Archive for the ‘Jazz’ Category

Charles Mingus – Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956)

June 4, 2018 Leave a comment

I think this is one of the most extraordinary records ever made. The fact that it dates from 1956 is staggering.

According to Mingus’s liner notes from the LP of the same name, this is a 10 minute tone poem depicting the rise of man from his hominid roots to an eventual downfall due to “his own failure to realise the inevitable emancipation of those he sought to enslave, and his greed in attempting to stand on a false security”. (Nope, me neither!)

Nonetheless, this might be the greatest performance on the bass in history as Charles weaves his magic whilst always returning to that relentless walking bass line that just eats its way into your mind.

Utterly perfect.



Bobby Hutcherson – Catta (1965)

May 18, 2018 Leave a comment

I’m having a bit of a jazz jag at the moment and am working my way through three enormous guides in alphabetical order. On the way, I’ve already bought up 20+ CDs and I’ll be posting highlights over the next few days.

Why not start here? I’m not generally a big fan of the vibes but Bobby Hutcherson does a great job of avoiding too much showboating and with Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and the brilliant Andrew Hill on piano, the combination was always likely to be a winner.

Taken from the Dialogue LP released on Blue Note in 1965.

Eric Dolphy – Bee Vamp (1961)

April 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Recorded live at the Five Spot in New York in July 1961, “Bee Vamp” is a wonderful track written by Booker Little who plays trumpet on the piece (and who died 4 months later at the age of 23).

The band is led by the wonderful Eric Dolphy on alto saxophone and bass clarinet. Ed Blackwell on the drum keeps an understated beat going but, for me, it is Mal Waldron on the piano who steals the show. From an insistent, metronomic pulse, he suddenly breaks out into a wonderful solo from 7:17 in. It will be the best thing you here today!

John Coltrane – Alabama (1963)

April 6, 2018 Leave a comment

An extraordinary, brooding, spiritual, reflective and poignant piece by John Coltrane.

This track is taken from his Live in Birdland LP and was written in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing carried out on September 15th 1963 by the Ku Klux Klan in Birmingham, Alabama. Four African American girls were killed.

Despite the title of the album, “Alabama” was recorded in the studio and features a false start that almost makes the piece feel like two songs spliced back to back.

It gets no better than this.

The LP version then an extraordinary live version shown on the Jazz Casual TV programme back in 1963.

Nina Simone – Plain Gold Ring (1958)

May 25, 2017 Leave a comment

I’ve had a pretty tough week at work and, getting in the car tonight to drive home after the train journey from London, I had the latest free CD from Mojo magazine on the “stereo”.

This was the first track I came to and the quality of the song is just stunning. I think I’ve heard it before (maybe the Nick Cave version?) but it had never resonated as it did tonight. Three listens on the 15 minute drive home; two more after I’d “fired up” the home computer and its place in the pantheon of thebestmusicofalltime was assured (I’m an impulsive kind of guy!)

Taken from Nina Simone’s debut LP, Little Girl Blue, this is faultless stuff. An exquisite vocal (naturally), a stately bass line and shards of piano over the top combine to produce a minimalist classic. Sometimes, there is so little there to keep the music together, you worry that it will fall apart. And then, at the moment of greatest concern, Nina’s voice holds it together and propels the song forward anew ….!

This is perfect, peerless stuff. Unsurpassable.


Billy Cobham – Stratus (1973)

May 24, 2016 Leave a comment

There is a great deal of enjoyment to be taken from spotting the original from which a recent (ish!) record has been sampled or developed. For all who enjoy such pleasures, I submit to you the inspiration behind Massive Attack’s seminal “Safe From Harm” – the opening track  from their unimpeachable Blue Lines LP of 1991.

Billy Cobham had recorded with Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra before finding time to record his first solo LP, Spectrum in 1973. This is blistering, ahem, jazz-funk – a perfect example of how every genre can deliver the goods when it wants to.

This version strips away the 3 minutes of noodling that precedes the river of bass kicking in …  the full version and the whole Spectrum LP are worth a listen!












Art Ensemble of Chicago – Theme De Yoyo (1969)

January 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Sunday night, must be time for a spot of avant-garde jazz … and it gets no finer than this to my mind.

Part of the soundtrack to the film Les Stances a Sophie, this track features simply relentless bass and drums, killer trumpet and sax, and occasional vocals by the legendary Fontella Bass who was, at the time, Lester Bowie’s wife (he’s on the trumpet).

The lyrics are stupendous, if occasionally baffling …!

Your head is like a yoyo,
your neck is like the string,
Your body’s like a camembert
oozing from its skin.

Your fanny’s like two sperm whales
floating down the Seine
Your voice is like a long fuck
that’s music to your brain.

Your eyes are two blind eagles
that kill what they can’t see
Your hands are like two shovels
digging in me.

And your love is like an oil-well
Dig, dig, dig, dig it,
On the Champs-Elysees.

Simply never stops, utterly perfect!



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