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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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Woody Shaw: Dark Journey (To My Dear Yussef)

Dark Journey is a 2-CD compilation of some of the best recordings by the great trumpeter Woody Shaw. Tracks are gathered from recordings dating from 1965 to 1987, and most impressive is the breadth of the guest list: Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Cedar Walton, Kenny Garrett, J. J. Johnson, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver, Larry Young, Elvin Jones, Herbie Hancock, Paul Chambers, and Ron Carter, along with Shavians like Steve Turre and Onaje Allen Gumbs.

Anyone unfamiliar with the astoundingly accomplished trumpet work of Woody Shaw should start with Dark Journey. There are two tracks from what is arguably his best album, The Moontrane. His incisive 1965 album with Joe Henderson, Cassandranite, is represented with three cuts. One track is taken from Woody's sideman gig on Larry Young's legendary Unity, and one from another Blue Note classic, Horace Silver, with the man who was then the Hard Bop New Pop and J. J. Johnson's sharp-as-a-tack trombone. There are five tracks from Woody's later albums, Solid (three) and Imagination (two). These should dispel any doubt that the man's powers were failing near the end — although a skillful choice of material may be compensating for the loss of a step or two.
It seems like a long way from J. J. Johnson to Anthony Braxton, but Shaw sounds at home in all settings. Of course, the most maverick of the guest stars — Abrams and Braxton — play it straighter here than they are usually given credit for doing, dancing with Shaw through an utterly delightful rendering of "Jitterbug Waltz," a tune made famous by one of Shaw's early boosters, Eric Dolphy. "Spiderman Blues," from 1983, show our man in fine form, as does the aching ballad "Imagination" (1987) but in another way. Steve Turre's trombone on "Imagination" is especially noteworthy. Shaw is subdued here but shows some of the old fire on a dark take of Bobby Timmons' loping "Dat Dere," from the same session.
The material from Cassandranite and The Moontrane is the pick of this lot. "Cassandranite" itself and "Sanyas" from The Moontrane are among the best tracks this trumpeter ever recorded, and he recorded a lot of great music. Thanks to Joel Dorn and 32 Jazz, Woody Shaw may finally begin to get some of the recognition he so richly deserves.
All About Jazz

CD 1 (1977 – 87):
1 Jitterbug Waltz (Maltby, Waller)
 2 Spiderman Blues (Shaw)
3 Imagination (Burke, VanHeusen)
4 Solid (Rollins)
5 Dat Dere (Brown, Timmons0
6 Speak Low (Nash, Weill)
7 The Woody Woodpecker Song (Idriss, Tibbles)

Personnel: (CD 1)
Woody Shaw Trumpet
Anthony Braxton Clarinet (1)
Muhal Richard Abrams Piano (1) 
Cecil McBee Bass (1)
Victor Lewis Drums (1)
Cedar Walton Piano (2)
Buster Williams Bass (2)
Victor Jones Drums (2, 4, 6, 7)
Kirk Lightsey Piano (3, 5)
Steve Turre Trombone (3, 5)
Ray Drummond Bass (3, 5)
Carl Allen Drums (3, 5)
Kenny Garrett Sax (Alto) (4, 6)
Kenny Barron Piano (4, 6, 7)
Neil Swainson Bass (4, 6, 7)

CD 2 (1965 – 74):
1 Nutville (Silver)
2 The Moontrane (Shaw)    

3 Tetragon (Henderson)  
4 Baloo Baloo (Johnson)    

5 Cassandranite (Shaw)   

6 Obsequious (Young)  
7 Katrina Ballerina (Shaw)  
8 Sanyas (Turre) 13:05

CD 2: (Personnel)
Woody Shaw Trumpet
J.J. Johnson Trombone (1)
Joe Henderson Sax (Tenor) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Horace Silver Piano (1)
Bob Cranshaw Bass (1)
Roger Humphries Drums (1)
Larry Young Organ (2, Piano (5, 6)
Elvin Jones Drums (2)
Herbie Hancock Piano (3, 4)
Paul Chambers Bass (3, 4)
Joe Chambers Drums (3, 4, 5, 6)
Ron Carter Bass (5, 6)
Azar Lawerence Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor) (7,8)
Steve Turre Trombone (7, 8)
Onaje Allan Gumbs Piano, Piano (Electric) (7, 8)
Cecil McBee Bass (7,8)
Victor Lewis Drums (7, 8)
Tony Waters Congas (7)
Guilherme Franco Percussion (7)

Released on September 23rd, 1997 - Label: 32. Jazz Records

The Dark Journey  

Didié à mon cher Imad
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sean Jones: Eternal Journey (Mack Avenue - 2004)

Sean Jones makes a splash into the pool of jazz trumpet players with this debut recording. At 25 years old, Jones has a sound that's reminiscent of other modern trumpeters in the vein of Marcus Printup, Nicholas Payton, and Roy Hargrove. A teacher and student pursuing a doctorate at Duquesne University, his musical credits include names such as Jon Faddis, Joe Lovano, and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra.
Though Jones is considerably new on the block, Eternal Journey benefits from a stellar group of musicians which includes Ralph Peterson, Mulgrew Miller, Orrin Evans, and newcomer Tia Fuller, who contributes impressively on saxophone and flute. Veteran Charles Fambrough rounds out the set of musicians with solid bass work.
The eleven compositions include five written by Jones, two by Fuller, and four standards. Jones has a controlled and sparkling sound that is evident on the opening up-tempo piece “Gullyism” with rapid solos. He also performs with poise on the mellow title “Eternal Journey” with the addition of Fuller’s lovely flute work. Things do get interesting on “The Serpent” with its circuitous syncopation and urban-styled flair.
The veterans perform as expected with Peterson’s all encompassing drum work and Miller and Evans shining on piano. On “The Last Minute” the art of hard bop is shown in full effect as everyone glows with intense performances. Jones plays like a veteran and brings to mind another seasoned trumpeter, Terence Blanchard, on the soulful “95 South.” On an interesting interpretation of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Jones completely shines in terms of composition and harmony as he makes his own statement on the classic.
While seasoned listeners may find little new on Eternal Journey , they will be treated to some well executed music and the revelation that Jones is a skilled player with presence and potential.
All About Jazz    

Track List:
1. Gullyism
2. Eternal Journey
3. John
4. The Serpent
5. You Are My Everything
6. God Bless the Child
7. At the Last Minute
8. Searching
9. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Bruce's Rainbow)
10. 95 South
11. The Very Thought of You

SSean Jones (trumpet)
Tia Fuller  (Alto and sopr sax, flute)
Mulgrew Miller (piano)
Orrin Evans (piano)
Charles Fambrough (bass)
Ralph Peterson (drums)
Released on May 18th, 2004 - Label: Mack Avenue

Eternal  Journey 
Monday, May 14, 2012

Bobby Selvaggio: Modern Times (Arabesque Jazz - 2009)

Alto saxophonist Bobby Selvaggio carries an expressive torch when he fronts this ensemble. His fifth CD as leader brings nine original pieces and a cover of "You've Changed" into the improvisation arena for a program of acoustic modern jazz that ranges from quirky and dynamic to bluesy and frank. His fluid tone and easygoing articulation carry the alto and soprano on a journey that respects tradition while pumping new energy into the scene. Selvaggio leaps with high-octane drive on numerous romps and simmers gently with passion on the session's ballads.
A few expressive squeals and experienced blue tones help the leader to create his message with class. He and trumpeter Sean Jones interpret "More or Less" with an authentic legacy that recalls Cannonball Adderley feeling down home and pretty much at ease. Along with piano, double bass and background drums, the quintet shines enthusiastically in its candor. Walking bass and an economical rhythm make this track stand out as an automatic favorite. The same happens with "Fastfood Wisdom," which provides sparks for Selvaggio's quintet in a flurry of expressive conversation. This unit has plenty to say, and it's all highly creative.
Selvaggio's title track takes a dreamy situation and allows it to ramble with lethargy as a tired soul with moaning interest. Other selections, such as "Out of Time" and "Timbuktu Step," follow a quicker pace that provides spontaneity and refreshing solace. Selvaggio moves randomly through a field where nothing stays the same as he lifts the music and shares it with his fellow artists in a show of rhythmic variety.
Pianists Kenny Werner and Dan Murphy add considerably to the leader's modern jazz session by planting its harmonic foundation and stretching out with creative solo work. Selvaggio enjoys the interplay and smokes alongside their stellar support. Each track contains a new surprise that finds the saxophonist and his musical partners carrying the jazz torch over uncharted territory.
All About Jazz  

1. Quick Solutions
2. Timbuktu Step
3. You've Changed
4. Whirlwind
5. Waiting
6. More or Less
7. Out of Time
8. Fastfood Wisdom
9. Time Being
10. Modern Times

Bobby Selvaggio: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone (4, 5, 10); 
Kenny Werner: piano (3-5, 7, 9, 10); 
Sean Jones: trumpet (1, 2, 6, 8); 
Matt Wigton: bass; 
Nathan Douds: drums; 
Dan Murphy: piano; 
Paul Tynan: flugelhorn.
Recorded on May 26th, 2009 - Label: Arabesque Jazz

Modern Times
Friday, May 11, 2012

Woody Shaw - Night Music (Wounded Bird, 2009)

After decades of being out of print and not issued on CD, the Elektra Musician series of recordings are slowly being trickled back into the marketplace, with Woody Shaw's Night Music being one of his strongest efforts in the latter days of the fiery, iconic trumpeter's brilliant career. A live recording at the Jazz Forum in New York City, Shaw's saxophone-less sextet sports an incredible front line, with trombonist Steve Turre and vibist Bobby Hutcherson assuring sparks will fly. Pianist Mulgrew Miller is the fuse that sets off the dynamism in this ensemble with his modal block chords and witty, inventive piano runs or solos, while Shaw's longstanding rhythm team of bassist Stafford James and drummer Tony Reedus feed the fire in the burning cauldron of this original post-bop jazz band. Two definitive compositions that will live for all of jazz time are included -- Turre's "Orange Crescent" and Miller's "Apex," both representing the absolute finest modern jazz vehicles of this early-'80s time period. A one-note bassline on the former piece, with Hutcherson and Miller's resonant, repeat, modal three chords, set the trumpet and trombone blazing through this marvelous, choppy, and complex, extended line, while "Apex" is a dazzling display of the pianist's formidable gifts as he sets up a beautiful, memorable melody for Shaw and Turre to wax poetically with total energy and playfulness -- exciting music to be sure. Of course these masters can't help but turn out the best in hard bop, as on Shaw's "To Kill a Brick," perhaps a basketball reference, as the group steams ahead with no messing around or after-effects on a brief melody before jamming away, with Reedus as the quintessential pace maker. The lone standard, "All the Things You Are," sounds like a cakewalk in contrast, but instead is a patient and carefully interpreted take of the single most played standard in jazz history, a languid version over 13 minutes that does cool the ensemble's jets in cut time, but allows an unhurried, relaxed tempo to allow solos that linger on the palate of one's aural sensitivities. This reissue is quite welcome for Shaw devotees, a solid live effort that can proudly stand next to his other concert and club date releases from the Muse label, and the Columbia label issue Stepping Stones. In his prime, Woody Shaw was perhaps the most formidable modern jazz trumpeter of his generation, and this recoding offers proof positive.
CD Universe  

01. Orange Crescent
02. To Kill a Brick
03. Apex
04. All the Things You Are

Woody Shaw (trumpet) 
Steve Turre (trombone) 
Mulgrew Miller (piano) 
Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone) 
Tony Reedus (drums)

Recorded at The Jazz Forum, New York, NY on Feb, 25th, 1982
Released on Mar 17th, 2009 - Label: Wounded Bird

Night Music

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Russell Gunn - Young Gunn (32. Jazz - 1995)

Recorded in 1994 when young lion Russell Gunn was a mere 23 years old, the Muse album Young Gunn is a quintet session with tenor saxophonist Sam Newsome, pianist John Hicks, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Cecil Brooks III. This 32 Jazz reissue adds three tracks with a different quintet. Coming from a background that like that of many younger jazz artists, Russell Gunn learned the trumpet in elementary school, enjoyed and benefited from public school instrumental programs, and allowed his musical interests to range far and wide. That he attended the same high school as Miles Davis shows up in Gunn's pretty ballad tone. His experience includes avant-garde work with Oliver Lake, Wynton Marsalis' Blood On The Fields, and Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque. A more recent recording, Gunn Fu on the High Note label, teams the trumpeter with tenor saxophonist Greg Tardy and flutist Sherman Irby.
The ballads "You Don't Know What Love Is," "There Is No Greater Love," and "Fly Me to the Moon" present straight-ahead mainstream jazz and feature Gunn's lyrical trumpet. "Pannonica," presented as a trumpet-piano duet, offers yet another opportunity to appreciate Gunn's sensitive trumpet tone and manner. The leader's compositions "East St. Louis" and "The Message" represent hard bop ideas with "outside" or avant-garde stretches. The quintet is tight and burns accordingly. "The Concept" invites guest rap artist Chef Word to relate the biographical tale of Russell Gunn's change in focus from everyone's music to jazz. The syncopated hip-hop lyrics include:
"Son of a gun.Old socks, new shoes,Feels kinda like the bluesWith the fat groove.Runnin' the bustos, crush fo's,Chef Word and Russ-o, go with all the gusto.He used to be your MC before we ever played a keister,Got the love as he evolved musically.Straight-ahead, see, as we swing."
Branford Marsalis replaces Sam Newsome on the final three tracks. Recorded in 1995, the additional pieces employ a different piano trio as well, but Gunn is in fine form. He and Marsalis present a fiery hard bop take of Jimmy Heath's "Ginger Bread Boy" that includes solos from all. Recommended.
All About Jazz
1. East St. Louis 
2. Fly Me to the Moon 
3. Wade in the Water 
4. D.J. 
5. You Don't Know What Love Is 
6. The Concept 
7. The Message 
8. There Is No Greater Love 
9. Blue Gene 
10. Pannonica 

Russell Gunn: trumpet 
Sam Newsome, Branford Marsalis: Ten Sax 
John Hicks, James Hurt: Piano 
Peter Washington, Eric Revis: Bass 
Cecil Brooks III, Ali Jackson: Drums 
Chef Word (Derek Washington): rap on "The Concept."
Released on July 14th, 1998 - Label: 32. Jazz Records

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bennie Maupin: Early Reflections (Cryptogramophone - 1998)

After establishing his reputation in the 1960s and 1970s with artists including Miles Davis, Andrew Hill and Herbie Hancock, Bennie Maupin mysteriously disappeared for over a decade. Re-emerging in the 1990s, it's still only been recently—with the release of the overdue reissue of his 1974 ECM classic, The Jewel in the Lotus in 2007, and his first album as a leader in eight years, the sublime Penumbra (Cryptogramophone, 2006)—that the woodwind multi-instrumentalist has returned to greater visibility. Early Reflections's instrumentation may be a more conventional setting than Penumbra's woodwinds/bass/drums/percussion line-up, but it's just as fine, its generally subdued tone broken by occasional bursts of fiery intensity.
Like Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko—who nurtured a young Polish piano trio that has supported him since Soul of Things (ECM, 2000) but has also built its own independent reputation with Trio (ECM, 2005)—Maupin has "discovered" an equally fine trio of Polish musicians in pianist Michael Tokaj, bassist Michal Baranski and drummer Kukasz Zyta.
Like Stanko's find, Maupin's group demonstrates elegant simplicity on the balladic "Inner Sky" and delicately propulsive "Atma." The latter is one of two to feature Hania Chowaniec-Rybka—a singer who, despite this being her first improvisational album away from classical and Tatras folk roots, melds beautifully with Maupin's soprano sax, and with his alto flute on the dark-hued closer, "Spirits of the Tatras." Her improvisational prowess during the extended free opening to "Spirits of the Tatras" transcends conventional scatting with the same kind of timbral explorations as innovators including Meredith Monk and Sidsel Endresen. But while its intro is more vibrant in tone, it ultimately morphs into a brooding ballad feature for the impressionistic Tokaj.
Solo space abounds on the softly Latin-esque "Escondido," a feature for Maupin's signature bass clarinet; the hauntingly beautiful "Tears," with Maupin again on alto flute; the in-and-out-of-time ballad "Inner Sky"; and a more rhythmically defined waltz-time retake of The Jewel in the Lotus' title track that, beginning in simmering subtlety, turns into a burning modal workout for Tokaj and Maupin's most powerful solos of the set.
Breaking up the extended tracks are four miniature collective improvisations that bear a surprising sense of construction. The opening "In Reach," in particular, demonstrates the kind of deep interaction normally only heard from groups with considerably more than the two years this group has under its belt.
Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in artists who first made their name in decades past. It's only been in the past decade that Tomasz Stanko and Enrico Rava have achieved the international visibility they've always deserved, and Maupin can now be added to that list, thanks to Cryptogramophone. Penumbra and the equally outstanding Early Reflections book-end The Jewel in the Lotus—a promise Maupin never managed to follow up—demonstrating two very different sides and making it clear that he's truly back and better than ever.
All About Jazz      

Track listing:
1. Within Reach
2. Escondido
3. Inside the Shadows
5. Ours Again
6. The Jewel in the Lotus
7. Black Ice
8. Tears
9. Not Later Than Now
10. Early Reflections
11. Inner Sky
12. Prophet's Motifs
13. Spirits of the Tatras.

Bennie Maupin: bass clar; ten & sop sax, alt flt
Michal Tokaj: piano 
Michal Baranski: bass 
Lukasz Zyta: drums, percussion 
Hania Chowaniec-Rybka: voice (4, 13).
Recorded on April 22nd, 2008 - Label: Cryptogramophone

Early Reflections      
Monday, May 7, 2012

Brian Lynch Quintet: Back Room Blues (Criss Cross - 1994)

Brian Lynch's second Criss Cross release features the fiery trumpeter in a hard bop quintet with tenor-saxophonist Javon Jackson, pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash. Although the musical style might be familiar, the repertoire (five Lynch originals and one by Hazeltine plus the Dizzy Gillespie-associated "I Waited For You") is not. Lynch digs quite ably into the largely straightahead material and the results are predictably swinging and creative within the tradition.
All Music

1.  Back Room Blues
2.  I Waited For You
3.  One For Mogie
4.  Chandeks's Den
5.  C.K.'s Bossa
6.  Blues For Cramer Street
7.  Confluence

Brian Lynch: trumpet
Javon Jackson: tenor sax.
David Hazeltine: piano
Peter Washington: bass
Lewis Nash: drums
 Recorded at Van Gelder Recording Studio on Dec, 30h 1989
Released on April 6th, 1994 - Label Criss Cross

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mark Soskin: 17 (Seventeen) (TCB - 2001)

Pianist Mark Soskin is widely known for his long time affiliation with tenor sax titan, Sonny Rollins along with numerous session dates for a variety of notable modern jazz artists. However, with only a handful of solo outings to his credit, the pianist steps out in prominent fashion with his latest release, 17 (Seventeen).
Soskin garners enlivening assistance from trumpeter, Tim Hagans and saxophonist Billy Drewes for this set consisting of buoyantly executed medium tempo swing vamps and tuneful choruses, abetted by the pianist's intricate maneuvers and lyrically charged solos. With "Elysian Fields, Soskin renders flailing arpeggios in conjunction with harmonically based block chords and stinging rhythmic accompaniment, as the potent horn section rides the wave via yearning lines and dynamic interplay. "Cliffhanger is all about punchy horn charts atop the soloists' complex unison runs and majestically pronounced themes. Here, Hagans' executes blazing 16th notes, followed by Drewes' beefy tenor work, as the band pulls out the stops, along with drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Jay Anderson's bustling, yet altogether crisply rendered pulse. Other highlights include: A heated spin on Bud Powell's classic, "Un Poco Loco and Soskin's "Lefty , which is a piece overflowing with climactic overtures, extended soloing and cleverly articulated frameworks. Thus, Soskin's latest effort is a stunning success! Vigorously recommended.
All About Jazz

1. 17 
2. Elysian Fields 
3. Time Remembered 
4. Pals 
5. Manfredo's Fest 
6. Cliffhanger 
7. Poco Loco, Un 
8. Lefty

Mark Soskin: piano: 
Tim Hagans: Trumpet & Flugelhorn 
Billy Drewes: Ten & Sop Sax 
Jay Anderson: Bass 
Matt Wilson: Drums 
Daniel Sadownick: Percu & Cong
Released on June 5th, 2001 - Record Label: TCB Music

17 (Seventeen)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Woody Shaw: Woody III ( Wounded Bird Remaster - 1979, 2011)

This superb LP has only been thus far reissued on CD as part of a Mosaic limited-edition three-CD box set, not counting "Escape Velocity" (a leftover track from Woody Shaw's previous live set Stepping Stones), which has yet to appear on CD. On the first half of the program ("Woody I," "Woody II," and "Woody III"), Shaw, one of the finest trumpeters of the '70s and '80s, heads a 12-piece group featuring such sidemen as tenor saxophonist Carter Jefferson, trombonists Steve Turre and Curtis Fuller, altoist James Spaulding, and pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs. The flip side of the LP has a pair of other Shaw originals ("To Kill a Brick" and "Organ Grinder") plus bassist Clint Houston's "Escape Velocity." For the latter performances, Shaw (who doubles on flügelhorn and cornet for the date) is showcased with groups ranging from a quartet to a sextet. He is in peak form throughout, and the strong compositions (along with some adventurous solos) make this one of Woody Shaw's most essential recordings. 

CD Universe


1. Woody I: On The New Ark 
2. Woody II: Other Paths 

3. Woody III: New Offerings 
4. To Kill A Brick 
5. Organ Grinder 
6. Escape Velocity 

Woody Shaw - Cor, Flgn, 
Charles Sullivan - Trp
Curtis Fuller - Trmb, 
Steve Turre - Trmb
Carter Jefferson - ts, 
Rene McLean - Alto & Sop Sax,  Flute 
James Spaulding - Alto Sax, flute
George Cables & Onaje Allan Gumbs - Piano
Clint Houston, Buster Williams - Bass
Victor Lewis - Drums
Nobu Urushiyama - Perc, 
Azzedin Weston - Cga, Perc
Recorded in 1978 & released in 2011 - Label: Wounded Bird

Woody III        Password:  mikkisays.net

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Eddie Henderson: So What (2003 - Sony)

Despite its title, this Miles Davis tribute's focus is not on the classic unit that recorded the track after which the album is named, but on the style and music of the trumpeter's great ‘60s quintet with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Eddie Henderson's mellifluous sound, meticulous choice of notes and atmospheric use of space clearly place him at the apex of the Miles continuum, and his working quartet with pianist Dave Kikoski and bassist Ed Howard (veterans of Roy Haynes' band) and alternating drummers Billy Hart and Victor Lewis (two players who have thoroughly assimilated Williams' liberated approach to "timekeeping"), augmented by former Davis sideman Bob Berg (in one of his last recordings), do more than justice to this music associated with the late great trumpeter.
The program of nine tunes includes Miles' two most famous compositions (the title track and "All Blues"); two by Shorter ("Prince of Darkness" and "Footprints"), two by Monk ("Round Midnight" and "Well You Needn't"); and three standards: two ballads Davis frequently performed ("Someday My Prince Will Come" and "Old Folks") and the ever-swinging "On Green Dolphin Street." Henderson, a fearless improviser whose sound can be either ethereal and enigmatic or exuberant and extroverted, dominates the proceedings without overshadowing the other members of the quintet’s considerable contributions.
Like Miles, he gives his sidemen plenty of space to express themselves and all rise to the occasion, particularly Kikoski, whose affection for Hancock and his predecessors Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly is dazzlingly displayed in one original improvisation after another. Berg's dark brooding tenor, heard on several tracks, impressively exhibits what Davis heard in him for many years. The unit reproduces the sound of the ‘60s quintet, but asserts each member's own personality while recreating the original compositions, with varying degrees of faithfulness, in their own image – thereby clearly demonstrating the difference between imitation and inspiration.
All About Jazz

1. Prince of Darkness
2. On Green Dolphin Street
3. Footprints
4. Well, You Needn't
5. So What
6. Old Folks
7. Someday My Prince Will Come
8. All Blues
9. 'Round Midnight

Eddie Henderson: trumpet & flugelhorn
Bob Berg: tenor sax 
Billy Hart: drums 
Dave Kikoski: piano
Victor Lewis: drums 
Ed Howard: bass

Released on April 15, 2003 - Label: Sony

So What

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sean Jones: No Need for Words (Mack Avenue - 2011)

Trumpeter Sean Jones has something to say and he says it in his inimitably bright, clear and soaring voice. This is clearly why he is fast becoming associated with the renaissance of the instrument that was brought about by an early mentor, Wynton Marsalis. Jones is a deeply spiritual player. His impulse to adorn notes with joyous phrases and lines comes from gospel roots. He preaches as he lets his trumpet sing and he urges his ensemble of players the laity, so to speak, to respond to the lofty, majestic homilies that seem to be sparked by mighty psalms, couched in simple songs that roar with righteousness. Or they may be melodies that burn with zeal for greater glory, levitating with burnished splendor as they emerge, set free from the gleaming bell of his trumpet, sounding as if from a flaming pulpit. No matter where Jones positions himself, he is always poised to soar into the stratosphere, only to swoop down as if from a silver cloud to gather his congregation and whip up a frenzied fervor among all who would hear him and his ensemble. At other times his music is like a tender caress, stroked out of his benign horn.
No Need for Words is a tantalizing paradigm. This very vocal music obviates the need for verbiage that would otherwise describe the experience contained in the songs, no matter the urge for lyrical narratives and lofty sermons. No matter that conventional wisdom might suggest some poetry—even in the vocabularies of music—may be necessary to enable melodies to rise above the prosaic. For instance, a title like "Look and See" might seem to be a call to follow a pointed finger, but not in Jones' book. Here is actually a call to share in a visionary perception that pierces the disappearing horizon as Jones and alto saxophonist Brian Hogans, together with pianist Orrin Evans, ruffle the melodic and harmonic road that leads to a wholly new set of vistas where drummer Obed Calvaire redraws the vanishing points of the song with pomp and circumstance. The emotional windup of the album is reached in the taut tessellations of "Obsession (Cloud Nine)."
Along the way, there is plenty of emotion of another kind: the gorgeous, elegiac beauty in the diaphanous beauty of "Momma," especially in the wailing high note that Jones repeats as if to emphasize the depth of his love; and in the edginess and elasticity of "Touch and Go," which stutters and swings around the rattle and swishing of Calvaire's skins and shimmering cymbals before settling down into a tantalizing walking and skipping pace. The gleaming, bronzed beauty of the almost statuesque grace of "No Need for Words" seems almost too much to bear for the trumpeter, as the music is squeezed out of embouchure and bell. The music here seems virtually static at first, only to spin gently around bass and drums. At times breathtaking, No Need for Words is an album of exceeding beauty.

1. Look and See
2. Olive Juice
3. Momma
4. Touch and Go
5. No Need for Words
6. Obsession (Cloud Nine)
7. Love's Fury
8. Forgiveness (Release)

Sean Jones: trumpet; 
Brian Hogans: alto saxophone, strings (7); 
Orrin Evans: piano, keyboards (7); 
Obed Calvaire: drums; 
Luques Curtis: bass; 
Khalil Kwame Bell: percussion (2, 7, 8); 
Corey Henry: organ (8); 
Matt Stevens: guitar (7).
Released on May 23rd, 2011 - Record Label: Mack Avenue Records

No Need for Words

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Woody Shaw With Tone Jansa Quartet

Sean Jones: Eternal Journey

Bobby Selvaggio: Modern Times

Woody Shaw: Night Music

Russell Gun: Young Gun