Pure Pleasure


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  • “Onto my short review I have to admit that I’m biased in favor of Charles Tolliver He plays with a combination of strength and sweetness that goes beyond mere language The fact that he is self-taught is more miraculous This particular recording has the best sound quality I’ve ever heard The clarity is stunning and all...
  • Originally released by Theresa in 1981, this frequently exquisite set features the McCoy Tyner-inspired piano of Joe Bonner on four originals, Cal Massey’s “Quiet Dawn,” and “Lush Life” Bonner and a rhythm section are joined by a string quartet, trumpet, trombone, and flutist Holly Hofmann (the leader provided the...
  • This excellent recording features altoist Lee Konitz with two separate quartets during 1956 Either guitarist Billy Bauer or pianist Sal Mosca are the main supporting voices in groups also including either Arnold Fishkind or Peter Ind on bass and Dick Scott on drums The most unusual aspect to the set is that on the four...
  • Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ – by all account, the mopst important work in the history of minimalism “A Masterpiece”- it has been re-recorded by Portishead’s Adrian Utley If ever there were a popular work of minimalism, one that stated its purpose so clearly it could not be mistaken, Terry Riley’s legendary composition...
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    Adele Sebastian was an Afro American jazz flutist and singer, active from the early 70s (when she was still a teenager) until her untimely death at the age of 27 (!) in 1983 from a kidney failure In fact she had been depending on monthly dialysis to stay alive for years She lived through and for the music and you can hear it on...
  • Around the time of this recording, Stanley Cowell had achieved a degree of prominence as the pianist for the advanced bop quartet Music Inc, which he co-led with trumpeter Charles Tolliver, as well as for unusual projects like his Piano Choir With Regeneration he chose another path, essentially trying to produce a jazz-infused pop...
  • John Hicks (1941-2006) gave much to jazz over several decades but never really received the appreciation he so richly deserved As a pianist, he proved himself in the Art Blakey and Betty Carter universities He was also the prototypical musician’s musician, a first-call pianist for many jazz greats and a magnificent accompanist...
  • In 1976, Yusef Lateef’s as restless a spiritual seeker as there ever was in the field of music, revisited some of his earliest themes in the context of modern sonic frameworks: The Eastern modal and melodic frameworks of his Prestige sides, such as Eastern Sounds, Cry!/Tender, and Other Sounds, brought to bear in much more...
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    Charles Mingus is usually known for his wild, soulful and avant-garde compositions “East Coasting” is mellow by comparison, but it still cooks on a musical level The Mingus touches are there; the trombone, drummer Danny Richmond and of course the dark emotional undercurrent looms large, too The personnel are all Mingus...
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    Simply put, Drumming is, along with some of Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach, one of the most fascinating pieces of first-generation minimalism The version recorded for Elektra/Nonesuch in 1987 ranks among Reich’s masterpieces The 60-minute continuous work features one basic rhythm pattern Throughout four segued...
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    The remarkable Music, Inc Big Band remains the apotheosis of trumpeter Charles Tolliver’s singular creative vision Rarely if ever has a big band exhibited so much freedom or finesse, while at the same time never overwhelming the virtuoso soloists on whom the performances pivot Built around the core of Tolliver, pianist...
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    This is one of Eddie Harris’ great records The playing is inspired! What a band! Cedar Walton (piano) and Billy Higgins (drums), Lee Morgan’s favourite rhythm section The underrated but popular tenor saxophonist introduces his “Freedom Jazz Dance,” which would become a jazz standard after featuring on Miles Davis’...
  • Four-and-a-half decades after the event, saxophonist Charles Lloyd’s Love-In, recorded live at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium in 1967, the counterculture’s West Coast music hub, endures as much as an archaeological artifact as a musical document From sleeve designer Stanislaw Zagorski’s treatment of Rolling Stone...
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    The first studio date of the Charles Lloyd Quartet, with Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJohnette, was recorded and released just a few days before the band took both the European and American festival circuits by storm First came Europe, which was just getting the disc as the band was tearing up its stages While the live...
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    Bethlehem Records was a major jazz label in the 1950’s formed by Gus Wildi with an impressive roster of artists including singers Nina Simone, Carmen MacRae, Chris Conner & Mel Torme, to name a few; arrangers: Marty Paich, Russ Garcia, Frank Hunter; and musicians including: Dexter Gordon, Roland Kirk, Charles Mingus, Frank...
