Junior Mance: The Albums Collection 1959-62

This seven-album compilation forms a good introduction as well as a timely tribute to the pianist, who died in January this year

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After a long and successful career which began in the bebop era, Junior Mance sadly passed away in January 2021. In timely fashion, Junior Mance: The Albums Collection 1959-62 remembers him in 64 tracks across four CDs featuring celebrated musicians such as Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Bobby Thomas and Mickey Roker.

Mance is heard during a period where he led his own trio after having success in bands with Gene Ammons, Lester Young and Dinah Washington in among being drafted for army service. The collection consists of albums recorded for Verve (Junior, The Soulful Piano Of Junior Mance, Junior Mance Trio At The Village Vanguard, Big Chief and The Soul Of Hollywood), for Jazzland (Junior’s Blues) and for Riverside (Happy Time).

The repertoire comprises songbook tunes, jazz standards composed by his peers and pieces of his own. Despite the variety of material, his soulful, bluesy style is never too far away. In 1987, Mance discussed his lifelong association with the blues, telling Newsday: “Living in Chicago, that was Bluesville. There were people around like Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Memphis Slim; boogie-woogie players like Jim Yancey, Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons. When I was a kid, my mother loved the blues and bought nothing but blues records. When I started making gigs with horn players, I didn’t turn my back on the blues.”

On disc three, fans are welcomed to Mance’s orchestral tracks from The Soul Of Hollywood. This charming touch contrasts perfectly with the trio work which makes up most of the collection. A personal highlight is Invitation, which combines a variety of textures effortlessly whilst maintaining a steady tempo.

This would be a great starting point for any newcomer to Mance’s music, as well as a thoroughly deserved tribute to an exceptional yet often overlooked musician.

Discography
CD1: (1) A Smooth One; Miss Jackie’s Delight; Whisper Not; Love For Sale; Lilacs In The Rain; Small Fry; Jubilation; Birk’s Works; Blues For Beverlee; Junior’s Tune; (2) The Uptown; Ralph’s New Blues; Main Stem; Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup; Playhouse; Sweet And Lovely; Oo-Bla- Dee (68.55)
CD2: I Don’t Care; Swingmatism; (3) Looptown; Letter From Home; Girl Of My Dreams; 63rd Street Theme; Smokey Blues; 9:20 Special; Bingo Domingo; You Are Too Beautiful; (4) Big Chief; Love For Sale; The Seasons; Filet Of Soul; Swish (73.03)
CD3: Ruby My Dear; Little Miss Gail; Summertime; Atlanta Blues [Make Me Pallet On The Floor]; (5) Never On Sunday; Maria; Tara’s Theme; Fanny; On Green Dolphin Street; One-Eyed Jack; Exodus; Invitation; The Apartment; Goodbye Again; Spellbound; (6) Down The Line; Creole Love Call; Rainy Mornin’ Blues (62.48)
CD4: Yancey Special; Gravy Waltz; Cracklin’ In The Evening; Blue Monk; The Jumpin’ Blues; (7) Happy Time; Jitterbug Waltz; Out South; Tin Tin Deo; For Dangers Only; Taggie’s Tune; Azure Te [Paris Blues]; The Simple Waltz (69.37)

(1) [Junior Mance: Junior] Mance (p); Ray Brown (b); Lex Humphries (d). New York, 9 April 1959.
(2) [Junior Mance: The Soulful Piano Of Junior Mance] Mance (p); Ben Tucker (b); Bobby Thomas (d). New York, 25 October 1960.
(3) [Junior Mance: Junior Mance Trio At The Village Vanguard] Mance (p); Larry Gales (b); Ben Riley (d). New York, 22 & 23 February 1961.
(4) [Junior Mance: Big Chief] Mance (p); Jimmy Rowser (b); Paul Gusman (d). New York, 1 August 1961.
(5) [The Piano and Orchestra of Junior Mance: The Soul Of Hollywood] Clark Terry, Ernie Royal (t); Jimmy Cleveland, poss Britt Woodman (tb); Jerome Richardson (f, as, ts); Romeo Penque (f, cl, eh); Ray Beckenstein (f); Oliver Nelson, Walt Levinsky (cl); Danny Bank (bar, bcl); Mance (p); Eddie Costa (cel, xyl); Betty Glamman (hp); George Duvivier (b); Osie Johnson (d); Melba Liston (arr, cond). New York, October, December 1961 & January 1962.
(6) [Junior Mance: Junior’s Blues] Mance (p); Bob Cranshaw (b); Mickey Roker (d). New York, 14 February 1962.
(7) [Junior Mance: Happy Time] Mance (p); Ron Carter (b); Roker (d). New York, 20 June 1962.
Acrobat Music ACQCD7154