I will never ever understand why a legend such as Harold Mabern isn’t headlining the biggest jazz festivals in the world. He has after-all played and recorded with THE greatest jazz musicians in the world. His discography is a who’s who of jazz music. The Lord Discography lists 206 recordings that he appears on either as a leader or a sideman. I suspect that number is much higher. My lack of understanding however is topic for another day and would take away from this review!
First of all, not enough can be said about the cover. This picture is unbelievable. If you’ve ever met Harold Mabern you know that his is the kindest, most warm hearted and supportive individual ever. He’s generous with his time and is preaching the jazz gospel at every turn. He really is a phenomenal human being inside and out! Secondly, the sound of this record is unreal. There is a lot of reverb but its good reverb and it really enhances the overall sound of the date. The piano sounds unbelievable. It’s a Steinway and I hope to be hearing that type of sound on Cellar Live recordings soon as we have a new Steinway B!
I have nothing bad to say about this recording whatsoever. The record is ‘Mabes’ through and through. His comping just pounds you into submission, its so distinctive and clear. It’s a really hard thing to describe. Its intense yet joyful!
Now I say this kind of jokingly, the opening vamp on Alone Together is unbelievable and you get the feeling that they could and they want to go on forever and ever and I would have no problem with that so when they break into the melody of Alone Together I have to admit I was kind of disappointed! I wanted to hear him keep rocking that vamp.
Another highlight is the shuffle I’m Walking. Listen to how hard Webber and Farnsworth swing and lay right in there with Mabern. God, I’m going nuts here just thinking about it!
I have to admit I listened (and will keep listening) to this record with great interest because I’m playing with Mabern and his trio in September for a string of dates that will result in a recording for Cellar Live. We’re doing the Pender Harbour Jazz Festival, Powell River, The Cellar for four nights, Saltspring, Nanaimo and Victoria. I can’t wait!
Thanks to Spiker and Smalls Live for capturing this giant of jazz piano in the live format! Swing wins!