Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach first collaborated on "God Give Me Strength," a sweeping ballad that functioned as the centerpiece in Allison Anders' Grace of My Heart. It was a stunning song in the tradition of Bacharach's classic '60s work and it was successful enough that the composers decided to collaborate on a full album, Painted from Memory. Wisely, they chose to work within the stylistic parameters of Bacharach's '60s material, but Painted from Memory never sounds like a stylistic exercise. Instead, it's a return to form for both artists. Bacharach hasn't written such graceful, powerful melodies since his glory days, and Costello hasn't crafted such a fully realized album since King of America. It's a testament to both that even if the album is clearly in Bacharach's territory, it feels like a genuine collaboration.
Guitarist Stanley Jordan (the master of tapping, making his instrument sound like two or three at once) has a wide definition of standards, ranging beyond jazz. His second official Blue Note release therefore not only includes "Georgia On My Mind" and "My Favorite Things," but Paul Simon's "The Sounds of Silence," "Moon River," the Beatles' "Because," and "Silent Night." But no matter what the tune, the main reason to acquire this set of unaccompanied guitar solos is to hear how here remarkable and versatile Jordan's technique is.
One of the most accessible of all jazz pianists, Gene Harris' soulful style (influenced by Oscar Peterson and containing the blues-iness of a Junior Mance) was immediately likable and predictably excellent. After playing in an Army band (1951-1954), he formed a trio with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Bill Dowdy which was, by 1956, known as the Three Sounds. The group was quite popular, and recorded regularly during 1956-1970 for Blue Note and Verve. Although the personnel changed and the music became more R&B-oriented in the early '70s, Harris retained the Three Sounds name for his later Blue Note sets. He retired to Boise, ID, in 1977, and was largely forgotten when Ray Brown persuaded him to return to the spotlight in the early '80s. Harris worked for a time with the Ray Brown Trio and led his own quartets in the years to follow, recording regularly for Concord and heading the Phillip Morris Superband on a few tours; 1998's Tribute to Count Basie even earned a Grammy nomination.
Duke Pearson rises to the challenge of writing for an all-star octet (with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, trombonist Garnett Brown, altoist James Spaulding, Jerry Dodgion on alto and flute, Stanley Turrentine on tenor, bassist Gene Taylor, drummer Grady Tate, and the leader/pianist), contributing colorful frameworks and consistently challenging compositions. The set is full of diverse melodies (the CD reissue has a previously unissued take of "Los Malos Hombres") played by a variety of distinctive soloists; many of these songs deserve to be revived. This is one of the finest recordings of Duke Pearson's career.
A jazz classic if there ever was one – and the best-selling album ever by Lee Morgan, thanks to the use of the title track in a car commercial! Sure, you've probably heard "The Sidewinder" enough that you think you know the album already – but the rest of the tunes really open up past that groover, into a realm of lyrical, soulful playing that's simply tremendous! The group on the record features Joe Henderson on tenor, Barry Harris on piano, Bob Crenshaw on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums – and the album rolls along with a sense of perfect power that is every bit Blue Note at its best!
Drummer Alphonse Mouzon's fourth solo album, The Man Incognito, was recorded in Los Angeles in late 1975 and released in 1976. Mouzon is surrounded on these nine original songs by a large and impressive group of musicians and backing vocalists including Tom Scott on saxophones, Lee Ritenour on guitar and keyboardists Dave Grusin, David Benoit and George Duke (billed here as Dawilli Gonga).