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    Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s live club gigs were usually engaging, freewheeling affairs, full of good humor and a fantastically wide range of music The double album Bright Moments is a near-definitive document of the Kirk live experience, and his greatest album of the ‘70s The extroverted Kirk was in his element in front of an...
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    Arguably one of the most exciting saxophone soloists in Jazz History,Kirk was a post-modernist before that term even excisted Kirk played the continum of Jazz tradition as instrument unto itself, he felt little compuction about mising ans matching elements from the music’s history, and his concoctions usually seemed natural,...
  • Rare stuff from John Coltrane! The album features Trane playing tenor on only 4 of the album’s 8 tracks – making it kind of surprising that they used his name in the title – but the album is a lesser-known batch of large group recordings that offer an interesting early chapter in his career! The main force behind the...
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    Christine Perfect is a British born singer who worked with Spencer Davis in the early ‘60s and later fronted Chicken Shack before going off on her own with this solo album in 1970 By then she had also contributed to recordings by Fleetwood Mac and become romantically involved with the groups’s bassist, John McVie She then...
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    This is a classic At a time when the civil rights movement was starting to heat up, drummer Max Roach performed and recorded a seven-part suite dealing with black history (particularly slavery) and racism “Driva’ Man” has a powerful statement by veteran tenor Coleman Hawkins and there is valuable solo space elsewhere for...
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    Charles Mingus has a fascinating way of offering music that is grounded in tradition while remaining startlingly original The freshness of a piece like Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus, has the effect of rendering much of what passes for jazz as tedious The band is small for Mingus, and includes Eric Dolphy on alto...
  • This music counts among Ellington’s most well-realized ‘concept projects’, all inspired by Shakespeare’s work and filled with memorable melodies and ample opportunities for solos by Cat Anderson, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, and Quentin Jackson The Ellington-Strayhorn compositions treat their soloists like actors...
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    Still riding the success of his triumphant concert at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, Duke Ellington in 1958 decided to reduce his touring orchestra to a nonet dubbed “the Spacemen,” and recorded this lone project with them for the Columbia label Perhaps inspired by the first orbiting satellites, Ellington is not taking...
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    Even back in the early ’50s, Columbia Records took Duke Ellington seriously enough to place this album on its prestigious Masterworks label, heretofore reserved mostly for highbrow classical music and Broadway shows Also, this LP explodes the critical line that the early ’50s was a relatively fallow period for the Duke; any of...
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    When planning this album, I had a hellish time trying to choose what I thought were the absolute cream of Billie Holiday In the course of this wrestling, it struck me that not only were Billie’s vocals incredibly perfect, but that I could not remember a single instance of anyone playing a bad solo or even a bad phrase among...
  • Although this is a blues-oriented set, there is plenty of variety in tempos and grooves The 1968 Quartet featured the leader/pianist, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, bassist Jack Six and drummer Alan Dawson The repertoire on this LP ranges from “Limehouse Blues” (which is not really a blues) to “Things Ain’t What...
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    Recorded over two days in December of 1972 at Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood, New Jersey home studio, vibraphonist Milt Jackson’s Sunflower is the first — and best — of his three albums for Creed Taylor’s CTI imprint (And one of the finest offerings on the label) With a core band consisting of Herbie Hancock (playing...
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    Pianist Lonnie Liston Smith began his true professional career with Pharoah Sanders and then moved on to the very electric Miles Davis band before embarking on his own journey — one that took him deep into the waters of pop music and disco by the late ’70s On Visions of a New World, Smith, accompanied by his working unit the...
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    Don’t let the date fool you, released back in 1983 this modal to slightly free jazz outfit from California takes you on a journey back to the late 60s and very early 70s, into the spiritual realms of greats like John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, John McLaughlin and Miles Davis among others A soul jazz treasure from the LA scene...
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    This is a reissue of a now out-of-print album from live trio date by the legendary LA-based pianist, composer and multi-bandleader, Horace Tapscott Pianist Horace Tapscott is always at his best when he is leading a trio “Sketches of Drunken Mary” features some sparkling piano revolving around a most lyrical bass part that...
  • Linda Hill recorded this LP for Nimbus West in 1981 with fellow Arkestra members, including flautist Adele Sebastian And it’s Sebastian’s vocal duet with Hill on the spiritual jazz epic “Leland’s Song” that opens this stunning LP Hill’s ensemble also included the serious horn player Sabir Matteen, as well as bassist...
  • Ironically, Gene “Jug” Ammons tended to be critical of organists; he was quoted as saying that “organ players don’t know any changes” However, as critical the Chicago tenor saxman might have been of organists — most of them, anyway — he did some of his best work in their presence When you united Ammons with Jack...
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    OK, so it’s mono And, for much of the recording, Mulligan’s quartet seems simply to be backing Konitz But hang on, this is a marvelous little gem Mulligan on the bariton, Konitz on alto, and – yes – Chet Baker on trumpet How can you pass this up But this is more than an artefact This is jazz at its spontaneous...
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    This was Charles Tolliver’s first album as a leader The setting is unique only because his second Freedom-Black Lion album “The Ringer” and all of his subsequent albums on Strata-East featured his quartet Music Inc with pianist Stanley Cowell Here he is surrounded in quartet and quintet formats with a truly stellar cast...
  • After two visionary LPs for his own tiny Nodlew label, Weldon Irvine signed to RCA for Cosmic Vortex (Justice Divine), exploring the deeply spiritual and political terrain of his previous efforts on the kind of grand musical scale that major-label funding accommodates This is a big, bold record by any measure, with a...
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    Two years after the death of his mentor and boss, John Coltrane, and just before signing his own contract with Impulse!, Pharoah Sanders finally got around to releasing an album as a leader apart from the Impulse! family Enlisting a cast of characters no less than 13 in number, Sanders proved that his time with Coltrane and his...
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    On this record, the little-known Charles Brackeen brings his saxophone to a party with most of Ornette Coleman’s band As might be expected, while Brackeen certainly holds his own, it’s Ornette’s boys who bring the thunder, playing around Brackeen’s muscular alto as if they were a gang jumping in a new member Haden’s...
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    Capra Black remains one of the seminal recordings of jazz’s black consciousness movement A profoundly spiritual effort that channels both the intellectual complexity of the avant-garde as well as the emotional potency of gospel, its focus and assurance belie Billy Harper’s inexperience as a leader Backed by an all-star...
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    Charles Tolliver began his professional career and simultaneously his recording debut with the saxophone giant Jackie McLean on Blue Note Records in 1964 Since then he has become one of the all-time preeminent trumpeters in Jazz as well as one of its most gifted composer/arranger bandleaders He is also a Grammy nominated recipient...
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    Most of the musicians who gathered to record this fantastic spiritual jazz record for the Strata-East label on May 24th, 1974 had crossed each other’s paths in various musical pairings over the preceding few years Husband and wife team Dee Dee Bridgewater (vocals) and Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet) had been working together on...
  • One of the most unique albums on the Strata East label – and that’s saying a heck of a lot, given the creative energies flowing through that legendary jazz outlet! Descendants Of Mike & Phoebe is a righteous little project put together by Spike Lee’s father, Bill Lee, and his brothers and sisters (Cliff Lee, Grace Lee...
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    John Gordon, a trombone master, brings us another gem from that most renowned of 70’s record labels, Strata-East The trombone is a difficult instrument In the hands of an artist like John Gordon, however, it can create vivid images and conjure up beautiful music And when the cohort of other players includes the likes of...
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    A landmark recording in early creative improvised modern music, bassist Cecil McBee’s recording for the Strata East label is an important document introducing him as a leader from the international jazz-based scene in New York City via his native Tulsa, OK and following a brief mid-‘60s stint in Detroit McBee as a pure...
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    For a label that wasn’t around long, Strata East achieved the same sort of label recognition that Impulse! or Blue Note managed to build In other words, you knew what you were getting when you bought a record on the label, even if you didn’t know the names on the outside of the cover “Don’t Look Back” is an album led by...
  • In 1978 Pharoah Sanders went into the studio with pianist, Ed Kelly, who was an important figure in the local San Francisco and Oakland jazz scene The two of them recorded six tracks which ranged from covers of standards, through soul-jazz through to two real gems The album was originally released as Ed Kelly and Friend due to...
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    “The Tribe is an extension of the tribes in the villages of Africa, our mother country In Africa everyone had a talent to display There were no superstars; just people and collectively all the people of the village played a vital role in shaping that culture We see all the black communities within this country as villages and...
  • Genius work from the Detroit underground of the 70s – one of the greatest records ever on the now-famous Tribe Records label, and a masterpiece of soul, jazz, and righteous spirit! The session’s headed by tenor player Wendell Harrison – and it’s got an all-star Motor City lineup that includes Marcus Belgrave on...
  • One of the most righteous albums ever issued by the always-righteous Tribe Records label of Detroit – a really collective effort, one that features ensemble vocals and spiritual jazz – all pulled together by pianist Harold McKinney! The album showcases a group named Voices Of The Creative Profile – formed by McKinney to...
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