April 14, 2017

John Patton - Let 'Em Roll (1965)

The three coolest, smoothest traditional jazz instruments are vibraphone, organ, and guitar--not up for debate. I guess one could deem them 'secondary' instruments as they, while not obscure in jazz, are not heard nearly as much as the horn/piano build. This is even moreso the case for vibes and organ as they are expensive and pretty stationary pieces of equipment. Take that into consideration and it makes sense why there are hardly any organ, vibes, guitar, drum quartets. The only other date I know of with this setup is Street Of Dreams by Grant Green. My jazz scope is pretty limited to Blue Note and 50s/60s music, but even if more contemporary jazz is holding some albums with this instrumentation, I doubt they're going to be as dope as the classic Let 'Em Roll.

I've always enjoyed John Patton, but that's due mostly to the fact that I love jazz organ and he happens to be one of the very few organists on my favorite jazz label. Don't get me wrong, he has more skill than I could ever dream to hone on such a complex instrument, but he pales in comparison to Larry Young and Jimmy Smith. The grooves on many Patton albums feel pretty basic and lacking of serious depth or convincing rhythm. His albums leave me with a heart-warmed feeling, but I'll rarely listen to anything of his on the regular because of Jimmy Smith's existence. The exception, no doubt, is Let 'Em Roll. The dude is totally smoking on this record. Takes complete control of all the funkiness necessary to make any soul-jazz album successful. The greatness for a lot of these poppy sales-oriented Blue Note albums hinges on what Grant Green brought to the table on the recording day. As the most over-used jazz instrumentalist ever (Blue Note's sole guitarist during much of the 1960s) he inevitably had sessions where he blended in as just an average jazz musician, but he also had sessions where he would set the earth on fire with soul. Make no doubts that Green came out to play for Let 'Em Roll. As usual, he never sounds bad on his solos, but what's more are his powerful and punctual his rhythm chords. This puts some good pressure on the band to keep the funk precise and grooving. Green and Patton are able to handle chords themselves, so there is no need for Hutcherson to back the band throughout the solos. He sticks entirely to his own solos and central melodies, but he provides another musical angle and gives the album some extra personality--making it stand out among the plethora of soul-jazz based Blue Notes from the Duke Pearson era.


Let 'Em Roll