Sunday, April 18, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Steeped in the Jazz Tradition

Dave Douglas/Brass Ecstasy: Spirit Moves. 2008. Greenleaf Music: GRE-1010.

Dave Douglas: trumpet
Vincent Chancey: french horn
Luis Bonilla: trombone
Marcus Rojas: tuba
Nasheet Waits: drums

Music spun out of brass and drums that carries with it the infectious joy and introspection of the artists forcing air through brass tubes and dragging sticks over cymbals. Like a New Orleans marching ensemble that takes several detours through the downtown of North American culture. Brass Ecstasy is a brilliant vehicle for Dave Douglas' considerable writing chops (to say nothing of his playing chops) that also manages to convey a deep love for the music and personality of Lester Bowie. Bowie's inspiration is never far from the surface of Spirit Moves and it frequently comes bubbling out into the open with sly turns at whimsy and stylistic mash-ups. It's hard to imagine a cast of players more capable of animating the legacy of Bowie into such a vibrant affair. A great recording - as all Dave Douglas projects tend to be. The accompanying DVD in the "deluxe edition" providing a sense of time and place for this December 2008 recording session.

Charlie Haden/Liberation Music Orchestra: The Ballad of the Fallen. 1983. ECM: 1248.

Charlie Haden: bass
Carla Bley: piano, glockenspiel, arrangements
Don Cherry: pocket trumpet
Sharon Freeman: french horn
Mick Goodrick: guitar
Jack Jeffers: tuba
Michael Mantler: trumpet
Paul Motian: drums, percussion
Jim Pepper: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
Dewey Redman: tenor saxophone
Steve Slagle: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, flute
Gary Valente: trombone

There are few things as stirring as what the Liberation Orchestra performs. Protest music focused on humanity, dignity and resolve in the face of injustice and indifference. And Ballad of the Fallen delivers an overwhelming display of compositional, arrangement and performance excellence. Particularly the great Haden original "Silence," which received its debut recording with this release. The presence of Latin themes and music drawing its political dimension from the inhumane policies of the Reagan administration toward South and Central America. Speaking out for people over ideologues and violence. Passion in the form of a big band with Carla Bley as its heart and Charlie Haden as its conscience.

Art Blakey/The Jazz Messengers: The Jazz Messengers at the Cafe Bohemia volumes 1 & 2. 1955 (Rudy Van Gelder Edition, 2001). Blue Note Records: 7243 5 32148 2 1 and 7243 5 32149 2 0.

Art Blakey: drums
Kenny Dorham: trumpet
Hank Mobley: tenor saxophone
Horace Silver: piano
Doug Watkins: bass

Mono recording has never sounded so good. The feel running throughout this music is so vibrant, so alive and so clear (a testament to both Rudy Van Gelder's remastering skills as well as his initial engineering at the original 1955 date). One can hear the spark of hard bop as the "new thing" with all the pioneering vitality and improvisational wits applied in the moment. My ears continue to be drawn to the Kenny Dorham arrangements, his original compositions and that trumpet playing of his. Documentation like this is a gift.

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