Four years have passed since my first post was published here at downwithit.info on 19 September 2013.
The first recording that we listened to was Blue Mitchell’s ‘Down With It!’, for reasons that were self-explanatory.
In the meantime, 166 individual items have been posted. Long-cherished albums have been aired alongside sessions that were new to my ears and occasional new releases. A sprinkling of sites and blogs are concerned with similar modern jazz territory, though most centre on vinyl treasures that I have recently acquired or chosen to write about. Here at downwithit, there is rather more freedom available to me, since recordings on CD are devoured and commented on. Without CD issues my collection would be relatively small and the vinyl equivalents would have cost a sizeable fortune.
Although Bring It Home To Me was recorded a mere six months after Down With It! it seems to represent a step forward for Mitchell’s band who seem to be facing the future rather than delving into the past. That is not to suggest that a contemporary free sound is to be found here and the album remains firmly within the soul jazz spectrum. There were significant personnel changes and Harold Mabern replaced Chick Corea on piano with Billy Higgins in place of Al Foster on drums.
The title track is a pleasing blues that seems to suggest signs of a transition to a funk sound. Junior Cook takes the first solo. Mabern’s piano accompaniment is simple yet effective and he gives us a stylish soul jazz solo. Although some may be inclined to dismiss this as a ‘Sidewinder’ inspired piece, Mitchell charms with an engaging solo and it is perfect opener as you can hear via the following Youtube link:-
To play, click on or touch the arrow
Blues 3 for 1 is, as its title suggests, a jazz waltz and a jaunty, enjoyable one too, with Mabern delivering a memorable solo.
Time for the Latin mélange of Port Rico Rock, which fits in well here.
By January 1966 Mitchell’s friend and collaborator, Jimmy Heath’s, Ginger Bread Boy was an emerging standard. Mitchell’s version is more conventional than the sparse, edgier and far looser though better known recording that Miles Davis released a year later on Miles Smiles. There’s definitely a place for both and Mitchell’s soul-tinged trumpet tone heard here is more expressive and richer than the driving mumbled rumble originality that Miles was later to present.
Blue changes the pace with a gentle and sophisticated ballad Portrait of Jennie, a late 1940’s Hollywood theme which had previously been popularised by Nat King Cole and Clifford Brown.
The set closes with Blue’s Theme, which is an uplifting hard bop workout based on the I Got Rhythm chord changes. The sleeve notes recount that this was the band’s closing number when they played club performances.
The cover illustration is by George Wright. It has a superficial resemblance to Johnny Griffin and Kenny Burrell covers painted by Andy Warhol. Wright was a regular designer for Blue Note during this period and is credited with cover art direction for Freddie Roach’s Good Move and Stanley Turrentine’s Rough ‘N’ Tumble. I’ve not uncovered anything further so if you can add information please don’t hesitate.
Bring It Home to Me is the fourth of Blue Mitchell’s recordings as a leader at Blue Notes and it is a thoroughly enjoyable outing. My CD is a Japanese Blue Note 75th anniversary edition released in 2014.
The band etc:- Blue Mitchell (trumpet); Junior Cook (tenor sax); Harold Mabern Jr (piano); Gene Taylor (bass); Billy Higgins (drums). Recorded 6 January 1966. Recorded by: Rudy Van Gelder, Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Sleeve Notes: Ira Gitler. Cover Drawing: George Wright. Issued as Blue Note BST 84228.
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