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
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.
A landmark bit of indie funk from the 70s – one of the few records cut by Detroit keyboardist Eddie Russ, and easily the best! The album features Russ going to town on electric piano – working with a hip combo called The Mixed Bag, which features some wicked work on flute and soprano sax by Larry Nozero – and a vibe that's a lot more laidback than standard funk, or even more mainstream jazz funk too – a sweet open groove that's mighty nice all the way through! The album's really a showcase for Nozero and Russ' solos – trading back and forth effortlessly over long tunes that roll along in a sweet electric-tinged groove – long vamping rhythms that really seem to drive both players onto new heights.
Guitarist Ronnie Earl's realization that you don't need a vocalist to sing the blues freed him up to roam across the vernacular music landscape, dipping into jazz, gospel, and soul, and has made him one of the most innovative and interesting musicians working in contemporary blues. It's hardly a radical step, since scores of jazz musicians have been mining the blues for 80 years without vocalists, and in Earl's case it was a natural shift – maybe even an obvious one given that he has often cited John Coltrane as a predominant influence. On Now My Soul, his second release from Stony Plain Records, Earl moves a bit back to neutral ground on the vocal issue…
A far-reaching early gem from Roy Ayers – a set that's much more jazz-based than his later work, and a record that has him touching base with the Blue Note and Strata East sides of the jazz spectrum! The lineup here is incredibly hip – a mix of players that includes a young Charles Tolliver on trumpet, Harold Land and Joe Henderson on tenor, Jack Wilson on piano, and Reggie Workman on bass – not to mention Roy himself on some mighty great vibes! There's a surprising spiritual undercurrent to the music – pointing the way towards jazz to come in the 70s.
"After Hours" has become a widespread calling card for the area between midnight and twilight, when all the city falls asleep except for a collective of nocturnal beings. A whole new range of attitudes - diverse styles, open perception. After Hours is when the machine turns off -and when the mind turns on. In musical terms, it is the region outside categorization, the music that slips beyond the average stream of beats. It's not based on any beat pattern. After Hours is not ambient; nor is it acid-jazz, it's the area that exists in the gray area between them. Too quirky to hold any cliches too tightly; too loose for any grand agendas. After Hours eases the mind, softens the palette and opens the door to a new day.