Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Review: Lou Donaldson - Hot Dog

‘Hot Dog’ is typical of Lou Donaldson’s late 60’s soul-jazz steered in the direction of more commercially funky territory, and while not the failure that his later 70’s material often was, it remains pretty uneven, with every peak high matched by an equal low. As usual, the worst pieces are the covers of then contemporary soul and R&B numbers, which in this case both open and close the album; ‘Who’s Making Love’ is a frankly abysmal performance and how it passed muster with any kind of producer is bewildering, while ‘It’s Your Thing’ attempts heavy funk, only to sound merely heavy and bloated, and yet still curiously empty.

The remainder though sounds surprisingly very tasty indeed, with Tommy Turrentine’s ‘Bonnie’ providing the perfect romantic ballad for Donaldson to showcase his beautifully melodic playing. Elsewhere, the original composition ‘Turtle Walk’ seems to snap the group awake and in line to the right groove, and the soloists all sound alive and fully-charged. Donaldson’s own title piece meanwhile showcases both the best and worst of this era of his career, with some serious and exciting addictive funk coming into play, but at the same time nothing major happens for a very long time over ten decidedly thinly-stretched minutes.

So ‘Hot Dog’ manages in its five pieces to feature two disastrous cuts, two standouts and one that falls down to just above average. Showing Donaldson as being as being very capable indeed, as well as being equally poor and lacklustre, the recording as a whole is woefully inconsistent, and only Donaldson fans should really check it out, but as weak as it is those highs that are here are genuinely worth the time.


Review: Stan Getz - With Guest Artist Laurindo Almeida

Stan Getz, in the early 1960’s, was displaying a truly prodigious work rate; three weeks after recording the brilliant ‘Jazz Samba Encore’, and only two days before he would record the seminal and massive commercial hit ‘Getz/Gilberto’ (that would launch Astrud Gilberto and ‘The Girl From Ipanema onto the international stage), he was recording even more bossa nova sessions.  Possibly trying to keep the momentum going or stockpile the music for future release, producer Creed Taylor was getting in as many Brazillian musicians, and sessions for them, with the golden-boy of the moment Getz. Despite the speed of production though, Taylor and Getz managed to maintain an impressively strong and consistent quality of music throughout the whole commercial bossa nova period.

Continuing the practice of recruiting one star guitarist for one session, this time Getz was partnered with Laurindo Almeida, who served as the primary composer as well as the assigned rhythm and solo foil. Also present are a mix of American players, with Steve Kuhn on piano and George Duvivier on bass, and Brazillian musicians, with Edison Machado on drums and Luis Parga and Jose Paulo on percussion.

From the second Getz and Almeida jump in with ‘Minina Moca’ the party is in full swing with music that is impossible to listen to while sitting still, and doesn’t let up. All the performances on this album are top-rank, but no-one is showing off here, the music is one of great beauty and is totally relaxed, which just adds to its immense charm. Almeida doesn’t like to improvise, so his soloing sticks rigidly to the tunes, while Jobim’s ‘Outra Vez’ is a shining example of Getz using his musical freedom for effortless lyrical charm which contrasts nicely with his partner’s more anchored playing.

‘Samba da Sahra’ is the epitome of the enduring fresh appeal of this music, full of easy strumming and soft rhythm, while Getz adds sultry heat to everything he touches. ‘Maracatu-Too’, the album closer, even manages to shift the tempo and pace up higher and end the party on a high.

Almeida had first introduced Brazillian sounds to the jazz crowd years before, most notably with Bud Shank (check out the wonderful ‘Brazilliance’), and unfortunately history has seen fit to lower his profile than he deserves. At the time, this highly passionate and electric feeling recording went unreleased, for reasons that only people familiar with marketing phrases might understand. And when it finally got a release, it was relegated to status of ‘more Getz, from the vaults’. Nothing could be further from the truth though. Many sessions like these might have been made to cash in on the boom at the time, but not only did these two masterful players help create this boom, we should be grateful to them that they did record so much stunning and desirable music.

Possibly one of Getzs’ finest bossa recordings with a hugely under-rated guitarist and composer, this is top of the league music that deserves to be sought out. Treat yourself now and find out what the world missed the first time around.


Review: Chris Botti - Night Sessions

Shortly after his third and final album for Verve Records, Chris Botti was invited to join Sting for a three year world tour that would eventually end in the autumn of 2001. A hugely successful tour, both financially and critically, and being allowed a generously sized solo spot every night, Botti himself was able to win over many new admirers with this new added, and very welcome, exposure.

At the start of summer in 2001, the tour took a ten week hiatus and Botti took the opportunity to rent a house in the Hollywood hills, assembling a band, some from Stings own touring band (including producer and keyboard player Kipper), with the intention of writing and recording completely new material for a fourth solo album – his debut for Columbia Records. Deciding on the direction and feel he wanted this record to take, Botti chose to work reversed hours - sleeping in the afternoon, writing in the evening, and playing and recording at night right until the sun came up.

Beginning with the languid and soulful acoustic guitar work of long-term Sting sideman Dominic Miller, ‘Lisa’ gets things off to a great start, showing the way forward for the rest of the album - a late-night album, something to listen to on balmy summer nights and take in whilst nursing a cold drink.

If ‘Lisa’ is a more smokily evocative affair, then ‘Miami Overnight’ that follows immediately after, is a more relaxed one – albeit one that perfectly carries the mood. Things then get funky with the radio-friendly sounding ‘Streets Ahead’, containing not only a winning trumpet line, but also some stellar bass work from none other than Christian McBride.

In truth, the album contains songs that fall into one of these three catagories; the smokey night time haze, the more relaxed dare I say it ‘chill’, and the more ‘up’ tracks. All of these pieces combine, in their perfectly sequenced manner, to make an album that feels very much complete – always maintaining its superb atmosphere, without ever falling too far into the chill zone.

‘When I See You’ is perhaps the track most deserving of becoming a breakout hit, featuring as it does a truly great chorus melody, something the penultimate ‘Through An Open Window’, with it funk guitars and stabbing trumpet blasts, also possesses. Perfectly counter-balancing these are pieces like the ambient ballad feel of ‘Light The Stars’ and closing number ‘Easter Parade’ with its subtle and quietly romantic light-as-a-feather trumpet line.

As well as acting as sometime employer and occasional singer for hire to Botti, Sting here donates ‘All Would Envy’ for Shawn Colvin, who in turn adds her own flavour to the song, with just a slight Brazillian twist. And unlike other vocal tracks which are often used to break up an otherwise instrumental album, this does not break up the mood or stand out awkwardly. Instead it complements the rest of the music, and enhances what goes before it and what it preceeds. Similarly, ‘You Move Me’ is a slow and languorous sensual piece that benefits greatly from Camilles seductive breathy voice that slowly moves its way from the background into the fore.

The big surprise with ‘Night Sessions’ is just how big a step up the whole album is from Bottis earlier work. The song-writing is in a much higher league than before, the production by Kipper is first-rate, but subtle, Bottis playing and tone are still as good as ever, but better utilised and melded in with his excellent backing band - most of all though, the whole album gels in a way that perhaps his first albums didn’t. Each of the twelve tracks here is a gem; there is no flab or halfway piece that should maybe never have seen the recording studio. And just as importantly the album is sequenced in a way to get the best out of each track and help provide a more complete atmosphere to the record.

‘Night Sessions’ is an excellent album, with a great sense of pace and feeling. Head and shoulders above anything he had recorded previously, it is in effect the beginning of the second wave of Bottis career – some will still regardless tag Botti as smooth, and in essence he may still be, but here he really truly shines in a way that defies that much derided genre.


Monday, 24 March 2014

Review: Grant Green - Solid

Grant Green recorded a truly vast number of sessions for Blue Note in the early ‘60s. So many in fact, that a good number, both as leader and as a highly-regarded sideman, were left in the vaults for many years, and not released until after his young death in ’79, and his later rediscovery by the acid-jazz crowd in the early-90s.

Of those left in the can, most in fact rank alongside his finest works, such as his two sessions recorded with the rhythm section of McCoy Tyner, Bob Cranshaw and Elvin Jones, which made the excellent ‘Matador’ and, with the additions of Joe Henderson and James Spaulding, would go on to make ‘Solid’.

‘Solid’ is perhaps the hardest sounding recording Green has ever made, not that the set itself ever becomes hard - all the players here have recorded much harder-edged material with other bandleaders. Strong material choices come from a wide range of sources, taking in the jazz world (Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Duke Pearson), pop (Burt Bacharach) and Greens own always strong compositions.

‘Minor League’ sets up an upbeat opening that swings and gives us some great solos from Green and his largest ever horn section, while ‘Ess-Thetic’ will come as a strong surprise to any who would erroneously claim he possessed lesser technical skills than that of Wes Montgomery or George Benson. Elvin Jones too makes a great bid for his spotlight moment with some highly notable drumming.

The title-track and Greens own ‘Grant’s Tune’ are more blues-based, with a laid back yet good time feel, while Henderson’s frequently covered ‘The Kicker’ gets a slower paced cover than is usual, and invites favourable comparison with both Bobby Hutchersons and Horace Silvers takes on the same number. Oddly, on most re-issues of the album, Bacharach’s ‘Wives And Lovers’ is tacked on the end. It’s the exact same version that’s also on Green’s earlier ‘Matador’ sessions, and while it does sit better there, it still feels very badly out of place and tacked-on on both recordings.

‘Idle Moments’ and ‘Street Of Dreams’ come as the more well-known ‘cool’ recordings from Green, with many others coming highly recommended, such as ‘Grants First Stand’ or ‘Sunday Mornin’’. ‘Solid’ however in its different groove is a good set of harder-bopping blues-jazz, and is strongly advised for anyone who is interested in hearing Grant with a harder edge.


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Review: Get The Blessing - Lope And Antilope

The first thing that’s surprising about Get The Blessing’s fourth album is just how quickly it follows on the heels of career best ‘OC DC’. Not that 18 months is particularly quick, but given each of the four mens full calendars (especially the much in-demand drummer Clive Deamer), it’s impressive. The second thing to note is that ‘Lope And Antilope’ also makes a distinct difference in the groups recording process, for the first time here choosing to make an album almost entirely from improvisation over an intense four day session.

Keeping their familiar approach of Ornette Coleman style sax and trumpet playing over the top of Jim Barr’s dubby bass lines and Deamers strong rock drum attack, here they add to the sound with a greater array of electronics and effects, and again bring in Portishead alumni Adrian Utley to play some guest guitar work on a few numbers. All together this combines to create their most relaxed sounding album yet and also perhaps their most atmospheric and easily accessible.

The opening ‘Quiet’ begins tentatively with an ambient touch courtesy of Deamers light as a feather brush work, and saxophonist Jake McMurchie’s suitably restrained playing, but where it really benefits is Utley’s inspired guitar hook. ‘Little Ease’ by comparison has a more powerful rock drive, with some big sounding sax and trumpet lines, while ‘Corniche boasts some very satisfying deep bass sounds.

‘Ludoscope’ returns us to more ambient fare, only for ‘Viking Death Moped’ to come dissonately and menacingly crashing in, and ‘Hope’ is an appropriately titled hugely uplifting number, with equally big drums and some fine growling sax work. ‘Trope’ raises the ante further, and is possibly the album high point, both in mood and sound, whereas ‘Lope’ returns the group to their more familiar darker feel.

Accessibly simple, yet knottily inventive, touched by melancholy, and yet also their most optimistic work, ’Lope And Antilope’ features the group refining their sound and at the same time playing more adventurously, and being all the stronger for it. Brilliantly mixing jazz, rock, trip-hop and electronica, this is a great recording that should open up a wider audience and once more points to even greater things for the future.


Review: Eliane Elias - Paulistana

After proving herself a talented and unique piano voice, albeit with a sometimes frustratingly erratic output, Eliane Elias hit gold with ‘Fantasia’, a beautiful album that was received with strong critical notices and sold handsomely. And thankfully for her follow-up, ‘Paulistana’, she wisely continued in the same vein and continues on a decidedly handsome winning streak.

As before a nicely rounded mix of Brazillian composers hits from the likes of Barroso, Jobim and Bonfa are here alongside Elias’ own strong efforts peppering the mix. The opening salvo of the anthemic ‘Brazil’, Carlos Lyra’s classic ‘Influencia Do Jazz’ and Elias’ own ‘Paulistana’ alone is a huge treat, with each possessing a distinct and memorable melody.

Her favoured piano trio is the format of choice here, with Elias keen to hint at Bill Evans, as well as showcasing her own sound, with many tracks benefitting from some soulful and rhythmic percussion. On the downside, a handful of tracks also unweildily gain some of Elias’ vocals. Not to say that her voice is bad though - in fact its limited range is heightened by the warm and sensuous tone she brings to the lyrics – but its occasional lead means that her own piano playing, her greatest asset, is at times greatly reduced.

A warm and enjoyable listening experience, the recasting of these classics in a jazz format is a winning success, and Elias’ own pieces here, including the title track, are also much stronger than before, blending nicely with the well-chosen covers. And even despite the small flaws, ‘Paulistana’ is a great uplifting jazz record that sits nicely in Eliane Elias’ discography.


Review: Freddie Hubbard - Polar AC

An unexceptional recording by trumpeter extraordinaire Freddie Hubbard, especially given his immediately previous high quality output, it’s one of the entry efforts to his career brown patch that would unfortunately last for pretty much most of the rest of the decade.

A strong band has little to do with the middling pieces chosen, but none-the-less Hubert Laws’ flute and George Benson’s guitar blend seamlessly and create a good interplay. The soloing from both men and Junior Cook’s saxophone too is impeccable, but sadly the rest of the band are pretty much uninvolved and struggle to rise above the material.

Some grand over-production, typical of this period in CTI’s history, too drags the album down, with the obvious exceptions of ironically the title track, and ‘Son Of Sky Dive’. These two numbers sound alive and beat with a pulse that is clearly lacking from the rest of the album, so much so in fact that you suspect that maybe these two were recorded or produced at a separate session.

Freddie still soars high on his trumpet, but he’s clearly either uninspired or low on ideas throughout. For every half-decent moment there’s an equally lost-at-sea solo that leaves him sounding confused and unfocused. But like the album as a whole there is little that is actively unlikeable, just not much in the way of anything eventful or memorable. After the sheer musical highpoints of his opening CTI salvo, including ‘Red Clay’ and ‘Straight Life’, this is very much the sound of Freddie Hubbard coasting.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Review: Stanley Turrentine - Have You Ever Seen The Rain

‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ is perhaps the absolute epitomy of a great jazz musician attempting commercial crossover; attempting and failing. Stanley Turrentine, who’d recorded a number of perfect artistic and commercially successful albums with the CTI label, for some unknown reason chose to leave his home of his greatest successes to join Fantasy. Immediately, with his label debut ‘Pieces Of Dreams’, the results were not pretty. His third album for Fantasy, as with that earlier record and indeed most of his mid-to-late seventies work, prominently features a full-size string section, and it’s this overwhelming presence that really scuppers the music here.

Saccharine then is the key word, with everything drowned in unpleasant gloopy-sounding strings, and with none of the material here anything but ballads. ‘Tommy’s Tune’, by Turrentines trmpet player brother Tommy is a little more of an up-tempo style ballad and, thankfully missing the strings, is unarguably the best piece, with most of the rest generally being covers of other then-current hits. The title track is of course from Creedence Clearwater Revival, with ‘You’ coming from Marlena Shaw, and Earth, Wind & Fire supplying ‘Reasons’ and ‘That’s The Way Of The World’.

Phenomenally kitsch and soft, it absolutely reeks of the label aiming for a cash-in. Maybe Turrentine really did love and just want to play ballads and only ballads, but where someone in control had aimed for romance, they instead hit cloying and over-sentimental. Most surprising of all though is just who is squandered on this travesty. Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette, masterful players both, are here stripped of any personality – most likely in case they interfere with the strings – and Freddie Hubbard plays beautifully too, but somehow uninterestingly. Everyone else too gets to sound mostly like a jobbing sessioner, except the main man himself who very nearly acquits himself with his soulful playing.

Most likely to have a track or two end up on a compilation titled something along the lines of ‘Music For Lovers’ or ‘Candlelit Ballads For You And Your Lover’, it’s a career low for the saxophone man and deserves a seriously wide berth indeed.


Review: Tord Gustavsen Trio - Being There

Album number three on ECM for pianist Tord Gustavsen’s trio, and it’s his best yet. Still composing and playing in a sparse and stripped down manner, Gustavsen continues to favour quietly intense and introspectively cool in place of any ego-lead shows of virtuosity, or indeed anything above a mid-paced tempo, that in a way Gustavsen is perhaps the perfect artist and foil for label owner and producer Manfred Eicher, and his singular vision.

Here ‘Karmosin’ showcases a masterclass in rhythm and melody, all the while maintaining that uniquely strong Scandinavian atmosphere, where at the other end of the spectrum ‘Blessed Feet’ shows the trios own distinctive take on blues, and ‘Around You’ is just pure beauty. And yet, everything here maintains a fine and cohesive whole, such is the clarity of intent of the trio – less a piano payer backed by a rhythm section, and more three players all leading and exchanging ideas between each other.

Better still, of the many piano trios out there, Gustavsen’s is probably, alongside E.S.T., the most song focused, with ‘Being There’ being the best example of this. Thirteen tracks, with most falling under the five minute mark, each is a concise and full piece that lets its charms and strengths play out unrushed, yet without ever meandering or dragging.

For the fans of his earlier work, here Gustavsen rewards their loyalty with an even stronger effort, whilst newcomers should be well-served by this winning albums crystal-like sound and its langorous yet intense musical landscapes. Consistently beautiful, Tord Gustavsen has here created a new piano trio record that can sit proudly alongside the established classics of the genre.


Monday, 17 March 2014

Review: Hank Mobley - Workout

Hank Mobley has often been tagged as one of the lesser saxophone players of the 1950’s and 1960’s era. Dubbed ‘the middleweight champion of the world’ by critic Leonard Feather, to reflect his neither having the heavyweight aggression and free explorations of John Coltrane or the lighter melodically rich stylings of Stan Getz, and instead possessing a strong ‘rounded’ quality, many often mistakenly took the term to be one of derision. Commercial success too seemed to elude him, and only briefly playing with Miles Davis, and heard on his ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’, he was roundly dismissed as being an incompatible match for what Davis wanted.

The truth though is that despite his lack of unique style or tone, and his in truth no better than just good technique, he was always a highly melodic and lyrical tenor man, who though lacking any notably distinctive improvisational prowess, was also a very impressive composer. His career as bandleader is usually seen as being in three clear parts; the good mid-fifties work, the career plateaux of the early sixties, and everything later from the mid-sixties and a few sessions from the early seventies. His early sixties work then is the definitive period that everyone should check out, it being for the most part responsible for the half dozen truly excellent albums he recorded.

‘Workout’, recorded in 1961, is one of his very best, just nipping at the heels of ‘Soul Station’ (and possibly ‘Roll Call’) for the position of his best album. The title track and ‘Smokin’’ are pure bop and hard bop with Mobley at his most impassioned and best, while ‘Greasin’ Easy’ is a harder blues and ‘Uh Huh’ occupies a more soul and R&B field. Excellent tunes played superbly, they’re all by Mobley, and sit nicely with the two standards here which feature the tenor saxman at his most beautiful.

‘Three Coins In A Fountain’ is typically lyrical Hank, but ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free’ is simply uplifting euphoria and happiness in musical form. Staying close to the melody of the piece, it’s a sunny rendition and the good time everyone in the studio is having is palpable in the air.

The Wynton Kelly Trio with Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums provide a great rhythm. Kelly’s piano lines are tasteful and slightly bluesy, providing a nice match against Grant Greens highly valuable guitar ork, whose own interplay with Mobley on his ‘Uh Huh’ is outstanding. But no-one on this sesson plays better than Mobley himself, his pristine tone and lyrical beauty here unassailable.


Review: Lou Donaldson - Everything I Play Is Funky

‘Everything I Play Is Funky’ is one of Lou Donaldson’s best takes on the commercial funk and soul inflected jazz of the 1970’s, that while sure to antagonise any purists of jazz scholars will easily find many admirers in the groove crowd. Relaxed and strutting, the music is carried forward with steady casual ease, and that’s what makes the session work – low on group and individual improvisation, heavy on groove.

The obligatory cover of a soul or R&B hit, which normally approaches disastrous, is carried off much stronger than usual, with the near title track ‘Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky (From Now On)’, and it makes a great opener, before being followed by a take on Lionel Hampton’s simple ‘Hamp’s Hump’ and then a melodically rich, and thankfully free of schmaltz, ‘Over The Rainbow’.

Three Donaldson originals that make up the second half of the album are where the real money is though, with ‘Donkey Walk’ laying down a driving funk and propelling everyone involved to give their best performances, especially in the solos. ‘West Indian Daddy’ carries an appropriately Caribbean vibe and a buoyant mood that sounds like everyone in the studio is having a great time, and the closing ‘Minor Bash’ sounds more jazz flavoured than the rest of the pieces here, but not too much as not to fit in with the rest.

All in all, it’s a good session, with a good mix of material and moods, with key credit going to the rhythm section of Melvin Sparks on guitar, bassist Jimmy Sparks and funk drummer maestro Idris Muhammad. Charles Earland and Lonnie Smith alternate on organ, and Blue Mitchell and Eddie Williams switch around on trumpet duties, and everyone shines, with no-one letting the side down. Lou Donaldson from 1970 onward would tend to make mostly inconsistent and disappointing records in the funk style, but ‘Everything…’ manages to be one of his very few that rise above the mire and stand on its own two feet as a much-loved soulful funk-jazz recording.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Review: Kevin Figes - Circular Motion

Keving Figes has been a regular touring and recording artist for years now, both leading his own quartets, trios and bossa nova groups, and also contributing strong work to other players efforts. A well-known and highly regarded name in his native Bristol, his long-time coming debut ‘Circular Motion’ brilliantly showcases welcome evidence of a very long and enduring musical journey.

Keen to possess substance but still be accessable, ‘Circular Motion’ highlights the strong yet different backgrounds of his work – from his more free-style work recorded with Keith Tippett to his more funk-flavoured live group playing, and makes sure to show all the little pockets of his versatile musical personality.

‘Listless’ opens, with a strong and hooky saxophone melody so identifiable and memorable it could easily make radio play, and quickly became both Figes’ signature piece and a live favourite. ‘Song For Sometime’ elsewhere offers its bandleader a lovely slight-gospel ballad, and another Figes live staple ‘The Grind’ gives us a suitably swinging funk.

It isn’t just himself he provides for though. Aware of the superb musicians he has with him, plenty of space to shine is given to considerably talented local Bristol star Jim Blomfield on piano who more than gets into the complex rhythms and juicy changes in each piece (‘Sevenup’ is a highlight), and sadly serves to remind us of Blomfield’s own slim discography.

The strong self-written compositions are also given subtle but strong support by bassist Riaan Vosloo and drummer Tim Giles, while the one single cover here is the final track, a take on a piece by Figes’ much admired Wayne Shorter. ‘Lester Left Town’ originally recorded by Shorter whilst with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers was his tribute to the then recently passed master tenor Lester Young., and Figes own take on alto saxophone is no less moving, or inspired.

Much like his playing and writing influences of Shorter and also Dave Holland, the music here has a lightness of touch that gently holds the subtle and complex compositions underneath. The effect overall is a set of lively and widely varied yet cohesive music from a band that repeatedly deliver a stomping live show. A skilled and impassioned debut, it also achieves the valuable trick of making you want more just as it finishes.


Review: John Coltrane - Kulu Se Mama

'Kulu Se Mama' is a distinct and unique, though far from essential, entry in the John Coltrane canon. No-one's favourite 'Trane recording, its oddity status does however contribute greatly to its name, and to its charm.

Two very different settings - somewhat schizophrenically - make up the record, with the classic quartet of Coltrane, Tyner, Garrison and Jones taking up the bulk of the space. 'Vigil' is a duet of Coltrane's saxophone and Elvin Jones' drums, echoing the later 'Trane and Rashied Ali sessions that would later comprise the famous post-humously released 'Interstellar Space', while 'Welcome' is, somewhat surprisingly given the more aggressive and 'spiritual' playing of the time, one of the most lyrically beautiful pieces that the great man has ever laid down.

Though 'Welcome' is the clear highlight here however, it's the title track that gets the most notices. Bolstering the quartet with Donald Garrett on bass clarinet (and occasional second bass), Frank Buttler on second drums, and the very first appearance of fellow tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders on a Coltrane album, the songs composer Juno Lewis also adds various percussion and some very distinct chanting vocals to the mix. The result is a thick and heady brew, full of colour and spice, but one that doesn't successfully gel over its eighteen minutes. More a group jam effort than anything before it, it comes over as an easy-going groove session between friends, but one that at times can be both deep and full of African-focused rhythms, and at others sprawling and without co-ordination – sometimes wildly so.

Ultimately, it's a real mixed bag – comprising some of the final days of 'the classic quartet', and one fairly 'out-there' free jam heavy on rhythm and groove, though distracted by the in-reality quite jarring chants of Lewis. It's frequently absent status from the Impulse catalogue therefore isn't that surprising, but it isn't deserved either. There's some good music here, and highly enjoyable too, but the jam-like nature and rough mixed feel easily isn't for everyone and makes this one solely for the established Coltrane fan.


Review: Freddie Hubbard - Backlash

‘Backlash’ was the first of Freddie Hubbard’s three albums for the Atlantic label, a brief interim musical period for the trumpeter, after leaving Blue Note in 1966, and before joining CTI for his soon-to-be commercial peak in 1970. And in truth it sits somewhere between the music of those two periods, his familiar style leaning much more towards his funk-inflected work of the seventies.

Funky riffs and grooves percolate the proceedings, with everything more measured than the comparatively free-form and experimental work of his later Blue Note sessions. The title track is a relaxed groover serving up some nice piano accompaniment and trumpet playing, along with ‘Little Sunflower’ and ‘Echoes Of Blue’, while ‘On The Que-Tee’ is more traditional faster-paced Hubbard fare that benefits from a brilliant standout theme. The icing on the cake though is an incredibly strong reading of ‘Up Jumped Spring’ that ranks as one of the best of anything Hubbard has ever recorded.

It’s an excellent set with a good band, with notably James Spaulding making a suitable foil for Hubbard with his alto sax and flute stylings, and Ray Barretto adding his nicely funky conga percussion throughout. For those interested in his commercial zenith work with CTI, this is a great indicator of what was to come, it being a significant stride away from his acoustic early Blue Note days. One of Hubbards sometimes more forgotten efforts, ‘Backlash’ really is actually one of his strongest.


Review: Diana Krall - A Night In Paris

Diana Krall in little less than a decade successfully won both fans from the jazz world as well as an adoring mainstream audience. Each time too she gradually seemed to be moving away from the piano chair of her jazz trio into a more refined sultry jazz singer. And where her earlier albums always gathered strong and positive reviews, her less trio-focused works have always been on the ‘politely’ or ‘approvingly’ positive side rather than enthusiastic praise that her first few recordings received.

And so after the politely received and massively selling ‘The Look Of Love’, and a very successful global tour, came Diana Krall’s first live album; ‘A Night In Paris’, recorded over a series of five nights at the prestigious Paris Olympia. Krall comes backed by a great band consisting of guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, and only on some tracks is she backed by the superb Orchestre Symphonique European. Happily the material is split nicely between the Nat Cole Trio-inspired music that brought her first into the limelight and the later smoother more orchestral work that has made her the favourite of the dinner-party circuit.

Opening with the swinging ‘I Love Being Here With You, from her second album, her superb piano is fully involved, much missed after an almost complete absence from ‘The Look Of Love’. And even better, her singing is more free and impassioned than has been recently witnessed. Of course, to keep the larger fanbase happy, she then switches to the orchestral-backed ‘Let’s Fall In Love’. But very surprisingly, the orchestra doesn’t define the piece; Krall’s piano and Wilson’s guitar lead the way, and they do so flawlessly.

The flow of older, uptempo jazz followed by slower, mellower tunes continues, with ‘Deed I Do’ taken from Krall’s excellent Nat King Cole tribute album ‘All For You’. The quartet really come together and plays fantastically, with the piano well to the fore and sounding brilliant. It is disappointing then that it is immediately followed by her take on ‘The Look Of Love’. Too slow, sounding just like the lumpen studio version, and lacking really any dramatic feel to it, it tries to be a pop song in a jazz style with a bossa nova flair and fails at all three. It does though have the benefit of one of Krall’s beautifully played piano interludes.

‘East Of The Sun’ picks things back up again for the trio setting, while ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ straight after suffers again from too sedentary a tempo. Happily, the final half of the disc is the much better half, with a relaxed bossa ‘S‘Wonderful’ and a superb swinging ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ with some impeccable piano work and vocal phrasing from Krall.

An encore then comes in the form of an excellent Joni Mitchell number ‘A Case Of You’, before needlessly being followed by an unsubtlely tacked on studio track, no doubt for the benefit of the marketing team at Verve. A cover of Billy Joel’s ‘Just The Way You Are’, a song even he wasn’t happy with (hence his refusal to ever play it live), Krall’s version adds nothing, lacks personality and seems to be here solely to provide a hit to promote the album.

A live jazz album can be a truly awesome recording, and if a gig of Krall’s earlier career with just a trio had been recorded, one can only imagine how much more thrilling it would have been. Unfortunately here the swinging fire of the small group is broken up by the slower ballads that pulled in the larger audiences from albums ‘When I Look In Your Eyes’ and ‘The Look Of Love’. Maybe better sequencing might have given a better result, but what we get instead is a stop-start effect that is probably not going to satisfy either the older Krall jazz fans or the newer audience she’s recently attracted.

After ‘The Look Of Love’ many have unfairly made a case against Diana Krall and her music and that she is simply now no longer a jazz musician of any notable standing. Though there is sadly evidence to support that here. There is also amongst the excellent quartet pieces plenty of evidence that suggests just the opposite. ‘A Night In Paris’ is a good recording of both Diana Kralls –  early jazz firebird, and later ballad songstress – but assembled in the way it is here, and with an obvious grab for her new audience in the form of a lack-lustre song performed blandly bolted on to the end, it all just feels ‘messy’. If you like the earlier grittier Krall, you’ll enjoy six of the numbers here and you’ll have an excellent six-track live mini-album. If you like the later candlelit bathroom-esque Krall, you’ll like six of the numbers here and you’ll have almost identical versions of songs you’ll already have, and one pop-jazz tune you won’t want to have. For the most part though, it just feels like a missed opportunity. Disappointing.


Monday, 10 March 2014

Review: Bebel Gilberto - Momento

The first thing anyone who has paid even just minor attention to Bebel Gilberto since her stunning debut ‘Tanto Tempo’ will notice is the ever increasing number of English-language songs on her albums. A bid for commercial acceptance in the English dominated pop world, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad, but it is a decidedly worrisome trend. Although not quite as horrific as Entertainment Weekly’s frankly witless statement that she is ‘the Norah Jones of the [bossa nova] genre’.

The excellent ‘Tanto Tempo’ of course made her name with the perfect melding of bossa and electronica, and her eponymous second album marked a move to a more acoustic and orchestrated work. Much less successful, it made a nice lounge and chill album, but was certainly not as big a blip on the radar as the gorgeous debut - disappointingly then, album number three falls resolutely into the same bucket.

The title track that opens is basically relaxing beach music, but the pace gets up for ‘Bring Back The Love’, with it’s upbeat dance vibe and a little keyboard and synth work thrown in. ‘Close To You’ meanwhile goes for the romantic jugular, with a spare yet beautiful musical backdrop against Gilberto’s English and Portuguese lyrics. ‘Os Novos Yorkinos’ that follows is light and throwaway. Perfectly pleasant, you’d have forgotten it as soon as it’s over.

And that’s really how most of the album goes - some lively tracks, some swooningly romantic, some filler. ‘Cacada’ gets the hot samba going, whereas ‘Night And Day’, ‘Um Segundo’ and ‘Cade Voce’ gets some good guitar work in. Most of the rest though like ‘Words’ sounds underdeveloped, almost as though it was a throwaway afterthought. Tellingly most of the best songs are in her native Portuguese.

A good summer record, in truth it sits somewhere between the summery bossa-electronica of ‘Tanto Tempo’ and the over-orchestrated lounge of ‘Bebel Gilberto’. Fortunately it leans a little more to the debut in its production, but there is still too much in the way of lounge material and songs sung in English to appeal to the wider market - which is a shame as we know she is capable of so much more, and her voice in her native Portugese is one of the worlds most genuinely sensuous and beautiful. ‘Momento’ stands as a good album, in that is is more than just average, but it pales against what we all know she can really produce.


Review: Dexter Gordon - Clubhouse

‘Clubhouse’, recorded in 1965 during a brief return to the States from his new home of Copenhagen, is one of a small number of Dexter Gordon albums that were recorded but not released until much later - in this case a whole entire decade later.

A curious recording, it features a great band in Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Barry Harris on piano, and Bob Cranshaw and Billy Higgins on bass and drums, with some appropriately strong playing, but oddly features some questionable material.

Three Gordon originals are present and highly welcome, and the classic ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ is given an impassioned performance that makes it easily the best thing here. Why Gordon chose to cover the pretty much unknown ‘Devilette’ and ‘Lady Iris B’ then is a total mystery. Unmemorable and devoid of any real substance, Dexter still manages to solo well and transform the songs into something better. They are though noticeably weaker affairs than usual, given the lack of any real hook to really dig into.

A fairly mixed bag then it features some good music, and some good playing, but overall it just misses that sparkle and punch you’ve come to expect from Dexter Gordon, lacks excitement and really this is quite an easy effort to give a miss. Far from essential.


Review: Dave Koz - At The Movies

Dave Koz sometimes gets a bit of a rum deal, often being written off as just another smooth jazzer, or much worse, as an alternative to Kenny G while you wait for him to get another release out. Blessed with a smooth tone, Dave Koz actually is smooth jazz, but crucially he plays smooth jazz with passion.

‘At The Movies’ shows nicely the passion he can bring to a project. Backed by a full-size orchestra, he also manages to snatch a strong array of interesting guest vocalists, and he plays his heart out. Barry Manilow seems an odd choice for ‘Moon River’, but he passes the grade surprisingly with flying colours, and Vanessa Williams, who really should be much bigger than she currently is, gives us a great vocal performance to rival Barbra Streisands’ more famous one.

Elsewhere Johnny Mathis and his still superb voice make a dynamic ‘Shadow Of Your Smile’, with Chris Botti too turning up to lend his gorgeous trumpet tone to proceedings. Disco star Donna Summer even convinces with what could have been a sentimental disaster on ‘A Whole New World’ (from Disney’s ‘Aladdin’).

On the downside, Anita Baker fluffs ‘Somewhere’. Not having the vocal talent needed, there’s never been a song she couldn’t oversing, but here she overdoes it completely, and what should be soaring instead comes over as over-wrought. Also, ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ using a sampled Judy Garland comes over as horribly mawkish (who started this ‘collaborating with dead singers’ craze?), although Koz’s saxophone is pretty much perfect. Worst of all though, ‘It Might Be You’ sounds like India.Arie has never heard the song before and is phoning in a karaoke performance, with the words flashing up on a screen for the first time as she sings it.

Of the instrumentals ‘As Time Goes By’ and ‘Cinema Paradiso Suite’ simply swoon against Koz’s on-the-ball sax. On the other hand, ‘Schindlers List Theme’ tends to drag and the awesome ‘The Pink Panther’ just seems too cute and ultimately mis-placed.

Koz’s saxophone playing on ‘At The Movies’ is the real star. Drawing inspiration from the mostly timeless songs, he comes up with the goods which should be embraced by both his fan base and most likely also a new audience. Unfortunately not all of the song choices are great and some of the decisions made are just questionable, but those songs that do work though, work beautifully, and importantly are just great fun.


Review: Get The Blessing - OC DC

Get The Blessing’s third album of course takes its name, not as some may think from a skewering of AC/DC, but from the initials of their much admired Ornette Coleman’s front line duo – Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. And again the Bristol based quartet maintains their hard to label sound while still making it all a deliciously groove heavy recording.

The album kicks off in blistering style with the title tracks big funk-rock bass and drums rhythm, whilst the trumpet and sax, when it comes in, almost plays underneath the track instead of playing upfront. A fantastic opener, the second number ‘Americano Meccano’ by comparison is much quieter but no less impressive. Featuring a quirky guest appearance by the legendary Robert Wyatt, the piece is a melodically rich drone, but surprisingly enhanced by Wyatt’s wordless yet musical near murmuring. It’s a guest appearance that both works brilliantly, but also isn’t one that when performed live would lose something for his lack of presence.

