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Hugh Masekela - Almost Like Being In Jazz (2005)

24-08-2014, 09:38
Jazz | Soul | Funk | World | FLAC / APE

Hugh Masekela - Almost Like Being In Jazz (2005)

Artist: Hugh Masekela
Title Of Album: Almost Like Being In Jazz
Year Of Release: 2005
Label: Straight Ahead Records
Genre: Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Soul-Jazz
Total Time: 61:37 min
Format: Mp3 / FLAC (tracks +.cue, log-file)
Quality: CBR 320 kbps / Lossless
Total Size: 149 mb / 277 mb

The South African trumpet and flugelhorn player Hugh Masekela first became known to American audiences as a pop star with his 1968 hit Grazing in the Grass. He played trumpet on The Byrds' hit So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star, and among audiophiles, his song Stimela (Coaltrain), recorded live, is a sonic standout as well as an inspiring track. Masekela explains in his self-penned liner notes to this album that when he arrived in America from South Africa and began recording, self appointed jazz experts like Leonard Feather and Stanley Grouch (Crouch), disparaged his music saying This is not jazz! Thus the whimsical title of this set, Almost Like Being in Jazz. Masekela writes that now that these two critics and jazz purists are dead, he feels safe coming out of the closet and playing this set of jazz standards without ...being harassed by their ghosts. Where Masekela got the idea that Stanley Crouch is dead, I don't know. The author, jazz critic, and social commentator is very much alive. I don't know if he's harassed Mr. Masekela yet about this album, but I sure won't. This is a set of ballad standards performed in what can now be called classic '50's/'60's style-and that goes for the sound quality as well. Fans of Miles Davis's and Bill Evans's balladry will not be disappointed, to say the least by both the unhurried pace of the quartet's music and the sweet, rich sound. The Miles influence can be heard in Masekela's ragged, linear phrasing and his choice of notes around the familiar melodies. Backing him are the great Larry Willis on piano, John Heard on bass and Lorca Heart on drums. Willis recorded a wonderful album on the AudioQuest label back in 1992 with Gary Bartz and Cecil McBee called Steal Away produced by Joe Harley and engineered by Mapleshade's Pierre M. Sprey. Heard has played with, among others, Al Jarreau (not jazz to me), as well as Sonny Rollins and Randy Weston (both definitely jazz). I'm not familiar with Lorca Heart. Tunes include Charlie Chaplin's Smile, You'll Never Know, I Remember Clifford, Paper Moon, and Don't Explain, which is credited to Billy Holiday (ouch!). Actually I made the same stupid error in a Tracking Angle story, but it hurts worse on an almost like a jazz album. The recording, produced live in the foyer of Bernie Grundman's mastering facility is absolutely stunning. Grundman learned this magic while working at Contemporary during the 1960's, and while he didn't engineer the session, his input was critical to getting the almost overwhelmingly pure, harmonically decadent, three dimensional sound, recorded live to two track analog for the LP, and to separate computers for redbook CD and high resolution DVD-A. The miking is intimate and while the drum kit is spread across the soundstage, the recording is otherwise very natural, with Masekela's trumpet almost jumping into your lap. Willis's piano, delicately recorded, is properly left somewhat in the background, helping to give the recording a natural live feel. The set is available as a double LP, and as a Dualdisc with CD on one side and DVD-A (two channel) on the other. Needless to say, the LP simply squashes the CD, good as it sounds. I couldn't do a direct LP to DVD-A comparison. This is a cognac type of jazz album, or almost jazz album, whatever you want to call it. There's nothing challenging about the music, nor is that intended. An album of slow ballads can get to be a bit much after a while, but a side or two at a time will definitely lower your blood pressure and let you know just how good your system is sounding. So uncork, roll up, meditate, pray to Jesus, whatever you do, and then listen to this soothing set. It's jazz in my book. --music angle michael fremer

This is an album I've been waiting for, for quite sometime. The first straight-ahead mainstream album from Hugh Masekela ever, four decades in the making after Leonard Feather and Stanley Crouch, with the first now passed on, to quote the sleeve notes &vehemently declared THIS IS NOT JAZZ Masekela states that he has never called his music jazz, but these doyens of music taste and style at the time continued to deride Bra Hugh s music thus caused him to choose to stay away from these 'purists'. Stewart Levine suggested to Hugh that they find an early cohort of theirs from their days at the Manhattan School of Music, pianist Larry Willis. Contact was made and Willis was onboard, both masters were joined by bass player John Heard and drummer Lorca Heart for rehearsals and recording from 12 to 17 October 2004 and the album was released unheralded last year without much fanfare and fuss, mores the pity. This is a side of Masekela that many have not heard before, what a delight and it is a must for collectors. The track selection is also very interesting in that a few of the standards are not often recorded these days, which in itself is a thrill for those who enjoy great tunes. The band is great with some sensitive and enjoyable playing. Miles Davis's influence can be heard in Masekela's sensitive ballad style, me thinks all that listening to the master at the Village Vanguard in the 60's with Larry Willis and Stewart Levine some of the Miles magic rubbed off and has finally shown itself. It is an album one can pull out when one has friends around, who don't know much about jazz, around and introduce them to the sound of easy, sun-downer jazz which we hope will interest those friends in exploring the wonderful world of jazz many of us love and enjoy so much. I for one hope this will not be the last time Hugh Masekela visits the standards and will do another album of this nature in the very near future, perhaps the songbooks of Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Farmer, Roy Eldridge, Nat Adderley and Lee Morgan. This is the type of album that master saxophonist Winston Mankunku and many other senior South African musicians would dearly love to record, yes they have the talent to do it and blow away their counterparts from around the world. --jazz rendezvous

Product Description
Hugh makes a very important statement about this record in our liner notes of the record that says it best- When I first began recording and performing in america , self anointed jazz experts Leonard Feather and Stanley Grouch were extremely offended by the music I was playing and vehemently declared -THIS IS NOT JAZZ!!-. I had never claimed that it was Jazz but the two gentlemen and their purist disciples did everything in their power to denounce my musical efforts, subsequently causing me to keep a distance from their hallowed , private hallways of music. Now that they have both passed away, I feel that it is quite safe to come out of the closet and play some of the old classics without being harassed by their ghosts. Hugh Masekela - flugelhorn Larry Willis - piano John Heard - bass Lorca Heart - drums Dual Disc- one side standard CD (uncompressed 16 bit from the master 16-bit recording) and the other side is DVD-A (uncompressed full 24/96k from the other master recorder) The vinyl is also uncompressed! from Reel to Reel so either way you go- You get Hugh FULLY! Enjoy these jazz ballads. He really makes a great evening listen. The quality is higher than almost anything you can get. And yes, you can tell.


1. You'll Never Know
2. Answer Me My Love
3. Don't Explain
4. It Never Entered My Mind
5. Paper Moon
6. Betcha By Golly Wow
7. Midnight Sun
8. I Remember Clifford
9. Smile
10. You Don't Know What Love Is
11. My Ship
12. Presente De Natal



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