Never let it be said that Mike Clark isn't one of jazz's more versatile and broad-minded drummers. Best known for his association with Herbie Hancock's Headhunters in the 1970s, Clark has had his share of fusion and jazz-funk experience. But he is just as capable of playing in straight-ahead situations, which is what Clark usually does on Give the Drummer Some. Recorded and released in 1989, this post-bop/hard bop CD was Clark's first album as a leader. Those who heard Give the Drummer Some were surprised that it took him so long to record an album under his own name, but better late than never. This release finds the artist leading an acoustic-oriented sextet that includes tenor saxman Ricky Ford, trumpeter Jack Walrath, guitarist Jack Wilkins, pianist Neal Kirkwood, and bassist Chip Jackson. All of the musicians don't play on all of the tunes, and when Ford, Kirkwood, and/or Walrath lays out, the sextet becomes a quintet or quartet. Nonetheless, an ensemble sound often prevails -- one that tends to recall Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Blakey, like Tony Williams and Max Roach, was among Clark's influences, and the Jazz Messengers influence asserts itself on hard swinging numbers like Jackson's "Is There a Jackson in the House?" and Walrath's "Mutants of Metaluma." Equally Messengers minded are aggressive performances of Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia." The only time Give the Drummer Some detours into jazz-funk is on Wilkins' gritty "Dr. J"; for the most part, Clark and his colleagues keep things straight-ahead on this solid and rewarding CD.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson