A Consumer Guide to the Trailing Edge: September, 2007

Recycled Goods (#47)

by Tom Hull

I try to cover as much world music as possible, but like everything else that depends on the good graces of the labels and their publicists. Such good graces aren't equitably distributed. Two labels put out a large percentage of the themed anthologies that provide most people their gateway to world music. One is World Music Network, based in England, and best known for their Rough Guide series. The other is Putumayo World Music, based in the US, in New York. One treats me royally, so I've managed to review 44 Putumayo titles. The other won't give me the time of day, despite the fact that I've managed to scrape together reviews of 26 Rough Guide and a few more World Music Network titles. I wish I could say that Putumayo has a better series, but on average, and more importantly at best, they don't. The Rough Guides are more densely packed and much more likely to find lost gems. Putumayo likes to limit their licensing costs to 11-12 titles, often picks newish tracks smacking of cross-promotion, and sticks to a sanitized easy-listening vibe reflected in their cover art. The Rough Guides are, in a word, rougher. Still, I have more than the publicist to gripe about. Neither series is documented as well as I'd like, but that seems worse with them because they also publish books -- which, by the way, have the same discographic flaws -- and because their stance is to take you there, whereas Putumayo is more interested in bringing it to you. This month I happen to have a handful of both, including a couple of matching cases. Putumayo even fares better on Americana and Arabesque -- Putumayo's previously reviewed Sahara Lounge, North African Groove, and Turkish Groove albums were solid B+ mostly on flow. (On the other hand, the previously reviewed Rough Guide to Israel also has a B+ edge. Haven't heard Rough Guide to Salsa de Puerto Rico.) Of course, having said all this, I've probably ticked both labels off all the more. What's a critic to do?

John Coltrane: Fearless Leader (1957-58 [2006], Prestige, 6CD): Trane's claim to genius conventionally starts with his aptly named 1959 Atlantic debut, Giant Steps, and extends through his universally acclaimed 1964 Impulse! masterpiece, A Love Supreme, or possibly up to his death in 1967, depending on how far out you're willing to go. In the early '50s Coltrane tended to be written off as a Dexter Gordon wannabe, but in 1956 he made a series of appearances that could eventually be seen as prophetic: playing in the Miles Davis Quintet, the Thelonious Monk Quartet, and sparring with Sonny Rollins on Tenor Madness. Between '56 and '59, Coltrane recorded massive amounts for Prestige -- the sessions were eventually collected in a 16-CD box, which by all accounts is a minimally interesting hodgepodge of leader and side sets. It's easy enough to blame Prestige: they may be viewed as a major independent label of the era, but at the time they specialized in quick and dirty: just round up a few guys and reel off some standards, often holding them on the shelf and raiding them after the artist had gone on to greener pastures -- Coltrane's 1957-58 records kept appearing through 1965. Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins managed to record great albums on Prestige anyway, but Coltrane didn't join them until later, when he figured out modal improvisation, found his distinctive eternal search sound, and felt the full brunt of the avant-garde. Searching his Prestige records for that post-1959 development is unrewarding, the big box de trop and the individual titles too slight. But this far more selective box, packing 11 LPs into 6 CDs, gives us a chance at last to savor his post-1956 plateau: at this point he's still a straight shooter, with fast and assured bebop riffing and an authoritative voice for blues and ballads. He still can't tear a standard apart like Hawkins or Rollins, but he's achieved the next tier down, reliably turning out memorable versions. And frequent collaborator Red Garland gives him steadying support. Another big plus is the booklet, especially the indexes by session and album -- as useful as any box booklet I've seen. A-

Andrew Hill: Change (1966 [2007], Blue Note): The fine print notes that this, minus two alternate takes, was originally issued under Sam Rivers' name as half of the 1976 2-LP Involution. That it should now revert to Hill's catalogue reflects the changing fortunes of the principals. Hill was a pet project of Francis Wolf in the '60s, but much recorded then went unreleased at the time, including this quartet with Rivers. From the late '90s, Hill mounted quite a comeback, with two much admired albums on Palmetto and a return to Blue Note, Time Lines, which swept most jazz critic polls in 2006. I'm not a huge fan of the late albums, but they've led to a massive reissue of Hill's 1963-69 Blue Note period, which has if anything grown in stature. Rivers' career actually parallels Hill's quite nicely, with Blue Note in the '60s, a long stretch in the wilderness, and a comeback in 1999, with two large ensemble albums, Inspiration and Culmination, released on RCA. Hill died in 2007, but Rivers carries on in his 80s, with an exemplary trio album, Violet Violets (Stunt) in 2004. Still, it is appropriate to restore this session to Hill's ledger: he wrote all of the pieces, and once you get past the ugliness of an 11:04 opener called "Violence" the sax calms down and the piano emerges, as impressive as ever. A-

Ricky Jay Plays Poker (1914-2001 [2006], Octone/Legacy, CD+DVD): In a fancy box, with a 66-page booklet, full of remarkable illustrations and casually dispensed expertise but somewhat lacking in discographical details, with a deck of cards to justify its thickness. The DVD itself is a little thin, running 29:47, with Jay dealing from the top, bottom and sides of the deck, demonstrating card tricks and cons. The CD, on the other hand, is a remarkable exercise, holding tight on subject while playing loose with genres -- the extremes are Bert Williams' 1914 "Darktown Poker Club" skit, sped up to song form by Phil Harris in 1946, and a 1991 piece of Saint Etienne techno built around sample dialog from Jay and Joey Mantegna, hustling in the David Mamet movie House of Games. Blues and country-folk predominate, with bits from Anita O'Day, Lorne Greene, and the Broadway cast of Fiorello! uncanny exceptions. List price $39.98. B+

Steve Lacy Quintet: Esteem (1975 [2006], Atavistic): After fifty prolific years, the soprano sax legend's posthumous career gets underway with widow Irène Aëbi sorting through some 300 private cassettes for a series titled "The Leap." The first installment is a raw and deliciously noisy quintet, with Steve Potts doubling the sax on alto and second soprano, plug ugly bass and drums, and Aëbi herself. I never could stand her arch vocals, but here she reveals acid wit on cello and violin. The series may wear thin in time, but it's started off with a bang. A-

Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd Quartet: Early and Late (1962-2002 [2007], Cuneiform, 2CD): One thing that distinguished both Lacy and Rudd is that they vaulted directly from trad jazz to the avant-garde, pausing only to snatch up the songbooks of Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols. Instrumentation had something to do with this: before Lacy, the only known soprano sax master was Sidney Bechet, while, pace J.J. Johnson, the trombone had long been a New Orleans staple for dirtying up the lead trumpet -- Louis Armstrong never went anywhere without a Kid Ory or Trummy Young or Jack Teagarden. The first Lacy-Rudd quartet only cut one album, School Days (1963), but it was landmark enough that Ken Vandermark named his trombone-powered pianoless quartet after it. The four early cuts here are unreleased demos -- three takes on Monk and one on Cecil Taylor -- and they are major finds, keys to how to turn a song inside out and make something new of it. The group broke up with Lacy moving to France and Rudd teaming up with Archie Shepp and others before fading into obscurity. Finally, they regrouped for tours in 1999 and 2002, with a new album, Monk's Dream. The balance here are live shots from the tours -- long pieces, mostly Lacy's improv frameworks, plus Monk and Nichols and a sprightly pseudo-African riff from Rudd. They don't blow you away so much as they resonate with the authoritative voices of two major careers bound together at their ends. A-

The Essential John McLaughlin (1963-2006 [2007], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): By the time the second cut finished my mind was entertaining comparisons between McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix. They were both born in 1942. By 1970, when Hendrix checked out, McLaughlin had reached a pinnacle in jazz guitar, both denser and fancier than anyone else around, Hendrix included. The first disc here, with one oldie from 1963 and an intense flurry of activity from 1969-72, makes the case, although numerous other selections would have done just as well. The rest of McLaughlin's career wandered idiosyncratically, embracing Indian music, going acoustic, hooking up with symphony orchestras, and occasionally returning to heavy metal fusion. The second disc neither shapes nor makes sense of 35 years. Rather, it just lays out samples and challenges your ears to pick out the guitar. Turns out that works better than expected, too. A-

