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✨✧ Norman ConnorsValentine Love – The Buddah/Arista Anthology ... CD (UK), 1970s/Early 80s. New Copy 2 CDS ... Out Of Stock
A fantastic collection of work from Norman Connors – a musician who first started out playing drums in spiritual jazz groups at the start of the 70s, then moved on to take over the worlds of funk and soul! Connors' material of this time was essential at bringing a new sort of depth to soul music – taking some of the lessons learned in the farther reaches of the underground, and working them into a new tapestry of sophisticated expression – sounds that were able to fold together lots of styles and spirit, and help elevate their audience at the same time. This package might be the best we've ever seen to bring together Norman's work of the period – as it also includes some of the Aquarian Dream and Starship Orchestra recordings, as well as Connors tracks with singers who include Michael Henderson, Jean Carn, Gloria Jones, Prince Philip Mitchell, Phyliss Hyman, Eleanor Mills, James Robinson, Al Johnson, and Beau Williams. 34 tracks in all – and titles include "So Much Love", "Dindi", "Saturday Night Special", "We Both Need Each Other", "Captain Connors (12" version)", "Say You Love Me", "This Is Your Life", "Stella", "Handle Me Gently", "Your Love", "Invitation", "Be There In The Morning", "Take It To The Limit", "Mr C", "She's Gone", "You've Been On My Mind", "Melancholy Fire", "Romantic Journey", "Slewfoot", "Give The Drummer Some", "Valentine Love", "Once I've Been There", "Phoenix", "Once Again", "You Are My Starship", "Betcha By Golly Wow", "Kwasi", "Maiden Voyage", and "Disco Land". CD

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✨✧ Norman ConnorsTake It To The Limit/Mr C ... CD
Arista/Expansion (UK), 1980/1981. New Copy ... Out Of Stock
A pair of groovers by Norman Connors from the start of the 80s – Take It To The Limit and Mr C – together in a single set! Take It To The Limit is excellent album of smooth soul – one that reaches back to some of Norman's earlier records for inspiration, and which takes the sound up a few notches to expand the groove. Norman gets help on the arranging tip from Al Johnson, McKinley Jackson, and Paul Riser – which is why the album has such a great 70s smooth soul feel – and there's loads of guest appearances, like vocals by Johnson, Jean Carn, and instrumental solos from Freddie Hubbard and Gary Bartz. Adaritha sings lead vocals on a number of cuts, and Glenn Johnson takes the lead on "Melancholy Fire". Includes a great version of "Black Cow", plus "Take It To The Limit", "Justify", "You've Been On My Mind", and an excellent remake of "I Don't Need Nobody Else", with Al Johnson on vocals! Mr C is a real sleeper from Norman Connors, but a great record – one that shows him still moving strong in the 80s, always continuing to develop his smooth jazzy soul style! Backing is by the Starship Orchestra, with Marion Meadows on most sax solos – and vocals are by Beau Williams, Jean Carn, and Glenn Jones. There's a number of great uptempo tunes – with a tight hard jazz funk backing, and kind of a sweet early 80s club style in the vocals. Titles include "Love's In Your Corner", "She's Gone", "Stay With Me", "Keep Doin It", "Anyway You Want", and "Sing A Love Song". CD
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Jimmy GreeneFlowers – Beautiful Life Vol 2 ... CD
Mack Avenue, 2017. New Copy ... $16.99 18.98
A huge step forward in music for saxophonist Jimmy Greene – an artist who's still reeling from the loss of his daughter, who was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 – but who's turning his grief and sorrow into some of the richest music he's ever recorded! The feel here is even deeper than the first volume dedicated to Green's daughter – original songs that burst out with so much life and energy, we're held rapt right from the very first note – almost never mired in the sort of melancholy you might expect from such an experience, and instead ready to set a new fire to light the way ahead! Greene plays tenor, soprano, alto, and baritone – and other musicians include Kevin Hayes on Rhodes and piano, Mike Moreno on guitar, Renee Rosnes on piano, Ben Williams and John Patitucci on bass, and Jeff Tain Watts and Otis Brown III on drums. Titles include "Fun Circuits", "Second Breakfast", "Flowers", "Stanky Leg", "Big Guy", "Amantes", and "Thirty Two". CD

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Denys BaptisteLate Trane ... CD
Edition E (France), 2017. New Copy ... $18.99 19.99
One of the most beautiful records we've ever heard from reedman Denys Baptiste – a set that pays tribute to the material created by John Coltrane in the last few years of his life, but which puts the music together with a special spin that's Baptiste's own! Some of these tracks are from recordings that were quite far outside, compared to Coltrane's earlier recordings – but here, there's a sense of peace and spirituality that maybe make them more earthly performances – almost as if that territory that Coltrane was soaring towards in the final years was finally reached – as it was by so many of his followers – then captured, brought back, and found a way to live with everyday sustenance. The result is music that's some of the most spiritual that Denys has ever recorded – with beautiful performances by the leader on tenor and soprano –w ith players who include Nikki Yeoh on piano and keyboards, Gary Grosby and Neil Charles on bass, and Rod Youngs on drums and percussion. Steve Williamson plays guest tenor on three tracks – and titles include "Transition", "Living Space", "Dusk Dawn", "Ascent", "Peace On Earth", "Dear Lord", and "Vigil" – all by Coltrane, in new Baptiste arrangements – plus the originals "Neptune" and "Astral Trane". CD

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Incredible String BandChanging Horses ... CD
Elektra/BGO (UK), 1969. New Copy ... $13.99
A really beautiful album from Incredible String Band – a set that maybe lives up to the "changing horses" title just a bit, but which still really follows in the great legacy of the band's earlier albums too! There's maybe a very slight addition of electricity in a few spots – a bit of organ here, electric guitar there – but the core vibe is still very acoustic – and uses the very wide range of instruments the group had been experimenting with – a folk-plus lineup that includes world percussion elements, Chinese banjo, harmonica, vibes, sitar, and lots more alongside the more familiar instruments – and the great vocals of Robin Williamson and the rest of the group. Mike Heron's instrumental touches are still a key part of the group at the time – and titles include "Big Ted", "White Bird", "Dust Be Diamonds", "Sleepers Awake", and "Creation". CD

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Charles McPhersonSiku Ya Bibi (Day Of The Lady) ... CD
Mainstream/Solid (Japan), 1972. New Copy ... $13.99
One of the most distinct early dates from reedman Charles McPherson – a unique "with strings" session recorded as a tribute to Billie Holiday – and with a style that shows off sides of McPherson's playing that wouldn't show up on other records for years to come! The album's got a beautifully understated quality – hip, adult arrangements by Ernie Wilkins – neither in his Basie-esque style of the early years, nor in any sort of slavish relationship to the Billie Holiday recordings of the 40s and the 50s either – which makes for a mode that just lets Charles flow with this wonderfully soulful tone on his alto – almost in a way that points towards some of Stanley Turrentine's music to come in such a setting. The core group features piano by Barry Harris, guitar by Earl Dunbar, bass by Sam Jones, and drums by Leroy Williams – plus larger backing by a string section – and titles include "Don't Explain", "Miss Brown To You", "Lover Come Back to Me", "Lover Man", and "God Bless the Child" – but all shaped beautifully and personally by McPherson! CD

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VariousJohn Morales – The M&M Mixes Vol 4 – The Ultimate Collection – NYC Classic Underground Anthems & Previously Unreleased Remixes (4CD set) ... CD
BBE (UK), Late 70s/Early 80s. New Copy 4CD ... $29.99 34.99
John Morales has a wonderful talent for taking a funky track and making it sound even funkier – which he does beautifully here in this killer collection of old school tunes! Many of the numbers are vintage clubby soul from the late 70s and early 80s – and Morales has this great way of crystalizing all the best elements in the songs, and pulling them to the forefront – but all without ever ruining the integrity of the tracks that sounded so great in the first place! In other words, the work here isn't the imprint of some young DJ trying to overstate his presence – but a true music maestro who really knows what makes a club track great – a vibe that takes us back to the brilliant edits of the early NYC scene. All titles here are previously unreleased – and the massive 4CD set features titles that include Morales mixes of "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby" by Barry White, "You Got Me Running" by Lenny Williams, "Mind On You" by Level 42, "Vertigo/Relight My Fire" by Dan Hartman, "Lovergirl" by Teen Marie, "Standing Right Here" by Mannix, "Love Is The Message" by MFSB, "Let The Music Play" by Barry White, "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, "Funkin For Jamaica" by Tom Browne, "All Night" by Katzuma, "Hi Tension" by Hi Tension, "Girl You Need A Change Of Mind" by Eddie Kendricks, "Before I Let Go" by Frankie Beverly, "Got To Be Real" by Cheryl Lynn, "Star Love" by Three Ounces Of Love", "You Stepped Into My Life" by Melba Moore, "Life Is A Song Worth Singing" by Teddy Pendergrass, "Walk Away From Love" by David Ruffin, "Life Goes On" by The Jones Girls, "This Time Baby" by Jackie Moore, "Turn Me Up" by Keith Barrow, "Circles" by Atlantic Starr, "Joy & Pain" by Maze, "Stay" by The Controllers, "Take Me Home" by Cher, and "Can't Live Without Your Love" by Tamiko Jones. CD

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✨✧ VariousNorthern Soul – The Collection – The Ultimate Northern Soul Anthems (3CD set) ... CD
Warner (UK), Late 60s. New Copy 3 CDs ... Just Sold Out!
Maybe not the ultimate Northern Soul collection – you'd need a room full of CDs for that – but a pretty wonderful collection of upbeat 60s soul groovers pulled from the vaults of Warner Brothers and Atlantic Records! The 3CD set features a whopping 85 tracks in all – and most of them are rare cuts, even the ones by some of the bigger names – so that the whole thing really goes way past the obvious, and delivers surprise after surprise over the course of the long listening if has to offer! There's plenty of soul nuggets here that we haven't seen elsewhere on CD – and titles include "A Last Minute Miracle" by Linda Jones, "Baby Help Me" by Percy Sledge, "Call On Me" by The Dynells, "Walkin Up A One Way Street" by Willie Tee, "After Closing Time" by Hal Frazier, "This Beautiful Day" by Levi Jackson, "If You Ask Me" by Jerry Williams, "Mr Creator" by The Apollas, "Seven Days Too Long" by Chuck Wood, "Dance Dance Dance" by The Casualeers, "Can't Help Lovin Dat Man" by Ila Vann, "Skiing In The Snow" by The Invitations, "Teardrops Are Falling" by Little Natalie & Henry, "Bar B Q" by Wendy Rene, "Yes To The Lord" by The Stovall Sisters, "Change My Darkness Into Light" by The Flirtations, "It Hurts Me" by David & Ruben, "Livin In Love" by Sheila Anthony, "Please Operator" by Tony & Tyrone, and "Tell Me Why" by Life". CD

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VariousWindy City Blues – The Transition – 1935 to 1953 (with bonus tracks) ... CD
Nighthawk, Late 30s/1940s/Early 50s. New Copy ... $11.99 14.98
Pivotal years of the Chicago blues scene – a time when the city was moving from rural influences to electric modes! That great span of work is presented here beautifully – in a set of tracks that begins in the mid 30s and end in the mid 50s – tracing an evolution that would not only go on to transform the music, but also have a huge impact on other styles for decades to come! The set features a 16 tracks in all – including "Please Don't" by Johnny Shines, "Fishin Blues" by Tony Hollins, "Down Behind The Rise"by Guitar Pete Franklin, "Black Spider Blues" by Robert Lockwood, "Sunnyland" by Sonny Boy Williamson, "Prowlin Nighthawk" by Robert Lee McCoy, "Easy Ridin Mama" by Washboard Sam, and "Sweet To Mama" by State Street Boys. CD features 8 more bonus tracks – mostly from the mid 50s – by Willie Nix, Floyd Jones, John Brim, and others! CD

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✨✧ Stan Getz5 Original Albums (West Coast Jazz/In Stockholm/Steamer/Cool Sounds/Stan Meets Chet) (5CD set) ... CD
Verve (Germany), Late 50s. New Copy 5 CDs ... Out Of Stock
Five classic Stan Getz albums for Verve – all in a special package, in little LP-styled covers! First up is West Coast Jazz – a classic pairing of the tenor of Stan Getz and the gentle rhythms of the LA scene of the 50s – and a record that stands up beautifully over the years! Tracks are all a bit longish, and the group features Lou Levy on piano, Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Shelly Manne on drums – plus Conte Candoli on trumpet, somewhat in the frontline, but never in a way that overshadows Stan's tenor. The album's got a great David Stone Martin cover – and titles include "East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon)," "Four," "Night In Tunisia," and "Summertime." Stan Getz In Stockholm allows Stan to showcase his affection for a jazz scene that had been growing strongly in the postwar years – often in directions that were similar to Stan's own sound at the time! The session is one of the first to pair Stan's tenor with a Swedish group – in this case the bass of Gunnar Johnson, drums of Anders Burman, and piano of Bengt Hallberg – the last of which brings sharper, more angular style to the music than some of Stan's accompanists on earlier American dates – pointing the way towards new experiments to come in his music! Next is Steamer – not a word that we'd necessarily think to use with the gently flowing tenor tone of Stan Getz – but that doesn't stop the album from being a great one, and perhaps in Getz-like terms, it might well have a bit more steam than usual! The album features Getz in a quartet with a nicely flowing groove – nicely vamping piano from Lou Levy in the background on most numbers, and a definite edge in the lead tenor solos – still blown with the warmth of earlier Getz recordings, but perhaps showing some of the modern flourishes to come. Bass is by Leroy Vinnegar and drums are by Stan Levey – and titles include "Blues For Mary Jane", "There'll Never Be Another You", and "You're Blase". Cool Sounds features a range of unusual material recorded over a three year period with a variety of different players! Some of the dates here definitely fit the "cool sounds" title of the record – in that they feature Getz with the west coast lineup of Lou Levy on piano, Shelly Manne on drums, and Leroy Vinnegar on bass – heard more famously on Stan's West Coast album of the same time. But other sides feature a different grouping – with Jimmy Rowles on piano, Bobby Whitlock on bass, and Max Roach on drums – offering up a different side of the west coast altogether. And still others take things back to more of an east coast modern style – by featuring either Tony Fruscella on trumpet or Bob Brookmeyer on trombone, in groups with John Williams on piano. The mix of material makes for a nicely-rounded portrait of Getz's talents in the mid 50s years! Last up is Stan Meets Chet – Stan Getz meets Chet Baker – A classic meeting of these two talents – recorded in Chicago with a Chicago rhythm section of Jodie Christian, Victor Sproles, and Marshall Thompson. The album's an odd one, and is recorded with less of the impeccability of some of Verve's other sessions (which is probaby how the Chicago team got in the action) – but given Baker's harder-edged proclivities at the time, the set's a very interesting one to hear, and the relaxed nature of the tracks brings out some important solo moments from both players. 4 long tracks – including "I'll Remember April", "Jordu", and "Half-Breed Apache". CD

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✨✧ Charles McPhersonCharles McPherson ... CD
Mainstream/Ultra Vybe (Japan), 1971. New Copy ... Out Of Stock
Charles McPherson in the 70s – really hitting a great groove for the new decade – and finding a way to set himself apart from the style of his earlier work! McPherson first rose as a sharp bopper, with an alto style that was in a Charlie Parker mode – but by the end of the 60s, he'd already started experimenting in a great way with color and tone – including mixing his instrument with guitar or electric elements, which he does beautifully here! The group features Charles Lynch and Gene Bertoncini on electric guitars – the latter of whom has an especially great tone that rings out and seems to wrap up the alto, then set Charles loose to soar on really great solos. Also great is trumpeter Lonnie Hilliard – heard on earlier McPherson albums, but maybe finding his strongest voice here – with this rough edge that makes his solos one of the real highlights of the record. Barry Harris plays piano, and Nico Bunik hits the keys too – and the rest of the group features Ron Carter on bass and Leroy Williams on drums. Titles include a nice slightly funky cover of "What's Going On", the spiritual "Serenity", plus "My Funny Valentine", Bird Feathers", and "Another Kind Of Blues". CD

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✨✧ Astrud Gilberto5 Original Albums (Astrud Gilberto Album/Look To The Rainbow/Certain Smile Certain Sadness/Windy/I Haven't Got Anything Better) (5CD set) ... CD
Verve (Germany), Late 60s. New Copy 5 CDs ... Out Of Stock
A quintet of wonderful records from the legendary Astrud Gilberto! First up is the Astrud Gilberto Album – pne of Astrud Gilberto's greatest albums of the 60s – a classic session produced for Verve by Creed Taylor, and featuring sweet gentle arrangements from Marty Paich, co-arranged with Antonio Carlos Jobim, who also plays guitar on the session next to the piano of Joao Donato! That's a mouthful of heavy-hitters, we know – but the result is a totally great session that has Astrud's light and gentle vocals drifting over some of the most magical bossa backings you'll ever hear. The whole thing's great, stuffed with bossa classics done in English – and titles include "Once I Loved", "Aqua De Beber", "O Morro", "Dindi", "Dreamer", and "Photograph". Look To The Rainbow is one of the moodiest Verve albums from Astrud Gilberto – a set that has some surprising arrangements by Gil Evans – working here on one of his few 60s dates with a singer! Astrud's blue-tinged vocals work perfectly with Evans' backdrops – and Al Cohn also takes over the helm on two of the album's tracks, but still does a very good job of keeping the groove. There's a nice mix of sadness and lightness in the set – and titles include a wonderful version of "Berimbau" that actually features berimbau playing by Dom Um Romao, a great take on "El Preciso Aprender A Ser So" with English lyrics, and the titles "Bim Bom", "Lugar Bonito", "Frevo", and "Once Upon A Summertime". For Certain Smile Certain Sadness, Verve Records got the great idea of teaming up its (then) biggest Brazilian imports – vocalist Astrud Gilberto and organist Walter Wanderley – both of whom were selling plenty at the time! Astrud's lovely vocals are matched beautifully with the lean, rhythmic bossa grooves of Wanderley's trio – and the result is a record that's near-perfect in execution. Most of the tracks are quite short, as is the record itself – but it's a perfectly concentrated dose of the Verve bossa sound at its best, with tracks that include "Portuguese Washerwoman", "Tu Meu Delirio", "A Certain Smile", "Call Me", "Here's That Rainy Day", "A Certain Sadness", "It's A Lovely Day Today", and a vocal version of Wanderley's big hit "Summer Samba", redone here as "So Nice"! Windy is one of the hardest to find Astrud Gilberto records on Verve – and one of the best! Deodato, Don Sebesky, and Pat Williams did the arrangements – and the sound here is a bit different than some of the straighter Gilberto sets of the time – still very bossa-inspired, but also in a style that mixes in some great Sunshine Pop and 60s easy influences too – particularly on the tracks arranged by Williams! Tracks are all quite short, but get a heck of a lot of magic into a tiny space – and the album features some really wonderful songs that break Gilberto's pattern a bit – including versions of the Marcos Valle tracks "Crickets Sing For Anamaria" and "Chup Chup, I Got Away" – plus takes on "Windy", "Sing Me A Rainbow", "Never My Love", and "Where Are They Now?" I Haven't Got Anything Better To Do is one of the darkest albums ever recorded by Astrud Gilberto – her 60s last session for Verve Records, and a batch of beautifully moody tunes throughout! Arrangements are by Albert Gorgoni, who'd handled Gilberto's previous September 69 album – but the style here is a bit mellower, a bit sadder – touched with more adult themes of love, life, and loss – and very much in keeping with Astrud's tear-stained image on the cover! There's a sound here that almost mixes Gilberto's earlier bossa with the more baroque modes of Scott Walker at the end of the 60s – and as with Scott Walker's classic solo sets, the album shows a side of Astrud's talents that we never would have expected a few years earlier! Titles include "Wailing Of The Willow", "Where's The Love", "Wee Small Hours", "If", "Without Him", "Trains & Boats & Planes", "The Sea Is My Soil", and "Didn't We?". CD

