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  Listen Up! 10/28/02 Listen Up!

Monday, Oct. 28

The Ben Webster Quintet, “Soulville,” Verve Records. How you gonna argue with a band like this? Ben Webster on tenor sax (and piano on a few cuts), Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass, Herb Ellis on guitar, and Stan Levey on drums. It’s perfection, of course. These guys swing as easily as they breathe. It’s automatic for them. And, they are harmonically and melodically incomparable.

T. Rex, “The Slider,” Edsel Records. Probably the definitive T. Rex album. Certainly every track is great. If you’ve heard anything by these guys, and you’d rather go deeper than a greatest hits collection, get this one and “Electric Warrior,” and you’ll be fine for a while.

Art Ensemble of Chicago, “A.A.C.M., Great Black Music, Reese and the Smooth Ones,” Fuel 2000 Records. We’re going way back here to 1969, when the Art Ensemble was a quartet in exile from Chicago, living in Paris, creating whatever the heck came into their minds, which meant grabbing as many little instruments as they could, and moving back and forth between gentle sound effects and monstrous bursts of energy. Always inventive, always beautiful, always original, the Art Ensemble were never more vibrant than in those first years of discovery.

Jimmy Smith, “Root Down,” Verve Records. I’m thinking this has to be one of the greatest records I’ve never heard before. This live album from 1972 is the most exciting jazz organ music I’ve encountered. A lot of that is due to guitarist Arthur Adams (who?!!), a brilliant improviser who is the missing link between the work of James Brown’s guitar players and Sonny Sharrock. Oh, yeah, and give the drummer some! Jeez! The energy is palpable, the excitement never ends.

--Steve Pick



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