Leo PARKER 1961

An uncomplicated, booting, bass-register driven melange of first generation bop and early R&B, Let Me Tell You 'Bout It is baritone saxophonist Leo Parker's finest surviving work.
Parker came up through the swing/jump band nexus -his most regular employer during the '40s was Illinois Jacquet- but frequently crossed over into more or less pure bop during the latter part of the decade, working with Tadd Dameron, J.J. Johnson, Fats Navarro, and Dexter Gordon, amongst other heavy hitters. He also picked up some of these musicians' heroin habits and spent most of the '50s off the scene. In '61, apparently clean, he was introduced to Alfred Lion by mutual friend Ike Quebec, and Let Me Tell You 'Bout It was his comeback album and Blue Note debut.
It's a glorious, funked-up romp through bop, swing, and R&B which, were it not for the excellent sound quality, could well have been recorded in the late '40s. It's almost as if the stylistic developments of the '50s never happened -which, given where Parker was at during most of the decade, was indeed pretty much the case for him. There are two, then-vogueish, gospel infused, soul jazz tunes -the title track and "Low Brown"- but the first of these, with the horns arranged in a manner reminiscent of "Abide With Me" on Thelonious Monk's Monk's Music, was written by Robert Lewis, and the second, with pronounced similarities to Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" was written by pianist Yusef Salim. (Interestingly, Hancock recorded "Watermelon Man" six months after the session for Let Me Tell You 'Bout It, raising the question of who, if anyone, influenced whom.)
Parker, of course, takes to the soul jazz groove like a duck to water, and he also shines on his own down-the-line bop tunes "Glad Lad" and "TCTB" the swing-reminiscent "Parker's Pals" and the sprightly, midtempo blues "Blue Leo" (co-written with Quebec). The band members, all coming from the same bop/R&B crossroads as Parker, provide rock-solid, hard-swinging accompaniment, and when offered solo space -Parker takes most of the solos- rise to the occasion.

Leo PARKER bs, Bill SWINDELL ts, John BURKS tp, Yusef SALIM p, Stan CONOVER b, Purnell RICE dr,

Parker died a few months after making this album (having recorded one more for Blue Note, the almost as excellent Rollin' With Leo), and he remains an unjustly neglected figure. Anyone discovering Leo Parker now for the first time is in for a big treat.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel

I've been away for a few days. What a nice surprise to find this album here - just seeing the cover made me go and get my copy and play it nice and loud. Not sure what it is about the whole Blue Note thing. Sure, some great music. But it is more than that. Superb artwork, real jazz styling. Blue Note defined its own cool - no matter what BN album you see from this period, you want to hear it. I was having a quiet evening up until now! Hope the neighbours don't mind the volume being turned uo ......

Jaffa said...

Absolutely essential - I'd actually rank "Rollin' with Leo" higher !
Leo Parker, like Ike Quebec, died prematurely but has been given a chance by Blue Note in the late 50's early 60's when scores of equally fine artists from the Be-Bop heydays were unduly neglected: Few remember baritonist Cecil Payne or tenor-saxophonist John Hardee who probably come to mind -among many others of course.
Enjoy the great music on this great site !


the jazzman said...

Run....do not walk to get this album. Another totally underrated player. This album demands top dollars in its LP form. A treasure.