Rigmor Gustafsson & Radio String Quartet Vienna – Calling You (2010)

FrontCover1At first sight this collaboration between two of ACT’s established artists seems an unlikely alliance.
Swedish singer Gustafsson has released a series of albums for the label, all the titles ending with the word “You” so in effect I guess this is her record. Gustafsson is an assured and soulful singer schooled in jazz but with an innate feel for the rhythms of popular song ( her album “Close To You” is a celebration of the music of Dionne Warwick). She is also a more than useful songwriter and wrote the bulk of the material on her 2007 release “Alone With You.”

radio.string.quartet.vienna won great critical acclaim when they first burst onto the scene in 2007 with their album “Celebrating The Mahavishnu Orchestra”. Their ingenious arrangements of the music of John McLaughlin proved remarkably successful both artistically and commercially and in 2008 the group released their second album “Radiotree”, a collaboration with Austrian accordionist and bandoneon player Klaus Paier. This time the focus was largely on original material composed either by Paier or by members of the quartet.

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On “Calling You” the material is a mix of inspired covers from both the jazz and pop songbooks plus a smattering of original material from both Gustafsson and members of the quartet. The quartet’s line up remains unchanged with Johannes Dickbauer and leader Bernie Mallinger on violins, Cynthia Liao on viola and the extraordinary Asja Valcic on cello. RSQV break pretty much all the rules for a string quartet, playing pizzicato almost as much as arco and generating an incredible rhythmic drive, much of this due to Valcic in the proverbial engine room. The level of technical skill displayed by the players is astonishing and their arrangements, shared between Mallinger and Dickbauer, are always adventurous and colourful. No wonder the press release states that the group have “totally redefined the string quartet genre”. What is amazing is the ease with which the quartet dovetail with the voice of Gustafsson to produce something unique. It all sounds perfectly natural and what might have been a musical disaster area is, in fact, a huge success.

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The ensemble commence with a wistful,slowed down version of Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years”. The quartet complement Gustafsson’s voice superbly and shine in a spectral instrumental middle passage. The imaginative arrangement and Gustafsson’s delivery bring out the pathos in Simon’s lyrics. It’s a stunning version of the song.

RSQV know how to have fun as well as how to emote. The jazz standard “Makin’ Whoopee”, a tune Gustafsson has covered previously, gets the playful treatment complete with buzzing strings and scat vocals.

Gustafsson’s own “Goodbye For Now” could be a jazz standard and features the singer at her most flirtatious. There’s even the sound of whistling (Gustafsson presumably) over the sound of massed pizzicato strings.

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It’s back to the serious approach for Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”. Gustafsson’s yearning vocal brings out the sense of loneliness expressed in the lyrics.
The brooding string arrangement complements her perfectly and in it’s way this is just as radical an interpretation of the tune as that of the White Stripes.

By way of contrast Valcic’s “Fancy Nancy” is a joyous romp with Gustafsson camping it up above furiously sawing strings. It’s a bit throwaway but great fun.

The ensemble like to mix moods and styles and no two tunes follow the same pattern. Their version of Stevie Wonder’s “If It’s Magic” is achingly beautiful, Gustafsson’s pure vocal augmented by an unusually “straight” string arrangement. Immediately afterwards Richard Bona and John Legend’s “Please Don’t Stop” marks a return to the playful, flirtatious approach complete with finger snaps.

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Gustafsson’s album notes state that the group merely picked songs that meant a lot to them regardless of genre and classification. However they do seem to have a particular affinity for the works of Bacharach and David. A remarkable reworking of “Close To You” imbues the song with an ethereal sense of wonder, it’s fragile and vaguely Bjork-ish in spirit if not in delivery.

Johannes Dickbauer’s writing contribution is the haunting “Wherever We Go” beautifully delivered by Gustafsson above Dickbauer’s own arrangement.

Joni Mitchell’s “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines” with music by Charles Mingus is an altogether more challenging piece of work. Gustafsson’s virtuoso vocal performance and Mallinger’s grainy, sometimes dissonant arrangement are hugely effective on the album’s most extreme piece of work.

