Charlie Rouse (ts), Blue Mitchell (tp), Billy Gardner, Gildo Mahones, Earl May, Walter Bishop Jr. (p), Peck Morrison, Reggie Workman (b), Dave Bailey, Art Taylor (d)
Reference: FSRCD 700
Bar code: 8427328607001
Despite a decade as an important member of Thelonious Monks high-profile quartet, Seattle-born Charlie Rouse (1924-1988) remained somewhat taken for granted. It was partly due to his consistency; as a soloist his work was wellordered, interesting and melodic. But it was also because, although influenced by Ben Webster and Charlie Parker, he was essentially a more understated player than either, though no less warm and, in his own way, just as individual.
His gifts were appreciated by leaders as disparate as Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Tadd Dameron and Count Basie, and when he came to make his debut as sole leader in 1960 with Takin Care of Business, it was clear why. A lovely ballad player, he was equally at home on the blues and uptempo pieces, characteristics also demonstrated on the quartet performances of Yeah! and We Paid Our Dues!, and on the live album, Getting Into Somethin with drummer Dave Baileys sextet. Regardless of tempo, he was always a rhythmically acute, swinging and thoughtful storyteller and the story he told was his own.
"Tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse is best known for his work with Thelonious Monk, playing with the enigmatic pianist and composer during Monk's Columbia years from 1959 until 1970. Rouse's sound with Monk was so fluid and smooth that's it's easy to forget how many eccentric, jagged turns he had to navigate night after night, and that Rouse did it with quiet, steady grace is a testament both to his sax playing and to the space Monk built into his puzzle box compositions. Rouse headed up few sessions on his own as a bandleader, but as this calm, workmanlike set, recorded in 1960 and originally released in 1961 on Epic Records, clearly shows, he could rise to the occasion. Working with a rhythm section of Dave Bailey on drums, Peck Morrison on bass, and Billy Gardner on piano (this was actually Gardner's debut in a recording studio), Rouse's sax lines seem to float effortlessly over the top of things, feeling less urgent and angular than his work with Monk. Highlights include the opener, "You Don't Know What Love Is," the Gardner composition "Billy's Blues," and the pretty ballad, "(There Is No) Greater Love," that closes things out. It's all very pleasant, falling to the easy side of the hard bop spectrum with very few rough edges or surprises. Rouse arguably was at his best as a solid supporting player, but this session has its moments, and it shows a more romantic, gliding side to Rouse than was usually on display with Monk."
Steve Leggett -All Music Guide
-Takin' Care of Business!
"Charlie Rouse's debut as a leader (not counting his earlier work co-leading Les Jazz Modes with the great French horn player Julius Watkins) was made for Jazzland. The distinctive tenor saxophonist, who had just started a decade-long stint as a member of the Thelonious Monk Quartet, teams up with trumpeter Blue Mitchell, pianist Walter Bishop, Jr., bassist Earl May, and drummer Art Taylor. Together they perform straight-ahead material including Rouse's own uptempo "Upptankt," the standard "They Didn't Believe Me," and songs by Mitchell, Kenny Drew, and Randy Weston. A fine modern mainstream jam session-flavored set."
Scott Yanow -All Music Guide
-Dave Bailey's Gettin' Into Somethin'
"This LP was the second of three dates led by drummer Dave Bailey for Epic in the early '60s, all of which were recorded live in the studio with an invited audience. His supporting cast is a potent one, with trumpeter and flugelhornist Clark Terry, tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist Horace Parlan, and bassist Peck Morrison. This blowing session starts off with a foot-patting blues by Terry, the amusingly titled "Slop Jah." Terry co-wrote "Little Old Mongoose" with Archie Moore (the light heavyweight boxing champion who was also a musician and jazz fan); this up-tempo swinger features Terry's excellent muted solo and a carousing effort by Rouse, too. Terry also composed the brisk "Evad Smurd" (an anagram of "Dave Drums"), which seems to be a well-disguised reworking of "Oh, Lady Be Good"; Bailey actually takes a series of drum breaks, which is rare for him since he prefers time keeping to the solo spotlight. An extended workout of Horace Parlan's "Blues for J.P." has great solos all around, as well as Terry at first on flugelhorn and later on trumpet."
Ken Dryden -All Music Guide
One of the great creative tenors.