This is not just another tribute album. It is a tribute from one musician, bassist Ron Carter, to another, trumpeter Miles Davis.
Carter owes quite a bit to the late Davis because his first taste of fame was as a member of Davis' classic '60s quintet. Interestingly, Davis once proclaimed Carter as the "anchor" of the quintet.
Although each of the 10 tunes here are closely associated with Davis, he only wrote one: "Seven Steps to Heaven." There is a nice range mood in the tune. Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove" lends a strong blues feel which Carter and pianist Stephen Scott exploit to the hilt. "Stella by Starlight" offers a contrast as a gentle ballad with Carter offering the opening chorus accompanied by just Scott's piano.
Scott gets a chance to plumb the depths of "Bye, Bye Blackbird," and his fingers take flight over the keys bringing to life one of Carter's favorites. Other tunes include; "Gone," "My Funny Valentine," "Someday My Prince Will Come," "595," and "Cut and Paste."
"THELONIOUS MONK PLAYS DUKE ELLINGTON"
The piano artistries of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk may not be as disparate as one might think.
In fact, the Duke's compositions lend themselves quite well to the exotic interpretations of Monk. The eight selections on this release — some of Ellington's most noted — include; "Sophisticated Lady," "Mood Indigo," "Solitude," "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart," "Black and Tan Fantasy" and more.
Monk is still Monk but he loses nothing of the Ellington essence as he explores the great composer's works. Monk is accompanied by bassist Oscar Pettiford and drummer Kenny Clark. This is part of the Orrin Keepnews collection, originally recorded on Riverside and now in possession of Concord Records.
Trumpeter Kenny Dorham burst upon the jazz scene in the mid 1940s, during the bebop revolution. Unfortunately for him, he maintained an underrated status, mainly because of the dominance of the two legends, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. His life was also cut short at age 48 when he died of kidney disease.
Dorham's underrated label in no way reflects upon his talent. That shines forth here on six tunes, where on each one the listener can hear his ebullient sound and power. Together with saxophonist Sonny Rollins and a rhythm section of pianist Hank Jones, bassist Oscar Pettiford, drummer Max Roach and harpist Betty Glamman, they work through such classics as "Falling in Love with Love," "I'll Remember April," "My Old Flame," and "La Villa."
CARL ALLEN AND RODNEY WHITAKER
The music here is so diverse, one has to wonder who the target audience is.
It swings in a wide arc between such soul tunes as Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" and Smokey Robinson's "Get Ready," to the free "Preference of Conviction" written by drummer Carl Allen. The latter features the soprano saxophone of Steve Wilson, whose tone turned me away because of its stridency.
Strangely, the very next tune, "A Heart Enflamed, a Soul Enchanted" with its more traditional form brought me firmly into the Wilson camp as his soprano created the wonderful mood intended by its composer, bassist and co-leader Rodney Whitaker.
The gospel quality of "We Fall Down" is evident from the onset with Wilson's opening lush solo followed by guitarist Rodney Jones, backed by pianist Cyrus Chestnut and organist Dorsey Robinson. Whitaker caps the solo action with his own gorgeous effort.