Search This Blog


 Jimmy Smith - Six View Of The Blues

Released - 1999

Recording and Session Information

Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, July 16, 1958
Cecil Payne, baritone sax; Jimmy Smith, organ; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Art Blakey, drums #1-3; Donald Bailey, drums #4-6.

tk.3 St. Louis Blues
tk.8 The Swingin' Shepherd Blues
tk.9 Blues No. 1
tk.10 Blues No. 2
tk.14 Blues No. 3
tk.16 Blues No. 4

Track Listing

TitleAuthorRecording Date
St Louis BluesW. C. HandyJuly 16 1958
The Swingin' Shepherd BluesMoe KoffmanJuly 16 1958
Blues No. 1Jimmy SmithJuly 16 1958
Blues No. 3Jimmy SmithJuly 16 1958
Blues No. 4Jimmy SmithJuly 16 1958
Blues No. 2Jimmy SmithJuly 16 1958

Liner Notes

THIS was Jimmy Smith's 19th recording session for Blue Note since he'd joined the label 29 month earlier. Jimmy Smith had revolutionized the sound and the use of the organ in jazz and he became incredibly popular very quickly. Fortunately for Blue Note, he was also prolific. Still the label couldn't get sessions out fast enough. Jimmy and producer Alfred Lion seemed to settle on four basic rotating contexts in which to record: Smith's working trio (studio and live), an all-star trio (usually Kenny Burrell and Art Blakey), a quartet with Lou Donaldson (later Stanley Turrentine) and jam sessions with three-horn front lines made up of Blue Note regulars like Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Blue Mitchell, Curtis Fuller, Donaldson, Jackie McLean, George Coleman, Tina Brooks, Hank Mobley and Ike Quebec.

This session, issued now for the first time, is somewhat different in two respects. While it wasn't unusual for ringer Art Blakey and Jimmy's regular drummer Donald Bailey to split the drum chores (as they do here), it was unusual for the single horn to be anyone but Lou Donaldson. The choice of baritone saxophone in general and Cecil Payne in particular was an odd one. An excellent player, Cecil, for some reason, was not a Blue Note regular. In fact, he'd only appeared on the 1948 James Moody sides, when both men were in Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra, and on Kenny Dorham's 1955 album Afro-Cuban. And after the session in hand/ he only appeared one more time on a 1961 Tadd Dameron session, which has just been issued on the CD, The Lost Sessions. Perhaps the idea was Burrell's, who'd featured Cecil on his Prestige album Blue Moods the year before. At any rate, this was a peak period for Payne who was in the middle of a long tenure with pianist-composer Randy Weston. It's great to hear him stretch out in this context.

What's even more unusual is the choice of material. Though Jimmy Smith was a fiery blues player who practically created the chitlin circuit of the fifties, he was a fully-equipped jazz artist as likely to play a Monk tune, a be-bop line or an old standard as a soulful blues. His records always reflected his range. Yet this session is an all-blues program, which may be why it was passed over for release over the years. Another reason may have been sonic; each time Cecil Payne finished soloing, engineer Rudy Van Gelder would close his microphone, which changed the sound of the recording abruptly.

Nonetheless, Smith and his superb cast find infinite variety and creative inspiration in the blues form. Art Blakey is present for the first half of the session, which opens with a relaxed reading of the 1914 W.C. Handy tune "St. Louis Blues".

The next piece was "The Swingin' Shepherd Blues," a left field 1958 hit by Canadian flutist Moe Koffman. This was such an inescapable record at the time that every saxophonist was looking through his closet to find his flute. There were dozens of cover versions, and Buddy Collette even organized a group called Four Swingin' Shepherds with Bud Shank, Paul Horn, Harry Klee and the leader all playing different sized flutes. Fortunately, Jimmy and Alfred had the sense and good taste to do a version without flute. This track was issued on Blue Note 45-1711.

Blakey's last tune was the first of four Jimmy Smith blues, a relaxed, medium-up blues with a great walking bass line courtesy of Smith's feet.

Donald Bailey, a Philadelphian who'd joined Smith's trio in time for the organist's second Blue Note session in March 1956, completes the date. Bailey stayed with Smith until well into 1 963, when he settled in Los Angeles where he later joined The Three Sounds and pianist Jack Wilson's trio. Besides freelancing heavily on drums, he also eventually developed a second career playing harmonica.

Jimmy seems intent with his originals on showing and exploring the variety that the blues form has to offer. Blues No. 2 has a shuffle feel; Blues No.3 is in the great slow blues tradition that Smith set with "The Sermon" and Blues No. 4 is a fast, modern bop line with some blistering organ.

This may not be the most earth-shattering of Jimmy Smith's 31 recording sessions for Blue Note, but it is a delightful addition to his incredible and influential legacy at the label. Anytime Smith and Burrell get together (and they still do!), it's a delightful musical experience. And hearing Cecil Payne in this relaxed blues context is an added bonus.



 Grant Green - First Session

Released - 2001

Recording and Session Information

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 26, 1960
Wynton Kelly, piano; Grant Green, guitar; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums.

tk.2 Just Friends
tk.4 Sonnymoon For Two
tk.7 He's A Real Gone Guy
tk.11 Seepin'
tk.12 Grant's First Stand

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 27, 1961
Sonny Clark, piano; Grant Green, guitar; Butch Warren, bass; Billy Higgins, drums.

tk.4 Woody'n You (take 4)
tk.7 Woody'n You (take 7)

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 26, 1960
Wynton Kelly, piano; Grant Green, guitar; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums.

A Night In Tunisia rejected
Jordu rejected

Session Photos

Photos: Francis Wolff/Mosaic Images /

Track Listing

TitleAuthorRecording Date
He's A Real Gone GuyNellie LutcherNovember 16 1960
Seepin'Grant GreenNovember 16 1960
Just FriendsJ. Klenner, S. LewisNovember 16 1960
Grant's First StandGrant GreenNovember 16 1960
Sonnymoon For TwoSonny RollinsNovember 16 1960
Woody 'N' You (Take 4)Dizzy GillespieOctober 27 1961
Woody 'N' You (Take 7)Dizzy GillespieOctober 27 1961

Liner Notes

GRANT GREEN'S music was beautiful and his soul and spirit emanated from each note he played. Initially hailed by critics and fans alike, his contribution to the jazz language was eventually forgotten until many years after his death in 1979. Robert Levin described Green as being in the lineage of Charlie Christian and Eddie Lang, who were from the "single-string school," which could be interpreted as a horn-like approach to soloing. When Grant Green was developing as a guitarist, he absorbed much of the jazz tradition in his hometown of St. Louis. He had remarked to Mr. Levin in the notes to his debut release on Blue Note (Grant's First Stand) that "l don't listen to guitar players much — just horn players. I used to sit up all night copying Charlie Parker solos note for note." Grant had already apprenticed in rhythm and blues groups in the Midwest as well as the groups of Jimmy Forrest and Sam Lazar when he caught the ear of a touring Lou Donaldson.

It was at Donaldson's recommendation that Grant was signed to Blue Note Records. Alfred Lion went into the studio with Grant on November 16, 1960 to record what would have been Grant's Blue Note debut. Lion surrounded Grant with the best rhythm section of the day — musicians associated with Miles Davis (who had a tremendous admiration for Grant and had the most popular small group in jazz at the time). Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers were in the current Davis band and Philly Joe Jones was a recent alumnus. However, the results of this day were not released at the time. Clearly, the date was not as strong as most Blue Note sessions of the period. This same rhythm section had participated in Hank Mobley's magnificent Roll Call date five days earlier and perhaps Lion had hoped that the same magic would emerge on Grant's debut session.

Nellie Lutcher's "He's A Real Gone Guy" is the one performance that Lion thought was completely successful. It is a blues and Grant starts swinging hard. Philly Joe kicks into a shuffle (a style he learned from his days working with the Joe Morris band in the late forties) midway into Grant's solo. Kelly follows Grant with another of his patented 'good feeling' solos, which could lift the dark clouds off of a rainy day. After Kelly's solo ends, there is a little uncertainty, but the band falls back into the groove in just a few beats. Grant plays an out-chorus solo leading back into the melody (as Jones drive it home with his patented shuffle beat). The band swings out with a shout chorus tag and an almost Red Garland-type ending.

"Seepin"' is a slow blues that is the perfect kind of gravy song for Grant. He digs deep into the blues with a late night, smoky club groove. This was the kind of tempo that separated the men from the boys! Jones doubles the tempo in the middle of Grant's solo, which allows the guitarist to extend his melodic conception into a more boppish groove. Kelly turns the blues into a pretty woman by using major and suspended dominant fourth chords instead of the dominant seventh chords usually associated with the blues. Chambers get his turn to sing the blues with a beautifully melodic solo, then Grant returns for one more drink of the blues as Philly Joe goes to the sticks and the song climaxes to a typical blues ending. At just under 12 minutes, it is a wonderful compliment to Grant's understanding of the blues and Lion's desire to capture the essence of Grant.

"Just Friends" reveals how uneasy Grant was in his recording debut as a leader. His notes are not as smooth and he seems nervous. The intensity of the rhythm section was in many ways opposite to the natural setting that Grant had come up in, i.e., the organ group. After a first try at "Just Friends," the band kicked off the master at a brighter tempo. Grant still seemed uncertain. But the band swings hard and the Kelly-Chambers-Jones team is splendid. This rhythm section created a happy, buoyant groove that Grant had yet to get used to.

"Grant's First Stand" was rerecorded on Grant's official recording debut (Grant's First Stand), but it is interesting to hear the difference between this initial recording and the second version. The form is a standard minor blues and you can hear Grant echoing his patented blues lines as well as making a reference to Bizet's Carmen (an oft used "quote"). There is some nice interplay between Grant and Kelly at the end of Grant's first solo section. Jones drops his dynamic and explosive snare hits during Kelly's solo as only Jones can do and Chambers plays (as usual) a well-proportioned solo. Grant and Jones get into a little interplay on the second guitar solo (this is a common format used by Grant in most of his recordings).

"Sonnymoon For Two" kicks off into a great blues - four feel and finds Grant in his element. His solo contains the elements that were to be found in his recordings from this point on; a strict regard to the blues scale, the use of motifs around that scale, the repetition of a phrase (sometimes transposed to allow for a harmonic variation) and a strong sense of swing and economy. Grant already knew how to make everything he played personal. Kelly provides some responsive comping and Philly Joe's explosive drumming adds to the intensity of this performance.

Lion shelved this recording session and waited until January 1961 to record Grant again; a span of seven days when Lou Donaldson's Here 'Tis, Grant's Grant's First Stand and Baby Face Willette's Face To Face would all be recorded with the Green-Willette-Ben Dixon rhythm section. Grant would then become the house guitarist for Blue Note for the next four years, recording with Stanley Turrentine, Hank Mobley, Horace Parlan, Ike Quebec, Dodo Greene, Don Wilkerson, Jimmy Smith, John Patton, Herbie Hancock, Harold Vick, George Braith, Lee Morgan, Larry Young and Donald Byrd. He was the guitarist of choice if you wanted something that had soul and feeling, and his contributions to those sessions are remarkable.

Grant had an uncanny rapport with the pianist Sonny Clark. They recorded six sessions together (most under Grant's leadership) and Lion knew that he had a good team when they recorded together. Clark was another musician who died young and fell into obscurity until the mid-seventies when Japan rediscovered him and critics started listening to him again. "Woody 'N' You" is all that came out of the October 27, 1961 session by Grant with Clark, Butch Warren and Billy Higgins. They also attempted, but never completed, a version of Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird" before the rest of the session was called off. The performances are a little loose but when the band gets swinging the groove won't stop.

Grant recorded for Blue Note until 1966. After that, he went into semi-retirement until 1969 when he reemerged as a leader for Blue Note. He began performing more funk and rhythm and blues material/ and soon he was absorbed into the inner-city music circuit.

John Scofield remembers that as a young student at Berklee in the early seventies, "Grant was almost completely unknown. At that time speed was everything and the main guys on guitar were George Benson, Pat Martino, Tal Farlow and John McLaughlin. Grant played everything as if it were slowed down. It was only later that I realized that he swung hard. I saw him at Connelley's in Boston with an organ group and it was mostly funk. He was playing the 'chitlin' circuit' and most musicians didn't pay much attention to that scene. The first recording of him that I heard was Larry Young's Info Somethin' and one of my favorites was Lee Morgan's Search For The New Land. He had unstoppable swing."

But by the end of the eighties, there was a resurgence in Grant Green's jazz output. The acid jazz movement of the early nineties pushed Grant's funk catalog into the forefront of popular culture (Us3 used the introduction to Grant's version of "Sookie, Sookie" on one of their hit albums for Blue Note) and soon everybody was digging Grant. Now there are countless guitarists who are deeply influenced by Grant and his music is being reevaluated as never before. This CD marks the beginning of a great musician's journey.



 Ike Quebec - From Hackensack to Englewood Cliffs

Released - 26 January 2000

Recording and Session Information

Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, July 1, 1959
Ike Quebec, tenor sax; Edwin Swanston, organ; Skeeter Best, guitar; Sonny Wellesley, bass; Les Jenkins, drums.

tk.1 A Light Reprieve
tk.6 Blue Friday
tk.10 Zonky
tk.11 Blue Monday
tk.14 The Buzzard Lope
tk.16 Later For The Rock
tk.22 Sweet And Lovely
tk.23 Dear John

Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, July 20, 1959
Ike Quebec, tenor sax; Edwin Swanston, organ; Skeeter Best, guitar; Sonny Wellesley, bass; Les Jenkins, drums.

tk.8 Uptight
tk.12 Cry Me A River
Latin Strain (incomplete)

See Also: Hackensack to Englewood

Session Photos

Photos: Francis Wolff/Mosaic Images /

Track Listing

TitleAuthorRecording Date
A Light ReprieveIke Quebec01 July 1959
Buzzard LopeIke Quebec01 July 1959
Blue MondaySharp, Singleton, Fisher01 July 1959
ZonkyEdwin Swanston01 July 1959
Later For The RockIke Quebec01 July 1959
Sweet And LovelyArnheim, Tobias, Lemare01 July 1959
Dear JohnIke Quebec01 July 1959
Blue FridayEdwin Swanston01 July 1959
Cry Me A RiverArthur Hamilton20 July 1959
UptightIke Quebec20 July 1959

Liner Notes


Ike's session mates on this date were some of the best musicians working the Harlem nightclub scene at the time, and one of them, the late Clifford "Skeeter" Best, was a guitarist of the highest caliber, having made many historic sessions, most notably a 1956 date with tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson and bassist Oscar Pettiford (for ABC-Paramount). While the rest of the rhythm section (Sonny Wellesley & Les Jenkins) are not that well known, they certainly acquit themselves well.

A LIGHT REPRIEVE introduces us not only to Ike Quebec, but also to the unique recording skills of Rudy Van Gelder, who has justly received much of the credit for the incredible "Blue Note Sound" which enhances all the music heard here. This is a swinging blues at a perfect tempo for the band to show off their elegant way with the beat. After the melody, Ike plays a short solo to get things moving before turning it over to Best, who makes the most out of the basic changes used on this blues. Notice the way the rhythm section shifts gears when the organ solo (by Edwin Swanston) starts - not only is there a change in texture, due to drummer Les Jenkins' taste in cymbals, but bassist Charles "Sonny" Wellesley plays a new bass line to change the mood a little. These are the kind of subtle variations that only the best musicians of any genre utilize. It happens again when Quebec returns for his second solo with a beautifully realized glissando. The chord instruments, (the organ and guitar) lay out, while the bass and drums 'stroll'; one of Ike's earliest solos, SWEET GEORGIA BROWN done while he was in Roy Eldridge's band in 1943, makes use of this same device. Quebec makes the most of it, and then we are on the way home again.

BUZZARD LOPE is a blues, slower than A LIGHT REPRIEVE, and with it's own character. Ike's solo here demonstates the tremendous control he had on the tenor saxophone, and also his great way with telling a story.' The double-time passages are played masterfully, and a good deal of the horn is used to it's best advantage. Bassist Wellesley must have been a Basie fan, for he uses some of Walter Page's devices here. I cant imagine a better accompaniment to Quebec's second solo than the one given here; it's simplicity gives the rhythm section a solid foundation on which to build.

BLUE MONDAY is a minor ballad - Monday must not have been too good - has anyone ever done this along with GLOOMY SUNDAY? Remember that these sides were being produced for issue on 45 - so they couldn't go much longer than six minutes. There are evocative solos by Swanston on the organ, and Best after which Ike returns. This tune really seems appropriate for the intended market of bars and taverns that had jukeboxes back in the late fifties-early sixties.

ZONKY is not Fats Waller's tune from the late 20's, but organist Edwin Swanston's imaginative blues original with some nice breaks included in it. With a nifty root-dominant bass figure behind him, Quebec conjures up some blues licks dating back at least as far as King Oliver (here SNAG IT) up to the 1950's Basie band (hear EVERY DAY). For anyone who has spent some time in Harlem's organ joints, the organ solo with entirely appropriate and unique rhythm background will bring those nights right back. Ike gets into some real 'talking' during the shout choruses - if this doesn't make you feel like dancing, nothing will.

LATER FOR THE ROCK makes a nice companion to A LIGHT REPRIEVE in that both are medium blues with plenty of free room and time for the musicians to blow in. The influence of Lester Young is heard during Quebec's solo - something not to be heard in his Blue Note sessions from the '40s. He seems to have matured and relaxed in the intervening years, and we'll hear more of this laid back side of Ike's style in the subsequent sessions - especially the one with Sir Charles Thompson (September 25. 1960).

There is no doubt that one of Quebec's strongest points was his unique ballad style. It can be heard on his master-piece, IF I HAD YOU on the aforementioned 1940's Blue Note sessions. This version of SWEET AND LOVELY marks another evolution in his approach to ballads. His tone is smoother at the beginning, more elastic than before, while just as intense. During his last bridge, Ike increases the intensity a bit, and then returns to a more reflective mood for the beautiful coda. It is also worth mentioning once again the tremendous admiration Quebec must have had for Herschel Evans - you can hear a piece of it here.

If you think you've heard DEAR JOHN before, you're quite right. It's a faster and extended version of LATER FOR THE ROCK. It would be instructive to patch together Ike's solos from both versions to get into the mind of a master improvisor. The material itself is not the most challenging harmonically or melodically - its the blues, and the success of the solo is left entirely to the players imagination, swing and feeling. The way that Quebec shuffles these various elements around is truly masterful. The tenor solo following the organ solo is one of the session's highlights. This time it is Ben Webster who is thought of by Ike - and once again, Quebec integrates the allusion masterfully into the story at hand.

The third, fourth and fifth choruses are especially thrilling; this is a realm of music that cannot be notated, taught or replicated by some electronic device. Miles Davis's WALKIN' riff is used effectively for the out choruses.

BLUE FRIDAY is organist Swanston's tune - and the band does as much as they can With it. This features the sound Ike exploited earlier in his career, and in contrast to his more relaxed playing on the session is quite effective.

Michael Cuscuna

CD Session Notes

Ike Quebec returned to Blue Note and his old friend Alfred Lion in 1958 as an A&R man and informal music director for the label. He'd hardly recorded in the fifties (just some singles sessions for Hi-Lo and Seeco in 1952 and '53). Apparently by July I, 1959, he felt ready and cut the session of 8 tunes that begin this CD for intended 45 single releases. "Blue Monday"/"Dear John" (45-1748) and "Blue Friday"/"Buzzard Lope" (45-1749) were issued and met with great response. In 1960, Ike did another singles session and recorded with Jimmy Smith and Sonny Clark. His confidence renewed and his artistic powers better than ever, he recorded prolifically for the label for twelve months beginning in November, 1961 before the cancer in his body made it impossible to play. He died on January 16, 1963.

Fittingly it was Ike's sessions that closed the Hackensack chapter of the Van Gelder Studio and opened the Englewood Cliffs chapter for Blue Note. The two tunes recorded on July 20 were probably more of an experimental session for Lion, Francis Wolff and Ike to get accustomed to Rudy Van Gelder's new studio. The change was considerable. The Hackensack studio centered around the living room of Rudy's parents home. The Englewood Cliffs facility was a spacious studio with walls of custom-made masonry blocks and a high, wooden cathedral ceiling, specifically designed by Van Gelder for recording.

The difference in sound is immediately evident. The new facility sounds cavernous by comparison. The sound on this first Englewood Cliffs session was refined considerably in the months that followed. Unlike the July 1 session, which featured shorter tunes for single release, Ike stretches out on two loosely performed tunes on the July 20 date and stops the session before they can even get a full take on a third tune "Latin Strain".

These two tunes are hardly the greatest Quebec ever committed to tape, but they help paint an aural bridge between the Van Gelder studios. And after all, Ike and Rudy were two of the most important contributors to the legacy of this great label.

Michael Cuscuna 1999