The Mahavishnu Orchestra, in its original incarnation, lasted just four years, but in that brief time, the pioneering quintet set both the template and the high-water mark for fusion music. No band ever rocked as hard in a jazzy place as guitarist John McLaughlin’s charging ensemble. McLaughlin had already built a firm reputation in his native England as a keen improviser with blues and rock leanings when he was invited by drummer Tony Williams in early 1969 to join him in New York. Almost immediately, McLaughlin was swept up into the very epicenter of the burgeoning fusion movement, appearing on – in 1969 alone – three of the genre’s most significant recordings: Emergency! (by the newly-formed Tony Williams Lifetime) and In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, the epochal Miles Davis albums that kick started fusion.
Decades before Corey Harris, Guy Davis, and Keb' Mo' wed the Delta blues to various folk forms, there was Taj Mahal. Almost from the very beginning, Mahal provided audiences with connections to a plethora of blues styles. Further, he offered hard evidence connecting American blues to folk styles from other nations, particularly, but not limited to, those from the West Indies and various African countries, bridging gaps, highlighting similarities, and establishing links between many experiences of the African diaspora…
Encountering the name Woody Shaw (1944-1989) in print or conversation, it's not uncommon for a phrase much like "the last original trumpet voice" to follow. For Shaw was just such a player: a daring horn stylist with an utterly personal and technically advanced approach that has yet to be matched since his untimely death.
This wonderful set includes the albums he recorded for Columbia Records between 1972 and 1979 (most of which he produced himself), as well as the soundtrack LP to a Dutch film called Forest Eyes from 1979, and a bonus disc of Getz at Carnegie Hall for the 40th anniversary of the Woody Herman band that also includes live sets from the 1977 Montreux Jazz and the 1979 Havana Jam festivals. It's beautifully packaged, and Getz is Getz throughout.
Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon had been an expatriate since 1963 when he discovered Europe was where the consistently paying jazz gigs were to be found. In 1976 he returned to the States and began recording for Columbia Records and also embarked on an acting career. Sony Legacy repackaged and re-released six Dexter Gordon albums of that era in their entirety with mini-LP sleeves and original cover art: Homecoming: Live at the Village Vanguard (1976), Sophisticated Giant (1977), Manhattan Symphonie (1978), Live at Carnegie Hall (1978), and Gotham City (1980).
Deluxe 71 disc box set that contains 52 single CD and double CD albums (which includes the previously unreleased full-length audio version of his 1970 Isle Of Wight performance). The essay is complemented by brief annotations written by Franck Bergerot, covering every single one of the 52 albums. The cornerstones of the box set are the studio and live albums that were released during his tenure at the label, more than 40 titles that he recorded in the 1950s, '60s, '70s and '80s.
A new Weather Report lineup makes its debut here, with Victor Bailey filling Jaco Pastorius' shoes, Omar Hakim on drums, Jose Rossy on percussion, and Joe Zawinul now thoroughly in charge. But contrary to the conventional wisdom which claims that WR went downhill after the departure of Pastorius/Erskine, the new lineup actually recharged WR's creative batteries; the material here is superior to that of the previous two albums at least. Bailey, while not Jaco's technical equal, is mobile enough to project through the texture, and Hakim has the versatility and swinging Third World rhythmic influences that must have appealed to Zawinul. "Procession" itself is a masterly Zawinul tone poem, with moody electronics and voices building to an emotional crescendo and ebbing away, a high point in WR's output.
Seven Steps: The Complete Columbia Recordings of Miles Davis 1963-1964 is an anomaly among the retrospective sets that have been issued from the late artist's catalog. It does not focus on particular collaborations (Miles with Coltrane, Gil Evans, the second quintet), complete sessions of historic albums (Bitches Brew, In a Silent Way, and Jack Johnson), or live runs (Plugged Nickel and Montreux). Instead, it is a portrait of the artist in flux, in the space between legendary bands, when he was looking for a new mode of expression, trying to find the band that would help him get there. These seven CDs begin after the demise of bands that included John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Wynton Kelly, after his landmark Gil Evans period, and even after his attempts at creating a new band with everyone from Frank Strozier and Harold Mabern to Sonny Rollins and J.J. Johnson.