Una Mas is another Blue Note treasure and one that I’ve been listening to for years, off and on. When he recorded this in 1963, Kenny Dorham was 39 and an established musician who had already released 15 albums as a leader. He’d recorded with most of the greats from the bebop era and beyond but for this session he turned to youth. It’s hard to believe that Tony Williams was only 17 when he played drums here and delivered the complexity of the title track, seemingly without difficulty. This was also the first session that featured Joe Henderson on tenor sax although at the age of 26 he was the second oldest in this company. Herbie Hancock was still only 22 but was making a name for himself as a relative newcomer on the New York jazz scene. Bassist Butch Warren was also in his early 20’s.
The title track which appears here from YouTube with thanks to 7lovejazz is a fine funky bossa nova based composition. Things were going so well that the track was allowed to run for over 15 minutes and was given the entire first side of the LP release. I don’t know if it is just me but I detect something of Lee Morgan’s Sidewinder– a track that also featured Joe Henderson. Its here- see what you think.
The aptly entitled Straight Ahead opens side 2. Kenny Dorham takes the first solo on this driving hard bop tune. The band are clearly loving it there’s some space for the drums, Joe Henderson’s solo is accompanied by soul clapping towards its end and Herbie Hancock gets some space to contribute.
The original LP closes with another great Latin influenced tune, Sao Paulo a tune which opens with a sense of anticipation and then hangs on.
The final number from the session was not part of the original LP and only appeared on CD many years later. If Ever I Would Leave You is a ‘show tune’ from Camelot. It was left off the original album as it didn’t fit with the adventurous nature of the first three tracks and it never will. It is very polite, very lounge and OK but lacking in fire.
So there you have it, Una Mas. A short Blue Note set at around 32 minutes for the original 3 track LP- but sometimes thats all that is needed.
The band etc:- Kenny Dorham (trumpet); Joe Henderson (tenor sax); Herbie Hancock (piano); Butch Warren (bass); Anthony Williams (drums). Recorded 1 April 1963 by Rudy Van Gelder at Rudy Van Gelder Studio. Produced by Alfred Lion. Sleeve Notes: Nat Hentoff. Cover photo: Reid Miles. Cover Design: Reid Miles. Released as BLP 4127.