Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Jazz

In April 1958, Lester Young moved into the Hotel Alvin, a seedy hotel at the corner of Broadway and Fifty-Second street in New York City, which, because it was cheap, was home to many musicians. Lester owned a house on Long Island in which his wife and two children lived but the Alvin was directly across the street from Birdland, and that was where Lester wanted to be.Lester wasn’t playing at Birdland or any of the other major clubs in Manhattan. His chronic... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

Despite the inherent lightness and breeze of "West Coast" jazz, this set recorded Halloween day 1956 is simultaneously cool and blazing hot, with Art Pepper and Chet Baker at their youthful peak navigating a set of intricately written and charted tunes, five of the seven by Jimmy Heath, hence the album's title, plus two by Pepper.If you're of a certain age, some of the uptempo vibe here will remind you of 50s and 60s era television show theme songs... Read More

genre Jazz Cool Jazz format Vinyl

Anyone who predicted this is either a time traveler or is clinically insane (probably both). It’s December 2022, everyone’s “best albums of 2022” lists are out, and Lil B has dropped a jazz album.That’s right: Lil B The Based God, the rapper and motivational speaker who’s perhaps the most detrimentally prolific artist of our time (did anyone actually listen to all eight volumes of his 855 Song Based Freestyle Mixtape?), has made what can loosely be considered a jazz... Read More

Years (it feels like eons) have passed since John Zorn filled his bill as the Angry Young Man of New York’s Downtown jazz scene. (In a bit of etymology right out of a Terry Southern novel, "Zorn" in German means “anger.”) Nearly a decade ago, on the occasion of his 60th birthday, he was touted in tributes and concerts by such exemplars of Uptown culture as the Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim, and Columbia University. Now recognized as... Read More

genre Jazz format CD

I saw Miles Davis’ pop-rock band a half dozen times in the 1980s and loved the music each time. The concert-recordings from that period—"Miles Live Around the World" and the relevant discs from the 20-CD "Complete Miles Davis at Montreux", both released posthumously on Warner Brothers—were also wondrous, a departure from his discography (as every new phase of his was from the phase before) but still ranking high. His famous covers of Michael... Read More

genre Jazz Jazz Fusion format CD

There's so much to like about this reissue of a 1994 Criss Cross release, here for the first time on vinyl, especially if you dig jazz organ. The title plays off of Wes Montgomery's 1993 Riverside album "Boss Guitar" on which Rhyne played in a trio with Jimmy Cobb on drums.That fun set mostly consisting of covers was Montgomery's 9th for Riverside and not exactly a collection necessity. Both Rhyne and Montgomery were Indianapolis natives who... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

Ahmad Jamal has long been known for his stately swing. He emerged as an innovative pianist, and a best-selling trio leader, in 1958, with his live album, "At the Pershing: But Not for Me". Even before then, Miles Davis touted him as a major influence on his own ballad style, citing his spacious phrasing and soft touch. Miles told his pianist of the era, Red Garland, to play like Jamal.I confess I didn’t follow Jamal much between his lyrical late-‘50s... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

This must have been a "walk in the park" session. As the annotation says, "Surely all the songs played are too familiar to necessitate comment," although like looks, sounds can be deceiving. All of the familiar tunes—including "Just a Closer Walk With Thee","Go Down Moses" and "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" are taken at an unhurried pace and while at first it may sound simple, relaxed and self-evident, pay... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

This charming, mood enhancing television special soundtrack has for decades been a favorite Christmas album. Lighthearted and breezy, sometimes sentimental and occasionally deep—as when the children's chorus of San Raphael's St. Paul's choir so innocently sings "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing". How the television special came to be and a soundtrack album produced is almost as charming as the end product itself. It's told in the gatefold... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

With eleven previous album releases to his credit as leader, recording with some of the best known names in contemporary jazz, it's not as if Elan Mehler is new to this, but if you didn't know and relied solely on his very personal annotation, you might think otherwise.He dedicates the album—the music—to his late mother who was a religious adventurer and traveler who he describes as "a mystic" whose collection of Sufi Mystical Islamic texts he... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

Monty Alexander's long association with the Montreux Jazz Festival produced many stellar musical moments. This double LP set culled from performances from 1993 through 2016 highlights many of them. There's a video interview with Alexander conducted by TrackingAngle editor Michael Fremer the day this review posts.

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genre Jazz Reggae format Vinyl

“David Bowie in Jazz"'s Aladdin Sane-era cover art might lead you to believe this Bowie tribute record is tied in with or is somehow connected to Bret Morgen’s feature-length "Moonage Daydream" documentary released September, 2022 in IMAX and standard theater formats and currently available for streaming and purchase on Amazon, itunes and other sites.The scant credits, however, indicate that the French Wagram Music label marketed and distributed... Read More

genre Jazz Jazz Fusion format Vinyl

Formed near the sunny sands of Rio De Janeiro in 1973, Azymuth is a Brazilian funk-jazz trio though they manage to sound like a much larger group, especially when hosting guest players. The band features Jose Roberto Bertrami (unfortunately, deceased in 2019) on an array of keyboards, Alex Malheiros on bass and Ivan Conti on drums. These three musicians initially connected with one another in a previous band called Group Projeto 3 which later became Grupo Seleção. The... Read More

Though the pianist Mal Waldron recorded more than 110 albums as a leader or co-leader, he is known mainly as a sideman to the likes of Coltrane, Mingus, Dolphy, Blakey, and, in her final few years, Billie Holiday. In 1963, he collapsed in a drug OD, took more than a year to recover, during which time he moved to Europe, where he would for the most part stay (he died in 2002 at the age of 77) and where he also crafted a new style, built less on chords and more on... Read More

genre Jazz format CD

It’s tragic that, in the past decade, physical catastrophes have struck two of our greatest jazz masters in their prime. Pulmonary thrombosis stopped Sonny Rollins from blowing the saxophone; two strokes prevented Keith Jarrett from ever again playing the piano. At least Rollins was in peak form for an 80th birthday concert (captured on "Road Trip, Vol. 3)"; Jarrett stayed active barely past his 70th. (Both are still alive, at 89 and 72, respectively.) Lucky... Read More

genre Jazz ECM Style Jazz format CD

Recorded in 1977 but not released until 1981 after Evans passed away September 15th, 1980 at age 51, You Must Believe In Spring was kind of "the great lost Bill Evans album". For those who bought it when it was first released as a single LP mastered by Doug Sax (Warner Brothers HS 3504) the question always was "Why was this not released immediately upon its completion?" The music is certainly up there with Evans' best on record and on a more... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl