|KENNY CLARKE AND FRANCY
After forging bop history and founding the Modern Jazz Quartet, Pittsburgh-born drummer Kenny "Klook" Clarke (1914-85) left the United States for Europe in 1956. He played for several years in a trio with Bud Powell, then hooked up with conservatory trained pianist Francy Boland (b. 1929) to form the Clarke-Boland Big Band (C-BBB), one of Europe’s preeminent jazz orchestras. From 1961 to 1972, the group recorded a whopping 35 albums and at various times, featured some of Europe and America’s finest names in jazz: Art Farmer, Johnny Griffin, Benny Bailey, Ronnie Scott, Sahib Shihab and Jimmy Woode.
The seemingly unlikely partnership of Clarke and Boland made for a formidable foundation. Clarke had unfaltering rhythm and a broad sense of swing and Boland, whose always inspired pianistic witticisms were only briefly revealed, proved a gifted composer/arranger of rare insight and exceptional tonal variety. Like Ellington, Boland conceived of musical stories, often to be told by the specific talents and abilities of the orchestra’s soloists (1969’s At Her Majesty’s Pleasure, for example, was a suite written entirely to chronicle Griffin’s arrest in London for back tax payments). But, still, this was a musician’s band -- given to old-fashioned bouts of section playing and audience-rousing performances. And even the multi-cultural casting and diverse musical backgrounds couldn’t prevent the coalescence of Clarke and Boland’s unified conception.
Italian producer Gigi Campi became the orchestra’s manager, producer and all around guru/inspiration. It is he who oversaw the vast recorded legacy of the Clarke/Boland aggregates. It is Campi who has also supervised the CD release of C-BBB projects on the German MPS and Emanon labels. Here, he teams with the Italian Rearward label to release once-rare and some never issued Clarke/Boland music. The packaging is exceedingly handsome: cardboard slipcases holding complimentary digipack CD cases and separately bound booklets with British chronicler (and Klook biographer) Mike Hennessey’s notes, superb (though buried) credits and rare photos. What’s more, Campi has obsessively restored the recordings for pristine sound quality and expertly captured the orchestra for the digital age.
The first of the Rearward releases, Karl Drewo’s Clap Hands Here Comes Charlie, isn’t really a C-BBB project at all. But the June 1961 session, originally issued on Met Records, prominently – and surprisingly - features Boland throughout with Joe Harris instead of Clarke on drums. Drewo, whose tone and style seem to cross Ellington section man Coleman Hawkins with Basie section man Eddie Lockjaw Davis, is a Viennese tenor saxist who was an early fixture of the C-BBB. He got his start in the early 1950s playing in bands with Joe Zawinul and was recorded in 1974 with Art Farmer. Here, the sax-with-rhythm quartet is augmented by three trombones (Chris Kellens, Raymond Droz, Otto Bredl), an unusual concept that is Boland’s and one that successfully provides a subtle orchestral sound for the lively program. As arranger, Boland is also the architect of the date and offers two of its strongest pieces ("Young Bucks" and "J.L.K."). Drewo swings with an appealing melodic beauty throughout, suggesting that his own career as a prominent soloist was somehow shortchanged. This one is a real treat: a solid swinger firmly in the best bop tradition.
By 1964, the C-BBB was in full swing, constantly recording and performing throughout Europe. When Clarke and Boland were unable to gather the full orchestra together, they often did small group records like the three sessions recorded between 1964 and 1965 that resulted in the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Sextet’s Calypso Blues. Latin is the prevailing mood here and although the 20 tracks here were eventually featured over a variety of releases, the sextet offers a true simpatico groove. In addition to Clarke and Boland, Sahib Shihab shines personably on flute, Fats Sadi finesses the vibes and bongos, Joe Harris covers other percussion and Jimmy Woode, in addition to his signature bass work, offers his pleasant, relaxed vocals on seven tracks. Nine tracks here first appeared on Clarke/Boland’s CBS LP Marcel Marceau, for whom "Balafon" was written (and also as part of Shihab’s Vogue LP Companionship) and "Please Don’t Leave," with Shihab on vocals comes from the reed man’s 1964 Argo LP Summer Dawn. This nicely varied set mixes standards ("Lush Life") and jazz classics ("Born To Be Blue," "Insensatez" and Dizzy’s "Tin Tin Deo" and "Con Alma") with colorful originals from Woode, Shihab and Boland. A perfect compliment for romantic listening that offers plenty of jazz invention – especially those who admire the not-oft heard sounds of Shihab, Boland and Jimmy Woode.
Sahib Shihab (1925-89) like fellow C-BBBB percussionist Joe Harris, was in the Quincy Jones orchestra that toured Europe in 1960. Neither returned to the United States when the band went back home (Shihab settled in Scandinavia) and both hooked up shortly thereafter with Kenny Clarke and Francy Boland. Shihab, a devout follower of Islam who was prominent on several Prestige dates from the 1950s, seemed a logical feature for the C-BBB. One of the first of these features to surface on CD is the wonderful Sahib Shihab And All Those Cats. The 15 titles here come from six small-group sessions the compelling American baritone sax/flautist recorded with Clarke and Boland between 1964 and 1970. While this may suggest a hodge-podge, it’s a consistent and worthy collection with Clarke and Woode appearing throughout, Sadi, Boland and Harris on most titles and later spots for Benny Bailey and Ake Persson too. Three of these titles were originally on Shihab’s 1964 Argo LP, Summer Dawn ("Waltz For Seth," "Campi’s Idea," "Herr Fixit") and three others are from the 1968 Vogue sessions for Seeds ("Peter’s Waltz," "Set Up" and the probably previously unreleased "End of a Love Affair"). The nine remaining tracks, recorded at different times between 1964 and 1970, originally appeared on a Vogue compilation called Companionship. Shihab is in top form throughout. There seems to be dedicated clarity and a swinging joy here – probably because no one was forced to play like their American counterparts, in prescribed bossa nova, top 40 or rock modes. Shihab is consistently fluent on the bulky baritone, adding more of a bite and a growl than the familiar Mulligan sound. But he’s most compelling in the flute work he offers on "Companionship," "Herr Fixit," and Boland’s "Om Mani Pade Hum." A joy overall and a welcome introduction to an American reedman known better to European listeners.
The jewel of Rearward’s current batch of issues is The Clarke-Boland Big Band’s Our Kinda Strauss, a collection of modally-oriented waltz themes recorded between 1966 and 1972. Ten of the disc’s 16 tracks come from the C-BBB’s 1966 Philips LP, Swing, Waltz, Swing. The remaining six titles are similarly inclined, but released here for the first time ever. Boland shows a great deal of his Ellington influence here (think Nutcracker), swinging the band -- featuring Americans Benny Bailey, Sahib Shihab, Johnny Griffin and Sal Nistico with European stalwarts Ake Persson, Derek Humble and Karl Drewo – through colorful, Ellingtonian passages. The program mixes some Strauss (R and J), Gershwin and Lehar with a hefty helping of Boland’s originals, two Coltrane trademarks ("Greensleeves" and "My Favorite Things") and a C-BBB favorite, Burt Bachrach’s "Wives and Lovers." The soloists are simply superb, with Drewo clearly out in front (the LP was originally devised as a feature for the tenor saxist). Overall, the outing offers an ideal example of this superb band’s individual and collective capabilities. The only unusual exception is Boland’s solos on a strangely tuned organ during "Lotus" and "Lobsang." Eventually, Boland’s writing became a bit more abstract (check out Verve’s Change of Scene, a not altogether successful pairing of Stan Getz with the C-BBB from 1971). But here, the C-BBB is at the peak of its powers and charm.
The last great Boland-Clarke project in Rearward’s bountiful crop appears under Chicago tenor great Johnny Griffin’s name as Griff ‘n’ Bags. While Boland, Woode and Clarke are common to all 16 of these 1967-1969 tracks, it’s not exactly Griff with Milt "Bags" Jackson. Griff heads up a 1968 octet on five tracks which originally appeared on his 1968 Vogue LP, Lady Heavy Bottom’s Waltz. But Bags – who was supposed to reunite with fellow MJQ founder Clarke for a C-BBB recording that never happened – is heard a year later as part of a different quintet, swinging his vibes on four tracks (notably, "Blues For K") and singing appealingly on "I’m A Fool To Want You." Clarke is more than usually inspired during Jackson’s performances and really stands out. The real joys here, though, are the three not-oft heard Boland-Woode-Clarke trio performances from 1967 and, even better, the three sextet performances of Boland originals "The Turk’s Bolero," "The Girl and the Turk" and "Muvaffak’s Pad" from 1968 featuring Idrees Sulieman (trumpet), Ake Persson (trombone) and, of course, Sahib Shihab. Despite the top-shelf signature soloing throughout from Shihab, Jackson and Griffin, Boland’s piano is also much more prominently out in front here – making this rather misleadingly titled collection one of the highlights of Rearward’s Gigi Campi projects.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGAR?
Beginning with 1974’s popular Pieces of Dreams (Fantasy), sugar man Stanley Turrentine began to assume more control of his own recordings. That album turned out to be quite a hit and for the most part since, the tenor great has stuck to mostly commercial settings. But despite the often simple material or occasionally unnecessary sweetening, Turrentine consistently rises above his circumstances with that sumptuous signature sound and his always appealing bluesy swing.
Do You Have Any Sugar?, Turrentine’s first disc since 1995’s quite good T Time (Music Masters) and his debut for Concord Vista, is a welcome return that’s sweet and soulful in a sort of Grover Washington way. Turrentine, most often framed by Steven Boyd’s unfussy songs or untricky arrangements, is in top form. He sticks to differing small groups throughout, tastefully supported by subtle electric instrumentation (bass, guitar or keyboards) and on the disc’s best tracks, gets paired with a complimentary horn (in this case, Andy Martin’s trombone or Rick Braun’s trumpet).
Turrentine’s precision soulfulness remains impeccable throughout, even when the music threatens to become a bit too smooth. On each song, he muses with expert and inviting beauty, assailing each groove as if his trademark sound glides with effortless passion from the clouds. One could wish the material wasn’t always as slick. But there is plenty worth hearing here. Especially notable are Turrentine’s CTI-like riff, "Back In The Day," the Grover groove of "Favorite Heart" and two (!) catchy "So What" knock-offs by Steven Boyd and Chuck Hoover, "Keep On Keepin’ On" and "Stuff You Gotta Watch" (the latter featuring bassist Ray Brown). Vocalist Niki Harris (Gene’s daughter) is appealing enough on the radio-fodder of "Calling You," "Pause To Wonder" and the you-already-know-the-answer title cut. Of course, Turrentine continues to shine brightest on ballads (as he showed on Three of A Kind’s fabulous 1994 Minor Music disc, Meets Mr. T) and offers a beauty here in "Far Too Little Love," which also features the simply wonderful Joe Sample on piano.
More pleasant than provocative, Do You Have Any Sugar? is similar to the tenor great’s best work (Blue Hour, Let It Go, Don’t Mess With Mister T, Pieces of Dreams) in the way it perfectly complements the most romantic of settings: appetizing, but not too filling.
Songs: Keep On Keepin’ On; Do You Have Any Sugar?; Stuff You Gotta Watch; Far Too Little Love; Pause To Wonder; Favorite Heart; Calling You; Back In The Day; 2 RBs; Monte Cristo; Bar Fly.
Players: Stanley Turrentine: tenor saxophone; Niki Harris: vocals; Mike Miller: guitar; Rick Braun: trumpet; Andy Martin: trombone; Kei Akagi, Joe Sample: piano; Steven Boyd, Greg Phillinganes: keyboards; Ray Brown, Abe Laboriel: bass); Harvey Mason: drums, drum programming; Alex Acuna: percussion.
GOOD DOG, HAPPY MAN
Every note Bill Frisell plays – or suggests – offers an impressionistic soundtrack of the American vernacular. It is jazz only in the way improvisation is a reflection of sensibilities. But Frisell’s music is really not just jazz. It swings over a wide swath of American musical forms: jazz, rock, grunge, blues, country, folk, bluegrass, even commercial orchestration. Call it a sort of ‘sound Americana’: peculiar, individual and unusually compelling.
Good Dog Happy Man ideally documents another set of Frisell’s colorful, commanding tone poems. It’s something of a story in progress, one that took root in 1994’s This Land and became clearer on 1997’s Nashville and 1998’s exquisite Gone, Just Like A Train (bassist Marc Johnson’s outstanding Sounds of Summer Running probably counts too).
Frisell, early in his two-decades career, offered a wholly individual sound, buffering a certain dissonance with a poetic melodicism. But, here he shows how he’s evolved into one of the most melodic and memorable of stylists -- etching out something that is often pastoral, elegiac and, at times, oddly patriotic. These are the moods filmmakers co-opt for onscreen archetypes reaching pivotal moments and branded in all those TV ads for investment firms and prescription medicines. But Frisell keeps it honest. He sets the mood and offers the soundtrack. The listener is free to conceive his or her own impressions.
Here, bassist Viktor Kruass (Allison’s brother) and drummer/studio legend Jim Keltner return from last year’s Gone trio aided by studio guitarist Greg Leisz on pedal steel, Dobro, steel guitar and mandolin and, in a welcome return, fellow Seattle resident Wayne Horvitz on organ. Frisell sticks mostly to electric or acoustic guitar and his ‘meditations’ are often buoyed by intriguing counterpoint: Horvitz’s spikey organ comments on "My Buffalo Girl" and "Cadillac 1959," the brief primal utterances of "Roscoe" and the dream-team coupling with Ry Cooder on the lovely "Shenandoah."
Frisell’s melodies are quite often little more than sustained riffs, at once simple and perfectly structured and at other times, remotely familiar (for example, the Pretenders’s "Back on the Chain Gang" is vaguely at the heart of "That Was Then"). Frisell is the only real notable soloist. As if in a Steve Reich construction, Frisell rarely strays far from the melody, or outside of the prevailing mood the unit conspires to create together.
The point is the story – reflections on feelings and meditations on moods. Darkness and light. A sense of honor with a sense of humor. It’s hardly America as sketched by Louis L’Amour, Jim Thompson or a score of other American writers. Frisell isn’t coming out of irony, bleakness, sarcasm or slight. Good Dog, Happy Man comes out of Frisell’s evident love for things American and an encyclopedic grasp on expressing the ways Americans sense things. A triumph indeed.
Songs: Rain, Rain; Roscoe; Big Shoe; My Buffalo Girl; Shenandoah (for Johnny Smith); Cadillac 1959; The Pioneers; Cold, Cold Ground; That Was Then; Monroe; Good Dog, Happy Man; Poem for Eva.
Players: Bill Frisell: electric and acoustic guitars, loops and music boxes; Greg Leisz: pedal steel, Dobro, lap steel, Weissenborn, National steel guitar and mandolin; Wayne Horvitz: organ, piano, samples; Viktor Krauss: bass; Jim Keltner: drums and percussion; Ry Cooder: electric guitar, Ripley guitar on "Shenandoah".
LEGENDS OF ACID JAZZ
Charles Kynard (1933-79) had a brief, rather low-key career as an organist. By day, he maintained a full-time career working with kids with special needs and taught piano between gigs and his job. He only recorded infrequently, doing sessions and two albums under his own name for Pacific Jazz in the early 1960s and several sessions and three records under his own name for Mainstream Records during 1971-74. But it is, perhaps, the four records he did for Prestige between 1968 and 1970 that the organist is best known for. Legends of Acid Jazz combines the last two of these, Afro-Disiac and Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui.
On both, Kynard showcases his remarkable ability to exploit the heck out of an interesting groove. The best of his originals usually stick to variations of the blues or out-and-out boogaloos. But it’s the machine-gun attack of his left hand and the churning grind he maintains with his feet – despite the ever-presence of a bassist – that separates Kynard’s playing from the crowd. The counterpoint he offers with his right hand is what usually puts the fun in his funk.
Afro-Disiac pits the organist in a quintet with tenor staple Houston Person and elevated by the presence of guitarist Grant Green. This was a reunion of sorts for Kynard and Green, the two having appeared together on 1968’s The Soul Brotherhood. The originals, mostly by Kynard’s school chum Richard Fritz, and Kynard’s eloquent cushioning offer an ideal environment for the guitarist – much more favorable than Green’s own recordings from the period.
Kynard is more of a featured presence on the Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui, adding his electric piano stylings to "Winter’s Child" and the dance floor classic, "Zebra Walk." Here, Kynard revels in a sextet that features the much-lamented honker Rusty Bryant, trumpeter Virgil Jones and guitarist Melvin Sparks. The tunes aren’t as memorable as the first session and the playing doesn’t have the edge or energy that Kynard could generate elsewhere (for evidence, check out the monster Reelin’ with the Feelin’, which is paired with Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui on the British BGP CD). But this "legend of acid jazz" is worth hearing and exploring and for fans of guitarist Grant Green, the first six songs are required listening.
Songs: Afro-Disiac; Bella Donna; Trippin’; Odds On; Sweetheart; Chanson du Nuit; Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Beautiful People); Winter’s Child; Zebra Walk; Something; Change Up.
Players: Charles Kynard: organ, electric piano; Houston Person, Rusty Bryant: tenor sax; Virgil Jones: trumpet; Grant Green, Melvin Sparks: guitar; Jimmy Lewis: Fender bass; Idris Muhammad, Bernard Purdie: drums.
33-year-old Swedish guitarist Anatholi Bulkin divides his time and talents between a jazz power trio, two different nine-piece groups and world music exploits of the often African variety. In his travels, he’s received ringing endorsements from jazz folk like Ron McClure, Dave Liebman and Harvie Swartz. On Initiation, apparently his solo debut, Bulkin states his case, suggesting the fleet and varying styles of Larry Coryell, filtered through such additional influences as Alan Holdsworth ("Initiation"), John Scofield ("The Underdog") and, on guitar synth, a cross between John Abercrombie and Pat Metheny ("Tripitaka"). Bulkin’s imagination never rests for any one moment in any one field. But he excels on the charmingly melodic ""Pintor," the funky chordal stomp of "House 418," and the lovely and overtly Metheny-esque "Folksong" (like "Mr. And Mr.s America," a strong feature for Jaco-influenced bassist, Jonas Reingold). Throughout, Bulkin offers tasty, sometimes speedy power fusion, reminiscent of the sort 70s fusers Dixie Dregs spun out. But, more importantly, Bulkin has strong melodic strengths that serve him well in his quite interesting compositions. Bulkin will probably focus his tastes and talents better on future recordings. But Initiation is a good place to start exploring the prodigious talents of guitarist Anatholi Bulkin. Also available via www.anatholibulkin.com.
Songs: Initiation; Wings of Light; The Underdog; Children (Life Is An Open Sky); Tripitaka; Planet Hollywood; Pintor; House 418; Eternal Affairs; Folksong; Presence; Mr & Mrs America.
Players: Anatholi Bulkin: electric guitars, guitar synthesizer, acoustic guitars; Jonas Reingold: acoustic bass, electric bass, electric fretless bass; Anders Hentze: drums, cymbals and percussion.
Organist Jack McDuff (b. 1926, Champaign, Illinois) got his start playing piano in his father’s church. But, oddly enough, he began his jazz career as a bassist in several mid-west bands. Eventually he switched to organ, earning the name "Brother Jack" for his gospel-style burning on the Hammond B-3. He acquired notoriety as part of Willis Jackson’s group (1957-60) and made his solo debut with 1960’s Brother Jack, the first of two full LPs featured on this set and his second in Prestige’s "Legends of Acid Jazz" series.
The first eight tunes, which make up the LP called Brother Jack, offer a fiery, often rousing program that offers plenty of evidence of why McDuff was such a popular club attraction at the time. The groove is much influenced by rock and roll and indebted to the catchy, soulful styles of Earl Bostic, Willis Jackson and King Curtis. McDuff fronts a horn-less quartet here, essentially Jackson’s rhythm section. He brings a solid, sustaining swing to the program, aided in no small measure by guitarist Bill Jennings, whose clean, crisp and rockish lines significantly contribute to the music’s success. There’s a healthy dose of solid McDuff originals here too, from "Brother Jack" and "Noon Train" to "Drowsy" and "Mack ‘n’ Duff."
McDuff personalizes his groove a bit more by the remaining tracks: 1961’s "Godiva Brown" from Steppin’ Out and the five tunes that comprise his fourth LP, Goodnight, It's Time to Go (1961). This was McDuff’s first working group, boasting the talent and contributions of guitarist Grant Green, soulful tenor man Harold Vick and underrated drummer Joe Dukes. McDuff pulls it all together here, offering a soulful brand of boppish blues that allows for rocking, often well considered blowing. It is Vick and McDuff who most dominate this session but Green is afforded some tasty spots and Duke’s drive is a significant catalyst to the session’s success. Green left for solo fame shortly after this session and after several McDuff sessions with Kenny Burrell, was eventually replaced by the young George Benson. Vick stayed through 1963, when he was replaced by Red Holloway. This, of course, formed the basis of, perhaps, McDuff’s finest and most popular group. But this quartet was certainly one to hear, especially as they testify on an early version of McDuff’s classic "Sanctified Waltz."
McDuff went on to record some 20 records for Prestige between 1960 and 1966, and to this day, they remain some of the best in his career. The two featured on Brother Jack are high points.
Songs: Brother Jack; Mr. Wonderful; Noon Train; Drowsy; Organ Grinder's Swing; Mack 'n' Duff; You're Driving Me Crazy; Light Blues; Godiva Brown; Goodnight, It's Time to Go; Sanctified Waltz; McDuff Speaking; A Smooth One; I'll Be Seeing You.
Players: Jack McDuff: organ; Harold Vick: tenor sax; Bill Jennings, Grant Green: guitar; Wendell Marshall: bass; Alvin Johnson, Joe Dukes: drums.
Despite his Gene Ammons influence, tenor sax man Houston Person has long had his own deep and soulfully growling tone on tenor, whether grooving on blues and boogaloos or exploring ballads with expert sensitivity. Lately, he seems to concentrate exclusively – and beautifully – on ballads. But on the two sessions coupled for this, his second in Prestige’s "Legends of Acid Jazz" series, he explores both sides with equal affection.
Between 1966 and 1973, Person made a dozen records for Prestige, alternating straight-ahead piano groups with funkier organ-based groups. The two included here, Person’s fifth, Soul Dance (1968), and seventh, Truth! (1970), are organ-based. Neither stand out much. But they offer Person’s patented soulful groove and lovely, sensitive reading of ballads.
Underrated guitarist Boogaloo Joe Jones offers Person’s quartet something of an edge on the first half of Soul Dance, using his unique sound to make things a shade more interesting. Jones is especially well suited to this soulful environment and during brief spotlight passages offers some finger-licking funk to "Snake Eyes," "Groovin’ And A-Groovin" and "Soul Dance" and well-considered commentary on ballads "Never Let Me Go," and "What a Difference A Day Made." Person, as expected, delivers the goods.
By Truth!, the vamps become a little bluesier, but a bit more repetitive and monotonous too. Here, Person is in a Prestige studio sextet featuring the tenor player’s longtime keyboardist Sonny Phillips on organ and Billy Butler on guitar. Person sounds large and in charge and Butler’s guitar adds a rockish groove. Phillips, always a better rhythm player than a soloist or composer, keeps things chugging along. The CD does not allow for the LP’s "If I Ruled The World" to be included here, but it’s probably not missed either. Person’s fans will still appreciate that this music is available for the first time in over two decades.
Songs: Snake Eyes; Never Let Me Go; Groovin' and A-Groovin'; What a Diff'rence a Day Made; Soul Dance; Here's That Rainy Day; Teardrops from My Eyes; Blue 7; Cissy Strut; On the Avenue; Wadin'; Pulpit; For Your Love.
Players: Houston Person: tenor sax; Billy Gardner, Sonny Phillips: organ; Boogaloo Joe Jones, Billy Butler: guitar; Bob Bushnell: electric bass; Frankie Jones: drums; Buddy Caldwell: conga.
These interesting, perhaps historic August 1959 performances first appeared in the 1980s as two Muse LPs, Golden Moments and I’ll Remember. Combined here on two CDs in an attractive set from 32 Jazz, it makes for a formidable presentation of clarinetist Tony Scott, then a New York fixture and now a European émigré, in an exceptional quartet with pianist Bill Evans, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Pete (LaRoca) Simms. The sound quality is probably as good as it can be, given that Scott had just let the recorder run during the performances. LaRoca’s bass drum is often quite a bit overwhelming, while Scott’s clarinet sounds a bit too over-modulated. Typical knocks and pings are present as are occasional fades and detracting audience clatter. But the music is exceptional.
The program consists of mostly aggressive, uptempo standards. Scott is a revelation, setting a swinging pace and rocking hard on an instrument that’s never been taken as seriously as it deserves in jazz outside of Benny Goodman and Dixieland. The quartet plants itself firmly in hard bop mode, led by Scott’s imaginative, Bird-like playing. The other four players, coaxed by Scott, are equally as challenging and as up front in the mix as they are in their abilities.
Evans is especially pronounced and inspired in what amounts to a star role, or featured accompanist. The pianist gets "Like Someone In Love" all to himself and carries major portions of "I Can’t Get Started" and Scott’s "Free and Easy Blues," which finds him in a refreshingly bluesy mood. But Garrison is also quite appealing, helming a number of fine solos and penning the date’s finest tune, ""Garrison’s Raiders."
At Last samples top-shelf New York jazz from the 1950s and makes for a necessary addition to Tony Scott’s too-thin available catalog. For Bill Evans fans, this fascinating document is required listening.
Songs: Like Someone In Love; Walkin’; I Can’t Get Started; Free And Easy Blues; My Melancholy Baby; Stella By Starlight; I’ll Remember April; Night In Tunisia; Garrison’s Raiders.
Players: Tony Scott: clarinet; Bill Evans: piano; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Pete LaRoca: drums.
Organist Richard "Groove" Homes (1931-91) recorded prolifically over three decades for Pacific Jazz, Loma, Blue Note, Groove Merchant, Flying Dutchman, Versatile and Muse. But it was the dozen records he made for Prestige between 1965 and 1968 that scored him the biggest hits of his career ("Misty") and some of his most memorable music. On this collection, his second in the "Legends of Acid Jazz" series, two of his 1966 sessions are paired up: his third Prestige LP (Living Soul) and, I think, his fifth (Spicy!).
The first five songs here originally made up the LP, Living Soul>, a live recording capturing Holmes’s trio at Count Basie’s night club. An additional 14 titles were taped during this performance, but unfortunately and unexplainably, they remain unreleased. Groove cooked live and, with the possible exception of a light takes on "The Girl from Ipanema" and a livelier than expected "Over the Rainbow," this is one expertly delivered program. Holmes knew how to work a groove, and he plays well to his audience. He’s on throughout – especially on highlights like Gerald Wilson’s "Blues For Yna Yna" and "Gemini" -- aided by Gene Edward’s smooth guitar runs and George Randall’s fatback trap work.
The studio session that resulted in Spicy! boasts the tasty contributions of guitarist Boogaloo Joe Jones - alternating with the surprisingly Scofield-like guitar of Gene Edwards - in his second Prestige recording (not the first, as the liner notes indicate). Groove goes for even more popular than usual fare here ("1-2-3," "Never on Sunday" and "If I Had a Hammer"), but fortunately the unreleased "Teach Me Tonight" (a regrettable Jimmy McGriff staple) is not included on this program. The intensity which launched Groove’s cover of "Misty" into such a huge hit is thoroughly in evidence throughout this smoking set and Holmes is firmly in his element during this poppy, but cooking session. A welcome addition to a great organist’s too-thin catalog.
Songs: Living Soul; Blues for Yna Yna; The Girl from Ipanema; Gemini; Over the Rainbow; If I Had a Hammer; Never on Sunday; Manhã de Carnaval; 1-2-3; Boo-D-Doo; Work Song; When Lights Are Low; Old Folks.
Players: Richard "Groove" Holmes: organ; Gene Edwards, Boogaloo Joe Jones: guitar; George Randall, Richard Landrum: drums.