Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Sonny Clark Trio: The 1960 Sessions with George Duvivier and Max Roach

Jakob Baekgaard By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz history tends to favor the great musical innovators whose stylistic leaps have formed the ever-changing vocabulary of jazz: the improvisational wonder of Louis Armstrong, the free flight of Charlie Parker, the chameleon-like transformations of Miles Davis, and the singular piano world of Thelonious Monk. For long a time, Monk, along with Bud Powell, has been seen as one of the architects of bop piano, and while this is certainly true, it can be interesting to hear those bop pianists who in their own way glow with a personal voice, and yet have received a less prominent place in the annals of jazz. Pianists like Elmo Hope and Herbie Nichols. Add to this list: Sonny Clark.

He was born Conrad Yeatis Clark, but became known in jazz as Sonny Clark. His life was short, but during his time on earth, 31 years in all, he made an amazing amount of music as a sideman and leader.

Clark's early musical life was formed by listening to broadcasts in the forties of Duke Ellington and Count Basie, but he was also influenced early on by pianists Fats Waller and Art Tatum. Clark was in touch with the West Coast scene, playing with clarinetist Buddy DeFranco's Quartet, but was not particularly interested in moving in the direction of third stream music whose experiments with classical music was too far away from the pure sound of jazz. Instead, Clark gained prominence as a prime bop pianist with many sessions for Blue Note as a sideman and leader.

While Clark's canon has been constructed around his Blue Note-recordings, he also released a noteworthy album on Bob Shad's Time label in 1960. It is simply called Sonny Clark Trio, but should not be confused with the Blue Note- release from 1957 where he played with bassist Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. The 1960-version of the trio consists of bassist George Duvivier and the drum-phenomena Max Roach. Together they form an organic unity that allows Clark's musicality to shine in a perfect setting.

The thing that is immediately noticeable about Clark is the clarity and playfulness of his lines combined with emotional depth and a wide register of rhythms and harmonies. Clark simply makes the piano sing. This is evident from the beginning on "Minor Meeting," one of eight tunes on an album consisting of all originals, and what sparkling music it is. The possibility of hearing two alternate takes of "Minor Meeting" shows that Clark was in the zone every time. Music simply poured out of him and Roach, whether he plays with dancing sticks or shuffling brushes, follows him every step of the way in the deep pocket-groove of Duvivier.

Clark's gift as a composer is evident throughout the album from the catchy licks of the opener to the hummable melody of "Nica," an homage to jazz-baroness Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter, and "Blues Mambo" and "Blues Blue" whose titles reveal all about their musical origin. Then there is the beautiful ballad "My Conception" that surprisingly echoes Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby," just listen to the first minute of the tune and it is tempting to think that Evans got a solid dose of inspiration from Clark. In fact, Evans was an admirer of Clark, as stated in Ben Ratliff's liner notes, and "Waltz for Debby" was premiered on the iconic Evans album of the same name at a time when Clark's composition had been around for some time. It was already on a Blue Note-session from 1959.

No matter what, there is no doubt that Sonny Clark was highly esteemed among musicians and listeners. Time has only done Clark a favor and confirms this particular album as the jewel it is. The complete trio session is re- released on Tompkins Square as a limited edition 2LP set for Record Store Day with the album and an additional LP of alternate takes. The sound is warm, crisp and clear, just like Clark's piano and the original notes from Nat Hentoff supplemented by Ben Ratliff's eloquent and detailed notes. This is the way jazz re-releases should be done and one can only hope that Tompkins Square will do more jazz re-releases like this in the future.

Track Listing: Minor Meeting; Nica; Sonny's Crip; Blues Mambo; Blues Blue; Junka; My Conception; Sonia; Nica (take 2); Sonia (take 3); Minor Meeting (take 10); Junka ( take 1); Nica (take 4); Minor Meeting ( take 9).

Personnel: Sonny Clark: piano; George Duvivier: bass; Max Roach: drums.

Title: The 1960 Sessions with George Duvivier and Max Roach | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Tompkins Square


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Formidable CD/LP/Track Review Formidable
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Cochonnerie CD/LP/Track Review Cochonnerie
by John Sharpe
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Threes CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Smoke CD/LP/Track Review Smoke
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Triple Exposure" CD/LP/Track Review Triple Exposure
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin" CD/LP/Track Review Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "TajMo" CD/LP/Track Review TajMo
by James Nadal
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Sing Me Some Cry" CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "We Live Here" CD/LP/Track Review We Live Here
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2017

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!

Please support out sponsor