Johnny Lytle

Nice and Easy: The Soulful Vibes of Johnny Lytle

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An aptly named but stylistically unusual set from soul-jazz vibraphonist Johnny Lytle, 1962's Nice and Easy is a mellow and heavily bop-influenced set fairly far removed from his usual blues-tinged funk. In a quintet setting featuring a rhythm section borrowed from Cannonball Adderley, Lytle trades in his usual organ counterpoint for Bobby Timmons' piano, Sam Jones' typically understated bass work, and Louis Hayes' brushed drums, creating a sound not that far removed from Milt Jackson's sessions as a leader. The secret weapon of the session is tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, who takes the majority of the solos (including a surprisingly dissonant and almost free break in the middle of an otherwise restrained take on the standard "But Not for Me"), allowing Lytle to play, well, nice and easy. The results are a welcome change of pace from Lytle's often frenetic and occasionally too-busy style, and the ballad-heavy selection is a nice balance of new tunes and a few familiar standards. Overall, this could well be Johnny Lytle's best set.

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