It’s Time for DAVE PIKE
Dave Pike (vib) Barry Harris (p) Reggie Workman (b) Billy Higgins (drs)
(Little Girl Blue is an unaccompanied vibes solo.)
New York City; January 30 and February 9, 1961
Cheryl (5:02) (Charlie Parker)
On Green Dolphin Street (5:44) (Washington – Kaper)
It’s Time (5:40) (Dave Pike)
Hot House (4:08) (Tadd Dameron)
Forward (5:14) (Dave Pike)
Solar (3:14) (Miles Davis)
Little Girl Blue (3:55) (Rodgers and Hart)
Tendin’ to Business (5:04) (Don Cherry)
The intensity with which young DAVE PIKE approaches the vibes seems to me so compelling and over-whelming that it surely can almost be felt – like a ghost at a séance that cannot be seen or touched, but is nevertheless so convincing a presence that you’re ready to sear it’s definitely there. Having watched Dave at work, I considered the possibility that I was assuming too much in feeling that this aura of vivid excitement comes through clearly on a recording. But a couple of judicious advance experiments with listeners who had never seen him in action convinced me that all that spirit and energy are really audible, and almost tangible, here.
All this has very little to do with tempo as such. There are a couple f really up numbers on this LP, but the vitality and intensity are equally in evidence on a ballad. Pike is an unfailing swinger, but swinging is not synonymous with speed, and is apt to be more hard-won and valuable at slower tempos. Dave is a man of action and movement, though, one of those players who seems always on a verge of overflowing the bounds of his instrument. I recall a record date a few years back on which Art Blakey (one of the very greatest “men of action” in jazz), despite all the drum surface available to him, was impelled during a solo to rake a few swipes at a metal ashtray standing nearby. In the same way, if you listen closely, you’ll hear the couple of spots where Pike actually strikes the frame of the vibes. But as with that Blakey solo, there was never any thought of not using the ‘take’, never any feeling that this was “wrong” playing.
Pike is by no means a percussionist of the vibes, however. Despite all his overt swing, there is far less Hampton than Milt Jackson in his conception – and really far less of any other vibist than of the two men he has always listened to most closely: Bud Powell and Charlie Parker. He is, then, as all young musicians should be and only to few are, well o his way to being his own man.
Dave is another of the long list of talented young jazz artists who can claim Detroit as hometown, having been born here on March 23, 1938. But he was strictly a schoolboy drummer there (starting at age 8). It was not until after he moved to California in 1954 that he followed up a desire to turn to a more melodic instrument by teaching himself to play vibes. Like many others, Pike found himself a working musician without quite realizing it had happened: he played a variety of jobs (dances, bar mitzvahs, rock ‘n roll”) first played jazz professionally with an L. A. group called, “The Jazz Couries,” and in ’57 joined pianist Paul Bley’s group. During a year with Bley and in brief stints with Buddy DeFranco and with Elmo Hope, he attracted a good deal of local attention. But, as Dave notes: “Everyone has to come to New York when it’s time – or even before then, if possible.” So in the Summer of 196 he arrived in the big city with his vibes and $5, and after a few rough months, landed a job with Herbie Mann’s Afro-style group.
Barry Harris was most insistent about bringing Dave to our attention, and the first time we listened it was easy enough to understand Barry’s enthusiastic emphasis on Dave’s fantastic ability to swing. The enthusiasm works both ways: Dave considers Barry one of the very best (an opinion strongly shared at Riverside) and a brilliantly helpful spearhead for a rhythm section. That section here is completed by the highly promising bassist, Reggie Workman; and Billy Higgins, Los Angeles-born drummer who was a New Star choice in the 1960 Down Beat Critics Poll.
Pike contributes two original tunes to this first album: the hard-charging Forward and a moody ballad called It’s Time. There’s also a blues by Dave’s friend Don Cherry (Ornette Coleman’s colleague). Otherwise the repertoire stresses works by three modern-jazz giants: opening with the Charlie Parker blues Cheryl, and also including Tadd Dameron’s driving bop classic, Hot House, and Miles Dais’ wonderfully melodic Sollar. Green Dolphin Street, which began life as part of the score of a Lana Turner movie and has since been upgraded to something of a jazz staple, is given a lightly swinging treatment that opens with a solo vibes chorus. And the standard Little Girl Blue is entirely a vibes-only number, something that has never been done before on records. (Pike feels strongly about the musical freedom involved in such unaccompanied playing, and he does display a markedly different touch and sound when working alone.)
Harris is also featured on two LPs of his own –
BARRY HARRIS at The Jazz Workshop (RLP 326; Stereo RLP 1177)
Preminado: BARRY HARRIS Trio (RLP 354; Stereo 9354)
Produced and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photographs by LAWRENCE SHSTAK
Recording Engineer: RAY FOWLER
Recorded at Plaza Sound 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 City