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John
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Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

808 reviews/ratings
LOUIS ARMSTRONG - The Louis Armstrong Story, Volume I: Louis Armstrong And His Hot Five Classic (1920s) Jazz | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Agharta Fusion | review permalink
EARTH WIND & FIRE - Gratitude RnB | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Speak Like a Child Post Bop | review permalink
FRANK ZAPPA - One Size Fits All (as Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention) Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Crossings Fusion | review permalink
PARLIAMENT - Mothership Connection Funk | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Thrust Funk Jazz | review permalink
SUN RA - Angels and Demons at Play Progressive Big Band | review permalink
SUN RA - Sun Ra And His Astro Infinity Arkestra : Atlantis Avant-Garde Jazz | review permalink
SANTANA - Santana Latin Rock/Soul | review permalink
FUNKADELIC - America Eats Its Young Funk | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Live At The Fillmore East Fusion | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - V.S.O.P. Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Get Up With It Fusion | review permalink
JIMI HENDRIX - Electric Ladyland (Jimi Hendrix Experience) Jazz Related Rock
MILES DAVIS - Miles Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Nefertiti Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Big Fun Fusion | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Fusion 106 3.69
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 61 3.99
3 Post Bop 52 4.14
4 Hard Bop 51 3.84
5 Soul Jazz 41 3.40
6 World Fusion 39 3.60
7 Big Band 37 3.84
8 Eclectic Fusion 35 3.76
9 RnB 34 3.62
10 Jazz Related Rock 31 3.74
11 Bop 28 4.04
12 Funk Jazz 26 3.60
13 Progressive Big Band 25 4.08
14 Nu Jazz 24 3.44
15 Pop/Art Song/Folk 21 2.81
16 Funk 21 3.90
17 Third Stream 19 3.84
18 Exotica 18 3.44
19 Jazz Related Electronica/Hip-Hop 18 3.39
20 Post-Fusion Contemporary 13 3.46
21 Cool Jazz 12 3.75
22 Dub/Ska/Reggae 12 4.04
23 Blues 10 3.80
24 Jazz Related Soundtracks 10 3.95
25 Vocal Jazz 10 3.75
26 Latin Jazz 9 3.89
27 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 9 3.44
28 Swing 8 4.00
29 21st Century Modern 7 4.29
30 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
31 African Fusion 5 4.00
32 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
33 Classic (1920s) Jazz 2 4.50
34 Dixieland 1 3.50
35 Afro-Cuban Jazz 1 4.50
36 Bossa Nova 1 3.50
37 Jazz Education 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Between Nothingness & Eternity

Live album · 1973 · Fusion
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Although most Mahahvishnu Orchestra fans tend to go for their first two studio albums, its the third album, the live “Between Nothingness and Eternity”, that best captures what this band was best at, high energy hard rock. Whereas other fusion pioneers of the day were mixing and matching various genres and cultures, Maha went straight for the rock jugular, mixing a Deep Purple/Hendrix Experience adrenaline fueled rhythm overdrive with solos that fused bebop agility with rock n roll sledge hammer tonality. There was nothing particularly subtle about this group, and that’s why many jazz fans were not interested, but many rock fans embraced them as a band that set a higher standard for ultimate shredding. “Eternity‘s” recording quality is far from perfect, there is distortion and uneven sound balances, the performance is somewhat sloppy, but that intense explosive energy that was this band’s salient feature comes through more on this live outing than it does on their previous studio albums. Consider “Eternity” to be the first ‘punk jazz’ album if you will.

