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151
Album Review

Gordon Jenkins: Gordon Jenkins Presents Marshall Royal

Read "Gordon Jenkins Presents Marshall Royal" reviewed by Nic Jones


As an integral part of the creative rebirth of the Count Basie band in the 1950s, Marshall Royal has been receiving kudos for decades, and rightly so. As a soloist he never got much exposure, however, and this reissue of a body of music recorded in March of 1960 is the nearest thing he got to a showcase.

It's exposure he deserved, but perhaps Gordon Jenkins wasn't the ideal man to provide the settings. The fact of the matter is ...

228
Album Review

Gordon Jenkins / Marshall Royal: Gordon Jenkins with His Orchestra Presents Marshall Royal

Read "Gordon Jenkins with His Orchestra Presents Marshall Royal" reviewed by David Rickert


How to explain the bewitching power of sax and strings albums, especially for those who would never dare go near the easy listening section of their local music store? The best of these records, like Stan Getz's Focus (Verve, 1961) or Bird With Strings (Columbia, 1950), feature terrific arranging married to imaginative playing, reworking melodies, yet never reaching for anything too challenging. From my own perspective, these records retain a special fascination.

This particular pairing, a reissue of ...

299
Album Review

Django Reinhardt: Memorial

Read "Memorial" reviewed by David Rickert


When Django Reinhardt switched from acoustic to electric guitar, his fans, feeling betrayed, called him “Judas." However, he later used this new instrument to record Blonde On Blonde, often considered one of the greatest rock records of all time.

Actually, that was Bob Dylan. But Reinhardt's electric period, which encompassed the last few years of his life, is certainly the black sheep of his catalog. Reinhardt was still in fine form and had even incorporated elements of bebop ...

387
Album Review

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Live! at Slug's, NYC

Read "Live! at Slug's, NYC" reviewed by Samuel Chell


The drums and bass are miked too “hot," and the horns occasionally distort, but there are at least two compelling reasons to listen to this 2006 release of a 1968 on-location Messengers date featuring an unusual Blakey lineup. (No doubt some jazz fans will recognize Slug's as the unpretentious Bowery jazz saloon where Lee Morgan was shot and killed by a jealous lover.)

Billy Harper was an emerging tenor star and a dominant, “first-call" musician on the New ...

144
Album Review

Various Artists: Atlas Jazz Explosion

Read "Atlas Jazz Explosion" reviewed by David Rickert


Rhythm & blues was a powerful musical force in the '50s, influencing the direction that many jazz musicians followed and paving the way for rock and roll. There was quite a market for R&B 45s, and small labels featuring eager young unknowns were able to carve out a niche in at least some jukeboxes. Many of these obscure but still worthy records remain stashed away, but Empire Musicwerks has resurrected some of the better efforts from the Atlas, Mambo and ...

320
Album Review

Pee Wee Russell: Portrait Of Pee Wee

Read "Portrait Of Pee Wee" reviewed by David Rickert


Pee Wee Russell was an early pioneer, a Dixieland veteran, and an inspired clarinetist with an unusual voice. No less than Gene Krupa once said that he had “the most fabulous musical mind... I've never run into anybody who had that much musical talent.

During the fifties, long after his style of music had fallen out of favor, he stayed at the top of his game by absorbing the new styles that had come along, recording Coleman tunes with a ...

241
Album Review

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Live at Slug's, NYC

Read "Live at Slug's, NYC" reviewed by David Rickert


Many of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers left the group to build successful careers of their own. However, in between Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter and the Marsalises was this curious 1968 band, made up largely of talented unknowns. This particular version of the band never made it into the studio, and this live recording from Slug's in New York City is only one of two recordings of this band know to exist.

Those who are well versed in ...

336
Album Review

Various: Jazz Is Love: Timeless Songs For Lovers

Read "Jazz Is Love: Timeless Songs For Lovers" reviewed by Andrew Velez


This mix of fifteen sides from the '50s and '60s is studded with gems, mostly from our greatest songwriters--the likes of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, each offering an enduringly upbeat report from the trenches of love. Most of the artists are now gone, but very much worth remembering or becoming newly acquainted with. Among these, the only one that was actually a pop hit was Gloria Lynne's creamily chiseled, fiercely tender 1965 version of ...

276
Album Review

Charlie Byrd: Bamba Samba Bossa Nova

Read "Bamba Samba Bossa Nova" reviewed by David Rickert


Charlie Byrd never really got his due as a jazz guitarist; most people see him as a pioneer in bossa nova and little else. Of course it doesn't help that many of his records were quiet affairs, lacking soul and preoccupied with applying classical technique to jazz chops. Many preferred to stick with Wes or Kenny rather than follow Byrd on his world music excursions.

However, Byrd really excelled in the area of presentation, reshaping South American folk ...

163
Album Review

Charlie Shavers: The Everest Years

Read "The Everest Years" reviewed by David Rickert


Like many great trumpeters, Charlie Shavers got lost in the shuffle somewhere between Louis and Miles and today is known by few. Although he recorded several fine solos as a member of John Kirby and Tommy Dorsey's outfits, he scarcely recorded as a leader, which no doubt has contributed to his obscurity.

However, Empire Musicwerks has resurrected Shavers' recordings from the late fifties and sixties on Everest, a label that was a refuge for many of the stars of the ...


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