Easily one of the most important records ever made, John Coltrane's a Love Supreme was his pinnacle studio outing that at once compiled all of his innovations from his past, spoke of his current deep spirituality, and also gave a glimpse into the next two and a half years (sadly, those would be his last). Recorded at the end of 1964, Trane's classic quartet of Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison stepped into the studio and created one of the most thought-provoking, concise, and technically pleasing albums of their bountiful relationship (not to mention his best-selling to date). from the undulatory (and classic) bassline at the intro to the last breathy notes, Trane is at the peak of his logical yet emotionally varied soloing while the rest of the group is remarkably in tune with Coltrane's spiritual vibe. Composed of four parts, each has a thematic progression leading to an understanding of spirituality through meditation.
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
The revolution was recorded: in 1969 Bitches Brew sent a shiver through a country already quaking. It was a recording whose very sound, production methods, album-cover art, and two-LP length all signaled that jazz could never be the same. Over three days anger, confusion, and exhilaration had reigned in the studio, and the sonic themes, scraps, grooves, and sheer will and emotion that resulted were percolated and edited into an astonishingly organic work. This Miles Davis wasn't merely presenting a simple hybrid like jazz-rock, but a new way of thinking about improvisation and the studio. And with this two-CD reissue (actually, this set is a reissue of the original set plus one track, perfect for the fan who's not so overwhelmed as to need the four-CD Complete Bitches Brew box), the murk of the original recording is lifted. The instruments newly defined and brightened, the dark energy of the original comes through as if it were all fresh. Joe Zawinul and Bennie Maupin's roles in the mix have been especially clarified. With a bonus track of "Feio"--a Wayne Shorter composition recorded five months later that serves both as a warm-down for Bitches Brew and a promise of Weather Report to come--this is crucial listening. --John F. Szwed
The Way Up represents, in the words of guitarist Pat Metheny himself, "our most ambitious undertaking ever as a group"-a single, brilliant 68-minute piece composed by Metheny and his collaborator of 28 years, Lyle Mays. Metheny has likened the creation of The Way Up to making a film, and in some respects, the album feels like a vividly rendered journey, its moods shifting like scenes glimpsed from a fast-moving vehicle. For nearly 30 years, guitarist Pat Metheny and his longtime musical cohort, pianist/keyboardist Lyle Mays, have covered an incredible amount of diverse material. On their debut recording for this label, they and their international group--bassist Steve Rodby, Mexican drummer Antonio Sanchez, Vietnamese trumpeter Coung Vu, and the Swiss-born harmonica virtuoso Gregoire Maret--distill that diversity into a continuous 68-minute opus. The challenge here lies in sustaining the melodic narrative thread while keeping the sound of surprise. Thanks to Mays's evocative pianisms and Metheny's array of acoustic, electric, and synthesized guitars, the group pulls it off. For Metheny fans this disc contains elements of his most acclaimed recordings, from the straight-ahead swing of Question and Answer and the folk-fusion of Offramp, to the Afro-Latin tinges of We Live Here, the atonally adventurous Zero Tolerance for Silence, and the Asian impressionism of Secret Story. --Eugene Holley, Jr.
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
No Description Available.Genre: Jazz MusicMedia Format: Compact DiskRating: Release Date: 16-FEB-1999 Mercurial bassist and bandleader Charles Mingus was signed to Columbia Records for the briefest of time during 1959. His Columbia recordings, however, remain some of the most inspired, mood-jumping jazz in history. The flowing sadness of "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" (unedited here for the first time on CD!) rings like a funeral chorus that pitches headlong into a celebration of Lester Young's life and improvising flexibility, rather than his death. And there's the funky furnace blast of "Boogie Stop Shuffle" (also unedited!), which reaches its glory with Booker Ervin's Texas tenor sax, wrapped tight in bluesy tone. With the index of emotions captured, these songs nail why Mingus is possibly the most relevant jazzer for the '90s generation. He swings and shouts and hollers and somersaults. His tunes either induce foot-stomping with their intensity or reach for poignant yearning with their lyrical tapestry of orchestral colors. --Andrew Bartlett
Manufacturer: Verve/ Polygram Records
HADEN CHARLIE / METHENY PAT BEYOND THE MISSOURI SKY This subtle, sublime collaboration finds bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Pat Metheny crafting bejeweled chamber duets that transcend genre. With their shared Missouri lineage as a thematic touchstone, Haden and Metheny forge a lyrical, mostly acoustic style at once intimate and expansive. Both pare their playing to a Zen-like economy, focusing on a purity of tone, clarity of harmony, and counterpoint to achieve a tender lyricism. Metheny's acoustic steel-string and classical guitars predominate, but he also applies discreet overdubs (including some delicate synthesizer and keyboard textures) to sculpt orchestral detail. Haden, as always, is both a generous foil and a deft melodist on his own, moving easily into his instrument's upper register as he twines through Metheny's lines. The set's emotional coherence is particularly satisfying in light of the material, which spans Ennio Morricone ("Cinema Paradiso"), Henry Mancini ("Two for the Road"), Jim Webb ("The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress"), and Roy Acuff ("The Precious Jewel") as well as affecting originals by both leaders. And giving the project a sense of closure, while commenting obliquely on the generational dialogue it represents, is the luminous "Spiritual" (composed by Haden's son, Josh), an instrumental prayer that exemplifies the balance of concision and deep emotion at the heart of this exquisite triumph. --Sam Sutherland
If you set out to create a single anthology that charted all the twists and tributaries of that uniquely American river we call jazz, you couldn't do better than this companion set to the PBS series-94 tracks on 5 CDs licensed from virtually every important label in the history of the music. Includes The Pearls Jelly Roll Morton; Charleston James P. Johnson; West End Blues Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five; The Mooche Duke Ellington; Singin' the Blues Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra featuring Bix Beiderbecke; Moten Swing Benny Moten's Kansas City Orchestra; Strange Fruit Billie Holiday; Three Little Words Art Tatum; Body and Soul Coleman Hawkins; In the Mood Glenn Miller; Take Five Dave Brubeck; So What Miles Davis; Giant Steps John Coltrane; Desafinado Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd, and many more classics. This five-CD box set soundtrack to filmmaker Ken Burns's 10-part, 19-hour documentary Jazz spans nearly a century of jazz styles, from the martial rhythms of James Reese Europe to the soul-jazz of Grover Washington Jr. It includes time-tested classics like Benny Goodman's 1938 classic, "Sing, Sing, Sing"; John Coltrane's chanting 1965 immortal track, "A Love Supreme"; Billie Holiday's blue-ember ballad, "God Bless the Child"; and Ella Fitzgerald peeling off "A-Tisket A-Tasket." Bebop is represented by Charlie Parker's orchestral bop version of "Just Friends"; Thelonious Monk's nocturnal calling card, "'Round Midnight"; and Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts" and "Groovin' High." The jazz-instrumentalist-as-singer comes to life on Coleman Hawkins's "Body and Soul" and Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers' "Doodlin'." Clifford Brown and Max Roach's "I Get a Kick out of You" epitomizes the hard-bop era, while Miles Davis's "So What" stands as the modal masterpiece. The cool school is in session with Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan dishing out "Walkin' Shoes," and the Modern Jazz Quartet's soulful elegy "Django" straddles all the above musical orbits. As for Django Reinhardt, he's featured on "Shine" with the justly famed ...
Another Coltrane landmark, in which he lends his inimitable style to pop standards. This 1960 recording was a landmark album in John Coltrane's career, the first to introduce his quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones and the first release on which he played soprano saxophone. It also provided him with a signature hit, as his new group conception came together wonderfully on the title track. It's an extended modal reworking in 6/4 time that brought the hypnotic pulsating quality of Indian music into jazz for the first time, with Coltrane's soprano wailing over the oscillating piano chords and pulsing drums. The unusual up-tempo version of Gershwin's "Summertime" is a heated example of Coltrane's "sheets of sound" approach to conventional changes, while "But Not for Me" receives a radical harmonic makeover. This is an excellent introduction to Coltrane's work. --Stuart Broomer
What an alliance: a legendary bandleader and composer, a pioneering bop drummer, and an unclassifiable (and often prickly) bass behemoth. It's no wonder that the tension between Duke Ellington, Max Roach, and Charlie Mingus is thick and extremely tangible, permeating this breathtaking 1962 album with passion and aggression. On the jagged blues "Very Special," Ellington establishes a weighty mood while his piano work almost borders on free jazz. Roach's sticks dance and prance across every inch of his kit on "A Little Max"; on "Caravan" he effectively shifts from exotic rhythms to straight time. Duke's harmonic invention is delicate and mysterious on "Fleurette Africaine," but simultaneously jarring and cerebral on the confrontational "Wig Wise." It's hard to believe only three people are creating the stomping, disjointed monster that is the title track. Ellington alone emphasizes the beautiful melodies of the classic ballads "Soltitude" and "Warm Valley," but the edge returns when the rhythm section joins him. Mingus, who actually idolized Ellington, seems to be purposely agitating the master, almost taunting him. You'd say the synergy was magical, except that they seem to be working against each other. --Marc Greilsamer