Jul 20

Kenny Dorham – Afro-Cuban (1955/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 35:00 minutes | 1,29 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover | © Blue Note Records

“In preparing these hi def remasters, we were very conscientious about maintaining the feel of the original releases while adding a previously unattainable transparency and depth. It now sounds like you’ve set up your chaise lounge right in the middle of Rudy Van Gelder’s studio!” – Blue Note President, Don Was.

Afro-Cuban is the 1955 masterpiece by Kenny Dorham. The recording is one of the first well-respected blends of jazz and Afro-Cuban. The legendary jazz trumpeter is joined by J.J. Johnson, Hank Mobley, Cecil Payne, Horace Silver, Percy Heath, Art Blakey, Carlos Valdes and Richie Goldberg. This is a vital addition for any music connoisseur’s collection. Standouts include “Afrodisia,” “Lotus Flower” and “Minors Holiday.”

01 – Afrodisia
02 – Lotus Flower
03 – Minors Holiday
04 – Basheer’s Dream
05 – K.D.’s Motion
06 – La Villa
07 – Venita’s Dance

Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone)
J.J. Johnson (trombone, tracks 1-4 only)
Cecil Payne (baritone saxophone)
Horace Silver (piano)
Oscar Pettiford (bass, tracks 1-4)
Percy Heath (bass, tracks 5-7)
Art Blakey (drums)
Carlos “Patato” Valdes (congas, tracks 1-4 only)

Recorded January 30 (tracks 5-7) and March 29, 1955 (tracks 1-4) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ
Produced by Alfred Lion
Released as Blue Note BLP 1535 (Mono only)

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Jul 20

Kenny Dorham – Una Mas (1963/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 00:31:27 minutes | 1,32 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front Cover | © Blue Note Records
Recorded: April 1, 1963 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Trumpeter Kenny Dorham’s Una Mas was one of 1963’s best records. With its melding of hard-bop, bossa nova, and the blues, Una Mas is a prime example of the memorable vamps that Blue Note favored at the time, finding ultimate success later that year with Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder.

Dorham was a prolific recording artist for almost a decade before Una Mas—both under his own name and as a sideman for some of jazz’s most notable leaders. He wasn’t the flashiest or most aggressive player, but he had impeccably good taste as a soloist, and his compositions have enjoyed consistent attention from musicians ever since.

With Una Mas, Dorham takes a few risks. Not every jazz musician that tries to infuse Latin rhythms is successful, and in retrospect, some efforts sound contrived. By contrast, Una Mas manages the fusion seamlessly, leaving a record notable for its insistent but not overpowering rhythm, and simple, powerful melodies.

Una Mas is also notable as the first recorded appearance of the great tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. Fresh out of the Army, Henderson’s debut is unusually self-assured. A disciple of Charlie Parker, his playing here doesn’t betray any copycat licks; instead, he turns in a solid performance of beautifully constructed solos. In many respects his playing here is more adventurous than Dorham’s, a hint of great things yet to come.
The catchy and suave title track is one of the most recognizable tunes in the Blue Note catalog, built on brilliant economy and using a simple two-note bounce with a tight, blue chorus. Herbie Hancock contributes a particularly sophisticated handling of the two-note theme by modifying the chords almost continuously, even as he remains tightly within the rhythmic framework. The lineup, rounded out by bassist Butch Warren and drummer Tony Williams (only 17 at the time) is as tight and swinging as they come. –Greg Simmons, All About Jazz

1 Una Mas (One More Time) 15:18
2 Straight Ahead 7:18
3 Sao Paulo 8:58

Kenny Dorham – trumpet
Herbie Hancock – piano
Joe Henderson – tenor saxophone
Butch Warren – double bass
Tony Williams – drums

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Jul 20

Kenny Dorham – Whistle Stop (1961/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192kHz | Time – 00:38:30 minutes | 1,67 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Blue Note Records
Recorded: January 15, 1961 at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Whistle Stop is a jazz studio album by Kenny Dorham, featuring performances by acclaimed musicians Hank Mobley, Kenny Drew, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. It was recorded in January 1961 at Van Gelder Studio, in Englewood Cliffs, and was originally released on Blue Note Records as BST 84063 and BLP 4063. “In 1975”, Blumenthal states in the CD liner notes, “five British critics picked Whistle Stop as one of 200 albums that belonged in a basic library of jazz recorded after World War II”.

Kenny Dorham was always underrated throughout his career, not only as a trumpeter but as a composer. Whistle Stop features seven of his compositions, none of which were picked up later by any of the Young Lions of the ’90s despite their high quality and many fresh melodies. Dorham teams up with tenor-saxophonist Hank Mobley (who had recorded with him previously, along with Art Blakey and Max Roach), pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones for a set of lively, fresh, and consistently swinging music. This is a generally overlooked near-classic set. –Scott Yanow

1 Philly Twist 5:39
2 Buffalo 7:42
3 Sunset 6:22
4 Whistle Stop 5:56
5 Sunrise in Mexico 5:39
6 Windmill 6:18
7 Dorham’s Epitaph 1:16

Kenny Dorham, trumpet
Hank Mobley, tenor sax
Kenny Drew, piano
Paul Chambers, double bass
Philly Joe Jones, drums

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Jul 20

Kenny Dorham – Whistle Stop (1961) [APO Remaster 2008]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 38:45 minutes | Scans included | 1,57 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 760 MB
Genre: Jazz

Kenny Dorham was always underrated throughout his career, not only as a trumpeter but as a composer. Whistle Stop features seven of his compositions, none of which were picked up later by any of the Young Lions of the ’90s despite their high quality and many fresh melodies. Dorham teams up with tenor-saxophonist Hank Mobley (who had recorded with him previously, along with Art Blakey and Max Roach), pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones for a set of lively, fresh, and consistently swinging music. This is a generally overlooked near-classic set.

01. ‘Philly’ Twist
02. Buffalo
03. Sunset
04. Whistle Stop
05. Sunrise in Mexico
06. Windmill
07. Dorham’s Epitaph

Mastered fo this SACD by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio.

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Jul 18

Neil Cowley Trio – Touch and Flee (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 35:51 minutes | 721 MB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front cover

Touch and Flee is the new recording from Neil Cowley Trio, and marks a defining moment in the evolution of the band. It is their most daring album to date, spotlighting the ever- increasing brilliance of Cowley as a composer.

With long time band mates, Evan Jenkins on drums and Rex Horan on bass, they jump headlong into new territory to present what they describe as “our concert hall record” for an altogether deeper listening journey.

Undoubtedly, Cowley’s confidence and maturity as a composer comes from his experiences of past years. Where Cowley’s previous album saw him composing and arranging for trio and a twenty four piece string ensemble, his position last year as Musician in Residence for UK’s City of Culture saw him take a crash course in choral harmony as he composed and arranged for a choir.

Touch and Flee is the result of three gifted musicians who think as one, growing together, driving forward. A collection of tunes best savoured in a darkened room, at full volume. They demand attention, but as always, deliver to the listener the most blissful of rides.

01 – Kneel Down
02 – Winterlude
03 – Sparkling
04 – Gang of One
05 – Couch Slouch
06 – Bryce
07 – Mission
08 – Queen
09 – The Art

All compositions by Neil Cowley. Produced by Dom Monks.
Recorded by Dom Monks and Helen Broadhurst at RAK Studios, London.
Mixed by Dom Monks at Three Crows Studio, Somerset.
Mastered by Tony Cousins at Metropolis Mastering, London.

Neil Cowley – piano
Rex Horan – double bass
Evan Jenkins – drums

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Jul 18

Neil Cowley Trio – The Face Of Mount Molehill (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 45:43 minutes | 1,01 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Naim/HighResolutionAudio | Digital booklet

A dazzling composer and advocate of pure audacious melody, on The Face Of Mount Molehill, Cowley creates thrilling music defined by powerful rip-roaring riffs punctuated by passages of sheer delicacy. Recorded for the first time with a string ensemble, this album of deeply engaging instrumental music conveys passion and emotion that defy the need for words, looks set to launch the music of Neil Cowley Trio yet further into the listening public’s consciousness.

Neil Cowley Trio look, superficially, like a jazz trio, in that they comprise three men making noises on a grand piano (Cowley), a drum kit (Evan Jenkins) and a double bass (newbie recruit Rex Horan). But these noises rarely sound like jazz. Their fourth album, The Face Of Mount Molehill, features power pop songs without words, soundtracks in search of a film, exploratory minimalist miniatures, and the coolest TV theme tunes you’ll ever hear.

‘The title – The Face Of Mount Molehill – is a reference to the way in which I take mundane, everyday things and explode them into something epic and romantic,’ explains Cowley. ‘I am, basically, making musical mountains out of molehills. Little things become gargantuan.’ To assist this process the trio are joined, for the first time, by an eight-piece string section. It’s an idea they first explored in a one-off gig at the ICA for the 2010 London Jazz Festival, which featured a string quartet led by violinist Julian Ferraretto. ‘I’ve always wanted to work with strings,’ says Cowley, who co-wrote the arrangements with Ferraretto. ‘It’s my chance to be big and dramatic, like those amazing John Barry soundtracks that I grew up listening to.’

Alongside producer Dom Monks (engineer on Kings of Leon and Laura Marling, nominated for a Grammy for his work on the Ray LaMontagne album), Cowley is also assisted by Brian Eno sidekick Leo Abrahams, who provides subtle atmospheric soundscapes on several tracks. ‘Leo’s a noise architect rather than a classic guitarist,’ says Cowley. ‘He turned up to the studio with some ridiculous contraptions, like a box of springs, and ended up banging his guitar with a biro. All the weird noises you hear that aren’t made on a piano are made by him.’

01 – Lament
02 – Rooster Was A Witness
03 – Fable
04 – Meyer
05 – Skies Are Rare
06 – Mini Ha Ha
07 – Slims
08 – Distance By Clockwork
09 – The Face Of Mount Molehill
10 – Hope Machine
11 – La Porte
12 – Sirens Last Look Back

Neil Cowley – Piano
Rex Horan – Double Bass
Evan Jenkins – Drums

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Jul 18

Neil Cowley Trio – Radio Silence (2010)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 48:45 minutes | 616 MB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Naim/HighResolutionAudio | Digital booklet

Radio Silence is the sound of a band fully comfortable in their unique sonic skin. And if an album is simply a snapshot of a work in progress, then this is a perfect portrait, capturing Cowley and his co-conspirators in the right place at the right time. This is the record that he has been working towards, documenting the magical empathy of a unit, who, with thousands of hours under their belt have learnt to breathe and listen as one.

Described by Cowley as music for the ‘heart and feet’, Radio Silence shifts effortlessly between moments of poetic grace, rip-roaring riffs and Chaplinesque ditties that reminds us that for all his many influences, Cowley’s music is as British as ‘Test Match Special’, warm beer or a bacon sarnie. After all, it is Cowley who played the elegiac intro to Adele’s London hymn Hometown Glory and likewise, his own music is just as rooted in where he comes from. This is music born in London pubs, on stage at Glastonbury, in suburban side streets and the banter of the tour bus, with results that are as enthralling, heart-warming and gripping as the very best in contemporary music.

Take for instance, the gorgeous title track which invokes the sudden and stark realisation, that someone you love is no longer close to you. It is a deceptively simple but highly effecting tune propelled by the bands intuitive group interplay and conjures moments of sheer beauty. Elsewhere, Gerald is an affectionate portrait of a geeky friend and part-time guitarist who likes to ‘wig-out’ at the weekend, while the epic, blissful Portal expresses a child-like sense of wonder before the cosmos. Vice Skating is a lyrical tour-de-force and the raucous Hug the Greyhound is partly inspired not only by the impossibility of such an act, but is also a wry nod at his own manic energy levels, and it is this restless drive that pushes Neil Cowley Trio towards greatness.

There’s little doubting Neil Cowley’s credentials (he performed a Shostakovich concerto at the Queen Elizabeth Hall aged just 10) but the pianist has faced some gentle criticism from the jazz world for not cutting loose from his stylish, hook-laden, groove-based awnings in recent years. But as elegant and catchy as this third album from the ex-Brand New Heavies keyboardist is, especially on the glassy, contemplative opener Monoface, it’s the playfulness bursting from the piano ace’s fingers that should capture the imagination here – and prove he’s not scared of getting fresh.

Along with some delicious flashes of the minimalist, ambient ideas picked up while training as a classical pianist, baring themselves as silvery piano motifs on the terrific title-track, Vice Skating and glacial album closer Portal, it’s Cowley’s feverish flights of fancy that really stand out. Similar in style to the striking piano play that marked out the highlight of his 2006 album Displaced, the tumbling lunatic Clown Town, and those covers of Revolution No 1 and Revolution No 9 he recorded a few years ago, Cowley is channelling his improv spirit with real refinement.

When his music breaks into a massive grin, like it does on the thumping joyful rocker Gerald, with its furiously repetitive piano riff that snags the mind, and on the almost cartoonish Hug the Greyhound, which sees him hammering wild yet complex piano notes as if he’s racing the lean, galloping groove to the finish line before falling over it in an exhausted heap, this is undeniably compelling stuff. And Cowley plays his improv style another way, too. On Stereoface, his light, percussive melodies and gently freeform ideas dot the soft groove-based funk patter brilliantly.

01 – Monoface
02 – Radio Silence
03 – Vice Skating
04 – A French Lesson
05 – Gerald
06 – Desert To Rabat
07 – Stereoface
08 – Hug The Greyhound
09 – Portal

Neil Cowley – Piano
Richard Sadler – Bass
Evan Jenkins – Drums

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Jul 12

Shahin Novrasli – Bayati (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 62:39 minutes | 666 MB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: BeeJazz.com | Digital booklet

Shahin Novrasli is an Azerbaijani jazz pianist. Elegantly blending his classical knowledge, Azerbaijan’s traditional folk “Mugham” and his jazz influences, Shahin created his own unique and accomplished musical universe, where he combines eastern and western cultures. A gentle wave of exotic melodies, powerful and sharp harmonies, capricious eastern rhythms struck by an American Jazz lightning, majestic and vigorous.

Shahin Novrasli is an eclectic Azerbaijani musician, who – like compatriot pianists Vagif Mustafazade and Aziza Mustafa Zadeh – has built a reputation beyond his homeland for a tumultuous fusion of American jazz and the local mugam folk tradition. Novrasli was a local classical star in his teens, and his jazz virtuosity is often breathtaking – like Brad Mehldau’s contrapuntal-improv approach delivered at blazing tempos, or Herbie Hancock’s left-hand chording reworked with jarring harmonies and wilful rhythmic diversions. Novrasli’s themes seem informed by his folk roots and Broadway songs, and he loves rapidly churning ostinato patterns over rocking hooks, multi-themed slow-burners (the tune of Bayati Shiraz is a rumble of low chords, briefly harrumphing rejoinders and short bursts of whirling dance melody), soft meditations against left-hand walks that snap into silky, Bill Evans-like swing. His touch is exquisite and his speed jaw-dropping, and if his flood-tides of sound can swamp you after an hour or so, there are more than enough startlingly fresh ideas here, from a culture still relatively unfamiliar to jazz.

01 – Nocturne For Natavan
02 – 1001 Nights
03 – Prelude In E Minor
04 – Bayati Shiraz
05 – From Mill To Station
06 – Insomnia
07 – Elinde Sazin Qurbani
08 – Baga Girdim Uzume
09 – Autumn Of Love
10 – Fir & Giz

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Jul 12

Illinois Jacquet – Swing’s The Thing (1956/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 34:20 minutes | 1,38 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Front cover | © Verve Reissues

Swing’s The Thing is one of the first recordings by tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet. Recorded in Los Angeles in 1956, it features Illinois Jacquet on tenor sax, Roy Eldridge on trumpet, Jimmy Jones on piano, Herb Ellis on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Jo Jones on drums. These magical performances capture the genius that was Jacquet’s playing, backed by a stellar ensemble.

01 – Las Vegas Blues
02 – Harlem Nocturne
03 – Can’t We Be Friends?
04 – Achtung
05 – Have You Met Miss Jones?
06 – Lullaby Of The Leaves

Illinois Jacquet – tenor saxophone
Roy Eldridge – trumpet
Herb Ellis – guitar
Jimmy Jones – piano
Ray Brown – bass
Jo Jones – drums

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Jul 11

Keiko Matsui – Journey To The Heart (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 46:40 minutes | 538 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Digital booklet | © Shanachie Entertainment

Internationally-acclaimed pianist, composer, producer and humanitarian, Keiko Matsui celebrates her 30 Anniversary as a recording artist with her latest release “Journey To The Heart”.

Released in 2013, Keiko Matsui’s funky, groove-centric Soul Quest featured Narada Michael Walden, Marcus Miller, Chuck Loeb, and Kirk Whalum, among others. It placed high on the jazz charts and set her upon a world tour that resulted in 2015’s Live in Tokyo. Arriving in 2016, Journey to the Heart marks her 27th album as a leader and her 30th anniversary as a recording artist. It’s a much more organic set that places her acoustic piano at the fore. Her collaborators include bassist Carlitos Del Puerto, drummer Jimmy Branley, guitarist Ramon Stagnero, percussionist Luis Quintero, and Grégoire Maret on harmonica. Four of these ten tracks also include strings. Opener “Moving On” is the obvious single with its Afro-Cuban intro that gives way to a punchy, soulful hook. With its songlike melody, the guitarist twins her lines and answers her tags and bridge, building it all to an anthemic crescendo. If the track has a flaw, it’s that it’s not long enough. “Carnival” adds second guitarist J.P. Mourão. The gorgeous augmented piano chords, hand percussion, and samba vamp seamlessly meld Brazilian pop and jazz. The shimmering guitars bounce off one another in bright interplay before Matsui trades fours with Mourão. “Casablanca” is introduced by Maret (he also accompanies Matsui through the melody). The tune weaves North African modalism, flamenco, Latin jazz, and French café music in a swirl of fingerpicked guitars, a trap kit, and hand percussion. While the title track features a string intro worthy of vintage Hollywood, Matsui offers crystalline classical chord voicings before entertaining the rhythm section in a sprightly Latin waltz. A slide guitar break from Stagnero adds a hint of steamy blues to the equation. “Havana Nights” is a lovely rhumba – nearly hummable! – with fantastic co-action from the rhythm section, lovely arpeggios from Matsui and Stagnero, and a great conga break from Quintero. “Two Harbors” is another showcase for the interaction between Maret and the pianist. Their harmonic engagement is tender and intuitive as the rhythm section glides around them. Closer “Blue Rose” is classical crossover. It places the leader’s glorious Chopin-esque pianism in a solo dialogue with chamber strings. Played by this fine band, Journey to the Heart weaves strands of many different musics into a seamless, wide-ranging whole. This date doesn’t showcase Matsui as a piano technician (though there is plenty of that here) so much as a jazz composer, arranger, and bandleader capable of delivering gorgeous, imaginative tunes.

01 – Moving On
02 – Carnival
03 – The Edge Of Twilight
04 – Butterfly
05 – Casablanca
06 – Journey To The Heart
07 – Havana Nights
08 – New Beginning
09 – Two Harbors
10 – Blue Rose

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