Jazz in Elsewhere

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Vijay Iyer: Solo (ACT/Southbound)

1 Nov 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

This gifted, multiple-award wining pianist and rather ferocious intellect has been profiled at Elsewhere previously (here) and this album is perhaps the one which will be persuasive evidence that he really is something. Eleven pieces played solo -- among them Monk's Epistrophy, the standards Darn That Dream, Ellington's Fluerette Africaine and Black and Tan Fantasy, alongside a number of... > Read more

Vijay Iyer: Darn That Dream

THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET (1968-70): Lost in the big Apple

1 Nov 2010  |  2 min read

If you had a bottomless pit of money to start your own record company, who would you sign? That's what the Beatles faced when they launched Apple Records in early 68. Their famous ad which invited people to send in tapes saw their office swamped – but not one act was signed on that basis: Badfinger (then known as the Iveys) came through their road manager Mal Evans; Mary Hopkins... > Read more

Modern Jazz Quartet: Visitor From Venus

Reuben Bradley: Resonator (Rattle Jazz)

26 Oct 2010  |  1 min read

This new album on the immaculately presented and recorded Rattle Jazz imprint proves again there is a depth of New Zealand jazz talent to be encouraged and taken to a wider audience. Helmed by drummer Bradley -- with a core group of Roger Manins on brusque and/or melodic tenor, keyboardist Miles Crayford and Mostyn Cole on bass -- this album covers a wide swathe of Bradley's original... > Read more

Reuben Bradley: Doppler Effect

Jorgensen, Mikkonen, Ounaskari: Kuara, Psalms and Folk Songs (ECM/Ode)

25 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

Unfamiliar names, but this trumpet, piano and drum trio deliver an always interesting and often impressive line in meditative mood music which steps lightly between the most refined Miles Davis, contemporary classical and ambient world music. In places Per Jorgensen's trumpet sounds strangely discordant as it conjures up a primitive horn (the Baltic folk song Tuuin Tuuin), Samuli... > Read more

Jorgensen, Mikkonen, Ounaskari: Mountain of Sorrow

Youn Sun Nah: Same Girl (ACT/Southbound)

18 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

This sophisticated Korea-born singer who has long been based in Europe -- this is her seventh album, but only the second for Germany's ACT Music -- grew up with parents who were classical musicians, and that might explain some of the assured poise she brings to her delivery of ballads. But before she arrived in Paris in the mid Nineties (drawn by chanson apparently) she hardly knew a... > Read more

Youn Sun Nah: My Name is Carnival

Berne, Taborn, Formanek, Cleaver: The Rub and Spare Change (ECM/Ode)

18 Oct 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Although you would be unwise to say any particular album seems unusual on ECM -- this is a label which has had Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble, the noisecore of Lask and the Art Ensemble of Chicago -- this one out of Downtown NYC is unexpected. The composer here is bassist Michael Formanek who has been a mainstay of the Mingus Big Band and in altoist Tim Berne's more edgy... > Read more

Berne, Tabron, Formanek, Cleaver: Inside the Box

Charles Lloyd Quartet: Mirror (ECM/Ode)

11 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

Anyone who has seen this extraordinary quartet recently -- they played in New Zealand earlier this year, Lloyd interviewed here -- will need not further prodding on this album other than to know it is released, the first studio album by this line-up. These tunes -- many of them familiar in their concert repertoire and from previous albums (I Fall in Love Too Easily) -- were recorded in the... > Read more

harles Lloyd Quartet: Go Down Moses

DAVID S. WARE: The price of free

11 Oct 2010  |  5 min read  |  1

When the histories of jazz in the 20th century are published one name from the last two decades could loom unnaturally large: Wynton Marsalis. In some books he'll be hailed as the man who saved jazz from factionalism, commercial isolation and the like. In others he'll be the revisionist who used unquestionable talent, persuasive intellect and immense personal charm to marginalise... > Read more

David S Ware: Sweet Georgia Bright

SUPERBREW: Journeys in the past

10 Oct 2010  |  1 min read

Any honest longtime observer of local jazz would say that right now it’s moribund, the patient has no discernible pulse. Sure some musicians would argue otherwise. But they would say that, wouldn’t they? Graybeards like me -- people engaged by local jazz and improv.music for over three decades, and aware of the decades previous -- despair when most nz.jazz CDs arrive:... > Read more

Superbrew: In Out and Around

MILES DAVIS; BITCHES BREW (2010): The sorcerer in his laboratory

4 Oct 2010  |  4 min read

Carlos Santana, who says rarely a day goes by when he doesn't listen to some Miles Davis, believes you only have to listen to the Davis' album Live at the Plugged Nickel -- recorded in December 65 at a Chicago club but not released until '68 -- to realise the trumpeter had exhausted standards such as Stella By Starlight and On Green Dolphin Street, and even his own classic So What (from... > Read more

Miles Davis: Spanish Key (single edit)

Lloyd McNeill: Asha (Universal Sounds/Southbound)

21 Sep 2010  |  2 min read

Jazz flautist Lloyd McNeill lived the kind of life only possible in his era: he counted among his friends in the Sixties and Seventies Pablo Picasso (when they both lived in the south of France, McNeill also being a painter), jazz musicians such as Cecil McBee and Ron Carter, singer Nina Simone and many in the Civil Rights movement. He spent time as a Navy reservist, was well-traveled... > Read more

Lloyd McNeill: As a Matter of Fact

RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK (1936-77): Just a wild'n'crazy guy?

20 Sep 2010  |  3 min read  |  1

Nobody talks about Rahsaan Roland Kirk much anymore. Maybe it’s because his recording career was too erratic, maybe because this sometimes fright-inducing multi-instrumentalist (literally, he could play three saxophones simultaneously) went kinda strange from time to time. You know what some listeners are like – they are dullards who like things linear and consistent. Guys like... > Read more

MILES DAVIS INTERVIEWED (1988): Man with the attitude

20 Sep 2010  |  12 min read  |  1

It was probably about lunchtime in New York, but here in Auckland it was 4.30 am on a grim and watery Tuesday, hardly the best time to do a phone interview. Certainly not this prearranged caller to the man known as the Prince of Darkness and who has been known to open his end of the conversation with a terse “Don’t ask me no stupid questions man.” But with a quick press of... > Read more

Embryo: 40 (Trikont/Yellow Eye)

20 Sep 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Might as well confess, until a fortnight ago I had never heard of Embryo at any point in their 40 year career -- but they are already well on their way to becoming my new favourite German jazz-rock ensemble. From my reading of the impressive booklet which comes with this double disc they should have been across everyone's sightlines at some stage: they played straight after Hendrix at his... > Read more

Embryo: 1000 Feet (1971)

Roy Budd: Get Carter soundtrack (Silva Screen/Southbound)

19 Sep 2010  |  <1 min read  |  1

The classic Brit-film Get Carter of '71 -- Michael Caine in a career-defining role as a London gangster out for revenge in grim Newcastle -- could have come with a period soundtrack, but Bowie and T.Rex would have sounded pretty silly in this bleak context. But, as with the first adaptation of In Cold Blood, it sounded so much better with cool jazz and disturbing quasi-classical pieces. The... > Read more

Roy Budd: Goodbye Carter

COURTNEY PINE INTERVIEWED (1998): Finding the inner man

6 Sep 2010  |  7 min read

Courtney Pine is diverted from telling his daughter how Tony Blair trounced the opposition and of the legacy of John Major. “She's four months old, it’s never too early to start,” he laughs, then embarks on a discussion about cricket. “You’ve got a good team – and it’s a rebuilding time,” he offers charitably. Politics, family and... > Read more

CHARLES MINGUS: Genius captured in the late Fifties

30 Aug 2010  |  2 min read

Charles Mingus was one of jazz's greatest geniuses and remains among the most misunderstood. Irascible and demanding, his personality and roguish reputation often tower larger than his inspired music. The respectful Columbia Legacy reissue in '99 of two of his late Fifties albums – Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty – restored the genius part of this bassist/composer back into... > Read more

Charles Mingus: Open letter to Duke (from Mingus Ah Um)

CHARLES MINGUS, PITHECANTHROPUS ERECTUS IN 1956: Man standing up tall

30 Aug 2010  |  3 min read

By the time Charles Mingus died in 1979 at 56, most of the obituaries had already been prepared. Mingus, suffering the increasingly debilitating Lou Gehrig's disease, hadn't been able to walk or play bass in a year, and things just got worse. When told of his passing, the bassist Charlie Haden said, "Charles Mingus was one of those rare human beings who created his own musical... > Read more

Charles Mingus: Profile of Jackie

PHILIP LARKIN ON JAZZ: The poet laureate of swing

23 Aug 2010  |  3 min read

Because we listen to the jazz of the Thirties and Forties at such an emotional distance, it is almost impossible for the 21st century, iPod-carrying, cool post-modernist to feel something -- possibly even anything -- of what so affected those who heard it as fresh, exciting, innovative and daring at the time. It is hard to sell the idea, let alone the music, of Benny Goodman or even Louis... > Read more

Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra: St Louis Blues (1929)

ALBERT AYLER: Opening the door to the future

16 Aug 2010  |  2 min read

Albert Ayler -- the inspired, heroic, driven and sometimes difficult saxophonist who committed suicide in 1970 at age 34 -- still stands at a crossroads in jazz. By the late Nineties – when an exceptional, expanded edition of Ayler live surfaced -- even the music's most ardent advocates were having to concede that jazz was almost an historical artifact. “Contemporary... > Read more

Albert Ayler: Our Prayer