The Modern Jazz Quartet - La Ronde (1952)
From NPR’s Basic Jazz Record Library:
[H]ere is someone who has taken the approach that no, we will play the music with dignity that serious music ought to have. And the MJQ was absolutely a dignified and very serious ensemble. There was also the fact that John Lewis was unashamedly interested in European composition — particularly baroque music. You’ll hear a lot of references to Johann Sebastian Bach and other baroque composers in his style of writing. And that just wasn’t done at the time. A lot of counterpoint…a lot of fugues in it.
Bobby Timmons - White Christmas (1964)
Bobby Timmons - Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (1964)
Apologies for the Scrooge-like sound quality, but there is no digitally remastered version of this excellent collection of Bobby Timmons playing Christmas tunes. You definitely haven’t heard these traditionals swing harder than they do in the hands of Timmons, Butch Warren and Walter Perkins; Warren’s bass solo is particularly lyrical and betrays the singular solo voice he possessed.
Unfortunately, a poor-quality vinyl rip is the only version you’re gonna get under this tree.
Merry Merry Y’all.
Bobby Timmons - Giblets (1966)
Happy Thanksgiving y’all. Despite my aversion to thematic song titles, Mr. Timmons makes it ok.
Bobby Timmons - Trick Hips (1964)
Great vibes from an outstanding album.
Yusef Lateef - The Plum Blossom (1961)
Yusef Lateef’s exploration of Indian modes color this beautiful recording, featuring Barry Harris’ succinct piano voicings and Lex Humphries’ ultra-feathery drum work.
Dig that oboe.
Jackie McLean and John Coltrane during Mal Waldron’s Mal-2 session, Hackensack NJ, April 19 1957 (photo by Esmond Edwards)
Eric Dolphy with Mal Waldron - Warm Canto (1961)
“Warm Canto” is a sensuous, “warm” Waldron composition that brings to mind the work of classical composer Ferde Grofe. Eric Dolphy’s rare and masterful appearance on clarinet is relaxed, serene, and profoundly beautiful.
Harold Mabern - Strozier’s Mode (1969)
This track cooks. Mabern was cranking out challenging jazz music in ‘69, even as the prevailing jazz winds were blowing in a rock and roll direction. In addition to his own ripping solo, Mabern gets excellent support here from George Coleman and a crack rhythm section of Idris Muhammad (Leo Morris) and Buster Williams on bass.
Bobby Timmons - This Is All I Ask
Happy birthday Mr. Timmons. Let’s hear this one again and raise a glass to your inestimable genius.
Bobby Timmons with Johnny Lytle, This Is All I Ask
This Is All I Ask - Bobby Timmons with Johnny Lytle (Workin’ Out, 1964)
Man alive, I’m feeling this one right now.
Harold Mabern - John Neely-Beautiful People (1970)
This is not an easy one to track down. Lee Morgan (in one of his final sideman appearances) and Hubert Laws make up a great front line, and the uber-funky bass/drum team of Buster Williams and Idris Muhammad (nee Leo Morris) team up with Harold Mabern on the final cut from his last record for Prestige. Thumbs to the sky.
Harold Mabern - Rakin’ and Scrapin’ (1968)
I first heard Mabern with Hank Mobley on Dippin’. It’s easy to see why he was a first-choice pianist among the great hornmen of Mabern’s day, with his groovy yet sympathetic two-fisted Memphis chops. Along with another Memphian, George Coleman, and the great Blue Mitchell, Mabern digs up a solid groove on this Prestige release from 1968.
Cedar Walton - Sundown Express (1969)
Electric piano FTW.
Bobby Timmons - O Grande Amor (1965)
This is Bobby Timmons’ jaunty interpretation of the great Jobim bossa nova classic, with sensitive accompaniment from Keter Betts and Albert “Tootie” Heath.