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Ronnie Foster lgLike every Hammond organ player, Ronnie Foster owes a debt to Jimmy Smith, but on his first recording session as a leader he takes the instrument into new areas on this funky soul-meets-R & B-meets-jazz album. Foster had made his Blue Note debut when he was just 18 years of age on Grant Green’s Alive album. Two Headed Freap was recorded on 20 & 21 January 1972 at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, so you know it’s going to sound great.

Like so many of the records released by Blue Note in this period, it fails to excite the traditional fans of the label but Two-Headed Freap, like a number of other albums from the early 1970s, laid the foundations for the acid-jazz movement. At the time of its release Jazz Journal said, “It is sad that a label with the reputation of Blue Note should be reduced to recording the casual meanderings of background pop music.” What utter tosh!

Foster composed five of the eight tracks and the others are skilfully selected covers; of these, Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ shows just why Foster was so respected and in such demand as a sideman, and not just for jazz artists. *George Benson was an admirer and Foster later played on his Breezin’ album, contributing the exquisite ballad, ‘Lady’.

On his own debut, the best of Foster’s compositions are the laid-back ‘Summer Song’, which features Gene Bertoncini’s Benson-like guitar, and a track that clearly demonstrates the difference between Foster and Jimmy Smith, ‘Mystic Brew’. Foster’s playing is more sustained, there’s less attack and he plays along the melody line in a more fluid way – which is not to say he’s better; just different. ‘Mystic Brew’ has been frequently sampled by artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, and by DJ Madlib on his 2003 Blue Note album, Shades of Blue.

Like many other jazz albums from this era, Two-Headed Freap has the feel of a Blaxploitation movie about it, and that’s not a criticism. The album is very definitely of its time and should be appreciated as such. The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD reviewer is of the same opinion as the critic from Jazz Journal and ignores the album, which says a lot about how the jazz police see this era. Don’t let them brainwash you!

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John Lodge April 3rd at 9:40am

A great album from a great era for music in general. FOR ME the 70's was, and remains, the most creative all round. I love the 60's too, but was probably just too young to have appreciated it, especially the early 60's jazz scene.

F708400F04E8B0C80B02CA97A545DA1DMinaLima is a highly regarded graphic-design studio based in London, founded in 2010 by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima. Unique and imaginative in style, the studio is renowned as the design team behind one of the largest film franchises of all time, Harry Potter™, which garnered them worldwide attention and accolades. Inspired by their genius for creating idiosyncratic artworks based on magical worlds, who could better illustrate Sylva, Snarky Puppy’s concept album recorded with the Metropole Orkest than Miraphora Mina. Here they explain how the collaboration came about.

MinaLima is closely associated with the Harry Potter universe. Could you remind us what you did earlier for this worldwide fantasy hero?

We designed the ‘graphic props’ for all eight Harry Potter films. This meant objects such as the ‘Marauder’s Map’, the ‘Daily Prophet’ newspapers and all the packaging in the ‘Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes’ shop. We even designed some fictional record albums for the films!

Could you explain how you met Snarky Puppy?

Actually, it was my drummer son Luca who introduced me to Snarky Puppy, and I was hooked straightaway! Inspired by their music, I contacted Michael [League] simply to inquire if they’d ever need a designer, unaware that a new album was in the making. Michael’s swift and enthusiastic reply cemented this creative collaboration.

How did you match Snarky Puppy’s music with your personal design work?

I was fortunate to get to listen to the raw files early on and made sure I really knew them well before having any ideas about the artwork. Michael explained the inspiration behind each piece of the suite, which helped to visualise the stories he was telling in his music. Our work as designers for film is all about storytelling through visuals, so this was familiar territory for me. The album is so full of contrasts, colours and light, and even has moments of menace and drama. I wanted to describe this narrative in the artwork, so came up with the concept of an obscure forest whose shadows become a multitude of colours; a kind of implausible situation that only happens in dreams!

Could you tell us more about Sylva, as a concept album with music and art?

Early on Michael had made it clear to me that this album was intended to be a collaboration of creative ideas, both between Snarky Puppy and the Metropole Orkest, and from the point of view of the visuals. Also, that the five pieces were integral to the suite, rather than being individual songs. There was even talk of not having a title! But when I suggested Sylva (from the word Sylvan, meaning a wooded area) it suddenly seemed right to both of us.

Do you have other projects with Snarky Puppy in the works?

Family Dinner 2 is on the cards … Having been present at the recording I’m very excited about continuing this collaboration!

This is Snarky Puppy’s new album, this is Sylva.

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getzAs the five musicians, one of whom was accompanied by his wife, arrived at A & R Studios in New York City on Monday evening 18 March 1963 none would have guessed that they were about to give jazz an almost unprecedented shot in the arm. Jazz was still, at this point, closer to the mainstream of popular taste, but it was still a minority interest

The musicians were, saxophonist Stan Getz along with pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim<, Tommy Williams on bass, drummer Milton Banana (he was born Antônio de Souza), and the Brazilian guitarist whose wife was with him was, Joao Gilberto, her name as we now all know is Astrud, but at this point the 22 year old had not even recorded a song. Getz thought of this as another record to capitalise on the success of Jazz Samba that he and Charlie Byrd had recorded a year earlier and had just finished its week long run at the top of the Billboard album chart. A month earlier Getz had recorded with guitarist Luiz Bonfa and that album would be called Jazz Samba Encore.

From the cover painting by Olga Albizu, admittedly from Puerto Rico, to the soft samba sounds, to the subject of the songs – Corcovado and Ipanema are in Rio de Janeiro – Getz/Gilberto oozes Brazil from every groove.

Getz/Gilberto came a year later and made No.2 on the Billboard charts and went on to spend close to two years on the best seller list. In 1965 it won the Grammy for Best Album of the Year across all musical genres, the first time a jazz album was so rewarded, and has subsequently continued to be one of the half dozen best selling jazz albums of all time. Aside from all that it proves conclusively that jazz can be commercial and artistically satisfying.

Everything that could possible be said about this album has already been said, but… It was an after thought in the studio to get Astrud to sing in English on the two tracks as it was felt they needed some tracks that could get radio airplay. Norman Gimbel who subsequently wrote English lyrics to many classic Brazilian songs wrote the lyrics to ‘The Girl From Ipanema’. He also wrote the lyrics to ‘Sway’ the Mambo classic that was a hit for Dean Martin and much later the words to Roberta Flack’s ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’. Astrud’s beautiful vocal on ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ helped propel the 45 release onto best seller charts around the world, including No.5 in the USA where it also won a Grammy as Song of the Year.

The musicians were back in the studio the following day to finish off the album. When Billboard reviewed the LP in April 1964, Verve waited a year to release it after the success of Getz’s earlier Brazilian albums ere doing well, they simply said, “The sensuous tenor sax of Stan Getz combines with the soft edged voice of Brazil’s famous Joaõ Gilberto in a program of lovely Brazilian music.” So possibly they, and everyone else, did not expect Getz/Gilbert to do as well as it did.

Hear it here on Spotify

For iTunes go here

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Recorded at three separate session, two in 1949 and the other in 1950, this  was originally released in a 78rpm album of four records and then on a 10″ album by Clef Records. in 1957, following Parker’s death, it was reissued by Verve in the Genius Of Charlie Parker series as No. 4 without “Passport” and “Mohawk”; instead it had some alternate takes of other tracks.

This was the final collaborative recording by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and it is the session from 6 June 1950. The six tracks they recorded together are ‘Bloomdido’, ‘My Melancholy Baby’, ‘Relaxin’ With Lee’,’Leap Frog’, ‘An Oscar For Treadwell’ and ‘Mohawk’. At this session, besides Bird and Dizzy it’s Thelonious Monk on piano, Curley Russell (bass) and drummer Buddy Rich. ‘Passport’ is Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Al Haig (piano) Tommy Potter (bass) Max Roach (drums) and just Bird. For ‘Visa’, Carlos Vidal (bongo) and trombonist Tommy Turk are added to the musicians on ‘Passport.’

These sides hark back to recordings made by Bird and Diz for the Savoy and Dial labels, only here the recording quality allows the music to shine through, helping to make this an exhilarating listening experience. On the sides recorded by Parker and Gillespie, it’s like music in two layers. The sax and trumpet spar with one another, Monk, Russell and Rich creating a base across which the two giants stride across like gladiators. Add to this Monk’s vignette on ‘Bloomdido’ and what have you got? A be-bop bonanza!

‘I think all the guys like Bird and Dizzy contributed so much to making the steps of progress of modern music. Those guys had wonderful minds.’ –  Count Basie

Hear it here… at least, the reissued version without Visa and Passport, but with many alternate takes

Original Clef issue


Reissue on Verve in The Genius of Charlie Parker series


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Rediscovered Record – Bird & Diz (1952) | Neil P. Marsh February 26th at 1:10am

[…] Read more: Rediscovered Record […]

Julian Edwin ‘Cannonball’ Adderley passed away on 8 August 1975, the victim of a stroke, he was 46 years old. What better way to remember him than through his music. He recorded this classic in March 1958

Of course he had a little help from Miles Davis.

“Here’s one of the outstanding jazz sets released in the past few months and perhaps one of the best of the year. It features some truly fine, sensitive trumpet work by Miles Davis, and at times, some of the best work yet waxed by Cannonball Adderley. Both ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Love for Sale’ are handed superb treatments by Davis, and Adderley shines with his solo on ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ An album that will be important to all jazz fans.” Billboard 20 October 1958 

Almost four years to the day since he last recorded for Blue Note, Miles Davis was back in the studio to cut another album for the label, but not as a leader. The band was led by twenty-nine-year-old Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley – and what a band it is. Adderley was a member of Davis’s Sextet at the time of this recording, and the following year the saxophonist appeared on the seminal Kind of Blue. The feel of this album is something akin to a dry-run for what followed, and everyone with a love of jazz should own it.

The principal difference between this album and Kind of Blue is that Somethin’ Else has three tracks that are re-workings of standards – apparently chosen by Davis – which enhances the feeling of extreme comfort that each and every track exudes. Of the two original numbers, Miles composed the title track while ‘One For Daddy-O’ was a joint creation by pianist Jones and Adderley’s cornet-playing brother, Nat.

Throughout much of the album, Adderley and Davis seem to be engaged in their own private conversation, a conversation we are privileged to eavesdrop on. The stand-out track for most listeners is ‘Autumn Leaves’ and what’s so gratifying about this number and ‘Love For Sale’, is that neither song sounds like a straight rehash. It has been said that there is not ‘a rote moment’ on the album and both tracks prove the point. If you want to know what makes Adderley such a master, just listen to ‘Dancing In The Dark’; all it needs are strings and you’d swear it was Charlie Parker.

“For those not familiar with the latest in terminology, that the title number of the Miles Davis original, which also provided the name for this album, is a phrase of praise. And if I may add my personal evaluation, I should like to emphasize that Cannonball and Miles and the whole rhythm section and, indeed, the entire album certainly can be described emphatically as ‘somethin’ else’.” – Leonard Feather, original album liner notes

You can hear it here…


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Ruud March 9th at 3:04pm

One of the best!

Jeremy August 8th at 3:35pm

Always loved the way Autumn Leaves "comes back home" to finish. Classic album.

Valerie Bishop August 10th at 3:58am

I remember exactly where I was standing when I heard that Cannon had passed. I think of him often and will always miss him and Nat. thank goodness, they left us with so much great music. actually my Facebook profile page is a picture of me and Cannon in 1974 or thereabouts.

New Concord signing Dr. John will make his debut for the company by paying tribute to Louis Armstrong. ‘Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit of Satch’ will be released in the US on August 19, featuring some impressive guest appearances from the likes of Bonnie Raitt and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

The album will feature 13 tracks taken from throughout Satchmo’s long career, with Raitt duetting with Dr. John on ‘I’ve Got the World on a String.’ The Blind Boys make two appearances, on ‘What a Wonderful World’ and ‘Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,’ while R&B singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton is on ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.’

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band feature on ‘When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)’ and Arturo Sandoval guests on ‘Tight Like This’ and ‘Memories Of You.’ Shemekia Copeland also appears with the good Doctor on ‘Sweet Hunk O’ Trash‘, while ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’ features another R&B name, Ledisi, and gospel-soul group the McCrary Sisters.

Mac in studio
Dr. John previously showed his respect for Satchmo by performing at the ‘Props To Pops’ concert at both New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2012 and the Hollywood Bowl last year.

The full track listing for ‘Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit of Satch’ is:

1. What A Wonderful World featuring Nicholas Payton and The Blind Boys of Alabama
2. Mack The Knife featuring Terence Blanchard and Mike Ladd
3. Tight Like This featuring Arturo Sandoval and Telmary
4. I’ve Got The World On A String featuring Bonnie Raitt
5. Gut Bucket Blues featuring Nicholas Payton
6. Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child featuring Anthony Hamilton
7. That’s My Home featuring Wendell Brunious and The McCrary Sisters
8. Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen featuring Ledisi and The McCrary Sisters
9. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams featuring Terence Blanchard and The Blind Boys of Alabama
10. Dippermouth Blues featuring James 12 Andrews
11. Sweet Hunk O’Trash featuring Shemekia Copeland
12. Memories Of You featuring Arturo Sandoval
13. When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) featuring Dirty Dozen Brass Band

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RIP Charlie Haden

12th July, 2014
posted in: Uncategorized


We’ve lost another jazz giant.

“It is with deep sorrow that we announce that Charlie Haden, born August 6, 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa,  passed away today at 10:11 Pacific time in Los Angeles after a prolonged illness. Ruth Cameron, his wife of 30 years, and his children Josh Haden, Tanya Haden, Rachel Haden and Petra Haden were all by his side.”

Tina Pelikan
ECM Records Publicity

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Privileged is the best way to describe those of us lucky to be in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall last evening to see and hear the Jazz At the Lincoln Center Orchestra under Wynton Marsalis’s direction pay tribute to Blue Note Records. The big band arrangements of classic Blue Note recordings were simultaneously a homage to the originals, while adding new and exciting depth to these classic tunes.

Wynton opened the evening saying that the great Joe Temperley was planning to be at the concert but was not well enough to fly over. Joe is Lochgelly in Fife’s only known contribution to the world of jazz and an inspirational character to boot. He had spoken to Wynton on the telephone earlier and insisted that they open with Jackie McLean’s ‘Appointment in Ghana’ and closed with some Duke Ellington…the orchestra duly obliged. There were a couple of Horace Silver tunes, including the classic, ‘Señor Blues’ and these were followed by McCoy Tyner’s excellent ‘Search For Peace ‘from The Real McCoy, which was one of the standout tunes of the first half of the programme that concluded with Herbie Hancock’s ‘Riot’.

The second half began with a trip back to Marsalis’s hometown of New Orleans and a small group workout on Sidney Bechet’s ‘Weary Blues’ that Bechet recorded  in 1945 with his Blue Note Jazz Men. Close your eyes and it was easy to imagine being in Storyville among the brothels and bars on  Franklin Street, Rampart Street or Basin Street. The whole orchestra rejoined them onstage for ‘Thespian’ from Freddie Redd’s Shades of Redd, which was another magical moment among an evening of magical moments. This complex, soulful piece was superbly arranged by trombonist Vincent Gardner.

From this point the Orchestra departed from the Blue Note script and for good reason. To everyone’s surprise Wynton introduced Scottish virtuoso violinist Nicola Benedetti who performed ‘Calling the Indians’ from Marsalis’s epic Pulitzer prize oratorio Blood On the Fields. While not quite Nicola’s hometown, it was, for the largely Scottish audience, wonderful to see one of the country’s greatest talents in this unusual setting.

As promised the main part of the concert finished with Duke Ellington, but not something that many would have necessarily anticipated; it was a part of Ellington’s ‘Black Brown and Beige’ suite with a fantastic coda at its conclusion by the five piece saxophone section. There was a deserved standing ovation and Marsalis came out with his regular quintet and did a medley for an encore that concluded with a sensuous and dazzling reading of ‘Embraceable You’. Another standing ovation and no one left thinking anything less than, “that was a brilliant.” night.”

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 “Clifford Brown, I would say, had a style akin to Fats Navarro. That was his inspiration. Clifford was so fresh, he was young, he was fresh and he was exuberant-beautiful sound, everything.” Sonny Rollins 2009

According to the opening sentence of Leonard Feather’s original liner notes for Blue Note’s Memorial Album, ‘It seems that in jazz the good, especially if they play trumpet, die young”. There’s only one thing he gets wrong: Brownie was not good, he was great! Aged just twenty-five, Brown died in a car accident on 26 June 1956 and this album, as is clear from the title and its catalogue number, was released that same year.

The tracks that make up side 2 (‘Brownie Speaks’, ‘De-Dah’, ‘Cookin’’, ‘You Go To My Head’ and ‘Carvin’ The Rock’) were recorded a few blocks from Times Square at WOR radio in New York, and mark Brownie’s debut as a leader, even if the session was billed as the Lou Donaldson-Clifford Brown Quintet. Some were originally released in 1953 as Lou Donaldson/Clifford Brown New Faces, New Sounds on Blue Note 5030, while side 1 (‘Hymn Of The Orient’, ‘Easy Living’, ‘Minor Mood’, ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Wail Bait’) came out as New Star on the Horizon, Blue Note 5032. It was produced by Alfred Lion, Blue Note’s founder, with photography by Francis Wolff and a Reid Miles cover design. You can hear the expanded Rudy Van Gelder remaster here.

Apart from the addition of Lou Donaldson on alto saxophone on the second session the two are very similar, both in ambience and feel. Brown’s brilliance on his runs, his plump tones invoking the spirit of his hero Fats Navarro who had died a few years earlier is so enticing. The speed of his playing, and the way ideas tumble from his horn on numbers like ‘Bellarosa’ and ‘Carvin’ The Rock’ is breathtaking, while Brownie makes Ray Noble’s well-known jazz tune ‘Cherokee’, entirely his own.

As exciting as his playing could be on mid- and up-tempo numbers, it is on the slower tracks such as, ‘You Got To My Head’ and ‘Brownie Eyes’, that Clifford Brown sounds utterly sublime. In his case, ‘gone too soon’ is a truly fitting musical epitaph. For a contemporary view of Brownie Quincy Jones said this in Downbeat in August 1956.

”Here was the perfect amalgamation of natural creative ability, and the proper amount of technical training, enabling him to contribute precious moments of musical and emotional expression. This inventiveness placed him in a class far beyond that of most of his poll-winning contemporaries. Clifford’s self-assuredness in his playing reflected the mind and soul of a blossoming young artist who would have rightfully taken his place next to Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and other leaders in jazz.” 

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andrewpitkinsax June 26th at 1:30pm

Despite being a saxophone player, Clifford Brown is one of my musical role models. Perfect is the only word I can think of to describe him.

Jeremy Whetstone June 26th at 6:27pm

Sorry to correct but he played trumpet!

jazzlabels June 26th at 6:30pm

We think Andrew meant he is a saxophone player and Brownie influenced his sax playing with his trumpet playing…

andrewpitkinsax June 26th at 7:23pm

Haha I meant that I was a sax player :) Clifford the trumpeter was a great role model!

Rudy June 26th at 10:50pm

he meant that despite the fact that he was a sax player, Clifford Brown is one of his musical role models even though Brownie plays the trumpet

We celebrate one of Horace Silver’s finest albums in honour of his passing. 50 years old it may be, but it sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded. 

“Dad played the violin, guitar and mandolin, strictly by ear. He loved the folk music of Cape Verde…Occasionally, they would give a dance party in our kitchen on a Saturday night. They pushed the kitchen table into the corner of the room to make way for dancing, and Dad and his friends provided the music, playing and singing all the old Cape Verdean songs.”  – Horace Silver

From the album’s oh-so-funky title track, you get a sense of how much everyone enjoyed those party nights at the Silver home in Connecticut. Thousands of miles away from the tiny group of Portuguese islands off the coast of West Africa, they came together to celebrate the music of their homeland. Yet there is more to this track than jazz fused with Portuguese rhythms: Silver had been to Brazil in early 1964 and you can just catch the spirit of the bossa nova beat. It’s also there in ‘Que Pasa?’, which seems to echo the opener.

Many years later Silver said, ‘I’ve always tried to write the kind of music that would stand the test of time. Always, in the back of my mind, I would be thinking, “Will this stand up 20, 30 years from now?” I’ve tried to write songs that would be easy to listen to, and easy to play. It’s a difficult task. It’s easy to write something simple but dumb, or something that has depth but is too complex. But simplicity with depth, that’s the hardest thing for me to do.’

Silver’s intention is carried through the album from the hard bop of ‘The Natives are Restless Tonight’ to ‘The Kicker’, a rollicking Joe Henderson tune. The only track on the album not written by Silver, it features a furious drum solo from Roger Humphries who was just 20 at the time of its recording. The closing track, ‘Lonely Woman’ is perfectly titled; Silver delicately conveys the concept with a beautiful melody while holding back on the notes to maximum effect. 

Interestingly the album was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, at two separate sessions almost a year to the day apart. On 31 October 1963  Silver cut, ‘Calcutta Cutie’ and ‘Lonely Woman’, recording the remainder on 26 October 1964.  You can hear it hear. It’s also available on 180gm vinyl here


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jacobaudrey June 24th at 8:19pm

Reblogged this on Musics and Souls.

giai01 June 25th at 12:44am

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