On their umpteenth release, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama mix some modern blues and R&B into their core gospel sound. The rhythm section, led by the organ of the legendary Booker T. Jones, keeps the accompaniment simple as the group soars through some traditional material ("Closer Walk with Thee," "Every Time I Feel the Spirit, "), a few originals by lead vocalist Clarence Fountain, and a transcendent version of Bob Dylan's "I Believe in You."
The great American musical invention of the 20th century, jazz is an ever-youthful, still evolving music of beauty, sensitivity, and brilliance that has produced (and been produced by) an extraordinary progression of talented artists. JAZZ: The Smithsonian Anthology traces the turning points in its history through its legendary innovators among them Armstrong, Ellington, Basie, Parker, Gillespie, Davis, Hancock, Corea, Marsalis and notable styles, from early ragtime to
international modernism and every major movement in between.
The jazz tones here are mighty nice — on a record that sparkles with some of Buddy DeFranco's best music ever ! As with other Verve dates from the time, this DeFranco outing's got a rhythmic pulse that really gets things going — a sense of swing that's nice and lean, but quite powerful too — pushing Buddy past any cliched clarinet modes of the 50s, into a realm that really unlocks new sax-like sounds in his horn! The piano has a lot to do with the record – played here by either Kenny Drew or Sonny Clark — with bass from Milt Hinton or Gene Wright, and drums from Art Blakey and Bobby White.
Guitarist Gabor Szabo's debut as a leader (after an important stint with the Chico Hamilton Quintet) is surprisingly successful. The reason this LP is a bit of a surprise is that the repertoire (in addition to two originals apiece by the leader and Gary McFarland) has a few unlikely songs by the Beatles ("Yesterday" and "If I Fell") and Burt Bacharach (including "Walk On By"). Usually jazz adaptations of rock songs in the 1960s are lightweight, but Szabo's original sound, the unusual instrumentation (two or three guitars, Sadao Watanabe on flute, Gary McFarland on marimba, bass, drums and percussion) and McFarland's clever arrangements uplift the music. The playing time at 35 minutes is a bit brief, but the performances are better than expected.
This album will raise eyebrows. After all, didn't Johnny Hates Jazz have only one hit song? Forget the band's brief popularity on the American charts. Johnny Hates Jazz was a vastly underrated group, a British pop act whose handsome looks blinded many to the talent bubbling underneath the surface. Most of the record consists of tracks from the band's debut LP, Turn Back the Clock, and their lesser-known follow-up, Tall Stories. Tall Stories was recorded after vocalist Clark Datchler left the group, replaced by Phil Thornalley. Since the long-deleted Tall Stories is hard to find, this might be the only opportunity for fans to hear songs from it. Three of them are collected here: "Let Me Change Your Mind," "Last to Know," and "Fool's Gold." Sounding no different than anything on Turn Back the Clock, these tracks prove that Johnny Hates Jazz didn't lose their knack for soulful, danceable hooks after Datchler's departure. Given that Turn Back the Clock has no filler, the songs taken from that album shouldn't been seen as providing the complete picture.
A magnificent follow up to the Undercurrent album from the team of Bill Evans and Jim Hall – and like that one, a set that features amazing interplay between piano and guitar! Hall's guitar has never sounded better – and in the airy company of Evans, it takes on many of the same qualities as on his famous late 50s recordings in the Jimmy Guiffre trio. Bill's work is great too – almost more tonally focused than before, with perfectly chosen notes that resonate beautifully in this very spare space. Titles include "Jazz Samba", "All Across The City", "Angel Face", and "Turn Out The Stars".
Sweet and lovely – but plenty darn soulful too – and one of the excellent early 50s Verve dates that features the piano of Sonny Clark with the clarinet of Buddy DeFranco ! The album's got an even more unusual twist in that it features a bit of organ from Clark too – one of his only recordings on the instrument – as well as guitar from Tal Farlow on a number of tracks – another leading light of the fresh Verve sound of the 50s, really working some great music next to Buddy's horn.
A great one from Buddy DeFranco — exactly the kind of record that will make you understand why jazz collectors have always prized his Verve Records work so much ! Although Buddy's given instrument, the clarinet, was one that was handled by so many others at the time in kind of an outmoded way — DeFranco always managed to keep things fresh and modern, drawing heavily on bop inspiration for a record like this, yet also remaining true to his roots too.