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✨✧ VariousSpaced Out – The Story Of Mushroom Records ... CD
Grapefruit (UK), Early 70s. New Copy 2CD ... Out Of Stock
A totally groovy look at London's Mushroom Records – a tiny imprint that flourished briefly in the early 70s – and gave home to a much wider array of sounds and styles than you might expect! There's a great post-60s approach going on here – a bit similar to the many directions that American FM freeform radio was taking at the time – as bits of rock, jazz, Indian, folk, and other styles come together – all resonating together beautifully with each other, and really creating a mind-expanding sound in the process! The range of artists here is as wonderful as their many styles – and rather than come across like a label with a confusing approach, Mushroom seems to have a really visionary way of putting all these many moments together. The set also features some related work from the Maximum Sound Productions project of label owner Vic Keary – for a whopping 46 tracks in all. Titles include "Cham Cham Cham Cham" by Nitai Dasgupta, "Or Alternatively Nine" by Lol Coxhill, "Where's Your Master Gone" by Simon Finn, "Evil Ways" by Les Flambeaux, "Hangin On An Eyelid" by Second Hand, "Puckaree" by Urban Clearway, "Land Of A Thousand Dreams" by Chillum, "The Phoenix" by Magic Carpet, "The Ould Triangle" by Liverpool Fishermen, "Folk Piece In Kharwa" by Pandit Kanwar Sain Trikha, "Rainbow Chasing" by Andromeda, "Knock On Wood" by Oliver Bone, "My Ways Are Set" by John Williams, "Taboo Man" by Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, "Never Gonna Love Again" by New Faces, "Summer Leaves Me With A Sigh" by Tuesday's Children, and "I Am Nearly There" by Denis Couldry & The Next Collection. CD

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Andy Williams with Hank JonesYoung At Heart (plus bonus track) (Japanese paper sleeve edition) ... CD
SSJ (Japan), 1960. New Copy ... $22.99
Andy Williams like you've never heard him before – singing jazz, and doing a hell of a job of it, too! Sure, Andy was known as a mainstream singer from his TV show of the 60s – but he could also work well in a jazz mode, too – especially with great small combo backing like this! Those trademark Williams vocals really stretch out in this great setting – with combo backing from Hank Jones on piano, Mundell Lowe or Barry Galbraith on guitar, Eddie Safranski on bass, and Bobby Rosengarden on drums – all on rare material recorded for radio shows for The National Guard – all caught in the studio, with excellent clarity. Tunes are relatively short, and Andy takes off beautifully with the jazzy inspiration of the group – on a set of 26 tracks that include "You Are My Lucky Star", "Easy To Love", "An Old Piano Plays The Blues", "Stars Fell On Alabama", "Spring Is Here", "Do Do Do", "Young At Heart", and "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To". CD

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Mason WilliamsMason Williams Ear Show ... CD
Warner/Real Gone, 1968. New Copy ... $13.99
A wonderfully weird record from the mighty Mason Williams – a set that's filled with lots of cool little surprises at each new twist and turn – yet which also comes across with a really solid, tuneful feel overall! The album's got a bit of folk, a bit of moog, and a bit of kitsch – but has a way of serving it all up with the kind of warmth and wit we love so much in that unique late 60s Warner Brothers moment – the same sort of vibe you might get from Van Dyke Parks or Harpers Bizarre at their best. Some tunes have Mason Williams singing these beautifully poetic lyrics straight, while others evoke the playful feel of his appearances on the Smothers Brothers Show – but things are really balanced throughout, and give the record that sense of discovery we hardly ever find in albums these days. Titles include a new version of "Baroque A Nova" from Mason's first album, the cool electronic "Generatah Oscillatah" instrumental, the groovy "Last Great Waltz", a "One Minute Commercial", and a wild remake of "Cinderella Rockefella" – plus "Saturday Night At The World", "$13 Stella", and "Whistle Hear". CD

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John Carter & Bobby BradfordFlight For Four ... CD
Flying Dutchman/Ultra Vybe (Japan), 1969. New Copy ... $13.99
Spectacular work from one of the most groundbreaking groups of its time – the legendary John Carter/Bobby Bradford Quartet – quite possibly the hippest thing going in the LA scene of the late 60s! The group includes Carter on alto and tenor, Bradford on trumpet – working together in these amazing lines that have both players running off together in a style that's free, but often quite rhythmic – spurred on to move past the new freedoms unlocked by the Ornette Coleman group a few years before! Yet the vibe here is very different than Ornette, too – given the bold, righteous power that comes through in the voices of both players – working here at a level that seems to blow away just about anything else going on in the American avant garde at the time. The group has just two more players to round out its amazing sound – Tom Williamson on bass, and Bruz Freeman (brother of Von and George!) on drums – and all tracks are long and free, yet also fragile and intimate – with an almost painterly sense of beauty and emotion that stands in stark contrast to much of the avant work of the time coming out of the east coast. Titles include "Domino", "Abstractions For Three Lovers", "Woman", and "The Second Set". CD
(Part of the Flying Dutchman 1000 Master Collection!)

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✨✧ Stanley CowellNo Illusions ... CD
Steeplechase (Denmark), 2017. New Copy ... $15.99 19.99
A nicely fresh setting for pianist Stanley Cowell – a record that moves past his more frequent trio format, to feature the longstanding genius in a quartet with Bruce Williams on alto and flute! Williams has a laidback, lyrical tone that seems to bring out a different side in Cowell's music – especially as the album mostly features the pianist's own compositions – a way of building up his sound slowly, with a more quiet-burning version of the spiritual energy of Stanley's youth – yet still with end results that are equally redemptive, and very beautiful overall. The rest of the group features Jay Anderson on bass and Billy Drummond on drums – and Cowell also plays a bit of thumb piano and kyma too. Titles include "Celestial Women", "No Illusions", "Miss TE & O", "Sunlight Shifting", "B Minor Folksong", and "Nostalgia For Homelands". CD

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✨✧ SphereSphere On Tour ... CD
Red (Italy), 1985. New Copy ... $15.99 19.99
A killer live set from this cool 80s combo – a later showcase for the mighty tenor talents of Charlie Rouse, working alongside Kenny Barron on piano, Buster Williams on bass, and Ben Riley on drums! The setting's easily one of the best that Rouse had in his later years – a format that allowed him to really stretch out on tenor in new, soulful ways – moving past the more familiar modes of the Monk years and his earlier hardbop sides – still steeped in tradition, but with a freshly creative tone. Barron is great, as you might expect – and the sensitive Red Records production really presents the whole group in their best light. Titles include "Scratch", "Dual Force", "Spiral", "Tayamisha", and "Beautiful Friendship". CD

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✨✧ Peter KuhnNo Coming No Going – The Music Of Peter Kuhn 1978/1979 (Livin Right/Peter Kuhn & Denis Charles) ... CD
No Business (Lithuania), 1978/1979. New Copy 2 CDs ... Out Of Stock
Two 70s albums from overlooked reedman Peter Kuhn – back to back here in a single sweet set! First up is Livin Right – a set that was originally broadcast live on New York radio in 1978, and which really captures the openly creative spirit of the loft jazz generation – as Peter Kuhn plays b-flat and bass clarinet alongside a wonderful group that features two trumpeters – Arthur Williams and Toshinori Kondo, each coming out of a different speaker – plus the great William Parker on bass and Denis Charles on drums! The bass and drums really set the tone here – as they rumble and bristle beautifully, almost like they're setting these little fires – which are then fanned brightly by the clarinet and trumpets – on titles that include "Chi", "Red Tape", and "Manteca Long Gone Axistential". The second CD features a live performance from 1979 – with very freewheeling work by Peter Kuhn on b-flat and bass clarinet, plus some tenor too – really opening up alongside some excellent drums from Dennis Charles. Charles' contributions are great – and very thoughtful – and all tracks are long, with titles that include "Headed Home", "Drum Dharma", "Stigmata", and "Axistential". CD

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✨✧ VSOP (Herbie Hancock, et al)Five Stars ... CD
Sony/Wounded Bird, 1979. New Copy ... Out Of Stock
A killer album by this legendary jazz supergroup – a Japanese-only set that we'd rank right up there with some of Herbie Hancock's Japanese albums from the same time! The group features Herbie on piano, Wayne Shorter on tenor, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Ron Carter on bass, and Tony Williams on drums – all working here in an acoustic mode, but one that's definitely informed by some of the shapes, tones, and styles of the players' electric explorations of the 70s. The album's only got 4 tracks, and they're all nice and long – beautiful little tunes that are filled with soul and feeling – all composed by different members of the group. Titles include "Skagly", "Finger Painting", "Mutants On The Beach", and "Circe". CD

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