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Although he started out exclusively as an alto saxophonist in the ranks of Milt Larkins' band back in the late 1930s, Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson was both an accomplished horn player and a blues shouter, more in the manner of Jimmy Witherspoon than Big Joe Turner.
This date was recorded in France right at the end of the 1960s and originally appeared in LP form on the Black & Blue label. It's the only occasion when the talents of Vinson, pianist Jay McShann and guitarist T-Bone Walker were brought together on record. In view of these musicians' pedigrees, the results are far from surprising.
This isn't to say that the music is dull, however; it couldn't be when recorded by musicians who learned their craft over countless gigs and record dates, in an era when their talents were in demand. This is obvious on something like "Wait A Minute Baby" where Vinson's alto sax crosses the thin divide between jazz and blues, just as it does on "Somebody Sure Has Got To Go," a song that in terms of lyrical theme was decades old at the time this music was caught for posterity.
The jump blues of someone like Roy Milton is brought to mind on "Old Kidney Stew Is Fine." It's apparent here more than anywhere else on this set how Vinson's sax work influenced the likes of Cannonball Adderley.
Criticism could be made of the fact that the talents of both Walker and Hal Singer on tenor sax are under- employed throughout, but such criticism is churlish. This is music designed for the patting of the feet and perhaps the coaxing out of shared experiences or feelings. When the instruments do come to the fore, as they do to some degree on "Things Ain't What They Used To Be," the overall feel is still so far in the pocket that some listeners might start thinking that proceedings are just a little too formulaic. But on the basis of this and countless other recorded evidence, the main men here simply didn't know the meaning of faking it. Besides which, their formula as it was caught here still transcends passing time.
Track Listing: Somebody Sure Has Got To Go; Old Kidney Stew Is Fine; Juice Head Baby; Wait A Minute Baby; I'm In An Awful
Mood; Just A Dream; Things Ain't What They Used To Be; Old Maid Boogie; Wee Baby Blues; Please Send Me
Someone To Love.
Personnel: Eddie ĎCleanheadí Vinson: vocals, alto sax; Hal Singer: tenor sax; T-Bone Walker: guitar; Jay McShann: piano;
Roland Lobligeois: bass; Paul Gunther: drums