Rickey Kelly – Limited Stops Only – Pure Pleasure Records

by | Jul 30, 2021 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Rickey Kelly – Limited Stops Only – Nimbus Records NS-3146 (1983)/Pure Pleasure Records (2021) 180-gram stereo vinyl ****1/2:

West Coast vibraphonist shines on this vinyl re-master of a 1983 recording. 

(Rickey Kelly – vibraphone; David E. Tillman – acoustic piano; Sherman Ferguson – drums; James Leary III – double bass; Dadisi Komolafe – flute)

San Francisco vibraphonist Rickey Kelly has managed to endure in the challenging world of jazz. Like many before him, he needed a day job to financially support himself and his family. After jamming with the legendary Bobby Hutcherson, Kelly moved to Los Angeles to study and refine his craft. He founded the avant-garde Roots Of Jazz group and moved to Amsterdam. When, he returned, his first solo recording My Kind Of Music was released. Additionally, he became an in-demand session and touring player for Sun Ra, Kenny Burrell, The Jazz Crusaders, Billy Higgins, Hubert Laws, Ahmad Jamal and Marvin Gaye. In 1983, Limited Stops Only became his most accessible recording. Released on Nimbus Records, it featured a stellar quintet with David E. Tillman (piano), Sherman Ferguson (drums), James Leary III (bass) and Dadisi Komolafe (flute).

Pure Pleasure Records has released a 180-gram vinyl limited edition of Limited Stops Only. With a collection of original compositions and covers from legendary songwriters, these six tracks  showcase the unique talents of Kelly. It is a celebration of jazz ensemble with a hard bop edge. Side One opens with an original composition, “Distant Vibes”. This explosive jam begins with a unison vamp (slightly modulated) infused with Latin motif. Kelly takes the first solo and it is incendiary, anchored by the rhythm section. Komolafe’s flute is equally tempo-based and soars with crispness, propelled by a galloping double bass.Tillman sustains the relentless instrumental statement with his piano solo. The first track sets the tone for the entire album. Next up is a cover of tenor saxophonist Rickey Ford’s medium swing “Flying Colors”. Again the arrangement features Latin breaks and punctuated tempos. Kelly leads off again with assured, fluid runs as Tillman trades off before his dynamic solo with active, graceful right-hand notation. Kelly transforms Jerome Kern’s popular standard “Yesterdays” into straight ahead jazz. Many jazz artists (Charles Mingus, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Billie Holiday and Sonny Rollins to name a few) have covered this tune with a jazzier resonance. Komolafe  offers a jaunty flute and hands it over to Leary for a spirited double bass solo against hushed piano chords. Kelly continues the high-voltage execution with his remarkable play. A compelling repeat coda (with rumbling drum) is magnetic.

Side Two is elevated by iconic jazz songwriting. It seems natural that Kelly would cover Bobby Hutcherson. “Same Shame” exudes  a slower, atmospheric resonance. There are hypnotic grooves and the vibraphonists captures the melodic nuances in an ethereal take. There is harmonic counterpoint and sonic details like echo on the vibes and flute vibrato are captivating. A certain highlight is the 8:15 version of Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance”. Returning to vibes/flute lead, the accelerated tempo provides freer instrumentation and swirling accents. Kelly offers two dazzling solos, and Tillman’s delicate phrasing complements the band leader. There are syncopated accents and a slow-fade ending. The finale (Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”) is a definite change-of-pace. Kelly brings his discernible instrumental skills to balladry, often in duet with Leary on bowed and traditional bass. Ferguson adds some articulate brush work to frame this trio interpretation. It is a nice contrast and fitting conclusion.

Pure Pleasure Records has done its customary superior job in re-mastering Limited Stops Only to 180-gram vinyl. The mix is evenly balanced with good stereo separation. The tonality and studio effects of the vibraphone  are rendered with clarity and depth. This pressing had no hisses or pops.

Side One: Distant Vines; Flying Colors; Yesterdays
Side Two: Same Shake; Dolphin Dance; Lush Life.  

—Robbie Gerson

For more information, please visit vendor Acoustic Sounds website:

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Rickey Kelly - Limited Stops Only, Album Cover

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