Eddie Harris (ts), Joe Diorio (g), Willie Pickens (p), William Yancey (b), Harold Jones (d)
Reference: VJ 019 CD
Bar code: 8427328410199
At last the legendary Vee Jay recordings are being released on CD with the best possible sound. During recent years these classic jazz albums have appeared on CD in different countries, in compilations that mixed mono and stereo masters, with errors in the titles and a variable sound. Now, this present edition has been carefully chosen from the best sources, and each track has been digitally remastered in 24-Bit high resolution. These CDs represent a real treasure for jazz fans all over the world, and we feel certain that they will enjoy them.
"This Vee Jay two-fer reissues Eddie Harris' first two albums, the surprise hit Exodus to Jazz and the similar-sounding follow-up Mighty Like a Rose. One of the biggest hit jazz LPs of the post-rock & roll era, Exodus to Jazz seemed to come completely out of left field. It was the debut album by a previously unknown artist from an underpublicized scene in Chicago, and it was released on the primarily R&B-oriented Vee Jay label.
The impetus for its breakthrough was equally unlikely; Harris adapted Ernest Gold's stately, somber theme from the Biblical film Exodus into a laid-back jazz tune. Its stunning popularity sent jazz critics into a tizzy after all, if it was that accessible to a mass audience, there just had to be something wrong with it, didn't there? In hindsight, the answer is no. Exodus to Jazz is full of concise, easy-swinging grooves that maintain the appealing quality of the strikingly reimagined title track (particularly Harris' four originals). Far removed from his later, funkier days, Harris plays a cool-toned tenor that owes its biggest debt to Stan Getz's bop recordings, though there are touches of soul-jazz as well. One can hardly blame Harris for taking essentially the same approach on the follow-up Mighty Like a Rose; it's not every day that a jazz artist's debut LP makes him a million-selling star overnight.
There are only two Harris originals this time around; the rest of the repertoire is mostly standards, plus another movie theme adaptation this time of "Spartacus." It's all well-executed, and Harris' command of the highest ranges of his instrument is as lovely as ever. Since these two sessions are very much of a piece, their pairing on a two-fer makes perfect sense, and results in the best available way to hear Harris' early sound".
—Steve Huey (All Music Guide)