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Leapin' and Lopin'

Sonny Clark

Leapin' And Lopin'
(Blue Note)

Leapin' and Lopin'



Charlie Rouse, Ike Quebec*, tenor sax; Tommy Turrentine, trumpet;
Sonny Clark, piano; Butch Warren, bass; Billy Higgins, drums.

1. Somethin' Special (Sonny Clark) 6:18
2. Deep In A Dream* (Van Heusen-De Lange) 6:42
3. Melody For C (Sonny Clark) 7:45
4. Eric Walks (Butch Warren) 5:37
5. Voodoo (Sonny Clark) 7:37
6. Midnight Mambo (Tommy Turrentine) 7:10
7. Zellmar's Delight (Sonny Clark) 5:38
Produced by ALFRED LION
Cover Photo by FRANCIS WOLFF
Recording by RUDY VAN GELDER
Recorded on November 13, 1961,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ.


Change is natural and individual interpretation is one of the rewarding characteristics of jazz but when the spirit of the music is abused then it is bound to suffer. The musicians who make up the quintet in Leapin' and Lopin' have respect for the tradition in which they grew up. Sonny Clark is far from the fashionably funky, and is more personal a pianist than ever before. In 1961, Sonny has been playing at some of the East Village clubs, particuarly at an East 10th Street coffee house called The White Whale. Other habitues have been Tommy Turrentine and Billy Higgins. Since Sonny digs their playing, it was natural to have them in his recording group.

Turrentine, the older brother of tenorman Stanley Turrentine, hardly needs an introduction to Blue Note's regular listeners who have heard him with Horace Parlan, Lou Donaldson, and Max Roach. Higgins is the inventive Californian who, on the basis of his work with Ornette Coleman in 1959-60, won the Down Beat International Critics Poll new star award in 1960. Another new star winner, this time in the 1961 poll, was, ironically, the veteran Charlie Rouse, who received this belated recognition after becoming part of the Thelonious Monk Quartet in 1959. Butch Warren, the young bassist from Washington who was heard with Kenny Dorham's quintet in 1960, is also represented in this set as a writer.

The library for the date is composed of five originals and one unearthed standard. Leader Clark is the main contributor with three lines. "Somethin' Special" is an infectious minor-key blues with the three main soloists echoing the cooking mood of the theme. "Melody For C" is in the increasingly popular (among modern jazzmen) modal groove and is, in fact, extremely melodious. There is vigorous, vibrant Rouse, tender Turrentine and thoughtful Clark in a succinct demonstration of what a mature soloist Sonny has become. "Voodoo" walks on padded feet through its eerily beautiful 32-bar theme, building a tension for the soloist to release.

Warren's "Eric Walks" is a swinger with its own story but in places, it seems a cousin to Gillespie's "Woody 'n You," harmonically speaking. The rhythm section is tightly-knit and inspiring to the soloists, all of whom sparkle brightly.

"Midnight Mambo" by Turrentine has an appropriate dancing quality. Both horns and Clark exhibit rhythmic freeness in their stints with Sonny weaving in some mambo motifs among his longer-lined phrases.

Turrentine and Rouse drop out on the only ballad, Eddie De Lange's warmly caressing "Deep in a Dream." Warren's bow underlines the opening part of Clark's sensitive melody statement. After Sonny's solo a surprise guest demonstrates that he has lost none of the skill which made him one of the important tenor saxophone voices of the mid '40s. Whether or not you remember Ike Quebec, there is no escaping the marvellous warmth and depth of his solo here. He respects the beauty inherent in the song, at the same time investing it with his own personality. This perfect balance really brings the message across.

Perhaps the names of the musicians in this supporting cast are not quite as lustrous in reputation, but the final result is the best album Sonny Clark has presented to date. Sonny Clark has come of age.

--IRA GITLER, from the liner notes.




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