Andy McCloud III

Blues for Bighead

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Andy McCloud's recorded tribute to a friend of his nicknamed "Bighead" was cut in 1990 in Pierre Sprey's studio in the bucolic surroundings of Upper Marlboro, MD. Strangely, it lay in the vaults for ten years before being released. Playing with his regular group (at that time), McCloud leads them through a play list of his compositions. Despite the title, this is not a blues-dominated session. "I'm Tired of Talking" is a hard bop piece with Steve Nelson's vibes and Joe Ford's alto taking solo honors. In contrast to this musical mayhem is the laid-back, quite sedate "Who Is My Mother," where McCloud plays long, fat, resonant basslines, less sharp than the style of many of today's practitioners on the big fiddle. McCloud continues his generosity in sharing the center-stage spotlight as he lets guest Larry Willis make a strong, but ruminative, statement on "Song for Lou" as McCloud plucks away underneath, making it one of the more melodic tracks on the CD. The mic picks up the spontaneous jivin' as McCloud counts off the beat on the album's flag-waver, "Blues for Bighead"; kicked off by Ford's boppish alto, it turns into a blues-laden eight-minute workout of a McCloud head arrangement, with everyone getting plenty of room to express themselves as Victor Jones beats out the tempo, shoots out rim shots, and otherwise engages in percussive calisthenics designed to make a statement. Although McCloud has been on the jazz scene for several years, having worked with such notables as Elvin Jones, Jon Hendricks, and Jimmy McGriff, he has never really become a name that average jazz fans would recognize. This debut album should help change that. Recommended.

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