Enrico LeNoci Common Ground (ZenneZ 2023)


Young LeNoci modernizes that good ol’ jazz guitar style in his own fashion.

Enrico LeNoci - Common Ground


Enrico LeNoci (guitar), Pietro Mirabassi (tenor saxophone), Arno Krijger (drums), Eric Ineke (drums)


in 2022 at De Smederij, Zeist


as ZenneZ 2023013 in 2023

Track listing

Pied Fries
Arjun’s Blues
In The House
Common Ground
Night Fears
Small Changes

Guitar players are an endearingly wacky lot. They are crazy about their iconic wooden toy, which replaced the saxophone as the lead instrument of popular music in the fifties and never looked back. I remember John Scofield telling me that he regarded himself as a guitarist first and foremost. (“My roots are the blues and Cream, I didn’t start off with bebop.”)

Enrico LeNoci, whom fellow Italian jazzers may soon dub “il nostre uomo a Den Haag”, is a guitarist that oozes the jazz feeling from the golden age of mainstream jazz. At the same time though, there is ample evidence of a passion for blues and blues rock. His debut album features veteran drummer Eric Ineke, mentor of generations of Hague students, penultimate sideman that played with Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin and Chet Baker, among countless others. Ace organist Arno Krijger and tenor saxophonist Pietro Mirabasi complete the line-up.

Sprightly hard bop tunes are marked by the juicy sax of Mirabassi and sassy playing by LeNoci. In The House is sweet as honey, a string of melody lines that are as charming as the solos are enchanting. It has LeNoci replacing sassiness for tender and thoughtful romanticizing. Keys is comprised of fluid lines that bite each other’s tails, as if one hears Jimmy Raney working on a tune with Atilla Zoller, discussing various keys. The beautifully paced solo by Krijger steals the show. Here’s a band that fluently shifts through lanes, not least because of chauffeur Eric Ineke, either burning rubber or honking horns to keep everybody on his toes or gently cruising the crew back home.

Sleazily bended notes, tad of Sco’, pinch of Robben Ford even. These are facets of Arjun’s Blues and Night Fears. They won’t earn LeNoci a place in the Blues Hall of Fame but are fine additions of a promising real jazz debut.

Enrico LeNoci

Find Common Ground here.

This spring also finds LeNoci releasing his trio album Electric Nuts.

Arbenz/Krijger/Osby Conversations #9: Targeted (SR-9)


Ain’t no jive talkin’.

Arbenz:Krijger:Osby - Targeted


Florian Arbenz (drums, percussion), Greg Osby (alto saxophone, soprano saxophone), Arno Krijger (organ)


on May 1, 2022 at Hammer Studios, Basel


as SR-9 in 2023

Track listing

Freedom Jazz Dance
Sleeping Mountain
Vertical Hold
Seven Steps To Heaven
I Loves You Porgy
Old Shaman

Florian Arbenz knows very well that the DANCE part of the title of Eddie Harris’s signature tune Freedom Jazz Dance was not a random but deliberate choice, as much so as FREEDOM. Up until now, we have enjoyed nine versions by the Swiss drummer, three to go. It is included on each of Arbenz’s twelve-part Conversations series of albums with musicians of all creeds and scenes. A wondrous, hilariously ambitious and multifaceted project that to date has delighted many jazzophiles, more so since Conversations is also released on vinyl. Each version of Harris’s freewheeling groove anthem is marked by original rhythmic and harmonic discoveries.

Yet again, on #9: Targeted featuring longtime Arbenz collaborator Greg Osby and Dutch Hammond organist Arno Krijger, Arbenz offers an interesting interpretation. Before the Basel-based percussionist commences with his muscular, layered jazz rock groove, Osby vigorously introduces the triangle of freedom, jazz and dance on soprano sax, picking up a short while later during their greasy excursion into Harrisland with hi-octane jumps on, over and right through the fence. Krijger follows suit and, free as a bird and freed from ch-ch-changes, oozes liberating energy.

Sure enough, Victor Feldman’s Seven Steps To Heaven (remember Lonnie Smith’s version?) kicks it up a notch. Like companion piece Freedom Jazz Dance, it is cut and deboned like an ox and subsequently the meat is seasoned and grilled, bon appetit. A classy case of deconstruction and rebuilding. Gritty and crunchy, it merits definition as neo-Tony Williams Lifetime-ish. (Remember Emergency?) Once more, it features an appropriate introduction, here in the form of West-African-tinged percussion. In fine and fiery form, Krijger cuts loose and performs his album highlight.

Throughout, the prolific organist is an incisive storyteller and sound wizard, his mind constantly focusing on the big picture. Acclaimed in Europe, it should be only a matter of time until his prowess is equally valued by American aficionados.

Dreamy and fairylike, Arbenz’s Sleepy Mountain sets the alarm at half past six, so you can just stay still and doze. Elves are awakened by Osby’s flexible alto sax story, which resembles the flight of the eagle, the sound of the flapping of its wings echoing and carrying across green and foggy hills. The extremely tranquil take on Gershwin’s I Loves You Porgy (remember Miles Davis famously covering no less than 3 tunes included here?) focuses on Osby’s hushed soprano playing. The sanding of his tone and the backdrop of Krijger’s eerie David Lynch slash John Carpenter-sounds make it all the more poignant.

Listening to #9: Targeted, one gets the distinct feeling that the rapport of this intriguing ‘organ’ trio is such that they would come up with something original and spontaneous by every new visit to the studio. Or live stage, a situation that is eagerly awaited.


Find Conversations #9: Targeted here.

The Mangione Brothers Sextet - The Jazz Brothers

The Mangione Brothers Sextet The Jazz Brothers (Riverside 1960)

Young lions rip and roar.

The Mangione Brothers Sextet - The Jazz Brothers


Chuck Mangione (trumpet), Sal Nistico (tenor saxophone), Larry Combs (alto saxophone), Gap Mangione (piano), Bill Saunders (bass), Roy McCurdy (drums)


on August 8, 1960 at Bell Sound Studios, NYC


as RLP-335 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Something Different
Secret Love
Side B:
Struttin’ With Sandra
The Gap
The Girl Of My Dreams

Literally, the debut album by the sextet of Chuck and Gap Mangione is a family affair. But considering the enormous drive and zest of their band, it seems as if all six young guns have strong family ties. Their Cannonball Adderley-produced record showcases a tight-knit unit comfortably shifting gears in the lanes of its blues-drenched hard bop highway, while all concerned deliver strong, buoyant solos.

All concerned meaning: trumpeter Chuck Mangione, pianist Gap Mangione, tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico, alto saxophonist Larry Combs, bassist Bill Saunders and drummer Roy McCurdy, Chuck being the youngest at age 19, Gap two years older, Roy McCurdy the oldest at age 23. There’s nothing new under the sun, these gentlemen operate in the omnipresent mainstream format of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s but like Cannonball tackle blues, ballads and Songbook-based changes with gusto.

The Cannonball Adderley Quintet-coincidence is rather striking. It’s in the way that you use it and, in the slipstream of CAQ, hard bop is like a sparkling and shiny Ford Mustang in the hands of the Mangione outfit. Let me remind you as well that Cannonball would recruit the terribly swinging drummer Roy McCurdy in 1965, who would be a member of the quintet till the passing of his bandleader in 1975.

The Jazz Brothers doesn’t let up, maintaining high energy from the long bop line and fat shuffle of Nemesis, delicious and uplifting swingers Girl Of My Dream and Alice, ballad Secret Love and uptempo burner The Gap to the r&b-drenched stop-time affair Something Different. As we can see on the cover photo, The Mangione Sextet is an enthusiastic bunch. Take a good look at Gap, short-cropped hair, boyish grin, and Chuck, wider grin and the set of eyes of the sextet that mesmerized the photographer. The spikiest of crew-cuts. Back home in Rochester, New York, Chuck was taught by his mother to treat women with respect and he has learned with trial and error, having had plenty of flings already, that the core business of girls isn’t plain penetration. He plays sweetly and adds a tad of lemon, his lines of youth crack jokes to one another and reminisce about illegal entries into local jazz clubs, the overwhelming magic of brass, reed and pigskin bombs.

Sal Nistico is more heavy-set. Dark brows, South-Italian rugged aura, playful gaze. Could it be that The Jazz Brothers contains some of Nistico’s best statements on wax? He’s a solid-sounding boss, risk-taker and fire-eater. Him and the band clearly enjoyed an afternoon at Bell Sound Studios in New York City. Session in the pocket, picture taken, where to? Place to go, says McCurdy, is Jim & Andy’s. That’s where the big boys are. Might give Cannonball a ring. Stay put, I’ll hail a cab.

Clifford Jordan & John Gilmore - Blowing In From Chicago

Clifford Jordan & John Gilmore Blowing In From Chicago (Blue Note 1957)

Upcoming Chicagoans blend effortlessly with mighty New Yorkers for what has become one of the hard-swinging Blue Note classics.

Clifford Jordan & John Gilmore - Blowing In From Chicago


Clifford Jordan (tenor saxophone), John Gilmore (tenor saxophone), Horace Silver (piano), Doug Watkins (bass), Art Blakey (drums)


on March 3, 1957 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey


as BLP 1549 in 1957

Track listing

Side A:
Status Quo
Blue Lights
Side B:
Billie’s Bounce
Evil Eye

Although the title couldn’t have been more straightforward, I have always felt a sense of mystique regarding Blowing In From Chicago. See them coming, black cowboys on horseback, axe in hand, towering over the potholes of Broadway. Of course, in reality, someone drove Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore through the Lincoln tunnel, via the New Jersey Turnpike to one of the prime places of jazz recording history, Rudy van Gelder’s studio in the house of his parents in Hackensack. Benevolent couple, keen and self-willed optometrist-turned-engineer son, who spent more tape that toilet paper.

Blue Note label boss Alfred Lion had coupled the two Chicagoans with stalwarts Horace Silver, Curly Russell and Art Blakey, reunion group of Jazz Messengers. After all, although not strictly a Messenger, Russell had been bassist on Horace Silver’s Horace Silver Trio in 1953 featuring Blakey and on Art Blakey Quintet’s A Night At Birdland Volume 1-3 in 1954 featuring Horace Silver, among other associations with Silver and Blakey in the bop-to-hard bop-period. Jazz Messengers-founder Horace Silver had struck out on his own in 1956, leaving the baton to booming Blakey.

Happy reunion, success guaranteed. How did Lion come up with the idea of getting Jordan and Gilmore into the recording studio on March 3 in 1957? Likely at the advice of Johnny Griffin. Griffin had recorded his Blue Note debut album Introducing Johnny Griffin in April 1956 and had been high school mates of Jordan and Gilmore at DuSable in Chicago under the tutorage of famed teacher “Captain” Walter Dyett. Blowing was Jordan’s first session for Blue Note. The same year, he reappeared as co-leader (John Jenkins, Clifford Jordan & Bobby Timmons) and leader (Clifford Jordan, Cliff Craft).

Surprise pick John Gilmore is best known for his long association with Sun Ra from 1953-93. The Summit, Mississippi-born Chicagoan predominantly played clarinet in Army bands from 1948-52 and subsequently joined the Earl Hines band on tenor in 1953. One of the figureheads of Sun Ra’s quirky and esoteric big ensemble realm, Gilmore rarely recorded in the small ensemble format.

However, a closer look reveals that Gilmore delivered high-quality, original contributions to small bands, Blowing being the excellent starter. After a long silence, Gilmore added his tenor flavors to Freddie Hubbard’s The Artistry Of Freddie Hubbard (1962), McCoy Tyner’s Today And Tomorrow (1963), Elmo Hope’s Sounds From Ryker’s Island (1963), Paul Bley’s Turning Point (1964), Art Blakey’s ‘S Make It (1965), Andrew Hill’s Andrew (1964) and Compulsion (1966), Pete LaRoca’s Turkish Woman At The Bath (1967) and Dizzy Reece’s From In To Out (1970). His versatility is striking. He’s at home in the post-bop environment but also excellently contributes, clipped phrasing and off-beat developments of motives and all, to avantgarde recordings, notably Hill and Bley. His playing on LaRoca’s Turkish Woman is very powerful and in sync with the drummer’s exotic concept.

No doubt, certainly after all these years where Blue Note has become synonymous with jazz, Blowing is his best-known small band recording. In the liner notes, Joe Segal mentions that both Jordan and Gilmore were influenced by Lester Young, Don Byas, Lucky Thompson, Gene Ammons, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins. On another record, namely Johnny Griffin’s Blowing Session, Leonard Feather simply classifies Jordan and Gilmore as respectively influenced by Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. At that phase in his career, Jordan, who would become the revered creator of such original works as Glass Bead Games, surely professed a preference for the Rollins sound and style. But Gilmore and Coltrane? In 1957? Seems unlikely and seems more likely that Gilmore was influenced by the above-mentioned cats that blew in from elsewhere or simply came from Chicago like Gene Ammons.

The early 1960s is another matter entirely. Sources like the Coltrane bio Chasin’ The Trane and Coltrane’s interview with Frank Kofsky in 1966 reveal that there has been mutual influence between Gilmore and Coltrane. They met at Monday night sessions at Birdland in 1960, where Gilmore teached Coltrane techniques to reach high notes and Coltrane showed his tenor colleague the ropes of unique harmonies. It is well-known that Coltrane was inspired by Sun Ra. Reportedly, Coltrane had listened extensively to Gilmore, whose playing style on Ra’s records of the late 1950’s directly influenced Coltrane’s new direction of his Chasin’ The Trane recording. It is much harder to pinpoint the influence of Coltrane on Gilmore, which Feather, in his revised 1970’s edition of the famed Encyclopedia of Jazz, reluctantly admits. It’s much more difficult to push the Little Man Influences Little Big Man story down people’s throat than vice versa.

So much for jazz influences and jazz popes, here it is March 3, 1957, stormy weather of swing, a couple of hip tenors aboard the Blakey Boat, captain Art, helmsman Horace and boatswain Curly delivering the goods of a well-documented classic. As producer and writer Michael Cuscuna wrote in the liner notes to Blowing’s 2003 CD reissue, the balance between tunes is perfect, the set being divided between hard swinger (Chicagoan John Neely’s Status Quo) and Latin-tinged tunes (Jordan’s Bo-Till) that are based on familiar changes, contemporary standard and minor-key blues (Gigi Gryce’s Blue Lights and Jordan’s mellow Evil Eye), typically keenly structured Silver original (Everywhere) and major-key bop romp (Charlie Parker’s Billie’s Bounce).

Admirably unperturbed by the gusty winds of Blakey, Jordan and Gilmore acquit themselves very well, Jordan employing a smooth tone and semi-lazy beat, Gilmore working with a harder sound and vertical, dynamic lines. The secret of Blowing’s success, could it be anything else, lies in the presence of Art Blakey. Ever heard a sizzling ride beat as in Status Quo? Ain’t no status quo! Major sea changes in the time frame of merely 5 minutes, incited by furious rolls and tacky rimshots, right on the dot. Blakey’s intro of Billie Bounce, too, is unforgettable and, lest we forget, followed up by sustained, hard groove. It also features a long, fervent solo by Silver.

Made 63 years ago, Blowing In From Chicago remains an unbeatable record, perfect kick start of the day or evening, like a strong and hot cup of Portuguese espresso.

D.B. Blues


Promising Czech keyboardist works on his career from location Rotterdam.

It pays to wander off Main Street and take side streets and alleys. I was not familiar with Daniel Bulatkin but visited a performance of his organ trio at café De Twee Spieghels in Leiden, The Netherlands – this was where Ben Webster played the last show of his life. A funky soul jazz set, tinged with some hip modern jazz burners.

In conversation, the Czech keyboard player modestly stated that he still feels himself to be a “beginner on the Hammond organ”, regarding Larry Goldings and Brian Charette (who provided him with tips) as the modern B3 giants.

It turned out that young Bulatkin, who studies at Codarts in Rotterdam and cooperated with saxophonist Tineke Postma and drummer Gary Husband among others, has ambitiously been exploring different terrains. The New Beginning (2020) from his former band B/Y Organism with guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Kyrill Yakovlev (duduk! balalaika!) is a wildly diverse and layered world fusion album. Bulatkin plays piano, synth, Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ. His convincing and challenging organ lines bring to mind the aural canvases that were laid out long ago by the likes of Joe Zawinul and Doug Carn.

Bulatkin currently leads the Daniel Bulatkin Cinematic Ensemble, which combines jazz and strings. Furthermore, he produced and played piano and keyboard on American singer Allison Wheeler’s Winterspring. (2022) A highly recommended album that links strong compositions and solo statements to a – partly overdubbed – voice and delivery that puts Sandy Denny, Kate Bush, Blossom Dearie and Joni Mitchell in one original brand new bag. Beautiful album.

So you can see that versatile Daniel Bulatkin has been involved in a number of high-level affairs. Very talented cat.

Daniel Bulatkin

Find Winterspring here.
Check out Daniel’s website here.

Sonny Cox - The Wailer

Sonny Cox The Wailer (Cadet 1966)

From the depths of the Argo/Cadet archives, a wailer from The Windy City.

Sonny Cox - The Wailer


Sonny Cox (alto saxophone), Ken Prince (organ), John Howell, Arthur Hoyle and Paul Serrano (trumpet), John Avant (trombone), Rubin Cooper or Lenard Dross (baritone saxophone), Bobby Robinson or Roland Faulkner (guitar), Cleveland Eaton (bass), Maurice White (drums)


in January 1966 at Ter-Mar Studios, Chicago


as Cadet 765 in 1966

Track listing

Side A:
Come Rain Or Come Shine
I’m Just A Lucky So And So
The Retreat Song (Jikele Maweni)
Side B:
Berimbau (The Girls From Bahia)
The Wailer
For Sentimental Reasons

In keeping with the policy of mother company Chess and Chicago’s taste for the real stuff ever since Afro-Americans had migrated north from the Delta, Argo/Cadet focused not so much on new developments as accessible jazz. Excepting Ahmad Jamal (though Argo likely considered Jamal as accessible in his own right), it released blues and bop-driven and groove-oriented albums by Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Lou Donaldson, Budd Johnson and organists Sam Lazar and Baby Face Willette. The popular Ramsey Lewis was the main attraction.

When Argo changed its name to Cadet because of complaints by a similarly named company in the UK, it concentrated almost solely on soul jazz, especially after The In-Crowd by Lewis had become a million-selling record. Its roster included Ray Bryant and Brother Jack McDuff as well as promising unknowns as Bobby Bryant, Bill Leslie, Gene Shaw and Odell Brown. Another newcomer was Sonny Cox, part of The 3 Souls, which had released Dangerous Dan Express in 1964 and Soul Sounds in 1965. Cadet saw fit to release a solo effort in 1966: The Wailer.

Thereafter, the saxophonist disappeared from the scene altogether. Mr. Cox was a guidance counselor in Chicago public schools and coach of several Illinois state basketball teams. Apparently, Cox was somewhat of a legend that spotted talent and masterminded championship teams. Much akin to “Captain” Walter Dyett, the famed high school teacher that coached and strongly influenced future jazz heavyweights as Nat King Cole, Milt Hinton, Gene Ammons, Benny Green, Johnny Griffin, Eddie Harris, Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore in their formative years in Chicago.

Cadet didn’t take the easy way out. Variety on Cox’s swan song is key and the repertoire of standards, bossa, ballad, Ellingtonia, Miriam Makeba (yessir/lady) and soul/r&b is arranged expertly by Richard Evans, who perks up our ears using big brass and a low-end buzz of trombone and baritone saxophone and well-placed and timed Basie-ish riffs. Nothing wrong, to say the least, with the inclusion of bassist Cleveland Eaton and drummer Maurice White, who would join The Ramsey Lewis Trio in June. Just so in case you failed to notice, that’s White of Earth Wind & Fire fame.

They stoke up the fire of highlight Soulero, a composition by Richard Evans that develops from bolero to blues groove and is marked by Ken Prince’s sole Hammond solo, a punchy and gritty one at that. It has to be said that the dubious alto sound of Cox is a point lost, annoyingly out of tune. His solos are lively though rather uneven as well. I’m Just A Lucky So And So’s lines resemble the path of a sheep that broke out of the herd and shuffles panic-stricken through the dunes. Admittedly, he strongly fills the breaks on Hoggin’, a gritty copy paste from Hi-Heel Sneakers, courtesy of the leader.

So, to conclude, a one-time leader that made a hip and soulful record in spite of himself.

Only partly available on YouTube, here’s The Wailer and Berimbau (The Girls From Bahia). There’s a task here for (reissue) labels, let’s say the one and only Fresh Sound Records…

Talking To Myself


Equally energetic as his late father, Patrick Manzecchi asserts himself in a solo setting.

Feelings of desperation were palpable during the pandemic. There you are, suddenly on your own. Yes, modern technology allows you to play in realtime with a bassist in Tirana or Baltimore or Kyoto. It’s cool but it’s different. Life’s a struggle, then again the serenity of the lockdown is inspiring and you get fresh ideas… like drummer Patrick Manzecchi, whose passion for drums remained undimmed and who recorded various rhythms all by himself, hence the title of his new album: Talking To Myself.

It’s a collection of titles as Challenge, Memories, Conflict, Patience and Gratitude, as Manzecchi explains in the booklet, insights and perspectives… ranging from doubts and conflicts to love and peace… By no means an ego trip, Manzecchi instead explores concise beats, variating with dynamics and colors and including bells and even toys. He knows the meaning of space. By its very nature, Talking To Myself is an acquired taste, which can’t be said of Rectilinear from 2016, Manzecchi’s trio session with pianist Richie Beirach and bassist Jens Loh. Pre-Covid spirited post-bop that includes hi-octane interpretations of Nardis and All Blues and a couple of suave original compositions.

Konstanz-based Manzecchi cooperated with Barry Harris, Teddy Edwards, Sheila Jordan, Scott Hamilton, Gary Smulyan and Bobby Watson to name a few. He is the son of Franco Manzecchi, who played with Chet Baker, Eric Dolphy, Clark Terry, Lou Bennett, René Thomas and many others. It’s all in the family. Patrick dedicated Talking To Myself to his father, who passed away in 1979. Perhaps talking to himself invariably means talking with his great drummer dad as well.

Patrick Manzecchi

Find Talking To Myself here.
Check out Patrick’s website here.