Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Picked up a few new albums on Monday.
I was through in the DGP and found myself flitting between offices for a meeting. The walk took me past a couple of record shops, and...well... it seemed rude not to..
First up was "Europa" the latest offering from Courtney Pine. First reactions? Well I do like it (a lot), but (oh jeeze there's a "but") this isn't like any other Courtney Pine album I've heard.
Pine is not one to stand still and through the years I've been listening to his stuff he's moved from relatively mainstream, though modern jazz, via reggae, sidetracked to calypso, explored a wee bit of that hip-hop nonsense and "mixing" as the youngsters call it and back to a more mainstream groove.
But this? It's verging on the world/folk/classical. It takes themes from all over Europe (and bits of Africa) and blends them together.
Pine foregoes the sax completely on this CD and sticks to bass clarinet, which only adds to the classical feel.
His previous albums have been pretty much like his live shows... he attempts to grab the listener by the neck and drag them onto the dancefloor. This is more of a "sit down, listen to this, think about it then tell me what you think" type of offering.
Previous albums have been instant hits with me. This, I'm confident, well end up like that... but it's a bit more of a slow burner.

Next up was Birdology "A Tribute To Charlie Parker". How many tribute records to Charlie Parker does one man need? Answer.. "All of them"! Bring them on. I'm a sucker for this sort of jazz.
I'm finding it hard to get a lot of details about this offering. From what I can get (woeful sleeve notes) Birdology was a now defunct French Jazz label, now bought over by Dreyfus Jazz. "Birdland" appears to be a "super group" comprising of some of the labels artists and includes Don Sickler (trumpet) Jackie McLean (alto) Johnny Griffin (tenor) Cecil Payne (baritone) Duke Jordan (piano) Ron Carter (bass) and Roy Haynes (drums). The tribute was recorded live in France in 89. One original "tribute" track and 5 covers of Bird classics.
It's good ... but it's not great. In an attempt to offend no one, they've inspired no one. Every track follows the same pattern. 7 piece band for a couple of choruses... sax solo...drum solo..bass solo... and so on and so on.
It becomes like a procession of show offs rather than a cohesive group playing off each others strengths.
Good album ... could have been outstanding.

Last up was the new Denys Baptiste "Identity By Subtraction". It's been 8 years since his last album ("Let Freedom Ring")! For this he's gone back to a basic quartet.
Apparently he didn't want to bring out a new album until he had something worth saying. Well if it took 8 years then, quite frankly, it was worth the wait! A really tight quartet who unlike Birdology give each other ideas and support. High quality, mellow, ballads to the fore on this collection.
One track on the album sounded as though it may be a bit gimmicky - "Harriotts Chariott - A Life In The Bass Line". It's a small interview with Coleridge Goode, bass player for Joe Harriott. In it he explains how he was influenced by the "walking bass" sound of Count Basie's bands and adopted that sound in his work with Joe Harriott. Over the interview the quartet improvise in the background (Rod Youngs on bass is good).
It's not a song... It's not "mixing"...It's not "rap"... but it works. The talking does not detract from the music and the music does not detract from the interview. Quirky, but it works really well.

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