Most acoustic "Real Thing" jazz goes right thru me. Most electric jazz-rock sounds like noise 2 me. So this should be fun....
Florence + The Machine -- Only if for a Night, Shake it Out.
John Coltrane -- GIANT STEPS: Giant Steps, Cousin Mary, Countdown, Spiral, Syeeda's Song Flute, Naima, Mr. P.C.
Weather Report -- Birdland, Mysterious Traveler, Boogie Woogie Waltz, The Elders, Night Passage, Freezing Fire, A Remark You Made; Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz (live).
Miles Davis -- KIND OF BLUE: So What?, Freddy Freeloader, Blue in Green, All Blues, Flamenco Sketches.
John Coltrane -- A LOVE SUPREME: Acknowledgement, Resolution, Pursuance, Psalm.
In case you missed my previous raves, Florence's "Shake it Out" is still the best thing I've heard in years. "Only if for a Night" gets better with each listening, 2....
Now then, Coltrane's GIANT STEPS is 1 of my favorite jazz-blowing albums ever, right up there with Thelonious Monk's UNDERGROUND. It's got great, memorable themes & lotsa activity; I love Coltrane's sax & Art Taylor's breezy drumming, & just the SOUND of the thing. It's not 2 heavy, & it makes great waking-up music. Not much more 2 say, Xcept that you can go YEARS Btween listenings & still remember the themes -- I know, Bcos I DID. "Giant Steps" is probly the most memorable track here -- but as they say, it's all good.
Weather Report. Hmmm. Wish I could like them more. The "live" version of "Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz" on their 8:30 album is an absolute screaming monster -- I put it on as a comparison against the 1st 7 above-listed trax on WR's BEST OF. NE rock or prog-rock fan would probly love the live track, which is probly the best thing these guys ever did, near as I can tell. In the studio, well....
"Birdland" sounds like a TV game-show theme, but it DOES build up some bouncy drive. I still think Manhattan Transfer's vocal version is marginally better. It should just HIT HARDER, & it doesn't.
"Mysterious Traveler" ... is mysterious. "Boogie Woogie Waltz" bubbles & simmers 4 a LONG time -- almost 9 mins -- B4 it gets where it wants 2 go, but the beat is unstoppable & tough 2 ignore. These guys R at their best when saxist Wayne Shorter is screaming & keybsguy Joe Zawinul's massed machines R burbling away. But there's no big finish here. This just sounds like a blueprint 4 the screaming live version.
"The Elders" is a little eerie & inconclusive. "Night Passage" features an almost big-band horn sound. "A Remark You Made" has some nice soaring sax. But overall, all this stuff is 2 lite & airy, not heavy enuf. It should HIT HARDER. Check out the live album instead, you'll have no complaints....
As I said, most acoustic "Real Jazz" leaves me cold, I miss the electricity. But Miles' KIND OF BLUE also makes 4 good waking-up music. "So What?" has nice bass work from Paul Chambers & good sax from Coltrane & Cannonball Adderley. The horns jump right out at you. There's also swinging backup from Chambers & drummer Jimmy Cobb.
"Freddie Freeloader" has swinging Xtroverted piano from Wynton Kelly, & Miles plays more here. There's more nice sax from Adderley & Coltrane, & the brief theme statement at the end with all 3 horns blending 2gether is really nice.
I should note that my only previous Xperiences with Miles R the moody IN A SILENT WAY, the unlistenable LIVE/EVIL, & the rather nice AURA. I'm tempted 2 say the rock&roll influence didn't do Miles much good, but mayB I've just heard the wrong stuff. KIND OF BLUE is much more open & approachable than the later electric stuff -- that's probly why it's a jazz classic, right?
"Blue in Green" has Miles on muted trumpet in a very quiet duet with pianist Bill Evans. Moody late-nite jazz. "All Blues" starts swinging about 4 or 5 mins in -- after 11-1/2 mins it still seems like it gets cut off 2 short.
The closing "Flamenco Sketches" is hushed & beautiful, & again the horns jump right out at you. 9-1/2 mins seems 2 short....
Onward. Coltrane's A LOVE SUPREME is VERY diffrent from GIANT STEPS. It's WAY noisier & a LOT more active. Elvin Jones's drumming is all over the place on "Acknowledgement." So is Coltrane. Sometimes he screeches. & I LIKE the chanting by the members of the quartet.
"Resolution" is amazingly active, with Coltrane SCREAMING & Jones all over the drum kit. 7-1/2 mins of this seems awfully short.
"Pursuance" opens with a torrential 90-second drum solo from Jones, a brief statement from Trane, & then FINALLY some nice McCoy Tyner piano -- he's bn in the background 4 the whole 1st 1/2 of the album. Jones is still all over the place. These guys R FEROCIOUS -- like they've got energy 2 BURN. Certainly they didn't need NE electric instruments 2 get their point across. There's another brief solo from Jones, then a rather Indian-sounding bass solo from Jimmy Garrison -- a chance 4 everybody else 2 take a breather?
"Psalm" has lotsa hushed drama ... that doesn't really lead 2 a big finish. This is more like letting out a deep breath, a sense of resolution & not-quite-calm at the end.
It's gonna take me a few more listenings, but I can see why this was acclaimed as a jazz classic -- even if it's just 4 Jones' amazing drumming....
COMING SOON: Another Jazz Moment....