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by Seth Colter Walls

April 24, 2014

Blue Note Nuggets Vol. 3: 1957

by Seth Colter Walls  |  April 24, 2014

In honor of Blue Note's 75th anniversary, we've launched a series that takes a look back at hits and obscurities from one of the most important catalogs in all of jazz. From blues to hard bop -- and onto fusion and the avant-garde -- Blue Note has been there. Now you can be, too!

With dozens of memorable LPs issued in 1957, we struggled to keep this "nuggets" playlist to a manageable length. But there's no trouble in identifying the most iconic album of Blue Note's year: That would be [Blue Train], by one John Coltrane.

Aside from the two original compositions that open that set -- the title cut and "Moment's Notice" -- the album also featured some fine soloing from the label's rising trumpet talent, Lee Morgan. The Coltrane-Morgan nexus is foregrounded in our mix, too, on both sides of "Blue Train." (Before that track comes Coltrane's contribution to Sonny Clark's version of the Kurt Weill tune "Speak Low." And after "Blue Train," we feature Lee Morgan's trio cut "C.T.A.") The bassist on Blue Train, Paul Chambers, also scored that year with his version of "Chasin' the Bird," while Coltrane's trombone player, Curtis Fuller, also stunned with "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening."

Some more highlights: Pianist Bud Powell's 1957 effort for Blue Note may not have been as front-to-back classic as his debut recordings, but his swinging adaptation of Bach ("Bud on Bach") is justly famed. Elsewhere, Sun Ra saxophonist John Gilmore was heard outside the realm of the Arkestra on "Evil Eyes." And the Blakey Jazz Messengers band members we explored in Volume 2 of our series were present in 1957, as well. (Horace Silver brought us some "Home Cookin'," Hank Mobley navigated the "Lower Stratosphere" and the drummer himself indulged with a percussion-first album titled Orgy in Rhythm.) Last but certainly not least, Sonny Rollins not only cut a studio version of Thelonious Monk's "Reflections" (with the composer at the piano), but also brought out the first volume of his legendary A Night at the Village Vanguard. So click play, and start investigating this unforgettable year in Blue Note's history.

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