Archive for the Horace PARLAN Category

Horace PARLAN – Happy Frame of Mind 1963

Posted in Horace PARLAN, JAZZ on December 26, 2010 by whoisthemonk

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

Jazz

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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Horace PARLAN – Us Three 1960

Posted in Horace PARLAN, JAZZ on November 25, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Horace PARLAN – Us Three 1960
(with George Tucker and Al Harewood)
BN 4037

Jazz

On this recording made in 1960 during his tenure with Lou Donaldson, pianist Horace Parlan is situated nicely alongside bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood. The trio had its own gig on Sundays at Minton’s in Harlem, and had established a repertoire and reputation for being able to lay down both hard bop and soul-jazz stylings with equal verve. (And yeah, that jazz/hip-hop group from the 1990s was named after this disc.) The proceedings here are straight-ahead with some cool soul-jazz touches. Parlan’s “Wadin'” moves the off-minor key of “Wade in the Water” and funkifies the rhythm, paraphrasing and improvising as the rhythm section struts it out. On the title track, there is a gorgeous lilt in his playing that corresponds to a behind-the-beat walk by Tucker that makes Harewood slip and shimmy constantly on the cymbals with his brushes. There and on “I Want to Be Loved” as well as “Return Engagement” (another Parlan original), something else starts to creep into his playing: the spacy, spare feel of Ahmad Jamal, who Parlan cited as a contemporary influence. The economy of touch, which stands in stark contrast to the hard bop he played with Donaldson and the energetic music he played with Mingus, is in some ways more complex harmonically, and more emotionally satisfying. This is a fine effort from an underappreciated trio.
By Thom Jurek, All Music Guide.
**
Us Three, featuring pianist Horace Parlan, bassist George Tucker, and drummer Al Harewood, is one of Blue Note’s greatest trio albums. The piano-bass-drums three-piece has long been the most compact of all jazz combos, a complete orchestra with just ta few pieces. The trio on Us Three is a bit different than most as it features three superior jazz men who constantly play off of each other, communicating immediately and telepathically in sensitive yet funky interactions.
Parlan, already well-known at 29 and a member of the Lou Donaldson Quartet, was perfect for the trio format in 1960. His soulful chordal style matches seamlessly with the subtle contributions of Tucker and Harewood. They create very memorable originals, and the trio also makes some superior standards sound as if they were written for them. The minds behind Us Three think as one, and the resulting music, which now has sonics never before realized on any other pressing, is classic.
**
Horace Parlan- (Piano),
George Tucker- (Bass),
Al Harewood- (Drums)
**
A1. Us Three 4:32
A2. I Want to Be Loved 4:49
A3. Come Rain or Come Shine 6:25
A4. Wadin’ 5:51
B1. The Lady Is a Tramp 7:08
B2. Walkin’ 7:05
B3. Return Engagement 4:49
**

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Horace PARLAN – Up and Down 1961

Posted in Horace PARLAN, JAZZ on November 22, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Horace PARLAN – Up and Down 1961
2009 Issue.

Jazz

By adding guitarist Grant Green and tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin to his standard rhythm section of bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood, pianist Horace Parlan opens up his sound and brings it closer to soul-jazz on Up and Down. Green’s clean, graceful style meshes well with Parlan’s relaxed technique, while Ervin’s robust tone and virile attack provides a good contrast to the laid-back groove the rhythm section lays down. Stylistically, the music is balanced between hard bop and soul-jazz, which are tied together by the bluesy tint in the three soloists’ playing. All of the six original compositions give the band room to stretch out and to not only show off their chops, but move the music somewhat away from generic conventions and find new territory. In other words, it finds Parlan at a peak, and in many ways, coming into his own as a pianist and a leader.
By Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi.
**
Horace Parlan’s “Up & Down” is a most welcome addition to the RVG Series. Over the past twenty years, only three of Parlan’s seven Blue Note albums were even issued in the States, with all of them currently out of print. (Thankfully they were all collected on a Mosaic set.) As a result, you may not have any CDs by Horace Parlan as a leader, but you might be surprised by the sessions he appeared on as a sideman. In the late 1950s, Parlan was a mainstay in the band of Charles Mingus, appearing on the classic Atlantic album “Blues & Roots” and Columbia’s “Mingus Ah Um.” On Blue Note, the great rhythm trio of Parlan, bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood was the foundation for many classic dates of the early 1960s — Dexter Gordon’s Doin’ Allright, Lou Donaldson’s “Midnight Sun” and several Stanley Turrentine recordings, including Look Out, “Comin’ Your Way” and “Up At Minton’s.” This June 18, 1961 session, Parlan’s sixth for the label, added tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin and guitarist Grant Green to that trio to great effect. On “Up & Down,” the pianist continues to showcase the funky hard bop grooves of earlier efforts, but the solos stretch out here in a more modern direction, led by the contributions of Ervin and Green. Look no further than Ervin’s solo on “The Book’s Beat” or Green and Parlan’s solos on the blues “The Other Part of Town” as examples, though my favorite track has to be the forward thinking “Fugee.” You can see why when Parlan returned one final time to the studio for Blue Note in 1963 (for the session known both as “Happy Frame of Mind” and “Back to the Gig”), the only players he brought back were Ervin and Green. It’s too bad these three weren’t able to cut as many dates as the Turrentine/Parlan groups were, but that’s the “Up & Down” of the jazz life — at least we’ve got this one to enjoy!
By Michael B. Richman.
**
This an enjoyable album, skirting that common early-60’s Blue Note line between Hard-Bop and Soul-Jazz, the album in this context is well paced and without noticeable flaws. If you look even a tiny bit deeper this album takes a lot of powerful and energetic parts and assembles a machine of far less power. Booker Ervin and Parlan had just played on some of Mingus’ most explosive dates, and contributed soulfully, leaving there marks all over Blues and Roots and Mingus Ah Um. It just does not reach that level here, and I don’t think Mingus is the missing ingredient. Later this decade Booker would burst with energy on a series of records on Prestige, and play on more great Mingus dates. Parlan would go on to play with even more explosive saxophonists such as Archie Shepp and Roland Kirk. Grant Green was just getting his start in 1961, so he does not have the confidence of style he would on later dates, which some could call formulaic. On Lou Donaldson’s Here Tis’, and other records with Babyface Willette from this year this greeness (pardon the pun) would contribute to the driving bluesy strivings of someone with something to prove. Here when his repetitious lines (I mean this positively, it’s part of his style) get cooking, the ensemble fails to raise the temperature to soul jazz levels, where Green clearly wants to be.

This is an album I hoped, considering the personnel, would explode with energy and the vestiges of Mingus found on Jaki Byard, Jackie Mclean, and Booker Ervin records of this era, instead it is a fairly typical early sixties hard-bop affair, with NO chances taken. Solos are good, relaxed, and jam-esque, but many of the same licks come up across multiple tracks. All this said, this record succeeds at being what it is on all fronts. The playing, pacing, and program choice are flawless, and you will come back to tracks like The Book’s Beat and Fugee more than a few times, but there are no real fireworks going off here.
By Gerrit R. Hatcher.
**
Guitar- Grant Green
Piano- Horace Parlan
Tenor Sax- Booker Ervin
Bass- George Tucker
Drums- Al Harewood
**
01. The Book’s Beat
02. Up And Down
03. Fugee
04. The Other Part Of Town
05. Lonely One
06. Light Blue
07. Fugee (Alternate Take)
**

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