CTI Records – The Cool Revolution

It’s here and we couldn’t be more excited!

CTI Records The Cool Revolution Front Cover Art

We here at Music Mook Review couldn’t wait to finally get our hands on this set and now that we have it we couldn’t be happier! It has exceeded all our expectations and then some. Let’s take a look shall we?

CTI Records: The Cool Revolution contains 39 CTI jazz tracks recorded between 1970 and 1975 spread across four discs. The set acts as a sampler for the new CTI 40th Anniversary reissues that are currently hitting stores. Each disc loosely follows a specific theme: Straight Up, Deep Grooves/Big Hits, The Brazilian Connection, and Cool and Classic. Regardless of theme, the tracks are all fantastic and many of them are new to me – my previous CTI experience has been limited thus far to Stanley Turrentine’s Sugar (reviewed here), Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Stone Flower, and George Benson’s Bad Benson. But we can tell you, with utmost certainty, that this set has more than peaked our interest into exploring the CTI catalog further.

The first thing that blew us away was the packaging which is pretty amazing, especially in today’s world of digital downloads that have no real identity. Of course, CTI was always big on packaging their stuff better than everyone else and this is no exception. You wouldn’t know it from any of the photos online but the set is actually presented as a 12 x 12 replica of a vinyl record, complete with an interior sleeve which houses the equally large booklet. The discs are seated in thick black cardboard and the whole thing is just a classy affair.

CTI Records The Cool Revolution Interior Booklet Photo Ron Carter

The print work on both the cover art and the booklet is nothing short of fantastic. Colors are bold and crisp and the interior session photos are wonderful. Special mention needs to be made of that way too cool shot of bassist Ron Carter who gets a full page spread. Very nice! There is a great write up about the history of CTI along with insights into the recording sessions from some of the musicians. The track information is extremely detailed and provides album cover photos, recording date information, and credits every single musician, even including the various members of the orchestra who added additional flavor to some of the sessions. Very nice touch!

As for the music it is absolutely sublime. Disc after disc and track after track the amount of quality material present is astounding. I knew CTI had some incredible musicians under their belt but this is just ridiculous. There is also an incredible depth of material on display that varies anywhere from classic jazz to funk to bossa nova to styles of music that defy labeling. There may only be 39 tracks but the range of styles throughout, and length of the jams, make it seem so much more. Oh, there is so much more.

CTI Records The Cool Revolution Disc Housing

I have been listening to these discs non-stop since they came in the mail last Friday and there is so much to discover it boggles the mind. The material is expertly played by consummate musicians who were all willing to work together on furthering the music. You’ll find Ron Carter plucking his incredibly deep bass, George Benson playing his amazingly fluid guitar lines, Billy Cobham drumming up a storm all over, and a whole host of top tier musicians lending a hand to each other’s albums. In this respect it almost sounds like a four disc set of a single band that had a revolving door of jazz characters coming and going. It is truly remarkable how each album has its own individual sound and direction and yet they all retain a similar feel. The magic of CTI I suppose…

And then of course there is the sound. That glorious, glossy, warm, rich CTI sound that just blows everybody else away in terms of detail and clarity. The digital transfers from the original 1/4 inch analog tapes sparkle with a sonic detail that is largely a lost art these days. I mean, you can hear everything – fingers slide across guitar strings, orchestras swell with tension and release, trumpets glow brightly, and bass notes resonate deeply. You can even hear the echo of Stanley Turrentine’s saxophone on a few tracks! There is an atmosphere to the recordings that is unlike anything else and you can actually hear the sound of the room. Yes, there is an audible air to the recordings that breathe with life…

CTI Records The Cool Revolution Back Cover Art

CTI Records: The Cool Revolution is an absolute mind blower of a set and went above and beyond expectation. Great care was taken to provide an excellent package coupled with excellent sound and they exceeded in every respect. They took everything we like about music, such as great sound, nice packaging, and detailed recording information, and put it all in one package. The music on display is truly remarkable and even after days of non stop listening we just can’t get enough. There is so much to discover within each disc, and more importantly within each track, that it bears repeated listening. This may just be the music release of 2010. Recommended without any reservation.

Tracklist

Disc One – Straight Up:

  1. “Sugar” – 10:04 – Stanley Turrentine
  2. “Moment’s Notice ” – 6:56 – Hubert Laws
  3. “So What” – 11:17 – Ron Carter
  4. “Autumn Leaves” – 7:05 – Chet Baker
  5. “Speed Ball” – 6:35 – Stanley Turrentine with Milt Jackson
  6. “The Intrepid Fox” – 10:43 – Freddie Hubbard
  7. “Ifrane” – 5:12 – Randy Weston
  8. “Free as a Bird” – 8:09 – Don Sebesky featuring Freddie Hubbard and Grover Washington, Jr.
  9. “So What” – 9:05 – George Benson

Disc Two – Deep Grooves/Big Hits:

  1. “Red Clay” – 12:09 – Freddie Hubbard
  2. “It`s Too Late” – 10:50 – Johnny Hammond
  3. “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” – 3:25 – Esther Phillips
  4. “We Got a Good Thing Going” – 5:55 – Hank Crawford
  5. “White Rabbit” – 6:55 – George Benson
  6. “Fire and Rain” – 7:55 – Hubert Laws
  7. “What a Difference a Day Makes” – 4:28 – Esther Phillips
  8. “Follow Your Heart” – 6:50 – Joe Farrell
  9. “Also Sprach Zarathustra” – 8:58 – Deodato
  10. “Mister Magic” – 9:02 – Grover Washington, Jr.

Disc Three – The Brazilian Connection:

  1. “Stone Flower” – 3:19 – Antonio Carlos Jobim
  2. “Ponteio” – 3:55 – Astrud Gilberto with Stanley Turrentine
  3. “First Light” – 11:05 – Freddie Hubbard
  4. “Salt Song” – 7:14 – Stanley Turrentine
  5. “Pensativa” – 6:14 – Hubert Laws
  6. “Tombo in 7/4” – 6:21 – Airto
  7. “Sunflower” – 8:50 – Milt Jackson
  8. “Return to Forever” – 10:13 – Airto
  9. “Wave” – 6:21 – Paul Desmond
  10. “Carly & Carole” – 3:38 – Deodato
  11. “Brazil (Alternate Take)” – 5:25 – Antonio Carlos Jobim

Disc Four – Cool and Classic:

  1. “My Funny Valentine” – 8:38 – Gerry Mulligan with Chet Baker
  2. “All Blues” – 9:35 – Ron Carter
  3. “Song to a Seagull” – 5:44 – Don Sebesky featuring Paul Desmond
  4. “Pavane” – 7:40 – Hubert Laws
  5. “What’ll I Do” – 3:54 – Chet Baker
  6. “Westchester Lady” – 7:23 – Bob James
  7. “A Child Is Born” – 9:22 – Kenny Burrell
  8. “Take Five” – 7:07 – George Benson
  9. “Concierto de Aranjuez” – 19:18 – Jim Hall

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