Buried Treasure Found
Charles A. Ralston | MABLETON, GA USA | 03/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Buried Treasure Found" a review of the Phineas Newborn, Jr. trio recording _Harlem Blues_ with Ray Brown, double bass and Elvin Jones, drums ([?Yokohama] Japan: Victor Entertainment, Inc., [c1999]) (VICJ-60374 Compact Disc) originally produced by Lester Koenig and recorded at Los Angeles, CA: Contemporary Records, 12-13 February 1969 (S-7634). 7 tracks; TT 38:30; "an Extended Resolution Compact Disc 2 [XRCD2] re-mastering by Alan Yoshida, A&M Mastering Studios, Hollywood, CA". Original liner notes by John Koenig. Program booklet (12 pp.) integrated with CD card-stock case with notes in Japanese.My one disappointment with this recording is its total time of less than 39 minutes. Would that the experts and engineers had dug deeper in the "vaults" for whatever else these musicians recorded those two February days in 1969. (The liner notes report that some 15 tunes were recorded by this trio during the two days they were in studio.) But, I'll go with what is on this JVC XRCD2 re-issue. This is a wonderful, happy, technically challenging trio performance, recorded when (we have been told by Ken Burns and others) jazz was all but dead and in need of resuscitation. Not so.Phineas Newborn, Memphis born and raised (in his youth a contemporary of Memphis-born trumpeter Booker Little), is all over the piano, making musical allusions to his teachers and peers, pianists Art Tatum, Bud Powell, and Oscar Peterson. Ray Brown, true to form, propels the trio the same way he did when with O.P. Elvin Jones, the new comer to this setting, provides the asymmetric, polyrhythmic drive familiar to all who love the work of the John Coltrane Quartet. `Harlem's Blues' a gospel blues doodle by Newborn which his fellow musicians asked be worked into this recording session and which ended up serving as its title, could be Memphis' Blues for all I know, but one thing for sure - it swings. Bluesy `Sweet and Lovely' and bouncy `Little Girl Blue' are great show tunes that jazz musicians love to work through, and Newborn lavishes their renderings here with technical wonderment. `Ray's Idea' (Brown's composition) is a bouncy, bop line that reminds me of Bud Powell and gives Jones an opportunity to exchange astounding, off-center `fours' with Newborn. `Stella by Starlight' lets Newborn settle into an almost complete solo approach to this wonderful tune. The bass introduction to `Tenderly' gives the listener a wonderful and all-too-rare example of the brilliant solo work of Ray Brown. `Cookin' at the Continental' (Horace Silver) is an up-tempo ride and Elvin is doing the cookin' behind his colleagues. For those interested in the origins of tunes, John Koenig, in his liner notes, tells us the story behind `Tenderly'. This beautiful standard was written by Walter Gross, pianist at the now defunct LA Sunset Strip club, The Embers. Ray Brown would go to listen to Gross and asked him to play this song and that's how Brown learned it. The song [Koenig says] was introduced by Sarah Vaughn in the late 1940s when Gross, as musical director for Musicraft Records, had Vaughn record it for that label. The things one can learn from liner notes. This recording by Phineas Newborn, Jr. is truly an example of buried treasure found."
Phineas, Jazz piano brightest star * !
Jazzcat | Genoa, Italy Italy | 01/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Man, Phineas Newborn with Ray Brown and Elvin Jones in 1969, this album (and the other two this trio recorded too) is absolutly SPECTACULAR !!!!!!!!! Incredible, incredible fantastic jazz trio music!! Phineas Newborn was REALLY one of the most technically brilliant two-handed pianists who ever played jazz. Few can match his ability at the keyboard. Tatum, Powell, Victor Feldman, Oscar Peterson, very few. Maybe Petrucciani in that kind of language. His lines are magnificient bebop lines with a really fantastic blues touch. The opener Harlem Blues tells the whole story. But when you'll reach Ray's idea, a typical bebop theme by Brown, you'll enter in jazz heaven ! A-MA-ZING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Absolutly to have if you love jazz. Phineas was STELLAR !!! I can't say more than this!! FIRE music !!!"