It's hard to get a keen grasp of what the concept or unifying thread might be behind this compilation, other than that it's all 1960s New York jazz, and was mostly issued on the Riverside, Prestige, and Milestone labels. If the idea was to simply make an anthology of 1960s New York jazz, that's as impossible to adequately reflect in a single CD (and for that matter a box set) as 1960s London rock would within a single disc. The music itself, though, isn't any the worse for the thematic vagueness. It's a good (and, at 76 minutes, long) disc for those who aren't diligently building a thorough jazz collection, but want some reasonably wide-ranging samplers of quality sounds around. Tenor saxophonists Gene Ammons (on "Ca'purange (Jungle Soul)") and Willis Jackson (on "Nuther'n Like Thuther'n") dovetail with soul-jazz; vibraphonist Johnny Lytle seems to be making an exotica homage with "The Village Caller," and lays down some downright infectious and danceable "Milestones"-like riffs on "Selim." When that's followed by the R&B-informed jazz of Phil Upchurch's "Muscle Soul," you might begin to suspect this is aimed toward listeners with inclinations toward the more accessible pop spectrum of jazz. But actually this contains its share of straight-ahead contemporary and even somewhat experimental sounds with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers' "Ping Pong," Yusef Lateef's "Love Theme From Spartacus," Joe Henderson's "The Kicker," and Cannonball Adderley's cover of Lateef's "Brother John" tribute to John Coltrane. George Braith and Joe Dukes aren't well-known names, but organ jazz fans will have heard of accompanists John Patton and Grant Green, who play on Braith's "Cantaloupe Woman," and Jack McDuff and George Benson, who play on Dukes' "The Soulful Drums."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger