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Ronnie Cuber – Cuber Libre / Sam Jones – Changes and Things – both Elemental/Xanadu

Two more Xanadu reissues of note.

Ronnie Cuber – Cuber Libre – Elemental/Xanadu 90607, 52:48  (1976) ****:

(Ronnie Cuber – baritone sax)

Sam Jones – Changes and Things – Elemental/Xanadu 906088, 41:58 (1977) ****:)

(Sam Jones – bass; Blue Mitchell – trumpet; Slide Hampton – trombone; Bob Berg – tenor sax; Barry Harris – piano; Louis Hayes – drums)

At the time that Cuber Libre was issued, Ronnie Cuber was 34 years old, and this was his debut as a leader. He was a sideman, and cut his teeth playing baritone sax for pop legends such as Aretha, Clapton, Steely Dan, and Dr. John. He continues to go strong today and his rock solid baritone anchors the tribute Mingus Big Band.

Ronnie is noted for his big throaty baritone timbre and it is put to good use on an extended “Star Eyes.” It’s off to the races on”Rifftide” with Barry Harris quoting “Lady Be Good.” “Sudwest Funk” is a double-time 12 bar blues. Donald Byrd wrote this track and it’s fun to compare it to Byrd’s recorded version that featured Pepper Adams on baritone.

Sam Jones’ Changes and Things from 1977 come highly recommended as it has a dream front line horn section of  Blue Mitchell, Slide Hampton, and Bob Berg. Berg was the youngster (at that time) as he was only 26 years old. He holds his own with Blue and Slide. All eight tracks are winners with a great version of Benny Golson’s “Stablemates,”  a sweet waltz time run through of “ Miss Morgan” and hard charging takes of “Laverne Walk” and “Trane Changes.”  I dug the gospel piano riff on “Laverne” while Mitchell’s “Blue’s” written for the session has the whole gang solo.

Bassist Jones doesn’t get enough credit as a leader and was noted for his tenure with fellow Floridians, the Adderley Brothers, which began in 1956.

These Xanadu releases, brought out by Elemental this year, are highly recommended and celebrate how straight ahead bop based jazz still held its own in the mid to late 1970s when jazz was moving in new directions.

TrackLists:

Dolo Coker: Jumping Jacks, Gone With the Wind, Root FB, Mr. Yohe,Gone Again, Tale of Two Cities, ‘Round Midnight (Bonus Track)

Sonny Criss: Angel Eyes, Tin Tin Deo, Jeannie’s Knees, Saturday Morning, My Heart Stood Still, Until the Real Thing Comes Along, Confusion

—Jeff Krow

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