These two themed albums from Tower Records' "Exclusive CDs from Blue Note compilation series feature emotions at work. Not the kind of emotions that result in loud or piercing attacks, but the kind that mellow with age. No reason to hurry. No reason to push the music forcefully. Both albums present cool and comforting music from the chilled side of jazz history.
A fine selection of vocal gems from 1947 to 2004, Ultimate Cool begins with Babs Gonzales singing "Oop-Pop-A-Da and closes with Kurt Elling singing "Those Clouds Are Heavy, You Dig?
With the courage of true pioneers, Gonzales and Elling bring unique presences to the microphone. Similarly, Patricia Barber, who contributes "Gotcha, lends a distinctive vocal personality, one that settles in comfortably through her tasty quartet arrangement and easy delivery. Bob Dorough sings "Fish For Supper, from his Too Much Coffee Man album, with a bright spirit that puts a smile on your face. Mose Allison sings "Ever Since The World Ended in his own idiosyncratic blues style. Few can compare. From Jazz Profile, this is his unique arrangement featuring Arthur Blythe's alto saxophone solo. Together, they're at peace with the world.
Chet Baker's "Line For Lyons is immortal, and June Christy's "Something Cool will continue to paint its calming colours for eternity too. As Sheila Jordan sings "Hum Drum Blues with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Denzil Best, you feel the message sinking in. She leaves no doubt about its power. Two heroes of cool vocalese share the microphone on "Don't Get Scared, as King Pleasure and Jon Hendricks deliver some of their best work. Ultimate Cool is arguably the best of the Tower series so far.
The late 1950s and early 1960s brought us plenty of keepsake jazz, much of it unforgettable. Donald Byrd's interpretation of "Cristo Redentor and Bobby Timmons' reading of "Moanin', with Benny Golson and Lee Morgan, stand apart as special moments. Both songs have been honored by others, but these two classic arrangements have it all wrapped up. Nobody could duplicate such masterpieces, because both have already made indelible impressions.
The other selections on Sanctified are also familiar, although not as poignant. Horace Silver works with Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, Doug Watkins and Art Blakey to deliver "The Preacher with plenty of soul. Donald Byrd returns with a soulful "Amen, in a quintet that pairs him with Jackie McLean. Hank Mobley interprets "A Baptist Beat with Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Art Blakey in an emotional celebration of faith and a thank-you for great jazz inspiration. Mobley and Hubbard were both at the peak of their careers when the tune was recorded in 1960.
Grant Green's "Go Down Moses features Herbie Hancock, Butch Warren and Billy Higgins in a traditional and notably eloquent interpretation, a feverish listening experience steeped in gospel and coated with blues. Lou Donaldson's "Rev. Moses comes from a later year: 1967. From his Alligator Boogaloo album, the alto saxophonist fronts a quintet including guitarist George Benson, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, drummer Idris Muhammad, and cornetist Mel Lastie. Their up-tempo romp follows the album's theme, but from an organ combo perspective rocking with a glad-happy experience. Isn't that what it's all about? Sanctified opens a window to the soul that lets in joy and understanding.
The other albums in this limited-release compilation series include Blues In The Pocket, Blue Funk, Great Jazz Tenor Saxophone, Blue Bossa Nova, Jazz Super Hits, Soul Party, Great Jazz Organ and Great Jazz Piano. For more information on the series, click here.
Tracks and Personnel
Track Listing: Oop-Pop-A-Da; Line For Lyons; Something Cool; Hum Drum Blues; Don't Get Scared; Fish For Supper; Ever Since The World Ended; Gotcha; Those Clouds Are Heavy, You Dig?.
Personnel: June Christy, Chet Baker, Babs Gonzales, Kurt Elling, King Pleasure, Jon Hendricks, Sheila Jordan: vocal; Bob Dorough, Patricia Barber, Mose Allison: vocal, piano; Phil Woods, Bud Shank, Rudy Williams, Bob Malach, Arthur Blythe: alto saxophone; Seldon Powell, Bennie Wallace, Phil Urso: tenor saxophone; Pee Wee Tinney, Neal Alger: guitar; Tadd Dameron, Bobby Timmons, Geoff Clarkson: piano; Art Phipps, Jimmy Bond, Rob Amster, Dennis Irwin, Michael Arnopol, Ray Drummond, Steve Swallow: bass; Denzil Best, Peter Littman, Charles Simon, Billy Hart, Tom Whaley, Eric Montzha: drums; others.
Track Listing: Cristo Redentor; Moanin'; The Preacher; Amen; A Baptist Beat; Rev. Moses; Go Down Moses.
Personnel: Jackie Mclean, Lou Donaldson: alto saxophone; Benny Golson, Hank Mobley: tenor saxophone; Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham: trumpet; Melvin Lastie: cornet; Donald Best: vibraphone; Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, George Benson: guitar; Dr. Lonnie Smith: organ; Herbie Hancock, Wynton Kelly, Horace Silver, Duke Pearson, Bobby Timmons: piano; Butch Warren, Doug Watkins, Paul Chambers, Jymie Merritt: bass; Art Blakey, Lex Humphries, Idris Muhammad, Billy Higgins: drums; Garvin Masseaux: tambourine; others.