For regional house bands on the chitlin circuit in the early 60s, there was little distinction between blues, R&B and jazz - you had to play it all and do it well to keep your gig. In East St. Louis, it was hard to top Leo Gooden's band, particularly when guitar star Albert King was sitting in, as can be heard on the pre-Stax bonus tracks included on Ace's vastly expanded version of Leo's Five: Direct From The Blue Note Club.
As entertaining as those rare blues sides are, it's the hard-swingin' instrumentals like Cookin' With Chezie Mae, Frederick's Dream and Mop Water from the original album (which Gooden released himself when he found out Blue Note would only give him $5,000 for it) that will have fans of Hammond-backed mod jazz joints in ecstasy.
Case of Nerves
Long before becoming the celebrated folk troubadour he is today, Peter Case was the Rickenbacker-bass-thumping singer with the Nerves, one of the more moddish groups on the L.A. punk scene in the mid- to late 70s.
The One Way Ticket (Alive) retrospective disc finally brings together all their amazing early releases. You'll find Hanging On The Telephone (from the Nerves EP, which Blondie later popularized), along with set favourites recorded live and unheard demos that demonstrate the underappreciated skills of singer/guitarist Jack Lee. An enlightening slice of lost L.A. scene history worth investigating.
If you're looking for collections of spiritually uplifting jazz that stay off the beaten path, the tastefully chosen and thoughtfully sequenced Jazz Allnighters series for Japan's Columbia label by DJ/producer Tetsuo Sunaga are about as good as it gets.
The fifth instalment, seamlessly mixing rarely comped classics from Joe Wilder, Curtis Fuller, Nobuo Hara's Sharps & Flats, Art Farmer and Louis Hayes with new recordings by contemporary groups like the Invisible Session and the Five Corners Quintet, is easily the best of the bunch. That's why it was a pleasant surprise to find that Sunaga was recently topped by the deeper-digging Toru Hashimoto, whose Jazz Supreme - Spiritual Waltz-A-Nova (P-Vine) delivers even more obscure gems from John Hicks, Charles Greenlee, Doug Hammond and Joe Bonner and killer recordings from Two Banks of Four, Hipnosis and the Kindred Spirits Ensemble. Either way, you can't lose.