David "Fathead" NEWMAN – The Gift 2003

David “Fathead” NEWMAN – The Gift 2003


Newman came to prominence back in the 60s as a leader in the soul jazz trend with players like brother Jack Mcduff, etc., and he still has that soulful fire some thirty years later. This album features him on flute, tenor, and alto sax and has a fine supporting cast of players. With age, Newman has mellowed to a degree and sounds a bit more boppish than on some of his early records on atlantic ( a key reissue to explore is “that’s Mr. Fathead” on 32 jazz). This set swings from the outset and Newman provides excellent work on flute. Listen for the ballads–here is where the sweet soul still shines through, evoking a warm night, candlelight, and the person you love. Get this album, you will enjoy a session by seasoned master.
By  Rob Watkins.
As a teenager, David Newman played professionally around Dallas and Fort Worth with Charlie Parker’s mentor, Buster Smith, and also with Ornette Coleman in a band led by tenor saxophonist Red Connors. In the early ’50s, Newman worked locally with such R&B musicians as Lowell Fulson and T-Bone Walker. In 1952, Newman formed his longest-lasting and most important musical association with Ray Charles, who had played piano in Fulson’s group. Newman stayed with Charles’ band from 1954-1964, while concurrently recording as a leader and a sideman with, among others, his hometown associate, tenor saxophonist James Clay. Upon leaving Charles, Newman stayed in Dallas for two years. He then moved to New York, where he recorded under King Curtis and Eddie Harris; he also played many commercial and soul dates. Newman returned to Charles for a brief time in 1970-1971; from 1972-1974 he played with Red Garland and Herbie Mann. Newman parlayed the renown he gained from his experience with Charles into a fairly successful recording career. In the ’60s and ’70s, he recorded a series of heavily orchestrated, pop-oriented sides for Atlantic and in the ’80s he led the occasional hard bop session, but Newman’s métier was as an ace accompanist. Throughout his career, he recorded with a variety of non-jazz artists; Newman’s brawny, arrogant tenor sound graced the albums of Aretha Franklin, Dr. John, and many others. It is, in fact, Newman’s terse, earthy improvisations with Charles that remain his most characteristic work. Newman began a productive relationship with HighNote Records at the close of the 1990s, releasing an impressive series of albums, including Chillin’ (1999), Keep the Spirits Singing (2001), Davey Blue (2001), The Gift (2003), Song for the New Man (2004), I Remember Brother Ray (a moving tribute to Ray Charles released in 2005), Cityscape (2006), and Life (2007). Diamondhead followed in 2008. Newman passed on January 20, 2009, from pancreatic cancer.
By Chris Kelsey, All Music Guide.
Veteran saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman shows off his versatility on this pleasing soul-jazz date. He plays tenor on four selections and flute on two others, and switches to soprano and alto for one song apiece. Whether swinging on alto during the cooking blues “Little Sonny’s Tune,” interpreting “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” with a great deal of emotion, or sounding soulful on some newer material, Newman is in excellent form throughout the set. Vibraphonist Bryan Carrott (who deserves to be much better known) and pianist John Hicks also have plenty of fine solos. Overall, this CD finds Fathead in prime form, and it is easily recommended to fans of his straight-ahead dates.
By Scott Yanow. AMG.
David “Fathead” Newman- Flute, Alto, Soprano & Tenor Sax
John Hicks- Piano
Bryan Carrott- Vibraphone
Winard Harper- Drums
Buster Williams- Bass
01. Gift (5:45)
02. Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying (7:15)
03. Off the Hook (5:14)
04. Unspeakable Times (6:23)
05. Little Sonny’s Tune (3:55)
06. Lady Day (6:15)
07. Unchain My Heart (5:38)
08. Ksue (8:36)

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