KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Go Right- Jazz From Poland 1963-75 [coll] – [Jazzanova Compost Records]

Naysayer   10/16/2016   CD, Jazz

“Go Right” provides an interesting look at a period and place for jazz musicians and fans: Poland 1963-75. A LOT was going on in Poland during this time, including a very controlling government that watched out for cultural “appropriateness”. You can’t rock the boat that hard, or you need to be very subtle about it. The groups on this compilation are extremely talented, playing strong, solid, pretty straight ahead jazz. With the occasional title about revolution. A lot of it sounds like great soundtrack music or the best of studio musicians which requires superb musicianship. But the centerpiece of the collection is the introduction of the Novi Singers to the rest of the world. WOWSA. I mean, quality. The first thing I thought was The Double Six of Paris and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, classic jazz vocal groups of such power and skill. Novi Singers rank equal with them. A quartet of vocalists, one female and three male, the outcome is so stunning, so smooth it gives me goosebumps. Lots of scat singing, in harmonies that break my heart, with amazing jazz instrumentation accompaniment. It might sound kitschy to some. It is not. It’s a tradition of singing that many attempt but few can pull off. Plus there is that wonderful 1960’s feel to so much of it. Stellar and just so enjoyable. Bee buh dee do wop yah.

Del Piano, Roberto – “Le Main Qui Cherche La Lumiere” – [Improvising Beings]

Hemroid The Leader   9/27/2016   CD, Jazz

trans: The Hand That Seeks The Light. It must be really dark in there. The band fumbles madly for their instruments. Somebody turn on the light! Strange ensemble, like a pot stirred non-stop, never allowed to simmer. Just steamy fumble. Bassist Del Piano leads two different bands through two CDs on the excellent Tokyo label Improvising Beings. Subtle electronics are more noticeable on CD1.

Vlatkovich, Michael – “Myrnofant’s Kiss” – [Pfmentum]

Hemroid The Leader   9/16/2016   CD, Jazz

Born in St. Louis, Missouri and awarded a scholarship to attend the St. Louis School of Music, trombonist Michael Vlatkovich has lived in Los Angeles since 1973. His session resume includes films such as John Cassavettes’ Tempest.

Here, he leads a quartet in a creative improv setting. Jonathan Golove’s electric cello is alternately bowed and plucked, and along with David Mott’s baritone sax stands in for the bass. Chris Garcia on drums. Trombone, bari sax, and drum often conjure a second-line feel.

El’zabar, Kahil Ritual Trio and Bang, Billy – “Big M: Tribute to Malachi Favors” – [Delmark]

Max Level   9/6/2016   CD, Jazz

Earthy jazz sounds honoring the late, esteemed bassist Malachi Favors (aka Big M) who was the original bassist in this Ritual Trio, headed by Chicago percussionist Kahil El’Zabar. As a member of The Art Ensemble of Chicago and the AACM, Favors was a huge influence musically, and also as somewhat of a father figure, on El’Zabar from an early age. After Favors passed away in 2004, El’Zabar decided to reform the Ritual Trio with Ari Brown on saxophone and Yosef Ben Israel on bass. This 2004 date is a tribute to Big M, with guest Billy Bang on violin. On various tracks, you’ll hear El’Zabar on either trap drums, “earth drums” (African hand drums) or kalimba. He also adds some flute and, on the final track, vocals. Tenor saxophonist Ari Brown plays with a great raw tone and also checks in with some first rate piano on a couple of tracks. If you’re a fan of big, booming, acoustic double bass propulsion, then you’ll enjoy what Ben Israel is up to here. Track 7 is a bluesy vocal piece with piano, bass, violin, and flute, but no percussion–not my favorite track here. Everything else, though, is a fragrant stew of low down African-influenced jazz grooves. Tracks are medium length, in the 6 to 11 minute range.

Payne, Cecil & Jordan, Duke – “Brooklyn Brothers” – [Elemental Music]

Cousin Mary   8/29/2016   CD, Jazz

Very nice approachable jazz with especially fine performances from baritone sax and flute player Cecil Payne (1922-2007) and Duke Jordan (1922-2006) on piano. Sam Jones on bass and Al Foster on drums also excellent. Despite mainstream appeal and covers of jazz standards, this excellent 1973 recording belongs in the KFJC library.

Low Life / Last Exit [coll] – [Jazzwerkstatt]

mouthbreather   8/24/2016   CD, Jazz

energetic skronk improv jazz fits recorded in the late ’80s.
LOW LIFE Brotzmann + Laswelltracks (1-10) bass sax and electric basses, dramatic progression story telling with fart sounds abound.
LAST EXIT (tk 11-14) is fuller free jazz sound, of guitar, drums, tenor sax, 6-string bass, and even vox on trk 12. loud crazy playing over the top of each other punctuated with occasional Primus proggy vibes.
yummy stuff, throw LOW LIFE on continuous and add liberally to your mix – dr. mouth’s orders

Cline, Nels – “Dirty Baby” – [Cryptogramophone]

Hemroid The Leader   8/21/2016   CD, Jazz


Conceived as a “trialogue” between the music of Nels Cline, paintings of Ed Ruscha and poems of David Breskin. This is the musical component to Dirty Baby, a multimedia work of music, poetry, and pictures performed at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. A deluxe monograph was published by DelMonico Books.
Two discs of instrumentals from two different nonets. A major work in the canon of Nels Cline, features brother Alex, Vinny Golia, Wayne Peet, Scott Amendola et al. CD1: Longer tunes. CD2: Shorter tracks, wildly eclectic, Funky Bluesy Thrashy, Great track names taken from Ed Ruscha paintings. Ambitious; the larger group gives Cline a lot of different possibilities.

