|Ray Draper Quintet Featuring John
What makes this fairly typical bop outing unique is the leader plays tuba. Ray Draper (1940-82) was only 17 when he recorded this quintet date in 1957, his third of three Prestige dates, and, as much as possible, he makes the clunky instrument swing. As Ira Gitlers interesting notes point out, the tuba was a pretty common rhythm instrument in the early days of jazz. Then the string bass came along and took its place. Draper, who was featured with Jackie McLean, Max Roach and later, Jack McDuff and Archie Shepp, was determined to see the tuba become a featured jazz instrument. Somewhat predictably, it never happened.
Even though Drapers career fizzled after only a few more records, this one is probably the best thing he did on his own. Hes aided in no small measure by John Coltrane, whose keen, sensitive partnership on five of these six tunes make for worthwhile, perhaps essential, listening. Coltrane is simply magnificent -- in a much more restrained role here than in his explorations elsewhere at this time.
Unfortunately, the two soloists are considerably hindered by what has to be the most unswinging jazz trio ever assembled. Pianist Gil Coggins, bassist Spanky De Brest and drummer Larry Ritchie are in lounge gig mode, seemingly unaware of the fireworks the two horn players are capable of. Its a shame. Drapers originals and cover choices are interesting, and Coltrane is certainly worth hearing even here.
Tracks: Cliffords Kappa; Filidia; Two Sons; Pauls Pal; Under Paris Skies; I Hadnt Anyone Till You.
Players: Ray Draper: tuba; John Coltrane: tenor sax; Gil Coggins: piano; Spanky De Brest: bass; Larry Ritchie: drums.
This is the second of mysterious keyboardist John Cabildos discs the Italian label Schema has released in the last year. The first, Yuxtapocision, under the nom de disc of Cabildos Three, was a gem of light, tight, funky grooves. This one also recorded in Miami sometime, presumably, in the mid 70s is less interesting and a bit more erratic. But it ups the jazz-funk a bit and, rather less successfully, dips a bit too much into the Latin well ("African Jewel," "The Smallest Share," "Habana Keynote"). Fans of the earlier record will recognize the Cabildo touch on the discs better tracks, "Barrio Bueno," "Borderland," "Kigis Konar Story" and "Softly Sonora." Cabildo, whos something of an edgier, less schooled Bob James, often alternates between piano, Rhodes, synth, clavinet and organ to keep the program varied and interesting and the percussionist (again, Max Ronnie) works overtime or overdubbed -- to keep the panorama snappy. Youd swear a fuzz guitarist was added here and there ("Cross Fire" and "Devilry Time"). But its probably just Cabildo using some sort of fuzz pedal on his electric piano. Its an appropriately mysterious effect. Some of these tracks, "Slide Dance" especially, suggest a funky mid 70s movie score; recalling, for this listener, the jazz imbued scores of Roy Budd. But thats what makes the not entirely successful Cross Fire as appealing as it is.
Tracks: Cross Fire; Barrio Bueno; African Jewel; Borderland; The Smallest Share; Maxs Movida; Devilry Time; Habana Keynote; Softly Sonora; Kigis Konar Story; Where Is The Cat? Slide Dance.
Players: Johnny Cabildo: keyboards; Max Ronnie: drums, congas, timbales; kabasa, tambourine; Jo Gain: electric bass.
Tjader-ized: A Tribute
To Cal Tjader
Following Poncho Sanchezs 1995 tribute, Soul Sauce (Concord Picante), this is the second Latin jazz tribute to the undersung vibist Cal Tjader (1925-82). Tjader began playing drums for George Shearing in the 40s then later for Dave Brubeck. He switched to vibes and began exploring his love of Latin music on a series of successful records for Fantasy. In the early 60s, Verve recorded him with orchestras in rather unusual contexts (bossa nova, eastern jazz and finally pop rock). He recorded pop jazz for his own record company and, by the mid 70s, returned to the Latin jazz he loved so much. His popularity, of course, brought critical disdain and neglect. But Tjaders substantial influence remains alive in recordings like this. Its no wonder Dave Samuels -- currently of the Caribbean Jazz Project and formerly of hitmakers Spyro Gyra and the little known Double Image would cast himself in a Tjader tribute. Like Tjader, Samuels is an imaginative soloist with a distinctive, appealing sound. He is a restrained player who never rushes a good idea and never loses his listener in a flurry of wasted notes.
