HAROLD MABERN, MR LUCKY: A TRIBUTE TO SAMMY DAVIS JR.


Good news! Harold Mabern, the unsung jazz pianist who’s under recorded and whose discography is frustratingly either too hard to find or out of print, is back on the scene. A hard bop and swinging accompanist since the 1960’s whose two-fisted attack is exhilarating (just look at his pair of mitts on the cover art), Mabern can be heard on Blue Note dates with Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley to more than eight contemporary jazz records with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. Mabern is a modest man and is the first to admit he loves the sideman role (“I just always wanted to be the best sideman I could be.”) So it’s eventful when he returns with a solo recording and here we have the wonderful “Mr. Lucky,” an album of tunes associated with Sammy Davis, Jr. Mabern had been carrying around the idea of a Davis themed album for more than 20 years and the renditions of tunes like “Soft Shoe Training,” I’ve Gotta Be Me” and “What Kind Of Fool Am I” take on a life of their own, shaped by the Mabern & Alexander team in winning fashion. The youthful Alexander plays like a melodic freight train, charging ahead with endless creative phrasing while Mabern’s solos flow with circular rhythmic energy and positivity. The stalwart bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth round out the rhythm team with a precise and soulful feel for the material. Harold Mabern is a pianist with tremendous appeal and an instantly recognizable sound that shines brightly on the illustrious “Mr. Lucky.” Warmly recommended. (9 tracks; 54:20 minutes)  

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JAZZ IN SPACE: HAROLD MABERN, MR LUCKY: A TRIBUTE TO SAMMY DAVIS JR.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

HAROLD MABERN, MR LUCKY: A TRIBUTE TO SAMMY DAVIS JR.


Good news! Harold Mabern, the unsung jazz pianist who’s under recorded and whose discography is frustratingly either too hard to find or out of print, is back on the scene. A hard bop and swinging accompanist since the 1960’s whose two-fisted attack is exhilarating (just look at his pair of mitts on the cover art), Mabern can be heard on Blue Note dates with Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley to more than eight contemporary jazz records with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. Mabern is a modest man and is the first to admit he loves the sideman role (“I just always wanted to be the best sideman I could be.”) So it’s eventful when he returns with a solo recording and here we have the wonderful “Mr. Lucky,” an album of tunes associated with Sammy Davis, Jr. Mabern had been carrying around the idea of a Davis themed album for more than 20 years and the renditions of tunes like “Soft Shoe Training,” I’ve Gotta Be Me” and “What Kind Of Fool Am I” take on a life of their own, shaped by the Mabern & Alexander team in winning fashion. The youthful Alexander plays like a melodic freight train, charging ahead with endless creative phrasing while Mabern’s solos flow with circular rhythmic energy and positivity. The stalwart bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth round out the rhythm team with a precise and soulful feel for the material. Harold Mabern is a pianist with tremendous appeal and an instantly recognizable sound that shines brightly on the illustrious “Mr. Lucky.” Warmly recommended. (9 tracks; 54:20 minutes)  

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