Art Blakey's 1963 Jazz Messengers (which included trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, tenor-saxophonist Wayne Shorter, trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist Cedar Walton and bassist Reggie Workman in addition to the drummer-leader) was one of his finest. The CD reissue (which adds two songs to the seven on the original LP) has plenty of strong moments, particularly on "Ping-Pong," Shorter's feature ("I Didn't Know What Time It Was") and the memorable "One by One." This high-quality hard bop session is recommended. [Ugetsu was reissued in 2006 and includes bonus tracks.] …amg
The second volume of Thelonious Monk's appearance at the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival is drawn from two separate concerts on back to back days, with the pianist joined by longtime tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist John Ore and drummer Frank Dunlop…
Half of this LP contains the famous session on which Sonny Rollins teamed up with his idol, the great tenor Coleman Hawkins. Actually, the competitive Rollins did everything he could during these performances to throw Hawk off with plenty of sound explorations and free playing, but Hawkins keeps from getting lost and battles Rollins for a tie; pianist Paul Bley plays well too. The remainder of this LP (three selections apiece from the former LPs Now's the Time and The Standard Sonny Rollins) is more conventional but has its moments of interest. The young Herbie Hancock is on piano for all of these tracks and guitarist Jim Hall helps on "Trav'lin Light." Rollins's RCA recordings of the '60s are all worth picking up.
This is a little-known and rather melancholy set, virtually Billy Strayhorn's only recording away from the world of Duke Ellington. The focus is totally on Strayhorn's piano throughout his interpretations of ten of his compositions (including "Lush Life," "Take the 'A' Train," and "Something to Live For"). Three selections have the Paris Blue Notes adding sparse wordless vocals, two other numbers add some quiet playing by the Paris String Quartet, and bassist Michel Goudret is on five of the ten selections (including one apiece with the strings and the voices). "Strange Feeling" and "Chelsea Bridge" are taken as unaccompanied piano solos. Of the ten songs, only "Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin'" hints at happiness; otherwise, Strayhorn's melodic and concise playing is quite somber, peaceful in volume but filled with inner tension.
In 1954, Capitol Records released the 10" LP collection Eight Top Pops, compiling eight songs that had appeared on singles by Nat King Cole during 1952. The first two, "Somewhere Along the Way" and "Walkin' My Baby Back Home," were the biggest hits, both reaching number eight in Billboard. "Because You're Mine," Cole's cover of the Mario Lanza movie song (done in a far more relaxed style than Lanza's, of course), was also a major hit, reaching number 16. "Faith Can Move Mountains" and "The Ruby and the Pearl" were somewhat less successful, but still lodged in the Top 30, as did the B-sides "Funny (Not Much)" and "I'm Never Satisfied." The only one of the eight songs not to earn a chart placing was "A Weaver of Dreams," the B-side of the single "Wine, Women and Song." In 1963, Capitol expanded Eight Top Pops into the 12" LP Top Pops by adding two tracks at the end of either side of the original release. These four songs all came from an EP recorded by Cole in 1954, on which he covered hits by other performers, including Doris Day's "If I Give My Heart to You," the De Castro Singers' "Teach Me Tonight," and Perry Como's "Papa Loves Mambo".