Blue Note/Music Matters 1573 2 180g 45rpm LPs
Produced by: Alfred Lion
Engineered by: Rudy Van Gelder
Mixed by: Rudy Van Gelder
Mastered by: Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman at AcousTech Mastering
Jenkins and Kenny Burrell Backed By Stellar Rhythm Section
by Michael Fremer
October 01, 2010
This 1957 set spotlights the obscure Chicago alto sax hard bop player John Jenkins who led but one Blue Note session and three altogether in his short recording career, which he ended in the early '60s.
But during that short burst he played with Mingus, Art Farmer and many other greats. He's backed here, (shadowed would be a better word for it) by guitarist Kenny Burrell and a stellar rhythm section of Sonny Clark, Paul Chambers and Mingus drummer Dannie Richmond.
Less bluesy and more high speed bop than Blue Notes to come, this six tune set ignites upon take off and doesn't come down for a moment. Even the ballad "Everything I Have is Your" has an electric elegance going for it, with Jenkins managing to cast long, pleasing lead lines, while following up with staccato stabs that give the piece lift.
Jenkins plays hard and fast with a wonderfully clear and bracing tone and the backing trio is on fire throughout the set of two standards ("From This Moment On," "Everything I Have is Yours") and four originals, three by Jenkins and one by Burrell, whose crisp, bracing tone is well captured by Van Gelder. In fact, everyone's well-recorded, even Clark on piano.
Jenkins' "Motif" is based on a straight ahead propulsive riff that everyone has fun swinging withThese guys sound as if they've been playing for years instead of in a pick-up session.
Perhaps because this was late in the day for bop, these youngsters are able to revel in the form and so produce great weight and elegance along with the swift movement that characterizes the genre.
Jenkins left the music scene a few years after this was recorded and later worked as a messenger and made jewelry in New York. He picked up the horn again in the 1980s and played street corners. In 1990 he played with the Clifford Jordan Big Band.
A live session recorded analog at Condon's by Pierre Sprey and released on his Mapleshade Records on CD (Mapleshade 03232 CD) is probably his final recorded session.
Jenkins died July, 12, 1993 but this gem lives on, beautifully packaged as usual by Music Matters. The inside photos by Francis Wolff show just how young they all were. Oh my.
Okay, it's not an essential Blue Note but it's a minor gem will worth owning.
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