Thursday, October 06, 2005

It's a bop invasion!

God lord, what a great weak for bop reissues! Three mid-60s corkers from Blue Note are out now: Booker Ervin's Tex Book Tenor (very punny, eh?), Andrew Hill's Andrew!!! (another great title) and Jackie McLean's Consequences (like the Ervin record, unreleased for a while after it was recorded).

Another thing that these albums have in common are the great line-ups. Listen to Ervin's fiery "204"- each of the soloists shines mightily, especially trumpeter Woody Shaw though drummer Billy Higgins isn't exactly a slouch. Hill, who goes for a more laid-back, cerebral approach, corrals John Gilmore (who also played sax for Sun Ra) and Richard Davis (who rock fans will remember from Astral Weeks). McLean, who also has Higgins in his band in addition to master trumpeter Lee Morgan, might made the most accessible of these three albums for non-jazz ears- his music is jaunty and not afraid of pop usages (i.e. catchy choruses) without indulging too heavily in them. As proof of that last point, listen to McLean and Morgan each taking turns cutting loose on the title track in breathless, rapid fury. Also, their version of the standard "My Old Flame" is... well, just to die for in its smoking-jacket lounge succulence.

Of the three, McLean is probably the best known but hopefully, these little reminders will draw people back to Hill and Ervin's work. And though Ervin sadly passed away at age 40 in 1970 (not long after TBT was recorded), both Hill and McLean are both active, with the former recently winning awards and leading a big band. Maybe some wise promoter should consider booking them together on a tour...


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