Van Morrison – Born to Sing: No Plan B ★★★★

Blue Note

Van Morrison (v, p, el g, as), Paul Moran (Hammond Org, kys p, t), Alistair White (tb), Christopher White (ts, ct), Dave Keary (g), Paul Moore (b) and Jeff Lardner (d). Rec. date not stated

Van Morrison has jazz in his blood, only a fool would think otherwise, and Born to Sing is the latest proof although none is needed. His second for Blue Note, the first What’s Wrong With This Picture? was notable for the poignant ‘Little Village’, a song his fans immediately took to their hearts. Chances are the title track ‘Born to Sing’ will be joining the pantheon of his best songs of the last 25 years, up there with the wondrous ‘Fast Train’, ‘Only a Dream’, and ‘Celtic New Year’. On this, his first studio album since Keep it Simple, this time recorded unusually in his home town of Belfast, Morrison has come up with the goods once again after the commercial and critical success of Keep It Simple and the huge interest shown when he followed it by releasing a live album based on his great 1960s masterpiece, Astral Weeks.

Why he delivers here is mainly because of the anthemic title track, with its showband feel and rousing lyrics, although other tunes such as the bluesy ‘Pagan Heart’ are among a string of strong songs. ‘Close Enough For Jazz’, which adds words to an older instrumental version of the song, is a grower, with some deep-down low singing from Morrison, who turned 67 at the end of August, and a melody that recalls some of his playful work with Georgie Fame on albums such as How Long Has This Been Going On? ‘Educating Archie’ is the joker in the pack, recalling in its title, but not in its lyrics, an old radio show, later on TV, featuring a self willed ventriloquist’s dummy eventually ruling the roost. The album, which also tackles issues facing society including the relentless pursuit of money whatever the cost on the song ‘If In Money We Trust’, has a stripped down small band backing with fine trombone, good horn unisons and a stand-out electric guitar intro cutting the air like a razor on ‘Pagan Heart’.

 – Stephen Graham

 

Ian Shaw – A Ghost In Every Bar ★★★★

SPR014CD
Ian Shaw (v, p), Simon Wallace (p) and Sue Richardson (flan). Rec. 2-3 April 2012

Fran Landesman (1927-2011) will forever be associated with the two songs, now standards, she penned with Tommy Wolf in the 1950s: ‘Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most’ and ‘Ballad Of The Sad Young Men’. In fact, Landesman’s most fruitful creative partnership came in the latter part of her life when she joined forces with pianist and composer Simon Wallace in 1994. And it’s their songs, of which they penned over 400 in a 17-year period, that make up the meat of this 15-track anthology.

Recorded by some of the jazz greats including Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter, Landesman confessed towards the end of her life how tired she was of hearing ‘Spring’ until she heard Ian Shaw sing it. High praise indeed. Given that imprimatur, and with her co-writer Wallace in the piano chair (for the most part), it would be no exaggeration to say that the interpretations of A Ghost In Every Bar are definitive. Shaw is brilliantly insightful in every song, whether it’s the salutary caught-with-your-pants-down tale of ‘Feet Do Your Stuff’, the slacker anthem ‘Small Day Tomorrow’, or the confessional ‘Scars’ (the song Landesman was most proud of). The quartet of previously unrecorded songs is an unexpected treat, from the slow, slightly disquieting tread of ‘Stranger’ (‘I was never someone normal, I was always a surprise’) to the bittersweet ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, one of three tracks in which Shaw assumes piano duties. Oh, and his take on ‘Spring’, beautifully accompanied by Wallace, really is quite brilliant.

– Peter Quinn

Django Bates’ Belovèd – Confirmation ★★★★

LostMarbleLM007
Django Bates (p,celeste, v), Petter Eldh (b), (v), Peter Bruun (d, v) and special guest Ashley Slater (v). Rec. not stated

Try not to think of Confirmation as a sequel to this band’s extraordinary debut Belovèd Bird. Where that recording quested deep into the heart of Charlie Parker’s music, Confirmation reveals much more of Bates’ sensibility as pianist and composer. There’s only a smattering of Bird songs, and each is done reasonably straight: ‘Donna Lee’ is a song of joy and most intriguingly ‘Now’s The Time’, frenetic on Belovèd Bird, is revisited with a gentleness and good humour that surprises. But then Bates is all about surprise, not least with the closing Bacharach song, ‘A House Is Not A Home’, replete with Ashley Slater’s gorgeous vocals.

Bates’ own songs are drawn from different eras – ‘Senza Bitterness’, an intimate ballad, harks back to pre-Human Chain days while ‘Peonies As Promised’ is a song of thanks for Bates’ new post as professor of jazz in Bern. With most of this material deeply road tested before recording, and a spacious studio sound, Confirmation may surprise those who find Bates too tricksy and knotted. This is deeply considered music, played with relish for the telling detail and an emotional range that confirms, if confirmation were needed, Bates’ stature as a pianist and composer.

– Andy Robson

Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Chick Ganimian – Oud Vibrations ★★★

Fingertips | Ahmed Abdul-Malik (oud, b), Charles “Chick” Ganimian (oud) and His Orientals Rec. date not stated

Yusuf Lateef’s 1957 album Prayer To The East is often cited as one of the first eastward investigations in jazz, but this compilation repackages two dates from the late-1950s that prove others weren’t too far behind. Ahmed AbdulMalik was a New Yorker of Sudanese descent who provided double bass for Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. But it was as a player of the lute-like oud that he dug deeper into his roots on albums like 1958’s Jazz Sahara and, represented here, 1959’s East Meets West, which tastefully collides traditional Middle Eastern and north African folk tunes with deep, modal jazz and bullish hard bop.

Charles “Chick” Ganimian was an Armenian-American oud player who brought Armenian and Turkish flavours into western music, and went on to collaborate with Herbie Mann in the 1960s. His one LP as a leader, included here, was Come With Me To The Casbah – a session with an even wider range than Abdul-Malik’s, roaming from pulsating, percussionheavy dervish jams to R&B stompers and mellow readings of classics like ‘My Funny Valentine’. Undoubtedly far-out at the time, today both these sets give off a pleasing waft of kitsch.

– Daniel Spicer

Jazzwise September 2012 Issue CD Reviews List

All these albums are reviewed in the September 2012 issue of Jazzwise - to read them all click here to subscribe here and get a FREE CD.

New Releases

 4 Sided Triangle – 4 Sided Triangle – Pig Records

 Albare iTD  – Long Way – Enja

Tone Åse/Thomas Strønen – Voxpheria – Gigafon

Tom Bancroft: Trio Red – First Hello to Last Goodbye – Interrupto Music

Django Bates’ Belovèd – Confirmation – LostMarble

Bob Belden’s Animation – Transparent Heart – RareNoise Records

Ralph Bowen – Total Eclipse – Posi-Tone

Brooklyn Jazz Underground – A Portrait of Brooklyn – BJU

Joe Chambers – Moving Pictures Orchestra – Savant

Trish Clowes – And in the Night-Time She is There – Basho

Raynald Colom – Rise – Jazz Village

Brian Bromberg – Bromberg Plays Hendrix / In The Spirit of Jobim / Compared To That

– Artistry Music

Domancich/Avenel/ Goubert featuring Dave Liebman – Free 4 – Cristal

Simon Goubert – Background – Le Chant du Monde

Dans les arbres – Canopée – ECM

Hilario Durán Trio –Motion – Cristal Records

Sidsel Endresen / Stian Westerhus – Didymoi Dreams – Rune Grammofon

Wayne Escoffery – The Only Son of One – Sunnyside

Orrin Evans – Flip the Script – Posi-Tone

Curtis Fuller – Down Home – Capri

Jared Gold – Golden Child – Posi-Tone

JazzKamikaze – The Return of Jazzkamikaze – Stunt

Urs Leimgruber, Jacques Demierre, Barre Phillips – Montreuiljazzwerkstatt

Joe Locke/Geoffrey Keezer Group – Signing – Motéma

Nick Malcolm Quartet – Glimmers – FMR Records

Grégoire Maret Grégoire Maret Membran

Virginia Mayhew Quartet – Mary Lou Williams – The Next 100 Years – Renma

Joe Morris/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver – Altitude – AUM Fidelity

Gerardo Núñez – Travesía – ACT Music

Ivo Perelman – The Foreign Legion

Red Baraat – Chaal Baby – SinJ Records

Christian Scott – Christian aTunde Adjuah – Concord

Aleks Sever – Danger Girl – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rick Simpson – Semi Wogan – Sayso Records

Ian Shaw –A Ghost In Every Bar – Splashpoint Records

Solveig Slettahjell and Morten Qvenild – Antologie – EmArcy/Universal

Steve Smith and Vital Information – Live! One Great Night – Qrious

Jesse Stacken – Bagatelles for trio – Fresh Sound New Talent

Christoph Stiefel Inner Language Trio – Live! – Basho Records

Bugge Wesseltoft & Henning Kraggerud – Last Spring – ACT

Alex Tassel – The First Element: The Sea – Naïve

David S.Ware/Planetary Unknown – Live At Jazzfestival Saalfelden – AUM Fidelity

Trevor Watts and Veryan Weston – Dialogues in Two Places – Hi4Head

 Short Cuts New Releases

Gianni Bardaro Soul Blueprint (Emarcy)

Beverley Beirne and her Quartet Seasons of Love (BB)

The Country Black/Blue Hearts (Found You Recordings)

The Andy Drudy Disorder The Blues Civilisation EP (SplashPoint)

Natalie Duncan Devil In Me (Verve)

Eastern Eyes Live at Moods in Zurich (TexitMusic)

Harris Eiesenstadt Canada Day Octet (482 Music)

Bruce Forman Trio Formanism (B4Man Music)

Sara Gazarek Blossom & Bee (Palmetto Records)

Chris Greene Quartet A Group Effort (Single Malt Recordings)

Rich Halley 4 Back from Beyond (Pine Eagle Records)

Randy Hoexter Group Fromage (Randyhoexter.com)

Jim Holman Explosion! (Delmark)

Hot Club of San Francisco Live @ Yoshi’s SF (Azica Records)

Arthur Kell Quartet Jester (BJU Records)

Joe Leader Seductive Sax (Leading Note Ltd)

Keith Loftis Simply, Loftis (Longtone Music)

Ryan Meagher Tone (Fresh Sound New Talent)

Shai Maestro Trio Shai Maestro Trio (Laborie)

Hendrik Meurkens/Gabriel Espinosa Celebrando (Zoho)

The Second Approach Trio Beeswing (Leo)

Federico Ughi Songs for Four Cities (Skycap)

Urumchi Nar (r)(Leo)

Alamaailman Vasarat Valta (Nordic Notes)

Andrea Veneziani Trio Oltreoceano (www.andreaveneziani.com)

Vloeimans Weber Live at the Concertgebouw (Challenge)

Reissues

Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Chick Ganimian – Oud Vibrations – Fingertip

Joe Alexander Quintet – Blue Jubilee – Fresh Sound FSR

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Tough!/Hard Bop – Solar Records

Kenny Burrell Trio – A Night at the Vanguard – Essential Jazz Classics

Ray Charles – The Complete ABC Recordings – Chant du Monde

Don Cherry – Organic Music Society – Caprice

Stanley Clarke – Time Exposure / Find Out / Hideaway – BGO Records

Ornette Coleman – The Music Of Ornette Coleman/Skies Of America – BGO Records

Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis & Johnny Griffin Quintet Griff & Lock – The Complete Studio Recordings 1960 – 1961 FreshSounds

Miles Davis – Live in Copenhagen 1964 – Domino Records

 Al Di Meola – Tour De Force – Live / Scenario – BGO Records

Terje Rypdal Odyssey: In Studio In Concert ECM

Art Farmer – Four Classic Albums – Portrait Of Art Farmer/Modern Art/ Art Farmer Quintet Featuring Gigi Gryce/ The Jazztet & John Lewis – Avid

Jan Garbarek – Dansere – ECM

Junior Mance – The Junior Mance Trio – Fresh Sound

Alphonse Mouzon – The Man Incognito – Soul Brother Records

Oscar Peterson Trio – The Trio Live From Chicago – Essential Jazz Classics

Pharoah Sanders – In The Beginning 1963-4 – ESP

Zoot Sims – Leader & Sideman: Four Classic Albums – Avid Jazz

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