The Sound of the Wide Open Spaces:
JAMES CLAY and DAVID "FATHEAD" NEWMAN
James Clay (ts) David "Fathead" Newman (ts) Wynton Kelly (p) Sam Jones (b) Art Taylor (drs)
NYC; April 26, 1960
1.Wide Open Spaces (12:08) (Babs Gonzales)
2.They Can’t Take That Away From Me (6:26) (G. I. Gershwin)
1.Some Kinda Mean (6:32) (Keeter Betts)
2.What’s New? (5:42) (Burke – Haggart)
3.Figger-ration (8:45) (Babs Gonzales)
The heading “A Cannonball Adderley Presentation” designates a series of albums – of which this is the first – conceived, organized and supervised by the many-faceted Julian Adderley, already known as a major instrumentalist, leader of a top-ranked quintet, an incisive and articulate writer on jazz subjects and a highly perceptive judge of jazz talent. On these LPs Cannonball will spotlight either completely new or comparatively neglected artists he finds particularly worthy of attention, presented in settings he considers most suitable and effective.
Riverside is proud to be able, in turn, to present Adderley, one of our most distinguished recording stars, in this new, unusual and (we feel) uniquely valuable role.
This “wide open spaces” referred to in the title of this album are, as you might suspect, the broad expanses of Texas. Four the Lone Star State, in addition to all its other claims to fame, happens also to be the home and developing-ground of both of the young tenor men whose wide-open, surging sounds are being spotlighted in this first LP produced for Riverside by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.
Both JAMES CLAY and DAVID NEWMAN are revealed here as superior ‘blowing’ artists, each capable of generating a tremendous amount of excitement and of developing a solo with logic as well as intensity and high spirits. It should be made clear right at the start that, despite the presence of two-of-a-kind as the only horns, this album is no mere disorganized, jam-session “cutting contest.” The two tenors are here together because producer Adderley, in addition to having a very high regard for the talents of each, felt that both Texans have enough in common musically to make their side-by-side efforts of added musical interest.
In particular, Cannonball notes that there is something of a tradition of Texas tenors, and that Clay and Newman are the first to emerge from that state since Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb made their debuts on the national jazz scene in the early 1940s. Neither one shares the “wildman” characteristics of Cobb and Jackquet, so the comparison shouldn’t e carried too far; but is its Adderley’s point that there is a definite Texas-tenor sound that, above all, is what links all of them. It is a somewhat intangible quality, not too easy to describe in words: I’d try referring to an “edge” to the horn sound (but not meaning any harshness); Cannonball prefers to call it “a moan inside the tone”; between us, we agree that it is more readily and enjoyably heard than talked about.
Neither Newman nor Clay can be termed a totally “new” performer; but both qualify for “presentation” here as men who have not been heard from nearly enough: “Fathead” because he has worked mostly in a rhythm-and-blues setting; and Clay because he is relatively very young and had only once left Texas. Both are residents of Dallas. Newman, though the solder, is still short of 30 years. He began as an alto player in the local Lincoln High School (where, the story goes, a teacher lost his temper, called young Dave “Fathead” – and the name stuck!). At the start of his professional career, Newman worked with Buster Smith, a near-legendary Texas altoist who reputedly was an important influence of Charlie Parker. In 1952, when he was with Lowell Fulton’s band, “Fathead” first met Ray Charles. Two years later the tenorman left T-Bone Walker to accept an invitation to join Ray, beginning an association that has lasted until the present, with Newman happily doing a goodly share of the blowing behind Charles’ rocking vocals. Adderley notes that he has always felt that “Fathead” has the “brightest” sound of any tenor player he has heard, and had wondered to what extent that might be a product of the rhythm-and-blues context. He also notes quickly that his curiosity was satisfied immediately: Newman here is the same light, bright, buoyant performer as before.
James Clay is now only 24 years old, but he first made his presence known to fellow-musicians some four years ago, in 1956, when he went to try his luck in Los Angeles. Although at that time he had been playing professionally for only two years, he had an immediate impact: two weeks after he first sat in at a local club, he was featured on an album put together for a California label. Very shortly thereafter, death in his family forced him to return to Dallas to support his grandmother: but those who had heard Clay remembered his well. Among those on hand in L. A. in ’56 was Cannonball, who has now been able to seize the opportunity to present James Clay for the first time to a wider audience. Clay flew to New York briefly and specifically to cut this album; from the sound of thing, he’ll be back soon and importantly.
Backing the two horns is that very essential jazz ingredient: a truly swinging rhythm section. WYNTON KELLY, currently featured with Miles Davis, proves once again that he is invaluable support for a soloist, and as unusual makes the most of his own choruses. SAM JONES, who is with Cannonball’s own group, has become about the most in-demand jazz bassist in New York, for reasons that are easy enough to hear. ART TAYLOR, a thoroughly swinging drummer, has played with most of the best, most recently with Thelonious Monk's’ quartet.
The album has been designed to provide plenty of stretching-out room for the Texas tenors. There are two new tunes by Babs Gonzalez (mainly known as one of the first and best of ‘bop’ singers, but obviously also a songwriter to reckon with). The blues titles Wide Open Spaces allows both horns to really take off, with first Newman and then Caly blowing fervently; then, after some funky touches by Kelly, the tenors return in the same sequence to trade choruses in head-to-head fashion. On Figger-ration, Clay takes the first solo and leads off the rousing tenor ‘fours’ that wind things up. James also takes first solo crack at the standard They Can’t Take That Away from Me and at the low-down and minor-key Some Kinda Mean (written by bassist Keter Betts. What’s New is at ballad tempo, with “Fathead” playing the melody and Clay demonstrating a rich and sensitive touch on flute.
The producer of this album is represented musically on several Riverside LPs; among them are –
Them Dirty Blues: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet (RLP 12-322; also Stereo RLP 1170)
The CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet in San Francisco (RLP 12-311; also Stereo RLP 1157)
KELLY and JONES are also featured on their own LPs -
Kelly Blue: WYNTON KELLY; with Benny Golson, Nat Adderley (RLP 12-298; also Stereo RLP 1143)
The Soul Society: SAM JONES; with Nat Adderley, Blue Mitchell, Bobby Timmons, Jimmy Heath
(RLP 12-324; also Stereo RLP 1172)
(The present recording is also available in Stereophonic form on RLP 1172)
Produced by JULIAN “CANNONBALL” ADDERLEY
Notes by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photos by LAWRENCE N. SHUSTAK
Recording Engineer: JACK HIGGINS (Reeves Sound Studios)
Riverside-Reeves SPECTROSONIC High Fidelity Engineering
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GARUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.