Blue Mitchell: The Thing To Do (2004)
Trumpeter Blue Mitchell had a sound in every way as individual as his label-mates Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan, and like them, tragically, he could misuse studio time recording uninspired bop and funk. The Thing To Do makes you wish Mitchell had been this focused and well accompanied more of the time.
Blessed with a lyrically brassy tone imbued with a shade of vulnerability perfect for ballads, Mitchell absolutely reveals a confidence and zest in this finely programmed set. A young Chick Corea does for Mitchell what Herbie Hancock did for Miles: create challenging rhythmic and harmonic gambits that inspired the trumpeter to soar. The album's hit was "Fungii Mama," a bit of sly calypso in the vein Sonny Rollins has transmuted so deftly, but the most memorable selection might be the hard driving "Step Lightly," a Joe Henderson tune saxman Junior Cook handles with great elan. The rhythm team of bassist Gene Taylor and Al Foster (mysteriously identified on the CD cover as "Aloysius Foster") is supple and thoughtful.
This album serves as a reminder of the deep musical communion Mitchell and Cook could create outside of their tenure in the Horace Silver group, and the fact that Mitchell's glowing legacy is worthy of serious reconsideration, in spite of his uneven back catalog.
Track Listing: Fungii Mama; Mon's Mood; The Thing To Do; Step Lightly; Chick's Tune.
Personnel: Blue Mitchell, Junior Cook, Chick Corea, Gene Taylor, Aloysius Foster.