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Billie Holiday – The ‘Commodore’ Days
Billie Holiday has often been popularly labelled a Blues Singer, but she was never that, within the generally accepted definition. The overwhelming majority of her records are of popular songs. Tin Pan Alley trifles, which she elevates by her immense talent into significant jazz performances. It could be said that Bessie Smith brought the Blues to the popular song, while Billie Holiday took the popular song to the Blues. Her whole chequered life, sometimes intensely gay, often abysmally tragic, always defiant, imbued her with the true spirit of the Blues.
Deodato – Prelude
Although Eumir Deodato is best known for his rendition of 'Also Sprach Zarathustra', this Brazilian producer and arranger is definitely not a one-trick pony. Before CTI decided to give him the spotlight, he had already worked with some of the best in the business; Frank Sinatra, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Wes Montgomery. The Grammy winning signature track, a Latin-fused arrangement of the theme from 2001: A Space Oddisey, propelled Prelude to the top of the charts, making it the best selling record of CTI's catalogue. But the other songs can hold their own as well. Deodato's arrangements are lush, his Rhodes playing is light, elegant and funky. Prelude is a jewel from the CTI-treasury.
John Lee Hooker – Folk Blues
Here Hooker is backed by the great Eddie Kirkland on second guitar, his constant sideman during this period. Hooker's style was notoriously difficult to play behind, and Kirkland, a brilliant guitarist in his own right, was one of the few who had a good enough ear to keep up with all of the off-tempo changes. This album does not feature any of Hooker's hits, and while that may be a drawback with some lesser artists, when you are dealing with one of the giants of both the blues and, by association, rock & roll, it is actually both refreshing and rewarding to gain exposure to some of his lesser known material.
Ornette Coleman – Something Else! The Music of Ornette Coleman
According to current Jazz, Argot, if a musician is "taking care of business", he is playing very well. If he is, however, "something else", he communicates with exceptional force. The creation of music is just as natural as the air we breathe. I believe music is really a free thing, and any way you can enjoy it, you should'.
Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Alone in San Francisco
This is an album created, you might say, by stripping things down to the essentials; a bare hall, recording equipment, and one highly talented musician. When that Musician is THELONIOUS MONK, it should not be at all surprising that the result is as intriguing and challenging a program as you could hope to get from any jazz combination of any size.
Thelonious Monk Quintet – Five by MONK by Five
This is the tenth album that Thelonious Monk, one of the truly significant figures of modern jazz, has recorded for Riverside. Like all the LPs that have preceded it, this one is brimming over with vitality, wit, and creative originality. This is, specifically, a quintet album. It is deliberately, and not at all accidentally, a quintet album : conceived and executed throughout as "Five by Monk by Five". The 'five' are made up of what was, at the time of recording, Monk's regular working quartet, plus Thad Jones.