Liner Note Authors: Malcolm Mint; Jimmy Lyons; Ralph J. Gleason; Benny Green .
Recording information: Chicago (01/03/1963); Chicago (01/1960-02/1960); Chicago (02/13/1962-02/14/1962); Chicago (03/05/1957).
The two albums included on this spectacular double-disc collection were recorded for the Argo label in Chicago in 1960 and 1962, respectively. The first five cuts all feature Lorez Alexandria in the company of the Ramsey Lewis Trio (with Redd Holt and Eldee Young), plus guitarist John Gray. The last five tracks on disc one feature this quartet plus Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Joe Newman, Al Grey, and Freddie Green from Count Basie's group of the time. Ultimately, Early in the Morning is the most sophisticated kind of blues recording. The musical arrangements are both groove-laden and wonderfully impressionistic, allowing Alexandria's unusual delivery line plenty of space to play with on tracks such as "Trouble Is a Man," "I Ain't Got Nothing But the Blues," and "Rocks in My Bed." Deep Roots is the latter of these LPs; it was recorded with a killer group including trumpeter Howard McGhee, pianist John Young, guitarist George Eskridge, bassist Israel Crosby, and drummer Vernel Fournier (all members of Alexandria's performing group). The material is made up mostly of standards. It features Alexandria's readings of "Nature Boy," "I Want to Talk About You," "Trav'lin' Light," and "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise" in her signature style. As a bonus, the compilers included two different versions of her most famous cut, "Baltimore Oriole." There's the 1957 original version and the smash from 1963. Both feature Ronald Wilson's fluttering flute, and the latter includes bassist Jimmy Garrison from John Coltrane's quartet. The material has been remastered from analog tapes and issued by Lone Hill's Phoenix imprint, making for an indispensable collection for Alexandria fans. ~ Thom Jurek