Early Byrd: The Best of the Jazz Soul Years contains a selection of nine tracks from Donald Byrd's mid-'60s recordings, bypassing his funkier fusions of the late '60s and early '70s. These songs – including such numbers as "Slow Drag," "Jellyroll," "Mustang," "Blackjack" and "The Dude" – feature the trumpeter at his grittiest and funkiest. Fans of his early hard bop years will still find enough improvisation here to make it interesting, while latter-day fans will find enough grooves. It's a solid introduction to one of Byrd's most prolific periods.
This 1996 single-CD reissues the complete contents of two former LPs by the Oscar Peterson Trio (consisting of pianist Peterson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen) in 1959 and 1962. Although the pianist is virtually always the lead voice, Brown and Thigpen both make strong (if subtle) contributions to the music. Highlights include "Liza," "Con Alma," "Waltz for Debby," Brown's "The Gravy Waltz" and "Yours Is My Heart Alone." An above-average release (and rather generous at 74 minutes) from the much-recorded Oscar Peterson.
I must admit I winced when I read the label information, especially the bit about "The Enchanted Melody From The Shirley Temple Show". My fears were virtually groundless, however. This is a good big band, with plenty of soloists, and an arranger (Harry Betts, late of the Kenton trombone section) who treats these television and film themes with praiseworthy perfunctoriness. ~ Alun Morgan
This two-fer CD pairs 1972's Live at the Lighthouse with the less impressive, though still worthy, 1974 album Kharma, which was recorded at that year's Montreux Jazz Festival. As the head of a sextet on Live at the Lighthouse, Earland spearheaded some first-class soul-jazz, which integrated some funk and rock of the early '70s without sounding like a watered-down cocktail of all those styles (as many other soul-jazz-pop albums of the time did). The horn section of James Vass on sax and Elmer Coles on trumpet leaned more toward soul than jazz, as heard on the opening instrumental cover of Sly & the Family Stone's "Smilin'." The Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" wasn't the greatest tune to attempt, though Earland gamely put it into a boppish swing arrangement.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. A sweet Atlantic soul groover from Brother Jack McDuff – and a set that has him tightening up his Hammond sound from his earlier years at Prestige Records! The tunes here are short and punched-up – almost instrumental soul numbers in their construction, but still filled with plenty of jazz – thanks to Jack's mad solos on organ, and some killer drums from Joe Dukes and Bernard Purdie! Other players include George Coleman on tenor, Cornell Dupree on guitar, and Buddy Lucas on baritone sax – and arrangements are by JJ Jackson and Jack himself.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Drummer Grassella Oliphant's The Grass Is Greener is as good as it is rare. One of many soulful organ jazz dates that have gained cult status among sample hungry hip-hop and acid jazz devotees, this 1967 Atlantic album is packed with great playing and solid grooves (besides recording only one other album as a leader, his 1965 debut The Grass Roots, Oliphant also appeared on dates by singer Gloria Lynne and organist Shirley Scott, among others). With guitarist Grant Green and B-3 master John Patton completing the classic organ combo setup, the trio particularly stretch out on fine numbers like "Cantaloupe Woman" and Patton's own "Soul Woman."
Super Soul was a little funkier than much soul-jazz that had passed before 1967, and its horn parts sometimes slanted more toward pop and soundtrack territory. That was particularly evident on one of the strongest cuts, the opening "Why Don't You Do Right?," where the rhythm (particularly with the aid of a conga drum) goes into grooves that are at least as much soul as jazz, and the horns have a TV adventure theme-like flavor. The album's a little on the innocuous side, even for a genre (Prestige 1960s soul-jazz) that can be pretty homogeneous. It's easygoing background party music, though Holmes summons an interesting light, prickly, almost vibes-like organ sound at times, as on the solo for the cover of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar."