164

Darwin Gross: Soul Speaks

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
This is a surprisingly productive session by an unknown (to me) vibraphonist, Darwin Gross, and a number of exceedingly well–known sidemen. If one is weighed by the company he keeps, Gross must surely be heavy; how else can one explain the presence on his date of such luminaries as pianists Hank Jones and John Lewis, bassists Ray Brown and Victor Gaskin, guitarist Rodney Jones or drummer Mickey Roker. Gross’s sound is described in the accompanying booklet as “mellow and bluesy,” which indeed it is. He is known internationally, it goes on to say, as “the Pied Piper of happy blues.” True or not, there are some bluesy moments on Soul Speaks, and some happy ones as well. Gross is a competent albeit unassuming player who does his best to avoid being upstaged by his more celebrated companions. But if his name weren’t on the album cover one would be hard–pressed to identify him as its foreman, even though all the tunes are his (“Boxcar Blues” was co–written with Rodney Jones). Three quintets are heard on six of the selections; the others (“Golden Thread,” “Hu of Blue”) have Gross fronting a “virtual string section” thanks to Katsumi Yamagishi’s “keyboard enhancements.” The tracks with Lewis on piano and Brown on bass (“Boxcar Blues,” “Blues of the Masters”) sound somewhat like “the Modern Jazz Quartet with guitar” while those with Hank Jones and Gaskin have a more inclusive but no less pleasing ambiance. Whatever the configuration, Gross is backed by world–class sidemen, and Soul Speaks does so in an impressively convincing voice.

Track listing: Soul Speaks; Boxcar Blues; The Golden Thread; Darji’s Groove; Blues of Soul; The Flute of God; Hu of Blues; Blues of the Masters (51:21).

Personnel:

Darwin Gross, vibraphone, with (tracks 1, 4)

| Record Label: Be Good To Your Self Music | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "All These Hands" CD/LP/Track Review All These Hands
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "North Star" CD/LP/Track Review North Star
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 2, 2016
Read "Pittsburgh" CD/LP/Track Review Pittsburgh
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Work Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Work Songs
by Mark F. Turner
Published: March 1, 2016
Read "Acceptance" CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Jim Olin
Published: June 30, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!