Jan’s tips

Jan wo Harry (2)What’s currently sitting on Jan’s CD player or turntable? (He’s not actually a big fan of iPods, downloads or other new-fangled ways of listening to music.) He tells us here.

15 October 2017: Pick of the bunch

Album: Abantwana Be Africa (Sheer Sound, 2003)

Artist: Winston Mankunku Ngozi

What Jan says: “I met some very knowledgeable people in South Africa during my mini-tour there last week. They gave me some great tips about South African jazz musicians and recordings. On my last day in Johannesburg, I went to a record store that specialises in jazz and bought a bunch of CDs. One of them is by tenor saxophonist Winston Mankunku Ngozi, who’s regarded in his homeloand as among South Africa’s finest jazz artists. Coming from the Cape Town area, Mankunku remained there during the apartheid years, with all of the difficulties that this entailed. Things where bad. In 1964, for example, he performed with an otherwise all-white big band in Cape Town City Hall and was forced to play out of sight behind a curtain. Mankunku’s music was influenced by Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane, and one of his most important compositions was Dedication (to Daddy Trane and Brother Shorter), which appears on both Abantwana Be Africa and on his very first, and now legendary, record Yakhal’ Inkomo from 1968.

“Another point of interest is that Mankunku worked with the fabulous South African-Swedish drummer Gilbert Matthews, who today lives in Stockholm. And thinking of South Africans in Sweden, it was a pleasure while I was there to hear many musicians and fans speak highly not only of Gilbert, but also the alto saxophonist Harold Jefta, who lives in Karlskrona in the southern Swedish county of Blekinge. Harold is regarded as one of the prime interpreters of Charlie Parker.”

Wikipedia: Winston Mankunku Ngozi

26 July 2017: Class without cheese

Album: Clark After Dark: The Ballad Album (1978, MPS)

Artist: Clark Terry

What Jan says: “Some classic MPS recordings are getting re-released. Now in the hands of Edel, it looks like these records are receiving the treatment they should have been given a long time ago. One of them is Clark After Dark, with arrangements by Peter Herbolzheimer. The remastering has been done to one of the highest standards I’ve ever heard, so the sound is fantastic. And the music, of course, makes it a beautiful album. It’s possibly Clark’s ‘sweetest’ recording – classy, but not cheesy – and it’s pure pleasure listening to the record, especially if you’ve got some decent hifi equipment at home. The general package for the CD is high class too. As well as Clark After Dark, I picked up some others in the same series, including albums by Baden Powell, Albert Mangelsdorff and Don Ellis, and most of them seem to be available as both LPs and CDs. Totally recommended!”

Allmusic: Clark After Dark

24 April 2017: Top of the list

Album: Hallberg’s Happiness (1983, Phontastic)

Artist: Bengt Hallberg

What Jan says: “The very first solo piano jazz album I bought was Bengt Hallberg’s Hallberg’s Happiness on the Phontastic label. I listened to it again this Easter for the first time in many years. What a great record it is! Anyone with even the remotest interest in getting into Bengt’s musical world should immediately listen to this album. Bengt is at the peak of his ability and plays with unbelievably strong conviction: carved-out lines, a very strong rhythmical power and his own very personal way of harmonising songs must surely put this record at the top of everyone’s list.”

Wikipedia: Bengt Hallberg

6 April 2017: Between a smile and a tear

Album: Boleros (1977, Ensayo)

Artist: Tete Montoliu

What Jan says: “I was turned on to this album by my dear friend Jacques Werup, the Swedish poet. Montoliu [1933-1997] was a jazz pianist from Catalonia in Spain who was the No1 choice for many US jazz legends when they were touring in southern Europe – a kind of Spanish version of Jan Johansson or Bengt Hallberg. Boleros is both ground-breaking and lovely in every way, and there’s almost something Swedish about it. Like Johansson’s classic, Jazz På Svenska, the playing is very emotional, while the bolero as a song form has a similar rhythm and melancholy to much of Sweden’s traditional folk music. It’s a quality that characterises a lot of Latin American culture; as they say, ‘between a smile and a tear’. Interestingly, Montoliu – who never got the recognition he deserved – was blind from birth, just like so many other piano greats, including Art Tatum, George Shearing, Lennie Tristano and Reinhold Svensson.”

Wikipedia: Tete Montoliu

30 January 2017: Irresistible

Album: Ready Take One (2016, Legacy)

Artist: Erroll Garner

What Jan says: “It’s not always you listen to a new release with the sheer joy I did yesterday. This 2016 collection of the newly discovered studio recordings of Erroll Garner is just irresistible. Garner displays the dynamics of a true master, immediately making you smile. And, like all great masters, he’s able to bring out something unique from each performance. All that and a wonderful rhythm section too. New songs and versions of old songs that you’ve never heard surely make this album one you mustn’t miss. A fantastic find!”

Wikipedia: Erroll Garner

25 April 2016: Soft but great

Album: Today And Now (1963, Impulse!)Today and Now

Artist(s): Coleman Hawkins Quartet

What Jan says: “When I listen to music at home, I love to put on an LP with exceptionally good sound. Whether it’s a small group or a big band, the music really comes alive if the sound quality is good. And, of course, there are lots of great albums out there with good sound – and Today And Now is certainly one of them. It’s a classic jazz recording which must surely rank as one of the best-sounding albums ever made. Today And Now is perhaps not the most obvious choice for many of Hawkins’ fans, but it’s definitely one of my all-time favourites. Everything on this disc sounds wonderfully good, and I wonder if I’ve ever heard a better sax sound on record. Tommy Flanagan, Major Holley and Eddie Locke in the rhythm section all provide perfect support to Hawkins. The music is generally on the soft side, which makes it the ideal record to sit back and relax to.”

