Let Me Rock You is the third album released by former Kiss drummer Peter Criss. Due to poor sales for his previous album, Out of Control, Let Me Rock You was not released in the United States until 1998, when it was reissued on CD. The album was produced by Vini Poncia, who previously produced Criss's 1978 solo album (officially released as a Kiss album). Let Me Rock You features the song "Feels Like Heaven", written by Criss's former bandmate, Gene Simmons. Vinnie Cusano also co-wrote a song for the album; at the same year the album was released, Cusano became known as Vinnie Vincent when he replaced Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley. The album cover features Peter Criss for the first time without his Kiss makeup, as he didn't appear on the cover of his solo album Out of Control. One year later, Kiss also decided to take off their makeup for their Lick It Up album…
Along with tenor saxophonist Harold Land, altoist Sonny Criss qualifies as one of the most overlooked giants of West Coast jazz. His sound – like most alto players of the bebop and hard bop days – was heavily influenced by Charlie Parker, but Criss still managed to forge an original style featuring a very original melodic bent with loads of bluesy underpinnings. The goods can be optimally previewed on this great Prestige date from 1966. Backed by a trio consisting of pianist Walter Davis, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Alan Dawson, Criss makes fine work of such rare-bird covers as "Sunrise, Sunset" and "When Sunny Gets Blue." There are also some fine originals here, including Criss' own "Steve's Blues" and Davis' classic "Greasy." A perfect start to your Criss collection.
The Impulse 2-on-1 series is a mixed bag: "The Joy Of Sax" (1977) and "Warm And Sonny" (1976). Despite the fact that these recordings are over-produced in the extreme by Esmond Edwards, who jammed up the music with too much percussion, boring guitar solos and strings that were not needed, Sonny Criss and his brilliance on the alto saxophone still shines through. As these were Sonny's last two recordings, done just before his tragic death in 1977, they are worth having, and Sonny sounds beautiful, as always.
The brainchild of producer Gerry Teekens, United Soul Experience extricates trombonist Wycliffe Gordon from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra orbit and teams him with some of the most interesting young talent in the Criss Cross stable. Tradition-minded but not predictable, the music alludes to several jazz and funk styles without settling into any one of them. Gordon, tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, and pianist David Kikoski play like accomplished young veterans who continue to search for something more. Bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Bill Stewart generate a circuitous kind of swing, stating a pulse and deconstructing it in the same instance. The leader’s five compositions evince memorable melodies and impose just the right amount of organization to the band’s loose-jointed execution.
When it comes to New York’s top-shelf gigs, few pianists get the job done like David Hazeltine. Much sought for his sensitivity as an accompanist, Hazeltine is also an inventive composer and arranger who is able to bring a fresh approach to the mainstream. For his eighth set as a leader for Criss Cross, the pianist brings his talents to the fore with three originals, including a dedicatory For Cedar. Rounding out the set are a few select standards including a new twist on Dizzy Gillespie’s Tin Tin Deo.