Kenny Dorham's big splash in the bebop business was taking over the trumpet chair in Charlie Parker's Quintet. He then became one of the most productive members of the Blue Note community, and his composition "Blue Bossa" has since become a jazz standard. This excellent live set is another wonderful and important issue from Uptown Records. The copious notes describe how the young (and not-yet-well-known) tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson began his productive musical relationship with Dorham, and why this live gig in Queens, NY was supported by Alan Grant (the MC for the evening) and a real estate developer.
Henderson's formidable chops are on display from the first track, "Dorian," a modal jazz waltz by pianist Ronnie Mathews. The saxophonist really explodes on the two Dorham originals: "My Injun from Brazil" (the original title of "Una Mas," to be recorded less than three months later) and "Dynamo"; it's exciting to hear this major artist at the virtual beginning of his career (Page One, his 1963 debut as a leader on Blue Note, was recorded only two weeks prior to this live gig).
The repertoire here is interesting because it is half standards: "Summertime," "Autumn Leaves" (here in A minor) and the customary trumpet feature, "I Can't Get Started," on which Dorham easily proves himself a player with exceptional technical facility and great stylistic versatility. It's a track that bears repeated listening, and is the only other time Dorham recorded this tune (the other being with fellow trumpeters Howard McGhee and Thad Jones).
While it's not unusual that a Kenny Dorham recording contains a standard or two, it's arguable that he was a great composer of jazz tunes ("Whistle Stop," for instance); perhaps because this was a low pressure club date, Dorham didn't feel the need to push his own compositions on the gig. While all the musicians (Mathews, bassist Steve Davis and drummer JC Moses) play beautifully, it's really Dorham and Henderson that burn through this 1963 New York City set. This previously unreleased gem is a must-have for fans of outstanding jazz improvisation.
Dorian; Alan Grant Speaks with the band; I Can't Get Started; Summertime; Alan
Grant Speaks; My Injun From Brazil (Una Mas); Autumn Leaves; Alan Grant Speaks; Dynamo
Kenny Dorham: trumpet; Joe Henderson: tenor sax; Ronnie Mathews: piano; Steve Davis:
bass; J.C. Moses: drums.