Joe Henderson – Inner Urge

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This early recording by Joe Henderson is not only one of the finest of all of his fine recordings, but is also a high point for 1960s jazz. At this point in his career, Henderson was a full-time member of Horace Silver’s combo and did not yet have a steady band in his hire. He is joined on Inner Urge by veterans of other combos: McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones from John Coltrane’s unit and Sonny Rollins sideman Bob Cranshaw. The presence of these luminaries aside, Inner Urge is home to two of Henderson’s best (and best-loved) compositions: “Inner Urge” and “Isotope.” The leader’s solo on the title track is a marvelous thing, full of melody as well as anarchic bursts of sound, which is in perfect keeping with the spirit of the song’s probing, searching theme. The other musicians support Henderson nicely as well as turning in some strong solos of their own. Tyner especially sounds fantastic on this record. Although not the equal of the leader in terms of the quality of his lines or the overall sense of composition of his solos, his performance is at least the rival of Henderson’s in terms of raw kinetic power. The other great song on “Inner Urge,” the Monk-ish “Isotope,” is another ideal showcase for Henderson’s total command of his instrument. The remaining tracks on Inner Urge are also fantastic, especially the wailing cry of “El Barrio” and the Henderson-altered head to “Night and Day,” but the first side, even if taken alone, is by itself enough to guarantee this album as perhaps the best Henderson recorded in his long and illustrious career, and stands easily alongside the best records of the era. (allmusic)

Personnel: Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone); McCoy Tyner (piano); Bob Cranshaw (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).

Tracklist

01. Inner Urge
02. Isotope
03. El Barrio
04. You Know I Care
05. Night And Day

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John Coltrane – Sun Ship

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Following the release of A Love Supreme, John Coltrane entered into a year of furious creation, including the recording of dramatic, iconic works such as Ascension and Meditations. While many of his fans couldn’t make the leap of faith required for a sojourn into Coltrane’s emotive new sound, those who surrendered to the dramatic outside interplay of his classic quartet bore witness to spiritual transformations of enduring innovation. Recorded on August 26, 1965 (and not released until after his death), Sun Ship is Coltrane’s final recorded date with his famed quartet. Pharoah Sanders would join the group the following month, and pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones would depart in January of 1966 to be replaced by Coltrane’s wife Alice and Rashied Ali. It is also one of the saxophonist’s most intense performances as well as a testament to the maturity and resourcefulness of his rhythm section. Sun Ship is also a fervent prelude for Coltrane’s final period of brave — and often musically perilous — transformation.

Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); McCoy Tyner (piano); Jimmy Garrison (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).

Tracklist

01. Sun Ship
02. Dearly Beloved
03. Amen
04. Attaining
05. Ascent

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George Braith – Extension

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Pushing to the side the double sax that became his trademark, George Braith turned in his strongest record with Extension. Largely freed from the restraints of the dueling horns, Braith is able to explore the outer reaches of his music. He still remains grounded in soul-jazz — any guitar-organ combo is bound to have soul-jazz roots — but he pushes the music toward adventurous hard bop, often with rewarding results. His compositions are fully realized, with interesting melodic statements and plenty of opportunities for him and mainstays Grant Green on guitar and Billy Gardner on organ to stretch out. And when Braith does reach back for the double-sax technique, such as on the title track, it works because its otherwordly tone is better suited to this searching, adventurous music, than on the more basic fare that dominated Two Souls in One. The double horns do make Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” sound a little awkward, but even that song is redeemed by excellent solos. Nevertheless, it’s the originals, and the way the quartet of Braith, Green, Gardner, and drummer Clarence Johnston executes them, that make Extension the definitive Braith album. (allmusic)

Personnel: George Braith (saxophone); Billy Gardner (organ); Grant Green (guitar); Clarence Johnston (drums).

Tracklist

01. Nut City
02. Ethlyn’s Love
03. Out Here
04. Extension
05. Sweetville
06. Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye

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Ennio Morricone – Slalom

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Soundtrack of “Slalom” by the great Ennio Morricone, enjoy!

Tracklist

01. Slalom (Titoli)
02. Sestriere
03. Slalom (Un Cafe Sulla Banchina)
04. Slalom (Un Agente In Egitto)
05. Slalom (Incontro Magico I)
06. Slalom (Assassinio Nella Sciovia)
07. Slalom (Una Sera in Albergo)
08. Slalom (Marcette Grottesche)
09. Slalom (Un Omicidio Misterioso)
10. Slalom (Titoli Versione Film)
11. Slalom (In Pericolo)
12. Slalom (Sul Treno)
13. Slalom (Corsa Nel Deserto)
14. Slalom (Incontro Magico II)
15. Slalom (Sperduto a El Cairo I)
16. Sestriere (Versione Alternativa)
17. Slalom (Versione Alternativa)
18. Slalom (Passeggiata Nella Neve)
19. Slalom (Rapimento Grottesco)
20. Slalom (Sperduto a El Cairo II)
21. Slalom (Incontro Magico III)
22. Slalom (Single Version)
23. Sestriere (Finale)

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Stanley Turrentine – Joyride

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Stanley Turrentine is the featured artist in this big band session with an all-star orchestra arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson. While Nelson’s charts are funky and easygoing (without providing any solo space for the likes of Phil Woods, Clark Terry, and Jay Jay Johnson), they serve the purpose to inspire the tenor saxophonist. Turrentine is quite soulful on Percy Mayfield’s “River’s Invitation,” and his huge tone carries the day in a waltzing chart of the 1960s hit “A Taste of Honey.” The artist also contributed some originals to the date, including the easygoing “Little Sheri,” which features the unison flutes of Danny Bank and Jerry Dodgion, and “Mattie T,” a gospel-like song that almost seems like a march. ~ Ken Dryden

Personnel: Stanley Turrentine (tenor saxophone); Stanley Turrentine; Bob Cranshaw (upright bass); Kenny Burrell (guitar); Herbie Hancock (piano); Grady Tate (drums).

Tracklist

01. River’s Invitation
02. I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone
03. Little Sheri
04. Mattie T.
05. Bayou
06. A Tast Of Honey
07. Gravy Train
08. A Kettle Of Fish

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Hank Mobley – The Turnaround

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Hank Mobley’s later Blue Note sessions took on a much harder edge than his earlier efforts. The saxophonist’s round tone became funkier as he delved deeper into the popular soul-jazz style that had been introduced with Lee Morgan’s hit “The Sidewinder.” The Turnaround is one of Mobley’s best releases of this period, offering many unforgettable solo moments as well as some intense small group workouts.

Personnel: Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone); Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd (trumpet); Barry Harris, Herbie Hancock (piano); Butch Warren, Paul Chambers (bass); Billy Higgins, Philly Joe Jones (drums).

Tracklist

01. The Turnaround
02. East Of The Village
03. The Good Life
04. Straight Ahead
05. My Sin
06. Pat ‘N’ Chat

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Big John Patton – Let ‘Em Roll

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Big John Patton’s Let ‘Em Roll combines a standard organ trio (organ, guitar and drums) with Hutcherson’s vibraphone. It’s no coincidence that this album was released as part of Blue Note’s “Rare Groove” series. Most of the tracks are rooted in soul-jazz, and “groove” is precisely the right word to describe it.

Personnel: Big John Patton (organ); Grant Green (guitar, organ); Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone); Otis Finch (drums).

Tracklist

01. Let ‘Em Roll
02. Latona
03. The Shadow Of Your Smile
04. The Turnaround
05. Jakey
06. One Step Ahead

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Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Shades Of Blue

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If ever there was a golden period in British jazz it was the 1960s, with Don Rendell and Ian Carr, 2 of the most innovative musicians around, with the albums their quintet produced now legendary, and still fresh and stunning in their simplicity and power. This comes not only from the exquisite playing of Ian Carr on flugelhorn and trumpet, and Don Rendell’s tough tenor and soprano excursions, but equally from the thought that had gone into the writing and arranging.

The dynamics of the quintet members are beautifully balanced, with the lyrical playing of pianist Michael Garrick an often wistful counter to the searching bass of Dave Green, and the ever changing, explosive patterns from drummer Trevor Tomkins. There had never been such concise small ensemble playing since Miles Davis and John Coltrane came together in the 1950s.

little preview:

Tracklist

01. Blue Mosque
02. Latin Blue
03. Just Blue
04. Sailin’
05. Garrison ’64
06. Blue Doom
07. Shades Of Blue
08. Big City Strut

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Dexter Gordon – Gettin’ Around

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After two Blue Note LPs recorded in Europe (his adopted home since 1962), Gordon finally made it back to the States to record this mid-Sixties release. Curiously, the two previously unreleased tunes seem slightly out of place with the rest of the record, and feel more akin to the kind of work Gordon’s labelmates were releasing at the time. “Flick of a Trick” is a sultry, walking eight-bar blues, while “Very Saxily Yours,” distinguishes itself from the standards here by virtue of its riffing melody and use of hits during the head.

Having said that, part of the appeal of Gordon’s approach is the way this album is built from standards. There’s a sense of getting down to basics, from the passion and depths that can come out in a ballad to the sheer joy of swinging hard on the uptempo tunes. “Le Coiffeur” now sounds a little dated (like the theme from a lost Sixties sitcom), but there’s something charming about that, as there is about the loping exuberance of “Shiny Stockings” and the presence of “Manha de Carnaval,” a recent movie theme at the time.

Personnel: Dexter Gordon (tenor saxophone); Dexter Gordon; Bob Cranshaw (upright bass); Barry Harris (piano); Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone); Billy Higgins (drums).

Tracklist

01. Manha De Carnaval
02. Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)
03. Heartaches
04. Shiny Stockings
05. Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool
06. Le Coiffeur
07. Very Saxily Yours
08. Flick Of A Trick

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Blue Mitchell – Down With It

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Down With It is a fairly standard bop and soul-jazz session from Blue Mitchell. Leading a quintet that features a young Chick Corea on piano, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor, and drummer Al Foster, Mitchell creates a laid-back atmosphere which makes R&B covers like “Hi-Heel Sneakers” or the lite bossa nova of “Samba De Stacy” roll along nicely. Just as often, the record is so relaxed that it fails to generate much spark, but each the soloists have fine moments that makes the session worthwhile for jazz purists.

Personnel: Blue Mitchell (trumpet); Junior Cook (tenor saxophone); Chick Corea (piano); Gene Taylor (double bass); Al Foster (drums).

Tracklist

01. Hi-Heel Sneakers
02. Perception
03. Alone, Alone and Alone
04. March On Selma
05. One Shirt
06. Samba De Stacy

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Grant Green – I Want To Hold Your Hand

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The third of three sessions Grant Green co-led with modal organist Larry Young and Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones, I Want to Hold Your Hand continues in the soft, easy style of its predecessor, Street of Dreams. This time, however — as one might guess from the title and cover photo — the flavor is less reflective and more romantic and outwardly engaging. Part of the reason is tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, who takes Bobby Hutcherson’s place accompanying the core trio. His breathy, sensuous warmth keeps the album simmering at a low boil, and some of the repertoire helps as well, mixing romantic ballad standards (often associated with vocalists) and gently undulating bossa novas. The title track — yes, the Beatles tune — is one of the latter, cleverly adapted and arranged into perfectly viable jazz that suits Green’s elegant touch with pop standards; the other bossa nova, Jobim’s “Corcovado,” is given a wonderfully caressing treatment. Even with all the straightforward pop overtones of much of the material, the quartet’s playing is still very subtly advanced, both in its rhythmic interaction and the soloists’ harmonic choices. Whether augmented by an extra voice or sticking to the basic trio format, the Green/Young/Jones team produced some of the most sophisticated organ/guitar combo music ever waxed, and I Want to Hold Your Hand is the loveliest of the bunch.

Personnel: Grant Green (guitar); Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone); Larry Young (organ); Elvin Jones (drums).

Tracklist

01. i Want To Hold Your Hand
02. Speak Low
03. Stella By Starlight
04. Corcovado (Quiet Nights)
05. This Could Be The Start Of Something
06. At Long Last Love

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John Coltrane – Kulu Se Mama

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Kulu Se Mama is a somewhat neglected LP recorded by John Coltrane in 1965 during a key transitional stage in his career. Two of the album’s three lengthy tracks (“Vigil” and “Welcome”) feature the legendary saxophonist with his classic quartet (including bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones, and pianist McCoy Tyner). And these pieces have the open, exploratory, modal feel familiar to fans of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme period. “Kulu Se Mama” itself features an expanded line-up that includes saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, drummer Frank Butler, bassist and bass clarinetist Donald Garrett, and percussionist/singer Juno Lewis (who wrote the piece), with an African feel that includes layered polyrhythms and chanted vocals.

Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone, percussion, bells); Juno Lewis (vocals, conch shell, percussion); Donald Rafael Garrett (bass clarinet, percussion); Pharoah Sanders (tenor saxophone, kalimba, percussion); McCoy Tyner (piano); Frank Butler (drums, percussion, background vocals); Elvin Jones (drums).

Tracklist

01. Kulu Se Mama (Juno Se Mama)
02. Vigil
03. Welcome
04. Selflessness
05. Dust Dawn
06. Dust Dawn (Alternate Take)

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Kenny Dorham – Trompeta Toccata

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Trumpeter Kenny Dorham was one of a select few jazz musicians whose career spanned the big band era, the emergence of bebop (he played with Charlie Parker), the institution of hard bop, and the 1960s “New Thing” or avant-garde (on the Andrew Hill classic Point Of Departure). His trumpet sound was unparalleled, a melodious middle ground between Freddie Hubbard hot and Chet Baker cool. Trompeta Toccata, from 1964, presents him at the height of his powers as a player, composer (three of the four tunes here are originals), and bandleader (with Richard Davis, young Joe Henderson, and pianist-for-all-seasons Tommy Flanagan).

Tracklist

01. Trompet Toccata
02. Night Watch
03. Mamacita
04. The Fox

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Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers – Soul Finger

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Along with Gene Krupa and Max Roach, one of the most popular and influential jazz drummers ever is the late Art Blakey. Blakey wasn’t only a powerful drummer and hard-bop standard-bearer–his many editions of the Jazz Messengers were a finishing school for a few generations of players (including Freddie Hubbard and Chuck Mangione). Originally issued in 1965, Soul Finger finds the Messengers in transition. Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard make farewell appearances here, and the fine, underrated saxophonist Lucky Thompson gets a guest shot. Then up-and-comer Gary Bartz is on alto; the super-fine inside-outside pianist is John Hicks. While not exactly a mellow affair, Soul Finger is a bit more relaxed, less furious, than usual.

Personnel: Lucky Thompson (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan (trumpet); John Hicks (piano); Victor Sproles (bass instrument); Art Blakey (drums).

Tracklist

01. Soul Finger
02. Buh’s Bossa
03. Spot Session
04. Freedom Monday
05. A Quiet Thing (From Flora The Red Menace)
06. The Hub

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Wayne Shorter Albums!

Though some will argue about whether Wayne Shorter’s primary impact on jazz has been as a composer or as a saxophonist, hardly anyone will dispute his overall importance as one of jazz’s leading figures over a long span of time. Though indebted to a great extent to John Coltrane, with whom he practiced in the mid-’50s while still an undergraduate, Shorter eventually developed his own more succinct manner on tenor sax, retaining the tough tone quality and intensity and in later years, adding an element of funk. On soprano, Shorter is almost another player entirely, his lovely tone shining like a light beam, his sensibilities attuned more to lyrical thoughts, his choice of notes becoming more spare as his career unfolded. Shorter’s influence as a player, stemming mainly from his achievements in the 1960s and ’70s, has been tremendous upon the neo-bop brigade who emerged in the early ’80s, most notably Branford Marsalis. As a composer, he is best known for carefully conceived, complex, long-limbed, endlessly winding tunes, many of which have become jazz standards yet have spawned few imitators.

for more info and buy check: vervemusicgroup.com/wayneshorter

1959 – Introducing Wayne Shorter
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Tracklist

01. Blues A La Carte
02. Harry’s Last Land
03. Down In The Depths
04. Pug Nose
05. Black Diamond
06. Mack The Knife
07. Blues A La Carte (Alternate Take)
08. Harry’s Last Stand (Alternate Take)
09. Down In The Depths (Alternate Take)
10. Black Diamond (Alternate Take)

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1960 – Second Genesis
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Tracklist

01. Ruby & The Pearl
02. Pay As You Go
03. Second Genesis
04. Mr.Chariman
05. Tenderfoot
06. The Albatross
07. Getting To Know You
08. I Didn’t Know What Time It Was

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1962 – Wayning Moments
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Tracklist

01. Black Orpheus (Take 4)
02. Devil’s Island (Take 8 )
03. Moon Of Manakoor (Take 2)
04. Dead-End (Take 8 )
05. Wayning MOments (Take 2)
06. Powder Keg (Take 5)
07. All Or Nothing At All (Take 3)
08. Callaway Went That A Way (Take 3)
09. Black Orpheus (Take 3)
10. Devil’s Island (Take 7)
11. Moon Manakoor (Take 1)
12. Dead End (Take 7)
13. Wayning Moments (Take 3)
14. Powder Keg (Take 1)
15. Callaway Wen That A Way (Take 1)

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1964 – Juju
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Tracklist

01. Juju
02. Deluge
03. House Of Jade
04. Mahjong
05. Yes Or No
06. Twelve More Bars To Go
07. Juju (Alternate Take)
08. House Of Jade (Alternate Take)

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1964 – Night Dreamer
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Tracklist

01. Night Dreamer
02. Oriental Folk Song
03. Virgo
04. Black Nile
05. Charcoal Blues
06. Armageddon
07. Virgo (Alternate Take)

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1964 – Speak No Evil
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Tracklist

01. Witch Hunt
02. Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum
03. Dance Cadaverous
04. Speak No Evil
05. Infant Eyes
06. Wild Flower
07. Dance Cadaverous (Alternate Take)

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1965 – Etcetera
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Tracklist

01. Etceter
02. Penelope
03. Toy Tune
04. Barracudas (General Assembly)
05. Indian Song

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1965 – The All Seeing Eye
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Tracklist

01. The All Seeing Eye
02. Genesis
03. Chaos
04. Face Of The Deep
05. Mephistopheles

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1965 – The Soothsayer
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Tracklist

01. Lost
02. Angola
03. The Big Push
04. The Soothsayer
05. Lady Day
06. Valse Triste
07. Angola (Alternate Take)

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1966 – Adam’s Apple
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Tracklist

01. Adam’s Apple
02. 502 Blues
03. El Goucho
04. Footprints
05. Teru
06. Chief Crazy Horse
07. The Collector

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1967 – Schizophrenia
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Tracklist

01. Tom Thumb
02. Go
03. Schizophrenia
04. Kryptonite
05. Miyako
06. Playground

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1969 – Super Nova
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Tracklist

01. Super Nova
02. Sweet Pea
03. Dindi
04. Water Babies
05. Capricorn
06. More Than Human

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1970 – Moto Grosso Feio
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Tracklist

01. Moto Grosso Feio
02. Montezuma
03. Antigua
04. Vera Cruza
05. Iska

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1970 – Odyssey of Iska
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Tracklist

01. Wind
02. Storm
03. Calm
04. De Pois Do Amor o Vazio
05. Joy

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1974 – Native Dancer
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Tracklist

01. Ponta De Areia
02. Beauty And The Beast
03. Tarde
04. Miracle Of The Fishes
05. Diana
06. From The Lonely Afternoons
07. Ana Maria
08. Lilia
09. Joanna’s The Theme

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1985 – Atlantis
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Tracklist

01. Endangared Species
02. The Three Marias
03. The Last Silk Hat
04. When You Dream
05. Who Goes There!
06. Atlantis
07. Shere Khan, The Tiger
08. Criancas
09. On The Eve Of Departure

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1986 – Phantom Navigator
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Tracklist

01. Condition Rend
02. Mahogany Bird
03. Remote Control
04. Yamanjia
05. Forbidden, Plan-It!
06. Flagships

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1988 – Joy Ryder
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Tracklist

01. Joy Rider
02. Cathay
03. Over Shadow Hill Way
04. Anthem
05. Causeways
06. Daredevil
07. Someplace Called Where

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1995 – High Life
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Tracklist

01. Children Of The Night
02. At The Fair
03. Maya
04. On The Milky Way Express
05. Pandora Awakened
06. Virgo Rising
07. High Life
08. Midnight In California
09. Black Swan (In Memory Of Susan Portlynn Rome)

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2002 – Footprints Live!
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Tracklist

01. Santuary
02. Masequelero
03. Valse Trist
04. Go
05. Aung San Suu Kyi
06. Footsprints
07. Atlantis
08. Juju

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2003 – Alegria
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Tracklist

01. Sacajawea
02. Serenata
03. Vendiendo Alegria
04. Bachianas Brasileras No.5
05. Angola
06. Interlude
07. She Moves Through The Fair
08. Orbits
09. 12Th Century Carol
10. Capricorn II

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2005 – Beyond the Sound Barrier
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Tracklist

01. Smilin’ Through (Arthur Penn)
02. As Far As The Eye Can See
03. On Wings Of Song
04. Tinker Bell
05. Joy Ryrder
06. Over Shadow Hill Way
07. Adventures Aboard The Golden Mean
08. Beyond The Sound Barrier

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John Coltrane Archie Shepp – New Thing at Newport

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In 1965, a breakthrough year for John Coltrane, the great saxophonist began a fervent period of exploration–acting not only as a lightning rod for the emerging free jazz movement, but becoming something of a free jazz patron. Much as he championed the music of Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy, Coltrane now used his enormous popularity to midwife the work of firebrands such as Albert Ayler and young horn players featured on Ascension.

Few players benefitted from Coltrane’s patronage as much as Florida native Archie Shepp. Coming of age in Philadelphia, Shepp was a veteran of numerous blues and R&B bands when he first came to prominence with Cecil Taylor. Coltrane got him his first contract with Impulse!, leading to Shepp’s debut as a leader, Four For Trane. A New Thing At Newport documents the original Coltrane Quartet, a few months before its dissolution, and a fine edition of the Shepp Quartet.

Coltrane’s set straddles stylistic periods, and the aesthetic tension is plain to hear. When Coltrane solos on the elliptical theme to “One Down One Up” and the lyrical incantations of “My Favorite Things,” the band takes on a fierce, freewheeling demeanor. The saxophonist stretches his melodic lines to the breaking point, reaching out for the intuitive brand of freedom his younger acolytes were then pursuing. But when Tyner solos, you can hear Garrison and Jones coalesce into the kind of rhythmic juggernaut that initially established the quartet’s reputation.

As for Shepp’s set, despite the loose ensemble trappings, the saxophonist comes across as a provocative composer with a dark romantic conception–equal parts free jazz, blues and modern theater (check out his recitation on “Skag,” the brooding lyricism of “Le Matin Des Noire,” the contrasting delicacy and bite of “Call Me By My Rightful”). As the jagged stops and starts of his opener “Rufus” demonstrate, his amorphous melodic conception is firmly rooted in the blues, and his subtle manipulations of embouchure, inflection and pitch paved the for David Murray (and inevitably drew comparisons to Ben Webster).

JOHN COLTRANE:
Personnel: John Coltrane (soprano & tenor saxophones); Father Norman O’Connor (spoken vocals); McCoy Tyner (piano); Jimmy Garrison (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).

ARCHIE SHEPP:
Personnel: Archie Shepp (spoken vocals, tenor saxophone); Billy Taylor (spoken vocals); Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone); Barre Phillips (bass); Joe Chambers (drums).

Tracklist

01. Spoken Introduction To John Coltrane’s Set By Father Norman O’Connor
02. One Down, One Up
03. My Favorite Things
04. Spoken Introduction To Archie Shepp’s Set By Billy Taylor
05. Gingerbread, Gingerbread Boy
06. Call Me By My Rightful Name
07. Scag
08. Rufus (Swung His Face At Last To The Wind, Then His Neck Snapped)
09. Le Matin Des Noire

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Wayne Shorter – The All Seeing Eye

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Wayne Shorter’s epic The All Seeing Eye can be compared in character to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. It is the culmination of the first leg of Shorter’s artistic journey, which began in earnest in 1964 with his first solo recordings for Blue Note. Like Supreme, it is a deeply spiritual work, with both the album and song titles referring to God’s creation of the universe. Also, unlike his previous efforts, Eye marks the first time Shorter commanded such a large ensemble, a feature that would mark many future solo outings.

Compositionally, Shorter takes daring leaps here, greatly expanding his freer modal style. Traditional forms are bent and stretched beyond recognition as themes and solos meld into a continuous stream, projecting moods and varying intensities that reflect the album’s subject. The large horn section creates a massive sound on ensemble passages and a great variety of interpretations in solo jaunts. Also part of Shorter’s design is the role of the rhythm section, more an ebbing whirlwind than strictly a supporting unit. The All Seeing Eye is one of Wayne Shorter’s boldest and most successful efforts.

Personnel: Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone); James Spaulding (alto saxophone); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet, flugelhorn); Alan Shorter (flugelhorn); Grachan Moncur III (trombone); Herbie Hancock (piano); Ron Carter (acoustic bass); Joe Chambers (drums).

Tracklist

01. The All Seeing Eye
02. Genesis
03. Chaos
04. Face Of The Deep
05. Mephistopheles

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Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Rip, Rig And Panic

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Despite its brevity, Rip, Rig, and Panic may be pre-Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s greatest outing. Recorded in 1965 at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in New Jersey, Kirk is teamed with the most awesome rhythm section he ever recorded with: drummer Elvin Jones, pianist Jaki Byard, and bassist Richard Davis. Clocking in at a mere 36 minutes, Kirk and his quartet moved through a series of musicological changes that defined him as an artist at the time.

Tracklist

01. No Tonic Press
02. Once In A While
03. From Bechet, Byas and Fats
04. Mystical Dreams
05. Rip, Dig and Panic
06. Black Diamonds
07. Slippery, Hippery, Flippery

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Wayne Shorter – The Soothsayer

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Part of an explosion of solo albums Wayne Shorter recorded just after he joined Miles Davis’ band, The Soothsayer wasn’t released until the late ’70s. Listening to the album, it is hard to believe because it ranks with the best of his works from this incredibly fertile period. Shorter has been called Davis’ “idea man,” and the creativity and thoughtfulness that earned him that moniker are quite evident here. The album’s five originals and one arrangement (of Sibelius’ Valse Triste) show a multi-layered complexity that seems effortless even as it weaves together contributions from a very strong, stylistic sextet. Of particular interest is the interplay of the three horn players, including altoist James Spaulding and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. As a performer, Shorter also shows a lot of strength, with fluid, at times subtly evocative, solos that bloom with energy without ever seeming frantic or harsh. The title track shows Shorter at his most forceful and is one of the most passionate moments on the album, but even here, beauty seems to come first, while his low-key standard “Lady Day” embodies grace and calmness in every moment. The CD version of this album also contains an alternate take of “Angola” that features some crisp playing by McCoy Tyner, as well as an energetic solo by Shorter.

Tracklist

01. Lost
02. Angola
03. The Big Push
04. The Soothsayer
05. Lady Day
06. Valse Triste
07. Angola (Alternate Take)

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Sam Rivers – Contours

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Saxophonist Sam Rivers certainly assembled a team of hot soloists for this album. However, his compositions are more than just vehicles for improvisation. Rivers’s largely angular, even jarring, melodies clearly seek to define a new direction in jazz; they do not fall back on bebop forms or hard-bop funkiness. Each composition contains an abstract “head” and the harmonic underpinning flatly rejects the usual chord progressions found in most standard repertoire. On this 1965 date, Rivers and his band also avoid the blues format.

“Mellifluous Cacophony” (performed twice here) is one such example. On this composition, Rivers begins with an asymmetrical melody that suggests atonality. However, the soloing remains firmly rooted in the jazz lexicon, as pianist Herbie Hancock, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, and Rivers himself rip into these changes with abandon. “Euterpe” is an ethereal ballad replete with a long, free-floating form and stream-of-consciousness solos from the quintet. Rivers’s own flute solo is marked by questing lines and exquisite modal excursions. Overall, this is intellectually stimulating music that avoids precise definition. Suffice to say, Contours is forward-looking jazz at its best.

Tracklist

01. Point Of Many Returns
02. Dance Of The Tripedal
03. Euterpe
04. Mellifluous Cacophony
05. Mellifluous Cacophony (Alternate Take)

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