Heiner Stadler's Tribute to Bird and Monk (Labor 7074) (originally titled Tribute to Monk and Bird), newly reissued, is a case in point. When it came out as a two-record set on the Tomato label in, what, 1978(?) it was not a best-seller. It was one of those records that somebody could say was wrong." Perhaps a textbook case. It took a sextet (give or take) of some of the finest improvising musicians of the day (Thad Jones, George Lewis, Stanley Cowell, Reggie Workman, Lenny White, Cecil Bridgewater, Warren Smith) and gave them Heiner Stadler's rearrangements-recompositions of six Bird-Monk classics. The arrangements took the music out. Bitonality, harmonic expansion, rhythmic fracturing and all sorts of other things were done with the original head sheets. And the musicians took Stadler's ideas and made of them some phenomenal jazz.
Well the music is back in print, on one CD, and guess what? It is not going to be a best-seller this time either. But guess what else? It IS going to be one of those albums I might play for someone who wants to know what was RIGHT about the jazz of the sixties and seventies, if they hung around long enough for me to get to it. This one is still RIGHT. The music of the '60s and '70s is still right, too.