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Blues Improvisation
Blues Improv

Blues For Peace

Charlie Parker, Miles Davis

Hard Bop Jazz

Hard Bop Jazz Reviews

Swing Jazz | Free Jazz

Fats Blows ~ Fats Navarro
I listened to this music on LP around 10-11 years ago, and I thought it was wild and crazy. When listening to the CD now, after years of listening to Coltrane, Ayler, Dolphy Coleman and such, I was amazed at how structured and melodic this music is. Navarro was an amazing trumpet player, who had a great sound. But what impresses me most is his clear thinking and sensible phrases - he is so confident and always knows were he is going musically.

The tracks are all good, I especially liked "Dance of the infidels", Jahbero, The skunk, Double Talk and Boperation. The rest of the musicians are great too - Sonny Rollins, Bud Powell, Ernie Henry, and Others (Charlie Parker and Tristano play on only one track each). But It's mostly Navarro and it's great. It is an immense loss that this musician died at 27 (1950), and missed so many years of musical creativity.

Live At The Village Vanguard ~ Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins is said to have had great nights and nights when he played but his mind was on other things.

One thing I am certain of - on this night at The Village Vanguard - Rollins mind was focused on playing, and the results are fantastic. In the trio setting Rollins' saxophone takes center stage even more than that usually does. He recorded the interesting "Freedom Suite" and "way out west" with only drums and bass, but I think this time the results are the best. It may have been working with the young Elvin Jones, or just a coincidence, but Rollins' humor and talent for interesting phrases never sounded better.
It seems to me that by 1957 - Rollins was the most developed modern tenor player around. I find it hard to imagine Coltrane at this time playing in a trio format and producing such wonderful results, although this may never be known since as far as I know Trane did not record in such a format.

Idle Moments ~ Grant Green
The magic of the 15 minute title track - Idle Moments - is one of those rare moments in recorded music when the musicians and the music become one, uniting in spirit around the musical fire. This needs to be heard to understand the potential of improvised music to express love and unity.

The rest of the CD also contains elements that make it special as well. As a saxophone player I love the way in which Joe Henderson follows the lead of Grant Green, demonstrating that a sax player does not have to be in front in order to play beautifully.

Bobby Hutcherson's part in every recording he has played on has been crucial - here his sound and tasteful playing is one of the main ingredients to the overall success. Duke Pearson contributed the title track as well the fast tempo Nomad. His playing is sensitive and group oriented throughout. A lot has been written on Green's special playing and his leadership - he deserves all compliments. The drummer and bass players share in this celebration of ego-less group spirit that makes this music so special.

The music shows that when talent and mutual love and understanding join forces, the result is outstanding. This should be the aim of every musician. And to think that most of the musicians here were in their twenties when they reached this high level of musicianship - it is a testimony to their greatness and to the power of the group to elevate its members.

Soul station ~ Hank Mobley
This CD received 5 stars from all reviewers - a very rare achievement. The reason this music has not attracted any detractors is that it is unpretentious, swinging, and mellow.

Take for example the third track - "Dig Dis". It is a medium tempo blues played as "straight" as you can get, with the emphasis on sound and swing and not on altered scales, modes or other theoretical devices. It is a blues content with its simplicity. Winton Kelly's opening piano chorus is as good as blues piano gets, and Mobley's theme and solos follow with so much sureness and ease, that infect the listener with the joyous feeling that to me always comes with good blues. Of special interest is Mobley's unaccompanied break that follows the theme. It is two choruses long, and shows Mobley's inventiveness and control to the fullest.

This is not a ground breaking CD, or an experimental attempt at something new. This is music by great musicians who play how they love to play. I think that a big part of this record's success is the combination of Art Blakey with Winton Kelly and Paul Chambers. These three obviously enjoy playing together, and they create the carpet on which Mobley can lay down his stuff to the maximum.

Kelly's solos on all tracks are wonderful and I believe that a lot of the credit for the music's great mood is due to him. If I could select a band I would like to go and hear in a jazz club, this band would have been one of my first choices. If I was only that lucky!

Bluesnik ~ Jackie McLean
What comes to my mind when listening to the great music here, is that it is an approach to the blues far different than the way Hank Mobley and his group approached it on Soul Station.

McLean and his group are playing music based on the 12 bar (or 16 bar) blues form, but they approach the blues from a different place. There is very little softness or gentleness here. The blues is attacked with full force by all participants, and the emotions projected are uncompromisingly rough. Even the second track, which is at a slow tempo, is played double and triple time by McLean and Hubbard.

The overall sound of the CD is unique, and there are no relaxed, laid back moments that would ease the tension, as one might expect. This is why it is not recommended as a blues album, but as a hard edged hard bop album based on the blues form.

Hampton Hawes Sessions ~ Sonny Criss
This great CD presents material from four recording sessions: from 1949, 1957, 1965 and 1970. They all feature Sonny Criss on alto (except one great soprano ballad) and Hampton Hawes on piano. The other musicians change from session to session.

The final conclusion from hearing this collection is that Criss was definitely one of the greatest bebop and blues altoists in the field called jazz.The four tracks from 1949 are authentic bop pieces, in the spirit of Charlie Parker and Fats Navarro. Criss sounds a lot like Parker, which I think, is a big compliment, but plays with enough drive and precision to be his own man.
The next 3 tracks from 1957 are at a somewhat slower pace, and on Easy Living and “Willow Weep for Me” show that Criss can excel in more than straight bop phrases.

The 1965 session opens with Criss on the beautiful ballad - "Saturday Morning". He sounds older, more experienced. On the 5 tracks from this 1965 he is almost a different player than he was in 1949 - and his style is no longer pure bop, but an original style that is merely influenced by Charlie Parker.

The last four tracks are with Harry Edison on trumpet, Teddy Edwards on tenor, and with Big Joe Turner as a vocalist. Here one has the opportunity to hear Criss in a much more traditional setting, that of a blues band in the original Kansas City style. Criss proves what should already be apparent - that he can play the blues with the best, and more than hold his own.

Neverend ~ Joshua Redman
I admire the courage of Joshua Redman. It is not easy being a tenor player in the 90's when your father blew people's brains out with his tenor in the 60's and 70's. It is not easy choosing to play "straight" - and entering into the field held by the likes of Rollins, Gordon, Coltrane, Henderson, Mobley and others.

On "Beyond", Redman continues to play in the neo-traditional style. His sound reminds me a little bit of Coltrane of the late 50's, but his phrasing is less charismatic. The rhythm section is tight, and the closeness of the musicians to each other is evident.

Redman does some experimenting with Eastern sounds - on "Last rites of rock and roll" - he opens with a drone that is obviously influenced by Indian music. On "Leap of faith" both he and Mark Turner start with an Eastern mode. On both tracks the Eastern influence serves more as an opener than as a theme for the whole track.

Redman is an interesting composer. He is becoming more "mode oriented" than "chord oriented" on this cd - which is great by me. All tracks are interesting - my favorite is "Stoic revolutions" for its super sax playing and tight support from the group. The ballad "Neverend" also stands out for its interesting atmosphere. This CD portrays Redman is an important musician, deeply rooted in Jazz history, and following his own path. The music here was made with great care and ability, and should provide happiness to all those who listen to it.

Jazz Reviews - Three eras of jazz reviews: swing, bop and hard bop and avant-garde by Israeli jazz musician Nadav Haber.

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