Music News 11/30/23




My four-page MUSIC FAVORITES 2023 handout is now on our website. Link here


Physical copies are available at our main store on Connecticut Avenue.  




Ahmad Jamal, EMERALD CITY NIGHTS: Live at the Penthouse 1966 – 1968 (Jazz Detective, 2 CDs, $25.98) – Last December, the first two volumes of these never-before-released performances, were released: Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse 1963 - 1964 and Live at the Penthouse 1965 – 1966. The third set of double-CDs is now out: Live at the Penthouse 1966 – 1968. All the performances feature Mr. Jamal, Jamil Nasser on bass, and Frank Gant on drums. All three albums were supervised and sequenced by Mr. Jamal himself before his death this April. 

The package includes photos by Chuck Stewart, essays by writer Eugene Holley Jr, and the producers; and interviews with Mr. Jamal, Les McCann, Emmet Cohen, Monty Alexander, and Marshall Chess.  


Wes Montgomery & Wynton Kelly Trio, MAXIMUM SWING: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings (Resonance, 2 CDs, $27.98) – Recorded at New York’s Half Note during four dates in September and November, 1965. Guitar icon Wes Montgomery is on the bandstand with Mr. Kelly is on piano, and Jimmy Cobb is on drums, with a different bassist for each date: Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Herman Wright, and Larry Ridley. The deluxe booklet has photos from the dates, an essay by Bill Milkowski, and new interviews with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern, and Marcus Miller. 


Cal Tjader, CATCH THE GROOVE: Live at the Penthouse 1963 – 1967 (Jazz Detective, 2 CDs $25.98) – Cal Tjader (1925 – 1982) was a pioneering vibraphonist (who also played piano, drums, and percussion), best known for infusing jazz with Latin rhythms. These performances from six different sets at Seattle’s Penthouse all have Tjader in a quintet setting, with his vibes along with piano, bass, drums, and congas/bongos. 

As usual, the packaging is deluxe: booklet notes, photos, and interviews with Poncho Sánchez, Eddie Palmieri, Joe Locke, Gary Burton, and Carl Burnett (drummer on some of these performances), among others. 


Bill Evans, TALES: Live in Copenhagen 1964 (Anagram, $18.98) – Live performances from Danish radio and television appearances with Chuck Israels, bass, and Larry Bunker, drums, from August, 1964. There’s also a version of “Round Midnight” from 1969, featuring Marty Morell on drums. The notes feature interviews with Chuck Israels and Brandy Bunker. 





The Gurdjieff Ensemble, ZARTIR (ECM, $18.98) – The Gurdjieff Ensemble seeks to “return” the song of the mystic to their Armenian and Central Asian folk origins and instrumentation. “Zartir situates Gurdjieff in a tradition of Armenian bards and troubadours including Ashugh Jivani, Baghdasar Tbir and the legendary Sayat-Nova. In parallel, an emphasis on pieces for sacred dance reaches its apex in The Great Prayer, an entrancing collaboration between the Gurdjieff Ensemble and the National Chamber Choir of Armenia.” 

The cover image is from Sergei Parajanov’s beautiful allegorical film, The Colour of Pomegranates (1969), based on the life of Sayat-Nova. 





Gregory Porter, CHRISTMAS WISH (Blue Note, $13.98) – I love when singers and songwriters write new Christmas songs, and jazz vocalist Gregory Porter has written three for his new holiday album: “Christmas Wish,” “Heart For Christmas,” and “Everything’s Not Lost.” 

Mr. Porter has a soulful baritone, and he pays tribute to Christmas classics with “Silent Night,” “Little Drummer Boy,” Marvin Gaye’s “Purple Snowflakes,” Stevie Wonder’s “Someday At Christmas,” and Frank Loesser’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” which features vocalist Samara Joy. 


NOTE: Mr. Porter is performing a New Year’s Eve show at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall! 


Lise Davidsen, CHRISTMAS FROM NORWAY (Decca, $14.98) – Soprano Lise Davidsen mixes traditional Norwegian Christmas songs, as well as works by J.S. Bach, Sibelius, Wolf, Reger, and Humperdinck. She is accompanied on many selections by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, and the Norwegian National Opera Children’s Choir, conducted by Christian Eggen.