These Are My Records: Yusef Lateef’s “Detroit (Latitude 42 30, Longitude 83)”

Clocking in at slightly over half an hour, this album is about the same length as the theoretical optimum for any visit to Detroit. But unlike its sprawling namesake, this record is tight, focused and organized, a high-energy blend of jazz and funk that, at times, feels like it could drift into prog-rock territory with no more provocation than a stiff breeze. The city of Detroit has seen (heard?) its share of musical tributes; “Yusef Lateef’s Detroit” has to rank among the best of them.

These are my records: Soviet Funk, Vol. 1

Various artists – “Soviet Funk, Vol. 1”

An excellent record, but if you’re hoping to find Bootski Collins here, keep looking. This is more early ‘70s-style funk-jazz than straight-up funk, which probably shouldn’t be surprising because, honestly, how funky were the Soviets back then, really? As a side note, I’ve yet to hear a Secret Stash release that I don’t love. Best tracks: “Vyrodok” and “Gostiny Dvor.”

These are my records: The Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes

Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery: “The Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes”

The organ trio (B3 organ, guitar and drums) is one of my favorite jazz combo formats, and Jimmy Smith set the standard for a very long time. This record sounds lounge-y at first but is loaded with sneaky jazz chops. The Smith / Montgomery take on Petula Clark’s “Call Me” really gets into a funky little groove and is worth the price of the record all by itself.

These are my records: Jazz Impressions of Japan

The Dave Brubeck Quartet – “Jazz Impressions of Japan”

Let’s get something out of the way up front: this album sounds like Dave Brubeck, and if you’re at all familiar with his work you know exactly what I mean by that. I’m more interested in asking the question, what should we expect a jazz impression of Japan to sound like? There’s not a lot of overt eastern influence in the melodies (though you can hear some, here and there). Rather, the overall sound of the album is urban, energetic, sophisticated and modern … which is probably not a bad guess at how Japan in 1964 actually sounded.