In the bebop revolution of the 1940’s, as Charlie Parker was the leading voice of the alto saxophone, so was Bud Powell the leading voice of the piano. Recorded in 1956 (before his Paris sojourn), the long-unavailable Blues in the Closet features Powell’s lightning-fast runs and nimble keyboard navigations on a set of originals and well-chosen standards. He is accompanied by Osie Johnson, a solid mainstream drummer, and the dean of jazz bassists, Ray Brown. A must for Powell fans and bop devotees.
When one thinks of altoist/flutist Bud Shank's recordings of the 1950s, it is normally of his work with Stan Kenton's orchestra or collaborations with Laurindo Almeida or Bob Cooper. However, Shank led a superior quartet from 1956-1958 that also included pianist Claude Williamson, bassist Don Prell, and either Chuck Flores or Jimmy Pratt on drums. This typically magnificent five-CD limited-edition box set from Mosaic has the quartet's four albums (including a set that was recorded in Johannesburg, South Africa), a selection by Shank with a sextet that includes vibraphonist Larry Bunker, and three slightly later sets.
Though Jimmy Raney recorded under his own name as early as 1953, this 1956 set is regarded as his arrival as a leader. Raney is as fine an arranger as he is a guitarist. These eight tracks with Bob Brookmeyer on trombone (another fine arranger in a soloist's role) shine with the ease and fluidity of the best of the cool sessions recorded at the dawn of hard bop. One of the finest examples of the interplay between Raney and Brookmeyer occurs at the beginning of the album's second track, "How Long Has This Been Going On?," where the pair engage in a brief contrapuntal dialogue before Brookmeyer solos on the melody and Raney gently fills the space behind him by whispering his chords and fills through the trombonist's phrasing, before taking his own solo and slipping an inverted harmonic pattern on the tune's lyric line. ..
In the midst of his tenure with the Oscar Peterson Trio, Herb Ellis had the chance to turn the tables on his boss and employ him as a sideman, though the keyboard virtuoso strangely reigns in his chops and pretty much stays in the background. This pair of sessions was first issued on a Norgran LP and finally reissued as a Verve CD in early 2006. The first four tracks add Jimmy Giuffre (alternating between baritone sax, tenor sax, and clarinet) and trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, along with fellow Peterson sideman Ray Brown and drummer Alvin Stoller. Ellis' originals include the easygoing "Sweetheart Blues" and the cooking bop vehicle "Pogo," where both the leader and Edison eclipse Giuffre's efforts on sax. ..
Most of this CD features vibraphonist Teddy Charles heading an advanced tentet in 1956, a unit including the likes of trumpeter Art Farmer, altoist Gigi Gryce, tenor saxophonist J.R. Monterose, pianist Mal Waldron, and guitarist Jimmy Raney. The arrangements of George Russell ("Lydian M-1"), Gil Evans (a year before Miles Ahead), Jimmy Giuffre, Mal Waldron, and Charles are quite advanced but often leave room for some swinging spots.