Back in March, I posted about three albums originally released on Germany's MPS label—It's Nice to Be With You (1969) by Jim Hall, Intercontinental (1970) by Joe Pass and Rass! (1974) by Monty Alexander. As noted, Edel AG, an independent German music and entertainment group, acquired the MPS catalog in 2014 and has been re-issuing the label's jazz catalog from in the 1960s and '70s as CDs and downloads. I finally had a chance to listen to a bunch more. Here are eight additional gems...
Count Basie—Basic Basie (1969). Originally entitled Evergreens and recorded for the Groove Merchant label in Chicago, this album wound up being picked up by MPS and renamed Basic Basie. Swinging song choices are spectacularly arranged by Chico O'Farrill, tenor sax solos by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and the Basie band is at its very best. This album has always been one of my favorites by Basie. Go here.
Singers Unlimited & Art Van Damme—Invitation (1973). Former Hi-Lo Gene Puerling and his overdubbing vocal quartet are joined by swinging accordionist Art Van Damme. A perfect match. A shame Singers Unlimited didn't record a few more with Van Damme. Too many of the their albums were heavy on the jolly and light on jazz. This one, however, was a standout. Go here.
Billy Taylor—Sleeping Bee (1969). Pianist Billy Taylor recorded this album in April 1969 just before traveling to Washington, D.C., to perform at the all-star White House tribute to Duke Ellington. It includes a wide range of moods and styles, from original ballads (Theodora) and standards (There Will Never Be Another You and the title track) to blues (Bye Y'All) and soul-gospel (Brother, Where Are You?). Go here.
Elvin Jones Jazz Machine—Remembrance (1978). In the late 1970s, after working with John Coltrane and Art Pepper, drummer Elvin Jones led a powerful quintet known as the Jazz Machine. Here, it included Pat LaBarbera and Michael Stuart (as,ts,sop), Roland Prince (g) and Andy McCloud (b). The band played straight-ahead jazz, with Prince's guitar handling the era's requisite fusion touches. Otherwise, it's a superb example of Jones' majestic power-drumming and two high-voltage saxophone hounds ferociously chasing after game. Go here.
George Shearing—Light, Airy & Swinging (1974). The pianist is captured in the trio format here—featuring Andy Simpkins (b) and Stix Hooper (d). This was his second album for MPS, and there would be eight more. Not a perfect album, since Shearing gets a bit too cute on some of the selections (Too Close for Comfort and Emily, for exaple), but tracks of note include Beautiful Friendship, Love Walked In and Cynthia's in Love. Go here.
Hank Jones—Have You Met This Jones? (1977). Recorded in Germany with Isla Eckinger (b) and Kurt Bong (d), Jones takes on a batch of standards as well as brother Thad Jones's Portions and his own We're All Together. The album highlight for me is Robbins' Nest, played in the block-chord style of Milt Buckner. Go here.
Ira Kris—Jazzanova (1971). When American guitarist Ira Kris and saxophonist and flutist Frank St. Peter moved to Munich, they hooked up with South American guitarist Juan Romero, who was studying there. Bassist Jimmy Woode and drummer Tony Inzalaco were added, and the result was this sexy fusion of jazz and bossa nova. A smart, dynamic album loaded with surprises. Go here.
Patrick Williams—Come On and Shine (1977). Williams of movie soundtrack and TV-show theme fame recorded this nifty orchestral album in '77 that featured some of his TV themes, disco-flavored pop and other tracks with a hip, '70s sound. I just wish the last track, Blue Light, with Tom Scott on tenor sax, ran 8 minutes instead of three. Go here.
JazzWax note: For more information on the MPS re-issues, go here.