The Revelation: ROOSEVELT WARDELL Trio
Roosevelt Wardell (p) Sam Jones (b) Louis Hayes (drs)
LA; October 5, 1960
1.Like Someone in Love (6:10) (Burke – Van Heusen)
2.Lazarus (4:34) (Roosevelt Wardell)
3.Autumn in New York (5:07) (Vernon Duke)
4.Max the Maximum (4:37) (Roosevelt Wardell)
1.Elijah Is Here (6:59) (Roosevelt Wardell)
2.Willow Weep for Me (4:47) (Ann Ronnell)
3.Cherokee (4:12) (Ray Noble)
4.The Revelation (4:52) (Yusef Salim)
This album marks the jazz record debut (but not, as it turns out, the first appearance on records) of an exciting and unusual young artist. The unveiling of the varied piano skills of ROOSEVELT WARDELL are certainly appropriately described by a word like “revelation” – but that’s not the only reason why such a term is fitting here. For anyone who happens to remember hearing a young rhythm-and-blues singer of the same name on records or in such places as Harlem’s Apollo Theater in the early 1950s is apt to find it a shock, or at the very least a “revelation”, to learn that this is the very same performer.
Perhaps the first person to recognize Roosevelt’s potential as a pianist (and to start hi on the road form one career to another he finds vastly more satisfying) was Cannonball Adderley. Back in 1953, while Cannonball was in the Army and stationed at Fort Knox, Wardell was singing and “occasionally played some piano” in nearby Louisville. “He was more than adequate even then,” Adderley recalls, “and I sympathized with him as I did with all those who were basically jazzmen but were forced to play that way to make a living.” Cannonball, who was then a teacher with the band-training unit at Fort Knox and member of an Army band that included his brother Nat and trombonist Curtis Fuller, suggested that Wardell (who was likely to be drafted soon in any case) join the Army, where he could play with some good musicians and have a chance to develop his jazz talents. Roosevelt took the advice, and through special arrangements soon found himself playing in the Fort Knox band (although, as it happened, Cannonball had in the meantime received his discharge!).
Wardell was born in Baltimore on August 17, 1933. When he met up with Adderley, he had already had some success in clubs and on records in the r & b field. But after Army service, Roosevelt felt firmly committed to the piano, even though it was still not always possible to stay completely in the jazz idiom. In 1955 he toured with Bull Moose Jackson’s band, then played with Max Roach for a while, and joined blues-shouter Joe Turner’s band in ’57. Wardell again crossed Cannonball’s path from time to time during this period, and occasionally sat in with the Adderley group.
Finally, 1960 found the pianist in Los Angeles, working with Dexter Gordon in the on-stage band featured in the West Coast version of the play “The Connection.” When Cannonball’s quintet played in L. A. in the Fall of that year, the alt star once again heard him. Deciding that Wardell was now ready, Adderley quickly arranged for the recording of this album. Given free choice as to sidemen, Roosevelt soundly elected to surround himself with he rhythm core of Adderley’s own group, the thoroughly swinging combination of Sam Jones and Louis Hayes.
Operating with this firm backing. Wardell offers a program evenly divided between standards and originals. The apparent influences on his style are equally varied: knowledgeable advance listeners have dropped names as far-ranging and self-contradictory as Bud Powell. Thelonious Monk, Carl Perkins and Oscar Peterson. No one, however, intended to suggest that Wardell’s playing is derivative: his fleet approach swings in a way all its own, at times highly melodic, at others hard-driving, and consistently interesting and most promising.
The title tune was written by a Baltimore friend of Wardell’s, while the other three originals are his own compositions, demonstrating an intriguing and unconventional ability as a writer. As for titles like Lazarus, Max the Maximum, and Eljahh Is Here, the soft-spoken Wardell considers their meanings to be personal, and offers no explanations. Actually, his only direct comment concerning this album was a quiet disclosure that he pretty much likes the way it had turned out. “Nice, very nice,” he admitted, which is likely to be by far the least enthusiastic reaction his work will receive!
The heading “A Cannonball Adderley Presentation” designates a series of albums – of which this is the eighth – conceived, organized and supervised by the many-faceted Julian Adderley, already known as a major instrumentatlist, 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 (as in the present case) or comparatively neglected artists he considers to be particularly worthy of attention.;
Precious albums in this series include –
Eastern Lights: Lenny McBrowne and The Four Souls (RLP 346; Stereo 9346)
Budd Johnson and The Four Brass Giants (RLP 343; Stereo 9343)
Spellbound: Clifford Jordan Quartet (RLP 340; Stereo 9340)
The Jazz Brothers; Mangione Brothers Sextet (RLP 335; Stereo 9335)
The Texas Twister: Don Wilkerson (RLP 332; Stereo 1186)
Dick Morgan at The Showboart (RLP 329; Stereo 1183)
Sound of the Wide Open Spaces: James Clay and David “Father” Newman (RLP 327; Stereo 1178)
Produced by JULIAN “CANNONBALL” ADDERLEY
Notes written by CHRIS ALBERTSON
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photos by WILLIM CLAXTON
Recording Engineer: WALLY HEIDER (United Recording Studios)
Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDORFED lathe.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.