Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy Bartzday to You

Happy Friday! Today's post is in tribute to one of my favorite musicians, and a superb guy. One of those that you can hear them play a note and you know it's them with not a syllable spoken.
He was sitting in with Art Blakey barely into high school... his dad owned a jazz venue in his native Baltimore, so he was immersed in all of it from a wee lad. He began recording in 1967 on his own for the seminal Milestone label, until one morning in 1970 he got a phone call he was sure was someone playing a prank on him. When the phone rings and a raspy voiced stranger claiming to be Miles Davis is asking you to join his band, you have to be at least a tad skeptical.
It turned out to be the real thing, and after a year blowing the roofs off of concert halls worldwide -- check him on the Cellar Door box set that documents the Miles Davis Septet in Washington, DC in December of 1970, as he just destroys the galaxy using only an alto and soprano saxophone -- he went back out on his own with a new group of his own design. He called this his NTU Troop, after the Bantu linguistic concept of Ntu, which (as he explained in detail to me between sets one night at Yoshi's in Oakland) carries the essential meaning of motion and doing, kind of like a generic meta-verb that animates all life activities in that bedrock African tongue.
In the Seventies he went on to make devastating record after devastating record, beginning with the two Harlem Bush Music LPs in 1970/71 and proceeding through several more Milestone and Arista albums. All the time he was doing his own thing, he was also a member of legendary pianist McCoy Tyner's group, touring and recording extensively with McCoy in the 1970s.
This guy has been a part of so many incredible records and groups, from albums with alto maestro Jackie McLean to work with the supergroup Sphere in the 1980s. These days he leads his own ensembles and is considered one of the greatest living saxophonists on Earth. He is also a Professor of Music at Oberlin College in Ohio.
For today's share, we have a real tasty treat that doesn't seem to circulate in this complete, pre-broadcast form. It's a whole two-hour set from the NTU Troop on German radio in 1975, straight from the pre-FM reels!!! And what a set! I thought it could be a little punchier so I sprinkled some Sound Forge graphic expansion pixie dust upon its grooves, and now it sounds about as good as it can, indistinguishable from an official release.
Gary Bartz NTU Troop
Bremen, Germany
pre-FM/EN remaster

01 Nation Time/Juju Man

02 Medley:
Celestial Blues
The Sounding Song
Uhuru Sasa
03 I've Known Rivers
04 Sweet Tooth
05 Peace and Love/Sifa Zote
06 For the Love of You

Total time: 2:00:47

Gary Bartz - alto & soprano saxophones, vocals
Howard King - drums
Curtis Robertson - bass, vocals
Charles Mims - electric piano, organ, vocals

disc break can go after Track 03
pre-FM master reels, remastered by EN
Gary Bartz was born on this day in 1940, and he's been sonically shaping the world since he was a teenager in Baltimore, on the bandstand with the likes of Art Blakey. Please do enjoy this killer concert from one of jazz's toppermost players as we acknowledge this momentous occasion, and let this set funk your weekend in just the perfect way!! --J.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


One of my favorite instrumentalists passed away the other day at the age of 84, so I am posting today in tribute.
Kenny Wheeler must be on ten million records of the last 45 years... the shorter list might indeed be those recordings on which he is not a participant. 
It's impossible to recount the multitude of records he plays on or leads, there's just too much. All that needs to be said is that his tone, on either trumpet or the flugelhorn, is as instantly recognizable as his phrasing. He plays a note or two or smatters a few together and you know exactly whom you are hearing.
One third of one of my favorite ensembles, Azimuth -- with the legends Norma Winstone (vocalist supreme) and John Taylor (pianist and composer) -- he brings a lyricism to the freer end of the spectrum and a sense of calm to the abstract maelstroms being generated.
To celebrate the life of this extraordinary player, I am posting two sets. One is a recent German rebroadcast of a fantastic Azimuth concert from their ECM heyday in 1978. The other is the three Azimuth members augmented by a Wheeler-led big band, also broadcast on the radio in Europe but this time in the early 1990s on the BBC.
Kenny Wheeler
[Azimuth 1978 + Kenny Wheeler Orchestra 1993]

Berliner Jazztage
Berlin, Germany

01 Jero
02 Norma Winstone announcement
03 Mayday
04 Eulogy
05 Norma Winstone announcement
06 O
07 Prelude Carneval

Total time: 49:43

Norma Winstone - vocals
Kenny Wheeler - trumpet, flugelhorn
John Taylor - piano

taken from a recent RBB Kulturradio DVB rebroadcast

Kenny Wheeler Orchestra
Outside-In Festival
The Hawth Centre
Crawley, UK
September 1993

01 Kayak
02 Hotel Le Hot
03 Gentle Piece
04 Sea Lady
05 Sophie
06 The Winter Rain

Total time: 1:22:02

Kenny Wheeler - trumpet, flugelhorn
Derek Warleigh - trumpet, flugelhorn
Alan Downey - trumpet, flugelhorn
Henry Lowther - trumpet, flugelhorn
Ian Haymer - trumpet, flugelhorn
Dave Hawler - trombone
Paul Rutherford - trombone
Hugh Frazer - trombone
Dave Stewart - trombone
Duncan Lamont - saxophone
Ray Warleigh - saxophone
Stan Sulzmann - saxophone
Evan Parker - saxophone
Julian Arguelles - saxophone
Mike Walker - guitar
John Taylor - piano
Mick Hutton - bass
John Marshall - drums
Norma Winstone - vocals

remastered by EN from a 1st-gen Hi-Fi VHS tape of a BBC broadcast

fits on two CDs if you break after the first track of the Crawley set
both shows zipped together
These are two stellar sets, both well representative of the artistry of Kenny Wheeler, and I trust you'll enjoy both as we acknowledge the life and legacy of one of the most prolific and lyrical trumpeteers of our lifetimes.--J.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sample and Hold

Hate to have to post this one, but I'm afraid keyboards legend and original Crusader Joe Sample has passed on at the age of 75.
One of the most important, if not the most important, soul-jazz outfits of the 1960s and 1970s, some of those records (Scratch, The 2nd Crusade) are as essential as breathing. And Joe Sample was their leader.
In tribute I am going to share this utterly blistering Crusaders set from the Spring of 1973, when guitarist Larry Carlton first joined. It's a soundboard feed, well-mixed, and I took Saturday to work on making it sound the very best it could.
Hec Edmundson Pavillion
Seattle, Washington
Spring 1973

01 introduction 
02 Put It Where You Want It
03 Watts Happening
04 Message from the Inner City
05 Treat Me Like You Treat Yourself
06 Eleanor Rigby
07 Young Rabbits > drum solo
08 Don't Let It Get You Down
09 So Far Away
Total time: 1:01:00

Joe Sample - keyboards
Wilton Felder - tenor saxophone
Wayne Henderson - trombone
Rupert Hughes - bass
Stix Hooper - drums
Larry Carlton - guitar

2nd gen reel from master sbd reel
remastered by Jazamo in August 2013 and EN in Sept 2014
It's a very sad occasion to lose someone whose fingerprints are all over the music of the last 50 years, but let's focus on a life well-lived as we enjoy this burning hour of power featuring Joe and the Crusaders at the absolute peak of their perfection.--J.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Mr. Jones: Ballad of a Skins Man

I am feeling a bit under the weather today, but I am getting out of bed to post this because September 9th is the birthday of the late, great Elvin Jones, widely considered the most influential drummer of our lifetimes.
Originally John Coltrane's drummer during the sax deity's prolific and definitive Impulse! years, EJ brought polyrhythmical complexities whose influence spread across jazz to rock and pop, with people from Mitch Mitchell to Robert Wyatt citing him as having had a seminal effect on their playing and their attitudes towards what was indeed possible.
There isn't much to say about Elvin that hasn't been already, so forget all the descriptive words and paste your eyes and ears to this 38 minute set from French TV in 1973, with the man leading his stellar quartet through several tunes. Look out for tenor titan Steve Grossman and Dr. Lieb, David Liebman, handling saxes and flutes.
Elvin Jones Quartet
"Jazz Session"
French TV
unknown studio

01 The Children's Merry-Go-Round March
02 Yesterdays
03 Brite Piece

Total time: 37:55

Elvin Jones - drums
Dave Liebman - saxophones, flute
Steve Grossman - saxophones
Gene Perla - bass

PAL DVD from a recent ORTF rebroadcast
He was born on 9/9/1927 and died in 2004, but there may never be another drummer as important and as emulated as Elvin Jones. Please do enjoy this DVD as a taste of that which the man was capable.--J.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sonny Day, Chasin' the Clouds Away

All right, for this blog's 100th (!!!!) entry, here comes an 84th birthday tribute to a true legend. When people call you "the greatest living improviser," you've probably made some pretty unbelievable music in your lifetime.
The name Sonny Rollins should in no way be unfamiliar to anyone reading this. He has been a preeminent force in music since the late 1940s, and was recording with Charlie Parker by the time he was 24. Things have only gotten more tremendous and luminary since.
Decades have gone by, styles have changed and changed back, but this man has been a constant. I feel so lucky to have gotten to see him a few times in my life... I remember one set at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco in the 1990s where he went on one of his 20-minute galactic tours through "St. Thomas". I don't know that I'll ever hear anyone construct a solo with the sustenance of ideas and the flawlessness of execution as he did that night.
To celebrate this auspicious occasion, I am posting a stunning mkv file of an hourlong set filmed in Ronnie Scott's in London in 1974. This is extra yummy because it features jazz-bagpipe maestro Rufus Harley blowing his brains out alongside the Main Man. Quality is excellent... I think this was filmed to air on BBC-TV but I dunno if it ever did until recently.
Sonny Rollins
Ronnie Scott's
London, UK

01 The Cutting Edge
02 A House Is Not a Home
03 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
04 Dearly Beloved
05 Don't Stop the Carnival
06 East Broadway Rundown
07 Alfie's Theme
Total time: 58:53

Sonny Rollins - tenor saxophone 
Rufus Harley - soprano saxophone, bagpipes 
Yoshiaki Masuo - guitar 
Bob Cranshaw - bass 
David Lee - drums

mkv file of a 2012 BBC-TV rebroadcast
This is quite a little teevee show, and I hope you'll enjoy it as you take time to appreciate the unparalleled mastery of the Saxophone Colossus Mr. Sonny Rollins, born September 7, 1930 in New York City!--J.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Uncle Floyd

Sorry I am a little late with this... I was researching open immigration options to Uruguay online cuz I'm not sure how much longer I can tolerate the most propagandistically enslaved population in the history of our species. You might refer to them as "Americans".
Yes, they have Amused Themselves to Death, haven't they? How about that for a funnel intro into today's b'day bash post? That's right, Roger Waters is 71 today.
You know this guy... he helped start Pink Floyd, only one of the most revered musical entities of our lifetimes. Once they began, he became their driving force and lyricist, penning some of the most celebrated songs of the last 50 years. Unless you've been living in a cave for those five decades, you have heard and loved the music of Roger Waters.
To celebrate, I will post the stellar Harvested set covering the complete PF BBC sessions at London's Paris Cinema Theatre during 1970-71. There's a complete performance of Atom Heart Mother with the brass and choir, as well as one of the first live performances of the epic Echoes from 1971's Meddle LP. Sound quality is pre-FM, remastered by the HRV folks and is as good as it's gonna get!
Pink Floyd
BBC Sessions 1970-71
Paris Cinema Theatre
London, UK

CD1: 7.16.1970
 01 John Peel intro
02 The Embryo
03 Fat Old Sun 
 04 Green Is the Colour
 05 Careful with that Axe, Eugene
06 If
07 Atom Heart Mother

 Total time: 59:47

CD2: 9.30.1971
01 Fat Old Sun 
 02 One of These Days 
 03 The Embryo
04 Echoes
05 Blues

Total time: 1:05:41

Roger Waters - bass, vocals
David Gilmour - guitar, vocals
Richard Wright - keyboards, vocals
Nick Mason - drums

pre-FM reels, remastered by Ron Toon & the Harvested team
this is the upgraded "version B" 
Hope your weekend is as awesome as the sounds represented here, as we show appreciation for the life and the music of the estimable Floydian Roger Waters, born this day in 1943.--J.