Steve Wyzard

Steve Wyzard
JMA Jazz Reviewer ·
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 20 hours ago

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All Reviews/Ratings

826 reviews/ratings
MIKE MAINIERI - Wanderlust Pop/Art Song/Folk
MILES DAVIS - In a Silent Way Fusion
RALPH TOWNER - Matchbook (with Gary Burton) Post-Fusion Contemporary | review permalink
JAN GARBAREK - Witchi-Tai-To Post Bop
SONNY ROLLINS - East Broadway Run Down Avant-Garde Jazz
JEAN-LUC PONTY - Enigmatic Ocean Fusion
JEAN-LUC PONTY - Open Mind Fusion
BOBBY HUTCHERSON - Happenings Hard Bop
MILT JACKSON - Sunflower Fusion
EBERHARD WEBER - Yellow Fields Post Bop
DOUBLE IMAGE - Dawn Post-Fusion Contemporary
GARY BURTON - Passengers (with Eberhard Weber) Hard Bop
CHET BAKER - Peace Post Bop
MIKE NOCK - Ondas Post-Fusion Contemporary
HERBIE HANCOCK - Quartet Post Bop
JOHN ABERCROMBIE - Timeless Fusion
JOHN ABERCROMBIE - Gateway (with Dave Holland & Jack DeJohnette) Fusion
MARC JOHNSON - The Sound of Summer Running Post Bop

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Post Bop 233 4.23
2 Hard Bop 131 4.31
3 Fusion 125 4.24
4 Post-Fusion Contemporary 105 4.11
5 Avant-Garde Jazz 31 4.19
6 Bop 29 4.02
7 World Fusion 28 4.20
8 Cool Jazz 22 4.20
9 Third Stream 21 4.10
10 Pop/Art Song/Folk 20 4.00
11 Vocal Jazz 15 4.27
12 Soul Jazz 11 4.09
13 Swing 10 4.05
14 Eclectic Fusion 8 4.44
15 21st Century Modern 8 4.19
16 Funk Jazz 6 4.25
17 Nu Jazz 5 4.20
18 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 5 4.30
19 Jazz Related Rock 3 4.50
20 Bossa Nova 3 4.17
21 Blues 2 4.50
22 Latin Jazz 2 3.75
23 Jazz Related Soundtracks 1 3.50
24 Exotica 1 5.00
25 RnB 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews


Album · 2013 · Fusion
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When I first reviewed Prism for another site 10 years ago, I will admit I kind of pooh-poohed it. It's not really a fusion album, I insisted. There are no organs, exotic substances, inner enlightenment, or sci-fi crossovers. I'd like to now walk this view back and own up, after listening to it for the last 10 years, to the fact that yes, it is a real fusion album. It should also be noted that unlike many Dave Holland albums, there are also no brass/horns, and it's not a big band album. So allow me to make myself clear: Prism is not only an honest-to-goodness fusion album, but it's also one of the very best jazz records of the 2010s decade.

Holland's cohorts on this album are Craig Taborn, piano and Fender Rhodes, Kevin Eubanks, guitars, and Eric Harland on drums. Do you enjoy frantically driven, intense soloing? You've come to the right place, for Prism provides bushels and bushels of it over its 70:07 runtime. I say this as someone who believes that very few studio albums merit a runtime of longer than 60-65 minutes, but in this case it's absolutely justified.

Wait until you hear Eubanks's twisted, distorted lines on "The Watcher", the Leslie-cabinet effect on "Choir", the Gibson hollow-body tone on the spooky "The Color of Iris", and the Wah-Wah pedal on "Breathe". His solo at the end of "A New Day" brings Wes Montgomery into the 21st century. More than just a non-stop soloist, he often doubles the melody lines with Taborn. Eric Harland is quite simply amazing, especially in a rimshot showpiece at the end of "Evolution". Taborn is the "most free" of this incomparable quartet: the quirky stops and starts of "Spirals" and the stunning piano solo on "The True Meaning of Determination" are beyond awe-inspiring.

And what of Holland himself? As always, he's the bedrock beneath the terra firma. His all-too-rare solos sound so effortless that they almost defer attention. In spite of throwing jabs like a heavyweight champ, the listener can almost take his lines for granted, so cohesively do they mesh into the musical fabric. And while no one would compare Prism to 1978's all-solo Emerald Tears, his dexterity, innovation, and virtuosity have not suffered after almost 50 years of recorded performances.

