Stride pianist Don Ewell made three albums for Good Time Jazz during 1956-57 and all are quite enjoyable. This CD reissues the first of his LPs (great title!) and features Ewell on five solos and seven pieces with a trio that also includes clarinetist Darnell Howard and drummer Minor Hall. Ewell is in top form and the many highlights include "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me," Howard's "Bush Street Scramble," "You Took Advantage of Me" and "My Honey's Lovin' Arms.
Sonny Criss plays Cole Porter – and the results are way greater than the sum of the parts – even though those parts are already pretty darn great! Criss' alto sax has a superb tone at this time – razor-sharp, and nicely crisp – yet still filled with warmth that sets it apart from some of his more modern contemporaries – a beautiful balance that really illuminates these tunes, and has you thinking of them as fresh Criss compositions, not older Porter standards. The instrumentation is quite fresh, too – thanks to the addition of Larry Bunker on vibes, which is a really nice surprise – and piano by Sonny Clark and Jimmy Bunn. The great Lawrence Marable plays drums – and titles include "I Love You", "Easy To Love", "Night & Day", and "Love For Sale".
Miles once said, "All my inspiration today comes from Ahmad Jamal." These recordings are the reason why. The mid fifties was a fertile time for jazz; fresh, original ensembles were taking shape all over the country. The Modern Jazz Quartet, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, The Jazz Messengers and the Ahmad Jamal Trio immediately come to mind. Among musicians, each group had its imitators and its creative disciples who took its innovations one step further.