Great Jazz Piano & Great Jazz Organ

Jim Santella By

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These two albums from Tower Records' "Exclusive CDs from Blue Note compilation series feature several of the greatest jazz pianists and organists at work with small ensemble sessions that include straight-ahead music from the past.

Various Artists
Great Jazz Piano
Blue Note

As Art Tatum opens this compilation of jazz piano masterpieces with "Willow Weep for Me, we're disarmed by the intricate design of his interpretation. The piano's keys sparkle with humble clarity and a virtuosic facility that amazes. Thelonious Monk follows with "April in Paris, from a 1947 session that features bassist Gene Ramey and drummer Art Blakey. Here, we're treated to a spontaneous session that swings.

Horace Silver's "Opus de Funk, from a 1953 trio session, includes fours from bassist Percy Heath and drummer Art Blakey. The pianist swings with a heartfelt blues feeling that catches fire. Similarly, Duke Ellington, who works here with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach on "Wig Wise, swings with a mesmerizing force that gives each member of his trio plenty of room.

Bill Evans and Jim Hall interpret "Darn That Dream with lush harmonic depth, while Herbie Hancock leads a stellar quintet in "Riot. His quintet, which includes Jerry Dodgion on alto flute, Thad Jones on flugelhorn, Peter Phillips on bass trombone, Ron Carter on bass and Mickey Roker on drums, features the pianist in a flight of pleasant lyricism.

As Chick Corea interprets "Matrix, from a 1968 session along with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Hanes, you can feel the surging excitement that he always seems to enjoy in his music. With McCoy Tyner's solo piano interpretation of "You Taught My Heart to Sing, from Revelations, a 1988 session that is not currently available, we're treated to a lovely ballad opportunity that closes this keepsake album of remarkable piano jazz souvenirs with a friendly hug.

Various Artists
Great Jazz Organ
Blue Note

Jimmy Smith opens Blue Note's jazz organ compilation with "When Johnny Comes Marching Home, featuring guitarist Quentin Warren and drummer Donald Bailey in an organ combo delight that captures the essence. Together, they stir up a powerful concoction that dances with cool satisfaction. As Jimmy McGriff interprets "All About My Girl with Morris Dow and Jackie Mills, he provides a convincing argument as to why some of us would want to boogie all night long. All that's missing is the dance floor and the company.

Several tracks appear here on Blue Note's Great Jazz Organ compilation that are not currently available from their original albums. Big John Patton's "The Silver Meter, from Along Came John, represents a facet of the organ combo movement of the 1960s that became quite popular. It was soulful, easy on the ears, and came with a gut-check that blew the blues right through it. Freddie Roach's "Brown Sugar, from the album of the same name, features Joe Henderson along with organ, guitar and drums in a saucy romp that parties hearty.

Baby Face Willette's "Face to Face, also from an album of the same name, features tenor saxophonist Fred Jackson along with guitarist Grant Green, organist Willette, and drummer Ben Dixon. Together, they drive hard in a fiery romp that lights up the night. Reuben Wilson interprets "Hot Rod with George Coleman, Lee Morgan, Grant Green and Idris Muhammad, from Love Bug, which creates in instant shuffle, taking the quintet from zero to 90 in no time at all.

Brother Jack McDuff closes the compilation with "Ya'll Remember Boogie, from Who Knows What Tomorrow's Gonna Bring?, featuring a big band sound from a ten-piece band. He rocks the night away, placing the spotlight on Joe Beck's fiery guitar and his own interpretation of how forcefully a hot organ powerhouse band should smoke.

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, Sanctified and Ultimate Cool. For more information on this series, click here.

Tracks and Personnel

Great Jazz Piano

Track Listing: Willow Weep for Me; April in Paris; Opus de Funk; Wig Wise; Darn That Dream; Riot; Matrix; You Taught My Heart to Sing.

Personnel: Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner: piano; Charles Mingus, Gene Ramey, Percy Heath, Ron Carter, Miroslav Vitous: bass; Roy Haynes, Mickey Roker, Art Blakey, Max Roach: drums; Jim Hall: guitar; Jerry Dodgion: alto flute; Thad Jones: flugelhorn; Peter Phillips: bass trombone.

Great Jazz Organ

Track Listing: When Johnny Comes Marching Home; The Silver Meter; All About My Girl; Brown Sugar; Face to Face; Hot Rod; Ya'll Remember Boogie.

Personnel: Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Brother Jack McDuff, Big John Patton, Baby Face Willette, Freddie Roach, Reuben Wilson: organ; Grant Green, Quentin Warren, Joe Beck, Eddie Wright, Morris Dow: guitar; Ben Dixon, Jackie Mills, Clarence Johnston, Donald Bailey, Donald McDonald, Idris Muhammad: drums; Joe Henderson, Fred Jackson, Harold Vick, George Coleman: tenor saxophone; Randy Brecker, Olu Dara, Lee Morgan: trumpet; Dick Griffin, John Pierson: trombone; Ray Draper: tuba; Paul Griffin: piano; Tony Levin: bass.


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