Sunday, September 13, 2015


My Personal Songbook is jazz bassist Ron Carter’s new album just out on In + Out Records. On the album, Carter teamed with the WDR Big Band, which is based in Cologne Germany, and the winner of seven Grammy awards. Carter and WDR play ten compositions he wrote years ago. The bassist association with the WDR goes back to 2013 when they toured cities in Germany and Switzerland. The tour was successful, and soon after Carter and WDR made My Personal Songbook, a nearly flawless big band album that puts the zoom lens on what a terrific composer Carter is. His reputation as an iconic jazz bassist is well-known. He’s played on 2,000 plus albums, steered Miles Davis’s second great jazz quintet, and made jazz classics such as Where, Yellow and Green, and Piccolo. WDR was the right fit for Carter’s music, adding to it their special seasoning, particularly on standouts Ah, Rio, Blues for D.P., and Wait For The Beep. My Personal Songbook comes with a companion DVD, so you get to see how this project evolved. 

May 22th 2014 was Sun Ra’s 100th birthday. To celebrate it, the current makeup of the Sun Ra Arkestra flew to Istanbul and made this live album Live in Babylon, which came out nationwide September 4th. Sun Ra, a way-out showman, formed the Arkestra in 1953, and the free-jazz ensemble made in the neighborhood of 100 albums. After Sun Ra passed in 1993, saxophonist John Gilmore ran things. Two years later, the Arkestra’s current leader alto saxophonist Marshall Allen became the leader. At 91, Allen is still kicking much ass. Live in Babylon is an awesome tribute to Sun Ra, who for his otherworldly strangeness made some excellent free-jazz music. The Arkestra’s open a Costco size jar of whoop-ass on selections like Saturn, Carefree #2, and Satellites Are Spinning. Baritone saxophonist Danny Ray goes balls deep on the album's best track Discipline 27B, which also have crazy sweet solos by trumpeter Cecil Brooks and tenor saxophonist James Stuart. There’s extraordinary singing by Tara Middleton on the Arkestra’s reworking of the standard Stardust. The album’s linchpin, however, is Allen.  To this very day, his playing is still inspired and youthful
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