Thursday, January 30, 2014

CD Reissue of the Month - "Ray Barretto: Can You Feel It"

CD Reissue of the Month
Ray Barretto: "Can You Feel It" (Atlantic) 1978

Rating: **** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Ray Barretto & Raymond Silva
Recorded @ Atlantic Studios (New York City, NY, USA) by Bobby Warner
Mixed @ Electric Lady Studios (New York City, NY, USA) by Ray Barretto & Dave Wittman
Assistant Engineer: Joe Cohn
Front Cover Photo: Frank Lafitte
Back Cover Photos: Rod Cook
Album Design: Lynn Dreese Breslin

Featuring: Ray Barretto (congas & percussion), Howard Schneider (acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, synthesizer), Neil Larsen (keyboards), Cliff Carter (synthesizer), Neil Stubenhaus, Eddie Rivera & Willie Weeks (electric bass), Richie Morales & Andy Newmark (drums), Carlos Cordova (timbales & percussion), "Little" Ray Romero (bongos), Jeff Richman (rhythm & all lead electric guitars), Hiram Bullock (electric guitar), Todd Anderson (tenor sax, alto sax, acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano)

Lead Vocals: Cissy Houston ("Can You Feel It," "Summer Sun"), Diva Gray ("Can You Feel It," "I Think About You," "Summer Sun"), Googie Coppola ("Stargazer," "Whirlpool"), Kelly Barretto, Michelle Robinson, Walter "Flea" Garcia, Chris Robinson & Ray Barretto II ("Stargazer"), Prince Phillip Mitchell ("What Part Of Heaven Do You Come From?")
Backing Vocals: Diva Gray & Alfa Anderson ("What Part Of Heaven Do You Come From?")

Blu-ray Audio of the Month - "Nina Simone: I Put A Spell On You"

Blu-ray Audio of the Month
Nina Simone: "I Put A Spell On You" (Philips/Universal) 1965

**** (musical performance & sonic quality)
***** (remastering)

Tracks 1 to 8 and 10 to 12: Recorded January 1965 in New York City, NY, USA
Track 9: Recorded 1964 in New York City, NY, USA

Produced by Hal Mooney
Arranged & Conducted by Hal Mooney (tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10) & Horace Ott (tracks 2, 6, 11, 12)
Piano & Vocals: Nina Simone
Guitar: Rudy Stevenson
Original Liner Notes: Roger Short
Photography: Bernard Gotfryd

Fusion CD of the Month - "Stephanie Lottermoser: Good Soul"

Fusion CD of the Month
Stephanie Lottermoser: "Good Soul" (Downhill Records) 2014

Rating: **** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced, Arranged & Composed by Stephanie Lottermoser, except "Overjoyed" (Stevie Wonder), "A Natural Woman" (Carole King & Gerry Goffin) and "If You Go Away" (Jacques Brel)
Recorded @ Downhill Studio (Munich, Germany)
Engineer: Tom Peschel
Photography: Lena Semmelroggen
Album Design: san2design

Featuring: Stephanie Lottermoser (tenor sax, flute, vocals), Sebastian Gampl (piano & keyboards), Sebastian Gieck (bass), Magnus Dauner (drums & percussion) & Joo Kraus (trumpet & flugelhorn)

Blu-spec CD of the Month - "Joe Farrell: Penny Arcade"

Blu-spec CD of the Month
Joe Farrell: "Penny Arcade" (CTI/King) 1974/2013

Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Originally released in January 1974
Recorded @ Van Gelder Studio (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA) in October 1973
Blu-spec CD reissue released on December 11, 2013

Produced by Creed Taylor
Recorded & Mixed by Rudy Van Gelder
Cover Photo: Pete Turner
Album Design: Bob Ciano

Featuring: Joe Farrell (tenor sax, soprano sax, flute, piccolo), Herbie Hancock (acoustic piano & Fender Rhodes electric piano), Herb Bushler (acoustic bass & electric bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Don Alias (congas) & Joe Beck (electric guitar)
After having recorded his first three CTI albums -- "Joe Farrell Quartet" (1970), "Outback" (1971) and "Moon Germs" (1972) -- with such famous sidemen as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Elvin Jones, Stanley Clarke, Jack DeJohnette and Airto Moreira, most of them suggested by producer Creed Taylor, Joe Farell (1937-1986) was finally allowed to take his touring band to the Van Gelder Studio in October 1973, when his fourth CTI album, "Penny Arcade," was cut.

With the extra help of Herbie Hancock, who had performed on the previous "Moon Germs" and would rejoin the reedman some years later on his debut for Warner, "Night Dancing," Farrell's group consisted of Herb Bushler (electric bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Don Alias (percussion) and Joe Beck (electric guitar). My late friend Beck wrote the frenetic title track, while Farrell himself contributed with "Hurricane Jane," the latin-tinged "Cloud Cream" (great work by Farrell on flute and piccolo flute, propelled by Don Alias' pulse) and "Geo Blue," with Hancock on the acoustic piano and a dazzling alternation of tempos and moods.

However, my personal favorite track is an unbelievable 13-minute jam version of Stevie Wonder's "Too High." Besides some unreleased alternate takes, the sessions also yielded a groovy Beck original, "I Won't Be Back," featuring Hancock on the Fender Rhodes, which Creed Taylor smartly saved for inclusion on Farrell's follow-up "Upon This Rock."

Five months later, in March 1974, Joe Farrell returned to Van Gelder Studio with his wild pianoless gang -- guitarist Joe Beck as the main "side-star" bringing all the fuzz box, wah-wah pedals and extra effects he could handle, Thiago de Mello's former bassist Herb Bushler and drummer Jim Madison replacing Gadd -- to cut three more tracks: "Upon This Rock," "Weathervane (both written by Farrell specially for the date), and Beck's "Seven Seas." The "Upon This Rock" LP picked # 24 in the Billboard "Jazz Albums" chart.

Although this is being marketed as the first "official" CD release of "Penny Arcade" in Japan, that album and its two follow-ups for CTI -- the much-sampled "Upon This Rock" and "Canned Funk" -- became available in the Japanese territory back in 2011, when Clinck Records distributed those three albums through an agreement with Wounded Bird, the company that had reissued them here in the U.S.
Btw, on May 22, 2008, Reuters reported about "Upon This Rock":
"Rappers Kanye West, Method Man, Redman, Common and their record companies were sued on Thursday by late U.S. jazz musician Joe Farrell's daughter, who accused them of using her father's music without approval. The lawsuit, filed by Kathleen Firrantello in the U.S. District Court in New York, names the rappers along with various labels owned by Universal Music Group. The lawsuit said all the rappers used portions of Farrell's 1974 musical composition "Upon This Rock" in three separate songs -- West in "Gone," Common in "Chi-City" and Method Man and Redman in their song "Run 4 Cover."
Firrantello is seeking punitive damages of at least $1 million and asked that no further copies of the songs be made, sold or performed, according to the lawsuit.

For the complete original article, please check:

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month - "Beata Pater: Golden Lady"

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month
Beata Pater: "Golden Lady" (B&B Records) 2014

Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Beata Pater
Recorded @ B&B Records (California, USA)
Recording & Mix Engineer: Mike Gibson, except "Wild Is The Wind" and "Golden Lady" mixed by Bond Bergland
Mastering: Dale "D-Wiz" Everingham
Photography: Marek Balata

Featuring: Beata Pater (vocals), Hiromu Aoki (acoustic piano) & Buca Necak (acoustic bass)

Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month - "Anton Schwartz: FlashMob"

Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month
Anton Schwartz: "Flash Mob" (Anton Jazz) 2014

Rating: **** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Anton Schwartz & Bud Spangler
All songs arranged & composed by Anton Schwartz, except "La Mesha" (Kenny Dorham) and "Epistrophy" (Kenny Clarke & Thelonious Monk)

Recorded May 30 & 31, 2013 @ Fantasy Studis (Berkeley, CA)
Mixed @ What's For Lunch Recording (El Cerrito, CA)
Recording & Mixing Engineer: Dan Feiszli
Mastered by Paul "Body Check" Stubbleline
Photography: Steve Korn
Graphic Design: Dennis Michael Dimos
Total Time: 68m

Featuring: Anton Schwartz (tenor sax), Dominick Farinacci (trumpet & flugelhorn), Taylor Eigsti (piano), John Shifflett (bass) & Lorca Hart (drums)
With Flash Mob, his first new recording in seven years, the expressive and swinging tenor saxophonist/composer Anton Schwartz delivers a disc notable for its well-crafted tunes, riveting ensemble work, and abundance of attitude. Schwartz's Antonjazz label released  the CD, his fifth since his 1998 debut When Music Calls and first since 2006's Top 5 radio staple Radiant Blue, on January 28. An audiophile recording, Flash Mob is available as a standard CD and also from HDtracks in high-resolution 96kHz 24-bit digital.

Presenting a diverse program of original tunes, plus one each by Kenny Dorham and Thelonious Monk, Schwartz is joined by a superlative cast including Grammy Award-nominated pianist Taylor Eigsti, rising Bay Area drum star Lorca Hart, big-toned New York trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, and the imperturbably grooving South Bay bassist John Shifflett (who has anchored just about all of Schwartz's recordings). As usual, the saxophonist creates unabashedly appealing music that bristles with intriguing ideas, unbridled energy, and unexpected rhythmic juxtapositions.

"I always aim to write the music I'd like to hear," says Schwartz, who for the last three years has divided his time between Seattle and Oakland. "A lot of great music out there doesn't hold my attention the way Stevie Wonder does. I like music that goes someplace. I write for my own impoverished attention span, and it seems to serve me well."

The drummer and longtime jazz radio personality Bud Spangler, who's co-produced all of Schwartz's albums, including Flash Mob, is not surprised that Schwartz's music has found a national audience, noting his gift for crafting "catchy compositions. They grab you and stay with you. He works really hard, and he's swinging his butt off."
Anton Schwartz  
One reason that Schwartz sounds more lyrical than ever is that he's keeping company with some of jazz's most accomplished vocalists. He plays a key role on Ed Reed's 2011 album Born to Be Blue and his well-received new release I'm A Shy Guy, serving as a thoughtful foil to the late-blooming octogenarian balladeer. He's worked extensively with the crystalline improviser Inga Swearingen, collaborated with many others such as Judy Wexler and young phenom Laila Smith, and, since moving to Seattle, has forged potent ties with the supremely soulful vocalist Gail Pettis and the highly versatile Greta Matassa.
The native Manhattanite (b. 1967) caught the jazz bug early and as a teenager studied with the brilliant but oft-overlooked tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh and the renowned clarinetist Eddie Daniels. Schwartz went on to study math and philosophy at Harvard University, though he found time to play in the school's jazz band, holding down the first tenor saxophone chair after tenorman Don Braden, in a section that included future jazz star Joshua Redman. Schwartz moved to the Bay Area in 1989 and had nearly completed a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence at Stanford when he decided to forgo the degree and devote himself to music full time.

An active teacher, Schwartz maintains a strong presence in both Seattle and the Bay Area, mentoring jazz ensembles and private students in both regions. He has been Artist in Residence at Harvard University and the Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony and is a dedicated clinician, giving frequent master classes and workshops on an impressive range of subjects, from advanced music theory to the physics of woodwind instruments, to the fine details of swing and phrasing, to the business of music.

"It's such a fun challenge to get inside another musician's head, figure out how they understand things, and help build them a ladder that will take them to where they want to go," says Schwartz. "Each time I make an album, the writing and the execution get more and more fun for me, as the process of creating and realizing a vision becomes more and more fluid. It's been a heck of a journey, refining my musical craft over the years -- and amazingly rewarding. To be able to help others along their journey too is doubly gratifying."
Anton Schwartz - Pangur Ban 
Anton Schwartz: "Pangur Ban,"
recorded in performance at Yoshi's, Oakland.
Schwartz will be working the following dates with his quintet in support of Flash Mob (East Coast dates are being planned for the spring): 
3/1 San Jose Jazz Winterfest
3/1 Pacifica Performances
3/2 Sonoma Jazz Society
3/4 Yoshi's, Oakland
3/6 Kuumbwa, Santa Cruz
3/7 Vitello's, Los Angeles
3/9 JB's, Sacramento
3/11 KPLU in-studio performance, Seattle
3/11-3/12 Jazz Alley, Seattle
3/13 The Cellar, Vancouver BC
3/14 Ivories, Portland
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