Blue’s Moods: BLUE MITCHELL
Richard “Blue” Mitchell (tp) Wynton Kelly (p) Sam Jones (b) Roy Brooks (drs)
NYC; August 24 & 25, 1960
I’ll Close My Eyes (5:55) (Kaye – Reid)
Avars (4:03) (rocky Boyd)
Scrapple From the Apple (3:57) (Charlie Parker)
Kinda Vague (6:15) (Mitchell – Kelly)
Sir John (6:00) (Blue Mitchell)
When I Fall in Love (5:38) (Heyman – Young)
Sweet Pumpkin (4:14) (Ronnell Bright)
I Wish I Knew (4:23) (Warren – Gordon)
The impact of BLUE MITCHELL upon the modern jazz scene has been strong and – as such things are measured – extremely swift. For, although he has been playing since the late 1940s, it is more precise to date his career form the time of his first album, recorded for Riverside in the Summer of 1958, which marked his first full-scale exposure to the jazz public.
Since then, Blue has been heard frequently: on records and as a valued member of the Horace Silver Quintet, which he joined late in ’58. For a great many fans, critics and musicians, listening to Mitchell has by now become a solidly appreciated pleasure. And “pleasure” is exactly the right word, for the round, firm tone – lyrical but filled with strength – of this Miami-born trumpeter consistently evokes a warm glow and a feeling of satisfaction.
Until rather recently, however, it appeared that Blue himself was one of the very, very few people not particularly pleased or satisfied by his playing. Basically, he belongs to that fairly large group of sensitive and strongly self-critical musicians who are constantly concerned with their real or fancied failure to fully live up to the tough standards they impose on themselves. But the album immediately preceding this one (“Blue Soul”) marked a turning point – the arrival of Blue at a striking new level of maturity, authority and deserved confidence. The present LP actually represents the next step forward from that point, as Mitchell for the first time takes off on his own, with only rhythm-section support and no other horns to lean on.
Such an album calls for considerable assurance. There had been three quartet embers among the nine of the “Blue Soul” LP, but a full album with the spotlight squarely on you is something else again. Actually, it was the warm and moving treatment of the title tune of that precious album that led to this present effort; the intention here is primarily to build the same sort of richly mellow atmosphere, and it is my firm opinion that he succeeds brilliantly.
But the title here is in the plural (moods, not mood), and so there is a fittingly wide range of feelings and tempos. Blue can drive with the best, as he demonstrates on a rousing romp through Charlie Parker’s classic Scrapple from the Apple and a joyful version of I Wish I Knew. And he can create a very special virile beauty with a ballad, as on When I Fall in Love.
But perhaps his most effective groove, and one in which he has few if any equals, is the lightly swinging and firmly funky area he gets into both on a standard like I’ll Close My Eyes and a medium-tempo blues like his own Sir John. It is currently in fashion to call almost all modern jazz, whether accurately or not, “soulful”; but there can be no doubt that Mitchell has at least as much soul, and blues feeling, as the law allows. This is strikingly apparent on these two numbers, and equally so on the more lively Avars and again on the haunting and most unusual slow blues he calls Kinda Vague. On this last tune Blue is playing a vintage cornet belonging to Riverside engineer Ray Fowler. This horn has long fascinated Blue, and this introspective tune, in which members of the rhythm section seem to drift in and out (“kind of vaguely”), was built around the mood suggested by the far-off, slightly wry sound of the cornet.
On any jazz record, but probably most of all on a quartet date like this, a skilled and sympathetic rhythm section is of vital importance. And it would be hard to improve on the support offered by these three. WYNTON KELLY, a mainstay of the Miles Davis group, has by specific invitation been the pianist on all the Blue’s albums; SAM JONES, one of the very finest of bassists, is a charter member of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet and has been a close friend of Mitchell’s since both were teen-agers in Florida; ROY BROOKS, a vastly promising young drummer from Detroit, has worked with Blue for over a year in the Silver band.
BLUE MITCHELL’s previous Riverside LPs include –
Blue Soul: with Jimmy Heath, Curtis Fuller, Philly Joe Jones (RLP 12-309; Stereo RLP 1155)
Out of the Blue: with Benny Golson, Art Blakey (RLP 12-293; Stereo RLP 1131)
Big Six: with Johnny Griffin, Fuller, Philly Joe Jones (RLP 12-273)
Kelly has appeared on many Riverside albums, including all three previous Mitchell LPs. He heads groups of his own on –
WYNTON KELLY, with Kenny Burrell (RLP 12-254)
Kelly Blue: with Nat Adderley, Benny Golson (RLP 12-298; Stereo RLP 1143)
Jones has also been head on numerous albums on this label, including the first two Mitchell LPs listed above. His debut as a leader is on –
The Soul Society: SAM JONES, with Nat Adderley, Blue Mitchell, Bobby Timmons, Jimmy Heath (RLP 12-324; Stereo RLP 1172)
Produced and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photographs by LAWRENCE N. SHUSTAK
Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios
Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCITONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.