Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

171

Harold Mabern: A Few Miles From Memphis

By

Sign in to view read count
The relative dearth of dates as a leader by pianist Harold Mabern is an enigma—one made even more puzzling by the quality of this disc, a reissue of his first two records. Mabern was already in his 30s, possessing a well developed style, when he recorded these albums in 1968, and thanks to his considerable abilities as a composer and arranger, the tunes are superior to most of those heard on the many Prestige blowing sessions of this era. The first date, from which the disc takes it title, is a two-tenor outing with George Coleman and Buddy Terry up front and Bill Lee (bass) with Walter Perkins (drums) in the rhythm section.

Although half of the program is comprised of somewhat simple soulful blues like the title track, "Walkin' Back, and "Syden Blues, Mabern's harmonic acumen and keen use of the saxophonists' contrasting sounds imparts a satisfying variety and discernible depth to the music. Additionally, the superbly swinging bossa nova "A Treat For Bea and mournful ballad "B & B (for Booker Little and Clifford Brown) are exceptionally beautiful compositions, both worthy of reexamination. And Mabern's arrangement of "There's A Kind Of Hush is a model of melodicism that overcomes the triteness of Herman's Hermits' Top 40 hit.

The disc's second session, originally issued as Rakin' and Scrapin', is a hard bopping quintet date on which the brilliant trumpeter Blue Mitchell shares the front line with Coleman and the excellent drummer Hugh Walker joins Lee in the backcourt. Mabern's original title track is a funky gospel blues in long meter on which Mitchell soars and Coleman digs in, before Mabern spreads out with both hands flying. "Such Is Life, another superbly lyrical Mabern ballad sprinkled with some unusual piano flourishes, is followed by "Aon, a Spanish-tinged burner by the leader in the Horace Silver tradition.

Mabern's arrangement of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine, an obvious attempt at commercial appeal, is somewhat dated by Walker's repetitive dance rhythm but does feature some appealing electric piano. The concluding "Valerie is a piano trio feature with Mabern demonstrating his virtuoso technique and signature commanding parallel octave playing, before engaging in a series of exciting exchanges with Walker.


Track Listing: A Few Miles from Memphis; Walkin' Back; A Treat for Bea; Syden Blue; There's Kind of Hush; B&B; To Wane; Rakin' and Scrapin'; Such Is Life; Aon; I Heard It Through the Grapevine; Valerie.

Personnel: Harold Mabern: piano (1-10,12), electric piano (11); George Coleman: tenor saxophone; Buddy Terry: tenor saxophone (1-7); Blue Mitchell: trumpet (8-12); Bill Lee: bass; Walter Perkins: drums (1-7); Hugh Walker: drums (8-12).

Title: A Few Miles From Memphis | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Prestige Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read The Influencing Machine CD/LP/Track Review The Influencing Machine
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "Originals For the Originals" CD/LP/Track Review Originals For the Originals
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "In All My Holy Mountain" CD/LP/Track Review In All My Holy Mountain
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Unloved" CD/LP/Track Review Unloved
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 23, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Incidentals" CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 29, 2017
Read "Nigerian Spirit" CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017