Category Album Reviews

Album Review: The Joe Harriott Story

Jamaica-born alto saxist Joe Harriott was one of the UK scene’s most original, inventive and under-appreciated jazzmen of the late-‘50s and ‘60s. Although he died almost penniless in 1973 at the age of just 44, his work is now being reappraised and he’s being cited as a major influence on today’s younger players. Young UK jazz […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Terje Rypdal’s Waves

Terje Rypdal has enjoyed a very long and varied career with ECM Records. His guitar style is an in-your-face mixture of Hank Marvin-influenced wang-bar melodicism and jagged, dramatic lines that would seem more likely to come from a cello or violin. And whilst probably too much of a mysterious presence to be described as a […]

Album Review: Richie Beirach/Gregor Huebner Live At Birdland New York

Fans of over-the-top piano playing: this album’s for you. Richie Beirach should probably be a far bigger name than he is. A classically trained virtuoso, he has worked with Stan Getz and Chet Baker and also enjoyed fruitful collaborations with guitarist John Abercrombie and saxophonist Dave Liebman, whilst also focusing his own deeply personal solo […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Yellowjackets’ Greenhouse

It’s always a treat when an established ‘jazz’ band makes its artistic and/or commercial breakthrough after years of service. Weather Report of course did it with Heavy Weather, and Yellowjackets did something similar with their 1991 release Greenhouse.  Greenhouse was their eighth studio album. After several lineup changes – though always sticking to core unit […]

Steve Khan returns with Backlog

Steve Khan is one of jazz’s most underrated and distinctive guitarists. His unique chord voicings, intriguing melodic sense and subtle use of effects have illuminated work by The Brecker Brothers, Steely Dan, Billy Cobham and Joe Zawinul. Khan’s many solo albums across a 40-year career showcase his enormous versatility, from overdubbed guitar tributes to Thelonious […]

Tony Williams: New Lifetime Revisited

I’ve just had the pleasure of writing the liner notes for a new Tony Williams 3-CD collection, focusing on the mid-to-late 1970s, a period when the jazz/rock drum legend made some of the most electrifying music of his career. The albums Believe It, Million Dollar Legs and The Joy Of Flying showcase some brilliant drum […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Bennie Maupin’s Moonscapes/Slow Traffic To The Right

Mention the name Bennie Maupin to a certain generation of jazz fans and you’re likely to get a raised eyebrow followed by a sharp intake of breath. He’s pure class. His baritone, soprano and tenor sax work on seminal Miles Davis albums Bitches Brew and Big Fun as well as Herbie Hancock‘s Head Hunters would be […]

Album Review: Andrew Cyrille’s Declaration Of Musical Independence

Drummer/percussionist Andrew Cyrille has been busy mapping out his own musical territory during an illustrious career spanning over 50 years. Across a dozen solo albums and in collaboration with Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, David Murray, Geri Allen and Charlie Haden, he has been one of several key players who freed the jazz drummer from the […]

Album Review: Derrick Hodge’s The Second

Going solo is never a clear-cut thing for a ‘jazz’ bassist. And if you play electric bass, the issue becomes even murkier. Do you go the chops-infused ‘fusion blowout’ route, or put composition first and place yourself in a variety of group environments a la Victor Bailey, John Patitucci, Jaco et al? By and large, […]

Album Review: Zoe Rahman’s Dreamland

The pianist has a whole orchestra at his or her fingertips – that’s the theory, anyway. And therefore the jazz pianist has the potential to make the unique sound of an orchestra in ‘spontaneous improvisation’ mode. Duke Ellington was famous for approaching the keyboard in this way, and now Zoe Rahman’s sixth solo album Dreamland […]

Album Review: Jason Rebello’s Held

For a great British musician, pianist Jason Rebello has had one of the more intriguing careers than most. A key figure in the late-’80s jazz revival with his blinding licks and clean-cut looks much to the fore, he released a superb Wayne Shorter-produced debut A Clearer View (much more on that soon) in 1990, then followed […]

David Murray/Geri Allen/Terri Lyne Carrington: Perfection

Either a new Geri Allen or David Murray album would be a cause for celebration, but now the pianist and saxophonist have got together and released Perfection with the very welcome addition of Terri Lyne Carrington on drums. And if that wasn’t enough, the title track is a previously-unrecorded composition by the late great Ornette Coleman. […]

