The music on The Mellow Side of Clifford Jordan is rarer and more valuable than one would think from the outside packaging of the CD. Nowhere does it mention that the seven selections were previously unreleased and, despite its title, not all of the music is taken at a slow ballad tempo. These spontaneous performances, recorded by Mapleshade during Clifford Jordan's visits over a four year period, feature him in unusual settings. "Embraceable You" teams the distinctive tenor with organist Mike LeDonne and Brazilian drummer Edison Machado. "C.J.'s Riff" features a unique trio comprised of Jordan, fellow tenor Carter Jefferson and drummer Nasar Abadey who, having not brought his instrument along, plays a percussion set comprised of pots and pans. The same trio plus trombonist Julian Priester and baritonist Fred Cook (with Jordan switching to soprano) somehow sounds like a full group on "Five 'N' Free" despite the lack of piano and bass. Jordan teams up with trumpeter Kenny Reed (whom he had never played with before) and pianist Larry Willis for an emotional "Trees" and "Soul Eyes." In addition, Jordan plays duets with guitarist Ruby Turner ("Jug's Groove") and takes soprano with pianist Chris Anderson ("Daydream"). Although not completely flawless, the music is quite rewarding overall and displays the flexibility and creativity of the late great Clifford Jordan.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow