Jazz in Elsewhere

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THE VERVE LABEL: Fifty-plus years, and what's the forecast?

18 Mar 2011  |  5 min read

Sometimes, if we are lucky we can be at historic events. But we might not realise it until later. If a historic event is the Foo Fighters first recording as a band -- and remember Dave Grohl did the band's debut album himself -- then I can immodestly claim to have been there. It was in a BBC studio in London, Pat Smear lit one after another beneath the No Smoking sign, while Grohl was... > Read more

Joe Henderson: Miles Ahead (with John Scofield, Dave Holland and Al Foster, from the 1993 Verve albu

JACK DeJOHNETTE INTERVIEWED (2011): Two Jacks and a Miles

2 Mar 2011  |  7 min read

When fame called on Jack DeJohnette during his period in Miles Davis' innovative electric band of the late Sixties and early Seventies, he was ready for it. Acclaim outside their own world is unusual for jazz musicians, but DeJohnette had tasted it a few years previous in the Charles Lloyd Quartet which enjoyed that rarity, a jazz album which was a hit. Forest Flower, recorded live... > Read more

Sonny Rollins Trio: Shadow Waltz (Solar/Southbound)

28 Feb 2011  |  1 min read

Although now 80 and still playing at the time of this writing, the problem tenor giant Rollns has faced from the Sixties onwards is that no matter how great he plays, his every accomplishment is almost invariably compared to his exceptional work between 1955 and '58. That was when he recorded Saxophone Colossus, Way Out West, the set which became A Night at the Village Vanguard and Freedom... > Read more

Sonny Rollins: Till There Was You

CHARLIE PARKER: A life and musical shards of light

28 Feb 2011  |  11 min read  |  1

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis in his characteristically clipped manner once observed that “the history of jazz can be told in four words: Louis Armstrong – Charlie Parker.” In offering those two names Davis highlighted two vastly different lives and two facets of genius. Armstrong was undoubtedly one of the great artists of the 20th century and, although his reputation as... > Read more

Esperanza Spalding: Chamber Music Society (Head Up)

20 Feb 2011  |  1 min read

Because we could safely assume few aggrieved Justin Bieber followers will ever come to Elsewhere, it is safe to write about this hitherto little-known jazz singer-composer-bassist who won the Grammy for Best New Artist over the glorious child who has been the sensation of the Twitter Generation. At first blush you can forgive their anger that their man -- boy? -- didn't win because he... > Read more

Esperanza Spalding: What Friend

SHEZ RAJA PROFILED (2011): Jazz with a world view

10 Feb 2011  |  1 min read  |  2

British jazz bassist Shez Raja confounds expectation in the best possible way. A scan of reviews and comments in the British press for the Shez Raja Collective (which included saxophonist Andy Sheppard and trumpeter Claude Deppa on the new album Mystic Radikal) refer to funkmeister Bootsy Collins and Marcus Miller (behind Miles Davis albums such as Tutu), Stanley Clarke and the Mahavisnu... > Read more

Shez Raja Collective: Karmic Flow

FREEDOM, RHYTHM AND SOUND: Jazz with a raised fist and a copy of Malcolm X speeches in the other hand

31 Jan 2011  |  3 min read

Few people today -- musicians included -- consider rock or jazz as “political”, even in the broadest sense of the word. Yet back in the late 60s and through the 70s large areas of both certainly were. Less than a year after that remarkable year 1968 (student demonstrations, assassinations, political oppression and revolutionary activity) the dialogue changed. Jefferson... > Read more

Archie Shepp: Attica Blues

Blood and Burger: Guitar Music (Derniere Bande)

24 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

The great jazz, post-Hendrix and entirely Elsewhere guitarist James Blood Ulmer delivered exceptional albums of post-Ornette Coleman harmolodic music such as Tales of Captain Black and Are You Glad To Be In America on John Snyder's short-lived but creditable Artist House label. But then he slowly evaporated from critical sight. His albums on CBS in the... > Read more

Blood and Burger: Long Legged Fly

JOE LA BARBERA PROFILED: Counting the beats

24 Jan 2011  |  5 min read

For some reason - perhaps because they work in a loud profession - you expect drummers to shout. Few do, and while Joe La Barbera may have started his career in the appropriately named Thundering Herd led by Woody Herman, the quietly spoken drummer doesn't shout about it, and doesn't bellow about his illustrious career either. For the past decade he has taught percussion at the... > Read more

Trygve Seim/Andreas Utnem: Purcor; Songs for Saxophone and Piano (ECM/Ode)

23 Jan 2011  |  <1 min read

On a blindfold test -- "What record label is this on?" -- my money would be on greater than 90 percent of music-aware Elsewhere people saying immediately "ECM", and about half of those left over making an inspired guess and saying the same. Much as this is all things which its oddly under-claiming promo makes for it ("a thoughtful and reflective album, of great... > Read more

Siem/Utnem: Bhavana

MILES DAVIS, A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON: And a fighter by his trade . . .

