Sonny Stitt goes Latin – and the results are tremendous! The set's still got all the soulful feel of the best Stitt sessions for Roost, but it brings in some nice Latin rhythms too – inflecting things with that blend of soul jazz and congas you might find over at Prestige or Blue Note, yet also taking things further, too – given the Roost/Roulette connection to the New York Latin scene! Sonny plays both alto and tenor, and gets jazzy accompaniment from Thad Jones on trumpet – but the rhythm section is the real charmer here – and features a young Chick Corea on piano, Larry Gales on bass, and the trio of Willie Bobo, Patato Valdes, and Chihuaua Martinez on percussion! Most tunes are originals – a great change from the usual Latinized standards you might find on a set like this – and Stitt's got this nicely exotic tone in his reeds which is a further highlight of the record – almost a Yusef Lateef inflection at points.
A great Capitol moment from pianist Paul Smith – an artist who really cut some of his best material ever for the label ! The Smith sound is at the height of its powers here in the late 50s — kind of a blend of jazz and more easy-going pianistic modes — often stretched out with lots of flourishes by Smith on the keys, but never the too-flowery styles used by some of his contemporaries ! Instead, Paul keeps things nice and lean — always enough to be plenty swinging in all the right moments — with quartet help from Barney Kessel on guitar, Joe Mondragon on bass, and Stan Levey on drums.
Movie themes, along with songs from Broadway, have long been fodder for jazz musicians. This United Artists LP features Jerome Richardson leading his working quintet during a live engagement, though the venue is unidentified. The extended workout of Duke Jordan's "No Problem" (from the film Les Liaisons Dangereuses) showcases Richardson's robust baritone sax and Les Spann on flute, with the leader adding a tag at the end on piccolo. Richardson switches to tenor sax and Spann to guitar for a rather brisk arrangement of "Moon River." "Tonight" (from West Side Story) is a bit unusual in that it features both musicians on flute.
A holy grail of jazz – Roy Ayers' first album as a leader, and a near-lost session that's simply sublime! The record was cut at the same time that Roy was working in LA with pianist Jack Wilson – and it's got an approach that's a bit similar to some of the Wilson/Ayers sessions for Atlantic, Blue Note, and Vault – but with a marked difference here in the presence of Curtis Amy, who plays some incredible tenor and soprano sax on the session – arcing out over the modal lines set up by the vibes and piano, and shading in the record with a much deeper sense of soul! Amy plays on about half the album's tracks – all of which are standout modal tunes that preface the MPS/Saba sound by a number of years, and which we'd easily rank as some of the greatest jazz recorded anywhere in the 60s.
Features 24 bit digital remastering. Comes with a description. Originally released on Atlantic in 1957, the short-lived bop quintet les Jazz Modes performed excerpts from Frank Loesser's third Broadway musical The Most Happy Fella. This tasteful date features Julius Watkins on French horn (and pre-Thelonious Monk) and tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, accompanied by pianist Gildo Mahones, bassist, Martin Rivera, drummer Ron Jefferson, and, for this date only, vocalist Eileen Gilbert was added on "My Heart Is So Full of You."
Features 24 bit digital remastering. Comes with a description. A firey stormer from the great Slide Hampton! The album's one of his few early sides for Atlantic – and like the others, it's a groundbreaking batch of larger group material, with slide out front on trombone, and the rest of the ensemble vamping along like a tight Blue Note combo. Players are excellent – and include George Coleman on tenor, Horace Parlan on piano, Hobart Dotson on trumpet, and Ray Barretto on drums – and Slide makes them come together so tightly, you'd think they were working together every night of the week! Titles include "The Barbarians", "Strollin", "The Jazz Twist", "Red Top", "Slide Slid", and "Day In Day Out".
A great album recorded in 1963 for Atlantic – one of our favorite ever! Jack Wilson's one of our favorite piano players, and we rave about him all the time on these pages – and one of the reasons why we love him so much is that he was often accompanied by Roy Ayers, who started out his career playing vibes in his group! The pair together are a dream, and this album is arguably their best effort – filled with moody modal cuts, and lots of lyrical interplay that hits these beautiful high points, then dives into pits of darkness. Titles include "Harbor Freeway", "De Critifeux", "Corcovado", "Jackleg", and "Nirvana & Dana".
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Somethin' Sanctified is an album by American jazz trombonist, composer and arranger Slide Hampton which was released on the Atlantic label in 1961. In 1959, trombonist Slide Hampton was known mainly for the excellent arrangements he did for the Maynard Ferguson Band, so it was no surprise that he formed his octet band and began making a serious bid for recognition as a top jazz artist and arranger, recording his first album for the small label Strand. His impact was immediate and in 1960 Slide signed for Atlantic resulting in two studio albums, Sister Salvation and Somethin Sanctified, which were the octets first for the label.
Reissue with the latest 2015 DSD remastering. Comes with liner notes. Pianist Denny Zeitlin is sporting a beard on the cover of this fourth album for Columbia Records – and his music here definitely reflects a bit of a change from his earlier cleaner-cut image! Denny steps a bit outside at times – never to much so to make the album a session of avant jazz, but definitely showing the listener at the start that he's able to stretch out in the same way as some of the more adventurous pianists of his generation – yet really sound best as a master of lyrical understatement, as on his previous few records! Zeitlin's command of chords is wonderful – these blocks of color and subtle sound in his hands – inspired by Bill Evans, but taken in a whole new direction – and set up here in two different trios, with either Charlie Haden or Joe Halpin on bass, and Oliver Johnson or Jerry Granelli on drums. The real star of the show is always Denny.
Guitarist Gabor Szabo's debut as a leader (after an important stint with the Chico Hamilton Quintet) is surprisingly successful. The reason this LP is a bit of a surprise is that the repertoire (in addition to two originals apiece by the leader and Gary McFarland) has a few unlikely songs by the Beatles ("Yesterday" and "If I Fell") and Burt Bacharach (including "Walk On By"). Usually jazz adaptations of rock songs in the 1960s are lightweight, but Szabo's original sound, the unusual instrumentation (two or three guitars, Sadao Watanabe on flute, Gary McFarland on marimba, bass, drums and percussion) and McFarland's clever arrangements uplift the music. The playing time at 35 minutes is a bit brief, but the performances are better than expected.