Many improvisers would agree that having the feeling of the blues is a crucial part of jazz expression; however, the jazz and blues worlds don't interact nearly as often as they should. There are jazz musicians who will play Miles Davis' "All Blues" or Charlie Parker's "Parker's Mood" on a regular basis but wouldn't know John Lee Hooker from Little Milton; there are blues artists who are much more likely to work with a rock musician than a jazz musician. So it is a rare treat to hear a blues-oriented guitarist and a jazz-oriented guitarist co-leading a session, which is exactly what happens on More Conversations in Swing Guitar. This 2003 release is a sequel to bluesman Duke Robillard and jazzman Herb Ellis' 1999 encounter Conversations in Swing Guitar, and the CD proves that good things can happen when jazz and blues players interact. More Conversations in Swing Guitar is an album of very blues-minded instrumental jazz – it's hardly a carbon copy of Robillard's work with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, but the bluesman has no problem appearing in a jazz-oriented setting.
Here's the final of a series of excellent recordings that he made for Emarcy in the 1950s, all of which have been reissued by Emarcy in Japan. One of the greatest records ever cut by altoist Herb Geller, and one of the few to document the work of his group that included wife Lorraine Geller on piano! Lorraine's quite nice, and the rhythm by Keith Mitchell and Mel Lewis is good too – but the real wonder is Herb's alto, which cuts along in a razor-sharp mode that clearly defines him as one of the best players of his generation on the instrument! The set's one of the few times you can really hear Herb cut loose – unencumbered by overwritten arrangements, or by other players in the group – and its his work on the album that makes this record a treasure!
Here's the second of a series of excellent recordings that he made for Emarcy in the 1950s, all of which have been reissued by Emarcy in Japan. Nice job. Talking about the music this is another special West Coast Jazz gem. The album is from 1955 and the line up is Herb alto sax, his wife Lorraine Geller piano, the exceptional Conte Candoli on trumpet, Red Mitchell and Leroy Vinnegar bass (alternatively), Ziggy Vines tenor sax, Bruz Freeman drums. The music is on the medium tempo side for the most part, a nice relaxed West Coast mood emerges from the notes of this sessions through a solid swing.
This release contains the outstanding album The Midnight Roll (Epic Stereo BA17034), featuring two All-Star small group formations including Roy Eldridge or Dukes of Dixieland’s Frank Assunto on trumpet, Buddy Tate on tenor sax, Ray Bryant on piano, and on some tracks, the ill-fated bassist Israel Crosby, who is best know for his work with Ahmad Jamal Trio.
The very first release by the Concord label was a quartet set featuring guitarists Herb Ellis and Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Jake Hanna. Ellis and Pass (the latter was just beginning to be discovered) always made for a perfectly complementary team, constantly challenging each other. The boppish music (which mixes together standards with "originals" based on the blues and a standard) is quite enjoyable with the more memorable tunes including "Look for the Silver Lining," "Honeysuckle Rose," "Georgia," "Good News Blues," and "Bad News Blues." This was a strong start for what would become the definitive mainstream jazz label.