Ray Charles Presents David "Fathead" Newman

Ray Charles Presents David "Fathead" Newman

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Ray Charles - piano

David Newman - alto saxophone, tenor saxophone

Bennie Crawford (baritone saxophone), Marcus Belgrave (trumpet), Edgar Willis (double bass), Milton Turner (drums)

Written by Paul Mitchell (A1), Bennie Hank Crawford (A2, A4, B1), David  Newman (B2), Fred E. Ahlert (B3), Roy Turk (B3), Chano Pozo (B4)

 

1 LP, standard sleeve

Original analog Master tape : YES

Heavy Press : 180g

Record color : black

Speed : 33 RPM

Size : 12'’

Stereo

Studio

Record Press : Pallas

Label : Speakers Corner

Original Label :  Atlantic

Recording: November 1958 at Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, by Tom Dowd

Production: Nesuhi Ertegun & Jerry Wexler

Originally released in 1959

 

Tracks : 

Side A :

  1. Hard Times
  2. Weird Beard
  3. Willow Weep For Me
  4. Bill For Bennie

Side B :

  1. Sweet Eyes
  2. Fathead
  3. Mean To Me
  4. Tin Tin Deo

 

Reviews :

« The talented David Newman, who alternates on this album between tenor and alto, made his debut as a leader at this session. Since he was in Ray Charles' band at the time, Newman was able to use Charles on piano along with Hank Crawford (here called "Bennie Crawford") on baritone, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, bassist Edgar Willis, and drummer Milt Turner. The music is essentially soulful bebop, with the highlights including "Hard Times," "Fathead," "Mean to Me," and "Tin Tin Deo." Everyone plays well and this was a fine start to David "Fathead" Newman's career. This historic set was issued on CD by Collectables in 2005. » AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow

Atlantic Records revolutionized the music industry. Among the many achievements of the label was producing soul, jazz and r & b acts. By 1958, they were the second largest jazz label with acts like John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Les McCann and Herbie Mann. But Atlantic was instrumental in combining jazz with rhythm and blues. Perhaps the greatest purveyor of this genre was Ray Charles. Texan saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman was influenced by jump blues (Louis Jordan). He teamed with Charles in 1951 and became a staple of the orchestra. His 8 and 12-bar solos (“Lonely Town”, “Swanee River Rock”, “The Right Time” and “Unchain My Heart”) became synonymous with Charles’ Atlantic sound. Newman’s instinctive chops would elevate him beyond the status of sideman and soloist. Over his career, he recorded 38 albums as a bandleader. He scored films and did session work for a veritable “who’s who” of jazz, r & b, rock and pop artists.

Speakers Corner has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of Newman’s debut album. Ray Charles Presents Fathead Newman is stellar with an all-star group of musicians (Ray Charles/piano; Bennie Crawford/baritone saxophone; Marcus Belgrave/trumpet; Edgar Willis/ double bass; Milton Turner/drums) that provides 37 minutes of soulful jazz exuberance. Engineered by stereo pioneer Tom Dowd, this is Atlantic fidelity at its finest. Side One opens with Paul Mitchell’s “Hard Times” as pianist Ray Charles’ bluesy intro leads into the easy swing of this Bennie Crawford arrangement. Newman leads on alto with a saucy vamp and takes the first solo with soulful articulation. Charles is eloquent on piano with expressive right hand notation. Marcus Belgrave adds some flair on trumpet before the ensemble returns. Crawford (who arranged six of the eight tracks) embraces a larger Cannonball Adderley “Work Song” vibe on “Weird Beard”. In succession, Newman (on tenor) and Crawford distill the muscular, “blue soul” essence of jazz. Belgrave contributes a pointed run before Charles lays down some precise riffs that are reminiscent of Count Basie phasing. After a very brief stride piano, Newman delivers a poignant late-night moody alto sax on “Willow Weep For Me”. His use of vibrato is compelling. Belgrave follows with flowing agility as Charles takes over the chorus. The sextet picks it up considerably on the jump swing opus, “Bill For Bennie”. The staccato dynamics include saxophone/trumpet counterpoint and a ravishing solo by Crawford.

Side Two easily maintains the artistic momentum. A unison lead kicks off ”Sweet Eyes” (a third Crawford song). This jam is more jump/jazz and Newman just swings on tenor. Crawford and Belgrave add grit to their solos and Brother Ray excels on a bop-like piano run. “Fathead” (written and arranged by Newman) is a walk on the wilder side of r & b jazz. Drummer Milton Turner owns the crisp tempo breaks staying in lockstep with double bassist Edgar Willis. Charles stretches out on his solo, but like the other soloists, mangos to operate in the overall group context. It would be nice to hear him in a trio setting. “Mean To Me’ has been a slower, emotional torch song, but Charles’ arrangement is up tempo. Fathead glides along on alto with tonal fluidity. Belgrave’s run is snappy and rythmic, while Crawford deepens the atmosphere with low-end baritone sax. Charles’ solo coyly touches on “Makin’ Whoopie”. The finale “Tin Tin Deo” is a Latin groove fest with Charles and Turner carving out a fiendishly, hypnotic beat.

Speakers Corner has done a masterful job in re-mastering Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David Fathead Newman to audiophile vinyl. The stereo separation is flawless with saxes and trumpet on left speaker and the rhythm section on the right. Baritone and tenor saxophone are captured with thickness and the alto’s elasticity is pushed, but never shrill. The liner notes are incisive and there is a plethora of technical recording data. » Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition, Jul 16, 2019

It is easy to believe that both jazz and rhythm ’n’ blues fans waited longingly for this Atlantic LP. For Ray Charles, later called the ‘King of Soul’, the Ertegun brothers, highly acclaimed producers in the early days of LPs in these particular genres, were the catalysts for his creativity. In Charles’s band at the time of his first live recording, in Newport in 1958, the head of the red-hot wind group was a certain David ‘Fathead’ Newman.

The eight numbers on the LP with its early, green stereo label all came from the repertoire of the Ray Charles Band, whereby they are enhanced here through long improvisations without vocals and gain in piquancy and a real jazz feeling. Luckily there was no commercial pressure on Ray Charles so that he could concentrate completely on his piano playing and perform outstanding solos. But the blues were not neglected either: ‘Fathead’ plays in the minor key.

And one can only agree with the author of the liner notes when he picks out "Hard Times" as being the absolute highlight on the LP. But it must be added that the other numbers are no less good. And that’s why the purchase of this re-release of an early Atlantic recording is highly recommended.

 

Ratings

AllMusic : 4 / 5,  Discogs :  4,14 / 5,  Rate Your Music : 3,92 / 5

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