This two CD set features the complete recordings of Jimmy Cleveland as a leader. Trombonist Cleveland closely follows in the footsteps of the great J.J. Johnson. Fluid, dynamic solos over the great ensemble writing of Quincy Jones, Benny Golson and others. A must have for fans of trombone and mid-'50s post-Bop. One of the most exciting jazz trombonists of the 1950s, Jimmy Cleveland had a technique equal to that of Bill Watrous (who would not emerge until a decade later), an enthusiastic style that could hold its own with Frank Rosolino, and was the first important new voice on the trombone to emerge after J.J. Johnson.
As a former jazz pianist turned classical composer, Millikan unites these two worlds in the title cut, Ballad Nocturne, featuring renowned Italian pianist Emanuele Arciuli: a marriage of jazz ballad and classical nocturne. One hears shades of Chopin and Debussy as well as Miles’ Kind of Blue. ... Sparkling clustered string harmonics and bowed crotales hover over a lonely left-hand melody in the piano’s bass like twinkling stars. Weaving and mutating, constantly shifting and changing, Ballad Nocturne grows from a nucleus into profoundly expressive and intimate music.
This 1999 live set features the great drummer Elvin Jones leading an all-star group. The repertoire, comprised of three jazz standards (including John Coltrane's lesser-known "Wise One"), three originals and an adaptation of a folk song, generally featuring one or two soloists on each cut. The straight-ahead and basic "E.J.'s Blues" has spots for trumpeter Darren Barrett (who sounds a bit like Freddie Hubbard) and Jones, while "Straight No Chaser" puts the spotlight on trombonist Robin Eubanks (in a J.J. Johnson mood), pianist Carlos McKinney and the drummer.