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    Interview: Booker T. Jones

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    BookertxNot sure who Booker T. Jones is? If I took away "Jones," would that help? Yep, he's that Booker T. In today's Wall Street Journal (go here), I interview Booker T. of Booker T. & the M.G.'s about his new solo album, The Road From Memphis, as well as a range of other topics. [Photo by Jason Thrasher]

    Roy Orbison: Monument Singles

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    Roy-orbison-cryingWith images of lower Memphis awash in a swollen Mississippi River, I spent yesterday listening to Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection (1960-1964), a newly remastered, three-disc set from Sony Legacy. As readers know, I love everything about Memphis—the energy, the kindness of strangers, the ribs and pork shoulder, the city's rich blues and rock history, and the humidity. So Orbison's recordings were just right, reminding me how delightfully dark and somewhat misunderstood this early rocker was.

    Chris Byars: Lucky Strikes Again

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    Screen shot 2011-05-09 at 8.37.57 PMWhen the names of great tenor saxophonists are tossed around, the chain of succession generally runs like this: Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. All, of course, were reed titans, and Sonny still is. A half-step below this esteemed group is a second tier of greats that includes Don Byas, Wardell Gray, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Frank Wess, Frank Foster, Hank Mobley, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Wayne Shorter. Typically left out is Lucky Thompson [pictured], who was an exceptional musician in every way.

    Ronnie Mathews: Doin' the Thang!

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    P39203feccwRonnie Mathews is barely known today, but the pianist was a distinguished sideman starting in 1960 and a leader through the years. As a sideman, he appeared on Freddie Hubbard's Breaking Point (1964), Lee Morgan's Rumproller (1965) Max Roach's Drums Unlimited (1965) and Dexter Gordon's The Homecoming (1976), as well as on albums by many leading jazz stars. As a leader, one of Mathews' finest albums was—Doin' the Thang!, recorded for Prestige in December 1963.

    First Impulse: 50th Anniversary

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    6a00e008dca1f08834011570603d1b970b-200wiAfter Creed Taylor formed Impulse Records in the summer of 1960, his first move wasn't to record and release LPs. It was to develop a strategic marketing plan. First, Creed and Fran Scott, his art director (and Tony Scott's wife) designed a strong logo. Next, they chose orange and black for the label's color scheme. These colors have been used most effectively in a new four-CD set, First Impulse: The Creed Taylor Collection 50th Anniversary Collection (Universal).

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