Jon Hassell – Listening To Pictures (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgNow in his ninth decade, trumpeter, composer, and sonic conceptualist Jon Hassell remains a restless musical explorer. While he hasn’t released an album under his own name since 2009’s Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street on ECM, he’s been working to further the Fourth World concept articulated fully on 1980’s Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics and 1981’s Dream Theory in Malaya. Hassell utilized the aesthetics of American minimalism and married them to strands of electric modal jazz, the various global musics he studied, and electronics. He not only employed these on his own records, but in collaborations with everyone from kd lang and 808 State to Ry Cooder, Björk, David Sylvian, and even Tears for Fears.

Listening to Pictures is subtitled “Pentimento, Vol. 1.” The first word in the term refers to an Italian visual art technique that signifies the reappearance of earlier altered and covered-over images inside a primary work. On these eight tracks, Hassell uses his own performance fragments and samples, then overdubs and samples them ad nauseum onto other manipulated sounds and rhythms, ultimately creating new forms. His primary collaborators here are guitarist Rick Cox, drummer John Von Seggern, and electric violinist Hugh Marsh (all of whom also play “electronics”), as well as guests such as sound sculptor/guitarist Eivind Aarset, drummer Ralph Cumbers (aka Bass Clef), and longtime collaborator, violinist Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche. Opener “Dreaming” finds Hassell’s blurry trumpet hovering over a series of barely discernible piano vamps to offer a noirish, yet gentle rounded melody in tones that never develop past their introductory stage, and don’t need to.

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“Picnic” employs a Roland 808, quivering, quaking drum machines, elliptical sonic frequencies, and washed-out keyboards to affect a reverie that exists in the space between light and darkness. “Al Kongo Udu” and “Pastorale Vassant” both move rhythmically from syncopated ambient jungle to broken beat fractures with sampled African drums rubbing up against rickety synthetic ones. “Manga Scene” blends Hassell’s watery, muted modal trumpet to glitchy beats and ominous, dissonant backdrops.

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The robotic-sounding intro to “Her First Rain” is interspersed with post-bop piano, dubwise bass and drums, squiggles, and loops before the set closes with “Ndeya” (also the name of his new label) and weaves together the tenets of an elusive, seductive Fourth World past with “Pentimento” the present; it’s a “now” that Hassell explains as “…letting your inner ears scan up and down the sonic spectrum, asking what kind of ‘shapes’ you’re seeing, then noticing how that picture morphs as the music moves through Time.” In truth, the listener cannot help but remain in the eternal twilight moments Listening to Pictures introduces. It is a music of sense and memory perceptions, a sonic projection equal to but different from the sources that inspired it. When all are assembled, they constitute a deep, mysterious, and occasionally disruptive journey into shade, texture, nuance, and seductive persuasion. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Rick Cox (guitar, synthesizer, electronics)
Jon Hassell (trumpet, keyboards)
Hugh Marsh (violin, electronics)
John von Seggern (bass, drums, electronics)
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Eivind Aarset (guitar, sampler on 08.)
Ralph Cumbers (drum programmin on 02.)
Peter Freeman (bass, electronics on  02., 03. + 07.)
Christoph Harbonnier (basss on 03.)
Christian Jacob (bass on 03.)
Kheir-Eddine M’Kachiche (violin, sampler on 08.)
Michel Redolfi (electronics on 03.)

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Tracklist:

01. Dreaming 6.09
02. Picnic 5.58
03. Slipstream 2.54
04. Al-Kongo Udu 5.12
05. Pastorale Vassant 3.59
06. Manga Scene 5.44
07. Her First Rain 1.38
08. Ndeya 7:07

Music composed by Jon Hassell

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The Magpie Salute – High Water I (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Magpie Salute is an American rock band formed in 2016 by former Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson. The band also includes former Black Crowes members Marc Ford and Sven Pipien as well as Rich Robinson band members Matt Slocum and Joe Magistro.

