Ry Cooder - Jazz
Ry Cooder (guitar, bottleneck guitar, mandolin, tiple, vocals) [click here to see more vinyl featuring Ry Cooder]
Mario Guarneri (cornet), Randy Aldcroft (trombone), Harvey Pittel (alto saxophone), Pat Rizzo (alto saxophone), Bill Hood (bass saxophone), l John Rodby (piano), Mark Stevens (drums), Stuart Brotman (cymbalum), David Lindley (mandobanjo, mandolin), Barbara Starkey (pump organ), Red Callender (tuba), George Bohanon (baritone horn), Oscar Brashear (cornet), Earl Hines (piano), Chuck Domanico (bass), Tom Collier (marimba), David Sherr (bass clarinet, clarinet), Tom Pedrini (bass), Willie Schwartz (clarinet), Chuck Berghoffer (bass),
Vocals : Jimmy Adams, Bill Johnson, Simon Pico Payne, Cliff Givens,
Joseph Byrd (arrangements, conductor)
Written by Milton Ager (A1), Jack Yellen (A1), Jelly Roll Morton (A3), Jack the Bear (A4), Bix Beiderbecke (B1, B2, B3), Lew Brown (B4), Ford Dabney (B4), Cecil Mack (B4), Bert Williams (B5). A2, A5, B6 are traditional songs
1 LP, standard sleeve, insert
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : Pallas
Label : Speakers Corner
Original Label : Warner
Recording : 1977 at Amigo Studios, North Hollywood, by Lee Herschberg & Douglas Decker
Production : Ry Cooder & Joseph Byrd
Originally released in 1978
Reissued in 2019
Side A :
- Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
- Face To Face That I Shall Meet Him
- The Pearls/Tia Juana
- The Dream
- Happy Meeting In Glory
Side B :
- In A Mist
- Davenport Blues
- We Shall Be Happy
« Beginning with his self-titled debut in 1970, Ry Cooder's records seemed to be as much history lesson as they were entertainment. Not because Cooder was trying to club you over the head with this stuff; he simply gravitated to great songs, no matter what the era or genre. Released in 1978, Jazz seems to be his first conscious attempt at a concept album, in the historical sense. Here he pays homage to some of the early tunes and masters of jazz, ranging from the late 1800s through the "coon songs" of the early part of the next century, to the ragtime and "Spanish" music of Jelly Roll Morton, and the sophistication of cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. The only living artist (at the time of release) who's represented here is the great Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence, who recorded from the '50s through the '80s, and whose syncopated style was extremely influential in Cooder's own development as a guitarist. Spence's sacred songs are presented here in string and brass band arrangements that emphasize the Caribbean connection between his music and Morton's habaniera pieces. The complexity of the material on Jazz, as well as the arrangements by Joseph Byrd, dictate that this is Cooder's most polished and orchestrated effort to date. Whereas in the past, even at their most removed, Cooder's records usually kept at least one foot in rock & roll or blues, Jazz can, at times, lack some of that fire and be almost bookish in its approach. Still, there is enough excitement in the music's intricacies and Cooder's beautiful, fluid playing to forgive the politeness of some of the performances. From the informative liner notes by Ry Cooder himself to the brilliant compositions, Jazz is, at the very least, educational. But, a little time spent with this music and you'll see why it was and continues to be relevant, as well as beloved. » AllMusic Review by Brett Hartenbach
« Ry Cooder is renowned for a variety of musical influences and styles. He gained some critical attention for playing guitar with Captain Beefheart on Safe As Milk. In the late 60’s and 70’s he became a vital session musician for prominent artists. This included Randy Newman (12 Songs), The Rolling Stones (Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers) and Little Feat (“Willin’). The list is voluminous and includes John Lee Hooker, Maria Muldaur, Neil Young, Arlo Guthrie, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Warren Zevon and The Doobie Brothers among many others. He was part of the historic Jamming With Edward, joining Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Nicky Hopkins. Beginning with the 1970 film, Performance, Cooder worked on 18 film scores and notably collaborated on Buena Vista Social Club. His solo career has spanned five decades and consists of a wide variety of roots-based music in various formats.
It certainly came as no surprise in 1978 that Ry Cooder would take an excursion into jazz. With a powerhouse, eclectic group of musicians, Ry Cooder – Jazz embraced vintage jazz and traditional music. Speakers Corner Records has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl. Cooder’s uncompromising distillation of vintage Americana jazz is inspiring in its ambition and scope. Joseph Byrd’s arrangements are precise and showcase the impeccable musicianship. Side I opens with the 1924 Milton Yager/Jack Yellen social musing, “Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now”. This number has been recorded by a wide array of artists including Peggy Lee, Merle Haggard and even Van Halen. Cooder’s distinctive acoustic guitar initiates a Dixieland swing. The formidable horn section blends in seamlessly. A saucy trombone (Randy Aldcroft) precedes a bottleneck run, cornet (Mario Guarneri) and stride-like piano (John Rodby). Jazz is connected to many other American musical genres. “Face To Face” is pure country-infused gospel. There are tonal shades with a baritone horn (George Bohannon) and tuba (Red Callender) that lead a processional flow. David Lindley (on mandobanjo) complements Cooder’s outstanding guitar work as the song ends in an aspirational tempo shift. It’s all Ry Cooder on “The Pearls/Tia Juana” medley which interprets Jelly Roll Morton with guitar and mandolin. The timing and phrasing is flawless. A transition to Mexican folk-infused jazz is accentuated with harp. It is texture on texture in a virtuosic performance. An early ragtime song, “Dream” was closely associated with a very young Eubie Blake. Here jazz icon Earl Hines lends his deft talents to this easy shuffle. Tom Collier adds a vampy marimba. When Cooder injects bottleneck, it gently sways with an Island-ish rhythm. Hines finishes up with a dose of mood and soul. Revisiting traditional music, “Happy Meeting In Glory” is a song that inspired Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence. Originally a hymnal, here it is re-arranged in 3/4 time. Cooder (guitar) and Lindley (mandolin) are a perfect match. Bohannon’s gliding trombone is atmospheric and the horns chorus embraces the religious context.
Side II covers 3 Bix Beiderbecke tunes. “In A Mist” was first recorded in 1927 with Paul Whiteman. Here Cooder is backed by alto (Harvey Pittel), and bass clarinet (David Sherr) with vibraphone (Tom Collier) and bass (Tom Pedrini). Tempo adjustments and punctuation are compelling. A second composition that Beiderbecke recorded on piano, “Flashes”, is performed on solo guitar. Cooder’s erudite technique embraces the melody with intimacy. “Davenport Blues” is classic Beiderbecke with a jaunty, rolling presence. Collier adds some rhythmic backbone on vibraphone. This has a shimmering quintet arrangement. Cooder revisits Tin Pan Alley on the Ford Dabney/Cecil Mack number, “Shine”. The vocal standard has been recorded by The Mills Brothers and Bing Crosby. Cooder’s winsome vocals kick off this one before an adroit swing break. A terrific vocal quartet (reminiscent of Paul Whiteman’s Rhythm Boys) adds nuanced feeling. A certain highlight is Bert Williams’ “Nobody”. First released as vaudeville in 1906, this cover begins with a Sunday morning chant. Cooder returns with the vocal quartet in an internal “talking/singing” dialogue. The harmonies are riveting. The finale, “We Shall be Happy” is another spiritual rendered in acoustic splendor.
Speakers Corner has done a superlative job in re-mastering Ry Cooder – Jazz to 180-gram vinyl. The sound mix is excellent. All of the acoustic stringed instruments are vibrant and precise. Horn tonality is mellow without any overt shrillness. Byrd’s arrangements are concise and envelop the conceptual vision of the album. The hi-gloss album packaging is top-notch, as is the reproduction of the bright red graphics and lettering centered in black. » Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition, Jan 13, 2020
When someone such as Ry Cooder, who delved deeply into traditional sources, just names his LP "Jazz", it is unlikely that one will hear avant-garde music. Actually, in the numbers gathered together here the investigative guitar man dedicated himself more or less to almost forgotten music. Historically informed, yet not adhering to the original instrumental ensemble, this ostensibly antiquated music enjoys a brilliant renaissance. Just like in an album of charming black and white photographs, the old-fashioned style shines out brightly, such as in "Big Band Bill", which (hardly by accident) is modelled on the jaunty swing of Django Reinhard, but does not imitate him. Cooder’s slightly acidic-sounding guitar mixes homogeneously with the delightfully rustic sound of the tuba and a bluegrass mandolin ("Face To Face…").
The typical Caribbean rattle of the marimba enters into a pleasant dialogue with the warped sound of the slide guitar. Folksy bliss in three-four time ("Happy Meeting In Glory") stands confidently on a par with the merry, self-willed saxophone ("In A Mist") and with the poetic, dreamy and meditative guitar ("Flashes"). And just listen to how the classic number "Davenport Blues" – with its emphasis on the woodwinds – grooves along with the vibraphone and tingly inner parts. This sound is both filled with the spirit of Bix Beiderbecke and, based loosely on Mingus, will sooth the Jelly Roll Morton-soul of its fans.
AllMusic : 3 / 5, Discogs : Rate Your Music :