kennyburrell

Kenny Burrell ‘Freedom’

Kenny Burrell’s ‘Freedom’ is an under-discussed title in his discography. It combines two different sessions, one from March 1963 with Hank Jones-piano/organ, Seldon Powell-baritone sax/flute, Milt Hinton-bass, & Osie Johnson-drums; and one from Oct 1964 with Stanley Turrentine-tenor sax, Herbie Hancock-piano, Ben Tucker-bass, Bill English-drums, & Ray Barreto-congas. Allegedly, both sessions were difficult, with multiple takes required before achieving satisfactory results, and neither session producing enough material for a full album. So both sessions were shelved, and Burrell—who only did a couple of sessions as a sideman for Blue Note in between those recording dates, including the excellent ‘Hustlin’ LP with Turrentine—wouldn’t record for the label as a leader again until his return to Blue Note in the mid-80s for a couple of live records. ‘Freedom’ made its first appearance in Japan on LP in 1979, and in the US via Music Matters in 2011 (this pressing, 2 X LP @ 45RPM). So far as I know, there is no digital or CD version. Given the differences in session dates and players, the material covers quite a bit of ground, from funky soul-jazz to evening, hard-bop grooves that sound like they could have been outtakes from ‘Midnight Blue.’ A different take on “K Twist” does appear on ‘Midnight Blue,’ but I’ll leave it up to you as to which version you’d like to call the “outtake.” All of the material is strong, and both sessions were very well recorded by the Notorious RVG—I can see why Music Matters chose such relatively obscure sessions for release. The tracks may be individually scattered across compilations, box sets and playlists, though a quick scan of the digital services doesn’t look promising. Too bad…this is great stuff

Paul Chambers ‘Bass on Top’

Sophisticated. Elegant. Marvelous. I disagree vehemently with the All Music Guide regarding Paul Chambers ‘Bass on Top’. Not in its numerical judgement (9/10 is about right) but it refers to this record as “straight ahead jazz” and I think that sells this record far short. While there’s no knotty, angular/avant or out-of-the-box structures or compositions here, Chambers’ instinct for creating an atmosphere and savvy choice of material/bandmates puts this session a cut above. The lack of horns and prominent bass in the mix leaves much of the melodic heavy lifting to guitarist Kenny Burrell and pianist Hank Jones, while drummer Art Taylor is brilliantly understated in his playing and presence. “Chamber jazz” was the term someone once used when describing this record to me some years back, and I think that’s just about perfect. You be the judge—it’s an excellent listen and Chambers arco (bowed) playing sounds particularly EXCELLENT. The liner notes also sent me down the rabbit hole and when you absorb all that Chambers accomplished, it’s kinda mind boggling. In 1957 alone at age 21, this was his third LP as a leader, and remarkable to think he even had time for it in between playing on Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’, @milesdavis ‘Miles Ahead’, Curtis Fuller’s ’The Opener’, Red Garland’s ‘Groovy’, Oliver Nelson’s ‘The Blues and the Abstract Truth’, Art Pepper ‘Meets the Rhythm Section’, Johnny Griffin’s ’The Congregation’, Lee Morgan’s ‘Vol. 3’ and other legendary records by Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Clark, Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd and Gil Evans. Don’t even get me started on what he did the years before (Monk’s ‘Brilliant Corners’ for starters) and after (ya know…’Kind of Blue’), only to succumb to tuberculosis in 1969 at age 33. He left quite the recorded legacy, and while I’m not familiar with his other sessions as a leader (recommendations anyone?) this record is a keeper. This is a 2014 Japanese reissue DBLP-060, part of the “From The Original Master Tapes” series which are mono cuts by Kevin Gray, and heavy stock/glossy jackets meant to replicate the original pressings. Beautiful job @bluenoterecords