14 May 2006
ROY AYERS - WEST COAST VIBES
A holy grail of jazz - Roy Ayers' first album as a leader, and a near-lost session that's simply sublime! The record was cut at the same time that Roy was working in LA with pianist Jack Wilson and it's got an approach that's a bit similar to some of the Wilson/Ayers sessions for Atlantic, Blue Note, and Vault but with a marked difference here in the presence of Curtis Amy, who plays some incredible tenor and soprano sax on the session arcing out over the modal lines set up by the vibes and piano, and shading in the record with a much deeper sense of soul! Amy plays on about half the album's tracks all of which are standout modal tunes that preface the MPS/Saba sound by a number of years, and which easily rank as some of the greatest jazz recorded anywhere in the 60s. And even the tracks without Amy are great too and have Roy echoing out with a wonderfully round tone on the vibes - no tricks, no gimmicks, no attempt to cross over to commercial jazz just a brilliant tone and fresh vision on his instrument for the time. Wilson's great too (but when is he not?) and rhythm is by either Bill Plummer or Victor Gaskin on bass, and either Tony Bazley or Kenny Dennis on drums.