12 August 2010

Fats Domino - Fats Domino Swings

Fats Domino legacy begs for a deluxe treatment. A kind of "Complete Sessions" box with not only his best known takes, but lesser-known gems. Every one of his cuts is special, Fats just has this special something. One of my favorite collections of his early hits is called Fats Domino Swings (12.000.000 Records). Catchy title.

It's got most of his best known works: "Blue Monday", "I'm Walking", "I'm In Love Again", "The Fat Man" and of course "Blueberry Hill" - my favorite. "Though we're apart, you're part of me still", sung in his beautiful, calm and soothingly cheerful voice is priceless. This track is a special classic, even Led Zeppelin covered it live. Not that their version matters anything. Omitted is "I'm Ready", but I've got more of his disks and many of the songs are duplicated on some, but I never could tire of them. And one can buy them very cheap (which is a great, but a great shame too).

Fats plays piano, behind him shines the best New Orleans horn section you could dream of, I don't know if even Otis Redding's ensemble could rival those guys. Upbeat, uptempo tracks with one or two ballads, yeah, that's what me likes. Almost as much as digging into his quite unknown work and finding awesome tracks I've never heard before. He really recorded plenty of them.

Check out a small part of lyrics to "Bo Weevil": "on Saturday night / where I was born / down on the farm / guitar plinking / and we started drinking / till the break of dawn" - this is genuine good time music.

11 August 2010

Ry Cooder - I, Flathead

Ry Cooder is a man to admire. Master guitarist, musicologist and archivist, open-minded producer, guy behind Buena Vista Social Club. He taught Keith Richards about open tunings which resulted in the Stones' best work. He recorded a great soundtrack to Paris, Texas which he built on one riff by Blind Willie Johnson. And I, Flathead is his most recent release which closes a trilogy released on Nonesuch Records (Chavez Ravine and My Name Is Buddy).

I, Flathead is a concept album and there's a book included which I haven't read and I doubt I'll ever will. I like particular songs, particular sounds, I know this album is great, but it's beyond my tastes. Just with titles like "Johnny Cash", "Can I Smoke In Here?" and "Steel Guitar Heaven" it should be one of the releases of the year. Well no, it's not for me. I just can't really get into world music. It ruins things for me. If Cooder decided to record a stricte blues album, I'm sure I'd fall for him.

But his inspirations are much wider and more interesting for most, making me a kind of musical outcast. Listening to the Stooges, Gram Parsons and Miles Davis in a row is still a step before Cooder's music! His explorations of American music are clearly not for me, at least for now. Or maybe I'll take a listen to his "Boomer's Story"... While I love Tom Waits, this albums owns too much to him with all those crazy and weird sounds.

But even on I, Flathead there are moments. Not to mention great songs on his previous, quite similar albums, Chavez Ravine and My Name Is Buddy. Check out "Poor Man's Shangri-La" and some others, you'll know. I, Flathead is an album I wouldn't really mind listening with some friends at a party, but only in case we were all baked beyond recognition. ;^)

10 August 2010

The Stooges - 1970: the Complete Fun House Sessions

Punk as we love it. It's 1970, the Stones are at their peak, the Beatles are gone. The Stooges are simple, nihilistic, absurd, shocking, good, and they even know what they want. As the AllMusic review states, this is the true way to separate the Stooges fans from truly obsessed. I quite like Fun House, 8-CD set with complete sessions (!) is even better. Just because I love so those "session recordings" and I love hearing how the band develops. But it's all in theory... Now as we get back to the album, it sucks a little. Still love.

So, there are 30 takes of "Loose", which is one of my favorite Stooges songs. The thing is, all of those takes are almost the same, no kidding. I can say if it's an early or late take, but hell, they are the same. And there are only 2 songs that didn't make the album (one of them is blues so I'm all hot for it anyway, it's called "Slidin' the Blues"). I can even forgive them for bad jokes, I can't forget them the variety which is, I'm estimating, at zero level.

Every good band should have a set like this, showing it bare, with no special effects or production tricks, just messing around, being true. It's really fascinating. And punk is fun. Really. What else you've got to hear? "Louie Louie" by the Stooges.

09 August 2010

Gram Parsons - Sacred Hearts & Fallen Angels (the Gram Parsons Anthology)

While I just can't enjoy most of the country records, I find it great to put on Jerry Lee or Johnny Cash from time to time. If I was allowed to listen to only one country album though, I'm sure it'd be a Gram Parsons compilation, Sacred Hearts & Fallen Angels. What a fucking great album - and I'm not very much into compilations myself, but this LP is wonderful, diverse and absolutely enough to fall in love with Gram. A classic.

We've got two CDs of the International Submarine Band, a little Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons & the Fallen Angels and the man himself solo. We've got "She", "Hickory Wind", "Love Hurts" and "Sleepless Nights". Country and country rock can't, just can't get better. There are some really rare pearls I've never heard, well, never even heard of, that are just awesome. Gram was a very special guy and a very special story, and it's all there.

Recommended to everyone, not only fans of country. If you heard the Stones do "Dead Flowers" you can have a slight vision of what's to come on Sacred Hearts & Fallen Angels.