Samuels has invited some notable heavies to participate in Tjader-ized too: young lion David Sanchez, flautist Dave Valentine, pianists Eddie Palmieri (a former Tjader partner) and Michael Wolf and guitarist Steve Kahn. The menu includes a few obvious choices ("Soul Sauce," "Triste), some nice surprises ("Tres Palabras" and Clare Fischers "Bachi," both originally from Tjaders 1978 disc Huracan and Eddie Palmieris excellent "Resemblance") and several new pieces, including former Tjader pianist Chick Coreas "Hand Me Down."
But perhaps due to its exclusive reliance on Latin or Latin-ized themes, Tjader-ized is rather uneventful too. Something nags at this listener that a Tjader tribute on Verve should reflect more of the musical diversity Tjader exhibited during his seven years at the label. Latin themes were actually a small part of the work he crafted at Verve between 1961 and 1968. Seems Samuels, who is interesting and worthwhile throughout these near-dozen tunes, would be the ideal artist to provide such diversity. Knowing nothing about the politics or business that went into staging this tribute, its also surprising that a Tjader tribute on Verve does not include the participation of keyboardist Johnny Rae and, especially, Armando Perazza. That is not to say what remains isnt solid contemporary Latin jazz of the first order. It is. And if Tjader-ized inspires others to explore Cal Tjaders music, then it is a success.
Tracks: Tjader-ized; Bachi; Soul Sauce; Delta Sierra; Viva Cepeda; Triste; Tres Palabras; Resmblance; Yeah; Hand Me Down; Duo Plus Four.
Collective Personnel: David Sanchez: tenor sax, soprano sax; Dave Valentin, Bob Franceschini: flute; Barry Donelian: flugelhorn; Ozzie Melendez: trmbone; Dave Samuels: vibes, marimba; Eddie Palmieri, Alain Mallet, Michael Wolff: piano; Alain Mallet: Wurlitzer piano, accordian; Joe Santiago, John Benitez: bass; Steve Kahn: electric and acoustic guitar; Bobbie Allende, Marc Quinones, Karl Perazzo: percussion; Ray Baretto: congas; Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez: drums.
Soul To Jazz II
Once youre a legend, it must be a legendary drag living up to your own reputation. After years of setting distinctive beats for King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, scores of Atlantic sessions and almost every acid-jazzer, drummer Bernard Purdie has a legendary reputation as the funk drummer. Trouble is the man earned his rep while he was young. Now, no matter how good his grooves get, they all have to measure up to his funky past.
Soul To Jazz II isnt much of a funk disc. But its a successful soul-jazz exploration -- which is exactly what it sets out to be -- and something of an improvement over last years Soul To Jazz II.
The guests make Soul To Jazz II what it is. Check it out: Stanley Turrentine ("Motherless Child," "La Place Street"), Hank Crawford ("La Place Street," "Nobody Knows," "Joshua," "Mr. Magic" and "Amen") and Vincent Herring ("New Orleans Strut," "Jubilation" and "Shaft"). Plus, soul stalwart Junior Mance trades places with Benny Green in the piano chair, another Atlantic sessioneer, Cornell Dupree, is on guitar and former David Murray funk partner, Stanley Banks, is on electric bass.
Themes favor spirituals, from such traditionals as "Motherless Child," "Nobody Knows," "Amen" and "Joshua" to Mances more contemporary "Jubilation." The soul tunes (Turrentines "La Place Street," "Mr. Magic" and "Shaft") celebrate the powerhouse soul the sax leads generate.
The best bits are, of course, funky: Jack DeJohnettes "New Orleans Strut" and "Joshua" (which starts just like Grant Greens 1962 version and even has Crawford starting his solo the same way the guitarist did). But, annoyingly, there are times when the groove seems to drag so deliberately ("Mr. Magic," "Shaft"), you just want to kick these guys into gear somehow.
Reminiscent of the Bob Porter Milestone productions of the last ten years, Soul To Jazz II isnt as earth-shattering or hip shaking as the premise promises. But the ultimate joy is hearing three soul sax giants (Hank Crawford especially) waxing eloquently in their own mighty soulful way.
Tracks: Motherless Child; New Orleans Strut; La Place Street; Nobody Knows; Jubilation; Joshua; Mr. Magic; Theme From "Shaft"; Amen.
Collective Personnel: Stanley Turrentine: tenor sax; Hank Crawford, Vincent Herring: alto sax; Howard Johnson: baritone sax; Jack Waltrath: trumpet; Junior Mance, Benny Green: piano; Cornell Dupree: guitar; George Naha: rhythm guitar; Stanley Banks: electric bass; Bernard Purdie, Jack DeJohnette: drums; Pancho Morales: congas; Benny Diggs Singers: vocals.
This 1966 session lives up to its title, offering the strong, comfortable appeal of a solid Lee Morgan record. Soul Outing was Fosters second Prestige record after concluding an 11-year stint in the Count Basie band in 1964 (the first, Fearless, was also recently issued on CD). Although hed developed a reputation as an ace arranger, Foster spotlights his own warm, muscular tenor soulfulness here. Hes in a compatible quintet performing three originals and two numbers from the Broadway play Golden Boy. Fosters "Show the Good Side" has the gospel soul of a Bobby Timmons number. And the Lee Morgan stamp is all over the Sidewinder-swing of Fosters "Skankaroony" and the Latin lilt of "Night Song." The two covers get muscular samba readings and trumpeter Virgil Jones makes a good foil as Lee Morgan to Fosters Hank Mobley. Guitarist Billy Butler is also featured in a small rhythm role on "Show The Good Side" and "Night Song." Foster went on to form his own jazz orchestra, the Loud Minority, and a stint with Elvin Jones before returning as director of the Basie orchestra. Today hes back to making strong, terrific music like this strong, timeless jazz classic. Recommended.
Tracks: Show The Good Side; While The City Sleeps; Skankaroony; Chiquito Loco; Night Song.
Players: Frank Foster: tenor sax; Virgil Jones: trumpet; Pat Rebillot: piano; Billy Butler: guitar; Bob Cunningham: bass; Richard Davis: bass; Alan Dawson: drums, congas.
Satchmo of the Ghetto
Its a bold move aligning yourself with the great Louis Armstrong. But it seems if anyone could pull it off its 28-year old trumpeter James Andrews. The New Orleans native actually earned the Satchmo of the Ghetto moniker back in his Treme neighborhood. Hes come up through a variety of brass bands and has played with Michelle Shocked, Quincy Jones and Dizzy Gillespie. Now a protégé of soul man Allen Toussaint (and star of Toussaints new NYNO label), Andrews is taking his place along side of contemporaries Nicholas Payton, Kermit Ruffins and Derrick Shezbie swinging the New Orleans tradition in contemporary ways. But theres nothing phony about Satchmo of the Ghetto. Andrews is the real thing and theres no novelty in his chops, or the way he performs his heart out on this fun, swinging collection of New Orleans style party music.
Andrews sings and swings in the funky French quarter shuffle of "Poop Aint Gotta Scuffle No More" and does the "St. Louis Blues" style Delta stomp for "Last Night on the Back Porch" and the traditional "Old Rugged Cross." The instrumentals are the discs best moments, though. "Latin Cats," "Going For The Money" and Andrews own "Banana Boogie" (the discs high point), even recall Hugh Masekela and his all-too-brief strolls through the bayou. Andrews injects and projects total joy throughout, especially in his swamp-reggae take on the lively "Its Only A Paper Moon" and the drunk-on-life French Quarter makeover of Loggins & Messinas "Your Mama Dont Dance." Allen Toussaint and Dr. John trade seats on piano and organ and keep things dancing throughout.
