|Nite Life Boogie
Egidio "Juke" Ingala
(Popolo del Blues)
Whodve believed that Europe was home to some of todays grittiest, greasiest, most authentic blues? Folks like Italian harmonicat and vocalist Egidio "Juke" Ingala are out to open your mind to the new blues. Fresh from Italys popular Dirty Hands band, Juke makes his solo debut on Italys new Popolo del Blues label with Nite Life Boogie, a rocking set of juke-joint, bar-brawlin dance classics. Juke is a helluva harpster and his grooves swing like mad: in step with the raging swing thing and, oddly enough, right in line with the best of the baddest Chicago bar-band blues. Juke shines in solos, jazzy pianist Alberto Marsico (a real treat here) offers plenty of sass and moxy to hold it all together while two of the three instrumentals ("Strollin With Shirley," "Schultzville, USA") provide mouth-watering spots for guitarist Alex Schultz. Nite Life Boogie offers a tasty treat of the new Italian blues: a great party record that swings like the real thing!
Songs: Nite Life boogie; Let Me Back; How Could I Love You; If You Love Me, Baby; I Knew; Strollin With Shirley; I Had My Fun; Baby, You Dont Know; How Fine Can You Be; Let Me Say; Schultzzville, USA; You Dont Even Know; Blowin Reds Top
Players: Egidio Juke Ingala: harmonica, vocals; Alex Schultz: guitar; Alberto Marsico: piano; "Big S" Walter Tosin: bass; Gio Rossi: drums.
Algerian pianist Franck Amsallen (b. 1961) is an accomplished, exceedingly thoughtful player who studied at the Conservatory in Nice, Berklee College in Boston and received a Masters Degree in Composition from the Manhattan School of Music. Now a resident New Yorker, his curriculum vita boasts on-the-job training in the bands of Gerry Mulligan, Dave Liebman and Bob Brookmeyer. On record, hes probably most familiar to listeners from such recent Blue Note compilations as New York Stories, Yule Be Boppin and Bob Beldens Shade of Blue.
Another Time is a reissue of Amsallens 1990 debut, Out A Day and, thanks to a new label and worldwide distribution, this impressive outing is getting attention at the same time as his more recent and also well-distributed quartet recording, Years Gone By.
As the titles suggest, Amsallen is clearly interested in things temporal. It greatly benefits his angular, yet exceedingly attractive compositions too. Like Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley and, to a lesser degree, Bill Evans, Amsallen is something of an intellectual player: leaning often toward classical rather than jazz influences (Chopin and Debussey to these ears) and clearly well educated hands are finessing such engaging changes. Hes the kind of player that could easily entertain a hotel lobby crowd and still have hand fulls of unique commentary for those paying attention too. Pleasingly, his compositions dont proceed through predictable changes either; so they benefit repeated listening and reward upon casual or concentrated hearings.
On these tracks, eight Amsallen originals and Irving Berlins "How Deep Is the Ocean", the pianist is accompanied by then-newcomer drummer Bill Stewart (best known now as part of the John Scofield group) and legendary bassist Gary Peacock (whose equally intellectual bass has buoyed memorable work from Bill Evans, Paul Bley, Michel Petrucianni, Don Pullen and, most notably, Keith Jarretts celebrated Standards trio). Peacock is afforded a great deal of the spotlight here, and makes the most of his celebrity role. Stewart is very subtle and gives the other two plenty of creative room to share their often-interesting ideas.
Highlights include the exotic, nearly classical (and surprisingly catchy) "For The Record," the oddly-titled "And Keep This Place In Mind " (suggesting a tribute of sorts to Jarrett by miraculously fusing his gospel and classical flourishes into one neat package), the Evanescent "Running After Eternity," and the standard-worthy "Affreusement Votre (Horribly Yours)" (another interesting title).
If Another Time is any indication, Amsallem could prove to be an important voice in jazz. Theres enough variety, complexity and uniqueness here to suggest that Amsallem could be quite the innovator. Hes a clear-headed composer who creates with an ear toward invention and a pianist who can capture an idea in an easily appreciated manner. Thats quite a feat. Another Time is such a disc.
Songs: Out A Day; For The Record; How Deep Is The Ocean; And Keep This Place In Mind For A Better One Is Heart To Find; Running After Eternity; Dee; On Your Own; Affreusement Votre (Horribly Yours); A Time For Love.
Players: Franck Amsallem: piano; Gary Peacock: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.
Trumpeter Woody Shaw (1944-89) was 26 in 1970 when he recorded this, his official solo debut, for Contemporary Records. Originally a double LP, the six longish originals (four by Shaw and the discs two best by the keyboardist on the date, George Cables) make it on to one CD due to some imperceptible editing on two tracks. An earlier Shaw solo recording eventually surfaced: a 1965 session featured on 32 Jazzs Last of The Line. But Shaw officially got his start here.
Despite the cross-breeding of bop structures, Bitches Brew-inspired eclecticism (due mostly to Cables electric piano and the presence of Bennie Maupin and Lenny White), Afro-centric titles and nearly free-form soloing on display here, Shaw never really veered much from his quite identifiable sound. Here, the trumpeter fits himself into a rather unusual, but entirely complimentary septet featuring two reedmen (Gary Bartz, Bennie Maupin), two bassists (Ron Carter, Clint Houston), the wondrous Cables on acoustic and electric piano and White on drums.
Shaws "A Deed For Dolphy" is first explored here, to particular advantage and Cabless Shaw-like "Think on Me and "New World" make the proceedings especially worthwhile. The remaining tunes offer plenty of interesting exploratory comment from all, making Blackstone Legacy a strong, if only slightly atypical addition to the Woody Shaw legacy.
Songs: Blackstone Legacy; Think On Me; Lost And Found; New World; Boo-Anns Grand; A Deed For Dolphy.
Players: Woody Shaw: trumpet; Gary Bartz: alto sax, soprano sax; Bennie Maupin: tenor sax, bass clarinet, flute; George Cables: piano, electric piano; Ron Carter, Clint Houston: bass; Lenny White: drums.
It seems virtually every one of piano great Bill Evanss (1929-80) performances were recorded during the last two years of his life, when he had his last and arguably superior trio with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera. As more recordings continue to surface, it is evident that this was a most commanding unit.
What makes this November 1979 recording, issued here for the time, so special is that the Evans trio was captured upon the pianists return to his alma mater, Southern Lousiana University. In a six-minute interview featured at the end of the disc, Evans bashfully says his last two years here (he graduated, with honors, in 1950) were the happiest of his life. Surely, the photos of the young Evans on the jacket reveal an exceedingly handsome, seemingly carefree young man who, while intriguingly introspective looking, still seemed unburdened by the demons which would claim him later on.
There is a relaxation about his playing here too: none of the return of the prodigal grandstanding, but rather a warm celebration of return (exactly as the title suggests). The program is fairly typical, featuring elucidation on the usual standards ("I Loves You Porgy," "Up With The Lark," "Someday My Prince Will Come"), familiar Evans tone poems ("Laurie," "Turn Out The Stars," "Very Early" and the Orrin Keepnews anagram song) and typical late-period Evans explorations (Johnny Mandels "Song From M.A.S.H." and Paul Simons "I Do It For You"). The menu is also peppered by interesting inquiries into Joe Zawinuls "Midnight Moods" and the little-known "Minha (All Mine)" by Francis Hime. But Evans is positively breezy throughout; flawless as always, but genuinely satisfied to be stirring the warm invitational his music provides to the audience. Johnson, afforded a lions share of the solo space, is equally brisk and thoroughly melodic as he complements Evans glowing mettle.
Like last years Half Moon Bay (from 1973), Homecoming is a rich, instructive insight into the genius of this already over-recorded piano wonder -- for hardcore devotees and the mildly interested alike. It is also a tantalizing preface to Fantasys upcoming six-CD set of Evanss last known recordings from this trios August-September 1980 Keystone Korner gig. On its own, Homecoming is worth coming home to.
Songs: Re: Person I Knew; Midnight Mood; Laurie; Song From M.A.S.H. (Suicide is Painless); Turn Out The Stars; Very Early; But Beautiful; I Loves You, Porgy; Up With The Lark; Minha (All Mine); I Do It for You; Someday My Prince Will Come; Interview With Bill Evans by Rod Starns.
Players: Bill Evans: piano; Marc Johnson: bass; Joe LaBarbera: drums.
Griff 'n' Bags
Well, not quite. Chicago tenor great Johnny ("Griff") Griffin is heard on five tunes and Milt ("Bags") Jackson, whose intention was to reunite with fellow MJQ founder Kenny Clarke for a Clarke-Boland Big Band project that never materialized, is heard on five different tunes.
Despite slightly inaccurate labeling and packaging that doesnt explain itself until you open it, Griff n Bags is an excellent collection of four Francy Boland-Jimmy Woode-Kenny Clarke sessions recorded between 1967 and 1969. The 16 pieces enclosed here seem to have been recorded when all the members of the sensational, underrated C-BBB were unable to assemble in full.
The first three titles, from 1967 (Woodes "Gamal SadynEm" and "Gysons Bag" and Neal Heftis "Lonely Girl"), focus the diverse and interesting rhythmic moxy on what made the C-BBBs engine run so swiftly and smoothly the trio of Boland, Woode and Clarke. Three horns are added for sessions a year and a half later yielding three superb numbers with standouts including Bolands wondrously Latinesque "The Turks Bolero," a feature for Sahib Shihab, and the swinging "Muvaffaks Pad" spotlighting the ever-amazing Bolands piano and the graceful trumpet of Idrees Sulieman. Bagss 1969 pieces are highlighted by his own typically-soulful "Blues For K" and his vocal (no vibes) on "Im A Fool To Want You." Griffin, a charter C-BBB member, is brought forward on his 1968 pieces and swings hard and happily on five titles, and in tip-top form on the New Orleans drawl of "Foot Patting" and the Nat Adderley like "Deep Eight."
The Italian Rearward label is now releasing many of producer Gigi Campis 1960s sessions in attractive packages with boxes, booklets and typically superb notes by Mike Hennessy. These are all worthwhile, often inspired productions well worth investigating. Theyre also a testament to the beauty and enduring appeal of European stalwarts like pianist, composer and arranger Francy Boland and American expatriates Sahib Shihab, Idrees Sulieman, Benny Bailey and Johnny Griffin. Despite the slightly misleading packaging here, Griff n Bagsis also excellent and highly recommended.
Songs: Gamal SadynEm; Lonely Girl; Gysons Bag; The Turks Bolero; The Girl And The Turk; Muvaffaks Pad; Just Friends; Im A Fool To Want You; Blues For K.; Like Someone In Love; Just You, Just Me; Foot Patting; Please Send Me Someone To Love; Deep Eight; The JAMFs Are Coming; Lady Heavy Bottoms Waltz.
Players: Idrees Sulieman: trumpet; Ake Persson: trombone; Benny Bailey: trumpet, fluegelhorn; Johnny Griffin: tenor sax; Sahib Shihab: baritone sax, flute; Francy Boland: piano; Jimmy Woode Jr: bass; Kenny Clarke, Kenny Clare: drums; Milt Jackson: vibes, vocals.
Funk If I Know
If the music and the jacket photos of Funk If I Know are any indication, Michael Ray hopes to ascend to the eccentric charisma of musical showmen/shaman like George Clinton or Sun Ra. In fact, trumpeter Ray (who, in street clothes, looks a lot like Sonny Rollins) is a former member of Ras Arkestra and was once part of the Kool and the Gang horn section.
But Funk If I Know, Ray and his Cosmic Krewes second disc, offers as much schizophrenia in one set as those two masters managed throughout their whole careers. Oddly, this "jazz funk of the future" (as he calls it) seems to work out just fine. Ray dabbles quite successfully in legit 70s P-Funk ("Cosmic City" and the exceptionally danceable "Earthrite"), jazz funk (the title track), well-grooved Latinates ("Yolinda") and earth-bound renditions of Ra favorites ("Cosmos #2," "Angels and Demons at Play" and the ethereal "Dance of the Cosmos Aliens"). Hes less interesting, but no less adept at handling rap ("Worry About Dat"), Salsa ("Latin Monkey") and big band (Ras beloved "Big John Special") too.
Its harder to get a hold of Ray the player. He usually gets lost in a brass section and when he solos, its often brief, but attractive in a sort of Dizzy Gillespie style (notable on "6666," "Yolinda" and, especially, "Cosmos #2"). His arrangements -- presumably his -- are tight, though, if not always as inspired as one could hope. Special guests include Delfeayo Marsalis (trombone) and John Medeski (noodling negligibly on clavinet during "Made A Mistake") to no special advantage. This is the Crewes show. Although a full exploration of any one of Rays fascinating areas of interest seems called for, hes successful enough offering something of value to each on Funk If I Know -- and, in the bargain, something that turns out to be quite a bit of fun.
