The recording session for Muse on September 13, 1977, that produced Sam Jones' Something in Common came only a day before the session that resulted in the acoustic bassist's Xanadu LP Changes & Things. Both albums find Jones leading sextets, although with different personnel. Trombonist Slide Hampton, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, and tenor saxman Bob Berg join Jones on both sessions; however, Something in Common finds Cedar Walton on piano instead of Barry Harris and Billy Higgins on drums instead of Louis Hayes. In the 1970s, Jones' recordings as a leader were quite consistent, and Something in Common is a rewarding example of the type of solid, hard-swinging bop and post-bop that people expected from him. The only Jones piece that the sextet embraces is "Seven Minds"; other selections were written by Hampton ("Every Man Is a King"), Walton ("Something in Common" and the better known "Bolivia"), and Mitchell ("Blue Silver"). Sadly, Mitchell's career was cut short only two years after Something in Common was recorded; in 1979, the Clifford Brown-influenced trumpeter died of cancer at 49. Originally released on vinyl by Muse, Something in Common was reissued on CD in 2000 with three bonus tracks - "One for Amos," "Shoulders," and Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" are from Walton's Muse release Firm Roots, which was recorded live in Rochester, NY, in April 1974. The group formed by Walton, Jones, and Hayes is essentially a bop trio even though Walton is on electric piano and the musicians are interpreting an R&B/pop hit. This CD is well worth hearing.
All Music Guide
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Original Liner Notes from Sam Jones' Something in Common
Though less well known to the general public than some bassists, Sam Jones possesses credentials which are second to none. As a young man in Miami during the late forties, he came into contact with the emerging beboppers playing in the bands of Billy Eckstine and Cab Galloway, and met Oscar Pettiford, Walter Page, and Milt Hinton. Absorbing such influences, he matured quickly and was soon working regularly. In 1949 he came to New York with the Paul Williams band, After a stint in Tiny Bradshaw's band, he worked in small groups with pianist Cedar Walton and trumpeter Kenny Dorham. In 1956 he began a decade-long association with Cannonball Adderley, interrupted only during 1957-59, when Connonball played with Miles Davis and Sam worked with Stem Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonius Monk. Sam finally left Cannonball's group in 1966 to replace Ray Brown in Oscar Peterson's trio, joing another Adderley alumnus, drummer Louis Hayes. After leaving Peterson, he worked most frequently in quartets with Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins, and a series of fine tenor players: Clifford Jordan, George Coleman, and Bob Berg. Sam's latest endeavor involves a twelve-piece band which he co-leads with trumpeter Tom Harrell.
For this session Sam gathered an accomplished and congenial group of veteran performers, forming an ensemble strong from bottom to top. Slide hampton, Cedar Walton, and Billy Higgins have been prolific contributors to the jazz scene for years, as has Blue Mitchell, whose association with Sam dates back to their early days in Miami. Bob Berg, the youngest member of the sextet, came to prominence playing with Horace Silver's quintet. As witnesses his performance here, Berg's continued devopment marks him as one of the handful of most important young tenor voices around.
Of the disc's six tunes, only one was not composed by a member of the group. Not only are all the originals fine compositions, but each benefits from a superb arrangement by its composer, Slide Hampton's Every Man Is A King is a strong uptempo line with an extended bridge / introduced by Sam's unaccompanied bass. Slide, Blue / Berg, and Cedar take a chorus each, after which Higgins solos for the first 16 bars of the theme on the way out.
For All We Know, arranged by Cedar, serves as a feature for the leader. Sam's rich, warm, and woody tone brings fresh vitality to this old standard; and Blue Mitchell contributes a graceful double-time chorus.
Mitchell's Blue Silver is a brisk, cheerful, bop-pish 20-bar tune, the titleof which refers to Blue's tenure in Horace Silver's quintet. Following the composer's three choruses, Berg, Slide, and Cedar dash through a pair each; then the soloists trade eights with Higgins' twelves.
The title cut, the first of two Cedar Walton compositions, is an intriguing chart offering solo space to all hands, Walton's popular, lightly latin Bolivia features polished solos by Slide, Cedar, Berg, and Sam.
Sam introduces his Seven Minds with an expressive, unaccompanied blues meditation, There follows an exciting, uptempo, modal, blowing tune which simulates Cedar, Slide, and especially Bob Berg to the most adventurous improvisation of the album. A powerfully developed reprise of the solo blues meditation precedes the concluding statement of the theme. The music on this disc is as free of gimmicks as music can be, Interesting tunes, well arranged, are played by a sextet of front rank musicians who have nothing to prove, but a great deal to communicate. One hopes that this album extends to a wider audience the respect which Sam Jones has long enjoyed among musicians.
- Walter Parker