From the time of his first Blue Note recording in 1964 to his final session for the label in 1967, Sam Rivers made stunning progress as an avant-garde innovator. Starting with an inside/outside hard bop foundation, Rivers quickly took his music as far out as he could while maintaining a recognizable structure; his work fearlessly explored wildly dissonant harmonies and atonality, dense group interaction, cerebral rumination, and passionately intense, free-leaning solos.
A soul survivor in every sense of the term, this alto saxophonist is one of the few remaining jazz artists who made a major impact on the jazz community via an extensive run with producer Alfred Lion and the Blue Note label (Horace Silver being another Blue Note legend that comes to mind). From his first recordings for the label with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, it was clear that Lou Donaldson put melody and sound at a premium, coming up with an amalgam that combined the creamy smoothness of Johnny Hodges with the quicksilver bop inflections of Charlie Parker.
During his comeback years (1959-62) after a decade mostly off the scene, tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec recorded frequently for Blue Note. He started off with a session aimed at the 45 jukebox market and, although he eventually made a few full-length albums for the label, Quebec cut four 45 dates over a two-and-a-half-year period. This double-disc set has all of the jukebox sessions. Most of the 26 selections clock in between four and seven minutes and have long melody statements in addition to concise and soulful solos. Quebec, who was in consistently prime form during his last period, is joined by groups featuring either Skeeter Best or Willie Jones on guitar and Edwin Swanston, Sir Charles Thompson, or Earl Van Dyke on organ. Fun, loose and highly enjoyable music.
The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions is an attractive six-disc box set featuring all of Dexter Gordon's '60s recordings for the label in chronological order. Such classic albums as Dexter Calling and Go! were recorded during these years, and they are presented in their entirety, as are two complete sessions that have been previously unavailable on CD and several unreleased alternate takes. For serious Gordon fans and musicologists, it's an essential collection, but its very thoroughness makes it less appealing to casual fans, who would be better off acquiring the individual albums.
The use of multiphonics in jazz has been mastered by very few players, and while at times shrill and thin, can be enlivening and exciting. Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Albert Mangelsdorff set the gold standard, while several trumpeters like Rayse Biggs and Corey Wilkes have tried it with two brass instruments, and contemporary saxophonist Jeff Coffin gives it ago. George Braith holds a singularly unique place in the pantheon of these stylistas, following the path of Kirk in playing two saxophones while combining bop and soul-jazz. This set represents the complete works of Braith on Blue Note in 1963 and 1964 from the albums Two Souls in One, Soul Stream, and Extension.