There are lots of cool musical highlights to found on here. Side one opens with McLaughlin’s signature sweeping tamboura like guitar arpeggios that promise a special performance to come. A few minutes into this side Cobham launches into a high speed double time beat that foreshadows the hardcore thrash scene that will happen in the 80s. This side closes with “Sister Andrea”, which features one of the funkiest Fender Rhodes riffs ever. The best highlight on side two comes when the rest of the band backs off and allows Cobham and McLaughlin to take off on a high speed conversation that matches the old Mitchell/Hendrix jams for a display of two guys who really enjoy each other’s musical company. That interchange also shows how Maha was essentially a McLaughlin and Cobaham band. Bassist Rick Laird does well, but he is essentially a jazz musician. Violinist Jerry Goodman digs into the funk numbers, but seems over his head when Cobham turns up the tempo. Keyboardist Jan Hammer deals with the music by more or less imitating McLaughlin.

John’s original idea for the band was supposed to be himself, Cobham, Larry Young on keyboards, Jean Luc Ponty on violin and Tony Levin on bass. That would have been the better band as both Young and Ponty would have brought more original ideas that could have stood on their own and countered McLaughlin’s intensity.

MAGIC MALIK Magic Malik Fanfare XP, Vol. 2

Album · 2020 · Nu Jazz
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You may have noticed the recent drop off in new albums since the world wide pandemic put a serious dent in things. As many people seek the refuge of self quarantine, artists have been forced to dig through their recording archives and release things that may not have been put out under better circumstances. We can consider our selves very fortunate that Magic Malik was able to release “Fanfare XP Vol 2” while things cleared up in Europe for a while, because at this point, this album looks to be one of the best this year so far.

For many jazz woodwind players, the flute is a secondary instrument, something to play when they aren’t playing saxophone, but for Malik, it is his main axe, and it shows. Malik gets a big beefy sound out of the flute, no small feat as it can lean towards shrill thinness very easily. “Vol 2”, like many of his albums, features a fairly large ensemble with big sounding horns like the trombone to compete with, but Malik’s muscular flute tone is always able to elbow its way into the mix. Making yourself heard is not always easy in a Malik composition as he often has more than one solo going at a time, plus most tracks feature busy ensemble arrangements that compete with the soloists for air time.

You could roughly categorize the music on “Vol 2” as ‘nu jazz’, due to its use of modern beats and tasteful electronics, but unlike other trendy nu jazz offerings that tend to be lite and fluffy, Malik’s compositions are big on substance and innovation. Its that balance of attractive modernity and deep complex musical arrangements that promote concentrated listening that make “Vol 2” such a success. It’s not boorishly heavy, but it is definitely way more than hip background. If you want to hear something new in jazz that will still sound great 50 years from now, “Fanfare XP Vol 2” is your ticket.

ROBERT FRIPP (No Pussyfooting) (with Eno)

Album · 1973 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
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Robert Fripp and Brian Eno’s “No Pussyfooting” will probably be regarded as a ground breaking recording in the long run of music history, but it was barely noticed when it came out in the mid-70s. In fact, I would imagine that many who bought this back then were pretty disappointed in what they had just purchased. Both artists at the time were enjoying successful art rock careers and I am sure many were looking for a cross between Fripp’s King Crimson and Eno’s Roxy Music, only to find that their collaborative effort sounded nothing like either of those bands. This album is not the first ambient album, but it is one of the first to be marketed toward a rock/pop audience, and as such it broke all sorts of new ground that both artists would go on to enjoy as ambient music continued to be a big part of their careers, as well as the careers of the thousands of artists that they inspired. Ever since the mid-90s electronica boom, ambient music has become a very popular genre, and you can trace the roots of that popularity right back to Fripp and Eno.

Side one opens with an F# drone that Fripp solos over in a raga like style in the Dorian minor mode. His solos are given infinite sustain via Eno’s tape loop methods. Once again, Eno was not the first person to use tape loops like this, but possibly the first to use them in this sort of Hendrix meets Shankar psychedelic sound that would eventually attract the more experimental side of the rock world. Side two uses a busier backdrop via Eno’s VCS3 synthesizer as Fripp solos in E Ionian, Mixolydian and Lydian modes before finally fading out.

Given the long history of ambient music at this point, this album does not sound particularly unusual anymore, but back in the day many of us were watching the record spin around for the first time and wondering when was the drum beat going to kick in, ha. It never kicks in. Welcome to your brave new ambient future.

