Tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks, although he lived until turning 42 in 1974, made his last recordings in 1961 and was soon forgotten. Brooks, who recorded with Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Freddie Hubbard, Freddie Redd, Jackie McLean, and Howard McGhee during 1958-1961, was a fine player whose smooth tone sometimes stood out from the crowd. Mosaic's four-LP set has all four of Brooks' Blue Note albums as a leader, two of which had not previously been released while one had initially come out in Japan years after his death; only True Blue was released during his lifetime. Brooks holds his own with his impressive sidemen (trumpeters Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Blue Mitchell, and Johnny Coles; pianists Sonny Clark, Duke Jordan, and Kenny Drew; bassists Doug Watkins, Sam Jones, Paul Chambers, and Wilbur Ware; drummers Art Blakey, Art Taylor, and Philly Joe Jones; and (on one cut) altoist Jackie McLean). It is ironic that all of those players are better known than Brooks and that Tina is more famous now (thanks to the release of this definitive box set) than he ever was when he was alive. Although now out of print, the music on this release is essential for hard bop collectors.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow