A Consumer Guide to the Trailing Edge: October, 2009

Recycled Goods (#67)

by Tom Hull

The big thing below is the second and final installment on the Verve Originals reissue series. I'm thinking about doing something similar with Rhino's Flashback series, although I'm not sure it's worth the effort. Good news there is that the records are real cheap. Bad news is that they're mostly old best-ofs reminted as cheaply as possible.

Meanwhile, Recycled Goods is still in strange limbo. I have neither found an interested publisher nor rebuilt my Terminal Zone music-oriented website. Michael Tatum hasn't dropped out of the project, but he hasn't dropped in either. I haven't been chasing down worthy reissue objects. I've tried to fill some of the gaps downloading from Rhapsody (noted [R] below), but thus far I've stayed away from anything big -- even the 2-CD Nick Lowe best-of, much less the 4-CD Big Star. And I'm not really sure what to do with newish world music. Most of the new stuff that I've picked up on Rhapsody I'm doing in my download reports (e.g., Goran Bregovic, Syran Mbenza, Daby Balde, Seprewa Kasa, Márcio Local, Clara Moreno), which would be skewed without world music. But when I run across something old, like Joyce's 1972 Visions of Dawn, I'm putting it here. On the other hand, actual new world records received, like Ersatzmusika, Mahala Rai Banda, Chuck & Albert, and Ithamara Koorax, are still being filed here.

Gary Burton/Chick Corea: Crystal Silence: The ECM Recordings 1972-79 (1972-79 [2009], ECM, 4CD): Hot on the heels of a 35th anniversary reunion tour documented as The New Crystal Silence, ECM repacks the original album along with two subsequent duet performances. I wish I could extoll the original as a legend, but vibes-piano duets offer a limited palette with similar dynamics -- at best (e.g., Milt Jackson and Thelonious Monk) you get an intriguing solo piano record with a cloud of bright accents. Corea's piano is similarly dominant here, especially on the original album, which despite name order Burton's vibes add very little to. Six years later, Duet is thicker, with Corea more dramatic and Burton more frenzied -- often too much so. The following year's live album finds both players slipping into their comfort zones. Spread out over two discs (combined length 83:11) they are the most evenly matched and generally pleasing, although the piano on the first album makes a stronger impression. [Crystal Silence: B+(**); Duet: B; In Concert, Zürich, October 28, 1979: B+(*)] B+(*)

Elvis Costello: Live at the Mocambo (1978 [2009], Hip-0): Widely circulated bootleg recording from a tour date in Toronto -- note palm trees on cover -- pushing his first two records, in its second or third official release. The marvelously catchy songs on My Aim Is True left the studio sounding weak and muddled, but he blasts through six of them here, not bothering with anything moderate like "Alison"; instead, he works in burners from This Year's Model like "The Beat," "Pump It Up," and "Radio, Radio," plus the stray single "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea." Some patter and lots of audience feedback -- he stiffs them with no encore. Sound is rough, but that's pretty much the point. A- [R]

Ersatzmusika: Songs Unrecantable (2009, Asphalt Tango): A group of mild-mannered Russians living in Berlin, fronted by keyboard-accordion player Irina Doubrovskaja, who sings most of the songs in a heavily-accented speakeasy voice that's been likened to Marlene Dietrich. The other one is Thomas Cooper, who has translated the Russian lyrics to English, adding some of his own. He's even more of a spoken-word singer, limited to two songs while Doubrovskaja turns English phrases back into Russian pidgin. Matters little because the cabaret-ish folk-rock is so enchanting. A-

The Fugs: Greatest Hits 1984-2004 (1984-2004 [2007], Fugs): The date bracket pushes this well past their heyday, but the mostly live format lets them sneak in "Slum Goddess," "CIA Man," "Kill for Peace," and others that history refuses to render archaic. They are themselves history, quoting Blake and warning "Here Come the Levelers". They still aren't compelling musicians, but folk music keeps the bar low when respecting it at all. I still prefer their early work when they sounded prematurely grizzled. B+(***) [R]

