Picks and Pans Review: One Night with Blue Note Volumes 1-4

UPDATED 08/05/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/05/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

Various Artists

This stunning, three-hour, four-volume set, featuring 28 of the world's greatest jazz instrumentalists, was recorded live last February during a pull-out-all-the-stops concert at New York's Town Hall. The extravaganza celebrated the reactivation of the Blue Note label, which is now reissuing hundreds of the vintage mainstream jazz recordings it turned out from the late '30s to the '60s. The concert spanned every idiom from early bebop to post-fusion avant-garde. Herbie Hancock, for instance, played his 1966 tune Cantaloupe Island' with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, all of whom played on the original Blue Note recording. Hancock reaffirms the elegance of his acoustic piano playing on this vibrant piece, which is giant steps away from the funked-up, computer-driven sound he has favored recently. Alto saxist Jackie McLean and trumpeter Woody Shaw blast through McLean's up-tempo Appointment in Ghana. For devotees of more exploratory jazz, there is perennial avant-garde pianist Cecil Taylor, spinning past the outer limits on his demonic Pontos Cantados. Bobby Timmons' Moanin' gets the down-and-dirty treatment from a hard-swinging reunion of Art Blakey's early Jazz Messengers, including such alums as Hubbard, pianist Walter Davis, bassist Reggie Workman, trombonist Curtis Fuller, tenor player Johnny Griffin and, of course, the pied piper of percussion himself, Blakey. Guitarist Kenny Burrell and saxophonist Grover Washington trade licks on Summertime; Stanley Turrentine and organist Jimmy Smith team up on A Child Is Born. And there are original compositions by saxophonist Charles Lloyd and young guitarist Stanley Jordan. One Night With Blue Note is an inspired attempt to attract a new generation of listeners to one of the most respected jazz labels, and it should perk up the ears of older fans too. (Blue Note)

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