Dot Com Blues
Blue Thumb Records 3145439782
Com Blues is a fine new set of recordings from the Hammond organ's
best friend, Jimmy Smith. If you associate the organ with roller
rinks and Sunday services, you owe it to yourself to leave the pew,
enter the lounge, and catch up with Smith. Rather than plod through
a melody, Smith makes it roll and the mood is infectious.
album features lots of big name stars in the blues field that we
assume are here to give this disc a push. There's nothing wrong
with these tracks but they tend to be more Blues-oriented. On his
own, Smith brings an R&B sensibility to jazz and that's when the
magic really begins. The nearly nine minute version of Mood Indigo
is sheer heaven with just Smith on the Hammond, supported by guitar,
acoustic bass and drums. Dot Com Blues, C.C. Rider and Tuition
Blues feature the same musicians and all four tracks are the
meat and potatoes of the album.
guest artists succeed to various degrees. Dr. John sings and plays
the piano on Only in It For The Money. We admit we respect
Dr. John and have never doubted his talent but his singing voice
leaves us cold. On this track he is subdued and the vocal is incidental
to the track. More successful is the instrumental Mr. Johnson
with it's funky groove and fat-sounding horns. Etta James is typically
Etta James with I Just Wanna Make Love to You but it is more
an Etta James track than a Jimmy Smith number. This is our first
exposure to Keb Mo' who is noted for an edgy Robert Johnson Blues-influenced
style,but in his one appearance on the disc, Over and Over,
he sounds like an average Rock vocalist. It's not fair to judge
him from this one recording but his performance doesn't inspire
us to pursue more of his work. B.B. King does Three O'Clock Blues.
overall sound is classic without pandering, fun without being silly,
and groovy enough to get your fingers popping.
Oquendo y Libre
Los New Yorkiños! Milestone MCD 9307-2 Salsa
all been done hundreds of times before, but in the able hands of
percussionist Manny Oquendo, straight-ahead Salsa (with a slight
Jazz sensibility) always sounds fresh. This new album, Los New
Yorkiños, features a four-trombone horn section, reminiscent
of Willie Colon. It gives the disc a thick elegant sound that grounds
the massive wall of percussion coming from Oquendo and conga player
opener, Salsa Jam, starts with an odd "rap" that suggests
a preamble to a fiery jam, but instead leads into a rather staid
number. Oquendo's Latin-izing Lester Leaps In is a hoot and
the Bolero Quiereme y Veras (sung very nicely by Xiomara
Lougart) is gorgeous. But the highlight is the flag-waver, No
Cuentas. Even at almost seven minutes, it's not enough.
you've been enchanted by the recent spate of Buena Vista Social
Club recordings, but haven't gone much further into Latin music,
we think Los New Yorkiños would be a fine place to start.
Even though the roots are the same, it's fascinating to see the
differences between traditional Cuban and Puerto Rican music and
good old "Yanqui" Salsa. And it's always great to have an old pro
like Manny Oquendo inspire our hips to start shaking.
Fuller with Hampton Hawes
With French Horns
New Jazz (Original Jazz Classics) OJCD 1942-2 (NJ-8305)
Fuller was noted for his fluid performances on the normally clumsy
trombone. Hampton Hawes was known for his hard swinging, gospel-flavored
style on the piano. Add these two Jazz giants to a bass, the drums,
one sax and two French horns and one would expect a West Coast jazz
opus with intricate arrangements and slightly arty pretensions.
Instead, this 1957 date seems more intent on proving how hard this
odd group of instruments can swing.
fact, if you listen casually, you'll hear just a vague brassy sound.
These fellows are so nimble, you'll forget how different this would
have sounded in less capable hands. We actually would have enjoyed
some West Coast fussiness thrown into the mix, or Hampton Hawes
doing some of his Gospel thing, but that clearly wasn't the intention.
The King Swings
Songs From Stage & Screen
are new, attractive compilations of mostly previously released material
by Nat "King" Cole. The titles and themes are arbitrary. Most of
The Kings Swings doesn't swing (Azure-Te, You're My Thrill,
Until the Real Thing Comes Along, etc.) and Songs from Stage
& Screen is silly because most standards are from the stage
or screen. Still, the tracks are all good post-Trio Nat "King"
Cole, programmed nicely, and there are a few previously unreleased
it's all nice and pleasant but why not just release the complete
albums as they were recorded? And why not give recording dates and