Gene Ammons - Bad! Bossa Nova

Gene Ammons Bad! Bossa Nova (Prestige 1962)

Throughout his spectacular career, tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons had several big hits, both singles and albums. One of those albums, Bad! Bossa Nova, paved the way for soulful players intent on exploring Latin music.

Gene Ammons - Bad! Bossa Nova

Personnel

Gene Ammons (tenor saxophone), Hank Jones (piano), Bucky Pizzarelli (acoustic guitar), Kenny Burrell (acoustic guitar), Norman Edge (bass), Oliver Jackson (drums), Al Hayes (bongo)

Recorded

on September 9, 1962 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PR 7257 in 1962

Track listing

Side A:
Pagan Love Song
Ca’ Purange
Anna
Side B:
Cae, Cae
Moito Mato Grosso
Yellow Bird


After organist Jimmy Smith, who was second to none as far as popularity and record sales was concerned, Gene Ammons was another very succesful artist of the soul jazz era. Ammons started out in the bands of King Kolax and Billy Eckstine in the mid-forties, the latter a playing ground for the burgeoning bebop generation of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Wardell Gray, Fats Navarro and Art Blakey. And Ammons, who knew his share of bebop. During his tenure with Eckstine, Ammons’ colleagues in the reed chair were Dexter Gordon, Leo Parker and Sonny Stitt. As a leader, Ammons gained a lot of public acclaim with the jumpin’ blues theme Red Top in 1947. The tenor saxophonist subsequently struck gold with the ballad My Foolish Heart in 1950, one of the tunes in the borderland of r&b and jazz (the distinction wasn’t as evident then as it is now) that many jazz artists of the day specialized in. During the years 1950-52, Ammons made up an explosive sax battle team with Sonny Stitt, whom he would keep recording with on and off through the sixties.

Ammons, the Chicago-born son of boogiewoogie master Albert Ammons, wasn’t about to slow down, if only by long, intermittent stints in jail for possession of drugs. Ammons has recorded for Savoy, VeeJay, Argo, but was part of the Prestige roster early on, an association that would continue throughout his career. His ‘HiFi’ jam albums of the late fifties with the likes of John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Mal Waldron and Art Taylor were attractive but curtailed the playing time of the big-toned tenorist. His style would come fully to the fore on the big-selling Boss Tenor in 1960, which spawned another jukebox hit, Canadian Sunset, as was Exactly Like You from 1961’s Jug album. The fruitful period 1960-1962 secured Ammons’s top ranking in soul jazz history. Bad! Bossa Nova is the last in line, since Ammons was convicted again, now also for selling drugs. It looked like the authorities wanted to set an example by sentencing the black jazz musician to seven years in jail. A great tragedy for Ammons and an utter disgrace which black people, unfortunately, have been all too familiar with. His comeback on Prestige in 1969 would be very successful. But his conditions worsened and Ammons passed away in 1974 at the age of forty-nine.

Unabashed emotion. A big sound that fills the (bar-)room. Excuse me? A soccer stadium! Great storytelling abilities. A tough tenor that wails with the best of ‘m but with controlled power. A prime balladeer. And a great entertainer. The title of Bad! Bossa Nova sounds about right. Bad it is. Ammons wholeheartedly funkifies the set of Latin-tinged tunes. If it doesn’t exactly consign Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd’s Jazz Samba album, containing the hit Desafinado, released half a year earlier, to the litter bin, after a back-to-back spin Getz/Byrd’s album certainly comes across as shopping mall muzak. Both albums were big sellers, Jazz Samba foremost, but Bad! Bossa Nova sold large quantities in black neighbourhoods. A couple of years later, while Ammons was doing time, it was re-issued by Prestige as Jungle Soul and again sold extremely well!

Highlights are Ca’ Purange and Cae, Cae. Ca’ Purange (Jungle Soul), a simple recurring Latin figure, is a perfect canvas for Ammons’ bold strokes. His tone fills the sky, sparse, long lines and staccato honks stoke up the fire, which threatens to overrun the swamps, where Gene Ammons’ greasy, hypnotic soul groove is pulling you in anyway. A dense rhythm section including Kenny Burrell as acoustic rhythm guitarist lays down a colorful groove for Ammons, with guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, also on acoustic guitar, occasionally chiming in with spicy licks. Hank Jones is an extra treat. The masterful pianist delivers deliciously swinging, delicate miniatures, pulling out all the happy-go-lucky stops with locked-hands technique and notes tumbling over each other like kittens reaching for the milk at the nipples of pussy mom in Cae Cae particularly. Hank Jones, early bebopper, modern jazz giant probably best known for his role on Cannonball Adderley’s Something Else, knows how to play popular music, having operated in the shadowlands of jazz and r&b in the early fifties, notably on organ. Gene “Jug” Ammons is a true master of blending sophistication with entertainment which Bad! Bossa Nova makes abundantly clear.

Sonny Rollins - Alfie

Sonny Rollins Alfie (Impulse 1966)

Alfie, the Sonny Rollins soundtrack of the prize-winning English movie starring Michael Caine, deserves to be ranked alongside Saxophone Colossus and A Night At The Village Vanguard as one of the tenor saxophonist’s major achievements. Largely on account of his unbelievable improvisations in Alfie’s Theme.

Sonny Rollins - Alfie

Personnel

Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone), Bob Ashton (tenor saxophone), Phil Woods (alto saxophone), Danny Bank (baritone saxophone), J.J. Johnson (trombone A1, A2), Jimmy Cleveland (trombone A3 B1-3), Roger Kellaway (piano), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Walter Booker (bass), Frankie Dunlop (drums), Oliver Nelson (arranger, conductor)

Recorded

on January 26, 1966 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as A-9111 in 1966

Track listing

Side A:
Alfie’s Theme
He’s Younger Than You Are
Street Runner With Child
Side B:
Transition Theme For Minor Blues Or Little Malcolm Loves His Dad
On Impulse
Alfie’s Theme Differently


In the years preceding Alfie, Sonny Rollins had developed into a top-rank performer able to bid a high price for his beloved art form. A lucrative contract with RCA after the tenorist’s legendary, mysterious sabbatical ‘under the Williamsburg Bridge’ from 1959 to 1961 led to a series of five albums for the major label, starting with The Bridge, ending with The Standard Sonny Rollins. In the early and mid-sixties, Rollins, always the contemplative intellectual, self-critical to the point of exhaustion and switching between sidemen continuously, was on a constant search for new means of expression. Keeping it fresh, tryin’ or dyin’, elusive as far as style is concerned, Rollins defied a sound definition of his personality. Albums with standards and the sole bossa tune alternated with extremist free jazz outings like Our Man In Jazz in 1962 and the intriguing, endearing cooperation with Coleman Hawkins on Sonny Meets Hawk in 1963. 1965’s adventurous On Impulse preceded Alfie, which was followed up by the full-blast avantgarde effort with John Coltrane’s famous associates Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison plus Freddie Hubbard, East Broadway Run Down, a high-level album that, however, didn’t fully delivered on its promise. On the other hand, Alfie becomes more beautiful with every turn on the table.

Given the sensitivity and critical attitude of Rollins in regard to obtrusive sidemen, particularly pianists, it is remarkable that the large ensemble context of Alfie works so well. Oliver Nelson’s flexible, spot-on arrangements keep Rollins on his toes. If there is one let-down on this album, it is the fact that the couple of major league colleagues in the reed chairs, Phil Woods and J.J. Johnson, aren’t allowed solo space. Kenny Burrell and Roger Kellaway have ample room to make their mark, and, admittedly, make the most of it. Kellaway’s gentle touch contrasts nicely with the forceful Rollins and the pianist performs particularly well in Alfie’s Theme Differently, building on the dying notes of Rollins’ off-centre bits with zest. Burrell is peppery throughout, switching between fluently archetypical blues lines, shimmering clusters of notes and crunchy chords.

The bit of undercooled, breathy balladry of Rollins in He’s Younger Than You Are is a genuine nod to Coleman Hawkins. But before you know it, Rollins has ended the tune with a sweeping arc of majestic wails. Rollins, the rhythm king, is in evidence on Street Runner With Child, a collage of romantic solo piano, fast-paced blaxploitation flic-type flights and the recurring reference to Alfie’s Theme, is the only tune on the album that reminds us of the fact that Alfie is a soundtrack. The free playing of Rollins, mixed interestingly with a constant eye on the melody, is most evident in Alfie’s Theme Differently and Transition, while the contrast between the lithe rhythm and meandering lines of On Impulse (a title made up on impulse while Sonny was thinking about his album On Impulse also on the Impulse label the year before?) ignites a dreamy vibe.

Rollins in a great mood. It’s getting even better, because, without the shadow of a doubt, Alfie’s Theme is the albums’s hors d’oeuvre. The large ensemble transports the catchy line to the terrain where Ray Charles drove his tunes home to in the fifties. Drive. Propulsion. Courtesy of Oliver Nelson’s fleshy, well-timed horn sections and the probing rhythm tandem of bassist Walter Booker and drummer Frankie Dunlop. Burrell and Kellaway flourish, but Sonny Rollins is the star of the show, performing one of his all-time great solo’s. In a structured exploration of the basic theme, Rollins grabs the melody by its sleeve. Then he pauses deliberately for a while, like a girl that’s playing hard to get, indulges in a rumble of percussive blocks of short-ringing notes, lingers on new notes like a guest savoring a star restaurant dessert, wanders off into the avantgarde jungle, subsequently swings back into bop mode, alternating double timing, honks and forceful wails, moving into scales with the flick of a, highly skilled, tongue and continues to blow confidently over the sounds of the repeated brass and reed statements. Rollins explores every corner of the melody, rhythm-wise, harmony-wise, returning to it almost every few bars and all the while displaying his big, imposing sound. Rounding off the proceedings in style, Rollins ends his solo with an explosive note.

Lots of proteines in the meal of Sonny, which after all, maybe, wasn’t a high-brow dinner but a reinvigorating eggs and sausage and a side of toast, coffee and a roll, hashbrowns over easy, chili in a bowl, with burgers and fries (now, what kinda pie?)… Full stomach tenor! Sonny Rollins at his best, speaking eloquently to both mind and soul. And as a natural consequence, a peak moment in jazz.

Stanley Turrentine - Jubilee Shout

Stanley Turrentine Jubilee Shout!!! (Blue Note 1962/86)

Don’t let the marketing gimmick of exclamation marks scare you off. Stanley Turrentine’s Jubilee Shout!!! delivers. It’s a lively, down-home session. Sonny Clark’s aboard. Yet, it was shelved and wasn’t released until 1986.

Stanley Turrentine - Jubilee Shout

Personnel

Stanley Turrentine (tenor saxophone), Tommy Turrentine (trumpet), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Sonny Clark (piano), Butch Warren (bass), Al Harewood (drums)

Recorded

on October 18, 1962 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as BST 84112 in 1986

Track listing

Side A:
Jubilee Shout
My Ship
You Said It
Side B:
Brother Tom
Cotton Walk
You Better Go Now (Little Girl Blue)


Stanley Turrentine. Mr. T. Fleshy, friendly face. A man you love to love. A Flophouse favorite. Adored by lovers of classic, smoky modern jazz. He’s got that thang. In 1962, the tenor saxophonist had hit his stride on the Blue Note label. Turrentine’s cooperation with pianist Les McCann, That’s Where It’s At, had been the last in a series of five albums that started in 1960 with Blue Hour, Turrentine’s association with The Three Sounds. His accessible, smart albums were good sellers.

Big, slightly breathy and warm-blooded, Turrentine’s tone renders a night out into town totally unnecessary. Save some money for a new vacuum cleaner. Stanley is party enough, blurs your head in drifting shreds of smoke, teleports the scent of soul food, the chatter of nocturnal Harlem nights right to the heart of your residence. Or flexible workspace. Or Club Med bungalow. He brings the blues. Not a hoarse kind, but stylized through the use of rich, resonant lines that are built from notes ending with a trademark, ever-so-slight vibrato and snappy bent note. Simultaneously, Turrentine displays modern jazz sensibility, but eschews excessive frills. A professor of tension and release.

Bonus: Sonny Clark! The maestro, three months short of his unfortunate passing, recorded erratically in 1962. But the dates he did were still top-notch: Jackie McLean’s Tippin’ The Scales, Grant Green’s posthumous Nigeria, Oleo and Born To Be Blue, and Dexter Gordon’s iconic A Swingin’ Affair. A couple of blues-drenched affairs: Don Wilkerson’s Preach Brother!, (just one exclamation mark!) Ike Quebec’s posthumous Easy Living. That’s it. Excluding Turrentine’s Jubilee Shout. Clark thinks out of the box, presenting hip blues voicings and eccentric asides in clusters of long, flowing lines that may not exactly stretch the boundaries of bars as frequently as in his heyday, but nevertheless comprise ample proof of a mind that still overflowed with ideas.

A bunch of top-rate guys to say the least, Stanley and Tommy Turrentine, Sonny Clark and Kenny Burrell have a lot of room to stretch out in a slow blues (Cotton Walk), uptempo cooker with a nifty line and stop-time rhythm (You Said It), lilting swingers (Brother Tom, My Ship) and a ballad (Little Girl Blue – wrongly credited on the vinyl release as You Better Go Now). The blast of the album is Jubilee Shout. A rousing gospel rhythm with pounding piano chords on the one and two sets the pace and is repeated between the 4/4 sections, which create room for the solo time of, subsequently, Stanley Turrentine, Tommy Turrentine, Sonny Clark and Kenny Burrell. It’s the musical equivalent of the archetypical lyric, ‘Sometimes I sing the blues, but I know I should be praying.’ Either way is right by me.

Why didn’t Blue Note release Jubilee Shout at the time? It’s a crackerjack session. Well, that was up to Alfred. The indomitable Lion also shelved, for instance, Lou Donaldson’s Lush Life, Lee Morgan’s Tom Cat, Wayne Shorter’s The Soothsayer and Grant Green’s Solid, which proved to be one of the guitarist’s crown achievements upon its release in 1979. However, Lion had many sessions to choose from in these instances and generally didn’t release more than three albums per artist per year. Market overflow wasn’t an obstacle in Turrentine’s case. That’s Where It’s At was the only album in 1962 to date. Maybe the title track and Cotton Walk were deemed too long. At any rate, the album was first released on a two-fer in 1978 and finally came out in 1986 with the originally intented cover art and catalogue number. CD release followed in 1988. It has also been included in the much-discussed, appreciated vinyl reissue series of Music Matters. The album was destined to bob up from the wealthy lake of Turrentine’s catalogue.

Donald Byrd - A New Perspective

Donald Byrd A New Perspective (Blue Note 1963)

Besides honing his craft as one of the premier hard bop trumpet players of the day, Donald Byrd had other things on his mind, chief among them the exploration of new forms. A New Perspective, Byrd’s intriguing, daring dive into spiritual music, doesn’t bring the gospel in broad slices but instead presents it with delicate, hymnal strokes, with pathos lingering in the background.

Donald Byrd - A New Perspective

Personnel

Donald Byrd (trumpet), Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Donald Best (vibes), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Butch Warren (bass), Lex Humphries (drums), Duke Pearson (arranger), Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (choir direction)

Recorded

on January 12, 1963 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 4124 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Elijah
Beast Of Burden
Side B:
Cristo Redentor
The Black Disciple
Chant


In hindsight, of course, everything sticks. Firstly, the jubilant Pentecostal Feeling from Byrd’s adventurous album Free Forms pointed in the direction of A New Perspective’s spiritual concept. Free Forms was recorded a year earlier on December 11, 1961, but the album was shelved until release in 1966. Quite amazing that such a high quality session was sent to Blue Note’s dungeons. However, Blue Note sometimes shelved sessions from their most prolific artists to avert market overflow.

Secondly, A New Perspective takes its logical place in a career that was highly diverse. Byrd not only recorded prolifically as a leader (and as co-leader with bariton saxophonist Pepper Adams) but was extremely productive as a sideman, courtesy of Byrd’s immaculate chops, versatility and a big hunk of funk. The list is endless. Check out some of the world-class albums Byrd appeared on: Kenny Clarke – Bohemia After Dark (1955), Art Blakey – The Jazz Messengers (1956), John Coltrane – Black Pearls (1958), Sonny Clark – My Conception (1959), Hank Mobley – The Turnaround (1963), Herbie Hancock – My Point Of View (1963), Dexter Gordon – One Flight Up (1963). Then, solo-wise, onwards from 1969’s Fancy Free Byrd explored fusion and r&b, which culminated in the 1973 hit album Black Byrd. A career move Byrd was as much derided as applauded for. In any case, it was an unusually succesful turn of events for a jazz musician. Finally, everybody remembers Byrd’s equally succesful cooperation with hiphop artist Guru on 1993/1995’s Jazzmatazz Vol. 1 & 2.

