Monday, June 15, 2009

Michael Gregory Jackson, Heart & Center (Arista 1979)

A personal favorite, Heart & Center was seen by many as a commercial sell-out. Compared to Michael Gregory Jackson's ealier avant-garde efforts, it is slick and commercial, but in an inspired Stevie Wonder way. It's aged very well in my opinion, and sounds funky, off-beat and original. If you like Michael Gregory Jackson, Gifts is up at

Friday, June 12, 2009

Miles Davis, Olympia 11 Juillet 1973 (Trema France)

Recorded in Paris, July 11, 1973, with Dave Liebman, Pete Cosey, Reggie Lucas, Al Foster, Michael Henderson and Mtume. A bit different sound than from later recordings of this band, and one of the better recordings of this time as well. Sadly, long out of print and selling for silly money now.

Miles Davis, Berlin '73 (Jazz Masters)

Not the best sound quality, but a nice set. Apparently recorded for German television.
Miles Davis : trumpet, organ
Dave Liebman : tenor and soprano saxophone, flute
Pete Cosey : electric guitar
Reggie Lucas : electric guitar
Michael Henderson : electric bass
Al Foster : drums
James "Mtume" Foreman : percussion

Splatter 3 + 2, Fistful of Dewey (Cadence 1992)

Review by Thom Jurek at

"Splattter Trio is a freewheeling jazz group who take improvisation to the wall on saxophones, Farfisa organs, guitar, bass, and drums. On this live date in a down joint called the Chameleon in San Francisco, they added another guitarist and percussionist and took as their font of inspiration the notion of change. Playing in a rock club, they throw their usual Splatterbook away and instead played a musical tribute to Miles Dewey Davis, who died a few weeks after the gig. Here are themes from "Jack Johnson," "On the Corner," "Get Up With It," "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," "Pangea," and "In a Silent Way," taken and turned inside out Splatter style. Here the originals become grooves and funky interludes for deepening pools of collective improvisation that held tight to the hypnosis of Miles' original terrorvision and extrapolated an entirely different music from it over the course of three suites. They evoked the dynamics, the strange modal riffs and drones, and made their own Bitches Brew. Some might call this shallow and a rip, but they'd be wrong, of course. This is what you're supposed to do with great music: become inspired by it and make something of your own. The deep bass and organ grooves here are worth the price of admission alone: dark, funky, sexy, and foreboding. The interplay of guitarists Myles Boisen (Splatter) and Len Patterson (non-Splatter) is truly amazing; nobody plays over anybody else, and these two cats move into double six-string or guitar and bass dialog as the percussionists toe-to-toe it and the saxophonists play lines and vamps across the front. This is trippy, driven jazz-rock at its best."

Universal Congress of EP (SST 1987)

I'd never heard of Universal Congress of until I read Dave Lang's
SST records story. Dave writes:

"All three [Universal Congress of] discs are very different, though for starters, one can't go past their self-titled debut. A simple instrumental quartet, it's your standard gtr/gtr/bs/dm set-up, though each player is used to his maximum potential, creating a mind-bending array of organic, twisted, psyched-out, and I'd be tempted to go out on a limb here and say that this is one of the greatest, most hideously ignored independent-rock masterpieces of the '80's. Unfortunately, it was just released at the wrong time in history. Believe you me, if this was released today, in a world obsessed with weird-assed psych obscurities, '70s Miles Davis, free jazz and the odd Krautrock disc here and there, you'd have to avoid the stampede of hipster-geeks leaping over the counter at the local record store trying to get their hands on this. Recorded in a day and basically consisting of one, long track split into three sections, this is the type of "psych monster" all those vinyl-loving obsessives in the hinterlands wish they could create.

There's "Certain Way (Part One)", which starts with a creepy, echoing drone that builds to a dense wail within a few minutes until the rhythm section comes in and Baiza hits the wah-wah pedal and bends his strings whilst the others churn out a steady, yet "free" base of Can/Ash Ra Tempel proportions. When Baiza dives his guitar through the middle, you'd swear you were stuck listening to Miles' Agharta or Big Fun, it's that good. Things turn and sway for 20-odd minutes 'til it quietens down again for some reverb-soaked noodling, and then it's time to flip it over for Part Two. The proceedings are more chaotic here; drums are thrashed, bass strings broken, and the guitars really create an almost Hendrix/Sharrock-like racket. 15 minutes then it's up. Following that is "Chasing", part three in the "concept", if you will; a perfect comedown from the previous ear-bending noise, and somewhat resembling Fripp/Eno's great No Pussyfooting LP of '74, it's a laidback acid-guitar masterpiece that totally reeks of bong-hit jamming gone mad, yet stays totally focused as an ending coda to the previous two numbers. Like I've said, Universal Congress Of's debut is the pleasant surprise of the SST catalogue, and if it was released today I have no doubt they'd be the current fuss of the underground rock cognescenti. I'll stand by that claim."

I'll second Dave Lang's opinion, this is a great album, and an easy recommendation for those who enjoy Miles funk collective.

Sam Rivers Live at Tut's Chicago 1981

An audience recording of Sam River's live February 10, 1981 performance with an electric quartet:
Sam Rivers (ts, ss, fl, p)
Jerry Byrd (el-g)
Skip "Crumby" Bey (el-b)
Steve Ellington (dr)
I got this from the now defunct Huppes blog. According to the Sam Rivers sessionography there's a longer 90 minute version out there.

Miles Davis, Palais Des Sports 1973 (Jazz Masters)

Recorded live at Palais Des Sports, Paris, France, Novemver 15, 1973

Miles Davis : trumpet, organ
Dave Liebman : tenor saxophone,
soprano saxophone, flute
Pete Cosey : electric guitar, percussion
Reggie Lucas : electric guitar
Michael Henderson : electric bass
Al Foster : drums
James "Mtume" Foreman : percussion, congas

1. Turnaroundphrase (10:26)
2. Turn In 5 (12:10)
3. Ife (15:23)
4. For Dave (15:57)
5. Calypso Frelimo (15:17)

Roy Haynes, Live at the Riverbop (1979 Blue Marge)

Dusty Groove writes: "A hip 70s session from Roy Haynes -- recorded in Paris, and a fair bit different than some of his few American dates of the time! The group's a very cool one -- with alto and flute from Ricardo Strobert, plus guitar, electric bass, and Roy's drums -- a groove that's partly electric, but not really in a fusion way -- more a semi-spiritual jazz vibe, with almost a Strata East or Black Jazz undercurrent at times! Haynes wrote most of the tunes for the record, and they're some very sharp-edged numbers -- never as arch-modern as some of his work in later years, and instead handled with a wicked sense of rhythm -- almost a deeper 70s extension of the wonderful groove that Roy brought to his few dates as a leader in the 60s. The whole thing's a key lost chapter in Haynes career -- and titles include versions of Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower" and Wayne Shorter's "Foot Prints" -- plus the originals "I'm So High", "Bull Fight", "Riverbop Blues", and "True or False"."

Miles Davis, More Live Evil (Zipperdeke 1973)

One of the better 70s bootlegs of Miles. Searching for some information I was surprised to see this listed as #5 of the Top 10 Bootleg Things They Don't Want You to Hear at Here's what Fred Mills says: "While not specifically a sequel to the epochal '71 Live Evil set -- it's an On the Corner-era concert -- this double disc is still a worthy artifact for any aficionado of the groundbreaking early '70s jazz-rock fusion that Davis relentlessly pursued. The gig was taped for Japanese TV in Tokyo on June 20, 1973 -- now where's the video transfer of the six-song, two-and-a-half-hour mindfuck?"

If you like this one, be sure to check out the killer live 1975 recording
Another Unity at the always excellent Nothing Is v2.0.

John Surman, Morning Glory (1973 Future Music Records FMRCD 13)

I treasured my vinyl copy of Morning Glory, and I was ecstatic when it was briefly released on CD on the Future Music Legacy label. It's got a great Miles vibe, but with a nice nod to Dolphy's "Iron Man." I bought mine because Terje Rypdal was prominently listed on the cover, but the playing is inspired all the way around.
John Surman: soprano sax, bass clarinet
John Taylor: keyboards
Terje Rypdal: guitar
John Marshall: drums
Chris Laurence: bass
Malcolm Griffiths: trombone.

Sadly, this CD seems long out of print now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Live Sam Rivers Crosscurrent (Blue Marge 1005, 1981)

A quintessential favorite. This is a Sam Rivers live set at Jazz Unité, Paris, France 1981. This one hits it just right. It's the kind of cerebral funk that I can listen to repeatedly on different levels. I can play it for non-jazz aficionados before dinner, or I can concentrate on it through headphones. I think this is the type of Sam Rivers playing that inspired Steve Coleman's ideas for M-base.

The personnel are Sam Rivers (p, fl, ss, ts, Compositions)
Jerry Byrd (g)
Real Wesley-Grant (el-b)
Steve Ellington (dr)

I stupidly sold my vinyl copy as Blue Marge listed this as an upcoming CD release, but years have gone by and no CD. Oh well, this less than perfect rip still shows what Sam was thinking.