Blue Note mines its vaults yet again, this time for a 10-disc compilation series available exclusively at Tower Records stores. Each individual disc features between five and nine tracks collected under a common theme, and eight of the 10 comps introduce recordings previously unavailable on CD. Thriftily priced at $8.99 each, the series presents a fine cross-section of classic Blue Note artists, while wisely leaning toward the soul-jazz and jazz-funk sides today’s DJ culture holds dear. Here’s what a few titles in the series have to offer:
Jazz Super Hits – A concise Blue Note hit parade, including Herbie’s “Watermelon Man,” Cannonball’s “Mercy Mercy Mercy,” and Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder.”
Blue Bossa Nova – Verve may be better remembered for transplanting Brazilian rhythms and melodies underneath American improvisation, but Blue Note turned out its own brand of after-dinner dance music with sides from Joe Henderson (“Blue Bossa,” “Recorda-Me”), Horace Silver (“Swingin’ the Samba”), and Ike Quebec (a previously out-of-print rendition of Kenny Burrell’s “Loie”).
Great Jazz Organ – a who’s who of organ monsters including classic tracks from Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff and newly reissued material from John Patton, Freddie Roach, Baby Face Willette, Reuben Wilson, and Brother Jack McDuff (“Ya’ll Remember Boogie,” a freewheeling chops-fest featuring guitarist Joe Beck and a spry Olu Dara on trumpet).
Soul Party – Culling groove-laden 1960s and early 1970s tracks without dipping too heavily into the label’s jazz-pop material, Soul Party collects Lou Donaldson’s ultra-funky rendition of Allen Toussaint’s Nawlins classic “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky (From Now On),” along with jazz interpretations of golden age soul hits. Stanley Turrentine tackles Sam Cooke’s “Shake,” Lonnie Smith reads Aretha Franklin’s “Think” (where David “Fathead” Newman and Lee Morgan blow accompaniment but aren’t featured), and Reuben Wilson wails on the Isaac Hayes-penned Sam & Dave hit “Hold On! I’m Coming.” Of course, no Blue Note Soul Party would be complete without Grant Green, and King Funk himself is featured on no less than three of seven tracks. While Green swings and grooves with grit through his sideman appearances, his contribution as a leader-“Never Can Say Goodbye” off 1971’s out-of-print Visions album-points to the guitarist’s role as a smooth jazz forebear.
To purchase CDs and learn more about the series, visit www.tower.com/bluenote.Originally Published