Various Artists: Verve//Unmixed2 (2003)
This compilation presents the source material, the original Verve sessions (most produced by Norman Granz or Creed Taylor) for the Verve//Remixed2 project. Female vocalists dominate, with two songs each from Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald plus tracks by Astrud Gilberto, Betty Carter, and Sarah Vaughan. Unmixed2 cuts from Cal Tjader, Willie Bobo, and Dizzy Gillespie also highlight Verve’s contributions to Latin jazz.
Co-composed with Walter Fuller and Chano Pozo, “Manteca” is one of Gillespie’s most enduring and hard-driving Latin vehicles, and this celebrated live at Carnegie Hall concert recording gets rocked hard by bassist Art Davis and three percussionists. Gillespie is all fire and brimstone business, and the percussion break before the climactic call-and-response ending is the stuff of musical legend. Gillespie and Pozo also co-wrote this title track to Tjader’s Soul Sauce LP, served in barely more than a quick dash but still spilling over with Tjader’s vibes. Willie Bobo, one of Tjader’s percussionists on “Sauce,” continues to serve just the right mix of relaxed groove and hot Latin spice in the next cut, “Fried Neckbones and Some Homefries.”
Miss Sarah is the very personification of sophistication as she sashays through “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees, while Ella glides with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra through the Gershwin’s “Slap That Bass” from the Astaire/Rogers’ film Shall We Dance, then returns with the sad ballad “Angel Eyes” in duet with whispering guitarist Barney Kessel.
Ramsey Lewis on electric keyboards rocks hard with bassist Cleveland Eaton and Earth Wind & Fire founder and stalwart Maurice White on drums through “Do What You Wanna,” one of those old-school, good-time soul instrumentals that modern music sadly seems to have left behind... yet still sounds simply great.
Track Listing: Manteca; Sinnerman; Whatever Lola Wants; Brother, Where Are You?; Slap That Bass; Blues for Brother George Jackson; Angel Eyes; Do What You Wanna; Soul Sauce (Guachi Guaro); Friend Neck Bones and Some Home Fries; Naima's Love Song; Mama; Here's That Rainy Day; Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair
Personnel: Dizzy Gillespie; Nina Simone; Sarah Vaughan; Oscar Brown, Jr.; Ella Fitzgerald; Ramsey Lewis; Cal Tjader; Willie Bobo; Betty Carter; Hugh Masakela; Astrud Gilberto and Walter Wanderley; Nina Simone