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  1. BFT 196 -- THE REVEAL!!!!

    My process for programming a BFT usually involves making a list throughout the year. As most of my listening time is on my commute these days, this year proved a bit challenging. On the upside, I’ve started making more time to just sit and listen, which has been missing. On the downside, a lot of this test was assembled on the fly, late last month. The occurrences of slight duplication of personnel were unintentional, but are probably the only thing holding this test together. Incidentally, the two cuts with Dennis Gonzalez were chosen long before he agreed to do last month’s test. #serendipity 01-Weird Nightmare (Charles Mingus) - Mingus Big Band featuring Ku-Umba Frank Lacy - (2014) Mingus Sings Arranged by Sy Johnson; Frank Lacy - vocals; Alex Norris, Jack Walrath, Lew Soloff - trumpet; Coleman Hughes, Conrad Herwig, Earl McIntyre - trombone; Abraham Burton, Brandon Wright, Craig Handy, Wayne Escoffery - tenor saxophone; Alex Foster - alto & soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet; Ronnie Cuber - baritone saxophone; David Kikosk i- piano; Boris Koslov - bass; Donald Edwards - drums First time I heard this was in college, with Elvis Costello doing the lyrics. It was a well-intentioned, pretty awful record of Mingus’ music done by unexpected people. I’ve seen Ku-Umba sing on multiple occasions live, and it was ALWAYS better than it is on this record. It is what it is. 02-The Sorrow of Guernica (Pinkish Black & Yells At Eels) - Pinkish Black & Yells At Eels - (2019) Vanishing Light in the Tunnel of Dreams Dennis Gonzalez - trumpet; Daron Beck - keys; Aaron Gonzalez - bass, electric bass, voice; Stefan Gonzalez - drums, percussion, marimba; Jon Teague - drums, synthesizer Dennis was kind enough to speak to one of my classes, and as we were chatting beforehand (via Google Meet) he mentioned this project. I’m a fan, and have quite a DG collection, so this was a no-brainer. Dennis does not sit idle, he is constantly evolving. Purists may be put off by that, but every conversation I’ve ever had with the man has been an encapsulated education. 03-African Drums (Beaver Harris) - David S. Ware Quartet - (1999) Surrendered David S. Ware - tenor saxophone; Matthew Shipp - piano; William Parker - bass; Guillermo E. Brown - drums My friend Ken Eisen played this on his radio show the first time I heard it. I broke out in a cold sweat. The same thing happens every time I hear this song (and I always play it back-to-back with itself). I know Ware and Shipp can be polarizing, but to my ear, this is everything. The energy in this recording, as well as the musicianship, are terrifyingly beautiful. 04-Little Melonae (Jackie McLean) - Frank Lowe Trio - (1997) Vision Blue Frank Lowe - tenor saxophone; Steve Neil - bass; Anders Griffen - drums From the CIMP heyday. Bob Heroux, a late friend of my family, once described Frank Lowe’s playing as, “very thoughtful”. It’s the perfect description. Frank is so unique, and so absent any bullshit in his playing that I just love him. He did a few of the records around this time, all shorter songs, all understated. Very glad I got to see him with Billy Bang before he left this plane. One of the REAL cats. 05-Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn) - Heinz Sauer/Michael Wollny - (2005) Certain Beauty Heinz Sauer - tenor saxophone; Michael Wollny - keys I’ve played another cut from this record on a previous BFT, Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U. I first came to Heinz as a sideman in George Adams’ band, and I didn’t appreciate him right away. I heard him, initially, as watered-down Shepp. Later, when I came across the Prince cover, I developed a new ear and a newfound respect for his playing. He’s not Kansas City, but he’s an interesting and serious player. A lot of this record pushes my boundaries due to the synth, but I keep going back to it. Also, he STILL reminds me of Shepp. 06-Hello Little Girl (Kemp/Ellington) - The Duke Ellington Orchestra featuring Jimmy Rushing - (1959) Ellington Jazz Party Jimmy Rushing - vocals; Andres Ford, Cat anderson, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie (soloist), Shorty Baker, Ray Nance - trumpet; Britt Woodman, John Sanders, Quentin Jackson - trombone; Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope - alto saxophone; Paul Gonzalves - tenor saxophone; Jimmy Hamilton - tenor saxophone, clarinet; Harry Carney - baritone saxophone; Jimmy Jones - piano; Jimmy Woode - bass; Sam Woodyard - drums; Arranged & conducted by Duke Ellington This was the gimme on this test, but MAN! What a bitch this is! I wish Jimmy’d spent his whole career with Duke. Hearing him go up against the mighty Ellington cast, THIS is what it’s all about, baby! Just a 12-bar blues, but absolutely on fire! If this doesn’t move you, pull the dirt over you, because you’re gone. And, oh yeah, that trumpet player isn’t half bad, either. 07-My Old Flame (Sam Coslow) - J.R. Monterose Quartet - (1979) Welcome Back J.R.! J.R. Monterose - tenor saxophone; Hod O’Brien - piano Teddy Kotick - bass; Jimmy Wormworth - drums Let’s be honest, this album is all about the cover. Later re-issued as Lush Life. J.R. is another guy I was slow to come to, but as I age, he really speaks to me (though, more his earlier work, but this album is still a nice piece of my collection). This was an eBay score from Japan. The one thing I’ve always admired about J.R. is that he’s completely himself, always. This record is no exception. I recall reading that he kicked his heroin addiction cold turkey, alone, because he knew if he’d gotten help, he’d go back to it. That says a lot about who he is and that came across in his playing. 08-First Take (Richard Gardzina) - Richard Gardzina - (1998) Play This Richard Gardzina - tenor saxophone; Steve Aubert - piano; Roger Kimball - bass; David Berman - drums Richard was my most influential private teacher. Truly a great guy and a wonderful musician. This track is the class of this record, and it showcases what I love about his playing so well. You can hear his influences, but he always stays true to himself. In addition to being a terrific musican and teacher, he’s an absolutely quality human being. I swear I’ve included this cut before, but a search of the BFT thread does not turn it up. 09-Camel (Dennis Gonzalez) - Alvin Fielder Trio - (2007) A Measure of Vision Dennis Gonzalez - trumpet; Chris Parker - piano; Aaron Gonzalez - bass; Alvin Fielder - drums I first heard Dennis play this song in person with Rodriguo Amado and Yells At Eels. It blew me away then, and continues to do so. The live version was *so* intense. Later I asked Dennis for a copy of the chart, which he sent. When covering this tune, the drummer on the session said, “Man, it’s just so *greasy*!” I’m not sure if that was Dennis’ intent, but that’s what I love about playing this song — you can just get *so* nasty! 10-Little Sunflower (for Roy Hargrove) (Freddie Hubbard) - The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble - (2019) Be Known: Ancient / Future / Corey Wilkes - trumpet; Alex Harding - baritone saxophone; Ian Maksin - cello; Kahil El’Zabar - drums, percussion Finally got to see Kahil (w/David Murray) last spring. My word. Epic. I love what it is that he does. Don’t know what to call it, don’t care — I love it. Thanks to Tim Webb for convincing me to give this album a try. I had seen some videos from their tour, and they didn’t do what I’d hope they would. Not sure if it was the recordings, or just a couple of off nights, but THIS is what I was expecting. LOVE Alex Harding. THE man on the big horn, at the moment. This is not the best track on the album, but I was tryiing to be time conscious (particularly where there were already several other long tracks). 11-Stay Informed (Heinz Sauer) - George Adams - (1979) Sound Suggestions George Adams, Heinz Sauer - tenor saxophone; Kenny Wheeler - trumpet; Richie Beirach - piano; Dave Holland - bass; Jack DeJohnette - drums This has always been my favorite George Adams record. I played the death out of my original copy. I was playing for a friend who would go on to be a very well known pro (when I was about 14). We were at his house and I had him put on this track. He was looking at the liners and said during George’s mercurial solo, “Dude, that’s Heinz!” showing me the album jacket. It was not. His speakers were wired incorrectly left-right. I took a deep breath (he was five years older than me, and we had this music in common, so I didn’t want to tread heavily) and said, “no, the jacket is wrong.” I didn’t want to suggest that he had wired his speakers wrong (though, in fact, he had). Anyway, I was slow to appreciate what Heinz does on this recording, particularly where I was SUCH a huge George Adams fan as a kid. It’s not George at his most tasteful, but he definitely claims his territory here, and I love it. This album was also my introduction to Kenny Wheeler. It was years (decades?) before I actually heard Deer Wan, but to me, this album and that go hand-to-hand (see what I did there?). 12- Song For Pharaoh (Ronnie Cuber) - Ronnie Cuber - (1993) The Scene Is Clean Ronnie Cuber - baritone saxophone; Georg Wadenius - guitar; Geoff Keezer - keys; Reggie Washington - bass; Victor Jones - drums; Manolo Badrena, Milton Cardona - percussion I didn’t have a lot of Cuber in my collection, but I got turned onto this via a Facebook post (probably by Tim Price). There is nothing I don’t love about this track. It just works on every level, and is an absolute earworm. Go ahead, try to make it through your day after this without humming it — it can’t be done. Hope you found something to make your ears smile.