Hardly just The Birdland Story – and instead, some incredible work from three key players of the hardbop years – often lost to time because of its appearance in this underwhelming package! The first half features incredible material from both John Coltrane and Lee Morgan – some of their best of the early 60s, and a record that always gets shamefully overlooked! The record features a side apiece of work by Morgan and Coltrane, each acting as the leader for a small group in perfect format. Coltrane is playing with an unusual quartet that includes McCoy Tyner, plus bassist Steven Davis and drummer Billy
Higgins. Higgins' gives Coltrane a modal groove that's incredible, and Trane hits these riffs that are almost Nathan Davis-ish on tracks like "Exotica" and "One & Four". The Morgan material is a bit more straight ahead hardbop – but equally excellent – and he's got a tight tight group that features Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons, Jimmy Rowser, and Art Taylor
. Shorter is incredible, and tracks include "Minor Strain", "Bid For Sid", and "Suspended Sentence". Next is some wonderful work from Thad Jones – sprightly cuts that sparkle wonderfully throughout – in ways that show the later Jones talent for arranging a larger ensemble, but played by a smaller combo here! The group features a great Basie-styled lineup – Thad on trumpet, Al Grey on trombone, Billy
Mitchell on tenor, and Frank Wess on tenor, flute, and alto sax – players who really know each others' strengths very well, and who dance around sweet compositions by Jones – including "Subtle Rebuttal", "Tip Toe",and "H & T Blues". Also features bonus tracks – "Friday The 13th", "Subtle Rebuttal (alt)", and "Tip Toe (alt)" from the Thad Jones session – plus "Exotica (alt)" from the Coltrane set.
(HQ – Hi Quality CD.)