The Baddest Monk: This 2012 sophomore offering follows the Dancing Monk debut of the Thelonious Monk trilogy by jazz pianist Eric Reed. Having received critical acclaim for both, Reed along with his colleagues prove once again that he can illustrate the breadth of his thought on one of the most idiosyncratic jazz composers. This is an insightful and vital re-examination by a group of young players of the remarkable talent of the composer and sets a new path for those desiring to partake, understand and appreciate.

Personnel: Eric Reed – piano, Seamus Blake – tenor saxophone, Etienne Charles – trumpet, Matt Clohesy – bass, Henry Cole – drums and Jose James – vocal

Producer: Joe Fields / Savant Records

Record Date: Dubway Studios, New York City / December 5, 2011

Cover: Keiji Obata

Songs: Rhythm-A-Ning, Epistrophy, Green Chimneys, Monk’s Mood, ‘Round Midnight, Evidence, Monk Beurre Rouge, Bright Mississippi, The Baddest Monk

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Booker Little and Friends: At the time of Booker Little’s death in 1963, he was just 23 years old, he was already far more than a promising trumpet talent. This reissue of his landmark fourth and final session as a leader, “Victory And Sorrow”, showcases his compositions with trumpet voiced against a backdrop of tenor and trombone. It demonstrates Little’s interest in a mix of complex moods and advanced harmonies, use of multiple keys to create simultaneous joy and mourning, and rhythmic shifts, flaring runs, and surprising intervals.

Personnel: Booker Little – trumpet, Julian Priester – trombone, George Coleman – tenor saxophone, Donald Friedman – piano, Reggie Workman – bass, Pete LaRoca – drums

Record Date: Bethlehem / August 1961 – September 1961

Songs: Victory And Sorrow, Forward Flight, Looking Ahead, If I Should Lose You, Calling Softly, Booker’s Blues, Matilde, plus two previously unreleased takes – Matilde (Alt. Take 4), Matilde (Alt. Take 7)

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Maiden Voyage is a concept album aimed at creating an oceanic atmosphere. Many of the song titles refer to marine biology or the sea, and the musicians develop the concept through their use of space and almost tidal dynamics. Three of the albums tunes – Maiden Voyage, The Eye of the Hurricane and Dolphin Dance have become jazz standards. The album was presented with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.

Personnel: Herbie Hancock – piano, Ron Carter – bass, Tony Williams –drums, Freddie Hubbard – trumpet, George Coleman – tenor saxophone

Supervised by: Rudy Van Gelder

Record Date: Blue Note / May 17, 1969

Cover: The sailboat lends to the nautical theme of a first outing.

Songs: Maiden Voyage, The Eye Of The Hurricane, Little One, Survival Of The Fittest and Dolphin Dance

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We Insist! Freedom Now Suite: This classic piece of art stands at the intersection of politics and music. It was recorded at a time when the civil rights movement was starting to heat up and drummer Max Roach composed and performed the seven-part suite dealing with black history, particularly slavery and racism.

Driva’ Man has a powerful statement by veteran tenor Coleman Hawkins and there is valuable solo space elsewhere for trumpeter Booker Little and trombonist Julian Priester, but it is the overall performance of Abbey Lincoln that is most notable. Formerly a nightclub singer, Lincoln really came into her own under Roach’s tutelage and she is a strong force throughout this intense set. On Triptych: Prayer / Protest / Peace, Lincoln is heard in duets with the drummer and her wrenching screams of rage are quite memorable.

Personnel: Max Roach – drums, Coleman Hawkins – tenor saxophone, Booker Little – trumpet, Julian Priester – trombone, Walter Benton – tenor saxophone, James Schenk – bass, Olantunji / Ray Mantilla – percussion, Abbey Lincoln / Oscar Brown Jr. – vocal

Record Date: Nola Penthouse Sound Studio, New York / August 31, 1960 & September 6, 1960 / Candid Records

Producer: Nat Hentoff

Songs: Driva’man, Freedom Day, Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace, All Africa, Tears For Johannesburg

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The Leading Man: This 1993 issued session is considered a classic for both material and performances of the various ensembles Harold Mabern put together. With the exception of DeJohnette and Carter, all the other players rotate throughout the sessions. Style and grace fill this recording.

Personnel: Harold Mabern – piano, Ron Carter – bass, Jack DeJohnette – drums, Bill Easley – alto saxophone, Bill Mobley – trumpet, Kevin Eubanks – guitar, and Pamela Baskin-Watson – vocals

Record Date: Columbia Records / November 9, 1992 – April 12, 1993

Cover: The cover is an alternate cover used for the import version of this session is currently unavailable. The U.S. release is still available.

Songs: Look On The Bright Side, Save The Best For Last, Full House, Alone Together, It’s A Lonesome Old Town, Yes And No, Moment’s Notice, Au Privave, B And B, Mercury Retro

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