Concert Of The Century – A Tribute To Charlie Parker
In Nov. 1980, an all-star sextet filled with classic veterans performed at what was billed as “Concert Of The Century
– A Tribute To Charlie Parker.” While the heading was not exactly accurate since there were more significant
concerts in the 20th century and none of the songs played was actually composed or clearly associated with Parker,
the performances (only previously available on a limited-edition Lp) are quite rewarding.
It would be difficult to improve upon the lineup which consisted of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody on tenor
and flute, pianist Hank Jones, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Philly Joe Jones. The first
five musicians came to maturity during the classic bebop era more than 20 years earlier while Jones, a slightly
offbeat but inspiring choice for the drum chair, became famous a decade later as Miles Davis’ drummer.
While Dizzy had begun to gradually fade as a trumpeter starting in the early-to-mid 1970s, he sounds very much in
prime form on a superior revival of “Blue ‘N’ Boogie” (which is up to the level of his playing in the 1950s), a rapid
“Get Happy,” and a swinging version of “The Shadow Of Your Smile.” James Moody is in the spotlight on his blues
“Darben The Redd Fox” and the first half of “The Shadow Of Your Smile.” Moody and Hank Jones are surprising on the
latter, beginning the piece playing quite free before the theme emerges. Milt Jackson (showcased on “If I Should Lose
You”), Hank Jones and Ray Brown (who is in the spotlight during a medley of “Manha de Carnaval’ and “Work
Song”) are also well featured while Philly Joe Jones adds a lot of fire to the music.
Concert Of The Century is available from www.justin-time.com and well worth picking up.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
The discovery of “new” Thelonious Monk recordings is a very rare event more than 35 years after his death. Zev
Feldman, who could be considered the Sherlock Holmes of jazz since he has been responsible for quite a few rare
discoveries, was successful at locating Monk’s largely unknown and previously unreleased soundtrack recording for
the 1960 French film Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The movie actually utilized a variation of Art Blakey’s Jazz
Messengers on screen performing pieces by pianist Duke Jordan. However Monk and his group (with tenor-
saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Art Taylor plus guest tenor Barney Wilen) also recorded
music for the soundtrack, 30 minutes of which appeared in the background.
This two-CD set from the Sam label (www.samrecords.fr) has a program that was originally planned to be a
soundtrack Lp plus a second disc comprised of alternate takes, unedited versions, and a 14-minute rehearsal of Monk’s
then-new song “Light Blue.”
The first CD includes one of the fastest versions of “Rhythm-A-Ning” ever documented (with solos from both tenors), a
themeless blues (“Six In One”) which has Monk in the spotlight, a brief “Bye and Bye” (which was never otherwise
recorded by Monk) and a fine appearance by Barney Wilen taking the second solo on “Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues Are.”
The other songs include “Crepuscule With Nellie,” “Well You Needn’t,” “Light Blue” and three versions (two are brief
piano solos) of “Pannonica.” The second disc repeats five of the songs in different or lengthier versions plus the
rehearsing of “Light Blue” which, frankly, is not worth hearing a second time.
The recording quality is excellent and a very informative 56-page booklet is included. Thelonious Monk fans will
rejoice at the chance to hear these formerly forgotten performances.
Larry Coryell’s 11th House
Larry Coryell was the first fusion guitarist. He brought the sound of electric blues and rock into jazz during 1966-67
on his recordings with Chico Hamilton, Free Spirits, and the Gary Burton Quartet. While later overshadowed by John
McLaughlin and Al DiMeola, Coryell organized and led The Eleventh House, one of the major fusion bands during
1973-76. He had a wide-ranging career for decades that included straight ahead jazz dates, acoustic projects, and
virtuoso guitar encounters with McLaughlin and DiMeola along with his own original music.
The Eleventh House had a reunion during 1998-99 that included extensive touring. In July 2015, Coryell brought
back The Eleventh House again. This last version included two other original members (drummer Alphonse Mouzon
and trumpeter Randy Brecker) and John Lee who was the second bassist in the band of the 1970s. Because
keyboardist Mike Mandel was ailing, Larry’s son Julian Coryell took his place on guitar.
Seven Secrets can be thought of as a last hurrah for Mouzon, who passed away on Dec. 25,, 2016, and is certainly one
of Larry Coryell’s final recordings since he also passed on Feb. 19, 2017. However everyone sounds quite healthy and
energetic on this CD. The veterans had not mellowed with age and there is plenty of exciting guitar by both of the
Coryells, passionate Brecker trumpet solos, and assertive playing by Mouzon (who also doubles on keyboards on four
songs) and Lee. There is more mood and style variation than one might expect, ranging from explosive fusion and
electric blues (“Mudhen Blues”) to performances that are a bit more easy-listening. Larry Coryell, who takes “Molten
Grace” as a feature for his acoustic guitars, and his musicians are heard throughout in prime form.
