Two classics from saxophonist John Handy – records that really made him a household name in the 70s! Hard Work is the biggest moment ever for saxophonist John Handy – an album that crossed over big, thanks to a tremendously funky title cut! Handy first rose to fame back in the 60s – playing modernist jazz with Charlies Mingus, and opening up on his own in a stretch of great albums that evolved from hardbop, to modal jazz, to some even freer world jazz experiments in the 70s. Here, though, he's back in very soulful territory – working in a combo that has keyboards and guitar, and plenty of grooves that are somewhere in a space between early 70s CTI/Kudu and similar dates on Cadet or Prestige Records!
Amazing work from Marion Brown – two albums we'd never be without! Geechee Recollections is quite possibly our favorite record ever from reedman Brown – and very different than both his seminal 60s recordings, and his European sides from later years! There's a really earthy feel to this record – one that really lives up to the title, and which comes from the use of lots of percussion, played by just about every group member, ala AACM – but handled in a style that's warmly spiritual, and very organic too – right in line with the best Impulse Records vibe of the time, yet completely its own thing too! Brown plays alto and soprano sax, and is working with players who include Leo Smith on trumpet, William Malone on mbira and autoharp, James Jefferson on bass, and Steve McCall, Jumma Santos, Bill Hasson, and A Kobena Adzenyah on percussion – in addition to percussion plays by other group members too.
This collection is evidence that there really are bargains on the compact disc market. Both albums presented here, Ahmad Jamal at the Top: Poinciana Revisited and Freeflight, offer excellent portraits of the great pianist in transition at the end of the '60s and beginning of the '70s. Both feature Jamal's great rhythm section of bassist Jamil Sulieman Nasser and drummer Frank Grant. The first date was recorded in in 1969 at the Top of the Village Gate in New York City. Its reveals Jamal playing in a more driving, percussive style, though he keeps his utterly elegant chord voicings intact.
This set combines two of Sonny Rollins' LPs for Impulse Records, There Will Never Be Another You and On Impulse!, both of which were originally issued in 1965. There Will Never Be Another You featured the saxophonist playing a live set (in the rain, apparently) with pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and Billy Higgins and Mickey Roker on drums. Rollins is in fine form, playing standards including a nearly 17-minute version of the title tune.
A pair of enhanting Impulse sets from '67 – Sorceror and More Sorcery – together in a single set! Sorcerer is one of the best albums ever by the great Eastern European guitarist, and a groovy set of spiralling jazz tracks, recorded live at The Jazz Workshop with a two-guitar frontline, and backing by a very tight rhythm combo. The sound is amazing, with lots of choppy modal grooves, and other longer tracks that have a vaguely mystical feel to them. Titles include "The Beat Goes On", "Space", "Mizrab", "O Barquinho", and "Lou-ise". More Sorcery is the great sort of a follow-up – and like that one, it features long tracks that have a spiralling modal feel that's much more serious, much more grooving, and a lot less campish than some of his other albums of the time. The two-guitar lineup mixes rhythm and melody – perfect for the tunes on the set, like "Los Matadoros", "Spellbinder", "Comin Back", and "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds".