Rhapsody Streamnotes: January 31, 2014

With 75 records done by January 19, I figured it was safe to run two Rhapsody Streamnotes columns this month. The 31st rather snuck up on me, but I wound up with 83 records below, and still held a few back for next month. I've split these into 45 new and 38 old. The former are mostly 2013 releases I noticed while I was constructing the metacritic file, plus a few (quick count shows 20) 2014 jazz releases (plus a new Bruce Springsteen and a not-so-new Tom Zé).

For the old records I started with a couple 2013 reissues (Bill Evans, Duke Ellington) then found myself wandering. Rather than review a new Jimmy Rushing twofer, I cut the setlist down to one original LP (the other LP was one I had before, ironically in another twofer). At some point I started searching my "jazz-40s" file for Penguin 4-star records that I hadn't heard before. Shouldn't have been a big surprise that so many of them panned out. Nor that there's a lot more where they came from. On the other hand, the reviews below, good as the records are, rarely match the artist's peak efforts. The following list from my database, for instance, are very likely superior to whatever I mopped up this time. (Didn't bother with Ellington, as that list could have grown huge. Others are incomplete, especially those limited to three examples, and I've tried to stay within the relevant time frames.)

  • Chet Baker: Sings and Plays (1955 [2004], Pacific Jazz) A-
  • Ruby Braff: Hi-Fi Salute to Bunny (1957, RCA) A-
  • Al Cohn: Nonpareil (1981 [1992], Concord) A-
  • Bill Evans: Portrait in Jazz (1959 [2008], Riverside) A-
  • Bill Evans: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961 [2008], Riverside/Keepnews Collection) A
  • Bill Evans: Waltz for Debby (1961 [1987], Riverside/OJC) A-
  • Art Farmer: Modern Art (1958 [1991], Blue Note) A-
  • Herb Geller: That Geller Feller (1957 [2003], Fresh Sound) A-
  • Hampton Hawes: Hampton Hawes Trio, Vol. 1 (1955 [1987], Contemporary/OJC) A
  • Hampton Hawes: This Is Hampton Hawes, Vol. 2: The Trio (1955 [1987], Contemporary/OJC) A-
  • Earl Hines: Tour de Force (1972 [1989], Black Lion) A-
  • Shelly Manne: At the Blackhawk, Vols. 2-5 (1959 [1991], Contemporary/OJC) A-
  • Shelly Manne: 2-3-4 (1962 [1994], Impulse) A-
  • Jackie McLean: McLean's Scene (1956-57, Prestige/OJC) A-
  • Jackie McLean: New Soil (1959 [1988], Blue Note) A
  • Jackie McLean: Swing Swang Swingin' (1959 [1997], Blue Note) A
  • Gerry Mulligan: The Original Quartet with Chet Baker (1952-53 [1998], Blue Note, 2CD) A-
  • Gerry Mulligan: Jeru (1962 [2005], Columbia/Legacy) A
  • Sonny Rollins: Work Time (1955 [1989], Prestige/OJC) A
  • Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus (1956 [1985], Prestige/OJC) A+
  • Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (1957 [1988], Contemporary/OJC) A
  • Horace Silver: Six Pieces of Silver (1956-58 [1999], Blue Note) A-
  • Horace Silver: Doin' the Thing (1961 [1988], Blue Note) A
  • Horace Silver: The Jody Grind (1966 [1991], Blue Note) A

No such luck finding A-list records in the current section. I might flatter myself into thinking that I've already sorted through 2013 with a fine-enough comb, but that's unlikely. More likely I just don't know where to look next. And thus far this year's new jazz crop includes a lot of high honorable mentions, but not much that really stands out -- the Sonny Simmons below and an earlier record by Jon Lundbom is the extent of my A-list so far. (PS: Also added Ben Flocks, which I just got to.)

These are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Rhapsody. They are snap judgments based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on January 19. Past reviews and more information are available here (4330 records).

New Releases (More or Less)

Action Bronson/Party Supplies: Blue Chips 2 (2013, Fool's Gold): Beats by Justin Nealis and Sean Mahon, but they're all over the place, as is the big guy with voracious appetites and no sense of decorum. B+(**) [dl]

Joey Badass: Summer Knights (2013, Cinematic Music Group): Né Jo-Vaughn Scott, age 18 with several mixtapes under his belt and visions of $$ cluttering his typography; this seems to be the mix that turned him pro, although on Rhapsody the 17 original tracks have been whittled down to seven, so it's more like the EP it was originally conceived as. B+(*)

Bastille: Bad Blood (2013, Virgin): British group's first album, considered electropop although the keybs are matched by guitar, the pop hooks coming more from the harmony vocals which have a certain hokey charm. B

Janice Borla Group: Promises to Burn (2013 [2014], Tall Grass): Jazz singer, fifth album since 1996, does two standards here and six pieces by jazz musicians (Tristano, Dameron, Evans, but also DeJohnette, Mintzer, and Calderazzo), all her arrangements. Group includes Scott Robinson (tenor sax, flute) and Art Davis (trumpet), guitar but no piano. She likes to scat. B+(*)

Charles Bradley: Victim of Love (2013, Daptone): Retro soul singer with a lot of grit in his voice. B+(**)

Joshua Breakstone: With the Wind and the Rain (2013 [2014], Capri): Guitarist, AMG lists 17 albums since 1983, mercurial tone -- metallic but easy-flowing -- very conspicuous in these trios, or even when cellist Mike Richmond makes it a foursome. B+(*) [cd]

Classixx: Hanging Gardens (2013, Innovative Leisure): LA DJ duo, Michael David and Tyler Blake, don't look much beyond disco, but their assumed name says as much. B+(*)

Maya Jane Coles: Comfort (2013, I Am Me): British DJ, I assume she does her own vocals as well as the music; runs cool and moderately slow, but relaxed, avoiding the gloom of trip hop. B+(***)

Matt Criscuolo: Blippity Blat (2013 [2014], self-released): Saxophonist, that usually means alto, as pictures confirm. Quintet, with Larry Willis steady on piano, and a French horn for contrast -- but the effect is to slow things down: more blat than blippity. B [cd]

Mikal Cronin: MCII (2013, Merge): Singer-songwriter with a guitar, enough of a band to escape being tagged as a folkie, and a knack for grabbing a high note and passing it off as a hook. B+(*)

Currensy: New Jet City (2013, self-released): New Orleans rapper, Shante Scott Franklin, busy guy -- twenty-some mixtapes since 2004. This is another. B+(*) [dl]

Currensy & Young Roddy: Bales (2013, self-released): Second mixtape with his co-star, who adds a juvenile voice to go with the story line, mostly about smoking and, since those dollar signs are so important, slinging weed -- but that sounds to me like harder work than knocking this off. B+(**) [dl]

Barbara Levy Daniels: Love Lost and Found (2013 [2014], Bidproductions): Standards singer, from (and I gather still based in) Buffalo, seems to be in her sixties -- "over 50 years ago" Ray Charles heard her as a 12-year-old and urged ABC to sign her, resulting in "a number of singles" -- returning to music after working 30 years as a psychotherapist. Second album, arranged by pianist John DiMartino, with Warren Vaché on cornet -- their interplay on "Comes Love" is a highlight. B+(***)

Darkside: Psychic (2013, Matador): Electronica producer Nicholas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington, first album after an EP. B-

Death Grips: Government Plates (2013, Third Worlds): "Fuck." "Steal shit." "You my bitch." "Suck my dick." Not just words. The music says the same thing, louder. B-

Nir Felder: Golden Age (2011 [2014], Okeh): Guitarist, from upstate New York, first album although it seems like I've bumped into him on most of his dozen side-credits since 2009. Quartet with Aaron Parks on piano. Sme pieces overlay quotes from famous speeches, adding to the sense of historical sweep. B+(***) [cd]

Ben Flocks: Battle Mountain (2013 [2014], self-released): Tenor saxophonist, originally from Santa Cruz, now based in Brooklyn, first album, quintet unknown to me (guitar, piano/Fender, bass, drums), songbook draws on folk classics -- "Shenandoah," "Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You" -- many rooted in his native California. Reminds me as much of Dave Alvin's King of California as anything in the jazz world. Needless to say, his "Tennessee Waltz" doesn't match Sonny Rollins' -- but how could it? A- [cd]

Carol Fredette: No Sad Songs for Me (2012 [2014], Soundbrush): Jazz singer, mostly standards starting with Porter and including a token Jobim. Third album -- the first was songs from Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough, who offer some clues to her phrasing. B+(**)

Gardland: Syndrome Syndrome (2013, RVNG Intl): Electronica from Australia, Alex Murray and Mark Smith, eleven pieces that pick up a beat and run it 4-6 minutes, far short of running it into the ground. B+(**) [bc]

The History of Apple Pie: Out of View (2013, Marshall Teller): Stephanie Min and Jerome Watson work up a storm of guitar and shoegaze fuzz around their everyday pop hooks. B+(**)

Mimi Jones: Balance (2012 [2014], Hot Tone Music): Bassist, sings some, second album, lots of electric keybs give it a pleasing groove with a slightly cheesy funk sound; guest spots for Ingrid Jensen (trumpet) a plus, Camille Thurman (flute) less so. B+(*) [cd]

Elly Kouri: I Love You Too Much (2013 [2014], RBR): Jazz singer, looks like all standards to me but hype sheet says she's a songwriter, first album (as far as I can tell); Michael McGinnis plays some exhilarating clarinet, well matched to her voice. B+(*) [cd]

David Krakauer: The Big Picture (2013 [2014], Table Pounding): Clarinetist, had a part in the 1980s klezmer revival, both playing for the Klezmatics and leading his Klezmer Madness, and has continued more or less in that vein. Movie music this time, falls into a string section chamber trap midway but recovers with a swell I soon recognize as "People" -- have scarcely heard that since the Streisand hit in the 1960s, and it never sounded better. B+(***) [cd]

Machinedrum: Vapor City (2013, Ninja Tune): Travis Stewart, from North Carolina, one of many aliases. Serviceable enough. B+(*)

Sarah Manning: Harmonious Creature (2013 [2014], Posi-Tone): Alto saxophonist, second album, with strings -- Eyvind Kang on violin, Jonathan Goldberger on guitar, Rene Hart on bass -- leading the way, drums backing, but doesn't let this settle into chamber jazz niceties. B+(***)

Moderat: II (2013, Monkeytown): German electronica, a collaboration between Sascha Ring (aka Apparat), Gernot Bronsert, and Sebastian Szary (aka Modeselektor). Electronic beats go down fine, vocals less so. B+(*)

Moutin Factory Quintet: Lucky People (2013 [2014], Blujazz/Plus Loin Music): French group, led by brothers François and Louis Moutin (bass and drums, respectively), adding guitar, piano, and Christophe Monniot on alto and sopranino sax. Lively postbop, a bit on the lush side. B+(**) [cd]

Russ Nolan: Relentless (2013 [2014], Rhinoceruss Music): Tenor saxophonist (also soprano), based in New York, fourth album, quartet with Manuel Valera on piano/fender rhodes, adds congas on three tracks to underscore that Latin tinge. B+(*) [cd]

Danilo Perez: Panama 500 (2013 [2014], Mack Avenue): Pianist, from Panama, on the 500th anniversary of the exploration of the isthmus by Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, including a three-part "The Canal Suite"; some trio with John Patitucci and Brian Blades, some with Panamanians including "Guna musicians" with chants and violin -- the fine points rather escape me. B+(**) [cd]

Judy Philbin and Adam Levine: Keeping It Simple (2013 [2014], self-released): Just voice and guitar, a couple originals plus covers that draw heavily on Hoagy Carmichael. Not to knock the simplicity concept, but the songs that work best are the ones she can expand her voice on: "Besame Mucho" and "Blue Bayou." B+(*)

Pusha T: Wrath of Caine (2013, GOOD Music): Mixtape, came out nearly a year before his studio album, My Name Is My Name, so note that he uses that line in an early lyric. After that, he rotates the featured guests, never breaking a sweat. B+(**) [dl]

Scenes: . . . But Not Heard (2013 [2014], Origin): Fifth album for guitarist John Stowell's long-running group with Jeff Johnson and John Bishop, with Hans Teuber joining in on various saxes and flute -- a nice tone match for the guitar. B+(**) [cd]

Lenny Sendersky/Tony Romano: Desert Flower (2013 [2014], LeTo): Alto/soprano sax and guitar, respectively, each wrote four tracks, plus there are covers -- with vocals by Cleve Douglass -- of an Ellington tune and "Nature Boy." Sendersky was born in Russia, emigrating to Denmark, then to Israel, winding up in New York to cut this. Band adds bass and drums, plus Joe Locke (vibes) on three cuts, Randy Brecker (trumpet) on two. B+(*) [cd]