‘Adagio In Wot Minor’ too benefits from Adrian Utley’s guest appearance on guitar effects that entwine with the two horns to form a satisfying tension, and although Pete Judge’s trumpet and Jake McMurchie’s sax are the obvious lead instruments, frequently they form a backing harmony while Jim Barr’s nimble bass work leads. Barr’s bass is a truly under-exposed musical weapon on anything he touchs; a killer groove from him is the fuel that ignites ‘Between Fear And Sex’, a wonderfully moody piece, while his insistent playing on ‘The Waiting’ creates a strong and hypnotically driving effect. The final number here too, ‘Pentopia’, is an atmospherically cinematic track that benefits from some subtle backing electronics that enhance rather than dominate. A beautiful piece it could quite happily go on forever.

‘OC DC’ is perhaps Get The Blessing’s best album so far. While Judge and McMurchie are obviously stellar musicians, and their interplay is brilliant, the real development is in bass man Barr’s presence and drummer Clive Deamer’s tight and funky perfect drumming that possesses plenty of rock bite but also features enough jazz variety and playfulness. And the foursomes interaction has in turn created one very tight unit, that when blended with the sparsely used electronics utilised here, form a uniquely sounding group with almost a genre all to themselves.

Full of bass grooves and rhythms, hard drums with plenty of snap, a two-man horn harmony and lead section, plenty of strong melodies, and every track paced to perfection, this is a great album that not only shows a growing band, but also is just a fantastic musical statement - one of the best albums of 2012.


Review: Grant Green - Am I Blue

Grant Green’s ‘Am I Blue?’ is one of the least issued and sometimes harder to find of his many prolific recordings, which ultimately is just as well, as sadly despite occurring in his prime period it’s also one of his least interesting. In theory and on paper it certainly has everything to be a good grouping; the winning organ trio of Green, Big John Patton and Ben Dixon (always excellent together) with the excellent Joe Henderson on tenor sax, and Johnny Coles on the trumpet. In practice though, it’s sorely missing what made most of Greens work frequently excellent.

Everyone here plays well, but the material – all covers - is weak and mostly below par. For the most part mid and slow tempo, the mood is laid-back but often sleepy and, just occasionally, dull. Interaction between the members is weak too, almost as though everyone was tired and playing at the end of a rough session and sounding not at all like they were even in the studio at the same time. On the plus side, Henderson supplies some fine grit and fire throughout, and Green shows some trademark good licks, while at the other end Coles and his trumpet seem mostly misplaced and superfluous.

‘Am I Blue?’ is certainly listenable, and even a below-average Green album is still well worth hearing. Best of all, it marks the end of the run of ‘themed-concept’ albums that he had been required to record, having gone through varying levels of success with gospel, country, spiritual, latin and now blues. This is not a bad album; rather it is a lesser effort from a usually sublime artist. After this he would go on to his undisputable career high-point, recording a cracking run of sublime albums that anybody should own before this one; ‘Idle Moments’, ‘Matador’, ‘Solid’, ‘Talkin’ About’ and ‘Street Of Dreams’. Compared to those masterworks, this doesn’t match-up by quite some way, and it certainly pales against his first works for Blue Note before the themes crept in, but if you need your Green fix this is alright. Mostly this is a distinctly average effort from a premier musician.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Review: Freddie Hubbard - Red Clay

The dominant and possibly defining jazz label of the 1970’s, CTI had an occasionally almost schizophrenic output, producing for the most part straight and swinging jazz as well as some of the best fusion works of the time, but also releasing a number of recordings that helped create the roots of smooth-jazz and muzak. As such, for every Stanley Turrentine’s ‘Sugar’ with it grooving funky jazz, or Jim Hall’s undisputed masterpiece ‘Concierto’, there’s a Bob James record which borders dangerously close to disco (good pianist, excellent arranger, lacklustre artist).

Grabbing the then biggest names in jazz, Creed Taylor signed them up to enjoy quite often their most commercially successful periods. For Freddie Hubbard this was obviously true, whose albums here sold massively in comparison to his earlier Blue Note sessions. Prior to CTI, his best work was often playing under the leadership of others such as Herbie Hancock or Wayne Shorter, but under Taylor’s wing he produced a tight fist of work that rank as his highest achievements under his own name. The first of these in particular, ‘Red Clay’, surrounds him with the stellar company of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson and Lenny White, and is immediately a winner.

The title track opens with a short section that wouldn’t sound out of place on one of Miles Davis’ spacier sections from his epochal ‘Bitches Brew’, with Hubbard and Henderson trading blows, before quickly settling into a soulful and easy rhythm set out by Carter and White. Hancock plays some nice and languid electric piano over the top and everyone gets to solo with impressive skill and finesse. ‘Delphia’ that follows is almost as good too; a slower moving piece, with some moody organ work from Hancock, the trumpet man gets to play one of his finest solos, flitting from introspective to upbeat and lightly boppy. Some tasteful flute is added too, for colour rather than any solo, and it raises the piece nicely.

The cleverly-titled ‘Suite Sioux’ is perhaps the least interesting piece here, sounding like a more traditional if likeable enough bop, albeit with a subtle hint of bossa and the use of some electrics. Henderons solo though is spot on. A very seventies fade-out-and-then-fade-back-in closes the track unmemorably. ‘The Intrepid Fox’ gets things back on track though with an urgent and feverish number that has everyone sounding lively and energized, with some great riffing and Hubbard going for a definite less-is-more approach that handsomely pays off.

As bonuses we get a bold and funky take on John Lennon’s ‘Cold Turkey’, which though fun is far from essential and just runs out of puff. Much better is an impressive version of the title track from a later live date. At almost nineteen minutes, it’s some six minutes longer than the studio take and it’s a corker; looser and freer-flowing, it’s a powerful show, with the bonus presence of guitarist George Benson adding greatly to the mix.

‘Red Clay’ is a fusion work that doesn’t really fall into the same bucket as most other ‘fusion’. One of the earliest and perhaps ‘less fused’ records of the era, it’s basically a then contemporary take on modal jazz, but with harder hitting drums, and electric piano and bass instead of acoustic. No attempts here to borrow head-down groove from funk bands, slashing guitar work from the rockers, or bizarre keyboard effects and sounds, and as such it gives Hubbard his own voice while at the same time preventing it from sounding as dated as other similar works of the era. Additionally and importantly, there’s certainly no obvious copying of any of Miles or his then current experimentations. In fact it sounds simply like good strong jazz and is consequently one of the trumpeters (and labels) defining albums.


Review: Miles Davis - The Cellar Door Sessions

‘The Cellar Door Sessions’ is another in Columbias lavish Miles Davis box-set releases and, being a series of live dates from one venue as opposed to a related set of sessions or collaborations, one wonders why such a treatment. The truth is that these gigs here represent a true ‘missing link’ in Miles vast career – and how he moved from mainstream jazzer to godfather of fusion. Previously, an inadvertnt illusion was created by his ‘official’ releases that gave the strong impression that he had moved almost overnight from jazz standards to wild funk jams.

Although the slow gradual move into using electric instruments became more prominent through ‘In A Silent Way’ and ‘Bitches Brew’, it was with ‘Jack Johnson’ that everything suddenly leapt forward into the electric arena. This short-lived 1970 band shown here though was what truly marked the real shift from acoustic to electric in Miles groups. Choosing not to play any earlier Miles material, and made up of 19-year old Motown bass player Michael Henderson, drummer Jack DeJohnette, sax player Gary Bartz, jazz piano prodigy Keith Jarrett and Brazillian multi-percussionist Airto, in truth the band would not have wanted to play the earlier material.

Choosing to forsake the larger venues Miles was now playing, he instead took his newly formed band of young players to Washington D.C.’s crammed 100-people capacity club The Cellar Door. Here they would play a new, and controversial, hybrid of jazz and funk over four nights, with guitarist John McLaughlin dropping in to join the band for the final night. Portions of these performances would later be used to make up the album ‘Live-Evil’, where the cut-and-paste focus would almost be to showcase the then rising star John McLaughlin.

For years though, the band here went largely unheard, with most fans wondering what the band sounded like before the cut-ups and the heavy refocus on McLaughlin. Keith Jarrett also frequently went on record as saying that this band was truly hot, and that the final night addition of the guitarist in fact upset the rhythm, feel and tight interplay of the band. This box-set then sets the record straight, and with six complete sets and six hours of music, gives us something almost entirely previously unheard.

Each disc features a complete set consisting of between three and six tracks, with numbers frequently stretching to the fifteen minute mark (and some even to twenty). Featuring repeated versions of ‘Directions’. ‘Sanctuary’, ‘Inamorata’, ‘Honky Tonk’, ‘It’s About That Time’ and ‘What I Say’, as well as a single take on ‘Yesternow’, none of the titles here sound anything like the ones you’re familiar with.

Almost every piece here is built on a strong and repetitive bass figure that is for the most part the musics solid signpost over which everyone else lays down their groove or solo. Newboy Michael Henderson holds and drives the whole band forward, with a warm and rounded pulse, and his timing is impeccable. In fact it’s his work with Jack DeJohnette, and Airtos palette of percussion and vocals, that really transforms the sound of this band.

Gary Bartz on saxophone, who’d already worked with Art Blakey, Charles Mingus and Max Roach, was the first alto player Miles had regularly worked with since Cannonball Adderly more than ten years earlier. In truth, perhaps tenor sax here would have fared better, as Miles own trumpet playing is higher in register, and the lower sound of the tenor would have provided a much stronger contrast, but Bartz and his high-octane bluesy-sounding solos, especially his soprano work, are superb. Full of gutsy powerful playing, it’s a true shame, based on his on-display skills here, that Bartz work with Miles was so brief and little recorded.

One of the key presences, and distinctions, of this set though is the playing of Keith Jarret on the Fender Rhodes piano. Previously, Jarrett had only been heard either playing the second set of keys with Chick Corea, or largely (on ‘Live-Evil’) behind the guitar of John McLaughlin. Here though he is a solo and distinctive voice showing us compelling melodic solos and splashes of colour. It’s clear as well that Miles knew the strengths of Jarrett, as with most of the sets here he gives the piano player long improvised solo features as a bridge between the different tunes. In many ways these are like tiny previews of the acoustic concerts he would play just a few short years later. This set contains four such solos, each distinctive, with a fresh sound, and all set highlights. Tellingly, Miles never stopped praising Keith Jarret throughout the next twenty years.

And what of Miles Davis himself? On his recent albums, Miles’ critics had been quick to bemoan his use of effects on his trumpet, citing his declining chops as the reason. In fact, these criticisms were completely unfounded, as here his playing is superbly energetic and full-blooded. In this small Washington club, his playing sounds both aggressive and intimate. In fact his playing is so good, it is not overstating the point to say that this is a career high for him, in terms of range and daring. Sure, if you’re looking for the quiet and beautiful hushed playing of his 50’s days, you will be disappointed. But in every other way, this is Miles at his very best on the trumpet.

The first four discs without McLaughlin are superb. The group feels like a jazz group, but with the rhythm section (and Michael Henderson in particular) moving everything towards some gritty funk. Airto and DeJohnette are as clear as Mediterranean waters here with each of their contributions being easily seperable, and Jarrett is simply blinding. The Saturday night performances that capture McLaughlins addition to the band on discs five and six, though strong, just aren’t as good however.

As Keith Jarrett has always made clear, the band had in a very small space of time become a tight and adept unit and had acquired that valuable link between musicians that always exists in improvisational units. With McLaughlins addition, although strong, the insertion of another player into the band upsets the balance. Some superb solos are welcome, but his playing is much harder in sound than the rest of the band, and that wonderful clarity between the others tends to become overcrowded. As with the first four sets, the last two sets here are good, but how they compare to the previous four will depend on your personal preference, and ultimately your fondness for McLlaughlin.

Interestingly, Teo Macero is at the controls once again – recording the bands performances in the club. But on these occasions there is no post-session work cutting and splicing creating a collage of music, as he had done to create ‘Live-Evil’. This is 100% live music - and with excellent sound quality and clarity.

So, here it is – six complete performances recorded over four nights of powerful Miles jazz-funk, most of which you’ve never heard before. ‘Cellar’ is also easily the most sumptuously packaged of the Miles boxsets. A cherry-red case holding the CDs and extensive photos, detailed liner notes and thoughtful essays slides smoothly into a slipcase of mysterious yet highly strokeable material that feels something like a holy union between leather and suede. Sure, some will be furrowing their brow as to why they, or indeed the world, need another six-disc presentation set of Miles. Here though you have the chance to hear from front-row seats the experience of a 1970 Miles Davis club performance and that is something that no fan of Miles, heavy jazz or funk would ever want to pass up.