Collector’s Corner

VOICES Notes and news on Collector's Corner releases

Q And The Cos

23 APR 09 ANNE FARNSWORTH

Bill Cosby's '80s-era sitcom was actually the second "Cosby Show." The first aired from 1969-71 and was groundbreaking in many ways, not least being the Quincy Jones-produced soundtrack -- a series of funky jazz/soul jams featuring an astounding group of musicians. Released for the first time, The Original Jam Sessions - 1969 (Concord) epitomizes all that was hot, fun and groovy about the black music scene in the '60s.

The 11 tracks are a sneak peak, a seat in the corner where a top producer has gathered the cream of L.A. studio musicians, letting them cut loose. You can almost hear the laughter and goofing around that must have gone on between takes.

The mostly 12-bar blues-based tunes are effortlessly tight. Bassist Ray Brown, bandleader on these sessions, is known worldwide for his sophisticated jazz playing. Here he takes it back to basics, driving the rhythm with palpable pleasure.

The pianist roster is amazing: Joe Sample, Les McCann, Clare Fischer and Monty Alexander. I may overuse the word "historic" when reviewing Concord reissues, but come on -- where else would these four marquee names be in a room together? On acoustic and Fender Rhodes, they often play together in the same song, as in "Eubie Walkin'," "Monty, Is That You?" and the Edwin Hawkins anthem, "Oh Happy Day." Vibist Milt Jackson and organist Jimmy Smith also make appearances. And then there's Cosby, adding his cool, humorous and highly musical scat vocals to "Hikky-Burr," the show's theme song.

in this playlist.