All of the recordings by Tony Williams' hard bop quintet of the late '80s/early '90s are worth owning. Trumpeter Wallace Roney, Billy Pierce (on tenor and soprano), and pianist Mulgrew Miller offered consistently satisfying solos, bassist Charnett Moffett was excellent in support, and the drummer-leader constantly pushed his sidemen; in concert his "support" could nearly drown out the soloists. For this 1988 studio session, Williams contributed nine originals including "Pee Wee" from his days with Miles Davis. The music is generally straight-ahead and full of passion.
For a time in the early 1990s, some of the CDs from the Japanese DIW label were made available domestically through Columbia. This trio date by pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jack DeJohnette has Mabern originals dedicated to Sonny Stitt and Wayne Shorter, plus some offbeat standards and a pair of rarely performed John Coltrane tunes ("Straight Street" and "Crescent"). The interplay between the musicians is impressive and Mabern is heard throughout in excellent form. He closes the set with a piano solo that he titled "Apab and Others," after Art Tatum, Phineas Newborn, Ahmad Jamal and Bud Powell. This will be a difficult CD to find.
Tom Coster's more commercial albums (such as Gotcha!!) were far from bad, and certainly had more soul and integrity than so much of the homogenized drivel labeled smooth jazz. But even so, they failed to adequately demonstrate just how adventurous and commanding a soloist and composer he can be. Like Let's Set the Record Straight and The Forbidden Zone, From the Street is a gutsy, hard-edged and uncompromising fusion date defined by its passion, complexity and spontaneity. Instead of avoiding the cerebral, Coster thrives on it. The Santana graduate has plenty of room to let loose and blow, as do such inspired sidemen as tenorist Michael Brecker and his disciple Bob Malach. And Dennis Chambers' intense drumming is superb throughout this fine and often abstract jazz/rock/funk CD.
Coming along in 1976, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were part of a movement back to basic, pop-oriented rock & roll that has proven to be the most lasting legacy of a decade otherwise given over to such stylistic flameouts as disco and punk…