The Cup Bearers

Blue Mitchell

The Cup Bearers

The Cup Bearers

Blue Mitchell, trumpet; Junior Cook, tenor sax; Cedar Walton, piano;
Gene Taylor, bass; Roy Brooks, drums.

1. Turquoise [mp3] (Cedar Walton) 4:59
2. Why Do I Love You (Kern-Hammerstein) 5:25
3. Dingbat Blues (Charles Davis) 5:37
4. Capers (Tom McIntosh) 5:59
5. Cup Bearers (McIntosh) 6:16
6. How Deep Is The Ocean (Irving Berlin) 6:40
7. Tiger Lily (Thad Jones) 8:32
Cover Design by KEN DEARDOFF
Recording by RAY FOWLER
Recorded on August 28 & 30, 1962

An album by Blue Mitchell is not apt to be an ordinary one. His may not be the flashiest of jazz talents, but in his remarkably dedicated and craftsmanlike (in the very best sense of that word) way he sees to it that each recording issued under his name has something of its own to say, and is always more than just a stringing together of a specified number of tunes.

This personal stamp of specific purpose is once more in evidence here. This album might, at first glance, appear to be a blowing session carried on by four-fifths of the Horace Silver Quintet (Blue on trumpet, Junior Cook on tenor, Gene Taylor on bass, and Roy Brooks on drums), with Cedar Walton substituting for the absent leader. But that's not quite the case. Blue Mitchell is very much the leader on this date, and in ways that give it far more musical meaning than a standard, arbitrary blowing session.

What happened was this: Mitchell, feeling that many of his contemporaties possess overlooked compositional talent, singled out several whose work he believed might be particularly suitable for him, and went to them to solicit new music. Naturally, it took far longer than usual for an album to be assembled in this way--Blue saw and considered many more pieces than he could use, and those he chose were then adapted by their composers for this specific quintet usage--but I think you will find that the results were well worth the effort.

The first of these five originals is the only one written by a performer here: "Turquoise," [mp3] by Cedar Walton, who is currently pianist with Art Blakey, to whose group he has contributed several interesting pieces. Thad Jones, represented here by the blues called "Tiger Lily," has written intriguing lines before, and is a brilliant trumpeter who occasionally emerges from his hideaway in the Basie band to restate his authority. Charles Davis, whose "Dingbat Blues" is the one piece indicating any Silver-ish influence, is a young baritone saxophonist.

Two numbers, "Capers" and this writer's personal favorite here, "Cup Bearers," are by Tom McIntosh, a trombonist formerly with The Jazztet and James Moody. McIntosh, who appears to be sliding gradually into a certain prominence as a composer, is one of those jazz writers who occasionally come along, unheralded by fans or critics, and achieve currency because a number of musicians separately and almost simultaneously decide to record their work.

By contrast, the other two selections are among our finest standards, Jerome Kern's "Why Do I Love You" and Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is The Ocean," and they serve to point up how truly different a jazz piece is from a popular song played by jazz musicians.

The extension of existing methods and techniques in jazz has always implied that the next innovation or revolution is on its way in a natural and gradual way--not because it has been jammed down anyone's throat, but because the musicians want it. While that innovation is in the process of taking shape, a musician like Blue Mitchell does us the very valuable service of continuing to point out the best elements in what is now available.

--JOE GOLDBERG, from the liner notes.

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