"LIVE AT THE DAKOTA"
Technically, it would be wrong to label soul-blues singer Barbara Morrison a throwback to the days of Dinah Washington, Helen Humes and the Ettas — Jones and James — because their times have overlapped.
Today, however, Morrison remains the most active due to death and infrequent work of the others. She remains true to the blues whether she is shouting out "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water," or taking on Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love." That one also features a pleading tenor solo by Houston Person.
Person isn't the only soul-blues instrumentalist on board to assist Morrison. Pianist Junior Mance — who is numero uno in my book — bassist Earl May and drummer Jackie Williams are all key to the success of this live recording.
Just how key is made very clear on "Chains of Love," when Person solos over a greasy Mance piano. Morrison caps it with her singing imitation of Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson.
Morrison is simply the best out there at what she does.
"PRESTIGE PROFILES — JACKIE MCLEAN"
Once you hear Jackie Mc Lean's edgy alto sound, you will always be able to recognize that sound once referred to by a journalist as "sugar-free."
This is all re-released material and an opportunity for those who weren't around or into jazz the first time to enhance their collections. "Strange Blues," a swinging blues, is the opener, and features pianist Mal Waldron and drummer Art Taylor. McLean's moody ballad "Mirage" is next, and we get to hear a muted Bill Hardman trumpet behind McLean's opening statement.
The late and former Portland resident, trumpeter Webster Young, is heard along with trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist Bill Coggins, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Louis Hayes on "What's New." Other tunes include "Embraceable You," "Alto Madness," "Our Love is Here to Stay," "Lights Out" and "Sentimental Journey."
"PRESTIGE PROFILES — SONNY ROLLINS
Despite its heavyweight cast of musicians — plus tenor giant Sonny Rollins — this release merits only three stars.
That is because there are two five-star cuts, "In a Sentimental Mood" and "Tenor Madness," but the rest range from a paltry two stars — "My Ideal" — to three or four — tunes like "More Than You Know," "On a Slow Boat to China" and "Mambo Bounce."
"In a Sentimental Mood" is the prettiest by far, with the Modern Jazz Quartet backing Rollins. It's particularly beautiful on Rollins' first solo, when he is accompanied softly and underneath by vibist Milt Jackson. The other major standout is "Tenor Madness," a 12:18 version with John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. Even though each brings his own distinctive sound, during their longer solos it's fun trying to tell whether it's Rollins or Coltrane when they are trading fours at the end.
The one track that could have been dropped was a pathetic vocal by Earl Coleman, who sounded like a way over-the-hill Billy Eckstine on "My Ideal."
Recorded live at Vancouver, B.C.'s Cellar Club, this is classic quintet jazz anchored by saxophonist P.J. Perry, who is heard on both alto and tenor.
He opens with Horace Silver's "St. Vitus Dance," a hard bop delight. His alto soars and then settles in for some beautiful unison work with trumpeter Bobby Shew.
The tempo doesn't let up as the group even accelerates on Shew's "Counting Down." Perry leads off and gets to stretch out. Pianist Ross Taggart follows, setting the stage for Shew.
Perry switches to tenor on "Melody For Thelma," blowing long melodic lines after a nice warm flugelhorn solo by Shew. The name P.J. Perry may not be the most familiar, but if he becomes a part of your collection, it's a name you will come to call on more and more.