Clifford Jordan, the iconic American jazz tenor saxophonist, has left an indelible mark on the world of jazz. Known for his dynamic playing style and innovative compositions, his album Drink Plenty Water and Walk Slow is a testament to his unparalleled musical prowess. The original album was recorded in 1974 for Strata-East as an LP but did not make it to the catalogue during this period. However, his wife, Sandy Jordan, unearthed this gem, which was remastered for presentation in the release.
All music and lyrics in this seven-track thirty-six-minute outing were composed by Jordan. Among the many standout musicians who participated in this session were trombonist Dick Griffin, trumpeter Bill Hardman, bass clarinetist Charlie Rouse, pianist Stanley Cowell, bassists Sam Jones and Bill Lee along with drummer Billy Higgins as well as vocalists David Smyrl and Donna Jordan Harris. The opening track is "The Highest Mountain." With the combined voices setting the opening frame, Jordan plays obligato (also spelled obbligato) on most of the composition, in addition to a well-executed solo. The harmonization of the vocals and the band provide a cerebral showcase to take the number out. "Witch Doctor's Chant" starts with a stellar horn ensemble intro before the blended voices take over the lyrics. The rhythm section of Cowell/Higgins/Lee offers smooth but earthy support throughout the chart for both the full ensemble and Jordan's solo.
The title track, "Drink Plenty Water and Walk Slow," is another of Jordan's notable compositions. After a solo arco opening from cellist Bernard Fennell, Jordan joins for a duo interlude before David Smyrl delivers a long talking story of a man in prison for ten years. Jordan's ability to weave this intricate vocal/musical format into his compositions is genuinely inspirational. The following two tracks, "I've Got a Feeling For You" and "My Papa's Coming Home" continue with the vocal/instrumental format. Although Jordan's contributions were not generally lengthy, his playing still exhibited his technical finesse and emotional depth.
The final two tracks bear the same title, "Talking Blues," but it is the second instrument track that will be discussed. In this lengthy (almost 10 minutes} blues opus, Jordan's saxophone is a continuous presence with the other band members weaving their playing around his bold tone of musical innovation and artistic exploration. The album is an exciting blend of traditional and contemporary jazz elements and adds to Clifford Jordan's discography legacy.
The Highest Mountain; Witch Doctor's Chant; Drink Plenty Water and Walk Slow; I've Got a
Feeling For You; My Papa's Coming Home; Talking Blues; Talking Blues (instrumental).
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