Trumpeter Thad Jones receives first billing on this all-star outing, but vibraphonist Teddy Charles, who contributed three of the six selections (two of the other songs are by pianist Mal Waldron, while the lone standard is "Embraceable You") was really the musical director. Jones, Charles, and Waldron are joined by Frank Wess (doubling on tenor and flute), bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Elvin Jones for a set of modern hard bop. Although this was not a regular group and there is not an obvious leader, the music is on a higher level than that of a routine jam session. The challenging material and the high quality playing of the young greats makes this fairly obscure modern mainstream set well worth exploring.
In honor of what would have been Ray Charles’ 90th birthday year, Tangerine Records is releasing the limited edition box set, True Genius, on September 10th. The record label, which the late legend founded in 1962, has remastered 90 of Charles’ most important works for the six-CD box set.
This 2-CD set takes the 1974 album Mingus At Carnegie Hall (Atlantic) and adds seventy minutes of previously unissued material recorded at the same concert.
Mingus led many great bands during his career, but those from the the late 1950s and early 1960s have tended to be perceived as representing his belle epoque, overshadowing some equally outstanding later aggregations. One of these is Mingus' mid 1970s quintet with trumpeter Jack Walrath, tenor saxophonist George Adams, pianist Don Pullen and drummer Dannie Richmond, who are featured on the 1975 portion of the Bremen set. The previous year, Mingus led a sextet including Adams, Pullen and Richmond, in which Jon Faddis was the trumpeter and Hamiet Bluiett played baritone saxophone…
This set is the finest recording by one of Charles Mingus' greatest bands, his sextet with Eric Dolphy (on alto, bass clarinet, and flute), tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, trumpeter Johnny Coles, pianist Jaki Byard, and drummer Dannie Richmond. Taken from their somewhat tumultuous but very musical tour of Europe, most of these rather lengthy workouts actually just feature a quintet because Coles took sick (he is only heard on "So Long Eric," which here is mistitled "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"), but the playing is at such a high level that the trumpeter is not really missed. "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress" is given definitive treatment, and the nearly 29-minute "Fables of Faubus" and Mingus' relatively brief feature on "Sophisticated Lady" are impressive, but it is the passionate "Meditations on Integration" (an utterly fascinating performance) and "Parkeriana"…
With his critically acclaimed AVIE Records releases of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, Gabriel Fauré and Sergei Rachmaninov to his credit, the celebrated British pianist Charles Owen scales the heights of Franz Liszt’s anthology Années de pèlerinage, Première année: Suisse (“Years of Travel, First Year: Switzerland”), which evokes the great 19th-century pianist-composer’s Swiss sojourns with aural impressions of the Alpine landscape, its peaks and valleys, mountains and streams, and the country’s distinctive folk music. Literary references abound as they do in the album’s concluding piece, the emotional Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude (“The Blessing of God in Solitude”) which was inspired by a poem penned by Liszt’s friend Alphonse de Lamartine. Emotions ran equally high for Charles Owen who turned to Liszt during lockdown. The uncertainty of being homebound throughout the pandemic was eased by the extra meaning and solace of the composer’s evocations of journeying, experiencing the natural world and its sense of beauty and liberation.
The venerable Charles Aznavour graced his adoring public with a stellar album of material for the new millennium, titled Aznavour 2000. The album tends to sway toward upbeat, jazzy, swingin' numbers, such as the opener, "Le Jazz Est Revenu," "Elle a le Swing au Corps," "La Formule Un," and "Nos Avocats." His voice, always warm and compassionate, is like an old friend, giving this album a feeling of intimacy, although his public spans the globe and numbers in the millions. The shining moments, however, are the ballads, which drip with his eternally stylish and sophisticated melancholy, such as the lovely and heartbreaking "De la Scene a la Seine," a tribute to the late, tragic Italian-Egyptian star Dalida. The downcast "Qu'Avons-Nous Fait de Nos Vingt Ans" echoes of his ancestral Armenia and "Je Danse Avec l'Amour" is a classic-sounding French chanson. "Quand Tu M'Aimes" and the samba-styled "Je Ne Savais Pas" are from his musical Lautrec (based on the life of Tolouse-Lautrec) and offer more variety to this winning and marvelously orchestrated album. A sheer pleasure through and through for fans of the amazing and enduring Charles Aznavour.