Posted: Saturday, 31 January 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , ,

Innovator with a complex of tradition, romanticist expressing himself in the contemporary idiom, poet of piano - this is Krzysztof Komeda, one of those musicians who have widened the essence of jazz.
He has proved that the world of emotions hitherto remaining within the scope of symphony music could manifest itself in jazz as well. He did it by introducing into it dramatic lyricism and pathos which in their ecstatic, even mystic intensity are in the late-romantic, Promethean, Skriabin-like modes of expression.
This new aesthetics in jazz required its new form. Instead of the static conventional sets of variations, preceding without direction, he has initiated a dramatic form which develops from the exposition towards culmination and final solution. This form, let us call it roughly "the bow form", has been used in two major pieces by Komeda recorded on this disc: Astigmatic and Svantetic (after Svante Forster, Swedish poet and writer, friend of the composer). The solo parts have ceased in it to be blowing choruses and have taken on instead a definite function, while the simple construction of the piece, concentration on a single idea (one movement, one theme), as well as much scope for improvisation and the psychic contact between the players contribute to the fullest realization of the composition.
The dramatic and constructional elements are not the only characteristics of Komeda's style. The particular "Slavonic" feeling of his pieces results from the fusion of all sorts of stuff: beside contemporary technique of composition (sound spots, clusters, aleatoric and poliagogic structures) there are structures getting out of fashion (modalism or the extinct harmonics of the last century) or the "fossilized", long forgotten forms of the musical prematter (as for instance the simple drum beating - the obsessive rhythm, how very fresh and revealing nowadays!, or the uncontrolled instrumental "cry").
The force that unifies these elements is the jazz rhythm and sound. It must be said, however, that the sonority and articulation have been here considerably widened.
Komeda's pieces are outlines to be performed by a group of chosen instrumentalists. No wonder that Komeda selects his partners carefully.
Among the musicians connected with him there is Rune Carlson, a distinguished Swedish percussionist, extraordinarily musical, with a rapid reflex and an unusual sensitivity to the quality of sound. Though in his style similar to Anthony Williams, in details completely different from him.
Then there is in Komeda's group Tomasz Stańko, a leading Polish trumpeter, a striking individuality. Since recently he has been playing on the flugelhorn, extracting from it a fine, voluminous sound.
As guest performers appear with Komeda: Günter Lenz, playing double-bass with the West-German Albert Mangelsdorff ensemble, a musician of rich technique and imagination; and Zbigniew Namysłowski from Warsaw, one of the leading alto axophonists of the younger generation (born in 1939), known in numerous countries in Europe and in USA.

Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969), a pianist, a musician whose career has been very rich. He has been playing as jazz musician since 1959, appearing in many European countries and having a particularly great success in Scandinavia. He has written music to over thirty films both Polish and foreign. Among others to Two Men with a Wardrobe, Mammalia, Knife in Water, Cul-de-sac, all by Roman Polański, to Innocent Sorcerers by Andrzej Wajda, Hvad Medos and Kattorna (Cats) by Henig Carlssen. Just from the latter comes the second of the pieces recorded on this disc of the four individualists appeals strongly to our imagination. And that is what they are aiming at.
:::Review by Adam Stawinski
Original liner notes from the album's back cover:::

Krzysztof Komeda – Astigmatic (1965)

1. Astigmatic 22:50
2. Kattorna 7:20
3. Svantetic 15:50

Komeda Quintet
Tomasz Stańko - trumpet
Zbigniew Namysłowski- alto sax
Krzysztof Komeda - piano
Gunter Lenz - bass
Rune Carlson - drums


Posted: Friday, 30 January 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , ,

The follow-up to the breakthrough Headhunters album was virtually as good as its wildly successful predecessor: an earthy, funky, yet often harmonically and rhythmically sophisticated tour de force. There is only one change in the Headhunters lineup — swapping drummer Harvey Mason for Mike Clark — and the switch results in grooves that are even more complex. Hancock continues to reach into the rapidly changing high-tech world for new sounds, most notably the metallic sheen of the then-new ARP string synthesizer which was already becoming a staple item on pop and jazz-rock records. Again, there are only four long tracks, three of which ("Palm Grease," "Actual Proof," "Spank-A-Lee") concentrate on the funk, with plenty of Hancock's wah-wah clavinet, synthesizer textures and effects, and electric piano ruminations that still venture beyond the outer limits of post-bop. The change-of-pace is one of Hancock's loveliest electric pieces, "Butterfly," a match for any tune he's written before or since, with shimmering synth textures and Bennie Maupin soaring on soprano (Hancock would re-record it 20 years later on Dis Is Da Drum, but this is the one to hear). This supertight jazz-funk quintet album still sounds invigorating a quarter of a century later.
:::Review by Richard S. Ginell:::

Herbie Hancock – Thrust (1974)

1. Palm Grease (10:34)
2. Actual Proof (9:41)
3. Butterfly (11:18)
4. Spank-A-Lee (7:11)

Artwork By [Cover] - Rob Springett
Bass [Electric Bass] - Paul Jackson
Drums - Mike Clark
Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Clavinet [Hohner D-6], Synthesizer [Arp Odyssey, Arp Soloist, Arp 2600, Arp String] - Herbie Hancock
Engineer [Recording Engineer] - Fred Catero
Percussion - Bill Summers
Producer - David Rubinson , Herbie Hancock
Saxophone [Soprano & Tenor Saxophone], Clarinet [Bass Clarinet], Flute [Alto Flute] - Bennie Maupin
Written By - Bennie Maupin (tracks: 3) , Herbie Hancock , Mike Clark (tracks: 4) , Paul Jackson (tracks: 4)


Posted: Thursday, 29 January 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , ,

John Zorn's absorption of klezmer motifs into avant-garde jazz is remarkable in itself, but even more extraordinary is Masada's utter command of the two genres' fiercely visceral energies. Fueled by Joey Baron's ferocious drumming and Zorn's savage, apocalyptic squeal, Beit is an archetype of focused intensity. (Anyone dying for truth in jazz needs only to hear "Peliyot" to be instantly transfixed and astounded.) Baron and Greg Cohen are among the most powerful and perceptive rhythm sections in any genre, and Dave Douglas, one of the most brilliant trumpeters of his generation, continues to lend immaculate support. Simply stated, this is one of jazz's greatest groups.
:::Review by Jim Smith:::

Masada- Vol. 2: Beit (1995)

1. Piram (7:08)
2. Hadasha (10:05)
3. Lachish (2:25)
4. Rachab (4:47)
5. Peliyot (4:32)
6. Achshaph (2:44)
7. Sansanah (7:09)
8. Ravayah (3:19)
9. Sahar (6:12)
10. Tirzah (8:47)
11. Shilhim (2:18)

Bass - Greg Cohen
Drums - Joey Baron
Mastered By - Allan Tucker
Producer - John Zorn , Kazunori Sugiyama
Recorded By, Mixed By - Jim Anderson
Saxophone [Alto], Composed By - John Zorn
Trumpet - Dave Douglas


Posted: Wednesday, 28 January 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , , , , , , ,

Ascension is the single recording that placed John Coltrane firmly into the avant-garde. Whereas, prior to 1965, Coltrane could be heard playing in an avant vein with stretched out solos, atonality, and a seemingly free design to the beat, Ascension throws most rules right out the window with complete freedom from the groove and strikingly abrasive sheets of horn interplay. Recorded with three tenors (Trane, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp), two altos (Marion Brown, John Tchicai), two trumpet players (Freddie Hubbard, Dewey Johnson), two bassists (Art Davis, Jimmy Garrison), the lone McCoy Tyner on piano, and Elvin Jones on the drums, this large group is both relentless and soulful simultaneously. While there are segments where the ensemble plays discordant and abrasive skronks, these are usually segues into intriguing blues-based solos from each member. The comparison that is immediately realized is Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz of five years previous. However, it should be known that Ascension certainly carries it own weight, and in a strange sense makes Coleman's foray a passive adventure -- mostly due to an updated sonic quality (à la Bob Thiele) and also Trane's greater sense of passionate spiritualism. Timed at around forty minutes, this can be a difficult listen at first, but with a patient ear and an appreciation for the finer things in life, the reward is a greater understanding of the personal path that the artist was on at that particular time in his development. Coltrane was always on an unceasing mission for personal expansion through the mouthpiece of his horn, but by the time of this recording he had begun to reach the level of "elder statesman" and began to find other voices (Shepp, Sanders, and Marion Brown) to propel and expand his sounds and emotions. Therefore, Ascension reflects more of an event rather than just a jazz record and should be sought out by either experienced jazz appreciators or other open minded listeners, but not by unsuspecting bystanders.
:::Review by Jack LV Isles:::

John Coltrane – Ascension (1965)

1. Ascension - Edition II (40:23)
2. Ascension - Edition I (38:31)

Bass - Art Davis , Jimmy Garrison
Drums - Elvin Jones
Mastered By - Kevin "Mirabile Dictu" Reeves*
Other [Original Liner Notes] - A. B. Spellman
Other [Reissue Liner Notes] - Lewis Porter
Photography [Original-lp Photographs] - Chuck Stewart
Piano - McCoy Tyner
Producer [Original Recordings] - Bob Thiele
Recorded By - Rudy Van Gelder
Saxophone [Alto] - John Tchicai , Marion Brown
Saxophone [Tenor] - Archie Shepp , John Coltrane , Pharoah Sanders
Trumpet - Dewey Johnson , Freddie Hubbard

Recorded June 28, 1965 at Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

:::Last Exit:::

Posted: Tuesday, 27 January 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , ,

In the mid-'80s, Bill Laswell had a great idea. Why not combine rock's raging rhythms and volume with free improvisation's unfettered creativity and ferocity? To this end, he made three inspired choices to fill out his band. Drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson was a veteran of Ornette Coleman's Prime Time ensemble as well as a past member of Cecil Taylor's volcanic mid-'70s bands. Sonny Sharrock had burst onto the scene in the late '60s with Pharoah Sanders, Don Cherry, and others, establishing a unique approach to free electric guitar playing, only to retreat from the scene before being lured out of retirement by Laswell. The wild card was German saxophone behemoth Peter Brötzmann, known for his classic, shatteringly intense album Machine Gun from 1968 as well as multitudes of subsequent recordings where a premium was placed on visceral, gut-wrenching interplay among musicians. Mix these elements together and Laswell (with his own funky, dub-heavy electric bass anchoring the proceedings) had an incendiary formula, one that perhaps couldn't hold together long but, while it did, it produced some amazingly powerful music. Never was this more in evidence than on this first, self-titled release, one of the very finest albums of the '80s. Entirely improvised, Last Exit nonetheless based most of its pieces on blues forms, even if highly abstracted. This bedrock allowed the musicians, particularly Brötzmann and Sharrock (whose early death in 1994 would cancel any possibility, however tenuous at that point, of the group's continuation) to freely explore the outer boundaries of their instruments, sublimely soaring over the down to earth and dirty rhythm team of Laswell and Jackson. This tension, strongly shown on the first four tracks here, reached almost unbearable degrees; its release when they would slide back into a groove leaves the listener utterly drained. Subsequent albums (notably Koln) would come close to attaining this level of intensity and creativity, but Last Exit ranks as a pinnacle both in Laswell's career and in the rock/free improv genre it spawned. A classic release, one that should be in the collection of anyone interested in either contemporary free improvisation or the more creative branches of rock.
:::Review by Brian Olewnick:::

Last Exit - Last Exit (1986)

1. Discharge (3:23)
2. Backwater (5:27)
3. Catch As Catch Can (2:10)
4. Red Light (7:54)
5. Enemy Within (3:47)
6. Crackin (7:46)
7. Pig Freedom (3:59)
8. Voice Of A Skin Hanger (1:43)
9. Zulu Butter (2:21)

Members: Bill Laswell, Peter Brötzmann, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Sonny Sharrock

:::The Shape of Jazz to Come:::

Posted: Friday, 23 January 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , ,

Ornette Coleman's Atlantic debut, The Shape of Jazz to Come, was a watershed event in the genesis of avant-garde jazz, profoundly steering its future course and throwing down a gauntlet that some still haven't come to grips with. The record shattered traditional concepts of harmony in jazz, getting rid of not only the piano player but the whole idea of concretely outlined chord changes. The pieces here follow almost no predetermined harmonic structure, which allows Coleman and partner Don Cherry an unprecedented freedom to take the melodies of their solo lines wherever they felt like going in the moment, regardless of what the piece's tonal center had seemed to be. Plus, this was the first time Coleman recorded with a rhythm section -- bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins -- that was loose and open-eared enough to follow his already controversial conception. Coleman's ideals of freedom in jazz made him a feared radical in some quarters; there was much carping about his music flying off in all directions, with little direct relation to the original theme statements. If only those critics could have known how far out things would get in just a few short years; in hindsight, it's hard to see just what the fuss was about, since this is an accessible, frequently swinging record. It's true that Coleman's piercing, wailing alto squeals and vocalized effects weren't much beholden to conventional technique, and that his themes often followed unpredictable courses, and that the group's improvisations were very free-associative. But at this point, Coleman's desire for freedom was directly related to his sense of melody -- which was free-flowing, yes, but still very melodic. Of the individual pieces, the haunting "Lonely Woman" is a stone-cold classic, and "Congeniality" and "Peace" aren't far behind. Any understanding of jazz's avant-garde should begin here.
:::Review by Steve Huey:::

Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)

1. Lonely Woman (4:59)
2. Eventually (4:20)
3. Peace (9:04)
4. Focus On Sanity (6:50)
5. Congeniality (6:41)
6. Chronology (6:05)

Bass - Charlie Haden
Cornet - Don Cherry
Drums - Billy Higgins
Engineer [Recording] - Bones Howe
Producer - Nesuhi Ertegun
Saxophone [Alto] - Ornette Coleman

:::Dance Of Magic:::

Posted: Tuesday, 20 January 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , ,

Recorded with a who's who of fusion titans including trumpeter Eddie Henderson, bassist Stanley Clarke, and keyboardist Herbie Hancock, Dance of Magic channels the lessons drummer Norman Connors learned in the employ of Pharoah Sanders, Sam Rivers, and Sun Ra, marshaling Latin rhythms, electronic textures, and cosmic mysticism to create nondenominational yet deeply spiritual funk-jazz. The sprawling 21-minute title cut spans the entirety of the record's first half, capturing a monumental jam session that explores the outer edges of free improvisation but never steps past the point of no return. Connors' furious drumming is like a trail of bread crumbs that leads his collaborators back home. The remaining three tracks are smaller in scale but no less epic in scope, culminating with the blistering "Give the Drummer Some."
:::Review by Jason Ankeny:::

Norman Connors - Dance Of Magic (1972)

A. Dance Of Magic (21:00)
B1. Morning Change (6:29)
B2. Blue (10:20)
B3. Give The Drummer Some (2:22)

African Percussion, Baliphone - Anthony Wiles
African Percussion, Congas - Nat Bettis
African Percussion, Shakers - Babafemi (tracks: A)
Alto And Soprano Saxophones - Gary Bartz
Bass - Cecil McBee (tracks: A, B1) , Stanley Clarke
Drums - Norman Connors
Flute - Art Webb
Percussion - Airto Moreira (tracks: B1, B2, B3) , Alphonse Mouzon (tracks: A, B2) , Billy Hart (tracks: B1, B2, B3)
Piano, Fender Rhodes Electric Piano - Herbie Hancock
Producer - Dennis Wilen , Skip Drinkwater
Tenor And Soprano Saxophones - Carlos Garnett
Trumpet - Eddie Henderson
Vocals - U.B.F. Singers, The (tracks: A)

:::Live At The East:::

Posted: Monday, 19 January 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , ,

By 1971 Pharoah Sanders's playing essentially alternated between two moods: ferocious and peaceful. This live LP (whose contents have not yet been reissued on CD - as far as I know it has, in Japan obviously - by jazzlover) gives one a good example of how the passionate tenor sounded in clubs during the early '70s. Sanders is joined by an impressive group of players: trumpeter Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson, flutist Carlos Garnett, Harold Vick on tenor, pianist Joe Bonner, the basses of Stanley Clarke and Cecil McBee, drummers Norman Connors and Billy Hart and percussionist Lawrence Killian. On the 20-minute "Healing Song," the lengthy "Memories of J.W. Coltrane" and the two-part "Lumkili," Pharoah Sanders is heard in top form.
:::Review by Scott Yanow:::

Pharoah Sanders - Live At The East (1971)

1. Healing Song (21:43)
2. Memories Of J. W. Coltrane (12:51)
3. Lumkili (08:33)

Bass - Cecil McBee , Stanley Clarke
Congas, Percussion [Bailophone] - Lawrence Killian
Drums - Norman Connors , William Hart
Flute, Voice - Carlos Garnett
Piano, Harmonium - Joseph Bonner
Saxophone - Pharoah Sanders
Tenor Vocals - Harold Vic
Trumpet - Marvin Peterson