Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Killer Kuhn!

Steve Kuhn - Steve Kuhn Buddah BDS-5098 (1971)

This album is just so damn good - it hurts. Kuhn's tour de force and definitely his hardest to find - this deserves a huge audience and warrants a sorely needed reissue.

Beauty, depth and weight in equal measure. Monster washes of fender rhodes, tender and soulful lyricism supported by a heavyweight cast which includes pumping bass by none other than Ron Carter, funky but never overpowering drums by Billy Cobham - in fact I've never heard him play better and percussion by Airto Moreira. Add to this already mouth-watering line-up a small string section arranged by Gary McFarland and we have a very special LP indeed.

I believe this was Gary McFarland's final recording date before his untimely and mysterious death but what a way to go..! Saying that though, this is all about Steve Kuhn and it's plainly his show - a handful of his finest compositions delivered in definitive fashion. I envy your first listen.

1) Pearlie's Swine (aka The Zoo)
2) Silver
3) Time To Go (aka Tomorrow's Song)
4) The Heat Of The Moment
5) The Baby (aka Saharan)
6) Hold Out Your Hand (aka The Drinking Song)
7) The Meaning of Love
8) Ulla (aka Remembering Tomorrow)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Melodia Ensemble Part II

Melodia Ensemble - The Works Of Duke Ellington Melodia C60-09261-2 (1978)

More hip Russian big band nuttiness for you - and one that may well have The Duke spinning in his grave! A first rate LP of funky and progressive arrangements of evergreens with real stings in their tails - a real surprising play throughout. All killer... etc.

I'll keep it short and sweet and let the music do the talking.

1) Take The 'A' Train
2) In A Sentimental Mood
3) It Don't Mean A Thing
4) Daydream
5) Cotton Tail

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Melodia Ensemble

Melodia Ensemble - Concert In Bombay Melodia C60-14933-34 (1980)

Russian State label Jazzers in India - whatever next!

A killer LP of funky big band grooves. As is so often the case with Eastern European releases in the 70s & 80s, musical trends tended to lag behind their western equivalents, both technologically and stylistically and this release is no different - so don't let the year fool you.

The Jazz Festival in Bombay is one of the most exotic in the world. Unusual combinations of musical cultures from Africa, America, Asia and Europe, the presence of many distinguished masters of jazz and a sensitive and sympathetic audience - all of which made the festival "Jazz Yatra-80" an extremely happy and colourful one.

The brochure issued by the organizers of the festival - National Jazz Committee of India, Secretary General Committee Narayan Dzhaverm quotes Mahatma Gandhi and has become the motto of the festival: "I want the windows and doors of my house to be wide open. I give the cultures of all countries free entry into my house". Bulgaria, Germany, England, Sweden, Poland, USA, Yugoslavia, Finland, the Soviet Union - this is far from a complete list of participating countries in the festival.

So, back to the album... Original compositions, funky basslines, tight jazzy horns and plenty of Moog. Completely delicious and further proof, should you need any, that exceptional music can have the most unusual origins.

1) Holiday
2) Opus N° 2
3) The Old Fort
4) Whirlpool
5) Remembering A Friend
6) Birds In The Window

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cross Dressers!

Rolando & Luiz Antonio - Meu Coração É Um Pandeiro Ou... RCA Victor FPL-1 0117 (Fra) (1976)

Luiz Antonio was born in Tatui in the state of São Paulo and was in such bands as Pigalle, Som Okey 5 and Biriba Boys. Most notably, in 1972, he left for Barcelona and cut the immortal 'Brasil Aquarius y Luiz Antonio' LP. It was there in 1974, he met Rio born singer Rolando Faria, at that time in the group 'Ronie & Central do Brasil' (already posted on this blog).

France became their home and together they toured as Les Étoiles, adopting transvestite personas on stage as they brought Brasilian music to European concert-goers. From the 3 studio albums they recorded in France - this is their debut and what a belter.

Lots of great party-driven samba inflected tunes - the funky 'Chica-Chica-Boom-Chic' and 'Alô, Alô' were lifted for the single and amply demonstrate this. Other highlights for me include their beautiful harmonising on 'Você' and a killer rendition of Joyce's 'Nacional Kid'.

1) Chica-Chica-Boom-Chic
2) Você
3) Viola-Violar
4) Côco Verde
5) Estão Batendo
6) Antes Que Eu Volte A Ser Nada
7) Sol Negro
8) Nacional Kid Ou Brasileiro
9) Jeanne, La Française
10) Alô, Alô

Monday, October 6, 2008

Eliana Pittman

Eliana Pittman - Estrela É Lua Nova RGE XRLP-5.334 (1969)

Born Eliana Leite da Silva in Rio, 1945 and step-daughter to the great Saxophonist Booker Pittman. Eliana Pittman was not only a great beauty in her day but singer, actress and dancer who had an extraordinary rapport with her audiences, compared with the likes of Josephine Baker, Lena Horn and Carmen Miranda. She even hosted her own TV specials such as 'Eliana em Tom Maior', 'Positivamente Eliana' & 'Eliana Cravo e Canela'.

In 1969, Booker Pittman dies and Eliana starts to sing alone, the result is this cracking album produced by Joao Araujo, the highlight for me being a majestic cover and sublime arrangement of Tiempo de Verano (Summertime) and the incendiary Se Você Pensa. The rest of the album is varied combination of swinging Sambas, groovy Bossas and slow burning ballads.

1) Olelê... Cheguei Agora-Enxuga A Tristeza Do Olhar-Peixe Vivo-Bahia De Todos Os Deuses-Pra Que Dinheiro
2) Que Maravilha
3) Tiempo De Verano
4) Estrela É Lua Nova
5) Fim De Tarde
6) Viva A Vida!
7) Na Baixa Do Sapateiro
8) Se Você Pensa
9) Vou Morrer De Rir
10) E Você Nem Viu
11) Iá Ia Do Cais Dourado

The self-titled Argentine Fermata release of this LP the following year featured an additional track 'El Globo Rojo' or 'The Red Balloon'.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fabiano Orchestra

Fabiano Orchestra - Butterfly Island Franck R Records 8.8002 (1979)

Cracking jazz fusion by the Jean-François Fabiano Orchestra out of Guadeloupe on a French only pressing. Deep spacey keyboard noodling and Rhodes solos courtesy Dominique Bérose, lively melodic horn lines, lyrical guitar licks and worldless females interspersed with tracks of a more West Indian bent. Top draw..!

1) Half Moon Bay
2) Fo Ça Changé
3) Créole
4) Rastaman Rock
5) West Indian Meditation
6) Butterfly Island
7) Fusion (Manahattan Pulse)
8) Pointe Des Chateaux

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Doug Lucas

Doug Lucas - Niara RKM 97036 (1975)

Spiritual funky fusion from Brussels, Belgium by trumpeter Doug Lucas in a 'Placebo' fashion. All tracks penned by Lucas with a band featuring Yvan DeSouter (Bass) and Frank Wuyts (Keyboards). The album was reissued in the same year on Shadybrook Records in the States and was produced by Bruno Castellucci who can be heard on percussion duties.

1) Niara
2) Home Won't Know Me
3) Kinshasa Chant
4) One For You
5) When It Be The Morning
6) As If We Knew

Monday, August 11, 2008

Diane Tell

Diane Tell Pleiade 2424 165 (1977)

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, b Quebec City, to a Canadian father and US mother, 24 Dec 1957. Her childhood was spent between Paris, Montreal and Val-d'Or, Que. She studied violin and classical guitar at the CMM, and jazz guitar at Saint-Laurent College.

She hosted radio shows on Montreal station CKOI and, when she began singing, opened for Rick Derringer, Chris de Burgh and Leo Sayer. She sang in bars of Montreal's West End prior to recording her first album. Her romantic lyrics coupled with melodies inspired by jazz and South American music charmed critics immediately. Following a one-year stay in New York, she launched her second LP featuring the hit 'Gilberto'.

'Gone are the wooden clogs and prehistoric skirts, gone are the homespun recordings where spontaneity covered up for lack of technique, gone is the musical macrame and the political guilt feelings: Diane Tell heralds the era of technocrats and professionals, image-makers and career-builders,' Nathalie Petrowski wrote in Le Devoir (Montreal).

For her debut release, Diane Tell's beautiful Brasilian tinged pop-jazz album is sung entirely in French against a sophisticated selection of melodies.

1) Les Cinémas-Bars
2) Un Verre d'Amour
3) Bien
4) En Pleurer Ou En Rire
5) La Valse
6) Je N'En Peux Plus
7) Rendez-Vous
8) Mon Métier
9) La Vieille Mort
10) Un Nuage De Mots
11) La Vallée De La Mort

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nick Ayoub

Nick Ayoub Jazz Quintet - The Music Of Nick Ayoub Radio Canada International RCI-455 (1977)

Saxophonist, oboist, english hornist, composer, b Trois-Rivières, Que, of Lebanese parents, 7 Sep 1926, d Montreal, 2 May 1991. Raised in Montreal he took up in turn clarinet, tenor saxophone, oboe, english horn, and flute, and studied with Arthur Romano at the CMM. Studies in oboe followed with Harold Gomberg of the New York Philharmonic.
Ayoub began his professional career in 1943, soon playing tenor saxophone in the dance or jazz bands of Johnny Holmes, Maynard Ferguson, the saxophonist Freddie Nichols, and the trombonist Jiro 'Butch' Watanabe. Though a leading studio musician in Montreal by the early 1950s, and occasionally an oboist (and less frequently a saxophonist) with the MSO, he remained active in jazz. An Ayoub quintet performed at the 1963 Montreal Jazz Festival and other Ayoub bands (usually with trumpeter Alan Penfold and pianist Art Roberts) appeared in Montreal clubs, in concert and on various CBC radio jazz programs through the 1970s.

Lovely deep and exotic jazz here released only in Canada. Funky modal grooves are interspersed with more contemplative, searching jazz cuts. A very fine album that deserves far wider recognition.

Ayoub fl, english horn, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, Penfold trumpet, Roberts piano, Angelillo double-bass, Masson drums.

1) Spanish Walk
2) Desert Boots
3) Kittens
4) Put It Out
5) Jazz Concertino Peridot
6) Jazz Concertino Turquoise
7) Jazz Concertino Opale
8) Jazz Concertino Saphir
9) Little Joey

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Peaceful Morning

Rupert Cobbett - Peaceful Morning Soul Deep DM-776 (1976)

Another private press out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Eight original tracks - plenty of breezy beats and nice fender rhodes. You know the score..!

If you like today's funky rhythms, but miss the sounds of legitimate jazz then relax and listen to Rupert Cobbett. Although there is a definate jazz "sound" to Cobbett's music the word doesn't begin to get into the soul of the man's genius. It is more an experience than a sound. It swings like a cool breeze on a hot Jamaican night then mellows to greet the sundrenched "peaceful morning". Lay back and let it sink into your soul.
(taken from the original liner notes)

Rupert Cobbett - keyboards; Bill Prince - horns; Arlin Strader - percussion; Gary Phillips - bass; Produced by Dave Chiodo.

1) Ain't Done Nothing
2) A Song
3) December 18th
4) Se Sau
5) Where Are You Now
6) Blues For Dave
7) There's No End
8) Peaceful Morning

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ghetto Mysticism

Stanton Davis' Ghetto-Mysticism - Brighter Days Outrageous Records #2 (1977)
Any common musical adjective applies here - celestial, cosmic, spaced-out fusion, deep spiritual jazz, afro, poly-rhythmic funky soul, yada yada...

Original private '77 press out of Somerville, Massachusetts although recorded a year or two earlier, trumpeter Stanton Davis assembles a whacked-out melting pot of good grooves here touching a variety of bases. A pretty good listen right through.

Stanton Davis - fluegelhorn, trumpet (4,5), vocal (1,2,5,8,9), percussion (1), prepared piano (3), mellotron & string synthesizer (6); Leonard Brown - soprano sax (1,2,7,8,9); tenor sax (3,4,5), percussion (1,5,6); Bill Pierce - soprano sax (5), alto flute (3); Jerome Harris (listed as "Jerry Harris) - guitar (1,2,5,7,8,9), bass guitar (3,4,5,6), vocal (1,8,9); "King" Wellington - calypso guitar (5); Lee Genesis - vocal (1,4,5,8,9); J.O. Wharthon - vocal (1,5); Armstead Christian - vocal (2,7,8,9); Rénée Franklin - vocal (1,2,7,8,9); Jeannine Otis - vocal (5,8,9); Dan Windham - spoken word (9); Alan Pasqua - keyboards (1,3,4,5,6); Delmar Brown - keyboards (1,2,4,5,7,8,9), vocal (1,2,5,7,8,9); Mark Styles - synthesizer (3); Jeff Anderson - bass guitar (1); Craig Carter - bass guitar (2,7,8,9); Vinnie Johnson - drums (1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9), percussion (2,7,8,9); Les Lumley - congas (1,2,4,5,7,8,9), percussion (3); Keith Copeland - percussion (2); Alyrio Lima Cova - percussion (4,5)

1) Things Cannot Stop Forever (Poon Tang Tally-Wacky)
2) Space-A-Nova I
3) Play Sleep
4) Brighter Days/Brighter Daze
5) Funky Fried Tofu
6) Nida
7) Space-A-Nova II
8) High Jazz
9) High Jazz Reprise

'I wish to dedicate this album to all who can hear their Heartbeat, But especially to those that have heard the heartbeat of another as well. Brighter Days/ Brighter Daze'.
-Stanton Davis Jr.-

CD Reissue coming out on March 15th 2011

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Aquarius - Aquarius Continental 1.07-405-098 (1976)

Here's a delicious slice of Bossa goodness, beautiful soulful vocals set to a dreamy backdrop of arrangements by Raymundo Bittencourt.

This one commands high prices and it's easy to see why within moments of touching the needle down! You may recognise some of the tunes, although the arrangements differ from those on the Burnier & Cartier LP. No Cláudio Cartier here, but you needn't worry, the same breezy vocal appeal comes from Octávio & Sonia Burnier (a la Ronie Mesquita & Central Do Brasil).

Raymundo Bittencourt (acoustic guitar, drums, vocal, arrangements); Octavio Burnier (electric guitar, vocal); Leonardo Luiz (piano); Alberto Arantes (bass) and Sonia Burnier (lead vocal) - all the ingredients are in place and if ever there were an album that embodies that groovy Brasilian spirit that is so in-demand now, this is it! Download now - thank me later.

1) Só Tem Lugar Pra Você
2) A Rã
3) Carolina
4) Falsa Baiana
5) Beijo Partido
6) Só Louco
7) Chega De Saudade
8) Tamanco No Samba
9) Europanema
10) Saudade Da Bahia
11) Atire A Primeira Pedra
12) Tibidabo
13) Pink Bar

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dale Jacobs

Dale Jacobs Group - Live At Puccini's Singwell SW-0003 (1971)

Must remember not to neglect the blog - so my apologies for the lack of updates.

This post goes out to Gary - I was prompted to remember this little treasure after seeing the cover art posted over at his blog 'El Reza'.

Puccini's in Vancouver was one of those restaurants and clubs that seemed to flourish in the seventies - the culmination of Dale's three year residency there being this superb album. Boy, what I'd give to dine and be witness to these sorts of performances nowadays!

The late Canadian Dale Jacobs blossoms on this live set and shows off his true keyboard dexterity even more so here than on his studio albums. We have true analogue wizardry here, no harsh and sterile 'bad-fusion' but slick, lyrical and beautifully funky instrumentals.

1) Discovery (CBC Radio Olympic Theme)
2) Visions Of Rio
3) Splash
4) Without Reservation
5) What Else
6) It's Only The Perfect Love
7) A Last Look At The Summer

Monday, April 14, 2008


Ambiance - Ebun DaMon DMRS-365 (1979)

Ambiance was a little known jazz fusion group out of Los Angeles who recorded on the small independent DaMon label. Their style incorporates Brazilian and Latin flavours with a righteous and soulful afrocentric jazz edge. Members include Daoud (Alto Sax, lute, Shekere, Flexitone, Agogo, Soprano Sax, etc..), Bob Selvin (Keyboards), Peter Lainson (Guitar, Tambourine), Paul Olguin (Bass), John Delatore (Drums), Sarah Flynn (Vocals) and Elisa Jones (Vocals).

I was prompted to remember this LP after seeing the compilation shared over at - I think you'll agree this album is as strong in depth as that compilation - a solid listen right through without one weak track. A great record and one that deserves more than to languish in obscurity...

1) Bossa Monife
2) After June
3) Camouflage
4) O.F.C.
5) Ebun
6) Turnaround
7) Last Tango

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Flight To Rio

Os 3 Do Rio - A Flight To Rio Guilde Internationale Du Disques/Concert Hall SVS-2431-2431 (1966)

Time for some carnival rhythms!! Hip male harmonising drenched in samba and bossa beats. Both the French and German cover art is included for the completists.

1) A Voz Do Morro
2) A-B-C (Ragg Mopp)
3) Batida Diferente
4) Batucada
5) Estrada Do Sol
6) Fechei A Porta
7) Folha Morta
8) General Da Banda
9) Menino Jogando Bola
10) Minha Saudade
11) Mulata Ye-Ye
12) Peidrita Del Mar
13) Pita Camion
14) So Meu Coracao

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Baron

Baron Von Ohlen Quartet featuring Mary Ann Moss - The Baron Creative World CW-3001 (1973)

"John Von Ohlen is the aristocrat of the drums, and he consistently turns in the noblest performance of them all. I am so proud and pleased that Creative World could be the firm to release The Baron's first recording, because it is a milestone in the field of innovative jazz for small groups. The Baron already has an international reputation among the jazz cognescenti. He has been described as a "powerhouse." That he is. But he has submerged his tremendous talent on this first album with his own quartet, to come up with a sublime whole--he is still the driving force, but the other members of the group are given the opportunity to be heard at their best, and their best is a joy. This album not only demonstrates John's great talent, it is solid proof that he is on his way to becoming a major figure in jazz. " -- Stan Kenton

So many people have asked me for this, I caved in under the pressure. Sublimely mellow jazz funk on Stan Kenton's private label. Enjoy...

