Recorded live at the Roxy, Scratch was one of the Crusaders' best recordings, an extravaganza of jazz and funk with great soloing from the group on top of a set of excellent grooves. From the loose-limbed funk of "Scratch" to a restless, understated version of their live standard "Eleanor Rigby" (which they'd been performing live for over six years), the Crusaders displayed a command of R&B forms in a jazz context. Another cover, Carole King's "So Far Away," is betrayed by a muddy '70s arrangement and sound, but nothing else here fails to illustrate the excellence of the best R&B group in the jazz world.
Stan Getz was such a consistent performer and had such a beautiful tone that nearly all of his recordings are well worth getting. The two radio appearances heard on this 1997 CD are even on a higher level than normal. Joined by pianist Kenny Barron, either Ray Drummond or Yashuito Mori on bass, and drummer Ben Riley, Getz is heard at the peak of his powers on a pair of obscurities (Kenny Barron's "Feijada" and Gigi Gryce's "Stan's Blues") and six numbers (including "Voyage," "Blood Count" and "Warm Valley") that he recorded numerous times. To hear Getz adding even more beauty to Mal Waldron's already gorgeous "Soul Eyes" is a memorable experience.
The Best of Nat King Cole is part of EMI-Capitol Special Markets' Ten Best Series, where they selected ten hits from a popular artist on their roster. For the budget-minded, it's a nice collection of Nat King Cole's best-known hits, like "Unforgettable," "Ramblin' Rose," "Mona Lisa," "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" and "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons." It certainly won't please either jazz purists or Cole collectors, but the budget-conscious looking for an affordable (albeit skimpy) sampler of well-known Cole should turn here.