George Shearing – Latin Lace & Latin Affair {Capitol}

Reviews by Scott Yanow (

for “Latin Lace”
The second of pianist George Shearing’s full-length Latin albums once again finds his quintet (with vibraphonist Emil Richards, guitarist Toots Thielemans, bassist Al McKibbon and drummer Percy Brice) being joined by the exciting congas of Armando Peraza. Most of the easy-listening melodies are from south of the border, but even the ones that aren’t (such as “The Story of Love,” “The Moon Was Yellow” and “It’s Not for Me to Say”) are given a Latinized treatment. This is nice (if rather safe) music but the LP is long out of print.

for “Latin Affair”
Pianist George Shearing’s third Latin LP for Capitol is similar to his first two. Although the personnel in his popular Quintet had changed a bit (this album has vibraphonist Warren Chasen, guitarist Toots Thielemans, bassist Carl Pruitt and drummer Roy Haynes), Shearing and his guest Armando Peraza on congas remain the main soloists. The music on their melodic set includes South American melodies and swing standards; in both cases the easy-listening music is Latinized yet still influenced by bop. This enjoyable LP will be difficult to find.

01 – The Story of Love
02 – Serenata
03 – Tu, Mi Delirio
04 – Cali Mambo
05 – Rondo
06 – To the Ends of the Earth
07 – The Moon was Yellow
08 – Wonder Struck
09 – Sand in My Shoes
10 – Mambo Caribe
11 – It’s Not for Me to Say
12 – Mambo No.2
13 – All or Nothing at All
14 – Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off
15 – Afro No. IV
16 – Magic
17 – It’s Easy to Remember
18 – Estampa Cubana
19 – You Stepped Out of a Dream
20 – Mambo Balahu
21 – Dearly Beloved
22 – Juana Palangana
23 – This is Africa
24 – Anywhere

George Shearing – piano (with collective personnel)

“Latin Lace” recorded in 1958, “Latin Affair” recorded in 1959.
(Two albums on one CD)

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Kenny Dorham – Whistle Stop {Blue Note} “Analogue Productions”

Review by Scott Yanow (

Kenny Dorham was always underrated throughout his career, not only as a trumpeter but as a composer. The CD reissue of Whistle Stop features seven of his compositions, none of which have been picked up by any of the “Young Lions” of the ’90s despite their high quality and many fresh melodies. Dorham teams up with tenor-saxophonist Hank Mobley (who he had recorded with previously along with Art Blakey and Max Roach), pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones for a set of lively, fresh, and consistently swinging music. This is a generally overlooked near-classic set.

01 – ‘Philly’ Twist
02 – Buffalo
03 – Sunset
04 – Whistle Stop
05 – Sunrise in Mexico
06 – Windmill
07 – Dorham’s Epitaph

Kenny Dorham – trumpet
Hank Mobley – tenor sax
Kenny Drew – piano
Paul Chambers – bass
Philly Joe Jones – drums

Originally released in 1961.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Cal Tjader & Carmen McRae – Heat Wave {Concord}

Review by “A Customer” (

Let me start by saying that if your idea of jazz does not include “outside” influences, then forget it, if you think that there can be a “pure” form of jazz, then go somewhere else. This recording is one of the earlier truly equal marriages of jazz and Latin music, where both parts work together, and the playing is fantastic! The whole band works as one unit, no small feat when there are two (beautifully understated when that is what’s required) trombones and one singer.
With this recording, Carmen McRae continues the well established tradition (see Billie Holiday, Cassandra Wilson, Christian McBride etc etc etc) of taking pop songs and giving them a new workout. She takes Evil Ways, originally by Tjader’s former band member Willie Bobo, and gives it the sultriest rendition I have ever heard, and her versions of Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing, All is Fair and Heat Wave have real personality and warmth. (Possibly the only downside for me is McRae’s vocals on Besame Mucho, but I only noticed the problem since I began learning Spanish!)
Cal Tjader executes one of the best solos of his recorded career on Evil Ways, and plays with great sensitivity on Upside Down and Besame Mucho. This was the last album Tjader made before he died, and when conguero Poncho Sanchez then struck out on his own, he took part of the band with him. Who could blame him? These guys can really play!
The repertoire swings from jazz to Latin, deliacte (Upside Down, All is Fair), to powerful (Love, Evil Ways) and everybody handles everything easily, including the merengue interpretation of Love with the drum kit playing a modification of a standard jazz patterns, as well as all the Latin-izing. And what a wonderful change it is to hear Latin jazz album that is not purely Cuban or Brazilian influenced, but takes ideas and rhythms from a few places. The recording quality is smooth and clear, everthing you could possibly want is right here.
Jazz? No. Latin jazz? You bet, and awesome Latin jazz at that!

01 – Heat Wave
02 – All in Love is Fair
03 – Besame Mucho
04 – Evil Ways
05 – Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me
06 – Love
07 – Upside Down (Flor de Lis)
08 – The Visit
09 – Speak Low
10 – Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing

Cal Tjader – vibes
Carmen McRae – vocals
Mashall Otwell, Mark Levine – piano
Rob Fisher – bass
Vince Lateano – drums
Poncho Sanchez – congas and percussion
Ramon Banda – timbales and percussion
Al Bent, Mike Heathman – trombone

Recorded at Coast Recorders, San Francisco, California, January 1982.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Barney Kessel with Shelly Manne & Ray Brown – The Poll Winners {Fantasy}[xrcd]

Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. (

If the picture of three grown men hanging onto giant, colored swirl sticks looks a bit odd, or if the title The Poll Winners seems a bit conceited, the music, nonetheless — recorded in 1957 — still sounds great in 2002. Besides, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Shelly Manne really did win polls in Down Beat, Playboy, and Metronome in 1956, and this is precisely what brought the players together. Here, on their first outing, they interpret nine pieces for 40 lovely minutes of modern jazz. After kicking off with a fine take on Duke Jordan’s “Jordu,” the group delivers an emotionally warm, six-minute version of “Satin Doll,” one the album’s highlights. While each player is always fully engaged in this small setting, Kessel’s guitar supplies the lead voice. His expressive style has more in common with bluesy players like Kenny Burrell than cool ones like Tal Farlow. This quality leads to sensitive interpretations of melody-filled standards like “On Green Dolphin Street” and “It Could Happen to You.” As is traditional in small settings, both Manne and Brown are also given a piece of the action, usually near the end of a tune. The choice of material, the interplay between the three players, and the lead work all meld together beautifully on The Poll Winners

01 – Jordu
02 – Satin Doll
03 – It Could Happen to You
04 – Mean to Me
05 – Don’t Worry ’bout Me
06 – On Green Dolphin Street
07 – You Go to My Head
08 – Minor Mood
09 – Nagasaki

Barney Kessel – guitar
Ray Brown – bass
Shelly Manne – drums

Recorded at Contemporary’s Studio in Los Angeles; March 18-19, 1957.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Tommy Flanagan – Jazz Poet {Timeless}

Review by Steve Loewy (

By the time of this recording, pianist Tommy Flanagan had been performing for decades — mostly as a sideman — for a who’s who of jazz: players such as Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, and Sonny Rollins, to name a few. His perfect, yet unassuming style made him the pianist of choice for dozens of musicians. While he has recorded as a leader from time to time, this album may be the best representation of his work available. He performs a set of great tunes (“Caravan,” “Willow Weep for Me,” “St. Louis Blues,” “Lament,” and others) in a topflight trio, with George Mraz on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. Flanagan is at the peak of his powers. Never flashy, never showy, this is just outstanding music performed by a true master who is one of the great bop pianists of the 20th century.

01 – Raincheck
02 – Lament
03 – Willow Weep for Me
04 – Caravan
05 – That Tired Routine Called Love
06 – Glad to Be Unhappy
07 – St. Louis Blues
08 – Mean Streets
09 – I’m Old Fashioned
10 – Voce Abuso

Tommy Flanagan – piano
George Mraz – bass
Kenny Washington – drums

Recorded January 17th & 19th 1989;
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Charlie Parker with Strings – The Master Takes {Verve}

Review by Michael J Edelman (

What Parker did on this album isn’t so different from what Miles Davis and Gil Evans did years later with “Sketches of Spain”- and come to think of it, that album was panned by critics who couldn’t understand it, either.
When the string intros start up, the casual listener might assume that this album sisn’t terribly different from the easy-listening music that pours of of elevators and “mellow jazz” radio stations that it’s easy to ignore it. But there’s something much more complex going on; Parker has created something very rare here; he’s taken a music form that few really listened to and framed it in a way that made it more accessible while not compromising his musicality in any way. This isn’t the boring and innoffensive harmonies of a Kenny G.; this is Charlie Parker, and he’s playing for all it’s worth. And it comes through.

01 – Just Friends
02 – Everything Happens to Me
03 – April in Paris [#1]
04 – Summertime
05 – I Didn’t Know What Time it Was
06 – If I Should Lose You
07 – Dancing in the Dark
08 – Out of Nowhere
09 – Laura
10 – East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)
11 – The Can’t Take that Away from Me
12 – Easy to Love [#1]
13 – I’m in the Mood for Love
14 – I’ll Remember April
15 – What is this Thing Called Love?
16 – April in Paris [#2]
17 – Repetition [#1]
18 – Easy to Love [#2]
19 – Rocker
20 – Temptation
21 – Lover
22 – Autumn in New York
23 – Stella by Starlight
24 – Repetition [#2]

Charlie Parker – alto saxophone on all tracks,
accompanied by collective personnel.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork