Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Junior Mance - NYC Jazz Record

Junior Mance Quintet - Letter From Home

Pianist Junior Mance can trace his career back to the
late ‘40s playing alongside Gene Ammons. His soulful
hands have accompanied everyone from Lester Young
to Buddy Guy. Mance has been swinging weekly at
Greenwich Village’s Café Loup for the last few years.
The crowd can vary wildly from pin-drop attention to
cackling oblivion but Mance’s swinging blues always
purrs alongside tasteful bassist Hide Tanaka. Once a
month Mance gets to bring in a full band and Letter
From Home documents a quintet before an appreciative

The band jumps out of the gate with an uptempo
6/8 strut called “Holy Mama” - the first of three tunes
to stretch over ten minutes, capturing the free-blowing
nature of the gig. Everyone chimes in with a few
choruses, Mance contributing an elegant, two-fisted
bout that shows why he is the boss. A dirge-y “Home
on the Range” finds Mance strolling solo before the
band kicks in with a throaty turn through that campfire
classic. The stop-start “Jubilation” and title song find
the horns in tight unison with tenor saxophonist Ryan
Anselmi wailing recklessly over the hard-driving
band. The dual saxophone lineup tackles Mance’s
compositions with just the right amount of soul-jazz
vigor, Andrew Hadro’s baritone proving a great
guttural counterpoint to Tanaka’s confident bass lines.
The album closes with an Ellington medley that
consists only of “Sunset and the Mockingbird” and “A
Flower is a Lovesome Thing”. The quintet slowly
rumbles through the two tunes, barely tying them
together with a lulled decrescendo.

Mance is a legend who is perhaps neglected
because he is so easily accessible. His refined touch is a
direct link to a history of long-passed pioneers. He
carries that flame well and this recording is a fine
example of his years of swinging experience.

Junior Mance @ NYC Jazz Record

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