Lee Morgan - The Cooker

Lee Morgan The Cooker (Blue Note 1957)

Just twenty-years of age, Lee Morgan came into his own as a leader on his 1957 album The Cooker.

Lee Morgan - The Cooker

Personnel

Lee Morgan (trumpet), Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone), Bobby Timmons (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Recorded

on September 29, 1957 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 1578 in 1958

Track listing

Side A:
Night In Tunesia
Heavy Dipper
Side B:
Just One Of Those Things
Lover Man
New-Ma


To be sure, the young lion had already arrived as one of the hottest cats on the scene. Two weeks prior to the September 29 session of The Cooker, Morgan played on John Coltrane’s Blue Train session on September 15. Nice work if you can get it. That summer, Morgan had played his last gigs with the Dizzy Gillespie band, which he had been part of since the spring of 1956, appearing on Dizzy In Greece, Birks’ Works and Dizzy Gillespie At Newport. Around that time, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson recommended the Philadelphians Lee Morgan, pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jimmy Merritt to Art Blakey, whose career could use a boost. The rest is history. Morgan played with The Jazz Messengers from 1958 to ’61 and 1964 to ’65, contributing to landmark albums as Moanin’ and Meet You At The Jazz Corner Of The World. The Cooker already was Morgan’s sixth album as a leader, his fifth for Blue Note, preceded by City Lights and followed by Candy. On the preceding albums many of the tunes were written by expert tunesmith Benny Golson. The Cooker presents the first Morgan compositions on wax: Heavy Dipper, a long flowing melody which shows the influence of Golson, a very swinging tune. And New-Ma, a mid-tempo blues with a twist, a tune that begs to be played by Ray Charles, a feat that naturally values the song as highly recommended.

Make this one of those albums to put on if you, like Art Blakey so many years hence, need a boost. Leave that Red Bull be, sugar kills, jazz feeds. Morgan and baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams absolutely deliver food for the soul, the pairing of Morgan’s buoyant, hip and urgent style with Adams’s husky, dynamic baritone playing is a meeting of high and low registers in creamy, relaxed themes that’s very satisfying. Then there’s Philly Joe Jones, crips, dirty, probing. A fast take of Just One Of Those Things has Philly Joe nudging Morgan with propulsive ride cymbalism, sparse snare rolls and feathered bass, subsequently stoking up the fire and seducing Morgan to turn in blistering hot runs. Such a pleasant stay ensembles have in front of Philly Joe Jones’s kit. Like gliding above the Alps on the wings of a hawk.

Timmons’s crafty blues tale during the ballad Lover Man makes tasteful use of space and silence. Silence, it must be noted, is of equal importance in jazz than the notes. Paul Chambers sounds delighted, embellishing the loping tempo of the ballad’s middle section with fat, exquisite phrases. Pepper Adams bops hard, evoking Charlie Parker in Just One Of Those Things. Lee Morgan is thrilling throughout and killer bee during Night In Tunesia, the album’s highlight. Stimulated by the sparkling cross-rhythmic groove of Jones and Chambers, which only occasionally gives in to the release of a 4/4 section, Morgan’s entrance cracks nuts, whereupon Morgan joyfully excurses into a elongated section of double time. He ends with a honky-tonky coda that’s beautiful for its simplicity.

Morgan the ultimate cooker on trumpet? Convince me of the contrary. Regardless of some low points in his life due to his reckless drug abuse, he would keep burnin’ until that fateful day in 1972, when his common-law wife Helen Morgan fatally wounded the trumpeter by a gunshot at Slugs’ Saloon in New York City.

Julian Priester - Keep Swinging

Julian Priester Keep Swinging (Jazzland 1960)

No either/or for trombonist Julian Priester, who switches smoothly from avant-garde and fusion to hard bop, and back. His 1960 debut album on Riverside, Keep Swingin’, fits neatly in the latter category.

