Recording Date:
                   December 31, 1970

                 José  Areas        G,Per
                 Ndugu Chancler   D,Per
                  Herbie Hancock P
                  Billy Hart           D,Per
                  Eddie Henderson TP,FG

                  Bennie Maupin   CL,FL
                  Ronnie Montrose G
                  Julian Priester     TB
                  Buster Williams   B,Per 


Review by Richard S. Ginell
With the formation of his great electric sextet, Herbie Hancock's music took off into outer and inner space, starting with the landmark Mwandishi album recorded in a single session on New Year's Eve. Ever the gadgeteer, Herbie plays with electronic effects devices — reverb units, stereo tremelo, and Echoplex — which all lead his music into spacier, open-ended directions very much influenced by Miles Davis' electric experiments, rendering it from post-bop conventions. There are just three tracks: the insistent 15/4-meter Afro-electric-funk workout "Ostinato (Suite for Angela)," the inquisitive "You'll Know When You Get There" with its ethereal Hancock voicings, and trombonist Julian Priester's "Silent Way"-influenced "Wandering Spirit Song," which eventually dips into tumultuous free form. Eddie Henderson emerges as a major trumpet soloist here, probing, jabbing, soliloquizing; Bennie Maupin comes over from Lee Morgan's group to add his ominous bass clarinet and thoughtful alto flute; and Buster Williams' bass and Billy Hart's flexible drums propel the rhythm section. Santana's José Chepitó Areas and Leon "Ndugu" Chancler also add funky percussive reinforcement to "Ostinato," along with guitarist Ron Montrose. The group's collective empathy is remarkable, and Hancock had only begun to probe the outer limits with this extraordinary music.


              CHARLIE PARKER
          Now's the Time session

                   Recording Date:
                        December 30, 1952

                        Charlie Parker AS
                        Hank Jones     P
                        Teddy Kotick   B
                        Max Roach      D


Review by Robert Taylor
Now's the Time captures Charlie Parker during one of his peak recording periods. The personnel of Hank Jones, Al Haig, Percy Heath, Teddy Kotick, and Max Roach all contribute immeasurably to this classic session. There are numerous outtakes, which offers a fascinating analysis of Parker's improvisations, as well as classics such as "Song Is You," "Laird Baird," "Kim," and "Now's the Time." What makes this session extra special is the excellent recording quality that too many of his early recordings, brilliant as they are, suffered from. Hearing the clarity of each player contributes to one of bebop's best sessions. This is essential music.


              ASTRAL PROJECT
                  Voodoo Bop
                 Recording Date:
                     December 28-30, 1998

                   Tony Dagradi      SS,TS 
                   Steve Masakowski    G 
                   James Singleton       B 
                   David Torkanowsky  O,P
                   Johnny Vidacovich   Per


Review by Michael G. Nastos
For their third CD, Astral Project stretch compositional boundaries. This set of originals is again split between the membership; James Singleton with two, Steve Masakowski with three, Tony Dagradi with four. John Vidacovich writes one and sings an emotionally affected version of "Old Folks." Unmistakably modern jazz, the quintet also explores hard funk, cool and spooky or loose and swinging neo-bop, rambling free style, lugubrious ballads, and more.
The opening title track mixes hard swing and New Orleans funk in a perfect 50/50 blend. There's ultimate dramatism in "Smoke and Mirrors," gospel intonations during "Protecting Circle," and a heady progression of Irish chamber-space guitar-free improvisation-cascading piano-Irish chamber musics on "The Queen Is Slave to No Man," truly a stunner. Most selections are saxophone driven, Dagradi is even more extroverted than on earlier recordings. He's breaking out of a 'Trane-Michael Brecker derived sound, and seems bent on shattering those notions. Reveling in this diverse musical gumbo, drummer Vidacovich plays possessed, dynamic, precise rhythms. If there's a difference between this and the outstanding previous CD Elevado, these compositions may be a bit less tuneful, more challenging, but no less exciting. The diversity within their identity is as startling as the brilliant musicianship. This ensemble seems to take a more experimental approach with every passing year. They're restless, not willing to stand on their lofty laurels. And they may suffer slightly in stark tempo changes from cut to cut on Voodoo Bop. Nonetheless, this is another triumph from a truly extraordinary group. Highly recommended, for both fans and the uninitiated.


           JOE LOVANO
          From the Soul
             Recording Date: 
                 December 28, 1991

                Ed Blackwell         D 
                Dave Holland        B    
                Joe Lovano   AS,SS,TS
                Michel Petrucciani  P 


Review by Ron Wynn
Joe Lovano heads a lineup with pianist Michel Petrucciani, bassist Dave Holland, and late drummer Ed Blackwell. It's hard-edged, explosive playing all around, with Blackwell laying down his patented bombs while Petrucciani and Holland converge behind Lovano's dynamic solos.


  Concord Duo Series v3

         Recording Date:
               December 1992

              Howard Alden  G
              Ken Peplowski CL,TS


Reviewby Ken Dryden
Clarinetist Ken Peplowski and guitarist Howard Alden have a rare musical E.S.P. that enables them to weave intricate lines around each other as they soar through a great mix of overlooked standards and older jazz works on this live date. Peplowski's lyricism is stimulated by Alden's seemingly endless variations on "Blue Room," and the duo transforms "In the Dark" from a piano solo into an impressionist suite for their two instruments. But it is the spirited version of "Chasin' the Bird," complete with Peplowski's whimsical pun-filled introduction, that displays the depth of their playing. There is no loss of momentum when Peplowski switches to tenor sax. His vibrato-filled approach to "Changes" is reminiscent of Coleman Hawkins, while "S'posin'" highlights Alden's imaginative lines. The guitarist winds up the concert with stride-like guitar on "Just One of Those Things," which drives his partner's clarinet to a sizzling climax.

This review is from: Concord Duo Series Vol 3 (Audio CD)
Take Ken Peplowski, the best jazz clarinetist playing today; hook him up with Howard Alden, a masterful guitarist; give them a set of songs ranging from Jelly Roll Morton's "Why," to Lennie Tristano's "Two Not One," from Bix Beiderbecke's, "In the Dark," to Charlie Parker's "Chasin' the Bird;" put 'em in the Maybeck Recital Hall, (a redwood-lined performance space that barely seated 50 enthralled jazz lovers); and what do you get? You get this album!  Albums like this are the reason that record companies go to the trouble of recording live music. The musicians are "simpatico;" the playing is uniformly inventive and technically excellent; the song selection nigh on perfect; Messrs Peplowski and Alden and the audience have a great time; and the sonics, (courtesy of Concord's field recording team), are excellent. What's not to like? And hey, you just can't have too many clarinet/guitar duos in your CD collection.


               JOHN COLTRANE
       Bahia/Stardust date

              Recording Date:
                 December 26, 1958

                 Freddie Hubbard    TP
                 John Coltrane        TS
                 Red Garland           P
                 Paul Chambers       B
                 Art Taylor              D


Review by Scott Yanow
Bahia is two-LP set that matches together the very different sounding tenors of John Coltrane and Paul Quinichette in a jam-session type setting from 1957 (although three of the five songs were actually composed by pianist Mal Waldron) in addition to Coltrane's final Prestige date, which also has appearances by the trumpeters Freddie Hubbard (on "Then I'll Be Tired of You") and an uncredited Wilbur Harden ("Something I Dreamed Last Night"). This is nice if not overly memorable music.


                 MERRY CHRISTMAS

                         Christmas Jazz

                          Jimmy Smith
                          Miles Davis
                          Chet Baker
                          Roy Milton
                          Charlie Parker
                          Joe Lovano
                          Frank Sinatra
                          Red Garland
                          Steve Allen
                          Jimmy McGriff
                          Raymond Scott
                          Duke Ellington
                          Richard Galliano



 Mingus at the Bohemia
         Recording Date: 
             December 23, 1955

            George Barrow   TS 
            Eddie Bert          TB 
            Willie Jones        D
            Charles Mingus   B 
            Max Roach         D 
            Mal Waldron       P 


Review by Michael Katz
A live performance at the Club Bohemia in New York, this is the first Mingus recording to feature mostly his own compositions. Some are his future standards. Here are his first attempts at future techniques such as combining two songs into one. His bass playing really stands out.


