Corky McClerkin: The Power of One
On this his second album and first for the Southport label, Chicago pianist, Corky McClerkin, runs through a program comprised entirely of his compositions. They combine the best of soul jazz and hard bop, reflecting the 1960's era when McClerkin was cutting his musical teeth. McClerkin is joined on the set by a variety of Chicago musicians, none of whom are on all the cuts. Artie Duke Payne shows up with his sax on three cuts, hard driving on the title tune, softer on McClerkin's eight minute tribute to his mentor Von Freeman, "A Man Called Von". He picks up the soprano for "Maori Winds", a tune garnished with Afro-Cuban rhythms. Kevin McIlvaine delivers a powerful vocal on "The Power of One" and singer Theresa Davis contributes a couple of vocals, being especially effective on "Love Supreme". This is McClerkin's, not John Coltrane's closely titled composition, "A Love Supreme", although there is a similarity in intensity. This is a tune Abbey Lincoln would be very comfortable doing, as is Davis.
But this is McClerkin's show. He established that not only as the composer and arranger of the material on the album, but also with his pianistic skills and techniques, which he forcefully asserts throughout the session. Irrespective of style or tempo, hard bop, Latin or soul jazz, McClerkin brings his many years of experience into play as he crafts each tune making a special and distinctive statement with each. On a lovely, pensive ballad. "Japanese Sandman" - - again not the 1920 pop tune made famous by Nora Bayes - - McClerkin's plaintive, melodious ideas, with just a hint of the Orient, are interrupted occasionally by jagged punctuating chords making this a compelling track of music. Then there's some straight out swing on "Master U" where the drumming of Curtis Prince plays a prominent role. The Power of One is an engaging hour of bop, impressionistic and soul inflected music and is recommended.
Track Listing: The Power of One; Gutbucket; Maori Winds; Peanuthead I; Peanuthead II; Love Supreme-Prelude; Love Supreme; A Man Called Von; Japanese Sandman; Master U
Personnel: Corky McClerkin - Piano; Theresa Davis, Kevin McIlvaine - Vocals; Thomas Kini, John Whitfield - Bass; Pennington McGee - Percussion; Artie (Duke) Payne - Tenor & Soprano Sax; Curtis Prince - Drums