Our friends at Heavenly Sweetness have put out a lot of great wax throughout the years, but their recent dive into the famed Blue Note vaults has got us all hot and bothered! This series serves as a great introduction to Blue Note and also a must have for die hard fans. Check out the first six titles of what is sure to be a killer reissue campaign.
Herbie Hancock is certainly Takin’ Off at this point in his career – stepping into the limelight with an excellent batch of soul jazz tunes, including the first recording of his classic “Watermelon Man”, the one track that probably put all his kids through school! Although that one went on to become a standard within a few short years in 60s jazz, it still sounds great here in the original – a very fresh take on the sound of soul jazz in the 60s – offered up here in a 7 minute version that has more sharp soloing than most other takes on the tune! The group here is great too – with Dexter Gordon on tenor, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Butch Warren on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums – and the tracks are all also originals by a young Herbie – including “Watermelon Man”, “The Maze”, “Driftin”, “Three Bags Full”, “Alone & I”, and “Empty Pockets”
A brilliant album that proves that even at the height of his success, Lee Morgan was one of the freest thinkers on Blue Note! The first cut on the album is the title track – “Search For The New Land” – and it’s a beautiful 16 minute exploration of modal jazz themes, with an unusual stop/start device as a means of ushering solos by different bandmates, like Wayne Shorter, Grant Green, and Herbie Hancock. All of the rest of the tracks are originals, too, and although they have a bit more of a conventional structure, they’re still pretty darn freewheeling, and display Morgan’s mid-period writing at its finest. Titles include “The Joker”, “Melancholee”, and “Mr. Kenyatta”.
A classic set from Horace Silver – one in which his quintet is expanded by some great guest work from trombonist JJ Johnson! Johnson’s at the height of his 60s powers here – blowing with that lean, soulful style that always made any record sparkle – and although he’s only on half of the tracks on the date, his presence is more than worth the heavy billing he gets on the cover! Other great members of the group include Woody Shaw on trumpet, Joe Henderson on tenor, and rhythm from Bob Cranshaw on bass and Roger Humphries on drums – all coming together with that wonderful 60s Silver groove. The set’s filled with sweetly grooving originals by Horace – a blueprint for the exotic style of soul jazz he helped to forge at the time – great writing all around, on titles that include “Mo Joe”, “Nutville”, “Bonita”, “The African Queen”, and “Pretty Eyes”.
Killer work from Joe Henderson – back when he was blowing with a fire that kind of died out in later years, working with a fierce young group that featured Kenny Dorham, McCoy Tyner, Richard Davis, and Elvin Jones. Henderson’s tone is rough and young – but in a great way, one that’s perfect for the exploratory nature of his original tunes on the set, and which matches the mood of Dorham’s compositions as well. Tracks include “In N Out”, “Short Story”, “Brown’s Town”, and “Punjab”. And if the title’s not enough of a hint – let us just tell you that the record goes in and out!
A fantastic mid-60s album from Grant Green, but one that never got its due originally, because it was unreleased at the time – and didn’t come out until a Japanese issue during the 70s. The session’s a spare quartet one, with Green’s guitar playing modal grooves over rhythm by McCoy Tyner, Bob Cranshaw, and Elvin Jones. Cuts are long, and there’s a freewheeling quality to the material that’s only ever matched by some of the Grant Green/Larry Young sessions from the same time. Titles include “Matador”, “Bedouin”, “Wives & Lovers”, and a killer version of “My Favorite Things”, done in a very Coltrane-esque style.
A wonderful Elvin Jones session for Blue Note from 1970. On this one he deploys a double sax frontline of George Coleman and Frank Foster supported by Wilber Little on bass, Elvin on drums and the great Candido Camero on conga.Check out 5/4 Thing – as Leonard Feather puts it on the sleeve notes “A rhythmic circle of sound”.
Also, check out the “Teaser” below for taste of what’s to come.