Unbeknownst to many, Bobby Timmons was much more than the heavy funk hitman his compositions and playing made him out to be during his lengthy tenure with Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. His memorable tunes such as “Moanin’” and ‘Dat Dere” were so infectiously soulful that many among the jazz listening public simply assumed finely crafted groove music was the width and breadth of his muse. Contrary to these contentions Timmons’ talents and interests regularly moved outside this style and he used the string of albums he recorded for Riverside during the 60s as a frequent vehicle to escape his limiting, if enviable, typecast.
The material on this particular disc, recorded in close proximity to Riverside’s demise as a label, languished in the vaults for several years before finally being issued in 1970. The session features Timmons in excellent form. Demonstrating his desire to highlight myriad musical skills and tastes he alternates between piano, vibes and organ on a diverse array of standards. Thrown in for good measure as a nod to his earlier years as one of the hard bop kingpins are a pair of originals- one familiar, one obscure. The standards run the gamut between old show tunes and bossa nova numbers. Timmon’s “Moanin” is given an uncommon, but effective organ combo treatment and the opening “From the Bottom,” the second original, is in a similar gospel-grounded groove, featuring a hip-shaking bass solo from Jones.
Timmons work on the vibes and behind the organ are interesting side notes, but it’s his piano stylings that demands attention. His beautiful playing on the solo “Medley” piece offers all the proof necessary that his technique went far beyond simple, finger-popping funk tunes. Jones and Cobb are, as always, a reliable rhythmic pair and seem intent on giving Timmons the kind of supportive accompaniment he so richly deserves. The disc weighs in a little light on running time, but the music included precludes this minor drawback as a reason to pass this session up. Those who value Timmons’ more famous work with the Messengers will find a similar level of enjoyment with the music on this timely reissue.