Pierre Michelot was one of the very best jazz bassists in Europe, though few fans think of him as a bandleader, composer, or arranger. This reissue of an LP made for Mercury dates from 1963, where Michelot is joined by some of the top players on the continent. In addition to fresh arrangements of standard fare like "Cherokee" and "Bye, Bye Blackbird," the leader penned five compositions, including the tasty blues "Akkilino," which is an extended feature for his bass and Roger Guerin's muted trumpet. "Elephant Green" showcases flutist Raymond Guiot and Pierre Gossez's robust baritone saxophone in a melancholy ballad setting. Like many of Verve's Jazz in Paris CD reissues, this recording is a sleeper that is well worth acquiring, even if its running time is a tad miserly at around 32 minutes.
Between the early 16th and the middle of the 17th century, as the lute reached its zenith as a solo and accompanying instrument throughout Europe, Pierre Attaingnant, Adrian LeRoy, and the Ballard family dominated the business of printing music in France. The chansons and airs de cour they published and, in many cases, composed combined exquisite poetry with both polyphonic and homophonic lute accompaniments, yielding some of the most affecting and artful expressions of love ever composed.
The title of Many Bright Things' third album highlights the nature of the project: a large cast of friends coalescing around guitarist Stan Denski. After a seven-year gap, Denski – better known by now as the compiler for QDK Media's high-profile series of obscure psychedelia, Love, Peace & Poetry – delivers an entertaining disc of spaced-out jams. Many Bright Friends combines the folky side of Jefferson Airplane ("Minor Parade for 18 Strings," the title track, "There Will Be a Slight Delay") and the crudest grooves of the Krautrock school. The album is structured around two main tracks. The first one is "East West," a 21-minute cover of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's anthem to cross-pollination. Featured in this orgiastic jam are guitarists Denski, Nick Saloman, Daniel Noland, and Al Simones (trading solos); Vess Ruthenberg (bass); Steve Obenreder (drums); and harp player Byrd Birocco, who steals the show. "I Am Not a Collector Potato," the other key track here, is a feature for Jello Biafra, who tells listeners what collecting psychedelic records used to be like (with plenty of reverb in the voice), over a quiet groove improvised by Denski, Larry Demyer (guitar), David "Tufty" Clough (bass), and Lon Paul Elrich (percussion).
Christophe Wallemme describes this effort as a "wink at the great standards of American jazz," a laudable objective but an affirmation that seems intended to confuse the listener. The explicit musical references on Start "So Many Ways…" point instead to Antonio Carlos Jobim and Miles Davis' Bitches Brew rather than "Body and Soul" or "My Funny Valentine." No matter.