Bearcat : Clifford Jordan Quartet
Clifford Jordan (ts) Cedar Walton (p) Teddy Smith (b) J. C. Moses (drs)
Plaza Sound Studios, NYC; Dec. 28, 1961 & Jan. 10, 1962
Bearcat (4:56) JLP(S9)-69
Dear Old Chicago (5:26) -
How Deep Is the Ocean? (5:01) -
The Middle of the Block (5:03) -
You Better Leave It Alone (5:57) -
Malice Towards None (5:58) -
Out-House (5:29) -
Bearcat yes, lone wolf no.
On this album Clifford Jordan delightfully proves his ability to converse musically with friends and to add his thoughts without stiffing anyone else’s .
The most marked characteristic of this recording is unity … a union achieved not through the submission of others to the leader but a union of men who have thought it over and realized that ‘yes-that’s-the-way-they’ve-been-feeling-too’.
The result is a well-arranged, well-thought, swinging session, pulsating with the urgency of an increasingly upbeat and exciting exchange.
Clifford Jordan has talked with others in the past few years. He has worked with such as J. J. Johnson, Horace Silver, Kenny Dorham, and Max Roach. But this time he and his quartet are talking almost exclusively about his music. This record offers five of Cliff’s own compositions:
Bearcat is a musical profile of wrestler friend, Bearcat Wright. While Cliff’s tenor speaks of Bearcat’s 6 feet 7 inches, Cedar Walton’s piano subtly gives all the reasons why Bearcat is a friend. (Hearing this engaging portrait, I look forward to the inevitable characterization by Clifford of his across-the-hall neighbor, poetess Marianne Moore.)
Dear Old Chicago is a waltz that doesn’t fool me. Clifford was born and raised in Chicago; I wasn’t. But I know that no city could be that genteel,, that ladylike. I got an impression of Carl Sandburg’s Maggie sent off to finishing school and now returning. Cedar’s efforts throughout suggest a romantic who has been taken in by the coquette, but J. C. Keeps hinting that he remembers how tough the original Maggie was. Frankly, this is one of my favorite tracks and I would like to see all of America dancing to it.
The middle of the Block has none of Chicago in it. This tune is a native New Yorker, with the pace of a faster and faster walk to a very important engagement. This track in particular is a beautiful example of the unity of four men going the same way. The drive here is propelled by J. C. and includes a particularly felicitous solo, but it is Cliff’s horn that gets to the elevator first.
Neither Chicagoans or New Yorkers would be likely to be dancing to You Better Leave It Along. It would be more like staggering. This is a traditional blues, embellished by Cliff’s sense of humor; it is a step-by-step, mental and physical, progress down the street of a man who has over-in-dulged. The group gets the proper inebriate feeling, with Clifford’s horn giving us the unsteady flexing of the knees every few steps.
Out-House is an excellent example of the freedom that comes from feeling you’re among friends, and that anything goes. In this case it is a freedom that begins with creation and ends with the created – that which is created is the completeness of the tune.
The non-Jordan tunes are favorites of the leader. One isa poignant version of the old Irving Berlin ballad, How Deep is the Ocean. The other, a tune often played by Cliff on jobs, is the beautiful Malice Towards None by trombonist Tom McIntosh. He usually plays it somewhat faster, but on this occasion has chosen to deliver its message movingly and with conviction – a mood that begins with Cedar’s opening passage. Perhaps, along with me, you will set your needle back several times to pick up that lovely opening
… All this was the result of a musical conversation, and it abounds with mutual respect, understanding, and intelligence. It is the conversation of Clifford and Cedar, who have worked together many times and who clamor to praise each other as the “musician growing faster than anyone in the business.” It is a dialogue with Teddy Smith, a twenty-nine years Washingtonian who is relatively new to New York. Playing base since 1953, he has been in the big city for only a year. It was while working with Freddie Redd that he first teamed up musically with J. C. Moses, who has been here from Pittsburgh since December of 1959. J. C. said that he’s trouble finding New York musicians who understand his free motion, his particular concept of the drive that a drummer must give a group. Happily, in this group he has found men who agree with him.
This album, then, is one conversation about cabbages and kings or which I invite you to eavesdrop. BARBARA LONG
Jordan is featured on two previous Jazzland LPs –
A Story Tale: Clifford Jordan and Sonny Red (JLP-40; Stereo 940)
Starting Time: Clifford Jordan; with Kenny Dorham, Cedar Walton (JLP-52; Stereo 952)
Produced by Orrin Keepnews. Recording Engineer: Ray Fowler. (Recorded and Mastered at Plaza Sound Studios.)
Album design: Ken Deardoff. backliner photos by Steve Schapiro.
This recording is available in both stereophonic (JLP-969) and monaural (JLP-69) form.
JAZZLAND RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, INC.
235 West 46th Street New York City 36, New York.