Kohsuke Mine Quintet ‘Daguri’

A high-energy, modal/spiritual, face-melter of a jazz record that packs a mighty wallop. Fans of McCoy Tyner’s early 70s Milestone records will go bonkers over this. Kohsuke Mine handles both tenor and soprano sax and is the composer of all five mid-to-long tracks on ‘Daguri’. He’s joined by Hideo Miyata (tenor sax), Fumio Itabashi (piano), Hideaki Mochizuki (bass) and Hiroshi Murakami (drums). The opening track is molten intensity, as the saxes and piano intertwine and build the tension, somehow digging the groove deeper while soaring higher. They dare one another to keep up and the challenge is accepted as each peak is reached and transcended. The drum and piano work throughout moves from intricate to manic to hyperactive—the first track alone will leave you breathless and reaching for another coffee. But the instrumental verbosity never steps on the tunefulness…groove, swing, and virtuosity co-exist in ideal proportions on every track. There’s only one tune, “Self Contradiction” that’s on the downtempo side. Otherwise, you should set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul! The title track appeared on the compilation J-Jazz Vol 2 which came out last year, but the full LP is very much worth seeking out. A bit of a tough pull on vinyl, but it is available across the digital spectrum and also received a CD reissue recently so it’s around. Lethal, but who ever said great jazz was safe?

Takeo Moriyama East Plants

Takeo Moriyama ‘East Plants’

Don’t know this record? You’re not alone. Issued in tiny quantities back in 1983 on a small Japanese label, Takeo Moriyama’s ‘East Plants’ would have remained adrift in the ocean of obscurity if it weren’t for the hard work and support of @bacoso @the_jazz_dad @bbemusic and Takeo himself, who reissued this gem last year in a truly first class manner. The original single LP on the VAP label would probably set you back a few hundred bucks. Now for under $25, you can pick up this stunning 2-LP 180g reissue. It’s beautifully packaged in an obi-wrapped gatefold sleeve reproducing the original cover art which includes interesting liner notes. The music itself covers a lot of ground, moving from modal and spiritual voyages to the center of the cosmos to energetic post-bop and even occasional raga-like, meditative moments; all excellently played by a piano-less quintet: Takeo Moriyama (drums) Syuichi Enomoto & Toshihiko Inoue (tenor/soprano sax) Hideaki Mochizuki (bass) and Yohji Sadanari (percussion). As one might expect from a drummer-led project, rhythms take center-stage here and the drumming/percussion is ridiculously impressive throughout. A taste of this LP is available on the highly recommended J-Jazz compilation, and this full length record comes equally highly recommended. Terrific stuff. Available on digital platforms too

Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet

Choosing a favorite amongst these four essential Miles albums released by Prestige featuring his classic quintet—Workin’ With, Relaxin’ With, Steamin’ With & Cookin’ With—it’s tough to pick a favorite. Today it’s ‘Workin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet’ as I’m obsessed with the opening ballad “It Never Entered My Mind”, a Rogers & Hart number that Miles had previously done a couple of years earlier with Horace Silver. This performance is on a whole other level though—awe inspiring to the point of transcendent. Give it a listen…if it doesn’t give you all the feels, check yourself for a pulse. Seriously. This track is all about Miles, Red Garland and Paul Chambers…John Coltrane plays only two notes. Both of them just right. “It Never Entered My Mind” answers lots of questions like “Why jazz?” Or “Why Miles?” Or “What do you mean by ‘feel’ in music?” The historical importance and context of the four albums that resulted from these two sessions (11 May and 26 Oct 1956) is better told elsewhere, but the 26 songs recorded over those two days—all first takes—are pure magic. My fascination with this one track from this one LP is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a sweet sounding mono pressing from 1975, a Japanese reissue SMJ-6503M of Prestige PRLP 7166 @milesdavis @johncoltrane @prestigerecords @prestigejazz

Kenny Dorham ‘Trompeta Toccata’

A stone cold classic among Kenny Dorham’s many stone cold classics! Joe Henderson is a superb sparring partner—his tenor bite is the ideal foil to Dorham’s trumpet bark (albeit an often sweet bark). Henderson also contributes the tune “Mamacita” which is hellagroovy. This session was recorded 14 Sept 1964 and produced four lengthy tracks, all infused with Latino and/or classical sensibilities. This is consistent with one of Dorham’s many strengths—he could remain rooted enough in tradition while simultaneously exploring new musical territory. As new vistas in jazz were leading to experimentations in song structure, world music influences and harmonic constructs, he was more than skilled in ratcheting up the compositional complexity, and building a band capable of executing the ideas. The linchpin in this lineup is bassist Richard Davis, whom Dorham and Henderson had played with several months earlier on Andrew Hill’s experimental post-bop classic ‘Point of Departure’ and Joe Henderson’s adventurous ‘In n Out’. Together, they inject ‘Trompeta Toccata’ with a bevy of toe-tapping complexity, and it’s simply marvelous. Sadly, this was to be Dorham’s final session as a leader, his activities winding down to sideman work over the following years until succumbing to kidney disease in 1972. I don’t mean to neglect the contributions of pianist Tommy Flanagan who contributes some fine solos, nor drummer Albert Heath though they are somewhat overshadowed by the aforementioned triple threat of Dorham/Henderson/Davis. This is a 1985 Japanese reissue Blue Note ‎– BNJ-71074/BST 84181

Grant Green ‘Oleo’

There’s a synergy between guitarist Grant Green and pianist Sonny Clark that makes all the sessions they recorded in the five week period between 23 Dec 1961 and 31 Jan 1962 essential listening. Quality however doesn’t necessarily run consistently with A&R decisions and as Green’s more commercially leaning soul jazz proclivities were Blue Note’s focus, none were released during Green’s lifetime. When they were finally rolled out of the vault in the 80s and split into individual albums, vinyl availability was limited to Japan for two of those three sessions. Blue Note has since compiled them into a double CD (“The Complete Grant Green/Sonny Clark Quartets”) which is spectacular, but for the vinyl hounds this release ‘Oleo’ was the last of the sessions Green/Clark did together and issued by King in Japan in 1980 as part of the “Worlds First Appearance” series (GXF 3065). Like “Gooden’s Corner”, this one features Sam Jones on bass and Louis Hayes on drums supporting the melodic interplay between Green and Clark, with highlights being the Green original “Hip Funk”, a fun take on Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo” and a ripping run at “My Favorite Things”. Sonically, this Japanese pressing sounds pretty terrific though truth be told, the double CD sounds as good and costs less. Besides, the CD contains the equally brilliant work of the other sessions including the crowning achievement: the Green/Clark Quartet (with Art Blakey on drums) turning “It Ain’t Necessarily So” on its head—you gotta hear it. Of the LPs that reveal the awesomeness of these sessions—“Oleo”, “Gooden’s Corner”, and “Nigeria”—this one is the least essential but STILL ESSENTIAL. Again, pick up the CD and you get it all and it’s all pretty great