Paul Benson (1st tenor), Julius Robinson (2nd tenor), Johnny Oglesby (baritone), Charles “Woody” Woodford (bass), Sam Reed (as), Leroy Lovett, Junior Mance (p), Billy Davis, Les Spann (g), Jay Roland (vib), Winston Williams, Henry Grimes, Arthur Harper (b), William “Bubbles” Ross, Grady Tate, Roy McCurdy (d), Melba Liston (arr)
Bar code: 8427328611251
The Metronomes were a vocal group formed in 1959 in Philadelphia noted for their fresh and engaging sound based on expanded jazz-style harmonies.
Its members were: Paul Benson, first tenor, Julius Robinson, second tenor, Johnny Oglesby, baritone, and Charles “Woody” Woodford, bass. Although they were virtually unknown, pianist and producer Leroy “Lee” Lovett saw their talents and immediately decided to record them for his new Wynne label. For the recording, Lovett organized a sextet with himself as piano soloist, and with Sam Reed, another Philadelphia jazzman, featured on alto saxophone. The album “and now…TheMetronomes” was released in October 1959 and marked the introduction and beginning of the group. As time passed, the group gradually developed more cohesiveness and unity together, as they began to attract some attention in hometown engagements.
In 1961, Conrad Moore replaced Oglesby as baritone, and shortly thereafter the group made its debut at Philadelphia’s Peps Club. Melba Liston, a former trombonist and arranger for Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, was present for the performance. “They made a guest appearance at the club,” said Melba, “singing mostly standards, and we all noted that they had a really nice mix and what seemed like a pretty laidback, upbeat style.” So the manager of the group and Melba planned to record an album, and the Metronomes-Liston alliance went into action. Before recording for the Jazzland label, Miss Liston worked a long time on all the vocal and instrumental arrangements and also chose much of the repertoire for the “Something Big!” album. Pianist Junior Mance is also a brilliant contributor to the excellent rhythm quartet that Melba put together, and that provides appropiate and distinctive support to The Metronomes. As Melba said, “I think there’s plenty here for people to listen to and dig…” to and dig…”
Ringer of the Week ★★★★★
"Really? A black vocal quartet in the 1950s doing jazz? You sure it’s not doo wop? I’m sure!
First tenor Paul Benson, second tenor Julius Robinson, baritone John Oglesby/Conrad Moore and bass Charles “Woody” Woodford took the smooth delivery of the Ink Spots, added a dash of the Jordanaires, and the ideas of The Four Freshman to come up with their own unique and clever vocal team. This two album collection might be all you’ll ever hear from them, so you better enjoy it!
The first album from 1959 has them backed by a soulful stew of Sam Reed/as, Leroy Lovett/p, Billy Davis/g, Jay Roland/vib, Winston Williams/b and William Ross/dr for a gorgeous collection of smoother than silk takes of “You’re Mine You”, “Fools Rush In” and “Don’t Blame Me” with clever and concise solos by Reed and Davis at just the right time. Fast forward to 1962 for your next chance, and the team has heavy hitters Junior Mance/p, Les Spann/g, Henry Grimes-Arthur Harper/b and Grady Tate-Roy McCurdy/dr, all conducted by Melba Liston. Wait until you hear what they do with “Monk’s Mood” and “’Round Midnight”, and hang on to your hat for “A Night In Tunisia”. A take of “Back Door Blues” shows the grit under the nails, while “Til I Met You” glows like a full moon.
The original liner notes and some writing by Ms. Liston give a bit of background, but nothing is going to take the place of just sitting down with this collection, listening to it, and if you’re not singing along by the third spin, something is wrong with you!!!"
—George W. Harris (March 23, 2023)