Tag Archives: Don Wilkerson

Grant’s First Stand: Grant Green

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A quick count indicates that I’ve written about 24 individual recordings on downwithit. However, I’ve not looked at any of Grant Green’s sessions as leader yet, although he played guitar on Don Wilkerson’s Preach Brother, which I posted on in September 2013 here. I currently have at least 20 of his named recording sessions in my collection. There’s no doubting, Grant Green is a particular favourite of mine, so it seems fitting to write about one of his very early LP’s as my 25th review posting.

Sleeve notes and biographies inform us that Grant Green was born in 1935 and raised in St Louis. He started to play guitar at school and jammed with Elvin Jones and John Coltrane, amongst numerous great visiting musicians. His talent was scouted by Lou Donaldson and Green was recommended to Alfred Lion at Blue Note, where his promise as a session lead was instantly recognised. Grant Green’s soloing is typified by picked single notes, rather than chords, which is closely related to his greatest influences being saxophonists, with Charlie Parker foremost amongst them.

Grant’s First Stand was not his first as a leader; that session was put together with the top team of Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones and Wynton Kelly but it remained in the can and was only released as First Session in 2001.

Miss Ann’s Tempo opens matters here, offering a brisk, no- nonsense bebop flavoured statement, which you can listen to on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOfVSBNCtoA

Press or click on the arrow to listen to the track

Lullaby of The Leaves is next up. ‘Baby Face’ Willette gets a long solo, which builds and features a single note held for no less than 14 bars (forgive my poor personal musicianship if I have miscounted this). The track discloses Grant Green’s attention to Charlie Parker recordings but also harks back in one section to Django Reinhardt’s Gypsy guitar sound.

Blues For Willarene, penned by Green, is a real foot shuffler. It is a call and response rocking blues which shows how well versed Green and Willette are in RnB. Baby’s Minor Lope was written by the organist and features a sanctified but funked-up church organ sound on a brisk blues tempo.

‘Tain’t Noboby’s Business If I Do is the worldly wise number strongly associated with Billie Holiday, while A Wee Bit O’ Green is the last track and has a lazy Sunday morning blues feel about it.

Grant’s First Stand is a good set in its own right, although interested newcomers may want to purchase later and more celebrated recordings such as Matador or Idle Moments (not to mention the beautiful sessions featuring Green’s quartet work with Sonny Clark on piano). I’ll return to all of these and more in due course, having finally got round to my first posting centring on this fantastic guitarist.

The band etc: Grant Green (guitar); ‘Baby Face’ Willette (Hammond organ); Ben Dixon (drums). Recorded: 28 January 1961. Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Produced: Alfred Lion. Recording: Rudy Van Gelder. Cover photos: Francis Wolff. Cover Design: Reid Miles. Sleeve notes: Robert Levin. Originally issued as Blue Note BST 84064.

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The downwithit playlist: Twenty great tracks for you to listen to

The downwithit playlist is a list of 20 YouTube track selections that I have used to give readers a taste of the albums that I have looked at here on downwithit. They are highlighted and form part of a full post.

They are gathered together here for your further pleasure. Click on the burnt orange title to link directly to YouTube and listen.

If you would like to read my full post for the album, each one is available to read here on downwithit

The following six tracks should open on a tablet or mobile device and a computer:-

Tommy Chase: Grove Merchant: Killer Joe
Abdullah Ibrahim: Mannenberg
Pharoah Sanders: Africa: You’ve Got To Have Freedom
The Crusaders: Hollywood: Hollywood
Don Wilkerson: Preach Brother: Camp Meetin’
John Jenkins: John Jenkins with Kenny Burrell: Sharon

The following fourteen tracks should open on a computer, but will not open on a tablet or mobile device:-

Blue Mitchell: Down With It. Hi-Heel Sneakers
John Coltrane: Blue Train: Blue Train
Horace Silver: Six Pieces of Silver: Camouflage
Horace Parlan: Movin’ n Groovin’: On Green Dolphin Street
Joe Henderson: Mode For Joe: Mode For Joe
Johnny Griffin: The Big Soul Band: Wade In The Water
Freddie Roach: Brown Sugar: Brown Sugar
Fred Jackson: Hootin’ ‘N Tootin’: Southern Exposure
Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder: The Sidewinder
Grover Washington: All The King’s Horses: Lean On Me
Kenny Dorham: Una Mas: Una Mas
Jimmy Smith: Home Cookin’: See See Rider
Freddie Roach: The Soul Book: One Track Mind
Kenny Burrell: Out Of This World: Montono Blues

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A good excuse to write about Don Wilkerson’s ‘Preach Brother’

The pre-ramble:-  “It’s a funny old world”, as the late comedian Malcolm Hardee used to say.  After a late night getting ready to push the publish button on this blog, a mercifully quiet day at work followed.  Being within easy striking distance of Central London I was in Soho in a trice for a quick spin round the record shops on Berwick Street.  My main reason for going there was to see the pop-up shop put together to display some amazing Clash memorabilia to celebrate the launch of a new greatest hits collection.  Seeing the band’s guitars was on a par with seeing John Coltrane’s main tenor sax or Miles Davis’s original mouthpiece- although I’m sure neither of them would have scratched their names into their instruments as Mick Jones had done with his one of his guitars- a good way to get it back if it is nicked I suppose.

The gig:-  This set me up nicely for a Friday night in a nearby music pub where Chris Holland was celebrating his birthday with a gig.  By strange coincidence, yesterday’s post mentioned Billy Taylor and ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free’ (perhaps best known to most as ‘that filmnight theme tune’)and this was the second tune that I caught tonight.  The rest of the set took us from Professor Longhair and Dr John in New Orleans to Memphis and Booker T and The MG’s via Ray Charles (more of whom in a moment).  The band featured Chris Holland on electric boogie woogie funkified piano, bass, lead guitar, sax and drums played by aristocrats of the South East London music scene with Seamus Duplicate on a pared down Hammond MX3 organ.

downwithit 'Chris Holland' 'The Pelton'

It was a solo from the Hammond that lit up the venue and touched the parts that move and groove.  Highpoint for me was the Rolling Stones ‘Shine a Light on Me’, originally featuring Billy Preston.  It made me think of the night several years ago when he was due to play at The Royal Festival Hall with the remaining members of The Funk Brothers (the band that played on most of the classic Motown Hits).  He was indisposed and in a tongue in cheek manner the MC introduced a young substitute who used to play with touring soul bands in the 60’s.  It was a certain Mr Steve Winwood!  I’ve made a mental note to turn up the volume a tad when I listen to a Hammond set as it is a very fine and much maligned instrument.

The recording:-  All of that leads me on to the record under consideration.  I was going for something lower key.  However, a night of maximum RnB was missing only one key element- jazz tambourine- which appears with aplomb on Don Wilkerson’s ‘Preach Brother’.  Don Wilkerson was the tenor sax soloist on Ray Charles classics including: I Got a Woman and This Little Girl of Mine.  He was encouraged by Ike Quebec to record the first of three Blue Note sessions, of which “Preach Brother!’ was second.

I’ve never heard a Blue Note track quite like the opener of Side 2: ‘Camp Meetin’.  A rolling piano accompanied by tambourine is joined by a vocalist, whose ‘Weeeeeeeeeell at that old camp meetin…’ leads us in to a gutsy RnB tenor solo and Grant Green’s finger picking good guitar (there will be much more about Grant Green in future posts).

There’s a YouTube link to “Camp Meetin’ posted by groove addict here:-

The closing track on Side 1 ‘Dem Tambourines’ is another stormer but probably not for those of immobile feet and a gentle jazz disposition- who may like Sonny Clark’s wonderful piano on Pigeon Peas.  The link to ‘Dem Tambourines’ posted on YouTube by retrospeko follows:-

The band etc:-  Don Wilkerson (tenor sax); Grant Green (guitar) Sonny Clark (piano); Butch Warren (bass) Billy Higgins (drums).  Recorded: 18 June 1962.  Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.  Sleeve Notes: Dudley Williams.  Cover photo: Reid Miles.  Issued as Blue Note 4107.

What a graphically strong cover, by the way!

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