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MILES DAVIS Kind of Blue Album Cover Kind of Blue
MILES DAVIS
4.81 | 117 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE A Love Supreme Album Cover A Love Supreme
JOHN COLTRANE
4.82 | 87 ratings
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BILL EVANS (PIANO) Waltz for Debby Album Cover Waltz for Debby
BILL EVANS (PIANO)
4.93 | 12 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 | 66 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 | 14 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
4.88 | 10 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT The Köln Concert Album Cover The Köln Concert
KEITH JARRETT
4.73 | 32 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Empyrean Isles Album Cover Empyrean Isles
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.76 | 21 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 | 7 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Live at Birdland Album Cover Live at Birdland
JOHN COLTRANE
4.82 | 12 ratings
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MILES DAVIS 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis) Album Cover 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis)
MILES DAVIS
4.72 | 37 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE My Favorite Things Album Cover My Favorite Things
JOHN COLTRANE
4.70 | 45 ratings
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modern jazz Music Reviews

SIMON VINCENT Simon Vincent's The Occasional Trio : Live In Berlin

Live album · 2019 · Hard Bop
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js
Simon Vincent is a modern composer who often works with electronics and other experimental sources. Occasionally he also performs as a jazz pianist with his trio under the moniker, The Occasional Trio’. Despite his ‘long haired’ and academic background, Simon’s jazz playing is often rough and blues centered, which he then colors with the abstractions of his more avant-garde leanings. Possibly it is because he performs mostly in Europe and the UK, that Vincent is not better known in the US, but this is one pianist that stateside jazz fans would really appreciate if they would give him the chance. Simon points to Monk, Brubeck and Mingus as influences. The Monkness shows up in Vincent’s rough dissonant approach, the Brubeck leanings lead to big block chords played in odd rhythms against his backup players, and you can hear Mingus in Simon’s tendency to take the blues into outside improvisations. His latest album, “Live in Berlin”, was recorded live because in Simon’s own words, “In front of an audience you tend to stretch out and take risks on the spur of the moment which makes the music more exciting, and makes it breathe and come to life.”

Simon’s partners on here include bassist Roland Fidezius and drummer Kay Lubke. Fortunately there is very little gratuitous solos for the other two, instead, all three players keep at it non-stop for the duration of the concert in constant interplay and communication. Given Simon’s diverse musical background you can expect a rather eclectic set from this free wheeling trio. The group’s tendency towards hard hitting bluesy bop shows up on “Blues in Fink”, “Well You Shouldn’t” and “Sweedad’s Pastry”. More lyrical and sensitive post bop approaches s appear on “Raindrops in June” and “Every Moment of Every Day” and an ability to freely improvise in modern idioms can be found on, “Portsmouth Blue” and “Prayer unto the People and unto the Land”.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN John McLaughlin, Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain : Is That So?

Album · 2020 · World Fusion
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snobb
Living legend English guitarist John McLaughlin is a man responsible for probably best ever recorded guitar fusion album. His early interest to Indian music (and culture in general)is well documented on "My Goal's Beyond"(1971) and more significantly on early Shakti albums which were again excellent examples of Indo-fusion.

Don't be fooled by the name though - the newest work, credited to McLaughlin as leader, "Is That So?", is not in the league of both above mentioned masterpieces.To be honest, "Is That So?" in reality is first of all vocal album of prolific Indian singer and films soundtrack composer Shankar Mahadevan. Being a cult figure in India, he's almost unknown in Western world, so crediting his album to McLaughlin as leader is understandable marketing trick for American label AbstractLogix,who released the album just a week ago.

Then,under the cover we have what we have. Shankar Mahadevan sings six lyrical songs,ballads of sort, under minimalist accompaniment of McLaughlin processed guitars and even more minimalist licks of another Indian,former Shakti tabla player Zakir Hussain.

Fortunately, all music doesn't sound as Bollywood soundtrack. It is more rooted to Indian traditional sound, but it is still first of all singer's album. McLaughlin guitars sound processed using computer,is liquid,rhythm-less and hardly differs from what could be produced using inexpensive synths. Tabla's soloing is most livable and most attractive element of all music, but we don't get a lot of it. Harmony-less Indian music without rhythmic component after some time sounds same again and again, at least for Westerner's ear.

Quite a weird release,it will hardly attract McLaughlin guitar work's fans or even Shakti early albums lovers. Maybe Shankar Mahadevan singing followers will find it interesting though.

YOSUKE YAMASHITA Yosuke Yamashita Trio ‎: Sunayama

Album · 1978 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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snobb
During early seventies, pianist Yosuke Yamashita trio were a front-line power of Japanese avant-garde jazz. Cecil Taylor-influenced high-energy percussive straight-in-your-face piano playing style in combination with Akira Sakata's free sax attacks and drummer's (Takeo Moriyama and later, Shota Koyama)rock-heavy artillery built complex,usually knotted aural constructions of surprisingly well-organized beauty. Their albums,released between 1970 and 1975 all are classics of Japanese avant-garde jazz.

On "Sunayama", Yamashita's work from second half of 70s, one can evidence quite unusual for him instrumentation. Credited to his regular trio, the album contains three pieces,recorded actually by septet/octet when Yamashita's trio is improved with brass section (and an electric guitarist on one track).

Being characteristic for his trio busy high energy free jazz under the skin, in many moments album's music sounds as avant-garde jazz big band with rich brass (and addition of soling electric guitar on "Usagi No Dance - Dedicated To Pepi"). It's interesting to mention, that intentionally or not the combo never sounds as one small orchestra - more like two group of musicians, the trio and four-piece brass section improvising each their own way.

On paper it most probably sounds as a chaos, but surprisingly enough all album long Yamashita controls the situation well and final music has its own internal order. Not such explosive as on his earlier works, this album's attraction lays mostly in a rare possibility to hear the great master trying something different. Perfectly recorded (as many Japanese releases coming from seventies), "Sunayama" is an attractive release for Yamashita fans, still probably a bit risky try for newcomers.

Being for years an obscurity, in 2009 the album has been reissued in Japan on CD so there is a bigger chance to find it now.

BRIAN SCANLON Brain Scan

Album · 2019 · Post Bop
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js
Brian Scanlon is one of those musicians who you have probably listened to before, but didn’t realize who you were listening to. A long time session saxophonist, Brian has recorded with stars like Bob Dylan and Randy Newman, appeared on TV soundtracks such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, as well as movies like “La La Land” and “Crazy Rich Asians”. After a 32 year career Brian finally decided to record his first album as leader and packed “Brain Scan” with mostly his original tunes. Brian counts Coltrane and Parker as major influences, and you can also hear a good bit of Sonny Rollins and some Eric Dolphy too. Scanlon plays both tenor and alto and is a bopper at heart, always swinging, but he also works in plenty of RnB and soul on his eclectic debut.

The album opens with two modern abstract post bop tracks with Latin and fusion influences. Brian’s son, Avery, turns in a Holdsworth flavored electric guitar solo on the opener. “Re-entry” follows with some funky soul jazz that sounds like an instrumental version of a classic Steely Dan track, particularly in the guitar scratching of Andrew Synowiec. After a well written melodic ballad the band goes full tilt bebop on “I Hear Something” and a major overhaul of “Harlem Nocturne”. Scanlon turns down the heat for the closing numbers, with “My Right Foot” providing some bluesy grooves.

I’m not sure why Brian waited so long to step out as a leader, this should have happened long ago. He is an excellent writer and his constant melodic invention recalls his favorite sax mentors, but Scanlon also provides his own very smooth delivery and relaxed sound that is unique to him.

JOE MCPHEE / SURVIVAL UNIT McPhee, Rempis, Reid, Lopez, Nilssen-Love : Of Things Beyond Thule Vol 1

Live album · 2020 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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snobb
One of the early releases coming in a very beginning of a new year is a collaborative work, recorded by high class free improvisers quintet of seasoned tenor Joe McPhee and cohort of younger creative jazz stars.

Joe McPhee (probably in a pair with Charles Gayle) is one of the busiest veterans of loft jazz around playing with many today's sound names and recorded intensively. His new quintet contains such leaders of modern avant-garde jazz as sax payer Dave Rempis and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, rising star cellist Tomeka Reid (who toured Europe last year as Art Ensemble of Chicago's member) and relatively lesser known New Yorker bassist Brandon Lopez.

Just two compositions, recorded live at Chicagoan The Hungry Brain on December 16 2018. Each lasts less than 20 minutes.Quite surprisingly, there are only a few explosive moments on this album, slow to mid-tempo music predominates. Saxes often sound as bird calls communication with cello vibrations and lot of percussion on the back. Common mood is more philosophical than energizing, and excellent interplay between quintet members builds intellectual and rousing atmosphere. Without leaving a frames of the genre, this album belongs to a more successful examples of live recordings in prolific Joe McPhee discogs.

modern jazz movie reviews

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
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
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A Love Supreme Post Bop
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My Favorite Things Hard Bop
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