Gene Ammons – Late Hour Special {Fantasy} “Russian Print”

Review by Scott Yanow (

Originally released by Prestige while tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons was serving a long prison sentence for possession of drugs (the label effectively kept Ammons’ name alive by regularly coming out with “new” material), this album was reissued on CD in 1997. The distinctive tenor is heard on three numbers with a quartet/quintet also including pianist Patti Bown, bassist George Duvivier, drummer Walter Perkins, and sometimes Ray Barretto on conga, and on four cuts as part of a ten-piece group arranged by Oliver Nelson. Flugelhornist Clark Terry gets a couple of choruses on “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” and Bown has several solos, but Ammons is the main star throughout. In addition to performing his own “Lascivious” (a blues), he sticks to standards, infusing each tune with soul and swing. A fine outing, although with brief (35 & 1/2 minutes) playing time.

01 – The Party’s Over
02 – I Want to Be Loved (But by Only You)
03 – Things Ain’t What They Used to Be
04 – Lascivious
05 – Makin’ Whoopee
06 – Soft Winds
07 – Lullaby of the Leaves

Gene Ammons – tenor saxophone
George Barrow, Red Holloway – tenor saxophone
Oliver Nelson – alto saxophone, arranger & conductor
Bob Ashton – baritone saxophone
Clark Terry, Hobart Dotson – trumpet
Patti Bown, Richard Wyands – piano
George Duvivier, Wendell Marshall – bass
Walter Perkins, Bill English – drums
Ray Barretto – conga

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ; on June 13, 1961 and April 13, 1962.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Jim Hall Trio featuring Tom Harrell – These Rooms {DENON}

Review by Ken Dryden (

This 1988 studio date is one of the overlooked treasures in the considerable discography of Jim Hall, possibly due to the label’s low-key promotion and less than eye-catching cover art. It is easy why to understand why artists like Art Farmer and Paul Desmond omitted a pianist after hearing a release such as this one, because it would only clutter Hall’s soft yet complete accompaniment. Joined by Tom Harrell (heard mostly on fluegelhorn), bassist Steve LaSpina, and drummer Joey Baron, this CD is a delight from start to finish. The interaction of the musicians in the opener, a lively, waltzing “With a Song in My Heart,” makes it sound like they have been a working unit for years. The well-conceived arrangement of “Where or When,” which Hall dedicated to Basie guitarist Freddie Green (who died the year prior to the sessions), proves to be the most captivating track, with its understated yet consummately swinging air. Hall contributed the tense “Cross Court,” a smoking post-bop vehicle, a pulsing calypso written originally for his 1985 Montreux concert with Michel Petrucciani and Wayne Shorter, as well as the haunting ballad “These Rooms,” which opens with Harrell’s melancholy unaccompanied trumpet solo, and has an abstract solo by the leader. “Something Tells Me” is a lovely bittersweet ballad by Jane Hall (Jim’s wife, a talented composer whose work he has often recorded), featuring Hall and Harrell. Hall’s unaccompanied take of Duke Ellington’s “All Too Soon” makes one wonder why he has never recorded a entire CD of guitar solos. This out of print CD is destined to become a collectible.

01 – With a Song in My Heart
02 – Cross Court
03 – Something Tells Me
04 – Bimini
05 – All Too Soon
06 – These Rooms
07 – Darn That Dream
08 – My Funny Valentine
09 – Where or When
10 – From Now On

Jim Hall – guitar
Steve LaSpina – bass
Joey Baron – drums
Tom Harrell – flugelhorn, trumpet

Recorded at Sorcerer Sound, New York City; live to 2 track digital, on February 9-10, 1988.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Paul Desmond featuring Jim Hall – Glad To Be Unhappy {RCA}

Review by Richard S. Ginell (

Even though Desmond was kidding when he described himself as the world’s slowest alto player, this record bears out the kernel of truth within the jest. Here, Desmond set out to make a record of love songs and torch ballads, so the tempos are very slow to medium, the mood is of wistful relaxation, and the spaces between the notes grow longer. At first glance, Desmond may seem only peripherally involved with the music-making, keeping emotion at a cool, intellectual arms’ length, yet his exceptionally pure tone and ruminative moods wear very well over the long haul. Again, Jim Hall is his commiserator and partner, and the guitarist gets practically as much space to unwind as the headliner; the solo on “Angel Eyes” is an encyclopedia of magnificent chording and single-string eloquence. Gene Wright returns on bass, spelled by Gene Cherico on “Poor Butterfly,” and Connie Kay’s brush-dominated drum work is pushed even further into the background. A lovely recording, though not the best album in the Desmond/Hall collaboration.

01 – Glad To Be Unhappy
02 – Poor Butterfly
03 – Stranger in Town
04 – A Taste of Honey
05 – Any Other Time
06 – Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo
07 – AngelEyes
08 – By the River Sainte Marie
09 – All Across the City
10 – All Through the Night

Paul Desmond – alto saxophone
Jim Hall – guitar
Gene Wright – bass (except on 2)
Gene Cherico – bass (on 2 only)
Connie Kay – drums

Recorded in RCA Victor’s Studio “A” and Webster Hall, New York City; on 1963 and 1964.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Himself {Riverside}[xrcd]

Review from

On each of his first three recordings for Riverside Thelonious Monk included a solo piano presentation, and for many listeners these were the highlights of each recital. And so it was decided that Monk’s fourth Riverside recording, THELONIOUS HIMSELF, would be composed entirely of solo interpretations…well, almost.

Those accustomed to the effusive stylings of keyboard masters such as Art Tatum might be baffled by Monk’s approach. Monk is essentially a minimalist, a virtuoso of color, accent and space, who relinquished the technical trappings of his craft in pursuit of a specific aesthetic vision. Strip away the more extravagant aspects of Tatum’s art–the showy runs, the ornate grace notes, the profuse modulations and asides–and you’re left with an advance harmonic thinker, firmly rooted in the rhythmic pulsation of stride, not unlike Monk’s “Functional.” The main difference being that where Tatum compulsively fills space, Monk (like Basie) establishes a masterful sense of implication, so that listeners finish phrases in their own minds.

Like a great actor finding heretofore obscure layers of meaning in a familiar soliloquy, Monk takes familiar themes such as “April In Paris,” “I Should Care” and “Almost Alone” and distills them down to a singing essence. Where most pianists would simply expand upon the tune (or employ the chord changes as a showcase for their own variations), Monk keeps everything focused on thematic materials. You can hear Monk working towards this goal on the work-in-progress CD bonus track of his own classic theme, “‘Round Midnight,” and on the conclusive master take. For his final selection, “Monk’s Mood,” the pianist insisted on adding bassist Wilbur Ware and an up-and-coming tenor saxophonist named John Coltrane. By allowing them to italicize and expand upon his bass lines and lead melody, Monk enabled listeners to zero in on the essence of his solo and ensemble styles.

01 – April in Paris
02 – (I Don’t Stand) A Ghost of a Chance with You
03 – Functional
04 – I’m Getting Sentimental Over You
05 – I Should Care
06 – ‘Round Midnight
07 – All Alone
08 – Monk’s Mood
09 – ‘Round Midnight (in progress)

Thelonious Monk – piano
John Coltrane – tenor sax (on #8)
Wilbur Ware – bass (on #8)

Recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, New York City; April 5 and 16, 1957

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork