Horace PARLAN – Happy Frame of Mind 1963

Horace PARLAN – Happy Frame of Mind 1963
2000 Issue. TOCJ-9186


Happy Frame of Mind finds Horace Parlan breaking away from the soul-inflected hard bop that had become his trademark, moving his music into more adventurous, post-bop territory. Aided by a first-rate quintet — trumpeter Johnny Coles, tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin, guitarist Grant Green, bassist Butch Warren, drummer Billy Higgins — Parlan produces a provocative set that is grounded in soul and blues but stretches out into challenging improvisations. None of the musicians completely embrace the avant-garde, but there are shifting tonal textures and unpredictable turns in the solos which have been previously unheard in Parlan’s music. Perhaps that’s the reason why Happy Frame of Mind sat unissued in Blue Note’s vaults until 1976, when it was released as part of a double-record Booker Ervin set, but the fact of the matter is, it’s one of Parlan’s most successful efforts, finding the perfect middle ground between accessible, entertaining jazz and more adventurous music.
By Stephen Thomas Erlewine. AMG.
Wicked work by pianist Horace Parlan — and one of his most stunning Blue Note sessions ever! The album was first recorded in 1963, but then kept on the shelf for years — seeing only brief release as part of a Booker Ervin package in the late 70s, and finally coming out with the proper cover and lineup at some point in the 80s! Why Blue Note waited so long is a mystery, because the album’s a gem throughout — almost more important, and more starkly modern than any of Parlan’s other work for the label. Booker Ervin leads the frontline on tenor, alongside Johnny Coles on trumpet, Grant Green on guitar, and the rhythm section of Butch Warren and Billy Higgins. Parlan’s choice of material is fantastic — with a number of Africanist tracks that feature unique rhythmic patterns that really push the soloists! Titles include “A Tune For Richard”, “Dexi”, “Home Is Africa”, “Kucheza Blues”, and “Back From The Gig”.
From Dusty Groove.
The album title doesn’t lie.  Right from the opening bass work by Butch Warren you’re happy.  This is a good example of the kind of amazing jazz album that jumps in and out of print for no good reason whatsoever.  Butch Warren(bass) and Billy Higgins(drums) are experienced in playing this kind of feel-good music from their work with trumpet player Lee Morgan and tenor sax giant Dexter Gordon.  Next add Johnny Coles (trumpet) and Booker Ervin (tenor sax), two Charles Mingus disciples, to the mix.  What can I say about Horace Parlan?  He’re a guy who’s right hand is partially paralyzed and he still plays the piano better than 99% of people.  Oh yeah, he played with Mingus as well, for about a decade as well.  The icing on the cake is Grant Green.  Once again, Green seems to crawl out of his shell when he plays in somebody elses band.  His playing is fantastic.  I’d recommend Blue and Sentimental by Ike Quebec for more of his unbelievable work as a sideman.  If you own and love “The Sidewinder” by Lee Morgan, then you neeeeeeeeeeeed this.  The feel of the album is very similar and there’s the bonus of guitar.  There must  have been something incredible in the water in 1963 because the list of incredible jazz from that year that I’ve discovered just keeps getting bigger and bigger.  Hunt for this album.
Johnny Coles- (Trumpet)
Booker Ervin- (Tenor Sax)
Horace Parlan- (Piano)
Grant Green- (Guitar)
Butch Warren- (Bass)
Billy Higgins- (Drums)
01. Home Is Africa (Ronnie Boykins) 8:46
02. Tune for Richard (Booker Ervin) 6:06
03. Back from the Gig (Horace Parlan) 5:52
04. Dexi (Johnny Coles) 5:54
05. Kuchenza Blues (Randy Weston) 5:39
06. Happy Frame of Mind (Horace Parlan) 6:13

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