129

Pee Wee Russell: Ask Me Now!

Joel Roberts By

Sign in to view read count
Pee Wee Russell: Ask Me Now! Who says you can't teach an old dog—or an old clarinetist—new tricks? Approaching his 60th birthday in the early '60s, Pee Wee Russell, long associated with Dixieland and traditional jazz, formed a new pianoless quartet with trombonist Marshall Brown and started exploring the more modern sounds of Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and even Ornette Coleman.

The finest fruit of that collaboration was Ask Me Now!, an exceptional 1963 session for Impulse! that seamlessly mixes the old with the new, and certainly makes the case for Russell as a progressive—and the bigger case that great artists can often transcend genres and stereotypes.

Russell is at his best on ballads, including two by Monk (the title tune and "Hackensack"), for whom he shows a real affinity. On Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss," Russell's lyricism and wonderfully expressive, sometimes breathy tone evoke a clarinet version of Johnny Hodges or even Ben Webster. He also tackles an up-tempo Coltrane blues and, most impressively, takes on Ornette Coleman's "Turnaround," which he harmonizes and renders as a fairly straight-ahead blues romp.

Marshall Brown, Russell's chief compadre and an inspiration in the leader's modernist move, is showcased on the gorgeous chestnut "Angel Eyes." The mood throughout is relaxed, patient, even languorous, as Russell, the veteran who'd jammed as a kid with Bix Beiderbecke and spent 30 years with Eddie Condon, shows himself undaunted by the '60s radicals. A brave and bravura performance.

.


Track Listing: 1. Turnaround - 4:14 2. How About Me? - 4:16 3. Ask Me Now! - 2:30 4. Some Other Blues - 3:16 5. I'd Climb the Highest Mountain - 3:26 6. Licorice Stick - 3:36 7. Prelude to a Kiss - 2:41 8. Baby, You Can Count on Me - 5:01 9. Hackensack - 3:37 10. Angel Eyes - 2:51 11. Calypso Walk - 2:34

Personnel: Pee Wee Russell - Clarinet, Ronnie Bedford - Drums, Marshall Brown - Valve Trombone, Bass Trumpet; Russell George - Bass.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Impulse! | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Got A Mind to Give Up Living: Live 1966" CD/LP/Track Review Got A Mind to Give Up Living: Live 1966
by Doug Collette
Published: June 11, 2016
Read "In Tokyo, Japan" CD/LP/Track Review In Tokyo, Japan
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 16, 2016
Read "Spark" CD/LP/Track Review Spark
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 1, 2016
Read "Live 1978 at The Old Waldorf" CD/LP/Track Review Live 1978 at The Old Waldorf
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 5, 2016
Read "Trio Miami" CD/LP/Track Review Trio Miami
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!