Label : JAM // // 2008-06-08
Drummer extraordinaire Alvin Queen may not be terribly well known among
more casual jazz listeners, but he should be. He suffers the same fate
that many players before him -- reed and woodwind master Sahib Shihab
is one such example -- and countless others did: he relocated to Europe
in the 1970s (and has lived and worked mainly in Geneva since then).
Queen's résumé includes time with Charles Tolliver, Kenny Drew, Big John Patton, Horace Parlan, Junior Mance, Pharoah Sanders, Bob Berg, Bennie Wallace, and Leon Thomas,
to name a few. In addition to his various playing gigs, Queen owned a
label for a while that made some truly fine records, including Soul Connection, Big John Patton's only date as a leader during the 1980s. Jammin' Uptown was recorded and released on Nilva in 1985. This date features a stellar band comprised of then-Young Lions such as Terence Blanchard on trumpet and trombonist Robin Eubanks. Completing the front line is Emmanuel "Manny" Boyd, a veteran of Bobby Hutcherson's and Eddie Henderson's bands in the 1970s. The rhythm section includes veteran pianist John Hicks, Ray Drummond
on bass, and Queen in the drum chair. The seven compositions are all by
band members. The music here is progressive jazz -- in other words, very
advanced hard bop. Blanchard
wrote "Europia," a poignant number considering Queen's exile in Geneva.
It comes roaring out of the gate with a very knotty staccato head,
twisting and turning on a minor seventh in three different
configurations before he begins his solo, which Boyd
follows on tenor. These are steamy, pushed-to-the-margin affairs,
fueled by the stomping rhythm section -- Queen's breaks are especially
fine and Hicks' brief solo is all drama and tension, but it all swings like mad. The title cut by Boyd struts and swaggers right out of the blues with its staggered
front-line plays on the melody. But it's not simply a blues; it moves
harmonically through various thematic and key changes. Eubanks' solo is the high point on this tune. Another notable tune is Hicks'
straight hard bopping "Mind Wine." With a head worthy of Blue Note in
the early '60s, it nonetheless stretches the harmony toward something
that could have been performed by the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.
His own dazzling solo is one of the album's many high points. Everyone
is in excellent form here -- the execution and fluid rhythms complement
the complex arrangements quite well and Queen truly shines in the
spotlight as a drummer of real consequence. [Justin Time's Just a
Memory imprint reissued this date on CD in 2008. The CD version
contains a live bonus track in the middle of the album: Queen's solo
showcase "Hear Me Drummin'," which is just stellar.]
|05||Hear Me Drummin||7:23|
|06||Resolution Of Love||6:39|