SONNY CLARK TRIO - THE 1960 TIME SESSIONS - Jazzmessengers blog
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You don’t have to be a Blue Note fetishist to know that pianist Sonny Clark made at least one great and enduring album, the 1958 hard bop classic “Cool Struttin’, though the cult of Cool Struttin’ has driven up the price of original pressings to the $4000 range and higher.
Clark died of a heroin overdose in 1963 five years after the release of Cool Struttin’, which didn’t allow the hard bop pianist to construct a robust discography or a great deal of visibility among jazz aficionados.

Also conspiring against Clark were the trendy critics of that time who had moved on from hard bop to “the next big thing”, which was the more experimental music of Miles, Mingus, Coleman and others.

That is why so little was written about Clark and why there does not exist a full interview. The older hard bop guys like Grant Green, Lou Donaldson, and Stanley Turrentine —now revered by Blue Note fans because they were among that label’s stars—were considered not as exciting compared to “the new thing” artists. Clark, though a youngster, was categorized with them.

Sonny Clark’s reputation as one of the finest jazz pianists of his era has grown in recent years, with many folks rediscovering his classic Blue Note recordings like ‘Cool Struttin’, ‘Dial ‘S’ for Sonny’, ‘Leapin’ and Lopin’, as well as session work with Lee Morgan, Grant Green and others.

Clark’s legacy continues to expand. The Time sessions were produced by the late Bob Shad, owner of Time and Mainstream Records. The reissue includes the original Time album re-mastered from the original tapes by Dave Donnelly, plus an extra disc of alternate takes previously unavailable on vinyl. Nat Hentoff wrote the original liner notes, included in the reissue package, and former New York Times critic Ben Ratliff contributes a new 3500-word essay.

No matter what, there is no doubt that Sonny Clark was highly esteemed among musicians and listeners. Time has only done Clark a favor and confirms this particular album as the jewel it is. The sound is warm, crisp and clear, just like Clark’s piano and the original notes from Nat Hentoff supplemented by Ben Ratliff’s eloquent and detailed notes. This is the way jazz re-releases should be done and one can only hope that Tompkins Square will do more jazz re-releases like this in the future.

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