The Eric Ineke JazzXPress - What Kinda Bird Is This?

The Eric Ineke JazzXpress What Kinda Bird Is This? (Challenge 2020)

NEW RELEASE – THE ERIC INEKE JAZZXPRESS

As usual, The Eric Ineke JazzXpress goes full steam ahead, bringing home the music of Charlie Parker in refreshing manner on What Kinda Bird Is This?

The Eric Ineke JazzXPress - What Kinda Bird Is This?

Personnel

Eric Ineke (drums), Ian Cleaver (trumpet), Sjoerd Dijkhuizen (tenor saxophone), Tineke Postma (alto saxophone), Peter Beets, Rein de Graaff & Rob Agerbeek (piano), Marius Beets (bass)

Recorded

on June 22 & 23 and July 6, 2020 at Studio De Smederij, Zeist, The Netherlands

Released

as CR 73512 in 2020

Track listing

Tracks:
Relaxin’ At Camarillo
Steeplechase
Lover Man
Birdie Num Num
Ah-Leu-Cha
Parker’s Mood
What Kinda Bird Is This?
Just Friends
Merry Go Round
Bongo Beep
Stupendous
Au Privave


IIf the sign of true genius is the spontaneous response to catastrophic circumstances, Charlie Parker’s Dial recording of Lover Man in 1947 is number one with a bullet. It gave rise to a confusing mix of shock and adulation from the start. In the middle of a bad trip and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Parker shaped an emotionally charged story with instinctive revisions of his faltering phrases. Parker was horrified by the release of the record. Shortly afterwards, Parker was admitted to Camarillo Mental State Hospital in California. His release from the asylum inspired a new original composition, Relaxin’ At Camarillo.

Both Lover Man and Relaxin’ At Camarillo are interpreted (quite impressively) on What Kinda Bird Is This? by The Eric Ineke JazzXpress, one of the most swinging contemporary tributes to Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, inventor of bebop, genius of modern music, whose 100th Birthday was celebrated worldwide on August 29. Ineke, veteran Dutch drummer who played with Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Griffin and Jimmy Raney, amongst many others, and is an acclaimed teacher at European conservatories and inexaustible (hard) bop ambassador on and off-stage, has released eight records as leader of The JazzXpress since 2006. On What Kinda Bird Is This?, Ineke is joined by his regular bassist Marius Beets, pianists Peter Beets, Rein de Graaff and Rob Agerbeek – all of whom substituted for the (temporarily) ailing Rob van Bavel – trumpeter Ian Cleaver, tenor saxophonist Sjoerd van Dijkhuizen and alto saxophonist Tineke Postma.

The band’s refurbishment of Parker in its own image is underlined by nifty arrangements by Marius Beets, Dijkhuizen and Van Bavel. Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Van Bavel) sounds like the sort of tune that would not have been out of place on Blakey’s Ugetsu or one of John Coltrane’s Atlantic records. It uncoils mischieviously, like a snake, through firm choruses of modality and various shadings of the melody, climaxing with Parker’s indelible long line. An intriguing version that furthermore swings like mad.

At the other end of the spectrum, Lover Man is a playground for Tineke Postma in the trio format. Her long, constantly lively story is a balancing act of tuneful phrases and clusters of notes that burst out of the changes en route to the outskirts of the Milky Way. Wordly wisdom seems to have increasingly pervaded her style, to the point where sour grapes are transformed into a splendid bottle of Chateau du Charles Lloyd. The wine manages to call a definite feeling of melancholy. Postma, highly engaging throughout the record, devours the other trio cut, Au Privave, a concise progressive reworking of Parker’s blues line that reflects the rapport she has built up the last few years with Ineke, whose matchless timing and alert interplay stems from decades of experience. At age 73, the pater familias of The Hague’s mainstream jazz scene is at the top of his game.

Sjoerd Dijkhuizen, always willing to share his penchant for Dexter Gordon-type phrasing, nails Birdie Num Num, Marius Beets’s variation on Parker’s Confirmation. Beets’s What Kinda Bird Is This? features witty lines by young lion Ian Cleaver, who impresses with bright, fearless notes in the upper register, and a virtuoso exercise by “Brother” Peter Beets, whose ability to swing a band into the ground is one of the virtues that won him international acclaim. Parker’s Mood is perfect foil for Rein de Graaff, long-time companion of Ineke and comfortable in a slow blues vein.

Affinity with lesser-known Parker compositions – Stupendous, Bongo Beep, Merry Go Round; the dizzying effect of the latter’s variation on I Got Rhythm is in sync with the title – is yet another interesting aspect of What Kinda Bird Is This? This ‘Bird’ is a triumphant continuation of form by the Eric Ineke JazzXpress, which for this occasion is a configuration of individuals that assert themselves with authority in the setting of Parkeriana.

Cellar Live

RECORD LABELS – CELLAR LIVE

If you’re not already familiar with it, you need to take a look at Cellar Live, one of the freshest independent jazz labels out there.

Cellar Live was formed in 2001 by tenor saxophonist, impresario and club owner Cory Weeds, who began taping the performances of visiting artists in his Cellar Club in Vancouver, Canada.

By now, his label consists of Cellar Live, Cellar Music and ReelToReal, subsequently focusing on live records, studio projects and archival releases. The latest historical release was Johnny Griffin/Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis’s Ow. See review here.

Cellar Live’s aesthetic of honoring and extending the mainstream jazz tradition is expressed through recordings of, among others, Grant Stewart, Joe Magnarelli, Jeb Patton, Emmet Cohen, Scott Hamilton, Mike LeDonne, Adam Shulman, Louis Hayes, Cannonball Adderley and Cory Weeds himself, who among other endeavors lauds one of modern jazz’s greatest stylists, Hank Mobley, both in the studio and on stage. His record label’s organ combo roster features Ben Paterson, among others.

The newest release in Cellar Live’s ReelToReal division will be George Coleman’s In Baltimore – due November 27, Record Store Day Black Friday. The statement of Zev Feldman, producer and collaborator of Cory Weeds, reads as follows:

“The George Coleman Quintet “In Baltimore” was captured live at the Famous Ballroom on May 23, 1971, presented by the Left Bank Jazz Society, and featured a stellar band with trumpeter Danny Moore, pianist Albert Dailey, bassist Larry Ridley and drummer Harold White. The limited-edition 180g LP includes an elaborate insert with beautiful photos by Francis Wolff, intros by Cory and I, a main overview essay by the great jazz historian/archivist Michael Cuscuna, plus interviews with “the Big G” himself George Coleman, John Fowler from the Left Bank, and the self-described Coleman disciple, tenor man Eric Alexander.”

Top-notch jazz and the roots-y vibe of the label, which gives meticulous care to detail in the presentation of its hip record covers and includes a number of endearing references to classic sleeve art, makes rummaging through its recordings a very joyful experience.

Check out Cellar Live’s website here.

Art Blakey - Just Coolin'

Art Blakey Just Coolin’ (Blue Note 1959/2020)

NEW RELEASE – ART BLAKEY

Another one from the vault of Blue Note, hurray! The buoyant, invincible swing of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers infuses Just Coolin’, a 1959 session with the classic frontline of Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley.

 

Art Blakey - Just Coolin'

Personnel

Art Blakey (drums), Lee Morgan (trumpet), Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone), Bobby Timmons (piano), Jimmy Merritt (bass)

Recorded

on March 8, 1959 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey

Released

as BN 64201 in 2020

Track listing

Tracks:
Hipsippy Blues
Close Your Eyes
Jimerick
Quick Trick
M&M
Just Coolin’


Shelving excellent sessions was second nature to Blue Note boss Alfred Lion. He undoubtedly had his reasons for ignoring Art Blakey’s session of March 8, 1959. On the strength of Just Coolin’, unearthed by ace producer Zev Feldman, Lion’s reasons could hardly have come from a musical viewpoint. Just Coolin’ is top-notch Blakey: hip tunes, hard and fluent swing, fiery and tasteful contributions by Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley and Bobby Timmons.

What else then would’ve been Lion’s considerations? After the unexpected hit record of Moanin’ in early 1959 Lion shelved the drum-oriented Drums Around The World session of November 2, 1958 – released in 1999 – and instead released the equally percussion-heavy session of November 9 as Holiday For Skins Vol. 1 & 2 in June 1959. Skins, furthermore, consisted not of Blakey’s successful working band but featured Donald Byrd, Ray Bryant, Art Taylor, Philly Joe Jones and Ray Barretto, among others. Presumably, the “drum” sessions were specifically stimulated by Blakey. Presumably, Lion was looking for a follow-up to the popular Moanin’ album. He put the Messengers in the studio in March not long after they had returned from a tour in Europe.

But instead of releasing that session, Lion chose to go for a live recording of April at Birdland, released as At The Jazz Corner Of The World Vol. 1 & 2. Not a bad idea, Blakey’s preceding live records, Live At Birdland and At Club Bohemia, had been good sellers, capturing The Jazz Messengers at their spontaneous best. Perhaps Lion was challenged as well by French RCA, which released Au Club St. Germain Vol 1, 2 & 3 early in 1959, beating him to a punch. Most of all, I think Lion trusted on his intuition, looking for another good Blakey seller. And Jazz Corner, showcasing Blakey as genial jazz ambassador and his Messengers as exciting young bloods, did sell properly. Lion had to make choices for his complete roster of artists all year round. He shelved the excellent November ’59 session of Africaine (released in 1981) at the expense of Big Beat. Flooding the market is of no use.

Even if you’re prepared for Blakey’s big beat, hearing his band in full bloom is still an exhilarating experience. The session is restored beautifully, coming at you as if the Messengers are playing in your room. Four tunes, Close Your Eyes, Mobley’s Hipsippy Blues, M&M and Just Coolin’, would appear on At The Jqzz Corner Of The World. Timmons’s Quick Trick and Jimerick (unknown composer) are previously unreleased tunes. Jimerick is especially noteworthy, an uptempo cooker with a jump blues-feel and catchy stop-time theme that showcases bright, energetic solo’s by Timmons, Morgan and Blakey.

Just Coolin’ is vintage Messengers, Blakey pushing the band at paced mid to up-tempos with driving shuffles, typically driving his men through hard bop avenue with the Blakey Press Roll and various lush and greasy accents and rim shots. Perhaps the records lacks an epic tune and perhaps there’s one tenor sqeak too many, but how the elegant and classy Mobley has always maintained both drive and his cool in front of Blakey is one of the joys of this particular line-up. Morgan is all chutzpah, grease, fire. At times, his notes deliriously dance on the changes, solidly landing on their feet, which combined with Morgan’s bright and brazen tone is a very gratifying experience.

The Jazz Messengers were about honesty, blues and what Mobley alluded to in his quote of a famous, emblematic Ellington piece during Close Your Eyes. There’s plenty of that on Blue Note’s latest “vault” release.

The Facts About Fats

FATS THEUS –

Remember Fats Theus? Bet you do if you’re deeply into tenor/organ grooves. Otherwise, the tenor saxophonist has been largely under the radar. Even admirers of the CTI catalogue – his sole album Black Out was released on CTI in 1970 – often are not aware of this recording. I wrote a review of Black Out a couple of years ago. It’s a gritty record, definitely out of step with the crafty, smooth CTI approach of producer Creed Taylor.

I received a comment on the Theus review on our Instagram page from Mark Cathcart. Cathcart devotes a website – ctproduced – to the work of Creed Taylor and mentioned his latest post on Black Out. The post is made up entirely of a piece by guest writer and connoisseur Douglas Payne, who sheds light on the career of the elusive Theus and provides context to the origins of his sole leadership date which included funk jazz stalwarts of the period, guitarist Grant Green and drummer Idris Muhammad.

(From l. to r, clockwise: Fats Theus’s Black Out and his sideman dates on records by organists Billy Larkin and Jimmy McGriff)

While I highly esteem Creed Taylor for his many top-notch and important endeavors in jazz production and admire the high-level musical and unique visual concept of CTI, I have never been a big fan of the label, fatigued by its slick sound and fun package of instruments including synths, strings, bongos, triangles and what not. Different strokes for different folks.

Having said that, kudos to Cathcart for developing his document on CTI and Douglas Payne for the insightful piece on the enigmatic Fats Theus.

The White Blinds Brown Bag (F-Spot 2020)

NEW RELEASE – THE WHITE BLINDS

Brown Bag and Muddy Water represent the yin and yang of The White Blinds, organ groove outfit from Los Angeles, California.

The White Blinds - Brown Bag / Muddy Water

Personnel

Carey Frank (organ), Matt Hornbeck (guitar), Michael Duffy (drums)

Recorded

in 2020 at Rich Uncle Records, Los Angeles

Released

as FSPT 1015 in 2020

Track listing

Side A:
Brown Bag
Side B:
Muddy Water


Whatever aspect of soul and soul jazz The White Blinds have chosen to tackle, they never fail to deliver. The trio, consisting of drummer Michael Duffy, organist Carey Frank and guitarist Matt Hornbeck, is a mainstay on the West Coast. They previously released their debut album Get To Steppin’ in 2018 and 7inch homage to Sly Stone and Charles Earland, Sing A Simple Song, in 2019.

Their latest “Homage” 7inch, a black (or shine orange limited edition) disc packaged in a blank sleeve straight from the jukebox era of lore, courtesy of F-Spot Records, combines hard groove with meaty soul song. Brown Bag was originally recorded by guitarist Ivan “Boogaloo Joe” Jones on his Prestige album Right On in 1970. The showcase for guitarist Matt Hornbeck is underscored by the effective rolls and steam engine beat of Duffy and full-bodied accompaniment by Franks. Hornbeck’s angular phrases work towards a rousing climax in a suspenseful manner. Brown Bag is a very pleasant dance floor cooker. The band forcefully flies through the modulations of the tune, the typically speedy Boogaloo Joe Jones lines and its self-penned, dynamic interlude.

On the other side of the spectrum, the original White Blinds composition Muddy Water moves with sensuous, Philly soul-ish ease. It might serve as kickstart to an evening of hugs and kisses, and it might have served, in another time and place, as the background to the vocals of the late great Sharon Jones. There evidently lies a genuine passion for vintage soul jazz at the heart of The White Blinds.

The White Blinds

Find Brown Bag/Muddy Water on F-Spot Records here.

Great Scotties

SHIRLEY SCOTT –

I doubt if there is any artist in the history of jazz that released three similarly titled records in his or her career other than Shirley Scott. Miss Scott furthermore pulled the rip-tickling trick over the course of three decades.

Shirley Scott is one of the most beloved jazz organists who sustained a prolific career including recordings for Prestige, Blue Note, Impulse, Atlantic, Muse and Candid. Scott hailed from Philadelphia, quintessential organ jazz town. She was married with tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine in the 60s and also teamed up with him in the studio and clubs. The gelling of Scott’s soulful and church-rooted style and Turrentine’s blues-inflected phrasing is very appealing.

The first Great Scott record was Scott’s debut album in May, 1958 on Prestige. By then, Scott had been cooperating with tenor saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis for some time, having recorded for King and Roulette. Their cooperation on Prestige climaxed with the jukebox blues hit In The Kitchen in the summer of 1958. Great Scott ’58 displays Scott’s versatility, ranging from blues to the modern jazz of Cherokee and Miles Davis/Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson’s Four. Her Prestige (and subsidiary Moodsville) records – a staggering total of 23 titles – are marked by the organ’s open, orchestral settings, an old-fashioned sound that I feel detracts from her playing but it locks tight with the alert and driving rhythm section of bassist George Duvivier and drummer Arthur Edgehill. She recorded prolifically with Duvivier and Edgehill.

Listen to Scott’s The Scott.

Great Scott ’64 is a different ballgame. Impulse coupled Scott with arranger Oliver Nelson, who created a lush, driving big band texture. Scott finally came around to a more modern, percussive setting of the Hammond B3 organ and her single lines weave in and out of Nelson’s swelling brass and reed harmonies. I personally prefer Scott’s Impulse period. It did not exclusively feature big band albums. Her live date at the Front Room in Newark, New Jersey with Turrentine, Queen Of The Organ, is a cooker.

Hear how Scott takes on Oliver Nelson’s Hoe Down.

Scott struggled through the 80s, which was a bad time for organ jazz, concentrating instead on piano and teaching. She was more active again in the 90s. Her solid Great Scott ’91 record featured tenor saxophonist Buck Hill, bassist Art Harper and drummer Mickey Roker. Nothing like the combination of Hammond organ, Leslie speaker and tenor saxophone, it’s like tequila, lemon and salt. Scott squeezed every inch out of the format for almost five decades.

Shirley Scott passed away in 2002.

Brotherhood Of Man (And Sisterhood Of Woman, but which?)

BROTHERHOOD OF MAN –

Way back when, during that period when most jazz musicians eventually gravitated towards New York, musicians from the same origins usually had a special rapport. Everyone more or less felt comfortable in the presence of a fellow Native from Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore or St. Louis, sharing the same memories and peculiar cultural sensibilities of their hometown or place where they had grown up. One of the textbook examples of this sensibility is the Philadelphia connection of the Jazz Messengers line-up that Benny Golson arranged for Art Blakey, consisting of the Philly cats of Golson himself, Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons and Jimmy Merritt.

If citizenship is a bond, and to a lesser extent still is, imagine how close brothers and/or sisters that pursue careers always have been. In jazz, there are myriad examples of family ties, arguably more than in any other form of art. To a child, making music has always been more accessible than painting, sculpturing, cinema, photography. Households most of the time (and the church without exception) included a couple of instruments. And it was common practice for parents to direct their youngsters to the available bands – marching bands and the like.

Before the advent of the contraceptive pill, families were larger than today and thus held the promise of a bigger amount of interfamilial musicianship. Nonetheless the postmodern era spawned a number of sterling sibling configurations. Over the course of last week, a series of names popped into my head now and then, and some I found in books or liner notes I had coincidentally been reading. See below:

Hank, Thad and Elvin Jones. Wes, Monk and Buddy Montgomery. Conte and Pete Candoli. Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. Cannonball and Nat Adderley. Bud and Richie Powell. Chuck and Gap Mangione. Lester and Lee Young. Jimmy, Percy and Albert Heath. Art and Addison Farmer. Johnny and Baby Dodds. Cecil and Ron Bridgewater. Michael and Randy Brecker. Kenny and Bill Barron. Ben and Gideon van Gelder. Wayne and Alan Shorter. Fletcher and Horace Henderson. George and Julia Lee. Kevin, Robin and Duane Eubanks. Roy and Joe Eldridge. Budd and Keg Johnson. I undoubtedly omitted a legion and I’m sad to say failed to bring in more than one woman into the equation. Help me out here.

To make matters more complicated and amusing, one need only point out the dynasty of father Ellis Marsalis and sons Wynton, Branford and Delfeayo. Indeed, the parent and sibling theme allows another round of pure jazz tidbit pleasure one may not perhaps view as pastime paradise but at any rate effectively kills time. There’s Albert and Gene Ammons. Jimmy and Doug Raney. You get the drift… Have fun!