Recent listening, current

Friday, September 13, 2013

138. Roy Eldridge / The Nifty Cat (1970)

Roy Eldridge as leader? Has the moon come down? He didn't lead much, didn't even record much after 1960, and I wasn't aware of this disc until spotting it at my library. The personnel is interesting. There's Budd Johnson whose skills in arranging, tenor and soprano sax are the perfect fit for Eldridge's brand of jump and small group swing. The bass is by Tommy Bryant, a musician of great skill and style, and one who seems underappreciated today. On drums is perennial session man Oliver Jackson, piano is 'Countalike' Nat Pierce, and perhaps my favorite man on the album is Benny Morton on trombone. His inventory of different sounds and licks is inexhaustible and the 'bone brings a touch of old school class to the proceedings (check him out on the lazy "Jolly Hollis," or "Ball of Fire"). "Cotton" is a deep and stormy blues carried by an appealingly mysterious piano and bass figure. Eldridge sings the humorous blues "Wineola," also getting a nice solo in the tune, and things really cook with Eldridge's "Ball of Fire," filled by a lot of riffing and Eldridge showing off his famous range. The closer is the title track with solid work from everyone. I especially enjoy Eldridge's first solo. There's a good mood throughout the set, and I'm thankful for this disc given how much the trumpeter worked but did not record. It's definitely worth finding.

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