Vincent Herring is complemented by rising young trumpeter Jeremy Pelt on this enjoyable studio date. "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" is a standard from the swing era, though the quintet translates it into a hard bop vehicle very well, with the leader throwing in a quick reference to another song ("Kerry Dance") from long ago. Herring is a bit playful in his treatment of the ballad "You Leave Me Breathless," while he handles McCoy Tyner's explosive "Four by Five" with finesse. But most of the session is devoted to originals by the band. Bassist Richie Goods contributed the funky, infectious "Citizen of Zamunda," which showcases the leader on his dancing soprano sax. Pianist Danny Grissert, who evidently made his recording debut with this CD, not only proves himself as a capable soloist, but also penned the exciting "Hopscotch" (marked by its use of stop time) and the tense "Encounters."
This remastered two-fer combines guitarist Mel Brown's second Impulse release from 1968, The Wizard, with Blues for We released the following year. The Wizard is a straight-ahead soul-jazz date picking up where Chicken Fat left off with a few originals alongside funky renditions of “Ode to Billie Joe” and Pee Wee Crayton’s R&B hit of the late '40s “Blues After Hours.” Blues for We relies more on an interesting selection of cover versions ranging from “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “Son of a Preacher Man” to the bubblegum staple by the 1910 Fruitgum Company “Indian Giver” and Acker Bilk’s “Stranger on the Shore,” which was the theme of a BBC television drama. Brown’s guitar work on both sessions is fluid and greasy, as are the funky drum licks, but occasionally, the arrangements drift into superior background music. New liner notes are absent, but the original packaging – front and back cover art and liner notes – remain intact.
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Enchanting generations of fans, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900, was written by a man whose life was nearly as adventurous as his heroine Dorothy’s legendary trip. Ambitious and always drawn to the unconventional, L. Frank Baum was not just the author of more than sixty books; he was at the forefront of moving picture technology and championed women’s rights. A unique celebration of Baum’s life, The Real Wizard of Oz explores the eventful times in which Baum lived (1856-1919), which influenced nearly every aspect of the Oz tales — from the Civil War to Hollywood (which was emerging as a mecca for creative hopefuls) to the gulf between America’s heartland, with its tornado alleys and its cities teeming with “Tin Man” factory workers.