Seven Secrets is available from www.savoyjazz.com.
Tenor-saxophonist Alex Weitz, who performed early on with the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band and studied at
the University Of Miami (where one of his most important teachers was Terence Blanchard), recorded Chroma, his
debut CD as a leader, in 2013. Luma is his second CD.
Joined by the up-and-coming pianist Tal Cohen, bassist Ben Tiberio and drummer Michael Piolet, Weitz performs nine
of his originals. He has an explorative style that is tempered by a cool tone (which could be considered a cross between
Stan Getz and Chris Potter) that makes his playing fairly accessible. Weitz’s originals swing but are not predictable.
Quite often, as on “Did You Know” and the two-part “Song For Peace,” the music is episodic with one theme and mood
leading to another.
Some of the tunes (such as the first half of “Song For Piece”) could almost be folk songs. The quartet, a little
reminiscent at times of the 1970s Keith Jarrett group with Dewey Redman, thinks along similar lines, using the
strong melodies and occasional repetition as the basis for building up their performances. The musicians pay close
attention to dynamics and mood variations and the music ranges from the haunting ballad “Luma” to the more
intense but still controlled “Equilibrium.”
Luma, which rewards repeated listenings, is a strong outing from Alex Weitz and his group that is filled with fresh
ideas and subtle surprises. It is easily recommended and available from www.alexweitz.com.
The Many Minds Of Richie Cole
(Mark Perna Music)
The great veteran altoist Richie Cole is flourishing in Pittsburgh. Ever since settling there, Cole has not only become a
major part of the local jazz scene where he works as often as he wants, but he has been recording a steady stream of
The Many Minds Of Richie Cole finds him leading a nonet filled with top Pittsburgh area players and, in two cases,
singers. Bebop, humor, unusual material and surprises are plentiful throughout this fun set. Cole takes his first-ever
recorded vocal during “On A Clear Day” (not bad) and performs a wide-ranging repertoire that includes “Plan 9 From
Outer Space” (a science fiction outing featuring the spooky-sounding theremin), a song inspired by an encounter with
a porn star (“Sunset’s Theme”), a crazy version of “YMCA,” tributes to Eddie Jefferson (“The Common Touch” and
‘Moody’s Mood For Love”) and Phil Woods (Cole’s original “Thank You Phil Woods”) and three songs that salute
Pittsburgh. Cole’s six-year old grandson Julian Barajas contributed “Shadow Man” and the youth leads other young
relatives of the musicians in forming a percussion section on “Julian’s Theme.”
Throughout this typically unusual set, Richie Cole’s solos are always enjoyable, the band’s spirit is infectious, and
there is plenty of joyful bebop. It is available from the CD’s producer and bassist at www.markpernamusic.com.
Urban Blues Singing Legend
Jimmy Witherspoon (1920-97) was one of the most versatile of all blues singers. He could sing lowdown blues like his
idol Big Joe Turner, swinging jazz like Jimmy Rushing, or ballads with a lighter voice than Billy Eckstine.
Throughout his career he alternated between blues, jazz and ballads while always sounding like himself.
Witherspoon’s life and career had many ups and downs. This four-CD set from the British JSP label has 108
performances, nearly all of his recordings from 1945-53 as both a leader and a sideman. Ironically Spoon’s first
opportunity to sing the blues had taken place in Calcutta, India when he was there with the Merchant Marine in
1943, sitting in with pianist Teddy Weatherford. Back in the U.S. he started a longtime association with Jay
McShann’s band in 1945 and appeared on some of McShann’s records. During the next eight years Witherspoon
recorded prolifically for such labels as Supreme, Modern and Federal. His biggest hit was 1949’s “Ain’t Nobody’s
Business” and he did well with such songs as “No Rollin’ Blues,” “Big Fine Girl,” “Falling By Degrees” and “New
Orleans Woman.” In contrast, the 1950s were a time of struggle for him as his brand of city blues went temporarily
out of style. However after becoming the hit of the 1959 Monterey Jazz Festival, Witherspoon was again back on top.
The JSP box is overflowing with great performances. In addition to pianist McShann, such performers as tenors
Buddy Tate, Ben Webster and Maxwell Davis, trumpeter Emmett Berry and Roy Milton’s band are in the backup
groups along with many talented if little-remembered sidemen. From lowdown blues to jumping swing, early r&b to
veteran standards, Jimmy Witherspoon excels in each setting. His delivery is classy, one can always understand
each word he sings, and he always swings.
It is gratifying that these valuable and fun recordings, which had formerly only been available in piecemeal fashion,
have been coherently reissued with excellent sound. Jimmy Witherspoon’s Urban Blues Singing Legend is highly
recommended and available from www.jsprecords.com.
D2L is a trio comprised of veteran hand percussionist Brad Dutz, his son Jasper Dutz on bass clarinet, and bassist
Bruce Lett. On Standards Return, they perform their versions of 16 jazz standards.
While the instrumentation may make one think of Eric Dolphy, and some of Jasper Dutz’s notes recall him in spots
(particularly on “Body And Soul” which starts and ends with unaccompanied bass clarinet), his style is more boppish
and melodic without the wide interval jumps associated with Dolphy. Bruce Lett plays stimulating lines behind the
bass clarinetist and gets some solo space along the way. Brad Dutz is mostly in the background, adding color and
swing to the music.
It is fun hearing such songs as “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “Besame Mucho,” “Take The ‘A’ Train,” “Cherokee,” “Donna Lee”
and an uptempo “Emily” played in this setting. Jasper Dutz is creative throughout while keeping the melodies in
mind, and the performances are mostly concise; they never lose one’s interest.
This excellent independent release is available from www.braddutz.com.
In Europe ‘56
Lee Konitz was certainly busy in January 1956. During Jan. 10-21 he was in Germany and France, performing at
over a dozen concerts and clubs and participating in three recording sessions, one of which is being issued for the first
time on In Europe ’56.
The long lost session which was made in Paris is a great one, matching altoist Konitz with such notable European
jazzmen as tenor-saxophonist Bobby Jaspar, baritonist Lars Gullin, pianist Rene Urtreger, guitarist Sacha Distel,
bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Christian Garros. During what is very much a jam session, the septet stretches
out on a 13-minute version of “Now’s The Time,” “Half Nelson” and Lennie Tristano’s “Ablution” (based on “All The
Things You Are”). It is a real treat getting to hear Konitz take a long, creative and swinging solo on “Now’s The Time.”
An album that was released during the era is reissued in full on this CD. Konitz and Gullin are joined in Koln,
Germany by tenor-saxophonist Hans Koller and a German rhythm section for eight numbers that range from cool
jazz and classical-oriented pieces to harder swingers. Also included on this CD are two live numbers from a similar
group, one song of which also includes guitarist Attila Zoller.
All of the music on this enjoyable CD is well recorded and filled with exciting moments. Lee Konitz fans (he is still
active today at age 89) are advised to get In Europe ’56 (available from www.freshsoundrecords.com) for it features
the great altoist in consistently inspired form.
Vento do Norte
(Apaixonada Music/BDM Records)
While the golden age of Bossa Nova was back in 1959-65 when Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto,
Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz made major contributions, the music has continued to be popular and evolve in the
One could imagine Bianca Rossini with her attractive and seductive voice tackling the Brazilian warhorses, but
instead on Vento do Norte she performs ten of her own bossa nova originals. The singer, who was born and raised in
Rio de Janeiro but now lives in Southern California, had previously recorded Meu Amor and Kiss of Brasil. On this set
(which is available from www.biancarossini.com), Ms. Rossini introduces ten compositions that are full of spirit,
cover a variety of moods, and always contain the irresistible bossa nova rhythms. She wrote all of the lyrics and
three of the melodies. While all but one of the songs are sung in Portuguese, the beautiful melodies, the infectious
rhythms, and Ms. Rossini’s warm and sensuous voice result in a set of accessible music that is certain to delight a
large audience. Highlights include the gentle love ballad “Doce Amor,” “Ipanema Paraiso” (which features tenor-
saxophonist Jimmy Roberts), “Why I Smile,” and the catchy melody of “Tic Tac do Amor.”
On Vento do Norte, Bianca Rossini stakes out her claim as one of the finest bossa-nova singers on the scene today, and
one of its most important writers.
The Dreamer Is The Dream
Chris Potter has been one of the most significant and stimulating saxophonists of the past 30 years. His latest ECM
release showcases him in a quartet with pianist David Virelles, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore.
Potter contributed all six compositions. His playing, even during the most heated stretches, always has a relaxed and
thoughtful feeling to it. He builds up his tenor solo expertly on ‘Heart In Hand” while keeping the music very much
under control. “Ilimba” has a Latin tinge and adventurous playing. “The Dreamer Is The Dream” is as laid back as
one would expect from the title, with fine solos from the leader on bass clarinet and bassist Martin.
Memory And Desire” begins with some strange sounds from Potter’s samples before becoming an intense feature for
his soprano. His tenor is heard at its best on the last two pieces: “Yasodhara” and the rhythmic “Sonic Anomaly.”
Potter really wails on “Sonic Anomaly,” driving the CD to its climax.
The post bop music on The Dreamer Is The Dream (which is available from www.amazon.com) builds in momentum,
power and passion as it progresses. It forms a suite that should be heard all the way through in one setting.
