Friends Seen and Unseen (2004) by The Charlie Hunter Trio

Categories: 2004 and Music.

This band plays pretty traditional jazz for the 21st century – sure, there hints of more radical stuff, including odd syncopation and some relatively out playing by Ellis. But, for the most part, this is pretty mainstream jazz., primarily rooted in the blues. What makes it more interesting is Hunter, who is a phenomenal player who manages to play both bass and rhythm or lead at the same time (on his custom guitar). Ellis’ range of instruments also helps create a wider variety of experiences for us. So this is basically just above average mainstream jazz. It’s good, but it’s Read More

Swiss Movement (1969) by Les McCann, Eddie Harris

Categories: 1969 and Music.

The myth-making goes to hilarious extremes in the liner notes – with the writer denying the band had ever played together before this date before then detailing how they played together before the date – but that’s something that’s quite common to jazz (and to music in general) and this band still sounds fantastic for a band that hadn’t rehearsed much (and which was tackling a song they just learned that day). McCann’s band brings the soul jazz and Harris (and Bailey, to a less extent) bring the modern sensibility. This is a strong record because the marriage of two Read More

Colors of a Dream (2013) by Tom Harrell

Categories: 2013 and Music.

This is a surprisingly bold “modern jazz” recording, featuring two basses, three horns and plenty of competing influences – more progressive post bop, R&B via Hard Bop and Soul Jazz, and some other things. Though it is absolutely mainstream jazz, it has a lot going on, more than I was expecting. When I read about Harrell I was worried I was getting into something I wasn’t going to like. But I find myself pleasantly surprised. This is a unique record that manages to sound not that much like the mainstream which it is firmly part of. 7/10 Read More

Emergence (2009) by Roy Hargrove Big Band

Categories: 2009 and Music.

So Hargrove tackles big band and the results aren’t that different from early in his career, when he was way too in love with tradition. (You might say he was drowning in it.) Well here we are again: Hargrove’s big band touches on numerous previous jazz big bands. And the whole thing is really conventional. And just when you think this is how it will play out, he throws in the Latin thing. And maybe you think “Aha!” something different, only Gillespie did this stuff 60 years ago…And obviously Hargrove is no Gillespie (though he does an okay Miles impersonation). Read More

Camouflage (2004) by Acoustic Ladyland

Categories: 2004 and Music.

Coming at an artists backwards is always a big of an issue. Not only as it’s sort of unfair to the artist – we get our notions of what the artist sounds like when they are “mature” and try to apply that to their early work – but also as it’s unfair to the listener, often, because we don’t have a chance to grow with the artist, to learn from whatever journey they’re on. For example, I had no idea Acoustic Ladyland actually started out as an acoustic band performing Hendrix covers. I mean, I did know that intellectually, but Read More

The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark (1997) by Grant Green

Categories: 1997 and Music.

This compiles the first three albums Grant recorded with pianist Sonny Clark before the band was expanded to a quintet later in 1962. Interestingly, none of these albums were released until 1980 (in Japan) which, given the quality of the music, it’s really hard to understand. First we have Gooden’s Corner, recorded in late 1961, with both Nigeria and Oleo from January of 1962. (Again, all released in 1980, in Japan.) Burt the set isn’t presented quite like that, as Nigeria leads off the collection with the other two following chronologically. Nigeria is outstanding stuff, despite being full of standards, and makes Read More

Unspeakable (2004) by Bill Frisell

Categories: 2004 and Music.

I think there is a real tendency to look at a few of the moments on this disc – when Frisell really lets loose in the ways he can – and decide that this is some kind of return to form – for those people who do not enjoy his Americana obsession. My problem isn’t with his playing – though occasionally he does play it too straight – it’s more with the music surrounding his playing. I’m all for artists taking risks and this is a real curve ball given the kind of music he had mostly been making over Read More

This Meets That (2007) by John Scofield

Categories: 2007 and Music.

The title is indeed apt: this is an eclectic record, covering all sorts of styles. And that is all well and good. But it leaves me wanting something a little more. I feel like this is pretty mild-mannered – almost polite – eclecticism. Everything is tasteful and well-executed but there’s nothing here that shocks me or moves in the way that it should. I don’t feel particularly compelled to write anything about it, which is probably everything that needs to be said about how I feel about. 6/10 Read More