Archive for March, 2010

The Ray Brown Trio – Soular Energy (Concord)

March 29, 2010

This work was originally released by Concord Records, in LP. The original Concord LPs are true relics and I already owned many of them, but ended up selling everything when I sold my Thorens turntable.
I really like this LP series released by Concord in 70-80’s. Whenever I found one in the used LP stores nearby I got it without asking for any discounts. They always played very well here. It is a company that always concern about the artists selection and, fortunately, about the way the music is presented: great recordings and masterings. When put to play in hi-fi stereo systems, they allow us to enjoy all the musicians performance, without losing any detail.
Ray Brown was a bass player that had a very intense Jazz life. He was married to Ella Fitzgerald, was member of Oscar Peterson band, was one of the L.A. Four, and others…
As I already wrote above, this recording follows the Concord quality standard, but I can say it is some steps above the expected, becoming a true piece of music (when art and recording are great, we got a true musical piece of art).
It was trio that knew how to choose the tracks. The Ray Brown bass is very well captured and we are able to listen all the notes and intentions perfectly. Therefore, the main highlight of this album is the great pianist Gene Harris.
The classic Take the “A” Train is played down-tempo, very different of its original pace. In Mistreated But Undefeated Blues track, the pianist used the left hand with pleasant energy (few audio systems can reveal that) and, finally, Sweet Georgia Brown, other great standard beautifully presented here, mostly by the bass notes of Ray Brown.

Best wishes
Leonardo

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Spyro Gyra – Wrapped in a Dream (Heads Up)

March 25, 2010

I’ve been planning a review of this record in the last five days, after some listening sessions and some adjustments to my hifi stereo.
When I met Spyro Gyra for the first time, some years ago, I was listening to “Breakout” in a standard LP version, and I enjoyed it a lot. The band occupied a good place in my collection since then.
Something happened in the last times, while listening to “Modern Times” and “Original Cinema”. I realized that the band was a kind of modern jazz industry by itself. So many records and so many tracks, with many common aspects between them. Jay Beckenstein always soloing its alto sax, very perfect music, with very perfect melodies and compositions, always very smooth and well synchronized. What is that? Art or commercial music? I started to read about Spyro Gyra and found that this band is very criticized about being a commercial-focused band.

The fact is that Spyro Gyra has an extensive list of records and a maze of materials to explore. I just found that they have records from GRP, which is one of my favorite record labels and they sounds very nice in my sound system. For sure I’m aiming these and will start doing some research on them soon.
Wrapped in a Dream is a must-have album for those who like good modern jazz music with superb recording quality. This record has some features that makes it a bit different and innovative, at least comparing with other recent albums. Has some Spanish touches and the track “Impressions Of Madrid” and “Walkin’ Home” are my favorite.
Despite the critics, I have a lot of fun listening to this album, and that’s what matters.

Leonardo

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (Columbia-Legacy)

March 4, 2010

One of the best-selling jazz records ever made, enjoying platinum status.
Many jazzoids consider this album as a boundary of jazz style. From pure jazz to fusion jazz.

At a time when most of the Jazz players put the pure jazz in the main spot (and put the rock and funk aside), H.Hancock hesitated to mix jazz and funk in this work. He realized that he didn’t think like the others and decided to yes, let’s do it. And he did with the percussion, jazz, funk, rock and other different textures. That was the result, an excellent album that can be considered the birth of the fusion.

In tracks 1 and 3, there some weird solos that can be annoying, therefore, I highly recommend to take it, they are brief and, when concluded, give space to a really fine jazz with lots of groove. It seems to me that they were wittingly recorded that way. Imagine yourself climbing a mountain. It’s a bit difficult to get to the top. Once there, you can rest and enjoy the nice view.
I have a 1997 reissue CD and, thanks God, a great recording and re-mastering.
I was listening to this CD many years ago, when I had only a consumer-grade equipment when I felt then that I should have a decent gear to listen to my records. I ended up becoming very addicted to stereo sound art (aka hi-fi).
So, this work, “Head Hunters”, a milestone in the jazz history, is also a milestone in my own music history, some years later.

Thank you all for the support.
Leonardo