Thousands of artists have honored Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk but it has arguably been awhile since someone has released something this good. “This”, in this case, is Tribute To Bird & Monk (Labor) by German pianist/arranger Heiner Stadler, and if the title is familiar, then you already know the power of this album. It was originally released in 1978 on Tomato Records as A Tribute To Monk & Bird with a completely different cover.
If you have this album, then this is the same recording but remastered. If you haven’t heard it in awhile, but have been meaning to get it but the economy has got your record collecting habits down, pick this up.
Originally released as a double LP (that’s 2-record set for you format freaks, but again you knew that), this album has some incredible renditions of Bird and Monk classics, including a 21 minute version of “Straight No Chaser”, a 19 minute take of “Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are”, and a 13 minute attack of “Air Conditioning”. It sounds as fresh as ever because this CD was remixed from the original 16-track analog multi-tracks, but hearing the musicianship and knowing people like Lenny White, Thad Jones, George Adams, and Reggie Workman are on here… you know this is of another time, if not another world. To thing these recordings came from four days of recording in a studio in NYC, and it was just casual. There was a time when music came off this casual and yet sounded so rich and complex at the same time. Stadler’s work is brilliant throughout, and to immerse himself right in the heart of NYC amongst some of the best musicians (of any genre) in the world must’ve been a major personal high. Experience the high on Tribute To Bird & Monk, 78 1/2 minutes of brilliance in sound.
The sounds of Africa are taken to a new level with the debut album by Bones & Tones, a group featuring Warren Smith (vibraphone & percussion), Jaribu Shahid (bass & percussion), Lloyd Haber (marimba, bells & percussion), and Abdou Mboup (percussion, vocals, and kora). It would loosely be considered jazz only because it’s more organized and structured, so don’t expect the freedoms of indigenous music even though the so-called “world” qualities are in this. What I like about this is that it takes the listener to places as if it’s a walk through history, and one that is meant to allow you to understand and feel the people of these different lands. Some of this is arranged very well to where it might be used for movie soundtracks, or even something like a Super Mario video game. That might sound like I’m giving Bones & Tones a backhand, but I say this with sincerity. Some of it sounds like the perfect video game music, or what you expect to hear when you turn on your Wii. It may sound basic at first but as you begin to listen, it’s its simplicity that helps make it work. I found Shahid’s bass work to be damn good too, especially in “228”, and if the name is familiar, then your taste in jazz would make you enjoy this album just as much as his previous work. Mboup, Haber, and Smith have also worked with everyone from Sam Rivers, Ornette Coleman, and Joe Zawinul to Aretha Franklin and The Talking Heads, so these are people who know very well what they’re doing. Now find out what they’re doing together, in musical unity.
(The debut from Bones & Tones will be released on March 1st.)