May 1997


All of Hal's monthly reviews will be made available here in Hal's "Picks From the Past".

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There is an abundance of reissued material coming onto the market right now from some of the majors as well as the small independent labels. Labels like Verve, Sony/Columbia, EMI/Blue Note and Impulse appear to be the leaders and it is welcome news when one reads the lists on the release sheets from these labels. Many of the major names in jazz are reaching a new audience due to the compact disc and those of us who are collectors are getting additional material from the original recording sessions that had for some years lain in the vaults unheard.

Now we are getting not only the reissues in good quality but recently some labels have been putting out a second series of reissues in 20 bit sound thus ensuring that the buyer gets the best available from these valuable recordings.

The Impulse label is one of those companies who have begun to reissue some remarkable music from the past in this format, amongst which we have chosen the following "Picks" as being prime examples of what the collector should have in his/her collection.

Sonny Rollins has two such exceptional recordings available:

Sonny Rollins "On Impulse"

Features the tenor titan in the company of Ray Bryant - piano, Walter Booker - bass and Mickey Roker - drums performing 5 lengthy tracks "On Green Dolphin Street", "Everything Happens to Me", "Hold 'em Joe", "Blue Room" and "Three little Words".There were three additional tunes recorded at this 1965 session but the masters did not survive. However the tracks here represent the best of Rollins from that time period and are amongst the best of Rollins available.

Impulse IMPD-223 to order

Sonny Rollins "Alfie"

The Movie that featured Michael Caine as a playboy sort of guy who has no respect for the conventional married life was Rollins' first score for a motion picture, and it comes off as a rather intriguing jazz entry into the movie world.Rollins chose a fine band to work with on this project including fellow saxophonists Oliver Nelson and Bob Ashton, Jimmy Cleveland, J.J. Johnson - trombones, Phil Woods - alto, Danny Bank - baritone, Kenny Burrell - guitar, Roger Kellaway - piano, Walter Booker - bass and Frankie Dunlop - drums. Recorded at the Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in January of 1966 with Oliver Nelson doing the arrangements of Rollins original charts this is a score that exudes warmth, plenty of improvisation and in the true jazz sense, it swings.

Impulse IMPD-224 to order

John Coltrane - "The John Coltrane Quartet Plays"/"Coltrane"

There are three John Coltrane reissues included in this series and they are Coltrane/Live at the Village Vanguard again!, The John Coltrane Quartet plays, and Coltrane. On the Vanguard session John works with Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, Rashid Ali and Emanuel Rahim. Coltrane is at a level of evolution where he continues to explore himself and new plateaus, and he is indeed in the right company to experiment with these ideas.His music is powerful and he places many demands upon himself. Only three tunes make up this CD "Naima", "Introduction to My Favourite Things" and "My Favourite Things. There was more material recorded on this night (May 28th, 1966) but no tapes or reference has been found. On the "Plays" CD Coltrane dates back to the quartet days of 1965 with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. Art Davis replaces Garrison on three of the seven tracks.The tunes are primarily standards proving that he could play both sides of the fence when he wanted to, and in this vein he was able to reach another audience mostly made up of doubters who shuddered at the very mention of Coltrane's name, associating it with extreme avante garde. Playing both tenor and soprano saxophones on this date he breathes new life into "Chim Chim Cheree", "Nature Boy", "Feelin' Good" plus a couple of his own originals that fit into this setting with ease "Brazilia" and "Song of Praise". The "Coltrane" CD goes back to 1962 and represents the first studio recording of the classic quartet with Jimmy Garrison as the permanent bassist. As Bob Thiele's liner notes proclaim "True jazz lovers will understand the music without detailed explanation". So be it, listen attentively and enjoy "Out of this World", "Soul Eyes", "The Inch Worm", "Tunji","Miles'Mode", "Big Nick" and "Up 'gainst the Wall". All in all, three superb Coltrane memories.

"Live at Village Vanguard" Impulse IMPD-213 to order
"Coltrane Plays" Impulse IMPD-214 to order
"Coltrane" Impulse IMPD-215 to order

McCoy Tyner Trio - "Inception" & "Nights of Ballads & Blues"

Two sessions by the McCoy Tyner Trio from 1962 and 1963. The first entitled "Inception"with Art Davis - bass and Elvin Jones - drums has six tracks of beautiful music performed with crisp inventiveness by Tyner. The trio compliment each other throughout showing enormous skill and emotion. Four originals by Tyner and two standards make this a worth while addition to anyone's 60's period collection.

"Nights of Ballads & Blues" As the title indicates this session with Steve Davis - bass and Lex Humphries - drums is exactly that, with eight tunes devoted to the two genres.This is the third recording under Tyner's own name and he proves his training with John Coltrane and Benny Golson places him at this stage of his career, a strong individual voice."Satin Doll", "We'll be together again", "'Round Midnight", "For Heaven's Sake", "Star Eyes", "Blue Monk", "Groove Waltz" and "Days of Wine and Roses"are the tunes.

"Inception" - Impulse IMPD-220 to order
"Nights of Ballads & Blues" - Impulse IMPD-221 to order

Charles Mingus - "Mingus plays Piano"

The virtuoso bassist switches to the piano for this 1963 recording and makes one wonder why no other recordings were ever done in this format. His background would indicate that he had a great fondness for the instrument even though his primary instruments were the trombone and cello. We the listener are practically brought into the "off stage" Mingus where he sits and just enjoys exploring the keyboard as if for his own satisfaction. Some of his own compositions are given a much different reading here as are the four standards.

Impulse IMPD-217 to order

Kai Winding & J.J. Johnson - "The Great Kai & J.J."

In 1954 these two trombonists formed a partnership. In addition to being the best modern jazz trombone stylists around at that time, they were both fortunate enough to have had considerable big and small band experience. They used this experience to a great extent both on record and club/concert dates and became extremely popular with jazz fans. This reissue is a prime example of their great talents as players and arrangers, and the eleven tracks on this CD have stood the test of time well, it was recorded in 1960. The stellar rhythm section is made up of Bill Evans - piano, and Paul Chambers sharing the bass chores with Tommy Williams, and Roy Haynes taking turns with Arthur Taylor on drums. Exceptional!

Impulse IMPD-225 to order

Oliver Nelson - "More Blues and the Abstract Truth"

A follow up to the wonderful "Blues and the Abstract Truth" this features additional outstanding composing and arranging by Oliver Nelson who went on to become a very busy writer for the Hollywood Studios (both film and television). Here he works with Thad Jones, Danny Moore, Phil Woods, Phil Bodner, Ben Webster, Pepper Adams, Roger Kellaway, Richard Davis and Grady Tate on ten outstanding tracks. The composers are Dave Brubeck, Count Basie, Johnny Hodges, Arnold Shaw and Oliver Nelson.The liner notes call it a set of "Blues for the Thinking Men" that gives a group of outstanding instrumentalists a chance to project fresh conceptions on new and old melodic lines".

Impulse IMPD-212 to order

Impulse Sampler Series

Two samplers from this reissue series are also available, the first one "Standards on Impulse" feature Art Blakey, Duke Ellington/John Coltrane, Benny Carter, Gil Evans, Johnny Hartman, Count Basie, Charles Mingus, Roy Haynes, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Ben Webster, Shelly Manne, Clark Terry, Duke Ellington/Coleman Hawkins and Archie Shepp. Sixteen tracks in all.

The second is called "The Roots of Acid Jazz" and has fourteen tracks by Dizzy Gillespie, Chico Hamilton, Quincy Jones, Oliver Nelson, Hank Jones, Stanley Turrentine, Gato Barbieri, Keith Jarrett, Pharoah Sanders, Coleman Hawkins and Yusef Lateef. Both of these CD's provide an insight into the Impulse label from the 1960's and the tracks chosen are outstanding examples of the magnificent talent of these jazz artists.

"Standards" - Impulse IMPD-231 to order
"Roots of Acid Jazz" - Impulse IMPD-230 to order

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