‘Morricone 60’ is the first album of Ennio Morricone’s greatest hits conducted, recorded and curated by Morricone himself – and aims to create a legacy for his fans to enjoy. It sees the celebrated Maestro performing some of his greatest film music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to his recent Academy Award-winning score for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (released earlier this year on Decca). The album marks Ennio Morricone’s 60th anniversary as a composer and conductor and features brand new recordings with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, with whom he’s collaborated on major international movie scores.
When he recorded this album, his lone date as a leader, trumpeter Tommy Turrentine (who was a member of Max Roach's group along with his brother, the soon-to-be famous tenor Stanley Turrentine) seemed to have a potentially great future. Unfortunately, ill health would eventually force his retirement. Turrentine's set for Time (which has been reissued on CD by Bainbridge) actually features the musicians of Roach's quintet (including brother Stanley, trombonist Julian Priester, bassist Bob Boswell, and Roach himself) plus pianist Horace Parlan. The trumpeter contributed five of the seven songs (which are joined by Horace Parlan's "Blues for J.P." and Bud Powell's "Webb City") on this fine straight-ahead hard bop set. All of the musicians play up to par and the results are swinging and fit securely into the modern mainstream of the time.
A fantastic addition to the Barney Kessel catalog of the 50s – a never-heard live set that has the guitarist in form that's every bit as strong as his famous albums for Contemporary Records! In fact, the strength of the recording may well capture Kessel at a level that beats those sessions – as Barney's playing live, with a bit more bite – and really grabs us with the strong tone on his solos – and the sense of energy he gets in a quartet that also includes a young Pete Jolly on piano! The recording quality is excellent – crystal-clear, and very focused – and the set isn't one of those lost tapes that should have stayed "lost" – but instead a real lost chapter in Barney's tremendous career.
It's obvious from the greasy opening blues vibe in "Exodus of Venus," the title track of Elizabeth Cook's first album in six years, that something is very different. Produced by guitarist Dexter Green, this set is heavier, darker, and harder than anything she's released before. Its 11 songs are performed by a crack band that includes bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Matt Chamberlain, keyboardist Ralph Lofton, and lap steel guitarist Jesse Aycock. The tunes are drenched in swampy electric blues, psychedelic Americana, gritty R&B, and post-outlaw country. Cook has been tried by fire these past few years. She's endured six deaths – including her parents – a divorce, a stint in rehab, and more. It slowed her writing to a crawl. Exodus of Venus is her way of telling that story, and as such, its songs often stray from the narrative storyteller's manner she's previously employed in favor of a more jarring poetic style that still communicates directly.