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LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Cool Struttin' (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
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Cool Struttin' is jazz pianist, Sonny Clark's most soulful and classic, Blue Note album. The recording features Jackie McLean on alto sax, Art Farmer on trumpet, Philly Joe Jones on drums and Paul Chambers on bass. Originally released in 1958, Cool Struttin' will be re-released as part of the overall Blue Note 75th anniversary vinyl reissue campaign spearheaded by current Blue Note Records President, Don Was.
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The original four tracks on this are all great, and though the title track seems to be the most beloved and does get the record off to a great start, it's the last of those original tracks, the standard "Deep Night" that carries the record to its peak; on this one, Clark's playing of the melody and an ideal tempo immediately carries the piece into a mood of incredible exhilaration, the kind of thing that made me fall in love with jazz in the first place.
Clark's piano playing is a joy throughout but getting back to what I said about him as a leader, another strength is his choice of sidemen, which is so imaginative as to be awesome here. Even if they played in the same circles, I'd never have thought of the laid-back, self-possessed Art Farmer and the aggressively passionate Jackie McLean as a front line, just because although I love both these musicians, they seem so different. But it's an inspired choice as it turns out--they seem to mutually stimulate each other as well as being energized by Clark (and, of course, Chambers and Jones, also in top form), and their solos, like Clark's, are a joy throughout the record.
I listened to the two extra tracks once and they don't add much even if they are perfectly good. My experience is that records are usually best with the original LP selection, and I recommend just listening to those four the first few times, especially because that great "Deep Night" brings it to such a satisfying close in that original sequence.
Well enough said. I don't think this needs to be oversold. Plainly, most others here love it too.