Scott Yanow // LA Jazz Scene (août 2022)

Pianist, composer and bandleader Horace Tapscott (1934-99) was a jazz giant who, due to his decision to spend most of his career based in Southern California, never received the recognition that he deserved. He could have become much more famous moving to New York, but he preferred to stay in the L.A. area where he worked in the local music community and groomed young talents. During his lifetime, he was beloved but made fewer recordings than one would hope, particularly by his classic trio with bassist Roberto Miranda and drummer Fritz Wise.Fortunately during the past decade, several “new” Tapscott recordings have been discovered and released, particularly by the Dark Tree label. Legacies For Our Grandchildren, which was recorded at Catalina Bar & Grill on Dec. 19-20, 1995 (co-produced by Don Snowden, David Keller and Tapscott), documents the pianist’s working quintet of the time. In addition to Tapscott, Miranda and Wise, the group features Michael Sessions on alto, tenor and soprano, trombonist Thurman Green, and (on three of the six selections) singer Dwight Trible. Sessions, who could be quite adventurous in his solos, provided an excellent contrast to the more bop-based Green; they were very good for each other.

This CD begins with “Ballad For Deadwood Dick” which has an extensive alto solo from Sessions, some down-to-earth playing by Green, and a fine statement from Tapscott. “Motherless Child” has effective singing by Trible, a solid example of Tapscott’s highly original playing, a solo from Green that could have been created by J.J. Johnson or Curtis Fuller, and a bowed statement by Miranda.” Breakfast At Bongo’s,” the lengthiest piece at 17 minutes, is classic forward-looking hard bop with each of the five musicians getting moments in the spotlight; it builds and builds in momentum and intensity as it progresses. Dwight Trible also sings on the joyful “Close To Freedom” (which has Tapscott sounding surprisingly close to Thelonious Monk at times) and “Little Africa” while “The Theme” is a wild uptempo romp for the trio.

In addition to his solos, one of the joys of this set is getting to hear Horace Tapscott accompanying other soloists, adding just the right notes and punctuations to uplift the music. The result is one of his finest all-round recordings, a highly recommended set available from www.darktree-records.com.

 

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