Ellington Uptown

            Recording Date:
                December 7, 1951   tk 4
                February 29, 1952  tk 1
                June 30, 1952         tk 3
                July 1, 1952            tk 2,5

               Duke Ellington     P
               Billy Strayhorn    P
               Cat Anderson     TP
               Shorty Baker     TP
              Willie Cook        TP
             Francis Williams TP tk4
             Ray Nance         TP
            Quentin Jackson  TB
Britt Woodman    TB
Juan Tizol            TB
Jimmy Hamilton   CL,TS
Willie Smith         AS
Johnny Hodges    AS tk3
Hilton Jefferson   AS
Russell Procope  AS
Paul Gonsalves   TS
Harry Carney     BS
Fred Guy           G
Oscar Pettiford  B
Wendell Marshall B
Louis Bellson    D
Betty Roche     Vo tk3


Reviewby Scott Yanow
Although some historians have characterized the early '50s as Duke Ellington's "off period" (due to the defection of alto star Johnny Hodges), in reality, his 1951-1952 orchestra could hold its own against his best. This set has many classic moments, including Betty Roche's famous bebop vocal on "Take the 'A' Train," a version of "The Mooche" that contrasts the different clarinet styles of Russell Procope and Jimmy Hamilton, a hot "Perdido" that is highlighted by some great Clark Terry trumpet, Louie Bellson's drum solo on "Skin Deep," a definitive version of "The Harlem Suite," and the two-part "Controversial Suite," which contrasts New Orleans jazz with futuristic music worthy of Stan Kenton. One of the great Duke Ellington sets. The 2004 edition features gorgeously remastered sound, and adds no less than six bonus cuts: the enigmatic: "Dance"s 1-5," and the stunningly beautiful "I Feel Like Sunrise."


               MILES DAVIS
           Bags' Groove

                Recording Date:
                    June 29, 1954 tk3-7
                    Dec. 24, 1954 tk1-2

                   Miles Davis     TP
                   Percy Heath     B
                   Kenny Clarke    D
                   Sonny Rollins   TS 3-7
                   Horace Silver   P  3-7
                   Milt Jackson    VB 1-2
                   Thelonious Monk P  1-2


Reviewby Lindsay Planer
There are a multitude of reasons why Bags' Groove remains a cornerstone of the post-bop genre. Of course there will always be the lure of the urban myth surrounding the Christmas Eve 1954 session -- featuring Thelonious Monk -- which is documented on the two takes of the title track. There are obviously more tangible elements, such as Davis' practically telepathic runs with Sonny Rollins (tenor sax). Or Horace Silver's (piano) uncanny ability to provide a stream of chord progressions that supply a second inconspicuous lead without ever overpowering. Indeed, Davis' choice of former Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra and concurrent Modern Jazz Quartet members Milt Jackson (vibes), Kenny Clarke (drums), and Percy Heath (bass) is obviously well-informed. This combo became synonymous with the ability to tastefully improvise and provide bluesy bop lines in varied settings. The up-tempo and Latin-infused syncopation featured during the opening of "Airegin" flows into lines and minor-chord phrasings that would reappear several years later throughout Davis' Sketches of Spain epic. The fun and slightly maniacally toned "Oleo" features one of Heath's most impressive displays on Bags' Groove. His staccato accompaniment exhibits the effortless nature with which these jazz giants are able to incorporate round after round of solos onto the larger unit. Bags' Groove belongs as a cornerstone of all jazz collections. Likewise, the neophyte as well as the seasoned jazz enthusiast will find much to discover and rediscover throughout the disc. The remastered CD includes both historic takes of "Bags' Groove" as well as one additional rendering of the pop standard "But Not for Me."



                Recording Date:
                        June 28, 1965

                       John Coltrane      TS
                       Art Davis             B
                       Jimmy Garrison    B
                       Freddie Hubbard TP
                       Dewey Johnson   TP
                       Elvin Jones          D
                       McCoy Tyner      P
                       Pharoah Sanders TS
                       Archie Shepp      TS
                       John Tchicai      AS
                                                                              Marion Brown    AS


Review by Sam Samuelson
Ascension is the single recording that placed John Coltrane firmly into the avant-garde. Whereas, prior to 1965, Coltrane could be heard playing in an avant vein with stretched-out solos, atonality, and a seemingly free design to the beat, Ascension throws most rules right out the window with complete freedom from the groove and strikingly abrasive sheets of horn interplay. Recorded with three tenors (Trane, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp), two altos (Marion Brown, John Tchicai), two trumpet players (Freddie Hubbard, Dewey Johnson), two bassists (Art Davis, Jimmy Garrison), the lone McCoy Tyner on piano, and Elvin Jones on the drums, this large group is both relentless and soulful simultaneously. While there are segments where the ensemble plays discordant and abrasive skronks, these are usually segues into intriguing blues-based solos from each member. The comparison that is immediately realized is Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz of five years previous. However, it should be known that Ascension certainly carries its own weight, and in a strange sense makes Coleman's foray a passive adventure -- mostly due to an updated sonic quality (à la Bob Thiele) and also Trane's greater sense of passionate spiritualism. Timed at around 40 minutes, this can be a difficult listen at first, but with a patient ear and an appreciation for the finer things in life, the reward is a greater understanding of the personal path that the artist was on at that particular time in his development. Coltrane was always on an unceasing mission for personal expansion through the mouthpiece of his horn, but by the time of this recording he had begun to reach the level of "elder statesman" and to find other voices (Shepp, Sanders, and Marion Brown) to propel and expand his sounds and emotions. Therefore, Ascension reflects more of an event rather than just a jazz record and should be sought out by either experienced jazz appreciators or other open-minded listeners, but not by unsuspecting bystanders.


                BENNY CARTER

                Recording Date:
                     June 26- August 26, 1995

                     Gene DiNovi         P
                     Sherman Ferguson D
                     John Heard            B
                     Steve LaSpina       B
                     Roy McCurdy       D
                     Chris Neville         P


Reviewby Scott Yanow
Due to his being such a talented altoist, arranger and occasional trumpeter for seven decades, it is often forgotten that Benny Carter wrote some worthy songs along the way. "When Lights Are Low" and "Blues in My Heart" are standards while "Only Trust Your Heart," "Key Largo" and the novelty hit "Cow-Cow Boogie" are close. For this unusual set, 14 different singers had opportunities to interpret one or two Carter compositions while joined by a fine quintet consisting of cornetist Warren Vache, pianist Chris Neville, bassist Steve LaSpina, drummer Sherman Ferguson and Carter himself (88 at the time!) on alto. The ambitious program includes five Carter songs that were receiving their world premiere; in addition Carter also wrote or co-wrote the lyrics to nine of the pieces. The singers all show respect for the melody and words with Jon Hendricks being playful on "Cow-Cow Boogie," Joe Williams quite touching on "I Was Wrong" and a weakened Peggy Lee making a memorable cameo on "I See You." The vocalists consistently seem quite inspired by the unique project. There are many short Carter and Warren Vache solos and, even with the emphasis on ballads, there is more variety than one might expect. The well-conceived tribute (which also has fine appearances by Dianne Reeves, Carmen Bradford, Kenny Rankin, Marlena Shaw, Diana Krall, Billy Stritch, Shirley Horn, Bobby Short, Ruth Brown, Weslia Whitfield and Nancy Marano) is easily recommended.


       Monk's Music

         Recording Date:
               June 26, 1957

              Art Blakey            D
              John Coltrane      TS
              Ray Copeland       TP
              Gigi Gryce           AS
              Coleman Hawkins TS
              Thelonious Monk   P
              Wilbur Ware         B


Review by Lindsay Planer
Monk's Music is often cited as one of the focal points of Thelonious Monk's six-year affiliation (1955-1961) with the Riverside label. Although the original disc clocked in at slightly over 30 minutes, packed into that half hour are not only the introduction of a few of Monk's signature compositions, but also some amazing interactions from the assembled ensemble. Joining Thelonious Monk (piano) during these two recording sessions are Ray Copeland (trumpet), Gigi Gryce (alto sax), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Wilbur Ware (bass), and Art Blakey (drums). The true meaning of the album's title exists beyond just Thelonious, as the opening sacred prelude, "Abide With Me," was written by William H. Monk. This brief piece features only the horn quartet, foreshadowing their importance throughout the album. The angular stride style featured during the chorus of "Well You Needn't" is tackled with the same nimble authority as Monk's completely unfettered solos. If his ability to swing and his utilization of atomic clock accuracy have ever been questioned, the answer lies no further. So utterly free and fantastic, certain passages command immediate review to be fully comprehended. Hearing Coltrane and Hawkins together is admittedly part of the charm in these sides. "Ruby, My Dear" is bathed in the smoky essence of Hawkins' rich textures and Coltrane's playful cat-and-mouse aggression. Blakey gently propels the rhythm, never getting in the way and sporting a serene snare groove throughout. "Off Minor" is largely led by Monk, with solos that follow into and out of the memorable chorus that sparkles with the full involvement of the horn and rhythm sections. The same is true for this definitive version of "Epistrophy" -- perhaps the zenith collaborative effort between Coltrane and Monk. Additionally, Blakey is in top form, with a solo that borders on spastic precision.

Monk's Music is a 1957 album by Thelonious Monk's jazz septet. It was recorded in New York on June 26, 1957. The first song "Abide With Me"—a hymn by W. H. Monk—is an austere rendition played only by the septet's horn section. The song "Ruby, My Dear" is performed only by Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Wilbur Ware, and Art Blakey. John Coltrane had joined Monk after a spell with the Miles Davis Quintet, and this is Coltrane's only studio recording with Monk, who can be heard enthusiastically calling on him to take the first solo on the album in "Well, You Needn't" (though Coltrane's name does not appear on the front cover). All of the songs except one are original compositions by Thelonious Monk, but some had appeared on previous albums by Monk. The album was reissued by the Original Jazz Classics label on July 1, 1991.
The two mixes of this album (stereo and mono) are notable in that they used entirely different setups of microphones, recording the same performances. The stereo mix was recorded using mics at a greater distance from the band, and therefore has a distinctly different sound from the mono mix.


          TINA BROOKS
             True Blue

             Recording Date:
                June 25, 1960

                Freddie Hubbard  TP
                Tina Brooks         TS
                Duke Jordan        P
                Sam Jones           B
                Art Taylor            D


Review by Scott Yanow
Although a four-LP Mosaic box set purportedly includes every recording led by the obscure but talented tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks, this 1994 CD has previously unreleased alternate takes of "True Blue" and "Good Old Soul" that Mosaic overlooked. Brooks is teamed with the young trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (on one of his earliest sessions), pianist Duke Jordan, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Art Taylor for a set dominated by Brooks' originals. None of the themes may be all that memorable ("Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You" comes the closest), but the hard bop solos are consistently excellent.


         JIMMY  HEATH
      Time and the Place
           Recording Date:
              June 24, 1974

              Stanley Cowell    P
              Curtis Fuller      TB,Vo
              J.Heath   FL,AS,SS,TS
              Billy Higgins      D
              Sam Jones        B
              Pat Martino       G
              Mtume Conga,   P

Review by Scott Yanow
Although this 1994 CD looks like a reissue, the music was actually released for the first time 20 years after it was recorded. Jimmy Heath, who is heard here on tenor, alto, soprano and flute, played at his prime throughout the 1970's although he tended to be somewhat overlooked in popularity polls. Heath was stretching himself during the era as can be heard on these obscure pieces; five of his originals plus Kenny Dorham's "No End." Although essentially bop-based, Heath was open to the influences of the avant-garde and fusion and, with a flexible group also including trombonist Curtis Fuller, guitarist Pat Martino, pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Sam Jones, drummer Billy Higgins and percussionist Mtume, Jimmy Heath consistently takes adventurous yet logical solos. Worth checking out.


        Hot Five session

        Recording Date:
            June 23, 1926

             Louie Armstrong   CT,Vo
             Kid Ory                TB
            Johnny Dodds        CL
            Johnny St. Cyr       BJ
            Clarence Babcock  Vo
            Lil Armstrong         P


Review by Scott Yanow
To say that the performances on this CD (plus the ones on volumes two through four) are classic would be an extreme understatement. With these first 16 recordings by Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, the trumpeter revolutionized jazz, changing it from an ensemble-oriented music into an art form dominated by virtuoso soloists. The most powerful jazz improviser of the 1920s, Louis Armstrong's beautiful tone, his sense of swing (which set the stage for the big band era), and his chance-taking yet melodic improvisations amazed his contemporaries and permanently altered the future of jazz. With clarinetist Johnny Dodds (the pacesetter on his instrument), trombonist Kid Ory, pianist Lil Armstrong, and banjoist Johnny St. Cyr all making strong contributions, the music is consistently memorable and innovative.
King Of The Zulus (Hardin, Lil) [master 9776-A] -- OKeh 8396
Big Fat Ma And Skinny Pa (Jones, R.M.) [master 9777-A] -- OKeh 8379
Lonesome Blues (Hardin, Lil) [master 9778-A] -- OKeh 8396
Sweet Little Papa (Ory, Edward) [master 9779-A] -- OKeh 8379


       Town Hall - NYC

           Recording Date:
                June 22, 1945

               Dizzy Gillespie TP
               Charlie Parker  AS
               Don Byas          TS
               Al Haig             P
               Curly Russell     B
               Max Roach        D tk1-5
               Sid Catlett        D tk6-7



Review by Thom Jurek
This dodgy Italian import contains a Town Hall concert from 1945 by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Al Haig, and Red Callender. It features the introduction as well as eight tracks. The "bonus tracks" come from other concerts at the famed venue with different ensembles, some of them led by Gillsespie with Big Sid Catlett on drums, Milt Jackson on vibes, and a host of others. The sound quality is fair, never quite dodgy, but never quite good either.

1. Intro Uptown UPCD 27.51 
2. Bebop - 
3. A Night In Tunisia - 
4. Groovin' High - 
5. Salt Peanuts - 
6. Hot House - 
7. 52nd Street Theme - 


                 JOE PASS
Portraits of Duke Ellington

                     Recording Date:
                         June 21, 1974

                         Ray Brown        B
                         Bobby Durham  D
                         Joe Pass           G


Reviewby Scott Yanow
Recorded just a month after Duke Ellington's death, this tribute album (reissued on CD) features guitarist Joe Pass (just beginning to become famous), bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Bobby Durham jamming on eight Ellington tunes and "Caravan" (which was penned by one of Duke's key sidemen, Juan Tizol). The interplay between the three musicians is quite impressive, and Pass' mastery of the guitar is obvious (he didn't really need the other sidemen). Highlights include "In a Mellow Tone," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)." Recommended.



                Recording Date:
                     April 11, 1962  tk3
                        June 19, 1962 tk1-2
                        June 20, 1962 tk5

                        June 21, 1962 tk4
                   John Coltrane    SS,TS
                   McCoy Tyner      P
                   Jimmy Garrison  B
                   Elvin Jones        D


Review by Michael G. Nastos
A recording many consider his finest single album, and rightly so, John Coltrane displays all of the exciting elements that sparked brilliance and allowed his fully formed instrumental voice to shine through in the most illuminating manner. On tenor saxophone he's simply masterful, offering the burgeoning sheets of sound philosophy only he perfected into endless weavings of melodic and tuneful displays of inventive, thoughtful, driven phrases. Coltrane plays a bit of soprano saxophone as a primer for his more exploratory work to follow. Remember this is 1962, at a time when he was rethinking his style vis a vis the work he did influenced by Ornette Coleman, and only five years prior to his passing. Of course bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones, and especially the stellar McCoy Tyner have integrated their passionate dynamics into the inner whole of the quartet. The result is a most focused effort, a relatively popular session to both his fans or latecomers, and five selections where it is difficult to nit-pick because they are so brilliantly conceived and rendered. "Out of This World," at over 14 minutes in modal trim, is a powerful statement, stretched over Tyner's marvelous and deft chords, the churning rhythms conjured by Jones, and the vocal style Coltrane utilizes as he circles the wagons on this classic melody, including a nifty key change. "Tunji" is a mysterious, easily rendered piece in 4/4 which speaks to the spiritual path Coltrane tred, a bit riled up at times while Tyner remains serene. Hard bop is still in the back of their collective minds during "Miles' Mode," a sliver of a melody that jumps into jam mode in a free-for-all blowing session, while the converse is to be found in Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," the quintessential ballad and impressive here for the way Coltrane's holds notes, emotion, and expressive intellectuality. On soprano you can tell Coltrane is close to taking complete control of his newly found voicings, as a playful, jaunty "The Inch Worm" in 3/4 time is only slightly strained but in which he finds complete communion with the others. Even more than any platitudes one can heap on this extraordinary recording, it historically falls between the albums Olé Coltrane and Impressions — completing a triad of studio efforts that are as definitive as anything Coltrane ever produced, and highly representative of him in his prime.


           GEORGE CABLES
        Senorita de Aranjuez

                 Recording Date:
                      June 19, 2001

                     George Cables   P 
                     George Mraz     B 
                     Victor Lewis      D  



by Judith Schlesinger
George Cables is a very strong player with an impressive sideman pedigree that includes time with Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, and Freddie Hubbard. He's also released about a dozen solid CDs as a leader. As such, this one is surprisingly tame. There are some intriguing inventions, such as "Senorita de Aranjuez," Cables' droll, understated tango, and the "Killer Joe" vamp in "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," but more often these three excellent musicians seem less than fully challenged by the material. Erik Satie's light classical piece Gymnopedie No. 1, first brought to popular attention 30 years ago by Blood, Sweat & Tears, gets a mild and pretty treatment, as does "Unchained Melody," another tune that offers little in the way of complexity. "It's Impossible," from roughly the same era, has a similar problem of pop vacuity; although speeding up and skewing the tempo adds some liveliness, even the fine drummer Victor Lewis can't do much with his turn on this one. George Mraz, a bassist of singular melodic gifts, begins "The Summer Knows" beautifully, but even he can't keep it aloft. The trio really cooks on the opener and "All the Things You Are," and Cables and Mraz stretch out nicely on "Black Orpheus," but otherwise there's more desert than oasis. Not anyone's best CD.



                     JOE LOVANO
               Tenor Legacy
                 Recording Date: 
                     June 18, 1993

                     Don Alias             Per 
                    Joe Lovano           TS
                    Christian McBride   B 
                    Mulgrew Miller       P
                    Lewis Nash            D 
                    Joshua Redman     TS


Review by Scott Yanow
Joe Lovano welcomes Joshua Redman to his sextet set (which also features pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash and percussionist Don Alias) and, rather than jam on standards, Joe Lovano composed five new originals, revived three obscurities and only chose to perform two familiar pieces. By varying the styles and instrumentation (for example "Bread and Wine" does not have piano or bass), Lovano has created a set with a great deal of variety and some surprising moments. The two tenors (who have distinctive sounds) work together fine and some chances are taken. This matchup works well.


            Empyrean Isles

                 Recording Date: 
                     June 17, 1964

                     Ron Carter           B
                     Herbie Hancock    P 
                     Freddie Hubbard  CT,FG 
                     Tony Williams      D


Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
My Point of View and Inventions and Dimensions found Herbie Hancock exploring the fringes of hard bop, working with a big band and a Latin-flavored percussion section, respectively. On Empyrean Isles, he returns to hard bop, but the results are anything but conventional. Working with cornetist Freddie Hubbard, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams — a trio just as young and adventurous as he was — Hancock pushes at the borders of hard bop, finding a brilliantly evocative balance between traditional bop, soul-injected grooves, and experimental, post-modal jazz. Hancock's four original concepts are loosely based on the myths of the Empyrean Isles, and they are designed to push the limits of the band and of hard bop. Even "Cantaloupe Island," well-known for its funky piano riff, takes chances and doesn't just ride the groove. "The Egg," with its minimal melody and extended solo improvisations, is the riskiest number on the record, but it works because each musician spins inventive, challenging solos that defy convention. In comparison, "One Finger Snap" and "Oliloqui Valley" (alternate takes of both tracks are included as bonuses on the CD reissue) adhere to hard bop conventions, but each song finds the quartet vigorously searching for new sonic territory with convincing fire. That passion informs all of Empyrean Isles, a record that officially established Hancock as a major artist in his own right.


