Curtis Amy: Four Classic Albums

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Who said West Coast Jazz musicians couldn’t get back to basics with low down dirty blues and preaching solos? Maybe these cats took a lead from the Horace Silver and Art Blakey outfits that were blowing the blues in soulful mood at this time and doing very well on it.

Amy, Bryant and Brewster on the first CD here take it in their stride. Mind you, with “Searchin”, “The Blues Message” and tracks like “This Is the Blues” there isn’t much variation. Bryant proves that what Jimmy Smith did so successfully, he can do almost as well and Amy blows blue tenor with conviction and enjoyment.

We move more into hard bop territory with a blues wash on the Groovin’ Blue session where Butler takes over with his strong, supportive drumming and Hutcherson is on hand to add some fine vibes solos. This is a really good line-up and with Bryant sitting it out on this one the boppers come into their own. Bond adds a tasty bass line and some solo work all through. Hutcherson’s flowing lines add substance to Groovin’ Blue.

Meetin’ Here is back to blues basics with Bryant ramping up the organ licks and Amy sounding supercharged on tenor. Jones and Miller drive it along.  A more sophisticated mix of blues and bop is heard on Way Down; Amy’s tenor is more full bodied as he links up with Belgrave on trumpet, Ayers on vibes and a pianist this time, John Houston or, on four tracks, Victor Feldman on fine form. Ayers spins some well- constructed vibes offerings. Gales and Riley drive hard and decorate the solo lines. More variety of programming and blowing make this last session the best of the bunch overall.

Discography
CD1: [The Blues Message] Searchin’; Goin’ Down, Catch Me a Woman; The Blues Message; Come Rain or Come Shine; This Is the Blues [Groovin’ Blue] Gone Into It; Annsome; Bobblin; Groovin’ Blue; Beautiful You; Very Frank (78.31)
CD2: [Meetin’ Here] Meetin’ Here; Early in the Morning; If I Were a Bell; One More Hamhock Please; Angel Eyes; Just Friends [Way Down] Way Down; Liberia; 24 Hours Blues; Lisa; A Soulful Bee, A Soulful Rose; All My Life; Bell and Horns (81.03)

Amy (ts); Paul Bryant (org) with, collectively:
Roy Brewster (vtb); Carmel Jones, Marcus Belgrave (t); Clarence Jones, Jimmy Bond, Larry Gales (b); John Houston, Victor Feldman, Frank Strazzeri (p); Jimmy Miller, Frank Butler, Ben Riley (d) Roy Ayers, Bobby Hutcherson (vib). LA, August 1960-February 1962.
Avid AMSC 1316