Having the guts and tenacity to champion the reissue of albums that the major labels at the time weren't willing to touch with a ten foot pole, Mosaic Records back in the mid '80s led to way for the type of comprehensive boxed sets that are now the norm. Then a few years ago they launched their Select series in an effort to release material in smaller chunks that would not have merited the full box treatment. Now we see the debut of Mosaic Singles, facsimile reissues of single albums that have somehow skirted detection by the major label heads. The first six offerings are a diverse set of discs taken from the vaults of RCA and Columbia Records.
Issued for the first time in stereo, Hard Bop is a 1956 session featuring Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. In addition to the album's original five selections, we also get half of the album Drum Suite, finally gathering all the material from two days of recording at Columbia's famous 30th Street studios. A somewhat less heralded line-up to work under the Messengers moniker, this ensemble nonetheless boasted the talents of Jackie McLean, trumpeter Bill Hardman, and pianist Sam Dockery. With a mix of standards and a few originals, the group explores typical bop structures including McLean's "Little Melonae. While better things were on the way for Blakey and his Messengers, it's still a delight to have this date back in circulation as it documents an early point in the career of one of the music's most significant bandleaders.
The Cosmic Scene
Although a good deal of Duke Ellington's robust catalog of releases for a number of labels has remained available for all intents and purposes, his Columbia catalog has seen a spotty history. While recent years have seen the reissue of some of the more obscure artifacts of this period, there are still a few Columbia sides that have eluded the major label treatment. The Cosmic Scene is one of those Ellington favorites just now seeing new life on CD and in stereo for the first time ever. Working in a scaled down nine-piece ensemble, Ellington revisits some old favorites but manages to do so in a manner that gives these performances a vitality that still sounds fresh today. Clark Terry, Paul Gonsalves, and Jimmy Hamilton play major roles with strong statements on such key tracks as "Bass-ment, "Perdido, "Take the 'A' Train, and "Body and Soul. Two alternate tracks complete a reissue that any respectable Ellington fan will not want to be without.
Of Course, Of Course
Still a major force on the contemporary jazz scene, Charles Lloyd's early career brought us more than a fair share of memorable albums with a quartet that included a young Keith Jarrett. Ironically, his early sessions for Columbia have somehow been overshadowed by those Atlantic sides and have not seen any sort of widespread reissue. As such, it's a major coup to find Mosaic restoring 1964's Of Course, Of Course to its rightful place in the oeuvre of this major artist. Leading a group with Gabor Szabo, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams, Lloyd shifts effortlessly between forwarding-thinking numbers such as "Apex and more sublime statements like "The Things We Did Last Summer. Williams' style already presents itself as fully formed even at this youthful stage of the game. Three bonus tracks originally from the album Nirvana are included here and merely add icing on top of an already sweet treat.
Best remembered for his be-bop innovations back in the '50s, trombonist J.J. Johnson's sessions as a leader over an extended and illustrious career are varied, but relatively few in number. Recording for Verve, Columbia, and Impulse in the '60s, Johnson struck a deal midway through the decade with RCA that brought with it several fine records that have never received the dues they deserve even to this day. J.J. is a large ensemble recording from 1964 that boasts a who's who of modern jazz masters under the leadership of arranger Oliver Nelson. It also brings with it a perfect forum for some terrific solo work from Johnson. The tunes are of a fine vintage to boot, especially Gary McFarland's "Train Samba and "Winter's Waif. Add two previously unissued tracks penned by Tom McIntosh and you have a real keeper long overdue for reissue.
Al Cohn, Bill Perkins and Richie Kamuca
Although the mid '50s produced many fine records under the banner of West Coast Cool, there were also those albums that were so laid back as to the point of being monotonous. Somewhere in between these two extremes, The Brothers is a 1955 date that was actually cut in New York featuring saxophonists Al Cohn, Bill Perkins, and Richie Kamuca. On sixteen lightly swinging arrangements, four of which are previously unissued, this threesome blows coolly through compact performances that offer little in the way of extended soloing but are somewhat pleasant nonetheless. Pianist Hank Jones is the perfect accompanist for this type of date and while nothing earth shattering can be heard, fans of this style of any of the lead players will likely find something to enjoy.
Chicago/Austin High School Jazz in HiFi
Finally, we come to one of the best records from the late '50s to explore the Dixieland proclivities of an earlier era. Chicago/Austin High School Jazz in HiFi gathers three 1957 sessions led by tenor man Bud Freeman which have been released piecemeal over the years and now appear here collected in one place for the first time. Notable sidemen included Jimmy McPartland, Jack Teagarden, Peanuts Hucko, and Billy Butterfield. Old favorites like "At the Jazz Band Ball and "Liza are included among the fifteen tracks and not a one can be considered a clinker. These guys came to play and the results are nothing short of ebullient.
Tracks and Personnel:
Track listing: 1. Cranky Spanky 4:47 (Bill Hardman) 2. Stella By Starlight 8:52 (V. Young-N. Washington) 3. My Heart Stood Still 7:17 (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 4. Little Melonae 8:20 (Jackie McLean) 5. Stanley's Stiff Chickens 9:37 (B. Hardman-J. McLean) 6. Nica's Tempo 8:18 (Gigi Gryce) 7. Dee's Dilemma 8:26 (Mal Waldron) 8. Just For Marty 5:47 (Bill Hardman) 9. Gershwin Medley 4:51 a Rhapsody In Blue 0:42 (George Gershwin) b Summertime 1:13 (G. Gershwin-D. Heyward) c Someone To Watch Over Me 1:01 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin) d The Man I Love 1:51 (G. Gershwin-I. Gershwin)
Personnel: Bill Hardman, trumpet; Jackie McLean, alto saxophone; Sam Dockery, piano; Spanky De Brest, bass; Art Blakey, drums
The Cosmic Scene
Track listing: Avalon; Body And Soul; Bassment; Early Autumn; Jones; Perdido; St. Louis Blues; Spacemen; Midnight Sun; Take The A Train; Body And Soul (alternate take); Jones (alternate take)
Personnel: Clark Terry, fluegelhorn; Quentin Jackson, John Sanders, Britt Woodman, trombones; Jimmy Hamilton, clarinet; Paul Gonsalves, tenor saxophone; Duke Ellington, piano; Jimmy Woode, bass; Sam Woodyard, drums.
Of Course, Of Course
Track listing: 1. Of Course, Of Course 4:44 (Charles Lloyd) 2. The Song My Lady Sings 2:27 (Charles Lloyd) 3. The Best Thing For You 5:16 (Irving Berlin) 4. The Things We Did Last Summer 6:07 (S. Cahn-J. Styne) 5. Apex 3:57 (Charles Lloyd) 6. One For Joan 5:06 (Charles Lloyd) 7. Goin' To Memphis 3:36 (Charles Lloyd) 8. Voice In The Night 6:42 (Charles Lloyd) 9. Third Floor Richard 6:14 (Charles Lloyd) 10. East Of The Sun 4:53 (Brooks Bowman) 11. Island Blues 3:23 (Charles Lloyd) 12. Sun Dance 3:32 (Charles Lloyd)
Personnel: On 1-10: Charles Lloyd - tenor saxophone, flute; Gabor Szabo - guitar (except on #5); Ron Carter - bass (except on #4); Tony Williams - drums (except on #4). On 11 & 12: Charles Lloyd - tenor saxophone; Gabor Szabo - guitar; Robbie Robertson - guitar (#12 only); Albert Stinson - bass; Pete LaRoca - drums.
Track listing: 1. El Camino Real (C) 4:09 (J. J. Johnson) 2. Stolen Moments (B) 5:51 (Oliver Nelson) 3. Train Samba (C) 6:48 (Gary McFarland) 4. Swing Spring (B) 3:45 (Miles Davis) 5. Bemsha Swing (A) 3:11 (T. Monk-D. Best) 6. My Little Suede Shoes (A) 4:53 (Charlie Parker) 7. So What (A) 4:22 (Miles Davis) 8. Stratusphunk (A) 6:46 (George Russell) 9. Winter's Waif (C) 5:05 (Gary McFarland) 10. Ally (B) 5:43 (Tom McIntosh) 11. Supplication (B) 4:15 (Tom McIntosh)
Personnel: (A) Clark Terry, Ernie Royal, trumpets, fluegelhorns; J.J. Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland, trombones; Tony Studd, bass trombone; Jerry Dodgion, alto sax, flute; Oliver Nelson, alto sax, tenor sax; Jerome Richardson, tenor sax, baritone sax, flute; Hank Jones, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Grady Tate, drums. (B) Thad Jones, Ernie Royal, trumpets, fluegelhorns; J.J. Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland, trombones; Tony Studd, bass trombone; Jerry Dodgion, alto sax, flute, alto flute; Oliver Nelson, alto sax, tenor sax; Ray Beckenstein, baritone sax, bass clarinet, flute; Hank Jones, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Grady Tate, drums. (C) Jimmy Maxwell, Joe Wilder, trumpets; Thad Jones, Ernie Royal, trumpets, fluegelhorns; J.J. Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland, trombones; Tony Studd, Tom Mitchell, bass trombones; Jimmy Buffington, French horn; Bill Stanley, tuba; Jerry Dodgion, alto sax, flute, alto flute; Harvey Estrin, soprano sax, alto sax, clarinet, flute, alto flute; Oliver Nelson, alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet; Budd Johnson, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Hank Jones, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Grady Tate, drums.
Track listing: 1. Blixed 3:45 (Bill Potts) 2. Kim's Kaper 3:10 (Bill Perkins) 3. Rolling Stone 3:05 (Bob Brookmeyer) 4. Sioux Zan 3:05 (Nat Pierce) 5. The Walrus 2:45 (Al Cohn) 6. Blue Skies 3:08 (Irving Berlin) 7. Gay Blade 3:14 (Bob Brookmeyer) 8. Three Of A Kind 3:10 (Nat Pierce) 9. Hags! 3:16 (Bill Potts) 10. Pro-Ex 3:01 (Bill Perkins) 11. Strange Again 3:16 (Bill Potts) 12. Cap Snapper 3:36 (Al Cohn) 13. Memories Of You 2:59 (E. Blake-A. Razaf) 14. Saw Buck 3:18 (Nat Pierce) 15. Chorus For Morris 3:19 (Nat Pierce) 16. Slightly Salty 3:15 (Richie Kamuca)
Personnel: Al Cohn, Richie Kamuca and Bill Perkins, tenor sax; Hank Jones, piano; Barry Galbraith, guitar; John Beal, bass; Chuck Flores, drums. On tracks 1, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 14 and 15, Jimmy Raney replaces Barry Galbraith on guitar.
Chicago/Austin High School Jazz in HiFi
Track listing: 1. China Boy (P. Boutelje-R. Winfree) 2. Sugar (Mitchell-Alexander-Pinkard) 3. Liza (E. Condon-Rubin) 4. Nobody's Sweetheart (Kahn-Erdman-Schoebel-Meyers) 5. Chicago (Fred Fisher) 6. At Sundown (Walter Donaldson) 7. Sunday (Miller-Conn-Styne-Kreuger) 8. The Reverend's In Town (B. Freeman-D. Cary) 9. Prince Of Wails (Elmer Schoebel) 10. Jack Hits The Road (Bud Freeman) 11. Forty Seventh And State (Bud Freeman) 12. There'll Be Some Changes Made (B. Higgins-W. Overstreet) 13. At The Jazz Band Ball (Edwards-LaRocca-Ragas-Sbarbaro-Shields) 14. I Cover The Waterfront (J. Green-E. Heyman) 15. You Took Advantage Of Me (R. Rodgers-L. Hart)
Personnel: Tracks 1-4: Jimmy McPartland, trumpet; Pee Wee Russell, clarinet; Bud Freeman, tenor sax; Dick Cary, piano; Al Casamenti, guitar; Milt Hinton, bass; George Wettling, drums. Tracks 5-8: Billy Butterfield, trumpet; Tyree Glenn, trombone; Pee Wee Russell, clarinet; Bud Freeman, tenor sax; Dick Cary, piano; Al Casamenti, guitar; Al Hall, bass; George Wettling, drums. Tracks 9-15: Billy Butterfield, trumpet; Jack Teagarden, trombone, vocal; Peanuts Hucko, clarinet; Bud Freeman, tenor sax; Gene Schroeder, piano; Leonard Gaskin, bass; George Wettling, drums.