Pure Pleasure Records releases a re-mastered live vinyl of a great tenor saxophonist.
George Coleman At Yoshi’s – Theresa Records TR 126 (1989)/Pure Pleasure Records (2022) 180-gram stereo double vinyl, 66:49 ****:
(George Coleman – tenor saxophone; Ray Drummond – double bass; Harlod Mabern – piano; Alvin Queen – drums)
Tenor saxophonist George Colman began his career working with r & b legend Ray Charles and blues icon B’B’ King. His big break into jazz was with Max Roach in the late 1950’s. After assorted gigs, he became part of the second Miles Davis quintet, recording five albums with Columbia. He played with Slide Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker, Red Garland, Johnny Hartman, Lee Morgan, Booker Little and Duke Pearson, to name a few. As a band leader, Colman has recorded several albums over the last four decades.
Pure Pleasure Records has released a 180-gram double vinyl of George Coleman At Yoshi’s. This live album (originally released on Theresa records in 1989) includes fellow Memphis player Harold Mabern (piano), Ray Drummond (bass) and Alvin Queen (drums). This is a great night of hard bop and complex jazz. Side A opens with the pop standard, “They Say It’s Wonderful”. Coleman’s vibrato tenor lead is evocative and the rhythm trio complements him perfectly. He distills the lilting melodic vibe and brings a certain ferocity to the jam. Mabern’s adroit tempo and phrasing are equally lyrical. Ray Drummond’s double bass solo is silky and the chemistry of this quartet is stellar, especially on the Latin-infused uptick at 9:40. Billie Holiday’s classic torch song, “Good Morning Heartache” kicks off with the late night melancholy, as Coleman’s deft, sultry touch captures the heartache of Lady Day. There is a strong hard bop swing uptick that amps up the overall intensity. The saxophone tonality is stretched out (especially on lower register) by Coleman’s intense style of play. Again, the delicate touch of Mabern is excellent.
Digging into a souped up 12-bar blues (with variations), “Laid Gobblin’ Blues” (Side B) has the saxophonist in freely expressive lines against the basic chord-structure of the rhythm section. Mabern shines on a rollicking solo with forceful chords. Queen’s propulsive drumming anchors the arrangement. “lo” begins with a grandiose, almost menacing vamp. It eventually transitions to fluid Latin hard bop with some impressive syncopation. Mabern contributes another highly articulate solo with notable jazz phrasing and sweeping improvisation. Queen’s drum solo is gripping. In a change of pace on Side C, “Up Jumped Spring” (previously recorded by Art Blakey and Freddie Hubbard) features Mabern in a sinewy introduction. The quartet transitions to a 3/4 time signature, as Coleman’s saxophone swings with festive resonance. But he still invokes his jazz gravitas in the mix. Mabern’s piano is uninhibited and moves with blinding speed and intonation. In relaxed swing mode, “Father” is a straight-ahead jazz treatment with all four band members showcasing their considerable talents. Many people have referenced Coleman’s technique and style to John Coltrane. It seems natural that the final track on the album is “Soul Eyes”. Coltrane recorded this in 1957. The quartet embraces the medium swing and Coleman wails on tenor. His tonal elasticity and emphatic play are compelling. Mabern’s extended solo is magnetic strong chording and right hand notation, with unique modulation.
Pure Pleasure Records has done an outstanding job in re-mastering George Coleman At Yoshi’s to 180-gram vinyl. The stereo separation is excellent. with pristine sonic details of all four instruments. This is a fine jazz album.
Side A: They Say It’s Wonderful; Good Morning Heartache
Side B: Laig Gobblin’ Blues; lo
Side C: Up Jumped Spring; Father
Side D: Soul Eyes.
For more information, please visit Acoustic Sounds or Pure Pleasure websites