April's roundup of some of the records currently on rotation for our guest reviewer Gbadebo Ogunlami.
Bud Powell - Time Waits
Bud Powell’s recently-released 'Time Waits' in the Blue Note Classic series is an excellent entre to bebop. This pianist’s compositions and his driving right hand lyrically invite listeners to dance the rhumba to 'Buster Rides Again'. On 'Time Waits', the only ballad on this record date, the trio slows down the tempo and beguiles. Philly Joe Jones thrills and snaps out the rhythm alongside the metronomic walking bass of Sam Jones with Bud cooking on 'Marmalade'. This Classics series record is an audiophile gem, an exceptional trio on a quality pressing at a budget price.
Grant Green - The Latin Bit
Grant Green’s “Latin Bit” is a recently issued addition to the Blue Note Tone Poet series. Joe Hartley, the Tone Poet, curates these audiophile-quality re-issues from the Blue Note discography. This record contains music so beautiful you should buy it. Willie Bobo on drums injects polyrhythms that interlace Grant Green’s ease on guitar. This record swings. Place it on your turntable and struggle to remove it from rotation. “Mambo Inn” is an upbeat starting track. “Besame Mucho” will have your partner curl up to you. This music is accessible and feels good. From “Brazil” through to “My Little Suede Shoes”, this record had me toe-tapping to the Latin beat.
Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (Verve Acoustic Sounds Series)
This recording date is two different Coltrane records in one. First for side one. On the first track, 'In A Sentimental Mood', John Coltrane's tone is sad. On 'Take the Coltrane', he cuts loose. The bagpipe and harmonica-like note-splitting soprano solos on 'Big Nick' can be challenging. The swing purist within my jazz soul prefers the rat tat-tat-rim hits and the double bass sashay call and response between Aaron Bell and Sam Woodyard on 'Stevie'. Now for side two. It contains some of the most beautifully languorous bursts of woody sounding Coltrane solos. Duke's chorded accompaniment showcases Bell and Woodyard. Sorry Jones and Garrison, much respect, but those cats smoked you on this recording date.
Milt Jackson - Milt Jackson and The Thelonious Monk Quartet
Mellow music is often underrated. This date's music is archival, although the recording does not match the tonal transparency required. Milt's slower vibraharp's solos on 'Lillie and Tahiti' would be challenging for any recording engineer to capture due to the time-bending nuances they contain. In 'Bags Groove', Lou Donaldson's stern alto tone is a precursor to bebop's modernity. Milt's shimmering speed on 'On The Scene' drives him on to split notes. The playing here of Monk quintet and Milt provides glimpses of what was to come from them. This record features the excellent musicians of the Modern Jazz Quartet, which became a seminal group in the jazz canon. These are consummate jazz musicians playing, and their record date grows on you. Please do not dismiss it on the first, second, or third listen. It is tonally challenging but takes you into the world of Milt and Monk, from which you may never escape.
Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
This 1998 record, 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill', has been re-issued, pressed on heavyweight 180-gram back vinyl, as a double LP. In its time, it was a ground-breaking expression of vulnerability on a hip-hop album. It was deep. After it, Lauryn Hill walked away from music just as she had gone solo, leaving the Fugees after their album 'The Score'. Both albums should be in your music collections. You will be asked later on why you do not have them.