With every recording Omar Sosa releases, his horizons continue to broaden within the context of world ethnic fusion, but with Across the Divide, he's bettered himself yet again. This collection of jazz-influenced, Latin-tinged music crosses the disparate genres of country folk and tribal sounds, recognizing the migration of the banjo from Africa to the Eastern seaboard of America, and percussion from the griot village to the rural Mid-Atlantic. In collaboration with vocalist and story teller Tim Eriksen, Sosa merges rhythm and ancestry via inspiration from Langston Hughes, John Coltrane, King Sunny Ade, Pete Seger, and contemporary bluesman Otis Taylor as popular reference points.
Tenor Stan Getz and valve-trombonist Bob Brookmeyer made a mutually beneficial team. Although they had not played together all that much in 1954 (Brookmeyer had left Getz's band earlier in the year to join the Gerry Mulligan Quartet), the strong musical communication between the two horns during this set is obvious. Eight of the ten selections are from a live concert (with pianist John Williams, bassist Bill Anthony, and drummer Art Mardigan) while the final two numbers (on what was originally a pair of LPs) were cut in the studio the following day with the same personnel except that Frank Isola was on drums. Highlights of this cool-toned bop music (which, in addition to the solos, has many exciting ensembles) include "Lover Man," "Pernod," "Tasty Pudding," and "It Don't Mean a Thing."
Recorded during his five year "vacation" from Duke Ellington's orchestra, this Johnny Hodges set features his band sticking mostly to standards. With trumpeter Harold "Shorty" Baker, trombonist Lawrence Brown, baritonist Harry Carney, pianist Call Cobbs, or Richie Powell, bassist John Williams, drummer Louis Bellson, and either Jimmy Hamilton or John Coltrane (who unfortunately does not solo) on tenor, Hodges had a particularly strong group. High points include "On the Sunny Side of the Street," the title track and a seven-song ballad medley.