Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. Comes with a descripton in Japanese. A heck of a great little album from drummer Billy Higgins – one of his few standout efforts as a leader, after years and years of impeccable work as a player on some of our favorite records! The set's got a simple, almost innocuous approach – with Higgins leading a quartet that features Cedar Walton on piano, Walter Booker on bass, and Monty Waters on alto sax. But from the very first note, the album bristles with energy and excitement – in a mode that recalls the Clifford Jordan recordings that also featured Higgins from the mid 70s – sharing a similar sense of soulful and joyous expression. Waters is really great, with a really biting, honest tone – and singer Roberta Davis joins the group on an excellent reading of Waters' composition "Sugar & Spice". Other tracks include Walton's nice "Midnite Waltz", and great versions of Horace Silver's "Peace" and Sonny Rollins' "Sonnymoon For Two".
The Stranger is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on September 29, 1977, by Columbia Records. While his four previous albums had been moderately successful, The Stranger became Joel's true critical and commercial breakthrough, spending six weeks at #2 on the U.S. album charts. Considered his magnum opus, it remains his best-selling non-compilation album to date, and was ranked number 70 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
This is a little-known and rather melancholy set, virtually Billy Strayhorn's only recording away from the world of Duke Ellington. The focus is totally on Strayhorn's piano throughout his interpretations of ten of his compositions (including "Lush Life," "Take the 'A' Train," and "Something to Live For"). Three selections have the Paris Blue Notes adding sparse wordless vocals, two other numbers add some quiet playing by the Paris String Quartet, and bassist Michel Goudret is on five of the ten selections (including one apiece with the strings and the voices). "Strange Feeling" and "Chelsea Bridge" are taken as unaccompanied piano solos. Of the ten songs, only "Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin'" hints at happiness; otherwise, Strayhorn's melodic and concise playing is quite somber, peaceful in volume but filled with inner tension.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. A familiar grouping, but one that's presented here in a very different way – as bassist David Williams is up front in the lead, instead of working in his more familiar role in the trio of pianist Cedar Walton! Yet Walton's on board for this debut set from Williams as a leader – as is drummer Billy Higgins – and it's wonderful to hear the way they change things up slightly to give David more time in the spotlight, and to hear the way that Williams hits some of his more lyrical, melodic modes too – qualities that further our love of his talents on the bass, which were already great enough when working behind Walton. Cedar gets in plenty of solos along the way, but often cedes more time to Williams.
This 1982 recording features saxophonist Sonny Simmons and drummer Billy Higgins and a smokin' pickup band that included bassist Herbie Lewis and pianist Joe Bonner, and a horn section that added Michael Marcus on baritone, Al Thomas on trombone, and Joe Hardin on trumpet. The opener is "Sparrow's Last Jump," a stomping hard bop workout that features Simmons in top lyrical form and Lewis bowing the entire tune, despite the fact that it's based on hard bop – hell, post-hard bop – changes and is played in 6/8 Mingus tempo! Of course, Higgins is dancing all over the kit and it's obvious that, in his solo, Simmons is reading that frenetic yet seamless dance because he goes over the time signature with his legato phrasing and cascades his arpeggios right through the middle of the intervals. It settles a bit on the title track, where the horns are left out so Simmons is sitting in only the rhythm section. Here, Higgins plays out a double-time rhythm on the ride cymbal before slowing it to four.
More conventional straight jazz set, with some Afro-Latin and Brazilian flavor by Toninho Horta, this time paired with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Billy Higgins for trio sessions. Horta's playing is competent and sometimes exciting, but it's the interaction of Peacock and Higgins that hold things together.