Sonny Criss

Lost Recordings

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This Lone Hill Jazz offering contains ten cuts from two different sessions featuring the late great Sonny Criss -- one of a pair of great altoists of the hard bop era. Placed in reverse chronological order, the first five cuts here feature Criss in the company of pianist Kenny Drew, trombonist Ole Hansen, bassist Phil Leshin, and drummer Buddy Rich. The sound is not terribly fine, but the music itself is a step above the recording quality in terms of burning soulful hard bop. Criss' solo on Miles Davis' "Four" sets the pace for the rest of this brief set. Other tunes include Frank Loesser's "If I Were a Bell," also closely associated with the Miles Davis Quintet, and a pair of fine cuts by Drew, "In a Prescribed Manner" and his strident "The Cinch." The second session comes from 1951 at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, with a larger group that includes tenor great Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, trumpeter Joe Newman, trombonist Bennie Green, drummer Kenny "Klook" Clarke, and bassist Tommy Potter. The tunes here are of much higher caliber in terms of speed, coming as they did straight from bebop, including a beautiful "Perdido," Eddie Greene's "High Jump," and a strange but smoking read of "How High the Moon" that begins with slapped bass and an intro that is boogie-woogie done in fine bebop style, with tight and blasting solos by Criss and Newman. Again, the sound quality isn't the greatest but it is more than satisfactory, and these tunes should not be missed by Criss collectors.

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