Sunday, 11 April 2010

Blue Mitchell ''Step Lightly''

Blue Mitchell

''Step Lightly''


This is a vinyl copy of album re-issued in NZ 1982 on World Record Club.
Recorded on August 13th 1963. The Blue Note original was never released in NZ.
Catalog # WC 4467

2.Sweet and lovely
4.Step lightly
5.Cry me a river

Blue Mitchell - Trumpet
Joe Henderson - Tenor Saxophone
Leo Wright - Alto Saxophone
Herbie Hancock - Piano
Gene Taylor - Bass
Roy Brooks - Drums

This August, 1963 session was Blue Mitchell's first as a leader for Blue Note, but remained unreleased until 1980, by which time the soulful trumpeter had already passed away. Ironically, it's also never been issued on CD in the US, and this 1994 Japanese edition is currently the only way to own it in that format. While Mitchell's later BN dates with his own working quintet are rightly considered his best, the lineup on STEP LIGHTLY (Joe Henderson on tenor, Leo Wright on alto, Herbie Hancock on piano and longtime Mitchell associates Gene Taylor and Roy Brooks on bass and drums respectively) offers a unique opportunity to hear him fronting what was, in retrospect, almost an all-star band.
Blue seldom composed more than one tune on any of his '60s dates; here he composed none. Instead, just as he would highlight the music of Jimmy Heath on THE THING TO DO a year later, Mitchell here focuses on compositions by the multigifted Henderson. "Mamacita" opens things in a lively Latin fashion which would serve as the template for Blue's own self-penned openers on subsequent sessions; and the title track, recorded here for the first time, has become a classic for its elegantly moody atmosphere. The standards "Sweet and Lovely" and "Cry Me a River" are handled nicely, with Hancock providing the splendid runs and solos (to say nothing of the perfectly tossed chords) so typical of his work at this time. The saxophonists too have many fine moments, but Mitchell is right out in front - and in fine form - most of the time. The brief, bouncing "Bluesville" takes things out on an up note, concluding a session which, the liner notes suggest, may have been rendered obsolete by Blue's discovery of his own musical vision - and his own unit - a few months hence. In any case, fans of Blue Mitchell and/or Blue Note as it was way back then are advised to seek out this album, difficult as that no doubt is to do.

By Andy


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