Tuesday Aug 21
 
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Ballads and Blues
Ellington gets personal
Music music04
Sound sound04

This is a very special Duke Ellington CD.

Ellington was a man of many parts. He regularly introduced himself as "the piano player" and he was pleased with his role as "the world's greatest listener." (I have no doubt that many of the "We've had a request to play" announcements were self-referential.) On this CD we get to hear Ellington in both those roles along with Ellington the composer. And it offers an extra treat in the form of Ellington the producer.

Mark Levine: Moacir Santos
Off & On - The Music of Moacir Santos
Music music04
Sound sound04

Pianist Mark Levine's resumé is impressive.  He has major credentials in what's commonly called hard bop (Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, Blue Mitchell, Harold Land), in Latin jazz (Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader, Moacir Santos, Willie Bobo), and jazz education (authoring The Jazz Theory Book and The Jazz Piano book as well as serving on various jazz faculties and clinics).  His most significant current performing work is done with his "and the Latin Tinge" band.

Dexter Gordon:  Making a buck in Chicago
Dexter Gordon Featuring Joe Newman
Music music02
Sound sound04

This is another set of previously unreleased performances by a major jazz artist, in this case seminal bop tenor sax star Dexter Gordon. It's pretty much typical of this sort of production. The music was recorded in performance, not originally intended for release as a permanent example of the artist's work, but for better or worse, here it is on a nearly indestructible CD.

That Latin Jazz Feeling from the Bronx
Catch the Feeling
Music music05
Sound sound04

Latin jazz places special demands on its creators.  A band must sound relaxed while dealing with complex rhythms that require precise, yet energetic, treatment.  And no matter how fiery the proceedings get, the musicians must communicate melodically, and honestly.  There's no room for untidy musicianship or ego trips.  Neither the music nor its audience will tolerate such abuse.  (Yes, I have a specific transgression in mind, but that recent CD shall remain nameless here.)

Chico O'Farrill: the writer
Pure Emotion
Music music03
Sound sound04

Latin jazz patriarch Chico O'Farrill says "I'm a big band writer" and sets forth ten charts full of Pure Emotion to demonstrate that premise to anyone's satisfaction.

Woody's SESAC Rarities
The Fourth Herd & The New World of Woody Herman
Music music04
Sound sound04

For nearly twenty years, SESAC (a music licensing entity similar to ASCAP and BMI) operated a recording division which prepared transcriptions for radio station use.  Stations who subscribed to SESAC's service would receive a set of 16 inch transcriptions each month along with printed commentary and anecdotes that DJs could use while presenting the music--music that was not otherwise available to the stations' listeners.

Booker Ervin's Finest 40 Minutes on CD
Exultation!
Music music05
Sound sound04

Exultation! was Booker Ervin's first and finest session for Prestige and, not coincidentally, offers some of the best  Frank Strozier on record. Ervin's bristling yet stylish hard bop abounds and there's even a rare exquisite ballad performance  ( of Fats Waller's  "Black and Blue").

Jamal Remembers
I Remember Duke, Hoagy & Strayhorn
Music music04
Sound sound04

Critics used to complain that Ahmad Jamal's playing "lacked density" and "left too many spaces." They were objectively correct, but subjectively in error. Indeed, Jamal used few notes and outlined melodic space rather than filling it in. But he did it expertly, compellingly, and artistically.

Elvin Jones: Swinging
It Don't Mean a Thing...
Music music04
Sound sound04

Yes, Elvin Jones is a busy drummer: complex, daring, creating circles of polyrhythmic pulsations. But, as the title of this CD implies, "that swing" is the foundation of everything Jones plays.

A Swinging Tribute to Blakey's Art
One for Bu!!
Music music04
Sound sound04

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but youthful drummer Sebastian Whittaker obviously believes that emulation is the finest form of appreciation.  One for Bu!! is Whittaker's heartfelt and skillful tribute to the late jazz master drummer and leader Art Blakey, not an attempt at simple simulation.

 
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