OnMilwaukee.com's music madman Bobby Tanzilo selects six new records he can't stop listening to.
Jazz fans rejoiced when Blue Note started reissuing the treasures in its vault in the '80s. When the CD era really kicked in and the Connoisseur Series upped the ante, it was even better. But now Blue Note is really digging deep as part of the more inexpensive RVG Series and our appetites are getting quenched.
The latest batch of reissues includes the much-sought after "Smoke Stack," Chicago pianist Andrew Hill's second session for the label -- recorded in 1963 -- although released as his fourth LP for Blue Note (in 1966).
Like Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols before him, Hill wowed label boss Alfred Lion with his groundbreaking compositions and his ceaseless exploration. That's why Lion had Hill in the studio so much that he could barely afford to keep pace with releasing them.
On "Smoke Stack" Hill built an unusual combo, arming himself with drummer Roy Haynes and two bassists: Eddie Khan and Richard Davis (who taught for many years at UW-Madison). Without the presence of a horn player or vibist Bobby Hutcherson, Hill's own piano skills are up front here and the bass players take turns in support roles and featured positions.
Wrapped in one of Blue Note's finest sleeves -- which is really saying something -- "Smoke Stack," which is augmented here with the same four alternate takes that were added to the 1995 Connoisseur Series version, remains a jazz masterpiece and an enthralling collection.
A couple other gems have also arrived from Blue Note: Stanley Turrentine's orchestrated "Joyride" and Horace Silver's swingin' "Horace-Scope."
The first was a 1965 session that combined soul jazz stars Turrentine, guitarist Kenny Burrell and drummer Gray Tate with pianist Herbie Hancock and bassist Bob Cranshaw. But this was far from a normal funky outing as arranger and conductor Oliver Nelson led an orchestra that created an almost big band/soul jazz hybrid that would a…Read more...