In just the past few years, Mosaic Records, king of the large boxed set reissue phenomenon, has diversified its efforts into several series that offer more opportunities to bring to light music that has been held in the vaults too long or has been done some sort of disservice in previous incarnations. The Select series serves as a smaller set of three discs perfect for projects with a smaller point of focus. The Contemporary series as its name implies touches on titles of more recent vintage, and the Singles program reissues single albums often with bonus material added. It is the four latest from the Singles series that are the topic of this review.
The Time And The Place: The Lost Concert
It has been a bit of a checkered path for many of the titles from Columbia's jazz program of the mid to late 1960s, aside from the big names of the catalog. The small Collectables firm has helped somewhat in terms of this product, but there are still many titles that have yet to make a proper return to the market. Not a widely known set, The Time And The Place (Columbia, 1966) featured an impeccable unit led by fluegelhornist Art Farmer from the mid 1960s, including saxophonist Jimmy Heath, pianist Albert Dailey, bassist Walter Booker, and drummer Mickey Roker. Although reportedly recorded in concert, the original album was actually a studio date with fake applause dubbed in. When three tracks from the concert at the Museum of Modern Art came out on vinyl back in 1982 it raised the suspicion that there might be more music in the vault. Fast forward now 25 years later and at last Mosaic has brought us all eight tracks from that concert for the first time on disc. And while the issued studio tracks were on the short side, these performance takes run their full length. Highlights include "On The Trail, "Far Away Lands, and "The Time And The Place.
Hi-Fi Salute to Bunny
Back in the late 1950s, RCA fostered a select catalog of mainstream jazz titles that have largely been ignored thanks to the company's frequent change of hands and lack of a substantive reissue policy or program. Adding to their previous efforts that have rescued from obscurity RCA titles by saxophonist Bud Freeman, singer Jimmy Witherspoon, and guitarist Freddie Green, Mosaic does the same for Hi-Fi Salute To Bunny (RCA, 1957). The session is led by trumpeter Ruby Braff paying homage to the legendary Bunny Berigan with a selection of nine numbers associated with the swing era icon. It's a special treat to hear clarinetist Pee Wee Russell's work here as he is in fine form throughout. Also worth noting are the efforts of Dick Hafer, a sadly underrated saxophonist who manages to blend the lighter swing of Lester Young with the breathy romanticism of Coleman Hawkins depending on the mood of the tune. Swing fans will not want to be without this special affair that sounds superb in all its mono glory.
There's a detailed back story that accompanies Newport 1958, pianist/composer/bandleader Duke Ellington's ambitious effort to document at the named festival newer music that had not been thoroughly road tested at the time of its recording. As the story goes, all of the music at the live event was documented and then dumped for studio retakes for the released album with dubbed-in fake applause. Some years ago, a two-disc set brought to light all of the live performances, but in doing so left the studio material out-of-print. Now Mosaic has gone back to the release the original album (that's the studio takes and two live cuts originally issued), cover and all. They've also added four of the best live cuts from Newport to round out this package. With the fake applause nixed and the mono masters used for this edition, this music has never sounded better. These are some of Ellington's best numbers from a highly prolific period; just check out "El Gato, "Mr. Gentle And Mr. Cool, and "Juniflip to hear a master in his true element. Baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan makes a fine cameo on "Prima Bara Dubla to boot.
J.J. Johnson & Kai Winding
Trombone For Two
Finally, we come to another item from the Columbia archives that has seen several incarnations and has yet to be presented in its best form until now. Back in the mid 1950s, trombonists J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding led a two 'bone unit that was immensely popular and recorded on four occasions for Columbia. The results of the various session were originally scattered over the albums Trombone For Two (Columbia, 1955) and Jay and Kai (Columbia, 1956). Now presented together, all the tunes from these four sessions are included on Mosaic's issue. This is feel good music that finds our two leading men making the most out of things, with a mix of originals and standards and the use of mutes to vary textures and keep things interesting. Sidemen include pianist Dick Katz, bassist Milt Hinton, drummer Osie Johnson, and percussionist Candido.
Tracks and Personnel
The Time And The Place: The Lost Concert
Tracks: On The Trail; Far Away Lands; The Shadow Of Your Smile; Dailey Bread; Blue Bossa; Is That So?; The Time And The Place.
Personnel: Art Farmer: fluegelhorn; Jimmy Heath: tenor saxophone; Albert Dailey: piano; Walter Booker: bass; Mickey Roker: drums.
Hi-Fi Salute To Bunny
Tracks: Keep Smiling At Trouble; I Can't Get Started; It's Been So Long; I'm Coming Home Virginia; Marie; Downhearted Blues; I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good; Somebody Else Is Taking My Place; Did I Remember?.
Personnel: Ruby Braff: trumpet; Benny Morton: trombone; Pee Wee Russell: clarinet; Dick Hafer: tenor saxophone; Nat Pierce: piano; Steve Jordan: guitar; Walter Page: bass; Buzzy Drootin: drums.
Tracks: El Gato; Happy Reunion; Multicolored Blue; Princess Blue; Jazz Festival Jazz; Mr. Gentle And Mr. Cool; Juniflip; Hi Fi Fo Fum; Just Scratchin' The Surface; Happy Reunion; Mr. Gentle And Mr. Cool; Jazz Festival Jazz, Feet Bone; Prima Bara Dubla.
Personnel: Duke Ellington: piano; Clark Terry, Ray Nance, Cat Anderson, Shorty Baker, Cootie Williams: trumpet; Britt Woodman, John Sanders, Quentin Jackson: trombone; Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Jimmy Hamilton, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney: woodwinds; Jimmy Woode: bass; Sam Woodyard: drums.
Trombone For Two
Tracks: The Whiffenpoof Song; Give Me The Simple Life; Close As Pages In A Book; Turnabout; Trombone For Two; It's Sand, Man; We Two; Let's Get Away From It All; Goodbye; This Can't Be Love; You'd Be So Nice To Come Hone To; Caribe; Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe; The Song Is You; In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning; Tromboniums In Motion; How High The Moon; Violets For Your Furs; Too Close For Comfort; 'S Wonderful.
Personnel: J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding: trombone; Dick Katz: piano; Paul Chambers, Milt Hinton, Bill Crow: bass; Osie Johnson, Shadow Wilson, Kenny Clarke: drums; Candido Camero: bongos.