June 2004


Each month we provide a series of CD reviews plus "Star Rated" items.

You can listen to clips of some of our picks. You'll need a RealAudio Player to do this, and you can download by clicking on the following icon:

Our reviewing staff members are:

Sean Bray: Sean is a guitarist based in Toronto, Canada. He studied at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, leads his own group, and has four CD's released under his own name, and has performed at numerous concerts and club dates. You can visit Sean's site at www.seanbray.com.

John Sutherland: John has a keen interest in piano jazz and brings with him a wealth of knowledge in this area.

Robert Fogle: Rob is Director of Musical Services for Fogle Entertainment in Toronto, as well he hosts his own radio programme on CHRY-FM (105.5). His background as a fan, in jazz music is extensive, and he is a serious collector of all genres of the music.

Colin Smith: Colin began his interest in jazz in his native Jamaica, and since settling in Toronto has become more involved in the music he loves. He is the school programme director for the Markham Jazz Festival and hosts his own jazz show on CKLN-FM (88.1).

By way of identification, reviewer's initials are inserted at the end of each review.

Previous Picks

Bud Powell - "Bebop"

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Bud Powell is one of the key figures in the creation of the music that came to be known as "bebop". He was (born 9/27/24 died 8/1/66) a pianist of unrivalled brilliance, and his innovation transformed jazz pianism. "Bebop" features the youthful Powell captured in a trio, quartet, and an all-star setting (recorded during the period 1948-1959 -1960-1964). The first 7 tracks on this CD are from a Sunday afternoon broadcast from the Royal Roost club in New York City and features Powell in the company of a very young, but talented horn section of Lee Konitz, Buddy DeFranco, J.J.Johnson and the veteran baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne. The other members of this historic group are Benny Harris - trumpet, Budd Johnson - tenor saxophone, Chuck Wayne - guitar, Nelson Boyd - bass and Max Roach - drums. This is a jam session at its best, the music is hot, the players really cook, with each number displaying featured soloists: "Perdido" highlights a brilliant solo from Lee Konitz, and Powell is at his best on "52nd Street Theme", playing at his usual break-neck speed, showing no effects from his 11-month incarceration in a sanatorium. Paris provides the setting for the trio recording in 1959/1960; here Powell is accompanied by Kenny Clarke - drums and Pierre Michelot - bass in a stellar performance of Oscar Pettiford's "Blues in the Closet" and Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time"/"Confirmation". The legendary Johnny Griffin joins Powell for the final performance of this recording in Edenville (France) 1964, with Jacques Gervais - bass and Guy Hayat - drums. Tadd Dameron's "Hot House" provides a vehicle to transport Griffin's high-energy solos and technical changes. The trio provides some exemplary exchanges on "Salt Peanuts", "Lady Bird" and "I Remember Clifford". A great way to end a commendable session by some famous, and soon to be famous musicians. This is indeed a classic recording, highly recommended for lovers of great jazz. C.S.

Pablo PACD-2310-978-2

Jimmy Smith - "Dot Com Blues"

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Ask anyone who knows anything about jazz, and they will tell you that Jimmy Smith is without a doubt the master of the B-3 Organ players. "Dot Com Blues" was Jimmy's first release in five years, and was recorded in March/April/June 2000, shortly before his 75th birthday (December 8th). The basic band consists of Smith on organ with Reggie McBride - bass, Harvey Mason - drums and the sensational Russell Malone - guitar. Together they weave their musical magic on "C C Rider"/"Mood Indigo" and a Smith original "Tuition Blues". The rest of the recording is a very bluesy affair, which showcases some wonderful singers. The opening track features Dr. John with his own composition "Only in it for the Money", B. B. King can also be heard strutting his stuff on "Three O' Clock Blues", while the legendary Taj Mahal adds his vocal talents and guitar virtuosity on "Strut", and Etta James does justice to Willie Dixon's "I Just Wanna make Love to You". This is for the most part a blues recording featuring Jimmy Smith representing a rare departure from the straight ahead jazz that has made him famous throughout his many previous recordings. It would seem to me that instead of being a showcase for Smith, "Dot Com Blues" is intended to expand his horizon to include a wider listening audience. This fine recording will provide excellent listening to all music lovers. C.S.

Blue Thumb Records 314-543 978-2

Abdullah Ibrahim – “Cape Town Revisited”.

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Recorded live in Cape Town in 1997, the trio of Ibrahim – piano, Marcus McLaurine – bass and George Gray – drums plays the always mesmerizing music of the pianist before a responsive audience. Deeply-rooted in the cultural traditions inherent in Cape Town, Ibrahim draws upon songs and rhythms of his own past to produce a music that is “…..distinctive and easily recognized”. Compositions such as “Tintinyana”, “Soweto”, and “The Mountain” features pervasive melodies that have become signature sounds over the years. Bass and drums here consistently capture the intricate shifts in tempi and rhythms, with memorable solos, especially by McLaurine, on “Water from an Ancient Well” and “Tuang Guru”, and the interplay of bass/drums with “Tsakwe”- Royal Blue”. Guest trumpeter Feya Faku offers a powerful thematic statement on “Soweto”. The 3-part “Cape Town to Congo Square” echoes “….the vibrant atmosphere of the carnivals” with their parade-like spirit encompassing everyone and everything. Recommended! J.S.

Enja (Justin Time) JENJ 3315-2

Lee Konitz – “Peacemeal”

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Lee Konitz is a major figure in the saxophone jazz world, and has always recorded exciting and sometimes controversial music. On this recording from 1969 he plays alto, tenor and multivider (electric) saxophones in the exceptional company of Marshall Brown – valve trombone and baritone horn, Dick Katz – acoustic and electric piano, Eddie Gomez – bass and Jack DeJohnette – drums. The music stems from a wide variety of compositional and previous performance influences such as “Body and Soul” which here (an adaptation by Lee), is based on an improvised trumpet solo by Roy Eldridge from a 1940 Commodore recording made under the leadership of tenor saxophonist Leon “Chu” Berry. “Subconscious-Lee” is a re-working of the original recorded composition from 1949. It was recorded by a Lennie Tristano group that included Lee. “Lester Leaps In” was first recorded on Vocalion in 1939 by Count Basie’s Kansas City Seven, and here Lee takes the two choruses by Lester and transcribes them as themes.

There are three Bela Bartok compositions “Thumb Under” (No 90 from Mikrokosmos), “Peasant Dance” (No 128 from Mikrokosmos) and “Village Joke” (No 130 from Mikrokosmos), all taken from the short piano pieces by Bartok, composed between 1926 and 1937. These adaptations by Marshall Brown were in all probability at the time of the recording, the first time the pieces were used as a basis for improvisation. (Some of the above notes taken from the original liner notes by Orrin Keepnews).

An outstanding recording also including some other originals by Konitz. It should be noted the album when first released did not find the appeal it should have done, and it is gratifying to see it finally re-issued so that others than those of us who collected it on vinyl when first released, may now enjoy the beauty and inspiration of Lee’s work. H.H.

Milestone OJCCD-1101-2

Dizzy Gillespie – “Salt Peanuts”

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Dizzy Gillespie brought a group into the Rising Sun club in Montreal in July 1981, where this recording was done. Working with Diz were Sayyd Abdul Al-Khabyr – flute, tenor sax, Ed Cherry – guitar, Michael Howell – bass, Tommy Campbell – drums. Eight lengthy tracks on this CD are the memories of this remarkable engagement, including old Gillespie chestnuts such as “Salt Peanuts”, “Tin Tin Deo”, “Night in Tunisia” and “Swing Low Sweet Cadillac”, intermingled with “Land of Milk and Honey”, “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Green Dolphin Street”, and “Blues Theme”. Some exceptional soloing by members of the group with Diz in spirited form throughout.
Some very informative liner notes by Montreal broadcaster Len Dobbin. This rare recording is well worthy of being added to your Gillespie library. H.H.

Just A Memory JAM 9161-2

Monty Alexander - “In Tokyo”

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Monty Alexander has made many visits to Japan and has been recorded on some of those visits. This reissue stands out as a major chronicle of the empathy of the trio on tour, especially in this setting, a good studio with a good piano, and engineers who understood his music. It is evident that the audiences Monty played for in concerts, gave him much inspiration, and it shows here, as he thoroughly enjoys the rapport with Andy Simpkins – bass and Frank Gant – drums on such tunes as “Broadway”, Oscar Pettiford’s “Tricotism”, Quincy Jones’ “Pawnbroker” , Ma Rainey’s ”See See Rider”, John Coltrane’s “Impressions”, Sonny Rollin’s “St. Thomas”.
There is an ecstatic feeling that permeates the whole session and goes to prove that Monty is one of the major pianists of our time. H.H.

Pablo OJCCD-1098-2

Stan Getz – “The Lost Sessions”

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Stan Getz was one of the most lyrical and expressive tenor saxophone players to grace stages around the world during his all too brief life.

The selections heard on this CD were recorded over a four-day period at the end of March in 1989, two years before his death. Producer Herb Alpert had learned that Stan was without a recording contract and hastened to sign him and record some projects, one of which was Apasionada, a Latin jazz suite that came out in 1990. “The Lost Sessions” initially entitled Bossas and Ballads was shelved because of the more ambitious Apasionada release. With an outstanding rhythm section of Kenny Barron – piano, George Mraz – bass and Victor Lewis – drums, Stan was relaxed and generous with his ability to express the feelings of the compositions performed. Most of the tunes are Barron originals: “Sunshower”, “Joanne Julia”, “El Sueno”, “Spiral” and “Feijoda” which Stan reinvented and substantially improved. The other tracks are “Yours and Mine” (Thad Jones), “Soul Eyes” (Mal Waldron), “Beatrice” (Sam Rivers) and “The Wind” (Russ Freeman-Jerry Gladstone).

Daniel Ritz, who wrote the liner notes, says, “Throughout his life, he had achieved his professional goals. At the end of his life, he had also achieved a spiritual goal. He had tasted serenity. Like his music, his spirit soared”. Need I say more; just listen and you will agree; this is indeed a beautiful recording. H.H.

Verve 80000525-02

McCoy Tyner – “Reaching Fourth”

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

McCoy Tyner well known for his work with the late tenor giant John Coltrane, recorded some remarkable trio sessions in the 1960’s, usually with fellow members of the Coltrane Quartet. This particular recording has Henry Grimes on bass and Roy Haynes on drums, perfect foils for Tyner’s vast keyboard knowledge. Tyner has been influenced in the use of rich-textured harmonies as rhythmic devices, sometimes based on fourths and fifths, often with extensive use of modes. His playing also has been greatly influenced by African and Asian elements; it is for these that is no wonder that Coltrane loved his playing so much. ….. (from original liner notes by Dan Morgenstern) “Reaching Fourth” is a pun which describes the musical device on which this sprightly Tyner original is based”.

Apart from a Fred Lacy composition “Theme for Ernie”, and another original from McCoy “Blues Back”, the other tracks, on this too short selection of tunes, are “Goodbye”, ‘Old Devil Moon”, and “Have You met Miss Jones”. Highly recommended. H.H.

Impulse IMPD-255

Blossom Dearie – “My Gentleman Friend”

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Blossom Dearie loved to choose material that was not on the popular list of the day, and basically confined herself to singing songs from lesser known song writers, as she has on this wonderful re-issue from 1959. In the company of outstanding jazz artists: Kenny Burrell – guitar, Ray Brown – bass, Ed Thigpen – drums and on three tracks the flute of Bobby Jasper, Dearie plays piano and sings songs such as “Gentlemen Friend”, “It’s too Good to Talk About Now”, “You Fascinate Me So”, plus a rare Gershwin composition called “Little Jazz Bird” (famous composer, but not a popular tune at the time). She has a high-pitched voice, almost like a little girl, which to some can be irritating, but her timing and phrasing is pure jazz.

Well worth investigating for those who are unfamiliar with her work, and a gem for those who remember and have never replaced this recording in their collection. H.H.

Verve MGV-2125

Donald Byrd – “At the Half Note Café volumes 1&2

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Donald Byrd, trumpet and flugelhorn player was extremely active on the jazz scene during the 1960’s and 1970’s playing and recording with such jazz luminaries as Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Coleman Hawkins, Gigi Gryce, Lionel Hampton and many others. Son of a Methodist minister he studied and earned a law degree, but music became his main interest in life. In the 1970’s he taught music at such prestigious colleges as Rutgers, and also studied the classics, Spanish Music and other forms. In 1973 he utilized some of his students in Black Byrd, a Blue Note recording that became a hit and established him as a pop-soul artist. This 2-CD live set was recorded in November of 1960 at the Half Note Café in New York City and features Donald on trumpet with Pepper Adams – baritone, Duke Pearson – piano, Laymon Jackson – bass and Lex Humphries – drums, and is a very rewarding musical experience. With extended performances of tunes the listener gets a chance to hear the definitive interpretations by each individual member of the group, and will find the playing uniformly exciting and wanting of repeated hearings.

The discs here contain some previously unreleased material (from the original LP’s), “Child’s Play”, “Chant”, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”, and “Theme from Mr. Lucky”, as well as the original releases – “My Girl Shirl”, “Soulful Kiddy”, “A Portrait of Jennie”, “Cecile”, “Jeannine”, “Pure D. Funk”, “Kimyas”, and “When Sunny Gets Blue”. Pick this one up for your collection, it is a gem. H.H.

Blue Note 7 243-5-90881-2

James Moody – “Moody and the Brass Figures”

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

James Moody, …….”is a master stylist of the saxophone, a rich-toned, inventive, important artist whose efforts have always been deeply appreciated by fellow musicians and a sizable and loyal segment of the jazz public” (original liner notes by Orrin Keepnews). On this re-issue of his work from 1966 (during this period – 1963-1971 - he was a member of the Dizzy Gillespie’s Quintet, where the two were musically en rapport and Moody’s sense of humour and timing further dovetailed with Dizzy’s.), he is in the company of Kenny Barron – piano, Bob Cranshaw – bass and Mel Lewis – drums on some selections and on others with the quartet and Brass Figures – Joe Newman, Jimmy Owens, Snooky Young – trumpets, Jimmy Cleveland – trombone and Don Butterfield – tuba. With arrangements and conducting by Tom McIntosh, the repertoire is varied, originals and jazz standards side by side – “Smack-A-Mac” (jumping out in a bouncy tempo, punctuated by sharp brass sections), “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” (melancholy and brooding), “Cherokee” – quartet - (Moody on flute, in the opening bars stating the theme slowly, then suddenly bursting into an furious up-tempo solo. “Love, Where Are You?” – Moody on tenor with Brass in this poignant melody. Other tracks include “The Moon was Yellow”, “Au Privave”, “Ruby, My Dear”, “Simplicity and Beauty” and “Never Again”. H.H.

Milestone OJCCD-1099-2

Duke Pearson – “Sweet Honey Bee”-

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Duke Pearson, with an all-star line-up consisting of Freddie Hubbard – trumpet, James Spaulding – alto & flute, Joe Henderson – tenor, Ron Carter – bass and Micky Roker – drums, pianist/composer Pearson displays his inspirations from Count Basie and Hank Jones. He has an ability to communicate in a relaxed and refined manner, and has the skill at crafting catchy melodies, some of which became jazz standards i.e.: “Cristo Redentor”, “Jeannine”. On this recording all of the compositions are his and feature particularly strong sidemen who portray an emotional directness in their playing. Outstanding tracks “Sweet Honey Bee” (a light hearted mood), “Sudel” (a challenge to the soloists, met with resourcefulness), “Big Bertha” (a soulful thing with textures of the blues). The balance of the session is pure Pearson. H.H.

Blue Note 7243 5 90834 2 1

Horace Silver – “The Cape Verdean Blues”-

Listen in RealAudio  Listen in Windows Media  Listen in MP3

Horace Silver, is an enormously influential instrumentalist, composer and bandleader who is one of the primary architects of hard bop. He first rose to prominence as a member of saxophonist Stan Getz’s quartet in 1950-51, which eventually led to a 28-year association with the Blue Note label and working associations with the likes of Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham and Hank Mobley, and then as leader of his own quintet from which this session is reissued. Silver’s impact on jazz is three-fold. His instrumental style laid the groundwork for many hard bop’s innovations. It grew out of the influence of Bud Powell; especially in the way the left hand rhythm supports right-hand lines. The rhythmic drive and powerful melodic simplicity of the blues, R&B and gospel are also an important component of Silver’s playing, as a re Latin rhythms. He arranges these tunes for his quintet with signature voicings that help establish his music as some of the most distinctive, as well as consistently upbeat and popular, in jazz. Here the quintet, from 1965 consists of Woody Shaw – trumpet, Joe Henderson – tenor, Bob Cranshaw – bass and Roger Humphries – drums, along with guest J.J.Johnson – trombone on two tracks. The music is inspired by three different sources. First, Cape Verdean Portuguese folk music, “Cape Verdean Blues”, Second, the Brazilian samba beat that he learned when in Rio De Janeiro, “Bonita” and Third, his love of good old funky blues, “The African Queen”. This is Silver at his best. H.H.

Blue Note 7243 5 90839 2 6

Previous Picks