Recently in Jazz Category

Burning Spear: Living Dub, volume twoCD, Burning Music Production 2003

Track list: Dub Don't Cry - Postman Dub - Teacher Dub - Dub Raid Dem - Dub Him - Columbus Dub - Foggy Dub - Dub Follow - Dub Is Good - Civilized Dub - Pieces of Dub - Dub Been There

I got lucky in the Creation Steppin' Internet radio CD giveaway and thus my reggae collection is started. This album is the dub version of Burning Spear's Hail H.I.M. I'm not that into dub, as I like vocals and lyrics, but thanks to the really groovy beats, this dub album works just fine for me. However, I'd sure like to get some non-dub Burning Spear albums. ***

Najponk Trio: Autumn in New York

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Najponk Trio: Autumn in New YorkCD, Cube / Metier 2003

Track list: Mr. Beautiful - Back at the Chicken Shack - If I Fell - Dreaming - Dream for Two - Nine Eleven 2001 - Harlem Waltz - Autumn in New York - Girl of My Dreams - In the Groove - I'll Remember 21st May

Najponk Trio is an award-winning Czech jazz trio (piano, bass, drums). Their latest album is a tribute to post-911 New York, which is usually enough to make me sick, but fortunately as this is instrumental jazz, I don't have to listen to corny lyrics. Instead I can focus on their smooth sounds and good groove. This isn't groundbreaking stuff, but should please anybody looking for good and easy jazz. ***

Dimitri Shostakovich: The Missing SymphonyCD, V/Vm Test Records 2003

This album is a curious beast. At the same time it's the best piece of classical music I've heard in ages. As some might know, Dimitri Shostakovich created 15 symphonies during his career. Well, this is the 16th. The process of creation was simple: all fifteen symphonies were stretched or compressed to the average length and then layered on top of each other. The result is not the noise one might expect. Instead it makes surprising amount of sense. The result is very intensive and exciting - there's not a dull moment. Fans of classical music will be shocked, but I'd say this one's well worth checking out. *****

Sorb-i-tol: The Flight

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Sorb-i-tol: The FlightCD-R, Muovi 111 2003

Track list: Bossachutney - Al Dente - Tomodachi - Bluenoir

This is the third release from Sorb-i-tol and the second one to include vocals by Lotta Rytkönen. Her presence is definitely a good thing, even though I liked the first album a lot as well. Anyway, there's nothing really new about this four track EP. There's cool and jazzy music by Jukka Sillanpää, with even cooler vocals by Lotta. I kind of wish there'd be more Barry Adamson to it, but it's all right as it is. ***

Sanchez, Yvonne: Invitation

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Yvonne Sanchez: InvitationCD, Cube/Metier 2002

Track list: Old Devil Moon - The Way You Look Tonight - In a Mellow Tone - Feitico de Irena - My Romance - Invitation - Nica's Dream - All of Me - I'll Remember April - Lover Man - Well You Needn't - Dindi - Autumn Leaves

Yvonne Sanchez is a Czech jazz lady with a very nice voice. She's backed up by the Robert Balzar Trio, whose work I've enjoyed before. This one is no different. Sanchez performs cover songs and does that well. I think she's a good vocalist and the band is also very good. If you're looking for atmospheric and easy jazz music with vocals, here you go! ****

U-Street All Stars: Helsinki Sessions

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U-Street All Stars: Helsinki SessionsCD, EMI 2002

Track list: Expander - Dancehall - Final Cut - Happiness in C - Mobility - Surma-Travels - Straight - Balance - U-turn

Helsinki Sessions is the fourth Finnish album released on the Blue Note label. I bought it after reading lots of good about it, mostly about how strong and energetic album it was. I can agree. After one listening to, I like it - the lead trio of alto and tenor saxophones and guitar plays with passion and feeling, while the background trio of drums, bass and guitar (so it's a quintet) keeps the beat moving with a firm grip. No wonder these boys have won a few prizes during their (still) short career. ****

Davis, Miles: Nefertiti

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Miles Davis: NefertitiCD, Columbia 1990 (1968)

Track list: Nefertiti - Fall - Hand Jive - Madness - Riot - Pinocchio

Nefertiti is an album of tunes composed mostly by Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, but with a distinct Miles Davis sound. The quintet (Davis, Shorter, Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams) play well together. Even when they play long solos, you don't get the feeling that they're just showing off their skills. But if you want to hear some nice, explosive drumming, check out "Hand Jive", composed by the drummer Tony Williams. "Explosive" is, in general, a good term to describe the album; "restless" would be fine, too. Wonderful work. ****

Ahvenlahti, Olli: Bandstand


Olli Ahvenlahti: BandstandCD, Siboney 2001 (Love 1975)

Track list: Breeze - Countenance - The Daughter - Cadenza for Christina - Sandy - Havana Two

My image of Olli Ahvenlahti is the smiling man behind the piano in TV shows - but he's done much more than just showtunes for entertainment. Bandstand starts with somewhat unnoticeable "Breeze". However, you can't miss the next track: "Countenance" is the definite peak moment of the album and alone is enough to justify it's existance. It's very groovy jazzfunk tune and would be a killer on the dancefloor. Rest of the album falls only a bit short of that. ****

Ornette Coleman: Change of the CenturyCD, Atlantic 1992 (1960)

Track list: Ramblin' - Free - The Face of the Bass - Forerunner - Bird Food - Una Muy Bonita - Change of the Century

Ornette might be free, but not out of reach. I find Change of the Century quite easy to "get". And why should one care about whether the music is understood in all detail? There's groove and energy in it and it doesn't sound boring and academical. What else do you want from any music? Try songs like "Ramblin'" and "Una Muy Bonita", for example. ****

Coltrane, John: Soultrane

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John Coltrane: SoultraneCD, Prestige 1987 (1958)

Track list: Good Bait - I Want to Talk About You - You Say You Care - Theme for Ernie - Russian Lullaby

Tempo of the tunes on this album goes from break-neck to mid-tempo to slow ballads. Little bit of something for everyone. From the intro of "Russian Lullaby", you might indeed expect a lullaby - but you'd be wrong! When Arthur Taylor's drums and Coltrane's sax kick in, the tune is nothing but sleepy. Gentler touch can be found in melancholic "Theme for Ernie", a composition dedicated to a deceased saxophonist. John Coltrane, an excellent musician on his own, is backed up with talented musicians (already mentioned Arthur Taylor, Paul Chambers on bass and Red Garland on piano) - the result is excellent, soulful jazz. ****

Davis, Miles: Milestones

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Miles Davis: MilestonesCD, Columbia 1991 (1958)

Track list: Dr. Jekyll - Sid's Ahead - Two Bass Hit - Miles - Billy Boy - Straight, No Chaser

Milestones features Miles Davis Sextet, full of very talented musicians. Therefore it's no wonder they get the songs swinging very nicely. Tunes differ from each other a lot, most notable being "Billy Boy" with it's clinking piano. Two of the six songs are written by Miles. Wonderful playing (for example some very nice bowed bass), good songs, great swing, what else do you want? ****

Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz to ComeCD, Atlantic ?? (1959)

Track list: Lonely Woman - Eventually - Peace - Focus on Sanity - Congeniality - Chronology

Ornette Coleman presents us his vision of the shape of jazz to come on this album. It's a pleasant vision. Especially the best tracks, which include the somber opening "Lonely Woman" and "Congeniality", are simply brilliant. Coleman's quartet plays well, the songs have a definite jazz groove in them, despite being avant-garde and free of extraneous rules and structures. *****

Davis, Miles: Bitches Brew

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Miles Davis: Bitches Brew2xCD, Columbia 1999 (1970)

Track list: Pharaoh's Dance - Bitches Brew - Spanish Key - John McLaughlin - Miles Runs the Voodoo Down - Sanctuary - Feio

Bitches Brew is, they say, one of the finest masterpieces of jazz music. I don't know about that, but it is definitely a great album. There's not a single poor track on it and plenty of great ones. Miles Davis used a large group of musicians on this album and you can hear it - the sound is very rich and full of action. The music is mostly fast and groovy, while "Sanctuary" for example has slower and softer parts too. It all works out wonderfully. I haven't heard any jazz better than this, simply put. *****

Robert Balzar Trio: Alone

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Robert Balzar Trio: AloneCD, Cube/Metier 2000

Track list: Alone - Vinohradska Street 32 - Someday My Prince Will Come - Moon River - Quiet Now - Una Noche Con Francis - There Is No Greater Love - They Can't Take That Away From Me - Kenny - Nardis - Black Nile - In Your Own Sweet Way - Rob-in - My One And Only Love - Christiania

I admit my pretty much complete ignorance of everything about jazz. However, I've decided to embark on a journey to figure it out. So, here I am, interested of jazz and visiting Czech Republic, famous of it's great jazz bands. What could be a better souvenir, then, than an album of Czech jazz? The guy at the record store recommended few albums to me, of which I enjoyed this one most. And I do... I feel that I really can't say anything about it because I don't have the words for it. Therefore I just say that it's good. The trio (bass, piano, drums) plays smoothly, I especially enjoy the work of the drummer. One third of the songs are written by Robert Balzar, the rest are on loan. ****

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