MAY 31

            JOHN COLTRANE
          Coltrane [Prestige]

                Recording Date:
                    May 31, 1957

                    Paul Chambers   B 
                    John Coltrane    TS 
                    Red Garland       P 
                    Albert Heath      D 
                    Sahib Shihab      BS 
                    Johnny Splawn   TP 
                    Mal Waldron       P  


Review by Lindsay Planer
On his first session as a bandleader, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane is joined by Johnny Splawn on trumpet, Sahib Shihab on baritone sax, and a rhythm section of bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath with piano duties split between Mal Waldron and Red Garland. Right out of the gate, the propulsive syncopated beat that drives through the heart of Coltrane's fellow Philly denizen Calvin Massey's "Bakai" indicates that Coltrane and company are playing for keeps. Shihab's emphatic and repetitive drone provides a manic urgency that fuels the participants as they weave in and out of the trance-like chorus. Coltrane grabs hold with bright and aggressive lines, turning the minor-chord progressions around into a spirited and soulful outing. While the refined and elegant "Violets for Your Furs" as well as the slinky and surreptitious "While My Lady Sleeps" are undeniably ballads, they aren't redundant. Rather, each complements the other with somewhat alternate approaches. "Violets for Your Furs" develops the role of the more traditional pop standard, whereas the somnolence is disrupted by the tension and release coursing just below the surface of "While My Lady Sleeps." The Coltrane-supplied "Straight Street" is replete with the angular progressions that would become his stock-in-trade. In fact, the short clusters of notes that Coltrane unleashes are unmistakable beacons pointing toward his singular harmonics and impeccably timed phrasing on 1960's Giant Steps and beyond. The closer, "Chronic Blues," demonstrates Coltrane's increasing capacity for writing and arranging for an ensemble. The thick unified sound of Coltrane, Splawn, and Shihab presents a formidable presence as they blow the minor-chord blues chorus together before dissolving into respective solos. The trio's divergent styles prominently rise, pitting Shihab's down-and-dirty growl against Coltrane's comparatively sweet tones and Splawn's vacillating cool and fiery fingering. Regardless of the listener's expertise, Coltrane is as enjoyable as it is thoroughly accessible.

MAY 28

                 HERBIE HANCOCK
                 Takin' Off

                  Recording Date: 
                       May 28, 1962

                       Dexter Gordon    TS 
                       Herbie Hancock   P
                       Billy Higgins        D 
                       Freddie Hubbard TP,FG 
                       Butch Warren      B 


Review by Steve Huey
Herbie Hancock's debut as a leader, Takin' Off, revealed a composer and pianist able to balance sophistication and accessibility, somewhat in the vein of Blue Note's prototype hard bopper Horace Silver. Yet while Hancock could be just as funky and blues-rooted as Silver, their overall styles diverged in several ways: Hancock was lighter and more cerebral, a bit more adventurous in his harmonies, and more apt to break his solos out of a groove (instead of using them to create one). So even if, in retrospect, Takin' Off is among Hancock's most conventional albums, it shows a young stylist already strikingly mature for his age, and one who can interpret established forms with spirit and imagination. Case in point: the simple, catchy "Watermelon Man," which became a Hancock signature tune and a jazz standard in the wake of a hit cover by Latin jazz star Mongo Santamaria. Hancock's original version is classic Blue Note hard bop: spare, funky piano riffing and tight, focused solo statements. The other compositions are memorable and well-constructed too (if not quite hit material); all have their moments, but particular highlights include the ruminative ballad "Alone and I," the minor-key "The Maze" (which features a little bit of free improvisation in the rhythm section), and the bluesy "Empty Pockets." The backing group includes then up-and-coming trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Billy Higgins. All in all, Takin' Off is an exceptional first effort, laying the groundwork for Hancock to begin pushing the boundaries of hard bop on his next several records.

MAY 27

                 PAT MARTINO
                  Night Wings

                        Recording Date: 
                            May 27, 1994

                            Marc Johnson      B 
                            Robert Kenmotsu TS
                            Pat Martino         G
                            James Ridl          P 
                            Bill Stewart         D 


Review by Robert Taylor
Recorded for Muse only a couple of months after Interchange and a few months before The Maker, the similarities in the recordings are evident. His connection with James Ridl is obvious and continued Martino's penchant for creative relationships with pianists, namely Eddie Green and Gil Goldstein. For this session, Bob Kenmotsu was added on tenor saxophone, and his unison lines with Martino are one of the many highlights here. Once again, Ridl is allowed ample space to explore his thoughtful ideas, especially on the excellent "Villa Hermosa." Martino favors a more-is-more approach here, a welcome change for fans of his earlier recordings. His chops are on full display on "Draw Me Down" and "Night Wings," but his experience prevents his impressive technique from being gratuitous or overbearing. Martino and Ridl couldn't be in better hands than with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Bill Stewart, who are also supplied with enough space to showcase their remarkable talents. This fine session has been reissued, along with Interchange, as part of the double CD Mission Accomplished, which is the better value and the recommended choice.

MAY 26

               DIZZY GILLESPIE
       Swing Low Sweet Cadillac

              Recording Date:
                   May 25-26, 1959

                   Dizzy Gillespie       TP,Vo
                   James Moody     TS,AS,FL,Vo
                   Mike Longo              P
                   Frank Schifano         B
                   Otis Candy Finch Jr. D


Review by Michael G. Nastos
A strangely popular album for Dizzy Gillespie, Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac represents a period in his career where he was adapting to the times, keeping his goof factor on board, and individually playing as well as he ever had. This club date, recorded over two days circa May of 1967 from The Memory Lane in Los Angeles, has Gillespie with soon to be longtime partners James Moody and Mike Longo, joking and jiving with their audience, presenting a relatively short program of modified pop tunes and one of the trumpeter's most revered compositions. Drummer Otis "Candy" Finch is more than up to the task, but electric bass guitarist Frank Schifano is the weak link, playing basic lines, or unfortunately out of tune. Longo moves from acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, while Moody's tenor or alto sax and flute are as distinctive as ever. Gillespie's voice, inspired by Eddie Jefferson or perhaps Billy Eckstine, was never meant for singing, but is delightful in his attempt. "Kush" is the track that, over nearly 16 minutes, starts with Dizzy's preachings about Mother Africa and Moody's wavering flute, but Schifano's insistently off-key ostinato mars what is otherwise Gillespie's bright and fluid trumpet sparring with Moody's alto in louder, then softened dynamics and Longo's dainty piano chords. The band modifies Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada," made popular by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, into a boppish swinging and swaying tune with Latin inferences. The title track, Gillespie's singularly unique and famous adaptation of the gospel song "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" has he and Moody chatting back and forth in campy ghetto and Afro-Cuban vocal antics gleaned from Chano Pozo, degenerating into nothing, then a modest vocal line. While somewhat disingenuous, Gillespie's vocal attempt at being a romantic troubadour during "Something in Your Smile" cannot be taken seriously, but is somehow quaint and endearing. This is not an essential listing in the vast discography of such a great jazz artist, but remains a curiosity in his collection, especially considering the two-day time frame where much more music could have been considered to be issued. It is not to be completely ignored, but less worthy than many of his other seminal groundbreaking recordings.

MAY 25

                         CHET BAKER
                      Mr. B

                     Recording Date:
                           May 25, 1983

                          Chet Baker           TP
                          Michel Graillier      P
                          Philip Catherine    G
                          Ricardo Del Fra     B
                          Monster, Holland   D


Review by Steven Loewy
The quality of Chet Baker's product was so varied during the last decade or more of his life that recording sessions varied markedly. For this "remixed version" of Mr. B Baker sounds a tad tired, though his chops are in fine form. The studio recording captures the trumpeter with highly sympathetic and self-effacing pianist Michel Grallier and bassist Ricardo Del Fra, both of whom engage in the leader's brand of sensitivity. There are no vocals by the trumpeter, but plenty of improvising. The interesting tune selection features a few songs played often by Baker (such as Wayne Shorter's "Dolphin Dance" and Horace Silver's "Strollin'"), but several that are not associated with him at all (Grallier's "White Blues" and his gorgeous "Father X-mas," to name a couple). There is a sadness permeating the trumpeter's sound throughout, exacerbated by the lazy, sometimes sluggish, tempos. A deep and touching beauty can be felt, marking this as one of Chet's best from the period.

MAY 24

              RED GARLAND

                    Recording Date:
                        May 24, 1957

                        Red Garland     P
                        Kenny Burrell    G
                        Paul Chambers  B
                        Art Taylor         D


Review by Scott Yanow
Pianist Red Garland's fourth recording as a leader had often eluded reissue until this 1998 CD was released. Garland is teamed up with bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Art Taylor and (on "Four" and "Walkin'") guest guitarist Kenny Burrell. Garland plays in his distinctive style consistently throughout Red Garland Revisited!. Highlights include "Billy Boy" (which was adapted from Ahmad Jamal's rendition), "I'm Afraid the Masquerade Is Over," "It Could Happen to You," and two Burrell tracks. Predictably excellent music; Garland recorded more than 20 additional albums within the next five years.

MAY 23

             ALEX SIPIAGIN

                 Recording Date:
                     May 23, 2001

                     Alex Sipiagin    TP,FG
                     Chris Potter     TS
                     Adam Rogers    G
                     Boris Kozlov      B
                     Gene Jackson    D


Review by David R. Adler
Trumpeter Alex Sipiagin sticks with a quintet lineup on his second Criss Cross outing, but this time opts for guitar over piano. Tenor saxophonist Chris Potter remains in place from the first session; Adam Rogers, who is finally gaining wider exposure, ably fills the chair previously occupied by Dave Kikoski; and a new rhythm section appears, with Boris Kozlov on bass and Gene Jackson on drums. The music is magnificent, and thankfully the takes are nice and long, giving the soloists more than enough room to push the envelope. In addition to four strong originals, Sipiagin offers an elevated reading of Mingus' "Reincarnation of a Lovebird," two equally stirring takes of Bill Evans' "Very Early," and a priceless fl├╝gelhorn/acoustic guitar duet on Monk's "Light Blue." Sipiagin's orchestrations are ceaselessly probing and imaginative; there are times, like on the out-blues title track, when the harmonized lines he plays with Potter sound like three horns. Combining the rigors of painstaking composition with the frenzied inspiration of the hottest blowing date, Sipiagin gives listeners some of the most potent and engaging mainstream jazz of the era.

MAY 21

       Shape of Jazz to Come

                    Recording Date: 
                        May 22, 1959

                        Don Cherry         CT
                        Ornette Coleman AS 
                        Charlie Haden     B
                        Billy Higgins        D 

Review by Steve Huey
Ornette Coleman's Atlantic debut, The Shape of Jazz to Come, was a watershed event in the genesis of avant-garde jazz, profoundly steering its future course and throwing down a gauntlet that some still haven't come to grips with. The record shattered traditional concepts of harmony in jazz, getting rid of not only the piano player but the whole idea of concretely outlined chord changes. The pieces here follow almost no predetermined harmonic structure, which allows Coleman and partner Don Cherry an unprecedented freedom to take the melodies of their solo lines wherever they felt like going in the moment, regardless of what the piece's tonal center had seemed to be. Plus, this was the first time Coleman recorded with a rhythm section — bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins — that was loose and open-eared enough to follow his already controversial conception. Coleman's ideals of freedom in jazz made him a feared radical in some quarters; there was much carping about his music flying off in all directions, with little direct relation to the original theme statements. If only those critics could have known how far out things would get in just a few short years; in hindsight, it's hard to see just what the fuss was about, since this is an accessible, frequently swinging record. It's true that Coleman's piercing, wailing alto squeals and vocalized effects weren't much beholden to conventional technique, and that his themes often followed unpredictable courses, and that the group's improvisations were very free-associative. But at this point, Coleman's desire for freedom was directly related to his sense of melody — which was free-flowing, yes, but still very melodic. Of the individual pieces, the haunting "Lonely Woman" is a stone-cold classic, and "Congeniality" and "Peace" aren't far behind. Any understanding of jazz's avant-garde should begin here.

