The Leroy Vinnegar Sextet – Leroy Walks! – Craft Recordings

by | Jun 11, 2023 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Craft Recordings releases a vinyl update of “Leroy Walks!”.

The Leroy Vinnegar Sextet – Leroy Walks! – Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds Series C3542 (1958)/Craft Recordings CR00594 180-gram stereo vinyl, 41:06 **** 1/2:

(Leroy Vinnegar – double bass; Victor Feldman – vibraharp; Gerald Wilson – trumpet; Teddy Edwards – tenor saxophone; Carl Perkins – piano; Tony Bazley – drums)

Starting with Baroque music, a walking bass line has been an integral part of music. This evenly spaced quarter-note technique has been used in folk, rock, reggae, and especially in blues and jazz. Jazz bassists are known for a variety of improvisations around the walking bass line. One of the greatest practitioners of this method was Leroy “The Walker” Vinnegar. The Indianapolis native double bassist established himself as a top-notch jazz sideman, working with Andre Previn, Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Chet Baker, Shelly Manne, Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper among many others. He also guested with rock acts like Van Morrison, Carl Perkins and The Doors. While prodigious as a session player, Vinnegar enjoyed moderate success as a band leader. One of his standout releases was the 1958 album, Leroy Walks!.

Craft Recordings has released a 180-gram vinyl of this signature work. He is joined in a sextet by Victor Feldman (vibraphone), Gerald Wilson (trumpet), Teddy Edwards (tenor saxophone), Carl Perkins (piano) and Tony Bazley (drums). This is a tightly arranged straight ahead session as advertised, with the signature walking bass lines. Side 1 opens with an original composition, “Walk On”. With Wilson and Edwards establishing a unison opening, the group kicks into breezy swing. Perkins, Wilson and Edwards each contribute  ebullient solos before Vinnegar takes over with his nimble, flowing walking double bass. Bazley’s drum accents are a nice supplement. The Harry Warren/Billy Rose standard “Would You Like To Take A Walk” is framed by the percolating first verse lead of Victor Feldman, Edwards and Wilson. After Wilson’s solo, Feldman and Edwards contribute hard bop runs and are followed by Perkins’ nimble lines. Of course, Vinnegar establishes his groove-laden aesthetics before the full sextet joins in a syncopated flourish. There have been many popular and jazz covers of “On The Sunny Side Of The Street”. This version is medium swing and features a first verse counterpoint with muted trumpet and saxophone. Then Feldman executes another deft solo on vibraharp followed by a tenor, unmuted trumpet and piano. It bristles with bluesy attitude, but still maintains the loping melody with some rhythmic punctuation. 

The bluesy celebration. continues (Side 2) on “Walkin’”. A certain highlight is the groove-infused version of “Walking My Baby Back Home”. Switching to straight-ahead jazz, the band kicks off with a reference to “Work Song”. Trumpet and saxophone merge in captivating harmony. Feldman’s is up first, soloing with precision, before handing it over to trumpet and a very soulful piano. Vinnegar manages to insert his irrepressible walking line again and the band wraps around with upbeat countenance. Bazley’s drum fills are memorable. They return to the trumpet/saxophone duet at the finish. Vinegar takes the lead on the Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne 1944 film song from Follow The Boys, “I’ll Walk Alone”. This concise arrangement showcases Vinnegar’s instrumental prowess and the band supports him faithfully. The finale, “Walkin’ By The River” is up tempo and the ensemble swings in a complex polyrhythmic tapestry. During Wilson’s muted trumpet solo, Vinnegar counters on double bass and has an agile solo. Both Feldman and Perkins execute scintillating runs. 

This is another great addition to Craft Recordings’ jazz catalogue. The sound mix (Bernie Grudman) is excellent and the vinyl pressing (QRP) is pristine. 

—Robbie Gerson

The Leroy Vinnegar Sextet – Leroy Walks!

Side 1: Walk On; Would You Liker To Take a Walk; On The Sunny Side Of The Street
Side 2: Walkin’; Walkin’ My Baby Back Home; I’ll Walk Alone; Walkin’ By The River.  

More information through Craft Recordings

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Album Cover for Leroy Vinnegar - Leroy Walks

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