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Showing posts with label Desert Isle Pick. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Desert Isle Pick. Show all posts

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Desert Isle Pick 4

The albums containing the 12/24/1954 session; Bag's Groove & Modern Jazz Giants.

Desert Isle Pick #4 is actually a session, not a release:

What, I can't do that!? Well, anyway; the setting is Christmas Eve Day. It was a busy & important holiday season
at the Rudy Van Gelder studio in Hackensack, NJ. The day before, the Modern Jazz Quartet were there laying down "Django, "Milano" and "One Bass Hit". Milt Jackson, Percy Heath & Kenny Clarke would come back the next day to join with Miles and Thelonious Monk to form Mile's "Modern Jazz Giants". It was a Friday, and all was not well.

Miles had told Monk to lay off playing while Miles soloed (not an unreasonable request, considering Monk's severely angular, boisterous comping style). Monk was offended, and proceeded to vibe out the session with remarks and attitude (audible on take 1 of "The Man I Love"'s intro). 

It was a long day of rehearsing, and by evening, "not much had been accomplished". Nonetheless, the evening's session resulted in some of the most striking jazz of the mid 50's, with a mood unique to Mile's output. As always - profound, dark & swinging, but with an exceptionally dreamy mood, almost spooky at times; both dense in emotion, and sparse in atmosphere. Most critics agree the tensions between the 2 "Giants" contributed masterfully to the end product; but kudos also belong to Van Gelder, who achieved one of his best mixes, and knew how to capture the singular mood intuitively. Whatever the reasons - we wind up with the only versions you'll ever need of "The Man I Love" (instrumentally, at least) and "Bag's Groove". Arguably Jackson's best session of the '50s, it's a tour-DE-force of how to leave melodic impressions on the listener while burning up the aluminum.

The cd & 12" versions of these albums, particularly "Bag's Groove", are, of course, not how they originally appeared (the Sonny Rollins tracks, though fine, are completely alien in mood and texture to these excursions). You can make your own playlists to recreate the 10" platters that delighted fans in 1955 with the tracklists below. Included are links to the spectacular covers - why Prestige abandoned these is certainly a quandry!

Thanks for stopping by! - DJ Kendo

Miles Davis All Stars Vol. I
Prestige LP 196
(links to the gorgeous cover and original liner notes on plosin.com)

          Side A: Bag's Groove
          Side B: Swing Spring

Miles Davis All Stars Vol. II
Prestige LP 200
(links to similar cover and identical liner notes on plosin.com)

          Side A: Bemsha Swing
          Side B: The Man I Love

(of course this leaves one wondering what to do with the fabulous alternate takes, one option is to make a playlist out of all your Miles alt takes!)

And just for the heck of it; here's the original tracklist for the earlier sessions with Sonny Rollins included on "Bag's Groove".

Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins
Prestige LP 187
(link to cover & liner notes on plosin.com)

Side A:
          1. Airegin
          2. Oleo

Side B:
          1. But Not For Me
          2. Doxy

amazon links to cd versions of these recordings:

for the serious collector - Some ebay Miles 10" & 7" vinyl!

"Walkin' Pts I & II" - 45rpm - Ebay link

Miles Davis All Stars Vol. II - 10" - Ebay link
Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins - 10" - Ebay link

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Desert Isle Pick 3

Cal Tjader - Soul Burst (1966)

Alright, some of you know I'm nuts over Cal Tjader. This is no light jazz outing, though. It does start innocently enough with the boogaloo "Cuchy Frito Man", replete with "Patato" Valdez's Latino-slang shouts & interjections... but even on this opener there is a deeper groove, a slier hipness than on much of Cal's 60s oeuvre. As the album progresses, there's also more jazz profundity, even in Tjader's own composition.

4 names have a lot to do with this...

Chick Corea - The whole album is just marvelously filled with Chick. In 1966, he's way ahead of the pack. The 2nd track "Descargo Cubana" is a feature on the astounding pianist, and he doesn't disappoint.

Oliver Nelson - his small group arrangements are sumptuous, shining especially on a stunning "Bilbao Song" by Kurt Weill, and the title track.

Creed Taylor - the man could do no wrong while at Verve, and he knew instinctively, uncannily even, who would sound good doing what, when, and with whom.

Cal Tjader - at a particularly creative high for this recording. 

Add to that a fine, large rhythm section with Grady Tate on the drums, and the flutes of Jerry Dodgion, Seldon Powell and Jerome Richardson twirling above it all, or tearing up the solo sections - and you've got Tjader's best album of the 60's.

"Manteca" pops, bops and simmers; "It Didn't End" is highly infectious Brazilian fun; Clare Fischer's "Morning" gets it's first of several Tjader treatments, this being the simplest & most touching with a very solid vibes solo. Corea completists will want to hear "Oran" - a distinctive, angular samba that fits perfectly here. The album closes with Tjader's "Curacao" - a poignant, bluesy afro-latin 6/8 number that might change your mind about the whole Tjader bag.

    At 39 minutes, it's a little short for a Desert Isle pick; but it's 39 minutes of exquisite, repeatable delight! - DJ Kendo

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Desert Isle Pick 2

Gonzalo Rubalcaba - Suite 4 y 20
(rec May 1992 released on Blue Note)

I picked this up in 1993 at a cd store in Port Jefferson Station, NY. (a what?) It was erroneously placed in the World section under Spain (it was recorded in Madrid). I was looking for exotica (I did not buy much jazz back then), and thought I was getting something different - but it was love at first listen. I can't tell you how many nights I've fallen asleep to this one; and I've been a devout fan since.
L-R: G Rubalcaba, Julio Barreto, Reynaldo Melian, Charlie Haden (at drums)
and ? possibly elec bassist Felipe Cabrera

A few adjectives to sum it up: gorgeous, pretty, fascinating. Rubalcaba's output - particularly back then, has been wildly varied in it's listening "accessibility". This is probably his first 'quiet' release, not to say there isn't fire and dash or latin funkiness - but overall it's dreamy & introspective. The penchant for complexity and reharmonizing is there, but toned down in a romantic vein. Every track is memorable (although many will require several listens to grasp), and quite a few unforgettable, like "Perfidia", "Love Letters", "Here, There and Everywhere" and especially Charlie Haden's "Our Spanish Love Song". It's the album as a whole, tho', that has it's lasting effect on one. The addition of Reynaldo Melian on trumpet provides variety and more Cuban flair, while Julio Barreto is something of an unsung hero on the drums, just marvelous!

A few of the originals are condensed, simplified versions of compositions recorded earlier ("Preludio Proyecto Latino", "Comienzo") and are all the better for it. I don't know that this album is yet available (it wasn't for a long while) but if you find yourself a copy don't let it get away! - DJ Kendo

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Desert Isle Pick 1

A Go Go cover - Verve Records

 John Scofield - A Go Go

Not sure what I can say about this record to help you grasp the sound - for me it was the sound of winter 1998-99. With Medeski, Martin & Wood, Scofield may have found his pinnacle of expression. Yes, there's the irresistible funk grooves, the ridiculous empathy of MMW, the wonderful variety of Medeski's Hammond, and occasionally that wild stereo chorus guitar sound we always wait for; but Scofield seems also to be completely free to dig way in to his inner self and bend, groan & grind it out on the strings. Composition-ally, he hits a mark so rare in jazz or any music, simplicity with profundity. 

I was first introduced to this album via a Verve sampler called "Guitarism", a bonus feature in some magazine. It's filled with jazz guitar all-stars, but the humorous, chilled "Boozer" stood out by a mile for me. A Go Go topped off my favs list for years (now it wrestles with 1 or 2 others). There's gripping urgency (Hottentot), enigmatic spookiness (Kubrick, Deadzy), marvelous, relaxed soul (Jeep on 35, Southern Pacific) knock-out funk (Chank, A Go Go) and an overall intimate, personable feel (Green Tea, Chicken Dog).

If you love improvised music beyond hard-bop, this record is a must. - DJ Kendo