Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Record Store Day, Wes Montgomery, Miles from India, Cassandra Wilson

This Sunday Music Muse Day follows the annual Record Store Day celebration.  I did my bit by picking up this 10" vinyl LP, Wes Montgomery and the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet.  Of course, I love the music, a 1955 session produced by Quincy Jones.  The retro cover art is a big plus.

I also picked up two CDs with the common tread of Miles Davis music.  First is Miles from India - A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis. It's 2 CD set that is a collaboration between foremost Indian musicians and former Miles Davis band members, including Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Pete Cosey, Mike Stern, and even John McLaughlin on one cut, he wrote specifically for the recording.  It's interesting to hear this cross-cultural project and marvel it how Miles's strong influence show through.

The next Miles influenced pick is Cassandra Wilson Traveling Miles.  It's a 1999 CD of Miles Davis-inspired songs with words and music by the talented jazz songstress. I'm not big on vocal normally, but I like earthy quality of Cassandra Wilson's voice.   Although she is labeled as a jazz singer her past albums has her interpretations of Rock and Folk  tunes.  This is a nice tribute to Miles. On a side note:  this seems to be a pre-release promo CD. The interior-cover is full of publicity info.  A small look behind the curtain of the music business. 

Plus, I found a different cover for the final release, and it included a photo of Wilson recreating classic Miles cover.

It seems spring has finally arrived with the first sunny day in weeks. It made record hunting a pleasure. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Music Muse day - Johnny Smith, George Van Eps, Ralph Towner, Thelonious Monk.

This week's Sunday Music Muse Day, again finds us suffering cold, icy, weather in the what is supposed to be Spring.  Although our region seems to have been spared the ice storm predicted, it's still cold, grey and dreary.  The way to brighten the day is with some good music.  I started the morning with The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside, a 2 CD collection of Monk tracks from his albums on the those classic record labels.  I admit to coming late to Monk's catalog of music.  For me his name always conjures up visions of adventurous, and thoughtful music. The 18 page booklet contains tons of info, and reproductions of album covers.

As I settled into midday, I enjoy this CD of two legendary guitarists, Johnny Smith / George Van Eps Legends: Solo Guitar Performances.  This mellow and gentle CD glows with quiet fire and musical integrity.  Johnny Smith had a hit with Stan Getz in 1952 with "Moonlight in Vermont". His session on this CD was recorded in 1976.  George Van Eps lengthy career credits includes playing with Benny Goodman, and Frank Sinatra.  He is well known for his developing and using the 7-string guitar, which extended the low range. (I had trouble stringing a 6-string guitar, so playing 7-strings in out of the question for me). This is perfect background music for a winter day (in Spring) or a quiet gathering of friends.  Try it.

My last selection is Ralph Towner City of Eyes, which finds the adventurous guitarist displaying his multi-instrumental talent beyond his usual classical guitar with 12 string guitar, piano (actually his first instrument) and Synthesizer.  The group also includes Paul McCandless a band mate from Oregon, on Oboe and English horn.  A online review states "In essence, City of Eyes shows Ralph Towner as a musical explorer again, a composer and instrumentalist who can persuasively create aural travelogues through time, space, and terrain." I would agree and intend to enjoy the journey."

Eventually, spring will arrive, until then we have to use music to bring sunshine into our days. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette. Al DiMeola

Welcome to another springtime Sunday Music Muse Day, although snow on the ground and cold weather (here in north western New York state) might confuse you. Today's two selections have has a common connection of personal and emotional issues for both artist. First, is a new release of a1998 live recording by pianist Keith Jarrett, After the Fall, with Gary Peacock on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. This 2 CD set's title refers to Keith Jarrett’s “fall” into a bout of chronic fatigue syndrome in autumn (or fall) 1996.  The illness kept him from playing publicly for two years. This concert, recorded in Newark, New Jersey, near his home, was his first post-recovery attempt to play before an audience. In many ways a personal triumph for him.  I admit I'm not a giant fan of Keith Jarrett, but this is a joy to listen to, even without knowing the context.

Al DiMeola Opus, his latest release, also, finds the fusion-famed guitarist stating, "for the first time in my life, I have written music being happy.  I'm in a wonderful relationship with my wife. I have a baby girl and a beautiful family that inspires me every day.  I believe it shows in the music."  I have no details to fully understand what he's referring to. as being unhappy.  He adds in this music he sees himself furthering his compositional skills to become a "composer/guitarist" rather "guitarist/composer".  I'm more than happy to give this repeated listenings to figure the different.

Both these musician show that there has to be a attachment to the full experiences of life, the good, and the bad,  Those experiences help shape the music, whether the audience is ever aware of it.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Larry Young, John McLaughlin, Bill Frisell, and Gary Burton Quartet

Here's my Sunday Music Muse Day post on Easter Sunday/April Fool's Day.  I thought I'd be writing about the John Abercrombie Tribute Concert I had planned to attend last Monday in NYC, but that didn't happen (a tale share with friend elsewhere).  But during the New York trip was able to pick up my first two picks.  Larry Young in Paris: The ORTF Recording is the excellent 2 discs Resonance Records release of the late organist concerts in 1964-65.  This CD set is getting 5 star reviews for critics, and well worth every star.  This set is a much ore straight ahead jazz than my first exposure to Larry from the original Tony Williams Lifetime, Tony's high energy fusion group (with John McLaughlin on guitar) he formed  after leaving Miles Davis.  Only much lately did I realized he had stellar position the jazz world.  This is great set with Resonance's wonderful packaging including a 66 page booklet of info.

By next pick is slight embarrassment, as I actually already own a copy. John McLaughlin Trio Live at the Royal Festival Hall November 27, 1989.  The title sounded familiar, but the packaging was totally different, so I took a chance.  Only after opening the cardboard case and seeing the insert, that is the same as the other copy's CD cover, did I realize my error. Still great music from a favorite guitarist of mine.

Yesterday, I visiteda local Vinyl Record fair and found a Japanese CD release of The Gary Burton Quartet Duster album. Duster is often considered to be one of the first jazz fusion albums, with guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Steve Swallow, drummer Roy Haynes, leader Burton on vibraphones, recording in 1967.  Even 51 years later the music still sounds fresh.

Rounding out my weekend CD shopping I was happy to find Bill Frisell Music IS, his latest release.  Bill played at the Abercrombie Tribute I missed, so I think of this as a consolation prize for missing him there.  If you're a guitar gearhead you'll have to check the efx boxes Frisell uses in this solo outing. It's really impressive, as is the music.

So, Happy Easter to all, hope your April Fool's Day was a pleasant one.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day - Bill Evans & Jim Hall, Benny Green & Russell Malone

Welcome to another Sunday Music Muse Day.  This week's theme is jazz piano-guitar duos. First up is a classic date by two jazz legends on their respective instruments, Bill Evans & Jim Hall Undercurrent, recorded in 1962.  Undercurrent was followed up with a second duet album, Intermodulation in 1966.  A quote from a editorial review notes: "Duet albums were rare in 1962 and encounters of this quality are still rare. Bill Evans and Jim Hall, two modern jazz giants, were in peak creative form at the time, Evans leading his own trio and Hall working with Sonny Rollins's quartet at the time."  One listen is all it takes to totally agree. Of the added alternate takes on the CD, I actually prefer the alternate of My Happy Valentine to the one on the original LP release.

The second duet is Benny Green & Russell Malone Birdbird record in 2004, that makes it a 52 year difference from the Evans/Hall date, the beauty of jazz is the continuity of the tradition.  Their set is not as introspective as the Evans/Hall duet, as a Jazztimes review noted, "Pianist Benny Green and guitarist Russell Malone are contemporary jazz musicians in the best sense of the term; great musicians whose repertoire includes blues, soul, pop, bop, Afro-Latin and even hip-hop." So, this CD is a much more lively affair, and a good contrast to this Evan/Hall duet.

Both selections are good to enjoy on this cold, almost spring afternoon.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Music Muse Day Bruno Raberg, Bill Frisell

This Sunday Music Music Day finds us with more daylight to enjoy good tunes, because the start of Daylight Saving Time.  Of course, we'll all hate it Monday morning getting up for work.  In the meantime here's Bruno Raberg Lifelines, and 2 disc set from an internationally renowned Swedish bass player and composer. I was attracted to CD cover art, and only knew of the guitarist Ben Monder. All About Jazz gives it a 4/5 star rating saying, "Eight of the tracks are improvisations with Poor, Cheek and Monder, equally divided on the two CDs that Raberg calls the "Blue Disk" and the "Red Disk." The improvisations are a study of the understanding between the four. The ideas flow from one to the other, are developed with a compact logic that never strays from sensibility." One of the few non-original tracks is a version of Miles Davis' Nardis which really caught my ear. I'm glad I picked this up. Also, if I ever do the Jazz radio show I might call it Jazz Lifelines, I could a radio concept around that.

My next pick is almost a reflexive buy.  I have to pick up anything by BillFrisell. This one,The Best of Bill Frisell Vol. 1 Folk Songs contain songs from a couple of CDs I don't have.  I like to recommend his music Modern Americana, I know I'm not the only one who heard strains of Arron Copeland in Bill compositions and playing.  As this a was a used CD it's missing actual slipcase cover, but I found it online.

 Nice to hear some good tunes in the extra sunlight, hoping spring is really just around corner. Enjoy.