Live at Falcon Lair has a more interesting back story than many older recordings that have been rescued for posterity, but even the story takes a backseat to the excellent music. Falcon Lair wasn't a club, but the home of Doris Duke (and once the home of Rudolph Valentino), whom pianist Joe Castro married in 1956. Castro developed his musical rep playing around L.A., sometimes in the company of bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Ron Jefferson.
This CD is quite a bit different than most audiophile releases for it contains rare rather than famous recordings. 1959's The Fourth Herd (which features an all-star group of studio musicians and Woody Herman alumni along with his octet of the time) was only put out briefly by Jazzland while the music on 1962's The New World of Woody Herman was never available commercially before; both were originally cut for the SESAC Transcribed Library and were available only to selected radio stations on a subscription basis…
Reissue features the latest digital remastering and the high-fidelity SHM-CD format (compatible with standard CD player) and the latest DSD / HR Cutting remastering. Comes with a description. Features the original LP designs. A unique all-star set recorded in various combinations between 1949 and 1951, Conception is an underappreciated masterpiece of cerebral cool jazz. Although Miles Davis gets top billing, he appears on only half the album and then most often as a sideman with only occasional solos. Saxophonists Lee Konitz, Stan Getz, and Gerry Mulligan are the true stars of the album, with Konitz particularly shining.
Gerry Mulligan was certainly busy in December 1957. During a two-week period, the baritonist recorded a reunion album with trumpeter Chet Baker, documented a set of his songs with an octet that featured five top saxophonists, recorded a very obscure set with a sextet that included four strings, and cut most of an album in which his quartet teamed up with singer Annie Ross. This limited-edition three-CD set contains all of the music plus alternate takes and the last part of the Ross album, which was recorded nine months later with trumpeter Art Farmer in Baker's spot. The reunion with Baker, one of only two times when Mulligan and the trumpeter got back together (the other was a 1970s concert), has some of the old magic of the famous 1951-1952 pianoless quartet.
Along with his album with Count Basie (Basie and Zoot) during the same period, this is one of Sims' most exciting recordings of his career. Greatly assisted by pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Grady Tate, he explores ten songs written by George and Ira Gershwin. Somehow the magic was definitely present and, whether it be stomps such as "The Man I Love," "Lady Be Good," and "I Got Rhythm" or warm ballads (including "I've Got a Crush on You" and "Embraceable You"), Zoot Sims is heard at the peak of his powers. A true gem.
The two and a half years represented in this mammoth collection made up a period of great activity and development for young John Coltrane. It was a time in which he worked in the Miles Davis Quintet, then joined Thelonious Monk for his historic Five Spot engagement, and then took his place in the legendary 1958 Miles Davis Sextet. It was a time in which he grew from a somewhat promising tenor player to a supernova about to burst upon the jazz world. It was also a span during which Trane traveled with great regularity to the original New Jersey location of the Rudy Van Gelder Studio, taking part in no less than 25 lengthy Prestige recording sessions.
Throughout his career, Zoot Sims was famous for epitomizing the swinging musician, never playing an inappropriate phrase. He always sounded inspired, and although his style did not change much after the early 1950s, Zoot's enthusiasm and creativity never wavered.