What would life be without music? A nullity, no doubt. It would surely be “an error” as Nietzsche said. And what would music be without Jazz? Wouldn’t it be a white page waiting desperately for the interplay of little black mute, but so melodious and expressive, entities to make it meaningful to some lonesome keen ears? Yes, that's Jazz: black and white meet to go beyond sensitiveness to forge out of ivory and brass, with their pain and joy, a world, so tuned to make both hell and paradise jealous. Let there be JAZZ & JAZZ Only.
Hamidou Hamdan

"It's when one is not staring that art works"
Gilbert Sorrentino

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We need to remember to take the time to show gratitude to artists by putting hands in our purses (of course if we can afford such comfort), and willingly treasure the generous intention to buy their recordings.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Conrad Herwig: New York Breed - (1996 - Double Time Jazz)

 Conrad Herwig is one of New York's more prominent young progressive/mainstream trombonists. He has recorded and/or performed with a number of  famous leaders, including, but not limited to, Joe Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, and Paquito D'Rivera. Herwig is an alumni of the famous University of North Texas jazz program, an experience that obviously prepared him well as a big band player. He began his professional career in the early '80s with Clark Terry's big band; stints with Buddy Rich, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Mel Lewis, and others were to follow. Herwig has become an increasingly in-demand sideman in the '90s. He is an accomplished pedagogue, having taught clinics and workshops around the world. Currently, Herwig is on the faculty at William Patterson College in New Jersey. His seventh album as a leader, The Latin Side of John Coltrane, emphasizes an affinity for South American idioms. Criss Cross followed in 1998, and a year later Herwig resurfaced with Osteology. Unseen Universe followed in fall 2000.
All players on this album are New York veteran jazz pros. The tune choice is uptempo primarily new compositions, with a few really modern sets of changes. Nonetheless the bone player is not tripped up (I probably would be!) and the whole thing still swings.

1. Code Mode
2. Search For Peace
3. Cousin Mary
4. For Heaven's Sake
5. Gatekeeper
6. 40 Bars
7. Deluge
8. In The Wee Small Hours
9. New Breed
10. I'll Take Romance
Conrad Herwig (Trombone);
Dave Leibman (Sop & Ten Sax);
Richie Beirach (Piano);
Rufus Reid (Bass);
Adam Nussbaum (Drums).
Original Release Date: March 18th, 1996 - Label: Double Time Jazz
It's here:  Part1    Part2

Jim Snidero - Standards + Plus (2000 - Double Time)

Supported by a flawless grooving rhythm section (pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist Dennis Irwin, drummer Kenny Washington), Snidero finesses his way through this set with a level of expertise that makes it seem like he was born hugging an alto saxophone.
The group's swinging treatment of "You And The Night And The Music" works two perspectives at the same time in that it marries a modal approach with straight changes; Snidero floats over the extended vamp with flexible phrases, While Ledonne fluidly negotiates the less harmonically stationary section of the arrangement.
"Round Midnight" gives Snidero a chance to lay back and relax, seamlessly moving from lyrical, succinct ideas to more active lines. And "Bluesville" is a medium tempo 12-bar outing that adds a funky factor to the otherwise sophisticated program. Throughout the set, LeDonne does everything right, pumping out hip voicings and fills that catalyze Snidero, enabling him to improvise with exceptional freedom and fluency.
JazzTimes (Jim Ferguson)

1. You and the Night and the Music
2. Long Ago (And Far Away)
3. 'Round Midnight
4. Twilight Waltz
5. Along Came Betty
6. You're My Everything
7. Bluesville
8. What's New?
9. Without a Song

Jim Snidero (Alt Sax)
Mike LeDonne (Piano)
Dennis Irwin (Bass)
Kenny Washington (Drums)
Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 28. & 29. 8. 1997 - Label: Double Time

It's here:   Standards + Plus
Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bob Berg: Another Standard (1997 - Concord Jazz)

 "In order for a tune to become a standard," says Karen Bennett in her liner notes, "it has to have enough appeal and substance to keep both musician and listener engaged on many levels for many years." Late Miles alumnus Bob Berg's Another Standard asserts that status for a lineup of familiar but not front-line tunes: "You and the Night and the Music," "Summer Wind," the Beatles' almost unrecognizable "Michelle," "Just in Time," "My Man's Gone Now" from Porgy and Bess, "All the Way," "It Was a Very Good Year," "I Could Write a Book," and his own "No Trouble."
Most of this is a "standard" quartet date, featuring Berg on tenor and soprano, David Kikoski on piano, Ed Howard on bass, and Gary Novak on drums. Randy Brecker chimes in with trumpet and flugelhorn on the Gershwin tune and "I Could Write a Book," and Berg enlists Mike Stern's guitar on his own track.
Berg is a devout and thoroughgoing Coltraneian. He attacks "You and the Night and the Music" as if it's "Giant Steps," adding a few Impulse!-era phrase resolutions involving tinges of keening and honking; on "Summer Wind" he appends little commenting tags to his completed phrases, just like the man who recorded all those dates for Prestige. "Michelle" and "Just in Time" are more individual for the most part, but both eventually arrive in Sheets-of-Soundville before it's through. The liner notes explicitly compare his soprano interplay with Kikoski on "It Was a Very Good Year" to Coltrane and Tyner on "My Favorite Things," but the xerox machine was evidently set to copy light. A good bit of this — try "All the Way"— sounds like the lost seventeenth disc from Trane's mammoth Prestige box set. As far as I know, that box is still in print.
"My Man's Gone Now" sounds like the lost movement of A Love Supreme, which is certainly an original take on Porgy and Bess. Brecker sounds here a good bit like Wynton Marsalis playing the Coltrane masterpiece, although the Gershwin strains come through strongly in his impassioned solo. The original, "No Trouble," betrays a more Ornetteish flavor than Berg shows otherwise; it could be an outtake from Coltrane's venture into Ornette Land with Don Cherry on The Avant-Garde.
Bob Berg is clearly a virtuoso instrumentalist. When Miles Davis hired him, he knew what he was doing (maybe all the way down to the Coltrane inflections.) Berg's command is total and flawless. His mates, Kikoski in particular, are fine, although the rhythm section sounds a little dulled, what with thirty years of rock and disco between us and Coltrane's quartet with Elvin Jones. One may hope that in his next outing he leaves aside his homage to Coltrane and lets listeners hear a little more of his own voice. After all, in an improviser's art, that's what it's all about.
All About Jazz (Robert Spencer)

1. You And The Night And The Music
2. Summer Wind
3. Michelle
4. Just In Time
5. My Man’s Gone Now
6. All The Way
7. No Trouble
8. It Was A Very Good Year
9. I Could Write A Book

Bob Berg (Sop & Tenor Sax)
Randy Brecker (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
David Kikoski (Piano)
Mike Stern (Guitar)
Ed Howard (Bass)
Gary Novak (Drums)
Recording information: Sound And Sound Studios, New York, NY (1997)
Original Release Date: September 30, 1997 - Concord Jazz
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Bob Mintzer - In The Moment (2004 - Art Of Life)

Horror writer Stephen King once wrote that you can drink vintage wine out of a piece of fine crystal or out of a Flintstones jelly glass. The drink is the same but there is a difference. In the realm of mainstream jazz, there's a similar difference between playing all the right notes and actually meaning them. Given the number of mainstream records released every year it's a challenge to separate those that speak the truth from those that simply speak. Saxophonist Bob Mintzer's In the Moment is a clear case of a fine drink in an equally fine glass.
More often than not, when not recording and touring with the contemporary Yellowjackets, Mintzer's own projects have focused on larger ensembles, like Old School: New Lessons (MCG Jazz, 2006) and Live at MCG with Kurt Elling (MCG Jazz, 2004), both with his longstanding big band. In the Moment keeps things small and simple, with a crack quartet featuring pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer John Riley. It may not rattle any cages, but it's a thoroughly captivating set of Mintzer originals, with one tune by Markowitz and a couple of covers thrown in for good measure.
There's plenty of straight-ahead swing on the aptly titled "Straight Ahead, with Anderson and Riley sticking to traditional roles but remaining responsive in ways that are more often felt than heard. Anderson also takes a well-constructed solo that begs the question of why, when he's appeared on over two hundred recordings since the late '70s, is he not better known outside of musician circles?
Elsewhere Mintzer mines modal territory ("Aha ), gentle balladry ("Simple Song ), mid-tempo "I Got Rhythm changes ("What's the Word ) and light bossa ("Play Pretty ). Markowitz is a player with an encyclopedic knowledge of the tradition and just enough zest to set it subtly on edge now and again. Economical without sacrificing energy, he provides meaningful pushes that underscore Mintzer, while being equally adept at solos with substance.
The quartet swings comfortably on the Styne/Cahn standard "Time After Time and brings out some soulful funk on the Eddie Harris staple, "Listen Here. Mintzer's "Blues is, indeed, a conventional albeit soulful blues, with Mintzer making a difference by leading the quartet on bass clarinet.
Mintzer manages to combine a stylistic physicality, regardless of context, with a thoughtful approach that avoids overstatement. Lyrical, lithely swinging and with nothing to prove, Mintzer's In the Moment makes it clear that there's plenty of room for unassuming straight-ahead jazz, as long as it's played from the head and heart.
All About Jazz (John Kelman )

01.Straight Ahead
02.Listen Here
03.Time After Time
05.Simple Song
06.What's the Word
07.Play Pretty

Bob Mintzer (Clarinet, Ten sax)
Phil Markowitz (Piano)
Jay Anderson (Bass)
John Riley (Drums).
Recording information: BiCoastal Music, Ossining, NY (Dec 16th, 2004) - Label: Art of Life Records

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Steve Davis Vibe Up! - (1998 - Criss-Cross)

Steve Davis' fourth Criss Cross set as a leader has a different instrumentation than his previous sets. The trombonist is teamed with vibraphonist Steve Nelson and guitarist Peter Bernstein in a sextet/septet that also includes pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Joe Farnsworth, and (on three of the eight songs) altoist Mike DiRubbo. Davis, who in addition to being a Curtis Fuller-inspired trombonist is an underrated composer, wrote five of the eight songs and the band also plays Thad Jones' "The Summary" and one song apiece from Peter Bernstein and Leonard Bernstein ("Somewhere"). Despite the unfamiliar material, the swinging hard bop style is quite accessible to straight-ahead jazz listeners and the blend between the trombone, vibes, and guitar is quite attractive. All of Steve Davis' Criss Cross sets are well worth acquiring.
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1.    Vibe Up! (Steve Davis)
    2.    It's The Little Things That Count (Steve Davis)
    3.    Somewhere (Leonard Bernstein)
    4.    Blue Domain (Steve Davis)
    5.    The Summary (Thad Jones)
    6.    Three-Way Street (Peter Bernstein)
    7.    Tournesol (Steve Davis)
    8.    Mode For Damo (Steve Davis)
Steve Davis (Trb)
Steve Nelson (Vibr)
Peter Bernstein (Guitar)
Mike DiRubbo (Alt Sax)
David Hazeltine (Piano)
Peter Washington (Bass)
Joe Farnsworth (Drums)
Recorded December 19, 1998 in Brooklyn, NY, USA by Max Bolleman
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Friday, January 7, 2011

Grant Stewart: In The Still Of The Night (2007 - Sharp Nine)

 The field of saxophonists is crowded today, which is undoubtedly why we aren’t better acquainted with Grant Stewart, a 35-year-old Canadian who favors the kind of old-school hard bop that made household names of Joe Henderson and Dexter Gordon. Though he’s young, Stewart already has several fine discs under his belt, having made his debut with no less than Brad Mehldau as one of his sidemen. But now Stewart has gone and done it—he’s released a perfect album of classic-style jazz.
In the Still of the Night evokes the best Blue Note records of the 1950s and ’60s. Sure, there’s a lot of head-solo-solo-solo-head format here, but Stewart’s adherence to convention should not be confused with lack of originality—check out, for instance, the hair-on-the-neck-raising two-bar phrase he blows just as he starts his solo on “If Ever I Would Leave You.”
His work on a speedy take of the title track is flawless—he plays behind time, he plays against time, all the while spilling forth a flurry of notes. His warm, brawny tenor is glorious on “Autumn in New York,” as his solo spirals further and further from the theme while his quartet (featuring pianist Tardo Hammer, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Joe Farnsworth) takes the tempo from ballad to burner and back. Stewart’s supporting cast is just that—this is his showcase, after all—though Hammer gets in some nice solos, including a great one on Thelonious Monk’s “Work.” Half a century after hard bop’s heyday, Grant Stewart is one practitioner who finds new ways to express himself through it.

1  In the Still of the Night  Porter  6:32 
2  Theme for Ernie  Lacey  6:42 
3  Wives and Lovers  Bacharach, David  7:47 
      4  Autumn in New York  Duke  8:30 
      5  If Ever I Would Leave You  Lerner, Loewe  7:54 
      6  Work  Monk  8:03 
      7  Lush Life  Strayhorn  8:37 
      8  Loads of Love  Rodgers  6:18 

Grant Stewart (Ten Sax)
Tardo Hammer (Piano)
Peter Washington (Bass);
Joe Farnsworth (Drums)
Recording information: Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, NY (10/17/2006)
Original Release Date: 2007 - Label: Sharp Nine

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Will Vinson: Stockholm Syndrome (2010 - Criss Cross)

Saxophonist Will Vinson performs the oft-attempted but rarely accomplished feat of producing fresh and original music with an open affection for tradition. He carefully walks the tightrope, all the while risking falling—on one side into shallow mimicry, and on the other into art music.
Stockholm Syndrome—Vinson's first Criss Cross release and an appropriately heady mixture of standards and originals—finds the alto saxophonist developing a distinct and personal lyricism. The album brings together five of New York's best young musicians, with the express goal of creating a new sound. The product seems to be the grandchild of West Coast jazz, including all of its melancholy, grace, and manner, but leaving out its occasional mawkishness. Perhaps it is no coincidence, then, that Vinson updates compositions by both saxophonist Paul Desmond and pianist Bill Evans.
On Vinson's originals, serpentine melodies and mesmerizing drum figures quickly draw attention. It is, however, the standards that are the highpoint of this recording. Lage Lund's acoustic guitar shimmers on the dark and evocative "You Wouldn't Forget Me," before an exhilarating rendition of Cole Porter's "Everything I Love," which features drummer Kendrick Scott's impressive technique and exceptional taste. The album closes with a spirited and uplifting take of an obscure Evans composition, "Show Type Tune," which finds Vinson in a trio setting with just piano and drums.
With Stockholm Syndrome, Vinson continues to prove himself a leading force on his instrument, but perhaps even more importantly as a focused bandleader. He demonstrates the ability to build a commanding narrative with his compositions and with the overall sound of the group. The album is beautifully conceived and seems to say everything it wants to say. As Vinson appears to have chosen brevity over bravado, there are no extra phrases or choruses. He chooses musicality above all else—the simple quality too often spurned by the vanguard of contemporary jazz.
All About Jazz (David Lighton)

01. Squeeze
02. Dear Old Stockholm Syndrome
03. Late Lament
04. Dean Street Rundown
05. Icronic
06. You Wouldn't Forget Me
07. Everything I Love
08. Party Of One
09. Show Type Tune 

Will Vinson (Sop Sax, Alto Sax)
Lage Lund (Guitar)
Aaron Parks (Piano)
Kendrick Scott (Drums)
Recorded on June, 2nd  2010 - Label: Criss Cross
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Ximo Tebar: Goes Blue (1998 - Sunny Side)

Goes Blue is the third entry in Ximo Tebar's Jazz Guitar Trio series, which has featured the Spanish guitarist playing with such luminaries as Idris Muhammad and Joey DeFrancesco. On this entry, Tebar and Muhammad are joined by Dr. Lonnie Smith and, on three tracks, Lou Donaldson. Listeners will not find anything too challenging or surprising, but the performances are always accomplished and solid, as should be expected from the quality of the players involved.
The three numbers featuring Donaldson are obvious highlights. His opening wail on a slow burn version of "Laura is suitably dramatic, paving the way for his smooth, sensitive solo. Donaldson also appears on a fun version of "Midnight Creeper, which he first performed with Muhammad and Smith back in 1968 with George Benson on guitar. Tebar fits in nicely with a tart, exuberant solo. As always, Smith flashes deep soul with every note and Muhammad cultivates a rock-solid beat.
Tebar deviates from the soul-jazz underpinnings of most of the numbers with a lush, delicate take on Mancini's "Days Of Wine And Roses. His introduction is quite lyrical and contrasts nicely with the choppy rhythm the rest of the band creates when it enters. Smith applies some lovely dark colors throughout. Goes Blue is a relaxed outing that features some great players in a casual frame of mind. It is far from essential, but still highly enjoyable.
All About jazz (Stephen Latessa)

01. Goes Blue Tebar 
02. I Love You Porter 
03. Laura Mercer, Raksin 
04. Days of Wine and Roses Mancini 
05. Invitation Kaper, Webster 
06. Midnight Creeper Donaldson 
07. Come to Me Tebar 
08. Blues Walk Donaldson 

Ximo Tebar  (Guitar)
Dr. Lonnie Smith  (Hammond B3)
Idris Muhammad (Drums)
Lou Donaldson (Sax)
Recorded in Nov 1998 - Label: Sunnyside

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Steve Grossman: I'm Confessin' - (1992 - Dreyfus Jazz)

It’s Paris, 1992, and Steve Grossman is hosting a recording session with fellow tenor man Harold Land. The tunes are mostly familiar, the mood relaxed, and the performances, including those that feature just one reedman, are consistently enhanced by the presence of a rhythm section that boasts Jimmy Cobb on drums.
Miles Davis’ “Vierd Blues” sets the tone, with the two tenors joining Cobb, pianist Fred Henke and bassist Reggie Johnson for a little stroll before engaging in a series of four-bar exchanges. Grossman projects a robust sound while Land, who died in 2001, favors a lighter touch and brighter tone. That contrast is maintained throughout the tenor tandems, including those inspired by a pair of Thelonious Monk tunes: “Let’s Cool One,” which casually lives up to its title and showcases bassist Johnson, and “San Francisco Holiday,” a reminder of Land’s work with the composer and a vibrant album coda. When the tenorists go it alone, Grossman responds with a interpretation of the album’s title track that builds dramatically, with Cobb shifting from brushes to sticks, while Land contributes a soulful rendering of “Born To Be Blue.”
There’s nothing indispensable here, even for fans of the respective reedmen, just ample proof of common ground, chemistry and camaraderie, which is entertainment enough. The session ends before you know it, and not merely because it clocks in at a scant 50 minutes.
1 Vierd Blues Davis 
2 Circus Alter, Russell
3 I'm Confessin' Dougherty, Neiburg, Reynolds
4 Sandrow Grossman
5 Born to Be Blue Torme, Wells 
6 Let's Cool One Monk 
7 San Francisco Holiday Monk

Steve Grossman (Ten Sax )
Harold Land Sax (Ten Sax)
Fred Henke (Piano)
Reggie Johnson (Bass)
Jimmy Cobb (Drums)
Recorded at Studio Ferber, Paris (France) from June 29 to Juyl 2, 1992
Release Date:  Apr 24th, 2007 Label : Dreyfus Jazz
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Monday, January 3, 2011

Eddie Henderson – A Tribute To Lee Morgan (1995 - NYC)

Unlike many of the other recent tribute albums, this program of the music of the late trumpeter Lee Morgan casts his compositions in familiar surroundings not all that different from the original recordings. Trumpeter Eddie Henderson, who was influenced by Morgan but found his own voice, is a good choice for the lead role and his muted outing on the one non-Morgan piece, "You Don't Know What Love Is," is a strong feature. Tenorman Joe Lovano, who can sound like Joe Henderson at times and hints at the passion of Coltrane on the date's most advanced piece "Search for the New Land," has a strong personality of his own and matches well with Eddie Henderson. The solid rhythm section (pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Billy Higgins) is a major asset while Grover Washington, Jr., makes a pair of guest appearances on soprano and shows once again that he can play swinging soulful jazz; pity that he never seems to play tenor in this type of setting. The eight Lee Morgan songs heard on this album are interpreted in the same basic hard bop style that the trumpeter spent most of his career playing, an idiom that serves as the modern jazz mainstream of today. Highlights include "Sidewinder," "Ceora," "Speedball" (which has some heated tradeoffs by the horns) and the infectious "Ca-Lee-So." 
Scott Yanow

01.The Lion And The Wolff
05.You Don’t Know What Love Is
06.Kozo’s Waltz
09.Search For The New Land

Eddie Henderson (trumpet)
Grover Washington, Jr. (op sax)
Joe Lovano (Tenor Sax)
Cedar Walton (piano);
Peter Washington (Bass)
Billy Higgins (drums).
Release Date:  Apr 24th, 1995 - Label: NYC
Recording information: Sound on Sound, New York, NY (From March, 12th 1994 to , April, 12th 1994)

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Eric Dolphy - The Illinois Concert (1963 - Blue Note)

 Eric Dolphy is now recognized as an innovative genius, but in the ’60s he was ignored by the public and derided by critics and many of his peers. Originally influenced by Charlie Parker, Dolphy was a master alto saxophonist/flautist and was one of a handful of musicians who utilized the bass clarinet in a jazz setting. The Illinois Concert was taped at the University of Illinois in 1963 and represents a major addition to the Dolphy discography. The rhythm section, a young Herbie Hancock (piano), Eddie Khan (bass), J.S. Moses (drums), is augmented by the University of Illinois Brass Ensemble on Red Planet and G.W. Dolphy’s splendid improvisations deftly straddle the line separating hard bop and free jazz; alternating between melodious sweetness and harsh intensity. The highlight of the set is Dolphy’s unaccompanied bass clarinet tour de force, God Bless The Child. Except for his under-miked flute on South Street Exit (which fails to detract from Dolphy’s brilliant solo) the sound is very good. Kudos to Blue Note for unearthing this long-buried treasure
All About jazz (John Sharpe)

1. Softly as in a Morning Sunrise
2. Something Sweet, Something Tender
3. God Bless The Child
4. South Street Exit
5. Iron Man
6. Red Planet
7. G.W.

Eric Dolphy  (flute, bass clarinet, Alto Sax)
Eddie Khan (bass)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
J.C. Moses (drums)
Vince Johnson, Kim Richmond (reeds)
Bruce Scafe, Dick Montz, Larry Franklin (trumpet)
Jon English , Bob Edmondson (trombone);
Aaron Johnson (tuba)
Ralph Woodward, Cecil Bridgewater (brass)
Recorded live at the University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois on March 10, 1963. - Label: Blue Note Records
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