Release Date: October 12th 1961
Re-release date (RVG Remaster): February 10th 2009
Availabilty: CD, MP3 download
While Blue Note re-releases of any quality seem to have stalled in recent months, "Rollin' With Leo" featuring baritone saxophonist Leo Parker - which slipped out in February this year - is well worth attention.
Leo Parker took up baritone sax while playing in Billy Eckstine's band and soon made the instrument his own. He was troubled by drug addiction and died young of a heart attack aged just 37. Along the way he made a number of fine hard bop albums, especially for Blue Note in the early sixties, and "Rollin' With Leo" is one of the best.
The band - Leo Parker (baritone saxophone), Bill Swindell (tenor saxophone), Dave Burns (trumpet), Johnny Acea (piano), Al Lucas / Stan Conover (bass), Wilbert Hogan / Purnell Rice (drums) – comprises musicians that are today mainly not that well-known. But they make a full throated and bopping combo behind Leo Parker's expressive sax playing. He gets the most out of the deep tones to be had while achieving an amazing fluidity on what can be an unwieldy instrument.
"The Lion's Roar", the title track, "Jumpin' Leo", "Talkin' The Blues" and "Mad Lad Returns" are all Leo Parker originals while "Bad Girl" was contributed by band member Stan Conover. "Music Hall Beat" by Illinois Jacquet and Coleman Hawkins' "Stuffy" complete the material.
As with all good hard bop, the emphasis is on the blues and the result is an album that will lift your spirits at the same time as it stays true to the origins of jazz.
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