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Back Cover

Gryphon Diablo 300

Blue Note Records B002427702
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd has played in a number of unique lineups, including an early stint as music director for drummer Chico Hamilton’s group in 1960, which included the Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó. Szabó’s distinctive style employed single-note runs that showed a rock influence and he often used open strings to create a drone effect. Bill Frisell has mentioned him as an influence, and Frisell is one of the guitarists in the Marvels. Steel guitarist Greg Leisz is the other, and together with the rest of Lloyd’s new group they create haunting, often ethereal music that embraces blues and country while retaining the complexity of jazz.

Blue Note Records B002285602
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

A few weeks ago, my son directed me to a web link for a concert and suggested we buy tickets. I did not know much about pianist Robert Glasper, aside from the fact that he was one of the artists signed to Blue Note Records in recent years. I assumed he injected some hip-hop into his jazz -- he does -- and that he was trendy and not, ahem, real jazz.

Reprise 550219-2
Format: CD (2)

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

After making five albums for Geffen Records, Neil Young returned to Reprise Records in 1988, and the first product of that reunion was This Note’s for You. Young’s Geffen output -- such recordings as the strange electronica of Trans (1982), and the rockabilly-flavored Everybody’s Rockin’ (1983) -- had thrown label and fans for a loop. This Note’s for You was another unusual turn: a dozen blues and R&B tunes that put Young in front of a horn section. Critics didn’t fall over themselves with praise, but it got a warmer response than the records that had preceded it.

Blue Note/Music Matters MMBST-84195
Format: LP

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment: *****

Pianist Herbie Hancock was just 24 when he recorded Maiden Voyage for Blue Note Records in 1965, and he had already appeared as the leader on four previous albums for the label. He had also appeared as a sideman on many other Blue Note recordings, as well as on LPs by musicians on other labels. But most jazz fans already knew him best as a member of Miles Davis’s second great quintet. Two other members of that quintet, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, appeared on Maiden Voyage.

Strikezone 8812
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Jazz guitarist Dave Stryker has led more than 25 sessions and played on many others, but Messin’ with Mister T shows what a master he’s become. I’ve heard a few of his albums over the years, in particular The Stryker/Slagle Band (2003), the first one he co-led with saxophonist Steve Slagle, and always thought him a solid player with a journeyman quality. After listening to Messin’ with Mister T, I think I need to go back to some of his other recordings.

Compass COM4653
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ***1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

The Waifs are a folk-rock band formed more than 20 years ago by Vikki Thorn and Donna Simpson, sisters from Western Australia. They began as a duo, then, in 1996, and just before recording their eponymous debut album, asked guitarist Josh Cunningham to join them. Ever since, each of the three contributes songs to their recordings, including their newest, Beautiful You.

Charlie Hunter Music CHM006
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Charlie Hunter’s seven- and eight-string guitars are wired to generate separate signals for their bass and treble strings, which allows him to accentuate the bass lines as well as chords and single-note solos. That he can play those parts simultaneously is an indication of his dexterity and virtuosity, but he also does it in a way that is musically exciting and satisfying. He has chops enough to generate fireworks, but he is a song-driven player.

Blue Note Records B0022593-01
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ***1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Blue Note’s 75th-anniversary vinyl release series continues until the end of October, and one recent series of reissues included this 1965 Hank Mobley title comprising two sessions, one from March 7, 1963 and the other from February 5, 1965. Additional tracks from the earlier session had appeared in 1964, on No Room for Squares, and two others would show up on Straight No Filter, a vault-clearing 1986 release that included work from four different sessions.

Verve International
Format: 24-bit/44.1kHz FLAC download available at HDtracks and Acoustic Sounds

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

You have to admire Melody Gardot’s unpredictability. While her first two albums put her firmly in the jazz chanteuse section of the record store with Norah Jones and Madeleine Peyroux, on her third disc, The Absence, she mixed in some bossa nova and other world music. Jones and Peyroux have avoided being pigeonholed themselves, so maybe Gardot does take them as inspiration. At any rate, Currency of Man, her newest disc, has some of the lushness of her previous outings, but the string arrangements more often recall Isaac Hayes or Curtis Mayfield than they do jazz.

Format: 24-bit/96kHz AIFF download
Columbia/Legacy

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Sometimes we like to think we own our favorite musicians: If we like something they’ve done, they should always do it like that. If their new record doesn’t please us, we can laugh it off as a whim, or stop buying their albums. But look at it from the artist’s point of view -- they need to develop, to change, to keep growing.