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Junior Mance Trio: Happy Time

Derek Taylor By

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An integral cog of the bands of Gillespie and Adderly Junior Mance’s move to the role of leader was a relatively late one in life. His obvious talents at the piano however counteract any contention that his longevity as a sideman was due to a lack of prowess. Once he did decide to form his own groups the regular results were much like those found on this exemplary and aptly titled trio recording. Mance’s style is a happy one indeed, filled with gregarious energy and a contagious good humor that carries over both in his playing and in his approach to improvisation.

Carter and Roker acclimate themselves well to the jubilant atmosphere while Mance wastes no time spreading the joy on his keys through the accelerated swing of the title tune. Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” is taken at a slower clip and features some congenial interplay between the three that borders on the beautiful. Mance’s own “Out South” is a down-home number, bursting with a blues-inflected, rustic flavor. Carter’s plucked strings on this one are particularly elastic and lay down a supple groove in unison with Roker’s brushes that is guaranteed to get your feet tapping. On the Afro-Cuban classic “Tin Tin Deo” the two again work in tandem crafting a loose rhythmic backdrop and Roker engineers an inventive timbales-like sound with his sticks on the rims of his kit. With such a solid foundation Mance is free to solo at will on top. Carter’s opening bass vamp on “Taggie’s Tune” hits a relaxed groove and Roker’s brushes are again a blur beneath Mance’ economic comping. “Azure Te” slows things down even further without losing the sharp bluesy tang that always seems to be Mance’s main ingredient. With sessions like these in his portfolio the pianist would never have to worry about being accused of falling short in those areas that almost always make for intriguing jazz- an original and inclusive sense of purpose and the fortitude to make that purpose a reality.


Track Listing: Happy Time/ Jitterbug Waltz/ Out South/ Tin Tin Deo/ For Dancers Only/ Taggie

Personnel: Junior Mance- piano; Ron Carter- double bass; Mickey Roker- drums.

Title: Happy Time | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Jazzland Recordings


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