Mundell Lowe

A Grand Night for Swinging

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At one time a listener could place a CD like guitarist Mundell Lowe's A Grand Night for Swinging in the disc player and immediately date it to the 1950s. But the revival of many older styles by younger musicians like guitarist Howard Alden in the '80s and '90s has led to an overlapping of styles. This may make it difficult to match an album to a particular date, but it does help to make older styles more familiar and, thus, accessible. A Grand Night for Swinging is a nice set, featuring Lowe and a good supporting cast including pianist Billy Taylor, bassist Les Grinage, drummer Ed Thigpen, and, on three cuts, alto saxophonist Gene Quill. Known for his cooler tone and lighter touch at the time, Lowe had decided to record an album that proved he could swing a little harder. The set kicks off with the upbeat title track, a Taylor original, that finds Lowe bopping along with clean flowing lines, similar to Barney Kessel. The up-tempo pieces, like "Love Me or Leave Me" and "Crazy Rhythm," work best, pushing the band into fervent workouts. The addition of Quill on several selections adds depth and drive to cuts like "Blues Before Freud," creating something akin to Kenny Burrell's early-'60s work. That this recording should be re-released soon after 2000's Mundell's Mood is fitting; it's a reminder of a distinguished bop/cool tone guitarist who has recorded a number of fine albums since the 1950s. A Grand Night for Swinging will be a real treat for fans unfamiliar with Lowe's earlier work, and a satisfying selection for fans of good jazz guitar.

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