From time to time I feature fabulous little-known albums that are available as downloads at iTunes, Amazon and other online retailers. I call them "hidden" because online retailers do so little promotion that you'd never know these albums existed unless you stumbled upon them like I did. (For the other nine volumes in this series, go to my search engine in the upper right-hand corner and type in "Hidden Jazz Downloads.") Here are my latest five finds:
Delightful Doris Drew (1957). Drew started her recording career in the late 1940s as a vocalist in trumpeter Ziggy Elman's band. Drew had a Doris Day-like vibrato, and her delivery was direct and crystal clear. She recorded this jazz outing with Don Fagerquist (trumpet), Bob Enevoldsen (valve-trombone), Herb Geller (alto sax), Dave Pell (tenor sax), Marty Paich (piano and celeste), Al Viola (guitar), Max Bennett (bass) and Mel Lewis (drums). The Hollywood Strings were added. Paich wrote the arrangements.
Herbie Mann: Peace Pieces (1995). Bet you didn't know flutist Herbie Mann recorded an album of Bill Evans tunes. You wouldn't likely have known this because when you type "Herbie Mann + Bill Evans" into search engines at iTunes and Amazon, all you get is Nirvana, the album they recorded together at the tail end of 1961. The problem is the Mann album is in their databases only as Peace Pieces, despite its subtitle: The Music of Bill Evans. This one is gorgeous and features Randy Brecker (flugelhorn), Bruce Dunlap (electric guitar), Eddie Gomez (bass), Sammy Figueroa (percussion) and three different drummers on different dates: Paul Socolow, Lewis Nash and Ricky Sebastian.
Arthur Prysock: This Guy's in Love With You (1986). I dig Prysock, selectively. The singer had a fabulous deep baritone and vibrato but was frequently poorly produced. On this album, he's teamed with vocalist Betty Joplin on three tracks and the rest by himself. Featured are Arthur's brother Red Prysock (tenor sax), Lloyd Wilson (keyboards), Randy Caldwell (guitar) and Jimmy Lewis (bass) and Don Williams (drums). Killer tracks include the title song (a duet), Rainy Night in Georgia, At Last and Don't Misunderstand. In fact, if you just download those tracks, you'll be all set.
Art Blakey: Africaine (1959). This one was out of print when I first wrote about it here a year ago. Maybe someone at Blue Note read my post and JazzWax readers' wishes? At any rate, the album remains one of the Jazz Messengers' finest recordings—and that's saying something. Now it's back as a download. The Messengers lineup featured Lee Morgan (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Walter Davis, Jr. (piano), Jymie Merritt (bass) and Dizzy Reece (conga).
Oliver Nelson: The Kennedy Dream (1967). This one was just re-issued. It's a throwback to a time when the Kennedy assassination was still fresh in the nation's collective mind. When Arlington National Cemetery installed the Eternal Flame at the former president's gravesite in 1967, the yearning for what could have been filled artists' imaginations. Nelson composed and scored this tribute to Kennedy, but it's more of a Camelot suite that in only a few places is dated. Tracks that remain brilliant are The Rights of All, Tolerance, The Artists' Rightful Place, Jacqueline and John Kennedy Memory Waltz.