During the 1960s, Earl Fatha Hines enjoyed steady popularity as a living icon of mainstream and traditional jazz. In 2008, the Lone Hill Jazz reissue label brought out a 21-track Hines retrospective focusing on the Classic Trio Sessions from that period. The first half of this delightful compilation taps into a friendly date with bassist Richard Davis and drummer Elvin Jones which took place in January 1966. Originally released on the album Here Comes Earl Fatha Hines and subtitled "Spontaneous Explorations," the recordings were overseen by the great experimenter, producer Bob Thiele. The earlier sessions, which took place in 1964, involved bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik and drummer Oliver Jackson, and yielded an LP's worth of tidily executed material which was issued on the Columbia label as The New Earl Hines Trio. The logical sequel to Classic Trio Sessions is Hines' masterful Impulse album Once Upon a Time, which is a serious contender for the best late period Hines ensemble album of them all. If you find yourself hankering for more of the Elvin Jones/Richard Davis interaction of this vintage, go directly to their collaborative Impulse album Heavy Sounds. Both of these, as well as the most inspired portions of Classic Trio Sessions, stand as monuments to the insightful production sensibilities of Bob Thiele.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf