There are as many flavours of jazz as there are pebbles on a beach, but the majority combine rhythmic invention with instrumental virtuosity to create a sound that can transport the listener to a different plane. Whether your ear is caught by the saxophone of Earl Bostic or Eddie Harris, the flute of Herbie Mann, Ray Charles’ effervescent keyboards (he played sax too) or the music of Cuban-born ‘King of the Mambo’ Perez Prado, whose 1958 US chart-topper ‘Patricia’ is familiar from countless movies and television ads,one thing is certain – the jazz instrumental still reigns supreme.
Quality is laced throughout It s Never Too Late, the first regular studio album featuring Emmanuel completely solo without guests since 2000. A friend and follower of the late Chet Atkins who christened Emmanuel a Certified Guitar Player, making him one of only five musicians to receive the C.G.P. distinction from the master Emmanuel easily skates between musical styles, playing with blues in One Mint Julep, infusing Spanish tradition in El Vaquero and exploring folk in The Duke. An accomplished fingerstyle player, Emmanuel frequently threads three different parts simultaneously into his material, operating as a one-man band who handles the melody, the supporting chords and the bass all at once. That expert layering is evident in It s Never Too Late on the quixotic Only Elliott, the calming title track and the gorgeous Hellos And Goodbyes.
Freddie Hubbard's first recording as a leader, Open Sesame features the 22-year-old trumpeter in a quintet with tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks, the up-and-coming pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Clifford Jarvis. This set shows that even at this early stage, Hubbard had the potential to be one of the greats. On the ballad "But Beautiful" he shows maturity; other highlights include "Open Sesame," a driving "All or Nothing at All" and "One Mint Julep." It's an impressive start to what would be a very interesting career.
Three decades after the fact, people looking at releases like This Time by Basie would tend to dismiss it as pandering, Count Basie doing a "pops"-type outing – the cheesy cover art even emphasized the songs over Basie and his band. Nothing could be further from the truth, however – this 16-song release reveals a wonderful body of work, and deserves to be better known. For starters, This Time by Basie swings, smooth and easy but taut, or hot and heavy. From Sonny Payne's understated cymbal intro to "This Could Be the Start of Something Big" to the bluesier notes of "One Mint Julep," Basie and company sound like…