Monday, March 30, 2009

Miles Davis & John Coltrane - So What

50th year anniversary: Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)

Kind of Blue isn't merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it's an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album, a universally acknowledged standard of excellence. Why does Kind of Blue posses such a mystique? Perhaps because this music never flaunts its genius. It lures listeners in with the slow, luxurious bassline and gentle piano chords of "So What." From that moment on, the record never really changes pace — each tune has a similar relaxed feel, as the music flows easily. Yet Kind of Blue is more than easy listening. It's the pinnacle of modal jazz — tonality and solos build from the overall key, not chord changes, giving the music a subtly shifting quality. All of this doesn't quite explain why seasoned jazz fans return to this record even after they've memorized every nuance. They return because this is an exceptional band — Miles, Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb — one of the greatest in history, playing at the peak of its power. As Evans said in the original liner notes for the record, the band did not play through any of these pieces prior to recording. Davis laid out the themes before the tape rolled, and then the band improvised. The end results were wondrous and still crackle with vitality. Kind of Blue works on many different levels. It can be played as background music, yet it amply rewards close listening. It is advanced music that is extraordinarily enjoyable. It may be a stretch to say that if you don't like Kind of Blue, you don't like jazz — but it's hard to imagine it as anything other than a cornerstone of any jazz collection.

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Official Site - Miles @ All About Jazz -

Friday, March 27, 2009

[Re:Jazz] Live in Yokohama (2008)

A really great live set from Re:Jazz -- one that's got an even more soulful feel than some of their previous studio work! The performance features a small core group -- acoustic piano from group leader Matthias Vogt, mixed with guitar, bass, and drums -- plus a range of saxes and flute from Oliver Leicht, whose contributions here really deepen the sound! The lovely Inga Luhning sings on a number of tracks -- with a warmly soulful feel that's great, and much more unified than the mix of singers you might have heard on the earliest projects from the group -- continuing the great sound she brought forth on the Expansion record. Re:Jazz have moved way past their initial gimmick by this point -- and the album has them working as a really tight ensemble who mix together jazz and soul for a contemporary audience -- recorded here with a beautifully crisp feel. Titles include "Cupid & Orlando", "Style", "Keep On Movin", "All Over", "Written In The Stars", "Can You Live", "Torch Of Freedom", and "People Hold On". Also features a bonus DVD, in PAL format -- with a 90 minute documentary "Re:Jazz In Japan" -- plus 30 minutes of bonus material that show the group recording with Alice Russell!

Text from Dusty Groove

Official Site - Doc Trailer - MySpace page - On YouTube - Last.Fm page

Friday, March 20, 2009

Clara Hill

Clara Hill is a musician born in Berlin, Germany. She has collaborated with artists like Stefan Leisering and Axel Reinemer ( Jazzanova / Extended Spirit), Dixon, Georg Levin, Marc Mac (4 Hero), King Britt, Vikter Duplaix, Atjazz, Charles Webster and more. Clara Hill recorded three studio albums: Restless Times, All I Can Provide, and Clara Hill´s Folkwaves: Sideways. All Lp's on Sonar Kollektiv.

At seventeen, Hill founded the acid jazz band Superjuice, together with her friend Fun├Ęs. In the early nineties, at the height of acid jazz, the band toured through Berlin clubs and Germany, gathering a high-profile reputation. During these years, Clara made her first steps in live music. During one of her shows, she met DJ Alex Barck from Jazzanova, who was spinning records as a support DJ. In 1998 he introduced her to the producers of Extended Spirit (2/6 of Jazzanova): Stefan Leisering and Axel Reinemer, that produced a few tracks with Clara. And with Stefan Leisering the song "No Use" was composed which later appeared on the first Jazzanova album "in Between".
In the meantime Clara sang in another band: Stereoton. A band that was rooted in hip hop but played with jazz elements. With Stereoton, a 12" on Sonar Kollektiv was recorded and eventually an enduring cooperation with Jazzanova emerged cause later they produced her first album "Restless Times". Besides Jazzanova, Clara Hill though also was working with Berlin based house-producer DIXON and singer-song writer GEORG LEVIN. On his hit "(I Got) Somebody New", that was remixed by Masters Of Work, her voice can be heard alongside Georg Levin.
Clara Hill also worked with several musicians and producers like King Britt, Marc Mac(4 hero), Vikter Duplaix, Atjazz, Charles Webster, Sandboy, Slope, Volker Meitz, Rivulets.

(Text from Wikipedia)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lorez Alexandria - For Swingers Only (1963)

One of the greatest albums ever from Lorez Alexandria -- an ultra-hip singer who recorded for Impulse and King, but who sounds especially wonderful on this rare date for Chess Records! The album's got a groove that definitely lives up to its title -- a jazzy, bouncy sort of rhythm that's definitely "for swingers only", and which is a nice contrast to overdone torch or standard jazz vocal modes. Alexandria's singing is completely sublime -- quite fluid, yet with a soulful depth that's really amazing -- and her backing combo is equally hip -- a group led by John Young on piano, and also featuring George Eskirdge on guitar, Jimmy Garrison on bass, Phil Thomas on drums, and Ronald Wilson on flute and tenor -- an obscure player whose reed work really makes the album sparkle! The song choices are great too -- a mix of some under-recorded gems and a few blue-toned classics -- all redone amazingly by Lorez with a sound that's quite unique. Titles include her classic Argo reading of "Baltimore Oriole", which begins with an amazing drum/bass passage that's worth the price of the album alone -- and other tracks include "The End Of A Love Affair", "Baltimore Oriole", "All Or Nothing At All", "Mother Earth", "Love Look Away", and "Traveling Down A Lonely Road".

© 1996-2009, Dusty Groove America, Inc.

Lorez Alexandria Last.Fm page - The AMG entry