Monday, January 26, 2009

Randy Weston “The Spirits of Our Ancestors”

CD 1:
01 - African Village Bedford-Stuyvesant 1
02 - The Healers
03 - African Cookbook
04 - La Elaha-Ella Allah/Morad Allah
05 - The Call
CD 2:
06 - African Village Bedford-Stuyvesant 2
07 - The Seventh Queen
08 - Blue Moses
09 - African Sunrise
10 - A Prayer for Us All
All compositions by Randy Weston exc. CD1 No.4 (traditional).
Disc 1:
Randy Weston -piano (exc. 4); Idrees Sulieman -trumpet (on 2,3,5); Benny Powell -trombone & bass trombone (on 2,3,5); Talib Kibwe -alto sax & alto flute (on 2,5); Billy Harper -tenor sax (on 2,3,5); Dewey Redman -tenor sax (on 2, 3-left channel, 5); Alex Blake -bass (on 2,3,5); Jamil Nasser -bass (on 2-5); Idris Muhammad -drums (on 2,3,5); Big Black -percussion (on 3,5)); Azzedin Weston -percussion (on 2-4), karkaba (on 4); Yassir Chadly -genbri, karkaba, clapping & vocals (on 4).
Special Guest: Pharoah Sanders -tenor sax. (on 3-right channel).
Disc 2:
Randy Weston -piano ; Idrees Sulieman -trumpet (on 1,2,4); Benny Powell -trombone & bass trombone (on 1,2,4); Talib Kibwe -alto sax & alto flute (on1, 2,4); Billy Harper -tenor sax (on 1,2,4); Dewey Redman -tenor sax (on 1,2,4); Alex Blake -bass (on 1,2,3,4); Jamil Nasser -bass (on 1,3,4); Idris Muhammad -drums (on 1-4); Big Black -percussion (on 1-4); Azzedin Weston -percussion (on 1,4), karkaba (on 3); Yassir Chadly - karkaba (on 3).
Special Guests: Dizzy Gillespie -trumpet (on 4); Pharoah Sanders -gaita (on 3).
Recorded in NYC on May 20, 21,22, 1991.
Reviews (
-This 2 Cd Set revisits many of Weston's Classic compositions with some new arrangements by Melba Liston. Along with Weston's excellent "African Rhythms" band and Dizzy Gillespie and the great Pharoah Sanders sit in on a couple of tracks. All cuts are very strong but "African Cookbook" is on fire!
This is probably the definitive Weston. A good place to start if you unfamiliar with this musical "Giant." -Stephen

-Randy Weston and Melba Liston collaborate once again, bringing us one of the most interesting jazz albums I've ever heard (and I've heard my share). It has a perfect mixture of free form jazz with subtle touches of African influences (particulary percussion). The highlight of the album is 'Blue Moses'. Hearing Pharoah Sanders solo using the gaita along with 2 bass players playing at a ridiculously fast speed is just amazing. A must own cd! -Larry S. Boles Jr.

-...And you get Dizzy Gillespie and Pharaoh Sanders to boot! Randy Weston is a fantastic pianist and a true original. He started over 5 decades ago with a heavy Monk and Ellington influence. Since the early 60's Weston has traveled extensively throughout Africa and has worked all kinds of African elements seamlessly into his style, along with free jazz, to come up with a totally unique style. These influences are most obviously evident in the percussion instruments, but they are also present in his piano style, though you have to listen for them. -Andreas C G

Friday, January 23, 2009

Akosh Szelevenyi (Akosh S.) "Kebelen"

Akosh Szelevenyi - tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, metal clarinet, gardon, flute, bombarde, kalimba, vocal, trombone, trumpet;
Joe Doherty - violin, viola, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute;
Bertrand Cantat - vocals;
Nicolas Guillemet - soprano saxophone;
Mokhtar Choumane - flute ney, kaval;
Quentin Rollet - alto saxophone;
Bernard Malandain - doublebass;
Philippe Foch - drums, percussions;

Recorded at Studio Limoges, France, 2000.
01. Korai [06:05]
02. Magvak [11:29]
03. Tán [17:02]
04. Ota [15:16]
05. Ék [04:19]

Since the ECM label opened its jazz doors to improvisation based on European folk forms as much as on African-American traditions, other labels have followed suit. Saxophonist Akosh Szeleveny is Hungarian, his partners French, Irish and American. The resulting music blends wailing, minor-key melodies, literally off-beat timing and furious, whirling-dervish crescendi. But unlike the confined jazz/Balkan fusions of dance-band king Ivo Papasov - the only near parallel I can think of - Szelevnyi moves his music out towards free jazz, Indian raga and modern classical forms, creating a fascinating album with much more than curiosity value.

Akosh Szelevenyi is the best thing that has happened to French jazz, and consequently European jazz, in twelve years; The words are those of journalist Serge Loupien, writing in the daily Libération (October 5th, 1998) about the multi-reed-player and multi-instrumentalist Akosh S., who was born in Debrecen, Hungary, on February 19th, 1966.
The story of Akosh is the story of a man with a taste for freedom. The story of a citizen of the world who could never bear to be locked away in a single school of thought, a man who never swore faith, nor admitted to the slightest illusions based on the official, dominant line. As a child in his native Hungary, he learned to play the recorder, the clarinet and the bassoon. At 16, the adolescent opted for the saxophone, and attended classical and jazz classes at the Budapest Academy; in secret, he listened to the new sounds coming from America, the cries of passion thrown out by Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Dewey Redman, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and his Liberation Music Orchestra... an authentic revelation. Akosh's quest is alive and burning, his music a genuine geyser.


The torrential breath and branding-iron heat in the sound of Akosh Szelevenyi has been radiating over the Parisian scene for fifteen years now. Ever since he arrived in the French capital, the young Hungarian, a saxophonist, clarinettist, multi-instrumentalist and composer, has been associated with the genuine (and jubilant) rebirth of the avant-garde – after the lengthy hegemony shared by fusion and neo-bop – as well as many other alternative movements; and in 1991 he formed his own little variable-geometry band (from four to nine musicians) and began making his own records. From the mid-Nineties on, the group (Akosh S. Unit) opened for Noir Désir and then, in 1997, the man hastily called a “free jazzman” by those fond of convenient qualifiers signed with Barclay Records (then a PolyGram label, today Universal). There followed a magnificent series of albums that were equally fiery, stirring and thrilling, and the final three (“Vetek”, “Kebelen” and “Lenne”), which mixed ‘live’ pieces with collages, formed a triptych that established a kind of inventory of that first “Unit”.

Then came the discovery of the new ensemble led by Akosh, a group now comprising Quentin Rollet on alto saxophone, Marseilles bassist Christian Brazier, drummer Gildas Etevenard and narrator Andras Wigh, a vocalist and specialist in all matters relating to the hurdy-gurdy, an instrument with almost-orchestral functions belonging to the string-family, albeit with a wind-up handle and keyboard. Its sound here reminds you of the sheets of sound that might come from a synthesiser coupled with a swarm of humming bees, or a violin with the distant scents of the Orient…

In 2003 the release of the album “Nap Mint Nap” marked a turning-point in the saxophonist’s career.

Recorded in a tiny country church at Vàmosszabadi in Hungary, AKI is Akosh’s most melodic album to date. For some years the saxophonist had been nourishing the idea of a solo album recording. All that was missing was the guiding line that would give the project form. Having finally opted for an almost ascetic sobriety, Akosh now gives us this album, a pure, fifty-minute improvisation that is a genuine raw diamond.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ensemble Ambrosius “The Zappa Album”


01 Night School
02 Sofa
03 Black Page #2
04 Uncle Meat
05 Igor´s Boogie
06 Zoot Allures
07 Big Swifty
08 T´Mershi Duween
09 Alien Orifice
10 The Idiot Bastard Son
12 The Orange County Lumber Truck
13 Echidna´s Arf (of You)
14 Inca Roads
15 G-Spot Tornado


Josu Moisio - baroque oboe, baroque d' amore, glockenspiel.
Matti Vanhamäki - baroque violin.
Jonte Knif - chamber organ, melodica, harpsichord, dulcimer.
Ere Lievonen - harpsichord, chamber organ.
Tuukka Terho - archlute, baroque mandoline.
Jani Sunnarborg - baroque bassoon, oboe da caccia.
Olli Virtaperko - baroque cello ,violoncello piccolo.

Recorded in Helsinki, Finland on August 9-13, 1999.


Ensemble Ambrosius is a group that concentrates in contemporary music, using mostly Baroque instruments. Ambrosius was formed in 1995 and from the very beginning the music of American composer Frank Zappa (1940-1993) has been one of our main focuses.

The members of Ensemble flmbrosius have all gone through extensive studies of the performance practice of early music and have at some point studied in the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki. I myself became interested in contemporary music and Zappa in high school - up until then I had only been involved with classical music. However, as I continued my classical studies, I met the multi-instrumentalist Jonte Knif, who shared my Zappa-enthusiasm. With harpsichordist Ere Lievonen we eventually performed Uncle Meat with 2 harpsichords and a Baroque cello in 1995. This occured

at the final concert of an early music summer course where the oboist, Jasu Moisio, was present in the audience. Soon after that Jasu joined us, and what was originally in tended as a one-time musical joke led to the forming of Ensemble Ambrosius.

As we started to play Zappa's music, it became evident to us that the most demanding thing was to be able to retain the rhythmicality and metric pulse of the music. How to simulate the smooth co-operation of the rhythm section of the rock group -particularly the drums and the bass -was the crucial question.

However, before being able to play a single note, we needed to notate the music somehow. The arranging of "The Zappa Album" followed the good old Steve Vai - method: every note of the album was first transcribed from the tape and then arranged to the ensemble. Of the 15 pieces selected for this disc, Ere Lievonen arranged 5 pieces, the remainder having been completed by myself. Ere prefers to be extremely detailed in his arrangements, whereas I try to write down as few notes as possible, leaving the keyboard instruments, lute and cello a plentiful of liberties. In preparing my own arrangements I found it extremely useful having also toured with a big-band-sized Finnish rock group for the past five years, thus getting the vital first-hand knowledge of how the music of a large, amplified group functions. This knowledge has been very important in learning how the "styling" of FZ's music can be adopted for a classical combination.

As the musicians of Ensemble Ambrosius ore professionals in the field of Baroque music, it was natural for us to also apply the concept of the Baroque basso continue group to our interpretation of Zappa. In a basso continue group of the Baroque period, various musicians accompanied the melody with chords, improvising contrapuntal material. The desired chords were specified in scores with numbers above the bass line. As we played Zoppa, we soon learned that in a large Baroque basso continue group the liberties and rules of accompanying the melody rhythmically and harmonically are pretty much the same as with the rhythm section of a rock group. That made it possible for us to arrange Zappa's music for a non-amplified ensemble, and still retain the rhythmicality and metric pulse.

Olli Virtaperko, Ensemble Ambrosius