Horace Parlan

Back from the Gig

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When the session that comprised the Happy Frame of Mind record was released as a Booker Ervin album, it was titled Back From the Gig. Horace Parlan, however, was the leader for the session, and the album was originally scheduled to be released in the mid-'60s by Blue Note as Happy Frame of Mind. After remaining unreleased for over a decade, it was issued as Back From the Gig, but once the CD revolution struck in the '80s, the music was reissued as it originally was intended -- that is, the Happy Frame of Mind album. Happy Frame of Mind/Back From the Gig finds Horace Parlan breaking away from the soul-inflected hard bop that had become his trademark, moving his music into more adventurous, post-bop territory. Aided by a first-rate quintet -- trumpeter Johnny Coles, tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin, guitarist Grant Green, bassist Butch Warren, drummer Billy Higgins -- Parlan produces a provocative set that is grounded in soul and blues but stretches out into challenging improvisations. None of the musicians completely embrace the avant-garde, but there are shifting tonal textures and unpredictable turns in the solos which have been previously unheard in Parlan's music. Perhaps that's the reason the session sat unissued in Blue Note's vaults until 1976, when it was released as part of a double-record Booker Ervin set, but the fact of the matter is, it's one of Parlan's most successful efforts, finding the perfect middle ground between accessible, entertaining jazz and more adventurous music.