Great work from Gloria Coleman – an overlooked genius on the organ, and part of an elite group of female keyboardists that includes Shirley Scott, Rhoda Scott, and Trudy Pitts! Coleman almost never got the chance to record, but clearly had a sharpness that was honed from years in the clubs – a tight, soulful approach to the instrument that also has her working the bass pedals as strongly as the keys – and an ability to sing at all the right times, in a soul-drenched mode that's even deeper than the vocalizations of Trudy Pitts on her late 60s albums for Prestige. The group's got James Anderson on tenor, Dick Griffin on trombone, Ray Copeland on flugelhorn, and Earl Dunbar on guitar – and titles include the funky "Bugaloo for Ernie", a great version of Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa", Blue Mitchell's "Fungi Mama".
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's tough-minded approach to the blues, country, Cajun, and jazz insures a minimum of nonsense and a maximum of variety, while his virtuosity on the guitar and fiddle insures the highest standards. Nonetheless, Brown's 1997 album is a landmark for the 73-year-old picker who won a Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award. All 13 tunes on Gate Swings find Brown working with his regular road quartet plus a 13-piece horn section, enabling him to prove that Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lionel Hampton have been as important to his music as any bluesman or Creole fiddler. Gate Swings includes tunes by all three of those big-band leaders as well as compositions by Buddy Johnson, Percy Mayfield, Louis Jordan, and Brown himself, and they all swing with the massive force that only a big horn section can muster. Brown has leaned in this direction before, but Gate Swings is special, because it features the horn arrangements of Wardell Quezergue, an alumnus of the Dave Bartholomew band who arranged many of the best New Orleans R&B hits in the '60s and '70s.