Steve Khan: The Eyewitness Trilogy

I’ve just had the absolute pleasure of writing the liner notes for a brand new Steve Khan 2-CD reissue featuring his three classic albums of the early ’80s, Eyewitness, Modern Times and Casa Loco, just released on BGO Records. It was an honour to work with Steve on this project. He couldn’t have been more generous […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Jan Hammer’s The First Seven Days

Jan Hammer has had one of the strangest careers in music. A gifted jazz piano prodigy, he started out backing up Sarah Vaughan before tearing off the top of his Fender Rhodes and playing some brilliantly deranged stuff with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. He then featured on some great jazz and fusion albums of […]

Album Review: John Abercrombie’s First Quartet Box Set

For some reason (could it be the name?) American guitarist John Abercrombie has never really received the same kind of attention as his contemporaries John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and Mike Stern. His career has been modest and craftsmanlike in comparison, starting out, in his words, as a ‘John McLaughlin rip-off’, playing on ‘some […]

Rescued From The Vaults: John Patitucci’s One More Angel

1997’s One More Angel was a stunning album in which Patitucci finally left behind the influences of his mentor Chick Corea and found a composing style all his own. A period of great upheaval and tragedy in Patitucci’s private life, outlined in detail in the CD’s liner notes, was transformed into some absolutely beautiful music. Featuring […]

Album Review: The James Taylor Quartet’s Rochester Mass

Here’s a real curveball that gives a new meaning to the word ‘fusion’. The James Taylor Quartet have always been known for their reliable brand of Brit jazz/funk but now they’ve come up with one of the most surprising and impressive releases of the year. Jazz has been fused with all kinds of music styles […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Vinnie Colaiuta (1994)

Stretch/GRP Records, released 1994 Most solo albums by sideman drummers are disappointments – not this one. It goes way beyond the call of duty. Vinnie’s obviously been a great listener during his time playing with Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Sting and Chick Corea because he’s assimilated their compositional styles, analysed what works for him and […]

Album Review: John McLaughlin’s Black Light

Settled band line-ups in jazz are pretty rare. The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Modern Jazz Quartet, Thelonious Monk Quartet (1964-1968), Medeski, Martin And Wood and The Bad Plus spring to mind. But now master guitarist John McLaughlin’s 4th Dimension quartet, also featuring Gary Husband on keys/occasional drums, Etienne M’Bappe on bass and Ranjit […]

Album Review: Christian McBride Trio’s Live At The Village Vanguard

When we think of ‘groove’, we probably think of funk or soul music. But jazz can groove too, and the new Christian McBride Trio live album grooves like a mother. 43-year-old bassist McBride is of course something of a prodigy, already a world-renowned bandleader and collaborator with Dr Billy Taylor, Sting, Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis, Chick […]

Working Week: Does Jazz Go Into Pop?

Excerpts taken from my liner notes for the new Working Week live album: Does jazz go into pop? Judging by the current music scene, the answer would appear to be an unequivocal ‘no’, but, for a golden period in the early-to-mid ’80s, it seemed as if the two styles could happily co-exist. Artists like David […]

Wayne Shorter’s Atlantis: 30 Years Old Today

It’s not easy to write about an album that’s so much part of your musical DNA that it haunts you in the middle of the night and yet reveals fresh nuances each time you listen to it. Wayne is one of my all-time musical heroes and has been since I was a teenager when his […]

Steve Khan On His Classic 1983 Album ‘Casa Loco’

  Drummers and bassists: this album’s for you. And it’s for guitarists/percussionists/fans of great music too. Put simply, Steve Khan’s hard-to-track-down Casa Loco has enthralled me and a whole generation of jazz and jazz/rock aficionados for over 30 years. The compositions and performances of guitarist/leader Khan, bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Steve Jordan and ex-Weather Report […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Weather Report’s Mr Gone

Dateline 1977: After seven years of hard work with a serious album/tour itinerary and drummer issues to rival even Spinal Tap, Weather Report, the legendary jazz/rock band led by keyboardist Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, finally hit gold. They had a dynamite new bass player in Jaco Pastorius, a US FM radio community that […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Lewis Taylor’s Lewis II

Soul music has a pretty rich tradition of ‘one-man bands’, musicians who have chosen to play the lion’s share of the instruments themselves thanks to liberal use of studio multi-tracking. Sometimes it’s a time-and-money-saving device, sometimes it’s a bid for creative freedom in the face of record company pressure and sometimes it’s a combination of […]