Dave McKenna

Oil & Vinegar

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The first of two odd compilations featuring the Wilbur Little Quartet and solo pianist Dave McKenna (instead of releasing the two separate sessions individually, which would have made more sense), this LP is hardly a candidate for any jazz hall of fame. If the repulsive photo on the front cover isn't enough to turn off a would-be buyer, then the horrid sound achieved by the unaccredited engineer (who possibly was aware of McKenna's opinion that his session "(s)ounded like it was recorded in a toilet") will definitely turn off anyone who hears the disc. It's a shame, because McKenna gives a solid effort on his six solo tracks, in spite of a piano of questionable tuning. The Wilbur Little Quartet, which features the bassist with saxophonist Frank Foster, pianist Danny Mixon, and drummer Billy Hart, has a somewhat brighter sound, but Little's two originals are also plagued by a poorly tuned piano and a rather muddy mix of the instruments. With sloppy recordings, lousy packaging, and probably weak promotional campaigns to support releases such as this one, it is no surprise that the Honey Dew label didn't stay in business for very long. With minimal effort, die-hard fans of either McKenna or Little can probably still find copies of this 1977 record available for an extremely low price, even though the LP is long out of print.

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