January 1997


All of Hal's monthly reviews will be made available here in Hal's "Picks From the Past".

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Michael Hill's Blues Mob - "Have Mercy"

Hard driving sounds from Hill's Mob from New York, not the expected Chicago. Hill's voice is inspired by B.B.King and his guitar playing has that raw rock edge to it. Superb backing by Tony Lewis - drums, E.J.Sharpe - keyboards and Peter Cummings - bass, with some very special guests, Roger Byam's sax solos are a real treat, and the Gabriel Horns add punch that will lift your speakers off the floor.

Alligator ALCD 4845 To Order

William Clarke - "The Hard Way"

This is Clarke's fourth recording for the Alligator label and his fans will notice a change in his presentation here. The Harmonica expert leans heavily on the jazz influences, listen to "The Boss", "Fishing Blues", "Moten Swing" and "Walkin'". He is equally at home both sides of the fence, check out his interpretation of Muddy Waters "Evil" and his own originals "Fishing Blues", "Last Monday Morning". This is music from the heart.

Alligator ALCD 4842 To Order

C.J.Chenier - "The Big Squeeze"

One of the remaining monarchs of Cajun music brings us another gem in the New Orleans tradition. The temperature is set at HIGH from the first track "Au Contraire, Mon Frere"and rises through the other 13 tracks on this CD.

Alligator ALCD 4844 To Order

Son Seals - "Live-Spontaneous Combustion"

Guitarist Seals always appears to release more energy in the live recordings, and this session done before a very enthusiastic audience in Chicago is no exception. The band gets into a groove right off the top and builds with each tune encouraged by the audience. Seals never sounded better, this one is a must for your collection.

Alligator ALCD 4846 To Order

Freddie Hubbard - "The Body & Soul"

Impulse have recently reissued a series of exceptional recordings complete with the original liner notes and a couple with additional tracks. This time the recording quality has been enhanced by 20-Bit Super Mapping, and on my sound system I do notice a distinct difference. More warmth, seperation is more defined and overall clearer (not to be confused with the high end cleanliness or sterile) sound.

IMPD-183 To Order

Apart from the Freddie Hubbard, the following are also highly recommended:

Coleman Hawkins - "Today and Now"

Always one of my favourite Hawkins recordings, I think I can finally let my treasured LP copy of this go. Recorded in 1962, it still sounds vibrant and fresh today, something to treasure in better sound.

IPMD-184 To Order

John Coltrane - "Live at Birdland"

This is the session which included the wonderful version of "Alabama", which according to the additional liner notes here was inadvertantly included as take 4. In this release Impulse have wisely include the full performance of both take 4 and 5. Also included is a bonus track of a tune called "Villia" which previously had only been available on an album called "The Definitive Jazz Scene-volume 3". Wonderful Coltrane music.

IPMD-198 To Order

John Coltrane - "Meditations"

More music from the late period of John Coltrane, this is one of those recordings that require close study. John takes ideas garnered from Albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders and produces a powerful and unforgettable work of art. Like "A Love Supreme" "Meditations" focuses on Coltrane's relogious concerns. With him on this session are Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones and Rashied Ali.

IMPD-199 To Order

John Coltrane - "Crescent"

From 1964, just prior to "Love Supreme" and the change to the New Thing, as his music came to be known, we have "Crescent" a magnificent session with his then road band, Tyner, Garrison and Jones performing "Wise One, "Bessie's Blues", "Lonnie's Lament", "The Drum Thing" and the title track "Crescent".

Alice Coltrane - "Ptah, The El Daoud"

Alice (McLeod) Coltrane was, in the early 1960's, pianist with the very popular vibist Terry Gibbs Quartet. Her change in direction came when she heard John Coltrane one evening at Birdland, where the Gibbs Quartet were playing opposite that of Coltrane's. She later married Coltrane and began playing in his band. These particular sessions come from a period when she led her own group which included Pharoah Sanders,who also ppeared with John's group. Also with Pharoah in this recording are Ron Carter, Ben Riley and Joe Henderson.Alice plays Piano and Harp and all the compositions are her originals.

Count Basie - "and the Kansas City 7"

During his lengthy recording career Basie never really got the chance to record much in a small group format, a few sides in quartet format from 1938, sextet sides for Columbia in 1942, a few things for the Pablo label in the later years, but it was mostly the Big Band where you heard Bill Basie. These recordings are , however the real gems, and it is great to hear them again . The complete session from March 21/22 1962 with sparkling solos from Basie on piano & organ, Thad Jones - trumpet, Frank Wess - flute/alto flute, Frank Foster - tenor/clarinet, Eddie Jones - bass and Sonny Payne - drums. Outstanding Basie and then some.

IMPD-202 To Order

Eric Reed - "Musicale"

Intro to track one is happiness, and it continues through each track. Whether in trio, quartet or quintet settings the music on this CD comes across as a bright conversation with plenty of humour. And according to leader pianist Reed this is really a social gathering not a recording. Conversationalists include Gregory Hutchinson - drums, Ben Wolfe - bass, Nicholas Payton - trumpet, Wessell Anderson - alto, Wycliffe Gordon - trombone, and on some tracks Ron Carter takes over the bass chair and Karriem Riggins the drum chair. You will note a very strong Horace Silver influence in Eric's playing, and that is always happiness.

IMPD-196 To Order

Holly Cole - "It Happened One Night"

Canadian vocalist Cole's newest Compact Disc was recorded one night (June 28th 1995) at the St.Denis Theatre in Montreal, Quebec during the Jazz Festival in front of a very receptive audience. Straying from her usual trio setting Holly has added Kevin Breit - guitar and Dougie Bowne - drums and percussion. The addition of these musicians gives another level of excitement to her music, they tend to blend extremely well with the ideas and improvisation of Aaron Davis - piano and David Piltch - bass, but are never obstrusive. Play this on your CD Rom while you work, or on your home Stereo system, either way you will find great satisfaction in listening to consummate artists.

Alert Music Inc. Z2-81030 To Order

David Piltch/Aaron Davis - "Feast"

The other two members of the Holly Cole Trio engage in a gourmet feast of sounds featuring mostly original compositions by either David or Aaron. With Piltch's bass work you not only experience the auditory sensations, but your entire body feels the sonic vibrations, and Davis's keyboard explorations have a melodic charm that embrace each piece played. An impressive support team has been enlisted to participate on selected tracks, multi-talented reed man Ron Allen plays bamboo flute, Kevin Breit - guitar and Yanuziello Dobro, David's brother Robert - guitar, Mark Kelso - drums and Trevor Tureski - vibes, making for an impressive recording, and the sound (for audiophiles interest) is superb.

Alert Music Inc. Z2-81031 To Order

NOJO - "Firewater"

This is a 16 piece band playing some rather challenging charts. Under the co-leadership of guitarist Michael Occhipinti and pianist Paul Neufeld the band at times seems inspired by Carla Bley and Maria Schneider, though I feel certain that my observations are quite different than those of either Michael or Paul. Exceptional soloists create their own tapestry within the very difficult pieces performed, and leaves one wondering what the next path one is going to led to. I am particularily fond of the "Nelson Algren Suite" which takes up a little over sixteen minutes of the CD with some outstanding solos by Scott Suttie - bass trombone, Kenny Kirkwood - baritone, Pat LaBarbera - tenor, Kevin Turcotte - trumpet and Michael Occhipinti - guitar. Other outstanding tracks are "Art to Arthur" featuring Don Laws - trombone, Roy Styffe - alto, John Obercian - drums and Turcotte and Kirkwood. It is the composing and arranging that really strikes the listener and holds the attention throughout the 75 plus minutes on this exhilerating recording.

Auracle Records AURC D1004 To Order

Joe Sealy "Africville Suite"

After a sneak preview of the recording (live presentation) at the 1996 du Maurier Downtown Tornto Jazz Festival the Compact disc is now available and well worth the wait. The musical story of the Black Community of Africville in Halifax, Nova Scotia is presented by pianist/composer Joe Sealy with some exceptional assistance by Jackie Richardson, Sharon Lee Williams, Faith Chorale, Dutch Robinson, Don Francks, Phil Dwyer, Mark Kelso, Daniel Barnes, Mike Murley, Rob Piltch, Michael Stuart and Joe's partner bassist Paul Novotny. Inspired as a tribute to Joe's father whose birthplace was Africville, Joe's music is a startling picture of some of the things that happened there. From the opening poetry one hears searing jazz solos, poignant choral work, sensitive guitar and soprano sax and joyous outbursts (listen to "Duke's in Town").The "Africville" show will shortly be taking to the road for a cross Canada tour, if they come anywhere near where you live be sure to see them, in the interim pick up the CD and have a preview of some real Canadiana.

SEA JAM 1005-2 To Order

Phil Nimmons "Atlantic Suite/Suite P.E.I./Tributes

Finally the much lauded "Atlantic Suite" has been made available as a reissue, it was only available on LP format for some time, but now on CD it has also brought about the release of other material by the Nimmons Band - (Nimmons 'n' Nine plus Six) some of which has not been available before. There are two big band recordings for the Verve label which were supervised by Oscar Peterson, but you will only find these as LP's in some garage sale or amongst some lucky collector's peronal collection. But these sides are exciting examples of the writing, arranging and playing skills of Phil Nimmons, and it is indeed a joy to hear them. The "Atlantic Suite" was written as a tribute to the audiences that gave the band such a warm reception when it toured the Eastern provinces in 1974. And it later won a Juno award as best jazz record of the year in 1976. There are plenty of inspired solos by members of the band including Art Ellefson, Herbie Spanier, Dave Field, Tom Csezsniak, Keith Jollimore, Andy Krehm, Stan Perry and the chief himself, Phil. "Suite P.E.I." features a smaller unit with Guido Basso, Rob McConnell, Moe Koffman, Gary Morgan, Bruce Harvey, Ed Bickert, Don Thompson and Terry Clarke, but the only soloist in this 17 plus minute piece is Phil on clarinet. This was recorded at the CNE Bandshell in 1973, and Phil is in top shape with his very distinctive style of playing. "Tributes" is the big band again with some personel changes from a 1979 session which was never released until now, and what a wonderful addition to this two CD set it is. Again the writing stands out as fresh today as it was then, and the soloists exhibit complete comfort and confidence with the charts. This is wonderful music from a master of the art of jazz, and a remarkable warm human being as well. Thank you Phil.

Sackville SK2CD 5003 To Order

Albert Nicholas/Henri Chaix "Baden 1969"

New Orleans clarinetist Nicholas captured in concert in Switzerland with the Henri Chaix trio. Pianist Chaix was no stranger to the expatriate American's style of playing, he had already made quite a name for himself as an able musical assistant to the likes of Buck Clayton and Rex Stewart as well as making a series of recordings for the Swiss Philips label. So when this opportunity presented itself he was indeed ready and he proves it again and agian in his choice of solo work in this setting. Nicholas was in great form too (he died in Basel in 1973) and his choice of material is appropriate for the backing trio to work with. This was a very happy event and we should be grateful it was recorded for posterity.

Sackville SKCD2-2045 To Order

Pat Metheny Group - "Quartet"

Recorded after a lengthy road tour in May of 1996 the band this time stays as close to the use of acoustic instruments as possible, reaching another plateau in their musical journey. I did not realize this band had been together for so long. The first recordings were done in 1977 at which time Lyle Mays joined. Steve Rodby replaced Mark Egan in 1980 and Paul Wertico replaced Dan Gottlieb in 1982. A long time for any band to stay together and still produce exciting music. The music on this CD is exciting and all the compositions are fresh and are loaded with unexpected twists and turns that hold one entranced throughout. Favourite tracks are "Oceania", "Language of Time" and "Sometimes I see".

Geffen GEFD-25118 To Order

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