So yes, this is a fusion album, and if you haven't heard this yet, I strongly urge you to rectify that situation. Even at this late date, Prism deserves to be mentioned among the all-time greats of the genre.

GEORGE COLEMAN The George Coleman Quintet In Baltimore

Live album · 2020 · Hard Bop
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For all of those who may not yet be convinced that George Coleman belongs on any short list of the All-Time Great tenor sax players, may I kindly refer you to this recently re-discovered recording? Yes, this is another "lost" concert tape that is now available for wider distribution among those of us who were far too young to be there or to know what was going on at the time. And based on this performance, we missed out on a lot because the evidence can now be provided that those in actual attendance must have been floored.

Recorded on May 23, 1971 at Baltimore's Famous Ballroom, this set (5 songs, 46:56) has very few source tape issues and definitely sounds much better than the majority of the "recently unearthed" concerts that have flooded the marketplace over the last 10 years. There are almost no "dropouts", and the band is mic'd in such a way that no one is heard wandering off into the next room. From the band I was only previously familiar with Coleman and pianist Albert Dailey, but Danny Moore (trumpet), Larry Ridley (bass), and Harold White (drums) are all exemplary performers and are given much space for soloing.

And what of Mr. Coleman himself? After taking John Lewis's "Afternoon in Paris" as a warm-up, his ferocious solo in Clifford Brown's "Sandu" has to be heard to be believed. Then there's his utter explosion at the end of an unrecognizably breakneck "I Got Rhythm". The band slow down ever so slightly for "Body and Soul". Moore sits out while Coleman runs the gamut for almost 7 minutes. This set closes with another Clifford Brown composition, "Joy Spring", also taken at a blistering tempo with an amazing sax/drums duo.

Let it be said right here that George Coleman should be far better known than he is, and this album (while it's still available) is all the ammunition needed to emphasize the point. And while he's always remembered for his times with Max Roach and Miles Davis, and for appearing on Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage, his career since than has been one of a much lower profile, but not one of much lesser accomplishments. Here's hoping the George Coleman Quintet In Baltimore album is the first step toward changing the consensus of marginalization.

ANDY SUMMERS Charming Snakes

Album · 1990 · Fusion
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If I had to recommend just one Andy Summers solo album as his most representative, I would unquestionably pick 1990's Charming Snakes. It's just one of those albums where everything clicks: songs/performances/production/ special guests are all at the highest level. Naturally, without any vocals, it wasn't a best-seller and passed straight into obscurity shortly after its release. Still, Charming Snakes deserves to be heard by anyone who has ever been captivated by Summers's peerless guitar playing and the extraordinary tones/textures seemingly only he can elicit.

At the time this album was dropped onto an unsuspecting public, record companies were heavily investing in "shredding" guitar virtuosi like Eric Johnson and Steve Vai. Recorded over 2 weeks in February 1990, I can't help but wonder if that environment influenced this album's production as there is very little of the haunted atmospherics that Summers is known for. While certainly NOT an exercise in heavy metal excesses, Charming Snakes is bold, brash, and "in your face". Summers contributes jagged guitar lines to "Mexico 1920", multi-guitar layers to "Rainmaker", slide guitar, banjo, and a weird solo to "Mickey Goes to Africa", and where-did-that-come-from guitar patterns to "Monk Gets Ripped" and "The Strong and the Beautiful". His amazing riffs are doubled with soprano saxophonist Bill Evans on "Innocence Falls Prey", and with trumpeter Mark Isham on "Easy on the Ice". (Don't you love these song titles?)

So you want special guests? If anyone comes close to stealing Summers's thunder, it's powerhouse drummer Chad Wackerman, whose busy fills and big sounds are everywhere. The previously mentioned Evans appears on 8 of the 11 tracks, while Isham is on 4 of the 11. Old frenemy Sting plays a funky bassline on the title track. The one and only Herbie Hancock plays on 4 of the 11 tracks, including a solo piano intro to "Big Thing". Co-producer David Hentschel adds a powerful organ to "Mickey Goes to Africa".

"Big Thing" deserves special mention as the album's stand-out track. For those who think Summers is all about pedalboard effects, you really need to hear his big riff and big solo on this epic (7:07) showpiece. On the quieter side, "Charis" offers a brief respite with a guitar/soprano sax duet. Another highlight is the gloomy and brooding "Passion of the Shadow", which has a deceptively simple 6-note line that you will never forget.

