John Litweiler

John’s Contributions

Mike_stern-4_generations_of_miles_span3

March 2003    Albums

4 Generations of Miles
George Coleman/Mike Stern/Ron Carter/Jimmy Cobb

This is quite a tribute band. Mike Stern played guitar with Miles Davis in the 1980s, while the rest of the quartet-George Coleman, tenor sax; Ron Carter, bass; and Jimmy Cobb, drums-played with Davis' combos in the '60s. Eight of the nine tunes are from...

Curlew-north_america_span3

January/February 2003    Albums

North America
Curlew

Curlew is the name for a series of punk-jazz or free jazz-rock-fusion bands that have comprised saxophonist George Cartwright and a changing cast of friends since 1979. North America originally appeared in Europe as the second of Curlew's eight albums; this...

Von_freeman-the_improvisor_span3

December 2002    Albums

The Improvisor
Von Freeman

Happiness is a new Von Freeman CD. The Improvisor was recorded in 2002 and it appears just as the tenor saxophonist turns 80. Widespread recognition came late for Freeman, who has been performing since his teens, but better late than never, for he is certainly...

Bud_powell-live_in_lausanne_1962_span3

December 2002    Albums

Live in Lausanne 1962
Bud Powell

No other musician-not Dizzy Gillespie, not even Charlie Parker-exemplified bebop's extremes of rhythm, harmony and broken phrasing as much as pianist Bud Powell. These two CD discoveries date from a few years after his Verve and Blue Note classics. By the...

Christophe_schweizer-physique_span3

December 2002    Albums

Physique
Christophe Schweizer Normal Garden

Normal Garden is composer Christophe Schweizer's septet, which lives on the border between inside and outside, between changes, modes and free jazz. The difference is that this 2002 little big band is centered not on improvisation but upon composition. Schweizer...

David_s_ware-freedom_suite_span3

December 2002    Albums

Freedom Suite
David S. Ware Quartet

David S. Ware is a gutsy tenor saxophonist to tackle a well-known piece like Sonny Rollins' "Freedom Suite," one of the first jazz works written in tribute to the black freedom movement. (Coincidentally, Branford Marsalis also dives into "Freedom Suite...

200211_018_span3

November 2002    Overdue Ovation

Jodie Christian: Perfect Accompaniment

Jodie Christian’s scrapbook photos in the CD booklet for Reminiscing (Delmark, 2001) show a handsome young man: here, with a smile amid a group of Chicago musicians; there, proud, elegant and earnest with his bride on their wedding day. Today, the tall...

Icebreaker_extraction_span3

July/August 2002    Albums

Extraction
Icebreaker

Icebreaker is an English chamber ensemble with accordion, saxes, vibes and electric bass and guitar, which is a clue that they don't exactly play Brahms. Rather, the three pieces on Extraction are harmonically enlightened, and chipper tempos, summery sounds...

Steve_lehman-structural_fire_span3

June 2002    Albums

Structural Fire
Steve Lehman Quintet

Everyone on Structural Fire is up for the Jackie McLean song "Action," and altoist Steve Lehman's long lines burn like Anthony Braxton. Lehman was a student of McLean and Braxton, and he shares some of McLean's rugged blues phrasing and Braxton's obsessive...

Ken_mcintyre-new_beginning_span3

May 2002    Albums

A New Beginning
Makanda Ken McIntyre

This sunny album is the last recorded by multiple-woodwind soloist Ken McIntyre before his death last year. Despite rare ventures into free jazz, such as his intense playing on Cecil Taylor's 1966 Unit Structures, McIntyre was happy to spend most of his...

Bill_ware-sir_duke_span3

May 2002    Albums

Sir Duke
Bill Ware

This is a disc of bright, light music in the form of duets by vibist Bill Ware and guitarist Marc Ribot-no bass or drums, for more players would just muddy the interplay. And beginning with the opening "C Jam Blues," in which the pair gets into a hot Modern...

Noah_howard-red_star_span3

April 2002    Albums

Red Star
Noah Howard

These two CDs contain mostly, but not all, inside music from alto saxist Noah Howard, who began his career as a New York free-jazz radical. In fact, the great bop drummer Kenny Clarke is on Red Star, as is hard-bop trumpeter Richard Williams; grand piano...

Art_ensemble_of_chicago-live_in_milano_span3

March 2002    Albums

Live In Milano
Art Ensemble of Chicago

Live in Milano is a reissue of a 1980 set by one of the great free-jazz bands; the LP was originally titled Among the People and appeared on the obscure Praxis label. Half the disc is "Tutankhamun," with a lyrical, slow Lester Bowie trumpet solo with characteristic...

Bill_frisell-w_dholland_ejones_span3

March 2002    Albums

Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones
Bill Frisell/Dave Holland/Elvin Jones

It's nice and cozy and pretty here in Bill Frisell's guitarland. The presence of bassist Dave Holland and drummer Elvin Jones may lead you to anticipate some aggression, some conflicts, but they don't happen. Frisell's playing is like rich, fancy desserts...

John_coltrane-live_trane_european_tours_span3

January/February 2002    Albums

Live Trane: The European Tours
John Coltrane

Over half of the music on the box set Live Trane: The European Tours was never released until now. It comes from two-week tours of Europe that the classic quartet took in three successive autumns between 1961 and 1963. Along with the creative turmoil, especially...

Drew_gress-spin_and_drift_span3

January/February 2002    Albums

Spin and Drift
Drew Gress

There's much to admire on Drew Gress' Spin & Drift, for these are good musicians, including the bassist-leader, who solos on most but not all tracks and also wrote the themes. Though fast tempos are absent, most of it is bold music-yet I don't find any of...

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About John Litweiler

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