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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Boplicity CDBOPM 029



1. Soul Village

2. Blues For Thelma

3. Queen Bey

4. Are You Real

5. Mi Hermano

Blue Mitchell - Trumpet

Walter Bishop Jr. - Piano

Jimmy Forrest - Tenor sax

Doug Sides - Drums

Larry Gales - Bass

If you ask the average jazz fan about Blue Mitchell, there would probably be some degree of recognition, primarily from his time with the Horace Silver Quintet from 1958 to the bandís breakup in 1964. However, in his own right he was a trumpeter who carved out a niche with an astute, unimpeded approach to his instrument. This trait is on display with this reissue of his 1971 debut for Mainstream Records, simply entitled Blue Mitchell, although some discographies show the title as Soul Village.

The group that Mitchell put together for the session had a couple of standout players, namely pianist Walter Bishop Jr., a Bud Powell acolyte, and tenor man Jimmy Forrest, well-known for his big 1952 R & B hit Night Train. This brief five-tune set was standard fare in the day of the 12-inch LP, but skimpy by todayís CD capacity. Nevertheless, the selections cover the ground nicely with two numbers by Bishop (Soul Village and Mi Hermano), two from Mitchell (Blues For Thelma and Queen Bey), and one from the jazz master Benny Golson, Are You Real.

Although jazz fusion was prominent during the period of this recording, and some of those elements show up here, for the most part the band stayed true to its roots. Soul Village is the opening track, which as the name implies, has a soulful side in a blues format. The line is pretty straightforward with Mitchell setting the tone, and tenor man Forrest giving out some tough sounds. Bishop is on electric piano which adds a funky touch to the proceedings. Blues For Thelma could be mistaken for one of those early 60s Horace Silver numbers in which Mitchell was a noticeable participant. Mitchellís driving open horn carries the theme, and is picked up by some gruff playing from Forrest, which belies his three years away from the music business. Bishop is pretty much restricted to comping behind the front line, which he carries off with aplomb.

Queen Bey brings a Caribbean ethos to the proceedings and is a delightful swinger. Strong tenor work by Forrest shows his suggestive pliability and Bishopís piano is steadfast with some strong single-note runs. Doug Sidesí infectious drumming keeps the band together. Benny Golson wrote Are You Real when he was a member of the Jazz Messengers in 1958. Golson, who is 86, is still playing and touring. The version of the piece that the band delivers here is in a bossa nova format, which does not detract from the underlying original style of the number. Mitchell covers the bases with some clever improvisations, and Forrest lets his big-tone sax do the talking. There is also some nifty block-chord styling from Bishop.

The final track is Mi Hermano which has a cool groove with a Latin flavour featuring Bishop again on electric piano delivering a creative solo. Mitchell stretches his horn with some upper-register acrobatics, and the whole band takes the tune out with some clever unison playing.

Blue Mitchell died in June 1979 from bone cancer, never quite gaining the recognition that his playing merited.

Pierre Giroux

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