These distinctive small-group sessions, featuring Duke Ellington as pianist in a blues context, are part of a group of recordings issued under the confusing titles Back to Back and Side by Side, and further reissued under the not particularly distinctive name of Blues Summit. But there should be no confusion about the high quality of music that came out of these sessions – it is all "cooking with gas" as the expression goes. From the jazz world, it would be difficult to find more profound soloists on traditional blues numbers than the Duke or his longtime collaborator Johnny Hodges, who does some of the most soulful playing of his career here.
Two lost smokers from vibes legend Johnny Lytle – back to back on a single CD! The Soulful Rebel is lost early 70s set from Lytle – totally funky, but in a way that's very different than his famous 60s work! The album's got a sweet electric groove that comes not only from Johnny's vibes, but also from the sweet Hammond and Fender Rhodes of Billy Nunn, and the smoking guitar of David Spinozza – who really wails away here, and brings in a cutting edge to the tunes that's a lot sharper than some of his later work! Lytle's vibes are wonderful throughout – filled with that sense of space, soul, and timing that's always made him one of the grooviest players ever on the instrument – and this time around, he seems to have an even greater ear for unusual tones – in a way that makes the album sparkle strongly throughout!
Two gems from The Undisputed Truth – back to back in a single package. First up is Method To The Madness – a killer classic from the second chapter of the Undisputed Truth – that time when the group stepped away from their Motown home, and followed producer/creator Norman Whitfield to his own label in California. The shift of record companies also marks a cool shift in styles too – an approach that still has all the bold, bassy elements you'd know from the earlier hits – but one that also has some fuller, more cosmic elements too – which are hinted at by the image on the cover.