This Savoy double CD brings together in one package all of the label's sessions led by Harden, a talented young musician who turned up briefly, disappeared and is presumed to have died in the 1960s. It includes several alternate takes, giving ample evidence of his attractiveness as a player. He wrote all the pieces, which are more substantial than the on-the-spot "compositions" of many Savoy sessions of the '50s. Sometimes playing trumpet and sometimes rotary valve flugelhorn, he was capable of range, power and bursts of speed, but he built many of his solos on a base of restraint, lyricism and a certain wistfulness.
This outstanding release features the complete collection of recordings made by John Coltrane with the trumpeter and fluegelhornist Wilbur Harden, a mysterious figure in jazz history, who was forced to retire at the age of 35 due to ill health. Featuring some of the finest jazzmen of the era -Tommy Flanagan, Curtis Fuller, Louis Hayes and Art Taylor-, this music leaves no doubt that Trane remains a jazz innovator of epochal dimensions.
This fine two-disc set brings together all the recordings Thelonious Monk made for the small, influential Riverside label in 1957. The piano eccentric cut excellent versions of some of his best compositions during that year, including "Off Minor," "Epistrophy," "Well, You Needn't," and the lovely "Ruby My Dear." The exhilarating saxophone work of John Coltrane makes these dates instant classics. Like most "complete sessions," the set features plenty of false starts and alternate takes that might seem extraneous to the casual fan, but Monk fanatics will be overjoyed at being provided with a glimpse into the brilliant artist's studio process.
Duke Ellington recorded for Brunswick from 1926 to 1931, the period in which his great talent and great orchestra first flowered, whether the band was recording under his own name or such pseudonyms as the Washingtonians or the Jungle Band. The earliest recordings are highlighted by the presence of trumpeter Bubber Miley and trombonist "Tricky Sam" Nanton, whose brilliant work with plunger mutes for vocal effects did much to define the early sound–which, in turn, rapidly evolved and expanded with the additions of Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges, and Cootie Williams. While the band's repertoire included many blues and popular songs, its distinctive identity emerges from early renditions of such trademark pieces as "East St. Louis Toodle-O," "Black and Tan Fantasy," "The Mooche," and "Mood Indigo." By the end of the period covered in this set, Ellington's ambitious later suites–some of them CD-length–are portended in the elegant extended composition "Creole Rhapsody," his clearly superior contribution to the symphonic jazz movement.