Hank Crawford (as, p, arr), Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt (tp), David Fathead Newman (ts), Leroy 'Hog' Cooper (bs), Edgar Willis (b), Milt Turner, Bruno Carr (d), Ray Charles (arr)
Reference: FSRCD 685
Bar code: 8427328606851
This inspired and talented group under the leadership of altoist/arranger Hank Crawford, is the Ray Charles band, minus Ray. But it is also a striking unit in its own right. The big-little-band sound on these two exciting albums, "More Soul" and "The Soul Clinic," is compellingly arranged and orchestrated, equally arresting on incendiary, swinging up-tempo performances as it is on blues-drenched ballads. And it provides a frame for notably lyrical and melodic soloists.
The result is a joyous blend combining order and vitality in equal measure. Crawford who also plays piano, when it is heardis revealed as a moving and beautifully singing post-Bird alto player whose highly vocalized horn displays an instinctive understanding of structure and the tension-release qualities of good jazz.
And, while bearing a relationship to what became known as "Soul" music, it is also a reaffirmation of the validity of the original concept of that feeling. Remarkably, given the way that jazz and blues suffused its DNA, the unique voice of this gripping Ray Charles smallband operated only in concert or dance halls, outside the jazz club circuit.
"More Soul is Hank Crawford's first album as a leader, issued in 1960 while in the Ray Charles band. Leading a septet on a debut is am ambitious feat, but in Crawford's case, it is also an impressive one. The material is sweet, signing and deftly played by an ensemble that includes David "Fathead" Newman on tenor, Leroy "Hog" Cooper on baritone, and a brass section that features John Hunt and Philip Guilbeau. Edgar Willis plays bass and drummer Milt Turner rounds out the proceedings. The material is swinging, front-ended, soul-inflected hard bop with tunes arranged by Crawford -- the lone exception being James Moody's "The Story" (one of two selections by him here) charted by Charles. The union of blues, soul and swing as evidenced by the group's read of the nugget "Angel Eyes," or Bobby Timmons' and Oscar Brown's "Dat Dere," or Crawford's own "Four Five Six" established a signature for the saxophonist, one that he has kept at the forefront of his sound for over 40 years. Crawford's tone as a soloist is sweet yet edgy and raw, full of emotion and warmth. If the material is basic, it nonetheless is timeless and More Soul sounds as true and blue in the 21st century as it did when it was released."
—Thom Jurek (All Music Guide)