The name The Magpie Salute comes from a superstition based in the UK… There are many variations, but the version I’m drawn to is the belief that if you see a Magpie, you would do well to salute it ‘to ward off negativity, or to have a good day.’ The way you salute the Magpie, based on some traditions is to say ‘Good Mornin’ Captain.’ The reason we salute is to show we’re unarmed, or what I like to say is ‘we come in peace.’ The Magpie falls within the Crowe umbrella of species, figuratively and literally. Magpies can be black and white which represents the light and the dark. I figured all of these things touch on many aspects of my life and this experience.

Rich Robinson announced the formation of the Magpie Salute in October 2016. In addition to Robinson, the group features former Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford and bassist Sven Pipien, as well as keyboardists Matt Slocum, drummer Joe Magistro, and vocalists Adrien Reju and Katrine Ottosen from Robinson’s solo band.

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This announcement came on the heels of a series of shows Robinson performed earlier in 2016 in Woodstock, New York where he was joined by Ford, Pipien and former Black Crowes keyboard player Eddie Harsch. Harsch was slated to tour as a member of the band until his sudden death in November 2016, and his appearance on their self-titled debut marks his last recording.

They performed their first concerts in January 2017 at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City. They were originally only scheduled to perform three concerts, but added a fourth show due to demand. They performed songs from the Black Crowes as well as Robinson and Ford’s solo careers. The band then played a series of gigs in Europe in June and July 2017 before kicking off a 60 date US tour that included stops in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Morrison, Colorado (Red Rocks Amphitheater) and two nights at the Irving Plaza in New York. All attendees of the November 15 or 16 Irving Plaza shows received a limited edition live album featuring performances from throughout 2017.

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The Magpie Salute released their debut studio album High Water 1 on August 10, 2018. The album debuted at #3 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, and #33 on the Top Album Sales chart. The band kicked off their 2018 tour, on July 1, at The Village at Copper Mountain in Colorado. The album was recorded at Dark Horse Recording Studio just outside of Nashville in Franklin, TN.

On June 15, 2019, it was officially announced via social media that the band’s second studio album High Water II would be released October 11, 2019.

High Water I is the debut studio album by American rock band The Magpie Salute, released August 10, 2018 on Eagle Records. Produced by leader and guitarist Rich Robinson, it served as the follow up to their self-titled live album released one year prior. It debuted at #33 on the Billboard 200. (by wikipedia)

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After the acrimonious split with his brother and Black Crowes band-mates, Rich Robinson has made a point of keeping the spirit of Black Crowes alive. Starting with a series of gigs that included ex-Crowes Marc Ford and Sven Pipien, Robinson has solidified that project into a band called The Magpie Salute, has toured extensively, and has now released the band’s debut album ‘High Water I’. Completing the line-up are John Hogg, Matt Slocum and Joe Magistro.

The comparisons will be inevitable, so let me start by stating the obvious: Black Crowes fans will love much of this album. Robinson has often claimed that his role as co-composer in the Black Crowes was under-played, and it would seem, on a cursory listen to ‘High Water I’ that he may have a point. This notwithstanding, the album variously offers some allied but different gratifications as well.

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Opener “Mary the Gypsy” is an immediate statement that Robinson has no intention of abandoning his significant pop-rock legacy. Riff-based and driving, the song has a nice, loose feel and accesses Robinson’s past in the best possible way. Title track “High Water” is (together with closing track “Open Up”), the best moment on the album. The verse is a stellar exposition of Zeppelin-like melody progression that is hypnotic and entrancing. It develops from a psychedelic acoustic ramble with a droning vocal hum, to a rousing vocal interplay accentuated by just the right amount of emotion.

FrontCoverWithStickerA.jpg“Send Me an Omen” is good old Blues Rock done the right way – heavy, laden with excellent harmonies and an abrasive lead vocal, it even has a couple of progressive time signatures. Think Joe Bonamassa meets Jellyfish. Acoustic pulchritude begins “For the Wind”, but by the first chorus, it has become strident electric blues that would impress even Rich’s estranged brother. Variation and swaggering dynamics fulfill the promise of this song. “Sister Moon” is a piano-based melding of blues and melodic pop delivered with a smoother vocal and delightful harmonies. The song has a great hook and leaves the listener wishing it had not ended so soon.

“Color Blind” is lyrically rich with a strong anti-racist message (if delivered somewhat literally), but offers little that is remarkable in its musical composition. The same may be said of “Walk on Water” which is a Tom Petty/Dylan-esque variation in sound for the band. Similarly, “Hand In Hand” brings the band to country-blues territory without too much fanfare. “You Found Me” unashamedly exposes the band’s country proclivities and is, if nothing else, a well-written country ballad with an excellent lead vocal. “Take It All”, on the other hand, delivers an angular and jarring guitar progression that is reminiscent of Jimmy Page in an aggressive mood. It features a very strong lead vocal performance over a nice, dirty mix. Excellent.

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The band returns to more familiar electric blues-rock on “Can You See”. Heavy and slow, with a melodic progression that harkens back to the Crowes, this is almost-perfect power-blues. An unusual sonic effect in the middle-eight reminds us that this band is far from a clone and that more innovation awaits. The closing track “Open Up” is – as mentioned earlier- a personal favorite of mine. Based on a sinister, slow guitar riff, with surprise pauses and ascendant vocal harmonies, the song is magnificent. The vocals and instrumentation interact to provide a gratification that only the very best in blues-rock can deliver. This song augurs very well for the future of this band. If they do more like it, the future is bright indeed. (by Nick Matzukis)

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Personnel:
Marc Ford (guitar, vocals)
John Hogg (vocals)
Joe Magistro (drums, percussion)
Sven Pipien (bass, vocals)
Rich Robinson (guitars, vocals)
Matt Slocum (keyboards, vocals)
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Byron House (bass)
Dan Wistrom (pedal steel guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Mary The Gypsy (Robinson) 3.08
02. High Water (Hogg/Robinson) 5.45
03. Send Me An Omen (Hogg/Robinson) 3.54
04. For The Wind (Hogg/Robinson) 5.03
05. Sister Moon (Hogg/Ford) 3.47
06. Color Blind (Hogg/Robinson) 3.45
07. Take It All (Hogg/Ford) 3.25
08. Walk On Water (Hogg/Ford) 4.08
09. Hand In Hand (Hogg/Robinson) 3.23
10. You Found Me (Robinson) 4.49
11. Can’t You See (Robinson) 3.11
12. Open Up (Hogg/Robinson) 3.57

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And here are some live pics I shot during their Europe-Tour 2017:

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Maria Muldaur – Don’t You Feel My Leg (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgThis album is a tribute to popular vocalist and songwriter Blue Lu Barker, who made her mark in the late 30s and early 40s, and whom Billie Holiday once cited as her biggest influence. Featuring a stellar band of NOLA musicians including New Orleans A-listers David Torkanowsky on piano (Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, Solomon Burke), Roland Guerin on bass (Allen Toussaint, Steve Earle, Chris Thomas King), and Herlin Riley on drums (Dr. John, Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson), among others, DON’T YOU FEEL MY LEG brings Muldaur full circle from the 1973 album sessions that spawned Muldaur’s million-selling hit, “Midnight At The Oasis,” and which also featured a sassy take of Barker’s “Don’t You Feel My Leg,” a cult favorite that remains Muldaur’s most requested song to this day at her performances.

“Because of my friendship with Blue Lu and Danny, and my longtime association with that song, I was invited to New Orleans in 2016 to put on a concert paying tribute to Blue Lu in New Orleans. I started doing some in-depth research of all their past recordings, and to my surprise and delight I discovered that they had written and recorded dozens of songs equally naughty, bawdy, witty, and clever as ‘Don’t You Feel My Leg’. Besides the wonderfully funny, suggestive lyrics, I was really struck and quite charmed by Blue Lu’s delivery of these tunes… droll, sly, full of sass and attitude, yet understated…a bit girlish and coy. Her cool nonchalance and crisp ladylike diction in contrast to the naughty, risqué lyrics made them smolder with innuendo all the more. These were songs by hipsters, for hipsters,” says Muldaur.

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Muldaur adds, “as we sit here in 2018, you might well ask why a vintage gal like me feels it is important to present these vintage tunes at this point in time. Well for one thing, in an era when so many aspects of sexuality are dealt with and discussed with such deadly seriousness, I find the lighthearted playful expressions of sexuality in these songs a pleasant and welcome respite from the fraught discourse prevailing today…and for another…these are all basically hip, fun happy songs, and I think we could all use a big dose of HAPPY right about now.” (broadwayworld.com)

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Personnel:
Christopher Adkins (guitar)
Roland Guerin (bass)
Maria Muldaur (vocals)
Herlin Riley (drums, vocals)
Piano – Dave Torkanowsky
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Duke Heitger (trumpet on 01., 04., 05., 09. + 12.)
Tom Fischer (saxophone, calinet on 01., 04., 05., 09. + 12.)
Charlie Halloran (trombone on 01., 04., 05., 09. + 12.)
Kevin Louis (trumpet on 02., 03., 05. 08., 10. – 12.)
Roderick Paulin (saxophone, clarinet on 02., 03., 05. –  08, 10. – 12.),
Rick Trolsen (trombone on 02., 03., 05. – 08., 10. – 12.)

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Tracklist:
01. Georgia Grind (Allen/Williams) 4.50
02. Leave My Man Alone (White) 3.43
03. Loan Me Your Husband (Barker) 4.12
04. Scat Skunk (Barker) 3.48
05. Now You’re Down In The Alley (Barker) 3.39
06. Here’s A Little Girl From Jacksonville (Barker) 4.24
07. Nix On Those Lush Heads (Barker/Glen) 3.42
08. Bow Legged Daddy (Barker) 2.55
09. Trombone Man Blues (Black/Barker/Gayle) 3.28
10. A Little Bird Told Me (Brooks) 2.20
11. Handy Andy (Razaf) 4.27
12. Don’t You Feel My Leg (L.Barker/D.Barker/Mayo) 3.59
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13. Never Brag About Your Man (Razaf) 3.47

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Willie Nelson- My Way (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgA Country singer can´t sing Frank Sinatra …no ! But if a Country is Willie Nelson … yes !

My Way is the sixty-eighth solo studio album by Willie Nelson. It was released on September 14, 2018, by Legacy Recordings. The album is a tribute to Frank Sinatra, who was a close friend of Nelson’s. The album received the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, marking Nelson’s 13th career Grammy win.

Nelson first teased the album on April 27, 2018, while promoting his album Last Man Standing in an article published by Variety, saying that the Great American Songbook “is a deep well, because good songs never die. If it was good a hundred years ago, it’s still good today.”

The album was formally announced on July 19, 2018. It is a collection of songs closely associated with Frank Sinatra, whom Nelson first heard at 10 years old when Sinatra joined the radio program Your Hit Parade. Nelson and Sinatra were close friends and mutual admirers of each other’s work. In the 1980s, the pair performed on the same bill at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas and appeared together in a public service announcement for the Space Foundation.

The album’s first single, “Summer Wind”, was released on the same day, along with its accompanying music video.

On August 24, 2018, “I’ll Be Around” was released as the album’s second single, with its music video premiering the same day.

The third single from the album, “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)”, was released on September 10, 2018, along with its music video. (by wikipedia)

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Ever since 1978’s Stardust, standards albums have been part of Willie Nelson’s arsenal, but 2018’s My Way presents a twist on this shopworn tradition: it’s designed as a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Album-long tributes to Sinatra aren’t uncommon — Bob Dylan devoted much of the 2010s to recording a series of tributes to him — but My Way stands apart from the pack by capturing both the rakish charm of the Chairman of the Board and Nelson’s sly elegance. Nelson balances standards from the Great American Songbook (“A Foggy Day,” “Blue Moon,” “Night and Day,” “Young at Heart”) with songs written with Sinatra in mind (“Fly Me to the Moon,” “Summer Wind,” “It Was a Very Good Year,” “My Way”), which brings My Way closer to the essence of Frank Sinatra than Dylan’s stylized saloon records. This is light and breezy, music that suggests the swinging heyday of Sinatra without ever quite sounding like a dusty old Capitol LP, not even the horns are sighing and blaring. Chalk that up to Nelson, who sounds limber if a bit scraggly, both in his voice and on his guitar. There’s a wry, insouciant charm to his performances: he knows how to ratchet up the drama in “It Was Very Good Year,” realizes “My Way” is irresistible hokum, and slides into the calming melody of “Summer Wind.” Unlike Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, Nelson’s limitations aren’t a hindrance, and the arrangements aren’t excessively polite, which means My Way is an appealingly light record: it’s performed with more affection than reverence. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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It’s about the band here, also. That driving, fat bass by David Piltch, who gives these straight-forward arrangements a strong foundation. The sparse, but so distinctive piano phrases by Matt Rollings (Lyle Lovett’s long time band member), who did the arrangements in a delightfully direct, fresh way. The tiny whiny harmonica occoupying the upper range. Some subtle guitars by Dean Parks and the master himself. Precise horns and a topping of strings if needed. All the schmalz is gone here, remains all the the fresh wind and this very unique Willie Nelson way of blowing the dust off these old songs. (Alexander Ziemann)

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Personnel:
Jay Bellerose (drums)
Jeff Coffin (saxophone)
Paul Franklin (pedal steel-guitar)
Barry Green (trombone)
Mike Haynes (trumpet)
Chris McDonald (trombone)
Doug Moffet (saxophone)
Willie Nelson (guitar, vocals)
Dean Parks (guitar)
Steve Patrick (trumpet)
David Piltch (bass)
Mickey Raphael (harmonica)
Matt Rollings (keyboards)
Denis Solee (saxophone)
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Norah Jones (vocals on 09.)
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strings:
Monisa Angell – Janet Darnall – David Davidson – Conni Ellisor – Alicia Enstrom –
Anthony La Marchina – Betsy Lamb -Carole Rabinowitz – Sari Reist – Kristin Wilkinson – Karen Winkelmann

strings arranged by Kristin Wilkinson

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Tracklist:
01. Fly Me To “he Moon (Howard) 2:44
02. Summer Wind (Meier/Mercer) 3:23
03. One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) (Arlen/Mercer) 3:59
04. A Foggy Day (G.Gershwin(I.Gershwin) 2:57
05. It Was A Very Good Year (Drake) 3:56
06. Blue Moon (Rodgers/Hart) 2:37
07. I’ll Be Around (Wilder) 2:59
08. Night And Day (Porter) 2:48
09. What Is This Thing Called Love? (Porter) 2:27
10. Young At Heart (Richards/Leigh) 2:46
11. My Way (Anka/François/Revaux) 4:49

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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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The Brian Auger Piano Trio – Full Circle – Live At Bogie’s (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgConsidering he was a self taught pianist, Brian Auger’s progress into the heart of the British modern jazz scene of the late 1950’s and early 60’s was particularly impressive. He gained invaluable experience the hard way, paying his dues at The Cottage Club, and the original Ronnie Scotts on Gerrard Street, working with renowned saxophonists Tommy Whittle, Dick Morrisey and Jimmy Skidmore – and sessions in smoky East End pubs with his friend, arguably Britain’s greatest jazz saxophonist Tubby Hayes.
The inclusion of several of his rare, early 60’s piano trio tracks on both volumes of ‘Back To The Beginning – The Brian Auger Anthology’ brought long overdue attention to Brian’s early jazz career, which many were simply unaware of prior to their release. The enthusiastic reaction to those tracks that stuck in Brian’s mind, and later, fate intervened, as he himself explains; “A couple of years later, Ken Greene, the Music Director of Bogie’s, called and told me that he was starting a project, to whit, a week at Bogie’s with a different jazz piano trio each night”.
The material Brian decided to play features tracks from a selection of his musical influences, heroes and friends including ‘Chelsea Bridge’ by one of his favourite composers, the great Billy Strayhorn, Freddie Hubbard’s ever green ‘Little Sunflower’, the much loved standard ‘There is No Greater Love’ which Brian used to play in his original early 60’s piano trio, and his own composition Victor’s Delight he wrote a tribute to the great English Jazz musician Victor Feldman who he first discovered via his tenure with The Cannonball Adderley Quintet.
Surprisingly, this is Brian’s very first jazz piano album of his illustrious and award winning career, and marks a return to the instrument and the music that first entranced and enthralled him as a young boy. His musical journey, which began in austere post war London, and on which he absorbed so many varied styles of music, and literally took him around the world, enrapturing audiences worldwide, has indeed come full circle. (Press release)

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This release may be a surprise to some who associate Auger, quite correctly, with the rock music and performing pyrotechnics seated at the Hammond organ. During an illustrious career he has worked with the likes of Rod Stewart, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin and Led Zeppelin. An early claim to fame is that he played on ‘For Your Love’ by The Yardbirds. That was in 1965. A little later he formed Brian Auger and the Trinity. His duet with Julie Driscoll on Bob Dylan’s ‘This Wheel’s on Fire’ reached number 5 on the UK Singles chart in 1965. Their joint album billed as Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity reached number 12 in the UK Albums Chart in the same year.
In 1970 Auger moved into the area of jazz fusion forming Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. Much more has happened in the intervening years, in fact, too much to detail here.

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The “Live At Bogies” EP

So, with a background favouring rock, R&B and soul music, why should he now release a jazz trio album? Well, it’s not so unexpected as one might think. Auger began to hear jazz from an early age by way of the American Armed Forces Network and an older brother’s record collection. By his teens he was playing piano in clubs and by 1962 had formed the Brian Auger Trio with Rick Laird on bass and Phil Kinorra on drums, both of whom were later to join him in the Trinity. In 1964 he won first place in the categories of “New Star” and “Jazz Piano” in a reader’s poll in the Melody Maker music paper. He was even house pianist for a time at the original Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Gerrard Street. So his jazz credentials are clear to see.

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Now the title of this new album becomes clear in that Auger’s career has indeed gone full circle. Auger plays a Steinway Grand Piano throughout with his son, Karma, behind the drums and Dan Lutz on both double bass and electric bass guitar. The set list is pleasantly varied, opening with the old jazz war-horse ‘A Night In Tunisia’, with the familiar opening vamp picked out on bass guitar and the trio soon hit the swinging stride. Next is ‘Creepin’ written by Joe Sample. This is soulful, funky playing from all concerned and there is a particularly nice bass guitar feature too. ‘For Dancers Only’ is a fine lightly swinging piece written by Sy Oliver which originally saw the light of day in 1937 and is here given a contemporary face lift.
The set continues with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Little Sunflower’. Here I’m reminded of the music of Horace Silver, certainly no bad thing. ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ gets a swinging bluesy treatment. Billy Strayhorn’s magnificent composition, ‘Chelsea Bridge’, gets a suitably reverent treatment. Bass guitar ushers in Miles Davis’ ‘All Blues’ – all very soulful.
There are ten tracks on the album, all but one having impressive jazz pedigrees, the only original composition is the pianist’s tribute to fellow keyboard maestro Victor Feldman, ‘Victor’s Delight’.
For me however, they saved the best to last with a version of Don Grolnick’s ‘Pools’. This is set up by the drums of Dan Lutz before the familiar theme is played impeccably by all.
All-in-all this is a fine album which I cannot recommend highly enough. Go out and buy it immediately. (by Alan Musson)

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Personnel:
Brian Auger (piano)
Karma Auger (drums)
Dan Lutz (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. A Night In Tunisia (Gillespie) 5.13
02. Creepin´ (Silver) 5.55
03. For Dancers Only (Raye) 4.19
04. Little Sunflower (Hubbard) 7.15
05. It Ain’t Necessarily So (Gershwin)
06. Chelsea Bridge (Strayhorn) 5.19
07. All Blues (Davis)
08. There Is No Greater Love (Jones) 3.53
09. Victor’s Delight (Auger) 5.33
10. Pools (Grolnick) 6.15

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Gwilym Simcock – Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgGwilym Simcock has carved out a career as one of the most gifted pianists and imaginative composers on the European scene. The Briton moves effortlessly between jazz and classical music, with a ‘harmonic sophistication and subtle dovetailing of musical traditions’. Gwilym has been hailed as a pianist of ‘exceptional’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘dazzling’ ability, and his music has been widely acclaimed as ‘engaging, exciting, often unexpected, melodically enthralling, complex yet hugely accessible’, and above all ‘wonderfully optimistic’.

Gwilym’s influences are wide ranging, from jazz legends including Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Jaco Pastorius, to classical composers including Maurice Ravel, Henri Dutilleux, Béla Bartók and Mark-Anthony Turnage. In 2017, Gwilym toured with Pat Metheny, Linda Oh and Antonio Sanchez promoting Metheny’s Real Book album. Although principally a jazz artist, Gwilym has composed numerous works for larger Classical ensemble that combine through-composed elements with improvisation, creating a sound that is distinctive and very much his own.

Julian Joseph presents Gwilym Simcock’s jazz influenced version of Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite specially arranged for piano, saxophone and string quartet:

Children’s Corner, L. 119, is a 6-movement suite for solo piano by Claude Debussy. It was published by Durand in 1908, and was first performed by Harold Bauer in Paris on 18 December that year. In 1911, an orchestration by André Caplet was premiered and subsequently published. A typical performance of the suite lasts roughly 15 minutes.

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Debussy composed Children’s Corner between 1906 and 1908. He dedicated the suite to his daughter, Claude-Emma (known as “Chou-Chou”), who was born on 30 October 1905 in Paris. She is described as a lively and friendly child who was adored by her father. She was three years old when he dedicated the suite to her in 1908. The dedication reads: “A ma chère petite Chouchou, avec les tendres excuses de son Père pour ce qui va suivre. C. D.” (To my dear little Chouchou, with tender apologies from her father for what follows).

The suite was published by Durand in 1908, and was given its world première in Paris by Harold Bauer on 18 December that year. In 1911, an orchestration of the work by Debussy’s friend André Caplet received its premiere, and was subsequently published. A typical performance of the suite lasts roughly 15 minutes. (by wikipedia)

Another little masterpiece of Gwilym Simcock !

Recorded live at the BBC Studios, Salford, UK;
March 24, 2018. Very good BBC Radio 3 “Jazz Line-Up” broadcast

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Personnel:
Rob Buckland (saxophone)
Francesca Gilbert (viola)
Lucy McKay (violin)
Rachel Shakespeare (cello)
Gwilym Simcock (piano)
Simmy Singh (violin)

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Tracklist:
01. Intro 8.45

Children’s Corner Suite:
02. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum 4.23
03. Jimbo’s Lullaby 5.29
04. Talk 7.25
05. Serenade For The Doll 4.24
06. The Snow is Dancing 5.13
07. Talk 3.02
08. The Little Shepherd/Golliwog’s Cakewalk 13.56
09. Talk 1.19

10. Deux Conversations avec Monsieur Croche Pt 1 5.31
11. Deux Conversations avec Monsieur Croche Pt 2 6.46

Music composed by Claude Debussy & Gwilym Simcock

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