Wikipedia: Today And Now

15 December 2015: Impeccably essential

The Christmas Album MTAlbum: The Christmas Album (1992, Columbia Records)

Artist(s): The Manhattan Transfer

What Jan says: “This is an impeccable Christmas album. Among the highlights is a great arrangement of Santa Claus is coming to town, and there’s a guest appearance by Tony Bennett on The Christmas song. The record was co-produced by Johnny Mandel and, for people who like to know these things, features the only Manhattan Transfer recording of a song by The Beatles – Good night. It’s a must-have album!”

Website: The Manhattan Transfer

13 September 2015: A luxurious investment

Sidney B in CHAlbum: Sidney Bechet in Switzerland (2014, United Music Foundation)

Artist: Sidney Bechet

What Jan says: “While in Switzerland recently, I was given a very fine gift. It’s a four-CD box set of recordings that Sidney Bechet made in Switzerland between 1949 and 1958. A mix of live concerts and broadcasts, the music includes Bechet’s collaborations with a number of fine Swiss musicians. The CDs come with a very well-written book of 200-plus pages that contains many rare photographs. I can totally recommend this box set to anyone with even the slightest interest in Bechet. It’s a luxury box indeed and, although expensive, you’ll find it well worth the investment!”

Website: United Music Foundation

15 June 2015: Great music by great musicians

JP Streamlie JazztetLayout 1Albums: Jukka Perko Streamline Jazztet (2012, Blue Note), It Takes Two To Tango (2015, ACT)

Artist: Jukka Perko

What Jan says: “Playing at the same festival in Milan as Finnish saxophonist Jukka Perko back in 2013, I got the chance to listen closely to his quartet for a whole set. I was very impressed! Great music played by great musicians. A year later, I had them coming to Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival, where they performed to an enthusiastic audience. Siggi Loch, the founder and president of ACT, was at the concert, and he signed up Jukka immediately! Since then, Jukka has recorded an amazing duo album with pianist and fellow Finn, Iiro Rantala, which I can also heartily recommend.”

Website: Jukka Perko

16 April 2015: Billie at her best

Billie Holiday DeccaAlbum: Billie Holiday – The Complete Decca Recordings (1991, GRP)

Artist: Billie Holiday

What Jan says: “Having been very much involved recently in celebrating the centenary of Billie Holiday’s birth, I want to give a BH record tip that perhaps not everyone would choose. These Decca recordings come from Billie’s middle period during the 1940s. Her voice is still in very good shape, and the selection of songs is just great, with my personal favourite, Lover man, topping the list. Fantastic arrangements, the sound is very good, and the recordings are extremely well produced. Overall, this double CD is my No 1 choice when it comes to Billie Holiday’s many records.”

Website: Tracklist at AllMusic

21 February 2015: Fine singing and arrangements

e-de-lei-front-kopiaAlbum: É De Lei! (2014, Connective Records)

Artist(s): Miriam Aïda AfroSamba Orchestra

What Jan says: “Having just finished the Sinatra celebration tour with Miriam, I’ve been listening to her latest CD. And I must say that it’s both a splendid and an ambitious recording in every sense. The production is wonderful, with some very fine singing complemented by great arrangements.”

Website: www.miriamaida.wordpress.com

18 December 2014: Some more Christmas friends

Layout 1Album: Christmas With My Friends IV (2014, ACT)

Artist(s): Nils Landgren, plus guests

What Jan says: “Because I’m still in a festive mood, I’ve broadened my Christmas listening to include Nils Landgren’s latest Yuletide offering. These records by Nils have become something of a Christmas tradition – Christmas With My Friends IV is, as the title makes clear, the fourth in a series of such albums. The record is full of great songs, beautifully interpreted and played by some of the finest musicians we have in Scandinavia. Actually, it’s the perfect Christmas gift!”

Website: www.nilslandgren.com

2 December 2014: Enjoyable Christmas mix

Jacob F X-masAlbum: X-mas Friends (2013, Gateway Music)

Artist: Jacob Fischer

What Jan says: “It’s the time of year when many people’s thoughts turn to Christmas records – and I’m no exception! So I’ve been listening to this very enjoyable mix of songs by Danish guitarist Jacob Fischer, which includes a really great version of When you wish upon a star – A dream is a wish your heart makes (from Walt Disney’s Cinderella). The album might be a bit hard to find in many record shops, but you can buy a CD through Jacob’s website, or get it as a download from iTunes.”

Website: www.jacobfischer.dk

6 November 2014: A beautiful selection

Gregoire Maret CDAlbum: Grégoire Maret (2012, Grégoire Maret & Entertainment One)

Artist: Grégoire Maret

What Jan says: “This album was released over two years ago, but I’m still enjoying it. It’s a beautiful selection of songs, mostly by Grégoire himself, who’s strongly supported on the CD by other great musicians like Cassandra Wilson, Toots Thielemans, Raul Midón and Marcus MIller. Geneva-born Grégoire is my favourite harmonica player right now and, although I’m slightly biased because JLT has been performing with him in recent months, this record comes with a very firm recommendation from me to anyone who’s interested in contemporary jazz.”

Website: www.gregoiremaret.com

19 October 2014: Outstanding musicianship

Face The MusicAlbum: Face The Music (2014, Stunt)

Artist: Sinne Eeg

What Jan says: “Sinne Eeg is Danish, and is without doubt one of the finest singers in Europe today. This album is, as always, a great performance by Sinne – a very fine blend of songs and outstanding musicianship. It’s a CD I truly enjoy listening to and strongly recommend. As a side note, I should mention the great success that Sinne and her quartet achieved at YSJF 2014.”

Website: www.sinnemusic.com