The MPS reissue series kicks off in the fall of 2017 with an attractive ‘five-pack’ of artists who have been central to this label; milestones, rediscoveries and new discoveries, as well as rare and much sought-after pieces are hidden within the recordings from the years 1967 through 1973, with the halcyon (golden) year 1971 smack dab in the middle. The music covers a wide range of styles and formats, ranging from piano masterpieces to vocal jazz on through to filigree guitar work.
“…one of contemporary jazz’s great performers…” so reads the prestigious Guardian newspaper’s assessment of English pianist John Taylor. As house pianist at London’s legendary Ronny Scott’s jazz club, Taylor accompanied many of the icons of jazz, and in so doing honed his individual style into what became one of the most important voices on the European jazz scene. The gigs and recordings of his own groups, his long-time association with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, his many ECM trio recordings with Peter Erskine and Palle Danielsonn and groups lead by the likes of Jan Garbarek and John Surman established Taylor’s importance. Taylor’s 1973 MPS trio album Decipher features two top players, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer Tony Levin, who perfectly compliment Taylor’s wideranging style on an album that offers the listener a delicious taste of his compositions.
Mark Murphy – Midnight Mood
When he died at the age of 83 in October 2015, the local papers, were restrained in their obituaries. For many jazz fans and cognoscenti, singer Mark Murphy was vastly underrated; they are right, as his prolific six-decade-long artistic career attests: during that career Murphy exhibited an inventive stylistic range that covered blues to bebop on through to modern jazz. His 1967 MPS recording lands in the middle of his “European decade”, and it is one of the most beautiful, striking documents of his skills. “Midnight Mood” is characterized by the sophisticated dialogue between voice and eight musicians from the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland-Big Band.
Monty Alexander – Here Comes The Sun
This 1971 recording signals the beginning of Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander’s fruitful relationship with MPS, lasting over a decade and encompassing some dozen albums. Originally touted as heir to Oscar Peterson’s crown, Alexander is famous for his virtuoso melding of jazz, the sounds of the Caribbean and blues. The classic Dave Brubeck Quartet’s bassist Eugene Wright, calypso percussionist Montego Joe, and ace drummer Duffy Jackson round out the quartet.
The Oscar Peterson Trio + The Singers Unlimited – In Tune
Masterful piano playing meets up with elaborate vocal harmony in this legendary MPS summit meeting from the label’s early period. Oscar Peterson, MPS head Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer’s long-time friend and collaborator, along with Peterson’s colleagues, bassist George Mraz and drummer Louis Hayes, act as the counterweights to the vocal architects from Chicago. Peterson himself instigated the first contact between the Schwarzwald studio and The Singers Unlimited (TSU). That contact developed into a fruitful decade-long relationship; the Villingen studio’s superb technology perfectly suited the sophisticated requirements of vocal artist and leader Gene Puerling. Recorded in 1971, “In Tune” was TSU’s first album on MPS.
Volker Kriegel – Spectrum
In 1971, 27-year-old guitarist Volker Kriegel gifted MPS one of his most amazing recordings ever – the second one under his own name, while at the same time playing a parallel role as guitarist with the popular group the Dave Pike Set. In this quintet lineup, Kriegel’s amazing qualities fan out into the areas of jazz-rock, lyrical folk and free jazz. There are the familiar sitar-Indie-rock tones, familiar to listeners through Kriegel’s play with Dave Pike: “Zoom” opens the album with an electrified jolt, and it’s not just because of Kriegel’s overpowering trance-like solos – Peter Trunk’s grooving bass lines and Cees See’s driving percussion also have their say. “So Long For Now”, delights with its relaxed blues-rock feel which finds Trunk and drummer Peter Baumeister in intimate dialogue as they hook up with Kriegel’s silkysmooth, flowing lines and John Taylor’s smoldering Electra-piano play.
MPS releases in focus
//John Taylor Trio – Decipher – CD, vinyl* and digital
//Mark Murphy – Midnight Mood – CD, vinyl* and digital
//Monty Alexander – Here Comes The Sun – CD, vinyl* and digital
//The Oscar Peterson Trio + The Singers Unlimited – In Tune – CD, vinyl* and Digital
//Volker Kriegel – Spectrum – CD, vinyl* and digital
*180g vinyl (Audiophile, Analogue, Remastering)