There has been a great number of Horace Silver tribute albums over the decades. But few if any come as crisp as one of the earliest efforts by The Mastersounds from 1960, Play Compositions By Horace Silver.
Buddy Montgomery (vibraphone), Richard Crabtree (piano), Buddy Montgomery (electric bass), Benny Barth (drums)
in 1960 in Los Angeles
as WP 1284 in 1960
he Mastersounds, consisting of two Montgomery brothers – Buddy on vibraphone, Monk on electric bass – pianist Richard Crabtree and drummer Benny Barth, recorded a string of albums on World Pacific during their all-too brief existence from 1957 till 1961. One of those, Kismet
, featured their brother, the gifted, groundbreaking guitarist Wes Montgomery. The concept of the West Coast-based Mastersounds was built around the earthy, fluid vibes playing of Buddy Montgomery and was a notable playground for the pioneering electric bass style of Monk Montgomery. Monk started using the Fender bass as early as 1952 in the Lionel Hampton band and was the first to play electric bass on a jazz recording on the Art Farmer Septet recordings in July, 1953. It is generally agreed that he in effect was the first to record electric bass in any genre.
Arguably the highlight of their career, Play Compositions By Horace Silver is marked by relentless, tight-knit group swing and Buddy’s sprightly, soul-drenched vibraphone excursions. Not to mention Monk’s successful attempts of adding groove and walkin’ bass magic with the electric bass. The Mastersounds play as a bunch of young and hungry lions. Very similar to the other great West Coast soul jazz and hard bop group, The Jazz Crusaders. (Buddy and Monk were associated with some of the members of this group at regular times during their careers)
Crabtree’s finest hour occurs during Doodlin’, his probing, fleet lines gracing the group’s lively take on Silver’s down-home classic. Monk Montgomery takes an expert solo, quoting Franky And Johnny in the process. The Mastersounds’ versions of Ecaroh and Nica’s Dream are quicksilver gems. Enchantment and Moonrays are interesting choices of the Silver repertory. Enchantment leans a bit towards long-windedness. Moonrays is a gush of fresh air. Like Silver’s music, its fluid bounce effortlessly arouses a singularly jubilant feeling in the listener.
The succesful fourth live recording of The Jazz Crusaders at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California (those of 1962, ’66 and ’68 also gained a considerable degree of popularity) is characterised by a warm sound and an exciting live atmosphere. And, above all, by two exhilarating covers of The Beatles’ Get Back and Tony Joe White’s Willie And Laura Mae Jones.
Wilton Felder (tenor saxophone), Wayne Henderson (trombone), Joe Sample (piano, electric piano), Buster Williams (bass), Stix Hooper (drums)
in 1969, live at The Lighthouse, Hermosa Beach, California
as WP ST-20165 in 1969
It’s Got To Be Real
Willie And Laura Mae Jones
It’s Your Thing
Inside The Outside
he Jazz Crusaders had the advantage of five members able to write on demand. (or four and a half, since Buster Williams was an occasional member) Their original compositions on Lighthouse ’69 are noteworthy despite their similarity of rhythm and melodic structure – with the exception of Buster Williams’ energetic Ruby P’Gonia
. The solo’s from tenorist Wilton Felder and trombonist Wayne Henderson aren’t spectacular but solid and close to the blues. And close to bebop as well, as is evidenced by Wayne Henderson’s extended quote of Charlie Parker’s Now’s The Time
(itself a variation of the traditional The Hucklebuck
) in Inside The Outside
What makes Lighthouse ’69 a classic album are two pop and soul covers. Their version of The Isley Brothers’ It’s Your Thing doesn’t belong to this group. It’s not the standout funk demonstration you would expect from a group of that high standard. But dig, if you will, The Jazz Crusaders’ intoxicating excursions into pop and country soul. The rhythm section informs both Get Back and Willie And Laura Mae Jones with an irresistable groove – heavier than the original beat – which is a big part of its attraction. Another part is pianist Joe Sample, who changes to electric piano for these tunes and whose supportive and solo statements are arresting.
Get Back contains short, tacky tenor and trombone solo’s that, considering the fact that there isn’t much chordal room to play with, intelligently play with the melody, and are embellished by more than one passionate squeal; it’s a first-class steamroller you wish wouldn’t eventually have to pull to a stop. The horn sections of Willie And Laura Mae Jones, a gritty backwater song if ever there was one, beg you to get your ass out of that shack and shake that thang.
Two bona fide soul jazz classics pretty much destined to make you shout for more, and then some.
YouTube: Willie And Laura Mae Jones
No, we’re not talking about a sensational album here. Not even a great album. Nor should we expect the mellifluous groove that is part of Richard Holmes’ inventory or the solid bebop statements of Jimmy Smith. Or, for that matter, a telling solo that extends the two minute time frame. Billy Larkin & The Delegates play a rather lame version of It’s A Man’s World. Jenne is synonymous for Duke Pearson’s Jeannine, but lacks verve and immediacy.
Billy Larkin (organ), Fats Theus (tenor sax), Jimmy Daniels (guitar), Jessie Kilpatrick (drums)
as WP 1850 in 1966
Hold on! I’m A Comin’
Cuchy Frito Man
It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World
Blowin’ In The Wind
It Ain’t Necessarily So
When A Man Loves A Woman
It’s Alright With Me
ut that’s one helluva take on Hayes and Porter’s classic soul cut Hold On, I’m Comin’
. It has relentless drive, a big sound and a drum performance that should’ve made it hard for Sam & Dave to resist including Kilpatrick on their tour band payroll.
R&B tracks such as Dirty Water and Barefootin’ (part of its theme is a verbatim quote of Nat Adderley’s Work Song) are in Pigmy-vein, Pigmy Pt 1 being a pretty raucous, Jimmy McGriff-type 45rpm by Billy Larkin that is a favorite on many a retro DJ’s turntable.
The popularity of Larkin’s Portland, Oregon outfit didn’t really extend beyond the borders of the West Coast region. They made seven albums for Aura and World Pacific. The question is not if you find a couple of tunes on each of those albums that’ll kickstart the hips of any lover of happy-go-lucky soul jazz into furtive action. The question is when the motor starts-a-hummin’.