Marc Ford - Fuzz Machine

Finally I got my hands on new Marc Ford album called Fuzz Machine. Well, I kinda like it. Ford is a talented white blues guitarist, weak singer and composer, but somehow he manages to put out really good solo albums (he got kicked out from the Black Crowes for drug use), like his 2008 Marc Ford & the Neptune Blues Club (with some Chuck Berry-esque rockers, "white blues" stuff and a very nice ballad, "Keep Holdin' On", not to mention "Main Drain" and "Shame On Me").

I'm a great fan of natural guitar sound, clear and undistorted, so I didn't like the title, but there's not much of that on the album. Ford nicely combines the styles of Clapton and Hendrix into his own, maybe reminding me a little of Ronnie Wood, but with many more boring instrumental passages.

I'm after one listen only, and have to say - it's usual good stuff Ford plays and a good contemporary blues album. With really, really decent production. I hoped for a hint of "Beck's Bolero" in "Bolero In Red" but that was totally different track. "You're the One" seems to be my favorite from Fuzz Machine for now but it's likely to change, it's a very consistent album. Maybe just one or two ballads too many...

07 August 2010

Steve Kuhn - Mostly Coltrane

Steve Kuhn's career started in the 50s and since mid-60s he has been recording and releasing a great deal of post-bop piano. He recorded with many big shots in the jazz world, most famous of them is John Coltrane. Unfortunately for Kuhn he played with Trane for a very brief time in 1960 and got replaced in the quartet by McCoy Tyner without recording anything.

Almost 50 years later Kuhn finally decided to record a tribute album to the great saxophonist containing tunes written or associated with Coltrane. It's called Mostly Coltrane. I picked it up just for one song, "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" (originally recorded by Trane on Coltrane's Sound in 1960), but other 12 tunes are worth checking out, too.

Kuhn plays with the listener perfectly. While Coltrane's "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" started with that unforgettable riff right away, Brooklyn-born pianist isn't rushing anywhere. He plays many notes teasing the listener with the melody, but never playing it in its original, crystal clear form. Kuhn's not covering Trane's work, he's reinventing it at times. His band includes bassist David Finck, drummer Joey Baron and guesting Joe Lovano on sax, who is an especially good addition to the usual Kuhn's trio.

Kuhn's usually a little too classical-oriented for my taste, but Mostly Coltrane will go down in 21st century jazz history as one of the finest tributes to John Coltrane.

06 August 2010

The Black Crowes - Shake Your Money Maker

90s were all about grunge when it came to good guitar-driven music, or at least early 90s. There was only one band then that released successful rock and roll records and got away with it: the Black Crowes. They debuted in 1990 with probably my favorite album of the decade - Shake Your Money Maker.

Heavily influenced by the Rolling Stones, the Faces and old blues singers, they weren't orginal at all - but the Black Crowes were, and still are, awesome musicians. "Sister Luck" is an obvious rip-off of the Stones' "Sway" for example, but who cares? I'd much rather hear it than a rip-off of anything else. Raw and hard "Struttin' Blues" and "Stare It Cold" are two another examples of the classic groove, but it's such a joy to listen to them, they sound like they're unstoppable, just go on and on, faster and faster. There are two fine ballads and absolutely insane Otis Redding cover, "Hard to Handle". The opening rocker with its remarkable slide guitar part reminds me of Neil Young's "Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown", top this. Such a shame there's no "Shake Your Money Maker" on the album...

It's not only the best album in the Crowes 20 year history, it's a goddamn masterpiece. It really, really sounds like it was recorded in the 1960s, not 30 years later. Shake Your Money Maker was produced by Rick Rubin and the Rolling Stones' long time collaborator Chuck Leavell participated on piano. Highly recommended.

05 August 2010

Sonny Rollins - On Impulse!

Sonny Rollins is mostly known for his absolutely awesome solo career during the late 50s and for taking a long hiatus afterwards. His later works are almost obscure, but outstanding nevertheless. I took a look at three of his Impulse! disks (released in 1965 and 1966) and the first one, Sonny Rollins On Impulse!, seems to be the most interesting of them all.

His tone changed since Saxophone Collosus from ten years earlier but it's still good old Sonny Rollins reinterpreting old standards. Disk starts with two standards, "On Green Dolphin Street" and lenghty "Everything Happens to Me". The first one was made famous by Miles Davis, second was played by almost everyone, from Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk to Bilie Holliday. Rollins is very lyrical, especially "On Green Dolphin Street" gained my attention as a very different version to the one played by Miles (not to mention Albert Ayler ;)). It's not melancholic anymore and swings beautifully.

Then there's calypso and I just love Rollins playing Caribbean rhythms, no matter if it's "St. Thomas" or anything else. This time it's "Hold 'Em Joe" - so joyful one can't resist dancing and jumping around. Rollins' backing band may not be well-known but sure knows how to swing, they are doing their job fine. Ray Bryant plays piano, Walter Booker is on bass and Mickey Roker on drums. And I can honestly say I'm glad Sonny decided to play with piano this time, Bryant is very prominent on this disk and deserves that place very much.

Both last tunes, "Blue Room" and "Three Little Rooms" are different and even more challenging, especially the first one noted. Judge for yourself, this is forgotten Sonny Rollins at his best.

04 August 2010

Television - Live at the Old Waldorf, San Francisco

So, I haven't written anything about Television yet? Weird, I thought I had written how magical Marquee Moon was before. So, anyway... Television was a wonderful, short-lived band in the end of 70s that played rock. Art rock, punk rock, you name it - they were masterful musicians and had two guitars (played by Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd) exchanging leads (so-called weaving). And, they were good at playing long improvisations. Doesn't certainly sound like punk, right? Oh, there's more - they loved the Stones, the Beatles and others. They were rather neglecting early 70s music like Yes and ELP, though.

And they were playing almost everything but the blues. Their idea was simple - not to play the blues. Oh well. Damn it, I forgive them. They were epic anyway. Marquee Moon from 1977 is probably the greatest LP from that decade, such a shame 1978 follow-up was much weaker. Well, nevermind. Television broke up after two releases. But we're happy to have some live releases. Both from 1978, the first one is called The Blow-Up and was released in 1982 in shameful quality, second, from 2003, is much better. It's simply called Live at the Old Waldorf, San Francisco (waldorf salad instantly comes to my mind).

What we get: two 14-minute-long wild improvisations, two of undersigned's favorite tunes, one the Rolling Stones cover (Satisfaction, of course) and four other rockers. It is unbelievable. Makes me want to jump on stage and play with the band. What a divine album. Best live 70s rock ever released.

02 August 2010

Dave Holland - Pathways

After Vijay Iyer's Historicity I wanted to hear some more modern-day jazz, so I downloaded released this year but recorded live in 2009 album by Dave Holland Octet called Pathways.

First thought: it doesn't site like an octet, everybody waits patiently for their time and has plenty of space. Holland's band consists of Antonio Hart (alto sax and flute), Chris Potter (tenor and soprano sax), Gary Smulyan (baritone sax), Alex Sasha Sipiagin (trumpet and flugelhorn), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Steve Nelson (vibraphone and marimba) and Nate Smith (drums). This is the first time this group played together but you don't feel this - they are really swinging. My favorite cut is the longest one, "How's Never?".

Loud applause after almost every solo adds to the album very much. It was recorded at New York's Birdland and I'd love to be there, but since I'm a million miles away, I am pretty satisfied with this live document. Dave Holland said he was always a fan of Duke Ellington and dreamed about playing with such a powerful front line (3 saxes, 2 brasses). So, he made one of the best jazz releases of the year. And I don't miss piano...

Vijay Iyer - Historicity

I love piano blues and piano jazz. Hell, I just love pianos. There are many mighty solo piano LPs and this is by far my favorite setting of this instrument (start with Monk's Alone In San Francisco). But jazz trios (piano, bass and drums) can be very fine either. I guess this is the case with the rising star of 00s jazz, Vijay Iyer.

Born in 1971 in New York City, he has a very nice name and Indian roots ;) And he plays mean piano; his trio also consists of Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. They have released a couple of disks already, many critics say their last one, Historicity (Act, 2009), is their best. Now as I listen...

It's good. Sometimes Iyer is trying too hard and intense for my liking but in overall, it's good. One can't go wrong with jazz piano trios ;) And there's "Smoke Stack" by Andrew Hill. +10 to awesomeness. (Not to mention Stevie Wonder's tune...) All in all, it's recommended stuff.

I have no idea what's going on on today's jazz scene so hearing Vijay Iyer makes me happy there's still some good music around. I missed his show in Warsaw on the other hand - my huge mistake! I'll look for his Tragicomic LP (Sunnyside, 2008) and the good news: I'm looking forward to hearing his upcoming solo album named just Solo.

PS. Vijay Iyer won Downbeat Magazine's 2009 poll for Rising Star Pianist. So, he's like really, really worth hearing.

01 August 2010

J.R. Monterose

J.R. Monterose is remembered mostly for playing tenor sax on Mingus' Pithecantropus Erectus. His solo career was never really successful commercially, but his works were very highly rated by critics. Monterose debuted for Blue Note Records, AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine said it was "in the vein of Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins" and gave it 4.5 stars. In the session participated Ira Sullivan, Horace Silver, Wilbur Ware (yay) and Philly Joe Jones. It's a really swinging date, check out "Ka-Link", it's even on YouTube. This self-titled debut album makes a great pair with Introducing Johnny Griffin LP from the same year, try to mix them!

Later J.R. Monterose recorded obscure disks with Tommy Flanagan, Pete La Roca and Jimmy Garriosn (Straight Ahead, 1959) and others which for now I'm trying to get to. Great stuff!

30 July 2010

Happy birthday Buddy Guy!

Buddy "Motherfucker" Guy was born on this day in 1936 in Louisiana. He's known as one of the wildest performers of the blues and he's playing the blues since early 50s. Today he's one of the most important guitarists in the world.

Buddy's albums to get: Damn Right, I've Got the Blues and his recent Skin Deep. Happy birthday to the king of modern day Chicago blues!

26 July 2010

Various memories

Sometimes there are songs so bound to places, times or people it hurts me not to think about the past. My iTunes just shuffled me a tune from 1976's the Grateful Dead tour called "Cassidy". Only four minutes of great, folk-influenced rock and roll, and a wonderful riff and refrain. I used to listen to this song a couple of months ago waiting for my girlfriend before school, I always took the earplugs out, chatted with her as we made our way to the bus, and the song was, very silently, playing in the background. That was cool ;-) Contrasting with the lyrics, this used to be my true happiness.

She once said she had hated "my music" but loved the way I had loved it (so many mixed tenses in one sentence I had to screw something up, rrright). And almost every time she was at my place I played her Mingus' "Better Git It In Your Soul" and after a thousand tries she said, "hey, I've heard it somewhere before!" during the piano part. Priceless ;^)

23 July 2010

New releases: Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Ronnie Wood

About.com Blues Blog announced new Muddy Waters reissues from the BGO Records specializing in blues, folk and jazz CDs. There's nothing on the label's official page, but the thing seems interesting. One of the disks is a compilation They Call Me Muddy Waters, which would be great if not for the fact that it contains material from early 50s to late 60s. There are many better releases! But the second one looks damn better: it's Live at Mr. Kelly's from 1971. Awesome band (Cotton, Perkins...) and awesome setlist: there are even covers of Jimmy Reed ("You Don't Have to Go") and John Lee Hooker ("Boom Boom").

Another good news: mentioned previously James Cotton, a brilliant harp player, is releasing a new album on Alligator Records. More here. Get ready ;)

I'm also waiting for anothet Ronnie Wood's solo release. Rumours state it's gonna happen this year, probably in September. The album called More Good News was recorded a long time ago...

22 July 2010

Sexy girls making good music

Well, there've been a couple of them. I have no idea if there's anything better than a sexy chick singing the blues. ;) Grace Slick from the Jefferson Airplane has always been a favorite of mine.

Now Debbie Harry. She was even better ;) Ex-Playmate and the lead singer and songwriter for Blondie. Just hearing her sing "Rip Her to Shreds" gives me chills ;)

And erm... last but not least. Not too well known Ellen Foley - I love her cover of the Stones' "Stupid Girl" (Mick Ronson on guitar!). Hot, gorgeous and scary. ;)

21 July 2010

Muddy Waters - Screamin' and Cryin'

This album by Muddy is very close to my heart. It was recorded in my hometown, 16 years before I was born and 16 years after the famous Newport performance that marked his prime days. Waters was 61 at that time and well after his best years, but what does it matter? The recording is in very fine quality, the band is tight (my favorite, Pinetop Perkins, is on piano) and I'm sure all of the fans gathered at the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree '76 festival were amazed such a legend invaded Poland.

Everything starts kinda shaky but by the time the band gets into 3rd song ("Corrina, Corrina" sung by a duet Muddy-Pinetop) it's obvious I'm in for a treat! The legend is literally screamin' and cryin', but he's also a charismatic bandleader. He leaves the stage for a couple of songs to let his band show off ("Floyd's Guitar Blues" is remarkable - "hey, I know this riff!"), but then suddenly Muddy's back, never tired of singing his biggest hits: "Got My Mojo Workin'" and "Hoochie Coochie Man".

Highlights of the lenghty show include "After Hours" - several years later Pinetop Perkins recorded a solo album containing this song with the same title - and closing tracks (of 16 all - were they encores?), standard "Goin' Down Slow" and "What's the Matter With the Mill" also known as "Can't Get No Grindin'" straight from the 30s.

It's better than his previous work from the 70s and way more natural than all of the work he did after this while pairing with Johnny Winter. It's the last time we can hear Muddy howl "Howlin' Wolf" (by the way, the real Wolf died that year) or "Blow Wind Blow". Apart from a surprisingly great 1974's Unk In Funk, for me this is the most important of Muddy's outings from the 70s.

20 July 2010

Frank Frost's Downhome Blues

Remember Sam Phillips? Yeah, that legendary producer from Sun Records (Memphis, Tennessee). Just like Chicago blues was the trademark sound of Chess Records, Phillips most of his works recorded in a strong rockabilly vein. It shows when I listen to one of his last projects, early 60s songs by Frank Frost.

Frost came from Arizona, but played delta blues influenced soul all over the country juke joints. He played guitar, harp and a little piano, too. The compilation Downhome Blues is a set of his best works, this time with Jack Johnson and Sam Carr. A couple of years later Frost played with Scotty Moore.

I like the tunes. Many of them are a nod to Jimmy Reed (who is uncredited). This sounds like Reed on Sun Records, exactly. Frost played music which would be admired by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Eric Clapton alike. On the other hand, it was as unorginal as it was only possible. It resulted in the fact that Frost never made it big. He became an obscure blues shouter, today long forgotten despite quite ambitious come-backs in the 80s and early 90s - Frost even appeared on Deep Blues soundtrack in 1992.

You can hear his songs on YouTube: Didn't Mean No Harm and Back Scratcher.

Lee Morgan

My jazz library is steadily growing. Recently I've almost completed Blue Mitchell's and Lee Morgan's discographies. Morgan was a much better trumpet player than Mitchell, more prolific and more popular too, but they share some similarities. Both were recording for the Blue Note Records for a long time and both recorded some swinging takes. Blue Mitchell on several occasions tried to copy Morgan's style on "The Sidewinder". They really have this in common, because Lee Morgan also tried to copy his hit single, shamefully with no great success. Listen to "The Rumproller" from the following year, you'll understand.

A funny fact: "The Sidewinder" was an outtake. Morgan recorded it without releasing it in mind. What happened after was enormous success in the pop world (which was fairly odd for a 10-minute-long jazz track) and so-called "The Sidewinder" syndrome, because for the couple of months many Blue Note LPs started with long groovy tracks that were really swinging (boogaloo they call it) but failed in recreating the magic of the unexpected 1964 hit.

But all in all, Lee Morgan was a very advanced player. Not in the terms of Miles or Diz, he wasn't a giant, but he was a real cool bloke. His girlfriend shot him six years after "The Sidewinder". May he rest in peace, he had gone away too soon. That's what he has in common with his idol and guy he learned from - Clifford Brown. Memorable song "I Remember Clifford" (he died in a car accident) was recorded not only by Morgan, but also Sonny Rollins and many others.

Brownie died in 1956 along with Bud Powell's brother, Richie. We'll never know what would be Clifford's answer to "The Sidewinder". Sometimes I close my eyes, listen to the sound of silence and think about it.

18 July 2010

The Killer strikes again

The wildest man in rock and roll ever. Now he's 74 years old and he obviously has no clue about it. His duets album from 2006 is one of my favorites - it's called Last Man Standing. It's because he's the only one left from the great bunch of Sun Records' stars.

Of course, it's Jerry Lee Lewis. He's planning a new release this year called Mean Old Man. With awesome guests (Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson and more) and awesome tunes ("Sweet Virginia" and "Dead Flowers" by the Stones, "Roll Over Beethoven" by Chuck Berry and "Please Please Me" by the Beatles) it's gonna be wonderful. I'm waiting. ;)

14 July 2010

Grachan Moncur III for president

I've always been keen on free jazz (also known as the New Thing). Musician's music on the highest level, high quality jazz without any sense of rhythm or melody, spiritual trips to heaven and hell ;) The way Trane mixed free jazz and hard bop on A Love Supreme is just for starters. Dolphy released an album called Out to Lunch! on Blue Note Records which was far more into the new thing in 1964, and Blue Note very rarely released albums that weren't straight ahead bop. Dolphy's playing was amazingly great. I've also got some early works of Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler, another free jazz pioneers, and enjoy their music even if I don't understand a bit. Free jazz is a kind of really hardcore jazz that could be used to torture prisoners.

For me, the Blue Note sound connected with not-so-extremely-free playing was the thing. But as I mentioned before, that label wasn't interested much in this kind of music. They made an exception, though, for Grachan Moncur III - a wonderful, gorgeous trombonist and composer. He released two Blue Note albums, Evolution in 1963 and Some Other Stuff in 1964 (with the best cover art ever!). Moncur was associated with Jackie McLean back then and inspirated by Thelonious Monk.

You can't even imagine how the music on those two albums sounds. Divine! With titles like "Monk In Wonderland", you just know there's magic. It's got Lee Morgan's best playing ever - just a month before "The Sidewinder". On his second album he featured Wayne Shorter just before he joined Miles Davis' band.

Moncur's albums were extremely highly acclaimed by critics but fell into obscurity shortly after. Such a shame! Read a lenghty interview with Grachan to understand his music and position better and buy his stuff!

12 July 2010

Photos from Blue Note

Kill me, I'm not a big fan of Curtis Fuller - at least yet. But I was always interested how did the sessions for Blue Note Records look from the inside and when I got a set of Fuller's records for Blue Note label and a beautiful booklet, I've cut a few photos for y'all to see. ;) Photographs are of course taken by one and only Alfred Lion. Beautiful, aren't they? (And they get larger when you click, whaow ;^)).

11 July 2010

Tina Brooks - The Waiting Game

Tina Brooks released only four LPs and the Waiting Game was the hardest for me to find. It may not be the best session of his, but it's still such a wonderful hard bop date. One look at a typical Blue Note cover and a typically gorgeous set of musicians made me sure I'm gonna spend another 40 minutes listening to this album once again. Jazz, and bebop especially, really helps me forget about all the trouble I've got and keeps me focused enough not to drift away.

Johnny Coles is on trumpet, he's the guy who played with Mingus on his 1964 tour which speaks for itself. Enough to love him ;) Kenny Drew's on piano. He's a very bright pianist - I have only one album of his called Undercurrent and he certainly is groovin' the blues. Rhythm section is as follows: Wilbur Ware (known for his masterful playing with Sonny Rollins) and Philly Joe Jones - who was admired by you know who ;)

Tina Brooks doesn't overuse minor tones, even plays cheerfully at times. His interplay with Johnny Coles is absolutely amazing and the way Kenny Drew plays behind them sends chills down my spine - not to mention his solos, and he gets quite a few of them. Of the six songs, all of them are rather short, clocking at about 5-7 minutes - I'd love to hear those tunes played live by Tina's band, stretched to the limit.

