Review - Blowin' in From Chicago

Artist: Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore

In the late '50s, "blowing sessions" that featured Blue Note and Prestige artists were quite common. Designed primarily to showcase the abilities of a blazing tenor player without his regular band, these sessions were upbeat and loose, taking on the air of late-night cutting contests. The success of a 1956 album from Chicago tenor player Johnny Griffin ("Introducing Johnny Griffin") inspired Blue Note in 1957 to not only release another Griffin blowing session (titled, wittily enough, "A Blowing Session") but also a double-tenor session from Chicagoans Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore. Both players were young at the time, and their fire burns through all these seven tracks. Though Gilmore was already making a name for himself with Sun Ra's Arkestra (a role he would maintain brilliantly for nearly 40 years), Jordan was a largely unsung studio man. Still, as composer of both "Evil Eye" and "Bo-Till" -- this session's melodic high points -- it was clear even then that he was more than just a gutbucket saxman. With rhythmic accompaniment from Curly Russell and Art Blakey and the typically classy piano work of Horace Silver, this meeting maintains a looseness that allows Gilmore and Jordan to shine on their instruments and never devolves into a competition. Though a less-heralded Blue Note moment -- even among the somewhat lower caste of blowing sessions -- this album is still a strong one. After a long absence on CD, it's remastered return is welcome.

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