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Eastern Lights: LENNY McBROWNE and The Four Souls

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Donald Sleet (tp) Daniel Jackson (ts) Terry Trotter (p) Jimmy Bond (b) Lenny McBrowne (drs)

Los Angeles; October 13, 1960


  1. Saudi (4:26)

  2. No Consideration (5:40)

  3. I Don’t Know the Melody (6:08)

  4. Like Someone in Love (5:22) (Burke – Van Heusen)


  1. Eastern Lights (7:36)

  2. Even Dozen (4:13)

  3. Tryin’ and Cryin’ (4:59)

  4. Chicago Preferred (4:36)

All selections arranged (and all except Side 1, #4 composed) by DANIEL JACKSON

   The full, consistently swinging, exciting sound heard here is created by five young men – four of them from the West – who have seen the EASTERN LIGHTS under the leadership of the very talented LENNIE McBROWNE, they form one of the most tightly-knit new groups on the jazz scene today. Their music, hard swinging yet thoroughly melodic, seems to take advantage of the best features of both Coasts, proving once again the fallacy of saddling jazz with geographical labels. This album displays a compelling spirit of unity and mutual understanding, underlined by outstanding musicianship, and spotlights the fresh and tuneful writing of DANIEL JACKSON. Such a combination promises a very bright future for Lenny and his co-workers.

   This album marks a firm positive step towards the realization of a long-time dream for the young Brooklyn-born drummer – a dream of assembling and holding together a group of like-minded young musicians, unified not only by similar jazz concepts but by a willingness to work long and hard, if need be, to make the grade together. On today’s jazz scene, where individualism is very much the rule, to hope for a group that can not only play together but can keep itself in one piece for any length of time is extremely idealistic planning indeed. But it is beginning to look as if McBrowne’s idealism has a very good chance of paying off.

   Leonard Louis Browne was born on January 24, 1933. As a boy he learned the rudiments of drumming from his father, who had provided the beat for bands in Charleston, South Carolina, during the ‘20s. In 1951, just after he graduated from high school, a family friend presented Lenny with a full set of drums and he began serious study. His first teacher was Max Roach, who has remained an important influence. His first job was with altoist Pete Brown; then came stints at various Brooklyn clubs with Randy Weston, Cecil Payne and others; and a stay in Montreal with pianist Paul Bley’s trio. In 1956, McBrowne played with Tony Scott in New York for a while, then rejoined Bley for a college tour that eventually took him to California, where he remained until late in 1960 when, following the recording of this album, Lenny and the Sols decided to try their luck in New York.

   During his stay in California, McBrowne worked with Harold Land and with such visitors from the East as Sonny Rollins, Benny Golson and Curtis Fuller. He found working with such men and invaluable experience, but the young drummer had his heart set on forming his own group. His long-time plans along those lines began to take positive from on the night that Lenny was asked to replace a drummer for a one-shot club engagement. Young Terry Trotter was on piano with this group; the one-nighter turned into an eight-week run; and at the end of that time Terry and bass player Herbie Lewis decided to stay with Lenny. (Lewis later left the group; at the time of this recording, his place had not yet been permanently filled. The talented Jimmy bond, a Philadelphia-born, Julliard-trained bassist, is therefore the only musician heard here who is not a regular member of the group.)

   With his rhythm section set, Lenny then added Daniel Jackson, on the recommendation of tenorman Teddy Edwards. Jackson in turn recommended trumpeter Donald Sleet. Then followed a long period of daily rehearsals. Even with no promise of work in the immediate future, the group was determined to stay together – even t the point of, in some cases, turning down jobs in order to be able to continue rehearsing.  With the group and its basic repertoire knit together, the inevitable began to happen: there were a few bookings, and fellow musicians began to spread the word. Most relevantly, there were off-night stands at the Zebra Lounge in Los Angeles during the time Cannonball Adderley’s Quintet was working regularly there. Cannon listened, appreciated, and before leaving town took McBrowne and the Four Souls into the recording studio to make their Riverside debut under his auspices. . . .

   Trotter, Sleet and Jackson are all in their early twenties. But as should be clear once you listen, all three are fully in control of their instruments and ideas. Trotter, born in Los Angeles, has been playing the piano since he was six, and has worked with Teddy Edwards, Les Brown and Buddy DeFranco. Sleet and Jackson both hail from San Diego; Donald began playing at the age of ten; his fiery, swinging trumpet won awards at the Lighthouse Festival at Hermosa Beach, California in both ’56 and ’57. Jackson, something of a protégé of Harold Land, took up the tenor in high school and after four years in an Air Force band joined Lenny for what is – startlingly enough – actually his first professional job. What makes this fact so truly remarkable is than Daniel is not only a definite asset to the group as a tenor man but also carries so ably the entire writing load on this album. Except for the standard Like Someone in Love, all tunes are his compositions and all eight are scored by him! And most of these are compositions of real substance, most notably the extremely melodic Saudi, Eastern Lights and No Consideration. Also worthy of emphasis is the fact that McBrowne is a drummer-leader who does not consider this dual role as a license to dominate the group’s sound. He does drive and spur them, but only on the ironically-titled I Don’t Know the Melody (specifically written by Jackson to feature drums throughout the ensemble choruses) does he take over. The main premise here is that this is that rare creation: a truly cohesive band.

   The heading “A cannonball Adderley Presentation” designates a series of albums – of which this is the seventh – conceived, organized and supervised by the many-faced 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 LP’s, Cannonball spotlights either completely new (as in this instance) or comparatively neglected artists he finds particularly worthy of attention.

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

   Albums in the “Presentation” series include –

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

The Jazz Brothers: MANGIONE BROTHES Sextet (RLP 335 and Stereo RLP 9335)

Spellbound:  CLIFFORD JORDAN Quartet (RLP 340 and Stereo RLP 9340)

BUDD JOHNSON and the Four Brass Giants (RLP 343 and Stereo RLP 9343)




Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF

Cover and back-liner photos by WILLIAMS CLAXTON

Recording Engineer: WALLY HEIDER (United recording Studios.)

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


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

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