Stanley, Aileen – “Music Hall Favorites By Aileen Stanley” – [Take 2 Records]

humana   8/7/2016   CD, Jazz

Imagine if you will being a DJ in the 50s and having at your command an NBC Thesaurus series of 16″ discs full of music such as the kind found on this CD. Well, we don’t have to, because this little treasure is a perfect example of the recordings made at that time to help radio stations with filler music. Aileen Stanley, so called because she took her brother’s first name when he left her to a solo career, began performing at the age of 5 with her brother. Vaudeville was only the start, as we can see from this CD of songs from the 1900s-1920s but recorded in the 1940s. It is a trip listening to the lyrics that take you back to a time when life may not have been simpler, but the songs were. I have lots of favorites on this one. Go find yours.

Logan, Giuseppi – “…and They Were Cool” – [Improvising Beings]

Max Level   7/18/2016   CD, Jazz

Saxophonist Logan was a respected, though erratic, figure in the early days of free jazz. He only made a couple of records and played with a small number of notable musicians, and then pretty much disappeared for decades. With a great deal of support from admirers, he seems to be making somewhat of a comeback and that’s a good thing.

This CD is an airy, spacious affair featuring Logan on sax and solo piano (track 3), Jessica Lurie on sax and flute, and Larry Roland on bass. No drums. Guitarist Ed Pettersen (who also produced the CD) plays mostly subtle textural /looping things underneath, which gives the music an interesting flavor. My favorite parts are when Logan is on sax and Lurie is on flute–we hear some truly inspired conversation.

The liner notes tell us the story of how Logan was tracked down and brought into the studio to record this CD.

BHZ – “Total Harmonic Distortion” – [Innova Recordings]

billiejoe   7/13/2016   CD, Jazz

Snappy twirly jazz. Track two is more serene than the others. All nice medium length tracks. Crashing percussion and twittering horns. Newly formed group of Brigid Burke on clarient, Steve Hall on pianio, and Mark Zanter on guitar.
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Bennani, Abdelhai/Oki, Itaru/Silva, Alan/Sato, Makoto – “New Today, New Everyday” – [Improvising Beings]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2016   CD, Jazz

Tenor saxman Abdelai Bennani Moroccan-born, then French-fed, creates
some tasty spaces that would feel right at home in Chicago. There’s
an Art Ensemble vibe here for me, pacing and spacing with some
eathy ancestral vibes (there’s even a track called “Tribes”)
You might recognize Alan Silva’s name on here, the bassman of
ESP and other lore goes spaceman with synth on the second of the
two disks. But the connection Bennani has made with Makoto Sato
on drums and especially Itaru Oki is fantastic. Oki mostly on trumpet,
adds some bugle and notably windy flutes. Oki is given a lot of solo
space, and while both he and Bennani can scorch things up, they excel
in gentle ways. Pieces are often dreamy, Sato then eases up and will
roll along on toms. Both horns at times seem to brush up against
classics for a bar or two, maybe quoting some recognizable material
to help launch an improvisation. Bennani gets a sweet hum on slow low
notes and on both disks his work with Oki is touch and glow! Silva’s
synth on disk two is also mellow and mildly galactic while anchored
in the deep end like a contrabass, it sort of pushes the group into a
more fusion zone. on “Take Time, Play the Game” but towards the
end really elevates. On “More Is Different” Silva’s delivers more
mind-bending pitch-bending tweaky key tinkle. Martian blues almost?
More great stuff from this vibrant label, personally I need to back
and uncork some the Oki releases KFJC has corralled. -Thurston Hunger

Baker, Chet Quartet – “Jazz At Ann Arbor” – [Pacific Jazz]

Cousin Mary   5/11/2016   12-inch, Jazz

Pacific Jazz was known for cool West Coast jazz and released 12″ albums from 1955 to 1957 – this was the third. Chet Baker’s trumpet is in fine form in this live recording from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and is joined by terrific side men. I especially liked Line for Lyons, Headline, and Russ Job.

After Charlie Parker worked with Baker on the West Coast, he went back to New York and told musicians “There’s a little white cat on the coast who’s gonna eat you up”.

Tusques, Parle, Oki & Juanpera – “Le Chant Du Jub Jub” – [Improvising Beings]

Cousin Mary   5/7/2016   CD, Jazz

Recorded in France in 2015, piano (Tusques), trumpet and flute (Oki), accordion (Parle), and vocals/spoken word in French (Juanpera). Very fluttery, completely improvised and rather difficult – sounds like nothing else. I only began to make sense of it on the second listen. Perhaps Jub Jub refers to the bird in Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of the Snark”?

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