Organist Gloria Coleman’s album Soul Sisters is charmingly soft-hued; a conservative yet catchy blues set that’s mellow in a funky way. In 1963 Coleman and drummer Pola Roberts regularly gigged with Grant Green on the East Coast, Leo Wright sometimes subbed for Green. Thus, these jazz ladies were well acquainted with their male counterparts. (Furthermore, Coleman is featured on Leo Wright’s Soul Talk)
Gloria Coleman (organ), Leo Wright (alto saxophone), Grant Green (guitar), Pola Roberts (drums)
on May 21, 1963
as Impulse A-67
Hey Sonny Red
My Lady’s Waltz
oherence isn’t Soul Sisters
‘ only strong point. Green and Wright share the natural proclivity of cookin’ from the word ‘go’; Green’s urgent runs blend well with Coleman’s stripped-down organ sound and a no-nonsense enthousiasm; an ethos of not-laying-it-on-too-thick that climaxes in the charged My Ladies’ Waltz
, wherein the excitement is not created by playing louder but playing ever so tight.
Gloria Coleman, then wife of saxophonist George Coleman, started out as bass player and pianist before turning to the organ and picking up some advice from the inventor of modern organ jazz, Jimmy Smith. From her supportive comping on among others Melba’s Minor, a composition that borrows part of Django’s theme, it is evident she took Smith’s lessons to heart.
Gloria Coleman’s discography reads like the manual of a toothpick: it’s very concise. She nevertheless performed regularly and her tunes were in demand. Miss Coleman died in 2010. As you’ll surely agree, the passing of a ‘soul sister’.
For Leo Wright, transcending the limitations of blues chord sequences seemed to come naturally. At times shoutin’ with Arnett Cobbian delight and almost as vigorous a master of the startling entrance as Dexter Gordon, Wright’s command of the alto saxophone is impressive.
Leo Wright (alto saxophone, flute), Gloria Coleman (organ), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Frankie Dunlop (drums)
on November 1, 1963 in NYC
as Vortex 2011 in 1970
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
right assembled a high quality outfit consisting of Frankie Dunlop – at the time Thelonious Monk’s (already longtime) associate – Kenny Burrell and Gloria Coleman. (then wife of tenor saxophonist George Coleman, who in 1963 was with Miles Davis.) Miss Coleman’s seductive, understated playing is in keeping with her Hammond B3’s crisp sound.
Leo Wright’s flute playing on Soul Talk reminds us of the flute chair he held in Dizzy Gillespie’s top bands from 1959 to 1963, a stint Wright not surprisingly is best known for.
Soul Talk was released on Atlantic subsidiary Vortex in 1970. It’s part of its 2000 series and the odd one out in a series of ‘out there’ albums from among others Joe Zawinul, Steve Marcus and Sonny Sharrock. Actually, its session date has been a question mark among cogniscenti for some time, spawning debate about various years on the internet. Yet, it’s highly unlikely that it doesn’t stem from 1963. That year also saw Leo Wright joining Gloria Coleman, drummer Pola Roberts and guitarist Grant Green on the Impulse release Soul Sisters. In fact, that group played the East Coast and had a regular gig at Branker’s in upper Harlem, New York City. Wright stepped in with his alto sax whenever Grant Green was unavailable.
Joe Goldberg’s liner notes conclude with the hope that Wright’s group would make another album. Unfortunately, they didn’t. At the end of 1963 Leo Wright migrated to Europe.