John Doll - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://www.jazzreview.com Mon, 22 May 2017 12:14:44 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb The Four of Us by The Mort Weiss Quartet http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/the-four-of-us-by-the-mort-weiss-quartet.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/the-four-of-us-by-the-mort-weiss-quartet.html When Mort Weiss turned thirty in 1965, he tired of the music business which had been part of his life for ten years. In a turnabout career move, he began work in a music…

When Mort Weiss turned thirty in 1965, he tired of the music business which had been part of his life for ten years. In a turnabout career move, he began work in a music store, then managing a chain of stores before eventually opening his own premier print music store. After nearly forty years, he has reconsidered this move. Though he never gave up his beloved clarinet, Weiss began to perform in public and record. The Four of Us is his third release since his clarinet reawakening. This album features a series of well-known standards.

Weiss sounds remarkably like Paul Desmond so inevitably most of the initial tracks on the The Four of Us have that airy aloofness of 50s cool jazz. This changes dramatically when the band tackles "Over the Rainbow." This is played as spare as a prairie horizon that measures up to some of the great renditions. By rendering it spare, soft and slow, Weiss and guitarist, Ron Eschete, bring out the innate loneliness and silent desperation. On the next cut, the band takes on Sonny Rollins’calypso-inflected "St. Thomas." It’s a nice cover and the band is given time to stretch and swing, but it remains restrained while others tinker deliriously at the edge. Gershwin’s "Embraceable You" is naturally gorgeous and this is not an exception. Oscar Pettifog’s "Blues in the Closet" is a beautiful way to end this set.

The Four of Us benefits from the warmth of being a live recording at Steamers Jazz Club and Café in the Los Angeles area. The overall effect is restrained but not stiff, reflective but not cold.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Tue, 14 Jun 2005 13:00:00 -0500
To Be Again by Curt Hanrahan Septet http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/bebop-hard-bop-cd-reviews/to-be-again-by-curt-hanrahan-septet.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/bebop-hard-bop-cd-reviews/to-be-again-by-curt-hanrahan-septet.html To Be Again represents a sizzling effort by the Curt Hanrahan Septet of the Great Frozen North. The pieces are almost uniformly energetic and up tempo as if try…

To Be Again represents a sizzling effort by the Curt Hanrahan Septet of the Great Frozen North. The pieces are almost uniformly energetic and up tempo as if trying to shake off the Wisconsin chills and bundle themselves in the warmth and glory of jazz music.

To this end, the well known Juan Tizol tune, ‘"Caravan," somehow seems transported from its languorous desert roots to the Midwestern plains of winter. They are no longer slumbering in the heat, but bracing themselves in a midnight fury to find their Bethlehem. It still retains the haunting threads of influences gathered along an ancient trade route, this time the alluvial cultural deposits of the Mississippi and ultimately New Orleans. "Caravan" is the crowning achievement of this album that re-evaluates the context but retains the spirit of the original Ellington recording.

The rest of the pieces do not reach the transcendent quality of "Caravan." However, they are amiable enough, and well articulated. It’s the kind of music you need to hear when the storm is raging outside. It’s already getting dark, the degrees on the thermometer are plunging and you’ve got the wood stove working. You've wrapped in a comforter wondering whether it is worth it to go out, but that means that you’ve got to wrap yourself in additional layers and that takes effort because you’ve got to battle those harsh elements. But then you are resigned to your immediate fate that maybe you’re better off snug and warm listening to music of the Hanrahan Septet. And, by doing so, you realize that you are home.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) BeBop / Hard Bop - CD Reviews Wed, 08 Jun 2005 01:00:00 -0500
Keeping the Big Band Blues Alive by The Calvin Owens Show http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/big-band-swing-cd-reviews/keeping-the-big-band-blues-alive-by-the-calvin-owens-show.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/big-band-swing-cd-reviews/keeping-the-big-band-blues-alive-by-the-calvin-owens-show.html If you like your big band bold and brassy, then consider Calvin Owens’ "Keeping the Big Band Blues Alive." This is a terrific, upbeat, gorgeously performed recording tha…

If you like your big band bold and brassy, then consider Calvin Owens’ "Keeping the Big Band Blues Alive." This is a terrific, upbeat, gorgeously performed recording that will certainly roll away your blues. It’ll force you to wipe your eyes, arise from that well-worn sofa, switch off that damned television, force you stand up and sway to its rhythms. Listen, move and rejoice!

Who cares about the neighbors wondering where that music is coming from. This music is not wallpaper ambient mood music. It should not be played at a timid volume. This music should be played loud with the windows open on that otherwise sultry summer Saturday evening. There is life and soul in its soaring trumpet, its smokey vocals, its snakey guitar, its sensuous saxophones. This album should give you that swift kick in the butt, that nudge into your ribs, that caress of your hair to swing, sway, laugh and live.

‘Hucklebuck’ is the way to begin an album. It makes you want to start slinking and slipping. The blues don’t get any thicker than on ‘Mistreat a Good Man’ with an incredible joyful ending with those women singing to the skies. ‘If the Blues Come Roun’ puts that smile on your face and those cares are thrown out the window. Creole funk ‘H-Town’ gets you on that dance floor and makes you shake. Even ‘Lover Man,’ that sorrowful ode, sounds hopeful. It gets way, way over the top with a drunken ‘Santa Claus.’ ‘This Little Light of Mine’ might be best played at dawn after a long night and may even usher one into that church on Sunday morn.

Calvin Owens and his band really know how to put on a fabulous show.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) Big Band / Swing - CD Reviews Tue, 22 Mar 2005 18:00:00 -0600
Miles to Miles by Miles Jason http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/miles-to-miles-by-miles-jason.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/miles-to-miles-by-miles-jason.html Nearly twenty years ago, Jason Miles collaborated on Miles Davis’ "Tutu" by playing synthesizer. He hasn’t forgotten that experience. He claims that his ne…

Nearly twenty years ago, Jason Miles collaborated on Miles Davis’ "Tutu" by playing synthesizer. He hasn’t forgotten that experience. He claims that his new album, "Miles to Miles," is not a backward-looking, tribute album, but that his music is "real, it’s now, and it’s dangerous."

Indeed, there are similarities between the two albums. In 1986, "Tutu" was a controversial album in Davis’s last music phase that continued his venture into uncertain waters mixing hard bop with overdubbed rock and roll rhythms to give it a hard-driven funk rage. "Miles to Miles," four presidential administrations hence, does essentially the same thing, but this time the synthetic sounds are like frayed polyester threads.

Miles’s new album feels neither controversial nor particularly dangerous. At best, "Tutu" gave you a streetwise sense of strutting down a brokedown New York City. "Miles to Miles" feels like wandering along Disneyfied 42nd Street in your blazing blue bellbottoms amongst the one-armed cell phone robots, while gazing at the billboards screaming ghetto wear.

To be fair, "Tutu" has been considered for critical reassessment. "Miles to Miles" may, to some, reargue that contention of cultural viability. However, to others, overdubbing of jazz should be delegated to the dustbins of musical history.

"Miles to Miles" features luminaries like Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, DJ Logic, Keiko Matsui, Me’shell Ndgeocello, Nichols Payton, Tom Harrell and Cyro Bapista. The individual performances are stellar. And some of the arrangements have promise, especially in the one Miles Davis composition, ‘Flamenco Sketches.’ But, even here, while this is an interesting version, it is absolutely no match for the original on the immortal "Kind of Blue."

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) Contemporary Jazz - CD Reviews Wed, 16 Mar 2005 18:00:00 -0600
Borrowed Time by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/borrowed-time-by-emmanuel-vaughan-lee.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/borrowed-time-by-emmanuel-vaughan-lee.html Another triumph for the Barcelona-based Fresh Sound New Talent label. "Borrowed Time" features Emmanuel Vaughn-Lee on bass, but also explores his writing and arranging f…

Another triumph for the Barcelona-based Fresh Sound New Talent label. "Borrowed Time" features Emmanuel Vaughn-Lee on bass, but also explores his writing and arranging five compositions featured on this recording. Vaughn-Lee’s compositions and the respective band performances are delicate and graceful, but retain an emotional ambiguity, like watching the evening fog roll embracing and enwrapping the Golden Gate Bridge. The music is like a beautiful fog that is slowly dissolving certainty into a shapeless and swirling form. ‘Ginny’s Place’ feels like warm spot in the midst of turbulent uncertainty. It is a rich combination of structure and soul.

‘Maybe So, Maybe No’ is introduced by Albert Sanz on piano. His lovely solo and accompaniment provides a solid foundation for Mark Turner on saxophone. Turner takes off, swirls around before landing conclusively. The overall mood of the recording is based on or epitomized by Duke Ellington’s ‘Low Key Lightly.’ Vaughn-Lee and Turner take turns on this lovely, ambiguous, but wistful gem. Is it sad? Is it profound? It’s a bit of both. With the addition of Albert Sanz’s stunning ‘Esperanza’ and Ferenc Nemeth’s penetrating ‘Vera,’ this fully realized album that is both subtle and mature. It requires several repeat visits to this nether world. Highly recommended.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) Contemporary Jazz - CD Reviews Sat, 12 Feb 2005 18:00:00 -0600
In Your Arms Again by John Hammond http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/blues-cd-reviews/in-your-arms-again-by-john-hammond.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/blues-cd-reviews/in-your-arms-again-by-john-hammond.html Like the name of the record company, listening to this music one can imagine a bluesman playing on the edge of a whiskey-soaked, country back porch during the dusk as the s…
Like the name of the record company, listening to this music one can imagine a bluesman playing on the edge of a whiskey-soaked, country back porch during the dusk as the shadows grow longer until darkness consumes the shack and then the man until only the music remains hovering in the air. It is the fading of an Americana that no longer exists and what remains is nostalgia of how things might have been. The ghost of a musician is John Hammond, a lifelong New Yorker who has played, recorded or crossed paths with John Lee Hooker, Duane Allman and The Band. And like his father, a legendary folk and jazz impresario, who promoted certain musicians as archetypes of an authentic tradition, Hammond promotes his American roots vision by playing mostly other people’s songs as his own. And he plays them convincingly in a time standing still, museum format of an album entitled "In Your Arms Again."

However one interprets the authenticity or nostalgia of these blues, the music is simple, lovingly reconstructed, quite beautiful and passionate. Hammond has a gritty, weary gravelly voice that articulates the intrinsic pain or joy in each song. On ‘Evil,’ Hammond menacingly warns a traveling husband that "another mule is kicking in your stall" so "you better watch your happy home." In ‘It Serves Me Right to Suffer,’ he speaks of his woman coming home just as he goes to work. Ray Charles’ well known gem, ‘I Got a Woman,’ done in an appropriate sprightly manner. His own composed ‘I’ll Be In Your Arms Again’ is a paean to good lovin’, while ‘I’m Leaving’ is a bitter rant about the meanest woman with the "blood-shot eyes" that he’s ever seen. The album closes with ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,’ just as Dylan did on "John Wesley Harding." It’s as if the night as arrived, and a lullaby is needed to mend the day’s work and pain. And then the scene fades to black, and the ghost disappears.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) Blues - CD Reviews Wed, 05 Jan 2005 00:00:00 -0600
The Motive Series by Mark Sherman http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/the-motive-series-by-mark-sherman.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/the-motive-series-by-mark-sherman.html Eight of the ten pieces on Mark Sherman's recent release are part of the Motive series. There is little to decipher as to what is meant by these Motives. And ther…

Eight of the ten pieces on Mark Sherman's recent release are part of the Motive series. There is little to decipher as to what is meant by these Motives. And there does not much variation amongst these Motives. Motive #8 Altered sounds suspiciously a lot like Motive #11 Always Reaching.

The title, Motive #9 Soothing Dream, may be a key. The music, performed by a quartet featuring Mark Sherman on vibraphone, has a relaxed sensibility. The quartet performs ably and ambles around and around, like an amiable conversation outside on the back deck with old reliable friends sitting on Andirondack chairs sipping on iced tea on a breezy, sunny summer afternoon. Nothing heavy. Nothing somber. Just a gathering that is soothing and enjoyable. And, the music, with its reliance on the vibraphone, has a lazy, dream-like feel that lets one drift in and out of consciousness.

So, you drift along with the music, sitting in that chair, wondering whether these friends exist or are a figment of a ripe imagination and you ponder just what happened to Motives #2, #5 and #6? Who offed these Motives. who's next and why?

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Thu, 29 Jul 2004 11:09:36 -0500
Fresh Brew by Gary Farr http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/new-age-cd-reviews/fresh-brew-by-gary-farr.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/new-age-cd-reviews/fresh-brew-by-gary-farr.html "Fresh Brew" sounds more like yesterday’s coffee grounds. This recording features primarily Gary Farr on keyboards and programming. It’s something that he’s tinkered …

"Fresh Brew" sounds more like yesterday’s coffee grounds. This recording features primarily Gary Farr on keyboards and programming. It’s something that he’s tinkered with, presumably at home, for the last few years. He writes: "This was a project which started in 1999 and continued off and on until 2004." And, it sounds that he added various tracks from various musicians at various times. But, the result is very much a home recording with layers of tracks. It does not feel spontaneous, but contrived. He continues: "I found myself letting it go for a few months and picking it up again and again. I revamped several of the original tracks adding hits and licks here and there until I was 100% happy with the finished product."

The music itself is a jazz-rock fusion that is at times bouncy, tepid, and self-important. It is harmless stuff, but hardly rigorous. Most of the music can easily serve as wall-paper. But some pieces like ‘Gary’s World’ are strange hybrids. It sounds like Aliens in Arabia. Is that a flying saucer arriving in the desert and did it make a severe navigational error? Should it have landed instead in a Hollywood back-lot? ‘A Light Spring Rain’ plays as if it is Saturday Night Live parody of "Deep Moments." And ‘New AGEnt’ is exactly that. It is a James Bond riff gone New Age. It conjures up images that I’m trying seriously to repress.

"Fresh Brew" is one weird little album.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) New Age - CD Reviews Wed, 28 Jul 2004 03:09:32 -0500
Eclectic Heart by George Hoar http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/bebop-hard-bop-cd-reviews/eclectic-heart-by-george-hoar.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/bebop-hard-bop-cd-reviews/eclectic-heart-by-george-hoar.html George Hoar’s "Eclectic Heart" is an amiable recording with a long list of contributing musicians such as Dave Liebman and Dave Samuels. And, as the title suggest…

George Hoar’s "Eclectic Heart" is an amiable recording with a long list of contributing musicians such as Dave Liebman and Dave Samuels. And, as the title suggests, it is rather eclectic in spirit. The first few tracks, especially ‘Wild Spirits’ and ‘Third Wave Samba’ have an easy going, tropical-vacation-in-a-resort type of ambiance. It has a relaxed, sun-burnt rhythm and has that sting of tequila which blurs those sharp edges.

‘Cross Bronx,’ as you can imagine, has an altogether sense. It is frenetic, but not frantic. There is almost a jubilant feel of the city buzz. This could be a soundtrack to a warm sweaty summer evening on the streets where people are out wandering or hanging out from their porches and windows. ‘The Bard’s Hornpipe’ is an amalgamation of new city/old world styles which sounds a bit forced and less successful than the other pieces.

You could imagine ‘A Dragonfly’s Waltz’ being played in a downtown recital hall. Though much more formal in structure the than the rest of the album, it retains a playfulness. There are two tributes, one to Bill Evans and the other to Bud Powell. On ‘Evans Remembered,’ Hoar emphasizes Evan’s graciousness and exquisite taste. It is like rich, dark chocolate. Naturally, ‘One for Bud’ has that quick-beat bebop wild phrasing of over fifty years ago. ‘Tongue & Check’ reaches back even further to when jazz was hot and bouncy. The final track, ‘The Parting Glass,’ again is a hybrid fusing contemporary jazz with a seemingly Irish folk tune. The melodic insistence of the flute and whistle give a light-hearted way to conclude this recording.

"Eclectic Heart" is a nicely conceived, well executed album.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) BeBop / Hard Bop - CD Reviews Mon, 26 Jul 2004 15:09:28 -0500
Trees by Midiri Brothers Sextet http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/big-band-swing-cd-reviews/trees-by-midiri-brothers-sextet.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/big-band-swing-cd-reviews/trees-by-midiri-brothers-sextet.html In the last fifteen years, the Midiri Brothers have performed at the Rainbow Room in New York City, the Taj Mahal, Sands, Showboat and Caesars casinos in Atlantic City a…

In the last fifteen years, the Midiri Brothers have performed at the Rainbow Room in New York City, the Taj Mahal, Sands, Showboat and Caesars casinos in Atlantic City as well as other sights and stimulations along the eastern and western seaboards.

The Midiri Brothers music is an appealing stroll down a boardwalk when it was in its heyday. You can almost imagine polka-dotted skirts swaying and bell-bottomed sailors staring. Rolling waves remain the backdrop as swing music dances in the breeze, like the lingering salty air and the decaying scent of seaweed. There is a multitude of sounds but the rhythm of the scene is a sweet lilt to the footstep.

This is a dreamily nostalgic perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in the first half of the 20th century. Kurt Weill’s normally wistful and weary ‘September Song’ has an eerie, placid reading. ‘Oodles of Noodles’ feels like a soundtrack to a silent film of a taxi cab clatter and collision at Broadway and Fifth Avenue. ‘I Hear as in a Dream’ is divided into two parts. The first is a slow and sweet, almost mournful. Bittersweet thoughts. While the second is much more upbeat, it still distantly retains a certain bitterness beneath the smiling façade. ‘Daydream’ is pure Strayhorn; it’s gorgeously romantic that makes one want to snuggle up to someone walking down that boardwalk just as the sun dips below the horizon and the brisk winds start to pick up.

In sum, a well-played series of pieces that conjure up an urban culture that has since been transformed into something that is much harsher and more complicated. Ah progress.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (John Doll) Big Band / Swing - CD Reviews Mon, 26 Jul 2004 03:09:26 -0500