Friday, April 03, 2009

Horace Parlan - Up and Down (Blue Note 1961, RVG 2009)

This is a nice bluesy hard bop session that is typical of the type of blues and bop based music that was the core of Blue Note's output during this period. Parlan was a thoughtful and nimble pianist who overcame a bout of polio that reduced use of one of his hands to become a proficient and productive jazz musician. Joining him on this disc are a couple of masters of the bluesy groove, guitarist Grant Green and tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin. Rounding out the session are bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood. The music presented here has a nice soulful feel, with Parlan's percussive piano locking in with Tucker and Harewood to make a crack rhythm session. "Book's Beat" a nice feature for Ervin leads off the session with a righteous swinging feel and excellent solos from the saxophonist and from Green. The guitarist's own "The Other Part of Town" is a lengthy excursion that really allows him a chance to stretch out and play. I love the way he sets up tension in his solos by playing a series of repeating notes until it is almost monotonous and then lets the tension loose with a furious improvisation. This was a really solid meat and potatoes session. The group sticks to the mainstream of blues, bop and ballads, but there is enough variety in the music and in the personalities of the musicians to keep things consistently interesting throughout.
Up & Down -

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