ernest Hogan who traveled in minstrel shows as a dancer, musician and comedian. He was the first to add African polyrhythms to the popular march music that was popularized by John Philip Sousa. In 1895 Hogan released many published songs that he actually named ragtime. Perhaps forgotten in history due to the unsavory racial stereotypes that he used in his works and biggest hit “All Coons Look Alike To Me,” he nonetheless opened the doors to other artists who would evolve the syncopation in ragtime to the myriad forms of jazz that would emerge in the 20th century.

Although Hogan invented it, it was SCOTT JOPLIN who is indubitably the most widely known and crowned king of the ragtime sound and managed to write 44 original rags from 1899 to 1917 in his short life (born 1868 died 1917). JOPLIN hit the big time with one of his early pieces the “Maple Leaf Rag” which is perhaps the most popular rag in all of music history. JOPLIN didn’t just merely copy the form but earned his place in history by refining and elevating the style above the early forms that were associated with the vulgar and unsavory elements in the world of entertainment of the day. JOPLIN achieved this by his exposure to European polkas, 19th century European romanticism as well as the African-American styles ranging from work songs and gospels to spirituals and dances.

Out of the many compilations out that don the SCOTT JOPLIN moniker, most if not all are interpretations of his music by other artists with those by Joshua Rifkin perhaps being the most popular and widely available. On this compilation titled ELITE SYNCOPATIONS - CLASSIC RAGTIME FROM RARE PIANO ROLLS released on the Biograph label on vinyl in 1974 and then released in 1987 on CD with a different track order and four extra songs, we get one of the few releases where JOPLIN actually plays his own music, well at least on the three opening tracks “Maple Leaf Rag,” “Ole Miss Rag (written by W.C.Handy)” and “Magnetic Rag.” Unfortunately there is a huge gap because many of JOPLIN’s rags were not originally issued on piano rolls which was the storage medium of the day used to operate a player piano.

Unfortunately only about six of the original piano rolls from JOPLIN’s times survive and as a result the remaining rolls featured on this release were produced by the serious collector Hal Boulware all the way back in the 1960s who painstakingly reproduced the scores faithfully to original print with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed for authenticity’s sake. That is the purpose of this compilation - to faithfully restore the lost gaps in JOPLIN’s history and present them as originally intended. ELITE SYNCOPATIONS will not sound much different than any other compilation released by other musicians playing, but if one listens attentively there are subtle differences just as one would here in any piece of music interpreted by different performers. The main difference here is the inclusion of actually pieces by JOPLIN as well as the desire to be as faithful to the original written scores as possible. This is a perfect beginner’s album as well as one of the serious collector despite not being a fully comprehensive release of all 44 songs.

Personally i like this album as much as any JOPLIN release. It neither exceeds nor detracts from the many compilations released over the years. It simply clears the cobwebs out of the vaults and introduces the listener to some of the lesser known tracks of JOPLIN’s career. I am a fan of ragtime, but i have to admit that listening to an hour of it shows the limitations of its style and the inevitable need for its evolution into stride piano and beyond in the greater jazz world. Nevertheless a pretty good album that celebrates the very first American musical genre that took the world by storm at the dawn of the 20th century.

traditional jazz movie reviews

JONI MITCHELL Shadows And Light

Movie · 1980 · Vocal Jazz
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Joni Mitchell meets The Pat Metheny Group.

What can I say? This was my real introduction into the music of Joni and what a place to start! She had really entered a new phase and the tracks offered span from Court And Spark up to Mingus (and of course, the song Shadows And Light, exclusive to the live album).

The concert was an outdoors affair at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. The liner notes say that "this concert catches Joni at the height of her artistic excellence." Having explored her albums after and before this era, I can wholeheartedly agree with that. Jaco Pastorius, who had a reputation at that point of being erratic in live situations, seems to be in a good mode. The camera work is good and the concert is now available on DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio all of which make for a show worthy of revisiting from time to time.

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