Saturday, February 23, 2013

Remembering Paul Weeden

From right: Paul Weeden, Don Patterson, Billy James [source]

Last week I had lengthy sessions with the music of Don Patterson, one of the post-Jimmy Smith Hammond B3 players who, more or less, followed the pattern of early Smith trios with guitar and drums. Nevertheless, he is more of a funky/groovy player for whom Smith was only an starting point from which he saw the possibilities of the organ, as a swinging (and also good-selling) instrument in jazz. So naturally, compared to early recordings of Smith (which in my opinion are among his most powerful), Patterson lacks that rich bebop vocabulary. However, Patterson, like many jazz musicians who pursued a career somewhere between the center to the margins of jazz world, has his own special merits, quite sufficient to enable the listener to stay with his music for a period of time, in my case, as long as a weekend.

Of course, one can argue that his output with Sonny Stitt are his classics, which I neither accept or dismiss. But you might have heard of a certain Paul Weeden who played guitar in Don Patterson Verve recordings of the early 1960s. If not, in a nutshell, his was a Tiny-Grimes sounding, bluesy guitarist which deserves more attention.

From right: Weeden, Clark Terry, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Jaki Byard. 1971 [source]

He was born in Indianapolis (January 7, 1923) and after years of residing in Norway, died in Oslo (July 2, 2011). In his early years, he played with other hometown musicians such as Wes Montgomery and J. J. Johnson. For the first time, he went into studio, in 1954, as a member of The Rusty Bryant Quintet with the Evans Sisters. In 1962 he played with all the big league tenor players of Verve/Prestige/Blue Note labels: Stitt, Gene Ammons, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Dexter Gordon (alas, almost all of his recordings with Dex were rejected by BN), among which I can name Boss Tenors in Orbit LP as my favorite.

An over-the- top statement by the unknown liner-note author of In Orbit LP (probably Creed Taylor himself) says that the "steaming rhythm section and an exciting organ sound shoot [the tenormen] to greater heights than Yuri Gagarin or Col. John Glenn!" Here, he is talking about Patterson, Weeden and James. [first picture of the post]

After this exceptional kick-off that should have put him in the position of a favorite or well-respected sideman, for reasons unbeknownst to me, he didn't stay in the US and vanished from the scene. His subsequent move to Norway in 1971 caused a permanent obscurity in his homeland.

With Ben Webster in Amsterdam [source]

Some hard to find, nevertheless worthy to hear moments in his short-lived recording career can be singled out: a 1968 session in Copenhagen with Coleman Hawkins (with Lou Bennett on piano or organ, Hugo Rasmussen on bass and William Schiöpffe, drums), issued by Tempo di Jazz in Italy, now a scarce item.

Just You, Just Me with Coleman Hawkins [more info here]

Hawkins in Copenhagen. [source]

Two days after this session of 15 February, he went back to the club, this time without Rasmussen and William Schiöpffe, while Albert ”Tootie” Heath took charge of the last empty seat of the rhythm section. Or why not mentioning him with the Count Basie ghost band, when he substituted recently deceased Freddie Green. The video embedded here is an example of his contribution to the Basie club:

In Oslo, he was a regular visitor to Club 7, a center for counterculture in Norway of the 1960s and 1970s.
Some rarer recordings from the 1970s to early 2000s have left after him, mostly recorded in Scandinavian countries. Also a return to his hometown in 2001 can be mentioned.

You can visit a tribute website for Weeden, maintained from Netherlands, which the good pictures you see here is coming from that source.

No comments:

Post a Comment