            Hot Five session

                Recording Date:
                     June 15, 1926

                     Louie Armstrong  CT,Vo
                     Kid Ory                TB
                     Johnny Dodds       CL
                     Johnny St. Cyr      BJ

Don't Forget To Mess Around (Barbarin, P.; Armstrong, Louis) [master 9729-A] -- OKeh 8343
I'm Gonna Gitcha (Hardin, Lil) [master 9730-A] -- OKeh 8343
Droppin' Shucks (Hardin, Lil) [master 9731-A] -- OKeh 8357
Who'sit (Jones) [master 9732-A] -- OKeh 8357

Review by Scott Yanow
To say that the performances on this CD (plus the ones on volumes two through four) are classic would be an extreme understatement. With these first 16 recordings by Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, the trumpeter revolutionized jazz, changing it from an ensemble-oriented music into an art form dominated by virtuoso soloists. The most powerful jazz improviser of the 1920s, Louis Armstrong's beautiful tone, his sense of swing (which set the stage for the big band era), and his chance-taking yet melodic improvisations amazed his contemporaries and permanently altered the future of jazz. With clarinetist Johnny Dodds (the pacesetter on his instrument), trombonist Kid Ory, pianist Lil Armstrong, and banjoist Johnny St. Cyr all making strong contributions, the music is consistently memorable and innovative.


                       SUN RA
            Gods on Safari

            The Cellar Cafe, NYC
                  June 15, 1964

                  Sun Ra                  P,CS
                  Al Evans               TP,FG
                  Chris Capers         TP
                  Teddy Nance         TB
                  Bernard Pettaway  TB
                  Robert Northern     FH
                  Marshall Allen        AS,FL
                  Pharoah Sanders    T

                  Danny Davis            AS,FG

Robert Cummings BCL
Pat Patrick           BS
Black Harold         FL
Alan Silva              B
Clifford Jarvis       D
Art Jenkins - space voice


Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Black Harold is a jazz album by Sun Ra, recorded live in 1964, but not released until 1976, on Ra and Alton Abraham's El Saturn label. The record documents the earliest known recorded performance of "The Shadow World" (here reverse-named as "The World Shadow"), a complex structured piece which was to feature on several of Ra's better known records of subsequent years, notably The Magic City.

It is an unusual item in the Ra discography, because tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders replaces John Gilmore, a mainstay of the Arkestra for most of its existence; at the time, he was working in other contexts, with the pianists Paul Bley and Andrew Hill, and drummer Art Blakey.[1] Before releasing the recording, Sun Ra said "It should be very interesting to the world to show what the pre-Coltrane Pharoah Sanders was like" [2]  Also featured is the obscure flautist, Black Harold (Harold Murray) [3], who takes a solo, vocalising through his flute, Rashaan Roland Kirk-style, on 'The Voice of Pan' (continuing into 'Dawn over Israel.')
Despite being Sanders' only recording with Sun Ra, he is not a major presence, taking only one solo on the first track. Ra himself plays several short piano solos and introductions. Alan Silva also has a brief bass solo, and alto saxophonist Marshall Allen provides his customary fireworks. The music is mostly in the experimental, free-jazz mould, and though not quite as radical and challenging as 'The Magic City', it is mostly dense and uncompromising (though that is not to say there is no variety - there are plenty of quiet interludes as well).

The recording is criticised by Pierro Scaruffi, who writes: "[During the 60s, Ra's] albums became more irrational and experimental. Strange Strings (1966)...was still accessible compared with Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Black Harold (June 1964), released in 1976, whose The Voice of Pan and Dawn Over Israel were childish orgies of random sounds."[4] Sean Westergaard's review on allmusic.com similarly describes it as "more of a curio than a great listening experinece, and probably best left for the Ra and Pharoah Sanders completists." [5]


             WAYNE SHORTER
                   Recording Date:
                       June 14, 1965

                      Joe Chambers     D 
                      Herbie Hancock   P 
                      Cecil McBee        B 
                      Wayne Shorter    TS


Review by Stacia Proefrock
Recorded in 1965 but not released until 1980, Et Cetera holds its own against the flurry of albums Wayne Shorter released during the mid-'60s, a time when he was at the peak of his powers. It is hard to imagine why Blue Note might have chosen to shelve the album, as it shows Shorter in a very favorable light with an incredibly responsive rhythm section performing four of his originals and a cover of Gil Evans' "Barracudas." The low-key nature of the album as a whole, especially the title track, might have contributed to Blue Note's lack of attention, but there are definitely gems here, especially the closing track, "Indian Song." At times the rest of the album seems like a warm-up for that amazing tune, where Shorter swirls around in a hypnotizing dance with Herbie Hancock's piano, grounded by the nocturnal bass of Cecil McBee and the airy structure of Joe Chambers' drumming. The short, repetitive themes and passionate, soulful playing echo John Coltrane, but this quartet has its own flavor, and the perfect, intricate web they weave here helps pull the whole session up to a higher level.


                       ART BLAKEY
          Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers
                Recording Date:
                    June 13, 1961 tk 3,5
                    June 14, 1961 tk 1,2,4,6

                     Art Blakey              D
                     Curtis Fuller           TB 
                     Jymie Merritt         B
                     Lee Morgan            TP 
                     Wayne Shorter       TS
                     Robert H. Timmons P  


Review by Steven McDonald
An absolutely wonderful 1961 set from Blakey and company, who demonstrate here how to be note-perfect without leeching away the emotion of a performance. Aside from Blakey's divine drum work, the standouts include Jaymie Merritt's trippy bass fingerwork, and Wayne Shorter blowing his heart out on tenor sax. Beautifully remastered, well worth having in this edition.


                   SONNY ROLLINS
               The Sound of Sonny
                    Recording Date: 
                       June 11-12, 1957 tk 1-7
                       June 19, 1957 tk 8-10

                         Sonny Rollins    TS 
                         Percy Heath      B
                         Sonny Clark       P
                         Bob Cranshaw    B
                         Roy Haynes        D
                         Paul Chambers   B tk 8-10


Review by Lindsay Planer
A new phase in Sonny Rollins' career began in 1957. He started what was at the time an almost blasphemous trend of recording for a number of different labels. His pioneering spirit yielded a few genre-defining albums, including this disc. His performances were also at a peak during 1957 as Down Beat magazine proclaimed him the Critics' Poll winner under the category of "New Star" of the tenor saxophone. This newfound freedom can be heard throughout the innovations on The Sound of Sonny. Not only are Rollins' fluid solos reaching newly obtained zeniths of melodic brilliance, but he has also begun experimenting with alterations in the personnel from tune to tune. Most evident on this platter is "The Last Time I Saw Paris" — which is piano-less — and most stunning of all is Rollins' unaccompanied tenor solo performance on "It Could Happen to You." Indeed, this rendering of the Jimmy Van Heusen standard is the highlight of the disc. That isn't to say that the interaction between Sonny Clark (piano), Roy Haynes (drums), and bassists Percy Heath and Paul Chambers — who is featured on "The Last Time I Saw Paris" and "What Is There to Say" — is not top-shelf. Arguably, it is Rollins and Heath — the latter, incidentally, makes his East Coast debut on this album — who set the ambience for The Sound of Sonny. There is an instinctually pervasive nature as they weave into and back out of each others' melody lines, only to emerge with a solo that liberates the structure of the mostly pop standards. This is a key component in understanding the multiplicities beginning to surface in Rollins' highly underappreciated smooth bop style.


              LENNIE TRISTANO
        Featuring Lee Konitz

             New York, Sing Song Room
                  June 11, 1955 tk 9-11

                  Lennie Tristano  P
                  Lee Konitz:        AS
                  Gene Ramey:     B
                  Art Taylor:         D

             1960-62, New York  tk 1-8
                  Lennie Tristano   P 


One of several Lennie Tristano retrospectives issued in 1998 by the Giants of Jazz label, this compilation is somewhat misleadingly subtitled "Featuring Lee Konitz." To be sure, alto saxophonist Konitz is heard in live performance with Tristano, bassist Gene Ramey and drummer Art Taylor in the cozy confines of the Sing Song Room deep within the Confucius Restaurant in New York on June 11, 1955. But this material only occupies the last three tracks, which amount to 21 out of 60 minutes of jazz. The rest of the music heard here -- tracks one through eight -- are piano solos recorded at Tristano's home studio (located at "317 East 32nd") during a time period extending from 1960 to 1962. The quartet recordings are as magnificent as the solo works are fascinating. This wonderful music improves with age, and one suspects that it will sound even better in the distant future. Listeners who fall in love with these sounds may wish to obtain more Lennie Tristano recordings. Some will need to hear them all and then will wish for more.