Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

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

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

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 Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review
Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
by Doug Collette
Published: December 13, 2018
Read The Forest from Above CD/LP/Track Review
The Forest from Above
by John Eyles
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Imaginary Band CD/LP/Track Review
Imaginary Band
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Night CD/LP/Track Review
Night
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 13, 2018
Read An Ayler Xmas Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
An Ayler Xmas Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2018
Read I Always Knew CD/LP/Track Review
I Always Knew
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 12, 2018
Read "Doubles, Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Doubles, Vol. 1
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 17, 2018
Read "Tone Twister" CD/LP/Track Review Tone Twister
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Where We Stand" CD/LP/Track Review Where We Stand
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 23, 2018
Read "Lucus" CD/LP/Track Review Lucus
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "I Remember Bu" CD/LP/Track Review I Remember Bu
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 1, 2018
Read "One Day It Will" CD/LP/Track Review One Day It Will
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 7, 2018