"NOT IN OUR NAME"
Bassist Charlie Haden collaborates with Liberation Music Orchestra leader and pianist Carla Bley in a musically outspoken opposition to the Bush administration and its policies.
As angry as they may be, these tracks as instrumentals don't deliver their message as they would have with some added vocals. Prime example: "This is Not America," written by Pat Metheny, David Bowie and Lyle Mays, is a reggae tune that, if it had even a brief vocal would have spoken volumes loudly and clearly. However, Curtis Fowlkes' trombone is eloquent.
There is a killer version of "America the Beautiful," into which Bley inserts the Black national anthem, "Lift Every Voice," and Ornette Coleman's "Skies Over America." Another excerpt, this one from Antonin Dvorak's "New World Symphony," allows trumpeter Michael Rodriquez to extend his gorgeous fat solo. Altoist Miguel Zenon continues, adding his lush sound to the piece.
Even without a vocal the protest comes through in subtle ways. In "This is Not America," there are "sly quotes" from "Dixie," "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
"PRESTIGE PROFILES — JOHN COLTRANE
What else but five stars for this John Coltrane compilation of previously released great music.
Coltrane, one of only a handful of jazz immortals, is not heard here with his classic quartet of McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. Instead, the 11 tracks differ slightly. One group of pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Arthur Taylor is heard on "Russian Lullaby," "Bahia" and "Theme for Ernie."
Two baritone saxophonists, Cecil Payne and Pepper Adams, are featured along with Coltrane's tenor, bassist Doug Watkins, pianist Mal Waldron and drummer Taylor on "Dakar." This could well serve as a jazz primer, since it presents so many of the 1950s players who charted the course. Some of them are Donald Byrd, Tadd Dameron, Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Sahib Shihab, Louis Hayes and Idrees Sulieman.
"PRESTIGE PROFILES — MILES DAVIS"
Much like the preceding Coltrane release, this is a compilation of trumpeter Miles Davis' work of the mid- to late- 1950s.
Unlike Coltrane however, Davis at this career point hadn't quite established the clearly identifiable sound he was later to master. Not to say his performance is flawed — not at all.
He includes tunes usually associated with his groups like "Airegin," "Oleo," "Doxy" and "Surrey With the Fringe on Top." Legendary sidemen include Coltrane, Percy Heath, Max Roach, Red Garland, Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins and Lucky Thompson.
"JUST YOU, JUST ME"
RANEE LEE-OLIVER JONES
Canadian jazz players, even those with chops like these two stars, don't seem to get the acclaim their talent merits.
Ranee Lee is an excellent singer, versatile enough to be convincing whether singing the challenging ballad, "Images" — which she co-wrote with pianist Oliver Jones — or scatting the second chorus of "Just You, Just Me." It helps of course to work with Jones, who is a master of his instrument. Bassist Eric Lagace and drummer Dave Laing are much more than adequate.
Lee leaves it all on the line as she delivers a powerful scat on "Autumn Leaves," my favorite cut.