Curtis Fuller —
Opener ... LP Blue Note, 1957. Near Mint- ...
An obscure little groover from Curtis Fuller – and one of his hardest blowing sessions for Blue Note! Unlike some of the other Fuller sessions, which can have a slightly softer, rounder sound overall – this one's a much more in-the-pocket sort of Blue Note hardbop date – one that really cooks magically with contributions from Hank Mobley on tenor, Bobby Timmons on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Art Taylor on drums. Fuller's trombone is very hard-edged in this setting – in the same territory of his work with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, but with some slightly lyrical overtones too. Titles include a great reading of Oscar Pettiford's "Oscarlypso", plus Fuller's own "Lizzy's Bounce" and "Hugore" – and the tunes "A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening" and "Here's To My Lady". LP, Vinyl record album
(Japanese mono pressing, on King – with obi!)
Steve Grossman —
Katonah ... CD DIW (Japan), 1986. New Copy ...
A bold little set from Steve Grossman – a record that's nicely poised between his frenetic work of the 70s and mellower moments of later years – done in quartet formation, but with plenty of focus on Steve's wonderful tenor, especially on the longer tracks! There's a very nice "bit" in Grossman's reed on most of the numbers here – a sound that's not as screeching as on his 70s dates, but which often hints at that direction, then swings back into a rounder, fuller tone on the horn. Backing is by Takehiro Honda on piano, Masahiro Yoshida on drums, and either Hideo Kawahara or Yasushi Yoneki on bass – on titles that include "Taurus People", "Soultrane", "Katonah", and "Afternoon In Paris". CD
The great John Jenkins was one of the lesser-known sax stars to come out of the Chicago scene of the late 50s – but he was also one of the best! Jenkins played alto impeccably – with boppish agility, and a deep sense of soul that worked great on this one and only Blue Note session as a leader. The group features Kenny Burrell playing some of his best work on record – and the rhythm section features Sonny Clark on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Dannie Richmond on drums – playing in a rare non-Mingus appearance! Tracks include "Motif", "Sharon", "Blues For Two", and "Chalumeau" – and the session is a wonderful bit of lost Blue Note – great sharp edges from Jenkins' alto, and some warmer, rounder tones from Burrell on guitar. CD also features 2 bonus alternate takes. CD
(Out of print original 90s Connoisseur pressing, not a CDr.)
Great work by one of the most unusual jazz combos of the 50s! Les Jazz Modes was a group with a really unusual sound – one that matched the rounder French Horn tones of Julius Watkins with the sharper-edge tenor of Charlie Rouse – heard here in the years between his Blue Note recordings as a leader, and his later fame with Thelonious Monk. And while the horn work is great, the group's key component was actually pianist Gildo Mahones – whose soulful sense of rhythm made even the group's more artful numbers still swing with effortless ease. The 2CD set brings together 24 tracks from the mid 50s albums the ensemble recorded for Dawn Records – most of them with the core group, but a few of which feature some added Latin percussion, and some occasional wordless female vocals from Eileen Gilbert! Titles include "Let's Try", "Legend", "Episode", "Goodbye", "Garden Delights", "So Far", "Blue Modes", "Strange Tale", "Two Songs", and "Idle Evening". CD
The legendary trumpeter Booker Little – paired here with drummer Max Roach, who was frequently Book's leader at the time! The set's got a sharp-edged and modern mix of hardbop and fresh ideas – very similar to the best Roach albums of the time – and with a similar sort of group – given that in addition to Little's trumpet, the set also features George Coleman on tenor, Tommy Flanagan on piano, and Art Davis on bass! All arrangements were done by Little – making the album a real showcase of that bold vision in jazz that was taken from us all too soon – and titles include "Milestones", "Rounder's Mood", "Dungeon Waltz", and "Jewel's Tempo". CD
A very strong recent album from 60s avant legend Sonny Simmons – recorded in Paris with Sonny on alto sax – in a quintet that also includes Eddie Henderson on trumpet, John Hicks on piano, Curtis Lundy on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums! The Lundy/Lewis team is always a treat, and this especially soulful ensemble brings a style to Simmons' playing that isn't always captured on record – mixing his jagged approach to a solo with rounder and warmer tones – and actually pushing him a lot as a player, into territory that will have us keeping an ear out for new records in years to come! Titles include "Benedictina", "Mixolydis", "Echoes Of Eric Dolphy", "Reverend Church", "The Promise", and "Blues In The Pocket". CD
(Out of print.)
