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Jazz - Released January 1, 1980 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)


Jazz - Released January 1, 1960 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)


Jazz - Released January 1, 1980 | Blue Note Records

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Tina Brooks' first session for Blue Note was recorded in March of 1958, a month after he appeared on Jimmy Smith's sessions for The Sermon and House Party, but the music wasn't released at the time. The sessions remained unreleased for years, eventually appearing as Minor Move in Japan during the '80s. Listening to Minor Move, it's hard to see why the record was shelved. Not only does it feature Brooks in robust form, but he's supported by pianist Sonny Clark, trumpeter Lee Morgan, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Art Blakey -- a first-rate lineup if there ever was one. Stylistically, the music here is no great surprise -- it's straight-ahead, driving hard bop -- but the performances are exceptional. Brooks has no problem keeping up with Morgan and Clark, who both have more than their fair share of fine moments here. He has a rich, full-bodied tone and clever phrasing, keeping the music fresh on standards like "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Everything Happens to Me." His original compositions "Nutville" and "Minor Move" are equally impressive, offering the entire band opportunities to stretch out and improvise vigorously. It is true that Minor Move is right within the hard bop tradition, but fans of that style will find much to treasure here. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Blue Note Records

Like two of his other three albums, Tina Brooks' final session as a leader (in March 1961) was sequenced and prepared for release, but remained on the shelves until well after the tenor's tragically early death. That's why the title of The Waiting Game is not only apt, but sadly poignant. Despite Blue Note's reservations at the time, Brooks' output for the label was uniformly strong, demonstrating his skills as a smooth, graceful soloist and a composer of considerable dexterity within the hard bop idiom. Swinging and bluesy, yet sophisticated and refined, The Waiting Game upholds the high standard Brooks set with his previous sessions. Brooks is especially fine on his minor-key compositions, such as "Talkin' About" and "Dhyana," which allow his streak of melancholy romanticism to emerge (as does the lone cover here, the Tony Bennett hit "Stranger in Paradise"). With its hints of Eastern modalities, "David the King" is perhaps the most challenging piece here; in fact, it had been attempted without success at the Back to the Tracks sessions. Brooks sounds especially searching on the album-closing title cut, and pianist Kenny Drew and trumpeter Johnny Coles contribute some long, fluid lines of their own. Hard bop fans will find The Waiting Game just as necessary as Brooks' other albums. Not counting the out-of-print Mosaic box, The Waiting Game was first issued as its own entity in 1999 in Japan, and was finally released in the U.S. in October 2002. ~ Steve Huey

Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Blue Note Records

The music that comprises Back to the Tracks was recorded in September 1960, months after the sessions for True Blue, but it sat on the shelves until Mosaic reissued it as part of their Complete Blue Note Recordings box, even though it was penciled in for release. Like Minor Move, Tina Brooks first session that stayed unreleased for over 20 years, Back to the Tracks is an excellent hard bop set, and it's hard to understand why it wasn't released at the time. Brooks leads a fantastic band featuring alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor through three originals and two standards. Each musician has opportunity to shine, but Brooks remains the center of attention. His style is remarkably fluid, capable of graceful, elegant turns on the ballads and clean, speedy improvisations on the up-tempo bop. Each of the five songs have breathtaking moments, confirming Brooks talents as a saxophonist, composer and leader. Listening to Back to the Tracks, it's impossible to figure out why the record wasn't released at the time, but it's a hard bop gem from the early '60s to cherish. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Blue Note Records

Obscure but talented tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks is teamed with the young trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (on one of his earliest sessions), pianist Duke Jordan, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Art Taylor for a set dominated by Brooks' originals. None of the themes may be all that memorable ("Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You" comes the closest), but the hard bop solos are consistently excellent. [Some reissues add alternate takes of "True Blue" and "Good Old Soul."] ~ Scott Yanow

Jazz - Released January 1, 1960 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)