Phineas Newborn, Jr. was one of the most 'romantic' of jazz pianists. This compact disc is highlighted by his interpretation of the legendary composer Harold Arlen's score for the Broadway musical, "Jamaica."
2 LPs on 1 CD: JAMAICA-PHINEAS NEWBORN, JR. PLAYS HAROLD ARLEN'S MUSIC FROM JAMAICA (1957)/FABULOUS PHINEAS (1958).
Personnel includes: Phineas Newborn, Jr. (piano); Sahib Shihab (alto & baritone saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet); Jerome Richardson (tenor saxophone, flute); Ernie Royal, Nick Ferrente (trumpet); Jimmy Cleveland (trombone); Les Spann, Jr. (guitar); George Duvivier (bass); Osie Johnson (drums); Willie Rodriguez, Francisco Pozo (bongos, congas, timbales).
Originally released on RCA (1589) & RCA (1873).
Personnel: Phineas Newborn, Jr. (piano); Les Spann (guitar); Jerome Richardson (flute, tenor saxophone); Sahib Shihab (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Ernie Royal (trumpet); Jimmy Cleveland (trombone); Osie Johnson (drums); Francisco Pozo, Willie Rodriguez (percussion).
Recording information: 09/07/1957-04/03/1958.
This single CD has all of the music from two of pianist Phineas Newborn's RCA records, except for leaving "Down Home" off from Fabulous Phineas due to space limitations. The first set is rather unusual since it was the pianist's only album with a medium-size (ten-piece) band. The ten songs are all taken from the Harold Arlen musical Jamaica, a forgotten play that did not generate any hits. Newborn and the musicians (which include trumpeter Ernie Royal, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, the reeds of Jerome Richardson, and Sahib Shihab and two Latin percussionists) play quite well, even if the material is mostly forgettable. The second half of the CD is on a higher level, a quartet date (with guitarist Calvin Newborne, bassist George Joyner, and drummer Denzil Best) that puts the focus on the leader's brilliant piano playing. In fact, these versions of "Cherokee" and "What's New" are unaccompanied piano solos; other highlights include "No Moon at All" and "I'll Remember April." This generous CD is a gap-filler since both of these Phineas Newborn albums have been out of print for quite some time. ~ Scott Yanow