MAY 20

              THE THREE SOUNDS
                   Good Deal

                         Recording Date: 
                             May 20, 1959

                             Bill Dowdy         D
                             Gene Harris       P,Cel
                             Andy Simpkins   B


Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Good Deal is a typically fine record from the Three Sounds, who were beginning to hit their stride when this session was recorded in May of 1959. Like most of their records, it's laidback — even when the group works a swinging tempo, there's a sense of ease that keeps the mood friendly, relaxed and mellow. Balancing standards like "Satin Doll," "Soft Winds" and "That's All" with bop ("Robbin's Nest"), calypso ("St. Thomas") and originals, the Three Sounds cover a lot of stylistic territory, putting their distinctive stamp on each song. It's very accessible, pleasant soul-jazz and mainstream hard bop, but Gene Harris' masterful technique means that Good Deal rewards close listening as well.

MAY 19

            NICK BRIGNOLA
            Like Old  Times 


               Recording Date:
                   May 19, 1994

                   Nick Brignola    CL,BS,SS 
                   Claudio Roditi   TP,FG
                   John Hicks        P
                   George Mraz     B 
                   Dick Berk          D 


Review by Scott Yanow
Some jazz recordings take pages to explain and analyze. Such is not the case with Nick Brignola's Reservoir release, for the great baritonist (who ranks up with Gerry Mulligan, Hamiet Bluiett, and Ronnie Cuber as pacesetters on the instrument in the mid-'90s) jams four standards and three straight-ahead originals with an all-star quintet also featuring trumpeter Claudio Roditi and pianist John Hicks. In addition to his many robust baritone solos, Brignola has excellent outings on clarinet ("More Than You Know") and soprano. With bassist George Mraz and drummer Dick Berk ably supporting the group and both Roditi and Hicks heard at the peak of their powers, Brignola's album is a strong set of bop-oriented music.

MAY 18

                   Blow Up
                   Recording Date:
                        May 18-19, 1996

                        Richard Galliano P, ACC
                        Michel Portal    CL,BC, AS, SS


Review by Tim Sheridan
The unique textures created by this duo, combining Galliano's masterful accordion with Portal's moody reeds, makes for a fascinating journey. Brilliant original works are interspersed with gems by Astor Piazzola and Hermeto Pascoal, making the rich tradition of accordion jazz that much richer. The crisp, 20-bit mastering rounds out the package as a delightful listening experience.

MAY 17

                BOOKER LITTLE
              Out Front

             Recording Date:
                 April  4, 1961 tk 2,4,6
                 March 17, 1961 tk 1,3,7

                 Booker Little    TP
                 Julian Priester  TB
                 Eric Dolphy      AS,BCL,FL
                 Don Friedman   P
                 Art Davis          B  tk 1,3,7
                 Ron Carter       B 
                 Max Roach       D,Tim,VB


Review by Scott Yanow
Booker Little was the first trumpet soloist to emerge in jazz after the death of Clifford Brown to have his own sound. His tragically brief life (he died at age 23 later in 1961) cut short what would have certainly been a major career. Little, on this sextet date with multi-reedist Eric Dolphy, trombonist Julian Priester, and drummer Max Roach, shows that his playing was really beyond bebop. His seven now-obscure originals (several of which deserve to be revived) are challenging for the soloists and there are many strong moments during these consistently challenging and satisfying performances.

MAY 16

               CHARLIE PARKER
              At Birdland

                 Recording Date:
                     May 15-16, 1950

                    Fats Navarro    TP
                    Charlie Parker  AS
                    Bud Powell       P
                    Curly Russell     B
                    Art Blakey        D


Review by Scott Yanow
The recording date may be suspect (trumpeter Fats Navarro died of tuberculosis only a week later) and the recording quality is not state of the art but the music on this two-LP set is often quite brilliant. Charlie Parker is teamed with Navarro, pianist Bud Powell, bassist Curley Russell and drummer Art Blakey for extended (usually six- to ten-minute) versions of 13 songs including "'Round Midnight" (the only time that Bird ever recorded a Thelonious Monk tune), "Move," "Out of Nowhere" and "Ornithology." The all-star lineup clearly inspired each other, making this two-fer well worth searching for.

MAY 15

                       DONALD BYRD
                 Electric Byrd

                   Recording Date:
                        May 15, 1970
                       Donald Byrd       TP
                       Bill Champbell    TB
                       Hermeto Pascoal FL
                       Jerry Dodgion     AS,SS,FL
                       Lew Tabackin     TS,FL
                       Frank Foster       TS,ACL
                       Pepper Adams    VB,CL
                       Duke Pearson      P
                      Wally Richardson G
                      Ron Carter          B
                      Mickey Roker      D
                      Airto Moreira      PER

Review by Steve Huey
Donald Byrd's transitional sessions from 1969-1971 are actually some of the trumpeter's most intriguing work, balancing accessible, funky, Davis-style fusion with legitimate jazz improvisation. Electric Byrd, from 1970, is the best of the bunch, as Byrd absorbs the innovations of Bitches Brew and comes up with one of his most consistent fusion sets of any flavor. Byrd leads his largest fusion group yet (ten to 11 pieces), featuring many of his cohorts of the time (including Jerry Dodgion, Lew Tabackin, and Frank Foster on various woodwinds). Most important are electric pianist Duke Pearson, who once again dominates the arrangements, and percussionist Airto Moreira, who in places lends a strong Brazilian feel that predates Return to Forever. Moreira also contributes one of the four compositions, "Xibaba," which starts out as an airy Brazilian tune but morphs into a free-form effects extravaganza; the rest are Byrd originals that prove equally imaginative and diverse. The Brazilian-tinged opener "Estavanico" has a gentle, drifting quality that's often disrupted by jarring dissonances. There's also the shifting — and sometimes even disappearing — slow groove of "Essence," and the hard-edged, bop-based funk of "The Dude." Much of the album has a spacy, floating feel indebted to the psychedelic fusion of Bitches Brew; it's full of open-ended solo improvisations, loads of amplification effects, and striking sonic textures. The arrangements are continually surprising, and the band never works the same groove too long, switching or completely dropping the underlying rhythms. So even if it wears its influences on its sleeve, Electric Byrd is indisputably challenging, high-quality fusion. It's also the end of the line for jazz purists as far as Donald Byrd is concerned, which is perhaps part of the reason the album has yet to receive its proper due.

MAY 14

                   KENNY BURRELL
             Blue Lights v1-2

                 Recording Date:
                     May 14, 1958

                     Louis Smith       TP
                     Tina Brooks        TS
                     Junior Cook       TS
                     Bobby Timmons  P tk 6-10
                     Duke Jordan       P tk 1-5
                     Kenny Burrell      G
                     Sam Jones          B
                     Art Blakey          D

Review by Scott Yanow
The music on this 1997 two-CD set was originally on two LPs and already previously reissued as a pair of CDs. Guitarist Kenny Burrell leads a very coherent jam session in the studio with a particularly strong cast that also includes trumpeter Louis Smith, both Junior Cook and Tina Brooks on tenors, either Duke Jordan or Bobby Timmons on piano, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Art Blakey. The material consists of basic originals and standards and has excellent playing all around; six of the nine tunes are over nine minutes long. At that point in time, Cook and Brooks had similar sounds, but, fortunately, the soloists are identified in the liner notes for each song. The solo star is often trumpeter Louis Smith, who fell into obscurity after a few notable appearances on Blue Note during the period (including his own brilliant date, Here Comes Louis Smith). He was one of the finest of the Clifford Brown-influenced players of the period and deserves much greater recognition. This is a recommended reissue for hard bop collectors who do not already have the two individual CDs.

MAY 13

                ZOOT SIMS
             Passion Flower

              Recording Date:
                  May 13, 1980           tk 6,9
                  August 14, 1979       tk 1-5
                  December 10, 1979  tk 7-8

              Personnel tk 6,9:
                  Zoot Sims           TS
                  Jimmy Rowles     P

                  John Clay            D
                  Michael Moore     B

Review by Scott Yanow
Benny Carter provided the arrangements for the 16-piece band that accompanies the great tenor Zoot Sims on this set of Duke Ellington songs. The album is highlighted by "In a Mellow Tone," "I Got It Bad," "Passion Flower" and "Bojangles," but all nine selections are enjoyable and Sims is in top form. In fact it can easily be argued that Zoot Sims never made an indifferent or unswinging album, so it is not much of a surprise that this date is quite successful and should greatly appeal to straightahead jazz fans.

MAY 11

                   MILES DAVIS
          Quintet Session

               Recording Date:
                   May 11, 1956

                  Paul Chambers     B
                  John Coltrane      TS
                  Miles Davis          TP
                  Red Garland         P
                  Philly Joe Jones   D


On May 11 and October 26, 1956 the Miles Davis Quintet, featuring John Coltrane on tenor sax, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and 'Philly' Joe Jones on drums, went into the studio to record two mammoth sessions in the Rudy Van Gelder studio. This studio time resulted in four legendary hard bop albums: Cookin', Relaxin', Workin', and Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet. For these sessions the quintet simply played their live set straight through, as if they were playing at a club. One take. That's it. And as a result, these albums are as close as anyone (who wasn't there) will ever come to knowing what one of the most memorable jazz combos in history must have sounded like live. The incredible tension between all five musicians shines through -- Miles' poised and sparing trumpet in stark contrast with Coltrane's more urgent and note heavy sax, backed by one of the best rhythm sections in jazz -- and the studio banter that can be heard makes it feel like you are in a stage-side seat. Interestingly, there is very little original material, but what we do have is a glimpse straight into the heart of what was popular in jazz music at the time. Because of the unique way in which these albums were recorded, it is only fitting that they be brought together in one package, and on vinyl as nature intended. Now they have also been remastered by the original sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder himself, who commented, 'I remember those sessions well, I remember how the musicians wanted to sound...Today, I feel strongly that I am their messenger.'

MAY 10

               CHARLIE PARKER
           Birth of Bebop

                 Recording Date:
                     May 11, 1940
                    Charlie Parker AS



Review by Scott Yanow
This is the type of Charlie Parker CD that is essential for Bird collectors but less important to more casual jazz fans. The contents of this set should amaze Parker fanatics: Bird's initial private recording of May 1940 (unaccompanied versions of "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Body and Soul" cut in a private recording booth), four remarkable studio-quality selections from 1942 (including "Cherokee") in which the altoist is just backed by rhythm guitar and quiet drums, rehearsal and jam session numbers from 1943 with Bird on tenor (including an amazing seven-minute version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" by the trio of Parker, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and bassist Oscar Pettiford) and three lengthy cuts from a late-1945 broadcast by Diz and Bird with a sextet. These important recordings fill a major gap, giving one many clues as to how Charlie Parker sounded before he emerged fully formed on records in 1945.


               CHET BAKER
           Jazz at Ann Arbor

                   Recording Date:
                       May 9, 1954

                       Chet Baker       TP
                       Russ Freeman    P
                       Bob Neel          D
                       Carson Smith    B


Review by Lindsay Planer
Chet Baker (trumpet) was arguably at the peak of his prowess when captured in a quartet setting at the Masonic Temple in Ann Arbor, MI, May 9, 1954. He's joined by Russ Freeman (piano), Carson Smith (bass) and Bob Neel (drums), all of whom provide ample assistance without ever obscuring their leader's laid-back and refined style. Baker's sublime sounds also garnered notice from critics, who had placed him atop polls in both Metronome and Down Beat magazines the previous year. Evidence of these lauds are obvious upon listening to the combo as they nestle into one of the cornerstones in their repertoire, the suave "Line for Lyons" -- a track dating back to the artist's short-lived yet genre defining work with the song's author, Gerry Mulligan. Almost immediately after establishing the melodic theme, Baker dives into his trademark solos. The fluidity throughout the seemingly off-the-cuff excursions presents confirmation of both his unquestionable timing and understated subtle authority. The rhythm section ably follows the improvisations with solid, yet never overpowering support. Freeman also shines throughout, especially during the stately opening to "Lover Man" or the up-tempo jiving "Maid in Mexico." Other classics include the stark intimacy of Baker's signature "My Funny Valentine," as well as respectively frisky renditions of "Stella by Starlight" and Freeman's own crowd-pleasing "Russ Job." In 2000, these eight cuts were coupled with five additional previously unreleased sides from the Carlton Theatre in Los Angeles circa August of 1953. The results were Quartet Live, Vol. 1: This Time the Dream's on Me (2000), the first of three archival volumes featuring Baker during his initial reign as the poster child for West coast cool jazz. [The 2007 Jazz Beat reissue included bonus tracks.]


             HORACE SILVER
         The Stylings of Silver

                   Recording Date:
                       May 8, 1957

                       Art Farmer      TP 
                       Louis Hayes      D 
                       Teddy Kotick    B
                       Hank Mobley    TS
                       Horace Silver   P 


Review by Scott Yanow
The 1957 Horace Silver Quintet (featuring trumpeter Art Farmer and tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley) is in top form on this date, particularly on "My One and Only Love" and their famous version of "Home Cookin'." All of Silver's Blue Note quintet recordings are consistently superb and swinging and, although not essential, this is a very enjoyable set


               DONALD BYRD
          Blows at Beacon Hill

                    Recording Date:
                        May 7, 1956

                        Donald Byrd     TP
                        Ray Santisi       P
                        Doug Watkins   B
                       Jimmy Zitano    D


Review by Thom Jurek
This 1956 (released in 1957) session is Donald Byrd's quartet session. Utilizing a rhythm section of Beacon Hill's finest — bassist Doug Watkins, pianist Ray Santisi, and drummer Jim Zitano — Byrd establishes himself here as an individual voice on the trumpet and as a leader as well. The material is comprised of well-known standards and catalog jazz tunes such as "Stella by Starlight," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," "People Will Say We're in Love," "If I Love Again," and "What's New"; it's hardly the high-flying hard bop material that became his signature during his early years at Blue Note. Mostly the pace is slow, easy, and swinging, with enough of the funky blues Byrd would blow later to make these nuggets sound interesting. Byrd's interpretation of older material like this was one of both observance and phrasing. He never overplays either on the vamping lyric or in his solos. Likewise, his rhythm section keeps things spare, if not necessarily simple. Nowhere is this more evident than in "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," where the melody is inverted after the first three choruses have been played, but it is never overstated or broken apart, just observed and actively pursued for its chromatic richness. Byrd's tone is not quite as biting as it would become in later years, though it is imbued with the same ghostly timbral grace that distinguished him as a soloist. While this date may not be of interest to Byrd's soul-jazz fans, it will no doubt enlighten those who are partial to Byrd's early Blue Note material. 


                AL HAIG
             Duke & Bird

                     Recording Date:
                        May 6, 1976

                        Al Haig   P


This unique solo piano album by Al Haig was recorded on May 6th 1976 at New York's Vanguard Studios. It is being released now on CD for the first time in the U.S. Al Haig was born in Newark, New Jersey on July 22, 1924. Starting early as a boy, he played piano, harp and clarinet. He started concentrating on the piano when he entered Oberlin College in 1940. He then joined the Coast Guard. After his service, he headed to Boston to play with Rudy Williams. When he heard Dizzy Gillespie on the radio from New York, he became drawn to New York and arrived in 1944. He polished his craft at the jazz clubs on 52nd Street. At age 20, he joined Charlie Parker's group. By May of 1945, his performances were being singled out in Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker's all-star quintet. Later, he became beloved as an excellent sideman to Charlie Parker as well as to Stan Getz. He was one of the top bop pianists of his time, but never really achieved widespread fame. He went through much personal turmoil when he came under suspicion of murdering his wife in 1969, but was later acquitted. During the 70s, he continued to perform, mostly solo piano, in New York. His achievements were finally recognized during the last decade of his life. He passed away in 1982. Side 1 consists of a medley made up of four songs made famous by Duke Ellington Prelude To A Kiss , I Got It Bad And That Ain t Good , Sophisticated Lady and In A Sentimental Mood. Side 2 consists of a medley made up of four songs made famous by or were favorites of Charlie Parker Yardbird Suite , Lover Man , I Remember You and Embraceable You. Al Haig was a unique individual as was his music.


               STAN GETZ
             & BILL EVANS

                   Recording Date:
                       May 5, 1964

                       Stan Getz       TS
                       Bill Evans        P
                       Richard Davis  B
                       Ron Carter      B
                       Elvin Jones     D


Review by Ken Dryden
The only studio meeting between Stan Getz and Bill Evans took place over two days in 1964, with the aggressive drummer Elvin Jones and either Richard Davis or Ron Carter on bass. It is peculiar that Verve shelved the results for over a decade before issuing any of the music, though it may have been felt that Getz and Evans hadn't had enough time to achieve the desired chemistry, though there are memorable moments. The punchy take of "My Heart Stood Still," the elegant interpretation of "Grandfather's Waltz," and the lush setting of the show tune "Melinda" all came from the first day's session, with Davis on bass. Evidently he was unavailable the following day, so Carter replaced him. Evans' driving, challenging "Funkallero" is the obvious highlight from day two, though the gorgeous "But Beautiful" and the breezy setting of "Night and Day" are also enjoyable. Only the brief version of "Carpetbagger's Theme," which seems badly out of place and suggestive of the label's interference with the session, is a bit of a disappointment. Obviously neither Getz nor Evans liked the tune, as they go through the motions in a very brief performance. This reissue, which came out in the late '80s, adds three unissued alternate takes, though additional material from the sessions was included in the box set The Complete Bill Evans on Verve.


            ART BLAKEY
       The Jazz Messengers

            Recording Date:
                May 4, 1956 tk 4-8

                Art Blakey           D
                Donald Byrd        TP
                Curtis Fuller       TB
                Jymie Merritt      B
                Hank Mobley       TS
                Lee Morgan         TP
                Wayne Shorter    TS
                Horace Silver       P

                Bobby Timmons   P
                Doug Watkins      B

Review by Scott Yanow
This CD reissue brings back the music on the earlier LP titled Art Blakey with the Original Jazz Messengers, plus five other selections (just one of which is an alternate) from the same two sessions that were formerly out on imported sets; "Deciphering the Message" was previously unreleased altogether. These were the last recordings by the Art Blakey-Horace Silver Jazz Messengers before pianist Silver went out on his own and the first edition disbanded. Trumpeter Donald Byrd, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, and bassist Doug Watkins (along with Silver and Blakey) are in excellent form. Silver's "Nica's Dream" is heard here in the original version, and the band is typically hard-swinging throughout the 76-minute-plus program.