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190 reviews/ratings
CHARLES MINGUS - Blues & Roots Hard Bop
CHARLES MINGUS - Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Hard Bop
CHARLES MINGUS - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
JOHN COLTRANE - Blue Train Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE - A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE - The Other Village Vanguard Tapes Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE - The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings Hard Bop
PETE LA ROCA - Turkish Women At The Bath Post Bop
OLIVER NELSON - The Blues and the Abstract Truth Big Band
SONNY SHARROCK - Ask the Ages Eclectic Fusion
KENNY BURRELL - Midnight Blue Blues
GRANT GREEN - Live at the Lighthouse Hard Bop
FRANK ZAPPA - The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers) Jazz Related Rock
FRANK ZAPPA - Hot Rats Jazz Related Rock
TITO PUENTE - Golden Latin Jazz All Stars: Live at the Village Gate Afro-Cuban Jazz
LES MCCANN - Les McCann & Eddie Harris : Swiss Movement Soul Jazz
THE METERS - Look-Ka Py Py Funk Jazz
HERBIE HANCOCK - Thrust Funk Jazz
STEVIE WONDER - Innervisions RnB
STEVIE WONDER - Fulfillingness' First Finale RnB

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Bop 24 4.31
2 Big Band 17 3.85
3 RnB 17 4.41
4 Post Bop 17 4.12
5 Funk Jazz 16 3.91
6 Funk 12 3.63
7 Bop 11 4.14
8 Blues 10 4.30
9 Soul Jazz 10 3.70
10 Fusion 9 3.00
11 Eclectic Fusion 7 4.21
12 Progressive Big Band 7 3.93
13 Original New Orleans Jazz 6 4.17
14 Swing 5 3.70
15 Vocal Jazz 4 3.25
16 Avant-Garde Jazz 4 4.00
17 World Fusion 3 4.00
18 Post-Fusion Contemporary 2 3.00
19 Afro-Cuban Jazz 2 4.50
20 Jazz Related Rock 2 5.00
21 Latin Rock/Soul 1 5.00
22 Pop/Art Song/Folk 1 3.00
23 Cool Jazz 1 4.00
24 Dixieland 1 2.00
25 Dub/Ska/Reggae 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

JOHNNY VIDACOVICH Johnny Vidacovich, June Yamagishi & George Porter Jr. : We Came To Play

Live album · 2003 · Funk Jazz
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This release documents the long running series of weekly gigs led by drummer Johnny Vidacovich. Since the early 2000s Vidacovich has been assembling an ever-changing cast of musical co-consipirators for nights of unstructured jamming (originally at the Old Point Bar in New Orleans, and now at the Maple Leaf Bar for many years). There is rarely a set list but there are always great moments.

The most common early lineup of "The Trio" is heard here - Johnny V. with June Yamagishi on guitar and George Porter Jr. on the bass. As sidemen these three have played with a who's who of New Orleans music royalty - The Meters, James Booker, Professor Longhair, The Wild Magnolias, Henry Butler, Irma Thomas, and various Nevilles and Marsalises. And they have made waves outside of the city too: Vidacovich with John Scofield and Mose Allison, Porter with Tori Amos, and Yamagishi as one of Japan's most celebrated guitarists before he relocated to New Orleans. It's clear from their backgrounds that this group can make something from nothing.

The music heard on We Came To Play was recorded on a Wednesday night in the summer of 2002 and is representative of a typical trio set. Five long improvised jams, ranging from 8 to 15 minutes in length, with one foot in jazz and the other deep in the funk. Vidacovich and Porter keep the rhythm grounded in the New Orleans funk and second line feel. Although there's plenty of solo space for each player, there are also long passages of pocket-based jamming in which the trio just rides the groove. At times the jams have a dark, swampy texture that contains a faint echo of Bitches Brew, but put through a New Orleans filter. You can almost feel the sweat dripping off the CD.

All three players are at the top of their game. Yamagishi slashes and burns on his guitar solos and is as funky as they get as a rhythm guitarist, and Johnny V. floats across the groove like a butterfly and stings in his solos like a bee. But it's especially great to hear Porter stretching out in extended solos, something he didn't often do on record with the Meters or as a session player. He has tremendous chops of course, but he solos here with economical tastefulness, never letting flashiness compromise the groove. The album also includes two examples of Vidacovich's half-sung, half-spoken vocals on "Is It Nature's Rock and Roll?" and "Be Careful Who You Idolize," two examples of his poetry which pop up often on the trio gigs. Porter growls backup vocals in the background while Johnny reminds the listener to "Be careful who you idolize, use caution when you pick a guru - look inside for the true you!"

There's nothing particularly innovative or earth-shaking here. Rather, it's the sounds of another humid, funky night in the Big Easy, the city where the music never stops. The Johnny Vidacovich trio gigs will soon reach their 20 year anniversary, and after all these years, one thing hasn't changed: these guys came to PLAY.

DIZZY GILLESPIE Dizzy Gillespie - Charlie Parker ‎: Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945

Live album · 2005 · Bop
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When this full concert of Gillespie and Parker's quintet surfaced in 2005 it was a major event. A complete and previously unknown concert recording of Bird and Diz in New York in the spring of 1945 with full length performances (not limited by the short running time of 78RPM records) was the jazz equivalent of finding the Dead Sea Scrolls. Amazingly, the acetate discs on which the concert was recorded were found in an antique store nearly 60 years later.

The Town Hall concert captures Gillespie and Parker, along with Max Roach, Al Haig and Curley Russell, as they were just beginning to take over the jazz world. Chronologically, this gig fell right in the middle of a run of studio dates that would produce the foundational texts of bebop: Groovin' High, Dizzy Atmosphere, Bebop, A Night In Tunisia and many more were all recorded in this period, some of them not yet released at the time of the concert.

The show was produced by the jazz DJ Symphony Sid Torin, and he starts off the proceedings with a spoken introduction that sounds painfully corny to modern ears. (Torin returns throughout the program. His introductions feel more like interruptions, but for better or worse, his presence helps put the listener "in the moment.") Then the music blasts off with Bebop taken at a blistering tempo. At first the horns are inaudible, but the engineer quickly got the levels dialed in, and for the rest of the concert the sound quality is surprisingly good for a 1945 live tape. The quintet comes charging out of the gate with Gillespie showing off his virtuosity and Roach dropping bass drum bombs all over the place. Don Byas also takes a sax solo on Bebop, sitting in briefly for Bird, who was running late! In the middle of Byas's solo the audience starts applauding spontaneously, signaling that the Yardbird was in the house. Parker took the next solo and nearly lit the room on fire.

The intensity level never flags through the different tempos. Bird and Diz were playing with tremendous energy and creativity, with each one picking up his solos right where the other left off. Dizzy shouts encouragement while Bird wails on A Night In Tunisia before peeling off his own red hot solo. The tempo launches back into the stratosphere for Salt Peanuts, including an extended solo by Roach. Sid Catlett sits in on drums for the last couple of numbers, and he must have been a fan favorite because he was greeted with raucous applause. Catlett gets his own solo feature on Hot House before the quintet ends with a short version of what was already the traditional closing number of the bop era, Thelonious Monk's 52nd Street Theme.

The concert was issued only on CD by the independent label Uptown Records. The liner notes include an essay by Ira Gitler about the concert and his memories of the early days of bebop, along with plenty of photos, reproductions of contemporary ads and press clippings about the concert, and notes on how the recordings were finally found.

The 1953 Massey Hall concert is probably the best known live document of Bird and Dizzy together. By the time of that recording they were major stars of jazz and exerting influence on all who followed. But on the Town Hall concert of 1945, we can hear Parker and Gillespie in extended performances for the first time when they were still young and hungry, two young lions about to set the jazz world on fire.

JAMES BROWN Love Power Peace: Live at the Olympia, Paris, 1971

Live album · 1992 · Funk
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Love Power Peace is the only official live release from the Godfather of Soul with his most powerful band, the original JBs. The story of their arrival on the scene is the stuff of legend: when James Brown's band quit on him en masse in the middle of a tour, he flew in a young band from Cincinnati called the Pacemakers to replace them. The Pacemakers were rechristened as The JBs, and their work with Brown set a new standard of funkiness. Powered by the Collins brothers, Bootsy on bass and Catfish on guitar, the new group recorded a string of funk classics in the studio, including Sex Machine, Talking Loud and Saying Nothing, Soul Power, Greedy Man, and Super Bad.

The JBs were also incendiary in concert, and the show that became Love Power Peace was captured live in Paris in 1971. But the original JBs parted ways with Brown soon after, and the album was shelved. It was finally issued on CD in 1992, with the full show following on a 3-LP set in 2014. (This review is for the CD mix.) I can't help but wonder if this would have supplanted Live at the Apollo as the essential James Brown live album if it had been released in 1971, because it is an amazing performance.

The band includes the aforementioned Collins brothers, along with funky drummer Jabo Starks (sometimes spelled by second drummer Tiger Martin), backup singer Bobby Byrd, and Fred Wesley on trombone getting most of the horn solos. This band is so tight it's almost difficult to believe - they can switch tempos or stop on a dime based on JB's cues. (Indeed, there is video of this show on Youtube. When I first watched it I was astonished to see that some of the segues between songs which I was sure were edited for the CD were actually played live.) This can be heard right from the opening medley of Brother Rapp and Ain't It Funky Now, as the band adjusts the tempo seamlessly while amping the energy level ever upward. Catfish Collins's guitar solo on Ain't It Funky Now is both a delight and a preview of great moments still to come, while Bootsy lays down the groove in a way seldom heard before or since - often imitated but never duplicated.

The show includes two great ballads (Georgia On My Mind and an incredible rendition of It's A Man's World) but it's never a long wait for this band to get back to givin' up the funk. The centerpiece of the album is a hypnotic 9-minute version of Sex Machine, with Catfish Collins spiraling out line after ecstatic line on the guitar while Brown and Byrd repeat the familar "Get Up, Get On Up" refrain, Starks accents Brown's dance moves from the drums and the audience gets worked into an absolute frenzy. And that energy level never lets up, all the way through the closing medley of Super Bad, Get Up Get Into It Get Involved, and Soul Power. When the concert finally ends, the crowd erupts and chants James Brown's name, and you just might find yourself doing the same.


Album · 1977 · Blues
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This late in life release from Muddy Waters is a stone cold classic. The version of Mannish Boy that opens the album is among the great album intros of all time, signaling in no uncertain terms that the master of the blues was back. (It was later used to great effect in the movie Better Off Dead.) This was Muddy's first album with Johnny Winters as producer and lead guitarist, and his production work here makes Muddy sound like he's ten feet tall. The backup band includes Muddy's peer Pinetop Perkins on piano, with the great James Cotton on harmonica, guitar work from Winters and Chicago axe slinger Bob Margolin, and thunderous drumming from Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Highlights include the aforementioned Mannish Boy, I Want To Be Loved, and Blues Had A Baby And Named It Rock and Roll. Hard Again was one of the great blues albums of the 1970s and ranks among Muddy's very best.

DANNY BARKER Save the Bones

Album · 1988 · Original New Orleans Jazz
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A marvelous album by the great New Orleans guitarist Danny Barker, playing and singing unaccompanied on eleven old standards. This album is filled with Barker's charisma and humor as he performs in a folksy style, allowing the songs to become vehicles for musical storytelling. There are no guitar solos to be found here, but there are plenty of ad libbed vocal asides that will put a smile on your face. The highlight of the album is Barker's performance of St. James Infirmary, perhaps the best version of that old song ever recorded. Barker somehow finds new life in this old chestnut with a slow, bluesy performance, full of improvised surprises and a gravitas that will take your breath away.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Crate digging and interesting obscurities
    Replying to the post about Death - they reunited a few years ago (with a new guitarist replacing the original guitarist, who died some years back), recorded a new album and have been touring ever since. I actually saw them play in New York last month. They're still sounding great.


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