Big John Patton

Blue Planet Man

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Though Big John Patton isn't the innovator that Larry Young was, it would be a mistake to think of him as being strictly a soul-jazz player. Patton can get funky, to be sure, but he hasn't been afraid to venture into post-bop territory and take the Hammond B-3 away from traditional soul-jazz settings. Recorded when the organist was 57, Blue Planet Man is an unpredictable set that ranges from grits-and-gravy soul-jazz to more intellectual post-bop. Patton gets into a funky, down-home soul-jazz groove on "Funky Mama," and vocalist Rorie Nichols has a very R&B-minded cameo on "What's Your Name?." Yet Patton is very Thelonious Monk-ish on the angular "Popeye" and is just as cerebral on "Bama" and Archie Shepp's "U-Jaama." In fact, one of the CD's main soloists is alto saxman John Zorn, who is primarily known for playing avant-garde and free jazz. Not one of Patton's essential releases, Blue Planet Man is definitely enjoyable and well-intended -- the album reminds us that Patton can hardly be considered one-dimensional.

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