Hank Jones, the father of Detroit's piano legacy (preceding Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris and Roland Hanna) is teamed on this Concord CD with the typically superb bass of Dave Holland, the supportive drumming of Keith Copeland and (on half the songs) Ken Peplowski's alto (with just a touch of his clarinet). Jones performs a diverse yet unified set of standards and originals. His use of celeste on a moody "Lazy Afternoon," his Monkish "Intimidation" and a trio romp on "Speak Low" are among the highpoints of the excellent release by an ageless master.
Eric Alexander has had many opportunities to record as a leader for several different labels, though producer Tetsuo Hara, owner of the Japanese label Venus, has become a huge fan, recording him almost any time he travels to New York City. This 2008 session finds the tenor saxophonist with several musicians with whom he is very familiar, including pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist John Webber, and drummer Joe Farnsworth (the latter two who play with Alexander in the co-op band One for All)…
Difficult as it may be for younger listeners to believe, there was a time when ECM released adventurous improvised music. Back near its inception in the early '70s, the label issued a wide variety and decent number of challenging avant-garde recordings that represented some of the most forward-looking musical thinkers of the time. One of these was Marion Brown, who, at the time of this session, was about midway between his extreme post- Coltrane explorations and the luscious, down-home evocations of Georgia that he would create for Impulse! over the next few years. He gathered 11 musicians, including a couple from the then current Miles Davis Bitches Brew band (Chick Corea and Bennie Maupin), the then little-known Anthony Braxton, Andrew Cyrille, and the late great vocalist Jeanne Lee for two side-long, wide-ranging pieces.
Gold Afternoon Fix should have been a consolidation of the band's increased commercial profile and cachet after "Under the Milky Way," heightened by the welcome reissue of the band's first five albums. Unfortunately, the Church's original choice for producer – John Paul Jones, who likely would have helped oversee a total masterpiece – was rejected, leading to another session with Wachtel. This time the balance between accessibility and art didn't succeed as planned. The end result is an album that's sometimes fantastic, sometimes merely there.