Drums Around the World: PHILLY JOE JONES'S Big Band Sounds
Lee Morgan (tp) Blue Mitchell (tp) Curtis Fuller (tb) Herbie Mann (fl, piccolo) Cannonball Adderley (as) Benny Golson (ts) Sahib Shihab (bs) Wynton Kelly (p) Sam Jones (b) or Jimmy Garrison (b) Philly Joe Jones (drs)
NYC; May, 1959
Blue Gwynn (7:29) (Philly Joe Jones)
Stablemates (5:56) (Benny Golson)
“El Tambores” (Carioca) (4:29) (Vincent Youmas arr. by Philly Joe Jones)
The Tribal Message (drs-solo) (2:51) (Philly Joe Jones)
Cheokee (8:17) (Ray Noble)
Land of the Blue Veils (3:38) (Benny Golson)
Philly J. J. (10:13) (Tadd Dameron)
This is, as you would assume from the fact that the remarkable propulsive force known as PHILLY JOE JONES is in command, a tremendously exciting album.
It is sure to warm the hearts of all who are stirred by drums – particularly by such intricate, surging awesomely swinging rhythms as Philly Joe can offer. But this is far more than just a record showcase for several highly impressive aspects of his musical skills (and, in addition, for the major talents of his truly all-star supporting cast). On display here, then, is Philly Joe as the unifying, driving force for a sizeable group of horns; as an unsurpassed bulwark behind and around their various notable solo efforts; as (of course) a startling and dramatic soloist in his own right; as a jazz writer of much merit; and as organizer and leader of a band that produces a good deal of wonderfully rich, full, big-sounding music.
“Drums Around the World” is an album idea that has been developing for quite some time, ever since Philly first mentioned to us his concept of an LP making use of a wide variety of rhythms: not only those that have had a direct influence on jazz (African, Afro-Cuban, Latin), but also others susceptible to being adapted to unusually flavored jazz performance (Oriental, American Indian). After much planning and discussion as to repertoire, overall instrumental setting, and personnel, it finally settled down to these seven selections (two of which – Stablemates and Philly J. J. – represent strictly the American, or home-cooking, segment of the world), and to this lineup. The group that was assembled is not only of a size to frame the featured drumming with a really large-scale sound, but is also of very large caliber. For Philly was able to call upon a number of his friends, a category that includes top alto star Cannonball Adderley and many others of the very best current jazz talent, in bringing to life his musical brain-child.
The “around the world” theme, although not intended as either musically or geographically all-inclusive, does point up the varied moods and flavors employed. The opener, Blue Gwynn, composed and scored by Philly, has a strong Afro-Cuban rhythmic cast. It is followed by Stablemates, one of Benny Golson’s most celebrated tunes, newly arranged by him for this occasion. Both numbers feature considerable solo blowing; note that Blue Mitchell takes the trumpet chorus on the latter, while on Blue Gwynn the trumpet solos is by Lee Morgan, with both horns (Morgan first, then Mitchell) sharing the “fours” with Philly. The highly Latin number that Joe refers to as ‘El Tambores’ and which he has built up around the bare bones of the Vincent Youmans standard, The Carioca, has Morgan and Herbie Mann (on piccolo) predominant in the ensemble passage and much room for drums. For The Tribal Message, an unaccompanied solo designed to suggest the spirit of African drumming, the several component parts of Philly’s equipment were spaced across the studio. Thus the six segments of this selections are played on, respectively; bass drum, large tom-tom, small tom-tom, snare, a second bass drums, and back to the large tom-tom plus cymbals. The impression of depth and movement, particularly effective in stereo, is startling even in the monaural version.
Cherokee rings in some tongue-in-cheek American Indian horseplay at start and finish, featuring Mann’s flute in conversation with Philly’s drumming and war-whoops. In between is some unfaltering cooking at warpath tempo by a three-horn segment (Mann, Mitchell, Curtis Fuller) of the full group. Land of the Blue Veils is Golson’s lush and lovely general conception of the Far East, played ensemble except for spots left open for Philly. Finally, there is stretching-out room on Philly J. J., a number that Tadd Dameron created for (and with assistance by) Joe a half-dozen years ago, and which he recently up-dated and added to.
There are slight shifts throughout the album in the basic lineup listed above. As indicated, The Tribal Message is by drums only; and Cherokee is by a sextet (Mann, Mitchell, Fuller and rhythm). Morgan is the only trumpet on Blue Veils, El Tambores and Philly J. J.; Mitchell is added on Blue Bwynn and Stablemates, Golson does not play on Blue Veils; Mann is not on Philly J. J. or Stablemates. Sam Jones is on bass on Cherokee, Blue Gwynn and Stablemates; Jimmy Garrison is bassist on the other three band numbers.
JO JONES is known by the name of his home town to avoid confusion with veteran drummer Jo Jones. Born in 1923, he is largely serf-taught, although he has studied with Cozy Cole and others. After a long apprenticeship that began with rhythm and blues bands and has included playing with most of the top names of modern jazz, he began to achieve widespread recognition through his work with Miles Davis in 1957-1958. He is now clearly among the leaders of the school of drummers who insist on being much more than mere time-keepers, and the influence of his complex style is to be heard in the work of just about all of today’s younger drummers. Riverside’s opinion of Philly is best expressed by the notation that he appears on more than twenty albums on this label.
At first, Joe’s quick, busy intricacies seemed to defeat the ears of the critics, but of late they too have fallen into line. Typical is Whitney Balliett’s praise in an April, 1959, New Yorker article, calling Philly “revolutionary” and “a master of silence, dynamics and surprise,” and describing his solos as “careful, remarkably graduated structures, full of surprises, varied timbres and good old-fashioned emotion.”
Philly’s previous LP as a leader (which includes his celebrated impression of Bela Lugosi) is –
Blues for Dracula: PHILLY JOE JONES Sextet (RLP 12-282)
The other outstanding jazzmen heard here are featured on many other Riverside LPs several of them with groups of their own, including –
Things Are Getting Better: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY; with Milt Jackson ((RLP 12-286)
The Modern Touch: BENNY GOLSON; with J. J. Johnson, Max Roach, Wynton Kelly (RLP 12-256)
Big Six: BLEU MITCHELL; with Johnny Griffin, Curtis Fuller, Philly Joe Jones, Wynton Kelly (RLP 12-273)
Kelly Blue: WYNTON KELLY; with Benny Golson, Nat Adderley (RLP 12-298)
Sultry Serenade: HERBIEMANN (RLP 12-234)
A HIGH FIDELITY Recording – Riverside-Reeves
SPECTROSONIC High Fidelity Engineering (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve)
Produced, and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover produced and designed by PAUL BACON – KEN BRAREN – HARRIS LEWINE
Back-liner photographs by LAWRENCE N. SHUSTAK
Engineer: JACK HIGGINS (Reeves Sound Studios) Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS
(Components Corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
553 West 51st Street, New York 19, N.Y.