Kenny Drew

(Blue Note)


Kenny Drew, piano; Hank Mobley, tenor sax; Freddie Hubbard, trumpet;
Sam Jones, bass; Louis Hayes, drums.

1. Undercurrent (Kenny Drew) 7:16
2. Funk-Cosity (Kenny Drew) 8:25
3. Lion's Den [mp3] (Kenny Drew) 4:53
4. The Pot's On (Kenny Drew) 6:05
5. Groovin' The Blues (Kenny Drew) 6:19
6. Ballade (Kenny Drew) 5:29
Produced by ALFRED LION
Cover Photo by FRANCIS WOLFF
Cover Design by REID MILES
Recording by RUDY VAN GELDER
Recorded on December 11, 1960,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

The quintet that plays Kenny Drew's music here had never worked as a unit before the recording but the tremendous cohesion and spirit far outdistances many of today's permanent groups in the same genre. Of course, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes have been section mates in Cannonball Adderley's quintet since 1959 and this explains their hand-in-glove performance. With Drew, they combine to form a rhythm trio of unwavering beat and great strength.

The two hornmen are on an inspired level throughout. Hank Mobley has developed into one of our most individual and compelling tenor saxophonists. His sound, big and virile, seems to assert his new confidence with every note. Mobley has crystallized his own style, mixing continuity of ideas, a fine sense of time and passion into a totality that grabs the listener and holds him from the opening phrase.

Freddie Hubbard is a youngster but his accomplished playing makes it impossible to judge him solely from the standpoint of newcomer. This is not to say that he is not going to grow even further as a musician but that he has already reached a level of performance that takes some cats five more years to reach. Others never even get there. This is the second opportunity Blue Note listeners have had to hear Hubbard and Mobley in tandem. The first time was in Freddie's Going' Up.

The insinuating pattern that Drew rumbles under the statement of the horns explains the name of the opening, title-number "Undercurrent." The tremendous excitement starts right there and bursts into full flame with Mobley's solo. The level of intensity continues right through the fiery Hubbard, fantastically fleet (but meaty) Drew and the exchanges with the intelligently explosive Hayes. "Undercurrent" sets a standard that is maintained throughout the album. It gets you into a good groove and the group keeps your there until you are gently placed into reflecive calm by the poignant "Ballade."

Like "Undercurrent," "Funk-cosity" is a minor key song but of different character. The tempo is medium and the groove is natural funk. This time Hubbard leads off and Mobley is second. Both sing out loud and clear in logically developed, warmly felt solos. Drew shows that he has absorbed the stylistic changes that Horace Silver brought about during the last decade without radically altering his own personality.

"Lion's Den" [mp3] has no connection with the Bennie Harris exposition on the changes of "Perdido" that Vic Dickenson recorded for Blue Note in the '40s. Lion's (Alfred) den was then on Lexington Avenue; now it is on West 61st Street. This is a happy swinger which utilizes interludes of suspended rhythm to add contrast and, thereby, impetus to each solo.

Mobley's tenor springs right out of the ensemble on "The Pot's On" as complete master of the beat. Each soloist is given a little send-off as Drew uses the horns to re-charge the batteries as it were. The intensity of the rhythm section is strongly evident here. Drew is masterful as the ideas flow from his fingers in a manner that leaves no doubt that he is in complete control of the situation at all times.

"Groovin' The Blues" is a minor-key blues that is jazz-strength personified. The free, exuberant, shouting quality that each soloist embodies really hits you in heart, head and feet. Jones' short bit is his only solo of the date. Kenny begins the lovely "Ballade" (written "for a certain young lady") with an out of tempo introduction. Hubbard carries the exquisite melody and then kenny has the stage all to himself. His solo, which makes full use of both hands, is extremely lyrical and continually touching. Hubbard returns and the two horns then join to close with piano and Jone's bow underneath them.

Drew's reflections on the current scene, indicative of where his heart is, are worth noting. He likes Horace Silver and Wynton Kelly very much. McCoy Tyner is his favorite among the newer pianists and he also has good things to say about Bobby Timmons. Miles Davis and Kenny Dorham get his hearty approval. He "digs the direction" that Coltrane is taking and regrets Sonny Rollins' absence from the scene.

If you have never heard Kenny Drew play, these preferences may give you an idea of where he is, generally speaking. To really hear "where it is," just listen to his piano. It speaks volumes.

--IRA GITLER, from the liner notes.

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