Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stanley Cowell - "New World" (1981)

Hello everyone, I'm back after four months, and hope you'll all still come and visit here.

Stanley Cowell's "New World" - recorded in 1978, and released three years later - represents something of a transitional album for the pianist who co-founded the Strata-East record label with Charles Tolliver.

Cowell's instrumentation had always been about finding the right combination of instruments to create the right textures for particular compositions, whether his own or others. From the moment he burst out in 1969 with "Blues For The Viet Cong" (aka "Travelling Man") and then "Brilliant Circles" , he would embroider a piano trio base with a range of instruments - brass, winds, voices, vibes, strings - to find the instrumental palette to realise each musical vision; the roles of each instrument freely changing between lead and support; the tonalities veering between modal and the avant-garde as suited.

"Brilliant Circles", in particular, reflects the range of influences the pre-solo career Cowell had picked up as a sideman on various albums by Marion Brown, Max Roach and Bobby Hutcherson.

Cowell himself would move between (mainly) acoustic piano, rhodes and sometimes the african kalimba (or "thumb piano"). Some tracks featuring his kalimba have been heavily sampled over the years, notably several of his recordings of his track "Travelling Man" as well as "Smilin' Billy Suite" from the Heath Brothers' "Marchin' On" (1976)

Throughout the 1970s, Cowell would move back and forth between more intimate, piano-led sessions like the beautiful "Illusion Suite" (1972); the solo piano album "Musa Ancestral Streams" (1973) and the electric-acoustic solo album "Waiting for the Moment" (1977); and at other times would venture once again into larger instrumental electric/acoustic groupings on albums like "Regeneration" (1975) and the commercial RnB/jazz album "Talkin About Love" (1977).

In November 1978, Cowell indulged both sides of his musical personality by recording two albums. In the last few days of that month he recorded "Equipoise", a great trio album with Cecil McBee and Roy Haynes; but earlier in the month he recorded a larger group work, "New World" which I'm presenting today.

"Come Sunday" opens with solo piano, before church bells herald the entrance of a full vocal section ( Judy Lacey, Linda Mandolph, Robert Mandolph). Kenneth Nash's percussion enhances the trio of Cowell, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Roy Haynes; with Nate Rubin and Terry Adam's strings enhancing the melodic lines of Cowell's piano.

The gospel-flavoured "Ask Him" features Cowell on both rhodes and piano, with the vocal chorus alternating words and chord backing, and Headhunters Eddie Henderson and Julian Priester contributing brass.

From gospel we move to calypso in the album's dud track, "Island of Haitoo", which not even Cowell's kalimba can save from a fate of bad-travelogue-library resort music. It really needs a video of a cartoon sun going up and down on a blue cellophane ocean .... hmmm move on ...

Up next is a new version of "Trying to Find a Way", first recorded by Cowell on "Regeneration" - he's commonly revisited the same songs across various albums, placing them in new configurations and styles. It's a fairly exuberant version, with the trio backed by full vocal chorus and strings, and features a bass solo by McBee. I do miss Cowell's synth and the vocals by Charles Fowkles and Glenda Barnes from the original, but it's still a good version - almost Steve Reich-ish in the vocal arrangements.

"El Space O" is the standout track, with Priester's growling trombone locking in with McBee's bass to create a platform for Cowell's extraordinary rhodes and prepared piano work, with a subtle wah-wah allowing the keyboards to wind in and out of answering melodies provided by Priester and Henderson. The brass build up in modal chords behind a honking sax solo by Pat Patrick, before embarking on Mwandishi-like wails that lead back to the main melody. A great piece.

The album finishes with the solo piano track "Sienna : Welcome to this New World", and reminds me that I can happily listen to Cowell play the piano anywhere, any time and in any context. "New World" was the last time that Cowell would work with such a broad ensemble of musicians - after this most of his work would focus on the piano.

