March 6, 2015

Kenny Dorham - Whistle Stop (1961)

I was going to call Whistle Stop the weak one out of Kenny Dorham's Blue Note albums, but after a more focused re-listen I realize that I can't put that label on it. After all, how can an album with the Blue Train rhythm section be a weak record? Kenny Drew, Philly Joe, and Paul Chambers are the key components in making this a great section. Dorham sounds good, but as good as the rhythm section is, it's not one that takes him to his full potential. His playing is slightly above average early 60s Blue Note before he found his young partner Joe Henderson and revived his steamy Caribbean feel. Mobley is cool, nothing to write home about, but certainly isn't a detriment to the album with his bluesy solos either. The rhythm section though, awesome stuff. Kenny Drew is a warmer and gentler hard bop pianist than his contemporaries Wynton Kelly and Sonny Clark, and fits the paced mellow swing Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers had been perfecting over the years. Even though it isn't as identifiable in the Blue Note catalog as Una Mas or Afro-Cuban, Whistle Stop makes for some great hard bop listening if you're a fan of any of these guys.


Whistle Stop