Whistle: Baron Von Ohlen
Solo: Steve Allee (electric piano)
Solo: Steve Allee (electric piano)
Vocal: Mary Ann Moss
Solo: Steve Allee (electric piano)
Solo: Claude Sifferlen (acoustic and electric pianos)
Solo: Steve Allee (electric piano)
Vocal: Mary Ann Moss
Solo: Claude Sifferlen (acoustic piano)
Solo: Steve Allee (electric piano)
Vocal: Mary Ann Moss
Solos: Claude Sifferlen (electric piano); Steve Allee (Farfisa organ)
Vocal: Mary Ann Moss
Solo: Steve Allee (electric piano)
Vocal: Mary Ann Moss
Solos: Steve Allee (electric piano); Claude Sifferlen (organ); Baron Von Ohlen (drums)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Flute & Nut

Harold McNair - Flute & Nut RCA Camden INTS-1096 (UK) (1970)

McNair started out at the Alpha Boys School under the tutelage of Victor Tulloch, whilst playing with Joe Harriott (a lifelong friend who considered McNair his de facto younger brother), Wilton 'Bogey' Gaynair, and Baba Motta's band. He spent the first decade of his musical career in The Bahamas, where he used the name Little G for recordings and live performances. His early Bahamian recordings were mostly in Caribbean musical styles rather than jazz, in which he sang and played both alto and tenor saxophone. He also played a calypso singer in the 1958 film Island Women. In 1960, he went to Miami to record his first album, a mixture of jazz and calypso numbers entitled Bahama Bash. It was around this time that he began playing the flute, which would eventually become his signature instrument. Initially he had some lessons in New York, but he was largely self taught. He departed for Europe later in 1960.

Like many other West Indian jazz musicians of the 1950s and 1960s (eg Harriott, Dizzy Reece and Harry Beckett), McNair moved to Britain. However, before arriving in London, he toured Europe with Quincy Jones and worked on film and TV scores in Paris. Once in London, he quickly gained a reputation as a formidable player on flute, alto and tenor saxophone, leading to a regular gig at Ronnie Scott's nightclub.
His playing drew the admiration of bass player Charles Mingus, who was in London to shoot the 1961 motion picture All Night Long. McNair was part of a quartet Mingus formed to rehearse with during his stay in Britain. Unfortunately, the band never played live in front of a paying audience, due to a ban imposed by the UK Musicians' Union on US musicians in British nightclubs. A recording of the band exists, playing the earliest recorded version of the now famous Mingus composition Peggy's Blue Skylight, but it has never been released, despite featuring in the movie itself. The Musician's Union ban was lifted later in 1961, leading to a residency by US tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims at Ronnie Scott's club. Ironically, McNair's own quartet were also on the bill, resulting in two of his performances appearing on the album made to commemorate the gigs, Zoot Live at Ronnie Scott's. Around the same time, he also recorded with the drummer Tony Crombie and the percussionist Jack Costanzo.

McNair briefly returned to The Bahamas, where he cut his first all jazz LP Up In The Air With Harold McNair, before settling back in London permanently. His first UK album as a leader, 'Affectionate Fink', was made for the fledgling Island Records in 1965. The session saw him team up with Ornette Coleman's then current rhythm section of David Izenzon (bass) and Charles Moffett (drums), for a set of standards played with hard swinging intensity. McNair equally featured his tenor sax and flute on this session, delivering virtuoso performances on both. His next (self titled) album, cut for RCA in 1968, was another classic and featured probably his most famous composition, 'The Hipster', which has become a perennial fixture on the playlists at jazz clubs and was included on Gilles Peterson's Impressed Vol.2 compilation of 1960s British jazz.
His next album was 1970's Flute and Nut (RCA), which featured big band and string arrangements by John Cameron. This was quickly followed up in the same year by The Fence, which moved in the direction of jazz fusion. Another self-titled album was issued posthumously by the B&C label in 1972, which mixed tracks from the 1968 RCA album with later, unreleased recordings. Notable recorded works as a jazz sideman included sessions with the jazz-rock/big band ensemble Ginger Baker's Air Force and John Cameron's Off Centre. He also recorded with visiting Americans including vocalists Jon Hendricks and Blossom Dearie, drummer Philly Joe Jones and saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis.

1) The Umbrella Man
2) The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
3) You Are Too Beautiful
4) Barnes Bridge
5) Nomadic Joe
6) Herb Green
7) My Romance
8) Burnt Amber

Popular Posts