Hope you enjoy this album, bring on the comments so I know it's worth getting this blogging thing going again :)

--> 01. 'Come Sunday' - 8:39 (Duke Ellington)
02. 'Ask Him' - 4:46 (Cowell-McBee)
03. 'Island Of Haitoo' - 4:14 (Cowell-Scott)
04. 'I'm Trying To Find A Way' - 7:27 (Cowell-McLaughlin)
05. 'El Space-O' - 8:20 (Cowell-McBee-Haynes)
06. 'Sienna: Welcome To This New World' - 2:43 (Stanley Cowell)

--> Piano, electric piano, prepared pianos, kalimba, hammond organ, orchestra chimes, occasional backing vocals - Stanley Cowell
Bass - Cecil McBee Drums - Roy Haynes Percussion - Kenneth Nash Alto, Tenor and Bass Trombones - Julian Priester Trumpet, Electric Trumpet, Flugelhorn - Eddie Henderson Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone - Pat Patrick Cello - Terry Adams Violin - Nate Rubin Vocals - Judy Lacey , Linda Mandolph , Robert Mandolph

Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, November 1978
Arranged and Conducted by Stanley Cowell
- Ed Michel Engineer - Baker Bigsby
Assistant - Wally Buck
Mastering - George Horn
Art Direction and Design - Phil Carroll
Photography - Phil Bray

Other albums linked to in this post are at Orgy In Rhythm, Musica en Enspiral, Strata-East Fan Club, El Goog Ja, Pharoah's Dance, Nothing Is V2.0, The Changing Same, My Jazz World, Muzikholic.
Please thank these folks if you visit them and download - your "thankyou" makes bloggers realise that people are there, and then they post more ...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Elvin Jones - "Summit Meeting" (1976)

To complete our series of Elvin Jones albums on Vanguard Records, reader Luis has kindly donated a vinyl rip of "Summit Meeting" from 1976.

This comes the year after "New Agenda" in Jones' Vanguard chronology, recorded a few months after "The Main Force"; and the year before "Time Capsule".

As the title suggests, this is more of a group album, and is listed in some places as such. It's generally a little more straight-ahead that the albums that preceded it and followed it - Jones is deferring to trumpeter Clark Terry and saxaphonist James Moody, neither of whom he had played with before.

The fusion touches of "The Main Force" are nowhere to be seen - guitarist Roland Prince has a more laid-back, supportive role than Ryo Kawasaki from the former album. Keyboards are provided by Albert Dailey - his rhodes work is as solid as ever - not working with the onboard FX, but more working in a blues-based piano style, while still mindful of the electric instrument's tonality.

Mostly, the tracks are a showcase for solos by Moody, Terry and altoist Bunky Green, who would come to the fore in "Time Capsule" the year after. Producer Ed Bland's composition "Moody Magic" is the closest track to the more organised and composed structures that would follow on that album. The other standout for me here is Bunky Green's "Blues for Clark", with great solos by Dailey, Terry and Green. Check previews of both of these tracks at the top of the post.

Hope you enjoy this one! Please thank Luis for the rip.


01. 'Tee Pee Music' - (Clark Terry) - 8.09
02. 'Blues for Clark' - (Bunky Green) - 5.59
03. 'Moody Magic' - (Ed Bland) - 6.11
04. 'Summit Song' - (Bunky Green) - 10.13
05. 'Jones' - (Pauline Reddon-Duke Ellington) - 9.54


Elvin Jones - drums
Clark Terry - trumpet and flugelhorn
James Moody - tenor sax
Bunky Green - alto sax
Roland Prince - guitar
Albert Dailey - electric piano, piano
Angel Allende - percussion
David Williams - bass


Vanguard Records VSD 79390
Recorded NYC November 18th, 1976
Produced by Ed Bland
Recording Engineers - Charlie Repka, Jeff Zaraya
Mixer - David Baker
Design - Jules Halfant
Photograph - Joel Brodsky

OTHER ELVIN JONES at this blog :

1975 "New Agenda"
1976 "The Main Force"
1977 "Time Capsule"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Nytro" (1977) / "Return to Nytropolis" (1979)

I originally had this post as a re-direct to Baby Grandpa's blog - he did some great new rips of the two funky albums by Nytro, produced by Norman Whitfield in 1977 and 1979, and asked me to write a post for it.

