DOUGLAS ON BLUE NOTE
Kenny Dorham, Betty Carter, Duke Ellington, Oliver Nelson with Phil Woods, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Billie Holiday, Bill Evans and Jim Hall, Herbie Mann, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop, King Pleasure, Oliver Nelson with Lloyd G Mayers, Ken McIntyre.
All the tracks on this CD were produced or organised by Alan Douglas while he was in charge of the jazz division of United Artists Records back in 1962 where he virtually recorded a new album every week! Not surprisingly, after a year of the unrelenting pressure of constantly coming up with new product he was exhausted, so reluctantly he moved on. Some years later United Artists was sold off by the parent company and eventually ended up at Blue Note which is where this CD comes in.
We get the cream of the recordings Douglas supervised plus 2 unreleased concert recordings of Billie Holiday and a track off a 1957 Mingus album reissued by Alan in 1962. Highlights (and there are many) include Duke Ellington's massively forceful piano banging and strident improvising on the stripped down Caravan with just Mingus and Max Roach, King Pleasure's confidently hip vocal gymnastics on I'm In The Mood For Love and Oliver Nelson's beautifully laid back Rendezvous featuring the dreamy alto sax of Phil Woods. Speaking of alto saxes, listen to the magic John Handy creates on the cool groove of I Can't Get Started by the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop which, incidentally, includes a startling bass solo by the master himself. John Coltrane appears on a 1957 cut Just Friends blowing some driving tenor while Cecil Taylor does one of his (slightly) less frenetic piano solos. I also love the Latin drive of Herbie Mann's Brazil which, although primarily a vehicle for his busy flute playing, has some nice moments by vibes player Haygood Hardy.
Billie Holiday fans will be thrilled with the inclusion of two short but sweet live versions of My Man and Them There Eyes - rare stuff indeed with Carl Drinkard on piano and Red Mitchell on bass.
This is a collection of great music, imaginatively packaged and well worth investigating.
Review Date: March 2010