Modern Jazz in Golden Age – Enjoying Discovered Discs Like Exquisite Jewels

October 1, 2019

By Masamichi Okazaki

Although we have discovered many masterpieces in the past, not so many discoveries are really valuable. I would like to introduce two discs discovered lately, which can be called “miracles.” In addition, I also would like to introduce the latest album of the POP STAR, Sting, and Gidon Kremer’s brilliant performance.

#66 Bill Evans Trio Revived with Brilliant Recording – Gem-like Album

Some Other Time: The Lost Session from The Black Forest

Some Other Time: The Lost Session from The Black Forest
(Resonance Records⇒King International KKJ-1016, Tower Records RTSA-1001~2)

Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer’s combined house and studio he lived in are still there in Villingen, a town in the region called Black Forest, in the south-west part of Germany near the border of Switzerland and not so far from France. Hans was an executive of SABA, an electronics company representing Germany, and founded MPS Records, which became one of the jazz labels representing Europe. At his home, he had two grand-pianos, and also recording equipment in his studio, which was also used as a living room.

Hans was also an excellent recording technician, and he invited big names around the world and recorded their performances. Oscar Peterson loved Hans’ sound, came all the way to his house, recorded many albums, and released them. So many MPS’s brilliant discs are recorded in this studio, however, it has been almost unknown until quite recently that Bill Evans Trio, after their performance on the stage at Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in June, 1968, stopped by this studio for recording. Since Bill Evans had a contract with Verve Records at that time – in fact, the above mentioned live performance was released from Verve – it seems that Hans was hoping that his recording could see the light of day sometime in the future. The tape was kept in Han’s family’s house, and it finally revealed to the world in 2016.

Evans Trio’s bass was Eddie Gómez, and the drummer was Jack DeJohnette in ’68. The trio clearly transformed their style of performance from inner sound creation to dynamic expression. Hans’ fascinating recording vividly captured such Evans Trio’s sound. Zev Feldman was the one making efforts to find that great recording, and it was released to the world from his Resonance Records with a gorgeous booklet. Furthermore, this summer, Tower Records released the hybrid SACD of that sound source. The balanced trio’s sound is recorded well on Resonance disc, and the piano’s stronger presence emerges on SACD disc. Each listener may have your own preference, but if you are an audio maniac, it may be interesting to listen to and compare the difference of the two.

#67 Stan Getz’s Fulfilling Live Jazz Performance Just before Bossa Nova Age

Getz at The Gate

Getz at The Gate
(Universal Verve UCCV-1175~6)

The live performance recorded at the end of 1961 by Stan Getz, who commanded fame as the top white tenor sax player, became the album this summer nearly after 60 years. It captured Getz, who started Bossa Nova boom all over the world by “Jazz Samba” together with a guitarist, Charlie Byrd, and “Getz/Gilberto” with Astrud Gilberto, on stage in “Village Gate” leading the quartet right before the boom.

With Straight Ahead Style, Getz fully brings out the charm of brimful poetical turn of mind, and is freely blowing the tenor sax like crazy. It is a groovy performance on the stage in his favorite club. Melodic ad lib phrases keep gushing out like a spring. <Airegin> and <Woody ’N You> are unearthly. <Wildwood> and <Stella by Starlight> are fully relaxing. You can feel the overflowing romance from the ballad such as <When The Sun Comes Out>. Every live performance full of inspiration on stage is proving that he is a genius.

#68 Sting’s Latest Disk Remade by Himself

My Songs / Sting

My Songs / Sting
(Universal MusicUICA-1071)

Looking at the series of titles, you may feel it is the best album of the Rock=Pop Star, Sting. Yes, this is the best and the latest album of Sting. His past hit songs are restructured from today’s viewpoint. Even though almost no changes seems to be made in terms of the flow and the atmosphere of the songs, the rhythms are tighter, and he also exercises his ingenuity and replaces tracks here and there.

Starting from hit songs of “The Police” such as <Every Breath You Take>, <Message in A Bottle>, and <Walking on The Moon> to a number of masterpieces, he seems to be looking back his own path he continued after he became independent to become a superstar. He did the minimal remaking of the necessary sounds only, and revived them as today’s songs. Rather than stating that he covered himself and repeating performance, this updating method makes us feel somewhat nostalgic, and conversely, very refreshed.

#69 Happy Encounter of Two “Four Seasons”

Eight Seasons~Gidon Kremer / Kremerata Baltica

Eight Seasons~Gidon Kremer / Kremerata Baltica
(Nonesuch 7559-79568-2)

Since I introduced Gidon Kremer’s “New Seasons” last month, I’d like to introduce his other piece, “Eight Seasons” by Kremerata Baltica, the young music group he gathered from Baltic States. The famous Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” the masterpiece of Baroque music, and “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” written by Astor Piazzolla, the maestro of Tango in 20th century, are performed. The two pieces are not performed separately, but rather, each season, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, is played alternately like “Vivaldi~Piazzolla~Vivaldi~Piazzolla…” -Piazzola’s number starts from summer, January in the southern hemisphere.

Rather than focusing on Vivaldi’s classic number written at the beginning of 18th century is genuinely baroque, what is more important here is that it is connected without any strange feelings to Piazzola’s modern tune with finely honed sensitivities. Although “The Four Seasons” by Vivaldi is the familiar piece by classical music lovers, they may discover something new from this innovative interpretation. There is a happy encounter of the two “Four Seasons” 250 years apart.

About the Author

Masamichi Okazaki

Masamichi Okazaki

Surrounded by various kinds of music from his childhood, Masamichi Okazaki joined Waseda University Modern Jazz Club. He started contributing articles to music magazines when he was a student. He covers wide range of music not only trad, modern and contemporary jazz, but also from pops to classics. He writes liner notes for CDs and LPs, and is a regular contributor to “JAZZ JAPAN,” “STEREO,” and others. He joined a big band, “Shiny Stockings,” as a saxophone player. He is a director of The Music Pen Club Japan (MPCJ).