LET THERE BE LIFE, LOVE & LAUGHTER / GREEN-HEYMAN-SOUR: Body and Soul / Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, t-sax; Rein de Graaff, pn; Koos Seriese, bs / GOLSON: Stablemates / Dexter Gordon, t-sax; Rob Agerbeek, pn; Henk Haverhoek, bs / BEST: Wee / Johnny Griffin, t-sax; de Graaff, pn; Seriese, bs / HENDERSON-DIXON: Bye Bye Blackbird / Grant Stewart, Sjoerd Dijkhulzen, t-sax; Rob van Bavel, pn; Marius Beets, bs / WEILL: Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter / David Liebman, John Ruocco, t-sax; Beets, bs / JORDAN: Prayer to the People / Clifford Jordan, t-sax; de Graaff, pn; Seriese, bs / DAMERON: Lady Bird / Lucky Thompson, t-sax; Rob Madna, pn; Ruud Jacobs, bs / CARPENTER: Walkin’ / George Coleman, t-sax; Agerbeek, pn; Rob Langereis, bs / Eric Ineke, dm on all tracks / Daybreak DBCHR 75226
This is one of those sort-of-gimmick albums where a specific musician, in this case drummer Eric Ineke (who I had not heard of before), is heard jamming with different lead musicians on different occasions. Part of the gimmick is also that the star tenor saxists on each track dominate the solo space, so much so that the various soloists—and drummer Ineke—are just heard as backup players. Fortunately, most of them are so good that it scarcely makes much of a difference. The album’s title could just as well have been Great Tenor Players featuring Eric Ineke, The Guy on Drums for all the difference it makes.
The music is straightahead jazz, nothing fancy or innovative, and Ineke appears to be a competent timekeeper if not a front-rank jazz drummer. He tends to splash the cymbals a bit too much and in places where their sound is inappropriate, but he keeps good time and is an OK player. As I said, the stars of this show are definitely the horn players, although pianist Rein de Graaff gets to uncork a blistering solo on Denzil Best’s Wee that is just spectacular.
Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis is the first up, from a late-period session in 1984, and he is at his steamy, smoldering best on Body and Soul. Dexter Gordon, who had an enormous reputation but for me was never as interesting a player as Wardell Gray or Lucky Thompson, two of his contemporaries, plays a typically nice solo on Benny Golson’s Stablemates. But it’s really Johnny Griffin who pushes the heat up in his spectacular version of Wee from 1990. What fire, and what great ideas!
Grant Stewart plays a very nice solo on Bye Bye Blackbird that gets more and more complex and interesting as it goes along, yet never indulges in “outside” jazz. Pianist Rob van Bavel plays a solo on this, but it doesn’t really become creative until the third chorus when he really goes to town on it. There’s a second tenor saxist on this one, unidentified on the CD insert but there’s a photo of him with Stewart inside the booklet. His name is Sjoerd Dijkhulzen, and he basically just plays some counterpoint to Stewart in the last chorus. David Liebman plays a wonderful scalar solo on the title track, which also contains a second tenor player, this time identified as John Ruocco. I’ve never heard of him. For what it’s worth, he’s an old white guy with a bald head and gray hair on the sides, and his solo is really terrific…or maybe the tenor solos are reversed, and it’s Liebman who comes up second? Who knows these things? Certainly, the CD producer doesn’t bother to tell us!
The wonderful Clifford Jordan is heard on his own tune, Prayer to the People, playing a very relaxed groove. But I can listen to Jordan play tenor all day; he’s always interesting as well as comfortable to hear. De Graaff plays a pleasant piano solo on this one. Even better, however, is the remarkable Lucky Thompson, heard here from 1968. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Lucky Thompson solo I didn’t like or wasn’t thrilled by. Why is he still such an underrated tenor player? Surprisingly, Ineke also plays very well on this track, too.
The album concludes with the famous tune Walkin’ made famous by Miles Davis, although Ineke’s band was apparently the first to play it way back in the early 1950s. Here it acts as a vehicle for tenor saxist George Coleman who is on fire, moving from idea to idea with ease and a seemingly inexhaustible musical imagination. He deconstructs the tune, spits it out in little BBs of notes, puts it back together, then takes it apart in different ways. A bit of bebop here, a touch of R&B there, and voilà, you have an omelet made with a couple of extra eggs and a splash of hot sauce! It’s a great conclusion to an overall fine album.
—© 2017 Lynn René Bayley