David Matthews' second excursion into the world of small combo, bebop-flavored jazz comes as a sequel to the unexpected and spectacular success of Manhattan Jazz Quintet, wich received Swing Journal's 1984 Gold Disc Award as the #1 album in Japan for that year. Autumn Leaves reunites that same quintet, the jazz world's other MJQ, for another swinging set of classic material. This session continues the spirit of the first and improves on it in every way.
Digitally remastered release that contains, for the first time ever on CD, a complete live performance in Manchester by the legendary Shelly Manne quintet with Joe Gordon and Richie Kamuca. This short lived group had produced the celebrated multi-volume albums at the Blackhawk, in San Francisco, the previous year (with Victor Feldman on piano instead of Russ Freeman), as well as celebrated recordings of Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn music. The Manchester concert, which was only previously released on an extremely rare long out of print LP, showcases the quintet in high spirits, and offers a new opportunity to appreciate the talents of trumpeter Joe Gordon, who would die soon after.
Beecham had an exquisite ear for detail, and his Peer Gynt has more fantasy — more subtlety, too — than anyone else's: Ase s Death and Anitra 's Dance are simply magical. So is the Symphonic Dance, and if In Autumn and the variations occasionally seem a litde thin musically, Beecham makes amends with keenness of attack and eloquent phrasing. The orchestra is superb and the transfers (which give us the variations in stereo for the first time), excellent.
Something of a smooth jazz oriented answer to the label's 2003 straight-ahead compilation Jazz After Dark, this highly engaging two-disc set features oft-played radio hits that have helped define the genre's generally easy grooves and colorful melodies. For diehard fans, smooth jazz has always been as about much about lifestyle as music, and these tracks will no doubt remind them just why they became devotees. All the early classics (circa mid-'70s to mid-'80s) are here, from Kenny G.'s "Songbird" and Dave Grusin's "Mountain Dance" to George Benson's "Breezin'" and Grover Washington, Jr.'s "Just the Two of Us." These are supplemented by later hits like Boney James & Rick Braun's "Grazin' in the Grass" and Dave Koz's "You Make Me Smile." But it's not simply an objective survey of smoothness at its best. The collection also seems designed to promote artists in the Concord Jazz stable – David Benoit and Russ Freeman, the Rippingtons, the Braxton Brothers, Gato Barbieri, Eric Marienthal, and Cassandra Reed, among others.