Among the former are "It's Time," by alto sax man Jackie McLean, who died recently; Solomon Ilori's "African High Life"; thunderous drummer Art Blakey's "A Message from Blakey: Holiday for Skins"; and the "Pax," by Andrew Hill.
"Pax" was a 1965 session that went unreleased for 10 years and this edition also includes two other tunes from the session previously released only on Hill's seven-disc Mosaic Records box set. Why this quintet session featuring trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, drummer Joe Chambers and now-Madison-based bassist Richard Davis languished for so long is a mystery. This line-up was leading the "New Thing" at Blue Note at the time and swings here. The same band -- with Sam Rivers replacing Henderson -- reunited two months later to record Bobby Hutcherson's phenomenal "Dialogue" and if this doesn't shout instant classic like the Hutcherson set, it definitely set the stage, thanks to Hill's engaging compositions and the musicians' fiery spirit.
This still leaves me awaiting a long overdue reissue of Hill's "Compulsion," despite the fact that Jack Grassel assures me it's a low point in Hill's Blue Note oeuvre.
"It's Time" was among a string of discs that McLean recorded for Blue Note in the first half of the 1960s that stand as his best work and one of the best runs any jazz musician has ever had. Once a Bird watcher, McLean jumped head first into new experimentation without discarding his bebop past. The result, on this 1964 session -- and the others -- is that he built a bridge from the old to the new and helped listeners, who can often be leery, get across.
The Blakey and Ilori discs are from 1958 and 1963-'64, respectively, but take similarly percussion…Read more...