LPs WE'VE BEEN ENJOYING
Bill Withers - Just As I Am
Bill Withers (g & voc), Stephan Stills (g), Booker T Jones (key), Bobbye Porter (perc) & Al Jackson (dr)
1971; Sussex Records
Oh, say it ain't so... we were just getting over McCoy's passing. Any one of several albums could take this slot - "Still Bill" "+'Justments" "Live at Carnegie Hall" are all start-to-finish perfection. If you have not seen the documentary from a few years back, I believe it's also called "Still Bill", check it out. Such beautiful songs - such a calming and powerful voice.
Elvin Jones-McCoy Tyner Quintet - Revisited
Elvin Jones (dr), McCoy Tyner (p), Pharoah Sanders (ten sax), Richard Davis (b) & Jean-Paul Bourelly (g)
Recorded Van Gelder Studios, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ; 1982
McCoy was the last living member of perhaps the best, I'll say it, band of all time... the original John Coltrane Quartet. Here with Elvin, another member of that band. Sad to hear of his passing, but thankful for all of the wonderful music he gave us, both in that quartet and on his own. This is a super solid, way under the radar recording from the 1980s when not a lot of great jazz was being recorded. Folks: check out Pharaoh Sanders and Richard Davis whenever you see they're playing near you.
Talking Heads - 77
Recorded in New York City, 1977; Sire Records
The Talking Heads first album. It may seem strange to think of this album as part of the 1970s punk revolution, but it is easy to see how it is revolutionary. And boy, time has been very kind to this album... if it came out today, it would still sound fresh and edgy.
Matthew Halsall & the Gondwana Orchestra - When the World Was One
Matthew Halsall (tr), Nat Birchall (sax), Lisa Mallett (fl), Keiko Kitamura (koto), Rachel Gladwin (harp), Taz Modi (p), Gavin Barres (b) & Luke Flowers (dr)
Gandwana Records; 2014
First off, this is a screen capture, because it's next to impossible to take a photo of this cover without your own reflection in it. I stumbled upon this one as a lark... apparently he was "discovered" by Gilles Peterson. Lush, spiritual jazz inspired music... zone out a bit and you'd be forgiven for thinking you were listening to McCoy Tyner and Alice Coltrane (to whom the last track is dedicated).
Max Roach - Percussion Bitter Sweet
Max Roach (dr), Abbey Lincoln (voc), Booker Little (tr), Clifford Jordan (sax), Eric Dolphy (clan., fl., sax), Mal Waldron (p) and many many more
Impulse! Records, 1961
This just popped back on to our radar... and how could it have been gone for so long? This is an insanely, star-studded group of musicians (granted), but Max Roach was always a seeker of new sounds and ideas, so this is such a unique experience. Abbey's vocals - sounds, not words - are haunting. And powerful. And heartbreakingly beautiful. The musicians around her are every bit the equal.
Steve Reich - Octet-Music for a Large Ensemble-Violin Phase
Recorded in Ludwigsburg, Baden Germany, 1980
ECM Records (Europe)/Warner Bros (USA); 1980
'Music for 18 Musicians' gets all the hype, but doesn't best this release in any way. Two of the three pieces were written in the same period as "18" and show a similarity, but - to my ears - show a more bucolic side. The third piece, Violin Phase, was written earlier and has a more aggressive, intense side (and is luckily - again, to my ears - a shorter track.
Makaya McCraven - In The Moment
International Anthem Recording Co.; 2015
percussionist Makaya McCraven w/ Matt Ulery (b), Marquis Hill (tr), Justefan (vibes), Jeff Parker (g), Josh Abrams (b), De'Sean Jones (sax), Junius Paul (b) & Tony Barba (sax)
We literally swapped out Makaya's previous LP for this one. Not better, just different (currently, we like it more, but that's because it's fresh to our ears). I'm personally getting a lot of late 90s/early 00s DJ Krush vibes from this album - and I couldn't be happier about it. This guy is: killing. it. right. now. Another, related LP that is getting some solid play here is Junius Paul's "Ism" - also on this LP & also on International Anthem Recordings - two birds/one stone.
Grachan Moncur III - Some Other Stuff
Grachan Moncur III (trom), Wayne Shorter (sax), Herbie Hancock (p), Cecil McBee (b) & Tony Williams (dr)
Recorded Van Gelder Studio, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ; 1964
Blue Note Records
Both this album and Grachan's previous one, Evolution, are wonderful. If Cubism was a style within the jazz idiom, I think it would sound like this... along with the albums, also on Blue Note, from Bobby Hutchinson and Andrew Hill at around this same era. I will happily listen to this all day... every day.