November 1997


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

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Danny Moss/Buddha's Gamblers - "A Swingin' Affair"

British-born tenorman, Danny Moss, links up with a swinging Swiss group nominally led by pianist Buddha Scheidegger in a 1996 session of traditional standards. Though Moss, an early bopper in the 50's with bands such as Ted Heath and Johnny Dankworth who moved to more classic styles later with Alex Welsh and Humphrey Lyttelton, displays his Hawkins-Webster influence in such numbers as "Georgia on my Mind", Waller's "Moppin' and Boppin'", and Basie's "Swingin' the Blues", his Swiss counterparts also reveal their respective jazz inspirations. Scheidegger is positively Basie-like on "Moten Swing" or "The King", while trumpeter Heinz Buhler captures echoes of Roy Eldridge with "The Jeep is Jumpin'" and "Crazy Rhythm"; as well, there are traces of Dicky Wells in Hans Meier's trombone work ("The Jeep is Jumpin'") and touches of Pee Wee Russell in Werner Keller's clarinet ("Crazy Rhythm"). The highlight for me was "The King", a rousing closer propelled by Moss and drummer Carlo Capello. This is a very enjoyable romp through mainly familiar territory. (J.S.)

Nagel Heyer 034to order

Hilario Duran & Cuban All Stars - "Killer Tumbao"

Over the past 50 years, Cuban music has been widely influential on the international scene; political isolation does not appear to have diminished its development. Pianist/arranger Duran spent most of the 80's as musical director for Arturo Sandoval's Cuban aggregation, and now, in the 90's, he emerges as a potentially powerful musical voice, "a visionary in Afro-Cuban folkloric" (liner). This 1997 CD, recorded in Havana, is his second release, and he surrounds himself with talented musicians capable of incorporating many varied facets of that musical spectrum. The skillful blending of intricate rhythms and melodic beauty ("Longina"/"Three for One") is only one of the many unfolding surprises here. The presence of Jane Bunnett (soprano/flute) on such numbers as "Alfredo's Mood", "Brasiliangada", and "Timba Mabo" speaks for the dedication of his followers. As a pianist, Duran defies categorization, delicately lyrical at one moment ("Longina"), percussively explorative the next ("Les Tres Golpes"). The insistent rhythmic backdrop provided by Changuito (timbales) and Tata Guines (congas) is exemplary. Certainly, it is impossible not to be moved (literally) by this music. (J.S.)

Justin Time 101-2to order

Peter Dent - "An Old-Fashioned Hymn Swing"

Prepare yourself for an unusual repertoire! Pianist Peter Dent, familiar both with jazz and the music of the church, has compiled a dozen hymn tunes, endowed them with the engaging names of his own, and applied a swinging style to their performance on this 1996 disc recorded at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church in Vancouver. Hence, "Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun" becomes "Don't Get Around Duke Street Anymore", "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow" is "Doc' Ology", and "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" is "A Love Devine" ( a la Coltrane). Dent is joined by bassist Danny Parker and drummer Joel Fountain; the enthusiasm, commitment and vigour of the trio is limited only by a playing time of about 40 minutes. The liner notes are informative as well as intriguing.

Bopedo 1001 to order

Freddie Hubbard - "Straight Life"

Freddie Hubbard is a first class musician who, for four decades, has struggled with an identity built around classic recordings made under the designation of others (Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz/Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch/Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage). In the 70's, with Creed Taylor's CTI label, he found for a brief time, the recognition he had been seeking; both this album (reissue), and the earlier Red Clay session were tremendously popular and well-received by those who had developed a taste for the electric, funky sounds of the time. The two feature numbers, "Straight Life" and "Mr.Clean", are dominated by an unrelenting rhythm which dictates both tempo and mood. Joe Henderson's choppy, aggressive tenor and Hubbard's crisp, brassy, polished attacks, rise above this persussive overlay, aided by Hancock's vibe-like tones at the keyboard and George Benson's spare, flattened picking on guitar. The final ballad, "Here's that Rainy Day" is almost an anticlimactic addendum to what preceded it. Hubbard reflects the trends of the day, yet shows his mettle in a leadership role. On CD, it runs an untimely 37 minutes however. (J.S.)

CTI ZK 65125 to order

Milt Jackson - "Sunflower"

Milt Jackson celebrated his 74th birthday this year. Best known for his long affiliation with the Modern Jazz Quartet, he shows here, in this 1972 recording (reissue), his adaptability to the new musical forces of that period. He had a strong desire to fashion a new format for his considerable talents, and CTI was interested in offering musicians "an opportunity to considerably broaden their audience" (liner). Though enmeshed at times in the heavily lush reed/string arrangements of Don Sebesky, especially on such numbers as "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" and "For Someone I Love", he transcends that barrier, with the help of Hancock, Ron Carter and Billy Cobham on "Sunflower" and his own composition, "SKJ", to show us the range, vibrancy and uniqueness that have made him one of the most respected and creative vibraphonists in jazz. (J.S.)