Julian Priester - Keep Swinging

Personnel

Julian Priester (trombone), Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Sam Jones (bass), Elvin Jones (drums)

Recorded

on January 11, 1960 at Plaza Sound Studio, New York City

Released

as RLP 12-316 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
24-hour leave
The End
1239A
Just Friends
Side B:
Bob T’s Blues
Under The Surface
Once In A While
Julian’s Tune


Here’s an open-minded gentleman who isn’t satisfied to keep playing in the same bag for the rest of his days. In high demand by stalwarts of modern jazz, Priester played and recorded with Max Roach, Art Blakey, Johnny Griffin, Blue Mitchell, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, Clifford Jordan, Stanley Turrentine and McCoy Tyner. Then too he was part of Sun Ra’s orchestra on and off from 1956 to 1995. In the early 70s, Priester held the trombone chair in the Duke Ellington Orchestra. One year – 1969 – Priester was featured on organist Lonnie Smith’s The Turning Point, the other – 1970 – he joined the experimental Mwhandishi band of Herbie Hancock for three years. Priester cooperated with Charlie Haden, Eddie Henderson, Dave Holland and Anthony Braxton. Yet, his teenage years in Chicago, where Priester was born in 1935, were spent on stage with blues and r&b legends as Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. Well, avant-garde doesn’t mean anything if it at least has a semblance of the roots, right? Right. Discussion forum’s open. Draft or bottle?

One can imagine what attracted Duke Ellington to Julian Priester. Priester is skilled in the modern approach of pioneer J.J. Johnson, not a specialist of certain techniques like the earlier Ellington trombonists, but his sound is tart and joyful. His fluent lines have sustained swing and his phrases have built-in blues feeling. In 1960, while he was part of Max Roach’s group, Priester set himself in the limelight with two releases. Generally, Spiritsville is the album that gets the attention on the world wide jazz web. It’s a fine album that boasts the challenging tune Excursion and a great ballad reading by Priester of It Might As Well Be Spring. However, it’s weird that Keep Swingin’ is largely ignored.

There’s swing and then there’s swing. Spiritsville, with McCoy Tyner, Sam Jones and Art Taylor in tow, has no lack of it. Yet I feel that, somehow, the juices aren’t really flowing, the spirit is held in check by God knows what. Something between the devil and the deep blue Hudson River. Keep Swingin’ may not be a classic session, but it has the edge on Spiritsville.

The line-up includes tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Elvin Jones. The stars stood in the right spot, the time was right, the guys were in sync, in a happy mood, comfortable. The Detroit cats, Elvin Jones and Tommy Flanagan, were cracking jokes, is what one is liable to imagine. Because the mood is right. The session is relaxed yet urgent. There are a number of blues-based tunes like Heath’s 24-Hour Leave, Priester’s Bob T’s Blues, bop-inflected tunes like Priester’s The End, Under The Surface, Charles Davis’ 1239A, the standard Just Friends and the Edwards/Greene ballad Once In A While. Bob T’s Blues is a low-down mean slow blues.

Priester’s in-your-face handling of the Just Friends melody after the solos, coupled with his booming sound, is a gas. Jimmy Heath is fiery and gutsy. Flanagan is sprightly as spring water. His lines, full of ideas, move so effortlessly! Sam Jones and Elvin Jones are tight-knit and greasy, Elvin Jones is on top, teasing Sam like (although they’re not related) the older brother throwing curve balls to the kid brother with a bat that’s too big for comfort. They’re like a steam locomotive that, if asked for, could keep running from here to eternity, and back. Priester is at the wheel, smiling.

Julian Priester lives in New York City, where he plays and teaches.

Listen to Keep Swinging’ and Spiritsville back to back on Spotify below.

Eddie Baccus - Feel Real

Eddie Baccus Feel Real (Smash 1963)

Eddie Baccus is the Speedy Gonzales of the Hammond B3 organ. Still, Mr. Baccus keeps up a remarkable clarity of line, as can be heard on his 1963 album on Smash, Feel Real.

Eddie Baccus - Feel Real

Personnel

Eddie Baccus (organ), Mose Fowler (guitar), George Cook (drums), Charles Crosby (drums), Theoshis Tannis (flute B1)

Recorded

in October 1962 at Universal Recording Studios, Chicago

Released

as Smash 67029 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Feel Real
Out Of Nowhere
Stranger On The Shore
Blues At Dawn
Side B:
A Breath In The Wind
Flight 464
Phoebe
In A Minor Groove


For a long time now, it has been Eddie Baccus Sr. Until recently, the 81-year old, blind organist performed with his son, saxophonist Eddie Baccus Jr. Baccus was born in Lawnsdale, North Carolina in 1936. Soon after birth, the young Eddie turned blind. He grew up in Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, where he came under the tutelage of Roland Kirk. Until then, Baccus was a pianist, but he took up the organ whilst in Kirk’s group. The group had a nine-month residency at the 100 Club in Cleveland. When Kirk went to New York to join Charles Mingus, Baccus remained in Ohio with drummer Charles Crosby. Kirk had recommended Baccus to Jack Tracy, label boss of Smash Records. And so Feel Real came about.

The only album by Eddie Baccus as a leader, Feel Real, features a tight-knit, cookin’ trio including guitarist Mose Fowler and drummer George Cook, who alternates with Baccus’s old pal Charles Crosby on a number of tunes. Baccus is a heated cat, functioning somewhat as the proverbial talented teenage organist that underlines the Baptist preacher’s fire-and-brimstone speeches in a church way down south. To be sure, it’s kind of a BOP church in a way. Plenty of greasy sermons are commented upon by quicksilver figures that very likely are grounded in Baccus’s past as a pianist who was influenced by Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. The bravura of Baccus is underlined by impeccable timing on top of the beat. The frenzied ‘more is more’ approach does, however, makes part of the congregation, not least the sinner at the desk of Flophouse Magazine, rather jittery. There’s a limit to stuffing multitudes of notes in a bar.

Fans of good old organ grooves will love Feel Real’s zest, expertise and diverse repertoire. Baccus provides a couple of catchy blues-based tunes that effectively make use of stop time. Feel Real is a delicious ditty, featuring Baccus as a NASCAR driver dangerously close to the boards, his tires practically burnt to pulp. His razor-sharp intro of Flight 464 is a gas. Blues At Dawn is a variation of Charles Brown’s Driftin’ Blues. It’s down-home stuff taken at a leisurely medium tempo, underscored by the in-your-face sound of the Baccus B3. The group puts a good groove into Out Of Nowhere. A lithe touch is added to the album in the guise of Roland Kirk’s A Breath In The Wind, a deconstruction of the traditional theme-solo-theme format that features lovely, breathy flute playing by one Theoshis Tannis. Obviously, Tannis is a pseudonym for Roland Kirk.

Baccus even takes a shot at Acker Bilk’s Stranger On The Shore. May sound like kitsch. But don’t worry, the waves washed plenty of sleaze and dirt to the coast line on this one too.

Listen to Feel Real, Blues At Dawn and A Breath In The Wind on YouTube.

Johnny Griffin - Grab This!

Johnny Griffin Grab This! (Riverside 1962)

Who knows what Johnny Griffin meant by calling his tune and album Grab This!. It might be jazz slang we’re not familiar with. Sounds positively like the equivalent of Up Yours!. Signifying the front instead of the rear end, to be sure. Regardless, ‘grab this’ is the only possible advice to real jazz customers. The tenor saxophonist’s 1962 Riverside album, coupling him with organist Paul Bryant, is one of the grittiest in his book.

Johnny Griffin - Grab This!

Personnel

Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone), Paul Bryant (organ), Joe Pass (guitar), Jimmy Bond (bass), Doug Sides (drums)

Recorded

on June 28, 1962 at Pacific Jazz Studio, Los Angeles

Released

as RLP 437 in 1962

Track listing

Side A:
Grab This!
63rd Street Theme
Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
Side B:
Offering Time
These Foolish Things
Cherry Float


Label owner Orrin Keepnews liked Johnny Griffin very much. On the advice of Thelonious Monk, he had tried to sign “The Little Giant” in 1956, but Blue Note had been a step ahead. Griffin’s sparse but impressive stint at Blue Note consisted of three albums, A Blowing Session with John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Art Blakey being the absolutely epic standout. In 1958, Keepnews finally got hold of Griffin and offered him plenty opportunity to excel, placing him in differing contexts, from quintet to big band, from straightforward repertoire to folk or gospel concepts. (The Kerry Dancers, Big Soul Band) Simultaneously, Griffin recorded a string of tough tenor albums on the Riverside subsidiary label Jazzland with fellow tenorist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. As a result of Riverside’s bankruptcy in 1963, Griffin’s stretch with the label came to an end. Griffin, who had started with Lionel Hampton in the 40s, cooperated with Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey in the 50s, recorded prolifically as a leader but, embittered about the underappreciation of mainstream jazz at the expense of free jazz, settled in Europe, where he stayed for the rest of his life, one of the icons of hard bop tenor.

It was hard to compete with Johnny Griffin, monster tenor saxophonist, who really could bop someone in the ground at the breakneckest of tempos, meanwhile keeping clarity of line, double-timing with the hellhound on his trail. But obviously he was not just a technician, but instead a melodist that sincerely interpreted a song. Most of all, he was full of Charlie Parker and full of blues, a lava burst of indelible, wailing notes. Griffin was a lively, entertaining personality on stage, especially later in his career onwards from the 70s, whose relentless bop fests and meaty ballads were of a consistently high level and wildly exciting.

Coming from Chicago, it was natural for Griffin to put groove to good use. There’s no shortage of it on his next to last Riverside session, Grab This!, which also featured organist Paul Bryant, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Doug Sides, musicians who were working on the West Coast at the time. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and Griffin, veteran of the bands of Joe Morris, T-Bone Walker, Arnett Cobb, spreads an abundance of grease on the bright yellow soccer ball that was hanging above the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Likely, Griffin was in L.A. to perform, met a bunch of fine musicians, called Orrin Keepnews, ‘Say Keeps, want me to do a session with these cats? About time for a greasy affair, right!’

No complaints about the blues tunes that Griffin used for the occasion, particularly considering the meaty backing of drummer Doug Sides and the especially responsive accompaniment of organist Paul Bryant. Bryant is exceptional. He’s not just your run-of-the-mill-grinder, but instead accompanies responsively and uses a lot of space in his solos. The B3 sounds gutsy, in-your-face. Moreover, Bryant’s variation of sounds is striking. He contributes a gospel-tinged tune, Offering Time. In it, guitarist Joe Pass, who recorded on quite a number of soul jazz sessions before becoming a big name, and quite expertly and gritty too, quotes Things Ain’t What They Used To Be during his solo. Blues-based tunes are especially attractive breeding grounds for quotes and Paul Bryant had his say as well during Griffin’s flagwaver, Cherry Float, suavely embellishing his Hammond organ tale with a fragment of Thelonious Monk’s Rhythm-A-Ning.

Griffin breathes, quite literally too, life into the ballads Don’t Get Around Much Anymore and These Foolish Things. He’s having fun with the blues, juxtaposing bop clusters with belligerent shouts during his original tunes 63rd Street Theme and Grab This!. Grab This! is especially cool. Actually, it’s a definite ‘up yours’ to safe playing. Griffin’s phrases refreshingly pop out of the changes like the cork out of a champagne bottle, not once but over and over. Jazzy New Year. At the end of the party, Griffin somehow, a bit wobbly from the booze and dizzy from the firecrackers, lands on his feet. Bit of risk taking won’t hurt. Makes it all the more worthwhile. Got enough accountants already. There are no accountants on Grab This!, unless you count Orrin Keepnews, who counted the money and was finished awfully quick, having to file for a bankruptcy together with his associate Bill Grauer soon after. Nothing to be ashamed of. And lest we forget, Keepnews came back doggedly and successfully a couple of years later with Milestone records.

Full album on YouTube here

Dave Bailey Sextet - One Foot In The Gutter

The Dave Bailey Sextet One Foot In The Gutter (Epic 1960)

Solid, swinging drumming and great line-ups marked the albums drummer Dave Bailey made as a leader in 1960-61: a sudden burst of activity set off by One Foot In The Gutter.

Dave Bailey Sextet - One Foot In The Gutter

Personnel

Dave Bailey (drums), Clark Terry (trumpet), Junior Cook (tenor saxophone), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Horace Parlan (piano), Peck Morrison (bass)

Recorded

on July 19 & 20, 1960

Released

as Epic LA 16008 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
One Foot In The Gutter
Well, You Needn’t
Side B:
Sandu


Cogniscenti and colleagues were in for a surprise when Dave Bailey quit the jazz life to become a flight instructor from 1969 to ’74. He somewhat returned to the scene when he picked up educational work for Jazzmobile in New York City after his stint on the airport. However, Bailey is remembered most of all as a top-rate drummer of the hard bop period, present on plenty fine albums from Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller, Stan Getz, Grant Green and Jimmy Smith. Three long-time associations stand out: Gerry Mulligan (1955-66), Lou Donaldson (1957-61) and Clark Terry (1962-67).

In 1960/61, Bailey recorded five albums as a leader for Epic, Jazztime and Jazzline with a number of illustrious contemporaries as Clark Terry, Kenny Dorham, Tommy Flanagan and Grant Green. Inevitably, some of those LP’s were re-issued under the names of his better-known colleagues. Reaching Out! was repackaged as Grant Green’s Green Blues, Bash! as Kenny Dorham’s Osmosis. One Foot In The Gutter met no such fate, regardless of Clark Terry, the obvious choice for companies eager to cash in.

Perhaps inspired by the success of The Cannonball Adderley Quintet’s Live In San Francisco album, recorded for a standing-room crowd in the relaxed atmosphere of the Jazz Workshop, Epic invited an audience to the Columbia 30th Street Studio in NYC (Epic was a subsidiary of Columbia Records) for the One Foot In The Gutter session. Uncertain as to which foot and gutter Bailey is talking about, it could well be, in subsequent order, his and one of those dingy clubs the jazz men of the classic age had to work in more often than not. It could also refer, of course, to the gutter of life in the USA, in which case the foot is a symbol of Uncle Sam’s snake-leather boot desperate to keep the black man lying on the ground. Any which way, the atmosphere is relaxed and the album is particularly well-recorded, sounding crisp, fresh and resonant.

Swing is the thing. And it’s immediately clear from note one that, if not spectacular on other fronts, Dave Bailey is a swinger. Cats instantly smell that kind of species. They want to play with swinging drummers only, and Bailey’s ride cymbal is stirring along proceedings rather nicely. There’s plenty of room to stretch out for Clark Terry, Curtis Fuller, Junior Cook and Horace Parlan on three mid-tempo tunes – the Bailey blues One Foot In The Gutter, Thelonious Monk’s Well, You Needn’t and Clifford Brown’s Sandu. The swift, tart and witty Terry, subdued, fecund and playful Fuller and angular Parlan succeed to raise more than a dozen smiles.

But if anyone shines brightly in the face of humiliation and constant threat of life in the muddy waters, it’s tenor saxophonist Junior Cook. The tone of Cook, at the time part of the classic Horace Silver line-up including Blue Mitchell, Gene Taylor and Louis Hayes, is a soul grabber: round, clean, medium-big, with a sly, sleazy edge, much akin to Hank Mobley or Tina Brooks. He’s finding the corners one didn’t anticipate were there in the labyrinth of bluesy, stylish phrases, spellbound by the innocence he’s discovering deep within himself of the child that’s thoroughly enjoying rides on the roller rink. Perhaps the organ grinds in his mind. Obviously, Cook is the cherry on top of a solid and laid-back blowing session.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio - In Chicago

The Ramsey Lewis Trio In Chicago (Argo 1960)

Before he hit big nationwide with 1965’s The In-Crowd, pianist Ramsey Lewis had delivered a string of Argo albums to an already notable fan base in the Mid-West. Among those albums is In Chicago, a typically dynamic and entertaining performance of the Ramsey Lewis Trio.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio - In Chicago

Personnel

Ramsey Lewis (piano), Eldee Young (bass), Red Holt (drums)

Recorded

on April 30, 1960 at the Blue Note club, Chicago

Released

as Argo 671 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Old Devil Moon
What’s New
Carmen
Bei Mir Bist Du Schön
I’ll Remember April
Side B:
Delilah
Folk Ballad
But Not For Me
C.C. Rider


There’s soul jazz and soul jazz. In the late 50s and early 60s, artists like Jimmy Smith and Gene Ammons spearheaded a movement of artists that presented both excellent and entertaining blues-based jazz to a largely Afro-American audience. Then Ramsey Lewis covered Billy Page’s The In-Crowd, which was a hit for Dobie Gray in 1963. His version, recorded at Bohemian Caverns in Washington D.C. in 1964, climbed the Billboard charts to #5 in 1965. From then on, coming immediately and in droves, colleagues followed his footsteps and interpreted a variety of contemporary soul songs and hits. Suddenly soul jazz, having taken ‘soul’ quite literally, also appealed to the white market place, with Ramsey Lewis at the helm. The pianist scored subsequent hits with Hang On Sloopy and Dancing In The Street.

With the exception of his early seventies output and mingling with the electric piano – Lewis focused on electric piano-driven fusion of smooth funk and jazz, releasing the Grammy Award-winning Sun Goddess featuring Stevie Wonder in 1974 – the style of Lewis more or less stayed the same throughout his career. And he cherished the foundation of long-running rhythm sections – first Eldee Young and Red Holt (1956-65), then Cleveland Eaton and Maurice White (1965-75). Never change a winning team and/or format. These duos, a bunch of steam locomotives, in constant motion, either holding back responsively or driving the tune through a brick wall, perfectly underlined the trademark style of Lewis. It’s a dynamic style imbued with gospel and blues feeling, propulsive but rarely if ever overcooked. It’s filled with lithe, rippling teasers that slowly but surely develop into Sunday sermon storms. Groove but with a bit of sensitivity that Lewis borrowed from influences like Ahmad Jamal. Lightweight? Yes, if one unjustly compares Lewis with Jaki Byard or Herbie Nichols. No, because when Lewis plays, the floor threatens to sag under the heavy toe-tapping of the audience.

In the late 50s and early 60s, the audience was also bound to go home with a smile after an evening of Ramsey Lewis music. Smiles abound, surely, on April 30, 1960, at the Blue Note club in Chicago. The Ramsey Lewis Trio played Old Devil Moon, What’s New, Carmen, Bei Mir Bist Du Schön, I’ll Remember April, Delilah, Folk Ballad, But Not For Me and C.C. Rider. A mix of standards, popular music and original blues-based compositions, practically each one of them marked by tension and release, effective devices from r&b and a lot of quiet thunder. Old Devil Moon is a lesson in how to begin a set. The piano introduction is lavish, then the band kicks in, pang! Such a tight-knit, urgent groove. That’s how to state your intentions! The trio’s version switches regularly between keys, which perhaps is a bit cheap but definitely keeps the listener on its toes. You think the gent and dame at the table noticed the changes of keys? Don’t underestimate the Afro-American jazz lover of the 50s and 60s, they knew their stuff, but they wouldn’t have cared less, as long as the stuff swings.

This was Chicago, hometown of Ramsey Lewis, and obviously the pianist would’ve had to strain to fuck up, in the city that up until that time had spawned the careers of Jimmy Yancey, Roosevelt Sykes, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, J.P. Leary, Otis Spann, Walter Shakey Horton, Kokomo Arnold, Eddie Boyd, Willie Dixon, Jazz Gillum, Earl Hooker, Little Walter, Fred Below, Syl Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Big Bill Broonzy, Blind John Davis, Magic Same, Otis Rush, Elmore James, Sunnyland Slim, Buddy Guy, Willie Mabon, James Cotton, Koko Taylor, Dinah Washington, Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, Otis Clay, Etta James, Sam Cooke and many others. Most of them had migrated from the South, just like the audience, that was working hard by day in the big city factories, enjoying their night out as hard as they could. A tune like C.C. Rider, generating a lot of heat pretty much equivalent to the temperature that is developed from the blow of a hammer on a steel girder, sits well with such an audience. It probably was a request. At the end of the set, Ramsey Lewis humbly says that the trio, unfortunately, wasn’t able to play all of the requested tunes.

The In-Crowd was something else, a roaring, sure-shot mender of Ramsey Lewis’s destiny. But as In Chicago reveals, the particular Lewis swing during live performance was there from the beginning.

PS: Any doubt that this is the essential Ramsey Lewis record cover? It’s beautiful. Argo art is either beautiful, solid or plain silly. Look at those Johann Sebastian Bach sweaters. Only thing one can say is, they picked the right dude.

The 3 Souls - Soul Sounds

The 3 Souls Soul Sounds (Argo 1965)

Soul sounds, r&b sounds, jazz sounds, and whatnot on The 3 Souls album Soul Sounds.

The 3 Souls - Soul Sounds

Personnel

Sonny Cox (alto saxophone), Ken Prince (organ), Robert Shy (drums), Louis Satterfield (electric bass A1, 2 & 4, B1), Gerald Sims (guitar A1, 2 & 4, B1)

Recorded

on Februari 12, 1965 at Ter Mar Studio, Chicago

Released

as Argo 4044 in 1965

Track listing

Side A:
You’re No Good
I Don’t Want To Hear No More
Dear Old Stockholm
Walk On By
Big Jim
Side B:
A House Is Not A Home
Black Nile
Chitlins Con Carne
Armageddon


It is a most gratifying experience to delve into the Argo catalogue. It includes modern jazz artists like James Moody, Ahmad Jamal, Sonny Stitt, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Gene Ammons and Lou Donaldson. On the r&b market, the subsidiary of Chess Records from Chicago was a strong player with Etta James. Soul jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis secured a high profile and considerable revenues for the label, which changed its name to Cadet in 1965. The 3 Souls weren’t out of place in a roster that also, at one time, included Baby Face Willette and Bunky Greene. Chicago and the Midwest had a large, receptive audience for hip and groovy jazz.

As it happens, The 3 Souls had Chicago as a base of operations in 1965, enjoying a residency at the Hungry Eye. The 3 Souls consisted of organist Ken Price, drummer Robert Shy, both from Kentucky, and alto saxophonist Sonny Cox, a native of Cincinatti, Ohio. The group released three albums, The 3 Souls in 1963, Dangerous Dan Express in 1964, which spawned a minor hit with their version of Hi-Heel Sneakers, and Soul Sounds in 1965. On the 1966 Cadet album The Wailer by Sonny Cox, Ken Prince plays organ. On Soul Sounds, the trio is assisted on a number of tracks by bassist Louis Satterfield and guitarist Gerald Sims.

Cox is a peculiar player and Soul Sounds a quirky album. The alto saxophonist, born in 1938, backed Jackie Wilson, Solomon Burke, Jerry Butler and LaVern Baker in the 50s. He proved to be the sporty type as well. In the 70s Cox switched careers and became a successful baseball and basketball coach on Chicago high schools. Undoubtedly, coach Cox was aware that it’s essential for a team to have a number of capricious players, often the creative ones who pull the chestnuts out of the fire. Cox the alto player possesses creative unpredictability himself. That’s good. Yet, his playing isn’t wholly convincing, uneven at times, short on meaningful ideas, we’re not talking Cannonball Adderley here, or Frank Strozier, or Sonny Criss… But it’s edgy, animated. And his tone has something of the ‘singing’ sound of Hank Crawford, though more vulnerable, thin.

Soul Sounds is a hodgepodge of sorts that includes Randy Newman’s I Don’t Want To Hear Anymore, Stan Getz’ Dear Old Stockholm, Burt Bacharach’s Walk On By and, yep, Wayne Shorter’s Black Nile ánd Armageddon. During the r&b, pop and soul tunes, also including You’re No Good and Bacharach/David’s A House Is Not A Home, Cox focuses on the melody with slight variations of timing and bending of notes. The meaty Dear Old Stockholm is enlivened by a boppish whirlwind entrance and a spirited continuation of furious licks and belligerent twists and turns. Cox holds on, perhaps to dear life, to these procedures during Shorter’s Armageddon, coloring his emotional solo with lurid ‘out’ notes.

Albeit a bit stiff on Kenny Burrell’s Chitlins Con Carne, the organ/drums sound is gutsy, certainly on the Cox/Prince original composition Big Jim, a hefty, Brother Jack McDuff-style cooker. The outfit seems most comfortable cooking in this vein. However, the liner notes explain that the group liked to perform the music they like, be it jazz, soul or pop. Something of that attitude certainly rubbed off on the recording of Soul Sounds, coherence be damned, a frame of mind we should perhaps appreciate more than we’re initially inclined to.

Soul Sounds is not available on Spotify unfortunately, so hunt for a copy to hear the highlights, or listen on YouTube to Chitlins Con Carne and A House Is Not A Home.