Saturday 17 May 2008

Jonathan Kreisberg - Autumn in New York

It was Autumn in New York that first got me hooked on jazz guitar - in a performance by Tal Farlow shown on Channel 4 in the early Eighties. This live performance by Jonathan Kreisberg, a talented and tasteful NY guitarist, brings the tune right up to date. I love the digital delay echoing the first phrase of the tune, the full sound blossoming from the Trio and the general vibe.

Saturday 10 May 2008

DYLAN HOW UNITY 4, Brighton Jazz Club, 2 May 2008

DYLAN HOWE Drums; SAM CROCKATT Tenor saxophone; MIKE OUTRAM Guitar; ROSS STANLEY Hammond Organ

Larry Young’s Unity is a classic of Modern Jazz and one of the few Hammond organ-led albums that some Modern Jazz fans take seriously. Joined by Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw and Elvin Jones, this album established Larry Young as an original voice – he was dubbed the “Coltrane of the Organ” for his adventurous harmony and probing lines.

I was interested to see if Dylan Howe’s tribute was going to use Larry Young’s material as the starting point or the end point of the exercise. Last year I saw John Scofield’s Lifetime tribute (Trio Beyond) use some of Larry Young’s material as a starting point. From the drum roll opening to Zoltan it sounded as though Dylan was recreating the sound of this classic album. With such great material to work with, this was no bad thing.

The second tune, Tyrone, is from Larry’s Into Somethin' album, featuring Grant Green on guitar. However, it is clear that there has been over forty years in the development of the electric guitar since Grant recorded the tune - wah wah, overdrive, slide guitar, Clapton, Hendrix, Page, Scofield, Metheny, Frisell, Holdsworth, Rosenwinkel. Mike Outram has phenomenal chops is and constantly inventive. That said, his playing he doesn’t have the funk of Scofield or the emotional pull of Rosenwinkel’s. These are sides of his playing that he may need to develop. I’d certainly like to hear more of him though.

The next tune was the standard Old Folks, which I know well from the Grant Green version (with Jack McDuff on organ). A lovely tune and another showcase for Mike Outram. The remaining tunes included a few of Ornette’s (e.g. Law Years), a Metheny tune and another from the Unity album (Beyond All Limits). They all shared strong, quirky, sometimes tricky, heads. The band had a nice, loose feel, and was sometimes a bit rough around the edges on the head arrangements (not surprising given that it was the first date of the tour).

Sam Crockatt’s tenor has the tone and reflective quality of Joe Henderson’s. Organist Ross Stanley (playing a Hammond XK3) sounded superb throughout. The Hammond tonewheel organ has such an expressive, organic feel - the instrument lives and breathes, the Leslie speaker filled the Komedia Bar with vibrating air. I could almost imagine what is would have been like walking into a New York jazz club circa 65-66. Like modern organists Sam Yahel and Larry Goldings, Ross plays bass in the left hand (as opposed to pedals) and often uses arpeggios in his soloing.

Dylan Howe (son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe) played with restless energy on a minimal kit. Falling off the stage while introducing the band was a great ice-breaker and he is an engaging MC. Overall, a really enjoyable gig. The only thing missing - my favourite track from the Unity album, The Moontrane.

Sunday 27 April 2008

The only existing video of Grant Green

I love Grant's playing and dedicated a site to him about ten years ago: The Grant Green Pages. Although Grant never made it as big as Wes in his lifetime, his Blue Note albums sold pretty well and, withe the re-release of many of them, he has has latterly become a big influence on many guitarists. His funky catalogue has been plundered for beats by many hip hop artists so you will have heard him without knowing it.

This film comes from a TV gig with Kenny Burrell and Barney Kessel. It's a solo on a blues (Blue Mist) and it typifies his exciting, relaxed, swinging style. I think it was recorded in London in the late Sixties.

Here are a few things I like about Grant:

  1. He can sound nonchalant even when playing the most blistering lines
  2. His time is fantastic - he can hold his own in the company of great rhythm sections, such as McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Bob Cranshaw
  3. Where many jazz guitarists go for a dull tone, Grant's is really bright and it helps his lines sing
  4. You don't have to be a guitarist to enjoy his recordings - Grant knew how to entertain
  5. He didn't stop developing in his life - many people write off his funky period, but the groove-based track really show how he can dig in, lead the band and create a sense of excitement

New recording

I've not posted for many months because there have been so many things going on.

Now, Matt Wall and I have just recorded a few tunes at a a studio in Steyning near Brighton. Matt plays 7-string nylon classical and I play the Sadowsky Jim Hall. We recorded it in a couple of hours, mostly one take. The full tracklisting is:
  • Groovy Samba
  • Joyspring
  • How Insensitive
  • Charade
  • You Stepped Out of a Dream
  • Manha de Carnaval
  • Moose the Mooche (bossa)
  • When Sunny Gets Blue
  • East of the Sun
The tunes are in the player in the sidebar (right). Enjoy!