14 Jan 2011  |  4 min read  |  3

An inch over six feet and usually weighing in just under 200 pounds.  Jack Johnson was perfectly proportioned for a heavyweight fighter. But as a kid in Galveston, Texas in the 1880s, he let his older sisters fight for him. At 12, Johnson jumped a ship for New York, returning a year later to work on the docks where he had his share of beatings.  So he took boxing... > Read more

Right Off (extract only)

DAVE BRUBECK (2011): A jazz life of constant discovery

10 Jan 2011  |  3 min read

Dave Brubeck, whose hit album in 1958 was Time Out, understands time better than most of us. In December 2010 he turned 90 and although ailing, as expected, he had been playing right up until his late 80s – and been collecting awards and accolades. For many jazz listeners and critics Brubeck was always considered an intellectual rather than an instinctive musician, although the... > Read more

Dave Brubeck Quartet: Three To Get Ready (from At Carnegie Hall, 1963)

FREE JAZZ WITH A BLEEP: The Norwegian electronic-jazz label Rune Grammofone

23 Dec 2010  |  5 min read

Thelonious Monk said, "Jazz and freedom go hand in hand”. We can guess he meant freedom in a political sense, because jazz is about individual expression and in that regard was a vehicle for the aspirations of his people. It's about freedom and post-Monk found its voice in free jazz. Free jazz is much maligned, largely because it’s difficult to assimilate and... > Read more

Arve Henriksen: Inside Tea-House

John Niland: Barnett Lane (Eelman/Jayrem)

5 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Here's a surprise: I hadn't heard of pianist Niland since his Inside album of the mid Eighties which he recorded with drummer Ross Burge and bassist Rob Mahoney in Wellington's Marmalade Studios. It was nomintaed for Jazz Album of the Year at the annual music awards (I'm sure I voted for it) and then Niland was off to Sydney. And here he is again after al these decades. Although this... > Read more

John Niland: Barnett Lane

THE ACT LABEL, SIGNATURE EDITION (2010): Getting their ACT acts together

5 Dec 2010  |  5 min read

There is something smart about a record label adopting the idea of generic covers: certainly the distinctive Reid Miles design for covers for Blue Note (frequently using Frank Wolff's photos) became a hallmark of quality, and ECM came into the world (after a false start) with those cool, enigmatic photos which gave little away but sugested interesting contents within the sleeve. The Rattle... > Read more

Nguyen Le and Dhafer Youssef (on oud): Zafaran (2006)

MILES DAVIS AND QUINCY JONES AT MONTREUX: The circle is unbroken

29 Nov 2010  |  4 min read

It was emblematic of the soul rebel career of Miles Davis that in his final years he was painting as much as he was playing, had a cameo spot in a movie (Dingo) playing a pre-electric period jazz trumpeter, exchanging tapes with Prince, recorded with rapper Eazy Mo Bee and – most surprising of all turned up at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1991 to play some classic tunes from his... > Read more

Blues for Pablo

LLoyd Miller and the Heliocentrics: Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics (Strut)

22 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

Both London's Heliocentrics and their label Strut have an admirable practice of getting different artists together for projects (see here and here) and sometimes they just soar. This is one such project, the Heliocentrics with multi-instrumentalist Miller who grew up on Dixieland/New Orleans jazz but then, when his dad was posted to Iran in the late Fifties, began to pick up local... > Read more

Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics: Rain Dance

Chet Baker: In New York (American Jazz Classics/Southbound)

21 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

Although you could hardly argue with a line-up which had tenor player Johnny Griffin, pianist Al Haig, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones alongside trumpeter Chet Baker, the result was a fairly mainstream, late Fifties sessions which -- while admittedly pushing Baker in a way he hadn't previously -- don't really separate themselves from the pack. Of course there is fine... > Read more

Chet Baker: Soft Winds

JOHN McLAUGHLIN: Live in Paris . . . and New York

15 Nov 2010  |  5 min read  |  1

The opening track on guitarist John McLaughlin's Live in Paris, usefully serves as a microcosm of his career. It starts slow, melodic and considered with McLaughlin peeling off memorable phrases, then picks up speed to hit a furious pace as he skitters around the fret-board like ferret freebasing. Things then cut back to irresistible refinement as it gathers in its melodic sharpness... > Read more

John McLaughlin: Seven Sisters (from Live in Paris, 2000)

Mike Nock: An Accumulation of Subtleties (FWM/Rhythmethod)

14 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

This quite exceptional double disc by New Zealand-born pianist/composer Nock arrives with the advantage of great timing: Norman Meehan's fine biography of Nock, Serious Fun, has just been published (see Elsewhere review here) on the occasion of Nock's 70th birthday. Well, age shall not weary him as the first, exquisite and commanding disc illustrates. With the sibling rhythm section of... > Read more

Mike Nock: Joyous Awakening