1999 U.S. CD collection.
The compilers of this CD wisely resisted dubbing it "Ragas and Ragtime," although that would have been an apt title. Surprisingly, it's also a compatible mix that finds saxophonist Joe Harriott and violinist John Mayer's unique fusion of styles in the same jewel case as Jazz at Jazz Ltd.'s traditional jazz virtuosity. The double quintet on 1967's Indo Jazz Fusions consists of Harriott's jazz quintet and Mayer's group of Indian instrumentalists. Little known outside of the British jazz scene, Harriott was well-regarded for his pursuit of Charlie Parker's legacy into freer terrain. That aspect, though, is downplayed on this project, where the focus is on the writing and arranging, and the possibilities available in a complete integration of the players. A product of a time when sitars and tablas were de rigueur hippie accoutrements, the set has an appealing pop sensibility, at times sounding like the music from a lost Peter Sellers movie or an episode of the Mission Impossible TV series. No mere time capsule, however, the music remains fresh, engaging, and original.
Jazz at Jazz Ltd., from 1960, also transcends its stylistic era with energy and musicianship that have no room for the staid, museum treatment that Dixieland and ragtime sometimes get. The group is led by clarinettist Bill Reinhardt, whose Chicago club Jazz Ltd. was a longstanding outlet for the best players of traditional jazz. Reinhardt and the rest of the front line perform with fire and imagination, but the keys to the drive behind this music are the blues foundation provided by Max Hook's piano and the drumming of Freddie Kohlman and Doc Cenardo, who bring almost a bop feel to the rhythm section.
Jim Todd ~ AllMusicGuide
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