Heavy and Alive (K20034) (1972)

SAM_0342With the sleeve, title and typography to suggest nothing less than a Thin Lizzy in concert Lp, this excellent early 70s Atlantic Records soul-jazz compilation is almost comically desperate in its attempts to appeal to the callow youth weaned on Sixeventies Rock.

Barry Graves liner notes takes this notion several ludicrous steps further. To wit:

  • Alright, you, push back your headphones and give me that Mick Jagger-type high camp look of disgust: ‘I don’t care about your jazz’. I should have guessed that Neil Young is stronger than blue notes.
  • You burn incense at Jimi’s grave while the wind cries Mary, and you tell everybody that Pete Townshend is a close relative of yours. Why should you be bothered by jazz?
  • You like flaming keyboards…and you wouldn’t mind being drowned by foaming tambourines and splashing congas?
  • And then you catch a glimpse of Miles Davis, all high-heeled silver boots and red-hot bell bottoms, whipping it out under the magic spot-lights of the ‘Fillmore’. 
  • Today jazz can be caught wearing dashikis, flashing the peace sign, toying with Moog synthesizers, getting all those space-out freaks back to dancing and displaying as much soul as you need to make black look beautiful.
  • Modern jazz sound[s] now!, ‘together’, ‘far out’ [and has] got itself electrified by Hendrix and 16-tracked by rock stereo ingenuity to maintain the vitality of the young.
  • The skilfulness of its musicians in combed Afro-style and sports hippie beads, their creative power knows the headlines by heart.
  • Etc., etc., etc.SAM_0343

Despite its vintage, only one track, Herbie Hancock’s Ostinato, sounds at all post-Bitches Brew. Most of the rest rely on the boogie beat and/or raga drone to supply their modernism. Flutes prevail on several selections. All are worthwhile.

Thrifty Thrifty Vinyl readers needn’t be alarmed by the £5 sticker on the cover. I paid £2 for this last Sat.

Published in: on April 22, 2014 at 8:36 am  Comments (2)  

The Only Recorded Performance of Paul Desmond with The Modern Jazz Quartet (FINLP 6050) (1981)

SAM_0338Dave Brubeck Quartet cornerstone Desmond, a man for whose musical hue the word ‘mellifluous’ could have been invented, takes turns smoothly vamping with John Lewis et. al. on a programme of standards and, in peculiar deference to the season and then-contemporary tastes, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Recorded on Xmas Day 1971, but not released until a decade later as a tribute to the recently deceased saxophonist.

It’s a wonderful show and an interesting recording: the mixture of close and ambient room mic-ing produces a magical 3D sound picture of startling depth, quite unlike any other I’ve heard. More than worth a pound I’d say.

Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 8:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Ahmad Jamal – Macanudo (NJL 50) (1963)

SAM_0329UK Pye Jazz issue of US Chess/Argo exotica Lp by then-Chicago based pianist. In fact, the record is more accurately described as a collaboration with bassist/composer/arranger Richard Evans, who did much excellent work with the progressive wing of the Chess stable. A song-cycle of sorts, Evans wrote all eight pieces after visiting several South American countries on a JFK-sponsored cultural exchange program. My impression from other liner notes is that this was one cultural exchange that really culturally benefitted all concerned. Whether CIA operatives also gained a destabilising foothold is another matter upon which I couldn’t possibly comment.SAM_0328The music is richly orchestrated, sparkling, particularly “Haitian Market Place“; and sounds like a genuine hybrid of Latin American styles and the jazz, rather than mere pastiche.

Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 10:16 am  Comments (2)  

Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes – Welcome Home (ST-20147) (1969)

SAM_0325Inevitably groovy Lp by the Jimmy Smith-influenced Hammondist. The repertoire veers into EZ Listening, so, despite a funky backbeat, background or pruned enjoyment is recommended. Several jazzbos who went on to work with Steely Dan feature. Only £1.50 from the lady on the same stall as the Basie below.

When I saw this same seller in Etchinghill this weekend, she wanted to charge £5 a piece for albums that, while in EX+ condition, weren’t as interesting, saying she’d done a bunch of research in the meantime and was now basing her prices on eBay’s Buy-It-Now figures. I didn’t bother explaining that a quantification based on Discogs’  highest/lowest actually paid represents a more sensible option, I simply put those records back.

