This collection on the U.K.'s Soul Brother imprint is a very compelling look at a big slice of Freddie Hubbard's long career as a leader, and one that gets ignored for the most part. Hubbard recorded over 20 records between Backlash, his Atlantic debut in 1966, and Ride Like the Wind for Elektra in 1982, with lengthy stops at Columbia and CTI (as well some straight hard bop and post-bop outings for labels Fantasy and Pablo). In many cases, some of these original recordings were not only disregarded by more traditional jazzheads, they were regarded with outright hostility. It didn't matter to Hubbard, however, because at the time, these were among his best-selling albums and connected with the public deeply.
In retrospect, it is not hard to find hints of a coming change in the final album Cat Stevens made before a near-death experience and a religious conversion.
The day may come when the well runs dry, but that day is not upon us. The fourth installment of Sonny Rollins' Road Shows series has arrived, bringing more beauties from the archives to light while bearing out that the genius of the Saxophone Colossus is best demonstrated on the stage. That's where the magic has always happened for him, and that's why these offerings have been so well-received. The first three volumes are already considered to be indispensable items in the storied Rollins canon, and this one stands to join them.
Anyone who remembers Eric Marienthal's work with Chick Corea's Elektric Band in the late '80s and early '90s knows how exciting an improviser he can be. This disc has its moments. Botti has an enjoyable spot on Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar," and "Love Don't Live Here" (one of the few tracks that isn't an instrumental) is a pleasant, if unremarkable, urban/adult contemporary item that features singer Deniece Williams. Also noteworthy is Lorber's funky "Hangin' on the Sidewalk," which finds Ford taking a gritty guitar solo.
Twelve years after they released their first Merle Haggard box, The Untamed Hawk, Bear Family delivered the sequel, Hag: The Studio Recordings 1969-1976. This picks up where The Untamed Hawk left off, which is more of a musical dividing point than it initially seems. If The Untamed Hawk caught Haggard as he was reaching full flight, Hag captures him in his prime, as every single he released reached the Country Top Ten – often capturing the number one slot – and as he sometimes crossed over into the pop Top 40. Hag was without a doubt the biggest star in country music but the remarkable thing about his reign at the top was that he never played it safe.
Over the last few years Aki has quietly been building a name in the international jazz world both as a leader and as a sideman. With Amorandom, he delivers his most authoritative work to date. There’s a fluidity in his playing and a boldness in his composing that deserves widespread praise and real recognition for one of the finest young European pianists. Described by Downbeat as a ‘rising star around Europe, Amorandom is the work that will introduce Aki Rissanen’s startling new talent to a global audience.
God Save the King is actually a split release and/or a Robert Fripp compilation, depending on how you look at it. In 1980, Robert Fripp released something of a split disc himself, called God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners, consisting of a side of Frippertronics and a side of Discotronics, the latter being Frippertronics with a "dance-oriented" (according to Fripp) rhythm section. Also in 1980, Fripp formed a new group, borrowing the name from his early-'60s band, the League of Gentlemen.
Things aren’t going well for Cat Stevens on the planet, ah, polyethylene. Critics keep asking: would you buy a used I Ching from this man? Since Tea for the Tillerman, affirmation has been doubtful. Never a deep thinker and rarely a master of words, Stevens has now turned to the “majik” of numerology, only to have the melodies disappear down the decimal point. In fact, “Call Me Zero” would have been a perfect title for Numbers, an album so breathtakingly stupid that even the most loyal fan could count its merits without using any of the fingers on either hand.
These two discs from Sun Ra and his Solar Myth Arkestra are not, as their title suggests, parts of a singular or continuous work. They were initially issued as two separate titles – similar to the two-part Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra – by the Belgian BYG Actuel label in 1971. Both volumes consist of mid-fidelity and primarily self-realized and -produced recordings. Despite the claim that these sides were taped in New York City at Sun Studios, Ra discographer Robert L. Campbell notes that by the time these tracks were documented, the Arkestra had ended its N.Y.C. residency and returned to Philadelphia.