Although Chet Baker's recordings from late in his life varied dramatically in quality, this series of studio sessions is a high point in his career. After having his trumpet stolen, he plays beautifully with a borrowed flügelhorn throughout most of these songs with a powerful tone, especially on "Baby Breeze" and Hal Galper's intense "This Is the Thing." Baker delivers some strong vocals on the session led by pianist Bobby Scott, though Scott's huge hit "A Taste of Honey" is marred somewhat by his odd honky tonk piano in the background.
Guitarist Gabor Szabo's debut as a leader (after an important stint with the Chico Hamilton Quintet) is surprisingly successful. The reason this LP is a bit of a surprise is that the repertoire (in addition to two originals apiece by the leader and Gary McFarland) has a few unlikely songs by the Beatles ("Yesterday" and "If I Fell") and Burt Bacharach (including "Walk On By"). Usually jazz adaptations of rock songs in the 1960s are lightweight, but Szabo's original sound, the unusual instrumentation (two or three guitars, Sadao Watanabe on flute, Gary McFarland on marimba, bass, drums and percussion) and McFarland's clever arrangements uplift the music. The playing time at 35 minutes is a bit brief, but the performances are better than expected.
This is a fantastic example to the 60's Soul Jazz movement. Cox, an accomplished musician, didn't want to be a basketball coach. When he was growing up in Cincinnati, he wanted to be a great baseball player, another Jackie Robinson. And he wanted to be a great jazz saxophone player, another Charlie Parker. After graduating from Kentucky State, Cox came to Chicago with classmate Joe Henderson, the famed tenor sax player. They were en route to California to become professional musicians. But Cox never left. He found a home – and another occupation – on the South Side.
This is a rather relaxed recording featuring baritonist Gerry Mulligan and some of his top alumni (trumpeter Art Farmer, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Dave Bailey) exploring three of his own songs (including "Festive Minor"), Chopin's Prelude in E minor, "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," and "Morning of the Carnival" (from Black Orpheus). The emphasis is on ballads and nothing too innovative occurs, but the results are pleasing and laid-back.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Paul Smith is well-known to jazz fans for his sterling accompaniment on a number of Ella Fitzgerald's best albums, particularly Ella in Berlin. But the veteran pianist has recorded quite a bit on his own, though few of his LPs (like this Warner Bros. album from the 1960s) have been reissued on CD. Joining him on this trio date are bassist Wilfred Middlebrooks (who worked alongside Smith with Ella) and drummer Frank Capp.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. The Grass Roots pairs the only two recordings drummer Grassella Oliphant ever released as a leader. He was a solid sideman in the 1950s with Sarah Vaughan, and then later with singer Gloria Lynne and organist Shirley Scott. Both these titles were released on Atlantic. The first, The Grass Roots, features saxophonist Harold Ousley, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, and bassist Ray McKinney.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Drummer Grassella Oliphant's The Grass Is Greener is as good as it is rare. One of many soulful organ jazz dates that have gained cult status among sample hungry hip-hop and acid jazz devotees, this 1967 Atlantic album is packed with great playing and solid grooves (besides recording only one other album as a leader, his 1965 debut The Grass Roots, Oliphant also appeared on dates by singer Gloria Lynne and organist Shirley Scott, among others). With guitarist Grant Green and B-3 master John Patton completing the classic organ combo setup, the trio particularly stretch out on fine numbers like "Cantaloupe Woman" and Patton's own "Soul Woman."
One of the hippest Milt Jackson albums of the 60s – a set that definitely lives up to its Museum Of Modern Art setting! The performance is one of the most famous from that museum's well-remembered series of 60s jazz concerts – and it features Milt Jackson's quintet really stretching out nicely – hitting sharper tones and bolder notes than in some of their other sessions of the decade, and possibly picking up a freer feel overall in the live setting. Milt's vibes are wonderfully accompanied by the reeds of Jimmy Heath and piano of Cedar Walton – both players who mix soul and modern elements in the same sort of perfect blend that Jackson hits. And the rhythm section is tightly snapping and soulful – never too groove-oriented, but always conscious of a sense of a swing – thanks to bass from Ron Carter and drums from Candy Finch.