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Dipping Into The Vaults

While the classic Blue Notes of the '50s & '60s have been the focus of quite a few batches of reissues as of late, it's also great to see Capitol delve deeper into its own holdings, with jazz sides from the mother label and the Pacific Jazz catalog taking center stage via a half dozen new titles, all of which have been long unavailable. Included in this new series of reissues are works by drummer/bandleader Buddy Rich, alto man Cannonball Adderley, vocalist Nancy Wilson, and trumpeters Don Ellis, Chet Baker and Jonah Jones.

Following his successful run with Riverside Records in the early '60s, Cannonball Adderley signed with Capitol in 1963. In their vaults since then have been seven master tapes of albums done originally for Riverside but of which Adderley obtained posession. After being distributed shortly in the '80s by Orrin Keepnews' Landmark label, these forgotten trinkets are now being re-released by Capitol, with THEM DIRTY BLUES being the third and most recent to see repackaging. This hard bop delight features bothers Cannonball and Nat fronting a band including either Bobby Timmons or Barry Harris on piano, Sam Jones on bass, and Louis Hayes on drums.

Compiled from two dates in the winter of 1960, one in Chicago and the other in New York City, tunes such as "Work Song," "Dat Dere," and "Del Sasser" are likely to be familiar to most. The entire set percolates with the kind of "down home" exuberance that made this edition of the Adderley band one of the best. Also thrown in for good measure is an alternate version of Work Song (the master take was cut with Harris at the Chicago session, while this alternate features Timmons and is from the NYC date) and an alternate take of "Dat Dere."

With a hint of pop sensibility, TODAY, TOMORROW, FOREVER presents vocalist Nancy Wilson in front of a large ensemble of Los Angeles studio musicians including Jack Wilson, Bill Perkins, and Lou Levy. This 1964 date finds Wilson's then husband, Kenny Dennis, at the drums and in charge of the arrangements. Clearly, commercial airplay was a consideration with such hit parade favorites as "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," "I Can't Stop Loving You," and "What Kind of Fool Am I?" part of a dozen compact tracks that roughly alternate between ballads and medium-tempo cookers. The tight charts, scattered solo moments and Wilson's erudite delivery on these familiar chestnuts make for a pleasant discovery that fans will surely want to add to their collection.

Arriving just a few months after his recent death at the age of 91, JUMPIN' WITH JONAH reissues for the first time swing trumpeter Jonah Jones' third date as a leader for Capitol. A veteran of the bands of Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Cab Calloway, Earl Hines, and Stuff Smith, Jones did well with a catchy series of records he made for Capitol back in the late '50s. Very much in keeping with similar projects being conducted at the time by Prestige for its Swingville subsidiary (Jones' playing is very much in the same league as that of Henry "Red" Allen, Doc Cheatham, Taft Jordan, and Short Baker) JUMPIN' WITH JONAH puts the trumpeter in front of a well-oiled rhythm section that includes pianist Hank Jones.

None of the tracks here push much past three minutes, but each one tells a convincing story with Jones' trumpet either open or muted. His agreeable baritone voice also comes to the fore on such chestnuts as "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home" and "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," the influence of Louis Armstrong surely to be acknowledged. Sound quality is top-notch throughout and two tracks a piece from the albums JONAH JUMPS AGAIN and HIT ME AGAIN! show up as bonus cuts. Not to be missed!

One of director Robert Altman's early successes, "The James Dean Story" is also distinguished by a soundtrack that features the work of Chet Baker and Bud Shank. Long sought out as a pricey collectors item, THEME MUSIC FROM THE JAMES DEAN STORY is finally making its appearance on compact disc and in stereo for the first time ever (albeit three cuts that only survive in mono). For this Pacific Jazz classic from 1956, Johnny Mandel and Bill Holman have arranged the compositions of Leith Stevens for a large ensemble that includes Charlie Mariano, Richie Kamuca, Pepper Adams, and Mel Lewis. Baker's trumpet and Shank's alto and flute work voice the unique themes, shouting riff-based tunes alternating splendidly with darker melancholy ballads. Although short on duration, this set (engineered skillfully, by the way, by Richard Bock) is never short on inspiration and it's great to have it back in the catalog.

Just prior to the radical and popular recordings that trumpeter and bandleader Don Ellis would make for Columbia in the late '60s, he found himself under contract with Pacific Jazz and two live sets (along with a earlier small group album for the label) would be the fruits of his labors there. The recently reissued LIVE IN 3 2/3/4 TIME finds the Ellis big band caught before audiences at the Pacific Jazz Festival in October of 1966 and Shelly's Manne-Hole in March of 1967.

As its title would suggest, Ellis' fascination with odd meters would play a large part in the repertoire included in this band's book. While originals such as those by Howlett Smith carry information about their rhythmic orientation in their titles ("Opus Five" and "Seven Up"), other cuts toy with popular rhythmic concessions in a new and exciting way. Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance" is taken in seven, as is the wonderfully exotic "Barnum's Revenge," a circus romp loosely based on "Bill Bailey" and which features marching drums and quotes from "The Beer Barrel Polka." Five previously unreleased performances from the Manne-Hole gig are included here, rounding out this ground-breaking glimpse into contemporary big band jazz at its finest.

While maybe not quite as pioneering as Ellis' work in the big band arena, the large ensemble that Buddy Rich led during the mid to late '60s cooked with the kind of heated get-up-and-go that had marked the drummer's efforts from previous decades, if not even more so. Happily, Pacific Jazz's Dick Bock produced a good number of albums featuring Rich and the band, of which BUDDY & SOUL is just the latest to be reissued. With the guidance of Bob Belden and Dean Pratt, this new disc unravels the mystery of the multiple recording sessions that contributed to all of Rich's Pacific Jazz sides being patched together in piecemeal fashion.

The complete contents of three sessions in 1969 are included here, with charts being provided by Don Sebesky, Bill Holman, Shorty Rogers, Don Piestrup, and Don Menza, to name just a few. Featured soloists include Richie Cole, Pat La Barbara, and Sal Marquez. Not without its dated elements, especially two pieces written by the Doors, the overall excellence of this set mandates BUDDY & SOUL to be added to any comprehensive Rich collection.

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