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Extended Analysis

Mosaic Select 6: John Patton

By Published: July 24, 2004

Recently passing away without much fanfare, John Patton deserved better owing to his considerable talents.

John Patton
Mosaic Select 6
Mosaic

The great thing about Mosaic's new Select series of reissues is that they are small enough to accommodate a variety of concepts that might not otherwise make sense within the context of the label's full-size sets. While those boxes represent complete outputs of certain artists and/or labels, these smaller sets can get at certain neglected niches without necessarily worrying about being exhaustive.

The foregoing will hopefully put into perspective this collection of Blue Note recordings by John Patton. It in no way proposes to be a complete or definitive set of his sides for the label, just an offering of what producer Michael Cuscuna considers five of the organist's finest works for the label. Furthermore, Patton's first three Blue Notes are heard here in chronological order and they pack a heavy punch as compared to the other soul jazz fare that was being put out at the time by a host of other independent jazz labels.

1963's Along Came John , the only album in the present set currently available elsewhere on CD, starts out strong with two tenor saxophonists on the front line, namely Fred Jackson and Harold Vick. Filling things out would be two frequent Patton collaborators- guitarist Grant Green and drummer Ben Dixon. Funky blues numbers are the fodder for some great solo spots from all and one has to consider it a daring move on producer Alfred Lion's part to have a debut record include mainly original material. Patton is not interested in any kind of grandstanding and that is what has always made his work so pleasing. He finds new ways and sounds to put on top of largely blues-based structures and avoids imitating the more overt clich's of Jimmy Smith.

For The Way I Feel , Jackson is back again on the front line, this time around standing alongside the neglected trumpeter Richard Williams. Green and Dixon lock in tight again with Patton who contributes an entire program of his sagacious originals. The range of material is varied and variegated, from the blues-drenched title track to the ballad feel of "Davene." It's another strong set of pieces and the Patton/Green/Dixon alliance that makes Oh Baby! the success that it is, the front line switch up this time putting Blue Mitchell and Harold Vick on board. It would be hard to pick out individual tunes because everything here is strong, but "Night Flight" would have to be a personal favorite with its stop and go punctuations proving especially tasty.

Following the initial three Patton Blue Notes, this set jumps ahead to 1968's That Certain Feeling , a sadly neglected article from the Patton discography that inexplicably has never made it to CD until now. It's a shame because this sleeper might arguably be one of Patton's best (the other contender, Got a Good Thing Going , is unfortunately not included here) due to the strong work of tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, guitarist Jimmy Ponder, and drummer Clifford Jarvis. By this time, Patton's creative muse and composing was on a level so high that many at the time were just not hearing what he was doing having been so fully indoctrinated in the 'grits and gravy' variety of organ music.

His most avant-garde set, Understanding borders on the more adventurous approach that Larry Young was fostering at around the same time in his own series of unique Blue Note sides. Working in a trio format, Patton would find in drummer Hugh Walker a polyrhythmic powerhouse who was capable of stirring things up quite a bit. As for saxophonist and flute man Harold Alexander, even standard soul fare items such as "Soul Man" and "Chitlins Con Carne" include potent doses of fire blowing of the "sheets of sound" variety. Think of an organ combo dipping into Coltrane's modus operandi on such albums as "A Love Supreme" and "Transition" and you'll get the picture.

Recently passing away without much fanfare, John Patton deserved better owing to his considerable talents. He was every bit as important an innovator as Larry Young and his Blue Note legacy is still ripe for exploring by a whole new generation of listeners.

Track listing:

DISC ONE 1. The Silver Meter (A) 5:39 (Ben Dixon) 2. I'll Never Be Free (A) 5:00 (G.D. Weiss-B. Benjamin) 3. Spiffy Diffy (A) 6:00 (Ben Dixon) 4. Along Came John (A) 6:00 (John Patton) 5. Gee Gee (A) 5:59 (John Patton) 6. Pig Foots (A) 5:42 (Ben Dixon) 7. The Rock (B) 7:24 (John Patton) 8. The Way I Feel (B) 8:29 (John Patton) 9. Jerry (B) 6:41 (John Patton) 10. Davene (B) 7:20 (John Patton) 11. Just ' (B) 6:47 (John Patton)

DISC TWO 1. Fat Judy (C) 7:40 (Ben Dixon) 2. Oh Baby (C) 6:17 (John Patton) 3. Each Time (C) 5:39 (John Patton) 4. One To Twelve (C) 7:51 (John Patton) 5. Night Flight (C) 6:34 (Harold Vick) 6. Good Juice (C) 6:32 (John Patton) 7. String Bean (D) 5:51 (John Patton) 8. I Want To Go Home (D) 8:30 (John Patton) 9. Early A.M. (D) 7:17 (John Patton)

DISC THREE 1. Dirty Fingers (D) 6:07 (John Patton) 2. Minor Swing (D) 6:32 (John Patton) 3. Daddy James (D) 6:36 (Jimmy Watson) 4. Ding Dong (E) 5:28 (Harold Alexander) 5. Congo Chant (E) 9:05 (John Patton) 6. Alfie's Theme (E) 4:40 (Sonny Rollins) 7. Soul Man (E) 6:13 (D. Porter-I. Hayes) 8. Understanding (E) 6:52 (M. Nash-S. Gary) 9. Chitlins Con Carne (E) 6:30 (Kenny Burrell)

Personnel: Big John Patton (organ) with Harold Vick, Richard Williams, Grant Green, Ben Dixon, Harold Alexander, Hugh Walker, and others.



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