217

JFK Quintet: New Jazz Frontiers From Washington

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
This group’s decision to takes it’s name from the president perceived by many as one of the most progressive in the history of the United States was a carefully conceived reflection of the members’ unified vision. Capitalizing on a serious desire to bridge past traditions with the adventurous excursions favored by the then avant-garde these five players used their debut to demonstrate to the jazz listening public that their music was not without a light-hearted side too. A glance at some of the composition titles verifies their appreciation for the soulful sides of Southern culture. “Aw-Ite” strikes a jocular opening groove with a rolling boogaloo drum pattern and unison horn statements from Codrington and White. “Hominy Grits” continues along a similar course and suggests the overt influence of the disc’s producer, “Cannonball” Adderly, on the Quintet’s approach. The majority of compositions are taken at medium or up-tempo paces with the lone exception being a lilting version of the old ballad “Polka Dots.” The song’s inclusion is a wise one because it effectively illustrates the group’s abilities on slower, more ruminative numbers alongside the brisker clip of the faster pieces.

White’s sound on alto is a curious amalgam of traditional elements and the keening, crying tones favored by one of his prime influences, Ornette Coleman, which he employs to great effect during his solo on “Grits.” Codrington’s brass work is more staunchly rooted in the mainstream, but both players confess an obvious infatuation with the blues that comes through in their numerous and spirited exchanges. Both men also share the compositional duties authoring all tunes save the two standards included for good measure.

Carrying through on their belief in consensus of vision and application, White and Codrington open up an unusual amount of space for the rhythm section. Killgo’s keys are the most frequent solo voice behind the horns, but Booker and Newman also have their moments in the spotlight as a result of the egalitarian arrangements. The result is a refreshingly different alternative to the traditional leader/sidemen dynamics that had long been a mainstream jazz convention. Three out of the five players are now largely forgotten with only White and Booker moving beyond a provincial status through stints with other groups. Judged by today’s standards of what is avant-garde the JFK Quintet is unavoidably tame by comparison. But given the era they were operating in their embrace of freer forms of ensemble interaction is as admirable as it is enjoyable to listen to. This is the avant-garde jazz at its most accessible and should be visited by anyone with an ear open to sounds new and exciting.


Track Listing: Aw-Ite/ Eugly

Personnel: Ray Codrington- trumpet; Andrew White- alto saxophone; Harry Killgo; Walter Booker, Jr.- double bass; Carl

| Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins
saxophone
Lee Konitz Lee Konitz
sax, alto
Gene Harris Gene Harris
piano
Ben Webster Ben Webster
sax, tenor
Jim Hall Jim Hall
guitar
Paul Desmond Paul Desmond
sax, alto
Hank Mobley Hank Mobley
sax, tenor
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone
Ramsey Lewis Ramsey Lewis
piano
Hazel Scott Hazel Scott
piano
Modern Jazz Quartet Modern Jazz Quartet
band/orchestra

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Parallax" CD/LP/Track Review Parallax
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 21, 2016
Read "Live At Zaal 100" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Zaal 100
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "Cuts" CD/LP/Track Review Cuts
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "Concerto para Moviola" CD/LP/Track Review Concerto para Moviola
by Edward Blanco
Published: July 2, 2016
Read "Josh At Midnight" CD/LP/Track Review Josh At Midnight
by James Nadal
Published: July 19, 2016
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!