Eric Allison: After Hours
Remember Bob Weinstock? He ran Prestige Records in the 1950's and 1960's: Home of Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk (before an acrimonious parting of the ways), Eric Dolphy, and all the rest. Bob Weinstock, along with Orrin Keepnews at Riverside and Alfred Lion at Blue Note, brought modern jazz to the world. Now he's living in South Florida, and Prestige (along with Riverside, Milestone, Contemporary, and who knows what else) is just another great Fifties jazz label owned and operated by Fantasy Inc. of Berkeley, California. But this disc shows that some things haven't changed: Weinstock still has a good eye for talent and a taste for straight-ahead jazz that owes its impeccable execution to the nightly club labors of the performers.
The performers in this case are Eric Alison on tenor (mostly) and alto saxophones, as well as flute and clarinet; John Bailey on trumpet; Jesse Jones, Jr. on alto; Turk Mauro on baritone; the one and only Dr. Lonnie Smith on piano, and two tracks on organ; Dennis Marks on bass; and Danny Burger on drums. The music is club music: R&B-tinged jazz grooves, uniformly up-tempo and high-spirited.
But this is not your average club band: the presence of Dr. Smith, of course, makes sure that the grooves will be of classic depth and power. Reedman Allison, who wrote nine of the ten tracks, is dependable and cheery, with debts of gratitude to Mssrs. Rollins and Coltrane. John Bailey on trumpet will make you wonder if Lee Morgan is really dead. Every one of his solos stakes out the high glorious ground Morgan made his own in the Sixties, and Bailey sounds just as energetic. In fact, "Double Shot" sounds like a lost out-take from one of those festive Morgan/McLean albums on Blue Note (especially the smashing, underrated, unreleased-on-CD-except-from-Mosaic Consequences.) It's got all the ingredients: a bright and flawlessly-executed reed-and-brass unison line with a slight Latin tinge. It's 1965 all over again!
Good, solid party music with something more from Bailey. Weinstock, thirty years later, has done it again. The question is, in the Fifties he used to turn these out practically every week. I'll be looking forward to next week's entry.
Tracks:Midnight Groove; After Hours; Double Shot; 'Round About Dawn; Sittin' In; No Cover; Tip-Toein'; Straight Up; Deanna; Delta Joy.
Record Label: Contemporary