Les McCann Ltd. in San Francisco: Recorded Live at the Jazz Workshop was recorded in December of 1960 and released in 1961 on the Pacific Jazz label. Backing his piano were bassist Herbie Flowers and drummer Ron Jefferson. The original LP of this date featured seven selections – only about half of the entire gig. This Fresh Sound reissue contains four more tracks, bringing the total to 11.
A fantastic addition to the Barney Kessel catalog of the 50s – a never-heard live set that has the guitarist in form that's every bit as strong as his famous albums for Contemporary Records! In fact, the strength of the recording may well capture Kessel at a level that beats those sessions – as Barney's playing live, with a bit more bite – and really grabs us with the strong tone on his solos – and the sense of energy he gets in a quartet that also includes a young Pete Jolly on piano! The recording quality is excellent – crystal-clear, and very focused – and the set isn't one of those lost tapes that should have stayed "lost" – but instead a real lost chapter in Barney's tremendous career.
It may have made Bogart and Bergman immortal, but the song "As Time Goes By" curiously never became one of the many jazz standards of the day. So, to find it here in the company of other perennial songs from the jazz catalog is quite a treat. And even more impressive is the fact Carmen McRae is the one at the microphone. Recorded in 1973 at Tokyo's Dug jazz club, As Time Goes By finds McRae accompanying herself on piano. And if one wasn't quite sure whether to put Miss McRae in the same company as a Sarah Vaughan or Dinah Washington, then this collection of numbers should definitely tip the scales. Here is one of jazz's most underrated chanteuses spelling it all out.
Because the Jazz Crusaders in the early '70s dropped the "Jazz" from their name and later in the decade veered much closer to R&B and pop music than they had earlier, it is easy to forget just how strong a jazz group they were in the 1960s. This CD reissues one of their rarer sessions, augmenting the original seven-song LP program (highlighted by "Blues Up Tight," "Doin' That Thing," and "Milestones") with previously unissued versions of "'Round Midnight" and John Coltrane's "Some Other Blues." The Jazz Crusaders (comprised of tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder, trombonist Wayne Henderson, pianist Joe Sample, drummer Stix Hooper, and, during this period, bassist Leroy Vinnegar) are heard in prime form.
Some of Grant Green's hottest moments as a jazz-funk bandleader came on his live records of the era, which were filled with extended, smoking grooves and gritty ensemble interplay. Live at the Lighthouse makes a fine companion piece to the excellent Alive!, though there are some subtle differences which give the album its own distinct flavor. For starters, the average track length is even greater, with four of the six jams clocking in at over 12 minutes. That makes it easy to get lost in the grooves as the musicians ride and work them over.