Friday, 31 July 2009

Mark Allen - Every Little Breeze

Sweet Georgia Brown

The Lady Is A Tramp

Every Little Breeze

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from T-bow (no cat#)

Totally obscure private press recording of some straight-up jazz with a boppish flavour by saxophonist Mark Allen. Actually, it's more of a collaboration between Allen, the Aurèle Lecompte Trio ca. '78 and the duo of Joe Turner and Robin Moir. In the local region it usually sells for anywhere from $5-$10 but elsewhere in the country and internationally it seems to fetch $50 or more, as is often the case with private press albums. Unfortunately, I couldn't dig up any info on Mark Allen himself and his exceptionally commonplace name wasn't much help, so I gave up my pursuit after a few weeks of dead ends. Apparently the only release by T-Bow Records, there's no other reference to the label name outside of this album.

It was a bit easier to find some info on Aurèle Lecompte since he's still active on the supper club circuit and was holding down resident duties as recently as last year, performing at chi-chi resto gigs in Ottawa and the adjacent Gatineau region of Québéc. There's scant biographical info available, limited to a mention of him having played with Louis Armstrong and Liberace and reference to a position at the Ottawa office of Radio-Canada in the 70s. Recently he's worked often with québécoise chanteuse Jo Bocan, particularly at the upscale St-Estèphe Restaurant and they accompanied its master chef, Stéphane Paquet, to Nice in France for a special cultural exchange event in 2006. According to Tom Lord's extensive Jazz Discography, Lecompte has two performance credits from 1978 but I can't find hide nor hair of the other. The standards "Lullabye Of Birdland," "For All We Know" and "Lady Is A Tramp" are basically showcases for the trio since they lack participation by Allen, Turner or Moir.

Bassist Gilles Champagne had a few other credits in the local Ottawa music scene including a stint in the Orpheus Theatre orchestra in 1979, where he was listed as an organist in the production credits along with drummer Robb. Champagne appears to have ended up at one of the hippie havens of the Canadian West Coast, Saltspring Island (a major source of BC Bud) where he popped up as a member of local classic rock cover band Lookinglass sometime in the mid-90s. Since then he's been replaced by another bassist and seems to have dropped off the map.

Glenn Robb is still very active member of the jazz scene in his native Ottawa, regularly playing drums at the supper clubs of both the Monterey Inn Resort and Villa Lucia as part of various trios (The Monterey, Jazz'oo and Art Lawless Trios to name three) and he gigs weekly with his band Magnolia Rhythm Kings. In his 40+ year career, he's performed on many Canadian TV and film soundtracks and has shared the stage with legends such as Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, Bud Shank, and Cab Calloway as well as holding membership in the orchestras of Ron Milne, Ken Campbell, Gerry Heike and Champ Champagne.

When it comes to the husband-wife team of music moguls Joe Turner and Robin Moir, however, there's no shortage of info on them or their many projects. Cutting their teeth in Ottawa with a party band called Fizz, they've branched out and built a veritable empire with Isle of Skye Productions that includes a bustling recording studio, music publishing business, artist management, broadcasting and not one but three party bands: The Jaguars, Moetown and the Fifth Avenue band. This album captures them at a relatively young age and early stage in their career and the vocal tracks "Lush Life" and "Little Girl Blue" portray Moir's talent as an interpretive vocalist.

Mark Allen - sax, clarinet
Aurèle Lecompte - piano
Gilles Champagne - bass
Glenn Robb - drums
Joe Turner - guitar
Robin Moir - vocals

1 Petite Fleur
2 Lush Life
3 You Light Up My Life & I Can't Get Started
4 Lullabye Of Birdland
5 Sweet Georgia Brown
6 Send In The Clowns/Michelle/Like Someone In Love
7 Lady Is A Tramp
8 Little Girl Blue
9 For All We Know
10 Louise

Shoot the breeze with Soundological HERE or HERE.

Update: Forgot to mention that the album was produced by Gene Perla, who will be here in Montreal at the venerable Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill this weekend, August 7th & 8th, with Al McClean, Andre White and Dave Lang.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Teo Macero - Time Plus Seven

T.C.'s Groove

Time Plus Seven

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Finnadar SR 9024

Teo Macero is a name to which most readers of this blog should need no introduction: producer of landmark works such as Miles' Kind of Blue, Mingus' Mingus Ah Um , Monk's Monk's Dream and Brubeck's Time Out as well as one of the earliest, and most recognisable, proponents of Third Stream music. This historical document captures him while still a rising star and since gallons of ink have already been put to paper when it comes to this album, I'll leave you with a small sampling of same...

For starter's, here's what Dr. Progresso has to say in his excellent review of The Best of Teo Macero (the middle paragraph is transcribed from the liner notes on the back cover):
In 1978 Macero began work on his second (!) album, released in 1979 on Finnadar, a subsidiary of Atlantic/WEA. TIME PLUS SEVEN (SR 9024) did not represent any new recordings by Macero, but released for the first first time his 1963 recording of the title suite, "Seven," "Equals," "Time," and "Plus."

"This composition was commissioned by the Rebecca Harkness Dance Company, then directed by Robert Joffrey. 'Time Plus Seven' was choreographed by Anna Sokolow in 1963. ... Anyway, here it is, World Premiere 'Time Plus Seven' recorded at CBS's 30th Street Studio in New York, 1963. Fred Plaut was the engineer. I was the conductor. I wish I could find the contract which listed the personnel, but can't. To the great musicians who recorded this composition, my apology for not listing them and my everlasting gratitude for giving me a great performance."

The piece is starkly atonal, and not unlike the much shorter "Pressure," written for Orchestra U.S.A two years later. Thus it is hardly coincidental that side one of this LP is finished off with that recording of "Pressure." Side two of this LP reissues Macero's side one of WHAT'S NEW?, bringing it back into print on LP after fourteen years.

AMG Review by Ken Dryden
Teo Macero is likely to be known to the average jazz fan for his work as a producer of others' records, though he is also a composer, tenor saxophonist and conductor. This compilation LP released by Finnadar in 1978 collects music from three separate sessions. "Time Plus Seven" was a commissioned ballet and clearly falls into Third Stream music, though the delay added to the saxophones comes across a bit lame. Sadly, none of the personnel are confirmed due to the loss of the record contracts, though Clark Terry seems likely as the trumpeter in "Time."

The work "Pressure," which first appeared on the John Lewis' Orchestra U.S.A. release Sonorities, is an atonal work that sounds like music for an overblown mystery. Of more interest are the advanced compositions from a 1955 session, especially "Neally" and "T.C.'s Groove," which mix jazz soloists like Art Farmer, Eddie Bert and John LaPorta with the bizarre but catchy accordion of Orlando Digirolamo. Ernestine Anderson provides the overdubbed voices in "Sounds of May," though the tape has been manipulated to make it sound like a male chorus. This LP quickly disappeared from print, though all of this music was reissued on the Stash CD The Best of Teo Macero, which is also no longer available.

Dusty Groove Review
Some wonderful slices of 50s modern jazz -- work recorded under the leadership of Teo Macero, who was best known as a producer for Columbia during their glory days in the jazz business, but who was also a budding young genius in the years before then! The set features a handful of tracks from Teo's early What's New album for Columbia, plus a track from an Orchestra USA session, along with the side-long, previously-unreleased "Time Plus Seven", an extended jazz ballet suite. Macero's approach is a blend here of both third stream styles and some of the New York whimsy of players like Gil Melle at the same time -- and titles include "Pressure", "Neally", "Adventure", "TC's Groove", and "Sounds Of May".

Finnadar was founded by Atlantic records engineer/producer Ilhan Mimaroglu as an outlet for his left-field leaning proclivities, with an emphasis on the burgeoning electronica movement of the era. Here's a very interesting interview with him
recorded on October 10, 1975 that covers the label's inception (courtesy of the Internet Archive).

Teo Macero - Tenor Sax (3,4,5,6,7,8)
George Barrow - Baritone Sax (3,4,7)
Eddie Bert - Trombone (3,4,7)
Don Butterfield - Tuba (3,4,7)
Art Farmer - Trumpet (3,4,7)
John LaPorta - Clarinet, Alto Sax (3,4,5,6,7,8)
Orlando DiGirolamo - Accordion (3,4,5,6,7,8)
Wendell Marshall - Bass (3,4,5,6,7,8)
Ed Shaughnessy - Drums (3,4,5,6,7,8)
Mal Waldron - Piano (6,8)
Ernestine Anderson - Vocals (8)
Orchestra U.S.A. (2)

1 Time Plus Seven: Seven/Equals/Time/Plus
2 Pressure
3 Neally
4 Adventure
5 Heart on My Sleeve
6 24+ 18+
7 T.C.'s Groove
8 Sounds of May

Take the time to add it up with Soundological HERE or HERE.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Manu Dibango - Manu Dibango 1971-1978 (aka Collection Blanche)


Besoka On Salsa

Manu Dibango 1971-1978 (aka Collection Blanche)


256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Festival ALB 365

If you've already grabbed all the available releases from Dibango's discography post at Soundological, this collection still holds five exclusive treats for you: "Rencontre," "Soukouss," "Besoka On Salsa," "Biso" and "Idiba." None of them appear on any of the albums linked in that discog and since it is the single most-visited post at S.I.,
offering it here seemed a pretty simple way to make at least a few folks happy! Hopefully it also helps E-mile on his (relatively) new mix series, Africa Calling. If you like music from the mother continent, check out all four volumes!

Of most interest to Dibango fans are the rare tracks "Biso" and "Idiba" which have not made other compilations and are otherwise only available on the 1971 album Soma Loba or the Festival repressing of that LP from the same year, simply called Manu Dibango. As such, they pre-date the afrobeat direction and are more along the lines of the rhumba/souk sound popular in the region during the late 60s and early 70s.

Some of the other rarities
not appearing on the discog post include "Rencontre" and "Soukouss," both from the Accord collection Soul Makossa released in 1985. The latter (along with "Besoka On Salsa") are otherwise only available on b-sides of singles or, appropriately enough, on the 2002 collection B-Sides, released by Dibango's own Soul Makossa records.

1 Soul Makossa
2 Kata Kata
3 Rencontre
4 Soukouss
5 Besoka On Salsa
6 Touba
7 Hibicus
8 Biso
9 Idiba
10 Wasa N'dolo
11 Nights In Zeralda
12 Oa Na Mba
13 Lakisane
14 Wild Man In The City

Soundological's Manu mission continues with part I HERE or HERE and part II HERE or HERE.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Donald Byrd & Booker Little - The Third World

The Third World

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from TCB 1004

Inspired by its omission from Blaxploitation Jive's recent Donald Byrd discography post, I thought I'd thank SelfScience, Simon and the crew for all the effort they put into the Jive by posting this gem especially for them. All told, it's not a bad collection of latin-tinged hard-bop and soul-jazz from some of the giants in the genre and it contains the popular upbeat track Wee Tina which has been sampled by the likes of Beatnuts and Pete Rock.

Wee Tina

vs. Beatnuts Props over Here & Pete Rock w/ Deda Originate

This is a dodgy early 70s re-issue of The Soul Of Jazz Percussion, originally recorded & released in 1960 by the long-defunct Warwick records and usually credited to The All Stars or Earl Zinder/Armando Peraza in record guides. I say dodgy because this release drops a song ("Witch Fire") and, although I haven't heard the original, according to anecdotal evidence TCB messed up the stereo mix and poorly edited the tracks, apparently even truncated a song or two in the process. It also has inconsistent labeling; "Ping Bong Beer" is called "Ping Pong," "All Alone (Quite Temple)" is simply called "Quiet Temple" and the label title is "Music of the Third World" while the front cover uses "The Third World."

Worst of all, there are no liner notes whatsoever and personnel info is sorely lacking with no compositional credits given at all.
Outside of each song's publisher, no copyright notices are included, contributing to the mystery of the year of its issue. Early 70s seems as definitive as it gets, although for years I was under the impression it was '74 but can't find anything concrete to support that. In other words, it sure smells like a bootleg. Perhaps copyright oversight is the reason a version of his album with the same title was released twice on CD in 2000 and 2005 by bargain-basement brand Collectables.

The original release, which by all accounts is a superlative listening experience, was put out on CD-only in 1996 and 2004 by Spanish jazz re-issue label Fresh Sounds under its original Warwick title. Being listed as "temporarily out of stock" on the label's website would seem to indicate it's OOP now. From what I can suss, the 1996 reissue was distributed by EMI since it also has an EMI catalogue number (#351496) but it appears as FS are taking care of their own distribution these days.
Good luck finding an original vinyl copy of the Warwick that's both affordable and listenable.

Back to the "dodgy" statement... Although there are a good half-dozen jazz labels named TCB (most from Europe), there is practically no info on this particular company
and with only six releases (as far as I could find) it seems a shady operation at best. The entirety of their releases were culled from the defunct Warwick catalogue, as if someone got their hands on a few masters or acetates for a handful of sessions and decided to make hay while the sun shone. In fact, for all intents and purposes, every album in the series is practically a repackaging of a Warwick album released over a decade earlier.

All except for the Billie Holiday album, The One and Only Lady Sings The Blues, that is. She never recorded for Warwick and that one's a compilation of
live recordings made over the years for TV and film. The Billie Holiday Discography, which lists it as released by Musidisc and displays an ever-so-slightly altered cover but identical track sequence, gives its year of release as 1975 and provides session dates and info for each song. One cool feature of the BHD site is its assignment of a percentile score for similar albums, for this one a compilation by another quasi-bootleg label from Europe, Festival, is almost exactly the same, right down to the title: Lady Sings The Blues. There's that smell again...

The Complete (?) TCB Discography
TCB 1001 / TCB 1002

TCB 1003 / TCB 1004

TCB 1005 / TCB 1006

TCB 1007

Gettin' It Together is available at My Jazz World and you can grab Jammin' With Herbie Hancock from the Hancock discography at Blaxploitation Jive.

Especially interesting to SI, the label seems awfully Shad-y too. For those of you who check out the shad shack or are fans of the Mainstream label, the distinctive artistic style of Jack Lonshein's covers should be instantly recognizable. Lonshein was featured in Wax Poetics a while back and the linked article, although brief, goes into a bit of the history behind his relationship with Bob Shad and the TIME and Mainstream labels. The parallels go much deeper than the surface, though.

Some of the TCB records (I can only find reference to the six above) say "editing & remixing" were done at Mercury Sound Studios, a studio where Shad was very at home and the one it's thought most of the NYC MRL sessions were recorded. Finally, all the records stick to Shad's 30-minute schedule and his modus operandi of reissuing on the cheap, perfected at EmArcy and carried through the Mainstream years, is in full effect with this mini-catalogue.

The TCB releases used Shad's creative team, one of Shad's preferred studios, Shad's budget-conscious ethos and they appeared roughly around the same time as the death of Mainstream's MRL series. It walks like a Shad, it quacks like a Shad...could it be a Shad? If he was trying to make a quick buck under the table to keep Mainstream afloat, what better way than to leverage his resources for greater profit on the grey, or black, market?

If it was his operation, it might also have been especially gratifying to cash-in on the success of certain stars signed to his competitors in the jazzfunk genre, such as Blue Note or CTI. Could the initials TCB possibly stand for Takin' Care of Bobby? It's a mystery that bears further investimigation, so if anyone has some solid leads to support these wild-eyed insinuations and somewhat baseless allegations, by all means let us know!

