Posts Tagged ‘Prestige’

Thelonious Monk: The Very Best Of

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

TheloniousMonk_TheVeryBestOfWell-picked introduction to mid-50s Monk

Concord’s 10-track disc provides an introduction to Monk’s mid-50s recordings for the Prestige and Riverside labels. Collected here are prime examples of Monk in mid-career as an iconoclastic pianist, writer of jazz standards, and a band leader who attracted spectacular players to his sessions. Among the notable compositions are “Blue Monk,” “Ruby, My Dear” and “’Round Midnight,” and the sessions are highlighted by the talents of Percy Heath, Art Blakey, Clark Terry, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Paul Chambers, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Haynes and many more. This is neither a full-telling of Monk’s career, which also included key recordings on Blue Note and Columbia, nor of his entire six year run on Prestige and Riverside (the original albums of which are mostly still in print); but for an introduction to Monk’s music, this is a good place to start. [©2013 Hyperbolium]

Chet Baker: The Very Best of

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

A sampling of the trumpeter/vocalist’s classic ‘50s sides

As a leading exponent of the West Coast sound, trumpeter Chet Baker was as well known for his introspective vocals as his cool horn style. Prestige’s fourteen-track collection pulls together selections from nine albums drawn from the years 1952 through 1965. The bulk of the set is taken from albums made forRiversideand Jazzland in ’58 and ’59, along with an earlier side on Fantasy and two later sides on Prestige. Baker’s intimate vocals are featured on four tracks (“Do it the Hard Way,” “My Heart Stood Still,” “Old Devil Moon,” and “The Song is You”), with the rest finding his trumpet accompanied by the likes of Chico Hamilton, Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers, and sharing the spotlight with Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Griffin, Herbie Mann, Zoot Sims and others.

The set opener, a 1952 take of “My Funny Valentine” with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, is among Baker’s purest expressions, shading contrasts between romantic and wounded, confident and doubtful, pensive and expressive. Throughout the collection, Baker’s trumpet is absorbed in thought, slowly revealing itself in long lines and quiet transitions. Even when pushed to mid-tempo and goosed by saxophones, Baker’s tone and volume remain understated. He stays cool and under control, even as he navigates the complexities of “Have You Seen Miss Jones?” There’s a lot to Baker’s catalog, including albums waxed for Blue Note and Pacific Jazz before he joinedRiverside, and a tangle of labels between his stints onRiversideand Prestige, but these late ‘50s classics are a great place to start. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

Miles Davis: The Definitive Miles Davis on Prestige

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Two-disc overview of Davis’ formative period as a leader

This 2-CD set looks at the catalog of trumpeter Miles Davis during his five year stay on Prestige. Davis had recorded numerous sides behind Charlie Parker and led a few one-off sessions, but it was at Prestige where he was first afforded the time to try out new groups, develop original material and evolve his sound across a series of albums. Disc one of this set cherry picks from his early albums, featuring a variety of lineups that variously include Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Charlie Parker, J.J. Johnson and Thelonious Monk. Also employed were a number of ace rhythm sections that included Max Roach, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Percy Heath and Paul Chambers. Disc two picks up in 1955, at a time when Davis was signed to both Prestige and Columbia, alternating releases between the two. By this point he’d organized a quintet lineup of Chambers, Jones, Red Garland and legend-in-the-making, John Coltrane.

The selections mix originals, standards and a few show tunes, such as Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” that provide launching pads for interesting explorations. Disc one shows off the variety of players with whom Davis made music, and often echoes the cooler West Coast sound he’d recorded a few years earlier for Capitol. Disc two is filled by the quintet that Davis put together for Columbia, and was then contractually obligated to share with Prestige. These tracks cover sessions from 1955-56 that were strategically released over the course of five years, starting with The New Miles Davis Quintet in ’56 and finishing up with Steamin’ in 1961. Given the high quality of many of Davis’ latter-day albums for Prestige, it’s difficult to say if these are all of the essential sides, but they do provide a good overview of the Davis’ growth as a leader, and a guide to the in-print original albums. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]