Well that post is gone now,  and I have no idea what I wrote, but here are the rips  :


Some details :

Nytro - 'Nytro' (1977) 


A1Atomic Funk
Written-By – LaMorris PayneRobert Justice, Jr.*
Written-By – Benjamin WilberLa Morris Payne*
A3Foolin' Around
Written-By – Earnest Reed, Jr.*
A4What It Is
Written-By – Earnest Reed, Jr.*
B1Where's The Party
Written-By – LaMorris Payne
Written-By – C. Powell*, E. Reed, Jr.*
B3Give Me One More Chance
Written-By – Nytro
B4Trick Bag
Written-By – E. Reed, Jr.*



Recorded at Sound Factory West Studio 
Mixed at Village Recorders, Warner Bros Recording Studios, Burbank Studio, Sound Factory West 

Nytro - 'Return To Nytropolis' (1979) 


A1Nytro Express
Drums – James GadsonGuitar – Trey StoneWritten-By – Norman Whitfield
A2Return To Nytropolis
Written-By – Norman Whitfield
A3Could This Be The Night
Written-By – Ronald A. Smith
A4High On Disco
Guitar – Trey StoneWritten-By – Norman Whitfield
B1People Of The Country
Harmonica – Mark EngelWritten-By – Earnest Reed, Jr.*
B2Make It
Written-By – LaMorris Payne
B3I've Paid My Dues
Written-By – Kenneth Scott
B4Orbit Of The Sun
Written-By – Earnest Reed, Jr.*

Companies etc



Recorded and mixed at Fort Knox Recording Studio, Los Angeles 

Naturally, these have been added to the Whitfield discography here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Elvin Jones - "Time Capsule" (1977)


Elvin Jones' final album for the Vanguard label in 1977 was his most melodic and "produced" album from the period. His trademark fiery style is slightly reigned in within these highly arranged and produced tracks, which delve further into group-based jazz-funk fusion - quite different from the looser, post-electric Miles jamming which infused the previous year's "The Main Force", which I posted yesterday.

That said, there's some great playing and textures on "Time Capsule", with ample solo space offered and taken with gusto within these tighter structures. After this album, Jones would return to more 'traditional' post-bop territory and acoustic instrumentation with his newly-named "Jazz Machine" on 1978's "Remembrance" for the MPS label.

Guitarist Ryo Kawasaki and percussionist Angel Allende return from the previous album. Whereas Kawasaki's electric edge somewhat stood out on "The Main Force", here it has become something of the norm. Once again he holds composition credits for the opening track : "Frost Bite".

With the reeds players working more in unison melodies, and Kawasaki contributing single lines and wah-chops, Kenny Barron's fender rhodes holds much of the harmonic background for the album. He had appeared on one track of 1975's "New Agenda", but here he's a strong presence throughout.

Barron's solo work is great on tracks like "Time Capsule", "Spacing". and my personal standout track "Moon Dance" (see preview at top of post). The album catches Barron in his peak period as a rhodes player, coming after his albums "Sunset to Dawn", "Peruvian Blue" and "Lucifer" ; and just before "Innocence", after which he would mainly return to acoustic piano. So one more for the Kenny on electric piano discography.

Only Frank Foster remains from the previous album's reeds lineup, here just contributing his soprano sax to Ed Bland's track "Digital Display".

Drummer alert! Mark Feldman has transcribed some of Elvin's patterns for "Digital Display" over here at "Bang! The Drum School".

The dominant new guest here is alto saxophonist Bunky Green, who composed three of the five tracks here. After a decade-long recording break he had returned earlier in the year with his Vanguard album "Transformations", also produced by Ed Bland. Much of that album borders on proto-"smooth jazz", with highly modal covers of pop hits, but on "Time Capsule" he has a rougher, more interesting edge, perhaps from the company he's keeping here.

Tenor saxophonist George Coleman had played on some of Jones' later Blue Note releases, as well as a few Strata-East releases like Charles Tolliver's "Impact!" ; the Jazz Contemporaries' "Reasons In Tonality" and Keno Duke's "Sense Of Values". In 1977, the same year as this album, he also played on Charles Earland's "Smokin".

At this stage, prolific flautist Frank Wess was straddling both the jazz world and the disco-funk session game - recent credits had included albums as diverse as Sister Sledge's "Circle of Love"; Van McCoy's "Disco Baby"; Oscar Brown's "Brother Where Are You"; Woody Shaw's "Rosewood"; and Crap Jazz Covers' favourite, "Sweet Buns and Barbecue" by Houston Person.

In the few years preceding this album, bass player Juni Booth had worked on Larry Young's "Lawrence Of Newark" ; McCoy Tyner's "Song of the New World" and "Atlantis"; and Joe Bonner's "Angel Eyes" . 2nd bassist Milt Hinton has been described as probably appearing "on more records than any other musician", so feel free to peruse his thirteen pages of credits.

Hoping you enjoy this one folks!


01. 'Frost Bite' - 7:53 - (Ryo Kawasaki)
02. 'Digital Display' - 7:31 - (Ed Bland)
03. 'Moon Dance' - 6:20 - (Bunky Green)
04. 'Time Capsule' - 8:07 - (Bunky Green)
05. 'Spacing' - 10:35 - (Bunky Green) 


Drums - Elvin Jones
Bass - Milt Hinton (1-2), Juni Booth (3-5)
Electric Piano - Kenny Barron
Flute - Frank Wess (1-2)
Guitar - Ryo Kawasaki
Percussion - Angel Allende
Alto Saxophone - Bunky Green
Soprano Saxophone - Frank Foster (2)
Tenor Saxophone - George Coleman (1, 3-5) 


Vanguard Records, 1977
VSD 79389
Producer - Ed Bland
Mixed By - David Baker
Engineer - Charlie Repka , Jeff Zaraya
Photography - Joel Brodsky
Design - Jules Halfant
Montage - Hy Radin 

OTHER ELVIN JONES at this blog :

1975 "New Agenda"
1976 "The Main Force"
1976 "Summit Meeting"


Rip from deleted Vanguard CD re-release by

Other albums linked in this post are at the blogs : Ile Oxumare, Strata-East Fan Club; Magic Purple Sunshine, Nine Sisters, Orgy In Rhythm, My Jazz World, Everything Is On The one, Pharoah's Dance, Raider of the Lost Ark, Jamz for the Soul, Mientras Otros Duermen, My Favourite Sound, Marramua, and Musica Y Programas.
Please thank these people if you visit them.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Elvin Jones - "The Main Force" (1976)

A year along from "New Agenda", Elvin Jones and his group are in a jamming mode, working over looser structures with improvisational groupings amongst the reeds and percussion, with plenty of solo space as well. "The Main Force" is a more african-focused event with early fusion touches, ripped freshly from vinyl and presented here today in WAV and MP3.
Sometimes it sounds like they're all auditioning for Miles Davis' mid-70s live band, none so more than guitarist Ryo Kawasaki, who's coming off Gil Evans' "Music of Jimi Hendrix" and "There Comes a Time" albums, and here keeps his foot planted firmly on the wah-wah pedal, still a year away from smoothing things out considerably on his solo album "Juice". Kawasaki's track "Salty Iron" opens the album.

There are no less than four reeds players here; with Frank Foster and Steve Grossman joined this time round by Dave Liebman (who along with Grossman, of course, had successfully auditioned for the Davis band), and Pat La Barbara, who'd been working with Buddy Rich for the previous decade on albums like "Roar of '74" and "Stick It". La Barbara would continue as a central player for Jones for several years after this.

The woodwinds wind around each other in afro-style coils pushing eastwards on the sprawling fifteen-minute jam "Song of Rejoicing after returning from a hunt", which closes the album. The track is adapted by Jones from the djoboko rhythm of the Ba-Benzele pygmies; and arranged by Gene Perla. Perla doesn't play on this album, but would go on to form Stone Alliance the next year with Grossman and Liebman.

Or, as Todd Barkan writes in his hysterical liner notes :

"Here we are taken on a liferaft shooting the rapids of Elvin's bloodstream. A stream of consciousness hurtling us through lush, green river valleys into dens, electric jungles, and out onto sun-yellowed plains - flowing all the way back to the blood of his African ancestors."

I'll take two of whatever Todd's on, then chase them with a few margaritas.

Elvin Jones gets to break out with his signature thunder rolls on Gene Perla's "Sweet Mama", built around some wild impro from bassist Dave Williams. Williams had played on the first Blackbyrds album and Kenny Barron's "Peruvian Blue", then worked again with Elvin Jones the next year on Hadley Caliman's "Celebration". His composition here is "Mini Modes" - see the preview at the top of the post.

Producer Ed Bland contributes the modal "Philomene", and the man holding down the rhodes (and occasional piano) is Albert Dailey, fresh off Azar Lawrence's "Summer Solstice" and soon to record on Reggie Workman's "Conversation".

Jones confines himself to one percussionist at a time on this album. Angel Allende had built up an impressive track record in the years preceding this album - Mongo Santamaria's "Mongo '70"; Idris Muhammad's "Black Rhythm Revolution" and "Peace & Rhythm"; Lonnie Liston Smith's "Visions of a New World"; and Sonny Fortune's "Awakening"; "Long Before Our Mothers Cried" and "Waves Of Dreams". Allende gets a good workout with Jones on the aforementioned "Song of Rejoicing ... ".

The other percussionist, and the other Dave, is Dave Johnson. Imagine naming your child 'Dave Johnson', destined to be lost amongst forty-eight other 'Dave Johnsons' at the All Music Guide. Child abuse, pure and simple. Sensibly, this particular Dave took on the name Mguanda in the early 1970s, and appeared on both Bayete's classic "Worlds Around the Sun" and Horacee Arnold's "Tales of the Exonerated Flea".

Hope you all enjoy this further slice of Elvin.


01. 'Salty Iron' - 5:15 - (Ryo Kawasaki)

02. 'Sweet Mama'
- 6:22 - (Gene Perla)

03. 'Mini Modes'
- 10:32 - (David Williams)

04. 'Philomene'
- 4:38 - (Ed Bland)

05. 'Song Of Rejoicing After Returning From A Hunt'
- 15:43
Adapted by Elvin Jones from the Djoboko Rhythm of the Ba-Benzele Pygmies; arranged by Gene Perla.


Drums - Elvin Jones
Bass - Dave Williams
Guitar - Ryo Kawasaki
Keyboards - Albert Dailey
Percussion - Angel Allende (3-5), Dave Johnson (1-2)
Reeds - Dave Liebman (1-2) , Frank Foster (3-5) , Pat LaBarbera , Steve Grossman (2-5)


Vanguard Records
VSD 79272
Producer - Ed Bland
Recording Engineer, editing and mixing - Ben Taylor
Cover photos - Joel Brodsky, Frank Kolleogy
Design - Rafael Rovira

ALSO BY ELVIN JONES at this blog :
"New Agenda" (1975)
"Summit Meeting" (1976)
"Time Capsule" (1977)


Vinyl rip and scans by Simon666

Other albums linked to in this post are at the blogs Ile Oxumaré, Regaláme Esta Noche, JJ's Jazz and Such, Music You Don't Care About, My Jazz World, Pharoah's Dance, Flabbergasted Vibes, Happy as a rat in a Cheese Factory, Into the Rhythm, and DJ Ulison Professor Groove. Please thank these folks when you visit them - comments keep music blogs alive.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Elvin Jones - "New Agenda" (1975)


Regarded as one of the world's greatest drummers, with his alternately thunderous and light-skipping percussive styles, Elvin Jones will always be remembered as Coltrane's drummer from the 1960-66 period, but also has an interesting output as a leader in his own right.

His Impulse and Blue Note albums straddled both avant-garde and post-bop influences, always allowing plenty of space for his collaborators, and by the 1970s, albums like Merry Go Round were beginning to annoy purists like l'il Scotty Yanow in their eclectic grab-bag that began to explore influences like latin and brazilian styles.

He continued to explore all corners of jazz in when he moved across to Vanguard Records in 1975, in a group of albums that I'm going to present in a series of posts. I didn't have this one, so my friend WK stepped forward with a nice 320 vinyl rip.

"New Agenda" was his first release for the new company in 1975. There's a pretty heavyweight reeds section behind him here - mainstay Steve Grossman with help on different tracks from Azar Lawrence, Joe Farrell and Frank Foster. That's how many winds players you need to compete with Jones' snare drum.

As if the power of his kit wasn't enough, on this album he brings in three percussionists - Candido, Guillermo Franco and Frank Ippolito, but this doesn't result in the bombastic chaos you might expect - rather, Jones works with them in a cohesive unit, often exploring subtle cymbal work to complete the percussive textures; and really letting them have their heads on the closer "Agenda".

No review for this album on AMG, presumably because it contains the dreaded, jazz-destroying electric piano, adroitly handled here by Kenny Barron on the opening soul-jazzer "Someone's Rocking My Jazzboat" ; and by Gene Perla on the aforementioned "Agenda" and "Stefanie" (penned by producer Ed Bland and later recorded by James Moody, see file within his discography here ). Anyway, Barron's presence gets this added to the Kenny on electric piano discography.

The pianoless tracks are anchored harmonically by guitarist Roland Prince, a veteran of many fine early 70s albums like Buddy Terry's "Awareness", Larry Willis' "Inner Crisis"; Shirley Scott's "Lean On Me"; Roy Haynes' "Senyah", Pete Yellin's "It's the Right Thing" and Compost's "Life Is Round". Here he's got a restrained style that on tracks like "Haresah" that almost mimics the tonality of Barron's and Perla's rhodes on other tracks.

Hope you enjoy this one!


01 'Someone's Rocking My Jazzboat' - 6:49 - (Foster)
02 'Naima' - 6:10 - (Coltrane)
03 'Haresah' - 8:09 - (Grossman)
04 'Anti-Calypso' - 5:18 - (Prince)
05 'Stefanie' - 4:39 - (Bland)
06 'My Lover' - 3:36 - (Hito)
07 'Agenda' - 7:55 - (Jones)


Drums - Elvin Jones
Bass - Dave Williams
Guitar - Roland Prince
Percussion - Candido (5,7) , Frank Ippolito (1,2,4,5,7) , Guillermo Franco (3,4)
Piano - Gene Perla (5,7) , Kenny Barron (1)
Reeds - Azar Lawrence (3,4) , Frank Foster (1,2,5) , Steve Grossman
Saxophone - Joe Farrell (5,7)


Producer - Ed Bland
Engineer, Mixed By - David Baker
Mixed By - John Kilgore

ALSO BY ELVIN JONES at this blog :
"The Main Force" (1976)
"Summit Meeting" (1976)
"Time Capsule" (1977)


Vinyl rip @ 320 donated by WK (thanks!)

Other album links in this post go to Orgy In Rhythm, Office Naps, My Jazz World, the Shad Shack, and Oufar Khan.Please thank these folks if you visit them and download their albums, commenting keeps music blogs alive and well.