Trumpeter Blue Mitchell delivers a solid hard bop date with his 1966 Blue Note release Boss Horn. [The Rudy Van Gelder edition of Boss Horn features remastered sound by original producer Van Gelder that does significantly improve the overall sound quality over the original release.]
TAKIN' OFF (1962), Herbie Hancock's debut as a leader, holds up exceptionally well decades after its release, even in light of the vast, eclectic, and excellent solo catalogue that followed. Still in the thick of his groundbreaking work with Miles Davis, Hancock had already established himself as a pianist and composer of the first order, and those qualities shine on TAKIN' OFF. Flanked by superb personnel that includes trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, saxophonist Dexter Gordon, and drummer Billy Higgins, Hancock offers six excellent compositions (including the famous "Watermelon Man") that balance between adventurousness and the rigors of classic hard bop. The Rudy Van Gelder remaster, released in 2007, brings this classic back in glorious clarity.
Trumpeter Lee Morgan's second recording as a leader is as notable for the writing of Benny Golson (who composed and arranged four of the six selections) as for the solos of the leader. The set is highlighted by the debut version of "Whisper Not." Actually Morgan, tenor-saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Horace Silver, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Charlie Persip and the obscure altoist Kenny Rodgers all play quite well. Morgan was just 18 and starting to come out of the shadow of his early influence Clifford Brown. An above-average hard bop set. The Rudy Van Gelder remastering on the CD reissue makes it especially sweet.
Bag's Groove was recorded in 1954 for Prestige Records but was not released until 1957. Most of the album was recorded on June 29, 1954, but the title track was recorded at one session on December 24 of the same year. Several of the tracks on the album were written by Sonny Rollins and would go on to become jazz standards in their own right. Recorded June 29 & December 24, 1954 in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ.
John Coltrane (1926-67) was the most relentlessly exploratory musician in jazz history. He was always searching, seeking to take his music further in what he quite consciously viewed as a spiritual quest. In terms of public recognition, this quest began relatively late. The tenor saxophonist, a native of North Carolina who later moved to Philadelphia, was 28 when he joined the Miles Davis quintet in 1955, after years of paying dues in the big band and combo of Dizzy Gillespie (where he played alto before switching to tenor) and as a supporting player behind saxophonists Johnny Hodges, Eddie "Cleanhead” Vinson, and Earl Bostic. Coltrane’s anguished tone and multi-noted, rhythmically complex solos with Davis quickly elevated him to the front ranks of jazz…
Recorded in one day (August 23, 1957) at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Hackensack, NJ. This date of ballads and burners features the young tenor saxophonist John Coltrane leading a quartet comprised of pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Arthur Taylor. Liner notewriter (original and reissue) Ira Gitler remarks, “In the ‘50s I was called upon to name many of the untitled songs at Prestige. Traneing In came to me because of the way [Coltrane] homed in after Garland’s opening solo [on the song].” This album is significant in that it took place halfway through Coltrane’s break with Miles Davis’ classic quintet of the ‘50s and it was the same year that the tenor saxophonist hooked up with Thelonious Monk to record the recently discovered live Carnegie Hall masterpiece.
Soultrane is one of the essential albums in John Coltrane’s career. Recorded during the first year of his Prestige contract, between his critical service in Thelonious Monk’s quartet and his return to the band of Miles Davis, it finds the tenor saxophonist displaying a new level of both technical and conceptual refinement, dispensing torrents of notes that annotator Ira Gitler famously dubbed "sheets of sound." The Red Garland Trio, a key component on many Coltrane recordings of the period, is at its eloquent best; and the program, with two compositions from the early days of modern jazz, two lesser-known standards, and a recently penned requiem for the late Ernie Henry…
Here is one of the musical giants of the 20th century, poised on the precipice of greatness. Between the spring of 1957 and the winter of 1958, during which time Lush Life was recorded, the music of tenor saxophonist John Coltrane (1926-1967) was developing in giant steps, thanks in great part to a six-month 1957 stint with Thelonious Monk that had much to do with sharpening Coltrane’s harmonic conception and torrential attack. Lush Life contains Coltrane’s first recordings as sole leader, his initial date fronting a pianoless trio, and one of his first extended readings of a ballad, Billy Strayhorn’s resplendent title track. We also hear him at the helm of a quartet and quintet, featuring pianist Red Garland, with trumpeter Donald Byrd added to “Lush Life.”
Any 1950s Miles Davis recording could easily be called a “collector’s item,” but these selections have special claims to this description. The first four offer Charlie Parker in his only recordings in support of Miles, who had begun his disc career as Bird’s sideman. The last four feature a unique Davis/Mingus encounter. In between is Miles just before launching his first great Quintet, heading two groups loaded with top talent of the “post-bop” period. Recorded on January 30, 1953 (1-4) WOR Studios, New York City and March 16, 1956 (5-7) at Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, NJ.