Friday, May 24, 2013

Sonny Rollins - Worktime

For this LP-length CD reissue, tenor great Sonny Rollins plays five songs (including the unlikely "There's No Business Like Show Business") in a quartet with pianist Ray Bryant, bassist George Morrow, and his then-current employer, drummer Max Roach. Rollins was an original stylist from the start, and in late 1955 he was ready to take his place among the greats. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Sonny Rollins and company don't waste any time going to work on the classic "Work Time." The all-star band of Ray Bryant, George Morrow and the incomparable Max Roach punch-in quickly with the blazing "There's No Business Like Show Business." The telepathic interplay between Sonny and Roach is a trademark of this album, and it's particularly evident on the album's next two tracks, "Paradox" and "Raincheck." A lovely ballad, "There Are Such Things," is the fourth track, and the band clocks-out at 5 much the way they began with the break-neck swing pace of "It's All Right With Me." If only I could have this much fun at work. - by Michael. B. Richman,

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: Worktime
Year: 1955 (Prestige)
Label: OJC (1982)
Runtime: 33:12

1.  There's No Business Like Show Business (Irving Berlin) 6:23
2.  Paradox (Sonny Rollins)  5:02
3.  Raincheck (Billy Strayhorn) 6:03
4.  There Are Such Things (Stanley Adams/Abel Baer/George W. Meyer) 9:33
5.  It's All Right With Me (Cole Porter) 6:08

Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Ray Bryant (Piano)
George Morrow (Double Bass)
Max Roach (Drums)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Miles Davis - Nefertiti

Nefertiti, the fourth album by Miles Davis' second classic quintet, continues the forward motion of Sorcerer, as the group settles into a low-key, exploratory groove, offering music with recognizable themes -- but themes that were deliberately dissonant, slightly unsettling even as they burrowed their way into the consciousness. In a sense, this is mood music, since, like on much of Sorcerer, the individual parts mesh in unpredictable ways, creating evocative, floating soundscapes. This music anticipates the free-fall, impressionistic work of In a Silent Way, yet it remains rooted in hard bop, particularly when the tempo is a bit sprightly, as on "Hand Jive." Yet even when the instrumentalists and soloists are placed in the foreground -- such as Miles' extended opening solo on "Madness" or Hancock's long solo toward the end of the piece -- this never feels like showcases for virtuosity, the way some showboating hard bop can, though each player shines. What's impressive, like on all of this quintet's sessions, is the interplay, how the musicians follow an unpredictable path as a unit, turning in music that is always searching, always provocative, and never boring. Perhaps Nefertiti's charms are a little more subtle than those of its predecessors, but that makes it intriguing. Besides, this album so clearly points the way to fusion, while remaining acoustic, that it may force listeners on either side of the fence into another direction. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

This album is definitely one of the more progressive Miles Davis efforts. It was the last "straight-ahead" jazz album he made before experimenting with electric bass and keyboards in his rhythm section on Miles In The Sky and Filles De Killemanjaro (both released the following year, in 1968). Nefertiti showcases Wayne Shorter's great compositions once again, and Herbie Hancock also contributes a couple pieces. Tony Williams also composed a piece. This album is painfully under-appreciated compared to Miles Davis's other classic releases, although all the real Miles listeners know about Nefertiti. Every track is pulsed by Ron Carter's exquisite basslines and the drumming battery of Tony Williams. "Nefertiti", a Shorter composition, has the melody repeated for about seven and a half minutes, but it's repeated in a different way each time. The moods of the piece change distinctively throughout. There are no solos, and the hypnotic melody will get to you over time. "Fall" is a mysterious, lilting ballad which comes out to be a true gem. Another piece by Wayne Shorter, the abstract setting makes the piece sound like it could speed up at any second, but it remains a beautiful, slow piece. Miles and Wayne both take excellent solos here, and Herbie takes a nice solo here as well showing how much he has grown as a musician. "Hand Jive" is a Tony Williams piece, and Miles takes a solo full of cool ideas and his usual sweet sound on the trumpet. Everyone gets a chance to really stretch out on this track. In fact, it wouldn't really sound out of place on Miles Smiles, a Miles album made the previous year. "Madness" has more of a straight feel, although there are still many tempo changes, especially in Herbie's piano solo. Here, Miles really gets into his solo and shines brightly. The theme is cool, almost sounding like a play on horror movie, but it's in a playful manner. "Riot" is a piece Herbie Hancock recorded outside of Miles's group and is being remade here. Everyone takes a relatively short solo on this track, which almost gives the listener a bit of a break from the previous four pieces, which are all pretty long. "Pinocchio", is my favorite track on the album though. The theme is so cool, it almost sounds like a voice. The whole piece has a timeless, energetic feel to it. The theme stays stuck in my head for a while, and this is the only track on the album I will put on repeat for a long period of time, except for maybe "Fall". Miles and Wayne both take awesome solos and Herbie makes a great contribution as well. Tony Williams adds the real fire behind this tune with his great, percussive drumming. Usually my favorite track on an album is not the last one, so this is yet another unusual aspect of Nefertiti. Overall, this is a great album for any Miles Davis fan. Every single track is amazing. Not the type of album you would call a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, I have a digitally remastered version but I don't have the one Amazon[.com] has here. Mine is just the original: six beautiful tracks. I will have to check out this new version with alternate takes although I recommend the original version if you can find it just for the ability to hear the album the way Miles originally intended for it to be released. An outstanding album, get it! - by Mr. Hip-Hop,

Artist: Miles Davis
Album: Nefertiti
Year: 1967
Label: CBS
Runtime: 48:03

1.  Nefertiti (Wayne Shorter) 7:52
2.  Fall (Wayne Shorter) 6:37
3.  Hand Jive (Tony Williams) 8:56
4.  Hand Jive (Tony Williams) 8:55
5.  Madness (Herbie Hancock) 7:32
6.  Riot (Herbie Hancock) 3:06
7.  Pinocchio (Wayne Shorter) 5:05

Miles Davis (Trumpet)
Wayne Shorter (Tenor Saxophone)
Herbie Hancock (Piano)
Ron Carter (Double Bass)
Tony Williams (Drums)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Al Cohn & Zoot Sims - You 'n Me

The most unusual selection on this Al Cohn-Zoot Sims set from 1960 is "Improvisation for Unaccompanied Saxophones," a short but effective two-tenor workout that, through a clever arrangement by Cohn, gives one the impression that both saxophonists are using circular breathing. Another departure is "Angel Eyes," which has both Cohn and Sims switching to clarinet and showcases Major Holley's singing and bowed bass. Otherwise, the co-leaders stick to their main instruments and enjoy swinging together with the assistance of Holley, pianist Mose Allison (who would soon be starting his own successful solo career), and drummer Osie Johnson. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Zoot Sims and Al Cohn shine on this studio set recorded in 1960, featuring standards and originals. They're joined by a young Mose Allison on piano, Major Holley on bass and Osie Johnson on drums. Among the highlights on the CD are the two Cole Porter standards, "You'd Be So NiceTo Come Home To" and "Love For Sale", along with a bass and mumbles solo on Angel Eyes, accompanied by Zoot and Al on their clarinets. Sims and Cohn are among the great tenor duos in jazz history and this CD, along with their other recorded works together, is valuable to sax players and fans alike. The length is a bit short by CD standards, but the playing is tremendous. - by John F. Temmerman,

Artist: Al Cohn & Zoot Sims Quintet
Album: You 'n Me
Year: 1960
Label: Verve (2002)
Runtime: 37:02

1.  The Note (Al Cohn) 4:11
2.  You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To (Cole Porter) 4:51
3.  You 'n' Me (Al Cohn) 4:40
4.  On the Alamo (Gus Kahn/Isham Jones) 4:36
5.  The Opener (Bill Potts) 3:45
6.  Angel Eyes (Earl Brent/Matt Dennis) 3:17
7.  Awful Lonely (George Handy) 4:19
8.  Love for Sale (Cole Porter) 4:59
9.  Improvisations for Unaccompanied Saxophones (Al Cohn/Zoot Sims) 2:24

Al Cohn (Tenor Saxophone)
Zoot Sims (Tenor Saxophone)
Mose Allison (Piano) - 1-8
Major Holley (Double Bass) - 1-8
Osie Johnson (Drums) - 1-8

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Richard "Groove" Holmes - Somethin' Special

Somethin' Special is a laidback, funky classic which features Richard "Groove" Holmes trading licks with pianist Les McCann, saxophonist Clifford Scott and guitarist Joe Pass, who makes one of his first recorded appearances on this album. It's a fine, infectious album, highlighed by Holmes and McCann's stylish solo. Blue Note's 1997 CD reissue features two bonus cuts, including one that features saxophonist Ben Webster. - by Leo Stanley, AMG

One of the top jazz organists to emerge on the scene after Jimmy Smith’s initial success, Richard “Groove” Holmes (1931-1991) recorded a series of soul jazz sets for Prestige that helped set the direction for that label in the late 1960s.- from

Artist: Richard "Groove" Holmes & Les McCann
Aébum: Somethin' Special
Year: 1962 (Pacific Jazz)
Label: Capitol (1997)
Runtime: 47:06

1.  Something Special (Les McCann) 9:12
2.  Black Groove (Les McCann) 5:46
3.  Me & Groove (Les McCann) 3:11
4.  Comin' Through the Apple (Les McCann) 5:17
5.  I Though I Knew You (Les McCann) 6:30
6.  Carma (Les McCann) 5:26
7.  Blow The Man Down (Traditional) 5:41
8.  Satin Doll (Duke Ellington/Johnny Mercer/Billy Strayhorn) 6:01

Richard "Groove" Holmes (Organ)
Clifford Scott (Alto and Tenor Saxophone) - 1-6
Les McCann (Piano) - 1-6,8
Joe Pass (Guitar) - 1-6
Ron Jefferson (Drums) - 1-6,8
Gene Edwards (Guitar) - 7
Leroy Henderson (Drums) - 7
Ben Webster (Tenor Saxophone) - 8
Lawrence Lofton (Trombone) - 8
George Freeman (Guitar) - 8


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