March 5, 2011

Jimmy Raney's Ideal Rhythm Section

Will all due respect to some of the players on my father's albums

I've just given a re-listen to one of his most overtly swinging lesser known albums on which he was a sideman: Dave Pike Plays the Jazz Version of "Oliver"

The rhythm section consists of:

Walter Perkins on drums (yeah baby!)
George Tucker on bass (double yeah)
Tommy Flanagan on piano!

That one just sets your foot tapping and Dad gets positively groovy (for him - he was pretty laid back) on the all too short solo "Who Will Buy" with a Charlie Christian chord lick to finish. Dave Pike no slouch either. Milt Jackson's got nothing on this fella. Excellent bebop lines.

If only he could've used these guys all the time on his records! Just try to imagine Jimmy Raney on a 50s Cannonball record. That's what this feels like to me.

Below are the only 3 tracks I possess. The album is long out of print. Now bear in mind. Jimmy is a sideman, so his contributions are relatively short but great solos all around Dad, Tommy and Dave. But's it the pocket underneath that I really like and hearing that in the spaces where Jimmy takes a breath, it sounds like he's really having a good time. Little melody quotes in there and stuff. It's not radically different the way he plays, he's still doing his choice phrases. But hearing in this new context just makes me hear it differently. Plus I'm pretty sure that's the 60's engineering work of Rudy Van Gelder so you hear that distinctive sound. That makes it sound different than some other albums where frankly listen my father's solo then kind of tune out due to the missing groove that I like to hear from a rhythm section.
I'll Do Anything
Who Will Buy
It's A Fine Life For anybody not able to access the above links prior, my apologies. I needed to migrate my site to another server. Above links should be fine now


FĂ©lix said...

Wow, never heard of this one before. Effectively, rare are the recordings where Jimmy Raney got such a "groovy" rhythm section! I've got about forty records of him, and it's always with more linear players, notably the drummers. There's maybe another (very short) exception, on Dannie Richmond's "In" Jazz For The Culture Set, where he plays a groove blues (with a kind of distorted sound!), but he relies more on the percussionists who plays binary on top of the swing. Jimmy Raney's phrasing is close to Clifford Brown's one, very even, and it's quite odd to listen to him with Walter Perkins, but certainly interesting!
Thank you for this glimpse of this rare recording. I saw the vinyl for sale somewhere for a non-negligible ammount of money. Now I'm considering...!

Jon Raney said...

I had heard that Donnie Richmond album once, maybe 25 years ago. I was curious to listen to it again. Had I known it would be rare I would've had the friend tape it for me.

In terms of his drumming preference, I really don't know. He as kind of stickler about tempos and maybe overplaying so his choices about that maybe led to sacrifices in jazz feel or something. He liked people that didn't get in his way. Perceptually I think certain players hid the inherent jazz swing in his playing.

John said...

Hi Jon, I think you and I only met once briefly in the 80's. I played drums with Jimmy for about a year of steady gigs and then on and off in NYC for a couple of years after that. We had so many conversations about music, and of course drummers.. he often mentioned OC Johnson (with Zoot Sims recording) and my personal favorite was the recording of Jimmy live in Tokyo with Sam Jones and Leroy Williams.. I think he really liked the way Leroy comped behind Jimmy. I was fortunate and honored to have played with him every week for so long and he taught me so much about swing, phrasing and musicality. He was always young at heart and spirit.

Jon Raney said...

Hi John

Would you be John Clay? In which case hello!

I think he liked Leroy for sure. He was definitely fussy about drummers (I guess you would know better than me! ha) but for the most part I just think he didn't like guys to get all loud and drumcentric. I think he was even harder on bassists that I recall. So my blog post was really about trying to find the perfect balance between authentic jazz feeling and taste. Not really a fan of guys that just play 2 and 4 and stay out of his way. It makes for a missing dimension



Christian said...

Hi Jon, just discovered your blog here. Your father was and is a big influence on my line playing, period. Great to learn some backgrounds on JR since there is not much personal info to find. Not that his music wasn,t enough... I think the tracks w/ Pike presented here (thanks!) are great but not his greatest work. The sides at Birdland w/ Getz are fantastic, as is his whole 50,s period. From the later albums I really like The Duets album w/ Doug. Would be nice to get in touch, I have ots of materials from JR, here's my website adress: Cheers, Christian

Jon Raney said...

Hi Christian.

I would agree the Pike stuff is reserved. I just really like the rhythm section feel and hearing his lines in that context. I often grow weary of him "pulling" the rhythm section along on many of his records. That was really the point.

Which JR materials are you speaking of?


Ronan Guilfoyle said...

I'm late to this but would just like to say wow! Such a swinging rhythm section. Great blog too - looking forward to reading lots more of it