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LEO PARKER

The Last Sessions

Phono 870337

 

 

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout it

Rollin’ with Leo

CD1

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout it

1 Glad Lad
2 Blue Leo
3 Let Me Tell You ‘Bout It
4 Vi
5 Parker's Pals
6 Low Brown
7 Tctb
8 The Lion's Roar [Version 1]
9 Low Brown [Long Version]
10 Mona Lisa
11 Who's Mad
12 Darn That Dream
13 I Cross My Fingers
14 Mad Lad Returns
15 Leo's Bells
16 Sweet Talkin' Leo

17 Swinging For Love
18 The New Look

CD 2

Rollin’ with Leo

1 The Lion's Roar [Version 2]
2 Bad Girl
3 Rollin' With Leo
4 Music Hall Beat
5 Jumpin' Leo
6 Talkin' The Blues
7 Stuffy
8 Mad Lad Returns
9 Piccadilly Circus
10 There Will Never Be Another You
11 What Will I Do?
12 Billy In The Lion's Den
13 Fine And Dandy
14 Just You, Just Me
15 Down To Earth
16 May I?
17 Get Hot
18 Stuffy
19 Solitude

LEO PARKER, baritone saxophone on all tracks, plus:

CD1 [1-9] LET ME TELL YOU 'BOUT IT

JOHN BURKS, trumpet (out on 2)
BILL SWINDELL, tenor sax (out on 2)
YUSEF SALIM, piano
STAN CONOVER, bass
PURNELL RICE, drums
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, September 9, 1961.

BONUS TRACKS:

CD1 [10-14] Leo Parker Quartet:

Leo Parker (as,bs); Al Haig (p); Oscar Pettiford (b); Max Roach (d)

[Jack “The Bear” Parker drums replaces Roach on 11 & 14 only].

New York, July 20, 1950. Originally recorded for the Prestige label.

CD1 [15-18] Leo Parker Sextet:

Leo Parker (bs); Joe Newman (tp); Charlie Rouse (ts); Sir Charles Thompson (p)

Al Lucas (b); Jack “The Bear” Parker (d)

Detroit, March 23, 1948. Originally recorded for the Savoy label.



CD2 [1-8] ROLLIN' WITH LEO

DAVE BURNS, trumpet
BILL SWINDELL, tenor sax
JOHNNY ACEA, piano
AL LUCAS or STAN CONOVER, bass
WILBERT HOGAN or PURNELL RICE drums
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, October 12 & October 20, 1961.

CD2 [9-19] BONUS ALBUM LEO PARKER - BILL JENNINGS QUINTET

LEO PARKER, baritone sax
BILL JENNINGS, guitar
ANDREW JOHNSON, piano
JOE WILLIAMS, bass
GEORGE DeHART, drums
Cincinnati, Ohio, July 6-8, 1954.
Originally issued as Billy in the Lion's Den for the King label


Recorded September - October 1961, here we have the final two albums recorded by the baritone and alto saxophonist Leo Parker for Blue Note. They have an added poignancy as, four months later on 11 February 1962, Parker died of a heart attack brought on by drug abuse.

The Kid, as he was nicknamed, cut his teeth in bebop bands in the 1940s, including Billy Eckstein’s, who gave him a baritone sax role – he’d previously only played alto. He went on to work with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Sir Charles Thompson and Illinois Jacqet, and made records with Fats Navarro, J.J.Johnson and Dexter Gordon. In 1954 his career abruptly halted, with health problems cited; this may have been the early signs of drug addiction. By 1961 he’d got back on his feet and approached Alfred Lion, Blue Note’s owner, through Ike Quebec their talent scout. He’d assembled a group of musicians and managed to secure an audition. Lion was impressed and the rest is history. The two albums were intended as Parker’s comeback; strangely, Rollin’ with Leo was only issued as late as 1980. A third album was apparently muted, with a possible reuniting with Billy Eckstein and Dexter Gordon. Sadly it was not to be.

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout it gets off to a lively, brisk start with Glad Lad, Parker starting the ball rolling, his vibrant guttural sound very much in evidence. One by one the trumpet, tenor sax and piano take up the reins, leaving it to Parker to bring it to a flourish. Blue Leo, as the title suggests, is a slow blues. Parker achieves a soulful quality to his sound, pitched against Stan Conover’s bass accompaniment. The ‘real churchy type tune’, as it’s described in the original liner notes, of Let Me Tell You ‘Bout it you feel you’ve always known, but haven’t. In Parker’s Pals he throws in a quote from Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Low Brown is a Yulef Salim creation with Tctb (Taking care of the business), which follows, providing a more sunny, upbeat contrast.

In Rollin’ with Leo the line up is basically the same, with some minor changes to personnel, most notably Johnny Acea replacing Yulef Salim on the piano, and a couple of additions to bass and drums. The Lion’s Roar is a fitting opener with the ensemble firing on all cylinders. Parker’s gruff, rasping tone suitably captures the ‘roar’. The mood is more relaxed for Bad Girl. Talkin’ the Blues is a slow dialogue between Acea and Parker. The album ends with an energetic burst in Mad Lad Returns.

The bonus tracks on CD 1 feature Parker in quartet and sextet formations. He’s joined by such names as Charlie Rouse, Al Haig, Oscar Pettiford and Max Roach. There’s plenty to admire from the quartet like Mona Lisa and Who’s Mad. The 1948 Savoy recordings of the Leo Parker Sextet sound a little worse for wear, sound-wise, but it’s a small price to pay for such compelling musicianship

CD 2 gives us a bonus of eleven tracks of the Leo Parker - Bill Jennings Quintet, originally issued on the King Label in 1954 and titled Billy in the Lion’s Den. Listen to track 11, an impassioned delivery of What Will I Do, showcasing Parker’s brooding, dark timber, and his captivating phrasing. It doesn’t get much better than this. All the same attractive qualities are found in a stirring rendition of Solitude.

Included is a 20 – page booklet providing background to the recordings and the original liner notes. After listening to these superb albums one can only ponder with regret that he left us too soon.

Stephen Greenbank



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