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Erskine Hawkins: And His Tuxedo Junction Orchestra

Read "And His Tuxedo Junction Orchestra" reviewed by Graham L. Flanagan

People rarely recognize the state of Alabama as the birthplace of some of the most important American celebrities of all time such as Truman Capote, Willie Mays and Joe Louis. Since it remains unclear as to whether the great Lionel Hampton was born in Alabama or Kentucky, the title of reigning Alabama jazz champion belongs to trumpeter/composer Erskine Hawkins, who died 15 years ago in November, 1993. Hawkins began his career in Montgomery as a member (and ...

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Benny Goodman: 40th Anniversary Concert (Live at Carnegie Hall)

Read "40th Anniversary Concert (Live at Carnegie Hall)" reviewed by Graham L. Flanagan

One autumn day in 1978, a sprightly 69-year-old Benny Goodman decided on a whim that he wanted to 'book' Carnegie Hall for a gig commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the landmark performance held and so famously-recorded there for the Columbia label in 1938. That show registered as the first official full-length jazz program ever held at the hallowed venue. Tickets for the anniversary gig sold out in a matter of hours, with no advertising or even a formal announcement. Goodman's ...

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Ray Russell Quartet: Turn Circle

Read "Turn Circle" reviewed by Roger Farbey

Vocalion has done it again, with a long overdue reissue of Ray Russell's first album Turn Circle (originally released in on the CBS Realm series), and superbly remastered by Michael J. Dutton. Russell is probably the most heinously undervalued jazz guitarist in the world, which is ironic because he is undoubtedly one of the best. His style is his own, sounding like no other guitarist.This album, recorded in 1968, is quite beautiful and the rather quaint cover art ...

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Harry Beckett: Warm Smiles / Themes For Fega.

Read "Warm Smiles / Themes For Fega." reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

Although Europe has produced many an accomplished and innovative jazz musician, a great number of ultra-talented ones remain in obscurity. Vocalion puts the spotlight on one such forgotten genius, British trumpeter Harry Beckett. The double CD combines the latter two of his three sessions for RCA; which were not only his debut recordings as a leader but also remain the most critically acclaimed of all his work. Each CD is, in fact, a straight reissue of each album: 1971's Warm ...

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John Surman: How Many Clouds Can You See?

Read "How Many Clouds Can You See?" reviewed by John Kelman

While woodwind multi-instrumentalist John Surman's eponymous debut was a strange mixture of everything from free improvisation to calypso, his second date, 1970's How Many Clouds Can You See?, is a much more focused affair. Surman clearly references one of his roots, John Coltrane, albeit on an instrument that the legendary saxophonist never played.

Surman plays bass clarinet and soprano saxophone, but the baritone has always been his main axe. Here he uses it to put a personal spin on music ...

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Maynard Ferguson: MF Horn 2 / The Ballad Style

Read "MF Horn 2 / The Ballad Style" reviewed by Jack Bowers

The two albums on this CD reissue from Vocalion were recorded during trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's “English period (1968-72). It was a time when Ferguson was trying a number of new things, some of which worked, and some of which didn't. The first eight tracks are from MF Horn 2, the others from The Ballad Style of Maynard Ferguson.

As one can readily hear on MF Horn, Ferguson had turned away from more traditional jazz and popular standards and toward such ...

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Pete Cater Big Band: The Right Time

Read "The Right Time" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Pete Cater is arguably Great Britain's foremost big-band drummer, and The Right Time is yet another album--this would be the third, and second on Vocalion--of swinging, straight-ahead jazz by Cater and his ebullient ensemble from across the pond. As for the title, it should go without saying that any time is the right time to kick back and enjoy a pleasurable hour of top-of-the-line music by one of the UK's most proficient bands.

Cater's unequivocal approach, modeled after the standard ...

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John Surman / John Warren: Tales of the Algonquin

Read "Tales of the Algonquin" reviewed by Marc Medwin

Much was in the air in early-'70s British music, where various configurations explored the fringes of tradition while maintaining allegiance to fixed forms. Tales of the Algonquin exemplifies the times perfectly. One complaint: the audio is only passable. (But if this transfer was taken from an LP, the stunted sound is understandable.)In any case, John Warren's music more than compensates for any sonic flaws. “With Terry's Help slides and swells in, regal but anticipatory, soon kicking into a ...

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Amancio D'Silva: Konkan Dance

Read "Konkan Dance" reviewed by Chris May

After decades of neglect, the work of Goan-born guitarist Amancio D'Silva (1936-96) edged back towards the mic last summer with the re-release of his 1969 cross-cultural masterpiece, Integration. A pioneering blend of Indian raga, hard bop and early electric Miles, plus fainter traces of ska, rembetika, Link Wray, Ennio Morricone and more, Integration featured the recently arrived in London guitarist alongside some of Britain's most inventive jazz musicians, including saxophonist Don Rendell and trumpeter Ian Carr, as did his other ...

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Michael Garrick Sextet with Norma Winstone: The Heart is a Lotus

Read "The Heart is a Lotus" reviewed by John Kelman

With a resurgence of interest in what many call the “Golden Years of British jazz--the mid-'60s through early '70s--labels like Vocalion are helping to fill in the blanks on the period when a specifically British sound began asserting itself, in contrast to the America-centric music of prior decades. While the music of emergent artists like saxophonist John Surman and trumpeter Ian Carr exhibits clear stylistic precedents from across the pond, there's also something indefinably British there, too--perhaps a hint of ...

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John Surman/John Warren: Tales of the Algonquin

Read "Tales of the Algonquin" reviewed by John Kelman

As in most European countries, jazz in Britain prior to the '60s was largely a copycat of its American counterparts. But with the emergence of artists like trumpeters Harry Beckett and Kenny Wheeler, bassists Graham Collier and Harry Miller, and saxophonists Stan Sulzmann and Alan Skidmore, a very specific yet remarkably diverse complexion began to emerge. From his emergence in the mid-'60s to 1971, baritone/soprano saxophonist John Surman appeared on nearly forty recordings, including some that would ultimately ...

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Les Paul: Now!

Read "Now!" reviewed by AAJ Staff

By Jennifer Odell

If you're craving new Les Paul tunes, the fourth generation release, Now! , is not where you'll find them. Not because it's not a great album--it is. Classical artist Michael J. Dutton's remastering allows you to hear more delicate elements of the different guitars' various tones and textures. But this album was originally conceived as a compilation for Les Paul. And now the compilation has been released three times without changing much. Most of the ...