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.
Stanley Turrentine's stint with Creed Taylor's CTI label may not have produced any out-and-out classics on the level of the very best LPs by Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, or George Benson, but the bluesy tenorist's output was consistently strong and worthwhile for all but the most stridently anti-fusion listeners. Salt Song was Turrentine's second album for CTI, and while it's perhaps just a small cut below his debut Sugar, it's another fine, eclectic outing that falls squarely into the signature CTI fusion sound: smooth but not slick, accessible but not simplistic. In general, keyboardist Eumir Deodato's arrangements have plenty of light funk and Brazilian underpinnings, the latter often courtesy of percussionist Airto Moreira.
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.