AMG Review
by Jim Todd
There is more -- and less -- than meets the eye with this hard bop collection from 1960: less Booker Little and more performers than are listed on the CD. A little research corroborates what the ear suspects: the eight tracks come from three sessions, only one of which has trumpeters Little and Donald Byrd together (three tracks). The other sessions feature, respectively, Little and trombonist Curtis Fuller (two tracks) and Byrd and baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams (three tracks). Adams is one of a half-dozen performers not credited on the CD.

To further confuse matters, both the session with Little and Byrd and the one with Little and Fuller have uncredited additional trumpeters -- Marcus Belgrave and Don Ellis, respectively. Suffice to say, sorting out who plays the trumpet solos is not easy. It seems, though, that Little solos only on one, possibly two, numbers. Originally, these tracks came out on a Warwick LP called Soul of Jazz Percussion. This explains the additional percussion parts -- some integrated more effectively than others -- on each of the tracks.

Overall, the Byrd/Adams tracks are the most consistent. "November Afternoon" from the Little/Fuller set and "Chasing the Bird" and "Wee Tina" from the Little/Byrd set are also okay. Even so, factor in a couple of poorly handled fadeout endings along with some mixing and editing gaffes and there is not enough here to rate a recommendation, except, perhaps, to the ardent Booker Little completist.

Dusty Groove Review
Early 70s issue of a record recorded for the Warwick label in the early 60s -- mostly led by Curtis Fuller, and under the name Soul Of Jazz Percussion. The record is a strange batch of soul jazz tracks that features a number of different groups with players like Fuller, Waldron, Little, Donald Byrd, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Pepper Adams, and others -- all playing soul jazz tracks with lots of added percussion. The percussion takes the form (mostly) of booming drumming which augments the deep grooves of the tracks. Most of the tracks on this one have been pulled together to emphasize the sound of the trumpeters -- and tracks include "Ping Pong", "November Afternoon", "Call to Arms", and "Wee Tina".

As previously intimated in Todd's review, you have to dig to get the real dope on the credits and diggin' deep is what we do here at Soundological. Below is the breakdown of personnel for the tracks, taken from Byrd and Little's respective discography pages at jazzdiscogs, along with a quick visual guide to the albums involved. There is some debate as to who performed which solos and it is suspected that Booker Little was only present, and didn't play, on one or more of the Peraza tracks.

To muddle things even further, there's mention of a Pepper Adams album released in 1963 titled Soul of Jazz Percussion but I couldn't confirm it and AMG seems to be the only ones aware of its existence. Since they have seven entries for that album alone and list it as being performed by Donald Byrd/Curtis Fuller and Curtis Fuller/Booker Little/Mal Waldron, as well as four of them being credited to Various Artists and one to The All Stars, they're obviously not quite clear themselves. BTW, there's also a completely different compilation on Riverside by the same name with absolutely no relation to these sessions which is a collection of drum solos edited from their songs. Sounds like the grand daddy of break records!

Warwick W 5003ST = FreshSounds FSCD210

TCB 1004 = Collectables 6132

TCB 1003 = Collectables 6131

Lone Hill LHJ10110 / Riverside S-8

Armando Peraza Septet (1,7,8)
Marcus Belgrave - Trumpet
Donald Byrd
- Trumpet
Booker Little - Trumpet
Mal Waldron - Piano
Addison Farmer - Bass
Ed Shaughnessy - Drums
Armando Peraza - Conga

These tracks also appear on The Soul Of Jazz Percussion

Willie Rodriguez Nonet/Octet (4,6)
Don Ellis
- Trumpet
Booker Little - Trumpet
Curtis Fuller - Trombone
Teddy Charles - Vibes
Mal Waldron - Piano
Addison Farmer - Bass
Philly Joe Jones - Drums
Ed Shaughnessy
- Drums
Willie Rodriguez - Conga

These tracks also appear on The Soul Of Jazz Percussion & Sounds Of The Inner City along with one other track, "Witch Fire" that does not appear on The Third World. Spanish outfit Lone Hill included "Witch Fire" only on their 2004 Booker Little featuring Booker Ervin CD, New York Session.

Earl Zindars Sextet (2,3,5)
Donald Byrd
- Trumpet
Pepper Adams - Baritone Sax
Bill Evans - Piano
Paul Chambers - Bass
Philly Joe Jones - Drums
Earl Zindars - Percussion

These tracks also appear on The Soul Of Jazz Percussion. Although it's the Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Quintet with Zindars sitting in, these tracks do not appear on the Quintet's Out of This World: The Complete Warwick Sessions (also re-issued by Fresh Sounds).

1 Chasing The Bird
2 Prophecy
3 Ping Pong
4 Construction Crew
5 Quiet Temple
6 November Afternoon
7 Call To Arms
8 Wee Tina

Take care of Byrdness with Soundological HERE or HERE.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Milt Buckner - Play Chords

Play Chords1966

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from MPS 15110

In the next stretch of posts, I'll try to fill some holes for the fine assortment of label and discography blogs we've come to know and love over the past year or so. This one is for Ish, the instigator of our label-blogging addiction. I noticed recently the link
for Play Chords on Magic Purple Sunshine had died out and thought I'd revive it with my own rip. I warn you, this one's a bit sharp in the treble department since I've played the hell out of this smokin' slice of good-time tunes over the years. However, trying to filter it just made it sound too flat so I left it as is (although ClickRepair did wonders for the snaps, crackles and pops as always), although it's still very listenable.

AMG Review by Dave Nathan

In 1966, Milt Buckner, like several of his contemporary jazz confreres, took his trio into Germany's Black Forest to record for Hans GeorgeBrunner-Schwer's MPS label. He was joined by former Ellingtonian bass player Jimmy Woode and former Count Basie drummer Jo Jones. Although Buckner's major legacy was as the originator of the locked-hands or parallel-chords technique, this album shows he was a performer of commanding originality.
"Hamp's Boogie Woogie" reveals that he was a pretty fair boogie-woogie player and "Saba's House Party" shows a special affinity for the blues. But for the most part on this session, he sticks with his locked-hands approach. The play list is clearly designed to showcase this form of playing, especially such Buckner originals as "Feelin' Sorta Villingen" and "Chitlins à la Carte." At the same time, "Yours Is My Heart Alone" has the flourishes and frills worthy of Erroll Garner at his virtuosic best.

Not only is Buckner at the top of his form in this forest setting, so is Woode, whose bop-oriented bass is featured on most tracks. Jo Jones is given some opportunities for drum breaks, particularly on "Cute." He also engages in a rollicking exchange with Buckner on "Pick Yourself Up." This album confirms that Buckner's contributions to jazz extend beyond the development of a particular technical approach to the piano. This is a fine session that needs to be reissued on CD.
Amen Dave! 

Although the compound phrase "under-appreciated" gets bandied about often on vinyl blogs, it's hard not to use it in Milt's case, even though he does receive recognition for some of his accomplishments. However, it's hard to believe Buckner helped revolutionize the keyboard's place in the genre not once, but twice, in his 40 year career and yet few mention his name in the same breath as the Jimmies - Smith, McGriff & Hammond - when it comes to bringing the beloved B3 to bear on the jazz idiom. The International Archives For The Jazz Organ probably say it best: "a great jazz musician who, because of the star system that prevails in the jazz field, was never given proper credit for his tremendous contribution to the jazz lexicon."

The best place to find detailed info on Milt's career is probably the Jazz Documentation website from out of Switzerland. I found the below scan of Milt's account book over there and thought I'd give you a peek. It comes from the engagement at the legendary Lennie's On The Turnpike club in '66 that produced Illinois Jacquet's Go Power album on Cadet and took place only a few scant months before the trip over to Europe that would culminate in this recording and prompt his emigration to those greener jazz pastures.

Besides being a snapshot of history vis-a-vis the jazz musician's pay scale at the time, it's hard not to notice Milt lists his expenses for "wife" as 4.5x the price of his rent. I'm not so knowledgeable of Buckner's personal life but if that don't smell like alimony, I don't what does! Perhaps that was yet another good reason for him to head across the pond.

Milt Buckner - Organ, Piano
Jo Jones - Drums
Jimmy Woode - Bass

1 Feelin' Sorta Villingen
2 Chitlins a la Carte
3 Cute
4 Alec Lovejoy
5 I Only Have Eyes for You
6 Pick Yourself Up
7 Robbins Nest
8 Hamp's Boogie Woogie
9 Saba's House Party
10 Yours Is My Heart Alone

Lock down some locked hands with Soundological HERE. (updated 2013-05-24)

Friday, 17 July 2009

Hadley Caliman - Hadley Caliman

Cigar Eddie

Hadley Caliman

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Mainstream MRL 318

Although some of you may have grabbed this from Reza before he closed up shop, there's currently no link floating around for this saxophonist's classic Mainstream session from 1971. I'm putting this out there for those who slept on it and also to ensure there's an active link at the shad shack. I'm not going to go into his saga here since the definitive Hadley Caliman post has got to be the one over at bonjourqui. It's a fascinating story told in great part by Caliman's own words and goes into his childhood relationship with Dexter Gordon, his time in San Quentin prison and his musical career in the 70s and beyond. Highly recommended reading and a must for fans of Caliman in particular and post-bop jazz and the human condition in general.

As far as the sidemen go, Vuckovich is well-known and appears consistently in many of the blogs in the blog roll to the right. Douglas (another Canuck) has quite the history in music and this set comes early on in his teaching career, which began in 1970 with the California Institute of the Arts. (Correction made 4/9/2009: This is actually Bill Douglass, with two "s"es, see comments below) Becton has a fair list of credits as a drummer for releases on MPS, Impulse and appears on the first ECM release with Mal Waldron but doesn't have much in the way of biographical info flowing through the intertubes.

The big mystery (for me) is John White Jr., the guitarist. Maybe it's his commonplace name but I can't find squat on this cat. His sole (?) release as leader was on Mainstream but good luck finding it! It's a legendary funky blues rock set that usually fetches $50 and upwards (have seen it go for as high as $200) and if I hadn't seen a picture of it myself, I would have thought it was just a myth. Any info Soundological readers might have on him would be highly appreciated!!!
(Update 4/9/2009: A sealed original vinyl copy found its way into Soundological's hands and will appear in the Month of Mainstream)


Hadley Caliman - Tenor Sax & Flute
Larry Vuckovich - Piano
John White Jr. - Guitar
Clarence Becton - Drums
Bill Douglas - Bass

1 Cigar Eddie
2 Comencio
3 Little One
4 Blues For L.L.
5 Kicking On The Inside
6 Longing

Soundological lets you get your hands on Hadley HERE or HERE.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Moe Koffman - Things Are Looking Up



Things Are Looking Up

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from GRT 9230-1078

Yeesh. Listening to this LP is almost physically painful for me. It's not just the fact it's a textbook smooth-jazz snoozer, although that does have quite a bit to do with it. The aversion I have to this album is mostly related to its (and my) time and place in history more than anything else. You see, I was 8 years old when this was released and, for me, it's the sound of sitting in doctor/dentist waiting rooms and getting dragged to the supermarket in the late 70s and early 80s.

Heck, this album - especially the production techniques - pretty much sums up everything I wrongfully associated with post-bop jazz (exceptions being the soundtracks of Spider-Man, Space Ghost and Johnny Quest) until I started listening to soul-jazz and proper fusion in
junior high. Whaddaya expect? I was a white kid without older siblings growing up in a mid-west medium-market city where the radio choices were Top 40, C&W or AOR and my parents listened to Babs Streisand, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson and Roger Whittaker. I think I overcame that handicap pretty well, thanks very much, but sounds like these still tend to make me cringe reflexively.

The epitome of poor format in both musical and technological terms

Of course, with the team involved here there are a few enjoyable (and eminently samplable) moments, regardless of the childhood-trauma-induced baggage I've saddled on this old grey mare. And an old grey mare it is, since Moe's sound, she ain't what she used to be. I can get past most of those memories but this is still a paint-by-numbers, overproduced piece of pap that's so watered-down, "smooth" is a misnomer. It would be better described as "thin and runny." Even then it's a crime against nature, defying the laws of fluid dynamics by having an exceptionally low viscosity yet it somehow still manages to completely hamper flow and restrict movement.

If the two preview tracks don't do it for you at all, you probably shouldn't bother grabbing the full release since those are a cut above the rest. I find myself enjoying Lighthouse quite a bit since it's the odd-man-out and its cinematic feel is the closest thing to what I would call real jazz. Stanloo is a bit more representative of the other tracks, although it's funkier than the rest by at least a furlong - yikes!

It's fairly obvious the fleeting moment of Moe's funky(ish) flute fusion had finished and he really should have put that filly out to pasture prior to this. Thankfully, like most artists of the era, he returned to straight-ahead jazz by the early 80s and regained the critical acclaim that had steadily eroded as the 70s wore on. This helps explains the "black hole" effect of the 70s jazz era in Canada that was briefly touched on in the comments for Dr. Music's Bedtime Story.

As far as the roster is concerned, we've already covered most of the players in some detail. Ed Bickert is a massive star in the Canadian jazz constellation and extremely influential on canuck guitarists from the 60s to the 90s but his popularity and reach extend much further as a precursory search on the google will quickly reveal. His relationship with Moe goes all the way back to the 50s as well, appearing on Moe's debut Cool and Hot Sax in '56 which included Moe's smash hit "Swingin' Shepherd Blues".

As wonderful as Bickert's works book-ending this session were - Down Beat spoke of his stint with Paul Desmond two years prior as having an "understated eloquence matched only by such masters as Jim Hall" and the year following he was touring the world with Milt Jackson to great acclaim and forming his relationship with Concord Jazz as Rosemary Clooney's guitar player - he's pretty much restricted by the "smooth jazz lite" format here. Sure his tone is excellent as always and he plays superbly but he is sometimes (and unfairly) pegged as more of an adept technician than soulful artist and this set does more to exacerbate that perception than it does to dispel it.

Ed, Moe & James (Jimmie) Dale in 1965 backing Guido Basso from The Boss Brass

Marty Morell's biggest claim to fame is definitely as part of the Bill Evans Trio from 1968 to 1974 - the longest any drummer stayed with Evans. You can hear some of his work with the trio at Soundological's post of Evan's From The 70s or on a slew of his albums covered by master Simon at never enough rhodes. His web page seems to have died out since we last checked in but thanks to the wayback machine at, you can still read up on his activities with Evans, The Boss Brass and on the Broadway circuit. Personally, my favourite work with his presence on percussion is probably Gabor Szabo's classic The Sorcerer. For some reason, his participation on this particular Koffman piece doesn't make his "selected" discography. Go figure.

Not much info on Rick Homme out there besides assorted credits on dozens of Canadian albums. As far as Moe's 70s output is concerned, he played on the ones with the most appeal to jazz purists: Solar Explorations, Live at George's and Museum Pieces. He remains active in the Canadian jazz scene, still doing some recording and a good deal of gigging across the country but especially in the Greater Toronto Area.

Moe Koffman - Flute, Bass Flute
Don Thompson - Keyboards
Rick Homme - Electric Bass
Marty Morrell - Drums, Percussion
Ed Bickert - Guitar
Bob Mann - Guitar (5)
Doug Riley - Keyboards (1,4)
James Dale - Keyboards (5)

1 Things Are Looking Up
2 Freefall
3 Sempre Con Tigo
4 Minstrel's Hymn
5 Stanloo
6 If You Ever Went Away
7 Lighthouse
8 Some Moe Bossa

Look up, look waaay up, with Soundological HERE or HERE.