In the 1970's, the trumpeter Charles Tolliver was a righteous force in New York straight-ahead jazz. He pushed his energy to sustain sets of long, wending tunes with his quartet, which didn't include another horn player. The music – created in tandem with the pianist Stanley Cowell – was based on middle-period Coltrane: dark, modal, hard-driving, springy. Mr. Tolliver released it on his own label, Strata-East, setting an early and effective example of self-reliance in the jazz business. This set collects three out-of-print albums from Strata-East from 1970 to 1973, recorded live at Slugs' in New York and at a concert hall in Tokyo, and they're hard bop with a vengeance.
Larry Ehrlich was at end of a long day in a studio in Bristol, VA. Carter and Ralph Stanley as well as Ralph Mayo and Curley Lambert entered the studio in front of one microphone, and Ehrlich, after seeing them play hog callings, a couple of radio shows, and a barn dance, asked the band to sing some of the traditional songs they had been recording for the past 16 years. The results, completely unearthed until now, are no less than stunning. This is the Stanleys as listeners have never heard them: laid-back, relaxed, and full of recollection and goodwill, singing and playing songs as familiar to them as their upbringing.
In a year notable by the too-high incidence of jazz losses, Charles Earland quietly left this planet on Saturday, December 11, 1999. Known as the Mighty Burner for the intense way he commanded the Hammond B-3, the always working, too-heavy 58-year-old Earland made his departure via heart failure following one last performance in Kansas City.
Albums came less frequently from Stanley Clarke in the 1990s as film scores took up more and more of his time. Not only that, the ideas and functions of film music play a large role in East River Drive, where selections come as often as not in the form of cue-like vamps, as well as two actual themes from Clarke's scores for the films Poetic Justice and Boyz N the Hood. Oddly enough, Clarke's music benefits from his film immersion, for his compositional ideas are sharper and more sophisticated here, and he applies them to a range of electric music idioms.
This album of sophisticated 1980s jazz-funk from one of the master practitioners of the genre features Stanley Turrentine accompanied by a small group on a selection of mostly uptempo pieces, including the disco-influenced “Paradise” and the ballad “I Knew It Couldn’t Happen,” the latter with vocals by the well-known singer and actress Irene Cara.
A surprisingly righteous little album from Stanley Cowell – a set cut after his more famous music for the Strata East label, but one that still hangs onto a similar vibe! The style's a bit tighter than before, but still filled with soul and spirit – thanks to a lineup that includes Julian Priester on trombone, Eddie Henderson on trumpet, and Pat Patrick on reeds – making a key appearance here away from the Sun Ra Arkestra! Cowell plays both piano and keyboards, and the record has a bit of strings, and a bit of vocals – but all used tastefully, in ways that further enforce the depth of the tunes. Tracks include "El Space-O", "Ask Him", "Island Of Haitoo", and "I'm Tryin To Find A Way".