SHM-CD reissue. Comes with a mini-description. Features new remastering if it comes from Parlophone. A Johnny Smith album with a real difference, and that difference is vibes – handled her by a young John Rae, whose tones make a perfect accompaniment to Smith's chromatic style of guitar! The balance of vibes and guitar is beautiful – handled with all that sense of space that both Johns could bring to their 50s work – with just a bit of extra help from George Roumanis on bass and John Lee on drums – players who can come in strong when needed, but often lay back and let the chromes take over!
As part of ECM'0bs Old & New Masters series of box sets, John Abercrombie's The First Quartet collects three albums recorded for the label between 1978 and 1980. Two titles, 1979's Abercrombie Quartet and 1981's M, have been unavailable for decades. By the guitarist's own admission, this band represents the guitarist's first time as a "proper" bandleader. His earlier dates on ECM had been co-led sessions (Timeless, Gateway, Sargasso Sea), a solo album (Characters), and sideman gigs (Jack DeJohnette's New Directions, David Liebman's Lookout Farm, etc.). These three dates also represent an important foundation for Abercrombie as a composer.
John Surman's thoughtful solos (which take their time and make a liberal use of space) have long made him the perfect ECM artist. On his quartet set with pianist John Taylor, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer John Marshall, Surman mostly sticks to soprano although there are some short spots for his baritone and bass clarinet. Surman always sounds relaxed, even on the more heated originals. It's an interesting set of generally introverted music.
One of the turning points in the career of John Coltrane came in 1965. The great saxophonist, whose playing was always very explorative and searching, crossed the line into atonality during that year, playing very free improvisations (after stating quick throwaway themes) that were full of passion and fury. This particular studio album has two standards (a stirring "Chim Chim Cheree" and "Nature Boy") along with two recent Coltrane originals ("Brazilia" and "Song of Praise"). Art Davis plays the second bass on "Nature Boy," but otherwise this set (a perfect introduction for listeners to Coltrane's last period) features the classic quartet comprised of the leader, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones.
John Coltrane's Crescent from the spring of 1964 is an epic album, showing his meditative side that would serve as a perfect prelude to his immortal work A Love Supreme. His finest quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones supports the somewhat softer side of Coltrane, and while not completely in ballad style, the focus and accessible tone of this recording work wonders for anyone willing to sit back and let this music enrich and wash over you. While not quite at the "sheets of sound" unfettered music he would make before his passing in 1967, there are hints of this group stretching out in restrained dynamics, playing as lovely a progressive jazz as heard anywhere in any time period.
Throughout John Coltrane's discography there are a handful of decisive and controversial albums that split his listening camp into factions. Generally, these occur in his later-period works such as Om and Ascension, which push into some pretty heady blowing. As a contrast, Ballads is often criticized as too easy and as too much of a compromise between Coltrane and Impulse! (the two had just entered into the first year of label representation). Seen as an answer to critics who found his work complicated with too many notes and too thin a concept, Ballads has even been accused of being a record that Coltrane didn't want to make.
The album newly remastered from the original master tapes. John Coltrane assembles a 20-piece band for these three songs. There's McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman, Elvin Jones, and 16 others. It's heavy on brass, per the title, there are five french horns, for example. There are notable players like Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, and Julian Priester in the band, but the solos are by Coltrane, Tyner, or Jones. The orchestration was done by Coltrane, Tyner, and Dolphy. The liner notes say Dolphy did a lot of it, later it came out Tyner did more (though Dolphy was no longer around to argue the point). It's not really a big band in the Duke Ellington style, but with all of the horns, it's certainly a big band.