Harold Vick ‘Steppin’ Out’

Even if steppin’ out isn’t on the agenda for most of us at the moment, this record will get your ass moving. ‘Steppin’ Out’ is a blues-driven, gospel-infused soul shakedown groove-fest that blends hard bop and soul-jazz into an invigorating brew. Tenorist Harold Vick pulled together a great band, including Grant Green (guitar), Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Big John Patton (organ), and Ben Dixon (drums) for this late May 1963 session. They’d all previously played together in various incarnations on other Blue Note sessions for Lou Donaldson and Don Wilkerson, and the Patton/Dixon relationship went back as far as their R&B days with vocalist Lloyd Price. The familiarity shows through in the interplay as they trade licks, cut deep grooves, and take you to church during occasional moments when the gospel influence shines through. But this is largely a blues-based affair, with Vick’s assertive technique taking pole position and driving the quintet to deliver a message that hits you right where you live. A stone-cold killer. This pressing is a 1993 Japanese reissue BST 84138, stereo

Grant Green ‘Sunday Morning’

I love the way Grant Green’s 4th album floats atop the room. Mixing standard and originals, this aptly titled and FANTASTIC record tends to get lost amongst Green’s better-known albums. That’s a drag because Green’s quartet, which features the Bens (Tucker on bass and Dixon on drums) along with the underrated Kenny Drew on piano, knock this 1961 session out of the freakin’ park. Green and Drew are incredibly well-matched…just amazing playing across the board. Drew is the hero of the session with line after line of melodic, graceful, fleet-fingered magic that goes toe-to-toe with Green’s propensity for single-line playing. I must call attention to the presence of the bass in the mix here which cuts through in a way that’s prominent and pleasing—if you’re one of those folks who strains a bit to hear the detail in acoustic bass when it isn’t occupying enough of the soundstage, this record will blow your stack. Great day at the mixing console by the Notorious RVG. Put down your phone/tablet/laptop, go to your record store of choice and pick up this brand new reissue from Slow Down Sounds RIGHT NOW. A late contender for my top 10 vinyl reissues of 2019, this all-analog, Kevin Gray cut, gorgeous tip-on (and heavy) jacket replica is VERY reasonably priced and sounds incredible. This is up there with Music Matters and Tone Poet in terms of sonics and overall quality @slowdownsounds