This trio continues to amaze. Think about all of the versions of “Oleo” out there. It would seem that all of the song's creative juice had long since dried up. The reality is that the musical lubrication is provided by the band. As usual, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette fly through the changes, giving Jarrett ample room to spin off runs in all directions. These guys may have played this tune many times before, but the freshness of their ideas really shows: check out the solo measures traded back and forth as the song reaches its climax. Really fun stuff.
Some people detest Maynard Ferguson. These are mostly dog-owners whose canines cower whenever Maynard assaults the ozone layer with his stratospheric trumpet. For the rest of us, it's impossible not to stand and salute this flag-waver recorded live at Birdland. Slide Hampton's arrangement is dynamite, and the band's performance is explosive. Dunlop's drums overly dominate the mix, but that's an audio not a musical blemish, which actually increases excitement. As a precaution, have the nurse check your pulse after you listen to this. And please DO NOT download Maynard's "Oleo" to your pooch's iPod. Doggie ears are just too sensitive.
Miles Davis first recorded "Oleo" in 1954 with its composer Sonny Rollins on tenor. Two years later, Miles was leading the era's most arresting quintet, built around a good cop/bad cop routine where, after Miles softened you up, Coltrane zeroed in for the kill. Revisiting "Oleo," Miles's improved arrangement features a distinctive Jones-Garland rhythmic figure and trumpet solos sandwiching terrific turns by Coltrane and Red. Trane's sound is as sharply honed as a Japanese kitchen knife advertised on late-night TV, slicing through rebar the way an ordinary knife slides through butter. Or, make that Oleo. Act now—supplies are limited!
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