Songs: Cosmic City; Funk If I Know; Yolinda; Earthrite; Latin Moneky; Neon Cosmos; Worry About Dat; Cosmos #2; Angels and Demons At Play; Watusi; Big John Special; Made A Mistake; 6666; Dance of the Cosmos Aliens.
Players: Michael Ray: trumpet, synth, vocals; Eddie Dejean: drums, vocals; Bob Gullotti: drums; Kevin ODay: drums, vocal rap; Stacy Starkweather, Jimbo Walsh: bass; Adam Kipple: piano, synth; Joshua Q. Paxton: piano, sythn, organ; Tim Green: tenor sax; Clarence Johnson: alto sax, tenor sax; Don Glasgo: trombone; Dave Grippo: alto sax; Martin Krushe: tenor sax; Michael Skinkus: percussion, vocals; SteveFerraris: percussion; Rob Zuchowski, Ricky Castrillo: guitar. Additional musicians: Curtis Woodward, Pam Landrum, Andy Wolf, Manuel Lander: vocals; Gregory Boyd: steel pans; Janna Saslaw: flute. Special Guests: John Medeski: clavinet; Delfeayo Marsalis: trombone; Trey Anastasio: guitar.
Miles Remembered: The
Silent Way Project
Miles Remembered: The Silent Way Project was, perhaps, inevitable. Trumpeter and composer Mark Isham has always displayed a predilection toward the moody melodicism Miles Davis conveyed in his electric works. But Isham is a far more methodical, constructive player and his themes (especially evident in his jazz scores to films like Afterglow) hark to something a bit more aching and sadder than Miless portraits of anger and defiance.
Since Isham records for the same label where Miles made his boldest statements, Miles Remembered seems borne out of pure marketing maneuvers (cant you picture the brass saying, "who cares if it sells, itll get more people to buy our recent reissues of Miless electric sides"). But just the same, its a valid tribute from a worthy fan/student even though the majority of these pieces lend themselves less to inspired reconsideration than to pure Xeroxing of the originals.
Recorded at various times throughout 1996, Isham and his group featuring two Gaumont/Cosey like guitarists, a drummer and a Jaco-like bassist -- primarily stick with Miless 1969-72 material as if Miles himself had reconsidered these pieces circa 1975. Thats a world of difference when you stop to consider it. As the clunky title suggests, Isham leans heavily on Silent Way but he also includes his own very Miles-like riff, "Internet" (playing what sounds to be a more sweetly amplified trumpet than Miles would have), and the typical Isham Miles-in-the-new-age resonance of "Azael."
Isham does include some truly bold aces, though. The most notable is his reconsideration of Miless "All Blues" (1959) as if it was 1975: a daring, perfectly winning stroke. His interjections here and throughout are also Davis-influenced, but cleaner and more delicate than Miles himself would probably be capable of. And by wedding "In A Silent Way" with "Milestones," Isham suggests that Miles innovated from a lineage or a progression rather than the compartmentalized vacuum that is often suggested. Other highlights include the thumping funk of "Spanish Key," the delicate electric ballet of "Ife" and the way "Great Expectations" seems to get dragged through the groove Talking Heads concocted for "Take Me To The River."
Miles Remembered, like Henry Kaiser and Leo Smiths Yo Miles! (Shanachie), suggests there are limitations to reconsidering Miless electric sides. But whereas Kaiser and Smith (who never seemed to harbor any influence from Davis) took great pains to recreate, Isham, always the Davis devotee, works within these limitations to interesting and positive effect. Indeed, its a cinch that Miless electric fans will appreciate Miles Remembered as much as Ishams listeners will admire hearing a tribute to his greatest musical influence.
Songs: In A Silent Way/Milestones; Right Off (Theme From Jack Johnson); Internet; All Blues; Its About That Time; Azael; Spanish Key; Ife; Great Expectations; Black Satin.
Players: Mark Isham: trumpet; Peter Maunu, Steve Cardenas: guitar; Doug Lunn: bass; Michael Barsimanto: drums.