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Robbie Kwok/Melecio Magdaluyo - "Sixth Sense"

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This exciting quintet plus special guest (percussionist) Pete Escovedo explores some straight-ahead jazz material and latin jazz. Recorded live at two different locations in 1995 (Yoshi's in Oakland) and 1997 (Jazz At Pearls in San Francisco),the band has a cohesiveness reminiscent of the legendary Miles Davis quintet of the mid '50s. All 6 tracks are lengthy and give the individual soloists a chance to stretch out, which gives the listener the opportunity to evaluate and enjoy. The compositions are from Kenny Barron - "Sunshower", J.J.Johnson - "Lament", Canadian saxophonist Ralph Bowen - "Geri-Ann", Robbie Kwok -"RD's Arrival", and Melecio Magdaluyo - "Jing"/"Sixth Sense".

There are strong influences of McCoy Tyner in Jeff Chimenti's piano and Miles Davis in the muted trumpet work of Robbie Kwok, but the band has developed a distinctive style overall. Plenty of energy exudes from rhythm section which pushes the soloists on to greater heights, listen to Chimenti on "Sixth Sense" and "Geri-Ann", the fluid sax of Melecio on "Geri-Ann", the tenderness and warmth of Robbie's muted trumpet on "Lament" as typical examples of the fine musicianship. This is high quality music deserving to be heard by more jazz fans. Jazz Festival producers take note. (H.H.)

Pacific Storm Records to order

Tommy Flanagan - "Sunset and the Mockingbird"

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Tommy Flanagan is one of the most tasteful and revered pianists in modern jazz, a true gentleman, and a gentle man. From his roots in Detroit he quickly established his reputation as a sensitive and stimulating accompanist, which led him to work and record with a plethora of young jazz giants, including, J.J.Johnson, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, Gene Ammons and later with vocalists Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald. Since leaving Ella in the mid '70s he has performed mostly in a trio format, and this, his working trio (Peter Washington, Lewis Nash), is in fine form as they appeared at the Village Vanguard, New York City on the 16th of March 1997, Tommy's 67th birthday. In front of a very appreciative audience the trio explores jazz classics "With Malice Toward None"/"The Balanced Scales"/"The Cupbearers" (written by Tom MacIntosh), "I Waited for You"/"Tin Tin Deo" (Dizzy Gillespie/Gil Fuller), "Birdsong"/"Let's"(Thad Jones), "Sunset and the Mockingbird" (Duke Ellington) and a standard "Goodnight My Love" (Mack Gordon/Harry Revel). This is a recording I would not want to be without, most enjoyable, go get yourself a copy. (H.H.)

Blue Note CDP 7243 4 93155 2 5 to order

Stefon Harris - "A Cloud of Red Dust"

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A new voice on vibes, taking the instrument another step beyond what Bobby Hutcherson has done. The influences are present, Milt Jackson, Hutcherson, Red Norvo, but he definitely has his own voice. Winner of the Down Beat magazine 1998 critic's poll for Talent Deserving Wider Recognition; this debut recording is truly outstanding. Harris infuses African and Latin rhythms into the modern jazz tradition, and he utilizes the instruments in the band …… "as if he were writing a novel…I wanted to link the compositions together like chapters, making smooth transitions between the tracks. Instead of suddenly shifting moods, I ease into them with a short interlude"….(liner). With Mulgrew Miller, Steve Turre, Greg Osby, Steve Wilson among the cast, this is an impressive recording worthy of much exposure on any jazz radio programme. (H.H.)

Blue Note 7243 823487 2 6 to order

Maynard Ferguson & Big Bop Nouveau - "Brass Attitude"

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Canadian-born Ferguson still has the fire, and proves it with this ten-piece band, sounding at times like a much larger unit. Trombonist Tom Garling, pianist Ron Oswanski are the main arrangers, although a couple of tunes are credited to Christian Jacob and Denis DiBlasio.

From the opening track "Just Friends" the band projects a "happy to be here" attitude and that feeling pervades the whole CD, which has a wide variety of moods; "Waltz for Nicole" (jazz waltz) exhilarating flugelhorn/trumpet from Maynard, gutsy trombone - Tom Garling, pensive piano setting - Ron Oswanski, "I Love You" (latin flavour), "Milk of the Moon" romantic flugelhorn - Maynard. "Misra-Dhenuka" (raga), the longest cut on the recording, running at 15min, 50secs, "Knee Deep in Rio" (Brazilian jazz chart), featuring solos by Tom Garling - trombone, Paul Thompson - electric/acoustic bass, Carl Fischer - trumpet, David Throckmorton - drums, Maynard - trumpet/flugelhorn and an "on the edge" cutting solo by tenor saxophonist Sal Giogianni, "Erica and Sandra" (romantic ballad) featuring conversations between Maynard and Giogianni (acting out the parts of Maynard's grandchildren, for whom this composition was written, "Caruso" a lovely Italian pop song performed by just Maynard and Ron Oswanski. A worthy addition to anybody's Maynard Ferguson collection and to any aspiring trumpet player. (H.H.)

Concord CCD-4848-2 to order

Columbia have re-issued, in the Columbia-Legacy series, some vintage Dave Brubeck material from the period 1955 to 1967. Projects vary from solo piano, quartet to quartet and large string orchestra and are now available for the first time on CD.

