Big-toned tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano is a truly unpredictable talent, constantly pushing into new directions and contexts for his playing. On FOLK ART, his 21st recording for Blue Note and first album of entirely original material, Lovano debuts a new band, Us Five. With two drummers, Lovano can utilize and explore both funk and Afro-Cuban rhythms and work them into a context that includes hard bop and the post-John Coltrane era innovations. Simply put, this is a powerful, rhythm-charged session where leader and band push the envelope without leaving the audience behind.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. Comes with a descripton in Japanese. A great Art Blakey lineup here, as usual – filled with fire from younger musicians who are really finding their voice in the Jazz Messengers – a group that includes Terence Blanchard on trumpet, Donald Harrison on alto, Jean Toussaint on tenor, and Mulgrew Miller on piano!
Centered around the Byrd/Adams Blue Note dates Byrd in Hand, Chant, Royal Flush, The Cat Walk, and Off to the Races, Mosaic's Complete Blue Note Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Studio Sessions finds the Detroit natives at the top of their game during 1959-1962. Writing and performing some of the most original and tight hard bop around, Byrd and Adams led a variety of combos that featured the likes of Herbie Hancock (his first session), Wynton Kelly, Duke Pearson (who also contributed material), Charlie Rouse, Sam Jones, and Billy Higgins. From distinct covers ("Lover Come Back to Me") to seamlessly complex originals ("Bronze Dance"), Byrd's pure-toned trumpet and Adams' angular baritone unexpectedly make a perfect match. And beyond a wealth of sides that prove the point, the collection also features – in typically thorough and classy Mosaic fashion – some stunning session photos by Blue Note lensman Francis Wolff and an extensive essay by Bob Blumenthal. A hard bop experience of the highest order.
THE COMPLETE QUARTETS WITH SONNY CLARK includes the albums NIGERIA, GOODEN'S CORNER and OLEO as well as 3 additional tracks. This two-disc set gathers together the cuts for three Blue Note sessions teaming Grant Green with Sonny Clark. The first, NIGERIA, was originally release posthumously in 1980 and features Green's only collaboration with drummer Art Blakey. GOODEN'S CORNER and OLEO were both only released in Japan in 1979 and 1980, respectively. The latter two sessions featured Louis Hayes on drums along with Sam Jones, the bassist for all three albums. Luckily these sessions have been carefully restored and release for all to hear.
Most of the titles on this album are derived from Thelonious Monk's vast catalog of bop standards. Both co-leaders are at the peak of their respective prowess with insightful interpretations of nearly half a dozen inspired performances from this incarnation of the Blakey-led Jazz Messengers. This combo features Art Blakey (drums), Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Bill Hardman (trumpet), and Spanky Debrest (bass). Immediately, Hardman ups the ante with a piledriving lead during "Evidence" that underscores the heavy-hitting nature of this particular jazz confab. Monk counters with some powerful and inspired runs that are sonically splintered by the enthusiastic – if not practically percussive – chord progressions and highly logistic phrasings from the pianist. The inherent melodic buoyancy on "In Walked Bud" contains a springboard-like quality, with Griffin matching Monk's bounce measure for measure.
One of the most accessible of all jazz pianists, Gene Harris' soulful style (influenced by Oscar Peterson and containing the blues-iness of a Junior Mance) was immediately likable and predictably excellent. After playing in an Army band (1951-1954), he formed a trio with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Bill Dowdy which was, by 1956, known as the Three Sounds. The group was quite popular, and recorded regularly during 1956-1970 for Blue Note and Verve. Although the personnel changed and the music became more R&B-oriented in the early '70s, Harris retained the Three Sounds name for his later Blue Note sets. He retired to Boise, ID, in 1977, and was largely forgotten when Ray Brown persuaded him to return to the spotlight in the early '80s. Harris worked for a time with the Ray Brown Trio and led his own quartets in the years to follow, recording regularly for Concord and heading the Phillip Morris Superband on a few tours; 1998's Tribute to Count Basie even earned a Grammy nomination.
Duke Pearson rises to the challenge of writing for an all-star octet (with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, trombonist Garnett Brown, altoist James Spaulding, Jerry Dodgion on alto and flute, Stanley Turrentine on tenor, bassist Gene Taylor, drummer Grady Tate, and the leader/pianist), contributing colorful frameworks and consistently challenging compositions. The set is full of diverse melodies (the CD reissue has a previously unissued take of "Los Malos Hombres") played by a variety of distinctive soloists; many of these songs deserve to be revived. This is one of the finest recordings of Duke Pearson's career.