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George H. Soule RSS Feed (Edwardsville, Illinois United States)
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Take a Little Walk with Me
Take a Little Walk with Me
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electric and eclectic, November 12, 2002
After his first acoustic album for Elektra in 1965, Tom Rush followed up with this electric/acoustic album. Like the earlier album, this one is eclectic. It's a blend of rhythm and blues tracks--early rock 'n roll--and traditional blues mixed with some original songs by urban folk singers. This causes a mild musical schizophrenia, a bifurcation of focus. There are some Chess tracks: Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry each contributed a song. Bo Diddley originally recorded Dixon's "You Can't Tell a Book by the Cover" and wrote "Who Do You Love." Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business" is less known than his classics. It's a song for adults rather than the adolescent audience of "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Sweet Little Sixteen", and it demonstrates his ability to telescope long narrative phrases within the structure of rock 'n roll songs. Incidentally, Berry still plays this song in concert (last month, anyway). Rush acquits himself well here, playing acoustic guitar with Al Kooper on lead. He works Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" within the tradition, imitating Bo's larger than life vocal delivery. There's a nice rendition of Buddy Holly's "Love's Made a Fool of You" and an original version of "Money Honey." In "On the Road Again" the band, featuring Kooper on lead guitar and Harvey Brooks on bass, jells. This is a great traveling song--a trucking song for a rambling man. The Eric Von Schmidt Calypso song "Joshua Gone Barbados" fits its idiom and subject. Folk song has always been a vehicle for protest, and Von Schmidt chose the islands for his subject here. Rush's treatment is effective, but he's even more effective on Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues" and Von Schmidt's "Turn Your Money Green." The latter contains obvious borrowings from traditional blues, and Rush's delivery, accompanied by fine guitar work, is very convincing. In these songs as in Rush's arrangement of "Sugar Babe" the guitar and vocals mesh without straining. The acoustic tracks are the best of this album, and the highlight is Rush's rendition of "Galveston Flood," a bottleneck classic. This album is uneven, meaning that not all of the tracks are classic. Nevertheless, the acoustic tracks are well worth the purchase price.


Tom Rush
Tom Rush
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten classic, November 12, 2002
This review is from: Tom Rush (Audio CD)
I've been hoping for this reissue of Tom Rush's initial release for Elektra for a long time because it is one of my favorite albums. I bought the vinyl when it came out in 1965 and played it to death. Tom Rush was among that group of educated urban folk/blues musicians in the '60s--a group that included John Hammond Jr., Dave Van Ronk, Eric Von Schmidt, Geoff Muldaur, Danny Kalb, John Sebastian, etc. in the East and Jorma Kaukonen and John Fahey in the West. (Loosely arranged around Cambridge and Berkeley.) Rush is faithful to the traditions on this album which features excellent acoustic guitar work and vocals that are uniformly convincing. Half of the songs on the record are traditional songs. He treats these with reverence and interprets them originally. There is nothing fake or posed in the way Rush presents folk music and blues songs. Further, the collection is eclectic--not just blues or just folk songs but a delightful mix. The first song "Long John" combines the title song with "Another Man done Gone." On "If Your Man Gets Busted," Rush combines elements of Robert Johnson blues songs accompanied by fine bottleneck work in a convincing performance. The line about the big city women: "Got both hands full of gimme / Got a mouth full of 'much obliged'" has been my mental description of a particular behavior for years. From this blues classic, Rush shifts to some clean country picking on Woody Guthrie's Okie anthem "Do-Re-Me" where he is accompanied by Rambling Jack Elliot. This version is among the best recordings of the classic. Kokomo Arnold's "Milk Cow Blues" features fine guitar accompanied by Fritz Richmond's jug and John Sebastian's blues harp. Indeed, Sebastian's harp is brilliant on this track. Sebastian, the heart of the Lovin' Spoonful, is on half the tracks on the album--including "Black Mountain Blues" originally a Bessie Smith song; "When She Wants Good Lovin'," a Coasters song written by Leiber and Stoller; and "Solid Gone" (aka "The Cannonball"). The record is worth buying for his harp--"Solid Gone" is exquisite. Virtuoso hardly describes his command of blues harp idiom. But there's even more here. The record has three songs by Woody Guthrie. I've mentioned "Do-Re-Mi." There are two other Guthrie songs. Rush's treatment of "Poor Man," the model for Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown," is sensitive and persuasive, and "I'd Like to Know" was as current a protest in 1965 as when it was written (and now, too, I suppose). Rush includes a gambler's song, "The Cuckoo"; "Windy Bill," a cautionary cowboy song; and a train song--Bukka White's bottleneck classic "Panama Limited." This last song is effectively a workshop for playing bottleneck train songs and a fine conclusion for the disc. While Rush was eventually eclipsed by some of his contemporaries, he was true to tradition and the idioms of American music. Moreover, his virtuoso acoustic guitar playing was fresh and authentic. This disc is particularly valuable because of the music it contains and the high level of musicianship.


The Matador
The Matador
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ole, Dudes!!, November 5, 2002
This review is from: The Matador (Audio CD)
Some might say that it takes guts to use Coltrane's rhythm section from "My Favorite Things" and go into the studio to do that song as the centerpiece of an album, but Grant Green was a musician to pull it off--with spades. Maybe it's just that I spent so many hours of my wasted youth in listening to Coltrane, but I find Green's rendition of the song as interesting as Coltrane's. And there are some tracks that surpass that even. "Matador" showcases Green as among the most inventive and skillful improvisors of his generation. The title song is a catchy melody replete with improvisational possibilities, and Green exploits them to the fullest. This was a guitar player who could turn a song inside out and discover the possibilities of a simple structure. On the popular front he was eclipsed by Wes Montgomery and George Benson, but his skills are more on the level of Jim Hall (the consummate guitar master to my mind). Tyner's solo on the title track is an excellent example of his improvisational technique at its best. "Matador" is a fine recording, and to my hearing Green's version of "My Favorite Things" is equal to Coltrane's. The rhythm section sounds familiar, but Grant Green's guitar has a linear fullness that washes Coltrane's soprano saxophone from my ear. The solos that emerge from the little riff of Green's "Green Jeans" are magnificently clear and clean--linear in movement and coherence. In Duke Pearson's "Bedouin" Green's explicit statement of the theme is followed with intricate variations. Tyner follows, and Elvin Jones' drum solo is a Jones solo--full of texture and variety. It's a Jones solo. Not as predictable as Blakey, man. The bonus track is Bert Bacharach's "Wives and Lovers," and it's not bad.


Lester Young Trio (w/Nat "King" Cole, Buddy Rich)
Lester Young Trio (w/Nat "King" Cole, Buddy Rich)
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh So Good, November 5, 2002
The important recordings on this CD are derived from sessions for the Lester Young Trio recorded in 1946. The trio is perfectly balanced. Prez is at the peak of his powers as is Nat Cole, recording as "Aye Guy." Prez and Nat Cole complement one another so well that one could argue that this is a classic collaboration for both musicians. Certainly, Young is as comfortable with Cole as he was with Teddy Wilson or Count Basie years earlier. The two derive obvious pleasure from one anothers' playing. The drummer is Buddy Rich whose pyrotechniques are understated, and his brush work is tasteful and appropriate throughout. This is great music from the bluesy "Back to the Land" to the upbeat "I've Found a New Baby." These recordings show why Young's tone and improvisational skills were the model for saxophone players. Prez swings throughout; the ballads are models of the genre. Cole's piano is lyrical, and his solos are precise statements, reminiscent of Earl Hines in their inventiveness and control. This is Nat Cole the pianist, before his apotheosis as vocalist. And he was among the best jazz pianists--as interesting as Bud Powell and the obvious model for such cats as Hank Jones, Ahmad Jamal, and Red Garland. These are excellent examples of Cole's playing. The solo on the second "I Cover the Waterfront" is elegantly tasteful. The interplay between Young and Cole is especially fine on this number, on "Somebody Loves Me," and "I Want to be Happy." The music is fine--masterful in the true sense of the word. This is an important collaboration--a valuable and important addition to any jazz library. For some reason, the disc has been expanded to include four tracks from a 1943 session featuring Dexter Gordon and trumpet player Harry "Sweets" Edison with Nat Cole. Good music, but I'm not sure why it's on this CD, except for Cole's playing and the obvious example of Young's influence on Gordon. Nevertheless, Young and Cole are masterful in the first ten tracks... Buy already!! Then listen.


Bags & Trane
Bags & Trane
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than snake oil., November 5, 2002
This review is from: Bags & Trane (Audio CD)
Milt Jackson and John Coltrane complement one another marvelously in this collection of quintet recordings from 1959. The rhythm trio features Hank Jones on piano, assisted by Paul Chambers on bass and Connie Kay on drums. Jackson is here in familiar territory with a group that isn't far from MJQ. The differences are Coltrane and the interplay. The disc commences with a bonus track, the standard "Stairway to the Stars." Here is Coltrane in his best ballad form, excercising restraint and what is as close to lyrical as he gets. Milt Jackson spins his filligrees, nets of sound, as usual, and Coltrane answers seemingly from a distance, with clarity. The next track is Bags' "The Late Late Blues," a simple theme that Coltrane explores in his legendary sheets of sound. His clarity is such that you can hear the patterns evolve within the sheet. Paul Chambers' bass is prominent both in its steady line and in solo. "Bags & Trane" begins with a simple call and response. Bags' intricate solo is followed by Trane's brief statement, again exemplary of his improvisational skill. Hank Jones piano solo proceeds Paul Chambers' arco solo followed by traded breaks by Bags and Trane. "Three Little Words" is a mid-tempo tune that cooks. It begins with Bags' statement of the theme and then Trane establishes the groundwork for his solo and goes to the invention--arabesque variations built on the theme. Trane's solo here is exemplary--worth studying for insights into his method. Jackson's extended solo illustrates his inventiveness and Hank Jones continues into traded fours between Trane, Connie Kay, and Bags. Which leads one to extoll Connie Kay's gifts. Here is a consumate professional at work. He is delicate and tasteful when necessary, but he swings explosively as well. "The Night We Called It a Day" is a quiet ballad, but Jackson's lyrical solo and Coltrane's lengthy invention are masterful. Again, Trane's solo is an object lesson in his method. But these guys can blow the roof off. That's apparent in Dizzy Gillespie's "Be-Bop" where Bags starts off at breakneck speed and Coltrane blows hard and quick--probably the only tenor player aside from Johnny Griffin who blows as hard and fast as Bird with coherence. This is sheets of sound--a style that can become "cerebral" that euphimism for boring when you want your jazz visceral. The Jones solo arrives apace with Chambers and Kay cooking in the background down to Bags and Trane trading breaks. Cerebral doesn't happen here. A hard bop classic. The remaining tracks, "Blues Legacy" and "Centerpiece" follow suit. The first is a simple call and response blues riff with some gigantic solos. The last is an old favorite of mine, but despite Bags' wonderful solo it doesn't have Annie Ross, alas. Nevertheless, this is a very good CD. Highly recommended, too.


Bags & Trane
Bags & Trane
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than snake oil., November 5, 2002
This review is from: Bags & Trane (Audio CD)
Milt Jackson and John Coltrane complement one another marvelously in this collection of quintet recordings from 1959. The rhythm trio features Hank Jones on piano, assisted by Paul Chambers on bass and Connie Kay on drums. Jackson is here in familiar territory with a group that isn't far from MJQ. The differences are Coltrane and the interplay. The disc commences with a bonus track, the standard "Stairway to the Stars." Here is Coltrane in his best ballad form, exercising restraint and what is as close to lyrical as he gets. Milt Jackson spins his filligrees, nets of sound, as usual, and Coltrane answers seemingly from a distance, with clarity. The next track is Bags' "The Late Late Blues," a simple theme that Coltrane explores in his legendary sheets of sound. His clarity is such that you can hear the patterns evolve within the sheet. Paul Chambers' bass is prominent both in its steady line and in solo. "Bags & Trane" begins with a simple call and response. Bags' intricate solo is followed by Trane's brief statement, again exemplary of his improvisational skill. Hank Jones piano solo precedes Paul Chambers' arco solo followed by traded breaks by Bags and Trane. "Three Little Words" is a mid-tempo tune that cooks. It begins with Bags' statement of the theme and then Trane establishes the groundwork for his solo and goes to the invention--arabesque variations built on the theme. Trane's solo here is exemplary--worth studying for insights into his method. Jackson's extended solo illustrates his inventiveness and Hank Jones continues into traded fours between Trane, Connie Kay, and Bags. Which leads one to extoll Connie Kay's gifts. Here is a consummate professional at work. He is delicate and tasteful when necessary, but he swings explosively as well. "The Night We Called It a Day" is a quiet ballad, but Jackson's lyrical solo and Coltrane's lengthy invention are masterful. Again, Trane's solo is an object lesson in his method. But these guys can blow the roof off. That's apparent in Dizzy Gillespie's "Be-Bop" where Bags starts off at breakneck speed and Coltrane follows suit--probably the only tenor player aside from Johnny Griffin who blows as hard and fast as Bird with coherence. This is sheets of sound--a style that can become "cerebral" that euphemism for boring when you want your jazz visceral. The Jones solo arrives apace with Chambers and Kay cooking in the background down to Bags and Trane trading breaks. Cerebral doesn't happen here. A hard bop classic. The remaining tracks, "Blues Legacy" and "Centerpiece" follow suit. The first is a simple call and response blues riff with some gigantic solos. The last is an old favorite of mine, but despite Bags' wonderful solo it doesn't have Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross, alas. Nevertheless, this is a very good CD. Highly recommended, too.


Thelonious Monk & Sonny Rollins
Thelonious Monk & Sonny Rollins
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Price: $29.95
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giants of Jazz, August 24, 2002
So this is another misleading package--par for the course for Monk. And to be fair, not so unusual for other jazz musicians. We have three tracks of the five (no bonus here, my friends) that actually have Monk and Sonny Rollins on the stand together. The two quartet tracks with Art Taylor on drums and Tommy Potter on bass are "The Way You Look Tonight" and "I Want to be Happy." They are worth the price of the album because both Monk and Rollins are in fine form and they work and play well together. In fact, when I first heard this recording, I doubted that I was hearing Monk. I thought that I was hearing a lyrical pianist imitating Monk. Rollins seems to bring Monk out, and he plays longer lines, more lyrical lines without abandoning his characteristic left hand chords and the discords against them in the right hand triplets. (Notice that I said "discords." Monk doesn't play mischords.) So Monk is different and in some respects playing outside of his usual mode. (Dare I say "envelope"?) And Rollins has the great gifts that were eclipsed by the advent of John Coltrane. Rollins' solos on "The Way You Look Tonight" and "I Want To Be Happy" show that he is a great tenor saxophonist, and this album is testimony to his skill. The third Monk/Rollins collaboration is a 1953 gig that also featured Julius Watkins on French horn. The rendering of Monk's "Friday the 13th" is worth a listen because the horn is a jazz curiosity; its phrasing and intonation are a unique addition to the jazz palette. (An interesting experiment, at the very least.) The other two tracks on the album are Monk compositions "Work" and "Nutty" played with Percy Heath, and Art Blakey--this a fine trio and perhaps the most congenial for Monk's work. Blakey is superb--as always he is the metronome that lives--listen to the solo on "Work." Percy Heath is the solid bassist in these great trio tracks. And Monk--oh how he plays that piano!!
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At Basin Street
At Basin Street
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invest in Brown-Roach Inc., August 24, 2002
This review is from: At Basin Street (Audio CD)
Everyone who has real interest in jazz should have this album. This is the Brown-Roach Quintet with Sonny Rollins. If you have any interest in Clifford Brown but haven't heard him, this is the album that you need. Trumpet player Clifford Brown is, of course, brilliant--fast and lyrical--an improvisational giant on standards and originals. Brownie is pure, clean, elegant. And tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins complements him well. The versions of "What is this Thing Called Love" and "I'll Remember April" are particularly moving. The first begins begins with Brown and Rollins bobbing chaotically in Roach's insistent river of drums and evolves into brilliant solos by Brown, Rollins and Powell. The trades at the end of this song are simply brilliant. Throughout this album, Richie Powell's piano is an added bonus, and the album features three originals ("Powell's Prances," "Time", and "Gertrude's Bounce"). Never as recognized as his brother Bud, Powell is a truly lyrical pianist and a fluent improvisor. Bassist George Morrow provides a solid foundation and solos. Max Roach is, of course, the legendary drummer--controlled and tasteful where needed, explosive on demand. There are some fine drum solos on this live album, but they don't overshadow Brownie or Sonny Rollins. This is one of the finer bebop albums made.


Wizard Of The Vibes
Wizard Of The Vibes
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bags the Wizard, August 24, 2002
This review is from: Wizard Of The Vibes (Audio CD)
This is a great album. It's important jazz history, but it is also excellent music. There are two sessions represented here. The first is a quintet comprising alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson and what would soon be called the Modern Jazz Quartet--John Lewis (piano) Milt Jackson (vibraharp), Kenny Clarke (drums), and Percy Heath (bass). So you get MJQ with Lou. And these are wonderful renditions of Bags' tunes and standards. The "Bags Groove" is a great take on a modern jazz standard. This version is fresher and different from later takes (compare it to the classic Miles Davis recording). Jackson is indeed a wizard, and John Lewis proves why Kenny Clarke considered him the best of the bop pianists. Donaldson's solo on Ellington's "Don't Get around Much Anymore" demonstrates how many excellent alto players were completely eclipsed by Bird--in another musical universe this could have been a classic too. In any event, the album highlights Jackson's lyricism and command of a difficult instrument in his own compositions "Tahiti," "Lillie," and "Bags Groove" and in such tunes as "What's New." The second session on the album was a 1948 meeting with Thelonious Monk that includes brilliant renditions of "Misterioso," "Epistrophy," and "I Mean You." These juxtapose Monk's quirky percussive piano with Jackson's lyrical filigree work. Monk sets chords down and Bags dances weaving arabesque figures across them. All in all, this is an important collection.


Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Live One--Buy this one!, August 24, 2002
This review is from: Grateful Dead (Audio CD)
Released in 1971, this is the Dead's second live release for Warner Brothers and for me it's more satisfying than the earlier "Live Dead." That is in part because of its return to roots. I guess that this album has been cited as being more country than what came to be expected from Captain Trips and company. But the pre-Dead Garcia was known as a folk musician in the Bay Area--mostly as a bluegrass banjo player. And this album is a refreshing revelation of roots. Not that that hadn't been the whole focus of the band from the beginning. "Working Man's Dead" and "American Beauty" always seemed to me to be direct responses to the Rolling Stones' 1966 collection "High Tide & Green Grass." "Working Man's Dead" and "American Beauty" have songs that talk about American music within its tradition. And those albums are true to what the Brits were gleefully reclaiming (or stealing) from our version of the tradition. So in "Grateful Dead" we have prototypes. Garcia plays guitar that Chet Atkins country fans would recognize in "Bertha," and "Mama Tried" (a Merl Haggard song). "Me and My Uncle" is another outlaw ballad, and then there are blues covers "Big Railroad Blues" and "Big Boss Man." This version of "Playing in the Band" is among the best, and Jerry, who said early on that he took a long time to figure out tunings for early rock 'n roll guitar, demonstrates that he's solved the mystery of Chuck Berry in this rendering of "Johnny B. Goode." The band still sounds like the Dead with crisp contrapuntal Bachian interplay and lots of repetitious riffs. But they are playing the music that satisfied their souls--a mixture of country and blues and folk music--whence they came. To be sure, we also have the stuff of the jam band in "The Other One" with a drum circle solo and some long noodles and great improvisation featuring said interplay. This is good Dead, and the absence of feedback and excessive road crud doesn't detract from the authenticity of the sound at all.


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