This CD reissue adds an alternate take and an unissued selection to the original program. Pianist Phineas Newborn's only recording of the 1963-1968 period, the trio outing with bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Frank Butler, finds Newborn's virtuosic style unchanged from the late '50s. As is usual on his Contemporary recordings, the pianist explores superior jazz compositions, in this case interpreting a song apiece by Benny Carter, Russ Freeman, Hampton Hawes, Art Pepper, Ornette Coleman ("The Blessing"), Carl Perkins, Frank Rosolino, Leroy Vinnegar, Jimmy Woods and Barney Kessel. Newborn's remarkable control of the piano was still unimpaired, and he is heard giving Oscar Peterson a run for his money.
Antonio Forcione is referred to as the Jimi Hendrix of acoustic guitar and his live energy has established him as one of the most cherished figures across the world. Touch Wood is a continuation of previous works, building an eclectic mix of Italian folk music with Brazilian, Spanish and Cuban sounds. Forcione enriches the experience by enlisting friends and musicians from across the globe. The album includes the outstanding title track, “Touch Wood,” an emotionally charged guitar workout, executed with Forcione’s effortless technique.
Touch of Class was an American soul and R&B musical group from Philadelphia featuring four members: the brothers Gerald Jackson and Pete Jackson, as well as Herbert Brevard and Michael Hailstock. The band was active from the mid-1970s until mid-1980s recording for Midland International Records and affiliated RCA label and had a hit with their debut "I'm in Heaven" reaching #65 on Billboard Hot 100. It was also the title of their debut studio album. By 1979, Michael Hailstock had left to concentrate on songwriting and the band turned into a trio. Their second album, the self-titled Touch of Class included their version of "Turn the Beat Around", a song written by Gerald and Pete Jackson and recorded by Vicki Sue Robinson in 1976 that gained big recognition and a big hit for her. the song is considered a dance/disco classic. It was also re-recorded by Laura Branigan in 1990 and by Gloria Estefan in 1994.
Mixing laid-back melodies with go-for-broke jams with some of the greatest names in modern instrumental music, saxophonist Bill Evans lives in the middle ground between smooth jazz and what could easily be termed of as contemporary jazz fusion. On his Zebra Records debut, Touch, the distinction is based on each song's sense of adventure. "In Your Heart," for instance, is the kind of right in the pocket, sweet little slice of passion that radio drools over, made unique (as Evans does on all tunes) by switching off from the high tones of the soprano with the darker shades of tenor to better discuss the emotional complexities of love. Likewise there's the cool, urban-flavored "Remember," which features subtle vocal chanting floating off in the distance. But then there's the edgier side of Evans intertwining his soprano with Lew Soloff's staccato trumpet energy on the brisk blues of "Dixie Hop," and kicking up all sorts of dust on the last two tunes, "Back to the Walls" and the ten-minute "Country Mile."
The elegant funk pianist dresses up his elegant playing, catchy melodies and familiar funk leanings with rhythmic excursions to Latin America, Brazil and Africa. A sticker on the wrapping of the disc touts the pianist as one of the true pioneers of smooth jazz, but that tag oversimplifies his uniquely global approach.