Leroy Vinnegar Sextet: Leroy Walks! 

The West Coaster who made walking bass his call sign takes a stroll with Gerald Wilson, Teddy Edwards, Victor Feldman and Carl Perkins

690

With his big sound on the bass Leroy Vinnegar became known as “The Mighty Walker” and this sextet LP was the first of his own albums over the years that referenced this particular speciality. He followed this up with Leroy Walks Again!! (1962), Jazz’s Great Walker (1964), Walkin’ The Basses (1992), The Walker Live At Lairmont (1995) and The Boss Of The Walking Bass (1996).

In case anyone missed the point, most of the selections here have an allusion to “walk” in the title. Even The Sunny Side Of The Street has an ambulatory theme. Vinnegar was perhaps not the most inventive soloist but Red Mitchell thought very highly of him – “I can’t think of anyone who gasses me more as a rhythm player . . . his time really makes you want to get up and dance”.

This is a straightahead blowing session quite unlike some of the more experimental West Coast recordings of the time. Teddy Edwards, who regularly worked with the leader reminds me here of Harold Land. He was featured with the Clifford Brown-Max Roach quintet in 1955 and impresses especially on Walk On and Walkin’.

Carl Perkins was an old school-friend of Vinnegar’s. He often worked in a duo setting with him and his extrovert Hampton Hawes approach adds to the success of the date.

Gerald Wilson is mostly harmon-muted which deprives us of his glorious open tone. He dispenses with the mute on Sunny Side Of The Street to reveal what we’ve been missing.

This was Tony Bazley’s debut recording. He was pretty active on the Los Angeles scene at the time but nothing seems to have been heard of him after his final session with Roy Ayers in 1963.

Discography
Walk On; Would You Like To Take A Walk; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; Walkin’; Walkin’ My Baby Back Home; I’ll Walk Alone; Walkin’ By The River (41.10)
Gerald Wilson (t); Teddy Edwards (ts); Victor Feldman (vib); Carl Perkins (p); Vinnegar (b); Tony Bazley (d). Los Angeles, July & September 1957.
Contemporary Records CR00594