Phil Upchurch: Feeling Blue (1967)
Half of the selections feature a high octane horn section where Upchurch no doubt felt right at home, and the R&B leanings of “Feeling Blue” and “Muscle Soul” give the guitarist plenty of opportunities to exercise his chops, cleanly executed and tasteful at any speed. But when the group approaches jazz standards and pop tunes they fall prey to the over-orchestration that marred Wes Montgomery’s later releases. “Tangerine,” for instance, is too muscular, and “Up, Up, and Away” sounds horribly dated today.
If the entire session featured this approach, then the album as a whole would be clearly sub par. However, the real treats are the quintet tracks, in which Upchurch is the sole lead instrument and is backed by a crack rhythm section. The handful of jazz standards and originals showcase his skill with single note and chord-based solos. The guitarist makes serviceable material out of “Corcovado” and “I Want A Little Girl” but turns in two truly great performances with a heavily swinging “Israel” and a bluesy “Sabaceous Lament” that display a formidable soloist with a bit of edge and plenty of tasty licks. Released for the first time on CD, Feeling Blue is a great jazz guitar record that, while flawed, displays a musician of considerable talent.
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Track Listing: 1. Felling Blue 2. Stop and Listen 3. Corcovado 4. Really Sincere 5. Tangerine 6. Up, Up, and Away 7. Israel 8. Sabaceous Lament 9. Muscle Soul 10. I Want A Little Girl.
Personnel: On 3, 4, 7, 8, 10: Phil Upchurch - guitar; Wynton Kelly - piano; Richard Davis - bass; Jimmy Cobb - drums; Montego Joe - congas. Other selections: Phil Upchurch - guitar; Wallace Davenport - trumpet; Ed Pazant, John Gilmore, Pat Patricl - reeds; Al Williams - piano, celeste; Chuck Rainey - electric bass; Bernard Purdie - drums; Warren Smith - congas, vibraharp.
Record Label: Fantasy Jazz