Incredible! documents a unique musical encounter, the first time that Jimmy Smith has recorded with another organist, the equally great Joey DeFrancesco. First DeFrancesco is heard with his usual trio (with guitarist Paul Bollenbeck and drummer Byron Landham), racing through heated versions of "The Champ," "When You're Smiling," and "Indiana" in addition to an emotional rendition of "The Good Life." The music is as exciting as one would expect from DeFrancesco. For the second half of the CD, Smith and his trio join the younger organist on a pair of medleys. The first one starts out with the blues "The Reverend" but then, after three-and-a-half minutes, it segues into an odd wandering version of "Yesterdays" before closing with "My Romance."
The great tenor saxophonist and flutist Lew Tabackin is joined by pianist Hank Jones, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Victor Lewis on this well-rounded program. The Concord CD has many highlights, including "Hot House," Duke Ellington's "Serenade to Sweden," Tabackin's "A Bit Byas'd," and "You Leave Me Breathless"; the leader's tenor in particular is in top form. Highly recommended to fans of straight-ahead jazz, this release gives one a strong sampling of Lew Tabackin's talents.
The original Crystal Silence (recorded in 1972) was and still is one of the strongest early releases on the then relatively new ECM Records. Pianist Chick Corea and vibist Gary Burton have been working as a dynamic duo for over 35 years now, releasing many CDs in duo form and with various ensembles. The playing on the original Crystal Silence is almost telepathic and the scope of the compositional direction wide, enough to produce a riveting album never hampered by the 'limited' orchestration of just piano and vibraphone. The New Crystal Silence seeks not merely to revisit the past, but expand on this enduring musical relationship. The most obvious manifestation of the transformed Crystal Silence is that one of the two CDs of this set is with the Sydney Symphony, performing Tim Garland's arrangements of Corea compositions.
The very first release by the Concord label was a quartet set featuring guitarists Herb Ellis and Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Jake Hanna. Ellis and Pass (the latter was just beginning to be discovered) always made for a perfectly complementary team, constantly challenging each other. The boppish music (which mixes together standards with "originals" based on the blues and a standard) is quite enjoyable with the more memorable tunes including "Look for the Silver Lining," "Honeysuckle Rose," "Georgia," "Good News Blues," and "Bad News Blues." This was a strong start for what would become the definitive mainstream jazz label.
Beside Marty Paich, none of Mel Tormé's collaborators exerted such a large influence on the singer's career as George Shearing, the pianist whose understated, expressive accompaniment contributed to Tormé's resurgence during the early '80s. Their six excellent albums together – two of which, An Evening With… and Top Drawer, earned Grammy awards – proved that classic vocal music had outlasted the long night that was the '70s, and emerged to become a timeless American genre. The pair's work for Concord was usually recorded live in a trio or quartet setting; leaving much space for Shearing solos, Tormé occasionally reprised his big standards ("A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," "Lullaby of Birdland," "The Folks Who Live on the Hill"), but often searched for more obscure material he could make his own, and often succeeded. Tormé and Shearing were restless innovators, taking on a full album of World War II standards, medleys devoted to songs about New York and by Duke Ellington, and a stunningly broad range of material: "Oleo," "Lili Marlene," "How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?," and "Dat Dere."