Max Roach & Anthony Braxton – One in Two, Two in One (1979)
Track Listing:
1. One in Two Two in One, Pt. 1
2. One in Two Two in One, Pt. 2

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
The second of two duet albums by drummer Max Roach and multi-reedist Anthony Braxton was recorded live and released on this two-LP set; this is the more interesting of the two projects since it is a nearly 78-minute continual improvisation. Braxton gets to stretch out on alto, soprano, sopranino, contra bass clarinet (which really gets a monstrous sound), clarinet, and flute. With Roach pushing Braxton, the results are quite adventurous, yet full of joy. Followers of avant-garde jazz can consider this set to be essential.

Dewey Redman & Ed Blackwell – In Willisau (1980)
Track Listing:
1. Willisee
2. We Hope
3. F I
4. Communication
5. S 126 T

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
Review Tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman and drummer Ed Blackwell had first met up in the late '60s in Ornette Coleman's band and later on as half of Old And New Dreams. This set of live duets from the Willisau '80 Jazz Festival succeeds due to Redman's huge sound, Blackwell's colorful rhythms, and the close interplay between the two. Redman's musette playing on "We Hope" is an acquired taste, but otherwise, his tenor playing is heard in top form on his originals, particularly "Communication" and "Willisee," which clock in at just over 14 minutes apiece. Although some listeners will miss the usual chordal instruments (and particularly the bass), this combination works.


The Poll Winners – Exploring the Scene (1960)
Track Listing:
1. Little Susie
2. The Duke
3. So What
4. Misty
5. Doodlin’
6. The Golden Striker
7. Li’l Darlin’
8. The Blessing
9. This Here

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
For one of their better outings, The Poll Winners (guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Shelly Manne) perform nine fairly recent jazz standards. It is ironic that this is their only release not yet reissued on CD, since it may very well be their strongest program. The trio performs creative versions of such songs as "Little Susie," "So What," "Doodlin'," "This Here," and Ornette Coleman's "The Blessing." Worth searching for.

Sonny Simmons – Staying on the Watch (1966)
Track Listing:
1. Metamorphosis
2. A Distant Voice
3. City of David
4. Interplanetary Travelers

Review by Alex Henderson at Allmusic:
Sonny Simmons, whose work with flutist Prince Lasha had put him on the map in West Coast avant-garde jazz circles, had an important year in 1966. That was the year the alto saxophonist recorded Staying on the Watch, his first album as a full-fledged leader; Lasha and  Simmons had been co-leaders on 1962's The Cry!, but on this session, Simmons is the only one in the driver's seat. Not surprisingly, Simmons recorded Staying on the Watch for ESP-Disk, which reissued the album on CD in 2010. ESP's reputation for being cutting-edge is well deserved -- while Impulse! could be quite daring where experimental jazz was concerned, ESP was downright fearless -- and Simmons' playing is delightfully uninhibited and free-spirited on four original compositions: "Metamorphosis," "A Distance Voice," "City of David," and "Interplanetary Travelers." That isn't to say that Staying on the Watch is an exercise in atonal chaos; Simmons' performances aren't as extreme as the free jazz that John Coltrane was offering in 1966. This is inside/outside playing (more outside than inside) rather than absolute atonality from start to finish. But even so, there is a lot of intensity coming from Simmons and the four musicians who form an acoustic quintet with him: trumpeter Barbara Donald (Simmons' wife at the time), pianist John Hicks, bassist Teddy Smith, and percussionist Marvin Pattillo. Density prevails on Staying on the Watch, and density is the thing that can make one avant-garde jazz recording a lot more jarring than another. If one compares Staying on the Watch to AACM icon and fellow altoist Roscoe Mitchell's Sound -- another historic avant-garde album that was recorded in 1966 -- it isn't hard to see why this 44-minute CD is more intense. For all its abstraction, the innovative and highly influential Sound emphasized the use of space and was a departure from the density that had characterized so much avant-garde jazz in the early to mid-‘60s. Simmons and Mitchell were alto explorers who had two different left-of-center visions in 1966, one just as valid as the other -- and Simmons' recording career as a leader was off to an exciting start with Staying on the Watch.


