Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.

I want to help

My Blue Note Obsession


Grant Green: The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark – 1961-62

Read "Grant Green: The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark – 1961-62" reviewed by

Imagine if someone discovered a stash of unreleased Beatles records 15 years after they broke up. Then imagine Apple Records released all that music in a 2-CD set. That's what Grant Green: The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark is like. I exaggerate, but not by much. Grant Green wasn't the Beatles of jazz. But for about five years in the early-to mid-1960s, he was arguably the best jazz guitarist around. He was in the same class ...


Louis Smith: Here Comes Louis Smith – 1957

Read "Louis Smith: Here Comes Louis Smith – 1957" reviewed by

I'm not a musical snob. I'm not a guy to drop obscure musical names to impress friends and hipsters. But when I come across a name that is undeservedly obscure, I don't mind shouting it out the window. So here's my shout for today: Louis Smith! Chances are you've never heard of Louis Smith. You should. He put out exactly two albums as a Blue Note bandleader, in 1957 and 1958, then disappeared for the next ...


Horace Silver: The United States of Mind – Revisited

Read "Horace Silver: The United States of Mind – Revisited" reviewed by

At what point did Blue Note Records jump the shark? Is there a single moment when Blue Note stopped being the world's greatest purveyor of jazz and instead became an irrelevant producer of schlock? Truth is, it was a long, slow slide. In the 1950s, Blue Note was the greatest source of hard bop. In the 1960s, it produced the best soul-jazz on earth. And then, one day in the 1970s--poof! It was all gone. Where did it ...


Charles Mingus: Mingus in Wonderland – 1959

Read "Charles Mingus: Mingus in Wonderland – 1959" reviewed by

In 1959, there were two Charles Minguses: the Mingus you knew and the Mingus you didn't. In May 1959, Mingus recorded his very best album ever: the incomparable Mingus Ah Um. And I mean incomparable in the literal sense. There is, literally, no other record quite like it. It's a big band, but not a Big Band. It's progressive but approachable. It's a tribute to the past that is also forward-looking. It is simply a tour de force. ...


Art Blakey: A Night in Tunisia – 1961

Read "Art Blakey: A Night in Tunisia – 1961" reviewed by

Dizzy Gillespie's “A Night in Tunisia" has been done almost to death. Wikipedia says it has been recorded at least 500 times and it is the title track to at least 30 albums. It might be the most recorded bop tune of all time. Who did it best? Take your pick. Dizzy himself recorded many hot versions. All are good and some are great. Charlie Parker and Miles Davis can claim one of the earliest and ...


Horace Silver: Serenade to a Soul Sister - 1968

Read "Horace Silver: Serenade to a Soul Sister - 1968" reviewed by

Is it possible to love an album for just one song? I think I do. Serenade to a Soul Sister is the happy marriage of jazz's funkiest pianist (Horace Silver) with its most soulful saxman (Stanley Turrentine). Throw in a fabulously underrated trumpeter with a big fat tone (Charles Tolliver) and you've got one of the best soul-jazz classics of the 1960s. Serenade features six original compositions by Silver, and every one is a gem. One, ...


Booker Ervin: The In Between -- 1968

Read "Booker Ervin: The In Between -- 1968" reviewed by

There's a kind of music I like to think of as harder bop. It's a lot like conventional 1950s hard bop, but tougher, more muscular, more cerebral. Booker Ervin's The In Between is that kind of record. Ervin has an edgy style. It starts with a John Coltrane feel, then pushes a little further. Not into the crazy, atonal, unapproachable territory that Trane created in his later years, but into music that's more from the head than the ...


Johnny Griffin: The Congregation – 1957

Read "Johnny Griffin: The Congregation – 1957" reviewed by

Well, this is a disappointment. Johnny Griffin is widely regarded as one of the fastest sax players in jazz history. His reputation began with his very first album, Blue Note's Introducing Johnny Griffin in 1956. He solidified his rep the next year with a frantic three-sax attack on A Blowin' Session with John Coltrane and Hank Mobley. So maybe it's not a huge surprise that Griffin wanted to try something different a few months later, in ...

Support our sponsor

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT  

New Service For Musicians!

Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with Premium Musician Profile.