Review: Those who've studied Tony Allen's distinctive drumming style often cite Art Blakey as an influence, so it's little surprise to find him paying tribute to the legendary jazz drummer on this superb album. Joined by his regular band, Allen covers a quartet of tracks written and recorded by Blakey and his band, the Jazz Messengers. The results are predictably impressive, with Allen's loose and polyrhythmic percussion providing a rock solid foundation for the horns, piano and double bass that sits atop. It's naturally closer to all-out jazz than to Afrobeat, but still bristles with the kind of punchy horns and life-affirming playing that characterizes Allen's work. "Thunder Suite", in which Allen drops a number of sweaty drum solos, is particularly potent.
Review: Since it was first released in the collective's native Brazil in 1978, the self-titled debut album from Guilherme Coutinho E O Groupo Stalo has become a sought-after item amongst collectors of Latin jazz. This reissue - the first of any kind - proves why. Offering a mixture of samba-soaked Latin jazz rhythms, sweet vocals, spacey analogue synthesizer sounds, Azymuth style electric piano motifs, MPB style songwriting and Brazilian jazz-funk stylistic tropes, it's a joyously sunny and quirkily off-kilter affair that impresses from start to finish. Production wise it's a little loose and fuzzy round the edges, but that only adds to the album's obvious allure. Recommended!
Chatanooga Choo Choo/Don't Be That Way/Tributo A Martin Luther King (3:08)
Pourquoi/Arrasta A Sandalia/Morena, Boca De Ouro/Rosa Morena (7:42)
Birthday Morning/Can't Take My Eyes Off You (2:59)
O Dialogo (2:22)
Review: Pianist Luis Carlos Vinhas first rose to prominence during the height of Brazil's bossa-nova movement in the early 1960s. By the middle of the decade, he was releasing albums under his own name, and in 1968 delivered what would become his most colourful and exciting set: the effervescent Latin jazz psycehedelia of "O Som Psicodelico de Luiz Carlos Vinhas". As richly detailed and vivid as its accompanying cover art, the set still stands up all these years on - as this essential Mad About Records reissue proves. Backed by a big band, a guitarist with tons of effects pedals and recordings of Amazonian wildlife, the pianist delivered a set of tropical jazz/psychedelic samba fusion that sounds every bit as hallucinatory now as it did way back in 1968. In a word: essential.
Review: Those well-versed in New York jazz should recognise all of the musicians involved in this delightfully mystical collaborative album, as all have been active since the 1970s or early '80s. For the uninitiated, the all-star "supergroup" behind "Welcome Adventure" is made up of legendary drummer Gerald Cleaver, woodwind and brass master Daniel Carter (tenor sax, trumpet, flute), bassist Willian Parker and pianist William Parker. The resultant music is mostly magical, with highlights including the joyous, ever-building excitement of opener "Majestic Travel Energy" (a whirlwind of jaunty sax lines, bright piano solos, frisky drums and undulating double bass), and epic flipside cut "Ear-regularities" (an (at times) discordant and dystopian free-jazz number that rewards those who play close attention.
Review: It may not be one of Idris Muhammad's most celebrated albums, but "Kabsha" is arguably one of the most notable. For starters, the rollcall of musicians featured on the 1980 release is incredibly impressive, with Art Farmer collaborator Ray Drummond on Drums and George Coleman (once a member of Max Roach's regular band) and Pharoah Sanders taking it in turn to showcase their tenor saxophone skills. Musically, it sees the drummer and his distinguished guests offer up a fine selection of post-bop treats. Highlights include the bustling, loose-limbed brilliance of opener "GCCG Blues", the unshakeable energy of "St M" - which includes a series of virtuoso drum solos by Muhammad - and the fizzing joy that is closing cut "Little Feet".
Review: It seems fitting that Switzerland's We Release Jazz is reissuing the Boillat Therace Quintet and Benny Bailey's rare 1973 set "My Greatest Love", because it's undeniably one of the most sought-after sets in the Swiss jazz canon. The six tracks touch on modal, hard-bop and soul-jazz, combining traditional acoustic jazz instrumentation with electric piano, guitar and bass. As a result, the album is warm, breezy and intoxicating, with highlights including frenetic opener "Prompt", a stunning, energetic and Latin-tinged cover of Freddy Hubbard's "Gilbraltar", and the simmering, loved-up wonder that is the sublime title track. Closing cut "Gemini", a jaunty, flute-laden affair with a particularly addictive bassline, is also superb.
Review: While he would go on to be one of the most lauded jazz guitarists of all time, Gabor Szabo was still a relative unknown when he released his first album on Impulse, "Gypsy '66", in 1965. Backed by the gentle Latin rhythms and bossa-nova tinged easy listening sounds of ten-piece band GaryMcFarland and Co, the album saw Szabo showcase his virtuoso playing while setting out the distinctive fusion style he would later become famous for. As this remastered CD edition proves, it's still a superb set. Szabo's expressive, fluid and emotive guitar playing stands impresses throughout, and in particular on the album's numerous unlikely but inspired covers (see "Walk On By", "Yesterday" and lesser-celebrated Beatles number "If I Fell").
Review: John Coltrane made many essential and influential albums over the course of his career, but few were quite as revolutionary at the time of release as 1965's "Ascension". Here presented in stunning new sound thanks to a meticulous re-mastering job, the album saw Coltrane abandon the constraints of the quartet in favour of a larger line-up of musicians and a freestyle approach in which each player was given carte blanche to improvise their own solo in turn. It was revolutionary at the time and remains a stunningly loose, ever-changing work that rewards repeat listens. Famously, two different editions, featuring slightly different recordings, were issued back in 1965; this CD edition includes both 40-minute works.