September 2003

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The Bandwagon
Jason Moran (Blue Note)
Jason Moran is one of the most compelling figures of modern jazz precisely because he’s so challenging of his listeners and this live cd asks even more than last year’s solo album. Perhaps it’s due to the proximity of the audience, the presence of his redoubtable rhythm section or both, but this precocious pianist goes alternately far afield from his material of choice of hammers home(latterly)his points, with equal emphasis in both approaches. Hearing this cd may leave you breathless.

The Golden Striker
Ron Carter (Blue Note)
The venerable bassist makes albums with the same impeccable qualities he displays in the photo portraits that adorn his cd’s Even though he takes few solos, his charisma is such he invokes a healthy deference from this session’s partners, guitarist Russell Malone and pianist Mulgrew Miller. Yet the three of them interact with such a ballet-like grace and delicacy throughout the disc, you will find yourself laughing out loud with delight.

Made by Maceo
Maceo Parker (What Are Records)
What sounds unconvincing in the hands of others is perfectly infectious when parlayed by Parker, precisely because, as part of James Brown’s band, Maceo helped set the ground rules by which such old school funk and r&b works. The vocals on the disc do sound intrusive on occasion, but if so, maybe you’re thinking too much about the music, rather than responding to it spontaneously, which is the better course to take.

Muddy “Mississippi” Waters Live-Legacy Edition
Muddy Waters (Legacy)
The blues icon’s braggadocio was in robust expression right up til his death and on this deluxe double-cd package Muddy’s band displayed the same quality quite unabashedly itself. Uniting members of Waters’ own band with those of James Cotton’s, as well as Johnny Winter(who shepherded Waters in the studio and on-stage during the period these two shows were captured on tape), this collective offers both Muddy standards such as “Mannish boy” in addition to rare selections like “Corrina” and “Cocaine and Reefer.” The sum effect of the two almost wholly different sets contained here paint a picture of Waters as the seventh son with a heart of gold and a consummate musician to boot

Extended Play—Live at Birdland
Dave Holland Quintet (ECM)
Because this two-disc set is comprised primarily of material previously recorded in the studio by the Holland quintet, you could incorrectly presume it’s redundant. How wrong you’d be! Not only does the band rediscover and reinvent the material itself, they rediscover and reinvent their individual instrumental strengths and their collective virtues as well. Bristling with vigor and imagination, not to mention an almost telepathic means of intra-band communication, this is jazz worthy of recording at the storied venue.

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