Horace Parlan & Paul Chambers- Blue Note mines their catalog for more goodies
As comforting as it is to hear about Blue Note Records surviving and thriving and looking forward (note this NY Times article), it's also great to see that they're digging through their famed back catalog to bring out some hidden gems to light again.
There's two prime examples of this from the past week. First up is pianist Horace Parlan, a mostly unheraled (outside of bop circles) alumni of Charles Mingus' band as well as sessions with Dexter Gordon and Roland Kirk. His discography is skimpy to begin with and what's available is hard to find. Fortunately, we can now again enjoy a 1961 session, Up & Down, featuring guitarist Grant Green and the wonderful saxist Booker Ervin, (whose amazing album The Freedom Book was reissued in 2007). While Parlan's dominant left-handed playing (marked by an early bout with polio) isn't in command as much as Ervin's lead lines, it's still a pleasure to hear such a swinging ensemble, having such an infectious good time.
The late bassist Paul Chambers (who died of TB in 1969 at age 33) had quite a storied career, appearing on many late 50's/early 60's albums by Miles Davis (including Milestones, Sketches of Spain, Kind of Blue) and John Coltrane (Blue Train, Giant Steps), not to mention other sessions with Gil Evans, Herbie Hancock, Milt Jackson, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk (on the classic Brilliant Corners) and many others. Somehow, he also found time to cut over 10 albums under his own name, including 1957's Quintet. Chambers beautifully fluid playing is appropriately featured here (dig his funky cello on "Four Strings") but so is trumpeter Donald Byrd and saxist Clifford Jordan. Plus any record that's got Elvin Jones on drums is bound to move along nicely.