Charles Mingus Sextet With Eric Dolphy: Cornell 1964 (1964 [2007], Blue Note, 2CD): A cause celebre, a newly discovered tape with what on paper at least looks like one of Mingus's most promising groups: Dannie Richmond on drums, of course; Jaki Byard on piano; Johnny Coles on trumpet; Clifford Jordan on tenor sax; and elevated to near-headliner status, Dolphy on alto sax, flute, and bass clarinet. Dolphy's last year is worth examining under a microscope -- his masterpiece, Out to Lunch, was recorded a month earlier, and he died three months later, barely 36. Mingus was a year beyond one of his own masterpieces, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Ever since the promo arrived, I've been reading rapturous reviews: "his greatest small ensemble"; "most adventurous sextet"; "at the apex of its brief yet astonishing collaboration"; "a relaxed maestro at the height of his imaginative powers"; "it truly needs to be heard to be believed"; "the most talked-about jazz album of the year." Or as Gary Giddins summed up in his liner notes, "It doesn't get much better than this." Actually, it does. The most direct comparison is the same band's Town Hall Concert, recorded 17 days later: much shorter, but it captures the two essential new pieces in fuller flower, with more imposing sound. Then there's the Paris concert two weeks hence, given an official release as Revenge! by Sue Mingus in 1996, fuming over the bootleggers who made the European tour the most intensively documented Mingus group ever. Still, for sheer exuberance and panache, nothing by this sextet rivals Mingus at Antibes (1960) or Mingus at Carnegie Hall (1974). So don't believe the hype. On the other hand, this is about as good as, and somewhat more amusing than, the rival boots, and will at least spare you Sue's wrath. It starts with Byard doing his Art Tatum impression, and ends throwing out "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and "Jitterbug Waltz"; the serious stuff in the middle includes a long "Fables of Faubus" serving as an introduction to the similarly inspired "Meditations"; and best of all, the first side ends with a rousing "Take the 'A' Train," with a monster bass clarinet solo -- Dolphy established the instrument for jazz, and here you can hear why. B+

Maria Muldaur: Naughty Bawdy & Blue (2007, Stony Plain): She sizzles when her handy man greases her griddle, but for a singer who's often put her libido first, this is less risqué than the title promises. The booklet includes respectful sketches of the first wave of what's now called classic female blues: Ma Rainey, Victoria Spivey, Sippie Wallace, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Ethel Waters, Alberta Hunter, and Sara Martin. Spivey is remembered as mentoring young Maria D'Amato in the '60s, recording her first jug band, and urging her to step out and strut her stuff. Wallace offers another direct connection, but all these women who made their mark in the 1920s are long dead now, and the girl Spivey discovered is into her 60s -- perhaps that realization and respect blunted her edge? On the other hand, James Dapogny's band backs up these songs with more flair than anyone since Fletcher Henderson. And Muldaur is still a terrific blues archivist, able to warm up any creaky old song. And it's worth recalling that Hunter came back with her dirtiest album ever at age 84. B+

Roswell Rudd & Yomo Toro: El Espíritu Jíbaro (2002-06 [2007], Sunnyside): Robert Palmer once called Yomo Toro "the Puerto Rican Jimi Hendrix," but from what I've heard -- and his solo "Inspiración" bears this out -- he's comes closer to John Fahey. Rudd, playing with Steve Lacy and Archie Shepp and leading his New York Art Quartet, was the great trombonist of the avant-'60s. He had a second wind as a Herbie Nichols interpreter, and a third as a world music sojourner, hooking up with musicians from Mali, Mongolia, and now Puerto Rico. Percussionist Bobby Sanabria is a third name on the cover, likely the most responsible for taking such a broad swath of Latin jazz here -- bolero, guaracha, marcha, merengue, cumbia, tango, son (of course). Toro's jíbaro is usually considered a country music, but he swings plenty here. B+

Sly & the Family Stone: Greatest Hits (1967-69 [2007], Epic/Legacy): A favorite tactic of record companies is to tack a couple of uncollected, often new and unproven, songs onto a "greatest hits" package -- bait for fans who otherwise already have it all, and hype by assertion. Not uncommonly, such packages fill a time slot when the artist is running dry. This is the exception, and not just because two new songs -- "Everybody Is a Star" and Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" -- went #1 while "Hot Fun in the Summertime" just missed at #2. More importantly, this pulls Sly-and-Family's evolution through three albums into as coherent a statement as they could make. It also marked the moment before they swerved in a different direction, producing a distinctly different triumph in There's a Riot Goin' On -- the contrast of up and down the ying and yang of American race politics. Subsequent best-ofs, like Anthology, tried filling this out with later hits -- another #1 in "Family Affair"; the irresistible "If You Want Me to Stay" -- but Riot and Fresh stand tall on their own, and their songs would be slightly off here. Probably because this is perfect. A+

Briefly Noted

The Best of Air Supply: Ones That You Love (1976-86 [2007], Arista/Legacy): Aussies Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock met trying out for the Sydney production of Jesus Christ Superstar; such shameless pop panderers are tolerable only when they're perfect -- "Even the Nights Are Better" is as close as they got -- and wretched when they stretch or pontificate. C-

Andy and the Bey Sisters: 'Round Midnight (1965 [2007], Prestige): Sisters Salome and Geraldine complement brother Andy Bey, producing a tricky mix of harmonies that works sometimes -- the light "Squeeze Me" and the heavy "God Bless the Child" are two for different reasons -- but can also drag and stall, especially 'round the title tune; also available bundled with their previous Now Hear (1964) as Andy Bey and the Bey Sisters ([2000], Prestige). B

John Coltrane: Stardust (1958 [2007], Prestige): Two sessions toward the end of Coltrane's tenure with Prestige, each yielding two stretched out nice-and-easy standards, with Wilbur Harden on the first set, and 20-year-old Freddie Hubbard on the second; the sense of accomplishment is earned, but nothing here suggests the giant steps to come. B+

Introducing Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet (1968-69 [2007], Blue Note): A no-name hard bop crew from Detroit, cut two albums sandwiched together on one disc here, then mostly vanished -- a couple showed up on an MC5 record, and hung out with Phil Ranelin's Tribe, and much later Cox appeared on James Carter's Live at Baker's Keyboard Lounge; actually, they're sharp and lively, especially trumpeter Charles Moore. B+

Steamin' With the Miles Davis Quintet (1956 [2007], Prestige): The fourth LP carved from the two sessions that marked Davis's move from indie Prestige to major Columbia, a kiss-off of quickly recorded standards that in retrospect were recognized as his first great Quintet, with John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones emerging; a random mix of songs, each standing out on its own. A-

Art Farmer: Farmer's Market (1956 [2007], Prestige): Bright, joyful hard bop from a rhythm section that includes Kenny Drew and Elvin Jones, but Farmer on trumpet and Hank Mobley on tenor sax don't mesh all that well, nor does either threaten to run off with the record. B

Frank Foster: Manhattan Fever (1968-69 [2007], Blue Note): The 6- and 7-piece groups here sound larger than that -- Foster's apprenticeship with Count Basie skilled him at sharpening the edges of the arrangements, and he never wastes an instrument, typically riffing against sharp blasts of brass, then parting the waters for a deft solo with a bit of piano; Duke Pearson produced, and must have pushed him hard. A-

Red Garland: Soul Junction (1957 [2007], Prestige): The pianist manages to sound bluesy and soulful on his own, taking "I've Got It Bad" slow enough to make the point; the horns work best when they stay in character, as on the long title piece, with both Donald Byrd and John Coltrane contributing blues-tinged solos. B+

Dobet Gnahoré: Na Afriki (2007, Cumbancha): Young pop star from Côte d'Ivoire, now based in France, sings in seven African languages plus a bit of Arabic, with French and English translations in the booklet, and musicians from France, Tunisia, and who knows where else -- she's a one-person melting pot, but the music comes off a little soft. B

Alan Jackson: 16 Biggest Hits (1989-2002 [2007], Arista Nashville/Legacy): A neo-traditionalist formalist, although he's been so consistent at it that he may just believe that country music really ought to sound country, and while he's picked his share of low-lying fruit, like "Summertime Blues" and "Mercury Blues," he wrote the wrote the ones about that "Little Man" stuck "Here in the Real World." A-

Alan Jackson: The Greatest Hits Collection (1989-95 [1995], Arista): No bargain: four more songs than 16 Biggest Hits for double the list price, selected from half as many years from an artist who if anything has continued to grow; still, the sound rings true, and the new one missed a few songs, including his first #1. A-

Joseph Jarman: As If It Were the Seasons (1968 [2007], Delmark): The arty 23:47 title cut was done by a trio plus voice, the sort of thing that AACM could do when imagining great black classical music; but when the gang -- including Muhal Richard Abrams, Fred Anderson, and John Stubblefield -- showed up for the 20:58 "Song for Christopher" all hell broke loose; you already know whether you can stand this or not, but if you can, focus on the percussive thrash, credited to Everybody. B+

John McLaughlin/Jaco Pastorius/Tony Williams: Trio of Doom (1979 [2007], Columbia/Legacy): A faint record of a lost opportunity, a dream trio assembled for a rare State Department-sponsored show in Havana, nicknamed "the bay of gigs"; the trio's slice of the released Havana Jam had to be recut in a New York studio, but McLaughlin has finally salvaged the original tapes; no revelations: the guitar comes through strong, the bass remains an enigma. B+

John McLaughlin: This Is Jazz 17 (1971-82 [1996], Columbia/Legacy): Sticking with the label's catalog, this starts with Mahavishnu Orchestra and wanders from there, ending with a tasty bit of acoustic, but shuffled enough that fusion is still the theme; the missing early period is more powerful, and the missing later period is more scattered, but this offers a sense of both. B+

Steve Miller/Lol Coxhill: The Story So Far . . . Oh Really? (1971-74 [2007], Cuneiform, 2CD): A Canterbury scene keyboardist, not to be confused with the better known Chaucer scholar turned bluesman-joker, and a bald soprano saxophonist make minimal grooves and abstract dithering, sometimes with help, most notably from Miller's guitarist brother Phil; two early albums, filled out with spare parts, a souvenir of the late Miller, a taste of the versatile Coxhill. B+

Charles Mingus: In Paris: The Complete America Session (1970 [2007], Sunnyside, 2CD): One day, a batch of old songs, one of his less notable groups, yielded two quickie albums for a French label named America; first disc reassembles them into a typical Mingus tour de force; second disc sweeps up all the false starts and alternates, nonetheless sounding much like the first. B+

The Essential Jaco Pastorius (1975-81 [2007], Epic/Legacy): Legendary punk jazz bassist get a superficial survey, concentrating on his one Epic album, two more from Warners, some sessions with Joni Mitchell and a whole lotta Weather Report; ill focused, sporadically interesting, with nothing from the last six years of a short, unfinished life, it's hard to tell from this what all the fuss was about. B-

Prefab Sprout: McQueen (Legacy Edition) (1985-2006 [2007], Legacy, 2CD): Sometimes clever British pop-rock group led by Paddy McAloon, returning their first album to its original name -- McQueen's estate forced a US title change to Two Wheels Good, still in the catalog in a cheaper single disc package; the second disc has new acoustic versions of most of the songs, tending to make them softer and slower, not my idea of a plus. B

Putumayo Presents: Americana (2000-05 [2007], Putumayo World Music): A pseudo-genre based on the idea that America is white and rural and steeped in traditions devoid of pain, except perhaps for the disappointment of not landing a gig in Nashville or Branson; still, they're unfailingly nice and tuneful, which is something. B

Putumayo Presents: Israel (1982-2006 [2007], Putumayo World Music): Most Israelis I listen to have returned to the diaspora, which makes them more accessible, and shelters them from bombs, bullets, and the strictures of the ultra-orthodox, so I have no way to judge authentic this soft-pedaled sampler of pop tunes is -- it could be just like picking America to represent American music; the only cut that jolts me is by a Yemenite named Zafa, because it sounds more Arabic than token Palestinian Amal Murkus. B

Putumayo Presents: Latin Jazz (1973-2006 [2007], Putumayo World Music): Big subject, but fair enough: aside from one ringer from Iceland, this plots a triangle spanning Havana, San Juan, and the Bronx, name-checking the obvious -- Machito, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Poncho Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri -- plus a couple of pleasing surprises in Chocolate Armenteros and Hilton Ruiz; not classic, but not skimmed from the latest hype either; choice cuts by Ruiz and Palmieri/Brian Lynch. B+

Putumayo Presents: Puerto Rico (1959-99 [2000], Putumayo World Music): Cuba's poorer cousin up through the 1898 war that handed it from Spain to the United States, setting up a pipeline between the Caribbean island and New York that in time outflanked Havana (and later Miami), producing synthesis in salsa, leaning back on cuatro-driven bomba and jíbaro from the hills; this stays upbeat all the way, and is willing to reach back for a surefire hit. A-

Putumayo World Party (1975-2007 [2007], Putumayo World Music): Groove-wise this holds up all right, with pieces from Haiti and Martinique in the lead, followed by one from Italy; the weak spot is a group called Laid Back from Denmark; the odd choice is a 1975 crossover by Osibisa (UK out of Ghana), which with a Zydeco cut violates the label's usual habit of only picking up recent, presumably cheap, obscurities. B

Quadro Nuevo: Tango Bitter Sweet (2006 [2007], Justin Time): Drummerless German quartet -- reeds, accordion, guitar, bass do the trick -- arguing that all the songs here originated in Europe, reclaiming tango from Argentina, Sidney Bechet from New Orleans, and Aram Khatchaturian from the vast steppes of Russia; they make a fine case, a little too pat for jazz, a little too danceable for chamber music. B+

The Rough Guide to Americana (1984-2001 [2001], World Music Network): Compared to Putumayo's Americana, this came out first, offers more songs (20 vs. 12), includes a few semi-names (Dave Alvin, Waco Brothers, Handsome Family, Neko Case), digs deeper into rural roots and gets a lot dirtier -- nothing unusual there, except that none of the obscurities connect, least of all as likeable. B-

The Rough Guide to Arabesque (1993-2002 [2002], World Music Network): That nothing other than Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects is more than two years old suggests that as a genre this Arab-flavored techno was still half-baked, with no stars yet, no tradition, not much vision. B

The Rough Guide to the Music of Japan (1991-98 [1999], World Music Network): A mixed bag of folk or classical shamisen and shakuhachi mixed in with jaunty little pop ditties that owe more to rock and roll with some oddities in between, like a James Bond theme; doesn't flow much but makes you wonder what else -- besides world-class jazz and classical, comic heavy metal, and ear-shattering techno-noise -- the world's second largest economy has to offer. B+

Jimmy Smith: Straight Life (1961 [2007], Blue Note): A simple organ-guitar-drums trio, as restrained as anything he's ever done, which makes the eloquence of his phrasing on such a crude instrument all the more impressive. B+

Sones de México Ensemble: Esta Tierra es Tuya (2007, Sones de México): Chicago-based ensemble, they take a rigorous approach to their Mexican roots, not just bragging about their 50 "all-acoustic instruments from Mexico" -- they spread them out for a poster, and come up with a diagram mapping instrument to song; their traditional son is pristine, but they're clever enough to use it as a prism for refracting Led Zeppelin, Bach, Woody Guthrie -- the latter a potent political pill, the others mere novelties. B+

A Proper Introduction to Maxine Sullivan: Moments Like This (1937-47 [2004], Proper): So straightforward you may not think her as a jazz singer, even with bands led by Claude Thornhill, John Kirby, Teddy Wilson, Benny Carter, and Ellis Larkins; her first hit was a Thornhill arrangement of ye olde "Loch Lomond"; the last session cleanly handles "Summertime" and "Miss Otis Regrets"; the bands rarely fall below all-star level, even though she's too prim and proper to let them show off. B+

Billy Taylor & Gerry Mulligan: Live at MCG (1993 [2007], MCG Jazz): Like J.J. Johnson on trombone, or later Jack Bruce on electric bass, Mulligan took the baritone sax out of the back of the band and moved it up by playing in its upper range with the virtuosity expected of the front men; this has the charm and intimacy of a Stan Getz quartet, but not quite the sweet sound; Taylor gets top bill because he's on his home court, carries his end, and makes his guest feel welcome. B+

Ticklah: Ticklah vs. Axelrod (2007, Easy Star): Roots reggae dub with Spanish and Ethiopian tinges, constructed by Brooklyn DJ Victor Axelrod wrestling with his alter ego; he's worked in Antibalas and Sharon Jones' Dap Kings, but aims for King Tubby here, getting the reverbs right and the overtones wrong, probably the way he planned it. B+

Stanley Turrentine: A Bluish Bag (1967 [2007], Blue Note): Two big band sessions, with 6-7 horns and 3-4 rhythm each, the former chopped up for two 1975-79 albums, the latter stuck in the vaults until now; Mr. T doesn't get a lot of solo space, but Duke Pearson's arrangements give everyone a lot to do, and several cuts really swing together. B+

Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, & James Cotton: Breakin' It Up, Breakin' It Down (1977 [2007], Epic/Legacy): Once Waters got Hard Again, he went out on the road, with Winter and Cotton above the line, Pinetop Perkins and Bob Margolin below; this previously unreleased concert won't hurt the band's reputation, but songs like "Caledonia" and "Rocket 88" aren't exactly tests of the blues great's mojo. B+

Additional Consumer News


In an infinite universe, all the music you'll ever need already exists somewhere. We find more each month: world music comps (Putumayo, Rough Guide), jazz giants (John Coltrane, Charles Mingus), avant schoolboys (Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd), fusioneers (John McLaughlin, Jaco Pastorius), various Blue Notes (Andrew Hill, Frank Foster) and Prestiges (Miles Davis, Art Farmer); many more (44 records).


Copyright © 2007 Tom Hull.