The saying that location is everything holds true in the realm of jazz music as well. Many a talented musician has not gotten the recognition and acclaim they deserved because the path they chose did not pass through the hot beds of jazz, especially New York. This is definitely true for those who spent their careers on the West Coast as well as such luminaries as Don Byas and Lucky Thompson, who relocated to Europe.
Trombonist Lou Blackburn did both. His recorded legacy as a leader consists of two records on the now-defunct Imperial label, both from 1963. Until recently these were not readily available, but earlier this year Blue Note reissued both records on one CD as part of its Connoisseur series, with one additional previously unreleased track. The sound on this reissue is crystal-clear and the remastering meets the high quality standards one has come to expect from Blue Note. The liner notes are also highly informative.
The music consists primarily of short, standard fare, hard bop and bebop pieces with an occasional Latin tinge. The longest track clocks in just under six minutes. What makes them unique are the fluid and innovative improvised solos of the leader on the trombone, and Horace Tapscott on the piano. This is Tapscott's first appearance on record, and the early signs of his genius are already showing in his playing. The other sidemen are talented musicians as well. The bass and drums provide solid rhythmic anchors, and the trumpet is a capable complement to the leader's own horn. This compatibility between the two makes their trading of choruses an exciting and an enjoyable listen.
The tunes on this 80-minute CD may not be all that memorable, but the musicianship of all the players involvedplus the innovative style of the leader and Horace Tapscottelevate it above just a mere curiosity to make it a worthwhile and enjoyable release.
Personnel: Lou Blackburn: trombone; Freddie Hill: trumpet; Horace Tapscott: piano; John Duke: bass;
Leroy Henderson: drums.