Monday, April 12, 2010
Victor FELDMAN - Merry Olde Soul 1961
It's a shame former Riverside producer Orrin Keepnews apparently did not see fit to include this one among the recently remastered reissues in the long-defunct Riverside series. Feldman was taking on formidable odds when he arrived from Britain approximately five years before this session. First of all, he was a foreigner presuming to hold his own among stiff competition in the land of jazz' birth. Second, he was a West Coast, white jazz man presuming to be accepted by the school of black-dominated, hard-bop and soulful, "East Coast" players who were rated first not necessarily in the minds of the "greater" public but certainly in the hearts and minds of the most serious fans of the music.
As impressive as is his earlier date, "The Arrival of Victor Feldman," "Merry Olde Soul" is overall a more satisfying session. True, there's no Scottie LaFaro on the later recording (which is in no way intended as a slight to Sam Jones), and there's no flag-waver like Diz' "Bebop," on which Feldman breaks all speed limits.
But thanks to the addition of Hank Jones, "Merry Olde Soul" exhibits more warmth and variety in its textures. It's also a more "groove-oriented session" thanks to the use of Cannonball Adderley's rhythm team of Jones (whom Victor unselfishly features almost as much as he had LaFaro) and Louis Hayes. Finally, the later session reflects the modal harmonies that had been introduced into jazz a year earlier with Miles' "Kind of Blue." And, last but not least, Feldman reveals that he had developed as a piano soloist, especially in his employment of widely-spaced blocked chords reminiscent of Red Garland.
It's ironic that a musician who came to the States as a percussionist with Woody Herman would attract the likes of Cannonball and Miles Davis largely because of his fresh and rich piano voicings (more complex than those of Red Garland), which distinguished his work as a pianist from both Bobby Timmons and Joe Zawinul, who preceded and succeeded him respectively in Cannonball's group. And I've learned only recently that he studied informally with pianist Carl Perkins who, at least among pianists working the West Coast during the mid to late '50's, simply had no peer. As a pianist myself, if there's a musician whose voicings and singing, rhapsodic touch I would like to replicate, it would have to be Perkins. Victor was obviously a good student.
Feldman's work on vibes is far less known than his piano playing, which was exclusively featured on his recordings with Miles and Cannon. He gets a distinctive, incisive, clean sound on the instrument that, to my mind, sets him apart from a player like Bags (who kept those rotators running slowly) or Eddie Costa (who favored fast-rotators). Victor pretty much plays the instrument without benefit of electronic effects. And when he plays a straight-ahead blues ("Bloke's Blues," "Mosey"), he's in the same league as Timmons, Zawinul, Garland, Wynton Kelly--or Milt Jackson. Foreigner or not, he speaks the language like a native.
By Samuel Chell.
Victor Feldman's one Riverside date as a leader (which has been reissued on CD) features him playing piano on five songs and vibes on four others (three of which add Hank Jones on piano). Joined by bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes (both of whom were at the time, with Feldman, the rhythm section of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet), Feldman is in excellent form on a straight-ahead set. The trio/quartet performs five standards that for the most part are not overly familiar, plus four of the leader's originals. Tasteful and swinging music.
By Scott Yanow, All Music Guide.
Victor Feldman- Vibe Master, Piano, Vibraphone;
Hank Jones- Piano;
Sam Jones- Bass;
Andy Simpkins- Bass;
Louis Hayes- Drums.
01. For Dancers Only 4:40
02. Lisa 4:04
03. Serenity 4:35
04. You Make Me Feel So Young 5:15
05. Come Sunday 2:15
06. Man I Love 6:25
07. Bloke's Blues 5:32
08. I Want to Be Wanted 3:42
09. Mosey on Down 3:57