A swinging, soulful John Patton tribute.
James Gaiters Soul Revival – Understanding Reimagined – [TrackList follows] – Self released, 40:47 [3/1/22] ****:
(James Gaiters – drums, producer; Eddie Bayard – tenor saxophone; Kevin Turner – electric guitar; Robert Mason – Hammond B3 organ)
Covering albums song for song is somewhat standard in pop and rock music. This type of tribute is less common in jazz. Examples include 2014’s Blue, a note-for-note reproduction of Miles Davis’ 1959 A Kind of Blue, by Mostly Other People Do the Killing. More often, jazz artists embrace various compositions culled from across a jazz musician’s whole catalog. Drummer James Gaiters, however, is a true scholar of soul jazz stalwart John Patton, and has redone Patton’s 1968 Blue Note trio outing Understanding. Gaiters casts his revision into something inimitably individual. The result is the self-released, forty-minute Understanding Reimagined. As a sideman, Gaiters has worked with saxophonists Frank Foster, JD Allen, David Murray, and James Carter; pianist Mulgrew Miller; trumpeter Terell Stafford; and others. For his Understanding Reimagined project, he utilizes the James Gaiters Soul Revival quartet with tenor saxophonist Eddie Bayard; electric guitarist Kevin Turner; and Hammond B3 organist Robert Mason.
Gaiters’ opens with Harold Alexander’s “Ding Dong” (sometimes referred to as “Ding Gong”). Gaiters does not stray far from Patton’s original and provides a slithery groove and rhythmic rambunctiousness. There’s exceptional interplay between soaring sax, organ, and understated guitar. Gaiters also does not stick to Patton’s track listing, shuffling the classic Sam and Dave hit, “Soul Man,” to the second number. Obviously this is an absolutely soulful selection, although Gaiters tempers the tempo a bit and gives it a slightly softer and sultrier style well-suited for some finely chiseled Turner soloing. One standout cut is Sonny Rollins’ “Alfie’s Theme,” taken from the 1966 British comedic drama film. Patton presented “Alfie’s Theme” as a brisk, lively translation. Gaiters follows a similar format with quick-paced playing but extends the arrangement to nearly eight minutes and organizes plenty of space for everyone to excel, from a finger-snapping Mason solo spotlight to a melodically masterful Bayard tenor sax highlight to a fluid Turner guitar feature. Patton’s rendition of Kenny Burrell’s Latin-tinged “Chitlins con Carne” has lots of swing. Gaiters turns the tune on its head and switches it into a late-night, slow blues outlet accentuated by Turner’s Wes Montgomery-esque fret work, Gaiters’ percolating rhythmic foundation and Bayard’s somber sax resonance. Gaiters’ adaptation of the title track (Sam Gary’s little-known folk/blues song) elevates the mood back up into a feel-good demeanor and also does not wander far from what Patton offered. Gaiters concludes with Patton’s “Congo Chant,” which Patton had sorted as his album’s second tune. Like Patton’s original, Gaiters employs this as a lengthy excursion into a full band limelight. Mason establishes his B3 bona fides, Bayard adroitly explores his tenor sax range, and Gaiters delivers a mid-tempo drum improvisation. Patton’s Understanding isn’t considered his best LP but Gaiters pinpoints what helps Patton’s album work well and with some deft re-arranging has created something better than the original.
Chitlins con Carne
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