After a five-year hiatus, singer/songwriter Laura Nyro returned with Smile in 1976. On this disc, Nyro's somewhat idiosyncratic writing and performance style is decidedly subdued. In its stead is a light pop and jazz feel similar to that of Maria Muldaur's mid-'70s recordings. Supporting Nyro instrumentally is virtually a who's who of New York and Los Angeles studio stalwarts. While the prowess of folks like Will Lee (bass), brothers Randy Brecker (trumpet) and Michael Brecker (flute/sax), Hugh McCracken (guitar), and Rick Marotta (drums) certainly strengthens Nyro's already laid-back material, it likewise reduces her to sounding like a Joni Mitchell ripoff. The undeniable highlight of Smile is the maturity in the songwriting. It becomes obvious that the half-decade away has done some significant good in revealing a decidedly positive evolution in Nyro's approach to her own life. What's more is that the material on this album seems to come from a place of contentment.
Limited Edition Japanese pressing of this album comes housed in a miniature LP sleeve with the latest 24bit/96kHz mastering. Michael "Dodo" Marmarosa, born Pittsburgh, December 12, 1925, died September 17, 2002, jazz piano player, a link between swing and bebop, recorded with (among others) Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Lucky Thompson, Barney Kessel, Charlie Barnet and Slim Gaillard; retired from music, early sixties; died 76. That's what you surely will read in many books about him. Of course, Dodo disappeared from music when he was only 36; but he'll forever remain as one essential link between the swing era and bebop. Maybe he was one of the founders of bebop. Just a great musician.
Japan Mini LP reissue with the latest 24bit/96kHz remastering. Recordings by brothers who play the identical instrument are fairly rarein jazz, but trumpeters Conte and Pete Candoli made several valuable records together without sibling rivalry. The ten selections on this album draw favorites from swing, bop, cool, and hard bop, with an excellent rhythm section (pianist Jimmy Rowles, guitarist Howard Roberts, bassist Max Bennett, and drummer Frank Capp) complementing the brothers.
As a finishing touch for this 2016 year, I share this rarity.
This is the version of Fairytale that collectors from all over the world are looking for: The Brazilian edition 7″ with yellow cover.
A gem of a session from Italian guitarist Franco Cerri — recording here at the end of the 50s with a well-titled batch of European jazz stars ! The groups shift slightly throughout the set, and players include Lars Gullin on baritone sax, Flavio Ambrosetti on alto, George Gruntz on piano, and Pierre Favre on drums ! The album features one trio track, three quartet numbers, three quintet tunes, and one sextet cut — all of them with Cerri's illuminating single-line work on guitar — sounding especially nice next to the horns. Ambrosetti is a real treat here — a sharp-edged player we'd never heard before, working with a strong undercurrent of soul that we really appreciate.
Along with its sister recording, Pangaea, Agharta was recorded live in February of 1975 at the Osaka Festival Hall in Japan. Amazingly enough, given that these are arguably Davis' two greatest electric live records, they were recorded the same day. Agharta was performed in the afternoon and Pangaea in the evening. Of the two, Agharta is superior. The band with Davis – saxophonist Sonny Fortune, guitarists Pete Cosey (lead) and Reggie Lucas (rhythm), bassist Michael Henderson, drummer Al Foster, and percussionist James Mtume – was a group who had their roots in the radically streetwise music recorded on 1972's On the Corner, and they are brought to fruition here.