Andrews certainly has plenty to say (though I wish hed sing less and play more). Witness the even better New Birth Brass Band disc, D-Boy (NYNO--1997): Andrews takes the brass band thing to the mean streets of hip hop and keeps it all credible in a way that Louis Armstrong would sure be proud. Andrews could make a sterling straight jazz record if he wanted to too. He probably will. Hes got the imagination and flair to make it work. Watch out for James Andrews.
Tracks: Poop Aint Gotta Scuffle No More; Last Night On The Back Porch; Latin Cats; Sweet Emma; Going For the Money; Got Me A New Love Thing; Banana Boogie; Catch The Willie; Its Only A Paper Moon; Your Mama Dont Dance; The Old Rugged Cross.
Personnel: James Andrews: trumpet, vocals; Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack: piano, organ, backing vocals; Allen Toussaint: piano, synthesizer, backing vocals, percussion; Scott Goudeau: guitar; Charles Moore: bass; Bernard "Bunchy" Johnson: drums, backing vocals; Henry Love Vaughn: congas; Austin Davis, Flynn Forte, Kwame Johnson, Rodrick Price: backing vocals.
Piero Umiliani scored over 60 films in his native Italy between 1958 and 1981. And its no secret that Italian films, even as derivative and as unfamiliar as they are to most Americans, are a treasure trove of excellent artistry. The recent now-sound craze is finally affording Italian film composers like Umiliani their due. This 1971 double-album-on-one-CD is a prize. Its an instrumental program, similar to the kind Henry Mancini used to release between films. But this one is tougher, filled with clever electric themes, gritty car-chase funk and superb playing by many of Italys best jazz artists (including the vastly under-appreciated pianist Franco DAndrea). American cop shows like "Streets of San Francisco" and "Starsky and Hutch" werent even playing this kind of music until the mid 70s. But here Umiliani, who has clearly studied his Mancini and Lalo Schifrin, stakes his claim. Highlights are so plentiful over these 76 minutes, it would be easier to list the duds. But even then, its worth tuning in for creative jazz explorations and other wild surprises. The entrancing, moody funks of "Lady Magnolia," "Music on the Road" and "Tropical River" are this listeners favorites, though. Umiliani composed all 21 tracks and is heard on moog, Fender Rhodes and marimba. Sometimes hes out front, but other electric keyboards, guitars and a bevy of percussion keep the groove percolating. Easy Tempo (Right Tempo), the Italian company thats at the forefront of making so much of this great 70s now-sound music available on CD, also features Umilianis best moments on their five excellent, highly-recommended Easy Tempo collections. True believers, however, can proceed right to Umilianis recently issued soundtracks, also on Easy Tempo: Angeli Bianchi...Angeli Neri and Sweden -- Heaven & Hell. To-Days Sound is a winner.
Tracks: Open Space; Green Valley; Caretera Panamericana; Goodmorning Sun; To-Days Sound; Free Dimension; Truck Driver; Blue Lagoon; Wanderer; Lady Magnolia; Pretty; Railroad; Country Town; Bus Stop; Cotton Road; Nocturne; Exploration; Tropical River; Coast to Coast; Safari Club; Music On The Road.
Players: Piero Umiliani: moog, Fender Rhodes, mexican marimba; Marcello Boschi: flute; Mario Midana, Dino Piana, Biagio Marullo: trombone; Oscar Valdambrini, Al Corvin, Marino Di Fulvio: trumpet; Antonello Vannucchi: Hammond organ; Franco DAndrea: piano, clavichord; Carlo Zoffoli: marimba, vibraphone; Sergio Carnini: Lowery organ; Silvano Carnini, Sergio Coppotelli: guitar; Maurizio Majorana: bass; Giovanni Tommaso: doulbe bass; Enzo Restuccia, Gege Munari: drums, percussion; Cico Ciro: percussion.