There are quieter moments but don't wait for ballads - even if some moments are slow, they are loud and proud. The songs that I find the best are the opening track ("Talkin' About") and eponymous closing track. I rate those compositions higher than many of the well-known ancient jazz standards played to death on too many occasions during the 40s and 50s.

All in all, the Waiting Game is not as overwhelming as Tina's masterpiece, True Blue. It isn't exciting enough to be in every jazz enthusiast's collection. Neither it's original or rare enough to cost you fifteen bucks - unless you're a bebop lover. And I'm quite a maniac now ;) I wildly crave for jazz LPs that are swinging like famous Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder" but are challenging enough not to be called "radio-friendly". On this album, Brooks gets close.

28 June 2010

Duke Ellington - Ellington at Newport 1956

I haven't written about jazz in a long time but it certainly doesn't mean I stopped listening to it. The thing is, I got myself a two CD release of Duke Ellington's At Newport set from 1956 and since some time couldn't listen to anything else. This is the perfect album, so perfect it's impossible to describe, analyzing it seems like an insult to the Duke. And the man wasn't even satisfied with the results!

No doubt it's the greatest jazz live album ever released. I've listened to "Diminuendo In Blue and Crescendo In Blue" countless times and still haven't got enough. And I'm even not a fan of big band jazz! It's inspiring, awesome, stunning, original, blindingly amazing. This is the jazz album to get to start your collection.

Original LP with only five tracks - three parts of "Newport Jazz Festival Suite" on side A and "Jeep's Blues" and "Diminuendo... and Crescendo In Blue" - is the one to get for jazz newbies, everybody else will have glorious time listening to the expanded version.

27 June 2010

Gary Moore sucks

Yeah, I'm lost in the past. There are still quite many good blues albums getting released every year, but nothing great. Production most often is thick, thin, plastic, fake, cold, uninteresting. Not warm and strong like in the Chess years. It's not aggresive at all! Apart from that, lyrics usually suck - when those guys in the 50s sung "I hope some schoolboy start a fight", they really had this on their minds. Now modern blues artists have no guts. And Eric Clapton, who himself is a very fine guitarist, started a trend of playing long, wailing solos, and telling everybody around it's really heartbreaking. No, it's not.

The essence of the blues being down in a hole is Gary Moore. A very popular blues-rock mainstream artist whose concerts really draw attention of the usually-not-going-anywhere crowd. He started his career in the very late 60s and since then played, most notably, with Thin Lizzy. And released 20-something solo albums that are all the same, and all suck. His most important work is 1990's Still Got the Blues LP (the only one similar thing that seems to be worse is Roy Buchanan's pop/blues hit from the same time). A very popular blues-rock album. A very white one.

I downloaded his last album from 2008 called "Bad for You Baby". A tough title, isn't it? I listen and listen and it's not totally unacceptable - I even enjoy some of the songs. Vocals are bad, guitar sound is bad. 10-minute-long tracks are bad. Shredding on a blues album is unforgivable, so amazingly bad it makes me almost quit listening to it. But in overall, I really enjoy moments. But I just love what Ginger Baker said about Gary, and I generally love his bitter comments. :)

Gary Moore, Roy Buchanan, sometimes Clapton sucked hard in their prime, glory days, and now guys like Joe Bonamassa followed in the same style. What's wrong with these people?

Gary Moore is just an imitation of the real blues. He's playing great blues without the feeling. :)

26 June 2010

Random album recommendations

1. Taj Mahal - The Natch'l Blues: not as popular as Mahal's previous, legendary eponymous album, but almost as good. He mixes traditional Delta blues (wonderful "She Caught the Katy") with Memphis soul (Otis Redding-influenced "You Don't Miss Your Water"). Such a shame so many fans overlook it.
2. the Flamin' Groovies - Teenage Head: released in 1971 and famously compared to the Stones' masterpiece Sticky Fingers. It's much less interesting, but quite similar, and I can recommend it anyway. Great takes on blues, blues-rock, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, boogie et cetera.
3. Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon - Willie's Blues: a very fine piano player and the ultimate, definitive blues songwriter (and a good bassist) on a very intimate, quiet jammy session from 1959. Tricky tunes, moody atmosphere, I just love this album. A forgotten classic.
4. Pinetop Perkins - Portrait Of A Delta Bluesman: 20 delta blues tracks played solo on piano by a true legend and a couple of short interviews. A cover of Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" and famous "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie". That's just awesome! For all lovers of piano blues.

...Just a couple of albums I've been listening to recently.

23 June 2010

John Mayall live in 2010

On 18th June John Mayall played a student's club Stodola in Warsaw, Poland. It was a 2-hour-long set of blues without any supporting band and I can clearly say that everybody loved it, including the main character, the 76-year-old now John Mayall.

Mayall's band was: Greg Rzab on bass, Jay Davenport on drums, a fine pair; almost silent Tom Canning on keys and Rocky Athas on guitar. He was playing a very lyrical blues, wasn't an outstanding guitarist, but I really enjoyed his solos. Mayall played harmonica and keys. I was really hoping for a performance with a guitar but there wasn't a chance.

My favorite track of the whole show was "The Bear" from his album with Mick Taylor Blues From Laurel Canyon. It's just a little song about the leader of Canned Heat band. I couldn't find nor remember the setlist for this particular show so here's a glimpse of what he's playing on this tour that I've stolen from a show that took place ten days before in Aschaffenburg (?), Germany. :)

1 Another Man Done Gone
2 Hideaway
3 Chicago Line
4 Nothing to Do With Love
5 All My Life
6 Help Me
7 You Know That You Love Me
8 California
9 A Dream About the Blues
10 Room to Move
11 Somebody's Acting Like A Child
12 Mama Talk to Your Daughter

In Poland he didn't played "Hideaway", "California" and two encores: we had "The Bear", "All Your Love" (originally by Otis Rush), "Playing with a Losing Hand", and some more instead. The song list may be not impressive but Mayall's band was really jamming and most of them were about 7 minutes long.

I can recommend his shows to any blues fans, he won't let you down. And his new CD's ain't bad either.

20 June 2010

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Mojo

When a guy who haven't ever played the blues tries to record a classic blues album one's gotta beware. I don't need Tom Petty to be another Muddy Waters, I will take his new album, Mojo, as it comes. I liked his previous effort no matter how it was labeled (pop-rock actually). So, the first song is running at the moment. "Jefferson Jericho Blues", mhm. Good old whiny, whitey voice of Petty is adorable. Not bluesy, not at all, but it's okay - he sounds like he just couldn't give a damn no matter how hard he'd try and I like it. Slide guitar driving the mediocre song and wham, next one.

This one's longer, taking off with long, interesting coda. "First Flash Of Freedom". It strikes me how well it's produced. Really, I feel like the band is in my room. Even if the sound of the guitars isn't the one I'm dreaming of, it's enjoyable. And it's not the blues as I know it. Not only it's not dirty, it's crystal clear. Somebody said it's reminiscent of the Allman Brothers Band and this is the description for me that I have to laugh about, ABB were the masters of sound. This is waaaaay weaker. But still, it's listenable. Enjoyable. And it has something of that jammy feel.

"Running Man's Bible" is another boring composition played in a nice way. Quite funky, actually. This looks to me as an album that would please Tom Petty's and contemporary blues fans alike. I'm not anyone that would feel connected to any of these groups. Even though I click the "next" button, I like it. Even though I'm happy I didn't spend ten bucks on Mojo, I like it.

"Candy" is the first song I really like. And 4th I've already listened - I have to skip the one called "The Trip to Pirate's Cove". I just can't listen to a song with a name like that. But "Candy" is superb. It's gotta a nice groove to it and a very relaxed feel. OK, 9 songs to go now.

This review sucks and I'm rather out of my mind sitting here listening to this music. A cheap imitation of the real blues, yeah. But Petty wanted to do album like that and he played it well. There's something in it that I like. This is like a girl that isn't particularly pretty but you feel like you just need to lay her anyway. "I Should Have Known It" is a natural single and now I think it would really work in a live setting. A small club and ouch... I can easily imagine myself in the crowd.

Petty wrote all of the songs on the album. I'd love to hear some covers. But it's okay. It's 3.5/5 on my RYM. It's an hour I've just wasted. It's good it was released. It's good there are still guys like Tom, who have nothing to prove and yet they try to have fun. But anyway... this morning I've listened to Blues From Laurel Canyon, Mayall's best work, and Mojo's nothing compared to that.

And when I come to think about it... Don't let anybody tell you it's a blues work. It's obviously not. An album on which every second is thought ten times over, every chord is perfectly chosen and every emotion labelled and classified just can't rock the way Petty wants to.

19 June 2010

"Blues for the lost days"...

Yesterday I attended a wonderful, stunning John Mayall's show in Warsaw. Two hours of blues played live was what I needed. ;) Reminded me that the music is to be played live and CDs are only a small part of the fun. I wrote a lengthy review on my Last.fm already (in Polish) and in some time I'll review it here, but for now I've got to give my mind a rest. ;)

In two weeks time I'm attending Warsaw Summer Jazz Days, a glorious festival. I wanted to go and see Pearl Jam but I can't, dates collide. But in the meantime...

Recently I got so much into the Allman Brothers Band that I can't resist listening to 20-minute version of "Dreams" twice a day. The things that Duane plays are indescribable. ;) Yesterday I was going back home at about midnight with "Whipping Post" rambling through my headphones...

The Derek Trucks Band is releasing a new live double album called "Roadsongs". I'm listening now to their previous studio album and I start to like it. Good time music, actually. I'll wait for the new album.

And I'm still waiting for some free time to review Tom Petty's "Mojo". And Steve Miller's "Bingo". I don't like him but his comments seem very wise (and kinda brave), see them on IORR.

