A Consumer Guide to the Trailing Edge: November, 2005

Recycled Goods (#25)

by Tom Hull

This month's mixed bag breaks out into several clusters. With six titles, the largest is a sampling of the twenty or so titles from Sublime Frequencies, a Seattle-based label that scounges the far corners of the world for interesting musical knick knacks. Only a tiny percentage of the world's music ever reaches here, and that goes double for the parts they've assayed -- including many marks on the neocons' hit list. JSP has just two titles, but they're four discs each. They've long been one of England's premier restoration companies, highly esteemed not just for reissuing treasures in the public domain, but for their careful attention to sound. Despite the collapse of the dollar, their boxes are still bargains. A less obvious cluster are recently rescued, but still hard-to-find, gems (Kirk, Surman) spotted by Morton and Cook in The Penguin Guide to Jazz -- as always, an indispensible resource. Two more titles come from Buda Musique's incomparable Éthiopiques series -- I only wish someone would tackle one of the major centers of African music, like Nigeria or South Africa or Congo or Senegal or Kenya even, as comprehensively. Of course, there are more clusters, and more idiosyncrasies, but that's business as usual.

One more thing to note is that this is my 25th Recycled Goods column, and the reviewed album count has finally topped 1000 records.

Breaking Out of New Orleans (1922-29 [2005], JSP, 4CD). JSP's Louis Armstrong (Hot Fives & Sevens) and Jelly Roll Morton boxes have long set the standard for skilled restoration of vintage sound, plus they're much cheaper than competing boxes on Columbia/Legacy and RCA Bluebird. Armstrong and Morton are the most famed jazz musicians to emerge from the Crescent City crucible, but there were many others, so you can view this box as some sort of mop-up operation. Freddie Keppard, for instance, was the most famous trumpet star of the pre-Armstrong era, but barely made it on record. Kid Ory hung on into the post-WWII era when he was recognized as a leader in the trad jazz revival. Fate Marable, Papa Celestin, Sam Morgan, Louis Dumaine, Armand Piron, and others led local bands of note. They're all here, along with much more critical history. A-

Choubi Choubi! Folk & Pop Sounds From Iraq (1970s-2002 [2005], Sublime Frequencies). Scrounged from old cassettes and LPs found in Syria, Europe, and Detroit, this provides a short course in the music of secular, socialist, Baathist Iraq, starting with three cuts from Ja'afar Hassan sometime in the '70s through the Saddam era. As with most records on this label, this was assembled on the cheap, with hit and miss scholarship -- good to know that Basta, Bezikh, Choubi, and Hecha are distinct styles, since otherwise our ears aren't tuned that fine. What we do notice is that the sound is usually cranked up to the point of distortion, which resonates with the squelchy strings, hard beats, and harsh voices. Half of the artists are "unknown" -- the anonymity adds to the primal allure. One might hope that the whiff of freedom would unleash a renaissance in Iraqi music, but more likely that's been scotched by the tin-eared Texas oilmen and their shortsighted deals with the Islamic clergy. Compiler Mark Gergis worries about such things -- his booklet including a picture of an oud smashed in the post-invasion looting. Looking forward from the wreckage, you have to wonder what sort of madness it takes to make a golden age out of Saddam's reign of horror. A-

Either/Orchestra: Éthiopiques 20: Live in Addis (2004 [2005], Buda Musique, 2CD). Francis Falceto's Éthiopiques series provided a comprehensive survey of Ethiopia's short-lived pop music flowering in the early '70s, a period soon choked off by war and revolution. Now Falceto has come full circle with new recordings, both of Ethiopians and of western musicians who discovered Ethiopia through his unique series. A few years back, Russ Gershon rearranged several pieces from Éthiopiques 13 for his big band. That led to Gershon's Either/Orchestra playing an extended program of Ethiopian music at a festival in Addis Ababa. Starting with five west-meets-east pieces in which the orchestra's discipline doesn't tame the source material so much as muscles it up, it nevertheless keeps its African roots, especially thanks to guest percussionist Mulatu Astatqé. After that, more Ethiopians join in -- several singers and explosive saxophonist Gétatchèw Mèkurya -- treating the home crowd and tying up loose ends. A-

Rahsaan Roland Kirk & Al Hibbler: A Meeting of the Times (1966-72 [2004], Warner Jazz). Hibbler, best known for his tenure with Duke Ellington in the '40s, sings five songs -- the first side of the original LP. Kirk schmoozes adoringly behind him, playing flute as well as his panoply of reeds with exceptional restraint and good taste, then takes over for the instrumentals on the second half. Sensing the LP was a little short, the producer dug up a leftover "Dream" from 1966 with a Leon Thomas vocal. Ellington songs tie both halves together, and one of Kirk's originals ("Carney and Begard Place") has its head there. A

Taj Mahal: The Essential Taj Mahal (1967-99 [2005], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD). Born Henry St. Clair Fredericks. Father a Jamaican jazz pianist, mother a gospel singer from South Carolina. Grew up in Massachusetts. Moved to Los Angeles, where he teamed up with fellow musicologist Ry Cooder in a band called the Rising Sons. His early albums were neoclassical blues experiments, which over time he expanded with pan-Africana from the Caribbean, eventually going global from Mali to Hawaii. His world music is an odd mix, but his blues were so distinctive that by now he heads his own school. His key 1967-75 work was recorded for Columbia, and has been oft-compiled, most successfully in 2000 as The Best of Taj Mahal -- with 12 cuts duplicated on the first disc here, and "Johnny Too Bad" on the second. The second disc then sashays through his other labels, an idiosyncratic taste of damn near everything he's done. Only the first disc can be deemed essential, and for that the earlier comp has a slight edge. But he's interesting enough that the second is intriguing. A-

Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman: Song X: Twentieth Anniversary (1985 [2005], Nonesuch). Anyone even roughly familiar with Coleman's evolution from Science Fiction in 1971 up through Virgin Beauty in 1988 will instantly recognize the real author here. Metheny got top billing because he made the deal that got the album released. Likewise, the reissue is part of Metheny's deal with his latest label. This makes for some interesting contrasts that have little to do with music. Metheny has enjoyed rare commercial favor thoughout his career, receiving major label support everywhere he's gone. Coleman, on the other hand, never worked consistently with a label after his early Atlantics and Blue Notes, and often has opted not to record rather than to feed the exploiters. One result of this is that only two Coleman albums from the '70s and '80s are still in print -- making him far and away the most obscure genius in jazz. So maybe you don't know those albums? In the '70s Coleman started working with electric guitar and bass, producing albums that were true fusion -- in the sense that fusion produces new elements plus copious energy, not just a mix of the old compounds. Metheny had early on recorded an album of Coleman pieces, and had worked quite a bit with Coleman bassist Charlie Haden, so however strange Song X may seem within Metheny's crossover-dominated catalog, he clearly knew what he was doing here, and plays with exceptional skill. Haden and Jack DeJohnette also work to steady the platform, letting Metheny and Coleman cut loose. The result is a satisfying mix of old-and-new Ornette, a revealing contrast to Coleman's own 1985 album, In All Languages, where he kept his new and reformed old groups separate. The new issue adds six scraps that didn't fit the original LP length, putting them seamlessly up front where they warm up the themes the album proper extends. A

Putumayo Presents: Swing Around the World (1964-2004 [2005], Putumayo World Music). The ringer here is Clark Terry's "Mumbles," dating back to his 1964 encounter with the Oscar Peterson Trio -- a legendary performance on one of the finest records either jazz great ever turned in. Terry and Peterson both had connections to Count Basie, the gold standard for swing. Nobody else here comes closer than admiring the records. Yet "Mumbles" slips agreeably into a compilation where only one cut predates the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the best known of the recent wave of American nouveau swing bands. The "around the world" concept gets off in high gear with a good band from Zimbabwe and a better one from Mauritius, but after that they settle for old-time swing strongholds: the U.S., Italy (Renzo Arbore sounds like Bobby Darin doing a Dean Martin impression), and France (Romane keeps the spirit of Django alive). B+

Radio Pyongyang: Commie Funk and Agit Pop From the Hermit Kingdom (1995-2005 [2005], Sublime Frequencies). The Korean War ended in stalemate in 1953: Kim Il Sung failed in his effort to unify the peninsula under his rule, and the U.S. failed to purge Korea of communism. The shooting stopped then, but the cold war continued. The U.S. in victory had been gracious to defeated Japan and Germany, but the stalemate left both sides nurturing grudges -- even half a century later, when Bush accorded North Korea charter membership in his Axis of Evil. During that period, the U.S. worked to isolate North Korea, and North Korea in turn morphed into the Hermit Kingdom, far and away the strangest corner in the world: the only technologically advanced country untouched by globalization. Along the way Kim Il Sung's Stalinism evolved into a neopagan cult of "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il, a strange mix of Stalin's self-fetishism and the ancient emperor cults of China and Japan. Still, background can't prepare you for the shock of this sampling of North Korea's music. Christiaan Virant taped most of this listening to Pyongyang radio from Beijing in 1995-98: bright pop, light opera, kiddie choruses, other things I can't begin to identify. Propaganda, of course, but the edit doesn't go overboard, and the cuts avoid the jarring juxtapositions of this label's other radio mixes. Like nothing else. B+

John Surman/John Warren: Tales of the Algonquin (1971 [2005], Vocalion) Surman's early work -- under his own name, in a group called the Trio, and as a sideman with John McLaughlin, Mike Westbrook and others -- is remarkably diverse and adventurous, the work of an immensely talented young multi-reedist at a point when history when jazz in England made a sudden leap from trad to avant with scarcely a glance at bebop orthodoxy. But what makes this album unique is its size and sweep: the big band features six brass, five reeds, piano, two basses, two sets of drums. The brass is tightly arranged by Warren, mostly for color and power, while the reeds shoot the stars with an explosive series of solos. The combination marks an interesting midpoint between latter-day swing bands like Basie and Kenton, with their crack discipline, and the emerging free orchestras like Globe Unity. As such, it is a direction that few of these people explored further, making it all the more interesting as a period curio. A-

Briefly Noted

  • Mahmoud Ahmed: Éthiopiques, Vol. 19: Alèmyé (1974 [2005], Buda Musique): this makes three Ahmed discs in this admirable series; he was the closest thing Addis Adaba came to growing a pop star during Ethiopia's brief flowering in the '70s; this sits midway between the earlier Almaz and the later Erè Mèla Mèla, chronologically at least, all other distinctions being too fine to bank on; most impressive here are the long slow ones, which wend their way through trance-like grooves and favor his rich and subtle baritone. A-
  • Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass: Sounds Like (1967 [2005], Shout! Factory): with a couple of exceptions, this sticks to what they do best -- light, jaunty little instrumentals with some brass on top and a touch of that Tijuana beat; but when they stretch they're liable to get hurt. B-
  • Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass: Herb Alpert's Ninth (1967 [2005], Shout! Factory): cover pictures a smirking Beethoven, whose own "Ninth" proved to be somewhat more momentous; two minor hits, one from Holland-Dozier-Holland ("The Happening") more suited to Alpert than to the Supremes, a Sgt. Pepper cover, a comically inept stab at "Carmen." C+
  • Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass: The Beat of the Brass (1968 [2005], Shout! Factory): two vocal pieces this time, a #1 hit with the sweet but languid "This Guy's in Love With You," a big-time miss with "Talk to the Animals"; instrumentally, the usual stuff, leading off with a treacly "Monday, Monday," isn't even up to the usual standards. C-
  • Bill Bruford: Feels Good to Me (1977 [2005], Winterfold): the prog rock drummer par excellence (Yes, King Crimson, Genesis), like many Bruford eventually gravitated toward jazz; his first solo album is neither fish nor fowl, with Dave Stewart and Allan Holdsworth engaging in light, swishy instrumental rock, while avant-gardist Kenny Wheeler adds a dollop of flugelhorn and vocalist Annette Peacock sings or raps on four tracks; most interesting for Peacock, whose own records (with Bruford drumming) are highly recommended. B
  • Bill Bruford: One of a Kind (1979 [2005], Winterfold): second album, the group reduced to a quartet -- Holdsworth's guitars, Stewart's keyboards, Jeff Berlin's bass -- for the simple pleasures of prog fusion. B-
  • Bill Bruford's Earthworks (1986 [2005], Summerfold): this was Bruford's official debut as a jazz artist, although there are still minor additions of electric keybs and drums, and at least one piece ("Bridge of Inhibition") sounds like it fell off King Crimson's oxcart; Bruford's partners here are Iain Ballamy (saxes) and Django Bates (piano), both notable players in their own right, and acoustic bassist Mick Hutton, with Ballamy and Bates contributing writing; the two bonus cuts are the most pleasing jazz pieces here. B+
  • Bill Bruford's Earthworks: Dig? (1989 [2005], Summerfold): new bassist, but the core Bruford-Ballamy-Bates group remains intact, and they've continued to move toward the loose, slinky, semi-avant jazz favored especially by Bates, dropping the prog rock artifacts of Bruford's past -- still some electric keyb, but Bates keeps it interesting, avoiding the usual clichés. B+
  • Bush Taxi Mali: Field Recordings From Mali (1998 [2004], Sublime Frequencies): these are Tucker Martine's field recordings, the aural equivalent of home movies, not unlike the ethnomusicological tracts of the '30s, when the future third world was still presumed to be in its natural, savage state; of course, by now Mali's pros have moved on to Lagos or Paris, but this does a fair job of capturing the sounds of the folk, including simply picked kora, start griots, and crowds of children. B
  • Papa Celestin & Sam Morgan (1925-28 [1992], Azure): these are the classic tracks by the two key New Orleans bandleaders; the same music, plus or minus a track, is on the JSP box, but it's more tightly organized here on a single disc, with more documentation. A-
  • DJ Shadow: Endtroducing (Deluxe Edition) (1996-97 [2005], Island/Chronicles, 2CD): first disc is same as the original album, as brilliant and baffling as ever; second disc is called "Excessive Ephemera" -- true on both counts, but the demos and mixes and live cut make for more of the same, and he's in his own league even when it comes to throwaways. A-
  • DJ Shadow: Live! In Tune and on Time (2004, Geffen, CD+DVD): the music on the CD retains its interest, but I find the introductions and exhortations annoying, and the slight changes in the sequencing and mix reveal little; the DVD is not a bonus -- costs you double for the same show; the projector visuals add little, but then you don't get much out of watching a guy who makes his music by playing records and twiddling knobs either. B
  • Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (1959-66 [2005], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): back cover of the booklet shows Dylan on a motorcycle, possibly heading to the accident that ends Martin Scorsese's documentary; the soundtrack is filled up with live versions and alternate takes of famous songs -- particularly on the second disc, which adds nothing that you don't know already but still sounds magnificent; the home recordings and scattered folk songs on the first disc are less impressive, and more interesting for it. B+
  • The Edge: David Axelrod at Capitol Records (1966-70 [2005], Capitol Jazz): although intended as a tribute to Axelrod's prowess as a producer, the clearest picture emerges from ten cuts released under Axelrod's own name: elaborate quasi-classical music most often encountered in soundtracks, but possibly intended as prog rock; half the rest fit the same mold, including a heavy one from Cannonball Adderley that's as close to jazz as the album gets; that leaves three cuts from the inner fringes of r&b, the one that most admires Paul Robeson. B-
  • Duke Ellington: Volume 1: Mrs Clinkscales to the Cotton Club (1924-29 [2005], JSP, 4CD): RCA, which owns most of the masters to America's Greatest Composer's early work, hasn't managed to keep even a good selection in print, so thank God for England's recyclers of old 78s; the first disc starts in November 1924, and the early going is purely historic, but that all changes with "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" -- the first of several versions coming 16 songs in; the rest is history. A-
  • Folk and Pop Sounds of Sumatra, Vol. 2 ([2004], Sublime Frequencies): Sumatra's location in Indonesia's far west opened it up first to Yemeni traders, to Arabic culture, and to Islam, which then spread throughout the archipelago; still, it's surprising how deeply Arabic these '60s-to-'80s vintage records sound, and not just the oud-based orkes gambus that outnumbers half-a-dozen other styles; could use better notes, but compiler Alan Bishop seems more interested in exotic thrills than musicology. B+
  • Jazzanova: Blue Note Trip (1949-75 [2005], Blue Note, 2CD): a jazz comp disguised as mix discs, long on latterday soul derivatives, padded with hard bop, opting for vocals even when Horace Silver could more than stand on his own, with a few oddities thrown in to show they've done their homework; note that the choice cuts come from choice albums, and the duds don't. B-
  • The Essential Yo-Yo Ma (1981-2003 [2005], Sony Classical/Legacy): given my congenital dislike of euroclassical music, all I can say for the first disc here is that it gets the usual suspects out of the way and doesn't make me ill; the second covers Ma's world music -- tangos and sambas, bluegrass with Mark O'Connor, film music including Ennio Morricone, the silk road from China to Italy, even a little Cole Porter, who for the Paris-born Chinese cellist is worldly indeed; not everything works for me, but the cello holds it together, the breadth is impressive, and I wouldn't have heard "The Cellist of Sarajevo" otherwise. B+
  • Mizell: The Mizell Brothers at Blue Note (1972-77 [2005], Blue Note): the best of the worst of a once-great jazz label on its death bed -- Blue Note folded in 1979, to be revived as EMI's jazz brand name in 1985 -- organized as a tribute to producers Larry and Fonce Mizell; forgettable funk and lightweight disco, every cut with vocals, most with Donald Byrd trumpet; note that the only cut with any meat on it was previously unreleased (Gary Bartz, "Funked Up"). C+
  • Patrick Moraz/Bill Bruford: Music for Piano and Drums (1983 [2004], Winterfold): the two Yes men dabble in chamber music, with Moraz working the piano's rhythmic angles and Bruford finishing the job on his drumkit; three live bonus tracks are more typical prog rock. B
  • Patrick Moraz/Bill Bruford: Flags (1985 [2004], Winterfold): first song is full of poof, but this settles down a bit after that, with Moraz moving from electric to acoustic piano; pleasant enough, but both players were still closer to their prog rock roots than to their jazz telos. B-
  • Mutant Disco #3: Garage Sale (1979-92 [2004], ZE): leftovers following the 2CD Mutant Disco that inaugurated the reincarnation of Michael Zilkha and Michel Esteban's quintessential underground label, concentrating on their connection to Larry Levan's Paradise Garage, ground zero for the subduction of disco into the underground; too random and weird to work on the dancefloor, so random and weird you might want to listen to it anyway; recommended to historians: "Read My Lips" -- the dyslexic wit and wisdom of George H.W. Bush. B+
  • Putumayo Presents: Asian Lounge (1978-2005 [2005], Putumayo World Music): it takes extreme heat to fuse two elements into something new; short of that you just get a mixture, and here the mix is very cool indeed; Asia is a big place for such a thin selection -- India, Japan, Bali, not much in between -- with the synth beats and lounge singers further diluting the quaint strings. B
  • Putumayo Presents: Celtic Crossroads (1998-2005 [2005], Putumayo World Music): the Scots-Irish brought celtic music to Appalachia, where it hybridized with Afro-America to form the backbone of bluegrass, so its appeal has always been in its primitiveness; this comp goes zip for eleven on any such scale, its mild, prim progressivism even blander than Ireland's cuisine. C
  • Radio Palestine: Sounds of the Eastern Mediterranean (1985 [2004], Sublime Frequencies): Alan Bishop's mixes Arabic music, news blasts, advertisements, and radio static into a dizzying time capsule unique to its place and time; the music is certainly worth pursuing further, but it's hard to focus when the channel changes on you several times per minute; on the other hand, the news is best forgotten, but one line in English brought the surrealism of the '80s back into focus: "the Reagan administration is wary of a substantive summit." B-
  • Radio Sumatra: The Indonesian FM Experience (2004, Sublime Frequencies): captured live from FM radio stations in Medan, Padang, and Bukitinggi during July/August 2004, this moves us one step further from records that are already too far fetched to grasp; Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, appeared suddenly in 1948 as a thin veneer over hundreds of separate tribes, an artificial super-nation with no center or depth, so its music comes from everywhere, a melange doubly mixed up by the radio mix, only hinting at even greater strangeness. B
  • Radio Zumbido: Los Últimos Días del AM (2002, Palm): Guatemalan Juan Carlos Barrios uses small snatches from the radio like DJ Shadow, slipping them into the breaks between patches of electroriddims so subtly that you have to look out to notice them at all. A-
  • Run the Road (2005, Vice): a multi-artist comp of Anglo hip hop on garage beats, supposedly to show us it's not just Dizzee Rascal; but it still sounds like Dizzee Rascal, especially when it is. A-
  • Alan Skidmore Quintet: Once Upon a Time (1970 [2005], Vocalion): another one from the early days of England's avant-garde, with John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler more florid than you'd expect, and the leader channeling Coltrane. B+
  • Cecil Taylor: Student Studies (1966 [2003], Fuel 2000): Scott Yanow calls this one of Taylor's most accessible, and he's right: it's a nicely balanced quartet with alto saxist Jimmy Lyons framing the pieces and helpful contributions from Alan Silva and Andrew Cyrille, with Taylor's atonal piano locked in a politely conventional framework; on the other hand, Taylor's most exciting records come when he breaks out and smashes up the place. B+
  • Ten in Texas (2005, Icehouse Music): Ray Benson (Asleep at the Wheel) produced, with special thanks to Dixie Chicks paterfamilias Lloyd Maines; the concept is ten new recordings of ten old Texas songs by ten Texas performers; standout tracks: Ruthie Foster spicing up "Texas Cooking," and Dale Watson's deep baritone on "The Grand Tour" -- compared to these, Willie seems like an afterthought; but I don't get why they're doing this (or why they stopped at ten when twenty would've fit and wouldn't have been a stretch) -- maybe penance for the state's politicians? B+
  • Marion Williams: Remember Me (1968-92 [2005], Shanachie): an amazing gospel voice -- if anyone could wake God from the dead it would be her -- but she can be so overpowering I often feel battered and bruised rather than uplifted; this is Shanachie's third selection from her career, with twelve tracks previously unreleased, so this feels a bit picked over; but its predecessor, The Gospel Soul of Marion Williams, is no better or worse. B+
  • Mary Lou Williams: Mary Lou's Mass (1969-72 [2005], Smithsonian/Folkways): I find this unlistenable, which is a shame given how marvelous the few wordless pieces can be; written for choreographer Alvin Ailey, fragments whose drama is meant to be seen flounder like opera without the visual action, and the overbearing religiosity adds the dead weight of otherworldliness when the initial title, "Music for Peace," should do us more good in the here and now. B
  • ZE Records Presents: Undercover (1979-2004 [2004], ZE): all covers, mostly from ZE's 1979-83 heyday when the label encompassed no waver Alan Vega, postmodernist Don Was, zoot suiter August Darnell, mutant saxist James Chance, and various art-damaged poseurs like the marvelous Cristina; there's no common style other than a high level of outrage or in-joking or both, applied to a canon as diverse as "You Go to My Head," "Money," "Lili Marlene," and "Tropical Hot Dog Night." B+
  • ZE Xmas Record Reloaded 2004 (1981-2004 [2004], ZE): like Phil Spector's Xmas album, Michael Zilkha's was a joke showcase for his label artists, but whereas Philles was all Phil, ZE's stable was stocked mostly with bomb throwing anarchists; the three new cuts are by far the most conventional, giving creedence to the notion that we've grown far less adventurous than we were a quarter century ago, but the balance, inconsistent and unruly, is unlike any other Xmas album ever; choice cut: James White, "Christmas With Satan." B

Additional Consumer News

Two to three years back Fantasy released a series of The Best of X records, where X was a major jazz artist. The discs were stuffed, up in the 75-80 minute range, making them nice introductory samplers. Since Concord merged with (or submerged) Fantasy, they've decided to relaunch part of this series -- specifically, the titles that were based primarily on Bob Weinstock's Prestige label. Prestige was an important label in the '50s and '60s, but they were notorious for recording quickie jam sessions on the cheap. Some were marvelous anyway -- Miles Davis, for instance, spent two days recording what turned out to be four albums just to wiggle out of his contract: Cookin', Relaxin', Workin' and Steamin', hard bop classics all. The reissues have been redubbed Prestige Profiles, each with a bonus "sampler" disc -- average length 48 minutes, each unique. As the main discs are identical to the old ones, I'll list the ones I've previously reviewed below, omitting those I haven't heard (Kenny Burrell, Miles Davis, Red Garland, and bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins). While I don't feel that the samplers have much value -- but then I dare say my jazz collection is bigger than yours -- one plus is that the new titles are accurate: regardless of how good the music is, none of the major artists actually did their best work on Prestige (possible exception: Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus).

  • John Coltrane: Prestige Profiles (1956-58 [2005], Prestige): before he emerged as the dominant saxophonist of his generation. B+
  • Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: Prestige Profiles (1958-62 [2005], Prestige): a good digest from a period when he concentrated on soul jazz jams, mostly with organist Shirley Scott. A-
  • Eric Dolphy: Prestige Profiles (1960-61 [2005], Prestige): more famous as a sideman, died young, making his string of records for Prestige all the more valuable; features brilliant trumpeter Booker Little, who died even younger. A-
  • Coleman Hawkins: Prestige Profiles (1958-62 [2005], Prestige): late, but still a magesterial performer. A-
  • Jackie McLean: Prestige Profiles (1956-57 [2005], Prestige): a useful summary of his early blues-based bop style, before his major work on Blue Note. A-
  • Sonny Rollins: Prestige Profiles (1951-56 [2005], Prestige): his early work, culminating in Saxophone Colossus. A-


In an infinite universe, all the music you'll ever need already exists somewhere. We find more each month: jazz old (New Orleans, Duke Ellington), advanced (John Surman, Ornette Coleman, Roland Kirk, Cecil Taylor), and pop (Herb Alpert, Jazzanova); roots (Taj Mahal) and rubes (Bob Dylan); Sublime Frequencies from the arc of chaos (Iraq, North Korea, Palestine, Mali, Indonesia); many more (50 records).

Copyright © 2005 Tom Hull.