Category Archives: John Jenkins

Classic Albums on downwithit.info in 2014

IMG_1355

Happy New Year to all visitors, new and old. Here’s my 100th post on downwithit.

I still have an unfinished task from 2014 which is to look back at all the classic sets that I reviewed here in 2014. By classic I mean anything other than a new release so there are one or two sets from the present millennium included here. A quick count indicates that I wrote about 26 of these albums in 2014, so I think I can conclude that I wasn’t idle, especially given that I also wrote about a number of contemporary sets and offered up some live reviews.

What follows may be a bit of a trudge through a list, but I have linked to all the reviews and if any catch your interest, please click and take a look.

On NYD 2014 I started with a bang by taking a look at John Coltrane’s Blue Train, one of my all-time favorites that I urged everyone to obtain and listen to if they hadn’t done so already.

This was followed up by Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder and a track that inspired numerous imitations.

My January postings dipped into dinner jazz in the form of Grover Washington Jr’s All The King’s Horses and British hard bop from the 1980’s UK jazz revival via Tommy Chase and Groove Merchant.

Thoughts of Tommy Chase led downwithit.info into fresh territory and I decided to devote some time to exploring the current scene, which was something that I really enjoyed during the course of 2014. If you want a recap of the newly released albums that I reviewed last year, they can be found here and my trawl of live performances is referred to here. I’m not sure if my ramblings have encouraged the purchase of a single album or attendance at any gigs but if they have, please leave a comment and let me know.

I wrote five reviews in February 2014 opening with Horace Parlan’s piano trio set Movin’ And Groovin’. I followed this up with Johnny Griffin’s Big Soul Band. I wavered about posting on that one because I thought that it was something of a departure from the classic small band context and that it would not fit- but it seemed to be OK and remains a popular review according to my stats.

Fred Jackson’s great Hootin”N Tootin’ was next up. At the time, I checked Wikipedia which did not give a date of death. Hopefully Fred still is with us and is enjoying a peaceful retirement at the grand age of 85 years old. If anybody knows more, please tell us.

A further less well-known Blue Note set, John Jenkins With Kenny Burrell was placed in the spotlight, before I took a look at Thembi by my favourite living saxophonist, Pharoah Sanders.

March 2014 saw me take an overdue look at Yusef Lateef (more to come in 2015) and Jazz Mood, his first set as a leader from 1957. The Cats, a fine session featuring John Coltrane followed and I made my first visit to a Grant Green recording on these pages with Grant’s First Stand.

In April, I brought news a a real gem: Heavy Sounds by Elvin Jones and Richard Davis, another set to listen to even if you have to beg steal or borrow. A slow journey north up the motorway system led me to grapple with Bobby Hutcherson’s Happenings. The same trip north gave me time to take a look at The Hot Club Of San Francisco’s Veronica and I got hold of a copy of Jimmy Smith’s lacklustre a less then incredible Softly As A Summer Breeze.

In May Sonny Clark’s Sonny Clark Trio was followed by another Sonny in the form of Sonny Rollins On Impulse, which sounds like a compilation album but isn’t. Later in the month, my local second-hand record store yielded up a copy of John Coltrane’s Ole.

I took another look at Grant Green with his lesser known Iron City, featuring a strong version of Hi-Heeled Sneakers, before returning to Blue Note and Harold Vick’s Steppin’ Out and later in September with Joe Henderson and Inner Urge.

I took the view that Archie Shepp and Dollar Brand’s Duet was slightly spoiled by Shepp’s poor sax technique on a couple of tracks, but I enjoyed Hank Mobley’s great Roll Call, Grant Green’s Green Street and Freddie Hubbard’s Ready For Freddie.

2014 was the year in which a bit of research yielded some more answers about Freddie Roach’s later years and I shelled out for a first pressing of All That’s Good which turned out to be much better than a shocking review suggested it would be.

I’ve already got a the first few reviews for 2015 in mind, so please come back soon and see what I’ve been listening to and remember that comments are most welcome.

One New Year’s Resolution– the quality of the photography at downwithit must improve. No excuses!

Likes(2)Dislikes(0)

John Jenkins With Kenny Burrell

John Jenkins cover

John Jenkins was a little-known Welsh saxophonist, who played an alto carved from virgin anthracite hewn from deep within the loins of the Rhondda Valley. He burned brightly during 1957.

OK, fabrications and cheap lines dispensed with now. Of course he wasn’t from Wales and I don’t believe anybody has yet been daft enough to try to make a saxophone out of coal but 1957 very definitely was his year. This set was his sole outing as a leader on Blue Note, although he had, a couple of weeks earlier, led another excellent session featuring Clifford Jordan and Bobby Timmons which was released on New Jazz.

Born in Chicago in 1931, he studied at the same High School as Clifford Jordan, Johnny Griffin and John Gilmore (later to spend much of his career with Sun Ra), before paying his musical dues and later playing for a brief period with Charles Mingus. After moving to New York in March 1957, he made his Blue Note debut as a sideman on Hank Mobley’s Hank (BN 1560).

This set offers an opportunity to hear John Jenkins supported by a stellar cast of Burrell, Chambers and Clark, with erstwhile tenor saxophonist Richmond on drums. It is a really engaging combination of hard bop and standard tracks.

Opening with a version of Cole Porter’s From This Moment On, taken at a brisk pace but with an extended solo played with control by Jenkins, the alto man sets out his stall, before Burrell and later Clark show off their refined skills.

Motif is a self-penned hard bop composition, again featuring great discipline and form from Jenkins and subtlety from Burrell.

Everything I Have Is Yours is a delicate ballad ‘…that has not been overdone’, in the sleeve note words of Ira Gitler.

Next track up is Sharon, named after John Jenkins daughter. It features a short bass solo from Mr PC, Paul Chambers. There’s a YouTube clip provided by JckDupp for you to listen to

http://youtube.com/watch?v=GqVH1WoVIPY&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DGqVH1WoVIPY

Press or click on the arrow to play.

Chalumeau closes the original set. It is a jaunty tune, in honour of the single-reeded forerunner of the clarinet

The first bonus track on the CD is a Kenny Burrell composition, Blues For Two, with more delightful playing from Clark and Burrell and bowed double bass from Chambers. The CD also offers up stereo takes of Sharon and Chalumeau, which will, doubtless be of interest to some contributors to this linked post over at London Jazz Collector

My copy is a CD reissued as part of the Blue Note Connoisseur series, which is easy enough to get hold of, if a little more pricy than average.

John Jenkins dropped out of the active music scene after 1962, working as a messenger in New York and producing jewellery and dealing in brass objects at street markets in the 1970s. After 1983 he began practicing again and playing live on street corners. There’s an Internet comment which offers a fleeting personal impression of this artist.

I got a chance to hang & play with alto player, John Jenkins, at the old Augies, back in the early 90s, a few years before he passed away. He was a super nice guy. Always happy to be up there, playing.

After the early 1960’s, he sort of got lost in the shuffle & stopped playing music in public, for quite a while. Sometime in the 80’s, Harold Mabern ran into him at an OTB (Off Track Betting–now they are all gone, btw) & convinced him to get out & start playing again, which he did, until his death, in 1993 (I think it was 93, maybe 94)

So there we have it, one to seek out and enjoy.

The band etc: John Jenkins (alto saxophone); Kenny Burrell (guitar); Sonny Clark (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Dannie Richmond (drums). Recorded: 11 August 1957 Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey. Produced: Alfred Lion. Recording: Rudy Van Gelder. Cover photos: Francis Wolff. Cover Re-design: Patrick Roques. Sleeve notes: Ira Gitler. Originally issued as Blue Note 1573.

Likes(2)Dislikes(0)