One of Bobby Hutcherson’s greatest records ever – and a session that never got released at the time! The album’s an excellent quartet session, one that’s very much in the best spirit of Bobby’s great Happenings album on Blue Note – and it features a similar group that includes Hutcherson on vibes, Herbie Hancock on piano, Albert Stinson on bass, and Joe Chambers, one of Hutcherson’s best accompanists from the 60s, on drums. The format’s a bit more modal than Happenings – and the set features 6 wonderful little tracks that mix together the “new thing” sound of earlier Hutcherson Blue Notes, with some of the nascent soulfulness that started creeping into his work at the end of the 60s. The album was recorded in 1967, but only first issued in Japan in at the end of the 70s – and then later in the US, and even then only briefly – but we’d still rank the set as one of Bobby’s best for Blue Note! Titles include “Til Then”, “Mr Joy”, “Subtle Neptune”, and “Theme From Blow Up”.
New thing meets funk on this rare session from 1967 with Grachan Moncur III.The title track ‘Hipnosis” is a snake charmer kind of vamp that is an excellent showcase for both the rhythm section and the soloists. Of particular note is the way drummer Higgins and pianist Lamont Johnson interweave the basket out of which emerge the serpentine horn lines of Jackie and Grachan. Some might call this a super sophisticated “Sidewinder”. One of McLean’s most accomplished works of the 60’s.
A wonderful session by Andrew Hill – recorded in 1968, but issued only briefly in 1981 – and out of print for years! The session is a key one in understanding Hill’s work – as it’s a bridge between the arch modernism of his early Blue Note sides, and the more soul-oriented playing of the Grass Roots album. The group features Joe Farrell and Charles Tolliver on horns – both of whom open up the sound at the same time they’re giving it a nice bottom – and the rest of the combo includes Victor Sproles on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. The album’s an enchanting one – lighter than earlier years, but still with a compelling vision that’s all Hill’s own. Titles include “Dance With Death”, “Love Nocturne”, “Black Sabbath”, “Partitions”, and “Fish N Rice”.
One of the greatest modern moments on Blue Note – ever! From the cover, to the compositions, to the playing on the set – the whole album crackles with an unbelievable fire that was hardly ever matched again. A young Sam Rivers leads a quartet that includes Jaki Byard on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Anthony Williams on drums – coming together in a sound that’s got lots of sharp edges, yet which also beats with an undeniably swinging heart. Rivers blows incredibly on the session – held in check by the rhythm section, and never getting too free (or sloppy, as on some later sides) – and instead hitting these hard tones that really push the envelope of 60s jazz without rewriting the rules entirely. Brilliant all the way through, with tracks that include “Beatrice”, “Ellipsis”, “Cyclic Episode”, and “Downstairs Blues Upstairs”.
Insanely Blue Note debut album from Andrew Hill – edgey brilliance at its best, a lean, stripped-down session that has Hill playing with Joe Henderson, Richard Davis, and Roy Haynes – in a mode that’s somewhere between his own Smokestack album, and the stark modernism of Jackie McLean’s mid 60s “new thing” work. The whole set’s pretty darn great – one of the more mindblowing Blue Notes you’ll ever hope to buy – and tracks include “Pumpkin”, “Subterfuge”, “Cantarnos”, and “McNeil Island”.
A Donald Byrd treasure – and an album that was almost left in the vaults by Blue Note, until they briefly released it at the end of the 70s! The cover and title are a bit unfamiliar, but the music is right up there with Byrd’s classic sessions with baritonist Pepper Adams – a great player here, with a deftness on his horn that’s incredible – matching all the sharp changes and soulful undercurrents of Byrd’s sparkling trumpet! There’s a nice hard sound to the whole thing – almost the raw power of the pair’s albums for the Warwick label – and as with those, Herbie Hancock is on piano – giving the whole thing an excellent soul jazz groove that really kicks the main soloists into action! Titles include “Great God”, “I’m An Old Cowhand”, “That’s All”, “You’re Next”, and “Chant”
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