The oft-repeated description of Larry Young — that he’s the John Coltrane of the organ — mostly coheres with the inventive, undeniably classic post-bop records he made with Blue Note in the 60s. The never-before released two-disc live and in-studio recordings packaged as In Paris were originally made for French radio (ORTF) in 1964 and ’65. Young fronts his own trio and plays in a session led by Coltrane-inspired tenor saxophonist Nathan Davis that includes trumpeter Woody Shaw, as well as a deft French-led band. These long form post bop tracks are delightfully swinging, bursting with in the pocket grooves and absorbing, sustained solos. Young was only 23 and 24 at the time, already a gifted and consummate musician with a lyrical, tuneful sound. Every cut rates as essential, but there’s special commendation for the blistering version of Wayne Shorter’s “Black Nile,” Young’s rhythmical “Talkin’ About J.C.” and Shaw’s 20 minute live improv extravaganza, “Zoltan,” a track that appeared on Young’s defining Unity album. Thanks to the excellent work by Resonance Records, the restored sonics are first-rate, as is the 68-page book of essays, interviews and photos, but just listening to this significant musical discovery of prime Larry Young is a gift of unyielding pleasure. (10 tracks total; 52 minutes, each disc)
If jazz bands were like classic muscle cars measured by power and torque, the high performance Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra was an inexhaustible engine that roared. February 2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of this historic 18-member band and All My Yesterdays is the double-disc recording that documents their debut performances in February and March 1966. Defined by super-sized swing, a bold brass section with the likes of Pepper Adams, Bob Brookmeyer and Joe Farrell, and a dream rhythm section (bassist Richard Davis, pianist Hank Jones and guitarist Sam Herman), the band’s precision, sophistication and style was trendsetting and their modern sound remains influential.
The camaraderie is tangible on this live recording by producer George Klabin when he was 19 years old, and now restored to perfection—the superb sound puts you right at a front table at the Vanguard and the feeling is electrifying. Thad Jones is the former Basie trumpeter who leads the band like a revival meeting, shouting the jazz gospel with enthusiastic approval, calling out the solos on fun, crowd-pleasing tracks “Big Dipper,” “Mornin’ Reverend” and “Back Bone.” Jones is one of the best trumpet players ever; his solo on “The Little Pixie” is loose, swinging and brings a requisite soulfulness that’s unshakeable. An essential recording. (6 tracks; 47 minutes / 11 tracks; 74 minutes)
A member of the esteemed Ron Carter Trio, Donald Vega is a contemporary pianist in the tradition of Oscar Peterson whose pleasurable, rhythmic style is perfectly matched to the melodic tunes of Monty Alexander. Continue reading
A WRTI RECOMMENDED CD. Pianist Red Garland was an integral member of the Miles Davis Quintet and a key collaborator with John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins, at a time when those leaders were swelling in popularity during the late 50s and early 60s. A player in the hard bop style, Garland also led his own bands mostly for the Prestige and Galaxy labels until he passed away in 1983, with many of his recordings still available. Read my entire review at www.wrti.org
Who did pianist Diana Krall call when she needed a pianist for Barbara Streisand’s pop-jazz album, “Love Is The Answer?” That would be the phenomenal Israeli pianist Tamir Handelman, a guy so gifted on the keys that he draws comparisons to Oscar Peterson. “Destinations” is his sophomore record – he’s played on countless albums as a sideman and currently holds the piano chair with Jeff Hamilton’s trio – and it’s a knockout as Hendelman swings through tunes by Jobim, Fletcher Henderson, Charlie Parker and even Maurice Ravel. Bassist Marco Panascia and veteran drummer Lewis Nash complete the pianist’s super tight trio, and they sound like old chums whether darting through the changes of Charlie Parker’s “Anthropology” or reaching for the sky on the heartfelt lyricism of Fred Hersch’s “Valentine.” (12 tracks; 70:51 minutes) www.tamirhendelman.com www.resonancerecordings.com