current jazz listening 01/24

miles davis: kind of blue (1959)

miles davis: kind of blue (1959)

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue – A recent visit to amazon.com revealed nearly a dozen different editions of Davis’ 1959 masterpiece of cool, including several new deluxe editions full of previously unreleased audio table scraps seemingly designed to flesh out a classic that needs not to be messed with. My recommendation: stick with the $7 copy of the 1997 remastered edition. It sports an alternate take of  Kind of Blue‘s most underrated triumph: Flamenco Sketches. It’s a gorgeous bit of regal jazz atmospherics with a roll call of sublime solos by Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly. You need no bigger blue in your ears than this.

lee morgan: search for the new land (1964)

lee morgan: search for the new land (1964)

Lee Morgan: Search for the New Land – Nearly 37 years after his shooting death in a New York club, Morgan remains the only trumpeter outside of Freddie Hubbard that could even approach Davis’ compositional reach. This 1964 session sports two noted Davis alumni (Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter), although guitarist Grant Green is the one who really ups the cool quotient here. For my money, these are Morgan’s sharpest compositions and, a result, his best album. A record that fully captures the brilliance of the vintage Blue Note era, from its suave swing and temperament to its exquisite sense of after hours soul.  

freddie hubbard: straight life (1971)

freddie hubbard: straight life (1971)

Freddie Hubbard: Straight Life – Hubbard’s death just after Christmas prompted renewed listening to as much of his catalogue as I could get my greedy little mittens on. His Blue Note albums of the early and mid ‘60s remain in a class by themselves. But Straight Life is a 1971 CTI album with only two lengthy funk and primitive fusion jams and a hushed recitation of Here’s That Rainy Day with a young George Benson as a foil. Hubbard’s music went soft and south real fast after this. But today, Straight Life remains a jazz portrait of exciting generational change.

david "fathead" newman: fire! (1988)

david "fathead" newman: fire! (1989)

David “Fathead” Newman: Fire! – I reached for this one as soon as word of sax great Newman’s death spread on Wednesday. It was part of a brief, late ‘80s return to Atlantic Records, the label for which he cut commanding soul music recordings with Ray Charles as well as a string of solo funk and fusion albums. Fire! is largely a jazz bouquet, though, with Newman holding court at New York’s Village Vanguard just before Christmas of 1998. Stanley Turrentine and Hank Crawford provide additional sax star power, but vibist Steve Nelson best echoes the sweet soul reserve of Newman’s blissful playing.

matthew shipp quartet: cosmic suite (2008)

matthew shipp quartet: cosmic suite (2008)

Matthew Shipp Quartet: Cosmic Suite – Stumbled upon this one quite by accident while looking for Shipp music online. Cosmic Suite was cut only a year ago by the pianist’s current trio  – bassist Joe Morris and drummer Walt Dickey – along with veteran New York improviser Daniel Carter on reeds. But it seems to have received only a limited import release. With two such feverish players at the helm, one might expect the music to be a tad volcanic. Actually, the ensemble interplay is often quiet and internalized. Don’t worry, though. You’ll still feel the bumps as you shoot through the cosmos.

Karzai mulling earlier presidential election

The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY) April 13, 2012 | Ali Safi Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that he’s considering moving the election for his successor up by a year to avoid complicating the drawdown of U.S.-led NATO forces due to be completed by the end of 2014. website 2012 presidential election

It remained unclear, however, whether Karzai would shift the contest to 2013, because that would apparently require him to resign before his second five-year term ends in May 2014.

Abdullah Ahmadzai, a senior official with the country’s Independent Election Commission, told McClatchy Newspapers that there are no provisions in the Afghan constitution for holding an early presidential election and that only Karzai’s resignation could clear the way.

“There is one provision in the law and that is if the president resigns. Upon his resignation, an early election can be held. Otherwise, we don’t see a legal way for it,” Ahmadzai said.

Some U.S. officials and independent experts have been concerned about holding the election in 2014 at the same time that most U.S.- led international troops are expected to be leaving. Such a convergence, they worry, would create an operational and logistical nightmare that places undue stress on Afghan security forces in their battle to contain the Taliban-led insurgency.

The 2009 presidential election and 2010 parliamentary contests saw major surges in insurgent attacks, but there were more than 100,000 international troops on hand to back up Afghan security forces.

Karzai, appearing at a news conference with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the president’s fortified palace, voiced his own concerns over holding the presidential election as the bulk of the U.S.-led NATO contingent leaves. site 2012 presidential election

“With all the changes that are taking place with the complete return of international forces to their homes from Afghanistan and the holding of a presidential election at the same time,” Karzai said, there are questions over “whether that will be an agenda that we can handle.” Karzai — who has led Afghanistan for more than a decade — is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in the election currently scheduled for March 2014.

As yet, there are no officially declared candidates seeking to succeed Karzai. Among the possible contenders are Karzai’s older brother, Abdul Qayum Karzai, and Ali Ahmad Jalali, who served as the country’s second post-Taliban interior minister. Both are U.S. citizens.

Karzai said he hasn’t yet made a final decision on whether to move up the election.

The United States and its allies plan to withdraw most of their remaining 130,000 troops by the end of 2014 at the conclusion of a phased transition of security responsibilities to Afghan security forces. Some 10,000 U.S. forces left last year, and an additional 20,000 are due to go home this year.

Ali Safi



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