Creed Taylor is best known for his CTI label of the 1970s, but he has been important in the jazz recording industry for quite some time.
| Stan Getz: Getz / Gilberto (1963) |
Saxophone's ballad master shares the spotlight with Brazil's two most influential and enduring composers, guitarist João Gilberto and pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim, intertwining three individual solo styles into a single, soft romantic voice. "The Girl From Ipanema was the very first time that João's wife Astrud Gilberto sang outside of her own home, good enough to claim the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Also claimed the Jazz Album of the Year AND Album of the Year Grammy Awards and is enshrined in the NARAS Hall of Fame for recordings. Pure, absolutely essential, magic.
| Jim Hall: Concierto (1975) |
Cast by Sebesky amidst soloists Baker, Desmond and pianist Roland Hanna, Hall characteristically allows them room to sparkleespecially Baker and Hannah, who prances through Ellington's "Rock Skippin' and both versions of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To. Hall sounds profoundly serene gliding through "Concierto de Arunjuez, the set's centerpiece, with Desmond; as Baker assumes Desmond's spotlight the contemplative mood shifts but remains seamlessly perfect. You can almost hear this guitarists' guitarist connect the dots between Wes Montgomery and Pat Metheny here.
| Freddie Hubbard: Red Clay (1970) |
Red Clay stands among Hubbard's personal favorite AND his best-selling titles, a volcanic blast of bebop and jazz funk. Thank saxophonist Joe Henderson and pianist Hancock for the bebop and jazz; Carter and especially drummer Lenny White, whose sound shimmers and crackles, for the funk; and Hubbard for blowing equal parts hard bop, bebop, and molten lava. The title track has proven to be one of Hubbard's most enduring works and demonstrates how to rock jazz HARD withOUT fusing it with rock and roll.
| Freddie Hubbard: First Light (1970) |
First Light expands upon the success of Red Clay in terms of both personnel (with larger ensembles of flutes, strings, brass, vibes, percussion and piano augmenting Hubbard, Carter, DeJohnette and Benson) and repertoire (Hubbard's adventurous title track spacewalk then songs by Paul McCartney, Mancini-Mercer and Leonard Bernstein), all couched in trademark plush Sebesky arrangements. The results claimed the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Group and prompted Hubbard to remark: "I put more feeling into that album than any other before.
| Milt Jackson: Sunflower (1972) |
"Bags, the groove machine propelling the Modern Jazz Quartet, leads a quintessential '70s quintetHancock, Hubbard, Carter and Cobhamcushioned by Sebesky's arrangements and strings, guitar and horns, swinging as one through familiar pop and soul selections and Hubbard's challenging, multi-hued title track (shifting between blues and bop and Latin), bookended by two Jackson tunes. Hancock and Jackson playfully roughhouse the middle section of "People Make the World Go Round into a shout of blissful funk.
| Antonio Carlos Jobim: Stone Flower (1970) |
An understated yet no less brilliant gem from this critically AND popularly-acclaimed master. Arrangements by Deodatowho also strums acoustic guitar as warm and inviting as the tropical dawnfeature Hubert Laws' flute and Joe Farrell's saxophone as the primary solo voices, while Jobim layers like soft flannel acoustic guitar, acoustic and electric piano, and vocals. Characteristically tender in rhythm and romantic in melody, the hushed instrumentation and whispered vocals positively SCREAM "Jobim!
| Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio: Smokin' at the Half Note (1965) |
Jam session appropriately opens with Miles Davis' "No Blues, since Kelly's trio with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb served as Miles' rhythm section from 1959 through '63 (including the seminal Kind of Blue sessions). From this opening through the closing "What's New, a studious ballad, Montgomery seems to casually toss off guitar licks that amaze everyone except him, while Kelly's piano improvisations catapult him to the first line of post-Bud Powell pianists.
| Oliver Nelson: Blues & The Abstract Truth (1961) |
The leader's own annotations explain: "The blues, which is a twelve-bar form, and the form and chord structure of 'I've Got Rhythm,' being 32 measures in length, was my material for all of the compositions on this album. An amazing accomplishment of equal parts arrangements (by Nelson), compositions (including Nelson's classic "Stolen Moments ), and performancesespecially by the Paul Chambers / Roy Haynes rhythm section, the luminous Eric Dolphy / Freddie Hubbard frontline, and pianist Bill Evans, particularly well suited to Nelson's articulate gentleness.
| Nina Simone: Baltimore (1978) |
Taylor's only recording of Simone (her first sessions in four years) is a relatively brief but typically mixed set of originals, covers, and spirituals forged in the dark molten iron of Simone's unmistakable piano and vocal soul. Her proud voice resounds more vulnerable than defiant but proves no less powerful on music by Judy Collins, Randy Newman, and Hall & Oates, plus the timeless "Everything Must Change. Her voice might float like a butterfly on the lilting reggae rhythms of the two closing spirituals, but the impact of that voice still kicks like a mule.
| Jimmy Smith / Wes Montgomery: Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo (1966) |
Taylor pairs two of the times' best jazz players on organ and guitar; Smith plays hot to Montgomery's cool in leading Clark Terry, Phil Woods, Ray Barretto, and the rock-solid rhythm section of Richard Davis and Grady Tate through a tasty old-school jazz-funk jam arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson. Thick as taffy, the duo meshes and matches so perfectly they might have been better called "the funk brothers.
| Stanley Turrentine: Sugar (1970) |
Mr. T's languid sound pours like syrup through thick, sweet funk: This soulful tenor man's CTI debut reunites him with Carter and Hubbard, with whom he played on sessions for Blue Note, plus pulls in Benson and organist Lonnie Liston-Smith. Hubbard was blowing apart nearly everything he played during this period and breathes fire in the title cut and the Latin boogaloo "Sunshine Alley, which grooves hard on Smith's Hammond and Pablo Landrum's congas; Turrentine and Benson adventurously explore Coltrane's "Impressions to close.
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