Don Patterson (1936-1988) wasn't the most distinctive organist to follow on the heels of Jimmy Smith's success. But, like Larry Young and Shirley Scott who also played piano first, Patterson was undoubtedly one of the more melodic and lyrical of organ practitioners. What's more, while his more popular peers ventured into soul jazz, funk and pop, Patterson stayed firmly rooted within the bop tradition. He recorded a whopping 15 albums for Prestige between 1964 and 1969, then recorded only five more for the Muse label until his final 1978 album, recorded a decade before his death.
Steady Coming At Ya includes all five tracks from Patterson's terrific 1973 Muse LP, These Are Soulful Days, adding one track ("Lori") from his 1972 Muse debut, The Return of Don Patterson and two tracks ("Harold's House of Jazz" and "Room 608") from Movin' Up (1976).
The Soulful Days tracks make this a most worthwhile set and catch Patterson at his very best in a fine quartet featuring Jimmy Heath on tenor sax, Pat Martino on guitar and Albert Heath on drums. The four reflect winningly on Cal Massey's title tune (perhaps better known from Lee Morgan's performance), two standards ("Skylark" and a remarkably un-corny "Whistle While You Work") and two blues (Dizzy Gillespie's "Blue 'n Boogie" and Patterson's 18-minute "Muse Blues"). Throughout, Patterson solos with the sensitive, understated flair of a pianist. Jimmy Heath is well featured on "Whistle While You Work" and "Blue 'n Boogie." Martino, perfectly matched to Patterson for slower tempos, however, excels - as he does elsewhere on the faster tempos. The remaining tracks are of interest to hear Patterson interact in separate quartets featuring the altos of Richie Cole and Eddie Daniels. But they only fill out the CD and don't offer enough of the interest these groups can offer on their own.
Steady Coming At Ya contains some of Don Patterson's best recorded work and offers proof that this melodic bop organist is a neglected talent that, even a decade after his death, remains deserving of wider recognition.
Songs:These Are Soulful Days; Whistle While You Work; Skylark; Blue 'n Boogie; Muse Blues; Harold's House of Jazz; Room 608; Lori.
Players:Don Patterson: organ; Jimmy Heath: tenor sax; Richie Cole or Eddie Daniels: alto sax; Pat Martino or Vic Juris or Ted Dunbar: guitar; Albert Heath or Billy James: drums.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.