Dave Brubeck - "Brubeck Time"

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The team of Dave Brubeck - piano, Paul Desmond - alto, Bob Bates - bass and Joe Dodge - drums had been together since 1953, Paul Desmond and Brubeck had worked in various formats since 1948, so this is a very tight unit that went into the Columbia recording studios in 1955, and it shows, on every track. Paul's liquid tone ( a pure alto saxophone sound), Brubeck's classical background showing up in his piano playing, and a solid, swinging rhythm section give some refreshing explorations of standard tunes "Jeepers Creepers" / "Pennies from Heaven" / "Why Do I Love You?" / "Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now" / "A Fine Romance" (all taken a bright tempos), "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" ( slower tempo that starts out with a blues feeling, swings along in 4/4 and ends in a contrapuntal mode), plus two originals written by Dave and Paul, "Audrey" ( for Audrey Hepburn, Paul in a very reflective mood here, he had quite a crush on the famous actress) and "Stompin' For Mili" ( for film director Gjon Mili). This was the first studio recording with the Dave Brubeck quartet for the Columbia label, and one that should be in every jazz lover's library. (H.H.)

Columbia CK 65724 to order

Dave Brubeck - "Brubeck Plays Brubeck"

This is Brubeck alone at the piano playing his own compositions including "Swing Bells"/ "In your Own Sweet Way"/ "Two-Part Contention"/ "The Duke"/ "Walkin' Line"…….

A simply brilliant recording actually recorded in Dave's house in Oakland, California baring the compositions down from the quartet performances, and allowing Dave to explore the themes at greater length. (H.H.)

Columbia CK 65722 to order

Dave Brubeck - "Brubeck and Rushing"

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One of the greatest blues singers, Jimmy Rushing, joins the Brubeck quartet for eleven outstanding tracks (on the original LP only ten tracks were issued) recorded in 1960. As the promotional material for this CD announces, and I quote: "An improbable masterpiece",…… listen closely to the opening track "There'll Be Some Changes Made", this is the mood set for the rest of the CD, every member thoroughly enjoying this most unusual setting. (H.H.)

Columbia CK 65727 to order

Dave Brubeck - "Brandenburg Gate: Revisited"

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Finally Columbia have revisited the vaults for this long deleted recording of the classic quartet with symphony orchestra conducted by Dave's brother Howard. Constantly experimenting, with time signatures, it was time for Brubeck to take it one step further and meld the two factions into this lengthy composition. There are times when the orchestra dominates, performs in counterpoint with the quartet, or just lays out allowing the individual members of the quartet to step to the fore. Desmond never sounded better, especially on "Pivot Dance" (the 6th movement of this 10-part suite). Drummer Joe Morello and bassist Eugene Wright provide a constant relaxed sense of swing, obviously sharing the joy in the performance. There are four additional tracks on this CD, "Summer Song" (fluid Desmond leading into a lengthy thoughtful solo by Dave), "In Your Own Sweet Way" (as well known to Brubeck fans as "Take Five") has appeared on record in different settings, solo piano by Dave and quartet; numerous other musicians have performed this tune bringing it to the jazz standard status. "G Flat Theme" is heard here for the first time as a recorded version, it had been performed in 1958 during the San Diego Symphony summer series. A lilting theme stated by solo woodwinds with string accompaniment leads into a gentle swinging beat by the quartet featuring haunting solos by Dave and Paul.

"Kathy's Waltz" (dedicated to Dave's only daughter, he and Iola, his wife have five sons), first appeared on the quartet recording Time Out (CK 65122) allows plenty of counterpoint between soloist (Dave), and strings in a waltz tempo. (H.H.)

Columbia CK 65727 to order

Dave Brubeck - "Bravo Brubeck" / "Buried Treasures"

"Bravo" and "Buried" were recorded in Mexico City in 1967 with the quartet. For "Bravo" Dave wrote one of the eleven compositions performed here and arranged some of the traditional tunes. After a spoken introduction by the Mexican MC the quartet with added musicians Salvador "Rabito" Agueros (bongos and conga drum), Benjamin "Chamin" Correa (guitar) delve into "Cielito Lindo" setting the stage for …… "tunes that we mutually knew were songs I had heard growing up in California where there was a lot of Latin American popular music played on the radio and social gatherings".. (liner). A change of pace from the usual material one would expect from the quartet which includes "La Paloma Azul", "Besame Mucho", Estrellita", "La Bamba" and "Poinciana, "Frenesi". Dave had recorded the latter by an earlier version (1951) of the quartet for the Fantasy label. From this brilliant live recording to additional material that was recorded during the tour of Mexico, also at concerts, this time featuring tunes more readily known from the quartet's repertoire, i.e.: "Mr.Broadway", "Koto Song", Sweet Georgia Brown", Forty Days", "You Go to My Head", "Take Five" and "St.Louis Blues". These tracks are released here for the first time, and are representative of the quartet's best performances when on the road. I look forward to Columbia releasing additional material of the Dave Brubeck quartet from the vaults, whether it be previously unreleased or not. From one of the most interesting jazz groups in the '50s, '60s and '70s, these recordings will attest to greatness of jazz. (H.H.)

Bravo - Columbia CK 65723 to order
Buried - Columbia CK 65777 to order

Various Artists - "Jazz Toronto"

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Following the release of its Jazz Montreal CD (June, 1997), the Justin Time label now focuses on the Toronto jazz scene, though many of the musicians come from divergent Canadian backgrounds. The disc is a compilation of talented artists - Jane Bunnett/Pat LaBarbera (reeds), Bernie Senensky/Carol Welsman/Oscar Peterson/Brian Dickinson (piano), Roy Patterson/Brian Hughes/Lorne Lofsky (guitar), Herbie Spanier (trumpet), Dave Young (bass), Lenny Solomon (violin), and the bands of the Boss Brass and Manteca. The music is as varied as its performers - tortuous journey through "Inland Passages", a mellow band rendition of Dave Brubeck's "The Duke", and insistent Latin beat with "Salsa Nova" and "Virgo Dance", small group swing on "New Life Blues" or "OP&D", a sprinkling of standards. There's something for everyone here. (J.S.)

Justin Time JR 6651-2 to order