These three discs by jazz saxophonists return to print sessions originally distributed by Music Masters, the jazz label that in the late '80s and into the '90s released new titles and previously unreleased recordings by established jazz musicians. Nimbus Records, a British label, has licensed a number of those recordings, and in addition to these three discs have reissued live recordings by Duke Ellington, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, and Benny Goodman.
Stanley Turrentines T Time, released in 1995, suffers a bit from an attempt to show too many sides of the tenor player. The greasy soul funk of "Dont Mess With Mr. T." contains echoes of Turrentines work with Jimmy Smith and Grant Green, while "I Havent Got Anything Better to Do" lets him demonstrate how sensitive his ballad playing could be. His take on Coltranes "Impressions" is the best thing on the disc, with all the players in cracking good form. Dave Styker turns in a burning solo (with an occasional nod to Wes Montgomery) and Kenny Drew has a very strong feature on the tune, as does the leader. "The Island" and "Side Steppin" are reminiscent of Turrentines worst work for CTI, while "A Little Sweetness" is comparable to his best for that errant label. In no way essential, T Time is a likable effort if you program out the two duds. The recording is generally clear, but with a little too much reverb on Turrentine and an overemphasis on the kick drum.
Lee Konitz has recorded extensively and well for over 60 years and appeared on more than 50 records. He has always been a searching, challenging musician, and his work is remarkably consistent. Round & Round is a quartet session from 1988, composed of standards and originals played in 3/4 time. Coltranes "Giant Steps" is transformed by the slower pace Konitz takes here, which only serves to highlight the composers melodic inventiveness. Konitz is breathtaking, coming up with new ideas at an astonishing rate and with seemingly little effort. He interprets "Someday My Prince Will Come" beautifully on soprano sax and gives Sonny Rollins "Valse Hot" an intelligent yet passionate reading. I normally dislike electric bass on traditional jazz recordings, but its hard to fault Mike Richmonds sense of melody and time. Adam Nussbaum is, as always, solidly swinging, and Fred Hersch shines as an accompanist and soloist. The music is warmly recorded, but the CD booklet contains no recording credits.
Benny Carter was born in 1907, 20 years before Lee Konitz, and his discography can be traced back to the 1920s. He won a Grammy for Elegy in Blue, a 1994 recording in which he paid tribute to jazz musicians he admired. Lee Morgan, Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, and Django Reinhardt are just a few of the musicians whose tunes Carter plays in fond remembrance. He captures Ben Websters emotional directness on "Did You Call Her Today," and pays warm homage to Johnny Hodges small-group recordings on "Good Queen Bess." Carters long experience and consummate skills bring freshness and depth to tunes you think you know well, such as Monks "Blue Monk" and Django Reinhardts "Nuages." Harry "Sweets" Edison, only eight years Carters junior, is his partner here and Ray Brown (bass), Cedar Walton (piano), Mundell Lowe (guitar), and Jeff Hamilton (drums) provide solid, sympathetic support. Elegy in Blue is a subtle work, a celebration and a reminiscence that deeply rewards repeated listening.
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