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Sweet and Soulful Sounds: BOBBY TIMMONS

Bobby Timmons (p) Sam Jones (b) Roy McCurdy (drs) (*indicates unaccompanied piano solo)


  1. 1. The Sweetest Sounds (4:56) (Richard Rodgers)

  2. 2. Turn Left (5:26) (Bobby Timmons)

  3. 3. God Bless the Child (*) (5:01) (Herzog – Holiday)

  4. 4. You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To (4:35) (Cole Porter)


  1. 1. Another Live One (4:10) (Bobby Timmons)

  2. 2. Alone Together (5:59) (Dietz – Schwartz)

  3. 3. Spring Can Really Hank You Up The Most (*) (3:38) (Landesman – Wolf)

  4. 4. Why Was I Born? (5:49) (Hammerstein – Kern)

   A danger for both listener and musician is the tendency of some of the former to relegate some of the latter to one “bag,” draw the string, and think about them only in that way. And when a musician gets one or two hits firmly associated with a specific style, it makes the pigeon-holding that much easier, whether it be deserved or not. Such has been the case with BOBBY TIMMONS, but as this album should help to prove, it doesn’t pay to take a narrow view of his abilities.

   Originally, when Timmons came to New York from Philadelphia at the age of nineteen, he was very much a Bud Powell devotee. Those of us who heard him with Kenny Dorham, Chet Baker, Sonny Stitt, and Maynard Ferguson were impressed with his long-lined offerings. Later, when he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, he brought fourth Moanin’; and while with Cannonball Adderley he produced This Here. Both were in the gospel-blues vein, and each helped the establish the image of Bobby as a pianist and composer strictly in the “soul” groove. But while it is true that his style had undergone changes in keeping with his emphasis on that material, he is not a man to be easily – or accurately – type-cast.

   Since venturing forth as leader of a trio of his own. Bobby has had greater opportunity to demonstrate an ability to perform a variety of material in different moods and manners. This album offers an excellent cross-section. There is swift playing in the Powell manner (by now more tempered with Timmons’s own inflections) on Cole Porter’s You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To and Jerome Kern’s Why Was I Born?  The latter’s melody is phrased in a personal and very fresh way, and the solos on both are full of clear-headed, cleanly-articulated lines that pulse with a strong inner spirit. The two funky Timmons originals, Turn Left and Another Live One, are not heavily done. Another Live one, in particular, is a delightfully sunny, bouncy blues.

   Something almost entirely new for Timmons are the accompanied ballads, God Bless the Child and Spring Can Really Hank You Up the Most. He did have a brief one-man track – it was Lush Life – in his very first album, but these two selections play a much more important role in this set, and display a much more definite and distinctive approach to the art of solo piano. The freedom from strict meter leads to some of the most relaxed piano Bobby has ever put on tape. The introduction on the Billie Holiday-associated God Bless the Child is particularly lovely. Another ballad, Alone Together, is done in tempo and with rhythm support, but it too has its tender moments, as well as many that swing compellingly in a loping, medium groove.

   The opening track, the number from which this collection derives most of its title, is the stand-out tune from Richard Rodgers “No Strings.” But in doing so, he still manages to retain much of its sweet sadness – which is pretty much a characteristic Timmons blend of moods.

   This trio is not the one he has been working with, but its members get along very well together. Of course, Sam Jones was the pianist’s team-mate in Cannonball’s quintet and has recorded with him on other Riverside occasions. Roy McCurdy, who was first with the Jazz Brothers and then with the Jazztet, is one of our brightest young drummers. As such, he fits in beautifully with Bobby and Sam, whether on sticks or brushes. His solo on Why Was I Born? Is a delight in its construction and taste.

   Leonard Feather, in “The New Encyclopedia of Jazz”, remarked that “Timmons reflects the intelligent absorption of a variety of modern influences.” That was written in 960, before Bobby had moved from Adderley back to Blakey and then formed his own group. The absorption is even more complete by now, and as a result of working as a leader, his approach is more polished, versatile and thoroughly pianistic – certainly a deft combination of “Sweet and Soulful Sounds.”


   Other Riverside albums by Timmons include –

This Here Is Bobby Timmons (RLP 317; Stereo 1164)

Soul Time – with Art Blakey, Blue Mitchell (RLP 334; Stereo 9334)

Easy Does It (RLP 363; Stereo 9363)

The Bobby Timmons Trio in Person – recorded ‘live’ at The Village Vanguard (RLP 391; Stereo 9391)

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Recording Engineer: RAY FOWLER (recorded at Plaza Sound Studios, New York City)

Album design: KEN DEARDOFF

Back-liner photo by STEVE SCHAPIRO

235 West 46th Street New York City 36, New York

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