AMERICAN JAZZ CLASSICS
BARNEY KESSEL /Some Like It Hot: Arguably the career maker record of Kessel's illustrious career, he was involved in the cleffer of the pic of the same name but this session called on him to make proper jazz renditions of the soundtrack. Relying heavily on period pieces common to the time the pic was set in, Kessel and first call pals like Art Pepper, Joe Gordon, Jimmy Rowles and more deliver the goods in such a way that you don't have to be Marilyn Monroe empheria vulture to scoop this up. The disc adds alternative versions of songs from the session that weren't on the album and some tv stuff that have never seen the light of cd beams. 90 year old songs recorded 50 years ago that still sound fresh---what an achievement.
BENNY CARTER/Further Definitions: No matter how hard this swings and no matter how cool his sidemen are, there's no mistaking that this is old man jazz----but so what, it gives us something to look forward to. With work here that goes back to Carter's contemporaneous stay in Paris with Coleman Hawkins, who shows up here, in the 30s, there's surprising little dust on anything. And little kids within earshot will have a great time cakewalking to some of the jauntier tunes. While this might be Carter's best known work, it's paired with ‘Jazz Giant‘, an even more august record that seems to be given junior status here due to it's wider exploitation in recent years. This is some of the best sax playing you will ever hear as Carter might well have just titled his records Jazz Giant 1, Jazz Giant 2, etc. Smoking hot stuff that defined an era and a sound.
HENRY MANCINI/Music from Peter Gunn-Complete Edition: If there was ever a cat that should be on the list of essential players the industry should give more love to, Mancini is on the first draft. This twofer aims to right some wrongs in fine style. First off, you get the entire run of "Peter Gunn" music he did for RCA, and it the enduring gift to high school and college marching bands everywhere, for eternity. Then the love keeps coming with Pete Candoli's take on Peter Gunn, a fine effort from another essential cat missing out on some love the last 30 years. Rounding out that is Ted Nash's take on Peter Gunn with help from Russ Freeman, Conte Candoli, Frank Rossilino. The four discs represented here are a veritable crash course in contemporary pop/jazz. Hidden on disc two of Mancini's Peter Gunn is a performance by Plas Johnson who would later hit it out of the park for Mancini on "Pink Panther" with the immortal sax riff. What this the place where a beautiful friendship began? Whatever, it's a gasser throughout. Without these sides, who knows how many Cold War era rec rooms would have been silent until swing parties hit the suburbs. Check it out.
STAFF BENDA BILILI/Bouger Le Monde!: The next time someone is bellyaching about how miserable their life is, play this record for them. Then toss them the cover and tell them to shut the fuck up. A bunch of handicapped, homeless musicians band together in a zoo in the Congo and create some of the most joyous party music you can find. Remember the old clichés about suffering for your art? I don't even know where to go with this except to tell you this is some of the most incredible ethnic party music you are going to come across. And you'll enjoy it for what it is without knowing any of the back story of any of the players. Incredible stuff that validates everything the old hippies said about the power of music back in the day. High octane, killer stuff throughout.
ESSENTIAL JAZZ CLASSICS
HANK JONES/The Talented Touch: In the 50s and 60, Hank Jones just about played on everything, but he never really got much love as a leader and that's why this twofer proves that there's no such thing as to much Jones. Leading with a session he did for Capitol where all the right notes are in all the right places, the jazzbo's piano jazzbo and his pals hit the mark throughout on a simple date that's dripping with zest. The session paired with it is by all the same cats but it's from two years earlier and culled from two concept albums that the majors were then putting out to compete with budget labels trying to grab a piece of the hi fi pie. This is a great chance to open your ears to one of the jazz piano greats.
TOOTS THIELEMANS QUARTET/Soul of Toots: Snappy little date from Steve
Allen's obscure jazz label finds Thielemans in fine company jamming in anything but dusty fashion. Loaded with what we'd call supper club swing now, the blowing is in fine style and the tunes are joyful. Rounding out the date are some 10 inch records in their entirely that not only fit the flow but finds Toots in a quartet with Art Taylor and Hank Jones at his side. One of those perennial cats you never dislike, this is a flat out good time that doesn't even need another rendition of "Bluesette" to peak your curiosity. Hot stuff.
DAVID GREENBERG & HARPETH RISING/The End of the World: How nice to see that not every kid who had their parent's involved in the early stages of their career grows up to hate said parent. First we had Darrell Scott letting his pop hang out with Guy Clark, now we have the violinist of this group putting her pop front and center. With sincerity that can't be feigned, if elder Greenberg is anything other than the unreconstructed hippie he appear to be, it's one of the best acting jobs ever. Building upon their dazzling doesn't-fit-the-format Americana, this set takes it to the next level of the game, pushing the envelope even farther as their chops deepen and their confidence grows. To hang any tag on these proceeding other than 'outstanding' is to do a disservice to listener and player. This is must hear genre busting music that's a must for anyone that would rather watch "Law and Order" repeats than suffer through another network talent show. Killer stuff.
LIQUID MIND X/Meditation: Chuck Wild brings his head music series to a new place by making electronic sound waves ( as opposed to sound scapes) that easily wash over your brittle mind and smooth out the rough edges. Best played with head phones to wipe out as much distraction as possible, this is a lot better for you than CNN these days. Trust me, I'm not going to argue with titles like "The Joy of Quiet". I wish I had more of it.
Volume 35/Number 298
August 14, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record
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