Jazz Dance Party & Lee+3 (2 LP on 1 CD)
  • Wynne WYB37
    Wynne WYB37
  • Wynne WYB44
    Wynne WYB44

Leroy Lovett

Jazz Dance Party & Lee+3 (2 LP on 1 CD)

Fresh Sound Records

Personnel:
Leroy Lovett (p), Sam Reed, Kent Pope (as, cl), Bob Brown (as, ts, bs), Al Hall (b), George 'Butch' Ballard (d)

Reference: FSRCD 981

Bar code: 8427328609814

It would be impossible to include all the accomplishments of Leroy “Lee” Lovett (1919-2013) in a short synopsis, but suffice it to say that he was the epitome of talent. However, and despite his long and successful career as a pianist and arranger-composer, the two albums on this CD are the only ones Leroy recorded under his own name, both in 1959.

The first one, “Jazz Dance Party,” includes mainly rocking and slow selections that allow him to show all his versatility and trademark dexterity as a big band jazz arranger. Each section works its way up to some splendid demonstrations of exciting shouting, on which the so-called rhythm and blues players moved toward  the rich wellspring of Ellington jazz. Improvisations are melodic, vividly swinging and loaded with wit. But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of these deeply moving performances is the great vitality with which the soloists are backed by the rest of the band in ensemble riffs—after they play their part, the band starts working on an introduction for the next solo, delivering some well-organized ensemble passages, with the Al Hall and “Butch” Ballard team swinging like mad all the way.

“Lee + 3” finds Leroy leading a cohesive and versatile quartet session that swings from the get go. His piano playing, too often neglected, is forceful and passionate in the up-tempoes, and subtle, rewarding and full of subdued emotion on the trio ballads. Saxophonist Bob Brown blows hard on tenor, with the phrasing, intonation and attack of a rooted blues player, and his work on alto is an exercise in eloquence. The roles of Hall and Ballard are thus boldly revealed in this stimulating set.



01. Bright Feeling (Lee Lovett) 3:52
02. Blob’s Burning (Lee Lovett) 5:09
03. Brown Is Blue (Lovett-Brown) 3:31
04. Relax-A-Tration (Lee Lovett) 3:49
05. What’s Buzzin’ (Lee Lovett) 3:43
06. You Are Too Beautiful (Rodgers-Hart) 3:33
07. I Like Dat (Lee Lovett) 5:28
08. I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face (Loewe-Lerner) 3:22
09. True Blues from Philly (Lee Lovett) 4:04
10. Angel Eyes (Dennis-Brent) 3:17
11. A.B.C. Hop (Bob Brown) 5:24
12. Misty (Erroll Garner) 3:12
13. My Funny Valentine (Rodgers-Hart) 4:20
14. Plum Street (Lee Lovett) 3:38
15. My Ship (Kurt Weill) 4:12
16. If It’s the Last Thing I Do (Cahn-Chaplin) 3:11
17. Can’t I? (Lee Lovett) 1:59
18. Judaline (Raye-DePaul) 3:13

Album details

Sources:
Tracks #1-9, originally issued on the album “Jazz Dance Party” (Wynne WYB37)
Tracks #10-18, originally issued on the album “LEE+3” - (Wynne WYB44)

Personnel on "Jazz Dance Party":
Leroy 'Lee' Lovett and His Orchestra
3 trumpets; 2 trombones & tuba, with Sam Reed, Kent Pope, alto sax & clarinet; Bob Brown, tenor sax, baritone sax; Leroy Lovett, piano; Al Hall, bass; George “Butch” Ballard, drums.

Personnel on "LEE+3":
Leroy 'Lee' Lovett Quartet
Bob Brown, alto (#10,11,13) & tenor sax (#14), Leroy Lovett, piano; Al Hall, bass; George “Butch” Ballard, drums. Unidentified vocalist on #18

All tracks recorded in Philadelphia, 1959

Original recordings produced by Leroy Lovett
Liner notes by Jordi Pujol & Sid Pastner
Produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol

Stereo · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas S.L.

Press reviews

"Smart arrangements by the leader, a well-drilled big band and a very capable solo team give Leroy’s band lots of character. It’s distinguished by a melodic and mellow altoist, an agile trombone player and a hard-working tenor, Bob Brown – all presumably, like Leroy, from Philadelphia. The trumpeter, often with Nance touches, tries very hard and his bebop has its hair combed. The excellent drummer, Butch Ballard, is from New York, and by this time he’d made his name with Ellington, Basie and a few other name bands.

There’s an almost Luncefordian discipline to the sections and this reflects well on Lovett, who must have been almost Mulliganesque in his pursuit of perfection. Most of us have known him only from his work with the Hodges small band of 1951, but the range of talents that he displays in this album suggests that he was unfairly neglected. As were his sidemen, whose names are obviously lost to us forever.

While Jazz Dance Party is aimed at dancers, it’s only in titles like I’ve Grown Accustomed, where Leroy rhapsodises, that the music is lost to us, and most of the tracks have a strong mainstream jazz element. The final band track, True Blues, featuring most of the solo team, is one of the best.

On Lee+3 Bob Brown adds himself to the piano trio, playing boppish alto on three tracks and tenor on Plum Street. He wails nicely on alto for his own ABC Hop. Leroy’s habitual locked chords come into their own on the trio sides, and he indulges in some sparkling piano runs. The long dance routine entry makes My Ship sound upright, which is not the adjective one would want to use for this beautiful tune, and even when he breaks free of it Leroy doesn’t relax into it. But I wouldn’t let this view of the trios spoil my opinion of what is an unexpectedly admirable CD."

Steve Voce ()
https://jazzjournal.co.uk
_______________________________________________________________________________________

"The late 50s and early 60s had a surfeit of jazz pianists. This is one that had his moment of sunshine, have drifted into under-served obscurity and have resurfaced thanks to the painstaking detective work of Fresh Sound Records.

Philadelphia’s Leroy Lovett (1919-2013) is best known for his stint as a sideman for Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams and Cat Anderson, but he also had time to put out some impressive material on his own. This single disc has two sessions, both from 1959. Nine tunes with a 12 piece “Orchestra” has clever horn arrangements that have a hint of Ellingtonia in them, such as “Blob’s Burning” and “What’s Buzzin’.” The Quartet format with Bob Brown/as-ts, Al Hall/b and George “Butch” Ballard from the first outing includes a rich “Angel Eyes” and a “Misty” that gives hint of Errol Garner, with some smoky sax blowing on “ABC Hop.” The team sounds like a working unit, kind of a bop version of vintage John Kirby. This one will surprise you!

This reissue includes original liner notes, session notes, artist personnel and some background to the musicians."

George W. Harris (August 19, 2019)
http://www.jazzweekly.com
_______________________________________________________________________________________

"Fresh Sound réédite les oubliés de l'histoire (du jazz) comme Bill Jennings, J.C. Heard, Lorez Alexandria, etc. Nous ne nous en plaignons pas, car nous estimons que cette histoire a été mal traitée, et les lauriers distribués avec approximation (à une poignée d'incontournables près). Mais qui achètera une réédition de Leroy Lovett en 2019? Le pianiste-compositeur-arrangeur Leroy Lovett (1919-2013) n'a publié que deux albums sous son nom, Jazz Dance Party (Wynne WYB37) et Lee+3(Wynne WYB44) que voici. Il y a aussi un EP Atlantic 1058 réalisé à New York le 15 mars 1955 qui n'aurait pas été de trop pour compléter ce travail. L'indispensabilité vaut pour Bob Brown qui intervient en soliste dans 8 titres en big band et 4 de ceux en combo. Ce Bob Brown avait éveillé notre intérêt dans le LP In Atlantic City (face B, RCA 730702) de Johnny Hodges-Wild Bill Davis avec Lawrence Brown (1966) au point que son souvenir l’a écarté de l’oubli dans un cerveau vieillissant. De très loin, il est ici le soliste le plus intéressant. Lovett né à Germantown, Pennsylvanie, a formé son propre orchestre à Philadelphie. Il a aidé Cat Anderson, Mercer Ellington et Johnny Hodges à monter des orchestres avant de se lancer dans l'édition musicale (1952).

Vers 1958, il est retourné à Philadelphie pour former ce big band de 13 musiciens qui a réalisé le premier album (tous les titres sauf deux sont des compostions de Lovett). La Jazz Discographyde Walter Bruyninckx n'est d'aucun secours pour l'identité des trois trompettes, deux trombones et le tuba. Nous sont bien connus Al Hall (1915-1988), bassiste pour Teddy Wilson et Mary Lou Williams, et Butch Ballard (1918-2011), batteur pour Count Basie et Duke Ellington. Leroy Lovett est un compositeur efficace parce qu'il ne cherche pas la complication. «Bright Feeling» est un thème simple exposé par les sax avec réponse de cuivres. Le clarinette solo (Kent Pope) a un son droit sans vibrato (il prend tous les solos de clarinette dans cette séance). Bob Brown frappe par l'épaisseur de sa sonorité. Caractéristique confirmée dans «Blob's Burning» l'inscrivant dans les suiveurs de Coleman Hawkins. Ce morceau est introduit en trio rythmique par Lovett à la manière de Duke Ellington (ce qui est aussi le cas pour «True Blues From Philly»). Les solos de trompette (mauvaise sonorité) et trombone sont moyens (d'où l'anonymat?). C'est Bob Brown qui joue au ténor la ballade, «Brown in Blue», avec lyrisme et un son digne de Sam «The Man» Taylor. Très bon. Il est un hargneux au swing intense dans «Relax-A-Tradition» où on entend aussi un alto (Sam Reed qui passera 12 ans dans l'Uptown Theater du Nord de Philadelphie), le même trompette (phrasé bop) et des breaks de Ballard. Alternative pas mal entre Sam Reed et Bob Brown dans «What's Buzzin'». Nous pensons que c'est Bob Brown l'alto solo (entre Johnny Hodges et Marshall Royal) vedette de «You Are too Beautiful» (il joue aussi le lead alto pour le passage en section de sax). Après une introduction de Lovett à la Duke, l'orchestre joue «I Like Dat» dans le style Basie (solos d'un autre trompette plus classique, de Pope, cl, et Bob Brown, ts). Le dialogue entre piano et orchestre dans la ballade «I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face» est un peu à l'eau de rose. Enfin on retrouve Bob Brown, en trompettiste médiocre, et des breaks de Butch Ballard dans «True Blues from Philly».

On passe ensuite à l'album en combo où Ballard est plus en évidence. Bob Brown joue de l'alto (influence Hodges) dans «Angel Eyes», mais aussi de façon bien différente dans «A.B.C. Hop» dont il est l'auteur: beaucoup plus parkérien avec un passage accompagné par basse-batterie sans piano (le solo avec block chords de Lovett n'est pas mal). Contrairement à ce qui est indiqué, Bob Brown ne joue pas de l'alto dans «My Funny Valentine» mais du ténor. Certes l'exposé du thème (avec léger vibrato) dans l'aigu peut tromper (belle technique!) mais il retrouve ensuite la nature du ténor. Son déboulé au ténor dans «Plum Street» est impressionnant. Il prend un solo (une fois encore sans piano) très intense et sa virile coda est digne d'un Arnett Cobb. Un crooner intervient dans «Judaline» en hommage sans doute à Nat King Cole. Les autres titres sont du piano bar qui ne ferait pas de mal à une mouche (de la belle variété, paisible."

—Michel Laplacee © Jazz Hot 2019

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