GARVIN BUSHELL & FRIENDS                                                                                                   One Steady Roll                                                                                                                         Delmark DE 250

Bushell – clt/bassoon; Richard Hadlock – ss; Ray Skjelbred – pno; Stu Wilson – bs; Leon Oakley – crt (5, 9, 10); Barbara Ashley – vo (2, 6, 8): Alameda, CA – 3 May, 1982.

Sweet Chorus/Memories of You/ Blues for the Twentieth Century. Part 1 /Blues for the Twentieth Century – Part 2/I Never Knew/Willow Tree/I’m Getting Sentimental Over You/I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good)/My Daddy Rocks Me (with One Steady Roll)/I Want to be Happy/Si Tu Vois Ma Mere (I Remember When). [TT: 53:30].

Bushell shouldn’t be an unknown to readers of this journal; he played with everyone, from Mamie Smith to Gil Evans, with Jelly Roll Morton, Cab Calloway, and John Coltrane and just about anyone else in between! There’s GOTTA be someone that you like in there! He also wrote JAZZ FROM THE BEGINNING, a fine autobiography (with Mark Tucker) that belongs on everyone’s shelf. He is, in a real sense, representative of what a REAL jazz musician actually is – a working craftsman who is also an artist; he lacks the “romantic” bull shit that surrounds so many of the tragic figures in jazz (and blues) and just got on with the job. This album is a souvenir of one time he just “got on with the job” in 1982 on The Left Coast in a band/show/recording session put together by reed player Dick Hadlock (a name that should ring most of your bells!).

Bushell is mainly on clarinet here, with Hadlock on soprano in what one-time member the late Stanley Dance would have called a small group “mainstream” session, not “trad” or Dixie by any stretch of the imagination. The album is a smooth-sounding collection (NOT “smooth jazz”, mind!) – the vocalist is merely competent and could have been left at home (n.b. – I’m not a great lover of so-called “jazz singers”, a category that borders on oxymoron status to these ears), but otherwise the individual performances are lovely. I especially like Ray Skjelbred’s appropriate pianistics. A fine collection of good tunes played by some pros, some older than others, all at the top of their game. Garvin Bushell’s playing is absolutely “there”… this one is definitely a “keeper”. Wonder why it took so long to find release?!


PUBLISHED: IAJRC JOURNAL; Vol 43, No 1; March 2010 – p. 76.

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