DAVID K. MATHEWS Fantasy Vocal Sessions Vol 2

Album · 2020 · RnB
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David K. Matthews is a keyboardist, who along with spending 20 years with Etta James, has worked with countless artists in the fields of jazz, RnB, pop, rock and blues. The Fantasy Vocal Sessions is his latest project with the current release being his Volume 2. While Volume 1 dealt with traditional jazz, Volume 2 is RnB oriented with many songs also showing a gospel influence. The word fantasy not only alludes to David’s desire to bring together some of his favorite singers and musicians, but also refers to the fact that at least the first two albums of his series were recorded in the famous Fantasy Studios. Unfortunately future installments of this project will have to find another studio because Fantasy has finally been closed.

This is an interesting collection of vocalists gathered here, with a couple of surprises including rockers Alex Ligertwood and Steve Miller. Some of the best performances come from Amikaeyla Gaston, who is given three songs to cover including beautiful versions of the Isley’s “For the Love of You” and Stevie’s “Super Woman”. I especially like the fact that she didn’t change the gender on Wonder’s lyrics. That always sounds so corny when a singer feels compelled to change lyrics to fit who they are. Another great performance comes from Glenn Walters, who transforms the 60s pop classic “Goin Out of My Head” into something much more substantial and soulful. Another top performance is Tony Lindsay’s intense gospel flavored reading of “So Sweetly”.

Joining Matthews in the backing bands are an all-star cast of bay area session musicians, and most tunes give the vocalists a break for a top notch jazz solo on guitar, sax or keyboards. The arrangements are inventive and sometimes pleasingly retro. Is that an Arp String Ensemble I hear on some of these tracks, what a nice 70s vibe that texture can provide. The arrangement on James Brown’s classic “I Feel Good” is an ‘underground’ version, and it recalls the busy syncopated horns of Tower of Power. No big surprise as many of the musicians on here, including David himself, have worked with the mighty Tower. Apparently David has more fantasy sessions on the way, with future installments featuring blues and Latin jazz

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Extrapolation

Album · 1969 · Post Bop
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John McLaughlin, much like his contemporary and sometimes band mate, Chick Corea, started his career with a very distinctive style, only to abandon that approach and tone things down for the rest of his career. Interesting to note that both were influenced by guru types when they changed their way of playing. “Extrapolation” is McLughlin’s first album as a leader and features a young guitarist willing to take crazy chances while plying with a fierce intensity that never totally returns on subsequent albums. Don’t get me wrong, John had many more great performances and recordings throughout the rest of his career, but he never again played with the freedom and abandon he does here. This McLaughlin has a rough approach that is both avant-garde and rootsy at the same time, especially compared to the po0lished sheen of many of his later albums.

The music on “Extrapolation” is all McLaughlin originals that combine bop, blues, free jazz, RnB and Indian music. Besides John, the next star of the show here is the versatile and energetic drumming of Tony Oxley, who is right at home playing anything from bluesy grooves to all out free onslaughts. John Surman’s gnarly baritone fit’s the gritty music perfectly as he adds his solos that combine RnB riffing with soaring free jazz. Brian Odges is an anchor on bass, and his well recorded input adds strength to the mix. Many of the tunes are very short and eclectic ranging from ballads to avant-garde bebop, but the best tracks are the longer ones where the band is given time to build their intensity. Listen to John’s intense note bends influenced by Indian music. Along with dropping the freer tonality, McLaughlin never recorded as much in that style again. Indian note bends have always been a part of his playing, but on this first album he merges this with a soulful blues flavor that adds so much bite to his solos. Some of John’s subsequent work with Miles Davis also features his earlier approach to the guitar.

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Warthur wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Hey dude,

You've banned me from the forums but I can still access the review submission system and site interactions.

If that is intentional then fair enough but if not I thought it'd only be honest to give you a heads up.

Warthur wrote:
more than 2 years ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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