Other jazz: Voices Of Concord Jazz | Neil Ardley | Roland Kirk

Also reviewed: Neil Ardley | Roland Kirk

Voices Of Concord Jazz

(Concord CCD2-2246-2)
In recent times, the Concord label has made a speciality of vocal jazz, and this programme, recorded live at last year's Montreux festival, amounts to a showcase of its artists. Hearing them in quick succession like this, I was struck by how different they all were, with no suggestion of a house style. The contrast between, for instance, the polished Peter Cincotti and the streetwise Curtis Stigers, or crisp Karrin Allyson and feisty Diane Schuur, couldn't be more marked. Monica Mancini (the late Henry's daughter) turns out to be an excellent straight-melody singer, while Patti Austin and Nnenna Freelon both live up to their considerable reputations. The finale, in which all seven take part, is completely stolen by a blinding piano solo from Cincotti.

Neil Ardley
Greek Variations

(Universal 986 689 9)

Recorded in 1970 and long out of print, this album marked the beginning of Ardley's great period as a jazz composer. Written to feature trumpeter Ian Carr and saxophonist Don Rendell with a small ensemble and string quintet, it still sounds startlingly fresh. The six variations are all built on the little melody which was the call-sign of Greek state radio at the time. The idea of improvising on exotic scales and fragments of melody was new and daunting, but Carr and Rendell both produce exquisite, idiomatic solos.

Roland Kirk
Live In London

(Harkit HRKCD 8077)

Every performance by Kirk was an event. A man who could play three saxophones at once, simultaneously sing and play the flute, not to mention deploy an arsenal of sirens, nose flutes and what-not for light relief, just had to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, since he died in 1977, you have to be knocking on a bit to have had the chance. This set, recorded at Ronnie Scott's in 1964, comes as close as any recording could to conveying the experience. He may have looked like a madman while at work, but the music he produced made perfect sense.

Dave Gelly

The GuardianTramp

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