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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
Recorded in 1958, this legendary date with the still-undersung Sonny Clark in the leader's chair also featured a young Jackie McLean on alto (playing with a smoother tone than he had before or ever did again), trumpeter Art Farmer, and the legendary rhythm section of bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones, both from the Miles Davis band. The set begins with one of the preeminent "swinging medium blues" pieces in jazz history: the title track with its leveraged fours and eights shoved smoothly up against the walking bass of Chambers and the backbeat shuffle of Jones. Clark's solo, with its grouped fifths and sevenths, is a wonder of both understatement and groove, while Chambers' arco solo turns the blues in on itself. While there isn't a weak note on this record, there are some other tracks that stand out, most notably Miles' "Sippin' at Bells," with its loping Latin rhythm. When McLean takes his solo against a handful of Clark's shaded minor chords, he sounds as if he may blow it -- he comes out a little quick -- but he recovers nicely and reaches for a handful of Broadway show tunes to counter the minor mood of the piece. He shifts to both Ben Webster and Lester Young before moving through Bird, and finally to McLean himself, riding the margin of the changes to slip just outside enough to add some depth in the middle register. The LP closes with Henderson and Vallée's "Deep Night," the only number in the batch not rooted in the blues. It's a classic hard bop jamming tune and features wonderful solos by Farmer, who plays weird flatted notes all over the horn against the changes, and McLean, who thinks he's playing a kind of snake charmer blues in swing tune. This set deserves its reputation for its soul appeal alone. [Some reissues include two bonus tracks: "Royal Flush" and "Lover."] © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
Sonny Clark's fifth Blue Note recording as a leader is generally regarded as his best, especially considering he composed four of the seven tracks, and they all bear his stamp of originality. What is also evident is that he is shaping the sounds of his quintet rather than dominating the proceedings as he did on previous dates. Tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and trumpeter Tommy Turrentine play very little harmony on the date, but their in-tune unison lines are singularly distinctive, while bassist Butch Warren and young drummer Billy Higgins keep the rhythmic coals burning with a steady, glowing red heat. Among the classic tunes is the definitive hard bop opener "Somethin' Special," which lives up to its title in a most bright and happy manner, with Clark merrily comping chords. "Melody for C" is similarly cheerful, measured, and vivid in melodic coloration. The showstopper is "Voodoo," the ultimate late-night slinky jazz tune contrasted by Clark's tinkling piano riffs. Warren wrote the exciting hard bopper "Eric Walks" reminiscent of a Dizzy Gillespie tune, while Turrentine's "Midnight Mambo" mixes metaphors of Afro-Cuban music with unusual off-minor phrases and Rouse's stoic playing. Tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec plays a cameo sans the other horns on the soulful ballad "Deep in a Dream," exhibiting a vocal quality on his instrument, making one wonder if any other sessions with this group were done on the side. Top to bottom, Leapin' and Lopin' is a definitive recording for Clark, and in the mainstream jazz idiom, as well. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 5, 1958 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1962 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Blue Note Records

Recorded in 1957, Sonny's Crib features a front line of Curtis Fuller, Donald Byrd, and John Coltrane with Sonny Clark on piano, Art Taylor on drums, and Paul Chambers on bass. Truly still a bebop recording, done a full year before the landmark Cool Struttin' session, nonetheless the set produced some awesome readings of classic tunes, like the opener, "With a Song in My Heart," with one of the knottiest Byrd solos ever. As Chambers and Taylor up the rhythmic ante and Clark comps with enormous chords in the background, the entire line solos, but it is Byrd's that is stunning in its complexity -- though Coltrane could play bebop as well as anybody. The most notable tracks on the session are the classic readings of Kurt Weill's "Speak Low" and "News for Lulu," the latter of which has been adopted by John Zorn as his theme. On the former, Clark's rearrangement, with Coltrane leading the front line, is truly revelatory. Using a Latin rhythm in cut time, Clark sets up a long, 22-note melody line that moves right into Trane's solo. He moves the key around and harmonically shifts gears as Clark follows and stays in the pocket for him while Trane uses the middle register for legato pyrotechnics. Fuller's next and covers over the blues inherent in the tune with pure swing, before Byrd brings it back into the fold with a gorgeous counterpoint of the melody. Clark taps his way into extended harmonics on the sixths and sharpens the accents as he trounces the original key and plays double trills to get back. The latter is a smokin' Latin take on the hard bop blues, with a staggered melodic line and a large tonal palette that gives the horn players room to explore the timbral possibilities of Clark's colors -- which are revealed in the loosest, skittering skein of bluesy phrasing this side of Horace Silver in his solo. In all, Sonny's Crib is a phenomenal recording, one that opened the door to hard bop becoming the norm in the late '50s, and one that drew deft, imaginative performances from all its players. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released February 10, 1998 | Blue Note Records

The sessions that comprise the 14-track Standards were recorded by Sonny Clark at the end of 1958, with the intention that his interpretations would be issued as 45-rpm singles. His takes on these 12 standards (two of the tracks are alternate takes) are exceptional. Supported by drummer Wes Landers and, on varying dates, either Paul Chambers or Jymie Merritt on bass, Clark turns in lyrical, sensitive renditions of "Dancing In the Dark," "All of You," "I Cover the Waterfront," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Black Velvet" and "I'm Just a Lucky So And So," among others. Although some of the performances are a little brief, limiting his opportunity to solo, Standards is a lovely collection of beautiful music that's a welcome addition to Clark's catalog. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released December 6, 2017 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

The piano trio material included in this Japanese reissue, along with another session from late 1958 (see The Art of the Trio, aka "The 45 Sessions"), constitutes a body of work which was never released in LP format during Sonny Clark's tragically short life. Clark was an underrated master of the hard bop genre who had a very subtle, artful touch. On this date, he exhibits the influence of Ahmad Jamal and Red Garland (a lighter sound) and less of the Bud Powell-inspired, hard-driving bebop lines. This material was intended for jukebox release in 45 format. The arrangements are simple and concise; the tunes are all well-known standards. Sonny's conception is quite accessible -- relaxed tempos and blues-inflected improvisations. His chord voicings and harmonies are exquisite on "I Cover the Waterfront," "Somebody Loves Me," "Dancing in the Dark," and Cole Porter's "All of You." The recording in many ways presages the Three Sounds' approach to a tightly organized, commercially affable piano trio concept. This material is also included in Blue Note's 1998 domestic Sonny Clark release entitled Standards. © Lee Bloom /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Blue Note Records

Dial "S" for Sonny, Sonny Clark's first session for Blue Note Records and his first session as a leader, is a terrific set of laidback bop, highlighted by Clark's liquid, swinging solos. Clark leads a first-rate group -- Art Farmer (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Hank Mobley (tenor sax), Wilbur Ware (bass), Louis Hayes (drums) -- through four originals and two standards, balancing the selections between swinging bop and reflective ballads. There are traces of Bud Powell in Clark's style, but he's beginning to come into his own, developing a style that's alternately edgy and charmingly relaxed. Mobley, Farmer and Fuller have their moments, but Clark steals the show in this set of fine, straight-ahead bop. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Blue Note Records

Sonny Clark's conception of modern jazz is not far removed from his peer group of the late '50s, in that advanced melodic and harmonic ideas override the basic precepts of swing and simplicity. What sets Clark apart from other jazz pianists lies in his conception of democracy to allow his bandmates to steam straight ahead on compositions he has written with them in mind. Though the bulk of this session features the marvelous trumpet/tenor tandem of Donald Byrd and Hank Mobley, it is drummer Art Blakey whose demonstrative presence is heard in full force. He's kicking the band in his own distinctive, inimitable way, rambling through the opener "Junka," based on the changes of "You Go to My Head" with his brand of bomb drops, hard accents, and indefatigable swing. Simply put, this is hard bop at its very best. Several of Clark's very best works are present and accounted for, including two takes of the definitive "Minor Meeting." The second version with Byrd and Mobley has a wonderfully subtle, Asian flavored ascending and descending melody, but the so-called initial recording includes guitarist Kenny Burrell, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, and drummer Pete LaRoca, and sounds quite different. A calypso intro from the drummer yields a different palate, as Burrell in particular takes charge. "Eastern Incident" with the Burrell-Jordan tandem also takes a Far East tack, a completely relaxed line with Jordan smoother than Mobley. "Royal Flush" is also one of Clark's all-time keepers, a true beauty in Latin dress with slight harmonic inferences. This is for the most part a hard swinging date, the exceptions being the cute, sweet, basic shuffle "Blues Blue," a dramatic two-chord progression on "Some Clark Bars," and the third track featuring a Grant Green styled Burrell for the fleet "Little Sonny." Kudos to the great bassist Paul Chambers who plays on all of these cuts with Clark, and is unquestionably in his prime. Except the extraordinary Leapin' and Lopin, this album of contrasts, depth, and spirit showcases Clark's dual concepts brilliantly, and is only a half step below his best. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1962 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released March 6, 2018 | nagel heyer records

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Jazz - Released January 5, 1958 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Of interest to fans of the superb hard bop pianist, this recording combines material from two separate dates. "Royal Flush" and "Lover" are from the January 1958 Cool Struttin' session, and the other tunes, "Minor Meeting," "Eastern Incident," and "Little Sonny," were never released during Clark's tragically short life, so they're special for Clark's fans and they include guitarist Kenny Burrell. Clark rarely worked with a guitarist, although he recorded some wonderful material with Grant Green, Tal Farlow, and Jimmy Raney, three masterful players. His playing here never clashes harmonically or rhythmically with the guitar, a challenging feat for any jazz pianist. These three original tunes are also welcome additions to the consistently excellent body of work that Sonny Clark composed. © Lee Bloom /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 4, 2008 | UPTOWN JAZZ

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1962 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Sonny Clark's fifth Blue Note recording as a leader is generally regarded as his best, especially considering he composed four of the seven tracks, and they all bear his stamp of originality. What is also evident is that he is shaping the sounds of his quintet rather than dominating the proceedings as he did on previous dates. Tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and trumpeter Tommy Turrentine play very little harmony on the date, but their in-tune unison lines are singularly distinctive, while bassist Butch Warren and young drummer Billy Higgins keep the rhythmic coals burning with a steady, glowing red heat. Among the classic tunes is the definitive hard bop opener "Somethin' Special," which lives up to its title in a most bright and happy manner, with Clark merrily comping chords. "Melody for C" is similarly cheerful, measured, and vivid in melodic coloration. The showstopper is "Voodoo," the ultimate late-night slinky jazz tune contrasted by Clark's tinkling piano riffs. Warren wrote the exciting hard bopper "Eric Walks" reminiscent of a Dizzy Gillespie tune, while Turrentine's "Midnight Mambo" mixes metaphors of Afro-Cuban music with unusual off-minor phrases and Rouse's stoic playing. Tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec plays a cameo sans the other horns on the soulful ballad "Deep in a Dream," exhibiting a vocal quality on his instrument, making one wonder if any other sessions with this group were done on the side. Top to bottom, Leapin' and Lopin' is a definitive recording for Clark, and in the mainstream jazz idiom, as well. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 16, 2013 | Marylebone Records

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Jazz - Released August 16, 2013 | Marylebone Records

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Jazz - Released August 16, 2013 | Marylebone Records

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Jazz - Released August 16, 2013 | Marylebone Records