Blues Holiday: PAUL SERRANO Quintet
Paul Serrano (tp) Bunky Green (as) Jodie Christian (p) Don Garrett (b) Pete La Roca (drs)
Chicago; November 8, 1960
Me, Too (6:26) (Paul Serrano)
Dream of Igor (8:18) (Richard Abrams)
Blues Holiday (4:51) (Jodie Christian)
Little Niles (4:02) (Randy Weston)
Mr. Lucky (5:52) (Henry Mancini)
Everything’s Coming Up Roses (8:09) (Sondheim – Styne)
This album introduces a group of young, exciting modern jazz musicians – unheralded, to be sure, but creative and hard-swinging professionals, as vibrant as any you’ll ever hear anywhere. Paul Serrano is their leader. He, like most of the group, is from Chicago. Paul’s twenty-eight years include a wealth of musical experience, for he has been on the Chicago scene for a dozen years. Having known him all that time (he made his debut at session sI conducted at the Roosevelt University Jazz Club), it is with particular pride and pardonable enthusiasm that I relate his tale to you, his potential fans:
Serrano’s experience has been amazingly varied, including the Chicago Civic Symphony, Woody Herman’s and Tony Pastor’s orchestras, blues and Latin bands, accompaniment to such pop vocalists as Billy Eckstine and Vic Damone – plus work with his own quintet, which has appeared at most of the top spots in Chicago: the Fate of Horn. Sutherland Lounge, Birdhouse, Cloisters.
Such experience is of course valuable only because it is superimposed on rich natural talent. Cannnoball, whose ears seem to be always open to new talent, heard about Paul and more importantly, during an engagement in Chicago in 1960, heard him in action with this group. Their readiness for the record date Adderley quickly proposed was immediately evident in the studio, where this album was taped in high spirits, in a near-record minimum of time, and in very few “takes.” (Special plaudits are due to Pete LaRoca, in town from New York, who filled in so brilliantly on one-day’s notice when the quintet’s regular drummer was unexpectedly unavailable.)
Sharing horn honors with Serrano on this Blues Holiday is a most promising 27-year-old alto player from Milwaukee, Vernice “Bunky” Green, whose background includes a year-and-a half stint with Charlie Mingus (1956-57) and much recent big-band lead and solo work with Chicagoan Red Saunders. He also led his own quintet. Bunky’s personal saxophone favorites include Sonnys Rollins and Stitt and John Coltrane, but Bunky insists that his major influence is piano great Bud Powell. The rhythm section is captained by Jodie Christian, who has been playing since his ‘teens, which was in 1948. He has worked locally with Art Farmer, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Griffin, Rollins and Wilbur Ware, and has recorded with Chet Baker and Stan Getz. Bassist Don Garrett took part in a recent two-bass experiment by working alongside Reggie Workman with the John Coltrane group at the Sutherland. His very strong beat and adventurous solo style has been heard with such as Hawkins, Griffin and Gene Ammons.
It is this personnel that takes on the six selections that make up this album. Side 1 is all originals, starting with Paul’s Me, Too, which opens with an infectious back-beat and features a solo in which Paul exhibits a warmth of tone that reminds me of the much-underrated trumpeter, Red Rodney. The quiet, but pace-maintaining drive of Christian’s piano solo is also notable. To me, the outstanding original contribution to this set is pianist Richard Abrams’ Dream of Igor. Of unusually long (56 bars) construction, it has the feeling of a minor blues, although Richard tells me it’s not a blues at all. Paul’s solo is (if you’ll permit me) simple, soulful and searing. There are no unnecessary frills or technical display, just a laying-into the tune for all its worth. Bunky, on the other hand, is equally effective by flying in at double-time, right into today’s groove. The title tune, Jodie’s Blues Holiday, picks up the tempo and gives all a chance to display their most hard-swinging tendencies – especially Bunky, who gets that loose, free-sounding feeling most musicians strive for a d few attain; and the composer, whose concise touch and impeccable time keep things well lifted, and lilting.
Randy Weston’s celebrated and intriguing jazz waltz, Little Niles, begins the second side in a minor-mystical mood. The channel of this tune in particular provides food for thought for all the soloists, with Paul’s fat-sounding lower register prominent. TV’s Mr. Lucky is given a muted opening by Serrano, setting up a mood into which Bunky strides with sureness. A quick latin intro and the quintet is off and running with their final offering, Everything’s Coming Up Roses, in which Bunky, Paul and then Jodie build their successive solos to successive pitches of excitement, after which LaRoca’s muscular drum break takes everyone into an out-chorus that finally fades into the night.
If this album has a moral, it is course that good jazz is where you find it – even if you have never preciously had a chance to discover it at this particular address. Paul Serrano and his colleagues will, at least, never again be unknowns to you . And if luck is with them, you’ll be hearing a lot more from them, and perhaps their particular jazz virtues will gain their deserved reward. I certainly hope so.
The heading “A Cannonball Adderley Presentation” designates a series of albums – of which this is the ninth – conceived, organized and supervised by the many-facedted Julian Adderley, already known as a major instrumentalist, leader of a top-ranked quintet, and incisive and articulate writer on jazz subjects and highly perceptive judge of jazz talent. On these LPs, Cannonball spotlights either completely new or comparatively neglected artists he finds particularly worthy of attention.
Riverside is proud to be able to present Adderley, one of our most distinguished recording stars, in this unusual and uniquely valuable role.
Previous albums in this series include:
BUDD JOHNSON and The Four Brass Giants (RLP 343; Stereo RLP 9343)
Eastern Lights: LENNIE McBROWNE and THE FOUR SOULS (RLP 346; Stereo RLP 9346)
The Revelation: ROOSEVELT WARDELL Trio (RLP 350; Stereo RLP 9350)
Produced by LULIAN “CANNONBALL” ADDERLEY
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photographs by DON BRONSTEIN
Recorded at Universal Recording Studios
Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York 36, New York