This superb 1961 date matches Dexter Gordon’s booming tenor sax with a dynamite rhythm section of Kenny Drew on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. Like all his early ’60s Blue Note recordings, this is Gordon at his absolute best. It’s a nice mix of originals and standards, including an up-tempo take on Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.” There are no surprises here, just straight-ahead bluesy bebop by some of the masters of the genre. (cduniverse)
Straight Ahead was recorded in 1961 and was Abbey Lincoln’s fifth album in as many years. Though she was only 31 when this set was recorded, Lincoln already possessed great confidence and a powerfully emotive voice. She’s surrounded by a superlative cast of players, including Max Roach, Eric Dolphy, Coleman Hawkins, Booker Little, Mal Waldron, and Julian Priester. As Lincoln shifts from playfulness to melancholy, and anger to romance, the band is right with her. The rhythmic support is supple and the soloing is full of emotional resonance and invention, free of needless filigree. One highlight takes place in “When Malindy Sings” (a song based on a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar), as Dolphy’s flute flies in after the conclusion of Little’s trumpet solo. Though Abbey Lincoln’s entire catalog is particularly strong, this album deserves special attention. (cduniverse)
Personnel: Abbey Lincoln (vocals); Coleman Hawkins, Walter Benton (tenor saxophone); Booker Little (trumpet); Julian Priester (trombone); Eric Dolphy (reeds); Mal Waldron (piano); Art Davis (bass); Max Roach (drums); Roger Sanders, Robert Whitley (congas).