cedarwalton

Lee Morgan ‘Sonic Boom’

Other than the title track, this terrific hard-bop session was recorded this day, 28 April, 1967. Morgan is backed by frequent collaborators Cedar Walton-piano, Ron Carter-bass, and Billy Higgins-drums; as well as new-to-this-crew David “Fathead” Newman on tenor sax. Shelved Session Syndrome vaulted this material until release in 1979 on the LT series with its trademark Windham-Hill-by-angsty-teen artwork. The CD issue adds a discs-worth of bonus tracks that were originally paired with the 1978 Twofer Classics issue of ’The Procrastinator’. (Note: those bonus tracks were also issued as a standalone LP in Japan-only as ‘Lee Morgan and His All-Star Sextet’, but what fun would collecting be without confusion and additional expense, right?) All the tunes are solid, up/mid tempo Morgan originals, save the ballad “I’ll Never Be The Same”. ’Sonic Boom’ tends to get a bit lost in Morgan’s late 60s discography, all of which is worth exploring as he never really made a dud of a record. Seems like until recently you could find original pressings of ‘Sonic Boom’ pretty easily/inexpensively but like all Blue Notes, the prices seem to be creeping up they are getting scarcer. I’d certainly say that it’s worth acquiring if you run across a copy. There is a Scorpio pressing from 2009 sourced from CD that’s cheap if you don’t mind a RINO or want a filler/shelf copy until you can locate a better one. I’d rank it maybe a notch below ’The Procrastinator’ but as I have a particular love for that record, my personal bias is in play. But absolutely get ’The Procrastinator’ first…that record RULES

Stop Over

The latest release in the BBE J Jazz Masterclass series has dropped on vinyl, CD, and across the digital spectrum, and it’s a stone-cold, hard-bop killer. As only 100 copies of ‘Stop Over’ were pressed back in 1976, the rarity/reputation of this Japanese quintet’s performance had traveled to many more ears than the music itself. So this is a very welcome reissue, done to the usual high standards of this series overseen by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden. The two LPs are cut at 45RPM for optimal sound, and my ears say “mission accomplished.” Here and there, it seems the original recording does emphasize the drums, though not in an off-putting way, and I’d say if anything the occasional ride cymbal at the fore only ramps up the intensity. The terrific liner notes by @the_jazz_dad will tell you all you ever wanted to know about how this record was made, and there’s also a new essay from pianist Toshiyuki Sekine which provides a firsthand narrative that provides additional context, presenting a complete picture of that moment in time. It makes for great reading, and the immersion of a good essay in a gatefold cover is a particular joy that…well, you either know it or you don’t. The songs include Bobby Hutcherson’s “Little B’s Poem,” Danny Zeitlin’s “Carole’s Garden,” Todd Dameron’s “Soultrane,” and Cedar Walton’s “Turquoise Twice”; along with the Sasaki original ‘Stop Over’ (which made its first appearance on last years J-Jazz Vol 2 collection, also from). The quintet is Noriyasu Watanabe-alto sax, Hideto Sasaki-trumpet, Toshiyuki Sekine-piano, Kei Narita-bass, and Takaski Kurosaki-drums. If you dig the sound of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers when they’re firing on all cylinders, this’ll blow you away. All of the BBE J-Jazz compilations and the Masterclass Series have been eye/ear-opening, and wildly satisfying—recommended to all, jazz newbies and experts will find lots to love here. Here’s hoping the series will continue

Eastern Rebellion

‘Eastern Rebellion’ is an extraordinary, modal/advanced hard bop session from 1975 when it wasn’t particularly fashionable to make records like this. The five long-ish tunes are expertly played by the quartet of George Coleman (tenor sax), Cedar Walton (piano), Sam Jones (bass) and Billy Higgins (drums). This mix on this record is FANTASTIC—there’s a power in this session that the recording engineers captured perfectly, and it leaps from the speakers like the grooves in the vinyl remain charged with energy. Cedar Walton is the de facto leader of the group, kicking things off with his infectious original “Bolivia”—that bassline is quite an earworm, and Sam Jones is mixed nice n’ loud. Walton also kills it on “Mode for Joe,” which he wrote for Joe Henderson. The quartet’s take on “Naima” is TERRIFIC, and a highlight of the record. George Coleman also turns in a superb performance throughout, and the overall chemistry of the quartet results in a killer album that does not AT ALL sound like a child of the 1970s. ‘Eastern Rebellion’ was the first record to be released on the Dutch label Timeless (SJP 101), and it was also issued in the US on the Muse label (TI 306). It’s widely available across the digital spectrum too! This record doesn’t get talked about enough, and at a time when I see an influx of DMs with requests for records that are a bit off the beaten path, this seems like a good choice for a spin