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Don Patterson/Booker Ervin/Houston Person: Just Friends

Derek Taylor By

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Patterson is in the company of two of the 60s most formidable tenors on the pair of sessions collected on this disc. Person is first to bat and fronts a quartet rounded out by Martino and James. His brawny, resonant tone is a worthy compliment to Patterson’s adroit keyboard attack and the strength of their match portends the fireworks that quickly ensue. James was Patterson’s regular drummer on most of the organist’s dates for Prestige. His understated, but supportive percussion provided the requisite room for the organist to craft his customary barrage of bebop-inflected lines and he serves in similar capacity here. Martino is something of the wild card and his crisp, chordal approach is a definitive ingredient in the shaping of the group’s sound.

The players waste no time in demonstrating their omniscience when it comes to the art of grooveology digging into the an extended reading of Gene Ammon’s “Red Top” with athletic ardor. Martino clocks a quick time on his opening solo for “Freddie Tooks, Jr.” and Person follows at an equally brisk clip blowing forcefully against a percolating rhythmic backdrop. The mood is much more languid on the lush reading of “Embraceable You” where Patterson and Person meet in a tranquil repartee that accentuates the tune’s mellow sentiments. Clifford Brown’s composition “Sandu” wraps the session up and gives both Patterson and Person another avenue to profess their hard bop roots.

Ervin is the emphasis on the second session and the opportunity to hear him in a stripped down setting backed by only organ and drums is a rarity that should be relished. Ervin was famous for his ability to balance a soulful, hard-biting tone with a facility for the freer forms of improvisation. On this date he sticks to the mainstream, but serves up some scintillating solos nonetheless. Patterson’s fast break comping and choruses are an ideal compliment and the two men engage in some seriously smoking interplay. James does his best to keep up. The three move through a captivating collection of tunes ranging from the accelerated, finger popping “Sister Ruth” to the relaxed, but persistently grooving “Sentimental Journey.” Taken together both of the sessions gathered on this disc make for an sumptuous helping of soul jazz and shouldn’t be passed up.

Collective

Track Listing: Red Top/ Freddie Tooks, Jr./ Last Train From Overbrook/ Embraceable You/ Sandu/ Sister Ruth/ Donald Duck/ Rosetta/ Under the Boardwalk/ Sentimental Journey/ Theme for Dee/ Just Friends.

Recorded: August 25, 1967, NYC and July 10, 1964, Englewood Cliffs, NJ>

Personnel:

Collective Don Patterson- organ; Houston Person- tenor saxophone; Pat Martino- guitar; Billy James- drums; Booker Ervin- tenor saxophone.

Title: Just Friends | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Prestige Records

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