Firing on all cylinders, these frantic performances sound as if they were recorded last week. If you've ever had any interest in Andy Summers's post-pop sound world, Charming Snakes is an absolute must-listen, must-have, must-own. There were some live shows after this album's release, and it would have been fascinating to hear how some of these songs would have translated to the concert stage. While most of what the prolific Summers has recorded is worth hearing, this unforgettable album is unequivocally his most powerful compositional statement. Track down a copy and turn up the volume, preferably on a BIG sound system.

CHET BAKER Chet Baker / Jim Hall / Hubert Laws : Studio Trieste

Album · 1982 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Many people are stunned to discover that CTI Records was still releasing albums in the 1980s, of which Studio Trieste is probably the best example. Recorded in March and April of 1982, all the usual suspects (Creed Taylor, Rudy van Gelder, Don Sebesky, Pete Turner) are here, but without Ron Carter on the bass. And while the album is credited to 3 big names with past CTI experience, let it be known here that this is really a "CTI All Stars" album in all but name.

In fact neither Chet Baker nor Hubert Laws appear on the first track, "Malaguena" (9:44), which was originally popularized by Stan Kenton. Opening with percussionist Sammy Figueroa and Hall's stately guitar, this is a soul funk workout for keyboardist Jorge Dalto, electric bassist Gary King, and most especially, the amazing drumming of Steve Gadd. Both Baker's trumpet and Laws's flute open John Lewis's "Django" (10:02), in case anyone was wondering when they would appear. Another CTI staple was a classical piece arranged for jazz band, which here is provided by Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" (8:42). This is a showpiece for Laws, who opens and closes the piece, while Baker takes a rare flugelhorn solo. The rhythm section now includes Kenny Barron on keyboards and George Mraz on acoustic bass. The final track, Miles Davis's "All Blues" (9:43) is given a very different, almost Spanish, arrangement. Steve Gadd's drums feature prominently, and both Baker and Laws get to play the famous melody line. While Hall's fluid guitar work receives the most solo space throughout the album, he never dominates as this is truly a "CTI group" performance where the production and arrangements are everything.

It should be mentioned here that of the 3 names on the cover, Chet Baker, while given first billing (alphabetical?), plays the least. This is also one of the rare albums he appears on with NO VOCALS. If you're a fan of these players and the classic "time stands still" CTI sound, you should find much on Studio Trieste to enjoy. With most of the boxes checked, this is a worthy addition to the CTI library in spite of its late recording date.


Live album · 1995 · Bop
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So identified with the 1930s-50s, many people are stunned to find out that Coleman Hawkins was still both recording and performing well into the 1960s. Even more are surprised to learn that he outlived John Coltrane by two years. Supreme, released in 1995 on Enja Records, is from a concert on September 25, 1966 at the Left Bank Jazz Society in Baltimore. This was recorded very near the end of his run as one of the most influential tenor saxmen ever. He was just short of 62 and dealing with a number of health issues that would shortly send him to retirement. Backed by Barry Harris, piano, Gene Taylor, bass, and Roy Brooks, drums and producer, his tone is nowhere near what it used to be, but he is still well worth hearing.

You've heard the rumors: so how much does Hawkins actually play on this album? Let's break it down, track by track:

1. "Lover Come Back to Me" (17:09): first 6 minutes, last 2 minutes. 2. "Body and Soul" (10:09): throughout (naturally). 3. "In Walked Bud" (16:42): first 5-1/2 minutes, last 1-1/2 minutes. 4. "Quintessence" (9:05): first 5-1/2 minutes, last 2 minutes. 5. "Fine and Dandy" (10:30): first 3-1/2 minutes, last 1-1/2 minutes. 6. "Ow" (1:27): throughout.

As you can see, Hawkins spends a lot of this concert not playing. While surely some of this can be attributed to his generosity with soloing space (and it should be mentioned that Harris, Taylor, and Brooks are all exceptional players), no doubt it can also be explained by the old, used-and-abused diaphragm not being what it used to be. It's easy to hear that those in attendance that night were in absolute awe of seeing a living legend at this late date. There's an especially overwhelming ovation after Hawk's opening solo on "Quintessence".

It should also be mentioned that there are some faults with the source tape that occasionally produce strange echoes/distortions with the recorded sound. If you can overlook these caveats, you should enjoy listening to this performance. But do not begin listening to Supreme with any idea that it is his "greatest" or even "most representative" concert recording. While he did start out in the early days of recorded sound, there are plenty of opportunities out there to explore Coleman Hawkins in his prime. Listen to this album for what it is: an old master near the end of the line, playing the music he loves in spite of the setbacks of age.

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