Eddie Jefferson

Godfather of Vocalese

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Eddie Jefferson was one of the first to sing lyrics to famous instrumental solos, though his limited, scratchy vocals are hard to listen to at length. This 1976 session, first issued on LP, paired the singer with alto saxophonist Richie Cole, keyboardist Mickey Tucker, trumpeter Waymon Reed, and others. Unfortunately, much of this music sounds badly dated. The choice of electric piano in a reworking of Lester Young's "Lester Leaps In" (with Jefferson's solo being based on James Moody's instrumental version) is a complete misfire. Better is his hip reading of Charlie Parker's "Ornithology." "Keep Walkin'" quickly runs out of gas, a rather sexist blues. "Pinetop's Boogie" adds some variety, with Tucker sounding like he is playing a battered upright piano. The two takes of Herbie Hancock's fusion piece, "Chameleon," are complete throwaways with insipid lyrics to boot, this song is obviously not conducive to vocalese treatment. The CD reissue adds an alternate take of "Chameleon."

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