West Coast Blues is a stellar meeting of West Coast tenor sax great Harold Land, trumpeter Joe Gordon, and guitarist Wes Montgomery, with the East Coast savvy of pianist Barry Harris, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Louis Hayes. Recorded in May of 1960 in San Francisco while Harris, Jones, and Hayes were in town with Cannonball Adderly, this fortuitous meeting resulted in a fabulous album.
Let me just say that I am absolutely in love with this session. Harold Land and company are melodic, soulful, and swing like mad. In my opinion, the stand out track is the beautiful and haunting opener, "Ursula", penned by Land. The sextet also tackles Charlie Parker's "Klactoveedsedstne"(whew!), Wes Montgomery's yet to be classic "West Coast Blues", the Herzog/Holiday piece "Don't Explain", and two other Land compositions, "Terrain" and "Compulsion". Harris, Jones, Hayes, and Montgomery I've heard on other albums and are as solid as ever. Joe Gordon plays a mean trumpet, but the highlight for me was the tenor playing of the leader. Mr. Land has a smooth tone and an ear for the right phrasing. He never overplays, but delivers stirring bop track after track.
West Coast Blues is a prime example of musicians at the top of their game. Despite the quickly arranged sessions, the sextet plays like it's been together for years, a mark of superior musicianship. This is one of the most enjoyable jazz albums I've ever heard and would heartily recommend it to anyone.