[COMPARED TO WHAT?]: Circle offers a sweeping anthology of Miles Davis recordings from 1955 to 1970 that show the restless genius of jazz

Circle offers a sweeping anthology of Miles Davis recordings from 1955 to 1970 that show the restless genius of jazz undergoing swift changes as thoroughgoing as the era where they took place. “Two Bass Hit” was recorded at his first Columbia session. “Love for Sale” features the “Kind of Blue” lineup of John Coltrane on tenor, Cannonball Adderley on alto, Bill Evans on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Jimmy Cobb on drums. The title track shows Miles stretching into new conceptual worlds with Wayne Shorter on tenor, Herbie Hancock on celeste, Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on drums, and Joe Beck on guitar. The set closes with Miles’s fusion band playing an atmospheric version of David Crosby’sGuinnevere.” ~John Swenson | Amazon

Original Release Date: ‎1979

At your leisure, spin “CIRCLE IN THE ROUND” by Miles Davis.

REFLECTION: Hanging out with “Black Codes” featuring the legendary Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis, BLACK CODES (ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: Jan, 11, 1985)

Being an ardent advocate of modern jazz and emerging new sounds and artists, pondering this segment titled “REFLECTION” is something I never intended on doing from the place arrived from let alone writing frequently about some of my favorite older jazz recordings.

Today, I revisited “BLACK CODES” it is undoubtedly a mind changer and one of my favorite albums by renowned trumpeter/composer and educator Wynton Marsalis. FROM THE UNDERGROUND sustains its purpose by being an unmeasurable palette as I hear it stands out among the best of his previous recordings because it embodies progressive ingredients, melodies, rhythms, and intricacies that make jazz what is today as America’s unbridled classical music conceived by black musicians (no pun to other cultures).  The album opens with the iconic “BLACK CODES” the title immediately frames the coherent conversation, structure, and language needed to attract an intended and broader audience.

FOR WEE FOLKS” follows as the absolute hippest tune on the record. The ensemble’s (best of the best here) cohesive interplay swings with depth and the dexterous swagger of old school players seizes and retains your attention from beginning to the end. With five more tracks in the balance, I was eager to hear “DELEAYO’S DILEMMA” it lands as an infallible tribute to his brother Deleayo is a thoughtful approach that’s vibrant, and embraceable tune qualifies as essential modern jazz at its finest.

Another attractive piece in the mix is “PHRYZZINIAN MAN,” this jewel compliments the session. It inhabits, yes, inhabits the sway, harmony and technical artistry jazz fans have come accustomed to hearing Marsalis score and play. The mellowed bluesy tenor of “AURAL OASIS” articulates his brilliance, on this lush arrangement as the title implies will envelop you into the moment as you wade through the cool, intimate, and melodic jazz to relish with each listen.

CHAMBERS OF TAIN” as expected explodes with fast and furious rifts, expressions, and fascinating interplay provided embellishes perfect timing and deeply rooted in the tradition of bebop. Tough the blues is not necessarily my forte, in all due respect to where this music derived from any jazz artists of Wynton’s magnitude will enthusiastically play the blues in any situation. That said, this tune ironically titled “BLUES” reaffirms this sentiment with the authority and attitude of an elder statesman.

While some may disagree, “BLACK CODES (FROM THE UNDERGROUND)” for me is undeniably one of his signature masterpieces. I say this because Marsalis is true to the music, he’s a warrior and loves the art of playing he urgently invokes the spirit of curiosity, and familiarity he provides a pleasurable listening experience that should satisfy the appetite for jazz enthusiasts everywhere.   

Personnel:    

  • Wynton Marsalis – trumpet.
  • Branford Marsalis – tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone.
  • Kenny Kirkland – piano.
  • Charnett Moffett – double bass.
  • Jeff “Tain” Watts – drums.
  • Ron Carter – bass on Aural Oasis.

At your leisure, check out “BLACK CODES (FROM THE UNDERGROUND)” by Wynton Marsalis.

REFLECTION: Rendering classic jazz INFINITY by an amazing artist, pianist/composer McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner Trio, INFINITY (ORIGINALLY RELEASED: Jan. 1995)

When I think about great piano players, it is appropriate to say not just because of familiarity McCoy Tyner’s name rises among the top as significant, vibrant, and soulful players on the jazz scene regardless of era. Perhaps, it is easy to come to this conclusion because of his musical virtuosity undoubtedly speaks volumes. Case in point, in front of me is his brilliant 1995 recording “INFINITY” qualifies as a defining moment and a supreme choice for jazz collectors to embrace and listen to repeatedly.

Tyner paired his voice with some of the best to record INFINITY, bassist Avery Sharpe, drummer Aaron Scott, and saxophonist Michael Brecker appeared to combine their formidable gifts and presence to amplify originals such as “FLYING HIGH” to Monk’s bouncy “I MEAN YOU” featuring Brecker’s solo places firm exclamation point on it! Penned by Tyner, the palpable funk meets jazz sound is underscored on “HAPPY DAYS” and a pellucid rendition of Coltrane’s “IMPRESSIONS” features Brecker’s recognizable tone to this delectable palette of music.

As a player and composer, it is Tyner’s complex, bold, and soul-stirring vocabulary that integrates naturally. “MELLOW MINOR” an original yet vigorous piece at the number eight spot title does not match the tempo and far removed from being remotely relaxed (jamming). Moreover, this gem is solidified by saxophonist Michael Brecker’s rich vibrato and stimulating voice is undeniably icing on the cake. Tyner closes the session with his muscularly fluent touch (solo) and distinct stride is utterly amazing on the classic “GOOD MORNING HEARTACHE.” When an artist approaches timeless pieces like this is an opportunity to excel and make it your own or not and he met this challenge without breaking a sweat. ~Reviewed by Rob Young

At your leisure, listen to “INFINITY” a timeless classic by the legendary McCoy Tyner.

REFLECTION: the bopulicous “Night Dreamer” is considered the prodigious Blue Note Records debut by saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter, NIGHT DREAMER (RELEASED: April 29, 1964)

With four projects behind him, it was Shorter’s Blue Note debut “NIGHT DREAMER,” he came armed with a decisive strategy, poised and determined spirit with not only strands of wisdom from prior records but maximum smoke to six original compositions as a statement, footprint, and artistic voice to emerge as a beacon of light with a bright future in jazz waiting to envelop him. Influenced by Trane, he not only mirrored his style but it’s Shorter’s approach, and his writing skills showed unexpected maturity earned him a spot among the best. Therefore, to make this project manifest with unprecedented glory he called on the finest talent in the game, Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman, and Art Blakey to record this impressive head bopper titled “NIGHT DREAMER.”

As I listened intently, I’ve discovered Shorter’s voice and talent were sharpened and developed during his tenure with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. The opening selection “NIGHT DREAMER,” and title track set the tone of what was yet to be unveiled throughout this thoughtful and mesmerizing collection of tunes. Even today, “ORIENTAL FOLK SONG” a favorite is a boss jam with each spin it draws me to the core of his stimulating tonality and solace that comes with his smoldering timbre. By now, any serious jazz aficionado is aware that Mr. Shorter has ascended beyond the shadows of expectation, great players and composers alike to become one of the most revered, and accomplished musicians and composers in jazz today.

At a glance, on “VIRGOShorter’s moaning bravado shimmers quietly yet he convincingly engages in harmonic nuances with a softly spoken zeal, thirst, and hunger. Next up, Shorter‘s bop-infectious “BLACK NILE” erupts with unmatched interplay provided by the stellar cast of musicians also shines a light on his unmatched valor as a seasoned player. On the hip-swaying “CHARCOAL BLUES,” Shorter makes his mark as a contender, one to reckon with as a certified bluesologist. He closes the session with the ambitious “ARMAGEDDON,” once more he demonstrates why he’s the new player in town with serious skills. As a student of jazz, Shorter showed critics right or wrong he met the challenge he learned to adapt these tools of the trade and mastered these gifts as an emerging voice landed with perfect-timing on Blue Note Records to give jazz enthusiast worldwide an earth-shaking masterpiece called “NIGHT DREAMER.”

Listen and discover why music lovers deem “NIGHT DREAMER” one of the best by Wayne Shorter.

Digging deeper into the Blue Note vaults to discover these “HIDDEN GEMS” …

Perhaps, expanding your jazz palette can be challenging. I get it, most of us dwell in our comfort zone with favorite artists that tend to please us most. However, Blue Note Records arguably has the deepest jazz catalog available, considering that there’s always an artist, song, or album that can potentially take your taste for this beloved music into a new dimension.

HIDDEN GEMS complied by Blue Note Records featuring Various Artists

This amazing compilation features a cast of what may be deemed as underrated players from albums you may be or not be familiar with. At your leisure, give it a spin, and please do let me know what you think.

Most of my listening experience falls in the realm of “CUTTING EDGE JAZZ,” what about you?

I’ve discovered over the years, listening too compilations recordings is often a great way to be introduced to and familiarize yourself with artists and sounds you haven’t heard before. This mix by Spotify does exactly that with an unexpected pallet of intimate and intriguing music which of course can be found on other streaming platforms as well will indeed serve it’s ultimate purpose.

Cutting Edge Jazz compiled by Spotify

Listening to the incomparable and legendary Herbie Hancock’s “MAIDEN VOYAGE”

When I can’t seem to find what direction to go musically, I never go wrong by returning to the source with cats like Herbie Hancock. Today, I start with his mesmerizing classic “MAIDEN VOYAGE.” With each spin, this distinct yet cool blend of post/bop never fails to please even the novice can embrace this enjoyable and accessible album. Maiden features the provocative yet superb interplay of bassist Ron Carter, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, unheralded tenor saxophonist George Coleman, and drummer Tony Williams.

Herbie Hancock, MAIDEN VOYAGE

At the time of this release, Hancock was on the verge of becoming a rising star by composing thoughtful and heartfelt gems showing his understated effervescent voicings, textures, and unpredictable melodic ambiance with lasting impact. What a enjoy this recording is, Herbie’s music clearly ascends effortlessly often with coherent yet challenging harmonies that are unsurpassed yet subdued when called for while bending the various tones with timeless interplay summons listeners again and again for repeated listens.

Listen to MAIDEN VOYAGE