Sonny Simmons/Delphine Latil/Thomas Bellier: Beyond the Planets (2013 [2014], Improvising Beings, 2CD): Avant-garde in the 1960s, now passing 80, Simmons plays cor anglais and alto sax none too vigorously, adding depth and resonance to duets -- the first disc with harpist Latil, who starts out solo before their 47:03 "Sacred Moments," and guitarist Bellier, who's thinking of the distance between planets and the awesomeness of the universe. A- [cd]

Bruce Springsteen: High Hopes (2014, Columbia): Only three non-Springsteen songs, not that the originals are served fresh; eight songs "feat." Tom Morello, promising to ram the classic 4/4 into overdrive, but half of those come with extra strings, even if I noticed the brass more often. Not sure what to call it: it's more than a stopgap, and less than a mess. But mostly reminds me that Mike Leigh made a brilliant film from this title in 1988, and you'd be better off with it. B+(*)

Stellar OM Source: Joy One Mile (2013, RVNG Intl): Electronica, flows much better than most. B+(***) [bc]

Marnie Stern: The Chronicles of Marnia (2013, Kill Rock Stars): Channels a girl group sound through punk and postpunk and I'm not sure what else. B+(*)

Shirazette Tinnin: Humility: Purity of My Soul (2013 [2014], Hot Tone Music): Drummer, first album, photogs show her wistfully carressing her tools instead of preparing to beat the shit out of them, but let's blame the art director for that. Album is jumbled, lots of musicians shuffling in and out, some fine sax solos by Camille Thurman, some dull vocals, some keybs and electric bass. B [cd]

Troy Ave: New York City: The Album (2013, BSB): PopMatter's top mixtape, thin voice and nothing fancy to the beats but develops a compelling flow. B+(***) [dl]

Fernando Ulibarri: Transform (2013 [2014], self-released): Guitarist, from Costa Rica, studied at Berklee, first album, with bass, drums, and Jim Gaslor on piano/keyboards. Soft, silky touch. B+(*) [cd]

We Love . . . Detroit (2013, We Love, 2CD): Label is British, looks like this is their second compilation (first is We Love . . . Ibiza); compiled by Derrick May and Jimmy Edgar, no idea how old these tracks are or whether they're dated at all. Fairly low key, steady flow, and I must say I appreciate the sentiment. B+(***)

Holly Williams: The Highway (2013, Georgiana): Hank's daughter or granddaughter depending on where you focus, which isn't all that clear, but the songs start to pay off more toward the end, with "Waiting on June" the closer. B+(*)

Christine Wodrascka/Jean Luc Cappozzo/Gerry Hemingway: 2° Étage: Grey Matter (2012 [2013], NoBusiness): Piano, trumpet/bugle, and percussion -- the first two born in the 1950s in France, with checkered discographies as they've bounced off various avant-jazz figures; this is another jumble of discordant sounds in search of something deeper. B+(***) [cd]

YAPP: Symbolic Heads (2011 [2013], NoBusiness): Free jazz quartet -- Bryan Rogers (tenor sax), Alban Bailly (guitar), Matt Engle (bass), David Flaherty (drums) -- best when they let it all hang out, possibly because even then they keep it tight. B+(***) [cdr of lp]

Tom Zé: Tropicália Lixo Lógico (2012, self-released): From Brazil, one of the founders of the tropicália movement in the late 1960s. I never spent enough time with his two Luaka Bop comps to get past the quirks, but his records since 2001 have an immediate appeal, even if it's mostly quirky. A- [dl]

Older Music: Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Chet Baker: Broken Wing (1978 [1979], Inner City): Cut in Paris with a French quartet, the trumpet is eloquent but a but shy of the spotlight, nor does Baker's vocal grip you. B

Ruby Braff/Ellis Larkins: 2 x 2: Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins Play Rodgers and Hart (1955, Vanguard): Trumpet-piano duets on standard fare by a duo that resurfaced several times over the next 40 years. Not yet clear that Braff would turn into a swing throwback, but his care for the songs is clear. B+(***)

Al Cohn/Zoot Sims: Al and Zoot (1957 [1998], Chess): The tightest of the Four Brothers, they started with Lester Young's airy style and ran loops from there, almost of one mind, which may be the limit here -- hard to call it a problem. The pianist, by the way, is Mose Allison, just before he broke in as a singer. B+(**)

Eddie Costa Quartet: Guys and Dolls Like Vibes (1958 [2001], Verve): Or, shall we say, the Bill Evans Trio (Wendell Marshall on bass, Paul Motian on drums) plus vibes, since Evans' is the talent this turns on. B+(**)

Duke Ellington and His Orchestra: The Ellington Suites: The Queen's Suite/The Goutelas Suite/The Uwis Suite (1959-72 [2013], Fantasy/OJC): Three multi-part pieces, one from 1959 and two more later, each running around 15 minutes, a length he almost always adhered to any time the S-word cropped up, with a mix of massed accents and noodling that so often signalled he was thinking of classical composition, even when he stuck to his usual instrumentation. B+(*)

Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings! (1962 [2013], Fantasy/OJC): He settled into doing piano trios almost exclusively after Kind of Blue in 1958. This is his second album with Chuck Israels on bass (following Scott LaFaro's death), more upbeat than Moon Beams, almost joyous -- not that Evans ever made such emotion obvious. A-

Art Farmer/Gigi Gryce: When Farmer Met Gryce (1954-55 [1994], Prestige/OJC): Two sessions a year apart: one with Horace Silver, Percy Heath, and Kenny Clarke; the other with Freddie Redd, Addison Farmer, and Arthur Taylor, and the latter may have the edge. The alto saxophonist seems to be moving beyond his Bird-clone phase, and the trumpet is remarkably clear and poised for a debut. A-

Art Farmer: Art Farmer Quintet Featuring Gigi Gryce (1955 [1991], Prestige/OJC): Moving along, the growing sophistication seems closer in spirit to the west coast cool jazz movement, but this band is firmly planted in the east, just slightly out of step with the hard bop movement. B+(***)

Art Farmer/Benny Golson: Meet the Jazztet (1960 [1990], Chess): Actually a sextet, but you have to forgive the artiness of the name -- Farmer's discography is as full of art-puns as Art Pepper's. Golson plays tenor sax (as opposed to Gryce's alto), so Curtis Fuller (trombone) joins as a counterweight, and they picked up young pianist McCoy Tyner. A-

Herb Geller: Herb Geller Plays (1954-55 [1955], Emarcy): West coast alto saxophonist, inspired by Benny Carter and Charlie Parker, has a lighter, sweeter tone than either, and he's lifted further by the piano of wife Lorraine Geller -- her sudden death in 1958 knocked him for a loop, gradually recovering in Europe and ultimately doing some of his finest work in the 1990s. I could quibble, say about "Sleigh Ride," but I don't expect to ever hear a more adventurous take. A-

Hampton Hawes: Four! (1958 [1991], Contemporary/OJC): One of the major bebop pianists of the 1950s, his early records were trios, hence all the exclamation marks on the cover here, the expansion Barney Kessel on guitar, while Red Mitchell and Shelly Manne got big type too. Piano is the focal point, but when Kessel takes the lead he proves remarkably adept at extending the leader's lines. A-

Hampton Hawes: For Real! (1958 [1995], Contemporary/OJC): Another quartet, this one with Harold Land on tenor sax and Scott La Faro on bass; Land has been a lot flashier elsewhere, but Hawes ties him down in ways that make him all the more creative. A-

Earl Hines: Tour de Force Encore (1972 [1992], Black Lion): Solo piano, extra tracks from the Tour de Force session, where Hines showed the speed, flash, and mastery that made him one of the few jazz pianists who could compete with Art Tatum. B+(***)

Jutta Hipp: Jutta Hipp With Zoot Sims (1956 [1996], Blue Note): German pianist, cut a couple albums in New York in the 1950s, notably this session with tenor saxophonist Sims and trumpeter Jerry Lloyd; 1956 was a peak year for Sims, but he mostly adds warmth and coziness here. B+(**)

John Jenkins/Clifford Jordan/Bobby Timmons: Jenkins, Jordan and Timmons (1957 [1994], New Jazz/OJC): Jenkins was an alto saxophonist who cut a handful of albums in the 1950s, dropped out of music around 1962, started playing again in 1983 but didn't have any impact before his 1993 death. Jordan plays tenor, Timmons piano, and the guys who didn't get their names on the cover are Wilbur Ware and Dannie Richmond -- they keep it all moving. A-

Clifford Jordan Quartet: Spellbound (1960 [1993], Riverside/OJC): A hard bop tenor saxophonist from Chicago, paired with young pianist Cedar Walton, who even at this stage had a knack for setting up a horn. A-

Harold Land: Harold in the Land of Jazz (1958 [1988], Contemporary/OJC): Tenor saxophonist, a fierce bebopper, first record, with Rolf Ericson on trumpet, Carl Perkins on piano, Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Frank Butler on drums -- a band that takes some of the edge off. B+(*)

Harold Land: Damisi (1971-74 [1991], Mainstream): Good chance to hear the tenor saxophonist stretch out, although the band isn't always up to snuff. B+(**)

Shelly Manne & His Men: Live! At the Manne Hole Vol. 1 (1961 [1992], Contemporary/OJC): Two years after Manne's legendary 5-CD At the Blackhawk, the band has been tweaked with Conte Candoli on trumpet joining Richie Kamuca on tenor sax, Russ Freeman taking over on piano, also Chuck Berghofer on bass. Four standards, stretched toward 10 minutes each, the epitome of cool. A-

Shelly Manne & His Men: Live! At the Manne Hole Vol. 2 (1961 [1992], Contemporary/OJC): More, five cuts but some shorter, tails off a bit but Conte Candoli offers some especially fine trumpet solos, and I'd round the grade up if both volumes were pressed onto the same disc -- they'd fit without any cuts. B+(***)

Jackie McLean: 4, 5 and 6 (1956 [1991], Prestige/OJC): One of the great alto saxophonists, started off chasing Charlie Parker, following him into bebop and heroin, but kicked both, going on to fold Coleman and Coltrane into an expansive avant vision while managing to sound absolutely unique. But his early Prestige albums (1956-57) were slapdash affairs. As the title suggests, the quartet adds Donald Byrd on three tracks and Hank Mobley on one of those. Still, I'm impressed with how steady and mature McLean sounds, especially on the delicious "Sentimental Journey," and by pianist Mal Waldron, already a superb accompanist. A-

Jackie McLean Quintet: Jackie's Pal: Introducing Bill Hardman (1956 [1991], Prestige/OJC): Interesting that at age 24 McLean was considered enough of a star to introduce the trumpet player -- only a year his junior and not destined to have a great career, but Hardman and McLean appeared later that year on Art Blakey's genre-defining Hard Bop. B+(***)

Jackie McLean: Makin' the Changes (1957 [1992], New Jazz/OJC): Two sessions, three cuts each, the first a quartet with Mal Waldron, the second a sextet with Gil Coggins on piano, Webster Young on trumpet, and Curtis Fuller on trombone. Covers, one from Hawkins and one from Parker, the leader in good form throughout. B+(***)

Jackie McLean: A Fickle Sonance (1961 [1999], Blue Note): McLean's Blue Notes (1959-67) lurch back and forth between relatively conventional and avant efforts, and this is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, with Tommy Turrentine on trumpet and Sonny Clark on piano, both contributing pieces. B+(**)

Gil Melle Quartet: Gil's Guests (1956-57 [1990], Prestige/OJC): Baritone saxophonist, quartet adds guitar, bass, and drums, and the guests are: Don Butterfield, Donald Byrd, Kenny Dorham, Art Farmer, Hal McCusick, Julius Watkins, Phil Woods -- three trumpets, three saxes, French horn and tuba, a little fancy for the era, or do I mean elegant? B+(***)

The Gerry Mulligan Quartet: What Is There to Say? (1959 [1994], Columbia/Legacy): A return to the baritone saxophonist's "pianoless quartet" days, with Art Farmer filling in on trumpet. B+(***)

Oscar Pettiford: The New Oscar Pettiford Sextet (1949-53 [1999], Debut/OJC): The title and five cuts date from a 1953 10-incher, which expanded to 7 cuts on LP and 11 on CD -- the latter picking up four Serge Chaloff tracks from 1949. Charles Mingus fills in most of the bass as Pettiford picks up his cello; Phil Urso plays some spirited tenor sax, and Julius Watkins' French horn could pass for trombone; and the Chaloff tracks fit right in. A-

Sonny Rollins: Moving Out (1954 [1987], Prestige/OJC): First album, although the tenor sax great's name has moved forward on some earlier albums with other groups. Four boppish tracks with trumpeter Kenny Dorham competing for the spotlight, plus a 10:47 "More Than You Know" that couldn't be anyone else -- not even the piano player (Thelonious Monk) sounds so unique. B+(***)

