Saturday, February 21, 2009

Arthur Blythe · Retroflection · Live at the Village Vanguard (1993)

Superb set from altoist Arthur Blythe recorded live at New York's famed Village Vanguard for the German Enja label considered by many to be his finest recording. Blythe, with his trademark wailing tone, is superbly accompanied by the great late John Hicks on piano, Cecil McBee on bass and Bobby Battle on drums. This is contemporary jazz of the highest order.


Arthur Blythe - as
John Hicks - p
Cecil McBee - b
Bobby Battle - dr

track list:

1. Jana's Delight [9:17]
2. JB Blues [9:31]
3. Peacemaker [5:55]
4. Light Blue [11:51]
5. Lenox Avenue Breakdown [11:12]
6. Faceless Woman [11:33]
7. Break Tune [9:21]

rec. June 26, 1993 at the Vanguard
enja 8046 2

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jeff Palmer · John Abercrombie · Arthur Blythe · Victor Lewis - Ease On (1993)

Another great Abercrombie offering from 1993 for the Audioquest label in the company of Jeff Palmer, another great innovator, on Hammond B-3 organ, the great Arthur Blythe on alto sax and victor Lewis on drums, this time under the Palmer's name as all tunes but one were penned by him. But, as we all know these dates have no 'leader' per se, the music is democratic and free-flowing, all in all a great and very modern sounding contemporary jazz set pushing the jazz organ combo genre beyond the Jimmy Smith realm.


Jeff Palmer - organ
John Abercrombie - g
Arthur Blythe - alto sax
Vixtor Lewis - d

track listing:

1. Good News
2. Ease On
3. Side View
4. Blues on the Corner (McCoy Tyner)
5. Modal Scallopini
6. Mid Move
7. Gas Mask

John Abercrombie · Dan Wall · Adam Nussbaum - Tactics (1996)

John Abercrombie (b. 1944) has been an uncompromising jazz guitar innovator since day one. A restless worker who shuns stereotypes, he has helped push the envelope on modern guitar playing in his own, discreet way. Here's a live trio recording from New York's Visiones club in July 1996 in the company of Dan Wall on Hammond B-3 organ and Adam Nussbaum on drums for the German ECM label, and this is what Down Beat had to say:

"Each new album from Abercrombie provides reason to celebrate....All the songs on the album seem to have a certain coherence and connectedness. The music flows wonderfully - 4.5 Stars (out of 5) Down Beat (4/97, pp.54-55)"


John Abercrombie - g
Dan Wall - org
Adam Nussbaum - d


1. Sweet Sixteen
2. Last Waltz
3. Bo Diddy
4. You and the Night and the Music
5. Chumbida
6. Dear Rain
7. Mr. Magoo
8. Long Ago (And Far Away)

rec. live at Visiones, NYC, Jyly 13-15 1996

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lester Young - Teddy Wilson : Pres and Teddy 1956

Any tribute to Teddy Wilson without citation of this recording would be remiss. The 'Pres' Lester Young on tenor sax in the company of Messrs. Teddy Wilson on piano, Gene Ramey on bass and 'Papa' Jo Jones on drums give us some of the finest jazz ever put on record on this 1956 historic date, one of those rare, magical moments where everything falls into place magnificently, enjoy.

Lester Young ts
Teddy Wilson p
Gene Ramey b
Jo Jones d


1. All of Me
2. Prisoner of Love
3. Louise
4. Love Me or Leave Me
5. Taking a Chance on Love
6. Love Is Here to Stay
7. Pres Returns

rec. Jan. 13, 1956

Monday, February 16, 2009

Teddy Wilson - Gentleman of Keyboard

Gentleman of Keyboard, a Giants of Jazz compilation released in 1990, is a jumbled assemblage of great jazz recordings made between May 1934 and July 1957 by pianist and bandleader Teddy Wilson (1912-1986). The list of collective personnel on this one disc is staggering, as Wilson consistently worked with innovators and individualists who decisively shaped the evolution of jazz over the years. Among literally dozens of noteworthy participants are vocalists Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald as well as tenor saxophonists Ben Webster and Lester Young. Wilson is also heard in his famous role as a member of the Benny Goodman Quartet and Sextet [these performances alone warrant the admission fee - d3lta]. Though it would take quite a number of Wilson collections to accurately demonstrate the magnitude of his contribution to the history of jazz, Gentleman of Keyboard is as good a place to begin as any. ~ arwulf arwulf, All Music Guide

track listing:

1. Somebody Loves Me
2. I'm Painting the Town Red
3. All My Life
4. Why Do I Lie to Myself About You?
5. Way You Look Tonight
6. Sailin'
7. I've Found a New Baby
8. Just a Mood
9. If Dreams Come True
10. I Got Rhythm
11. Jumpin' for Joy
12. Wham (Re Bop Boom Bam)
13. Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)
14. 71
15. China Boy
16. (Back Home Again In) Indiana
17. I Want to Be Happy - Edmond Hall, Teddy Wilson
18. Rose Room
19. Just Like a Butterfly (That's Caught in the Rain)
20. Fine and Dandy
21. Under a Blanket of Blue
22. Sweet Lorraine
23. Air Mail Special

running time: 72:37

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Teddy Wilson - Three Little Words (1976)

This post focuses on jazz piano giant Teddy Wilson (1912-86) whose sophisticated and elegant style graced many a record of jazz's biggest names including Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Noted jazz musicologist Gunter Schuller argues in his authoritative History of Jazz - The Swing Era that Wilson's approach to the jazz piano was the predecessor of the Red Garland - Wynton Kelly school of jazz piano; he is right.

This late Wilson offering from 1976 was recorded at an unusual setting: an open-air studio in Nice, France. As a result, the ambience is a bit different outdoors, while birds can be heard occasionally in the background. This is hardly a distraction for seasoned veterans of the stature of Wilson and his cohorts Milt Hinton on bass and Oliver Jackson on drums who navigate through 14 standards that they had likely played hundreds of times during their long careers with great aplomb and finesse. Highlights include a lush treatment of "You Go to My Head," a cheerful midtempo romp through "Flying Home" (with a superb solo by Hinton), and a blistering take of "Undecided." While Teddy Wilson didn't modify his style much during his career, this outdoor recording is one of his most interesting studio efforts.


Teddy Wilson: piano
Milt Hinton: bass
Oliver Jackson: drums

track listing:

I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (3:33)
Flying Home (3:47)
I Didn't Know What Time It Was (4:17)
Sweet Lorraine (3:41)
Sugar (3:25)
Undecided (3:55)
St. Louis Blues (4:13)
Three Little Words (2:39)
I've Got the World on a String (4:07)
Don't Be That Way (3:05)
You Go to My Head (4:24)
My Heart Stood Still (2:38)
Where or When (4:32)
Basin Street Blues (3:50)

rec. July 14, 1976 in Nice, southern France