Stride pianist Don Ewell made three albums for Good Time Jazz during 1956-57 and all are quite enjoyable. This CD reissues the first of his LPs (great title!) and features Ewell on five solos and seven pieces with a trio that also includes clarinetist Darnell Howard and drummer Minor Hall. Ewell is in top form and the many highlights include "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me," Howard's "Bush Street Scramble," "You Took Advantage of Me" and "My Honey's Lovin' Arms.
Kenny Barron and Jimmy Owens' first recording was a solid debut. The exciting title cut, "You Had Better Listen," composed by Jimmy Owens, is good, basic, uptempo jazz, nothing fancy, no frills. The Jimmy Owens-Kenny Barron Quintet doesn't condescend like some jazz artists tend to do; casuals can groove, relate, nod their heads in approval and feel righteous about it. Owens plays some beautiful trumpet scales, while Barron keeps busy banging chord progressions. The other members of the quintet are Benny Maupin (tenor sax, flute), Chris White (bass), Freddie Waits (drums on tracks one, two and four), and Rudy Collins (drums on tracks three through five).
If Micus’s saga were an ongoing raga, then 1983’s Listen to the Rain would be one of its most inward-looking prayers. All four meditations that make up the album, while externally distinct, are internally connected through Micus’s use of guitar. The Spanish variety plays a particularly active role throughout, with the sole exception of “Dancing with the Morning,” for which he pairs the ubiquitous steel-stringed with the suling, a bamboo flute often heard in gamelan ensembles of southeast Asia. Knowledgeable listeners will recognize both the rarity of the backpacker’s trusty companion in the Micus canon and its elemental necessity in this setting. The ascetic sheen of its metal strings paints a world of shine to which a human presence adds less manufactured colors. The suling’s unclipped wings, by extension, are exhaled into the sky above, circling and darting through the surrounding melodies until they take shape under cover of their own imagination.