Sonny Rollins: Tour de Force (1956 [1989], Prestige/OJC): Leaving aside for the minute two Earl Coleman vocals, a rare case where such an immodest title turns into understatement, with a tremendous turn by Max Roach nearly matching the tenor saxophonist. Coleman is a singer only the early 1950s could love, but he's never been more tolerable than on his two ballads, thanks largely to the soft touch of Kenny Drew and, surprisingly, the leader. CD adds "Sonny Boy," previously the title cut of its own LP. A-

Sonny Rollins: The Sound of Sonny (1957 [1987], Riverside/OJC): A relatively modest entry in the catalog, the title doesn't scream for attention like Saxophone Colossus or Tenor Madness -- it may even hint that the pianist is also named Sonny (Clark). Rollins never breaks loose here, but he does play impeccably, including a solo "It Could Happen to You." A-

Frank Rosolino: Frank Rosolino Quintet (1957 [1993], VSOP): Trombonist, originally from Michigan but wound up in Hollywood for his debut, with Richie Kamuca on tenor sax, Vince Guaraldi on piano, backed by Monty Budwig and Stan Levey. B+(***)

Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars: Sunday Jazz A La Lighthouse, Vol. 1 (1953 [1991], Contemporary/OJC): Bassist-led band, fits into the West Coast cool mode more by association than anything else -- Jimmy Giuffre and Bob Cooper play sax, Shorty Rogers and Maynard Ferguson trumpet, Hampton Hawes is one of two pianists, and Shelly Manne one of two drummers. B+(**)

Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars: Sunday Jazz A La Lighthouse, Vol. 2 (1953 [1998], Contemporary/OJC): Six cuts continue with most of Vol. 1's band -- Bob Cooper, Jimmy Giuffre, Shorty Rogers (but no Maynard Fergusson), Russ Freeman, Shelly Manne -- only much hotter; last three (previously unreleased) cuts give you a different feel: a smaller band with Bud Shank the standout; also Chet Baker, Rolf Ericson, and Max Roach. A-

Jimmy Rushing: Jimmy Rushing and the Smith Girls: Bessie - Clara - Mamie & Trixie: The Songs They Made Famous (1960 [1961], Columbia): Bessie Smith you know, and possibly the others -- classic female blues singers from the 1920s. They don't collaborate here, but their songs feed the unquenchable appetite of the great blues shouter, and the impeccable band includes Buck Clayton and Coleman Hawkins. [Reissued by Lone Hill Jazz, 2013, in a twofer with Jazz Odyssey of James Rushing, Esq., a superior 1956 album, which I own as half of a 2002 Collectables twofer with Cat Meets Chick, another good 'un, with Ada Moore.] A-

Horace Silver: Horace Silver Trio (1952-53 [1989], Blue Note): Cover reads "and spotlight on drums: Art Blakey - Sabu" -- Sabu Martinez plays congas on two tracks, three bassists work shifts, and Blakey is the drummer. The pianist's vitality is much in evidence on these early sides -- the 16 cuts are uniformly 78-length -- but the standout tracks are the percussion extravaganzas at the end. B+(***)

The Horace Silver Quintet: The Stylings of Silver (1957 [2002], Blue Note): When they split, Art Blakey kept the group name (Jazz Messengers) but Silver kept the hard bop quintet format, using Art Farmer and Hank Mobley for horns here. B+(***)

The Horace Silver Quintet & Trio: Blowin' the Blues Away (1959 [1999], Blue Note): Great title for the Quintet, at this point featuring Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook, but only "Sister Sadie" earns a slot on Silver's best-of, and the two Trio tracks won't blow anything or anyone away. B+(**)

The Horace Silver Quintet: Horace-Scope (1960 [2006], Blue Note): Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook again team up for an average Horace Silver album, scampering around the pianist's funk riffs with Roy Brooks' hard bop drumbeat. B+(***)


Records I looked for but didn't find on Rhapsody:

  • Manu Chao: Siberie M'Etait Contege (2013, Because Music)
  • Frog Eyes: Carey's Cold Spring (2013, self-released)


Everything streamed from Rhapsody, except as noted in brackets following the grade:

  • [cd] based on physical cd (but made most sense to review here)
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [sc] available at soundcloud.com
  • [dl] something I was able to download from the web; may be freely available, or may be a promo deal