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Baby Face Willette

There is an air of mystique, an alluring attraction in jazz circles, to those highly talented musicians who shone brilliantly for a short duration, then slipped into obscurity. Jazz organist Baby Face Willette is certainly one of those figures. Roosevelt Willette, born on September 11, 1933, was the son of a minister who was introduced to the organ, as many others, in church, an influence which would define his style and direction. In the early 50’s he played with various gospel and R&B groups, and reportedly put out a couple of singles around this time. He worked his way to Chicago in the late ‘50’s and eventually went to New York and got involved with the jazz scene there. We pick up on his trail with the Blue Note releases in 1961 of Lou Donaldson, “Here ‘Tis,” and guitarist Grant Green’s “First Stand.” This would prove to be his definitive and prodigious period, as he in the same month, put out his now collectable “Face to Face.” He would go back into the studio a few months later and recorded “Stop and Listen.” This session was again with Grant Green, and is a stellar set. Considering Blue Note’s musician roster and reputation, this record was right on the groove for the period, and is recommended still. By 1963 he had formed his own trio, and after signing with the Argo label in 1964, he released “Mo-Roc,” and “Behind the 8 Ball.” He apparently resurfaced in Chicago, playing local gigs from the late ‘60’s into the early ‘70’s, then seemed to vanish, leaving only his few recordings as an enduring legacy.Even his death remains a mystery. There seems to be a revitalized interest in the gospel tinged music of Baby Face Willette, and all four of his recordings are now available on compact disc

Blue Note Records: Lost In Space: 20 Overlooked Classic Albums

Read "Blue Note Records: Lost In Space: 20 Overlooked Classic Albums" reviewed by Chris May

For anyone with a passion for Blue Note, it is hard to conceive of an album that has been “overlooked," let alone twenty of them. For connoisseurs of the most influential label in jazz history, the passion can be all consuming: if a dedicated collector does not have all the albums (yet), he or she will ...

ARTICLE: HIGHLY OPINIONATED

Blue Note's Tone Poet Series

Read "Blue Note's Tone Poet Series" reviewed by Patrick Burnette

With CD-quality streaming a reality for those with butch internet and money to burn, and vanilla streaming the reality for almost everyone else, digital music has never seemed less collectable. Why clutter your Marie Kondo-approved home with jewel boxes when much (though heaven knows not all) of the digital catalogue is available on tap? While compact ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Akiko Tsuruga: So Cute, So Bad

Read "So Cute, So Bad" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

On more than one occasion I've sat back while listening to jazz organ giants of yore and thought to myself, “they don't make 'em like this anymore." And while it's true that one-of-a-kind greats like Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott, Big John Patton, Brother Jack McDuff, Charles Earland, and Jimmy McGriff are gone for good, and nobody ...

ARTICLE: MY FAVOURITE THINGS

Alexander Hawkins

Read "Alexander Hawkins" reviewed by Paolo Peviani

Il tratto principale della mia musica È molto difficile rispondere ma spero che, in qualche modo, il tratto principale della mia musica corrisponda al tratto principale di me stesso. La qualità che desidero nei musicisti che suonano con me Gioia, apertura, generosità, e che non abbiano paure nel fare musica.

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

David Gibson: End Of The Tunnel

Read "End Of The Tunnel" reviewed by Mark Corroto

The second release for trombonist David Gibson's quartet, End Of The Tunnel, is a return to the ever popular soul-jazz genre. As with his previous disc, A Little Somethin' (Posi-Tone, 2009), Gibson and organist Jared Gold share a love for that infectious 1960s organ combo sound. This disc also continues with the same lineup, ...

ARTICLE: EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Decoy and Joe McPhee: Oto

Read "Decoy and Joe McPhee: Oto" reviewed by Clifford Allen

Decoy and Joe McPheeOtoBo'Weavil2010 The existence of a free-improvising organ trio, though uncommon even in 2010, shouldn't be all that surprising and, indeed, you might be prompted to ask what took so long. Certainly, figures like Larry Young and John Patton stretched the boundaries of organ-jazz in the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Grant Green: Street Of Dreams

Read "Street Of Dreams" reviewed by Chris May

Grant Green (1931-79) is probably the most sampled guitarist of his generation, and is rightly regarded as a godfather of acid jazz. His debut, Grant's First Stand (Blue Note, 1961)--heavy on the good foot groove--was made with soul jazz organist Baby Face Willette, and by 1965, when Green recorded an album for Verve, the label was ...

Face to Face

Label: 441 Records
Released: 1998

Behind The 8 Ball

Label: MCA
Released: 1998


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