Monday, August 31, 2009

Donald Bailey - Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 3 (Talking House, 2008)

Drummer Donald Bailey is well overdue for some attention. During the 1950’s and 60’s he was a rock solid percussionist for the likes of organist Jimmy Smith and other jazz legends, but for one reason or another, he fell through the cracks and never got to lead any sessions of his own. This record rectifies that situation, with Bailey leading a cracking modern jazz ensemble featuring Odean Pope on tenor sax, Tyrone Brown on bass, George Burton on piano and Charles Tolliver on trumpet. All except Tolliver grew up in the jazz hotbed of Philadelphia, PA and the musicians all sound familiar with each other and happy to be playing together again. For those used to hearing Bailey as an unobtrusive timekeeper for organists, this album will be a most pleasant surprise. Pope’s original “Plant Life” comes bursting out of the gate, with a storming tenor solo, backed by Bailey and Brown’s impeccable swinging and big bright piano chords from Burton. “Blues It” gets a deep groove established with with fine piano accents and deeply soulful tenor playing. Bailey rides the groove for all it is worth, while constantly keeping the music moving forward. Brown gets a couple of excellent features, taking a nice opening bass solo on the lengthy “Trilogy” and engaging brilliantly with Pope on the intimate tenor and bass duet “For All We Know.” Trumpeter Tolliver sits in on the latter, pushing the proceedings out into an exploratory modal jazz concept. This was an excellent album, and Talking House deserves praise for shining a much needed light on an unjustly overlooked musician. Bailey is masterful here, playing great jazz in a soulful and thoughtful manner. The band as a whole is excellent and this is highly recommended for fans of modern acoustic jazz.
Blueprints Of Jazz Vol. 3 -

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