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Trio/Quartet Complete Recordings
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  • This double-disc package contains the three sessions that organist Baby Face Willette recorded with guitarist Grant Green and drummer Ben Dixon for Blue Note in 1961. The famed guitarist's debut album, Grant's First Stand, was cut on January 28. After Jimmy Smith, the pair really helped to establish soul jazz in its own right with this one: the standouts are two of the leader's fine originals, the cooking hard bop on "Miss Ann's Tempo" and the swinging blues in "A Wee Bit O' Green." Willette's first session as a leader for the label took place two days later, in a quartet setting with Fred Jackson on tenor saxophone. If the organist didn't stand out as much on Green's date, he certainly took the reins here, writing five of the six tunes. Standouts include "Swinging at Sugar Ray's," which showcases the rough and rowdy style of his playing, and "Somethin' Strange," which shifts between blues and funky soul. The lone cover is a soul-jazz read on mambo in "Whatever Lola Wants" by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Five months later, under Willette's leadership, Stop and Listen was cut with the same personnel sans Jackson. It's the organist's finest moment for the label, and reveals his deep communication with Green; two tunes that are fine showcases of their fluid rhythmic signatures and the interplay inside the trio are the contrasting slow blues of "Chances Are Few" and the martial swing in "Soul Walk." While Green went on to record for Blue Note for most of the rest of his career, Willette left the label for Argo. This set, with its budget price, contains all of the alternate takes available on the individual albums. ~ Thom Jurek
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