Barney Kessel – To Swing or Not to Swing {Contemporary}[OJC]


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

Guitarist Barney Kessel’s string of recordings for Contemporary in the 1950s included some of the finest work of his career. The unusual repertoire on this set — which includes “Louisiana,” “Indiana,” and “12th Street Rag,” along with four Kessel originals and more usual standards — would by itself make this bop/cool set noteworthy. Add to that a very interesting lineup of players (trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, Georgie Auld or Bill Perkins on tenor, pianist Jimmy Rowles, the rhythm guitar of Al Hendrickson, bassist Red Mitchell, and Shelly Manne or Irv Cottler on drums) and some excellent showcases for Kessel, and the overall result is a CD highly recommended to fans of straight-ahead jazz.

Tracks:
01 – Begin the Blues
02 – Louisiana
03 – Happy Feeling
04 – Embraceable You
05 – Wail Street
06 – Indiana
07 – Moten Swing
08 – Midnight Sun
09 – Contemporary Blues
10 – Don’t Blame Me
11 – 12th Street Rag

Personnel:
Barney Kessel – guitar
Harry “Sweets” Edison – trumpet
Georgie Auld, Bill Perkins – tenor sax
Jimmy Rowles – piano
Al Hendrickson – rhythm guitar
Red Mitchell – bass
Irv Cottler, Shelly Manne – drums

Recorded in Los Angeles; March 28 and July 26, 1955.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Duke Ellington Quartet – Duke’s Big Four {Pablo}[xrcd]


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

One of Duke Ellington’s finest small group sessions from his final decade was this frequently exciting quartet date with guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Louie Bellson. Ellington’s percussive style always sounded modern and he comes up with consistently strong solos on such numbers as “Love You Madly,” “The Hawk Talks” and especially “Cotton Tail,” easily keeping up with his younger sidemen. Highly recommended.

Tracks:
01 – Cotton Tail
02 – The Blues
03 – The Hawk Talks
04 – Prelude to a Kiss
05 – Love You Madly
06 – Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me)
07 – Everything But You

Personnel:
Duke Ellington – piano
Joe Pass – guitar
Ray Brown – bass
Louis Bellson – drums

Recorded in Los Angeles; January 8, 1973.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Natalie Cole – Stardust {Elektra}


Review by Bill Carpenter (allmusic.com)

Continuing her successful foray into the American songbook, Natalie Cole served as executive producer on her third album of pop standards. Eighteen selections, including works by Hoagy Carmichael and songs associated with Nat, Ella, Sarah, and Dinah. Big-band orchestration and a trumpet solo by Wynton Marsalis on “He Was Too Good to Me.” Guest players include Fourplay, Everette Harp, George Duke, and John Pizzarelli. Cole originally recorded Nat’s “When I Fall in Love” ballad on her Everlasting album. Here she does a duet with dad à la “Unforgettable.” She also closes the album with a solo version sung in Spanish.

Tracks:
01 – There’s a Lull in My Life
02 – Stardust
03 – Let’s Face the Music and Dance
04 – Teach Me Tonight
05 – When I Fall in Love (duet with Nat “King” Cole)
06 – What a Difference a Day Made
07 – Love Letters
08 – He was Too Good to Me
09 – Dindi (Portuguese)
10 – Two for the Blues
11 – If Love Ain’t There
12 – To Whom it May Concern
13 – Where Can I Go Without You
14 – Ahmad’s Blues
15 – Pick Yourself Up
16 – If You Could See Me Now
17 – Like a Lover
18 – This Morning it was Summer

Personnel:
Natalie Cole – vocals, background vocals
John Chiodini, John Pizzarelli, Lee Ritenour – guitar
Paul Jackson Jr. – electric guitar
Toots Thielemans – harmonica
Jon Clarke – oboe
Dan Higgins, Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone
Everette Harp – alto saxophone
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
George Bohannon – trombone
Terry Trotter – piano, fender rhodes piano
Rob Mounsey, Bob James – piano, keyboards
Michael Lang – piano
Nat “King” Cole – vocals, organ
George Duke – vibraphone
Chris Parker, John “J.R.” Robinson, Harvey Mason Sr., John Guerin,
Ralph Penland, Harold Jones – drums
Paulinho Da Costa, Rafael Padilla, Bashiri Johnson – percussion

Released on September 24, 1996

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Sonny Clark – Leapin’ and Lopin’ {Blue Note} “Japan”


Review by Michael G. Nastos (allmusic.com)

Sonny Clark’s fifth Blue Note recording as a leader is generally regarded as his best, especially considering he composed four of the seven tracks, and they all bear his stamp of originality. What is also evident is that he is shaping the sounds of his quintet rather than dominating the proceedings as he did on other previous dates. Tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and trumpeter Tommy Turrentine play very little harmony on the date, but their in-tune unison lines are singularly distinctive, while bassist Butch Warren and a young drummer Billy Higgins keep the rhythmic coals burning with a steady glowing red heat. Among the classic tunes is the definitive hard bop opener “Somethin’ Special” which lives up to its title in a most bright and happy manner, with Clark merrily comping chords. “Melody for C” is similarly cheerful, measured, and vivid in melodic coloration, the CD containing a slightly longer alternate take. “Zellmar’s Delight,” not included on the original LP, finally has the tenor and trumpet playing harmony during a tricky, progressive melody, not at all conventional, which is perhaps why it was initially omitted. The showstopper is “Voodoo,” the ultimate yin/yang, dark, late night, sly and slinky jazz tune contrasted by Clark’s tinkling piano riffs. Warren wrote the exciting hard bopper “Eric Walks” reminiscent of a Dizzy Gillespie tune, while Turrentine’s “Midnight Mambo” mixes metaphors of Afro-Cuban music with unusual off-minor phrases and the stoic playing of Rouse. Tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec plays a cameo sans the other horns on the soulful ballad “Deep in a Dream,” exhibiting a vocal quality on his instrument, making one wonder if any other sessions with this group were done on the side. Top to bottom Leapin’ and Lopin’ is a definitive recording for Clark, and really for all time in the mainstream jazz idiom.

Tracks:
01 – Somethin’ Special
02 – Deep in a Dream
03 – Melody for C
04 – Eric Walks
05 – Voodoo
06 – Midnight Mambo

Personnel:
Tommy Turrentine – trumpet
Charlie Rouse, Ike Quebec – tenor sax
Sonny Clark – piano
Butch Warren – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Recorded November 13, 1961.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Ron Carter – Blues Farm {Epic}


Review by Nathan Bush (allmusic.com)

In 1968, having completed a five-year stint with Miles Davis, Ron Carter’s career was wide open. Finding himself in typically high demand, the bassist decided not to make any long-term commitments (though he continued to join individual recording dates), opting instead to develop his solo career. In 1971, he released Uptown Conversation (Atlantic). Shortly after, he signed to the CTI label, releasing Blues Farm in 1973. The bass is rarely found in such a prominent role, its melodic qualities typically being subordinate to rhythmic ones. The presence of a pianist, guitarist, and two percussionists on Blues Farm frees Carter to explore both realms. Working with Davis was obviously a valuable experience. On numbers like “Footprints” (from Miles Smiles, 1965), Carter was required to extend and compress time, a technique that is second nature to him on Blues Farm. Dense, dexterous runs are broken up by long, bending lines and shades of blues phrasing, all executed with absolute grace. His playing becomes slightly imposing on “Django.” While it’s great to hear him lead the group on a tour through the song’s shifting rhythms, the accompanists aren’t allowed much space. Carter’s playing is best when more deeply integrated. On the title track, he engages in a wonderful exchange with flutist Hubert Laws, with the two swapping solos back and forth. On “Hymn for Him,” his probing lines enrich the song, pushing its narrative forward. The best comes last as the group rides “R2, M1” to the album’s conclusion. The song subsists largely on the group’s energy (the most they display outwardly on the album) and Carter’s deep, repetitious groove. Unfortunately, great musicianship does not always make for compelling results. Blues Farm’s excursions are enjoyable, but somewhat reserved. Both the compositions and performances avoid strong emotions in favor of pleasing palettes of color and texture. The early-’70s production values only enhance this by softening the bed of musical tones. The resulting polish tranquilizes the sound and ultimately dates the album.

Tracks:
01 – Blues Farm
02 – A Small Ballad
03 – Django
04 – A Hymn for Him
05 – Two-Beat Johnson
06 – R2, M1

Personnel:
Ron Carter – bass, piccolo bass
Billy Cobham – drums
Hubert Laws – flutes
Ralp MacDonald – percussion
Bob James – electric piano
Richard Tee – organ, electric piano
Gene Bertoncini, Sam Brown – electric guitar

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios, January 10, 1973.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork