Al Caiola’s mastery of the guitar was always abundantly clear, both in his recordings as a studio musician and in his stage performances, and it is just as self-evident in these two albums and in his relationship with the two solid jazz groups that accompany him on them. "High Strung" was recorded in 1959, and without climbing way out on a limb, Al and his supporting cast of guitars—George Barnes, Al Cassamenti, Don Arnone, John Pizzarelli, and Billy Bauer—set new ideas to a solid swinging beat in “electrifying” up-tempo evergreens and a couple of his own compositions, backed by an excellent rhythm section.
The name of Al Caiola has been part of that very select fraternity of studio musicians who were heard on most of New York’s top rated television and recording assignments from the 40s up to the 70s. There’s a distinctive style and approach in his playing which made for a “sound.” On these recordings, Caiola joined forces with Don Arnone, another top-class, revered and busy studio jazz and pop guitarist. Both men get the chance to swing on these albums featuring two dozen well-known standards and originals, which showcase how well their unique styles blend.
Walter Wanderley's understanding of and digital skill with bossa nova rhythm patterns was enviable, comparable only to Joao Gilbertos genius. With dozens of phony, unmusical albums of Brazilian jazz and pop music inundating American record shops since bossa nova happily emerged from Brazil in mid-1962, Walter Wanderleys swinging style at the Hammond console epitomized the finest in authentic Brazilian entertainment.
Liner notes from LP. It begins simply. The rhythm mounts, gradually becoming more complex. Enter the darting, graceful flute. Moments later, the piano and guitar make the pickup simultaneously. Now the pace is torrid. The performance frantic. It's JAZZ HEAT–BONGO BEAT! This is an exciting cohesion of authentic Latin music and American jazz… an unusual and profitable partnership into new and modern sounds. The rhythm section: Larry Bunker is the drummer; Tony Reyes, the bassist; on bongos, Carlos Mejia; and the conga drummer, Darias.
Over the years many people have asked, "Will the real Robben Ford please stand up?" Those are the people who wonder if the singer/guitarist is really a blues-rock vocalist or a jazz fusion instrumentalist at heart. But truth be told, Ford is many different things. He is genuinely eclectic, which is why one never really knows from one album to the next what direction he will take. Blue Moon, Ford's first album for Concord Jazz, is primarily a vocal date. Ford gets in his share of inspired guitar solos, and he provides one instrumental: the gutsy "Indianola." But most of the time he sings. And as a vocalist, he favors an exciting blend of blues, rock, and soul on tracks like "Something for the Pain," "Don't Deny Your Love," and "The Way You Treated Me (You're Gonna Be Sorry)." Meanwhile, "It Don't Make Sense (You Can't Make Peace)" and the moody "Make Me Your Only One" are among the CD's more jazz-tinged vocal offerings. Ford does not embrace a standard 12-bar blues format on all of the material, but then, he never claimed to be a blues purist.
Still going strong at the age of 81, legendary jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal's love letter to his favorite Broadway, Hollywood, and Great American Songbook classics, Blue Moon, is arguably one of his most accomplished efforts since his Chess/Impulse! heyday. The Pittsburgh virtuoso, once credited by Miles Davis as a major influence on his career, shows that age is no barrier to invention with six exquisite reworkings of postwar standards.