20th Century Guitar Magazine / April 2003 / p79-80
BLUE NOTE RECORDS - One of the great American six & twelve string acoustic guitar legends, Georgia-native Leo Kottke is further honored with two all-instrumental CDs released in early 2003 on Blue Note Records. Leo Kottke Instrumentals: The Best of the Capitol Years features 18 tracks taken from six albums Kottke recorded on Capitol Records between 1970-1975. Discovered and signed in 1969 to Takoma Records by John Fahey, Kottke's early genius at combining country, bluegrass, ragtime, blues, Celtic, classical, and flamenco guitar music is readily apparent on The Best of the Capitol Years. In 1976, Kottke became the first American artist to sign with U.K.-based Chrysalis Records, debuting that year with a self-titled release. Kottke went on to record five albums for Chysalis, the best of which provides the contents of Leo Kottke Instrumentals: The Best of the Chrysalis Years. The eighteen track Chrysalis Years compilation - also complied by long time Kottke aficionado Jerry Roche - features a number of Kottke's '70s favorites, including tracks from 1983's T-Bone Burnett-produced Time Step, several unreleased tracks from the 1977 Montreux International Jazz Festival and a Kottke rendition of Duane Allman's "Little Martha" from the Time Step sessions. During the late 80's Kottke went on to record a number of albums on the now-defunct Private label, yet as Roche points out in his liner notes, Kottkes true legacy as an acoustic guitar master still lives in the groves of his early recordings for Capitol and Chrysalis. Blue Note has done a great job on both their Capitol and Chrysalis Best-of CD's, both of which are vital reminders of Kottke's amazing guitar skills.
"This is a great period from a great writer's life. After leavin' ABC records and hookin' up with Dave Bartholomew, Earl did some of my favorite recordings like "You're More To Me Than Gold", "Buddy Don't Lose Your Cool", and "Come On", which was recorded by Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. To me, my favorite songs are the personal ones like only Earl King can write."
Hank Jones Quartets: The Talented Touch & Porgy and Bess
Okra-Tone Records (2004)
Ben Ratliff - New York Times / June 6, 2004 / p24
HANK JONES - The discography of this pianist that is currently in print seems a shambles compared to what it should be: he's one of the last bebop-era masters who's still performing at a high level. So it's fitting that Okra-Tone Records has reissued two Hanks Jones records from the late 1950's, "The Talented Touch" and "Porgy and Bess", on a single CD combining both titles. It reaffirms his beautifully concise feeling for jazz styles from stride to post-bop and the authority of his swing.
Connecticut Entertainment / Owen McNally - Hank Jones' piano artistry has long set the standard for elegance, lyricism and clarity. Along with these classical graces, Jones, 85, is a hard-swinging player. Spare but beautifully selected, his fluent phrases are energized with an urgent sense of buoyancy. Whether as a collaborator on Joe Lovano's latest album, or on this reissue's sparkling selections from the late 1950's, Jones displays effortless brilliance. His unerring ability to hit the right notes and catch the right mood - all done with loping grace - make him the jazz world's equivalent of Joe DiMaggio at his best. Happily, Okra-Tone Records has reprised these two vintage LP's, "The Talented Touch" and "Porgy and Bess". Classy quartet sessions, they unite the pianist with bassist Milt Hinton, guitarists Barry Galbraith or Kenny Burrell and drummers Osie Johnson or Hank's recently deceased brother, Elvin Jones. Stocked with standards, "The Talented Touch" includes a stellar "Star Eyes" and an easy to love "Easy to Love". Savor Jones' luminous sound. It's rivaled only by a handful of such touch-and-tone keyboard masters as Tommy Flanagan and Ellis Larkins. On "Porgy and Bess", "Summertime" is all sunbeams and blue sky. It's the perfect day at the beach. Moods range from the melancholy of "My Man's Gone Now" to the exultation of "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'". And nuttin's plenty for me, as is this superb disc.
Michael Cuscuna (liner notes) - Chris and I were proud of this album and had high hopes, but the collapse of Poppy put it in limbo for three decades. Personal tragedies took Chris off the scene for much of the seventies. Happily, he has rebounded magnificently. Since the early 80s, he has toured constantly and made a series of excellent CD's for Hightone, the most recent being "Train Home", which promises to be his most satisfying and successful album to date. Along the way, he has re-recorded ten of the twelve selections from this album.
We're delighted that Jerry Roche and the folks at Okra-Tone have made the effort to finally issue it. Listening to it for the first time in decades, I was amazed at how fresh and vital it still sounds.