Joyce/Nana Vasconcelos/Mauricio Maestro: Visions of Dawn (1976 [2009], Far Out): Full name, Joyce Silveira Palhano de Jesus, was one of the classic bossa nova singers who came to prominence in the 1960s -- like Gal Costa and Elis Regina, she has her own Antonio Carlos Jobim duo album to proove it. These Paris sessions came later, a slice of Acid Folk, a Brazilian hallucination that defies description much less categorization. But it starts with the percussionist, who won't settle for a samba beat when so many African ghosts haunt him. The singers work around him, sometimes surprising us and them. A- [R]

In Series

Last month I started looking at Verve's "Originals" reissues: mostly $11.98 list, the original LP packaging touched up with just a banner down the left spine, no extra songs -- in some cases dropping extras added in previous reissues, and in some cases dropping the total time below 30 minutes. I covered 56 "Originals" last month, mostly picking 1950s and 1960s releases from Verve's main catalogs -- Norman Granz antecedents like Clef and Nogram, plus Universal labels like Emarcy and Phillips. This month wraps up, mostly taking care of the more pop-jazz titles, plus a selection from the historically Impulse label. Not much from Impulse, given that I didn't bother with reviewing albums that I had graded over the years. Those are listed at the end, along with some lengthier anthologies that cover albums reissued in this series. That brief list is where you'll find the real pick hits for the series: the marvelous Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins and Coltrane's monumental A Love Supreme.

Roy Ayers: Ubiquity (1971 [2009], Verve): The namesake album for the group vibraphonist Ayers ran for the next decade; light funk, a couple of indifferent vocals, the catchy "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" reduced to pure cutesiness and probably better off for it. B- [R]

Roy Ayers Ubiquity: He's Coming (1971 [2009], Verve): A more consistent album with a stronger band -- Sonny Fortune, Harry Whitaker, John Williams, Billy Cobham -- not that it makes much difference; the funk grooves remind me of disco, but rarely take off; the vibes help out, especially on the closer, "Fire Weaver." B [R]

Roy Ayers Ubiquity: Virgo Red (1973 [2009], Verve): Pleasant enough with Ayers keeps his looping vibes out front of the groove, but falters when they aim for anything more, especially "Love From the Sun." B- [R]

Roy Ayers Ubiquity: Change Up the Groove (1974 [2008], Verve): Not much of a change up, but they did manage to focus better, not even letting the occasional vocal disrupt the groove. B [R]

Roy Ayers Ubiquity: A Tear to a Smile (1975 [2009], Verve): More vocals, a recipe for disaster that is saved only by hiring better outside vocalists; more original songs, which means there's less here to recognize, for better or (mostly) worse. C+ [R]

Roy Ayers Ubiquity: Vibrations (1976 [2008], Verve): No covers, most of the vocals by Ayers, this lounges languorously until a backup singer gets the gospel spirit and someone cranks up the amp, which still isn't enough to overcome the pedestrian beats. C [R]

Roy Ayers Ubiquity: Lifeline (1977 [2007], Verve): Funk, stuck in a relatively minimalist groove, with occasional gospel antics; the leader's vibes have never been more irrelevant. C+ [R]

Roy Ayers: You Send Me (1978 [2008], Verve): Adds singer Carla Vaughn, starting off with the worst version ever of a Sam Cooke song; much better when it returns to form, with Ayers' mundane voice and generic funk grooves. C [R]

Gato Barbieri: Chapter One: Latin America (1973 [2009], Impulse): The Argentine tenor saxophonist joins Coltrane's label and does him one better, ecstatically extending Coltrane's sound and technique to Latin standards while cranking up the party percussion. A- [R]

Gato Barbieri: Chapter Two: Hasta Siempre (1973 [2009], Impulse): Same deal as Chapter One, which is why these albums fit so seamlessly in the 1997 Latino America reissue; maybe a bit more ragged around the edges, but when you live dangerously and survive, that's called a rush. A- [R]

Gato Barbieri: Ruby, Ruby (1978 [2007], Verve): The music is full of synth strings, lush and sweeping at best but more often forgettable, or best forgotten; the Latin percussion helps pick up the pace, and Barbieri's tenor sax remains singular, a thin reed straining against the weight of the world. B+(*) [R]

Gato Barbieri: Tropico (1978 [2009], A&M): Disco beats, swirling choruses, banks of synthy strings with synthy fake Latin beats, the only thing that salvages this is the tenor saxophonist, who sounds magnificent even buried past his navel in murk. B [R]

Walter Beasley: Beasley (1987 [2008], Verve): A slight soul singer slotted as jazz because he plays alto and soprano sax, kicked off his debut album with the forthright "I'm So Happy," which for lack of anything better is also the closer. B- [R]

Walter Beasley: Just Kickin' It (1989 [2008], Verve): Title cut leads off, a trivial slice of funk that kicks everything else here, most of which drags ass, some even unable to get up a vocal. C [R]

Walter Beasley: Intimacy (1992 [2008], Verve): Nothing memorable here, let alone intimate or sexy or even the least bit funky; fewer vocals than the first two albums. C+ [R]

The Brecker Brothers: Return of the Brecker Brothers (1992 [2008], Verve): Michael on sax, Randy on trumpet, had a run on Arista 1975-81 -- Heavy Metal Be-Bop was a concept title -- then regrouped for this funk slice; the horns aren't bad, the beats so so, the vocals a mistake, as is slowing it down. B [R]

Norman Brown: Just Between Us (1992 [2008], Verve): Smooth jazz guitarist, first album, sticks to basics with modish post-disco grooves, occasional bits of vocals so slight they do little harm. B [R]

Terry Callier: Occasional Rain (1972 [2008], Verve): Singer-songwriter, started as a folk singer, but more like an unpolished soul man who doesn't go for anything slick or pop; has something of a cult following, but it's hard to say why. B [R]

Terry Callier: What Color Is Love (1973 [2008], Verve): More soul, still about the only contemporary he reminds me of is Major Lance, who was still more pop; clicks on maybe 2 of 7 songs, and has redeeming social merit on the cover. B [R]

The John Coltrane Quartet: Africa/Brass (1961 [2008], Impulse): His first Impulse! album, with -- despite the credit -- a large group that leaned heavily on Eric Dolphy; the session also generated a Volume 2 and various repackages, of which 3-cut 33:40 original selection is the shortest and the heaviest. A- [R]

John Coltrane: At the Village Vanguard (1961 [2008], Impulse): Less is less, whether compared to the 4-CD box set that finally documented this legendary 4-night stand with Eric Dolphy, or even to the 5-cut Master Takes single that also came out in 1997; this stops short 36:31, after a blistering "Chasin' the Trane" that's just getting started. A- [R]

John Coltrane: Impressions (1961-63 [2008], Impulse): Scattered live scraps, each side with something 3-4 minutes and something 14-15 minutes; the leader is a little iffy at the start, but the Quartet is as steady as ever; besides, with Coltrane the search is part of the allure. B+(**) [R]

John Coltrane/Archie Shepp: New Thing at Newport (1965 [2009], Impulse): Two separate sets, with Coltrane's Quartet conflicted and sloppy on one 12:43 cut, Shepp both further out and more authoritative with Bobby Hutcherson's vibes interesting in their own right; previous CD releases had one more cut each, the extra material helpful although Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" is even more discombobulated. B+(*) [R]

The Crusaders: Pass the Plate (1971 [2008], Verve): First album after dropping Jazz from their name, jazz having already become rather negligible in their pop-funk evolution; first side is a medley, the second short boogie pieces from Joe Sample, neither making a lot of sense. B- [R]

The Crusaders: Images (1978 [2009], Blue Thumb): Several albums down the line, the loss of Wayne Henderson cuts way back on the brass quotient; that cleans up the space for Wilton Felder's soul sax, but when he lays out you notice that Joe Sample has lost his boogie and the residual grooves are a little light. B [R]

Will Downing: Come Together as One (1989 [2008], Verve): A straight up soul singer, nary a jazzy effect on his second album, but he works his bumps and grinds and grooves with an earnestness you have to respect -- at least as long as the songs hold up. B [R]

Will Downing: A Dream Fulfilled (1991 [2008], Verve): He's settling down into his niche here, sort of a lighter, gentler Teddy Pendergrass; doesn't need much of a groove, just enough to float on. B+(*) [R]

Dr. John: City Lights (1978 [2008], Verve): Done as a fluke rock star, not yet established as a local folk legend, Mac Rebennack tries his hand as a singer-songwriter on a mostly-jazz label, and mostly succeeds, thanks in part to a helping hand from Doc Pomus. B+(**) [R]

George Duke: Faces in Reflection (1974 [2008], Verve): Keyb player, major credits with Cannonball Adderley and Frank Zappa, not that he bears much likeness to either; basically a synth-playing funkateer, his fusion pleasantly enjoyable, any temptation to slow it down or dub in a vocal fatal. B [R]

George Duke: Feel (1974 [2008], Verve): Same as above, only more tempted, more conflicted, more confused. B- [R]

George Duke: I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry (1975 [2008], Verve): Good thing is that he's trying more things -- blues riffs, grunge rock, idiosyncratic rhythms; also helps that he's singing better, but no matter how interesting his experiments, he keeps falling back into his faux-funk rut. B [R]

Keith Jarrett: Treasure Island (1974 [2009], Impulse): His peak period, having left Miles Davis to run two stellar quartets as well as the marathon solo that made him legendary; this is the American quartet, second album, his rockish chording and Charlie Haden's phat bass propelling Dewey Redman into paroxysms of joy. A- [R]

The Jazz Crusaders: Old Socks, New Shoes . . . New Socks, Old Shoes (1970 [2008], Verve): Group's last album before dropping "Jazz" from their name, starts with an irresistible Sly Stone concoction, which they can't repeat let alone supersede; on the other hand, their regular funk fare makes better use of the evident leader's trombone. B [R]

Quincy Jones and His Orchestra: The Quintessence (1961 [2007], Impulse): Crisp big band arrangements, eight songs in a scant 30:45, the leader already beyond playing trumpet -- why bother when you can hustle up Freddie Hubbard, Thad Jones, Clark Terry, and Snooky Young? B+(**) [R]

Quincy Jones: Explores the Music of Henry Mancini (1964 [2009], Verve): This turns out to be an interesting match, where Mancini's playful movie music gets some interesting twists from a big band with its own sense of whimsy, with Jones tapping not only his usual stars but young blood like Gary Burton and Roland Kirk. B+(***) [R]

Quincy Jones: Smackwater Jack (1971 [2009], A&M): A transitional record, jonesing to go pop but lacking the charisma to put it across, and still with all his networking tempted to sneak in lots of nice little jazz touches, like he was doing a soundtrack or something. B [R]

Quincy Jones: You've Got It Bad Girl (1973 [2009], Verve): Mixed bag, mostly soft soul tracks with vocals, two from Stevie Wonder suffering the most, a fetching instrumental "Eyes of Love," a respectable "Manteca," some mediocre theme music; short even for LPs at 29:28. B- [R]

B.B. King: Live at the Apollo (1990 [2008], Verve): In strong voice and robust guitar, but nothing stands out of the ordinary other than "Since I Left You Baby"; maybe, indeed, "The Thrill Is Gone." B [R]

John Klemmer: Barefoot Ballet (1976 [2008], Verve): A series of light saxophone pieces, modestly blown, with just enough rhythm to keep them seductively on track; at this rate I doubt that he'll ever amount to much, but this is nice and easy to listen to, nothing excessive or cloying. B+(*) [R]

John Klemmer: Arabesque (1977 [2008], Verve): A tenor saxophonist, starts out nearly solo to establish some cred, then eases off a bit to sail off on the synths and quasi-Latin percussion; nothing arabesque to the music, but he probably likes the sound of the word. B [R]

The Ramsey Lewis Trio: At the Bohemian Caverns (1964 [2008], Verve): Starts with an 11:38 medley from West Side Story, following up topically with "People," but the other side sticks closer to jazz and blues standards, the piano rarely takes the easy way out, and bassist Eldee Young works in some idiosyncratic soloing. B+(*) [R]

The Ramsey Lewis Trio: The In Crowd (1965 [2007], Argo): Live set, headlined with his hit, the main concession to popular taste here is a willingness to get rowdy, especially with Eldee Young's shouts and Redd Holt's exuberant drums; cheap thrills, fun enough. B+(**) [R]

Ramsey Lewis: Goin' Latin (1966 [2008], Verve): He doesn't go very far Latin: some bongos, Willie Bobo's "Spanish Grease," a samba; he mostly makes instrumental kitsch, the kind he occasionally scored novelty hits with, and he roughs the misses up enough to keep you from thinking he's a hack. B+(*) [R]

Wes Montgomery: Goin' Out of My Head (1965 [2007], Verve): With Verve the signature guitarist of his generation developed a jones for icky pop songs, which is partially interfered with here by the staunch, even bombastic, big band backup of Oliver Nelson; both have their moments, although they rarely share them. B [R]

Wes Montgomery: Down Here on the Ground (1967-68 [2009], Verve): No longer incredible, in his last year just (nearing 45) a pleasant instrumentalist playing hackneyed pop tunes over chintzy Don Sebesky orchestration with Hubert Laws flute and Ray Barretto congas. B- [R]

Ramp: Come Into Knowledge (1977 [2007], Blue Thumb): Roy Ayers discovery from Cincinnati -- name is an acronym for Roy Ayers Music Productions -- with a one-shot disco album, with neither a distinctive singer nor a dancefloor commanding beat; the best songs remind me of better disco groups, and they're not all that good. B- [R]

Joe Sample/David T. Walker: Swing Street Café (1978 [2008], Verve): A keyboardist who is perfectly happy recycling Ray Charles, Chuck Willis, and Bill Doggett, teams up with a funk guitarist who rarely gets his name on the cover, but is equally happy just to be here. B+(*) [R]

McCoy Tyner: Today and Tomorrow (1963-64 [2009], Impulse): A mix of trio and sextet tracks, the horns an intriguing lineup of Thad Jones, John Gilmore, and Frank Strozier, the pianist hanging in and coming on strong in his spots. B+(**) [R]

Grover Washington Jr.: Inner City Blues (1971 [2008], Verve): First album by the smooth jazz legend, runs with two Marvin Gaye smashes and respectable fare like "Georgia on My Mind" and "I Loves You, Porgy"; Creed Taylor produced and Bob James arranged the lush synthy backdrop, but Washington's deep, clear sax carries the day. B+(*) [R]

Grover Washington Jr.: All the Kings Horses (1972 [2008], Verve): Same formula, substituting Aretha Franklin and Bill Withers songs for Marvin Gaye, which dials the funk back a bit, lets the orchestration swell, and undercuts the saxophone, which is really the only reason we're here. B [R]

Grover Washington Jr.: Soul Box (1973 [2008], Verve): Creed Taylor produced, Bob James arranged and conducted, the usual crew played, the saxophonist blew elegantly; the key advantage here was that the seven songs spread out over 2 LPs, one or two cuts per side, the grooves stretched out, the synth simplified, the sax craftily paced, poised to climax. A- [R]

Grover Washington Jr.: Feels So Good (1975 [2009], Verve): The first Washington album that actually sounds funky, a credit more to bassist Louis Johnson than to Bob James, who would just as soon recycle disco schmaltz B+(**) [R]

Grover Washington Jr.: A Secret Place (1976 [2009], Verve): Cover depicts Washington playing a soprano sax in the woods, and indeed there's more soprano here than heretofore; it floats aimlessly over the standard issue funk, where the rarer tenor sax at least tries to grapple to force some form of coherent whole. B [R]

Grover Washington Jr.: Reed Seed (1977 [2009], Verve): His final album for Kudu -- the only one omitted from this series is Mr. Magic, regarded well enough it didn't need a budget reissue; by this point he's settled into utter pleasantries, mild funk and silky soul, with Marvin Gaye giving way to Billy Joel. B [R]

Grades only on other records in the "Originals" series, based on previous editions (which may include extra material and/or lack the latest remastered sound):

  • Gato Barbieri: Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata (1974, Impulse) B+
  • John Coltrane: Coltrane (1962, Impulse) A-
  • John Coltrane: Ballads (1962, Impulse) A
  • John Coltrane: John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (1963, Impulse) B+
  • John Coltrane: Live at Birdland (1963, Impulse) A
  • John Coltrane: Crescent (1964, Impulse) A
  • John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964, Impulse) A+
  • John Coltrane: The John Coltrane Quartet Plays (1965, Impulse), A-
  • John Coltrane: Ascension (1965, Impulse) B+
  • John Coltrane: Kulu Sé Mama (1965, Impulse) B+
  • John Coltrane: Meditations (1965, Impulse) B
  • Miles Davis: Ascenseur Pour L'Échafaud (1957, Fontana) B+
  • Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond: 1975: The Duets (1975, A&M) B+
  • Duke Ellington/John Coltrane: Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (1962, Impulse) A-
  • Duke Ellington/Coleman Hawkins: Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins (1962, Impulse) A+
  • Gil Evans: Out of the Cool (1960, Impulse) A-
  • Stan Getz: At the Shrine (1954, Verve) B+
  • Stan Getz: Sweet Rain (1967, Verve) A-
  • Johnny Hartman: I Just Dropped by to Say Hello (1963, Impulse) B
  • Joe Henderson: Porgy and Bess (1997, Verve) B+
  • Johnny Hodges: Used to Be Duke (1954, Verve) A-
  • Freddie Hubbard: The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard (1962, Impulse) B
  • Gerry Mulligan: Lonesome Boulevard (1989, A&M) B+
  • Oliver Nelson: The Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961, Impulse) A
  • Oscar Peterson: Trio + One: Clark Terry (1964, Emarcy) A
  • Sonny Rollins: On Impulse! (1965, Impulse) A-
  • Sonny Stitt: Sits in with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1957-59, Verve) B+

Some albums in the series, including a couple individually rated above, previously appeared intact or expanded in differently-titled compilations that I had previously rated:

  • Louis Armstrong and the All Stars: Satchmo at Pasadena (1951, Verve): see The California Concerts (1951-55, Decca, 4CD) A+
  • Gato Barbieri: Chapter One: Latin America (1973, Impulse) and Chapter Two: Hasta Siempre (1973, Impulse): see Latino America (1973-74, Impulse, 2CD) A-
  • John Coltrane: Africa/Brass (1961, Impulse): see The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions (1961, Impulse, 2CD) A
  • John Coltrane: Ascension (1965, Impulse): see The Major Works of John Coltrane (1965, Impulse, 2CD) B+
  • John Coltrane: Live at the Village Vanguard (1961, Impulse): see The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (1961, Impulse, 4CD) A
  • Stan Getz: Big Band Bossa Nova (1962, Verve), Stan Getz With Guest Artist Laurindo Almeida (1963, Verve): see The Girl From Ipanema: The Bossa Nova Years (1962-64, Verve, 4CD) A-
  • Keith Jarrett: Treasure Island (1974, Impulse): see The Impulse Years, 1973-1974 (1973-74, Impulse, 5CD) B+

Briefly Noted

Mario Adnet/Philippe Baden Powell: Afro Samba Jazz: The Music of Baden Powell (2009, Adventure Music): Lush life studio orchestra arrangements of classic Braziliana, the guitar and beat toned down, the horns neatly layered, a tiny bit of vocal neither here nor there. B+(*)

Chuck & Albert: Énergie (2009, chuckandalbert.com): Two brothers, Chuck and Albert Arsenault, one plays guitar and harmonica, the other fiddle and assorted things, ranging from cowbell to diaper-wipe box; they make Canadian hillbilly music, assuming Prince Edward Island has anything that might pass for hills, in any case en français, so you may have to go to the trot sheet for the jokes, not that the music itself in any way lacks good humour. B+(**)

Paolo Conte: Psiche (2009, Platinum/Universal): Veteran Italian singer-songwriter, past 70 now and starting to sound a bit grizzled, which suits him fine; the closest analogue I can think of is Leonard Cohen, although I doubt if the words are up to that comparison -- the ones in English are not. B+(*)

The Duke of Elegant: Gems From the Duke Ellington Songbook [The Composer Collection Volume 3] (1959-2007 [2009], High Note): Label recycling project, only two cuts predating 1999 -- a Mark Murphy shot from 1990 and Lucky Thompson from 1959 -- with the usual ups and downs but nothing that really stands out. B

Ersatzmusika: Voice Letter (2007 [2008], Asphalt Tango): First album, previous to Songs Unrecantable above, pre-Cooper, everything else all the more so; e.g., I note that the titles are in English, but rarely make out more than a scattered word, which floats in music a shade denser, a bit more upbeat, and/or a lot funnier. A- [R]

The Jazz Crusaders: At the Lighthouse/Pacific Jazz Records (1962 [2006], Blue Note): Early on they were a hard bop band that recalled pre-bop for its high spirits -- Wayne Henderson's trombone tailgated Kid Ory and Trummy Young, Joe Sample's piano showed a flair for boogie woogie. B+(**) [R]

Kind of Blue Revisited: The Miles Davis Songbook [The Composer Collection Volume 4] (1990-2006 [2009], High Note): The five songs of Kind of Blue flow as expected; the three dupes reiterate "All Blues" and "So What?" strip down through a tasteful Mark Murphy scat to string quartet to guitar duo like a fading echo of the theme. B+(**)

Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira: Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook (2008 [2009], Motema): The bare basics of classic bossa nova, just guitar, voice, a slinky beat and a pop knack for novelty; Gilberto was a huge star, but his songbook only ran 11 items deep, the best known "Bim Bom" and "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá" -- as universally senseless as they sound. B+(*)

Mahala Rai Banda: Ghetto Blasters (2009, Asphalt Tango): Touted as "the Balkan equivalent of the Memphis Horns with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section," a rowdy Romanian brass band inching into the age of electronica; like their analogues, they're at their best when they stick to time-tested verities, and crank up the volume and velocity until they become self-evident. B+(***)

Revolutionary Ensemble: Vietnam (1972 [2009], ESP-Disk): Leroy Jenkins single-handedly invented a new path for violin in avant-jazz, scratched raw, searching the ins and outs of the fractured rhythmic support of comrades Sirone and Cooper. B+(**) [R]

Lucky Thompson: New York City, 1964-65 (1964-65 [2009], Uptown Jazz, 2CD): An excpetional saxophonist whose slim discography has gradually built up as lost sessions and live shots have been uncovered; two more, the first disc an octet at the Little Theater, the second a quartet at the Half Note, neither indispensible but the sheer beauty of Thompson's tenor sax comes out especially in the smaller group setting. B+(**) [R]

Tribecastan: Strange Cousin (2008 [2009], Evergreene Music): Cosmopolitan hillbilly music with a Balkan accent, a lot of odd string and flutelike instruments, sometimes tapping into a jazz vibe -- Don Cherry and Sonny Sharrock are good for covers -- and sometimes not. B+(**)

Terry Waldo's Gutbucket Syncopators: The Ohio Theatre Concert (1974 [2009], Delmark): Ragtime piano and ragged trad jazz, with an embedded 9-song set featuring Edith Wilson, a classic blues singer who goes back further than Bessie Smith. B+(**)

Legend: B+ records are divided into three levels, where more * is better. [R] indicates record was reviewed using a stream from Rhapsody. The biggest caveat there is that the packaging and documentation hasn't been inspected or considered.

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