A strong early winner from Blue – recorded with an all-star group that includes Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Heath, Wynton Kelly, Sam Jones, and Philly Joe Jones. Mitchell's not necessarily the leader – Benny Golson and Jimmy Heath handled the arrangements – but the group overall is great, and the set has a nice mix of lyricality and hard bop groove. 9 numbers in all, including "Minor Vamp", "The Head", "Top Shelf", "Blue Soul", "The Way You Look Tonight", "Park Avenue Petite", "Polka Dots & Moonbeams", "Nica's Dream", and "Waverly Street".
A great change of pace for Billy Taylor – and one of the most striking sessions he made in the 50s! As you'll guess from the title, the record features Taylor's piano along with four flutes – played by Frank Wess, Herbie Mann, Jerome Richardson, and Phil Bodner – working here both in group formation, and in solo mode – fluttering nicely with a cool jazzy sound that really prefaces lots of use of the instrument in the 60s! Another added bonus on the record is added congas from Chano Pozo on most tracks, making for a groovy Latinesque bounce. Titles include "Blue Shutters", "One For The Woofer", "The Song Is Ended", "Back Home", "No Parking", and "Lady Be Good".
This album covers roughly two years in Rollins's career when he was beginning to emerge as an important force in contemporary jazz. "I Know" was his first track as a leader, taped at the end of a January 1951 Miles Davis date at Davis's insistence. (Miles even played piano for him.) Sonny's first date as a leader took place on a snowy December night at the end of that year. The meeting with the Modern Jazz Quartet, in October 1953, showed a new maturity, especially in the rendition of Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood."