Jazz in Elsewhere

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Andy Atwill: 3 Sides of the Same Coin (Ode)

9 Aug 2010    1

Bassist (electric and acoustic), composer and arranger Atwill pulls together the cream of New Zealand jazz players (including Ron Samsom, Carolina Moon, Kevin Field and Kim Paterson) for this calling card of diversity recorded in London (which explains the presence of Greg Heath), Sydney, the States, Germany and New Zealand over the past five years. From the self-explanatory titles on Bass... > Read more

Andy Atwill: Leaps and Bounds

CECIL TAYLOR IN 1990: Florescent flights

9 Aug 2010

Genius is the word a lot of people use about Cecil Taylor – but words get pretty debased these days. (“Genius, that‘s like brilliant - but better, yeah?” ) So let’s just say Cecil Taylor is different and interesting. Way back in the Fifties they used to debate whether his abstract speedthrash piano playing was actually music at all and as... > Read more

Cecil Taylor: Saita

Zirkus: Sirius Music (iiii)

8 Aug 2010    1

Wellington certainly throws up some interesting, if not always convincing, improvising artists who edge towards the free jazz idiom but rather hit a default position of swing-cum-Dixie with some slightly self-conscious moments. This one -- recorded live in Happy and on the iiii label -- shows that the spirit of the old Braille label and artists like Six Volts still looms large as this big... > Read more

Zirkus: Swamp Song

ROY HARGROVE INTERVIEWED (1990): Young man with a horn

6 Aug 2010

Roy Hargrove’s youth is the reason he doesn’t have too much to say for himself. At 20, Hargrove simply may not have all that much to talk about. After all, what can he have done? Quite a lot, in fact. Three years ago while still in high school, this hot jazz trumpeter out of Texas was playing on stage at the famous Caravan of Dreams Theatre in Fort Worth alongside... > Read more

Roy Hargrove: The Nearness of You

ORNETTE COLEMAN AND THE NAKED LUNCH SOUNDTRACK (1991): Something else, again

2 Aug 2010

Movie director David Cronenberg was a gutsy guy, asking Ornette Coleman to play on the soundtrack for his inspired but ultimately flawed realisation of crusty old Bill Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Ornette Coleman was the perfect choice, of course – eccentric and of Burroughs’ period, he'd spent time in those hills above Tangiers and had the musical accomplishment to... > Read more

Ornette Coleman: Intersong (from Naked Lunch, 1991)

Neil Cowley Trio: Radio Silence (HideInside/Southbound)

1 Aug 2010    1

British jazz pianist Cowley and his trio seem to blow hot and cold: their '06 album Displaced was terrific (see here), but on their Loud Louder Stop of last year (here) they resorted to repetitive rock-like riffery as if to distance themselves from the "jazz" world. There is more hard hammering riffery on parts of this new album but here at least Cowley stretches out to show those... > Read more

Neil Cowley Trio: Vice Skating

Scott LaFaro: Pieces of Jade (Resonance)

26 Jul 2010

The great jazz bassist Scott LaFaro didn't have a long time -- he was killed in a car accident in 1961 at age 25 -- but his impact on acoustic jazz was, and remains, significant for his work in the classic Fifties trio with pianist Bill Evans and drummer Paul Motian. His gentle, often high, singing tone allowed for great emotional dexterity and depth -- and appended to this short collection... > Read more

LaFaro, Friedman, LaRoca: Woody'n You

Orchestra of Spheres: Nonagonic Now (Sound Explorers)

19 Jul 2010

This rhythm-driven four-piece from Wellington is one part early Talking Heads (or the Feelies as a jazz ensemble), a slug of Sun Ra if he'd come from South East Asia and not Saturn, some seriously brain-bending guitar work (with one ear on mad Afro-juju as much as bent country jiggery and scattergun free playing), theremin, tape machines, chanty sections and Lord knows what else. It is an... > Read more

Orchestra of Spheres: Isness

SUN RA IN THE SEVENTIES (2010): Back from space

12 Jul 2010

In the late Eighties and early Nineties, Sun Ra was the hip name to drop into rock conversations: I think Sonic Youth and Henry Rollins started it, but frequently rock musicians who had paid scant attention to jazz of any kind were mentioning the great Sun Ra alongside Led Zeppelin as an influence. As with Tony Bennett being cool with the grunge generation, I kinda doubted it. Sun... > Read more

Sun Ra: Tenderly

Herbie Hancock: The Imagine Project (Sony)

11 Jul 2010

Regardless of what you think of John Lennon's song Imagine -- and opinion ranges from drippy sentimentality to inspirational -- most would agree the song succeeds with many people for its understated delivery. Lennon sang it without aching obviously through whatever emotion he might be bringing to it, which allowed the listener to fill in the gap. Wish we could say the same for the many... > Read more

Herbie Hancock: Tomorrow Never Knows

JOE HENDERSON INTERVIEWED (1994): A star to guide them

11 Jul 2010

Joe Henderson is sitting at a press conference in Carnegie Hall, New York, patiently answering another dumb leading question. Someone among the contingent of journalists has just asked this legendary tenor saxophonist -- who turned 57 this week -- why it has taken so long for him to be recognised. Henderson smiles wanly and with the humility that has been his hallmark says maybe it was... > Read more

Joe Henderson: Lotus Blossom (from Lush Life, 1992)

THELONIOUS MONK; THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL by ROBIN D.G. KELLEY

10 Jul 2010    1

In late November 1963, a 5000 word profile of Thelonious Monk was scheduled to appear in Time magazine. Monk was to be the cover. An interviewer and jazz aficionado Barry Farrell from Time had spent months with Monk watching him at work and relaxing at home with his family, and the Russian painter Boris Chaliapin had been commissioned to paint Monk's portrait. (Chaliapan complained that... > Read more

Thelonious Monk: Introspection (1947, with bassist Gene Ramey, drummer Art Blakey)

BESSIE SMITH: The Empress of the Blues -- and jazz? (1991)

7 Jul 2010

It wasn’t just because he discovered Bessie Smith that Columbia executive John Hammond sank money into recording her in 1933 when her money was all gone. Columbia was all but bankrupt and Hammond scuffling for bucks himself. But to the end of his life Hammond simply believed Bessie Smith to be “the greatest artist American jazz ever produced.” A "jazz" artist,... > Read more

CHRISTIAN SCOTT INTERVIEWED (2010): The navigator in difficult waters

28 Jun 2010

Trumpeter Christian Scott out of New Orleans is a hot property in jazz these days. He has received considerable critical acclaim for his unique tone (he plays a specially made trumpet) and the intensity of his playing. He learned from grandfather Big Chief Donald Harrison Snr and uncle Donald Harrison Jnr who had played in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, won a scholarship to Berklee, was... > Read more

Christian Scott: KKPD

Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord)

28 Jun 2010

From the opening bars - a slightly discordant guitar and unsettling drums and knocks -- this album announces itself as something delivering the unexpected by a young jazz trumpeter out of New Orleans. Scott, 27, and his smart young band here probe the edges of the avant-garde and free playing but always remain thoroughly grounded in the long tradition that reaches from Louis Armstrong and... > Read more

Christian Scott: American't

THE YOUNG LIONS OF JAZZ (1994): Tomorrow is the question

27 Jun 2010

If rock is the culture which eats its young -- or at least allows Kurt Cobain to leave a suicide note which says “I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasm I once had as a child” -- then jazz is the music which barely allows youth to exist at all. The contract of jazz almost demands its young artists leap fully grown into the world not only as inheritors... > Read more

Joshua Redman: Soul Dance (with Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins, 1994)

FREE JAZZ OF THE SEVENTIES: Missing in action . . . and in-action

14 Jun 2010    1

Without wishing to sound the complete High Fidelity, but I was moving some albums around the other night ... As with many people I have an embarrassment of riches on vinyl, and a rich amount of embarrassing vinyl too.  I’d certainly be at a loss to explain how I acquired that three album set of The History of Flo and Eddy and the Turtles, the "classic" Peanut... > Read more

CHET BAKER REMEMBERED: The long journey into night

8 Jun 2010    1

Trumpeter Chet Baker's death in 1988 was tragic -- but, at 59, he was lucky to have lived so long. A brilliant stylist whose work in Gerry Mulligan's piano-less quartet in the early Fifties -- and whose recordings in Paris shortly afterwards -- are worth serious investigation, Baker modelled himself on Miles Davis at his most ineffably cool. Although his trumpet playing rarely explored... > Read more

Chet Baker: The Thrill is Gone

BRANFORD MARSALIS INTERVIEWED (1988): Family matters

1 Jun 2010

Alright, here’s one for old folks. Don’t you wonder what ever happened to Chris Jagger? Yes, Mick’s brother - you must remember him, he launched his own recording career somewhere back there in the late 60s. It was around the time Fred Lennon (yep, John’s dad) released his first - and only -- single. OK, that’s cruel, but you have to sympathise with these... > Read more

DIXIELAND DISCOVERY: Louis, Pete, Al and me down South

24 May 2010

Duke Ellington famously observed there’s only two kinds of music, good and bad. He may well be right. But there's also hey-nonny-nonny folk music, most of which frankly I don't consider music at all. It’s a mistake. Most of my life I’ve managed to avoid folk - except for one year when I was asked to judge the category for our annual Music Awards. This was such a... > Read more

Louis Armstrong: Dear Old Southland (1957)