Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Jazz

Every few years, it seems, someone discovers another stack of long-lost tapes from a long-forgotten John Coltrane session and puts them out on CD, LP, or both. The resulting albums garner lavish praise and sell very well, but, really, they’re deep disappointments, textbook cases of hype—the allure of the new, the unknown, the never-before-heard-until-now! The first of the recent excavations, in 2018, was Both Directions at Once, a 1963 date at Rudy Van Gelder’s... Read More

genre Jazz Avant-Garde Jazz format Vinyl

“Funky” is not a word routinely linked to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the pioneering avant-garde jazz group of the mid-1960s and beyond whose music tends more toward the cryptic and tangled. But put the needle on “Theme de Yoyo,” the first track of their 1970 album, Les Stances à Sophie, and you’ll be dancing in your head and on your feet in no time.The album was produced as the soundtrack to a French film of that title, and “Theme de Yoyo”—which has vocals by the... Read More

genre Jazz Avant-Garde Jazz format Vinyl

In Chicago, February of 1959 while playing at The Sutherland Hotel as members of Miles Davis's now classic "Kind of Blue" sextet, the group, minus Miles assembled at Bill Putnam's Universal Recording Studio at 46 E. Walton Street and laid down this album led by Cannonball Adderley. It was only a month before "Kind of Blue" but there's nothing modal about this almost corny by comparison set of "chipper" tunes taken post-bop... Read More

genre Jazz Post-Bop format Vinyl

Sonny Clark's 1958 Blue Note release "Cool Struttin'" (BLP-1588) is rightly a Blue Note classic that epitomizes the label's musical heritage and ethos. The mono original is among the most sought after, collectible and costly original Blue Notes—an original went for almost $4500 on Discogs— (but I think the sonic signature forced upon it—dynamic compression and low bass attenuation with mid-bass boost —so it would track the inexpensive... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

In March 1957, Sonny Rollins was 26 and one of the hot young tenor saxophone players (matched only by his friend John Coltrane) when he went out to L.A. with the Max Roach quartet and, one night, in his off hours, stepped into a warehouse that doubled as a studio for Contemporary Records and laid down the tracks of Way Out West. (I mean “off hours” literally; the only time he and his bandmates could get together, in between club gigs and other recording sessions, was... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

As I’ve noted a few times in this space, Jason Moran is the most versatile, virtuosic jazz pianist on the scene. Around the turn of the decade, as player and composer, he focused on elegiac melodies, deceptively simple in form, rich in harmonies and textures, stirring, even spiritual, in their quest. Some tracks on this album from that period, The Sound Will Tell You, resemble movie music (but deep movie music); two of them were written for the HBO adaptation of... Read More

genre Jazz format CD

When I opened the package that contained this album, I rolled my eyes and said, “Just what the world needs, another audiophile reissue of Waltz for Debby.” But on a few seconds’ reflection, I dropped my cynicism. The previous reissues, on vinyl anyway, were either out-of-print or available only as part of an enormous, expensive 11-album boxed set, so, yes, this is at least one of the things we can welcome to the world with joy. Waltz is the best album in Bill Evans’... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

Sasha Matson first came to the attention of many audiophiles with his 1993 Audioquest release "i-5/Steel Cords" (Audioquest AQ-LP 1013), which includes the most unusual "Works For Pedal Steel Guitar, Harp and Strings" and i-5" a paen to Interstate Highway 5, the road that in the late 1980s brought Matson from Berkeley to Los Angeles (the composer will probably tell me "paen" is the wrong word for his tribute, but that's okay).... Read More

genre Jazz Big Band format Vinyl

In his Downbeat review of jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby's 1965 release "The Fantastic Jazz Harp of Dorothy Ashby" (Atlantic 1447), "K.D." wrote : "Flighty" has Miss Ashby gliding in a Wes Montgomery-like style of octave approach. But it's obviously very much her own creation." K.D. compares bassist Richard Davis to Segovia. What a well-written, perceptive and interesting review, I thought to myself. Then I looked in the box... Read More

genre Jazz Cool Jazz format Vinyl

Many have long forgotten, if they ever knew, but for a brief spell in the mid-to-late 1950s, André Previn was one of America’s most popular jazz musicians, at least judging by record sales, and his cover of West Side Story, released in 1960, marked his high point in that realm. It was his 6th and final album devoted entirely to a Broadway score—the first, in ’56, was My Fair Lady, which remained the best-selling jazz album for the next three years. It also marked pretty much his farewell to jazz, after which he turned to arranging unabashed mood music and then, in a total switch, to conducting classical symphonies.

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genre Jazz format Vinyl

In the mid-1960s, just as rock ‘n’ roll was displacing jazz as America’s foremost popular music, Blue Note Records took a bold but commercially disastrous foray into the avant-garde, signing such adventurers as Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Graham Moncur III, and Cecil Taylor. It was a similarly risky move for today’s corporate-owned Blue Note to start reissuing some of these artists’ albums, a few years back, and on deluxe vinyl no less, but... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl