Сompilation. Date of Release Sep 25, 1960 - Mar 21, 1962.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec always had a big, warm sound, and he was particularly expert on ballads. This 1997 sampler CD surprisingly does not have any examples of his early work on Blue Note in the mid- to late 1940s, instead concentrating on selections from four of Quebec's seven late-period Blue Note albums, a few songs originally issued as 45s, and "Born to Be Blue," which is taken from an album by guitarist Grant Green. The eight ballads are all standards and put the focus very much on Quebec, making for a fine mood album even if acquiring the full sessions (all but "It Might As Well Be Spring" are currently available on CD) is preferable.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
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First, by all accounts this tenor saxophonist was a friendly man with a generous, warm disposition, the kind given to romance and its vicissitudes. He had an affinity for the blues, that not so distant cousin of the heartfelt love song. He had a solid time feel that allows a soloist to make statements with aesthetic and rhythmic weight.
Finally, he had what has long been referred to in jazz as a "big" sound, a creamy, best showcased on tunes where the tempo is relaxed and the individual notes take up more space, are more easily heard, assimilated, digested.
Quebec's rich sound was the result of several elements. He played a Selmer tenor saxophone outfitted with a highly resistant Otto Link metal mouthpiece and what one guesses was a fairly hard reed. A large column of air, forcefully directed from Quebec's diaphragm, was essential, as was a loose embouchure-the placement on the lips of the mouthpiece. These aspects led to Ike's very natural saxophone sound, with so much breath used that it seeped out the side of the mouthpiece-that fff-fff-fff sound you hear on these renditions.
With his big sound and ability to communicate superbly at all tempos, Quebec might have seemed to be a shoe-in winner in the jazz game. That wasn't his fate. In all, the tenorman's time in the limelight was about 11 years; his creative efforts were cut short by a variety of causes, from his desire to musically be himself to the dual scourges of heroin addiction and lung cancer. Quebec died of the latter in 1963 at age 44. Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1918, Quebec was first a pianist and dancer. He began playing saxophone in the early '40s, and soon performed with "Hot Lips" Page, Frankie Newton and, in 1944, Cab Galloway, for whom he worked off and on until 1951.
There were many highlights in this first decade. Ike recorded for Blue Note in 1944, and his "Blue Harlem" was a hit. He also waxed sides for Savoy, both under his name and as a sideman with Page. His "Suburban Eyes" was recorded by Thelonious Monk. The '50s were a different story. There were a few recordings, intermittent work, and much time lost due to heroin. Then, in 1959, Quebec's old friend, Blue Note head Alfred Lion, recorded some 45 r.p.m. singles that were successful enough to lead to several outstanding albums, among them Easy Living and Heavy Soul. From these recordings were culled the alluring, resilient tracks that make up this collection.
The opener, "Nancy (With The Laughing Face)" from Easy Living' was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Phil Silvers (of "Sgt. Bilko" fame) for Frank Sinatra's daughter, Nancy. It's one of two tracks that includes the wondrous Bud Powell disciple, Sonny Clark, on piano. The other is the subsequent "Born To Be Blue," a Mel Torme line that has long been a favored tune with jazzmen.
"The Man I Love," included on Heavy Soul, finds Ike with one of his stalwart accompanists, the imaginative organist Freddie Roach. Here the tenorman shows two sides of his artistry, with the leisurely opening statement, and then the swing-tempoed solo passage, where Quebec's dynamic swing-meets-bop approach is displayed. Roach is also on hand for the timeless "Loverman," which is followed by Ann Ronnell's "Willow Weep For Me", which is as much a blues as a ballad.
The last four tracks were initially issued as 45s. The not-often-heard "If I Could Be With You" is delivered with the brief verse and is sumptuous. So is "Everything Happens To Me," where Quebec, as always, never rushes, letting the notes come and go naturally. "Imagination" is a haunting love song that is ideal for Quebec. And though the closing "There Is No Greater Love" is often heard at a brisk tempo, here Quebec offers it at the pace of molasses oozing downhill, and it is a complete delight. Sad it is that Ike Quebec's time here was so brief; glad it is that he played so wonderfully, with so much feeling, and that we have these selections to enchant us.