Acrobat Music

Acrobat jazz & blues collections well-reviewed in specialist press

Acrobat jazz & blues collections well-reviewed in specialist press

Here are the reviews:

From Mojo magazine: 

JOHN COLTRANE   Trane 90 (ACQCD7105) Full product details here

A Coltrane primer and joyful celebration. John Coltrane kept busting through musical borders, so much so that when the tenor/soprano saxophonist died in 1967, it was as if he'd leaped over all earthly boundaries and had to

continue his journey in another realm. This 4-CD box celebrates the jazz giant's 90th birthday, and if you aren't familiar with Coltrane's work - start here. (If you are, this is a killer mixtape!) Combining the fat tone of R&B honkers and the fleet phrasing of Charlie Parker, he conjured his own legendary "sheets of sound". Each disc has a theme (sideman, leader, collaborations and broadcasts/private tapes), giving us examples of his evolution (bop, ballads, modal, free), peers (Dizzy, Monk, Miles, Rollins) and his mastery of composition (Giant Steps, Naima). While impossible to compile a Coltrane 'Best Of' there's too much 'best' — Trane 90 brilliantly functions as close to one as possible.

Michael Simmons.


From R2 magazine 

JOHN LEE HOOKER The Modern, Chess & VeeJay Singles Collection 1949-1962

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101 tracks gathered over four CDs and, as Hooker was no respecter of recording contracts, there is plenty not here, even with the restricted time-scale — Mississippi-born, Detroit-based John Lee Hooker was nothing if not prolific! It's not a problem though. This release presents the tracks that appeared on the Modern label between

1949 and 1955, the singles on Chicago's VeeJay from 1955 to 1962, and material issued by Chess Records in the early 50s, some credited to a thinly disguised John Lee Booker. As such, stylistically the music ranges from the solo classic 'Boogie Chillun' (vocal, wildly rhythmic electric guitar and foot-stomping) and a minimalist 'Whistlin' And Moanin' Blues' (just what it says on the tin), both formats Hooker would rework many times in his career (though without the whistling), to material with the proto-Motown band. Hooker was unique, even if a significant proportion of his output comprised drastic reworkings of others' songs, making them distinctively his own in time-honoured traditional fashion. From the mid-50s Hooker's music became much more structured as he worked regularly with a band on record, in a format familiar from his 1964 U.K. hit, 'Dimples' (in the charts eight years after its original release) and the U.S. and U.K. hit 'Boom Boom' — both included here.

Very few blues artists can sustain interest over four CDs, but the Boogie Man just about manages it. This set deserves to be heard in its own right, but lovers of the 60s blues boom, on which Hooker was a big influence, fans of Canned Heat, those who came to Hooker's music following 1989's hugely successful The Healer, and adherents of the North Mississippi Hill Country style will all find plenty to enjoy here. The handsome packaging also merits mention, with discographical information and detailed sleeve notes by Paul Watts making sense of one massively complicated recording career. But Johnny Lee, you're worth it.

Norman Darwen


LITTLE WALTER  The Complete Checker Singles  As & Bs 1952-1960

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Chicago blues genius Little Walter wasn't the first harmonica player to amplify his instrument and play by cupping it into a microphone but he was the first to really grasp the full possibilities of amplification, relishing the opportunities it provided for distortion and innovative, modern sounds. The current fifty-two-track compilation (two slightly later bonus tracks are included) features, in numbers like hike', 'Blues With A Feeling', 'Mean Old World', 'My Babe' and 'Mellow Down Easy', some of the greatest blues ever recorded, with Walter singing very effectively on many of the tracks as well, despite not having an exceptional voice. Sadly, he was an unreliable, self-destructive character and his playing declined badly in the 50s. Truth to tell, the decline really began in the latter years of the period covered here, when he began recording fewer of his own songs, and he died a predictably dismal death, aged thirty-seven, in l968, following a street brawl. "Little Walter was dead ten years before he died," noted his former bandleader, Muddy Waters, with characteristic sagacity.

 Trevor Hodgett

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