Features 24 bit digital remastering. Comes with a description. An unusual global session for Atlantic Records – an album that has John Lewis presenting work by three other musicians that he feels are ripe for wider discovery! The set's got some killer work from Rene Utreger – a key Parisian player in the postwar years, working here with dexterity that's almost at a Bud Powell level! Dick Katz is also featured on the set – with some nice colors and tones in the mix, similar to some of the work he'd go onto do for Atlantic and other labels. And perhaps the least known here is the British player Derek Smith – stepping out with a lyrical style that's captured surprisingly well here – and which makes the record a key addition to Smith's catalog.
While it's true that Grover Washington, Jr.'s first album as a leader was the wonderful Inner City Blues album on Creed Taylor's Kudu label, the sessions included here predate it and feature Washington Jr. in the role of sideman to Charles Earland, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Boogaloo Joe Jones, and Leon Spencer Jr.. The nine cuts included here were recorded between September 1970 and August 1971. Most of them are straight-ahead blowing B-3 dates where the emphasis on groove and grit is equal and pervasive. While there isn't a weak track here and Washington's playing is deeper in the register than in his later material, there is one irritating factor about the assemblage of the album.
With the Skylark "experiment" behind him, Paul Desmond reverted back to the relaxed quartet format that suited him well in the past. The reason? Through Jim Hall, he found a little-known, splendid guitarist in Toronto named Ed Bickert who became his new gigmate in 1974, and this album was meant to show his discovery off. In fact, it sparked a Desmond renaissance where he regained a good deal of the witty spark and erudite cool of his collaborations with Hall, no matter how unfashionable it was to play this way in 1974.
Praise 4 Joe: tribute to Joe Henderson. Luca Mannutza and Max Ionata retrace the musical story of the great American saxophonist, who died in 2001, in the dry form of the duo, through the famous compositions of Joe Henderson and the mature and personal interpretation of the two musicians. The dimension of the duo leads to reasoning on the structures of the pieces and on the absences: giving the right place to all the elements that make up the writing and the execution. Interpreting in duo the songbook of a composer, of an important musician, becomes a further challenge, in making ends meet the needs of a concert, a recording, a performance.