Mickey Tucker

Sweet Lotus Lips

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This CD is a compilation of two of pianist Tucker's projects, the trio date Sweet Lotus Lips and the septet recordings originally on Theme for a Woogie-Boogie. You get to hear two sides of this incredible pianist, from a performance and compositional aspect, but there are many more facets. The trio includes oft-neglected masters Reggie Workman (bass), and Horacee Arnold (drums), while the septet has notables as George Coleman (alto/tenor sax), Louis Smith (trumpet), Jimmy Buffington (French horn), and Curtis Fuller (trombone). Drummer Eddie Gladden, bassist Takashi Mizuhashi, and Nobu Urushiyama (percussion on one track, "Japanese Soundscape") comprise the rhythm mates. Of the five trio cuts, four written by Tucker, it's his truly brilliant pianistics that are clearly evident. He can snap off popping, boppish lines on a staccato stop-start melody for "Gettin' There," or delve into astonishing dancing solo and ensemble figures during "Return Ticket." Oscar Peterson, move over! Tucker cops an oriental sound, where he favors left-hand notes in tandem with Workman's bass on the title track, plays Cole Porter's foreboding "All of You" as if he wrote it, and waxes solo on the majestic "Portrait of a Peaceful Scene." This trio has it all going on, from Workman's midnight-blue pulses to Arnold's clever punctuations and swing. The five septet cuts, all written by the pianist, provide among others "Theme for a Woogie-Boogie," a true all-time classic, and the ultimate groove biscuit, for head nodding à la Horace Silver. Smith is particularly possessed, never sounding better, while the other horns greasily chime in during more left-hand piano-bass unison. Fanfare horns challenge Tucker's piano to answer for "Kap'n Kryptonite," strength vs. poison, while the "Japanese Soundscape" and "Bogue Ballad Bossa" go through various changes, the former starting near inaudibly and delicate before roaring, the latter a bossa but not a ballad, more a midtempo swinger where everybody chips in over 13 1/2 minutes. Coleman is most engaging on his fluttery-toned tenor ballad feature "A Tribute to Bean," echoing Coleman Hawkins but showcasing lessons readily learned by disciples such as John Coltrane and George Adams. When will the world realize what a giant George Coleman is? Tucker's discography is relatively small, but this CD combines two of his best works and many of his finest compositions, well worth the price and guaranteed to satisfy any modern mainstream jazz listener.

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