Tag Archives: Jazz

Steve Lacy – Bop, Free Jazz and Avant Garde Prog

Steven Norman Lackritz was born in New York City back in 1934. He is best known to be the first to specialize on soprano saxophone in modern Jazz, but he was also a very diverse saxophonist, from interpreting the classics masters especially Thelonious Monk, to free Jazz, avant-garde and even progressive jazz rock.

Steve Lacy playing Monk’s “Played Twice”

Starting his career playing Dixieland with various musicians from 1952-55, by the 2nd half of the 50’s he moved into more modern styles and playing with giants like free Jazz pioneer Cecil Taylor , Gil Evans, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

From Steve Lacy Sortie 1966, this was Steve Lacy’s sixth album, the first based only on his own compositions and his first take on free jazz as a band leader.

 

Steve Lacy appears on Italian band Area’s fourth studio album maledetti, the album is a mystic journey of styles and moods in the more avant-garde division of progressive rock, but also inspired by free/experimental Jazz.

Lacy on Area’s “maledetti” (1976)

 

 

A Liquid Fusion from the Adriatic Sea.

After Miles was opening the door between Jazz and Rock with Filles de Kilimanjaro (68), In a Silent Way (69) and especially with Bitches Brew (70), there was a lot of good creative bands playing a great fusions of Jazz and Rock throughout the 70’s.

One of these Groups was Italian Agora from Ancona area at the Adriatic side of central Italy, Their first studio album (1976) was called Angora´2 based on the fact that they had already released a live album from Montreux international jazz festival.

 

Agora is a relative unknown band (outside the absolute inner fussion circle), playing a style that is not ground breaking, the similarities to the big Jazz/Rock fusion legends is very evident, but to me it is still a nice album with some very fine fusion. Especially the woodwind instruments works very well for me on this album.

 

Hawkins Encounters Webster

Jazz can be many things, and do many things to me as a listener. Today I have fund an example of Jazz as a Zen moment, filled with true beauty. When I listen to these tracks from   “Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster”, every stressful thought leaves me and I am filled with ease. My thought go back to late night / early mornings, wandering empty streets on my way home from great nights.

Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster is studio album recorded in 1957, on the Verve label. The band was :

Coleman Hawkins – tenor saxophone, Ben Webster – tenor saxophone, Oscar Peterson – piano, Herb Ellis – guitar, Ray Brown – double bass, Alvin Stoller – drums.

In the United Kingdom, the album was released with the title Blue Saxophones.

Hawkins was born in Missouri 1904, active from the early 1920’s to 1967. He was one of the first prominent Jazz musicians to play the tenor saxophone, and have been a major influence on many tenor saxophonists. Hawkins has played with a lot of famous Jazz musicians, far too many to mention here.

 

 

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, what jazz is all about

So much is to be said about Rahsaan Roland Kirk, his immensely creativity, his unique techniques, his ability as a multi-instrumentalist, his amassing solo improvisations, and his ability to perform within a wide range of Jazz styles. I urge everyone interested in his talents to search more, there is so much more to Kirk, than what I can cover here.

Roland Kirk with McCoy Tyner and Stanley Clarke

Kirk was able to play several instruments it the same time, and developed a breathing technique making him able to play notes for a long period of time without pause.
Kirk played a wide range of saxophones often modified, clarinets, flutes, harmonica, English horn, recorders and trumpets. He additionally used many non-musical devices and tape-manipulated electronics sounds, long before they became common practice.

Serenade To A Cuckoo (covered by Jethro Tull, on This Was 1968)

The extravaganza of his stage appearance, although extremely talented may have come in the way of his recognition as a true master of Jazz, due to it being too spectacular for the serious jazz critics and audience at the time, but I don’t mind his inventive approach to music, or his political idea’s, I think he sounds just great and that all that matters to me.
Mingus said “This man is what jazz is all about”, Kirk died in 1977 after a stroke, 42 years old.

Dedicated To You, But You Weren’t Listening

Keith Tippett is one of the great pianists of the British free jazz scene, for decades he has formed various groups creating brilliant jazz improvisations.

On his 1971 album “Dedicated To You, But You Weren’t Listening” credited to “The Keith Tippett Group” We have got an impressive avant-garde jazz, dissonance and swinging, wild and energetic sometimes chaotic, a unique and different take on Jazz Fusion.

The album Title, was taken from a track title on Soft Machine: Volumes Two (1969), and several of “The Keith Tippett Group” members, was also involved in “Soft Machine”, Elton Dean and Nick Evans joined Soft Machine from their 1970 album “Third”, Roy Babbington and Mark Charig from “Fourth” (1971).
Also original Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt, was playing on “Dedicated To You, But You Weren’t Listening”. But where Soft Machine’s output at the time, was clearly rooted in “Progressive Rock” although increasingly Jazz inspired, Keith Tippett’s work is mainly rooted in Jazz.

Members of The Keith Tippett Group, was also involved in the King Crimson albums released in the period. Tippett was involved in “In the Wake of Poseidon” (1970), he added a Jazz feel to Crimsons symphonic Rock, and notably playing a stunning solo on “Cat Food”. Keith Tippett, Mark Charig and Nick Evans played on “Lizard” (1970), Keith Tippett and Mark Charig was guests on “Islands” (1971).

The Circle Maker

In a wonderful combination of Jazz, World and Chamber music, John Zorn have on this album, taken the music of his Hebrew background, using traditional Jewish melodies and scales from the Hebrew folk tradition, and arranged them for a modern Jazz/Chamber setting.

Even though Zorn is saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist himself, on this album, he is composer and producer only. First half of the project called “Issachar”, performed by a trio of Violin – Cello – Bass. The second half called “Zevulun” performed with the addition of Guitar – Percussion – Drums.

Zorn (born September 2, 1953) usually known as an American avant-garde composer, working with almost any kind of experimental music since the mid 70’s, trying to expand on the borders and eliminate the limits of music.
This album from his “Masada” project, traditional in its origin, seems very calm and soft, Zorn said about the hundreds of songs he has written in this tradition : “The project for Masada was to create something positive in the Jewish tradition something that maybe takes the idea of Jewish music into the 21st century”

The musicians on the project was :
Mark Feldman: Violin – Erik Friedlander: Cello – Greg Cohen: Bass
Marc Ribot: Guitar – Cyro Baptista: Percussion – Joey Baron: Drums

Blakey – Drumming in the heart of Hard Bop

Hard bop developed in the mid-1950 and is most often credited to The Jazz Messengers, led by pianist Horace Silver and drummer Art Blakey. The first recording of Hard Bop, was “A Night at Birdland”, issued as Art Blakey Quintet, the same band that would soon be renamed The Jazz Messengers.

Art Blakey Quintet – A Night at Birdland – Blues (released 1954)
Art Blakey (drums), Lou Donaldson (alto saxophone), Clifford Brown (trumpet), Horace Silver (piano),Curly Russell (bass)

Silver left The Jazz Messengers to form his own band, Art Blakey became the leader of The Jazz Messengers, and recorded under this name with an ever changing group of musicians, many who would later become Jazz legends themselves. Hard bop was an extended form of Bebop, incorporating elements of R&B and Gospel. A highlight from the period is Moanin’ an album recorded in 58, released the following year, featuring amongst others Saxophonist Benny Golson.

The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’- Moanin’ – (Released 1959)
Art Blakey – drums, Lee Morgan – trumpet, Benny Golson – tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons – piano, Jymie Merritt – bass

From 59 to 61 the band features brilliant Jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, who was writing most of the bands material in this period. A series of great albums was recorded, amongst them Caravan, released in 63.

Caravan – Sweet n Sour – Released Feb 1963
Art Blakey – Drums, Wayne Shorter – Tenor Saxophone, Freddie Hubbard – Trumpet, Curtis Fuller – Trombone, Cedar Walton – Piano, Reggie Workman – Bass.

Unbelivable as it may seem, George Wein a well known Jazz Consert arranger, managed to create an all star Bebop tour, with a band called Giants of Jazz, featuring a dream band comprised of Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Kai Winding, Thelonious Monk, Al McKibbon, Art Blakey, all those bandleaders in one Jazz super group. This is a performance from Copenhagen 1971.

The Giants of Jazz – Live in Copenhagen 1971
Art Blakey – drums
Dizzy Gillespie – trumpet
Al McKibbon – double bass
Thelonious Monk – piano
Sonny Stitt – alto and tenor saxophone
Kai Winding – trombone

Gnawa fusion

Majid Bekkas was born in Marocco 1957, He got a classical music training at “Rabat national conservatoire of music and dance” as well as studies in Gnawa culture, the ritual Ganwa music and their traditional instruments. Besides playing traditional instruments Bekkas is also a guitarist and vocalist, during his musical adventures he have played with a string of different musicians from all over the world, and incorporate numerous styles in his music. Bekkas have toured in Europe and played at many international festivals.

The Dragon, The Hird, The Bittersweet Love Song

Yukimi Eleanora Nagano, was born and raised in Sweden, to a Japanese farther and a Swedish-American mother. Since 1996 she have been vocalist in Little Dragons, a band she formed with high school friends, playing downbeat Trip hop, and electronic Pop.
From: Little Dragon – Little Dragon (2007)

On Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach, Yukimi co-wrote and Little Dragon was featured as guest performers on two tracks. Little Dragon was the opening act for Europe and Australia on Gorillaz 2010 tour, and guest performing live on those two tracks.
From : Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (2010)

Yukimi wrote the lyrics and delivered vocals on Swedish house artist Hirds instrumental Keep Your Hird, re-released with vocals as “Keep Your Kimi”, as well as on other tracks from Hird’s “Moving On” album.
From: Hird ‎– Moving On (2004)

Yukimi was also performing vocals on two Koop albums. Koop is a Swedish Jazz, Acid Jazz, Trip-hop duo. There clean and unique sound is recognised as highly innovative in electronic Jazz, delivering a retro Jazz music, in a modern package.
From: Koop – Koop Islands (2006)

Koop’s albums features several guest vocalists, another interesting performance on Kopp’s 2006 album, Koop Island, was Norwegian singer/songwriter and guitarist Ane Brun.
From: Koop – Koop Islands (2006)

Ane Brun have been based in Stockholm, Sweden since 2001, recording seven solo albums. Her style is often Folk inspired, very stripped, focus is on the song and the vocals, often very emotional, reflecting on themes of love, with a mature bittersweet insight.
From: Ane Brun – Rarities (2013)

The song was written for the Film “A Thousand Times Goodnight” that won the Special Grand Prix of the jury at the Montreal Film Festival.

The Wild and beautiful Child – Savage Rose

Savage Rose in my book, is the most interesting band, to ever come out of Denmark, and the vocals performed by Annisette is simply world class. Even though Annisette’s husband Thomas Koppel suddenly past away in 2006, Annisette and Savage Rose, is still active, and a new album will be out in 2014.

From Black Angel 1995

The Savage, was formed in 1967
At the age of 18 Thomas Koppel ‘s wrote a Hans Christian Andersen opera ‘A MOTHER’S TALE’, and became a sensation for it’s dramatic power and professionalism, vocal knowledge, and sophisticated orchestration. A MOTHER’S TALE was performed by THE ROYAL OPERA for two consecutive seasons. During his teens and earliest twenties Thomas Koppel’s musical compositions developed into larger, important orchestral works, performed by major orchestras and soloists. In 1968 at the age of 24 he’s had become so influenced by the “beat” music of the 60’s, that he decided to form the Savage Rose. He was the major force behind the band to his death in 2006.

The original Savage Rose made 6 albums, the last “Dødens Triumf” (triumph of death) an instrumental (with one song) ballet, The ballet, became the biggest success ever of The Royal Ballet – a sell-out over 30 years now, with performances as far as at the The Metropolitan in New York. With more than 250,000 sold, The CD/LP is one of the biggest selling mostly instrumental records ever in Scandinavia. The theme song has newly been re-released in the US by Rhino Records.

From Dødens Triumf (1972)

The original band split up, Savage Rose recorded the gospel/jazz-albummet “Babylon”, with help from Jazz saxophonist Ben Webster. After this they put together yet another Rock band, and recorded Wild Child the last “English” vocals Album, for a long time to come.

From Wild Child 1973

Savage Rose (mainly Thomas & Anisette) had lost interest in the Record Industry. They stil play music, but now free concerts in small communities of Copenhagen, had become their focus, and the song writing was now by Annisette in Danish. From 1978 – 1994 Savage Rose made recordings again, all of them in Danish, and with a much more acoustic sound than before. The Lyrics are increasingly political, as everything else about Savage Rose, actively denying themselves any major income from their art, living in the Slums of Copenhagen, when not touring Europe.

From Savage Rose 1968

In 1995 they sign a contract with Mega Records, and trough contacts in Copenhagen met with George Duke (Yes that GD). Thomas and Annisette moved to Los Angeles, where George produced
Black Angel. Savage Rose had changed a lot, the sound was American Jazz, Soul, Reagge but never the less it was somehow still very much Savage Rose. The record becomes a major hit in Denmark. Putting Savage Rose back up where they were in the early 70’s. I have seen Savage Rose life several times and nothing is as touching and beautiful as Annisette singing.

From Love And Freedom 2012