From the Blue Note 80 Vinyl Reissue Series
Curated by Don Was and Cem Kurosman
Mastered by Kevin Gray from the original master tapes
180-gram LP pressed at Optimal in Germany
Pete La Roca was one of those musicians with a long but under-sung career. He was a sideman to some great Blue Note leaders including saxophonists Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, and Joe Henderson, but he only ever recorded one date (1965's Basra) under his own name during the label's heyday, and indeed only three records total as a leader over a 50-year career. He was a drummer in the background in almost every sense.
Everything that La Roca did before making Basra was a prelude in his career, and all of his later accomplishments are anti-climatic in comparison with this album. In 1965 La Roca, a respected but somewhat obscure drummer gathered together an unbelievable quartet comprised of Joe Henderson, pianist Steve Kuhn and bassist Steve Swallow for the Basra album. This was the only time that this group ever played together yet they sound very much like a major band that had been performing this music for years. Henderson is in astounding form, inspiring the other musicians to create famous versions of "Lazy Afternoon," "Eiderdown" and "Malaguena," renditions that are not only memorable but became the definitive way to play these songs.
La Roca contributed three colorful originals that deserved to become standards while his very stimulating drumming helped to bring out the very best in the players. But it is Henderson who lifts Basra into the cosmos, making the album magical and one of the must-hear recordings of the mid-'60s!
3. Tears Come From Heaven
2. Lazy Afternoon