An updating of the Faust legend, with a dash of Fritz Lang's "Der Müde Tod", to a 1950's Paris recreated in vividly abstract expressionistic sets. The film cost a small fortune to make and was virtually ignored on its release, demolished with vitriol by the critics of the Cahier du cinema. Because of that, its reputation is virtually zero. The film is, in fact, a gem of inventive, imaginative, technically stunning filmmaking totally out of reach for most of the New Wave directors.
Joe Williams' debut as the featured vocalist in Count Basie's band was one of those landmark moments that even savvy observers don't fully appreciate when it occurs, then realize years later how momentous an event they witnessed. Williams brought a different presence to the great Basie orchestra than the one Jimmy Rushing provided; he couldn't shout like Rushing, but he was more effective on romantic and sentimental material, while he was almost as spectacular on surging blues, up-tempo wailers, and stomping standards. Basie's band maintained an incredible groove behind Williams, who moved from authoritative statements on "Every Day I Have the Blues" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love" to brisk workouts on "Roll 'Em Pete" and his definitive hit, "All Right, OK, You Win".
Nat King Cole's album 10th Anniversary proved to be an interesting watershed in his career. First finding fame as a popular jazz pianist leading a trio, Cole gradually added more and more vocals until he had pretty much left jazz behind for a full-time career as a singer. This compilation, issued on LP in 1955, drew from unreleased recordings from both his jazz and easy listening sessions. One can hear Cole's growth as a singer in his jazz tracks, scatting a bit in his "Lulubelle," though it is his impressive piano that dominates another original, "I'm an Errand Boy for Rhythm." "Peaches" is a rather pedestrian affair with the heavy-handed bongos of Jack Costanzo proving to be more of a distraction than a benefit. The easy listening vocals are a mixed bag. "Too Soon" is overwhelmed by Nelson Riddle's strings, though Dave Cavanaugh's campy Western satire "Rough Ridin'" fares better. Liner note writer James Ritz sings praises for Les Baxter's scoring of the ballad "The Story of My Wife," though the bland arrangement and melody bring to mind the prevailing attitude among other arrangers of the '50s ("The less Baxter, the better!").
Historians and some Duke Ellington fans look askance at the brief period he spent on Capitol Records (1953-55). This was a hectic period in jazz, with bebop in the near-view, hard bop coming along as well, and the big band was considered by many to be a relic of bygone eras. Yet Ellington persevered, and not without another adversity: the temporary loss of signature alto player Johnny Hodges, who was off leading his own bands. The resulting five CDs worth of material collected here show an Ellington band more aimed at repetition, both of its own repertoire, which had sounded better in the 1940s, and of other bands' material.
Reissue features the latest DSD / HR Cutting remastering and the high-fidelity SHM-CD format (compatible with standard CD player). Comes with a description. Features the original LP designs. Jimmy Raney leads two separate groups on this OJC reissue CD, both recorded during the mid-'50s. The first session finds the leader experimenting with overdubbing a second guitar line over his introduction and closing during all four pieces, including the very exciting "Minor" (which is based on the chord changes to "Bernie's Tune"), "Double Image" (inspired by "There Will Never be Another You"), plus some wild improvised counterpoint between Raney and pianist Hall Overton in "On the Square" and an intricate rendition of the ballad "Some Other Spring."