14 June 2010

Sunnyland Slim - Slim's Got His Thing Goin' On

This is the good old stuff mixed with modern blues musicians. Recorded in '68 by Sunnyland Slim, a talented pianist straight from the delta, with George Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Luther Allison, Shakey Jake, Al Wilson, Henry Vestine, Larry Taylor, Luther Allison and, most important, Mick Taylor of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers fame. Taylor plays on "You Used to Love Me", "My Past Life", "She's Got A Thing Goin' On" and "Substitute Woman". That's a shame he isn't featured on entire disc! Young British guitarist who was soon to join the Rolling Stones plays with confidence and respect to older bluesmen.

Slim's piano and voice are good. So are compositions, all of them but Elmore James' "Dust My Broom" credited to Albert Laundrew, which is the real name of Sunnyland Slim. Don't let that fool you, though... After the first chords of "Goin' Back to Memphis" you realize it's "Rollin' & Tumblin'" but under a different name. So is the case with most of the stuff here: it's all the usual hooks played by black blues musicians in the delta. "Slim's Got His Thing Goin' On" may be classic, but it's not ordinary. More, it's totally unique. The blend of electric guitars, harmonicas and pianos is wonderful, production just rocks. It's quite clear for a record like that!

My favorite song must be "Everytime We Get to Drinkin'". ;) But it's hard to tell, really, they are all the same. Slower and faster, all of them have a special kind of charm reserved for original Mississippi wailers. Get this disk and play it loud! It's... inspirational. ;)

13 June 2010

Bonus tracks from Valleys Of Neptune

Well I craved for these two bonus tracks that were sold only at US Target shops (lame!) and tried to find them everywhere. I was right, they are quite cool. Another poster here on Blogger posted them some time ago so now I kindly repost them, get the stuff here. Quality versions of "Slow Version" and "Trash Man" rock, clocking together at about 12 minutes. Both songs were recorded in 1969.

Cool, isn't he? ;-)

12 June 2010

News from Ronnie Wood, the Faces & Tom Petty

There are many new exciting releases I'm waiting for now... First of all, Ronnie Wood's new album called Feel Like Playing. Dirty rock and roll, booze and blues the way I like it. We already can hear two songs off the album, look here. I totally loved Ronnie's first solo album (called I've Got My Own Album to Do) and every next one had some of its charm.

Speaking of Ronnie Wood, his band from the early 70s, the Faces, is reuniting. Without Rod Stewart, replacing him with Mick Hucknall of Simply Red fame. There's a lot of bad press on Mick Hucknall and his singing with the Faces caused a lot of controversy, but I don't mind him really. He even recorded a mediocre blues album called Tribute to Bobby, which was recorded for Bobby Bland. Hucknall can sing and did well on the previous Faces reunion and now I hope they're gonna play some more dates and some bootlegs are going to show up. In their days they were playing the best party-time rock and roll on the planet - except for the Stones.

Tom Petty - a good artist but as far from the blues as one can get - released a new album full of, as he described it, "dirty blues", drawing many references to the Allman Brothers Band. In a deep blues fasion it's called Mojo. ;) Here's one of the singles on YouTube. Funny to see comments below that "it's one of the best blues tunes ever made"... Well, certainly not funny, okay. The track is as unoriginal as it can be. Another one's better. It's good popular artist are interested in the blues, the results sometimes are really frightening, though. ;)

10 June 2010

Howlin' Wolf birthday!

Howlin' Wolf was born 100 years ago, on 10th June 1910 in - of course - Mississippi, USA. He was one of the most influential figures in Chicago blues and one of the most important artists that recorded for Chess Records. Furthermore, he was big and bad. He popularized many blues standards, from "Spoonful" to "Smokestack Lightnin'" that remain favorites to this day.

Many blues purists overlook this album - well, even if it's not the classic 50s blues that Howlin' Wolf played, it's a very fine LP. The Wolf with his long-time collaborator Hubert Sumlin, the Rolling Stones' rhythm section, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood: The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions. Recorded in his latter days, it'll give you a cool glimpse of what's it all about.

06 June 2010

Cocksucker Blues

Such a nice title: well, "Cocksucker Blues" was a song the Rolling Stones composed in 1970 to anger Decca, their record company. They succeeded. Musically a nice blues with only Mick on vocals and Keith on acoustic guitar, lyrically a masterpiece: a tale of a lonesome gay arriving in new city blah blah blah. :)

Two years later the Stones asked Robert Frank to make a documentary about their tour of America in 1972 to accompany the release of Exile On Main Street album. It was real: black & white image of rock and roll stars, drugs, sex, violence and the dark side of being cool. Despite that, I loved the film. Particular scenes were just epic no matter how sad the final conclusions turn to be.

Cocksucker Blues is banned from screening but you can easily find a bootleg copy, now it's everywhere. But before, two good reviews: at Times Online and random private website.

24 May 2010

Bob Dylan's birthday

Happy birthday to Bob Dylan :) He's turning 69 today. Well that's quite something :) I still listen to his first album from time to time. Bob released it in March 1961. Where would we be without his music today?

Probably one of the most important artists in my life. It's a good day to watch I'm Not There - beautiful movie.