Wayne Shorter – Supernova (1969)
Track Listing:
1. Supernova
2. Sweet Pea
3. Dindi
4. Water Babies
5. Capricorn
6. More Than Human

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
This CD reissue brings back an important transitional album for tenor-saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Doubling on soprano (which he had recently begun playing), Shorter interprets five of his originals (including "Water Babies" which had been recorded previously by Miles Davis) and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi." He definitely used a forward-looking group of sidemen for his "backup band" includes guitarists John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock, Walter Booker (normally a bassist) on classical guitar for "Dindi," bassist Miroslav Vitous, both Jack DeJohnette and Chick Corea (!) on drums and percussionist Airto; Maria Booker takes a vocal on the touching version of "Dindi." The influence of Miles Davis' early fusion period is felt throughout the music but there is nothing derivative about the often-surprising results. As with Wayne Shorter's best albums, this set rewards repeated listenings.

Billy Bang & Dennis Charles – Bangception (1982)
Track Listing:
1. Air Traffic Control
2. Lonely Woman
3. Thelonious
4. Closer to the Flower
5. Know Your Enemy

Review by Thom Jurek at Allmusic:
This 1982 date by violinist Billy Bang (previously with Ronald Shannon Jackson & the Decoding Society) and the late drummer Denis Charles is, for lack of a better term, a full frontal attack on the senses. In his liner notes, Art Lange makes the case for Bang being the focal point of this recording. That's fair enough, considering that his name is first and it's kinda named after him, but Lange, in this very rare case, misses the point. Bang's phrasing in the opening improvisation "Air Traffic Control" comes right out of Charles' opening solo. Charles' rolls and stuttered rim shots grant Bang a passageway into his own beginning. Later in the track when Charles is slashing his cymbals and Bang is sawing through chords to match the dynamic, it becomes obvious just how much a collaboration this set is. When Bang cues up Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," again, it's the hushed cymbal and brushes work of Charles that opens a dimensional door for Bang's idiosyncratic read of the melody. Charles punctuates it in all the right spaces, keeping the framework of the tune from disappearing into the improvisation. And so it goes, with this pair crisscrossing back and forth over the great divide of improvisational phraseology. Charles' tone on the drums is low, not thunderous but like rolling thunder in the distance; his brushwork is blinding and full of control.  Bang literally invented a method of playing the new music on violin. His phrasing and improvisational ideas are sometimes outrageously childlike and simple and in the next moment as wily and complex as you are likely to hear in Western harmony. And while it is true that this is a skeletal set, as full of space as it is "music," it is very satisfying nonetheless.


Albert Ayler – Music is the Healing Force of the Universe (1969)
Track Listing:
1. Music is the Healing Force of the
2. Masonic Inborn, Pt. 1
3. A Man is Like a Tree
4. Oh! Love of Life
5. Island Harvest
6. Drudgery

Review by Al Campbell at Allmusic:
Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe is a powerful and often ignored recording from the Albert Ayler catalog. It is a prophetic statement dealing with guilt, confusion, sorrow, and hopes of redemption. A powerful rhythm section of Bobby Few on piano, Stafford James and James Folwell on bass, (Folwell on electric fender bass), and Muhammad Ali on drums manage to take a backseat to the prominent vocals of Ayler's business associate and girlfriend Mary Parks, listed on the record as Mary Maria. Her emotional vocals are featured on "Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe," "Man Is Like a Tree," and "Island Harvest." Throughout these tracks Maria sounds as if she is pleading and reasoning not just universally, but directly with Ayler, trying to convince him of the positive aspects of life and her evangelistic shouts of "be healed" on the title track can prove uncomfortable. "Masonic Inborn" is an instrumental track finding Ayler not only overdubbing cacophonous bagpipe solos but also playing ocarina. "Oh Love Is Life" is Ayler's sole vocal performance on the album, his words and vocal delivery are truly frightening. This is a dreamlike plea to the sources haunting his soul to succumb to universal love. Following the intensity of the previous five tracks, the album closes with the hazy gutbucket blues of "Drudgery" reminiscent of the New Grass sessions, adding guitarist Henry Vestine of the blues rock band Canned Heat. Ayler's musical curtain was eerily closing the same way it started -- playing the blues of his high school summer vacations as a member of Little Walter's band. Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe, along with tracks that were released posthumously on The Last Album, were recorded at the same session. While not easy listening, they complete an important portrait of a man facing a life and death inner struggle beyond the boundaries of jazz. The inevitable outcome culminated on November 25, 1970, when Ayler's drowned body was found floating in New York's East River. Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe was reissued for the first time on CD by Verve in March 2003.

Sonny Fortune – Awakening (1975)
Track Listing:
1. Triple Threat
2. Nommo
3. Sunshower
4. For Duke and Cannon
5. Awakening

Review by Vincent Thomas at Allmusic:
Sonny Fortune's second LP as a leader is an adequate set of mostly straight-ahead jazz, which sets it apart from many of his fusion-venturing peers of the '70s. With a slate of expert, professional sidemen (Billy Hart, John Hicks, Reggie Workman, Charles Sullivan, etc.), Awakening never amazes, but it also never disappoints. Fortune, as usual, offers several spirited solos, while his cohorts incessantly swing. Straight-ahead jazz fans will appreciate this yeoman set.


Dexter Gordon – Go! (1962)
Track Listing:
1. Cheese Cake
2. I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out
    to Dry
3. Second Balcony Jump
4. Love for Sale
5. Where Are You?
6. Three O’Clock in the Morning

Review by Stacia Proefrock at Allmusic:
From the first moments when Dexter Gordon sails into the opening song full of brightness and confidence, it is obvious that Go! is going to be one of those albums where everything just seems to come together magically. A stellar quartet including the stylish pianist Sonny Clark, the agile drummer Billy Higgins, and the solid yet flexible bassist Butch Warren are absolutely crucial in making this album work, but it is still Gordon who shines. Whether he is dropping quotes into "Three O'Clock in the Morning" or running around with spritely bop phrases in "Cheese Cake," the album pops and crackles with energy and exuberance. Beautiful ballads like "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" metamorphosize that energy into emotion and passion, but you can still see it there nonetheless. Gordon had many high points in his five decade-long career, but this is certainly the peak of it all.

George Russell Sextet – The Outer View (1962)
Track Listing:
1. Au Privave
2. Zig-Zag
3. The Outer View
4. The Outer View
5. You Are My Sunshine
6. D.C. Divertimento

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
Composer George Russell's early-'60s Riverside recordings are among his most accessible. For this set (the CD reissue adds an alternate take of the title cut to the original program), Russell and his very impressive sextet (which is comprised of trumpeter Don Ellis, trombonist Garnett Brown, Paul Plummer on tenor, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Pete La Roca) are challenged by the complex material; even Charlie Parker's blues "Au Privave" is transformed into something new. It is particularly interesting to hear Don Ellis this early in his career. The most famous selection, a very haunting version of "You Are My Sunshine," was singer Sheila Jordan's debut on records.


Dizzy Reece – Blues in Trinity (1958)
Track Listing:
1. Blues in Trinity
2. I Had the Craziest Dream
3. Close-Up
4. Shepherd’s Serenade
5. Color Blind
6. ‘Round About Midnight
7. Eboo
8. Just a Penny

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine at Allmusic:
As Dizzy Reece's first album for Blue Note, Blues in Trinity goes a long way to establish the trumpeter's signature sound. Reece doesn't take chances stylistically; he prefers to stay within the confines of hard bop. Nevertheless, he has a bold, forceful sound that simply burns with passion. Even on slower numbers, there's a fire to his playing that keeps Blues in Trinity from being predictable. The high quality of the album is even more impressive given the recording circumstances. The English-based Reece was playing in Paris at the time, and he assembled a sextet featuring the vacationing British musicians Tubby Hayes (tenor saxophone) and Terry Shannon (piano), visiting American stars Donald Byrd (trumpet) and Art Taylor (drums), and Canadian bassist Lloyd Thompson, who was playing in Paris with Zoot Sims. Although the band was thrown together, there's a definite spark to this combo, which interacts as if it had been playing together for a long time. Throughout it all, Reece steals the show with his robust playing, and that's why Blues in Trinity rises above the level of standard-issue hard bop and becomes something special.

Anthony Williams – Life Time (1964)
Track Listing:
1. Two Pieces of One: Red
2. Two Pieces of One: Green
3. Tomorrow Afternoon
4. Memory
5. Barb’s Song to the Wizard

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
Drummer Tony Williams' first recording as a leader (made when he was 18 and still billed as Anthony Williams) gave him an opportunity to utilize an advanced group of musicians: tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Herbie Hancock, and both Richard Davis and Gary Peacock on bass. Williams wrote all four of the pieces and has a different combination of players on each song. The freely improvised "Memory" features Hutcherson, Hancock, and Williams in some colorful and at times spacy interplay; "Barb's Song to the Wizard" is a Hancock-Ron Carter duet; "Tomorrow Afternoon" has Rivers, Peacock and Williams in a trio; and all of the musicians (except Hutcherson) are on the sidelong "2 Pieces of One." The unpredictable music holds one's interest; a very strong debut for the masterful drummer.


Ernie Henry - Presenting Ernie Henry (1956)
Track Listing:
1. Gone With the Wind
2. Orient
3. Free Flight
4. Checkmate
5. Active Ingredients
6. I Should Care
7. Cleo’s Chant

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
Altoist Ernie Henry's first of three sessions as a leader, all of which were made within 16 months of his premature death, served as a strong debut. Joined by trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Art Taylor, Henry -- who always had a distinctive tone -- performs five of his boppish originals, plus "Gone With the Wind" and "I Should Care." Throughout the date, Henry hints strongly at the great potential he had. This set has thus far only been reissued by the OJC series on LP.

McCoy Tyner – Expansions (1968)
Track Listing:
1. Vision
2. Song of Happiness
3. Smitty’s Place
4. Peresina
5. I Thought I’d Let You Know

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
Of pianist McCoy Tyner's seven Blue Note albums of the 1967-1970 period,
Expansions is the most definitive. Tyner's group (comprised of trumpeter Woody Shaw, altoist Gary Bartz, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter on cello, bassist Herbie Lewis, and drummer Freddie Waits) is particularly strong, the compositions (four Tyner originals plus Calvin Massey's "I Thought I'd Let You Know") are challenging, and the musicians seem quite inspired by each other's presence. The stimulating music falls between advanced hard bop and the avant-garde, pushing and pulling at the boundaries of modern mainstream jazz.


John Lee Hooker (1917), blues singer and guitarist, came from a cotton-sharecropping family.  He learned the blues from his stepfather and various visiting Delta bluesmen, constructing his first instrument from strings made of rubber inner tube nailed to a barn. He left home at 14, sang with gospel groups, and ultimately moved to Detroit in 1943.  Hooker made his first recording, the rhythm and blues hit "Boogie Chillun" in 1948.  Accompanying himself on electric guitar, he recorded more than 100 albums, mainly of slow blues or fast boogies, and toured throughout the United States.  After Hooker was "discovered" by the white blues-rockers of the 1960s, he recorded with several rock musicians and influenced a generation of players and singers.  After a fifty year career of remarkable staying power and flexibility, Hooker entered the period of his greatest popularity and influence after his 70th birthday.  He again reached a wide public with his albums The Healer (1989) and Don't Look Back (1997).  He won three Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.  Hooker fell ill just before a tour of Europe in 2001 and died in June 21st at the age of 83, two months before his 84th birthday.


The Modern Jazz Quartet – Pyramid (1959)
Track Listing:
1. Vendome
2. Pyramid (Blues for Junior)
3. It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got
      that Swing)
4. Django
5. How High the Moon
6. Romaine

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
This is a strong recording from the Modern Jazz Quartet, with inventive versions of John Lewis' "Vendome," Ray Brown's "Pyramid," Jim Hall's "Romaine," and Lewis' famous "Django," along with cooking jams on "How High the Moon" and "It Don't Mean a Thing." The MJQ had become a jazz institution by this time, but they never lost their creative edge, and their performances (even on the remakes) are quite stimulating, enthusiastic, and fresh.


Herbie Mann – Memphis Underground (1969)
Track Listing:
1. Memphis Underground
2. New Orleans
3. Hold On, I’m Comin’
4. Chain of Fools
5. Battle Hymn of the Republic

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
Herbie Mann has always been open to new trends in his music. For this 1969 studio session, he and three other top soloists (vibraphonist Roy Ayers and guitarists Larry Coryell and Sonny Sharrock) went down to Memphis and combined their talents with a topnotch local rhythm section. The music effectively mixes R&B and country rhythms with the lead jazz voices, although the material, which includes "Memphis Underground," "Hold On! I'm Comin'," and "Chain of Fools," is rather weak.

Charlie Haden – The Golden Number (1976)
Track Listing:
1. Out of Focus
2. Shepp’s Way
3. Turnaround
4. Golden Number

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
The second of two duet sets by bassist Charlie Haden (both have been reissued on A&M CDs) is the equal of the first. Haden teams up with Don Cherry (on trumpet and flutes), tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp (for the excellent "Shepp's Way"), pianist Hampton Hawes (jamming Ornette Coleman's blues "Turnaround"), and Ornette himself, who unfortunately plays trumpet this time around. In general, the music is quite intriguing and has its share of variety.



Miles Davis – Bitches Brew (1969)
Track Listing:
Pharoah’s Dance
Bitches Brew
Spanish Key
John McLaughlin
Miles Runs the Voodoo Down
Feio [added to CD reissue]

Review by Thom Jurek at Allmusic:
Thought by many to be among the most revolutionary albums in jazz history, Miles Davis' Bitches Brew solidified the genre known as jazz-rock fusion. The original double LP included only six cuts and featured up to 12 musicians at any given time, some of whom were already established while others would become high-profile players later, Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Airto, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Don Alias, Bennie Maupin, Larry Young, and Lenny White among them. Originally thought to be a series of long jams locked into grooves around keyboard, bass, or guitar vamps, Bitches Brew is actually a recording that producer Teo Macero assembled from various jams and takes by razor blade, splice to splice, section to section. "Pharaoh's Dance" opens the set with its slippery trumpet lines, McLaughlin's snaky guitar figures skirting the edge of the rhythm section and Don Alias' conga slipping through the middle. Corea and Zawinul's keyboards create a haunted, riffing modal groove, echoed and accented by the basses of Harvey Brooks and Holland. The title cut was originally composed as a five-part suite, though only three were used. Here the keyboards punch through the mix and big chords ring up distorted harmonics for Davis to solo rhythmically over, outside the mode. McLaughlin's comping creates a vamp, and the bass and drums carry the rest.  It's a small taste of the deep voodoo funk that would appear on Davis' later records. Side three opens with McLaughlin and Davis trading fours and eights over a lockstep hypnotic vamp on "Spanish Key." Zawinul's lyric sensibility provides a near chorus for Corea to flit around in; the congas and drummers juxtapose themselves against the basslines. It nearly segues into the brief "John McLaughlin," featuring an organ playing modes below arpeggiated blues guitar runs. The end of Bitches Brew, signified by the stellar "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," reflects the influence of Jimi Hendrix with its chunky, slipped chords and Davis playing a ghostly melody through the funkiness of the rhythm section. It seemingly dances, becoming increasingly more chaotic until it nearly disintegrates before shimmering into a loose foggy nadir. The disc closes with "Sanctuary," completely redone here as a moody electric ballad that was reworked for this band while keeping enough of its integrity to be recognizable. Bitches Brew is so forward-thinking that it retains its freshness and mystery in the 21st century. [The CD version adds "Feio," recorded in early 1970 with much of the same band.]
    is a historical timeline for birthdays of blues and jazz artists and jazz album recording dates.  As our research progresses, we'll add more categories.  Look for updates each week, normally Mondays through Fridays, when we find something to share.


    October 2012
    September 2012
    August 2012