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Bob Telson’s much covered title track from the 1987 movie “Bagdad Cafe” also works supremely well. Gustafsson’s singing and Mallinger’s arrangement conjure up the emptiness of the desert highways referenced in the song’s lyrics. I’m not familiar with the other covers by the likes of Celine Dion and George Michael but I’d imagine they pale in comparison to this.

“Nothing’s Better Than Love” is Gustafsson’s second writing credit. She deploys semi spoken hipster vocals and the playing by the quartet is typically sparky but it’s not one of the record’s most memorable cuts.

Given that the bulk of the songs covered on the album are the work of Americans Gustafsson redresses the balance with the closing item, a beautiful rendition of the traditional Swedish folk tune “Ack Varmland Du Skona”. Gustafsson sings in her native tongue, it’s a nice touch from a vocalist who has made herself so much at home in the American idiom.

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When RSQV took their Mahavishnu project on the road they won fulsome praise for the quality of their live performances. Together with Gustafsson they are currently touring the music of “Calling You” around Europe and it’s likely that further plaudits will be forthcoming. Listening to the album it’s apparent that this combination of voice and instruments should make for a hugely impressive live show.

The album itself is a highly impressive piece of work and as I’ve intimated it should work very well live. Whether it’s the kind of album that will remain a regular favourite after the initial sense of admiration/novelty has worn off I’m not yet certain but there’s no doubt that the singing and playing is of the highest order. (by Ian Mann)

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Personnel:
Rigmor Gustafsson (vocals)
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Radio String Quartet Vienna:
Johannes Dickbauer (violin)
Cynthia Liao (cello)
Bernie Mallinger (violin)

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Tracklist:
01. Still Crazy After All These Years (Simon) 4.31
02. Makin’ Whoopee (Kahn/Donaldson) 3.54
03. Goodbye For Now (Gustafsson) 3.16
04. I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself (David/Bacharach) 3.57
05. Fancy Nancy (Valcic) 2.29
06. If It’s Magic (Wonder) 4.03
07. Please Don’t Stop (Legend/Bona) 4.03
08. Close To You (David/Bacharach) 4.16
09. Whenever We Go (Dickbauer) 5.24
10. The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines (Mitchell/Mingus) 4.42
11. Calling You (Telson) 5.04
12. Nothing’s Better Than Love (Gustafsson) 3.28
13. Ack Värmland Du Sköna (Tradional) 5.41
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14. Calling You (Telson) 5.18

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Walter Wanderley – Sucessos Dançantes Em Ritmo De Romance (1961)

FrontCover1.jpgWalter Wanderley (born Walter Jose Wanderley Mendonça, 12 May 1932 – 4 September 1986) was a Brazilian organist and pianist, best known for his lounge and bossa nova music and for his instrumental version of the song Summer Samba which became a worldwide hit.

Wanderley was born in Recife, Brazil. Already famous in his native country by the late 1950s, he became an internationally renowned star in the mid-1960s through his collaboration with the singer Astrud Gilberto.

He recorded six albums on the Verve label between 1966 and 1968. Three of those albums, Rain Forest, Cheganca and Astrud Gilberto’s A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness, were with a trio consisting of Wanderley, Claudio Slon (drums) and Jose Marino (bass) and were produced in the United States by Creed Taylor, who initially brought the trio to the U.S. to record at the persuasion of Tony Bennett. Wanderley’s U.S. recording of Summer Samba reached No. 26 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1966.[2] Another album recorded during that period was Popcorn, in collaboration with the Brazilian singer-guitarist Luiz Henrique Rosa. Around that same period Wanderley also established the Carnival with Bob Matthews, João Palma, José Soares, and Janis Hansen; all former members of Sérgio Mendes’ Brasil ’66.

WalterWanderley01After the trio disbanded (though they were briefly reunited in 1971 for “The Return of the Original” on Canyon Records), Wanderley himself continued to record albums on Verve, A&M/CTI, and GNP Crescendo. During that time, he also made numerous personal appearances, including a concert tour of Mexico.

Wanderley was known for his distinctive staccato stuttering style and mastery of the Hammond B-3 organ and on later recordings and during live concerts a L Series Hammond. His later career was blighted by alcoholism and he died in relative obscurity of cancer in 1986 in San Francisco, California, aged 54.

He was married to Isaurinha Garcia, one of the most popular singers in Brazil. He is the grandfather of Brazilian actor and singer Rickkie. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a real beutiful album from his early days. What a great organ … but a superb saxophon and uitar, too.

And if you like orga music (like me), than it´s time to discover the one and only Walter Wanderley!

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Personnel:
Walter Wanderley (organ)
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01. E Daí ? (Proibição Inútil e Ilegal) (Gustavo) 2.34
02. O Apito do Samba (Bandeira) 3.22
03. Gimba (Kaszas/Guarnieri) 2.28
04. Io (Migliacci/Modogno) 2.37
05. Baby Rock (Nisa) 2.48
06. Quem É ? (Magalhães/Navarro)
07. Oh! Carol (Howard Greenfield/Neil Sedaka) 2.58
08. Perfume de Gardenia (Hernandez) 3.16
09. Quero Beijar-te as Mãos (de Carvalho/Faisal) 2.18
10. A Noite do Meu Bem (Duran) 2.26
11. Fim de Caso (Duran) 2.43
12. Castigo (Duran) 2.49

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WalterWanderley03Walter Wanderley (12 May 1932 – 4 September 1986)

Duke Ellington – Ellington `66 (1966)

FrontCover1.JPGEllington ’66 is an album by American pianist, composer, and bandleader Duke Ellington that was recorded and released on the Reprise label in 1965.[1] The album won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz .

An even more commercial effort than Ellington ’65, Ellington ’66 is yet another example of how the change in popular music toward an all rock & roll format found jazz musicians attempting crossover material with varying degrees of success. While much of the music here is standard American Popular Song à la “Satin Doll” and “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” other tracks such as the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” are clearly attempts at reaching a younger record-buying audience. While Ellington ’66 isn’t a bad recording and actually bests ’65 for sheer listening pleasure, it is by no means required listening and will most likely appeal to die-hard Ellington completists. (by Matt Collar)

Duke Ellington 1966.jpgEven better than the Ellington ’65 release , this great sounding cd has the Duke and the orchestra in fine form as it hits one home run after another from hits ranging from the Beatles to Tony Bennett. A real highlight is yet another take of “satin doll” which features Duke on piano mixing perfectly with the orchestra, something not heard on previous releases. “Days of wine and roses”, and “The good life” are just awesome, beautiful renditions of standards that just never grow old, and further prove that Duke could make beautiful music from any era and style. This is a highly recommended example of his genius, the only drawback is the brevity of the cd, just over thirty minutes. (Joseph D. Vinarski)

Inlets.jpgThe inlets from the German edition

Personnel:
Cat Anderson (trumpet)
Lawrence Brown (trombone)
Harry Carney (saxophone)
Chuck Connors (bass trombone)
Buster Cooper (trombone)
Duke Ellington (piano)
Paul Gonsalves (saxophone)
Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet, saxophone)
Johnny Hodges (saxophone)
Herb Jones (trumpet)
John Lamb (bass)
Russell Procope (saxophone, clarinet)
Cootie Williams (trumpet)
Sam Woodyard (drums)
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Mercer Ellington (trumpet on 04., 07.,  10. + 11.)
Rolf Ericson (trumpet on 02., 03., 08. + 09.)
Peck Morrison (bass on 02., 03., 08. + 09.)
Ray Nance (trumpet on  01., 04. –07., 10. – 12.)

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Tracklist:
01. Red Roses For A Blue Lady (Tepper/Bennett) 3.38
02. Charade (Mancini/Mercer) 2.37
03. People (Styne/Merrill) 3.21
04. All My Loving (Lennon/McCartney) 3.23
05. A Beautiful Friendship (Kahn/Styne) 2.47
06. I Want To Hold Your Hand (Lennon/McCartney) 2.03
07. Days Of Wine And Roses (Mancini/Mercer) 3.21
08. I Can’t Stop Loving You (Gibson) 3.56
09. The Good Life (Distel/Reardon) 3.13
10. Satin Doll (Ellington/Mercer/Strayhorn) 2.30
11. Moon River (Mancini/Mercer) 2.41
12. Ellington ’66 (Ellington) 2.33

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Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974)

 

Mal Waldron (feat. Steve Lacy) – Live At The Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany (1975)

FrontCover1Malcolm Earl “Mal” Waldron (August 16, 1925 – December 2, 2002) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. He started playing professionally in New York in 1950, after graduating from university. In the following dozen years or so Waldron led his own bands and played for those led by Charles Mingus, Jackie McLean, John Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy, among others. During Waldron’s period as house pianist for Prestige Records in the late 1950s, he appeared on dozens of albums and composed for many of them, including writing his most famous song, “Soul Eyes”, for Coltrane. Waldron was often an accompanist for vocalists, and was Billie Holiday’s regular accompanist from April 1957 until her death in July 1959.

A breakdown caused by a drug overdose in 1963 left Waldron unable to play or remember any music; he regained his skills gradually, while redeveloping his speed of thought. He left the U.S. permanently in the mid-1960s, settled in Europe, and continued touring internationally until his death.

In his 50-year career, Waldron recorded more than 100 albums under his own name and more than 70 for other band leaders. He also wrote for modern ballet, and composed the scores of several feature films. As a pianist,

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Waldron’s roots lay chiefly in the hard bop and post-bop genres of the New York club scene of the 1950s, but with time he gravitated more towards free jazz. He is known for his dissonant chord voicings and distinctive later playing style, which featured repetition of notes and motifs. (by wikipedia)

In 1972 Mal Waldron recorded n album with Steve Lacy, in 1974 recorded together the live album “Hard Talk” and in 1975 they jammed together at the legendary Berlin Jazz Festival.

Here´s a short, but brilliant broadcast recording … thanks to jazzrita for sharing the show at Dime.

Recorded live at the Jazztage. Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany; November 6, 1975
Very good FM broadcast.

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Personnel:
Allen Blairman (drums)
Steve Lacy (saxophone)
Manfred Schoof (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Jimmy Woode (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Intro (in German) 1.07
02. Hard Talk (Maldron) 21.31
03. Russian Melody (Maldron) 8.44

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Jonah Jones + Jack Teagarden – Double Exposue – The Giants Of Dixieland (1962)

FrontCover1Here are two “giants of Dixieland” on a low budget album:

Jonah Jones (born Robert Elliott Jones; December 31, 1909 – April 29, 2000) was a jazz trumpeter who created concise versions of jazz and swing and jazz standards that appealed to a mass audience. In the jazz community, he is known for his work with Stuff Smith. He was sometimes referred to as “King Louis II,” a reference to Louis Armstrong. Jones started playing alto saxophone at the age of 12 in the Booker T. Washington Community Center band in Louisville, Kentucky before quickly transitioning to trumpet, where he excelled.

Jones was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Jones began his career playing on a river boat named Island Queen, which traveled between Kentucky and Ohio. He began in the 1920s playing on Mississippi riverboats and then in 1928 he joined with Horace Henderson. Later he worked with Jimmie Lunceford and had an early collaboration with Stuff Smith in 1932. From 1932 to 1936 he had a successful collaboration with Smith, but in the 1940s JonahJones01he worked in big bands like Benny Carter’s and Fletcher Henderson’s. He would spend most of a decade with Cab Calloway’s band which later became a combo.

Starting in the 1950s, he had his own quartet and began concentrating on a formula which gained him wider appeal for a decade. The quartet consisted of George “River Rider” Rhodes on piano, John “Broken Down” Browne on bass and Harold “Hard Nuts” Austin on drums. The most-mentioned accomplishment of this style is their version of “On The Street Where You Live”, a strong-swinging treatment of the Broadway tune with
a boogie-woogie jump blues feel. This effort succeeded and he began to be known to a wider audience. This led to his quartet performing on An Evening With Fred Astaire in 1958 and an award at the Grammy Awards of 1960, receiving the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. In 1972 he made a return to more “core” jazz work with JonahJones02.jpgEarl Hines on the Chiaroscuro album Back On The Street. Jones enjoyed especial popularity in France, being featured in a jazz festival in the Salle Pleyel.

A 1996 videotaped interview completed by Dan Del Fiorentino was donated to the NAMM Oral History Program Collection in 2010 to preserve his music for future generations.

Jones performed in the orchestra pit under the direction of Alexander Smallens and briefly in an onstage musical sequence of Porgy and Bess, starring Cab Calloway.

He was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1999 and died the following year in New York City.

Jonah Jones married the trumpeter, clarinetist and hornist Elizabeth Bowles (1910–1993), sister of Russell Bowles. They had four children. (by wikipedia)

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And here´s Jack Teagarden:

Weldon Leo “Jack” Teagarden (August 20, 1905 – January 15, 1964) was a jazz trombonist and singer. According to critic Scott Yannow of Allmusic, Teagarden was the preeminent American jazz trombone player before the bebop era of the 1940s and “one of the best jazz singers too”. Teagarden’s early career was as a sideman with the likes of Tommy Dorsey, Paul Whiteman and lifelong friend Louis Armstrong before branching out as a bandleader in 1939 and specializing in New Orleans Jazz-style jazz until his death.

Born in Vernon, Texas, his brothers Charlie and Clois “Cub” and his sister Norma also became professional musicians. His father was an amateur brass band trumpeter and started him on baritone horn; by age seven he had switched to trombone. His first public performances were in movie theaters, where he accompanied his mother, a pianist.

JackTeagarden01Teagarden’s trombone style was largely self-taught, and he developed many unusual alternative positions and novel special effects on the instrument. He is usually considered the most innovative jazz trombone stylist of the pre-bebop era – Pee Wee Russell once called him “the best trombone player in the world”[3] – and did much to expand the role of the instrument beyond the old tailgate style role of the early New Orleans brass bands. Chief among his contributions to the language of jazz trombonists was his ability to interject the blues or merely a “blue feeling” into virtually any piece of music.

By 1920 Teagarden was playing professionally in San Antonio, including with the band of pianist Peck Kelley. In the mid-1920s he started traveling widely around the United States in a quick succession of different bands. In 1927, he went to New York City where he worked with several bands. By 1928 he played for the Ben Pollack band.

Within a year of the commencement of his recording career, he became a regular vocalist, first doing blues material (“Beale Street Blues”, for example), and later doing popular songs. He is often mentioned as one of the best jazz vocalists of the era;[citation needed] his singing style is like his trombone playing, in much the same way that Louis Armstrong sang like he played trumpet. Teagarden’s singing is best remembered for duets with Armstrong and Johnny Mercer.

In the late 1920s he recorded with such bandleaders and sidemen as Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols, Jimmy McPartland, Mezz Mezzrow, Glenn Miller, and Eddie Condon. Miller and Teagarden collaborated to provide lyrics and a verse to Spencer Williams’ Basin Street Blues, which in that amended form became one of the numbers that Teagarden played until the end of his days.

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In the early 1930s Teagarden was based in Chicago, for some time playing with the band of Wingy Manone. He played at the Century of Progress exposition in Chicago.

Teagarden sought financial security during the Great Depression and signed an exclusive contract to play for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra from 1933 through 1938. The contract with Whiteman’s band provided him with financial security but prevented him from playing an active part in the musical advances of the mid-thirties swing era (although Teagarden and Frank Trumbauer recorded a number of small group swing classics throughout his tenure with Whiteman on Brunswick).

Teagarden then started leading his own big band. Glenn Miller wrote the song “I Swung the Election” for him and his band in 1939. In spite of Teagarden’s best efforts, the band was not a commercial success, and he was brought to the brink of bankruptcy.

In 1946 Teagarden joined Louis Armstrong’s All Stars. In late 1951 Teagarden left to again lead his own band, then co-led a band with Earl Hines, then again with a group under his own name with whom he toured Japan in 1958 and 1959.

Teagarden appeared in the movies Birth of the Blues (1941), The Strip (1951), The Glass Wall (1953), and Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1960), the latter a documentary film of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. He recorded for RCA Victor, Columbia, Decca, Capitol, and MGM Records.

Early in 1964 Teagarden cut short a performance in New Orleans because of ill health. He briefly visited a hospital, then was found dead in his room at the Prince Conti Motel in New Orleans on January 15. The cause of death was bronchial pneumonia, which had followed a liver ailment. He was buried in Los Angeles.

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As a jazz artist he won the 1944 Esquire magazine Gold Award, was highly rated in the Metronome polls of 1937-42 and 1945, and was selected for the Playboy magazine All Star Band, 1957-60. Teagarden was the featured performer at the Newport Jazz Festival of 1957.

In 1969, Jack Teagarden was inducted into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1985. Other honors have included induction in the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame in 2005 and inclusion in the Houston Institute for Culture’s Texas Music Hall of Fame.

Jack Teagarden’s compositions include “I’ve Got ‘It'” with David Rose, “Shake Your Hips”, “Big T Jump”, “Swingin’ on the Teagarden Gate”, “Blues After Hours”, “A Jam Session at Victor”, “It’s So Good”, “Pickin’ For Patsy” with Allan Reuss, “Texas Tea Party” with Benny Goodman, “I’m Gonna Stomp Mr. Henry Lee” with Eddie Condon, “Big T Blues”, “Dirty Dog”, “Makin’ Friends” with Jimmy McPartland, “That’s a Serious Thing”, and “‘Jack-Armstrong’ Blues” with Louis Armstrong, recorded on December 7, 1944, with the V-Disc All-Stars and released on V-Disc in March, 1945. (by wikipedia)

Enjoy this trip in the past … but you´ll not only hear this good old Dixie music, but real good Jazz music !

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Tracklist:

Jack Teargarden (recorded 1955):
01. Milenburg Joys (Morton/Rappolo/Mores) 3.20
02. Davenport Blues (Beiderbecke) 3.17
03. One Step (La Rocca) 3.21
04. High Society (Steele/Melrose) 4.21
05. Misery And The Blues (LeVere) 2.44

Jonah Jones Band (recorded 1956):
06. Stars Fell On Alabama (Perkins/Parish) 2.53
07. Wrap The Troubles In Dreams (Moll/Barris/Koehler) 2.05
08. Beale Street Blues (Handy) 3.53
09. Down By The Riverside (Traditional) 2.20
10. The Sheik Of Araby (Wheeler/Smith/Snyder) 3.21

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Stan Getz – Tribute To Zoot Sims (1985)

FrontCover1.jpgOver the last seven years the Chicago Jazz Festival clearly has become the best-programmed, most consistently exciting jazz event in the country – one that attracts Chicagoans of all races, ages and income levels and knits them together into a big swinging family.

What may not be so obvious, though, is what the Fest does for the image of the city of Chicago.

On any given night, a good percentage of the audience consists of visitors from all across the country, most of whom have come here especially for the Fest. And this year there also was a large foreign contingent, including fans from China, Japan, France, Austria, Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Finland. To modify an old saying: Build a better jazz fest and the world will beat a path to your door.

Sunday`s concert, which concluded this year’s Fest, was attended by a crowd estimated at 62,000 – an estimate that, as on most nights, seemed rather conservative by the standards used in previous years. Be that as it may, there could be no quarrel about the quality of most of the music.

Choosing highlights is difficult, but the final tribute of this year’s tribute-rich Fest would have to be one, a salute to the late Zoot Sims that featured four of his distinguished partners, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Jimmy Giuffre and Herbie Steward.

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Of course, this group amounts to half of the sax section that recorded ”Four Brothers” with Woody Herman, plus Giuffre, the piece’s composer-arranger. So a performance of ”Four Brothers” was both obligatory and handsomely done, as was Getz’s famous Herman feature, ”Early Autumn.”

Before that, Getz had been typically dazzling, while Mulligan, the closest friend of Sims on the bill, had made that bond clear in his playing. The only regret was that the all-star lineup left too little space to Giuffre and Steward. (Larry Kart, Chicago Tribune; September 2, 1985)

What a line-up !

Recorded live at the Jazz Festival Chicago, Chicago, IL; August 31, 1985
Very good FM broadcast.

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Personnel:
Kenny Barron (piano)
Al Foster (drums)
Stan Getz (saxophone)
Jimmy Giuffre (saxophone)
George Mraz (bass)
Gerry Mulligan (saxophone)
Herbie Steward – tenor saxophone

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Tracklist:
01. Introduction / Let Me Count The Ways 13:20
02. If You Cared For Me Like I Cared For You Then You Wouldn’t Cared All (Feldmman) 5.13
03. Falling In Love (Rogers) 14.32
04. Blues For Zoot (Mulligan) 6.17
05. Georgia On My Mind (Carmichael) 4.23
06. Satin Doll (Ellington/Strayhorn) 5.03
07. The Red Door (Sims) 6.14
08. Zoot (Giuffre) 5.48
09. Four Brothers (Giuffre) 5.16
10. Early Autumn (Burns) 3.50

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Madeleine Peyroux – The Blue Room (2012)

FrontCover1.jpgWhen Ray Charles’s Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music was released in the summer of 1962, it caused quite a stir. For those of us who already worshipped Ray Charles and were initially exposed to the album through its first single “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” the massive, very white choir that sang the first lines of the song made us cringe. It convinced us that our idol had sold out to the major label mentality. To purists with a tendency toward musical genre profiling, Ray Charles had no business giving credibility to redneck hillbilly music.

This wasn’t the first time Ray Charles had crossed the line in his pursuit of a natural fusion of the music he heard growing up. He dipped into boogie woogie for “The Mess Around.” But when he blended country blues and urbane rhythm & blues with Gospel music in mid-fifties hits like “Hallelujah, I Love Her So” and “I Got A Woman,” he added blasphemy to his list of crimes against humanity. Now he wanted to cross the color line with the music of the deep South. Clearly, he didn’t know his place.

Oh yeah, then there was the general public who came out in droves to make Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music Ray Charles’s most successful album to date rather than his most controversial. After all, genius is half talent and half impeccable instincts and Ray Charles was a genius. By September, he was in the studio cutting Volume 2. And everyone came around. The second single from the album was “You Don’t Know Me,” an eight-year-old song by Canadian country singer Eddy Arnold, who delivered the original version in his unemotive, plaintive style. Ray Charles, on the other hand, elevated it to its status of instant standard with a raw, poignant, heart-breaking reading.

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What we all eventually realized in hindsight was that this album, like no other Ray Charles recording before it, represented an artistic freedom that most recording artists over the past fifty years have routinely enjoyed. Nobody wanted Ray Charles to sing country & western songs… except Ray Charles. When he reluctantly left Atlantic Records where his musical artistry and style emerged and took shape, he signed a revolutionary recording contract with ABC-Paramount in 1960 where he retained artistic control of his sessions and ownership of his masters. It was unprecedented and a major blow to the label system that foisted bad songs and mediocre arrangers on singers in search of the almighty hit. In the process, he used his artistry and genius to break down musical categories and barriers and legitimize cross-pollinating, genre-bending music.

A year later, the ‘60s (the era, not the decade) began in earnest with the assassination of Medgar Evers and Governor George Wallace’s attempt to block the entrance of two black students at the University of Alabama in June, the Civil Rights March On Washington in August, the church bombing in Birmingham which killed four children in September and the assassination of President Kennedy in November. A succession of assassinations, protests, abuses of authority and riots defined the next seven years as race, war and class divided a country. Bob Dylan articulated our outrage and Ray Charles healed our wounds and fed our souls. Oh yeah, 1963 was also the year that Billboard combined its mono album and stereo album charts. Heavy stuff.

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By the time Larry Klein discovered Modern Sounds, he was 12 and it was 6. Modern Sounds was already a classic and its hits were golden oldies. By that time, the massive white choir didn’t sound so alien; it had just become an ingredient in the final work.

Larry found himself revisiting the album frequently over the next four decades.

In an inspired moment, he thought a re-examination of this album would be an ideal project for Madeleine Peyroux because “she comes from the same places – jazz, country and blues.” His concept was in no way intended to replicate the instrumentation or arrangements or style or sequence of the original album. Trying to beat Ray Charles at his own game is the true definition of “Born To Lose.”

Georgia-born and Brooklyn and Paris-bred with a New Orleans pedigree, Madeleine Peyroux grew up in a household rich in Southern culture and yet vehemently against the ignorance and racism associated with that region. Born in 1974, her childhood home was filled with the sounds of Fats Domino, Fats Waller, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Buddy Holly to name a few. “Ray Charles was a part of that mix and an important one,” she explains, “but I never knew that album per se. I knew many of the songs as part of anthologies alongside tunes like “Georgia On My Mind” and “Hit The Road, Jack.” But Ray Charles had a huge impact on me and even more so when I moved to Paris at age 11 because those American artists were so much more revered there than they were in the United States in the ‘80s.”

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Madeleine is an artist whose sensibility and eclectic musical mix make for magnificent story-telling. And the songs that Ray Charles chose for Modern Sounds are, above all, stories. Wisely, Madeleine felt that the infusion of newer but like-minded material was essential to this project and gems like Warren Zevon’s “Desparadoes Under The Eaves” and Randy Newman’s “Guilty” attest to her impeccable instincts, as does the resurrection of a wonderful and obscure Buddy Holly song “Changing All Those Changes.”

Larry Goldings, Dean Parks, David Piltch and Jay Bellerose form the group that provides the spare, tasteful backing arranged by Larry Klein for each song. Vince Mendoza’s string arrangements on six tracks are beautiful, unpredictable and perfectly appropriate to the tone and mood of each song. If there is a direct musical link to Ray Charles, it’s Goldings’s soulful, in-the-pocket keyboard work with the same kind of perfectly placed notes and use of space that were part of Charles’s signature.

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Larry Klein is a producer who knows his artists well and creates hand-tailored environments that suit them perfectly. When Madeleine takes “Bye Bye Love” slower than usual or “Take These Chains” faster than most, these are not decisions of style, but fundamental choices in her approach to the material. This is an album of music that is letter-perfect but coursing with blood, and it is as comfortable as an old pair of shoes. And like the Ray Charles album to which it pays homage, it reinvents everything it touches. (Michael Cuscuna)

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Personnel:
Jay Bellerose (drums, percussion)
Larry Goldings (keyboards)
Dean Parks (guitar, pedal steel-guitar)
Madeleine Peyroux (vocals, guitar)
David Piltch (bass)
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John “Scrapper” Sneider (trumpet on 04. + 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Take These Chains From My Heart (Rose/Heath) 3.12
02. Bye Bye Love (F.Bryant/B.Bryant) 3.28
03. Changing All Those Changes (Holly) 3.10
04. Born To Lose (Brown) 4.27
05. Guilty (Newman) 3.51
06. Bird On The Wire (Cohen) 5.37
07. I Can’t Stop Loving You (Gibson) 4.18
08. Gentle On My Mind (Hartford) 6.42
09. You Don’t Know Me (Walker/Arnold) 4.01
10. Desperadoes Under The Eaves (Zevon) 4.18

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