Feels Like Love
(Disk Eyes Productions)
Marsha Bartenetti has had many careers in her life including performing pop and r&b, working at Motown, singing
jingles, doing extensive voiceover work and, in more recent times, developing into a very appealing jazz singer.
Feels Like Love builds upon the success of her previous jazz CD It’s Time and finds the singer stretching herself a bit
more while still emphasizing the lyrics and melody of the tunes. She has a strong jazz feeling to her phrasing along
with a very attractive voice. Performing 13 of her favorite love songs, Ms. Bartenetti is joined by a jazz combo that
often features either Nick Manson or Kevin Madill on piano and either Pat Bergeson or John Morton on guitar. Some
tunes, including the swinging opener “Orange Colored Sky,” add three horn players for a big band feel. “Hallelujah”
(which utilizes a gospel choir) and “Heaven Down Here” which has three background singers add variety to what is
otherwise mostly a jazz-oriented set. There are also some unidentified singers added to “Alright, Okay, You Win.”
Among the highlights of Feels Like Love are fresh renditions of ‘You Go to My Head,” “L.O.V.E,” “Little Girl Blue” and
“The Man That Got Away.” While “Guess Who I Saw Today” has been revived a bit too often in recent times, the
singer does a fine job with the Nancy Wilson hit.
All in all, Feels Like Love is Marsha Bartenetti’s finest jazz recording so far. It is available from www.
Ulf & Eric Wakenius
Father And Son
Guitarist Ulf Wakenius, who was born and raised in Sweden, is still perhaps best known in the United States for being
a part of Oscar Peterson’s last group and a member of the Ray Brown Trio. He has also had a busy solo career,
stretching beyond the straight ahead jazz of Peterson and Brown and leading at least 18 albums of his own. His son
Eric Wakenius, who spent years in Los Angeles, has also developed into a skilled guitarist who in recent times has
toured with his father.
Father And Son feature Ulf and Eric Wakenius as an acoustic guitar duet. Their repertoire includes two versions of
“Birdland” which begin and close the CD (other than the inclusion of a final bonus track), the movie theme “Once
Upon A Time In America,” “Scarborough Fair” and “Eleanor Rigby.” In addition, there are tributes to the late pianist
Esbjorn Svensson and the great flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia (“Paco’s Delight which has some particularly
dazzling guitar playing), a song inspired by a great wind, the title cut (which is by Cat Stevens and features Eric’s
singing), the classical-inspired “Irish Vagabond,” and a traditional Swedish folk song.
Throughout the diverse but unified program, the two guitarists play with virtuosity, power, creativity and
consistent brilliance. Lovers of the acoustic guitar will find much to enjoy on this colorful set, available from www.
Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson
Honk For Texas
Throughout his career, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson (1917-88) was a double threat as a blues singer and a boppish alto-
saxophonist. He spent his life playing both jazz and blues.
Born in Houston, Vinson was a member of the Milt Larkin Orchestra for a few years before he joined the Cootie
Williams big band in 1942. In addition to his alto playing, Vinson recorded some vocals with Williams including
“Cherry Red” and “Somebody’s Got To Go.” After leaving Williams, Vinson led a series of record dates, mostly
heading combos although in a few cases he led a big band.
Honk For Texas is a four-CD set that in its first 2 1/2 discs contains Cleanhead’s vocal features with Cootie Williams
plus all of his own sessions from 1945-52. Every selection has its moments of joy with plenty of Vinson alto solos along
with his good-humored vocals. Among the 67 numbers (which include some instrumentals) are such songs as “Is You
Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby,” “Mr. Cleanhead Steps Out,” “Just A Dream,” “Cleanhead Blues,” “Kidney Stew Blues,”
“Old Maid Boogie,” “I Took The Front Door In (I Took The Back Door Out),” ”I’m Gonna Wind Your Clock,” and “Person
To Person.” While most of the repertoire is comprised of either medium-slow blues or rollicking blues (and one may
not want to hear more than 20 in a row), Cleanhead makes each number well worth hearing.
This box also includes 37 complementary numbers from tenor and baritone saxophonist Big Jim Wynn. Based in Los
Angeles, Wynn spent time leading T-Bone Walker’s backup band in the mid-1940s. He was successful in landing
record dates for his own group between tours, performing a brand of early rhythm and blues that usually included
hot and brief horn solos, a vocal from a sideman, and plenty of riffing and solid swing. There were no hits but his
records sold decently even if none of his sidemen became famous. All of his recordings from 1945-54 are included on
this set, everything that he recorded as a leader except two later singles. Big Jim Wynn ended up as a freelance
While the Jim Wynn selections are both obscure and enjoyable, it is for Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson’s exciting sessions
that Honk For Texas (which is available from www.jsprecords.com) is most highly recommended.