Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a great movie. It celebrates a certain vintage lifestyle, in which quality, deliberate slowness, and a love for nostalgia and the luxurious fight against the inevitability of greed and the fast pace of today’s world. However, there is only one weak scene: At the end of the film the two vampires Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are in Tanger and pass by a club in which the Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan is playing and the two protagonists get lost in the music. In this scene I wished Jarmusch had chosen a more interesting band instead of Hamdan’s rather insipid electro/world-music brew.
As Freddie Roach's Blue Note career progressed, his work increasingly celebrated contemporary black culture, and accordingly developed a greater interest in funky, jukebox-ready grooves, a stylistic departure from his initial melodic finesse. Roach took both interests with him to Prestige, as demonstrated on The Soul Book/Mocha Motion, a U.K.-only two-fer compiling his first two albums for the label. Roach definitely brings the hard funk on parts of The Soul Book, but there's a laid-back, even meditative quality to others, which is surprising since his liner notes seem to suggest a concept album about the urban grit of Harlem.
Recorded on December 3, 1963, The Freedom Book is a near perfect set of modern hard bop, ranging just far enough out there to feel fresh but retaining a strong lifeline to bop tradition. Highlights of the session include an impressive Ervin original, "A Lunar Tune," a fine version of Randy Weston's "Cry Me Not," the deliberately strident "Al's In," and another Ervin composition, the moving "A Day to Mourn," an emotionally charged ballad written after the assassination of JFK. The bonus track, an interesting and brief treatment of Victor Young's "Stella by Starlight," a piece strongly associated with Charlie Parker, was recorded at the Freedom Book session but was originally released on the album Groovin' High. It fits perfectly here, capping off a wonderful album.