The quiet pianist

John Horler

Until I heard John Horler perform at Southampton Jazz Club, he was depping for another player at the last moment, I have to admit to not being aware of him or knowingly having heard him play before. I very much enjoyed what I heard and saw that evening so, of course, just had to check him out further.

As it would happen John had released a solo album, john horler solo piano free and easy, on the Trio Records label, 2018. Normally I would have checked the album out before putting in an order but on this occasion I didn’t, I just took a punt: I was not disappointed.

There are thirteen tracks on this album, five of which are free pieces. These free pieces are short, nothing more than two minutes, but they are complete and a joy to listen to. John’s touch is delicate, thoughtful and he gives the notes he plays room to breathe.

The second track on the album is dedicated to his wife Poppy, who commissioned the album. “piece for poppy” is a beautiful composition played with a sense of reflection, a piece I could happily push the repeat button on as the more one listens the more is revealed – I also wonder what a piece dedicated to me might sound like.

There are no weak tracks on this album but listening through again I really enjoyed “beija flor” written by Nelson Cavaquinho. Having said that I only had to move on a couple of more tracks and Neal Hefti’s “after supper” is played and I think maybe that is the track I should be highlighting. The real joy of this album is John’s beautiful understated playing that grabs you from the outset and does not let you go until the last note of track thirteen. The quiet pianist of British Jazz should be listened to, enjoyed and shared.

Tracks played 26 April, 2019

Small hospital radio station big on jazz every Friday 4 ’til 6pm (GMT)

Sounds Like Jazz is a Gosport Hospital Radio production and these are the tracks played on the above date:

  • Jupiter by the Echoes of Ellington Jazz Orchestra from the album Jazz Planets, 2018
  • Giant Steps by John Coltrane from the album of the same title, 1959
  • No Stars (I’m Fancy Free) by Ella Fitzgerald from the album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook, 1958
  • Oleo by Miles Davis from the album Miles Davis Live at Olympia, 1960
  • Catch and Release by Nick Hempton from the album of the same name, 2015
  • She Did it Again by Michel Petrucciani from the album The Blue Note Years, 1993
  • East of the Sun (And West of the Moon) by Jazzmeia Horn form the album Social Call, 2017
  • 317 East 32nd St. by Allison Neale from the album I wished on the Moon, 2015
  • Sonny’s Playground by George Coleman from the album A Master Speaks, 2016
  • Pussy Cat Dues by Chris Biscoe from the album Profiles of Mingus, 2010
  • I Won’t Dance by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong from the album Ella & Louis Again, 1959
  • Rest Easy by Chris Biscoe & Allison Neale from the album Now & Then, 2015
  • Frenesi by Charlie Sepulveda & The Turnaround from the album Songs For Nat, 2018
  • Leila’s Blues by Gigi Gryce from the album Saying Something, 1960
  • Social Call by Jazzmeia Horn from the album of the same name, 2017
  • Life’s A Ball by Andre Previn from the album 4 to Go!, 1963
  • Waitress Winking by the Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra from the album Weapons of Mass Distraction, 2016
  • Claudeti by the Duduka Da Fonseca Trio from the album Duduka Da Fonseca Trio Plays Dom Salvador, 2018
  • I’m Going Down by Jazzmeia Horn from the album Social Call, 2017
  • Take Five by the Sachal Studio Orchestra from the album Sound of Asia

Carlos at Dizzy’s

I first came across bass player Carlos Henriquez listening to his album Bronx Pyramid, which I had read about on the latinjazznet.com, which is where I also discovered the Rodrigues brother Michael and Robert. So when I read that Carlos had released an album centred on the music of Dizzy Gillespie that also featured Michael Rodriguez on trumpet I knew it would very quickly become a part of my jazz collection.

rodbromusic.com

The album kicks off with “A Night in Tunisia” and the Afro-Cuban beat is there right from the start. Soloists Melissa Aldana, on tenor sax, and Michael Rodriguez make for a formidable front line with solid, superb backing from the rhythm section.

The first track runs for a little under nine minutes and I, for one, would have been happy if it had been extended as I am sure the audience at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, where the album was recorded, would have been too.

Michael Rodriguez again takes the trumpet solo on the second track “Groovin High”, which mixes Salsa and Afro-Cuban jazz to great effect. Anthony Almonte throws in some great vocals before things really kick off with track three, Bebop. This time Terrel Stafford takes the trumpet solo alongside saxophonist Melissa Aldana. The tempo is brisk but the notes crisp and clear and that Latin beat that drives through the piece makes for very enjoyable listening.

Dizzy Gillespie

All but two of the tracks on the album were written by Gillespie, “Tin Tin Deo” and “Trinidad, Goodbye” being the two exceptions. “Tin Tin Deo” is a well known tune that sounds like its been given a fresh coat of paint by Henriquez’s arrangement. “Trindad, Goodbye” is not so familiar a track to me, written Kenny Barron, but the musicianship, vocals, tempo and overall feel of the piece makes it a very fitting end to a terrific album – and I shall certainly to looking to find out more about Mellissa Aldana.

In the liner notes Carlos Henriquez writes:

I have arranged the Octet with an authentic rhythmic approach that Dizzy would have loved. We brought the sounds of modern Latin Jazz to the history that was bequeathed us

Carlos Henriquez: Dizzy Con Clave 201

Well I don’t think that Dizzy, who did after all initiate the Cubop era, would have disagreed with Carlos and that blend of the modern with the historical certainly works for me. Oh, and by the way, if you want to find out more about the Rodriguez brothers then find time to listen to their album Impromptu on Criss Cross Jazz

Louis who?

I recently picked up the album Here Comes Louis Smith on the Blue Note label. I did not do my usual thing of checking the album out first before ordering. I also had no idea who Louis Smith was (he died in 2016) or how I even came to be looking at the album in the first place. Having heard the album through a couple of times I have to ask: why I have I not heard of this trumpet player from Tennessee before?

Blue Note 52438

Here Comes Louis Smith was his debut album recorded in 1957 – it had originally been recorded for the Transition label but the company went out of business shortly afterwards and before the recording could be released in the spring of ’58. The album masters were acquired by Blue Note producer Alfred Lion. Louis had a stellar supporting group alongside him with Buckshot La Funke (Cannonball Adderley was signed to the Mercury label at the time so used a pseudonym) on alto sax. Duke Jordan and Tommy Flanagan shared piano duties with Doug Watkins on bass and drummer Art Taylor completing the rhythm section.

The album features four Louis Smith compositions and one tune each from Duke Pearson and Hoagy Carmichael. The Duke Pearson number, “Tribute to Brownie, opens the album with the drums of Art Taylor before Louis Smith comes in with a beautiful clear bop sound. If the opener does not grab your attention then go no further but, in my opinion, the rest of the album does not disappoint and is worthy of a hearing.

Of the four original compositions two are very well executed blues numbers: track 2 – “Brill’s Blues” and track 6 “Val’s Blues”. In fact track 2 features some really nice alto playing from Cannonball Adderley. Tracks 3 (“Ande”) and 5 (“South Side”) are good but it is “South Side” that stands out for me for both the group playing and the solo playing from Smith and Adderley. That leaves just one track to talk about, Hoagy Carmichaels “Star Dust”.

Carmichael wrote “Star Dust” in 1927 and it when on to become a standard that would be recorded by so many of the great and good in jazz music. On this version it is Smith’s solo trumpet work that stands out. The playing has a “haunting” quality to it that just makes everything around the listener disappear leaving only the sound of the trumpet to focus on.

[Those around Smith] make for a potent supporting cast, but the focus is mostly on the criminally obscure Louis Smith. After cutting his second Blue Note set and switching to teaching, Smith would not record again as a leader until 1978. All bop and ’50s jazz fans are strongly advised to pick up this CD ….

AllMusic Review by Scott Yano

As I wrote at the beginning of this piece, I have no idea how I came to be looking at this album in the first place but something must have prompted me to do so. I do have to agree with Mr Yano, Louis Smith is a “criminally obscure” artist whose music deserves to be played and heard.

The cost of vinyl

There was something posted on Instagram that caught my eye and it related to the cost of buying new vinyl LPs. The poster was basically arguing that now that vinyl is re-established as a viable music format, the cost of purchasing albums in that format should be coming down. This is not a new line of thinking as I can remember similar comments being made about the price of CDs back in the day and nothing much changing.

Jazz Journal December, 1956

I have a copy of Jazz Journal from 1956 and in the album review section not only the band members listed but also whether the release is an EP (remember those) or a twelve inch LP and how long each side of the release played. The review also lists the price that the music retailed at. The Modern Jazz Quartet released a 12in. LP (London LTZ-K 15022), which played for 18 min on each side at a cost of 37s. 6½d. This information is known but what does it mean to a modern day collector of vinyl?

The actual average earnings in April, 1955, the latest date for which figures are available, were £10 17s. 5d.

HANSARD 1803–2005 21 February 1956 Commons Sitting  NATIONAL FINANCE

With the cost of album being £1 17s. 6½d a record buyer in 1956 would be spending around 17% of their income, and that would be before rent, food, etc. had been paid for. National Service was still in place in 1956 and servicemen were paid £1 8s. a week but with all food, accommodation, uniform, and travel paid for – that MJQ album would have had to have been saved up for.

On the Waxtime label

The above wage figures are for those working in the industrial sector. In 2019, the average weekly wage for a worker in the same sector is £607 before tax, around £486 after tax. The MJQ album referred to above is available on vinyl today at £16 or 3.3% of income before other costs are taken in to account. So is the cost of vinyl today really too high and if so is that the fault of the record label or the artist?

All of us who like to own music would like to pay less for it and you can if you are prepared to download. However, MP3 as a format does not give you the tactility or artwork of the physical format of CD or vinyl. If you are going to”own” an MP3 library – when did you ever hear anyone offer to let you browse their digital library – you might as well stream and kill off the music industry altogether: see my post To stream or not to stream?

Tracks played 15 February, 2019

Small hospital radio station big on jazz every Friday 4 ’til 6pm (GMT)

Sounds Like Jazz is a Gosport Hospital Radio production and these are the tracks played on the above date:

  • Breaking the Silence by The Paul Fox Collective from the album of the same name, 2014
  • Just Like You by Omar Puente from the album From Here to There, 2009
  • Falling in Love With Love by Sheila Jordan from the album A Portrait of Sheila, 2012
  • Manhatten by Graham Woodhouse from the album Gettin’ Sentimental, 2004
  • Rocco’s Boogie Woogie by Maurice Rocco from the album Boogie Woogie Great Original Performances 1928 – 1941, 1992
  • Boca de Porton by The Barcelona Hot Angels from the album Añorando las horas pasadas, date unknown
  • The Trolley Song by Cecile McLorin Salvant from the album For One to Love, 2015
  • La Guaracha by The Rodriguez Brothers from the album Impromptu, 2015
  • Love Me or Leave Me by Billy Eckstine & His Orchestra form the album G.I Jive, a Jazz Greats Magazine compilation #069
  • Jolity by Dorothy Ashby from the album Hip Harp, 1958

To stream or not to stream?

Like many who blog I am on Twitter and because I write about jazz music I follow those who produce the music I write about, listen to or go to see play live. Recently, the jazz guitarist Nigel Price posted the following on his Twitter feed:

I sold a CD online today. That brought in more revenue than a year’s worth of Spotify streams. @Spotify is killing revenue for musicians. The industry has never been in more trouble than it is now. If you love music, buy direct from the musicians you love.

Nigel Price‏ @Nigethejazzer Jan 29

As you might imagine this helped generate an interesting thread resulting in Crispin Hunt, Chairman of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors, asking Nigel to get in touch.

Is streaming good for music?

Most of those who replied to Nigel’s original post support his view, as do I, but also recognize that streaming services do give the artist the opportunity to reach a wider audience than otherwise might be possible.

I do use Spotify but only to check out music before I purchase. I have discovered artists, bands and record labels that I otherwise would not have done and so in that respect Spotify has done me, and the artist whose music I buy, a favour. Unfortunately, not everyone appears to understand what the longer term effects of relying on streaming services might be:

Replying to @Nigethejazzer

I don’t think many people would sympathise with that point of view. People want to listen to the music they like; they’re not interested in financially supporting those musicians. I can listen to all the music I like for free on the internet; I’m not going to donate to musicians.

Hassan Tawfiq‏ @HTawfiq1 Jan 29

When musicians are unable to make a living from their music they will stop playing. Streaming only works for a small percentage of those artists who are currently in the public eye but for the rest, the percentage payed out in royalties is so low that to call it “income” is stretching the definition of the word to its absolute limit.

No doubt this topic will continue to run for some time and will, occasionally, resurface in another Twitter thread for people to air their views. The thread that sparked the writing of this post has reached its end but there were signs that a compromise could be reached. Inevitably the end user will have to pay, and rightly so, in order that those outside the current music mainstream can continue to live and produce music.

My bigger concern in all of this is how, in the future, music will be distributed:

The industry needs to change and it shouldn’t be up to the consumer to pay more for an archaic product. CDs are redundant …

CazzaBlanka5

Perhaps that is a topic for a different post.

Tracks played 8 February 2019

Small hospital radio station big on jazz every Friday 4 ’til 6pm (GMT)

Sounds Like Jazz is a Gosport Hospital Radio production and these are the tracks played on the above date:

  • I Cried for You by Champion Fulton from the album The Things We Did Last Summer, 2017
  • Passing by Min Rager from the album First Steps, 2009
  • That Old Feeling by Anita O’Day from the album Parkinson’s Choice, 1999
  • Pa Gozar by Ruben Gonzales from the album Chanchullo, 2000
  • Lincoln Drive by Dr Guy’s Musiqology fro the album Y the Q?, 2017
  • Work Song by Nina Simone from the album Parkinson’s Choice, 1999
  • Bebop by Carlos Henriquez from the album Dizzy Con Clave, 2018
  • Drum Boogie by Sticky Wicket & His Swing Orchestra from the album Drummin’ Man, 2007
  • Scoot by Adrian Cunningham from the album Ain’t That Right: The Music of Neal Hefti, 2014

Tracks played 1 February 2019

Small hospital radio station big on jazz every Friday 4 ’til 6pm (GMT)

Sounds Like Jazz is a Gosport Hospital Radio production and these are the tracks played on the above date:

  • Harmony of the Sea by Oriol Vallès and Joan Casares from the album Smack 7 Dab, 2017
  • Waiting for a Man Like You by Beverley Beirne from the album Jazz Just Wants to Have Fun, 2018
  • Scuttlebut by Artie Shaw & His Grammercy Five from the album The Complete Grammercy Five Sessions, 1989
  • Raval Hip Attitude by Oriol Vallès and Joan Casares from the album Smack 7 Dab, 2017
  • Precious by Esperanza Spalding from the album Esperanza, 2008
  • Polka by The Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet from the album of the same name, 2018
  • Bright Mississippi by Allen Toussaint from the album of the same name, 2009
  • Pent Up House by Ari Hoenig from the album NY Standard, 2018


Spanish hard bop anyone?

Oriol Vallès and Joan Casares appear to be the leaders of the quintet plus who produced an album in 2017 that goes by the title Smack 7 Dab, which can be found on the excellent Fresh Sound New Talent label. All the tracks on the album bar one are written by either Vallès or Casares, the final track is the exception with vocals written by Hugo Astudillo.

The group line up is: Oriol Vallès (trumpet), Joan Casares (drums), Lluc Casares (tenor sax), Joel González (piano), Pau Sala (bass). Guests: Perico Sambeat (alto sax on #3,4,6), Toni Belenguer (trombone on #3,4,6), Hugo Astudillo (vocals & alto sax on #9).

In the recording studio for Smack 7 Dab

Now to the album itself. For those who like to categorize their music I would put this album in the “contemporary mainstream” bracket. By that I mean that this album is, stylistically, firmly rooted in the bop, hard bop era of the forties and fifties but is by no means a modern copy of went before. The best example of what I am trying to say can be found on track three, “Raval Hip Attitude”, which has some fantastic trumpet playing on it, swings, introduces the alto sax of Perico Sambeat and the trombone of Toni Belenguer all underpinned by a good rhythm section.

Another great album from the Fresh Sound label

This is an album where all the musicians get a chance to shine without overstaying their welcome on any particular track. This album has barely left my CD player since getting it. It is writing and playing like this that gives me the pleasure that I only really find in jazz music. Even the final track, “Por Mi Fe Los Cuentos” (By My Faith the Tales), which features rap with a hip hop beat does not detract from the overall effect of the album due to the use of the trumpet, sax and keyboard supporting the drums of Joan Casares.

Fresh Sound New Talent does a terrific job of bringing new jazz talent to the fore (this is the label that gave us the superb saxophonist Sam Braysher) and the album Smack 7 Dab can be found at https://www.freshsoundrecords.com