Grant Green – Latin Bit {Blue Note}[RVG]


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

Grant Green, being known mainly as a soul-jazz guitarist, eventually gravitated into the popular boogaloo sound, a derivation of Latin music. The Latin Bit is the natural bridge to that next phase, though a bit premature for most in 1961-1963, even relative to the subsequent bossa nova craze. Pianist Johnny Acea, long an underrated jazzman, is the nucleus of this session, grounding it with witty chops, chordal comping, and rhythmic meat. The Latino rhythm section of drummer Willie Bobo and conga player Carlos “Patato” Valdes personify authentic, seasoned spice, while at times the chekere sound of Garvin Masseaux makes the soup too thick. At its collective best, the group presents a steady, serene, and steamy “Besame Mucho” and the patient, slow, slinky, sultry “Tico Tico.” Just a small step below is a classy take on Charlie Parker’s “My Little Suede Shoes,” a premier jazz bebop (emphasis) tune with a Latin undertow and Green’s tiniest staccato phrases, slightly marred by the overbearing constant chekere, but still classic. “Mambo Inn” is played inaccurately, but forgivable. “Mama Inez” ranks high for its calypso-infused happy feeling and wry stop-start lines. The straight-ahead hard bopper “Brazil” and lone soul-jazz tune, “Blues for Juanita,” display the single-note acumen that made Green’s style instantly recognizable. Tacked on the end are two selections with pianist Sonny Clark and tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec. While Clark is not known for Latin or soul-jazz, he’s quite good, while Quebec, who emphasized Brazilian rhythms in the last years of his life, plays hip secondary harmonies on the bossa nova-flavored “Granada,” but is in the complete background and a non-factor on the pop tune “Hey There.” This CD always yielded mixed results for staunch fans of Green, but a revisit shows it to be a credible effort, even if slightly flawed in part.

Tracks:
01 – Mambo Inn
02 – Besame Mucho
03 – Mama Inez
04 – Brazil
05 – Tico Tico
06 – My Little Suede Shoes
07 – Blues for Juanita
08 – Grenada
09 – Hey There

Personnel:
Grant Green – guitar
Ike Quebec – tenor sax (#8 & 9)
Johnny Acea (#1-7), Sonny Clark (#8 & 9) – piano
Wendell Marshall – bass
Willie Bobo – drums
Carlos “Patato” Valdes – congas
Garvin Masseaux – chekere (#1-6)

Recorded on April 26 (#1-7) and September 7 (#8 & 9), 1961
at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Advertisements

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

Ike Quebec – Blue and Sentimental {Blue Note} “Japan”


Review by Steve Huey (allmusic.com)

Ike Quebec’s 1961-1962 comeback albums for Blue Note were all pretty rewarding, but Blue and Sentimental is his signature statement of the bunch, a superbly sensuous blend of lusty blues swagger and achingly romantic ballads. True, there’s no shortage of that on Quebec’s other Blue Note dates, but Blue and Sentimental is the most exquisitely perfected. Quebec was a master of mood and atmosphere, and the well-paced program here sustains his smoky, late-night magic with the greatest consistency of tone. Part of the reason is that Quebec’s caressing tenor sound is given a sparer backing than usual, with no pianist among the quartet of guitarist Grant Green, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. It’s no surprise that Green solos with tremendous taste and elegance (the two also teamed up on Green’s similarly excellent Born to Be Blue), and there are plenty of open spaces in the ensemble for Quebec to shine through. His rendition of the Count Basie-associated title cut is a classic, and the other standard on the original LP, “Don’t Take Your Love From Me,” is in a similarly melancholy vein. Green contributes a classic-style blues in “Blues for Charlie,” and Quebec’s two originals, “Minor Impulse” and “Like,” have more complex chord changes but swing low and easy. Through it all, Quebec remains the quintessential seducer, striking just the right balance between sophistication and earthiness, confidence and vulnerability, joy and longing. It’s enough to make Blue and Sentimental a quiet, sorely underrated masterpiece.

Tracks:
01 – Blue and Sentimental
02 – Minor Impulse
03 – Don’t Take Your Love from Me
04 – Blues for Charlie
05 – Like
06 – Count Every Star

Personnel:
Ike Quebec – tenor sax, piano
Grant Green – guitar
Sonny Clark – piano (6)
Paul Chambers – bass (1-5)
Sam Jones – bass (6)
Philly Joe Jones – drums (1-5)
Louis Hayes – drums (6)

Recorded December 16 and 23, 1961.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Sonny Clark – Cool Struttin’ {Blue Note}[xrcd]


Review by Thom Jurek (allmusic.com)

Recorded in 1958, this legendary date with the still-undersung Sonny Clark in the leader’s chair also featured a young Jackie McLean on alto (playing with a smoother tone than he had before or ever did again), trumpeter Art Farmer, and the legendary rhythm section of bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones, both from the Miles Davis band. The set begins with one of the preeminent “swinging medium blues” pieces in jazz history: the title track with its leveraged fours and eights shoved smoothly up against the walking bass of Chambers and the backbeat shuffle of Jones. Clark’s solo, with its grouped fifths and sevenths, is a wonder of both understatement and groove, while Chambers’ arco solo turns the blues in on itself. While there isn’t a weak note on this record, there are some other tracks that stand out, most notably Miles’ “Sippin’ at Bells,” with its loping Latin rhythm. When McLean takes his solo against a handful of Clark’s shaded minor chords, he sounds as if he may blow it — he comes out a little quick — but he recovers nicely and reaches for a handful of Broadway show tunes to counter the minor mood of the piece. He shifts to both Ben Webster and Lester Young before moving through Bird, and finally to McLean himself, riding the margin of the changes to slip just outside enough to add some depth in the middle register. The LP closes with Henderson and VallĂ©e’s “Deep Night,” the only number in the batch not rooted in the blues. It’s a classic hard bop jamming tune and features wonderful solos by Farmer, who plays weird flatted notes all over the horn against the changes, and McLean, who thinks he’s playing a kind of snake charmer blues in swing tune. This set deserves its reputation for its soul appeal alone. [The CD version includes two bonus tracks: “Royal Flush” and “Lover”].

Tracks:
01 – Cool Struttin’
02 – Blue Minor
03 – Sippin’ at Bells
04 – Deep Night
05 – Royal Flush (Mono)
06 – Lover (Mono)

Personnel:
Art Farmer – trumpet
Jackie McLean – alto sax
Sonny Clark – piano
Paul Chambers – bass
Philly Joe Jones – drums

Recorded January 5, 1958; at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ.
Originally released in 1958 on Blue Note Records as BST-81588.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Dexter Gordon – Go! {Blue Note} “Analogue Productions”


Review by Stacia Proefrock (allmusic.com)

From the first moments when Dexter Gordon sails into the opening song full of brightness and confidence, it is obvious that Go! is going to be one of those albums where everything just seems to come together magically. A stellar quartet including the stylish pianist Sonny Clark, the agile drummer Billy Higgins, and the solid yet flexible bassist Butch Warren are absolutely crucial in making this album work, but it is still Gordon who shines. Whether he is dropping quotes into “Three O’Clock in the Morning” or running around with spritely bop phrases in “Cheese Cake,” the album pops and crackles with energy and exuberance. Beautiful ballads like “I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry” metamorphosize that energy into emotion and passion, but you can still see it there nonetheless. Gordon had many high points in his five decade-long career, but this is certainly the peak of it all.

Tracks:
01 – Cheese Cake
02 – I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry
03 – Second Balcony Jump
04 – Love for Sale
05 – Where Are You
06 – Three O’Clock in the Morning

Personnel:
Dexter Gordon – tenor sax
Sonny Clark – piano
Butch Warren – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Originally released in 1962.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Grant Green – Born to Be Blue {Blue Note}


Review by Alex Henderson (allmusic.com)

Although Grant Green provided his share of groove-oriented soul-jazz and modal post-bop, his roots were hard bop, and it is in a bop-oriented setting that the guitarist excels on Born to Be Blue. Most of the material on this five-star album was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s New Jersey studio on December 11, 1961, when Green was joined by tenor titan Ike Quebec, pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Louis Hayes. Tragically, Quebec was near the end of his life — the distinctive saxman died of lung cancer at the age of 44 on January 16, 1963 — but there is no evidence of Quebec’s declining health on Born to Be Blue. He was playing as authoritatively as ever well into 1962, and the saxman is in fine form on hard-swinging interpretations of “Someday My Prince Will Come” and Al Jolson’s “Back in Your Own Back Yard.” It’s interesting to hear Quebec playing bop, for his big, breathy tone was right out of swing and was greatly influenced by Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. Although Quebec and Green (who was 14 years younger) had very different musical backgrounds, they were always quite compatible musically. They clearly enjoyed a strong rapport on the uptempo selections as well as ballads like “My One and Only Love” and Mel Torme’s “Born to Be Blue.” Originally a vinyl LP, this album was reissued on CD in 1989, when Blue Note added an alternate take of the title song and a previously unreleased version of Charlie Parker’s “Cool Blues.”

Tracks:
01 – Someday My Prince Will Come
02 – Born to Be Blue
03 – Born to Be Blue (alternate take)
04 – If I Should Lose You
05 – Back in Your Own Back Yard
06 – My One and Only Love
07 – Count Every Star
08 – Cool Blues
09 – Outer Space

Personnel:
Grant Green – guitar
Ike Quebec – tenor sax
Sonny Clark – piano
Sam Jones – bass
Louis Hayes – drums

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
on December 11, 1961 and March 1, 1962.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork