Howard McGhee

Dusty Blue

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The 1950s had largely been a waste for Howard McGhee, as drug addiction had taken its toll on his playing. But he is in good form for this 1961 studio session for Bethlehem, leading a septet with baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, trombonist Bennie Green, and tenor saxophonist Roland Alexander, with a top-notch rhythm section of Tommy Flanagan, Ron Carter, and Walter Bolden an added bonus. His delicious muted horn is the centerpiece of the lightly swinging take of "The Sound of Music" and strolling rendition of the normally bittersweet "Cottage for Sale," while he's on open horn for a snappy take of Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You." McGhee's explosive side comes out in bop favorites like "Groovin' High," yet he is just as powerful playing long notes in the lush ballad "With Malice Toward None." McGhee's originals are all enjoyable, though none caught on with other jazz musicians.

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