Kenny Drew Trio - Yesterdays (1953)
Deep cuts from the Blue Note vault.
Grant Green - Freedom March (1961)
There are almost too many Grant Green records to count, but a handful are truly essential. This is one. Ben Tucker and pianist Kenny Drew, in particular, shine on this cut, whose title celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King’s early 60’s marches to help establish racial equality in America.
Kenny Dorham - Sunset (1961)
From Ira Gitler’s original liner notes:
This is an expressive piece. You can almost feel the chill of evening descending after a hot, dry southwestern day. Kenny’s muted trumpet sensitively heralds the night and Mobley’s tenor suggests the lengthening shadows.
I have a big soft spot for each one of these hard bop heavies, but especially for the Dorham/Mobley front line. This LP is magic all around and highly recommended.
Jackie McLean - Street Singer (1960)
Before McLean journeyed into more avant-garde explorations, he was the quintessential hard bopper. This Tina Brooks composition, which also appears on Brooks’ posthumously released LP Back To The Tracks, is the definition of small-ensemble hard bop that Blue Note helped perfect in the late 50s and early 60s. The tense yet swinging melody that Brooks achieves on this cut is almost impossible to forget.
Kenny Drew during John Coltrane’s Blue Train session, Hackensack NJ, September 15, 1957 (photo by Francis Wolff)
Miles Davis, Kenny Drew, Art Blakey and Jimmy Heath during rehearsal for Davis’s All Stars session in NYC, April 20, 1953 (photo by Francis Wolff)
Kenny Drew - Funk-cosity (1960)
This was Kenny Drew’s last of two LPs as a leader for Blue Note before a semi-permanent move to Europe, and it drips with hard-bop class from the opening note. The set is punctuated by vibrant performances from a young Freddie Hubbard and the in-form Hank Mobley, who only a month before had both connected on Hubbard’s debut Goin’ Up and Mobley’s Roll Call. The Cannonball Adderley vets Louis Hayes and Sam Jones deftly underpin these deep-in-the-pocket proceedings.