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Medina & Spiral (1968)

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Stanley Cowell

Medina was another Bobby Hutcherson/Harold Land Quintet session that didn't see the light of day until over a decade later (recorded in 1969, issued in 1980). Again, it's hard to see why, given the high quality of both the group and their music, which seemed to get lost in the shuffle of jazz's late-'60s upheaval. Granted, it may have been a shade less distinctive than Hutcherson's earliest sessions, but the levels of composition and execution remained top-notch. Drummer Joe Chambers, pianist Stanley Cowell, and Hutcherson each contribute two numbers apiece, and each is advanced and has at least something of its own flavor -- the Erik Satie influence on Hutcherson's gentle "Comes Spring," for example, or the meditative Eastern feel of Cowell's flute-centered "Orientale." Chambers and bassist Reggie Johnson turn in some of their finest work with the Hutcherson-Land unit, as many of the pieces incorporate stuttering, rapidly shifting rhythms and frequent time-signature changes. Soulful yet firmly modern, this group was solid from top to bottom, and Medina is yet another fine piece of supporting evidence. Blue Note reissued Medina as part of a CD two-fer with Spiral.] ~ Steve Huey