From Britain to Boogaloo
Memories of My Trip
Proper American Records
You will find very few jazz retrospectives more thoroughly, warmly inviting than Memories of My Trip, which celebrates six decades of recording and performing by one of Britain's most enduring traditional jazz musicianstrombonist, bassist and bandleader Chris Barber. Presented across two CDs (one subtitled Blues, Jazz & Gospel and the other subtitled Blues & Jazz), Barber's precious Memories are highlighted by admirers such as Muddy Waters, Keith Emerson, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and others from outside the traditional jazz realm.
Folk-blues legends Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee climb onboard the blues classic "When Things Go Wrong" with British vocalist Ottile Patterson and give it a long slow ride back through music history to that point where blues and jazz merge on the horizon. "Kansas City" captures a rolling and tumbling snapshot of roughly-hewn blues from one of Muddy Waters' greatest bands (featuring pianist Pinetop Perkins), with Barber's trombone solo growling below Bob Margolin's electric blues guitar. Barber's trombone also helps moan and cry the blues shuffle "Weeping Willow," which Eric Clapton impeccably renders on vocals and slide guitar. Disc one also features guitarists Alexis Corner, who blows through James Cotton's howling, cavernous "Love Me or Leave Me," and a rare live Rory Gallagher's recording of "Can't Be Satisfied" released by permission of Gallagher's estate. This first CD closes with a Van Morrison trilogy that features him thoroughly at home, on vocals and harmonica, in the medium he haunts bestthe bluesconcluding with the glorious and rollicking "Oh, Didn't He Ramble" from sessions that Barber and Morrison recorded with New Orleans pianist Dr. John for Morrison's landmark A Period of Transition (Warner Bros., 1977).
On the second disc, progressive rock greybeard Keith Emerson lets his funky small combo roots show through Jack McDuff's compact, crunchy instrumental "Rock Candy." Jools Holland rips off "Winin' Boy Blues" like a weathered bluesman surrounded by the joyous Dixieland sound of jazz-blues syncopation, with which he strolls more casually "On the Sunny Side of the Street." "Jack Teagarden Blues" captures a small club date where Barber exchanges trombone blues with Count Basie guitarist, arranger and trombonist Eddie Durham.
Three tunes with guitarist Mark Knopfler help Barber bring the curtain down. Thanks to Vic Pitts' loping bass line and Barber's harmony vocal, "Blues Stay Away From Me" introduces another jazz flavorcountry-swing jazzinto Barber's hearty roots stew. After ripping up the "Dallas Rag" (first recorded by The Dallas String band in the 1920s), Barber and Knopfler and friends bid ya'all a good night " 'Till the Next Time I'm in Town," a perfectly relaxed yet swinging way to closeuntil next timeBarber's Memories of My Trip.
Huntington Ashram Monastery / World Galaxy
Impulse! Records / Universal Music
Composer, pianist, keyboard player, harpist and bandleader Alice (McLeod) Coltrane married John Coltrane in 1965. She played in her husband's band until his passing in 1967 but his influence remained strong throughout her music thereafter. Few of her albums reflect this influence more strongly than Huntington Ashram Monastery, recorded in 1969, and World Galaxy, recorded in 1971, here combined as part of the Impulse!/Universal 2-on-1 Impulse! reissue series.
Huntington captures a trio date with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Rashied Ali, who picked up for Elvin Jones in John Coltrane's band and helped propel 'Trane into his most "free" jazz. Its title track, originally composed as a solo harp piece, and "Parmahansa Lake" pivot their internal (meditative) and external (exploratory) faces upon the fulcrum of Carter's repetitive, throbbing bass, even though their swirling movements and rhythms, especially from Coltrane's harp, sound static, nearly floating. "I am especially pleased with Ron Carter's playing on this album," she wrote in Monastery's original notes. "His ears are harmonically attuned to higher chord progressions."
Coltrane moves from harp to piano for "Via Sivanandager" and "Jaya Jaya Rama" and the piano's less heavenly, more temporal sound seems to root them in more earthly styles. The spiritual overtones, and multiplicity and sheer volume of her notes, impart such majestic jazz power to "Via Sivanandager" that the comparison to McCoy Tyner, another of her husband's most famous sidemen, seems almost too evident. Her piano roots "Jaya Jaya Rama" in the blood, sweat and tears of the blues.