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mjzee

BFT 199 - Reveal!

9 posts in this topic

Track 1: Charles Owens - Serenade In Blue (Warren, Gordon).  Charles Owens, soprano sax; George Cables, piano; Ray Brown, bass; Roy McCurdy, drums.  2/15/80.  From “Plays The Music of Harry Warren, Vol. 1” (Discovery). 

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I don’t know much about Charles Owens.  The liner notes state he played with Buddy Rich, Mongo Santamaria, Gerald Wilson, Frank Zappa, Patrice Rushen, Henry Franklin, and Frank Morgan “among many others on the busy Los Angeles scene.”  Besides soprano, he also plays tenor sax, alto flute and flute on this date.  I don’t know why I find this album so enjoyable.  I hear what some here say about his MOR-ish overtones, but he plays with enough substance to engage me.  It’s possible he was restraining himself (perhaps under orders from Albert Marx, the producer?), because the notes also state that “the fiery, energetic Contraneisms of” (another track) is “the one selection in this set that most closely approximates his usual playing style.”  Certainly the music of Harry Warren is very appealing, and the supporting musicians are top notch.  I don’t know how George Cables makes this sound like a Monk tune, but, as Allen Lowe reminds us, Monk said “it can’t be any new note.  But if you mean a note enough it will sound different.”  I searched for years for “Charles Owens Plays The Music of Harry Warren, Volume 2” without luck.  Internet research now tells me there was a Volume 2 on Discovery, but not by Charles Owens; it was by Spike Robinson.

Track 2: Kim Parker - Born To Be Blue (Wells, Torme).  Kim Parker, vocals; Mal Waldron, piano; Isla Eckinger, bass; Ed Thigpen, drums.  May 28 & 29, 1985.  From “Sometimes I’m Blue” (Soul Note). 

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This was the biggest surprise from the Mal Waldron Soul Note box.  Charlie Parker’s daughter?!?!?  For that reason alone, I find it fascinating.  Mal Waldron is certainly no slouch, either.

Track 3: Ralph Towner, Gary Burton - The Donkey Jamboree (Ralph Towner).  Ralph Towner, twelve-string guitar, classical guitar; Gary Burton, vibes, marimba.  May 1985.  From “Slide Show” (ECM). 

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Two of my favorite artists.  Ralph Towner is a national (international?) treasure.

Track 4: Herb Ellis - Billie's Bounce (Charlie Parker).  Herb Ellis, guitar; Bobby Bruce, Johnny Gimble, violin; Floyd Domino, piano; Willie Nelson, guitar; Herb Remington, steel guitar; Tommy Alsup, bass; Tommy Perkins, drums.  June 1992.  From “Texas Swings” (Justice). 

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Interesting that most here thought the rhythm section was too stiff.  Still, if Willie owns the record label, you’re probably going to use his band.  These guys can play, though.  If they don’t fully mesh with Ellis, it’s still a nice encounter.

Track 5: Hank Garland - All The Things You Are (Kern, Hammerstein II).  Hank Garland, guitar; Gary Burton, vibes; Joe Benjamin, bass; Joe Morello, drums.  1961.  From “Jazz Winds From A New Direction” (Columbia). 

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Guitarists seem to revere this album.  Garland was a Nashville session guitarist who made this album and then got into a gruesome car accident, never to record again.  Gary Burton was 17.  Just crazy good.  As Richard Ginell on allmusic.com put it, “Lots of folks in the country music streets of Nashville and the jazz canyons of New York were shaken up by this release, for country supersession man Hank Garland demonstrated that he could be just as persuasive rattling off swift, sophisticated bebop as he was playing thousands of country licks on the jukeboxes.”

Track 6: Juan Tizol & His Orchestra - Keb-Lah (Juan Tizol).  Dick Cathcart, trumpet; Juan Tizol, valve trombone; Willie Smith, alto sax; Babe Russin, tenor sax; Arnold Ross, piano; Irving Ashby, guitar; Ed Mihelich, bass; Nick Fatool, drums.  4/7/46.  From “The Keynote Jazz Collection” (Fresh Sound). 

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This track jumped out at me while listening to this box set.  It’s Caravan, but it’s not.  If you’re going to steal from someone, you may as well steal from yourself, right?  I was very impressed by JSngry ID’ing Willie Smith.

Track 7: Ronnie Cuber - Coming Home Baby (Ben Tucker).  Ronnie Cuber, baritone sax; Ed Cherry, guitar; Brian Charette, Hammond B3; Adam Nussbaum, drums.  February 2018.  From “Four” (SteepleChase). 

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Yeah, these guys just doing their thing.  This might have been just another night’s gig for them.  I hope they go on forever.  The big surprise for me is Brian Charette, who’s just so good all over this album (I notice that Joe put a Charette solo track in BFT 198).  And Cuber has that thick, greasy sound.  It was tough picking a track from the CD, since it’s all at this high level.

Track 8: Chico Hamilton - Shirley (Carson Smith).  Buddy Collette, flute, clarinet, alto sax; Fred Katz, cello; John Pisano, guitar; Carson Smith, bass; Chico Hamilton, drums, vocal.  June 28 & 29, 1989.  From “Reunion” (Soul Note). 

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This was a very pleasant surprise on the Hamilton Soul Note box, because I’m not that familiar with the original quintet.  I like the intelligence and sly humor; I can somehow picture Richard Gere doing a soft shoe through this.  And the timing - how they all slide in at just the right moment.  And the restraint.  I love this track.

Edited by mjzee

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Track 9: Johnny Griffin - Ballad for Monsieur (Sara Cassey).  Johnny Griffin, tenor sax; Barry Harris, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Ben Riley, drums.  1/5/62.  From “The Kerry Dancers” (Riverside). 

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We think of Griffin as a monster burner, so it’s a surprise and delight to hear his restrained, tender side.

Track 10: Randy Weston & Billy Harper - Blues To Senegal (Randy Weston).  Randy Weston, piano; Billy Harper, tenor sax.  February 8 & 9, 2013.  From “The Roots Of The Blues” (Sunnyside). 

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Most here were able to identify this, which gives me hope for humanity.

Track 11: Joanne Brackeen - International Festival (Joanne Brackeen).  Joanne Brackeen, piano; Eddie Gomez, bass.  August 1978.  From “Prism” (Choice). 

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One of the big hits of this BFT.  This is a good, knotty track, but not helped by Choice’s recording studio/living room.  Gomez should have been miked better.  I think JSngry nailed it as to Gomez’s playing personality.  Brackeen is obviously a pretty powerful pianist, but it's the composition that has stayed with me.

Track 12: Jack Walrath - Demons In Pursuit (Jack Walrath).  Jack Walrath, trumpet, flugelhorn; John Scofield, guitar; Jim McNeely, piano, organ; Ray Drummond, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums.  August 21 & 22, 1979.  From “Demons In Pursuit” (Gatemouth). 

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When this album came out, I received a promo copy from a friend of a friend who drew the illustration for the album’s insert (yes, I am that well-connected).  It’s great to hear all these guys when they were young and full of piss and vinegar…and then there’s Dannie Richmond, keeping up with all of them.  Gatemouth Records only had two releases.  The other, Jim McNeely’s “The Plot Thickens,” was later reissued on Muse, but the Walrath inexplicably never was.

Track 13: Miles Davis - Minnie (Miles Davis).  Miles Davis (tpt, org); Sam Morrison (ts); Pete Cosey (g, perc); Reggie Lucas (g); Michael Henderson (el-b); Al Foster (d); James Mtume Forman (cga, perc).  5/5/75.  From “The Complete On The Corner Sessions” (Sony Legacy). 

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Another box set that’s pure pleasure; the “On The Corner” material is a lot more enjoyable without Teo’s “assistance.”  But when I heard “Minnie,” my jaw dropped.  This is the missing link between the Miles we knew and his ’80’s style (Time After Time, etc.).  It’s fascinating to know he was thinking about this “direction” around the same time as Agharta and Pangaea.

Track 14: Sam Jones - Holy Land (Cedar Walton).  Cedar Walton, piano; Sam Jones, bass; Billy Higgins, drums; Masaya Katsura String Quartet.  12/21/74.  From “Seven Minds” (East Wind). 

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More of a curiosity than anything else; the string quartet doesn’t really fit (it could be they’re just undermiked), but I like that they tried.  Did Sam Jones ever make a bad record as leader?

Track 15: Ted Curson - Snake Johnson (Ted Curson).  Ted Curson, trumpet (piccolo trumpet?); Ray Drummond, bass; Roy Haynes, drums.  1/3/79.  From “The Trio” (Interplay/Art Union). 

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I’ve mused about this album, and specifically this track, for 40 years.  The trio format is notoriously difficult in jazz.  Pianists are probably best at it, because the piano is a chordal instrument.  But a single note instrument presents real challenges maintaining interest over a long track.  Sonny Rollins met the challenge head on in “A Night At The Village Vanguard,” but he used all the tricks in his book: volume, fullness of tone, speed and momentum. A trumpet is far more difficult on the lips, and Ted Curson doesn’t have a big, brassy sound.  So why oh why would he choose to perform a fast 7 1/2 minute composition where the focus is exclusively on him?  What was he thinking?  The result we hear is as if he’s facing a bull in the ring who is much larger, stronger and faster than he is, and I have found the results consistently fascinating.  I’m not saying it’s a successful performance, but it’s a compelling one.  Roy Haynes is in on the fun, and Ray Drummond is saying “I somehow have to keep this all together.”

Track 16: Paul Desmond - Take Five (Paul Desmond).  Paul Desmond, alto sax; Ed Bickert, guitar; Don Thompson, bass; Jerry Fuller, drums.  Bourbon Street, Toronto, October 25-26, 1975.  From “The Complete 1975 Toronto Recordings” (Mosaic). 

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I knew this track was a gimme for this crowd, but I wanted to celebrate probably the most enjoyable box set of the year.  You just luxuriate in it.  Bickert is as good as they say.  This take is better than the one originally released on A&M/Horizon.

Thanks for letting me do this BFT.  I really liked all your responses.

Edited by mjzee

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my response to #12 now makes a lot of sense to me.  I really like Walrath, I really don't like Scofield, and McNeeley isn't really an organ player. Juxtoposition of #4 and #5 is interesting (jazz guitarist with country rhythm section, "country" guitar player with jazz rhythm section).  And I have that Garland album (as well as the Parker, Towner, Griffin, and Miles).  Not familiar with that Curson, need to look it up.  And must have the Brackeen!  Thanks for stimulating BFT!

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I'd be more ashamed of missing the Griffin track but several with ears way superior to mine missed on that too.  While I've thought of Griff as one of those that people always *know* I guess you were right that the softer side of his playing isn't as recognizable.

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Don't know why all the graphics disappeared between yesterday and today, but I've reinstated them.

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Eeesh.  I missed Miles.  It seemed too obvious.  Surprised I didn't like the Owens cut more.  And fooled by JG!?  WTF is wrong with me!?

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That is a surprising Reveal. I would not have guessed those musicians for Track 1, which seemed more smooth jazz like to me. I have never owned the Jack Walrath album from which Track 12 comes, but I need to get it, as I love Track 12. 

On Track 4, I am not surprised that Willie Nelson is playing guitar. I have seen Willie live several times and his guitar playing has been surprisingly excellent, and more edgy than one would expect. 

On Track 6, I really thought it was Ben Webster playing. 

I am not familiar with the albums from which Tracks 5, 7, 8. 10, 11, 12. 14 and 15 come from, and I am going to start looking for all of them. 

Track 16 was so obvious that I overthought it and imagined that it must be more of a curveball than it was. 

Great BFT! Between my listening enjoyment and learning about so many intriguing albums, I think this is one of the best BFTs in a long time. 

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10 hours ago, Hot Ptah said:

 

On Track 4, I am not surprised that Willie Nelson is playing guitar. I have seen Willie live several times and his guitar playing has been surprisingly excellent, and more edgy than one would expect. 

I saw him once in the 80's as a favor, and also was shocked how unexpectedly exceptional his guitar playing was.

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Some great songs here and I'm surprised I couldn't get that Griffin either b/c I have that album and really like it. And Brian Charette is a beast - got to pick up some of his stuff. Excellent BFT all around!

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