Bridget St. John has a small legion of fans willing to do battle for their hero, but to most she sounds like a pleasant, secondary British folk-rock artist of the early 1970s. Those impressions won't be changed by this, her third album, mixing low-key originals with covers of songs by Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly, as well as one of her most popular tracks, an interpretation of the traditional folk tune "Lazarus." Simply put, St. John doesn't come within bow-and-arrow range of Sandy Denny or Maddy Prior. She favors a low, slightly husky delivery that sometimes brings to mind what Marianne Faithfull might have sounded like in the late '70s had Faithfull's voice lowered naturally, instead of being ravaged. Reserve can be effective, but it sounds like St. John would need to be roasted over an open flame before her temperature rose.
[The album was reissued on CD in 1995, with the addition of eight bonus tracks from a live performance in 1972.]
Mixing the dusky romanticism of Dexter Gordon and the progressive tonal ideology of John Coltrane, Booker Ervin is often filed under "A" for amalgam alongside other overlooked tenor masters such as Tina Brooks and Hank Mobley. Structurally Sound is perhaps not Ervin's most provocative album, but a solid and tasty endeavor featuring the "suspended" chord sounds popularized by McCoy Tyner during the late '60s. Here, the chords come via the brilliant pianist John Hicks, who opens the album with funky high-end triplet figures on Randy Weston's "Berkshire Blues." Joining in is a well-selected roster of musicians, many of whom were also overshadowed by their more well-known contemporaries, including Charles Tolliver on trumpet, Red Mitchell on bass, and Lenny McBrowne on drums. Tolliver contributes the original composition "Franess," a Wayne Shorter-influenced affair that features his fat and burnished tone. They also cover Oliver Nelson's blissful standard "Stolen Moments" to good effect. Originally ending with an athletic up-tempo version of "Take the 'A' Train," the Blue Note Connoisseur Series reissue includes a sparkling "Shiny Stockings," featuring an especially inspired chorus by Ervin. An oddball version of "White Christmas" also makes it onto the disc, as do alternate takes of "Franess" and "Deep Night."