A brilliant player on both acoustic and electric basses, Stanley Clarke has spent much of his career outside of jazz, although he has the ability to play jazz with the very best. He played accordion as a youth, switching to violin and cello before settling on bass. He worked with R&B and rock bands in high school, but after moving to New York, he worked with Pharoah Sanders in the early '70s. George Duke showed a great deal of promise early in his career as a jazz pianist and keyboardist, but has forsaken that form to be a pop producer.
Erik Satie's music is timeless and beautiful, but can it stand up to interpretation by downtown New York jazzbos? In the hands of Dan Willis & Velvet Gentlemen the answer is a resounding "YES!" Willis' arrangements are as brilliant as they are varied. There are some straightforward readings (as on most of the Nocturnes) right alongside some pretty inventive and even daring ones. Second Gymnopedie starts as an accordion-sax-drums trio, then slides almost imperceptibly to a guitar-trumpet-drums trio. John Hollenbeck's alway engaging drumwork ties it all together, but the really amazing thing is how much the tune now resembles Miles Davis' "All Blues!"
Working a bright, innovative corner of Latin jazz and drawing on Jamaican, Afro-Cuban, Venezuelan, and Peruvian rhythms to create a hybrid mosaic (as the title suggests), the loose, rotating collective that is the Caribbean Jazz Project manages to be many things at once, including a dance band with a hard bop sensibility, and at times the ensemble comes close to being a new age chillout orchestra. Whatever label they wear, CJP have a bright, infectious sound, led by vibraphonist Dave Samuels' bubbling and watery tones and, on three tracks here, the amazing talking steel drums of Andy Narell. Violinist Christian Howes guests on Samuels' "Slow Dance," giving it a wonderfully eerie and wheezing feel.
Despite his failing health, Blackwell's skills on his drum kit were razor-sharp when he got on the bandstand for this headliner's gig at the third annual Eddie Moore Memorial Jazz Festival, recorded at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA. just two months before he passed away. Everything clicks – the band is tight, powered by the supple bass of Mark Helias, while saxophonist/flutist Carlos Ward and trumpeter Graham Haynes play inspired, almost possessed improvs and written lines, bent on giving the audience their best, and Blackwell the proper setting to weave his percussive wizardry. First up are pieces written by Ward. "'Nette," sporting a bright unison horn line, suggests Monk's angularity and Ornette Coleman's interval-leaping vision of expansion.
You thought Marcus Miller and Jaco and Stanley Clark were funky? They are indeed but they don't play the double bass. Brian Bromberg displays absolute chops that Charles Mingus would have wanted. Akira Jimbo as usual with his unbelievable groove keeps the whole album going and Otomaro Ruiz is one hell of a pianist. With this CD you CAN'T go wrong.
Official Release #107. Uncle Meat gets the deluxe treatment in this three CD Project/Object Audio Documentary. Included is the original 1969 vinyl mix (restored, remastered and available digitally for the first time), an original sequence that includes unique source material and bonus vault tracks mostly compiled from the recording sessions at Apostolic Studios in NYC between 1967 and 1969.