            LESTER YOUNG
            Cafe Bohemia

            Recording Date:
              December 15, 1956   tk 4-6
              December 22, 1956   tk 7-9

               Idrees Sulieman  TP  tk 4-6,8
               Lester Young      TS
               Sinclair Raney     P
               Gene Ramey       B
               Willie Jones        D

          LINK [fixed]

4. Lester Leaps In (Young) 3:13
5. These Foolish Things (Morrell-Strachey-Link) 3:38
6. Three Little Words (Kalmar-Ruby) 4:41
7. Pennies From Heaven (Johnston-Burke) 3:02
8. Polka Dots And Moonbeams (Burke-Van Heusen) 3:44
9. Indiana (Hanley-MacDonald) 4:01


        LEE MORGAN
       The Sidewinder
        Recording Date:
             December 21, 1963

             Bob Cranshaw   B 
             Barry Harris       P 
            Joe Henderson   TS 
             Billy Higgins      D 
             Lee Morgan      TP 


Review by Stacia Proefrock
Carried by its almost impossibly infectious eponymous opening track, The Sidewinder helped foreshadow the sounds of boogaloo and soul-jazz with its healthy R&B influence and Latin tinge. While the rest of the album retreats to a more conventional hard bop sound, Morgan's compositions are forward-thinking and universally solid. Only 25 at the time of its release, Morgan was accomplished (and perhaps cocky) enough to speak of mentoring the great Joe Henderson, who at 26 was just beginning to play dates with Blue Note after getting out of the military. Henderson makes a major contribution to the album, especially on "Totem Pole," where his solos showed off his singular style, threatening to upstage Morgan, who is also fairly impressive here. Barry Harris, Bob Cranshaw, and Billy Higgins are all in good form throughout the album as well, and the group works together seamlessly to create an album that crackles with energy while maintaining a stylish flow.


              CHARLIE PARKER
        Machito and His Orchestra

           Recording Date:
              December 20, 1948 tk 1-2
              December 21, 1950 tk 3

              Charlie Parker     AS
              Mario Bauza        TP
              Paquito Davilla    TP
              Bob Woodlen       TP
              Gene Johnson      AS
              Fred Skerritt        AS
              Jose Madera        TS

Leslie Johnakins   VB
Rene Hernandez   P
Roberto Rodriguez B
Luis Miranda         CG
Jose Mangual        BG
Ubaldo Nieto        Tim
Machito                Arr


Review by Steve Coleman
So Mingus considered Parker a composer, a spontaneous composer, and it is apparent from this quote that Bird had the ability to improvise on a variety of structures. We can only imagine what progress would have been made in the area of orchestra music had the great spontaneous composers been given access to the symphony orchestra with all of the colors it presents. However, Bird's melodic structures on this recording of "Mango Mangue" are not really out of the ordinary�for him at least. It is because of the timing and rhythmic sophistication of Parker and the accompanying musicians that I picked this example.
At 0:46 the bongos execute a beautiful rhythmic voice-leading passage (started by the congas), beginning with a setup on the third beat; and then, starting on the following third beat, playing 2 identical patterns that are each contained in 4-beat lengths; then again, starting on the following third beat, playing 2 identical patterns that are each contained in 3-beat lengths. This has the effect of shifting the start of the phrases from the third beat to the second beat, and leading to the first beat at the beginning of Bird's solo. Again this is a demonstration of establishing a pattern, then altering it to rhythmically to voice-lead towards specific target point in time, to either set up another event or to terminate a process.
The shifting diminished harmonies of the saxophones are beautiful, not often heard in American popular music at that time, and it is uncanny how Bird's phrases fit perfectly melodically with the shifting textures from about 1:05 to 1:19 of the song. But what really turned me on to this song is the call-and-response montuno section at 2:11 and how Bird's spontaneous rhythms mesh perfectly with the Cuban players. Passages like this made me realize how often Parker's playing contained clave-like rhythmic patterns, a clear example of African retention.
Based on this musical evidence, I believe that Parker played a larger role in integrating these two musical cultures than he is usually given credit for. Bird is usually given a minor mention when historians talk about the merging of African-American and Afro-Cuban music. However, Machito and Mario Bauzo paint a different picture. Machito has said that Parker was involved with his orchestra of Cuban musicians long before Norman Granz suggested making the recordings in 1948, and even before they met Parker, Machito and Mario Bauz knew of Bird's music, and Bird knew of their music. Machito declared with modesty, "Charlie Parker was a genius, I was nothing compared to him." I also read where Bauzo remarked in an interview that Parker's rhythmic improvisations fit naturally with the rhythms that the Cuban musicians were playing at that time, and that Bird was one of the only musicians from America whose rhythms fit well with theirs. By the way, in this performance Machito's rhythm section is killin'!


                  MILES DAVIS
         Cellar Door Sessions

            Recording Date: 
                December 16-19, 1970

                Gary Bartz           AS,SS
                Miles Davis            TP 
                Jack DeJohnette     D
                Michael Henderson  B
                Keith Jarrett           K
               John McLaughlin      G


Review by Thom Jurek
When Miles Davis released Live-Evil in 1970, fans were immediately either taken aback or keenly attracted to its raw abstraction. It was intense and meandering at the same time; it was angular, edgy, and full of sharp teeth and open spaces that were never resolved. Listening to the last two CDs of The Cellar Door Sessions 1970, Sony's massive six-disc box set that documents six of the ten dates Davis and his band recorded during their four-day engagement at the fabled club, is a revelation now. The reason: it explains much of Live-Evil's live material with John McLaughlin.
These discs finally reveal the crackling energy and deep-groove conscience that Miles Davis was seeking in his electric phase. First and most startling is that John McLaughlin only appears on the final two discs. The first four discs feature a new lineup, one with Keith Jarrett who, in a first for Davis in the electric era, was the lone keyboardist after Chick Corea's departure. Airto Moreira and Jack DeJohnette are holdovers from the Live at the Fillmore East and Tribute to Jack Johnson sessions, among other concerts and sets that have appeared on many different records, from Big Fun to Get Up with It to Directions. The new players here include Gary Bartz on alto and soprano saxophone (he replaced Steve Grossman), and 19-year-old bassist Michael Henderson — fresh out of Stevie Wonder's band — replacing Dave Holland.
Davis was keen on having Columbia record his live sets, and pressured them to do so for these four nights, just a week before Christmas in 1970. This set is a solid look at what's in-the-can, since the vast majority of these tracks — three hours' worth of them — have never seen the light of day in any form. As Adam Holzman wonderfully states in his liner notes, this is truly the missing link between Bitches Brew and Dark Magus. This music reveals a truly muscular Miles Davis at the top of his form as an improviser and as a bandleader with the most intense and nearly mystical sense of the right place-the right time-the right lineup. These shows, played in a club instead of a concert hall, provided a virtual laboratory for possibilities Davis was exploring. The money for the gig was nearly non-existent compared to what he was used to making playing halls, so he paid the band out of his own pocket.
The music here fades in with Joe Zawinul's "Directions." There is a five-note bass figure that repeats almost constantly throughout, offering DeJohnette a solid bass from which to enhance the groove and dance around. From the beginning, Davis is blowing his ass off, soloing furiously in the middle register. Jarrett is filling the space, playing both a Rhodes and an organ at the same time. When Bartz begins to solo on soprano, the deep, funky groove is well-established, giving the musicians room to dig in and let loose. Jarrett's solo is like a spaced-out Sly Stone, offering back the groove and then building on it like a man possessed. He matches both DeJohnette and Henderson with a slippery, utterly rhythmic sense of pure groove and then moves them somewhere else until Davis brings them back.
Disc two opens with Jarrett, Henderson, and Airto locking horns in a ferocious groove on "What I Say" that has the members of the audience showing their appreciation with shouts of "Yeah!" and "Blow!" and "You Go!" Jarrett's solo at the beginning is unlike anything he has ever played — before or since. As they move through the set and get to "Inamorata," the gate to heaven and hell is wide open. The spaced-out blues in "Honky Tonk" reveals Davis' total mastery of the wah wah he employed in so much of his material of the time. "Inamorata" is wildly funky, dirty, and outright nasty in places. But the middle sections offer, as Bartz notes in his liner essay, the kinds of vocalese concepts that are reflected in his solo, Davis' solo, and in the actual voices of Airto and Henderson.
What happens as the band plays each night is that the sense of adventure grows, while the utter relaxation and confidence in each member is carried through to Davis who pushes the buttons and in strange, nearly wordless ways, communicates what he wants on-stage, and the other players give it to him. There are so few rough moments here where someone drops a line or doesn't quite make it; when it does happen on that rare occasion, some other member picks it up and goes with it. And DeJohnette's drumming, in his virtual mind-lock with Henderson, is some of the best playing of his career.
The final surprise is when McLaughlin joins the band for the final two discs — he came down on Saturday night after an invitation from Davis and had not rehearsed with the group at all. The first set is not here, so who knows what transpired, or how the band got comfortable with McLaughlin. But the final two sets are here, and what transpires is revelatory because one can hear what was missing on Live-Evil: melody. Teo Macero and Davis edited the melodies out for that release. The intensity begins quickly with "Directions" on disc five. Henderson is a bit tentative at first, but Jarrett eggs him on and soon enough he responds with a vengeance. Bartz carries the wave in his solo, and Airto is singing the groove in the back. McLaughlin fills the backdrop with big, ugly chordal figures until it's time for his solo, and then he simply goes for it, digging into that bassline and DeJohnette's circular groove and he just throws notes at them, gunshot-like in the cut, and then moves out enough to carry it all somewhere else. "Honky Tonk" meanders a bit, but when "What I Say" shows up it's all aggression, hard-edged dare, and daunt. It's almost a challenge to the audience because the playing is so fast and raw.
Ultimately, on disc six, recorded in the third set later that evening, again it's "Directions" that gets the nod, but this time, in spite of the trance-like bassline in the tune and Davis' driving, whirlwind playing, Jarrett gets it spacey, sinister, dark, and strange. Bartz's solo comes from the blues and is in stark contrast to Davis', but when McLaughlin takes his cue, it's all knots and folds, razor-sharp and driven, torn between fun and free improvisation. The tension is killer; Bartz's storm of grace and rage in his solo, coming immediately before, throws McLaughlin off for a bit at the beginning of his own solo on "Inamorata," but he finds a place to walk the razor's edge and does just that. The box closes with a fine, freaky version of "It's About That Time," where Bartz goes back to the blues and Davis sinks into the melody of the tune and quiets everything to a hush, slowing it way, way down to a whispering finish.
The Cellar Door Sessions set is like a combination of the Tribute to Jack Johnson set and the complete It's About That Time disc, with a watershed of information providing a complete bridge from one phase of that exploratory period in Davis' career to another. As Jarrett observes in his liner essay (each bandmember has one) after this date, Davis never played with a group as musically sophisticated again. And for all the ego displayed in stating this, one may tend to agree with him. Lavishly packaged and annotated, The Cellar Door Sessions is the last great reissue of the year 2005, and an essential testament to the genius Davis displayed in weaving together exploratory jazz, funk, and rock.


         FATS  NAVARRO
        Recording Date:
          December 5, 1947  tk1-4 
          December 22, 1947 tk 5-8
            December 18-20,1946 tk 9-12
              Fats Navarro    TP
              Charlie Rouse   TS
              Tadd Dameron  P
              Nelson Boyd      B
              Art Blakey         D

              Dexter Gordon  TS tk 5-8

Eddie Davis       TS tk 9-12
Huey Long         G tk 9-12
Al Haig              P tk 9-12
Gene Ramey      B tk 9-12
Denzil Best        D tk 9-12


Review by Stephen Cook
Taken from three different, late-'40s sessions, Nostalgia features Navarro in the fine company of bebop stars like Dexter Gordon, Tadd Dameron, and Art Blakey. While looser sounding than the legendary sides the trumpeter cut for Blue Note, the tracks here still include the usual bevy of sharp Navarro solos, plus stellar contributions by all involved. The first session with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse (one of the earliest recordings of the future Monk sideman), Dameron, and Blakey, finds Navarro mixing poised and fluid solo work with more intense high-note statements, demonstrating his masterful blend of both Miles Davis' cool approach and Dizzy Gillespie's incendiary technique. The highlights continue with four more cuts from a Dexter Gordon-led session from 1947, which adheres to the brief head statement and round of solos mode used on the earlier cuts. Dameron returns on piano, nicely comping behind Gordon's already distinct solo work and more of Navarro's pearl-like horn lines (these numbers have also been released on various Gordon titles on Savoy). The disc ends with a date led by honking tenor man Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, which, while less intriguing than the other sessions, stills swings mightily with a mix of bebop and R&B flavored tunes. Nostalgia is worthy of any jazz collection and certainly is an essential title from the bebop era.


       Jazz Has a Sense of Humor
      Recording Date:
            December 17-18, 1998

            Jimmy Greene  SS,TS 
            Willie Jones III  D 
            Ryan Kisor        TP
            Horace Silver    P 
            John Webber    B 



Review by Michael G. Nastos
In this set of nine originals, the Horace Silver touch is clearly evident: happy, strong melodies; groovin' beats; Silver's deft, deliberate, bluesy piano comping and boppin' leads; and the joyful playing of saxophonist Jimmy Greene and trumpeter Ryan Kisor, which seems to be more intense in the context of Silver's unmistakable compositions. The CD's title is in reference to the album's content (and that the listener has to go along with Silver's adoration in a nonsexist way toward women). Some might be offended by the title "I Love Annie's Fanny," but it's just the name of a bouncy, mainstream jazz ditty that Silver is so well known for writing. There are some clichés that pop up in old Silver numbers that he seems to have rewritten. Phrases of "Cape Verdean Blues" creep into the urgent first movement of "The Mama Suite," and his typical groove waltz is extant in the opener "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and the closer "Where Do I Go From Here?" But his tunefully familiar, head-noddin' original funk is a vital as ever, and sounds pretty fresh compared to some of the trite neo-bop being reprocessed this past decade. Silver's light, spare, soulful style — particularly when he uses his left hand in tandem with John Webber's bass — is a sound for sore ears, one that has a universal, timeless appeal, crossing generational and commercial barriers. This is well-played music, a specialty Silver has envisioned and realized through the bulk of his career. Highly recommended.


                 IKE QUEBEC
     Blue and Sentimental
            Recording Date: 
               December 16, 1961
               December 23, 1961

               Paul Chambers   B
               Sonny Clark       P 
               Grant Green      G
               Louis Hayes       D 
               Philly Joe Jones D 
               Sam Jones         B 
               Ike Quebec        P,TS 


