Friday, 30 January 2009

Jaco Pastorius Big Band - Word of Mouth Revisited 2003[DSD HUSA 9078]

Word of Mouth Revisited 2003[DSD HUSA 9078]

Genre: Jazz/Bass
Format: Wv + cue + log
Released: 2003
Label: Heads Up
Number of Discs: 1

This unusual lineup of virtuosi bassists is a tribute to the music and spirit of the late Jaco Pastorius who came to fame with Pat Metheny, Weather Report, Joni Mitchell and his later Word of Mouth big bands. He revolutionized the electric bass guitar in jazz and fusion, moving it from a supportive role to one of leadership. Bassist Christian McBride calls him the Charlie Parker of the electric bass. (Pastorius died in l987 after a serious downturn from mental problems.) The 14-piece band is fronted by Graves who led the band at a club in Ft. Lauderdale visited by major jazz figures, where Pastorius developed much of his arranging and composing chops. Some of the most talented bass players today are guest soloists in these charts of Pastorius originals arranged by Graves and others. Included are McBride, Marcus Miller, Gerald Veasley, Victor Wooten, Victor Bailey, Richard Bona, Jeff Carswell, Jimmy Haslip and David Pastorius. There is also a previously unreleased track with Jaco himself. ....

Monday, 26 January 2009

Deep Purple - Who Do We Think We Are 1973 [2005 Gold Disc AFZ 027]

Who Do We Think We Are 1973 [2005 Gold Disc AFZ 027]

Genre: Rock
Format: APE + cue + log
Released: 1973
Label: Audio Fidelity
Number of Discs: 1

Who Do We Think We Are was the last album that the Mark II lineup of Deep Purple recorded. Arguably, this is the finest lineup the rock legends ever had. It seems only fitting that Audio Fidelity decided that it was worthy of its 24KT Gold treatment. This series of gold disc releases are destined to be coveted collectors items as soon as they hit the racks and it makes that much more enticing to own such fine recordings for your own collection.

I always loved “Woman From Tokyo” but after hearing “Rat Bat Blue” in this format, it is by far the best track on the album. Ritchie Blackmore was at an apex playing his patented blues-rock licks and all seven tracks prove that unequivocally. There are many great Deep Purple albums and the previous release Machine Head certainly rivals this album in many ways. It is a tough call picking which one is the best....

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Victor Wooten - Palmystery (2008)

Palmystery 2008

Genre: Jazz / Fusion
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: April 1, 2008
Number of Discs: 1

The story of Victor Wooten is closely connected with the GRAMMY-winning supergroup, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones. As a longtime member of the group and under the influence of genius and bandleader Béla Fleck he developed his incredible mastership and technique as one of the premier bass players worldwide. It's naturally that further bass mentors were Stanley Clarke, Larry Graham and Bootsy Collins. After Show of Hands, in 1996 Victor recorded What Did He Say? (1997), Yin-Yang (1999 ), the two-disc Live In America (2001 ), Soul Circus (2005) and now Palmystery (2008).
Victor comments the title of his new album: "A song is just an idea until someone brings it into the world,” he says. “That’s the great mystery of music or any creative endeavor. The power is in the palm of your hand. You just have to release it to the world.” Guest musicians on his new album are Mike Stern, Richard Bona, Keb’ Mo’ and several others. But not the names of the musicians are important. It's the idea, the concept, the process of creation. “It doesn’t matter how you go about writing songs,” says Wooten. “The music is coming from somewhere. If we think it’s our brain, or some strictly intellectual source, I would say we’re mistaken. Sometimes the songs show up quickly, almost completely. That’s when you realize, ‘Wow, I didn’t even write this song. It happened on its own.’ But whether it comes together in 30 minutes or several months, it’s coming from the same place. Call it what you want to – spirituality, mysticism, whatever – that energy is there. The musician is the conduit that enables that energy to enter the world.”
After such great philosophical words let's have a glimpse on this fantastic album. With the introducing piece Timers Victor immediately clarifies his position as top notch bass player and excellent composer. The arrangement reminds me of structures and arrangements I observed in Joe Zawinul's work. It's jazz fusion with a popular appeal. Serious but attractive. Ingenious the entry of Howard Levy on harmonica. Howard was a founding member of the Béla Fleck & the Flecktones and is a longtime friend of Victor.
Gambo is a piece of galactic dimension. This macabodacius assimilation of human language by filters and presets makes me speechless. Joseph Wooten on keys is a sorcerer and Derico Watson on bongos drummed by sticks, what a hell of sound tight adroitness and swiftness. Really men, you give me a whack....

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Marcus Miller - Marcus 2008

Marcus 2008

Genre: Fusion
Format: Ape + cue + log
Released: March 4, 2008
Label: Concord Records
Number of Discs: 1

More than three decades after first bursting onto the New York music scene, Grammy-winning bassist Marcus Miller is still a vibrant presence in R&B and jazz. At any particular point in time he might be functioning as a producer, composer, arranger, or performer — and sometimes all at once. That's the case with his newest album - his first for Concord - which is simply titled Marcus.

Miller is a talented multi-instrumentalist who is not only skilled on electric bass, but also keyboards, clarinet, sax, sitar and probably a few more besides. Just about everything shows up on his seventh solo album, a 13-track collection that's top-heavy with his own compositions — not that there's anything wrong with that...

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Bad Company - Bad Company 1974 (2006 Gold HDCD AFZ024)

Bad Company
Bad Company 1974 (2006 Audio Fidelity Gold HDCD AFZ024)

Genre: Rock
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: 1974
Label: Audio Fidelity
Number of Discs: 1

On its first album, Bad Company — led by former Free singer Paul Rodgers and original Mott guitarist Mick Ralphs—resembles Free in i?? structural starkness and early Mott in its stormy directness. In Bad Company, Robert Benton's overlooked 1972 western from whose title the group got its name, the chief characters, Civil War-era teenage romantics, displayed a sort of swaggering innocence that was quite affecting. The personality of this appealing new band is similar.

The rhythm section — bass player Boz Burrell and another former Free member, drummer Simon Kirke—plays with such economy you'd think they're penalized for hitting unnecessary notes. But they make up for the spareness of their lines through the sheer muscularity of their playing (Kirke is as physical a hitter as any I've heard). This hard, spartan bottom forms a tangible base for the exploits of the two front men....

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Jazz Side of the Moon - The music of Pink Floyd (2008)

Jazz Side of the Moon
Music of Pink Floyd [SACD]

Genre: Jazz
Format: Wv+ cue + log
Released: 2008
Label: Chesky
Number of Discs: 1

Pink Floyd’s Dark of the Moon is surely one of the top iconic rock recordings of all time, especially with audiophiles. We’re nearly all familiar with the wide range of progressive music and sound, the hard-nosed and gloomy lyrics, and the sound effects which have been used as audio equipment tests - the heartbeats, the ticking, the sounds of money. Jazz has evolved greatly in recent years, turning to a wider variety of music for recasting in a jazz mold. Remember it was only in the 1950s that jazz versions of Broadway musicals began being heard. Classical themes were often used by swing bands in the 1930s, but the classical/jazz mix had taken on a new complexity and depth lately. A few rock albums have been given jazz treatments, but I feel this one may well become recognized as the best to date.....

Monday, 5 January 2009

Sting - The Dream of the Blue Turtles 1990 [MFSL UDCD528]

The Dream of the Blue Turtles 1990 [MFSL UDCD528]

Genre: Rock/Pop
Format: WV + cue + log
Released: 1985
Label: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab / UDCD-528
Number of Discs: 1

The Police never really broke up, they just stopped working together — largely because they just couldn't stand playing together anymore and partially because Sting was itching to establish himself as a serious musician/songwriter on his own terms. Anxious to shed the mantle of pop star, he camped out at Eddy Grant's studio, picked up the guitar, and raided Wynton Marsalis' band for his new combo — thereby instantly consigning his solo debut, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, to the critical shorthand of Sting's jazz record. Which is partially true (that's probably the best name for the meandering instrumental title track), but that gives the impression that this is really risky music, when he did, after all, rely on musicians who, at that stage, were revivalists just developing their own style, and then had them jam on mock-jazz grooves — or, in the case of Branford Marsalis, layer soprano sax lines on top of pop songs. This, however, is just the beginning of the pretensions layered throughout The Dream of the Blue Turtles. Only twice does he delve into straightforward love songs — the lovely measured "Consider Me Gone" and the mournful closer, "Fortress Around Your Heart" — preferring to consider love in the abstract ("If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," one of his greatest solo singles, and the childish, faux-reggae singalong "Love Is the Seventh Wave"), write about children in war and in coal mines, revive a Police tune about heroin, ponder whether "Russians love their children too," and wander the streets of New Orleans as the vampire Lestat. This is a serious-minded album, but it's undercut by its very approach — the glossy fusion that coats the entire album, the occasional grabs at worldbeat, and studious lyrics seem less pretentious largely because they're overshadowed by such bewilderingly showy moves as adapting Prokofiev for "Russians" and calling upon Anne Rice for inspiration. And that's the problem with the record: with every measure, every verse, Sting cries out for the respect of a composer, not a pop star, and it gets to be a little overwhelming when taken as a whole. As a handful of individual cuts — "Fortress," "Consider Me Gone," "If You Love Somebody," "Children's Crusade" — he proves that he's subtler and craftier than his peers, but only when he reins in his desire to show the class how much he's learned."Reviews by Stephen Thomas Erlewine"