Paul Chambers

High Step

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While Paul Chambers and John Coltrane get top billing, this collection is valuable for strong performances from each member of the elite company on this 1974 Blue Note two-fer that compiles tracks from three Chambers-led sessions. Coltrane, Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones are the common denominators on these mid-'50s hard bop dates. They are joined by pianist Kenny Drew on six tracks recorded in Los Angeles. There are also the four tracks from Whims of Chambers that included Coltrane. Trumpeter Donald Byrd, pianist Horace Silver, and guitarist Kenny Burrell are all at the top of their games on these sextet performances. The remaining tracks are pure blowing sessions. A sextet with Pepper Adams on baritone sax, Curtis Fuller on trombone, and Roland Alexander on piano makes interesting work of Barry Harris' title track and the 11-minute "Trane's Strain." The long, slow "Nixon, Dixon and Yates Blues" is a wonderful opportunity to hear just the trio of Trane, Jones, and Chambers up close. These three tracks and the six with Drew have been reissued on the CD Chambers' Music. Chambers, naturally, is featured prominently. His bowed and pizzicato work here is among his best. Jones is a dynamo -- powerful, swinging, creative, a source of energy and inspiration for the others.

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