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Jazz Primer

Great, but obscure albums to purchase

By Published: December 9, 2004
- TOSHIKO MARIANO QUARTET: a very young Toshiko Akiyoshi on piano and then-husband Charlie Mariano on alto. Brilliant playing, excellent songwriting, a flawless album. - FAREWELL TO MINGUS [Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band]: some of my favorite compositions, arrangements, and performances on any TA/LT album, and that's saying a lot. If you haven't heard Toshiko's arrangements here, you simply have not heard what a big band can do. - JAZZ FOR MODERNS [Duane Tatro]: very harmonically advanced and structurally unusual, like Bob Graettinger or Boyd Raeburn, but this nonet also swings hard and memorably. I believe this is Tatro's only album, which is a shame cuz he's a fascinating composer. Also check out Art Pepper's SMACK UP for a Tatro cover that's simply gorgeous. - SPIRIT IN THE AIR [Sonny Greenwich]: combines the spirituality and adventure of Trane with the linear intensity and approachability of Grant Green. - LIVE AT BOURBON ST. [Lenny Breau]: if Art Tatum at his prettiest and most accomplished knew how to play guitar, he'd be Lenny. - BRIDGES [John Hart]: intriguing compositions, interesting angular playing, and Chris Potter! - UNSPOKEN [Chris Potter]: see above. - PURE DESMOND [Paul Desmond]: or any other album Desmond recorded with Ed Bickert, yet another Canadian who plays guitar like God.... - SEEKING [New Art Jazz Ensemble]: free, beautiful, breathtaking technique. The equal of classic Ornette. - URBAN BUSHMEN [Art Ensemble of Chicago]: the AEC run the gamut of musical sound and human feeling, in dazzling audio fidelity. - PLAYS J. WYZUTY [Paul Pacanowski & R.S.P. Jazz Quartet]: Pacanowski lives in my region and released this CD himself—great sound, excellent musicians, and his mentor Wyzuty's compositions are uncommon and haunting. And one of them ["I Love Your Smile"] is a certifiable classic on a par with "Funny Valentine." - LET'S EAT HOME [Dave Frishberg]: Frishberg's combination of vulnerability, humanity, romanticism, and worldly-wise wit are unique. He also writes a mean tune and plays a mean 88. - V.S.O.P., THE QUINTET: Miles' classic mid-60s quintet, with Freddie Hubbard subbing for Miles, playing live in the late 70s. They didn't get older, they got better. A peak for all involved. - REDISCOVERIES [Art Pepper]: quartet and quintet dates from the early 50s, with some of Art's best compositions. He burns throughout. - TIME WARP COLLECTION: 15-year retrospective of Toronto quartet Time Warp, as eclectic and rooted as Mingus. - GETTING PERSONAL [Nelson Symonds]: Montreal guitarist waited nearly 40 years to lead a date. An injustice, but possibly worth the wait. - LYLE MAYS: first solo outing is wide-ranging, daring, and unfailingly beautiful. Sometimes I put the CD on repeat and leave it there all evening.... - SCOTT HAMILTON WITH STRINGS: Scott's tone is perfect here, his solos are meaty, and Alan Broadbent's string arrangements are the best ever heard on a jazz date, intelligent and inventive. (A close second is Robert Farnon's arrangements for J.J. Johnson's TANGENCE, another frequent guest in my stereo.) - AFTER THE RAIN [Terje Rypdal]: between his early free-jazz and later trance-drones, Terje created some breathtakingly exquisite melodies and harmonies, exemplified in this beautiful masterwork. - PLAYING [Old and New Dreams]: Ornette-style music played live with ECM sonic perfection. And the divine rhythm team of Charlie Haden and the late, more-than-great Ed Blackwell. - THE GUITAR MASTERY OF ED BICKERT: like it sez. - BALLADYNA [Tomasz Stanko]: criminally underrated, Ornette-style European freedom. Other Stanko albums also rule. - CERBERUS [Om]: free quartet from Germany, every musician kills!

Date: 19-Dec-1998 03:27:56
From: Reid ( )
I second Scott's recommendation of John Mclaughlin's Extrapolation. The music is really hard to classify, but it swings hard, and the tunes flow nicely together. This is one of my all-time favorites, and I'm not a big Mclaughlin fan.

I also second Bern Nix's Alarms and Excursions. Nix was Ornette's guitarist in the Prime Time band, but don't let the title mislead you. We're not talking distorted guitar here. The album how melodic and grooving "free jazz" can be.

Here are some albums that show how good mainstream jazz can be when it's mixed wiht fusion influences:

Michael Brecker's self-titled for Impulse! Rick Margitza's Hope Steve Masakowski What It Was

Some favorite post-70's fusion:

Wayne Shorter's stuff: Atlantis, Phantom Navigator and High Life. He's still writing great tunes.

Wayne Krantz—Two Drink Minimum. A guitarist who eschews distortion, but combines rock power with story-telling approach to solos

For a more straight-ahead approach: Bobby Watson and Horizon- on bluenote or his live album for Columbia, Midwest Shuffle Andrew Hill—he takes what Monk did, and does his own thing with it

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