SONNY CLARK Cool Struttin’ (Blue Note)


Totally unfamiliar with the work of pianist Sonny Clark, this 1958 turned out to be a concise and compelling introduction. His accompanists here include Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, both purloined from Miles Davis’ group and two-thirds of the rhythm section that met Art Pepper (q.v.).  Musically, “Cool Struttin’” is in hard bop territory, albeit sounding sassier than the material Miles and Coltrane were recording around that time, a difference perhaps reflected in the cover art.


 All four long tracks are good, upbeat performances, but it’s the closing “Deep Night” that takes the cake. Charming, sparkling, light and fleet-footed, it’s a composition that I really wish the Bill Evans Trio had played at the Village Vanguard.


Sonically this is another of the better Japanese Blue Note 180 gram reissues, with a welcome lack of the distortion that has plagued other pressings in this initiative, albeit also without the stunning you-are-there realism that some rival Blue Note reissue series offer.