ELLA FITZGERALD/Sunshine of Your Love: Maybe I'm brain warping. I always thought this was one of Ella's Reprise albums where Frank was letting her get hip. Produced as always by Granz and recorded in San Francisco, after some hip contemporary moves, Fitzgerald gets to get back to her normal stomping ground with little reinvention and Flanagan's Trio helped out by a big band. Certainly a nice snapshot of "late" period Ella (even if a lengthy stay on Pablo was yet to come).
GEORGE DUKE/Inner Source: The only thing missing from this fatty of a twofer from the beginning of Duke's solo years was a budget. Already getting known from his work with Cannonball and Zappa, Duke brings the funk and swing and you almost don't notice this is an early 70s new artist date where it was typical to throw him in the deep end and see how he does. With plenty to say and smart cats on board to help him say it, this was certainly an auspicious beginning and the start of something wonderful.
MONTY ALEXANDER TRIO/Live at the Montreux Festival: Already an MPS label stalwart by the time this 1976 date was recorded, the live energy from the august festival really charges up the piano man and you can feel a preview of what's to come right from the opening vamps. Even when plunking out obligatory crowd leaders like "Feelings",
Alexander shows he's his own man going his own way and really makes his bones here. No matter how hoary the material, he comes through like a champ. By the way, if you need further inducement to take this trip down memory lane, the trio is made up of Clayton and Hamilton making their first trip to Switzerland.
FREDDIE HUBBARD/Hub of Hubbard: Possibly feeling something to prove on this 1968 date, MPS takes the budgets they might have been withholding from newer acts and opens the piggy bank here. Serving up hotter stuff than Hubbard did for Blue Note, this swinging, smoking set is loaded with pros that aren't there just for the pay check. The lp sized set list might be short on titles but it's long on stretching out and hard charging material. Daddio meets the modern world, dates like this don't lose their appeal and don't get old. This is how it's done.
OSCAR PETERSON/Motions & Emotions: Commercial music gets a bad name, especially among the cognoscenti, because it usually has a lot of bad players. Making more albums and playing with more soul that Carter's had little liver pills, Peterson never got the respect he deserved from the jazz police because you could just sit back and enjoy his accessible playing. Hell, nobody liked him but the fans. In real Verve style here, including working with Claus Ogerman, you get an agreeable mix of 1969 pop tunes that find them resting as easily next to each other as if they were played in rotation of a contemporary top 40 station. Craftily keeping cocktail/dinner music from having a bad name, there's a lot to be said for the easy going sophistication on display here. Peterson showed up on so many MPS dates, you couldn't be blamed for thinking they started the label for him in the wake of Verve's exodus. Solid.
BADEN POWELL/Images on Guitar: Putting it in kind of modern terms, you could call this trio date acid samba. Recorded in 1971 but feeling timeless in that non-pop Brazilian music kind of way, it seems like they always did have a soft spot for making music for grown ups down there. Pretty much world beat before there was any, the guitar man could easily get into it with Jobim in a title match for who could make the softest record. Music made for candle light, bros would never understand this set and the magic spell it can cast on certain proceedings.
BILL EVANS/Symbiosis: Ah, 1974. The oil embargo. Runaway inflation. Labels dropping heritage and legacy artists like you wouldn't believe. What label would write a check for Bill and Eddie with orchestra to record a full on cantata by Claus Ogerman? Even if it needed to be done? Those fearless cats at MPS knew this was music that had to be made. Evans moves well out of his perceived comfort zone and let's the good vibes fly. You never get the feeling this is a date for eggheads and it's a solid ear opener by well matched pros that want to revel in the work. Smart stuff throughout.
CARLOS HENRIQUEZ/South Bronx Story: The two decade member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra lets it fly on this tribute to his Puerto Rican heritage and the indigenous jazzbos that influenced him along the way. It might not be a long physical trip from the Bronx to Lincoln Center but this recorded version of a live event that premiered in 2018 shows just how far a trip it can be. A Latin jazz date brimming with pride that he can be really proud of.
SASHA DOBSON/Girl Talk: A musical chameleon from a musical family took the long way around to making this jazzy album that finds her in first rate cabaret/boite mode touching as many bases as she can along the way from originals to Nancy Sinatra and finding jazz vocals in all of it. Powered by a certain subversiveness that's easy to appreciate, this is a real find for almost any jazz vocal fan looking for a subtle set with that certain something extra.
BEN TIBERIO/Rare Peace: A forward thinking bass player that's made his mark in New York and Miami before coming back to New York mixes it up with all his skills fomenting them into this debut as a leader with real smarts. Grounded in improv and with muscular, angular playing, he doesn't cut corners and he's not afraid to careen into them either. A sharp set where modern daddio is toned down a touch, it's a great listening date for those times when you really want the music to do all the work. Chalk it up as an auspicious debut.
(Outside In 2121)
CHAMPIAN FULTON & Stephen Fulton/Live From Lockdown: A set inspired by her lockdown webcasts, A valentine to the 20,000 viewers that were tuning in each week, this is a set of new recordings of tracks that were crowd faves rather than repurposed Zoom calls. With wit and spontaneity, Fulton's jazz vocals and sprightly playing represent the kind of good times you would have had if you could have gone out to see her. Snappy, snazzy and full of joie de vivre, we need more like her.
GRANT RICHARDS/Ballyhoo: When you've got Dr. Um's kid in your long time band, you aim has to be true. You've got access to one of the world's greatest record collections as owned by the guy that made them. Forsaking his beloved daddio jazz, Richards and pals launch into a set of gringo flavored Afro-Cuban/Latin jazz, and that's not said as a put down. Easily comparable with any of the great records of the genre, they hit the mark first time, every time. There's a lot of the 50s rec room world jazz rolled out here but there's no dust on any of it. A totally tasty set that's as welcome as the summer breezes it feels like.
(Grant Richards Music)
DAVE LIEBMAN EXPANSIONS/Selflessness: If you're going meta, you might as well go meta all the way so you can give naysayers a kick in the pants without breaking a sweat. Here we find one Miles hell raiser paying tribute to an earlier Miles hell raiser. It's hard to think of Lieb as being 15 but that's how old he was when he snuck into Birdland in 1962 and had Coltrane turn his world upside down, not to be the same since. Now 75, he returns with another of his Coltrane tributes, once again of a different flavor. With his working band in tow, they kick out the jams from various periods with new twists and turns added to the original. And it's all original. You might think you've been here before, but trust me, you haven't. Killer stuff throughout from above the top shelf.
(Dot Time 910)
CHRISTIAN KRICHKOWSKY QUARTET/End of Meloncholism: Kind of an interstitial album from the drummer leader as he wants to rid himself of negative thoughts and finds the music as a great purge mechanism. Might that explain a lot of the early ECM feel rolling out here? A couple of steps removed from recital, chamber jazz but quite intimate nonetheless, this is clearly for music to play while letting your mind drift over some brandy. Let it take you places.
(Double Moon 71392)
RAY ANDERSON POCKET BRASS BAND/Come IN: If you've got your AACM on, you'll get this set that grew from Chicago and let the avant garde meld with loft jazz with lots of get whitey mixed in. Not music where they play pretty for the people, this is toned down angry jazz with a load of second line funk involved to let you know there's a hint of death in the mix as well. Crazy music for crazy times that can veer from fairly normal to outer space in a blink.
(Double Moon 71381)
STAN GETZ QUARTET & ASTRUD GILBERTO/Live at the Berlin Jazz Festival 1966--The Lost Recordings: With rejuvenation and reinvention powering the spirit, Getz and Gilberto wowed ‘em in Berlin when they were at the top of their 60s powers as documented by this previously unreleased double album. The first disc is the gang kicking it out instrumentally with 20 year old Gary Burton inspiring Getz. The second disc finds Gilberto called on stage to preview their as yet unreleased set with the crowd responding overwhelmingly, in a most positive way. Whether this date is legendary is for you to decide but you'll certainly wish you were there. A great find.
MIKE COHEN/Winter Sun: Give this sax man credit, at 13 he beat leukemia. A solid jazzbo with an impeccable resume, this is his debut as a leader and it seems like the wait was worth it. He's got all the right moves down the right way and plays with a great tone and touch making this a fine way to spend your time. Well done by a cat that knows how to bring the passion.
Volume 45/Number 317
September 17, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
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