Calvin Newborn

New Born

Yellow Dog Records YDR 1159

Calvin Newborn, guitar; Donald Brown, piano; Charlie Wood, organ; London Branch, bass; Renardo Ward, drums; Herman Green, sax and flute; Scott Thompson, trumpet; and Ekpe Obioto, drums

This CD was recorded at the Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis. Calvin Newborn's musical genealogy is immaculate and Jazz fans will recognize the lineage, the father Finis and the brother Phineas. Calvin Newborn played on B. B. King's first recordings and reportedly taught Elvis Presley how to dance. But his Jazz roots are deep and the evidence is here. Of the eight tracks, six are Newborn's compositions.

The opening tune, "When Kingdom Comes/Sho'Nuff" is an intricate bebop arrangement with wonderful organ and horn solos and lush guitar styling by Newborn. "The Streetwalker's Stroll" is a brisk exercise of shifting tempos with each solo probing the melody. The Phineas Newborn, Jr. composition, "Newborn Blues," is a sultry slow blues, which is achingly beautiful. "Spirit Trane/Omnifarious" and "Restorations" are Coltrane inspired renderings and cross the threshold of abstract expression quite effectively. Newborn's approach to the Billy Strayhorn composition "Lush Life" is luscious and he handles this song with velvety tenderness. Newborn's composition of "After Hours Blues" is based on the standard "After Hours" and conveys soul in a slow drag that is unforgettably engrossing. "Blues & Beyond" closes out the CD with sparkling ensemble playing and a lighter feel which is an appropriate ending.

Newborn proves in this effort to be a guitarist of magnitude who explores the melody with extraordinary fluidity. This will be the best fifty-two minutes and forty-four seconds of music you will get anytime soon. If you buy one Jazz recording this year, make it this one!

by Dorothy L. Hill