The guitar has always been on the back burners of jazz instruments; for every player who cites Wes Montgomery or Jim Hall as an influence, there are probably a hundred who list Miles, Coltrane, or Monk as their primary source of inspiration. However, there are many guitarists out there who are making exciting music that not only features awesome chops but also a willingness to take risks and push boundaries; certainly two features of which jazz can never get enough.
Ulf Wakenius comes roaring in from Sweden with an excellent live disk recorded in his native country. Wakenius, who has spent time gigging with the Oscar Peterson Quartet, displays a seemingly endless supply of interesting licks, especially in the fast tunes (a couple of which are real finger-busters). Special mention goes to Magnus Gran, who chugs along like Elvin Jones's kid brother. However, what really sets this CD apart from the rest are the lovely solo pieces which bookend the album. Although dedicated to Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall, they are more of a middle ground between the stylings of Johnny Smith and Joe Pass. Beautiful stuff.
Jim Mullen certainly breaks new ground by adopting traditional Scottish ballads written by Robert Burns to a jazz quartet setting. On his CD Burns (get it?) Mullen proves that these songs by Scotland's national poet are standards as worthy of jazz treatment as anything written by the poets Tin Pan Alley. However, unlike 'Greensleeves', another frequently arranged folk tune, most listeners will not recognize any of these tunes (a pity 'Auld Lang Syne' wasn't included for a jazzbo New Year's party). Although the concept ultimately proves more intriguing than the CD itself, Mullen's laid-back melodies and lyrical sensibility combined with tasteful accompaniment result in an album worth hearing. Ulf Wakenius Quartet 'Live'
Track Listing: The Gretest of Them All, Notes to J.C., Skylark, Lotus Blossom/Reflections in D, Bernie?s Tune, In A Sentimental Mood. Jim Mullens ?Burns?
Count the Lawin?, Banks and Braes, Bonnie Wee Thing, Comin? Through the Rye, Willie Gray, The Lea Rig, Sweet Afton, For the Sake O? Somebody, Lassie Lie Near Me, A Man?s a Man, Red, Red Rose.
Personnel: (get it?) Mullen proves that these songs by Scotland?s national poet are standards as worthy of jazz treatment as anything written by the poets Tin Pan Alley. However, unlike ?Greensleeves?, another frequently arranged folk tune, most listeners will not recognize any of these tunes (a pity ?Auld Lang Syne? wasn?t included for a jazzbo New Year?s party). Although the concept ultimately proves more intriguing than the CD itself, Mullen?s laid-back melodies and lyrical sensibility combined with tasteful accompaniment result in an album worth hearing. Ulf Wakenius Quartet ?Live? Ulf Wakenius, guitar; Ake Johansson, piano; Yasuhito Mori, bass; Magnus Gran, drums.
Jim Mullen, guitar; Gareth Williams, piano; Mick Hutton, bass; Gary Husband, drums.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.