Monday, March 7, 2011

Soul In The Night & Other Finds

Perhaps the most interesting find on my most recent visit to the Jazz Record Center was a mid-sixties Sonny Stitt-Bunky Green session called Soul In The Night (with future Earth, Wind & Fire leader Maurice White on drums!). While this album is squarely in the soul jazz/organ jazz tradition, from an era when presumably these tunes might've shown up on Chicago jukeboxes, Bunky Green's eventually quite influential (on Greg Osby, Steve Coleman, and Rudresh Manhanthappa, among others) approach on alto is very much in evidence, and the pleasing contrast with Stitt brings it into sharp relief. While some of the tunes seem a bit dated in their Swinging Sixties-ness (at certain points, you can almost picture Austin Powers doing The Frug), there's some real meat here, as on the Stitt-composed simple blues blowing vehicle "Home Stretch", where the two altos stake out their respective aesthetic positions with some nice trading.

Green was still playing "inside" by almost any definition, but with a slight kink or skew away from the mainstream and the alto tradition represented at that time by Stitt, the great Bird torch carrier.
It might be a stretch to call Soul In The Night a template for the Green-Manhanthappa dual alto disc Apex, but I think it would certainly make for an interesting back-to-back listen, and there is a nice bookend quality, with Green having been the young up-and-comer on Soul In The Night and the respected elder on Apex. [When I started writing this, I had no idea that this fantastic Manhanthappa on Green post was going up at Destination: Out.]

In the Record Center's "bargain bin", where surprising treasures lurk, I found the legendary-in-certain-circles Furry Lewis Fourth & Beale, recorded by the also legendary-in-certain-circles Memphis producer Terry Manning with the artist sitting in bed with his wooden leg off. There's a newer version out there with more tracks than this disc has, but for $5 I can't complain - I'd probably pay five bucks for a blank disc if it had Stanley Booth liner notes. I also picked up an album of Kurt Weill songs by Tethered Moon, the trio of Masabumi Kikuchi, Paul Motian and Gary Peacock, the first two of which will be at the Village Vanguard this week.

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