This single CD contains 12 performances by pianist Russ Freeman (with either Joe Mondragon or Monty Budwig on bass and drummer Shelly Manne) plus the one regular studio session (eight songs) that illfated pianist Richard Twardzik led (in a trio with bassist Carson Smith and drummer Peter Littman). Due to its rarity, the Twardzik date is more important historically but actually Freeman generally takes solo honors. Fine, straight-ahead music from two of the mid-'50s' more promising pianists.
The independent jazz reissue label Mosaic Records garnered a rightful reputation as industry leaders and enthusiast favorites with deluxe and strictly limited-edition packages such as this one. The contents of this four-LP/three-CD collection are derived from two performances during the summer of 1954 and feature the Chet Baker Quartet: Baker (trumpet/"boom bam" percussion), Russ Freeman (piano), Carson Smith (bass), and Bob Neel (drums). The two performances – recorded July 21 at Santa Cruz's Civic Auditorium and August 10 at The Tiffany Club in Los Angeles, respectively – are presented chronologically.
This essential four-LP box set features trumpeter Chet Baker leading his own group during the 1953-1956 period (shortly after the breakup of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet) with pianist Russ Freeman, either Bob Whitlock, Carson Smith, Joe Mondragon, Jimmy Bond, or Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Bobby White, Larry Bunker, Shelly Manne, Bob Neel, Peter Littman, or Lawrence Marable on drums. Baker is heard at his coolest (mostly before he became influenced by Miles Davis); some of the later selections also feature his first recorded vocals. Because the Mosaic box sets are limited editions, they should be acquired as soon as possible.
Since the Rippingtons do Russ Freeman's bidding, he hasn't found it necessary to do a full-fledged, regular solo album since he founded the group in 1986. (There have been duo albums with David Benoit and Craig Chaquico as well as a solo holiday record, however.) But listeners "started encouraging me to 'step out' more and to play more guitar," he writes in the liner notes to Drive, and "hence, this album," his first such release since 1985's Nocturnal Playground. That statement is the key to what distinguishes the disc from a Rippingtons album. Although Freeman has called upon a few guest musicians, with Chris Botti contributing muted trumpet work to "Soul Dance"…
For a long time, bassist David Ambrosio has been a vital part of the jazz scene in New York City and his playing has been documented on many releases, including the wonderful trio recordings by pianist Eri Yamamoto. In 2014, a new chapter began in Ambrosio's story when he released his first album as a leader on Fresh Sound New Talent: Gone. Here, he was in the good company of alto saxophonist Loren Stillman and drummer Russ Meissner. Both of them return on Ambrosio's second release in his own name, Moments in Time, with Meissner as the co-leader of the project.