Live Music... Better Late Than Never

C. Michael Bailey By

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This month we are going to devote a bit of electronic ink to some 1970s live rock recordings and some trends that are developing in that arena. One item of discussion will address the recently inaugurated labels by the Allman Brothers Band and Little Feat, each with the goal of releasing aural archival footage from early live shows. A bit of background may be gleaned from the recently completed series, The Ten Best Live Rock Recordings . Save that, we will then turn our attention to some of the new live jazz that has been recently released...

What the hell was I talking about? When I penned these words however many months ago, I intended to flesh this article out and publish it. I recently found it carefully hidden in the electrons and decided to add a bit to it.

The Allman Brothers Band
American University Washington, D.C. 12/13/70
Allman Brother Band Records

It all started with The Grateful Dead. After thirty years on the road, the band started to release on their recorded live shows for public consumption. Now the Allman Brothers Band has added their two cents to the live mix with American University Washington, D.C. 12/13/70. Chronologically speaking, this live performance occurs after The Allman Brothers Band: Fillmore East, February 1970 (Grateful Dead 4063, 1996) and Live At Ludlow Garage, 1970 (Polydor 843260, 1993) and before The Fillmore Concerts (Polydor 517294, 1992). It is an interesting testament of a band on its way to the perfection of The Fillmore Concerts. The usual suspects are here: "Statesboro Blues," "You Don't Love Me," and "Whipping Post." The sound is acceptable and the disc serves as an idea of musical germination in exceptional musicians. Visit the Allman Brothers Band and Hitting The Note .

The Allman Brothers Band
Macon City Auditorium, 2/11/72
Allman Brother Band Records

This release and the one above are numbers two and three in archival Allman Brothers Band releases. As fellow writer Doug Collette has already written a fine article on this recording, I will keep my words brief. This recording was made during the period following the death of Duane Allman before the band expanded to the staff found on Brothers and Sisters. The first thing that struck me was how good a slide guitarist Richard Betts is. "Statesboro Blues" is bearable without the fire Duane Allman brought to the piece. Also, Richard Betts proves to be a better lead guitarist than previously considered. His solos help the listener better understand Betts's role with Duane Allman on the Fillmore Concert discs and for an example, have a listen to 20 minutes of "You Don't Love Me.". Betts's value as a song writer is signed, sealed and delivered with his instrumental "Les Brers in A Minor." I suspect that this recording will become one of the most important in the Allman Canon.

Little Feat
Raw Tomatoes and Ripe Tomatoes
Hot Tomato 001

Ditto Little Feat. These are the first two installments of what is promised to be a long line of live material. Aside from the shotgun presentation, the sonics are good and the live performances with and sans Lowell George are loud and exciting. Spans 30 years of the band's history. Visit the Little Feat and Hot Tomato Records .

Rory Gallagher
Irish Tour
Buddah 7446599650

Remastered and crystalline in all of its beer-sodden glory, formerly Irish Tour, 1974 is back as bright as a new penny. The sound is greatly improved and the only shame about the release is that no additional tracks could be unearthed and included. I suspect that this quibble can be dampened by the fact that The BBC Sessions (Buddha 99649) was released in 1999. From the incendiary "Cradle Rock" to the Dorian "A Million Miles Away" to the relentless "Who's that Coming," Gallagher proved that he was the greatest Irish rocker. Gallagher's "I Wonder Who" is definitive. Visit the Rory Gallagher .

Jimmy Smith
Cool Blues
Blue Note RVG Edition 35587

It is about time this gem was re-released and more than appropriate that it was released as a Rudy Van Gelder edition remaster. Small's Paradise, New York City, April 7, 1958. All selections are lengthy and the band cooks. Add Babs Gonzales's over the top introduction to "An Insane Night At Small's Paradise" and this is an instant classic. The front of Lou Donaldson and Tina Brooks make this a bluesfest. This recording is what the late 1950s Blue Note was all about. Long and well constructed jams reveal dense and pristine musicianship. Visit the Blue Note Records .

Dr. Robert Stewart
The Movement—Live At The World Stage

West Coast Saxophonist Robert Stewart turns in a searing and spirited live performance at the World Stage. This disc also has the distinction of being the late drummer Billy Higgins's final recording. Stewart opens the disc with his own funky "Judgement" from his RED Records release of the same name. He follows this with "Get Out" and an upbeat "Days of Wine and Roses." The disc is concluded with lengthy investigations of Ellington's "Caravan" and John Coltrane's "Impressions." Richard Grant provides trumpet support and can play the blues with the best of them. But, in the end it is Stewart who plays with all of the fire and conviction of the spiritually renewed. Visit the Robert Stewart .

Gerry Mulligan
The Midas Touch—Live in Berlin
Concord Jazz

Midas Touch was recorded about a year before Mulligan's unexpected death. The baritonists/arranger was absolutely no worse the wear. He proves his claim as the greatest jazz baritonist by strolling through nine well-chosen and performed tunes with a crack quartet. Mulligan and company sets the pace and mood with the opening Mulligan blues "Out Back of the Barn." Everyone concerned most particularly Mulligan and pianist Ted Rosenthal provided spirited, if not hotly inspired, solos. Visit Concord Jazz .

Mike Longo Trio
Live—the Detroit International Jazz Festival
CAP records 971

Mike Longo was long the pianist for many of Dizzy Gillespie's later bands. His repertoire at the Detroit International Jazz Festival betrays this. His playing, however, is from a whole other world. Nothing that Mike Longo plays is predictable or expected. He turns "My Funny Valentine" upside down and fools the listener with a backward rhythm on Chano Pozo's "Tin Tin Deo" that reveals the song's covert Latin forces. Nor does he simply stay in the realm of Gillespie. Monk shows up in his exceptional "Rhythm-n-ing" and "'Round Midnight." Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" is further established as a jazz standard.

The Thelonious Monk Quartet 20-Bit 2k Super Coding Remaster
Riverside RCD 1133-2

This recording represents one half of a late summer live performance of the Thelonious Monk Quartet. The remainder of the show is captured on Thelonious in Action (Riverside/OJC OJCCD 103-2). These recordings represent the laying waste of New York City's Five Spot Café in 1958 by Monk, Johnny Griffin, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, and Roy Haynes. All members are in excellent form with Haynes providing perhaps the best percussion support of Monk's career. Johnny Griffin performs Monk's thorny pieces with confidence and sensitivity. This series of performances overlapped John Coltrane's tenure with the band, documented on Discovery! Live at the Five Spot (Blue Note 99786, 1993). Regardless of the tenor chair, Monk is in full swing, performing in that loopy style that would forever be emulated following his death in 1982. Misterioso and Thelonious in Action could conceivable be treated as a "greatest hits" package for including "'Round Midnight," "In Walked Bud," "Misterioso," "Evidence," and that is from Misterioso alone. Fantasy's remastering vastly improves the sound without prohibitively increasing the cost. Visit Fantasy Jazz .

Slide Hampton and the World of Trombones
Spirit of the Horn
MCG Jazz MCGJ 1011-2

A trombone orchestra with a rhythm section that is what The World of Trombones is. But it is really much more than that. It is the incarnation of an idea that trombonist Locksley Wellington "Slide" Hampton had in 1979 to layer the sound of multiple trombones. At that time the result was the well-received World of Trombones (Black Lion BLCD 760113, 1992). Mr. Hampton is back with The World of Trombones performing live at the Manchester Craftsman's Guild. This is the second major trombone release of 2003 (Steve Turre's One4J being the other). Both of these recordings are made ostensibly in reaction to the February 4, 2001 death of J.J. Johnson. Another slide master, Bill Watrous joins the slide master, and jazz are Broadway standards are treated the same. A theater of trombones works better than one thinks and is akin to a theater of cellos. If keen interest are the opener, "Cherokee" and "Walkin'n' Rhythm" sharp take off on Richard Carpenter's "Walkin'." The centerpiece of the disc is the "Tribute Suite" addressing the contributions of Louis Armstrong ("Basin Street Blues"), J.J. Johnson ("Lament"), Lester Young ("Lester Leaps In"), John Coltrane ("Moment's Notice"), and Herbie Hancock ("Dolphin's Dance"). That is a tall order, delivered with grace by the World of Trombones. Visit MCG Jazz .

Bruce Barth
Live At the Village Vanguard
MAXJAZZ Piano Series MXJ 205

Bruce Barth follows up his MAX JAZZ debut East West with this live recording captured at the Village Vanguard. A formidable pianist, Barth devotes a good deal of this release to his own compositions, which are thoughtful, carefully crafted affairs. He and his trio of bassist Ugonna Okegwo and Drummer Al Foster cover "Star Eyes," Monk's little heard "San Francisco Holiday" and his oft heard "Evidence." This disc is a splendid addition to the Village Vanguard Library. Visit MAXJAZZ .

Dave Brubeck Quartet
Park Avenue South
Telarc Jazz CD-83570

This is the second release in the Telarc Live at Starbucks series. The first record was the very well received Ray Brown Trio's Live at Starbucks (Telarc Jazz). In that outing, the group is captured in tightly recorded closeness, giving the listening experience an appealing warmth. The same is true of Park Avenue South. Brubeck chooses a mix of the old and the new, juxtaposing "Sunny Side of the Street" with "Crescent City Stomp." Bobby Militello plays the Paul Desmond part well. "Take Five" sports great drum interplay from Randy Jones. Mr. Brubeck continues to have much to say. Visit Telarc Records .

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