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COOL STRUTTIN' (RVG EDITION)
Tout simplement l'un des sommets de la période Blue Note du pianiste. Accompagné d'un quintette au-delà de tout soupçon (Art Farmer, Jackie McLean, Paul Chambers et "Philly" Joe Jones), Sonny Clark développe un jeu cristallin et lumineux ("Cool Struttin'", "Sippin' At Bells") qui se met parfois au service d'émouvantes combinaisons ("Deep Night"). Trop longtemps éclipsé par ses illustres aînés Bud Powell ou Thelonious Monk, il est temps de redécouvrir ce petit maître du hard bop. --Éric Frank
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This album contains 6 tracks, of which two ("Lover" & "Royal Flush") were not present on the original vinyl. Though not all the tunes are blues, the blues inform the album's mostly relaxed, minor-key mood and pacing. Jackie McLean is a key voice here, delivering one of his most brilliant performances of the 1950s; his tone is here unusually limpid, without the abrasiveness & deliberately idiosyncratic pitching of other McLean recordings of this period. Art Farmer is an unusual choice for the trumpet chair--if this were recorded a few years later I'm sure Morgan, Byrd or Hubbard would have got the date, all Blue Note favourites--but proves an excellent choice because of his temperamental reserve & poise. The key performance here is the medium-up "Deep Night", a rather little-played standard (I think I've only one other performance of it in my collection, on Betty Carter's _The Audience With..._). Clark's opening statement is comparable to Horace Silver's more pensive moments (e.g. "Melancholy Mood" on _Blowin' the Blues Away_) but unfolds with a gentle but inexorable logic that I find quite breathtaking: the track builds in excitement as Philly Joe Jones switches from brushes to sticks when Farmer comes in, & as the mood intensifies with Jackie McLean's solo. It's truly exciting.
A lovely, lovely disc. One oddity is that "Lover", the second of the previously unreleased tracks, contains no solo by the leader....which explains why it wasn't released, I guess. Anyway, this is an essential disc.
Most jazz fanatics out there probably already own this Blue Note classic. Therefore, this review is aimed more for the novice jazz fan or perhaps someone (such as I five years ago) just learning about jazz after perhaps hearing it on the radio or satellite television. Well, all I can say is you can't go wrong making this purchase! First off, you have an all-star quintet led by the smooth as silk Sonny Clark (piano), joined by Art Farmer (trumpet), Jackie McClean (alto sax), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). Despite the fact that most of these cats were blasted on drugs (particularly heroin) and booze at the time, they still turned in tremendous, top-notch performances. McClean does his best Charlie Parker imitation, squawking away his solos with reckless abandon and absolutely no fear. Like Art Farmer was quoted as saying in Nat Hentoff's original liner-notes, "Jackie has a feeling in his playing that you know immediately is him. He doesn't just copy." Yes, there is no doubt McClean has is own unique, original voice and this album is one of the prime examples of that. It is also, one of his best performances ever (see SWING, SWANG, SWINGIN and ONE STEP BEYOND for two more examples).
Art Farmer may not always be talked about in the same breath as others when one is mentioning the greatest trumpet players of all-time (i.e. Louis, Dizzy, Miles, Brownie, Freddie, Lee Morgan, et al...) but he definitely is worthy of praise. I don't know if I have ever heard Art Farmer not sound great. Sure he may lack the charisma and magnetism of a Miles Davis (his main influence as a musician), but I personally love his clean, controlled, consistent style. Sonny Clark on the keys has always been one of my favorites because in many ways he is the quintessential hard bop pianist (which is my personal favorite style of jazz). By the way, does anyone else think that Clark and Tommy Flanagan are the same person at times? The way they swing, their perfect control of melody, and the way they seem to glide across the keys with a soft, unique touch. Simply sensational!
Finally, there is no amount of hyperbole I can write about Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers that would ever do them justice. I have never read about any other drummer in the history of jazz (Rich, Roach, Blakey, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, etc...) that gets more compliments from his fellow musicians than Philly Joe Jones. My favorite quote was by Miles in his autobiography, "...he (Jones) knew everything I was going to do, everything I was going to play; he anticipated me, felt what I was thinking." And Paul Chambers is simply one of the top three bass players of all-time on just about every one's list, especially when it comes to hard-bop. The two of them are outstanding.
In 1963, at the early age of 31, Sonny Clark left this Earth way too soon like so many other jazz legends - Billie, Bird, Brownie, Coltrane, Jaco, LaFaro, Pettiford, Watkins, Powell, et al... I have to stop now, because I am getting depressed. However, all I have to do to start feeling good is press the play button on my stereo and once again start listening to this sensational, five-star recording.
This is one of the longest reviews I've ever written. But after all, it was that one song from this great album, that truly changed my life forever.
Not to slight anyone else here, as this is one great album, but Art Farmer is just The Man here. I still wonder why you don't hear more people singing his praises. I just love that Art's playing is sorta reserved or low key, and he has fantastic tone. Musically, he has plenty of things to say without having to be nearly as boisterous as, say, Freddie Hubbard.
Most of the album is strong, but every time the disc ends I always jump back to listen to track one again. Beyond the fact that there is great stuff all over this disc, the title track makes it essential. It's one of my single favorite tunes and performances in the entire Blue Note world.
The opening title track is a funky and heavy swingin blues with a strong unison sound produced by Mclean and Farmer. Clark, Farmer, Mclean, and Chambers all solo like a log on the fire, slow burning. "Blue Minor" is obviously a minor keyed tune with extended solos that are simple but meaningful.
"Sippin" at the bell is a be-bop tune with a very melodically and Harmonically interesting tune. Jackie somewhat takes the role of Bird playing up and downscales with speed and accuracy.
"Deep Night" starts off with Clark, Chambers, and Jones in a Piano Trio-istic fashion with the horns taking their solos. The two bonus tracks include "Royal Flush" a Clark original and the standard "Lover".
The session is just heavy handed yet straight ahead jazz. Clark threw out all the fancy tricks and twists and turns and threw in simple yet unique tunes.
"Cool Struttin" is a classic.