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Late 2003 will see a changing of the guard at the famous Philadelphia Orchestra. Maestro Wolfgang Sawallisch will turn over his baton to his younger protégé Christoph Eschenbach, providing the orchestra only its seventh conductor in its century-plus history. During a recent interview in the Paris of the West, Eshenbach pointed out that there does not exist a New York Sound or a Chicago Sound like there exists the Philadelphia Sound.
How true this is in jazz as in classical performance. Jimmy Smith, the Heath Brothers... hell, that’s enough to qualify as a jazz hotbed. But, perhaps the sound that best exemplifies Philadelphia Jazz best is Mr. Bobby Timmons. The composer of "Moanin’" and "Dis Here" can be called nothing but an original. Some uninformed critics might point out that Timmons is a cross between Bud Powell and Horace Silver, but the rest of us know that this is nothing but the Philly Sound. Ballads and Blues and none of that pussy cool jazz shit allowed here, no. If you have come to play, then play, Dawg!
Chronicled here are two Timmons offerings from late 1964, when hard bop was still spoken fluentlybefore Miles defined post bop with Hancock, Shorter, Carter, and Williams. Both albums were culled from recordings made on August 12 at Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood Cliff Studios. The session was released on Little Barefoot Soul (Prestige 7335) and Chun-King (Prestige 7351). Timmons employs two different rhythm sections, both of which offer the best in solo and side support, as well as Joel Dorn and Ozzie Cadena in the sound booth.
The majority of the music here is funky blues in the mold of "Dis Here" and "Dat Dere" that swings so hard that the Atlantic Seaboard was in a full gale hurricane when these sides were recorded. "Ain’t Thinkin’ About It" and "Nobody Know the Trouble I’ve seen" sum up Timmons' blues sensibilities, while a plaintive "Someone to Watch over Me" defines his exquisite ballad vision. This is a genius coupling of recordings by Fantasy. I hope there are many, many more.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.