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Ike Quebec: The Complete Blue Note 45 Sessions (2005)

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Ike Quebec: The Complete Blue Note 45 Sessions How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

It's hard enough finding any sort of jukebox in a bar these days, and as for one with some jazz on it, you can forget it, at least here in Inglan. But there was a time, in inner city US neighbourhood bars anyway, when both things were commonplace. The last gasp was the early '60s, when hard bop was still kicking and rock and soul had yet to knock it sideways.

The 26 good-time—but, as you'd expect from a class act like Ike Quebec, intelligent and creative—tracks collected here were recorded in four sessions between '59 and '62. Their primary purpose was to boost Blue Note's market profile, not promote retail sales of singles: an averagely successful Blue Note 45 rpm of the early '60s only shifted around four thousand units, of which three thousand typically went to jukebox operators.

As '58 drew to a close, Alfred Lion was still trying to crack the jukebox market—he'd had limited success with a Bill Henderson/Horace Silver coupling, but that's all—while Quebec was scuffling well beneath the radar and hadn't recorded anything at all for over five years. So he wasn't the likeliest candidate to put the label on the jukebox map. But Lion remembered Quebec's iconic 78 rpm single, "Blue Harlem," from '44 and flashed that maybe the big-toned, swing-to-bop tenor man could conjure the same short-order magic again.

And boy, could he. Working in the then vogueish tenor 'n' organ context, Quebec came up with these gorgeously lyrical soul-jazz nuggets, a mix of standards—some big beat, some vulnerable—and bluesy originals. The average playing time is between four and five minutes, and the mostly two or three-chorus tenor solos are little masterpieces which stand head and shoulders alongside Quebec's more celebrated album tracks.

Bob Weinstock of Prestige famously said that the fourth best way to promote jazz records was via jukeboxes (the other three were "radio, radio, and radio"). But these sides—first compiled on a Mosaic set in '88, and here on Blue Note's Connoisseur imprint—worked well for Quebec, who went on to make a series of wonderful albums for Blue Note in '61 and '62, before dying tragically young in '63. So close your eyes, open your ears, find a leather porkpie hat, and do the time-warp shuffle.

Track Listing: CD 1: A Light Reprieve; Buzzard Lope; Blue Monday; Zonky; Later For The Rock; Sweet And Lovely; Dear John; Blue Friday; Everything Happens To Me (short version); Mardi Gras; What A Diff'rence A Day Makes; For All We Know; Ill Wind. CD 2: If I Could Be With You; I've Got The World On A String; Me 'N' Mabe; Everything Happens To Me (long version); All Of Me; Intermezzo; But Not For Me; All The Way; How Long Has This Been Going On; With A Song In My Heart; Imagination; What Is There To Say; There Is No Greater Love.

Personnel: Ike Quebec: tenor saxophone; Edwin Swanston, Sir Charles Thompson, Earl Van Dyke: organ; Skeeter Best, Willie Jones: guitar; Milt Hinton, Sam Jones, Sonny Wellesley: bass; J.C.Heard, Wilbert Hogan, Les Jenkins: drums.

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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