He went on to make more completely satisfying albums but this one broke the mould. Even more creative is the work of soloists such as Jackson, Byard and the amazing Mariano (later of ECM and all points east), and the unaccompanied flamenco guitar part apparently written note-for-note by Mingus himself. It’s also important to stress Brubeck’s commitment to collective invention within his group: still an unusual thing in jazz in 1959. She may later have equalled this in other settings, but here the gauntlet was well and truly thrown down. With an active critical fraternity already analysing the music’s every move, by the time records such as Saxophone Colossus turned up in 1956, the ability of a record to influence the entire direction of the music came centre stage. (BP), Feature Thelonious Monk: essential recordings, Rollins (ts), Tommy Flanagan (p), Doug Watkins (b) and Max Roach (d). Vive le difference, we say… (KS), Feature: Wayne Shorter – Music of the Spheres, Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) (ss, kys, p), Gary Chandler (t), Malindi Blyth Mbityana, Craig Harris (tb), Carlos Ward (as), Jeff Jaywarrah King, Dwayne Armstrong (ts), Kenny Rogers (bs), Lawrence Lucie (bjo), Cecil McBee (b), Miguel Pomier and Andre Strobert (d, perc). Taking ages old Swedish folk melodies from Svenska Låtar and then interpreting them from a jazz perspective, Johansson’s carefully nuanced sound, the gradation of his touch, the exquisite detail of every note revealed by the meticulous recording quality captured a unique approach to jazz that has become widely influential. (JN) Reissued on Koch CD. Yes, it’s perfect, yes, it’s ambitious, yes it crosses over far from the usual jazz conceptions, yes it is couched as a suite of meditations-in-kind that give it a formal design way beyond 99 per cent of jazz albums. No wonder people listened. The 1959 disc didn’t arrive with a thunderous clap, yet four decades later, at the end of the millennium, there it was at the top of any and all “best of” lists, nudging aside so many rock, pop and hip-hop recordings. These days, you can buy the complete Parker Savoys and Dials in a lavish multiple CD set, but you get all the breakdown, alternative takes and other bits and pieces, making it a trial for all but the committed Parker enthusiast. (DH), Esbjörn Svensson (p), Dan Berglund (b) and Magnus Öström (d). This one doesn’t quite, but does it better than most, and also does it under the auspices of remastering from original 78s by John R.T. Davies, whose expertise in this area is legendary. (KS), Feature Ten of the best Louis Armstrong albums, Dolphy (f, as, b cl), Freddie Hubbard (t), Bobby Hutcherson (vb), Richard Davis (b) and Tony Williams (d). Not just another “greatest jazz albums” list of favourite recordings and biggest sellers but a fully annotated look at the albums that actually changed jazz, changed lives and brought the music kicking and screaming into the new millennium. The best reviewed Jazz Albums compilation includes 20 Albums that received scores averaging over 85% from critics in the US, UK and worldwide, and that could be considered essential additions to any serious Jazz fans collection. So in a decade when the leitmotif was change, it’s arguable that Bitches Brew was the album that shook the music world up most. (KS), Review Miles Davis – Sketches Of Spain (50th Anniversary Edition) ★★★★★, Getz (ts), Roy Haynes (d), chamber string group and Hershey Kay (cond). Some of the charts wear better than others, but the overall feel is timeless. This one went even further – India threw open the floodgates to the east in jazz, while ‘Impressions’ is 14 minutes of solid gold inspiration from Trane and Elvin. Inspired by Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)’ there’s even a tribute track on it called ‘Sly’. Intoxicating music played by masters makes this an era-defining milestone. Four For Trane demonstrates not only a shift in allegiance to Coltrane but a real gift for arrangement and a thoroughly original approach to his own playing at a time when everyone was copying Trane or Rollins. Undiluted precedent-breaking music from Parker, aided and abetted by the best and most sympathetic colleagues of the day. The great man himself knew that this album was a culmination rather than a new beginning, but that probably accounts for its consummate artistry as much as any other reason: Coltrane was the most thorough of players. Rec. All that plus Joao’s wife Astrud as a last minute show stealer and you have a classic on your hands. (KS), Peter Brötzmann (ts, bar s), Evan Parker, Willem Breuker (ts), Fred Van Hove (p), Peter Kowald, Buschi Niebergall (b), Han Bennink and Sven Johansson (d). This is jazz, rhythm and electricity writ large in a tumbling roller coaster of ideas. With the benefit of extra CD space we get treated to two extra takes of ‘Tea For Two’, giving us an object lesson in how Powell developed his material as well as maintaining his incredible improvisational creativity. Helped by a cast that included Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy and Bill Evans, Nelson delivered a set of profound meditations on the blues (including ‘Stolen Moments’) and then backed that up by playing the tenor saxophone with such force and inventiveness that he stood as an equal with the heavyweights listed above. 1969. Essentially the Miles Davis Quintet of the day with Hubbard pinch hitting for Davis (and playing as well as he would at any point of career) it contained two Hancock originals that would assume quickly the status of jazz standards. 1925-1930, If Jelly Roll Morton represents the high water of New Orleans polyphony through his Red Hot Peppers recordings of around this same time, Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Sevens reach out into the music’s future by allowing the incredible improvisatory genius of Armstrong to reach its first outrageous flowering. Rec. All the Tatum Clefs and Verves are now available on Granz’s last-owned label, Pablo. With Benny Golson and Bobby Timmons supplying hard bop anthems such as the title tune, ‘Along Came Betty’ and ‘Blues March’, and the front line soloists refining their long, elaborate post-bop lines into the shorter and more pithy soul-based hard bop lines of the late 1950s, this Blakey band, and this Blakey album, defined soul jazz. Albums became an increasingly important way for musicians to communicate with the wider world beyond the smoke and limitations of the night club circuit. Rec. Nestled in a sympathetic small-group setting, Sassy simply blossoms into an overwhelmingly seductive artist whose complete abandonment to her own idea of line and sound gives the listener a level of ecstatic pleasure delivered only by – well, by Sassy, Ella and Billie, truth be told. Rec. 1959, I don’t know what it was about Ornette that led record company executives to go for the overkill on the album names, but by the time Atlantic released this, the altoist’s debut on the label, he’d already had albums on Contemporary called Something Else!!!! This set, first pulled together on vinyl in the 1960s and re-jigged many times on LP and CD since, preserves the best of a truly great big band and its leader. 1926-28, As with Sidney Bechet, it’s devilishly hard to find a single compilation of Morton that covers all the essentials. My own introduction to Kind of Blue took place in 1976, a time when my teenage ears were filled with post-Woodstock rock, and the first bursts of punk. It was only later that his musical forms were grasped and understood. For 40 minutes you could believe, if you wanted to. Gil Evans (p, arr, comp) with, among others, Johnny Coles, Ernie Royal, Thad Jones, Bernie Glow (t), Frank Rehak, Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Julius Watkins, Bob Northern (Fr h), Bill Barber (tba), Steve Lacy (ss), Eric Dolphy (f, as, bcl), Wayne Shorter (ts), Garvin Bushell, Jerome Richardson (reeds), Kenny Burrell (g), Milt Hinton, Paul Chambers, Gary Peacock, Ron Carter (b) and Elvin Jones (d). Rec. As Jelly Roll Morton had shown 50 years earlier, sometimes the best comes from a truly group effort. Add to that ‘Little One’, previously recorded by Davis on ESP, and you have the concept album to end all concept albums. 8 May 1965, Tracey is indispensable, a one-man mission statement. 1959, Brubeck rarely gets his due. Be that as it may, Out To Lunch represents another side of the Dolphy genius, showing him as a musician-leader intent on involving his entire group in the improvisatory process at every level and at all times. (KS), Sanders (ts) Leon Thomas (v, perc), James Spaulding (fl), Julius Watkins (Fr hn), Lonnie Liston Smith (p), Richard Davis, Reggie Workman, Ron Carter (b), Freddie Waits, William Hart (d) and Nathaniel Betis (perc).

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