Jazz CDs - January 2002

THE COMPLETE MAX ROACH PLUS FOUR SESSIONS

Hard bop fans, rejoice. Mosaic has once again turned its attention to the Fifties and early Sixties, and as usual, they've rescued some wonderful music with boxed sets of Max Roach Plus Four on Mercury, Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter on Vee-Jay, and Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers, also on Vee-Jay.

First up is seven discs of Max Roach music originally recorded for EmArCy and Mercury and scattered across ten different Lps. This is the period in Roach's career following the tragic deaths of Clifford Brown and Richie Powell in 1956. In chronological order of recording, dating from September 1956 to March 1960, the albums are Max Roach + 4, Jazz In _ Time, Plays Charlie Parker, On The Chicago Scene (in mono and stereo versions), At Newport, The Many Sides Of Max, Rich Versus Roach, Quiet As It's Kept, Moon-Faced And Starry-Eyed, and Parisian Sketches. This reissue was produced for Mosaic by Ben Young of Universal Music, the current owner of the Mercury catalog. He's reorganized the music session by session, incorporating tracks originally issued only in Japan and adding previously unissued alternates from the October 1959 Moon-Faced And Starry-Eyed sessions with Abbey Lincoln and Ray Bryant.

There's great work to be found here from modernists like Kenny Dorham, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, George Coleman, the Turrentine brothers, and Julian Priester, not to mention the percussion master himself. To me, though, the real hero of the whole box is the phenomenal work by trumpeter Booker Little. His brilliance remains breathtaking on the three sessions he made with Roach in 1958 and 1959. From his first electrifying solo on the mono take of Coleman's "Shirley," the 20-year old, in his first appearance on record, grabs you and doesn't let you go. The realization that the mono and stereo takes are different enhances Little's sadly slim legacy.

Over the course of a few years, the music that Roach and his bands would record for Mercury grew more commercial, leading to oddities like the collaboration with the Buddy Rich Five, a stereo drumming date arranged and conducted by Gigi Gryce, and the all-ballad Moon-Faced And Starry-Eyed date, without even a single drum solo. The chronological sequence of the CD is violated in order to present the two quintet dates with trombonist Priester, bassist Bob Boswell and the Turrentines on one disc. The first, Quiet As It's Kept, was done in New York, a fairly mellow and undeservedly obscure date. The final act of Roach's tenure with the company was played out in Paris while on tour in a set that looks to the future as an album with thematic unity, an approach that he would continue to develop and refine.

The set as a whole does an admirable job of delineating the shifts and changes in Roach's groups and music. Ben Young contributes a lengthy essay that provides the context for the recordings, and the booklet is rounded out by some period photographs and a selection of quotations by many of the musicians interviewed for the project. Some absolutely top-notch sounds, and another exemplary Mosaic production, limited to 5,000 sets.

MAX ROACH on MOSAIC MD7-201 =

Disc 1 (70:01): (A) Kenny Dorham (t) Sonny Rollins (ts) Ray Bryant (p) George Morrow (b) Max Roach (d); NYC, September 17, 1956; MR. X/ BODY AND SOUL/ JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS. (B) Same personnel as (A); NYC, September 19, 1956; EZZ-THETIC/ THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD/ WOODY 'N' YOU/ DR. FREE-ZEE. (C) Dorham (t) Rollins (ts) Billy Wallace (p) Morrow (b) Roach (d); Los Angeles, CA, March 18, 1957; I'LL TAKE ROMANCE/ IT DON'T MEAN A THING (IF IT AIN'T GOT THAT SWING)/ BLUES WALTZ/ LOVE LETTERS.

Disc 2 (68:29): (D) Same personnel as (C); Los Angeles, CA, March 20, 1957; LITTLE FOLKS/ MINOR TROUBLE/ VALSE HOT. (E) Same personnel as (C); Los Angeles, CA, March 21, 1957; LOVER. (F) Dorham (t) Hank Mobley (ts) Morrow (b) Roach (d); NYC, December 20, 1957; RAOUL/ THIS TIME THE DREAM'S ON ME/ TUNE UP. (G) Same personnel as (F); NYC, December 23, 1957; CONFIRMATION/ AU PRIVAVE (as APRES VOUS)/ ANTHROPOLOGY/ YARDBIRD SUITE.

Disc 3 (71:48): (H) Dorham (t) George Coleman (ts) Nelson Boyd (b) Roach (d); NYC, April 11, 1958; BILLIE'S BOUNCE/ KO-KO/ PARKER'S MOOD. (I) Booker Little (t) Coleman (ts) Eddie Baker (p) Bob Cranshaw (b) Roach (d); Chicago, IL, June 3, 1958; SHIRLEY (stereo)/ MY OLD FLAME (stereo)/ SPORTY/ STELLA BY STARLIGHT/ STOMPIN' AT THE SAVOY/ MEMO: TO MAURICE (stereo)/ SHIRLEY (mono)/ MY OLD FLAME (mono)/ MEMO: TO MAURICE (mono)/ STOMPIN' AT THE SAVOY (mono outchorus).

Disc 4 (74:27): (J) Little (t), Ray Draper (tba) Coleman (ts) Art Davis (b) Roach (d); Newport, RI, July 6, 1958; SPOKEN INTRODUCTION BY MAX ROACH/ LA VILLA/ A NIGHT IN TUNISIA/ DEEDS, NOT WORDS/ MINOR MODE/ TUNE UP/ LOVE FOR SALE (recorded in unknown studio, summer 1958).(K) Little (t) Julian Priester (tbn) Coleman (ts) Davis (b) Roach (d); NYC, January 22, 1959; LEPA/ CONNIE'S BOUNCE/ PRELUDE/ BEMSHA SWING/ TYMPANALI/ THERE'S NO YOU/ A LITTLE SWEET.

Disc 5 (72:27): (L): Roach Quintet [Tommy Turrentine (t) Priester (tbn) Stanley Turrentine (ts) Bob Boswell (b) Roach (d)] and the Buddy Rich Quintet [Willie Dennis (tbn) Phil Woods (as) John Bunch (p) Phil Leshin (b) Rich (d)], arranged and conducted by Gigi Gryce; NYC, April 7-8, 1959; SING, SING, SING (WITH A SWING)/ THE CASBAH/ SLEEP/ FIGURE EIGHTS/ YESTERDAYS/ BIG FOOT/ LIMEHOUSE BLUES/ TOOT, TOOT, TOOTSIE, GOODBYE.

(N) T. Turrentine (t) Priester (tbn) S. Turrentine (ts) Bryant (p) Boswell (b) Roach (d) Abbey Lincoln (v on *); Chicago, IL, October 9-10, 1959: YOU'RE MINE, YOU/ COME RAIN OR COME SHINE/ WILD IS THE WIND/ SPEAK LOW/ I CONCENTRATE ON YOU*/ MOON-FACED AND STARRY-EYED/ NEVER LET ME GO/ NAMELY YOU/ NEVER LEAVE ME*/ YOU'RE MY THRILL.

Disc 6 (64:52): (L) Alternate takes. LIMEHOUSE BLUES/ THE CASBAH/ BIG FOOT/ BIG FOOT/ SING, SING, SING (WITH A SWING). (N) Alternate takes. SPEAK LOW/ SPEAK LOW/ NEVER LET ME GO/ NEVER LET ME GO/ COME RAIN OR COME SHINE/ COME RAIN OR COME SHINE/ WILD IS THE WIND/ YOU'RE MINE, YOU/ YOU'RE MINE, YOU/ YOU'RE MINE, YOU/ I CONCENTRATE ON YOU*/ NEVER LEAVE ME*.

Disc 7 (69:41): (M) T. Turrentine (t) Priester (tbn) S. Turrentine (ts) Boswell (b) Roach (d); NYC, July 21, 1959; QUIET AS IT'S KEPT/ TO LADY/ LOTUS BLOSSOM/ AS LONG AS YOU'RE LIVING/ THE MORE I SEE YOU/ JULIANO. (O) T. Turrentine (t) Priester (tbn) S. Turrentine (ts) Boswell (b) Roach (d); Paris, France, March 1 or March 2#, 1960; PETIT DEJEUNER/ UN NOUVEAU COMPLET/ PARISIAN SKETCHES (THE TOWER/ THE CHAMPS/ THE CAVES/ THE LEFT BANK/ THE ARCH)/ NICA#/ LIBERTE#.


Blue Note's RVG remastering series, with Rudy Van Gelder supervising 24-bit digital transfers of gems from the label's vast catalog, has turned its attention to the earliest classics of modern jazz. The results are often spectacular. Each album includes original artwork plus new liner notes by Bob Blumenthal. For this series, the label has re-sequenced the tracks session by session, with all the original master takes followed by any alternates. So Thelonious Monk, Genius Of Modern Music, Volume 1, has the 1947 dates (sextet, trio, and quintet) while Genius Of Modern Music, Volume 2 offers the complete 1951 quintet with Milt Jackson and 1952 sextet with Kenny Dorham, Lou Donaldson, and Lucky Thompson in the front line. This last session was transferred from the original tapes, while the earlier dates are taken from the original lacquers. Fabulous music in amazing sound. (Volume 1: Blue Note 32138; Idrees Sulieman (t) Danny Quebec West (as) Billy Smith (ts) Thelonious Monk (p) Gene Ramey (b) Art Blakey (d); NYC, October 15, 1947;

HUMPH/ EVONCE/ SUBURBAN EYES/ THELONIOUS/ EVONCE (alt.)/ SUBURBAN EYES (alt.); Monk (p) Ramey (b) Blakey (d); NYC, October 24, 1947; NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT/ RUBY MY DEAR/ WELL YOU NEEDN'T/ APRIL IN PARIS/ OFF MINOR/ INTROSPECTION/ NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT (alt.)/ RUBY MY DEAR (alt.)/ WELL YOU NEEDN'T (alt.)/ APRIL IN PARIS (alt.); George Taitt (t) Sahib Shihab (as) Monk (p) Bob Paige (b) Blakey (d); NYC, November 21, 1947; IN WALKED BUD/ MONK'S MOOD/ WHO KNOWS?/ 'ROUND MIDNIGHT/ WHO KNOWS? (alt.); 63:24; Volume 2: Blue Note 32139; Sahib Shihab (as) Milt Jackson (vbs) Thelonious Monk (p) Al McKibbon (b) Art Blakey (d); NYC, July 23, 1951; FOUR IN ONE/ CRISS CROSS/ ERONEL/ STRAIGHT NO CHASER/ ASK ME NOW/ WILLOW WEEP FOR ME/ NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT/ CRISS CROSS (alt.)/ ASK ME NOW (alt.); Kenny Dorham (t) Lou Donaldson (as) Lucky Thompson (ts) Monk (p) Nelson Boyd (b) Max Roach (d); NYC, May 30, 1952; SKIPPY/ HORNIN' IN/ SIXTEEN (second take)/ CAROLINA MOON/ LET'S COOL ONE/ I'LL FOLLOW YOU/ SKIPPY (alt.)/ HORNIN' IN (alt.)/ SIXTEEN (first take); 60:36)

 

Trombone innovator J.J. Johnson also had three Fifties dates on Blue Note, originally on 10" LP and collected in The Eminent J.J. Johnson, Volume One and Volume Two. The fabulous session of June 22, 1953, on Volume 1 not only showcases Johnson's prodigious technique but was also only the third recording opportunity for the then up-and-coming trumpeter Clifford Brown who makes himself immediately unforgettable with his brilliant solo style. Volume 2 combines a 1954 date with Wynton Kelly, Charles Mingus, Kenny Clarke, and Sabu Martinez on congas, and a 1955 quintet with Hank Mobley, Horace Silver, Paul Chambers, and Clarke. In the words of the song, "too marvelous for words." (Volume 1: Blue Note 32143; Clifford Brown (t) J.J. Johnson (tbn) Jimmy Heath (ts, bari s) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d); NYC, June 22, 1953; CAPRI/ LOVER MAN/ TURNPIKE/ SKETCH 1/ IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU/ GET HAPPY/ CAPRI (alt.)/ TURNPIKE (alt.)/ GET HAPPY (alt.); 38:13; Volume 2: Blue Note 32144; J.J. Johnson (tbn) Wynton Kelly (p) Charles Mingus (b) Kenny Clarke (d) Sabu Martinez (cga); Hackensack, NJ, September 24, 1954; TOO MARVELOUS FOR WORDS/ JAY/ OLD DEVIL MOON/ IT'S YOU OR NO ONE/ TIME AFTER TIME/ COFFEE POT; J.J. Johnson (tbn) Hank Mobley (ts) Horace Silver (p) Paul Chambers (b) Kenny Clarke (d); Hackensack, NJ, June 6, 1955; PENNIES FROM HEAVEN/ VISCOSITY/ YOU'RE MINE YOU/ "DAYLIE" DOUBLE/ GROOVIN'/ PORTRAIT OF JENNIE/ PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (alt.)/ VISCOSITY (alt.)/ "DAYLIE" DOUBLE (alt.); 60:49)

The Clifford Brown Memorial Album has the trumpet star's June 1953 co-led quintet with Lou Donaldson that yielded "Carvin' The Rock" and the priceless "Brownie Speaks" along with the August session with a sextet that was his first date as leader and introduced "Brownie Eyes" and "Hymn Of The Orient." Timeless small-group sounds, and another cornerstone of modern jazz. Half a dozen previously issued alternates only enhance this release. (Blue Note 32141; Clifford Brown (t) Lou Donaldson (as) Elmo Hope (p) Percy Heath (b) Philly Joe Jones (d); NYC, June 9, 1953; BELLAROSA/ CARVIN' THE ROCK/ COOKIN'/ BROWNIE SPEAKS/ DE-DAH/ YOU GO TO MY HEAD/ CARVIN' THE ROCK (alt. #1)/ COOKIN' (alt.)/ CARVIN' THE ROCK (alt. #2); Brown (t) Gigi Gryce (as) Charlie Rouse (ts) John Lewis (p) Heath (b) Art Blakey (d); NYC, August 28, 1953; WAIL BAIT/ HYMN OF THE ORIENT/ BROWNIE EYES/ CHEROKEE/ EASY LIVING/ MINOR MOOD/ WAIL BAIT (alt.)/ CHEROKEE (alt.)/ HYMN OF THE ORIENT (alt.); 71:11)

The year 1954 found Clifford Brown in Southern California, recording four tunes for GNP in April and the stellar set issued by Pacific Jazz as Jazz Immortal in July and August. Recording with some of the West Coast's finest, Brownie could do no wrong amidst Jack Montrose's arrangements and Shelly Manne's irresistible swing. Two classic Brownie originals, "Daahoud" and "Joy Spring," receive their initial treatments here. Rare alternates of "Tiny Capers" (first heard on a Pacific Jazz anthology) and "Gone With The Wind" (originally issued only on a 45rpm EP) complete the story. While this is definitely an unusual setting for Brown, it's a key chapter in his too-brief musical legacy. (Pacific Jazz 32142; Clifford Brown (t) Stu Williamson (valve tbn) Zoot Sims (ts) Bob Gordon (bari s) Russ Freeman (p) Joe Mondragon or Carson Smith* (b) Shelly Manne (d); Los Angeles, CA, July 12 or *August 12, 1954 [Lord has August 13]; DAAHOUD/ FINDERS KEEPERS/ JOY SPRING/ GONE WITH THE WIND*/ BONES FOR JONES*/ BLUEBERRY HILL*/ TINY CAPERS*/ TINY CAPERS (alt.)*/ GONE WITH THE WIND (alt.)*; 32:45)

 

There's an abundance of elegance in the two Art Farmer Quartet albums compiled for Concord Jazz' ARTistry. Farmer's classy and cultivated flugelhorn sound plus the presence of Fred Hersch at the piano for both dates insures heartfelt and smoothly swinging renditions of great tunes like Bird's "Red Cross" and "Moose The Mooche," Ellington's "Warm Valley," and Tommy Flanagan's "Eclypso." It was lovely music when these albums first came out in 1982 and 1983, and it's just as lovely today. Wonder why it's on two discs, though, since it could have fit on one. (Concord Jazz CCD2-4974; Disc 1 (A Work Of Art, 36:56): Art Farmer (flgh) Fred Hersch (p) Bob Bodley (b) Billy Hart (d); NYC, September 1981; RED CROSS/ YOU KNOW I CARE/ (I GOT A WOMAN CRAZY FOR ME) SHE'S FUNNY THAT WAY/ CHANGE PARTNERS/ SUMMERSONG/ LOVE WALKED IN/ ONE FOR SAM. Disc 2 (Warm Valley, 39:34): Farmer (flgh) Hersch (p) Ray Drummond (b) Akira Tana (d); NYC, September 1982; MOOSE THE MOOCHE/ AND NOW THERE'S YOU/ THREE LITTLE WORDS/ ECLYPSO/ SAD TO SAY/ UPPER MANHATTAN MEDICAL GROUP/ WARM VALLEY.)

- Stuart Kremsky


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