Jazz, July 2021

hfnalbum.pngWes Montgomery
The NDR Hamburg Studio Recordings
Jazzline Classics D77078 (CD + bonus Blu-ray); 2LPs + bonus Blu-ray: D78078

In 1965, the great guitarist brought his quartet to Europe, also playing as guest star with local musicians. He fronted Ronnie Scott's rhythm section in London and in Paris met up again with Johnny Griffin, who'd moved there since appearing on Wes's 1962 album Full House. In Hamburg, he completed an amazing four-saxophone octet with Griffin, Scott, German altoist Hans Koller and British baritone master Ronnie Ross – too often remembered only for his 'Walk On The Wild Side' solo. Here, interspersed (oddly) with three quartet tracks, are seven exciting numbers from this all-star group. The sound isn't wonderful, but it's great to hear them. Even better, thanks to the 30m Blu-ray bonus disc, to see them in action. SH


Tommy Flanagan
In His Own Sweet Time
Enja Records ENJ-9687 2

This solo recital couldn't have been released in the performer's lifetime. Flanagan, who died in 2001, was one of the great pianists, contributing to epochal recordings of Rollins, Coltrane and Wes Montgomery before starting a long partnership with Ella Fitzgerald. Yet he never saw himself as a soloist. This 1994 performance, for a small audience in Germany, was given reluctantly – and he certainly didn't want it recorded. But of course, he played beautifully, starting with two tunes by Tadd Dameron, going off-course a little with a vapidly polite blues but then weaving harmonic and melodic spells on songbook standards and on Rollins's 'Valse Hot'. Gorgeous. SH


Jakob Bro
Uma Elmo
ECM 352 8227 (CD and LP)

The Norwegian guitarist's fifth ECM album nearly didn't happen because of lockdown restrictions but, last September, ECM's Manfred Eicher brought the musicians together at the Swiss Radio studio in Lugano. This was Jaakob Bro's first meeting with trumpeter Arve Henriksen, although they'd talked about a collaboration for some time. With his distinctive, fluffy and (especially on piccolo trumpet) flute-like sound, Henriksen takes the lead on Bro's pieces, including his tribute to another trumpeter, the late great Tomasz Stanko. And in the spacious Lugano acoustic, Rossy's spare but perfectly-timed crashes complete an airily immersive experience. SH


Logan Richardson
Whirlwind Recordings WR4772; 2LPs: WR4772LP

After 2016's Shift with Pat Metheny and Jason Moran, the Missouri-born saxophonist turned back to his own band for Blues People, and his current lineup still includes drummer Ryan Lee and rock guitarist Igor Osypov. Cellist Ezgi Karakus offers an acoustic interlude in 'Black Wallstreet', an elegy on the appalling Tulsa race riot of 1921; but mostly, synths are dominant. Dense soundscapes with many far-back instruments almost makes you think you're accidentally playing another album at the same time, and you have to wait until the final bonus track to hear a bit of improvising over changes. But in spite of everything, Richardson's still the real deal. SH