Jazz Review

You may have seen the thread regarding a review section. This is a trial as suggested by member Elgordo to see how it might work in our current forums, since there currently is not a review section. If this works, perhaps Audiogon will add a dedicated review section.

Please review on album or CD per reply. Change the sub title to read: {the artist}, {album title}, {performance rating}, {sonic rating}.

Performance and sonic ratings on a 1 - 10 scale. In the body write a short review and at the end put in all album information (catalog number, label, etc.) so that other A-goners can easily find it for purchase.

I realize "Jazz review" is kind of crazy because it encompasses so much, but we have to start somewhere and hopefully this will get A-gon's attention to add a section with more refined categories, a rating system by which all can add their ratings for an individual album.
After reading the responses to my post suggesting that members contribute reviews of recordings, I thought I ought to clarify my idea. I did not intend for Audiogon to formally manage a "Reviews" section, although it would be nice if they did. A search engine that would allow people to do specific searches for CD's, players, etc., would also be nice, but again not necessary. I recommend that we start simply by having members submit reviews, which (as someone else suggested) could be identified in the title of the post, such as: Jazz: Bill Evans, or Classical: Bach Goldberg Variations. Since the general reaction my post was favorable, I will commit to writing a review in the next few days and have it posted by this weekend. Best wishes to everyone for a sunny and safe Memorial Day weekend.
This album exemplifies Miles' incredible ability to "create the musical future" and to lead/conduct a veritable powerhouse of jazz soloists. The music is, IMO, a musical landmark. The compositions (esp. Sanctuary, B Brew, Pharaoh's Dance) link traditional jazz with classical composition and more, creating an "open window" to the future of instrumental jazz. Released in 1970, recorded '68-'69 (I beleive), the music staggered me when I first listened to the album; there had been ideas before (from Zawinul to, say, Cukay) but never before had this music been so confidently presented in a final and definitive form.
The musicians are suberb, as expected. Coherence is also exemplary, and the music flows not as a statement of the musicians' prowess but, rather, as an expression of collective emotion.

The recording is good (some harshness/denaturation on the brass).
(CBS 451126 1// 2 LP)
What do you get when you combine the best jazz players in New York with some high-profile guest soloists to back up, in a big band setting, a featured artist? The usual answer? A competent, somewhat exciting set with a bunch of players each trying to steal the limelight. Unless of course, the featured artist is Joe Henderson; one of the most profound and highly individual voices on the tenor saxophone. Someone so highly regarded by the players themselves, that it is obvious that the project became a true labor of love.
The playing is wonderful throughout, with an obvious sense of commitment and the kind of attention to hip musical details that is most obvious when musicians play for their peers. Two different core bands are used, with interesting and contrasting results. One band ( referred to as Band 1 in the notes) is consistently a bit more relaxed with a slightly softer energy, while the other, perhaps as a result of being comprised of younger players, tends to sound more exuberant, eager, and more on top of the beat. Both swing like mad.
Henderson's sound can be difficult to reconcile with the hipness and modern sensibility of his harmonic and rhythmic concept. His is a far cry from the usual Coltrane influenced tenor saxophone sound that most younger players develop; it is warm and supple, without edge in the usual sense. His edge comes from an impeccable rhythmic incisiveness that few players possess. Improvisations are models of clarity within that very hip and complex space. Check out his solo on "A Shade Of Jade"; a beautiful example of thematic development. The opening four note motif of his solo consists of two ascending, then two descending notes; it is transposed, altered and turned inside out in a beautiful and perfectly logical way. Logic, in this case, not being the antithesis of emotion.
The arrangements, approximately one half by Joe, are excellent and uncluttered; and special mention should be made of Dick Oats' lead alto, Joe Temperly's baritone, and Jon Faddis' fabulous lead trumpet. Of the guest soloists, Chick Corea's piano work, perhaps because of his prior working experience with Joe, is particularly impressive.
As far as audiophile concerns go, the recording is very good if not in the same league as my reference big band recording: "Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass" ( Direct to Disc, Umbrella Records). Tonally, things are pretty good, with the individual sounds (timbre) of the players in various sections very evident. As is usual with big band recordings, the stereo spread is puzzling and a bit strange with the saxophone section panned far to the right, instead of being spread accross the front as it should be. Of particular interest is Joe's recorded sound. The purists among us tend to decry the way that close miking colors the sound of an instrument. Joe Hendeson has perfected the use of a microphone and uses it to his advantage. Anyone who has heard Joe live knows that his sound, in keeping with the absence of Coltranisms, is not particularly potent volume wise. He is one of the few modern tenor players that has the confidence to use a hard rubber mouthpiece, which tends to produce a more intimate and warmer sound than the much more popular and louder metal mouthpiece. By "working" the mike he has overcome the problem of getting sufficient volume in the context of a very energetic rhythm section, while retaining the beauty of his very unique tone.
Highly recommended.

Joe Henderson Big Band
Verve 314 533 451-2

CD only.
This double LP takes us through a jam meeting recording session featuring, other than the title song, Straight, No Chaser (2 takes), I Mean You (3 takes), and other musical games.
The simplicity of the music coincides with its greatness. At times, we are confronted with the feeling of listening in unobserved, so taken away are the players... I am taking this partly from S. Wilson's presence in the drums section (I am more used to A. Blakey) -- who, virtually rocks with the lead players.

More than a encyclopaedic reference, this is a musical album. The recording quality is rewarding in a revealing TT.

Milestone records, LP M-47067. Probably available on CD.
Jazz Focus Records sent me this CD following our telcon after I bought the two latest Kendra Shank discs from them (both superb, by the way).
Jessica Williams has enormous chops, combining the lyricism and propulsion of Bill Evans with the great technique of Jarrett. A truly musical outing, with a big, warm credible piano-image, if a bit too wide. I'm told her later discs (Monk tunes, etc.) are equally good, but I haven't heard them. Check her out. I have a Steinway B sitting behind my Parsifal Encores, and this is one of the times where I'd swear MY piano's being played! Ernie.
Hi Ernie. Since you like Jessica - as I do too - you really must try "Jessica's Blues". This is the most enjoyable of all her albums. Fine Jazz styling over a great Blues groove. This CD has more soul than Jessica's other work and the result gets your toes tapping.
Kurt Rosenwinkel - Intuit
Criss Cross Jazz 1160
Time 70:44

Kurt Rosenwinkel - guitar
Michael Kanan - piano
Joe Martin - bass
Tim Pleasant - drums

I saw a positive review for Rosenwinkel's new release "The Next Step" in June's Stereophile so I went to Amazon.com to listen to a few cuts. I passed on it - just a little too avant-garde for me.

But while I was at Amazon, I also listened to a few cuts from another Rosenwinkel CD called "Intuit". I liked the selections enough to go ahead and order it.

The CD came today and I was blown away. What a warm, swinging set of straight-ahead bop standards with a few harmonic twists thrown in.

Rosenwinkel is a great soloist and strays from the changes only occasionally but still manages to keep things interesting.

The best of all - the sound. The guitar is nice and big and right in the middle. The entire drum kit is toward the right of the stage (nothing is worse than cymbals on one side and the snare on the other) and piano and bass are toward the left. All four intruments can be heard clearly at all times in the mix and all are reproduced with perfect weight and timbre.

This CD may be hard to find, but it is worth the effort.