The State of Reissues 2010: Dave Brubeck, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Joe Pass
Busted horn, busted life, busted attitude, and very high, an angry Pepper enters the recording studio not knowing what he is going to play and ultimately not knowing how to play several of the numbers decided upon. Tesser's notes reveal from Pepper's autobiography Straight Life (Schirmer Books, 1979) that Pepper "went blank" when asked for the first song. Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" and and Jimmy Van Heusen's "Imagination" were suggested and while Pepper was familiar with the tunes, he had never played them. That little bit of stress produced two of the more memorable tracks on the disc. Pepper, without hesitation, launched into these songs, remaking them in the same real time way Charlie Parker used for his 1947 recasting of the Gershwins' "Embraceable You."
The Dizzy Gillespie songbook provided "Tin Tin Deo" and "Birk's Works." The former presents some very deft drumming by Jones and the latter a nice mini-duet between Pepper and Garland. Chambers is the anchor on which this session is tethered. Both his pizzicato and arco soloing is captured better with the present 24-bit remastering than on previous releases. Restored to this session is "The Man I Love" which had been released on the odds- and-ends collection The Way It Was (Contemporary, 1972).
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Way Out West
Original Jazz Classics Remastered
The pianoless jazz combo was nothing new when Sonny Rollins recorded Way Out West on March 7, 1957. Benny Goodman fiddled with a clarinet, vibes and drums format in the 1940s, and baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan had already made history with trumpeter Chet Baker and a pianoless quartet at the Haig in the early 1950s. Way Out West marked the first time Rollins recorded as a tenor trio sans piano. He would take this format into the noted Freedom Suite (Riverside, 1958).
Rollins had ended 1956 recording with drummer Max Roach in various formats, some led by Roach, others by Rollins. Accompanying Roach to Los Angeles for an EmArcy recording date with Roach's working quintet of (Kenny Dorham, trumpet Bill Wallace, piano, and George Morrow, bass, resulted in the album Jazz in 3/4 Time (EmArcy, 1957)). Rollins booked time for a trio recording using West Coast musicians Ray Brown (bass) and Shelly Manne (drums). He did this without the knowledge of Roach, who later questioned him about it.
But that was not the only ripple of controversy surrounding Way Out West. Photographer William Claxton's famous sleeve cover of Rollins in the desert wearing a cowboy had and gun belt, a photo made at Rollins' request, prompted Lester Koenig to print a disclaimer on the sleeve cover that Rollins had authorized the photograph in an effort to meet criticism of the recording as a "scam." Some 50 or so years later, the album title, cover art and repertoire only make sense as the East Coast tenor titan comes west to record with the local talent.
The release boasts two performances of Johnny Mercer's "I'm An Old Cowhand," the alternate take considerably extended from the A side. Shelly Manne sets up a loping rhythm that is picked up by Brown. Rollins' tone is a natural resource, full and virile, teeming with life. "There Is No Greater Love" displays Rollins' pristine ballad touch and the originals, "Come, Gone" and "Way Out West," the saxophonist's sense of humor and whimsy. The remastering has sharpened Brown's bass and brightened Manne's cymbals. The edges of Rollins' rasp is accentuated, increasing the organic quality of that famous tone.
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Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane
Original Jazz Classics Remastered
In December 1956, Miles Davis fired John Coltrane from his first quintet. The previous October, Coltrane had taken part in Davis' marathon recording sessions that would result in the albums collected on Miles Davis: The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions (Prestige, 2006). Growing less reliable due to his heroin addiction, Coltrane had become a drain on Davis and was let go. That was just the thing to flip Coltrane.