William 'Hicky' Kelley (normaphone, euphonium), Curtis Peagler (as, ts), Lee Tucker (b), Ron McCurdy, William 'Billy' Brown, Wilbur 'Slim' Jackson (p)
Reference: FSRCD 793
Bar code: 8427328607933
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The Modern Jazz Disciples was a group that offered a refreshing and unpretentious hard bop with deep, warm roots, performed with wit and taste. The crisp, wellblended ensembles were the platform for some superb improvising by the horn men, both of whom were exceptional soloists. Curtis Peagler was an effervescent altoist in the Parker-Stitt-Adderley mould, and his work here is outstanding for its heat and joy. The inclusion of William Kelley on normaphonea valve trombone in the shape of an alto saxophoneand euphoniuma kind of French horn, added body to the sound. Playing in a coolly understated, linear, easy-swinging way, he complemented Peaglers more dominant, coruscating manner. Pianist William Brown contributed some interesting solos, full of intensity, while Lee Tuckers propulsive bass and drummers Wilbur 'Slim' Jackson or Ron McCurdy, are well integrated and non-obtrusive, completed a solid and exciting rhythm section.
The Modern Jazz Disciples werent together for very long and this compilation gathers together the only two albums they recorded for Prestige between 1959 and 1960.
"Youve surely heard of The Jazz Messengers and The Jazz Crusaders, right? Well, a bunch of guys got together for awhile and made up .The Jazz Disciples! William Kelly plays the obscure pair of Normaphone (sort of a bari sax with a brass mouthpiece) and Euphonium (small and cozy tuba), while the rest of the band, Curtis Peagler/as-ts, Billy Brown/p, Lee Tucker/b and either Roy McCurdy or Slim Jackson/dr keep it pretty basic. All of the Jazz Disciples material, culled from a 59 and a 60 session is put on this single disc, and its really tasty material. Kelly sounds like a fluffy trombone on his two horns, with a creamy After Youve Gone and Cannonball Adderleys A Little Taste settling in real pretty along with My Funny Valentine. Peagles got the Parker/Stitt feel, and lets loose on Disciples Blues and The Happy Blues and gets soft and gentle on Autumn Serenade. Fingerpopping music indeed!"
George W. Harris (September 16, 2013)
-The Modern Jazz Disciples
"In a perfect world, Curtis Peagler's Modern Jazz Disciples would have had a longer run and built a much larger catalog. But regrettably, the Cincinnati quintet is only a small footnote in the history of hard bop and gave listeners only two albums. The first was this self-titled LP, which was recorded for Prestige's New Jazz subsidiary in 1959. The Modern Jazz Disciples shows the late Peagler, who turned 29 that year, to be a hard-swinging alto saxman in the Charlie Parker/Sonny Stitt/Cannonball Adderley/Phil Woods vein -- his hot-blooded solos on tracks like "A Little Taste," "Slippin' and Slidin'," and the standard "After You've Gone" make this record well worth the price of admission. Quite often, "After You've Gone" has been heard in swing and classic jazz settings, but the Disciples' version is pure bop. And even though Peagler was the Disciples' leader, he isn't the only one who makes this album worthwhile. The Modern Jazz Disciples were team players, and it is impossible to miss the strong rapport that Peagler enjoys with pianist William Brown, bassist Lee Tucker, drummer Ron McCurdy, and normaphone/euphonium player William "Hicky" Kelley. No one could accuse the Disciples of having a typical, run-of-the-mill front line -- many people have never even heard of the normaphone, a rare type of valve trombone that is shaped like an alto sax. But it's an instrument that always works well for Kelley, who fares equally well when he switches to the euphonium on Charlie Parker's "Perhaps." This is, without question, a very promising debut -- it's too bad that the Disciples didn't have a longer run."
-Right Down Front
"Creatively, the Modern Jazz Disciples show no sign of a sophomore slump on their second album, Right Down Front, which was recorded for New Jazz/Prestige in 1960. Here's the bad news: The Disciples' second album turned out to be their last; after Right Down Front, Curtis Peagler's short-lived outfit broke up. But the honeymoon was nice while it lasted. With this LP, the Disciples unveiled one personnel change: Wilbur "Slim" Jackson was on drums instead of Ron McCurdy. But the rest of the lineup was still in place, and that includes leader Curtis Peagler on alto and tenor sax, William Brown on piano, Lee Tucker on bass, and William "Hicky" Kelley on the rare normaphone. This lineup is quite cohesive on "Ros- Al," "Along Came Cheryl," and other extroverted, hard-swinging items; compatibility was never an issue with the members of the Disciples. "My Funny Valentine" shows how appealing a ballad player Peagler could be -- he is downright haunting on this great, if overdone, Rodgers & Hart standard -- and a gutsy performance of Gene Ammons' "The Happy Blues" becomes an inspired celebration of jazz's blues heritage [...]"
Both by Alex Henderson -All Music Guide