Art Pepper – Landscape “Live in Tokyo ’79” {JVC}[xrcd]


Review by “MPC PC” (amazon.com)

I’ve had this album in vinyl since it came out, roughly 20 years ago. It’s one of Art Pepper’s strongest live recordings (from Japan) from the latter part of his career. Most memorable for me are “Over the Rainbow,” and the title cut, the driving “Landscape.” Great stuff! I highly recommend it.

Tracks:
01 – True Blues
02 – Sometime
03 – Landscape
04 – Avalon
05 – Over the Rainbow
06 – Straight Life

Personnel:
Art Pepper – alto sax, clarinet
George Cables – piano
Tony Dumas – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Recorded in performance at Shiba Yubin Chokin Hall, Tokyo; July 16 and 23, 1979.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

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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.

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Hank Mobley – A Caddy for Daddy {Blue Note} “Analogue Productions”


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

Hank Mobley was a perfect artist for Blue Note in the 1960s. A distinctive but not dominant soloist, Mobley was also a very talented writer whose compositions avoided the predictable yet could often be quite melodic and soulful; his tricky originals consistently inspired the young all-stars in Blue Note’s stable. For this CD, which is a straight reissue of a 1965 session, Mobley is joined by trumpeter Lee Morgan, trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Billy Higgins (a typically remarkable Blue Note lineup) for the infectious title cut, three other lesser-known but superior originals, plus Wayne Shorter’s “Venus Di Mildew.” Recommended.

Tracks:
01 – A Caddy for Daddy
02 – The Morning After
03 – Venus Di Mildew
04 – Ace Deuce Trey
05 – 3rd Time Around

Personnel:
Lee Morgan – trumpet
Curtis Fuller – trombone
Hank Mobley – tenor sax
McCoy Tyner – piano
Bob Cranshaw – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Originally released in 1966 on Blue Note Records as BST-84230.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Frank Morgan – Easy Living {Contemporary}[OJC]


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

After nearly 30 years off the scene, altoist Frank Morgan made a remarkable comeback. Despite his years in prison and obscurity, he had not lost anything in his playing; in fact, he had grown as an individual. Teamed with pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Tony Dumas and drummer Billy Higgins, Morgan (still just 51) digs into songs by Walton, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter and Antonio Carlos Jobim that had not been written when he had last recorded; in addition, he plays versions of three standards that recall his main inspiration, Charlie Parker. Morgan’s improbable comeback after such a long period was fortunately permanent. This set (originally released by Contemporary) has been reissued on CD in the Original Jazz Classics series, and in addition to being a historic date, the music is excellent.

Tracks:
01 – Manha de Carnaval
02 – Yes and No
03 – Easy Living
04 – The Rubber Man
05 – Third Street Blues
06 – Three Flowers
07 – Embraceable You
08 – Now’s the Time

Personnel:
Frank Morgan – alto saxophone
Cedar Walton – piano
Tony Dumas – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Recorded digitally at Monterey Sound Studio, Glendale, CA; June 12 and 13, 1985.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Art Pepper – Besame Mucho “Live in Tokyo ’79” {JVC}[xrcd]


Review by Thom Jurek (allmusic.com)

Shortly after Art Pepper’s death in 1982, JVC Records in Japan began issuing a series of titles of the great saxophonist’s performances in Japan. This set, recorded in 1979, was compiled from two different July performances and features the classic Pepper quartet with pianist George Cables, drummer Billy Higgins, and the great Tony Dumas on bass. Pepper played only alto on the dates, and these five tunes offer a portrait of the musician at the very top of his form and very inspired. There are three Pepper originals: “Red Car,” “Mambo de la Pinta,” and “The Trip,” all of which are over nine minutes, buffeted by the set’s lone ballad, “The Shadow of Your Smile,” and a smoking read of the title track. Only the ballad is on the short side, and the rest give Pepper the opportunity to really stretch himself and interact with Cables, whose fluid scalar approach to soloing, while invoking bop’s precision balanced by an abundant lyrical swing, was a perfect vehicle for the saxophonist’s intense melodic improvising. This is a welcome addition to the U.S. catalog for fans and a fantastic introduction to Pepper’s many gifts for the uninitiated.

Tracks:
01 – Red Car
02 – The Shadow of Your Smile
03 – The Trip
04 – Mambo de La Pinta
05 – Besame Mucho

Personnel:
Art Pepper – alto sax
George Cables – piano
Tony Dumas – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Recorded in performance at Shiba Yubin Chokin Hall, Tokyo; July 16 and 23, 1979.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder {Blue Note} “Analogue Productions”


Review by Stacia Proefrock (allmusic.com)

Carried by its almost impossibly infectious eponymous opening track, The Sidewinder helped foreshadow the sounds of boogaloo and soul-jazz with its healthy R&B influence and Latin tinge. While the rest of the album retreats to a more conventional hard bop sound, Morgan’s compositions are forward-thinking and universally solid. Only 25 at the time of its release, Morgan was accomplished (and perhaps cocky) enough to speak of mentoring the great Joe Henderson, who at 26 was just beginning to play dates with Blue Note after getting out of the military. Henderson makes a major contribution to the album, especially on “Totem Pole,” where his solos showed off his singular style, threatening to upstage Morgan, who is also fairly impressive here. Barry Harris, Bob Cranshaw, and Billy Higgins are all in good form throughout the album as well, and the group works together seamlessly to create an album that crackles with energy while maintaining a stylish flow.

Tracks:
01 – The Sidewinder
02 – Totem Pole
03 – Gary’s Notebook
04 – Boy, What a Night
05 – Hocus-Pocus
06 – Totem Pole (alternate)

Personnel:
Lee Morgan – trumpet
Joe Henderson – tenor sax
Barry Harris – piano
Bob Cranshaw – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Originally released in 1964 on Blue Note as BST-84157

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Stan Getz with Cal Tjader {Fantasy}[xrcd]


Review by Richard S. Ginell (allmusic.com)

An amazing ad-hoc session, thrown together in a San Francisco studio with now legendary personnel from two different groups. The lineup says it all — a meeting of the Latin jazz maestro and the future champion of Brazilian jazz, plus, from Tjader’s group, Vince Guaraldi on piano and guitarist Eddie Duran, and from Getz’s band, the then unknown teenager Scott LaFaro on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. A moment for the history books is an 11-minute workout on Guaraldi’s pentatonic souvenir of Tokyo, “Ginza Samba,” where the fast-samba theme finds Getz blowing to a Brazilian rhythm four years before “Desafinado.” The jamming, though, is in a straight-ahead bebop groove where Getz’s eloquence unfolds with almost unearthly ease. The rest of the album alternates between lyric ballads and solid, though non-Latin, swinging where Tjader, Guaraldi, and Duran graft onto the great Getz rhythm section like they’ve been playing together for decades (check out the funky combustion on “Crow’s Nest”). Collectors’ note: when Getz became a bossa nova star, this album was reissued in 1963 as Stan Getz With Cal Tjader with a different set of liner notes and remains available on LP and cassette in this form.

Tracks:
01 – Ginza Samba
02 – I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face
03 – For All We Know
04 – Crow’s Nest
05 – Liz-Anne
06 – Big Bear
07 – My Buddy

Personnel:
Stan Getz – tenor saxophone
Cal Tjader – vibes
Vince Guaraldi – piano
Eddie Duran – guitar
Scott LaFaro – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Recorded at Circle Record Studios, San Francisco; February 8, 1958.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork