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MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Introducing Johnny Griffin – Blue Note 1533

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In jazz and rock--heck, even in classical music--there is a sacred throne for those who play fast. Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson occupy such thrones. So do Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen. Fast is fun. Johnny Griffin played fast--very fast. The evidence is here in Griffin's very first album, Introducing Johnny Griffin. It's a 1956 date with a quartet that includes Wynton Kelly on piano, Curly Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums. For 70 years, Griffin was a jazz giant, and this album, his first as a leader, is among his very best. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ezra Weiss Sextet: Before You Know It [Live In Portland]

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Recorded over two nights in Portland's Ivories Jazz Lounge during late-2013, Before You Know It [Live In Portland] is pianist and composer Ezra Weiss' seventh album and his first live recording. Weiss' previous releases have featured big bands (Our Path To This Moment [Roark Records, 2012]) and trios (The Shirley Horn Suite [Roark Records, 2011]). However, it's the sextet format that has featured most strongly on Weiss' recordings and it's this line-up that returns for Before You Know It [Live In Portland]. The set starts on a high with “Winter Machine" and the band keeps the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gato Libre: DuDu

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Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura's quartet Gato Libre has always recorded stimulating, progressive music heavily laced with a Spanish lyricism. DuDu is no exception. “Mouse" is the prime example of this. On it the musicians push far the harmonic boundaries of their respective instruments creating delightfully jarring cacophony intertwined with intensely melodic explorations.Despite the personnel change after bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu's untimely death, the group remains remarkable cohesive. The new recruit, trombonist Yasuko Kaneko brings a warm fluidity to the bottom register that enhances the overall dramatic ambience. “Gato" for instance opens with Kaneko's intriguing, growling poetic solo. Guitarist Kazuhiko Tsumura ...

INTERVIEWS

Tony Miceli: Vibes Matter

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Tony Miceli is a long-time master vibraphonist who, until a few short years ago, was relatively unknown outside of the jny: Philadelphia area, when he started getting requests to perform and teach all over the world. Now, he is in demand in Ireland, South Korea, Argentina, and Australia, not to mention New York and the West Coast, and the list of places is growing every day. Miceli deserves the newfound renown. He is widely regarded by the cognoscenti, including vibraphonists Gary Burton and David Friedman, as one of the ascending masters of the instrument. His work with groups like Monkadelphia ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Lark and his Alumni Big Band: Sweet Return

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Trumpeter/educator and big band leader Bob Lark, reunites his Alumni Big Band after their critically acclaimed debut Reunion (Jazzed Media 2012), produced some of the best Jazz orchestrations in the business. Sweet Return is the group's encore performance, their return engagement, their audacious follow up and another masterful stroke by leader Lark. This Alumni band is comprised of eighteen players that the trumpeter has directed throughout his nearly thirty years as a band leader and draws on their talents for the fresh new arrangements and original compositions that make this return so sweet. The music starts swinging right ...

CATCHING UP WITH

Some Thoughts from the worlds greatest out of work Bebop clarinet player

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As many of you know, I've discontinued my column here at All About Jazz called “the Mort Report." See my final one (number 22), aptly named “My Final Mort Report." Clever, what? My reports were mostly autobiographical, as I kind of put myself on automatic pilot and opened the storage lockers of my brain to let the good times and the bad times roll. In retrospect, they sure as hell did. I read some awhile back, as I was kicking testosterone shots cold turkey and would burst into tears at a cricket fart. Reliving some of the shit I used ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Horace Silver: Six Pieces of Silver – Blue Note 1539

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Yep, this is the “Senor Blues" album. That's not the name, obviously, but it could be. This outstanding hard bop CD, recorded by Horace Silver's quintet in 1956, has 10 tracks, and three of them are “Senor Blues." No wonder. It's arguably the best track in the collection--a Spanish-tinged slow blues toe-tapper. Even so, three versions may be one too many. First, there's the album version. It's a 7-minute original by Silver himself. It's a groovy piece with a catchy hook, featuring nice bluesy solos by Donald Byrd on trumpet, Hank Mobley on tenor sax and ...



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