A Century of Jazz: Vyacheslav Ganelin

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Fischman
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Location: Rocky Mountain High
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  • #461
  • Posted: 07/31/2020 18:10
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Johnny Smith - Plus the Trio
Year: 1960
Style or Subgenre: Mainstream Jazz, Guitar Jazz


Johnny Smith - The Sound of the Johnny Smith Guitar
Year: 1960
Style or Subgenre: Mainstream Jazz, Guitar Jazz


There are days I could listen to Johnny Smith all day. Which is a little surprising because there's not a whole lot of diversity in his music. But what he does, he does with such immaculate perfection, that it never sounds repetitious. The word that comes to mind with regard to Smith is “tasteful.” All too often, “tasteful” can mean unadventurous or even boring, but in Smith’s case it is pure compliment with no detracting qualifications. His playing is refined but never to the point of being derivative or homogenized. Today I listened to Plus the Trio and The Sound of the Johnny Smith Guitar. Both are loaded with classic Johnny Smith, including his marvelous tone, excellent line choice, impeccable technique, tasteful enthusiasm, and straight up class. This is the kind of music that also serves equally well as background music or block-everything-else-out-and-be-fully-present-in-listening music.

Both albums are contained on the CD reissue of The Sound of the Johnny Smith Guitar. The sound quality of these recordings is very good and Smith’s crystal clear and well rounded tone comes through brilliantly. It’s hard to imagine enjoying a guitar album more than these marvelous recordings. Yes, the sound of the Johnny Smith guitar is as find a sound as I’ve found.

Let's Fall in Love (from Plus the Trio)

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Some of These Days (from Plus the Trio)

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Gypsy in My Soul (from The Sound of the Johnny Smith Guitar)

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This Can't Be Love (from The Sound of the Johnny Smith Guitar)

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Fischman
RockMonster, JazzMeister and ClassicalMaster


Gender: Male
Location: Rocky Mountain High
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  • #462
  • Posted: 08/01/2020 17:57
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Leon Parker - Above and Below
Year: 1994
Style or Subgenre: Contemporary Jazz, Modern Jazz, World Jazz


This was sure an interesting album. Here we have a drum led album, but without any songs featuring some mad skin virtuoso going ape on a full kit. Leon Parker plays a minimalist kit and still manages to great a great groove and/or mood depending on the song. The music is strangely compelling given its apparent relative simplicity and even without all the trappings of a killer kit, the music never lacks for intensity. It is also unlike anything else without being indigestibly far out. This is an interesting artist with something to say to those who would listen.

Bemsha Swing

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Above & Below

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B.B.B.B.

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Fischman
RockMonster, JazzMeister and ClassicalMaster


Gender: Male
Location: Rocky Mountain High
United States

  • #463
  • Posted: 08/01/2020 20:11
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Herb Geller - The Herb Geller Quartet
Year: 1993
Style or Subgenre: Bop, Hard Bop


Herb Geller came up on one of my jazz stations and I wondered why I hadn't heard much about him. It seems his settling in Europe for so long has caused him to suffer some loss of exposure stateside. In any case, I'm glad he came my way. While he was a fixture in the L.A. jazz scene as early as the 1950s, I saw references to him having improved right up through the 90s, so I tapped into this highly regarded album from 1993. What a joy! This is mostly straight ahead bop and mainstream jazz that would feel at home in the late 50s, it's clean, fresh, well delivered, and a pleasure to sit with. The compositions, an even mix of originals and generally lesser known standards, are all solid and Geller makes good use of them in his soloing. Drummer Louis Bellison swings a groove, pianist Tom Rainier vamps nicely and makes wonderful line choices when soloing, and bassist John Leitham is solid throughout, also grabbing a nice, occasional solo, especially on the opening "The Red Door." Geller's attempt at vocals (on "Stand Up Cominc," a tribute to Lenny Bruce) leave a bit to be desired, but that's not enough to diminish the positives that pervade the rest of the album. The first three cuts and the penultimate "Soon" are particularly enjoyable.

The Red Door

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Chromatic Cry

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Maybe September

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Soon

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Fischman
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Gender: Male
Location: Rocky Mountain High
United States

  • #464
  • Posted: 08/03/2020 17:04
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Dave Brubeck - Jazz; Red Hot and Cool
Year: 1955
Style or Subgenre: Cool Jazz


This is a fine album full of laid back, easy swinging cool music. Still, it doesn't grab me the way Brubeck's monster from the previous year, "Jazz Goes to College" does. The highlight of the album has to be the melodically inventive "Indiana," would would have been a strong add on any Brubeck album.

Lover

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Sometimes I'm Happy

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Indiana

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Fischman
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Gender: Male
Location: Rocky Mountain High
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  • #465
  • Posted: 08/03/2020 20:07
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Marian McPartland - from At Storyville/At the Hickory House
Year: 1951
Style or Subgenre: Hard Bop, Soul Jazz, Guitar Jazz


Marian McPartland - Reprise
Year: 1999
Style or Subgenre: Bop, Post Bop, Piano Jazz


Marian McPartland was a name I'd heard plenty but never yet pursued. Well, that was my loss. Mary and her trio make some very fine music. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these albums, recorded almost five decades apart! (1951 and 1999)

A Foggy Day/The Lady is a Tramp/I've Got the Whole World on a String (from At Storyville/At the Hickory House)

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Marian McPartland - Reprise
Year: 1999
Style or Subgenre: Bop, Post Bop, Piano Jazz


Marian McPartland was a name I'd heard plenty but never yet pursued. Well, that was my loss. Mary and her trio make some very fine music. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these albums, recorded almost five decades apart! (1951 and 1999)

A Foggy Day/The Lady is a Tramp/I've Got the Whole World on a String (from At Storyville/At the Hickory House)

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I Hear Music (from Reprise)

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Tickle Toe (from Reprise)

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Things Ain't What They Used to Be (from Reprise)

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Fischman
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Gender: Male
Location: Rocky Mountain High
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  • #466
  • Posted: 08/04/2020 17:31
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Leroy Vinnegar - Leroy Walks
Recording Date: 1957
Release Date: 1958
Style or Subgenre: Cool Jazz


Leroy Vinnegar - Leroy Walks Again!
Recording Date: 1962
Release Date: 1963
Style or Subgenre: Cool Jazz


While a fixture as a sideman, Leroy Vinnegar didn't leave a large catalog as a leader. These are his first two albums and have him leading ensembles of less-than-household-name, but still excellent musicians. While the first album has six of seven song titles with the word "walk" in them, only the opening "Walk On," is a Vinnegar original. But all the tunes have an easy swinging air about them. Despite being the leader, Vinnegar doesn't grab a lot of solo time, but he does seem to accomplish his mission, if that is to produce a consistently pleasant, listenable, and still interesting set. The bluesy "I'll Walk Alone," which also gave Vinnegar more solo time, was easily the high point on the album for me.

On the sequel (released six years later), things get a little livelier. Freddy Hill replaces Gerald Wilson on trumpet and drops the mute. Teddy Edwards remains on sax, but seems to get a little more ardent in his playing. The opening "Hard to Find" is a real gem with a slightly exotic sound and all players locked in and pushing the envelope much more than on the previous album. After that, the album slides back into more standard fun time, but retaining the extra level of livelihood and intensity.

The debut was a very good album, but it's the sophomore effort that I'll keep coming back to. If you're looking for some very nice cool tasting sounds with a touch of the blues, either of these albums would likely fill the bill quite well.

Walk On (from Leroy Walks)

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I'll Walk Alone (from Leroy Walks)

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Fischman
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Location: Rocky Mountain High
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  • #467
  • Posted: 08/05/2020 02:02
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Jeff Johnson - The Art of Falling
Recording Date: 1994 - 1996
Release Date: 2001
Style or Subgenre: Modal Jazz, Post Bop, Minimalism-tinged Free Jazz!


This is not likely to be a lot of people's cup of tea. It is unique and original, and it effectively sideslips most attempts at categorization. The music is largely modal, but not always. As a catch-all, post-bop kinda' works. It's often very sparse, like one of the more subdued ECM label albums. But sometimes it gets free, partially shedding tonality and almost completely eschewing identifiable rhythm. Even the faster pieces refuse to fall into a groove. There's rarely anything to sink your groove meter into, but it is wonderful music when in the right mood. It certainly is creative in the manner it gives space to each member of the quartet. While nobody seems inclined to fill the space, overall, the music is full; full of intrigue and wonder. Just don't come here looking for instant gratification. There's no catchy heads to draw you in; you can only be drawn in with patience and a solid attention span, and not have expectations as to where the music should go, but rather relinquish control and let the music take you where it will.

Castles

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Virgo

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The Art of Falling

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Contours

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Fischman
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Gender: Male
Location: Rocky Mountain High
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  • #468
  • Posted: 08/05/2020 16:49
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Kenny Burrell - A Night at the Vanguard
Year: 1959
Style or Subgenre: Bop, Standards, Guitar Jazz


Kenny Burrell has been a hero of mine since my first forays into the world of jazz guitar. He has a number of seminal albums recorded in the studio, but the real measure of a jazz musician shows up in live performance, and on this live date Burrell proves his mastery is not the product of studio magic or multiple takes. This is a genuinely spontaneous live performance and Burrell's line selection is nothing short of exemplary. This live album, along with the studio Midnight Blue are themselves enough to raise Burrell to the pinnacle of jazz guitarmanship. Technically brilliant, artistically expressive, emotionally tasteful, this album is the whole package. Really, I'm astonished every time I listen to it.

All Night Long

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Will You Still Be Mine

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Broadway

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Just a Sittin' and a Rockin'

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Well You Needn't

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Fischman
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Gender: Male
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  • #469
  • Posted: 08/05/2020 17:35
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Lonnie Smith - Afro-Desia
Year: 1975
Style or Subgenre: Jazz Funk


Marcus Miller - Afrodeezia
Year: 2015
Style or Subgenre: Jazz Funk


Here we have a couple of similarly titled albums recorded exactly four decades apart, and both largely inhabiting the jazz funk atmosphere. Lonnie Smith's earlier effort is funky and spiritual, both reverent and exploratory. While every cut is a winner, the highlight of the album is the second cut, the 15 minute epic spiritual journey of "Spirit's Free." Sax man Joe Lovano provides excellent front line melody throughout in concert with Smith's groovy organ. Bassist Marcus Miller's Afrodeezia takes a more modern, and often world music influenced approach. He lets you know he can drop a technically challenging but funky groove and his skilled ensemble help bring it right along. Although very different in sound and presentation, this album is fun in 2015 much the way Smith's was in 1975. Two very fine examples of the mood of their day.

Spirit's Free (from Afro-Desia)

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The Awakening (form Afro-Desia)

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Hylife (from Afrodeezia)

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B's River
(from Afrodeezia)

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Fischman
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Location: Rocky Mountain High
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  • #470
  • Posted: 08/06/2020 00:51
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Crusaders - Free As the Wind
Year: 1976
Style or Subgenre: Jazz Funk, Crossover Jazz, Fusion


They say you're always wedded to the music of your youth. I have noticed an interesting personal phenomenon; I seem to be wedded to music from the time of my youth, even though I never heard it at the time. I was 12 years old and really getting into music in 1976. But all I knew at the time was the pop and disco of my peers, and some of the rock I was able to ferret out independent of my peer group. I discovered The Crusaders (and Donald Byrd's jazz funk era, and Bobbi Humphrey) in my 40s, decades removed from the music's actual release date. But I was immediately smitten. I think the music, while different from what I was exposed to at the time, is still enough of that time, that it still takes me there just as Boston's debut or Kansas' Leftoverture does. Maybe even more so because this jazz funk, with it's heavy groove, electric piano, and massively funky bass lines, seems even more indicative of that early- to mid-70s era;. The opening title cut of this album is to me so prototypical of that era, and so very good at doing it, that I can't help but love it. But while I'm sure the era from whence it came influences my appreciation, I would like to think I'd love this music no matter when I was born or when I started digging tunes. I'm especially enamored of The Crusaders in general, and this album in particular, largely due to the contributions of keyboardist Joe Sample and guitarist Larry Carlton, who really give this era of The Crusaders a uniqueness apart from much of the by-the-numbers funky beat influenced music of the time. Some would say that when The Jazz Crusaders became just The Crusaders, that they weren't legitimately jazz any more, and hey, I don't really care to argue the point. When you're this melodically funky, I don't care what genre you do or don't belong to.... fun is fun and these guys are fun!

Free As the Wind

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Feel It

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