Tuesday, September 20, 2005

New Monk & Trane, Bad Plus cd, etc

I'm swamped in new cds here!!! Drowning to be more precise. September/October is always really busy in the record industry, since everyone wants to have their album out in time for Christmas, and this year is no exception. A few real short items on some of the notable new albums that are in the pile-

Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane - Live at Carnegie Hall
It might not be the jazz version of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but it's close, as this historically significant group was terribly under recorded - and now, lo and behold from the VOA archives, surfaces a PRISTINE concert recording from November 29th 1957. Never before released OR broadcast in the US. The music is as good as you would think, maybe even better than you would think, everyone is at their creative peak - I especially like this period of Coltrane's evolution as an artist, and it's quite interesting. This will without doubt be the record of the year. Let's hope the rest of the concert, featuring Billie Holiday, Dizzy, Chet Baker, Ray Charles and Sonny Rollins survives and will be released!

Marc Johnson - Shades of Jade
Talk about an all star lineup - John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Eliane Elias, etc. It's on ECM but it doesn't sound like an ECM record, wonderful compositions by Marc and Eliane, it's the kind of cd that would be easy to pass over in the record store, but it's a gem.

The Bad Plus - Suspicious Activity
I'm not a huge Bad Plus fan, but I'm listening to their new cd right now as I type this (first listen!) and I must say something is different. The formula is the same, but they sound more musically mature. The other albums didn't really do it for me, this one just makes a lot more sense. Perhaps that's not a good thing, who knows, maybe I'll hate it after a few more listens. It sounds like an album that might actually still sound decent in 10 years, which I'm not sure you can say for their other records. There's a clarity to this record that I didn't hear in the others. But I'm still listening.

Bebo Valdes - Bebo de Cuba
His son may be more famous with American audiences but this guy is still alive, making great music in his 80's - he's like the Bud Powell of Cuba (not that he plays bop per say but he's on that level of importance). This is a new 3 disc set, 2 cds, and a DVD, one big band, one of "jam sessions" both with like likes of Paquito D'Rivera, Ray Vega, Diego Urcola, Bobby Porcelli, etc - basically the cream of the crop of NYC latin jazz musicians. His compositions and arrangements are brilliant, they are so perfect, they could not be improved. His arrangements have an "airy" feel to them which I don't hear in a lot of latin jazz or even contemporary big band writing. And he writes great tunes, and is a wonderful pianist too. Great stuff.


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