RARE TRAX is a continued series of promotional samplers given away with the german edition of Rolling Stone magazine since the 1990's and has reached volume 80 already. Each version covers a special topic and presents lesser known songs and/or artists.
Ray Bryant's first solo piano album is rightfully considered a classic. Bryant, at the time thought of as a young modern traditionalist, has always felt perfectly at home playing the blues. He performs five original and diverse blues on this set along with "Lover Man" and "Rockin' Chair," showing that he really never needed a bassist or a drummer to sound like a complete band. This Prestige album was reissued in the Original Jazz Classics but thus far only as an LP; highly recommended in any case.
In the excavation of Pompeii, a stone-encrusted body is found with a bronze medallion bearing a strange Etruscan inscription. Carlo Fiorillo, Italian archaeologist, speculates the robust body may hold some life; medical researcher Paul Mallon scoffs at the idea. But people left alone with the seemingly petrified "faceless man" keep dying of crushed skulls; and Paul's artist fiancée Tina starts having strange visions…
This album preserves a great performance by a rare gathering of players, with drummer Jake Hanna and trombonist Carl Fontana as the headliners. Fontana, one of the top jazz soloists on his instrument, is featured on the first two tracks, "A Beautiful Friendship" and "Sweet and Lovely." Tenor sax and trumpet are added for the rest of the tunes, except the ballad "Old Folks" which features the tenor alone with the rhythm section. The soloist is Plas Johnson, a star in his own right, who is perhaps most widely remembered for his famous Pink Panther solo with Henry Mancini.