Olli Ahvenlahti —
Poet ... LP Love/Svart (Finland), 1976. New Copy (reissue)...
About September 9, 2016
Olli Ahvenlahti's a poet on the keys – one of the most soulful players in the 70s Finland scene, heard here on one of his greatest albums ever! The record's got a glowing grace that's really wonderful – part CTI-inspired electric fusion, without as much jamming as other European work of the time – but also an album of rounder, warmer tones – recorded with a slightly larger lineup that includes Eero Koivistoinen on tenor sax, and lots of great percussion at the bottom! Tunes have a subdued approach to funky jazz – still tight in the rhythms, but with more of a focus on the nicely shaded horn solos, and on Olli's great use of electric piano and organ throughout. Titles include the classic jazz dance track "Grandma's Rocking Chair" – plus "The Poet", "Sunday's Stuff", "Aura", "Sambatown", and "A Day At The Zoo". LP, Vinyl record album
An overlooked gem from The Holy Modal Rounders – the group's fifth album, and a set that shows them moving into a slightly more subtle style than before – but still with plenty of their trademark touches intact! The work often has a sweetly folksy feel – one that conjures up the city-to-country modes of some of the Marin County bands of the time – with some sensitive lyrics and instrumentation, all produced beautifully down in Nashville by the legendary Bob Dorough – who was doing some surprising rock projects around this time. Despite the joke of the title, there actually is a timeless quality to this set – one that might almost make the record a good place to start if you've always been curious about the Rounders, but a bit intimidated by the fame of their earlier classics. Titles include "Black Bottom", "Spring OF 65", "Boobs A Lot", "Alligator Man", "City Blues", "The Whole World Oughta Go On Vacation", and "Melinda". LP, Vinyl record album
The first album for Prestige by The Holy Modal Rounders – the earliest of their early folk based material, with hints at the weirder sounds to come! It;s playful, humorous and somehow kind of keeps some sinister strangeness in the shadows of their 60s take on traditional folk tunes and styles. Vocals, banjo, fiddle and acoustic guitar get the job done on these tunes, with "Blues In The Bottle", "The Cuckoo", "Euphoria", "Hey, Hey Baby", "Reuben's Train", "Moving Day", "Same Old Man", "Hip High Ladies", "Bound To Lose" and more. LP, Vinyl record album
The second album from the Holy Modal Rounders – with the more traditional folk material on one side, and the Holy Modal Rounders inspired blend of strangeness and oddball charm on the other – and inspired mix of reverent folk duo revivalism, and strangely fun spins on the styles with their own 60s twists. Titles include "Flop Eared Mule", "Black Eyed Susie", "Sail Away Ladies", "Junko Partner", "Mole In The Ground", "Hot Corn, Cold Corn", "Chevrolet Six", "Crowley Waltz", "Bully Of The Town" and more. LP, Vinyl record album
Nashvile's known as Music City – and it's also known as the home of the country music scene – but the city's also got a great legacy of soul music that hardly ever gets its due, one that's beautifully presented in this ultra-cool collection! The groove's not entirely what you'd expect – a lot less twang, and styles that run between sweet uptown and raw southern soul – with, as the label says, "not a steel guitar in sight"! You may recognize a few of the artists, but most of this work is by long-overlooked figures who were often eclipsed by Nashville's bigger country scene – but who also got the chance to record in some of the great studio facilities that the city had to offer. CD features 22 tracks, in all, with a nicely detailed set of notes – and titles include "Hold On" by Rufus Hunter, "Sound Of A Crying Man" by Herbert Hunter, "Foolish Lover" by Jimmy Tig & The Rounders, "These Are My People" by Roscoe Shelton, "Love Is A Two Way Thing" by Freddie Waters, "My Loss, Your Gain" by The Jades, "You Girl" by Wendell Watts, and "Some Day" by Thomas Henry. CD