One of several excellent hard bop pianists from the Memphis area, Harold Mabern has led relatively few dates through the years, but he has always been respected by his contemporaries. He played in Chicago with MJT + 3 in the late '50s and then moved to New York in 1959. Mabern worked with Jimmy Forrest, Lionel Hampton, the Jazztet (1961-1962), Donald Byrd, Miles Davis (1963), J.J. Johnson (1963-1965), Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, Joe Williams (1966-1967), and Sarah Vaughan. During 1968-1970, Mabern led four albums for Prestige, he was with Lee Morgan in the early '70s, and in 1972, he recorded with Stanley Cowell's Piano Choir. Harold Mabern has recorded as a leader for DIW/Columbia and Sackville and toured with the Contemporary Piano Ensemble (1993-1995).
Trevor Dunn's Trio-Convulsant is back for their second album, although with a completely different lineup (besides Dunn, of course). Adam Levy and Kenny Wollesen are gone, replaced by Mary Halvorson on guitar and Ches Smith on drums. The music they play is not so much a fusion of styles as it is a collision of styles. Almost straight-ahead jazz noodling gives way to hardcore blasts and crunching power chords, then completely devolves into Derek Bailey territory, but the band is always together. You can tell that some of it is quite composed, and that other sections are most likely entirely improvised.
This was the perfect setting during his later years. The trumpeter (who also sings on two of the six songs) sounds very relaxed and comfortable while accompanied by the duo of guitarist Doug Raney and bassist Niels Pedersen, taking some consistently lyrical solos on the six standards.
The name Young Guns seems ironically amiss until one learns that this recording dates from 1968-69 when organist Gene Ludwig was thirty years old, guitarist Pat Martino twenty-three and drummer Randy Gelispie somewhere in that neighborhood, long before he became fondly known as "Uncle G." The organ trio was in its heyday then, and this one was caught on tape during an exciting live date at Club 118 in Louisville, KY. How many other such performances have been lost forever owing to the absence of a tape recorder or the failure to turn it on is anyone's guess. But this one, thank goodness, has been preserved for present-day ears to appreciate.
An outstanding veteran pianist from Spain, Tete Montoliu was born blind. He learned to read music in Braille when he was seven and developed impressive technique on piano. He recorded with Lionel Hampton in 1956, had his first session as a leader in 1958, and played with the touring Roland Kirk in 1963. Through the years, he also worked with such visiting Americans as Kenny Dorham, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster, Lucky Thompson, and even Anthony Braxton. Tete Montoliu's visits to the U.S. were very infrequent, but his SteepleChase albums (starting in 1971) are generally available; he also cut one date for Contemporary (1979) and recorded for Enja and Soul Note.
This profound, yet still often light-hearted, E flat Trio was written in the same month (November) that Schubert completed Winterreise. We are instantly reminded of this in the Florestan's eloquent and aptly paced account of the C minor Andante con moto, with what Richard Wigmore describes as its 'stoical trudging gait'.
The Wanderers are among the elite piano, violin and cello combinations, and these great works are signature pieces: they take their name from the Schubert song and these pieces are cornerstones of their repertoire (previously available separately)
One of the finest European jazz pianists of all time, Martial Solal (a unique stylist) has never received as much recognition in the U.S. as he deserves. Born in Algiers to French parents, Solal has been based in Paris since the late '40s. Although a modernist, he was flexible enough to record an album with Sidney Bechet in 1957 and make other records with Django Reinhardt, Don Byas, and Lucky Thompson. Solal has been primarily heard with his own trios through the years although he has recorded several notable albums with Lee Konitz.