Thursday, November 17, 2016

Harold Vick - 1974 - Commitment

Harold Vick

01. Commitment 5:10
02. H.N.I.C. 5:00
03. A Time And A Place 6:10
04. Out Of It 5:30
05. Wild Is The Wind 4:18
06. Blue Gardenia 4:24
07. From Within 4:48

Sax, FLute - Harold Edward Vick
Bass – Herb Bushler
Drums – Mickey Roker
Guitar – Malcolm Riddick
Piano – Walter Bishop
Vibraphone – Victor Feldman

In 1966, three years after his organ n' sax debut "Steppin' Out", Vick released two quite different albums on RCA Victor : the latin-flavoured "Caribbean Suite" and the relatively straight-ahead "Straight Up".

"Commitment" was generally thought to also have been recorded in 1966, languishing in the vaults until Muse put it out in 1974. However, due to some help from the folks over at the Organissimo forums, it seems that this album was most probably recorded for RCA Victor on May 1-2, 1967. Sessions on those dates are listed as having exactly the same lineup, with three same-named tracks. The other four tracks here are the Vick compositions, so I think we can safely assume that he re-named them seven years later. This would mean there are still three unreleased tracks somewhere, including a version of "Sunny".

It remains a mystery why this album was shelved for seven years. Vick released one more album with RCA, 1968's orchestrated "Watch What Happens". He went on to Encounter Records for the funky "Power Of Feeling" in 1973 under a pseudonym, then had a heart attack in April 1974. However, by August he was back in the studio recording "Don't Look Back" for Strata-East.

Sometime in the last four months of 1974, Muse released these 1967 recordings as "Commitment", and then Strata-East released "Don't Look Back". Independent label war ?

While the instrumentation is the same as that of "Straight Up" from the year before - saxaphone, guitar, vibes, piano, bass and drums - this is a more live, less orchestrated band who break out more often, harking back to some of the rawness of the "Steppin' Out"album.

Even in straight-ahead jazz tracks like "Commitment" and "Out Of It" there's a sense of communication between the soloists that is sometimes missing from Vick's more heavily 'arranged' albums from the 60s. Vick flourishes in this looser atmosphere, and his playing is beautiful and lyrical throughout.

There's a fantastic up-tempo take on Jimmy Heath's "A Time and A Place" , which you may know from Heath's 1974 album, or versions by Art Farmer, Milt Jackson and others. The jazz dancers should cream themselves over this one, with solid solos from Vick's tenor, pianist Walter Bishop Jr (last seen here with "Cubicle"), vibesman Victor Feldman, and guitarist Malcolm Riddick showing some Grant Green-like moves.

Victor Feldman, who's a significant presence on this album, takes over Bishop's piano chair for "H.N.I.C" to contribute a fiery, percussive piano solo that winds around Vick's flute throughout the track.

While mostly heard on tenor sax on this album, Vick switches to soprano for a beautiful reading of "Wild is the Wind" , supported just by Feldman's vibes, and Bishop's piano, backed by sparse work from Herb Bushler's bass and Mickey Roker on drums.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this album,


  1. leave a comment and let me know what you think.

    And if you have any of the Harold Vick albums I miss... please feel free to share them with the rest of us!

  2. Here's a good one. It's not under his name, but Harold's on it and makes it all that much better:

    Walter Bishop Jr. - Coral Keys (Black Jazz - BJ-2) 1971!FcQGEBDC!Wf_0p7-pXVEmZbu8XxZ9T9WS8ABSu7Vmqh2lFkq9BfA