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April 2009

Zoot Sims With Bucky Pizzarelli
Zoot Sims With Bucky Pizzarelli
Inner City
Earl Hines
Earl Hines Plays George Gershwin
Inner City
Abbey Lincoln
Golden Lady
Inner City
Urszula Dudziak
Future Talk
Inner City
Eddie Jefferson
The Main Man
Inner City

In the late 1970s and ’80s, Inner City was a label whose quality and quantity of releases were consistently impressive. Irv Kratka recorded and leased music that spanned from swing and Dixieland to bop, hard bop, fusion and unclassifiable mood music. Out of action for 20 years, the Inner City label has recently been coming back strong, releasing more than two dozen reissues ranging from a few by bassist David Friesen, steel drum master Andy Narell, the forgotten but worthy fusion group Dry Jack, and Sun Ra (including Live at Montreux), to stride pianist Dick Wellstood’s Fats Waller Revisited and the only LPs by the 1920s vaudeville act Butterbeans and Susie and tap dancer Baby Laurence.

Five of the Inner City reissues are particularly noteworthy. Zoot Sims With Bucky Pizzarelli is a little-known duet set from 1976 by the relentlessly swinging tenor and the always-tasteful guitarist. Earl Hines Plays George Gershwin completely reissues a former two-LP set on a single CD and finds the immortal pianist still in explorative form in 1973, 45 years after he recorded his gems with Louis Armstrong. Abbey Lincoln’s Golden Lady, which includes definitive versions of “Throw It Away” and “Caged Bird,” teams Lincoln with Archie Shepp in 1981. Urszula Dudziak, an innovative singer whose inventive use of electronics accentuated her adventurous explorations, creates unique music on Future Talk. Eddie Jefferson’s The Main Man was the vocalese pioneer’s final recording. Whether it be “Benny’s From Heaven” (which has been adopted by James Moody), a tribute to Coleman Hawkins on “Body and Soul,” “Freedom Jazz Dance” or “Moody’s Mood for Love” (with a guest appearance by Janet Lawson), this set features Jefferson at his best and serves as a retrospective of his career.

Originally published in April 2009
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