SAM_0326Half of the inner gatefold on Heinz Edelmann-style illustration typical of the day.

Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 9:55 am  Comments (6)  

Count Basie and the Kansas City 7 (IMPL 8017) (1962)

SAM_0320One of my recurring crate-digger fantasies involves me finding a box of Impulse! Lps. In my greedy reverie, all manner of glorious John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Michael White, Gabor Szabo, &tc gatefold albums present themselves easily identified by their orange and black spines, along with the offer of ten quid for the box from the seller. Well, last Sunday a titchy piece of that dream came true when I found this l’il number at a bootfair in Wincheap.
SAM_0321True, it’s only one album and a 1977 re-issue. And it’s not as far out as I usually like my 60s jazz. But it is a heavy cardstock, gatefold in almost mint condish and it sounds absolutely fantastic. At £1.50 it was well worth it.

Published in: on April 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Modern Jazz Quartet – The Sheriff (HA-K 8161) (1964)

SAM_0313When will this deluge of MJQ records cease? Consistency is paradoxically both the major strong point and drawback of the MJQ, so as long as I keep finding VG+ condish mono editions for a pound as I did today… 
Critics generally regard post-1960 Modern Jazz Quartet albums as inferior to those prior. With a pleasant hints of Bossa rhythms, The Sheriff sounds pretty good to me. Such is their aforementioned consistency that, at least to the cloth-eared dilettante, the difference between good and great MJQ Lps is incremental and not one of giant steps, so to speak.
Published in: on March 4, 2014 at 1:06 pm  Comments (4)  

Up Pops Ramsey Lewis (275 006) (1967)

SAM_0308Nice find of 60s fave Lewis on Cadet in Hythe last Saturday. An Lp recorded around the peak of his Modernist regard and the very definition of Soul Jazz, Up Pops elegantly jazzes up soul hits of the day without compromising either stream. “Party Time” is probably the best known of the tracks here. My only criticism is that several of the performances are truncated and could’ve easily been faded later, showing Lewis, et al. stretching out a bit more. Otherwise Ta-a-asty!SAM_0309

Published in: on March 3, 2014 at 10:10 am  Comments (2)  

Milt Jackson Quartet – Statement (T.501) (1961)

SAM_0297What this just yesterday purchased album demonstrates, apart from my seemingly endless capacity to listen to Modern Jazz Quartet-related music, is why I tend not to buy from Oxfam. Look closely at the front cover. At the bottom right you will find the price sticker for Sue Ryder whence came this gem: £1. Fair enough. Now cast your saucers upward and note the £5.99 tag from the aforementioned Oxfam.

SAM_0298I will tell you this for nothing, my seemingly endless capacity to listen to Modern Jazz Quartet music is not matched by a correspondingly endless budget and no way would I have shelled out six nicker for this (admittedly lovely) Lp, especially as it’s a 1966 World Record re-issue and not the original Impulse! version.

Published in: on February 22, 2014 at 9:02 am  Comments (13)  

The Dave Brubeck Quartet with Orchestra – Time Changes (SBPG62253) (1964)

SAM_0284Brubeck was nothing if not ambitious and the blending on side two’s “Elementals” of classical and jazz music, while not the first such undertaking, sounds unforced and natural; not an embarrassing popularisation of the former nor an unctuous smartening up of the latter. While much credit for its success should go to the composer and arranger, props must be given to drummer Joe Morello whose energetic thumping during the piece’s later stages gives it real verve. Trading on the “time” conceit once again, side one is more traditional Brubeck fare, though it too is enlivened by the drummer. In really good condition, esp. for a pound at Demelza.

Published in: on February 7, 2014 at 2:28 pm  Comments (4)  

Booker Little – The Legendary Quartet Album (ILPS 9454) (1975)

SAM_0231A rare foray by the label into the jazz, this is a 1975 Island re-issue of Booker Little’s eponymous 1960, long out-of-print second album as bandleader. Modal hard bop influenced, it features biggies Tommy Flanagan, Wynton Kelly, Scott LaFaro and Roy Haynes and compares favourably with Miles’ quintet albums from around the same period. Little died of the blood disease uraemia shortly after this album was recorded. He was only 23.

Published in: on December 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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