CTI ZK 65131 to order

Hubert Laws - "In the Beginning"

Flautist Hubert Laws draws upon a wide range of musical touchstones on this 1974 recording (reissue), and the result is a pleasing amalgam of stylistic variations. From a relaxed, blues-centred title tune with subtle tempo shifts by bassist Ron Carter and drummer Steve Gadd, to lyrically gossamer renditions of "Restoration" and "Reconciliation", an ethereal treatment of Satie's "Gymnopedie #1", a restrained but emotional gospel treatment of "Come Ye Disconsolate", a virtuosic display of the limits to which a flute may be transported with Sonny Rollin's "Airegin" and John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice", and the Latin-edged, funky original "Mean Lene", Laws shows us that the instrument has come a long way since Wayman Carver's 1930's efforts. Laws proves not only that he is one of the premier flautists on the scene, but also that the flute deserves wider recognition for its versatility in the jazz idiom, a reality thus far proven by only a handful of performers. (J.S.)

CTI ZK 65127 to order

Joe Henderson - "Porgy and Bess"

RealAudio Sample
Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson has recently been courting the "Theme" albums for Verve. This latest effort finds him in great company, with some well-crafted arrangements by Joe, Kevin Hayes and Conrad Herwig. The material chosen is well produced and allows Henderson to move well within the limits of said material.

One is tempted to make comparisons with the wonderful Miles Davis/Gil Evans recording on Columbia or the Oscar Peterson session for Verve, but this particular recording will, I think, over time run on par with those.

The small group is outstanding with previously mentioned Herwig on trombone, John Scofield - guitar (gets better every time I hear him), Stefon Harris - vibes, the beautiful Tommy Flanagan - piano, Dave Holland - bass and Jack DeJohnette - drums.

Outstanding tracks include "Bess, You is My Woman Now", a duet with Henderson and Flanagan, that calls for repeated playing to fully appreciate the wonder of these two giants of jazz, and the instrumental version of "Summertime". There is a vocal version with Chaka Khan, the one disappointment, her voice is shrill and lacks sincerity for this particular piece. It really is supposed to be a ballad. Scofield is surprising to listen to as he blends with the other musicians and his solos are a pure joy to hear. The sound quality on the CD is superb, one can hear every little nuance. But...the liner notes leave a lot to be desired, I'm sure they are very interesting, but one cannot read them without a magnifying glass, and they are blocked out by graphics and dark colours. Regardless, pick this one up, it will make for many happy hours of listening and a worthy addition to your Joe Henderson collection. (H.H.)

Verve 539 048-2 to order

Ranee Lee - "Seasons of Love"

RealAudio Sample
Ranee Lee's latest recording for the Justin Time label is full of pleasant surprises. With husband Richard Ring on guitar, Tilden Webb - piano, Jeff Hamilton - drums, John Clayton - bass and special guest David Murray on four of the twelve tracks, she takes on familiar paths with some very special tunes. My favourites are "Early Autumn", "Let the Flowers Grow", "Summer Me, Winter Me", and "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most".But all twelve tracks offer a caressive passion, sparkling elegance and a gorgeous voice from a lady who knows how to captivate. As Jurgen Gothe says in the liner notes "Dig out the '63 port, light a fire, set a cat on your lap and someone you like beside you, and listen to the Season a la Ranee" (H.H.)

Justin Time Just 103-2 to order

Highly recommended CD's without reviews, star rated as follows:

***** excellent. **** good

These are some of the many CD's we at Jazz Canadiana suggest for your fall/winter buying:

Rating Artist Title Label & Cat. No.
***** Dave McMurdo "Fire and Song" Sackville SK2CD-5004
***** Jack Sheldon "Playing for Change" Uptown UPCD 27.43
**** George Benson "Beyond the Blue Horizon" CTI ZK 65130
***** Paul Desmond "Skylark" CTI ZK 65133
**** Art Blakey "The Jazz Messengers" Columbia CK 65265
***** Dexter Gordon "Sophisticated Giant" Columbia CK 65295
***** Bud Powell "A Portrait of Thelonious" Columbia CK 65187
***** Miles Davis "Quiet Nights" Columbia CK 65293
***** Miles Davis "Sketches of Spain" Columbia CK 65142
***** Miles Davis "Miles" Columbia CK 65121

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