Rocky BOYD 1961

John Erskine "Rocky" Boyd, a young lion of a tenor player, under whose name this set was released in 1961 on Jazzland, disappeared that same year -a jazz mystery- while touring with Philly Joe Jones. I have read somewhere that Mr. Jones was a heroin addict.
Mr. Boyd, of Boston (born 1936) and a Berklee graduate, composed "Avars" with an up and down the steps intro stated in unison with Kenny Dorham. KD shares the solo turns with Rocky, and is superb, as always. Kenny was never a show-off or flashy, but had chops to burn -dig his solo just prior to the 4-minute mark, right before he restates the vamp with Rocky.
Walter Bishop, Jr. then steps in on piano, demonstrating why he was to record his first session as a leader the next day, March 14. Young Ron Carter takes a bowed bass solo just before the last return of the theme, and out we go. "Avars" was Rocky Boyd's only published composition.
It is then fittingly followed by two heartbreakingly poignant renditions of the Washington-Young ballad, "Stella by Starlight" originally penned for a 1944 film, "The Uninvited". Rocky shows the poise and taste of a much more seasoned player, and the work of this fine ensemble is embellished by drummer Pete La Roca's perfect cymbal brushwork (three weeks before he turned 23).
The original "Why Not?" credited to La Roca resembles both Miles' "So What" and Coltrane's "Impressions" but why not just enjoy it as a springboard for some great swinging? Listen as he sets up the sly "snakecharmer" quote ever so logically. Fine work by an artist known more among jazz aficionados and other players than the casual fan -kind of like Kenny Dorham.
Maria-Bonfa's "Samba de Orfeu" follows Paul Chambers' blues, "Ease It!" in which Carter (almost 24) solos quite well, then the quintet trades fours and takes it out. "West 42nd Street", Dorham on the trumpet parts that his contemporary and the composer, Wilbur Harden took on the 1958 session he'd done with John Coltrane on Savoy.
This is classic bop played with freshness and fervor for one time only. That we can appreciate it today is the sweet paradox of the ephemeral quality of music. Kenny Dorham gets the last word: "I feel you play the way you live. The different things that happen come out in your playing. If you're sad, you play minor."


Rocky BOYD ts, Kenny DORHAM tp, Walter BISHOP Jr p, Ron CARTER b, Pete LaROCA dr,

The CD reissue of this album has come back under trumpeter Kenny Dorham's name with the six songs augmented by four alternate takes... and a new cover art !!!

1 comment:

David said...

I don't have this one. I've been spending time lately with Kenny's _Afro Blue_ which is awesome. I love the way Potata Valdes' congas add so much Cuban soul to what is otherwise straight bop. And nobody had a sexier articulation that Kenny. His tones are absolutely definitive of JAZZ on the trumpet. Maybe he's my favorite all around trumpeter. But that's hard to say. There are so many greats....