Oliver Nelson was one of the more distinctive arrangers to be active in jazz, the studios, and popular music of the '60s. While most Nelson reissues focus on his always-excellent saxophone playing (whether on tenor or alto), this six-CD set, Argo, Verve and Impulse Big Band Studio Sessions, focuses on Oliver Nelson the arranger-composer-bandleader. He does take solos on some of these dates on tenor, alto,and soprano (his only recorded solos on that instrument), but it his writing that takes center stage.
Phenomenal saxophonist Sam Butera and his band The Witnesses backed Louis Prima for almost 20 years. He also made recordings in his own right and two albums from 1960/61 are coupled here. All the excitement and good humour generated on Prima recordings is present with the music becoming even more intensified with Butera in the forefront. Many of these tracks have long been unavailable. Special re-mastered CD edition includes six bonus tracks plus detailed illustrated booklet.
Ray Charles was the musician most responsible for developing soul music. Singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson also did a great deal to pioneer the form, but Charles did even more to devise a new form of black pop by merging '50s R&B with gospel-powered vocals, adding plenty of flavor from contemporary jazz, blues, and (in the '60s) country. Then there was his singing; his style was among the most emotional and easily identifiable of any 20th century performer, up there with the likes of Elvis and Billie Holiday. He was also a superb keyboard player, arranger, and bandleader. The brilliance of his 1950s and '60s work, however, can't obscure the fact that he made few classic tracks after the mid-'60s, though he recorded often and performed until the year before his death.
An entry within Metro Doubles series, One, Two, Three & BJ4: The Legendary Albums is a two-CD set containing Bob James' first four albums, presented in chronological order. The set is a good way to pick up these four James' discs – not only is it a convenient, concise way to get the records, but they're presented well with good liner notes, including track-by-track commentary by Chris Ingham.