Sunday, November 20, 2016

The John McLaughlin Trio, 1989

This fine John McLaughlin Trio concert was recently unearthed amongst my VHS tapes. Even if the tape contained absolutely no information, either on it or on the filmed concerts, as TV stations usually do (adding a logo, a date, end credit), it's not hard to guess it's coming from the 1989 European tour whose London wing (November 27, 1989) was recorded as Live at the Royal Festival Hall.

My second guess is that the concert is filmed at Continental Europe, most likely Germany. (If it's actually from 1989, then its Stuttgart gig can be viewed here.) Furthermore, the footage is from only the first set of the concert and even this first set is incomplete, missing the first song which is Blue in Green by Miles Davis.

There is a tight, often exciting interplay between the players whose performances are interlocked in more than oe way: John McLaughlin on acoustic guitar, Kai Eckhardt-Karpeh on electric bass, and Trilok Gurtu on percussions. Even for someone who is not so keen on acoustic guitar/electric bass combination in a jazz context, in which case I'm one of them, Gurtu is adding enough textures to make the music completely worthwhile. Surprisingly, the music is more leaned towards composition rather than the improvisatory traditions McLaughlin had previously demonstrated in his live concerts.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Chick Corea and Friends in Stuttgart, 1992

July 1992. Chick Corea plays a series of concerts in Germany with his quartet featuring Bob Berg (tenor saxophone), Eddie Gomez (bass), and Steve Gadd (drums). The video I'd draw your attention to is from the Stuttgart stop of the tour. The band plays Waltz for Dave, written for Dave Brubeck, first recorded for the 1978 LP, Friends, with a band whose line-up was almost identical to this touring band in Germany (all except tenor player who, in the original record, was Joe Farrell).

More than a week after this performance, there's another TV footage of the song circulating online, this from Philharmonie Am Gasteig, Munich, which you can view here. 🔺

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

McCoy Tyner & Freddie Hubbard Live in Stuttgart + Interview

McCoy Tyner and Freddie Hubbard in 1961
A torrent of notes on keyboard and flugelhorn. Three decades after the photograph above was taken, pianist McCoy Tyner and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard are back together, this time in Stuttgart, Germany.

Freshly digitized from a nearly disintegrating VHS tape (while the image remains amazingly intact, reminding us about the virtues of analogue formats that at least allow for some sort of extraction), this exciting concert is the complete TV broadcast of McCoy Tyner Trio featuring Freddie Hubbard and Ralph Moore.

Jazztage '90
Stuttgart, Germany
July 13, 1990

Freddie Hubbard (t, flugelhorn), Ralph Moore (ts, ss), McCoy Tyner (p), Avery Sharpe (b), Aaron Scott (d)

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Girl With Sax Appeal

As it's been the case with many women instrumentalists from the early years of jazz, sadly, the name of singer and tenor saxophonist Betty Smith (1929-2011) doesn't mean much today. The cloud of forgetfulness has again cast its dark shadow.

Once dubbed as "the girl with sax appeal", Betty Smith started playing saxophone at the age of 9 and joined an all-girl touring saxophone septet when only 15. Things continued to succeed quickly: at 19 she was married to trumpetist Jack Peberdy; forming her own quintet at the age of 26 and expanding her touring activities to continental Europe and beyond until the 1980s when illness prevented her from further musical activities.

I don't care much about her singing, but her saxophone playing has that mainstream groove and sweet delivery. Case in point: a track from an RCA EP (picture above) featuring Betty Smith on tenor, Terry Walsh on guitar, Brian Lemon on piano, the husband Jack Peberdy on bass, and Stan Bourke on drums, recorded in London, 11 November 1957. It's called Who's Sorry Now?.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tete suite: The Art of Tete Montoliu


If what I've heard from a Spanish friend is true, then Tete Montoliu could be the only jazz musician who didn't need his ears. The story goes that this blind musician who was also an avid football fan, and listening to the live report of El Clásico had a religious significance for him, was often annoyed by the fact that he had to play gigs during the football match. He, rather ingeniously, came up with a solution: putting an earphone in one of his ears which was not visible to the audience and listening to the live report while playing his gig. But the story becomes very complicated when one considers that the Catalan pianist was also half-deaf!

Myth or fact, he was a pianist of outstanding virtuosity and impeccable technique, as seen on various videos of him from the 1970s and 1980s, some of which presented here.

These nice all-star sessions from Spanish National Television shows him in top form in his heydays with a remarkable array of American visitors. This is a superb homage to one of the most distinctive voices in European jazz.

Ron Carter (b), Art Blakey (d)
Barcelona, April 1981


Wynton Marsalis (tp), Bobby Watson (as), Billy Pierce (ts), James Williams (p), Charles Fambrough (b), Art Blakey (d)
Barcelona, April 1981

Billie's Bounce
Brief interview

Thursday, August 18, 2016

R.I.P. Bobby Hutcherson (1941-2016): World Peace

Bobby Hutcherson, the crystal-sounding master vibraphonist, is dead at 75.

An obituary on The New York Times remembers him as the "vibraphonist with coloristic range of sound":

"Mr. Hutcherson's career took flight in the early 1960s, as jazz was slipping free of the complex harmonic and rhythmic designs of bebop. He was fluent in that language, but he was also one of the first to adapt his instrument to a freer postbop language, often playing chords with a pair of mallets in each hand."

Bobby Hutcherson was extensively recorded for the Blue Note, both as the leader on superb albums such as Dialogue (with Andrew Hill and Sam Rivers) and as a sideman (always bringing a new identity to leaders' sessions) on indisputable modern classics of the 1960s, among which Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch! always passionately remembered by friend and foe.

After the end of his long tenure with the Blue Note, he went freelance, never stayed with any label for too long. However, one of his longest running projects since the late 1970s, was a touring all-star band, The Timeless All Stars, with Curtis Fuller (trombone), Harold Land (tenor saxophone), Cedar Walton (piano), Buster Williams (bass), and Billy Higgins (drums).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

John McLaughlin Trio in Hamburg, Part II

Last year I unearthed a VHS tape of  John McLaughlin Trio in Hamburg, 1990, which I digitized and posted here, alas, the second half of the concert was missing

I'm glad to say that the second half, lasting for more than half an hour, and featuring the electric Jozy (even though played acoustically), was found on another tape of mine which I'm posting now. Aside form Jozy, there's an animated, highly exciting Indo-bop sort of scat, which is rather excellent.

Richard Cook and Brian Morton on this band:
"[McLaughlin] is punching out rows of notes which are almost as impressive for their accuracy as for their power. The themes are no longer as obviously visionary and Eastern-influenced and the guitarist seem content to re-run many of stylistic devices he had adopted from the days with Miles Davis through the ringing harmonies of Shakti and back out into a more obviously jazz-grounded idiom."

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Motif Records

Listening to Phil Schaap's podcast on Serge Chaloff (Feb 22, 2016), I came across a remark made by the renowned WKCR DJ who after playing a recording by Chaloff, called it a production of Motif Records, "a Boston obscure 78-era label".

The recording in question from April 16, 1949, entitled King Edward the Flatted Fifth, featured Boston-born Serge Chaloff (baritone sax), Charlie Mariano (alto sax), Gait Preddy (tp), Mert Goodspeed (tb), Ralph Burns (p), Frank Vaccar (b), Pete Derosa (d).