Duke Jordan Trio – Flight to Denmark {SteepleChase}

Review by Michael G. Nastos (allmusic.com)

Upon Duke Jordan’s initial visit to Copenhagen, Denmark, followed by his decision to make the move as an expatriate permanent, he was tempted to stay by playing with some extraordinary Scandinavian rhythm sections. Bassist Mads Vinding, one of many skilled Danish jazz bassists, is here on the date performing in fine style. Drummer Ed Thigpen, who left the U.S. to take up permanent residence in Europe, was an even bigger influence in making Jordan’s decision a good one, and is an equally skillful musical partner on this date. This is an expanded edition from the previous original issue on the Steeplechase label; a Japanese import with several alternate takes. It’s an understated session for the most part, equal parts melancholy and hopeful, as one might expect with the trepidation of leaving home for new, unknown horizons to be discovered in a foreign land. The upbeat songs, as the modal, popping, tom-tom driven “No Problem” (from the movie soundtrack Les Liason Dangereuses) and the famous bop flag-waver “Jordu,” bookend the CD. The bulk of the recording showcases the softer side of Jordan, with takes of the somber ballad “Here’s That Rainy Day,” the slightly brighter “Everything Happens to Me,” and two versions of the polite waltz “Glad I Met Pat,” dedicated to a nine-year-old girl Jordan knew in New York City prior to her being kidnapped. The pianist employs chiming piano chords for “How Deep Is the Ocean?,” is lighthearted in his slight interpretation of the well worn “On Green Dolphin Street,” does two takes on the light, bluesy swinger “If I Did, Would You?,” and ramps up to midtempo the bluesy original “Flight to Denmark,” reflective of the insecurity and consequential optimism that followed his leaving the States. This is Duke Jordan at his most magnificent, with the ever-able Vinding and expert Thigpen playing their professional roles perfectly, producing perhaps the second best effort (next to Flight to Jordan from 13 years hence) from the famed bop pianist. [Originally released in 1973, Flight to Denmark was reissued as an import-only Japanese CD in 2002.]

01 – No Problem
02 – Here’s that Rainy Day
03 – Everything Happens to Me
04 – Glad I Met Pat (take 3)
05 – Glad I Met Pat (take 4)
06 – How Deep is the Ocean?
07 – On Green Dolphin Street
08 – If I Did – Would You? (take 1)
09 – If I Did – Would You? (take 2)
10 – Flight to Denmark
11 – No Problem (take 2)
12 – Jordu (take 1)

Duke Jordan – piano
Mads Vinding – bass
Ed Thigpen – drums

Recorded November 25 & December 2, 1973 at “Sound Track”, Copenhagen.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

George Benson – In Flight {WB}

Review by Richard S. Ginell (allmusic.com)

In the wake of “This Masquerade,” the balance of power shifted for the first time toward George Benson’s suddenly marketable voice; four of the six tracks on In Flight are vocals. By this time, Benson was tailoring his tenor toward soulful pitch-bending à la Stevie Wonder on tunes as diverse as “Nature Boy” and “The World Is a Ghetto,” and the unison scatting with the guitar that caught fire with the public on Masquerade is now pulled out whenever possible. Benson’s backing band from Breezin’, still set in its funk mode, is intact, and Claus Ogerman again contributes gentle orchestral cushions. The two instrumentals, particularly Donny Hathaway’s “Valdez in the Country,” prove that Benson remained a brilliantly inventive melodist on guitar, in full possession of his powers. Yet there is every indication here that Benson was set upon becoming primarily a pop star.

01 – Nature Boy
02 – The Wind and I
03 – The World is a Ghetto
04 – Gonna Love You More
05 – Valdez in the Country
06 – Everything Must Change

George Benson – lead guitar & vocals
Phil Upchurch – rhythm guitar
Ronnie Foster – electric piano & mini-moog
Jorge Dalto – clavinet & acoustic piano
Stanley Banks – bass
Harvey Mason – drums
Ralph MacDonald – percussion
Claus Ogerman – arranger & conducter

Recorded and mixed at Capitol Records, Hollywood; August-November, 1976.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Eliane Elias – Cross Currents {DENON}

Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

Pianist Eliane Elias’ second of two Denon CDs recorded before she hooked up with Blue Note is a lesser-known but worthy session. Elias is mostly featured in a trio with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette performing originals, a pair of Charles Mingus compositions (“Peggy’s Blue Skylight” and “East Coastin'”), “Beautiful Love,” “When You Wish Upon a Star” and Bud Powell’s “Hallucinations.” Elias was quickly developing into a strong modern mainstream pianist. The concluding number (“Coming and Going”) was written by her grandmother in 1927 at age 12 and features Elias with Gomez, drummer Peter Erskine, guitarist Barry Finnerty, percussionist Cafe and nine singers (including a few family members). Well worth searching for.

01 – Hallucinations
02 – Cross Currents
03 – Beautiful Love
04 – Campari & Soda
05 – One Side of You
06 – Another Side of You
07 – Peggy’s Blue Skylight
08 – Impulsive
09 – When You Wish Upon a Star
10 – East Coastin’
11 – Coming and Going

Eliane Elias – piano
Eddie Gomez – bass
Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine – drums
Barry Finnerty – acoustic guitar
Cafe – percussion

Recorded and mixed March 16-21, 1987 at RPM Studios, NYC.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Cannonball Adderley with Milt Jackson – Things are Getting Better {Riverside}[OJC]

Review by Lindsay Planer (allmusic.com)

This title provides ample evidence why Cannonball Adderley (alto sax) is considered one of the masters of his craft. Here he joins forces with Modern Jazz Quartet co-founder Milt Jackson (vibes) to create a variety of sonic atmospheres. They are backed by the all-star ensemble of Wynton Kelly (piano), Percy Heath (bass), and the one and only Art Blakey (drums). The moody “Blues Oriental” opens the set with Jackson immediately diving in with his trademark fluid runs and shimmering intonation. Adderley counters with a light and lively line that weaves between the rhythm section. The optimistic “Things Are Getting Better” is a good-natured romp as the co-leads trade and cajole each other into some downright rollicking exchanges. This directly contrasts with the sultry “Serves Me Right,” which allows the combo members to demonstrate their collective musical malleability. The interaction between Adderley and Jackson sparkles as they entwine their respective playing with an uncanny singularity of spirit. The cover of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Groovin’ High” contains another spirited performance with some thoroughly engaging improvisation, especially during Adderley’s voracious solos. “Sidewalks of New York” bops freely as Jackson unleashes some sublime licks against a hearty and equally boisterous sax. Adderley’s “Sounds for Sid” demonstrates his uncanny ability to swing with a strong R&B vibe. With drop-dead timing and profound instrumental chops, this cut is undoubtedly one of the best from Adderley’s earliest canon. The album concludes with a jumping reading of Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things.” While Wynton Kelly has been uniformly solid, his interjections stand out here as he bridges and undergirds the two as they banter with flair and aplomb. When Things Are Getting Better was issued on CD, two bonus tracks supplemented the original seven-song running order. These consist of alternate takes of “Serves Me Right” and “Sidewalks of New York.” In the case of the former, it can be reasonably argued that this outtake might emotively best the version initially chosen as the master. This disc can be recommended without hesitation to all manner of jazz enthusiast, as it quite literally offers something for every taste.

01 – Blues Oriental
02 – Things are Getting Better
03 – Serves Me Right (take 5)
04 – Serves Me Right (take 4)
05 – Groovin’ High
06 – The Sidewalks of New York (take 5)
07 – The Sidewalks of New York (take 4)
08 – Sounds for Sid
09 – Just One of Those Things

Cannonball Adderley – alto saxophone
Milt Jackson – vibes
Wynton Kelly – piano
Percy Heath – bass
Art Blakey – drums

Recorded in New York; October 28, 1958.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, scans

Art Pepper – New York Album {Analogue Productions}

Review by Andrew Bartlett (amazon.com)
After prison, after first shocking, then disappointing, and perhaps ultimately (and grimly) amusing the jazz world with enough dope-related hijinks to fill a book (as in Straight Life), alto saxist Art Pepper made a triumphant mid-1970s comeback. This 1979 session is rich with the fruits of Pepper’s return, a depth of playing that shows itself constantly throughout the New York Album’s five tunes. Pepper, as his widow, Laurie, notes in the liners, was always best when out to prove himself. Here, he’s out to show pianist Hank Jones, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Al Foster that he’s still a force to reckon with. “A Night in Tunisia” is fascinating, if a trifle straightly read, as is “Straight, No Chaser.” The best bits here, though, are Pepper’s yearning solo rendition of “Lover Man,” the piano-bass duo on “Duo Blues,” and the blazing, off-time take on “My Friend John,” one of the leader’s funkiest charts ever. This reissue of New York is additionally bolstered by terrific audiophile sound, the hallmark of Analogue Productions’ work in the jazz world.

01 – A Night in Tunisia
02 – Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be)
03 – Straight, No Chaser (alternate take)
04 – Duo Blues
05 – My Friend John

Art Pepper – alto saxophone
Hank Jones – piano (except on “Duo Blues”)
Ron Carter – bass (except on “Lover Man”)
Al Foster – drums (except on “Duo Blues” and “Lover Man”)

Recorded February 23, 1979 at Sound Ideas, NYC;
and May 26, 1979 at Kendum Recorders, Burbank, CA.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork