Howard McGhee (tp), Gene Ammons (ts), Jimmy Jones (p), Phil Porter (org), Jake Fisher (g), Ron Carter, Larry Ridley, Barney Richmond (b), Art Taylor, Dave Bailey, Willie Mashburn (d), Waco (bongos)
Reference: FSRCD 796
Bar code: 8427328607964
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A contemporary of Dizzy Gillespie, Howard McGhee (1918-1987) was one of the most stimulating trumpeters of the bop era. Although personal problems sidelined him for part of the 50s, his great experience compensated for much of the time lost when he made his comeback in the early 60s. In fact, on Nobody Knows You When Youre Down and Out, recorded in 1962, McGhee sounds even better than before - engaging and emotional without compromising his strength while supported by two excellent rhythm sections, one with pianist Jimmy Jones, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Art Taylor, and the other with organist Phil Porter, bassist Larry Ridley and drummer Dave Bailey.
On the second album included here, House Warmin!, recorded a few months earlier. McGhee shares the front line with tenorman Gene Ammons. The rhythm section includes the quasi-urbane sound of guitarist Jake Fisher, bassist Barney Richmond and drummer Willie Mashburn, who have an essential role in building a program reflecting the infinite variety to be found in the rhythm-and-blues field.
"You may not have ever heard of Howard McGhee, but at one time he was one of the top notch bebop trumpeters, up there with Dizzy Gillespie and Fats Navarro. Hes on Charlie Parkers notorious Lover Man date, and actually had a bebop hit (is that an oxymoron?) with Coleman Hawkins with Stuffy in the mid 40s. He lived the life of a bebopper in more ways than one, as drugs caught up with him and sidelined him for awhile. The two recording sessions on this disc find him working on his comeback, and the music is surprisingly good.
Nobody Knowsis a 62 session featuring McGhee with a trio backing, either with piano or organ, and includes Art Taylor/dr,and Ron Carter/b. The B3 band has McGhee in a bluesy mood with a desultory title track and version of Lonely Town that will make you want to keep away from sharp objects. He alternates between agonizing Harmon mutes and sleek open horn, actually mixing it up in the same song as in the fascinating Canadian Sunset. Hes quite lyrical on Tenderly and Fly Me To The Moon and his tone holds up well. The House Warmin session is a hot jam with Gene Ammonts/ts, Jake Fisher/g, Barney Richmond/b, Willie Mashburn/d and a guy named Waco on bongos. Hey, its the 60s! Ammons smokes like a Romeo e Juliet on Jazz with a Beat and McGhee revives his old charms on Muggin McGhee and the title tune. If you want to hear a rhythm team that is in sync, just give an ear to Jivin Around. Thatll keep you going for awhile."
George W. Harris (February 24, 2014)