everybodydigs#131 Kenny Drew – Undercurrent

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

A consummate pianist/composer, Kenny Drew made his first LP as a leader for Blue Note in 1953. In the ensuing years, he contributed to many great sessions including John Coltrane’s Blue Train. This 1960 quintet date with the cream of Blue Note’s stable at the time (Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Sam Jones, and Louis Hayes) represents some of his finest work as a pianist and as a writer.

Rappamlo’s favorite track:

everybodydigs#123 Eric Dolphy – Out There

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

By the time of this 1960 recording, only his second as a leader, Dolphy has already dispensed with the “traditional” jazz instrumentation. With bassist George Duvivier and drummer Roy Haynes holding down the rhythm, Ron Carter moves to the frontline armed with a cello, joining Dolphy as he switches from alto to bass clarinet to regular clarinet to flute. Out There catches Dolphy at a significant crossroads: The music is more ambitious and more jagged than on its predecessor Outward Bound, but more cohesive and less aurally challenging than on his 1964 master work, Out to Lunch. Dolphy’s improvisations—on each instrument–are bursting with creative, far-reaching ideas, expressive wails, and frenetic flurries while Carter’s eerie arco (bowed) cello ambles quietly, sometimes melancholy, sometimes menacing. Dolphy’s four originals show his absorption of Mingus—especially on the blues distortion of “Serene”—and provide perfect blueprints for his bizarre constructions. The quartet also handles one tune from Mingus himself (the ruminating “Eclipse”) plus Randy Weston’s fragile “Sketch of Melba.” –Marc Greilsamer

Rappamelo’s favorite track:

everybodydigs#119 Wes Montgomery – The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

The incredible Wes Montgomery of 1960 was more discernible and distinctive than the guitarist who would emerge a few years later as a pop stylist and precursor to George Benson in the ’70s. On this landmark recording, Montgomery veered away from his home Indianapolis-based organ combo with Melvin Rhyne, the California-based Montgomery Brothers band, and other studio sidemen he had been placed with briefly. Off to New York City and a date with Tommy Flanagan’s trio, Montgomery seems in his post- to hard bop element, swinging fluently with purpose, drive, and vigor not heard in an electric guitarist since bop progenitor Charlie Christian. Setting him apart from the rest, this recording established Montgomery as the most formidable modern guitarist of the era, and eventually its most influential. Montgomery is clearly talented beyond convention, consistently brilliant, and indeed incredible in the company of his sidemen, and this recording — an essential addition to every jazz guitarist fan’s collection — put him on the map. (allmusic)

Personnel: Wes Montgomery (guitar); Tommy Flanagan (piano); Percy Heath (bass); Albert Heath (drums).

Rappamelo’s favorite track:

everybodydigs#58 The Modern Jazz Quartet – Pyramid

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

This is a strong recording from the Modern Jazz Quartet, with inventive versions of John Lewis’ “Vendome,” Ray Brown’s “Pyramid,” Jim Hall’s “Romaine,” and Lewis’ famous “Django,” along with cooking jams on “How High the Moon” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” The MJQ had become a jazz institution by this time, but they never lost their creative edge, and their performances (even on the remakes) are quite stimulating, enthusiastic, and fresh.

The Modern Jazz Quartet: John Lewis (piano); Milt Jackson (vibes); Percy Heath (bass); Connie Kay (drums).

Rappamelo’s favorite track:

everybodydigs#39 Etta Jones – Don’t Go To Strangers

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

Don’t Go to Strangers was Etta Jones’ first album for the independent jazz label Prestige when it was released in 1960 (having been recorded in a single session on June 21 of that year), and although Jones had been releasing records since 1944, including a dozen sides for RCA in 1946 and an album for King Records in 1957, she was treated as an overnight sensation when the title tune from the album went gold, hitting the Top 40 on the pop charts and reaching number five on the R&B charts. An elegant ballad on an album that had several of them, including the masterful “If I Had You” and a marvelous reading of “All the Way,” a song usually identified with Frank Sinatra, “Don’t Go to Strangers” featured Jones’ airy, bluesy phrasing and uncanny sense of spacing, and was very much a jazz performance, making its success on the pop charts all the more amazing. Listen to Jones’ restructuring of the melody to the opening track, the old chestnut “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby,” to hear a gifted jazz singer sliding and shifting the tone center of a song like a veteran horn player, all the while leaving the melody still recognizable, but refreshing it until it stands revealed anew. Apparently there were no additional tracks cut at the session, since bonus material has never surfaced on any of the album’s subsequent reissues, although that’s hardly a problem, because as is, Don’t Go to Strangers is a perfect gem of a recording. ~ Steve Leggett

Personnel: Etta Jones (vocals); Etta Jones; George Duvivier (upright bass); Skeeter Best (guitar); Frank Wess (flute, tenor saxophone); Richard Wyands (piano); Roy Haynes (drums).

Rappamelo’s favorite track:

everybodydigs#22 Charles Mingus – Blues and Roots

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

Bassist Charles Mingus was always ready for a good fight. In the liner notes to this disc, Mingus says he wanted to respond to critics who said he didn’t swing enough. And reply he did. Mingus gave whoever these absurd quibblers were some of the most ecstatic blues (“Moanin’” and “Cryin Blues”), gospel (“Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting”), and Dixieland (“My Jelly Roll Soul”) the jazz world has ever heard. Along with his striking original compositions, the instrumental combination in Mingus’s nonet remains unconventional: the frontline included four saxophonists and two trombonists without the counterweight of a trumpeter. The leader’s sliding-octave bass lines and percussive slaps are totally rollicking, and the wild abandon in the group’s playing is irrepressible. –Aaron Cohen

Personnel: Charles Mingus (bass); Jackie McLean, John Handy (alto saxophone); Booker Ervin (tenor saxophone); Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone); Jimmy Knepper, Willie Dennis (trombone); Horace Parlan, Mal Waldron (piano); Dannie Richmond (drums).

Rappamelo’s favorite track:

everybodydigs#12 Tina Brooks – True Blue

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

With a strong, smooth tone and an amazing flow of fresh ideas every time he soloed, tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks should have been a major jazz artist, but his legacy is confined to a series of dates that he did for Blue Note as a sideman and leader. “True Blue” is the only album under his own name to come out in his lifetime. He and Freddie Hubbard had recorded Hubbard’s “Open Sesame” a week earlier. Based on these two albums alone, Brooks should have been recognized as an important new voice in jazz.

Personnel: Tina Brooks (tenor saxophone); Tina Brooks; Sam Jones (double bass); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Duke Jordan (piano); Art Taylor (drums).

Rappamelo’s favorite track: