Gene Russell – New Direction (1972) (Black Jazz BJ01 – RSD 2020)

Gene Russell
New Direction
Real Gone Music RGM1018
Released: 29 Aug 2020
Limited Edition, RSD exclusive, Clear with Black Swirl
US  Original release on BLACK JAZZ RECORDS as BJ/1 in 1971

Well, it has been nearly two months since my last post here. I had planned to share this record at the beginning of the year, hoping that 2021 would symbolize a “new direction” for the world.  But those hopes got dashed just a few days in.

I haven’t been sitting around in the bad kind of funk and stewing in my own juices, however.  The Doctor has just been busy putting food on the table.  And watching more films than last year, so far. That was one of my New Year’s Resolutions. Continue reading

Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Live At The Montreux Jazz Festival (1972/1996)

Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Live At The Montreux Jazz Festival
Original release 1972 Polydor (Japan)
1996 CD reissue Verve Records 314531641-2

Dipping back into the Roy Ayers Ubiquity catalog, this live performance hails from pretty early in their trajectory, and this version was expanded from the original LP to include 4 extra tracks for what is probably a pretty complete representation of their set.  (more below the break) Continue reading

Freedom Rhythm & Sound: Revolutionary Jazz & The Civil Rights Movement 1963-82 (Soul Jazz Records 219)

Various Artists – Freedom Rhythm & Sound: Revolutionary Jazz & The Civil Rights Movement 1963-82
2009 Soul Jazz Records

I apologize for my absence during these challenging times of turmoil.  The truth is I am exhausted by everything happening in the world, but not anywhere near as exhausted as my black friends, especially those in the United States.  I feel like those who know me, know where I stand. Continue reading

Al Jarreau – Glow (1976)

 

Al Jarreau – Glow
1976 Reprise MS2248
This reissue, late-80’s German CD pressing

There has been another round of recent deaths of talented people in the arts, and I might be tempted to print another list here or to work up a bunch of “tribute” posts on this blog.  But my last post here was a bit ‘heavy’ and I thought I would change things up again for something more upbeat and life-affirming.  If you are the kind of person who sees the tag “vocal jazz” and are about to skip this post, please reconsider.  Many of the best jazz vocalists use their instrument to compliment an ensemble rather than dominate it, and the early Al Jarreau records fall into that camp.  Anyone who only knows Jarreau from his slicker, pop-oriented records from the 1980’s might even be taken aback but just how extremely funky his earlier work could be, yet he was always attuned to popular but soulful melodies that were ripe for improvisational riffing.  Continue reading

Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Everybody Loves The Sunshine (1976) (2016 UMG Gold Reissue)

Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Everybody Loves The Sunshine
Original release 1976 Polydor
2016 Reissue – Polydor / The Verve Music Group B0024310-01

This 40th anniversary gold pressing is a nice reissue of one of the high points of Roy Ayers Ubiquity’s catalog. There is less vibraphone and a lot more Arp on this one. Every song a winner. Also, it seems like only a matter of time before the track “Lonesome Cowboy” gets used in a Coen Brothers film. Or maybe Tarantino. Anyway enjoy it before they ruin it.  The whole album successfully grafts its cosmic jazz-funk onto the kind of broad positivity preached by pre-Riot era Sly Stone (with “People And The World” sounding like a bit like a discarded Family Stone jam).

Continue reading

Abbey Lincoln – A Turtle’s Dream (1995)


The great Abbey Lincoln has been slated for some attention on this blog for years. At various points I have had one or another record from her early career lined up in the proverbial queue and yet they somehow missed the train.  I’ve had a bit of melancholy and existential blues lately and her music is just the right thing for it.  The title track in particular may become my new anthem. The album also features a cover of “Nature Boy” (meh) followed immediately by the Leo Ferré song “Avec Le Temps” (well, that was a pleasant surprise).  Charlie Haden holds down the bass on most of the cuts except for two tracks featuring Christian McBride and the recently-departed Roy Hargrove, who really gets to shine on “Storywise.”

Continue reading