Prestige RVG Remasters, Part 2 of 2

C. Andrew Hovan By

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It's no surprise that following the success of his retooling of the classic Blue Note catalog that Rudy Van Gelder would eventually be asked by other labels to bring his touch to classics from vaults. Earlier this spring, the Concord Music Group decided to have Van Gelder take a new look at items from the Prestige catalog. Like many of the iconic Blue Notes, Van Gelder had originally recorded the majority of these records and it's worth the effort to give a listen to how he thinks these dates should sound with the benefit of modern technology.

Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins
Thelonious Monk/Sonny Rollins
Prestige/Concord Music Group

Kicking off this look at the third installment of RVG Remasters is the iconic Thelonious Monk/Sonny Rollins which gathers four selections cut by Van Gelder in Hackensack from the fall of 1954 and one recorded the previous year at WOR Studios. Monk's trio with Percy Heath and Art Blakey introduces us to the trinkets "Work and "Nutty, while Rollins peaks our interest with his advanced improvisations on "The Way You Look Tonight and "Friday the 13th. No doubt that this set belongs in any comprehensive collection, although not much distinguishes the mastering job on this one from any of the other previous incarnations.

Mose Allison
Mose Allison Sings
Prestige/Concord Music Group

Although largely remembered for his later recordings for Atlantic Records, Mose Allison's career got its first jump start while he was under contract with Prestige. Between 1957 and 1959 he would cut several records where his bop-inflected piano playing would be at the forefront. As part of each of those sessions, Allison would also record a number or two featuring his unique vocal stylings. It would be these vocals that would attract a good deal of attention and so Prestige would eventually compile all of these later on Mose Allison Sings. Reissued for the first time with the original cover, this is a welcome release made even better by Van Gelder's new handiwork. From "Parchman Farm to "The Seventh Son, thirteen sides of Mose at his most sublime are heard here, plus three bonus tracks added for good measure.

Yusef Lateef
Eastern Sounds
Prestige/Concord Music Group

In between his spate of recording in the late '50s for Savoy and his strong showing on Impulse in the mid '60s, Yusef Lateef would record a number of albums for Riverside and Prestige that were considered quite radical at the time. With hindsight, these releases can clearly be seen as the beginning of a thread that would run through Lateef's best work, combining mysticism and the influences of Middle Eastern music. Eastern Sounds found Lateef with a Detroit rhythm section including Barry Harris, Ernie Farrow, and Lex Humphries. Lateef can be heard on tenor and oboe and Farrow picks up the rabat, a unique drone-like instrument that mates well with the Chinese globular flute. Numbers like "The Plum Blossom and "The Three Faces of Balal still sound ahead of their time today and the whole program speaks with a freshness that has not lessened over time.

Oliver Nelson
Screamin' the Blues
Prestige/Concord Music Group

Known far more for his immense talents in the arena of composing and arranging, Oliver Nelson was also a saxophonist of distinguished abilities even as he was largely overshadowed by such contemporaries as Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Several of his Prestige sessions from the early '60s prominently featured his work on alto and tenor saxophones. Screamin' the Blues is an acknowledged gem in that it pairs Nelson with Eric Dolphy and the vastly underrated trumpeter Richard Williams. Save for producer Esmond Edwards' "March On, March On, all the tracks are penned by Nelson and each one seeks new paths to established routes, the contrasts between the styles of Nelson and Dolphy being of particular significance. Roy Haynes adds the appropriate snap crackle and Van Gelder's stereo mix is dead on accurate.

Richard "Groove" Holmes
Soul Message
Prestige/Concord Music Group

First making a splash on the West Coast, organist Richard "Groove Holmes would make his way to New York in 1965, quickly hooking up an association with Prestige. His first effort for the label, Soul Message, hit it big with a gutsy romp through the usually maudlin standard "Misty. For the first time on record, we really get to hear Groove's signature way with a bass line thanks largely to the efforts of Van Gelder. "Groove's Groove pretty much sums up the approach with some dazzling improvisations and even the ballad tempo of "The Things We Did Last Summer finds Holmes doubling up the tempo in order to squeeze in some signature lines. Even better music was soon to come from Holmes, but this is the one that started it all.

Tracks and Personnel

Thelonious Monk/Sonny Rollins

Tracks: The Way You Look Tonight; I Want To Be Happy; Work; Nutty; Friday The 13th.

Personnel: Sonny Rollins: tenor saxophone; Thelonious Monk: piano; Percy Heath: bass; Art Blakey, Art Taylor, Willie Jones: drums.

Mose Allison Sings

Tracks: The Seventh Son; Eyesight To The Blind; Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me; Lost Mind; I've Got A Right To Cry; Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand; Parchman Farm; If You Live; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; One Room Country Shack; I Hadn't Anyone Till You; Young Man's Blues; That's Alright; Blueberry Hill; Trouble In Mind; Creek Bank.

Personnel: Mose Allison: piano, trumpet, vocals; Addison Farmer, Taylor LaFargue: bass; Ronnie Free, Frank Isola, Nick Stabulas: drums.

Eastern Sounds

Tracks: Plum Blossom; Blues For The Orient; Ching Miau; Don't Blame Me; Love Theme From Spartacus; Snafu; Purple Flower; Love Theme From The Robe; The Three Faces Of Balal.

Personnel: Yusef Lateef: flute, oboe, saxophone; Barry Harris: piano; Ernie Farrow: bass; Lex Humphries: drums.

Screamin' the Blues

Tracks: Screamin' The Blues; March On, March On; The Drive; The Meetin'; Three Seconds; Alto-itis.

Personnel: Oliver Nelson: alto and tenor saxophone; Eric Dolphy: flute, clarinet, alto saxophone; Richard Wyands: piano; Richard Williams: trumpet; George Duvivier: bass; Roy Haynes: drums.

Soul Message

Tracks: Groove's Groove; Daahoud; Misty; Song For My Father; The Things We Did Last Summer; Soul Message.

Personnel: Richard "Groove" Holmes: Organ; Gene Edwards: guitar; Jimmie Smith: drums.


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