COMPOSERS: Blue Note 7
LABELS: Blue Note
PERFORMER: Bill Charlap (piano), Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Ravi Coltrane, Steve Wilson (saxes), Peter Bernstein (guitar), Peter Washington (bass), Lewis Nash (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: 228 1232
Most members of this stellar group were born when Blue Note’s incandescence was waning, but they effortlessly demonstrate that the spirit of its heyday as an independent label, run by dedicated expat-Germans Alfred Lion and Francis Wolf, still informs and inspires the modern-mainstream of jazz.
All tracks are new arrangements of tunes dating from that era, the earliest being Monk’s ‘Criss Cross’. Classic sessions by Cedar Walton, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Herbie Hancock, Duke Pearson and Horace Silver, first-division musicians all, are lovingly evoked.
Just one niggle: no one seems able to re-create in the digital medium that edgy, three-dimensional, warmly-human analogue sound that engineer Rudy van Gelder achieved.
These made old Blue Note albums a riveting sonic and musical experience. It’s a subjective point: all-in-all this disc confirms that Blue Note is still an institution to cherish. Barry Witherden