Clifford Jordan Quartet

Royal Ballads

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Clifford Jordan was still an important tenor saxophonist during the years prior to his death in 1993, though his final recording for Criss Cross is one of his lesser known dates. With pianist Kevin O'Connell, bassist Ed Howard and Ahmad Jamal's former drummer Vernell Fournier, Jordan's performances are all top-shelf quality throughout this 1986 session. In addition to a swinging waltz treatment of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and a gorgeous rendition of the standard "Little Girl Blue," he explores the music of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk with equally strong results. The leader's sole original is "Royal Blue," which has a tense, somewhat menacing introduction, then lightens up into a more familiar closing-hour blues setting as Jordan finally makes his entrance. The drummer contributed the easygoing Latin tune "Armando." Any fan of Clifford Jordan will want to seek out this release.

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