It is heartening to see an artist as obscure as tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks given the Rudy Van Gelder Edition treatment by Blue Note in this winning reissue. I have to admit surprise that Blue Note didn't marginalize Brooks, like Sam Rivers, in the label's limited-edition Connoisseur series. Frankly, Rivers is the more sophisticated artist with a potentially broader audience in my judgement, but Brooks has his lasting value also.
There is a terrifically pensive blues cry in every Brooks solo on this release that is mesmerizing. While he's often shadowed by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, the two gracefully bring out some profoundly thoughtful improvising from each other. None of the five tunes (and two alternative takes) are exactly inspiring tunes. But Brooks packs a lot of raw emotionality and innovative musical craft into his solos. Although the liner notes makes much of the Sonny Rollins influence, I actually hear a lot more of a tone I'd connect to Booker Erwin, Ornette Coleman, or Brooks' companion in the Blue Note recording studio, Jackie McLean. Anyone who enjoyed the dramatic support Brooks gave McLean on Jackie's Bag should treasure this, the only album Brooks released under his name as leader during his lifetime. Brooks sounds like a desperately driven musician wanting something beyond the bop of 1960 and never quite making the breakthrough to freedom that McLean found through his association with Ornette Coleman. The rhythm section of drummer Art Taylor, bassist Sam Jones, and pianist Duke Jordan simply never push him that hard to explore new musical territory. I wonder who Brooks would have become had he worked with a drummer like Eddie Blackwell or Elvin Jones.
What True Blue gives generously is a full blooded musical portrait of a hard-working and distinctive sounding tenor man with a blue cry stuck in his throat and heart. It is an achievement to treasure.
Track Listing: Good Old Soul, Up Tight's Creek, Theme for Doris, True Blue, Miss Hazel, Nothing Ever Changes My Love For You
Personnel: Tina Brooks: tenor saxophone, Freddie Huvbbard: trumpet, Duke Jordan: piano, Sam Jones: bass, Art
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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