Orrin Keepnews Collection Grows with Classics from Tyner, Rollins, Montgomery and More

Earlier this summer Concord Music Group released the fifth installment in its Keepnews Collection, a series of reissues of albums with producer Orin Keepnews behind the boards. With releases spanning 1957 to 1976, each reissue features original liner notes supplemented by new notes written by Keepnews specifically for the collection, as well as scattered bonus tracks where available. The records featured include:

• McCoy Tyner-Fly With the Wind (1976): Keepnews calls Fly With the Wind “possibly [his] personal favorite” of the 17 albums he and Tyner worked on during eight years at Milestone Records. With a rare orchestra backing him up, Turner’s five compositions on the album, four of which are originals, soar with a cinematic quality. The compositions are so lush and full it’s remarkable to think how the album was recorded directly to tape with no overdubs or multi-layering over three days in 1976. Tyner serves as pianist, composer, arranger and conductor, with up to 18 musicians at any point backing him. Also included are two alternate takes of “Beyond the Sun” and “Rolem.”

• Wes Montgomery-Incredible Jazz Guitar (1960) and Nat Adderley Work Songs(1960): These albums appear here together because they might as well be companion pieces. Recorded in New York between Jan. 25 and Jan. 28, 1960, both albums feature Keepnews behind the boards and Wes Montgomery on guitar.

• The quintessential Wes Montgomery album, Incredible Jazz Guitar, is the finest work from one of jazz’s guitar greats. Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” features dreamlike playing from the guitarist, accented by Tommy Flanagan’s subtle piano work. Of the four Montgomery originals “Four on Six” features his most impressive playing, with lightning-quick syncopated licks throughout.

Work Songs featured a new musical adventure for Nat Adderley as he was attempting to create new and interesting sounds, with a sextet not of drums, bass piano and horns, but Adderley’s cornet flanked by guitar (Montgomery) and cello (Sam Jones). Bobby Timmons handles piano, Louis Haynes the drums, and Percy Heath, Jones and Keter Betts share bass duties. Widely regarded as one of Adderley’s best albums, Montgomery steals the show on Adderley’s brother Cannonball’s “Sack of Woe,” with the complete sextet.

• Coleman Hawkins-The Hawk Flies High (1957): Coleman Hawkins only wrote one song, album closer “Sancticity,” on this 1957 release, his lone record for Riverside records, but, backed by a young band, the Hawk is still in top form. Mostly a showcase for his young bop-schooled backing band, the album’s highlight may be pianist Hank Jones’ tight and succinct “Chant.”

• Sonny Rollins-Freedom Suite (1958): Highlighted by Sonny Rollins’ nearly 20-minute “Freedom Suite.” Playing in a simple trio with Max Roach and Oscar Pettiford allows Rollins room to breathe, especially in the continually shifting “Freedom Suite.” The album’s side two is a bit more structured and tight, favoring shorter compositions like the subtle “Shadow Waltz.” The Keepnews reissue features three bonus tracks: the first and third takes on “Till There Was You” and “There Will Never Be Another You.”