Black Midnight Sun is the first release on the Dreyfus label by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Lucky Peterson, joined here by producer Bill Laswell on bass and former Parliament/Funkadelic drummer Jerome "Bigfoot" Braily. While the disc features a few Peterson originals, the majority of the album relies on cover versions. Luckily, Peterson picked several that he's well suited to tackle, including "Herbert Harper's Free Press" (Muddy Waters), "Lucky in Love" (Mick Jagger), "Is It Because I'm Black" (Syl Johnson), "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone" (Johnnie Taylor), "Talkin' Loud and Saying Nothing" (James Brown), and "Thank You for Talkin' to Me Africa" (Sly Stone). Black Midnight Sun is a combination of electric blues, rock, soul, and funk that, for the most part, works just fine.
With a constantly shifting series of musicians at her back, Purim turns in a correspondingly eclectic album, veering freely from the Great American Songbook to jazz-rock to Brazil and back again. However, this album begins in a somewhat unfocused manner – Flora does not sound completely comfortable with the songs in English – and only hits its stride somewhere in the middle, when the Brazilian elements really kick in. Of the standards, "Angel Eyes" is backed bittersweetly by the British saxophone quartet Itchy Fingers, and there is a leisurely, spare-textured "Midnight Sun" featuring George Duke.
One of the guitar heroes of fusion, Al di Meola was just 22-years-old at the time of his debut as a leader but already a veteran of Chick Corea's Return to Forever. The complex pieces (which include the three-part "Suite-Golden Dawn," an acoustic duet with Corea on "Short Tales of the Black Forest," and a brief Bach violin sonata show di Meola's range even at this early stage. With assistance from such top players as bassists Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke, keyboardist Barry Miles, and drummers Lenny White and Steve Gadd, this was a very impressive beginning to di Meola's solo career.
Although firmly identified with Benny Goodman and the swing era, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton led one of the most bop-oriented and forward-looking big bands of the mid-to-late '40s; for proof of that check out "Mingus Fingers" (by Charles Mingus) on this CD. This set reissues some of Hampton's most boppish sides from 1946-47 along with the original version of "Midnight Sun" and is full of extroverted solos and exciting ensembles. Although tenorman Arnett Cobb (heard in the earlier selections) and pianist Milt Buckner are the best-known sidemen, such musicians as the screaming trumpeters Jimmy Nottingham and Leo "the Whistler" Sheppard and tenors Morris Lane, John Sparrow and the young Johnny Griffin provide their own strong moments.