Dizzy Reece - Star Bright (Blue Note, 1959)
Trumpeter Dizzy Reece moved around quite a bit as a young man, from Jamaica to London and then finally to New York City where he hooked up with Blue Note Records. On this album, he is joined by a big time hard-bop crew including Hank Mobley on tenor saxophone, Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums. A Reece original "The Rake" opens the album with a smooth descending bass intro that leads the group into a strutting theme. There is a confident trumpet solo over walking bass, piano and drums, before Mobley steps up and emits a fluid and pungent solo. Kelly sneaks in a probing piano solo over bass and drums and then the horns come back in together to play the theme of the song.
"I'll Close My Eyes" features trumpet over hopping piano trio accompaniment for a melody statement before Mobley jumps in for a smooth and confident solo over an upbeat tempo. Fast paced trumpet re-enters and Reece plays a strong, lengthy solo before giving way to piano and bass solos. "Groovesville" has a jaunty Red Garland-ish piano intro before the trumpet enters. Mobley takes a deep solo, then Kelly gets another nice feature over bass and drums. Both horns come back in staggered formation to finish the song. "The Rebound" finds the group charging out of the gate together before Reece takes over with a strong solo over a thumping bass line. He hands off to Mobley who continues to keep things moving along at a brisk pace. The merry-go-round of solos then moves to Chambers who takes a deeply felt bass solo with the horns riffing underneath. Things calm down to a medium boil with "I Wished On the Moon" with Reece taking a long, unhurried solo. Mobley's solo swings well at this tempo as well. Kelly takes a swirling solo on piano before the rest of the band returns to take the song out.
"A Variation on Monk" smoothes out some of Thelonious's rougher edges on the final tune with some jumpin' blues flavored piano and the band riffing hard on the opening. Mobley gets the opening solo here in a change of pace coming on strong and fast. Good solos emerge from Reece and Kelly and some hard drums breaks draw attention to Taylor in between the horn riffs before all the musicians return to the hard chugging melody to finish. Hard bop fans should find a lot to enjoy on this one with some great individual solos and solid ensemble work. Hopefully this re-issue will help this overlooked figure get some well deserved recognition.
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