All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

7

Sonny Clark: Dial "S" For Sonny

Greg Simmons By

Sign in to view read count
Original copies of Blue Note 1570—Dial "S" For Sonny—are among the rarer Blue Note records, often changing hands for thousands of dollars for even a mediocre copy. That's an awful lot of scratch for a fifty-six year old piece of pressed vinyl and a cardboard sleeve. Fortunately, there are better ways to hear pianist Sonny Clark's debut recording for the fabled label. The Music Matters series of two-disk, 45 rpm vinyl records is winding down after close to one hundred titles, and Dial "S" For Sonny made it in under the wire.

Clark's all too brief career was cut short when he died in 1963 at the age of 32, but he left a very well regarded, if relatively brief, collection of recordings. Growing up in Pittsburgh and then initially playing professionally on the west coast before returning to New York, he was essentially a blues player, but with a keenly developed sense of structural complexity in both his compositions and improvisations.

He plays with insistent swing and drive, even as he sticks to mostly mid tempos. On "Love Walked In" the horns sit out, and only drummer Louis Hayes and bassist Wilbur Ware accompany him. He opens the song with a tenderly romantic intro, but then delves into a solid well-constructed solo. He never gets too far off the tune, but fills it with his own harmonic textures and figures.

Clark's piano playing is excellent throughout, but most of the record is a septet with some of the most legendary musicians of the era (and in the case of Louis Hayes, even today). On the ballad "It Could Happen To You" Art Farmer blows a warm, bronzed trumpet, full of volume and weight, before clearing off for Clark's appropriately spare improvisation. Then Hank Mobley takes over with a soft-toned statement that fully captures the mood of the song. Finally, Curtis Fuller joins in with a short closing statement that makes a real case for the trombone's ability to convey subtlety and emotion in a ballad.

The Music Matters 45s are all about getting the best possible analog sound from the original master tapes, and Dial "S" lives up to the series standards. As a monaural recording it doesn't suffer from the sometimes controversial hard left-right panning of the stereo Blue Notes. The sound is rich, full and detailed, with a wide image. The record is a prime example of 'big mono' that marks the best mono recordings of the era. The pressing quality and printing of the gatefold cover is first-rate, befitting the premium price of the package.

Dial "S" For Sonny is one of those great old recordings that's worth seeking out to hear some young hard boppers playing their best. The musicians are brilliant, the music is solid, and—in the case of this Music Maters pressing—the reissue is first class all the way.

Track Listing: Dial "S" For Sonny; Bootin' It; It Could Happen To You; Sonny's Mood; Shoutin' On A Riff; Love Walked In.

Personnel: Sonny Clark: piano; Curtis Fuller: trombone; Hank Mobley: tenor; Art Farmer: trumpet; Wilbur Ware: bass; Louis Hayes: drums.

Title: Dial "S" For Sonny | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
My Blue Note Obsession
CD/LP/Track Review
Profiles
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
The 1960 Sessions with George Duvivier and Max Roach

The 1960 Sessions...

Tompkins Square
2017

buy
Dial

Dial "S" For Sonny

Blue Note Records
2013

buy
Dial

Dial "S" For Sonny

Blue Note Records
2013

buy
 

Sonny Clark Trio

Milestone Records
2012

buy
 

Complete Sessions

Milestone Records
2004

buy
 

Sonny's Crib

Blue Note Records
2001

buy

Related Articles

Read Begin the Agora CD/LP/Track Review
Begin the Agora
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 17, 2018
Read Time Like This CD/LP/Track Review
Time Like This
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 17, 2018
Read Under One Moon CD/LP/Track Review
Under One Moon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 17, 2018
Read Doubles, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review
Doubles, Vol. 1
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 17, 2018
Read Outsidethebox CD/LP/Track Review
Outsidethebox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 16, 2018
Read There Are Stars In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review
There Are Stars In Brooklyn
by James Fleming
Published: October 16, 2018
Read "We Are the Orchestra" CD/LP/Track Review We Are the Orchestra
by James Fleming
Published: October 14, 2018
Read "Sonic Fiction" CD/LP/Track Review Sonic Fiction
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 4, 2018
Read "Reemergence" CD/LP/Track Review Reemergence
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: June 28, 2018
Read "Beethoven – Missa Solemnis" CD/LP/Track Review Beethoven – Missa Solemnis
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Cheek to Cheek" CD/LP/Track Review Cheek to Cheek
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 5, 2018
Read "Agrima" CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017