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Inception

McCoy Tyner

Jazz - Released January 10, 1962 | Impulse!

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Those familiar with the dense, percussive style that pianist McCoy Tyner has cultivated since the 1970s onwards may be surprised by what they hear on Inception. Like Reaching Fourth and Nights of Ballads and Blues, this album gives listeners the chance to hear what a very young Tyner sounded like outside the confines of the classic John Coltrane quartet of the early '60s; it reveals a lyrical approach to jazz piano that seems a far cry from Tyner's mature style. The choice of material is fairly evenly split between modal pieces like "Inception" and more harmonically involved tunes like "Speak Low," and the pianist's treatment of both demonstrates the extent to which his early work was rooted in bebop. Tyner had yet to develop the massive orchestral sound and highly distinctive vocabulary of modal licks that would mark his later style, and throughout this album he spins dizzyingly long and singing lines with an exquisitely light touch. The irresistible rush of forward momentum that he maintains on tracks like "Effendi" and "Blues for Gwen" is breathtaking, and there is an exuberant, almost athletic quality to much of his solo work. Bassist Art Davis and drummer Elvin Jones provide superb accompaniment throughout, and they lay a solid rhythmic foundation for Tyner's sparkling melodic flights. The pianist's penchant for drama, which asserts itself more strongly in his later work, is on brief display in the original ballad "Sunset"; his skills as an arranger, though evident on several tracks, are perhaps best illustrated by the intricate contrapuntal treatment of "There Is No Greater Love." © Alexander Gelfand /TiVo
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People Time

Stan Getz

Jazz - Released February 4, 1992 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

When the Stan Getz/Kenny Barron duo album People Time was first released in 1992, the year following the tenor saxophonist's death, critics and fans were astounded at Getz's powerful playing (even though he was weak from the cancer that would take his life within a few months), buoyed by the brilliant piano playing of Barron. Finally, the decision was made to release all seven sets by the duo recorded during their four-night gig at Cafe Montmartre in Copenhagen in this seven-CD box set, with the addition of new, detailed liner notes by Gary Giddins, while Kenny Barron's notes from the original release are present as well. Aside from one splice to replace a passage where Getz dropped out for a measure and a few moments when the physical strain on the leader is showing, the performances are among the best of the saxophonist's career. This expanded release is clearly not a vault-opening stunt to sell previously unissued music, but an opportunity to hear the high level at which Getz and Barron played throughout their duo engagement. The 48 tracks include two dozen different songs (some played multiple times), but each version of the repeated songs stands on its own. While the selections chosen by Getz for the original two-disc edition of People Time are among the best performances, the new material is hardly second-rate. Among the highlights of the previously unissued songs are two stunning versions of Thad Jones' "Yours and Mine" and a haunting shorter take of Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford," along with a playful "I Wish You Love." As an added bonus, the first set's evening opener, "Night and Day," is included at the end of disc seven, even though the microphone setup was still being adjusted during the opening minutes. Fans of Stan Getz should consider this box set an essential purchase. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Ahmad Jamal At The Pershing: But Not For Me

Ahmad Jamal

Jazz - Released January 1, 1958 | Verve Reissues

The first album by the trio of pianist Ahmad Jamal, bassist Israel Crosby, and drummer Vernell Fournier was a big seller partly due to the classic rendition of "Poinciana." The live LP (which unfortunately has only 29 minutes of music) features very tight interplay among the musicians and light but passionate versions of such other songs as "But Not for Me," "Surrey With the Fringe on Top," and "Woody 'n You." A classic that really defined Ahmad Jamal's distinctive sound in many people's minds. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Way Out West

Sonny Rollins

Jazz - Released January 1, 1957 | Contemporary

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Jazzwise Five-star review
Way Out West is a jazz essential, certainly as indispensable as its cover created by William Claxton. For Sonny Rollins, the album is a conglomerate of firsts. Recorded on March 7, 1957 in Los Angeles, the album is the first collaboration of Rollins with two other musical giants: Ray Brown on the bass and Shelly Manne on drums. Also for the first time, Rollins has not invited a piano player to his band and has begun exploring new, powerful solos with a simple rhythm section. His tenor saxophone’s sound is amazing and Brown and Manne are hardly reduced to simple stooges. The trio is working as one, subtle in its conversations and improvisations and powerful when the rhythms get tougher. When Way Out West came out a few years before the launching of Coltrane’s revolution, Sonny Rollins was the undisputed god of the sax kingdom.
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Way Out West

Sonny Rollins

Jazz - Released January 1, 1957 | Contemporary

Hi-Res Booklet
Way Out West is a jazz essential, certainly as indispensable as its cover created by William Claxton. For Sonny Rollins, the album is a conglomerate of firsts. Recorded on March 7, 1957 in Los Angeles, the album is the first collaboration of Rollins with two other musical giants: Ray Brown on the bass and Shelly Manne on drums. Also for the first time, Rollins has not invited a piano player to his band and has begun exploring new, powerful solos with a simple rhythm section. His tenor saxophone’s sound is amazing and Brown and Manne are hardly reduced to simple stooges. The trio is working as one, subtle in its conversations and improvisations and powerful when the rhythms get tougher. When Way Out West came out a few years before the launching of Coltrane’s revolution, Sonny Rollins was the undisputed god of the sax kingdom.
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Take Ten

Paul Desmond

Jazz - Released January 1, 1963 | RCA Victor

Now listeners enter the heart of the Paul Desmond/Jim Hall sessions, a great quartet date with Gene Cherico manning the bass (Gene Wright deputizes on the title track) and MJQ drummer Connie Kay displaying other sides of his personality. Everyone wanted Desmond to come up with a sequel to the monster hit "Take Five"; and so he did, reworking the tune and playfully designating the meter as 10/8. Hence "Take Ten," a worthy sequel with a solo that has a Middle-Eastern feeling akin to Desmond's famous extemporaneous excursion with Brubeck in "Le Souk" back in 1954. It was here that Desmond also unveiled a spin-off of the then-red-hot bossa nova groove that he called "bossa antigua" (a sardonic play-on-words meaning "old thing"), which laid the ground for Desmond's next album and a few more later in the decade. Two of the best examples are his own tunes, the samba-like "El Prince" (named after arranger Bob Prince), an infectious number with on-the-wing solo flights that you can't get out of your head, and the haunting "Embarcadero." Hall now gets plenty of room to stretch out, supported by Kay's gently dropped bombs, and he is the perfect understated swinging foil for the wistful altoist. There is not a single track here that isn't loaded with ingeniously worked out, always melodic ideas. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Manoir de mes Rêves

Philip Catherine

Jazz - Released June 7, 2019 | Yellowbird Records

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The Best Of Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt

Jazz - Released March 7, 1996 | Parlophone (France)

Tread cautiously when the title of an album starts off with the phrase "the best of." It's not that the music on the album will be lacking, but that the introductory phrase is so subjective, it should make a prospective of the album, at the minimum, a bit wary; it would be somewhat more honest to title such compilations "Some of the Best of..." In any event, this Blue Note album, compiled with the usual knowing liner notes of the eminent Dan Morgenstern, collects Reinhardt sessions from May 1936, when the clouds of World War II were starting to engulf Europe, to March 1948. A survey of Reinhardt's performances over these tumultuous 12 years is an opportunity to see how the great guitar player's style changed and evolved. And evolve it did, but never did it lose its foundation, which was swing. It is at least arguable that no guitar player, including the great Charlie Christian, was as adept in making that instrument move as did Reinhardt. Morgenstern also wisely included many of Reinhardt's compositions on this compilation, reminding us that he was more than a fair-to-middlin' tunesmith. The first cut, with the original Quintet of the Hot Club of France, one of several he shares with his longtime musical comrade-in-arms, Stephane Grappelli, is as infectious a rendition of this warhorse as has been captured on disc, the 1941 Benny Goodman Sextet and 1945 Benny Morton All Stars versions notwithstanding. Moving ahead to 1939, "I'll See You in My Dreams," is somewhat more pensive, but nonetheless Reinhardt still swings. Reinhardt also had the ability to expresses an immense sense of romanticism in his playing. Nowhere is his romantic streak broader as when he and clarinetist Hubert Rostaign put together a lovely version of Reinhardt's "Nuages." And he was a whiz at swinging the blues, as seen on "St. Louis Blues." On this tune, working above the rhythm guitar of Louis Gaste on W.C. Handy's blues psalm, he demonstrates the ability to put across a melody with an infectious toe-tapping rhythm. By the time the late 1940s arrive, Reinhardt is still swinging, as on "Django's Tiger" and "Lady Be Good." There are a couple of sessions of Reinhardt with an orchestra, and while these come off reasonably well, the guitarist was much more at ease in small groups, where he was less constrained. Not only was this the case with the quintet, but with such American jazzers as Rex Stewart and His Feetwarmers on "Montmartre" as well. On the last cut, "To Each His Own Symphony," he is reunited with Stephane Grappelli (this time on piano) in a pensive recapitulation of their off-and-on association. Whether this CD qualifies as The Best of Django Reinhardt is perhaps arguable. What isn't at issue is that the album is an excellent compilation of 18 cuts and 53 minutes of music by one of the most significant European apostles of and influences on American jazz. © Dave Nathan /TiVo
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The Complete Horace Parlan Blue Note Sessions

Horace Parlan

Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Blue Note Records

"Horace who?" That's what one is likely to encounter when excitedly talking of this set to jazz pedestrians. And it's not their fault, either. People who are reasonably familiar with the music can be excused for not hearing of the great American hard bop pianist who has made his living from Denmark since 1972. At age 70, Parlan is still a pianist of enormous talent, but is rarely heard on this side of the Atlantic. The Mosaic set compiles all seven of Parlan's sessions as a leader from 1960 through 1963 -- Movin' and Groovin', Us Three, Speakin' My Piece, Headin' South, On the Spur of the Moment, Up and Down, and Happy Frame of Mind -- and his work on the label as part of Booker Ervin's band on Back From the Gig. Before becoming a leader, he enjoyed the honor of being Charles Mingus' pianist (1957-1959), during an era that saw the release of two of Mingus' finest records: the groundbreaking Blues and Roots and Mingus Ah Um. One of the reasons for the richness of those recordings was Parlan's style. A pianist who suffered from polio since the age of five, the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand were useless. He compensated by using the thumb and first two fingers to complete extended chords normally handled by the left hand. But, to become a soloist, he developed a style that Mingus would find irresistible: He would use short melodic runs with the right hand and build them into chunky percussive chords that had the density of Red Garland's and the gutbucket funk of Horace Silver's, all while rooted in the blues. The Movin' and Groovin' sides tell the whole story in a way. The set begins with a formalist interpretation of "C Jam Blues, a tune on which many of Parlan's rhythmic and melodic principles are showcased. Much of Parlan's inventiveness is built upon repetition, which is used as a structural device to dull the harmonic movement of a particular tune. Here, he uses thick, block-like chords in non-varying eighths against a minimal set of right-hand lines that grow more elaborate with each pass through the chorus. Elsewhere on the album, on "Up in Cynthia's Room," a badassed blues gives way to an ostinato of shimmering color and grace. It was used again with a quintet on "Speakin' My Piece," with more of the dark blues funk percussively added to Parlan's solo to make it stick out among the horns. Another of Parlan's hot moves is his rooting in the gospel traditions for which repetition was made, varying phrases just enough to move the tune along without edging it too far from its harmonic root -- give a listen to the preacher's shout in "Wadin'" for an example of this. Slide-and-jump and call-and-response methods are employed over and over again, with chords built by the minute to juxtapose his short rhythmic melodic eight hand inventions against. Al Harewood on drums and bassist George Tucker were one of the steadiest, most rock-solid rhythm sections in the music at the time, capable of backing any soloist. They are present on all but two Parlan sessions, the first of which has Sam Jones on bass and the last which features Butch Warren and Billy Higgins on bass and drums, respectively. Parlan's choice of material, from the mainly standards bag of the first couple of recordings to the mix of original compositions and bandmates' material on the other four, is an evolution of the music as much as it is of Parlan himself. After 1961, the hard bop trend was to keep it all inside the unit wherever possible. Even on Booker Ervin's date (with Grant Green on guitar) that ends the set, the tunes tend to be homemade and written for the band. With horn players, Parlan really shined as a soloist. His sessions with Stanley and Tommy Turrentine for Speakin' My Piece showcase his structural style in a manner that gives the soloists more freedom and elongates the blues line to an extent that it almost disappears. With his varying placement of meter and his shifting of harmonics always toward the blues end, ostinato becomes a natural extension of meter and rolls off the end onto another chorus, giving the appearance that the 12-bar blues has been subverted. His short, tight, intense bursts of sound are small, span-wise, but resonant for the horn player or bassist who is playing off of them. Of all the recordings here, perhaps Up and Down, his second from last as a leader, is Parlan's signature album from the period. "The Other Part of Town" is an outlandish bit of harmonic strangling on Parlan's part, with Booker Ervin's trademark tone spitting through the mix and Grant Green funking it up just enough that Parlan has to take control with huge chords played in blocks all around the his phrase-like melody, which builds and releases tension before turning around on about the tenth chorus and restating the blues theme for the other soloists. Parlan may not be the best-known of Blue Note's piano giants, but that doesn't make him any less an architect of the hard bop sound of the early '60s, as this wonderful box -- with Mosaic's usual exhaustive annotation -- so profoundly attests. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Boss Tenors: Straight Ahead From Chicago August 1961

Gene Ammons

Jazz - Released January 1, 1961 | Verve

Tenor saxophonists Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt co-led a small group in 1950, and this follow-up, taped in the studio in 1961, finds the two picking up where they left off. The highlight of the date is the jointly written "Blues up and Down," a classic jam which has since inspired a number of other tenor match ups to record it, especially Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin. Ammons' repetitious one-note melody within "The One Before This," like Duke Ellington's deceptively simple two-note theme "C Jam Blues," leads to some inspired improvising by both men. Stitt switches to alto sax for a loping take of "There Is No Greater Love," during which Ammons' tenor provides the perfect foil. The rhythm section includes bassist Buster Williams, along with the somewhat obscure pianist John Houston and drummer George Brown. This rewarding date has become hard to find since this 1992 CD reissue lapsed from print. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Jammin' the Blues

Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five

Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Watch Out Now!

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Untucked in Hannover

Tom Rainey Obbligato

Jazz - Released April 16, 2021 | Intakt Records

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Back To Earth

Lisa Ekdahl

Vocal Jazz - Released September 7, 1998 | RCA Victor

At first, Lisa Ekdahl's squeaky, girlish voice may seem inappropriate for the pop standards she has chosen to make her trade, but given some time, her voice and laid-back style become endearing. True, she occasionally seems mannered and borrows heavily from her inspirations (most notably Billie Holiday), but she shows signs of developing her own style throughout her second American album, Back to Earth. Like its predecessor, When Did You Leave Heaven, Back to Earth was recorded with the Peter Nordahl Trio and has a charming mellow vibe. Nordahl has an elegant turn of phrase and his rhythm section -- drummer Ronnie Gardiner and bassist Patrik Boman -- has a light touch that keeps the focus on Ekdahl. It is true that her voice may strike some listeners as odd, but it's girlish, not thin, which means she can nail the emotions of the songs. There may be a few missteps here and there, but she delivers ballads ("What Is This Thing Called Love?," "The Laziest Gal in Town," "Now or Never") as well as swing ("Down with Love," "I Get a Kick Out of You"). Yes, the selections are a little predictable and Ekdahl is a bit of an acquired taste, but ultimately, Back to Earth is quite charming. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Fitzgerald & Pass...Again

Ella Fitzgerald

Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1976 | Fantasy Records

The second of three duet albums by Ella Fitzgerald and guitarist Joe Pass finds the duo uplifting 14 superior standards with subtle improvising and gentle swing. High points include the wordless "Rain," "I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues," "That Old Feeling," "You Took Advantage of Me," and "The One I Love"; even "Tennessee Waltz" comes out sounding like classic swing. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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The Complete Verve Small Sessions 1956 - 1961

Johnny Hodges

Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Verve Reissues

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Trilogy: Past, Present & Future

Frank Sinatra

Jazz - Released March 26, 1980 | FRANK SINATRA DIGITAL REPRISE

By the time the triple-record set Trilogy was released, Frank Sinatra had become somewhat of a recluse from the recording studio. An audacious, ambitious way to stage a comeback, each of the album's three records was conceived as an individual work, and each was arranged by one of Sinatra's major collaborators -- Billy May (The Past), Don Costa (The Present), and Gordon Jenkins (The Future). As a concept, Trilogy certainly has its flaws, as does some of the music on the lengthy set. However, the best moments are triumphant, proving that the Voice was still vital in his fourth decade of recording. The Past is easily the best record on the album. For the first time since the early '60s, Sinatra made a record of standards ("The Song Is You," "It Had to Be You," "All of You"), which is the material best suited for his talents. The Present isn't quite as accomplished, concentrating on pop hits like "Love Me Tender," "Something," "Song Sung Blue," "MacArthur Park," and "Just the Way You Are." Some of the material is mediocre, but Don Costa's arrangements are lovely, as is Sinatra's singing. Together, they make mid-level songs like "Theme From New York, New York" into anthems. However good the first two records are, The Future is an unqualified mess. Written by Jenkins, the songs are ambitious, experimental, and self-referential -- in fact, it's more of a freeform suite than a set of songs. Most of the record is devoid of melody, and Sinatra sounds lost singing clichéd, trite lyrics about peace, space travel, and his past. It might be an anticlimatic way to end an otherwise enjoyable set, but The Future doesn't ruin the pleasures of Trilogy, it just puts them into greater perspective. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Have Trumpet, Will Excite!

Dizzy Gillespie

Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Verve

It's easy and perhaps unfair to take any later jazz album by a trendy, "hot" trumpeter and compare it to a classic like Have Trumpet, Will Excite!. Critics and fans have been afforded the luxury of time to weed out half-efforts. Still, even without former knowledge of who Dizzy Gillespie is, Have Trumpet, Will Excite! separates itself from the crowd pretty quickly. The Latin up-tempo arrangement of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" thrusts the song into an entirely different realm. Junior Mance's piano kicks things of with a quirky, forceful rhythm, and after Gillespie's trumpet lays down the bare bones of the melody, it's pretty much forgotten. From there, the band takes off on a creative surge. The same is true of "My Man." A brave arrangement, kicked off by piano and outlined by trumpet, completely rewrites the piece. "Sure," Gillespie and the band, seem to say, "We can play old swing tunes, but wouldn't it be cool if we turned them inside out?" This approach, along with sharp solos, gives the material an exciting edge. Gillespie's solo on "St. Louis Blues" just soars, while Les Spann, who plays both flute and guitar on the album, follows him with a bristly guitar solo. Mance offers distinctive piano work that matches Gillespie's enthusiasm on tunes like "Woody 'N' You," while bassist Sam Jones and drummer Lex Humphries keep a high-octane rhythm in constant motion. Have Trumpet, Will Excite! more than measures up to its promise and stands as a cornerstone of Gillespie's '50s work. © Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. /TiVo
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Chapter One

Marieke Koopman

Jazz - Released May 7, 2021 | Challenge Records

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Circle 1: Live In Germany Concert

Circle

Jazz - Released July 15, 2016 | Concord Records

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Way Out West

Sonny Rollins

Jazz - Released January 1, 1957 | Contemporary

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Way Out West is a jazz essential, certainly as indispensable as its cover created by William Claxton. For Sonny Rollins, the album is a conglomerate of firsts. Recorded on March 7, 1957 in Los Angeles, the album is the first collaboration of Rollins with two other musical giants: Ray Brown on the bass and Shelly Manne on drums. Also for the first time, Rollins has not invited a piano player to his band and has begun exploring new, powerful solos with a simple rhythm section. His tenor saxophone’s sound is amazing and Brown and Manne are hardly reduced to simple stooges. The trio is working as one, subtle in its conversations and improvisations and powerful when the rhythms get tougher. When Way Out West came out a few years before the launching of Coltrane’s revolution, Sonny Rollins was the undisputed god of the sax kingdom.