This newly issued Rudy Van Gelder remaster of the 1956 session highlights tenor saxophone icon Sonny Rollins performing with the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quartet. It's one of trumpet great Clifford Brown's last recordings, and the magic of this date (originally released on Prestige) loses not one iota of steam several decades after the fact. Rollins' husky and fluent lines coupled with Brown's velvety bop phrasings make for the kind of stuff that sends tingles down the spine. Breathtaking, to say the least. Unlike many of his peers, Rollins is difficult to mimic: his colossal improvisational skills are steeped in a penchant for meticulously deconstructing standards with melodic trills and muscular phrasings. Putting power and fluency aside, the soloists make the difficult processes seem as easy as taking candy away from an infant. Strength, intuitive responses and grace are but a mere few of the notable components here. And of course, George Morrow's steady walking bass lines, along with drummer Max Roach's lyrically charged fills and pianist Richie Powell's animated phrasings, offer a near-flawless foundation for the soloists. Essential.
J.A. Granelli And Mr. Lucky
Homing (A Feeling In Nine Parts)
This quintet does indeed project a homey groove, with roots-based pieces that fluctuate somewhere in between jazz improvisation, blues and Americana. Guitarist Brad Shepik turns up the heat in spots, and his primary foil, steel guitarist Gerald Menke, lays out attractive and crystalline lines, a vitally important component of the sound. Bassist J.A. Granelli and drummer Mike Sarin deliver thumping pulses, while organist/Fender Rhodes artist Nate Shaw combines a jazz-fusion/blues vibe. The ensemble's heterogeneous line of attack works like a charm throughout this wondrously envisioned album. One of 2006's standout releases.