Junior Mance

I Believe to My Soul

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Recorded in New York over three recording sessions from September of 1966 to August of 1967, the soul/blues-inflected pianist Junior Mance finds himself in a variety of instrumental combinations with a variety of musical stablemates. In the first he is in the company of top players, including David "Fathead" Newman, Frank Wess, Joe Newman, Haywood Henry, and Hubert Laws. This larger group is responsible for three of the tracks. Then Mance steps back into a trio mode with Richard Davis and Freddie Waits on bass and drums, respectively. They also do two tracks, including one of the more impressive ones on the album, an Erroll Garner-like "My Romance." This same group gets together once again, but backed by strings, for a different arrangement of "Home on the Range." Mance also combines with Bob Cunningham and Alan Dawson for two tracks. Vocalist Sylvia Shemwell joins in on the title tune, "I Believe to My Soul." Regardless of the setting and the company, Mance's piano dominates with its immediately recognizable rhythmically discerning style, which was strictly Mance's pianistic domain. Even on the Latin-cadenced "Sweets for My Sweet" with Ray Barretto doing his conga thing, Mance never ventures far from that jazzy soulfulness which characterized his playing. This is a good representative recording by an artist who was never able to raise himself to the top tier of jazz pianists. This album has been reissued on CD by the Collectables label in combination with Mance's Harlem Lullaby.

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