Art Blakey, without any Jazz Messengers – but still coming through loud and clear, thanks to help from a unique group that features Sonny Stitt on tenor, McCoy Tyner on piano, and Art Davis on bass! The album's still got all the hardbop charm of Blakey's best Blue Note dates, but also feels a bit more spontaneous too – and the basslines of Davis are a wonderful change from the usual – beautiful sounds that drive the record quite strongly up from the bottom! Titles include the killer "Cafe", plus "Blues Back", "Just Knock On My Door", "Summertime", and "The Song Is You" – and the album features fantastic blowing from Stitt!
One of the greatest recordings ever made by John Coltrane in his late years – a spare set of duets with drummer Rashied Ali, recorded in 1967, but never issued until after his death! Trane and Ali play in a free spiritualist mode, with no other accompaniment – making for a very unique album, especially for the time, and setting the tone for years of New York improvisation in the 70s. Titles include "Mars", "Venus", "Jupiter", and "Saturn".
Unreleased gems from Coltrane – recorded near the end of his life, in 1967, with a quartet that includes Alice Coltrane on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Rashied Ali on drums. The tracks are free – but not as free as work on a record like OM – more in the mode of Ali and Trane's work on the Interstellar Space LP. Titles include "Jimmy's Mode", "Tranesonic", "Seraphic Light", "Sun Star", and "Iris" – and the CD version is extra-packed with music, and includes some bonus alternate takes!
Key 60s material from the great John Coltrane – even if the set wasn't ever released until the late 70s! The album's kind of a "prequel" to the later Meditations record, and it stands as a key bridge between Coltrane's modal years and his more spiritual sounds – delivered here by a core quartet, without the larger accompaniment that graced the later version! The classic quartet is at their best – McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums – and the sound is slightly more inside than later, but no less filled with searching and yearning! CD version contains a 12 minute extended alternate take of "Joy", the centerpiece of the composition.
Ascension is the single recording that placed John Coltrane firmly into the avant-garde.
A fantastic early album fromTom Scott – cut when he was still a teenager, and a record that combines some sonic adventurousness with hard bop leaning sounds! Scott, especially on his early albums, is one heck of a reed player, and can get as funky as the best of them. This LP includes a massive breakbeat track called "Rural Still Life #26", plus a lot of other nice ones that mix jazz, funk, and grooviness – which may have made it a hard sell at the time, but the blend of the bold and the more easygoing sounds is pretty sweet today. Scott's quartet includes Mike Lang on keyboards, Chuck Damanico on bass, and John Guerin on drums. Titles "Freak In", "Juss Messin' Around", and "With Respect To Coltrane". A great one, and don't pass it up!
A rare gem from Zoot Sims – very different than any of his other albums! The session features Zoot blowing over large backings arranged and conducted by Gary McFarland, a bit in the older Verve "with strings" mode, but also sparkling with a lot of the newer elements that McFarland was bringing to his work at the time. The approach is both light and lush at the same time – and Zoot's got a tone and approach that we've never heard on any other record, making the whole album an incredible treat that we'd rank up there with Stan Getz's experiments of the same type from the 60s. Titles include "I Wish I Knew", "Does The Sun Really Shine On The Moon", "Once We Loved", "Old Folks", "September Song", "Stella By Starlight", and "Once I Could Have Loved".
A great counterpart to some of Archie Shepp's studio albums for Impulse – a live date recorded in San Francisco, with a slightly freer, sharper edge! The sound is almost free at times, but always with that strong sense of focus that Archie brought to his brilliant work of the time – and the group's a well-honed ensemble who really understand each others motivations and inspirations – Roswell Rudd on trombone, Donald Garrett and Lewis Worrell on bass, and Beaver Harris on drums – all almost working at an ESP level together. Shepp plays a bit of piano on the record – in sharply angular tones that are almost more modern than his tenor – and titles include "The Wedding", "Wherever June Bugs Go", and "Keep Your Heart Right".
Oliver Nelson's follow-up to his classic Blues & The Abstract Truth session for Impulse – and like that one, a tremendous little album – filled with deep tones and wonderful colors in sound! The group here's a bit larger than before – an ensemble that includes Phil Woods on alto, Ben Webster on tenor, Thad Jones on trumpet, Pepper Adams on baritone, Roger Kellaway on piano, Richard Davis on bass, and Grady Tate on drums. The album includes some superb original compositions by Nelson – just the kind of overlooked jazz numbers that make the set great – and as with most of his arrangements from the time, there's a perfect balance between group force and intimate solo space! Titles include "The Critic's Choice", "Blues & The Abstract Truth", "One For Bob", and 2 versions of Dave Brubeck's "Theme From Mr. Broadway".
Fantastic late Coltrane work – recorded in 1966 and 1967, but not issued until this release from 1978! The record features 4 tracks from the golden years. Two cuts – "Leo" and "Jupiter (Variations)" feature Coltrane playing spare, beautiful duets with Rashied Ali on drums. The track "Number One" features Trane in a quartet with Alice Coltrane on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Ali on drums. And "Peace On Earth" features Alice, Charlie Haden, Ali, and Pharoah Sanders. It was previously issued with overdubbed strings on the World Galaxy album – but it's issued here in the better stripped-down version. Very nice – and essential Coltrane material!