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George Coleman: The Quartet (Smoke Sessions)

It took nearly 20 years for tenor saxophonist George Coleman to bring his working quartet (featuring the late pianist Harold Mabern, in one of his final recording sessions, along with bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth) into the studio. That wait time is the only real complaint about The Quartet. It’s as straight-ahead an … Read More “George Coleman: The Quartet (Smoke Sessions)”

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Harold Mabern: Afro Blue

Though elder statesman Harold Mabern’s blocky, aggressive piano style may seem better suited to the small army of horn players he’s worked with-from Miles, Ornette and Freddie Hubbard to George Coleman and Eric Alexander-it’s worth remembering that Mabern’s early career also placed him with Betty Carter, Johnny Hartman, Sarah Vaughan and Joe Williams. At age … Read More “Harold Mabern: Afro Blue”

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Harold Mabern: Right On Time

Smoke, one of New York City’s most intimate hardcore jazz clubs, is the latest venue to branch out into the album industry. The organization hasn’t wasted time either, dropping Smoke Sessions’ first six discs before 2014 reaches its mid-point. All were recorded at the club, although one was made without a live audience present. The … Read More “Harold Mabern: Right On Time”

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Harold Mabern: Mr. Lucky: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.

Brisk, buoyant and gimmick-free, this straightahead quartet date is as unpretentiously satisfying as that first swig of cold beer after a hard day’s work. In the liner notes to Mr. Lucky, pianist Harold Mabern proclaims Sammy Davis Jr. to be “the greatest performer ever,” and this beaming tribute brims with the innocent insouciance of that … Read More “Harold Mabern: Mr. Lucky: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.”

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