Red Mitchell-Harold Land Quintet: Catacomb




Red Mitchell (bass) and Harold Land (tenor sax)


Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye! (Collectables COL-CD 6756)

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Red Mitchell (bass), Harold Land (tenor sax), Carmell Jones (trumpet), Frank Strazzeri (piano), Leon Petties (drums).

Composed by Harold Land


Recorded: Los Angeles, 1961


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

This track is a fine example of the work of this excellent but short-lived group. Though this was geographically a West Coast group, their music was much closer in spirit to the style of small-group jazz that was coming out of New York at that time. Harold Land was always one of the most underrated great players in all of jazz, and wrote many distinctive original tunes that appeared on recordings by Wes Montgomery and Bobby Hutcherson, as well as on his own dates. Red Mitchell was one of the most melodic bassists in jazz both as a soloist and accompanist.

"Catacomb" is an attractive 32-bar Land original that provides a stimulating sense of tension and release, both harmonically and rhythmically. It also features a hip off-kilter rhythmic figure that is used as a send-off into the solos.

Land's solo is notable for the combination of intense rhythmic drive, beautifully constructed lines, and distinctive gritty tone quality that made his playing instantly recognizable. Mitchell turns in a spare, warm-toned arco spot. Carmell Jones's solo is notable for its lyricism and warm, glowing sound. Strazzeri's solo is particularly noteworthy for the unconventional way he employs block chords with great rhythmic and harmonic variety. He builds tension by not using conventional right-hand lines until the bridge of his second chorus. Add Frank Strazzeri's name to the short list of jazz soloists who have strong individual styles yet remain practically unknown to the jazz public.

Reviewer: Kenny Berger

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