Blue Mitchell - Blue's Moods 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Brian Kahn   
Tuesday, 27 February 2001

Blue Mitchell
Blue's Moods
format: CD
label: JVC XRDC
release year: 2001
performance: 9
sound 9
reviewed by: Brian Kahn

This new release is from a 1960 recording session featuring some of the most prominent musicians of the time, passionately playing good old-fashioned jazz. In addition to Richard "Blue" Mitchell on trumpet, who came to prominence after his 1958 Riverside release, this recording also features Wynton Kelly, Sam Jones and Roy Brooks. Kelly, who regularly played with Miles Davis, is regarded as one of the best jazz pianists of his time. Jones, bassist extraordinaire, was a founding member of the Cannonball Adderly Quintet. Roy Brooks, the drummer, was the least known member of this quartet. The relative lack of fame was mainly due to his younger age, as his percussion work is more than solid.

As the title Blue’s Moods suggests, this album explores a wide range of different moods, rather than just one straight emotional line. This album takes the listener on a journey, much as life does. The journey starts with the medium-tempo standard "I’ll Close My Eyes" and then moves into the upbeat "Avars" and "Scrapple from the Apple." "Scrapple from the Apple" is a well-known Charlie Parker piece that can also be found (in two different versions) on Disc 6 of the Charlie Parker box set recently reviewed here. Mitchell does not rely solely on the jazz standards written by others, as the next two tracks, "Kinda Vague" and "When I Fall in Love," were written (or co-written) by Mitchell. "When I Fall In Love" is an incredibly soulful ballad piece that brims with emotion. The album ends with an upbeat standard, "I Wish I Knew."

While only two of the tracks on this album were written by Mitchell, the rest being standards available on many, many other jazz albums, this album belongs in every jazz aficionado’s collection. The quartet assembled for this recording manages to skillfully infuse tremendous amounts of passion and soul into their music, giving it a life of its own.

The sound quality of this particular release is exceptional. I was torn between rating the sound of this album at a very good 8 or an outstanding 9. I chose 9 because, despite the limitations imposed by the recording technology of 1960 when the music was actually recorded, I believe the JVC XRCD team was able to coax the most out of the available masters. There are a few moments when the restrictions of the 1960 recording process become noticeable, but they are fairly rare and limited in scope. Kudos to the XRCD team at JVC and welcome back.

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