Recorded in New York; May 11, 1960.
Digital remastering, 1990 (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley)
Charlie Rouse's debut as a leader (not counting his earlier work co-leading Les Jazz Modes with the great French horn player Julius Watkins) was made for Jazzland and is available as an OJC CD. The distinctive tenor saxophonist, who had just started a decade-long stint as a member of the Thelonious Monk Quartet, teams up with trumpeter Blue Mitchell, pianist Walter Bishop, Jr., bassist Earl May, and drummer Art Taylor. Together they perform straight-ahead material including Rouse's own uptempo "Upptankt," the standard "They Didn't Believe Me," and songs by Mitchell, Kenny Drew, and Randy Weston. A fine modern mainstream jam session-flavored set.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
"Takin' Care of Business" is an expression currently very widely in use in jazz circles, but to use it properly you should reserve it for those no-nonsense occasions on which everything comes out just right and the job at hand is done unusually and excitingly well.
That makes it quite correct to apply the term to this hard-cooking album. It could also be properly applied to the overall jazz efforts of tenorman Charlie Rouse. The trouble, up to now, has been that Rouse takes care of business so professionally and unflamboyantly that it has been all too easy for people to overlook him. Not fellow-musicians: they've been aware for a long time. Ever since Charlie, who was born in Washington, D. C, in 1924, came onto the jazz scene in the '40s to play with Dizzy Gillespie, with Billy Eckstine's legendary bop-star-studded band, and with Duke Ellington. Bui jazz fans, and record companies, are usually less alert than musicians, and it has only been rather recently that there has been any sort of growing recognition of the fact that Rouse is a full-fledged big-leaguer.
One important factor both in gaining more attention and in bringing his playing talents into sharper focus has been that for the past couple of years Charlie has been working regularly in the quartet of Thelonious Monk. (He can be heard on several of Monk's recent albums for Riverside - Jazzland's parent label.) And now Rouse has his first opportunity to step out on a record and take care of business on his own. For this overdue debut, he has selected one of the fastest-rising young trumpet stars, the big-toned and inventive Blue Mitchell, and a firm rhythm section that includes pianist Walter Bishop and bassist Earl May, and is anchored by one of the best: Arthur Taylor, who has also spent much time with Thelonious.
Together they romp through a half-dozen tunes designed for 'blowing' freedom. There is Mitchell's striding blues line, Blue Farouq; Rouse's own top-speed Upptankt; a finger-snapping version of the Jerome Kern standard, They Didn't Believe Me, and pianist Kenny Drew's intricate Wierdo. Composer-pianist Randy Weston has contributed two new and well-above-average items: "204" (which is in the vein of his celebrated Hi-Fly), and Pretty Strange, an unusual ballad which features Rouse throughout, playing with a deep tone and depth of feeling that startled even the other musicians on the date.
- Orrin Keepnews