Akiko (Tsuruga) – Commencement (2014)

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Akiko Tsuruga is a jazz composer, Hammond B-3 organist and pianist from Osaka, Japan.

She was born in Osaka. Her parents bought her a small organ when she was three and she started learning to play standards. At high school, she listened to Hammond B3 players including Jimmy Smith, then Charles Earland, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff and Dr. Lonnie Smith.

A graduate of the Osaka College of Music, she has resided in New York City since 2001. After moving to the US, she had lessons from Lonnie Smith.

In addition to her solo work, she plays as a sideman in various groups in New York. She has accompanied Lou Donaldson since 2007. (wikipedia)

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You know, it’s been ten years since Akiko Tsuruga have released her brilliant debut recording, and since then this Queen Of The Organ have made absolutely tremendous progress in her magnificent music career that have resulted in many world tours and seven highly acclaimed albums under her belt including this one. Released in 2014 to glowing reviews, Commencement is another time-honoured addition to the great jazz organist’s ever growing prolific music career as it again showcases a masterful performance as she is gracefully joined by ace drummer Hamilton and John Hart on guitar, in which they create a magical and captivating masterpiece.

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By starting off on the opening track Blues For Bandit, the fantastic track set proceed with supercharged skill on ‘new’ original compositions, such as like Funky Girl, Don’t Misunderstood and the title track, as well as another round of direct takes on classic standards like The Bee Gees’ How Deep Is Your Love, Give Me The Simple Life, It’s Easy To Remember and Nat King Cole’s romantic ballad L-O-V-E, which Akiko and the trio performs gracefully with preppy results. So with Commencement, Akiko have again displayed her world class artistry on the Hammond B-3 Organ where she uses her powerhouse B-3 organ stylings to significant effect that results in stellar performing, great taste and an impeccable sense of swing, which gives an extra amount of ears to remind ourselves of just how far this great master of the jazz organ had come and to everything we have come to love about the jazz organ tradition, which makes this a timeless classic. (by RH)

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Personnel:
Jeff Hamilton (drums)
John Hart (guitar)
Akiko Tsuruga (organ)

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Tracklist:
01. Blues For Bandit (Tsuruga) 5.16
02. Funky Girl (Tsuruga) 5.06
03. When Johnny Comes Marching Home (Gilmore) 5.11
04. How Deep is Your Love (B.Gibb/R.Gibb) 5.54
05. Give Me The Simple Life (Bloom) 5.08
06. Spanish Flea (Wechter) 4.38
07. It’s Easy To Remember (Rodgers) 6.12
08. L-O-V-E (Kaempfert) 6.08
09. Don’t Misunderstand (Parks) 6.09
10. Commencement (Tsuruga) 6.47

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Royal Scottish National Orchestra – The Man In Half Moon Street (Great Film Music By Miklos Rozsa (2014)

FrontCover1Miklós Rózsa (18 April 1907 – 27 July 1995) was a Hungarian-American composer trained in Germany (1925–1931) and active in France (1931–1935), the United Kingdom (1935–1940) and the United States (1940–1995), with extensive sojourns in Italy from 1953 onward. Best known for his nearly one hundred film scores, he nevertheless maintained a steadfast allegiance to absolute concert music throughout what he called his “double life”.

Rózsa achieved early success in Europe with his orchestral Theme, Variations, and Finale (Op. 13) of 1933, and became prominent in the film industry from such early scores as The Four Feathers (1939) and The Thief of Bagdad (1940). The latter project brought him to America when production was transferred from wartime Britain, and Rózsa remained in the United States, becoming an American citizen in 1946.

His notable Hollywood career earned him considerable fame, earning 17 Oscar nominations including three successes for Spellbound (1945), A Double Life (1947), and Ben-Hur (1959), while his concert works were championed by such major artists as Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, and János Starker. (wikipedia)

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In the 1970s, Miklós Rózsa recorded three compilation albums of his film music with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Polydor Records, including a mix of his well-known classics with a few slightly more obscure works. Despite being very popular at the time, for some reason the recordings have never made their way onto CD, which is a great shame. This new CD from Intrada is a spiritual successor to that series, featuring music from five of the composer’s scores, including one suite that was specifically prepared for a fourth volume of the series which never materialised.

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Intrada has made several outstanding re-recordings of Rózsa’s music in the past – I love in particular their Ivanhoe and Julius Caesar recordings conducted by Bruce Broughton. This album is performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra – used by Varèse Sarabande for many film music re-recordings in the 1990s and early 2000s – conducted by Allan Wilson. The album opens with a suite from the 1954 romantic adventure Valley of the Kings, which is exotic and exciting and very much a product of film music’s Golden Age. The suite only lasts for five minutes but finds time to move with pace from the dashing main theme through to its romantic conclusion. It’s only a little flavour of the score, but it’s a very fine way to start the album.

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The main event follows next – seven tracks from The Man in Half Moon Street, which take up almost half of the album. The 1945 film is little-remembered today; it is about a man who has prolonged his life – and preserved his youthful appearance – by having a surgeon transplant organs to him from medical students every decade. Unfortunately, with the surgeon now ageing rapidly himself, the man (played by Nils Asther) needs to find another one willing to undertake the procedure for him. Rózsa worked on the film shortly before one of his best-known works, Double Indemnity, and the music is identifiably from that period in his career – tense and atmospheric, at times tortured and always complex, it is a compelling musical portrait of both love and anguish. The swirling main theme is hypnotic; and in stark contrast is the ravishing love theme (I particularly love the solo piano arrangement, played beautifully by Mike Lang). There’s an opulent waltz too but perhaps most impressive of all is the almost overpowering drama of “Transformation”.

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The long-forgotten 1942 jungle adventure Jacaré is represented by its “Prelude”, a colourful theme of pace and passion. Perhaps my favourite music on the album is the fabulous eleven-minute suite from The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, a 1946 film noir starring Barbara Stanwyck, married to but not in love with Kirk Douglas (in his first ever role). The music is vintage Rózsa in every way – bold and dramatic of course and featuring one of his best love themes, a sumptuous melody blessed with a beautiful passage for solo violin, completely stunning. The composer is rightly lauded for his spectacular action/adventure themes and his game-changing dark dramatic scores of the 1940s (of which this is one) but perhaps isn’t given quite the attention he deserves for his exquisite love themes, several of which are quite heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

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The album ends as it began, with a suite from an action/adventure, this time the Humphrey Bogart picture Sahara, a WWII movie set in Libya and released while the war was still raging (in 1943). The flavoursome music, including a kind of patriotic orchestral hymn alongside some pulse-pounding action music, is a thrilling way to round off proceedings. Intrada’s album is a spectacular overview of, mostly, some lesser-known music by one of the greatest of all film composers. Stirring and emotional as well as brilliantly clever, Miklós Rózsa’s music is always so entertaining and works beautifully well in this kind of suites-and-themes form, allowing well-rounded glimpses into five of his scores that are completely musically satisfying in themselves. The performance from the RSNO is very fine, the recording by Phil Rowlands and production by Kevin Kaska to be commended. Frank K. DeWald’s liner notes are authoritative and informative. This is a brilliant album. (James Southall)

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Personnel:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Allan Wilson
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Mike Lang (piano on 05.)

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Tracklist:

Valley Of The Kings (1954):
01. Overture 4.56

The Man In Half Moon Street (1945):
02. Prelude And Ghostly Prologue 3.27
03. Laboratory 4.22
04. Transition I And Body Is Found 2.51
05. Waltz 2.21
06. Love Theme 3.02
07. Transformation 3.17
08. Finale 2.17

Jacaré (1942):
09. Prelude 3.05

The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers (1946):
10. Prelude / Love Part 1 / Love Part 2 10.44

Sahara (1943):
11. Suite 7.21

 

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Miklos Rozsa01Miklós Rózsa (18 April 1907 – 27 July 1995)

The Allman Brothers Band – The Final Show (2014)

FrontCover1The only note of sentiment during the Allman Brothers Band’s October 28th concert at New York’s Beacon Theatre – their last at that venue and anywhere else, at least for the foreseeable future – came after more than four hours of music: three sets and an inevitable encore, “Whipping Post.” The seven members of the group – the surviving trio of founders, singer-organist Gregg Allman and drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe; the long-serving guitar team of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks; and often overlooked veterans Oteil Burbridge on bass and percussionist Marc Quinones – lined up onstage and took a bow: a first at any Allmans-Beacon show I’d ever attended.
Then Gregg, pressed forward by the others, gave a short speech, another first, recalling the day 45 years ago that he first sang with the original Allmans lineup – led by his late brother, guitarist Duane Allman, and including guitarist Dickey Betts and the late bassist Berry Oakley – at a jam session in Jacksonville, Florida. Gregg cited the precise date, March, 26th, 1969, then said, in a low, worn voice, “Never did I have any idea it could come to this.” He gazed gratefully at the crowd, still on its feet, clapping and cheering, at nearly 1:30 a.m. “Now,” Gregg added, “We’re gonna do the first song we ever played.”
The Allmans got back in position and tore into “Trouble No More,” the Muddy Waters rumble from Side One of the group’s 1969 debut album, The Allman Brothers Band. It sounded nothing like goodbye: tight and gnarly, Derek and Haynes riding the triple-drum-kit surf with avenging poise. But it was.

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Until that late acknowledgement of the occasion, the show was most remarkable for what didnt’t happen. There were no special guests – a signature feature of the Alllmans’ Beacon shows over the last decade – and the group did not throw in any of the extended-family covers (the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Dr.John, Derek and the Dominos) that came, often in medleys without warning, during the Allmans’ annual spring runs at the Beacon. The closest they got to the latter: an elegaic swerve, at the end of the first set, through King Curtis’s “Soul Serenade” in “You Don’t Love Me,” quoting a segue I’ve got on an August, 1971 live-radio bootleg; and the chase-scene extension of “Black Hearted Woman” in the second set, when the rhythm section switched accents and Derek and Haynes hit the chattering riff of the Grateful Dead’s “The Other One.”

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Otherwise, the Allmans – who announced their retirement from touring after Derek and Haynes issued a statement earlier this year that they were leaving to concentrate on their own careers – made sure they performed as much of their classic catalog, from the five albums made between that ’69 bow and 1973’s Brothers and Sisters, as could be fit in one night. The end of the road actually began with a poetic rewind of Duane-time flashbacks: An introductory flourish of the guitarist’s last composition, the acoustic “Little Martha” played by Derek and Haynes in electric harmony, quickly broke into “Mountain Jam,” the guitarists citing Donovan’s source melody, “There Is a Mountain,” in languid, treble sighs. It was a literal replication of the closing sequence, on Sides Three and Four, of 1972’s Eat a Peach, the album the Allmans were making when Duane died the previous October. That coupling erupted into another: the one-two punch of the Spencer Davis Group’s “Don’t Want You No More” and Gregg’s eerily prophetic blues “It’s Not My Cross to Bear” at the beginning of The Allman Brothers Band.

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The Allmans’ recurring cycles of ascension, tragedy, crash, recovery and determined performing triumph, in every era, were directly addressed in a first-set reading of “The High Cost of Low Living,” from 2003’s Hittin’ the Note, the only Allmans studio album to feature Derek and Haynes. The third set was a loosely narrative charge through pilgrimage and celebration – “Revival,” “Southbound” and more “Mountain Jam.” The last gently dissolved into the Carter Family hymn “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” sung by Gregg as ragged pleading with Haynes riding shotgun, in decisively sunny harmony. But the finish extended the circle, taking everyone back to psychedelic church with another flash of “Mountain Jam” at “The Other One” velocity.

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The talk in the balcony, before the show and during the breaks, was of Betts, who was fired in 2000: Was there a chance he would come out and play, completing one more circle on the last possible night? He didn’t but was present in the songs – “Blue Sky,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” – and in Derek and Haynes’ ties, through their harmonies and soloing, to the standards of fraternal lock and empathic dialogue set by Duane, with Betts, right out of the gate, in 1969. As he did on other nights in this October run, Derek played Duane’s own gold-top Les Paul – in the first set during Elmore James’ “One Way Out” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.”
But there was a lot of blues-power Dickey cutting through the Duane in both Derek’s raga-panic breaks and Haynes’ modal skids during “Elizabeth Reed” and in that “Whipping Post.” The younger men both played with Betts at different times in the Allmans, then together in the band for nearly fifteen years, five times longer than Betts and Duane did. There was never a suggestion – when Derek joined in 1999 and Haynes came back after Betts’ dismissal – that either player had replaced the elders. The lightning, frenzy and swan dives in “Hot ‘Lanta,” “Statesboro Blues” And “Dreams,” tonight as at every other Beacon show I saw, were acts of acknowledgement and summation, charged with pursuit of the unfinished.

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That work, it seems, will stay undone. During the intermissions, a curious message appeared on the large video screen behind the band: “The road indeed goes on forever. So stay calm, eat a peach and carry on . . .” The individual members of the Allmans will certainly continue to play in some form and combinations. There may even be reunions. As for the guitarists, Derek’s R&B juggernaut with his wife Susan Tedeschi, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, recently played a transcendant Beacon run in September, and Haynes’ group Gov’t Mule will make their traditional holiday stop at that stage on December 30th and 31st. I went to the former; I don’t want to miss the latter.
But it will take more than a peach to get me through next March. It was never spring, I always said, until I saw the Allmans peakin’ at the Beacon. Tonight was a generous, continually thrilling farewell. It will make the leaving that much harder to bear. (Rolling Stone on Facebook, 2014)

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The Allman Brothers Band could have wrapped up their farewell concert with any number of songs. They could have gone with an epic, jammed-out “Whipping Post,” which they did for the second last song at New York’s Beacon Theater on October 28th, 2014. They could have gone with a classic like “Mountain Jam,” “Midnight Rider” or “Melissa,” but they did those earlier in the night during the four hour blowout. Instead, they went with Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More,” from their first side of their 1969 debut LP. An emotional Gregg Allman told the crowd that night it was the first song played at the group’s first rehearsal. “This was at about 3:30 in the afternoon, on March 26th, 1969,” he said. “Never did I have any idea it would come to this.”

It came to this after 45 amazing years that saw more tragedy and heartbreak than just about any group in rock history. They endured the deaths of guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley in separate motorcycle accidents just a few years after the group began, two breakups, a bitter split with founding guitarist Dickey Betts after years of acrimony and numerous health problems for Gregg Allman that threatened their existence time and time again. Throughout it all they kept gigging, helped in no small part by the addition of guitarists Warren Haynes in 1989 and guitarist Derek Trucks (nephew of drummer Butch Trucks) a decade later.

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When the time came to call it quits in 2014 there was no other place to end it than the Beacon Theater. They first played a residency at the Upper West Side theater in 1989 and three years later they turned it into an annual tradition. Fans from around the country descended on New York City every March for a chance to catch the shows, which featured a steady stream of surprise guest stars, amazing covers and unforgettable nights.

Demand for tickets was never higher than the October 28th, 2014 show. Days after it ended, Derek Trucks told Rolling Stone they ended at the right time. “If we’d gone on much longer, we wouldn’t have been able to summon that [last] show,” he said. “Almost any other time there’s a huge send-off, it’s a star-studded thing. This was just the band showing up and playing, the way they always did. There’s something honest and proud, dignified and beautiful about the way it ended.”

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From nearly the minute it ended rumors began spreading that the band was going to reform. “I would never rule anything out,” Haynes told Rolling Stone in 2015. “There’s no talk of that, but you know, I think the door’s always open.” That door began closing in January when Butch Trucks committed suicide, and it permanently closed on May 27th when Gregg Allman died after a long battle with liver cancer. Thankfully, the group had the opportunity to meticulously plan their final show and go out on an incredibly high note. (by Rolling Stone, May 30, 2017)

And the last song of this fanstastic show, was the first song, The Allman Brothers Band ever played  back in summer of 69 in Jacksonville, Forida.

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Personnel:
Gregg Allman (keyboards, vocals, guitar)
Oteil Burbridge (bass, vocals)
Warren Haynes (guitar, slide guitar)
Jaimoe (drums, percussion)
Marc Quinones (percussion, vocals)
Butch Trucks (drums, percussion)
Derek Trucks (guitar, slide guitar)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Little Martha (D.Allman) 0.51
02. Mountain Jam (Leitch/D.Allman/Betts/Oakley/Johansen/Trucks/G.Allman) 4.01
03. Don’t Want You No More (Davis/Hardin) 2.35
04. It’s Not My Cross To Bear (G.Allman) 5.04
05. One Way Out (Sehorn/James) 6.25
06. Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl (Williamson) 10.54
07. Midnight Rider (G.Allman) 3.35
08. The High Cost Of Low Living (Allman/Haynes/Anders/Burgin) 8.39
09. Hot ‘Lanta (D.Allman/Betts/Oakley/Johansen/Trucks/G.Allman) 5.38
10. Blue Sky (Betts) 9.55
11. You Don’t Love Me (Cobbs) 13.30

CD 2:
01. Statesboro Blues (McTell) 4.52
02. Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More (G.Allman) 7.43
03. Black Hearted Woman (G.Allman) 13.08
04. The Sky Is Crying (James) 9.10
05. Dreams (G.Allman) 11.41
06. Don’t Keep Me Wondering (G.Allman) 4.16
07. Stage banter 1 0.18
08. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (Betts) 15.28
09. JaMaBuBu (Trucks/Jaimoe) 10.27
10. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (Betts) 2.34

CD 3:
01. Melissa (G.Allman) 5.39
02. Revival (Betts) 4.18
03. Stage banter 2 0.13
04. Southbound (Betts) 5.20
05. Mountain Jam (Leitch/D.Allman/Betts/Oakley/Johansen/Trucks/G.Allman) 8.06
06. Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Gabriel/Habershon) 10.51
07. Mountain Jam (reprise) (Leitch/D.Allman/Betts/Oakley/Johansen/Trucks/G.Allman) 3.07
08. Crowd noise 1 4.10
09. Whipping Post (G.Allman) 14.30
10. Crowd noise 2 1.48
11. Farewell
12. Trouble No More (Morganfield/Estes) 4.29

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Blind Boys Of Alabama & Taj Mahal – Talkin’ Christmas! (2014)

FrontCover1.jpgAlthough this wonderful Christmas set is billed as a joint project between Taj Mahal and the Blind Boys of Alabama, and Taj does play guitar, banjo, ukulele, and harmonica here and sings on a couple of tracks (“What Can I Do?” and “There’s a Reason We Call It Christmas”), it’s really a Blind Boys holiday album, which is hardly a bad thing. It isn’t a blend of blues and gospel, either, as some of the promotional material suggests. It’s a seasonally bright and sincere mix of gospel and lightly swinging R&B, which is exactly what the Blind Boys have been doing so well for so many years. Four of the tracks are originals, and they fit nicely with covers of traditional Christmas songs and hymns like the opener “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” speeded up and done with a graceful dash of funk, and the lovely, delicate and halting acoustic version of “Silent Night.” The original “Who Will Remember?,” a gentle gospel waltz, is another highlight. All of it is delivered in signature Blind Boys style, making this one of the season’s nicest releases. (Steve Leggett)

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Personnel:

vocals:
Ben Moore – Jimmy Carter – Paul Beasley – Joey Williams – Ben Moore – Ricke McKinnie
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Michael Jerome (drums, percussion)
Jonny Lam (lap steel-guitar)
Taj Mahal (guitar, banjo, vocals, harmonica, ukulele)
Mark Nishita (keyboards)

Ben Odom (bass, vocals)
Joey Williams (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Do You Hear What I Hear? (Shayne/Regney) 2.50
02. Christ Was Born On Christmas Morn (Traditional) 3.28
03. What Can I Do? (Goldsmith/Moore/Carter/Beasley/Williams/Moore/McKinnie/Bell) 3.09
04. Talkin’ Christmas (Goldsmith/Moore/Carter/Beasley/Williams/Moore/McKinnie) 3.38
05. Merry Christmas To You (Davis/Bass) 3.55
06. Silent Night (Gruber/Mohr) 2.44
07. There’s A Reason We Call It Christmas (Goldsmith/Moore/Carter/Beasley/ Williams/Moore/McKinnie/Bell) 3.18
08. The Sun Is Rising (Goldsmith/Moore/Carter/Beasley/Williams/Moore/McKinnie) 3.53
09. No Room In The Inn (Jeter) 3.17
10. Jesus Was Born (Goldsmith/Moore/Carter/Beasley/Williams/Moore/McKinnie) 3.01
11. Who Will Remember? (McBride/Bell) 4.57
12. Merry Christmas! (Goldsmith/Moore/Carter/Beasley/Williams/Moore/McKinnie) 2.22

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Martin Barre – Order Of Play (2014)

FrontCover1.jpg2014 release from the Jethro Tull guitarist. On ORDER OF PLAY, the band set up just as they were performing a live gig. Every song on the album is a first take. Martin’s guitar playing has earned him a high level of respect and recognition; he was voted 25th best solo ever in the USA and 20th best solo ever in the UK for his playing on Jethro Tull’s ‘Aqualung’. His playing on the album Crest of a Knave earned him a Grammy award in 1988. As well as numerous Jethro Tull albums, Martin has worked with many other artists including Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa and Chris Thompson and has shared a stage with such legends as Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. As Jethro Tull are taking a long break from touring, Martin has put together a band to play the classic music from the Tull catalog. His band is a total commitment to give the Tull fans and a broader audience the chance to hear tracks not performed for many years. (Amazon Editorial Review)

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..but he certainly is a hero of the guitar. Never one to seek the spotlight, Martin lets his guitar do the talking, and he can say more with one note, put more emotion into it than any other guitarist I’ve heard. Separated from Jethro Tull after more than 40 years, he is now back to playing the music he loves: that blues-drenched rock that defined the early Tull sound before synths and squeezy things squeezed him to the back of the stage. So here on this live in the studio recording Martin is back with a vengeance, playing a “dirty, nasty, low-down blues” take of A New Day Yesterday, a rocking Song for Jeffrey, and even Fatman from Stand Up, and To Cry You a Song and Teacher from Benefit. We’re also treated to a nice slice of Thick as a Brick, and an excellent version of Robert Johnson’s Crossroads on the mandolin.
I can’t help missing the flute here and there, but Richard Beesley’s sax fills in nicely, without ever dominating. Dan Crisp too sounds out of place at first, as Ian’s voice is inseparable from these songs, but after a few plays you come to realize his Crisp’s voice too is well suited to the music.

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While it can be rightly said that Ian Anderson is the creative force behind Jethro Tull, and his quirkiness, humor and eccentricity have kept the music adventuresome and unpredictable, Martin was the engine that powered the band, a guitarist extraordinaire, a true virtuoso who can shred with the best but favors tone and control over speed. It is wonderful to hear him playing the music he loves, and if, like me, you love it too, you will thoroughly enjoy this set.
There are a lot of high profile guitar heroes out there, but Martin Barre is a name few recognize. Give this album a listen and you will wonder why. (by Matthew Bush)

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Personnel:
Martin Barre (guitar, mandolin)
Richard Beesley (saxophone, clarinet)
Alan Bray (bass)
Dan Crisp (vocals, guitar)
George Lindsay (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. A New Day Yesterday (Anderson) 5.15
02. Fatman (Anderson) 3.20
03. Watch Your Step (Parker) 4.16
04. Crossroads (Johnson) 3.46
05. Minstrel In The Gallery (Anderson) 4.36
06. To Cry You A Song (Anderson) 4.49
07. Steal Your Heart Away (Parker) 4.20
08. Thick As A Brick ( Excerpt) (Anderson) 8.50
09. Sweet Dream (Anderson) 3.40
10. Song For Jeffrey (Anderson) 3.29
11. Rock Me Baby (Traditional) 4.43
12. Teacher (Anderson) 4.42
13 Still Loving You Tonight (Anderson) 4.59
14. Locomotive Breath (Anderson) 5.19

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More from Martin Barre:

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Billy Hart Quartet – One Is The Other (2014)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Billy Hart Quartet’s One Is the Other follows All Our Reasons, its noted debut for ECM, by less than two years. In one sense, this set shows the group’s growth (they’ve been together since 2005), and picks up where AOR left off, but more importantly, it reveals the more disciplined and inquisitive dimension of its collective persona, even as it revisits some tunes from its members’ pasts. Opener “Lennie’s Groove,” by saxophonist Mark Turner, was recorded much earlier in Turner’s career. Due to its complex harmonic and rhythmic components, it has subsequently become a workout classic for other jazz musicians. Pianist Ethan Iverson attacks the knotty lyric as if simultaneously playing all the dubbed parts of an unreleased tune from Lennie Tristano’s Descent Into the Maelstrom. As Turner enters, he twins these lines before moving toward Iverson contrapuntally. Ben Street’s bassline reveals the bridge between the bop and post-bop in the exercise while Hart shifts gears in tandem, accenting the ever-shifting meter. On Iverson’s “Maraschino,” the blues are the entryway into collective improvisation that remains commonly focused. Hart’s brushes not only accent and color the front line’s flourishes, but offer a map back to the center. The drummer’s “Amethyst” was the title piece of one of his earlier albums but is revisioned somewhat here. Its original melody — which retains its lyric beauty — is made more blocky here, Turner first, then Iverson, find its dark undercurrent. Hart rolls and breaks around their dialogue.

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Street engages as an interlocutor and interpreter, while Hart allows the three to dictate his fluid, articulate movements as the tune opens. Turner’s “Sonnet for Stevie” may be written for Stevie Wonder, but it’s fueled more by restraint, color, and texture than funk or R&B. Street’s opening bassline and the clipped rolls by Hart introduce a bluesy head, with Iverson extrapolating on them. He finds a lithe lyric inside and begins to slowly bring it out. Group statements remain brief on each chorus until Iverson’s solo finds the seam, and his upper register chord voicings become bell-like. Turner sticks close to the blues, while Hart breaks on them in a painterly fashion. One Is the Other is the sound of an experienced and deeply intuitive quartet speaking in a colorful and precise language comprised of numerous dialects and approaches to musical speech. (Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Billy Hart (drums)
Ethan Iverson (piano)
Ben Street (bass)
Mark Turner (saxophone)

Booklet.jpgTracklist:
01. Lennie Groove (Turner) 6.51
02. Maraschino (Iverson) 5.52
03. Teule’s Redemption (Hart) 7.21
04. Amethyst (Hart) 8.06
05. Yard (Hart) 5.08
06. Sonnet For Stevie (Turner) 8.43
07. Some Enchanted Evening (Rogers/Hammerstein) 5.20
08. Big Trees (Iverson) 4.15

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Gillian Welch and David Rawlings – Nobody Sings Dylan Like Gill ‘n’ Dave (2019)

FrontCover1.jpgIf you saw Gillian Welch and David Rawlings on the Oscars this year, you know they’re amazing. You may not know they are also amazing interpreters of a certain Nobel Prize-winning singer-songwriter. They were featured often on my 40-volume Dylan cover collection “Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan,” but when I heard that the Dave Rawlings Machine had covered “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” at a San Francisco concert last year – opening the show with the first half of the song, and closing it with the second half – I decided it was time to give them their own NSD collection. A year later, here it is.

As always, thanks to the tapers – they are the true heroes of the ROIO world – and to Gill and Dave for daring to test their mettle on these incomparable songs. As you might remember, in the summer of 2015 Gill ‘n’ Dave did a 50th anniversary tribute at the Newport Folk Festival to the historic show at which Dylan first plugged in. Surprisingly, it has never turned up on any of the download sites I frequent, though there is a barely listenable/watchable version on YouTube. If you have a better version to offer, please do; if you don’t want to bother with the nuts and bolts of uploading, let me know and I’ll do it for you.

A few of these songs are featured on other NSD sets, but these are different versions. Finally, please allow me to dedicate this collection to my friend and fellow Dylan fan Erik, who first introduced me to Gill ‘n’ Dave’s music in 1996 by giving me a copy of “Revival” and telling me I’d love it. I did, and I still do. (jeffs98119 at dime)

Various dates and venues. Mix of audience and soundboard recordings
between 1996 and 2018

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Dave Rawlings & Gillian Welch (Oscar 2019)

Personnel:
Dave Rawlings Machine (on 01., 03., 05., 07., 11. + 13.)
The Esquires (on 02. + 09.)
Gillian Welch & David Rawlings (on 04., 06., 08., 10. + 12.)

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Tracklist:
01. Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts (1) (Mar 1, 2018, Fillmore, San Francisco, CA) 7.36
02. Gotta Serve Somebody (Sep 27, 1999, Radio Cafe, Nashville, TN) 7.31
03. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (Oct 4, 2007, Tangier Restaurant, Los Angeles, CA) 5.00
04. I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine (Aug 21, 1996, Acoustic Coffee House, Nederland, CO) 3.42
05. As I Went Out One Morning (Sep 24, 2014, Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA) 5.32
06. Billy (Nov 18, 1998, Off Broadway, St. Louis, MO) 6.13
07. Oh, Sister (Mar 8, 2018, McDonald Theater, Eugene, OR) 5.10
08. Goin’ to Acapulco (Oct 13, 2004, McDonald Theatre, Eugene, OR) 5.53
09. Quinn The Eskimo (Sep 27, 1999, Radio Cafe, Nashville, TN) 3.29
10. Odds And Ends (Aug 2004, WXPN Studios/World Café session, Philadelphia, PA) 2.58
11. Queen Jane Approximately (Jun 20, 2014, Town Park, Telluride, CO) 10.28
12. Mr Tambourine Man (Oct 3, 2015, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA) 6.07
13. Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts 2 (Mar 1, 2018, Fillmore, San Francisco, CA) 5.05

All songs written by Bob Dylan

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