This is McCoy Tyner in the Blue Note studios five months after his boss of the previous six years, John Coltrane, had died. Tyner had made albums under his name during the Coltrane period, but this set for a bigger Tyner band, including the tenor saxist Bennie Maupin and trumpeter Lee Morgan represents a more radical break from the more orthodox piano trio or sax-led quartet jazz the pianist had fitfully explored since 1963.
Don't ya just love 'em? Jazz critics that is. I was reading just the other day what a complete waste of Lou Donaldson's ample talents his late 60's boogaloo beat records are. Well I am sorry - but I think they're great! It's all an attitude - sure LD's blowing is represented better elsewhere - but that just isn't the point. What we have here is archetypal party music, be it a scene from a 1960's movie or the Wag one Monday in the late 80's bursting at the seems as "Rev. Moses" shifts up a gear.
While not a universally praised piece of the Art Blakey discography, The African Beat is quite engaging. Yusef Lateef is the only horn player, featured on oboe, flute, tenor sax, cow horn, and thumb piano with Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass, but trombonist Curtis Fuller is only heard playing tympani – it was that kind of session. The drum ensemble includes Chief Bey, along with five other percussionists on conboro, log, and bata drums with penny whistles, gongs, congas, and African maracas. This is reminiscent of Lateef's more exotic sessions from the same time period, but quite unlike other Blue Note releases from the early '60s.
Some of Grant Green's hottest moments as a jazz-funk bandleader came on his live records of the era, which were filled with extended, smoking grooves and gritty ensemble interplay. Live at the Lighthouse makes a fine companion piece to the excellent Alive!, though there are some subtle differences which give the album its own distinct flavor. For starters, the average track length is even greater, with four of the six jams clocking in at over 12 minutes. That makes it easy to get lost in the grooves as the musicians ride and work them over.
Stardust is another satisfying record from Ron Carter, this one in part a tribute to the late Oscar Pettiford. Leading a quintet with Benny Golson on tenor, Joe Locke on vibes, Sir Roland Hanna on piano, and Lenny White on drums, Carter picks three choice tunes by Pettiford – the swing-to-tango "Tamalpais," the minor-key bop classic "Bohemia After Dark," and the masterfully simple "Blues in the Closet."
Mose Allison, who was a musical institution long before 1987, had not run out of creative juices after 30 years of major league performances. This set finds him introducing such ironically truthful songs as "Ever Since The World Ended," "Top Forty," "I Looked In The Mirror" and "What's Your Movie." The many guest artists (including altoist Arthur Blythe, tenor-saxophonist Bennie Wallace, Bob Malach on both alto and tenor and guitarist Kenny Burrell) are unnecessary frivolities but Allison's trio (with bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Tom Whaley) is tight and ably backs the unique singer-pianist.
Although the title of this CD makes it sound as if tenor-saxophonist Joe Lovano was performing veteran jazz classics on this date, all but one of the ten songs played by his quintet are actually Lovano originals. With strong assistance provided by guitarist John Abercrombie, pianist Ken Werner, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Bill Stewart, Lovano often sounds like a mixture of Dewey Redman and early John Coltrane on his enjoyable set. His music has enough variety to hold one's interest, Abercrombie is in particularly strong form and Lovano is consistently creative during the modern mainstream music.
Andrew Hill has been, in the gentlest of cases, an idiosyncratic player, composer, and bandleader. But often, reviews of his work have been quite strident and refer to him as an iconoclast. That's okay; some critics thought of Monk and Herbie Nichols that way, too. Time Lines has Hill back – for the third time in his long career – with Blue Note, the label that gave birth to his enduring classics like Black Fire and Judgment!. But Hill is still every bit the creative and technically gifted musician he was back in the day; perhaps more so. His band features seasoned veteran Charles Tolliver on trumpet, saxophonist Greg Tardy (who also triples on clarinet and bass clarinet, and beautifully, to say the least), and a rhythm section composed of bassist John Herbert and drummer Eric McPherson.