Jazz CDs Pt. 2 of 2 - November 2003

Some recent jazz reissues definitely worth your attention...

Mal Waldron - Soul Eyes - The Mal Waldron Memorial Album (with John Coltrane, Idrees Sulieman, Webster Young, Teddy Charles, Steve Lacy, Kenny Burrell and others) - Prestige mono PRCD-11024-2:

Waldron, who died in Belgium last year, had found Europe a more pleasant place to live then the U.S., like so many jazz artists. These are tracks taken from his early Prestige recordings of 1955 thru 1962. Waldron was very close to Charles Mingus and was also the regular pianist for Billie Holiday. His solo on the historic CBS-TV The Sound of Jazz (on both DVD & CD) is high on my personal list of favorite jazz piano tracks. His style at this time shows strong influences of Monk, Bud Powell and Duke. He also played with Gene Ammons on many different sessions, one track from which closes out this abundant 78-minute reissue collection. Four of the tracks feature John Coltrane on tenor sax and seven of the tracks are original Waldron compositions. The 8-minute Fire Waltz track with Eric Dolphy on alto is a highlight of the CD - along with Soul Eyes this became one of the pianist's most frequently-heard pieces.

Tracks: A Portrait of Bud Powell, Soul Eyes, Potpourri, Dakar, While My Lady Sleeps, God Bless the Child, Dear Elaine, Splidium Dow, Bey-Ya, Fire Waltz, Light’n Up. Purchase here

Victor Feldman, vibes & piano - Latinsville! (With Willie Bob, Conte Candoli, Vince Guaraldi, Scott LaFaro, Mongo Santamaria, Frank Rosolino & others) - Contemporary/Fantasy CCD-9005-2:

Feldman was British-born but dove into the Latin jazz genre when he moved to Los Angeles. He worked as a studio player - often on percussion - and as a composer and arranger. These sessions happened at Contemporary’s studio in l958 and 59 and are therefore in stereo - whereas labels such as Prestige and Blue Note hadn’t even thought about recording in stereo as yet. Feldman described his first session of Latin jazz as blending the improvisations of such great soloists as Conte Candoli and Frank Rosolino into straight arrangements in a Latin and Afro Cuban style. Cal Tjader was becoming hot at this time and Feldman even used Tjader’s percussion section in the larger ten-piece band heard on some of these tracks. George Shearing’s Latin percussionist Armando Peraza also appears on some of the tracks. The smaller ensembles are two different-staffed quintets. While the original Feldman LP is long gone, perusal of the tape library at Fantasy produced five previously unreleased tracks which are included here as nos. 13 thru 17. They feature a front line of Frank Rosolino’s trombone and the under appreciated Walter Benton on tenor sax.

Tracks: South of the Border, She’s a Latin from Manhattan, Flying Down to Rio, Cuban Pete, The Gypsy, Poinciana, Lady of Spain, Cuban Love Song, In a Little Spanish Town, Fiesta, Woody’n You, Poinciana, Pancho, The Breeze and I, Bullues Bullose, Lady of Spain. Purchase here

- John Henry

The J. J. Johnson Memorial Album - Prestige/Fantasy PRCD-11025-2:

Another chock-full 78-minute reissue in upgraded sonics of possibly the most influential trombonist in the history of jazz. It features so many top-flight jazz compatriots that listing them all would take up half a page here. Johnson came into view in l944 with his amazing solos on the Jazz at the Philharmonic jam sessions. He was such a technical whiz that many listeners thought he was playing a valve trombone instead of slide. His forte was expression of the bop vocabulary on the trombone. A couple of his collaborations with trombonist Kai Winding are heard here - one of them adding two more players for a 1953 trombone quartet Prestige recording with John Lewis on piano and Mingus on bass. One has Johnson as a member of Benny Golson’s sextet and there are several from various Norman Granz JATP concerts. The 1954 Blue ‘n Boogie with Miles Davis is a kick, and he provides a lyrical solo on David Raksin’s famous Laura, in contrast to the more hectic soloing of bandmate Coleman Hawkins on this l957 track.

Tracks: I Mean You, Elysee, Blue Mode, Chazzanova, Blue n’ Boogie, Bags’ Groove, Laura, Hymn to the Orient, Horace, Pinnacles, Jaylock, Concepts in Blue, Misty, What’s New, Nature Boy, Soft Winds Purchase here.

The next batch of CDs take us into some jazz & world musics...

The Snake Trio - Light the Candle - (Saul Sierra, basses; Jackeline Rago, cuatro, Afro-Venezuelan percussion instruments, mandolins, vocals; Donna Viscuso, flute & alto sax) - The Snake Trio:

This San Francisco-based trio melds Venezuelan folk music with American jazz with a Latin slant. One critic called it a call-and-response between American jazz and the traditional music of Venezuela which - influence strongly by African music - has many rhythmic complexities as well as a spiritual quality. The versatile trio achieves a richer sound on their CD with the additional of three guest instrumentalists plus a five-person chorus on the title selection. Even on the strictly trio tracks there’s a larger feeling than just three musicians. Part of the disc was recorded in Caracas, Venezuela and the final track was recorded live at a world music venue in Berkeley, California. A fresh and fascinating musical mix across all ten tracks: Josefina, Alma Dulce, Mr. Garcia, Last Night, The Snake Dance, Light the Candel, Footprints, My Sky, Road to Choroni, Redondo “Live.” [www.thesnaketrio.com]

Eddie Parente, violin - Touraco - ten original Jazz and Latin compositions for Violin and Jazz Ensemble (with Jof Lee, piano; Phil Baker, acoustic and Fender bass; Carlton Jackson, drums; Caton Lyles, percussion & congas; Dick Titterington, trumpet & Flugelhorn; David Evans, tenor sax; Tim Jensen, flue & alto sax; Stan Bock, trombone):

Violinist Eddie Parente has played with a Bob Wills-type country swing group, in a salsa band, with various musicians in Russia, and currently leads an occasional Django-Reinhardt-style group called Gypsy Cab. These are all his original compositions, and they range over a variety of genres and styles, with the apt assistance of a number of other Portland, Oregon-based jazz players. The Touraco is an African bird which is a member of the cuckoo family. Parente swings his fiddle in the best style of the great jazz violinists and his pieces has a nice feeling about them. Sonics are clean and well-balanced. Tracks: Valentia, Song for Stevie Wonder, Small Jazz, Eitlean, Rick’s Call, Not Without You, Touraco, Ginger Snap, Emerald, Triona’s Waltz. [You will probably only find this CD at: www. eddieparente.com]

- John Henry

Diego Amador, flamenco pianist & guitarist - Piano Jondo (with Miguel Vargas, bass; Luis Amador, percussion & box; Joaquin Grilo, dancer & handclaps) Milestone MCD-9333-2:

Not actually jazz, but the folks at Fantasy Records felt this young pianist fit into the broadening jazz framework enough to record this album. Part of many new styles of ancient flamenco influenced by modern elements of music, Amador’s music takes a different tack than that of his brothers who pioneered a flamenco/blues fusion sound. It began when his father brought home an old Hammond B3 and Diego started playing flamenco on it. He follows standard flamenco forms in each of the nine tracks, such as solea and bulerias. He also plays mandola and does the vocals on the album. Most are his own tunes except for the final track by bassist Jaco Pastorius. They are: Solea del Churri, Pa Los Viejito, Comparito, Quiero Olvidarte, A Mi Tio Diego, viva Los Gitanos!, Seguirya de Pildorilla, El Llanto de la Lluvia, Continuum. Purchase here

Smooth Africa II - Exploring the Soul - Collection of South African artists and some U.S. groups who have performed there (Incl. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Jimmy Dludlu, Shaluza Max, Spyro Gyra, Andy Narell etc.) - Heads Up HUCD 3077:

The second South African compendium released by Heads Up President Dave Love, this one continues his effort to spread the word about the wonderfully creative music coming out this nation. The mix of contemporary jazz and African music helps to promote some of these performers who are unknown outside of their country. For example, guitarist Dludlu was described by Hugh Masekela as standing alongside Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery - but he is unknown in the U.S. Both Spyro Gyra and Andy Narell frequently perform there and have many fans in the area. This disc was so much fun I‘ll have to find Volume 1 too. Tracks: Walk of Life - Jimmy Dludlu, United Nations Together - Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bringing Joy - Allou April, Mangase - Shaluza Max, Adderly Street - Joe McBridge, Neria - Oliver Mtukudzi, Punch - Andre Narell, Botsotsi - Prince Kupi, Hymn for Taiwa - Moses Khumalo; Yebo!- Joe McBride; Umuntv Wakno - Gloria Bosman; Cape Town Love - Spyro Gyra. Purchase here

- John Henry

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