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The Texas Twister: DON WILKERSON


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Nat Adderley (cnt) (except on Side 2, #2 and 3)  Don Wilkerson (ts)  Barry Harris (p)  Leroy Vinnegar (on Side 1, #2 and 3; Side 2, #4) or Sam Jones (b) (0n other four selections), Billy Higgins (drs) 

San Francisco; May 19 an d20, 1960
1.     The Twister (6:29) (Julian Adderley)
2     .Morning Coffee (7:48) (Barry Harris)
3.     Idiom (5:14) (Jim Martin
1.Jelly-Roll (7:40) (Don Wilkerson)
2.Easy to Love (4:34) (Cole Porter)
3.Where or When (3:58) (Rodgers and Hart)
4.Media (4:55) (Jim Martin)

   A twister, according to my dictionary, simply means “a tornado or cyclone.”  And that’s the sort of feeling we’re seeking to convey by using that term to describe the young Texas-raised tenorman who is making his record debut here.  DON WILKERSON is excitingly uninhibited and large-scale in sound and style and, particularly on a swiftly paced, surging number like the opening track of this album, seems literally capable of blowing up a storm.
   Cannonball Adderley had met Wilkerson in Miami Beach back in 1955, had jammed with him then, and had been impressed.  When, five years later, this Riverside series of Adderley-supervised LPs swung into operation, Don was high on Cannonball’s list of artists to be spotlighted.  As it worked out, the album was put together while the Adderley band was in San Francisco, permitting quite a bit of geographic variety.  Wilderson was brought West from his home in Houston; West Coast bass star LEROY VINNEGAR and drummer BILLY HIGGINS were invited up from Los Angeles; and from Cannonball’s own group he recruited brother NAT ADDERLEY and pianist BARRY HARRIS.  When Leroy had to return to L.A. before completion of the album, still another of the group, the rock-solid SAM JONES, was called in.
   As an indication of the strength of this supporting cast, note that the 1960 Down Beat Critiecs Poll results make this quite a “New Star” record: Nat Adderley, Jones and Higgins are all winners in that category.  Higgins is a newcomer who has very quickly caught the attention of a wide range of fellow-musicians: he has been highly touted by Miles Davis and has worked with both Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman.  Both Jones and Nat Adderley (who is in particularly bright and driving form on this occasion) are of course quite familiar figures to Riverside listeners.
   Wilkerson was born in Louisiana in July of 1932, and has considered himself a Texan since the age of 12.  He began as a Hodges-influenced altoist in high school, but by 1948 had switched to tenor and had begun playing local jobs.  Until 1952 he toured with such bands as Amos Milburn and Charles Brown, spent most of ’53 in Los Angeles, and late that year began his “first real jazz gig,” leading a group that became the house band at the Miami Beach “Birdland.”  Between 1954 and ’58 he spent much time, on and off, with Ray Charles, and since then has been working back in Houston. In all, a not too untypical background of a young musician scuffling for a living while working for and waiting for the main chance – which, with this album, may now be a lot closer to happening for Don Wilkerson.
   Don notes that Texan Illinois Jacquet was an important early influence, and that he has also “listened hard” in recent years to Sonny Rollins and Gene Ammons.  He also has some of that “Texas tenor sound” pointed to by Cannonball in connection with the first LP in this “presentation series”, which focused on two other tenors form that state: James Clay and “Fathead” Newman.  But there is also more than a little of an aggressive, firmly accented style of his own here, particularly on the Cannonball tune noted before, on the Barry Harris blues, Morning Coffee, Don’s own blues, Jelly-Roll (on which he achieves a startlingly different sound by using a towel as a sax mute!), and on a blistering version of Easy to Love.  A striking ballad treatment of Where or When, and two originals by fellow-Texan Jim Martin round out the proceedings.

   The heading “A Cannonball Adderley Presentation” designates a series of albums – of which this is the third – 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.

   Two previous “Cannonball Adderley Presentation” albums are –
The Sound of the Wide Open Spaces: JAMES CLAY and DAVIS “FATHEAD” NEWMAN (RLP 12-327;
also Stereo RLP 1178)
at The Showboat (RLP 329; also Stereo RLP 1183)
   The producer of this album is represented musically on several Riverside LPs; among them are –
Them Dirty Blues: CANNONBAL ADDERLEY Quintet (RLP 12-322; also Stereo RLP 1170)
The CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet in San Francisco (RLP 12-311; also Stereo RLP 1157)
   This is Leroy Vinnegar’s first Riverside appearance; Billy Higgins was part of THELONIOUS MONK Quartet plus Two at The Blackhawk (RLP 12-323; also Stereo RLP 1171). The others heard here have been featured on such Riverside albums of their own as –
Work Song; NAT ADDERLEY with Wes Montgomery (RLP 12-318; also Stereo RLP 1167)
Much Brass; NAT ADDERLEY Sextet (RLP 12-301; Stereo RLP 1143)
at the Jazz Workshop (RLP 326; Stereo RLP 1177)
The Soul Society; SAM JONES, with Nat Adderley (RLP 12-324; also Stereo RLP 1172)
The present recording in also available in Stereophonic form on RLP 1186)


Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Cover and back-liner photos by JERRY STOLL
Recording Engineer: WALLY HEIDER
Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe.

235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.

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