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CJ Shearn

Bob James' One and the problem of jazz critics

38 posts in this topic

24 minutes ago, Daniel A said:

Also the early A&M/CTI albums? 

Also in the Now Sound section, other than the ones that end up in the Brasilian section.  The only CTI albums I would file in the jazz section would be the odd straight-ahead quartet or quintet session.  And I really don't like CTI's production on straight-ahead jazz, but I love it on the Now Sound stuff.   

 

1 hour ago, kh1958 said:

I file CTI albums in the CTI section.

I don't think I have any label-specific sections, although I do file the KPM albums together under "various."  But some of these are in the Now Sound various section, and some are in the Space Age Bachelor Pad various section.   And one is in the Crime/Noir various section. 

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21 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Also in the Now Sound section, other than the ones that end up in the Brasilian section.

Thanks for your reply. I don't have a Now Sound section, but I think the best early CTIs from the A&M era are a bit different. My favorite is Paul Desmond's "Summertime". The worst track (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da) is out of the character with the rest of the album, which on the other hand is more conservative and with excellent production, including wonderful Don Sebesky arrangements. It just sounds a bit too polished for my take on Now Sound. 

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12 minutes ago, Daniel A said:

Thanks for your reply. I don't have a Now Sound section, but I think the best early CTIs from the A&M era are a bit different. My favorite is Paul Desmond's "Summertime". The worst track (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da) is out of the character with the rest of the album, which on the other hand is more conservative and with excellent production, including wonderful Don Sebesky arrangements. It just sounds a bit too polished for my take on Now Sound. 

The A&M stuff often - not always - had 5 tracks per side, like a Brasil '66 album.  The long, introspective, delirious tracks didn't become a thing until post A&M.

Hubert Laws' take on "Fire and Rain" encapsulates what I'm talking about. 

I define "Now Sound" pretty broadly.  

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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On 12/18/2021 at 10:47 PM, Ken Dryden said:

CTI was never a label I explored in any depth, the dominant music on the label just didn't interest me. I have never been a big fan of electric piano, in most cases, I feel like it is a poor substitute for a grand piano. Bob James' electric piano in the Mulligan/Baker Carnegie Hall Reunion is a major disappointment for me. But there are times where the softer sound of an electric piano fits the song or arrangement better.

But then again, when I started reviewing jazz, I didn't review CTI stuff, even if some CD reissues were sent to me.

I always thought of a review as something to help me decide whether or not I wanted to check out the recording, nothing more. I am not expecting somebody to write 1500 words to describe a single disc, though I used to get a laugh out of those worthless one incomplete sentence AMG reviews by their first jazz editor ("Trio recording live at the Village Vanguard") that were worthless.

Norman Granz quoted Freddie Hubbard in a conversation they had at an English jazz festival where the trumpeter mentioned that he wanted to record with Oscar Peterson, "To get back to playing some real jazz and not this shit I'm into now," as it appears in the liner notes to the Pablo albums Trumpet Summit and Alternate Blues, all music from a session on March 10, 1980. The rest of the musicians included Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Joe Pass, Ray Brown and Bobby Durham. 

Yes! That's right.  I had both those albums pre fire.

On 12/18/2021 at 1:21 AM, danasgoodstuff said:

Thanks for the link.  different perspective from mine, but one that it'll probably do me some good to consider.  Yanow is a hack.

You are welcome.  Kind of surprised it brought forth quite a bit of discussion.

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I think in my youth there were people who dug Bob James but didn´t know about other "Jazz Artists". 

I think they played a tune of him on Radio (Jazz Shop) "El Verano" and I liked it. This must have been around 1977.

I hear Bob James on the "Chet Baker-Gerry Mulligan at Carnegie Hall 1974" and I like both the Fender and the acoustic. Thats really a good rhythm section with Bob James, Ron Carter and Harvey Mason.....

And the CBS All Stars in 1977, Both Bob James and George Duke on pianos/keyboards with all star horns. Stan Getz doing Night Crawler.....

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11 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

I think in my youth there were people who dug Bob James but didn´t know about other "Jazz Artists". 

I think they played a tune of him on Radio (Jazz Shop) "El Verano" and I liked it. This must have been around 1977.

I hear Bob James on the "Chet Baker-Gerry Mulligan at Carnegie Hall 1974" and I like both the Fender and the acoustic. Thats really a good rhythm section with Bob James, Ron Carter and Harvey Mason.....

And the CBS All Stars in 1977, Both Bob James and George Duke on pianos/keyboards with all star horns. Stan Getz doing Night Crawler.....

Yeah, that one is great.  Very upset I lost both Montreux Summit CD volumes in the fire.  Looked up prices on discogs today, ridiculous.  Will just have to stream those in the meantime.

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Please don't knock the CTI albums too much... they were important to me in the first years (early teen) of my developing ears.  Freddie's First Light and Sky Dive come to mind.  Also, Randy Weston's Blue Moses.  Giant Box was eye opening.  Sure, I've grown a bit since then (hand me my Mingus, please) but the time and place they came into being were my formative years.  Because of them, I found out about Freddie's Blue Notes and all of the wonderful music that Weston did before and after CTI and many, many others.  They were a starting point, a seed if you will that led me to many years of happiness.  Do I still listen to them?  Rarely.  But to me, they remind me of my youth and enthusiasm of being different than my peers.  

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Just two Bob James/electric piano tracks for me: "Nautilus" and "Feel Like Makin' Love". After that, forgeddabout it.

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On 12/17/2021 at 9:47 PM, Ken Dryden said:

... I used to get a laugh out of those worthless one incomplete sentence AMG reviews by their first jazz editor ("Trio recording live at the Village Vanguard") that were worthless.

Ron Wynn

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Maybe it's a generational thing. When I first heard Bob James, years after the fact, it was a moment of discovery. He was so heavily sampled in the hip hop of the late 90s and early 00s that it was almost like a game to listen to his records. 

Bob James is perhaps not much better than that, but the anti CTI gatekeeping still exists, and it is damaging. 

It took me years to discover Grover Washington, who I only picked up for the first time after reading some supercilious review in the Guardian that mentioned how shallow people in the 1970s would have a Grover Washington album displayed in their room in order to look deep and get laid. The tone made clear that Washington was beneath the writer's contempt. I followed it up and found that I loved Grover Washington. A danceable popularisation of the more groove driven end of jazz that is in line with the tastes of the post-soul era.

A world where Mr Magic was put forward as a Jazz 101 classic would almost certainly be a world that had more jazz fans.

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Posted (edited)

While I don’t collect Grover Washington’s smooth jazz recordings. the man could play. It’s not like playing smooth jazz ruined his chops for playing great straight ahead jazz when he chose to do so, unlike certain white saxophonists…

On 5/3/2022 at 10:43 PM, reinylegit said:

Ron Wynn

I replaced a lot of Ron Wynn’s one sentence reviews during my 14 years as a contributor.

Edited by Ken Dryden

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4 hours ago, Rabshakeh said:

Bob James is perhaps not much better than that, but the anti CTI gatekeeping still exists, and it is damaging. 

[snip]

A world where Mr Magic was put forward as a Jazz 101 classic would almost certainly be a world that had more jazz fans.

I agree 100%.  

 

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