Legacy link:
legacy_200w
This new site was launched in July 2010. Visit the older site to access previous articles by clicking above.

Mack Avenue Records MAC1186LP
Format: LP

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

While there are plenty of jazz organists who continue to play the kind of soul jazz that Jimmy Smith made popular on the instrument, it’s hard to think of any who match Joey DeFrancesco’s commitment to that tradition. Larry Goldings is a formidable and accomplished player, but he also spends a good bit of his time playing jazz piano. John Medeski is an exciting, innovative musician, but his music takes in everything from jam-band rock to free jazz.

Blue Note Records/Universal Music Enterprises BST-84323/3808954
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ***½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Jazz pianist Duke Pearson spent most of his recording career with Blue Note Records, where he also arranged and produced for other artists. One of his later recordings for the label was a Christmas album, Merry Ole Soul. He recorded the album’s nine well-known seasonal songs in February and August 1969, with Bob Cranshaw on bass, Mickey Roker on drums, and, on three tracks, Airto Moreira on percussion. Blue Note released the album later that year.

Intervention Records IR-027
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****

The Church, formed in 1980 in Sydney, Australia, released four albums that sold well at home and stirred up some interest in Europe and the US, but it was the band’s fifth album, Starfish (1988), that brought an international following. The band’s previous albums had been recorded at studios in Sydney, but Starfish was recorded in the US, with Greg Ladanyi and Waddy Wachtel producing.

Rhino Entertainment/Warner Records R1 1935 (LP), R2 655956 (CD)
Format: LP, CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***½
Overall Enjoyment: ****

The Grateful Dead’s eponymous seventh album has no official title. It’s often listed as Grateful Dead, but is better known to fans as Skull & Roses, after its unique cover art. The two-LP set, released in 1971, was the Dead’s second live album in what was then the band’s four-year recording career, and contains a number of tunes that would turn up regularly at Dead shows over the years. Drummer Mickey Hart’s three-year hiatus from the band began with Grateful Dead, and keyboard player Tom Constanten had left the previous year. As a result, the Dead sound leaner on Grateful Dead than on 1969’s Live/Dead, the band’s first live album, which was also a double LP.

New West Records NW5514
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***½
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Los Lobos are well respected for the quality of their songwriting, but throughout their career they’ve also excelled at bringing a fresh take to covers of other songwriters’ material. Their discography includes tribute albums to artists as varied as Fats Domino, the Grateful Dead, and Doc Pomus, and their recording of Ritchie Valens’s “La Bamba” was a big hit for them in 1987. Their EP Ride This (2004) comprised covers of seven songs by musicians and songwriters who had appeared on the concurrently released Los Lobos album, The Ride, including Dave Alvin, Elvis Costello, and Richard Thompson.

Pacific Jazz Records/Blue Note Records ST-70/B0032877-01
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

If you’re a vinyl lover and a jazz fan, this is a great time to be alive. Blue Note Records has its Tone Poet and Classic Vinyl series, while Acoustic Sounds and Verve Records are collaborating to reissue titles from Verve, Impulse! Records, and other labels held by Universal Music Enterprises that don’t fall under the Blue Note umbrella. I’ve covered quite a few releases from all three reissue series here, and I had been planning to look elsewhere this month to mix things up until I played Katanga!, a Tone Poet reissue of a 1963 Pacific Jazz session co-led by Curtis Amy and Dupree Bolton.

Verve Records/Impulse! Records B0033210-01
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

Acoustic Sounds, Inc. and Verve Records/Universal Music Enterprises continue their reissue collaboration, the Acoustic Sounds Series, with the re-release of Ray Charles’s 1961 recording for Impulse! Records, Genius + Soul = Jazz. This album consists of ten tracks, three of them featuring Charles on vocals, with big-band arrangements by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns. Prior to the original release of Genius + Soul = Jazz, Charles’s 1959 album The Genius of Ray Charles had also featured big-band arrangements by Jones, among others, on one side—and Burns had provided the string arrangements on side 2.

Provogue Records PRD76431
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ***½
Sound Quality: ***½
Overall Enjoyment: ***½

Steve Cropper is a guitarist many people know without actually knowing his name. His guitar riff opens Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man,” and he appeared on countless other recordings on the Stax Records label, and on sister label Volt Records, as a member of the Stax/Volt house band, Booker T. & the MGs. He cowrote a number of songs with Otis Redding, including the singer’s biggest hit, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” After the Stax/Volt years, he played on, or produced, records by Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon, to name just a few.

Blue Note Records B003313501, B003313402
Formats: LP, CD, 24-bit/96kHz FLAC download

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ***½

Tone Poem is Charles Lloyd’s third outing as leader of the Marvels, the quintet that derives much of its unique sound from the combination of Bill Frisell on guitar and Greg Leisz on pedal steel. Lloyd’s stalwart rhythm section, drummer Eric Harland and bassist Reuben Rogers, who have appeared on many of Lloyd’s recordings since the mid-2000s, completes the group.

EmArcy Records/Verve Records MG 36037/B0032412-01
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown was only 25 when he died in a car accident in 1956, but during the four years he recorded as a leader and sideman he developed a strong following among fans and fellow musicians. His sure tone and melodic inventiveness led critics to compare him with Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, but his greatest influence was Fats Navarro, who, like Brown, died young. Highlights of Brown’s short recording career include working with jazz drummer Art Blakey and sessions with West Coast jazz players—both as leader and as coleader with saxophonist Lou Donaldson—but he hit his stride in the quintet he cofounded in 1954 with drummer Max Roach.