The story of how it took me years to finally shake off my resentment towards the clean, smooth choir of A New Perspective is not something I’m going to bore you with. More preoccupied with introspection than with the act of driving out demons, more cultivated than red-headed, Byrd’s pieces may not possess the grittiness that’s usually associated with the black gospel, they have a charm all off their own. Mellow doowop voices flavour Beast Of Burden, a piece with a lopin’ tempo that includes an understated, minor blues-drenched solo by Byrd. Hank Mobley’s relaxed, smokin’ solo is a gem. The angelic choir of Cristo Redentor exudes high drama and brings about the soothing feeling of a dirge. The opener Elijah is upbeat and includes a Hit The Road Jack-type bass cadenza, but Byrd is in a restraintive, pensive mood.

After the propulsive hard bop mover, The Black Disciple, follows the mid-tempo Chant. Byrd sounds joyful, employing a more open ‘round’-toned approach. Herbie Hancock, who was mentored by Byrd at the start of the decade and whose recording debut took place on Byrd’s 1961 album Royal Flush, spins beautiful, long lines. Hancock’s impressionistic playing, completed with lithe, sparse blues phrases, contributes greatly to A New Perspective’s characteristic mood. A cerebral mood that grows on you.

Jimmy Smith - The Cat

Jimmy Smith The Cat (Verve 1964)

During the sixties organ star Jimmy Smith, who single-handedly turned the Hammond B3 organ into a viable modern jazz instrument in the mid-late fifties, recorded a string of generally very popular big band albums under the guidance of Verve’s succesful producer Creed Taylor.

Jimmy Smith - The Cat

Personnel

Jimmy Smith (organ), Kenny Burrell (guitar), George Duvivier (bass), Grady Tate (drums), Lalo Schifrin (arranger, conductor) and a big band including Thad Jones, Jimmy Cleveland, Ernie Royal and Snooky Young

Recorded

on April 27-29 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as V-8587 in 1964

Track listing

Side A
Theme From ‘Joy House’
The Cat (From The MGM Motion Picture ‘Joy House’)
Basin Street Blues
Main Title From ‘The Carpetbaggers’
Side B
Chicago Serenade
St. Louis Blues
Delon’s Blues
Blues In The Night


The first tentative effort, Bashin’ (side B was dedicated to trio work only) was an immediate smash hit. The best of those albums, like Hobo Flats, Any Number Can Win and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf involved meaty brass and reed support that stirred up the organist’s inimitable bebop and blues runs to fiery heights. A couple of albums suffered from mediocre, overproduced arrangements and the organist’s wish to put his ‘singing’ abilities in the limelight. Stay away from 1968’s Stay Loose would be my advice, unless you need to chase away the neighbour’s pet alligator.

1964’s The Cat finds Smith at the height of his popularity. The title track is what you’d call a mod classic. Meaning a bunch of English geeks got hip to it in the eighties and started spinning it in the big city’s burgeoning underground clubs, to much acclaim. Understandably, since The Cat’s a blast from start to finish, an uptempo swinger with a firm backbeat and full-bodied, sweeping Lalo Schifrin arrangements which are cut through by boiling Smith phrases.

Old warhorse Basin Street Blues is another highlight, taken at a brisk pace with funky Chicago blues support by drummer Grady Tate and sparse orchestral blasts. Theme From ‘Joy House’ and Main Title From ‘The Carpetbaggers’ are uptempo gems as well, more satisfying in the end than solid but more commonplace slow blues tunes like Delon’s Blues and Blues In The Night.

The Cat is part of the proof that, when in the right surroundings, Jimmy Smith raised the mixing of organ and orchestra to another level.

Kenny Burrell - God Bless The Child

Kenny Burrell God Bless The Child (CTI 1971)

Naming a record God Bless The Child inevitably brings forth a lot of expectations. Could one live up to them after re-imagining the touching version of the song’s composer Billie Holiday – she and co-writer Herzog Jr. wrote about a subject matter close to her vest – and the haunting, deconstructive solo rendition of Eric Dolphy? It’s not easy, and Kenny Burrell sure doesn’t. It seems that for him, it was just another lovely tune and he’s not really into it – and for producer Creed Taylor just another song allowed to be buried in schmaltzy cello sections.

Kenny Burrell - God Bless The Child

Personnel

Kenny Burrell (guitar), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Hubert Laws (flute), Richard Wynands (piano, electric piano), Hugh Lawson (electric piano), Ron Carter (bass), Billy Cobham (drums), Ray Baretto (percussion), Airto Moreira (percussion), Seymour Barab, Charles McCracken, George Ricci, Lucien Smit, Alan Schmit (cello section), Don Sebesky (arranger, conductor)

Recorded

on April 28 and May 11 & 25, 1971 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as CTI 6011 in 1971

Track listing

Side A:
Be Yourself
Love Is The Answer
Do What You Gotta Do
Side B:
A Child Is Born
God Bless The Child


It’s not a total failure. After all, it’s Kenny Burrell. Having been much admired by critics and public alike a decade before turning over this album, Burrell felt comfortable in many surroundings and delivered countless memorable contributions to the straight, bluesy, bossa and comparatively adventurous sides of jazz. God Bless The Child has its moments and they invariably have to do – as opposed to a multitude of strings, keyboards and percussion – with Kenny Burrell’s many fine licks.

One can do without the boring world music jam of Love Is All The Way, but Burrell’s solo runs sound like exotic alleyways that always seems to lead to an opening in the labyrinth. The crisp and clear Do What You Gotta Do wouldn’t have been out of place on one of Burrell’s career peaks, 1963’s Midnight Blue, if it wasn’t for five cello’s moving in straight from a Mel Torme delivery truck.

Burrell’s best soloing is heard in Be Yourself; it’s inventive and typically Burrell – he doesn’t throw it at you in bold strikes but instead tells a story in a laid-back yet exciting way. Unfortunately, Be Yourself gets the same string treatment as the rest of the album. By this time, the album’s production has dulled the senses considerably.

God Bless The Child is almost as much a Creed Taylor record as it is a Kenny Burrell record. Taylor, imperative in moving jazz forward with his production and A&R work for Impulse and Verve, was very succesful in transforming the paths of sixties luminaries into lucrative endeavors by means of his own company Creed Taylor Inc. Musicians (although sidemen sometimes have a different story to tell) were glad of it – $! – and rightfully so, they had to make a living. The downside of CTI was that Taylor was a man who liked to be in control. More often than not, the net result of such an abundance of money and control in music biz, particularly onwards from the early seventies, has been indulgence; suddenly there are myriad possibilities production and personel-wise (multitrack consoles, strings and brass-sections, two or more percussionists, keyboard-landscapes) and they more often than not tend to lead, in my view, to a creative void and sterile recordings. The finest recordings, on the other hand, are often born out of necessity – relative lack studio time and personel, more primitive equipment – which pipes up expressiveness.

One outcome of Creed Taylor’s overpowering presence in the dollar department and control room was on my turntable. It’s bland, slick. It was a career boost for Kenny Burrell, but not an album to fondly remember and be fondly remembered for.

Leo Wright - Soul Talk

Leo Wright Soul Talk (Vortex 1963/1970)

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 on fast tunes such as State Trooper and Poopsie’s Minor as well as slower numbers that keep the customer attentive, is definitely on par.

Leo Wright - Soul Talk

Personnel

Leo Wright (alto saxophone, flute), Gloria Coleman (organ), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Frankie Dunlop (drums)

Recorded

on November 1, 1963 in NYC

Released

as Vortex 2011 in 1970

Track listing

Side A:
State Trooper
Blue Leo
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
Soul Talk
Side B:
Poopsie’s Minor
Skylark
Blues Fanfare


Wright 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 play is in keeping with her Hammond B3’s crisp sound.

Leo Wright’s flute play 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, 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.