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Spellbound: CLIFFOR JORDAN Quartet

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Cliffor Jordan (ts) Cedar Walton (p) Spanky DeBreast (b) Aalbert Heath (drs)   

NYC; August 10, 1960


  1. Toy (4:21) (Clifford Jordan)

  2. Lush Life (5:10) (Billy Strayhorn)

  3. Moon-a-tic (4:38)(Clifford Jordan)

  4. Spellbound (5:49) (Clifford Jordan)


  1. Hot Water (5:02) (Clifford Jordan)

  2. Last Night When We Were Young (6:27) (Harburg – Arlen)

  3. Au Privave (8:28) (Charlie Parker)

   In the middle and late 1950s, a great many musicians who gave substantial promise of being of much more than passing importance seemed to descend on New York. From Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and numerous other more-or-less centers of jazz awareness, young men who apparently had spent their ‘teens absorbing the lessons set down on records by Dizzy and Bird and their immediate followers came into the city’s jazz clubs to listen, and sit-in, and in some cases get fairly steady band and record employment. It may not really have been a greater influx than at other times, and there may not actually have been more tenor players than anything else, but it did seem that way. (The so-called “hard-bop” style was in full bloom, and it is perhaps easiest for listeners to identify a tenor sound as belonging to that school.)

   It was – or should have been – obvious that there were more actually or potentially good musicians than jobs, and quite a few of the newcomers did disappear form view after a while. For those who did stay, and did gain acceptance by the more experienced musicians, it was still no easy road. Take, as an excellent case in point, the very talented young Chicago-born tenor man featured here, CLIFFOR JORDAN.

   Although Cliff had been playing tenor sax since the age of 13 (and had started on piano at 4), he arrived in New York at the age of twenty-six, in 1957, with absolutely no professional experience. But he had, as he puts it, “played the blues in Chicago with anyone who’d play with me.” And he impressed Max Roach sufficiently so that his first job was as Sonny Rollins’ replacement with the Roach group at the Café Bohemia. (Right there, Jordan ran into the biggest single headache for the young musician: he does have a Rollins-like sound; Sonny, he notes, “inspired, but not influenced” him; and replacing Rollins as he did led far too many people to shrug him off as just another kid trying to copy the then most-prevalent new tenor influence.)

   In due course, Jordan moved on to jobs with Horace Silver, and then J. J. Johnson. These are certainly astute and careful leaders; if they hire you, it’s pretty unlikely that you are less than very good. But working or such men, who are also leaders with them and others, and even making and album or so under your own name (but in the accepted style of the moment and with the same sidemen as on lots of other dates) – all this is no way your personal jazz directions.

   Now the fact is that Jordan is anything but an average, face-in-the-crowd sort of fellow. Note for example his hobbies (“photography, horticulture, hypnotism”). And that he is clearly a musical ‘natural,’ largely self-taught (I’m worked selling papers until I saved $25 to buy a C-melody sax – after the first day I could play Body and Soul.”)

   The point of all this, and one of the main points of this album, is that very few people have really heard Cliff Jordan play before this. Not, that is, in the way he wants to and can. (That, of course, is a familiar-enough complaint, and I would not neccesarily have been moved to do anything about it when I first heard it – except that Cannonball Adderley was the one who said so, and I have found it a good idea to trust Canonball’s judgement.) While Jordan is far from the only musician with this sort of background, he does happen to be one of the most highly skilled and interesting. Thus he particularly intrigued Adderley, and in rather a variation on the kind of talent-discovering hone in precious LPs produced by the alto star, this one developed in terms of asking Cliff to pick a compatible rhythm section, make his own choice of repertoire, rehearse for a while, and then announce when he was ready to show his stuff – his own stuff.

   The section Cliff selected had worked together, and with Jordan, for quite a while in J. J. Johnson’s group (which disbanded just before this session): three very promising young musicians, all well aware of the talent and potentials of this tenor man and most anxious to help bring them to public attention. The repertoire displays both taste and imagination: and unusual waltz treatment of Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life; Last Night, a ballad that Harold Arlen reputedly prefers to anything he has written; Charlie Parker’s swinging Au Privave as a vehicle for the most extended blowing of the date; and four of Jordan’s own tunes. Toy, simple in structure and most appealing, was actually worked out, pretty much by accident, on some toy vibes belonging to Cliff’s baby daughter. Hot Water is a blues written with Cannonball’s band in mind: Moon-a-tic “is a composition that depicts lost soul, tragedy insanity”; and Spellbound “is a tune I lucked upon while trying to write one to be entitled Hypnotized.”

   And here it all is, so that you too can hear Clifford Jordan as he’d like to be heard . . .

   The heading “A Cannonball Adderley Presentation” designates a series of albums – of which this is the fifth – conceived, organized and supervised by the man-faceted Julian Adderley, already known as a major instrumentalist, leader of a top-ranked quintet, and incisive and articulate writer on jazz subjects and a highly perceptive judge of jazz talent. On these LPs, Cannonball spotlights either completely new or (as in this instance) comparatively neglected artists he finds particularly worthy of attention, presented in settings he considers most suitable and effective.

   Riverside is proud to able, in turn, to present Adderley, one of our most distinguished recording stars, in this unusual and uniquely valuable role.

   Previously albums in this series are –

Sound of Wide Open Spaces: JAMES CLAY and DAVID ‘FATHEAD’ NEWMAN (RLP 12-327; Stereo RLP 1178)

DICK MORGAN at the Showboat (RLP 329; Stereo RLP 1183)

The Texas Twister: DON WILKERSON (RLP 332; Stereo RLP 1186)

The Jazz Brothers: MANGIONE BROTHERS Sextet (RLP 335; Stereo 9335)

   The producer of this album is represented musically on such Riverside LPs as –

CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet in San Francisco (RLP 12-311; Stereo RLP 1157)

Them Dirty Blues: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet (RLP 12-322; Stereo RLP 1170)

Things Are Getting Better: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY with Milt Jackson (RLP 12-286; Stereo RLP 1128)

   (The present recoding is also available in Monaural form on RLP 340)




Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF

Cover and back-liner photographs by LAWRENCE N. SHUSTAK

Recording Engineer: BILL STODDARD (Bell Sound Studios)

Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDRIFEED lathe.


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

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