Some days ago, on October 10, Junior Mance entered his 85th, more than 7 decades of which lived as a jazz pianist of high caliber. Mance's notion and execution of blues, a happy and swinging one, has always been a source of endless fascination and joy for me. It is easy to be hooked to the sound of his trios, though in larger formats, like the video presented here, most of the relaxed playing and wonderful interaction remain intact.
In April 1994 Mance formed a long-lasting trio with bassist Keter Betts and drummer Jackie Williams, the former being his collaborator since the 1950s, when they both played for Dinah Washington.
This group enjoyed various gigs and hosted several guests at various occasions who were mostly tenor-saxophonists with whom the band toured and recorded materials by Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. One of these guests was the Scottish multi-instrumentalist Joe Temperley who was only one year younger than Mance and a resident of the US since 1965. Aside from a live recording on-board a cruise ship, issued by Chiaroscuro, this video, recently digitized by me, is a vivid example of the quartet in action, filmed during the Bern jazz festival in 1997.
The group plays Jeep's Blues, an Ellington composition and a vehicle for alto player Johnny Hodges. However, in this take on the song, Temperley with his soprano sax (and in other occasions baritone) seems more into channeling Harry Carney than Hodges. It shouldn't come as a surprise, since in 1974, it was Temperley who acted as Carney's replacement in Ellington orchestra.
Watch and listen to Jeep's Blues: