Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on December 9, 1961. Originally released on Blue Note (84105)
Working with the same quartet that cut Heavy Soul - organist Freddie Roach, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Al Harewood - Ike Quebec recorded another winning hard bop album with It Might As Well Be Spring. In many ways, the record is a companion piece to Heavy Soul. Since the two albums were recorded so close together, it's not surprising that there a number of stylistic similarities, but there are subtle differences to savor. The main distinction between the two dates is that It Might As Well Be Spring is a relaxed, romantic date comprised of standards. It provides Quebec with ample opportunity to showcase his rich, lyrical ballad style, and he shines throughout the album. Similarly, Roach has a tasteful, understated technique, whether he's soloing or providing support for Quebec. The pair have a terrific, sympathetic interplay that makes It Might As Well Be Spring a joyous listen.
All Music Guide
A generation older than the tenor saxophone young Turks who helped define Blue Note during its 1955-65 heyday, Ike Quebec's style was fully formed a decade before the innovations of Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson-and his legacy has been consistently overshadowed as a result. But while Quebec may not have been storming any barricades, his sumptuous, blues-drenched, swing-to-bop playing sounds as heartachingly beautiful today as it must have done all those years ago.
Born in 1918 and a dancer before he became a musician, Quebec came up through big bands like Cab Calloway's and countless off-radar neighbourhood bar jazz 'n' jump outfits. During his first spell with Blue Note in the mid-1940s, Quebec was the label's biggest jukebox star. He revisited the genre with relish, backed by organs and guitars, following his return to Blue Note in 1959.
Until his death in 1963, Quebec's style remained firmly in mid-40s swing-to-bop mode, with hefty admixtures of blues and R&B. It's probably no coincidence that two of the most enduring artists he introduced to Blue Note, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon and baritone saxophonist Leo Parker, were his near-contemporaries and stylistic fellow travellers. Gordon may have been a shade less blues and R&B-explicit, but Parker more than redressed the balance.
Quebec played everything like it was the blues, even the most Caucasian of ballads, like Rodgers & Hammerstein's slow-strolling title track on It Might As Well Be Spring. His tone crosses sandpaper with velvet, his lines are vocalised and plain speaking, and his sophisticated command of the changes is tempered by smears, bent notes, honks and squeals. "Lover Man" and "Willow Weep For Me" inhabit the same gorgeous territory.
"Ol' Man River," by contrast, can rarely have been performed with such furiously paced, rococo extravagance. It may have been a neo-spiritual once, but, like Quebec's own up-tempo bop-blues "A Light Reprieve," it's red-eye jukebox jive here.
Recorded in December 1961, two weeks after Quebec's first 12" album, Heavy Soul was made with the same superb lineup, and only thirteen months before his death, It Might As Well Be Spring-here in a significantly enhanced Rudy Van Gelder remaster edition-still rocks.