Of tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec's six Blue Note albums from the 1961-62 period, this is the definitive one. The CD reissue (which adds "new" versions of "That Old Black Magic" and "It's All Right With Me" to the original LP program) mostly features Quebec in a quartet with guitarist Grant Green, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones; "Count Every Star" has Quebec joined by Green, pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes. Although some of the renditions are medium-tempo swingers, it is the soulful ballad versions of "Blue and Sentimental" and "Don't Take Your Love from Me" that are most memorable.
All Music Guide
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Over the years. Blue Note has developed a well-deserved reputation as a label which continually fosters new talent. It has not, as of 1962, slackened its activity in this direction. Newcomers Freddie Hubbard, Grant Green and Stanley Turrentine are testimony to this. It has also continued to present its established artists like Horace Silver, Art Blakey and Jimmy Smith at regular, well-regulated intervals. Last year, a new dimension was added: the fashioning of a comeback trail for deserving, neglected talents. Two veterans of the Forties who were successfully recorded under this program were Dexter Gordon (Doi'n'Alingnr-BST 84077 and Dexter Caling-BST 84083) and Leo Parker (Let Me Tell You 'Bout It-BST 84087 and Rollin' with Leo-BST 84095).
The most recent rediscovery is perhaps the happiest of all for Blue Note because of the personal relationship which has existed between the company and the musician for a long time. Actually, it is not so much a rediscovery, for although Ike Quebec did not record for Blue Note from the mid 1940s (Blue Harlem, Facin' the Face, Mad About You, etc.) until he did some 45s in 1959 and 1960, Alfred Lion of Blue Note kept in touch with him. On a Sonny Clark date (Leapi'n' and Lopin'-BST 84091) Quebec made a guest appearance on one number. His full, warm performance on Deep in a Dream was perhaps the convincer needed for Blue Note to record him in a set of his own. What followed was Heavy Sou/ (BST 84093) which served everyone notice that he was back!
Heavy Soul was done in the company of Freddie Roach, an organist who is anything but heavy; bassist Milt Hinton, a compatriot from Ike's days with the Cab Calloway orchestra; and dependable Al Harewood, the unobtrusive, steady drummer, most often heard on Blue Note with Horace Parian.
For Blue and Sentimental, the supporting cast is completely changed. The bass-drums team consists of the combination which meshed so well in the Miles Davis group on so many occasions-Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. Instead of organ, there is the guitar of Grant Green, one of the bright new lights, on his instrument and a Blue Note recording star in his own right. On one number. Count Every Star, Sonny Clark is at the piano, returning Ike's visit to his date. Sonny, however, is not heard solo.
Any other time you hear a piano in the background, it is being played by Quebec, who started his musical explorations on that instrument long before he joined the Barons of Rhythm on tenor in 1940.
Like the majority of musicians who grew up in the big bands of the 1930s and the early 1940s, Quebec has a large, rich sound and an ability to play with other musicians, no matter whether the group be large or small. The knowledge and experience he brings to his instrument are things a musician cannot go out and buy. That combination of strength and tenderness, each called on specifically when needed, is not something acquired in a few years, either. Ike Quebec is old enough to have had the playing time and young enough in his thinking not to be dated.
In 1954, when the original edition of Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz was being prepared, Quebec answered the "favorites" section of his questionnaire with Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Stan Getz. Certainly, his general area of reference would be the Hawkins "school" but as Feather pointed out in the notes to Heavy Soul, it was evident in the 1940s that Ike had developed a personality of his own. Even his occasional and most welcome rasps are different than the similar effect that Ben Webster uses.
Quebec's style has undergone modernization since the mid-40s but in no abrupt or drastic manner. His admiration for Getz is not reflected in his playing and a mid-50s penchant for Sonny Rollins (I heard him playing in a Rollins groove one night at the Cafe Bohemia in 1955) does not seem to have remained. There are times when he coincides with Gene Ammons as they seem to meet at the same intersection from their parallel but different roads. Basically, Ike is himself and this is praiseworthy in itself. His playing represents the best of a period considered to be one of the most fruitful in jazz and certainly one of its most melodious. The last quality is something that is most welcome today, both for itself and as a leavener.
Ballads are a forte; Quebec's province, you might say. Ike does three lovely ballads here, including the title number which leads off the set. As a ballad balance, he has added two tunes of his own, the swinging Minor Impulse and Like. They fall between the sentimental of Blue and Senh'mental, Don't Take Your Love from Me and Count Every Star, and the Blues for Charlie, Grant Green's tribute to Charlie Christian.
Blue and Sentimentol is a tender rendition by Quebec which will put you in mind, in several places, of Count Basie's famous version featuring Herschel Evans and Lester Young. Most of all, it is Ike, pouring his heart into and out of his horn in a moving performance.
Minor Impulse, as its title implies, is in a minor key. It swings in a medium groove with fine solos by the wide-toned Quebec, the facile Green and Chambers. Notice the ease with which Ike swings.
Don't Take Your Love from Me is a seldom-played ballad from the '40s which Quebec happily revives. Ike's closing solo, after Green has made his point, demonstrates how he can be interesting at even the slowest tempo, a tempo which might drag in less capable hands.
Blues for Charlie is cast in a deep-dish blues mold by Green who sets the stage for Quebec's powerful statement with a poignant solo of his own. Talk about real soul-Ike's is the genuine article.
Like is a lively swinger whose chord structure sounds reminiscent of the Sposi'n' sequence. Quebec and Green move straight ahead, propelled strongly by Jones and Chambers.
Green's clear, singing single-line opens Count Every Star with Clark filling in quietly behind him. This is really Grant's vehicle for Quebec only has a short, albeit effective, solo before the guitarist returns.
Speaking of returns, it must be obvious to all by now that Ike's comeback is one of the most welcome in a long time. For those of you who have been laboring under the misapprehension that Quebec was in Canada, let me give you a little geography lesson. Montreal may be in Quebec, but Quebec is in New York and Blue Note's got him. Ike's got rhythm. Who could ask for anything more?
Note: Ike Quebec's version of "Blue And Sentimental" has insured this album's entry into jazz history. But it is also fascinating for the sparse setting of guitar, bass and drums set against Ike's magnificent big sound. Two standards "That Old Black Magic' and "It's Alright With Me" from this session are issued here for the first time. It is likely that either Ike or Alfred Lion did not consider them up to par with the rest of the session because the original album release included "Count Every Star," which was actually done a week later at a Grant Green session. Nevertheless, with the luxury of historical perspective, these two discoveries are fine additions to this classic album.