A Double Dose of Soul: JAMES CLAY
Nat Adderley (cnt) James Clay (fl-*, ts) Victor Feldman (vib) Gene Harris (p) Sam Jones (b) Louis Hayes (drs)
LA; October 11. 1960
New Delhi (*) (6:40) (Victor Feldman)
I Remember You (*) (6:33) (Mercer – Scherzinger)
Come Rain or Come Shine (5:36) (Mercer – Arlen)
Pockets (8:02) (Nat Adderley)
Pavanne (*) (5:57) (Victor Feldman)
Linda Serene (4:06) (Daniel Jackson)
Lost Tears (3:12) (Daniel Jackson)
The first album in Riverside’s “Cannonball Adderley Presentation” series was recorded in the Spring of 1960, and co-featured a young tenor saxophonist from Texas. This LP, made some six months later, turns that same tenor, JAMES CLAY, loose on his own for the very first time. It fortifies the initial impression that Clay is an exciting young jazz artist with a great deal to say, and clearly indicates that Adderley had made no mistake in focussing attention on James in his debut effort as a combination talent-scout-and-producer for this label.
The precious record had (except for one flute solo) concentrated on Clay’s tenor work. But as the “double dose” reference in the title suggests, this time he is given room to display fully his considerable abilities on both instruments. Clay’s tenor is lean, fervent and hard-swinging; as for flute, he reveals here a really phenomenal latent, with a rugged, full-bodied sound unlike that of any other of today’s jazz flutists.
As for the rest of the album title, the word “soul” turns up quite a bit in connection with current recordings, but its use is certainly highly accurate as a description of the funky, richly down-to-earth sound and feeling achieved by Clay and his associates here – particularly on the opening flute track, New Delhi; and on the easy-rocking Nat Adderley blues, Pockets, with Clay on tenor sax, that begins Side 2.
James Earl Clay was born on September 8, 1935 in Dallas – and whoever named Texas the “Lone Star” state obviously wasn’t thinking of jazz stars. For Clay becomes the most recent addition to a long tradition of outstanding tenormen from the big state (among them: Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, Budd Johnson, most of whom seem to share the same compelling Texas “moan” in their tone).
James studies alto in high school, and turned professional when the school band’s director started using him on jobs. After leaving school he switched to tenor and also started “fooling around” on flute, primarily because both sounds appealed to him. By 1956 he felt ready to try his luck in bigger surroundings, and decided to move to Los Angeles. He attracted immediate attention when he sat in at a local club, and only two weeks later was featured on an album put together by drummer Lawrence Marable for a West Coast label. It was a good start, but shortly thereafter a death in his family made it necessary for him to return to Dallas to support his grandmother. His impact on musicians who had heard him, however, was strong and not easily forgotten. When Cannonball, one of those who had been there to listen, brought him to Riverside’s attention, his latent and potential was unmistakeable, and he was quickly signed to a long-term contract. Then, in the Fall of ’60, when a & r man Orrin Keepnews made a multi-album recording trip to the West Coast, Clay was brought back there to make his disc debut as a leader.
Although Western-made, this album takes full advantage of the presence there, at the time, of several notable Eastern-based musicians. Two-third of the rhythm section is from the Cannonball Addelrey Quintet: the firm and consistently swinging team of Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. On piano is the fleet, melodic Gene Harris, key member of “The Three Sounds.”
Vic Feldman, British-born vibist, pianist and composer, more recently active on the West Coast and still more recently a member of the Adderley group, is one of those who have been Clay fans since ’56. His offer to contribute two tunes to the record date helped lead to the “double dose” instrumental alignment here. Feldman is heard on vibes on the three selections on which Clay plays flute – Vic’s two originals, the earthy New Delhi and the lyrical Pavanne; and a dazzlingly agile up-tempo version of the standard I Remember You. On the other four selections, on which Clay plays tenor, he is teamed with the brilliant cornetist Nat Adderley. They interweave on Nat’s blues line, alternate on a lightly swinging treatment of Harold Arlen’s Come Rain or Come Shine, and close the album with two originals by a talented young California writer, Daniel Jackson (himself a highly promising tenorman with Lenny McBrowne and the Four Soul – a young group also discovered for Riverside by Cannonball).
Clay’s first Riverside appearance was on –
Sound of the Wide Open Spaces: JAMES CLAY and DAVID ‘FATHEAD’ NEWMAN (RLP 12-324; Stereo 1178)
Clay is also featured, together with Vic Feldman, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes, on –
Movin’ along: WES MONTGOMERY (RLP 342; Stereo 9342)
Nat Adderley, Jones and Hayes can be heard on the best-selling CANNONBALL ADDERLEY QUINTET LPs
(the first listed also includes Feldman on piano) –
At the Lighthouse (RLP 344; Stereo 9344)
Them Dirty Blues: (RLP 12-322; Stereo 1170)
In San Francisco (RLP 12-311; Stereo 1157)
Nat and Sam lead groups on such LPs as –
Branching Out: NAT ADDERLEY, with Gene Harris, Johnny Griffin (RLP 12-285)
NAT ADDERLEY and The Big Sax Section (RLP 330; Stereo 9330)
The Soul Society: SAM JONES, WITH Blue Mitchell, Nat Adderley (RLP 12-324; Stereo 1172)
Produced by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Notes by CHRIS ALBERTSON
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photos by WILLIAM CLAXTON
Recording Engineer: WALLY HEIDER (United Recording 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.