Jazz

Boz Scaggs – Speak Low (2008)

Boz Scaggs – Speak Low (2008)

There’s a reason it took Boz Scaggs five years to complete the follow up to “But Beautiful,” a terrific, small-group collection of American songbook classics that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard jazz charts in 2003. Scaggs aimed to add more instrumental complexity to his next recording, but was sensitive to the pitfalls associated with using a post-Connick, perhapsRead More

Miles Davis All-Stars – Broadcast Sessions 1958-59 (2008)

Miles Davis All-Stars – Broadcast Sessions 1958-59 (2008)

There is a grail-like anticipation to these recordings, captured during four live performances just as trumpeter Miles Dewey Davis’s career transformed from a twinkling light at dusk into remarkable super nova. Too, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill sideman constellations; they are, actually, all stars. Namely, the band features a still-rising John Coltrane. Also Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley and Red Garland. NotRead More

Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Suite 4 y 20 (1993)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Suite 4 y 20 (1993)

NICK DERISO: While Rubalcaba was making troubling (if not downright boneheaded) political decisions, he was also proving to be an inspiring (and sometimes downright thrilling) young pianist. Not long after Rubalcaba said the crippling Communist regime in his native Cuba wasn’t all that bad, after all — much to the consternation of expats like saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera — he issuedRead More

Lionel Hampton Orchestra – Swiss Radio Days: Basel 1953, Part 2 (2008)

NICK DERISO: Finding an impressive record by Lionel Hampton, known for both his harmonic and rhythmic sophistication, is easy. Finding one that delights as much as its intrigues anymore, however, is rare. His legacy, now more than ever, is secure: Born in Louisville, Ky., in 1908, Hamp would record hundreds of albums over six decades before his death at 94Read More

Terence Blanchard – Simply Stated (1991)

Terence Blanchard – Simply Stated (1991)

This record was, Blanchard told me, his love letter to Miles Davis. In retrospect, it was the beginning of his ascension from young lion into modern standard bearer, too. Born in New Orleans, and brought up in one of the final incarnations of Art Blakey’s traveling finishing school the Jazz Messengers, Blanchard was often inappropriately compared to the similarly resumedRead More

Miles Davis and Quincy Jones – Miles and Quincy: Live at Montreux (1993)

NICK DERISO: Featuring the classic arrangements of seminal Davis mentor Gil Evans, “Montreux” includes long-awaited live runthroughs of key selections from their collaborations — including “Boplicity” from “Birth of the Cool” as well as several cuts from “Miles Ahead,” “Porgy and Bess” and “Sketches of Spain.” On “Miles and Quincy,” we find a bright, sometimes rip-roaring backing band conducted byRead More

Forgotten series: Duke Ellington and John Coltrane (1962)

To take the old-school harmonic brilliance of Duke Ellington into the realm of John Coltane — soon to establish himself as the picture of avant garde, stimulatingly free, out there in such a way as to legitimately draw comparisons with the spiritual — was, you imagine, a challenge of equal measure for both. Coltrane’s core band is joined by EllingtonRead More

Les McCann + Lou Rawls – On the Soul Side (1994)

NICK DERISO: Pianist Les McCann is something like a lesser Horace Silver — somebody with a soulful, bluesy delivery who often strayed a step too far into pop. This release showed why: Despite its many joys, a fat electric bass gave the CD an unwanted fusion-y feel — in particular, on the otherwise pleasant “Shambala” and the unfortunately named “NewRead More

Forgotten series: Dave Brubeck – Trio Brubeck (1993)

“Trio Brubeck,” though not the first time that Dad Dave had collaborated with the kids, had the randy feel of a whole new direction for the legendary pianist. Following the 1970s recording “Two Generations of Brubeck,” and the more recent “Quiet as the Moon” with son Darius (also on MusicMasters), Brubeck sat down with other sons Chris and Dan forRead More

Betty Carter, with Kenny Burrell – Inside Betty Carter (1964)

NICK DERISO: Starting her career with a winning performance at a Paradise Theater amateur contest in her native Detroit, Betty Carter first came to a large number of ears as a vocalist with Lionel Hampton’s group in the late 1940s. (Hamp, in fact, is the one who gave her the early nickname Betty Bebop.) Later, she partnered with Ray CharlesRead More