It took awhile, but Blue Note has finally seen fit to honor one of its best with a best-of disc. And thanks to rabid fans like John Zorn and hard bop fanatics the world over, pianist Sonny Clark has also gotten the kind of reissue program such label cohorts as Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter, and Lee Morgan have been blessed with for some time. Culled from Clark's short but potent prime of 1957-1961, the first five sides here (out of nine) come from his particularly fertile first year, when such classic LP's as Dial "S" for Sonny, Sonny's Crib, and Sonny Clark Trio were cut. Besides an urbane slice of Clark's single note style ("Softy, As In a Morning Sunrise"), this batch features two of his marquee originals (the Far Eastern-tinged, noirish blues swingers "Sonny's Crib" and "Dial S For Sonny") and an exquisite early Coltrane vehicle ("Speak Low"). Things get even better with the title track to his hard bop masterpiece, Cool Struttin', and the Ike Quebec feature, "Deep In A Dream," from the equally fine Leapin' and Lopin' album. Add to that an all-star list of hard boppers like Mobley, Curtis Fuller, Donald Byrd, Art Farmer, Charlie Rouse, Paul Chambers, and Philly "Joe" Jones, and you have a very classy way of staving off the Clark shopping spree that is sure to come.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook