Tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan (1931-93) recorded consistently excellent hard bop throughout his three and half decades in jazz. But he was arguably never better than when heard with pianist Cedar Walton's Magic Triangle (which also figures among Walton's best work too). The quartet, with bassist Sam Jones and drummer Billy Higgins, was recorded prolifically between 1973 and 1976 mostly for Steeplechase under Jordan's name and Muse under Walton's name. Any one of these sets are highly recommended, offering some of the finest, most expressive hard bop ever made.
Night of The Mark VII, named for Jordan's Selmer Mark VII horn, was originally released in 1975 on Muse Records then re-issued on a 1991 CD titled Highest Mountain. It's a sterling five-song set typical for the group and recorded live in Paris on March 26, 1975. Features include the Jordan chestnut, "Highest Mountain," the Walton classic, "Midnight Waltz," Sam Jones's excellent "One For Amos," the jazz standard "Blue Monk" and the little-known Bill Lee tribute, "John Coltrane." It adds up to the pinnacle of bop music: memorably played by its most stalwart messengers. Timeless and easily recommended.
Songs:John Coltrane; Highest Mountain; Blue Monk; Blue Monk; Midnight Waltz; One For Amos.
Players:Clifford Jordan: tenor sax; Cedar Walton: piano; Sam Jones: bass; Billy Higgins: drums.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.