Few rock & roll or R&B guitarists of the '50s and '60s have a more consistently frantic body of work than the great Mickey Baker, though his name isn't nearly as well-known as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, or Ike Turner. Baker did most of his work as a sideman, and his best-known recordings as a headliner found him playing second fiddle to Sylvia Robinson as half of Mickey & Sylvia (whose "Love Is Strange" remains a puzzling delight 50 years after it was recorded), but folks who know and love first-era rock & roll are aware of Baker's greatness, and this collection is a superb overview of his work, both as a bandleader and as a hired gun.
Hit songs of a decade that influenced the shape of popular music as we know it from homegrown British stars to those that made ripples from across the pond. Rock and rollers, crooners, souls stars, pop princes and princess and a whole lot more.
When it came to tenor saxophonists, the late organist Shirley Scott had excellent taste. One of the big-toned tenor men she worked with extensively was Stanley Turrentine, whom she married; another was Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. Recorded in Rudy Van Gelder's New Jersey studio in 1959, Bacalao is among the many solid hard bop/soul-jazz albums that resulted from Davis' association with Scott. The two of them enjoyed an incredibly strong rapport in the late '50s and early '60s, and they are very much in sync on Bacalao (which unites them with bassist George Duvivier, drummer Arthur Edgehill, and two Latin percussion men: Luis Perez and salsa giant Ray Barretto).
One of the giants of the alto saxophone, Johnny Hodges was perhaps the most important soloist and sideman in Duke Ellington's orchestra from 1928 up to Hodges' death in 1970. The self-taught player made many solo forays during his long career - one of his '50s outfits included a young John Coltrane - but history remembers Hodges for his virtuosic sidemanship, particularly his sensitive rendering of ballads.
At the time of its release, Shaved Fish didn't attract as much attention as any compilation of John Lennon's work would have either a few years before or a few years after. Lennon had just issued the somewhat disappointing genre album, Rock 'n' Roll, and was only a year from Walls and Bridges, not one of his strongest albums, and had also grown somewhat stale as a public figure.