This single CD contains 12 performances by pianist Russ Freeman (with either Joe Mondragon or Monty Budwig on bass and drummer Shelly Manne) plus the one regular studio session (eight songs) that illfated pianist Richard Twardzik led (in a trio with bassist Carson Smith and drummer Peter Littman). Due to its rarity, the Twardzik date is more important historically but actually Freeman generally takes solo honors. Fine, straight-ahead music from two of the mid-'50s' more promising pianists.
Mr. Bojangles pairs Sonny Stitt with arranger Don Sebesky for one of the smoothest and most mainstream-facing dates of the saxophonist's career. Sebesky's luminous treatments underscore the elegance of Stitt's soulful alto and tenor leads–Roland Hanna's graceful electric piano leads the music even closer to funk, but the overall emphasis is more on atmosphere than rhythm. The material likewise spotlights ballads and slow-burn groovers, borrowing liberally from the pop charts for tunes including "Killing Me Softly with His Song" and "Ben"–even War's "The World Is a Ghetto" simmers instead of boils.
The independent jazz reissue label Mosaic Records garnered a rightful reputation as industry leaders and enthusiast favorites with deluxe and strictly limited-edition packages such as this one. The contents of this four-LP/three-CD collection are derived from two performances during the summer of 1954 and feature the Chet Baker Quartet: Baker (trumpet/"boom bam" percussion), Russ Freeman (piano), Carson Smith (bass), and Bob Neel (drums). The two performances – recorded July 21 at Santa Cruz's Civic Auditorium and August 10 at The Tiffany Club in Los Angeles, respectively – are presented chronologically.
A double-length live set from the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet – recorded in Scandinavia in 1960, almost as a summation of the group's growing genius in the 50s! The tunes are a mix of John Lewis and Milt Jackson originals, plus other songs all given the wonderful MJQ twist – distilled into a sublime blend of piano, vibes, bass, and drums – all delivered with a sense of class, but never too much polish. The album is live, but still has that sophisticated composure that made the group so unique at the time – and the whole thing's a perfect complement to their famous studio albums on Atlantic!
This essential four-LP box set features trumpeter Chet Baker leading his own group during the 1953-1956 period (shortly after the breakup of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet) with pianist Russ Freeman, either Bob Whitlock, Carson Smith, Joe Mondragon, Jimmy Bond, or Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Bobby White, Larry Bunker, Shelly Manne, Bob Neel, Peter Littman, or Lawrence Marable on drums. Baker is heard at his coolest (mostly before he became influenced by Miles Davis); some of the later selections also feature his first recorded vocals. Because the Mosaic box sets are limited editions, they should be acquired as soon as possible.
In 1993, Bear Family released Night Beat/Mucho Puente, Plus, which contained two complete albums – Night Beat (1957) and Mucho Puente (1964), both originally released on RCA – by Latin jazz giant Tito Puente on one compact disc.