James Clay & David "Fathead" Newman - The Sound Of The Wide Open Spaces

James Clay & David “Fathead” Newman The Sound Of The Wide And Open Spaces!!!! (Riverside 1960)

Some sessions just seem to swing harder than others. The Sound Of The Wide Open Spaces!!!! by co-leaders James Clay and David “Fathead” Newman is such an album. A blast from start to finish.

James Clay & David "Fathead" Newman - The Sound Of The Wide Open Spaces

Personnel

James Clay (tenor saxophone, flute B2), David “Fathead” Newman (tenor saxophone, alto saxophone B2), Wynton Kelly (piano), Sam Jones (bass), Art Taylor (blues)

Recorded

on April 20, 1960 in NYC

Released

as RLP 327 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Wide Open Spaces
They Can’t Take That Away From Me
Side B:
Some Kinda Mean
What’s New
Figger-Ration


Think of the combi’s Johnny Griffin/Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Dexter Gordon/Wardell Gray, Arnett Cobb/Buddy Tate or of the Clifford Jordan/John Gilmore album Blowing In From Chicago. The Sound Of The Wide Open Spaces!!!! (the use of multiple exclamation marks is hyperbolic fancy, but I like the way it looks on the jacket) fits into that high calibre category. Clay and Fathead, two ‘tough’ Texan tenors (and alto’s, flutes) battle it out with the hard-driving support of Art Taylor, Sam Jones and Wynton Kelly. The album was supervised by Cannonball Adderley. Adderley, who had signed with Riverside in 1960 and recorded the highly succesful and influential live album In San Francisco, struck up a good rapport with label owner Orrin Keepnews, immediately getting into fruitful A&R territory.

James Clay is still a relatively unknown saxophonist and flute player. Born in Dallas, Texas in 1935, Clay played with fellow Texan tenorist Booker Ervin, but moved to the West Coast in the mid-fifties. By 1960, Clay had recorded with drummer Lawrence Marable (Tenorman, Jazz West 1956), bassist Red Mitchell (Presenting Red Mitchell, Contemporary 1957) and Wes Montgomery (Movin’ Along, Riverside 1960). As a leader, Clay followed up The Sound with A Double Dose Of Soul, which boasts a great line-up of Adderley alumni Nat Adderley, Victor Feldman, Louis Hayes and, again, Sam Jones. A concise but impressive discography. After contributing to Hank Crawford’s True Blue in 1964, Clay disappeared from the scene, only to enjoy a modest comeback in the late eighties.

Clay’s sound is edgy, his style is reminiscent of bop pioneers like Teddy Edwards. A great match with the better-known David “Fathead” Newman. Newman, the big-toned tenorist from Corsicana, Texas, put his highly attractive, blues-drenched style to good use in the Ray Charles band from 1954-64 and ’70-’71, starring on landmark tunes as The Right Time, Unchain My Heart and albums like Ray Charles In Person and At Newport. Newman was an Atlantic recording artist in his own right. On my deathbed, I’m damn sure I will be remembering Ray Charles Presents David “Fathead Newman (Atlantic 1958) as one of the most soulful albums in modern jazz.

Newman takes the first solo on the furiously swinging opener Wide Open Spaces, taking care of business from note one. He sings, spits, guffaws, presenting a lengthy, driving discourse of blues and bop. Meanwhile, Newman’s phrasing is articulate, fluent, and the full-bodied round tone is intact, and his flow is spurred on by clever, unisono figures of Kelly and Taylor. Clay’s tone is more edgy, thinner. Clay finds solace in darkblue, faraway corners, letting loose occasional gutsy, halve-valve sounds and spices a lively tale with labyrinthian clusters of bop phrases, in a sardonic mood, putting you on, enjoying himself. Then he emerges from the shadows with sudden, belligerent wails. Clay’s a more unpredictable player than Newman. Both take zillion choruses to have their say. Never a dull moment.

Wide Open Spaces is a tune written by the legendary bebop singer and poet, Babs Gonzalez. Figger-Ration, an uptempo, tacky bebop showstopper, is also by Gonzalez. The interpretation of Gershwin’s They Can’t Take That Away From Me is hard-swinging. Keter Betts’ blues-based tune Some Kinda Mean starts with the coda, a raucous figure of snare drums and piano, and develops into a mid-tempo, Ray Charles-type mover. Supported by the responsive, burning rhythm trio of Taylor, Jones and Kelly, the latter occasionally chiming in with ebullient bits on the slower tunes and frivolous strings of high notes on the uptempo tunes, Clay and Newman speak confidently on tenor throughout. For What’s New, Newman switches to alto, Clay to flute. It’s a solid rendition of the well-known ballad.

While a current of pivotal game-changing outings (Davis’ Kind Of Blue, Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Coleman’s Free Jazz) was released in ’59 and ‘60, gospel and blues-based hard bop/mainstream jazz, while not always liked by the critics, was at a peak and admired by audiences around the country and abroad. Hard bop albums rolled off the Blue Note, Prestige and Riverside assembly lines like fortune cookies. That turn of the decade was really something! Something of such all-round excellence which might easily cause such marvelous albums like The Sound Of The Wide Open Spaces!!!! to be lightly snowed under. But it aged well. To this day, Clay and Newman’s bopswinging sax festivities leave one breathless with every new turn on the table.

Keeping In The News

ORRIN KEEPNEWS – Rewarding footage of producer Orrin Keepnews on YouTube. Keepnews talks us through some of the legends and landmark albums that he produced for the Riverside label. Keepnews, who passed away on March 1, 2015, ran Riverside from 1953 to 1965 together with Bill Grauer. A curmudgeon of the old school of independent record producers, the streetwise, Bronx-born Keepnews personified the ‘just do it’ mentality long before a Greek God sold shoes to the new kids on the block. With impeccable taste and a responsive spirit, Keepnews boosted the career of Thelonious Monk, produced contemporary greats like Sonny Rollins and Bill Evans, as well as released celebrated albums by a host of soulful modern jazz luminaries like Cannonball Adderley, Bobby Timmons, Johnny Griffin and Blue Mitchell.

Following the passing of Bill Grauer in 1963, Riverside went bankrupt. After freelancing for a few years, Keepnews started the Milestone label in 1966, releasing albums by Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins and Ron Carter, among others.

Find a detailed obit in the New York Times here.

With the release of the Keepnews Collection in 2007, a series of re-issues of classic Riverside albums, Bret Primack of Concord Music Group presented a number of short features on Keepnews. Insightfully and with deadpan wit, the producer looks back upon a number of game-changing, fabled cooperations. A treat!

Here’s Thelonious Monk.
Here’s Sonny Rollins.
Here’s Bill Evans.
Here’s Cannonball Adderley.
Here’s Blue Mitchell.
Here’s Clark Terry.

The list of classic Riverside (and the Jazzland subsidiary) recordings is imposing. Here are my favorites:

The Other Side Of Benny Golson

Benny Golson The Other Side Of Benny Golson (Riverside 1958)

Benny Golson’s extraordinary writing skills often overshadow his gifts as a tenor saxophonist. As early as 1958, Riverside considered this fact and chose to highlight his tenor work naming Golson’s third album The Other Side Of Benny Golson. Not surprisingly though, the compositions are killer bee as well. Two birds killed by one stone.

The Other Side Of Benny Golson

Personnel

Benny Golson (tenor saxophone), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Barry Harris (piano), Jimmy Meritt (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Recorded

on November 12, 1958 at Nola’s Penthouse Sound Studio, NYC

Released

as RLP 12-290 in 1958

Track listing

Side A:
Strut Time
Jubilation
Symbols
Side B:
Are You Real?
Cry A Blue Tear
This Night


The significance of Golson, who turned 87 on January 27, can’t be overstated. Having learned the trade from pianist and renowned tunesmith Tadd Dameron in the early fifties, Golson developed into a striking composer. Many of Golson’s compositions became standards: I Remember Clifford, Stablemates, Killer Joe, Along Came Betty, Blues March. The latter two ended up on Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers’ classic album Moanin’. Golson, beside playing tenor, organised that band, creating a line-up of Philadelphia pals including future trumpet star Lee Morgan. He streamlined Blakey’s profile and business and as such formed the blueprint of succes for the fledgling Art Blakey. Golson’ Jazztet (Personel varied apart from key member Art Farmer; the quintessential line-up included Curtis Fuller) broadened the jazz horizon with sophisticated yet swinging stuff. They re-united in 1982. By then, Golson had been off the jazz scene for nearly 15 years. Following the footsteps of Quincy Jones and J.J. Johnson, Golson spent the latter part of the sixties as well as the seventies in Hollywood, scoring films and series.

Elegant compositions, fascinating voicings, surging but also quaintly cerebral lines: pure Benny Golson. It’s all there on The Other Side Of Benny Golson, the first recorded collaboration between Golson and Curtis Fuller. Golson sounds simultaneously smooth and gutsy and has a way of choosing interesting, odd notes all the time, cooking in understated fashion. For all his inventive composing and blowing, both feet of Golson stand firmly in the soil of tradition. The breathy sound that Golson displays, notably in his original ballad Cry A Blue Tear, reflects his admiration for swing giants like Ben Webster. Golson’s phrasing would’ve been an asset in Ellington’s orchestra.

The beautiful, often dreamy colors that Golson creates with the intriguing tenor-trombone combination account for much of the enjoyment of this album. Fuller smoothly weaves in and out of the theme of Are You Real?, another instant classic of Golson. How Golson cooks in his own way is evident in Strut Time, a lively stop-time tune in which Golson continually stacks one canny idea upon the other. Original stuff. Symptoms is an equally alluring melody, the musical equivalent of fog that hangs over a lake at the dawn’s early light. It includes a poetic trombone solo by Curtis Fuller. Then Golson opts for a contrast, stoking up the fire with fast flurries of notes, elements that Golson incorporates matter-of-factly into his sophisticated style as a tenorist.

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Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis Afro-Jaws (Riverside 1960)

Blue Note is admired for immaculately organised sessions. In this respect, Riverside should also be granted a place under the sun. When founder Orrin Keepnews signed Thelonious Monk in 1958, he decided to dedicate the pianist’s label debut album to the work of Duke Ellington, revealing challenging conceptual thinking. Riverside also created new vistas for its roster. Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis’ Afro-Jaws is a case in point. It’s a well-rehearsed session involving carefully chosen personel and repertoire.

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Personnel

Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis (tenor saxophone), Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn), Ernie Royal (trumpet), Phil Sunkel (trumpet), John Ballo (trumpet A3-4), Lloyd Mayers (piano), Larry Gales (bass), Ben Riley (drums), Ray Barretto (conga, bongo), Gil Lopez (arranger)

Recorded

on May 4 & 12, 1960 in NYC

Released

as RLP 343 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Wild Rice
Guanco Lament
Tin Tin Deo
Jazz-A-Samba
Side B:
Alma Alegre
Star Eyes
Afro-Jaws


Tough Tenor Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis adapts well to the Afro-Cuban setting reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie’s groups. Should we expect otherwise? Davis blew horn on stage at Minton’s Playhouse amidst the bop innovators in the late forties and early fifties, functioning as de facto jam session MC. He is known for his work in the classic organ combo format of, notably, Shirley Scott and extended cooperations with the equally hard blowing, fellow tenorist Johnny Griffin, but also had journeyed through the big bands of Cootie Williams and Count Basie. Experience abound.

Gil Lopez wrote four out of seven infectious tunes and his arrangements are in your face, perfect foil for the gutsy sound of Davis. A major part of the tight group sound is the rhythm tandem of drummer Ben Riley and bassist Larry Gales, who would go on to form a good team the following years for Griffin, Davis and, in the mid-to-late sixties, Thelonious Monk.

Wild Rice sets the album’s pace, opening with a mix of heavy percussion, tenor and brass before leading to the buoyant theme and four/four solo section. The rest of the album follows the same course more or less. Davis has a suave way of weaving through the themes and his solo outings are on the money, both displayed with a relentless beat.

Alma Alegre is the odd one out, a slow, grinding piece that has Davis beautifully riding the waves of an intricate, multiple bar theme. Ever since Dizzy Gillespie introduced Chano Pozo and Gil Fuller’s Tin Tin Deo into the jazz realm, musicians have been fond of playing it. ‘Jaws’ kickstarts himself into furtive action after a couple of curious, worn clichés and Clark Terry is his usual masterful self.

The tempo of ballad Star Eyes, the sole standard off the album, is taken up a few notches and graced with a honky ‘Jaws’-solo. Davis’ Ben Webster-like mindset works equally well in the jivy bop riff Jazz-A-Samba. The album ends with the title track Afro-Jaws, a relentless groove.

Special mention for the slightly surrealistic record cover. Very carefully ‘organized’ as well.

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Bobby Timmons This Here Is Bobby Timmons (Riverside 1960)

A working day that sucks the soul out of me. An argument with the woman that hangs suspended in the air like a radioactive snowflake on the leaf of a tree. Many of you know the drill. Or don’t. Me and my wife, we’ll catch up. But for the moment, what better cure than a good piece of music? Bobby Timmons’ classic cut This Here certainly qualifies. Lasting a mere 3:31 minutes, its forceful, gospel-driven beat and style is enough for at least a temporary driving out of demons. It comes upon me like a strong but gentle wave. I jump for joy. Am moved by its groove and feeling.

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Personnel

Bobby Timmons (piano), Sam Jones (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums)

Recorded

on January 13 & 14 at Reeves Sound Studio, NYC

Released

as RLP 1164 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
This Here
Moanin’
Lush Life
The Party’s Over
Prelude To A Kiss
Side B:
Dat Dere
My Funny Valentine
Prelude To A Kiss
Joy Ride


Cannonball Adderley used to introduce the tune, that became part of his set when Timmons joined his quintet in 1959, as ‘simultaneously a shout and a chant.’ Jazz waltzes often have a lithe, airy quality. Not This Here. It has relentless drive. Indeed, all tunes on Timmons’ solo debut on Riverside, This Here Is Bobby Timmons, swing from start to finish. Even ballads like My Funny Valentine. At the time, Timmons’ version of the tune, as Orrin Keepnews reveals in the liner notes of the album, was commonly referred to by Timmons’ colleagues as My Funky Valentine. Obviously, Timmons put a lot of church influence in his music. Timmons was raised in church, played church organ and his father was a minister.

Timmons had been part of major groups like those of Chet Baker, Sonny Stitt and Art Blakey, with whom he recorded his signature tune, Moanin’ in 1958. By the fall of 1959 Timmons had become part of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. Their live album The Cannonball Adderley Quintet In San Francisco, recorded on October 18 & 20, 1959, was a smash (jazz) hit, largely due to their exciting rendition of This Here. Three months later, on January 13 and 14, Timmons recorded his first solo album with fellow Adderley member, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Cobb had been an Adderley member at various recordings from Winter 1957 to Spring 1959. By January 1960 Timmons had decided to return to Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He would record Dat Dere with Blakey on March 6, 1960.

Dat Dere is longer than its ‘churchy’ cousin This Here, but the fire cracks almost as hard. Yet its playful, rollicking theme also has a moody quality. After Timmons states the theme in rootsy, Ray Charles-like fashion, the groove gets going. Then follows a Sam Jones intermezzo, whereafter the tune builds to a climax with a terrific shout chorus and a clever modulation that leads back to the theme. Timmons’ version has a rawer quality than ‘Blakey’s’ equally immaculate version. That version boasts Blakey’s inspiring accompaniment and great solo’s by Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter. In ‘Cannonball Adderley’s’ version on Them Dirty Blues of February 1, 1960, Timmons jumps into locked four-hands playing almost immediately. It’s a great solo but different.

‘Art Blakey’s’ iconic version of Moanin’ is as powerful as it can get. Timmons’ take isn’t short on hi-voltage energy either. Sam Jones’ deep sound and strong beat and Jimmy Cobb’s uplifting style coupled with Timmons’ tough yet playful left hand create an unmistakably groovy piece of hard bop. The piano sound of Timmons – robust, slightly feeble – ignites the atmosphere of a juke joint. The whole album benefits from this atmosphere. Intricate jazz loaded with feeling and a barrelhouse sound. It’s too good to miss.

This Here, Dat Dere and Moanin’ are iconic hard bop cuts that refreshed the jazz world of the late fifties and early sixties and inspired many generations of mainstream jazz musicians thereafter. One thing they have in common is that they never wear me out. Should we consider Joy Ride a fourth classic of Timmons’ Riverside album? Not a bad idea. It’s a piece of blistering bebop soul. Jimmy Cobb opens the uptempo tune with a series of cocky firecrackers and Timmons’ solo is a spirited mix of blues, Art Tatum and Bud Powell.

The tender Prelude To A Kiss shows the delicate side of Timmons’ personality. Lush Life’s dramatic flourish is enticing. Yet even in these tunes Timmons sneaks in bold, accurate blues lines. They make complete Timmons’ quintessential album This Here Is Bobby Timmons: a gospel-tinged, extremely swinging and articulate affair that’s imbued with a joyful sense of discovery. It kills me time and again.

freedomsuite

Sonny Rollins Freedom Suite (Riverside 1958)

The title track of Sonny Rollins’ provocative 1958 album Freedom Suite takes up the whole of side A. Does anybody ever care to continue listening to side B’s set of Broadway and pop reworkings in one sweep? I would guess not. Notwithstanding the merits of those intriguing pop interpretations, the Freedom Suite is just too overwhelming. It begs to be relistened once the needle is off.

freedomsuite

Personnel

Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone), Oscar Pettiford (bass), Max Roach (drums)

Recorded

on February 11 & April 4, 1958 at WOR Recording Studio, NYC

Released

as RLP 12-258 in 1958

Track listing

Side A
The Freedom Suite
Side B
Someday I’ll Find You
Will You Still Be Mine
Till There Was You
Shadow Waltz


Nowadays, the place of Freedom Suite in the pantheon of influential musical statements of black consciousness is safe and secured. Back then, it was a bold stroke from a successful, innovative jazz artist who allegedly had trouble finding a decent apartment in New York City due to white racism. The message is hard to overlook. In the original sleeve notes, a statement from Sonny Rollins is included:

“America is deeply rooted in Negro culture: its colloquialisms, its humor, its music. How ironic that the Negro, who more than any other people can claim America’s culture as its own, is being persecuted and repressed, that the Negro, who has exemplified the humanities in his very existence, is being rewarded with inhumanity.”

The image of Sonny Rollins on the front cover might be explained as the visual companion to his written words. Rollins, half-naked, cast in shadows, with a hurt, yet defiant countenance, looks purported to resemble a slave. It connects with the parts of the suite that bear an eerie resemblance to chain gang songs.

First and foremost, Sonny Rollins lets the music speak for itself. The Freedom Suite (the title track) combines the harmonic daring and fervent drive of Rollins and the controlled fire and melodic finesse of his companions Max Roach and Oscar Pettiford. It’s built on three movements of similar, short melodies and fascinates from start to finish. In the opening melody, a tacky, jingle-like cluster of phrases that show Rollins’ affinity with the playful, quixotic themes of Charlie Parker, Rollins takes seven minutes to explore every angle of the melody. Pushing or pulling the beat, veering between registers by way of an assertive flurry of arpeggio’s, Rollins glues together heartfelt sweeps and humorous asides. Oscar Pettiford sternly pushes along the loping rhythm. Max Roach concentrates almost as much on melody as Rollins; constantly favouring snare and toms above cymbals, Roach ferociously mirrors the instant gems Rollins cooks up. It’s a spontaneous, exciting group performance.

After a pause, the trio sets in the rollicking theme that sounds like a chain gang or slave boat song. Paradoxically, it also has the giddy-up bounce of a cowboy song. Via a couple of a capella Rollins phrases, it segues into a beautiful ballad. It’s not a blues, but blues feeling is at its core. The husky delivery of Rollins is supported succinctly by Roach and Pettiford. They take plenty of room, as in the first movement, to display their excellent solo qualities. Roach and Rollins shared a lot of experience, having collaborated in the Max Roach/Clifford Brown quintet and on a couple of Rollins albums, among them the landmark album Saxophone Colossus.

After another chain gang bounce intermezzo, Rollins thrusts himself headlong into a short melody at breakneck speed. It’s the Sonny Rollins of Live At The Village Vanguard 1 & 2, elaborating on bebop principles with fresh, harmonic elan. The near-anarchic Rollins is in top form, beginning and ending phrases where you least expect them to. The piano-less endeavor has clearly worked in Rollins’ favour. Freedom Suite possesses a rugged beauty. Before Freedom Suite, Rollins had recorded succesfully with piano-less trio’s on Way Out West and the beforementioned Village Vanguard albums. He would continue displaying his fascination for the format with The Bridge in 1961.

Rollins is admired for his knack of finding and transforming often obscure Broadway, Tin Pan Alley and pop melodies. The interpretations on Freedom Suite have that typical Sonny Rollins sound of surprise, but lack the bliss of renditions such as There’s No Business Like Show Business (from Worktime) The production doesn’t work in his favor as well. The sound of the rhythm section is pretty flat and dry – listening to Max Roach cardboard box sound, one feels inclined to assume that it must’ve been Riverside’s objective to re-create the demo sound of a live gig at Minton’s Playhouse in the late fourties.

Of these reworkings, Will You Still Be Mine is the most interesting. The intricate rhythm work of Roach and Pettiford intensifies the mood of Rollins, who reacts with an extravagant climax. The call and response between Rollins and Roach on Someday I’ll Find You is an attractive asset to a pretty melody. Till There Was You – also recorded by The Beatles in 1962 – is a sax-bass duet for the biggest part. Rollins succesfully avoids its corny character. The only time Sonny Rollins doesn’t seem up for his task is on Shadow Waltz. He sounds detached, unable to get under the skin of the melody.

Sonny’s statements in the sleeve notes ring through. Both daily life (housing, employment) and law (the victory of Brown vs Board Of Education backfired) still put blacks in disadvantage around 1958. Racism persisted around the country. A disproportionate number of poor blacks had died in the Korean war. But being a musician, being the continuously inventive Sonny Rollins, the music of Freedom Suite is what speaks most eloquently. Rollins doggedly met the challenge of the experimental title track and showed what jazz is all about.

Pepper Adams - 10 To 4 At The Five Spot

Pepper Adams 10 To 4 At The Five Spot (Riverside 1958)

If you like your baritone sax tough and hard-swinging, Pepper Adams is your man. Live album 10 To 4 At The 5 Spot runs the hard bop gamut of the period – mid-tempoed tunes that leave a lot of room for expressive blowing, coupled with fat-bottomed balladry.

Pepper Adams - 10 To 4 At The Five Spot

Personnel

Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone), Donald Byrd (trumpet), Bobby Timmons (piano), Doug Watkins (bass), Elvin Jones (drums)

Recorded

on April 15, 1958 at The Five Spot, NYC

Released

RLP 12-265 in 1958

Track listing

Side A:
‘Tis
You’re My Thrill
The Long Two/Four
Side B:
Hastings Street Bounce
Yourna


It’s distinctive for the technically brilliant and thunderous approach through which Pepper Adams is duly remembered as the guy who elevated the baritone saxophone to an instrument that could compete with the modern tenors, altos and trumpets of the day. 10 To 4 At The Five Spot also boasts the charged interaction between the top rate members of the quintet.

A number of musicians of the classic era have said that they felt extra comfortable when they happened to find themselves on the bandstand with colleagues that hailed from the same area. This group of men who were born or grew up in Detroit (excluding Bobby Timmons, who’s from Philadelphia) is exemplary of that sentiment. They sound very close-knit. Another Detroiter, Thad Jones – older brother of drummer Elvin Jones – is the composer of the boppish opening track, ‘Tis, on which all soloists take care of business. The ballad You’re My Thrill finds Adams’ dark, lyrical mood embellished by his typical barking-dog timbre and articulate, jagged phrases.

My advise to the listener is to take for granted the Five Spot’s out of tune piano and enjoy the spirited work of Bobby Timmons. His energy is evident in The Long Two/Four, in which he backs Adams and Donald Byrd amazingly alert, stimulating his compatriots by constantly pushing the bars. The condition of the upright piano is the only bad thing to say about the Five Spot. The New York café of the Termini Brothers, situated in the Bowery, was put on the map by Thelonious Monk’s long engagement in 1957 and hosted a responsive and knowledgeable bohemian and artistic crowd. Other illustrious albums recorded at the Five Spot are Monk’s Thelonious In Action and Misterioso and Eric Dolphy’s At The Five Spot 1 & 2. Pepper Adams’ 10 To 4 At The 5 Spot is one of the first Riverside live albums.

Pepper Adams gets the Five Spot crowd moving with the catchy jump blues tune, Hastings Street Bounce, that’s chock-full of archetypical jive accents. It’s an Adams original lifted from a traditional riff the baritone saxophone once heard and suavely evokes the spirit of forerunners and contemporaries Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker and Tiny Bradshaw. There is a certain relish in the statements of the soloists that cannot be attributed only to their considerable talents, but also to the buoyant spirit of the tune. Drummer Elvin Jones lays down a smooth r&b ballroom beat. It is but one of the examples in his career that the drummer, known for his uproarious, polyrhythmic approach, notably with John Coltrane, proofs to be capable of understated, intuitive backing as well.

Yourna is a very melodic ballad, written by Donald Byrd. Adams and Byrd embrace eachother with the same warm voicings as their famous counterparts, Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, did in ballads such as My Funny Valentine. But their sound and style, however, is the anti-thesis of Mulligan and Baker. They’re more robust. Adams and Byrd sometimes sound like four horns and the climactic accents of Yourna’s theme sent chills through my spine.

As evening went into night at the legendary Five Spot café, the bohemian clientèle had the pleasure of enjoying a vintage date of Pepper Adams & Co.