Other than a Bethlehem album in 1955 and a few obscure titles, all of vibraphonist Joe Roland's recordings as a leader are on this enjoyable CD reissue. Roland, best-known for an early '50s stint with George Shearing's Quintet, was a excellent vibist whose style fell somewhere between Terry Gibbs and Milt Jackson. He is paired in two 1954 quintets with either Freddie Redd (who plays conventional bop) and Wade Legge (sounding at his most eccentric) on piano. However the most memorable set is from 1950 for Roland is joined by guitar (Joe Puma), bass, drums and a string quartet. The writing for the strings (which is uncredited) is quite inventive and, although the strings do not solo, they sound very much like a jazz ensemble. It is particularly interesting to hear this instrumentation playing "Half Nelson," "Dee Dee's Dance" and Roland's original "Sally Is Gone"; guest singer Paula Castle does a fine job on the haunting "Love Is Just a Plaything." Recommended.
It's 1940s and Dizzy Gillespie's big band are at their absolute peak! Listening to this record makes me wonder why there ever became such a thing as jazz snobbery. This music doesn't sound like the domain for snobs. In fact it showcases jazz in a crucial and innovative place. Here we are in this place where swing and be-bop have long ago cross polinated eachother (one needed to have the other anyway:we all know in what way",you've got Dizzy whose at once both a great intellectual musician as well as being able to make it move. And here you have him playing with these…well nowadays you'd have to call them all stars such as Dexter Gordon, Milt Jackson, Charlie Parker, Cozy Cole, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Clarke…the list goes on like that and BIM BAM BOOM you've got big band be-bop!
This split LP pairs a sextet led by multi-instrumentalist Sahib Shihab with another under the direction of Herbie Mann. Big names all the way around on this one. On the Shihab session, John Jenkins and Clifford Jordan round out the front line, while Hank Jones, Addison Farmer, and Dannie Richmond hold down the rhythm. Mann, on the other hand, is joined by Phil Woods, Eddie Costa, Joe Puma, Wilbur Ware, and Jerry Segal. Nothing overly surprising here, but one can expect quality performances by all.
Recorded in 1955, originally issued on LP then reissued by the Japanese label Denon in 1995, and now made available on a digitally remastered CD, Mighty Mike was the tenorman's first album as a leader. It's a set that shows a bit of stylistic ambivalence as Cuozzo and the group find themselves moving between bop and mainstream jazz. The cut that best captures the musical philosophy of this group is "Underside," an original by Ronnie Ball. If there is such a thing as polite bop, this track is it. There's nothing frenetic or groundbreaking. Rather, this is relaxed, matter-of-fact approaching cerebral jazz played by more than competent musicians.
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.