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JOHN COLTRANE A Love Supreme Album Cover A Love Supreme
JOHN COLTRANE
4.84 | 102 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Kind of Blue Album Cover Kind of Blue
MILES DAVIS
4.82 | 137 ratings
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BILL EVANS (PIANO) Waltz for Debby Album Cover Waltz for Debby
BILL EVANS (PIANO)
4.93 | 16 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK V.S.O.P.:Tempest in the Colosseum Album Cover V.S.O.P.:Tempest in the Colosseum
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.96 | 10 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)
4.88 | 17 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
4.77 | 76 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
4.85 | 13 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Blue Train Album Cover Blue Train
JOHN COLTRANE
4.74 | 69 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 | 8 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Live at Birdland Album Cover Live at Birdland
JOHN COLTRANE
4.82 | 17 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE My Favorite Things Album Cover My Favorite Things
JOHN COLTRANE
4.73 | 59 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 | 45 ratings
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modern jazz Music Reviews

YOSUKE YAMASHITA 山下洋輔 Quiet Memories

Album · 2020 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
Yosuke Yamashita, who will celebrate his 80 birthday later this month, is one of Japanese avant-garde jazz piano key figures. His trio during the late 60s - mid 70s released a series of excellent high energy impressive technique albums, building a golden fund of the country's creative jazz (incl. cult "Chiasma" and bold, very special atmosphere "Frozen Days", which I really like more, among some others). Yosuke moved towards more mainstream post-bop during 90s, played with big bands and recorded some semi-classical works. "Quiet Memories" is his last to date studio album, a 78 year sold pianist's solo work.

Recorded in a studio in Tokyo, this album contains eleven compositions: three standards, one Corsican folk song and seven Yamashita originals. As one could expect, Yamashita plays his whole life's music from mature, seasoned artist position. Fortunately, the album isn't a collection of sentimental ballads. It builds a very specific atmosphere of lite sadness and understanding that a long-lasting artist's career (and life) is going into the final faze. Unusually (for Yamashita) emotionally colored, it contains some his best songs from his youth (as "Mina's 2nd theme" and "Chiasma"), played more emotionally, than in the original versions. "Thought of Beatrice" is a Corsican ballade of rare beauty. Standards anchoring the album's music, make a tighter connection of Yamashita's own compositions with jazz roots. All the time interchanging the music's tempos perfectly controls the whole album's mood, making it more Zen-balanced, rather than melancholic. And without surprise, Yamahita choses "On the Sunny Side of the Street" for the closer.

WOODY SHAW Stepping Stones: Live at the Village Vanguard

Live album · 1978 · Post Bop
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Mssr_Renard
Woody Shaw is one of my favorite seventies and eighties post-bop trumpeteers. A great composer and bandleader aswell.

Almost all of his seventies albums are worth listening, but this live-album is where the magic really happens.

The lp- and cd-version of this album are almost completely different. My review is about the lp.

This livealbum (recorded on two nights: august 5th and 6th, 1978 at the Village Vanguard, New York) features five originals (three from Shaw, one from drummer Lewis and one from pianist Gumbs). The final song is only a theme so it doesn't really count.

The quintet featured, is a very steady one and the interplay is magnificent. Sometimes it reminds me a bit of Jazz Messengers during the Shorter/Hubbard/Walton/Fuller-days.

Shaw plays no trumpet, but only cornet and flugelhorn, wich he does mostly during these days.

The album kicks off in a nice uptempo fashion with the Shaw-original Stepping Stone

On the song In a Capricornian Way (a 3/4 waltz) Jefferson (saxophone) and Gumbs (piano) really show their worth. During the pianosolo, you can also hear how tight Lewis and Houston (bass) sound. A great rhythm trio. The basssolo is very nice aswell. Perhaps I A Capricornian Way is one of the most beautiful songs I know. I like jazz-waltzes very much, I guess.

Side two opens with the Gumbs-penned It All Comes Back to You with some tasty flugelhorn and soprano saxophone interplay. Jefferson and Shaw are a match made in heaven. Here you can also hear the splendid rhythmsection.

Seventh Avenue is an uptempo hardbopper, written by drummer Lewis. The theme of the song is unisono cornet and saxophone mimicking policesirens or something similar and the whole song is crazy and tries to capture the craziness ofcthe city. A wonderful composition.

The last song (improvisation) is dedicated to executive producer and manager Maxine Gregg and has a nice theme to end a perfect live-album, wich you keep turning over and over to play it again and again.

The line-up on this album is also featured on Rosewood and Woody Three.

The song Escape Velocity from these concerts is featured on Woody Three. Theme for Maxine is turned into a seven minute song with Joe Henderson on the album Rosewood (wich in fact came out a year earlier).

ANDY SUMMERS Charming Snakes

Album · 1990 · Fusion
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Steve Wyzard
THE WORD IS BIG

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.

THE AWAKENING Hear, Sense And Feel

Album · 1972 · Fusion
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Mssr_Renard
The Awakening are an all-star collective, here with their first album on Gene Russell's indie-label Bkack Jazz, wich existed for only four years (1971-1975). The label focussed on consciousness and the advancement of African-American jazz-musicians.

Musically 'Hear, Sense and Feel' can be described as a hybrid of modal jazz, post-bop and jazzrock because of the electric piano and electric bass on a few tracks. You might even call this spiritual jazz, because it has some similarities to Lonnie Liston Smith.

Pianist Ken Chaney and trumpeteer Frank Gordon are co-leading this collective, and they all are related to the AACM.

The album features dome fine hornplaying, nice lush piano and some funky and here and there boppish rhythms, with sometimss a 'free' feel. But mostly the album is modal and soulful. A pleasant listening with great solos allover.

Right now all the Black Jazz albums are being reissued by Real Gone Music, wich is a treat.

SAM RIVERS Sizzle

Album · 1976 · Eclectic Fusion
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snobb
Strangest Sam Rivers album ever - instead of the free-bop of his early works or the avant-garde jazz he is well-known for, Rivers plays four long fast-tempo funky pieces in a style one could expect from Sonny Sharrock or Ronald Shannon Jackson.

The band contains two drummers (incl. Barry Altschul), Dave Holland on bass/cello and guitarist Ted Dunbar. Rivers himself plays sax, piano and a lot of flute. Released on his regular Impulse! label, this album didn't reach the target listeners for that sort of music and critics didn't receive it well.

Energetic and straight-forward, this album's music has its moments, but comparing with much more complex and knotty River's regular albums of the time, it is simply not the work of his league.

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)