Carmen McRae – Fine and Mellow (Live at Birdland West) {Concord}


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

Although Carmen McRae is the obvious star of her live record (which has been reissued on CD), she gives plenty of solo space to her notable all-star band (Red Holloway on tenor and alto, organist Jack McDuff, guitarist Phil Upchurch, bassist John Clayton, and drummer Paul Humphrey). McRae did not record in this context with an organ group very often. All seven songs (which range in length from four minutes to the nine-and-a-half-minute title track) are swing-era standards except for Eubie Blake’s “My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More,” which dates back to the early ’20s, but McRae updates them a bit and makes them sound relevant and swinging. Recommended.

Tracks:
01 – What Is This Thing Called Love
02 – What Can I Say After I Say I’m Sorry
03 – Fine and Mellow
04 – These Foolish Things Remind Me of You
05 – Black and Blue
06 – One More Chance
07 – Untill the Real Thing Comes Along
08 – My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More

Personnel:
Carmen McRae – vocals
Red Holloway – tenor & alto saxophone
John Clayton – bass
Paul Humphrey – drums
Jack McDuff – organ
Phil Upchurch – guitar

Recorded live at Birdland West, Long Beach, CA; December 1987

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

George Benson – New Boss Guitar of George Benson {Prestige}[OJC]


Review by Alex Henderson (allmusic.com)
George Benson was only 21 when, on May 1, 1964, he recorded his first album as a leader, The New Boss Guitar of George Benson. At that point, the guitarist had yet to become a huge name in jazz, although many of those who knew Benson for his work with Jack McDuff’s group (which he joined in 1962) agreed that he showed great potential. Benson still had some growing to do in 1964, but even so, this is an impressive debut. The guitarist had developed a distinctive, recognizable sound on his instrument, and he plays with both feeling and technique on five Benson originals (including the sly “Shadow Dancers,” the exuberant “Rock-A-Bye,” and the earthy blues “I Don’t Know”) as well as interpretations of “Easy Living” and “Will You Still Be Mine.” Benson, of course, had an insightful teacher in McDuff, who plays both organ and piano on this hard bop/soul-jazz date. Tenor saxophonist Red Holloway, another member of McDuff’s early ’60s group, is also on board, as are bassist Ronnie Boykins and drummer Montego Joe. Originally released on LP by Prestige, The New Boss Guitar of George Benson was reissued on CD for Fantasy’s Original Jazz Classics series in 1990 (where Fantasy added “My Three Sons,” a driving bonus track that finds Benson, McDuff and Holloway appearing on drummer Joe Dukes’ The Soulful Drums session of May 14, 1964). In 1964, Benson’s best work was yet to come — nonetheless, this album is historically important as well as rewarding.

Tracklist:
01 – Shadow Dancers 04:49
02 – The Sweet Alice Blues 04:42
03 – I Don’t Know 06:52
04 – Just Another Sunday 03:05
05 – Will You Still Be Mine 04:31
06 – Easy Living 06:41
07 – Rock-a-Bye 04:02
08 – My Three Sons 05:37

Personnel:
George Benson – guitar
Jack McDuff – piano, organ
Red Holloway – tenor saxophone
Ronnie Boykins – bass
Montego Joe – drums
Joe Dukes – drums (#8 only)

Recorded in New York; May 1, 1964.
(“My Three Sons” recorded May 14, 1964.)

Label: Prestige – OJC
Year: 1990
Genre: Jazz
Style: Hard Bop, Soul Jazz
Total Time: 40:19

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork