Thursday, November 17, 2016

Harold Vick - 1974 - Don't Look Back

Harold Vick 
Don't Look Back

01 Don't Look Back
02 Melody for Bu
03 Senor zamora
04 Stop and Cop
05 Lucille
06 Prayer

Harold Vick- tenor sax, C flute, soprano sax, bass clarinet
Joe Bonner - piano, tuba
Kiane Zawadi - euphonium
George Davis - alto flute, guitar
Virgil Jones - flugelhorn
Sam Jones - bass
Billy Hart - drums
Jimmy Hopps - Percussion

Harold Vick emerged in the early 1960s as a saxaphonist with a distinctive, lyrical tone who retained a blues edge as the soul-jazz scene played back and forth with post-bop modernism throughout the decade, then followed the development of new forms in the 1970s.

Influenced by Gene Ammons, he played in the band of vocalist Lloyd Price from about 1958-1960 before joining Jack McDuff's band. He became a preferred tenor sax player for all the top-shelf soul-jazz organists like McDuff, John Patton and Jimmy McGriff.

In fact, he played with so many hammond organists that he has his own clickable org-hammo-gram.

His debut 1963 album "Steppin' Out" (Blue Note) sits firmly in the blues / early soul-jazz camp, with John Patton on the B3 and frequent collaborator Grant Green on guitar. The opening track "Our Miss Brooks" referred to Ellen Brooks, who had been Vick's girlfriend but was now going out with John Patton, who she married the next year. Ahh, musical tension in the studio! Listen to the above clip and imagine her sitting with a glass of wine, Yoko-like, at the back of the studio while the organ and sax face off. Nevertheless, Vick recorded another session with Patton the next year, but this was rejected by Blue Note and he moved on.

In 1966 he released "The Caribbean Suite" on RCA, built around an eight-part suite of the same name by British saxophonist Kenny Graham, with Vick adding some of his own tracks. Vick (on flute and soprano sax) is accompanied by Bobby Hutcherson, Albert Dailey and others, with Latin percussion by Montego Joe and Manuel Ramos. A bold change of pace and great stuff, you can almost hear Martin Denny and Bacoso drinking beers together in the jungle bushes behind, watching through binoculars. Thanks as always to Bacoso for re-upping this in relation to this post.

Later in the year, he released "Straight Up", more straight-ahead than the previous album, but with the laid-back settings nonetheless giving you an opportunity to experience the subtle expressiveness of his playing against a backdrop of guitar, piano, vibes and trumpet. There's a few bossa tracks, and Vick adds soprano sax and flute to his woodwind arsenal.

Vick recorded the album "Commitment" in 1967, but it wasn't released until 1974 on Muse, just before "Don't Look Back". Listen to the killer track "hnic" above, with Victor Feldman ripping it up on piano - Walter Bishop plays piano on most other tracks. The track also features Mickey Roker - drums; Herb Bushler - bass; Malcolm Riddick - guitar; and Vick on flute.

1967's "The Melody Is Here" was later re-released as "Watch What Happens" with some additional tracks. Three tracks feature a quartet with Herbie Hancock, Bob Cranshaw and Grady Tate, the rest feature "The Harold Vick Orchestra" which includes Jimmy Owens, Joe Farrell, Hancock and others with a chorus of female voices. "Ode To Trane", above, comes from the Hancock quartet sessions.

In the early 1970s, drummer Jack deJohnette formed the band Compost with Harold Vick, Jumma Santos and others, seemingly as an excuse to go crazy on the wah-wah clavinet in a party funk-rock atmosphere. Vick seems to be enjoying himself immensely on sax and flute, often grabbing Jack's wah-wah pedal. Two albums were released : "Compost" (1972) and "Life Is Round" (1973), with vocalist Lou Courtney joining for the second album.

In 1973 Vick released an album called "Power Of Feeling" under the pseudonym "Sir Edward" on Bernard Purdie's Encounter label.

There's still conjecture on Dusty Groove, Soul Strut and other places as to whether this actually was Harold Vick, or indeed even Sonny Stitt - but a quick look at the back cover of the "Commitment" release from the following year confirms that it's Vick, via a somewhat disparaging comment from Fred Norsworthy, who's much keener on the 1966 material :

Players include Joe Bonner (rhodes), Wilbur Bascomb (bass), Omar Clay (drums), and Jumma Santos (percussion). Harold's clearly stolen the wah-wah pedal from the Compost sessions for this album.

Vick later re-recorded the track "Keep on Moving On" from this album on Shirley Scott's fantastic 1974 Strata-East release "One for Me", which features some of his best playing.

His 70s sideman discography is somewhat daunting, with appearances on many great albums by Joe Chambers, Larry Willis, Pharoah Sanders, Walter Bishop Jr, Mike Longo and others

So let's move on to today's album - 1974's "Don't Look Back" was recorded and released in the wake of Harold Vick's recovery from a heart attack, which may partially explain the passion with which he approaches his playing throughout. The title track "Don't Look Back" is a joyous melodic number that Vick himself attributes to new love experienced in his time of crisis. It was later covered on the Shirley Scott "One For Me" album (with Vick on sax), and also on Nat Adderley's same-titled album "Don't Look Back" in 1976.

His work on sax and flute has a harder, more intense edge to it than his other recordings - check out his tenor work on "Lucille" - while still displaying the subtlety of his best work - listen to his multi-tracked coda "Prayer", where Joe Bonner's rhodes mixes in with Vick's clarinet, flutes and saxaphone.

Trumpeter Virgil Jones is a strong presence on this album, frequently trading solos with Vick on tracks like the latinesque "Senor Zamora" - his recent work had included a high profile arranger's role on Charles Earland's "Intensity"; and performances on albums as diverse as McCoy Tyner's "Song Of The New World" and Leon Spencer's "Where I'm Coming From".

There's great supporting work on piano and rhodes from Joe Bonner, who'd been on the "Sir Edward" album, and was about to record his own albums "Angel Eyes" and "Lifesaver", having recently worked with Azar Lawrence , Pharoah Sanders, and the Oneness Of JuJu.

As well as appearing on the aforementioned Tyner and Shirley Scott albums, euphonium player Kiane Zawadi had recently worked on Archie Shepp's "Attica Blues" and Dollar Brand's "African Space Program". He contributes a great solo here on "Melody For Bu", which is dedicated to organist Bu Pleasant, on whose Muse album Vick played the same year, and which also includes the track. Both Zawadi and Virgil Jones had worked with Vick almost a decade before on "Oh! Pharoah Speak" by Pharoah Sanders and the Latin Jazz Quintet.

George Davis appears on alto flute on three tracks, as well as wah-guitar on the spiritual-flavoured "Stop and Cop" - see my "sidebar" on his career near the base of the Mike Longo post. Drummer Billy Hart now wins the "Most Labelled" award for this blog.

Bass player Sam Jones has a sideman discography even longer than some of my blog posts, but had recently been with Vick on Shirley Scott's "One For Me", as well as appearing on Clifford Jordan's "Glass Bead Games", Eddie Jefferson's "Things are Getting Better" and countless others.

Vick's final album as a leader was "After The Dance" in 1977, named after the Leon Ware - Marvin Gaye penned title track. While I'm generally partial to some mixed disco-jazz albums of the period, this one suffers from some unimaginative track choices and arrangements, although I quite like the single "Things Aint Right", an Esther Marrow cover that mixes some blaxploitation-style wah-wah and orchestral textures with the disco beat, even if Vick's sax is a little incidental to the overall plot ...

Harold Vick continued to work frequently as a sideman until his death in 1987 from a heart attack. Saxaphonist Sonny Stitt composed a tribute track on his 2000 album "This Is What I Do" called "Did you Hear Harold Vick?", which is more of a funky, playful number rather than a mournful dirge.

Here's Harold's take on the tracks :

Don't Look Back
describes a new and positive feeling/attitude that I possess as a result of a gift of love received by me
during a period of crisis

Melody for Bu
was written for Ms Bu Pleasant, a warm and fiery multi-talented lady who leads her own trio.

Senor Zamora
was written for a special brother I met along the road of music who has always reached out to help others.
His name is Antonio zamora and he is currently the director of the Black Cultural Center, Perdue University

Stop and Cop
was inspired by a childhood buddy Ivory (Nab) Spearman who is presently the proprietor of a neighborhood store The sign over the front reads "Stop and Cop"
Think about it.

was one of my favorite ladies of all times. Once upon a time she graced this planet as she dwelled in Rocky Mount North Carolina. Her name was Lucille Vick and my memories of her are all warm for she was beautiful -she was my grandmother

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