Review by Steve Huey
Ike Quebec's 1961-1962 comeback albums for Blue Note were all pretty rewarding, but Blue and Sentimental is his signature statement of the bunch, a superbly sensuous blend of lusty blues swagger and achingly romantic ballads. True, there's no shortage of that on Quebec's other Blue Note dates, but Blue and Sentimental is the most exquisitely perfected. Quebec was a master of mood and atmosphere, and the well-paced program here sustains his smoky, late-night magic with the greatest consistency of tone. Part of the reason is that Quebec's caressing tenor sound is given a sparer backing than usual, with no pianist among the quartet of guitarist Grant Green, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. It's no surprise that Green solos with tremendous taste and elegance (the two also teamed up on Green's similarly excellent Born to Be Blue), and there are plenty of open spaces in the ensemble for Quebec to shine through. His rendition of the Count Basie-associated title cut is a classic, and the other standard on the original LP, "Don't Take Your Love From Me," is in a similarly melancholy vein. Green contributes a classic-style blues in "Blues for Charlie," and Quebec's two originals, "Minor Impulse" and "Like," have more complex chord changes but swing low and easy. Through it all, Quebec remains the quintessential seducer, striking just the right balance between sophistication and earthiness, confidence and vulnerability, joy and longing. It's enough to make Blue and Sentimental a quiet, sorely underrated masterpiece. (The CD reissue adds three bonus cuts, all standards, which fit the program very nicely indeed.)


                     DON BYAS
       Tribute to Cannonball
               Recording Date:
                   December 15, 1961

                   Don Byas           TS
                   Kenny Clarke      D
                   Pierre Michelot   B
                   Bud Powell         P 
                   Idrees Sulieman  TP


Review by Scott Yanow
The title of this album is misleading for, although Cannonball Adderley produced the session, no "tribute" takes place. Adderley could always recognize talent and he was wise to get the veteran tenor Don Byas (who had not recorded since 1955) back on record. Teamed in Paris with trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, pianist Bud Powell, bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Kenny Clarke, Byas proved to be in prime form on a variety of jazz standards including "Just One of Those Things," "Cherokee" and "Jeannine." This set has also been reissued on CD under Bud Powell's name.


           Jazz at the
     College of the Pacific   

            Recording Date: 
                December 14, 1953

                Dave Brubeck P 
                Ron Crotty      B
                Paul Desmond AS 
                Joe Dodge      D 


Review by Scott Yanow
This CD brings back a near-classic (one of many from this period) by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Drummer Joe Dodge had just joined the group and he joins with bassist Ron Crotty in laying down a solid and subtle foundation. However the real action takes place up front with pianist Dave Brubeck and altoist Paul Desmond. Their individual solos are full of creative ideas on six standards (most memorable are "All The Things You Are," "Laura" and "I'll Never Smile Again") and their interaction and tradeoffs are timeless. Recommended.


           RED GARLAND
                 Dig It!
           Recording Date:
              December 13, 1957 tk 1,4

              February 7, 1985     tk 2,3

               Donald Byrd      TP
              John Coltrane    TS
              Red Garland       P
              George Joyner   B

              Art Taylor          D
              Paul Chambers   B tk 2,3
              Art Taylor          D tk 2,3


Pianist Red Garland is best known for his work in the 1950s with The Miles Davis Quintet, where he provided a rootsy foil for the trumpeter. But he was already established as a leader of trios and small groups. On this 1957 album for Prestige, the young John Coltrane and Donald Byrd, bassist George Joyner and drummer Arthur Taylor join Garland for a relaxed, fine set.Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce" starts things off, and Coltrane impatiently burns through a few choruses, pushing bop's limits. On the uptempo, "Crazy Rhythm" (with Paul Chambers on bass), Garland's clear bop lines are both woody and ringing. "Lazy Mae" is an extended, late night, blues meditation; Garland explores melodic block chords, and Coltrane delightfully stretches the boundaries.

Review by Michael G. Nastos
Taken from "scraps" or "leftovers" of three different sessions, Dig It! presents distinct sides of Red Garland's straight-ahead jazz persona that manifests in trio, quartet, and quintet formats. One track was issued as led by drummer Art Taylor (Taylor's Wailers), ostensibly John Coltrane in Garland's quartet apart from their association with Miles Davis, and two separate recordings have trumpeter Donald Byrd added to comprise a five-piece combo. Memphis bassist George Joyner (aka Jamil Nasser) is on three cuts, with Taylor present throughout. Though the total time is shy of 34 minutes, this recording represents all of these musicians in transition from their sideman associations to the leadership roles they were in the process of wresting hold of. What have always been Garland's strong suits — high-class discourse and fleet and fluid bebop — are heartily dished out with no trace of arrogance. On the swing-era standard "Crazy Rhythm," the Garland trio with bassist Paul Chambers and Taylor plays a concise, hard-charging version with no wasted motion and the two-fisted chord progressions of the pianist. Coltrane's feature during Jimmy Heath's hard bop icon "C.T.A." is a bit tentative, as he plays only eighth notes in a reserved fashion. But the quintet take of "Billie's Bounce" has Trane rippin' it up in a fervor that doubles the note volume, animated and fast, while also expressing a soulful side. Byrd is fairly inconsequential, only soloing on this and the 16-minute vintage blues "Lazy Mae." It's Garland who takes liberties on this slow, languorous, sleepy-time jam, where he evokes the classic sounds of Teddy Wilson, Earl "Fatha" Hines, and especially the elegant Erroll Garner for a full eight minutes, also quoting the pop tune "Send for Me" and the rambling staircase triplet midsection of "After Hours" before Coltrane and Byrd settle into their own bluesy solos. Because of the lack of extra material or alternate takes, one might buy this just for the good music, but also the Rudy Van Gelder remastering factor that allows you to hear these genius musicians cleaner and brighter.


             DEXTER GORDON
         Live at the Village Vanguard
             Recording Date: 
                 December 11-12, 1976

                Dexter Gordon   TS 
                Louis Hayes        D 
                Stafford James   B
                Ronnie Mathews  P 
                Woody Shaw  TP,FG,TS 


Review by Scott Yanow
The acclaim that met Dexter Gordon when he returned to the United States after 14 years in Europe was completely unexpected. Not only did the jazz critics praise the great tenor but there were literally lines of young fans waiting to see his performances. This double CD, recorded during his historic first American tour, improved on the original double LP with the inclusion of previously unreleased versions of "Fried Bananas" and "Body and Soul." Gordon in a quintet with trumpeter Woody Shaw, pianist Ronnie Mathews, bassist Stafford James and drummer Louis Hayes frequently sounds exuberant on these lengthy performances; all ten songs are at least 11 minutes long. The excitement of the period can definitely be felt in this excellent music.


           GENE HARRIS
             Alley Cats
               Recording Date 
                   December 11-12, 1998

                  Gene Harris      P
                  Frank Potenza   G

                  Luther Hughes   B
                  Paul Kreibich     D
                  Red Holloway    TS
                  Ernie Watts      AS,TS

                 Jack McDuff      O


Review by Alex Henderson
Too many artists have gone their entire careers without providing any live albums, but that hasn't been a problem for Gene Harris whose live recordings from the 1980s and 1990s ranged from unaccompanied solo piano to big-band dates. Arguably, the best live album he gave listeners in the 1990s was Alley Cats; recorded live at Jazz Alley in Seattle on December 11-12, 1998, this CD finds Harris' working quintet (Harris on piano, Frank Potenza on guitar, Luther Hughes on bass, and Paul Kreibich on drums) joined by such accomplished soloists as Red Holloway (tenor sax), Ernie Watts (alto and tenor sax), and Jack McDuff (organ). Many inspired moments occur, and a 65-year-old Harris really goes that extra mile on gems ranging from Nat Adderley's "Jive Samba" and Benny Golson's "Blues March" to Joe Sample's "Put It Where You Want It" (which, in the 1970s, was introduced by the Crusaders before being covered by the Average White Band). A talented but underexposed singer (underexposed in the 1990s, anyway) who has recorded R&B albums but is quite capable of handling jazz, Harris' daughter Niki Harris is featured on earthy performances of "You've Changed," "Please Send Me Someone to Love," and "Guess Who." McDuff, meanwhile, brings his gritty, down-home Hammond B-3 to two songs: Eddie Harris' "Listen Here" and Gene Harris' "Walkin' With Zach." Soul-jazz enthusiasts will definitely want this excellent CD.