Lou Rawls has had a long and commercially successful career mostly singing soul, R&B, and pop music. Originally a gospel singer, Rawls' first album as a leader features him performing soulful standards backed by the Les McCann Trio. Few of the songs have been under-recorded through the years, but they sound fresh and lively when sung by Rawls; highlights include "Stormy Monday," "In the Evening," and "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water." Pianist McCann gets a generous amount of solo space, and the reissue has three bonus tracks. This is still Rawls' definitive recording in the jazz idiom, cut before he went on to more lucrative areas.
Having sponsored Ornette Coleman at the School of Jazz near Lennox, MA, pianist and composer John Lewis helped launch the controversial career of one of the last great innovators in jazz. Lewis' support of the ragtag Texas native was somewhat unique in jazz circles at the time and even surprising, especially considering the gulf between the classical jazz formality of his group the Modern Jazz Quartet and Coleman's radical notions of free improvisation. Nevertheless, Lewis not only saw in Coleman the first jazz genius since bebop's Parker, Gillespie, and Monk, but put pay to the praise with the MJQ's 1962 rendition of one of Coleman's most famous numbers, "Lonely Woman." (Along with Art Pepper's 1960 version of "Tears Inside," this was one of the earliest of Coleman covers done.)
On The Blue Room, her second Decca recording, Madeleine Peyroux and producer Larry Klein re-examine the influence of Ray Charles' revolutionary 1962 date, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. They don't try to re-create the album, but remake some of its songs and include others by composers whose work would benefit from the genre-blurring treatment Charles pioneered. Bassist David Pilch, drummer Jay Bellerose, guitarist Dean Parks, and pianist/organist Larry Goldings are the perfect collaborators. Most these ten tracks feature string arrangements by Vince Mendoza. Five tunes here are reinterpretations of Charles' from MSICAWM. "Take These Chains" commences as a sultry jazz tune, and in Peyroux's vocal, there is no supplication – only a demand. Parks' pedal steel moves between sounding like itself and a clarinet. Goldings' alternating B-3 and Rhodes piano offer wonderful color contrast and make it swing. Her take on "Bye Bye Love" feels as if it's being narrated to a confidante, and juxtaposes early Western swing with a bluesy stroll. A rock guitar introduces "I Can't Stop Loving You," but Peyroux's phrasing has more country-blues in it than we've heard from her before. The use of a trumpet in "Born to Lose" and "You Don't Know Me," with Mendoza's dreamy strings, allow for Peyroux to deliver her most stylized jazz performances on the set.
The Wild West cowboy occupies a symbolic and central place in popular culture. The lone rider, out on the range… The white-hatted hero facing up to a gang of outlaws in a gunfight… The wagon train heading out over the horizon… Celebrated in cinema since the beginning of movies, the cowboy has also found a regular home on record, as this double CD collection testifies. Listen to these songs and, with just a little imagination, you can picture the solitary cowboy on his trusty steed, watching a cattle round-up, or making his way into a town like Tombstone… A timeless myth, captured forever in these Songs Of The Wild West…
A significant recording, as this is Joe Pass' debut on vinyl. It was recorded while Pass was still a patient at the Synanon Drug Center in California. Made with fellow patients, Pass proved to be a star. It is interesting to note that Pass played an electric solid-body rock guitar, as he did not even own a guitar at this time. His legendary chops are especially evident on "Projections" and "Hang Tough," featuring some of his cleanest playing ever recorded. His accompanists prove to be adequate, but hardly approach the genius of Pass. A landmark recording in the history of jazz guitar.
This recording lives up to its title. In his prime, Phineas Newborn had phenomenal technique (on the level of an Oscar Peterson), a creative imagination, and plenty of energy. These trio sessions (with Leroy Vinnegar or Sam Jones on bass and either Milt Turner or Louis Hayes on drums) feature Newborn displaying plenty of heat and fresh ideas on compositions by Bud Powell, Bobby Timmons, Benny Golson, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis (along with two of his own). This is piano jazz at its highest level.
Inspired by Charlie Parker and then Jackie McLean, the widely experienced, Detroit-born altoist Sonny Red, nee Sylvester Kyner (1932-1980) was an archetypal Motor City bopper, who, like many of his confreres there, also absorbed the blues-drenched lines of pianist Bud Powell. Forthright, direct, unpretentious, a skilled soloist with a strong feeling for the blues, he played and recorded with some of the finest jazzmen around. The presence here of such luminous talents as, most notably, pianist Barry Harris, along with fellow pianist Tommy Flanagan, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, saxophonists Clifford Jordan and Yusef Lateef, and guitarist Grant Green left no doubt about his stature among them…
The three albums tenorman Bill Barron made as a leader for Savoy Records in early 60s embody every facet of this accomplished jazzman as a talented soloist, composer and arranger. And, despite the similarities in their harmonic ideas, Barron was not a slavish disciple of John Coltrane.
To the late, great jazz critic, Leonard Feather, pianist Don Randi was an astonishing performer. He is capable of swinging furiously, has a deathdefying technique and manages to combine his frantic excursions with an element of passionate communication that gives them much more than technical value. And, during the last months of 1960 the 23-year old brought these gifts to Hollywoods small club, The Losers, and kept a packed audience in a constant state of musical excitement with his wellintegrated trio. There was an appealingly gutty strength to his playing that everyone could feel, with a basic, strong, honest feeling for the blues, while his originalssuch as Feelin Like Blues, Blues for Miti or Take Six augured well for him as a composer.